Something For Everyone

SFWA has found an interesting way to mark the end of a week of strife between the opponents of Political Correctness and the critics of sexism in the Bulletin.

SFWA has selected Frank Robinson, author of The Glass Inferno and the Hugo Award-winning Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century: An Illustrated History, to be a Special Guest for its Nebula 2014 Weekend in San Jose.

Robinson, on one hand, once ran Playboy’s Advisor column.

On the other, he once was Harvey Milk’s speechwriter.

Can we all just get along?

Stfnal Additions to National Film Registry

The Matrix and Rob Epstein’s documentary The Times of Harvey Milk are among 25 films being added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry.

The Matrix (1999) is well-known both for its science fiction story line and for innovative filmmaking techniques such as the multi-camera setup that dramatically displayed Neo dodging bullets.

The Harvey Milk documentary’s genre connection is indirect – sf author Frank Robinson was Milk’s speechwriter and one of his closest advisers. I don’t know whether Robinson is present in the background of any of the news footage utilized by the Epstein documentary. Robinson did have a cameo appearance in the feature film, Milk.

Since 1989 the National Film Registry has been selecting moving images that it considers important enough to be preserved by the Library of Congress as part of the nation’s permanent visual record.

Robinson Auction Sales Released

The first of twelve lots from the collection of Frank Robinson was auctioned last week by Adventure House and the results have been posted. I copied the web pages into a spreadsheet and the sales displayed online added up to $577,606.50.

A complete run of Weird Tales, labeled the “crown jewel of Frank Robinson’s collection,” 366 pieces, fetched $250,000.

Other sales in the upper limits of the stratosphere were:

Doc Savage, complete set –$50,000
The Blue Book Magazine, a nearly complete run, 593 pieces –$48,000
Adventure, complete set, 753 pieces –$40,000
Amazing Stories, a nearly complete run through 1998, 594 pieces — $40,000
Astounding, a full run (pulp, large size, and digest) –$30,000
Planet Stories, complete set, 71 pieces — $14,000
The Mysterious Wu Fang, complete set, 7 pieces — $9,400
Wonder Stories, 68 issues — $8,000
Thrilling Wonder Stories, complete run, 111 pieces — $6,650
Startling Stories, complete run, 99 issues –$4,750
Fantastic Adventures, complete run, 129 pieces — $3,500
Air Wonder Stories, 11 issues — $3,000

While a lot of the sales have eye-catching totals they didn’t always amount to much per-issue. After the run of Wu Fang, among the most valuable individual items were the 2 issues of Miracle Science and Fantasy Stories (a complete run), commanding a price together of $2,200.

Because I used to collect bedsheet Astoundings I was interested that a set of 25 brought $300. I suspect that with inflation factored in it’s really no more than I was buying them for in the Seventies.

Likewise charter subscribers to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine will be disappointed that a nearly complete run through 1999, 229 issues, sold for a grand total of $1,000. If you were holding these for investment, now would be a good time to clear that space on your bookshelves.

While only an experienced pulp collector would be able to spot the genuine missed values, as a layman I was surprised by some results among the British prozines. The first 21 issues of New Worlds went for just $400. Several other lots of New Worlds received no bid at all. The 54 issues from the Sixties sold for only $425. Going unsold were 39 copies of Nebula Science Fiction, a British prozine of the Fifties, noted as the first to publish Robert Silverberg and Brian Aldiss, and also ran a book review column by Ken Slater. So I must be naïve to expect historicity to translate to higher prices.

First Robinson Pulp Auction

The first lot to go under the hammer in the auction of Frank M. Robinson’s pulp collection fetched $250,000 reports John King Tarpinian. (Eventually the official take will be posted here.)

Tarpinian also heard Robinson was offered $100,000 for the lot before the auction started.

The second of 12 lots is scheduled to be auctioned on March 9.

Update 03/01/2012: Participants in the auction dispute the figure reported here, saying it was actually much higher. Well, if there had to be a mistake I’m glad the correction means Frank Robinson realized even more from the first lot auctioned from his collection. I will be watching for the results to be posted as promised by the official web page.

Delivering Milk

Milk is on the way, and longtime fan Earl Kemp says be sure to notice — “I’m part of the wallpaper in many scenes. Please applaud loudly when you see the guy in the very loud, 1979 three piece plaid suit.”

Kemp also points fans to the Chicago Reader’s article publicizing the movie — it focuses on sf writer Frank Robinson and is subtitled “How local sci-fi writer Frank Robinson went from The Towering Inferno to the ‘hope speech’.”

Robinson, a Chicago native, was Milk’s speechwriter and one of his closest advisers. A writing job took him to San Francisco in 1973, just as Milk, a New York transplant with a Castro Street camera shop, was gearing up for his second bid for city supervisor. “I used to walk down to the Castro every morning for breakfast and pass the camera store,” Robinson recalls. “One day I fell into conversation with Harvey, and it came up that I was a writer. He said, ‘Hey, why don’t you be my speechwriter?’”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]