US Schedules Stamps of SF Writers

This summer the US Postal Service will issue a set of stamps featuring science fiction writers reports Gene Mierzejewski in a post at, who read the item in Linns Stamp News (subscription required) —

My heart couldn’t help skipping a beat a couple of weeks ago when Linn’s Stamp News — the New York Times of stamp collectors — published a roundup story about upcoming stamps. With little elaboration, the story mentioned that a set of stamps featuring science fiction writers was on the USPS schedule this year.

Another source says there will be five designs in the set.

Mierzejewski speculates at length about who might be the honorees.

At one time the rule was no living person could appear on U.S. postage, but that rule was eliminated in 2011. Who do you want to see commemorated?

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Spoiler: Robin Is On The Roof

There is an old comedy sketch where someone is chastised for blurting out, “Your cat is dead.” The fellow is told he should have led up to the bad news gradually – “Your cat is on the roof.” Then, “Your cat fell off the roof.” And finally….

That is what I want to do with this story, cushion the blow.

For Robin, who is not just Batman’s sidekick but also his son in the current iteration, has been killed off in the latest Batman Incorporated, part of DC’s “New 52.”

Or am I simply guilty of buying into marketing hype here? Is it really news anymore when a comic book publisher kills off a superhero? That’s practically a regular part of every franchise’s lifecycle. These heroes don’t stay dead.

David Betancourt of the Washington Post’s “Comic Riffs” column predicts both a replacement Robin (possibly female) and a resurrected Robin in the fullness of time —

Let’s not forget who Damian is: Although he’s halfWayne, he’s also half al Ghul. His mother, Talia, is the daughter of Ra’s al Ghul, one of Batman’s greatest foes. A man who has stayed alive for centuries using Lazarus pits. Lazarus pits that have the power to bring someone back from the dead.

As unwise as it may seem for DC to kill Damian at all — let alone so soon — it’s even more unwise to think that we’ll never see him again.

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the story.]

Richard Briers (1934-2013)

British actor Richard Briers, who suffered from emphysema for many years, has died at the age of 79.

He gained early fame in a 70s British sitcom, The Good Life, and worked regularly thereafter. He had many sf/fantasy credits. In the movie Watership Down (1978) he voiced the role of Fiver, and in a later Watership Down tv series (1999-2001) played Captain Broom.

In 1987 he appeared in a four-part episode of Doctor Who, “ParadiseTowers.”

He was also Smee in Peter Pan (2003) – he appears in the trailer at 1:12 mark.

Briers was a close friend of Kenneth Branagh, who cast him in six of his films, notably Henry V (as Bardolph), Hamlet (as Polonius), Much Ado About Nothing (as Leonato) and in the non-Shakespearean Frankenstein (as Grandfather).

[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]

Portland Will Host 2014 World Horror Con

Oregon Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. and the World Horror Society have announced that the 2014 World Horror Convention will be held in Portland, OR from May 8-11.

The headliners will be  — Author Guests of Honor Nancy Holder, Jack Ketchum, and Norman Partridge; Artist Guest of Honor Greg Staples; Editor Guest of Honor Paula Guran; Ghost of Honor Edward Gorey; and Toastmaster Alan M. Clark.

Membership sales will begin March 4, with voting for the WHC Grandmaster Award starting in the summer. Hotel bookings will be available June 1.

The World Horror 2014 website is presently under construction.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Rondo Voting Starts

Online voting has begun for the 11th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards. There are 35 categories — click the link to see the nominees for the best in the horror genre from 2012.

The website is fun to browse in its own right because some of the categories are illustrated.

For example, up for Best Toy, Model or Collectible is this set of action figures called the Presidential Monsters, with Baracula, Zom-Bush, Wolf Bill and Lincolnstein.

Any fan can vote. Send an e-mail containing your name and your picks to David Colton (taraco at by April 7.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the link.]

jan howard finder (1939-2013)

jan howard finder (“Wombat”), one of fandom’s great characters, died February 25 at 12:54 a.m. in Albany Medical Center Hospital CCU from renal and liver failure. He had been battling prostate cancer for several years.

Lin Daniel reports she and a friend were with jan when he died. “We probably had the hospital staff wondering about us, because we sat there and told stupid jan stories and laughed a lot.”

He was a conrunner, costumer and Tolkien fan. He toured New Zealand’s LoTR film locations in 2004 and 2006, and bent every effort to get Guillermo del Toro to agree to put him in The Hobbit when the director was still attached to the project.

Appropos of his nickname, jan’s best-known publishing project was Finder’s Guide To Australterrestrials, a 28-page collection of sketches of antipodean creatures done by sf and fan artists.

jan was a guest of honor at the 1993 Worldcon, ConFrancisco.

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

Update 02/26/2013: Corrected attribution of quote.

“Leadbeater’s Possum,” by Katherine Wadey for Finder’s Guide To Australterrestrials.

2013 Hugo Deadline Nears

Eligible voters have until March 10 to nominate for the 2013 Hugo Awards.

Those who had Supporting or Attending memberships in Chicon 7 (the 2012 Worldcon), or joined LoneStarCon 3 or Loncon 3 (the 2014 Worldcon) as a Supporting, Attending, or Young Adult member by January 31, 2013 may cast a nominating ballot. Electronic voting is an option – see details here.

Ballots must be received by Sunday, March 10, 2013, 11:59 p.m. EDT.

The full press release follows the jump.

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Scott Shaw! Deuce of Deuces

Scott Shaw!’s costume for the 1972 Worldcon – The Turd — was made with 3 jars of peanut butter, a pair of Leggs pantyhose, cornstarch and some cornhusks. It brought him lasting infamy and inspired one of Rotsler’s Rules for Masquerades. And after decades of sharing the story with convention audiences Shaw has now told it to the camera.

I was one of the first fans to see Shaw in costume that day and many times considered sharing my eyewitness account here. But there’s really no second line to a story that begins, “I was there when The Turd came out.” Put another way, I was standing in front of the elevator doors when Shaw arrived and stalked off to the ballroom, leaving chunky drips in his wake.

Comics artist Scott Shaw! was 21 and his story about a monster from the underground sewers called The Turd had been published not long before he arrived at the Los Angeles Worldcon of 1972. He’d been to a Worldcon masquerade before. This time he felt an overwhelming desire to see what people who worked all year on their costumes would think about an entry someone had made in the last five minutes.

They didn’t think kindly of it, was the answer. Shaw laughs as he retells the grim details in his video. Thanks to him, Rotsler’s Rules for Masquerades [PDF file] admonishes fans —  

7. Parts of your costume should not be edible or smell. Parts of your costume should not fall off accidentally, brush off against other contestants, or be left lying around on the stage.

Afterwards Shaw took an epic shower. He worried about what the maid would think, but that’s nothing next to other embellishments that end his story. As Shaw tells it, a few weeks after L.A.Con the hotel plumbing exploded, having been clogged with massive amounts of peanut butter. The hotel came back to the convention committee and charged them thousands of dollars for the repairs.

That last part never happened.

For one thing, the con only cleared a couple of thousand dollars altogether and they didn’t spend any of it replumbing the International Hotel. The peanut butter reportedly did clog the bathtub in Shaw’s room, but that’s all.  

Still, you have to appreciate the symmetry that Shaw ends his story with a bunch of BS.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, Andrew Porter, David Klaus, Steven H Silver and all the ships at sea for this story, and to Craig Miller for a memory download.]

Bram Stoker Nominees

The Horror Writers Association has announced the finalists for the Bram Stoker Awards from the 2012 eligibility year.

Ethridge, Benjamin Kane – Bottled Abyss (Redrum Horror)
Everson, John – NightWhere (Samhain Publishing)
Kiernan, Caitlin R. – The Drowning Girl (Roc)
Little, Bentley – The Haunted (Signet)
McKinney, Joe – Inheritance (Evil Jester Press)

Boccacino, Michael – Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling (William Morrow)
Coates, Deborah – Wide Open (Tor Books)
Day, Charles – The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief (Noble YA Publishers LLC)
Dudar, Peter – A Requiem for Dead Flies (Nightscape Press)
Gropp, Richard – Bad Glass (Ballantine/Del Rey)
Soares, L.L. – Life Rage (Nightscape Press)

Bray, Libba – The Diviners (Little Brown)
Lyga, Barry – I Hunt Killers (Little Brown)
Maberry, Jonathan – Flesh & Bone (Simon & Schuster)
McCarty, Michael – I Kissed A Ghoul (Noble Romance Publishing)
Stiefvater, Maggie – The Raven Boys (Scholastic Press)
Strand, Jeff – A Bad Day for Voodoo (Sourcebooks)

Bunn, Cullen – The Sixth Gun Volume 3: Bound (Oni Press)
Moore, Terry – Rachel Rising Vol. 1: The Shadow of Death (Abstract Studio)
Thornton, Ravi – The Tale of Brin and Bent and Minno Marylebone (Jonathan Cape)
Wacks, Peter J., and Guy Anthony De Marco – Behind These Eyes (Villainous Press)
Wood, Rocky, and Lisa Morton – Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times (McFarland)

Burke, Kealan Patrick – Thirty Miles South of Dry County (Delirium Books)
Ketchum, Jack, and Lucky McKee – I’m Not Sam (Sinister Grin Press)
McKinney, Joe, and Michael McCarty – Lost Girl of the Lake (Bad Moon Books)
O’Neill, Gene – The Blue Heron (Dark Regions Press)
Prentiss, Norman – The Fleshless Man (Delirium Books)

Boston, Bruce – Surrounded by the Mutant Rain Forest (Daily Science Fiction)
McKinney, Joe – Bury My Heart at Marvin Gardens (Best of Dark Moon Digest, Dark Moon Books)
Ochse, Weston – Righteous (Psychos, Black Dog and Leventhall Publication)
Palisano, John – Available Light (Lovecraft eZine, March 2012)
Snyder, Lucy – Magdala Amygdala (Dark Faith: Invocations, Apex Book Company)

Goldman, Jane – The Woman in Black (Cross Creek Pictures)
Kim, Sang Kyu – The Walking Dead, “Killer Within” (AMC TV)
Minear, Tim – American Horror Story: Asylum, “Dark Cousin” (Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, Ryan Murphy Productions)
Ross, Gary, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray – The Hunger Games (Lionsgate, Color Force)
Whedon, Joss, and Drew Goddard – The Cabin in the Woods (Mutant Enemy Productions, Lionsgate)

Castle, Mort, and Sam Weller – Shadow Show (HarperCollins)
Guignard, Eric J. – Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations (Dark Moon Books)
Miller, Eric – Hell Comes to Hollywood (Big Time Books)
Scioneaux, Mark C., R.J. Cavender, and Robert S. Wilson – Horror for Good: A Charitable Anthology (Cutting Block Press)
Swanson, Stan – Slices of Flesh (Dark Moon Books)

Carroll, Jonathan – Woman Who Married a Cloud: Collected Stories (Subterranean Press)
Castle, Mort – New Moon on the Water (Dark Regions)
Hand, Elizabeth – Errantry: Strange Stories (Small Beer Press)
Hirshberg, Glen – The Janus Tree (Subterranean Press)
Oates, Joyce Carol – Black Dahlia and White Rose: Stories (Ecco)

Collings, Michael – Writing Darkness (CreateSpace)
Klinger, Les – The Annotated Sandman, Volume 1 (Vertigo)
Morton, Lisa – Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween (Reaktion Books)
Paffenroth, Kim, and John W. Morehead – The Undead and Theology (Pickwick Publications)
Phillips, Kendall R. – Dark Directions: Romero, Craven, Carpenter, and the Modern Horror Film (Southern Illinois University Press)

Addison, Linda, and Stephen M. Wilson – Dark Duet (NECON eBooks)
Boston, Bruce, and Gary William Crawford – Notes from the Shadow City (Dark Regions Press)
Collings, Michael – A Verse to Horrors (Amazon Digital Services)
Simon, Marge – Vampires, Zombies & Wanton Souls (Elektrik Milk Bath Press)
Turzillo, Mary A. – Lovers & Killers (Dark Regions)

NOTE: In two categories there are six nominees because two works tied for fifth place.

HWA active and lifetime members have until March 31 to vote for the winners, which will be announced on June 15.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

What Is The Question?

Tonight’s (February 25) Jeopardy! broadcast challenged players in its Tournament of Champions with a “Hugo Awards in Science Fiction” category during Double Jeopardy.

The five answers were:

1. This Orwell novel that says, “Four legs good, two legs Bad”

2. Damon Knight for this short story (or is it the title of a cookbook?)

3. Daniel Keyes’ “Flowers for” this lab mouse

4. J.K. Rowling for “Harry Potter and” this burning vessel

5. To the short story “I have no Mouth, and I must” do this

Tonight’s contestants — unlike previous participants in other episodes of Jeopardy! –were able to supply the correct SF questions to match all the answers.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]