Snapshots 80 Days Around the World

Here are 8 developments of interest to fans:

(1) The Center for Disease Control has discovered more people pay attention to emergency preparedness messages about fake emergencies

As our own director, Dr. Ali Khan, notes, “If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack.” So please log on, get a kit, make a plan, and be prepared!

(2) With all the talk about zombies, it should be no surprise to learn that someone’s getting answers from dead men – see the Washington Post article, ”Asking old human tissue to answer new scientific questions”

Pirates used to say that “dead men tell no tales.” Of course, the buccaneers had never heard of the polymerase chain reaction. Dead men turn out to be loaded with information if you can get your hands on them — or better yet, on small preserved pieces.

(3) The Rule of Three allows one more reference to the undead.. Wired magazine’s “A Brief History of Vampire Fiction” begins:

The author who invented the vampire story thought he was being funny.

“The Vampyre,” first published anonymously in 1819, was taken to be the work of the famous poet (and early 19th-century equivalent of a tabloid celebrity) Lord Byron, but turned out to be by Byron’s personal physician (and devoted hanger-on), Dr. John Polidori.

Its plot nugget was by Byron, in an uncompleted story dashed off for that ghost-story competition Mary Shelley (then Mary Godwin) won with Frankenstein, but Polidori worked it up into something publishable which, nearly two centuries on, remains smart, tart and readable.

(4) Colin Harris says the Chicon 7 Hugo team is working hard to complete the Hugo Voter Packet. Look for it in early May. For those wanting a head start, he points out that links to free copies of many short fiction nominees are already listed on Worlds Without End  — click for Novellas, Novelettes and Short Stories.

(5) The 2014 Worldcon committee will be eligible to give Retro Hugo Awards – if they want to. Steve Cooper of the unopposed London bid said they are seriously considering it because 2014 will be the 75th Anniversary of the very first Worldcon.

The rules provide for optional Retro Hugos on certain anniversaries of Worldcons that either took place before the award was invented (or in the case of the 1953 committee, just didn’t feel like giving it). If given, the hypothetical 2014 Retro Hugo Awards will  go to science fiction and fantasy published in 1938.

(6) SF Site reports author Tananarive Due has been named to fill the Cosby Chair for the Humanities at Spelman College for the 2012-13 academic year. Drs. William and Camille Cosby endowed the chair at the historically African-American college in 1987 to support professorships in the fine arts, humanities, and the social sciences.

(7) After a high school English teacher in North Dakota used Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, in his classroom in 1971, the president of the school board demanded all of the copies be burned in the school furnace due to the book’s “obscene language.” Letters of Note has posted Kurt Vonnegut’s rebuke:

I gather from what I read in the papers and hear on television that you imagine me, and some other writers, too, as being sort of ratlike people who enjoy making money from poisoning the minds of young people. I am in fact a large, strong person, fifty-one years old, who did a lot of farm work as a boy, who is good with tools. I have raised six children, three my own and three adopted. They have all turned out well. Two of them are farmers. I am a combat infantry veteran from World War II, and hold a Purple Heart. I have earned whatever I own by hard work. I have never been arrested or sued for anything. I am so much trusted with young people and by young people that I have served on the faculties of the University of Iowa, Harvard, and the City College of New York. Every year I receive at least a dozen invitations to be commencement speaker at colleges and high schools. My books are probably more widely used in schools than those of any other living American fiction writer.

(8) If Josh Gross keeps writing like this, the Boise Weekly‘s “New Media Czar” will earn a spot in every fan’s must-read list:

In her book on writing, The Art of Fiction, Ayn Rand said no fiction writer should ever use real people or contemporary events. She said her original draft of The Fountainhead included Hitler, but she later cut him out because she wasn’t sure anyone would know who he was in 10 years. While she was obviously wrong, the principle stands, and today we’re seeing why.

The President’s Vampire by Christopher Farnsworth, opened with Bin Laden’s assassination—by a vampire who stuffed a grenade in his mouth and then threw him over a cliff so he exploded in midair. Also, Bin Laden was actually a giant lizard, genetically modified by a vast international conspiracy of reptillian humanoids.

Doesn’t that prove Ayn Rand’s rule? Doesn’t that sound less plausible now than it did before Bin Laden’s death?

[Thanks for these links goes out to David Klaus, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Isaac Alexander, and Steven H Silver.]

7 thoughts on “Snapshots 80 Days Around the World

  1. Small correction: it was the 1954 committee, not 1953, that did not award Hugos. But the Hugos had only been awarded once previously, so it was not exactly a tradition.

  2. Am I right that SFCon chose not to award them because the Little Men already had awards they gave out at the con? I seem to remember hearing that from an old-timer ages ago (Donaho, maybe)

  3. The chair of the con did not cop to that when she was asked the reason on a panel in 1993. I’ve never heard that story before either.

  4. Christopher J Garcia – reading the 4 SFCon Progress Reports ( has – as far as I can tell – no mention of any awards to be given out by Little Men.

    There might be something in the souvenir book, that’s not online at Might be worth checking out the copy at the Worldcon display at Chicon.

    That said, the pubs are well worth reading since they’re essentially the work of Poul Anderson. One of the amusing complaints is that no one talks about SF at cons. Some things never change.

  5. There was at least one 1954 Hugo, awarded to Lords of the Swastika by Adolph Hitler, according to Norman Spinrad. Hitler was a popular fan artist in his day, and published a very good genzine, Storm, with a very active letter column as Hitler was very strong in his editorial opinions — there was an ongoing three-way feud for many years between Hitler, Harlan Ellison, and Francis Towner Laney in the pages of the zine, rivalled only later by the exchanges between Piers Anthony and Lester del Rey in Bruce Bowers’ Outworlds.

    These haven’t been scanned into eFanzines yet, unfortunately, so remain scarce items in the hands of the collectors lucky enough to have been on the mailing list. Hitler was very selective about whom he would send his zines, and they are very hard to find.

  6. It is true that The Elves, Gnomes and Little Men’s Science Fiction, Chowder and Marching Society did have an award. It was called The Invisible Little Man Award (a strange title since to the best of my knowledge the award has only ever been given to the least invisible of science fiction professionals). According to a short and unattributed article in Rhodomagnetic Digest V5 #1 (July 1962), the club organ of the Little Men, the purpose of the award was to “give formal recognition to someone in the science fiction field, either a fan or a pro, who has in some way contributed to the betterment of the field, and who has not yet been formally recognised”.

    As far as I know the Invisible Little Man Award was first given in 1950 to Ray Bradbury for his collection, THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES. I believe the trophy was handed over at a dinner especially arranged for the event. The Invisible Little Man Award was again awarded in 1951 to George Pal for producing adult science fiction films. This time the trophy was handed over at Westercon IV in San Francisco.

    Now according to that previously mentioned article the Invisible Little Man Award wasn’t awarded again until 1961, at Westercon 14 in Oakland, when the trophy went to Cele Goldsmith for the improvements she wrought on Amazing Stories & Fantastic Adventures. (This seems to have started a new run for the award that lasted all through the sixties at least.)

    Assuming this is all correct then I think it’s unlikely the Little Men handed out an Invisible Little Man Award at the 1954 Worldcon and then forgot all about it. Not impossible of course, stranger things have happened at worldcons, but damn unlikely. My theory is that the rumour of which Chris Garcia writes started because at some point the 1954 Worldcon Committee discussed handing out the Little Men Award at the con. I can imagine them considering the idea as it would have been an appropriate occasion to revive the award. If they did consider it I assume they probably decided it would be tactless to replace a set of awards decided on by the worldcon membership/ fandom at large with a single award decided exclusively by The Elves, Gnomes and Little Men’s Science Fiction, Chowder and Marching Society.

    And while we’re on the topic why oh why can I find no history for and list of recipients of the The Invisible Little Man Award online? There’s a job for you Mike for when you have nothing better to do. Given the Little Men and you are both from California this seems like an appropriate bit of work for File 770.

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