John Hertz: Encouraged
by John Coker, I went to visit Es Cole. I found her in good
spirits. She’s 95.
introduced me to her two dogs, fed ice cream to me and apple slices to them,
and showed me a life-size reproduction of the Rosetta Stone text, Bob Bloch’s
note about her cheesecake in his introduction to Les’ “Tripod” in the August
1957 Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction with the
Barry Waldman cover, and Les’ library.
of the shelves you see here are empty
now. The books about the American Civil War, and about Minoans, have
gone to a good home.
I was there she took a phone call. I was eating ice cream, but I
heard her tell someone, firmly but not harshly, “Don’t say he passed
away. My husband died.”
and he co-chaired the 12th World Science Fiction Convention.
Seeing A Wealth of Fable on another shelf, and
turning to the photo of her and Les, I said “That’s how I knew who you were.”
memoir The Second World War,
in hard covers, was on another shelf. I said I’d read it through
four times. She said “That was my war. I was a riveter.”
By John Hertz: (reprinted from No Direction Home 44, dated 24 Dec 19)
Caring what befalls,
Ardently helping, leading,
Reaching what can be,
Oh what fun it is to ride
Love and laughter currently.
It’s the International Year of the Periodic Table, so declared by the United Nations to honor the Table’s being substantially invented in its modern form 150 years ago by Dmitri Mendeleyev (1834-1907).
We had learned there were elements. Other organizations of them had been proposed. His predicted the existence and properties of new elements, which when discovered proved to be so. At the time elements were characterized by their atomic weight; some known elements did not behave according to his theory; he said their atomic weights must have been measured incorrectly; this too proved so.
He is said to have reported, “In a dream I saw a table where all the elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down.” Luckily he escaped the Higamus Effect.
* * *
In the 23 Nov 39 Cleveland Plain Dealer, p. 20, the column “Good Morning from Claire MacMurray”, headed “Thanksgiving Nightmare”, recounted:
Mrs. Amos Pinchot…. dreamed one night that she had written a poem so beautiful, so wise, so close to the ultimate truth of life that she was immediately acclaimed by all the peoples on the earth as the greatest poet and philosopher of all the ages. Still half asleep as the dream ended, she stumbled out of bed and scribbled the poem down, realizing that she must take no risk of forgetting such deathless lines. She awoke in the morning with the feeling that something wonderful was about to happen – oh, yes! Her poem.
She clutched the precious paper and, tense with excitement, read the words she had written. Here they are.
Men are Polygamous
* * *
I sometimes think we may have run into a new element. The most recently recognized is Element 118, oganesson, symbol Og, synthesized in 2002 at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, near Moscow, by a joint team of Russian and American scientists, and formally named (28 Nov 16) for the physicist Yuri Oganessian (1933- ), who has played a leading role in discovering the heaviest elements in the Periodic Table.
This new element, if it proves to be Element 119, should be an alkali metal, which seems right. It may be essential; certainly characteristic, widespread, and highly radioactive.
We could call it mnisikakía, after the Greek; its symbol could be M (Mn is taken, manganese). I thought of calling it iracundia, after the Latin, but the symbol I is taken (iodine) and so is Ir (iridium). Or we could keep the symbol M and call it by its common name, resentment.
What did Thoreau know?
“Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” H. Thoreau, Walden ch. 1 (1854)
By John Hertz: (mostly reprinted from No Direction Home 43) Saturday
11:30 a.m. at Loscon XLVI,
a panel discussion “The Asimov Centenary”.
We were starting early, or maybe
right; without birth records, he celebrated 3 Jan 1920 but it could have been
in 1919. Moderator, pro author and interviewer Alvaro Zinos-Amaro,
with Fan Guest of Honor Edie Stern, Joe Siclari of FANAC (Florida
Association for Nucleation And Conventions, sponsor of the 50th World Science
Fiction Convention [which Siclari chaired] at Orlando, Florida, and currently a
fanhistory Website <fanac.org>, fanac our
long-time slang for fan activity), Matthew Tepper the con chair and Asimov
scholar, and me.
The panel was billed as discussing
“his growth as a writer, and the
impact that his writings have had on real life culture and science”; I thought,
said, those people have gone to milk the bull.
The work of
Asimov the SF author was imagination; of Asimov the science writer – his four
hundred science columns for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science
Fiction, his six dozen popular-science books – was
explanation. He said he strove for clarity; at both this was his
talent, his skill, perhaps we may say his genius. Let us not turn
away to having an impact (that wretched cant) on real
life culture and science. His growth as a writer –
alas, I thought he shrank. I could not think The Gods
Themselves (1972) his best SF; on the
contrary. Nevertheless he was a wonder.
Tepper said Asimov brought sweeping
stories up close and personal. That also applied to his
non-fiction. Stern said, he worked out a premiss (yes, that’s how
the logic kind is spelled, plural “premisses”; “premises” is the land
kind). He showed how social forces shaped. Siclari said
he could present complex science simply. He had a spirit of play;
not only in his writing, he was active in Gilbert
& Sullivan fandom. I said he was one of our
best what if writers.
Zinos-Amaro asked, accusations of
his mistreating women have emerged: does that complicate what we think of
him? Stern reminded us these things were no news; everyone with a
skirt, she said, knew he was grabby. She told of a woman in a shirt
printed with six-finger outlines who retorted “Isaac, if your hands fit these,
you can, otherwise no”; he stopped. Tepper said, we’re faced with even
greater creative personalities who were flawed – like Wagner. We
can’t minimize either side. A woman in the audience said “I ran a
convention; he was very professional.”
On yet another side, Stern told of
a Boston collating session in the mimeograph days; just as a man declined to
pitch in, saying “I’m a published author”, Asimov stuck his head out of the
collating room calling “Hey, Tony, we need more of Page 2.”
Zinos-Amaro asked us each what one
book we’d recommend. Stern said, Pebble in the Sky (1950). Siclari
said, Foundation (1951). Tepper said, The
Caves of Steel (1953). I said, The End of
Eternity (1955). Look too for the collections of his short
stories and of his science essays. With fiction and non-fiction he had
published five hundred books – plus anthologies – plus founding Asimov’s
Science Fiction magazine.
In the Art Show the best for me was
Elizabeth Berrien. This
extraordinary wire-worker was famous among us for years. Her animals
and other creations are in many of our homes. At Lonestarcon II, the
55th Worldcon, she won Best in Art Show. As her career grew, she
found herself making things for airports, hotels, museums, offices,
restaurants, television advertising, zoos.
Chris Marble said “It’s been 21
years since she exhibited at Loscon.” In 2019 she was in the Art
Show at Spikecon, the combined Westercon (West Coast Science Fantasy
Conference) and NASFiC (North America SF Con, held when the Worldcon is
overseas), fifty miles from where the Final
Spike completed the Transcontinental Railroad 150 years earlier; Marble had carried her work to and from the 77th Worldcon in
When she’s present, at a party or a panel discussion, you’ll see
her listening or contributing to the conversation, all the while twisting
wire. She must carry the whole in her mind, like Michelangelo saying
“I just get a block of marble and chip away anything that isn’t a Madonna and
Child.” If you look at wire sculpture around the world, you’ll see
hers is distinctive. It may be unique.
We have fan tables. We
don’t know any better name for them. Along the traffic flow are
people and displays on behalf of scheduled cons, bids to hold cons, contests,
SF clubs, to answer questions and as may seem suitable.
At Loscon, the Orange County SF
Club usually has a table. Their logograph is a Space ship taking off
from an orange. To be friendly there’s usually an
orange-colored bowl with orange-flavored candy. I keep meaning to
ask whether OCSFC is in touch with the Netherlands
national football team.
If you can’t remember whether you
have a membership in something or other there may well be someone at a table
with a list paper or electronic who might, in case you don’t and want one,
offer you a do-it-now discount. Non-profit organizations have to get
I had to go off-site three times for errands that took hours. Half of one later proved needless. Another could have been avoided, but Life is a continuing series of adventures in which you learn you’d have done better to think of something else in advance.
I saw I’d be late for the Saturday
night Paul Turner memorial panel (1936-2019). High-tech
folk helped me tell Operations. I arrived after 8:30, but I
arrived. Neola Caveny moderated Greg Benford, Paul’s son now known
as the Wizard, Suzanne Vegas, and eventually me.
Paul was given
the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the LASFS in 1964. He was
Fan Guest of Honor at Loscon XX. In our audience Bill Ellern said
that while Paul is with some justice credited for inventing the LASFS Building
Fund (Jerry Pournelle, “You’re out of your mind”; Paul, “Sure I am”), by
which LASFS indeed bought a clubhouse, Betty Knight as Treasurer in the 1950s
kept saying we should start one but nobody listened. Paul held
salons with SF authors, Jet Propulsion Lab scientists, and like that, for
conversation and nourishment. His mind ranged wide.
Sunday 2:30 p.m., the second Classics of
SF book talk, C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra (1943; reached
the Retro-Hugo ballot). I’ll stay with “audience” although I invite
and perhaps some would say drag in participation. Is it a
classic? why? From the audience: the people – and the other
characters – are genuine; I asked, how could we know; a woman said, “If we
met them they’d be like that.” She had hit on what Johnson said of
Shakespeare (two geometric figures of the same shape are similar, regardless of
differences in size):
He approximates the remote, and familiarizes the wonderful; the event which he represents will not happen, but if it were possible, its effects would probably be such as he has assigned; and it may be said, that he has not only shown human nature as it acts in real exigencies, but as it would be found in trials, to which it cannot be exposed.
Another said the descriptions of
landscape were almost as interesting as the plot. Another: the
portrayal of Ransom’s internal reactions. Another: Ransom isn’t too
perfect. Sean Smith said he wrestles with his moral
dilemma. He asks “Why me?” and painfully answers. Father
John Blaker said, Lewis takes these questions seriously – but not, ran our
consensus, at the expense of his fiction.
which might ideally mean inspiring, has too often proved to
mean oppressing; we thought Lewis avoided falling into that
pit. Another said a truly loving person discusses.
If Perelandra had
anything in common with our Friday book, Asimov’s Second
Foundation (1953) – gosh – it might be the centrality of
dialogue. Look at the nearly impossible task of characterizing
Ransom’s adversary – and I don’t mean Weston.
I bought Craig Miller’s “Star Wars” Memories (2019)
from his own self. Later, helping take
down the Dealers’ Room; dinner; I got to the Dead Dog Party (until
the last dog is –) round about midnight. As it happens I’d
helped to supply it – and the Staff Den; at length I’d been made Chief Hall-Costume
Judge (the costumes some people build or assemble for strolling the halls; Marjii
Ellers called them daily wear for alternative worlds)
Some of us were still
alive. Karl Lembke, chairman (the suffix -man is
not masculine) of the LASFS Board and a refreshments wizard, was still on
duty. A good thing, too.
By John Hertz: (mostly
reprinted from No Direction Home 42) On Friday
night at Loscon XLVI (local SF convention, sponsored by the L.A. Science
Fantasy Society; see here) after Regency dancing (see Mimosa 29; or read Georgette Heyer‘s Regency romances – or both) I
changed back to my conventional attire and went to
wander the world of parties.
I’ve long felt an in it but not of it quality
is elemental to fandom. More usually interest-groups seem tighter
focused on, or entangled with, their topic. It makes us harder to
explain. People ask me “Are you a writer?” and I have to answer with
something like my father’s scrupulous reply when we played Guess What Daddy Had
for Lunch, “Not within the normal meaning of that term.” My best
formulation so far is A love of SF is the thread on which the beads of
fan activity are strung. Anyway, it shows in our social life.
At our cons we have open (everybody welcome) and
closed (invitation-only) parties. Some of them have a particular
reason for existence. Some of them. See what I mean?
I dropped by the Baycon party. This is the
San Francisco Bay area local con, held over the United States Memorial Day
weekend; Baycon XXXVIII will be in 2020 (we’re not always careful terminologists:
Westercon XIV – the West Coast Science Fantasy Conference on or near U.S.
Independence Day, though not necessarily within the U.S.; Westercon LXXIII will
be in 2020 – was “Baycon”, apparently the first SF con [in two senses of “SF”]
so called: later the 26th World Science Fiction Convention, combined with
Westercon XXI, and famous in song and story, was also “Baycon”).
A calendar conflict keeps me from Baycon, although I
have friends there, and am an honorary officer of the Bay Area SF Association
(Club motto, also Rule 0, “We do these things not because they are hard, but
because we are weird”), which was convenient when the 66th Worldcon was at
Yokohama Bay – in a Bay Area, and BASFA wanted a quorum. So I seek
out Baycon parties.
To some extent a Baycon party is an attempt to sell
Baycon memberships. (Among our better acts of terminology we insist
we sell not tickets, but memberships: not admittance to a thing others have
made, but participation in making it.) Why not? See, we can
host a party: we can host a convention. But also it’s a
contribution to the conviviality (good word to look up) of the time and place
where it’s held. I’m in favor of that. Also similar
parties thrown by other cons, and by bids to hold cons.
Some cons have themes. I’m not particularly
in favor of that; I’d rather they had theremins (seems unfair to ask for the
Island of Kalymnos dance Thymariotikos, although I’m fond of it).
The Baycon XXXVIII theme is “The future is now!”,
elaborated as “This year’s theme celebrates science fiction’s
influence on our present day”. I found that particularly
regrettable. It seemed to draw in the notion that SF is in the
business of predicting the future, one of the nastier poisons to afflict
us. Also the current cant of influence too often
operates as a nasty distraction from actually looking, substituting instead
what other people think. So I had the nourishingly demanding task of
managing conviviality with my friends, making new friends, and conferring about
the health of our field.
Down the hall was Keith Kato’s, combined as happens at
Loscon with Carol & Elst Weinstein’s, and Kenn Bates’.
At cons Kato has for years been hosting chili parties, some open, some closed. He cooks up a vat of hot (“To Everyone Except Bob Silverberg”) and a vat of mild (“To Everyone Except Marion Zimmer Bradley”), recently also a vat of vegetarian and, at Loscon, one of bison. He has not been hindered by his career as a physicist, his achieving a Black Belt in shõtõkan karate, nor his term as President of the Heinlein Society. In File 770 159 (PDF) p. 35, his own story to that date, I was in his Gang of Four. If he’s on the night of Regency dancing he knows I can’t show up soon; nor can I fairly ask him to save me a bowl of mild, I have to take my chances.
The Weinsteins at Loscon have hosted Herbangelist wine
and cheese parties (on Herbie
Popnecker, see Forbidden Worlds 73; he had his
own title 1964-67; zeal lasts); Bates has hosted dessert parties, usually with
a chocolate-fondue fountain; that they would co-host was inevitable, and they
Brad Lyau had been given the Moskowitz Archive Award
at the 77th Worldcon (Dublin, 15-19 Aug 19). I congratulated
him. The Award, named for Sam Moskowitz, is from First Fandom, for
excellence in SF collecting; First Fandom is both a historical fact – those
happy few active since at least the first Worldcon, 1939 – and an organization
devoted to fanhistory.
Lyau had revealed in Scientifiction 61
(N.S., i.e. New Series) that he has Julie Schwartz’ copy of SaM’s 1954 Immortal
Storm, inscribed to Julie by SaM – then when Lyau told them he’d gotten it,
inscribed by each of them to him! Gosh! Forry Ackerman
had helped with Lyau’s Ph.D. dissertation on 1950s French SF. Lyau
has been at it a while.
I was fascinated to learn he’d studied with Hans Küng
(1928- ). We spoke of epistemology (good word to look
up); I repeated my jest that I’d long been an amateur epistemologist – I was a
Philosophy major – and now I’m also a professional epistemologist, although we
lawyers don’t like to think of ourselves as philosophers. We’re
Lyau talked of the “scholastic stranglehold” in the
days of the Schoolmen, say 1100-1700. I said that wasn’t really fair
to Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) for one. Lyau said it wasn’t Aristotle’s
fault (lived fifteen centuries earlier) that Aristotle’s work became
ossified. I said the poor Buddha (a century before Aristotle), if
that expression could be used, told people not to make statues of
him. Lyau said the Buddha was a messenger of universal truth. I
had been with a Japanese Buddhist priest during the Bon Festival
(rhymes with “hone”; short for a Sanskrit word referring to suffering by the
dead in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, which the Festival hopes to relieve) who
said “We don’t worship our ancestors, we just venerate them.”
Saturday 11:30 a.m., “The Asimov Centenary”, Joe
Siclari, Fan Guest of Honor Edie Stern, Matthew Tepper, and me, moderated by
Alvaro Zinos-Amaro. Isaac Asimov didn’t know his birthday, no
records. He celebrated January 2, 1920, but it could have been a day
in 1919. Anyway, why not start now?
Siclari had chaired the 50th Worldcon (Orlando), has
long been a student of SF particularly graphic art, also fanhistory; was the
2005 Down Under Fan Fund delegate; with Stern his wife received the 2016 Big
Heart Award; heads (although he and Stern moved back to New York) the Florida
Association for Nucleation And Conventions (yes, that spells FANAC, since at
least the 1940s short for “fan activity”), sponsor of the 50th Worldcon and
these days a fanhistorical Website.
Tepper, the con chair and in fact an Asimov scholar,
had been the “Let’s kill him now” boy of Asimov’s anecdote in The
Hugo Winners; to be fair, Asimov himself didn’t say that.
Zinos-Amaro has on his Website, along with Lao Tzû and
Emily Dickinson, Asimov’s line from I. Asimov “The interplay
of thought and imagination is far superior to that of muscle and sinew.”
By John Hertz: (mostly reprinted from No Direction Home 41) Loscon
is my local SF convention, sponsored by the Los Angeles Science
Fantasy Society; Loscon XLVI was 29 Nov – 1 Dec 2019 at the L.A. Int’l Airport
Marriott Hotel; Author Guest of Honor Howard Waldrop, Fan GoH Edie Stern,
Editor GoH Moshe Feder; attendance about 730; Art Show sales about $5,500.
Radiant thanks to
Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink for her computer-aided-graphics help with Rotsler Award
displays. The Award is for
long-time wonder-working in amateur publications of the science fiction
community, the fame of its eponym Bill Rotsler, to honor whom it was begun in
1998; it’s sponsored by the Southern California Institute for Fan Interests
(yes, that spells SCIFI, pronounced “skiffy”), and announced at
Loscon. The judges are Mike Glyer, Sue Mason (since 2015), and me
For years I made
Worldcon displays showing work of the winners to date, and Loscon displays
showing work of the year’s winner, with photocopies and colored construction
paper. At Denvention III the 66th World Science Fiction
Convention they were mounted on handsome black signboard contributed by Spike;
otherwise on pegboard with hooks and clips.
with her expertise and equipment has labored with me to do both displays on
computer-printed banners, which have looked swell, saved hours of at-con
effort, and eased reaching overseas Worldcons I’ve usually been unable to
The 2019 Worldcon (the
77th) was at Dublin; we also made a display celebrating the 500th year after
the death of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), who touched on SF with his designs
for things not yet possible to available technology, and was generally amazing
astounding planetary thrilling wondrous. We mounted it at Loscon
XLVI too. Thanks to Jan Bender for getting it and the
Rotsler-winners-to-date display to and from Dublin.
This year’s Rotsler
winner is Alison Scott. Thanks to Mason for helping wrangle Scott
images (I mustn’t call them Scottish, she’s English) in time for
Loscon. You can see a note by me, with samples, here.
Photographs of the
Loscon XLVI displays have been promised and no doubt will arrive Real Soon Now. Meanwhile
you can see the Dublin winners-to-date display here.
At cons I’ve been
leading Classics of SF discussions, one story (mostly book-length)
each. Once I did two books together – same author, same
year. I’ve been on but don’t recommend “What are the classics?”
panels; I find they tend, instead of discussing, to become favorite-fights.
Sometimes a con puts me
on, or has me moderate, a panel to discuss a story. Most often it’s
just I and the so-called audience – “so-called” because, from my point of
view anyway, the blood of the SF community is participation. I tell
people “You needn’t speak up, but I hope you will.” Also I believe
the price of having strong opinions is recognizing that others can have strong
Do cons keep naming me
alone because I’m so wonderful? Maybe. Maybe it’s easier for
Programming than juggling the schedules of five people.
Loscon this year asked
me to do two classics; I proposed, and when they were accepted I led
discussions on, Asimov’s Second Foundation (1953), Friday
afternoon at half-past one, and Lewis’ Perelandra (1943),
Sunday afternoon at half-past two.
Perelandra had reached the Retrospective Hugo ballot. It’s one of
few books in our field to engage with mainstream religion. Second
Foundation happened to be the first Asimov I ever
read. It’s the third in a trilogy (Foundation 1951, Foundation
and Empire 1952; decades later Asimov and others added prequels and
sequels); Perelandra is the second (Out of the Silent
Planet 1938, That Hideous Strength 1945).
Re-reading each before
proposing them to the con I felt each could stand by itself. Also I
elected taking Second Foundation as a single novel, though
composed of two shorter works “Now You See It –” (1948), “– And Now You Don’t”
(1950; reached the Retro-Hugo ballot).
I try for stories
interesting in different ways. I think Second
Foundation and Perelandra are.
Once a con asked me to
do only one of these discussions; at another I did five. Three seems
to be about right, thinking of the con as an artform, its rhythm, its balance.
Some years ago when a Programming chief asked me what size rooms I’d
need, I said “These discussions usually draw a dozen or two”; she said “That’s
about what I thought. Not huge crowds; but they’re a kind of thing
we should be doing.” I said “That’s what I think too.”
classic? I’m still with A classic is a work that survives
its time; after the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it
remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.
I don’t think we’re
very classics-conscious in fandom. Not just SF classics; any.
(1564-1616): we know his plays drew crowds; we know all kinds of folk went
to see them; they’re full of references to Greek and Roman literature of the
previous millennium; indeed if you could read and write in his day you could
read and write Latin.
which was written for the general reading public, and is full of references to
the Bible, The Divine Comedy (1320), Goethe (1749-1832), Greek
mythology, Milton (1608-1674), Pope (1688-1744), Renaissance painting and
poetry, Roman history, Shakespeare, H.G. Wells – and Lewis
Carroll. A current that’s changed.
On Friday afternoon, no
one wishing to amend my proposed definition, we proceeded to Is “Second
Foundation” a classic?
David H. Levine (i.e.
not David D., whom I don’t expect to see at Loscon) said it towered above other
SF. Many said its characters were distinct – which is largely
achieved by dialogue. We’re given little of how they look; what they
wear; their music; their landscapes; but – speaking of Lewis Carroll – if this
is a book without pictures, it certainly has conversations (Alice in
Wonderland ch. 1, 1865).
It’s complicated; but
it presents its complications with clarity. It has a sense of
event. It has a sense of the telling detail. It’s neat;
indeed, spare. It’s vivid. And if, as Asimov later said,
he heard from somebody in the late 1940s that no one could write an SF
detective story, he didn’t disprove it in 1953 with The Caves of
Steel – he already had.
Then Regency dancing.
This fad in fandom – England having had few regencies, we
mean the one of 1811-1820, and the years before and after, since a historical
period seldom starts of a sudden – is of course very much my fault, but it came
about because of Georgette Heyer.
Her historical fiction
set then, thirty superb books published until her death in 1972 and much
reprinted – yes, they’re romances, yes I a heterosexual man was so dull I had
to be introduced to them by a woman – spark with wit appealing to the fannish
mind. I took up the challenge of teaching the
dances. Fuzzy Pink Niven doesn’t make that eggnog anymore.
So on Friday evening I
changed clothes to host. Sometimes a dozen or two come by, in
costume or not; at the 42nd Worldcon there were three hundred. Neola
Caveny, whom Greg Benford had found and who the next night would moderate the
Paul Turner memorial panel, had come from Hawaii and had made a Regency gown.
By John Hertz: The Los
Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS; pronounced like “lahss fuss”) is the
oldest SF club in the world, founded 1934.
The Evans-Freehafer has
been given since 1959 for service to the club. It is currently
announced at the SF convention LASFS sponsors, Loscon (held on the weekend of
the United States Thanksgiving holiday, Friday – Sunday following the last
Thursday in November; Loscon XLVI was November 29 – December 1, 2019).
E. Everett Evans
(1893-1958; sometimes “Triple E”, “Tripoli”) and Paul Freehafer (1918-1944)
were productive big-hearted LASFS members.
Evans chaired the first
West Coast Science Fantasy Conference (“Westercon”, annually on a weekend
including or near U.S. Independence Day, although not necessarily in the U.S.;
Westercon LXXIII will be July 2-5, 2020, at Seattle, Washington).
Freehafer, who had been
with the club since 1934, was so prized for cheerfully carrying club projects
to completion that wherever the LASFS meets is Freehafer Hall.
The Evans-Freehafer is
decided annually by the previous three years’ recipients, and kept secret until
announced, sometimes flabbergasting the new recipient. In fifty years
only four people – Mike Donahue, Bob Null, Bruce Pelz, and Elayne Pelz his
widow – have received it more than once.
Smith is a long-time LASFS member who has held various
offices including President, and served on the Board of
Directors. If you are familiar with hobby activity you know such
positions less often result from a contest for who will be elected to them than
a search for who will undertake them.
extrude other hobbies; in the SF community a home-made song tradition (hmm,
maybe not the right word) came to be called “filk music”, from a 1950s
typographical error for “folk music” that stuck; Smith has been active there
too, chairing filk conventions, singing, writing, placed in the Filk Hall of
Fame in 2015.
Smith recently curated
an exhibit “Dreaming the Universe” held March 3 – September 2, 2018, at the
Pasadena Museum of History, exploring the interaction of science, fiction, and
Southern California, with artifacts, fine and graphic art (those being somewhat
technical terms), books, ephemera, photographs. Building it took him
Elsewhere in his life
Smith has for almost forty years been a technician at the Pasadena Public
By John Hertz: (reprinted from No
Direction Home 39) John Paul Stevens
(1920-2019) was the 101st Justice (as we call judges there) appointed to the
United States Supreme Court (served 1975-2010), taking the seat vacated by the
retirement of William O. Douglas (1898-1980; served 1939-1975). Justice Stevens was appointed by President
Ford; Justice Douglas had been appointed by President F.D. Roosevelt.
retiring, Justice Stevens wrote Five
Chiefs (2011), a memoir of the Chief Justices he had served under. A fuller memoir The Making of a Justice (2019) appeared two months before his
death. Only Douglas and Justice Stephen
J. Field (1816-1899; served 1863-1897, appointed by President Lincoln) were
longer on the Court.
Stevens and I both went to the University of Chicago Laboratory School and
Northwestern U. law school. He was and I
am a Chicago Cubs baseball fan. At
Northwestern, he and I had the same professor for Antitrust law, James A. Rahl
been said that a man who wears a bow tie is a joker. On the strength of my grandfather, of one of
my brilliant first-year law school professors, and of Justice Stevens, it may
be true. The Making of a Justice is full of jokes, many dry, some wry.
a few feet from him at a law-school reception when he muttered to another of my
brilliant professors – who didn’t wear bow ties, but always wore a gray
three-piece suit, white shirt, black knitted four-in-hand; not until watching
him closely in a second class I carefully took with him did I see from slightly
differing lapels, or buttons, or tie weave, that he had several – “I never had
the Latin for the judgin’”.
only time The Making shocked me was a
manifest set-up. The title itself is a
joke; how can it cover Stevens’ entire life and not merely the years 1920-1975?
but he was famous for saying learning on the job was essential to judging (e.g.
his 2006 article “Learning on the Job” [based on a 2005 speech], Fordham U. Law Review, vol. 74,
beginning at p. 1561).
consummation devoutly to be wished is that judges, most of all – supremely – on
the Supreme Court, will study the law, study the facts of the case before them,
and decide how the law applies to the case and with what result. In the words of Gelett Burgess’ poet (“The
Protest of the Illiterate”, 1897), that’s hard as the deuce; we can have panels
of three judges, or seven, and on the U.S. Supreme Court are nine.
can happen, what we hope will not happen, and what the mass news media and, it
seems, many politicians insist always does happen, is that judges unconsciously
or otherwise bend toward their existing opinions – alas, their prejudices – and
reach results accordingly. A Spanish
proverb says Every man pushes his own
sardine closer to the fire. So we
worry about liberal and conservative judges, if wisely then unfortunately.
the extent that is real and not false wisdom I think the Supreme Court should
have two thoughtful articulate liberals, two thoughtful articulate
conservatives, and the rest moderates.
Thus various views will be expressed, and if I may quote Justice William
J. Brennan, Jr. (1906-1997; served 1956-1990, appointed by President
Eisenhower), praised, when he is (literary present tense), as a thoughtful
articulate liberal, It takes five votes
to get anything done around here.
and politics are neighbors. Supreme
Court justices, who are not elected, are nominated by a President and confirmed
by a Senate who are. It is tempting, and
some would say rightful, for the President and the Senate (where the President
may not have a sympathetic majority) to try moving the Court in a favored
direction. Even so that does not always
Stevens, nominated by a President who was a moderate Republican, appeared to be
a moderate Republican. By his retirement
liberals were boasting of him. But he
always said he was a conservative, and as time went on, he said the Court, not
he, had shifted.
had sometimes been called “even Stevens” for delivering both opinions conservatives
liked and opinions liberals liked. At
his death both Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. (born 1955; serving since
2005, appointed by President G.W. Bush), a conservative, and Justice Elena
Kagan (b. 1960; appointed by President Obama to succeed Justice Stevens), a
liberal, praised him for kindness, humility, and independence; Justice Kagan
said he was fiercely independent.
also called him a model of collegiality (which another of my brilliant law
professors always deliberately pronounced “colleague-iality”). That shows in both Five Chiefs and The Making of
many times wrote the opinion of the Court, many times a concurring opinion to
record why he could not wholly agree, many times an opinion in dissent. I’ll record one dissent of mine; to keep this
note from being technical, not on a legal point – and I concur in his result.
a moot-court competition which argued whether the actor Shakespeare (1564-1616)
had actually written the plays under that name, he held that the challenger had
not brought evidence enough to overturn the prevailing view in favor of the
actor, but “confessed to having some doubt….
the striking difference between the spelling … of his … actual
signatures and the name ‘Shakespeare’”, adding in his memoir that, when
visiting the Shakespeare home in Stratford-upon-Avon later in the year, he
“found no evidence whatsoever that the house ever contained a library. The man who wrote those plays must have owned
some books,” Making pp. 235-36.
his legal opinions Justice Stevens insisted on understanding the facts. Here in my own view he was alas ill-informed
of contemporary spelling in written English, of what actors like Shakespeare
had in ready memory, of the notorious errors indicating the playwright had not
consulted books, and of the cost and availability of books then.
in 2005 Gerald Ford said “I am prepared to allow history’s judgment of my term
in office to rest (if necessary, exclusively) on my nomination thirty years ago
of Justice John Paul Stevens to the U.S. Supreme Court…. He has served with dignity, intellect, and
without partisan political concerns,” Making
pp. 527-28. R.I.P.
schools: some universities and other institutions engaged in teacher education
maintain these to train teachers, further educational research and
experimentation, and like that.
Antitrust law: so called in the U.S. because at the turn of the 20th
Century businesses perceived to exercise oppressive economic power acted by
using, or abusing, the form of legal entity known as a trust, one person (which need not be a natural person, could be a corporation) holding property for
others’ benefit; thus e.g. the 1914 Sherman Antitrust Act. “Never had the Latin for the judgin’”: P.
Cook as E.L. Wisty (1960), see his Tragically
I Was an Only Twin pp. 43-45 (2002).
Moot court: a mock trial or arbitration
examining a hypothetical case as an academic exercise.
John Hertz: Alison
Scott has received the 2019 Rotsler Award for long-time wonder-working with graphic art in amateur
publications of the science fiction community.
Award, established at the death of Bill Rotsler, has been given since
1998. It carries an honorarium of US$300.
did everything and knew everyone. He sculpted with stainless-steel
rods and went house-hunting with Marilyn Monroe. He drew on paper,
mimeograph stencils, food, body parts.
The SF community’s highest achievement award is the Hugo
Award, named for SF pioneer Hugo Gernsback, voted annually in several
categories by members of the World Science Fiction Convention.
Rotsler won the Best-Fanartist Hugo five times, in 1975 and
1979, 1996 (when he also won a Retrospective Hugo for 1946) and 1997, a
remarkable span. His cartoons were deft, his serious drawing fine,
his fluency downright breathtaking.
gained renown as layout wizard and cover artist for the much-loved – no, it’s
British, better not say that – highly-regarded fanzine PLOKTA, “the
journal of superfluous technology”, PLOKTA being an acronym for Press Lots Of
Keys To Abort.
PLOKTA won the Best-Fanzine Hugo in
2005 and 2006. Scott won the United Kingdom’s Nova Award as Best
Fanartist in ’05, ’07, and ’08. The Plokta cabal attended the 67th
Worldcon (“Anticipation”, Montreal) and produced its newsletter Voyageur.
chaired her national convention the Eastercon (held Easter weekend) in 1995
(“Confabulation”, 46th Eastercon, London) and 2018 (“Follycon”, 69th Eastercon,
Harrogate). She will be Fan Guest of Honour in 2020 (“Concentric”,
71st Eastercon, Birmingham).
admirable distinctions are only mentioned as noteworthy. They
do not of course qualify or disqualify her for the Rotsler Award, which is a
cat that walks by itself.
are front and back covers Scott did for an issue of Beam (then
by Nic Farey and Jim Trash, currently by Farey and Ulrika O’Brien),
a front cover for PLOKTA.
Concentric materials so far released say she is irrepressible. Brits are
Rotsler winner is announced each year at Loscon, held at Los Angeles during the
United States Thanksgiving-holiday weekend. Loscon
XLVI, 29 November – 1 December 2019, will have a display of
Scott’s work in the Art Show, and elsewhere of all Rotsler winners to
date. A display of all Rotsler winners can usually be seen at the
Worldcon; for “Dublin 2019”, the 77th Worldcon, look here.
is sponsored by the non-profit L.A. Science Fantasy Society, oldest SF club in
the world. The Rotsler is sponsored by the non-profit Southern
California Institute for Fan Interests. The current Rotsler judges
are Mike Glyer, John Hertz (since 2003), and Sue Mason (since 2015).
More examples of Alison Scott’s artwork follow the jump.
… Across the room, the quest for new materials continues, with a wafting terylene dress from 1941, and a screening of the exuberant 1951 Ealing comedy The Man in the White Suit, with Alec Guinness as the naïve inventor of an indestructible textile fleeing from angry industrialists and workers, saved only when his magic material disintegrates around him. There’s a lot of fun, as well as science, in this show—and some joyous artistic accidents, like David Hockney’s encounter with a polaroid camera, which he used for the dazzling grid of Sun on the Pool, Los Angeles (1982). “Drawing with a camera,” he called it.
In the next section, “Human Machines,” the note of fear enters fully with the trauma of mechanized carnage in World War I. A case holds pioneering artificial limbs from the 1920s, and in Otto Dix’s Card Players (1920), three disfigured soldiers sit round a table, their torn limbs and missing jaws replaced by fantastical prosthetics. The destructive technology of warfare and the constructive skill of limb-makers have turned Dix’s men into monsters. Have they, perhaps, become machines themselves?…
(3) TOOLBOX 2020. Applications for Taos Toolbox will be
taken beginning December 1. The two-week Master Class in
Science Fiction and Fantasy will be taught by Walter Jon Williams and Nancy
Kress, with special guest George R.R. Martin and special lecturer E.M. Tippetts.
The class runs June 7-20, 2020.
The Terran Award full attending Scholarship is available again
this year, sponsored by George R.R. Martin, to bring an aspiring SF writer from
a non-English-speaking country to the Taos Toolbox. The award covers all
tuition and fees to the Toolbox (but not meals or travel). Applicants
will need to speak and write in English, but must be from from a country where
English is not the primary language. WJW and the Toolbox staff will
select the winner.
Seven years ago, my house had 20 floor-to-ceiling bookcases, and about the same number of half-sized bookcases — about 5000 books, excluding the comics. The house was essentially full of books and comic books. Today I have ten tall bookcases, and a couple short ones. What follows is the road map from here to there — halving the number of books in my life. I have been hearing of many friends having to smallify their space, and maybe this will help!…
(5) ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT. It’s The Joker vs Pennywise in
the latest round of Epic Rap Battles Of History.
The Joker and Pennywise clown around in the eighth battle of ERB Season 6! Who won? Who’s next? You decide!
(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 24, 1958 — Devil Girl From Mars premiered in Swedish theaters. It starred Patricia Laffan and Hazel Court, reviewers called this UK film delightfully bad. It however is considered just bad at Rotten Tomatoes with a 23% rating.
November 24, 1985 — Ewoks: The Battle for Endor premieredon ABC. Starring Wilford Brimley, Warwick Davis, Aubree Miller, Paul Gleason and Carel Struycken, the critics found it mostly harmless. It holds a 51% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 24, 1882 — E. R. Eddison. Writer whose most well-known work by far is The Worm Ouroboros. It’s slightly connected to his much lesser known later Zimiamvian Trilogy. I’m reasonably that sure I’ve read The Worm Ouroboros but way too long ago to remember anything about it. Silverberg in the Millenium Fantasy Masterworks Series edition of this novel said he considered it to be “the greatest high fantasy of them all”. (Died 1945.)
Born November 24, 1907 — Evangeline Walton. Her best-known work, the Mabinogion tetralogy, was written during the late 1930s and early 1940s, and her Theseus trilogy was produced during the late 1940s. It’s worth stressing Walton is best known for her four novels retelling the Welsh Mabinogi. She published her first volume in 1936 under the publisher’s title of The Virgin and the Swine which is inarguably a terrible title. Although receiving glowing praise from John Cowper Powys, the book sold quite awfully and none of the other novels in the series were published at that time. Granted a second chance by Ballantine’s Adult Fantasy series in 1970, it was reissued with a much better title of The Island of the Mighty. The other three volumes followed quickly. Witch House is an occult horror story set in New England and She Walks in Darkness which came out on Tachyon Press is genre as well. I think that is the extent of her genre work but I’d be delighted to be corrected. She has won a number of Awards including the Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature, Best Novel along with The Fritz Leiber Fantasy Award, World Fantasy Award, Convention Award and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement. (Died 1996.)
Born November 24, 1916 — Forrest J. Ackerman. It’s no wonder that he got a a Hugo forfor #1 Fan Personality in 1953 and equally telling that when he was handed the trophy at Philcon II (by Asimov), he physically declined saying it should go to Ken Slater to whom the trophy was later given by the con committee. That’s a nice summation of him. You want more? As a literary agent, he represented some two hundred writers, and he served as agent of record for many long-lost authors, thereby allowing their work to be reprinted. Hell. he represented Ed Wood! He was a prolific writer, more than fifty stories to his credit, and he named Vampirella and wrote the origin story for her. Speaking of things pulp which she assuredly is, He appeared in several hundred films which I’ll not list here and even wrote lesbian erotica. Eclectic doesn’t begin to describe him. His non-fiction writings are wonderful as well. I’ll just single out Forrest J Ackerman’s Worlds of Science Fiction, A Reference Guide to American Science Fiction Films and a work he did with Brad Linaweaver, Worlds of Tomorrow: The Amazing Universe of Science Fiction Art. Did I mention he collected everything? Well he did. Just one location of his collection contained some three hundred thousand books, film, SF material objects and writings. The other was eighteen rooms in extent. Damn if anyone needed their own TARDIS, it was him. In his later years, he was a board member of the Seattle Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame who now have possession of many items of his collection. (Died 2008.)
Born November 24, 1948 — Spider Robinson, 71. His first story, “The Guy with the Eyes,” was published in Analog (February 1973). It was set in a bar called Callahan’s Place, a setting for much of his later fiction. His first published novel, Telempath in 1976 was an expansion of his Hugo award-winning novella “By Any Other Name”. The Stardance trilogywas co-written with his wife Jeanne Robinson. In 2004, he began working on a seven-page 1955 novel outline by the late Heinlein to expand it into a novel. The resulting novel would be called Variable Star. Who’s read it? Oh, he’s certainly won Awards. More than can be comfortably listed here.
Born November 24, 1957 — Denise Crosby, 62. Tasha Yar on Next Gen who got a meaningful death in “Yesterday’s Enterprise”. In other genre work, she was on The X-Files as a doctor who examined Agent Scully’s baby. And I really like it that she was in two Pink Panther films, Trail of the Pink Panther and Curse of the Pink Panther, as Denise, Bruno’s Moll. And she’s yet another Trek performer who’s done what I call Trek video fanfic. She’s Dr. Jenna Yar in “Blood and Fire: Part 2”, an episode of the only season of Star Trek: New Voyages.
Born November 24, 1957 — John Zakour, 62. For sheer pulp pleasure, I wholeheartedly recommend his Zachary Nixon Johnson PI series which he co-wrote with Larry Ganem. Popcorn reading at its very best. It’s the only series of his I’ve read, anyone else read his other books?
Born November 24, 1957 — Jeff Noon, 62. Novelist and playwright. Prior to his relocation in 2000 to Brighton, his stories reflected in some way his native though not birth city of Manchester. The Vurt sequence is a very odd riff off Alice in Wonderland that Noon describes as a sequel to those works.
Born November 24, 1965 — Shirley Henderson, 54. She was Moaning Myrtle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She was Ursula Blake in “ Love & Monsters!”, a Tenth Doctor story, and played Susannah in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, a film that’s if because of the metanarrative aspect.
(8) GAHAN WILSON IN HIS PRIME. Andrew Porter shared three photos
of cartoonist Gahan Wilson from the Eighties and Nineties.
If you’re hip to fanziner jokes – maybe I should’ve said hep, many of them started in the 1940s and 1950s – and the Cosmic Joker just now led me to mistype started with a v instead of the second t – you know we send poctsarcds. If you don’t, you can look it up here. Or it’s a good occasion to consult A Wealth of Fable (H. Warner, Jr., rev. 1992; see here).
Once in my fanzine Vanamonde I sleepily let stand the mistyping – or mis-mistyping – “poctsacrd”. Jack Speer promptly sent a letter of comment “Nothing is sacrd.”
(10) WISHLIST DESTINATIONS. Paul Weimer got a huge response
to his tweet – here are two examples.
Since I have more space (and fewer limitations on things like spoilers) on my own blog, I’d like to elaborate a little on the review, and particularly the sense I got that the Wormwood trilogy changed as it expanded from a standalone to a series. When I first read Rosewater (and even more so when I reread it last month, in preparation for writing this review) I was struck by how clearly it belonged to the subgenre of “zone” science fiction. Originating with the Strugatsky brothers’ 1972 novel Roadside Picnic (and the 1979 Tarkovsky film, Stalker, inspired by it), “zone” novels imagine that some segment of normal space has erupted into strangeness, a zone where the normal rules of physics, biology, and causality no longer apply, and whose residents–or anyone who wanders in–are irretrievably altered in some fundamental way. The zone also represents a disruption to existing power structures, and the plots of zone novels often revolve around characters who have been dispatched by the state to infiltrate the zone in an attempt to control or at least understand it–an effort that is doomed to failure. Recent examples of zone novels include Jeff VanderMeer’s Area X trilogy and M. John Harrison’s Kefahuchi Tract trilogy (and particularly the middle volume, Nova Swing). I’ve even seen a persuasive argument that the HBO miniseries Chernobyl can be read as zone science fiction, because of its unreal, heightened depiction of the region around the exploded reactor, and because the effects that the unseen radiation it spews have on people, animals, and plant life in the surrounding areas track so closely with the subgenre’s central trope of cellular-level change.
I saw Frozen II last night. It’s an OK movie – I didn’t love the first one very much, but I do appreciate the attempt to expand the story into a broader fantasy epic (even if it seems to borrow shamelessly from Avatar: The Last Airbender with barely even a fraction of that show’s skill at constructing plot and themes). But I’ve been thinking about the film’s handling of the theme of ancestral wrongs and making reparations for them, and the more I do the angrier I get, so here are some spoilery observations.
The issue, Marvel Comics No. 1 — published in October 1939 by Timely Comics, which would later become Marvel in the 1960s — sold for $1.26 million, the highest price ever at public auction for a comic made by the company, according to a Heritage Auctions press release.
The comic was given a 9.4 rating out of 10 by Certified Guaranty Company, and is the highest-rated copy of the issue in existence.
(16) RAINBOW CONNECTION. “Cinema Classics: The Wizard of Oz” on Saturday
Night Live provides an alternate ending to the 1938 film.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, John Hertz, Michael
Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, John King Tarpinian, N., Mike Kennedy, Ellen Datlow, and
Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing
editor of the day Kurt Busiek.]