Pixel Scroll 10/3/19 I’d Like To Scroll A Pixel, I’d Like To Tick A Box, I’d Like To Read A Book So Good It Launches My Two Socks

(1) 1990 SOUVENIR BOOK. To help promote the planned Reunicon 2020 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of ConFiction 1990, Kees Van Toorn and friends have uploaded the Souvenir Book of ConFiction 1990 on their website in flipbook format.

(2) GAME OF THE NAME. If you have the Scrivener writing app, something you can get it to do for you is make up character names (see “How to Use Scrivener’s Name Generator” at Fairies, Zombies and Agent Queries.) Here’s Exhibit A:

(3) ANOTHER BITE OF THE APPLE. Magical mysteries unfold in Ghostwriter, coming November 1 to the Apple TV app with an Apple TV+ subscription.

According to TVLine, the upcoming reboot will center around four friends who discover a ghost in their neighborhood’s bookstore. This ghost seems to be decidedly less helpful than the Ghostwriter of the ‘90s; instead of helping the friends solve mysteries, he “releases” fictional characters from books into the real world. TVLine adds that each episode will highlight a particular book or novel.

(4) KAFKAESQUE CRIME. CrimeRead’s Peter Steiner calls him — “Franz Kafka: Misunderstood Crime Author”. Tagline: “How The Trial upended what we know about crime fiction.”

…Kafka’s language does not arouse suspicion, but it should. He describes the goings on with great precision, objectively noting peculiar elements, odd turns of events, strange settings and physical characteristics as a scientist might describe what he sees through a microscope, giving nothing special place, offering no opinion or emotional reaction, as though everything that takes place is equally worthy of notation. Random, apparently peripheral elements get the same attention as the most dramatic happenings. The supervising inspector arranges objects around a candle that sits on a night table he is using as a desk. He places his index fingers side by side as though comparing their length. Three men Josef K. does not seem to know examine a framed picture on a wall. But these are not clues, for K. or for us. They are disconnected observations that lead nowhere, that add up to nothing.

The disconnect between Kafka’s language and what is being described is what unsettles. Shocking, bizarre, and funny moments are described in the most mundane and unemotional language. Kafka has no reaction to anything himself and gives no clues how we should react. His almost pedantic detail and dry tone cast things in an oddly familiar light.

(5) LE GUIN AND MUSIC. [Item by Rob Thornton.] At the Electric Literature website, writer and editor Tobias Carroll wonders “Why Has Ursula K. Le Guin Inspired So Many Musicians?” He discusses how musicians are not only  mentioning her works in song titles and lyrics, they are also grappling with the themes from Le Guin’s stories in their works. Bands such as Baltimore dream-pop duo Beach House, heavy metal bands Keep of Kalessin and Ragana, and San Francisco darkwave act Cold Beat are mentioned:

“[Cold Beat songwriter] spoke about the potential of science fiction to offer a glimpse of a better world. ‘When we broaden our vocabulary and learn more, there’s a lot out there to discover,’ she said. ‘I think it’s inspiring, especially when we’re getting down. It’s really healthy to remember that there’s a lot more out there.’ It’s the same kind of thought experiment that one might see in an Ursula K. Le Guin essay or story?—?albeit in the process of being transfigured into a catchy and propulsive song. And while Le Guin’s own foray into music hasn’t necessarily spawned a legion of sound-alikes, the fact that she felt compelled to create such a work suggests that she left room in her writings for music—a gateway that this group of musicians has passed through, creating memorable work as they go. “‘

To prove Carroll’s point, there are other bands who have somehow made Le Guin a part of their music, including Ekumen (a hardcore punk band from New Orleans), Spanish Kalte Sonne (a post-metal band from Spain with an album named Ekumen), Fogweaver (Earthsea-inspired dungeon synth act from Colorado), and Street Eaters (punk band from San Francisco) among others.

(6) A GOOD OMEN FOR BUYERS. AudioFile applauds Michael Sheen’s narration of Philip Pullman’s The Secret Commonwealth (Book of Dust, volume 2) here.

Michael Sheen throws himself wholeheartedly into narrating this sequel to LA BELLE SAUVAGE, and listeners will be rapt. Lyra is now 20, and she and her daemon, Pantalaimon, are uneasy with each other in ways they never have been before. This central conflict is the catalyst for a series of journeys and is just one of many, many threads that Pullman will presumably pick up again in the final volume in the Book of Dust trilogy. For the ever-expanding international cast of characters, Sheen conjures a multitude of accents and delivers rapid-fire conversations between them. He’s in step with the text at every turn; when situations become fraught or dangerous, Sheen ramps up the tension exquisitely…

(7) LISTEN TO LONDO. AudioFile also tips a Babylon 5 actor’s voicing of J. Michael Straczynski’s Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood:

If you’re going to reveal your life story, it’s good to have a friend and fellow “Babylon 5” cast member perform it. Peter Jurasik, known to “Babylon 5” fans as the sleazy alien Londo Mollari, narrates the startling life of the series creator, J. Michael Straczynski, and his victories over a monstrous father, an abusive family, and, seemingly, an entire world out to destroy him. Jurasik soberly recounts his friend’s life, a fascinating, almost unbelievable, tale of courage and determination.

(8) BIRTH OF LASFS. More delving into the past of LA fandom at Rob Hansen’s fanhistory website THEN: “Vernon Harry and the Birth of LASFS” (originally, LASFL).

The birth of the Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League was announced in the pages of the February 1935 issue of WONDER STORIES, thus:

(9) FLYING OUT OF MY… Here’s a problem most of us don’t have — “Google faces winged-monkey privacy protest”.

Google has angered a privacy expert by repeatedly identifying him as a “dwarf character actor” famous for playing a winged monkey in The Wizard of Oz.

Pat Walshe told BBC News he had had the issue resolved twice, only to discover last week it had happened again.

The issue involves his photo being run next to text from another source about a dead American who had the same name.

He now aims to make an official complaint to data privacy watchdogs. Google has once again fixed the flaw.

(10) METCALF OBIT. Longtime fan Norm Metcalf (1937-2019) died September 21, within a few months after he was hospitalized for injuries sustained in a fall.

Robert Lichtman remembers:

I knew him via the science fiction fan subculture, where he published a fanzine, New Frontiers, that saw four issues (1959-1964) with noteworthy contributors including Poul Anderson, Anthony Boucher, Stanton Coblentz,  L. Sprague de Camp, August Derleth and Wilson Tucker.  He was a longtime member of several amateur publishing associations —  the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA) 1963-1969 and 1973 to the present, and the Spectator Amateur Press Society (SAPS) 1961-1967 and 1987 to the present — and published a variety of titles for their mailing distributions.  He also researched and edited a reference, The Index of Science Fiction Magazines 1951-1965, which was published in 1968.  Norm was a serious student of science fiction.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 3, 1961A For Andromeda aired “The Message”, the premier episode. Written by Fred Hoyle and John Elliot, this UK series was broadcast in seven episodes. As was the practice at the time, the BBC’s copies of the serial were trashed after broadcast and most of the serial still remains missing.
  • October 3, 2000 — The Dark Angel series first aired. Starring Jessica Alba, it would run for two seasons. It was executive produced by James Cameron, Charles H. Eglee andRené Echevarria. 
  • October 3, 2008 Star Wars: The Clone Wars debuted on the Cartoon Network. created by George Lucas and produced by Lucasfilm Animation, the series is was renewed for a seventy season to air in 2020. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 3, 1874 Charles Middleton. He is no doubt best remembered for his role as the Emperor Ming the Merciless in the three Flash Gordon serials made between 1936 and 1940 which may been the only genre production he appeared in. (Died 1949.)
  • Born October 3, 1927 Don Bensen. Best-known for his novel And Having Writ… which is not in print in form digitally or in hard copy — damn it. Indeed, nothing by him is. Huh. (Died 1997.)
  • Born October 3, 1931 Ray Nelson, 88. SF writer best known for his short story “Eight O’Clock in the Morning” which was the basis of John Carpenter’s They Live.  He later collaborated with Philip K. Dick on The Ganymede Takeover. In the 1940s Nelson appropriated the propeller beanie as a symbol of science fiction fandom. His fannish cartoons were recognized with the Rotsler Award in 2003. He was inducted to the First Fandom Hall of Fame this year.
  • Born October 3, 1935 Madlyn Rhue. She on Trek’s “Space Seed” as Lt. Marla McGivers, Khan Noonien Singh’s (Ricardo Montalbán) love interest. Other genre appearances included being on the original Fantasy Island as Lillie Langtry in “Legends,” and Maria in the “Firefall” episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. (Died 2003.)
  • Born October 3, 1944 Katharine Kerr, 75. Ok I’m going to confess that I’ve not read her Deverry series so please tell me how they are. Usually I do read such Celtic tinged series so I don’t know how I missed them.
  • Born October 3, 1964 — Clive Owen, 55. First role I saw him in was the title role of Stephen Crane in the Chancer series. Not genre, but fascinating none the less. He’s been King Arthur in film of the same name where Keira Knightley was Guinevere. He’s also was in Sin City as Dwight McCarthy, and in The Pink Panther (though weirdly uncredited) as Nigel Boswell/Agent 006. I’ll also single him out for being Commander Arun Filitt in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
  • Born October 3, 1973 Lena Headey, 46. Many of you will know her as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, but I liked her sociopathic Madeline “Ma-Ma” Madrigal on Dredd better.  She was also Angelika in The Brothers Grimm, a film I’m sure I’ve seen but remember nothing about. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) EAT YOUR GREENS. Taste of Home promises “Nestle’s New Grinch Cookie Dough Is Mean, Green and Perfect for the Holidays”.  

The Grinch is one of our all-time favorite Christmas movies, so this cookie dough is a holiday miracle. The dough bakes into scrumptious, bright green sugar cookies made for a tall glass of milk. In theme with the story we all know and love, the Grinch cookie dough features an adorable red candy heart that brings the Dr. Seuss character to life. It’s the perfect thing to bake with the kiddos (or just yourself) this year.

(15) NO BUCKS, NO BUCK ROGERS. The Washington Post’s Christian Davenport, reporting from Boca Chica Island, Texas, discusses the construction of Elon Musk’s spaceport on the Texas coast and the irony of having one of the world’s richest men building in one of the nation’s poorest counties: “Elon Musk’s improbable Mars quest runs through a border town concerned with more than getting to space”.

…But now, across the water on South Padre Island, the county has spent about $31 million building new pavilions and an amphitheater that would host concerts and weddings and make a prime viewing area for rocket launches. Local officials hope for a future where residents and tourists line the beach, the way they have for years along Florida’s Space Coast, cheering rockets as they tear through the sky.

“It’s exciting,” said Sofia Benavides, a county commissioner who represents Boca Chica. “I’m 69 years old and have never been to a rocket launch. For my children and grandchildren, it’s great that this is happening in their backyard.”

Not everyone is cheering, though.

A handful of residents who live next door to SpaceX’s facilities recently received letters from SpaceX, which said the company’s footprint in the area was going to be bigger and more disruptive than originally imagined. As a result, it was seeking to purchase their properties at three times the value determined by an appraiser hired by SpaceX. The deal was nonnegotiable, the letter said, and the company wanted an answer within two weeks, although some have received extensions.

Called Boca Chica Village, the area is made up of about 30 homes within walking distance of the Gulf of Mexico, occupied mostly seasonally. Many are boarded up. A few have weeds as high as the mailboxes….

(16) SNUBS. Travis M. Andrews’ “The Missing Oscars” in the Washington Post is about actors he thinks should have won Oscars but didn’t.  About a third of the people he picked were in sf or fantasy films, including Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, Michael Keaton for Beetlejuice, and Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix.  (Most of the actors he picked in sf and fantasy films were men.)

John Lithgow for
“The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension” (1984)

Lithgow’s primary strength as an actor is range. Look at his portrayal of long-standing, slow-burning dedication in “Love is Strange,” or his take on an alien trying to understand humanity in “3rd Rock From the Sun,” or as a hardline preacher who can’t tolerate dancing in “Footloose.” At times he’s also, to use a colloquialism, realllllllly gone for it, like when he portrayed a man with multiple personalities in “Raising Cain.” That role bordered on parody, but his most extravagant performance was parody, as Lord John Whorfin/Dr. Emilio Lizardo in Earl Mac Rauch’s and W.D. Richter’s sci-fi sendup. To play the mad intergalactic doctor, Lithgow lifted an Italian accent from an MGM tailor and changed his walk to that of an “old crab, because my alien metabolism is supposed to be messed up,” he later explained. The bizarre result is a deeply committed performance that’s wildly over-the-top and a singular, hilarious character.

(17) AI. Nature’s review ofStuart Russell’s latest book examines how artificial intelligence could spin out of control: “Raging robots, hapless humans: the AI dystopia.” Full review article here (open access).

In Human Compatible, his new book on artificial intelligence (AI), Stuart Russell confronts full on what he calls “the problem of control”. That is, the possibility that general-purpose AI will ultimately eclipse the intellectual capacities of its creators, to irreversible dystopian effect.

The control problem is not new. Novelist Samuel Butler’s 1872 science-fiction classic Erewhon, for instance, features concerns about robotic superhuman intelligences that enslave their anthropoid architects, rendering them “affectionate machine-tickling aphids”. But, by 1950, Norbert Wiener, the inventor of cybernetics, was writing (in The Human Use of Human Beings) that the danger to society “is not from the machine itself but from what man makes of it”. Russell’s book in effect hangs on this tension: whether the problem is controlling the creature, or the creator. In a sense, that has been at the core of AI from its inception…

(18) APOLLO’S CREED. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the September 28 Financial Times (behind a paywall), Arwa Haider profiles the London Video Game Orchestra, a 65-piece orchestra that will perform Assassin’s Creed Symphony at the Eventim Apollo in London on October 5. Haider interviewed the founder of MGP Live, concert producer Massimo Goletta.

In an era when the entertainment industry is obsessed with ‘immersive’ events, video game concerts also present the possibility of grand spectacle on a globalized scale, such as MGP Live’s tours of classic gaming soundtracks,  Its current show Assassin’s Creed Symphony, based on the historic action-adventure series (and co-developed with its creators, Ubisoft) premiered in Paris over the summer and elicited a six-minute standing ovation at the Palais des Congrès.  It is now embarking on an autumn tour of the US and Europe, with a full international tour planned next year.  The company works with local musicians, rather than transporting an 80-piece instrumental and choral line-up from country to country….

…Video game concerts may in fact offer a financially savvy form of ‘future-proofing’ for traditional orchestras.  A recent GlobalData reported estimated that video games could be a $300bn industry by 2025.And with each passing year and the library of games growing, the bigger the repertoire MGP Live will have to draw on. The Assassin’s Creed Symphony draws on a series that spans more than a decade, and blends what Goletta describes as ‘the epic beauty and drama of the themes.’ He enthuses, ‘There are parallels with Beethoven and Bach, then elements of world music–along with the nostalgic effect.”

The London Video Game Orchestra’s website is here.

(19) DEADPOOL DEATH. Officials have determined “’Safety failures’ led to death of Deadpool 2 stuntwoman” says BBC.

An investigation into a stuntwoman’s death on the Vancouver set of Deadpool 2 has attributed her fatal motorcycle accident to a series of safety errors.

Government agency WorkSafeBC said the film’s makers should have ensured Joi Harris was wearing a helmet.

It also said barriers should have been in place to stop her “leaving the set perimeter” on 14 August 2017.

20th Century Fox, which made the 2018 film, said it “respectfully disagree[d] with some of the report’s findings”.

“Safety is our top priority, and while we respectfully disagree with some of the report’s findings, Fox thoroughly reviewed its stunt safety protocols immediately following the tragic accident and has revised and implemented enhanced safety procedures and enforcement,” it said in a statement.

Professional road racer Harris was killed while doubling for actress Zazie Beetz in the comic book-inspired sequel.

(20) WOMAN WINS HORROR FILM AWARD. “Horror film wins first-time director Rose Glass £50,000 award”

A film-maker who set her first feature in the traditionally male-dominated horror genre has won a £50,000 prize.

Rose Glass, 30, was named the winner of the IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary Award at a ceremony held on the eve of this year’s London Film Festival.

Her film, Saint Maud, tells of a devout young nurse who becomes the full-time carer of a chronically ill dancer.

Danny Boyle, chair of the jury, called the film “a thrilling cinematic journey through madness, faith and death”.

…The bursary, one of the largest arts prizes in the UK, allows film-makers at the start of their careers time to grow and develop.

(21) KEEP WATCHING THE SKIES. [Item by Chip Hitchcock.] “Canadian mint releases UFO-themed glow-in-the-dark coin”. See picture — since when does Canada have rectangular coins? Or is this some new meaning o the word “coin” that I haven’t previously been acquainted with?

Over 50 years ago, on the night of 4 October, strange lights appeared over the sky of a small Canadian fishing village.

Witnesses watched as the lights flashed and then dived towards the dark waters off the coast of Nova Scotia.

Now, what some believe to have been a UFO sighting has been commemorated by the Royal Canadian Mint.

The mint has released a collector’s coin that tells the story of a “unique and mysterious event”.

The scene on the glow-in-the-dark coin depicts a specific moment described by various eyewitnesses.

After seeing four strange flashing lights in the offshore night sky, they spotted an object 60-feet in length flying low, which dropped down at a 45 degree angle.

The coin comes with a flashlight that when used brings out the lights of the UFO, the stars in the night sky, and a haze over the water reported by locals.

(22) HAUNTED FIXER UPPER. Girl on the Third Floor is due out October 25, streaming, or limited theatrical release.

At the heart of the film is Don Koch (CM Punk), a man who is failing as a husband. For years he has skated by on charm and charisma, until it nearly landed him in jail. He now views fixing up an old house as a chance to make up for past mistakes. Meanwhile, his wife, Liz Koch, is concerned about the renovation timeline as they have a baby on the way. With all this pressure it’s no wonder Don responds to the flirtations of an attractive stranger. As Don tears the house apart, it begins to tear him apart as well, revealing the rot behind the drywall.

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Rob Thornton, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little.]

39 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 10/3/19 I’d Like To Scroll A Pixel, I’d Like To Tick A Box, I’d Like To Read A Book So Good It Launches My Two Socks

  1. (9) I suspect Margaret Hamilton the computer scientist has/had similar confusions with Margaret Hamilton the Wicked Witch of the East/West.

    (16) Oh, how I love that movie (some friends rented it (and a VCR) one evening in college (in a double feature with the Wizard of Oz)).

  2. 7) Amanda and I thoroughly enjoyed that audiobook. Peter Jurasik gives a great performance … and I think Becoming Superman might be the best thing JMS has done. (And I’m a fan of B5)

  3. (12) My favorite Lena Headey role is as the title character in The Sarah Connor Chronicles .

  4. (9) See also Isabel Cooper (our Izzy). And the Roberta Wilson who wrote “Watching Fishes” doesn’t do aromatherapy books (I know her).

  5. (21) The Canadian Mint has been churning out a crazy amount of “collector” coins for years (though most are round). Honestly, the number of commemorative quarters got so bad that it was a treat to find a regular one..
    They do run a great tour in Ottawa, though.

  6. (12) Katharine Kerr’s Deverry series is lush fantasy about a young man with wizarding skills and no brain who makes a vow that leads to his extraordinarily long life, in pursuit of righting a terrible wrong. She writes so well that the glimpses of the historical characters and the “present-day” characters balance each other in compelling alternate chapters. Personally, I think the series lost its intensity in the very latter books, but she sustained an incredible long arc of stories with the reincarnated souls. Well worth reading.

    Post-fifth!

  7. @8: so what are the numbers — were people still being individually signed up to some marketing idea of Gernsback’s?

    @12: The Brothers Grimm is seriously strange — in other words, typical Terry Gilliam; Lena Headey may play the sanest character in it. It also has a lot of fun playing with fantasy tropes.

  8. SF Reading, er, Listening: I finished @Marshall Ryan Maresca’s A Murder of Mages (Maradaine Constabulary #1) in audio earlier today and it was great!

    The audiobook “cover” is absurd, like a 90s romance between a lawyer and a professor (not sure which is which) in modern clothing. Gak, so innacurate! The paperback’s cover, though, is perfect for the novel. The sequel’s audiobook “cover” continues the baffling theme, while the paperback again looks good. Audible’s designers were smoking something weird. I wonder if anyone bought the audiobooks focused more on the cover and just skimming the description and were highly confused by what they heard. 😉

    Anyway, this fantasy novel stars experienced Inspector Welling (an untrained perhaps-neuro-atypical??? mage with imperfect control of his magic) and newbie Inspector Rainey (who lies and forges her way to an inspectorship at the start of the novel to earn enough to keep her family afloat – two daughters and her vegetative husband, injured in the line of duty as an inspector).

    Their first case is the ritual murder of a mage. They work in a “wrong side of the tracks” poor neighborhood Rainey grew up in and hates returning to. The book’s got action, intrigue, magic, a great pair of inspectors, colorful side characters, and a nicely gritty setting.

    The narrators are very good; they used a woman and a man to narrate the parts from Rainey’s and Welling’s points of view. But both do well voicing the other role, making me wonder why they used two. Still, they’re quite good, so I’m not complaining. 😉

    Highly recommended! I look forward to the sequel, but I’m proceeding in publication order, so I just bought the audiobook of The Alchemy of Chaos, which continues the Maradaine sub-series (Veranix/the Thorn). 🙂 Then I’ll come back to Welling & Rainey with An Import of Intrigue.

    ETA: Then I’ll hope the next audiobooks of whichever sub-series (these two or one of the other two) are out! Audible lists two more but says “not available.” Hopefully that means ” . . . yet.”

  9. (3) ANOTHER BITE OF THE APPLE. That sounds kinda nifty, but will these “released” characters be from real books? But I’m guessing this is aimed a little young for me. Uh, plus me not having Apple TV+, of course. 😉 If anyone watches this when it comes out, please report to your local File 770, though!

  10. Title credit, you say? Thanks, and glad you liked it!

    (I only know the song at all because a high school friend put it on a mix tape she made for me, along with several other King Missile songs, including “Sex with You” and the one about how “I guess the world will have to end without Willie.” I don’t think the album with “Detachable Penis” had come out yet. She put that song on a later mix tape though.)

  11. 12) It is remarkable how quickly They Live went from satire to documentary. In the past few days I have developed the urge to watch it and Dark Star as a double feature – particularly since I will be driving through Benson, Arizona twice next month. (And performing the song at Tuscon, if I come up with an arrangement that satisfies me and practice that low note enough.)

    12bis) The Deverry books win high praise from me, and I eagerly await the next one that Kerr is writing.

  12. “Londo Calrissian, Emperor the Scolltauri Republic, protector of the Cloud Mines, and insisting that Han Scrollo filed first”

  13. Don Bensen was probably better known as an editor at Pyramid Books and others, and was, if I recall correctly, instrumental in publishing Cordwainer Smith’s The Planet Buyer and The Underpeople, splitting the one big novel into two parts (later restored as Norstrilia). He was planning on attending the 1979 NASFIC in Louisville but had to cancel. To apologize, he sent me a copy of his novel And Having Writ… inscribed to me “…but alas not having seen.”

  14. 15) A more fair alternative offer for actual residents would be a straight-up swap for a local property of greater value, possibly involving relocating existing structures to it. You shouldn’t have to give up living in the area where you live, and you should get to share in the prosperity that comes with disruption. Assuming the prosperity comes.

  15. @8 Chip: Those would be their Science Fiction League membership numbers. A copy of the spiffy Science Fiction League membership certificate is reprinted on the back of my book. This was Walter Gillings’s and assigned him membership 969, so he was a bit tardy in joining up.

  16. (5) Not mentioned in the article, but certainly of interest, is Le Guin’s collaboration with composer David Bedford: Rigel 9.

  17. I always hated that depiction of me—second from the bottom—on the ConFiction Program Book. It makes me look like I have a swollen jaw, and am really angry about it. Joe Haldeman, top artwork, also didn’t look very much like his actual self.

    As Bob Roehm notes, Don Bensen was primarily known for being the SF editor—and buyer of cover art, and designer of said covers—at Pyramid Books. He bought a lot of major SF works there and was held in high regard by many. I visited him in his office at 444 Madison Avenue, at the time the Newsweek Building, several times, and have some good photos of him.

    For a good overview of Pyramid—which was sold several times, ultimately disappearing, see the Wikipedia page under “Jove Books”:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jove_Books

    This shows what a major force in SF Pyramid, under Don, was at the time.

  18. Bob Roehm notes Don Bensen was probably better known as an editor at Pyramid Books and others, and was, if I recall correctly, instrumental in publishing Cordwainer Smith’s The Planet Buyer and The Underpeople, splitting the one big novel into two parts (later restored as Norstrilia). He was planning on attending the 1979 NASFIC in Louisville but had to cancel. To apologize, he sent me a copy of his novel And Having Writ… inscribed to me “…but alas not having seen.”

    I knew he’d edited Cordwainer Smith while running that House but the online sources I use had no details on what or how he’d edited that particular author. Publishers it seems have always had an aversion to really thick novels.

    I tend to pitch my well known proposition as attaining to SFF readers in general, not hardcore fans like us. Those SFF readers have not a clue who edited a given book or indeed Care which House published it. All they want to know is how they get a copy to read.

  19. I knew he’d edited Cordwainer Smith while running that House but the online sources I use had no details on what or how he’d edited that particular author. Publishers it seems have always had an aversion to really thick novels.

    By modern standards, Norstrilia is undersized; I estimate the NESFA Press version at maybe 100,000 words (221pp, slightly denser than a paperback). But publishers that far back had pretty strict limits for genre work (and possibly for most writers who weren’t big enough stars to get hardback originals); I vaguely recall that 60k was considered standard.

  20. For the general information of people trying to comment here: If your comment ends “…is this still trolling, Mike?” — it is. And aren’t we all surprised?

  21. #2: Now I want to read a book about Sir Balthazar Foil and his strange and tragic adventures! Can you imagine his banner? His horse? His horse’s NAME???

  22. @OGH, yes, it’s like statements that start with “No offense, but….”

    There will be offense. Every. Single. Time.

  23. (12) Another Deverry fan here: I just finished a reread – or, rather, I finally got to finish the series but it was an excuse to start from the beginning again. And it’s impressive how she keeps tight control on the multiple time frames that the story is told in, with themes weaving back and forth in interesting ways.

  24. @OGH @Cassy B.

    Also, any sentence that begins: “I’m not a (whatever)ist, but…”

    No. Just leave off the “but.” The first four words of the sentence in and of themselves are a confession that you are indeed a (whatever)ist.

  25. 1) I didn’t attend ConFiction in 1990, mainly because I didn’t know it existed, since it’s still the closest WorldCon to me ever, only a four hour ride away.

    So I’m wondering whether it would be worthwhile to go to Reunicon, considering it is only four hours away. Plus, it’s actually in the Scheveningen district of Den Haag, which is a nice beach resort.

  26. @Cora Buhlert — I was surprised you were closer to The Hague than to Heidelberg, but I see from a map that Heidelberg is further south than I remembered. (I was there briefly 55 years ago, while waiting for the conversion plant to finish our VW camper.)

  27. @Chip Hitchcock
    Heidelberg is further away, even though it’s in the same country, while Den Haag is not. But I live only one and a half hours from the Dutch border and the Netherlands is not a very big country.

    Not that I could have attended Heidelberg anyway, even though I have family there, because I wasn’t born yet.

  28. 12) There are a number of copies of “And Having Writ” on Ebay.

    Also 12) I think the first four Deverry books are the best, but Kerr is an excellent writer, and a master of her craft.

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