Diana Wynne Jones (1934-2011)

Fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones died March 26 of cancer. Publishers Weekly noted that during her 35-year career she won the British Fantasy Society’s Karl Edward Wagner Award and the Life Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Organization (2007). Also, the movie adaptation of her book Howl’s Moving Castle was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Animated Feature.

Christopher Priest’s tribute in The Guardian begins:

Like many good writers, Diana Wynne Jones, who has died aged 76 of cancer, worked for long years in relative obscurity, in her case sustained as a children’s fantasy author by a modestly sized but devoted young readership. That obscurity provided the freedom to develop her own voice without the distractions of having to build on perceived success. By the time real success found her, in Jones’s case almost by chance, she was a mature writer with a solid and varied body of work that was ready to be appreciated by a much bigger new audience….

Jones’s fiction is relevant, subversive, witty and highly enjoyable, while also having a distinctly dark streak and a constant awareness of how unreliable the real world can seem. Disguises and deceptions abound. Though avoiding criminally dysfunctional families or unwanted pregnancies, her cleverly plotted and amusing adventures deal frankly with emotional clumsiness, parental neglect, jealousy between siblings and a general sense of being an outcast.

Dave Langford’s personal note is here and he has compiled links to many more Jones tributes at the Ansible website.

[Via Andrew Porter and Dave Langford.]

Shaun Tan Wins Children’s Lit Award

Shaun Tan

Australian author/illustrator Shaun Tan has won the 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, reports Publishers Weekly. It is the biggest prize for children’s and young adult literature, worth five million Swedish krona.

Melbourne-based Tan has illustrated more than 20 books, including The Rabbits (1998), The Lost Thing (2000), The Red Tree (2001), The Arrival (2006) and Tales from Outer Suburbia (2008).

His award citation, quoted in The Australian, reads: “Shaun Tan has reinvented the picture book by creating visually spectacular pictorial narratives with a constant human presence.”

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh and Andrew Porter for the story.]

2013 Worldcon Site Voting Opens

Voting to select the site of the 2013 Worldcon has opened. Members of Renovation are eligible to cast a ballot.  Only one bid filed in time to appear on the form — Texas in 2013, chaired by Bill Parker. However, write-in votes are allowed and there’s something about seeing an unopposed bid that always inspires fans to the highest levels of creativity…

Ballots submitted by postal mail must reach Renovation by July 31. Votes may be cast in person at the convention up until 6 p.m. PDT on Friday, August 19, 2011. All ballots must be accompanied by an Advance Membership (Voting) fee of $60, which will automatically be converted to a Supporting membership in the 71st Worldcon.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Tarpinian: 2011 Paperback Show

Niven Pournelle

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle at 32nd Vintage Paperback Show.

By John King Tarpinian: The 32nd annual L.A. Vintage Paperback Collectors Show was held Sunday March 27.  There were 78 tables full of everything from old sci-fi pulps to hard-boiled lesbian detective novels and everything in-between.  Among the authors who were kind enough to sign just about anything put in from of them were, William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson, Dennis Etchison with Richard Christian Matheson, Jerry Pournelle & Larry Niven, Peters S. Beagle and Tim Powers.

Nolan Johnson

William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson

Etchison RC Matheson

Dennis Etchison & Richard Christian Matheson

Peter Beagle

Peter Beagle

Tim Powers

Tim Powers

Hugo Noms Close Tonight

Eligible voters have until one minute before midnight Pacific time on March 26 to submit nominations for the 2011 Hugo Awards. TheHugoAwards.org reminds everyone: 

Members of Renovation who joined by January 31, 2011, and members of Aussiecon 4, the 2010 Worldcon, are eligible to submit nominating ballots. All ballots must be received by Saturday, March 26, 2011, 11:59pm PDT.

Online nomination ballots are available here. More information about the Hugo Awards, including details about how to submit a nominating ballot, is available here.

Taral Wayne: After the Piper Played

By Taral Wayne: I see that Murray has already reported on Mike Glicksohn’s Funeral at File770.com, and left little behind that I can add.

Worse, I hardly heard a word of the service.  I arrived almost exactly at seven, in time to see the piper in his kilts and bearskin, skirling “Amazing Grace.”  Next thing I knew I was being seated in a pew next to Shirley Meier.  At the altar, a woman had begun to sing an unfamiliar solo.  There was an unobtrusive prayer.  Susan Manchester spoke, then Mike’s brother,  Manning.  Mike Harper took the microphone next, and finally Robert Sawyer.  A number of other people paid their last respects from an open mike passed around.  Now and then I would make out a tantalizing “Mike” or “atheist” or “avocado” but never enough to piece together a coherent thought. 

After the service I talked with Robert Sawyer about this.  Being familiar with my hearing loss, Rob was aware that I probably heard nothing of what he said.  But he added that it was a weak mike, and that most of the speakers were too far from it as well.  I guess that made me feel a little better about missing what was evidently a very humane and entertaining service.

So I filled the time by counting heads, instead.  There were 300 seats, and most seemed filled.  My estimate is that around 275 attended, to whom I could put names to around 25.  I recognized a few other faces as well.  It did seem as though everyone in the local fandom who might have attended, did.  The other 250 I assume were friends of Mike’s, family, neighbors, and people he worked with.  Some were, indeed, Mike’s old students.

The service made no bones about Mike’s atheism and that the prayers were to console Susan more than to ease his way into the hereafter.  It was not a secular ceremony, unless one counts the piper – and no Scot would consider the pipes as anything but a religious observance.  (I wonder who among us was Scottish?)  Prayers were called and hymns sung.  Those of us who don’t attend church learn to follow the crowd and lip synch.  Yet if it was a religious funeral, it was far from stolid or grim.  As Murray took great pains to reproduce, the eulogies were sprinkled with humour and anecdotes that shed light on a man with a very positive outlook on life.

However, Murray was forced to return home right after the service, and missed the reception afterward.  I don’t think he was far off the mark for how many turned up Mike and Susan’s home. 

I should mention that the snowstorm that day was one of the worst experienced in Toronto this winter, and was clearly much later in the year than is normal.  Weather Canada warned us to expect up to 4 or 5 cm. – about  two inches to those of you who still use the “American” measure.  We got as much as 10 cm. or four inches in the space of an eight hour working day, which is outrageous at the end of March.  It was hard not to imagine some purpose behind this last minute winter-blast. 

Fortunately, the snow ended sometime during the service.  The house on Windermere was only three or four blocks away, though, so it’s all too easy to imagine 200 people trying to squeeze into a modest two-story brick building.  There was actually a line to get in out of the cold.  Once in, it was as tricky finding where to step through the boots and shoes as it would be to tiptoe through a well-planned minefield.  Once past the mountain of footgear, you came abruptly to a solid wall of humanity.  There might not have been 200 people in that house, but 75 is easy to believe. 

There was one thing you could always say about MikeCon if you came on the party night.  Mike and Susan laid out the best table you can picture, with lox and bagels, fresh pastries of all kinds, cookies, fruit, cheese, crackers and, of course, beer and wine.  Though I overheard Susan to say, “We have a little food,” the reception after the service was in no way second place to a MikeCon.  I have a weakness for such spreads.  I tend to make a pig of myself, but since I rarely have such delicacies at home, I can’t resist having one of everything.  Maybe two of those.  More of something else.  And there was plenty to go around.  I probably had a spot more wine than as good for me too.  By the end of the evening I was feeling just fuzzy enough that I knew I had to stop.

There was, after all, the long arduous trip home to consider.

The house looked a little smaller than I remembered it, but that might have been because of the crush of people.  I believe it was even more crowded than MikeCons had ever been.  Could anyone actually be this well-liked by so many people, I wondered?  I’d feel lucky if anyone found an old cardboard carton to put me in, and if six people turned up to see the box taped shut.  In a way, too, I felt a little phony being there, seething with ambivalent feelings.  But despite my ability to find the wrong motives behind anything I do, I was glad I had decided to heed the invitation.  There were people present who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in literally decades.  As well, the light-hearted air of the service continued through the reception.  There were no black veils or floral wreaths, but plenty of warm, humorous conversations.  Many were about Mike, but as many about the use of Photoshop to imitate oil painting, popular vers libre, Edwardian architectural details, Kinder Surprises, blue cheeses, and when the next issue of Colin Hinz’s fanzine was coming out.  Just out of earshot I overheard Lloyd Penney discuss details of a Glicksohn scholarship with David Warren.  There was even a debate over whether it was better to stand out in the cold on the verandah that endure the crush inside, but it was a very short debate as the cons quickly won their point.

Over it all presided Susan, who was warm, open and friendly to all.

You just wished it had been merely a MikeCon of yore.  During a momentary lull, shortly before I left, I asked Susan a question I had been dreading to bring up.  The best way I was able to put it was, “I know this is too soon to ask, but I doubt I’ll have opportunity to speak with you again for some time.  I wonder if you have made arrangements to donate Mike’s fanzines to the Merril Collection at the Library?”  I needn’t have worried.  She wasn’t offended.  In fact, arrangements were being made. 

It was too bad there was no whiskey.  Perhaps it might have flowed for me if I had asked, but none was served openly.  Although I despise the vile taste of the stuff,  I would liked to  have hoisted one in Mike’s honour.

Andrew Porter: Mike Glicksohn Photo Gallery

toronto corflu

Mike Glicksohn, right, at the Toronto Corflu.

Glicksohn Wood Toronto 1970
Mike Glicksohn and Susan Wood in Toronto (1970)
Glicksohn typing Nerg

Mike Glicksohn typing stencils for Energumen.

95 Worldcon

(Tentative ID) 1987 Worldcon. L-to-R: Ken Bulmer, Ethel Lindsay, ?, George “Lan” Laskowski, Pat Virzi, Mike Glicksohn.

Lieberman Glicksohn at Conadian

Paula Lieberman and Mike Glicksohn chat at Conadian in 1994.

Glicksohn 1981 Susan Wood Best Fan Writer

Mike Glicksohn accepts Susan Wood's 1981 Best Fan Writer Hugo, which she won posthumously.

Update 03/26/2011: Tagged the man on the left of the 1987 Worldcon photo as Ken Bulmer, based on suggestions by Joseph Nicholas and Mark Plummer. 

Next Narnia Movie?

The Magician’s Nephew will be the next Narnia book to be made into a movie, Michael Flaherty, co-founder and president of Walden Media, told The Christian Post. That’s the plan being discussed with Fox and the C.S. Lewis estate.  

Fox took over the series when Disney, producer of the first two movies, dropped out, disappointed by the financial performance of Prince Caspian. The third movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, has earned well enough to keep the franchise alive.  

The Silver Chair would be next if the producers were following the seven-book series’ order of publication.

Instead, the sixth book will be filmed. The Magician’s Nephew is a prequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and tells about the creation of Narnia, and how evil entered the land. It reveals where series icons like the wardrobe and the lamppost came from.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

British Library’s SF Exhibit

Martians from a Belgian edition of War of the Worlds.

Years ago I visited the British Library when it was still housed together with the British Museum. In the Museum I gawked at the Elgin Marbles, the Rosetta Stone and that little cuneiform tablet Michael Wood said on tv might be a Hittite letter about the Trojan War. These days the first two items feature regularly in news items from countries demanding their return. Afterwards I went into the British Library’s famous exhibit of illuminated manuscripts. There’s little controversy about the Library’s holdings because Britain is the country of origin for many of the most interesting literary artifacts.

I’m remembering that trip because today I’m wishing I could see Out of this World: Science Fiction But Not As You Know It, coming to the British Library this summer (May 20-September 25):

This new exhibition will invite visitors to enter the world of the future, alien worlds, parallel worlds and virtual worlds, and speculate on how our universe might change. These imaginings can provoke hopes and dreams, exhilaration or fear – and shed light on the time and place in which they were created. We hope to encourage visitors’ questions such as : ‘Is there such a thing as a perfect world?’ ‘When and how will the world end?’ 

We will examine how scientific advances have influenced Science Fiction – and vice versa. We uncover hidden gems in our collection of manuscripts, printed books, magazines, fanzines, radio broadcasts and author interviews – from the earliest works to the latest films.

The exhibition traces development of the genre from True History by Lucian of Samosata written in the 2nd century AD to the writings of Cory Doctorow and China Miéville. Andy Sawyer, Science Fiction Collections Librarian, University of Liverpool, and guest-curator of the exhibition says in the press release:

There is no doubt that science fiction has split literary experts for decades and remains a source of debate and discussion across the world. What this exhibition shows is that science fiction is a way of asking questions about the world, its future, and our place in it that has roots in a number of literary traditions and cultures. What we call ‘science fiction’ has long tradition and will continue to dominate popular culture for a long time to come.

Key exihibits include Francis Godwin’s 1628 book The Man in the Moone, deemed by some the first work of sf in English literature (a man harnessed to a flock of geese makes a Moon landing) and a 17th century Dutch edition of Lucian of Samosata’s story about a war between moon people and sun people. There’s also an ad for the beef drink Bovril, a name inspired by Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race, in which a subterranean race of advanced beings use the substance Vril as an energy source. The manuscript of the novel will also be displayed.

[Thanks to Michael Walsh for the link.]

Bovril ad