Ralph Vicinanza Passes Away

The New York-based literary agent Ralph Vicinanza died on Sunday evening, aged 60.

Vicinanza was in publishing for nearly 40 years and early on took a special interest in what he considered an undervalued field — international rights, working on overseas deals for King, Norman Mailer, Carl Sagan and Philip K. Dick, among others. Vicinanza founded his own agency in 1978 and signed up some of the world’s top science fiction and fantasy writers, including Terry Pratchett, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert and George R.R. Martin.

He was also an executive producer on the 2008 sf movie Jumper and the 2009 tv series FlashForward.  

[Thanks to Steve Green for the story.]

Update 09/29/2010: Depluralized Jumper.

Heinlein Society and Biographer at Loscon 37

I’m putting together the program for Loscon 37, which takes place Thanksgiving weekend (Fri-Sun) in Los Angeles at the LAX Marriott. Over 75 writers, artists, editors, filmmakers, and (of course!) fans have already agreed to participate. This post launches a series of highlights I hope will make you interested in coming to the con.

William Patterson Jr., author of the new biography Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, Volume 1 (1907-1948): Learning Curve, will speak about the Dean of Science Fiction on a panel at Loscon.

He’ll be joined by Dr. Robert James of whom Patterson says, “He’s the authority on Leslyn Heinlein and at the Heinlein centennial interviewed the last surviving Heinlein relative who knew Heinlein’s first wife, Elinor Curry. He’s one of the main people I leaned on for help while writing the book.”

And the Heinlein Society, led by new President Mike Sheffield, will hold its annual membership meeting on Saturday at Loscon. Mike writes:

Anyone is welcome to attend. We’re a non-profit, so all our business is a matter of public record. Only Heinlein Society members can vote on the board positions that are up for re-election, of course. But the official business will probably not fill the entire time slot, and we’re looking forward to having people ask questions get to know us during the remaining time.

Update 09/30/2010: Corrected to Dr. Robert James.

Snapshots Hawaii Five-Oh

GRR Martin walkaboutHere are 12 developments of interest to fans:

(1) That eye-popping photo comes from A Candid Interview w/A Man Claiming to be George R. R. Martin at GRRuMblers:

Scorpiknox: What happened to you while you were down at Aussie Con? You look like a new man!
George Martin: …What happened was a few weeks ago I borrowed Ty’s Crocodile Dundee boxed set in preparation for World Con. While I was watching Croc I, it struck me that a genuine Aussie-Style walkabout might do me some good, help turn off my brain, so to speak. As a result, after World Con, I spent a week in Australian outback with an indigenous guide.

(2) If you can imagine, media giant USA Today is asking whether Comic Con is too big:

Even a couple decades ago, it was still about the comics,” says Ted McKeever, author and illustrator of several comic books, including Metropol and Meta 4. McKeever made his first appearance at the convention in 1986. “Then Hollywood came in,” he says. “And the event got bigger and bigger. We’ve been pushed to the side.”

That’s literally in some instances. Comic-book peddlers once had run of the center. Now they are relegated to a few aisles, competing against massive movie and TV billboards and “booth babes” who hand out promotional items.

I was thinking to myself, “So there’s the reason Worldcons aren’t as big as Comic Con, because we’re above that kind of tawdry marketing” — ‘til I suddenly remembered we’re not. Remember what Dave Kyle wrote in “Sex in Fandom”

There was a lot of joking about the con name for Cincinnati in 1949 because Cinvention was, of course, pronounced “Sinvention.” Whether or not that inspired Lester del Rey, he did deliver a talk on “Sex and Science Fiction.” Our London celebrity guest was E.J. “Ted” Carnell (whose presence was in part due to Forry Ackerman’s promotion of the Big Pond Fund, a precursor to TAFF). We suggested he, as a fan turned pro, follow Lester’s talk with something about his British Carnell (carnal) knowledge. Statuesque Lois Miles became “Miss Science Fiction” for the weekend with a newspaper spread.

If the only thing needed was an eager willingness to sell out, the Worldcon should have turned into a megacon by 1950.

(3) R*K* Millholland’s Something Positive comic shows What cats see when you laser-point them.

(4) Smallville’s Clark Kent has waited longer to put on Superman’s cape and tights than Jethro Bodine spent in the sixth grade:

After 10 long years, Clark Kent of “Smallville” is finally ready to suit up – star Tom Welling reveals that his character will finally don Superman’s famous red cape, blue tights, and “S” shield and take flight in the CW series’s final episode.

The actor who plays Clark insists that doing otherwise would have been like exposing the show to green kryptonite:

“Some people might be a little upset that it’s taken this long, but I think that we have to embrace the fact that if we’d done it in the first season, the show would be over,” 33-year-old Welling.

(5) Taral (who else?) pointed out that Pohl’s If (magazine) was the daily feature article on Wikipedia on September 17!

(6) The animated Neil Gaiman appears in an episode of PBS’ childrens series Arthur on October 25 reports Wired:

Gaiman’s role comes in an episode called “Falafelosophy,” inspiring one of the kids who’s trying her hand at writing and illustrating a graphic novel. It’s paired with what sounds like a suitable companion story, “Tales of the Grotesquely Grim Bunny,” about changes on the shelves at the local comic shop.

(7) Read Andrew Steeves’ My Staring Contest With Wil Wheaton to fully enjoy the payoff:

I rehearsed my pitch over and over in my head, before finally approaching him. “Excuse me, Mr. Wheaton. I know you have a pretty big line, but… well, I’d like to challenge you to a staring contest.” Hardly before I can get the last word out of my mouth, Wheaton leans forward and says one word.


(8) Author Mark Rayner is repeating his successful contest inviting entrants to design advertising posters in a retro style for products from fictional futures. The winner gets a “walk on” appearance in Rayner’s next book. (I think one of the most remarkable posters from last year’s contest is the ad for the US Postal Service based on the movie The Postman.) 

(9) Somebody at Fox News is collecting faux advertising, too. Joseph T. Major sends a link to a 50’s-style pinup posed beside an ultra-complicated gadget who says, “A spindizzy going sour makes the galaxy’s most unnerving noise!” The writer appreciatively comments, “We’re not sure what a Graviton Polarity Generator is, but we’re definitely getting one.”

Joe’s footnote is, “The alternative title of They Shall Have Stars is Year 2018! so it won’t be long.”

(10) Yes, that’s Han Solo frozen in carbonite with an elevated glass top as an executive desk. For the fan who has almost everything.

(11) Of 17 everyday products made to look like the Starship Enterprise David Klaus wants the cufflinks: “I’ll bet Gene would have loved them.” The pizza cutter is my favorite.

(12) Today’s Andrew Porter trivia answer: “You can find my real name on the membership roles of the 1963 worldcon; there’s also a photo of me at the banquet. The answer’s also in Idle Minds #4.”

[Thanks for these links goes out to Andrew Porter, James Hay, Joseph T. Major, Ron Oakes, David Klaus and Taral.]

Start Thinking of 2011 TAFF Nominees

Steve Green announces that the 2011 Trans Atlantic Fan Fund race (Europe > North America) will take nominations beginning November 12 (opening day of Novacon 40). The nomination process will close December 18, with candidates announced by December 20. The race itself will run until March 12 2011.

The winner will attend Renovation, the 69th World SF Convention, in Reno, Nevada, 17-21 August 2011.

Steve advises anyone interested in standing to contact him by e-mail at stevegreen@livejournal.com.

Best Fan Writer Hugo Final Exam

Mr. Rico, now that you’ve finished the crash course in History and Moral Philosophy of the Best Fan Writer Hugo here’s your final quiz:

How many times has the Best Fan Writer Hugo been won by a person who had been nominated previously for a non-fan Hugo?

Hint #1: Count Best Fan Writer Hugos won in any year after first being nominated in a non-fan category. For example, David Langford received a 1993 Best Nonfiction Book nomination for Let’s Hear It For the Deaf Man. Don’t count the Best Fan Writer Hugo he received that same year in your answer.

Hint #2: The winners since the creation of the category in 1967 are: Terry Carr, Richard E. Geis, Mike Glyer, Dave Langford, Cheryl Morgan, Alexei Panshin, Frederik Pohl, John Scalzi, Bob Shaw, Wilson Tucker, Harry Warner Jr., Ted White and Susan Wood.

See the answer after the jump.

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Republic Films 75th Anniversary

Republic Pictures, historic home of sci-fi serials and B-movie cowboys like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, celebrated its 75th anniversary on September 25. In the meantime the former Republic Studios has become the CBS Studio Center, but its role in cinematic history is still remembered.

Click on the link to the 75th anniversary website for galleries filled with nostalgic images of old movie posters and photos of B-movie stars.

Those who attended the festivities in person saw screenings of Republic films, serials and trailers, live performances of swing and western music, entertainment by gun spinners, rope twirlers, trick horses, and cowboy poets, and a diverse collection of memorabilia. There also was a special Republic Pictures stamp cancellation ceremony of the U.S. Postal Service’s Cowboys of the Silver Screen postage stamps.

Republic Pictures was founded in 1935 by Herbert J. Yates and its fare became synonymous with Saturday afternoon matinees. It gave fandom science fiction serials like The Adventures of Captain Marvel and Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe. The studio launched the careers of Gene Autry, Rex Allen, Roy Rogers  — and John Wayne who starred in some of its best-known movies, Flying Tigers (1942), Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), and The Quiet Man (1952).

[Thanks to Bill Warren for the story.]

Hole New Issue

At Taral’s request, the image of Fred Pohl with a hole in his head has been removed from The Drink Tank #259 (PDF file). His article now is illustrated by an unaltered copy of the cover art from The Way the Future Was.

I think that’s a good idea, so I will forego any jokes. Besides, you’ve already read the headline and know how little you’re missing.

Housekeeping Note

Comments by anyone who’s previously had one approved here automatically go public (as long as they’re still using the same identifying info as before.) First-time comments get manually approved when I can log on. The days when I go into the office I don’t have access to this blog until evening. That’s all to explain — this morning there are around 7 new comments to the fan writer discussion just approved and WordPress has inserted them according to their timestamp. That is the reason most are not singled out as “recent comments,” including ones by Robert Lichtman, Eric Mayer, Mike Lowrey and Colin Hinz. 

And as I am going into the office now (you’re right, Rich Coad, this blog isn’t on Pacific time) it will be about 8 hours before I can resume approving comments. They will get in later.