Karen Anderson (1932-2018)

Karen Anderson in 1965.

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.)

Warrior Women. 1955 Worldcon. Karen is on the right. Photo by George Young.

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.”

Astrid and Karen Anderson as “The Bat and The Bitten,” 1969 Worldcon. Photo by Mike Resnick, used by permission.

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.

Lars-Olov Strandberg (1929-2018)

Lars-Olov Strandberg. Photo by Magnus Westerlund.

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.

Reminiscence for File 770’s 40th: Living the News of 1978

By Chip Hitchcock: At some ages any year may seem momentous, but 1978 still stands out in memory. I was a couple of years out of college, but still singing in Harvard’s summer chorus and signing books out to borrowers at the MITSFS (owner of the world’s largest open library of SFF); I was working as a ~chemistry researcher, with no idea that in another couple of years I’d be massively more entangled in fandom and working for two other fans at a computer company.

For a start, Boskone (then and now my local convention) grew from 1000 people to over 1400 after a couple of years of near-stability. Star Wars, which had played downtown for several months the previous year, is the obvious explanation for this, and maybe the growth past 1900 in 1979, but how they found us is anyone’s guess; as far as I remember, Boskones then didn’t do much advertising because there was no obvious place for it. Later this led to strains on the committee, and finally to the Boskone from Hell, but at the time growth seemed like an unalloyed good; in 1979 it meant we could take all of New England’s largest hotel, instead of just working the fringes around the biggest ballrooms.

The immediate effect for me was that the RISFA Players had to do three performances in a row of the latest Anderson-Keller musical, Rivets Redux, in order to seat everyone who wanted to see it. I was playing Charles Dexter Ward (one of several obsolete characters in search of new employment), but also served as producer, something resembling music director, and technical director; this last required coming up with a representation of the appearance of the mother ship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (the previous year’s other SF blockbuster), with a jury rig that we were lucky survived all the performances. (Since this was the RISFA Players, who had first been seen in “Buckets of Gor, or Abbott and Costello Meet the Priest-Kings”, the ship appeared not to the infamous five-note motif but to “Dueling Tubas”.) In addition to the usual problems of an amateur production split between two cities (the creators and most of the cast were in Providence), we dealt with two record-setting snowstorms in the previous few weeks; the second of these shut down the city for a week, right when the entire convention was busiest getting ready. When we finally moved into the hotel we found that all the other scheduled meetings had canceled, which at least gave us a space for some desperately-needed on-site rehearsal.

Then there was the Boston in 1980 Worldcon bid. I had joined MCFI (the sponsoring organization) just a few months before, and immediately “volunteered” (i.e., I was the only person not to step back quickly enough) to find and liaise with a printer so that we’d have someone ready to do the first progress report if we won. (I just discovered that the scan of File:770 #7 is online, listing me as an “officer” of Noreascon Two due to this job.) This later led to my producing several books for NESFA Press, and editing at least one of them. I’d seen a few Worldcon bids go by but hadn’t voted before 1977; MCFI was for the time a stable group (about as many couples as singles, many in solid jobs in computers and I think averaging a little older than typical) chaired by Leslie Turek (later FGoH at Sasquan). Fandom was getting less gender-imbalanced—after the New Orleans in 1976 Worldcon bid had been torpedoed by its CVB rep (“a great place for you to hold your convention, and a great city for your wives to go shopping in!”) I estimated from published lists that the membership that heard this line at the 1974 Worldcon was about a quarter female—but it had been some time since a woman had been sole chair.

Somewhere in this timeline, Iguanacon (the upcoming Worldcon) asked MCFI and its Baltimore opposition to each take on an area of the convention; we were given the costume contest and promptly dubbed ourselves the Boston Massaquerade. I was not going to be involved with the organizing, but it was assumed (based on the aforementioned musicals, which were an outgrowth of backstage work at high-school and college theaters) that I would be tech director—Masquerades being rather less rigorous 40 years ago. (These days the TDs usually have considerable current experience.) This was the first time that a Masquerade had been held in a real theater rather than a hotel hall, and the Phoenix “Symphony Hall” came with more lights already hung than we knew what to do with—and people to focus and run them, apparently already in the budget. So the Masquerade was displayed well despite my inexperience.

Iguanacon II Program Book cover by William R. Warren.

Iguanacon itself had made news for changing its chair a few months out, for reasons discussed extensively at the time, and for GoH Harlan Ellison’s steps to prevent any money being spent on his behalf in a state that had refused to ratify the ERA; despite the noise, and weather that was hot even for Phoenix over Labor Day, it had significantly more attendees than any previous Worldcon, after a few years’ pause in the steady increase that attendance had seen since the 1960’s. The abovementioned scan has discussions of some of the other uproars, but doesn’t mention the report I heard that the Art Show had to be torn down and reconstructed to allow passage from fire doors on an inner exhibit hall through the show to the doors on its outside wall. However, Iguanacon also had some innovations that are still well-remembered:

  • They persuaded the Hyatt coffee shop to stay open 24/7. An impeachable source told me this made the Hyatt so much money that other Worldcon Hyatts a few years later reportedly refused to believe the figures—which was a pity given the shortage of food around them. These days fandom might or might not average old enough that all-night food wouldn’t be useful.
  • They picked a hotel with a serious mingling space. The Google view tells me the atrium couldn’t have been much over a hundred feet each way, but crossing it always took at least 10 minutes because you kept running into people you could stop and talk to; in a typical lobby or corridor that would get you snarled at, or pushed. Many Worldcons since have aimed for such a feature.

I answered a few questions from a local TV station that was interviewing people in the atrium. I didn’t see the result, but I was told later that the news item had led off with my comment about blaming my parents because they gave me Tom Swift instead of the Hardy Boys at age 8. That’ll teach me to be smart to mundanes….

MCFI threw parties (on a much smaller budget than nowadays, although large enough that we used the rooms’ swivel chairs as impromptu dollies for ice) and hung hundreds of feet of computer-printed banners (one of the few reasons to miss old-fashioned line-printers and their fan-fold output) on the stacks of railing around the abovementioned atrium. At one of the parties I met the only other ancestral Hitchcock I’ve run into in fandom. (It’s an old name, but not common.) We were pronounced the winner after a notoriously humorless business-meeting chair first announced that a hoax bid (of which there were several) had won. The next day, somebody at our advance-sales table started a conversation with Spider and Jeanne Robinson, who had just won a Hugo for “Stardance”; the result was a performance, called “Higher Ground”, which showed some gravity-bound idea of what stardance might be like.

This was in the early days of airline deregulation, when the cheapest fares required staying for a week, so a lot of us hung around in the hotel lobby until it was late enough Tuesday night to go to the airport for a flight one minute into Wednesday. It turned out groups of us were taking two different airlines’ flights through O’Hare, so we blearily wandered into each other around dawn on Thursday while waiting for our connections.

And a ridiculously long chain of inattentions and coincidences had led to my singing in a chorus behind the the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood (their summer home) just days before leaving for Phoenix; I ended up chorusing a handful of concerts with the BSO over the next several years. So when I got home from Iguanacon I was full of beans but had no idea how busy my life was about to get.

An Earlier Clarke Birthday Celebration

By Bill Higgins: As the world celebrates the 100th anniversary of Arthur C. Clarke’s birth, allow me to share a photocopy I recently rediscovered.

In 1977 my college SF club, the Michigan State University Science Fiction Society, noted that Clarke’s 60th birthday was approaching. Jim Ransom volunteered to write a letter of greeting and mail it to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

To our delight, Clarke sent a postcard in reply, dated on his birthday, December 16, 1977. He wrote:

==================

Thanks for nice greeting!

Herewith earth end of my next (&last) novel THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE.

All good wishes

Arthur C Clarke

==================

The postcard pictured Sigiriya Rock, a historic fortress where King Kasyapa built his palace in the 5th Century AD.

I kept a photocopy; I wonder if Jim Ransom kept the postcard, which turns 40 this year.

As for the plug for his upcoming book, Clarke did in 1979 publish The Fountains of Paradise and it does indeed feature a fictionalized version of King Kasyapa and Sigiriya Rock, as well as a space elevator.

Science fiction writers are notoriously inaccurate at prophecy, however; Clarke may have foreseen the Space Age and the Information Age, but he was wrong about The Fountains of Paradise being his final novel. He went on to publish eighteen more novels before passing away in 2008.

FANAC Fan History Project Update 4

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.

Regards…Joe Siclari

How Robby the Robot Was Salvaged

By Alan White: Pretty cool about Robby the Robot going for millions.

I wrote about this in Delineator so long ago, and just wanted to add a bit to the story FYI.

The Uncle Simon head.

Following the MGM auction in 1970, I was working for Ed “Big Daddy” Roth at “Movieworld” in Buena Park.

After the dust had settled on the auction, the owners bought scavenging rights for the MGM lot.

I think they paid $10,000 for anything they could haul out of there. This was only a few weeks prior to the whole place being bulldozed for condos and stuff.

The owner, Jimmy Brucker, Ed Roth and I found tons of stuff abandoned in boxcars on the lot.

I don’t recall how they got their hands on Robby, but I could see across the lot on the other side of some tall underbrush, all the wall panels from inside the United Planets Cruiser C57D, plus the large ray guns placements they used when fighting the ID monster.

I set out through all this shoulder high plants, and half-way across, stumbled into Robby’s hot rod hidden amongst all this vegetation.  It was a wreck as you can see in the pic. Yes, I’ll have to rescan these pics one of these days.

The wall panels and control desk without the big space globe could never be rebuilt. Everything had been left to the elements since, I suppose, 1956.

Thanks to ‘The Kustom Car King” Ed Roth, Robby and the car were rebuilt and put on display at Movieworld.

I printed this card  – an insert into my fanzine which I took to a WesterCon in ummm, 1971 or maybe 72.

The car came inches from winding up under a construction site.

So there you see only 3 degrees of separation between Rat Fink and the ID Monster!

Lifetime Positive

First meeting at the original LASFS clubhouse (1973). Jack Harness stands at left, Harlan Ellison in the doorway. Elst Weinstein is seated. Photo by Stan Burns.

[First published in 2002.]

By Mike Glyer: Early in Ian Fleming’s novel Moonraker James Bond is driving at night and spots an ominous neon sign flashing the message HELL IS HERE over and over. He rounds a hillock and once the sign is in full view sees it’s only an advertisement that SUMMER SHELL IS HERE. But I’m sure the Friday night card players would have loved adorning the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society clubhouse with the neon sign James Bond thought he saw in the days when we were obsessed by a game called “Hell’s Bridge.”

Two regulars at the game were Jack Harness and Bruce Pelz, legendary fans who both passed away within the last year, Jack on July 13, 2001 and Bruce on May 9, 2002. Mourning the loss of two of the best-known fans of their generation is appropriate, yet so is joyfully remembering their great humor and colorful personalities. I spent many hours together with them in LASFS activities, often at the card tables. The best moments sounded like this:

FRANK GASPERIK: I bid five.
MIKE FRANK: A man with a long suit.
JACK HARNESS: With a trap in the back.
BRUCE PELZ: I know what kind of opening to give you.
JACK HARNESS: But…but…but…
BRUCE PELZ: You assed for it.
MIKE GLYER: (scribbling furiously) Pun slower!

Hell’s Bridge, never actually called by anything but its first name, preoccupied about a dozen players every Friday evening. The game bears a faint resemblance to bridge in that there is a trick-taking and a trump suit (determined by a cut of the cards.) But every player makes a contract for the number of tricks he expects to take, and the total tricks bid may not equal the number of tricks available (it can be under or over.) Since the onus of that rule generally falls on the last person to bid, the dealer, people constantly refer to the “DDA” – dealer’s disadvantage.

Hell is a comparatively inexpensive game to lose: a bad night would set me back the equivalent of a burger and Coke. Yet playing Hell still inflicted all the intensity and madness of more prestigious games like poker. (At least, I never envisioned Bret Maverick saying, “My daddy always told me ‘Never gamble, stick to Hell’s Bridge.’”)

The legendary LASFS poker games went away in the mid-70s when the hosts of the old Thursday night gatherings gave up in exhaustion and the games weren’t allowed to move into the new clubhouse. Members believed even penny-ante gambling would surely lead to a police raid, whereas poker without betting is even duller than a bar without booze. On the other hand members did allow Hell to be played there because it was tracked with a scoresheet, not played with chips or cash, and not hostage to the potential nightmare of the club’s five-and-dime riverboat gamblers wallowing in their loose change when the LAPD kicked the door and charged in with the vice squad.

As Hell grew in popularity those of us who had an early start in the game profited greatly from the neos who came along and received an expensive education. But time was not on our side. In the good old days, Jack Harness finished cleaning out one table full of players (while the LASFS Board of Directors met in the front room), threw open the door, hollered, “Fresh fish!” and they came running to fill up the next game. All too soon, all the new players became competitive. It got very rugged for all but the best. Even Bruce Pelz and Jack Harness had runs of ill luck that were mercilessly exploited. That produced some mythic bursts of temper. Long has the story been told of the night Pelz, hosting a game at his apartment and doing badly, ripped the leg off his card table and chased the players into the night. Doubt it if you like. I can only testify that I never saw him rip a leg off a card table…

Other legends of the game included Marty Massoglia. He gained fame as “Captain Suicide” during a phase when he started jumping to conclusions about whether he would make his bid on a hand, and when it looked bad to him, he abandoned all pretense of making his bid in order to prevent others from making theirs. Conversely, Mike Shupp’s brief career at the Hell table earned him the nickname of “Robin Hood,” because he would junk his chances to make his own hand in order to sabotage a player he felt had bid too ambitiously.

JACK HARNESS: I don’t want to sit on the right hand of Captain Suicide.
BRUCE PELZ: Then sit on his other hand and we’ll both be out of trouble.

Those of us who frequented LASFS card games in the early 70’s saw that Bruce tracked his wins and losses in a pocket diary. While his memory was famous — thus his nickname, the Elephant – he was also a prolific list-maker and recordkeeper. With the advent of personal computers Bruce was soon keeping track of everyone’s wins and losses. Once accounts were settled for the night, Bruce would take the scoresheets home and enter the data. He assigned everyone a “handle” — real names were not used on the printouts. Years passed and we still expected the place to be raided by the vice squad at any moment.

The players with the cumulative best records were dubbed “The Hell-5 Society.” The top five scorers of the year got first crack at playing in the game held at the Nivens’ New Year’s Eve Party.

Players who were cumulatively in the black were referred to as “lifetime positive.” I think I was about $20 to the good when I stopped playing regularly after 15 years, so what was that, an average winning of slightly more than a buck a year? But as more newcomers came along and joined the minus column, a mystique grew up around anyone who had managed not to give all his money to Pelz and the other sharks.

If (in the parlance of comic collectors) Hell’s Bridge represented the Silver Age of LASFS cardplaying, its Golden Age had been the weekly poker sessions at the Nivens’ house in Brentwood. There was an endless parade of great fannish names through the game (I would like to have played poker against Dick Geis). Those poker games were, in fact, the reason I joined LASFS. Joe Minne lived upstairs in our dorm at USC and said he often went to club meetings and then went over to Larry Niven’s house to play poker.

The first time Joe took a couple of us with him, he turned his ancient Ford T-Bird off Sunset onto a dark side street whose mist-shrouded lamps must have inspired “Of A Foggy Night.” When we got into the house Larry Niven said hello and asked Minne, “Can you vouch for these two?” Insuring the integrity of the poker game was probably the least reason Niven asked for assurance: what mattered was the art collection. His home was like a year-round Worldcon art show, walls covered with huge framed Tim Kirk drawings and Wendy Pini original pastel paintings. The burglar alarm system would be no protection against light-fingered fans pretending to be poker players.

I kept going back and the welcome became warmer. After all, I had the one utterly endearing trait of losing quietly, though I could only afford to lose about $3 and then I was done for the evening. Once I accidentally left with a poker chip in my pocket and endured the embarrassment of calling Larry to confess because I needed to be able to get my dollar back next week. Joe Minne, on the other hand, answered each setback by opening his checkbook and saying, “Ahhhh!” I played at the cheap table, hosted by Fuzzy Pink Niven, and there was also a “blood” table where Larry presided over sharks like Jerry Pournelle, whose skill kept him from ever having to fill out the worn personal check he tossed in when he drew his poker chips to start the night.

A certain machismo compelled a few to play at the “blood” game who weren’t equal to it and they made losing their rent a routine, prompting Larry to conclude that “Some people win by winning, and some people win by losing.” There was a high level of pseudo-psychiatric analysis: if you screwed up at poker, your whole lifestyle was bound to be called into question. And for someone losing $200 within a few weeks, this was not unreasonable.

The Nivens set a generous sideboard for these games, which some visitors managed to abuse by melting cheese all over the toaster oven or helping themselves uninvited to the good brandy. The Nivens resorted to posting a dittoed “Rules of the House” which I regret not having kept. At last they moved out of Brentwood and the club relocated to the San Fernando Valley. The era of poker games breaking up at dawn came to an end – and descended into Hell.

Brian Aldiss (1925-2017)

Brian Aldiss

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.

Brian Aldiss being serenaded with “Happy Birthday” at LonCon 3 in 2014.

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.

[Thanks to Stuart Gale, Michael J. Walsh, Michael Brian Bentley, Jonathan Cowie, Andrew Porter, Steve Davidson, and John King Tarpinian for the story.]

How To Add Identifications to Jay Kay Klein’s Digitized Photos

Two Eaton archivists studying a Klein shipment.

Since last week, when the California Digital Library and the UC Riverside Library made available online nearly 6,000 photos taken by Jay Kay Klein at eight Worldcons in the Sixties, fans have voiced concerns that the names of the people in most of these pictures are not been included, and that many of the existing identifications are wrong.

J.J. Jacobson, the UC Riverside Library’s Jay Kay and Doris Klein Librarian for Science Fiction, has now announced a way for everyone  to give their input.

Here’s how to tell us what you want us to know about the Jay Kay Klein Photographs now up on Calisphere

  1. Go to the Klein Papers on Calisphere: https://calisphere.org/collections/26943/
  2. Find a photo about which you have information
  3. Create a post here [on the Eaton Collection’s Facebook page] with that photo’s URL — (Example: https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/86086/n23j3b9q/)
  4. Tell us what you know about the image: what, who, where, when
  5. Discuss

[Note: Jacobson is a different person than File 770’s JJ.]

In Memoriam – Waldemar Kumming, 31 July 1924 – 5 April 2017

By Wolf von Witting: It feels surreal writing “I only knew him for forty years,” but in fact Waldemar began publishing Munich Round Up [MRU] before I was born. He was among the pioneers of German fandom. MRU, the fanzine of the Munich SFCD-group, was launched as a newsletter in November 1958, but rose to prominence when the dynamic duo of engineers Waldemar Kumming and Walter “Fux” Reinecke took charge of its publication. By the time we first met in 1977, I was 17 and Waldemar 53 and the dynamic duo had already come out with MRU #143. Its appearances grew sparse after the death of Walter Reinicke in 1981.

On June 2, 1962 Waldemar became the second chair of the SFCD, which had experienced a turbulent infancy under Walter Ernsting. With Waldemar at the helm for six years, the SFCD had a somewhat peaceful period.

It hardly seems fair that our history books don’t teach us more about the good men who walked among us. Waldemar was such a good man. Humble. Generous. He was a good listener. Not much of an attention hog. Science fiction fandom was his hobby and he was literally a fan who had an impact on thousands, in Gerfany and abroad. He was not one who sorted his fannish activity among the follies of youth and then got away from it all for a couple of years, only to return to fandom by the time retirement approached. Waldemar was an active fan before I was born and he kept at it, into the new millennium.

In 40 years I saw him disgruntled only once. It was in Berlin, at BärCon 1985, as we had come to a restaurant over-challenged with the arrival of a dozen sf-fans. Most of us had to wait for our food an hour and a half. Waldemar was served half an hour later. One rarely heard him participating in the fierce verbal battles of the SFCD other than when he suddenly yelled; “Stop!” And everyone fell silent. Waldemar turned the tape in the recorder and signaled the heated combatants to resume their ruckus.

Denis Scheck, left, interviews Marion Zimmer Bradley, center, at STUCON 1980, while Waldemar Kumming captures it all on his tape recorder, right.

He was bestowed with the Kurd Lasswitz Award for Munich Round Up in 1993 and received the Big Heart Award at the WorldCon in Glasgow 2005.

Near the end of his life, he was unable to visit sf-conventions. It should not have been a surprise to hear that Waldemar is no more. Yet the news hit me like a punch in the face as Thomas Recktenwald casually mentioned in an email: “Btw Waldemar Kumming died two weeks ago.” We have been bracing for the impact of his departure for a couple of years. Yet, I can’t rid myself of the feeling, that a grand chapter of our fan-history now definitely has vanished into the mist.

P.S. Thanks to Michael Haitel, for reminding me of the classic Stop-episode. Recommended reading (page 20) “Waldemar Kumming – Behold the Fan”: http://efanzines.com/CounterClock#15/CoClock-15.pdf