Pixel Scroll 11/10/18 This One Isn’t Like Other Pixel Scrolls, It Has Heart And Human Values

(1) OUT TO DRY. Daily Beast analyzes why corporations leave comics creators twisting in the winds of social media: “How Marvel and Corporate Comics Are Failing the ‘Vulnerable’ Creators Behind Their Superheroes”.

…Part of the trouble, Edidin says, is that comics is a prestige industry, which attracts people for whom the primary reward is simply getting to work in comics. And because there are always people clamoring to be part of the industry, even famous creators are ultimately disposable, and often disposed of. (The very existence of the Hero Initiative, which raises money for comics creators in need, testifies to this.) While the industry can be tight-knit and often supportive, it also leaves creators to fend for themselves. “You don’t really work in comics unless you really care about it, because it’s pretty much a guarantee that you’ll be low-paid,” Edidin says. “So what we’ve got at this point is an industry full of people who are exquisitely financially vulnerable, and who generally feel extremely passionate about what they do… and can’t afford to lose their work or their jobs. And that includes publishing employees.”

In such an environment, the standards for what kind of public speech is acceptable are often either left unclear or inconsistently applied. Simply staying off social media isn’t really an option for freelancers, especially those still working to become established, Edidin points out: having an active profile somewhere like Twitter is vital for networking, getting the word out about projects, and talking shop with fellow freelancers and enthusiasts. But because freelancers aren’t official employees, these social media accounts are—by definition—personal. Lines between personal opinions and professional ones are blurry, and few companies offer solid social media guidelines for dealing with them….”

(2) WHAT IT MEANS TO BELIEVE. Candidates for Arisia Inc. office Andy Piltser-Cowan and Jade Piltser-Cowan discuss what is meant by “’Believe Survivors’ vs. ‘Due Process’”.

This is a topic that we have been wanting to write on for a while.  It’s something Andy has grappled with over the years as an attorney of conscience whose job is sometimes to represent the accused, and other times the victim, and of course is also a member of society free to have his own opinions when not representing a client.

What do we mean when we say “believe women” or “believe survivors?”  Some folks say, “when you report a robbery, or a theft, or some other crime, nobody starts by asking how you fought back, what you were wearing, or whether you made it up.”  …

(3) THEY’LL BE IN DUBLIN. Next year’s Worldcon has released more names of people who have agreed to be on program: “Look Who’s Coming to Dublin 2019”.


November Early Confirm List

Elizabeth Bear
John Berlyne
Marie Brennan
S.A. Chakraborty
Paul Cornell
Jack Dann
Lucienne Diver
Cory Doctorow
Scott Edelman
Steven Erikson
Jo Fletcher
Sarah Gailey
Max Gladstone
Daryl Gregory
Joe Haldeman
Ju Honisch M.A.
SL Huang


Wataru Ishigame
James Patrick Kelly
Conor Kostick
Mary Robinette Kowal
Rebeca Kuang
Mur Lafferty
Yoon Ha Lee
Paul Levinson
Jo Lindsay Walton
Shawna McCarthy
Mary Anne Mohanraj
Mari Ness
Garth Nix
A.J. Odasso
Sarah Pinsker
Lettie Prell
Gillian Redfearn
Karl Schroeder
V.E. Schwab


Brian Showers
Robert Silverberg
Rebecca Slitt
Alan Smale
Melinda Snodgrass
Allen Steele
Christine Taylor-Butler
Adrian Tchaikovsky
Lisa Tuttle
Mary Watson
Fran Wilde
Sean Williams
Terri Windling
Navah Wolfe
Micah Yongo
E. Lily Yu


(4) DUBLIN 2019 ACCESS. People should contact Dublin2019 now with hotel accessibility requests. The website’s Accessibility Policy page says —

We will have information on accessible accommodation in mid-September 2018, with access bookings opening in early December 2018. People needing Accessible rooms will be asked to register with the Access team to help people get the most appropriate room.

And judging by this tweet they’re already being helpful —

(5) LOSCON 45 PROGRAM. Loscon programming is now LIVE on Grenadine — Loscon-45. The con runs Thanksgiving weekend.

And Galactic Journey will do a presentation that — in keeping with their 1963 sequence — occurs a simulated two days after the Kennedy assassination!

It is November 24, 1963, and a nation is in mourning. The death of a youthful President and the heating up of struggles in southeast Asia and the southern United States mark a harsh divide between the past and the new era.

There’s a sharp transition in culture, too: The first British invasion since 1812 features mop-tops and mod suits rather red coats, but its influence will be as profound. And not just music — the British New Wave of science fiction (and its American counterpart) are ushering in new ideas, diverse viewpoints, weirder topics….

(6) CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN CAPTAIN. Deadline reports “‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Michelle Yeoh In Talks For ‘Star Trek’ Spinoff On CBS All Access”.

The return of Patrick Stewart’s Jean-Luc Picard was the first official series of the Trekverse expansion, and it looks like another Starfleet captain could be talking the helm in her own show too.

Crazy Rich Asians star Michelle Yeoh is in talks to reprise her Star Trek Discovery role of Captain Emperor Georgiou for a stand-alone CBS All Access series, I’ve learned.

(7) TAKE PIN IN HAND. Amazing Stories’ Steve Davidson would love to hear from readers about his magazine. Here’s an incentive: “Oh Yeah!? Yeah! Sez You! Well Then – Write a Letter , Maybe You’ll Win Something”.

Write a letter of comment to Amazing Stories and you would win a collectible lapel pin! It’s pretty simple: read our issues, write a letter of comment, email it (or mail it, old school is appreciated!) and if we think it is sufficiently pithy, inciteful, provocative and/or informative, we’ll mail you a one-of-a-kind collectible Amazing Stories lapel pins. Read on to learn more about the history of letter writing in fandom. (Mail to: Amazing Stories, PO Box 1068, Hillsboro, NH 03244. Email steve@amazingstories.com)

(8) MYSTERY CATS. Diane A.S. Stuckart, in “Five Favorite Fictional Feline Sleuths” at Criminal Element, recommends stories with cats in them that SJWs would like, including Poe’s “The Black Cat,” Carroll’s Chrisre Cat, and Disney’s “That Darn Cat.”

Midnight Louie.

A cross between Koko and Bogey’s version of Sam Spade, this tough-talking black cat stars in Carole Nelson Douglas’ alphabetized and color-coded Cat in a… series. He shares narration and investigating duties with his human, Temple Barr, out on the mean-ish streets of Las Vegas.

Louie has no supernatural powers, but he has the feline skills of stealth and persistence that make him a crack investigator. And while he talks tough, he has a soft spot for Temple and will risk life and paw for her. Louie was one of the first felines to narrate his own mystery series. I started reading him back in the 90s and promptly fell in love with him. I haven’t made it through the entire colorized alphabet of novels yet, but intend to eventually rectify that.

(9) CHECK IT OUT. What makes this autograph really rare? “Ray Bradbury Signed Check With His Rare Full Signature – Ray Douglas Bradbury” — now up for bidding on eBay.

(10) TRIVIAL TRIVIA

When legends meet:  Ringo was the only member of the Beatles whom Ray Bradbury met in person. (Backstage at an Eagles concert)  Ringo became so excited at the sight of Bradbury he yelled, “It’s Ray Bradbury!” began running to hug him and tripped over a chair.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and JJ.]

  • Born November 10, 1889 – Claude Rains, Actor whose first genre role was as Dr. Jack Griffin in the 1933 film The Invisible Man. He would go on to play Jacob Marley in Scrooge, Prince John in The Adventures of Robin Hood, Sir John Talbot in The Wolf Man, and Erique in The Phantom of the Opera(Died 1967.)
  • Born November 10, 1932 – Roy Scheider, Actor, Producer, and Amateur Boxer played Dr. Heywood R. Floyd in 2010, the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. His other major genre performance was as Captain Nathan Bridger in the SeaQuest DSV series. He also has roles in The Curse of the Living Corpse (his first acting role, a very low-budget horror film), one of The Punisher films, Dracula III: Legacy and Naked Lunch which may or may not be genre, and the technothriller Blue Thunder (JJ says yay! Blue Thunder!). I do not consider the Jaws films to be genre, but you may do so.
  • Born November 10, 1946 – Jack Ketchum, Writer who was mentored by Robert Bloch, horror writer par excellence. Winner of four Bram Stoker Awards, he was given a World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for outstanding contribution to the horror genre. I’ll admit I’ve not read him, so I’ll leave it up to the rest of you to say which works by him are particularly, errr, horrifying. Oh, and he wrote the screenplays for a number of his novels, in all of which he quite naturally performed. (Died 2018.)
  • Born November 10, 1950 – Dean Wesley Smith, 68, Writer and Editor of Pulphouse magazine, for which fortunately Black Gate has provided us with a fascinating history you can read here. Pulphouse I first encountered when I collected the works of Charles de Lint, who was in issue number eight way back in the summer of 1990. As a writer, he known mostly for his work in licensed properties such as StarTrek, Smallville, Aliens, Men in Black, and Quantum Leap. He is also known for a number of his original novels, such as the Tenth Planet series, on which he collaborated with his wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
  • Born November 10, 1955 – Roland Emmerich, 63, Writer, Director, and Producer originally from Germany. Usually I don’t touch upon SJW affairs here, but he’s a very strong campaigner for the LGBT community, and is openly gay, so bravo for him! Now back to his genre credits. The Noah’s Ark Principle was written and directed by him in 1984 as his thesis, after seeing Star Wars at the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film München. Moon 44 followed, which likely most of you haven’t seen, but now we get to his Hollywood films: to wit Universal SoldierThe High Crusade (yes the Poul Anderson novel), Stargate, Independence Day… no, I’m going to stop there. Suffice it to say, he’s created a lot of genre film. And oh, he directed Stonewall, the 2015 look at historic event.
  • Born November 10, 1960 – Neil Gaiman, 58, Writer from England whose work has not just been published as fiction, but has been made into comic books, graphic novels, audioplays, and movies. Summarizing him is nigh unto impossible so I won’t, beyond saying that his works include Neverwhere, Anansi Boys, the Sandman series, Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has awards beyond counting – including, but not limited to, Eisners, Harveys, Hugos, Nebulas, and Bram Stokers. As for film, I think the finest script he did is his “Day of The Dead” one for Babylon 5, not either of his Doctor Who scripts. (Your opinions will, I know, differ.) The animated Coraline is, I think, the most faithful work from one of his novels; the Neverwhere series needs to be remade with decent CGI; and the less said about Stardust, the better. My first encounter with him was reading the BBC trade paper edition of Neverwhere, followed by pretty much everything else he did until the last decade or so, when I admit I stopped reading him, but I still remember those early novels with great fondness. I even read the Good Omens film script which he and Pratchett wrote.
  • Born November 10, 1971 – Holly Black, 47, Writer best known for her Spiderwick Chronicles, which were created with fellow writer & illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi, and for the Modern Faerie Tales YA trilogy. Her first novel was Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale. (It’s very good.) There have been two sequels set in the same universe. The first, Valiant, won the very first Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. Doll Bones, which is really, really creepy, was awarded a Newbery Honor and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. Suffice it to say that if you like horror, you’ll like her.
  • Born November 10, 1989 – Taron Egerton, 29, Actor nominated for a Saturn Award for playing Gary “Eggsy” Unwin in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. He’s playing the title character in Robin Hood, due out in on the 21st of the month from Lionsgate. He’s also voicing El-Ahrairah, a rabbit trickster folk hero, in the forthcoming Watership Down series, and also voices Moomintroll in the also forthcoming Moominvalley series.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

  • Non Sequitur makes a movie reference – then in comments, a reader sensibly asks, “Who would want to escape a bookstore?”

(13) ORAL HISTORY. What has it got in its tooth socketses?

(14) INSIDE FANHISTORY. Fanac.org has posted video from MagiCon, the 1992 Worldcon, of Rusty Hevelin interviewing Art Widner.

MagiCon, the 50th Worldcon, was held in Orlando, Florida in 1992. In this video, Rusty Hevelin interviews Art Widner about the early days of fandom. The conversation ranges from the first fanzine (arguably published by Lovecraft) to the origins of FAPA to the Singleton suicide hoax. You’ll hear about the perils of mimeography, the start of the Strangers Club and even learn the plural of YHOS. If you are interested in Fan History, here’s your chance to get a personal view from someone who was there at the beginning. To read many of the fanzines discussed, go to FANAC.ORG.

 

(15) LETHEM. “I used to be a science fiction writer” — Jonathan Lethem is interviewed by NPR about what he’s up to now: “A Noir Novel For The Trump Era, From Jonathan Lethem”.

In a lot of ways, this is a book about trying not to think about the election. It’s about running off into a free space where maybe you can conceive that there isn’t just a right and a left, a red and a blue, a man and a woman; but that there’s some kind of possible reinvention. In that sense, it’s, you know, it’s chasing the old American fantasy of the frontier which is a … utopian space where something can be — a new kind of world can be set up.

(16) REALLY STRANGELOVE. BBC remembers “The war game that could have ended the world”:

…Role-playing Nato forces launched a single medium range nuclear missile, wiping Ukrainian capital Kiev from the map. It was deployed as a signal, a warning that Nato was prepared to escalate the war. The theory was that this ‘nuclear signalling’ would help cooler heads to prevail. It didn’t work.

By 11 November 1983, global nuclear arsenals had been unleashed. Most of the world was destroyed. Billions were dead. Civilisation ended.

Accidental signal

Later that day, the Nato commanders left their building and went home, congratulating themselves on another successful – albeit sobering – exercise. What Western governments only discovered later is that Able Archer 83 came perilously close to instigating a real nuclear war.

“There’s evidence at the highest levels of the Soviet military that they were finding it increasingly difficult to tell drills from an actual attack,” says Nate Jones, director of the Freedom of Information Act Project for the National Security Archive in Washington DC, an independent non-profit organisation that advocates for open government. “We’re now amassing a collection of documents confirming that the Soviets were really scared the West would launch a nuclear strike.”

(17) THE RIGHTS TROUSERS. The Hollywood Reporter brings us what could be good news on the animation front (“‘Wallace & Gromit’ Producer Aardman Animations Transfers Ownership to Employees”). To help maintain its independence, Aardman Animations has become a majority employee-owned company.

In an era of entertainment industry mergers and acquisitions, the founders of British animation powerhouse Aardman – the much-loved Oscar-winning studio behind Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep – have moved to ensure their company’s continued independence by transferring it into employee ownership.

The decision, made by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, who first set up Aardman in 1972, will see the majority of company shares transferred into a trust, which will then hold them on behalf of the workforce.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, both Lord and Sproxton explained that the move was about seven years in the making, and while it wasn’t an indicator of their imminent departure, meant that Aardman was in “the best possible shape” for when that moment came and would help secure its creative legacy and culture.

“We’ve spent so much time so much time building this company up and being so profoundly attached to it. It’s not a business to us, it’s everything, it’s our statement to the world,” said Lord. “Having done that for so many years, the last thing we wanted to do was to just flog it off to someone.”

(18) IN THEIR SPARE TIME. “John Boyega and Letitia Wright to star in sci-fi romance” — stars of SW VIII and Black Panther as a couple reminiscing while running out of air — Aida in space?

John Boyega and Letitia Wright are to star in a sci-fi romance story that is being billed as Romeo and Juliet meets Gravity.

The film is based on author Katie Khan’s novel, Hold Back the Stars.

(19) STOP, DROP, AND SCROLL. What could be more sincere than Marvel’s Captain America doing public service announcements?

[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Kip Williams.]

Gone Interplanetary

Art Widner at the 1990 Worldcon. Photo taken and (c) by Andrew Porter.

By Marty Cantor: This is going on a few lists where there may be some fen who remember this Art Widner board game.

Right, you read the name up above correctly — Art Widner.

Interplanetary is a board game which Art Widner invented in 1943.

From paperwork (which I cannot now find) I believe that there may very well have been several boards many decades ago but I am certain of one board which is still in existence, the board I used when I played the game last night.

Some time after I joined LASFS in 1975 I discovered that LASFS had not only a board for this game but also various playing pieces. And paperwork showing that others had made attempts to make the game more playable than what was apparently earlier versions of the game.

Ted Johnstone, Bill Ellern and Betty Knight demonstrating Interplanetary at the Los Angeles Hobby Show in 1960.

As a seasoned board game player I soon found that the game seemed to need quite a bit of work to make it fully playable and I worked on the game, off and on, for several years. This work required the cooperation of other LASFS’ game players. Finally, in 2007, after many years of not paying attention to the game, I put what I consider to be the finishing touches on the game – and then again put the game aside for about 10 years.

Until last night.

A couple of weeks ago I i/n/v/e/i/g/l/e/d/ convinced three women who were new to the Friday Night Board Gaming Meetup I run to play a Eurogame called Wars of the Roses. This is a longish game of some intricacy. They loved the game so I thought I would introduce them to Interplanetary so I printed the rules and handed them out.

Last night 4 of us played Interplanetary. It is, obviously, not a Eurogame-style game, depending as it does on the rolling of dice. Interplanetary is, though, a game with some strategy and a spectacularly different board than any other game.

We had fun.

Interplanetary game board

Art Widner (1917-2015)

Art Widner at the 2008 Corflu. Photo by Alan White.

Art Widner at the 2008 Corflu. Photo by Alan White.

Always ready to help, never a better friend, opinionated, long on experience and wise about fannish weaknesses (even his own), a fascinating storyteller, organizer and party host, Art Widner passed away April 17 at the age of 97.

Widner wrote not long ago that he had prostate cancer, which had spread to his bones, reports Andrew Porter. He had outlived his children, but is survived by several grand-and great-grandchildren.

Art himself lived two complete fan lifetimes, interrupted by a three-decade gafiation.

His first fannish life began when he discovered fandom through the prozines. And that life was characterized by a zeal for fanpolitics and organizing.

“Like so many fen, I was the Old Weird Harold on my block, carrying home those lurid pulp magazines with nubile bimbos on the cover wearing VW hubcap bras – which was remarkable because Volkswagen hadn’t been invented yet,” he told the audience at the 1989 Worldcon’s “Family Reunion.”

As other proto-fans did in the 1930s, he wrote letters to the prozines reviewing their efforts and criticizing their shortcomings – many of them to Weird Tales.

He helped organize “The Stranger Club” in 1940, Boston’s first science fiction club, together with Louis Russell Chauvenet, Chandler Davis, Gertrude Kuslan, Louis Kuslan, Norman Stanley, R.D. Swisher, and others. He chaired  the city’s first two sf conventions, Boskone I (1941) and Boskone II (1942). He published his first fanzine, co-edited with Earl Singleton and Francis Paro, FanFare.

Along with Louis Russell Chauvenet and Damon Knight, he was responsible for the formation of the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F). Supporting Damon Knight’s call for a national fan organization, Widner wrote in FanFare  in 1940, “The crying need is cooperation among all fans and this seems an impossible situation at present. Fandom should have some sort of united front to put toward the rest of the world, or it will continue to be regarded as just the juvenile goshwowoboyoboy gang.”

Art Widner and Russ Chauvenet at the 1994 Corflu. Photo by Rich Lynch.

Art Widner and Russ Chauvenet at the 1994 Corflu. Photo by Rich Lynch.

He was also one of the big name fans on the board of directors of the Fantasy Foundation announced at the 1946 Worldcon, touted by Forry Ackerman as a museum of imaginative literature.

As a young man Art was reputed to be Built Like A Gorilla. Robert Madle was grateful to have him on hand at the 1941 Worldcon when C.M. Kornbluth was in a violent mood:

He [Kornbluth] was the arrogant one of the group, the one who had a personality like a snake. Not to cut him down his writings, which are very excellent. But he had a peculiar personality. Like there was that night they were going to beat the shit out of me at one of the conventions.

Fortunately I had with me Art Widner. We used to call him Popeye because he had muscle bulging out of his arms. Kornbluth said, “Hey, I’m going to beat the shit out of Madle,” and Widner said, “Who’s going to beat the shit out of who?”

I think that was the Denver convention. Other than that I had no real problems with Kornbluth – other than that night when he decided to beat the shit out of me.

(From C.M. Kornbluth: The Life and Works of a Science Fiction Visionary by Mark Rich.)

He was regarded a member of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA) Brain Trust, a colloquial name for those who engaged in weighty discussions. On the other hand, nobody liked a good time better.

Widner featured in the 1940 Worldcon masquerade as Giles Habibula, his costume constructed out of “Pogo’s hat, Trudy Kuslan’s pillow, and an anonymous bartender’s wine bottle.” He returned in 1941 as “Old Granny” from Slan.

But often Art was looking for something beyond simple fun. He is credited with creating the first original science fiction board game, Interplanetary (1943), which he described as —

a combination of a standard [auto] “race” game and Monopoly. One had to get to a planet and bring back a cargo in order to finance a trip to the next distant planet where a still more valuable cargo would be obtained, etc., out to Pluto, which harbored “Immortality Dust,” the game winner. The novel aspect was that the planets moved, making it difficult to land on one, plus such hazards as the “negasphere”. (from EESmith epics–now known as a black hole) and pirates, to say nothing of falling into the sun, getting hit with space junk, etc.

With all these complexities, it took 8-12 hours to complete a game. Using a streamlined set of rules, it became popular with fans again in the 1960s. LASFS still owns a giant Interplanetary board and has hosted games in recent decades.

Art’s literary output was limited to a single prozine sale, “The Perfect Incinerator”, under the name Arthur Lambert, that appeared in a 1942 issue of Robert Lowndes’ Science Fiction Quarterly (priced, appropriately, for a quarter.)

Widner was the most inveterate poll taker in early 1940s fandom. The Widner Poll of 1940 included a list of the top ten science fiction pulps voted on by fans. When a gloating reader pointed out to editor Ray Palmer that not one belonged to Ziff-Davis, which published Palmer’s magazine, he dismissed it, saying that although Widner’s poll may have represented a dozen fans, Ziff-Davis circulation figures showed its magazines represented several hundred thousand readers from all walks of life, all over the world.

A few years later Art launched Poll Cat, chronicled by Jack Speer  in Fancyclopedia I:

Originally it was simply concerned with preferences among stf authors, etc. Appeals were broadcast in all leading fanzines for readers to send in their votes on certain questions, and as returns were compiled, they were published, later returns being published later. Then one issue of a fanzine called The Poll Cat appeared, at which time Widner set out to test the thesis that fans are a separate and distinct type (slans or whatever you want to call them)….Looking for unusual average in fans, Widner found several characteristics that looked significant, such as longevity of grandparents, larger hat size, and greater height….

 Art attended the first Worldcon in New York in 1939, and the next four, in Chicago (1940), Denver (1941), Los Angeles (1946) and Philadelphia (1947).

He drove to the Chicago Worldcon in a 1928 Dodge, the Skylark of WooWoo, the last model made by the Dodge Brothers.

He made an epic cross-country trek to Denvention I — the Widneride — in the FooFoo Special, a car without a trunk, accompanied by “Moneybags Unger, Tree Toad Rothman, Pretty Boy Madle, [and] Sourpuss Bell.”

(Now that Widner has passed away, only four people remain alive who attended the first Worldcon: Dave Kyle, Bob Madle, Erle Korshak and Jack Robins.)

Widner married during World War II, then was drafted into the service. However, because he was “volunteered” to be a technician-guinea pig at the newly formed Climatic Research Lab in Lawrence, MA he still got to go home nearly every weekend.

His fanac slowed while he was in the military and ground to a halt when he moved his family to Los Angeles in 1948. Soon after that he gafiated completely.

Signifying his disappearance from fandom, although Art is constantly mentioned in Warner’s 1940s history All Our Yesterdays, he doesn’t have a single listing in the index of the sequel about the 1950s, A Wealth of Fable.

Widner reappeared in fandom in the 1970s – reminiscing that like Voyager 2 after 10 years he had explored the local system, science fiction fandom, and went to see what lay beyond. “Thirty-five years later I came back to report: it’s pretty lonely out there.” He returned to fandom as an “eo-neo” and bumped into Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden “who knew who I was – or rather, had been.”

Art Widner, Poul Anderson and Charles Burbee at the 1974 Westercon. Photo by Dik Daniels.

Art Widner, Poul Anderson and Charles Burbee at the 1974 Westercon. Photo by Dik Daniels.

His best known fanzine YHOS, first published from 1940 till 1945, resumed publication after a 34 year hiatus and remained a prominent faanish zine into the 1980s and 1990s. (Even Harlan Ellison read it – something Art learned when Harlan phoned his cabin early one morning to take exception to a story Art had run.)

Originally revived as Art’s FAPAzine in 1979, YHOS consisted mainly of personal reminiscences about 1940s fandom and mailing comments.  Then it started to fill out with long travel reports, the kind of thing it was known for in its original incarnation. There was a “special travel issue” about Art’s trip to the ’79 Worldcon in Britain, a report on a trip to China, and another about his visit to Australia.  In time, it took on all the features of a genzine, with a host of original contributions and classic reprints.

Art also visited the Soviet Union in 1978 with a fan tour group that included Forry Ackerman, Joe and Gay Haldeman, Art Widner, Clifton Amsbury and Charles N. Brown.

And he enjoyed sidling up to folks who hadn’t seen him since the 1940s to see if they recognized him:

I believe it was at a Norwescon that I wandered into the SFWA suite and spotted Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm sitting by themselves waiting for something to happen…. We had both changed considerably, and I only recognized him because he was famous and had his picture in Locus. He didn’t recognize me as I sat down nearby. I kept mum and gave him a chance to see past the wrinkles and gray beard, but he apparently decided it wasn’t worth the effort and resumed talking to Kate.

Finally I introduced myself and he cracked up. Turning to Kate, he said, “I’d like to have you meet the guy who helped me start the dumbest organization in all fandom.”

That was the N3F. But when he resumed going to Worldcons Art said he was “quite astonished [to find] that the NFFF was still alive and kicking. Not only that, but the good-hearted fuggheads running the Welcome Room were pathetically eager to induct me into the mysteries of Trufandom about which they didn’t know a blessed thing!”

He attended the first 18 Corflus without a miss. A classic moment at the 2008 edition was Art serenading his fellow eo-fan, Jack Speer, with the first-ever filksong, written by Jack himself.

Although the term “filksong” had yet to be invented, several of these songs were sung at the 1940 Worldcon. Jack created them by setting new lyrics with a science fictional theme to familiar tunes. A snippet of one goes:

We’ll build a tempo-ship
And we’ll take a little trip,
And watch a million years go by.

You can still hear Art Widner’s mellow tones in Bill Mills’ Voice of Fandom podcast #16.

The 2007 Ditto was organized around Art’s 90th birthday and held in his hometown of Gualala, California. “I have never seen that much alcohol in a con suite, maybe even counting Midwestcon,” recalled Hope Leibwoitz in her conreport. “At the birthday party, there were 15 bottles of scotch on the table.” Art was a great fan of good scotch. People toured his eight-sided green-painted house. At one point in the con, Art read the 10 things it took him 90 years to learn, eventually published in Yhos.

He later added a new #3, in “R. Twidner”-style:

It’s specificly directed at the Religiosity Ryt.  ‘Forget John 3:16.  Read Matthew 23’  It’s what Jesus thot of the Philistines, scribes & harisees, i.e., Big Time Hypocrits.

(Michael Ward’s  photos of Art’s 90th Birthday party are online: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, plus Saturday Dinner at St. Orres, Art’s House, a visit to Bowling Ball Beach, and Picturesque Scenes from Gualala, California, and The Breakers Inn.)

Art was a guest of honor at many other conventions: Boskone IV (1945), Noreascon 3 (1989, as part of The Strangers Club), Norwescon VI (1983), Westercon 43 (1990), Minicon 25 (1990), Corflu 16 (1999), Ditto 19 (2007) and twice at BayCon.

A member of First Fandom and the First Fandom Hall of Fame, he was honored with the Big Heart Award in 1989, and in 2001 was selected at Corflu as Past President of the Fan Writers of America for 2000. Along with the other members of The Stranger Club, he was Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon 3. He was nominated for the 1946 Best Fan Writer Retro Hugo at L.A.con III in 1996. He received a Special Lifetime Achievement Award at Corflu in 2011.

He was voted Down Under Fan Fund delegate in 1991 and attended the Australian NatCon.

Glenn Glazer aptly commemorated Art Widner’s passing with this quote from The Hobbit:

‘No!’ said Thorin. ‘There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

Freed of the ambitions of his first fannish life, the second time around Art knew exactly how to make this a merrier world. He set a great example for the rest of us.

Update 04/27/2015: Added Jack Robins as a surviving fan who attended the first Worldcon in 1939. Thanks to John Coker III for the correction.

Widner Named First Lifetime FAPA Member

Art Widner at Torcon III in 2003.

Art Widner at Torcon III in 2003.

Robert Lichtman, Secretary-Treasurer of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA), has announced that Art Widner is the organization’s first Lifetime Member, “forever freed of any obligations to pay dues and/or to contribute to the mailings.”

FAPA is fandom’s earliest apa, founded in 1937 by Donald Wollheim and John Michel. (An apa works this way: Members send their printed zines to the OE, who sends back a bundle containing a copy of every contribution. FAPA has a quarterly cycle.)

How did Art Widner qualify for this honor? Lichtman explains –

First, it helps to be 97 years old.  And having a longtime membership doesn’t hurt.  Art first joined FAPA in September 1940 and left in November 1950.  In the Fantasy Amateur for that mailing (the 53rd), it says he was dropped for “dues, activity and square dancing.”  (I take the latter as code for “raising a family and having a career.”)  He rejoined in May 1979 and has been with us ever since.  That’s a total of 46 years, more than half the life of the organization.

This was a surprise for Art, who wrote back —

“Thank U Robert & Happy New Year to all the members.  I will try to be worthy of the honor.  I want to say ‘humble’ but that’s a tricky one — the moment u say Ur Humble — U arnt.  R!”

[Thanks to Robert Lichtman for the story.]

Lifetime Achievement Awards Given

Earl Kemp and Shelby Vick received Lifetime Achievement Awards at the Corflu Glitter banquet on April 22.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards “salute living fans for their excellent fanac over a long career in Fandom,” Arnie Katz explained in Glitter #61.

Convention chair Joyce Katz presented Kemp and Vick with framed certificates featuring art by Dan Steffan.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards were given for the first time in 2010, to Ted White and Art Widner.

A judging committee selects the winners from among nominations submitted by fans. The committee is made up of the two most recent Corflu chairs, the current Fan Achievement Awards Administrator, and any past Lifetime Achievement Award recipients who want to participate.

Happy Birthday, Art!

Faneditor and past Worldcon guest of honor Art Widner is 92 years old today. Best wishes to you!

Art was born on September 17, 1917 – just the same as June Foray, the voice of Rocky the Squirrel, also celebrating her 92nd birthday.

Others who share this birthdate include the Emperor Trajan, lexicographer Samuel Johnson, physicist Leon Foucault, and actress Greta Garbo.

Art’s birth probably didn’t make headlines because 1917 was a busy year. World War I, you know. Also, Montana’s Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to Congress, took her seat. That was just four days before Congress voted to enter World War I. Rankin voted no, and when returned to Congress years later she famously cast the lone vote against entering World War II.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Jack Speer (1920-2008)

Jack Speer at Bubonicon 36 (2006)

“First Fandom member and writer of the Fancylopedia Jack Speer passed away this morning [June 28],” writes Patricia Rogers.

Speer’s famous Fancyclopedia, published in 1944, formalized definitions for hundreds of terms in use by fans.

Prior to that, in 1939, he wrote the first history of science fiction fandom, called Up To Now. It was very hard to find copies until just last month when Robert Lichtman recreated it as a PDF edition and posted it at eFanzines. In this zine, Speer first articulated the idea of Numbered Fandoms (fannish historical epochs), which ever since has occupied many a fan’s idle hours.

Speer also innovated several indispensable bits of faanish typography, including the quasi-quote mark and the interlineation. He contributed to faanish cosmology by inventing FooFoo, the ghod of mimeography, fearsome foe of Ghu.

According to Don Fitch, Speer was diagnosed as terminal some weeks ago. Still, Jack had managed to attend Corflu Silver in April, making his way around with the aid of a portable oxygen supply, attentive to everything going on. The con’s classic moment was when fellow eo-fan Art Widner serenaded Jack with the first-ever filksong, written by Jack himself.

Although the term “filksong” had yet to be invented, several of these songs were sung at the 1940 Worldcon. Jack created them by setting new lyrics with a science fictional theme to familiar tunes. A snippet of one goes:

We’ll build a tempo-ship
And we’ll take a little trip,
And watch a million years go by.

In 1995, Speer received the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award. In 2004, he was Fan Guest of Honor at Noreascon 4. His collection, Fancestral Voices, was published by NESFA Press for the occasion.

Having spent decades thinking of Speer as a distinguished founding father of fandom, as he certainly was, I’ve tended to overlook that he was having a helluva lot of fun while making history. This point is brought home by Harry Warner’s anecdote about Speer at the 1947 Worldcon in All Our Yesterdays:

From time to time that Saturday night, the happy fans were vaguely aware of the existence of loud, intermittent noises. Several Philadelphians explained them away as a local phenomenon that occurred when sewer gas caused manhole lids to lift violently in a sort of municipal burping. However, the real facts were not at all like that. During a late drinking session…Speer had suddenly remembered the existence of fireworks in the hip pocket of the Quintessence of FooFoo, his current auto…. Several roman candles later, policemen in a squad car gave [Speer and other fans] a warning about discharging fireworks within the city limits… [Afterwards], Speer and Davis seem to have taken up strategic posts on upper fire escapes [of the con hotel]… Firecrackers and skyrockets were alternated to provide variety… When the police returned… they paid $5.00 apiece at the 21st District Station for disturbing the peace. The investment was at least partly justified because the pyrotechnics had helped Willy Ley find his way to the hotel.

A later e-mail from Patricia Rogers concluded with this request: “I talked with Ruth [Jack’s wife] for around an hour this evening. The memorial will probably be on July 8 or 9.  She has asked me to speak about Jack and his role in SF/Fandom at the service. I know a fair amount but if you or anyone you can think of has anything they would like to add – I would be happy to – just let me know.”