By John Hertz: Paul Turner has died (1936-2019).
He left our stage near the end of last month. His son called me. I reported to the October 24th meeting of Paul’s club and mine, the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. I still have few data.
Paul had been living alone in the Kern County desert, near Johannesburg (pop. 172). I had visited him there. He and his son and I drove to the 76th World Science Fiction Convention (San Jose, 2018). The widow of a friend found his remains.
Paul was given the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the LASFS in 1964. He was Fan Guest of Honor at Loscon XX in 1993 (our local convention; Loscon XLVI will be 29 Nov – 1 Dec 2019).
He invented the LASFS Building Fund. Jerry Pournelle told him “You’re out of your mind.” Paul said “Sure I am.” He nurtured the Fund for quite a while until, leaf by niggle, it had grown to what would in today’s money be a low five-figure sum. This not quite infinitely improbable result sparked Bruce Pelz, whom Paul had earlier defeated for head of the Club, at the time called Director, later President. In the following while, we all, including Bruce, discovered Bruce’s ability to get money out of stones. Or maybe we were turnips. The LASFS got a clubhouse, outgrew it and got another, outgrew it and got a third, outgrew it and is now hunting a fourth.
Paul couldn’t attend the LASFS’ 75th anniversary celebration (founded 1934!) but gave me some remarks to read for him, which I did, and you can see here.
You can also see some of him occasioned later by the LASFS’ 4,000th meeting. Look here.
He was a good friend to, among many others, Bill Rotsler. Here’s a photo I’ve long liked that Len Moffatt took of Bill and Paul at Westercon XIX.
Bill may be displaying better judgment by carrying his blaster in a holster than Paul is by drinking Miller beer. I hasten to add I for another while worked happily with a man named Miller who kept on a shelf in his office a neon sign saying “It’s Miller time”. These things have a subjective element.
Paul was an electrical engineer and worked on the Space Shuttle. I’m only a lawyer. We didn’t talk of science too much – although lawyers are engineers, and to some extent scientists. We did talk of shoes – and ships – and sealing wax – of cabbages – and kings; usually by phone after he’d moved to the desert; sometimes at length. I don’t remember getting to why the sea is boiling hot. I think it’s the influence of the Sun, myself.
A woman he knew said, when I called her after his death, that he could show an indomitable spirit. She didn’t mean the time the three of us went to hear Yuja Wang play piano at Disney Concert Hall. We all thought Yuja Wang was swell, and in fact indomitable. It was more like the time Paul went climbing alone in the Sierras, and somehow got two counties’ rescue forces looking for him and giving up saying he couldn’t be found, after which he emerged, hungry and thirsty from lack of food and water, but safe. He was a couple of years short of eighty then.
He shared, with a friend we had in common, a love of hot, I mean spicy, food. Once when Paul and I met for breakfast at a Vietnamese restaurant, each ordering a bowl of pho, noodle soup (Vietnamese uses diacritical marks, which I leave out), Paul tasted his broth, threw in his slices of hot peppers and mine, put in some black sauce, added enough orange sauce that his bowl was glistening radioactive orange, and called over the waiter to ask “Don’t you have any hot food in this restaurant?”
One of his unexecuted ideas was Project 44. He considered building a compass dial outdoors with each of its 44 points – I never did ask why not 32 or 128 – named for a man or woman who had contributed outstanding guidance to humanity. Think about it. Whom would you put in? Whom leave out? Why her and not her? What a topic.
I thought of entitling this note “If you say so, King Solomon” (to whom is attributed the book Ecclesiastes, with “To every thing there is a season”), but I didn’t.
Requiescat in pace.