by John Hertz: (mostly reprinted from No Direction Home 20) “People,” I often hear, “love to watch people making things.” So I’ll open this window.
Spikecon was held on July 4-7, 2019, at Layton, Utah, combining Westercon LXXII (yearly; regional), the 13th NASFiC (North America Science Fiction Convention, held when the Worldcon is not in North America), Manticon 2019 (yearly; fans of David Weber’s Honor Harrington series and its Royal Manticoran Navy, i.e. Space navy), 1632 Minicon (yearly; fans of Eric Flint’s 1632 series).
The name “Spikecon” honored the 150th anniversary of the Final Spike completing the Transcontinental Railroad near the con site.
One of my adventures was conducting three Classics of SF discussions, as I have at various cons for a while.
I got to choose the three. Then – I knew the job was dangerous when I took it – I had to write a short note about each, ideally following my own rule “Reliable for the ignorant, amusing for the knowledgeable”. Man! – actually I don’t know your gender, so instead I’ll say Fan! – that’s hard. However, Castiglione (1478-1529) reminds us of the pleasure which is had when we achieve difficult things.
After blood, sweat, and tears, I thought I’d managed. Maybe you saw here what I felt content with.
But Spikecon wasn’t. Concerned to invite people who didn’t already know all about everything, the con asked me to revise. Not to dumb things down, I was told, just to be kinder.
This was a banner I’d long waved. I liked (and still do) the ones Our Gracious Host posted here and didn’t ask they be changed. But as to Spikecon, I accepted the reproof and tried again. My second version was accepted.
Now we’ve had the con, and the discussions, and all. You might not have seen both versions. You might like to. What do you think?
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Kuttner & Moore, “Mimsy Were the Borogoves” (1943)
The authors each said, after they married, anything under their names or their various pseudonyms was by both. Decades later, Tim Powers is known for explaining the real – i.e. SF – reason for something in history; here’s the real – i.e. SF – reason for something in fantasy; yet even that’s hardly the greatest element. The title alludes to Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass (1871), as we – maybe – eventually understand.
First published under one of the authors’ pseudonyms, it’s on this year’s Retro-Hugo ballot. The title is from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass (1871). Here, strange toys arrive, and the children playing with them get stranger. Eventually we are made to wonder if children are really caterpillars, in which case they – but that would be telling.
Heinlein, Rocket Ship “Galileo” (1947)
We’ve also come to the golden anniversary of the Glorious 20th, when humankind first set foot on the Moon. Decades earlier came this speculation. It isn’t, incidentally, a rocket ship built in a back yard; and as A.J. Budrys used to demand, it answers “Why are they telling us this?” Nor are these pioneers the first – nor yet the second.
We’ve come to the 50th anniversary of July 20, 1969, when humankind first set foot on the Moon. Decades earlier came the speculation of this book. What if someone put together a rocket ship capable of Moon travel, outside big government, big business, big everything? How might that happen? Then what?
Hoyle, October the First Is Too Late (1966)
This first-rate astronomer – he was knighted six years later – also wrote SF. In both fields he was famously willing to propose speculations far from others’. In science one may someday be proved right or wrong; fiction doesn’t work that way. We might say of this story It’s about time. Only maybe it isn’t. Maybe time isn’t.
This author, also a first-rate astronomer, was famous for proposing speculations far from others’. If you’ve seen that mad juggling troupe the Flying Karamazov Brothers, you know one of their wisecracks is “Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.” What if that wasn’t true – if everything was happening at once?
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Speaking of reminders, here are two from Kelly Freas: Art is about communication, and (the only criterion, he said, for judging an illustration) It has to make you want to read the book.