Full of Quotations

By John Hertz:  I’m not sure if it’s a classic of science fiction.  But it reminds me of the fellow (in 1875?) who said Shakespeare was full of quotations.

By the time I got to Stephen Vincent Benét’s “By the Waters of Babylon” (1937) I’d read a lot of post-apocalypse stories.  The title recalls one I think is among the best, Pat Frank’s Alas, Babylon (1959).

“By the Waters” has Dead Places which are forbidden and a religion of caretakers.  Its boy narrator coming of age finds on a journey a lost place of great riches.  The god who lived there must have been a powerful god.

There was a shattered image of white stone, a man or a god who wore his hair tied back and whose name, on the cracked half of a stone, was ASHING.  You can supply W and TON and so could I.

The boy wants to tell everyone but his father, a priest, says “Truth is a hard deer to hunt.  If you eat too much truth at once, you may die of the truth.”  Perhaps, thinks his son, in the old days people ate knowledge too fast.

Look at the date.  Benét’s story came two years before the Einstein-Szilárd letter, a year before the Hahn-Strassman-Meitner-Frisch discovery of nuclear fission; four years before Heinlein’s “Solution Unsatisfactory”, seven before Cartmill’s “Deadline”.

Scholarship says, as I understand, that Benét was probably moved by the bombing of Guernica, 26 Apr 37.  Picasso finished his painting in June.

“I like the Carpenter best,” said Alice, “if he didn’t eat so many oysters as the Walrus.”  “But he ate as many as he could get,” said Tweedledum.

We’ve anthologized “By the Waters” repeatedly over the years, starting with Wollheim’s pioneering Pocket Book of Science Fiction (1943).

Benét was a fine and maybe a great poet.  During his life he was better known than T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens.

Some prose is poetry.

A Sense in Which a Genius Can’t Be Wrong

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1264) Red Pine in Finding Them Gone (2016) visits Chinese poets of the past through their homes, graves, monuments, in a one-month pilgrimage, with photographs, across China by rail, bus, taxicab, foot.  He is a raconteur, with good taste in bourbon; he brought for libations (he indeed pours them on the ground) an 18-year-old Willett and the 2011 George T. Stagg (“the last of the Guggenheim money that made my trip possible,” p. 15).

“Red Pine” is the literary name of a man living in Port Townsend, Washington.  In legend Ch‘ih Sung = Red Pine four and a half millennia ago, ending a drought by sprinkling water from an earthen bowl, was made Lord of Rain with a dwelling on mythical K‘un-lun (= cinnabar) Mountain.

Two millennia ago the Roman poet Horace praised the Greek poet Homer, eight centuries earlier, for plunging listeners into the middle of the story as if it were already familiar (The Art of Poetry ll. 147-49; T.S. Dorsch tr., Classical Literary Criticism p. 84, 1965).  RP begins “I checked out of the Beijing Friendship Hotel at five thirty, before the sun was up.”  Catching the bullet train he three pages later is at the birthplace of Confucius, who lived after Homer, before Horace.

On Day 17 at Anlu where the poet Li Po (also “Li Pai” as RP has; 701-762) lived RP gives a photo of a thousand-year-old gingko.  He quotes poetry, talks with Chinese, suffers a misstep on Day 25, and four months later ends Day 30 with Han-shan (“Cold Mountain”, a literary name; lived about 800; Van 1243) and a poem by Gary Snyder (1930-  ), whom Han-shan inspired.

As with The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse (2014; a literary name; Van 1262, 1263) RP writes e.g. the name of Li Po’s earliest known poem “Visiting the Taoist Master of Taitienshan and Finding Him Gone” (Finding p. 120).  In the Wade-Giles system of transliterating Chinese, which RP mostly uses, it would be Tai-T‘ien Shan, but I believe RP means this amounts to one C word, like loudspeaker; it’s Bearing-Heaven Mountain but that’s not foremost in mind.  However he lands himself in fresh difficulties: leaving out the aspiration mark to avoid Tait‘ienshan he confuses the eye a new way: it’s worse a few lines above, where he writes Taming Temple.

But there’s a sense in which a genius can’t be wrong.  This poem in the original is an octet of two two-couplet quatrains, each line in five characters, with patterns of C’s Four Tones, par­allelism, and rhyme.  J. Minford & J. Lau’s Classical C Literature v. 1, pp. 748-49 (2000) has A. Cooper’s version “On Visiting a Taoist Master in the Tai-T‘ien Mountains and Not Finding Him” (AC’s Li Po and Tu Fu p. 105, 1973 [Tu Fu 712-770; C omits on, in, of, a & the, and, separate sing. & pl., much else; AC says “I have put the Chinese half-lines on separate lines”, p. 82; M & L keep “Taoist” but re-spell “Daitian” according to the Pinyin system]).

Word for word (shows parallelism):

Here’s Red Pine.

Sutton Breiding and I have been savoring Red Pine’s work.

Classics of SF at Loscon 44

By John Hertz: We’ll take up three Classics of Science Fiction at Loscon XLIV, one discussion each.  Come to as many as you like.  You’ll be welcome to join in.

Our working definition is “A classic is a work that survives its own time.  After the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.”  If you have a better one, bring it.

Each of our three is famous in a different way.  Each may be more interesting now than when first published.  Have you read them?  Have you re-read them?

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (1915)

Three men who discover a country peopled only by women find “daring….  broad sisterly affection … fair-minded intelligence…. health and vigor … calmness of temper” (ch. 7).  Of course it’s a sermon; but it’s neat, imaginative, warm-hearted.  How does she do it?

Robert A. Heinlein, Citizen of the Galaxy (1957)

Fans know the Heinlein Double Surprise: something strange happens, then something really strange happens.  Here’s a quadruple, each so carefully portrayed we’re ready to believe it’s the story.  What’s this for?  And we could sing “all the lonely people”.

Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, Hard to Be a God (1964)

Centuries after Communism has inevitably prevailed on Earth, students follow other planets – but if they interfere, they’ll ruin the progress of historical materialism and bring about catastrophe.  How’s that for a Prime Directive?

We met for lunch and disagreed

By John Hertz:  We met for lunch and disagreed.  Sometimes we drank tea instead; he sometimes brewed it himself.  We each kept saying we should meet more often.

From a letter I wrote on September 12th to Tom Sadler, of The Reluctant Famulus:

I’m still stunned by the loss in two days of Jerry Pournelle and Len Wein, the Cosmic Joker striking a right and a left.  Both men were giants.  How different.  They had in common rising above a substantial time of physical suffering.  Neither was daunted.  Both went on with their work of creation, and indeed their joy in fellowship, not despite but regardless of what befell them.

Dum vivimus, vivamus.

You’ve seen the Latin tag (“while we live, let us live”) before; it’s in Heinlein’s Glory Road, that scathing satire of male folly.  I don’t mean it satirically, it’s true enough.  If you took Glory Road at face value, let’s talk about that another time.  Wein too.  I’ll talk about Pournelle here.

I didn’t know until his death that his church was St. Francis de Sales (Catholic), two miles from his house.  I knew that his wife, now widow, sang in the choir.  He must have known that St. Francis de Sales was the patron saint of writers and journalists.

Of course there was a bagpiper at the interment.  He proved to be Eric Rigler, who had played at Ronald Reagan’s funeral.  Rigler gave us “Going Home”, “Loch Lomond”, and “Amazing Grace”.  Jennifer Pournelle and Phillip Pournelle took the flag from the coffin – an inter-Service courtesy; Jennifer and their father had been in the Army, Phillip in the Navy.  A bugler gave us “Taps”.  Phil paid the piper, and – I wondered if he would – said so.

Here’s a photo Alex Pournelle took of Phil, coat off, helping with a floral display.

At the house were fine white flowers from Cat Rambo the 30th President of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America on behalf of SFWA, acknowledging its 7th president, his leadership and his contribution.

The public memorial next day was a funeral Mass at St. Francis de Sales.  Most of us were from the s-f community, fans or pros or both.  I was particularly glad Toni Weisskopf could come.  I sat in the back, behind Serena & Tim Powers, next to Keith Kato.  The organ was a Rodgers pipe-digital hybrid.  Here’s a photo Alex took from the front.

Jenny, the eldest child, gave the eulogy.  She cited his generosity.  When you achieved, she said, his respect was spontaneous.  He was happiest if you went and lived your own dream.

She gave examples of his open hand and – I’ll say it – his big heart.  I happen to be acquainted with cases where he helped people he could only have disapproved of.  I don’t mean with crumbs, either.  One thing can override another.

Afterward were at least three gatherings.  For a few bad moments I thought I’d have to miss them all.  I managed to reach two.  Here’s another Alex photo.  We’re at the Four and Twenty restaurant (no blackbird pies; I should have ordered rye bread) in Van Nuys.  The man standing is Henry Vanderbilt, founder of the Space Access Society.

Jerry had four or five careers, some simultaneous.  He did a lot in aerospace.  He isn’t named in John Glenn’s 1999 memoir.  The mind tends to submerge pain.  When you heard the story of how Jerry tried to distract John who nevertheless kept a point of light centered in its target circle, I hope you thought of Matt Dodson’s tests in Space Cadet.  The prize fool in that book too is a man.

If I said there were eight million stories in the great and terrible world of computers, I might be off several orders of magnitude.  Jerry was big there.  He must have written six thousand words a week for his column in Byte.  That was just a summary of results; “We do this stuff so you won’t have to.”  He continued from what may have been the first blog – in the sense of the World-Wide Web and Weblog; in another career, blog was a drink – and his house had become Chaos Manor.  No computers, however, in the front room.

File 770 is in the world of a third career.  Jerry was the first winner of the Campbell Award for best new writer; nine times a Hugo finalist.  His work with Larry Niven didn’t start Niven collaborating – Niven had already done The Flying Sorcerers with David Gerrold – but it generated stories about stories.  Not every pro must be active among fans, nor vice versa; but Jerry’s fannish history was long.  He could silp a Nuclear Fizz in the Insurgent fashion.  His vices were very fannish vices.

There are a lot of leftists in s-f, including me.  Why?  Let’s talk about that another time.  We fans boast of tolerance.  More accurately, I’ve groaned, we march behind a banner that says Tolerance.  I’ve complained of Diversity for you but not for me – “you have to accommodate me, but I don’t have to accommodate you.”  The death of Nat Hentoff in January reminded me Hentoff was there first, warning against Freedom of speech for me but not for thee.

Politically Jerry was a conservative.  We did not give him an easy time of it.  At his death some of us burst into flame.  The suggestion there might be reason behind De mortuis nil nisi bonum (another Latin tag, “nothing but good of the dead”) was attacked as white-washing.  To our credit Tom Whitmore said “May we remember him for the good he did.”  Likewise among pros Spinrad, Silverberg, Rambo, Martin, to name just four who were plenty divergent from him.

Long-active Los Angeles fan Lee Gold – she edited Tom Digby’s Fan Guest of Honor book for the 51st World Science Fiction Convention – wrote this.

Back in the days of the second LASFS clubhouse [1977-2011; the L.A. Science Fantasy Society sold its third in April 2017], I was standing on the front porch chatting with friends, and Jerry came up to tell me that he’d been talking with the guys off at the side of the clubhouse and they’d decided that no writer had ever voluntarily retired from writing, they’d only stopped when editors or publishers had stopped buying their stuff.  (I think I later read this in Campbell’s or Heinlein’s memoirs, but that’s another story [LG’s parenthesis]).

Anyway as a good would-be Arisian, I ran this generalization quickly down my Visualization of the Cosmic All [E.E. Smith allusions] – and said, “John Campbell.”

“You’re right!” cried Jerry Pournelle and strode back to tell the guys.

I turned back to my conversation.

Five or ten minutes later, Pournelle came back.

“I told the guys what you said,” he told us, “and we all agreed that you were right.”

I’ve been telling that story in Jerry’s honor for decades.

Not just that he was willing to admit that he’d been wrong – something that a lot of people find difficult.

But that he was willing to tell others that he and they had been wrong, and who had said so.

A woman.  A younger woman.

I hope I always have that much intellectual integrity.

I’m content to leave it there.  R.I.P.

A Game of Groans

By John Hertz (reprinted from Vanamonde 1254):  In college I was a very popular and much-sought-after Poker player.  There’s only one way to be a v.p.a.m.s.a. Poker player.  Eventually I realized I could change this by studying the odds and developing skill, but other things attracted my attention and I left off.  That crowd thought Spade Mariah and Anaconda wild games.  I came to L.A. in time for the great L.A. S-F Society Poker days of Double Jesus, Ha-Ha Herman, and Soft Shoe (where you could shuffle off to bluff a low – which Mike Glicksohn called “one of the finest puns of this or any year”, Van 472).

 * * * * *

In the same issue, changing the subject as is easy in a fanzine published every week, John gives this 5-7-5-7-7-syllable acrostic.

Mollification
Amazes those who thought they’d
Zeroed out their lives.
Even we who only watch
Doubt no more honey from weeds.

Another Shoe to Try On

By John Hertz:  While reading a collection of writings by Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935; rhymes with “look”) I was struck by this passage (B. Bokser tr., Abraham Isaac Kook pp. 233-34, 1978; written 1919).

The author is (literary present tense) a mystic.  Thus he starts talking about radiant souls.  You’ll have to see for yourself if the shoe fits and decide whether to wear it.  I had to.

Withdrawal and Sociability

The person with a radiant soul must withdraw into privacy frequently.  The constant company of other people, who are, for the most part, crude in comparison with him, even in their spirituality, dims the clear light of his higher soul.  As a result his important work will diminish.  He might have been able to benefit the people, his society, by frequent withdrawals, without terminating his relationship with them even then.  He would have kept the needs of his generation before him, to pray for them, to delineate their virtues, the treasure of goodness that is in them.  But they will suffer decline through his decline, through reducing his spiritual potency as a result of their distracting closeness to him.

It is very difficult to suffer the company of people, the encounter with persons who are totally immersed in a different world with which a person who is given to spiritually sensitive concerns, to lofty moral aspiration, has no contact.  Nevertheless, it is this very sufferance that ennobles a person and elevates him.  The spiritual influence that a person of higher stature exerts on the environment, which comes about through the constant encounter, purifies the environment.  It lends the graces of holiness and freedom on all who come in contact with him.

And this nobility of a holy grace returns after a while with stronger force and acts on the person himself who exerted the influence, and he becomes sociable, abounding in spirituality and holiness.  This is a higher attribute than the holiness in a state of withdrawal, which is the normal fate of the person to whom the higher spiritual concerns are the foundation of his life.

 

Working Wonders

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1256)  I haven’t yet seen Wonder Woman (P. Jenkins dir. 2017).  I hear Anna Feruglio Dal Dan sat through some of it having misheard WW would fight Eris (goddess of discord), not Ares (god of war).  That’s an inspired misconception.  I agree with Nancy Lebovitz it seems potentially more interesting than the usual combats.  One thinks of the anecdote about Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933; United States President 1923-1929), to whom at a dinner (when asked “Why do you attend such affairs?” he supposedly answered “Must eat somewhere”) his effusive hostess said “I have a bet you’ll say more than two words tonight” upon which he replied “You lose.”  Wonder Woman meets Eris.  Each raises up her Aspect and takes on her Attributes.  Lightning.  Thunder.  Wonder Woman cries “Eris, I am here to fight you à outrance.”  Eris answers “You lose.”  Or just “Aha!”  A while ago – before the 2017 movie – in the company of Len Wein and others who were singing “Wonder Woman!  Wonder Woman!  All the world is waiting for you…. and the wonders you can do….  Make a hawk a dove, stop a war with love” (C. Fox & N. Gimbel 1975, from the L. Carter television series – note WW’s antipathy to Eris in that version – also older ones– if not by name; the question is, what to do against discord) I had clean forgot Len’s involvement with her.

Folly from a Loon

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1260)  Nineteen books after The Fall of the Dutch Republic (1913), The Rise of the Dutch Kingdom (1915), and The Golden Book of the Dutch Navigators (1916), which incidentally had three different publishers, he wrote An Indiscreet Itinerary or How the Unconventional Traveler Should See Holland, by one who was actually born there and whose name is Hendrik Willem Van Loon (1933) for another.  In between he had eight more, one of which having brought out The Story of Mankind (1921; winner of the first Newbery Medal) proceeded to Tolerance (1925) and The Liberation of Mankind: the story of man’s struggle for the right to think (1926); yet another, Multiplex Man, or the Story of Survival through Invention (1928).

Twenty-two books after Itinerary Simon & Schuster published as its fourteenth Van Loon’s Lives: Being a true and faithful account of a number of highly interesting meetings with certain historical personages, from Confucius and Plato to Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson, about whom we had always felt a great deal of curiosity and who came to us as dinner guests in a bygone year (1942), and in 1942 the great reprint house Walter J. Black, Inc., may have been the original publisher (I know no other) of The Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, with a short life of the Author by Hendrik Willem van Loon of Rotterdam who also illustrated the Book.

I hear a 1946 ed’n of Roget’s Int’l Thesaurus is dedicated “To the memory of Hendrik Willem Van Loon [1882-1944], who month after month, year after year, sent additions and changes for this edition”.  I haven’t seen but am willing to believe in C. Van Minnen, Van Loon: Popular Historian, Journalist, and FDR Confidant (2005; F.D. Roosevelt 1882-1945), all which appellations I understand to be correct.

Since one speaks of Rembrandts, or Cézannes, it might be tempting to call his illustrations Toony Loons, but his name rhymes with hone, not moon; he told people to think of loan.  So much of him resonates with us that it might be tempting to say It’s a proud and Loonly thing to be a fan.

His Folly is J. Wilson’s 1668 translation, with L’s eighty-page Life.  I could quarrel with him.

He says “stuffing the book full of learned notes…. might have caused … resentment [when] the erudition of the professor became the real center of interest” (p. 86), leaving readers with no help for Endymion, Momus, Priapus (just to take p. 116), nor perhaps realizing e.g. that in “the Musitian with all his division” (p. 127), division was a technical term of music in the 17th Century.

With “the burghers of Erasmus’ day were completely provincial” (p. 67), “Erasmus [1466-1536] and Luther [1483-1546] were bound to dislike each other….  dressed differently…. laughed at a different kind of joke…. for one of them was a Dutch burgher and the other, a German peasant” (pp. 70-71), he seems to have forgotten explaining “the Middle Ages were … cosmopolitan … in the matter of a common culture and a common code of manners” (p. 56).

Folly is dedicated to Sir Thomas More; alas, Van Loon says M’s Utopia (1516) “represents … England … ruled on a basis of justice and enlightenment” (p. 62).  Utopia is a satire.

The 1993 Penguin Classics ed’n has the 1971 B. Radice translation with A. Levi’s introduction, notes including discoveries since R died in 1985, and markings of E’s revisions through 1532 (E seems to have written Folly privately for M in 1509, rev. for publication 1511 which was faulty, the first ed’n E authorized was 1512, then several more — I couldn’t resist; E’s own title Moriás ’Encómion is a Greek pun [the book is mostly in Latin] on M’s name and anóitos, fool), also E’s 1515 letter to Maarten van Dorp.

The 2015 Princeton Classics ed’n has a foreword by A. Grafton with H. Hudson’s 1941 introduction, translation, outline, notes, and index of proper names (incidentally, both H & R avoid division, H p. 29, R p. 36).  I find Levi’s notes more (shan’t apologize) helpful, and they’re at the feet of pages, where notes belong.  His introduction, which does give the scholarly ground on which E stood, is perhaps a little heavy-handed and Hudson’s better.

But who can set aside Van Loon?  If you know the players without a program, if you know 17th Century English (which he chose “because in [W’s] revaluation of the original Latin he seems to have caught a great deal of the liveliness and vigor of the Erasmian text”, p. 86), if you know the issues of the day enough to catch the jokes, if you can tell when a satirist’s editor has his own axe to grind (meaning all these folks), get him.

Is The Praise of Folly worth your taking up Hudson, then Levi & Radice, then Van Loon & Wilson?  You jes’ betcha.

                                            

Looney Tunes, Warner Bros. 1930-1969; toon, apparently Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (R. Zemeckis dir. 1988).  “It is a proud and lonely thing to be a fan”, R. Bloch’s “A Way of Life” (1956, the pun already circulating in fanzines; “It is a proud and lonely thing to be a man”, W. Macfarlane’s “To Watch the Watchers”, 1949 [Quis custodiet ipsos custodes {Latin, “Who shall guard the guardians?”; Juvenal’s Satire VI, ll. 347-48, about the year 100} had already appeared, brilliantly, in Heinlein’s Space Cadet, 1948]).

Westercon 70 Was Hot

By John Hertz:

Let’s see, if we can,
Xanadu on other worlds,
Xenogamously.

I wasn’t sure I could manage a 5-7-5-syllable acrostic about Westercon LXX.  You may think I didn’t.

Anyway I meant Coleridge’s wonderful poem (not particularly how he may have come to imagine it, nor the Raymond F. Jones story “Person from Porlock”, about the fellow who interrupted him, nor the strange Sturgeon story – “strange Sturgeon story” may be redundant).  “Xenogamy” – cross-fertilization – is from a conversation I had with Kevin Standlee a few years ago about what general-interest cons, like Westercon, are good for.

There are lots of special-interest cons these days.  At a general-interest con you meet people you didn’t know you wanted to meet.

When the chair of next year’s Westercon took the gavel during Closing Ceremonies she quoted that, gosh.

But we trespass upon chronology.

Westercon LXX “Conalope” was 1-4 July 2017 at the Mission Palms Hotel, Tempe, Arizona, combined with local Leprecon XLIII.  Attendance about 600; Art Show sales $5,100 by 31 artists.  The Hospitality Suite had a stuffed-toy jackalope; the newsletter was The Jackalopian.  It being the 70th-anniversary month of something or other in Roswell, New Mexico, just 400 miles away, slant-eyed oval heads were all over.

Author Guest of Honor, Connie Willis; Graphic Artist, Julie Dillon; Fans, Val & Ron Ontell; also Science, Henry Vanderbilt; Special Guests in honor of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, Bjo & John Trimble; Filker (our home-made music, from a 1950s typo of “folk” that stuck), Tim Griffin; Local Author, Gini Koch; Local Artist, Tom Deadstuff; Special Artist, Larry Elmore; Toastmaster, Weston Ochse.

On the cover of the Program Book was my favorite Dillon piece in the Art Show, Skyward Bound, a muscular black man in a knee-length tunic, golden wings strapped to his arms, poised to fly from a cornice in the clouds.

When I say the con was hot I mean it was lively, engaging, fun.  You probably know it was also 110F.  Even in the noonday sun I saw folks basking happily outdoors.  I asked.  They liked it.  There’s diversity for you.

Sarah Clemens leading her Art Show tour said “I couldn’t think of anything more incongruous for dragons to do than pressing flowers.  They’re terrible at it.”  That’s how she painted them.  Also “I like art’s having some ambiguity.  It gives people room to play.”

Regency Dancing had its usual salad bowl (so these must be my salad days) of people in modern clothes, period costume, fantasy and science fiction.  The last four words also describe my adventures teaching folks all over the spectrum from knowing nothing to lots.  I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

The Utah for 2019 Westercon party had Italian sodas.  Also mead from Hive Winery in Layton, where they’ll hold the con (they won).

At the WesternSFA party Craig Dyer gave a cordial reception.  He’d started distilling the best from life in 1988; he was well along by Westercon LVII when I was his Fan Guest of Honor (and where I saw Clemens’ superb “Stigmata”).

Hal Astell the Vice-Chair of LXX told me how well the multitudinous local groups were co-operating.

First Classics of S-F discussion, The Sword of Rhiannon (Leigh Brackett, 1949).  Rich McAllister said, a planetary romance head and shoulders above the rest.  Lin McAllister said it was like The Sea Hawk (M. Curtiz dir. 1940).  I said, look how naturally everything that has to happen, does happen.  Also we see not only “I’ll give them the technology, punish me for it” but why it might have been forbidden.

Enter, Led by a Bear

Art Show chief Annette Sexton-Ruiz taught me about mono silkscreens.  She said half the Show came from mail-ins.  I think it’s vital people can participate from a distance.  Kuma Bear’s tour had, as Lisa Hayes admitted, a simple but limited perspective.  Bears don’t like dogs; dogs fight bears.  Cats steal fish.  Kuma liked Tabitha Ladin’s “Blackberry Bounce” and the Steampunk (with railroad trains!) of an artist identified only as Voit.

Tabitha Ladin’s “Blackberry Bounce”

Leviathan – Voit

I was Chief Hall-Costume Judge; hall costumes, the term we evolved years ago, are the fantasy and science fiction clothes some people wear for strolling the halls.  Marjii Ellers used to call them daily wear from alternative worlds.  Helping me were Elaine Mami, Sandy Manning, Bjo Trimble.  Jim Manning brought me a cookie from Alaska.

On Sunday afternoon I went to “Accurate Science in Science Fiction”.  As usual, the part after the colon was the real title.  Before the colon was “It Doesn’t Work That Way”, which might have been – I’ll let you do it.  Ron Ontell offered the best remark, “I’m only annoyed when after setting out to do science they get it wrong.”

Mami was the Masquerade Director; judges, Bridget Landry, Ochse, Bruce Rowan, Bjo Trimble; workmanship judge, Jocelyn Winters.  Julie Padegimas won Best Novice and the Southwest Costumers’ Guild workmanship award for “Dr. Arson” in red, and boots, and swell make-up; her name meant arson in Lithuanian.

Julie Padegimas as “Dr. Arson.”  Photo credit: Steven Goldstein – Keyhole Productions Photography

Steven Goldstein / Keyhole Productions Photography on Facebook

Sandy Manning won Best Presentation (Novice) for “A Touch of Color”, of course mostly black; expert at running Masquerades, she’s competed little herself.  Randall Whitlock won Best Workmanship (Master) and Best in Show as part of the Cady Family Strange Fabric We-Can-Do-It Challenge, each element judged separately.  He had fine stage presence.

Monday, The Lights In the Sky Are Stars (Fredric Brown, 1953).  Ben Yalow had stopped me in the hotel lobby to say kind things about this set of three.  Stars may be Brown’s only straightforward SF.  And what a wallop!  Bill Green said the protagonist, Max Andrews, was a villain.  Or was he a tragic figure?

At the Star Trek 50th-anniversary party I was neither first nor last to tell the Trimbles “You’re responsible for this.”  John said it was the greatest case of Who knew?  At the Westercon LXXI party (Denver, Colorado) – I think – Rick Moen tried to explain the Norwegian languages Bokmål (in case your software doesn’t show it, that’s a volle, an a with a tiny ring over it) and Nynorsk.

In the Hospitality Suite, talk of Justinian II led me into conversation with Paul Honsinger, whom I hadn’t known I wanted to meet.  Filking; I heard “Water’s been found on the Moon” and the Monster’s Lullaby.

Tuesday, The Time Machine (H.G. Wells, 1895).  R-Laurraine Tutihasi said it’s widely read a hundred years later.  Laura Freas Beraha asked “Who is its intended audience?”  Rich McAllister said it argues that struggle makes intellect.  Linda Deneroff asked “What kind of struggle?”  I asked if the end meant the world of the middle had failed.

For “How Do We Get to the Stars?” Steve Howe brought a chart of energy against distance.  He dared to mention the Orion pulsed-fission model.  A drive using antimatter is conceivable; he’s written about it. Unless I was asleep – always possible – we didn’t get to ramscoops.  You don’t carry much fuel, but what if you arrive somewhere thin of interstellar dust?

The Dead Dog Party (until the last dog is – ) was fine for fireworks.  I recited a poem to Leslie Fish.  Sandra Childress, currently of Tucson – as Woody Bernardi said he was – had been coaching archery.  The hotel lobby had a ten-foot color-photo display from the Arizona State University School of Earth & Space Exploration (gosh) with Ceres, Vesta, Jupiter’s and Saturn’s moons, and the Cassini, Dawn, Galileo, and New Horizons missions.  And so to bed.

We Are Not Alone

By John Hertz: The 2017 Worldcon has concluded, and we return to our regular program – or programme, which reminds me: thanks, Jukka! thanks, everyone!  When I happened on this passage in Chapter 51, the antepenultimate of Trollope’s Barchester Towers (1857), I could have thought the song was about us.

What novelist … can impart an interest to the last chapter of his fictitious history?…  And who can apportion out and dovetail his incidents, dialogues, characters, and descriptive morsels, so as to fit them all exactly in … without either compressing them unnaturally, or extending them artificially at the end of his labour?  Do I not myself know that I am at this moment in want of a dozen pages, and that I am sick with cudgelling my brains to find them?  And then when everything is done, the kindest-hearted critic of them all invariably twits us with the incompetency and lameness of our conclusion.  We have either become idle and neglected it, or tedious and overlaboured it.  It is insipid or unnatural, overstrained or imbecile.  It means nothing, or attempts too much….  Guided by my own lights only, I confess that I despair of success.