Ray Harryhausen Tribute at Philcon

By Steve Vertlieb: Here are photos from my memorial tribute to old friend and special effects genius Ray Harryhausen on November 19 at Philcon, the annual convention of The Philadelphia Science Fiction Society.

The one-hour remembrance and celebration of Ray’s life and career was a belated opportunity to share memories of a nearly fifty-year friendship with a well-attended audience of fans and admirers throughout the East Coast. Happily, a most successful and well attended event.

Steve Vertlieb displays photo of his younger self with Ray Harryhausen.

Steve Vertlieb displays photo of his younger self with Ray Harryhausen.


Displaying my personal invitation to Ray Harryhausen’s private memorial service in London during the one hour tribute to the immortal film maker at Philcon.


With pal and fellow panelist Richard Stout during the highly successful panel.


Huett: The 1953 “Hugo Awards”

By Kim Huett: It is my usual practice when a topic of fannish interest comes up to wherever possible to go direct to sources. Usually this means having a quick rummage through my collection to see what it might reveal. In regards to the question of the 1953 Hugo awards handed out at the Sunday Evening Banquet (held September 6 between 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. in the main ballroom according to the program book) I turned to Fantasy Times. Whatever one thinks of James V. Taurasi (and opinions on that topic tend towards the colorful) it’s hard to deny that his newzine was the fanzine of record at the time.

[Kim sent scans from issues of Fantasy Times, excerpted below.] These selections from Fantasy Times add further evidence to the argument that the Fan Personality Award was voted on in exactly the same way and indeed on the same ballot as all the other awards. On the other hand Taurasi’s reportage on the convention doesn’t confirm that categories were dropped due to a shortage of votes. Instead he claims the problem was a matter of no clear winners which does seem every bit as likely as Warner’s lack of votes suggestion.

Fantasy Times, September 1953.

The winners of the Awards were: #1 Fan Personality: Forrest J Ackerman, who turned it down and gave it to Ken Slater of England. Bert Campbell will bring it back to England with him and present it to Slater.

There were no awards for short stories, novelettes or fan magazines, as there was no clear cut vote on these; too many named with too little vote for each.

It’s also interesting to note that even before the convention was held Lyle Kessler felt he had to issue a statement explaining the awards weren’t called the Hugos. He also seems to be capitulating on the topic and accepting the awards be called Hugos though I suppose you can’t call that an official naming.

Fantasy Times, August 2, 1953.

Lyle Kessler: There is no official name for the Awards themselves. It seems the word got around that they were to be called “Hugos” (after the father of science fiction, Hugo Gernsback). That isn’t so. If fans decide that “Hugos” are the proper name for the Awards they they shall be called “Hugos”.

I hope all this adds to your understanding of the matter.

[Thanks to Kim for sharing his research!]

Mark Plummer on Hugo History

At Renovation I attended “How Did We get to Where We Are? A Brief History of the Hugos” with Vincent Docherty, Janice Gelb, Rich Lynch and Mark Plummer, who each contributed interesting stories and exotic trivia.

The fascinating research Mark Plummer shared from 1953 Worldcon progress reports with the committee’s explanation of its newly-invented award is further discussed in his column for the August 1 Strange Horizons, “Rockets in Reno.”

For example, I had never before heard that the 1953 committee encouraged participation by announcing in-progress voting results. Mark says in his column:

Progress report 4 was issued on 1 August 1953 and contain[ed] an update on the voting…. We can see, then, that about four weeks out The Demolished Man was leading over The Long Loud Silence for novel; “old-timer Forrest J Ackerman and new-timer Harlan Ellison” were splitting the votes for Fan Personality….

While remarkable in its own right – such a practice would set off a riot in the blogosphere nowadays – Mark’s information could have been used to immediately settle an old argument if anyone had been aware of it at the time: the question of whether Forry Ackerman’s first Hugo had really been voted by members or was merely the equivalent of today’s committee awards? (See “Ackerman’s Hugo” and “Listing to the Other Side” from 2009.) Since Ackerman and Ellison were “splitting votes for Fan Personality” clearly there’s no room for doubt that the award was put to a vote.

If you have an interest in this slice of fanhistory Mark’s column is well worth your time.

Tom Purdom’s Philcon Report

Tom Purdom describes Philcon, and science fiction conventions generally, in his recent post on the Broad Street Review. He begins with a great hook:

The “Women in Science” panel at the recent Philadelphia Science Fiction Conference attracted some ten women, all scientists or technologists. The moderator was a NASA astrophysicist, and the audience included a nuclear engineer and a molecular biologist who had switched to medicine after several years in pure research. All had overcome the barriers that confront women scientists, including the junior high “Boys don’t like smart girls” syndrome. They had stuck it out, from what they said, primarily because they’d become fascinated by a scientific field when they were young and decided they would work in it no matter what.

All the women on that panel, incidentally, cited science fiction as one of the reasons they became interested in science and technology. Nobody ever became a wizard because they read fantasy.  But plenty of people have become physicists and biologists because they read science fiction.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the link.]