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:

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.

A Far Far Verse Thing

By John Hertz:  Somehow I’m prompted to offer you this reprint from Vanamonde 1063.

The only time fanhistory records my venturing to sing was at ConFrancisco, the 51st Worldcon.  Filksinging, the home-made music of the s-f community, had continued past dawn. People were inventing verses for “The House of the Rising Sun”. A man kept finding himself out of rhymes and ending lamely “indeed” for so long that Chance [Ann Layman Chancellor 1947-1998] threatened his health. Taking the floor — we were sitting round a table, actually — I gave forth,

I went
To the science fiction
It was full
Of the most
Brilliant fen.
All they did was complain.
They made an art of pain.
I guess
I’ll go there

Jeff Canfield (1958-2014)

Jeff Canfield

Jeff Canfield

Long-time fan Jeff Canfield died April 9 at the age of 55.

Canfield became a well-known Northern California con runner in the 1990s. He chaired Sacramento’s unsuccessful bid for the 1991 Westercon, in the process drawing Kevin Standlee into convention running — surely a fanhistorical contribution in its own right.

Canfield, Standlee and other members of the Sacramento Westercon bid were soon recruited onto the San Francisco in 1993 Worldcon bid committee. This time they were victorious and Canfield served as one of ConFrancisco’s deputy vice chairs.

It is also believed he produced the ConFrancisco Souvenir Book, based on this bit of detective work by the editors of the Internet Science Fiction Data Base:

There is not a title page per se. The title is taken from the copyright statement. The editor is listed as “Dr. Evil” in convention staff list. Jeff Canfield is listed as the “Speaker to Doctor Evil” and thus is assumed to be the name behind the pseudonym.

Besides sf, his other activities included Formula Vee racing and photography. He drove a Formula Vee Viper race car and was an integral member of the San Francisco region of the Sports Car Club of America. He founded Jeff Canfield Photography.

Professionally, Canfield worked as a System Software Specialist at State Compensation Insurance Fund for 25 years.

A memorial is being planned in June. People are invited to make donations in his name to the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, CA.

The obituary that originally ran in the Sacramento Bee can be read here.

15 Costumers You Should Know

The International Costumers Guild is posting a series of short video tributes to the pioneers and superstars of convention masquerades

The trailer “15 Costumers You Should Know” credits Forry Ackerman as the “Father of Convention Costuming” – he wore a “futuristicostume” made by Myrtle Douglas at the first Worldcon in 1939. The series will revisit the historic work of fans Kathy Sanders, Bruce & Dana MacDermott, Karen Schaubelt Turner Dick, Animal X, Jacqueline Ward, Janet Wilson Anderson, Deborah K. Jones, Pierre & Sandy Pettinger, Barb Schofield, Adrian Butterfield and Ricky Dick.

See more at the IGC Archives.

Stuff That Was Once Cool

While revisiting fanhistory for my Worldcon panels I began remembering some of the cool fannish things I once wished to own. Some of them I acquired. Some are still cool. One is still cool and available.

The Acoustic Modem

Plenty of fans in the 1970s were engineers, programmers and science grads with legitimate access to the ARPANET, the early computer network and forerunner of the internet. LASFS party hosts with accounts, of course, appreciated that the highest and best use of the system was calling into M.I.T. to let their guests play Zork.

Connecting to the net involved placing a regular phone receiver in the cradle of an acoustic coupler modem linked to the home PC. Those early modems were as big as a combat boot – the one my friends had must have been even bigger than the one in the picture, still, you get the idea.

It would have been heavenly — for some values of heaven — being able to call in and play Zork for endless hours with no other fans waiting breathlessly beside me for their turns. However, they soon clamped down on access to ARPANET accounts, and I could not have afforded however many hundred dollars that gadget cost. But it was cool!

The Ellison Index

Leslie Kay Swigart had been an active LASFS member of the era right before I joined the club, which is one reason Bruce Pelz had a copy of her magnum opus, Harlan Ellison: A Bibliographical Checklist. The 1973 first edition was printed by Williams Publishing of Dallas and I don’t know if that was a publishing house or just a printer. In any event, he showed off his copy during one of the card games at his place. The intricate cover by Leo & Diane Dillon made it look awesome. (Gosh, did I just write awesome?) And bearing in mind that Harlan Ellison in 1973 was at the pinnacle of his popularity, it’s understandable why Bruce’s offer to sell us copies was irresistible. You can’t read what you don’t even know exists, and in those pre-internet days Swigart’s checklist was the simplest way of discovering everything our hero had written.

Team Banzai headband

In 1984, Twentieth Century Fox hired a crew to travel around the country promoting The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension at conventions. They were the only source for the Team Banzai headband. The over-the-top title and the movie’s implicit coolness struck the right note with fans, which made the headbands popular. A few did wear them as headbands, others as armbands or thighbands, or tied to some piece of fannish paraphernalia.

Glow-in-the-Dark Bid T-Shirt

Fans sure did like the glow-in-the-dark LA-in-90 bid t-shirt (the yellow shirt in this picture). It may have been the most appealing thing about our bid. I’ll bet plenty of fans were wearing these shirts while happily marking their ballots for Holland.

Heinlein Blood Donor Pin

Robert Heinlein suffered two years of extensive illnesses and received many pints of his rare blood type in transfusions. He was determined to pay-it-forward, publicizing the National Rare Blood club and blood donation generally. Fans organized a blood drive at the 1976 Worldcon, MidAmericon, where he was guest of honor and Heinlein said he would only sign autographs for people who donated blood. Part of the package deal was a RAH blood donor pin (commissioned by the LASFS) and copies of his “Are You A Rare Blood” offprint which many of us had him autograph.

Commemorative Heinlein blood drives continue at conventions to this day, and unlike some of the other cool things mentioned in this article you can still get a donor pin.

A LASFSian Remembers Ray Bradbury

(L to R) Leigh Brackett (Mrs. Hamilton), Ray Bradbury, Marguerite Bradbury, Edmond Hamilton, at 1968 World SF Convention, Hotel Claremont, Oakland, Calif. Photo by © Andrew Porter.

By Mike Glyer: Ray Bradbury had discovered science fiction when he was eight. Now at the age of 17 he was about to discover fandom.

T. Bruce Yerke, secretary of the Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League — an office I held 50 years later in the renamed LASFS – was given Bradbury’s name as a membership prospect. Yerke sent a letter on the club’s hectographed stationery inviting him to attend their meetings at Clifton’s Cafeteria. Ray Bradbury appeared on October 7, 1937 asking, “Is Mr. Yerke here?”

Bradbury was then in high school, graduating in 1938, and already turning out stories. Within a week, Forry Ackerman had him writing and drawing for the clubzine Imagination!, beginning a lifelong friendship. With Ackerman’s encouragement and occasional financial assistance he weathered a stream of constant rejections from sf prozines. Ackerman also underwrote Bradbury’s fanzine Futuria Fantasia, with material by Kuttner and Heinlein, and loaned Bradbury the money to attend the first Worldcon in New York in 1939.

The young fan’s full name was Ray Douglas Bradbury. His father had named him for the silent movie star Douglas Fairbanks. And in the pages of The Damned Thing editor T. Bruce Yerke teased the lofty, Hollywood aspirations of “Rayoul Douglasse Bradbury” who sold papers on a Normandie Ave. street corner.

This sounds snarky, taken out of context. In fact, Bradbury probably enjoyed the teasing — he was one of Yerke’s regular contributors and even drew the cover of The Damned Thing #2.

Bradbury himself told stories about those days in the 1930s when he would roller-skate up to the gate at Paramount and hang around trying to get stars’ autographs. After W. C. Fields complied he dismissed Ray, saying, “Here you go, you little son-of-a-bitch.” And Ray liked to loaf at the famous Brown Derby restaurant — but bought his meals at Hugo’s Hot Dog Stand across the street.

Ray cultivated his many talents to entertain and win friends. He played the violin (badly), impersonated FDR, W.C. Fields and radio star Fred Allen, cracked jokes at club meetings, sang loudly enough while riding a boat in Central Park that the authorities complained, and wrote plays and acted in a little theater group led by actress Laraine Day.

All the while he was faithfully writing 1,000 words a day and selling nothing, until at last he broke through with his first sale in 1941, “Pendulum,” written in collaboration with Henry Hasse and published in Super Science Stories. Soon he was selling regularly, with Julius Schwartz as his agent. He eventually shed the pulps and began selling to major magazines – once hitting the Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, Coronet and Esquire within a three-week period.

Bradbury married Marguerite McClure in 1948 and they had four daughters. Maurgerite passed away in 2003.

Quite a bit of his most famous fiction was written before 1955. By then television was booming and Bradbury began writing scripts for Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents and many other shows.

In 1956, John Huston hired him to write the screenplay for the movie Moby Dick. This took him to Ireland and inspired a series of Irish stories – my favorite when I was much younger was “The Anthem Sprinters,” about Irishmen who tried to get out of the theater between the end of the film and the start of “God Save the Queen.”

In the Sixties filmmakers began making movies from Bradbury’s own work, Fahrenheit 451 directed by Francois Truffaut (1966) and The Illustrated Man (1969).

An amazing thing is that even with his ever-increasing fame, speaking schedule and strenuous writing workload Ray remained cordial towards his fans. I think he actually reveled in his fame, one of the fruits of his success as a writer, but he was an incredibly generous spirit by nature, who gave his time and attention to any cause he felt indebted to – such as the libraries where he’d educated himself – and paid forward the encouragement and mentoring he’d received as a young, unpublished dreamer.

When I got into fandom in the late Sixties I was part of a local library discussion group. I persuaded them to put out a fanzine and as the editor assigned myself the job of trying to get contributions from pro writers. Nearly all of them sent friendly replies saying “no.” Ray Bradbury actually sent us something to use – a tearsheet of “These Unsparked Flints, These Uncut Gravestone Brides,” a poem that essentially compares spinster librarians to unused tombstones, a metaphor less appreciated by the library staff than the rest of us who fixated on the “Wow! Ray Bradbury is in our zine!” part.

He clearly relished an audience, speaking often at libraries, universities and civic events. He spoke at USC during my freshman year, the first time I got his autograph. That was 1970, and Ray had already shaped the basic autobiographical speech that he continued to present til he was 90, about his childhood memories, the art he loved and his successes as a writer. That day he said, “I wanted to become the greatest writer in the world. Aren’t you glad I finally made it?” The audience cheered like mad.

Ray became pretty receptive to invitations to speak at LASFS’ annual convention, Loscon, after his friend Julius Schwartz got active in fandom again in the Eighties. I always hoped to pull off an appearance by Ray for one of the cons I programmed. When at long last his schedule and health seemed likely to permit it, he unfortunately got sick the weekend of the con and had to cancel. Forry Ackerman saved my bacon by agreeing to take that hour and tell stories about Ray, by then his friend for over 60 years.

Writing this blog drew me back into Ray’s orbit once more by connecting me with John King Tarpinian, Bradbury’s batman on outings and one of my colleagues at the IRS. John lives in Glendale near Mystery & Imagination Bookshop, scene of a plethora of Bradbury appearances like his annual birthday parties. (See Ray Bradbury’s 89th Birthday Party, article and photos by John King Tarpinian.)

John helped make File 770 “all Bradbury all-the-time,” our incessant drumbeat of reports about signings and sales amplified by the occasional news blast, like when John snapped a photo of Ray’s gobsmacked expression as he watched Rachel Bloom’s “F*** Me, Ray Bradbury” music video for the very first time (V*** For Me, Ray Bradbury).

I’ll continue to celebrate Ray’s work and life because I’ve never had more fun as a fan of any science fiction writer than I’ve had following the exploits of that unpublished teenager who wandered into LASFS in 1937 and went on to be one of our greatest fantasists, opening the genre to millions of readers.

Update 06/07/2012: Corrected full first name to Ray, which Tarpinian says is on his birth certificate. “Raymond” I got from Warner’s All Our Yesterdays. Bill Warren also sent me the correction. Thanks!

John Hertz: Klein is Big, Door is Dear

By John Hertz: Jay Kay Klein, the photographer of science fiction, has donated his photographs to the Eaton Collection. Shipments are arriving. It is best to arrange such things while one is alive.

Klein shot all of us – sounds tempting, doesn’t it? – fans and pros. He was there, usually with several cameras. In monochrome, color, stereo, he took a hundred thousand photos.

The Eaton Collection, on the Riverside campus of the University of California, is the world’s largest publicly accessible holding of s-f, with books, prozines, fanzines, ephemera. Terry Carr’s, Rick Sneary’s, and Bruce Pelz’ collections made Eaton the largest in fanzines. The Klein photos are a perfect match, and in their own right an element – I use the word deliberately.

Since seven years were needed for a preliminary index of the Pelz collection, Eaton librarians delighted in finding Klein’s photos carefully identified. Perhaps I may be allowed to say that when I talked with him by phone about it recently he chortled. It had not been by the power of his mind alone that he laid hands on pictures as needed.

How good are they?

Look at the Photo Yearbook in the 75th Anniversary issue of Analog (January-February 2005). The photos are Klein’s. See in particular his portraits of Campbell, Heinlein, Moore.

He’s been as valuable a reporting photographer as a portraitist. Look at the Asimov Appreciation in the June 1992 Locus. He can write, too. He recounted the memorial gathering, then gave the closing reminiscence, after Hartwell, Gunn, de Camp. Asimov “loved to have someone top him if possible. Seldom possible.”

Photography is an extraordinary combination of an artist’s vision and of fact. Of this Jay Kay Klein has been illustrative.

No one can top an act like that, but I promised to say something about Selina Phanara’s door. It arrived safely, was placed duly, and is enjoyed muchly.

Eaton is eager to make its resources available. It has a Website and a copying service. Visits in person are welcome.

Two Eaton archivists studying a Klein shipment.

Selina Phanara’s door in place.

Dick Spelman (1931-2012)

Line for Robert Heinlein's autograph at the LASFS clubhouse in 1973. Dick Spelman is in the center holding a copy of "I Will Fear No Evil". Photo by Bill Warren.

Dick Spelman passed away March 6. After radiation treatments failed to eradicate his cancer, declining health led to his hospitalization with pneumonia and finally placement in hospice care.

Dick was a renowned book dealer at Midwestern conventions in the 1980s, selling new books from a huge island of tables in the huckster’s room. He retired in 1991, sold the business to Larry Smith and Sally Kobee, and moved to Orlando.

Dick had early contacts with fandom, writing letters to the prozines, and his brother Henry belonged to Boston’s Strangers Club. Dick attended the 1952 Worldcon in Chicago but he didn’t go to another until 1972 (L.A.con). By then he was living in Los Angeles and that’s when he transformed into a real actifan.

I got to know him when he joined LASFS in 1973. Dick joined the short-lived sf discussion group we started once LASFS bought its first clubhouse. Milt Stevens, Elst Weinstein and I were among the others in the sparsely-attended group.

During the Seventies Dick was an active collector and researcher. In 1978 he issued four well-respected chapbooks which listed the production of several book publishers: Science Fiction and Fantasy Published by Ace Books (1953-1968), Science Fiction and Fantasy Published by Arkham House (1939-1976), Science Fiction and Fantasy Published by Ballantine Books (1953-1977), and Science Fiction and Fantasy Published by Avalon Books.

Along the way Dick developed his book business and moved back to the Midwest. Dealers who make the rounds of conventions have a golden opportunity to become influential figures in fan politics and Dick made a rapid ascent. A chapter is devoted to him — “Dick Spelman: From SMIF to SMOF” — in Mike Resnick’s Once a Fan. He became a director of the Chicon IV (1982) Worldcon committee, served as president of ISFiC, belonged for awhile to MCFI, and chaired the 1982 Windycon. He worked many more conventions as staff.

Resnick published two of Dick’s stories in the most fannish of his anthologies, “The Forgotten Worldcon of ’45” in Alternate Worldcons (1994) and “The Worldcon of 2001” in Again, Alternate Worldcons (1996). (If you’re curious, the NESFA Recursive Science Fiction site gives the plots of these stories.)

Dick was honored as Fan GoH at the1987 Windycon and the 1991 Marcon.

How much we’ll miss him!

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Kathryn Daugherty (1950-2012)

Kathryn Daugherty

Kathryn Daugherty passed away on February 24 after a two-year battle with cancer. Her husband, James, plans to hold a memorial service this spring in Maui. They were married nearly 40 years.

Kathryn’s life ended in the home in Henderson, Nevada that the couple had called their Dream House. When they started work on it in 2009 she set out to track every step on her blog Adventures in Surreal Estate: Building our Dream House in the Desert. Then illness took its toll and she stopped posting in September 2010. The house did get finished — she told Facebook friends on January 6 they had moved in. Unfortunately she did not have long to enjoy it.

She was among the most respected sf convention runners, having done indispensible work as a department head and division manager at many Worldcons, as well as working Baycons, serving as the “beach chair” of the 2000 Westercon in Hawaii, and as San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions Secretary. Chris Garcia credits her invitation to participate in BayCon for his return to fandom in 2000.

She was gracious and charming. She could also be really funny, too, in the penetratingly acerbic way fans love best. I remember her scoffing about the MagiCon “pocket program” —

Did you actually carry around that mammoth publication in your pocket? Even my purse wasn’t big enough and somewhere in there is the map to the Lost Dutchman Mine and Judge Crater’s phone number.

And it was Kathryn who furnished the pineapple jellybeans Gardner Dozois shot out of his nose at the Millennium Philcon in 2001…

Kathryn and James were Loscon 31 Fan Guests of Honor. Her brief autobiography wistfully chronicles the many ways fandom called out her gifts:

One day the woman said to her husband, “Look, there is going to be a convention in the city Right Next Door for people who love fantastic literature. Let’s go.” They went and discovered a new world to explore. The woman saw people singing. She had a good voice and thought, “Maybe I could do that too.” The woman saw people with beautiful costumes. She had a sewing machine and an impressive collection of cloth. She thought, “I could make a costume some day.” She saw artists and writers and scientists. “Maybe there is a place for me there,” she thought. But when she was asked to be a door guard for the masquerade, she knew she had found her calling. She got a ribbon to wear and got to hang out with the people who were actually running the convention. She began to travel to other conventions to volunteer. She began to plan other conventions. One day she was even the Chair of her very own convention.

She was an engineer by profession. Her favorite job at the university had been feeding punchcards into the giant CDC 6400.

Kathryn and her husband were genuine globetrotters. Over the years she and James visited a very long list of countries. For a time Kathryn even lived in New Zealand. She once told the SMOFs list that among the places she most liked to explore were Cambodia, Bali and Vietnam. Her blogs were filled with photos of international travel and accounts of cruises and tours.

Most fans discover fandom through their love of the stories but when they become absorbed in its social aspects the reading tapers off. Not in Kathryn’s case. I found her current and complete familiarity with the latest works in the sf field one of the most impressive things about her. Some years she racked up reading 200 books. She was so knowledgeable and articulate fans loved to attend her one-woman convention programs to hear pointers about developing new writers and take notes on her award recommendations. Or sometimes she’d be the centerpiece of a panel: one of the best times I ever had was appearing with her and Chris Garcia to handicap the Hugo nominees at the 2008 Westercon.

Her legion of friends, myself among them, will miss her strength, humor, and knowledge.

Further Reading: Friends will also want to read Deidre Saoirse Moen’s appreciation of Kathryn.

What a Future DC Worldcon Needs

Washington DC’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center opened in 2003 but not until November 2011 was ground broken on a 1,167-room Marriott Marquis across the street. Fans have long considered such a hotel the essential missing piece in any plan to return the Worldcon to Washington.

Two Worldcons have been held in Washington DC (1963, 1974). Two more bid committees tried to bring the convention back. An out-of-rotation bid for 1984 depended on a rules change that failed to pass. A bid for 1992 was forced to fold a few months before the vote after losing its first option on the Sheraton Washington.

In 2004 Michael Nelson publicly discussed the possibility of a DC bid for 2011, if the convention center hotel was built in time. Of course, it was not.

But remember – when it rains, it pours. The Washington Post ran an article last September reporting that developers would like to build two more Marriotts beside the one already going up by the convention center. However, the city has balked on giving them $35 million in subsidies they want for the project.

Yes, September. If this is not the freshest news, never forget File 770’s motto – “It’s always news to somebody.”

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the story.]