Bob Madle Turns 100 Today

Robert A. Madle at home (May 2020). Photograph by Jane Madle. Courtesy of John Knott.

Happy one hundredth birthday, Bob Madle! We’re celebrating the date with the help of Rich Lynch, John L. Coker III, and Jon D. Swartz, plus highlights of interviews conducted over the years with the birthday boy himself!

Bob Madle: A Fan for the Ages

[This essay was originally printed in the Boskone 33 Program Book in February 1996.  Photos were added when it was reprinted in My Back Pages 6 in 2011.]

Rich Lynch and Bob Madle in 2008.

By Rich Lynch: Recently, I read somewhere that an average American’s life span is now over 72 years, up something like 100 percent over what the average life expectancy was for people who lived way back in the Middle Ages.  Mankind doesn’t have the longest life span in the animal kingdom, of course; great land tortoises are reported to live well over 100 years, for example.  Even longer lived, one of the bristlecone pine trees out in the Sierras was calculated to have lived for about 2,000 years, but even this pales in comparison to the ancient creosote bushes of the Mojave Desert, some of which are reportedly over 20,000 years old!

And then there’s Bob Madle…

Bob Madle and Mel Korshak (Chicon I, 1940). Collection of Robert A. Madle.

Now, wait just a minute!  Before you think I’m having a little cheap fun at your Special Guest’s expense, I’ll hasten to tell you that no insult is intended.  In fact, I meant it as a compliment!  You see, Bob Madle is a member of that fabled Dinosaurs of Fandom organization, First Fandom, which he helped found back in the 1950s.  To be a member of First Fandom, you had to be active as a fan no later than January 1, 1938, by taking part in such activities as writing letters, publishing a fanzine, or attending a fan gathering.  Actually, Bob’s involvement in fandom dates back even further than that; he discovered that there was a fandom way back in 1933 when he found that letters from other fans were being published by Hugo Gernsback in Amazing Stories (Bob’s first published letter to Amazing appeared in the August 1935 issue).  Once he discovered there were other fans, he was part of the vanguard to organize them: in 1935, Bob was one of the founders of the world’s second oldest continuing science fiction organization, the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society.  And in 1936, Bob was one of the attendees of the very first science fiction convention ever held, when PSFS hosted a contingent of fans from New York City.

Now that alone is a pretty impressive resume, but it doesn’t nearly end there.  The first World Science Fiction Convention was held in New York City, in July of 1939.  Bob was there.  He was also at the second, in Chicago in 1940, and the third, in Denver in 1941.  He even attended the very first Boskone, in 1941.  After World War Two finished interrupting just about everyone’s fan activities, Bob became involved with the running of Worldcons, as part of the committees for the Philadelphia Worldcons in 1947 and 1953.  And there’s more: he was one of the decision-makers of that 1953 Worldcon committee that came up with the idea for the Hugo Awards, which were presented for the very first time at that convention.

But there’s still more!  I can’t end this appreciation without mentioning that Bob did much to organize fan groups in other places besides Philadelphia.  In the early 1950s, for instance, he was a founder of a fan club in Charlotte, North Carolina, which led to some of the first science fiction conventions ever held in the southeastern United States.  Much of today’s very active fandom in that region can be traced back to these origins.  And in 1957, Bob was elected North American delegate for the still-new Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund, which had been conceived just a few years earlier.  TAFF brought Bob to the very first non-North American worldcon, which was in London that year.  (This resulted in one of the best fan trip reports ever written, which he titled for obscure reasons, A Fake Fan in London.  But that’s another story…)

Anyway, it’s only because Bob has spent much of the past few decades as a dealer of rare and hard-to-find science fiction books and magazines that his fan activity has finally slowed by just a bit.  Not by so much that I can keep up with him, though!  Even now, sixty years after that first science fiction convention, he still gets to more conventions each year than most other fans, myself included.  So when you talk with him, ask him about some of these adventures.  You’ll find he’s easy to chat with, and who knows?  You might even find yourself buying a book from him that tells all about some of those yesteryear exploits of fandoms past.

I began this introduction of your Special Guest with a metaphor; I’ll finish it with another.  Even though the dawn of science fiction fandom happened way back in the 1930s, we should remember that fandom is really still quite young; the fact that many of its founders are still active is something we can treasure.  Bob Madle is such a treasure; he’s living history – a fan for the ages.

Bob Madle in 1938

Robert A. Madle – In the First Person

(Excerpted from conversations with John L. Coker III during 1994 and 2006-2008)

My name is Robert Albert Madle and I was born June 2, 1920, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I grew up in the City of Brotherly Love and attended Northeast High School.  I started reading when I was very young, and by the age of nine I had a big collection of boy’s books.  I discovered science fiction in Tom Swift, then began reading Edgar Rice Burroughs.  I was a great Buck Rogers fan.  I was ten years old when Just Imagine came out.  I thought that that was the greatest movie ever made.

In 1931 John V. Baltadonis and I discovered two issues of Wonder Stories in a junk shop.  A few months later, my father gave me two dollars to buy a new pair of Boy Scout trousers.  So, to downtown Philadelphia I went.  I never did get the trousers, as an incident of vast importance intervened.  I happened to see a large window crammed full of Wonder Stories, Astounding Stories and Amazing Stories.  I entered to find many more issues–and they were six for twenty-five cents!  I bought two dollars of the treasures to start my S-F collection.  Several weeks later, my father discovered what had occurred.  I don’t recall exactly what happened but I’m sure it wasn’t pretty.

In 1934, I formed the Boys’ Science Fiction Club with Harvey Greenblatt, John V. Baltadonis and Jack Agnew.  My very first letter appeared in the July 1935 Pirate Stories.  I was a Gernsback fan, and anything he published I picked up.  I read his editorial in the first issue.  He said that they would publish pirate stories of the past, the present, and yes, even of the future.  So, I wrote a letter saying that they ought to publish a novel about a space pirate and they should get Edmond Hamilton to write it.  They printed the letter and I won a year’s subscription to Wonder Stories.  I was fourteen years old and I thought that this was one of the greatest things that ever happened.

Morris Scott Dollens, Walter J. Daugherty, Robert A. Madle. Collection of John L. Coker III.

Gernsback announced the formation of the Science Fiction League in the April 1934 issue of Wonder Stories.  In the May 1934 issue, he went into more detail about how science fiction was a literature that was a force that would change the world forever.  It would be a wonderful world of tomorrow where science rules everything.  It was the Gernsback Ideal.  I was thirteen years old at the time, and I thought “Wow!  I could be a part of this.”

In October 1936, the New York group – Donald A. Wollheim, William S. Sykora, John B. Michel, Fred Pohl, Herbert E. Goudket, and David A. Kyle – made a train trip down to Philadelphia.   They were met downtown by Milton A. Rothman, Oswald V. Train and me.  We showed them around the city.  Later that day, John Baltadonis and several others joined us at Milt Rothman’s house.  Then we actually had a meeting.  As Sam Moskowitz said in The Immortal Storm, if we hadn’t had that little meeting, we could not have called it the first convention.  The first science fiction convention would have been the one in Leeds, England, in early 1937. 

At the first World Con – New York, 1939 – everybody was being let in, including the Futurians, although the promoters were very wary of them.  Someone did discover a bunch of propaganda that the Futurians had stuck in between the steps with the intention to distribute later.  At that point, Moskowitz kept them from entering – Wollheim, Lowndes, Michel, Gillespie, Kornbluth and Pohl.  This has gone down in fandom history as “The Exclusion Act.”  Later, a number of us went over to Coney Island, and had a photograph made where we’re all sitting in an old car.  It would be two months before England and France would declare war on Germany, but we knew it was on its way.  When Japan attacked us, most fans went into the military.

Coney Island, New York – July 4 1939. (Rear, L-R) V. Kidwell, Robert A. Madle, Erle M. Korshak, Ray Bradbury. (Front, L-R) Mark Reinsberg, Jack Agnew, Ross Rocklynne.

I enlisted in the Army in July 1942, but wasn’t much of a fighting man.  For some reason, probably because I had a driver’s license, I wound up as a truck driver, even though I had never driven a truck in my life.  I had gone in under a new program, because of my bad eyesight.  They had just started what they called “limited service,” non-combatant duty.  

Next thing you know I’m heading for overseas duty.  I was called in to see the captain, who said that I wasn’t supposed to be in that outfit.  The orderly room said that there was an opening in the signal office for a teletype operator.  That is how I met my wife Billie, a switchboard operator at the time. 

There was a period when I was assistant to the public relations officer.  He was looking for somebody who could write and had something that had been published. The job had to do with writing news articles for the Charlotte newspapers.  Because of all the writing that I had done, I received a promotion.  I spent three and a half years in the service.

Oswald V. Train and Robert A. Madle, PSFS ca. 1953.

I got married during the war and already had a three-year-old son when I started college.  After I graduated, I worked and went on for my MBA at night.  I got a job in Charlotte, North Carolina, and after that I worked for the government in Washington, D. C.  I went to work for the Navy Department doing personnel research.  We helped determine requirements for future weapons systems and worked with the contractors.  Later, I had the background and school credits to become an engineering research psychologist and was involved with the interfaces between man and machine.

Robert A. Madle, Ben Jason, Honey Wood (1955, Cleveland). From the Collection of John L. Coker, III

One day in October 1958 I received a call from Don Ford, saying that Doc Barrett was having a small group over at his place in Bellefontaine, Ohio and I was invited.  When I arrived, the group was already there.  They consisted of Doc Barrett, Don Ford, Lou Tabakow, Ben Kiefer – four old-timers – and a youngster named Stan Skirvin.  We all sat around and drank beer and talked of the tumultuous events of the day. 

It was kind of an opportune coincidence how First Fandom came up.  Someone once claimed that he saw something written on a toilet wall, which said, “First Fandom is not dead!”  Recalling this, I said, “What science fiction needs is a new organization, one in which the old-time fans are paramount, instead of those young upstarts who wouldn’t know a 1933 Amazing Stories if he tripped on it.” 

Don was immediately for it, and said, “Great!  We can give recognition awards to the great authors of the past such as E.E. Smith, because none of them will ever get a Hugo.”  Everyone was enthusiastic about the idea, and great plans were conceived right then and there.  Don said, “To be a member, one would have to be active in some phase of science fiction prior to January 1938.”  A magazine would be published.  Don thought it should be a formal organization.  But serious things would be accomplished also, mainly, keeping the history of SF in front of the fans of SF today.  Membership credentials would be required and acceptance would be tough.  It would be a Last Man Club, with the last First Fandom member alive in a certain year knocking off a privately held fifth of liquor. 

Don suggested that I be president, as it was my idea.  Lou and he would share the secretary and treasurer’s duties.  Lynn Hickman was contacted and he became the official editor.  Announcements were sent out, and the first person to join – Member Number One – was Robert Bloch.  I never called an official meeting, and I remained president for over twenty-five years.

When I was young, the sense of wonder meant “Gosh!  Wow!  Boy oh boy!  Stories of how great the future’s going to be!  How science fiction is going to be the most powerful force that would change the world.”  The magazines had personality – fans wrote letters and editors commented on them.  In fact, I received several letters from the editor of Astounding, F. Orlin Tremaine, in response to my letters.  One issue claimed that he got the best stories from the best authors, but I told him that he got the worst stories from the best authors.  He wasn’t too happy with that comment.  The magazines had an aura about them.  To me, that was the sense of wonder.”

L-R Jack Agnew, Robert A. Madle, John Newton, Oswald V. Train, John V. Baltadonis. PSFS meeting – Nov 17, 1984. Courtesy of David Ritter.

MORE HONORS, AWARDS, AND PUBLICATIONS. Notes by John L. Coker III & Jon D. Swartz

Madle, Forrest J Ackerman and Sam Moskowitz at the 1957 Worldcon.

Bob Madle was the TAFF winner in 1957, and published his famous A Fake Fan in London as his trip report.  Also at the 1957 Convention Bob became a member of St. Fantony.

Bob’s other fan publications include Fantascience Digest, Fantasy-Fiction Telegram, Fanzine Review, and PSFS News.  For the prozines he wrote a column, “Inside Science Fiction.”  Bob was also distributor of the British prozine Nebula.

Bob’s Guest of Honor appearances, awards, and other honors over the years include: 1974, Big Heart Award; 1977, FGoH, Suncon; 1982, GoH at Lunacon; 1990, elected to the First Fandom Hall of Fame; 1996, Special Guest, Boskone 33; 2002, Sam Moskowitz Archive Award; 2012, GoH at Philcon. 

Bob is also credited with naming the Hugo Award, and was Treasurer of Philcon II.  In 2014, Madle was nominated for a Retro Hugo Award for Fantascience Digest.

For many years Bob has been a highly respected book dealer, specializing in rare science fiction and fantasy books and magazines.

Robert A. Madle and Jay Kay Klein

Pixel Scroll 5/28/20 When There Is No Pixel Tossed, Nor Wind To Scroll.

(1) PETAL PUSHERS. The latest story in ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “Fourth and Most Important,” a story about coded messages, clandestine drone deliveries, and surprising alliances by Nisi Shawl.

The fourth of the Five Petals of the New Bedford Rose, Integration, is called by some its most important. Primacy of place goes to the first petal, Thought, of course—but linear primacy is deemed by practitioners of the Five Petals to be overrated.

—From “A Thousand Flowers of Thought: Schisms within the New Bedford Rose”

On Monday, June 1 at 4 p.m. Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Nisi Shawl in conversation with Ayana Jamieson, founder of the Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network.  

(2) FIRST FIFTH. Happy blogoversary Camestros! “Happy Five Years Today”. How could we have gotten through those puppy days without you?

…The very last post of May was the other thing I needed a blog to explain: how to vote in an era of trolls https://camestrosfelapton.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/hugo-voting-strategy-high-bar-no-award/ What I was anticipating was more spoilery/trolling tactics in the future. The idea was that we might end up with slates every year and on the slates there would be some stuff that actually was good put there to mess with our heads — what we would later call ‘hostages’.

(3) WHAT’S ON THE MENU? Scott Edelman invites listeners to join New York Times best-selling novelist Justina Ireland in Episode 122 of his Eating the Fantastic podcast.

Justina Ireland

Once upon a time, I had a wonderful Persian lunch with Justina Ireland at Orchard Market & Cafe outside of Baltimore. The food was delicious, and the conversation on which you were meant to eavesdrop was delightful. Unfortunately, after that, things did not go as planned.

If you want to know what I mean by that, check out our chat on the latest episode of Eating the Fantastic.

Justina Ireland is the author of the New York Times best-selling novel Dread Nation, as well as the recently published sequel Dark Divide. She’s a World Fantasy Award-winner for her former role as the co-editor in chief of FIYAH Literary Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. She also written Star Wars: Flight of the Falcon: Lando’s Luck, several novels in the middle grade fantasy series Devils’ Pass, including Evie Allen vs. the Quiz Bowl Zombies and Zach Lopez vs. the Unicorns of Doom, and many more. Vulture has called her “the most controversial figure in young-adult literature.”

We discussed whether having written zombie novels has helped her deal with the pandemic, her biggest pet peeve when she hears other writers talk about writing, where she falls in the fast vs. slow zombies debate (and how she’s managed to have the best of both worlds), our very different reasons for not having read Harry Potter, the way she avoided sequelitis in Dark Divide, what it was like playing in the Star Wars sandbox, why it’s easier to lie when writing from a first person point of view, the franchise character she most wishes she could write a novel about, the main difference between science fiction and YA communities, how Law & Order gives comfort during these trying times, and much more.

(4) WHAT THE WELL-DRESSED BIRD WILL BE READING. The Bookseller applauds as “Penguin Classics boldly goes into science fiction”.

Penguin Classics is to launch a new series of science fiction—with livery designed by Penguin art director Jim Stoddart—which will aim “to challenge stereotypes about the genre and celebrate science fiction as the essential genre of modern times”. 

Penguin Classics Science Fiction will kick off with 10 titles in August, with a further 10 to follow in November. The launch list will include two books by giants of world SF who have not often been published in English: Andreas Eschbach’s The Hair Carpet Weavers (translated by Doryl Jensen) and Angélica Gorodischer’s Trafalgar (Amelia Gladhart). German superstar Eschbach has only had three of his more than 40 novels translated into English; The Hair Carpet Weavers is his 1995 space opera debut. The 91-year-old Argentine Gorodischer is arguably Latin America’s best-known SF writer and Trafalgar follows the titular roguish intergalatic trader through a series of adventures. 

… Other titles on the August launch are Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, Edwin Abbott’s Flatland and Ten Thousand Light-years from Home by James Tiptree Jr, the pseudonym of pioneering American feminist SF writer Alice Bradley Sheldon.

(5) WHERE ELSE CAN SHE SEARCH? [Item by Cmm.]  I recently read the story “A Witch in Time” by Herb Williams for a Librivox short SF collection. It appears to be his only publication, from If magazine, February 1955. He’s new to our catalog so I’ve been trying to find any birth or death date. He is not in Wikipedia or the Science Fiction encyclopedia, and I’m not sure his Goodreads listing is accurate — I think he may be lumped under another Herb Williams there. HIs name is too common to have much luck with searching obituaries or Find A Grave, which is another of my go-tos when I’m trying to track down info on an obscure author.

I’m wondering if the name might ring a bell with you or some of the elders in the fan community as one of those authors who was mainly known as a fan but who published professionally once or twice? Anything that might give me a thread to pull, like a guy with that name who was in Chicago or something, would help.

Also if you or any of the other fandom and older-SF knowledgeable folks know of additional resources that I could try to see if I could figure out anymore would be really helpful, like maybe where If magazine’s archives are collected (if there is such a thing) or a person to reach out to who has done bibliographies or has a great memory for 50s SF authors or something?

The other possibility is if “Herb Williams” was a pseudonym used one time — sometimes taht seems to have happened in the 30s-50s era magazines when an author had two stories in the same issue. I tried searching on just the story title to see if it connects to any other author but no luck there.

(6) WOTW IS ON THE AIR. The LA Times’ Justin Chang calls “‘The Vast of Night’ is an ingenious, beautifully crafted ode to 1950s sci-fi paranoia”.

The first thing you see in “The Vast of Night,” Andrew Patterson’s ingenious and surprising debut feature, is an old 1950s-style TV set broadcasting a show called “Paradox Theater.” It’s clearly modeled on classic anthology series like “The Twilight Zone,” complete with portentous Rod Serling-esque narration that ushers us into “a realm between clandestine and forgotten,” then goes on to rattle off nearly half a dozen charmingly overwrought synonyms, including “a frequency caught between logic and myth.”

Forced to supply my own description, I’d say that “The Vast of Night” exists somewhere at the intersection of radio, television and cinema, and that it excavates some of our fondest old-timey memories of all three in order to build something playfully, strikingly new…. 

…There are lengthy passages in “The Vast of Night” when you could close your eyes with little loss of dramatic impact. And Patterson, perhaps eager to test the limits of his experiment, sometimes cuts to a black screen mid-dialogue, an audacious touch that allows the dialogue to carry the story. Elsewhere, however, the director gives you a lot to look at. Adam Dietrich’s production design is a marvel of vintage automobiles and analog recording equipment. The gifted cinematographer Miguel I. Littin-Menz pulls off a handful of arresting transitional moments, his camera showily traversing the New Mexico nightscape in sinuous extended tracking shots.

(7) DIAGNOSIS GENRE. Rob Latham surveys a specialized field in “Zones of Possibility: Science Fiction and the Coronavirus” in LA Review of Books.

…   In any case, no form of literature has more boldly confronted the possibility of global crisis and catastrophe than SF has, from its outset in the 19th century. Mary Shelley’s 1826 novel The Last Man is the quintessential tale of a worldwide pandemic — an outbreak of plague that gradually kills off the entire population, leaving at the end a single, lonely survivor. A recent essay on the novel in TLS shows how its conception emerged, in part, from a massive cholera outbreak that was exacerbated by incompetent public health measures, leading Shelley to conclude that “humanity is the author of its own disasters, even those that seem purely natural or beyond our control.” With its geographic sweep, attention to the interplay of science and politics, and vivid rendering of deserted cities and depopulated landscapes, The Last Man established a template that has been followed by most subsequent narratives of apocalyptic pandemics, in and outside the SF genre, from Stephen King’s The Stand (1978) to Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake (2003) to Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014).

(8) NOVIK NEWS. Deadline reports another popular sff author’s work may get adapted into a motion picture: “Universal & Mandeville Films Partner On Naomi Novik’s ‘Scholomance’ Series”.

Universal has won the film rights for Naomi Novik’s YA novel Scholomance Random House series, putting the first novel A Deadly Education into development with Mandeville Films’ Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman.

The first book takes us into a dangerous school for the magically gifted where failure means certain death. There are no teachers, no holidays, friendships are purely strategic, and the odds of survival are never equal. Once you’re inside, there are only two ways out: you graduate or you die. 

(9) SAVED FROM KRYPTON’S CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. We Got This Covered says there’s yet another bonus in the director’s cut: “Justice League Snyder Cut Will Reportedly Feature Supergirl”.

Given that he recently claimed up to 75% of the movie will be footage that we’ve never seen before, Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League already looks to have enough plot threads to resolve without the possibility of introducing any more. However, the filmmaker’s time at the helm of the DCEU wasn’t exactly characterized by light and breezy narratives, with Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in particular packed with enough content to fill three movies, and now that he’s finally got the chance to realize his original vision, he may as well go for broke.

In a recent watch party for Man of Steel, Snyder confirmed that a glimpse of an open pod on the Kryptonian ship was a deliberate nod towards his plans to expand the mythology and eventually introduce Supergirl into the shared universe, even though he’d already denied the very same thing two years previously….

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born May 28, 1847 – Bithia Croker.  Irish horsewoman who hunted with the Kildare; married, moved to British India, wrote for a distraction during the hot season.  Forty-two novels (17 set in India, 1 Burma, 7 Ireland), translated into French, German, Hungarian, Norwegian; we can claim Beyond the Pale and her seven collections of shorter stories. (Died 1920.)  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1908 – Ian Fleming.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is about a flying car.  Of IF’s James Bond books, Moonraker is SF, as we discussed at Boskone L, with Peter Weston testifying where the British rocket program was at the time; at the end of the story, Bond and the girl (as she would have been called in 1955) – oh, I won’t spoil it.  (Died 1964) [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1919 — Don Day. A fan active in the 1940s and ’50s In Portland, Oregon, and a member of the local club.  He was editor of The Fanscient (and of its parody, Fan-Scent), and perhaps the greatest of the early bibliographers of sf. He published bibliographies in The Fanscient and also published the Day Index, the Index to the Science Fiction Magazines 1926-1950.   He ran Perri Press, a small press which produced The Fanscient and the Index of Science Fiction Magazines 1926-1950.  He chaired NorWesCon, the 1950 Worldcon, after the resignation of Jack de Courcy. (Died 1979.) (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1923 Natalie Norwick. She had a number of genre roles in the Sixties including being Martha Leighton in “The Conscience of the King”, a Trek episode, and appearing as Josette duPres Collins on Dark Shadows. (Died 2007.) (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1929 Shane Rimmer. A Canadian actor and voice actor,  best remembered for being the voice of Scott Tracy in puppet based Thunderbirds during the Sixties. Less known was that he was in Dr. Strangelove as Captain “Ace” Owens, and Diamonds Are Forever and Live and Let Die in uncredited roles. He even shows up in Star Wars as a Rebel Fighter Technician, again uncredited. (Died 2019.) (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1930 – Frank Drake, 90.  Astronomer and astrophysicist.  National Academy of Sciences, American Acad. of Arts & Sciences.  Co-designed the Pioneer Plaques; supervised the Voyager Golden Records; thus our next-door neighbor.  Lapidarist.  Raises orchids.  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1936 Fred Chappell, 84. Dagon, his first novel, retells a Cthulhu Mythos story as a realistic Southern Gothic tale. His Falco the Shadow Master’s Apprentice series has a handful of excellent stories, uncollected so far as I can tell, plus a novel, A Shadow All of Light, which is available from the usual digital suspects. (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1954 – Kees van Toorn.  Dutch fan, translator, publisher.  Chaired 48th Worldcon, at the Hague.  Served on con committees in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, the U.S., Canada. Two European SF Awards.  This Website https://confiction1990.com is about his Worldcon and a planned reunion.  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1954 – Betsy Mitchell.  Long fruitful career at Baen, Bantam, Warner, Del Rey, editing 150 titles, several becoming N.Y. Times Best Sellers; now, Betsy Mitchell Editorial Services.  Guest of Honor at Archon XIV, 4th Street Fantasy Con (1992), Armadillocon XXII, Bosone XLI, Ad Astra XXV, Loscon XL.  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1977 – Ursula Vernon.  Oor Wombat has published two dozen novels, as many shorter stories, and as many covers too, sometimes as T. Kingfisher.  Two Hugos, a Nebula, two Mythopoeic and two WSFA (Washington, D.C, SF Ass’n) Small Press awards.  Here’s her Amazon author page.  [JH]
  • Born May 28, 1984 Max Gladstone, 36. His debut novel, Three Parts Dead, is part of the Craft Sequence series, and his shared Bookburners serial is most excellent. This Is How You Lose the Time War (co-written with Amal El-Mohtar) is a finalist for the Hugo Award for Best Novella this year. (CE)
  • Born May 28, 1985 Carey Mulligan, 35. She’s here because she shows up in a very scary Tenth Doctor story, “Blink”, in which she plays Sally Sparrow. Genre adjacent, she was in Agatha Christie’s Marple: The Sittaford Mystery as Violet Willett. (Christie gets a shout-out in another Tenth Doctor story, “The Unicorn and the Wasp”. (CE)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) UH, FELLOWSHIP, THAT’S THE WORD. End the month on a high note – Josh Gad’s Reunited Apart brings together the cast of Lord of the Rings on Sunday, May 31 at 9 a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET. Here’s a teaser with Sean Astin.

SYFY Wire reports Josh Gad has already delivered a mermaid reunion: “Splash Stars Tom Hanks & Daryl Hannah Dive Into Charity Reunion (And Talk Tail Tales)”

After posting a teaser video in which he demanded Ron Howard — who directed the classic fantasy rom-com back in 1984 — deliver Tom Hanks to viewers, both Gad and Howard made good on their tease Tuesday when they convened for a chat that included Hanks himself, as well as costars Daryl Hannah and Eugene Levy, co-writers Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, and producer Brian Grazer. The chat doubled as a fundraiser for DIGDEEP, a nonprofit working to provide water and sanitation access to more than two million Americans who still don’t have those utilities.

(13) THE FIRST HUNDRED YEARS. Bob Madle’s about to celebrate his 100th birthday on June 2. First Fandom Experience turned back the pages to acquaint readers with “Robert A. Madle In 1930s Fandom”. Lots of scans of photos and fanzine items.

… In a 2006 conversation with John L. Coker III, Madle recalled:

“My very first letter appeared in the July 1935 Pirate Stories.  I was a Gernsback fan, and anything he published I picked up.  I read his editorial in the first issue.  He said that they will publish pirate stories of the past, the present, and yes, even of the future.  So, I wrote a letter saying that they ought to publish a novel about a space pirate and they should get Edmond Hamilton to write it.  They printed the letter and I won a year’s subscription to Wonder Stories.  I was fourteen years old and I thought that this was one of the greatest things that ever happened.”

(14) BOK TALK. “Rediscovered: A Letter from Hannes Bok” at Don Herron’s website. The scan of a typewritten letter from 1943.

[Noted] book and pulp (and autograph, and letter, and miscellania) collector Kevin Cook thought some of you might like to peruse a letter the legendary fantasy artist Hannes Bok… 

(15) THEY STAB IT WITH THEIR STEELY KNIVES. James Davis Nicoll “Five SF Stories That Mix Swords and Starships” at Tor.com.

Inspired by an engaging time-filler meme on social media , my thoughts returned to that venerable roleplaying game Travellerprofiled on Tor.com earlier this year. Anyone who has played Traveller (or even just played with online character generation sites like this one) might have noticed that a surprising number of the characters one can generate are skilled with blades. This may see as an odd choice for a game like Traveller that is set in the 57th century CE, or indeed for any game in which swords and starships co-exist. Why do game authors make these choices?

(16) SOMETHING TO DO. “Ministry of Silly Walks comes to Sonning during lockdown”, a BBC video.

The residents of a Berkshire village have been filmed re-enacting one of British comedy’s most famous sketches.

Monty Python fan James Ruffell put up signs outside his house in Sonning informing people they were entering the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Silly Walks.

He filmed the results with a motion-controlled webcam and uploaded the subsequent silliness to Facebook.

(17) WEIRD, NOT SILLY. LA’s NBC affiliate recommends you “Walk Haunted Pasadena (While Staying at Home)”.

So you’ve popped by Old Pasadena in the past, to pick up dinner or to find the perfect scarf for your mom or to search for something rosy for that one cousin who is obsessed with what happens along Colorado Boulevard on New Year’s Day each and every year.

But while strolling through the century-old alleys, on the way to the restaurant or shop, you suddenly feel a chill, a skin prickle, a sense that something vaporous or strange is nearby.

Is it a ghost? Or the knowledge that the historic city is a favorite among phantom fans?

Venture deeper into the strange and chilling tales of the Crown City on Friday evening, May 29.

That’s when Pasadena Walking Tours will lead its “Haunted Pasadena” tour, an at-home adventure that you can enjoy from your couch.

So, for sure: Stay in your slippers for this one and leave the sneakers by the front door.

(18) LOST AND FOUND. “Half the matter in the universe was missing – we found it hiding in the cosmos” reports Yahoo! There were several steps in finding the solution. One of them was —

…In 2007, an entirely unanticipated opportunity appeared. Duncan Lorimer, an astronomer at the University of West Virginia, reported the serendipitous discovery of a cosmological phenomenon known as a fast radio burst (FRB). FRBs are extremely brief, highly energetic pulses of radio emissions. Cosmologists and astronomers still don’t know what creates them, but they seem to come from galaxies far, far away.

As these bursts of radiation traverse the universe and pass through gasses and the theorized WHIM, they undergo something called dispersion.

The initial mysterious cause of these FRBs lasts for less a thousandth of a second and all the wavelengths start out in a tight clump. If someone was lucky enough – or unlucky enough – to be near the spot where an FRB was produced, all the wavelengths would hit them simultaneously.

But when radio waves pass through matter, they are briefly slowed down. The longer the wavelength, the more a radio wave “feels” the matter. Think of it like wind resistance. A bigger car feels more wind resistance than a smaller car.

The “wind resistance” effect on radio waves is incredibly small, but space is big. By the time an FRB has traveled millions or billions of light-years to reach Earth, dispersion has slowed the longer wavelengths so much that they arrive nearly a second later than the shorter wavelengths.

Therein lay the potential of FRBs to weigh the universe’s baryons, an opportunity we recognized on the spot. By measuring the spread of different wavelengths within one FRB, we could calculate exactly how much matter – how many baryons – the radio waves passed through on their way to Earth…

(19) GETTIING THE POINT. Charles Veley and Anna Elliott, in “Sherlock Holmes And The Womanly Art Of Self-Defense” on CrimeReads, discuss their series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches with Holmes and his daughter, Lucy James, and what sort of self-defense skills Victorian women had.

…A woman’s chief weapon, as the female self-defense movement began to gain traction, was the hat pin. These long (up to 6 inches), frequently jeweled pins were used to secure the elaborate hats of the day to a woman’s hair, but they could also be wielded with dangerous purpose in the event that a woman was attacked or threatened by a “masher.” In 1912, a hatpin was even used to foil an attempted robbery. Elizabeth Foley, an 18-year-old bank employee, was walking home with a male colleague who carried the entire payroll for the bank staff. They were attacked by a robber who knocked the male colleague down. But Elizabeth, undaunted, reached for her hatpin and jabbed at the robber’s face. The attacker ran away.

(20) NOT DESPICABLE THIS TIME. Gru and the Minions have made a PSA.

The World Health Organization, the United Nations Foundation and Illumination have partnered to release a public service announcement featuring the famous Minions characters and Gru, voiced by actor Steve Carrell, to show how people can stay safe from COVID-19

[Thanks to JJ, Mike Kennedy, Jon Ault, Martin Morse Wooster, John King TArpinian, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

Lester H. Cole, Past Worldcon
Co-Chair, Has Died

Les Cole at home in his library.

By John L. Coker III: Lester Hines Cole (1926–2019), the long-time beloved husband of Esther Cole, was a Bay Area SF fan who co-chaired SFCon, the 1954 Worldcon held in San Francisco that had John W. Campbell, Jr. as its guest of honor.  SFCon activities included a chamber opera based on a Ray Bradbury short story (narrated by Anthony Boucher), and the restoration of the tradition of a masquerade ball.  Les was married to Esther Cole, who joined him in many of his fannish activities.

Cole, who died in late September, was a member of the Elves, Gnomes and Little Men’s Science Fiction and Chowder Society (at one time serving as its president).  The Society was founded in 1948; meetings and other club activities were always centered in and around Berkeley, CA.  In the early days, the club published thepopular fanzine Rhodomagnetic Digest.

Cole published the fanzine Orgasm (aka The Big O) in 1951, along with his wife and Clarence Jacobs.  Les had about fifty genre short stories, articles, and letters published, most of which appeared in Amazing, Astounding, F&SF, Venture, and Startling.  He also wrote several genre novels, including an alternate history in 2012, Spithead, in which the two World Wars never happened.  He sometimes used the pen names of Roy Carroll, Les Collins, T. M. Mathieu, T. H. Mathieu, and Colin Sturgis.  The last was used when Les collaborated with Melvin Sturgis.

An associate member of First Fandom, Les was inducted — along with his wife — into the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2017.  A photo of Les (with wife Es) appeared in A Wealth of Fable (SCIFI Press, 1992) written by SF fan Harry Warner, Jr.

He was a historian; a scholarly gentleman with many interests and great capacities who was a life-long student and a mentor; a true animal lover; someone who had one foot firmly planted in the past with the other striding boldly into the future.

Les is survived by his wife and their two sons, Dana and Lance.

(Prepared by Jon D. Swartz)

Es and Les Cole. Photo by Tove Marling

Remembering Les Cole

By Es Cole: Les was a treasure trove of SF experiences and interactions with the great fans and writers during the glory years.  He chaired the Elves, Gnomes and Little Men’s SF and Chowder Society and helped produce the 1954 Worldcon.  He also captured his bride of 70 years by reading to her The Black Flame (by Stanley Weinbaum), who wore a gown of Alexandrites, rare gemstones that cost more than 15,?000 dollars a carat.

I accepted Les’ marriage proposal on condition the engagement ring be an Alexandrite.  Les, that sneaky, funny, intellectual, got me the ring, but the Alexandrite was an artificial stone. 

My SF relationship with Les started when we first met.  I had been assigned to run the switchboard of the men’s dorm, and Les walked into that area, wearing a new hat.  He was a wiseass sophomore, age 18; I was a sophisticated, 20-year-old freshman.  This was at Cal, Berkeley.  Les spent about two hours hanging about, and I learned from him about “dry labbing.”  First thing Les taught me was how to cheat in my chem class.  Thus, I began my college career.  And it worked.  Plus I got a boyfriend.  And the rest is history — a history of almost 80 years. 

We made our first convention appearance in New Orleans, where Bob Bloch started a rumor that Es and Les were 15-year-old twin brothers, and we’ve been gender confused ever since.

No. 1 son, Dana, attended the Worldcon in Chicago at age 4 1/2 months.  Both sons – Dana and Lance – attended the Worldcon in San Francisco in 1954.

Les and Es Cole, Gary Nelson, Tom Quinn and a few other people produced SFCon 1954.  We started out with almost bare pockets.   First, we turned the 2-day event into a 3-day weekend; we upped the registration from $1 to $2.  Fans screamed at the outrageous increase.  Our most important accomplishment, which is still followed today: we voted to have world conventions produced in a different city each year, moving westward.  Prior to that, conventions had primarily been on the eastern side of the U.S.  We restored the masquerade ball.  Bob Bloch was a judge.  Willy Ley’s wife, a professional ballet dancer, wore a black, filmy, flowing gown with glowing stars.  She was “deep space”.

We arranged for a wonderful museum in San Francisco to display some original sf art, including Chesley Bonestell originals.  Additional entertainment included a chamber opera based on a Bradbury short story narrated by Anthony Boucher.

When Les was president of the Little Men, he, and several other people, hatched an idea to involve the United Nations to claim to have authority over ownership of the Moon.

The idea for the Moon Claim, originated, with the owner of the bookstore where The Little Men held their meetings.

The people who executed the Moon Claim were pros or near pros.  Les wrote about the geology of the area of the moon; a graduate student in astronomy was able to outline the area of the moon being claimed; Les’ father was studying law, so he was able to write a proper claim.  They picked a date to local papers, describing the attempt to claim a portion of the Moon, by filing such a claim with the Legal Department of the United Nations.  And yes, it worked.  Press releases went out, written with a slant that would appeal to each Bay Area newspaper.  The response was far greater than we expected.  The local Berkeley paper tore up their original front page for that day and ran the Moon Claim story.  Les received a phone call in his place of work from a reporter from England, calling from New York. The reporter was interested in the ramifications of such a claim. 

Les, as president of the Little Men had the responsibility of fielding the phone calls, hoping for a legal way to determine the ownership of part of the moon.

Les authored about 50 SF short stories, published in F&SF, Amazing, Startling; an article in Astounding; and 6 novels.  His letters to sf magazines were published regularly from when he was about 13.  After we married in 1947 he added my name – thus was born Les and Es, or Es and Les.

Books by Les Cole: The Sea Kings, Lion at Sea, The Sea People (a prehistoric arch-aeological adventure trilogy, also available in Greek); Baker’s Dozenth (a spy novel set against the American Civil War); Spithead (an alternative universe spy/adventure novel where WWI and WWII never happened because the British Navy sailed out of Spithead, England and intervened).

Judith Merrill played a big part.  Long distance by mail and phone she helped Les hone his writing skills, gave advice about character development, dialog.  Les passed on this help to other aspiring writers, an important obligation.

Les was never boring.  I don’t think he could be boring; he knew too much, his sense of humor never stopped.  His use of language was always interesting, thoughtful, and unique.  And he could write; short stories, science fiction, historical novels.

He was younger than I, and insisted that I had to marry a younger man because women live longer than men.  He was right about so many things.  Smart and funny, and knew so much.  He was never boring. 

He is still in our house.  In every corner: his books, his photographs, his little notes tucked into books.  We made each other laugh.   He taught me stuff and I may have taught him a few things, too.

Sending love,

Es and the doggies

Pixel Scroll 10/19/19 Scrollgar, Do We Have Pixel Sign?

(1) GALAXY QUEST. See the trailer for Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary, which will be distributed through Fathom Events.

By all accounts, it was a movie that beat all odds: Surviving a set fire, the loss of a powerful director, and a studio that didn’t understand what it had, “Galaxy Quest” turned into a pop-culture phenomenon that would “never give up, never surrender.” As the cult classic nears its 20th anniversary – premiering on December 25, 1999 – “Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary” explores how the science-fiction comedy became an enduring fan favorite, a movie that helped launch the sci-fi- and fantasy-driven movie and TV industry that dominates global entertainment today.

(2) WILL THIS THREAT ACTUALLY WORK? It would be interesting to know the terms of the original gift, and whether a Weisinger descendant can revoke it: “University may lose Superman papers over Liz Cheney comments”.

The University of Wyoming could lose the papers of a longtime “Superman” comic book editor after his son took offense to comments by Congresswoman Liz Cheney.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports Hank Weisinger contacted the university’s American Heritage Center Tuesday demanding the return of the collected papers of Mort Weisinger.

The elder Weisinger spent three decades as the story editor of the “Superman” series published by DC Comics Inc.

Hank Weisinger says his action was prompted by comments the Wyoming Republican representative made Monday placing blame for Turkey’s Oct. 9 invasion of Syria on presidential impeachment proceedings by Democrats.

Weisinger says he does not want his father’s papers at a university represented by a member of Congress he perceives as opposing Superman’s values of “truth, justice and the American way.”

The University of Wyoming’s Comic Book Industry holdings include the Mort Weisinger Papers which cover his work on Superman and other publications:

Collection contains materials relating to Weisinger’s work as a writer and editor from 1928-1978. Collection includes correspondence (1932-1978) mostly regarding his work as a writer and editor for “This Week” and other magazines and with companies who were included in “1001 Valuable Things”; the galleys and manuscripts for “The Contest,” “The Complete Alibi Handbook” and “1001 Valuable Things”; the manuscript for an unpublished novel about a U.S. President (ca. 1975); legal agreements between Weisinger and “This Week” and Bantam Books (1954-1978); and photographs of Weisinger, the Weisinger family and various celebrities.

(3) WATCHMEN IN TIME. NPR’s Eric Deggans asks and answers: “Who Watches This ‘Watchmen?’ I Will, And You Should”.

The classic graphic novel Watchmen – an explicit, realistic take on what the world might be like if people actually put on costumes and masks to fight crime — tackled many social and political issues: American imperialism. Nuclear tensions with the Soviet Union. The corruption of a President Nixon who stayed in office for five terms.

But there’s one subject the book — hailed by Time magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the last century – didn’t really approach.

Race.

So it makes a certain kind of sense that, when superstar TV producer Damon Lindelof (Lost, The Leftovers) decided to build an HBO series around a modern continuation of the 1980s-era novel – okay, comic book — racial tension would be the first thing he tackled.

The result is a visually stunning, energetically complex series that digs into the hottest social issue of our time. But it’s done in a way that may leave viewers unsure exactly what Lindelof is saying about it all.

(4) COMICS IN SCHOOL. “‘Comic Book Libraries’ for Ypsilanti students blows past fundraising goal”MLive’s story covers the successful initiative.

A program led by two Eastern Michigan University alums aims to encourage area students to read by giving them access to “Comic Book Libraries” at community schools.

And a recent GoFundMe campaign to help expand the program has blown past its fundraising goal twice in a week.

The GoFundMe appeal “Providing Comic Book Libraries for local students!” has raised over $3,000.

Comic Book Libraries is a Hero Nation initiative that seeks to improve youth literacy by providing high-interest reading material to classrooms throughout our community.

We currently have educators at five different schools throughout our community hosting Comic Book Libraries and checking books out to eager students.

Graphic novels and comic books are excellent resources that help engage students with literature and art. From phenomenal fantasy adventures, to riveting retellings of historical events, there’s a graphic novel for everyone! 

(5) MUSH! NPR’s Scott Simon interviews the author and asks the obligatory question in “George R.R. Martin Really Does Know You Want Him To Write Faster”.

On whether it’s difficult to have millions of people waiting for The Winds of Winter, the next volume of A Song of Ice and Fire

Yes, especially because a certain portion of them are really impatient and snarky about it. You know, you can get one person who posts 150 messages in three days, all of which is “Where is Winds of Winter?” If any of you go home and post on your Twitter account, “Hey I was just at the Chicago Public Library Sandburg Award dinner and George R.R. Martin was there,” you know by the third message someone will say, well, “What the hell is he doing there? Where is Winds of Winter?” So at this point, it is what it is. And, you know, I should probably leave right now and go back [to] writing Winds of Winter.

It’s very important me to finish A Song of Ice and Fire. I want to finish it. I still have two more books to do, and I want to finish it strong. So people look at it and say, you know, this entire thing is an important work, not a half-finished or broken work. I know some of the more cynical people out there don’t believe that, but it is true.

(6) TODAY IN HISTORY.

  • October 19, 1979 Meteor premiered. Starring Natalie Wood, Sean Connery, and Karl Malden, it was inspired by the 1967 Project Icarus from MIT. The film was a box office failure and received a 12% rating at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • October 19, 2010 — The BBC’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The First Men In The Moon was first aired. Written by Mark Gatiss, it also stars Gatiss as Cavor and Rory Kinnear as Bedford. 

(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born October 19, 1903 Tor Johnson. He acted in a lot of really bad films starting with Bride of the Monster and  The Unearthly with the next being Plan 9 from Outer Space followed by The Beast of Yucca Flats and finishing with The Night of The Ghouls. Three of these are directed by Ed Wood. He appears on in genre tv just once as Naboro in the “Inferno in Space” episode of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. (Died 1971.)
  • Born October 19, 1909 Robert Beatty. He’s best known for being in 2001: A Space Odyssey as Dr. Ralph Halvorsen. He played General Cutler in “The Tenth Planet”, a First Doctor story, and was General Halstead in The Martian Chronicles. He was in Superman III and Superman IV, respectively playing a tanker captain and the U.S. President. (Died 1992.)
  • Born October 19, 1921 George Nader. In 1953, he was Roy, the leading man in Robot Monster (a.k.a. Monster from Mars and Monsters from the Moon) acknowledged by him and others to be the one of the worst SF films ever made. He showed up in some decidedly low budget other SF films such as The Human Duplicators, Beyond Atlantis  and The Great Space Adventure. (Died 2002.)
  • Born October 19, 1940 Michael Gambon, 79. He’s best known for playing Dumbledore in the final six Potter films after the death of Richard Harris who had previously played the role. He also shows up in the 2010 Christmas Special of Doctor Who, “A Christmas Carol”, an Eleventh Doctor story, playing Kazran/Elliot Sardick.
  • Born October 19, 1945 John Lithgow, 74. He enters SF fame as Dr. Emilio Lizardo / Lord John Whorfin in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. He’ll later be in Santa Claus: The MovieHarry and the Hendersons, ShrekRise of the Planet of the Apes, Interstellar and the remake of Pet Sematary. Oh and he voiced The White Rabbit on the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland series! 
  • Born October 19, 1946 ?Philip Pullman, 73. I’ll confess that I like his Sally Lockhart mysteries far more than I enjoy the Dark Materials series as there’s a freshness and imagination at work there I don’t see in the latter. Oh, some of the latter is quite good — I quite enjoyed Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in The North.
  • Born October 19, 1969 Vanessa Marshall, 50. Voice actress who’s Hera Syndulla on Star Wars: Rebels, a series I’ve been enjoying immensely. She’s gave voice to myriad characters from Poison Ivy to Black Widow. 
  • Born October 19, 1990 ?Ciara Renée, 29. She was Kendra Saunders / Hawkgirl in Legends of Tomorrow in the Arrowverse which means she showed up on Arrow and The Flash as well.

(8) SOMETIMES IN SPITE OF POPULAR DEMAND. Trae Dorn of Nerd & Tie discusses why reporting issue-focused fan news is a hazardous occupation. Thread starts here.

(9) RIIIGHT. It’s all a misunderstanding, you see: “Nobel Literature Prize judges defend controversial award for Peter Handke”.

Nobel Prize for Literature panel members have defended their decision to give this year’s award to controversial Austrian author Peter Handke.

The choice has been criticised because of Handke’s vocal support for the Serbs during the 1990s Yugoslav war.

Nobel committee member Henrik Petersen said Handke was “radically unpolitical” in his writing and that his support for the Serbs had been misunderstood.

(10) THEY’RE GOING AT NIGHT. (Yeah, I know, but I’ve always loved that joke.) BBC says probe will watch the Sun: “European SolO probe ready to take on audacious mission”. (Embedded video is just audio, but adds info about connection to US solar satellite.)

The European spacecraft that aims to take the closest ever pictures of the Sun is built and ready for launch.

The Solar Orbiter, or SolO, probe will put itself inside the orbit of Planet Mercury to train its telescopes on the surface of our star.

Other instruments will sense the constant outflow of particles and their embedded magnetic fields.

Scientists hope the detailed observations can help them understand better what drives the Sun’s activity.

This goes up and down on an 11-year cycle. It’s sure to be a fascinating endeavour but it’s one that has direct relevance to everyone on Earth.

The energetic outbursts from our star have the ability to damage satellites, harm astronauts, degrade radio communications, and even knock power grids offline.

“We’re doing this not just for the sake of increasing our knowledge but also for being able to take precautions, for example by putting satellites in safe mode when we know big solar storms are coming or letting astronauts not leave the space station on these days,” said Daniel Müller, the European Space Agency (Esa) project scientist on SolO.

(11) DAWN OF FANDOM. John L. Coker III, President of First Fandom, introduced members to David Ritter’s First Fandom Experience project late last year:

…David is seeking material for an ambitious project: the First Fandom Experience (FFE).  The purpose of the FFE is to “honor, preserve and bring to life the experience of the first fans – the pioneering fans who were instrumental in defining, driving, growing and supporting science fiction and fantasy in the 1930s and beyond.”

David’s primary initial focus for FFE will be to “publish fan-created content from the SF and fantasy fields dating from the 1930s, in facsimile form, from the rarest to the most prominent fanzines of the period.  FFE will also seek to find and republish other related ephemera of the period, especially content relating to the fan club activities and conventions held through the 1930s.  In addition, FFE will publish new content authored by current fans and historians reflecting on their experience and knowledge of the genres in the 1930s.” 

Two recent posts from Ritter’s First Fandom Experience site are:

“They’re Grand, But… “ is the story of a late-night adventure in 1938, and its consequences, scanned from Sam Moskowitz’ fanzine.

In some ways, early science fiction fandom was like a family. Think Leave It To Beaver meets Jersey Shore. The love and hate in the complex web of relationships often played out both in person and in fanzines. A shining example: a 1938 late-night road trip worthy of Scorsese’s After Hours.

In February 1938, Samuel A. Moskowitz penned a saccharin homage to his brothers and occasional sister in the fan community. “They’re Grand” appeared in The Science Fiction Fan (v2n6).

“Dessert of the Day: The Science Fiction Special” documents an eofannish obsession with ice cream, with a recipe by Frederik Pohl in the The International Observer (v2n7, January 1937), later refined by Donald A. Wollheim and John B. Michel in The Science Fiction Bugle, May 1937. (Scans of both items at the link.)

(12) NO TIPS, PLEASE. “LEONARDO Bipedal Robot With Thrusters” on YouTube is a robot developed at Caltech with a really good sense of balance.

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

Lottie Robins (1915 – 2018)

By John L. Coker III: Lottie Levin Robins, who was happily married for 66 years to Jack Robins (a member of the Futurians, First Fandom and N3F) died peacefully on November 18, 2018.

Lottie was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on September 18, 1915 to immigrant parents from the Ukraine – the last of five children.  She graduated high school in 1932.  Wrote her first play at age 9 and wanted to be a writer from that day on.  From age 11 to 18 Lottie was published every Saturday in the Winnipeg Free Press Young Authors pages: letters, essays and a novel.  At 17 she won first prize in a Young Zionist essay contest.  At 19, first prize coast-to-coast in the same contest.  At 22, in charge of music and drama and wrote a daily newsletter and was Assistant Director at an 8-week camp for 500 children.  During that time she wrote a weekly column for a three provincial Anglo-Jewish newspaper and read every book in the library about writing.   She also was secretary for her attorney brother, social worker for a Children’s Bureau and a student nurse at a children’s hospital for a year.

In 1945, Lottie left for Brooklyn where she worked as a medical assistant for a doctor’s office for 4 years until she met Jack. They immediately found common interests: writing, photography, classical music and politics.  After dating for only 5 weeks, they became engaged and were married on December 25, 1949.  In 1956, when their children were 3 and 5, Jack went back to college full-time, attending Brooklyn Polytechnical Institute on a fellowship where he received his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry. 

After she and Jack started to take weekly college courses, Lottie was invited to be an instructor in Adult Education for 5 years, teaching non-fiction and writing memoirs.  She eventually published in Guideposts, Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Canadian Writer’s Journal, Saturday Evening Post, Jack and Jill, McCalls, the New York Times, and many others.  She was Executive Editor of a two-language magazine, transliterated Yiddish and English for Rodel Press, and wrote 400 columns for Canadian and USA newspapers.

She had many other interests, including photography, embroidery, sewing, making dolls, quilting and Persian rugs.

Science Fiction was such an important part of their marriage and they got to know many of the people who became famous, including Don and Elsie Wollheim, Isaac Asimov, Fred Pohl, Damon Knight, Sam Moskowitz and others.  Jack was the photographer at the SF functions that they attended, so he was not in many of the pictures.  Together, they attended three World SF Conventions.  At one SF conference in Philadelphia, Jack and Lottie wrote and performed a humorous skit in honor of Don Wollheim’s retiring. 

Lottie and Jack Robins in 2015.

Lottie celebrated her 103rd birthday last year.  She thought of Jack as her loving husband, encyclopedia, editor and best friend.  When asked about her secret for having lived so long, Lottie would often replay that Jack was wonderful to live with and they had such an interesting life together.

Lottie is survived by her daughter Lohrainne Janell; her son Arthur Robins; three grandchildren (Alisa, Amy and Leila); and, three great-grandchildren (Jordon, Fionah and Jaxon).

(Adapted from an article in First Fandom Annual, 2018, ed. by John L. Coker III and Jon D. Swartz)

First Fandom Annual 2018

Jack Robins

The 2018 First Fandom Annual has just been published: Remembering Jack Robins (1919-2015), Edited by John L. Coker III and Jon D. Swartz.

This periodical showcases new articles and photographs, as well as a long interview with Jack Robins recalling the good old days, an article by Lottie about her family, and two of Jack’s SF-themed plays: “The Ivory Tower” and “The Trials and Tribulations of Publishing.”

Here are first-hand accounts of some early adventures of SF fans from the 1930s, including Donald A. Wollheim, John B. Michel, Leslie Perri, Richard Wilson, Fred Pohl, David A. Kyle, William S. Sykora, Cyril M. Kornbluth, Robert W. Lowndes, Isaac Asimov, and Damon Knight.

Also presented are a selection of Jack’s poetry and several of his historic SF photographs.

Also featured, a Jack Robins bibliography prepared by Christopher M. O’Brien.

  • 90 pages, limited edition (50 copies); Laser printed on good quality paper; B&W photos and interior illustrations; Gloss covers, 8½ x 11, saddle-stitched.

This will soon be out-of-print, so order your copy today by sending a check or money order for $30 (payable to John L. Coker III) to John at 4813 Lighthouse Road, Orlando, FL – 32808.

2018 First Fandom Awards and Big Heart Award

By John Coker III: The 2018 First Fandom Awards and the Big Heart Award were presented during Opening Ceremonies at Worldcon76.  Steve Francis was the Master of Ceremonies.

Distinguished First Fandom member Erle M. Korshak presented the Hall of Fame Award to Robert Silverberg.

Robert Silverberg

Robert Silverberg has been a professional writer since 1955, the year before he graduated from Columbia University, and has published more than a hundred books and close to a thousand short stories.  He is a many-time winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, was GoH at the Worldcon in Heidelberg, Germany in 1970, was named to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2004 was named a Grand Master by the SFWA, of which he is a past president.  Silverberg was born in New York City, but he and his wife Karen and an assortment of cats have lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area.

John Hertz inducted Len and June Moffatt into the First Fandom Posthumous Hall of Fame, and the Award was accepted on their behalf by Bob Konigsberg.

Len and June Moffatt

Len and June Moffatt were longtime dedicated fans, SF and Mystery readers, authors, fanzine publishers, editors, correspondents, convention organizers and associate members of First Fandom.  They joined LASFS in the later-1940s.  They published the FAPAzine Moonshine, published in APA-L, and were founding members in the fanzine 5X5.  Len was one of the organizers of the 1958 Worldcon.  Len and June were co-founders of the Bouchercon, and were the 1973 TAFF Delegates.  They were Fan Guests of Honor at Loscon 8 (1981) and BoucherCon (1985), and recipient of the Evans-Freehafer Trophy (1994) and the Anthony Award (1999).  They are being honored as a couple for their tireless service to others over the course of their lifetimes.

The Sam Moskowitz Archive Award is presented for excellence in collecting.  This year, First Fandom recognizes the important scholarly work that has been done by Hal W. Hall while he was curator of the SF and Fantasy Research Collection of the Cushing Library at Texas A&M University.

Hal W. Hall

In 1970, Hall W. Hall started indexing SF and fantasy book reviews, ending that effort 25 years later with a bibliography of some 79,000 citations.  In the late-1970s, he started collecting citations to articles and books about SF and fantasy, first in book form and then online.  That material resides in the SF and Fantasy Research Database, now approaching 115,000 items.  In 2017, Hall published Sam Moskowitz: A Bibliography and Guide (221 pages, listing 1,489 items).

The Big Heart Award was presented by Sue Francis.

Hmm. If only someone had said, “Mike, you really shouldn’t miss Opening Ceremonies.”

I Remember David A. Kyle

Dave Kyle the first time I met him, New York,1991.

[Editor’s note: February 14 was Dave Kyle’s birthday.]

By John L. Coker III: There are not many people active today in science fiction fandom who can recall a time before David A. Kyle (1919-2016) was part of the scene.

Dave had participated in many of the great moments in SF history from the earliest days.  He had personally known and worked with most of the people who were involved in the SF field during the past seventy years or so.  And, he was still excited about it all.

If you were accompanying Dave during a large convention, you better not be in a hurry, because you were going to get to meet everyone there.  He was especially gracious to the younger fans, taking them around, introducing them to people during the weekend.

Over the years, I always found Dave to be a thoughtful, considerate, and well-mannered person, all in the most natural way.  He was modest and glad to share the spotlight, acknowledging the good work of others.  Dave was clever, and really smart, with a wonderful sense of humor.  He told wonderful stories and delivered some terrible puns.

Dave had great capacity for composing well-constructed paragraphs in first draft and he was comfortable speaking in an impromptu manner in front of audiences.  Dave was interesting, knowledgeable, idealistic and stalwart, with genuine depth and a real command of the English language.  He could give legitimacy to any event just by participating, or even with his presence in the audience.  He was generous to friends and strangers.  I can remember occasions as I watched Dave’s well-wishers form a receiving line as they waited to greet him when he entered a crowded room, and then he’d have them sign his book.

He was a professional artist with natural talent and imagination.  And, Dave had a considerable career as a journalist for his family’s newspaper, radio and television stations.  He will likely best be remembered as an author, editor and SF book publisher.

Dave devoted his life to promoting the ideals of science fiction.  He genuinely embodied the ‘sense of wonder.’  He was a pioneer with many first-time accomplishments.  His unique influence will be felt for decades to come.  When fans gather together in the future to share stories, they will all remember the Man in the Red Jacket, David A. Kyle.

Dave Kyle the last time I saw him, Chicago, 2012.

 

Pixel Scroll 1/28/18 I Say We Take Off And Pixel The Entire Scroll From Orbit – It’s The Only Way To Be Sure

(1) DUFF DEADLINE. Down Under Fan Fund nominations for the 2018 race close January 31.  If you’re interested, or have someone else lined up, hop to it!

Nominations are now open for a Down Under Fan Fund delegate from Australia or New Zealand to travel either to San Jose, California, USA for the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, 16–20 August 2018, or to other major conventions in North America in 2018.

(2) EARLY COSPLAY AND THE LA WORLDCON OF 1946. SyFy Wire’s Carol Pinchefsky goes beyond the Ackerman/Douglas collaboration in “Firsts: The first cosplay took place at the first-ever con… in 1939”, drawing on other anecdotes collected by John. L. Coker III, sf historian and editor of the nonfiction book Tales of the Time Travelers: The Adventures of Forrest J. Ackerman and Julius Schwartz:

Coker interviewed other First Fans for Tales of the Time Travelers. Author and fan Len J. Moffatt discussed yet another “first” … the first recorded cosplay fail, which took place at the fourth Worldcon, in 1946:

“[Fan] Dale Hart [pictured above] was an excellent Gray Lensman in a silver-gray form-fitting costume like the Astounding cover by Rogers. The problem was that it was so tight that he could not sit down or dare to bend over.”

Moffatt may also have created another “first” at Pacificon I, the first cosplay routine:

“While at Slan Shack on Bixel Street earlier, I had borrowed some of Myrtle’s green make-up, combed my hair over my ears and turned up my jacket collar to become a comical vampire. I made a better impression earlier when friends carried me into a meeting hall and deposited my rigid body on some lined-up folding chairs. I lay there a long time with eyes closed and hands folded on my chest listening to the wondering remarks of passers-by.”

(3) WRATHFUL SPEECH. Middle-Earth Reflections documents “His sharp tongue or Fëanor’s talent to insult”:

Fëanor the Spirit of Fire was the most gifted of all the Elves in linguistic lore. He could use language so well that his speeches affected those who heard them and inspired them to do different, though not always sensible, things. Thus, being gifted with words and able to use them potently, Finwë’s eldest son was also exceptionally good at insulting others.

(4) BESPOKE AWARD. Charles Payseur unveils he fifth and final category winners: “THE SIPPY AWARDS 2017! The “Where We’re Going We Won’t Need Categories” Sippy for Excellent I Don’t Know What in Short SFF”

The “Where We’re Going We Won’t Need Categories” 

Sippy Awards for Excellent I Don’t Know What in Short SFF

What does it mean? Well, part of the point of this category is…I’m not sure. These are stories that defy conventional definitions and categorization. These are the ones that slip between genres and expectations. They’re…well, a lot of them are weird, but beautiful. Haunting, but fun. Deep and complex and brilliant in the ways they innovate and inspire. So without further delay…

(5) LEADING BY EXAMPLE. Lisa Goldstein’s tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin tells how much she meant to girls who wanted to write science fiction and fantasy:

…Her characters were so real and rounded they became people you wanted to know.  She wrote beautifully, in a field where most writing ranged from serviceable to awkward.  And she was not just smart but wise, someone who could get to the heart of a subject with a few well-chosen words.  I was looking through my copy of The Language of the Night this week and found this: “Fantasy is true, of course.  It isn’t factual, but it is true.”

So I began to think that I could actually do this science-fiction thing.  After all, here was a woman who was, IMHO, doing it better than any male writer.  (And around the same time there were also Joanna Russ and Kate Wilhelm and Carol Emshwiller — and James Tiptree, or course, but we didn’t know her secret then.)  She gave me, and any number of other girls reading science fiction in those years, the courage to try….

(6) TV ARCHEOLOGY. Echo Ishii, in “SF Obscure: Planet of the Apes TV”, discusses two TV adaptations, one live, one animated.

The live action TV series has two new astronauts stranded on future/parallel earth.  In this version, there are human villages-not quite as primitive as the original movies movies-ruled over by Apes as governors and guards. The two astronauts are assisted by another Ape who believes humans are capable of more. It’s a run of the mill action adventure with the planet of the apes spin. Entertaining, but not outstanding. It was, unfortunately, an expensive show and cancelled after 14 episodes.

(7) BEST OF 2016. Greg Hullender notes Rocket Stack Rank is continuing their analysis of the best science fiction and fantasy short fiction from 2016. In the latest installment, they turn their attention to  —“2016 Best SF/F Short Fiction Authors”.

Out of 602 authors, fully 74% had only one story published in our survey of 887 stories, so we’re picking from a huge diversity of authors.

On the other hand, there’s remarkable consistency among our pool of recommenders: 72% of recommendations went to the top 20% of authors, and 40% got no recommendations at all. It’s true that different reviewers have different opinions, but it’s also true that there’s a sort of broad consensus around who the best authors are.

(8) WHOHIKER. Andrew Hickey reviews Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen, the book by James Goss based on a possible Doctor Who film script by Douglas Adams. It is a positive review with a caveat:

So you can be fairly sure that if you’re the kind of person who would even vaguely consider maybe reading a book like this, you’ll come away having read a book that at least matches your expectations, and maybe exceeds them.

(9) NOT APOLITICAL. How some people were spared persecution in WWII. The thread starts here –

And here’s one of the reasons you’ll want to read it:

(10) SMITH OBIT. Mark E. Smith, the leader and singer/songwriter of influential British post-punk band The Fall, died January 24 at the age of 60. In his last interview a reporter for The Guardian asked whether he saw the most recent Blade Runner since he was a “big fan” of Philip K. Dick movies. As usual, Smith was not exactly diplomatic:

I think the original Blade Runner is the most obscene film ever made, I fucking hated it. The Man in the High Castle is one of my favourite books; how they fucked that TV show up I don’t know. It gets blander and blander. In the book the level of comprehension of that world is fucking astounding, in the show it’s just everybody going around normally except they’ve got swastika armbands on. The only good Philip K Dick film is Total Recall, it’s faithful to the book. Arnie gets it. I was physically sick watching A Scanner Darkly, it was like an episode of Cheers painted over except they all smoke dope and imagine women with no clothes on.

(11) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • January 28, 1986 — At 11:38 a.m. EST the space shuttle Challenger lifts off from Cape Canaveral, then explodes.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS

  • Born January 28, 1959 – Frank Darabont
  • Born January 28, 1981 – Elijah Wood, who played Frodo in the Lord of the Rings movies.

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Michael J. Walsh, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian all saw what happens when a young writer picks sf, in Non Sequitur.
  • John King Tarpinian found a mock terrifying surprise in Lio.

(14) OKORAFOR SAGA. NPR’s Amal el-Mohtar says “Binti’s Story Is Finished — But Don’t Expect Completion”.

Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti trilogy is now complete: The Night Masquerade is the final instalment in a series she’s described as “African girl leaves home. African girl returns home. African girl becomes home.” It’s a beautiful proposed structure, a Hero’s Journey that rings truer for me than Joseph Campbell’s, resonating deeply with my experiences of diaspora, roots, and community. Binti left her Himba family on Earth in order to travel to Oomza University, far beyond the stars; she left Oomza in an attempt to manage her trauma and find herself again in the deserts of her home; and there, in the desert, she incorporated new revelations about her history into the anthology of herself, before being shocked into an awareness of impending doom.

(15) WHEN WILL YOU MAKE AN END? NPR’s Scott Tobias on “‘The Maze Runner: The Death Cure’: Nice Guy Finishes, At Last”:

The Maze Runner is the rare series that has improved with each installment, expanding beyond the organic pen of the first film into a bigger and more thrillingly realized science fiction sandbox. Though its young leads are mostly blah, the franchise has steadily accumulated character actors to liven things up, like Gillen, Esposito, and Pepper in the second film and now Walton Goggins in the third as the deformed leader of the Cranks. While Ball tries for too much in the needlessly protracted finale, he’s supremely confident in staging the action sequences, which usually rely on a meticulously orchestrated set of circumstances.

(16) IT’S NOT FICTION. BBC reports about “Of Mice and Old Men: Silicon Valley’s quest to beat ageing”.

To understand what’s happening in the tech world today, you need to look back to the mid-1800s, when a Frenchman named Paul Bert made a discovery that was as gruesome as it was fascinating.

In his experiment, rodents were quite literally stitched together in order to share bloodstreams. Soon after he found the older mice started showing signs of rejuvenation: better memory, improved agility, an ability to heal more quickly. In later years, researchers at institutions like Stanford would reinforce this work.

The extraordinary technique became known as parabiosis, and forms the basis of efforts at Alkahest, a California start-up that is banking on being able to apply those rejuvenative effects to people, rather than mice. It’s an idea so fantastical it wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of Silicon Valley, the HBO send-up of the start-up scene.

(17) HELPING WATER TAKE SHAPE. An article about digital effects in The Shape of Water: “How visual effects studio Mr. X helped create ‘The Shape of Water’ and its lovable merman”.

It turns out that Jones’ impressive costume and makeup (and his equally impressive performance) only accounts for part of what we see on-screen. Trey Harrell, CG supervisor at visual effects house Mr. X, told me, “Every single shot of the film where you see the creature is a visual effects shot.”

After all, Harrell said that while “Doug is an amazing actor,” his face was also hidden under “an inch of and a half of foam latex.” So at the very least, Mr. X had to create the merman’s eye and face movements. In other instances, like when the merman was viewed swimming inside the lab’s capsule, Mr. X was responsible for the entire creature.

(18) ACCUSATION. Someone has made a claim about the source of the story — “Guillermo del Toro accused of stealing story of ‘Shape of Water’ from 1969 play” reports the New York Daily Post.

Guillermo del Toro has been accused of stealing the storyline of “Shape of Water” from Pulitzer-winning playwright Paul Zindel.

David Zindel, the son of the playwright, who died in 2003, claims del Toro’s story is taken from his father’s 1969 “Let Me Hear You Whisper,” about “a female janitor in a research laboratory who bonds with a captive dolphin and tries to rescue the creature.”

“We are shocked that a major studio could make a film so obviously derived from my late father’s work without anyone recognizing it and coming to us for the rights,” Zindel told the Guardian.

… Fox Searchlight denied that the “Shape of Water” storyline was stolen.

“Guillermo del Toro has never read nor seen Mr. Zindel’s play in any form. Mr. del Toro has had a 25 year career during which he has made 10 feature films and has always been very open about acknowledging his influences,” a spokesman told the Guardian.

(19) I’M FEELING BETTER! Scott Tilley was listening for something else when the unexpected happened: “Amateur astronomer discovers a revived NASA satellite”.

After years in darkness, a NASA satellite is phoning home.

Some 12 years since it was thought lost because of a systems failure, NASA’s Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) has been discovered, still broadcasting, by an amateur astronomer. The find, which he reported in a blog post this week, presents the possibility that NASA could revive the mission, which once provided unparalleled views of Earth’s magnetosphere.

The astronomer, Scott Tilley, spends his free time following the radio signals from spy satellites. On this occasion, he was searching in high-Earth orbit for evidence of Zuma, a classified U.S. satellite that’s believed to have failed after launch. But rather than discovering Zuma, Tilley picked up a signal from a satellite labeled “2000-017A,” which he knew corresponded to NASA’s IMAGE satellite. Launched in 2000 and then left for dead in December 2005, the $150 million mission was back broadcasting. It just needed someone to listen.

(20) RARITY. Offered on eBay for $2,000 – the NAL paperback of The Day After Tomorrow signed by Robert A,. Heinlein to his publisher:

HEINLEIN, ROBERT A. The Day After Tomorrow. New York: Signet – New American Library, 1964. First Paperback Edition. Signed and inscribed by Robert A. Heinlein with a superb inscription to his publisher: “To Kurt Enoch, President of N.A.L. With books as with icebergs it is the unseen 7/8-s which permits the 1/8 to be seen. Thanks! Bob Heinlein”. Originally published as Sixth Column, this copy is enclosed in a custom cloth clamsell box. Paperbound, very good clean copy. From the library of Dr. Kurt Enoch (1895-1982) who was a noted German publisher, forced to flee the Nazis, landing in New York in 1940. In 1948, Dr. Enoch co-founded and became President of New American Library – Signet Books which became one of the successful and acclaimed post-war publishing houses. Enoch went on to become one of the most highly regarded figures in American book publishing.

(21) YOUR MOVE. The mention in yesterday’s Scroll about Richard Paolinelli asking someone to guess his chess ranking inspired this parody of “One Night in Bangkok” (from Chess) by Matthew Johnson (and the last two lines by Soon Lee):

Twitter’s gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than if you go
To San Jose for a cruddy old Hugo

I don’t see you guys making
The nine-dimensional move I’m contemplating
I’d let you watch, I would invite you
But our Gargoyles DVDs would not excite you

So you’d better go back to your Files, your SFWA forums,
Your cat cafes

One night in genre and worlds are your oyster
The Scrolls are Pixels and the comment’s free
My pups are friendly and their noses moister
No politics in SF history
I can feel Bob Heinlein walking next to me
His mistresses are harsh, and his lunch ain’t free.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Soon Lee, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Rob Thornton, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]

Norman F. Stanley (1916-2016)

Norman F. Stanley, circa 1970s.

Norman F. Stanley, circa 1970s.

By Jon D. Swartz and John L. Coker III: Born in May 1916, Norm Stanley was a science fiction (SF) fan from Maine who was very active in fandom in the 1940s.  He was a member of the famous Stranger Club, and was one of the club members who attended Noreascon 3 as a Fan Guest of Honor.

Norm was also tangentially involved in the Skowhegan Junior Astronomical and Rocket Society, the kind of fan club that combined both science and SF activities and was common in this country in the 1930s and 1940s.  He was generous with his fellow club members, and  let them borrow from his seventy bound-volumes of SF prozines.

He attended early conventions such as Philcon, as well as some of the early Boskones.  He also participated in Mainecon Jr, a “conference” in the language of the times, in 1943, with his friend Jim Avery and the visiting Claude Degler.  He gave Degler some fanzines, and got along well with him.  This generosity of his, plus the “conference” they had had with Avery, apparently qualified him to be a member of Degler’s legendary Cosmic Circle.  Norm was still active in fan matters in the late 1940s, and attended the 1948 Torcon where he participated in a roundtable discussion on the probable date of the arrival of interplanetary travel.

Norm’s major fanzine was Fan-Tods, which ran for nineteen issues.  He also published Beyond with Roscoe E. Wright.  Fan-Tods was a SF fanzine that was subtitled “The Magazine for the Tod Fan.”  It appeared in the 1940s-1950s, and was edited and published by Norm from his home in Rockland, Maine.  This fanzine was mimeographed using blue ink.  Issue #1 appeared in December, 1942; with #2 appearing in Spring, 1943; #7 in Summer, 1944; and then following a regular quarterly schedule until issue #18 in 1949 — after which there was a three-year break; and then Issue #19 was published in the Fall of 1952, and was the last issue.  Fan-Tods was an apazine, distributed through FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Association), and then VAPA (Vanguard Amateur Press Association).  Cover illustrations were by Wright, among others.  By issue #7, Wright had become a co-editor.  SF historian Harry Warner once described Norm as “a power force in FAPA.”  

Jack Speer’s 1944 poll of the top SF fans found Fan-Tods to be among the nation’s top five fanzines.  On the other hand, in 1947 – in his fanzine Matters of Opinion Speer wrote an article, “The People vs. Norman F. Stanley,” that was very critical of the 16th issue of Fan-Tods.

In the 1940s, Norm was very much a member of the “sense of wonder” camp of SF.  According to Warner’s All Our Yesterdays, when Norm’s mother told him about atomic bombs and Hiroshima he remembered thinking:  “I confess my first reaction was one of elation, which even the obvious misgivings couldn’t quench. ‘Geez, we might blow up the whole planet,’ I thought, ‘but it’s still wonderful.’ ”

In addition to his fanzine work, Norm wrote for the SF prozines, including several letters to Astounding Science Fiction.  Three of his letters were published in 1938, two in 1939, and one in 1940.  In addition, he had an essay (“The Theory of Thing Things”) published in the 1948 Torcon Report.

Norm was one of the original members of First Fandom; and he was elected to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2013.

Norman and Eleanor

Norman and Eleanor

Norman F. Stanley passed away on October 22, 2016, at the Sussman House, Rockport, Maine, with his family in attendance.  He was 100 years of age.  He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Eleanor, their two children, a granddaughter, and four children of a nephew.

Here is a link to the obituary notice that appeared in The Courier Gazette / The Camden Herald on October 26, 2016:  http://knox.villagesoup.com/p/norman-stanley/1588807

norman-stanley

Sources: All Our Yesterdays; The Immortal Storm; Fancyclopedia 3; ISFDB; Wikipedia; and other Internet sites.