By Rob Hansen [host of THEN, the British fanhistory site]: I’m always amazed by some of the stuff that survives down the decades and finds its way to me. The 1957 Worldcon was already easily the most well-covered con on my website, but now there’s more. Want to know the names of those at the con whose names have not been recorded in any conreport, the guests who turned and left on seeing the state of the hotel, those due to be there who cancelled, and those who refused to pay? It’s all here: The Hotel Register.
Karen Anderson, author and a master of all the fannish arts, died March 17. Her daughter, Astrid Bear, announced her passing on Facebook.
My mother, Karen Anderson [widow of Poul Anderson], died last night. It was a peaceful and unexpected passing — she died in her bed and was found by the Sunday visiting nurse…. Memorial gathering plans to be announced later, but in the meantime, raise a glass to the memory of a fine woman. If you are moved to make a donation, please consider the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund or the UCLA Medical School.
Born Karen Kruse in Kentucky in 1932, she married sf writer Poul Anderson in 1953. They moved to the Bay Area, where their daughter Astrid (now married to Greg Bear) was born in 1954. Poul died in 2001.
Karen and Poul collaborated on a number of stories over the years, and on the King of Ys series published in the 1980s. And she wrote poetry, including the first published science fiction haiku (in F&SF, July 1962).
Even more notably, Karen made many historic contributions to fannish culture.
She was the first person to intentionally use the term filk music in print. ZineWiki explains —
In the 1950s, Karen Anderson spotted a typo in a fanzine while reading an essay by Lee Jacobs on folk music, where he had mistyped “folk” as “filk”. In her words, “Who ever heard of a filk? Since the essay appeared in an amateur publication circulated among science fiction fans, though, there was only one thing to do. Rather than waste a phrase like “filk song”, something must be created to which the name could be applied.” There had been songs written by science fiction fans since the 1940s, but Anderson’s new name for them caught on, and she is credited with naming “filk songs”.
Karen Kruse Anderson also was the first faned to publish a filksong, as Lee Gold documented:
Traveling yet further back in time, to the 26th SAPS distribution, Winter, 1953, on page #22 of Die Zeitschrift für Vollstandigen Unsinn #774 by Karen Kruse Anderson is…the first-known song published as a filk song [123k scan] – written (see the note in The Zed #780) by Poul Anderson.
And Karen, a rare beauty, shined as a costumer. She personified a familiar sf image in this array of “Warrior Women” photographed by George Young at the 1955 Worldcon. (She’s on the right.)
Later, she brought daughter Astrid into her presentations, as shown here in Ben Jason’s photo from the 1964 Worldcon.
Five years later at St. Louiscon, mother and daughter etched their names in masquerade history as “The Bat and the Bitten.”
Fanac.org relates the dramatic moment:
“The Bat and the Bitten” Astrid Anderson & Karen Anderson delivered a truly chilling performance as a vampire sires a new acolyte. Astrid is the victim in a white mini dress who transforms as the vampire envelops her in her huge black wings and secretly squirted Astrid with a homemade mixture of gelatin, red ink & yellow food coloring so that after the bite, Astrid opened her 14 foot white wings to reveal the blood that ran from her neck and down her dress to a horrified audience. It is still considered one of the best performances to this day and it was awarded both the Grand Prize & Judges’ Choice.
In 1988, costume fandom presented an award for lifetime achievement to Karen Anderson at the Worldcon, Nolacon II (New Orleans). This was the first such award, ever. It is a forerunner of the ICG Lifetime Achievement Award.
Karen had an avid interest in daily life throughout history and in different cultures, especially cooking as shaped by culture, available tools, and local or imported ingredients.
Her interest found a perfect outlet in the Society for Creative Anachronism, started in 1966, of which she, Poul, and Astrid were founding members. She remained active in the SCA for many years, once serving as “herald of the known world.” As late as 2010 she still officered a local organization as Baroness of the Angels.
Karen and Poul joined the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society in 1967. She had earlier made her mark in LASFS history by appearing in the fannish film The Musquite Kid Rides Again (1960), based on a story from Lee Jacobs’ fanzine The Ballard Chronicles, She moved back to the LA area after Poul died in 2001, and regularly attended club meetings for several years. She won the club’s Forry Award in 2010 for lifetime achievement in sf.
Karen was also a Sherlock Holmes fan, who co-founded a Holmes society with a couple of friends in 1959. The affinity continued all her life. She was made a member of the Baker Street Irregulars in 2000, receiving her investiture as Conan Doyle character Emilia Lucca.
Karen was an extraordinarily bright and talented person who made towering contributions to fandom and the sf field.
By Karl-Johan Norén: Lars-Olov Strandberg passed away early morning on March 3, never having recovered from a stroke he suffered in January. He was a Guest of Honour at Interaction, the 2005 Worldcon in Glasgow.
Lars-Olov was born July 26, 1929. He was active from the start of Swedish science fiction fandom, present at the first Swedish science fiction con, Luncon in 1956, and on hand with his camera at nearly every Swedish sf con since. He did not make a big mark in this very early fandom, but he was present, and his strong organisational skills were instrumental in making the Scandinavian Society for Science Fiction (SFSF) a success after its founding in 1960. Many of its early meetings were held in his apartment at Folkskolegatan 22.
Lars-Olov held a secure, well-paying job at a major Swedish insurance company, and served as treasurer, secretary, or chairman at nearly every con held in Stockholm, often paying the economic deficit of the cons out of his own pocket. He also used this to make frequent travels to international cons. He visited most Eastercons for nearly forty years, and was a regular at Worldcons as well.
When Swedish fandom started to expand in the 1970s, Lars-Olov was there was well. He was one of the founding members of Forodrim, the Stockholm Tolkien society, where he took the alias of Théoden. He organised the first lasting Swedish fan foundation, the Alvar Appeltofft Memorial Foundation. He was a member of nearly every science fiction club in Sweden. Perhaps most importantly, he was part of the board of SFSF when they acquired the book club of the Swedish publisher Askild & Kärnekull, instantly making the society’s membership several times larger. The publishing activity and postal order store was the foundation of the Stockholm Science Fiction bookstore, nowadays with presence in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö, and one of the largest science fiction bookstores in the world. It is unlikely that the Science Fiction bookstore could have grown beyond its humble beginnings without Lars-Olov.
I first met Lars-Olov sometime early 1999, when I first went to meet Swedish organised fandom. I think he served as the secretary of the book auction, and he was friendly and unassuming. He was never forward, and I never heard him raise his voice. He was so retiring that one could be excused to think he was not there. But he kept careful notes at every meeting, no matter how small, and he was always there, making Swedish fandom better by being friendly to everyone. A Swedish con or an SFSF meeting without Lars-Olov was something impossible.
From the press release by Joe Siclari
“Keeping You Abreast of the Past”
November 20, 2017
Here are some highlights of the last 6 months:
Fan History Spotlight: Nearly everyone has heard of the Cosmic Circle and Claude Degler’s notorious fannish exploits in the ‘40s. If you haven’t, check the article at Fancyclopedia.org. However, few people have ever read the original “writings” by him, or the reports that fans wrote about him. This last summer, we added a section with over 40 of his original pubs and the investigations by T. Bruce Yerke and Jack Speer. (See http://fanac.org/fanzines/Cosmic_Circle_Pubs/)
Access: We’re trying some new ways to keep you aware of what we have online. Providing a bit more quick information has been a priority. On our Fanzine Index pages, you can now find the number of issues that we have online for that title. The last column will tell whether it is New, Complete or Updated. Another item is our Newszine Directory started last year. It’s a chronological list of all the Newszines (2,338) we have so far on FANAC.org. If you want to know the S-F and fan news of any given period, you can navigate directly to that month. The first ones are from way back in 1938 and the last in 2011. Finally, at the end of this FANAC Update, we provide direct online links to everything mentioned.
FANAC Fan History Project website: We keep adding more Newszines as we acquire them. In the last month, thanks to Richard Lynch, we’ve added a run of Chat, the Tennessee newsletter edited by Nicki & Dick Lynch in the early 1990s. We have been continually uploading issues of Mike Glyer’s File 770. Mark Olson has scanned dozens of them.
Since our last Update, we have added about 250 other pubs with “news from the past”. These issues come from 19 different titles. We are doing a lot to fill-in the runs of different zines. Unfortunately there are some issues I just can’t find or don’t have. Here’s where I need your help. If you can provide missing issues (zines, scans, even photocopies), please let me know. In particular, right now, I’m looking for:
Jack Speer’s Stefnews #58 (1946)
Merv Binns’ Australian SF News #1, 2 (1978), 47 & 48 (c1989)
Taurasi’s Fantasy Times #3 (1941)
Laney: We’ve added multitudes of material. Francis Towner Laney’s notorious memoir, Ah! Sweet Idiocy!, is the most requested item and it’s now online, plus lots of material about FTL in FanHistorica.
FAPA: So is Dick Eney’s A Sense of FAPA, a huge sensational historical anthology of fannish writings (nearly 400 pages), with contributors such as James Blish, Redd Boggs, Charles Burbee, Joe Kennedy, F. Towner Laney, John Michel, P. Schuyler Miller, Milt Rothman, Bill Rotsler, Jack Speer, Harry Warner, Jr., Donald A. Wollheim, C. S. Youd (John Christopher) and many others from the Fantasy Amateur Press Association.
LASFS: The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society has given us permission to put their primary publications Shangri-LA and both runs of Shangri-L’Affaires online. So far, we have added 20 issues from the 40s and 50s, with many more to come.
Mirage: We’ve also been given permission to put Jack Chalker’s Hugo nominated fanzine, Mirage online. Mirage was one of the best sercon zines of its time.
FANAC Fan History YouTube Channel: We have over 50 videos/audios online at YouTube! In the last week or so, we put up a Harry Harrison talk (1971 Eastercon) on “Stonehenge and Sex”. It includes a roaringly funny discourse on the introduction of sex into science fiction stories in the 60s, with anecdotes about well-loved authors and editors including Brian Aldiss, Mack Reynolds, Ted Carnell and George O. Smith. He also talks about the filming of an editorial lunch with John Campbell, and just how much of the iconic fiction of the classic Astounding Magazine was intimately shaped by John.
We keep adding great recordings and subscribers get first notice. We’re over 180 subscribers and nearly 18,000 views, with 3 pieces having over 1000 views. It’s heartening that even for the less viewed videos, many get an intense response from their audience. As always, if you have audio or video material that we might use, please let us know.
FANCYCLOPEDIA 3: This is our encyclopedia (yours and ours), so we hope you are using it (and adding to it!). Going to a convention this year? Read about the “first conventions”. Want to know more about famous fans, infamous fans (see Degler above), convention facts, clubs in your area, or fanspeak (the jargon of our people)? It’s all there. But is your local club or convention listed? If not, contribute an article (or the beginnings of an article). It’s easy. Just follow the instructions on Fancyclopedia.org.
Outreach for Fan History: FANAC has a Fan History Project Table at conventions whenever we can. In February, we will be at Boskone 55 in Boston and we will be at Worldcon 76 in San Jose.
FANAC was at Balticon earlier this year. The Fan Lounge Discussions we helped organize were well attended and great fun. You can listen to the Steven Brust/Geri Sullivan discussion on the raucous history of Minneapolis fandom on our YouTube channel (link below). Most recently, we were at Philcon this month. In addition to showcasing our history project websites, we have been showing selected fannish artifacts, including fanzines, original art, convention publications, and video and audio recordings from as far back as the 1940s.
When you next see our table, come say hello and help us preserve and promote our fan history. Take a sticker for your badge and/or your contributor ribbon. Bookmark http://fanac.org and click on What’s New every week to find our most recent additions.
As we keep saying, this is a community effort and we can only say “Thanks” to those of you who have helped us make our Fan History websites successful over the years. We’re continually adding to our contributors list. We have 248 of you listed so far and adding more as we update our older files. If you DO want to let people know you are a contributor, ask for our “I Help Save Fan History” ribbon. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/fanacproject/
We’ve added more: Photos, fanzines, and convention publications, video and audio recordings, and Fancyclopedia entries. We provide information for fans, academic researchers, fan writers, and film documentaries. We’ve made some changes to the website to make it easier to use, with more to come.
Those who don’t know fan history may not be condemned to repeat it, but those that do know that Carl Brandon is not dead! Thanks for your interest our mutual fan history.
Brian Aldiss, who marked the start of his career with a nomination for the Best New Writer Hugo (1959), gained a place in the SF Hall of Fame (2004), and received honors from the Queen (2005), died in his sleep August 19, the day after his 92nd birthday.
Everything in life was a source of material for Aldiss. He served in the British army in WWII in Burma, experience that later backgrounded his “Horatio Stubbs” series of non-sf novels. After demobilization in 1947, he was hired as a bookshop assistant in Oxford, and wrote humorous fictional sketches about his work for The Bookseller, a trade magazine. That material, rounded into a novel, became his first book, The Brightfount Diaries (1955).
By then Aldiss had also started to write sf. The SF Encyclopedia lists his first published sf story as “Criminal Record” in Science Fantasy (July 1954), and other stories appeared in 1954-1955.
But it wasn’t until 1956 that he had his first encounter with fandom. Why did it take so long? He told Rob Hansen (THEN) in a letter:
In the war I received a badly mimeographed flier for a fan group. I must have written for it. It carried a photo of the group. My father seized it at the breakfast table, shouted ‘They’re all perverts!’ and flung the brochure on the fire. So I had no acquaintance with fandom until they got in touch with me in 1956, after I had won the Observer prize for a short story set in the year 2500 AD. My contact then was Helen Winnick, who worked in London in Hanging Sword Passage. We went down to the White Horse, where I met Sam Youd and John Brunner….
The 1957 Worldcon in London was his first convention. The prolific and popular author rapidly became an important figure in sf. He served as President of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) from 1960-1964, an office that was an honorary figurehead, and ceremonial in purpose. He gained international acclaim when the five novelettes of his “Hothouse” series collectively won the 1962 Best Short Fiction Hugo.
His “Hothouse” series would be novelized as The Long Afternoon of Earth (1962), and together with his first sf novel, Non-Stop (1958), and Greybeard (1964), ranks among his best sf.
Also highly regarded is the Helliconia trilogy: Helliconia Spring (1982), Summer (1983) and Winter (1985). Helliconia Spring won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. Spring and Winter also received Nebula nominations. All three books won the British SF Association’s Best Novel award.
Aldiss wrote a great deal of important nonfiction about sf, too, such as the memorable Billion Year Spree (1973), which, when revised as the Trillion Year Spree (1986) in collaboration with David Wingrove, won the Best Nonfiction Book Hugo.
He received many career awards. He was named a SFWA Grand Master (2000), was a Living Inductee to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame (2004), recognized with the Science Fiction Research Association’s Pilgrim Award (1978), and with the Prix Utopia (1999) for life achievement from the French Utopiales International Festival. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Literary Society in 1989.
In 2005 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. He joked with Ansible’s editor:
I was greatly chuffed by the award “for services to Literature” — a euphemism in this case for SF…. But when chatting to Her Majesty, I was disappointed to find she had only got as far as John Wyndham and the triffids. “What do you like about it?” I asked. She replied, “Oh, it’s such a cosy catastrophe.” I blushed.
While many prolific authors with long careers have been frustrated to see their work go out of print, Aldiss was rescued from that fate by former HarperCollins imprint, The Friday Project, which published more than 50 of Aldiss’ backlist works in 2013.
Aldiss was twice guest of honor at British Worldcons (Loncon II, 1965; Seacon, 1979) and toastmaster at a third (Conspiracy, 1987). He reciprocated fandom’s affection for his writing and himself, as Jonathan Cowie (Concatenation) explains:
SF and SF fandom ranked highly in Brian’s life: he liked to say that fandom was the unusual kingdom in which the serfs threw feasts for the kings rather than the other way around. However family came first which came as a surprise to the 2001 Eurocon organisers that originally had us both down as guests (mine was lowly fan GoH) but I e-mailed him to enquire whether we might travel together: safety in numbers and all that when travelling overseas. But Brian had to decline as his family was throwing him a special get-together at that time. Rest assured, though family came first, SF fandom as a priority came not long after. At a US gathering he showed an invitation he had from Buckingham Palace for a reception wit the Queen but that clashed with the US convention: the SF convention easily took priority, no contest.
And at the Loncon 3 (2014) closing ceremonies, which fell on his birthday, August 18, he was serenaded with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” by the entire audience. For many who journeyed to the con it was also a kind of farewell.
Aldiss’ first marriage was to Olive Fortescue (1948-1965, ending in divorce), and his second was to Margaret Manson, who predeceased him in 1997. He is survived by his partner, Alison Soskice, and four children: Clive and Wendy from his first marriage, and Timothy and Charlotte from his second.
This appreciation has focused more on Aldiss’ connection with fandom. Here are links to several insightful appreciations about his writing and literary impact.
- The Guardian – Christopher Priest’s thorough and informative “Brian Aldiss obituary”
- Science Fiction Encyclopedia news item — “Brian Aldiss (1925-2017)”
- Science Fiction Encyclopedia entry – “Aldiss, Brian W.”
- The Curtis Brown firm represented Aldiss for three decades: “Announcement of the death of Brian Aldiss”
- The Bookseller – “Brian Adliss dies aged 92”
[Thanks to Stuart Gale, Michael J. Walsh, Michael Brian Bentley, Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Steve Davidson, and John King Tarpinian for the story.]
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 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’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.
By John Hertz: Many of us have lots of them. Here are three of mine.
In April 2017 will be Lunacon LIX, the New York convention hosted by local club the Lunarians. For years I was such a regular attender that some folks thought I lived in New York. I’ve moderated Lunacon panels, I’ve taught Regency dancing, I’ve judged the Masquerade, I’ve been Fan Guest of Honor, I’ve listened to people sing “Demons in your bed will eat you up. Do not call your mother; who do you think let the demons in?”
One year as I went looking for a seat in the Masquerade audience I found Dave Kyle ushering. I was impressed by this modern Cincinnatus. The original, in the days of the Roman Republic two and a half millennia ago, was plowing his farm when a group of Senators rushed to see him. The army was trapped and in great danger. Cincinnatus had been named Dictator, a rare position bringing supreme power. He called up more men, defeated the enemy, and went back to his plow. Cincinnati, Ohio, was named for him. Dave had chaired the World Science Fiction Convention and here he was plowing away like anybody else.
His Worldcon was the 14th, New York, the Biltmore Hotel. In those days we had a Banquet and gave the Hugo Awards there. Dave was at the head table. He later recounted, in Mimosa — for which he wrote two dozen articles —
As was customary, those who didn’t pay to eat could come into the room to hear the speeches at the proper time…. One of the gofers [please don’t write “gophers”, throwing away the joke of having to gofer this and gofer that – JH] told me the Fire Marshal was complaining that the stairs to the balcony were blocked by those non-eaters sitting there, waiting to take positions for the after-dinner ceremonies. “What do we do?” “Tell them,” I said, “that they can’t sit there.”
This became the catch-phrase “Dave Kyle says you can’t sit here”, a kind of Banquet’s Ghost he was never allowed to live down. But he laughed too.
That night at Lunacon, Dave told me “Actually you can sit wherever you like.”
– o O o –
A while before Torcon III, the 61st Worldcon, Dave phoned asking if I was going to attend. Yes, I said; I had written up Mike Glyer, the Fan Guest of Honour (note spelling), for the Program Book, and was to build an exhibit about him in the Exhibit Hall. Dave asked, are you going to wear that propeller beanie? Yes, I said, I always do at cons. Dave asked if I’d help him with a presentation on Hugo Night.
He was going to bring the propeller beanie that had been placed on the head of Bob Bloch at Torcon II. Bloch had been Pro Guest of Honour there and at Torcon I. Meanwhile he had inconsiderately died so Torcon III could only make him Ghost of Honour.
Dave was going to be the Propeller Beanie of the Past and wanted me to be the Propeller Beanie of the Future. I tried to say I felt unworthy but he was having none of that. Then I thought of something else. I always wear white tie on Hugo Night, I said. The propeller beanie doesn’t really go with that costume. It would be like running with the ball while playing soccer. Well, he said, see if you can find a way. Okay, Dave; for you, anything.
I thought maybe the propeller beanie would fit under my top hat, so I could by raising the hat do what some costumers call a “reveal”. That didn’t work. Finally I found I could get the beanie into my inside breast pocket.
At the con we managed to rehearse. I was to stand back while Dave gave introductory remarks. Then I should step forward, don the beanie, and retire again while Dave had a few more things to say. Simple enough.
Came the event. Dave took the lectern. He spoke. I joined him. I took off the top hat, drew out the beanie, and put it on. The crowd went wild. A photo of this was put in Locus. I guess a man in formal clothes and a propeller beanie was a One of Us moment. Anyhow I smiled, bowed, and stepped back so Dave could go on.
He began speaking about the Big Heart, highest service award in the SF community. He went on to describe the year’s recipient. Slowly the light dawned. He was talking about me.
The whole story, telephone, Past, Future, rehearsal, and all, had been a ruse to make sure I should be there.
Dave gave me a plaque and a rosette.
I had been snookered.
– o O o –
The North America Science Fiction Convention is held when the Worldcon is overseas. In 2005 the Worldcon was at Glasgow and the NASFiC was at Seattle. Monday morning in the hotel lobby after the NASFiC Dave said “Let’s go to the Science Fiction Museum.”
The Museum had just opened in 2004. It had been designed by Tim Kirk, whom its founder Paul Allen had hired because he liked Kirk Designs’ proposal, not knowing he got a man who had won five Hugos as Best Fanartist before turning pro. Kirk’s task was no small challenge, not least because so much of SF was, as Hamlet said “words, words, words”; if the Museum were dominated by visual-media SF that would be a serious under-representation. Kirk had done wonderfully.
Who could be a better partner in wonder for an expedition there than Dave Kyle?
We went up to the Kyles’ hotel room. Ruth fed us breakfast. She was as always solicitous and helpful, but would the two boys ever be seen again? Also I had a plane to catch. We decided the safest plan was to get a taxi and pay the driver to come back at a set time. In the Museum we then took turns pulling each other away from things.
The ground floor had the SF Hall of Fame, relocated from the University of Kansas. Just added, along with Philip K. Dick, were Chesley Bonestell, Ray Harryhausen, and Steven Spielberg, the first SF artists other than writers to be inducted.
Also on the ground floor was a timeline, with Hugo Gernsback, Carol Hughes and Buster Crabbe as Dale Arden and Flash Gordon conquering the Universe, The Pocket Book of SF our first paperback collection of short stories, John Campbell, Orson Welles broadcasting The War of the Worlds, Heinlein with Rocket Ship Galileo Paul Allen’s first SF book, and Nineteen Eighty-four, just to mention a few points from 1925-1955.
Downstairs, three galleries with themes Brave New Worlds, Fantastic Voyages, and Them! In Voyages was a Space Dock, with orbiting ships visitors could select for miniature documentaries. Them! held an Interplanetary Lounge, variously imagined aliens, robots metal or mortal, and a Cargo Bay art gallery including Kelly Freas and Richard Powers.
I mustn’t leave out Harlan Ellison’s typewriter or the books Dave had published.
One “ship” floating past was a city, New York, New York (“What city has two names twice?”), from James Blish’s Cities in Flight; the crew that Kirk assembled, many of whom were veterans of Industrial Light & Magic, used Blish’s text, the best book covers they could find, and extrapolated views of Manhattan. The first of these four novels came to be known as They Shall Have Stars; it was originally Year 2018! in which we now almost are, and Dave did not quite live to see.
Andrew Porter shared these photos of Dave Kyle taken at various Worldcons over the decades. All but the first were taken by Porter himself.
Andrew Porter wrote about Dave Kyle’s passing:
Yesterday, I saw Dave at Bill and Mary Burns’s End-of-Summer party in Hempstead, Long Island, NY, where he was very frail, but his mind remained sharp and clear. I’m happy to say that many of his fan friends, some of whom he’s known for many decades, were there to greet him and have long talks with him.
Dave was one of science fiction fandom’s very few remaining links (with perhaps only Robert A. Madle and Erle M. Korshak) to pre-World War II fandom, and to the very first World SF Convention. His passing diminishes the field, and pulls the curtain a little tighter between those living today, and the world and fandom as it was.
David A. Kyle, who chaired the 1956 Worldcon (NyCon II) and was fan Guest of Honor at the 1983 Worldcon (ConStellation), died September 18 at 4:30 p.m. EDT “of complication from an endoscopy” reports his daughter Kerry.
Just yesterday Kyle had been shown on Facebook enjoying New York fandom’s “End of Summer” party.
Kerry Kyle wrote:
I know he was 97 and frail, but his spirit was strong, his heart was huge, and I’m still in shock. I’m still surprised. I expected him to last a few more years. I expected to be making him dinner tonight. And I’m bereft. And at the moment I don’t really want to type much.
I know many in the Fannish community loved Dad as well and are equally as bereft reading this. I hope it …makes you feel better to know that, as always, Dad chatted about science fiction with the EMT who brought him to the hospital and with the nurses who made him comfortable. He chatted about the love of his life–science fiction–genuinely interested in hearing what they read and watched. Always spreading the word and wishing to instill within them the flame he had within himself. And, yes, he made constant jokes and terrible puns that charmed everyone in the hospital….
Dave’s wife, Ruth, predeceased him in 2011. They met at a convention in 1955. The next year she served as Secretary of the Worldcon in New York, which Dave chaired, and the year after that they married, trufannishly honeymooning at the 1957 Worldcon in England, traveling there with 53 friends and in-laws on a specially chartered flight.
Dave and Ruth had two children, Arthur and Kerry.
Kyle was one of the most active fans from sf fandom’s earliest days. He attended the 1936 meeting of New York and Philly fans which decided to dub itself the first science fiction convention in advance of the Leeds event announced for 1937. He wrote the “Yellow Pamphlet” that helped inspire the “The Great Exclusion Act of 1939” but, unlike his fellow Futurians, was not kicked out of the First Worldcon. In later years he was made a Knight of The Order of Saint Fantony, won the Big Heart Award, and in 1988 received the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award.
Kyle also had a notable professional sf career. Dave Kyle and Martin Greenberg made history by co-founding Gnome Press in 1948. Together they published dozens of volumes of classic sf in hardcover for the first time. Gnome Press went under in 1962.
Kyle’s 1956 NyCon II is particularly remembered for producing the year’s Hugo Awards by affixing Oldsmobile rockets to a decorative wooden backing. The L-shaped base displayed the rocket standing upright while concealing its hollow underside.
A list of Kyle’s autobiographical fanhistory articles for Mimosa can be found here.
By John Hertz: [Reprinted by permission from Scientifiction, the First Fandom newsletter.]
This year’s Worldcon was Sasquan (sasquatch + convention), the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, August 19-23, 2015, Spokane, Washington. President Coker telephoned inquiring if I would attend. Yes, I said, how can I help you? He asked me to accept on behalf of Julian May her election to the First Fandom Hall of Fame. She herself although living in the area could not attend. Certainly, I said; it will be an honor. It was and I did.
On Hugo Night after the photos and Go in peace I stayed in white tie for the round of parties and, as is customary, carried the plaque. Some folks didn’t know what First Fandom was, or the emblem, or Papa Gernsback’s word Scientifiction. I explained.
She has always spelled her name Julian, and although after marrying T.E. Dikty (1920-1991, elected posthumously in 2013) she sometimes declared copyright as Julian May Dikty, she continued to write under the name Julian May — among others, including, I’m told, Wolfgang Amadeus Futslogg, by which I dare not address her.
Her fanzine was Interim Newsletter, rendering her to some extent a surrogate for all of us. Her story “Dune Roller” was in the December 1951 issue of Campbell’s Astounding, with four interiors by herself (it was made into a 1972 film, credited to her as Judy Dikty). Eight months later she chaired Chicon II, at the age of twenty-one.
As it happened my hotel roommate at Sasquan was Tom Veal, chair of Chicon VI, her successor. Chicon II tried to call itself “TASFiC” (Tenth Annual Science Fiction Convention), and Chicon VI tried to call itself “Chicon 2000”, but that trick never works. Being a lawyer I could call Veal her mediate successor, but I won’t.
She had a career of writing short plain things that fed interest. Thousands of science encyclopedia articles for three publishers. Hundreds of books, many suitable for children and many illustrated with photos or drawings, about sports, science, celebrities including Quanah and Sitting Bull, and apartheid in South Africa.
The Triple Crown (1976) tells the stories, plenty dramatic, of all the winners through Secretariat, and you know who owned Count Fleet, don’t you? Rockets (1967) ends “Someday it might be possible for almost anyone to leave the earth and visit another planet.” She (as Ian Thorne) did book treatments of e.g. It Came From Outer Space, the 1953 movie from a Ray Bradbury story, the 1982 book with nine photos including the cover credited to Forrest J Ackerman which I find people are still reading today.
By 1985 Dikty needed 66 pages for The Work of Julian May.
I saw her in the Masquerade at Westercon XXIX (1976), coruscating with gems, not in competition as I recall. Only later I learned she made it and put it on to help her understand who would wear such clothing. She was thinking of writing about them. Beethoven once wrote out a Mozart string quartet by hand to help him grasp what Mozart was doing.
Lucas’ Star Wars is in fact set in the past, long ago in a galaxy far away. May wrote science fiction set in the past, not one million years B.C. but six times further back, four novels starting with The Many-Colored Land (1981) which are only the beginning of a series of eight about a Galactic Milieu through Magnificat (1996) — and there is a Diamond Mask (1994), or half-mask. John Clute says the narrative is increasingly charged with metaphysical intonations, linked to a sustaining concern with the attractive theme of psychic evolution, but I don’t write like that.
I used to wonder what the trillium was until it occurred to me Black Trillium (1990) had three co-authors, May and Marion Zimmer Bradley (who likewise never spelled her name Marian) and Andre Norton (who never spelled her name Alice). May wrote two more, Bradley and Norton one each.
That could bring us to the Rampart Worlds, and the Boreal Moon (most recently Sorcerer’s Moon, 2006). But this, from the 1F point of view anyhow, is recent history.
I’m a hopeful man, and I hope for more. I know very few authors with whom it’s not wholly out of bounds to ask How’s your new book coming? If they feel like it they’ll tell. I’d not mind even a revision to include American Pharoah (another typo that stuck).
Just about none of this came out of my mouth when I accepted the award. I had written to ask her if there was anything she wished me to say. She answered “A simple ‘Thank you’ to the members of First Fandom will suffice.” So I said Thank you. She also told me she’d mount her plaque next to Dikty’s. People die. Art lives.
In a letter to First Fandom, Julian May recalled the 1952 Worldcon:
Local fans and pros who elected me to the con chairman job right after my “Dune Roller” novelette was published in Astounding got a signal surprise when I ran the con expertly.
The Tenth Convention was not only the best attended, it also included the big New York publishers of SF and fantasy taking booths for the first time, attracted most of the important professional authors and editors, had Hugo Gernsback as Guest of Honor, and sweet old Doc Smith as Moon Commissioner.