Gregory Benford, who turned 82 last month, suffered a major stroke on December 22.
His twin brother, Jim Benford, told the sff community today:
I flew down south immediately and the Doctors told me they didn’t expect him to live. However, he did survive and since has been very slowly recovering. He is paralyzed on his left side, can’t see the left side of his visual field. A psychiatrist has determined that he is not competent to make any decisions.
I’ve spoken with him, but mostly at him, via FaceTime and, although everyone thinks he’s improving, it seems to me that there’s something missing. My intuition is that he’s not entirely there, as of now. Deep down, he’s confused.
Gregory Benford is the author of Timescape, winner of the 1981 Nebula, British Science Fiction Association, Ditmar, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards. His work has been nominated for a total of 13 Nebulas (winning twice), and four Hugos.
(1) WAVE FUNCTION. Jim Benford was interviewed in a double-segment of 60 Minutes about the “Havana Syndrome” that is sickening State Department staffers around the world. He was interviewed as an expert on microwaves and as the author of High Power Microwaves, a copy of which was shown on screen. He was asked if the syndrome could be caused by a microwave weapon. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript.
James Benford: I think the best explanation, the most plausible, is that it’s a high-power microwave weapon.
James Benford is a physicist and leading authority on microwaves. He was not part of the government studies, but he co-wrote the book on microwave transmission. These are portable microwave transmitters of the kind that could damage the tissues of the brain.
James Benford: There are many kinds, and they can go anywhere in size from a suitcase all the way up to a large tractor trailer unit. And the bigger the device, the longer the range.
Scott Pelley: This would be able to transmit its microwave energy through the wall of a van, the wall of a home, something like that?
James Benford: Vans have windows, microwaves go through glass. They go through brick. They go through practically everything.
The technology, Benford told us, has been studied more than 50 years.
James Benford: It’s been developed widely in, perhaps, a dozen countries. The primary countries are the United States, Russia and China.
(2) VALE LOVECRAFT. From Joseph T. Major’s latest Alexiad I learned: “H. P. Lovecraft has stunned the world by announcing that this summer will see the end of his regular advice videos, ‘Ask Lovecraft’, on YouTube. How blasphemeously rugose and squamous! …Leeman Kessler, the real voice of Ask Lovecraft, has a second child and regular responsibilities as Mayor of Gambier, Ohio. After ten years, this additional activity has become more than he can handle. We will miss Ask Lovecraft.”
The latest video assures listeners things will wind down gradually —
And we’re not ending right away. Have no fear, we’re going to take things to the middle of the year so that we are right on our 10th anniversary. Until that time we will continue to answer your questions, dispense wisdom and offer up all the jackanapes you’ve come to expect.
… As a fantasy author myself, I’m intrigued as to how writers’ imagination hit a wall when imagining political alternatives. I am reminded of the oft-quoted remark from literary theorist Frederic Jameson, who quipped that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism. Accordingly, the authors who are adept at imagining the end of capitalism are, more often than not, at the fringes….
(4) BY CROM, NOW THIS IS A MIGHTY ORGAN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Found in my library’s sale pile, and purchased for a buck, because it didn’t occur to me to first check Hoopla, YouTube, etc:
Basil Poledouris’ soundtrack for the Conan The Barbarian movie, transcribed for organ, performed by Phillipp Pelster (on Amazon).
And here’s a live orchestra performance (not just the organ):
By Crom’s Cavitous Teeth, I wouldst happily sell my copye for that dollar plus shipping (media mail even), elstwhyse I mayeth slip the foul thing back into the library’s for-sale box.
(5) MOCCA. The Society of Illustrators released the visuals for the 2022 MoCCA Arts Festival to be held April 2-3 in New York.
Featuring work by over 500 creators, the weekend will also include live lectures, panels, and artist signings! In one of the first independent comics festivals of the season, this year’s Fest will truly be a momentous occasion with many happy reunions for the community!
To help announce and promote this year’s Fest, the Society asked creator Yadi Liu, previous MoCCA Arts Fest exhibitor and Award of Excellence gallery artist, to create a colorful, celebratory image. Liu’s art will grace the cover of the Souvenir Journal and will feature prominently on all advertising and promotional materials, as well as a selection of merchandise available to purchase at the SI Booth. “Yadi’s art really captures our excitement for the return of the Fest. After several years of challenges and disappointments, we are so happy to welcome everyone back!” said Executive Director Anelle Miller.
In addition to Liu’s art, the Society has also asked several notable artists to create work for the show. Natalie Andrewson’s whimsical creatures will be displayed on the badges, and Patrick McDonnell’s quirky MUTTS characters will be featured as spot illustrations found throughout the Fest. These featured artists will be attending the Fest, and their schedules and table locations will be released as the date approaches.
How have you seen the horror genre change over the years? And how do you think it will continue to evolve?
For sure in the 50 years that I’ve been writing I see changes. Per diversity: In the beginning there were so few Blacks (and others) in genre writing. Since then it has increased in horror and science fiction and fantasy, which is good. The birth of black publishers and self-publishing has created an outlet for Other authors to offer their work to readers, in addition to the traditional publishers. We need this expanding to include more Others to continue. There are many different kinds of stories to be told and and creators to be seen. A big part of making this happen is for the publishing field to increase awareness and be willing to work at including other voices and realize that decision makers need to include Others.
Who are some African diaspora horror authors you recommend our audience check out?
The incredibly talented Chesya Burke is a writer who first came to my attention when I was putting together 60 Black Women in Horror. Valjeanne Jeffers and Crystal Connor are two writers who have impressed me with their short story work. I love L.A. Banks’ highly entertaining Vampire Huntress series. I love anthologies that give the reader a sampling of various African Diaspora horror writers, and Sycorax’s Daughers, edited by Linda Addison, Kinitra Brooks, and Susanna Morris and Dark Matter edited by Sheree Renee Thomas are two I recommend.
What was it about the horror genre that drew you to it?
I was drawn to horror because I needed it. I needed the distraction, the escape. The truth is, I was sort of an outcast and a latch-key kid until high school, where I would settle into just being awkward. I’m the quintessential late bloomer. With that, all that we now label ‘nerd stuff’ drew my attention and helped keep my little mind off some of the more challenging aspects of my life. Because of my strange interests, the other kids didn’t get me, and to be fair, I may have handled it badly. To give you a sense of how early my problems started, the first fight I ever had in school was over a Planet of The Apes action figure which I mistakenly brought to school only to have someone try to steal it. That was second grade.
As far as horror was concerned, everything I was exposed to became part of this rich fantasy world I developed in my head. At any given moment my imagination let me either hunt Dracula or be just like them. Naturally, this was balanced out with fantasies about being Batman or Spider-Man but as I approached my teens, these fantasies became an addiction. I think that’s possible; being addicted to your own imagination. And mine is a beast. It’s been fed some of the best horror books and movies. There’s also been a lot of cross pollination within genres, like drama and comedy. That’s why there are certain things I cannot stop doing, like inserting humor into some of my work, or creating these dialogues that could easily be inserted into a family drama, if not for the fact it’s a vampire and a werewolf having the argument.
… ON CALL When I come back here, I usually have to deal with people who don’t respect the sanctity of my Sunday, like the production team for this TV show I’m working on called “Get Millie Black,” a detective show set in the U.K. and Jamaica. It’s produced by HBO and hopefully will be out around this time in 2023. When you’re a writer, there’s no days off….
(8) WORLD VIDEO GAME HOF NOMINATIONS. You have until February 28 to submit a recommendation for the 2022 World Video Game Hall of Fame sponsored by The Strong National Museum of Play.
Do you have a favorite video game that deserves to join icons such as Pong,Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, The Legend of Zelda, and The Oregon Trail in The Strong’s World Video Game Hall of Fame? Video game lovers everywhere are urged to submit nominations for induction online. Submissions for nominations must be made by Monday, February 28, 2022. Finalists will be announced in March, 2022, and inductees will be revealed at a special ceremony at The Strong museum on May 5, 2022.
The World Video Game Hall of Fame at The Strong was established in 2015 to recognize individual electronic games of all types—arcade, console, computer, handheld, and mobile—that meet the following criteria: icon-status, the game is widely recognized and remembered; longevity, the game is more than a passing fad and has enjoyed popularity over time; geographical reach, the game meets the above criteria across international boundaries; and influence, the game has exerted significant influence on the design and development of other games, on other forms of entertainment, or on popular culture and society in general.
(9) WADE IN. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the Washington Post, Michael Cavna writes about “Homer At the Bat,” a classic episode of The Simpsons that first aired in February 1992 and was one of the first episodes to feature multiple celebrities in one episode. Cavna reports the episode is packed with baseball lore (if you know who Cap Anson was, this is a show for you) and he interviews Wade Boggs, who says at autograph shows “I feel like I’m at a Comic-Con” because he has as many fans asking him to sign stills from The Simpsons as he does photos of him in a Red Sox, Yankees, or Devil Rays uniform. “’Homer at the Bat’ at 30: The ‘Simpsons’ baseball episode that pushed the show’s boundaries”.
…As Major League Baseball endures a lockout and faces a possible delay to this season, it’s an apt occasion to remember another time when ballplayers and management didn’t see eye to eye. Enter Homer, Mr. Burns and themighty lineup of imported pro ringers.
“Homer at the Bat,” which featured the voices of nine active major leaguers andmade its debutFeb. 20, 1992,was more than a quirky one-off in celebrity stunt casting. The 17th episode of Season 3 emboldened the minds behind “The Simpsons” to push the boundaries of what an animated half-hour series could do and show.
1967 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] Fifty-five years ago, Raquel Welch starred in One Million Years B.C. which was financed by Hammer Film Productions and Seven Arts. It was a remake of One Million B.C., a film made twenty-seven years earlier. The original film was also known as Cave Man, Man and His Mate and Tumak. That film was produced by Hal Roach and D. W. Griffith who I know you’ll recognize.
It was directed by Don Chaffey from the screenplay by Michael Carreras which in turn was based off the screenplay for the first film written by Mickell Novack, George Baker and Joseph Frickert.
The primary cast was Raquel Welch as Loana and John Richardson as Tumak with rest of the cast being Percy Herbert as Sakana, Robert Brown as Akhoba, Martine Beswick as Nupondi and Jean Wladon as Ahot.
Ray Harryhausen animated all of the dinosaur attacks using stop-motion animation techniques, and also coordinated all of the live action creatures used from turtles to crickets and iguanas.
So what was the reception for it? Most critics liked it. The Monthly Film Bulletin said that while it was “Very easy to dismiss the film as a silly spectacle; but Hammer production finesse is much in evidence and Don Chaffey has done a competent job of direction. And it is all hugely enjoyable.” And TV Guide said “While far from being one of Harryhausen’s best films (the quality of which had little to do with his abilities), the movie has superb effects that are worth a look for his fans.”
It cost just two point five million to make and made four point five million, a solid profit at the time.
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a really poor thirty-six percent rating which I admit surprised me.
(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 21, 1912 — Peter Schuyler Miller. He wrote pulp fiction starting in the Thirties, and is generally considered one of the more popular writers of the period. His work appeared in such magazines as Amazing Stories, Astounding, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Marvel Tales, Super Science Stories, and Weird Tales to name but a few of the publications he appeared in. He began book reviewing beginning initially for Astounding Science Fiction and later for its successor, Analog. The 1963 Worldcon presented him with a special committee award for book reviewing. He had but two novels, Genus Homo, written with L. Sprague de Camp, and Alicia in Blunderland. (Died 1974.)
Born February 21, 1914 — H.L. Gold. Editor of Galaxy from 1951 to 1960 and If from 1959 to 1961. Before that, from 1939-41 he was an assistant editor on Captain Future, Startling Stories and Thrilling Wonder Stories. He also was a writer working for DC in the early Forties on Batman, Boy Commandos, Superboy, Superman and Wonder Woman. In the Thirties, he wrote two novels, A Matter of Form and None But Lucifer, the latter with L. Sprague de Camp. And he wrote a double handful of short fiction. Philcon II awarded him, along with John W. Campbell, Jr. for Astounding Science Fiction, the Hugo for Best Professional Editor for his work on Galaxy. (Died 1996.)
Born February 21, 1935 — Richard A. Lupoff. His career started off with Xero, a Hugo winning fanzine he edited with his wife Pat and Bhob Stewart. A veritable who’s who of writers were published there. He also was a reviewer for Algol. To say he was prolific as a professional writer is an understatement as he’s known to have written at least fifty works, plus short fiction, and some non-fiction as well. I’m fond of Sacred Locomotive Flies and The Universal Holmes but your tolerance for his humor may vary. The usual digital suspects stock him deeply at quite reasonable prices. (Died 2020.)
Born February 21, 1937 — Gary Lockwood, 85. Best remembered for his roles as astronaut Frank Poole in 2001: A Space Odyssey and as Lieutenant Commander Gary Mitchell in the Trek episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before”. He’s also in The Magic Sword as Sir George which Mystery Science Theatre admitted was pretty good, a rare admission for them. He’s got a number of genre of one-offs including the Earth II pilot, Mission Impossible, Night Gallery, Six Million Dollar Man and MacGyver.
Born February 21, 1946 — Anthony Daniels, 76. Obviously best known for playing C-3PO in the Star Wars film series. To my knowledge, he’s the only actor to have appeared in all of the productions in the series, no matter what they are. He has scant other genre creds but they are being in I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle as a Priest, voicing C-3PO in The Lego Movie and the same in Ralph Breaks the Internet. Did you know that Season 4, Episode 17 of The Muppet Show is listed as “The Stars of Star Wars” and C-3PO apparently appears on it?
Born February 21, 1946 — Alan Rickman. I’ll single him out for his role in the beloved Galaxy Quest as Dr. Lazarus but he’s got an extensive acting resume in our community. Of course he played Professor Severus Snape in the Potter franchise, and his first genre role was in the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves as the Sheriff of Nottingham. He voiced Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a role worthy of an Academy Award. Voicing Absolem in Alice Through the Looking Glass was his final role. (Died 2016.)
Born February 21, 1950 — Larry Drake. I know him best as the over the top Robert G. Durant in the Darkman franchise. His other genre roles are largely in series one offs such as several appearances on Tales from the Crypt, an appearance on The Outer Limits and even an episode of Star Trek: Voyager. (Died 2016.)
Born February 21, 1961 — David D. Levine, 61. Winner of the Hugo Award at L.A. Con IV for the Best Short Story for his story “Tk’tk’tk” which you hear thisaway. He has the Adventures of Arabella Ashby series which currently is four novels strong. To date, he has had one collection titled Space Magic.
(12) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro with Batman and Robin – took me a moment to get it!
It’s The Argyle Sweater, but this one would be just as at home in Bizarro or The Far Side.
Dinosaur Comics’ creator tells the audience, “What this comic assumes is that the ninth and current Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, the former Prime Minister of Portugal, knows who Spider-Man is. I believe this to be an extremely fair assumption.”
Tom Gauld in the Guardian:
(13) EASTER EGGS. Each week Dan Piraro, the creator of the Bizarro newspaper comic, posts his Sunday comic, then a short essay. In “Pie Eyed” he explains all the extras in yesterday’s comic. There are plenty!
…Anyway, I’m fascinated by background jokes and hidden images. I’m saying all this because the Sunday cartoon above is a prime example of my obsession. There are so many background gags in this one it almost overwhelms the main joke. I’m aware of that but I can’t stop myself.
I’ve included Bunny’s Pie Repair as a business in the background of cartoons on city streets a bunch of times, but I think this one is the most elaborate version I’ve done. Here’s an enlargement for your convenience….
So, in 2020, as the Pandemic settled in like an unwanted relative who just came for a week and is still tying up the bathroom, I did a series of posts for the FB Page of the Nero Wolfe fan club, The Wolfe Pack. I speculated on what Stay at Home would be like for Archie, living in the Brownstone with Nero Wolfe, Fritz Brenner, and Theodore Horstmann. I have already re-posted days one through thirty-six. Here is thirty seven (April 27). It helps if you read the series in order, so I’ve included links to the earlier entries.
Day Thirty Seven – 2020 Stay at Home
I was looking through some old notebooks today and came across this gem from a case I never finished writing up. There have been times when I think Inspector Cramer really did want to lock me up forever, and this was one of them…
(15) ONCE AND FUTURE AILUROPHILES. Mark Twain House & Museum will host a free virtual event “A Cat’s Tale: Dr. Paul Koudounaris and Baba the Cat on the History of Cats in America” on Thursday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Register here.
The Mark Twain House & Museum is delighted to welcome fellow feline enthusiast, historian, and author Paul Koudounaris – a man who might just love cats as much as Mark Twain did.
Paul will discuss the history of America’s felines and their oft neglected contributions. Presented with a slideshow of historical images, the talk will take the audience on a wild and harrowing journey to reclaim the prodigious achievements of some of our nation’s greatest cats. Learn about cats in wartime and their role in the Wild West. Hear the extraordinary stories of cats like Clementine Jones, who traveled 1600 miles to find her family in a home and city she had never before been in. Or Pooli, a World War II US Navy cat who is the most decorated military animal in American history. Or Kiddo the flying cat, the world’s first celebrity feline. Or the amazing Colonel, the greatest (and highest ranking!) cat in US Army history.
(16) KEEP CALM.
Twitter would not give me the blue check, so I can assure everyone that standards are being upheld.
The Galaxy’s population of mysterious filaments that emit bright radio waves is at least ten times larger than scientists realised
Radio astronomer Farhad Yusef-Zadeh co-discovered the first of these filaments in the 1980s. The structures consist of electrons travelling at nearly the speed of light, on trajectories that spiral around magnetic-field lines. Now, Yusef-Zadeh, who is based at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and his collaborators have used MeerKAT, an array of 64 antennas in South Africa’s Northern Cape region, to take a series of 20 shots of the Milky Way’s central region, an effort that took some 200 hours.
The resulting composite image reveals a number of striking features, including expanding shock waves generated by supernovae, or exploding stars, and almost 1,000 filaments. The filaments’ spectral features suggest that their origin is not related to supernovae.
One possible explanation is that they originated from past cycles of activity of Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the Galaxy’s centre. Mysteriously, some of the filaments seem to be clustered together and evenly spaced, like the teeth of a comb.
Wally Funk will receive the 2022 Michael Collins Trophy for Lifetime Achievement. Funk embodies the adage of “never give up on your dreams.” Since her first flying lesson in 1948 at age 9 and enrollment in flight school at 16, Funk knew that she wanted to fly, despite societal biases against women in aviation. After earning multiple certificates and ratings, she set her sights even higher in the sky—space. She was one of the top-performing participants in the Lovelace Woman in Space Program and dedicated decades of her life to flight instruction and safety, having logged over 19,600 hours of flight time, while never abandoning her dream of going to space. In 2021, that dream came true when she launched on the first crewed suborbital mission of Blue Origin’s New Shepard capsule.
MiMi Aung and the Mars Helicopter Ingenuity Team will receive the 2022 Michael Collins Trophy for Current Achievement. In April 2021, a small robotic helicopter achieved the first powered flight on another planet. Delivered to the surface of Mars by the rover Perseverance, Ingenuity was a technology demonstration aboard the Mars 2020 mission and successfully proved that flight was possible on the Red Planet. It is also now serving as a helpful tool to aid rover exploration of Mars. Ingenuity completed increasingly challenging flights and scouted areas for the Perseverance rover’s upcoming treks. Ingenuity’s “Wright brothers moment” captured the attention of the public back on planet Earth and inspired everyone to imagine what could be next in planetary exploration.
Congratulations to these two worthy recipients! They will be honored at an event at the end of March. The event is sponsored by Atlas Air Worldwide, BAE Systems, Booz Allen Hamilton, The Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, Jacobs, Leidos, National Air Traffic Controllers Association, Pratt & Whitney, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Thales.
(19) FLAME ON. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This remake of Stephen King’s Firestarter is coming in May and has a kid “who can unleash a nuclear explosion simply by using the powers of her mind.” Gosh wow!
(20) VIDEO OF THE DAY. This video, which dropped yesterday, has Ryan George playing an apprentice ghost who’s having a hard time learning not to haunt people: “Ghosts Are Bad At Revenge”.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Chris Barkley, Lise Andreasen, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Daniel Dern, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Tom Becker.]
Alan Boyle, who wrote the story, is a long-time science fiction fan as well and hosts a relatively new science fiction podcast, Fiction Science, which looks at the intersection of science/technology and science fiction. His co-host is writer and Clarion West graduate Dominica Phetteplace. Alan’s also written about Butler before.
Fifteen years after her death, Seattle science-fiction author Octavia E. Butler has joined an exclusive pantheon of space luminaries memorialized on Mars.
Today NASA announced that the Red Planet locale where its Perseverance rover touched down last month is called Octavia E. Butler Landing, in honor of a Black author who emphasized diversity in tales of alternate realities and far-out futures.
“Butler’s protagonists embody determination and inventiveness, making her a perfect fit for the Perseverance rover mission and its theme of overcoming challenges,” Kathryn Stack Morgan, deputy project scientist for Perseverance, said in a news release. “Butler inspired and influenced the planetary science community and many beyond, including those typically under-represented in STEM fields.”
Butler died unexpectedly in 2006 at the age of 58, after sustaining a head injury in a fall on a walkway outside her home in Lake Forest Park, Wash. She had moved to the Seattle area in 1999 from her native Southern California….
…One of host Tonya Mosley’s neighbors makes it a point to walk clear across Los Angeles every once in a while to free his mind and find inspiration in his surroundings. Mosley isn’t quite there, but she does enjoy a daily stroll along the majestic, tree-lined streets of Pasadena, California. Walking the same route every day is an exercise in staying present.
Pasadena is the kind of place where kids ride their bikes in the middle of the street and the manicured lawns and shrubs rival those of the Midwest. For Octavia Butler, one of the most celebrated science fiction writers of our time, Pasadena was the spark that lit her flame.
“There is something about this mix of urban and wild,” journalist Lynell George says. “[Butler] was constantly looking at these interactions of how we use, you know, wilderness in space and nature.”
The title of George’s book “A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia Butler” comes from Butler’s description when asked what it takes to write science and speculative fiction. The book explains that early on in Butler’s life, she used the limited world around her — only where she could get by on foot or by bus — to create new worlds and possibilities.
An “avid walker,” Butler journeyed around Pasadena and wrote down what she called “walk thoughts” in a notebook, George says. Butler examined the climate and noted small changes over time.
(3) JOHN VARLEY UPDATE. Now that John Varley is out of the hospital his partner, Lee Emmett, has added a several paragraph long update to “Sending Prayers to the Cosmos”.
John was discharged from the hospital February 28 with many instructions… Also included in his discharge package was a booklet, Heart Surgery Care Guide, with all the no no’s: No lifting more than 5 pounds; No using arms to push or pull; No lifting elbows above shoulder height; No reaching behind your back, above waist level; No driving.
He has a red heart-shaped pillow that he hugs to his chest when he coughs, sneezes, burps, laughs, hiccups, gets in and out of bed, stands up, or rides in a car in the backseat behind the front passenger….
Varley added a note of his own:
This will be brief as it is still hard for me to sit in a typing position, and my left arm doesn’t work very well. Since I’m a lefty this is a bigger problem for me than it probably is for you. They say it will get better.
I just wanted to add my thanks to the excellent report and appreciation Lee wrote, above. I thank you for the good vibes and wishes and karma sent my way during my recent travails. Yes, and your prayers as well, though I’m an atheist and don’t know quite what to do with them. Is anyone really listening? Maybe so. Can’t hurt to pray, anyhow.
I also need to send a special thank you to those who sent small donations along with the wishes. As you know, in the USA we have easily the best health care in the world … if you can afford it. I got wonderful care every moment I was at PeaceHealth hospital. Now the bills will start coming in. We pay for insurance (more than we can afford) but the co-pays can sometimes be deadlier than COVID. (For which we still haven’t been able to find a vaccination appointment.)
That’s all I can do now. I will have some observations and such a little later, when my arm stops trembling.
(4) ZOOMING THROUGH FANHISTORY. Fanac.org’s FanHistory Project Zoom Session for March 27 will bring you face-to-face with “The Benford Twins, Fandom and the Larger Universe with Greg and Jim Benford.”
Jim and Greg Benford became fans in the 1950s, and throughout a lifetime of science, professional writing, and extensive accomplishments, they have remained fans.
In this Zoom session, they’ll talk about their introduction into fandom, their fandom over the years, and tell stories about the important and interesting people they’ve met. What influence has fandom had on them? Did relocation change their interactions with fandom? How have their professional lives influenced their fandom? Join us and find out (and expect a few surprises)!
Quitting your day job is one of the biggest decisions you can make as a writer. How do you know if you’re ready? What if you make a mistake and you don’t have enough money? How stable do you need to be? What if you’re fired and don’t have a choice? What do you need to know beyond finances? This workshop addresses these questions (and brings up points you may not have considered) as well as common issues that arise when you transition from a day job that provides structure into freelance work where you’re the only boss.
…”Celebrity flare-ups on Twitter typically follow a couple of courses,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. “Some are personal brand-building efforts, which aim to draw attention to someone who believes the spotlight is passing them over by theatrically taking on someone with a far higher profile. Others seem more ethically-aimed, like historian Kevin M. Kruse’s takedowns of historical falsehoods that various public figures claim are true. Over time, such exchanges mostly follow highly predictable courses though the verbal slap-downs seem to keep people coming back. If it worked for Don Rickles, maybe Scott Baio can make a go of it.”
King references Scalzi in this article, which naturally caught John’s eye:
(7) ADKISSON OBIT. Michael George Adkisson (1955-2021) died February 7. The family obituary is here. He was editor/publisher of New Pathways magazine from 1986-1992.
…Mike as everyone calls him, has a brilliant mind, loves art, writing, movies and science fiction. He was the founder, owner, editor and publisher of the science fiction magazine, New Pathways. The magazine got published from March 1986 to Winter of 1992. Being an artist himself, he provided much of the magazine’s artwork in the early issues….
…The last issue appeared a year after the previous one and the magazine ceased at the height of its influence. It held a crucial place in the 1980s in providing a market for the alternate view of sf and Speculative Fiction. It was part of an evolution flowing from Scott Edelman’s Last Wave and on to David Memmott’s Ice River, C J Cypret’s Nonstop Magazine and Steve Brown’s Science Fiction Eye.
(8) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
March 5, 1938 — On this day in 1938, RKO first aired “The Bride of Death” with Orson Welles as The Shadow. Welles prior to his War of The Worlds broadcast would play the role for thirty three episodes in 1937 and 1938 with Blue Coal being the sponsor. You can download it here. (CE)
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born March 5, 1853 – Howard Pyle. Five novels touchng the Matter of Arthur (here’s one), another about Robin Hood; some folks groan HP toned fables down to make them suitable for children, others applaud his artistry as a retelling fabulist (in the original sense, not the later meaning a liar). Twenty-four tales in The Wonder Clock, one for each hour, with poems by sister Katherine Pyle. Illustrator, of his own books and e.g. two by Woodrow Wilson while WW was a history professor; here is a Story of Siegfried – no, not by that James Baldwin. Here is a mermaid. (Died 1911) [JH]
Born March 5, 1936 — Dean Stockwell, 85. You’ll do doubt best remember him as Al the hologram on Quantum Leap. He had one-offs on Mission Impossible, The Night Gallery, A Twist in The Tale, Orson Welles’ Great Mysteries and The Twilght Zone. Anything I’ve overlooked? (CE)
Born March 5, 1942 — Mike Resnick. Damn, it still losing him hurts. It’s worth noting that he’s has been nominated for thirty-seven Hugo Awards, which is a record for writers, and won five times. Somewhat ironically nothing I’ve really enjoyed by him has won those Hugos. The novels making my list are his John Justin Mallory detective novels, The Red Tape War (with Jack L. Chalker & George Alec Effinger), and, yes it’s not really genre, Cat on a Cold Tin Roof. (Died 2020.) (CE)
Born March 5, 1952 — Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden, 69. She’s better known by her pen names of Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm. I’m reasonably sure the first thing I read and enjoyed by her was Wizard of the Pigeons, but The Gypsy with Steven Brust was equally enjoyable and had the added bonus of a Boiled in Lead soundtrack. What’s she done recently that I should think of reading? (CE)
Born March 5, 1946 – Phil Jennings, age 75. Seven novels, seventy shorter stories. His work has been called “pyrotechnical … [his] exuberance is intermittently chaotic.” [JH]
Born March 5, 1955 — Penn Jillette, 66. Performed on Babylon 5 in the episode scripted by Neil Gaiman titled “Day of The Dead” as part of Penn & Teller who portrayed comedians Rebo and Zooty. It’s one of my favorite episodes of the series. Also he had a recurring role on Sabrina the Teenage Witch as Drell, the head of the Witches’ Council. He’s been in Fantasia 2000, Toy Story, Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, VR.5, Space Ghost Coast to Coast and most recently Black Mirror. (CE)
Born March 5, 1955 – Hejja Attila. (Personal name last, Hungarian style.) Twoscore covers, a few interiors. Here is The Hugo Winners, vol. 1. Here is The Web Between the Worlds. Here is Stepsons of Terra.Here is The Wrong End of Time. (Died 2007) [JH]
Born March 5, 1959 – Howard Hendrix, Ph.D., age 62. Six novels, twoscore shorter stories, half a dozen poems (one had a Dwarf Star Award from SF Poetry Ass’n); three anthologies; book reviews in NY Review of SF. Professor of English at Cal. State Univ., Fresno. [JH]
Born March 5, 1974 — Matt Lucas, 47. He played Nardole, a cyborg, who was a companion to the Twelfth Doctor. He is the only regular companion introduced under Steven Moffat to have never died on screen. He provided the voice of Sparx on Astro Boy, and was Tweedledee and Tweedledum in Alice through the Looking Glass. (CE)
Born March 5, 1976 – Katy Stauber, age 45. Three novels, two shorter stories; two anthologies with Chester Hoster (Futuristica vols I & II). Has read Ivanhoe, The Jungle Book, Don Quixote, Lucifer’s Hammer, Metamorphoses, The Aeneid, four Shakespeare plays, three books by Dickens, two by Stevenson, five by Vonnegut, eighteen by Wodehouse (that’s not too many), The Stranger. [JH]
Born March 5, 1984 – Ashley Hope Pérez, Ph.D., age 37. Professor of world literatures at Ohio State Univ. One novel for us, two others (Out of Darkness a School Lib’y Journal and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year; Printz Honor, Tomás Rivera Mexican-American Children’s Book Award) . She says “I believe in writing that reflects the uniqueness and diversity of lives lived in any given community, regardless of the background of the author.” [JH]
Born March 5, 1986 — Sarah J. Maas, 35. Author of the Throne of Glass series wherein Cinderella is stone cold assassin, and one I‘ve not sampled yet. If you’re so inclined, there’s A Court of Thorns and Roses Coloring Book. Really. Truly. (CE)
Wrong Hands analyzes a photo to show that the moon landing was faked.
Also recommended, Wrong Hands’ list of “nonspecific editions.”
(11) KICKSTARTER IS IMMINENT. Edward Willett is launching a Kickstarter March 9 to fund Shapers of Worlds: Volume II, an anthology featuring top talents in the industry including Kelley Armstrong, Marie Brennan, Garth Nix among others who were guests during the second year of Edward Willett’s podcast, The Worldshapers. The appeal launches March 9 at 12 noon CST – interested fans can go to the pre-launch page (which will become the project page) to sign up to be notified when it opens.
If it funds, Shapers of Worlds Volume II will feature new fiction from Kelley Armstrong, Marie Brennan, Helen Dale, Candas Jane Dorsey, Lisa Foiles, Susan Forest, James Alan Gardner, Matthew Hughes, Heli Kennedy, Lisa Kessler, Adria Laycraft, Ira Nayman, Garth Nix, Tim Pratt, Edward Savio, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Jeremy Szal, and Edward Willett, plus stories by Jeffrey A. Carver, Barbara Hambly, Nancy Kress, David D. Levine, S.M. Stirling, and Carrie Vaughn. Among those authors are winners and nominees for every major science fiction and fantasy literary award, plus several international bestsellers.
Backers’ rewards offered by the authors include some 100 signed books (including limited editions), Tuckerizations (a backer’s name used as a character name), ready-to-hang photographs, audiobooks, bookplates, and more.
Shapers of Worlds Volume II is a follow-up to Shapers of Worlds, successfully Kickstarted one year ago.
(12) THE CAPITAL OF THE INSUBORDINATION. Denver author team O.E. Tearmann’s work includes the queer cyberpunk Aces High, Jokers Wild series which to date includes five novels and two short story collections. The fifth novel, Draw Dead, was released March 3.
Their books include strong themes of diversity and found family, providing a surprisingly hopeful take on a dystopian future. Bringing their own experiences as a marginalized author together with flawed but genuine characters, Tearmann’s work has been described as “Firefly for the dystopian genre.”
“Aidan Headly never wanted to be the man giving orders. That’s fine with the Democratic State Force base he’s been assigned to command: they don’t like to take orders. Nicknamed the Wildcards, they used to be the most effective base against the seven Corporations owning the former United States in a war that has lasted over half a century. Now the Wildcards are known for creative insubordination, chaos, and commanders begging to be reassigned. Aidan is their last chance. If he can pull off his assignment as Commander and yank his ragtag crew of dreamers and fighters together, maybe they can get back to doing what they came to do: fighting for a country worth living in. Life’s a bitch. She deals off the bottom of the deck. But you play the hands you’re given.“
(13) ON A ROLL. Sff art collector Doug Ellis recalls for Facebook readers details of a delightful six-week run acquiring multiple works by Virgil Finlay.
In last week’s Finlay Friday, I told the tale of how, back in the last week of March 2005, I’d acquired 15 Virgil Finlay originals from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It was an incredible purchase, but within six weeks it led to my acquisition of five more Finlay originals. Needless to say, that six week period was the greatest Finlay run of my collecting career….
…It was the early 1900s, and the driver of this particular car was Thomas Edison. While electric cars weren’t a novelty in the neighborhood, most of them relied on heavy and cumbersome lead-acid batteries. Edison had outfitted his car with a new type of battery that he hoped would soon be powering vehicles throughout the country: a nickel-iron battery. Building on the work of the Swedish inventor Ernst Waldemar Jungner, who first patented a nickel-iron battery in 1899, Edison sought to refine the battery for use in automobiles….
…But more than a century later, engineers would rediscover the nickel-iron battery as something of a diamond in the rough. Now it is being investigated as an answer to an enduring challenge for renewable energy: smoothing out the intermittent nature of clean energy sources like wind and solar. And hydrogen, once considered a worrisome byproduct, could turn out to be one of the most useful things about these batteries….
Conventional batteries, such as those based on lithium, can store energy in the short-term, but when they’re fully charged they have to release any excess or they could overheat and degrade. The nickel-iron battolyser, on the other hand remains stable when fully charged, at which point it can transition to making hydrogen instead.
“[Nickel-iron batteries] are resilient, being able to withstand undercharging and overcharging better than other batteries,” says John Barton, a research associate at the School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering, Loughborough University in the UK, who also researches battolysers. “With hydrogen production, the battolyser adds multi-day and even inter-seasonal energy storage.”
Besides creating hydrogen, nickel-iron batteries have other useful traits, first and foremost that they are unusually low-maintenance. They are extremely durable, as Edison proved in his early electric car, and some have been known to last upwards of 40 years. The metals needed to make the battery – nickel and iron – are also more common than, say, cobalt which is used to make conventional batteries….
On a remote peninsular in the Arctic circle, enormous wounds are appearing in the permafrost and have started to worry scientists. Research teams from Russia and the United States are racing to find out what this means for Siberia, and potentially the rest of the world. Based on the BBC Future article ‘The mystery of Siberia’s exploding craters‘.
This Fan History Zoom (February 2021) explores the last 50-60 years of Southern US Fandom, through anecdotes and personal experiences. From Bill Plott with over 60 years of experience to Toni Weisskopf with a mere 40, the speakers share cherished memories and their thoughts on the nature of Southern Fandom. They speak about conventions, both regional and Worldcons, awards and traditions, bigger than life personalities, and fanzines. At the heart of it all, lies the hospitality and inclusiveness of Southern Fandom. There’s also a brief appearance by Jim Benford on the topic of his early fanzines, and an interesting Q&A session with the audience.
Here’s a sample anecdote, about Joe Celko, a Southern fan who shaved his head and wore a goatee one before that was a popular look: “At one party Kelly Freas actually drew on the back of his head his face while he was asleep…”
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mike Kennedy, Rich Lynch, Daniel Dern, Paul Riddell, Michael Toman, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, John Hertz, Frank Catalano, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
(1) I WAS A FAN FOR THE FBI. Rob Hansen’s THEN documents the FBI informant who joined the LASFS and enjoyed fandom so much he stuck around — Samuel D. Russell. I heard the story from Milt Stevens, who made sure the legend was handed down to future club members, but I never had the opportunity to read these articles before.
…The name of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society was brought into the proceedings of the trial of eleven local communist leaders, currently taking place in this city. The eleven men and women being tried for the alleged act of advocating the use of violence for overthrowing the government of the United States.
The prosecution introduced various witnesses who had joined the communist party as informers for the FBI. One of these witness was the once well-known fan, Samuel D. Russell. Among many other activities, Russell was co-editor and publisher, with Francis T. Laney, of THE ACOLYTE, which was for many years one of the leading fan mags of the nation.
…Yet the film devotes more time to idle bantering and boozing than it does to the group’s literary and moral purposes. It also overlooks a crucial exchange: a meeting in December 1914, dubbed “the Council of London,” which was transformative for Tolkien. “In fact it was a council of life,” writes John Garth, author of the magisterial Tolkien and the Great War. The prospect of the trenches had a sobering effect. Late into the night they talked and debated — about love, literature, patriotism, and religion. It was at this moment, and among this fellowship, that Tolkien began to sense his literary calling. “For Tolkien, the weekend was a revelation,” Garth concludes, “and he came to regard it as a turning point in his creative life.”
If the film’s writers wanted to depict such a revelatory scene — which they don’t — it would have required familiarity with an ancient source of wisdom. We no longer appreciate how the educated classes of Tolkien’s generation were schooled in the classical and medieval literary traditions….
21-year-old insurance salesman Tim hasn’t seen his police detective dad for years, but when news arrives that his old man has mysteriously disappeared, he heads to the Pokemon paradise of Ryme City – where humans and Pokemon live side by side – to look into what’s happened.
Poking around his father’s flat, he discovers his dad’s Pokemon partner, “Detective Pikachu”, wandering around with no memory of what has occurred.
Together, Tim and Pikachu must solve the case and save the world, meeting a whole host of different Pokemon along the way, battling the occasional Charizard and negotiating with Mr. Mimes. As you do.
(5) BOLGEO MEDICAL UPDATE. Marcia
Kelly Illingworth alerts friends of Tim Bolgeo that he has entered hospice
I am getting damned sick and tired of having to write to you about things like this. My dear, old friend, Tim “Uncle Timmy” Bolgeo, a well-known, Southern fan, founder of LibertyCon, in Chattanooga, TN, is in the hospital in Chattanooga TN, and has been placed in Hospice care.
I know that a lot of old school fans have problems with Timmy, due to his Conservative political views, and his old school, unconscious, presumed racist jokes. Be that as it may, I am here to say that he is a good man, a caring man, and a better friend anyone would be hard pressed to find. He’s been active in Southern fandom for more years than I can say. His electronic fanzine, The Revenge of Humpday, was nominated for a Hugo.
Timmy has been fighting health issues for years. He started having heart trouble back in the nineties. I remember when his first heart surgery had to be postponed, because his cardiologist had a heart attack that morning and had to have heart surgery himself that day. Some guys just can’t get a break! He has been battling congestive heart failure for some time now, with ever increasing medication. He was hospitalized last Friday, and today the family has advised us that he has been placed in Hospice care. They are asking prayers for a peaceful passing. We were so hoping that he would make it to one last LibertyCon.
(6) LEWIS OBIT. The Reverend Allen L. Lewis, 77, of
Sioux Falls, SD passed away on Monday, April 29 at the age of 77. The family
obituary is here.
…Over the course of several decades Father Al amassed one of the largest private collections of Science Fiction and Fantasy hard bound first edition books in the world. The bulk of his collection was donated to the University of Iowa in 2015.
After 20 years of collecting, he is donating his one-of-a-kind collection of 17,500 books worth an estimated three quarters of a million dollars.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
by Cat Eldridge.]
Born May 11, 1899 — E. B. White. He’s a co-author with William Strunk Jr.of The Elements of Style. In addition, he wrote Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web. (Died 1985.)
Born May 11, 1916 — Maurice Nahum. ISFDB credits him with being Editior in the Fifties of the Futuristic Science Stories, Out of This World Magazine, Supernatural Stories and several other publications. Langford at the usual source says of them that ‘All were juvenile, undated and of poor quality.’ (Died 1994.)
Born May 11, 1920 — Denver Pyle. His first genre performance is in The Flying Saucer way back in 1950 where he was a character named Turner. Escape to Witch Mountain as Uncle Bené is his best known genre role. He’s also showed up on the Fifties Adventures of Superman, Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe, Men Into Space, Twilight Zone and his final role was apparently in How Bugs Bunny Won the West as the Narrator. (Died 1997.)
Born May 11, 1918 — Richard Feynman. Ok, not genre as such but certainly genre adjacent. I wholeheartedly recommend Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick for an entertaining look at his life. (Died 1988.)
Born May 11, 1936 — Gordon Benson Jr. Publisher and bibliographer who released the first of his many SF bibliographies around the early Eighties. Writers such as Anderson, Lieber and Wellman were covered. Early bibliographies written solo were revised for the Galactic Central Bibliographies for the Avid Reader series, are listed jointly with Phil Stephensen-Payne as later ones. (Died 1996.)
Born May 11, 1952 — Frances Fisher, 67. Angie on Strange Luck and a recurring role as Eva Thorne on Eureka. Have I mentioned how I love the latter series? Well I do! She’s also shown up on Medium, X-Files, Outer Limits, Resurrection, The Expanse and has some role in the forthcoming Watchmen series.
Born May 11, 1976 — Alter S. Reiss, 43. He’s a scientific editor and field archaeologist. He lives in Jerusalem, he’s written two novels, Sunset Mantel and Recalled to Service. He’s also written an impressive amount of short fiction in the past ten years, most published in places that I’ve never heard of.
Born May 11, 1997 — Lana Connor, 22. Jubilation “Jubilee” Lee in X-Men: Apocalypse, Koyomi in Alita: Battle Angel which is based on the manga series Gunnm, and she voices Kaoru in the Netfix series Rilakkuma and Kaoru.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
Bizarro depicts state-of-the-art medicine for robots.
(9) YEAR’S BEST. Congratulations
to Jim C. Hines for scoring a first –
(10) FANAC.ORG UPDATE. The
award-winning resource site, Fanac.org, is
continuing to put up classic old fanzines. All the
zines listed, except Innuendo, were
provided by Rob Jackson from Paul Skelton’s collection and scanned at Corflu
2019. Innuendo was provided by Joe Siclari and scanned at Corflu 2019.
Innuendo, 1956-1958. Edited by Terry Carr and Dave Rike (later by Terry
Carr alone). 5 issues with contributors like Terry Carr, Robert Bloch, Carl
Brandon, Harry Warner Jr., Bjo Wells (Trimble?), Bill Rotsler, Ray Nelson, Jack
Speer, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. Outstanding stuff.
Tomorrow, issue 4, Winter 1938. Edited by Douglas Mayer. Published by the
Science Fiction Association.
Umbra, 1955-1956, edited by John Hitchcock. 3 issues with contributors
like Larry Stark, Ron Bennett, and Greg Benford.
Voice of the Imagi-Nation, edited by Forry Ackerman and Morojo. Issues 24, 27 and 33 from
1942-1944. Letters from fandom, with correspondence from folks like Bob
Tucker, Tigrina, Walt Leibscher, Harry Warner, C.S. Youd, Francis Towner Laney,
Jimmy Kepner, Vol Molesworth, Robert Bloch, Milt Rothman and more.
Vulcan, edited by Pete Graham and Terry Carr. Issue (August 1952).
Features, Fan humor, serious constructive stories, and serious constructive
poems. Lots of Terry Carr content.
Also from Corflu, a recording of the Saturday panel,
“The Void Boys Speak!” Thanks Rob Jackson, and thanks Bill!
VOID was a focal point fanzine of the 1950s, and launched the science fiction careers of Jim and Greg Benford. This panel, held at the 2019 Corflu, covers the history of VOID. With original editors Jim and Greg Benford, co-editor Ted White, and with Luis Ortiz (who is publishing a book on the topic) , the panel covers all aspects of VOID. If you are familiar only with the professional careers of Jim and Greg Benford, and Ted White, this video will give you perspective on their fannish careers. The video ends with a rousing rendition of the Void Boys song! Note that the video was streamed live, and there are slides in use showing the VOID covers that are not visible in the video. If you are interested in seeing the covers, or reading Void, check out http://fanac.org/fanzines/VOID.
Toddlers pass this test easily. They know that when we point at something, we’re telling them to look at it—an insight into the intentions of others that will become essential as children learn to interact with people around them. Most other animals, including our closest living relative, chimpanzees, fail the experiment. But about 20 years ago, researchers discovered something surprising: Dogs pass the test with flying colors. The finding shook the scientific community and led to an explosion of studies into the canine mind.
Cats like Carl were supposed to be a contrast. Like dogs, cats have lived with us in close quarters for thousands of years. But unlike our canine pals, cats descend from antisocial ancestors, and humans have spent far less time aggressively molding them into companions. So researchers thought cats couldn’t possibly share our brain waves the way dogs do.
Yet, as cats are apt to do, Carl defies the best-laid plans of Homo sapiens. He trots right over to the bowl Vitale is pointing at, passing the test as easily as his canine rivals. “Good boy!” Vitale coos.
Amazon entrepreneur Jeff Bezos has unveiled a mock-up of a new lunar lander spacecraft that aims to take equipment and humans to the Moon by 2024.
The reusable Blue Moon vehicle will carry scientific instruments, satellites and rovers.
It will feature a new rocket engine called BE-7 that can blast 10,000lb (4,535kg) of thrust.
“It’s time to go back to the Moon, this time to stay,” said Mr Bezos.
Mr Bezos presented the Moon goals of his space exploration company Blue Origin at the Washington Convention Center in Washington DC, to an audience consisting of potential customers and officials from Nasa.
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. After
School on Vimeo is a
cartoon by Hanna Kim about the adventures of a girl coming home from school.
[Thanks to Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Martin Morse Wooster, Microtherion, Carl Slaughter, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jack Lint.]
Corflu 36 FIAWOL (Rockville, Maryland, May 1-4, 2019)
“They toiled over their crude mimeographs, turning out their magazines. These magazines have long since crumbled into dust, but who amongst us can ever forget the names? Grue and Hyphen; Amazing and Astounding;Galaxy and Quandry and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Startling, Confidential, Infinity,Dimensions—these names will never die!”
Robert Bloch, “A Way of Life” (1956)
By Martin Morse Wooster: One of the advantages of living in Washington is that eventually all the branches of fandom you’re interested in will come to you. I’ve been to three previous Corflus—two held in the Washington suburbs in 1986 and 1994, and the one held in Annapolis, Maryland in 2002. I always am happy to go to conventions I can get to on the bus, so when I heard Corflu was coming to the Maryland suburbs, I signed up. I had a good time.
Michael Dobson, with Curt Phillips as second-in-command, organized Corflu 36. Phillips, among other things, ran a very well stocked con suite, including three kinds of orange marmalade for breakfast.
Members got quite a lot of stuff. Dobson edited a 163-page fanthology of members’ writings, which is also available on Efanzines. Some mossbacks grumbled that Dobson used CreateSpace as his publisher, but I thought the book was well done. Also included in the members’ packet was Thy Life’s A Miracle: Selected Writings of Randy Byers, a 135-page anthology edited by Luke McGuff.
But that wasn’t all! We also got a framed print by Dan Steffan, in a limited edition of 90, which showed a nude Japanese woman with creatures on her back that resembled those of British artist Arthur Thomson. It was a very handsome piece of art, and I will put it on my shelf next to the Star Wars thingie I got at Nationals Park.
The attendance was around 55, with half a dozen fans from the United Kingdom, Murray and Mary-Ellen Moore from Canada, and 10-12 fans from the West Coast. You could spot the Californians because they were most of the attendees at the wine tasting organized by Spike.
Younger fans allergic to grey hair would not have enjoyed themselves. Four of the fans attending—Greg Benford, Jim Benford, Steve Stiles, and Ted White—began their fan activity before 1960. Most attendees began to be fans in the 1970s and 1980s. No one surveyed became a fan after 1990.
I spent much of the time in the con suite listening to stories about 20th century fan legends. I heard about the Scottish fan who, after losing a feud with everyone else in his club, dropped out only to appear in the pages of a tabloid completely nude except for a hand coyly placed over his manhood. The headline of the piece about the fan was ‘IT’S ORGYTASTIC.”
“Do you mean this guy discovered orgy fandom?” I asked.
“No, it was more like orgy con-dom,” said my source, who added that the fan liked showing up at the orgies he organized in a gorilla suit, because women liked sitting on his lap and stroking his fur.
But the story too good to check was whether two Arab sheiks offered to buy Baltimore fan Lee Smoire at Discon II in 1974 for two camels. This claim would be absurd and ridiculous about any other fan than Lee Smoire, who stories cluster around like gaudy barnacles. I cite it to add to Lee Smoire’s legend.
The first day of Corflu had the opening ceremony, where a sacred box is unearthed that included a crusty bottle of correction fluid or “corflu.” The convention chooses a guest of honor by pulling a name from the box, but you can opt out of the honor with a $20 donation. The winner was Jim Benford, who got all the donation money, which he reportedly spent at the fanzine auction on Saturday. His other prize was a pillow, designed by Alison Scott, which says “Dave Kyle Says You Can’t Sit Here” and has the badge of the Science Fiction League of the 1930s.
Saturday’s program included three panels and I went to two. A panel on archives featured Non-Stop Press publisher Luis Ortiz, who has just published an anthology of fanzine writings from 1930-1960, Michael Dobson, University of Maryland (Baltimore County) archivist Susan Graham, and Joe Siclari, head of fanac.org.
Susan Graham said that her library bought the fanzine collection of Walter Coslet in 1973 and subsequently acquired the fanzines of Peggy Rae Sapienza, who was graduated from the school. These fanzines included many of Sapienza’s first husband, Bob Pavlat, a famed collector. They’ve also gotten some Frank Kelly Freas art and some papers, including manuscripts by Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, and Lawrence Watt-Evans. They’re still organizing their zines, but their website https://lib.guides.umbc.edu/fanzines has a finding aid and essays on feminist fanzines of the 1970s, fanzines’ role in society, and the Atlanta Science-Fiction Organization fanzine Cosmag.
Fanac.org scanned 2,000 pages of fanzines at Corflu. Siclari said that he had gotten research requests from unexpected places. They helped out the recent documentary on Ursula K. Le Guin, for example. And when the family of fan H.F. Koenig asked for copies of Koenig’s fanzines, they donated a copy of the family genealogy to Fanac.org.
There are also reports of what happened to Harry Warner, Jr.’s fanzine collection. It is apparently in one piece and is being stored at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. No one knows what Heritage plans to do with Warner’s collection.
The second panel was on Void, which included the zine’s editors, Greg Benford, Jim Benford, and Ted White, and Luis Ortiz, who is working on an anthology of pieces from the zine. Void began in 1955, with teenage fans Greg and Jim Benford as editors. When the Benford brothers moved from Germany to Dallas, Tom Reamy became an editor.
The Benfords put out 13 issues of Void between 1955-58. But Jim Benford decided to give up fanac for college. Another catalyst for change was when Kent Moomaw, a columnist for the zine, killed himself on his 18th birthday rather than be drafted. In 1958 America was at peace, so there was about a 20 percent chance he would be drafted.
Void then moved its headquarters to New York City, and continued with editors including Greg Benford, Ted White, Pete Graham, and Terry Carr. It lasted another 14 issues through 1962 with a final issue published in 1967.
Both Greg Benford and Ted White said that writing for Void inspired their professional careers. Greg Benford said that his fan writing prepared him to win a contest sponsored by Fantasy and Science Fiction that launched his career as a novelist.
“All of our fanac was fun because of the challenges we met,” White said. “I thought Terry (Carr) was a better writer than me, and it was a daily challenge to write to his level.”
Void even had a song, with the music being whatever you’d like. Here is the first verse.
“We are the Void boys We make a lot of noise! We sing songs of fandom Hitting out at random Because we are all co-editors of Void.”
Saturday night had two panels. “Just a Minac,” organized by Sandra Bond, was the fannish version of the British game show “Just a Minute.” The idea is that the contestants—John D. Berry, Rich Coad, Rob Jackson, and Nigel Rowe—would give one-minute speeches, delivered “without hesitation, repetition, or deviation”—on topics such as “The Nine Billion Names of God” or “My Favorite Beer.” This was not as easy as its sounds, and I thought it was agreeably silly. Nigel Rowe seemed the most creative contestant to me, but Rich Coad was the winner.
“The Time Chunnel” was a play by Andy Hooper that described two worlds, one where sf dominated and one where fandom ruled. In the fannish world, mimeos were much better but leaf blowers didn’t work. It had plenty of in jokes about fanzines, but also weird popular culture references; if you are excited by references to comedian Durward Kirby, best known as a host of Candid Camera in the early 1960s, “The Time Chunnel” is a play for you. I didn’t think it worked.
Since the FAAN Awards have already been covered, I’ll skip them, but I should write about Jim Benford’s guest of honor speech, which was very good.
If Greg Benford’s day job was as a physicist at the University of California (Irvine), his brother worked in technology. He said that fanzine writing prepared him to write proposals. “I had the best proposals,” Benford said, saying that fan writing ensured his proposals were better organized than other physicists with less writing experience.
Jim Benford has spent most of his career developing particle beams and other energy weapons. But three years ago he was given a ten-year contract by billionaire Yuri Milner to design starships. He now works on solar sails that could guide a future mission to Proxima Centauri.
The problem with solar sails, Jim Benford said, was “The Fearless Fosdick problem.” Li’l Abner fans will recall that Fearless Fosdick valiantly fought the bad guys until they blasted him full of holes. How do you create a solar sail that wouldn’t tear apart? Benford showed how a spherical shape would produce the best outcome.
He said that if someone in 1959 told him that 60 years in the future “I’d be talking to a bunch of fans about starships, I’d be a very happy man.”
Next year’s Corflu will be run by John Purcell in College Station, Texas, in a date to be determined.
The best story I know about Lee Smoire is that, after John Lennon was
assassinated in 1980, Yoko Ono asked for a moment of silence to honor him. Smoire was escorting people around the
Baltimore Convention Center and when the designated minute occurred spent the
time shouting, “DON’T YOU KNOW YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE QUIET?”
After Smoire left Baltimore for Perth, Australia, packed panels at the next two Disclaves told stories about her.