The Most Valuable Hugo

When Ray Bradbury’s 2004 Retro Hugo brought $28,734 in an estate auction last month that made me wonder — What individual Hugo Award is worth the most money?

There wasn’t much reason to wonder before. In all the other transactions I knew about the Hugo sold for $2,000 or less. Forry Ackerman’s Retro Hugo, part of a lot of six awards, auctioned for $1,500 in 2009. Emsh’s 1961 Best Professional Artist Hugo sold for $1,075 in 2011. And Harry Warner Jr.’s 1972 Best Fan Writer Hugo, offered together with copies of his books, was part of a lot that went for $2,000 in 2012.

Why did Bradbury’s Hugo command a much higher price? For three main reasons.

  • It is associated with a great sf writer who is also a media celebrity.
  • It was given for his most iconic work, Fahrenheit 451.
  • And the award is pretty, too: the wooden base is shaped to remind one of a tricorn hat, with 13 stars on one side, reflecting that the 2004 Worldcon was hosted in Boston, the cradle of American independence.

Are there Hugos that might fetch a price even higher than Bradbury’s?

I think people who bid on a Hugo Award have an affinity for the sf field and know why the award is important. With that in mind, it could be argued that Robert Silverberg’s 1956 Hugo for Most Promising New Author should be one of the most valuable, not just for his literary output, but because he’s repeatedly made that award the turning point of a funny comment while emceeing or presenting at Hugo ceremonies over the years. Unfortunately, the fanhistory we cherish rarely translates into cash value (or we’d all be rich!)

What about Hugos won by the sf writers with the biggest reputations, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke?

Heinlein’s 1961 Best Novel Hugo for Stranger In A Strange Land must be worth a pretty penny – an enduringly popular book widely read outside of fandom that became embedded in Sixties popular culture. Or there is his 1960 Best Novel Hugo for Starship Troopers (1960) – a veteran or military sf fan with deep pockets might bid that up (and in that case, the bug-hunting movie based on it makes it all the more attractive, despite how bad the film actually was.)

In Isaac Asimov’s case, the 1966 Hugo given to Foundation as Best All-Time Series is probably his most valuable — voted in recognition of his most iconic work, the series whose concept of psychohistory is credited by Nobel laureate Paul Krugman for sparking his interest in economics. Asimov also enjoys an enduring celebrity as witnessed by the attachment of his name to Microsoft’s recently-announced computer telemetry system.

The Arthur C. Clarke Hugo I expect collectors would pay the most for, by far, is his 1969 Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo for 2001: A Space Odyssey – always assuming he received a rocket for that in the first place, as I tend to expect he would have based on how the official Hugo Awards site credits the movie:

[Paramount] Directed by Stanley Kubrick; Screenplay by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick; based on the story “The Sentinel” by Arthur C. Clarke

Beyond the Big Three, it would be a mistake to overlook the media appeal of Philip K. Dick and the potential market for his 1963 Best Novel Hugo for The Man In The High Castle. PKD’s name is frequently invoked by the critics of our dystopian present, and his works have been turned into movies like Bladerunner, Total Recall and Minority Report featuring some of Hollywood’s most bankable stars.

All the Hugos I have mentioned so far follow the standard rocket-on-a-wooden-base design, so the artistry of the award isn’t a factor that would enhance their value. (Maybe just the reverse in the caseof Arthur C. Clarke’s 1956 Hugo for the Best Short Story, “The Star,” which was made with an Oldsmobile Rocket 88 hood ornament…)

Arthur C. Clarke receives Hugo Award from chairman Dave Kyle at the 1956 Worldcon, NyCon II.

Arthur C. Clarke being presented his 1956 Hugo Award by NyCon II chairman Dave Kyle at the 1957 Worldcon, Loncon I.

But over the past 30 years most Worldcons have commissioned Hugo bases that depart from the cliché plinth-and-rocket. They all have their advocates and among my favorites are:

However, my absolute favorite is Tim Kirk’s base for the 1976 Hugo, co-designed with Ken Keller, a cold-cast resin base wreathed with a dragon. Tragically, there isn’t a good image of it online. (After looking at the photo on the official site you’ll be questioning my sanity: “That’s the most beautiful Hugo base? It looks like a rocket on an oil can!”) But I’ve seen one up close many times at Larry Niven’s home. I think it’s quite beautiful.

So looking at who won the Hugos of 1976, one prospect jumped out as having the perfect combination of attributes to bring a good price at auction.

Best Dramatic Presentation

  • A Boy and His Dog (1975) [LQ/JAF] Directed by L. Q. Jones; Screenplay by L. Q. Jones and Wayne Cruseturner; Story by Harlan Ellison

The question, as with 2001: A Space Odyssey, is whether Ellison got a copy of the rocket, but for purposes of this discussion I’ll assume he did. Ellison enjoys the celebrity built on a long career of writing sf, fantasy and horror in all media – print, TV, movies, comics, as a Grammy-nominated voice actor. He’s even been in a commercial or two — remember “Harlan Ellison, Noted Futurist” plugging Geo Metros? “A Boy and His Dog” is one of his best-known stories. And there is a legion of Ellison collectors snapping up everything he produces. Just imagine the market for an Ellison Hugo?

So unless somebody can talk me out of it, I nominate the Clarke 2001 and Ellison A Boy and His Dog Hugos as the most valuable out there.

Update 10/27/2014: Corrected photo caption based on Rob Hansen’s comment.

Fred D. Brammer Death Learned

Fred and Cecilia Brammer at Anticipation. Photo (c) 2009 by Scott Edelman.

Fred and Cecilia Brammer at Anticipation. Photo (c) 2009 by Scott Edelman.

First Fandom member Fred D. Brammer, 86, died of congestive heart failure on August 18, 2013 at home in McLean , VA. Although the Washington Post published an obituary in December, fandom just recently became aware of his passing.

One of Brammer’s claims to fame is that he was instrumental in getting the pilot episode of Star Trek into the Smithsonian Museum, which led to a private tour for him and his family of the Star Trek set in 1968.

Andrew Porter remembers, “I first met him at my first Worldcon, Discon 1 in 1963, and I saw him at most Worldcons I attended down through the years — but he was conspicuously absent at LoneStarCon. Now I know why. Fred was a really nice guy and I will miss him.”

Brammer was born in North Carolina. He served with the Army in the Pacific in World War II. After earning a degree in geology from the University of North Carolina he went to work for the federal government. During his 37 years with the government he worked for the Army Map Service, then at the Federal Power Commission and finally at the Department of Energy.

He is survived by his wife, Cecilia, 84, and his son, Eric. An interment service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery in April 2014.

Fred Brammer and John Millard at Nolacon II in 1988. Photo by George Young.

Fred Brammer and John Millard at Nolacon II in 1988. Photo by George Young.

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Frank Dietz Passes Away

Frank Dietz. Photo by and copyright © Andrew I. Porter.

Frank Dietz. Photo by and copyright © Andrew I. Porter.

By Andrew Porter: The death of Franklyn M. Dietz, Jr., — Frank to his many friends — was announced on Facebook on October 22. Dietz, who lived at the end of his life in Marietta, Georgia, participated in many of the major activities of mid-20th century SF fandom. With David A. Kyle and his then wife Belle, in late 1956 he founded the Lunarians, aka the New York Science Fiction Society, which in turn launched Lunacon, a convention that continues to this day. For years, Lunarians met in his Bronx apartment at 1750 Walton Avenue, moving with him and his second wife, Ann — Belle had died — to Oradell, NJ, as the neighborhood around them decayed.

He was chairman of the first 14 Lunacons, and was Fan Guest of Honor at the 2007 Lunacon. His activities as “Station Luna,” an effort to record the proceedings of many World SF Conventions, continued for many years. He recorded events at the 1951 Worldcon in New Orleans. It was there that a loud party in his room was moved to a larger venue: the now legendary Room 770, and the name of a Hugo-winning newszine. He was one of the organizers of the Guild of Science Fiction Recordists, and of the International Science Fiction Correspondence Club in 1949, which promoted correspondence among fans in different countries. Frank recorded events on tape at many other conventions, continuing at least until the 1967 Worldcon in New York City.

He possessed an original tattoo of a mouse on his upper arm, done especially for him by Hannes Bok.

He recorded events at the 1957 Worldcon in London, and while there was inducted into the Order of St. Fantony, which featured, according to Rob Hansen’s website, “an elaborate ceremony staged by the Cheltenham Circle, in full medieval costumes, with real swords, armor, etc. Those who received this signal honor were Walt Willis, Bob Silverberg, Terry Jeeves, Bobbie Wild, Eric Bentcliffe, Ken Slater, Bob Madle, Franklin Dietz and Ellis Mills. We were given the test of the true fan, under threat of the executioner’s axe — a real one — if we failed. It was to drink a glass of water from the well of St Fantony. It looked like water, smelled like water … but it turned out to be 140 proof white Polish liquor.”

Photos of Frank and Belle, and many other legendary figures in SF, at Loncon, are here.

1957 Worldcon in London: (Seated at left) Belle Dietz. (Standing) Frank Dietz, John Wyndham, Sam Moskowitz (in background), Ted Carnell, Arthur C. Clarke, Bob Silverberg, Barbara Silverberg.

1957 Worldcon in London: (Seated at left) Belle Dietz. (Standing) Frank Dietz, John Wyndham, Sam Moskowitz (in background), Ted Carnell, Arthur C. Clarke, Bob Silverberg, Barbara Silverberg.

He was involved in a notorious legal battle, with suits and countersuits, over the incorporation of the World SF Society, Inc., which had its genesis in the 1956 Worldcon, and ended at the 1958 Worldcon with a whimper and the bang of Anna Sinclair Moffat’s gavel at that worldcon’s Business Meeting.

Among the fanzines he published or co-published, with Belle and later with his second wife, Ann, was Science, Fantasy and Science Fiction, starting in April 1948, Ground Zero, from March 1958 to February 1960 and Luna Monthly. He and Ann also published books as Luna Publications, including Speaking of Science Fiction, a collection of interviews by Paul Walker. They also did typesetting for other publications, including for my own Algol (later Starship), Science Fiction Chronicle, and various of my Algol Press titles, including The Book of Ellison.

In an editorial in the December 1990 issue of Science Fiction Chronicle, I wrote, “Don Wollheim … took me seriously… I must have been 13, maybe 14 at the time; I’d been reading SF for about 4-5 years. ‘What you need is fandom,’ is more or less what Don told me, and more to the point, he told me how I could contact this miraculous community. He gave me the name and phone number of … Frank Dietz, who headed the New York SF Society, the Lunarians… I … fit right in with the Lunarians. My first fannish contact, I dimly remember now, was the Lunarians Christmas party in December, 1960.”

I wrote, then, “Thirty years ago this month.” Now, it’s fifty-three years ago. And I’m finally saying farewell to Frank Dietz.

Update 10/24/2013: Corrected year of NOLAcon I to 1951 per comment.

andrew j. offutt (1934-2013)

offuttandy offutt, perennially popular convention toastmaster, prolific sf/fantasy author and two-term President of SFWA (1976-1978), died April 30 at the age of 78.  

offutt, who typed his byline in lower-case, wrote dozens of published novels, many under pseudonyms (most frequently, “John Cleve”), producing fiction so rapidly he teased that his idea of “writer’s block” was getting stuck for 45-minutes as he dramatized in the introduction to his story “For Value Received” in Harlan Ellison’s Again, Dangerous Visions.

i fought. i kept sitting down and trying to type. i snarled, cursed, cussed, obscenitized. Kept on fingering keys. (i use three fingers, one of which is on my left hand. it gets sorest.) i kept on. Come on, damn you! i know what a block is. i’d liefer forget, and i will never stop at a stopping point again!

His first professional sf story was the winner of the College SF Contest sponsored by If.  “And Gone Tomorrow” appeared in 1954. His next sale, “Blacksword,” appeared in Galaxy in 1959. “Population Implosion” was selected by Wollheim and Carr for Ace’s World’s Best SF (1968). His first science fiction novel followed a Sixties vogue for funky titles – Evil Is Live Spelled Backwards (1970).  

Prior to becoming a full-time writer offutt worked several years for Proctor & Gamble, then ran insurance agencies in three Kentucky towns.

He married Jodie McCabe in 1957. They have two daughters and two sons, including author Christopher Offutt.

An energetic and amusing speaker, offutt was constantly in demand as a convention toastmaster. But, at the peak of his popularity, when called upon to emcee the 1974 Worldcon banquet, things seemed to get away from him. He extemporized for so long it was perceived as a discourtesy to GoH Roger Zelazny. Although offutt’s reputation suffered, his friends rallied and showed their affection by making him the 1975 Midwestcon guest of honor – the only GoH the con had ever had up to that time.

offutt promptly rebounded in professional circles and was twice elected President of SFWA. Jodie Offutt wrote that among her husband’s greatest pleasures as president was giving the Grand Master Award to Clifford B. Simak (1977).

“Cliff,” he said, lip trem­bling as he handed it to him, “I’ve got tears in my eyes just presenting this. Why the heck aren’t you cry­ing?”

“Andy,” Cliff told him, “when I’m in my room by my­self and I look at it, then I’ll cry.”

Highly regarded by pros, offutt also was fan-friendly, often writing for fanzines. He contributed “A Chatty, Preferably Controversial Column” to Tom Reamy’s Trumpet, actively participated in all the arguments in Richard Geis’ various fanzines, and wrote letters to Algol, Mobius Trip and my own zines (though I heard from Jodie far more often).

He was honored with the Phoenix Award for lifetime achievement at the 1986 DeepSouthCon – where he was also, of course, toastmaster.

Later in life he had various health problems: a heart bypass in 1999, and a perforated ulcer in 2001 that forced him to step aside as toastmaster for Kubla Khan 29.

One of his collaborators, Richard K. Lyons, recalls:

As things worked out, Andy and I wrote and published four novels together. The problem that finally made us stop was that we were having too much fun. While that was fine by me since I was in it mostly for fun, Andy had a living to earn and the fun was eating a lot of his time.

For a man who needed to make a living, andy offutt was always remarkably generous with his time and writing talents. I won’t forget that.

[Thanks to Sam Long for the story.]

Monsters of the Idway

Selected archives of Chicon III, the 1962 Worldcon chaired by Earl Kemp, were exhibited online by the Northern Illinois University’s Rare Books and Special Collections Department in conjunction with this year’s Chicago Worldcon.

There are letters from Robert Heinlein, Clifford Simak, E.E. Smith, and assorted other pros, plus Kemp’s invitation to Isaac Asimov to deliver a talk on “The Positive Power of Posterior Pinching” and Asimov’s coy but interested reply. (Apparently the talk didn’t happen – at least the item isn’t listed in the Chicon III program book.)

Stephanie Zvan at Almost Diamonds spotted this correspondence and brought it to the attention of fans who are discussing harassment in the wake of Readercon, in a post called “We Don’t Do That Anymore”.

The answering comments — people groaning and throwing up on their shoes — were interrupted by the arrival of Earl Kemp himself for a pleasant stroll down memory lane, sans clue:

What a wonderful find. Thank you very much for posting this. It’s nice to be reminded of some of the good things. I admit I’ve forgotten this, but it certainly was Ike. (There are better stories about him but not here, not now.)

I’m going to disappoint the person who copied the link to me expecting I’d join him in high dudgeon, but let’s be serious. Even Asimov himself seems to have doubted it would go over in 1962 and in 2012 the idea deserves Zwan’s critique.

Don Markstein (1947-2012)

Don Markstein, always a colorful and entertaining figure, and early in his fannish career sometimes a controversial one, died March 11 due to respiratory failure following a prolonged illness. Don spent his last years in Arizona but remained deeply linked to New Orleans and Southern fanhistory.

Don was a charter member of the New Orleans Science Fiction Association (NOSFA) founded June 25, 1967. Other charter members were John Guidry, Doug Wirth, Don Walsh, Justin Winston, and Rick Norwood.

He co-chaired DeepSouthCon in 1968 and 1973. Don became official editor of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance in 1970 and was credited by Guy H. Lillian III for a boom in the apa’s popularity. For this Don was honored with the Rebel Award in 1978.

Don’s consuming passion was comics. He collected tens of thousands of newspaper comic strips. In 1981 Don and his wife Gigi founded Apatoons, an apa for research in the field of cartoons. In 1999 he created a comics history resource, The Toonopedia, and wrote for it daily until health prevented him.

Don edited Comics Revue and books on comic history, including The Prince Valiant Companion. He also wrote Walt Disney comic book stories for such characters as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck — and the rather less famous Bucky Bug.

Irv Koch introduced me to Don at the 1972 Worldcon in Los Angeles. The three of us had become acquainted before the con through fanzines. (Mark Evanier also remembers meeting him at L.A.con.)

Don sporadically published issues of Rally, his fannish newzine, during the Seventies. What was surely Rally’s most controversial story ever criticized Harlan Ellison prior to his GoHship at the 1978 Worldcon in Phoenix. Ellison planned to dedicate his appearance to raising consciousness about the Equal Rights Amendment because ERA supporters had declared a boycott of businesses in non-ratifying states after Ellison accepted the invitation, Arizona among them. Louisiana was another, and when Ellison went to New Orleans sometime before the Worldcon Don lambasted the appearance as a violation of Ellison’s pro-ERA stance. Ellison was outraged, for his activities there had included lecturing in support of the ERA.

Don was educated at LSU in Baton Rouge. For a time he worked on the staff of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, writing for the Sunday magazine. Over the years he did restaurant reviews for the Phoenix Business Journal and editing and production work for Arizona Living, Arizona Women’s Voice, Comics Interview, Comics Revue, Phoenix, Phoenix Resource, and Louisiana Weekly Employer.

Don suffered a stroke in February 2011 and had been in long-term care.

How the Hugos Avoid Conflicts of Interest

The British Fantasy Awards became mired in controversy when Stephen Jones charged a conflict of interest between the administrator and several winners. That prompted a few fans to suggest fixing the BFA by borrowing rules from the Hugo Awards.

The Hugo Awards do have an excellent reputation for avoiding such conflicts, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s because of the superior draftsmanship of the rules. The real reason is that over the years many different people have steered clear of conflicts that the rules do not prevent.

What Is a Conflict of Interest? A conflict of interest exists when anyone exploits his/her official capacity for personal benefit.

The Hugo Awards are run under a set of rules that is extremely wary of conflicts of interest. The WSFS Constitution excludes the entire Worldcon committee from winning a Hugo unless these conditions are met:

Section 3.12: Exclusions. No member of the current Worldcon Committee or any publications closely connected with a member of the Committee shall be eligible for an Award. However, should the Committee delegate all authority under this Article to a Subcommittee whose decisions are irrevocable by the Worldcon Committee, then this exclusion shall apply to members of the Subcommittee only.

To avoid disqualifying the whole Committee – upwards of 200 people, most having nothing to do with the Hugos – the Worldcon chair generally appoints the fans who count the votes and apply the eligibility rules to a Subcommittee. So if some minor member of the concom wins a Hugo, as I did while serving as editor of L.A.con II’s daily newzine in 1984, it’s no problem.

From the beginning the WSFS Constitution (1962-1963) has banned all committee members from eligibility for the Hugos. To my knowledge, the rule was modified in the 1970s by adding the option of an autonomous Subcommittee. People thought it should have been unnecessary for Mike Glicksohn to resign from the TorCon 2 (1973) committee rather than forego the chance for his and Susan Wood Glicksohn’s Energumen to compete for the Hugo, which they indeed won.

The modified rule has worked to everyone’s satisfaction for a number of reasons having little to do with its precision. Worldcons once were commonly led by people also involved with Hugo contending fanzines, which has rarely happened in the past 40 years. On those rare occasions the people involved have taken it upon themselves to avoid any conflicts.

For example, many fans involved with running Noreascon Three (1989) wrote for The Mad 3 Party in the years leading up to the con. Edited by Leslie Turek, TM3P was nominated for Best Fanzine in 1988, withdrawn in 1989, and won a Hugo in 1990. Noreascon Three did appoint a Hugo Subcommittee, of unassailable integrity — in my mind, if TM3P had competed in 1989 and won a Hugo there would have been no reason to doubt the result. The committee, however, felt they needed to go beyond what was required in the rules to preserve an appearance of fairness and TM3P was withdrawn.

When I chaired L.A.con III (1996) friends reminded me that I could remain eligible for a Hugo by delegating responsibility for the awards to a Subcommittee. I felt invested in and responsible for everything that was happening with the con, so for me it was never an option to act as if the Hugos weren’t a part of that. I did appoint a Subcommittee – and put myself on it, announcing that I was withdrawing from the awards for 1996.

So the anti-conflict rule works because people make it work. It is not an infallible rule. In fact, I agree with a comment made by drplokta on Nicholas Whyte’s From the Heart of Europe that it would be hypothetically possible for something similar to this year’s BFA situation to play out in the Hugos without violating the rule.   

[Hugo Subcommittee members’] partners are eligible though, and I guess if a Hugo subcommittee member ran a publishing house then the books that they publish would be eligible, since the nomination would be for the author and not for the publisher.

In short, it’s a good rule to have, but it’s not all-encompassing as some have assumed in recommending it to fix the BFAs. 

The Hugo Awards Conflict of Interest Trivia Quiz: When I made my decision to withdraw in 1996 I doubted that other Worldcon chairs had ever faced the same choice. But they did. I’ll share what I’ve discovered in the answers to this two-question trivia quiz.

Question 1: How many times has the chair of the current year’s Worldcon won a Hugo?

(a) Once
(b) Twice
(c) Never

There’s been such controversy about the chair of the British Fantasy Society’s close association with 5 of this year’s award winners — for example, he is a partner in the publisher that won Best Small Press – that you’d have to assume it would be impossible for a Worldcon chairman to win a Hugo at his own con without raising a historic stink, right? Wrong.

Answer to Question 1: Once. Loncon I (1957) was chaired by Ted Carnell. The winner of the Hugo for Best British Professional Magazine was New Worlds edited by John Edward Carnell. The same person.

Ted Carnell is the only chair to win a Hugo at his own Worldcon. And it appears everyone was content. Harry Warner’s history of Fifties fandom, A Wealth of Fable, doesn’t contain the least hint of controversy. Neither do any of the conreports from Loncon I collected on Rob Hansen’s website.

Sometimes in the award’s early days the chair of the Worldcon administered the Hugos and counted the votes. That may not have been the case in 1957. The progress reports directed members to send their Achievement Award ballots to the convention secretary Roberta Wild. The chair winning a major award might still have been questioned but I’ve found no record of any complaint. In all my time in fandom I’ve never heard anybody say a bad word about that having happened.

Ted White, the 1967 Worldcon chair who responded to some questions for this article, agrees: “I have never heard anyone say anything disparaging about it either.  It was a bit too obviously deserved. Fandom was a lot smaller then, and even smaller in the UK.  Carnell wore several hats.  I met him in 1965. A quiet, unassuming, gentle and generous man.”

Question 2: How many times has a Worldcon chair won a Hugo the year before or after their con?

(a) 2
(b) 4
(c) 8

Answer to Question 2: 4 times.

Many Worldcon chairs and their committees were connected with award-winning fanzines over the years. Before the Internet that was the best medium for building fannish communities and wooing voters.  

(1) Wally Weber was a co-editor of Cry of the Nameless, the Best Fanzine Hugo winner in 1960, the year before he chaired Seacon (1961). Cry was not a nominee in 1961 but was back as a finalist in 1962. So was the zine kept out of contention the year they hosted the Worldcon? Wally Weber isn’t certain but he thinks they might have:

As for the 1961 Hugos, I remember a discussion and decision that Cry be disqualified due to the unusually large percentage of the eligible voters being from the Seattle area and who had never read a fanzine other than Cry. Unfortunately my memory is often more creative than accurate and I have no documentation to back that up. I do not even remember who participated in making the decision. I don’t even remember how the voting was done or who counted the ballots. Did we have official ballots? I would think such a decision would have been mentioned in one of the progress reports if, indeed, there actually had been such a decision. Maybe votes for Cry were just discarded during the counting processes.

(2) The 1961 fanzine Hugo winner was Earl Kemp’s Who Killed Science Fiction. The next year Kemp chaired Chicon III (1962). However, as I’m sure you already know, Who Killed Science Fiction was the most famous one-shot in the history of sf. It obviously wasn’t a factor in the Hugos when he chaired the Worldcon.

(3) George Scithers chaired Discon I (1963) in Washington, D.C. He edited Amra from 1959 to 1982. It won the Hugo in 1964. Since it had never been nominated for the Hugo in any prior year it’s difficult to guess whether he took any special steps to keep it off the ballot when he chaired the Worldcon in 1963. None of the committee members who might know are still with us – Scithers, Bob Pavlat and Dick Eney. One thing we do know is that he wouldn’t have permitted his zine to be placed on the ballot because he’s one of the people who helped write the anti-conflict rule into the original WSFS Constitution of 1962-1963.

(4) Ted White co-chaired NyCon 3 (1967), the Worldcon which originated the Best Fan Writer and Best Fan Artist Hugos. He also worked for F&SF at the time. Ted says: “F&SF withdrew itself; this was not a NyCon3 committee decision. Ed Ferman [the editor] had a nice sense of propriety.”

Ted says he didn’t take any steps to stay off the ballot in the fan categories the year he chaired the Worldcon. “I did not withdraw myself from the Fanwriter category (nor make any announcements to that effect) because I did not regard it as necessary. I wasn’t nominated that year, obviating the question.  My win the following year surprised me.” However, he probably did not need to make any announcement: people would have been aware of the anti-conflict rule in the Constitution.

White and F&SF both won Hugos the following year, 1968.

[Special thanks to Robert Lichtman and Ted White, as well as Darrell Schweitzer, Peggy Rae Sapienza, Michael J. Walsh, Elinor Busby and Wally Weber for their assistance in researching this article.]

Hertz: He Was a Lion – Len Moffatt 1923-2010

By John Hertz (reprinted from Vanamonde 913): I gave him a gilt bottle of mimeograph correction fluid for his 50th birthday. I dressed as Auguste Dupin for him in a presentation at the detective-fiction convention Bouchercon the year he co-chaired. I drank Chivas Regal with him. Len Moffatt was of First Fandom, that happy band active among us at least as early as the first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939. Born in Arizona, by his teens he was a founder of the Western Pennsylvania Science Fictioneers, doing fanzines – a word not yet invented – and corresponding with fans around the United States and United Kingdom. In World War II he joined the Navy like his ancestors and served as a hospital-corpsman with the Marines; he was in Nagasaki after the atomic bomb. In 1946 he joined the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. He always pronounced LASFS to rhyme with mass sass. He did a lot of rhyming, sometimes as the clown Pike Pickens, sometimes clowning himself.

Some fans sell s-f, some become quite active as pros. In 1949 the LASFS began a yearly Fanquet honoring the member who sold the most words in the previous year. Moffatt tied for that honor in 1951. In 2004 the LASFS gave him its Forry Award, named after Forry Ackerman, for lifetime achievement in s-f, putting him in the company of Ray Bradbury, Kelly Freas, and C.L. Moore. In 2008 his poem “What a Friend We Have in Sherlock” appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Detective fiction has long been our next-door neighbor. Bouchercon, of which Len and his second wife June were co-founders, was named for Tony Boucher, a top and if I may say so tony editor and author there and here. It gave them its Anthony Award for lifetime achievement in 1999.

Len was probably Rick Sneary’s best friend. Both were active in the Outlanders, one of the many s-f clubs outside the LASFS – often overlapping the LASFS membership – that have flourished from time to time. Sneary lived in South Gate. In 1948 he began, first as a joke, the slogan South Gate in ’58. It caught on. The Worldcon moves around so as to be each year in someone’s back yard. In 1957 the con was in London. It voted for South Gate. Be careful what you wish. Luckily the mayors of South Gate and Los Angeles by joint proclamation constituted the premises of the Hotel Alexandria as South Gate for the duration and purposes of the Worldcon. The con was called “Solacon” in honor of the combination. It also combined with that year’s Westercon, the West Coast Science Fantasy Conference. Len was in the thick of it all. A decade and a half later he was Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XXV.

Besides fanzines we have apas, amateur publishing associations, which distribute fanzines. We did not invent apas but we gave them our own life. Our first was the Fantasy Amateur Press Association, older than Worldcons. The distinction between science fiction and fantasy has long been known and blurred. The Moffatt FAPAzine was Moonshine. This was appropriate. Among Len’s achievements was fan fiction – in our sense, i.e. fiction about fans – that Terry Carr thought was factual anecdote. Len and June were in APA-L, much younger than FAPA, over thirty years until Len’s death. June still is.

Conviviality, hospitality were with Len’s wit, amplified, if possible, by June. Together clubmen and party hosts – the suffix -man is not masculine – they also welcomed and sponsored newcomers with open arms, and discernment, for them no paradox. Fine fannish things happened at Moffatt House and when the Moffatts went abroad. They went well abroad in 1973 as the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegates, nominated by Terry Jeeves, Ethel Lindsay, Juanita Coulson. Fred Patten, and Roy Tackett. attending the British national s-f con, and publishing their TAFF report in good time. In 1981 they were Fan Guests of Honor at our local s-f con Loscon. In 1994 they were given the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the LASFS. Shortly before I had the honor of co-editing with them the Rick Sneary memorial fanzine Button-Tack. It seems like yesterday.

He was a lion. I loved him. Good-bye.

Me and Mr. Potter

If I want to know what the last 40 years of fanhistory would have been like had I never existed, all I have to do is read Arnie Katz’ new article on numbered fandoms. It’s quite a public service. Usually one has to wait for the Christmas reruns of It’s a Wonderful Life to experience this kind of thing.