Pixel Scroll 12/3/17 There Are Certain Scrolls Of New York, Major, That I Wouldn’t Advise You To Pixel

(1) NEXT SMOFCON. Santa Rosa will host Smofcon 36 in 2018. The con will be held November 30-December 2. Bruce Farr will chair, and Patty Wells will organize programming. Their hotel will be The Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa.

(2) ORIGIN STORY. The International Costumers Guild revisits “The Futuristicostume” worn by Forry Ackerman at the first Worldcon in 1939.

We started our research by going back to the beginning, back to the first convention costumers Forrest J Ackerman and Myrtle Douglas.

Everyone is familiar with their photos. Most know the how and the why of their costumes. But how were they made? What color were they? We now have some answers and some theories along with new, never seen photos.

We now know his “futuristicostume” still partially exists. Most of the cape probably has not survived, but the pants and shirt are in the hands of a private collector. The shirt appears to be pale gold. As you can tell even in the black and white photos on line, the pants are most likely WWI military surplus. The most interesting story is about the cape. We found 2 references describing it as green. New photos from Ackerman’s personal collection recently came to light, so we snapped them up for the Archives. We understand that the cape he is wearing in them is a recreation, but it would appear to verify our references. However, in the book “House of Ackerman: A Photographic Tour of the Legendary Ackermansion”, by Al Astrella, James Greene and John Landis, there’s a color photo of what’s left of the cape, where it appears to be an antique gold. We are 90% certain we know the reason why. The clue was found in analyzing Myrtle’s costume…

(3) DARK. Camestros Felapton is watching: “Review: Dark – Netflix”.

It is no spoiler to say this is a time-travel/time-slip mystery. From the beginning elements such as clocks are underlined, we get repeated quotes from Einstein, snippets of lectures on Black Holes, and an old guy warning that ‘it is happening again’. On top of that, we get an opening title sequence that (very effectively) uses reflections to create a disturbing view of the normal and a teacher lecturing his class on the use of symmetry and foreshadowing in the work of Goethe. I wonder if the producers entirely trusted their audience to follow where the show wanted to go.

The pay off comes at the end of episode three when the connections between 2019 and 1986 characters are made overt. What was an initially a confusing set of characters becomes clearer as the set of families involved and the relationships between them become clearer. Betrayals and loss and teenage romance form a web and events between the two eras become more entwined.

(4) CUBESATS. The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination presents its latest Into the Impossible podcast — Episode 12: Speculative CubeSats.

How can CubeSats—the small, standardized satellites paving the way for the democratization of space—change our sense of the possible? We dive into two projects: the Planetary Society’s Lightsail 2, with Director of Science and Technology Bruce Betts, and with MacArthur Genius grant-awardee Trevor Paglen, we discuss Orbital Reflector, the first satellite to be launched purely as an artistic gesture.

(5) SHUGGOTH. At Doctor Strangemind, Kim Huett added a James Blish cat story — “Tales Too Good To Forget #1”.

…Luckily for us the young James Blish published quite a few fanzines and thus inadvertently provided for anybody fortunate enough to read these evidence that he was far more than a cold and forbidding intellect.

Well okay, to be perfectly honest a lot of his early fanzine writings are indeed as earnest and po-faced as William Atheling, Jr. might lead you believe the real Blish was. But while some of this material might come across as every bit as pompous as the pronunciations of a high art maven (if you don’t believe me then go look for an issue of Renascence, but don’t say I didn’t warn you) in between the bouts of earnestness is another Blish, a wittier, lighter Blish who knew how to not take himself too seriously. The best place to look for this James Blish is in the material which he published for the Vanguard Amateur Press Association. It was here, in Tumbrils #4, that he wrote one of my favourite cat stories. Read this and you will never think of James Blish as po-faced ever again…

(6) DELIVERED IN HALF AN HOUR OR IT’S FREE. The “Astronauts show how to make pizza in space”.

Astronauts at the International Space Station created a video of themselves making pizza in zero gravity.

Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli tweeted that he “casually” told ISS chief Kirk Shireman that he missed pizza and Shireman managed to get pizza ingredients into space.

 

(7) A BOOK YOU CAN’T BUY ON AMAZON. Lurkertype went shopping for a copy of Camestros Felapton’s There Will Be Walrus on Amazon, and found the Big River was able to sell everything but —

I just searched Amazon for TWBW and got no result (since it’s only on Smashwords), but was suggested a plush stuffed walrus, walrus artworks, a tacky walrus shirt, several doodads for “Rock Band: Beatles”, and a Barry White mask.

(8) I FEEL WOOZY. Andrew Porter cautions before clicking this link – “Memories and possibilities are even more hideous than realities”.

Warning: this may cause you to tear out your eyeballs. Extreme psychedelic stuff might cause seizures in people with epilepsy….

(9) JAMES GUNN AUTOBIOGRAPHY. At Locus Online, “Russell Letson reviews Star-Begotten: A Life Lived in Science Fiction by James Gunn”.

I hope I might be excused for injecting personal notes into a review of James Gunn’s autobiography, Star-Begotten: A Life Lived in Science Fiction. As I read it, I couldn’t help noticing how many times and in how many ways my life in SF was affected by Gunn’s work as writer, editor, and academic activist. One of my earliest book purchases, around 1957, was the Ace paperback (Double Size! 35 cents!) of Star Bridge, the space opera he co-wrote with Jack Williamson. (I still have a double-autographed copy of a later Ace printing, the original having long since succumbed to pulp rot.) Before that, I had listened to the 1956 X Minus One radio adaptation of his short story ‘‘The Cave of Night’’. (It’s still available online.) Years later, the third volume of The Road to Science Fiction was one of the reliable anthologies for my SF course, and a few years after that I wrote a dozen entries for The New Encyclopedia of Science Fiction that he edited. By that time, Gunn had been president of both the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Science Fiction Research Association, started the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas, and worked for years as a promoter of the study and practice of science fiction.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • John King Tarpinian sends along today’s horrible pun from Brevity.
  • And an interstellar mission doesn’t quite make it in Herman.

(11) CLARKE CENTENNIAL. Clarke Award Director Tom Hunter reminds all that “Saturday 16th December will mark Arthur C. Clarke’s centenary anniversary, and we’ve been prepping a few special moments to help celebrate the occasion across the month.”

They include:

SILVER SCREEN SCIENCE FICTION AT THE ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH

2010: The Year We Make Contact
Saturday 16th December 2017 (Sir Arthur’s birthday)

The Royal Observatory Greenwich will be hosting a special planetarium screening of 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984) starring Roy Scheider, John Lithgow and Helen Mirren + a cameo from Sir Arthur himself.

Before the film, we’ll hear from Director of the Clarke Awards, Tom Hunter, and ROG Astronomer Brendan Owens about the influence of Arthur C Clarke on both science fiction and science fact. This event includes a free beer per person on arrival courtesy of Meantime Brewing Company.

There will also be a Kickstarter-funded stunt anthology, 2001: An Odyssey in Words, where every story is precisely two thousand and one words long.

On the fiction front, we started by putting out a call to our past winning and shortlisted authors, and have received almost thirty fantastic submissions back from writers including Chris Beckett, Gwyneth Jones, Jeff Noon, Rachel Pollack, Jane Rogers and Adrian Tchaikovsky, picking six names not at all at random because six is the same number as we have on our shortlist every year, and because all of these authors happen to be past winners.

…We’ll also be featuring some choice bits of non-fiction in the collection, including an essay on Clarke’s legacy by our own Chair of Judges, Dr Andrew M. Butler, and a remembrance of the judging experience itself from one of our more well known past judges, Neil Gaiman.

(12) BEAR FACTS. Well, phooey. “DNA Evidence Shows Yeti Was Local Himalayan Bears All Along” says Gizmodo.

The yeti, or abominable snowman, is a sort of wild, ape-like hominid that’s the subject of long-standing Himalayan mythology. Scientists have questioned prior research suggesting that purported yeti hair samples came from a strange polar bear hybrid or a new species, though. The analysis “did not rule out the possibility that the samples belonged to brown bear,” according to the paper published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Lindqvist and her team analyzed DNA from 24 different bear or purported yeti samples from the wild and museums, including feces, hair, skin, and bone. They were definitely all bears—and the yeti samples seemed to match up well with exiting Himalayan brown bears. “

(13) YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF THE GAME. My Pappy always told me, never gamble, stick to thermodynamics: “Unesco adds Sir Isaac Newton’s papers to world register”.

More personal items in the collection include a notebook written during his time as an undergraduate, in which he lists how much he has spent on items such as wine, the shoestrings that cost him one shilling and 10 pence, and his four shillings and sixpence stockings.

He also appears to have lost 15 shillings at a card game, according to his own accounts.

(14) NOWHERE PEOPLE. “Where is the remotest spot in the United States?”. “A pair of scientists from Florida, and their eight-year-old daughter, are visiting the remotest spot in every US state.”

They settled on “the furthest distance from a road or town”. But then, they say, “it got trickier”.

What is a road? Anything paved, unpaved, public, or private, they decided. For example – beaches that allowed cars counted as roads.

They also decided the remote spot must be “high and developable”. It can’t be in the middle of a lake, and it can’t be a flood plain.

(15) JUDGMENT CALL. Bleeding Cool actually did what I decided not to do — made an entire post of Amal El-Mohtar’s tweets about her ordeal getting through TSA airport security the other day: “What Happened to Canadian Sci-Fi Writer Amal El-Mohtar’s Phone at US Customs?”

(16) ARE THEY SURE? The Los Angeles Times recently published this errata —

(17) LIGHTSABER EXERCISES. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Training Featurette” is a look at how hard the cast of The Last Jedi trained for the film.

(18) OUT IN FORCE. Daisy Ridley and the cast of The Last Jedi appeared on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!

That same night there was a “Star Wars’ Chewbacca Christmas Tree Unveiled on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live'”.

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

Own The Zine That Started the Trouble at the First Worldcon

For sale on eBay is Forry Ackerman’s copy of A WARNING, the pamphlet produced and smuggled into the 1939 Worldcon by Dave Kyle, but that was blamed on the Futurians and led to them being barred from the convention in the Great Exclusion Act. Asking price: $1,000.

Six members of the New York Futurian Society were kept out of the con – Donald A. Wollheim, Robert A. W. Lowndes, Cyril Kornbluth, Lois Gillespie, Frederik Pohl and John Michel – most of whom became leading figures in the history of sf.

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

Why didn’t Dave Kyle get into trouble? Simple – he didn’t own up to what he had done. As Kyle explained in a Fancyclopedia reminiscence:

I, for better or for worse, was the trigger for the banning of those six fans. I published the infamous “yellow pamphlet” which provoked the incident. My Futurian friends didn’t know about my handout, but they were blamed, thus “planning to disrupt” the gathering. It reflects the times in so many ways, both fannishly and internationally. The four-page pamphlet, with a cover that read “IMPORTANT! Read This Immediately! A WARNING!”, was dated July 2, 1939. I had printed several hundred of them, a bright yellow sheet folded in quarters, and cached them behind a hot water radiator for distribution at the crucial moment. And the message? It was “Beware of dictatorship — ” I had written that the convention committee might “coerce or bully” con-goers into taking intemperate actions. I said, “Make this a democratic convention! Be careful. Demand discussion! Hear the other side! We believe that free speech, co-operation, and democratic acts and thoughts must be granted to science fiction fandom.”

Sound pretty innocent? Well, that was the way the villain Communists would present things, too, in those days. And that really was the basis for the paranoia exhibited, that the radical elements of fandom would disrupt the convention by politicizing it. Sound crazy? Not to those running the convention. So, the sudden appearance of the first pamphlet on Saturday morning alerted the three leaders. A search discovered the batch of “Warnings” under the radiator. Wollheim, the Futurian spokesman, denied any knowledge, but was disbelieved. I kept my mouth shut. That’s why I was allowed into the meeting. I did try to speak up about the banning, but the agenda was well fixed in place, all of which, perhaps, was due to my yellow pamphlet‘s self-fulfilling prophecy.

John Michel co-authored the pamphlet, according to Andrew Liptak’s “The Futurians and the 1939 World Science Fiction Convention”. For bonus reading, eFanzines has scans of three accounts of the controversy produced soon after it happened.

Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge Editorial

By Mike Resnick: Thanks to all the stink raised by both sides at Worldcon, I have an editorial, “The End of Worldcon as We Know It”, in the just published issue of Galaxy’s Edge. It’s accessable online for free…and if you’d like to run it in File 770, you have my blessing.

The End of Worldcon As We Know It

The recent brouhaha (a much better word than kerfluffle) over the Hugo ballot has caused a number of people, online and elsewhere, to proclaim that this is The End of Worldcon, at least the End of Worldcon As We Know It.

So it’s probably time for a little history lesson, because you know what will actually cause The End of Worldcon As We Know It?

Peace, camaraderie, and tranquility.

You think not?

Do you know what Fredrik Pohl, Donald A. Wollheim, Cyril M. Kornbluth, and Robert A. W. Lowndes have in common? I mean, besides their positions as giants in the annals of science fiction, with Wollheim and Pohl being Worldcon Guests of Honor, Kornbluth being still in print six decades after his premature death, and Lowndes editing for close to half a century?

They were all stopped at the door and not allowed to attend the very first Worldcon back in 1939.

No kidding. It was clearly going to be the End of Worldcon before it was even born.

It’s all written up in The Immortal Storm: A History of Science Fiction Fandom in the 1930s, by Sam Moskowitz, the guy who turned them away. (It seems they wouldn’t sign a pledge to behave and to not distribute Futurian John Michel’s Communist diatribe at the convention. Of course, while these four and Michel were being refused entry, Dave Kyle quietly brought a bundle of copies of Michel’s tract, Mutation or Death, into the con.)

It has become known in the field’s history books as The Exclusion Act. Well, in those histories written before 1956…after which it is known as the First Exclusion Act.

Move the clock ahead and stop it in 1964, the year of the Breendoggle.

You don’t know about the Breendoggle?

It seems that the Pacificon committee decided to bar the spouse of a major writer from attending, and this caused quite an uproar, to the point where literally half of fandom was threatening to boycott the convention if he came, and the other half threatened to boycott it if he was not permitted to attend. It was certainly going to be the End of Worldcon As We Know It.

At the last minute, the spouse elected not to attend, and the Worldcon went off as scheduled. So who was the spouse, I hear you ask? Walter Breen, the husband of Marion Zimmer Bradley. And why didn’t the committee want him to attend? If I tell you that he’d been arrested for pederasty in 1954, and died in jail in 1990 while serving time for child molesting, I think you’ll be able to intuit it.

Clifford D. Simak was not only a fine writer, but probably the most decent and gentle man ever to appear in this field. He was the Guest of Honor at the 1971 Worldcon, during the height of the truly acrimonious Old Wave/New Wave War. He spent most of his Guest of Honor speech talking not about himself, or his writing, or even science fiction, but rather attempting to make peace between the warring sides. Alas, he was too rational and made too much sense; the war continued unabated.

But (I hear you say) this End of Worldcon As We Know It is being caused by Hugo balloting, not all that other stuff that delights fannish historians every few years. Surely there’s never been a problem with voting before!

OK, guys—come back from Barsoom and Mesklin and Hyborea, and spend a little time in the real world again.

Not that long ago, in 1989, the Hugo Committee received a number of ballots for a certain up-and-coming artist. Problem was, most of the voters’ memberships were paid for with consecutively-numbered money orders from the same post office. The committee decided not to allow his name on the ballot, though he had enough paid-for votes. (I am told that some people are publicly buying and giving away a number of memberships to this year’s Worldcon. I have no idea what the Hugo committee plans to do about it.)

Of course, that’s far from the only “irregularity.” Remember a couple of years ago, in 2013, when there were only three short stories on the ballot? The reason for that is embedded in the Hugo rules: to make the ballot, a nominee in any category must receive at least 5% of the ballots cast.

Now remember back to 1994. Not the same situation, you say? You just looked, and there were five short stories nominated.

Well, you’re almost right. Only three short stories received 5% of the nominations. So the Hugo Administrator, in his infinite wisdom, added two novelettes to the ballot to fill it out—and sure enough, a novelette won the 1994 Hugo for Best Short Story.

Ah, but this year will be different, I hear you say. This year we’ll be voting No Award in a bunch of categories, and history will thank us.

Well, it just so happens that No Award has triumphed before. In fact, it has won Best Dramatic Presentation three different times. (Bet you didn’t know that Rod Serling’s classic “Twilight Zone” series lost to No Award, did you?)

But the most interesting and humiliating No Award came in 1959. The category was Best New Writer, and one of the losers was future Worldcon Guest of Honor and Nebula Grand Master Brian Aldiss, who actually won a Hugo in 1962, just three years later. That No Award was so embarrassing that they discontinued the category until they could find a sponsor eight years later, which is how the Campbell Award, sponsored by Analog, came into being.

Please note that I’ve limited myself to Worldcons. I haven’t mentioned the X Document or the Lem Affair or any of the other notable wars you can find in various pro and fannish histories (or probably even by just googling them). This editorial is only concerned with The End of Worldcon As We Know It.

And hopefully by now the answer should be apparent. You want to End Worldcon As We Know It? Don’t feud. Don’t boycott. Don’t be unpleasant. Don’t be unreasonable. Don’t raise your voices in mindless anger.

Do all that and none of us will recognize the Worldcon that emerges.

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)

On This Day In History 7/4

Three AWOL Worldcon members were in Yankee Stadium when this picture was taken.

Three AWOL Worldcon members were in Yankee Stadium when this picture was taken.

July 4, 1939: Julius Schwartz ditched the last day of the first World Science Fiction Convention and went with Mort Weisinger and Otto Binder to see a ballgame at Yankee Stadium.

He still got to see fan history being made. Baseball fan history.

A very special thing happened that afternoon: Lou Gehrig announced his retirement from the game of baseball. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It’s something I will never forget.

Gehrig’s famous lines echoed throughout the park:

For the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

(And if you’re any kind of baseball fan you should not miss the video of all 30 Major League first basemen doing Gehrig’s lines, something Fox Sports produced to mark the 75th anniversary of his speech.)

Makes You Think

The 2014 Worldcon has just issued a two-part press release.

First, Loncon 3, seeking “to represent the diversity of both our host borough and city and the sf genre as a whole,” will work with Con or Bust, a U.S.-based nonprofit that assists people of color to attend conventions such as Worldcons.

Loncon 3 has donated five attending memberships to Con or Bust, and will match up to another 20 donations from Worldcon members.

I expect that after this news is posted it will not be difficult to find comments here and there in the sf blogosphere that this initiative provides an unfair benefit – comments actually motivated by antagonism to diversity – because that’s what typically happens. And although Loncon 3 is bound to be familiar with the trend, I’m sure any connection between that and the second part of the press release exists only in my imagination —

2014 is the 75th anniversary of the first Worldcon, held in New York in 1939. To commemorate the history of the sf genre, Loncon 3 is offering a free Attending membership to anyone who was a member of either Nycon 1 in 1939 or the first British Worldcon, Loncon 1 in 1957.

Obviously most – possibly all — potential beneficiaries of the second policy will be old white men….  

I just had to confess how ironic I find this.

The full press release follows the jump.

Continue reading

Bradbury’s Fannish Collectibles

Among the 15 most expensive Bradbury collectibles ever sold by Abe Books are two items of fanhistorical significance.

The Pacificon Combozine, souvenir book of the 1946 Worldcon, went for $3500.

Inexplicably bringing just half of that, $1750, was a copy of the even rarer first Worldcon souvenir book (1939) autographed by organizers Will Sykora and Mario Racic, and by Ray Bradbury at a later date.

Some other Bradbury collectibles are far more valuable, like the edition of Fahrenheit 451 with the special fireproof asbestos cover which goes for over $10,000.

Also of interest is the complete collection of Bradbury first editions offered by The Fine Books Company, more than 60 different titles published from 1947 until 2009, with an asking price of $37,105.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]