Sir Terry’s Knighthood Ceremony

Pratchett knighted

The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held Excalibur aloft from the bosom of the water to signify by Divine Providence … Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll read that again.

The Queen of England formally knighted Terry Pratchett on Wednesday. He was named on her New Year Honours List, and this week Elizabeth ceremonially dubbed the kneeling Pratchett on each shoulder with her sword.

A Pooch at Oxford

Diana has been on a two-week visit to Oxford, staying in C.S. Lewis’s former home, the Kilns, and spending her days burrowing into the Bodleian manuscript collection.

Sierra dispatched a LittlePetShop toy dog named Sally to England with Diana to share the adventure. Tonight I’ll show Sierra all the incredibly cute photos of Sally enjoying the trip – including these:

Sally at the library

Sally at the library.

Sally admiring the gargoyles

Sally admiring the architecture of Oxford.

Sally trying to sneak into the Oxford Union

Sally trying to sneak into the Oxford Union.

Sally on the no 9 bus to Risinghurst

Sally on the number 9 bus to Risinghurst.

Rudy Rucker Interview at SPR

Self-Publishing Review follows the worldwide splash from its Tessa Dick interview by quizzing Rudy Rucker, a writer who reminds so many of PKD:

SPR: You offer your novel, Postsingular, for free online as a Creative Commons download. What’s your experience been with people downloading that book compared to people buying other novels through ebook distributors?

RR: …This did create some buzz, and I got some interesting fan email. Like one guy said, “I just read your novel on my phone,” and another said, “I read it on my screen in my cubicle at work.” As for the book’s actual sales, they were, I think, slightly better than my usual average, but not radically better, although we haven’t yet seen any numbers for the trade paperback edition, which just now came out.

[Thanks to Francis Hamit for the link.]

Chuck Crayne Dies Suddenly (1939-2009)

Chuck Crayne, a pivotal figure in the history of science fiction conrunning, passed away on February 16, his 71st birthday. Dian Crayne told the Trufen list that Chuck’s CAT scan on Friday revealed his persistent back pain to be a symptom of spinal cancer. He was admitted to the hospital, then unfortunately died of cardiac problems while being transferred to intensive care.

Chuck was most active in fandom during the Sixties and Seventies. A LASFS member, he edited many issues of its newzine De Profundis.

When a Bay Area bid won the rights to host the 1968 Worldcon and promptly merged it with the Westercon they’d already been voted, vacating the July 4th weekend, Chuck Crayne came up with the idea for a substitute LA-area event to fill the date – F-UNCon – and a group to run it, Future Unbounded, which included himself and Bruce Pelz, Dian and others. As Rich Lynch explains, the site, the Statler Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles, had a level of luxury that fans were not used to in convention hotels, and Crayne wrote in the program book that “The F-UNcon is an attempt to show that — when properly planned — the larger a convention, the better the convention.” The group also rebounded and officially won the right to a Westercon for 1969.

Crayne and Pelz anticipated and encouraged the explosive growth of conventions that marked the Seventies. They helped found (along with others) the Bouchercon for mystery fans in 1970. They bid for and co-chaired the 1972 Worldcon. L.A.con I was the largest to that time, though that record was quickly eclipsed as a growing fandom propelled both of the next two Worldcons, TorCon II and DisCon II to greater attendance and new records of their own.

Crayne played a leading role in LA Worldcon bids for 1975 and 1981. Although both lost, he leveraged the 1975 bid into a successful run for the rights to host the very first North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC).

While Chuck and I interacted only a few times over the years, his LoC on the first issue of File 770 in 1978 made some important comments that grounded me, and showed me what standard people had a right to expect from a newzine (and which I wasn’t meeting quite yet!) I’ll always remember him for that advice.

Bradbury Out to Launch

Ray Bradbury at Beverly Hills Library 2/13/09

Ray Bradbury’s book launch party for We’ll Always Have Paris was hosted by the Beverly Hills Library on February 13. John King Tarpinian provided this photo, and he promises “A video of the almost hour long talk will soon be available at www.youtube.com/newshortfiction.”

Bradbury will sign We’ll Always Have Paris at Mystery and Imagination Bookshop in Glendale, CA on February 28.

Beneath the Surface with Wheaton

Self Publishing Review says Wil Wheaton has released his next collection of work on Lulu.com, a self-publishing service. He told readers of his blog the book, Sunken Treasure, is doing great, and briefly described what’s in it:

I pulled together things I liked from all three of my [previous] books, my blog, and this groovy collaborative fiction project I played with called Ficlets. I also included, for the first time anywhere, one of the scripts I wrote for a sketch comedy show at the ACME Comedy Theater.

[Thanks to Francis Hamit for the story.]

In Zed We Trust

Corflu Zed logo

Randy Byers sends along even more reasons to attend Corflu Zed in Seattle, March 13-15:

The Eaton Collection, in the form of Rob Latham, will be attending Corflu as part of the outreach to fandom that has been written about recently in Earl Kemp’s eI and Chris Garcia’s Drink Tank. Chris and Rob will be on a panel at the convention to explain the Eaton Collection’s mission vis-a-vis science fiction, fanzines, and fandom. The Eaton Collection is also hosting a pizza party in the consuite on Saturday at 6 p.m.

We are organizing a couple of different tours for Friday. Jack William Bell is leading a tour of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, which is pretty much a no-brainer attraction to any hardcore science fiction fan. For those who have already seen the museum we are also talking to the Seattle Architectural Foundation about arranging a guided walking tour of the University District (where the Hotel Deca is located) with a special focus on the imprint left by the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition of 1909, which exactly a century ago played a key part in Seattle’s development. Anybody who is interested in either of these tours should contact us at zed@corflu.org so we can get an idea of the headcount.

Byers also promises there are going to be some interesting characters at this year’s Corflu, including the rare and legendary Tobes Valois.

Meanwhile, you have until March 5 to e-mail in your FAAn Awards votes to Corflu.zed.faan@gmail.com.  

Nancy Pelosi Uses the Force

The Lincoln Medal was presented to George Lucas during the rededication of Ford’s Theater on February 11. DC’s leading movers and shakers were on hand, most notably President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Afterward Pelosi enthused to the Washington Whispers blog at USNews.com:

“Oh yes, I’m a big fan of Star Wars,” she said. “My five children, my husband, and I have seen the Star Wars movies over 100 times—we just couldn’t get enough of it.” Pelosi gushed about the director, who won the Lincoln Medal at the star-studded event attended by everyone from the Obamas to actors James Earl Jones and Sidney Poitier and even former cabinet pick Tom Daschle. “Every time George Lucas comes to Capitol Hill, it’s so thrilling,” Pelosi said. “He’s my constituent, you see, and he’s my friend.”

If a person didn’t know what party Lucas supports, reading this story would make it easy to guess which one it isn’t:

At the time of our visit in 1986, no members of the press had been admitted. Our tour guide for the drive related that Ronald Reagan, then President of the United States requested a tour of Skywalker Ranch but was denied. Lucasfilm lost a court battle to have the U.S. government refrain from calling the Strategic Defense Initiative, “Star Wars.” I suspect this ruling didn’t help President Reagan’s chances for a visit…

And although Lucas actually isn’t Pelosi’s constituent — Nancy Pelosi is the representative of California’s 8th Congressional District, while Skywalker Ranch is in the 6th — what savvy Bay Area politician would let a few squiggly lines on a map keep her from basking in the limelight of a local Democratic celebrity?

Interestingly, neither Lucas, nor even President Obama, drew a bigger round of “oohs” than did the presentation of this inanimate object:

After violinist Joshua Bell performed early in the program, it was revealed to the crowd that the instrument he used during “My Lord, What a Morning” was last played at Ford’s on April 14, 1865 — the night of Lincoln’s assassination. The violin was part of the orchestra that night, Ford’s officials said, and was donated in 1991 by the family of its original owner to the National Park Service, which has jurisdiction over the historic theater.

And perhaps that’s as it should be.

[Via TheForce.Net and David Klaus]

Selling on Smashworlds

Francis Hamit has good news: “I signed up for Smashwords and have actually sold something. I think the founder, Mark Coker, has a very innovative approach to publishing and distribution and your readers might want to read this interview from Self Publishing Review to get the full story. This is a far better service than Amazon Shorts was, or publishing in the Amazon Kindle directly is. Much less hassle. Those fans who aspire to be writers can test their material here. This could be transformative.”