BSFS 50 in the News

Ron Bounds and David Ettlin.

Ron Bounds and David Ettlin.

Last weekend’s Balticon prompted a lookback at the Baltimore SF Society’s 50th anniversary celebration in the Baltimore Post-Examiner.

David Ettlin distinctly remembers the winter day in 1961 when he first encountered Jack Chalker.

“We were stuck for nine hours in a snowbound BaltimoreCity transit bus.  Though we had never met, both Jack and I were students at CityCollege.  He saw me reading one of those double-sided Ace science fiction books and struck up a conversation.  Jack told me about an entire world of science fiction fandom I didn’t even know existed.”

Ettlin was hooked.  What started as an extended conversation between two strangers on a snowbound transit bus grew to a small coterie of friends who bounced between informal basement get-togethers in Baltimore and more structured meetings in Washington, D.C.  Returning from D.C. New Year’s Eve in 1962, in the back of a Trailways bus, the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) was born.

Quite a few past and present fans are reference in the article, with quotes from Ettlin, Ron Bounds, Patti Kinlock and mentions of Jack L. Chalker, Mark Owings, Roger Zelazny, Jerry Jacks, Kim Weston, Alexander Harris, John Zaharick, Sarah Pinsker, Karlo Yeager, Eric Yount, and Ben Wang.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]

BSFS Turning 50

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society is throwing a free, public party on Saturday, January 12, 2013 to celebrate 50 years of promoting science, science fiction and fantasy throughout Maryland. The party begins at 8 p.m. in the BSFS clubhouse, located at 3310 East Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21224, will have a free, public party.

Local professional writers and artists will be on hand, such as Dr. Catherine Asaro, Brenda Clough, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Alexis A. Gilliland, Dr. Yoji Kondo (a.k.a. author Eric Kotani), and Steve Stiles.

David Michael Ettlin, a survivor of the founding meeting and former Baltimore Sun reporter, will talk about the early times in BSFS.

BSFS was started on January 5, 1963 by fans returning from a meeting of the Washington Science Fiction Association in the back of a Trailways bus. A FAQ on the club website says they did not meet during a 1968-1974 hiatus after a disastrous election fight. BSFS was restarted in 1974 when it was incorporated in the State of Maryland.

Jack Chalker’s account of the club’s early days can be read in Mimosa #20 and Mimosa #21.

The party is casual wear, and free and open to the public. Children with adult supervision are welcome. For more information, visit, or, or follow the club on Twitter @BaltimoreSciFi.

Brust Treated for Congestive Heart Failure

Steven Brust was hospitalized with congestive heart failure on April 19. He visited a dentist for treatment of severe tooth pain but the dentist, suspecting there was a more serious issue involved, referred him to urgent care. There an EKG looked doubtful so they sent Brust along to the ER. The heart problem was diagnosed and treated:

I’m now on more drugs: something to keep my heart beat regular, and a mild diuretic.   I’m told I could use an operation to insert something into my chest that will shock my heart if it goes into, uh, I don’t remember.  Ventrical a-fib, maybe?  But it’s supposed to keep me alive.  I can no more afford the operation than I can pay the hospital bills I just incurred, BUT….

I met with a social worker, who seems confident she can get me heath care–enough to help with those bills, and get the operation, and fix my teeth, and even deal with the fucking polyp in my nose that’s been making life interesting for several years.  This is very, very good news.  I am actually feeling hopeful.

I’ve never forgotten Jack Chalker’s autobiographical essay for the Fantasy Amateur Press Association that described in frank detail his severe dental problems, and echoed the warning he’d received that dental infections can lead to heart trouble.

It’s such a common problem that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a warning in this PSA:

Having bad teeth seems to be related to having a bad heart. A look at data on close to 42,000 people finds that the risk of heart disease goes up with the number of teeth people lose. The report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine said eight and one half percent of people who lost all their teeth had heart disease.

But what could link teeth and hearts? Researcher Paul Eke of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention thinks gum disease may be the common culprit:

“Gum disease is caused by a silent, chronic infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth, that can lead to tooth loss. It is the systemic consequences of chronic infection that may increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.”

Good to know Brust got a timely diagnosis.

[Thanks to Lee Gold for the story.]

Southern Fandom Awards to Chalker, Fisher

Jack L. Chalker posthumously won the 2005 Phoenix Award, presented at Xanadu 8 / DeepSouthCon 43 in Nashville on April 9. The Phoenix Award, accepted by Jack’s wife, Eva Whitley, is given to the Science Fiction professional from the Southern part of the United States with the most respected work of the year.

The Rebel Award was also presented at the 2005 DeepSouthCon. Naomi Fisher received it in recognition of her special contributions to Southern Fandom.

Had he lived, Chalker would have had the pleasure of serving as toastmaster at this year’s DeepSouthCon. Eva Whitley wrote online, “I am grateful he won but you have no idea how much it would have meant to him to have gotten this award when he was alive (say, in 1996, which was the last time we came to a DeepSouthCon). But I appreciate the love that was behind this.”

Potential winners of the Phoenix Award are those science fiction or fantasy professionals who have, at some point, resided in the South; whose professional work reflects on the South in a positive way; or who have demonstrated friendship with Southern fandom through support of regional fan activities. It may be given posthumously.

By winning the Rebel Award, Naomi Fisher balances the family mantelpiece which already holds the 1993 Rebel Award won by husband G. Patrick Molloy. They have a tradition of matching fannish achievements, having also jointly won DUFF in 2001.

The first Rebel Award was given at the 1964 DeepSouthCon. Its history is retold by Guy Lillian III in a fine article available – here.

DeepSouthCon also hosted the presentation of the semi-satirical, semi-affectionate Rubble Award to its 2005 Target Judy Bemis, “For resigning as Southern Fandom Confederation treasurer.”