(1) WSFS BUSINESS MEETING AGENDA UPDATE. Chicon 8 has released an expanded Business Meeting agenda — 2022-WSFS-Agenda as of 20220807. One of the many items added since the first draft came out in July is a motion to create a Best Game or Interactive Work Hugo.
(2) NEVALA-LEE’S LATEST. Pradeep Niroula deconstructs the figure at the center of Alec Nevala-Lee’s Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller, who “became a counterculture icon while entrenched in the very things that betrayed its spirit” in “The Making of a Prophet” for LA Review of Books.
HOW DO YOU write a biography of a man who lived like a demigod? A man for whom the vocabulary and syntax of the English language was so inadequate that he had to invent words, including “synergy,” “ephemeralization,” and “livingry” (a spiritual antithesis to weaponry, which, of course, leads to “killingry”), to articulate his ideas. A man who wore three wristwatches set to three different time zones to organize his day and who angrily banged his fists if you dared ask him for his address (“Young man, I live on Planet Earth!”). A man who believed that it fell to him to save the planet….
(3) ABOUT COSPLAY. Cora Buhlert posted another “Non-Fiction Spotlight” today. This one is for “Cosplay: A History by Andrew Liptak”.
Why should SFF fans in general and Hugo voters in particular read this book?
In short, it’s a history of fandom as a community — not just the capital F literary traditions/community, but of the wider history of fandom and how it’s evolved and changed over the decades.
This was a particularly fascinating thing to watch as I interviewed folks or pored over documents from Fanac.org: how did the act of costuming become an institution within the worldcon scene, and how did it grow out and fracture as fandom expanded and Balkanized as science fiction and fantasy entertainment began to take over movie theaters, television sets, and video game consoles? It’s a really fascinating evolution, and one that I think is well worth paying attention to, culturally.
It’s a high-level overview of the larger fan world, one that touches on a bunch of these various tribes. I wanted to make sure that it was approachable to folks who have been fans for decades, long-time costumers/cosplayers/makers, and to folks who were just casual fans or who wanted to learn a little more. Hopefully, it’s a good entry point to understand the larger cosplay — and fan — world.
(4) FROM ORION TO APOLLO. The Compact Ella Parker is the latest addition to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s library of free downloads. And if you enjoy the book, a donation to TAFF is a fine way to express your appreciation:
Ella Parker was a prominent, London-based British fan of the 1950s and 1960s who published the highly regarded fanzine Orion from 1958 to 1962 and the later Compact in 1963-1964. Which should explain the ebook title The Compact Ella Parker. She was a founder member of the Science Fiction Club of London and of the British Science Fiction Association.
As a follow-up to his presentation of her 1961 North American trip report with third-party fannish commentary as The Harpy Stateside (2021), Rob Hansen has compiled this selection of Ella Parker’s other fan writing both before and after the famous excursion. As he writes in his Foreword, “I wasn’t sure that Ella – never the most prolific of fanwriters – had written enough to warrant such a volume but, happily, I was wrong. Taken together, the pieces she produced are the best account that we have of London fandom as it was in the first half of the 1960s. They also offer an interesting look into the larger fannish politics and convention issues of that period.” As a bonus there’s a long report, crammed with sense of wonder, of her attendance at the launch of Apollo 16 in 1972.
(5) EVOLUTION OF S&S. Brian Murphy shares “Some ruminations on sword-and-sorcery’s slide into Grimdark” at The Silver Key.
Sword-and-sorcery continues to show stirrings, and life. Outlets like Tales from the Magician’s Skull, DMR Books, new projects like Whetstone, New Edge, etc., are publishing new authors and new stories that embrace its old forms and conventions. Obviously the genre ain’t what it used to be circa 1970, but who knows what the future may hold for us aging diehards.
I speculate on some of the reasons why S&S died off in Flame and Crimson (which, by the way, just surpassed 100 ratings on Amazon—thank you to everyone who took the time to rate or review the book, as these help with visibility in some arcane, Amazon protected manner). I won’t rehash them all here, they are available in the book.
What I haven’t written as much about is why Grimdark filled the void, what makes that genre popular with modern readers, and what we might have to learn from this transition.
First, I am of the opinion that Grimdark is the spiritual successor to S&S. One of them, at least. I agree with the main thrust of this article by John Fultz. S&S has many spiritual successors, from heavy metal bands to video games to Dungeons and Dragons. But in terms of literature, the works of Richard Morgan, Joe Abercrombie, and George R.R. Martin, bear some of the hallmarks of S&S, while also being something markedly different….
(6) DIALOG ADVICE. Dorothy Grant advises “Don’t serve sir sandwiches” at Mad Genius Club.
Or, advice for non-military authors when writing military.
“Sir, statement, sir.” “Sir, question, sir?” “Sir, blah blah, sir.” “Sir, yadda yadda, sir.” …NO. …
(7) ROLAND J. GREEN (1944-2021). Author Roland J. Green died on April 20, 2021. File 770 just became aware of his passing. Green wrote many books under his own name, and 28 books in the Richard Blade series published under the pen name “Jeffrey Lord.”
His first novel, Wandor’s Ride, was a sword & sorcery tale published in 1973
His alternate history short story “The King of Poland’s Foot Cavalry” from Alternate Tyrants was a Sidewise Award nominee in 1998.
The family obituary is here:
…Roland became an established science fiction/fantasy writer after his first novel was published in 1973, writing more than 60 works in his 30+ year writing career.
He was involved in historical re-enactments and could brilliantly spout off historical trivia. He enjoyed reading (favoring maritime history), drawing, and a good pun. When working or during leisure time you could always find one of his cats curled up next to him. Most of all he cherished and loved being a family man….
He is survived by his wife, Freida, a daughter, and a grandchild.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1981 – [By Cat Eldridge.] Forty-two years ago on a very hot summer day not dissimilar to this one, I saw the Heavy Metal film which premiered today. I was familiar with the Heavy Metal magazine being an on-and-off reader of it. The illustrations were quite good and occasionally the stories were brilliant as well.
The film was directed by Gerald Potterton who previously done animation on Yellow Submarine which was nominated for a Hugo at St. Louiscon. (Now there’s a film I hadn’t thought of as being genre.)
As it was an anthology, a lot of folk were responsible for the source material: there was original art and stories by Richard Corben, Angus McKie, Dan O’Bannon (doesn’t he show up in the most interesting places?), Thomas Warkentin and Bernie Wrightson.
It was produced by Ivan Reitman, known for his comedy work such as Stripes which I really liked and Ghostbusters II which I thought wasn’t nearly as good as the first film was, and Leonard Mogel who, well did pretty much this and nothing else. The screenplay was written by Daniel Goldberg, who also wrote the Stripes screenplay and Len Blum, who did the same.
It had a big voice cast which frankly I don’t recognize outside of John Candy and Harold Ramis.
I’m not going to discuss the film itself as it has far too many stories to do so, nor will I talk about the more controversial aspects of it in the form of the nudity, sex, and graphic violence, though the critics below will. I liked some of it but thought most of it was just badly done. I certainly haven’t had any reason to go see it again. There was a sequel, Heavy Metal 2000, which I’ve no desire to see.
The reception among critics at the time was, to say the least, was mixed. Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune really liked it but criticized it for being sexist and overly violent. And Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times condemned it for its explicit sadism. Reading through the reviews, a common note was that they thought the animation was really poor. And almost everyone criticized it for being overly sexist and way too violent.
It probably broke even as it cost very little to make, nine million, and made twenty million. It has, as many a site notes, a cult following now.
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a rather excellent sixty-seven percent rating.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born August 7, 1884 — Billie Burke. This Birthday is new this year as she popped up on a list I subscribe to. Her best remembered role was as the Glinda the Good Witch of the North in oh-so-stellar The Wizard of Oz. But she did have some other genre roles. She is also remembered for her appearances in the Topper film series as Clara Topper, not altogether a favorable role but memorable none the less. She also starred in a version of “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” about a search for the Fountain of Youth on the TV’s Lights Out. (Died 1970.)
- Born August 7, 1918 — Jane Adams. Actress who showed in the Forties Batman and Robin film as Vickie Vale, Girl Reporter. (That’s how she’s listed at the time.) Other genre credits were House of Dracula, Tarzan’s Magic Fountain, Master Minds (eat too much sugar and you can see the future — it was sponsored by a cereal company) and the Adventures of Superman series. (Died 2014.)
- Born August 7, 1944 — John Glover, 78. He’s got a wealth of genre roles, so I’m going to be highly selective. (Go ahead and complain.) He was Brice Cummings in the Bill Murray fronted Scrooged, and he voiced a great Edward Nygma who was The Riddler in Batman: The Animated Series, in Brimstone, he was both The Devil and The Angel, and he was Daniel Clamp in the second Gremlins film.
- Born August 7, 1933 — Jerry Pournelle. Some years ago, I got an email from a J. R. Pournelle about some SF novel they wanted Green Man to review. I of course thought it was that Pournelle. No, it was his daughter, Jennifer. And that’s how I came to find out there was a third Motie novel called, errrr, Moties. It’s much better than The Gripping Hand was. His best novel is of course The Mote in God’s Eye which he wrote with with Niven. And yes, I’ve read a lot of his military space opera when I was a lot younger. At that age, I liked it. I expect the Suck Fairy with her steel toe boots wouldn’t be kind to it now if I read any of it, so I won’t. I see though he hasn’t won any Hugos, that he has a number of nominations starting at Torcon II for “The Mercenary” novella followed by a nomination at DisCon II for his “ He Fell into a Dark Hole” novelette. The next year at the first Aussiecon, The Mote in God’s Eye got nominated and his Extreme Prejudice novel also got a nod. MidAmericaCon saw Inferno by him and Niven get nominated and his “Tinker” novelette also was on the ballot. Lucifer’s Hammer with Niven got on the ballot at IgunaCon II and his final nomination was at ConFederation for Footfall with Niven. Oh and at MidAmericaCon II, he got a nomination for Best Editor, Short Form. And yes, I was a devoted reader of his Byte column. (Died 2017.)
- Born August 7, 1957 — Paul Dini, 65. First, he is largely responsible for the existence of Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman/Superman Adventures, Batman Beyond, and yes Duck Dodgers And Tiny Toons as well. He’s recently been writing for the Ultimate Spider-Man series which is quite good. He co-authored with Pat Cadigan, Harley Quinn: Mad Love. He’s responsible for the single best animated Batman film, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, as he wrote it. If you see it, see the R rated version.
- Born August 7, 1957 — Lis Carey, 65. A prolific reader whose reviews fill the shelves at Lis Carey’s Library. She is also a frequent Filer, contributor of numerous cat photos and even more book reviews. She is a longtime member of NESFA, and chaired Boskone 46 in 2009. (OGH)
- Born August 7, 1960 — Melissa Scott, 62. I think the first work I read by her was Trouble and Her Friends which holds up well even now. I’m also fond of Night Sky Mine and The Jazz. I see that she has an entire series set in the Stargate Atlantis universe. She won the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and four Lambda Awards, the first for Trouble and Her Friends, a second for Shadow Man, a third for Point of Dreams and a fourth for Death by Silver.
(10) MUSIC TO HPL BY. Bandcamp has available for purchase “Nyarlathotep – A Tribute To Howard Phillips Lovecraft” by various artists.
Eighth Tower is proud to reprint the rare and long time out of stock compilation “Nyarlathotep – A Tribute To Howard Phillips Lovecraft”, originally released in 1997 by the label KADATH. With this remastered release Eighth Tower brings to light a jewel of the Portuguese post-industrial tape culture, featuring some of the most interesting projects from the late 90’s Portuguese, Italian and French underground.
(11) D&D&B. Chris Barkley passed this along with a comment that “This is fandom at its BEST.” Thread starts here.
(12) COMING TO TRANSFORMED SPACE. In October, “Star Trek Original Enterprise Model Returns to National Air & Space Museum” reports Collider.
The latest stage of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s renovations may have the museum temporarily closed, but Trekkies will have something to look forward to when it reopens on October 14: The Enterprise studio model used in Star Trek: The Original Series. The Museum is reintroducing the popular display as a part of its reopening later in the fall, unveiling 8 new galleries in the transformed space….
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Rob Thornton, Steven H Silver, Cora Buhlert, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Dominey.]
(9) I once bought a silhouette off ebay that had been cut by Nancy van Court, a prominent cutter of the 1930s. She worked in high-end Manhattan hotels, among other places, and would stack two layers of paper so she was cutting two at once. When the sitter was a celebrity, she’d get them to sign one of them and keep it.
Some of her collection was being disbursed, and I got one. After I received it, I realized that the sitter was Billie Burke. (the signature compared with exemplar autographs for sale at various auction sites)
Billie Burke was Broadway Royalty as wife and later widow of Florenz Ziegfeld of Ziegfeld Follies fame. Due to her status MGM treated her as royalty. During the making of Wizard of Oz in 1939 Burke was an MGM Contract player and as such had a permanent dressing room on the MGM lot. It had been custom designed for her by the MGM set design dept and was all in Baby Blue and Pink.
During the making of The Wizard of Oz, Margaret Hamilton, who was Not a MGM Contract player, was hired for the part of the Wicked Witch of the West and as she was not a permanent fixture on the MGM lot was given a small cramped trailer that she once described as worse than a broom closet. The first time Hamilton went to the MGM Commissary for lunch in full WWW makeup she caused quite a stir and a number of people there complained of losing their appetite. So the studio offered to provide Ms Hamilton her lunch for free if she would eat it in her dressing room. Billie Burke took one look at Hamilton’s dressing room and immediatly offered Hamilton the use of her dressing room for the remainder of the filming. Hamilton was grateful for her generosity. Apparently Burke really was like Glinda.
On a side note, Margaret Hamilton was not on long term contract with any Studio back in the day, she was hired per film and thus worked at all of the studios. When approached for the part of the Wicked Witch of the West she was offered a considerable increase in her regular weekly amount with a guarantee of a certain number of weeks to be paid at minimum. Hamilton was afraid that in accepting such an increase in her weekly amount that other studios would by-pass her for future roles as she would be “too expensive”. She contacted the producer and countered with a proposal of being paid her usual pay rate but increasing the minimum guaranteed weeks paid which would work out to the same amount but would not raise her weekly minimum amount. The producer agreed and due to delays, she was paid for more weeks that the minimum.
(1) poking at a sore spot: ChiCon has a line item for sponsorships in income but Discon does not. Is it reasonable to assume that donation income from Discon is under “Donations”? If so, ChiCon lists $50,000 from Google. Assuming the Google donation to Discon was of the same size, then the donation from other companies came to $24806.04?
(9) happy birthday to Lis Carey (and thanks for the reviews)!
I’ve liked a lot of Melissa Scott’s work, but my favorite remains a book she wrote with Lisa Barnett: The Armor of Light. Elizabeth I, Philip Sidney, Marlowe, Shakespeare – and theatre saves the world. Happy sigh.
Happy birthday, Lis!
Happy birthday Lis!
I came here to say that I am now Officially Old.
Also Old, indeed rather older, and indeed officially deceeased as a separate entity,the US Lighthouse Service, founded August 7, 1789. On July 1, 1939, it was officially absorbed into the US Coast Guard.
August 7 is still National Lighthouse Day.
And for my birthday, an old friend took me to see DC League of Super-Pets. Not a work of cinematic greatness, but it was a lot of fun, and it had two Very Good Dogs.
(9) I recently read an alternate history in which Pournelle has a minor role (Ghegyrqbir’f Guerr Zvyrf Qbra).
I’ve officially been given a team for the second SPSFC to replace the File 770 team.
We could use a few more members to review our allotment of books. If you’re interested in becoming a judge, fill out this application and in the question “Does your team have a name?” put Team 10: Sciencefiction.news.
11) Incorporating the baby and baby care into the LARP is a wonderfully clever and wholesome move by the GM. Kudos!
(I’ve no idea where the + in my name came from. I should revert to the jackd handle.)
Happy birthday, Lis!