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(1) THAT LITTLE VOICE. Publishers Weekly’s Antonia Saxon does a “Q & A with Diane Dillon” about her new children’s book. Diane and the late Leo Dillon had a long history as sff cover artists.

How hard was it to tackle the project on your own?

That was one of the fears in doing this book. Even if we had done something separately, we always signed everything Leo and Diane. Now Leo is gone and that little voice in my head says, “What if they say this is not up to our standard?” It was hard getting started. I kept thinking, “I’m going to be judged separately now.” It was uncomfortable.

So you have a little voice, too. What does it say?

The voice just says the same things over and over. But you don’t have to listen to it! The story is autobigraphical, that’s for sure.

Having Leo to bounce something off of, an extra pair of eyes to see something, that worked very well. A lot of people asked, “How can you work with someone else? Don’t you think, ‘This is your work, this is his work?’ ” But early on we realized we needed to join forces. We said, “We are one artist. We do something that neither one of us can do individually.”

It sounds as if you took your own doubts and made them into a book.

Yeah! I think it’s important that children know that that little voice can be stilled if you ask it questions. They can have courage to be anything they want to be. When I started this, it was before the Women’s March, and this new awareness of women’s self-image and strength, and the #MeToo movement—it was serendipitous that it’s come out at this time. I hope it has a long life.

(2) “WAITING TO WORSHIP A RAT.” February 2 — “Groundhog Day 2018: Punxsutawney Phil predicts 6 more weeks of winter”.

They reported that Phil communicated in “groundhogese” that he had cast a shadow.  According to legend, that means the weather will be wintry for the next six weeks.

That’s his typical prediction: It has happened more than 100 other times in the 132-year history of the tradition.

Even so, there’s some good news: Phil is usually wrong.

…Since 1887, the groundhog has seen his shadow 103 times, to forecast a longer winter, and not seen it 18 times, to predict an early spring. (There is no record of the prediction for 10 times in the late 19th century.)

(3) BASKERVILLE. Europa SF reports the winner of the 2017 Guillermo de Baskerville Award in the anthology category is Dark Fantasies, edited by Mariano Villarreal.

The award is named for the protagonist in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, and is given for the best indie books of the year that has been reviewed on the Spanish-language Libros Prohibidos (Prohibited Books) website. (The other categories were won by non-genre works.)

A jury composed of the writer, bookseller and blogger, David Pierre, the writers Sonia Rico, Javier Font and Diego Marcapáginas chose Dark Fantasies., from Sportula, a Spanish science-fiction and fantasy publishing house.

(4) IT’LL HOLD YOU TO YOUR DEADLINE. I haven’t seen one of these before! “1938 Underwood 14″ Tentacle Typewriter”:

(5) CASE IN POINT. The Traveler from Galactic Journey tells us what he thinks about the opening episodes of The Twilight Zone’s fourth season: “[February 2, 1963] Whither the Prodigal Son?  (Twilight Zone, Season 4, Episodes 1-4)”.

In His Image, by Charles Beaumont

A young man is plagued by blackouts and half-memories of murder.  When he takes his fiancee (who has known for all of four days) back to his home town that he left just a week before, he finds twenty years appear to have elapsed — and his family has no trace of existence at all.  Who is this man?  Where did he come from?  And what is the cause of his manic episodes?

George Grizzard gives a fine turn as the afflicted protagonist in a story that has more than one reveal.  While the pacing is a little slow, the course of the characters and the nuanced storytelling keeps it going for the expanded length of the show.  Four stars.

(6) YOU, TOO, CAN VISIT 1963. Some sort of time dialation will allow San Diego’s Mysterious Galaxy bookstore to host “Galactic Journey: Interview with a Time Traveler (1963 edition)” on February 17 at 2 p.m. (Full details at the link.)

Blast back to February 1963, three years before the Five Year Mission, nine months before the blue Police Box, when the Fantastic Four were on issue eleven — that “Mad Men” time that set the stage for everything that came after.

Hugo Nominee-Runner up and Serling Award-winning Galactic Journey, portal to 55 years ago, presents a window on sci-fi and the Space Race, comics and pop culture, in that fascinating, tumultuous era of change. Visit galacticjourney.org to see what we’re all about — we are a time-shifted blog living the fan’s life, 55 years in the past, day-by-day. This panel is the blog’s road show: always new, always different. Completely free of charge.

…Come to Mysterious Galaxy for a most unique engagement: a question-driven panel presented by a host of entertaining time travelers. YOU, the audience, determine the course of the event as they take you on a literary tour of the early 60s. Prizes will be given out for the best questions: See if YOU can stump the Traveler team!

…So don your skinny tie and/or cocktail dress, strap your slide-rule to your belt, and come see the event that has electrified congoers across the Western United States!

(7) STAN LEE IN, OUT OF HOSPITAL. The comics icon intends to be at a con in St. Louis this weekend: “STAN LEE Released From Hospital Early, Plans To Keep Weekend Convention Plans”.

Stan Lee has been released from the hospital following an overnight stay, and the 95-year-old writer plans on making his weekend convention plans. In an interview with Los Angeles’ KABC, Lee said was “feeling good” and appreciated the public outpouring of concern.

“All I really want to do is tell you that I’m feeling great,” Lee said. “I figured a little check-up wouldn’t be bad for me. And in fact it turned out to be pretty good, it got me a lot of publicity. I’m feeling good now and I can’t wait to get in there and tangle with all the competition.”

Lee was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening after experiencing shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat. At that time, a spokesperson for Lee said the writer would remain hospitalized “for a few days for some check-ups as a safety precaution.”

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian finds puberty hit this monster hard, in Bliss.
  • John also passed on a horrible horror pun in Brevity.

(9) NOW IT CAN BE DONE. BYU only just announced this–the Princess Leia Projector. Ultra-kewl!

(10) SO LET’S CELEBRATE. New from Palette-Swap Ninja: “Leia Organa,” their latest Star Wars/Beatles parody.

(11) PURE TOMATOES. The Hollywood Reporter’s Pamela McClintock in “Rotten Tomatoes Denounces Group Taking Aim at Black Panther Audience Score”, says that Rotten Tomatoes has denounced a Facebook group called “Down With Disney’s Treatment of Franchises And Their Fanboys,” which says that it is going to flood Rotten Tomatoes with bad reviews of Black Panther as retaliation for what it claims is a Disney attempt to push bad reviews of DC franchises.

Not long after Rotten Tomatoes issued its statement, the group’s Facebook page was no longer available and appeared to have been deactivated. Facebook could not immediately be reached for comment. After the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in summer 2017, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to curb hate speech on his social media platform.

(12) LIDAR DISCOVERIES. A new application of technology is revolutionizing Mayan archeology: “Sprawling Maya network discovered under Guatemala jungle”.

Researchers have found more than 60,000 hidden Maya ruins in Guatemala in a major archaeological breakthrough.

Laser technology was used to survey digitally beneath the forest canopy, revealing houses, palaces, elevated highways, and defensive fortifications.

The landscape, near already-known Maya cities, is thought to have been home to millions more people than other research had previously suggested.

The researchers mapped over 810 square miles (2,100 sq km) in northern Peten.

Archaeologists believe the cutting-edge technology will change the way the world will see the Maya civilisation.

(13) ARCHEOLOGICAL FINDS TAKEN. The Guardian reports: “Thieves steal hundreds of priceless artefacts from Canterbury charity”.

Priceless artefacts including 850 Anglo-Saxon beads have been stolen from an archaeological charity in Canterbury during a series of break-ins.

Thieves broke into the store of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, which undertakes excavations and research and educates the public about archaeology, twice last week and once over the weekend.

As well as the beads, large quantities of coins and metal artefacts, and an assortment of bone objects have been stolen.

The charity has put on an appeal asking the public to look out for the historical items being offered for sale.

A very large photo gallery of missing items has been posted by the group on Facebook.

(14) HONOR TO THOMAS. SF Site News reports Lynne M. Thomas will be named to a University of Illinois endowed professorship.

Hugo Award winner Lynne M. Thomas will be named Juanita J. and Robert E. Simpson Rare Book & Manuscript Professor on April 6 at the University of Illinois…. Thomas is also one of the co-editors and publishers of Uncanny.

(15) REWRITING HISTORY. Another thing everybody knows that’s wrong — ” What’s The Real Story About The Milkmaid And The Smallpox Vaccine?”

The Trend: Inoculate Yourself

To understand what really happened, Boylston, whose research interest is the history of smallpox inoculation, explored letters, medical notes and research papers, going back to about 1720. He has self-published a book about it, Defying Providence: Smallpox and the Forgotten 18th Century Medical Revolution. At that time, he says, doctors were attempting to prevent smallpox through a process called variolation, in which oozing matter was taken directly from the smallpox sores of sick people and scratched onto the skin of healthy people “There are records of women inoculating their own children with smallpox,” says Boylston. “People got a mild case of smallpox, but then they were immune.”

They were immune, that is, if they survived. Using actual smallpox virus to induce the disease in healthy people was risky. If people naturally caught smallpox during an epidemic, the chance of dying from the disease was 1 in 5 or 6. When they got smallpox after being inoculated, they generally developed a mild form of the disease, and the risk of dying dropped to about 1 in 50, Boylston says. Whether they got the disease naturally or from deliberate inoculation with the smallpox virus, survivors were immune for the rest of their lives. Historical records show that many people were willing to take the risk by exposing themselves — even their children — to smallpox.

But then Jenner showed that people could become immune to smallpox by being vaccinated with cowpox. It was safer because cowpox rarely kills.

But was the milkmaid really Jenner’s muse? Boylston thinks not.

(16) LOVE IT TO DEATH. NPR’s Mark Jenkins has mixed feelings about Before We Vanish: “Before The Invasion, A Crash Course In Sensitivity Training: ‘Before We Vanish'”.

What is love?

That query proves even more complicated than usual in Before We Vanish, Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s engaging if messy, and overstuffed, 20th feature. It’s a riff on Invasion of the Body Snatchers that meanders from action to satire to romantic affirmation.

The man who poses the question is Shinji (Ryuhei Matsuda) — or, rather, the alien who just seized control of Shinji’s form. This new but physically unchanged man is suddenly clinical, inquisitive, and physically wobbly, so his bewildered wife takes him to a doctor. Narumi (Masami Nagasawa) doesn’t especially want her old husband back. Their marriage has rotted, and as Shinji learns more about being human, Narumi begins to like the new model more than the previous one.

Shinji is one of three advance scouts for the extraterrestrials’ conquest of mankind, a “run-of-the-mill species.” Introduced first is Akira (Yuri Tsunematsu), the most violent of the contingent. After an initial miscalculation, Akira grabs the body of schoolgirl and commits a brutal crime. This opening sequence, which invokes Kurosawa’s past as a horror-flick director, is a gory bit of misdirection.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Dave Doering, JJ, Robin Reid, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, Will R., ULTRAGOTHA, Francis Hamit, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, and Carl Slaughter. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]

Hertz: Two Chicon Exhibits

Leo & Diane Dillon Exhibit

Chicon 7 exhibit about Leo and Diane Dillon. Photos by Richard Lynch.

By John Hertz: In May when Leo Dillon died I felt that Chicon VII (officially “Chicon 7” for the Mercury 7 astronauts) really ought to have an exhibit honoring the Dillons’ work, two of our finest illustrators over fifty years.  I found nobody else was yet planning one.  I got valuable advice from Vincent Di Fate and Jane Frank.

Mark Olson had the swell idea of displaying books the Dillons had done.  Alice Massoglia rounded up two dozen decent-quality reading copies – not collectors’ copies, I wanted to let people pick them up and look through them.  A good handful of Harlan Ellison books, issues of Fantasy & Science Fiction with Dillon covers, the Byron Preiss collection, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with their cover and interiors, Ashanti to Zulu which won one of their Caldecotts (and reminded me of my Nigerian drum teacher), Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymous Bosch which they did with their son Lee, the hundredth-anniversary Wizard of Oz, some Lafferty, The Snow Queen, and a host of others reached me in Los Angeles, were sent on to Chicago, and arrived safely.

Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink resplendently with her electronic powers made three banners, one for the top with “Art of Leo and Diane Dillon” and a color photo, one mounted under that and one mounted on the front of the display table with images of every shape and size, some we had physical examples of and James Baldwin, Martin Luther King, Shakespeare, Mark Twain.

Richard Lynch took photos so you can see how it looked.  This involved his climbing onto a chair on top of a table muttering “This is stupid, this is stupid” while Nicki across the Exhibit Hall wondered.

Richard also helped me put up the Rotsler Award exhibit and photographed that for you.  My guide through various spacetime problems with it was Randy Smith, as ever a big help.  All three judges, Claire Brialey, Mike Glyer, and I, were at the con, but no more than two of us ever managed to be in the same place.  If we all had, that might have popped Dave McCarty into the 14th Chorp Dimension.

Which reminds me, Dave, what happened to the Jay’s potato chips?

Dillon exhibit.

Dillon exhibit table display.

Rotsler Award exhibit at Chicon 7.

John Hertz.

Signature Art

Marilyn Dahl at Shelf Awareness reminisces about Leo and Diane Dillon’s Ace Specials book covers:

I began with Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness–I was not a science fiction fan, but I couldn’t resist the cover. And then Keith Roberts’s masterwork Pavane (just reissued by Old Earth Books with the same cover), Harlan Ellison, Joan Vinge, Roger Zelazny–drawn in by the Dillons’ art, I explored science fiction. I also embarked on collecting picture books, with the Dillons making up a major percentage or my purchases.

Dahl’s passing reference to Old Earth Books is quite enough reason to mention this post, don’t you agree, Michael Walsh?

The Dillons in 1977

The Dillons created a round-robin family biography for the August 1977 issue of The Horn Book, with Leo and Diane Dillon writing about each other and Lee Dillon, then 12 years old, writing about his parents.

From Diane Dillion by Leo Dillon:

Once, after we were married, we were working on a piece and she mentioned very casually that we should do the color in pink and orange. “If we do it in pink and orange,” I said, “that will be the end! I can’t live with someone who’d do anything in pink and orange. We’ll have to get a divorce!” We did it in pink and orange, of course, and a couple of years later everywhere I turned I was seeing things in pink and orange. It’s a common combination now.

From Leo Dillon by Diane Dillon:

I do know, though, that our real feeling about aiming for perfection began with Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. Suddenly it seemed that neither of us could tolerate even a tiny flaw, a minute speck on the black night sky, and we strove for artistic perfection on that book more than on any other except Ashanti to Zulu (both Dial). In a way, when Mosquitoes won the Caldecott Medal, it was as much a reward for us as an award. We had worked harder to achieve perfection—although, of course, we didn’t achieve it—than we ever had before, and people somehow knew it.

From Leo and Diane Dillon by Lee Dillon:

What I don’t like is that they’re always working. Since they won the Caldecott Medal the first time, things have been lots happier around here, but there’s been a lot more work too, and I don’t like that so much. They’re really nice people, my parents, and I’d like to have more time with them when they’re not working.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Keller: Leo Dillon, Dead at 79

Leo Dillon

By Ken Keller: As Steven H Silver reported:

 Born in 1933, he died on May 26, 2012. Dillon was an artist who collaborated throughout his career with his wife, Diane Dillon, and they shared a Hugo Award for Best Professional Artist in 1970, among many others.

I had the privilege of working with the artist team of Leo Dillon and his wife Diane back in the mid-’80s. This was in producing a pair of fine limited edition art prints of their beautiful hardcover dust jacket paintings for Joan Vinge’s Hugo-winning novel The Snow Queen and Harlan Ellison’s short fiction collection Deathbird Stories. These prints were signed and limited to just 300 for each painting; they were published by my company Ground Zero Graphics, so named after the Dillon’s fine establishment, Ground Zero, their one-time Brooklyn coffee house.

In fact Leo and Diane were, for a period in the ’60s and ’70s, strongly associated with Harlan by their cover art on most of his books; they produced many beautiful, distinctive covers for his and other writer’s books in this same period.

In addition to their Hugo Award and World Fantasy Award (for Life Achievement), the Dillon’s were multiple winners of the prestigious Caldecott Award and a huge number of other important awards for their original, unique art. They worked in every medium and style you can imagine, always as an artist team, their finished artwork a perfect, seamless blend of their different styles and singular talents.

My own association with them in the mid-’80s was friendly and very cordial; we enjoyed swapping fond tales about our mutual friend Harlan Ellison and discussing the details of their lives in and out of the fantasy and science fiction genre.

I’m so sorry Leo has been forced by lung cancer to break his long marriage and artistic partnership of more than a half-century to Diane. What a loss for her, for their family, and to the world of art.

The beautiful work they created together, as a distinctive artistic team, continues to live on in hundreds of fine books and art prints published, fondly held and remembered by many thousands of their admirers.

Myself included.

Cover, "The Snow Queen"

Cover, "Deathbird Stories"

Leo Dillon Passes Away

Leo and Diane Dillon. Photo by Andrew Porter.

Renowned artist Leo Dillon died May 26, reportedly suffering from a tumor on a collapsed lung. Dillon was 79. He is survived by his wife and collaborator, Diane.

Leo and Diane Dillon painted innumerable covers for sf and fantasy books, drew and even occasionally wrote children’s books.

They won the Best Professional Artist Hugo in 1971 and their work was celebrated in a memorable exhibit at L.A.Con I (1972). 

Among many tributes paid to them during their careers, the Dillons received two Caldecott Medals (1976, 1977), were named to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame (1997) and were recognized with a World Fantasy life achievement award (2008).

The Dillons proudly identified themselves as illustrators, and Leo told a Scholastic interviewer, “We love illustrating and I suppose we can say we love everything about it. It’s very difficult; it causes us immense pain (sometimes), but like all things that cause pain if it’s worth doing, the outcome will be very pleasurable.”

Within the science fiction field the Dillons were made famous by their Ace Book covers and their work with Harlan Ellison.

They first met Ellison in 1959 while he was editing Rogue. Their illustrations for Ellison’s Dangerous Visions (1967) led to a meeting with Terry Carr, editor of the Ace Specials, who recruited them as cover artists.

Leo revealed in an interview for Locus how the two artists’ relationship with Ellison was as much adventure as creative collaboration:

Leo: …Harlan Ellison edited Dangerous Visions – and I don’t know if too many people know about this, but there were not supposed to be illustrations in that book. Harlan, with the power of only Harlan, said ‘I want illustrations.’ And the publisher said, ‘Okay, if you can do it over the weekend, you can have it. We’re going to press on Monday, and if you don’t have any drawings, that’s it.’ They thought they had him. [laughs]. So Harlan called us and said, ‘There’s this impossible task. I want each story illustrated. We’ve only got two days to do it.’ That’s Harlan. We had gone down some very odd roads with him already. [laughs] So we said, ‘Well, yeah, we can try. Come on over.”’

So Ellison came over — bringing Terry and Carol Carr with him, and that introduction led to their work with Ace Books.

The Dillons’ association with Ellison continued for over 50 years. Their latest creations included the artwork for his Nebula-winning short story “How Interesting: A Tiny Man” (Realms of Fantasy, February 2010).

Leo and Diane Dillon's art for Ellison's "How Interesting, A Tiny Man."

New Dillon Exhibit

Dillon Exhibit 

The exhibit of Visions and Dimensions Selected works of Fantasy & Science Fiction by Leo and Diane Dillon will open with a cocktail reception on May 28 from 6 – 8 P.M at Fusion Designs Gallery. Visitors will have a chance to meet the artists and view their work.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]