Spikecon Art Show Awards

By John Hertz:  Spikecon was held on July 4-7, 2019, at Layton, Utah, combining Westercon LXXII (yearly; regional), the 13th NASFiC (North America Science Fiction Convention, held when the Worldcon is not in North America), Manticon 2019 (yearly; fans of David Weber’s Honor Harrington series and its Royal Manticoran Navy, i.e. Space navy), 1632 Minicon (yearly; fans of Eric Flint’s 1632 series).

Attendance about 800.  Art Show sales about $20,000 by about 60 artists.

Art Show director, Bruce Miller.  Judges, Peri Charlifu, Ctein, and me.

There was also a People’s Choice award.

Ctein felt strongly that judges who also happened to be exhibiting should not be considered for awards.  Brother Charlifu and I went along with this.

Best of Show, also People’s Choice

  • Devon Dorrity, “Queen of the Sea”; bronze

Color

               1st: Jessica Douglas, “Ghost Leviathan”; mixed media

               2nd: W.J. Hodgson, “Nebulous”; reverse glass painting

               3rd: Theresa Mather, “White Tiger Angel”; acrylic on feather with onyx, tanzanite, sapphires

Monochrome

               1st: Mark Roland, “Persistence of Memory”; etching

               2nd: Elizabeth Fellows, “Always”; fiber

               3rd: Bjo Trimble, “Aslan”; stone lithograph

Three-Dimensional

               1st: Elizabeth Berrien, “Cloud Unicorn”; wire

               2nd: Vincent Villafranca, “Bane of Thieves”; bronze

               3rd: Melanie Unruh, “Nebula”; ceramic footed bowl

Judge’s Choice

               Dragon Dronet, “Enemy Mine Skull”

               Jacob & Wayne Fowler, “Grey Ghost”; wood scroll-saw

               Kat Trimble, “Mariposa”; zinc plate etching


Ctein is pronounced “k’TINE”; that’s his full name; not “Mr. Ctein” or “Ctein Jones” or “Bill Ctein”, just Ctein.  There should be a circumflex over the “j” in “Bjo”, an Esperantism indicating pronunciation “bee-joe”.

WOOF in the Spirit of Shibano Takumi?

By John Hertz: WOOF (World Order of Faneditors) is the apa collated annually, since 1976, at the World Science Fiction Convention.

It’s another Bruce Pelz invention. As Suford Lewis said, he had a fruitful imagination.

Legend says he called it his second dumbest idea. But what did he know?

I’m well aware that actually answering this question would be an elephantine task.

An apa (amateur press, or publishing, association) is – among us – in origin a device for distributing fanzines.

Russell Chauvenet coined the word “fanzine” in the 1940s. Analog, Asimov’s, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and like that, are prozines. Our fanzines are amateur publications by fans, for fans. Pros sometimes contribute. Some people are both.

We borrowed apas from Amateur Journalism (sometimes “ayjay” for short). NAPA the National Amateur Press Association, founded 1876 and still ongoing – its 144th annual convention was 11-13 Jul 19 at Lansing, Michigan, U.S.A. – says it is

dedicated to the furtherance of Amateur Journalism as a hobby. Although deeply rooted in the “Black Art” of letterpress printing, all of the associated arts of writing, editing, publishing, and illustration are equally important to NAPA members. Each month’s bundle of papers, mailed to all members, will contain the work of printers, some who do not write, and writers and poets, and some who also print. Some edit and publish the work of others, leaving the craft of printing to yet others.

You can look it up.

Our fandom is younger, but was well along in 1937 when John Michel and Don Wollheim founded FAPA the Fantasy Amateur Press Association – also still ongoing.

It occurred to Michel and Wollheim – each of whom has much to answer for (historical present tense; JM 1917-1968, DW 1914-1990) – that fanziners could send copies of their zines to a central officer who would then collate and distribute them. From this came copy counts, membership rosters, waiting lists, and things too fierce to mention.

Since then we’ve had dozens of apas. They come and go, each with its own rules, customs, and jokes. Most of our apas have been quarterly or monthly. I’m in one that’s weekly.

The central and only officer of WOOF is the Official Editor. Some have held that position for years – Pelz himself, and Victoria Smith, to name two – but this too comes and goes.

The OE for WOOF in 2019 is Kees van Toorn, who among much else chaired the 48th Worldcon, at the Hague.

This year’s collation will be WOOF 44 (the number, like much else, is subject to controversy but there you are; possibly pertinent, but I insist it isn’t, atomic element 44 is one of the rarest metals on Earth, and has no biological role).

Sue Mason, some of whose artwork was collected by Alison Scott in No Moose Today, Thanks, will do a cover.

Would you like to contribute? There’s no formal membership.

This year’s Worldcon will be at Dublin, Republic of Ireland. At the moment WOOF seeks a convenient place for depositing and collecting contributions on paper. Electronic contributions will be printed and collated in.

The result will be (1) sent by paper or electronic mail to each contributor, as each may arrange with the OE; (2) sent to people who do not contribute, if any so arrange; (3) given to members of the Worldcon who seem interested, as resources may permit – including some way of covering the OE’s costs, with Dutch letters of exchange – that may not be right – hmm — or PayPal, or something.

Stay tuned for more details (“Slans! This is a Porgrave thought-broadcaster,” A.E. Van Vogt, Slan ch. 14, as the electronic may see here).

Meanwhile if you wish you can write or call me, 236 S. Coronado St., No. 409, Los Angeles, CA 90057, U.S.A.; (213)384-6622 (Pacific Time zone).

Why me – when I’ve never been in WOOF? Well, Lord Melbourne (William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, 1779-1848), when told he was a pillar of the Church, said “I don’t think I can be a pillar of the Church. I must be a buttress. I support it from outside.”

Why Shibano-san?

Among much else he wrote and translated under the name Rei Kozumi. Some of us rendered this as “Mr. Kozumi”, not recognizing his Japanification – while in Japanese style the last name shall be first, the Japanese are punsters far beyond even the likes of me (and I wish I’d invented “Black Art”, though ink comes in other colors too) – of “cosmic ray”. He was great in fandom and prodom.

“Kees” rhymes with “rays”.

Half the places I have been to, never were

By John Hertz: (reprinted in part from No Direction Home 19) Over the weekend Columbus, Ohio, won its bid to hold the 2020 NASFiC. Sit enim sit bonum omen (Latin; “Let it be a good omen”). This is the 125th birth-anniversary year of Columbus boy James Thurber (1894-1961; December 8th). His name still is on many lips. Try The Seal in the Bedroom (1932); The Thurber Carnival (1945; Broadway revue, 1960).

The NASFiC (North America Science Fiction Convention) is held – since 1975 – when the World Science Fiction Convention is outside North America (Section 4.8, Constitution of the World Science Fiction Society).

The 2019 Worldcon will be August 15-19 at Dublin, Republic of Ireland; the 77th Worldcon. The 2019 NASFiC was July 4-7 at Layton, Utah; the 13th NASFiC.

Layton first won its bid to hold Westercon LXXII (annual West Coast – but it can be anywhere in North America west of the 104th West Meridian [or in the State of Hawaii], Section 3.1, Westercon Bylaws – Science Fantasy Conference); then won a bid to hold the NASFiC concurrently.

These two general-interest SF cons were then joined by two special-interest cons, the annual 1632 Minicon (fans of Eric Flint’s 1632 series) and the annual Manticon (fans of David Weber’s Honor Harrington series, with its Royal Manticoran Navy — i.e. Space Navy).

The four-con combination was called Spikecon, for the Final Spike completing the Transcontinental Railroad, driven 150 years ago (10 May 1869) at Promontory, Utah, 50 miles (80 km) northwest of the con site.

The 26th Worldcon was combined with Westercon XXI. We’d never combined a Westercon and a NASFiC before. Recall Ben Yalow’s apothegm (there’s reason to spell it apophthegm, but this is complicated enough) “Running a Worldcon is impossible. Running a NASFiC is harder.”

The 2020 Worldcon will be at Wellington, New Zealand. So Spikecon administered voting for the 2020 NASFiC.

Minneapolis in ’73 and Peggy Rae’s House each got 1 write-in vote, which I’ll tell you all about some other time.

I’d started reading Thurber long before I got around to The Thurb Revolution (A. Panshin, 1968; note that Kevin Roche, who chaired the 76th Worldcon, won an award as Torve the Trog in the Masquerade at Costume-Con III, 1985). I’m not aware that Thurber wrote science fiction. He did write fantasy. I recommend The 13 Clocks (1950). Marc Simont did the illustrations.

Once upon a time, in a gloomy castle on a lonely hill, where there were thirteen clocks that wouldn’t go, there lived a cold, aggressive Duke…. His hands were as cold as his smile and almost as cold as his heart…. His nights were spent in evil dreams, and his days were given to wicked schemes …. impossible feats for the suitors of Saralinda to perform…. to cut a slice of moon, or to change the ocean into wine…. finding things that never were, and building things that could not be….

….a prince, disguised as a minstrel, came singing to the town that lay below the castle…. weary of rich attire and banquets and tournaments … to find in a far land the maiden of his dreams….

“The Duke….” a tosspot gurgled…. “breaks up minstrels in his soup, like crackers.”

The minstrel began to sing again. A soft finger touched his shoulder and he turned to see a little man smiling in the moonlight. He wore an indescribable hat, his eyes were wide and astonished, as if everything were happening for the first time…. “I am the Golux,” said the Golux, proudly, “the only Golux in the world, and not a mere Device…. I resemble only half the things I say I don’t…. The other half resemble me…. Half the places I have been to, never were. I make things up. Half the things I say are there cannot be found….

“The Duke prepares to feed you to his geese…. We must invent a tale to stay his hand…. to make the Duke believe that slaying you would light a light in someone else’s heart. He hates a light in people’s hearts….”

The iron guards of the Duke closed in…. There was a clang and clanking.

“Do not arrest my friend,” the youth implored.

“What friend?” the captain growled.

The minstrel looked around him and about, but there was no one…. A guard guffawed and said, “Maybe he’s seen the Golux.”

“There isn’t any Golux. I have been to school, and know,” the captain said.

Neil Gaiman said “This book is probably the best book in the world. And if it’s not the best book, then it’s still very much like nothing anyone has ever seen before.” But what does he know?

Pixel Scroll 7/7/19 Just A Small Town Scroll, Living In A Pixel World

(1) PENRIC RETURNS. Lois McMaster Bujold has finished another Penric and Desdemona novella – see “The Orphans of Raspay cover sneak peek” at Goodreads.

When the ship in which they are traveling is captured by Carpagamon island raiders, Temple sorcerer Penric and his resident demon Desdemona find their life complicated by two young orphans, Lencia and Seuka Corva, far from home and searching for their missing father. Pen and Des will need all their combined talents of mind and magic to unravel the mysteries of the sisters and escape from the pirate stronghold.

This novella follows about a year after the events of “The Prisoner of Limnos”.

E-publication before the end of the month, I’m pretty sure; this week or next, maybe. I still have some last polishing and fretting to do on the text file, and then there is the vexing question of a map.

(2) GAINING INSIGHT. Jonathan LaForce advises writers looking to base their stories on lived experience “How to Talk with Veterans” at Mad Genius Club.

Last month, we talked about telling the stories of combat veterans as they really happened. Without whitewashing or varnish. Without embellishment. Without lies.
In the third-to-last paragraph, I make mention of sitting down and talking with veterans. Over the last month I’ve been looking around and realizing nobody has ever explained how to talk with veterans, as a writer looking for technical (and personal) knowledge about the profession of arms. Today, we’re gonna start down that road.

(3) THE OLD EQUATIONS.

Sylvia Spruck Wrigley’s article “Throw Grandma Out the Airlock: Representation of Old Women in Science Fiction” appears in SFRA Review #217, published by the Science Fiction Research Association.

This project started because I was wrong. My initial premise was that speculative fiction relegated women “of a certain age” to very specific roles: the crone, the wise woman, the meddling mother, the friendly innkeep. This seemed such an obvious truth that it was barely even worth stating. We’ve seen these women all our lives, in fairy tales and epic fantasy, and of course in Terry Pratchett’s wonderful parodies of old women in all of their cliched roles.

However, when pressed, I discovered that there was one place where we do not see these women: in science fiction novels. Old women are a rarity in science fiction and when they do exist, they inhabit a very different space. We don’t have innkeeps, we have immortals. We don’t have crazy cat ladies, we have body snatchers. There’s a distinct lack of old ladies who love solving cozy mysteries, but we do have a greater than-normal number of politicians. 

(4) UNREAL ESTATE. What are “The Most Terrifying Buildings in Literature”? Riley Sager has a little list at Crimereads.

Building: The World’s Fair Hotel

Book: The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson

“I was born with the devil in me.” So said H.H. Holmes, one of America’s most notorious serial killers. Holmes began construction of his so-called hotel as Chicago was gearing up for the 1893 World’s Fair. Far from your normal bed and breakfast, the building included soundproofed rooms, maze-like hallways and, in the basement, a crematorium and acid vats. Although the number of people he killed there is unknown, it was more than enough to give the building a different name—“The Murder Castle.” 

(5) WRITERS AT SEA. FastCompany’s Apollo 11 commemoration series revisits “The celebrity cruise to celebrate the end of the Moon landings was a delightful train wreck” – “The voyage set sail powered by the hot air of macho writer Norman Mailer, and it was precisely the 1970s freak show you’d expect.”

…But perhaps the oddest Moon-related cultural experience was one that happened on the occasion of the launch of Apollo 17, in December 1972, the last Apollo mission to the Moon. It was a Caribbean cruise on Holland America’s ship, the S.S. Statendam, and anyone with the money for a ticket could mingle with NBC newsman Hugh Downs, science fiction legends Isaac Asimov and Ben Bova, novelist Katherine Anne Porter, and yes, Norman Mailer himself. This curious collection of luminaries also organized events and panels as part of the ship’s entertainment. The cruise lasted almost as long as the Apollo 17 mission itself: nine days, starting with a seaborne view of Apollo 17’s launch from seven miles off Cape Kennedy….

(6) DECALCOMANIA. The family that cosplays together….

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 7, 1907 Robert Heinlein. So what do you like by him? I’m very fond of The Moon is A Harsh Mistress. And I like Starship Troopers despite the baggage around it. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls is on my occasional re-read list as I find a fun read in a way that Friday isn’t. Time Enough for Love is, errr, self-indulgent in the extreme. Fun though. (Died 1988.)
  • Born July 7, 1919 Jon Pertwee. The Third Doctor and one that I’ll admit I like a lot. He returned to the role of the Doctor in The Five Doctors and the charity special Dimensions in Time for Children in Need. He also portrayed the Doctor in the stage play Doctor Who – The Ultimate Adventure.  After a four year run here, he was the lead on Worzel Gummidge where he was, errr, a scarecrow. And I must note that one of his fist roles was as The Judge in the film of Toad of Toad Hall by A. A. Milne. (Died 1996.)
  • Born July 7, 1931 David Eddings. Prolific and great, with his wife Leigh, they authored several best-selling epic fantasy novel series, including The Belgariad, The Malloreon and The Dreamers to name but three of their series. They’ve written but one non-sriracha novel, The Redemption of Althalus. (Died 2009.)
  • Born July 7, 1948 Kathy Reichs, 71. Author of the Temperance Brennan series which might be genre adjacent, she’s also the author of Virals, a YA series about a group of a young adults with minor super powers. 
  • Born July 7, 1959 Billy Campbell, 60. There are some films so good in my memory that even the Suck Fairy can’t spoil them and The Rocketeer in which he played stunt pilot Cliff Secord is one of them. BTW,  IDW did a hardcover edition called Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures and Amazon has it for a mere twenty-five bucks! 
  • Born July 7, 1968 Jeff VanderMeer, 51. Ok I’ll admit that I’m ambivalent about the Southern Reach Trilogy and am not sure if it’s brilliant or not. I will say the pirate anthology he and his wife Anne did, Fast Ships, Black Sails, is quite tasty reading. 
  • Born July 7, 1969 Cree Summer, 50. Voice performer in myriad series such as as Spider-Man: The New Animated SeriesJustice League UnlimitedStar Wars: The Clone Wars, and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. She’s playing a number of the cast in the current Young Justice series including Madame Xanadu and Aquagirl.
  • Born July 7, 1987 V. E. Schwab, 32. I’m very pleased with her A Darker Shade of Magic which explores magicians in a parallel universe London. It’s part of her Shades of Magic series. 

(8) COMICS SECTION.

  • Free Range is there when an important discovery is made about the dark side of the moon.

(9) FINDING RETRO NOMINEES. Ian Moore advises about “Finding the 1944 Retro Hugo finalists online” at Secret Panda. Lots of archival links.

Soon in Dublin the winners of this year’s Hugo Awards will be revealed, including the winners of the Retro Hugo Awards for science fiction published in 1943. This year unfortunately there is no voters packet for the Retro Hugos. However most of the publications in which the finalists appeared are available on the Internet Archive, where they can be read online or downloaded by Hugo Award voters. See below for links to where the various works can be found. Voting closes at midnight on 31July, so get reading.

(10) NOW IN BLACK AND WHITE. Missed out on this when it first came around in 2015 – a takeoff on “Batman v Superman” courtesy of a “Vulture Remix” of two 1940s serials.

These days, superhero movies are all about bombast — take, for example, the upcoming “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” But there was a simpler time, when superheroes looked terrible and were more charming than scary. We imagine what a Batman/Superman matchup would’ve looked like in the era of the first serial films about the characters from way back in the middle of the century.

(11) POWER OF THE PRESS. Another Superman stalwart is getting an update this month – the New York Times has the story: “Lois Lane Fights for Justice in a New Comic Series”. “Lois Lane stars in a new 12-issue series focusing on her career as a reporter.”

Revoked White House credentials, the mysterious death of a journalist and a conspiracy to profit from the separation of migrant families at the border. This looks like a job for … Lois Lane, the Daily Planet reporter.

The character, who, like Superman and Clark Kent, first appeared in 1939, is starring in a 12-issue comic book series that begins on Wednesday. The story, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Mike Perkins, focuses on Lois Lane as she tries to find out more about the death of Mariska Voronova, a journalist who had been critical of the Kremlin.

(12) NOTES FROM SPIKECON. David Doering sent a couple of short news items from the NASFiC/Westercon:

Joy Day’s fabulous ASFA award, a vibrant spherical interpretation of a Black Hole, got lost enroute to Layton in the Black Hole of the USPS…

While I hoped for one or more of our locals who were nominated to win, but those that did were very worthy.

Sadly, not one winner was in attendance. We need to elevate the appreciation of art. Cover art and illustrations are often the cause of us picking up a book or magazine in the first place.

I still associate Lord of the Rings with the gum drop tree cover art from 1965…

Then, this morning, Dave was able to check another box on his fannish bucket list:

I earned the dubious honor tonight  of having our room party shutdown  for being too noisy. Who knew that LTUE  and World Fantasy crowd could be so boistrous? 

(13) ALSO SEEN AT SPIKECON. Tanglwyst de Holloway was encouraged by John Hertz to share this photo, as it was the first time John had seen it done:

(14) VASTER THAN EMPIRES. In the July 7 issue of the New York Times Book Review, author Charles Yu reviews Neil Stevenson’s new book:

His latest, “Fall; or, Dodge in Hell,” is another piece of evidence in the anti-Matrix case: a staggering feat of imagination, intelligence and stamina. For long stretches, at least. Between those long stretches, there are sections that, while never uninteresting, are somewhat less successful. To expect any different, especially in a work of this length, would be to hold it to an impossible standard. Somewhere in this 900-page book is a 600-page book. One that has the same story, but weighs less. Without those 300 pages, though, it wouldn’t be Neal Stephenson. It’s not possible to separate the essential from the decorative. Nor would we want that, even if it were. Not only do his fans not mind the extra — it’s what we came for.

Also, New York Times Book Review’s Tina Jordan conducts a brief interview with Neal Stephenson about Fall, which debuted at No. 14 on the paper’s New Fiction list.

“Unlike some of my hard science fiction books, such as ‘Seveneves’—where I sweated the details of orbits, rocket engines, etc.—‘Fall’ is meant to be read as more of a fable,” Stephenson explains. “I’m not making any pretense in the book that the neuroscience and computer science are plausible. My approach was to take a particular way of thinking around brains and the uploading of human consciousness into digital form, and just say, ‘Suppose this is all true; let’s run with it and see where it takes us on a pure storytelling level.’”

(15) BANK EARNS NEW INTEREST. A key player in many older SF novels, “Jodrell Bank gains Unesco World Heritage status”.

Jodrell Bank Observatory has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.

It has been at the forefront of astronomical research since its inception in 1945 and tracked US and Russian craft during the space race.

The site in Cheshire is part of the University of Manchester. It is dominated by the landmark Lovell Telescope.

It joins the ancient Iraqi city of Babylon and other locations that have been added to the prestigious list.

…Scientific research began at Jodrell Bank Observatory in 1945 when the physicist Sir Bernard Lovell came to the University of Manchester.

The site pioneered the then new science of radio astronomy, which used radio waves instead of visible light to understand the universe.

(16) BESIDE THE SEA. SYFY Wire tells how people looking for rarities found one: “Canadian gemstone miners discover prehistoric sea monster skeleton”.

Enchanted Designs Limited miners digging at Alberta’s Bearpaw Formation for rainbow-shaded ammolite gemstones, which are created by the fossilized shells of extinct marine mollusks called ammonites, discovered the nearly complete remains of the “T-rex of the Seas” in soft black-shale mudstone. The impressive specimen measured in at between 20 and 23 feet long.

(16) PITCH MEETINGS. Beware spoilers in ScreenRant’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home Pitch Meeting.”

Marvel Studios wrapped up Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Avengers: Endgame — except wait no, they squeezed another Spider-Man movie in there before closing the curtains. Spider-Man: Far From Home is Tom Holland’s second “solo” outing as Peter Parker, and the character is still heavily influenced by the recently departed Tony Stark AKA Iron Man. Far From Home raises a lot of questions. Like what exactly is Mysterio’s long-term plan? What’s going on with all the other living Avengers? How does Spider-Man get his Peter Tingle back? Why are the mid-credits and post-credits scenes the most memorable parts of this film? To answer all these questions and more, step inside the pitch meeting that led to Spider-Man: Far From Home! It’s super easy, barely an inconvenience!

 [Thanks to JJ, Cat Eldridge, Chip Hitchcock, Nicholas Whyte, Tanglwyst de Holloway, Alan Baumler, Michael Toman, Martin Morse Wooster, Rob Thornton, Mike Kennedy, Carl Slaughter, John King Tarpinian, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

Pixel Scroll 7/3/19 These Are The Pixels That Try Men’s Scrolls

(1) IN OPINIONS YET TO COME. Brooke Bolander is the latest sff author to pen a futuristic op-ed for the New York Times.

As Tor.com puts it –

Asking “Who Should Live in Flooded Old New York?” Bolander imagines a time in which it’s illegal to live in the flooded remains of NYC, with the only residents being those who are too poor to move elsewhere. In this future, Mr. Rogers’ theme song has turned into an “old folk song,” and “draconian federal regulations” punish those remaining, while millionaires running illegal tourism schemes in the city get off scot-free.

(2) WHAT TOR LEARNED FROM LIBRARY SALES EMBARGO. Jason Sanford’s analysis, “Does library ebook lending hurt book sales? Tor Books experiment reveals answers, may lead to new ebook lending terms”, is a free post at his Patreon page. 

Sanford interviewed Fritz Foy, president and publisher of Tom Doherty Associates, the unit of Macmillan that includes Tor, who shared “an unprecedented look at their embargo test….”

…To discover if library ebook lending was indeed hurting sales, Macmillan used their Minotaur imprint as a control group and Tor Books as an experimental group. The two groups have books which sold in similar patterns along with authors and book series which drove steady sales from year to year.

For the experiment Tor prohibited ebook sales to libraries until four months after a book’s release. After that date libraries could purchase the Tor ebooks. The control group Minotaur instituted no such restriction. (As a side-note, Foy said the there was never a plan to do a six-month embargo on ebook sales to libraries, as reported in that Good e-Reader article.)

Foy was surprised by the experiment’s stark results.

“All but one title we compared (in the Tor experiment group) had higher sales after the four month embargo on ebook sales to libraries,” he said. “And the only title where we didn’t see this happen had bad reviews. And when you looked at the control group, sales remained the same.”

(3) LOTR DIRECTOR. “‘The Lord Of The Rings’: J.A. Bayona To Direct Amazon Series”Deadline has the story.

Amazon Studios’ high-profile The Lord of the Rings TV series has made a key hire. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director Juan Antonio (J.A.) Bayona has been tapped to direct the first two episodes of the big-scope fantasy drama, following in the footsteps of Peter Jackson, who directed the feature adaptations of the classic J.R.R. Tolkien novels.

…Bayona’s first feature film, critically acclaimed thriller The Orphanage, executive produced by Guillermo del Toro, premiered to a 10-minute standing ovation at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and later won seven Goya Awards in Spain, including best new director.

Bayona most recently directed Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, which grossed more than $1.3 billion worldwide last year. He also directed the features The Impossible, starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, and A Monster Calls, starring Sigourney Weaver, Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones, as well as the first two episodes of Showtime’s hit series Penny Dreadful.

(4) LOTR LOCATION. And where will the series be filmed? Probably where you’d have predicted it would if you never heard about the plan for Scotland. Yahoo! Movies reports “Scotland loses out on lucrative ‘Lord of the Rings’ shoot over ‘Brexit uncertainty’, claims new report”.

Amazon’s $1.5 billion (£1.19bn) Lord of the Rings series looks set to begin filming in New Zealand this month, after producers reportedly got cold feet about shooting in Scotland.

The NZ Herald reports that a “huge” part of the series, said to be the most expensive TV show ever made, will be produced in Auckland, specifically at the Kumeu Film Studios and Auckland Film Studios, with an official announcement coming this month. The report states that pre-production on the Amazon show has been based at the two studios for the last year.

Producers were also said to be considering Scotland as a production base, but New Zealand’s public-service radio broadcaster Radio New Zealand (Radio NZ), claims “the tumultuous Brexit situation hindered Scotland’s pitch”.

(5) RESNICK RETURNS TO FB. Mike Resnick gave Facebook readers a medical update about his frightening health news:

Sorry to be absent for a month. 4 weeks ago I was walking from one room to the next when I collapsed. Carol called the ambulance, and 2 days later I woke up in the hospital minus my large intestine. Just got home last night.

I don’t like growing old.

(6) TIDHAR PICKS BUNDLED. Storybundle announced the The 2019 World SF Bundle, curated by Lavie Tidhar:

For StoryBundle, you decide what price you want to pay. For $5 (or more, if you’re feeling generous), you’ll get the basic bundle of four books in any ebook format—WORLDWIDE.

  • Afro SF V3 by Ivor W. Hartmann
  • The Apex Book of World SF 5 by Cristina Jurado and Lavie Tidhar
  • Nexhuman by Francesco Verso
  • Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng

If you pay at least the bonus price of just $15, you get all four of the regular books, plus SIX more!

  • Escape from Baghdad! by Saad Z. Hossain
  • After the Flare by Deji Bryce Olukotun
  • The Thousand Year Beach by TOBI Hirotaka
  • Slipping by Lauren Beukes
  • Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson
  • The Vanishing Kind by Lavie Tidhar

This bundle is available only for a limited time.

(7) JAMES WHITE AWARD. The judges for the 2019 James White Award will be Justina Robson, Chris Beckett and Donna Scott.

The competition is open to original, unpublished short stories of not more than 6,000 words by non-professional writers. The award, established in 2000, offers non-professional writers the opportunity to have their work published in Interzone, the UK’s leading sf magazine. The deadline for submissions was June 28. The winner will be announced in August.

(8) JUMANJI. The next sequel will be in theaters at Christmas.

In Jumanji: The Next Level, the gang is back but the game has changed. As they return to Jumanji to rescue one of their own, they discover that nothing is as they expect. The players will have to brave parts unknown and unexplored, from the arid deserts to the snowy mountains, in order to escape the world’s most dangerous game.

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • July 3, 1958 Fiend Without A Face premiered.
  • July 3, 1985 Back to the Future was released.
  • July 3, 1996 Independence Day debuted in theaters.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born July 3, 1898 E. Hoffmann Price. He’s most readily remembered as being a Weird Tales writer, one of a group that included Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith. He did a few collaborations, one of which was with H. P. Lovecraft, “Through the Gates of the Silver Key”. Another work, “The Infidel’s Daughter”, a satire on the Ku Klux Klan, also angered many Southern readers. (Died 1998.)
  • Born July 3, 1926 William Rotsler. An artist, cartoonist, pornographer and SF author. Well, that is his bio. Rotsler was a four-time Hugo Award winner for Best Fan Artist and one-time Nebula Award nominee. He also won a “Retro-Hugo” for his work in 1946 and was runner-up for 1951. He responsible for giving Uhura her first name, created “Rotsler’s Rules for Costuming”, popularized the idea fans wore propeller beanies and well, being amazing sounding. (Died 1997.)
  • Born July 3, 1927 Tim O’Connor. He was Dr. Elias Huer in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century for much of its run. Other genre appearances were on The Six Million Dollar ManThe Twilight Zone, The Outer LimitsWonder WomanKnight RiderStar Trek: The Next Generation and The Burning Zone. (Died 2018.)
  • Born July 3, 1927 Ken Russell. Altered States is his best known SF film but he’s also done The Devils, an historical horror film, and Alice in Russialand. Russell had a cameo in the film adaptation of Brian Aldiss’s novel Brothers of the Head by the directors of Lost in La Mancha. And, of course, he’s responsible for The Who’s Tommy. (Died 2012.)
  • Born July 3, 1937 Tom Stoppard, 82. Screenplay writer, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead which is adjacent genre if not actually genre. Also scripted of course Brazil which he co-authored with Terry Gilliam and Charles McKeow. He also did the final Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade final rewrite of Jeffrey Boam’s rewrite of Menno Meyjes’s screenplay. And finally Shakespeare in Love which he co-authored with Marc Norman.
  • Born July 3, 1943 Kurtwood Smith, 76. Clarence Boddicker in Robocop, Federation President in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and voiced Kanjar Ro in Green Lantern: First Flight. He’s got series appearances on Blue ThunderThe Terrible ThunderlizardsThe X-FilesStar Trek: Deep Space NineStar Trek: VoyagerMen in Black: The Series3rd Rock from the SunTodd McFarlane’s Spawn, Judtice League, Batman Beyond, Green Lantern and Beware the Batman. His last role was as Vernon Masters as the superb Agent Carter.
  • Born July 3, 1962 Tom Cruise, 57. I’m reasonably sure his first genre role was as Jack in Legend. Next up was Lestat de Lioncourt in Interview with the Vampire followed by being Ethan Hunt in the first of many Mission Impossible films. Then he was John Anderton in the abysmal Minority Report followed by Ray Ferrier in the even far more abysmal War of The Worlds. I’ve not seen him as Maj. William Cage in Edge of Tomorrow so I’ve no idea how good he or the film is. Alas then Nick Morton in, oh god, The Mummy

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) IT DON’T PAY TO BE IGNORANT. Not on Jeopardy! as Andrew Porter witnessed tonight:

In the category American Writers, the answer was, “In a story by this sci-fi master, ‘I Sing the Body Electric!’ is the title of a pamphlet for a robot grandmother.”

Wrong questions: “Who is Isaac Asimov?” and “Who is Robert Heinlein?”

(13) AURORA AWARDS. The 2019 Aurora Awards Voter Package is online, available to members of the Canadian Science Fiction & Fantasy Association.

The purpose of the Aurora Awards Voter Package is simple. Before you vote for the Aurora Awards this year, we want you to be able to read as much of the nominated work as possible, so you can make and informed decision about what is the best of the year. Please note: the package is only available while voting is open. Remember voting ends September 14, 2019 at 11:59:59 EDT!

The electronic versions of these Aurora Award nominated works are made available to you through the generosity of the nominees and publishers. We are grateful for their participation and willingness to share with CSFFA members. If you like what you read, please support the creators by purchasing their works, which are available in bookstores and online.

(14) EN ROUTE. John Hertz, while packing for his journey to Spikecon, paused to quote from the classics:

Farewell my friends, farewell my foes;
To distant planets Freddy goes;
To face grave perils he intends.
Farewell my foes, goodbye my friends.

(15) MORE BOOKS I HAVEN’T READ. At Tor.com, Gabriella Tutino publicized a list compiled by Reddit User einsiboy, creator of the TopRedditBooks site: “Here are the 100 Most Discussed Fantasy Books on Reddit”.  The Reddit link is here. I’ve only read 19 of these – what a disgrace!

(16) JDA REAPPLIES TO SFWA. Mary Robinette Kowal took office as SFWA’s new President at the start of the month. Jon Del Arroz says his latest application for membership is already in her inbox: “A New Dawn For SFWA!” [Internet Archive link].

Things are changing at SFWA as my friend Mary Robinette Kowal has been installed as president, after I endorsed her candidacy early on.

…As she has featured my books on her blog not once, but twice, I know that Ms. Kowal’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity is important to her, and she will be doing everything she can to change the perception that SFWA is a place where Conservatives and Christians are not welcome to be called professional authors.

As such, I have reapplied to SFWA as of yesterday, and let Ms. Kowal know, so we can begin the long journey of working together to ensure equality for Conservative and Christian authors. I’ve offered my services as an ambassador to the community, so she will directly be able to hear the grievances of such authors who have been treated as second class citizens — dare I say, 3/5ths of a professional author — for so long now within the science fiction community.

(17) VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE INTERNET. Shades of Cryptonomicon. Futurism.com thinks that the “Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables”

Fire Down Below

On Monday, a Russian submarine caught fire during a mission, killing 14 sailors on board.

But the public didn’t find out about the incident until the next day, when Russia finally released a statement about the accident — though two days after the event, the nation still wouldn’t say exactly what kind of sub caught fire or whether it was nuclear-powered.

A possible reason for Russia’s caginess? Multiple sources are now claiming the sub was an AS-12 “Losharik,” a nuclear-powered submarine some speculate was designed to cut the undersea cables that deliver internet to the world.

(18) FOUR FOR THE FOURTH. For the holiday, James Davis Nicoll has lined up “4 SF Works Featuring a Far-Future U.S.A.” at Tor.com.

In Joe and Jack C. Haldeman’s There Is No Darkness, English is an obscure language, spoken only on backwater worlds and a few places on Earth. We don’t know exactly when the book takes place, as year zero has been set to the founding of the (future) Confederacion. We are told the year is A.C. 354.

What we see of a future Texas suggests that it’s still as recognizably American as Justinian’s Constantinople would have been recognizably Roman. While the region seems a bit down at heel, it’s also one of the more optimistic takes on a future America.

(19) SCALZI GIVEAWAY. Or maybe Christmas will come early and you can read this:

(20) IF IT E-QUACKS LIKE A DUCK. Thomas has found a place where “Robots Replace Ducks in Rice Paddy Fields”.

Aigamo is a Japanese farming method that uses ducks to keep unwanted plants and parasites out of rice paddy fields. This duck crossbreed is able to keep the paddy clear without the use of herbicides or pesticides, and the fowls’ waste actually works as a pretty good fertilizer.  

The method was first introduced in the 16th century but soon fell out of favor. It wasn’t reintroduced as a natural farming method until 1985 and it quickly became popular across the country as well as in China, Iran, France, and other countries. 

About 15 ducks can keep a 1,000-square-meter area clear of insects, worms, and weeds, and they even enrich the water with oxygen by constantly stirring up the soil. But as humans are prone to do, an engineer from Nissan Motor, needed to build a better mousetrap, although this one may not have too many beating down a path to his door. 

Created as a side project, the Aigamo Robot looks less like its namesake and more like a white, floating Roomba with eyes. While the ducks can be trained to patrol specific areas, the robot employs Wi-Fi and GPS to help the robot stir up the soil and keep bugs at bay, though no word yet on how much ground it can cover in a single day. 

(21) SPIDER TO THE FLIER. Have you seen “United–Fly Like a Superhero” on YouTube? The Spider-Man version of the United Airlines safety video? Too bad it’s not as much fun as the Air New Zealand hobbit videos.

(22) STRANGE VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “9 Ways To Draw A Person” on Vimeo, Sasha Svirsky offers a strange video that doesn’t actually tell you how to draw a person.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Jason Sanford, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Daniel Dern, John King Tarpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Greg Hullender, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day rcade.]

Two Neighbors

By John Hertz: (reprinted in part from No Direction Home 18) Where were you on May 2nd? It was the 500th death-anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). Did you take a cup, say a prayer, look up his work? Maybe you will yet this year. He was born near the town of Vinci; the farmhouse which is believed to be where this occurred, built in 1427, is now the Casa Natale di Leonardo, a museum, about 30 miles (50 km) west of Florence, in Tuscany, Italy.

There are celebratory exhibits at Florence, Milan, Rome; Paris; Krakow; in the United Kingdom, touring twelve cities, and at the Queen’s Gallery in London and in Edinburgh; two more were at Hamburg (first week of June) and New York (January-April).

He studied all things in nature with curiosity, patience, and care; science and art, so remarkably united in his mind, had there one origin – detailed observation [p. 199]…. indeed he was interested in everything. All postures and actions of the human body, all expressions of the face in young and old, all the organs and movements of animals and plants from the waving of wheat in the field to the flight of birds in the air, all the cyclical erosion and elevation of mountains, all the currents and eddies of water and wind, the moods of the weather, the shades of the atmosphere, and the inexhaustible kaleidoscope of the sky…. he filled thousands of pages with observation concerning them, and drawings of their myriad forms [pp. 200-01].

The subject [of The Last Supper] was superb, but from a painter’s point of view it was pitted with hazards. It had to confine itself to male figures and a modest table in a simple room … no vivid action could be brought in to set the figures into motion and convey the sense of life…. he portrayed the gathering at the tense moment Christ has prophesied that one of the Apostles will betray Him, and each is asking, in fear or horror or amazement, “Is it I?”… more than violent physical action; a searching and revelation of spirit; never again, so profoundly, has an artist revealed in one picture so many souls…. preliminary sketches … for James the Greater, Philip, Judas – are drawings of such finesse and power as only Rembrandt [1606-1669] and Michelangelo [1475-1564] have matched [p. 205].

There are several alleged portraits of him, but none before fifty [p. 214]…. He was not anxious to be read by the many. “The truth of things,” he wrote, “is a supreme food for fine intelligences, but not for wandering wits” [p. 215].

He wrote equally well on science and art, and divided his time almost evenly between them [p. 217]…. [In the Treatise on Painting] he urges: “Make figures with such action as may suffice to show what the figure has in mind.” Did he forget to do this with Mona Lisa, or did he exaggerate our ability to read the soul in the eyes and the lips? [p. 218]… It is hard for us to realize that to Ludovico [Sforza, 1452-1508], as to Caesar Borgia [1475-1507], Leonardo was primarily an engineer…. He developed a machine for cutting threads in screws … frictionless roller-bearing hand brakes…. three-speed transmission gears; an adjustable monkey wrench; a machine for rolling metal; a movable bed for a printing press; a self-locking worm gear for raising a ladder [p. 219].

Side by side with his drawings, sometimes on the same page, sometimes scrawled across a sketch of a man or a woman, a landscape or a machine, are the notes in which this insatiable mind puzzled over the laws and operations of nature…. Often the artist peered out again in the scientist; the scientific drawing might itself be a thing of beauty [p. 221]…. The anatomy of man he described not only in words but in drawings that excelled anything yet done [p. 224]…. more fertile in conception than in execution. He was not the greatest scientist or engineer or painter or sculptor or thinker of his time; he was merely the man who was all of these together and in each field rivaled the best…. not quite “the universal man”, since the qualities of statesman or administrator found no place in his variety. But, with all his limitations and incompletions, he was the fullest man [author’s emphasis] of the Renaissance, perhaps of all time [p. 217].

W. Durant, The Renaissance (1953; The Story of Civilization vol. 5)

We in the science fiction community cannot claim Leonardo. Some of his designs were not practicable in his day, which he did not know, not having carried them far enough, but he unlike e.g. Jules Verne did not purpose fiction. Conceptually he lived next door to us. The scope and quality of his imagination, and of his conjoining art and science, are inspiring.

From a 2nd to a 22nd, from a 500th to a 50th. June 22nd was the 50th death-anniversary of Judy Garland (1922-1969). Her death at age 47 ended a 45-year career; she had performed since age 2.

On the 29th Jerry Sharell on his Sinatra and Sharell program, Radio Station KKJZ, played her singing “Come Rain or Come Shine” (H. Arlen & J. Mercer, 1946) from her 23 Apr 61 Carnegie Hall concert, followed by Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) from Sinatra and Strings (1962); if you drink wine, like Corton-Charlemagne and Margaux.

That Carnegie Hall concert, to a sold-out house, was called “the greatest night in show-business history”; released as the two-record Judy at Carnegie Hall (1963) it was an RIAA-certified gold album (Recording Industry Ass’n of America; $1 million in retail sales).

Let us note, even without exploring, her spectacular work in Meet Me in St. Louis (V. Minelli dir. 1944), Easter Parade (C. Walters dir. 1948), A Star is Born (G. Cukor dir. 1954), Judgment at Nuremberg (S. Kramer dir. 1961); her last film, as it happened entitled I Could Go On Singing (R. Neame dir. 1963); her studio albums; her other record-breaking concerts in the United States and overseas.

Pertinent here is The Wizard of Oz (V. Fleming dir. 1939). Frank Baum’s book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) is a fantasy; it imagines its creatures and events to be as real as the reader. The cinema Wizard is a dream sequence – although at the end Dorothy insists it was real. Let us pass over this, however recreant, for the achievement of imagination it disavows.

In its merits it is masterly. It turns on Garland. She is the fulcrum, the linchpin. Her cogency supports the fantasy. In fact she was 16; her believability as a child is the creation of an actress. It is she whom the characters meet, who by receiving them sustains them – even the Wizard. We do not even notice that her supreme song, ”Over the Rainbow” (H. Arlen & Y. Harburg) – which won an Academy Award – as she did; which became her signature – throughout hard times, hard knocks, hard moments of irrejectable applause roaring against residues of woe – is falsified: the dreams do not come true. The song is true. She made it true – by singing it, and creating or co-creating Dorothy, with beauty and truth.

She was three-ninths into her life. She was one-ninth of her life short of age 21. She did many more things and earned much more acclaim. This picture was a great moment: it is next door to us: and it has proved, to the surprise of everyone in it, remarkably universal.

Since Our Gracious Host found this picture, you might like a close look at the letters “Wizard of Oz”. They’re by Hirschfeld.

Now and Then

By John Hertz: (reprinted from No Direction Home 17): A place where I sometimes go to dance has a print of Al Hirschfeld’s 1989 caricature of Sammy Davis, Jr. (1925-1990). Friday the 21st, first day of summer, was Hirschfeld’s birthday (1903-2003).

They had a few things in common. They each had a wide-ranging and possibly unique genius easier to recognize the work of than to define. They were my co-religionists (for a while Davis used to say “Not only am I short, and black, and blind in one eye, and Jewish, and married to a white woman, but I voted for Nixon!”). Their blood type was SHOW BUSINESS. Davis, though he had been performing since he was seven, rose to fame doing impressions, a gift perhaps like Hirschfeld’s caricatures.

Once Davis, in a multiple joke, as a guest on Charlie’s Angels (television 1976-1981; Season 2 Episode 12, 7 Dec 77, “The Kidnap Caper”) played both himself and a Davis impersonator Herbert Brubaker III; Brubaker beat up a candy machine that wouldn’t deliver (L. Bricusse & A. Newley’s 1972 song “The Candy Man” was a Davis hit – though Davis never liked it); Davis’ third wife Altovise, playing herself, said to Davis “Oh, take it easy, babe, it’s not your fault that he looks like you.”

Hirschfeld would have preferred “characterist”

if there were such a word or school. All I know for certain is that the “capturing of a likeness” is of secondary importance to me and serves merely as stimulant or catalyst…. My primary interest is in producing a drawing capable of surviving the obvious fun of recognition or news value. The drawing – or lack of it – is all that matters.

….the subject which turns me on is people…. anywhere in the world, there they are: stimulating, challenging people [p. 11]…. The problem I have created for myself is to translate a specific person or object in legible symbols so that the reader, when confronted with my arrangement of lines, will recognize their meaning as clearly as he would the letter A [p. 13].

Communication in caricature must tell its story in abstract line. The limitation of the medium is an integral part of its message — the purity of line, apart from the likeness, is its own message. Marshall McLuhan’s succinct philosophy “the medium is the message” is an apt description of caricature [p. 14] …. I am much more influenced by the drawings of Harunobu [1774-1770], Utamaro [1753-1806], and Hokusai [1760-1849] than I am by the painters of the West [p. 17]…. Pure stylization without content tends to be arid and lifeless [p. 24].

My work has been mostly confined to the theater [p. 25]…. The aim is to re-create the performed character and not re-interpret its “character” by ridicule or aggressive insult…. A drawing of an actor playing a character is a visual conviction of that character [p. 30].

It seems that everyone knows I … hide my daughter’s name, NINA, in … my drawings – in folds of sleeves, tousled hairdos, eyebrows, wrinkles, backgrounds, shoelaces – anywhere to make it difficult, but not too difficult, to find [p. 31].

Hirschfeld’s World (1981)

Ten thousand of his pictures were used in magazines, newspapers, on billboards, murals, program books, phonograph albums; millions saw them. Luckily there are collections. I recommend

By the 1930s his was the line that roared (D. Leopold ed., The Hirschfeld Century p. 41, 2015); he kept working to the end. He was given the National Medal of Arts in 2002.

He addressed the audiences of the people shown. What about us?

In Art and recollections, p. 291, is a 1991 image of Duke Ellington — made a decade and a half after his death (1899-1974). Some today will have seen him perform live. More can see him now by video recording. You may have seen still photographs. You may have heard him by audio recording with no idea what he looked like. You may never have heard of him. What does the image itself say?

Compare the 1943 image “What’s the Matter with New York?” at p. 44 of Hirschfeld’s New York. Does it have something for you if you don’t recognize Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957), Fiorello La Guardia (1882-1947), Robert Moses (1888-1981), or if, even though the label in the book gives their names, you don’t know who they were?

Compare the image of Betsy Palmer in The Eccentricities of a Nightengale at p. 97 of Hirschfeld by Hirschfeld. This collection doesn’t give the date (1976); doesn’t say Eccentricities is a play by Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), or that he cast Palmer (1926-2015) as Alma Winemiller whom she is portraying; or a lot of other things helpful to know. Is the image worth your while? Why, do you suppose?

May I bring to mind a similarity to what science fiction writers do – and illustrators? With a few lines they suggest a world, inhabitants, situations, events. Hirschfeld did not, and for many reasons s-f cannot, give all the details: only those that tell.

In theater generally, in written and graphic fiction often, things are for aesthetic effect larger than life; when they are not, that itself creates an aesthetic effect. In s-f writers and illustrators are not supported by audience familiarity with unstated details, which must be suggested too.

Great art set in the mainstream of its day somehow reaches across culture – I include time – giving so well the details that tell we can infer the rest. Hirschfeld was and is excellent; now he also, for us, is instructive.

You’ll Expect Me To, and I Do

By John Hertz: Hermann Hesse’s Glass Bead Game is one of the finest s-f novels, indeed one of the finest novels. I rejoice to find it on the Retro-Hugo ballot.

Its architecture, characterization, and what we’ve called world-building, are masterly. In these I include timing, and imagination and handling of its s-f element.

It raises to a peak Sturgeon’s great pun “Science fiction is knowledge fiction” (the Latin root of “science” means knowledge). It deserves fullest attention.

It was one of the S-F Classics we discussed at the 69th World Science Fiction Convention.

Here’s a story from my Westercon LV report, a few years earlier, in File 770 142 [PDF].

Before the con when Glyer [who was head of Programming] put me on The Glass Bead Game I thought to help find panelists. Against “The Popularity of Alternative History” and “The Bar’s My Destination” there were conflicts. Greg Benford, who I hoped might’ve read it in German, was distracted with other affairs. Ellison? Len Wein encouraged me.

I phoned. “Don’t even start with me,” Ellison said. “I’ve been asked to do every kind of panel, and I’ve done every kind of panel, and I don’t want to do any more just now.” What about The Glass Bead Game, I asked. He stopped. “You’re right,” he said. “No one has ever asked me to sit on a panel about The Glass Bead Game.” Until the end of the century it was the only Nobel Prize s-f novel, and it might be Hesse’s greatest.

Alas, Ellison still couldn’t do it. I phoned Wein to report. “You know,” I said, “I got the distinct notion he felt he wasn’t worthy.” Ulrika O’Brien and I had to do without him. Art Widner and Geri Howard came by.

E.B. Frohvet thinks Game isn’t s-f, but although I was half joking when I said the book Lord of the Rings was, treating manufacture of a device and its consequences, about Game I mean it. Poetic even in translation, superb at character study, it handles what-if wonderfully in its future world, and for lagniappe brings a fine unreliable narrator and hints hard questions.

From the audience: is there such a thing as decadent art? I said, maybe but watch out for that narrator.

For an 800-word note by me, go to the sidebar, below “meta”.

About the Big Heart Award

By John Hertz:  Thanks to Colleen McMahon for taking note, in a recent post, of E. Everett Evans “Triple-E” and the Big Heart Award.

Triple- E was great.

The Big Heart is the highest service award in the SF community, as the Hugos are the highest achievement award.

It is given annually, at the World Science Fiction Convention, for good work and great spirit long contributed.  McMahon quoted that phrase from Fancyclopedia III, which correctly says it is “the words of one recent recipient”.  That recipient is myself.

The Big Heart should not be thought a fan award (a point on which Fancy 3 is mistaken).

The Science Fiction Awards Database, maintained by Mark Kelly and the Locus magazine Science Fiction Foundation, correctly says

The Big Heart Award, highest service award in the SF community … one of few presented during the preliminaries of the annual Hugo Awards ceremony…. may go to a fan or a pro – as has been noted, some people are both.

Recognition for something else is not a disqualification for the Big Heart.  For example, two of the recipients McMahon named, Robert Silverberg and Our Gracious Host, have won Hugos.  Mike Glyer has chaired a Worldcon, and at another was Fan Guest of Honour (so spelled, it was in Canada). They were given the Big Heart neither because of, nor in spite of, their recognition for other things.

It shouldn’t be surprising that many who have earned the Big Heart have been fans.  The heart of fandom is participation.

Surely You’re Joking

By John Hertz: (reprinted in part from No Direction Home 15)  May 11, 2018, was the hundredth birthday of the great physicist and wise-guy Richard Feynman. The California Institute of Technology, home of his professional life since 1952, mounted an exhibit “The Mind’s Eye” in the Beckman Museum, running through June 14, 2019.

The title was well chosen.  “Visualization in some form or other,” he’d said, “is a vital part of my thinking”; it was on one of the walls.  He had, I said to an exhibit host, a gift for looking from the abstract to the concrete: hence Feynman diagrams; plunging a piece of O-ring material into ice water at a hearing on the Challenger disaster; winning a Nobel Prize and teaching undergraduates.

What a challenge to build a museum exhibit about a master of theoretical physics.  Fortunately it was about Feynman.

There were lots of photographs, including him in a swimsuit on a beach juggling, and in a frilled Havana shirt playing bongos for a 1977 Cal Tech production of Guys and Dolls. He’d managed getting back and forth to drum in a Cal Tech Kismet during the 1986 Challenger hearings.  There were several of his drums.

There was his 1940 notebook “Things I Don’t Know About”.  There was a 1963 curved-space lecture handout.  Figure 55-2 was a bug on a sphere.  “He is also a bug like the others … this time … the temperature is different at different places…. the bug and any rulers he uses are all made of the same material which expands when it is heated.”

Goggles and earphones put me four rows above the floor at one of his lectures.  He told of going around getting into things on the Manhattan Project.

Security had been fierce.  He’d opened weakly-locked file cabinets and reported.  On a scientist’s safe he tried the digits of pi; no go; then e: open.  Edward Teller said “I lock things in my desk; isn’t that better?”  Feynman sneaked away and extracted papers.  Teller said “I’ll show you my desk.” They went to his office.  Teller unlocked the desk.  Bottom drawer empty.  Teller said “Evidently the security of the desk isn’t so good — as you may already have found for yourself.”  Feynman recounting this said “Pulling a stunt on a brilliant man gives no satisfaction.  He sees things too fast.”

Outside in Glanville Courtyard a fountain played over a five-foot dark green granite snub cube. A plaque explained that a snub cube was chosen because its 24 vertices are reminiscent of the iron-storage protein ferritin, which has 24 identical protein subunits; both have 4-3-2 symmetry: fourfold axes, three-fold axes, twofold axes.

Ferritin (the plaque didn’t say this), found in plants and animals, pertains to biology, organic chemistry, and inorganic chemistry, like the Beckman Institute.

Besides, snub cubes are way cool.  Linus Pauling liked them.

A mile and a half away was the Pasadena shop of Denong Tea Co., which opened in 2017.  Denong (Chinese; “virtuous farmer”) specializes in pu-erh tea, grown in Yunnan (left to my own devices I’d spell these Têh-nung and p‘u-êrh).

Ms. Betty Hu brewed me one young raw pu-erh, Sweet Clarity from 2016, and one ripe pu-erh, Millennium Distant Mountains of unknown harvest, brewing the raw pu-erh in a porcelain pot and serving it in glass, the ripe in a clay pot and serving in porcelain.  The shop uses Crystal Geyser water.

While I was drinking Sweet Clarity, a regular customer arrived who liked another young raw pu-erh, Mountain Oasis from 2017; we exchanged cups, and afterward I asked Ms. Hu to pour her some of my Millennium Distant Mountains; we conversed.

Raw pu-erh can be aged a decade or more; young, the tea liquor (I use this term advisedly; its colloquial meaning “distilled alcoholic spirits” is not the whole truth) is bright yellow-green; flavor, crisp.  Ripe pu-erh, a relatively recent development, has been carefully treated to accelerate aging; its liquor is deep maroon, like Madeira wine; flavor, earthy.

Speaking of pots, how are you, Mr. Wilson?