Patrick H. Adkins (1948-2015)

By Guy H. Lillian III: Patrick H. Adkins, New Orleans author and lifelong Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, has passed away.  His books included Lord of the Crooked Paths (1987), Master of the Fearful Depths (1989), Sons of the Titans (1990), and The Third Beast (2011), plus a volume of previously uncollected Edgar Rice Burroughs short stories collected by himself and John H. Guidry and a booklet of David H. Keller stories, The Last Magician.  He was once editor of the New Orleans SF Association’s genzine, Nolazine.  He is survived by wife Dixie, a son, a daughter, and friends without number, including me, all of whom are devastated by this horrible, horrible news.

Rosy and I send our love and best hopes to Dixie, their kids, and John, who had been friends with his fellow Burroughs-o-phile since 1964.  Modern New Orleans fandom dates from two events in that year: John’s meeting with Justin Winston at a French Quarter bookstore, and his first phone encounter with Pat, a four-hour conversation that really, had no end until this past Tuesday.

Pat was a gentleman, a scholar, and a fast friend.

Dennis Dolbear Passes Away

Dennis Dolbear at DeepSouthCon 50 in 2012. Photo by Rich Lynch.

Dennis Dolbear at DeepSouthCon 50 in 2012. Photo by Rich Lynch.

Louisiana fan Dennis Dolbear died June 17 from pneumonia and septicemia reports SF Site News.

Dolbear joined the New Orleans Science Fiction Association (NOSFA) as a young fan within a few years of its 1967 founding, and enthusiastically helped create its fannish mythos. Although the growing club was just a few years old, some of its charter members shortly began to feel overwhelmed by an influx of Star Trek fans. To console themselves, they gathered at the home of “Faruk von Turk” (Justin Winston) and established the “Sons of the Sand.” As Dolbear later explained:

The Sons of the Sand (and the affiliated Daughters of the Desert) is actually the parent group for a number of affiliated organizations such as the Cubist Poetry Society, the Damon Runyon Society of N.O., the Uptown Meerschaum Collectors, and the N.O. Double Contra Basso Jug Band, to name but a few. The only requirement for joining either the parent or subsidiary societies is that the applicant be of gentle (i.e. noble) birth. Validity of pedigree will be decided by the Admissions Committee. (Note: ersatz SCA titles are, of course, not acceptable.) The Caliph (or leader) of the organization is the member with the most distinguished ancestry. This post is presently held by Faruk von Turk, who has authenticated his lineage to Charlemagne and Charles Martel. The post is also claimed by Donald Walsh, Jr., who has adduced some evidence that he is descended from the Roman emperor Caligula. The Committee has not fully accepted his claim, although if validated it would of course preempt von Turk’s. 

Dennis Dolbear and Mike Macro when the world was young.

Dolbear was a long-time member of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance, active from 1971 to 1994. He regularly contributed NOSFAn, the clubzine he coedited with Peter Bezbak and, as the years passed, other zines with such colorful titles as Lapis Lazuli and Bouffant Jellyfish. For a time it became a SFPA tradition to list his name on the masthead among the officers under an ever-changing series of titles like “Official Provider of Life Support & Morale Boosts,” and “Bestest Buddy & Sweet Patootie.”

Dolbear was an attorney by profession. He and his colleague, Guy Lillian III, once thought to generate some business from the out-of-town football fans who came to New Orleans for bowl games and got into trouble in the French Quarter. The duo took out an ad in the Florida Flambeau, the FSU student paper, advertising their legal services. Their ad generated a lot of publicity, if not business. Sports Illustrated picked up the story (“Ill Legal Pitch”) and Dolbear gave an interview to the Orlando Sentinel:

Using unique entrepreneurial skills, Dolbear and Lillian have cast their lines into the water, looking to snag jail bait in a sea of N’awlins debauchery. The two civil attorneys from New Orleans took out an ad in the Florida Flambeau, the Florida State campus newspaper, offering their legal services to anyone suffering from the Bourbon Street Blues.

”If you get in trouble, we can help you out,” reads the ad. ”If you need a lawyer in New Orleans, call us.”

”It’s not so much that we’re ambulance chasers,” Dolbear said. ”Ambulance chasers are trying to cultivate a situation that might not otherwise exist. In our case, we are simply offering our services to people who get arrested. If you get in trouble and you don’t know who to call, we are here.”

Perhaps Dolbear’s most riveting piece of fanwriting was “Survivor” in Challenger 23, an account of how he and his 85-year-old mother clung to the side of their house to avoid drowning in the floodwaters released by Hurricane Katrina:

We then took the only refuge left. We went into the water – now over 9 feet high – and clung to the gutters above, in a 125 mile-per-hour wind and swift flood. (My mother is nothing if not tough.) After a short while, I moved to a tree outside, with flexible branches that I could crouch in. From this spot, I could relieve the stress on the gutter – already starting to bend – and be in a position to save my mother if she should let go – which she almost did, several times and did, once – I dived beneath the water and pulled her, with strength I got from who knows where. But she held, and I held, and we endured about two or maybe three hours in the full wrath of Katrina. I will never forget this, not as long as I live, and mere words seem inadequate to describe the storm’s power – and how small, how vulnerable it made you feel.

But after a few hours, the wind abated, and – could it be – the water actually started to drop. I checked again, mentally marking the water height against the bricks – yes, yes! it was dropping! We might not die after all! Our danger had passed.

No wonder Guy Lillian III ended his message about Dolbear’s passing — “[I] congratulate each and every one of us on having such a remarkable friend.”

Lookout Shreveport!

The only kind of “incoming” fanzine editor Guy Lillian III ordinarily watches for are letters of comment on Challenger. But the Shreveport resident might have a new worry, suggests Andrew Porter – North Korean missles! The Washington Post reports —  

The latest ridiculous North Korean propaganda video includes threats to launch … missiles at four U.S. cities: Washington, Colorado Springs, Colo., Los Angeles and Honolulu.

The only problem is that the video, released by the state-run media organization Uriminzokkiri, misidentifies Colorado Springs’ location by about 1,000 miles. As the voice-over excitedly discusses North Korea’s plan to launch a missile at the home of a number of important military installations, as well as the U.S. Air Force Academy, a dot on a map meant to indicate the city actually appears somewhere over the deep south.

You can hear the narrator mention Colorado Springs at about 1 minute, 20 seconds into the video, as a scary-looking line is shown shooting out from North Korea and landing somewhere in the vicinity of Shreveport, La., a 900-mile drive southeast from the intended target.

Better keep watching the skies there, Guy.

The North Korean video had already alarmed another friend of mine who awoke to it playing on the news one morning. His company creates collections of synthesizer music for use in the film industry, and the video’s soundtrack is their composition.   

 

Nearly Gone With The Wind

Guy Lillian III says he had never seen a twister and regretted it. Then on October 29, while the latest in a series of terrible thunderstorms was marching across his section of Louisiana, Guy started driving home from work down the Old Benton Road and got caught in something much stronger and more dangerous than he expected:

A trashcan lid spun over my hood like a giant frisbee. The rain turned white. The white became opaque. I couldn’t see the road. I hit my emergency blinkers and pulled over, hoping I wouldn’t find a ditch… I remembered some of that twister [documentary]: the sudden white wind tearing hell out of the world. I said to myself, “Hell, I’m in the middle of it,” because I knew what was coming inside that depthless white pall. 

Now I was heading away from the action.  I floored Little Red and ran for it…. I turned back to Old Benton Road.  The tall sign of one of the car dealerships was twisted like a pipecleaner and leaning. That just happened, I said to myself…. 

Guy assures everyone that he came through “Unscathed, both me and car — except for a small crack in the windshield (the car, not me). Found out that the twister was a Force 2.  I’m not rattled about it, just … thoughtful.” A full write-up is coming in the next Challenger.

Challenger 29

The latest issue of Guy Lillian III’s fine genzine Challenger can be read online at www.challzine.net/. Guy’s twenty-ninth issue serves up a long list of delights:

Beautiful and funny cover by Alan White, articles by Cheryl Morgan, Rich Lynch, Mike Resnick, Joe Green, Warren Buff, Steve Silver, many others. Our theme this issue is sports, but there’s much else, and we hope you’ll enjoy it. (Buff’s op-ed on “The Graying of Fandom” is an important piece. Read! Respond!)

Keeping a Weather Eye

I told Guy Lillian III via e-mail this morning that I can hardly imagine another one of these hundred-year-storms is homing in on New Orleans. I read news reports all the time about how much work needs to be done to put the place back together after Katrina, and now this. What a nightmare. The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday morning:

The storm had downgraded slightly overnight from its Category 4 status, with winds in excess of 156, but forecasters expected the tempest to strengthen as it approached the mainland. New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin had earlier described Gustav as “the storm of the century,” packing far stronger winds and storm surges than even Hurricane Katrina, which raked across New Orleans three years ago, causing 1,800 deaths and vast flooding and destruction.

Guy and Rosy live in Shreveport, almost 300 miles from New Orleans, far enough inland that they expect to be shielded from the ferocious winds of this latest hurricane:

Once this bastard makes landfall it will probably dump a goodly bit of the Gulf of Mexico onto our area as it plows through. Shreveport has one virtue: it’s well inland, in the NW corner of Louisiana. We might get some street flooding but wind damage? Very doubtful.

As for fans in the New Orleans area, Guy has heard:

John Guidry is going to Atlanta to stay with family.Justin and Annie Winston are, so far, staying put. Justin will stay at home no matter what, just as he did during Katrina. Haven’t heard about anyone else.

Challenger #28 Online

Guy H. Lillian III has posted a new issue of Challenger, his Hugo-nominated fanzine. It’s a tremendous zine, with outstanding articles by Resnick, Benford, Toni Weisskopf, James Bacon, and Joseph Green.

My contribution is “Flashman at Klendathu.” Guy invited me to pay tribute to George Macdonald Fraser, author of the popular series of Flashman historical novels, who had recently passed away. As a fan’s imagination is prone to do, mine wandered from the stack of books Fraser had actually written to the novels we now would never see – such as the oft-hinted adventure that would explain how Flashman ended up fighting on both sides of the American Civil War. I knew I’d miss Fraser’s sharp wit and his gift for deflating pretensions about the glory of war. The free association set in motion by those thoughts at last made me wonder what Starship Troopers would have taught about military life if it had been Flashman telling the story instead of Johnny Rico. “Flashman at Klendathu” fills in that blank. (And the Charlie Williams illo is perfect!)

A final word: The Challenger website has announced a contest for the best-designed favicon, the little image that appears next to the URL address line in your web browser (if the site has one loaded.) Entries should be sent to challzine@gmail.com by the deadline, which somewhat arbitrarily is before “The next issue of Challzine — or December 31, 2008 — whichever comes first.” Entries will be displayed in the next issue and voted upon by the readers.