Those were the days, my friends. Ray Harryhausen, Ray Bradbury and Forrest J Ackerman made a joint appearance at Bookfellows in Glendale in 2008. Not only are they all gone now, but so is the bookstore. Fortunately, the video lingers on!
(1) AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, I THOUGHT TURKEYS COULD FLY. The astronauts aboard the International Space Station tucked into another technically perfect holiday meal today. Motherboard explains — “Happy Space Thanksgiving: How the Food-Stuffed Holiday Went Orbital”.
Naturally, these hermetically packaged, shelf-stable Thanksgiving edibles lack much of the flavor and flair of the dishes that Earthbound feasters will be piling up on their plates. But these meal packs are still leaps and bounds beyond the humble dinners shared by the crew of Skylab over four decades ago, when manned spaceflight was still in its early years.
(2) SMALL BUSINESS MODELING. Kristine Kathryn Rusch explains why the election was not a Black Swan event, but was one the reasonably possible scenarios she considered in developing her current business plans — “Business Musings: Running A (Writing) Business In Uncertain Times”.
The first two items in her ten-point plan are —
To do modeling for the next year of your business, you need to be as clear-eyed as possible. You should research trends for your business for similar economic times, if you can.
Then you figure out as best you can what your future will be.
Here’s how you do it.
First, you figure out what the possible futures could be. By July, ours were pretty simple. Clinton victory—then what? Trump victory—then what? Markets react well—then what? Markets react poorly—then what? Civil unrest—then what? Governmental gridlock—then what? Governmental ease—then what? Possible impeachment (either candidate)—then what? And so on.
Second, figure out the impact those scenarios will have on your business. Dean and I were modeling for different businesses. Our retail businesses have a local component that our publishing and writing businesses do not have. Therefore, our models for the retail business were different than our models for publishing and writing.
Some scenarios will have no impact at all on what you’re doing. Others might have a huge impact. Be as clear-eyed and honest with yourself as possible as you set out these scenarios.
(3) ROCKS AND SHOALS. Jules Verne’s status as a hard science fiction writer received an unexpected boost from the latest research reported by New Scientist.
JULES VERNE’s idea of an ocean deep below the surface in Journey to the Centre of the Earth may not have been too far off. Earth’s mantle may contain many oceans’ worth of water – with the deepest 1000 kilometres down.
“If it wasn’t down there, we would all be submerged,” says Steve Jacobsen at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, whose team made the discovery. “This implies a bigger reservoir of water on the planet than previously thought.”
This water is much deeper than any seen before, at a third of the way to the edge of Earth’s core. Its presence was indicated by a diamond spat out 90 million years ago by a volcano near the São Luíz river in Juina, Brazil.
The diamond has an imperfection – a sealed-off inclusion – that contains minerals that became trapped during the diamond’s formation. When the researchers took a closer look at it with infrared microscopy, they saw unmistakable evidence of the presence of hydroxyl ions, which normally come from water. They were everywhere, says Jacobsen.
(4) CAST OF THE RINGS. Empire magazine came up with a cute gimmick: “The Lord of the Rings at 15: the Fellowship interview each other”.
One anniversary to rule them all… To celebrate the 15th anniversary of The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, the latest issue of Empire gathered the nine members of the Fellowship, and asked each of them to pose nine questions to one another.
One does not simply walk into a Lord Of The Rings interview. So here, as a little Middle-earth aperitif, we can reveal one answer from each actor. For the full interviews, be sure to pick up a copy of the January issue of Empire, on sale from Thursday 24 November….
Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee)
Where do you keep the sword you were given when you completed Lord Of The Rings? Question set by Ian McKellen
The garage, or maybe a cupboard, or in storage with a ton of fan art. I cried heavily through my send-off. I remember being presented with my costume, including Sam’s backpack (pots, pans, sausages, elven rope, lembas bread, box of salt) and sword. But the most moving trophy was the wee dress [my daughter] Ali wore as she portrayed Elanor in the last moments of Return Of The King.
(5) ALIEN POSTER CHILD. By sharing this image, does CinemaBlend aim to upset turkey-filled tummies? “Alien: Covenant’s First Poster Is Simple And Absolutely Terrifying”.
Following the lukewarm response to Prometheus in 2012, the Alien franchise is aiming to win back hearts with the next entry in the series, Alien: Covenant. As an early Thanksgiving treat, 20th Century Fox just released the first poster for the blockbuster, and it’s making sure fans know that like previous installments, it will be a terrifying ordeal.
May 2017 pic.twitter.com/kseBXC8Ecv
— 20th Century Fox (@20thcenturyfox) November 23, 2016
(6) UNCLE 4E TALK AT ALIEN CON. A panel discussion about the Ackermonster:
Alien Con marked the 100th birthday of Forrest J Ackerman — writer, literary agent, and professional Sci-Fi geek who not only founded Famous Monsters, but invented cosplay and encouraged the pursuits of monster fanatics everywhere! Hear Forry memories and learn about TALES FROM THE ACKER-MANSION, American Gothic Press’s massive tribute to the man who created the term “Sci-Fi”. Guests on Panel: Kevin Burns, Joe Moe, William F Nolan, Jason V. Brock
(7) SOMEWHERE OVER THE WORMHOLE. Scifinow has it right – “Emerald City trailer is definitely not in Kansas anymore”.
(8) CHIZINE GROWS ANNUAL ANTHOLOGY. ChiZine Publications will expand Imaginarium, its Annual ‘Best-Of’ short story, and poetry volume, to include more content in an anthology that will be released every two years.
The latest edition, Imaginarium 5, will be released in Summer 2017 and encompass the best short stories and poetry from 2015 and 2016. It will include an introduction from bestselling Canadian author Andrew Pyper.
There will be a call for submissions for both short stories and poetry published in 2016 for Imaginarium 5 announced via Facebook and the CZP Website in December 2016.
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY
- November 24, 1966 – Lunar Orbiter II took a picture of the Copernicus Crater on the moon.
Fifty years ago Thursday, Lunar Orbiter II took a picture of a moon crater. When it was beamed back to Earth, the photo’s then-unique view made the moon real in a way it hadn’t been before — as an actual place, another world that might be a second home for humanity. Seeing the Copernicus crater close up mustered Space Age feelings of wonder. Such wonder is harder to provoke now, but the image reminds us: The moon still waits for us
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY MONSTER KID
- Born November 24, 1916 – Forrest J Ackerman
Learn more about him on the Ray Harryhausen Podcast.
November 24th 2016 marks the 100th birthday of sci-fi legend Forrest J Ackerman, founder of ‘Famous Monsters of Filmland’ magazine. Forry was also one of Ray Harryhausen’s oldest friends, the two having met in the late 1930’s after discovering a shared interest in ‘King Kong’.
We caught up with former ‘Famous Monsters’ editor David Weiner to discuss the friendship between Ray, Forry and Ray Bradbury. We also heard a clip of the three legends in discussion, taken from an interview which can be found on the ‘Ray Harryhausen- the early years collection’ DVD.
And in the November issue of Aeromexico’s Aire magazine, Guillermo Del Toro tells how important Ackerman was to his artistic development. (You’ll need to click on the second image and zoom in to make the text readable.)
(11) TODAY’S ROSWELL BIRTHDAYS
- Born November 24, 1977 — Colin Hanks
- Born November 24, 1978 — Katherine Heigl
(12) NEWEST K9 IN THE CULTURE WARS. Sarah A. Hoyt, in yesterday’s Sad Puppies 5 announcement, said: “….One of the things the — for lack of a better term — other side has is bully pulpits…. BUT still, they have magazines that publish recommended lists, and interviews with authors, and turn the spotlight on work they think should be read. We have nothing like that.”
However, as someone pointed out, she had overlooked the brand new review site Puppy of the Month Book Club – where the motto is Hugo delenda est.
Jon Mollison and Nathan Housley explained what they’ll be covering:
So what makes a book a viable candidate for Puppy Of the Month? Easy:
- Any novel nominated by the Sad Puppies for a Hugo nomination
- Any novel nominated by the Rabid Puppies for a Hugo nomination
- Any work listed in Appendix N of Gary Gygax’s D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide
- Any work published by Castalia House
- Any work selected by a Contributor that isn’t shouted down by the rest of the contributors as an inappropriate selection
Their latest post is an interview with Schuyler Hernstrom, a fellow who knows on which side his bread is buttered:
Editor: Rabid or Sad?
SH: Ya know, this is corny but I am actually going to pull a quote from my own work to answer. It is a bit early in the career to pull a stunt like this but it is so apropos I can’t resist:
He took a knife from his belt and cut away the flag and a length of cloth from the sleeve and turned to Tyur. He tied the thing to the hunter’s thick arm. Tyur looked down in awe.
“But I am not of your blood…”
“All who fight tyranny are of my tribe.”
The young man grasped his host’s shoulders and the old man returned the gesture.
(13) REJECTS ZERO SUM GAMES. Kevin Standlee tells how he feels about the latest Sad Puppies announcement in “Perhaps we should be grateful”.
Why don’t these people who are so completely certain (or so they say) that the Hugo Awards are washed up, finished, dead, pushing up daisies, etc. concentrate on the awards that they so confidently insisted would overwhelm the entire field and be the One True Awards That Real Fans Give for Real Good Stuff So There Will Be No Need For Any Other Awards Ever Again? They seem pretty unhappy that the members of WSFS continue to hold their convention and present their awards just like they have been doing for many years, including arguing over the rules (which, for those who have been paying attention, was a running theme long before the Puppies showed up). “Sad” is a good description for people for whom, as far as I can tell, think that the amount of happiness is a finite quantity, so that the only way they can be happy is to make other people unhappy.
(14) WELLS STORY DISCOVERED. The Guardian brings word of an “Unseen HG Wells ghost story published for the first time”.
Here’s a gothic tale for a stormy night: a man called Meredith converts a room in his house into a cluttered and untidy study, and one day asks a visiting friend if he can see anything strange on the ceiling.
“Don’t you see it?” he said. “
“The – thing. The woman.”
I shook my head and looked at him.
“All right then,” he said abruptly. “Don’t see it!”
This is the beginning of a newly discovered HG Wells ghost story, called The Haunted Ceiling, a macabre tale found in an archive that Wells scholars say they have never seen before. It will be published for the first time this week, in the Strand magazine.
(15) TRUE GRIT. An unplanned furrow plowed when the Spirit rover suffered a broken wheel may have reaped a harvest of evidence for life on the Red Planet — “Scientists Think They Finally Found Evidence of Ancient Life on Mars”.
What the researchers found was that El Tatio produces silica deposits that appear nearly identical to those found by Spirit in Gusev Crater on Mars. The discovery of these deposits in similar environments on both planets suggests life because it implies they were formed by a similar process—specifically, microbial organisms.
“We went to El Tatio looking for comparisons with the features found by Spirit at Home Plate,” Ruff said in a statement. “Our results show that the conditions at El Tatio produce silica deposits with characteristics that are among the most Mars-like of any silica deposits on Earth.”
Exploration by the Spirit rover was discontinued in 2010 when the front wheel broke, causing the rover to get stuck and plow across the ground. This mishap is actually what caused the digging that uncovered the rich deposit of pure silica, and now the discovery of the silica deposits in Chile may be enough to send a rover back to that same site on Mars.
(16) ASK NOT FOR WHOM THE CHURRO TRUCK BELL TOLLS. You’ve got mail!
@scalzi Damn it. I should have said, "I am driving through your town in a truck full of churros,," but I thought the other way implied this.
— MichaelDamianThomas (@michaeldthomas) November 21, 2016
— MichaelDamianThomas (@michaeldthomas) November 21, 2016
— MichaelDamianThomas (@michaeldthomas) November 21, 2016
[Thanksgiving every day for John King Tarpinian and everyone else who contributes to this site, which today includes JJ, and Martin Morse Wooster. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor on Turkey Day, Paul Weimer.]
By John Hertz: With the hundredth birthday of Forrest J Ackerman real soon now (24 Nov 16; do you think we’ll manage to celebrate at Loscon XLIII? if you’re in town, come and find out), Karl Lembke suggested we might mark it with the expression 4e = C.
I said (Vanamonde 1221), “Someone proposing 4e (1916-2008) may now be traveling at the speed of light (which may seem paltry to those of us who believe human identity is essentially beyond space and time; he himself was an atheist) would more properly write 4e = c, to which I only answer he was a capital fan (avoiding digression into the work of Leonhard Euler 1707-1783).”
Lee Gold said, “4e = C would be asserting that he had reached 100 … or that he was a fannish Constant (and thus forever worthy of consideration), both perhaps at least as important in our calculations as the speed of light.”
For his 92nd birthday, which proved to be the last he lived to see, I wrote (Vanamonde 809)
Anything’s possible with 4e,
From monsters he loves ’cos they’re horri-
Ble, to distant suns,
And fandom and puns,
To writing the world’s shortest story.
There have been and I hope will continue to be many appreciations of him. Here’s mine (Vanamonde 853):
He seems to have been first inspired by a Frank Paul cover illustrating Hyatt Verrill’s “Beyond the Pole” on the October 1926 Amazing.
He rang Bob Olsen’s Beverly Hills doorbell and got an autograph, and cookies. In the fall of 1929 his first published letter was in Science Wonder Quarterly; from San Francisco, where he then lived, he wrote, “Although I am only twelve years old, I have taken a delight in reading the magazines you have published for almost the last four years. Let’s give Science Wonder Stories a big yell. Hip, hip, hip, hurrayyyyy.”
Years later Olsen said, “In all my experiences with science fiction, I have never read, seen, or known anything that was so amazing as 4e himself.”
Forrest J Ackerman (1916-2008; no period after the J) went on writing to prozines, partly because his parents were more willing to buy issues that had a letter from him, a method which, like Michelangelo’s “I just get a chisel and cut away anything that doesn’t look like a Madonna and Child,” rests on a presupposition.
Linus Hogenmiller of Missouri saw Ackerman’s name in a prozine and struck up a correspondence, the first of thousands Ackerman maintained. By 1930 the two teenagers had started a Boys’ Scientifiction Club, which involved Julius Schwartz and Mort Weisinger, and resulted in The Time Traveller.
Soon came the Science Fiction League. Ackerman was a charter member. It tested members’ knowledge with a questionnaire. Asked who were the nation’s two most active fans, Ackerman replied “Remember our modesty.” This was listed as a correct answer.
A straight-A student in high school, he quit the University of California after a year and got work as a typist. He was a flame for Esperanto and, in English, for endless wordplay: he wrote under the pseudonyms Weaver Wright, Jack Erman, and Claire Voyant, and his own name took many forms, like his spelling and paragraphing, in what became known as Ackermanese.
He was part of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society when it began, and its fanzine Imagination and successor Voice of the Imagi-Nation. The LASFS adopted his colors, green and brown. His 1941 business Assorted Services, doing anything for anyone, is said to have been adapted by Heinlein for “We Also Walk Dogs” (1941).
Came the war; inducted in 1942, he moaned he would be inept at Army life, but made sergeant — adding the pseudonym Sgt. Ack-Ack (anti-aircraft guns were “A.A.”, under some phonetic alphabets “ack-ack”) — and editor of his base’s newspaper, which finished second in a contest of 2,000.
He attended the first World Science Fiction Convention (New York, 1939), where he began our costuming tradition by dressing as a Man of the Future based on the 1936 film Things to Come. He was guest of honor at the first international s-f con in London (1951), and was given the first fan Hugo Award (1953).
He coined the nicknames Chicon, Nycon, Pacificon, and the expression sci-fi — which he meant as a compliment, since at the time sound-reproduction technology had just improved to the point of being called high fidelity, or hi-fi. By 2002 his weekly open house, at his home the Ackermansion, had hosted 50,000 visitors.
He was a formidable collector: 300,000 books, Bela Lugosi’s Dracula ring, a meticulous replica of Walter Schultze-Mittendorf’s robot for the 1927 film Metropolis, a hallway of Paul artwork he called the Paulway. In 2001 a 75th-anniversary edition of the Metropolis novelization had an introduction by him. He saw the film a hundred times.
His first pro writing was “Earth’s Lucky Day” (1936) with Francis Flagg. In ten years as a literary agent his clients included Isaac Asimov, Charles Beaumont, Ray Bradbury, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Ron Hubbard, Curt Siodmak, and A.E. van Vogt. Fifty of his own stories were published, including the world’s shortest (1973). His wife Wendayne’s knowing German led to an adventure of translating and publishing a hundred forty Perry Rhodan novels.
He had cameo appearances in two hundred movies. He more or less fell into Famous Monsters of Filmland, where for twenty years he was editor, writer, chief cook and bottle-washer, and blithe spirit, leading to more pseudonyms, Dr. Acula, the Ackermonster, and probably his widest fame.
Although he was an atheist, he was an angel. He got Bradbury to the first Worldcon, long before professional success, and backed his fanzine, among many others.
He met Walt Willis in Ireland and drove him across America, a punsters’ synergy we fortunately lack a full record of. He hosted Tetsu Yano for six months, visited Japan twice, and was one of only two foreigners to receive the Japanese Fandom Award; Takumi Shibano called him the greatest benefactor linking Japanese and United States fandom.
He and Walt Daugherty founded our highest service award, the Big Heart, Ackerman administering it until the millennium; in 2006 we could finally give it to him. He was at the 3,507th LASFS meeting, as was I but he had been at the first; it was our 70th anniversary; he took the gavel and brought us to order, a hyperbole which may be allowed.
For decades he was the first person any of us met at a science fiction convention. If he was wrong, that may now be true in Heaven. Ave atque vale.
By John Hertz: When I passed a storefront bearing a sign “Esperanto Inc.”, I knew it would be a good day for remembering Forrest J Ackerman (1916-2008).
If he were reading over my shoulder he might say “But Esperan-Test was Roy Test [1921-2009].” Maybe he is. They were among the happy few who in 1934 founded the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, oldest SF club on Earth. Roy’s mother Wanda was the secretary; Forry called her minutes Thrilling Wanda Stories. In an inspired pun he called SF fandom the Imagi-Nation.
Eventually we recognized as First Fandom all those who had been active at least as early as the first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939. Forry’s first published letter was in Science Wonder Quarterly ten years earlier.
On November 17, 2016, the City of Los Angeles, as advertised, declared the four corners of Franklin & Vermont Aves. to be Forrest J Ackerman Square. This was in District 4; Councilman David Ryu was there. The ceremony was on the southeast corner, in front of Forry’s beloved House of Pies restaurant. When he had to give up the Ackermansion on Glendower Ave. his real-estate agent was told “Get me something within a half-mile radius of the House of Pies”, and did. Another Ackermiracle.
The City’s placards acknowledged 4e as “Mr. Sci-Fi”; he had coined sci-fi when high-fidelity audio recording was new and people talked of hi-fi. He knew but was unconvinced by the sorrow some of us came to feel at the scornful use of his expression in the mass media. His attitude might have been Don’t fight them, embrace them. I never discussed it with him. He wasn’t a fighter, he was a lover.
I also never discussed what he knew of Owen Glendower.
I was merely the first, by no means the only, person to remind Ryu’s staff there was no period after the J. Forry had gone to court making that his legal name. Replacement placards were promptly promised. A deputy showed me the Council resolution had written it right.
Most of the sixty standing on the corner, and all the speakers, knew Uncle Forry as the Ackermonster, for twenty years editor, writer, chief cook and bottle-washer, and blithe spirit of Famous Monsters of Filmland. They spoke of his generosity — which he certainly had — and his turning focus from the stars to people behind the camera, make-up artists, technicians. They thanked him for inspiring them to become professionals and to achieve recognition.
Half a dozen from LASFS were there too, including two on the board of directors and a former president. No one had invited us to speak, nor indeed to attend; we came because we were willing and able (must be both) and it seemed the fannish thing to do.
It’s a proud and lonely thing to be a fan. I’m not surprised that commercial science-fiction conventions run to six-figure numbers while our local Loscon draws a thousand. The difference is in the participation. Not much mental voltage is needed to imagine people must be either buyers or sellers.
Some fans do turn pro; if willing and able, why not? Some pros develop careers as fans. Some people are active as both. Forry was. But as Patrick Nielsen Hayden says, and he should know, in our community fandom is not a junior varsity for prodom.
Forry’s hundredth birthday will be in a few days, November 24th. Buy a book — or write one. See a movie — or take part in one. Send a letter of comment to a prozine — or a fanzine (since you’re here in Electronicland you might as well know, and you may already, that you can find some fanzines electronically.)
Visit fans in another country, in person or by phone or mail. Forry did all those. To him it was all good.
The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society’s Ad Astra and Beyond: The Forry Award Anthology has been released as an Amazon Kindle ebook.
The anthology features some of the top names in science fiction, all past recipients of the award: Frank Kelly Freas, Forrest J Ackerman, John DeChancie, David Gerrold, Len Moffatt, C.L. Moore, Larry Niven, Fred Patten, Jerry Pournelle, and A.E. van Vogt.
The Forry Award, named after Forrest J Ackerman, has been presented by LASFS each year since 1966 to an individual for an outstanding achievement in the field.
Edited by Forry laureate Charles Lee Jackson, II, the volume includes fiction, non-fiction, art, and even a filk song, a cross-section of the talents of those who have been honored with the Forry Award.
The anthology features some of the top names in science fiction: Frank Kelly Freas, Forrest J Ackerman, John DeChancie, David Gerrold, Len Moffatt, C.L. Moore, Larry Niven, Fred Patten, Jerry Pournelle, and A.E. van Vogt, all of whom are among the honourees of the “Forry Award”, presented each year since 1966 to an individual for an outstanding achievement in the field.
Edited by Forry laureate Charles Lee Jackson, II, the volume includes fiction, non-fiction, art, and even a filk song, a cross-section of the talents of those who have been honored with the Forry Award.
(1) ACKERMAN SQUARE DEDICATION. Although the neighbors didn’t succeed in having Forry Ackerman’s last home designated a cultural landmark, the city did name a Los Feliz neighborhood intersection in his honor.
Come join the ceremony to honor Uncle Forry with commemorative plaques installed on all 4 corners of Franklin and Vermont where he spent so many happy decades visiting with fans and friends. The public is invited to meet at Franklin and Vermont (where the signs will be installed), southwest side, near House of Pies at 9:30 AM, November 17, 2016
(2) SUPPORTING MENTAL HEALTH. Gail Z. Martin explains “Why #HoldOnToTheLight Matters” at Magical Words.
The 100+ authors who agreed to write for #HoldOnToTheLight run the fame gamut. But all of us have fans and readers, Facebook friends and Twitter followers, people who hold us and our books in some regard. And to those people, however many they might be, our opinion matters. Our story matters.
We lost so many people in Southern fandom at the beginning of this year. I got tired to saying ‘good-bye’ and being invited to wakes. It made me mad, but I didn’t know what to do about it. Then in April I saw the #AlwaysKeepFighting campaign in Supernatural fandom and how the show’s stars used their fame and their connection to fans to do something really good.
And I wondered—what would happen if the authors whose books create the genre spoke out with their own stories about the impact of mental health issues on them, their characters, and their books?
We might not have the reach or following TV stars have, but we have some following. And when people in the public eye speak out and own taboo issues, the stigma lessens. We could encourage fans and stand in solidarity with the ones who are struggling and let them know that they are not alone.
Most of the blog posts are up now, with a few more straggling in. Life gets in the way, even of good intentions. I’m gobsmacked by the honesty, the willingness to share without flinching, the vulnerability revealed in the posts. You can read them here, as well as new ones when they post.
(3) HANDS OFF THE BRAND. Beset by internet thieves. Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson calls out for “Help!”
Working in conjunction with our licensee – Futures Past Editions (a division of Digital Parchment Services, one of the original ebook publishers), we have been steadily producing a number of different publications.
These include – The Amazing Stories Best Of The Year anthologies –
Special “Anniversary” reprints –
Amazing Stories Classics novels –
and Authorized Replicas of individual issues of the magazine …
But there’s a fly in the ointment: lots and lots of other people seem to think they can willy-nilly use the Amazing Stories name to produce their own versions of the same things. Right now, the bulk of Experimenter’s budget is being spent on intellectual property attorneys. We’re pleased with their findings so far (but these kinds of things take a lot of time), but in the meantime – if you purchase a facsimile edition of an Amazing Stories issue (or a poster reprinting one of its fantastic covers) from anyone other than Futures Past Editions or this website, not a dime will be going to help fund this project. It will instead go to people who obviously do not respect the history of the magazine (or the law).
(4) THE FOUNDATIONS OF UTOPIA. In the November 4 Guardian, China Mieville writes about Sir Thomas More’s Utopia on its 500th anniversary, explaining why the utopian impulse is still important in our cynical age.
If you know from where to set sail, with a friendly pilot offering expertise, it should not take you too long to reach Utopia. Since the first woman or man first yearned for a better place, dreamers have dreamed them at the tops of mountains and cradled in hidden valleys, above clouds and deep under the earth – but above all they have imagined them on islands.
… We don’t know much of the society that Utopus and his armies destroyed – that’s the nature of such forced forgetting – but we know its name. It’s mentioned en swaggering colonial passant, a hapax legomenon pilfered from Gnosticism: “for Abraxa was its first name”. We know the history of such encounters, too; that every brutalised, genocided and enslaved people in history have, like the Abraxans, been “rude and uncivilised” in the tracts of their invaders.
A start for any habitable utopia must be to overturn the ideological bullshit of empire and, unsentimentally but respectfully, to revisit the traduced and defamed cultures on the bones of which some conqueror’s utopian dreams were piled up. “Utopia” is to the political imaginary of betterness as “Rhodesia” is to Zimbabwe, “Gold Coast” to Ghana.
(5) FIFTH! Always remember the 5th of November. Preferably more than once.
Catholic dissident Guy Fawkes and 12 co-conspirators spent months planning to blow up King James I of England during the opening of Parliament on November 5, 1605. But their assassination attempt was foiled the night before when Fawkes was discovered lurking in a cellar below the House of Lords next to 36 barrels of gunpowder. Londoners immediately began lighting bonfires in celebration that the plot had failed, and a few months later Parliament declared November 5 a public day of thanksgiving. Guy Fawkes Day, also known as Bonfire Night, has been around in one form or another ever since. Though originally anti-Catholic in tone, in recent times it has served mainly as an excuse to watch fireworks, make bonfires, drink mulled wine and burn Guy Fawkes effigies (along with the effigies of current politicians and celebrities).
(6) ALLEGRO NON TROOPER. Ryan Britt reacts to news that “‘Starship Troopers’ Reboot Will Give Rico His Real Name Back” at Inverse.
In Robert A. Heinlein’s classic science fiction novel Starship Troopers, Johnny Rico’s name was actually “Juan” Rico, but the 1997 film turned him into a white guy. Now, a new reboot of Starship Troopers will stick closer to the novel, which probably means Rico will be Filipino again.
Though the Paul Verhoeven take on Starship Troopers is considered something of a kitsch classic among sci-fi movie fans, it’s tone and characters differ enough from the Heinlein text warrant a totally new film adaptation. According to the Hollywood Reporter producer Neal H. Moritz is gearing up to make a new Starship Troopers for Columbia Pictures. The continuity of this film will have nothing to do with the 1997 film nor any of the direct-to-video sequels. It “is said to be going back to the original Heinlein novel for an all-new take.” This means that even the intelligent alien insects — the Arachnids of Klendathu — might be completely reimagined, too.
(7) BABBITT OBIT. Natalie Babbitt (1932-2016) died October 31.
Natalie Babbitt, the children’s author and illustrator who explored immortality in her acclaimed book “Tuck Everlasting,” has died in her Connecticut home. She was 84.
Natalie Babbitt poses with the cast of “Tuck Everlasting” on Broadway in April.
Babbitt’s husband, Samuel Babbitt, confirmed she died on Monday in Hamden, Connecticut. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was under hospice care at home when she died.
Babbitt wrote or illustrated more than 20 books, but she is perhaps best known for tackling the complex subject of death in her novel “Tuck Everlasting.”
…In 1966, she collaborated with her husband on a children’s book called “The Forty-ninth Magician,” her first published work. While her husband, a university administrator, became too busy to continue writing, the book was only the beginning in Babbitt’s nearly 50-year career. Her last published work was “The Moon Over High Street” in 2012.
Babbitt received the Newbery Honor Medal, the American Library Association’s Notable Book designations, and The New York Times’ Best Book designations, among other awards for her work.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY –- WELL, CLOSE ENOUGH FOR GOVERNMENT WORK
Cartoonist Al Capp, creator of the Li’l Abner cartoon strip, conceived of a day in fictitious Dogpatch, USA, when all unmarried ladies (including the character Sadie Hawkins) could pursue their men. If the men were caught, marriage was unavoidable. The idea took off in real life—and in November 1938, the first recorded “girls-ask-boys” Sadie Hawkins Day dance was held. Today, the observance is usually celebrated on a Saturday in early November.
(9) BULLISH ON TWINKIES. The official health food of sci-fi readers goes public: “Hostess Brands, Purveyor of Twinkies and Ho-Hos, Returning to Wall Street”.
Hostess Brands Inc. is expected to start trading as a public company on Monday, putting the snack business to its first broad test of investor appetite since it was bought out of liquidation almost four years ago.
The 86-year-old brand behind the famous Twinkies cakes is due to list on the Nasdaq Stock Market with the ticker symbol TWNK.
(10) MAKING OF A SELF-PROFESSED “NASTY WOMAN”. Melinda Snodgrass covers a lot of personal history to make a point in “What Trump’s Misogyny Really Says”.
In due course and after a side trip to Austria to study opera I went on to graduate with a major in history, Magna cum laude, and a minor in music. I enter law school. I was part of the first really large wave of women entering law school and in the first week the male students made it very clear that they expected the women to type their papers for them. Some of us refused. Others didn’t, they knuckled under maybe to avoid being called fucking cunts. The dean found out and to his credit it put a stop to that nonsense.
At the end of three years I graduate in the top 10% of my class, pass the bar and go looking for a job. Eventually I end up in a corporate law firm. Literally the first day I’m at work I’m in my small office in the back when I hear loud male voices in the outer office. “I hear Charlie went and hired himself a girl!” “Lets go see the girl.” And then standing in the door of my office are six or seven men all staring at me. I had that sick feeling I’d experienced back in college, but I was older and tougher so I made Oook oook noises and pretended to scratch under my arm like a chimpanzee in the zoo. They got the message and vanished out of my doorway.
(11) CASH IN HAND. The Guardian previews the merchandise: “JK Rowling’s hand-drawn Tales of Beedle the Bard go up for auction”.
A handwritten copy of JK Rowling’s story collection The Tales of Beedle the Bard, which she made for the publisher who first accepted Harry Potter for publication, is set to fetch up to £500,000 when it is auctioned next month.
Rowling handwrote and illustrated six copies of her collection of fairytales set in the Harry Potter universe, giving them as presents to “those most closely connected to the Harry Potter books”. A seventh copy, which Rowling made to raise money for her charity Lumos, was sold at auction by Sotheby’s in 2007 for £1.95m.
(12) FOR A RAINY DAY. We may not have Damien Walter to kick around anymore, however, here’s one of his Guardian essays that appeared in August while I was out of action — “Bureaumancy: a genre for fantastic tales of the deeply ordinary”.
There’s nothing wrong with being a bureaucrat. So you’re a tiny cog in a machine made of abstract rules, paperwork, and the broken dreams of those who do not understand either. So what? You’re just misunderstood. Without you, nobody would know where to file their TPS reports. Nobody would even know what a TPS report is.
But writers understand. As species of personality go, the writer and the bureaucrat are closely related: they’re deskbound creatures who enjoy the comfortable certainties of Microsoft Office and dazzling us with wordcraft, be it small-print legalese or the impenetrable prose of literary fiction. Of course, Kafka understood the true power of the bureaucrat because he was one – and thus portrayed bureaucracy as a looming, all-powerful presence. The wonderful Douglas Adams imagined an entire planet faking the apocalypse just to get all its middle managers to evacuate in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, while in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, hell itself is one endless system of bureaucratic red tape, where doomed souls are made to sit through every last codicil and sub-paragraph of the rules pertaining to Health and Safety – all 40,000 volumes of them.
(13) KEVIN SMITH’S NEXT FLASH. He’s back — “The Flash: Kevin Smith’s ‘Killer Frost’ Episode Synopsis Revealed”.
Smith previously helmed the season 2 episode of The Flash, ‘The Runaway Dinosaur’ and is set to direct an episode of Supergirl’s second season as well. He has been teasing both episodes on social media; for The Flash, he promised more action than in ‘The Runaway Dinosaur’, revealed the ‘Killer Frost’ episode title, and confirmed the inclusion of Dr. Alchemy — who is proving to be a major antagonist in The Flash season 3. So, much of the ‘Killer Frost’ synopsis seems to confirm details we previously knew or could deduce.
As for Smith’s return behind the camera, since ‘The Runaway Dinosaur’ was well received by critics and fans, it stands to reason ‘Killer Frost’ may be similarly received by viewers. Smith himself has earned plenty geek credit given his own status as a fan of comics, so it’s likely he brings a unique perspective to The Flash.
(14) UNBOUND WORLDS LAUNCHES. The Unbound Worlds SFF site is holding a book giveaway contest to attract readers’ attention.
“Unbound Worlds has officially launched, and to celebrate this momentous occasion, we’re giving away a carefully curated library of TWENTY-THREE science fiction and fantasy titles! Enter below by November 18, 2016, at 11 PM EST for your chance to win.”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, rcade, Chip Hitchcock, David K.M. Klaus, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Robert Whitaker Sirignano (who is not to blame for the dialect in the version used).]
Editor’s Note: There will be no Pixel Scroll on Saturday because I will be away at an event all day. I have scheduled a few other tender morsels to keep the conversation rolling.
(1) POLLY WANNA SYLLABLE? Ann Leckie, one might say, expounds – “On Pretentious Writing”.
It struck me because one of the really interesting things about having a lot of people talk about my work these days is that I see quite a few folks say very straightforwardly that I obviously intended such and so an effect, or obviously intended to convey one or another moral or lesson, that it was plain and obvious that I was referring to this that or the other previous work, or to some historical or current event or entity. And often I come away from such assertions wondering if maybe they’re talking about a different book by a different author, that just happen to have the same names.
I’ve also seen quite different assessments of my sentence-level writing, which I find super interesting just on its own. It’s elegant! It’s beautiful. It’s muscular. It’s serviceable. It’s clunky. It’s amateur. Even more interestingly, it’s transparent, or else it’s emphatically not going to please the crowd that valorizes transparent writing. That’s super interesting to me.
(2) DOUBLE BILL IN HUNTSVILLE. “What’s Up, Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones” has started a three month run at the Huntsville Museum of Art in the Rocket City of Huntsville, Alabama.
The exhibit is laid out in seven sections, each highlighting a component of Chuck Jones’s career as an animation director and artist, and features more than 136 original sketches and drawings, storyboards, production backgrounds, and photographs.
“What’s Up, Doc?” is running simultaneously with “My Hero: Contemporary Art & Superhero Action”, the latter showing through mid-December.
Comic books and cartoons. The very essence of childhood; words that conjure up a much simpler time in life. Waking up on Saturday morning, eating a bowl of Honeycombs cereal while watching Roadrunner outsmart Wiley Coyote yet again. Not so patiently waiting for the latest issue of Superman to see how he defeats the bad guy.
Of course, that was a long time ago.
You’re an adult now.
Adulting is hard work.
Now you are expected to have a more sophisticated, refined palate. Your Saturday morning excitement should be something more like checking out an exhibit or two at the art museum.
But what if you could combine the two?
Guess what? For the next couple of months, you are in luck! The Huntsville Museum of Art’s two newest exhibits, “My Hero” and “What’s Up, Doc?” are guaranteed to excite both the kid and adult in you.
My Hero commemorates and seeks to re-envision the lives of iconic superheroes we all know and love.
(3) AUTOGRAFACSIMILES. Someone on eBay is asking $3,100 for Morojo’s fanzine reproducing autographs obtained from sf/f pros at the first two Worldcons:
STEPHAN THE STfan. IN 1939, THE YEAR OF THE FIRST WORLD SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTION, SCI-FI FAN “MOROJO” (MYRTLE DOUGLAS) PRINTED THE FANZINE “STEPHAN THE STfan” WHICH WAS A SMALL PAMPHLET OF (I BELIEVE) 6 PAGES. IT OFFERED REPRODUCTIONS (CALLED “AUTOGRAFACSIMILES”) OF THE SIGNATURES OF FAMOUS SCI-FI PERSONALITIES FROM THE COLLECTION OF FORREST J ACKERMAN. I HAVE NOT REPRODUCED THE FACSIMILE PAGES. BLANK PAGES WERE LEFT “TO SECURE SIGNATURES OF YOUR FRIENDS AND THE FAMOUS ONES ATTENDING THE CONVENTION.” THE SCANS I’VE PROVIDED ARE ALL ORIGINAL SIGNATURES. 140+ SIGNATURES. AMONG THE FAMOUS SIGNATURES OBTAINED AT THE 1st AND 2nd SCI-FI CONVENTIONS (AND THESE ARE ONLY A FEW) ARE: A. MERRITT, ISAAC ASIMOV, EDMOND HAMILTON, JACK WILLIAMSON, OTTO BINDER, RAY CUMMINGS, LEO MARGULIES, FARNSWORTH WRIGHT, JULIUS UNGER, LLOYD ARTHUR ESHBACH, ALDEN ACKERMAN, MOROJO, POGO (PATTI GRAY), RAYMOND A. PALMER, ROSS ROCKLYNNE, EDWARD E. (“DOC”) SMITH & WIFE, E. EVERETT EVANS, FRED POHL (WITH HIS ZERO WITH A SLASH THROUGH IT), ROBERT A.W. “DOC” LOWNDES, DON WILCOX, G.S. BUNCH JR., RALPH MILNE FARLEY, JERRY SIEGEL, ROBERT MOORE WILLIAMS, JULIUS SCHWARTZ, DAVID KYLE, CYRIL KORNBLUTH, & SO MANY MORE! ALMOST ALL 140+ SIGNATURES ARE SURPRISINGLY LEGIBLE, SEE THE SCANS FOR THE REST. ALSO INCLUDED ARE SIGNATURES FROM THE 2nd RELEASE OF STEPHAN THE STfan (DATED SEPT 1, 1940). (NOTE: ALDEN ACKERMAN WAS FORREST J ACKERMAN’S BROTHER, WHO DIED IN THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE JAN 1, 1945. FORREST J ACKERMAN’S SIGNATURE WAS NOT INCLUDED SINCE HE WAS THE PERSON OBTAINING THE SIGNATURES. THERE WERE ONLY 3 WORLD SCI-FI CONVENTIONS BEFORE WORLD WAR II (1939, 1940, 1941). THE NEXT WAS #4 IN 1946. THESE SIGNATURES WERE OBTAINED AT THE 1939 AND 1940 CONVENTIONS PERSONALLY BY FORREST J ACKERMAN. THIS ITEM WAS ORIGINALLY FROM HIS FAMOUS COLLECTION, A ONE-OF-A-KIND ITEM FROM THE EARLY HISTORY OF SCIENCE FICTION. SINCE THE PAGES WITH THE SIGNATURES ARE DETACHED, I AM NOT POSITIVE THAT ALL THE PAGES ARE HERE–BUT, AFTER ALL, THERE ARE 140+ SIGNATURES. THE FIRST WORLD SCI-FI CONVENTION WAS ATTENDED BY 200 PEOPLE. THE 2nd WORLD SCI-FI CONVENTION WAS ATTENDED BY 128 PEOPLE.
(4) OLD SCHOOL VIDEO GAMES. The retro gaming system, remade with modern technology: “Nintendo’s mini-NES: Everything you need to know”.
Did you hear? The Nintendo Entertainment System is back, and it’s cuter than ever.
The new NES Classic Edition (aka NES Classic Mini) is an official Nintendo product that crams 30 of the company’s most beloved games into a miniature version of the hit ’80s game system. It fits in the palm of your hand. It comes with an HDMI port so it can plug into a modern TV, and a freshly manufactured NES gamepad for that old-school feel.
And when it ships on November 11 for just $60, £50 or AU$100, it could also be an unbeatable deal: we ran the numbers, and you can’t get this many retro Nintendo games anywhere else for the money.
(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY GIRL
- Born October 21, 1929 – Ursula K. Le Guin.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY
- Born October 21 — Christopher Garcia, multiple Best Fanzine Hugo winner.
(7) BOGUS BOOK REPORTS. Huffington Post published a collection of these as “Donald Trump’s Clueless Debate Answers Spawn #TrumpBookReport Tweets”.
Trump’s foreign policy answers sound like a book report from a teenager who hasn’t read the book. “Oh, the grapes! They had so much wrath!”
— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) October 20, 2016
That crack caused #TrumpBookReport to trend as Twitter users wondered what would happen if the Republican presidential nominee ? who has said he’s too busy to read many books ? really was a teen giving a report about a book he hadn’t read.
Here are some of the best (edited by AP to include only the genre book ones; read the actual post for the full effect):
There’s a Lord-and he’s got rings. Lots of rings. The best rings. And two of the best Towers anyone has seen. #trumpbookreport
— Karl H. (@ageofkarl) October 20, 2016
It took Low Energy Harry Potter 7 books to defeat Voldermort. Sad! I would have beat him in the first book! #TrumpBookReport
— Historical Trump (@HistoryDTrump) October 20, 2016
Voldemort was a bad guy, okay. He was a bad guy. But you know what he was very good at? Killing Muggles. #TrumpBookReport @AntonioFrenchhttps://t.co/eJBMhUlCPg
— Historical Trump (@HistoryDTrump) October 20, 2016
Charlotte’s Web …Spider dies at the end… no stamina. What a loser. #TrumpBookReport
— Cora Huggins (@Rangerswife1) October 20, 2016
“So much hunger, many hungry people, and far too many games. Hard to play with so much, too much, quite frankly, hunger.” #TrumpBookReport
— Doug B (@dougbstl) October 20, 2016
Pinocchio? He’s no puppet. No puppet. You’re the puppet! #TrumpBookReport
— White Rabbit Object (@audiewhitaker) October 20, 2016
Westeros is failing. Wall is okay. I could build it higher. American steel. I’d be the best King. Tremendous king. Isis.#TrumpBookReport
— Pat Rothfuss (@PatrickRothfuss) October 20, 2016
(8) INDUSTRY HUMOR. Andrew Porter recommends Publishers Weekly’s “Tales from the Slush Pile”. “There are dozens of these available, and they’re really hilarious.” “Tales from the Slush Pile” is an original comic strip that follows the trials and tribulations of a children’s book writer and his friends. Its creator, Ed Briant, has written and illustrated a number of picture books, comics and graphic novels.
(9) WELL ENDOWED. The University of Maine is creating the Stephen E. King Chair in Literature in Literature in honor of one of its most famous graduates.
The university is collecting applications from English professors to fill the position now. The appointment is set to begin in August and is a five-year, renewable term. The university says the position is tenured and designed to honor the UMaine English department’s “most celebrated graduate.” The school says the position will have undergraduate education as a central focus. King graduated from the university in 1970 with a degree in English. His first novel, “Carrie,” was published four years later, and he has been one of America’s most beloved horror and fantasy authors for four decades.
The position is partially endowed by the Harold Alfond Foundation.
(10) CUMMINS OBIT. Horror writer and musician Dennis Cummins died October 18.
As a well-known guitar, keyboard player and singer with “Beatles For Sale,” he sang and entertained many with endless cover songs of the much-loved Beatles with the band he’d been a member of for nearly 10 years. He also was an author with his completed novel, “Nesters,” and several other short stories that were published.
Dennis M. Cummins died Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016 after a very short battle with lung cancer. He was 64. Dennis was born Oct. 30, 1951 in Worcester Mass.
Dennis was also a published horror author and had sold numerous short stories to various horror magazines around the country. He was a member of the Horror Writers’ Association.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and Marc Criley for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bruce Baugh.]
Critic, film historian and long-time LASFS member Bill Warren died October 7. Over the past decade he’d suffered from a series of cardiac and pulmonary health problems, and lately was treated for an infection but never recovered.
When Mark Evanier announced Bill’s passing yesterday, he paid tribute to Bill’s wife, Beverly: “The last few weeks, I’ve watched her tend to his needs night and day, doing every single thing you’d want someone to do for you if you were in his position…except maybe go home and get some sleep.”
Bill and Beverly Warren married in 1966, and that same day moved from Oregon to LA. Bill had been corresponding with Forry Ackerman since 1958, and the couple’s new social life centered on the Ackermansion and Forry’s activities. That included celebrity encounters with horror stars like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee, and a party invitation that led to their immersion in organized fandom. Bill later recalled for File 770:
Forry Ackerman invited us to a birthday party for Dr. Donald A. Reed, president of the Count Dracula Society. We’d heard of the Society, but had as yet had no contact with it, and were a little uncertain about it. Somehow, the idea of dressing up in tuxes to attend dinners given by a group named after a vampire seemed a little more bizarre than our countrybumpkin Oregon minds could deal with right away. But Forry told us there would be interesting people at the party.
Upon arriving at the event, held in the screening room at the back of Milt Larsen’s home, the first two people we saw were Robert Bloch and Christopher Lee, neither of whom we had met until that time. Both were charming and affable, with Bloch being especially warm. A cake with a bat on it was presented to Don, and then we all sat down to watch WereWolf of London, the first time we’d seen it on a screen. We joined the Dracula Society on the spot.
This was also the period when Bill met Ray Bradbury for the first time, at a big surprise party for Forry in 1967. The photo below was taken five minutes after they met, after they had swapped glasses and discovered their prescriptions were similar.
Ackerman, a founding LASFS member, probably brought Bill and Beverly into that club, too: they joined in December 1966. Bill became one of its hardest-working members, honored with the Evans-Freehafer Award in 1973, and he served for many years on the Board of Directors. His suggestion led to making a one-shot winter convention into the club’s annual LosCon.
Bill launched his writing career in the Sixties. His short story “Death Is a Lonely Place” appeared in the first issue of the magazine Worlds of Fantasy in 1968. The story hit the newsstands just before the 1968 Worldcon, precipitating another meeting between Bill and Ray Bradbury, as Bill remembered:
At the Oakland-Berkeley Worldcon in 1968 (or so), I was sitting in the coffee shop with some friends when we saw Bradbury enter the hotel. He smiled and waved at me — then, to my surprise, made an abrupt turn and came into the coffee shop to talk to me. He said I always knew where the best stuff was going on, so where should he go? We chatted a bit, and he breezed out of the place. My friends stared at me in shock. Ray fucking BRADBURY? Did I know Bradbury THAT well? I said “Evidently so,” but I was quite puzzled myself — yes, I knew him (thru Forry), but I didn’t think I did know him that well. So later I encountered him in a hallway and asked about it. He was ready for me. He said that at an early convention (I figure this was the post-WWII Worldcon in LA), he was with a bunch of friends when Leigh Brackett came up and chatted with him about his work. He was puzzled; they WERE friends, but it seemed out of character for her to approach him like that. So he asked her about it. She said she was trying to encourage his career as a writer, by treating him as a fellow professional — and did it in front of his friends, to give him egoboo. Bradbury said “Now you have to pass it on.”
During this period, he also wrote scripts for (Jim) Warren Publishing’s black-and-white comic books Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella. Later he was a contributing editor to Leonard Maltin’s annual Movie Guide for more than twenty years. He produced annual movie reports for many Nebula anthologies.
Subsequently he wrote film history books, The Evil Dead Companion, about Sam Raimi’s horror series, Set Visits, interviews with filmmakers on the sets of their films, and Keep Watching the Skies, about science fiction movies of the 1950s.
He also co-authored a fannish mystery with his friend Allan Rothstein, Fandom Is A Way of Death, published and sold during the 1984 Worldcon. The solution to the mystery was placed in a separate envelope at the back of each copy, because only on the last day of the con was the murderer was revealed — and took a bow.
I met Bill and Beverly at the very first LASFS event I ever attended, the 1970 LASFS Anniversary Dinner.
When I co-chaired the 1978 Westercon with Ed Finkelstein, Bill ran the film program. And I remember that right after the con was over, before the rented prints had to be returned, Bill gathered the committee at the LASFS clubhouse to watch a couple of the rarely-seen feature films he’d chosen. The 13 of us who’d run the con were exhausted – which caught the eye of fanartist Linda Miller, who did a drawing of us symbolically clumped together for mutual support, a triangular composition with the tallest, Bill Welden, in the center, and the rest distributed around him by height….
Bill participated in the early days of social media. In 1989, he created the ShowBiz Roundtable for the online service GEnie to generate discussions about films and other aspects of show business.
When his friends produced movies, there was often a minor role or appearance as an extra for him –Joe Dante, Don Glut, and Somtow Sucharitkul were among the people who cast Bill in The Howling (1981), The Laughing Dead (1989), Hollywood Boulevard II (1990), My Lovely Monster (1991), Ill Met By Moonlight (1994), Dinosaur Valley Girls (1996), and The Naked Monster (2005).
During the 1990s, he and Bill Rotsler produced segments surveying American television for the French TV series Destination. In fact, the day before Rotsler died in 1997, he and Bill had driven all over Hollywood shooting video of billboards for an installment of the show.
And after Rotsler died, Bill became the custodian of his good friend’s unpublished fan art, of which there was an enormous amount. He did his utmost to get it into the hands of fanzine editors for publication. Bill also discovered the raw material for 15 more issues of Rotsler’s fanzine Masque, which he completed and distributed to the mailing list.
The last time I saw Bill was at a Loscon room party a few years ago where he was doing what he liked most, holding his friends spellbound with his endless supply of anecdotes from Hollywood history. The things about movies that fascinated him growing up had never lost their allure, for as he told an interviewer:
I found that my taste as a kid was pretty reliable, even if more enthusiastic than myself as an adult. I no longer think that It Came from Beneath the Sea and Creature with the Atom Brain are the two best movies ever made, though I still like both of them. And those I didn’t like then, I still don’t like.
By John Hertz: We’re all still staggered by the death of Dave Kyle.
Of course the rest goes on. Stories are written, illustrated, published; and fanzines; conventions are organized (hmm, maybe not the right word) and put on (hmm); clubs meet; collectors hunt and gather. We lend each other a hand.
Dave did all these. He was one of our first and best.
Among other things he administered the Big Heart Award after Forry Ackerman stepped down. The Award is not given posthumously; it was promptly given to Forry – Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? It had been given to Dave in 1973.
Some things are better arranged while one is still alive. Dave and others had agreed who would follow him. When he passed away he was succeeded by Steve Francis (Big Heart, 2001). This arrangement had the additional benefit that Steve was estopped from crying out in the crisis Non sum dignus as he or anyone might feel.
So one of us has taken the torch. How are you doing?