Peggy Rae Sapienza Named Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award Winner

Peggy Rae Sapienza. Photo by Moshe Feder.

Peggy Rae Sapienza. Photo by Moshe Feder.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has posthumously honored Peggy Rae Sapienza (1944-2015) with the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award for her activities in support of science fiction and fantasy.

SFWA will announce a second recipient of the Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award on January 31.

Sapienza joins the ranks of previous Solstice Award winners, including Octavia Butler, James Tiptree, Jr., Tom Doherty, Carl Sagan, and Stanley Schmidt. The award will be presented at the 52nd Annual Nebula Conference and Awards in Pittsburgh, PA May 18th-21st, 2017.

If anyone was born into science fiction, it was Peggy Rae McKnight (1944-2015), whose father, Jack McKnight famously missed most of the 1953 Worldcon because he was creating the first Hugo Award trophies. She attended her first science fiction convention in 1956 and met her first husband, Bob Pavlat at her first Worldcon in 1960. Over the years, Sapienza was active in fanzine fandom as well as convention running. At Constellation in 1983, she and Pavlat received the Big Heart Award, shortly after Bob died. Science fiction wouldn’t release Peggy Rae. Active in local convention running, she also worked many Worldcon press offices and created the modern Worldcon fan concourse.

In 1998, she chaired Bucconeer, the Baltimore Worldcon, and the following year married John Sapienza. She was proud of her role in Nippon 2007, the first Japanese Worldcon. In 2012, Sapienza was named a Guest of Honor for Chicon 7, that year’s Worldcon. She also co-chaired the 2014 World Fantasy Convention before her death in January 2015. The Peggy Rae Sapienza Endowment at Northern Illinois University is named in her honor and helps support the SFWA Collection at the library.

During the 2000s, she became active in helping run events for SFWA, including the New York Reception and the Nebula Weekends. She co-chaired the 2010 Nebulas in Cocoa Beach and then chaired the Washington Nebulas in 2011 and 2012. She continued to help SFWA run its events and publish its magazine until shortly before her death.

The Nebula Awards will be presented during the annual SFWA Nebula Conference, which will run from May 18-21 and feature a series of seminars and panel discussions on the craft and business of writing, SFWA’s annual business meeting, and receptions. On May 19, a mass autograph session will take place at Pittsburgh Marriott City Center and is open to the public.

Visit nebulas.sfwa.org to find out more information and to register for the SFWA Nebula Conference.

[Based on SFWA’s press release.]

Buckminster Fuller, Hope, and Glory

by John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1198) Sir Harold Walter Kroto (1939-2016), with Robert F. Curl, Jr., Richard E. Smalley, and students James Heath and Sean O’Brian as well as Yuan Liu, discovered the Carbon-60 molecule in 1985. In 1772 Lavoisier showed diamonds were carbon, in 1779 Scheele showed graphite was mostly carbon, so this was big news (of course that’s a pun on the size of this molecule).

Proving to be a truncated iscosahedron as studied in the energetic-synergetic geometry of R. Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983), C-60 was named buckminsterfullerene; its shape is like one of Fuller’s geodesic domes. Wolfgang Krätschmer and Donald Huffman, with students Kostas Fostiropoulos and Lowell Lamb, extracted it with the carbon arc technique in 1990. Other fullerenes were found. Nanotubes, a few nanometers wide and up to several millimeters long, have high tensile strength, ductility, electrical and heat conductivity, low chemical activity – could they be used in paper batteries, or even a Space elevator?

Curl, Kroto, and Smalley were given the 1996 Nobel Prize for their discovery of fullerenes; Kroto, an Englishman, was knighted. Two years later C-60, by then long nicknamed the buckyball, was the Official Molecule of the 56th World Science Fiction Convention, another fine gesture under con chair Peggy Rae Pavlat (later Peggy Rae Sapienza; she could only have gotten more wisdom by marrying it). Implications of this amazing astounding stellar (C-60 has been seen in stars) thrilling wondrous moment of science still unfold.

Harry Kroto died on April 30th in East Sussex, England. The New York Times (6 May 16 p. A20) called him “A scientist who so loved art that he named his discovery after an architect”, one way to describe Fuller, who had two dozen patents, whose Dymaxion car and map as well as his Dymaxion house (dynamic + maximum + tension, coined by advertisingmen when a prototype of the house was on display at Marshall Field’s in Chicago) are still barely explored, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and who after all wrote “The architectural profession – civil, naval, aeronautical, and astronautical – has always been the place where the most competent thinking is conducted regarding livingry, as opposed to weaponry” (Critical Path p. xxv, 1981).

Meanwhile ET-94, built as an external tank for the Space Shuttle though never flying into Space, the last remaining flight-ready fuel tank in existence, 150 feet (47 m) long and weighing 66,000 pounds (30 000 kg), docked at Marina del Rey on May 21st after going 4,000 nautical miles (7 400 km) from New Orleans where it was completed in 2001, and was trucked across town past children in Space helmets made of paper to California Science Center where it will stand with Endeavour. The Los Angeles Times (22 May 16 p. B17) quoted a spectator “Look what we can do when we put our minds to it.”

Chicon 7 Creates Peggy Rae Sapienza Endowment at NIU

Lynne Thomas of NIU, Dave McCarty, Steven H Silver and Helen Montgomery of Chicon 7.

Lynne Thomas of NIU, Dave McCarty, Steven H Silver and Helen Montgomery of Chicon 7. Photo by Elaine Silver.

Chicon 7 has created the Peggy Rae Sapienza Endowment at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb using surplus funds.

The purpose of the fund is to provide financial support to benefit the Northern Illinois University Library, Special Collections, enabling the procurement, preservation, and promotion of materials germane to the study of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror and their fandoms.

The initial endowment of $25,000 was made at a Reception during the Nebula Award Weekend in Chicago and represents the last of Chicon 7’s surplus. Steven H Silver, who was one of three Chicon 7 Vice Chairs, will serve as the fund’s trustee.

Chicon invites other individuals and organizations to donate to the endowment in Peggy Rae’s honor.

More Free Fiction From Uncanny 4

Uncanny issue 4 cover COMPThe second half of Uncanny Magazine Issue #4 is available to read free today.

Tributes to the late Peggy Rae Sapienza by Christopher J Garcia and Steven H Silver are among the newly-released material.

New Fiction

In Libres by Elizabeth Bear
Three Voices by Lisa Bolekaja

Reprint

Young Woman in a Garden by Delia Sherman

Nonfiction

I Don’t Care About Your MFA: On Writing vs. Storytelling by Kameron Hurley
Peggy Rae: Friend, Mentor, Superhero by Steven H Silver
The Force That Was Peggy Rae Sapienza by Christopher J Garcia

Poetry

From the High Priestess to the Hanged Man by Ali Trotta
Apologies for breaking the glass slipper by Isabel Yap

Interviews

Interview: Delia Sherman by Deborah Stanish

Podcasts

Podcast 4B

  • Story – Elizabeth Bear’s  “In Libres” as read by C.S.E. Cooney
  • Poem – Isabel Yap’s “Apologies for breaking the glass slipper” as read by Amal El-Mohtar
  • Interview- Julia Rios, Scott Snyder, and Gail Simone

Peggy Rae Sapienza (1944-2015)

Peggy Rae Sapienza at Capclave in 2007. Photo by Ellen Datlow.

Peggy Rae Sapienza at the 2007 Capclave. Photo by Ellen Datlow.

Peggy Rae Sapienza, one of fandom’s most admired conrunners and fan guest of honor at Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon, passed away March 22 from complications following heart valve replacement surgery. She was 70.

Her highest profile achievements were chairing the 1998 Worldcon, Bucconeer, and co-chairing the 2014 World Fantasy Con. She also served as Vice Chair and then Acting Chair of the 1993 Worldcon, ConFrancisco, helping stabilize the committee in the period after chair Terry Biffel died and before the appointment of Dave Clark as chair. In addition, she chaired two Smofcons (1992, 2004) and a Disclave (1991).

People liked to work for her — including some who thought they were done volunteering before she called. Peggy Rae’s unique leadership style combined playfulness, the appeal of being admitted to an inner circle, knowledgeability, and a frank demand for results.

She had an unlimited resume in many areas of convention organizing – press relations, program, registration, guest of honor book, and exhibits. She also felt it was her mission to pass on the skills and experiences she possessed. A number of the current generation of Worldcon organizers called her a mentor and today are mourning her loss in their own way. “I feel like a whole library just burnt down,” Glenn Glazer wrote on Facebook.

Peggy Rae was a second generation fan whose father, Jack McKnight, mother, Buddie McKnight Evans, and step-mother, Ann Newell McKnight, were involved in the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, while her step-father, Bill Evans, was active in the Washington Science Fiction Association. (Jack McKnight is specially remembered for making the first Hugo Awards in 1953.)

Growing up in Philadelphia fandom, in the late 1950s she served as Secretary and Vice President of PSFS and worked on and appeared in PSFS’ fan-made movie “Longer Than You Think.”

She began publishing Etwas in 1960. Ed Meskys recalls, “We traded fanzines at the time, her Etwas (German for something) for my Niekas (Lithuanian for nothing).”

Lou Tabakow, Peggy Rae Pavlat (Sapienza) and Bob Pavlat at NyCon III in 1967,

Lou Tabakow, Peggy Rae Pavlat (Sapienza) and Bob Pavlat at NyCon III in 1967,

Peggy Rae McKnight met Washington-area fanzine and convention fan Bob Pavlat at her first Worldcon, Pittcon, in 1960. They married in 1964 and had two children, Missy Koslosky and Eric Pavlat. In 1983, the couple received fandom’s Big Heart Award. That same year Bob passed away. In 1999, Peggy Rae married John T. Sapienza, Jr., a government attorney and longtime fan.

One of Peggy Rae’s enduring contributions to how Worldcons use facilties is the ConCourse, which she and Fred Isaacs invented for the 1989 Worldcon, Noreascon Three. The Sheraton had denied the use of its facilities to the con due to some problems, forcing the committee to create attractions in the Hynes Convention Center to compensate, or later, when they regained the Sheraton through litigation, to keep crowds in the Hynes for the sake of peace with the hotel. Their solution was the ConCourse which, with the Huckster Room and the convention program, gave members ample reason to hang out in the Hynes.

The ConCourse amalgamated fanhistory exhibits, convention information, the fanzine lounge, the daily newzine publishing area, convention bidding and Site Selection tables, and a Hynes-run snack bar in one place, and layed it out as an indoor park. Fans responded so positively the idea was used repeatedly by future Worldcons, and many of the exhibits Peggy Rae commissioned are still being presented.

This was also when the expression “I mowed Peggy Rae’s lawn” originated. Some of the planning for Noreascon 3 took place at her house, she explained during a 2012 interview. A friend arrived before a meeting while Peggy Rae was gardening and offered to help. In a kind of Tom Sawyeresque moment, others came by and joined in the gardening. Joe Mayhew was a witness, and years later warned people that if they voted for the Baltimore Worldcon bid they would end up having to mow Peggy Rae’s lawn….

The legend was celebrated by Chicon 7. Chris Garcia described how in a recent interview – and the way Peggy Rae used it to get some more work out of him…

At Chicon, there was a fake parcel of grass and a toy lawnmower with a sign marked ‘Mow Peggy Rae’s Lawn’ and the folks who pretended to mow got a Ribbon saying “I mowed Peggy Rae’s Lawn.” I did the mowing, but Peggy Rae refused me a ribbon until I did the [promised] Campbell [Award] exhibit…

For many years Peggy Rae was a key planner and motivator in the effort to preserve fanhistory. The Society for the Preservation of the History of Science Fiction Fandom, AKA the Timebinders, was formed at FanHistoriCon I in May 1994 in Hagerstown, Maryland, convened by Peggy Rae, Bruce Pelz, and Joe Siclari to gather fans of different fannish generations together to discuss the best ideas.

Bruce Pelz, Harry Warner, Jr. and Peggy Rae Pavlat (Sapienza) at FanHistoriCon in 1994. Photo by Rich Lynch.

Bruce Pelz, Harry Warner, Jr. and Peggy Rae Pavlat (Sapienza) at FanHistoriCon in 1994. Photo by Rich Lynch.

Peggy Rae worked 16 years as a contractor for the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. in UNIX systems support, retiring in 2000.

In her later years she was instrumental in supporting the 2007 Japanese Worldcon as their North American Agent. She chaired SFWA’s Nebula Awards Weekend in 2010, 2011 and 2012, earning a tribute from John Scalzi. She was part of the DC17 bid for the 2017 Worldcon.

Just this past fall, Peggy Rae helped me put together a couple of programs for Smofcon 32 and I find it especially hard to accept that someone so filled with ideas, imagination and energy can be taken away.

John Sapienza’s announcement said about her last day and burial arrangements: “[On Sunday] the hospital called us to come in, and Eric & Wendy Pavlat, Missy & Bryan Koslosky, and I were with her when she passed…. She will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with her first husband, Bob Pavlat. (*)”

Peggy Rae is survived by John, her two children, and eight grandchildren.

Update 03/24/2015: (*) Eric Pavlat in a comment below says that Peggy Rae will not be interred at Arlington, but will be buried this Saturday at Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Prince George’s County, MD. 

Chicon 7: Opening Ceremonies

Chicon 7’s Opening Ceremonies on Thursday afternoon began with a four-piece guitar band silhouetted against a lavender-lit backdrop. Then bright spots illuminated the stage, set with a desk and black sofas in talk-show format. The band cranked up and its leader belted out a raucous Chicon lyric. At the end John Scalzi emerged from the wings to play our genial host, the drum machine player matching his triumphant jabs with what Scalzi called “punchy sounds.”

Scalzi preened over his stylish new jacket — “Paul Ryan casual” he said, then promised that would be his last political joke, and it was. He tied his monologue together with references to his being a Worldcon newbie, his first having been in 2003, which worked surprisingly well when you consider he’s in his second term as SFWA president and often writes online as a kind of voice of elder wisdom.

Erle Korshak was the first to be interviewed once Scalzi moved behind the desk. Korshak co-chaired the original Chicon in 1940 and he paid tribute to its other leaders, his co-chair Mark Reinsberg and the treasurer Wilson Tucker. Asked how many people came to that con Korshak said 129, and Scalzi gestured to the front of the Grand Ballroom, “About the first two rows here.” Yes, we’ve grown.

Mike Resnick, author GoH, followed Korshak. He squinted up at the lights and told about his time on that stage in 1991 presiding over the masquerade, unable to read his notes or see directions through the glare. The stage manager was reduced to giving him signals by rubbing his leg. Scalzi reached over and stroked Mike’s leg in a dramatic interpretation which, if captured on video, will doubtless be up for a Hugo next year. The pair also plugged Resnick’s story collection Win Some, Lose Some, released by the fannish ISFiC Press for sale at the con.

Rowena Morrill’s sister, Kathy, aquainted us with the artist GoH, who was missing the con to recover from health problems. She delved into family memories about Rowena as the creative instigator of family plays, and shared that her sister actually was preparing to be a classical pianist before she took an art class and discovered something that fired her interests even more.

Artist Agent GoH Jane Frank told how she and her husband carried out the vision of creating a Victoran room in their modern house and filled it with specially commissioned art showing their favorite elements from the stories of H. Rider Haggard.

Scalzi introduced Fan GoH Peggy Rae Pavlat with copious praise for her work coordinating the two most recent Nebula Weekends. She closed with the story of how her father, Jack McKnight, made the first Hugo Awards on a machine at home after a whole series of other plans came to nought, missing most of the 1953 Worldcon to do so, and ever after referring to them as “those goddamned Hugo Awards.”

Former NASA flight controller Sy Liebergot, a special guest, was introduced as the man who didn’t go to the Moon but made sure others did. He rhetorically answered one interview prompt, “How did we do it? We had a bunch of smart guys who could think straight. We don’t have that now.” There was applause, though Scalzi’s expression matched the sourness of the remark.

Hugo base designer Deb Kosiba instituted what I hope will be the new tradition, unveiling the base on the first day rather than waiting until the Hugo reception. She described her effort as drawing upon the local traditions of architects Louis Sullivan and Mies van der Rohe, and artist Pablo Picasso.

Chicon 7 chair Dave McCarty bantered with Scalzi, bringing the ceremonies to a close. He praised his leadership team, the Flying Monkees, and the 500 people on staff. And he reminded us that astronaut Story Musgrave, another GoH, would be with us on Saturday and Sunday.

Scalzi had a great handle on the event. That comes as no surprise but it particularly interested me to see him gage his approach to get the best from each person, in contrast to many actual TV hosts who force guests to play off them. He joked at the beginning about a part being “all about me” in the spirit of such host, then, in fact turned in a deft and inclusive performance.

It’s Chicon 7

The winning bid for 2012 has now officially morphed into Chicon 7.

The Guests of Honor will be author Mike Resnick, artist Rowena Morrill, astronaut Story Musgrave, fan Peggy Rae Sapienza, and “industry” (it says on the website) Jane Frank.

Mike Resnick has been a dominant figure on the SF scene for many years — just how dominant you can tell from the list of accolades on the Baen site, which begins:

[He’s] the all-time leading award winner, living or dead, for short fiction; and when you add in novels and non-fiction, he’s fourth on the all-time list. He is the winner of 5 Hugos (from 31 nominations), [and] a Nebula (11 nominations)…

Rowena Morrill is a highly acclaimed artist with a career spanning over 20 years.

Story Musgrave was an NASA astronaut for over 30 years and flew on six spaceflights:

He performed the first shuttle spacewalk on Challenger’s first flight, was a pilot on an astronomy mission, conducted two classified DOD missions, was the lead spacewalker on the Hubble Telescope repair mission and on his last flight, he operated an electronic chip manufacturing satellite on Columbia…. He is a concept artist with Walt Disney Imagineering, an innovator with Applied Minds Inc. and a professor of design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA

Peggy Rae Sapienza chaired Bucconeer, the 1998 Worldcon, and has provided leadership at lot of other Worldcons. She assisted Nippon 2007 in many ways while serving as its North American agent. Her father, Jack McKnight, machined the first Hugo Awards in 1953. Peggy Rae was active in the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society in the late 1950s. She won the Big Heart Award in 1983.

Jane Frank has been a collector for decades and has run WoW-Art since 1991, selling illustrative genre art.

John Scalzi will be Toastmaster.

Update 09/05/2010: Aussiecon 4 later issued a very nice press release, which I have added after the jump.

Continue reading

Nippon 2017 Will Party at Anticipation

Peggy Rae Sapienza has shared an e-mail from Japanese fan Tamie Inoue announcing there will be a party at Anticipation to promote the Nippon 2017 Worldcon bid:

Peggy Rae-san,

I inform on joyous news to you.

Some number of Nippon2007 staff will start a new convention beginning next year.

And, they think that they will hold Worldcon again in Japan on the future. Shibano-san is very pleased with this news.

Kodama-san [Tomoki Kodama] and Saori-san [Saori Yamamoto] are the center of new convention’s committee.

Of course, Hiroaki [Inoue] and I are members of the committee.

I am very happy to the influence of Nippon2007 on such an activity.

Tamie Inoue

Hiroaki Inoue, of course, chaired Nippon 2007, and Tomoki Kodama (together with John Harold) ran Operations for the con.

The Nippon2017 placeholder website evidently has been online since February 14, says a small note on the site.