Extra Credit Bradbury Links

There have been so many Bradbury tributes that no matter how heartfelt each one may be eventually a fan becomes jaded from reading them. Despite that I still find these worth recommending:

(1) This one, from The Economist , is brilliant:

With his eyes shut, he unbuttoned his shirt, slowly.

The young man, and the camera, stopped.

Beneath the old man’s shirt was an illustration of a forest, something like a coloured tattoo. But the forest moved. The giant ferns and trees of prehistory crowded in on a silver path that hovered six inches above the ground. Men were walking along it, tourists on a Time safari, out to kill dinosaurs. A hunter called Eckels blundered off the path into deep moss, and later found a butterfly, glistening green and gold and black, embedded in the mud on his boot. Because of that dead butterfly history changed, in a whisper or a roar, all down the aeons of time. The tale was called “A Sound of Thunder”.

“Want to see more?” the old man asked.

For the old man has so many more tattoos he can display, you know.

(2) A much younger Bradbury – age 14, to be precise – appears in this photo with George Burns in 1934, taken in the days when he was submitting jokes to the Burns and Allen radio show. Decades later when they met again, George was astonished to learn that Ray was the same kid who once wrote for him. “That was you!?” he exclaimed.

(3) Did you know Bradbury once starred in a futuristic Sunsweet Prunes commercial produced by Stan Freberg? Yes, even in the future prunes still have wrinkles.

[Thanks for these links goes out to Sandra Miesel, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter and the Harlan Ellison Forum.]

SF/Fantasy Books That Shaped America

The Library of Congress launched a multi-year Celebration of the Book on June 25  with its exhibition of Books That Shaped America. James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, explains:

This list of ‘Books That Shaped America’ is a starting point. It is not a register of the ‘best’ American books–although many of them fit that description. Rather, the list is intended to spark a national conversation on books written by Americans that have influenced our lives, whether they appear on this initial list or not.

Sf and fantasy books making the cut are:

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
  • Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Popular works dominate the list. The mandatory Melville, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald novels are outnumbered by bestsellers from writers like Ayn Rand, Harper Lee, Dr. Seuss, J. D. Salinger and even Dr. Benjamin Spock.

If the list is meant to spark discussion, surely one of those conversations must be about the way confining it to American works prevents the list from fully representing its theme. For example, if a 19th-century American family owned any book, it was likely the King James Bible or The Works of Shakespeare, neither of which qualify for inclusion. I’m confident Abraham Lincoln would have had both on his list of the “Books That Shaped America.”

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]

Weist Art Collection to Auction

Internet bidding has begun in Heritage Auctions’ Illustration Art Signature Auction which includes an array of items from the collection of the late Jerry Weist. This is HA’s second auction from his estate and will be the last substantial selection. Download the catalog here [large PDF file]. Final bidding takes place June 27 and 28 in Beverly Hills.

Several pieces have already attracted high-dollar offers. At this writing, there’s $10,000 bid for an Al Feldstein black-and-white cover for EC’s Weird Fantasy. Michael Whelan’s painting for the cover of The Martian Chronicles is up to $7,500. And $19,000 is the latest bid for Wally Wood’s 8-page adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s “Mars Is Heaven,” published in the 1950s by EC Comics’ Weird Science (the very thing Mark Evanier was blogging about just the other day.)

A four-issue set of Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel’s rare fanzine Science Fiction, The Advance Guard of Future Civilization is currently going for $2,000. Issue #3 contains “The Reign of the Superman,” with Shuster’s first drawing of Superman, five years before the character was unveiled in Action Comics #1.

Sf, fantasy and horror artists represented in the auction include Charles Addams, John Berkey, Rick Berry, Hannes Bok, Chesley Bonestell, Howard V. Brown, Edd Chastain, Vincent DiFate, Leo & Diane Dillon, Emsh, Clay Ferguson, Virgil Finlay, Frank Kelly Freas, Robert Fuqua, Tom Kidd, Josh Kirby, Frank R. Paul, Richard M. Powers, Alex Schomburg, J. Allen St. John, Van Dongen, Wesso, Michael Whelan and Gahan Wilson.

There are two noteworthy pieces from the Weist collection by people better known for their writing, a grotesque fantasy in green and yellow by Robert Bloch (1957) and a pink alien by Ray Bradbury (1958).

There’s even some art with fannish connections, by Lou Goldstone (for Voice of Imagination) and Alva Rogers.

Additional lots from other sources feature Maurice Sendak’s preliminary sketches for The Wild Things, and an editorial cartoon of Hitler by Theodore Suess Geisel. (Doctor who?)

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

Rusty Hevelin’s House Burglarized

The late Rusty Hevelin’s house was broken into and trashed reports Jack Cullers on a fannish e-mail listserv.

Cullers checks on the place from time to time for Rusty’s son, Bruce. Based on a tip from a neighbor he found a door had been jimmied open, the interior had been torn apart and water left running in the basement. When told the news by Cullers, Bruce inquired about damage to the pulps in the basement, and Cullers told him they were gone.

It is not clear what pulps were in the basement. However, Kathryn Hodson, Special Collections Department Manager, University of Iowa Libraries, confirm that the Hevelin collection has already been delivered to the University of Iowa as announced in its its April press release.

Update 06/25/2012: Added information received from UI. // Gregory J. Prickman of the University of Iowa Libraries adds:

Rusty’s collection is indeed safe at the University of Iowa–we worked diligently to bring it here because we knew it wouldn’t be safe for long in his house. There were some pulps left in the basement, they were duplicates that Rusty had set aside. We took a certain percentage to have some teaching copies of a few things and the rest were intended for one of Rusty’s dealer friends. I’m sorry to hear that he may not have picked them up, but Rusty’s collection, at least, is safe.

Lowrey: Sue Blom Passes Away

By Michael J. “Orange Mike” Lowrey: Long-time Milwaukee SF fan Suzanne Alles “Sue” Blom, author of the excellent alternate history novel Inca: The Scarlet Fringe (Tor, 2001) [and unsold sequel(s)], died at approximately 5:30 p.m. June 23 from complications of intestinal cancer. “She had friends around her talking politics when she just slipped away.”

Formerly a student of ancient history in Iowa, Sue came to Milwaukee as a VISTA volunteer, working for the local tenants’ union, and ended up staying here. She became a tax preparer, helping people “keep the tax man away from the door,” and has been a mainstay of Milwaukee progressive politics behind the scenes, as well as an active member of the Wisconsin fannish community.

Due to insufficient sales of the first volume, she was unable to find a publisher for the planned sequel(s) to Inca; but it garnered her more than one person’s nomination for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (although she’d had a novelette, “In Memory of Prince Edward”, in the April 1993 issue of Tomorrow Speculative Fiction). Sue was also the co-creator of the Verdant Lore Tarot, a plant-centered tarot deck.

Bid on Harry Warner’s Hugo

Harry Warner Jr.’s Best Fan Writer Hugo from 1972 is part of a fanhistoric lot on the auction block through June 28. The high bid at this writing is $700.

Part of Warner’s collection acquired by the late Jerry Weist, the Hugo is in an archive lot with a —

printed bound working draft proof and dust jacket mock-up (folded over a reprint copy of All Our Yesterdays hardcover) for A Wealth of Fable: An Informal History of Science-Fiction Fandom in the 1950, [and] the second edition of All Our Yesterdays in VG condition….

The Heritage Auction website misidentifies it as a 1971 Hugo. Harry only won the Best Fan Writer Hugo in 1969 and 1972, and it’s clear from the nameplate this award was given at L.A.Con (1972).

The website’s large image of the Hugo also shows one fin of the rocket and the nameplate are spattered with brown discoloration. That might clean up. On the other hand, the pits on the chrome rocket are quite possibly original – complaints from winners in the old days suggest that was a chronic manufacturing problem before Peter Weston took over making them.

Edd Vick comments, “I feel so conflicted. On one hand I’d hate to see it consigned to the dustbin, but on the other I’d certainly rather it wound up where it will be appreciated. I hope it winds up in the collection of a trufan.”

I expect he speaks for most fans on this subject.

[Thanks to Michael Walsh, Edd Vick and Andrew Porter for the story.]

Snapshots 86 That Guy!

Here are 7 developments of interest to fans.

(1) The way public television programming runs dead slow during pledge drives it makes perfect sense that zombies are helping raise money for KPBS San Diego. And the premium for a minimum donation couldn’t be more appropriate — a hand-cranked emergency radio.

(2) I really enjoyed Rod Searcey’s winsome photo of Fahrenheit 451 author Ray Bradbury posed with a company of firemen. The “Writers” portion of his site also has fine images of Neil Gaiman, Harlan Ellison, Kelly Link, Jack McDevitt and others. And I loved the one of Comet Hale-Bopp and the Stanford Dish.

(3) John Hickman interviews Coyote Frontier author Allen Steele for The Space Review:

Hickman: So is it fair to conclude that it ought to be humans and not just our machines in outer space?

Steele: …I’d give anything to hike the Valles Marineris or climb Mons Olympus. I’ll probably never have that chance—unfortunately, it appears that I was born too early for this—but I want the next generation to have that opportunity. It’s not just about sightseeing, but about making humankind a spacefaring civilization, and we can’t do that by simply relying on robots.

(4) A popular new theory is that the Easter Island statues were walked into position, like they were the world’s biggest and heaviest marionettes:

Sergio Rapu, 63, a Rapanui archaeologist and former Easter Island governor who did graduate work with Hunt, took his American colleagues to the ancient quarry on Rano Raraku, the island’s southeastern volcano. Looking at the many moai abandoned there in various stages of completion, Rapu explained how they were engineered to walk: Fat bellies tilted them forward, and a D-shaped base allowed handlers to roll and rock them side to side.

And here’s a bit more detail about the technique:

The researchers found that the statue’s fat belly produced a forward-falling center of gravity that facilitated vertical transport. A crew of as few as 18 people could use ropes to rock the statue back and forth, and forward… The vertical-transport trick worked with four rope-pullers on each side, plus 10 people to pull on the statue from behind, as if they were holding back a dog that was straining forward on a walk.

(5) Once upon a time somebody tried to use Ray Bradbury’s work without paying. (Certainly an understatement, but “twice a hundred thousand upon a time” reads so awkwardly.) Mark Evanier (News From Me) tells what Bradbury did about it when the klepto was EC Comics’ William Gaines:

Not long after its publication, the burglary was noticed by Mr. Bradbury but he did not go screaming to lawyers. He noted that the adaptation was well-done and that the two stories had been rather cleverly intertwined, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, so to speak. Suing might cost a lot, he knew, and there probably wasn’t much money to be collected…so he tried another approach. He wrote Gaines a letter that said, in essence, “You seem to have neglected to pay me for the adaptation of my work.” Gaines sent a modest check, a brief correspondence ensued and EC wound up adapting many of Ray’s stories on an official basis.

Al Feldstein did the adaptations. Bradbury met him for the first time 50 years later. Mark Evanier arranged for them to meet onstage during a Comic-Con panel in 2002 (circumventing Julie Schwartz in the process!) It’s a four-part story — (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)(Part 4).

(6) Would you accept Game of Thrones’ George R. R. Martin as an authority about sex and violence on television? Well, heck yeah!

Q: The books depict more violence than the shows, which have their share of battles. Did you struggle to find a line on how to describe violence?

A: I don’t think I made any effort to define a line, I just want to present violence accurately and the way it is, and graphically in that sense. One of the things I hated about the television networks I worked for, primarily CBS with “Beauty and the Beast,” the premise was that Vincent is a beast and he’s repeatedly called on to defend Catharine and he does so violently. He doesn’t have a gun or a knife or anything. He is ripping people apart with his claws. We were never allowed to show any of that, it would be “disturbing.” But the network said we needed more “action,” code-speak for violence. No blood, not a drop of blood.

(7) But would you trust him to be your interior decorator? If so, he can get you this deal right away — a replica of the Iron Throne for just $30,000:

HBO is offering a life-size replica of King Joffrey’s seat from the hit fantasy series, made of 350 pounds of fiberglass and resin. (No, it’s not actually iron. That would have required a crane for delivery.)

[Thanks for these links goes out to Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, David Klaus and John King Tarpinian.]

Stu Shiffman Improves

Stu Shiffman was off sedation for much of the day on June 21, according to Tom Whitmore’s post at CaringBridge:

The improvement in his motion, attention and reactions was very visible. At one point Stu shook his head to say “No” — which is pretty good when you consider the operations he’s recently gone through!

Gone is the fever that followed his second surgery, responding to antibiotics.

Many people have come to the hospital to visit Stu and support Andi. See CaringBridge and Facebook for additional updates.