Oscar Gaffe Brings Back Memories of SF Award Blunders

Bonnie & Clyde’s 50th anniversary moment at the Oscars was overshadowed when Best Picture presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced La La Land instead of Moonlight, the correct winner.

Beatty told the audience that they had read the wrong envelope, saying that he saw that Emma Stone won for La La Land, who was actually the winner for best actress. Dunaway had read the winner before Beatty could stop her.

“I opened the envelope and it said ‘Emma Stone, La La Land.’ That’s why I took such a long look at Faye, and at you. I wasn’t trying to be funny,” Beatty assured everyone, after admitting to the mistake and explaining that they had the wrong envelope

Fans immediately took to Facebook telling their friends it reminded them of the big mistake made during the Hugo ceremonies at Magicon in 1992.

As I wrote in my Worldcon report:

…The committee showed slides of the nominees’ names on the auditorium screen intended to be synchronized with Spider Robinson’s reading. But Spider appeared completely unrehearsed in this. After cycling through the Best Fanartist images twice while Robinson stood by obviously confused, Marty Gear as the “voice from above” had to explain the concept. It was an omen….

The ceremonies derailed when Spider ripped open an envelope and read that Lan’s Lantern won the Best Fanzine Hugo. While Robinson was placing the trophy in George Laskowski’s hands, on the screen behind him flashed a slide that the winner was Mimosa, edited by Dick and Nicki Lynch. Beside me, Janice Gelb cringed just like at Raiders of the Lost Ark when I warned her the face-melting scene was coming. Laskowski briefly said, “Thank you,” and got offstage because he’d seen Mimosa on the award plaque, too.

As [convention chair] Joe Siclari and others excused themselves from the audience and headed backstage to investigate, several more Hugos were given. Locus won Best Semiprozine. Michael Whelan accepted the Best Professional Artist Hugo, confessing “With so many artists in the field doing so much excellent work I feel like a thief taking this award. Nevertheless I accept it.” Gardner Dozois received another Best Professional Editor Hugo.

Now, a shaken Spider Robinson revealed that Mimosa was the correct Hugo-winning fanzine and was joined by Laskowski to turn over the trophy to Dick and Nicki Lynch. The mistake was reminiscent of the year Asimov accidentally announced Gene Wolfe’s “Island of Dr. Death” had won the Nebula, disbelieving that No Award (the correct result) had finished first and naming instead the second item listed. The only remotely comparable mistake at any other Hugo ceremonies happened in 1985 when the slide operator (of course) flashed that John Varley’s short story won before the emcee even announced the nominees. Laskowski has won two Hugos in the past — and showed extreme grace in surrendering Magicon’s Hugo to the Lynches.

Not that the comedy of errors was over. Completely in shock, Dick Lynch reached the stage alone and gazed at the shadowy auditorium doors hoping to see his wife, Nicki, who had made a quick trip out of the room after the fanzine Hugo had been given. “I wish my wife could be here. What do I do?” Dick seemed even more lost without his spouse than did Samantha Jeude [when she received the Big Heart Award], which permanently endeared him to women who commented about it later.

Another couple of Hugos were given. A representative of James Cameron’s company accepted the Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo on behalf of Terminator 2. Michael Whelan claimed another Hugo in the Best Original Artwork category for the cover of Joan Vinge’s The Summer Queen.

When Spider Robinson paused to find his place our claque of fanzine fans sitting in the VIP seats noticed Nicki Lynch was back. “Bring back Nicki Lynch!” shouted Moshe Feder, and Janice Gelb. Some stood up to yell. My God, even Andy Porter stood up and shouted through cupped hands, “Bring up Nicki Lynch!” It was like a Bud Greenspan documentary, like the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. Spider agreed, “That’s an excellent idea,” and both editors of Mimosa finally had their proper moment together at the Hugo Awards.

When the Best Nonfiction Book Hugo went to The World of Charles Addams Spider tried to recover his humorous stride. “The award will be accepted by ‘Hand’….”  Yelled the audience, “That’s ‘Thing’!”

…People surged out of the awards looking for Laskowski, the Lynches and Spider, to console, congratulate or cross-examine. Robinson spent the evening wearing the erroneous card, listing Lan’s Lantern, around his neck on a string to prove it wasn’t his fault. Reportedly, calligraphers had specially prepared cards with every nominee’s name and title. They were told to do all of them, since the actual winners were a secret — and somehow the wrong card got included in the award-winner envelopes delivered to Spider.

The 1992 drama reminded everyone of what happened to Gene Wolfe at the 1971 Nebulas because it was a well-known story, having been retold by Harlan Ellison in Again, Dangerous Visions. A few years ago I pulled together people’s accounts of that night

However, nothing can rival Isaac Asimov’s ghastly mistake at the 1971 Nebula Awards ceremony. Nor has any other gaffe worked out better for the injured party in the long run.

On Saturday, April 3, 1971 the leading science fiction professionals were seated around banquet tables in New York’s Les Champs Restaurant watching Asimov hand out the Nebulas.

Asimov had been pressed into service at the last minute. While that was not a problem for anyone who loved an audience as much as the Good Doctor, it meant that he had little time to study the handwritten list of results. In those days the emcee was not only given the names of the winners, but the names of the runners-up, which he also announced.

When Asimov came to the Short Story category his eyes slipped over “No Award” and he read the first real name on the list — which was Gene Wolfe, author of “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories.”

As Wolfe stood up a SFWA officer promptly whispered a correction to Asimov. Asimov went pale and announced he’d made an error. There was “No Award” in the Short Story category. Wolfe sat back down.

Eyewitness Harlan Ellison (writing in Again Dangerous Visions) says everyone felt awful –

Around him everyone felt the rollercoaster nausea of stomachs dropping out of backsides. Had it been me, I would have fainted or screamed or punched Norbert Slepyan of Scribner’s, who was sitting next to me. Gene Wolfe just smiled faintly and tried to make us all feel at ease by a shrug and a gentle nod of his head.

Fortunately, the mistake was eventually redeemed. As the author explained:

A month or so after the banquet I was talking to Joe Hensley, and he joked that I should write “The Death of Doctor Island,” saying that everyone felt so sorry for me that it was sure to win. I thought about that when I got home and decided to try, turning things inside out to achieve a different story.

He did, and his novella “The Death of Doctor Island” won a Nebula in 1974.

While, while we now know how Asimov made his mistake, we probably don’t have the full and complete explanation for the Oscar mixup because Beatty’s on-camera explanation is being disputed.

Backstage, Stone claimed she had the card that announced her as best actress win “the entire time.”

“I don’t mean to start stuff,” she said. “But whatever story that was … I had that card. I’m not sure what happened.”

Some Thoughts on Who Was Really #1

By Rich Lynch: It was 80 years ago that an extraordinary event took place.

It happened on January 3, 1937, in the English city of Leeds.  It was there that a group of science fiction fans gathered for what has been described as the first-ever science fiction convention.

Walter Gillings, Arthur Clarke, and Ted Carnell
at the 1937 Leeds convention.

What records remain of the event indicate there were fourteen people in attendance, several of whom would go on to become luminaries of the science fiction literary genre: Ted Carnell, Walter Gillings, Eric Frank Russell, and Arthur C. Clarke.  It was a single-day conference, hosted by the Leeds branch of the newly-formed world-wide Science Fiction League of fan organizations.  The day featured speeches and testimonials on various topics related to science fiction and after that, group discussions on “ways and means of improving British science fiction” according to a one-off fanzine published soon afterwards which reported on the proceedings.  What resulted was the formation of the Science Fiction Association, a proto-British fan organization centered around the “four Hells” fan clubs in Leeds, Liverpool, London, and Leicester.  It only lasted about two years, due to the onset of the Second World War, but it did set the stage for a permanent organization, the British Science Fiction Association, which eventually came into existence in the 1950s.

That 1937 convention was truly a seminal event, and it helped pave the way toward the promulgation of science fiction fandom throughout the United Kingdom.  But was it really the first science fiction convention?

Maybe not.

Donald Wollheim, Milton Rothman, Fred Pohl, John Michel, and Will Sykora at the
1936 Philadelphia convention.

On October, 22, 1936, about half a dozen fans from New York City traveled by train to Philadelphia, where they convened for several hours at the home of one of the fans there.  In all, there were a similar number of fans brought together as for the Leeds convention.  What made it a convention, in the minds of its attendees, was that a business meeting was held with the host, Milton Rothman, being elected Chairman.  Fred Pohl, who had been designated the Secretary, took the minutes and then subsequently lost them.  But Pohl later stated that no recordable business had been brought up because the event had only been informal in nature, with fans talking to fans about things like which books they had recently read, which authors they liked, and what they hoped these authors would write next.  The most significant outcome was that everyone had such a good time that a follow-up event was held in New York in February 1937 with about 40 fans attending.  This created the momentum for an even bigger event, a bit more than two years later which was held in New York on July 4, 1939 – the first World Science Fiction Convention.

Those first two fan gatherings have been a source of continuing controversy ever since then.  Which one was really #1?  The Leeds convention was the better planned of the two, with groundwork laid for the event several months earlier – the Philadelphia convention was, according to accounts from several fans attended it, mostly spur-of-the-moment with little advance preparation.  There has been speculation that the only reason that the Philadelphia event occurred at all was because of one-upsmanship.  The idea for that gathering was originally put forth by New York fan Don Wollheim, who back then had gained the reputation for being quarrelsome, antagonistic, and more than a bit provocative.  It’s very possible, even likely, that he knew of the upcoming Leeds event, which had been talked up not only throughout Britain but also in some U.S. prozines.  So, supposing the underlying reason for the Philadelphia meet-up was really only to sabotage any Leeds stake to being the first science fiction convention, should that disqualify Philadelphia’s claim for that distinction?

No, that’s insufficient.  There have been other conventions that have been organized on little more than a moment’s notice and in any event, overall intent is irrelevant – you can hold a convention for any purpose you want.  A much better reason for possibly honoring Leeds as #1 is that the Philadelphia event was an invitational gathering not open to the general public, with only the New York and Philadelphia fan clubs involved.  But this, too, does not hold very much water as there have subsequently been other, in effect, invitation-only conventions, including the very first DeepSouthCon.  And one other criticism of the Philadelphia event’s claim for being #1 is that there was “no recordable business”, very little reportage after the fact, and indeed, not even a program.  But this is the weakest argument of all, and one only has to point toward the annual Midwestcon conventions, which also have none of these, as a refutation.

And so the controversy has lingered for all this time.  The 1936 Philadelphia event was first chronologically, but was it a convention or just a meeting?  In the end there probably will never be a consensus – after eight decades this is still perhaps the most polarizing topic in all of science fiction fandom, at least from a historical perspective, and people will believe what they want to believe.  But there have at least been attempts at finding some middle ground.  Noted fan historian Mark Olson, in Fancyclopedia 3, has suggested that: “Perhaps it would be fairest to say that the first thing that could be called a convention was held in Philadelphia in 1936, while the first thing that must be called a convention was held in Leeds in 1937.”  And he’s right.

But as for me, I think we are asking the wrong question.  What we instead should be inquiring is: “Who first came up with the idea for staging a science fiction convention?”  That’s really the more important aspect, and the Leeds group was first.  There’s serendipity that they held their event at the Leeds Theosophical Society – the word ‘theosophy’ parses to ‘divine wisdom’, which is an apt description of the concept for the science fiction convention.  And of that, at least, we can be absolutely certain!

Pixel Scroll 12/31/16 We All Know That The Pixel Never Scrolls Twice

(1) ON ITS WAY TO BEING DEADJOURNAL? LiveJournal was purchased by a Russian company in 2007 but continued to operate on U.S.-based servers until this month. According to Metafilter

As of a few days ago, the IP addresses for blogging service LiveJournal have moved to 81.19.74.*, a block that lookup services locate in Moscow, Russia. Now users — especially those who do not trust the Russian government — are leaving the platform and advising others to leave.

For years, the online blogging community LiveJournal — popular in Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine — has served as a key communications platform for Russian dissidents (the Committee to Protect Journalists earlier this month called on Russian authorities to release a LiveJournal user who has been sentenced to 2 years in prison for a critical blog post). Even after Russian company SUP bought it from California-based Six Apart in 2007 (previously), the fact that SUP continued to run the servers in the US meant that users felt relatively safe; a 2009 press release specifically said that LiveJournal, Inc.* would continue to run technical operations and servers in the United States (and claimed that 5.7 million LiveJournal users were Russia-based).

(2) REANIMATION NOW A HOLLYWOOD ISSUE. “Actors seek posthumous protections after big-screen resurrections” – Reuters has the story.

California law already gives heirs control over actors’ posthumous profits by requiring their permission for any of use of their likeness. As technology has improved, many living actors there are more focused on steering their legacy with stipulations on how their images are used – or by forbidding their use.

Robin Williams, who committed suicide in 2014, banned any use of his image for commercial means until 2039, according to court documents. He also blocked anyone from digitally inserting him into a movie or TV scene or using a hologram, as was done with rapper Tupac Shakur at Southern California’s Coachella music festival in 2012 – 16 years after his murder.

Virtual characters have been used when an actor dies in the middle of a film production, as when Universal Pictures combined CGI and previous footage for Paul Walker’s role in 2015’s “Furious 7” after Walker’s 2013 death in a car crash.

But “Rogue One” broke new ground by giving a significant supporting role to a dead star. A digital embodiment of British actor Peter Cushing, who died in 1994, reprised his role from the original 1997 “Star Wars” film as Tarkin.

Walt Disney Co recreated Tarkin with a mix of visual effects and a different actor.

A Disney spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Princess Leia would appear in films beyond “Episode VIII,” set for release in 2017. Fisher had wrapped filming for the next “Star Wars” episode before she died. She suffered a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles.

(3) ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS CLOSES. Quoting from JJ in a comment on yesterday’s Scroll:

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has made a public posting on Patreon: “All Romance Ebooks and its sister website Omnilit did something incredibly awful on December 28, 2016. It sent out a handful of emails, letting writers, publishers, readers, and others know that it was shutting its doors four days later.”

This is a really well-thought-out and helpful piece. The TL;DR is: 1) if you’re an author who was using them as a distributor, get your rights reverted immediately; 2) if you’re a reader who bought books through them, get them copied to your computer immediately.

There’s a lot more helpful advice for affected authors in there. I really hope that no Filers are affected by this, and I feel bad for all authors who were involved with that business; they are almost certainly not going to get any money they are owed.

Part of what Rusch explained:

ARe is a distributor, mostly, and so it is dealing with its writers as suppliers and unsecured creditors. I’ve been through a bunch of distributor closings, many in the late 1990s, with paper books, and they all happen like this.

One day, everything works, and the next, the distributor is closed for good. In some ways, ARe is unusual in that it gave its suppliers and creditors four days notice. Most places just close their doors, period.

I’m not defending ARe. I’m saying they’re no different than any other company that has gone out of business like this. Traditional publishers have had to deal with this kind of crap for decades. Some comic book companies went out of business as comic book distributors collapsed over the past 25 years. Such closures have incredible (bad) ripple effects. In the past, writers have lost entire careers because of these closures, but haven’t known why, because the publishing house had to cope with the direct losses when the distributor went down.

The difference here is that ARe wasn’t dealing with a dozen other companies. It was dealing with hundreds, maybe thousands, of writers individually, as well as publishers. So, writers are seeing this distribution collapse firsthand instead of secondhand.

To further complicate matters, ARe acted as a publisher for some authors, and is offering them no compensation whatsoever, not even that horrid 10 cents on the dollar (which, I have to say, I’ll be surprised if they pay even that).

(4) NZ ORDER OF MERIT. Professor Anthony Phillip Mann,  a Sir Julius Vogel winner whose novel The Disestablishment of Paradise was a finalist for the Clarke and Campbell Awards, has been named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to literature and drama.

(5) NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR SIR JULIUS VOGEL. Nominations for the 2017 Sir Julius Vogel awards are being accepted until 8.00 p.m. on March 31, 2017.

The awards recognise excellence and achhievement in science fiction, fantasy, or horror works created by New Zealanders and New Zealand residents, and first published or released in the 2016 calendar year.

We are using a web-based system for nominations this year to aid our administrative processes. Full information about the awards, including the rules and criteria for the Sir Julius Vogel Award, can be found here.

Anyone can make a nomination and it is free! To make a nomination, go to http://www.sffanz.org.nz/sjv/sjvAwards.shtml  and fill out the web-based nomination form.

Get busy reading NZ authors and watching NZ movies to find work to nominate. We have a list of New Zealand works that may be eligible for nomination here.

(6) CAMPBELL AWARD. Mark-kitteh reports, “Writertopia have set their Campbell Award eligibility page to 2017 mode. It’s obviously very sparse on 1st year eligibility at the moment, but there are a few new entries already.”

The John W. Campbell Award uses the same nomination and voting mechanism as the Hugo, even though the Campbell Award is not a Hugo.

Like the Hugo Awards, the Campbell Award voting takes place in two stages. The first stage, nomination, is open to anyone who had a Supporting or Attending membership in the previous, current, or following year’s Worldcon as of January 31. For Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, this means members of MidAmeriCon II, Worldcon 75 itself, and Worldcon 76 can nominate any eligible author. This web page helps identify eligible authors for the Campbell Award.

The official nomination page will be posted when it is available on the Worldcon 75 website. Nominations will likely close on March 31, 2017.

To be able to vote for the award, you must be a member of Worldcon 75 in Helsinki. If you are not a member of Worldcon 75 and wish to vote, you must purchase a supporting membership or an attending membership before January 31.

(7) COVERS REVEALED. Greg Ruth’s cover art for Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch  and Akata Warrior has debuted online. Ruth wrote —

We often in art mistake race for color, and what this taught me was a way to skip past those initial assumptions and get right to the heart of her structure rather than her tone. This meant a lot of research into what physical features are distinctively Nigerian, and bringing those to bear on this young woman. She had to, without leaning on skin color, be authentically Nigerian and herself as a true native of her culture in every bit as much the same way in which I might need to address and accomplish the same for a Cambodian scientist, or an Icelandic luthier. We all within our tribes carry specific physical marks that stem from our localized familial genetics. Folks of a Rwandan Tutsi heritage have different physical features even from Rwandan Hutu people due to the way we as people form our tribes via family and region. Whether or not my own self-aware whiteness drove me to paying especial attention to these subtle but significant differences, or whether it was just about cleaving close to that aforementioned ethic of art making to be its best and truly objective self, I can’t say. But I do confess to feeling as someone coming from a  different cultural experience, I owe a lot to research as a means to be the best scribe for the cultural truths and realities of one that is not mine. That means, int he case of INDEH, years of research, tracking tribal origins, genetic traits and societal issues so that the Apaches look like Apaches, especially to actual real Apaches. If I had done this first as part of this ongoing series, I am not sure I would have been able to if I were being honest. I think I needed to do the other three to fully grok what it was this pair of images needed to have done. It was entirely essential to this potential hubris that Nnedi had been so excited about the previous three- and particularly to have been so spot on with them both culturally and inherent in her mind to the characters as she see saw them. Her words brought great comfort to me in times of doubt- (Thanks Nnedi!).

(8) HINES AUCTION RESULTS. Jim C. Hines’ fundraiser for Transgender Michigan brought in $1,655.55.

We know transgender youth are at a higher risk of depression and suicide, and these coming months and years could be very difficult. So I’m proud and grateful to announce that with the help of some SF/F friends and the generosity of everyone who bid and donated, we raised a total of $1,655.55 to help Transgender Michigan continue their important work.

I wanted to pass along this thank you from Susan Crocker of Transgender Michigan:

Transgender Michigan would like to thank everyone involved with the fundraiser auctions run by Jim C. Hines. All of you are helping us provide services to the transgender communities of Michigan and beyond. This will help our help line, chapters, referral system, community building, and advocacy.

(9) RULES VARIATION. Cheryl Morgan has “Arabian Nights Questions”:

Something else I did over Christmas, as a bit of a break from the Wagnerthon, was remind myself of the rules for Arabian Nights, just in case I should end up in a game at Chance & Counters. There are solo play rules, and it didn’t take long to get back into the swing of things (not to mention crippled, enslaved, and ensorcelled). However, a couple of questions occurred to me along the way and I was wondering if anyone out there could enlighten me.

First up, I remember from playing the original version that you were not allowed to win if you were gender-swapped. Indeed, I wrote a whole blog post about that a couple of years ago. Checking the rules of the new edition it appears that rule has been dropped. The card for Geas still says you can’t win while you have that status, but no other statuses seem to have that effect. Can anyone confirm this, or have I missed something?

(10) WONG OBIT. Tyrus Wong (1910-2016) who worked on Disney’s Bambi, died December 30 according to the New York Times.

When Walt Disney’s “Bambi” opened in 1942, critics praised its spare, haunting visual style, vastly different from anything Disney had done before. But what they did not know was that the film’s striking appearance had been created by a Chinese immigrant artist, who took as his inspiration the landscape paintings of the Song dynasty. The extent of his contribution to “Bambi,” which remains a high-water mark for film animation, would not be widely known for decades

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • December 31, 1931 — A doctor faces horrible consequences when he lets his dark side run wild in Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, seen for the first time on this day. This was the first horror movie ever to win an Academy Award, it was for Best Actor. The movie was also nominated for Best Writing Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography.

dr-jekyll

  • December 31, 1935 — C. B. Darrow received a patent for his Monopoly game.
  • December 31, 1958Cosmic Monsters, aka The Strange World of Planet X, opens.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY AMPHIBIAN

  • Born December 31, 1955  — Michigan J. Frog, pictured with his dad, Chuck Jones.

frog-and-chuck-jones

(13) PROGRAM BREAKERS. The BBC discusses examples of names that break computer systems.

Some individuals only have a single name, not a forename and surname. Others have surnames that are just one letter. Problems with such names have been reported before. Consider also the experiences of Janice Keihanaikukauakahihulihe’ekahaunaele, a Hawaiian woman who complained that state ID cards should allow citizens to display surnames even as long as hers – which is 36 characters in total. In the end, government computer systems were updated to have greater flexibility in this area.

Incidents like this are known, in computing terminology, as “edge cases” – that is, unexpected and problematic cases for which the system was not designed.

I remember cracking up when I read an Ann Landers column about the soldier who didn’t have a regular name, just two initials, and once the military had processed him he was legally stuck with the name “Bonly Nonly.”

(14) PRESTIDIGITIZATION. Rich Lynch announces, “From out of the mists of nearly 30 years past, the third issue of the fanzine Mimosa is now online.  You can view it here: Mimosa #3.”

“Like everything else on the Mimosa website, the issue has been put online in eye-friendly HTML format.  This will make it easier to view, as it was originally published in two-column format and you do not need to turn pages to read an article in its entirety.”

Rich has also launched the 17th issue of his personal fanthology My Back Pages at eFanzines.com.

Issue #17 is a year-end collection that starts with a long and at times strange journey, and includes essays involving teetering glass display cases, sweaty dinner expeditions, accusations of spying, protected sanctuaries, icy traverses, well-attired mountain climbs, earthquake epicenters, frigid hitchhikes, altitude-challenged terrain, river confluences, photography challenges, clear skies, city park pow-wows, employment outsourcing, focal-point fanzines, woodland views from on high, Viennese composers, good and bad winter weather, entertaining musicals, minimalist paintings, subway mosaics, and the New York City street grid.  This issue also, for the first time in the run, includes a previously unpublished essay.”

(15) LEGENDS OF THE FALL. Jo Lindsay Walton’s blog has an impressive origin story, but he may be throttling back in 2017.

Superadded to this general siege of opinion, I had started to feel that those closest to me would sometimes, in a real casual way, slip into conversation a chance remark, not obviously aimed at me, which intimated that to hide one’s l33t under a bushel might itself be construed as vanity, and that in a way wouldn’t you say that, like, the most ostentatious blog you can have as a white middle class western cis man is no blog at all — the eyes flick anxiously to mine, linger an unsettling instant, flick away. I caved. My caving is all around you. In the end it was probably the dramatis personae itself that did it: what was reiterated strategum by strategum, however laughable the local strategic design, was this bald provocation: if so many millions of entities, living, dead, exotic, imaginary, could draw together under this one bloggenic banner, if Alex Dally MacFarlane, Alice Tarbuck, and Aliette de Bodard, if Amal El-Mohtar, Amy Sterling Casil, and Ann Leckie, if Anna MacFarlane, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, and Brad R. Torgersen?, if Carol Emshwiller, Catherynne M. Valente, and China Miéville, if Christina Scholz, Chuck Tingle, and Connie Willis, if Elizabeth Jones, George O. Smith, and George RR Martin, if Gillian Anderson, Harlan Ellison, and Jack Vance, if Jim Butcher, John C. Wright, and John Scalzi, if Jonah Sutton-Morse, Joseph Tomaras, and Kate Paulk, if Kathy Acker, Kevin J. Anderson, and Kim Stanley Robinson, if Kir Bulychev, Lois McMaster Bujold, and L. Ron Hubbard, if Larry Correia, Laura J. Mixon, and Lavie Tidhar, if Margaret Cavendish, N.K. Jemisin, and Nalo Hopkinson, if Naomi Novik, Nick Mamatas, and Paul Weimer, if R.A. Lafferty, Renay, and Robert Heinlein, if Robert Jordan, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, and Saladin Ahmed, if Sarah Hoyt, Sofia Samatar, and Sophie Mayer, if Steven Gould, Tricia Sullivan, and Vox Day, if countless others, could all make cause together to beg this one blog of me, if even Alice Bradley Sheldon and James Tiptree Jnr. could set aside their differences to ask this one thing, why then could I not set my false modesty aside, look into my historically-determined and socially-constructed heart, and blog? But now the PhD is kinda done, so … well, this will probably go a bit dormant now.

A volcano puffing out the odd mothball.

(16) PAGES TURNED. Abigail Nussbaum closes out with “2016,  Year in Reading: Best Reads of the Year” at Asking the Wrong Questions.

The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar (review) I wrote several thousand words about Samatar’s second novel, the companion piece to her equally wonderful A Stranger in Olondria, earlier this year, and yet I still don’t feel that I’ve fully grappled with how special and revolutionary this book is.  This despite the fact that Histories initially feels a great deal more conventional, and much easier to sum up, than Olondria.  Its use of familiar epic fantasy tropes and styles is more pronounced than the previous novel, and whereas Olondria circled around the edges of a fantasyland civil war, Histories sets its story almost in the middle of it.  What ultimately becomes clear, however, is that just like the hero of A Stranger in Olondria, the four women who tell the story of The Winged Histories are trying to give shape to their lives by casting them into literary forms–in this case, the forms of epic fantasy, even if none of them are aware of that genre or would call it that.  And, one by one, they discover the limitations of those forms, especially where women and colonized people are concerned.  Not unlike Olondria, The Winged Histories is ultimately forced to ask whether it is even possible for people to tell their own stories using the tropes and tools left to them by their oppressors.  If the entire purpose of your existence is to be the Other, or the object, in someone else’s story, can you ever take their words, their forms, and make it a story about yourself?  For most of the novel’s characters, the solution is ultimately to fall silent, and yet The Winged Histories itself rings loudly.  As much as it is a rebuke of the fantasy genre, it is also a major work within it, and one that deserves more discussion and attention than it has received.

(17) KYRA LOOKS BACK AT 2016. In comments, Kyra sketched some mini-reviews of what she read this past year.

(18) SOME GOOD IN 2016 AFTER ALL. Creature Features, the Burbank collectibles store, put together a tribute to 2016 sff.

[Thanks to JJ, Andrew Porter, Kip W, Joe Rico, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ken Richards.]

Pixel Scroll 11/11/16 Some Say Scrolls, It Is A Pixel, That Leaves Your Eyes To Bleed

(1) RELIGHTING FIREFLY. CinemaBlend’s Nick Venable has been listening to actor Alan Tudyk, who says “Nathan Fillion Has an Awesome Idea for More Firefly”.

[Alan Tudyk] “I’m always hopeful that it’ll come back in some form or fashion. I think as long as you have Nathan Fillion – truly, if you have the captain – he can put the crew back together. Some new faces, some old faces, and get back in the air. I think Nathan pitched an idea once to me, and I think he actually got it from some fan fiction: Now, out in some shack on some forgotten moon somewhere, somebody comes and knocks on [Mal’s] door and says, ‘We need you.’ And he answers the call.”

I know that you guys might not have gotten goosebumps like I did when Alan Tudyk was saying it, but I’m sure everyone pictured that potential opening scene accordingly. It’s the perfect set-up for an action narrative, with the unpredictable hero getting picked out of reclusion to head back out for one last mission. One. Last. Mission. Not that anyone said this would have to be the final mission for Mal Reynolds, who may or may not still have his Captain status, since there should never be a last mission for him.

I’m picturing Nathan Fillion with a big giant beard, and he’s complaining about the “gorram WiFi never working” on his moon. There’s probably some kind of a booze still behind his shack. And something happened that was so foul that he vowed never to get back out into the cosmos again, for either fun or profit. But then maybe Jayne or Zoe is in trouble – take that, Jayne – and only Mal can be the one to bring him/her/them/all the gold back. Combine that with the masterfully wild shot that Joss Whedon never got to bring to Firefly, and it all starts to write itself, though that’s only helpful if the project can also order itself to series and air itself.

(2) KC DISCOVERS SUSHI. Scott Edelman of the Eating the Fantastic podcast invites you to “Take a break for sushi with Kathleen Ann Goonan” in Episode 22 of the series.

Kathleen Ann Goonan

Kathleen Ann Goonan

I may have given you the impression, based on the three previous episodes of Eating the Fantastic, that all I ate while I was in Kansas City for this year’s World Science Fiction Convention was BBQ. Not true! This episode’s guest requested sushi, which led us Bob Wasabi Kitchen, giving me some respite from the meat sweats.

And who’s the guest this time? Kathleen Ann Goonan, whose first novel, Queen City Jazz, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and who won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel for In War Times. And, I should add, who wrote the story, “The Bride of Elvis,” which I had the honor of publishing twenty years ago (yikes!), back when I was editing Science Fiction Age magazine.

(3) LIFE OF TOLKIEN. The Verge reports “J.R.R. Tolkien biopic Middle Earth will add new depth to Lord of the Rings”.

Earlier this week, Deadline revealed that New Line Cinema would be revisiting the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien. Rather than adapting one of his many novels or stories, director James Strong will be helming a film about the author himself, which has the potential to give viewers an entirely new way of looking at the works that he’s most famous for.

Middle Earth is described as following Tolkien’s “early life and love affair with Edith Bratt,” as well as his service to the British Army during the First World War. The film, to be written by Angus Fletcher, is reportedly based on years of archival research on Tolkien’s life.

(4) VAUGHN OBIT. Actor Robert Vaughn (1932-2016) died November 11. His most famous role was Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which aired from 1964-1968, and reprised in a 1983 reunion movie for television. When reruns of the late-1950s series Men Into Space began airing recently, Rich Lynch spotted a young Robert Vaughn in his first sf genre role, the episode “Moon Cloud.”  He appeared in episodes of dozens of TV series over the decades, and in several movies, notably Bullitt and The Magnificent Seven.

The late James H. Burns wrote several File 770 posts about Vaughn, whom he had interviewed for print articles.

When I chatted with Robert Vaughn a few weeks ago, there was a fascinating surprise…

…Vaughn had just spent, for the first time, I believe, a great deal of time watching “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.”!

When the U.N.C.L.E. marathon was on, a few months ago (was it on the DECADES cable channel?), Vaughn found himself checking in, within the coziness of his Connecticut home.

He had never really seen the episodes, and was now watching a number of the excellent first season shows.

Now, this isn’t unusual for any actor. In the 1960s, the schedule on television shoots could be overwhelming. (That’s been true, really, in any era of filmmaking.) Vaughn was also busy with his private education, and of course, civic pursuits….

 

We were at a tribute to Vaughn at the Players Club in Manhattan, and were chatting amiably afterwards:

Vaughn was I think I bit surprised and happy that there was someone to talk with who knew a bit about various aspects of his career… (Plus, I had just explained the ending of Bullitt  to him, something which had apparently eluded the both of us, for years!)

…In the early ’70s. Vaughn had signed to star in The Protectors, a syndicated, half-hour action adventure series about international detectives, from ITC and producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. The Andersons, of course, are well known to TV buffs and science fiction fans of a certain age for Supercar, Fireball XL5, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet — all marionette shows, and the live-action series UFO, and Space: 1999.

The Protectors was a big deal for Anderson, his first major (and, as it turned out, last) mainstream–non-fantasy–endeavor.

The Andersons invited Vaughn and his then business partner to their London home for dinner, for a celebratory meal.

Vaughn and his business manager/pal had drinks in the living room, and then Gerry and Sylvia led them into the formal dining room…

It was only this small group, but the huge table was set for MANY:

And seated at each gilded chair was one of the Andersons’ famous Supermarionation figures!

(5) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born November 11, 1922 – Kurt Vonnegut

(6) VERTLIEB ON FILM HISTORY PANELS AT PHILCON. Steve Vertlieb wants you to know you can find him at Philcon 2016 in Philadelphia discussing Ray Harryhausen and Hammer Films.

The Convention of The Philadelphia Science Fiction Society at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on Saturday, November 19th, 2016, presents…

THE CLASSIC HAMMER FILMS: AN OVERVIEW

[Panelists: Steve Vertlieb (mod), Richard Stout, John Vaughan, Tony Finan, Mark Leeper, James Chambers]

Hammer Films released numerous productions from the 50’s through the 80’s. From Frankenstein and Dracula with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing to the astonishingly brilliant Quatermass films, these movies helped set up the future of Science Fiction media

Sat 5:00 PM in Crystal Ballroom Two (1 hour)

RAY HARRYHAUSEN: A LIFE

[Panelists: Steve Vertlieb (mod), Richard Stout]

An affectionate remembrance of a motion picture special effects pioneer, and a nearly fifty year admiration and friendship. Writer Steve Vertlieb recalls the Harryhausen legacy, and a profoundly moving personal relationship with a fantasy film legend

(7) SHATNER DRAMA. The Nate Sanders firm is auctioning a handwritten soliloquy “William Shatner Sincerely Wants to Know Why George Takei Doesn’t Like Him – ‘…Not so long after that very friendly time he began to say very mean things about me. – Why?’”

Fascinating account by William Shatner on his relationship with George Takei, where he seems to try to sincerely understand why Takei doesn’t like him, even perhaps using the account as a public question. Composed on Shatner’s personal stationery, autograph signed recollection reads in full, ”George Takei was living in a beautifully appointed apartment. I was there to interview him for a book I was writing. He was most gracious – kind, mannered even formal. He was the essence of an Asian gentleman. We talked memories of Star Trek, his very difficult childhood given that he and his family were put behind a wired fence – in effect a concentration camp. We were at war with Japan and American fears were such that the government put everybody with a Japanese background into those camps – what a terrible beginning of life. But George had overcome [by] working hard and with intelligence he had bettered himself – he had disciplined his body as a runner and he had done the same with his mind; he was running for office as well. His apartment showed all that discipline – it was ordered, it had character, it was immaculate and so was George. I had never really got to know him. He would come in every so often during the week while we were shooting Star Trek. I was busy learning lines and dealing with my life, so I really can’t remember a meaningful conversation – I’m sure that would be my fault – my lack of attention – Never the less when we all wrapped that last day of shooting it was all meaningfull [sic] – for all of us – Star Trek was cancelled. Until this moment in his apartment we had not spoken. Not so long after that very friendly time he began to say very mean things about me. – Why? / William Shatner”. Single page measures 7.25” x 10.25”. Near fine condition.

(8) BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Also on the auction bloc: “William Shatner Defends His Decision Not To Attend His Friend Leonard Nimoy’s Funeral – ‘…we’ll mourn Leonard, say his name and then pledge your money….’”

Very interesting handwritten signed recollection by William Shatner on the death of his friend Leonard Nimoy, who served as Shatner’s best man at his 1997 wedding, but with whom he was no longer speaking to in 2015 when Nimoy died. Shatner famously did not attend Nimoy’s funeral, which he explains here: ”Leonard was very sick – he was in the hospital. His health was difficult – he was in fact dying – but nobody but his family knew – certainly I didn’t. A month or so prior to his going into the hospital, the American Red Cross asked me to do their largest fundraiser. It would be a huge event, thousands of potential donors, millions of dollars. I enthusiastically said yes. I was to leave on a Friday night for a Saturday performance when the news of Leonard’s death was delivered – the funeral was to be Sunday – what to do? My immediate thought given the blinding news of his death, my appearance or non appearance would not be noticed – also what about the people who had given good money with the expectation of seeing me – heartbroken dilemma – I chose to go the Red Cross and as I said to the people there – all is dust – your name, my name, Leonard’s name will soon be forgotten – but the good deeds you do tonight will be long remembered – I meant those emphatically. Helping others ever reverberates through time – we’ll mourn Leonard, say his name and then pledge your money. / William Shatner”. Single page composed on Shatner’s personal stationery measures 7.25” x 10.25”. Near fine condition.

(9) COMPARING HORNBLOWER AND KIRK. The Nate Sanders house also is auctioning this handwritten anecdote: “William Shatner Describes Captain Kirk: ‘…the gravity of each decision, the mastery of everybody on board…riding a stud horse bareback, loving the ladies – sound familiar?…’”

Fantastic handwritten signed recollection by William Shatner, reflecting on Captain Kirk, his famous alter ego from ”Star Trek”. Composed on Shatner’s personal stationery, he offers an unexpectedly frank and humorous account of Kirk: ”’Horatio Hornblower’ – Roddenberry said in answer to my question ‘who is he like’ – so I read Horatio Hornblower. Horatio is a captain of a British ship plowing the unknown oceans of America in the 1600’s – the loneliness of command, the gravity of each decision, the mastery of everybody on board – awesomeness of command. Yes, very good I got it- and that was the basis of the character of Kirk – I had just, the year before, shot a movie of Alexander the Great, this marvelous, historical character who was one of the great and noble characters of history – using a sword, riding a stud horse bareback, loving the ladies – sound familiar? And those tight costumes!! I had been lifting weights and put on some muscle, I was ready to play Capt. James Tiberius Kirk. Now all I had to do is remember ten pages of dialog – a lot of those words had no basis in English – Scientific goblygook that required head pounding memorization. Memorizing is difficult, some actors, like James Spader, have a photographic memory – they glance at a paper and it’s there forever – me? I have to go over and over and over – it’s a source of great tension – what’s the next word? The eternal actor’s question. / William Shatner”. Single page measures 7.25” x 10.25”. Near fine condition.

(10) GENE FOUGHT FOR THE EARS. The fourth item of Shatner holography being auctioned by the Nate Sanders firm is — “William Shatner Reflects on Gene Roddenberry & the ‘Star Trek’ Pilot – ‘….there was some objection to Spock’s ears. ‘Too devilish’ somebody said – Gene fought for the ears….”

 Fantastic handwritten signed recollection by William Shatner on Gene Roddenberry and getting the ”Star Trek” pilot made, as well as his relationship with Roddenberry as the show progressed. Composed on Shatner’s personal stationery, in full: ”I met Gene Roddenberry over the phone – he had called me in New York to ask me to come see a pilot film he had just made for N.B.C. He was calling it Star Trek. I flew to Los Angeles and went to see this pilot film that N.B.C. didn’t want to buy. I thought it was terrific – I sat in Gene’s office and made a few suggestions – I thought the pilot was a little slow, a little ponderous. It could use some lightness, some humor – He looked at me from across the desk and after a silence said ‘Let’s do it’ – We shot the pilot film for the second time and we were rewarded by a sell. He told me later there was some objection to Spock’s ears. ‘Too devilish’ somebody said – Gene fought for the ears and like in a really good bullfight, he was awarded the ears. Gene was on the set in these early shows and we looked to him for guidance and counsel – which he freely gave. I would frequently go to the office and talk to him about the script, some item of dialogue, some thought that I might have – in these early years he was open – that slowly changed as time went on. / William Shatner”. Single page measures 7.25” x 10.25”. Near fine condition.

(11) HEIRESSES OF RUSS. A.M. Dellamonica posts the “Heiresses of Russ 2015 ToC Announcement”.

I am so pleased to announce the finalized line-up for Heiresses of Russ 2016, from Lethe Press, edited by Steve Berman and myself. This is my editorial debut and it’s the sixth, I believe in the HoR series. As the Lethe Press site says, Heiresses of Russ reprints the prior year’s best lesbian-themed short works of the fantastical, the otherworldly, the strange and wondrous under one cover.

Here’s the line-up:

(12) SECOND FIFTH ELEMENT. Sciencefiction.com invites us to “Check Out The First Trailer For Luc Besson’s ‘Valerian’”

Although Luc Besson has only occasionally ventured into the realm of science fiction, with films like ‘Lucy‘ and of course ‘The Fifth Element’ to his credit, he has nonetheless made a substantial mark on the genre. And now he is poised to do so once again, with his upcoming film ‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets‘.

Based on the long-running French comic ‘Valerian and Laureline’, created by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres (who collaborated with Besson, a longtime fan, on ‘The Fifth Element), the film follows Valerian and his partner/love interest Laureline, a pair of government operatives tasked with investigating Alpha, a vast, alien metropolis that may harbor a grave danger to human civilization….

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]

Remembering Ron 

Editor’s note: I’m reprinting this tribute to famed British sf fan Ron Bennett to mark the tenth anniversary of his passing.

By Rich Lynch: I remember that I read the news of his death in the November 2006 issue of the newszine Ansible:

Ron Bennett (1933-2006), long-time UK fan who was the 1958 TAFF delegate and edited the classic sf newsletter Skyrack (1959-1971), died on 5 November soon after being diagnosed with leukemia. He was 73.

The life and death of one of the most important and notable British science fiction fans, reduced down to just a few lines of text.  That I hadn’t even known he was ill made it all the more disheartening to read.  I feel very fortunate that I became friends with Ron Bennett, and regretful that it happened only in the last decade-and-a-half of his life.  It started with correspondence, back in 1991, when I was editing the manuscript that became Harry Warner’s fanhistory of the 1950s, A Wealth of Fable (SCIFI Press, 1992).  Ron appears in several places in the book, and I had contacted him to clarify something that in the end turned out to be nothing more than a typographical error.  But that got him on the mailing list for Mimosa, the fanzine that I co-edited (with my wife Nicki) that specialized in the preservation of the history of science fiction fandom, which eventually led to our first face-to-face meeting in Glasgow at ‘Intersection’, the 1995 Worldcon.

By then I had learned a lot more about Ron’s activities in that 1950s Golden Age.  He had published two focal-point fanzines – the newszine Skyrack and also a more general interest fanzine, PLOY, which lived up to the name by beginning its run with issue #2 to make readers believe they had missed the first one (there was even a letters column with comments from a few friends in the know, who heaped praise on the fictional first issue).  He was also described as a key player in the unraveling of one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated in science fiction fandom – the celebrated Joan W. Carr, who was ultra-active in British fandom for about four years during the mid-1950s but didn’t actually exist.

Ron Bennett playing Brag at Repetercon in 1964. Photo by Dave Barber.

Ron Bennett playing Brag at Repetercon in 1964. Photo by Dave Barber.

Ron himself was also ultra-active in British fandom during the 1950s and into the 1960s, and his fanac diminished only after temporarily relocating to Singapore in 1967 for employment as a teacher of the children of British army personnel stationed there.  By the time I finally met Ron, in the Dealers Room at Intersection, I had become familiar enough with his personal fanhistory that when we were chatting about the circumstances surrounding his move to Singapore, he was so impressed by the breadth of my knowledge that he asked me in jest if I also knew the airline and flight number he had booked!

It was two years later that Ron started contributing what became a series of nine entertaining and illuminating articles for Mimosa, the first being an account of his time in Singapore and how (in that era of the Cold War) he once had to ward off the overtures from a Russian spy.  Following that, Ron wrote short, amusing, anecdotal histories of PLOY and Skyrack, and also a thoughtful and warm remembrance of another of British fandom’s most prominent members, Vin¢ Clarke.  But it was Ron’s article about the four Kettering Eastercons of the mid-1950s that provided more information about the “Joan Carr” hoax and in doing so contradicted the general belief that he had been the person who had outed the hoax – it was true that he had been inadvertently tipped off by another fan who was in on the ruse, but that had been the entire extent of his involvement.

Ron Bennett and Nicki Lynch in 2002.

Ron Bennett and Nicki Lynch in 2002.

Ron’s last article for Mimosa, which appeared in the final issue of the run, described the first Worldcon that he ever attended, the fabulous 1957 Loncon.  This was the first time a Worldcon had been held in Europe, and with its compact size (which allowed everybody to meet everybody else) and unprecedented international nature, arguably it was the most important science fiction convention that has ever been staged.  Ron attended several other Worldcons, including the very next one in California where he was the Trans Atlantic Fan Fund delegate, but the only other time where we crossed paths at a Worldcon was in 2002 at San Jose.  It was totally unexpected and happened on the very last day of the convention.  He was in the States to visit his son, who was editing a Silicon Valley-based computer trade journal of some kind, and just showed up unannounced.  The only reason Nicki and I found him at all was because of a chance remark I overheard from someone who’d sold him a book in the Dealers Room.

That was the last time I ever saw him.  I had thought we’d meet again at the 2005 Worldcon in Glasgow, and had even requested a program item from the convention committee where I could interview him to see what other bits of knowledge we could glean about the 1950s and 1960s.  But for whatever reason, Ron didn’t attend and with a travel schedule that had been “carved in stone” I really couldn’t go and seek him out.  But if I’d known he only had a bit more than a year left, I would have tried a lot harder.

With all of his years of fan activity and involvement in the storied events of decades past, I’d always thought that Ron Bennett would have been an ideal candidate for a Worldcon Guest of Honor.  I do believe it would eventually have happened, but time ran out on him.  All of what’s left are the memories and recollections from people who had been fortunate enough to have known him.  These have been some of mine.

The Day I Became a Space Cadet

Stairs comp

Atop the Stairwell to Space!

By Rich Lynch: Those of you who know me are probably aware of something that I’ve been doing since about the beginning of 2011. During an otherwise uneventful day at work I had misinterpreted a comment by my then-boss that I really needed to get out from behind my desk more often. She had been wanting me to be a bit more interactive with other interagency organizations. But for a few moments I had thought she had meant that I needed to be getting more exercise.

And she would have been right – I was way too deskbound. So I decided to break each day up with a few one-mile walks within the building where I work. This increased my metabolic rate, which has helped me to manage calories and weight, and the endorphins generated by this mild exercise have helped to sharpen my thinking while I’m at work.

But to make things interesting, I plotted a virtual “Walk Across America” to keep track of my total distance walked and to serve as a motivation to keep going even farther. Five years of these one-mile walks have “brought” me more than 3,200 miles, or the distance from my home in Maryland down to New Orleans, across Texas and the desert Southwest to Los Angeles, then up the coast toward San Francisco.

And there’s more – each mile walked includes more than 100 feet of stair climbing. And as of February 3rd, I reached a milestone – my total distance climbed passed the 62-mile mark, the so-called Kármán Line which represents the internationally-recognized boundary between the earth’s atmosphere and space. Years ago at a meeting, someone not-entirely-in-jest accused me of being a space cadet. I can now claim to have officially fulfilled that prophesy!

But, truth be told, I’ve probably been a space cadet for most of my life – I was nine years old, when I discovered science fiction. This was back in the autumn of 1959, and it was before I found out there were science fiction books in the school library – it would be about another year before I would read Arthur C. Clarke’s Islands in the Sky. No, my first exposure to science fiction was on television.

men into space logoIt was a show titled Men Into Space, televised in 1959 and 1960 at the very end of the Eisenhower administration, back when the Space Race with the Soviets was becoming a national priority. It depicted the U.S. Space Program as a part of the Air Force – the main character was Col. Edward McCauley, who was portrayed as being the number one U.S. astronaut. He took part in practically all manned space missions, many of them to the moon. The program was only on the air for one season, but that season was 38 episodes long.

Seeing an episode of Men Into Space was a true sense-of-wonder experience, before I even knew what that meant. In the course of its single season, manned space flight progressed from the building of a space station, to the first test of an orbital flight around the moon, to a moon landing, to a moon base, to a trip to a near-earth asteroid, and ending the series with a trip to the planet Mars! Along the way there were episodes that addressed the question on whether we are alone in the universe. Great stuff to a kid who was about to turn 10 years old!

Lundigan COMP

Col. McCauley shows off a moon rocket model

Episodes were only a half-hour long, so the plots were pretty direct: a team of astronauts, headed by McCauley, was sent off into space for some purpose. Something unexpected happens, often imperiling the crew, and McCauley has to quickly find a way to save the day. It all worked because the actor William Lundigan, who played McCauley, was a military man himself, having served in the U.S. Marines during World War Two. On screen he comes across as an in-charge authority figure who is nevertheless very likeable. And it helped that Lundigan believed that all the space science depicted in the series was attainable someday in the real world without the need for any huge leaps in technology. He was reported to have said that: “What helped me to make up my mind [to be in the series] was the fact that this was not some Buck Rogers type show. It was not a science-fiction series, but a science-fact series. You might even say it’s a combination of a public service show and a dramatic series.”

One other thing that has reserved Men Into Space a place in my memory for all these years was how realistic the series seemed to be. And there was a reason for that – visual backdrops and spacecraft designs were created by the famous space artist Chesley Bonestell. There was also extensive technical assistance provided by the U.S. Air Force’s space medicine office, which helped give the series a sense of humanity in amongst all the space technology.Bonestell credit COMP

Men Into Space ended its run more than half a century ago but since then I have always remembered how amazing it had seemed to me. So it was a pleasant surprise when I discovered that the new cable television network Comet TV, amongst its offerings of Grade-Z monster movies and 1990s sci?fi, had found room to include it in their schedule. The evening of my ascendency into Space Cadet-hood I watched an episode – it guest-starred a very young-looking Robert Vaughn five years before he became famous as The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  The plot, about a radioactive cloud of gas in a lunar crater, was a bit retro but you know what? It still held together pretty well.

Anyway, I’m pleased that after fifty-seven years I finally got another chance to watch what had been my favorite television show.  And I’m still a fan.

Mimosa #5 Online — At Last!

Mimosa #5 cover by Alan Hutchinson.

Mimosa #5 cover by Alan Hutchinson.

Rich Lynch announces that after a mere 27 years the 5th (yes, Filers, fifth!) issue of Mimosa (August 1988) is now online in easy-on-the-eyes HTML.

The issue contains articles and essays by Robert Lichtman, Carolyn Doyle, Greg Hills, Dal Coger, Sharon Farber, Alan Hutchinson, and Nicki Lynch.  The Farber article is the very first in her long series of “Tales of Adventure and Medical Life” stories, while Alan Hutchinson’s article is an example of that great Southern Fandom tradition, the hoax convention report (though some of it actually happened).  Robert Lichtman gives us a glimpse onto what was perhaps the most successful commune settlement in the United States (it was simply known as “The Farm”), Nicki talks about her brief career as a coffee shop barista, and Dal Coger remembers fandom’s most eccentric character, the legendary Claude Degler.  In addition to all this, a Midwestcon 39 conversation between Howard DeVore, Lynn Hickman, Ray Beam, and Roger Sims informs us on “The Awful Truth About Roger Sims”.

This was the final issue that Nicki and I published from Chattanooga, and it’s more-or-less themed as a “Farewell to Tennessee” issue.  It’s all entertaining.  Hope you think so, too.

Mimosa won the Best Fanzine Hugo six times between 1992 and 2003. With many interesting fanhistorical articles – including autobiographical series by Dave Kyle, Forry Ackerman and Mike Resnick – its website is well worth a visit.

Pixel Scroll 8/5 Closing Bracket

Four is fantastic, two is good, but two divided by one can only be sad, all in today’s Scroll.

(1) The quartet’s comic book shut down in April. They have a movie but do they have a future? Alex Pappademas remembers the original future of the Fantastic Four at Grantland.

I am jealous of Reed Richards. I am jealous of his Thinking Room, which appears to have floor-to-ceiling tablet-screen walls on which to write Beautiful Mind–ish equations. I am jealous of his having had 100-plus ideas. But I also relate to Reed. Reed has a wife and a family, but in order to see to their safety and security, he has to absent himself from their lives and spend long periods of time in the Thinking Room. As a professional writer, I relate very strongly to all of this…..

I became a fan of the Fantastic Four and specifically of Reed Richards when I was 32, reading those Dark Reign issues for the first time. My wife was pregnant with our daughter and I was trying — in vain, it turned out — to finish writing a book before the baby came. It would be great to be able to tell you that Reed Richards inspired me to keep going even when all seemed lost, but this isn’t that kind of story. I never finished the book. But during those months when I was trying, I returned again and again to that “SOLVE EVERYTHING” panel and imagined myself as the Reed Richards of my own family, unshaven in the lab, too smart not to realize my situation was hopeless and too desperate not to keep going.

solve-everything-fantastic-four-e1438635716861

(2) SF Signal’s newest Mind Meld feature asks:

Q:Why is gaming important for the development of your other creative pursuits? Have any video games you’ve played been especially influential in your career?

And Beth Cato, James L. Sutter, Josh Vogt, Monica Valentinelli, Nathan Beittenmiller, Carrie Patel, and Jen Williams answer.

(3) Frankenstein style light switch plates.

Turn your room into a horror movie mad scientist lab! Perfect for Halloween Haunted House!

The single switchplate is $9.99

black frankenstein switch

The dual switchplate is $14.99

double frankenstein switchplate

(4) We still don’t know when winter is coming, and George R.R. Martin has once again teased the release date without actually saying when it is.

Author George R.R. Martin is just as excited as everyone else for the release of his novel “Winds of Winter.” The book is the sixth installment in the series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” which is the basis for the hit HBO show “Game of Thrones.” Martin said in a recent interview he wants the book to be out as soon as possible and teased it holds a shocking twist for a major character.

Most of the material in the first five published books has now been used up and Season 6 of the TV series is already in production. Martin has constantly spoken about his desire to get the sixth book out as soon as possible, and a recent entry on his live journal Not A Blog has given fans hope the release date will be sooner rather than later.

In the blog, he spoke about traveling to a wedding and a baseball event in the East Coast. He signed off by leaving a faint hint the book may already be in the hands of his publishing house. “And while I will be travelling, my army of minions will be here at the old homestead, toiling in the paper mines,” he said.

(5) Arthur Chu, maybe the Puppies have a point about you after all.

(6) Yesterday’s scroll excerpted J. A. Micheline’s “Why I’m Boycotting Marvel Comics” at Comics Alliance.

Declan Finn decided to give it the Puppy treatment in “Boycotting Marvel: A Fisk” at The Catholic Geeks. Quotes from Micheline’s article are bold and underlined.

First, came your quiet decision to hand the new Blade book over to two white creators.

Um … Blade is about vampires. Not race relations, vampires.  You do understand that vampires are less a #BlackLivesMatter problem and more an #AllLivesMatter problem, don’t you? Or are you one of those people who would storm the stage with outrage at such a hashtag? Yes, you strike me as a very hashtag person. Heavy on the hash — and I mean hashish, not corned beef hash. I’m saying you’re high, not fat.

To be clear, I have no reason to think either creator will do a bad job on this book,

Oh, I think you just did.  You’ve quite implied already that because they’re white, this is a problem. Either their race is a problem, or it’s not — and since you went out of your way to say they’re white, this tells me quite clearly that this is a problem.

(7) Vice writer Cecilia D’Anastasio interviewed seven black cosplayers at Otakon for “What Black Anime Fans Can Teach Us About Race in America”. Chanel P. had this to say —

Were there any anime characters you identified with in particular?

I definitely identified with Sailor Jupiter [from Sailor Moon]. I was the tallest kid in my elementary school class. People would pick fun at me. She was shy, and so was I.

What do you think about the fact that there aren’t many black anime characters? Was that a barrier to engagement?

It was at first. When I first started coming to anime conventions, I was a bit afraid, actually, to cosplay any characters. I thought, They aren’t black, I can’t do that . I thought you had to actually look like the character in order to dress like her. But, I mean, I saw people of my skin tone dressing like the character they wanted and thought, I can do that too . I thought, I guess it doesn’t matter that there aren’t black characters. But I think we do need more black characters.

What’s it been like to cosplay?

The first time I cosplayed Sailor Moon was at Otakon last year. That was the first time I ever cosplayed. I got some pictures taken that were posted on the internet. I was excited, like, Hey I’m on the internet, yay! And then I read the comments. A lot of them weren’t good, at all. I got, “The cosplay is good, but she shouldn’t be black,” and “Oh, her skin is too dark,” and “Oh, her hair shouldn’t be blonde.” It was a lot of nasty stuff people should have kept to themselves.

(8) This may be the first time anyone resorted to Craigslist to dump surplus convention program books:

Did you miss taking home your copy of the WesterCon 68/2015 program? Or didn’t attend and want to pretend you did? Or really just wanna know what you missed? Three of them followed me home after the end of the con’. You can have up to three; pick up here.

(9) After reading today’s Robert Conquest obituary, Rich Lynch noted in comments that the famous Walt Willis carried on a correspondence with Conquest, and quoted from it in “I Remember Me” for Mimosa 17.

[Conquest:] Personally, I think it is clear that the Soviet system is, in all essential matters, as bad as the Nazi one, and that its theory that this system is suitable for imposition on the rest of the world is the greatest danger there is. On the other hand, I fancy that if we can solve our own problems and keep the Communist states from breaking out, while at the same time pointing out to them the advantages that would accrue if they ceased to exclude themselves from the world community, their internal tensions would finally force these states to evolve or perish.

[Wills:] As you’ll probably have noticed, I didn’t really appreciate Conquest’s importance. At the time, he was mainly known to me as an anti-Soviet polemicist, and my politics then were more pro-Soviet than anything, based on the assumption that whatever was wrong in the Soviet Union, at least their hearts were in the right place. I don’t have any recollection of further correspondence with Conquest, though I can’t say what might not turn up in the files, but as far as I know, my last reference to him was in my report of the visit of Madeleine and myself to the World Fair in Seattle in 1962:

[Willis:] “Even now there is such a cloud of fatigue in that corridor of my memory that I cannot believe there would be much of interest in it to you. Except possibly the still vivid recollection of seeing at the exit from the U.S. Science Pavilion, in great gold letters on the wall, a quotation from a Hyphen subscriber. Unaccountably they failed to mention this fact, mentioning just the name, Robert Conquest — presuming, no doubt, that his chief claim to immortality lies in his poetry and not in his letters of comment on Hyphen. Admittedly, he hasn’t written many of the latter recently, his subscription having lapsed, but let that be a warning to you. Let your Hyphen subscription lapse, and you may find yourself reduced to writing on walls in Washington.”

(10) Hollywood’s ultimate power couple has announced they’ve split!

Things got a little heated at the Television Critics Association panel for ABC’s new series, The Muppets, when Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, along with series executive producers Bill Prady (The Big Bang Theory) and Bob Kushell (Suburgatory), revealed more about their upcoming series and that the felt couple’s long-term relationship is done-zo.

“Piggy and I have gone our separate ways romantically,” Kermit revealed. “I think it’s just kind of coming out in the press now.  It can be tough to work with your ex, you know.  And it can be tough to be the executive producer on your ex’s late?night TV show, especially when your ex is a pig.” (We’re sure he meant that in a species identification way only.)

(11) David Tormsen ranks Sad Puppies at #5 on a list of 10 Misguided Social And Political Movements Of Our Time on Listverse.

Every year, the Hugo Awards for science fiction and fantasy writers are voted on by paid members of Worldcon, the World Science Fiction Convention. Popular nominee books, movies, and commentators are placed on a shortlist of five, which are then voted on. The system is relatively easy to game, but this was not previously a problem as the majority of voters simply voted on individual taste, and popular authors knew campaigning for the awards would be in bad taste. That was until the Sad Puppy movement came along.

The Sad Puppies believe the awards have been taken over by excessively progressive authors and fans. Right-wing author Brad Torgersen describes them as “niche, academic, overtly to the Left in ideology and flavor, and ultimately lacking what might best be called visceral, gut-level, swashbuckling fun.” The Sad Puppies believe science fiction and fantasy have lost their way and want to return to a sci-fi golden age. They see a liberal conspiracy to promote authors who are female or minorities, supposedly alienating a fan base of primarily white males. Their vision of the future has no place for social science fiction or the influence of feminists, LGBTQ advocates, or liberals.

[Thanks to Dave Doering, Rich Lynch, Michael J. Walsh and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Cat.]

Rich Lynch Turns The Page

Rich Lynch has posted the 14th issue of My Back Pages [PDF file] with another collection of his articles at eFanzines.com.

This issue offers “essays involving Norwegian humor, road trips, dinner expeditions, building restoration, coastal waters, mossy trees, spectacular vistas, famous composers, fresco murals, giant fists, famous churches, draconian choices, intimidating views, large ships, baseball stadiums, small superheros, inaccurate road maps, fanzine covers, fannish legends, and lots of old friends.”

Dave Kyle, Today’s Birthday Boy

Dave Kyle in 2011. Photo by Taral Wayne.

Dave Kyle in 2011. Photo by Taral Wayne.

The legendary Dave Kyle is 96 today, February 14. Going by his Facebook photo, he spent it wrapped up in a cozy blanket in front of the fireplace, a warm drink within reach.

Coincidentally, this is also the day Rich Lynch has posted an electronic copy of Mimosa 7, one of the early issues that’s been missing from the online collection. Dave Kyle’s contribution to the issue, “A Hugo Gernsback Author”, outlines his discovery of fandom and ardent desire to make his first pro sale.

Lynch touts the other delights of Mimosa 7 with these well-chosen words:

Sharon Farber has an article in the issue, the third in her long series of anecdotal tales from her medical student days. And we also included an article by Paul “Skel” Skelton (titled “No Way to Stand Kansas”) about how he thought fanzine fandom was beginning to transition into an inconsequential adjunct of “social fandom”.

The featured article of the issue, though, is also the longest article in the entire 30-issue run of Mimosa — a description and history of Chat, the fanzine that Nicki and I published before we began Mimosa. Embedded within that article are short pieces by Bob Tucker and Teddy Harvia, and an amusing and anecdotal three way interview with Bob Tucker and Robert Bloch.

And I can’t end the description of Mimosa 7 without mentioning that it includes one of the longest lettercols in the run, with correspondence from 28 different letterhacks including such notables as Harry Warner, Walt Willis, Sam Moskowitz, Russell Chauvenet, A. Langley Searles, Buck Coulson, Juanita Coulson, and Mike Glicksohn. Covers are by Teddy Harvia and Peggy Ranson.