Lyle Waggoner (1935-2020)

Lyle Waggoner and Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman.

Actor Lyle Waggoner died March 17 at the age of 84. Although he narrowly missed genre fame in the Sixties — a finalist for the title role in the Batman TV series, he lost out to Adam West — in the Seventies he was cast in his best-known genre role as Col. Steve Trevor, Jr. in the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman TV series.

Waggoner played a supporting role in the TV production of Once Upon a Mattress (1972) with Carol Burnett, while also working on her weekly variety show (1967-1974), source of his biggest fan following.

He also was in episodes of the original Lost in Space, Supertrain, Time Express, Mork & Mindy, Fantasy Island, and in the movies Journey to the Center of Time (1967), and Wizards of the Demon Sword (1991).

Kate Hatcher (1974-2020)

By John Hertz:

Bright-spirited – fool? wise?
Bees from flowers and from weeds
Bring honey.  Shall we?

Who walks in where fools fear to tread? 

I can’t say Kate Hatcher was an angel; she was a human woman.  Angels are something else.

That much was true of her.  She was something else.

Maybe she’s an angel now.

Ben Hatcher, who had devotedly husbanded her, telephoned me early on Friday – March 6th.  Kate would have wanted, he said, for me to hear it from him.  I said I’d try to keep worthy of that.

I had known her since 2014 when she worked on the first Utah Westercon.  Five years later she chaired the second – which was combined with the 13th NASFiC, another first.

Until 2014 the West Coast Science Fantasy Conference had never been in Utah.  It had found its way out of Los Angeles by 1951 (Westercon IV, San Francisco), out of California by 1959 (Westercon XII, Seattle); out of the United States, 1977 (Westercon XXX, Vancouver); as far east as allowed, 1996 (Westercon XLIX, El Paso); off-continent, 2000 (Westercon LIII, Honolulu).

But someone must bid to host it, and win votes.  Salt Lake City fans did that with Westercon LXVII.  In 2019 it was in Utah again (Westercon LXXII, Layton).

That was not extraordinary enough.  Since 1975 a North America Science Fiction Convention has been held when the Worldcon is overseas; in 2019, the Worldcon was in Dublin, so there was a NASFiC; Kate chaired the bid for the 2019 Westercon, also the bid to host the NASFiC conjointly, and chaired the two combined cons after both bids won in two separate votes; also, joined with them, a 1632 Minicon (fans of Eric Flynt’s 1632 series), and Manticon 2019 (fans of David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, with its Royal Manticoran Navy i.e. Space navy).

Some of our cons get names; this combination of four was called Spikecon, being 50 miles from where the Final Spike was driven to complete the Transcontinental Railroad 150 years earlier.  Railroad engineer’s caps were part of the con.  The Transcontinental Railroad is historic.  So are wrongs in its accomplishment.  Human history is part honey, part aloes.

Kate and Ben, reading and watching and gaming with SF, knew little of organized (if that word may be used) fandom when they came to LTUE half a dozen years ago.  They found out – or were recruited – or something.

LTUE – Life, the Universe, and Everything – began as the Marion K. “Doc” Smith Symposium on Science Fiction and Fantasy at Brigham Young University.  Three decades later it’s still held at Provo, Utah, in February, describing itself as both “a three-day academic symposium on all aspects of science fiction and fantasy” and “a gathering place for fans of our creative and innovative world to hang out and share their love of all things amazing, obscure, and even not-quite-real”.

That’s not the 1890-1965 “Doc” Smith who wrote Skylark and Lensman stories, it’s the 1932-2002 BYU professor.  There’s a book People Named Smith.

Dave Doering, the Westercon LXVII chair, was glad Kate arrived among us.  Three months before his con he found he had no program; I’ll omit details; anyway Kate in those circumstances was willing to give it a try: did remarkably well: was then recruited by Westercon LXX (Tempe) and LXXI (Denver), and the 76th Worldcon (San Jose).

She developed the art, science, or mystery of getting sponsorships.  Here is another balancing act.

Our cons are non-profit.  The fees we charge for membership (we insist we offer memberships, the privilege of participating, not tickets, the entitlement to watch what someone else makes) may prove insufficient to cover costs.  Whatever commerce means, still unclear after centuries or millennia, we don’t want to be commercial; the road there isn’t our way.

With all this in mind can we – should we – get individual, or even (gasp) corporation sponsors?  Healthfully?  How?  For what?  Think about it.

We vote for Westercons two years in advance.  By voting time at Westercon LXX the bid Kate chaired for LXXII remained unopposed.  This amounts to a compliment, the community’s saying “We can’t do better; go ahead.”  Westercon history shows that an unopposed bid might still not win our votes.  I’ll omit details.  Anyway, Kate’s bid won; then she was made, and served as, chair of the con – another thing which ain’t necessarily so.

We vote for Worldcons two years in advance; NASFiCs, one year.  At the 2017 Worldcon we voted for Dublin in 2019 – so there would be a 2019 NASFiC.  Where?  Conducted by whom?  This was decided at the 2018 Worldcon – a year after voting for the 2019 Westercon – and by members of the 2018 Worldcon, not necessarily the same voters.

Someone – Kate has been credited, or blamed – had the bright idea of combining the 2019 NASFiC and Westercon.  She was made the chair of a bid.

If you took part in that discussion, you’ll remember it.  If not, imagine it.

By NASFiC voting time the Utah bid remained unopposed – and won.

As the Beatles sang – remember them, or imagine them – “Only the beginning.”

Also in this story is SMOFcon.  Our term SMOF, for “Secret Master of Fandom”, seems to have been coined in the early 1960s, maybe by Jack Chalker.  Later Bruce Pelz called it a joke-nonjoke-joke.  It came to be used, more or less good-humoredly, for people often involved with conducting our cons, clubs, and like that.  By 1984 we had a SMOFcon, hoping to hand on, or off, expertise.

SMOFcon XXXVI was 30 Nov – 2 Dec 2018 at Santa Rosa, California (SMOFcon XXXVIII is scheduled for 4-6 Dec 20 at Montréal, Québec).  Kate figured she’d better attend.  How?  Luckily she won a scholarship.

She went to study.  Naturally she was asked to teach about sponsors.  In principle that was jes’ fine, share and share alike.  In practice – well, I’ll continue to omit details and only say that as the adventure went on, to and through Spikecon, SMOF was not always praise in her private conversation.

Of course some people were very helpful.  It would be tragic to draw a false conclusion like expertise is bunk and condemn oneself not just to re-inventing the wheel but, as Dean Gahlon of Minneapolis says, re-inventing the square wheel.  Perhaps in a free-form world like fandom both gaining and giving know-how may call for extra thought.  And one has to look.

What struck me, over many hours by phone and in person with her during these few years, was a willingness to try things, to reach her own conclusions about what could or couldn’t be done, and perhaps as a product, an ability to find ways of making things work.

Other folks noted how she could get sought out and brought in.  If she herself was left holding the bag, she made it a Bag of Holding.

In my own metaphor, which I think I can now tell you, I called her Pennzoil.

I can’t wholly omit her physical health.  It was, to speak mildly, wretched.  She wasn’t entirely wheelchair-bound.

Besides Ben, her family included – as she sometimes described her daughter – an autistic giggle factory named Ireland.

Kate did not push burdens to the fore.  She had a bright spirit.  Luckily she had an independent mind.  With these gifts she achieved much.

Dave Doering said she always gave 110%.  Even from him that was an understatement.

Kowtowing never, asking from allone
(As Heinlein said), she learned
To look, think, for herself and others,
Easy or hard, whether advice helped or burned.

                                                      

My poem at the beginning is in unrhymed 5-7-5-syllable lines more or less like Japanese haiku; at the end, an acrostic (read down the first letters of each line) more or less like a quatrain in Chinese regulated verse: for the scansion, I try sentence-stress instead of the First Tone (Chinese has no sentence-stress), and disregard insubstantial words (omitted in literary Chinese); below, / marks the caesura, R the rhyme; “allone” alludes to Time for the Stars ch. 17 (1956), where our narrator is told, in System Speech, “Outdown go rightwards.  Ask from allone.”

– – / – x x
x x / x – – R
x x / – – x
– – / x x – R

Abby Has Died

By Mark L. Blackman: New York fan Ariel Makepeace Julienne Winterbreuke – also known as I Abra Cinii, Ariel Cinii and simply Abby – was found dead in her “Upstate Manhattan” apartment on Sunday, March 8. She was 66. Neighbor and fellow fan Bill Wagner provided the few details available:

Some sad news. New York fan and my direct next door neighbor Ariel Winterbreuke was found dead in her apartment. She had been dead at least a week. A neighbor said the police went down the fire escape to get into her apartment for a wellness check. Reportedly she had recently appeared thin and not looking well. No cause of death is yet known.

Abby, one of the first trans people in Fandom, was phenomenally creative and inventive (she even devised an alien language and way of thought for her fiction called Sartine). She was an apahack (in both incarnations of APA-NYU), an artist, a filker and performer (known for “Imported Sly,” “Unknown is Unending,” and the New York-centric “The Alternate Side” and “Swing Low, Sweet Double-A”), and the author (as Ariel Cinii) of the Touching Lands’ Dance trilogy (The Family Forge, The Organized Seer and The Telepaths’ Song).

Abby attending an open-air art exhibition in Rockefeller Center. Photo by and used with permission of Deb Wunder.

Earl Kemp Dies

Earl Kemp in 2007. Photo by Bill Burns, Corflu, Austin, Texas.

Past Worldcon chair and Hugo-winning fanzine editor Earl Kemp (1929-2020) died February 6 at the age of 90. The news was only recently shared by his son, Erik Kemp. Earl died from injuries suffered in a fall: after getting up from his computer, he fell and struck his head on the corner of his desk.

Although fandom was a small pond in the Fifties and Sixties, Earl was a very big fish in it. He worked hard to be a mover and shaker, and to circulate among its top writers.

Earl had been born in Arkansas and later moved to Chicago, where he worked in a job printing shop and learned typesetting and book composition techniques for offset printing.

After exchanging a few letters with Mari Wolf (who was conducting “Fandora’s Box” for William Hamling’s Imagination), she connected Earl with local Chicago fan Ed Wood, which led to Earl joining the University of Chicago Science Fiction Club in 1950.

He attended his first Worldcon when it was held in Chicago in 1952. Earl later said, “It was like walking into a world I had been seeking for a very long time. I felt, instantly, that I was at home at last and among my kind of people.”

Earl would become president of the University of Chicago Science Fiction Club and hold office for almost a decade (although the university was told a student’s name for that purpose.) Meanwhile, he chaired two unsuccessful bids to return the Worldcon to the city. As they say, the third time is the charm: he served as chairman of the 1962 Worldcon, Chicon III.

In 1955, Earl and several other UofCSF Club members started Advent:Publishers with the idea of bringing out critical works about science fiction. Advent’s other founders, besides Earl, were Robert Briney, Sidney Coleman, James O’Meara, George Price, Jon Stopa and Ed Wood. Damon Knight had written a goodly number of critical essays for science fiction magazines by then, and it was Earl’s idea to assemble them into a book. In 1956, Advent published as its first book Damon Knight’s In Search of Wonder. Advent would also publish major nonfiction works such as James Blish’s The Issue at Hand, Don Tuck’s massive bibliographic Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy to 1968, Robert Bloch’s The Eighth Stage of Fandom, as well as Harry Warner, Jr’s All Our Yesterdays and Alexei Panshin’s Heinlein in Dimension.

Earl said in one autobiographical comment, “[By] 1959 I was a reasonably well known science fiction fan, collector, bibliophile, pain-in-the-ass wannabe something significant. By that time I thought I knew absolutely every single person of any consequences involved with science fiction, and they knew me.”

Alexei Panshin sketched Earl’s character in these terms in “Oh, Them Crazy Monkeys!”:

…Earl’s strength was his ability to always think of the next thing to do, and then draw other people into wanting to play the game with him — very much in the same way that he’d propose writing a book on Heinlein to me, and then convince me to write it so Advent could publish it.

I described the Earl of those days this way in “The Story of Heinlein in Dimension“:  “He was a doer, not only full of bright ideas, but also able to bring them to fruition.  A typical Kemp project had an element of originality, called for a lot of work, but yielded results that only imagination and effort could achieve.”

In the copy of the essay which Earl read and then returned to me all marked in red, he inserted the phrase “by a lot of people” after the words “a lot of work” in the previous sentence.  That’s an important addition.  It emphasizes the group nature of these endeavors.  They weren’t undertaken for personalistic Crazy Monkey reasons, but rather for the sheer fun of doing them.

…On the other hand, Earl Kemp’s greatest weakness was that he had the demands of his own Crazy Monkey to contend with.  He aimed to get ahead.  He wanted to be a success.  He longed for recognition.  He wanted to rub elbows with the rich and powerful.  He wanted to be a player.

The reality, however, was that Earl had a living to earn at a job he didn’t always like, working as a graphics artist for a printer.  He couldn’t help thinking that he was capable of more demanding work and of exercising greater responsibility, and he wanted to better himself.

Earl Kemp in costume at the 1960 Worldcon masquerade. Photo by James O’Meara

In 1963 Kemp edited The Proceedings: CHICON III, published by Advent:Publishers. The book included transcripts of lectures and panels given during the course of the convention, along with numerous photographs.

Earl’s work as Worldcon chair gained fresh notoriety in the last decade when NIU posted an online exhibit of correspondence related to the 1962 Chicago Worldcon, including his invitation to Isaac Asimov to deliver a pseudo-lecture on the theme of “The Positive Power of Posterior Pinching”. (The suggested pseudo-lecture did not occur.) The exhibit was the basis for Stephanie Zvan’s 2012 post “We Don’t Do That Anymore”, the point of which seemed to be missed by Earl, who left a comment: “What a wonderful find. Thank you very much for posting this. It’s nice to be reminded of some of the good things. I admit I’ve forgotten this, but it certainly was Ike.”

He was a prolific fanzine editor, who won the Hugo Award for Best Fanzine in 1961 for his publication Who Killed Science Fiction? It was a classic Kemp project, edited with his then wife Nancy Kemp (1923-2013). To create the fanzine, “Earl sent the same five questions to 108 people, the elite of the science fiction world. And he printed the seventy-one responses he received.” Robert A. Heinlein participated, but insisted on being listed as an anonymous respondent. Who Killed Science Fiction? was distributed through the Spectator Amateur Press Society (SAPS), a long-running amateur press association.

In December 2006, Earl released the “complete and unexpurgated” text of Who Killed Science Fiction? as a webpage on eFanzines. The first question reads —

1)  Do you feel that magazine science fiction is dead?

YES:  2

NO:  55 replies, of which 38 qualified their “no” by following it with “but…,” and an alarming percentage of these 38 indicated that the death struggle was already in sight.

YES: Eleven replies, stating either “yes” or definitely dying already (this figure includes my personal vote).

After Earl won the Hugo, Heinlein seems to have regretted not putting his name on his reply.

In Seattle in 1961, after I had been awarded the Hugo for Who Killed Science Fiction?, Robert Heinlein approached me. He had this deliberately calculated way of insulting through faint praise; his words would flow out of him effortlessly as if he had spent some time rehearsing them, perhaps saying the words aloud to himself. 

“If I had of known what a good job you would do with Who Killed Science Fiction?” he said, “I’d have allowed you to use my name in it.”

Gee, thanks, Bob? I believe that was the closest I ever came to receiving an apology from Robert Heinlein

The Hugo win spawned some controversy among those who felt it was wrong for the award to go to a publication that only had a single issue. The eligibility rules for fanzines soon were changed to prevent the recurrence of a one-shot winning. The requirement for a fanzine to be “generally available” may also have been inspired by the zine having been distributed through a members-only apa.

Earl produced a number of other fanzines up until 1965, including Destiny and SaFari. After a 37-year break, he returned to editing fanzines with e*I*, which focused on Earl and his friends’ memoirs of the science fiction world. e*I* ran from 2002–2012, and won a FAAn Award in 2009.

As a fan legend and successful fanpolitician Earl had his share of critics and detractors, but for jaw-dropping accusations none approached the level of D. Bruce Berry, who wrote a 38-page rant, A Trip To Hell (1962), about the evils of fandom in general and Earl Kemp in particular. Berry, who also lived in Chicago area, alleged that Earl, wearing a mask, had robbed him on the streets of Chicago on Labor Day night in 1958. This did not take into account that on that date Earl was attending the Worldcon in Los Angeles (South Gate in ’58). Additionally, Berry accused Kemp of railroading him into an insane asylum for three weeks. This became, if nothing else, a collectible zine.

Or considering what happened later, was D. Bruce Berry surpassed by the FBI and Richard Nixon? You may think so after reading Earl’s version of being prosecuted for distributing pornography, “Dickless in San Clemente,” in Michael Dobson’s Random Jottings 8.5.

During the 1960s and ’70s, Earl worked with William Hamling at Greenleaf Classics, publishing erotic paperbacks (quite a few of them written by sf pros under pseudonyms). One of Earl’s great pleasures was the artwork – though probably not for the reason you think. As he wrote in e*I*

In the 1960’s, after the Porno Factory moved to California and when I was boss, one of my biggest thrills was posing for the covers of some of our books. And, later, when we began using lots of photographs, I enjoyed that one as well for different reasons. The cover artists who worked for us quickly learned of my addiction and would occasionally conspire to involve me a bit more directly.

I remember one particular cover of one of our books that I was very proud of for a number of reasons. I seem to remember it as being an exceptionally good novel and one that I singled out for special handling. It was GC222, Song of Aaron, by Richard Amory, a sort-of sequel to his best-selling Song of the Loon from the previous year.

I had Robert Bonfils, our in-house Art Director, do a wrap-around painting for the cover. It shows two cowboys in the middle of forever (two hills over from Corflu Creek), stopping, dismounting, and stretching. I posed for both cowboys in this painting.

In 1970, not long after the federal government released the Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, Greenleaf Classics produced a shortened edition called Presidential Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography “replete with the sort of photographs the commission examined.” The commission had been created by the Johnson administration, and among its conclusions said that they found there was “no evidence to date that exposure to explicit sexual materials plays a significant role in the causation of delinquent or criminal behavior among youths or adults.” Nixon was in office by the time the report came out, and his administration emphatically rejected the commission’s findings and recommendations.   

Following publication of the Greenleaf Classics version of the report, Kemp and Hamling were prosecuted for “conspiracy to mail obscene material.” At trial, the report as published by Greenleaf was not found to be obscene, but the brochure sent out advertising it for sale was found to be clearly obscene by the jury. Earl was sentenced to a one-year prison sentence (as was Hamling), however, both served only the federal minimum of three months and one day.

Earl’s other output, listed in the Internet SF Database, is three anthologies edited under the Jon Hanlon pseudonym: Death’s Loving Arms & Other Terror Tales (1966), Stories from Doctor Death and Other Terror Tales (1966), and The House of Living Death and Other Terror Tales (1966), and the nonfiction work Sin-A-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties (2004), co-authored with Brittany A. Daley, Hedi El Kholti, Miriam Linna, and Adam Parfrey.

The Wikipedia includes The Science Fiction Novel, edited by Earl Kemp, Advent:Publishers (1959).

And the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction adds The Memoirs of an Angry Man: The Wit, Wisdom, and Sometimes Humor of The Fourth King of Pornography (2013)

Earl also appeared (sort of) in Milk (2008), about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California: he was one of the extras. “I’m part of the wallpaper in many scenes. Please applaud loudly when you see the guy in the very loud, 1979 three-piece plaid suit.” (Frank Robinson was another, in one scene noticeably wearing a Greek sailor’s cap and a sweater emblazoned ANITA THE HUN.)

As Earl was ending the run of his amazing fanzine e*I* in 2012, he was presented a Lifetime Achievement Awards at Corflu Glitter, an award created to “salute living fans for their excellent fanac over a long career in Fandom.”

The next year (2013) he was inducted to the First Fandom Hall of Fame.

His survivors include sons Erik Kemp and Earl Terry Kemp.

Earl’s website with many photos is still online here.

Exeunt duo; manemus

By John Hertz:  (mostly reprinted from Vanamonde 1378-79)

Beyond the hills are
Mountains; beyond the mountains
Is the sky; beyond –

Shakespeare used Latin in stage directions.  It was the thing to do at the time.  Exit means one person leaves the stage; exeunt, plural.  Manet means one person remains; manent, plural.  But those are in the third person.  We are in this play.  Manemus means we remain.

Mike Resnick (1942-2020) and Steve Stiles (1943-2020) both left in January.  The month is named for the Roman god Janus.  He had two faces, to look back and forward.

When significant people die, we often hear “Their like will not be seen again”.  In truth we don’t know that.  How could we?

The more aching a death leaves us, the more its true significance – I propose – includes Grab that torch.

If we feel helpless at an important loss, we can take that as a kind of compliment to the actor who left the stage.

We can conclude Let us do as well in our way as he did (as it happens, Mike and Steve were men) in his way.  This can even be among the challenges of diversity.

Mike Resnick at Chicon 7 (2012). Photo by Joel Zakem

A few years ago someone found Mike was the leading award-winner for short fiction among all speculative-fiction authors living or dead.  His 5 Hugos (37-time finalist), 1 Nebula (11 nominations) – his novella “Seven Views of Olduvai Gorge” (1994) won both – 3 Ignotus Awards and 1 Xatafi-Cyberdark (Spain), 2 Prix Ozine Awards and 1 Tour Eiffel (France), 1 Seiun and 1 Hayakawa’s SF Magazine Readers’ Award (Japan), 1 Futura Poll Award (Croatia), 1 Nowa Fantastyka Poll Award (Poland), show he had the gift of reaching people, internationally.

In 2007-2018 he was a judge for the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.  He won the Skylark in 1995, the Writers of the Future and Illustrators of the Future Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017.  He was Author Guest of Honor at the 70th World Science Fiction Convention.  He was executive editor of Jim Baen’s Universe, and founded Galaxy’s Edge, now in its seventh year.  He edited forty anthologies.  His papers are at the University of Southern Florida in Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.

Among his various collections the titles Once A Fan…. (2002) and ….Always a Fan (2009) are telling.  Once has among various lists “My 25 Favorite Fanzines”.  In the costume competition we call the Masquerade, he and his wife Carol, who survives him, won major awards at four Worldcons; he judged Masquerades and was Master of Ceremonies.  Among his various anthologies are Alternate Worldcons (1994) and Again, Alternate Worldcons (1996).  At the 60th Worldcon he led a fanhistory tour.  Among things he called outstanding at the 50th Worldcon was the arrival of Harry Warner’s fanhistory A Wealth of Fable in a hardcover edition.  He wrote for ChallengerFile 770Lan’s LanternMimosa.

He believed that whether or not you can pay it back, you should pay it forward; he was known for giving a hand to authors younger in their careers, many now calling themselves Mike’s Author Children – besides his daughter Laura.  Three of his Hugo finalists were Putting It Together: Turning Sow’s Ear Drafts into Silk Purse Stories (2001), I Have This Nifty Idea … Now What Do I Do With It? (2002), and The Business of Science Fiction (2011).

I’ll mention two moments I was in and one I saw.  When The Dying Earth (J. Vance, 1950) was on the Retrospective Hugo ballot for Best Novel at the 59th Worldcon he said “If Kirinyaga [MR, 1998] is a novel, it’s a novel.”  Another time, of Second Foundation (I. Asimov, 1953) he said “Having nearly destroyed the Seldon Plan with a Mule, he shouldn’t have saved it with a planet of Mules.”  In one of his stints as Masquerade M.C. – he was otherwise unstinting – an entrant shot him with a tachyon gun: he froze, motionless: as Diana Morales sang in A Chorus Line (1975), What he did for love.

Steve Stiles in 1979. Photo by Jeff Schalles.

Steve, one of the best-loved fanartists in recent years, was already a Hugo finalist in 1967-68; then 2003-2008 and 2010-2018, winning at Midamericon II the 74th World Science Fiction Convention (17-21 Aug 16; Midamericon I was the 34th, 2-6 Sep 76; Kansas City, MO).  Meanwhile he won fourteen Fan Activity Achievement (FAAn) Awards, 2001, 2003-2006, 2010-2012, 2014-2018.  He was in fanzines from Cry of the Nameless to Xero, including Vanamonde.

Jophan says, pub your ish; Steve did, sometimes; there were nine years between Sam 14 and 15, thirty-one between Sam 15 and 16.  In Mimosa 18 he said the first two issues of Sam had appeared by 1956, when he was thirteen; in Sam 16 he said Sam 1 came in 1960; Sam 18, the latest I know of, is dated 2016.  This is Fanzineland, where zines come and go; Science Fiction Five-Yearly – which also had his fanart, sometimes on the cover – was published on time for sixty years.

Also in 1968 he was already well enough known and loved that he was voted the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate, over Ed Cox and Ted Johnstone; his TAFF report Harrison Country, which began to appear in 1968, was completed in 2006, its various chapters collated and published in 2007, including TAFF Terror Tales 3 originally pubbed, as TAFF has sometimes done, to solicit votes in the next year’s contest, Stiles having become in turn the North America administrator: a pastiche of Krazy Kat (1913-1944), reprinted in Locus 56 and Chunga 12, where Randy Byers said (p. 6)

Steve managed not only to capture Herriman’s drawing style, but also the dialect of the characters, the wordplay, the ever-mutating abstract landscape, the self-awareness of the frame, and the strip structure that renders mini-stories within each strip but also builds a larger story between strips … fannish and also stefnal (or at least Dickian [i.e. Philip K.])….  fans were jiants in those days.

Science at its root
Tells us knowledge; are artists,
Even, scientists?
Voluptuously they look
Each to each at what and how.

Let’s look forward.  We have to anyhow.  In Mimosa 30 I called an article “Forward to the Basics” saying we couldn’t go back to the basics, because it wasn’t so clear we ever had them, and because anyhow we couldn’t go back.  We can look back, and we should; but we can only go forward.  In File 770 152 reporting the Yokohama (65th) Worldcon I said I was struck by the Japanese proverb On-ko chi shin, “Study the old to appreciate the new”.

If you feel you might be able to write, will you try it, please?  If you find you can, will you, please?  If you feel you might be able to draw, will you try it, please?  If you find you can, will you, please?  In any event will you look round for anyone whose work you think worthy – what do you care what other people think? – and encourage them, support them, help them, please?  Forward.

                                                      

Originally faan was an unhappy form of fan; the extra a, or more of them e.g. faaan, signified excess; enough of this lingered in 1975, when Moshe Feder and Arnie Katz started the FAAn Awards, that the name showed a self-depreciation thought suitable; the FAAn Awards were given 1975-1980, then 1994 to date; since their revival they have been associated with the annual fanziners’ convention Corflu (corflu = mimeograph correction fluid, once indispensable).  Jophan is the protagonist in The Enchanted Duplicator (Willis & Shaw, 1954; “Once upon a time in the village of Prosaic in the Country of Mundane there lived a youth called Jophan…. strange longings … from time to time perplexed his mind … which none of the pleasures offered by Mundane could satisfy”; duplicator in the sense of a machine for printing fanzines); earlier Bob Tucker used “Joe Fann” in Le Zombie for quips he wished some reader had sent in; “Come on, publish the next [or first!] issue of your fanzine” is an encouragement for all; among many instances, Art Widner used to wear a T-shirt with ”Jophan says, pub your ish”.  Stefnal, our old adjective, from Hugo Gernsback’s word scientifiction; Rick Sneary’s spelling is evoked by jiant.  My poem at the beginning is in unrhymed 5-7-5-syllable lines, like Japanese haiku; at the end, an acrostic (read down the first letters of each line) in unrhymed 5-7-5-7-7-syllable lines, like Japanese tanka.

Resnick Lives on in His Friends’ Memories

By Rich Lynch: It was back in 2001 that my late friend Mike Resnick, in a fanzine article about what he’d include in a personal time capsule, wrote something that came across as perhaps overly pessimistic but also sadly prophetic: “My fandom is dying.  It’s been dying for years.  It’ll be decades more before the last remnants are gone, and I have every hope and expectation that it will outlive me.”

At the time that Mike wrote that, he was nearly four decades into what was a very successful career as a professional writer.  But he was also very much a science fiction fan, having discovered fandom in 1962 in the pages of a fanzine.  And it was his perception, back then, that his fanzine-centric fandom was in the midst of what seemed a steep decline.  Which had brought on that bit of pessimism.

I can’t remember for sure when Nicki and I first met Mike – it was probably about the time of the 1988 Worldcon – but I do know when we became friends.  It was in 1994, during that year’s Worldcon.  We had an enjoyable long conversation with him in the Cincinnati Fantasy Group’s hospitality suite, where Mike had settled in after having missed out on winning a Hugo Award due to a controversial decision by the award administrators.  He told us that he had read a few issues of our fanzine, Mimosa, and out of the blue offered to write us an article for the next one.  Which we gratefully accepted.  It turned out to be one of the best pieces of non-fiction he ever wrote: “Roots and a Few Vines”, where he described in detail his experiences at the 1963 Worldcon in Washington, D.C. which made him a fan for life and set him on the road to becoming a science fiction writer.

That article got so much positive reader response that Mike ended up writing eight more articles for Mimosa, including a series of four first-person remembrances of other Worldcons he had attended.  And he attended a lot of them.  Mike ostensibly used Worldcons as opportunities to meet with publishers about book contracts and the like, but he was actually there as a fan.  From the time we became friends until just a few years ago when health considerations started to affect his ability to make long trips, he was a constant presence at nearly every Worldcon.  His most famous fiction series, one which brought him awards and award nominations aplenty, was Afrocentric in theme (one of Mike’s favorite travel destinations was Kenya) and many of his friends, us included, started to affectionately refer to him as ‘Bwana’.  I remember that he kept trying to convince Nicki and me to come along with him on one of his Africa trips but by that point in our lives we were not so much into that kind of an adventure.  Instead, we preferred a more vicarious experience by listening to him talk at conventions about his travels.

One of the shorter trips he took was back to his original home city of Chicago.  Near the end of the “Roots and a Few Vines” article, Mike had written that: “I’ve won some awards, and I’ve paid some dues, and I don’t think it’s totally unrealistic to assume that sometime before I die I will be the Guest of Honor at a Worldcon.”  It was a much-deserved honor that finally came to pass in 2012, in Chicago, and I was happy to be on a panel with him about a joint interest we both had – Broadway musicals.  But it turned out that my knowledge on the topic was not even close to what Mike and the other panelists displayed so I spent most of the hour just reveling in the experience while trying not to embarrass myself.  After that we often compared notes about musicals we’d seen and liked (and sometimes disliked).  And that, in a way, was the inspiration for Mike’s final fanzine article – a musical theater survey that was published in 2019 in the fanzine Challenger.  In it, he and eight other Broadway enthusiasts (me included) listed our top twelve favorite musicals.  Which, I’m sure, would have resulted in many more enjoyable hours of discussion on that topic with him.

Mike and me, with other panelists, on the Broadway musicals panel. Photo by Nicki Lynch.

Instead, I’ve spent some time trying to organize my thoughts on how I would remember my friend Mike.  Cancer is a cold, ruthless killer, and his last days from what I’ve read are not the way I’d want to go out.  But my memories of him, indeed memories of him by all of his friends, live on.  Of all the pleasant times, and there were many.  I’ll end this remembrance by going back the time capsule article that Mike wrote for Mimosa.  In it he listed all the things related to fandom he possessed that he would preserve in stasis, if he could, for fans of the year 2100 to discover.  And he also would have included a contextual note for all those future fans:


Dear Citizen of 2100:

     I hope you are living in the Utopia we envisioned when we were kids first discovering science fiction. I am sure you have experienced technological and medical breakthroughs that are all but inconceivable to me.

     But I have experienced something that is probably inconceivable to you, at least until you spend a little time studying the contents of this capsule.

     I wish I could see the wonders you daily experience. But you know something? As badly as I want to see the future, to see what we’ve accomplished in the next century, I wouldn’t trade places with you if it meant never having experienced the fandom that this capsule will introduce you to.

     Enjoy. I certainly did.


I feel grateful to have been part of Mike’s fandom.  And I feel regret for all those future fans of the year 2100 who won’t have the chance to meet Mike in person.  But they can still meet him through his fiction and descriptions of his fandom, and that ought to make him larger than life for them.  He already is for me.

[Illustration for Mike’s article by Joe Mayhew.]

The Man Who Claimed the Moon

Esther and Lester Cole at the 1954 Worldcon. Photo by Wally Weber.

By Rich Lynch: It was back on Christmas day that an email from an old friend arrived which provided some sad news.  Esther Cole let me know that: “You probably know that Les died in late September.  He had been very sick for a long time.  Still, he hung on, and was 93 when I kissed him goodbye, the night before he died.”

I actually hadn’t known, and apparently neither had anybody else in science fiction fandom.  Esther had not sent an obit to the local newspaper and Ventura is far enough off the beaten track, at least for most fans, that I may have been the first person to learn of Les’s passing.  We had been friends for a long time.

It was back in 1991 that I first became acquainted with Lester and Esther Cole.  I was doing some research for a new edition of Harry Warner, Jr.’s book A Wealth of Fable, an informal history of 1950s science fiction fandom, and had contacted them to gather additional information about the 1954 World Science Fiction Convention, which was held in San Francisco that year.  (Les had been co-chair and Esther the treasurer.)  It was two years later, at the 1993 Worldcon (also in San Francisco), that Nicki and I got to meet them – they had attended to participate in several discussion panels about fandom from that fabulous decade of the 1950s.  I was moderator for the panel about the `54 Worldcon and I remember that it was highly informative and also really entertaining, so much so that I am hoping that an audio recording will someday surface.

Nicki and I became friends with the Coles at the 1993 Worldcon, and following the convention we persuaded them to contribute essays to our fanzine Mimosa.  Esther’s appeared in the 16th issue, in December 1994, and described the half century that she and Lester had been science fiction fans.  It was titled, appropriately, “I Married a Science Fiction” and evoked a comment from another fanzine publisher that this was the kind of article he would want to build an issue around.  But it was Les’ article, which appeared in the 18th issue in May 1995, which was of even greater historical interest because it provided an inside story about the time, in February 1952, when the Little Men’s science fiction club of Berkeley, California (of which he was President) had staked a claim for a tract of land on the moon.  It resulted in mainstream news coverage around the world.

And now he’s gone.  Nicki and I had visited the Coles several times at their home in Ventura in the years since that 1993 Worldcon, the last time in the summer of 2018 on our way up the California coast to Worldcon 76 in San Jose.  Les had just returned from a short stay in the hospital and was not feeling well, so we spent most of our time talking to Esther.  We departed fearing that we may not see Les again, and maybe not Esther either since we don’t get out that way very often.  But when I told her gently that I this might be the last time we’d ever cross paths, she just smiled and told me: “We won’t let it be.” 

I’m sorry that I won’t be seeing Les again, and I’m missing him.  But as for Esther, I’m going to try very much to make sure she is right.

Elyse Rosenstein Has Died

Elyse Rosenstein in 1982. Photo courtesy Steve Rosenstein.

By Andrew Porter: North Bellmore, NY, fan Elyse Rosenstein, 69, died suddenly on February 20th. She had been undergoing rehabilitation after suffering a broken leg. At the time of her death, she was a retired secondary school science teacher. 

With Joyce Yasner, Joan Winston, Linda Deneroff and Devra Langsam, she organized the very first Star Trek convention, held in NYC in 1972. The convention was not only the very first media convention,  it was also the biggest science fiction convention to date by a considerable margin.

As Rosenstein recounted at a Star Trek convention held at the Javits Center in NYC which commemorated the 50th anniversary of Star Trek on NBC, she, with her friend and fellow fan Devra Langsam, first conceived the idea of the convention.

“For some unknown reason I turned to her and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat to have a science fiction convention for just ‘Star Trek?’ and she turned to me and said, ‘Yeah,’ we could invite 500 of our most intimate friends,’” she explained. “If she’d said that it was a terrible idea, none of this would have happened.”

At the time, Star Trek fans were often looked down on by many science fiction fans, who were more into books and magazines than TV shows. The pair hoped that a convention specifically geared towards Star Trek would do a lot to bring fans together. The rest, as they say, is fan history.

With her then husband Steve Rosenstein, in the early 1970s she ran Nova Enterprises, which sold Trek-related products. She was an Honorary lifetime member of Lunarians, chaired the 1983 Lunacon, and worked on many Lunacon committees. And she was nicknamed “The Screaming Yellow Zonker” by Isaac Asimov.

Elyse Rosenstein had a BS in physics and math, and an MS in physics, and taught science for more than two decades. She was a member of the New York Academy of Sciences and the Long Island Physics Teachers Association. She was featured in numerous honors publications, including multiple editions of Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Education, and Who’s Who of American Women

She is survived by her son, Michael.

Remembering “The Ragman’s Son”

By Steve Vertlieb: Legendary Hollywood screen star Kirk Douglas has died. His Ace In The Hole was his Lust For Life, and live he did for 103 years. Born Issur Danielovitch on December 9th, 1916, Douglas was born to poverty as “The Ragman’s Son,” vowing to overcome his humble beginnings, and escape the challenge and limitations of an ordinary life. He was the very last of the male superstars of what has come to be known as The Golden Age of Hollywood.

Douglas was an extraordinary actor, possessed with a burning intensity to achieve and overcome his humble Jewish beginnings. He was, at times, perceived as angry in his all-consuming quest to achieve respect and admiration by his peers. It was his inner rage, however, that inspired performance after performance of mounting intensity and commitment to his chosen craft.

As Rick Martin in Young Man With A Horn, based loosely upon the life of jazz trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke, Douglas portrayed a lonely, isolated musician whose only friend was his horn, and whose only joy was the music born of his soul. His self-destructive ways and behavior, often in conflict with his musical genius, nearly destroyed him but, in the end, gave birth to a Phoenix rising from the ashes of emotional despair, to play amongst the stars.

In Billy Wilder’s Ace In The Hole (alternately known as The Big Carnival) Douglas played an embittered newspaper reporter, using the tragedy of a small town man trapped in a mine to cynically ride to the top once more in a big city paper. In Vincent Minnelli’s The Bad And The Beautiful, as film producer Jonathan Shields, Douglas uses any device he can to achieve respect and success within the film industry, inspiring both hatred and admiration along that troubled journey.

It was with Vincent Minnelli’s Lust For Life, however, that Douglas revealed his inner torment most effectively, as Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. His anguish as the lonely artist, fighting emotional demons, as well as his personal struggle to achieve recognition and respect, is at times difficult to watch, but remains among the greatest performances of postwar cinema. Lushly conceived by both Minnelli and Douglas, Lust For Life is blessed with a torrid, rapturous score by Oscar winning composer Miklos Rozsa which musically illustrates the actor’s intense, impassioned performance.

As an activist for social change and democracy, Douglas fought for civil rights and, with director Otto Preminger who offered screen credit to the writer on Exodus, ended Joseph McCarthy’s notorious blacklist in America by giving Dalton Trumbo full screen credit for writing the screenplay for Spartacus.

I was fortunate to have an opportunity to meet Kirk Douglas and spend ten minutes with him in 1974 on the set of The Gene London Show in Philadelphia during his cross-country tour promoting Scalawag, and was impressed by his culture and civility. I asked him about his impressions of working with director Michael Curtiz on Young Man With A Horn, and he appeared intrigued by their remembered collaboration. When his publicist urged him to end our conversation and leave the station for their next interview, Douglas raised his hand and said “Wait a minute. I’m talking to this gentleman.” He had become a mensch.

I shall always love Kirk Douglas for, along with Spencer Tracy and James Mason, he will ever remain among my life long favorite actors. He overcame his humble beginnings and, as with many of the characters that he chose to play, achieved the respect and admiration that he fought so valiantly to achieve. Actor, producer, writer, social activist, and philanthropist, Kirk Douglas shared his lust for life and living with all of us and, in so doing, elevated the popular culture to artistic heights never before imagined, and made our world an infinitely better place in which to live.

Remembering Gene London

Steve Vertlieb and Gene London in 1981.
  • Gene London: June 9, 1931 – January 19, 2020

By Steve Vertlieb: Gene London was one of the most beloved children’s television hosts in Philadelphia broadcast history. Gene hosted “Cartoon Corners,” and “The Gene London Show” on WCAU TV, the owned and operated CBS affiliate for decades here in the City of Brotherly Love. Born Eugene Norman Yulish on June 9, 1931, this sweet, gentle soul became an integral part of Philadelphia broadcast history, and a pioneer of children’s television, enriching young, impressionable lives and minds with his soft, endearing manner and tender persona. He was, perhaps, as cherished a television personality locally as Mister Rogers was nationally. Gene, however, was ours. He belonged to Philadelphia, and we adored him. Generations of children grew up in the light of his subtle wisdom and infinite compassion.

Early in 1981, Gene produced and hosted a four-week series at the prestigious Philadelphia Art Museum on The Parkway, exploring filmdom’s rich cultural history. Titled “Hollywood Screen Fantasies,” the series entertained a live audience on four successive Sunday mornings, and presented such Hollywood luminaries as Margaret Hamilton (the Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz), and acclaimed puppeteer Bill Baird who operated Julie Andrews’ marionettes in The Sound of Music. One of Gene guests during that cherished series was myself. Gene invited me to appear with him in front of a live audience to discuss the making and production of the original King Kong. We appeared on stage together for an hour discussing the ins and outs of the classic 1933 fantasy classic, and the experience remains one of the happiest memories of my seventy-four years.

Gene and I remained in touch, ever friends, for nearly forty years. He would periodically invite me to join him for some new live appearance or project. I last saw Gene at The Philadelphia Flower Show several years ago when he graced the halls of the large convention center with his gracious affection and remembrances. Children of all ages stood in line for hours to say hello to the little boy who had helped to shape their hearts … for Gene was, in truth, a little boy himself. He could relate to his many thousands of children because he was, in his heart, a gentle innocent, a loving, inspired child. Gene never entirely grew up and it is for this reason that we were so blessed by his goodness.

Rest Well, Sweet Prince. You shall remain forever vital, alive, and beloved by all those whose lives you so wonderfully touched and enriched.

[The family obituary is here.]