Loscon Was Nearly the Answer

By John Hertz: (reprinted from Vanamonde 1125)  Loscon XLI (Los Angeles local con; November 28-20, 2014); Writer Guest of Honor was J. Michael Straczynski, Graphic Artist Richard Hescox, Fans Colleen & Shawn Crosby; attendance 1,040.

Bobbi Armbruster and Bruce Farr helped me build a Rotsler Award exhibit: with two panels available I put on the left hand one image by each previous winner, on the right a selection from this year’s Sue Mason; plus one by Rotsler, plus notes about him, the award, fanzines.  Kenn Bates took photos.

Regency Dancing was on Friday at 4 p.m. Discussion of The Stars My Destination (A. Bester, 1957) at 2:30, so I conducted it in costume. Loud singing next door.

Milt Stevens pointed out Bester’s careful structure: starting in the dark, climaxing in the cathedral, ending in the light. Jaunting, the book’s teleportation, with no machinery, is done by Will and Idea. Of course Bester knew that was Schopenhauer. From the audience: the story makes no apologies. I said, not with words. Why does Gully fall for Olivia? Another: she’s unattainable. I said she, driven, attracts the driven man. He horrifyingly learns she’s bad; he gets a conscience — in a world where religion is outlawed.  Is the book despondent — after all that coruscation, a retreat? See the penultimate sentence of the Prologue.

Tim Powers kindly said winning the Forry Award (from the L.A. S-F Soc., host of Loscon; since 1966, for lifetime service to s-f, named after Forrest J Ackerman, to whom we gave it in ’02; placing Powers in the company of Leigh Brackett, Mike Glyer — the 4e can go to a fan or a pro, some folks are both — Kelly Freas, C.L. Moore, Jack Vance) was better than a Nebula. Ron Oakes groaned his Westercon LXVIII in San Diego would be just before Comic-Con.

At 1 a.m., feeling contributive, I left on the Fandomverse table  (September 4-6, 2015, Lancaster, California) “I like fandom ’cos it’s strange. It helps my mind get broader range.The creatures I meet may have seven feet but there’s nothing I’d take in exchange.” [A sally that inspired two more rounds of verse, here and here.] At 2:30 the MidAmericon II (’16 Worldcon) party was plenty alive but I had to lead a book talk at 10.

Skylark Three (E. Smith, rev. 1948).  Coruscation in a different style; and wonders never cease.  David Levine (not the Portland one) said it had depth of imagination; it’s vivid.  I said, note via editing slips the 1930 version, e.g. “the stuff we’ve been getting lately” a Prohibition joke.  Three assumes the reader saw the strength of Dorothy and Margaret in its previous book.  Again as Theodore Sturgeon said Science fiction is knowledge fiction.  Correctly infer where knowledge must be and there it is.

In the Art Show were fine Rick Sternbach images, including Neutron Star (L. Niven, 1968) with a transparent needle ship driving past a blazing sun, and his ’84 cover for the Ballantine collection Nightfall with the city afire and thirty-six thousand stars (I. Asimov, ’41).  Hescox showed sketches next to finished works.  Of his Bride of the Castle (J. DeChancie, ’94) DeChancie said “That really is my book.”

Moonraker (I. Fleming, 1955) Sunday morning at 10.  Michael Weasner in the audience said the James Bond character is a classic.  Several noted how Moon fit the ideas and the mood of its time.  I praised the ’60 Signet cover art — I had the 12th printing, someone else had the 21st — but it’s hardly Gala Brand or the story.  How differently Bester, Fleming, and Smith handle the adventure of knowledge.  What a master Fleming is of corroborative detail.  And not only does the card game set up the climax, we end with “the man who was only a silhouette”.

During take-down Marty Massoglia showed me this, which his daughter Mariel McKinley said she didn’t make, only found: (12 + 144 + 20 + 3 v~ 4) ÷ 7 + 5 x 11 = 9² + 0 “A dozen, a gross, and a score, plus three times the square root of four, divided by seven, plus five times eleven, is nine squared, and not a bit more.”  Afterward I saw it credited to the author of “A man, a plan, a canal — Panama”, Word Ways v. 13 n. 1 p. 36 (Feb 80), and a biography of him — Leigh Mercer 1893-1977, who seems to’ve held 85 jobs during his life — v. 24 n. 3 pp. 131-38 (Aug 91).  Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era (p. 137)?

4 thoughts on “Loscon Was Nearly the Answer

  1. Footnote, or “Why Johnny Can’t Make a Proper Square Root Sign.” I have tried (1) copying in the square root symbol from John’s Word document; (2) inserting the square root symbol using WordPress’ Omega menu of symbols, and (3) copying Morris Keesan’s code from an earlier comment which displayed the symbol correctly.

    The result in every case displays correctly in the post-writing window, but shows up as a question mark when I publish the post.

    So I have tried to make something that looks like the symbol from a lower-case v and a tilde which I am sure has deceived none of you.

  2. Good report on Loscon. I often wonder why Loscon doesn’t draw more people, since it’s so enjoyable. Plus you don’t have top get snowed in, a la Boskone.

  3. I’m not sure why I found LOSCon dull and not rewarding enough to attend, but I did (and yes, that may have changed), but I think a major factor may have been that it did not attract many out-of-area fans I know. And … ummm… LArea Cons seem to trend towards cutting as many corners as possitble in re expense & effort, so I didn’t find them worth the expense even though they are only on the other side of Los Angeles.

Comments are closed.