Phillips: Dave Locke (1944-2012)

Long time fannish friends Dave Locke (L) and David Hulan (R), taken September 30, 2012 at Locke’s home in Vermont. Photo credit: David Hulan

By Curt Phillips: Dave Locke passed away over the weekend. His son Brian stopped by Dave’s house earlier today after returning from an out of town trip and found him earlier today. Dave had suffered from serious heart troubles for year and had a heart attack a few years ago. His long time friend David Hulan – who’d visted Dave at his home in Pownell, VT exactly one month ago to the day, was called by Brian a short time ago, and Hulan broke the news to the rest of us on the Southern Fandom Classic discussion Group on YaHoo – of which Dave had been a member and a moderator.

I only met Dave Locke once; at a Midwestcon several years ago. But as often happens in Fandom, we quickly became fast friends and I felt that we both knew each other very well through our fanzine writing and our extensive private correspondence. I’m going to miss that friendship for the rest of my life. In spite of the fact that I’m one of the laziest fanwriters in all Fandom, Dave somehow managed to talk me into writing a semi-regular column for his on-line fanzine Time and Again. That ranks as no small feat and I’ll always be grateful to him that he did twist my arm over those articles. Somehow he knew I’d enjoy having written them after I got off my butt and actually wrote them, and Dave gave me as fine a showcase any fanwriter could ask for in T&A.

Dave Locke was one of those folks we rarely meet in life; He knew how to cut through the nonsense most of us clutter our lives up with and he could do that in just about any situation. He knew how to connect with a new friend instantly. He was witty, sardonic, analytically critical – yet he could find the proper context for any discussion. And he was intelligent. Vastly intelligent. He was also a kind man. Intolerant of fools and scoundrels, yet endlessly tolerant, helpful, and understanding of the shortcomings of any honest friend. He was a damn good friend to have your corner. I’m glad he was in mine for a time.

Dave, I wish we’d had a thousand face-to-face conversations at a thousand convention fan lounges instead of just that one at Midwestcon, but I’m glad we did have that day. It was a very good day.

This Week In Words: Coining “Sci-Fi”

I wrote a response to Dave Locke’s comment about “sci-fi” with some kind of bug in my code that keeps all the text from displaying. I couldn’t find the problem,  so I will post a blog entry instead because that’s working fine.

Dave, this may be a Lone Ranger/Tonto “what you mean, ‘we'” moment. I’ve been reading Ackerman tributes like the one in the LA Times giving him credit for coining “sci-fi”. None of the ones by fanzine fans have, except mine. Now I’ve outed myself. Last spring I was also the only sf fan in the room who didn’t know that “Ego” was Arthur C. Clarke’s nickname.

The OED sf word webpage has Heinlein down for using it in a 1949 letter published in Grumbles from the Grave. Has anybody got a copy of that? Who is the letter to? Heinlein did coin a couple words in his career, but he was also a very reserved fellow — did he really just spontaneously toss “sci-fi” into a letter to somebody? Somebody who would have picked it up and run with it?

You have piqued my curiosity, because even if Ackerman didn’t invent the term, I’d like to be convinced that Heinlein got people using it.

The term “sci-fic” was around for awhile, but it seems fairly obvious that “sci-fi” rhymes with “hi-fi”, the heavily-marketed term for expensive stereo components. Apparently that term came into use in America after World War II when the beginnings of that technology were brought over from Germany. That’s early enough to have influenced Heinlein’s verbal imagination.

Do you know where Ackerman credited Heinlein for inventing the term? (Warner’s two fanhistories don’t include “sci-fi” in the index, so no quickie answer there.)

Snapshots 2

Nine developments of interest to fans:

(1) The end of the story run here about decommissioning ceremonies for Star Trek: The Experience has been written at

On Monday September 1st, 2008, over 1500 fans gathered in the Space Quest Casino inside the Las Vegas Hilton, to pay their final respects and observe the final decommissioning ceremony of Star Trek: The Experience.

(2) Harlan Ellison has sued Paramount alleging the studio is withholding payment after licensing the rights to the plot of his “City on the Edge of Forever” Star Trek episode to Simon & Schuster. 

(3) What the Talking Squid says is true:

Just look at what Zadie has done here: she has managed to write an exceptionally interesting introduction to a man who was not particularly interesting by any of the standard measures.

(4) In 2006, while they were in the neighborhood for L.A.con IV, the Heinlein Society paid a visit to the LaurelCanyon (Los Angeles hillside home that Robert and Leslyn Heinlein bought in 1938:

The house…is partly described in several stories, including “Year of the Jackpot” and “And He Built a Crooked House.” Later, the Manãna Literary Society would often meet in this house, as described in Anthony Boucher’s Rocket to the Morgue.

(5) Thanks to arrangements made by Steven Silver, the official Hugo Awards website will soon have a photo of the 1982 Hugo to fill that page, instead of the little red “x” that’s been heroically performing that duty. The Chicago Worldcons of 1982 and 1991 used Lucite Hugo rockets instead of the more familiar chrome-plated rockets produced by Peter Weston — and when there was a raised-pinky objection on the Smofs list to calling these “plastic” Hugos, Dave Locke blinded them with science:

I dunno what they were, but Lucite is defined as a transparent thermoplastic acrylic resin. Maybe I’m wrong, but that sounds like one of the many sins below the ‘plastic’ umbrella.

(6) All this talk about historic Hugos has prompted Taral Wayne to claim his share of the credit for the 1978 Hugo trophy:

I was downloading photos of the Hugo awards and noticed that the credit line for the 1978 Phoenix Worldcon was blank. I don’t know who designed the base per se… What I can say now is that the art on the engraved plaque on the base is a piece of art of mine. It was also used as a logo for the con, and put to various other uses. I don’t have one of the Hugos of course, but received a copy of the engraving anyway.

(7) Astronomers began discovering “hypervelocity” stars only recently: so far, they’ve spotted more than a dozen.

The stars stood out because they traveled faster than any stars ever seen — fast enough to completely escape the Milky Way. Here’s what some astronomers think may be happening. A binary star system — two stars bound by their mutual gravitational pull — skirts by the supermassive black hole. One star in the system enters orbit around the black hole, while the other star flies free of its companion. The first star eventually falls into the black hole, while the second star shoots away from the black hole at extreme speed.

(8) Janice Gelb asks, “Have you see the Diagram prize for the oddest book title of the year?” The Guardian has also posted a slide show of some of the covers.

(9) And there’s a brief note in the September 4 edition of Los AngelesTimes about how things are progressing in the Clark Rockefeller case:

Prosecutors in Massachusetts said Wednesday that they are close to securing an indictment for kidnapping against the man who portrayed himself as Clark Rockefeller, as authorities in Los Angeles continue to explore his possible connection to a double murder.

[Includes links via the Nashville club newzine, and Andrew Porter.]

You Tarzan, Me Cheeta

Dave Locke reminisced on the Smofs list about the 1972 Westercon where Johnny Weissmuller, Jock Mahoney and virtually all of the extant Tarzan actors were present for a Burroughs-fan “Dum-Dum”:

I remember they all appeared on Carson‘s Tonight show that same weekend. Funniest thing, though, was Weissmuller drinking too much and, from the bar, cracking up most everyone in the hotel when he’d frequently give forth with his famous Tarzan “yell.”

Weissmuller is long gone, but Cheeta the Chimp who starred with him, remarkably is still alive. And he’s finally gotten around to writing his tell-all Hollywood autobiography, Me Cheeta.

Cheeta tells it all, a life lived with the stars, a monkey stolen from deepest Africa forced to make a living in the fake jungles of Hollywood.

At the age of 75, he is by far the oldest chimpanzee ever recorded.

Backdate: 7/18/2008: Put Dave’s story back the way he told it. Fined myself three bananas.