SLF Names First Convention Grant Recipients

The Speculative Literature Foundation has announced its first four convention grant winners.

The SLF is awarding $10,000 over the course of 2021-2022 on a rolling basis to science fiction and fantasy conventions. Grant amounts range from $500 – $1000 each. The application and additional criteria can be found here. $3,860 has been awarded so far to four different conventions. Read on for more information about how each convention will use the funding.

Astronomicon (October 29-31, 2021). Run by the Rochester Fantasy Fans non-profit, Astronomicon is looking to make a return after 8 years of not holding the con. They will use the funds to get more rooms for their breakout sessions at the con, as well as purchase extra sanitizing supplies like wipes and masks. They received $1000.

FIYAHCON (September 16-19, 2021). FIYAHCON is a virtual con dedicated to the members of the BIPOC community who’ve contributed to speculative fiction. Their first con was last year, with 1200 participants and a Hugo nomination for Best Related Work. They will use the funds to expand their programming, including a “Dealers Row” element for art exhibitors, vendors, and sponsors. They received $1000.

Loscon (Nov 26-28, 2021). This con is being run by The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS), “the world’s oldest continuously active science fiction and fantasy club (founded Oct. 27, 1934)”! They’re expecting around 1000 participants, so the funding will help ensure they have enough sanitizing supplies, as well as temporal thermometers, tape to mark off social distanced lines, and signage to use for the con. Loscon is looking to put on a family-friendly programming with “panels, discussions, activities, a film festival, an art show, and shopping with a focus on the science and people involved with the genre.” They received $860.

Estcon  Estcon: (July 16-18, 2021). Estcon will be taking place in Estonia, and it will be put on by the Estonian Science Fiction Association, which has been active since 1995. “It’s about literature, comic books, LARP, films, animations and having a good time during a weekend in July with friends and barbecue.” They received $1000.

Founded in January 2004 to promote literary quality in speculative fiction, the all-volunteer Speculative Literature Foundation is led by Mary Anne Mohanraj and 30 other committed volunteers. The Foundation maintains a comprehensive website offering information for readers, writers, editors and publishers of speculative fiction, develops book lists and outreach materials for schools and libraries, and raises funds for redistribution to other organizations in the field, as well as five awards made annually to writers, including the A.C. Bose Grant. For more information, visit SpeculativeLiterature.org.

The SLF is a 501(c)3 non-profit, entirely supported by community donations. If you’d like to be involved with our efforts, please consider joining as a member for $2/month, at speculativeliterature.org/membership.

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

[Based on a press release.]

Further Clarification of 2023 Westercon Site Selection

From ye olde days — the 1973 Westercon program book.

Westercon, created in 1947, and which in its heyday drew a couple thousand fans, is held in a Western North American city – if one wants to hold it. Which right now is the problem.

In April, the 2021 Seattle Westercon announced it had disbanded. The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, stewards of the Westercon service mark, said they will hold a Westercon business meeting and conduct 2023 site selection at Loscon 47 in November. Originally, there was an unopposed 2023 bid for Tempe, but they withdrew last week.

The situation is made even stickier because the April 15 deadline for filing to be on the Westercon site selection ballot has passed and cannot be extended under the Westercon Bylaws. However, Kevin Standlee, Westercon 73 Business Meeting Chair, explained in a post at Westercon.org it is still possible for groups interested in hosting Westercon 75 to file as a write-in bid up to the close of voting at Loscon – which will be open only on Friday, November 26, 2021, and is scheduled to close at 8 p.m. Pacific Time on that day. So no bids will be listed on the ballot, but write-in bids will be allowed. Standlee describes the process in full here.

Should no bid be selected through the site selection voting process, the Westercon Business Meeting can select a site by a three-fourths vote. If they don’t, it’s then up to the LASFS Board of Directors to select a site.

Standlee’s condensed version of these options is:

  1. Site Selection will continue with write-in bids only.
  2. Site Selection voting will be on Friday only, but will stay open later than usual (8 p.m.)
  3. Any group that files the usual paperwork is eligible to win as a write-in.
  4. If no eligible group wins, then the Business Meeting on Saturday (time TBA) can select a site.
  5. If the Business Meeting cannot decide, then LASFS decides.

Tempe Withdraws 2023 Westercon Bid

The Tempe (Arizona) committee has dropped their unopposed bid to host the 2023 Westercon because the recovery from the pandemic has not moved quickly enough to assure them the region’s fans will support and attend their con. They are now considering a bid for 2025.

They announced on the bid’s website:

With sadness, CASFS and WesternSFA are officially withdrawing our bid to host Westercon 75 in Tempe, AZ in 2023.

This is because of the ongoing effects of the COVID pandemic. While we expect that the country as a whole and the southwest in particular will be much more open in 2023 than it is today, that expectation has sadly not translated into support for Westercon 75 thus far and choosing to continue at this point would put both our sponsoring bodies at serious risk. We cannot survive on local fans alone. We also need regional fans to be ready to travel again and it’s clear that they’re not comfortable doing that yet.

The prudent option, which was taken unanimously by our committee and both our sponsoring bodies, is to withdraw at this time but to ready a future bid for a time when the wider community is hopefully ready to return to a physical Westercon.

Our current plan is to submit an equivalent bid to host Westercon 77 in Tempe in 2025, once we’ve agreed a contract with our hotel in mid-2022.

The bid was a joint effort of the Western Science Fiction Association and the Central Arizona Speculative Fiction Society

Kevin Standlee explained on the Westercon.org that the site selection process for 2023 will be conducted at Loscon 47 in November 2021, because this year’s Westercon was merged into Loscon after the original Westercon 73 committee disbanded and handed the convention over to LASFS, owner of the Westercon service mark.

Standlee also told File 770: “Because Westercon’s deadlines are hard-coded into the Bylaws, we’re not allowed to reopen filing to be on the ballot. Bids can still file, though, and be eligible to win. There will still be an election (at Loscon), but if no eligible bid wins, it will go to the Business Meeting (at Loscon), and if the meeting can’t decide, then as you probably know, LASFS will have to decide.”

Pixel Scroll 11/28/20 It’s Instant Scroll, Not Constantly Pixel

(1) GIBSON TOPS THIS LIST. The Times of London’s Simon Ings picked the five “Best sci-fi books of the year 2020” (behind a paywall). He rates William Gibson’s Agency the best of the year. The other four you’ll have to pay to find out.

(2) LOSCON ONLINE. This weekend’s Virtual Loscon 2020 Panel with Guests of Honor video is available, as are many more panels on Loscon’s YouTube channel.

Writer Guest Dr. Gregory Benford, our Artist Guest Jeff Sturgeon, and the Fan Guests of Honor Dennis and Kristine Cherry have all agreed to be there and look forward to next year. Hear from them in our deluxe virtual panel space this year, chatting with Loscon 47 chairman Scott Beckstead and Zoom Elf Susan Fox.

(3) BREEZYCON. Likewise, several of the panels from Breezycon, this year’s online replacement for Windycon, can be found at Windycon’s YouTube channel.

They include: Breezycon Opening Remarks, Software for your Home Rapid Prototyping Technology, 3D Printers and Lasers and CNC Mills, Oh My, Before Hastings, The Worldcon is Coming to Chicago, Ray VanTilburg Studio Tour, Characters Motivations in a Post Scarcity World, and Staying Productive as a Writer Through Lockdown (the last “About the experience of being a writer during the pandemic and its effects on one’s process and work” with panelist: Seanan McGuire and moderator: Evan Reeves.)

(4) WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS? This time the author can tell you. “Owl Be Home For Christmas” – Diane Duane had to write it.

Sometimes work and life come at you fast, in tandem.

I was taking a break from work on Tales of the Five 3: The Librarian last week, and (as I do frequently during the day) having a look at Twitter, when something unusual came across my dashboard: this.

So: a status report. I’m well into the body of the story now. My estimate at the moment is that it will run about 20.000 words. (If I need more, I’ll take more: but I refuse to push a story into being longer than it needs to for mere length’s sake.)

My intention is to drop the story on both Amazon and at Ebooks.Direct in the early evening (7PM-ish US/EST) of December 2, 2020, to coincide with the lighting of the tree in Rockefeller Center. I’ll tweet the Amazon and EBD links then, and I’ll add purchase links / widgets on this blog post/page: so you might want to bookmark it. If you’re a Twitter user, you can also keep an eye on the #OwlBeHomeForChristmas hashtag there—I’ll use it to post the occasional update between now and Wednesday.

(5) AN INSIDE LOOK WITH JMS. J. Michael Straczynski has started a series of video commentaries about his Babylon 5 episodes for subscribers to his Patreon at the $10/mo and above level.

So despite my utter horror at the prospect of appearing on-camera, because there’s always someone, somewhere (usually in Bolivia) who points at the image and screams, “That’s him! That’s the guy that did it!”, I’ve begun doing exclusive video reactions/commentaries to Babylon 5 episodes for my Patrons at Starfury level or above.

The first to have gone up is “The Parliament of Dreams,” which — because I’m doing a commentary on the full episode, and can’t put that online, has to be done as a home-sync, meaning viewers cue up the episode at home — has gone over remarkably well.

The plan is to do commentaries that are not on the DVDs, but in some cases there will be the same episodes because time has lent a new perspective to the show as I look back on it. So they will be either new or very different from what came before.

Patrons get to vote on which episode I do next. The current poll is Infection, And the Sky Full of Stars, and Signs and Portents.

Should these continue to go well and not lead to unwanted visitations by Homeland Security, I will likely also start to do some on Sense8 and some of the movies.

(6) FAN FITNESS. “Stroll With the Stars: Home Edition Fall 2020” is another ingenious virtual workaround of a convention tradition.

We been Strolling With the Stars at Worldcon for over a decade now, giving fans a chance to spend some quiet time with their favorite authors, artists and editors, while getting some fresh air.

We still can’t meet in person right now… but we can do what we did in the spring, a daily series of short strolls-at-home here on Facebook Live. Tune in to see what’s up in the lives of some of your favorite sff creators… how they’re dealing with what has sadly become The New Normal.

Join us at 5PM EDT every day, beginning November 27! (Or if you can’t make it live, watch the video right here afterwards.)

  • Sunday, Nov 29 — Scott Edelman
  • Monday, Nov 30 — Gerald Brandt
  • Tuesday, Dec 1 — Toni Weisskopf
  • Wednesday, Dec 2 — Alex Dawson
  • Thursday, Dec 3 — Tom Doyle
  • Friday, Dec 4 —Jody Lynn Nye
  • Saturday, Dec 5 —John Kessel
  • Sunday, Dec 6 — Ellen Kushner
  • Monday, Dec 7 — Justin Barba
  • Tuesday, Dec 8 — Alma Alexander
  • Wednesday, Dec 9 — Steven H Silver
  • Thursday, Dec 10 — Lee Murray
  • Friday, Dec 11 — Brianna Wu  & Frank Wu
  • Saturday, Dec 12 — Dr. Lawrence M. Schoen
  • Sunday, Dec 13 — Gay & Joe Haldeman
  • Monday, Dec 14 — Kate Baker
  • Tuesday, Dec 15 — Sheila Williams
  • Wednesday, Dec 16 — Troy Carrol Bucher
  • Thursday, Dec 17 — TBD
  • Friday, Dec 18 — Catherynne Valente
  • Saturday, Dec 19 — Valya Dudycz Lupescu & Stephen Segal
  • Sunday, Dec 20 — James Patrick Kelly

(7) PHULISHNESS. ”The Myth and the Phule: Writing with Robert Asprin” – at the Mythaxis Review, Eric Del Carlo recalls the experience of collaborating with a legend.

Everyone in the French Quarter of New Orleans traded in bullshit. Not the tourists. Well, yes the tourists too. But whatever self-aggrandizing malarkey they brought to town was drastically upstaged by their stupidity, usually taking form as epic drinking fails.

But this guy… No. He’d been vouched for. He was who he said he was.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Asprin.” I shook his hand in the Quarter bar. He lived in the Quarter; I did too. Nothing to do at night but hit the bars.

It was a little of that slowed-down awe of a car accident. I had shelved this man’s books in bookstores I’d worked in. Now I was waiting tables in the tourist feeding frenzy of pre-Katrina New Orleans. I also wrote, in his same genres. Science fiction, fantasy. It was all I wanted to do with my life. But you don’t say that, not to a man who didn’t have to trade in the local currency of bullshit to amplify himself, who could just be who he was, indisputably. That I hadn’t read his immensely popular humorous Myth or Phule series didn’t matter. I understood his significance, his stature.

I started calling him Bob because everyone else did. Some Quarter bars were for locals, and my wife and I went to these, and Robert Asprin would be there, inhabiting a stool, dishing out jokes, witty banter, stories. I was most interested in the stories, anecdotes populated by other famous writers in the field. Harry Harrison. Spider Robinson.

It eventually came out to Bob that I wrote, that I had a good number of small press sales under my belt. Well, so what, compared to what he’d accomplished? But he expressed an interest. He himself had been out of the game for some while. Years. Writer’s block, issues with the IRS. Nonetheless we sat side by side at the bar—he with Irish whiskey, rum and Coke for me—and I enthused about the wonder of writing, the pure elation of putting words together….

(8) TWO HUNDED YEARS AGO. The New Yorker launched “A Quest to Discover America’s First Science-Fiction Writer”. Here’s their favorite candidate.

On November 22, 1820, the New York Evening Post ran a perfunctory book ad that was none too particular in its typesetting:

WILEY & HALSTED, No. 3 Wall street, have just received SYMZONIA, or a voyage to the internal world, by capt. Adam Seaborn. Price $1.

As literary landmarks go, it’s not quite Emerson greeting Whitman at the start of a great career. But this humble advert may herald the first American science-fiction novel. Although one might point to the crushingly dull “A Flight to the Moon,” from 1813, that text is more of a philosophical dialogue than a story, and what little story it has proves to be just a dream. “Symzonia; Voyage of Discovery” is boldly and unambiguously sci-fi. The book takes a deeply weird quasi-scientific theory and runs with it—or, more accurately, sails with it, all the way to Antarctica.

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1948 – Seventy-two years ago this month, Against the Fall of Night by Arthur C. Clarke was first published in the short-lived Startling Stories zine which was edited by Sam Merwin, Jr.  Earle Bergey provided the cover illustration for this novel which has been continuously in print ever since in both in hard copy and now from the usual digital suspects, in three editions no less. A sequel novel was done in 1990 by him and Gregory Benford called Beyond the Fall of Night.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 28, 1685 – Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve.  She published La Belle et la Bête in 1740, the oldest known telling of Beauty and the Beast.  During her life she was known for other works, particularly The Gardener of Vincennes (1753).  In fact, you should pardon the expression, it’s complicated, as Brian Stableford discusses in NY Review of SF 338.  (Died 1755) [JH]
  • Born November 28, 1757 – William Blake.  Four dozen of his poems are ours; many of his graphics.  Here is The Ancient of Days.  Here is the demiurge Urizen praying.  Here is Jacob’s Ladder.  Here is The Raising of Lazarus.  (Died 1827) [JH]
  • Born November 28, 1783 Washington Irving. Best remembered for his short stories “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, both of which appear in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. collection. The latter in particular has been endlessly reworked downed the centuries into genre fiction including the recent Sleepy Hollow series. (Died 1859.) (CE)
  • Born November 28, 1946 Joe Dante, 74. Warning, this is a personal list of Dante’s works that I’ve really, really enjoyed starting off with The Howling then adding in Innnerspace, both of the Gremlins films though I think only the first is a masterpiece even if the second has its moments, Small Soldiers and The Hole. For television work, he’s done but the only one I can say I recall and was impressed was his Legends of Tomorrow’s “Night of the Hawk” episode.  That’s his work as Director. As a Producer, I see he’s responsible for The Phantom proving everyone has a horrible day.  (CE)
  • Born November 28, 1939 – Walter Velez.  A hundred sixty covers, half a dozen interiors.  Outside our field, album covers, commercial and fine art.  Here is Seetee.  Here is Lord Darcy.  Here is Demon Blues.  Here is How the Ewoks Saved the Trees.  Here is The Dual Nature of Gravity.  (Died 2018) [JH]
  • Born November 28, 1952 S. Epatha Merkerson, 68. Both of her major SF roles involve robots. The first was in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as Tarissa Dyson; a year later, she had a recurring role as Capt. Margaret Claghorn in Mann & Machine. And she had a recurring role as Reba on Pee-wee’s Playhouse though I can’t remember if the consensus here was that it was genre or genre adjacent. (CE);
  • Born November 28, 1962 Mark Hodder, 58. Best known for his Burton & Swinburne Alternate Victorian steampunk novels starting off with The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack that deservedly garnered a Philip K. Dick Award. He also wrote A Red Sun Also Rises which recreates sort of Victorian London on a far distant alien world. Emphasis on sort of. And then there’s Consulting Detective Macalister Fogg which appears to be his riff off of Sherlock Holmes only decidedly weirder. (CE) 
  • Born November 28, 1979 – Sarah Perry, Ph.D., age 41.  For us three novels, one a Waterstones Book of the Year, another an East Anglia Book of the Year; one shorter story.  Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.  Outside our field, Naipaul Prize for travel writing.  [JH]
  • Born November 28, 1981 Louise Bourgoin, 39. Her main SFF film is as the title character of Adèle Blanc-Sec in The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec as directed by Luc Besson. Anybody watched the uncensored English version that came out on Blu-ray? She also played Audrey in Black Heaven (L’Autre monde), and she’s the voice heard in the Angélique’s Day for Night animation short. (CE) 
  • Born November 28, 1987 Karen Gillan, 33. Amy Pond, companion to the Eleventh Doctor. Nebula in both of the Guardians of The Galaxy films and in later MCU films, and Ruby Roundhouse in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and Jumanji: The Next Level. Two episodes of Who she was in did win Hugos for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang” at Renovation (2011) and “The Doctor’s Wife” at Chicon 7 (2012). (CE) 
  • Born November 28, 1988 – Daniel Cohen, 32.  Four novels; Coldmaker an Amazon Best-Seller.  Saxophonist. Has read The Old Man and the SeaThe Phantom TollboothThe Stars My Destination.  [JH]
  • Born November 28, 1992 – Shelly Li, 28.  Arriving from China and learning English, she had seven stories published in Nature, nine more, by the time of this interview during her freshman year at Duke.  [JH]

(11) KEEPING THE BLEEP IN TREK. At “Integrated Outtakes”, they “improve” Star Trek episodes by putting back the mistakes. The link is to a playlist. An example is embedded below.

Sometimes bloopers, when edited back into the finished episodes, can add a bit of humanity to characters. Sometimes they just add a bit of absurdity. Both are good.

(12) UTOPIA CANCELLED. “Amazon’s Utopia Canceled After One Season”. Vulture thinks the show was a little too spot-on.

Between the dark conspiracy theories, violence, global pandemic, and impending apocalypse, it would seem Amazon Prime Video’s Utopia was the wrong show at the exact wrong moment. That, or everyone just had a lot going on this fall. Either way, according to Deadline, the streaming platform has canceled the series, adapted by Gone Girl author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn from the 2013 British series of the same name, after one season. The show premiered on the service on September 25.

(13) YEP, I CLICKED. Jess Nevins shamelessly conflates the ideas of “fandom” and “science fiction fandom” to reassign sf fandom’s origins to the women readers of Wild West pulp magazines. (Thread starts here.) Did Gernsback imitate someone else’s successful magazine marketing idea? That doesn’t mean sf fandom wasn’t started through the efforts of Amazing. Nor should it be overlooked that the idea of “fandom” flows from a whole collection of tributaries (see Teresa Nielsen Hayden, below.)   

And Teresa Nielsen Hayden wades right in:

There’s a lot more to learn in TNH’s 2002 post “Lost fandoms” at Making Light.

(14) TITLE BOUT. What won the Diagram Prize? Let The Guardian be the first to tell you: “A Dog Pissing at the Edge of a Path wins oddest book title of the year”.

A Dog Pissing at the Edge of a Path has beaten Introducing the Medieval Ass to win the Diagram prize for oddest book title of the year.

Both books are academic studies, with the winning title by University of Alberta anthropologist Gregory Forth. It sees Forth look at how the Nage, an indigenous people primarily living on the islands of Flores and Timor, understand metaphor, and use their knowledge of animals to shape specific expressions. The title itself is an idiom for someone who begins a task but is then distracted by other matters.

Runner-up Introducing the Medieval Ass, sees the University of Melbourne’s medieval historian Kathryn L Smithies explore “the ass’s enormous socio-economic and cultural significance in the middle ages”. Other contenders included Classical Antiquity in Heavy Metal Music, Lawnmowers: An Illustrated History and The Slaughter of Farmed Animals: Practical Ways of Enhancing Animal Welfare.

… “I thought it would be a closer race, but A Dog Pissing is practically a perfect Venn diagram of an ideal winner,” said Tom Tivnan, the prize coordinator and managing editor of the Bookseller. He said it combined “the three most fecund Diagram prize territories: university presses (a tradition dating back to the first champ, 1978’s University of Tokyo-published Proceedings of the Second International Workshop on Nude Mice); animals (like 2012’s Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop or 2003’s The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories); and bodily functions (such as 2013’s How to Poo on a Date and 2011’s Cooking with Poo).”

Founded by Trevor Bounford and the late Bruce Robertson in 1978 ‘as a way to stave off boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair,’ the Diagram Prize has had a home at the Bookseller and with legendary diarist Horace Bent since 1982. The winner is decided by a public vote.

(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers:  The Mandalorian” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies note that not only does The Mandalorian have enough comedians in supporting roles to be “the best alternate Saturday Night Live cast ever” but as a bonus you get Werner Herzog playing himself saying, “I see nothing but death and chaos.”

[Thanks to JJ, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Kathryn Sullivan, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Andrew Porter, Cat Eldridge, Lise Andreasen, Steven H Silver, Danny Sichel, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pixel Scroll 6/11/20 How Do You Turn The Duck Off?

(1) COMIC-CON ONLINE. More information has been released about the replacement for the annual San Diego event: “Comic-Con@Home Sets July Dates”. As Greg Weir joked on Facebook, “The virtual lines will be enormous.”

Comic-Con@Home was first teased in early May with a short video announcement and a promise of details to come. Pop culture enthusiasts will note that this initiative joins the Comic-Con Museum’s virtual endeavor, Comic-Con Museum@Home, already ongoing.

Although conditions prevent celebrating in person, the show, as they say, must go on. With Comic-Con@Home, SDCC hopes to deliver the best of the Comic-Con experience and a sense of its community to anyone with an internet connection and an interest in all aspects of pop culture. Plans for Comic-Con@Home include an online Exhibit Hall complete with everyone’s favorite exhibitors offering promotions, specials, and limited-edition products unique to the celebration. As well, Comic-Con@Home promises exclusive panels and presentations about comics, gaming, television, film, and a wide variety of topics from publishers, studios, and more. As if that weren’t enough, Comic-Con@Home will also have a Masquerade, gaming, and many other activities in which fans can participate from their own homes.

Although Comic-Con@Home will provide badges for fans to print and wear proudly, all aspects of the initiative are free and there are no limits to how many can attend…. Comic-Con@Home will be held on the same dates as the previously canceled Comic-Con, July 22-26, 2020, and online attendees are encouraged to use the official #ComicConAtHome hashtag to be included in the virtual activities. …Interested fans are encouraged to check Toucan, the official Comic-Con and WonderCon blog, SDCC’s website and social channels, and the official channels of their favorite pop culture creators in the weeks to come.

Follow us on social media at: Facebook: Facebook.com/comiccon; Twitter: @Comic_Con; Instagram: @comic_con

(2) ORIGINS ONLINE CANCELLED. Kotaku summarized a social media controversy surrounding the Game Manufacturers Association and the Origins Online event that was planned for this month: “Board Gaming’s Industry Body Refuses To Say A Word About Black Lives Mattering”.

An increasing number of prominent board game industry and community members have pulled out of an upcoming show over The Game Manufacturers Association’s (GAMA) inability (or refusal) to make a statement about Black Lives Matter.

GAMA owns and operates Origins Online, a big virtual show running later this month that was intended to replace the usual Origins Games Fair (a physical event that has been postponed to October). It was supposed to feature panels, video and support appearances by notable board games people like Wingspan designer Elizabeth Hargrave, Blood Rage creator Eric Lang, Geek & Sundry’s Ruel Gaviola, Boardgamegeek and Man vs Meeple.

Instead those listed, and loads more, have withdrawn from the show over GAMA’s inability, when even the least sanctimonious corporations and sporting leagues on the planet have managed some kind of message, to make even the most basic statement of support for the Black Lives Matter protests that have been sweeping the United States since the beginning of the month.

GAMA now has made a pro-Black Lives Matter statement, but also cancelled the online event.

The Game Manufacturers Association believes that Black Lives Matter. We unequivocally condemn racism and violence against people of color. We have been too late in making that statement with force, and we apologize. The injustices of today demand that every person of good conscience make clear where they stand and we wish we had been more proactive, more strident, and more effective with our voices. Innocent people of color are being killed in the streets of the communities where we live, and it is not acceptable.

We cannot responsibly hold our virtual convention, Origins Online, in this setting. Even if it were possible to hold it, it would not be appropriate to do so. So, we are announcing here that Origins Online is cancelled.

However, GAMA’s apology is flawed say some critics, including Patrick Leder of Leder Games:

Late last night, GAMA made an official statement to cancel Origins Online. Though this statement answered some concerns, it too contains several notable omissions that highlight some of the challenges facing any effort to make the hobby more inclusive. Specifically: 

  1. Their apology has no mention of the BIPOC members of the industry who stood up to them. It also fails to note that those voices were the catalyst for their decision to cancel Origins Online. 
  2. Their plan to make amends by asking attendees and publishers to forfeit their Origins Online payments shows a lack of initiative and imagination. As our industry’s governing body, we expect GAMA to take the lead without waiting for the initiation of others.
  3. There is no actionable statement on how they can work on uplifting the BIPOC community or an attempt to broaden their board or staff, nor does it recognize the board’s failures in this regard.

(3) ROLLING OVER. Loscon 47, which the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society planned to hold this Thanksgiving Weekend, has been postponed to 2021. Chair Scott Beckstead wrote:

With the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic being felt in many sectors, we are not immune I’m sorry to say. The fallout of these effects sadly means that we will be postponing Loscon 47 until next year. We are rescheduling Loscon 47 for Thanksgiving weekend (November 26th through November 28th 2021). We will be rolling Guests, members, and dealer room participants over to next yea

Writer Guest Dr. Gregory Benford, our Artist Guest Jeff Sturgeon and Fan Guests of Honor Dennis and Kristine Cherry have all agreed to be there and are looking forward to being there next year. There will be more info as we re-assemble our teams to bring this to fruition in November of 2021. As always you may ask questions at info@loscon.org and I look forward to seeing you all Thanksgiving weekend 2021

(4) RED SOFA LITIGATION. Publishers Lunch reports in “Briefs” that lawyers are getting involved in the Red Sofa Literary meltdown.

Agents Beth Phelan and Kelly Van Sant and author Isabel Sterling received cease & desist letters from an attorney representing agent Dawn Frederick at Red Sofa Literary after speaking out about Frederick’s response to protestors in St. Paul.

The trio’s response, “An Open Letter to Dawn Frederick in Response to Threats of Litigation”, begins –

On June 8, 2020, we received cease and desist letters from a lawyer on behalf of Dawn Frederick, literary agent and founder of Red Sofa Literary. The letters demanded that we delete our respective posts regarding Dawn’s actions and further, publish retractions stating that “she did not make any racist or other improper statements,” validating the behaviors that we had previously condemned. Failing this, we were told Dawn will pursue legal action against us for defamation. We interpret these demands as an attempt to not only silence us, but to compel us to lie for her. We refuse.

After we and others spoke out against her tweets, Dawn posted a public apology on her website owning up to her wrongdoing, but then turned around to privately send threatening letters to people who spoke up. In that apology, Dawn admitted that her actions were “careless,” that “[t]he authors and agents who may now question whether or not we share the same ideals have every right to feel this way,” and that her “actions were tone-deaf and the product of [her] own privilege.” That she is now threatening to sue people for agreeing with her apology makes it impossible to interpret the apology as anything but insincere. So, which is it, Dawn? You said in your apology that you would “work to be better.” Is this what “better” looks like?…

They are  asking for donations to their legal defense fund, which has raised $12,177 as of today.

(5) HE DIDN’T COME BACK TO THE FUTURE. Ranker refreshes our recollection about an old lawsuit with a contemporary vibe: “When ‘Back To The Future II’ Recreated Crispin Glover’s Face, He Took The Studio To Court”.

In 1985, Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, director Robert Zemeckis, and writer/producer Bob Gale gave the world an all-time classic motion picture, Back to the Future. Four years later, they tried to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. Back to the Future Part II had a little secret, one the participants tried to keep from being discovered. It was slightly easier in that pre-internet time. As it turned out, a key actor from the original, Crispin Glover, decided not to return for the sequel. Since the character of George McFly was fairly prominent in the follow-up, that presented a rather large problem. 

Their solution was unique, but it also got them entangled in some unpleasant legal action. Essentially, the filmmakers recreated Glover’s face with prosthetics, then put it on another actor. They wanted to make it seem as though Glover was in the sequel when, in fact, he was not. Glover was none too happy about this, so he sued everyone involved. 

That’s the short version. The more detailed version is a fascinating tale of an actor desperate to protect his image, filmmakers desperate to protect their franchise, and the clash these dueling desires created. It’s also an account of a watershed moment in cinema history, when it became clear that modern technology was making it easier to “steal” someone’s likeness. The impact of Crispin Glover’s Back to the Future Part II case continues to reverberate today….

(6) PINSKER STORY POSTED. The latest story for the Center for Science and the Imagination’s Us in Flux project launched today: “Notice,” a story about unexpected mail and the limits of self-reliance by Sarah Pinsker.

Malachi happened to be mowing down by the gates when the mail carrier arrived in her ancient truck. He wasn’t supposed to talk to Outsiders until he turned twenty-five, another six years, but he couldn’t help trying on the rare occasions an opportunity presented itself….

On Monday, 6/15 at 4 p.m. Eastern, they’ll have another virtual event on Zoom with Sarah in conversation with Punya Mishra, an expert in integrating arts, creativity, design, and technology into learning. Registration required.

(7) HOMAGE OR FROMAGE? Bloody Disgusting applauds: “These Horror Fans Remade the Key Moments from ‘Alien’ With No Budget During the Quarantine”.

A group of creative horror fans just put together a 5-minute, zero-budget remake of Ridley Scott’s Alien while stuck at home!

Described as a “low-budget, high-cardboard remake of Alien,” the video comes courtesy of YouTube channel Cardboard Movie Co, which specializes in this sort of thing. 

(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • June 11, 1982E.T. – The Extraterrestrial premiered. It was directed by Steven Spielberg. Production credit was shared by Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall. It was  written by Melissa Mathison and starred Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, and Henry Thomas. Special effects were by Carlo Rambaldi and Dennis Muren. Critics universally loved it, the box office was phenomenal and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a 99% rating. 
  • June 11, 1993 — Eleven years after E.T. came out, Jurassic Park premiered. Directed by Steven Spielberg, and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen. It’s  based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. It starred Samuel L. Jackson, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough. Like E.T., It was an overwhelming hit with the critics and the box office was quite stellar. The audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give a 91% rating. 

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born June 11, 1572 – Ben Jonson.  Among much else he and Inigo Jones (1573-1672) composed masques, a theatrical artform now long asleep through abandonment of its circumstances.  At the court of a monarch, or some lesser court, elaborate scenery was built, in and around which elaborately costumed actors played, sometimes in mime, with music and dance, sometimes including courtiers.  Jonson wrote and acted, Jones designed and built.  We can claim at least Oberon, the Faery PrinceThe Lady of the Lake with Merlin and Arthur, The Devil Is an Ass.  We can and should read and imagine them (you can look at this Website to see text); if they were filmed and you saw them it would not be the same as if twenty or thirty people performed for you and your friends at one of your palaces.  (Died 1637) [JH]
  • Born June 11, 1815 – Julia Cameron.  Pioneer photographer, started at age 48, made portraits and allegories.  She said “My aspirations are to ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the real and Ideal and sacrificing nothing of the Truth by all possible devotion to Poetry and beauty.”  Do find her portraits; but this is an SF Weblog, so here are The South-West WindProspero (from Shakespeare’s Tempest), and The Parting of Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere which Bloomsbury used for its 1999 printing of The Princess Bride.  (Died 1879) [JH]
  • Born June 11, 1927 Kit Pedler. In the Sixties, he became the unofficial scientific adviser to the Doctor Who production team. One of his creation was the Cybermen. He also wrote three scripts —  “The Tenth Planet” (co-writtenwith Gerry Davis),  “The Moonbase” and “The Tomb of the Cybermen“. Pedler and Davis went in to create and co-write the Doomwatch Series. He wrote a number of genre novels including Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters (co-written with Gerry Davis) and Doomwatch: The World in Danger. (Died 1981.) (CE)
  • Born June 11, 1929 Charles Beaumont. He is remembered as a writer of Twilight Zone episodes such as “Miniature”,  “Person or Persons Unknown”, “Printer’s Devil” and “The Howling Man” but also wrote the screenplays for several films among them 7 Faces of Dr. Lao and The Masque of the Red Death. He also wrote a lot of short stories, so let’s see if there’s digital collections available…. Yes, I’m pleased to say, including several ones by legit publishers. Yea! (Died 1967.) (CE)
  • Born June 11, 1933 Gene Wilder. The first role I saw him play was The Waco Kid in Blazing Saddles. Of course, he has more genre roles than that, starting out with Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory followed by Blazing Saddles and then Dr. Frederick Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein. He was Sigerson Holmes in The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother, a brilliantly weird film whose cast included Marty Feldman, Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise, Roy Kinnear and Leo McKern!  I’ve also got him playing Lord Ravensbane/The Scarecrow in The Scarecrow, a 1972 TV film based based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “Feathertop”. (Died 2016.) (CE)
  • Born June 11, 1934 – Jerry Uelsmann.  Used photomontage long before Adobe Photoshop.  Guggenheim and Nat’l Endowment for the Arts fellowships.  Lucie Award.  Here is a Boat and Moon.  Here is a Tree Goddess.  Here is his Website.  [JH]
  • Born June 11, 1945 Adrienne Barbeau, 75. She’s memorably in Swamp Thing. She’s also in the Carnivale series, a very weird affair. She provided the voice of Catwoman on Batman: The Animated Series. And she was in both Creepshow and The Fog. Oh, and ISFDB lists her as writing two novels, Vampyres of Hollywood (with Michael Scott) and presumably another vampire novel, Love Bites. (CE)
  • Born June 11, 1946 – Barry Levin.  For thirty-five years his antiquarian bookshop in Santa Monica was a pearl beyond price.  Here is an interview with Scott Laming of AbeBooks.  Here is an appreciation by Scott Haffner of Haffner Press – scroll down; BL is third from top.  (Died 2016) [JH]
  • Born June 11, 1959 – Galen Tripp.  Active fan in Los Angeles, organizing the LASFS (L.A. Science Fantasy Society) 50th Anniversary banquet, 1984; given the Evans-Freehafer, our service award, 1986; moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he is BASFS (Bay Area SF Soc.) sergeant-at-arms, a position they take about as seriously as we take ours.  [JH]
  • Born June 11, 1968 Justina Robson, 52. Author of the excellent Quantum Gravity series which I loved. I’ve not started her Natural History series but have not added it to my digital To Be Read list, so would be interested in hearing from anyone here who has. (CE)
  • Born June 11, 1971 P. Djèlí Clark, 49. Ok, I want a novel from this brilliant author whose The Haunting of Tram Car 015 is in the running for a Best Novella Hugo this year. (A Dead Djinn in Cairo is set in the same alternate universe.) The Black God’s Drums was a finalist for the same award last year. And yes, he has a novel coming out — Ring Shout, a take on the KKK with a supernatural twist. (CE)
  • Born June 11, 1993 – Anna Dittmann.  Digital illustrator, once of San Francisco, now of Scotland.  Here is her cover for Patricia Ward’s Skinner Luce.  Here is her May 2018 cover for Apex magazine.  This March 2020 interview with Affinity Spotlight has images and comment.  [JH]

(10) COMICS SECTION.

(11) JEOPARDY! It was a great night on Jeopardy! if you like bad answers. Andrew Porter took notes.

First—

Category: TV Catch-Phrases

Answer: “Nanu-Nanu”

Wrong questions: “What is Star Trek?”; “What is Alf?”

Correct question: “What is Mork & Mindy?”

Second –

Also, no one could link “Bazinga!” to “The Big Bang Theory.”

Third –

Final Jeopardy: Medical History

Answer: One of the first recorded autopsies was performed on this man & revealed 23 puncture marks.

Wrong question: “Who is Bram Stoker?”

Correct question: “Who was Julius Caesar?”

(12) RUBE GOLDBERG WINNER. CBC says “Toronto family ‘thrilled and a little bit surprised’ to win Rube Goldberg Challenge”.

Tony Round says he was “stunned into silence” the first time he watched his family’s elaborate Rube Goldberg machine wind its way through their house and successfully drop a bar of soap into his daughter’s hands.That’s because it took the Toronto family more than 50 failed attempts and three weeks to make the machine work.

(13) FOLLOWING SUIT. “Amazon Halts Police Use Of Its Facial Recognition Technology”

Amazon announced on Wednesday a one-year moratorium on police use of its facial-recognition technology, yielding to pressure from police-reform advocates and civil rights groups.

It is unclear how many law enforcement agencies in the U.S. deploy Amazon’s artificial intelligence tool, but an official with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon confirmed that it will be suspending its use of Amazon’s facial recognition technology.

Researchers have long criticized the technology for producing inaccurate results for people with darker skin. Studies have also shown that the technology can be biased against women and younger people.

IBM said earlier this week that it would quit the facial-recognition business altogether. In a letter to Congress, chief executive Arvind Krishna condemned software that is used “for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms.”

And Microsoft President Brad Smith told The Washington Post during a livestream Thursday morning that his company has not been selling its technology to law enforcement. Smith said he has no plans to until there is a national law.

(14) RUN TO DINNER. The ancestor of crocodile boots? BBC says they’ve found “Fossil tracks left by an ancient crocodile that ‘ran like an ostrich'”.

Scientists have been stunned to find that some ancient crocodiles might have moved around on two feet.

The evidence comes from beautifully preserved fossil tracks in South Korea.

Nearly a hundred of these 18-24cm-long indentations were left in what were likely the muddy sediments that surrounded a lake in the Early Cretaceous, 110-120 million years ago.

The international team behind the discovery says it will probably challenge our perception of crocodiles.

“People tend to think of crocodiles as animals that don’t do very much; that they just laze around all day on the banks of the Nile or next to rivers in Costa Rica. Nobody automatically thinks I wonder what this [creature] would be like if it was bipedal and could run like an ostrich or a T. rex,” Martin Lockley, an emeritus professor at the University of Colorado, US, told BBC News.

The study is sure to provoke a lively debate. Not all researchers will necessarily accept the team’s interpretation.

(15) JOHN ON THE DOTTED LINE. It’s never too late to study a historic document: Phyllis Irene Radford is in the middle of “Blogging the Magna Carta #12” at Book View Café. Today’s section is about administering the estates of the deceased.

…Those catalogs of chattels tell historians a lot about how people lived during the period and what they considered valuable, due to purchase price or import costs, or how labor intense to make.  Historians love these.

I was fortunate enough to see one of the original copies when it was displayed in LA in the Seventies.

(16) LUNAR LIVING. Joe Sherry calls it “hopeful science fiction” in “Microreview [book]: The Relentless Moon, by Mary Robinette Kowal” at Nerds of a Feather.

…There’s a lot going on in The Relentless Moon and Kowal keeps everything moving and flowing together with remarkable deftness and an underlying compassion that smooths the edges off even the harshest aspects of the novel – including Nicole’s eating disorder, racial issues, domestic terrorism, and a desperate fight for survival on the Moon. Everything is handled with sensitivity, though Kowal does not shy away from the emotion of the worst moments – it’s more that Kowal is such a smooth writer that the reader is in safe hands. The novel leans into the pain, but with a light touch.

(17) YOUNG PEOPLE. In the new installment of James Davis Nicoll’s Young People Read Old SFF, the panel encounters “’The Deer Park’ by Maria Russell”.

This is Maria Russell’s only known published story.

… Still, her low profile does mean my Young Readers won’t have heard of her and won’t have expecations going in. What will they make of ?“Deer Park”?

(18) AN AUTHOR OF DRAGONS. Here is the first of “6 Books with Aliette de Bodard”, Paul Weimer’s Q&A with the author at Nerds of a Feather.

1. What book are you currently reading?

I’m currently doing comfort reads, which means I’ve embarked again on a reread of Alexandre Dumas The Count of Monte Cristo--Gothic quest for revenge is the best.

(19) BAIT FOR CLICKS. Clare Spellberg, in the Decider story “‘Paw Patrol’ Under Fire for Depiction of Police: Is ‘Paw Patrol’ Being Canceled?” says there is a Twitter campaign to cancel Paw Patrol for its depiction of cops, but it’s not clear that the campaign is real or satire.

… Have the anti-racism protests come for Paw Patrol? According to Amanda Hess of the New York Times Paw Patrol fans have (albeit jokingly) called for the popular Nickelodeon show to be canceled as protests against police brutality continue to sweep the globe and shows like Cops and Live PD are cancelled by networks. While the Paw Patrol protests may not be totally real, Eric Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz seem to think fans are serious: both tweeted that the protests for Paw Patrol are “truly insane,” and they blasted the left for “targeting” cartoons.

…This is a long story with a short answer: as of now, Paw Patrol is not being cancelled despite the fake “protests” against it. In fact, Nickelodeon just renewed the series for an eighth season in February, and a theatrical film Paw Patrol: The Movie is currently scheduled for an August 2021 release.

(20) STAYING IN PRACTICE. The Screen Junkies, having no new summer blockbusters, decided to take on The Fifth Element in a trailer that’s two days old.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Chip Hitchcock, John Hertz, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Joey Eschrich, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Rose Embolism, with an assist by Anna Nimmhaus.]

Pictures at an Exhibition

By John Hertz: Here are Kenn Bates’ photos from Loscon XLVI —

  • The exhibit of Rotsler Award winners through 2018;
  • The exhibit (in the Art Show) of the 2019 winner Alison Scott (follow the link to learn about the Award too);
  • A close-up of her plaque, sent to her later;
  • The exhibit about Leonardo da Vinci which had been at this year’s Worldcon in honor of his 500th centenary, our genius neighbor;
  • And a close-up of the top of the Leonardo exhibit.

Thanks to Kenn for his photos.  Thanks to Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink for her graphics-wizard help with these exhibits. 

My Life at Loscon, Part 3

By John Hertz:  (mostly reprinted from No Direction Home 43)  Saturday 11:30 a.m. at Loscon XLVI, a panel discussion “The Asimov Centenary”.

We were starting early, or maybe right; without birth records, he celebrated 3 Jan 1920 but it could have been in 1919.  Moderator, pro author and interviewer Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, with Fan Guest of Honor Edie Stern, Joe Siclari of FANAC (Florida Association for Nucleation And Conventions, sponsor of the 50th World Science Fiction Convention [which Siclari chaired] at Orlando, Florida, and currently a fanhistory Website <fanac.org>, fanac our long-time slang for fan activity), Matthew Tepper the con chair and Asimov scholar, and me.

The panel was billed as discussing “his growth as a writer, and the impact that his writings have had on real life culture and science”; I thought, as Johnson said, those people have gone to milk the bull.

The work of Asimov the SF author was imagination; of Asimov the science writer – his four hundred science columns for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, his six dozen popular-science books – was explanation.  He said he strove for clarity; at both this was his talent, his skill, perhaps we may say his genius.  Let us not turn away to having an impact (that wretched cant) on real life culture and science.  His growth as a writer – alas, I thought he shrank.  I could not think The Gods Themselves (1972) his best SF; on the contrary.  Nevertheless he was a wonder.

Tepper said Asimov brought sweeping stories up close and personal.  That also applied to his non-fiction.  Stern said, he worked out a premiss (yes, that’s how the logic kind is spelled, plural “premisses”; “premises” is the land kind).  He showed how social forces shaped.  Siclari said he could present complex science simply.  He had a spirit of play; not only in his writing, he was active in Gilbert & Sullivan fandom.  I said he was one of our best what if writers.

Zinos-Amaro asked, accusations of his mistreating women have emerged: does that complicate what we think of him?  Stern reminded us these things were no news; everyone with a skirt, she said, knew he was grabby.  She told of a woman in a shirt printed with six-finger outlines who retorted “Isaac, if your hands fit these, you can, otherwise no”; he stopped.  Tepper said, we’re faced with even greater creative personalities who were flawed – like Wagner.  We can’t minimize either side.  A woman in the audience said “I ran a convention; he was very professional.”

On yet another side, Stern told of a Boston collating session in the mimeograph days; just as a man declined to pitch in, saying “I’m a published author”, Asimov stuck his head out of the collating room calling “Hey, Tony, we need more of Page 2.” 

Zinos-Amaro asked us each what one book we’d recommend.  Stern said, Pebble in the Sky (1950).  Siclari said, Foundation (1951).  Tepper said, The Caves of Steel (1953).  I said, The End of Eternity (1955).  Look too for the collections of his short stories and of his science essays. With fiction and non-fiction he had published five hundred books – plus anthologies – plus founding Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine.

In the Art Show the best for me was Elizabeth Berrien. This extraordinary wire-worker was famous among us for years.  Her animals and other creations are in many of our homes.  At Lonestarcon II, the 55th Worldcon, she won Best in Art Show.  As her career grew, she found herself making things for airports, hotels, museums, offices, restaurants, television advertising, zoos.

Chris Marble said “It’s been 21 years since she exhibited at Loscon.”  In 2019 she was in the Art Show at Spikecon, the combined Westercon (West Coast Science Fantasy Conference) and NASFiC (North America SF Con, held when the Worldcon is overseas), fifty miles from where the Final Spike completed the Transcontinental Railroad 150 years earlier; Marble had carried her work to and from the 77th Worldcon in Ireland.

When she’s present, at a party or a panel discussion, you’ll see her listening or contributing to the conversation, all the while twisting wire.  She must carry the whole in her mind, like Michelangelo saying “I just get a block of marble and chip away anything that isn’t a Madonna and Child.”  If you look at wire sculpture around the world, you’ll see hers is distinctive.  It may be unique.

We have fan tables.  We don’t know any better name for them.  Along the traffic flow are people and displays on behalf of scheduled cons, bids to hold cons, contests, SF clubs, to answer questions and as may seem suitable.

At Loscon, the Orange County SF Club usually has a table.  Their logograph is a Space ship taking off from an orange.  To be friendly there’s usually an orange-colored bowl with orange-flavored candy.  I keep meaning to ask whether OCSFC is in touch with the Netherlands national football team.

Drawing by Tim Kirk.

If you can’t remember whether you have a membership in something or other there may well be someone at a table with a list paper or electronic who might, in case you don’t and want one, offer you a do-it-now discount.  Non-profit organizations have to get along somehow.

I had to go off-site three times for errands that took hours.  Half of one later proved needless.  Another could have been avoided, but Life is a continuing series of adventures in which you learn you’d have done better to think of something else in advance.

I saw I’d be late for the Saturday night Paul Turner memorial panel (1936-2019).  High-tech folk helped me tell Operations.  I arrived after 8:30, but I arrived.  Neola Caveny moderated Greg Benford, Paul’s son now known as the Wizard, Suzanne Vegas, and eventually me.

Paul was given the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the LASFS in 1964.  He was Fan Guest of Honor at Loscon XX.  In our audience Bill Ellern said that while Paul is with some justice credited for inventing the LASFS Building Fund (Jerry Pournelle, “You’re out of your mind”; Paul, “Sure I am”), by which LASFS indeed bought a clubhouse, Betty Knight as Treasurer in the 1950s kept saying we should start one but nobody listened.  Paul held salons with SF authors, Jet Propulsion Lab scientists, and like that, for conversation and nourishment.  His mind ranged wide.

Sunday 2:30 p.m., the second Classics of SF book talk, C.S. Lewis’ Perelandra (1943; reached the Retro-Hugo ballot).  I’ll stay with “audience” although I invite and perhaps some would say drag in participation.  Is it a classic? why?  From the audience: the people – and the other characters – are genuine; I asked, how could we know; a woman said, “If we met them they’d be like that.”  She had hit on what Johnson said of Shakespeare (two geometric figures of the same shape are similar, regardless of differences in size):

He approximates the remote, and familiarizes the wonderful; the event which he represents will not happen, but if it were possible, its effects would probably be such as he has assigned; and it may be said, that he has not only shown human nature as it acts in real exigencies, but as it would be found in trials, to which it cannot be exposed. 

Another said the descriptions of landscape were almost as interesting as the plot.  Another: the portrayal of Ransom’s internal reactions.  Another: Ransom isn’t too perfect.  Sean Smith said he wrestles with his moral dilemma.  He asks “Why me?” and painfully answers.  Father John Blaker said, Lewis takes these questions seriously – but not, ran our consensus, at the expense of his fiction.

Unfortunately sermonizing, which might ideally mean inspiring, has too often proved to mean oppressing; we thought Lewis avoided falling into that pit.  Another said a truly loving person discusses.

If Perelandra had anything in common with our Friday book, Asimov’s Second Foundation (1953) – gosh – it might be the centrality of dialogue.  Look at the nearly impossible task of characterizing Ransom’s adversary – and I don’t mean Weston.

I bought Craig Miller’s “Star Wars” Memories (2019) from his own self.  Later, helping take down the Dealers’ Room; dinner; I got to the Dead Dog Party (until the last dog is –) round about midnight.  As it happens I’d helped to supply it – and the Staff Den; at length I’d been made Chief Hall-Costume Judge (the costumes some people build or assemble for strolling the halls; Marjii Ellers called them daily wear for alternative worlds) after all.

Some of us were still alive.  Karl Lembke, chairman (the suffix -man is not masculine) of the LASFS Board and a refreshments wizard, was still on duty.  A good thing, too.

My Life at Loscon, Part 2

By John Hertz: (mostly reprinted from No Direction Home 42)  On Friday night at Loscon XLVI (local SF convention, sponsored by the L.A. Science Fantasy Society; see here) after Regency dancing (see Mimosa 29; or read Georgette Heyer‘s Regency romances – or both) I changed back to my conventional attire and went to wander the world of parties.

I’ve long felt an in it but not of it quality is elemental to fandom.  More usually interest-groups seem tighter focused on, or entangled with, their topic.  It makes us harder to explain.  People ask me “Are you a writer?” and I have to answer with something like my father’s scrupulous reply when we played Guess What Daddy Had for Lunch, “Not within the normal meaning of that term.”  My best formulation so far is A love of SF is the thread on which the beads of fan activity are strung.  Anyway, it shows in our social life.

At our cons we have open (everybody welcome) and closed (invitation-only) parties.  Some of them have a particular reason for existence.  Some of them.  See what I mean?

Drawing by Tim Kirk

I dropped by the Baycon party.  This is the San Francisco Bay area local con, held over the United States Memorial Day weekend; Baycon XXXVIII will be in 2020 (we’re not always careful terminologists: Westercon XIV – the West Coast Science Fantasy Conference on or near U.S. Independence Day, though not necessarily within the U.S.; Westercon LXXIII will be in 2020 – was “Baycon”, apparently the first SF con [in two senses of “SF”] so called: later the 26th World Science Fiction Convention, combined with Westercon XXI, and famous in song and story, was also “Baycon”).

A calendar conflict keeps me from Baycon, although I have friends there, and am an honorary officer of the Bay Area SF Association (Club motto, also Rule 0, “We do these things not because they are hard, but because we are weird”), which was convenient when the 66th Worldcon was at Yokohama Bay – in a Bay Area, and BASFA wanted a quorum.  So I seek out Baycon parties.

To some extent a Baycon party is an attempt to sell Baycon memberships.  (Among our better acts of terminology we insist we sell not tickets, but memberships: not admittance to a thing others have made, but participation in making it.) Why not?  See, we can host a party: we can host a convention.  But also it’s a contribution to the conviviality (good word to look up) of the time and place where it’s held.  I’m in favor of that.  Also similar parties thrown by other cons, and by bids to hold cons.

Some cons have themes.  I’m not particularly in favor of that; I’d rather they had theremins (seems unfair to ask for the Island of Kalymnos dance Thymariotikos, although I’m fond of it).

The Baycon XXXVIII theme is “The future is now!”, elaborated as “This year’s theme celebrates science fiction’s influence on our present day”.  I found that particularly regrettable.  It seemed to draw in the notion that SF is in the business of predicting the future, one of the nastier poisons to afflict us.  Also the current cant of influence too often operates as a nasty distraction from actually looking, substituting instead what other people think.  So I had the nourishingly demanding task of managing conviviality with my friends, making new friends, and conferring about the health of our field.

Down the hall was Keith Kato’s, combined as happens at Loscon with Carol & Elst Weinstein’s, and Kenn Bates’.

At cons Kato has for years been hosting chili parties, some open, some closed.  He cooks up a vat of hot (“To Everyone Except Bob Silverberg”) and a vat of mild (“To Everyone Except Marion Zimmer Bradley”), recently also a vat of vegetarian and, at Loscon, one of bison.  He has not been hindered by his career as a physicist, his achieving a Black Belt in shõtõkan karate, nor his term as President of the Heinlein Society.  In File 770 159 (PDF) p. 35, his own story to that date, I was in his Gang of Four.  If he’s on the night of Regency dancing he knows I can’t show up soon; nor can I fairly ask him to save me a bowl of mild, I have to take my chances.

The Weinsteins at Loscon have hosted Herbangelist wine and cheese parties (on Herbie Popnecker, see Forbidden Worlds 73; he had his own title 1964-67; zeal lasts); Bates has hosted dessert parties, usually with a chocolate-fondue fountain; that they would co-host was inevitable, and they have.

Brad Lyau had been given the Moskowitz Archive Award at the 77th Worldcon (Dublin, 15-19 Aug 19).  I congratulated him.  The Award, named for Sam Moskowitz, is from First Fandom, for excellence in SF collecting; First Fandom is both a historical fact – those happy few active since at least the first Worldcon, 1939 – and an organization devoted to fanhistory.

Lyau had revealed in Scientifiction 61 (N.S., i.e. New Series) that he has Julie Schwartz’ copy of SaM’s 1954 Immortal Storm, inscribed to Julie by SaM – then when Lyau told them he’d gotten it, inscribed by each of them to him!  Gosh!  Forry Ackerman had helped with Lyau’s Ph.D. dissertation on 1950s French SF.  Lyau has been at it a while. 

I was fascinated to learn he’d studied with Hans Küng (1928-  ).  We spoke of epistemology (good word to look up); I repeated my jest that I’d long been an amateur epistemologist – I was a Philosophy major – and now I’m also a professional epistemologist, although we lawyers don’t like to think of ourselves as philosophers.  We’re engineers, too.

Lyau talked of the “scholastic stranglehold” in the days of the Schoolmen, say 1100-1700.  I said that wasn’t really fair to Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) for one.  Lyau said it wasn’t Aristotle’s fault (lived fifteen centuries earlier) that Aristotle’s work became ossified.  I said the poor Buddha (a century before Aristotle), if that expression could be used, told people not to make statues of him. Lyau said the Buddha was a messenger of universal truth.  I had been with a Japanese Buddhist priest during the Bon Festival (rhymes with “hone”; short for a Sanskrit word referring to suffering by the dead in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, which the Festival hopes to relieve) who said “We don’t worship our ancestors, we just venerate them.”

Saturday 11:30 a.m., “The Asimov Centenary”, Joe Siclari, Fan Guest of Honor Edie Stern, Matthew Tepper, and me, moderated by Alvaro Zinos-Amaro.  Isaac Asimov didn’t know his birthday, no records.  He celebrated January 2, 1920, but it could have been a day in 1919. Anyway, why not start now?

Siclari had chaired the 50th Worldcon (Orlando), has long been a student of SF particularly graphic art, also fanhistory; was the 2005 Down Under Fan Fund delegate; with Stern his wife received the 2016 Big Heart Award; heads (although he and Stern moved back to New York) the Florida Association for Nucleation And Conventions (yes, that spells FANAC, since at least the 1940s short for “fan activity”), sponsor of the 50th Worldcon and these days a fanhistorical Website.

Tepper, the con chair and in fact an Asimov scholar, had been the “Let’s kill him now” boy of Asimov’s anecdote in The Hugo Winners; to be fair, Asimov himself didn’t say that.

Zinos-Amaro has on his Website, along with Lao Tzû and Emily Dickinson, Asimov’s line from I. Asimov “The interplay of thought and imagination is far superior to that of muscle and sinew.”

To be continued.

My Life at Loscon – Part 1

By John Hertz: (mostly reprinted from No Direction Home 41)  Loscon is my local SF convention, sponsored by the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society; Loscon XLVI was 29 Nov – 1 Dec 2019 at the L.A. Int’l Airport Marriott Hotel; Author Guest of Honor Howard Waldrop, Fan GoH Edie Stern, Editor GoH Moshe Feder; attendance about 730; Art Show sales about $5,500.

Radiant thanks to Elizabeth Klein-Lebbink for her computer-aided-graphics help with Rotsler Award displays.  The Award is for long-time wonder-working in amateur publications of the science fiction community, the fame of its eponym Bill Rotsler, to honor whom it was begun in 1998; it’s sponsored by the Southern California Institute for Fan Interests (yes, that spells SCIFI, pronounced “skiffy”), and announced at Loscon.  The judges are Mike Glyer, Sue Mason (since 2015), and me (since 2003).

For years I made Worldcon displays showing work of the winners to date, and Loscon displays showing work of the year’s winner, with photocopies and colored construction paper.  At Denvention III the 66th World Science Fiction Convention they were mounted on handsome black signboard contributed by Spike; otherwise on pegboard with hooks and clips.

Recently Klein-Lebbink with her expertise and equipment has labored with me to do both displays on computer-printed banners, which have looked swell, saved hours of at-con effort, and eased reaching overseas Worldcons I’ve usually been unable to attend. 

The 2019 Worldcon (the 77th) was at Dublin; we also made a display celebrating the 500th year after the death of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), who touched on SF with his designs for things not yet possible to available technology, and was generally amazing astounding planetary thrilling wondrous.  We mounted it at Loscon XLVI too.  Thanks to Jan Bender for getting it and the Rotsler-winners-to-date display to and from Dublin.

This year’s Rotsler winner is Alison Scott.  Thanks to Mason for helping wrangle Scott images (I mustn’t call them Scottish, she’s English) in time for Loscon.  You can see a note by me, with samples, here.

Photographs of the Loscon XLVI displays have been promised and no doubt will arrive Real Soon Now.  Meanwhile you can see the Dublin winners-to-date display here.

Drawing by Tim Kirk

At cons I’ve been leading Classics of SF discussions, one story (mostly book-length) each.  Once I did two books together – same author, same year.  I’ve been on but don’t recommend “What are the classics?” panels; I find they tend, instead of discussing, to become favorite-fights.

Sometimes a con puts me on, or has me moderate, a panel to discuss a story.  Most often it’s just I and the so-called audience – “so-called” because, from my point of view anyway, the blood of the SF community is participation.  I tell people “You needn’t speak up, but I hope you will.”  Also I believe the price of having strong opinions is recognizing that others can have strong opinions.

Do cons keep naming me alone because I’m so wonderful?  Maybe.  Maybe it’s easier for Programming than juggling the schedules of five people.

Loscon this year asked me to do two classics; I proposed, and when they were accepted I led discussions on, Asimov’s Second Foundation (1953), Friday afternoon at half-past one, and Lewis’ Perelandra (1943), Sunday afternoon at half-past two.

Perelandra had reached the Retrospective Hugo ballot.  It’s one of few books in our field to engage with mainstream religion.  Second Foundation happened to be the first Asimov I ever read.  It’s the third in a trilogy (Foundation 1951, Foundation and Empire 1952; decades later Asimov and others added prequels and sequels); Perelandra is the second (Out of the Silent Planet 1938, That Hideous Strength 1945).

Re-reading each before proposing them to the con I felt each could stand by itself.  Also I elected taking Second Foundation as a single novel, though composed of two shorter works “Now You See It –” (1948), “– And Now You Don’t” (1950; reached the Retro-Hugo ballot).

I try for stories interesting in different ways.  I think Second Foundation and Perelandra are.

Once a con asked me to do only one of these discussions; at another I did five.  Three seems to be about right, thinking of the con as an artform, its rhythm, its balance.  Some years ago when a Programming chief asked me what size rooms I’d need, I said “These discussions usually draw a dozen or two”; she said “That’s about what I thought.  Not huge crowds; but they’re a kind of thing we should be doing.”  I said “That’s what I think too.”

What’s a classic?  I’m still with A classic is a work that survives its time; after the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.

I don’t think we’re very classics-conscious in fandom.  Not just SF classics; any.

Compare Shakespeare (1564-1616): we know his plays drew crowds; we know all kinds of folk went to see them; they’re full of references to Greek and Roman literature of the previous millennium; indeed if you could read and write in his day you could read and write Latin.

Compare Perelandra, which was written for the general reading public, and is full of references to the Bible, The Divine Comedy (1320), Goethe (1749-1832), Greek mythology, Milton (1608-1674), Pope (1688-1744), Renaissance painting and poetry, Roman history, Shakespeare, H.G. Wells – and Lewis Carroll.  A current that’s changed.

On Friday afternoon, no one wishing to amend my proposed definition, we proceeded to Is “Second Foundation” a classic?

David H. Levine (i.e. not David D., whom I don’t expect to see at Loscon) said it towered above other SF.  Many said its characters were distinct – which is largely achieved by dialogue.  We’re given little of how they look; what they wear; their music; their landscapes; but – speaking of Lewis Carroll – if this is a book without pictures, it certainly has conversations (Alice in Wonderland ch. 1, 1865).

It’s complicated; but it presents its complications with clarity.  It has a sense of event.  It has a sense of the telling detail.  It’s neat; indeed, spare.  It’s vivid.  And if, as Asimov later said, he heard from somebody in the late 1940s that no one could write an SF detective story, he didn’t disprove it in 1953 with The Caves of Steel – he already had.

Then Regency dancing.  This fad in fandom – England having had few regencies, we mean the one of 1811-1820, and the years before and after, since a historical period seldom starts of a sudden – is of course very much my fault, but it came about because of Georgette Heyer.

Her historical fiction set then, thirty superb books published until her death in 1972 and much reprinted – yes, they’re romances, yes I a heterosexual man was so dull I had to be introduced to them by a woman – spark with wit appealing to the fannish mind.  I took up the challenge of teaching the dances.  Fuzzy Pink Niven doesn’t make that eggnog anymore.

So on Friday evening I changed clothes to host.  Sometimes a dozen or two come by, in costume or not; at the 42nd Worldcon there were three hundred.  Neola Caveny, whom Greg Benford had found and who the next night would moderate the Paul Turner memorial panel, had come from Hawaii and had made a Regency gown.

To be continued

Rotsler Award to Alison Scott

By John Hertz: Alison Scott has received the 2019 Rotsler Award for long-time wonder-working with graphic art in amateur publications of the science fiction community.

The Award, established at the death of Bill Rotsler, has been given since 1998.  It carries an honorarium of US$300.

Rotsler did everything and knew everyone.  He sculpted with stainless-steel rods and went house-hunting with Marilyn Monroe.  He drew on paper, mimeograph stencils, food, body parts.

The SF community’s highest achievement award is the Hugo Award, named for SF pioneer Hugo Gernsback, voted annually in several categories by members of the World Science Fiction Convention.

Rotsler won the Best-Fanartist Hugo five times, in 1975 and 1979, 1996 (when he also won a Retrospective Hugo for 1946) and 1997, a remarkable span.  His cartoons were deft, his serious drawing fine, his fluency downright breathtaking.

Scott gained renown as layout wizard and cover artist for the much-loved – no, it’s British, better not say that – highly-regarded fanzine PLOKTA, “the journal of superfluous technology”, PLOKTA being an acronym for Press Lots Of Keys To Abort.

PLOKTA won the Best-Fanzine Hugo in 2005 and 2006.  Scott won the United Kingdom’s Nova Award as Best Fanartist in ’05, ’07, and ’08.  The Plokta cabal attended the 67th Worldcon (“Anticipation”, Montreal) and produced its newsletter Voyageur.

Scott chaired her national convention the Eastercon (held Easter weekend) in 1995 (“Confabulation”, 46th Eastercon, London) and 2018 (“Follycon”, 69th Eastercon, Harrogate).  She will be Fan Guest of Honour in 2020 (“Concentric”, 71st Eastercon, Birmingham).

These admirable distinctions are only mentioned as noteworthy.  They do not of course qualify or disqualify her for the Rotsler Award, which is a cat that walks by itself.

Here are front and back covers Scott did for an issue of Beam (then by Nic Farey and Jim Trash, currently by Farey and Ulrika O’Brien), 

and a front cover for PLOKTA.

The Concentric materials so far released say she is irrepressible.  Brits are understated.

The Rotsler winner is announced each year at Loscon, held at Los Angeles during the United States Thanksgiving-holiday weekend.  Loscon XLVI, 29 November – 1 December 2019, will have a display of Scott’s work in the Art Show, and elsewhere of all Rotsler winners to date.  A display of all Rotsler winners can usually be seen at the Worldcon; for “Dublin 2019”, the 77th Worldcon, look here.

Loscon is sponsored by the non-profit L.A. Science Fantasy Society, oldest SF club in the world.  The Rotsler is sponsored by the non-profit Southern California Institute for Fan Interests.  The current Rotsler judges are Mike Glyer, John Hertz (since 2003), and Sue Mason (since 2015).

More examples of Alison Scott’s artwork follow the jump.

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