Citations Provided

Isaac Asimov, Randall Garrett, and Harlan Ellison at the 1959 or 1960 Worldcon.

Isaac Asimov, Randall Garrett, and Harlan Ellison at the 1959 or 1960 Worldcon. Photo by Maggie Thompson.

In the 1970s I attended several conventions where Randall Garrett was on the program. I never personally interacted with him. Not even when I was co-chair of the 1978 Westercon, where we had to discourage Garrett from signing drinks to the convention’s master account. Somebody else got to bell that cat.

If I’d called him anything, it probably would have been “Sir” – he was an imposing figure. But I did hear a lot of other people refer to him as Randy in those days, which came to mind when I recently excerpted the Galactic Journey. I used “Randy Garrett” in the subhead, prompting this comment from Xtifr:

Note that Randall Garrett hated to be called “Randy”. Not that it really matters much at this point, but I still feel obliged to point it out.

I’d like to hear more about that. Because an awful lot of people who knew him did it.

Donald Westlake in an essay for Xero in 1960: “About a year ago, Henry Morrison asked Randy Garrett and me to speak at an ESFA meeting over in Jersey… And the last time I saw Randy Garrett (a week ago) he was working on a biography for decent money…”

Lin Carter in Beyond the Gates of Dream (1972): “Two blocks due west of where I lived was a mammoth residence hotel that the New York science fiction community called ‘Idiots’ Castle.’ Therein dwelt, at various times, Bob Silverberg, Randy Garrett, Harlan Ellison, Ron and Cindy Smith (then editing Inside, which had yet to win its fanzine Hugo) and other good people.”

Lawrence Block in Afterthoughts (2011): “He was a very interesting fellow, Randy Garrett…”

H. Beam Piper in a 1962 journal entry quoted in John Carr’s biography: “The next morning, ‘Met Fritz Leiber, Randy Garrett, Judy Merrill at breakfast and immediately became involved in a skit which was to be put on at the end of the convention.’”

Robert Silverberg, speaking at the 1968 Hugo Awards ceremony with Garrett in the audience: “I think it’s rather appropriate, in a way, that I am the one who’s filling in for Tony. For Tony, after all, is science fiction’s outstanding Catholic layman, and I, though I’m not Catholic, am recognized as the Pope by Randall Garrett. No, I’m quite, quite serious – no, Randy does recognize me as Pope. I’m probably the only Jewish boy who set out to become Pope, and ended up as President of the Science Fiction Writers of America. I recognize Randy, incidentally, as my Archbishop of Canterbury Designate.”

Mike Resnick in …Always a Fan, about Noreascon 4: “At 3:00 I moderated the panel that was the most fun of the con… hell, of the last half-dozen cons…. This included the stories of how John Campbell presided at his own funeral; how Ted Sturgeon and his wife, devout nudists, would invite couples over for dinner and greet them in the altogether; how Randy Garrett always stiffed worshipful new writers with huge dinner checks….”

Roger Ebert in a 1957 letter to a prozine: “I can’t understand how a fine writer like Randy Garrett can produce work like he does, then turn around and come up with that ‘Kyvor’ nonsense.”

Buck Coulson in Mimosa #11 (1993): “The con site was changed the next year, but I’ve been told that this was because Randy Garrett was surprised by the house detective in a compromising situation, there were blows exchanged, and the convention was invited to go somewhere else.”

Cory Seidman in her 1966 Worldcon report: “Yet a further refinement was the purchase of four pounds of black licorice jellybeans. One pound was left with Banquet Toast-master Isaac Asimov, in case Harlan got his Hugo. The remainder was divided into small packages and given to various people to be presented at intervals during the weekend. Even Boston’s own mild-mannered Hal Clement/Harry C. Stubbs is said to have sidled up to Ellison, muttering, ‘I believe these are yours.’ Now, the one kind of jellybeans that Harlan Ellison does not like happens to be black licorice. So if he had been bugged out of his mind before, now he was pretty well bugged out of the known universe. Which raised his innate aptitude for Randy Garrett-insulting to a new peak and provided much amusement for the assembled spectators.”

Philip Jose Farmer in an interview: “No, that’s the one I did with Randy Garrett, ‘The Ballad of Hillary Boon.’”

Maggie Thompson in 2010 remembering a panel at the 1959 or 1960 Worldcon: “In any case, I was sitting a couple of rows back at a panel in which the entertainment consisted simply of (left to right) Isaac Asimov, Randy Garrett, and Harlan exchanging banter until the panel was over.”

Harlan Ellison in the Introduction to Again, Dangerous Visions (1971): “Randy Garrett isn’t here because, though he called one frantic November night and tried to hype me into sending him an advance against a story he would write, he never submitted a manuscript.”

He even used the name himself at times — Progress Report #1 of the 1957 Worldcon shows “Randy Garrett” is the name he used when he bought his membership.

24 thoughts on “Citations Provided

  1. When my sisters and I were children, we were very amused to discover that the common American shortening for one of my sister’s names was ‘Randy’ – which means something not for polite company in UK English. 🙂

  2. I remember seeing in the credits at the end of a TV programme a name along the lines of ‘Randy John Smith’, which was particulalry amusing.

  3. Meredith, when I was first in England lo, these many years ago, I was taken on a platonic date to a gay bar by a fellow American named Randy. He begged me to call him Andy for the duration….

  4. I always introduce myself as Nicholas, always sign letters as Nicholas, always sign emails as Nicholas or just “N”. But a lot of people automatically call me “Nick”, even though I never use that name for myself.

    When I was an undergraduate, I surrendered to the inevitable and accepted that I would be “Nick” for Cambridge purposes. Even people who knew my real preference referred to me as “Nick” at public events while I was in the audience, or indeed on the podium; when I signed up as “Nicholas” for an event I usually became “Nick” in the official record. I actually stood for election on a couple of occasions as “Nick”, at some cost to my gnashed teeth, because I knew that few people who knew me casually would have recognised the name “Nicholas Whyte”.

    Since leaving Cambridge in 1991 I’ve generally managed to reclaim my name in the form I want to use it. (Oddly enough the Organ Scholar in the same year and college as me had almost the same name; he too was “Nick” at college and has now emigrated to the US and successfully become “Nicholas”.) But I still have moments of teeth-gnashing. And if that was Randall Garrett’s situation too, I feel for him.

  5. If you’re talking about “horny,” it means that in American English, too. I think we tend to ignore the other meanings of names because so many of them get turned into dubious things with sexual overtones. With men, it’s so often pseudonyms for genitalia (Dick, Rod, Peter), while for women, pretty much every name around (Jill and Joan come to mind) meant low class or slutty at some point. And then there’s Fanny… I had an Aunt Fanny. It means butt here, in a fairly polite way, like “I fell on my fanny!” but I know it’s female genitalia in England. It just seems like every name can be turned into shorthand for something and probably will. No offense meant to any Dicks, Rods, Peters, Randies, Fannies, Jills or Joans. Sorry your names got tarnished by slangsters.

  6. Wow, a whole article just to ask me a question! I’m somewhat flattered. 🙂

    Source: personal knowledge. I was his page in the SCA, and he frequently expressed his dislike of the diminutive. Yes, it was widely used, but he frequently fumed about it.

    I also only knew him during the seventies. It’s possible he was more accepting of it earlier in his career (or later). But when I knew him, it was definitely something he regularly complained about.

    I realize this won’t do for a Wikipedia citation, but it’s the best I got.

  7. Peace: Please accept this internet.

    I love the mental picture of the quiet, gentle Hal/Harry participating in the running gag vs. Harlan.

  8. I knew Garrett in the ’70s and ’80s and while he was most commonly called Randy I also occasionally heard him complain – mostly to people who didn’t actually know him – not to call him that. People he knew he didn’t seem to mind calling him that.

  9. @Liz Carey: I think as skeptics, if we see a ghost or a zombie, that counts as evidence. 🙂

    This is why I could never deal with X-Files: Scully wasn’t a genuine skeptic. She was a dope. She didn’t demand “extraordinary proof for extraordinary claims.” She worked really hard to ignore years worth of extraordinary proof. The character deserved better.

  10. Jim Henley: That’s pretty funny.

    If Xtifr was Randall of Hightower’s SCA page, I’m happy with his explanation. And Craig Miller’s memory will serve, too.

    Xtifr’s version sounds like he tolerated it from some, without ever liking it.

    Craig’s recollection kind of parallels the experience I’ve had with a couple friends of mine. For example, Andrew Porter has complained to me about people who call him Andy — which some, nevertheless, are welcome to do, including me.

    Looking through the examples I quoted, several apparently were part of Garrett’s close social circle in New York, and they may have been granted more indulgence to use the nickname, though others did as well.

  11. A question for xtifr: was Garrett annoyed by being called “Randy” only in SCA context, or outside as well?

    He dodges around that form in one of the Benedict Breadfruit stories (like Feghoots except that all the puns are authors’ names) in Take Off. I’m not sure whether he was expressing dislike or making people guess that the answer was his own name.

  12. @Chip Hitchcock. In general, not just in an SCA context. In fact, I’m pretty sure most of the times I heard it come up were at SF-related events (cons and such).

    And now that you mention it, I remember reading and being puzzled by that Benedict Breadfruit, but it was years later, and I wasn’t in touch with him any more, so I never got to ask about it.

  13. Parallel: At some point about 1980, Charles N. Brown made known, fairly publicly, that he wished to be called “Charles” and not “Charlie”. Possibly he’d gotten tired of equations with the comic-strip character. Many followed this new preference. But many others who already knew him continued to call him Charlie.

    Everybody I knew in the 1970s and 80s who knew Randall Garrett called him Randall.

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