Kramer Denied Bond in Georgia

Ed Kramer’s defense attorney, Brian Steel, was in a Gwinnett County court on April 26 asking for his client to be released on bond, less than three months after being extradited from Connecticut for violating the terms of his previous release. And Kramer left before the hearing was over, claiming he felt too ill to remain to the end.

Warned repeatedly that proceedings would go on without him, Ed Kramer stood pat. He didn’t feel well. The accommodations sheriff’s deputies had made for a oxygen tank were no longer adequate.

“I understand, I don’t have a choice at this point,” Kramer — bespectacled, a large black yamulke perched on a larger, messy mass of black hair, breathing oxygen from a tank on the back of his wheelchair — told Gwinnett County Judge Karen Beyers.

“Your appearance appears to be just the same as when you began this hearing today,” Beyers said. “In terms of my observations of you, there’s nothing that I can see that’s deteriorated in terms of your physical appearance since you’ve been here, or in terms of your attention to the matters.”

Kramer responded quickly before being wheeled out of the courtroom.

“Thank you for your medical assessment,” he snarked.

Judge Karen Beyers denied bond after both parties presented their evidence.

“I find that the defendant has not abided by conditions of bond and it appears to me that he’s not going to do so based on his conduct and the evidence presented,” she said. “He’s been to Kentucky, he’s been to Connecticut, he’s reported by cellphone.”

Kramer faces multiple counts of child molestation that have been pending since his arrest in 2000. After Kramer’s team of attorneys filed a request for speedy trial in 2009, Judge Beyers ruled that when they filed a motion declaring Kramer physically able to attend trial, the case would proceed.

District Attorney Danny Porter tried to convince the court of Kramer’s capacity to participate by presenting two witnesses who said they observed Kramer walking unhindered (and with a camera) in 2011.

Krystal Phillips was the makeup artist for the “three-part horror period anthology” that Kramer joined in Milford, Conn. Her hair cut short and bleached blond, big circular earrings matching her blue blouse, Phillips told the court that she watched Kramer stroll through the hilly woods where the movie was being shot….

A second witness, a producer from Louisville, Ky., named Tim Gooch, said Kramer showed up in May 2011 while he and a small team were shooting a “Lord of the Rings” spoof series. Gooch said Kramer “wasn’t gonna run marathons,” but that he saw him walking without oxygen and with minimal help from a cane.

“I saw him do that a couple of times,” Gooch said.

Porter has filed a motion to place the case on a trial calendar, pending medical approval of the defense. Steel said a hearing on the calendar motion could be possible “in two or three months.”

There is a video news report of today’s hearing available here at

Kramer Bond hearing photo

[Thanks to Don Cook and Nancy Collins for the story.]

Banks Posts New Message

Iain M. Banks came back from his honeymoon to an outpouring of love and sympathy from well-wishers (and otherwise, from a few nuts) in comments left at Banksophilia after Banks announced he has terminal cancer. He acknowledged the response in his latest post:

Well, what an odd old time it’s been. I’m now a married man – again – and I’ve been truly stunned by the response to the original press release we put out on March 3rd – cunningly timed to hit the outerweb just as we were heading away on honeymoon to mostly-sunny-with-a-touch-of-rain Venice and then mostly-rainy-with-a-touch-of-sun Paris….

Mostly, though – good grief! – what an outpouring of love, affection and respect. I honestly had no idea. Of course I’ve always known I have a fair few fans, and I’ve always been a fan of my fans – certainly of those who turned up at signing sessions, bookshop events, literary festivals, library gigs and so on. The people I spoke to on these occasions always seemed bright, clever, highly informed and sometimes worryingly more intelligent than me (see – somebody really intelligent would have written “I” there). As well as displaying immense good taste in literature, obviously.

Banks’ wife Adele, who now signs herself “Chief Widow-in-Waiting,” added her own post of thanks:

Iain is reading every single comment although with something like 105 pages to get through this might take a little while! That, however, is a very pleasurable task. It is huge fun to read about all the people whose relationships started (and survived!) through mutual love of Iain’s writing; to read about the children who don’t know yet know what stack of books is waiting for them when parents can be reasonably sure that they won’t try any of the stunts from The Wasp Factory; to the people who discovered bands or malts through repeated exposure to Iain’s own passions. And it’s amazing to hear all the kind and sympathetic words – from Laos to Hong Kong to Uruguay to India to Dunedin to Dunfermline – it is just extraordinarily touching to have you all take the time to speak to Iain – he has roared with laughter and been deeply moved by the love, kindness and wit in your messages.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Steampunk Politics

despicable me minionsThe Washington Post reports that today the House will probably vote to keep alive the Federal helium program, a strategic reserve created in the 1920s:

Today, 88 years later, the zeppelin threat is over. Private companies have learned to produce helium. But the U.S. government still has its own reserve: a giant porous rock formation under the Texas Panhandle, whose crannies hold enough helium to fill 33 billion party balloons.

The problem is that customers in business and science fear a shortage if the program is stopped:

Congress says private industry simply didn’t step up to supply more helium, in part because the federal government was selling its helium so cheaply. In industry, it’s said that there has been a spike in demand for helium, and that finding new supplies isn’t easy. That requires drilling in a certain kind of natural gas field, where helium comes up along with the gas.

Both Reagan and Clinton regarded the helium program as government waste and tried to get rid of it – with legislation to that effect passed in 1996. But it rose again, and every new attempt to kill it has… taken gas. 

Despite being characterized as a museum technology, dirigibles are still being developed by the Pentagon and NASA. In January, the Aeros Company of Southern California showed the media its high-tech helium airship, prototype for a larger model that’s designed to carry 66 tons of cargo.

Airship prototype developed by the Aeros Company.

Airship prototype developed by the Aeros Company.

Starship Century Symposium at UCSD

Starship CenturyThe prospects for returning to the Moon are discouraging and the cost of visiting Mars is out of sight. What should a space fan do? Dream bigger!

Several top scientists and hard sf writers who have devoted their careers to big dreams will participate in the Starship Century Symposium, hosted by the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination on May 21-22 in collaboration with Gregory and James Benford. Speeches and panels will present ideas from the Benfords’ new Starship Century anthology of science and science fiction.

Four questions will drive the discussion –

Is this the century we begin to build starships?
Why go to the Stars?
Can we?
Should We?

The vision of a 100 year program to create a starship will be explored – from the development of an interplanetary economic infrastructure, to the structural requirements, the human factors and speculations on what we might find.

The challenges and opportunities for humanity’s long-term future in space will be addressed by the Benford brothers, Freeman Dyson, Paul Davies, Peter Schwartz, John Cramer, Robert Zubrin and more. Science fiction authors Neal Stephenson, Allen Steele, Joe Haldeman, Geoffrey Landis and David Brin will be among the writers discussing what effect these explorations might have upon individuals and civilization as a whole.

The full agenda is here. Two of the highlights will be —  

Tuesday, May 21

Panel: The Future Of New Space

Freeman Dyson
Neal Stephenson
Allen Steele
Geoffrey Landis

Wednesday, May 22

Fiction Writers Panel: Envisioning The Starship Era

moderated by Gregory Benford

Joe Haldeman
David Brin
Larry Niven
Vernor Vinge
Jon Lomberg

[Thanks to Gregory Benford for the story.]

Saying Bleep Nicely

“To the men I write about profanity is adornment and ornament and is never vulgar and I try to write it so,” John Steinbeck wrote to his godmother in 1939.

If we didn’t already know that the author of Grapes of Wrath wasn’t writing in the science fiction genre at the time, that line would tell us.

Today everyone feels free to sprinkle those unspeakable (on TV anyway) words throughout a novel – Iain M. Banks’ “Culture” stories are my latest reminder.

In 1939, however, the saltiest language E. E. Smith could put in print was something like Kimball Kinnison swearing by “Klono’s brazen hoofs and diamond-tipped horns!”   

And, of course, swearing by any generally-recognized deity would have been out of the question. So in Gray Lensman our hero fills us in on the theology:

“By the way, Kim,” she asked idly as they strolled back toward the ball-room, “who is this Klono by whom you were swearing a while ago?  Another spaceman’s god like Noshabkeming, of the Valerians?”

“Something like him, only more so,” he laughed.  “A combination of Noshabkeming, some of the gods of the ancient Greeks and Romans, all three of the Fates, and quite a few other things as well.  I think, originally, from Corvina, but fairly wide-spread through certain sections of the galaxy now.  He’s got so much stuff—teeth and horns, claws and whiskers, tail and everything—that he’s much more satisfactory to swear by than any other space-god I know of.” 

2013 DUFF Race Begins

Australian fans Bill Wright and Clare McDonald-Sims are your candidates for the 2013 Down Under Fan Fund. The winner will attend LoneStarCon 3 and boogie around North America afterwards. Copies of the ballot in various formats are available here.

Clare McDonald-Sims has been nominated by  Australasian fans Rose Mitchell, Perry Middlemiss and Janice Gelb, and by North American fans Curt Phillips and Chris Garcia. She has been a member of Austrek  for over a decade — General Secretary for a few years and President for one year. She worked on Aussiecon 4 as well.

Bill Wright’s Australasian nominators are Bruce Gillespie, Mervyn Binns, and Martin James Ditmar (Dick) Jenssen. His North American nominators are Murray Moore and John Purcell. He is a lifetime member of the Melbourne SF Club, a founding member of Anzapa, and a founding member of the Nova Mob (a Melbourne club). He was secretary for the first Aussiecon in 1975 and helped organize the Bring Bruce Bayside Fan Fund in 2004. He currently publishes Interstellar Ramjet Scoop and works for the Australian SF Foundation. (And Bill introduced me to Foster’s beer in 1972!)

Votes will be accepted until midnight June 10, 2013 and must be accompanied by a donation of at least $5 Australian, Canadian, United States, or $7 New Zealand. Anyone active in fandom on or before January 1, 2013 may vote. Electronic voting and donation is available through PayPal, see details on the ballot.

[Thanks to Irwin Hirsh for the story.]

Shuttlecraft Galileo Restoration

Shuttlecraft Galileo restorationAfter Adam Schneider and Alec Peters paid $70,000 for the decaying remains of Star Trek’s Shuttlecraft Galileo they wasted no time getting the relic into the hands of restoration specialists. Ironically, moving the 24-foot-long set piece to Master Shipwrights’ New Jersey worksite nearly put an end to it.

The Galileo arrived at the firm’s Monmouth County, New Jersey facility in time to face destruction by Hurricane Sandy. Master Shipwrights was flooded with two feet of water. “Fortunately, Galileo was up on a trailer and was unaffected!” writes Alec Peters. “How terrible would it have been to make it through 45 years of travel and neglect to suffer a dismal fate in a hurricane?”

The restoration firm, selected for its expertise in working on wooden craft, will finish the job in a few weeks. After its refurbishment is completed, Galileo will be placed in a yet-to-be-named public space, preferably an aviation museum.

The duo have been able to afford this labor of love because Adam Schneider, a collector of Star Trek screen-used ship filming miniatures, is a Principal at Deloitte, while Alec Peters is the founder of Propworx, which has handled studio prop and costume auctions for Battlestar Galactica, Stargate, Iron Man and Iron Man 2, as well as the official CBS licensed Star Trek auction.

One of Fay Weldon’s Favorites

Fay Weldon, author behind the first episode of Upstairs, Downstairs and a noted feminist, named her 6 favorite books for The Week. Lo and behold! The second book on her list is —

Dangerous Visions edited by Harlan Ellison (Gollancz, $18). This 1967 collection of science fiction stories includes the great masters of the genre at the time, and the times were rich indeed. If science fiction is still a closed book to you, try these prophetic, insightful, and ingenious views of a future, and reform. A bonus: Writers everywhere are much cheered by the blessed Ellison’s “Pay the writer” rant, which you can watch on YouTube.

Ellison told readers of his Forum he is “soaring right now.”

Help Wanted as SF Outreach Prepares for Dallas Comic Con

SF Outreach logoBy Helen Montgomery: Some of you are familiar with the Science Fiction Outreach Project (SFOP), which was started a few years ago to help promote science fiction fandom to comic book fans. Headed up by James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Spike, and Helen Montgomery, we went to WonderCon in San Francisco in April 2011 to help promote Renovation. Last year, headed up by James and Helen, we went to CE2 in Chicago to help promote Chicon 7.

This year, the SFOP is going to Dallas Comic Con to help promote Texas fandom and LoneStarCon 3.

We give away books. Between 5,000 and 6,000 of them in three days. That’s the hook – find the readers or potential readers of SF, and talk to them about our fandom. It’s a ton of fun, meeting lots of people, seeing how excited people get when they find a good book or see a Hugo Award in person (we’ve been able to borrow one to display in past years, and will this year as well), finding out about Worldcon…

It’s a big endeavor, and we are looking for volunteers who are able to join us in Dallas.

(1) Book Sorting: We need to sort alphabetically all the books that have been donated. We are going to be doing this on Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5. We will be at the Animefest “clubhouse,” 675 N Glenville Dr, Suite 165, Richardson, TX (Dallas area). We’ll start at 10 a.m., we will provide lunch for volunteers, and we finish up when we all get hungry and tired and go to dinner.

(2) Dallas Comic Con (DCC): Move in is Thursday, May 16 and the morning of Friday, May 17. The actual convention is the afternoon of Friday, May 17 through Sunday, May 19. We need folks who are willing to do some manual labor for Move-in on Thursday/Friday, and again for Move-out on Sunday night. We also need folks who will be willing to help fans find books, chat up Texas fandom and LSC 3, and generally be cheerful and welcoming during the convention itself.

If you are interested in helping us out on either weekend, please email Helen at to let her know. Once we know who is interested, we’ll send out more details as they fall into place.


P.S. We are still also accepting book donations! If you have gently used SF/F (all age groups), please contact Helen at the email above to make arrangements to get them to us.

Griffith Honored by Lambda Literary Foundation

The Lambda Literary Foundation has announced that the James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize winners are Nicola Griffith and Trebor Healey, who will each receive $5,000.

Griffith is a Westercon 66 GoH.

Griffith and Healey will be honored along with winners of the Lambda Literary Awards — including one from the LGBT SF/Fantasy/Horror category — at a ceremony June 3 in New York City. The awards celebrate achievement in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) writing.

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