June Moffatt Remembered at LASFS

By John Hertz:  June’s local club was, and mine is, the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. She died on May 31st. She was my longest-time friend in fandom.

LASFS (to me and many, pronounced “lahss fahss”; to June’s late husband Len rhyming with sass mass) was founded in 1934.  Our memorial for her was June 28th.  We meet every Thursday; it was our 4,220th.  No one could take Our Gracious Host’s place, but I told him that if he couldn’t attend I’d take notes.

On the way I found classical-music radio Station KUSC broadcasting Chopin’s Waltz No. 9 (Op. 59 No. 1, 1835) “L’adieu” played by Garrick Ohlsson.

We’ve been renting the Null Space Labs in North Hollywood.  We outgrew our third clubhouse, sold it, and are looking for a fourth.  Our meetings start at 8 p.m.  This time we thought we ought to serve snacks, so we did that starting at 6.

We’d had another blow that day: Harlan Ellison. He would have a separate memorial.

Club business didn’t take long.  Usually a lot is monkey business.  We left that out and went on to what the unusually large attendance had come for.

June’s oldest son Bob Konigsberg had been able to visit her from his home in Los Gatos three hundred fifty miles away.  I’d sometimes found him at Moffatt House, serenading her.  Tonight he told us she loved railroad songs, like “The Wabash Cannonball”.

A gadget in Bob’s hand, coupled with one Matthew Tepper had, let us hear from June’s daughter Caty, still on the road.  It’s called Bluetooth, I muttered to Lee Gold, because you put it in your ear.  You know it’s named for Harald Gormsson, she muttered back, quite rightly shushing me as I started to explain that the Greek dance Hasapikos (Turkish kasap, a butcher) is so called because sailors do it.

Caty told us she’d seen how much LASFS meant to her mom.  As it happened no one broke into “Mutual Admiration Society” but we could have.  June and Len were like that too.  Caty thanked us all and said she heard us thanking her.

Barbara Gratz Harmon had married Jim Harmon about the time June married Len.  They had double-dated.  Len and Jim both died in 2010.  Tonight Barbara talked about June.

Barbara lives in Burbank; the Moffatts lived in Downey.  With Len and Jim gone, June spent Thursday nights after LASFS meetings at Barbara’s, and drove home the next day.  Barbara is a cellist in several orchestras.  When she had to practice late at night, June took out hearing aids and slept jes’ fine. When Barbara was on jury duty for five months, June had a key to the house.  Barbara’s dog Leslie loved her.

June became unable to drive.  She passed the written exam but couldn’t see well enough.  Carol Sperling, among other things founder of the Blustering Gales, a local Sherlock Holmes club – detective fiction was another Moffatt interest – told us about taking June around.

George McUrso did some of that too.  Eventually he had, as regular Thursday night passengers, June, Barbara, Charlie Jackson, and Rowan Dao (who was also the youngest Blustering Gale).

In 1991 George (then using the surname Mulligan) had been given the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the LASFS; he was one of June and Len’s nominators when they were given the Evans-Freehafer in 1994.

Like Carol Sperling, he had other adventures driving June.  They went to an Edgar Rice Burroughs fans’ Dum-Dum, and the Orange County Museum of Art.  He learned what a great film Oklahoma! was.  Once at Clubhouse III he was looking for The Mouse That Roared. After a while June thought it was time to go home.  Just then our librarian Gavin Claypool emerged calling that he had it, and The Mouse on the Moon too.  June said “Can we get out of here before he finds any more mice?”

Matthew Tepper said June had agented his Lzine when he lived in Minneapolis and San Francisco.  She asked him to find music for Len’s LASFS memorial.  Tonight he began to play it from a gadget he had – “No, that’s Mussorgsky” – then we heard “I Go Pogo”. The Moffatts were Pogo fans.

Barry Gold had found LASFS in 1964.  June’s equanimity and aplomb, he said, had won her the name Mother Jaguar. June and Len made him feel he’d known them for ages.  Near the end while visiting her he’d sung “Bouncing Potatoes” and told Bob Konigsberg how Poul Anderson was driven to write it.

Charlie Jackson said he’d just finished re-reading The Wind in the Willows when she died.  Comments in her APA-L zine were headed “Onion-Sauce” (ch. 1).  With Len and June, he said, as we agreed, seldom was heard a discouraging word.

Ed Green said there was no bigger heart than Len and June’s.  They sponsored people, including him.  A bright light had gone out.

I said – there was more, but I’ll stop here –  Judaism taught that, whatever else after death there may be, the dead live in their good deeds.  And we should take the torch.

                             

Some of this is also in Vanamonde 1308.

Look around! Look around! Look around!

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1304)

White irises bloom
In dozens, in their bushes.
We do have seasons.

But I must write about death.

June Moffatt (1926-2018) left us on May 31st – kindly sparing, we might say, the month of her name.  She and her husband Len (1923-2010) were exemplary of “The Second Time Around”, the 1960 Sammy Cahn – Jimmy Van Heusen song I associate, like much else, with Frank Sinatra (though introduced by Bing Crosby, whom June preferred).

By our mythos, at least half in jest like much else, they’re together again in After-Fandom.  Whether that’s otherwise true is not for me to say.

I never met June’s first husband Eph (“eef”) Konigsberg or Len’s first wife Anna Sinclare Moffatt.  Each had, among much else, been active among us.

Much of what comes to mind about June I wrote about Len (Van 913).  They were like that.  I’ll repeat this: “Conviviality, hospitality were with Len’s wit, amplified, if possible, by June.  Together clubmen and party hosts – the suffix -man is not masculine – they also welcomed and sponsored newcomers with open arms, and discernment, for them no paradox.  Fine fannish things happened at Moffatt House and when the Moffatts went abroad.”

They were the 1973 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegates; their TAFF report, mimeographed by Mike Glyer, was The Moffatt House Abroad; the same was true of them at other people’s parties and at conventions – which from the fannish point of view are, we might say, justly deemed to be no less than other people’s parties.

Glyer has a fine note about June; he’d kindly reprinted my note about Len, and has linked to it.  June was 92.

I always thought she had good taste: outward from our core, the Oz books, especially Frank Baum’s; the comic strips that charmed us, George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, Walt Kelly’s Pogo – which Judith Merril put in her 6th annual Year’s Best S-F; tangent to us, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe – June and Len were among co-founders of detective fiction’s annual Bouchercon, named for Tony Boucher, so excellent both here and there.

But I was one of those newcomers.

She and Len were active to the ends of their lives in the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society – founded 1934, even then we wanted to be sure of including both science fiction and fantasy.  LASFS (to me “lahss fuss”, to Len rhyming with sass mass) hosts Loscon, where she and Len were Fan Guests of Honor in 1981; they were given the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to LASFS in 1994.  June was Chairman of the Board when Glyer joined in 1970.

June and Len sometimes invited me to other fannish clubs they took part in; naming two, the Petards, which had a Hoist and Hoistess, and the Prestigious International Gourmand Society, which more than once met at a Farrell’s ice-cream parlor, where Alan Frisbie, who among much else hosted the two mascots of the 42nd World Science Fiction Convention, Reynolds Rat and Rat Masterson, at least once consumed a Trough.

June helped crack hazelnuts for a flourless torte I had something to do with.  Hazelnuts are hard.  At the time I quite deliberately had no telephone.  There was a doorbell, rung by a cord that ran down one storey if you knew where to find it.

Moffatt House had, among much else, a plaque “These Are the Good Old Days”.

Fanwriting to me is best as one word; a girlfriend or boyfriend is not merely a girl or a boy who is a friend.  In the s-f community amateur magazines we publish for one another discuss life, the universe, and everything: by the 1940s we called them fanzines.  They may sometimes seem never to mention s-f; but a love of s-f, and a sense of participation, are the string on which the beads of fanwriting are strung.

We did not invent apas, but our first was FAPA the Fantasy Amateur Press Association, founded 1937, still ongoing.  Others followed.  Originally they seemed a convenient way to circulate fanzines.  Eventually apazines took on a life of their own.

The Moffatts’ FAPAzine was Moonshine.  Their Lzine De Jueves (Spanish, “Of Thursdays”, APA-L being collated at but not by LASFS, which since 1934 has met on Thursdays) ran through No. 2084, until the end of 2017, mostly by June, after 2010 by her alone except that Len was always with her in spirit.

She shone with fanwriting virtues, intelligence, responsiveness, good humor, a light touch, reaching the new and the old; she avoided our too-typical vices, retaliation, garrulity, unignition, unfocus; in APA-L, weekly over forty years, a feat.  Had she achieved nothing else she would have earned our awe.  She would have declined it.  She can’t now.

She was my longest-time friend in fandom.  I loved Len, and I loved her.  Writing about death I have written about life.  June was like that.  Goodbye.

June Moffatt (1926-2018)

Len and June Moffatt

Longtime LASFS member June Moffatt died May 31. June’s son Bob Konigsberg announced her passing on Facebook. She was 92.

June attended her first LASFS meeting 1947. By the time I joined in 1970 she was chair of the Board of Directors. Her maturity, compassion, and wisdom made her one of the club’s most admired and respected members.

June married Eph Konigsberg in 1949 and together they had three children Robert (Bob), Katie, and Jerry. June had little opportunity to visit the club for the next decade. After June and Eph divorced in 1964 she resumed going to LASFS meetings. That also was the year the club started APA-L, the weekly amateur publishing association, and June became a faithful contributor for decades.

Fred Pattenn and June Moffatt collating APA-L.

Len Moffatt, himself a LASFS member since 1946, married June in 1966. They both participated in club leadership, alternating terms on the LASFS Board of Directors, and serving in other offices.

Len and June were elected the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegates in 1973. Their TAFF trip report, The Moffatt House Abroad, which I mimeographed and slip-sheeted on the LASFS mimeo (!), for thirty years enjoyed the distinction of being the only full-length North American TAFF report completed and published.

Len and June also were active in mystery fandom. In 1965 they started publishing The JDM Bibliophile, about John D. MacDonald (who wrote in multiple genres, but was especially known for his Travis McGee detective series). And as Sherlock Holmes aficianados, they were members in the Blustering Gales of the SW and the Curious Collectors of Baker St.

In 1970, they co-founded Bouchercon, and chaired three of them. Today the convention is called Bouchercon: World Mystery Convention.

June in the 1970s. Photo by Bill Warren.

As part of another subfandom, she and Len were charter members of the Los Angeles SubERBs chapter of the Burroughs Bibliophiles.

They were jointly celebrated as guests of honor at Loscon 8 (1981), Bouchercon 16 (1985), and Tra-La-La Con (1997). LASFS gave them its Evans-Freehafer service award in 1994.

And at LASFS’s seventy-fifth anniversary in 2009, the couple presented “LASFS ALIVE AT 75!” in rhyme and prose.

JUNE:

In Nineteen Forty-Seven I got a treat
And was taken to the LASFS on Bixel Street.
I met Forry Ackerman, van Vogt and more
Science-fiction fans by the score.

Only a year later, Len predeceased her.

John Hertz and June Moffatt at the LASFS memorial for Len Moffatt.

After that June remained as active in the club as health permitted.

Following two hospitalizations in March of this year she entered hospice care. Her family reports that on May 31 she went peacefully. Her remains will be cremated.

[Thanks to Lee Gold for her help with this story – but any errors are mine!]

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.]

Still in Wonderland

By John Hertz:  The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, my local club, has been meeting every Thursday over eighty years.  Most of us rhyme “LASFS” with joss fuss although Len Moffatt always rhymed it with sass mass.

People often come for the business meeting and leave before the program.  That’s because our business is monkey business.  We have strange motions – I mean, in the parliamentary sense; File 770 is a public forum – and auctions.  Maybe your club does also.

Last night the program was Harlan Ellison.  Of course the room was crammed.

We didn’t call it “An Evening with Harlan Ellison”.  We didn’t call it anything.  He told us he’d like to come by, didn’t mind if we let people know, and would gladly take questions and give autographs if we didn’t make a performing elephant of him.  I paraphrase.

Of course he’s a LASFS member.  While he’s become a tremendous celebrity as a pro he’s also a fan.  Among many other things he brought about the faithful contributions of Nalrah Nosille to Science Fiction Five-Yearly – published on time for sixty years – until the very last issue.

Of course he’s good at telling stories – he says Whoopi Goldberg, a friend of his, is too –  and so many of us wanted to hear him we ended up seating him at a table on a platform with most everyone just listening.  It was all right.

Our current clubhouse (our third; we outgrew two others) also has a social hall, a computer-game room, and our library.  We even have a Null Space; one very able member was Bob Null.  Fans also hung around these spaces from time to time, including John DeChancie, me, and Harlan’s wife Susan who is herself a wonder.  He couldn’t; he was busy.  But it was all right.  In fact it was a gas.

I don’t know if Harlan was born in a cross-fire hurricane.  He was however reading by two – maybe you were also – and like many of the quick and the young he perceived and might answer more than he yet grasped.  Once someone told him “Don’t hock me a chainik” (a Yiddishism, literally don’t bang me a teapot = make such a fuss) and he said “Okay, I’ll pawn you in Poughkeepsie.”

Dennis the Menace, he said, to him was Goldilocks.

Later he served in the Army.  Just conceiving of this roused our imagination.  He was court-martialed fifteen times.  Acquitting him, which always happened, didn’t seem to make things much better.  At the end of his active duty he found nothing in his folder about where he was to go for reserve duty.  Everyone else had an assignment.  He asked.  They said “Just go away.”

Some of the legends about him never happened.  He is not always the calmest man in the world and he has found their recurrence troubling.  He told of a fellow who during another question time asked “Why did you drop that chandelier on those people?”  To that man, and to us, he explained what he’d have had to do to get at a chandelier, to detach it, and to drop it.  And what would those people have been doing in the meantime?  And what place would he have had to stand on to wield that lever and move that world?  I paraphrase.

Finally Susan, in her role as Mary Poppins, said it was time to go home.  Of course there were new books and we wanted to buy them.  Of course he preferred to sell some but was almost apologetic.  Finally Jerry Pournelle managed it by asking “Harlan, if they buy your books will you tell us why you dropped that chandelier?”  We all cracked up and it was all right.

Hertz: He Was a Lion – Len Moffatt 1923-2010

By John Hertz (reprinted from Vanamonde 913): I gave him a gilt bottle of mimeograph correction fluid for his 50th birthday. I dressed as Auguste Dupin for him in a presentation at the detective-fiction convention Bouchercon the year he co-chaired. I drank Chivas Regal with him. Len Moffatt was of First Fandom, that happy band active among us at least as early as the first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939. Born in Arizona, by his teens he was a founder of the Western Pennsylvania Science Fictioneers, doing fanzines – a word not yet invented – and corresponding with fans around the United States and United Kingdom. In World War II he joined the Navy like his ancestors and served as a hospital-corpsman with the Marines; he was in Nagasaki after the atomic bomb. In 1946 he joined the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. He always pronounced LASFS to rhyme with mass sass. He did a lot of rhyming, sometimes as the clown Pike Pickens, sometimes clowning himself.

Some fans sell s-f, some become quite active as pros. In 1949 the LASFS began a yearly Fanquet honoring the member who sold the most words in the previous year. Moffatt tied for that honor in 1951. In 2004 the LASFS gave him its Forry Award, named after Forry Ackerman, for lifetime achievement in s-f, putting him in the company of Ray Bradbury, Kelly Freas, and C.L. Moore. In 2008 his poem “What a Friend We Have in Sherlock” appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Detective fiction has long been our next-door neighbor. Bouchercon, of which Len and his second wife June were co-founders, was named for Tony Boucher, a top and if I may say so tony editor and author there and here. It gave them its Anthony Award for lifetime achievement in 1999.

Len was probably Rick Sneary’s best friend. Both were active in the Outlanders, one of the many s-f clubs outside the LASFS – often overlapping the LASFS membership – that have flourished from time to time. Sneary lived in South Gate. In 1948 he began, first as a joke, the slogan South Gate in ’58. It caught on. The Worldcon moves around so as to be each year in someone’s back yard. In 1957 the con was in London. It voted for South Gate. Be careful what you wish. Luckily the mayors of South Gate and Los Angeles by joint proclamation constituted the premises of the Hotel Alexandria as South Gate for the duration and purposes of the Worldcon. The con was called “Solacon” in honor of the combination. It also combined with that year’s Westercon, the West Coast Science Fantasy Conference. Len was in the thick of it all. A decade and a half later he was Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XXV.

Besides fanzines we have apas, amateur publishing associations, which distribute fanzines. We did not invent apas but we gave them our own life. Our first was the Fantasy Amateur Press Association, older than Worldcons. The distinction between science fiction and fantasy has long been known and blurred. The Moffatt FAPAzine was Moonshine. This was appropriate. Among Len’s achievements was fan fiction – in our sense, i.e. fiction about fans – that Terry Carr thought was factual anecdote. Len and June were in APA-L, much younger than FAPA, over thirty years until Len’s death. June still is.

Conviviality, hospitality were with Len’s wit, amplified, if possible, by June. Together clubmen and party hosts – the suffix -man is not masculine – they also welcomed and sponsored newcomers with open arms, and discernment, for them no paradox. Fine fannish things happened at Moffatt House and when the Moffatts went abroad. They went well abroad in 1973 as the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegates, nominated by Terry Jeeves, Ethel Lindsay, Juanita Coulson. Fred Patten, and Roy Tackett. attending the British national s-f con, and publishing their TAFF report in good time. In 1981 they were Fan Guests of Honor at our local s-f con Loscon. In 1994 they were given the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the LASFS. Shortly before I had the honor of co-editing with them the Rick Sneary memorial fanzine Button-Tack. It seems like yesterday.

He was a lion. I loved him. Good-bye.

Len Moffatt Passes Away

Len Moffatt died around 3 a.m. on November 30 reports June, his wife. He was 87.

Dave Locke adds, “June had been keeping some folks informed on Len’s hospital adventures with emails having the subject ‘Len’s Progress Report.’  This one was entitled ‘Len’s Progress Report – FINAL.’”

Len went into the hospital on November 19 with extreme abdominal pain. He had been operated on for herniated colon.

It’s a huge loss for June and all of Len’s friends from the two fandoms where he’s been active since the beginning. Len discovered SF fandom in 1939 and joined the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society in April 1946. Len and June Moffatt were Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegates in 1973. Fans in the mystery field will miss him too, as a participant in Bouchercons and as a writer (his most recent sales were to Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine).

1972 Westercon GoHs, Lloyd Biggle Jr. (pro) and Len Moffatt (fan)

LASFS Website Posts Moffatt Photos

Rick Sneary, Roy Tackett, Takumi Shibano, Sachiko Shibano 

Above: Rick Sneary, Roy Tackett, Takumi Shibano and Sachiko Shibano enjoying the 1968 Worldcon.

The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society website now boasts dozens of fanhistorically important photos from the collection of Len and June Moffatt. What a trip in the Wayback Machine!

These photos from the end of the Sixties are a window into cons and events people were still talking about when I joined LASFS in 1970. Some are pictures of fans who made themselves unforgettable in ways good and bad but I only heard about because they vanished from the club before I arrived.

For example, they were still taking about the club’s  1965 Halloween Party. Not that you’d know it from the pictures, but this infamous party was interrupted by gunshots fired from outside into the building. Dian Pelz (later Crayne) was slightly hurt by flying wood splinters. One bullet passed between Dian and Bill Rotsler as they sat talking. A possible cause is that two crashers had been evicted from the party earlier in the evening. Police came and took down information, but no arrests ever made.

Here you can see the highlights of FunCon I in 1968 (which I recently mentioned in co-chair Chuck Crayne’s obituary.) They include a rare photo of Flieg Hollander, whose claim to fame includes mathematically proving Larry Niven’s Ringworld is unstable (the launching point for a sequel).

And there are a lot of interesting photos of well-known fans from back in the day. He’s a fannish legend, but have you ever seen a picture of the late Elmer Perdue? Or Locus’ Charles N. Brown, Marsha Elkin Brown and Elliott Shorter in their prime?

Here’s a photo of Ray Bradbury talking to Leigh Brackett.

And this is probably the fuzziest, pinkest photo ever taken of Fuzzy Pink Niven.

There are shots of fans paying tribute to Star Trek at the 1966 Worldcon (Tricon), and of William Shatner mingling.

There are photos from any number of Westercons: the 1965 Westercon, 1966 Westercon, 1967 Westercon, 1969 Westercon, 1970 Westercon, and 1972 Westercon. Why no pictures from a 1968 Westercon? Because after winning their 1968 Westercon bid the same group successfully bid for the Worldcon and held a single con to satisfy both, BayCon, the 1968 Worldcon. From that Worldcon: Void Boys Ted White and Greg Benford;  Bob Bloch, Betty Farmer, and John W. Campbell, Jr. having cocktails; and from the masquerade, Cory Seidman (later Panshin) as a Corflu Bottle

There are quite a few pictures documenting the LASFS’ efforts to buy its first clubhouse. Bruce Pelz led the LASFS to reorganize as a nonprofit corporation as a step in acquiring a clubhouse. These pictures were taken at the first LASFS Board of Directors Meeting in 1972, held in Milt Stevens’ apartment. (I was there!)

LASFS bought its first clubhouse the following year, a property on Ventura Boulevard. Most of these shots are of fans refurbishing it.

[Thanks to Lee Gold for the story.]