Binker Hughes (1946-2016)

Elizabeth Mabel Binker Glock Hughes, Ph.D., died June 28 of cancer. The death of the long-time member of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance (SFPA) was just recently learned by her friends in fandom.

Guy H. Lillian III recalls, “Binker joined SFPA the same mailing as I did — #39, January 1971. She and her husband Steve were able Emergency Officers during a terrible crisis several years later and ran a fine DeepSouthCon in 1976.  She was always great company and a great friend. Rose-Marie and I send our best to her family, and I am saddened beyond description at her loss.”

Binker Hughes lived most of her life near Atlanta, GA, was married to Steve Hughes for 20 years and divorced in 1991. They ran two DeepSouthCons, in 1972 and 1976, the latter co-chaired with Ned Brooks.

Binker, Steve Hughes, and Ned Brooks at the 1976 DeepSouthCon.

Binker, Steve Hughes, and Ned Brooks at the 1976 DeepSouthCon.

The family obituary lists her many interests.

A freelance writer, she wrote for many commercial clients and online magazines; leaving a body of unpublished fiction work. She loved music, speleology, taekwondo, travel, science fiction and particularly St. James Anglican Church in Sandy Springs, GA.

[Thanks to Guy H. Lillian III for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 11/28/16 As Some Day It May Happen That A Pixel Must Be Found, I’ve Scrolled A Little List

(1) NOM DE GLOOM. Turns out nobody will ever voyage to Alpha Centauri – because the astronomical equivalent of the post office has given it a change of address – “Alpha Centauri Gets a New Moniker as 227 Star Names Are Clarified”.

Alpha Centauri” is getting the boot. The longstanding star name has been displaced by its ancient counterpart in a new International Astronomical Union (IAU) catalog that designates 227 official names for different stars in the sky.

The move was intended to reduce confusion, according to the IAU. For instance, a star like Fomalhaut has at least 30 different names, so it’s difficult to figure out what to call it — or even how to spell it. Variations over the years have included Fumalhaut, Fomalhut and even the unusual Fomal’gaut.

The IAU, which is the official arbiter of astronomical names, chose single names to refer to those stars that have historically had many. Some of the decisions may rattle longtime observers, however. For example, the binary star Alpha Centauri, which lies 4.35 light-years from the sun, is now known officially as “Rigil Kentaurus,” the ancient name for the system.

(2) WHELAN ART PROJECT. Michael Whelan has a Kickstarter going for a new book with Baby Tattoo. The book is being published to coincide with an exhibition of Michael’s art at the Riverside Art Museum in Southern California in February.

It’s actually done very well already – the target was $10,000, and $54,056 has been raised with 22 days to go.

whelan-beyond

(3) DON’T SPOON FEED THE AUDIENCE. Misha Burnett made a good point in a comment at Mad Genius Club.

I think that “overbackstorying” is one of the signature literary sins of our age. During the after-film discussion with my roommate after we had we had seen “Dr. Strange” the subject came up of filmmakers not trusting audiences to pick up on subtleties.

I can just imagine a remake of “Citizen Kane”.

“Come in now, young man–you can’t stay out there with your new sled, which is called ‘Rosebud’ all day!”

“But I love my new sled, which is called Rosebud! No matter what happens for the rest of my life, this will be the moment I’ll remember on my deathbed!”

(4) YOU CAN TALK TO THE HORSE, BUT NOT NECESSARILY OF COURSE. Fantasy Faction reposted Aaron Miles’ insightful article “A Question of Technology”.

How fantasy elements interact with technology is another aspect of worldbuilding to consider. Necessity is the mother of invention, the creation of a tool to aid in a task. But when you have characters that can make it rain at will, it seems pointless to dig ditches for irrigation. Does your world have magical solutions instead of technological ones, how prevalent is magic and its availability in solving daily problems? The opposite can be true as well, does your world have technological solutions to magical problems? Has a castle population built giant net launchers and long range crossbows to help defend themselves from dragon attacks? Perhaps they’ve developed fire resistant armour and building materials. This is an example of the necessity point in action, it’s human nature to try and counter a hostile force. In a world ruled by magic users, perhaps a resistance has created mechanical devices that negate their powers; maybe your heroes need them to complete a quest?

The level of technology in your work can influence the plot and what kind of solutions the writer can present to their characters. Is a character sick or injured? Is there a medical cure, it is easily available or a rarity? What about travel, does your world have domesticated horses, are there paved roads that allow them to make good time?

(5) WISHLIST OF A FAN’S DREAMS. Corrina Lawson made a list of “Fictional Presents We’d Love to Receive This Holiday Season” for B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog.

Translation Microbe (Farscape) Lots of translation devices pop up in science fiction universes, including the Babel Fish in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but you have to stick that leech-like thing in your ear. Ew. The Translation Microbe from Farscape also has to be sent into the body (via injection), rooting itself at the base of the brain. But it’s painless, aside from the initial injection, and there’s nothing living in your head. As for Star Trek‘s universal translator? That’s a machine that can be lost or destroyed, and you don’t want to be caught out as a stranger in a strange land.

(6) ATKINS OBIT. Lon Atkins (1942-2016) has died. Guy Lillian III sent this tribute about the legendary fan.

Lon Atkins, lost either yesterday or just this morning, was a titan in our Southern fannish world. His Rebel Award, his Fan GoHship at the DSC, were beautiful if finally inadequate reflections of his contribution to our early days as a regional fandom and our growth into the vibrant and important segment of SFdom we’ve become.  He was Official Editor of SFPA for four years and kept it going through its slimmest days.  His fabled battles at the Hearts table with his great frtiend Hank Reinhardt were not only legendary, but entertaining, helping to build the sense of community that marks the region and its game.  He did the best apazines — the best-written, the best-reproed, the most comprehensive — I have ever seen.  And he was a gentleman.

I am lost in regret.  Lon was a mentor and a model for how a good man conducts himself in science fiction fandom.  MELIKAPHKAZ forever!

(7) JIM C. HINES RESUMES FUNDRAISING AUCTIONS. He took a few days off for the holiday, but Jim C. Hines today is taking bids on an autographed, personalized series from Sherwood Smith.

Welcome back to the third of 24 Transgender Michigan Fundraiser auctions.

Transgender Michigan was founded in 1997, and continues to run one of the only transgender helplines in the country, available 24/7 at 855-345-8464. Every tax-deductible donation helps them continue to provide support, advocacy, and education.

Auction number three is for a personally autographed hardcover set of either the  INDA or DOBRENICA series, by author Sherwood Smith. Sherwood is also willing to personalize the books if the donor wishes — doodles, notes about something they’re interested in on the text, etc.

(8) FOR THOSE WHO COULD NOT MAKE IT IN PERSON. The exhibit ended its local run yesterday, and will be moving on to other cities. Steve Weintraub has done his best to show Collider readers what they missed — “Over 150 Pictures from the Cool & Unusual ‘Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters’ LACMA Exhibit”.

As you’ll see in the pictures below, not only will you notice things from his films like Cronos, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim, and Crimson Peak, you’ll see the 1907 edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, original Moebius artwork, original comic book pages from Alan Moore’s From Hell, concept art from films like Walt Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Sleeping Beauty, Fantasia, Alice in Wonderland, James Cameron’s Aliens, Drew Struzan’s poster for Pan’s Labyrinth, his love of all things Dracula, Frankenstein, H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe, and so much more.

Since most people will never be able to check out the At Home with Monsters exhibit, while walking around I took a ton of pictures. Even though I snapped over 150 high-resolution pics, trust me when I say I didn’t come close to capturing everything there and if you’re near the Art Gallery of Ontario or the Minneapolis Museum of Art when the exhibition opens in either city, I strongly suggest stopping by and seeing it for yourself.

(9) WORLD FANTASY PROGRAM. From Tor.com we learn that the 2017 World Fantasy Con is gathering program ideas. The convention’s theme is Secret Histories – The Use of History in Fantasy. Use their online form.

(10) THE MAGICIANS ON SYFY. This is no fantasy. Lev Grossman’s The Magicians returns for Season 2 on January 25.

(11) THE HOLE YOU SAY. Cards Against Humanity raised over $100,000 on Black Friday by broadcasting a video of a giant hole and asking its users to throw the money in!

This has raised a lot of questions in NPR’s newsroom, some of which Cards Against Humanity endeavored to answer on its site:

What’s happening here?

Cards Against Humanity is digging a holiday hole.

Is this real?

Unfortunately it is.

Where is the hole?

America. And in our hearts.

Is there some sort of deeper meaning or purpose to the hole?

No.

What do I get for contributing money to the hole?

A deeper hole. What else are you going to buy, an iPod?

Why aren’t you giving all this money to charity?

Why aren’t YOU giving all this money to charity? It’s your money.

Is the hole bad for the environment?

No, this was just a bunch of empty land. Now there’s a hole there. That’s life.

How am I supposed to feel about this?

You’re supposed to think it’s funny. You might not get it for a while, but some time next year you’ll chuckle quietly to yourself and remember all this business about the hole.

How deep can you make this sucker?

Great question. As long as you keep spending, we’ll keep digging. We’ll find out together how deep this thing goes.

(12) JONATHAN LIVINGSTON YODA. CinemaBlend makes sure were there when a “Star Wars Bad Lip Reading Video Turns Empire Into Hilariously Funky Seagull Song”.

The folks at Bad Lip Reading have produced some stellar videos over the course of the last few years, but this one might actually be their magnum opus. Reimagining Luke Skywalker’s time with Yoda on Dagobah, the video follows the mismatched pair as the ancient Jedi master sings to a clearly annoyed Luke. Using the speech of the Yoda puppet as a template, the video features a voiceover that replaces the wise teachings of the alien warrior with utter nonsense about seagulls, logs giving birth to sticks, and getting hit in the neck with a hacky sack. It’s undoubtedly one of the weirdest Star Wars related videos that we have ever seen on the Internet, but it’s also that weirdness that makes it so utterly awesome.

 

[Thanks to Arnie Fenner, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Guy H. Lillian III, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Iphinome.]

Peggy Ranson (1948-2016)

Peggy Ranson. Photo by Vincent Mariano.

Peggy Ranson. Photo by Vincent Mariano.

Peggy Ranson, a very popular fanartist in the 1990s, passed away March 16 from cancer. The family’s obituary is here.

She grew up in Memphis, and attended Memphis State University. While living in New Orleans she worked as a commercial artist for D.H. Holmes and the Times Picayune.

Ranson was employed as an ad illustrator when she volunteered to help with the 1988 New Orleans Worldcon. Guy H. Lillian III remembers, “She co-edited the Nolacon II program book with me, did scads of inimitable and exquisite fan art, and graced every moment we spent with her.” Lillian writes that this piece was her first fan art.

23ranson

She was an L. Ron Hubbard Illustrator of the Future contest finalist in 1990, and attended the awards ceremonies (see photo).

Illustrator of the Future 1990. Peggy Ranson is fourth from right. (Kelly Freas is fourth from left.)

Illustrator of the Future 1990. Peggy Ranson is fourth from right. (Kelly Freas is fourth from left.)

Ranson was a Best Fan Artist Hugo nominee every year from 1991-1998, winning in 1993. Lillian liked to say she was only the second fan from Louisiana (adopted) to win a Hugo (the first was Camille Cazedessus, publisher of ERB-dom.)

Peggy Ranson with HugoShe did countless pieces of art for conventions, bids, and fanzines, and for charitable publications like the Charlie Card Fund’s 1991 Fantasy Art Calendar. Her work won Best in Show at the 1991 Worldcon art show (Chicon V).

There’s a small gallery of her black-and-white art at Fanac.org.

Ranson cover for Challenger

Ranson was a guest of honor at DeepSouthCon 34 in 1996, and Armadillocon 20 in 1998, and other small cons across the South.

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005 she fled to Memphis. Afterwards she wrote a long account of her escape and what it was like to return to the heavily damaged city in Challenger 23.

maureen_origAlthough she did some cover art for professional publications, she does not seem to have pursued that as a vocation, for many of her assignments were for books by writers or small press publisers she knew well. This includes her covers for The NESFA Index to Short Science Fiction for 1989 (1992), Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordperson: The Complete Stories (1993) a paperback of George Alec Effinger stories from Swan Press, Girls for the Slime God (1997) a collection of stories edited by Mike Resnick, and Birthright: The Book of Man (1997) by Mike Resnick. She also did interiors for magazines, including Algis Budrys’ Tomorrow Speculative Fiction.

Ranson is survived by a sister and two brothers (one of them her twin), and several nieces and nephews.

Patrick H. Adkins (1948-2015)

By Guy H. Lillian III: Patrick H. Adkins, New Orleans author and lifelong Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, has passed away.  His books included Lord of the Crooked Paths (1987), Master of the Fearful Depths (1989), Sons of the Titans (1990), and The Third Beast (2011), plus a volume of previously uncollected Edgar Rice Burroughs short stories collected by himself and John H. Guidry and a booklet of David H. Keller stories, The Last Magician.  He was once editor of the New Orleans SF Association’s genzine, Nolazine.  He is survived by wife Dixie, a son, a daughter, and friends without number, including me, all of whom are devastated by this horrible, horrible news.

Rosy and I send our love and best hopes to Dixie, their kids, and John, who had been friends with his fellow Burroughs-o-phile since 1964.  Modern New Orleans fandom dates from two events in that year: John’s meeting with Justin Winston at a French Quarter bookstore, and his first phone encounter with Pat, a four-hour conversation that really, had no end until this past Tuesday.

Pat was a gentleman, a scholar, and a fast friend.

Dennis Dolbear Passes Away

Dennis Dolbear at DeepSouthCon 50 in 2012. Photo by Rich Lynch.

Dennis Dolbear at DeepSouthCon 50 in 2012. Photo by Rich Lynch.

Louisiana fan Dennis Dolbear died June 17 from pneumonia and septicemia reports SF Site News.

Dolbear joined the New Orleans Science Fiction Association (NOSFA) as a young fan within a few years of its 1967 founding, and enthusiastically helped create its fannish mythos. Although the growing club was just a few years old, some of its charter members shortly began to feel overwhelmed by an influx of Star Trek fans. To console themselves, they gathered at the home of “Faruk von Turk” (Justin Winston) and established the “Sons of the Sand.” As Dolbear later explained:

The Sons of the Sand (and the affiliated Daughters of the Desert) is actually the parent group for a number of affiliated organizations such as the Cubist Poetry Society, the Damon Runyon Society of N.O., the Uptown Meerschaum Collectors, and the N.O. Double Contra Basso Jug Band, to name but a few. The only requirement for joining either the parent or subsidiary societies is that the applicant be of gentle (i.e. noble) birth. Validity of pedigree will be decided by the Admissions Committee. (Note: ersatz SCA titles are, of course, not acceptable.) The Caliph (or leader) of the organization is the member with the most distinguished ancestry. This post is presently held by Faruk von Turk, who has authenticated his lineage to Charlemagne and Charles Martel. The post is also claimed by Donald Walsh, Jr., who has adduced some evidence that he is descended from the Roman emperor Caligula. The Committee has not fully accepted his claim, although if validated it would of course preempt von Turk’s. 

Dennis Dolbear and Mike Macro when the world was young.

Dolbear was a long-time member of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance, active from 1971 to 1994. He regularly contributed NOSFAn, the clubzine he coedited with Peter Bezbak and, as the years passed, other zines with such colorful titles as Lapis Lazuli and Bouffant Jellyfish. For a time it became a SFPA tradition to list his name on the masthead among the officers under an ever-changing series of titles like “Official Provider of Life Support & Morale Boosts,” and “Bestest Buddy & Sweet Patootie.”

Dolbear was an attorney by profession. He and his colleague, Guy Lillian III, once thought to generate some business from the out-of-town football fans who came to New Orleans for bowl games and got into trouble in the French Quarter. The duo took out an ad in the Florida Flambeau, the FSU student paper, advertising their legal services. Their ad generated a lot of publicity, if not business. Sports Illustrated picked up the story (“Ill Legal Pitch”) and Dolbear gave an interview to the Orlando Sentinel:

Using unique entrepreneurial skills, Dolbear and Lillian have cast their lines into the water, looking to snag jail bait in a sea of N’awlins debauchery. The two civil attorneys from New Orleans took out an ad in the Florida Flambeau, the Florida State campus newspaper, offering their legal services to anyone suffering from the Bourbon Street Blues.

”If you get in trouble, we can help you out,” reads the ad. ”If you need a lawyer in New Orleans, call us.”

”It’s not so much that we’re ambulance chasers,” Dolbear said. ”Ambulance chasers are trying to cultivate a situation that might not otherwise exist. In our case, we are simply offering our services to people who get arrested. If you get in trouble and you don’t know who to call, we are here.”

Perhaps Dolbear’s most riveting piece of fanwriting was “Survivor” in Challenger 23, an account of how he and his 85-year-old mother clung to the side of their house to avoid drowning in the floodwaters released by Hurricane Katrina:

We then took the only refuge left. We went into the water – now over 9 feet high – and clung to the gutters above, in a 125 mile-per-hour wind and swift flood. (My mother is nothing if not tough.) After a short while, I moved to a tree outside, with flexible branches that I could crouch in. From this spot, I could relieve the stress on the gutter – already starting to bend – and be in a position to save my mother if she should let go – which she almost did, several times and did, once – I dived beneath the water and pulled her, with strength I got from who knows where. But she held, and I held, and we endured about two or maybe three hours in the full wrath of Katrina. I will never forget this, not as long as I live, and mere words seem inadequate to describe the storm’s power – and how small, how vulnerable it made you feel.

But after a few hours, the wind abated, and – could it be – the water actually started to drop. I checked again, mentally marking the water height against the bricks – yes, yes! it was dropping! We might not die after all! Our danger had passed.

No wonder Guy Lillian III ended his message about Dolbear’s passing — “[I] congratulate each and every one of us on having such a remarkable friend.”

Lookout Shreveport!

The only kind of “incoming” fanzine editor Guy Lillian III ordinarily watches for are letters of comment on Challenger. But the Shreveport resident might have a new worry, suggests Andrew Porter – North Korean missles! The Washington Post reports —  

The latest ridiculous North Korean propaganda video includes threats to launch … missiles at four U.S. cities: Washington, Colorado Springs, Colo., Los Angeles and Honolulu.

The only problem is that the video, released by the state-run media organization Uriminzokkiri, misidentifies Colorado Springs’ location by about 1,000 miles. As the voice-over excitedly discusses North Korea’s plan to launch a missile at the home of a number of important military installations, as well as the U.S. Air Force Academy, a dot on a map meant to indicate the city actually appears somewhere over the deep south.

You can hear the narrator mention Colorado Springs at about 1 minute, 20 seconds into the video, as a scary-looking line is shown shooting out from North Korea and landing somewhere in the vicinity of Shreveport, La., a 900-mile drive southeast from the intended target.

Better keep watching the skies there, Guy.

The North Korean video had already alarmed another friend of mine who awoke to it playing on the news one morning. His company creates collections of synthesizer music for use in the film industry, and the video’s soundtrack is their composition.   

 

Nearly Gone With The Wind

Guy Lillian III says he had never seen a twister and regretted it. Then on October 29, while the latest in a series of terrible thunderstorms was marching across his section of Louisiana, Guy started driving home from work down the Old Benton Road and got caught in something much stronger and more dangerous than he expected:

A trashcan lid spun over my hood like a giant frisbee. The rain turned white. The white became opaque. I couldn’t see the road. I hit my emergency blinkers and pulled over, hoping I wouldn’t find a ditch… I remembered some of that twister [documentary]: the sudden white wind tearing hell out of the world. I said to myself, “Hell, I’m in the middle of it,” because I knew what was coming inside that depthless white pall. 

Now I was heading away from the action.  I floored Little Red and ran for it…. I turned back to Old Benton Road.  The tall sign of one of the car dealerships was twisted like a pipecleaner and leaning. That just happened, I said to myself…. 

Guy assures everyone that he came through “Unscathed, both me and car — except for a small crack in the windshield (the car, not me). Found out that the twister was a Force 2.  I’m not rattled about it, just … thoughtful.” A full write-up is coming in the next Challenger.

Challenger 29

The latest issue of Guy Lillian III’s fine genzine Challenger can be read online at www.challzine.net/. Guy’s twenty-ninth issue serves up a long list of delights:

Beautiful and funny cover by Alan White, articles by Cheryl Morgan, Rich Lynch, Mike Resnick, Joe Green, Warren Buff, Steve Silver, many others. Our theme this issue is sports, but there’s much else, and we hope you’ll enjoy it. (Buff’s op-ed on “The Graying of Fandom” is an important piece. Read! Respond!)

Keeping a Weather Eye

I told Guy Lillian III via e-mail this morning that I can hardly imagine another one of these hundred-year-storms is homing in on New Orleans. I read news reports all the time about how much work needs to be done to put the place back together after Katrina, and now this. What a nightmare. The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday morning:

The storm had downgraded slightly overnight from its Category 4 status, with winds in excess of 156, but forecasters expected the tempest to strengthen as it approached the mainland. New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin had earlier described Gustav as “the storm of the century,” packing far stronger winds and storm surges than even Hurricane Katrina, which raked across New Orleans three years ago, causing 1,800 deaths and vast flooding and destruction.

Guy and Rosy live in Shreveport, almost 300 miles from New Orleans, far enough inland that they expect to be shielded from the ferocious winds of this latest hurricane:

Once this bastard makes landfall it will probably dump a goodly bit of the Gulf of Mexico onto our area as it plows through. Shreveport has one virtue: it’s well inland, in the NW corner of Louisiana. We might get some street flooding but wind damage? Very doubtful.

As for fans in the New Orleans area, Guy has heard:

John Guidry is going to Atlanta to stay with family.Justin and Annie Winston are, so far, staying put. Justin will stay at home no matter what, just as he did during Katrina. Haven’t heard about anyone else.

Challenger #28 Online

Guy H. Lillian III has posted a new issue of Challenger, his Hugo-nominated fanzine. It’s a tremendous zine, with outstanding articles by Resnick, Benford, Toni Weisskopf, James Bacon, and Joseph Green.

My contribution is “Flashman at Klendathu.” Guy invited me to pay tribute to George Macdonald Fraser, author of the popular series of Flashman historical novels, who had recently passed away. As a fan’s imagination is prone to do, mine wandered from the stack of books Fraser had actually written to the novels we now would never see – such as the oft-hinted adventure that would explain how Flashman ended up fighting on both sides of the American Civil War. I knew I’d miss Fraser’s sharp wit and his gift for deflating pretensions about the glory of war. The free association set in motion by those thoughts at last made me wonder what Starship Troopers would have taught about military life if it had been Flashman telling the story instead of Johnny Rico. “Flashman at Klendathu” fills in that blank. (And the Charlie Williams illo is perfect!)

A final word: The Challenger website has announced a contest for the best-designed favicon, the little image that appears next to the URL address line in your web browser (if the site has one loaded.) Entries should be sent to challzine@gmail.com by the deadline, which somewhat arbitrarily is before “The next issue of Challzine — or December 31, 2008 — whichever comes first.” Entries will be displayed in the next issue and voted upon by the readers.