Corflu FIAWOL Report

Corflu 36 FIAWOL (Rockville, Maryland, May 1-4, 2019)

“They toiled over their crude mimeographs, turning out their magazines.  These magazines have long since crumbled into dust, but who amongst us can ever forget the names?  Grue and Hyphen; Amazing and Astounding; Galaxy and Quandry and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science FictionStartling, Confidential, Infinity, Dimensions—these names will never die!”

                                                                     Robert Bloch, “A Way of Life” (1956)

By Martin Morse Wooster: One of the advantages of living in Washington is that eventually all the branches of fandom you’re interested in will come to you.  I’ve been to three previous Corflus—two held in the Washington suburbs in 1986 and 1994, and the one held in Annapolis, Maryland in 2002.  I always am happy to go to conventions I can get to on the bus, so when I heard Corflu was coming to the Maryland suburbs, I signed up.  I had a good time.

Michael Dobson, with Curt Phillips as second-in-command, organized Corflu 36.  Phillips, among other things, ran a very well stocked con suite, including three kinds of orange marmalade for breakfast.

Members got quite a lot of stuff.  Dobson edited a 163-page fanthology of members’ writings, which is also available on Efanzines.  Some mossbacks grumbled that Dobson used CreateSpace as his publisher, but I thought the book was well done.  Also included in the members’ packet was Thy Life’s A Miracle:  Selected Writings of Randy Byers, a 135-page anthology edited by Luke McGuff.

But that wasn’t all!  We also got a framed print by Dan Steffan, in a limited edition of 90, which showed a nude Japanese woman with creatures on her back that resembled those of British artist Arthur Thomson.  It was a very handsome piece of art, and I will put it on my shelf next to the Star Wars thingie I got at Nationals Park.

The attendance was around 55, with half a dozen fans from the United Kingdom, Murray and Mary-Ellen Moore from Canada, and 10-12 fans from the West Coast.  You could spot the Californians because they were most of the attendees at the wine tasting organized by Spike.

Younger fans allergic to grey hair would not have enjoyed themselves.  Four of the fans attending—Greg Benford, Jim Benford, Steve Stiles, and Ted White—began their fan activity before 1960.  Most attendees began to be fans in the 1970s and 1980s.  No one surveyed became a fan after 1990.

I spent much of the time in the con suite listening to stories about 20th century fan legends.  I heard about the Scottish fan who, after losing a feud with everyone else in his club, dropped out only to appear in the pages of a tabloid completely nude except for a hand coyly placed over his manhood.  The headline of the piece about the fan was ‘IT’S ORGYTASTIC.”

“Do you mean this guy discovered orgy fandom?” I asked.

“No, it was more like orgy con-dom,” said my source, who added that the fan liked showing up at the orgies he organized in a gorilla suit, because women liked sitting on his lap and stroking his fur.

But the story too good to check was whether two Arab sheiks offered to buy Baltimore fan Lee Smoire at Discon II in 1974 for two camels.  This claim would be absurd and ridiculous about any other fan than Lee Smoire, who stories cluster around like gaudy barnacles.  I cite it to add to Lee Smoire’s legend[1].

The first day of Corflu had the opening ceremony, where a sacred box is unearthed that included a crusty bottle of correction fluid or “corflu.”  The convention chooses a guest of honor by pulling a name from the box, but you can opt out of the honor with a $20 donation.  The winner was Jim Benford, who got all the donation money, which he reportedly spent at the fanzine auction on Saturday.  His other prize was a pillow, designed by Alison Scott, which says “Dave Kyle Says You Can’t Sit Here” and has the badge of the Science Fiction League of the 1930s.

Saturday’s program included three panels and I went to two.  A panel on archives featured Non-Stop Press publisher Luis Ortiz, who has just published an anthology of fanzine writings from 1930-1960, Michael Dobson, University of Maryland (Baltimore County) archivist Susan Graham, and Joe Siclari, head of fanac.org.

Susan Graham said that her library bought the fanzine collection of Walter Coslet in 1973 and subsequently acquired the fanzines of Peggy Rae Sapienza, who was graduated from the school.  These fanzines included many of Sapienza’s first husband, Bob Pavlat, a famed collector.  They’ve also gotten some Frank Kelly Freas art and some papers, including manuscripts by Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, and Lawrence Watt-Evans.  They’re still organizing their zines, but their website https://lib.guides.umbc.edu/fanzines has a finding aid and essays on feminist fanzines of the 1970s, fanzines’ role in society, and the Atlanta Science-Fiction Organization fanzine Cosmag.

Fanac.org scanned 2,000 pages of fanzines at Corflu.  Siclari said that he had gotten research requests from unexpected places.  They helped out the recent documentary on Ursula K. Le Guin, for example.  And when the family of fan H.F. Koenig asked for copies of Koenig’s fanzines, they donated a copy of the family genealogy to Fanac.org.

There are also reports of what happened to Harry Warner, Jr.’s fanzine collection.  It is apparently in one piece and is being stored at Heritage Auctions in Dallas.  No one knows what Heritage plans to do with Warner’s collection.

The second panel was on Void, which included the zine’s editors, Greg Benford, Jim Benford, and Ted White, and Luis Ortiz, who is working on an anthology of pieces from the zine.  Void began in 1955, with teenage fans Greg and Jim Benford as editors.  When the Benford brothers moved from Germany to Dallas, Tom Reamy became an editor.

The Benfords put out 13 issues of Void between 1955-58.  But Jim Benford decided to give up fanac for college.  Another catalyst for change was when Kent Moomaw, a columnist for the zine, killed himself on his 18th birthday rather than be drafted.  In 1958 America was at peace, so there was about a 20 percent chance he would be drafted.

Void then moved its headquarters to New York City, and continued with editors including Greg Benford, Ted White, Pete Graham, and Terry Carr.  It lasted another 14 issues through 1962 with a final issue published in 1967.

Both Greg Benford and Ted White said that writing for Void inspired their professional careers.  Greg Benford said that his fan writing prepared him to win a contest sponsored by Fantasy and Science Fiction that launched his career as a novelist.

“All of our fanac was fun because of the challenges we met,” White said.  “I thought Terry (Carr) was a better writer than me, and it was a daily challenge to write to his level.”

Void even had a song, with the music being whatever you’d like.  Here is the first verse.

“We are the Void boys
We make a lot of noise!
We sing songs of fandom
Hitting out at random
Because we are all co-editors of Void.”

Saturday night had two panels.  “Just a Minac,” organized by Sandra Bond, was the fannish version of the British game show “Just a Minute.”  The idea is that the contestants—John D. Berry, Rich Coad, Rob Jackson, and Nigel Rowe—would give one-minute speeches, delivered “without hesitation, repetition, or deviation”—on topics such as “The Nine Billion Names of God” or “My Favorite Beer.”  This was not as easy as its sounds, and I thought it was agreeably silly.  Nigel Rowe seemed the most creative contestant to me, but Rich Coad was the winner.

“The Time Chunnel” was a play by Andy Hooper that described two worlds, one where sf dominated and one where fandom ruled.  In the fannish world, mimeos were much better but leaf blowers didn’t work.  It had plenty of in jokes about fanzines, but also weird popular culture references; if you are excited by references to comedian Durward Kirby, best known as a host of Candid Camera in the early 1960s, “The Time Chunnel” is a play for you.  I didn’t think it worked.  

Since the FAAN Awards have already been covered, I’ll skip them, but I should write about Jim Benford’s guest of honor speech, which was very good.

If Greg Benford’s day job was as a physicist at the University of California (Irvine), his brother worked in technology.  He said that fanzine writing prepared him to write proposals.  “I had the best proposals,” Benford said, saying that fan writing ensured his proposals were better organized than other physicists with less writing experience.

Jim Benford has spent most of his career developing particle beams and other energy weapons.  But three years ago he was given a ten-year contract by billionaire Yuri Milner to design starships.  He now works on solar sails that could guide a future mission to Proxima Centauri.

The problem with solar sails, Jim Benford said, was “The Fearless Fosdick problem.”  Li’l Abner fans will recall that Fearless Fosdick valiantly fought the bad guys until they blasted him full of holes.  How do you create a solar sail that wouldn’t tear apart?  Benford showed how a spherical shape would produce the best outcome.

He said that if someone in 1959 told him that 60 years in the future “I’d be talking to a bunch of fans about starships, I’d be a very happy man.”

Next year’s Corflu will be run by John Purcell in College Station, Texas, in a date to be determined.



[1] The best story I know about Lee Smoire is that, after John Lennon was assassinated in 1980, Yoko Ono asked for a moment of silence to honor him.  Smoire was escorting people around the Baltimore Convention Center and when the designated minute occurred spent the time shouting, “DON’T YOU KNOW YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE QUIET?”

After Smoire left Baltimore for Perth, Australia, packed panels at the next two Disclaves told stories about her.

2019 TAFF Voting Opens


The 2019 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund Race to send a North American fan to the Dublin Worldcon next August is now on! Voting runs from today, December 1, to April 22, 2019.

The candidates are Teresa Cochran, Sarah Gulde, Michael Lowrey, and Geri Sullivan. The ballot includes their platform statements. TAFF co-administrator John Purcell said, “I am happy to say that I know all four of these splendid candidates, and wish them all the best of luck and that this campaign/election/selection will be a lot of fun. Bon chance, mes amis!”

The online voting form is active at https://taff.org.uk/. A printable PDF file of the ballot with voting instructions also appears at the end of this post. Purcell is sending out paper copies with the next issue of his fanzine Askew in another week.

North America: John Purcell ­– Checks in US$ payable to “John Purcell”. Mail the ballot to John Purcell, 3744 Marielene Circle, College Station, TX 77845 USA. Paypal payments to: 2017taff2019@gmail.com

Europe: Johan Anglemark – cheques in UK £ or € payable to “TAFF”. Mail the ballot to Johan Anglemark, Lingonv. 10, SE-74340 Storvreta, Sweden. Paypal payments to: EUTAFF@gmail.com

The 2019 TAFF Candidates:

Teresa Cochran

Reading has always been a solitary activity for me. I read SF for many years, and dreamed of meeting other fans. In the early 2000’s, I moved to Las Vegas and met many established fans. I began going to conventions. With the help of computer technology, it is much easier for me to write for fanzines. TAFF would give me an opportunity to meet fans and explore the social aspects of fandom. I could also publish a TAFF report in Braille! Don’t worry; it will be accessible to everyone.

Nominated by: (NA) Tracy Benton, Steve Stiles, Jacq Monahan; (Europe) Chris O’Shea, Martin Tudor

Sarah Gulde

‘Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations’. Why the Star Trek slogan? First, I’m a hardcore Trekkie and co-editor of the December 2018 Star Trek issue of Journey Planet. Second, I’m passionate about diversity in fandom. I’ve been on diversity panels across the country, and even started my own diversity-focused mini-con.

I’m running for TAFF because I’ve pushed for change in my local con to help everyone feel welcome while celebrating their fandoms, and as the TAFF delegate I want to provide support for other fans who are doing the same. Interested? Let’s grab a beer in Dublin and chat! LLAP!

Nominated by: (NA) Chris Garcia, Curtis Chen, Nisi Shawl; (Europe) Fia Karlsson, James Shields

Michael Lowrey

My first convention (1975) was the best thing that ever happened to me. I have loved, married and parented within the tribe. I’ve been active: the N3F, Usenet, apas. I’ve pubbed my ish, and been officer of a local club.

I am a Fan, free citizen of the ImagiNation. Whatever else I may be – husband, daddy, union leader, Esperantist, wearer of orange garments, Quaker, feminist, Irishman, Mac user, Wobbly, Hordesman, Wikipedian – this is my Way of Life. My cunning plan? I want to come from a land beyond the wave, meet fans all over Over There, and quaff girder-based beverages.

Nominated by: (NA) Steven Silver, James Nicoll, Arthur D. Hlavaty; (Europe) John-Henri Holmberg, Steve Green

Geri Sullivan

Shortly after stumbling into fandom, I was found guilty of exhibiting enthusiastic energy and a propensity for getting things done. I’ve been hosting parties, publishing fanzines, running conventions, and organizing special projects ever since. Oobleck. Chocolate robots. Rocks, inflatable gargoyles, and remarkable bheer. You never know what I’ll bring, only that it all sparks connections….

If selected, I’ll share adventures from years knowing Walter & Madeleine Willis, James & Peggy White, and other legendary fans of yore while meeting new friends of all ages. Timebinding, you bet! Hope to see you on the Funway in Dublin and Belfast. She/her; fancyclopedia.org/geri-sullivan

Nominated by: (NA) Joe Siclari & Edie Stern, Pat Virzi, Dave O’Neill; (Europe) Claire Brialey, Gareth Kavanagh

2019 TAFF Ballot:

2019 TAFF Ballot US Letter

2019 TAFF Candidates Announced

Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund administrators John Purcell and Johan Anglemark have announced the four candidates to become TAFF delegate to the 2019 Worldcon:

  • Teresa Cochran
  • Sarah Gulde
  • Mike Lowrey
  • Geri Sullivan

Voting on 2019 eastbound TAFF race begins December 1 and will continue until April 22, 2019. The winner will attend the 77th World Science Fiction Convention, Dublin 2019, on August 15-19.

TAFF Taking Nominations for 2019 Race

The 2019 TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) Race is now officially open for nominations for the North America to Europe leg. Nominations will be taken until November 22, 2018.

Voting to select the TAFF delegate will commence on December 1, 2018 and continue until April 22, 2019. The winning delegate will attend the 77th World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, Ireland (https://dublin2019.com/) from August 15 – 19, 2019, and assume the duties of the next North American administrator of TAFF upon returning home.

The TAFF administrators say:

If any North American fan is considering standing for the 2019 TAFF race, now is the time to line up your nominators and have them contact the administrators informing them of the nominators’ intentions.

Candidates will need three North American fans and two European fans known to the Administrators to nominate you: these people must contact the current Administrators by November 22, 2018 (American Thanksgiving Holiday), informing them of whom is being nominated. Potential delegates will also need to send an official statement of standing for TAFF to the administrators (contact information provided below) listing their nominators, plus a 101-word platform statement, and a $20 (USD) bond fee sent via PayPal to 2017taff2019@gmail.com.

More details about TAFF can be found at David Langford’s excellent website, taff.org.uk

If you are interested in standing for the 2019 TAFF Race or would like to nominate some deserving fan, please contact North American Administrator, John Purcell, at 2017taff2019 (at) gmail (dot) com or Johan Anglemark, the European Administrator, at EUTAFF (at) gmail (dot) com.

John Purcell
North American TAFF Administrator
3744 Marielene Circle
College Station, TX  77845
USA

2017taff2019@gmail.com

Johan Anglemark
European TAFF Administrator
Lingonv. 10
SE-74340  Storvreta
Sweden

EUTAFF@gmail.com

Pixel Scroll 9/9/18 I Can’t Get No Pixel Action When I’m Reading Pixel Scroll

(1) TAFF DATES ANNOUNCED. John  Purcell says it’s almost time to submit nominees for the 2019 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund race.

Since a lot of people have asked, European TAFF Administrator Johan Anglemark and I have established the following dates for the 2019 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund Race to send a North American fan to the World Science Fiction Convention to be held in Dublin, Ireland over August 15 – 19, 2019. Here you go, folks:

The actual nomination period will run from October 1st to November 22nd of 2018. Therefore, if anyone is interested in standing for TAFF, the month of September is the time to line up your nominators.

The actual voting period will start on December 1st, 2018, and end on April 22nd, 2019. The week between the end of nominations and the beginning of voting will give your humble and obedient administrators the time to prepare the proper and official ballot.

A much more informative, official 2019 TAFF Press Release shall follow Real Soon Now and will include procedures and related data potential candidates need to know. In the meantime, if you go to the TAFF website https://taff.org.uk/ maintained by that nice David Langford fellow, you can learn many of these details there.

This race should be a lot fun. If you have any questions, feel free to ask either Johan Anglemark or me, John Purcell, and we will answer them as quickly as possible.

(2) EARLY PROMO ART. Sotheby’s auctioned off a Revenge of the Jedi poster on August 28 (Original Film Posters Online). Note, that’s “Revenge,” not “Return.” They’d estimated it would go for £1,400–2,600. After 23 bids it sold for £23,000.

(3) NO SHEET. Jim C. Hines is on the case —

(4) GREAT AMERICAN READ. Voting at last is open for PBS’ The Great American Read, which has been mentioned here several times. Get clicking!

(5) CONSCIOUS SYNTHS. Abigail Nussbaum’s column for Lawyers, Guns & Money takes on the robotic TV show Humans: “A Political History of the Future: Humans”.

…One core difference between Humans and a lot of other science fiction shows about robots or despised minorities with special powers is that it doesn’t center violence—and, when violence does occur, it is used exclusively to horrifying, demoralizing effect. Synths are strong, quick, and agile, but there are hardly any badass robot fights in this show. On the contrary, it often seems as if synths are a great deal more fragile than humans, succumbing to beatings and abuses that a human might recover from (which makes sense if you consider that these are basically talking household appliances, the sort of thing you’d be expected to replace after a few years). Images of damaged and mistreated synths recur frequently throughout the show, as a reminder of both the danger that our main characters face in human society, and the fact that this is a story where problems will mostly be solved by talking (though some characters, like the belligerent, short-tempered Niska, find this incredibly frustrating). This is a role left primarily to Laura, who over the course of the show’s three seasons embraces the cause of synth rights, and Mia, who becomes a figurehead in the growing community of conscious synths.

It’s an approach that, paradoxically, allows Humans to address much heavier, darker subject matter than more high-concept executions of its premise, precisely because the show is so grounded in the familiar….

(6) WHERE THE MONEY IS. AV/TV Club handicaps the contenders to succeed GoT: “Game of Game Of Thrones thrones: 43 big upcoming fantasy and sci-fi shows”.

Since debuting in April 2011, HBO’s Game Of Thrones has slowly become the defining television phenomenon of this decade, dominating the pop culture conversation in a way no other show has since the glory days of The Sopranos. It was one of a number of shows angling to step into the mob drama’s place, along with Boardwalk Empire, Mad Men, Sons Of Anarchy, Justified, and House Of Cards. HBO initially sold its adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy epic as “The Sopranos in Middle-earth,” hoping to transplant David Chase’s deeply American saga of violence, sex, family, and power to a sprawling, Tolkien-esque fantasy world. It managed to fulfill those expectations and then some, surpassing Sopranos viewership mid-way through its fourth season. Today it’s gone far beyond that: “Khaleesi” was a more popular name for baby girls in 2017 than “Brittany.”

But winter is coming. As Game Of Thrones heads into its final, six-episode season—slated to premiere sometime in 2019—it leaves a gaping hole in the television landscape. Everyone from Apple to FX has pined, sometimes publicly, for their “own Game Of Thrones,” and the model is clear: Find a nerd-culture tome, and throw money at it. Amazon has pledged to invest $1 billion on its prize-horse, a Lord Of The Rings prequel, but, as you’ll see below, this is a race with a lot of horses. There are dozens of such projects in the works, and even more if you factor in the game, film, and comic adaptations drawn in Thrones’ image, not to mention HBO’s own in-house heirs….

(7) HOW IT COULD HAVE ENDED. ScienceFiction.com says showrunner Ira Steven Behr’s idea for “The Original Series Finale For ‘Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’ Would Have Blown Viewers Minds!”

His vision was shot down but would have been a direct callback to one of the more interesting episodes in the series. Specifically, it would have directly gone back to “Far Beyond The Stars” from the sixth season. In it, Benjamin Sisko was given a vision of another life by the Wormhole Aliens where instead of being a Starfleet Captain he was actually Benny Russell who was a 1950s science fiction writer. As an author, he came up with the idea of Deep Space Nine in a story that not only dealt with racism but also was “about the dreamer and the dream and who is dreaming and what they are dreaming about.”

As for the potential series finale, it would have revisited the idea of Benny Russell:

“I did pitch to Rick Berman that the final episode would end up with Benny Russell on Stage 17 at Paramount, wandering around the soundstages, realizing that this whole construct, this whole series, that we had done for seven years, was just in Benny’s head. That is how I wanted to end the series. And Rick said “Does this mean The Original Series was in Benny’s head? Does this mean Voyager was in Benny’s head?” I said, “Hey man, I don’t care who is dreaming those shows, I only care about Deep Space Nine, and yes, Benny Russell is dreaming Deep Space Nine.” He didn’t go for it.”

(8) TREKIVERSARY. On the anniversary, SYFY Wire listed “Star Trek: 6 crazy things that nobody remembers about the first episode ever”. The first one thew into doubt just when the anniversary is —

Canada jumped the phaser and aired “The Man Trap” two days early

Famously, the anniversary of the first airing of Star Trek’s first episode is September 8th, 1966 on NBC, in America. But it turns out that the CBC in Canada aired the show two days early, on September 6th. This little-known fact emerged two years ago, surrounding the 50th-anniversary celebrations of the entire Trek franchise. Larry Nemecek, Trek historian and host of the podcast The Trek Files confirms this: “I was shocked that it took 50 years to penetrate us [Americans]! It’s apparently true. I’ve seen scans of Canadian newspaper TV listings that show it.”

(9) BREAKOUT MARVEL. NPR’s Emma Bowman says “Female Breakout ‘Captain Marvel’ Screenwriter Is Disrupting The Superheroine Trope”:

In a male-dominated industry, Geneva Robertson-Dworet is as rare as the female superhero characters she helps craft. The breakout action-genre screenwriter will be adding a historic project to her resume with Captain Marvel, Marvel’s first female-led movie, due out next year.

Robertson-Dworet, who penned the Tomb Raider blockbuster reboot, has also been tapped to work on Sherlock Holmes 3, Gotham City Sirens and the new Dungeons & Dragons adaptation.

In an interview with NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro for Weekend Edition, the screenwriter praises the lengths Marvel took to recruit a female-heavy team — both on screen and behind the scenes — for the film, starring Brie Larson.

“Marvel really went above and beyond with Captain Marvel,” Robertson-Dworet says. “Not only did they have Anna Boden, who, along with Ryan Fleck is directing the movie … they had many female writers working on the project. They also had female producers in the room. And that is really rare to have that.”

(10) THE POWER. The Guardian says this job is not that f*ckin’ easy! “The YouTube stars heading for burnout: ‘The most fun job imaginable became deeply bleak’”.

…Professional YouTubers speak in tones at once reverential and resentful of the power of “the Algorithm” (it’s seen as a near-sentient entity, not only by creators, but also by YouTube’s own engineers). Created by the high priests of Silicon Valley, who continually tweak its characteristics, this is the programming code on which the fate of every YouTuber depends. It decides which videos to pluck from the Niagara of content that splashes on to YouTube every hour (400 hours’ worth every 60 seconds, according to Google) to deliver as “recommended viewing” to the service’s billions of users.

… As part of its Creator Academy, a vast online “school” covering everything from how to “enhance your channel’s search and discovery potential” to how to “make deals with brands”, YouTube recently commissioned a series of videos designed to teach its partners how to avoid fatigue. (Few of the people I speak to who run YouTube channels are aware of the resource.) The video on burnout has been viewed just over 32,000 times. It’s written and presented by 34-year-old Kati Morton. A licensed therapist based in Los Angeles, Morton has been posting videos to YouTube for eight years. As such, she is well placed to understand both the problem and the potential solution.

(11) DAILY OBIT. I Dream of Jeannie’s Bill Daily has died.

Actor Bill Daily, best known for his role as Roger Healey in the popular 1960s sitcom “I Dream of Jeannie,” has died at the age of 91, his son J. Patrick Daily said.

Bill Daily died at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Tuesday, publicist Patterson Lundquist wrote on Facebook.

Patrick Daily said his father “was a very happy man. He was happy with everything he did.”

…Daily played an Army captain, later a major, in the space program, the funny sidekick to Larry Hagman’s Air Force Maj. Tony Nelson, on “Jeannie.” The title character, a 2,000-year-old genie, was played by Barbara Eden.

(12) COMICS SECTION.

A salute —

(13) MOST IMPORTANT GENRE. If the proof of a fan’s intelligence is how closely they agree with you, a lot of people are going to conclude Harari is pretty bright, WIRED interviews him about “Why Science Fiction Is the Most Important Genre”.

Yuval Noah Harari, author of the best-selling books Sapiens and Homo Deus, is a big fan of science fiction, and includes an entire chapter about it in his new book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.

“Today science fiction is the most important artistic genre,” Harari says in Episode 325 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It shapes the understanding of the public on things like artificial intelligence and biotechnology, which are likely to change our lives and society more than anything else in the coming decades.”

(14) INSTRUMENTALITY. Cordwainer Smith is still in mid-career as Galactic Journey considers his story in the latest issue of Galaxy, “On the Gem Planet”: “[September 9, 1963] Great Expectations (October 1963 Galaxy)”.

On a world composed solely of precious stones, a lone horse wanders masterless through a crystal valley.  The Dictator of the planet and his beautiful heir entreat a young visitor, a crusading exile whose sole goal is to regain the throne of his home planet, for an explanation of how the horse came to his current condition.

Nothing more need be said of this piece save that it is another tale of the Instrumentality by the inimitable Smith, and it does not injure the reputation of the series or its writer.  Four stars.

(15) HOLD THAT APPLAUSE. Bastian’s Book Reviews is lukewarm about its latest subject: “Review: The Fairy’s Tale by F.D. Lee”.

The Fairy’s Tale is a humorous novel about Bea, a fairy who works to ensure that fairy tales go according to plan. Bea herself, meanwhile, dreams of being promoted from a watcher to a manager (i.e. a fairy godmother), allowed to interact with the characters (humans) rather than just being an unseen force that applies minor nudges….

(16) NAGATA PRAISED. However, at Black Gate Steve Case finds plenty of good things to say about a book: “A Celebration of the Wonder of the Universe Itself: Vast by Linda Nagata”

I’ll get right to it: Linda Nagata’s Vast is everything you want epic sci-fi to be: a huge scope in time and space, a compelling look at the horizons of human and technological evolution, and a celebration of the wonder of the universe itself. Vast provides all this, with some truly beautiful descriptions of stellar evolution thrown in for good measure. On top of all this, this scale and big ideas are woven alongside excellent character formation and a plot that builds tension so effectively that long years of pursuit between vessels with slow relative velocities still feels sharp and urgent.

I liked this book. A lot.

(17) DRY DOC. io9’s Julie Muncy found a video that demonstrates how “The Star Trek Universe Uses a Surprising Amount of Paper”.

YouTuber EC Henry has put together a fascinating little video chronicling the history of paper usage in the Star Trek universe, chronologically moving from the original series up through the timeline and noting how the use of paper changes as time passes. In Kirk’s time, fascinatingly, paper is everywhere, and is regularly used for military purposes, while by the time of The Next Generation such usages have almost entirely vanished.

 

(18) IN OBSERVATORY YET GREEN. Let Space.com tell you “How to See the Bright Green Comet 21P in Binoculars on Monday”.

Want to see a comet whizzing by Earth? A great chance to catch one of these celestial visitors is overnight tonight, when Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner will be best visible in binoculars or a telescope.

The comet, also known as “21P,” will make its closest approach to Earth at around 2:30 a.m. EDT Monday (630 GMT). The bright-green comet should reach a visual magnitude of 6.5 to 7, according to EarthSky.org. This makes 21P almost bright enough to see with the naked eye — but not quite. […]

To find Comet 21P in the night sky, look east and find the constellation Auriga sometime between midnight and dawn local time. The comet will still be visible even after tomorrow, but it will fade over the coming days. Its exact location from moment to moment is available in NASA’s ephemeris calculator.

(19) IT’S FEELING BETTER. According to Engadget, “Planet-hunting Kepler telescope declares that it is not, in fact, dead”.

At this point, most space enthusiasts and insiders have said their goodbyes to the Kepler spacecraft. We’ve known for months that it’s very low on fuel, and its planet-hunting replacement, TESS, has already launched. But Kepler has a mind of its own, apparently. Despite the fact that its level of fuel is now crippling, and it’s had its share of mechanical issues, the telescope is once again back to work collecting scientific data and looking for new exoplanets.

(20) CUTTING ROOM FLOOR. Variety reports “Michael K. Williams Still Wants to Be Part of ‘Star Wars’ Franchise”.

Michael K. Williams holds no grudges against “Star Wars.”

The actor’s role was cut from the standalone Han Solo film “Solo” after director Ron Howard’s reshoots conflicted with his schedule. Paul Bettany stepped in and the character was reimagined for the new casting.

“I have not had the chance to see ‘Solo’ but shout out to my cast mates,” Williams told Variety on Saturday at the HFPA and InStyle party at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Even though I didn’t make the final cut, they’re still my cast mates. I love you guys.”

He hasn’t seen ‘Solo’ yet, but “I’m quite sure I’ll get around to it but I’m more interested in getting another shot in being in that galaxy…I would love another opportunity to be in ‘Star Wars.’”

(21) STORM WARNING. Unlike the Mercury-Gemini capsule days, a splashdown here would not mean a happy ending. Ars Technica explains: “SpaceX to launch super-heavy payload, land in high seas Sunday night”

After slightly more than a month, SpaceX returns to the launch pad Sunday night to deliver the Telstar 18 Vantage satellite into orbit. The four-hour launch window opens at 11:28pm ET (03:28 UTC) for a mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The flight of a new Block 5 version of the Falcon 9 booster will seek to loft a large telecommunications satellite into geostationary transfer orbit. At 7,060kg, this is the second heaviest satellite SpaceX has flown; the heaviest is the Telstar 19 Vantage satellite in July. It weighed 15kg more.
SpaceX will seek to recover the booster, which may prove a challenge given the tropical activity raging across the Atlantic basin. Due to the heavy payload, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket will land far out to sea, 660km downrange from the Florida spaceport. There, the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship will be waiting.

Provided the rocket launches on Sunday night, the growing storm Florence—which is likely to be a Category 2 or 3 hurricane by that time—should still be more than 1,000km away. However, another low-pressure system is relatively close by, and choppy wave conditions may make landing more challenging than normal. A delay of one or two days would likely only worsen conditions in the area as Florence gets closer

(22) CAMPBELL. Alis Franklin’s “Everything wrong with science fiction is John W. Campbell’s fault” takes stock of the late editor’s racism and other shortcomings. On the other hand, his immortal novella “Who Goes There?” did inspire this bizarre video:

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

Where to Follow Johan Anglemark’s TAFF Trip

By John Purcell: Here are a couple updates on Johan Anglemark’s 2018 TAFF trip thus far.

First up, here is the blog address for Johan Anglemark’s 2018 trip:  www.taff2018.com The title is Westward, Hi! TAFF 2018.  The blog allows fans who are not on Facebook to follow his exploits. Currently he is on the way to Seattle; his plane should be landing there in approximately another two hours.

Here’s a sample:

I and John [Purcell] left Austin yesterday after a wee stroll through town, during which I bought physical artifacts with music for the first time in I don’t know how many years, but if there is a good record store, I say let’s support it. And Waterloo Records in Austin is that store.

We then took the 71 out of town and stopped by the Berdoll Pecan Candy store, so that we could take photos of ourselves standing by the gigantic squirrel statue they have there.

Secondly, here is what I wrote on TAFF’s Facebook page regarding the results of the ArmadilloCon 40 (Austin, TX, this past weekend) TAFF Auction and my “Busking for TAFF” musical adventure. It was supposed to be a combination concert/panel presentation, but ended up being very different from what we had originally planned. I will be writing this up for the next issue of Askew, definitely, which I would like to mail out #26 in the next week or so. But for now, here is this from the TAFF Facebook page:

Johan Anglemark and I far exceeded my expectations on what we would raise for TAFF this weekend. The TAFF portion of the Charity Auction Saturday afternoon was $146, which eclipsed the $100-125 range I expected. Then today I did an hour’s worth of “Busking for TAFF” and, with Johan’s help, we must have done something right because that raised an additional $94.85, plus items were donated for future sale for the fund. This is a total of $240.85 – which is twice as much as I had projected for ArmadilloCon 40, which had an estimated 375 attendance. Dang! Like I said in an earlier posting, the generosity of sf fans and pros this weekend had me feeling verklempt.

Thank you, ArmadilloCon fans, guests, and committee! Without you people, we could not have done this. From Johan and myself, thank you so much for supporting TAFF and helping it grow.

Words fail me. You people are the best!

Johan Anglemark’s 2018 TAFF Itinerary

Johan Anglemark

Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate Johan Anglemark will soon leave Sweden on a journey that ultimately will take him to Worldcon 76 in San Jose.

TAFF co-administrator John Purcell announced Anglemark’s itinerary in a special news release:

Hear ye, hear ye! You better run, you better hide! Johan Anglemark is coming! He has set up his travel plans, lining up places to see and people to stay with. All in all, I envy Johan as he is about to embark on a life-changing event.

As it turns out, he can’t wait to attend Worldcon 76 so he is attending two other conventions to prepare himself: Finncon in Turku, Finland (July 14-15), and then ArmadilloCon 40 in Austin, Texas (August 3-5). Eventually he will wend his way out to San Jose, California for Worldcon 76.

Here are the salient points of his journey within North America:

25-JUL Dep Stockholm Arlanda 13:40 on FI309
Arr Reykjavik Keflavik 14:55
Dep Reykjavik Keflavik 17:00 on FI603
Arr Toronto Pearson 18:55
26-JUL Staying with Catherine Crockett & Colin Hinz
27-JUL Staying with Catherine Crockett & Colin Hinz
28-JUL Staying with Catherine Crockett & Colin Hinz
29-JUL Dep Toronto Pearson 14:45 on AC7733
Arr St Paul Intl 15:54
30-JUL Staying with Joyce S.
31-JUL Staying with Joyce S.
1-AUG Staying with Joyce S.
2-AUG Dep St Paul Intl 14:10 on UA6325
Arr Houston George Bush Intl. 16:59
3-AUG Staying with John & Valerie P.
4-AUG Armadillocon, Austin
5-AUG Armadillocon, Austin
6-AUG Staying with John & Valerie P.
7-AUG Staying with John & Valerie P.
8-AUG Dep Houston George Bush Intl. 16:36 on UA1792
Arr Seattle Tacoma Intl 19:20
9-AUG Staying in Vonda M’s guest apartment
10-AUG Staying in Vonda M’s guest apartment
11-AUG Staying in Vonda M’s guest apartment
12-AUG Dep Seattle Tacoma Intl 13:55 on AS330
Arr San Jose Municipal 16:07
13-AUG Staying with Sten and Evangeline T.
14-AUG Staying with Sten and Evangeline T.
15-AUG Staying with Sten and Evangeline T.
16-AUG Worldcon 76, San Jose
17-AUG Worldcon 76, San Jose
18-AUG Worldcon 76, San Jose
19-AUG Worldcon 76, San Jose
20-AUG Worldcon 76, San Jose
21-AUG Staying with some fan or in hotel (TBD)
22-AUG Dep Oakland Intl. 18:10 on DY7068
23-AUG Arr Stockholm Arlanda 13:15

2018 TAFF Result

Swedish fan Johan Anglemark has been voted this year’s Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate to Worldcon 76 in San Jose over August 16-20, 2018.

TAFF co-administrator John Purcell described it as “a very close, highly contested race.” Complete voting result breakdowns will follow in an official TAFF Press Release within the next 24 hours which Purcell and Anna Raftery, the outgoing European TAFF Administrator, are preparing. “Anna and I congratulate Johan for this exciting win, and also thank candidates Fia Karlsson and Helena McCallum for making this campaign so much fun and a great success.”