Vote for the Faned Awards

Sample Faned Awards certificate by Taral Wayne.

Example of 2011 Faned Awards certificate by Taral Wayne.

Voting in the fifth annual Faned Awards is open until September 28, 2015.

Created by R. Graeme Cameron, the award recognizes excellence in Canadian fanzines – no matter where the contributor is from.

  • Anyone of any nationality who contributed to Canadian Fanzines is eligible.
  • Anyone of any nationality who reads Canadian SFF&F Fanzines may vote.

There are five categories: Best Artist, Best Writer, Best Letter of Comment Writer, Best Canadian Fanzine (which are voted on by readers) and Hall of Fame (which is juried).

Winners receive a certificate illustrated by Taral Wayne and, eventually, once an inexpensive method of reproduction is established, a magnificent “Faned” sculpture designed by Eric Chu and sculpted by Lawrence Prime.

Says the Graeme —

In an era when science fiction fandom has gone mainstream (a good thing by the way) the “Faneds” remain devoted to celebrating traditional science fiction fanzine fandom (also a good thing) in Canada (in terms of publications) and throughout the world (in terms of contributors).

Past issues of the award newsletter, The Fanactical Fanactivist, can be found at eFanzines.

Voting is done manually – mark the eligibility list below and e-mail the text to Cameron at — rgraeme(at)shaw.ca

Instructions and eligibility list follows the jump.

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Rosetta Finds Another Stone

Boulder_flying_by_cometBy Taral Wayne: Remember those science fiction movies where a spaceship in the asteroid belt would be pelted by fist-sized rocks and be forced to dodge tumbling boulders ranging in size from VW vans to small states?  In reality, spaceships pass through the asteroid belt without seeing so much as as a speck of dust, except by using very long distance cameras. Space is empty, dude!  Even the crowded bits are mostly empty vacuum. However, the cameras of the Rosetta spacecraft have caught a very rare bit of footage recently, yet somehow the media has missed it entirely!

Here is footage of a large boulder passing by Comet 67P at the end of July. ESA scientists don’t know how large it is because they can’t estimate its distance accurately.  Their guesses put it at between roughly 1 and 50 meters … approximately between 3 and 165 feet. It is too large, and its trajectory obviously rules out the comet as its origin, so it appears to be a genuine piece of the inner edge of the asteroid belt going by.  It must be in a similar orbit, as the relative velocities are not high.

For Further Consideration…

The Furry Future cover COMPThe Furry Future: 19 Possible Prognostications; Edited by Fred Patten, Fur Planet Productions, January 2015; trade paperback $19.95 (445 pages). Retails on Amazon for $17.56, but the Kindle edition is $8 even.

Review by Taral Wayne: What is a book?  That question seems either too elementary or too profound to be answered by me.  Nevertheless, the question cannot be evaded while trying to review this particular book.

Its editor, Fred Patten, sent it to me for a review.  Fred has about as many oars in the water as the average trireme, and furry fandom is only one of those small ponds into which Fred puts his greatest effort.  He has edited and published five or six books along the same lines as The Furry Future, as well as on other subjects.

Is The Furry Future a book?  Well, it was published …

But what is a book?  To my knowledge, Fred’s books are either very-small-press publications, or printed “on demand” through Amazon or Lulu, and as such, I suspect, only reach a microscopic niche audience.  Modern desktop publishing has been hailed as a democratic revolution in literature … but it has also been condemned as a breakdown in a well-tested system that judged material on its merits before it was made available to the public.  Now anyone can publish a book.  Anyone can be an author.  Having a book in print may now not mean a heck of a lot.

On the whole, though, I found the stories more professional than I expected.  There were one or two dogs … and in one case I mean that literally.  That particular story said much about the author that I had already suspected, and was not at all pleased to see confirmed in print.  Other stories were mere wish-fulfillment fantasies.  As well, human intolerance toward “furries” appeared repeatedly, rendering it a mere cliché.  But three or four of the stories actually seemed to have reached a professional level.

There are 19 stories, written by 19 different authors.  It is not very clear where the stories are from – I presume they are collected from a variety of sources of fan fiction, but perhaps some were written especially for this anthology. They have at least one thing in common: some or all of the characters in these stories are anthropomorphic.  They run the gamut from talking cartoons to genetically spliced hybrids.  Technically, The Furry Future is a theme anthology, no different from collections on the theme of exploring the planet Jupiter, or if the Confederacy had won the American Civil War.  But where other theme anthologies explore different facets of science fiction or fantasy, The Furry Future is not aimed at the average science fiction or fantasy reader, but at a tiny niche audience called “furry fandom.”

I don’t think it has much purpose beyond preaching to the choir.

Each story dwells on one rationale or another for why the future must contain talking animal-people, without much benefit of logic.  Why are animal hybrids always better than ordinary humans, for instance?  Does not the superior olfactory sense of a dog also come with impaired colour vision, for instance?  And why do dog people not sniff their environment – and each other – in a manner we mere Hominins would find distracting … if not downright revolting?  Would it not make more sense to simply graft the gene for better hearing and smell into the human genome, without also cursing the offspring with tails, fur and muzzles?  Or, if it is cheap labour that is the justification for engineering animal-people, why would it be necessary to breed so many different species of them, and not just one?

Most of these stories were, in fact, constructed around the anthropomorphic idea … anthropomorphism is a given, not to be questioned and does not develop naturally from the story.   This is so much the case that one or two of the stories reduce to little more than big expository lumps, arguing the inevitability of “furries.”

“A Bedsheet for a Cape,” by Nathanael Gass, for instance, took a very unusual angle on the subject that I would spoil if I revealed too much about it.

“Trinka and the Robot,” by Ocean Tigrox also stood out, I thought, as did “Lunar Cavity,” by Mary E. Lowd.   Curiously, both were very much like any SF story I might have found in Amazing or Fantastic in the late 1950s or early ‘60s.  “Lunar Cavity,” in fact, was about an extraterrestrial race … and as such, I would argue falls outside the bounds of this anthology!

“The Darkness of Dead Stars,” by Dwale also would not have seemed out of place in a 1961 issue of Galaxy.

“Field Research,” by M.C.A. Hogarth, began well but seemed to lose its way, and came to a weaker ending than I thought it deserved.

“The Curators,” by T.S. McNally, also might have been a fine story but for a weak ending.

I did, in fact, make notes on each story as I read it.  But nineteen is a lot of stories to recall in detail, even with notes, so I was sure from the start that I was not going to review every story individually.  Instead, I would meditate on larger ideas.

One of those ideas is about the nature of published fiction.

Why is it that stories that would have been perfectly at home in a professional SF magazine in 1962 probably could not be sold to a prozine today?  Make no mistake about it … although some of the stories in The Furry Future were written well enough for publication by the standards of 1962, I doubt very much they would find a home in any of 2015’s limited number of paying markets.

I wondered long about why this should be – was it a mere prejudice against “furry” stories?  No doubt the signal from The Furry Future is geeky enough to deter almost any slush-pile reader.  But, as I noted, some of the stories entirely lack the obsessive quality of most anthropomorphic fan fiction, so they must be noncommercial for some other reason.  Far more likely, it is precisely because the stories would be so at home in a 1962 prozine.

To generalize, these are stories of asteroid miners, holstered blasters, sub-space and starships.  Even when there is up-to-date computer science involved, they just feel old-fashioned.  But the science fiction genre has moved on in the last 50 years, and not just stylistically.  The genre has left those ideas behind and occupies a more nuanced space.  For the printed word, a different vision of what the future might bring is in fashion.  There’s no going back.

Unless, of course, you resort to Lulu or Amazon to print it for you.  In this brave new world of democratic literature, anyone can be a publisher or writer.  That is no guarantee that anyone else will ever read your words, however.

Should you take The Furry Future seriously enough to buy and read it?  In good conscience, I can’t really say, “yes” … but not altogether “no,” either.  If you are a furry fan, you will find much to enjoy in the collection … much that even deserves to be enjoyed.  I hope that all such readers give serious thought to buying a copy.  But if you are like most readers of modern science fiction and fantasy, you will quickly grow tired of stories about talking-animal people who have so little original to say about anything but their own anthropomorphism.  These modern readers can find an almost infinite number of more suitable books to read, and shouldn’t waste their time on The Furry Future. 

Perhaps they should re-read a Cordwainer Smith collection containing “The Ballad of Lost C’Mell” instead.  For that matter, it would be a good idea if furry readers also did just that.

Smiling Through The Tears

Reversing the lyrics of a theatrical standard, tragedy yesterday, but comedy tonight.

Leonard Nimoy’s death left many fans with a deep sense of loss. A few small jokes may help the healing process.

Taral Wayne added his own caption to a Star Trek still –

Final Captain's Log

Newsthump posted a bittersweet fake news story:

An arrest warrant has been issued for Star Trek actor William Shatner, who is reported to have stolen the space shuttle Enterprise…

Shatner and his crew – reported to comprise Nichelle Nichols, George Takei and Walter Koenig – are understood to believe that Leonard Nimoy will have been reborn on a new, Edenic alien world as suggested in a 1984 documentary.

When asked their course, shortly before passing out of radio range, Shatner is reported to have replied “Second star on the left, and straight on ’til morning.”

 

Stu Shiffman (1954-2014)

Stu Shiffman (middle) in 1981.

Stu Shiffman (middle) in 1981.

Stu Shiffman died November 26, almost two-and-a-half years after suffering a stroke; he was 60. The renowned fan artist, who generously shared his talents in fanzines, apas and convention publications, received the Best Fan Artist Hugo Award in 1990 and the Rotsler Award in 2010.

Stu was a native New Yorker but moved to Seattle about 20 years ago with his partner Andi Shechter.

Stu always was fascinated by the traditions and in-references of science fiction fandom and loved to incorporate them in unexpected settings that might involve anything from cartoons of talking animals to intricately rendered Egyptian tomb art and hieroglyphs.

When he got into fandom in the 1970s mimeographed fanzines were still quite common. Taral Wayne admired that Stu “was as much a master of pen and ink as he was of stylus and stencil.”

Stu also had a special interest in drawing literary characters like Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Burrough’s John Carter (interests which sometimes merged, as in his ERBzine contribution Adventure of the Martian Hegira: fragments from the Barsoomian Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes.)

In fact, one of his earliest contributions to a fanzine appeared in the sword-and-sorcery oriented Amra (October 1975) — “Goric & Other Limericks” co-authored with NY fan John Boardman.

Stu’s own publications, such as Raffles, co-edited with Larry Carmody, began appearing around 1977.

He became a leader in New York’s faannish fandom when he hosted Fanoclasts. He also chaired the Flushing in ’80 hoax Worldcon bid committee composed of Moshe Feder, Joe Siclari, Gary Farber, Hank Davis, Elliot Shorter, and Jon Singer.

Stu’s soaring popularity led to him being voted the 1981 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate. The following year he began his TAFF report, A Raffles Lad Abroad or The Road to Yorcon. (See Chapters 1 and 2 here.)

Stu ordinarily enjoyed his fannish accolades as much as anyone, but he did become frustrated that during the 1980s he established a record for the most fan Hugo nominations without winning. Everyone was gratified when he broke through at last in 1990.

All this productivity happened despite a medical condition Stu was coping with at the time. The symptoms became apparent when he was invited by fellow artists Schirmeister and Taral to join them hiking on Mt. Wilson in 1984 and he had difficulty keeping up. Taral explained in The Slan of Baker Street, “Stu will have to forgive me if I relate this imperfectly, but he had an abnormal connection between the blood vessels of his brain that allowed venous blood to mingle with arterial blood. The intermixing robbed his bloodstream of oxygen, and he tired easily.” Doctors corrected this by performing brain surgery in 1985 – an operation lasting 12 hours according to Ansible.

Stu’s interest in mysteries was strong enough to fuel three fandoms with art and articles. He was a Sherlockian (Sound of the Baskervilles, Hounds of the Internet) who contributed to publications like Baker Street Journal, and a Wodehouse enthusiast who sent material to such journals as Plum Lines and Wooster Sauce. And Stu was just as likely to write something about them for an sf fanzine. For example, a 1999 issue of Mainstream featured his “Adventures of the Danzig Mien,” the script of a Sherlockian parody: Stu had a great time festoon­ing a Conan Doyle-esque plot with ridiculous references and in-jokes.

He also produced some similarly-inspired short stories for an anthology series. In “The Milkman Cometh” (Tales of the Shadowmen 5: Vampires of Paris) Tevye meets Sherlock Holmes and confronts Boris Badenov. In “Grim Days” (Tales of the Shadowmen 7) Lord Peter Wimsey and Colonel Haki meet in Istanbul.

He drew a backup feature for Captain Confederacy, the black-and-white comic produced by Will Shetterly and Vince Stone (published by Steeldragon Press), involving two steampunkish characters named Saks & Violet.

So it is not surprising that Stu was attracted to alternate history and for many years was a member of the judging panel for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History.

His convention guest of honor stints included Hexacon (1980), Minicon XX, Wiscon XII, Corflu 6 (1989) and Lunacon 2000.

At Corflu 5 (1988) he was named a Past President of Fan Writers of America (fwa).

He had a recipe in the Tiptree fundraiser The Bakery Men Don’t See (1991) – “Grandma Ethel Katz’s Noodle Kugel.” Stu co-edited the 1986 issue of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly with the Nielsen Haydens and Lee Hoffman. He illustrated the 1991 edition of Beyond the Enchanted Duplicator…To the Enchanted Convention by Walt Willis and James White.

On June 14, 2012 Stu suffered a stroke. Two brain surgeries followed. For several months he went back and forth between ICU and acute care, depending on his breathing and heartbeat. Eventually he was reported to be on a gradual upswing and thereafter, though he periodically had serious setbacks, Stu enjoyed sustained improvement.

Andi Shecter visited constantly. Tom Whitmore maintained a CaringBridge online journal that let Stu’s friends keep abreast of important changes in his status.

Andi Shechter and Stu Shiffman on their wedding day, June 18, 2014,

Andi Shechter and Stu Shiffman on their wedding day, June 18, 2014,

In 2013 Andi and Stu, who had been together for 25 years, announced their engagement. On June 18, 2014 they married in a ceremony at University of Washington’s Burke Museum with nearly 100 in attendance.

By October, Stu had recovered to the point that he’d been able to use a powered wheelchair for the first time since his stroke. However, only a week later, he had a fall and required surgery from which he did not regain consciousness.

Then, this afternoon, he died after his heart stopped. Tom Whitmore explained: “Aides found him when they went to prepare him for a shower. He was given CPR and 911 was called. The EMTs were able to get a heartbeat and pulse back and he was being readied to go to Harborview Emergency Department when he heart stopped again. They were unable to get him back. They tried for about 40 minutes.”

I am so sad that Stu wasn’t able to make the recovery we all hoped he would have, and am very sorry for Andi’s loss.

Stu Shiffman and Mike Glyer in 2004. Photo by Rich Coad.

Stu Shiffman and Mike Glyer in 2004. Photo by Rich Coad.

2013 Faned Award Certificate Unveiled

Hall_of_Fame_2013 COMPCreator of the Faned Award certificate Taral Wayne says, “For the third year in a row, one small detail of the certificate has been altered… look for it!”

I can see several changes from the 2011 edition. Can readers spot all of them?

I do wonder why the current certificate lists the award year as 2013. Maybe that’s one change that still needs to be made…

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Radical Reform Of The Faned Awards

R. Graeme Cameron, Founder and sole member of the non-registered and non-existent Canadian Fanzine Fanac Society and administrator of his self-invented Faned Awards has decreed all the world should enroll and vote in this year’s awards – a radical change from the Canadian-only rule of prior years. He explains:

Last year 19 people voted. Considering the size of Canada compared to the United States, this compares rather favourably with the FAAn Awards (roughly ten times as many voted for the latter).

However, 19 votes is rather meagre. Canadian fanzine fandom hasn’t exactly been expanding at an exponential rate of late. What to do?

Since most of the fan artists active in Canadian zines are American, many of the letter of comments coming from outside Canada, some of writing content likewise, and there’s a distinct possibility most of the readership resides in other lands, I have decided to throw open the Faned voting process to ANYONE who reads Canadian zines. The emphasis will still be focused on Canadian zines exclusively, but the vote will be open to any and all loyal readers of those zines, no matter which county they live in.

I will distribute ballot information in an upcoming issue of The Fanactical Fanactivist within a week, along with instructions on how to vote (email) and who can vote (certified fanzine fans who read Canadian zines).

My goal, this year, is to DOUBLE the number of votes. Staggering concept, what?

Unboundaried ambition, I’d say!

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