Curt Stubbs (1948-2019)

Longtime Arizona fan Curt Stubbs (1948-2019) passed away on September 14 at Pepe Hospice in Tucson, Arizona, of a brain hemorrhage, complicated by chronic ill health.

He discovered fandom in 1974 and soon became one of the pillars of Phoenix fandom, helping to found LepreCon, and the Central Arizona Science Fiction Literary Society (CASFS).

Curt also was involved with the successful Phoenix in 1978 Worldcon bid, and worked on the Denver Worldcon art show (Denvention II, 1981). In between, Denver’s MileHiCon 11 (1979) made him their Fan Guest of Honor.

Jeanne Grace Jackson’s tribute in the September issue of DASFAx adds:

…Curt was a lifelong poet, and was sometimes published. He served as a perennial docent at the University of Arizona Poetry Center; his tenure there—the longest on record—was terminated by his death. He was also active in Tucson’s LGBTQ community, and recognized by the Southern Arizona Senior Pride organization as their Poet Laureate in 2017. Several Tucson fans are working to conserve his papers.

 …During my early years in fandom, he was known as “Captain Coors,” always the life of the party at fannish gatherings with tricorn hat, handlebar mustache, and a can of Coors beer. The back seat of “Cthulhu,” his jalopy, often overflowed with empties. He and I enjoyed many a gaming session together with other fannish friends, most often playing Tunnels & Trolls or Diplomacy. We shared many good times in Phoenix fandom, as well as a few rocky ones (during which we were allies, not antagonists)….

He is survived by his son, Joel, his granddaughter, Eryn, his sister, Donna.

Curt Stubbs in 2017.

Pixel Scroll 9/11/19 Starting At Jupiter, Ending At The Sun

(1) POKER. Terri Ash and Ariela Housman of Geek Calligraphy say they will put out an online fanzine at the end of the year “to provide a publication venue for fan art that is otherwise excluded from the Fan Artist Hugo award eligibility criteria”: “Announcing the Launch of The Very Official Dead Dog Art Zine”

Well, we’re putting our money where our mouths are. It’s important to us that there be as much access to Hugo Award eligibility as possible. That means both fixing the constitution (the root problem) and also providing an outlet for people while the amendment is ratified.

The only submission criteria for the Very Official Dead Dog Art Zine is that you follow our submission template. That’s it. The entire point of this zine is that everyone’s art is worthy of inclusion. There is no jury, no one will tell you that your art isn’t good enough. You made it. That’s enough for us.

“The Very Official Dead Dog Art Zine”  Tagline: “Because Nothing Pokes Someone In The Eye Like a Really Big Stick”

In 2019 the Hugo Committee ruled that, for the purposes of the Best Fan Artist category, art that has only been displayed online does not meet the requirements of this definition.

However! Fanzines that only exist online still count. (Don’t think too hard about this logic, it goes nowhere.) By publishing this zine at the very end of the year, we are offering a last rules-compliant venue for potential fan artists to display work they finished too late to display anywhere else.

Dublin 2019 Hugo Administrator Nicholas Whyte declined to comment when I asked him whether the above statement is an accurate corollary to the ruling he gave them about what could be allowed in last year’s Hugo Voter Packet, i.e., that art from an online fanzine would have satisfied his interpretation of the rules.

(2) WHAT DO THESE NUMBERS MEAN? This week two different writers have posted Hugo statistics showing the male/female ratio of nominees over the course of the award’s history. The Fantasy Inn created a animated graphic about the Best Novel category.

James Davis Nicoll ran the stats for all the fiction categories in “Gender and the Hugo Awards, by the Numbers” at Tor.com.

When I heard people were apparently upset about the gender balance of this year’s Hugo winners, I thought I could give the records a quick eyeball and fill the empty abyss of daily existence for a short time establish once and for all whether or not this year was particularly atypical. If there’s one thing known about human nature, it is that concrete numbers resolve all arguments.

When questioned about the purpose of his post, James Davis Nicoll said, “Actually, I just like counting stuff. I don’t know why people read agendas into a presentation of numerical data.”

For myself I’d say — I read all six novels on the Hugo ballot. There wasn’t one I thought didn’t belong. The field was surprisingly strong. And the book I expected to like the least (before I’d read any of them) is the one I ended up voting in first place. Does this ballot need to be defended?

(3) DINO ROCK. The third Jurassic World movie is scheduled for a 2021 release. Meantime, Director Colin Trevorrow is keeping up interest. He’s unveiling another short dinosaur adventure September 15 on FX.

(4) MORE TO READ. James Davis Nicoll scouts ahead and finds “Five Collections of Classic SF Ready for Rediscovery” at Tor.com.

Time erodes. Time erodes author reputations. When new books stop appearing, old readers forget a once favorite author and new readers may never encounter writers who were once well known.

It’s fortunate that we live in something of a golden age of reprints, whether physical books or ebooks. This is also the golden age of finding long-out-of-print books via online used book services. Now authors perhaps unjustly forgotten can reach new readers. I’ve been reminded of a few such authors; let me share a few of them with you.

(5) A THEORY ABOUT SFF FANS. After rereading John W. Campbell Jr.’s The Moon is Hell! James Wallace Harris asked himself, “Why Read Outdated Science Fiction?” Bear in mind this answer comes from the fan who writes the Classics of Science Fiction blog.

…Reading “The Moon is Hell!” showed me I didn’t care about science. Nor did I care about Campbell’s growing bad reputation. The story is everything. That’s what it comes down to. I’m also in a Facebook group that’s discussing “In the Walls of Eryx” by H. P. Lovecraft, another outdated story about intelligent life on Venus by another shunned writer. Again, it’s the story stupid.

We don’t read for facts. We don’t care about literary standing or the author’s morality. Few readers compare the books in their collection to find the best one to read next. We select books on random whims. If the story grabs us we keep reading. Readers are simple creatures of habit. I could clear a shelf of my books without looking at the titles and it wouldn’t matter, because I’ve got plenty more to randomly grab.

(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 11, 1856 Richard Ganthony. Playwright of  A Message from Mars: A Story Founded on the Popular Play by Richard Ganthony which is a genre version of Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Really, it is. Published in 1912, it was filmed twice, both times as A Message from Mars (1913 and 1921) and I’m assuming as silent movies given their dates. It would be novelized by Lester Lurgan. (Died 1924.)
  • Born September 11, 1928 Earl Holliman, 91. He’s in the cook in Forbidden Planet and he shares a scene with Robbie the Robot. A few short years later, he’s Conrad in Visit to a Small Planet though it’ll be nearly fifteen before his next genre role as Harry Donner in the Six Million Dollar Man’s Wine, Women and War TV film. He shows up as Frank Domino in the Night Man series, an adaption of a Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse character. What the Frell is that publisher?!? Surprisingly he’s done no other genre series beyond being in the original Twilight Zone series premiere as Mick Ferris in the “Where Is Everybody?” episode. 
  • Born September 11, 1929 Björn Nyberg. A Swedish writer known largely for his Conan stories which given that he wrote just one non-Conan story makes sense. His first book in the series was The Return of Conan which was revised for publication by L. Sprague de Camp. Likewise, they later did Conan the AvengerConan the VictoriousConan the Swordsman and Sagas of Conan. The latter two are available on iBooks and Kindle. (Died 2004.)
  • Born September 11, 1930 Jean-Claude Forest. Forest became famous when he created Barbarella, which was originally published in France in V Magazine in 1962.  In 1967 it was adapted by Terry Southern and Roger Vadim and made into 1968 film of that name, with him acting as design consultant.  It was considered an adult comic by the standards of the time. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 11, 1934 Ian Abercrombie. He played a most excellent and proper Alfred Pennyworth on Birds of Prey, a Professor Crumbs in Wizards of Waverly Place, was Wiseman in Army of Darkness and Palpatine in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. (Died 2012.)
  • Born September 11, 1941 Kirby McCauley. Literary agent and editor, who as the former who represented authors such as Stephen King, George R.R. Martin and Roger Zelazny. And McCauley chaired the first World Fantasy Convention, an event he conceived with T. E. D. Klein and several others. As Editor, his works include Night Chills: Stories of Suspense, Frights, Frights 2, and Night Chills. (Died 2014.)
  • Born September 11, 1952 Sharon Lee, 67. She is the co-author with Steve Miller of the Liaden universe novels and stories which are quite excellent reading. They won Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction in 2012.
  • Born September 11, 1960 William Tienken. Mike has an obituary here. (Died 2014.)
  • Born September 11, 1965 Catriona (Cat) Sparks, 54. Winner of an astounding thirteen Ditmar Awards for writing, editing and artwork, her most recent in 2014 when her short story “Scarp” was awarded a Ditmar for Best Short Story and The Bride Price a Ditmar for Best Collected Work.  She has just one novel to date, Lotus Blue, but has an amazing amount of short stories which are quite stellar. Lotus Blue and The Bride Price are both available on iBooks and Kindle. Off to buy both now. 

(7) COMICS SECTION.

(8) 91 PIECES OF ART ON THE WALL. …Take one down and write a big check…. Lots of great-looking artwork and all for sale. IX Gallery calls the exhibition — “Amaitzing: Don Maitz”.

IX Gallery is pleased to bring forth a veritable cornucopia of Maitz for your purchasing pleasure!

(9) ELLISON AT IGUANACON II. At the end of this Reddit post — “My Harlan Ellison photo – 1978” – is a link to the photo itself.

This is my Harlan Ellison story: I saw & met him in 1978 at the World Science Fiction Convention in Phoenix AZ over the Labor Day weekend. It was IguanaCon II, the 36th Worldcon, and Harlan was the Guest of Honor.

Harlan had boasted that he could write anywhere, any time — so the con organizers put up a clear plastic tent in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency, gave him a table, a chair, a manual typewriter, and a ream of paper… and there he sat, for much of three or four days, banging out a short story while fans went about their way. The result was “Count the Clock that Tells the Time”.

(10) DIAL M FOR MOTIONLESS. Writing for Gizmodo’s io9 (“The Beautifully Dull Paradox of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 40 Years Later”), it’s clear from the get go that James Whitbrook cares little for ST:TMP as a film even as he acknowledges its place in wider Trek fandom.

Forty years ago a landmark moment in Star Trek’s history arrived, in the form of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It’s an important chapter in the series’ survival, the turning point from canceled cult classic to enduring icon of science fiction. But there is a reason we remember The Motion Picture’s place in history more than we remember The Motion Picture: It’s boring as all hell.

As fans across America prepare to revisit TMP this month in celebratory screenings ahead of its actual 40th birthday this December, what they’re about to re-experience is a moment in history that is perhaps best remembered as such than for what it actually is. The Motion Picture’s existence is paradoxical. It’s both an important moment to be remembered, and a movie so cosmically overwrought and forgettable that to contemplate seeing it again in the dark environment of a movie theater once more is to challenge your eyelids to an existential test of endurance.

(11) NOT PETS. How do you move a lot of rocks? Very carefully: “Cambridge museum’s 150-tonne rock collection moves to new home”.

Geologists have begun the process of moving a museum’s 150-tonne “mountain” of fossils, rocks and dinosaur bones to a new climate-controlled home.

The vast hoard, ranging from mammoth tusks to meteorites, has been collected by the Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge since it was founded in 1728.

It includes exhibits from Charles Darwin’s Beagle voyage and Scott’s British Antarctic Expedition of 1913.

Museum director Liz Hide said it had “enormous potential” for researchers.

The two-year move involves transferring about two million specimens from the university’s Atlas Building to the £2m Colin Forbes collection centre in west Cambridge.

…The Sedgwick Museum is considered one of the largest and most historically important centres for rocks, minerals and fossils in the world, attracting global research teams.

It boasts giant Jurassic ammonites, intact ichthyosaur fossils and mammoth tusks unearthed locally – with some pieces thought to be more than 200 million years old.

Of course, the BBC uses the opportunity to pun out an obsolete measurement:

…Museum conservator Sarah Wallace-Johnson said the climate would be controlled to prevent rust and corrosion, as “rocks are surprisingly sensitive things”.

“We’re moving about 15,000 drawers of rocks – with an average weight of 10 kilos each – it is literally moving a mountain,” she said.

“Each column of drawers alone is about 300 kilos (47 stones).”

(12) HUGO REVIVAL. Maybe you visited its original location? “Legendary Boston bookstore reopens in Lee barn”SeacoastOnline has the details.

When Avenue Victor Hugo Books met the end of its nearly 30-year run on Boston’s Newbury Street, the building’s monthly rent had been raised from $12,000 to $25,000, and Diesel Jeans was slated to move in.

That was 2004. The redolent, woody fragrance of cedar and oak, emanating from millions of crusty pages in a dusty atmosphere — held dearly by those who valued the space as a literary haven — faded away.

Fifteen years later, the store is newly located in a bucolic red barn in Lee, beside a white farmhouse where owner Vincent McCaffrey now lives with his wife, Thais Coburn, and their daughter and son-in-law. After moving to Lee three years ago, McCaffrey and Colburn decided to revive the erudite escape.

It’s a reincarnation of the Back Bay shop, with the same wistfulness and feeling of being homesick, yet not knowing what for. But in New Hampshire, the barn is rent-free and has its own parking. There’s also little-to-no traffic on the quiet country road.

Avenue Victor Hugo opened in 1975, following McCaffrey’s ventures selling books from a pushcart and working as a desk clerk at a city hotel….

(13) GOT LACTOSE? “Earliest direct evidence of milk consumption” – BBC has the story.

Scientists have discovered the earliest direct evidence of milk consumption by humans.

The team identified milk protein entombed in calcified dental plaque (calculus) on the teeth of prehistoric farmers from Britain.

It shows that humans were consuming dairy products as early as 6,000 years ago – despite being lactose intolerant.

This could suggest they processed the raw milk into cheese, yoghurt or some other fermented product.

This would have reduced its lactose content, making it more palatable.

The team members scraped samples of plaque off the teeth, separated the different components within it and analysed them using mass spectrometry.

They detected a milk protein called beta-lactoglobulin (BLG) in the tartar of seven individuals spanning early to middle Neolithic times.

…Genetic studies of ancient populations from across Eurasia show that lactase persistence only became common very recently, despite the consumption of milk products in the Neolithic. The mutation had started to appear by the Bronze Age, but even at this time, it was only present in 5-10% of Europeans

(14) ON THE BLOCK. Profiles in History is running an Icons and Legends of Hollywood Auction on September 25-26. The goodies include —

• “SS Venture” steamship filming miniature from King Kong (1933).

• “Dorothy Gale” scene specific screen used black and white gingham pinafore from The Wizard of Oz.

• 20th Century-Fox President Spyros Skouras’s Best Picture Academy Award for Gentleman’s Agreement.

• Orson Welles “Charles Foster Kane” coat from Citizen Kane.

• Marilyn Monroe “Clara” nightgown from A Ticket To Tomahawk.

• Property from the estate of Martin Landau including his Golden Globe awards for Mission: Impossible and Ed Wood.

• The very first Emmy Award for “Best Film Made for Television” ever presented.

• Original “Dragula” coffin dragster from The Munsters and Munster, Go Home!

• Original Type-2 Phaser Pistol used in the Star Trek: TOS episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” – from the collection of Nichelle Nichols.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “One Unique Creature” on Vimeo, Frances Haszard explores a mysterious hotel.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Chris Rose, JJ, Michael J. Walsh, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Ingvar.]

Reminiscence for File 770’s 40th: Living the News of 1978

By Chip Hitchcock: At some ages any year may seem momentous, but 1978 still stands out in memory. I was a couple of years out of college, but still singing in Harvard’s summer chorus and signing books out to borrowers at the MITSFS (owner of the world’s largest open library of SFF); I was working as a ~chemistry researcher, with no idea that in another couple of years I’d be massively more entangled in fandom and working for two other fans at a computer company.

For a start, Boskone (then and now my local convention) grew from 1000 people to over 1400 after a couple of years of near-stability. Star Wars, which had played downtown for several months the previous year, is the obvious explanation for this, and maybe the growth past 1900 in 1979, but how they found us is anyone’s guess; as far as I remember, Boskones then didn’t do much advertising because there was no obvious place for it. Later this led to strains on the committee, and finally to the Boskone from Hell, but at the time growth seemed like an unalloyed good; in 1979 it meant we could take all of New England’s largest hotel, instead of just working the fringes around the biggest ballrooms.

The immediate effect for me was that the RISFA Players had to do three performances in a row of the latest Anderson-Keller musical, Rivets Redux, in order to seat everyone who wanted to see it. I was playing Charles Dexter Ward (one of several obsolete characters in search of new employment), but also served as producer, something resembling music director, and technical director; this last required coming up with a representation of the appearance of the mother ship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (the previous year’s other SF blockbuster), with a jury rig that we were lucky survived all the performances. (Since this was the RISFA Players, who had first been seen in “Buckets of Gor, or Abbott and Costello Meet the Priest-Kings”, the ship appeared not to the infamous five-note motif but to “Dueling Tubas”.) In addition to the usual problems of an amateur production split between two cities (the creators and most of the cast were in Providence), we dealt with two record-setting snowstorms in the previous few weeks; the second of these shut down the city for a week, right when the entire convention was busiest getting ready. When we finally moved into the hotel we found that all the other scheduled meetings had canceled, which at least gave us a space for some desperately-needed on-site rehearsal.

Then there was the Boston in 1980 Worldcon bid. I had joined MCFI (the sponsoring organization) just a few months before, and immediately “volunteered” (i.e., I was the only person not to step back quickly enough) to find and liaise with a printer so that we’d have someone ready to do the first progress report if we won. (I just discovered that the scan of File:770 #7 is online, listing me as an “officer” of Noreascon Two due to this job.) This later led to my producing several books for NESFA Press, and editing at least one of them. I’d seen a few Worldcon bids go by but hadn’t voted before 1977; MCFI was for the time a stable group (about as many couples as singles, many in solid jobs in computers and I think averaging a little older than typical) chaired by Leslie Turek (later FGoH at Sasquan). Fandom was getting less gender-imbalanced—after the New Orleans in 1976 Worldcon bid had been torpedoed by its CVB rep (“a great place for you to hold your convention, and a great city for your wives to go shopping in!”) I estimated from published lists that the membership that heard this line at the 1974 Worldcon was about a quarter female—but it had been some time since a woman had been sole chair.

Somewhere in this timeline, Iguanacon (the upcoming Worldcon) asked MCFI and its Baltimore opposition to each take on an area of the convention; we were given the costume contest and promptly dubbed ourselves the Boston Massaquerade. I was not going to be involved with the organizing, but it was assumed (based on the aforementioned musicals, which were an outgrowth of backstage work at high-school and college theaters) that I would be tech director—Masquerades being rather less rigorous 40 years ago. (These days the TDs usually have considerable current experience.) This was the first time that a Masquerade had been held in a real theater rather than a hotel hall, and the Phoenix “Symphony Hall” came with more lights already hung than we knew what to do with—and people to focus and run them, apparently already in the budget. So the Masquerade was displayed well despite my inexperience.

Iguanacon II Program Book cover by William R. Warren.

Iguanacon itself had made news for changing its chair a few months out, for reasons discussed extensively at the time, and for GoH Harlan Ellison’s steps to prevent any money being spent on his behalf in a state that had refused to ratify the ERA; despite the noise, and weather that was hot even for Phoenix over Labor Day, it had significantly more attendees than any previous Worldcon, after a few years’ pause in the steady increase that attendance had seen since the 1960’s. The abovementioned scan has discussions of some of the other uproars, but doesn’t mention the report I heard that the Art Show had to be torn down and reconstructed to allow passage from fire doors on an inner exhibit hall through the show to the doors on its outside wall. However, Iguanacon also had some innovations that are still well-remembered:

  • They persuaded the Hyatt coffee shop to stay open 24/7. An impeachable source told me this made the Hyatt so much money that other Worldcon Hyatts a few years later reportedly refused to believe the figures—which was a pity given the shortage of food around them. These days fandom might or might not average old enough that all-night food wouldn’t be useful.
  • They picked a hotel with a serious mingling space. The Google view tells me the atrium couldn’t have been much over a hundred feet each way, but crossing it always took at least 10 minutes because you kept running into people you could stop and talk to; in a typical lobby or corridor that would get you snarled at, or pushed. Many Worldcons since have aimed for such a feature.

I answered a few questions from a local TV station that was interviewing people in the atrium. I didn’t see the result, but I was told later that the news item had led off with my comment about blaming my parents because they gave me Tom Swift instead of the Hardy Boys at age 8. That’ll teach me to be smart to mundanes….

MCFI threw parties (on a much smaller budget than nowadays, although large enough that we used the rooms’ swivel chairs as impromptu dollies for ice) and hung hundreds of feet of computer-printed banners (one of the few reasons to miss old-fashioned line-printers and their fan-fold output) on the stacks of railing around the abovementioned atrium. At one of the parties I met the only other ancestral Hitchcock I’ve run into in fandom. (It’s an old name, but not common.) We were pronounced the winner after a notoriously humorless business-meeting chair first announced that a hoax bid (of which there were several) had won. The next day, somebody at our advance-sales table started a conversation with Spider and Jeanne Robinson, who had just won a Hugo for “Stardance”; the result was a performance, called “Higher Ground”, which showed some gravity-bound idea of what stardance might be like.

This was in the early days of airline deregulation, when the cheapest fares required staying for a week, so a lot of us hung around in the hotel lobby until it was late enough Tuesday night to go to the airport for a flight one minute into Wednesday. It turned out groups of us were taking two different airlines’ flights through O’Hare, so we blearily wandered into each other around dawn on Thursday while waiting for our connections.

And a ridiculously long chain of inattentions and coincidences had led to my singing in a chorus behind the the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood (their summer home) just days before leaving for Phoenix; I ended up chorusing a handful of concerts with the BSO over the next several years. So when I got home from Iguanacon I was full of beans but had no idea how busy my life was about to get.

On The Occasion of Your Anniversary

Commemorative covers with Iguanacon cancellations sold at the 1978 Worldcon.

By Steve Davidson: Where was I in 1978, the year that File 770 (the fanzine, not the room) was born?

I was in college in northern New Jersey.  Which made it very easy for me to continue my engagement with fandom, as I could hop onto the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad at College Station after a short walk from campus, could usually avoid paying the fare by figuring out which car the conductor was in and walking ahead of him down the length of the train (or get off and back on at a later station so as to circle back around behind the conductor. Hey, you go to college for a well-rounded education, right?), switch to the PATH in Hoboken and then switch to one of several different subway lines depending upon destination…usually either the somewhat Slan shack occupied by Mesrs. Farber, Shiffman, I think a guy named Patrick (for a while), and Suzle & Jerry and a host of other transients, or off to the HQ of Algol/Starship and a meeting of the Futurians or Lunarians or Fanoclasts or some other fannish name that escapes me right now, and engage in an afternoon and evening basking in the warm glow that was Fannish Society;  discussing the latest works, catching a movie premiere (and being interviewed by WBAI), eating Chinese food at the legendary Wo Hops(?), talking stenciling techniques, the latest fannish gossip, plans for new fanzines, helping move people in and out of temporary domiciles, planning trips to conventions.

I’d just come off a very heady two-year odyssey.  In early 1976 I’d learned that the 1977 Worldcon was being chaired and managed in my home town (from a classified ad in Amazing Stories) and had gone from playing the role of girl Friday at the chairman’s house to managing the 1977 Hugo Awards Banquet.  Along the way I’d worked on other conventions (mostly gophering, occasionally working registration and security), but this was different.  By the time Suncon rolled around, I’d become enough of an insider to be given an orange felt hat for the “Meet the Pros (and staff)” party (that was how you told the Pros (and staff) apart from the other attendees), had met and become friends with numerous professionals, was receiving encouragement and advice from some of the best fanzine writers and editors in the business and had already been asked to work on other Worldcons, notably Iguanacon the following year and the Seattle in ’81 bid (a fact I’d forgotten until re-reading the first issue of File 770 which you can read here – (http://fanac.org/fanzines/File770/File77001-02.html), as well as heading security for Balticon ’78.

My fanzine efforts were also bearing fruit. In early ’77 I’d applied to my university for what they called a “Leadership Grant” in order to continue publishing Contact: SF A Journal of Speculative Literature with Joseph Zitt, my fannish buddy, and we decided to use the funds to “go pro”. Or semi-professional actually. With the offer of pay came access and we were able to round up a good set of contributors Laurence Jannifer, Ginjer Buchanan, Robert Foster, some wonderful artwork and land interviews with leading authors in the field.

We were to present the issue at Iguanacon, with the intention of planting our feet firmly in the sercon pool of fanzines (“serious and constructive”).

Since we were basically living among fans (the last great generation of paper fanzine fans), our efforts did not go unnoticed.  It wasn’t usual for a “fanzine” to land serious grant money.  That alone was newsworthy.

This was a time of The Alien Critic (SF Review), Locus (seemingly the perpetual Best Fanzine winner), Algol, Fanthology ’76, Granfalloon, Drift

It was also the occasion of a new newszine out of California, something called File 770.

Of course, everyone at the time knew that Locus was the king of newszines and that it had two erstwhile contenders nipping at its heels – Andrew Porter’s Algol and Richard Geis’s SF Review.  At the time, it was considered that this was a crowded and sometimes contentious field (sometimes?) and, if I remember correctly, it was also considered near folly to try and break into those ranks.

But File 770 had, enough so that I heard about it from other local fans and someone made a strong suggestion that I ought to send information about Contact to File 770 during the run up to Iguanacon.  It was also suggested to me that I hook up with Mike Glyer at Iggy, the both of us somewhat representing a new wave in fanzine publishing.

Iggy arrived in Phoenix and so did I.  Contact: SF did not.  The entire run of the magazine (less a few copies thank goodness) had been lost by American Airlines.  But I did have copies of the cover.

I don’t remember who arranged the introductions, though vague memories suggest it might have been Jerry Kaufman and Suzle Tompkins (of Spanish Inquisition fame).  If I remember correctly though it has been 40 years, I was introduced to Mike Glyer and File 770 in the lobby of the main hotel, somewhere between the front desk and the restaurant.  I’m sure we both made noises about having heard of the other and appreciating each other’s efforts and then Mike offered me the latest copy of his zine in exchange for a copy of my zine (one of the expressions of “available for the usual”) and all I could show him was what the cover of mine looked like.

I’m sure we talked about a few other things, but since I was working security at the con, I soon had to dash off to take care of business – collecting a six-gun at the entrance to the hotel, protecting both Gahan Wilson and Harlan Ellison from rabid fan attention,  corralling fruit bats in the restaurant, caravaning to the local supermarkets to purchase every last package of Lime Jello and walking my feet bloody in the process.

But those are stories for another time.

Congratulations Mike!

Four Things That Belong Under A Trufan’s Tree

iguanacon stamps on ebay

Enevelopes postmarked at the 1978 Worldcon.

It’s not too late to spend gobs of money on that special fannish someone.

Today on eBay you can get a 3-piece set of items postmarked at the 1978 Worldcon bearing the Viking mission to Mars stamp for a mere $1,000.

Are they really worth all that? Perhaps it’s the fact that the cancellation reads “Iguanacon 1” whereas the name of the event was “IguanaCon II,” though I doubt it can be claimed the mistake makes them more valuable (like that upside-down airplane stamp) — there wouldn’t have been any cancellations with the correct name.

451 asbestos editionBesides, those collectible postmarks look like a bargain compared with the asking price for an autographed first edition of Fahrenheit 451 with the rare asbestos binding – yours for only $16,000.

More frugal fans can still delight their friends with other affordable goodies.

frankensteins-monster-root-1495qxi2753_1470_1Hallmark is offering a Frankenstein’s Monster Christmas Ornament for $14.95:

Remember the chills and thrills of the first time Frankenstein’s Monster came to life every time you hang it from your tree.

I’m sure I will…
Planet Robot COMPOr Restoration Hardware is advertising a more conventional gift, Planet Robot, for $29.95.

Nostalgic for the whiz-bang, wind-up charm of vintage tin toys, we found these spot-on reproductions, meant to call forth the child within every adult. Reminiscent of a 1950s sci-fi movie robot, this emissary from Planet Robot is at your command. Wind him up and he’ll walk gamely forward, with sparks flying behind his transparent face shield.

Walking gamely forward while sparks fly — say, don’t these sound like ready-made convention volunteers?

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh and John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Klaus: Doctor Who and Iguanacon

By David Klaus: The novelization of Doctor Who: Day of the Daleks, given away at IguanaCon (1978 Worldcon) by the publisher as a promotion, was the first full-length story of The Doctor I ever knew of, as the program wasn’t available in St. Louis at the time.  I was so new to the Whoniverse that I had only seen a couple of clips with Tom Baker and that was it, not even knowing of Jon Pertwee yet.  When I read it, I saw Mr. Baker in my mind as I read, not the late Mr. Pertwee.

Harlan Ellison, as I recall, later described the IguanaCon presentation as having fans out for his blood and ready to riot because he was contemptuous from the podium of other s.f. heroes as empty shells or something similar, particularly Luke Skywalker (as this was the year after the first movie premiered and the convention at which it won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, back when it was just Star Wars, not Star Wars: A New Hope), in favor of “My hero, Doctor Who!”

I’m glad he liked the program and portrayal (and wonder what he thinks about the post-Baker Doctors or the revival since 2005), but it’s funny how I don’t remember that happening.  No riot precursors, no bloodthirsty attempted assaults.  But I wasn’t everywhere or saw everything, so what do I know, right?

Just an Innocent Question

David Klaus was inspired by the passage of Arizona’s new immigration law to ask, “Does this mean it’s time for another Phoenix worldcon bid? Innocently yours…”

Opponents of the new law are already at work organizing boycotts of Arizona businesses, beginning with Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. And these news stories are obviously reminding David — in all innocence — of the time a Phoenix Worldcon appeared in the crosshairs of an earlier Arizona boycott.

In 1978 Worldcon GoH Harlan Ellison refused to stay in the con hotel, parking a rented RV at the curb, and spent no money while in the state because Arizona legislators hadn’t voted to approve the Equal Rights Amendment.

Ellison’s historic gesture is remembered in Helen Merrick and Tess Williams Women of Other Worlds: Excursions Through Science Fiction and Feminism:

Debate about the issue surfaced in [the fanzine] Janus with the publication of ‘A Statement of Ethical Position by the Worldcon Guest of Honour’, Harlan Ellison (1977). Ellison was torn between his position as GoH (accepted before the NOW campaigns began) and support for the ERA, which he felt meant he should boycott the con. Boycotts were not new to fandom; Ellison, along with others such as Marion Zimmer Bradley had boycotted the Miami Worldcon to protest against the activities of Anita Bryant. After consulting with writers and fans such as Le Guin, Russ, McIntyre, Bradley and Susan Wood, Ellison decided to attend the con, but ‘in the spirit of making the convention a platform for heightening the awareness of fans’, and promised to coordinate with NOW and other pro-ERA elements to publicize the situation….

The only fan I ever heard say out loud that Harlan’s activities changed his mind about ERA was…me. Of course, the fans who already agreed with him didn’t need their minds changed, so it’s hard to say how many fish there were in that pond for him to catch.

Update 05/01/2010: Changed to “rented RV” based on the comments of fans whose memories I trust.