Light’s On But No One’s Home

During renovations of Clifton’s Cafeteria in Los Angeles, a neon lamp that was switched on during the Great Depression was found behind a partition. It’s been on for 77 years.  The owner estimates it’s generated more than $17,000 in electric bills.

Fans know Clifton’s as the place LASFS met and freeloaded for a few years in the late 1930s. So not only was the light on all the time that LASFS met at Clifton’s, it’s been on for nearly the entire history of the club’s existence — 78 years this October.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.] 

Fandom’s Most Beloved Typo’s “Word of the Day” for May 25 is “filk” —

adj. (adj) About or inspired by science fiction, fantasy, horror, science, and/or subjects of interest to fans of speculative fiction; frequently, being a song whose lyrics have been altered to refer to science fiction; parodying.

The Wordnik post takes its definition from the Wikitionary entry for “filk”.

Unlike most developments in the history of popular culture, how the word “filk” got its start is precisely known. Lee Jacobs typoed the word “folk” in the title of his manuscript “The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music” intended for distribution in a mailing of the Spectator Amateur Press Society in the early 1950s. While I’ve never seen the article and can’t say what the problem was, Wrai Ballard, SAPS’ official editor at the time, feared its bawdy content could get him into trouble with the Post Office under the Comstock Laws and he refused to send it out. Ballard nevertheless enjoyed the typo, as did the others he told about it. “Filk music” rapidly became part of the faannish jargon.

Thanks to Lee Gold, we even know that the first composition to designate itself a filksong was “Barbarous Allen”, lyrics attributed to Poul Anderson, in Karen Kruse Anderson’s SAPSzine Die Zeitschrift für Vollstandigen Unsinn #774 (1953).

[Thanks to Sam Long for the story.]

Chicon 7 Memorial Day Membership Sale

Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon, will be offering a special rate discount for all Adult Attending membership purchases made on Memorial Day, May 28.

For 24 hours only, Adult Attending membership rates will be lowered to $195, a savings of $20. Anyone joining or upgrading their membership online will automatically receive this special discount. The offer will also be available to fans buying Chicon 7 memberships at conventions held over the weekend – look out for Chicon 7 representatives at Baycon, Wiscon, and ConQuest.

Also, Chicon 7 has issued its fourth Progress Report. A downloadable electronic version of PR4 is available here. PR4 contains the Hugo Award Final Ballot, 2014 Worldcon Site Selection Ballot, and updates from the convention team.

Two full press releases follow the jump. Oh, the humanity…

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Harlan Ellison Collectible Comics Offered

Harlan Ellison has just unlocked the vault of The Lost Aztec Temple of Mars…just a crack…and allowed Blast Off Comics to sneak out a few of the wonders from comic book collection.

Click on  ”Harlan Ellison Collection” to see what’s for sale now and watch videos of Harlan telling about his treasured comics:

The Harlan Ellison Collection – X-Men #1 [YouTube] touts his copy autographed by Stan Lee.  First appearances of Professor X, Cyclops, Iceman, the Angel, the Beast, Marvel Girl and Mgneto. It’s offered for $5,000.

The Harlan Ellison Collection – Batman #234 [YouTube] is a 1971 issue where Batman stars in “Half an Evil,” the first appearance of the Silver Age Two-Face. Script by Denny O’Neil, pencils by Neal Adams, inks by Dick Giordano. This is going for the utterly affordable price of $300.

Hundreds of comics will be added to the sale in the near future. These comics come with a certificate of authenticity signed and dated by Harlan.

[Thanks to the Harlan Ellison Recording Collection for the story.]

2012 Mythopoeic Award Nominees

Finalists for the 2012 Mythopoeic Awards have been announced. The winners will be revealed during Mythcon XLIII, to be held from August 3-6, in Berkeley, California.

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature

  • Lisa Goldstein, The Uncertain Places (Tachyon)
  • Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus (Doubleday)
  • Richard Parks, The Heavenly Fox (PS Publishing)
  • Catherynne M. Valente, Deathless (Tor)
  • Jo Walton, Among Others (Tor)

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature

  • Lisa Mantchev, Théâtre Illuminata series, consisting of Eyes Like Stars, Perchance to Dream, and So Silver Bright (Feiwel and Friends)
  • Tamora Pierce, Beka Cooper series, consisting of Terrier, Bloodhound, and Mastiff (Random House)
  • Delia Sherman, The Freedom Maze (Big Mouth House)
  • Maggie Stiefvater, The Scorpio Races (Scholastic)
  • Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Feiwel and Friends)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies

  • Jason Fisher, ed. Tolkien and the Study of His Sources: Critical Essays (McFarland, 2011)
  • Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The Art of the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (HarperCollins, 2011)
  • Carl Phelpstead. Tolkien and Wales: Language, Literature and Identity (Univ. of Wales Press, 2011)
  • Sanford Schwartz. C.S. Lewis on the Final Frontier: Science and the Supernatural in the Space Trilogy (Oxford Univ. Press, 2009)
  • Steve Walker, The Power of Tolkien’s Prose: Middle-earth’s Magical Style (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009)

Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies

  • Ruth B. Bottigheimer, Fairy Tales: A New History (SUNY Press, 2009)
  • Bonnie Gaarden, The Christian Goddess: Archetype and Theology in the Fantasies of George MacDonald (Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press, 2011)
  • Ursula K. Le Guin, Cheek by Jowl (Aqueduct Press, 2009)
  • Darrell Schweitzer, The Fantastic Horizon: Essays and Reviews (Borgo Press, 2009)
  • Jack Zipes, The Enchanted Screen: The Unknown History of Fairy-Tale Films (Routledge, 2011)

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature is given to the fantasy novel, multi-volume, or single-author story collection for adults published during 2011that best exemplifies the spirit of the Inklings. Books are eligible for two years after publication if not selected as a finalist during the first year of eligibility. Books from a series are eligible if they stand on their own; otherwise, the series becomes eligible the year its final volume appears.

The Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature honors books for younger readers (from Young Adults to picture books for beginning readers), in the tradition of The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia. Rules for eligibility are otherwise the same as for the Adult Literature award. The question of which award a borderline book is best suited for will be decided by consensus of the committees.

The Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies is given to books on Tolkien, Lewis, and/or Williams that make significant contributions to Inklings scholarship. For this award, books first published during the last three years (2009–2011) are eligible, including finalists for previous years.

The Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies is given to scholarly books on other specific authors in the Inklings tradition, or to more general works on the genres of myth and fantasy. The period of eligibility is three years, as for the Inklings Studies award.

BVC’s “All You Can Read”
Library Ebook Plan

Book View Café (BVC), the author-run epublisher, has launched a library-friendly “All You Can Read” ebook program by signing distribution agreements with Douglas County Libraries, the third largest library system in Colorado, and Wheelers Books, New Zealand’s largest online new book supplier to schools and libraries.

Chris Dolley, BVC Library Coordinator, explains how it works:

We place no restrictions on the number of times our titles may be loaned out and offer up to 45% discount to libraries, making the average price for our books less than $3.00. Everybody wins: libraries, their patrons, and our authors.

Book View Café is a cooperative effort whose members share the tasks of editing, formatting, and other steps in publishing. Members include Hugo and Nebula award winners (Ursula Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, David D. Levine, and Linda Nagata), NY Times bestsellers and notable book authors (Patricia Rice, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Lois Gresh, and Sarah Zettel), Campbell winner Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant, and Philip K. Dick award winner C.L. Anderson.

BVC publishes original titles and also books from its members’ substantial backlist. “Overall, we’re up to two books a week, sometimes three,” says Pati Nagle, BVC’s Publications Director. “And each month more well-known authors join our co-operative. Currently we have 40 authors and over 140 titles.”

The library program is more than just a marketing idea. BVC members personally feel strongly that libraries should be supported. “As a reader I owe a huge debt to libraries,” says Chris Dolley. “I came from a family who loved books but couldn’t afford to buy them. The local library introduced me to authors and subjects I’d never have read otherwise. We hope the All You Can Read program will help do the same today.”

Blog Bites Man

Politico didn’t confine itself on Tuesday to ridiculing Mitt Romney’s sci-fi cred, it also managed work in a horror reference by headlining another column ”Is Mitt Romney Count Dracula?” No quotes from fans in that one, however. You know if Forry were still alive he’d have been happy to provide as many as they wanted, and let them photograph Bela Lugosi’s ring in the bargain. And when asked if he’d read Bram Stoker’s book Forry could resort to the answer he gave fans who asked if he’d read all the books in his collection. “Every last word,” he’d say. For as he wrote in Mimosa #26, “It’s true! When I get a new book I turn to the last page — and read the last word!”

Spectrum Fantastic Art Awards

Quixotic Fusion at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live!

The Spectrum 19 Awards in eight categories were announced May 19 in Kansas City during Spectrum Fantastic Art Live!, a convention focused on fantasy and science fiction art and associated with SPECTRUM books.

The winners in each category are:

Gold – Tyler Jacobson: Talon of Umberlee
Silver – Android Jones: Boom Festival

Gold – Edward Kinsella: Wooden Bones
Silver – Jean-Babtiste Monge: Ragnarok

Gold – Alex Alice: Sigfried III
Silver – Jim Murray: DOTA 2: Tales from the Secret Shop

Concept Art:
Gold – Justin Sweet: Jack the Giant Killer
Silver – Daniel Dociu: Hangar

Gold – Virginie Ropars: Jack
Silver – Thomas S. Kuebler: I am Providence

Gold – Jean-Baptiste Monge: Mic Mac Cormac
Silver – James Gurney: Kosmocertatops

Gold – Raoul Vitale: Turin and the Glaurung
Silver – Android Jones: Water Dragon 2012

Gold – Michael Whelan: CK Unmasked
Silver – Justin Gerard: Portrait of a Monster #3

Grand Master:
James Gurney

Presenters included Spectrum founders Arnie and Cathy Fenner, Tor Books Art Director Irene Gallo, and artists Gregory Manchess, Greg Spalenka, Iain McCaig, Jarrod and Brandon Schiflett, Donato Giancola, and Michael Whelan.

Finalists in each category were projected onto a 30′ wide screen; the screen was also used to remember those in the artistic community who had passed away in the previous year and to review the recipients of the Grand Master Award.

Framing the festivities were performances by the nationally renowned Quixtotic Fusion dance company and by Phadroid aka digital creator Android and dancer Phaedra Jones. The awards show was produced by Lazarus Potter of the Lazarus Design Group in association with Quixotic Fusion and the Midland Theater. Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! was organized by Jim Fallone, Shena Wolf, Bunny Muchmore, Arlo Burnett, Lazarus Potter, and the Fenners.

All of the award winning work will be included in Spectrum 19: The Best In Contemporary Fantastic Art, which will be published by Underwood Books in November.

More coverage and photos at Rockville Music Magazine.

Update: 05/23/2012: Irene Gallo has granted permission for the use of her photos here. I apologize for not providing credit earlier. That happened because the photos attached to the press release were not attributed.

Arnie and Cathy Fenner

Michael Whelan

Greg Spalenka

Greg Manchess

Android Jones

Irene Gallo

James Gurney

Mike Mignola

Justin Sweet


Sounding Presidential

One of science fiction fandom’s unwritten rules is – Never review a book you haven’t read.

But that’s not a rule in politics, written or unwritten, so Politico unhesitatingly quoted Todd Dashoff’s criticisms of Battlefield Earth in ”Mitt Romney: Sci-fi fan”.

Romney has praised various sf/fantasy works during two campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination. He cited L. Ron Hubbard’s novel as his favorite book in a May 2007 Fox News interview. This week Politico revived the story and asked selected experts to comment:

Even Todd Dashoff, president of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, raised an eyebrow at the choice.

Asked if he’d read the book, Dashoff told POLITICO he hadn’t – “thankfully.”

“Partly because it’s a long book and partially because L. Ron Hubbard’s stuff does have a reputation for a certain style,” Dashoff explained. “It’s not the best written stuff on the planet. It’s not going to make anybody’s list of the best science fiction. ‘Turgid’ might be the word to describe it.”

Of Romney, Dashoff said: “I would be curious to find out how much actual reading he’d done in the field. Let’s put it that way.”

Let’s put it this way: Mitt Romney has read one science fiction book Todd Dashoff hasn’t.

[Thanks to Steven H Silver for the link.]

Art of the Fantastic Exhibit
Coming to Allentown

Star Wars by Jim Steranko

An ambitious showcase of contemporary fantastic art will run June 3-9 at the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley. Art at the Edge: Art of the Fantastic will feature works by James Gurney, Greg Hildebrandt, Paul Lehr, Jim Steranko and others.

The exhibition’s guest curators, Patrick and Jeannie Wilshire, fantastic art has been around since man has “been able to make meaningful marks on permanent materials.”  They go on to say that, “Ancient artwork is rife with narrative depictions of gods, monsters, shining deeds and things crawling from dark shadows.”

A press release asserts this “will not only be the most comprehensive exhibition of fantastic art to date, it will also be the first time that this discipline has been presented on such a large scale.”

I wonder if they’ll make good on that boast? This will have to be quite an event to surpass Alex and Phyllis Eisenstein’s Classics of Science Fiction Art at Chicago 2000, which presented works by Ed Emshwiller, Frank Kelly Freas, Edd Cartier, John Schoenherr, Ed Valigursky, Richard M. Powers, Mel Hunter, Wallace Wood, H. R. van Dongen, and others.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]