I Remember David A. Kyle

Dave Kyle the first time I met him, New York,1991.

[Editor’s note: February 14 was Dave Kyle’s birthday.]

By John L. Coker III: There are not many people active today in science fiction fandom who can recall a time before David A. Kyle (1919-2016) was part of the scene.

Dave had participated in many of the great moments in SF history from the earliest days.  He had personally known and worked with most of the people who were involved in the SF field during the past seventy years or so.  And, he was still excited about it all.

If you were accompanying Dave during a large convention, you better not be in a hurry, because you were going to get to meet everyone there.  He was especially gracious to the younger fans, taking them around, introducing them to people during the weekend.

Over the years, I always found Dave to be a thoughtful, considerate, and well-mannered person, all in the most natural way.  He was modest and glad to share the spotlight, acknowledging the good work of others.  Dave was clever, and really smart, with a wonderful sense of humor.  He told wonderful stories and delivered some terrible puns.

Dave had great capacity for composing well-constructed paragraphs in first draft and he was comfortable speaking in an impromptu manner in front of audiences.  Dave was interesting, knowledgeable, idealistic and stalwart, with genuine depth and a real command of the English language.  He could give legitimacy to any event just by participating, or even with his presence in the audience.  He was generous to friends and strangers.  I can remember occasions as I watched Dave’s well-wishers form a receiving line as they waited to greet him when he entered a crowded room, and then he’d have them sign his book.

He was a professional artist with natural talent and imagination.  And, Dave had a considerable career as a journalist for his family’s newspaper, radio and television stations.  He will likely best be remembered as an author, editor and SF book publisher.

Dave devoted his life to promoting the ideals of science fiction.  He genuinely embodied the ‘sense of wonder.’  He was a pioneer with many first-time accomplishments.  His unique influence will be felt for decades to come.  When fans gather together in the future to share stories, they will all remember the Man in the Red Jacket, David A. Kyle.

Dave Kyle the last time I saw him, Chicago, 2012.

 

Pixel Scroll 1/28/18 I Say We Take Off And Pixel The Entire Scroll From Orbit – It’s The Only Way To Be Sure

(1) DUFF DEADLINE. Down Under Fan Fund nominations for the 2018 race close January 31.  If you’re interested, or have someone else lined up, hop to it!

Nominations are now open for a Down Under Fan Fund delegate from Australia or New Zealand to travel either to San Jose, California, USA for the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, 16–20 August 2018, or to other major conventions in North America in 2018.

(2) EARLY COSPLAY AND THE LA WORLDCON OF 1946. SyFy Wire’s Carol Pinchefsky goes beyond the Ackerman/Douglas collaboration in “Firsts: The first cosplay took place at the first-ever con… in 1939”, drawing on other anecdotes collected by John. L. Coker III, sf historian and editor of the nonfiction book Tales of the Time Travelers: The Adventures of Forrest J. Ackerman and Julius Schwartz:

Coker interviewed other First Fans for Tales of the Time Travelers. Author and fan Len J. Moffatt discussed yet another “first” … the first recorded cosplay fail, which took place at the fourth Worldcon, in 1946:

“[Fan] Dale Hart [pictured above] was an excellent Gray Lensman in a silver-gray form-fitting costume like the Astounding cover by Rogers. The problem was that it was so tight that he could not sit down or dare to bend over.”

Moffatt may also have created another “first” at Pacificon I, the first cosplay routine:

“While at Slan Shack on Bixel Street earlier, I had borrowed some of Myrtle’s green make-up, combed my hair over my ears and turned up my jacket collar to become a comical vampire. I made a better impression earlier when friends carried me into a meeting hall and deposited my rigid body on some lined-up folding chairs. I lay there a long time with eyes closed and hands folded on my chest listening to the wondering remarks of passers-by.”

(3) WRATHFUL SPEECH. Middle-Earth Reflections documents “His sharp tongue or Fëanor’s talent to insult”:

Fëanor the Spirit of Fire was the most gifted of all the Elves in linguistic lore. He could use language so well that his speeches affected those who heard them and inspired them to do different, though not always sensible, things. Thus, being gifted with words and able to use them potently, Finwë’s eldest son was also exceptionally good at insulting others.

(4) BESPOKE AWARD. Charles Payseur unveils he fifth and final category winners: “THE SIPPY AWARDS 2017! The “Where We’re Going We Won’t Need Categories” Sippy for Excellent I Don’t Know What in Short SFF”

The “Where We’re Going We Won’t Need Categories” 

Sippy Awards for Excellent I Don’t Know What in Short SFF

What does it mean? Well, part of the point of this category is…I’m not sure. These are stories that defy conventional definitions and categorization. These are the ones that slip between genres and expectations. They’re…well, a lot of them are weird, but beautiful. Haunting, but fun. Deep and complex and brilliant in the ways they innovate and inspire. So without further delay…

(5) LEADING BY EXAMPLE. Lisa Goldstein’s tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin tells how much she meant to girls who wanted to write science fiction and fantasy:

…Her characters were so real and rounded they became people you wanted to know.  She wrote beautifully, in a field where most writing ranged from serviceable to awkward.  And she was not just smart but wise, someone who could get to the heart of a subject with a few well-chosen words.  I was looking through my copy of The Language of the Night this week and found this: “Fantasy is true, of course.  It isn’t factual, but it is true.”

So I began to think that I could actually do this science-fiction thing.  After all, here was a woman who was, IMHO, doing it better than any male writer.  (And around the same time there were also Joanna Russ and Kate Wilhelm and Carol Emshwiller — and James Tiptree, or course, but we didn’t know her secret then.)  She gave me, and any number of other girls reading science fiction in those years, the courage to try….

(6) TV ARCHEOLOGY. Echo Ishii, in “SF Obscure: Planet of the Apes TV”, discusses two TV adaptations, one live, one animated.

The live action TV series has two new astronauts stranded on future/parallel earth.  In this version, there are human villages-not quite as primitive as the original movies movies-ruled over by Apes as governors and guards. The two astronauts are assisted by another Ape who believes humans are capable of more. It’s a run of the mill action adventure with the planet of the apes spin. Entertaining, but not outstanding. It was, unfortunately, an expensive show and cancelled after 14 episodes.

(7) BEST OF 2016. Greg Hullender notes Rocket Stack Rank is continuing their analysis of the best science fiction and fantasy short fiction from 2016. In the latest installment, they turn their attention to  —“2016 Best SF/F Short Fiction Authors”.

Out of 602 authors, fully 74% had only one story published in our survey of 887 stories, so we’re picking from a huge diversity of authors.

On the other hand, there’s remarkable consistency among our pool of recommenders: 72% of recommendations went to the top 20% of authors, and 40% got no recommendations at all. It’s true that different reviewers have different opinions, but it’s also true that there’s a sort of broad consensus around who the best authors are.

(8) WHOHIKER. Andrew Hickey reviews Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen, the book by James Goss based on a possible Doctor Who film script by Douglas Adams. It is a positive review with a caveat:

So you can be fairly sure that if you’re the kind of person who would even vaguely consider maybe reading a book like this, you’ll come away having read a book that at least matches your expectations, and maybe exceeds them.

(9) NOT APOLITICAL. How some people were spared persecution in WWII. The thread starts here –

And here’s one of the reasons you’ll want to read it:

(10) SMITH OBIT. Mark E. Smith, the leader and singer/songwriter of influential British post-punk band The Fall, died January 24 at the age of 60. In his last interview a reporter for The Guardian asked whether he saw the most recent Blade Runner since he was a “big fan” of Philip K. Dick movies. As usual, Smith was not exactly diplomatic:

I think the original Blade Runner is the most obscene film ever made, I fucking hated it. The Man in the High Castle is one of my favourite books; how they fucked that TV show up I don’t know. It gets blander and blander. In the book the level of comprehension of that world is fucking astounding, in the show it’s just everybody going around normally except they’ve got swastika armbands on. The only good Philip K Dick film is Total Recall, it’s faithful to the book. Arnie gets it. I was physically sick watching A Scanner Darkly, it was like an episode of Cheers painted over except they all smoke dope and imagine women with no clothes on.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 28, 1986 — At 11:38 a.m. EST the space shuttle Challenger lifts off from Cape Canaveral, then explodes.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born January 28, 1959 – Frank Darabont
  • Born January 28, 1981 – Elijah Wood, who played Frodo in the Lord of the Rings movies.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Michael J. Walsh, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian all saw what happens when a young writer picks sf, in Non Sequitur.
  • John King Tarpinian found a mock terrifying surprise in Lio.

(14) OKORAFOR SAGA. NPR’s Amal el-Mohtar says “Binti’s Story Is Finished — But Don’t Expect Completion”.

Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti trilogy is now complete: The Night Masquerade is the final instalment in a series she’s described as “African girl leaves home. African girl returns home. African girl becomes home.” It’s a beautiful proposed structure, a Hero’s Journey that rings truer for me than Joseph Campbell’s, resonating deeply with my experiences of diaspora, roots, and community. Binti left her Himba family on Earth in order to travel to Oomza University, far beyond the stars; she left Oomza in an attempt to manage her trauma and find herself again in the deserts of her home; and there, in the desert, she incorporated new revelations about her history into the anthology of herself, before being shocked into an awareness of impending doom.

(15) WHEN WILL YOU MAKE AN END? NPR’s Scott Tobias on “‘The Maze Runner: The Death Cure’: Nice Guy Finishes, At Last”:

The Maze Runner is the rare series that has improved with each installment, expanding beyond the organic pen of the first film into a bigger and more thrillingly realized science fiction sandbox. Though its young leads are mostly blah, the franchise has steadily accumulated character actors to liven things up, like Gillen, Esposito, and Pepper in the second film and now Walton Goggins in the third as the deformed leader of the Cranks. While Ball tries for too much in the needlessly protracted finale, he’s supremely confident in staging the action sequences, which usually rely on a meticulously orchestrated set of circumstances.

(16) IT’S NOT FICTION. BBC reports about “Of Mice and Old Men: Silicon Valley’s quest to beat ageing”.

To understand what’s happening in the tech world today, you need to look back to the mid-1800s, when a Frenchman named Paul Bert made a discovery that was as gruesome as it was fascinating.

In his experiment, rodents were quite literally stitched together in order to share bloodstreams. Soon after he found the older mice started showing signs of rejuvenation: better memory, improved agility, an ability to heal more quickly. In later years, researchers at institutions like Stanford would reinforce this work.

The extraordinary technique became known as parabiosis, and forms the basis of efforts at Alkahest, a California start-up that is banking on being able to apply those rejuvenative effects to people, rather than mice. It’s an idea so fantastical it wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of Silicon Valley, the HBO send-up of the start-up scene.

(17) HELPING WATER TAKE SHAPE. An article about digital effects in The Shape of Water: “How visual effects studio Mr. X helped create ‘The Shape of Water’ and its lovable merman”.

It turns out that Jones’ impressive costume and makeup (and his equally impressive performance) only accounts for part of what we see on-screen. Trey Harrell, CG supervisor at visual effects house Mr. X, told me, “Every single shot of the film where you see the creature is a visual effects shot.”

After all, Harrell said that while “Doug is an amazing actor,” his face was also hidden under “an inch of and a half of foam latex.” So at the very least, Mr. X had to create the merman’s eye and face movements. In other instances, like when the merman was viewed swimming inside the lab’s capsule, Mr. X was responsible for the entire creature.

(18) ACCUSATION. Someone has made a claim about the source of the story — “Guillermo del Toro accused of stealing story of ‘Shape of Water’ from 1969 play” reports the New York Daily Post.

Guillermo del Toro has been accused of stealing the storyline of “Shape of Water” from Pulitzer-winning playwright Paul Zindel.

David Zindel, the son of the playwright, who died in 2003, claims del Toro’s story is taken from his father’s 1969 “Let Me Hear You Whisper,” about “a female janitor in a research laboratory who bonds with a captive dolphin and tries to rescue the creature.”

“We are shocked that a major studio could make a film so obviously derived from my late father’s work without anyone recognizing it and coming to us for the rights,” Zindel told the Guardian.

… Fox Searchlight denied that the “Shape of Water” storyline was stolen.

“Guillermo del Toro has never read nor seen Mr. Zindel’s play in any form. Mr. del Toro has had a 25 year career during which he has made 10 feature films and has always been very open about acknowledging his influences,” a spokesman told the Guardian.

(19) I’M FEELING BETTER! Scott Tilley was listening for something else when the unexpected happened: “Amateur astronomer discovers a revived NASA satellite”.

After years in darkness, a NASA satellite is phoning home.

Some 12 years since it was thought lost because of a systems failure, NASA’s Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) has been discovered, still broadcasting, by an amateur astronomer. The find, which he reported in a blog post this week, presents the possibility that NASA could revive the mission, which once provided unparalleled views of Earth’s magnetosphere.

The astronomer, Scott Tilley, spends his free time following the radio signals from spy satellites. On this occasion, he was searching in high-Earth orbit for evidence of Zuma, a classified U.S. satellite that’s believed to have failed after launch. But rather than discovering Zuma, Tilley picked up a signal from a satellite labeled “2000-017A,” which he knew corresponded to NASA’s IMAGE satellite. Launched in 2000 and then left for dead in December 2005, the $150 million mission was back broadcasting. It just needed someone to listen.

(20) RARITY. Offered on eBay for $2,000 – the NAL paperback of The Day After Tomorrow signed by Robert A,. Heinlein to his publisher:

HEINLEIN, ROBERT A. The Day After Tomorrow. New York: Signet – New American Library, 1964. First Paperback Edition. Signed and inscribed by Robert A. Heinlein with a superb inscription to his publisher: “To Kurt Enoch, President of N.A.L. With books as with icebergs it is the unseen 7/8-s which permits the 1/8 to be seen. Thanks! Bob Heinlein”. Originally published as Sixth Column, this copy is enclosed in a custom cloth clamsell box. Paperbound, very good clean copy. From the library of Dr. Kurt Enoch (1895-1982) who was a noted German publisher, forced to flee the Nazis, landing in New York in 1940. In 1948, Dr. Enoch co-founded and became President of New American Library – Signet Books which became one of the successful and acclaimed post-war publishing houses. Enoch went on to become one of the most highly regarded figures in American book publishing.

(21) YOUR MOVE. The mention in yesterday’s Scroll about Richard Paolinelli asking someone to guess his chess ranking inspired this parody of “One Night in Bangkok” (from Chess) by Matthew Johnson (and the last two lines by Soon Lee):

Twitter’s gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than if you go
To San Jose for a cruddy old Hugo

I don’t see you guys making
The nine-dimensional move I’m contemplating
I’d let you watch, I would invite you
But our Gargoyles DVDs would not excite you

So you’d better go back to your Files, your SFWA forums,
Your cat cafes

One night in genre and worlds are your oyster
The Scrolls are Pixels and the comment’s free
My pups are friendly and their noses moister
No politics in SF history
I can feel Bob Heinlein walking next to me
His mistresses are harsh, and his lunch ain’t free.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Soon Lee, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Rob Thornton, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Norman F. Stanley (1916-2016)

Norman F. Stanley, circa 1970s.

Norman F. Stanley, circa 1970s.

By Jon D. Swartz and John L. Coker III: Born in May 1916, Norm Stanley was a science fiction (SF) fan from Maine who was very active in fandom in the 1940s.  He was a member of the famous Stranger Club, and was one of the club members who attended Noreascon 3 as a Fan Guest of Honor.

Norm was also tangentially involved in the Skowhegan Junior Astronomical and Rocket Society, the kind of fan club that combined both science and SF activities and was common in this country in the 1930s and 1940s.  He was generous with his fellow club members, and  let them borrow from his seventy bound-volumes of SF prozines.

He attended early conventions such as Philcon, as well as some of the early Boskones.  He also participated in Mainecon Jr, a “conference” in the language of the times, in 1943, with his friend Jim Avery and the visiting Claude Degler.  He gave Degler some fanzines, and got along well with him.  This generosity of his, plus the “conference” they had had with Avery, apparently qualified him to be a member of Degler’s legendary Cosmic Circle.  Norm was still active in fan matters in the late 1940s, and attended the 1948 Torcon where he participated in a roundtable discussion on the probable date of the arrival of interplanetary travel.

Norm’s major fanzine was Fan-Tods, which ran for nineteen issues.  He also published Beyond with Roscoe E. Wright.  Fan-Tods was a SF fanzine that was subtitled “The Magazine for the Tod Fan.”  It appeared in the 1940s-1950s, and was edited and published by Norm from his home in Rockland, Maine.  This fanzine was mimeographed using blue ink.  Issue #1 appeared in December, 1942; with #2 appearing in Spring, 1943; #7 in Summer, 1944; and then following a regular quarterly schedule until issue #18 in 1949 — after which there was a three-year break; and then Issue #19 was published in the Fall of 1952, and was the last issue.  Fan-Tods was an apazine, distributed through FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Association), and then VAPA (Vanguard Amateur Press Association).  Cover illustrations were by Wright, among others.  By issue #7, Wright had become a co-editor.  SF historian Harry Warner once described Norm as “a power force in FAPA.”  

Jack Speer’s 1944 poll of the top SF fans found Fan-Tods to be among the nation’s top five fanzines.  On the other hand, in 1947 – in his fanzine Matters of Opinion Speer wrote an article, “The People vs. Norman F. Stanley,” that was very critical of the 16th issue of Fan-Tods.

In the 1940s, Norm was very much a member of the “sense of wonder” camp of SF.  According to Warner’s All Our Yesterdays, when Norm’s mother told him about atomic bombs and Hiroshima he remembered thinking:  “I confess my first reaction was one of elation, which even the obvious misgivings couldn’t quench. ‘Geez, we might blow up the whole planet,’ I thought, ‘but it’s still wonderful.’ ”

In addition to his fanzine work, Norm wrote for the SF prozines, including several letters to Astounding Science Fiction.  Three of his letters were published in 1938, two in 1939, and one in 1940.  In addition, he had an essay (“The Theory of Thing Things”) published in the 1948 Torcon Report.

Norm was one of the original members of First Fandom; and he was elected to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2013.

Norman and Eleanor

Norman and Eleanor

Norman F. Stanley passed away on October 22, 2016, at the Sussman House, Rockport, Maine, with his family in attendance.  He was 100 years of age.  He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Eleanor, their two children, a granddaughter, and four children of a nephew.

Here is a link to the obituary notice that appeared in The Courier Gazette / The Camden Herald on October 26, 2016:  http://knox.villagesoup.com/p/norman-stanley/1588807

norman-stanley

Sources: All Our Yesterdays; The Immortal Storm; Fancyclopedia 3; ISFDB; Wikipedia; and other Internet sites.

Pixel Scroll 9/25/16 Keep Your Scrolls Close, But Keep Your Pixels Closer

(1) SFWA IN A TENT. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America had a tent at this year’s Baltimore Book Festival. Here’s some highlights.

The SFWA line up #bmorebookfest

A post shared by Anne Tibbets (@annetibbets) on

(2) OVERTIME. William Patrick Maynard tells how “Phileas Fogg Finds Immortality” at Black Gate.

When Jules Verne created gentleman adventurer Phileas Fogg in his 1873 novel, Around the World in Eighty Days, he had no way of imagining the bizarre turn his character’s chronicles would take a century later. When Philip Jose Farmer added The Other Log of Phileas Fogg to his Wold Newton Family series in 1973, he had no way of imagining that four decades later there would exist a Wold Newton specialty publisher to continue the esoteric literary exploits of some of the last two centuries’ most fantastic characters.

(3) HOW THIS YEAR’S HUGO BASES WERE MADE. Read artist Sara Felix’s Facebook post about creating the bases. And there’s an Instagram from the company that did the fabrication.

(4) HUGO LOSER DIFFERENT FROM JUST PLAIN LOSER. The Vancouver Sun ran an article on Sebastian de Castell, with a Puppyish spin on events, “The time George R.R. Martin called Vancouver writer Sebastien de Castell a loser”.

It was nothing personal, though. In fact, it had little to do with de Castell at all. De Castell was at the annual celebration of science fiction and fantasy writing/fandom because he had made the Hugo shortlist for best new writer. De Castell figured he would lose to Andy Weir of The Martian fame — he was correct in this prediction — and he assumed Martin believed the same thing.

But Martin was also reacting to the fact that de Castell had been nominated in part because of the efforts of two fan voting blocs: the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies. The Puppies groups have caused chaos in the Hugo Awards and the broader sci-fi and fantasy communities lately by trying to fight what they see as the takeover of the awards by “social justice warriors” who vote for politically correct works at the expense of good writing and storytelling. Both the Sad Puppies, created by bestselling author Larry Correia, and the Rabid Puppies, launched by right-wing writer Vox Day, have put forward slates of suggested writers and works to vote for, and de Castell wound up on just such a list much to his surprise.

Sebastien de Castell elaborated in this Reddit thread: As Peter [reporter Peter Darbyshire] noted in the article, George R.R. Martin wasn’t being hurtful towards me at all–he was simply calling it as he saw it and, of course, was completely correct in his assessment. My mature, adult self understood that there was nothing ungracious on his part in our very brief encounter. My eight year-old inner self, of course, had quite reasonably been expecting his first words to me to be, “What? Sebastien de Castell? By Jove, chap, I’ve been looking all over for you in order to praise your works as the finest in a generation. Also, because I’d love your thoughts on the final books in A Song of Ice & Fire…I happen to have some early pages here if you’d like to read them?”

That’s what Peter and I were discussing in that portion of the interview–the gap for me between feeling like a “big time author” and coming face-to-face with the reality of being a guy who’s really still very much in the early stages of his career.

The most interesting thing about WorldCon (MidAmericon II) for me was how kind people were to me overall. I was very cognizant that my presence on the Campbell shortlist was controversial and likely painful to a lot of people within that community. They had every reason to suspicious and even dismissive of me, but in fact folks were generous and welcoming. David Gerrold gave me some excellent advice on completing the final book in the Greatcoats series, Alyssa Wong was terrific and fun to hang out with (we were the only two Campbell nominees in attendance so our official photos got pretty silly), and I got to spend some time chatting with the brilliant Michael Swanwick.

(5) DC EXPLORING 2024 WORLDCON BID. Their polished website suggests a group that is doing more than just thinking about it, however, they say DC in 2024 is still in the exploratory stage.

We are members of the Baltimore-Washington Area Worldcon Association, Inc. (BWAWA). In 2013, we launched DC17, a bid to host the 2017 Worldcon in Washington, DC at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel… but we lost to Worldcon 75.

We’re back to explore the possibility of hosting the 82nd Worldcon in 2024. Washington, DC is still a super location for a World Science Fiction Convention and we believe it’s time Worldcon returned to DC for the third time. The year 2024 will be the 50th anniversary of Discon II, the last DC Worldcon.

We are still very early in the planning stage. Please check back for information on supporting our bid and our future activities. Our social media links are also still under construction.

They’re exploring right now – but I expect they’ll find they’re bidding if they keeping looking.

(6) WEINBERG OBIT.  SF Site News reports Robert Weinberg (1946-2016) passed away today.

Author Robert Weinberg (b.1946) died on September 25. Weinberg began publishing fiction in 1967 and from 1970 to 1981 edited the fanzine Pulp about pulp magazines. He wrote for Marvel Comics and was known for his art collection. Weinberg also ran a mail order book business until 1997. Weinberg received a special committee award at Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon.

Here is the citation that was read at Chicon 7 when Weinberg was presented with his Special Committee Award.

Each year, the Worldcon committee is entitled to recognize someone who has made a difference in our community.  Someone who has made science fiction fandom a better place.  This can be a fan, an author, a bookseller, a collector, a con-runner, or someone who fits into all those and more.  This year, Chicon 7 is pleased to recognize someone who fits into all of those categories.

Robert Weinberg attended his first meeting of the Eastern SF Association in 1963, discovered the club offered something he liked, and became active, eventually becoming the club’s president in 1968.  Maintaining an interest in the pulp magazines which formed so much of the basis for what we read today, Bob published fourteen issues of the fanzine, Pulp, from 1974 through 1980.

In 1968, Bob began publishing readers guides to the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, eventually expanding both to book length and publishing additional guides and books about the pulp magazines and the authors who wrote for them.  1973 saw his publication of WT50, an anniversary tribute to Weird Tales, a magazine to which Bob would acquire the rights in 1979 and help revive.

Bob is a collector of science fiction and fantasy art from the 40s, 50s, and 60s, working to preserve art which otherwise might have been lost. His interest in art collection also led to him writing A Biographical Dictionary of SF & Fantasy Artists, which served as a basis for Chicon 7’s Guest of Honor Jane Frank’s own A Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists.

Beginning in 1976, Bob began serving as the co-chairman of the Chicago Comicon, then the second largest comic book convention in the United States.  He continued in that position for twenty years before it was sold to Wizard Entertainment.  During that time, Bob also chaired the World Fantasy Convention when it came to Chicago on two different occasions and in 1978 he co-chaired the first major Doctor Who convention in the United States.

Bob has also written his own books, both non-fiction and fiction.. His first novel, The Devil’s Auction, was published in 1988 with more than a dozen novels and collections to follow.  He worked with Martin H. Greenberg to edit and publish numerous anthologies beginning in the 1980s.

Not content to write his own books and monographs, run conventions, and collect art, Bob also, for several years, ran the mail-order Weinberg Books.  Bob offered advice to Alice Bentley when she was setting up The Stars Our Destination, a science fiction specialty bookstore in Chicago from 1988 through 2003.  In 1997, Bob sold his mail order business to Alice.

Bob’s long career as a fan, author, bookseller, collector, and con-runner has helped make science fiction the genre, and the community, it is today.  Chicon 7 would like to recognize Robert Weinberg for his years of service and devotion given to advancing the field of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

(7) PETERSON OBIT. First Fandom member Robert C. Peterson (1921-2016) died August 15. John Coker III wrote the following appreciation:

Robert C. Peterson (May 30, 1921 – August 15, 2016)

Robert Constant Peterson passed away on August 15 after a brief illness.  He is survived by his four sons, John, James, Alan, and Douglas, and his grandchildren, Katherine, Eric, Diana, and Jay.

Robert was preceded in death by his wife of over 50 years, Winifred.

Robert graduated in 1942 from the University of Wyoming and served in the U.S. Army during World War II.  He was an avid hiker and was an active member of the Colorado Mountain Club.  He led hikes for the club until just before he turned 80.  He met his wife, Winifred, on a mountain club hike.

Robert was an early fan of science fiction.  In 1994 he was elected to the First Fandom Hall of Fame, and in 2008 he received the Sam Moskowitz Archive Award in recognition of his SF collection.

Robert and Winifred were lifelong members of the Washington Park United Church of Christ and were strong supporters of social justice.  They supported Winifred’s sister Gretchen in her work at the Asian Rural Institute (ARI) in Japan.  Robert and Winifred travelled extensively in the U.S. and throughout the world.

In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the American Friends of the ARI (http://www.friends-ari.org/).

(8) GARMAN OBIT. Jack Garman (1944-2016), credited with a judgment call that saved the first moon landing, died September 20 at the age of 72.

On July 20, 1969, moments after mission control in Houston had given the Apollo 11 lunar module, Eagle, the O.K. to begin its descent to the moon, a yellow warning light flashed on the cockpit instrument panel. “Program alarm,” the commander, Neil Armstrong, radioed. “It’s a 1202.”

The alarm appeared to indicate a computer systems overload, raising the specter of a breakdown. With only a few minutes left before touchdown on the moon, Steve Bales, the guidance officer in mission control, had to make a decision: Let the module continue to descend, or abort the mission and send the module rocketing back to the command ship, Columbia.

By intercom, Mr. Bales quickly consulted Jack Garman, a 24-year-old engineer who was overseeing the software support group from a back-room console. Mr. Garman had painstakingly prepared himself for just this contingency — the possibility of a false alarm.

“So I said,” he remembered, “on this backup room voice loop that no one can hear, ‘As long as it doesn’t reoccur, it’s fine.’”

At 4:18 p.m., with only 30 seconds of fuel remaining for the descent, Mr. Armstrong radioed: “Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Mr. Garman, whose self-assurance and honed judgment effectively saved mankind’s first lunar landing, died on Tuesday outside Houston. He was 72. His wife, Susan, said the cause was complications of bone marrow cancer.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • September 25, 1959 — Hammer’s The Mummy, seen for the first time in the UK on this day.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOYS

  • Born September 25, 1930  — Shel Silverstein
  • Born September 25, 1951 – Mark Hamill
  • Born September 25, 1952  — Christopher Reeve

(11) JUST BEFORE THE FINAL FRONTIER. Need an excuse to feel miserable? Read “Leonard Nimoy Died Hating William Shatner” at About Entertainment.

(12) CULTURAL APPROPRIATION DEBATE. Kaitlyn Greenidge makes some trenchant comments in “Who Gets To Write What?” for the New York Times.

…Claudia Rankine, when awarded the MacArthur genius grant this past week, noted that the prize was “the culture saying: We have an investment in dismantling white dominance in our culture. If you’re trying to do that, we’re going to help you.” For some, this sounds exciting. For others, this reads as a threat — at best, a suggestion to catch up and engage with a subject, race, that for a long time has been thought of as not “universal,” not “deep” enough for fiction. The panic around all of this is driving these outbursts.

It must feel like a reversal of fate to those who have not been paying attention. The other, who has been relegated to the background character, wise outcast, dash of magic, or terror or cool or symbolism, or more simply emotional or physical whore, is expected to be the main event, and some writers suspect that they may not be up for that challenge.

A writer has the right to inhabit any character she pleases — she’s always had it and will continue to have it. The complaint seems to be less that some people ask writers to think about cultural appropriation, and more that a writer wishes her work not to be critiqued for doing so, that instead she get a gold star for trying.

Whenever I hear this complaint, I am reminded of Toni Morrison’s cool assessment of “anti-P.C. backlash” more than 20 years ago: “What I think the political correctness debate is really about is the power to be able to define. The definers want the power to name. And the defined are now taking that power away from them.”

This debate, or rather, this level of the debate, is had over and over again, primarily because of an unwillingness on one side to consider history or even entertain a long line of arguments in response. Instead, what often happens is a writer or artist acts as though she is taking some brave stand by declaring to be against political correctness. As if our entire culture is not already centered on a very particular version of whiteness that many white people don’t even inhabit anymore. And so, someone makes a comment or a statement without nuance or sense of history, only with an implicit insistence that writing and publishing magically exist outside the structures of power that dominate every other aspect of our daily lives.

Imagine the better, stronger fiction that could be produced if writers took this challenge to stretch and grow one’s imagination, to afford the same depth of humanity and interest and nuance to characters who look like them as characters who don’t, to take those stories seriously and actually think about power when writing — how much further fiction could go as an art.

(13) THE VOX DAY FASHION SHOW. Day spared no effort to fit into the theme of a 5K he ran —  “The Color Run: a story of courage, endurance, and ninjas, part I”.

Spacebunny and Vox Day.

Spacebunny and Vox Day.

We got up very early, so early that it was pretty much a toss of the coin as to whether I’d just stay up all night or not, and made the drive to Lausanne, Switzerland, where we met our friends with whom we were doing the run. We changed in the parking lot, where it was much appreciated how my multicolored tutu nicely matched the colorful logo of the t-shirts we were provided. It was rather cold, which inspired Spacebunny to deliver an equally colorful soliloquy in appreciation for the generosity of the donors who were the reason she was wearing nothing but a bikini under her tutu.

Which, of course, was not as pretty as mine, as hers was only yellow. I pointed out that she would probably be glad to not be wearing very much in the way of clothing once we started running and the sun rose a bit higher in the sky, an intelligent observation that impressed her to such an extent that she expressed a keen wish to feel my teeth in her flesh, a sentiment that she managed to phrase in an admirably succinct manner. She was also delighted to discover that while there were people wearing everything from unicorn suits to dragon outfits, she was the only runner in a bikini.

The Color Run happens in hundreds of town internationally in the course of a year:

The Color Run is a five-kilometer, un-timed event in which thousands of participants, or “Color Runners”, are doused from head to toe in different colors at each kilometer. With only two rules, the idea is easy to follow:

1Wear white at the starting line!

2Finish plastered in color!

After Color Runners complete the race, the fun continues with an unforgettable Finish Festival. This larger than life party is equipped with music, dancing and massive color throws, which create millions of vivid color combinations. Trust us, this is the best post-5k party on the planet!

(14) REAL NEWS AND A FAKE TRAILER. From Den of Geek, “Doctor Who Spinoff: Class – Latest News”.

Peter Capaldi will be appearing in the first episode of Class! The show announced the good news via its social media accounts.

We also know that the show’s first two episodes will premiere in the UK on October 22nd. The Twitter account also announced the titles of the first two episodes: “For Tonight We Might Die” and “The Coach With the Dragon Tattoo.” Whoa. That first one is dark and that second one really does sound like it could be a Buffy episode….

Sadly, we don’t yet have an official trailer for Class, though we do have an amazing fanmade one that is pretty brilliant in showing a potential tone of the show and put it into context within the larger Doctor Who universe. It gives a sense of just how ingrained the Coal Hill School has been in the Doctor Who world.

 

[Thanks to Steven H Silver, Bartimaeus, Andrew Porter, JJ, Cat Rambo, A wee Green Man, and John King Tarpinian, for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor IanP.]

Remembering Jack Robins (1919-2015)

By Jon D. Swartz & John L. Coker III: First Fandom original member Jack Robins passed away on December 23, 2015 after a brief illness. Robins was a science fiction (SF) fan who belonged to the International Scientific Association (ISA) in the early 1930s [invited by Walter Kubilius to attend a meeting], was a member of the famed Futurian Society of New York when it was formed in the late 1930s [inviting a former classmate of his, Isaac Asimov, to join], was part of the small group of Futurians (that included Donald Wollheim, John Michel and Fred Pohl) that organized the Committee for the Political Advancement of Science Fiction (CPASF), and he also attended the first Worldcon (Nycon) in 1939 (despite the Exclusion Act that prevented some of the other Futurians from attending).

Robins was born February 17, 1919, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. His siblings were much older, and he “was like an only child.” Born Jack Rubinson, he legally changed his name to Jack Robins. After he left the Futurians, he earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (which later merged with NYU), but he maintained an interest in SF his entire life.

In the late 1930s Robins published two issues of his fanzine The Scientific Thinker. In the early 1940s, he published ten issues of another fanzine, Looking Ahead. Later he contributed an article, “Sex in Science Fiction,” to Geep!, The Book of the National Fantasy Fan Federation (1987). In addition, he has written LoCs, articles, and reviews for fanzines, including The Fan and Tightbeam for the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) and Scientifiction for First Fandom.

Looking Ahead No. 3. Ed. Jack Robins. (March 1940) COMP

Jack recalled the summer of 1936:

Walter Kubilius introduced me to the ISA. These were people like me. They read and lived science fiction! They met in William Sykora’s basement and issued a mimeographed fan magazine to which I contributed. In 1937, Sykora closed his door, but the group reformed and became the Futurians. I still have fond memories of the group, and feelings of the warm comradery of those early days.

 

Walter Kubilius (late-1930s).

Walter Kubilius (late-1930s).

Robins has just missed being included in several important events in the history of fandom. Once, he was away when pictures of attendees at an early meeting of SF fans were taken, a meeting that became known as the First Eastern Conference. At the premier performance of the movie Things to Come, Robins left before a party that took place among fans that included Wollheim, Michel, Pohl, and James Blish. Robins was forgotten later when Wollheim wrote about those who had seen the movie and attended the party.

He missed out on other historic events because he was attending college classes, did not have enough money for required expenses, or was uncertain about dates (not having a telephone at the time). When the ISA decided to produce a movie and asked for scripts, Jack submitted one, but his was chosen as a backup in case the first choice did not work out.

Robins was a photographer who made a number of historic pictures of the Futurians.

He recalls a long walk that they all took:

Once, during the 1939 World’s Fair Days, Wollheim, Michel, Lowndes, Chester Cohen, and I decided to make a trip to Tarrytown. After taking the IRT all the way to the last stop in the Bronx, we then walked, walked, and walked, until we finally reached our destination. I had taken along a cheap 35mm camera to take pictures of all my friends, but I neglected to ask anyone to take a picture of me. We found a diner, but Lowndes and I were too poor to pay for a meal. Later, when our excursion ended, we took the train back down to the City, and then took the subway back to our homes.

 

(L-R) Robert W. Lowndes, Donald A. Wollheim, Chester Cohen, Cyril Kornbluth, John B. Michel. (Photograph by Jack Robins.)

(L-R) Robert W. Lowndes, Donald A. Wollheim, Chester Cohen, Cyril Kornbluth, John B. Michel. (Photograph by Jack Robins.)

Years later, when he had a subscription to Locus, Robins saw a notice by Damon Knight seeking former Futurians. Knight wanted documents related to the famous SF fan club for the tell-all book he was writing. Robins sent him what he had, but all Knight used in his 1977 book, The Futurians, was a couple of pictures that Robins had taken.

In his 1983 book relating his memories of SF’s Golden Age, The Way the Future Was, Frederik Pohl barely mentioned Robins. Later, in commenting on Robins’ activities as a Futurian, Pohl referred to him as “the smiling guy in the background.” Another time – after acknowledging that Robins had been a Futurian from the beginning — he described him as more of an auditor than a participant.

One of the reasons for his exclusion from some Futurian activities probably was the fact that Robins was a “science man” and was not a would-be writer. Although he wrote some fan plays, he went on to earn three college degrees and became a research chemist with a doctorate. Most of the Futurians aspired to be professional SF writers and editors, not professional scientists. Another “science man” was Asimov, who had gone to Boys High School with Robins.

In 1984, Robins retired from his job with the Atlas Powder Company in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, where he had worked for twenty-five years as a research chemist. Over the ensuing years Jack wrote family histories, convention reports, articles, poetry, sonnets, and plays, including a tribute to the Futurians, entitled “The Ivory Tower.” In retirement Jack was busier than ever, writing a column of non-fiction articles for his condo newspaper and working on his memoirs. In addition, he was at one time co-president of the computer club at his condo and the person in charge of publicity.

Robins was optimistic: “The world is full of wonder to me. Many scientists developed their interest in science after reading science fiction and some inventors attribute their creations to their knowledge of science fiction. I see the influence of STF everywhere.”

Jack was happily married for sixty-six years to Lottie, the love of his life. They shared an interest in photography and Classical music. They adored each other and enjoyed the daily company of family and friends. Then, after a brief illness, Jack passed away.

Jack Robins was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame and made a N3F Life Member, both in 2012. He was a life-long genuine enthusiast who knew many of the early fans and was present as history was unfolding. Jack pursued his dream of going to college and becoming a real scientist. His written accounts and photographs have become an important part of the record of the early days of science fiction fandom.

Other Awards Presented at the Hugo Ceremony

At Sasquan’s Hugo Ceremony on August 22, the winners of several other significant awards were announced.

Ben Yalow in 2013. Photo by Lawrence Person.

Big Heart Award: Sue Francis presented the Big Heart Award for 2015 to Ben Yalow. (David A. Kyle, in charge of the award, did not attend.) Ben has since expanded his acceptance remarks and posted them on Facebook:

I’m thrilled and overwhelmed by the honor shown me with this Big Heart. I join an extraordinary list of people, and I feel amazed to be included with that group. And I’m even more amazed by the outpouring of support from all the people who made it clear this weekend that they think the honor was deserved. But it’s not really just me receiving this. It’s all the people who welcomed me into fandom 45 years ago, and continued to do so. And the wonderful people who I’ve worked with through all these years, who have taught me so much, and given me the honor of their wisdom and support through all these years. This Big Heart isn’t just to me — it’s to all of you who helped me to give back to the community, and to the community from which I’ve received so much. My fellow staff of fannish activities have shaped me, and rewarded me with their support and guidance throughout the years — and I owe them far more than the mere thanks I can give in a post like this. And, to all of you, I hope to continue to be able to give back what I can in the future, knowing that I’ve received far more than I can ever return.

First Fandom Awards for 2015: Steve Francis was emcee, presiding over the First Fandom Awards segment at the outset of the Hugo ceremony.

Julian May.

Julian May.

First Fandom Hall of Fame Award: John Hertz kindly accepted the award on behalf of Julian May. May chaired the Tenth World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago in 1952, and went on to a career writing sf, fantasy, horror and children’s fiction.

First Fandom Posthumous Hall of Fame

  • Margaret Brundage
  • Bruce Pelz
  • F. Orlin Tremaine

Sam Moskowitz Archive Award

  • David Aronovitz, “for excellence in collecting.”

Special Committee Award: The Sasquan committee presented a posthumous Special Committee Award to Jay Lake, which was accepted by his sister, Mary Elizabeth. She was accompanied onstage by Lake’s daughter, Bronwyn.

[Thanks to John L. Coker III for the story.]

Update: Added Special Committee Award.

More on the Bradbury Building

At the Worldcon in 2006, Forrest J Ackerman gave a talk entitled “My Life Inside a Time Machine” in which he mentioned the Bradbury Building. Fanhistorian John L. Coker III recorded and later transcribed his remarks, and included them in his book Tales of the Time Travelers.

(Forrest J Ackerman) “My grandfather, George Herbert Wyman, was the architect of the legendary Bradbury Building, featured in Bladerunner, and Wolf, and Demon with a Glass Hand, and many mundane movies. It was interesting the way it came about for him to architect that building. He had never even done a doghouse. He was an apprentice in the office of the best-known architects of the day, and he had read the bestseller, the science fiction novel Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy. It is a story of the man who went to sleep in 1895 and woke up in the year 2000. In the novel there was one page that described the interior of an office building in the year 2000. My grandfather was just making some little designs bringing that page to life. Bradbury looked over his shoulder and said. “Well, young man, that’s the kind of a building I want.” My grandfather said, “Gee, I’m only an apprentice here. I don’t know if I should take the job away from my boss.” Bradbury said, “I want you or nobody.”

bellamyCoker published Tales of the Time Travelers in 2009 in an edition of 26 signed, slipcased copies, with many copies being presented to the contributors. The few remaining copies sold immediately for the list price of $500. (Beware if you see an offer for a free download of the book. Coker says, “There seems to be a bad person online who is doing some type of scam, whereby if one clicks on a link, some type of problem occurs. I do not recommend that you click on any links. I do hope to reprint the book in softcover in the future.”

Recalling the First World Science Fiction Convention

[First Fandom President John L. Coker III filled me in about a surviving member of the 1939 Worldcon I overlooked in a recent post.]

John L. Coker III: I appreciated very much the article (04/20) about Art Widner.  There is one update that I’d like to provide…in addition to Madle, Korshak and Kyle, another member of First Fandom attended the first Worldcon (July 2-4, 1939).  That true fan is none other than Jack Robins, who is alive and well today!  In October 1936, Jack was also part of the New York group of fans that took the train to meet with their counterpart fans in Philadelphia.  Robins, Kyle and Madle are now the only survivors of what Sam Moskowitz has acknowledged as the First Eastern Science Fiction Convention.

I have attached an excerpt of an interview that I recently conducted with Jack Robins, in which he discusses attending the first World Science Fiction Convention —

Jack Robins

Jack Robins

By Jack Robins: A group of us, Wollheim, Michel, Pohl and I headed out to the first World Science Fiction Convention.  When we arrived at Caravan Hall, we approached the admission desk together, ready to pay the entrance fee.  Sam Moskowitz came over and told Wollheim, Michel and Pohl that they couldn’t go in.  Then he looked at me as I stood there dumbfounded, hesitated a moment and then said, “You can go in.”  I paid my admission and went in.  Later on Asimov appeared and was admitted.  He was supposed to say something about the people being barred but Campbell got hold of him and praised him to the audience.  He was so flattered and in awe that he forgot he was supposed to say something about the barred fans.

Across the street from the Convention there was a cafeteria.  Whenever I could I would join them and tell them what went on.  Occasionally other fans would meet with them.  Of course they were deeply angry to have been unfairly barred from the convention.  All they had wanted to do was enjoy the first World Science Fiction Convention but somehow the organizers must have felt that Wollheim, Michel and Pohl would miraculously take over and ruin the meeting.  The funny thing is that months before, Wollheim was broaching the subject of having a Convention at the same time as the World’s Fair because fans from all over the country and from other countries might attend.  So the idea had been bandied about in Fandom but was taken over by Moskowitz, Taurasi and Sykora, with John Campbell’s support.  The organizers made a very successful first convention, doing a superb job of putting it together.

(Excerpted from an interview with John L. Coker III – © 2015)

William C. Martin (1924-2014)

William C. Martin

William C. Martin

By John L. Coker III: First Fandom member William C. Martin passed away on June 22, 2014.

William Culbertson Martin, Ph.D., born 1924, was a World War II veteran, respected sociology professor, book collector, active member of the Democratic Party and a passionate advocate of civil and human rights. He not only led an extraordinary life but also touched and inspired many people across generations. Bill Martin was fondly known as “Atlanta’s own Forry Ackerman” due to his fantastic collection of science fiction, fantasy, and horror books and space toys.

Dr. Martin was a living time capsule of information about the history of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.  He was a member of First Fandom and the Science Fiction Research Association. Bill first became a member of a fan club around 1934. His pulp magazine collection went back to the first issue of Amazing Stories, and his book collection contained most important SF books published 1890-1960, as well as most major books published since.

An original Buck Rogers Solar Scout in the 1930s “Golden Age” of SF, he was excited to be the special guest at the Spook Show’s presentation of the 1939 classic Buck Rogers in the 25th Century serial during the Plaza Theatre’s 70th anniversary celebration and received a standing ovation after sharing his memories.

He taught Honor Seminars in SF at Georgia State University and penned numerous professional papers on the development of science fiction as the Literature of the 20th Century.

[Summarized from the 2007 Dragon*Con Program Book, and the Martin Family.]