John Hertz: What a Worldcon

By John Hertz (reprinted from Vanamonde 901):

I’ve come from L.A. to the Worldcon,
To the Aussiecon-Four’s-hopes-unfurled con.
All its meeting and such
With s-f friends, as much
As we can, makes it September’s Pearl con.

Flick said this limerick wasn’t bad enough for the newsletter, Voice of the Echidna, of which she was editrix. Alison Scott in the London office contributed several drawings of echidnas. The Aussiecon III newsletter was The Monotreme, which might have been all right except for a mascot drawing of a platypus, with sunglasses and a lapsize computer (do platypuses have laps?), so that in one issue (duly sent us Supporting Members) an irritated echidna complained “The Monotreme? THE Monotreme?” and something had to be done.

Robert Silverberg said “This is the first time I’ve had a propeller beanie tipped to me.” I said “There’s always a first time.” On Hugo Night, I presented Best Fanwriter, which he accepted for Fred Pohl. The Laurie Mann photo on Pohl’s Weblog shows James Daugherty co-head of Hugo Night holding the trophy, me having stepped back, Silverberg speaking, Garth Nix the Master of Ceremonies. A few minutes earlier I accepted Best Fanartist for Brad Foster. Pat Sims and Robin Johnson gave the Big Heart to Merv Binns, whom Johnson in his Fan GoH speech had called the center around which Melbourne s-f had agglutinated for forty years. Right after the ceremony there were Flick and her folks with the voting analyzed on one sheet of paper, the nominating on the other side, copies for all.

In the Art Show, Kyoko Ogushi the con’s Japan agent had brought prints by Nawo Inoue, Naoyuki Katoh who was in the 2007 Worldcon paint-off with Bob Eggleton and Michael Whelan, Masaru Ohishi, and Eiji Yokoyama who again sold everything he sent. In the Masquerade, the Masters of Ceremonies were Nick Stathopoulos who designed this year’s Hugo trophy base, and Danny Oz; my co-judges were Lewis Morley who engraved the Hugo trophies, and Marilyn Pride who was Four for Four i.e. attending each Aussiecon; Morley, Pride, and Stathopoulos were the 1986 DUFF delegates, so we were DUFFers together. On Thursday night at Beverley Hope’s party for her and Roman Orszanski’s new fanzine Straw & Silk I learned Orszanski too was Four for Four. There were ribbons. I’d left early, about 1 a.m., and there in the street peering at my name-badge – I’d put my hat in my shoulder-bag – was Sharee Carton wondering if I knew any good parties, so I sent her to Hope.

Panel discussions are the stomach of our cons. Everything deemed fodder goes into them, some digested. On fanhistory panels Chris Nelson showed fine videos using the Convention Centre’s high-tech lecterns. He had gathered images of contemporary fanzines, prozines, and people, and had made graphs, including maps with colored circles for how many letters from which cities appeared in prozine letter-columns. On the Forties panel Alan Roberts and Art Widner traded stories about trading letters sixty years ago. I moderated the Fifties panel. Justin Ackroyd conducted the crowded Fan Funds auction, with intermittent help including mine. He took off his shoes and worked in his socks.

It was grand making new acquaintances and meeting fanziners in person, including Renaldo the Party Sheep. The Program Book treated generously the Fan Funds, DUFF, and me. Karen Babcock did wonders for disabled access and by the end had a Hero badge. Alan Stewart collated the annual edition of WOOF (World Organization Of Faneditors, invented by Bruce Pelz). There was not one drinking fountain in the Convention Centre. But Australia had Mars bars.

Corflu Zed Posts PR #2 Online

Corflu Zed logo

Randy Byers writes: “The second issue of the Corflu Zed progress report, AmaZed and CorfluZed, is now available at <http://efanzines.com/Corflu26/index.htm>. Corflu Zed, the 26th Corflu, will be held the weekend of 13-15 March 2009 in Seattle.

“This edition of the progress report contains plenty of news and information about the convention, and it also includes reminiscences, Dickian dreams, and faan fiction by Earl Kemp, Jerry Kaufman, Terry Floyd, Lucy Huntzinger, and Otto Pfeifer, plus cartoons by Steve Stiles, Brad Foster, and D West. We also have a lettercol this time, and we hope you’ll write us with your comments and questions for the third and final issue, which we’ll publish in February. Send letters to pubzed@corflu.org.”

Update 12/11/2008: Added Jerry Kaufman to credits.

2008 Hugo Voting Stats Online

2008 Hugo Award
Denvention promptly posted the full Hugo winner list and the complete report of the voting statistics, including the top 15 works or people who received the most nominations in each category.

Skimming over the results, I was intrigued that the outcome in the Best Novel category validated only 50% of the buzz I heard at Westercon, where it sounded like Yiddish Policemen’s Union and Brasyl were duking it out. Instead, the online buzz predicting a strong showing for The Last Colony proved more meaningful, as the Chabon and Scalzi novels finished 332 to 323, Yiddish Policemen’s Union winning by 9 votes. Helping to make the finish close, when Rollback’s votes were redistributed to the remaining two finalists, they split 104-40 in favor of The Last Colony (the other 42 votes either showing a blank or a nominee that was already out of the running.)

As for Brasyl, although it led the field with 65 nominating votes, on the final ballot it got only 110 first-place votes and finished fifth. In fact, only 464 out of 745 ballots cast a vote in any position for Brasyl.

Skipping down to the fan Hugos, after File 770’s category the race I was most curious about was Best Fanwriter. In last year’s cliffhanger ending Dave Langford edged John Scalzi by one vote. There was no such drama this year — John Scalzi started with 190 first place votes and required only a couple of elimination rounds to lock up a majority.

Scalzi made a very gracious acceptance speech that ended by encouraging people to seek out other quality fanwriters and spread the award around. Very likely, his win will crystallize in voters’ minds the (quite accurate) belief that they can look for prospective nominees in a lot of different venues and media. It will be interesting to see whether there is a ripple effect adding several new fan writers’ names to next year’s Hugo ballot.

In Best Fan Artist, Steve Stiles extended Brad Foster, Foster ultimately winning 165-115. Even though Stiles is formally the third-place finisher (based on the count when Foster’s votes are disregarded), I’m most interested in the stats of the “last nominee standing,” the one the winner needed to overcome to get a majority. Does this result mean Stiles is gaining ground among Hugo voters? On the other hand, Frank Wu withdrew this year — and despite doing so still got the most nominating votes — so he may be back in 2009 and that will change the outlook, too.

New Issue of File 770, the Fanzine

Cover of File 770 #153 by Taral Wayne

The new issue of File 770 is posted at eFanzines as a PDF file. (Paper copies were mailed on June 30.)

James Bacon and I do some last minute fanzine Hugo handicapping. My tribute to Worldcon toastmasters “Silverberg and Resnick – That’s Entertainment!” is in the issue. John Hertz reports several valuable news stories. Mystery writers Mary Reed and Eric Mayer answer my questions about writing historical fiction. I write up my Corflu Silver experiences. James Bacon tells about a day of his honeymoon visit to South Africa. There’s a great cover by Taral Wayne, and new illos by Alan White, Brad Foster and Alexis Gilliland.

File 770 30th Anniversary Issue

File 770’s 30th Anniversary issue is now available at eFanzines.com. Thanks to the indefatigable Bill Burns for taking time out from his Eastercon trip to post it.

Here you can read John Hertz chronicling the Nippon 2007 Worldcon. There’s a classic photo of John Pomeranz in Japanese formal clothing next to George Takei at the Hugo ceremony. And Bruce Gillespie adds his salute to Big Heart Award winner Robin Johnson.

Chris Garcia, Taral Wayne, Mark Leeper, Marie Rengstorff, James Bacon and Francis Hamit celebrate the anniversary with their own special features.

Tim Marion tells about the massive project to organize his old fanzines and his nostalgic rediscovery of apas populated by New York City fans of the 1970s, in “Fannish Archiving Blues.”

Brad Foster’s cover on this issue is also his 71st contribution to File 770, going back to 1984.

The PDF file contains information about how to subscribe to the paper edition, too.

Egoscanners Don’t Live in Vain

Brad Foster, the multiple-Hugo-winning fan artist, likes to keep track of where all his work has appeared. And after three decades, that list is very long. Brad says, “I’ve done a lot of art for a lot of weird publications over the years, not to mention posters, flyers, decals, patches, logo designs, cards, tee-shirts, and a little of everything else. And I kept a list of all of them as they were published.” Webzines and PDF fanzines, too. 

Now he’s distilled his pages and pages of notes into a searchable list on his website. This news might have been important to Brad alone but for one fact: Faneditors love to egoscan. You think I didn’t enjoy seeing File 770′s name 70 times on that list? So I can confidently predict the next link you’re going to click if you ever published a single Foster cartoon.

The League of Extraordinarily Selfless Fan Artists

Frank Wu has preemptively announced that he will decline if nominated for Best Fan Artist in 2008.

“This essay is incredibly hard to write. I don’t want to be misunderstood, to come across as churlish, arrogant, calculating or ungrateful…. Having won three Hugo Awards for Best Fan Artist, in three of the last four years, I have decided that – should I be nominated – I will decline the nomination [in 2008],” wrote Frank in an editorial published in Abyss and Apex issue 24, dated the fourth quarter or 2007.

I learned about Frank’s decision when his editorial popped up in response to a Google search about another fan artist. Such news must have been reported and discussed long since (though not anywhere Google could show me). Such a remarkable example of selflessness is worth retelling, in any case.

Frank thoughtfully explains that his decision has been made for the sake of the vitality of the Best Fan Artist Hugo category. He wants to “break the logjam” for other fan artists like Alan F. Beck, Taral Wayne, Dan Steffan, Marc Schirmeister, Alexis Gilliland, and Stu Shiffman. (Though Frank surely must know Gilliland and Shiffman have won before.)

To help show that withdrawing is not an ungrateful response to his popularity, Frank lists many other people who withdrew from past Hugo races. He might have added the two most important examples from the Best Fan Artist category itself. There’s not another category where serial winners have been so conscientious about sharing the limelight.

Phil Foglio won the Best Fan Artist Hugo in 1977 and 1978. During his last acceptance speech, Foglio withdrew from future fanartist Hugo consideration saying, “I know how hard it is to get on the list, and once you do it’s even harder to get off.” Victoria Poyser won the category in 1981 and 1982, then announced she would not accept future nominations. Foglio and Poyser both went on to professional success.

Frank does tell how Teddy Harvia and Brad Foster declined their nominations in 1997. He speculates, “Apparently they were trying to clear the path for fellow nominee Bill Rotsler, who would pick up his Hugo and then pass away a month later.” Well, no. Just the previous year (1996) Rotsler had won the Best Fan Artist Hugo, a Retro Hugo, and a Special Committee Award. He’d already cleared his own path.  The reason Harvia and Foster gave in 1997 is that they had a self-perceived conflict of interest created by their close involvement with the San Antonio Worldcon. Foster had drawn the covers for all the Progress Reports, and Harvia contributed other art. They made a highly-principled decision. A past progress report artist had been criticized for having an unfair advantage over competitors for the Hugo — that’s fandom for you, where someone demands that our top talents forego Hugo nominations as a condition of being allowed to provide art for free!