Never Mind The News – File 770’s Best Feature Articles of 2022

People writing about the issues they care about is what keeps this community going. It’s a gift and privilege for me to be continually allowed to publish so many entertaining posts rich in creativity, humor, and shared adventures. Thanks to all of you who contributed to File 770 in 2022!

FEATURES

Melanie Stormm — Emails From Lake Woe-Is-Me: Links To Every Installment

Stormm continued her humorous series about the misdirected emails she gets from Writer X throughout 2022, braiding together comedy, horror, and the pitfalls of being a writer.

Jeffrey Smith — A Bibliography of Jules Verne Translations

…Thinking about Jules Verne, with the new TV version of Around the World in Eighty Days about to start, I just bought the Wesleyan edition of Five Weeks in a Balloon, translated by Frederick Paul Walter – after researching what the good modern translations of Verne are. Verne has been abysmally translated into English over the years, but there’s been a push to correct that….

Joel Zakem Religious Aspects of DisCon III’s Opening Ceremonies

…  It was on FaceBook where I first saw friends’ posting about Opening Ceremonies. According to what was posted, some of the musical selections performed by students from the Duke Ellington School spotlighted the religious aspects of the Christmas holiday.

My immediate reaction was that this was not an appropriate part of Opening Ceremonies, especially since, as far as I know, the religious aspect of the performance was not contained in the descriptions in any convention publication. The online description of Opening Ceremonies says, in its entirety: “Welcome to the convention. We will present the First Fandom and Big Heart awards, as well as remarks from the Chair.” The December 9, 2021, news release about the choir’s participation did not mention that there would be a religious component to the performance….

Walt Boyes Grantville Gazette Publishes 100th Issue

Whew! We made it. We made it to Issue 100 of the Grantville Gazette. This is an incredible feat by a large group of stakeholders. Thank you, everyone.

I don’t think Eric Flint had any idea what he’d created when he sent Jim Baen the manuscript for 1632. In the intervening two-plus decades, the book he intended to be a one-shot novel has grown like the marshmallow man in Ghostbusters to encompass books from two publishing houses, a magazine (this one, that you are holding in your metaphorical hands) and allowed over 165 new authors to see their first published story in print. The Ring of Fire Universe, or the 1632 Universe, has more than twelve million words published….

Anonymous Note from a Fan in Moscow

This message was written by a fan in Moscow 48 hours ago. It is unsigned but was relayed by a trustworthy source who confirms the writer is happy for it to be published by File 770. It’s a fan’s perspective, a voice we may not hear much….

Borys Sydiuk SFWA Rejects Call to Join Boycott of Russia: A Guest Post by Borys Sydiuk

Right now, when I’m sitting at my desktop and writing this text, a cannonade nearby doesn’t stop. The previous night was scary in Kyiv. Evidently, Russians are going to start demolishing Ukrainian capital like they are doing with Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernihiv, Mariupol.

The Ukrainian SFF Community joined the efforts to isolate Russia, the nazi-country of the 21st century, to force them to stop the war. The boycott by American authors we asked for is also doing the job. Many leading writers and artists of the great United States already joined the campaign.

We appealed to SFWA to also join the campaign, and here is what they replied…

(Two days later the organization issued a SFWA Stands With Ukraine statement.)

Daniel Dern Reading Daily Comic Strips Online

Fortunately, comic-carrying newspapers are, of course, all (also or only) online these days, but even then, some require subscriptions (fair enough), and to get all the ones you want. For example, online, the Washington Post, has about 90, while the Boston Globe is just shy of a paltry one-score-and-ten. And (at least in Firefox), they don’t seem to be visible in all-on-one-page mode, much less customize-a-page-of.

So, for several years now, I’ve been going to the source — two  “syndicates” that sell/redistribute many popular strips to newspapers….

Michaele Jordan Squid Game and Beyond

There’s been a lot of excitement about Squid Game. Everybody’s talking about how clever, original, and utterly skiffy it is. I watched it, too, eagerly and faithfully. But I wasn’t as surprised by it as some. I expected it to be good. I’ve been watching Korean video for ten years, and have only grown more addicted every year.  And yet I just can’t convince many people to watch it with me….

Rich Lynch A Day at the Museum

Let me tell you about my favorite building in Washington, D.C.  It’s the staid old Arts and Industries Building, the second-oldest of all the Smithsonian Institution buildings, which dates back to the very early 1880s and owes its existence to the Smithsonian’s then urgent need for a place where parts of its collection could go on public display….

Mike Glyer What the Heinleins Told the 1950 Census

When we last left the Heinleins (“What the Heinleins Told the 1940 Census”), a woman answering the door at 8777 Lookout Mountain – Leslyn Heinlein, presumably — had just finished telling the 1940 census taker a breathtaking raft of misinformation. Including that her name was Sigred, her husband’s was Richard, that the couple had been born in Germany, and they had a young son named Rolf.

Ten years have passed since then, and the archives of the 1950 U.S. Census were opened to the public on April 1. There’s a new Mrs. Heinlein – Virginia. The 8777 Lookout Mountain house in L.A. has been sold. They’re living in Colorado Springs. What did the Heinleins tell the census taker this time?…

John A Arkansawyer Laser Cats

“In the future, there was a nuclear war. And because of all the radiation, cats developed the ability to shoot lasers out of their mouths.”

On this dubious premise, Laser Cats was founded. By its seventh and final episode, the great action stars and directors of the day had contributed their considerable talents to this highly entertaining, yet frankly ridiculous enterprise. From James Cameron to Lindsey Lohan, Josh Brolin to Steve Martin, Laser Cats attracted the best in the business.

Being part of Saturday Night Live undoubtedly helped….

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Announcing the Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction

The Emeka Walter Dinjos Memorial Award For Disability In Speculative Fiction aims to award disability in speculative fiction in two ways. One, by awarding a writer of speculative fiction for their representation or portrayal of disability in a world of speculative fiction, whatever their health status; and two, by awarding a disabled writer for a work of speculative fiction in general, whatever the focus of the work may be….

Bill Higgins Two Vain Guys Named Robert

Robert Osband, Florida fan, really loves space. All his life he has been learning about spaceflight. And reading stories about spaceflight, in science fiction.

So after NASA’s Apollo program was over, the company that made Apollo space suits held a garage sale, and Ozzie showed up. He bought a “training liner” from ILC Dover, a coverall-like portion of a pressure suit, with rings at the wrists and neck to attach gloves and helmet.

And another time, in 1976, when one of his favorite authors, Robert A. Heinlein, was going to be Guest of Honor at a World Science Fiction Convention, Mr. Osband journeyed to Kansas City.

In his suitcase was his copy of Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel—a novel about a teenager who wins a secondhand space suit in a contest—and his ILC Dover suit.

Because if you wanted to get your copy of Have Space Suit, Will Travel autographed, and you happened to own a secondhand space suit, it would be a shame NOT to wear it, right?…

Rich Lynch Remembering Bruce Pelz

… I’m sure that our first face-to-face meeting was in 1979, when my job in industry took me from Chattanooga all the way out to Los Angeles for some much-needed training in electrochemistry.  I didn’t really know anybody in L.A. fandom back then but I did know the address of the LASFS clubhouse, so on my next-to-last evening in town I dropped in on a meeting.  And it was there that I found Bruce mostly surrounded by other fans while they all expounded on fandom as it existed back then and what it might be like a few years down the road.  It was like a jazz jam session, but all words and no music.  I settled back into the periphery, enjoying all the back-and-forth, and when there eventually came a lull in the conversations I took the opportunity to introduce myself.  And then Bruce said something to me that I found very surprising: “Dick Lynch!  I’ve heard of you!”…

Rich Lynch It’s About Time

It was back in 2014 that a student filmmaker at Stephen F. Austin State University, Ricky Kennedy, created an extraordinary short movie titled The History of Time Travel.  Exploration of “what ifs” is central to good storytelling in the science fiction genre and this little production is one of the better examples of how to do it the right way.

Dale Skran Reforming the Short Form Hugo: A Guest Post by Dale Skran

 For a long time, I’ve felt the Short Form Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation was not properly organized to give an award to the best “Television” SF of the previous year….  

Paul Weimer Review: Neom by Lavie Tidhar

Lavie Tidhar’s Neom is a stunning return to his world of Central Station, twinning the fates of humans and robots alike at a futuristic city on the edge of the Red Sea…. 

Mike Glyer Iron Truth Review

… It is through Joy and Cassimer’s eyes we experience S.A. Tholin’s Iron Truth, a finalist of the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition. If there was ever a case of the cream rising to the top this book is one….

Lis Carey Review of Rocket to the Morgue

… A couple of odd things, though. He had $300 on him, that wasn’t stolen, and an unusual rosary, with what seems to be the wrong number of beads. It’s a puzzle….

Mike Glyer Review: In the Orbit of Sirens

In T. A. Bruno’s In the Orbit of Sirens, a Self-Published Science Fiction Competition finalist, the remnants of the human race have fled the solar system ahead of an alien culture that is assimilating everyone in reach. Loaded aboard a vast colony ship they’re headed for a distant refuge, prepared to pioneer a new world, but unprepared to meet new threats there to human survival that are as great as the ones they left behind.

Mike Glyer Review: Monster of the Dark

On the morning of Carmen Grey’s sixth birthday an armed team arrives to take her from her parents and remove her to the underground facility where Clairvoyants — like her — are held captive and trained for years to access their abilities. So begins Monster of the Dark by K. T. Belt, a finalist in the Self-Published Science Fiction Competition….

Jonathan Cowie Jurassic World Dominion Ultra-Mini-Review

Jurassic World Dominion is another breathless, relentless Hollywood offering: the action and/or special effects never let up…. 

Mike Glyer Review: Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire

G.M. Nair begins Duckett and Dyer: Dicks for Hire by making a surprising choice. His introductory scene explicitly reveals to readers the true nature of the mysterious events that the protagonists themselves uncover only very slowly throughout the first half of the book. The introduction might even be the penultimate scene in the book — which would make sense in a story that is partly about time travel loops. Good idea or bad idea?…

Rogers Cadenhead Review: Captain Wu: Starship Nameless #1

… What sounds like Firefly also describes the SPSFC finalist novel Captain Wu: Starship Nameless #1, a space opera by authors Patrice Fitzgerald and Jack Lyster. I love Firefly so it wasn’t a big leap to climb aboard this vessel….

Olav Rokne Hugo Voting Threshold Reform Proposal

…. It would be exceptionally embarrassing for a Worldcon to have to explain why a finalist would have won the Hugo except for — oops! — this bit of outdated fine print. The best course of action is to eliminate that fine print before such a circumstance arises….

Mike Glyer Review: A Star Named Vega

The social media of the 30th century doesn’t seem so different: teenagers anonymously perform acts of civil disobedience and vandalism to score points and raise their ranking in an internet app. That’s where Aster Vale leads a secret life as the Wildflower, a street artist and tagger, in A Star Named Vega by Benjamin J. Roberts, a Self-Published Science Fiction competition finalist…..

Paul Weimer Review: Babel

R F Kuang’s Babel is an audacious and unrelenting look at colonialism, seen through the lens of an alternate 19th century Britain where translation is the key to magic. Kuang’s novel is as sharp and perceptive as it is well written, deep, and bears reflection upon, after reading, for today’s world….

Paul Weimer Inside the New Uncle Hugo’s: Photos by Paul Weimer 

Paul Weimer went to donate some books at Don Blyly’s new location for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores. While he was inside Paul shot these photographs of the bookshelves being stocked and other work in progress.

Michaele Jordan Jordan: Comments on the 2022 Best Novel Hugo Finalists: Part 1 and Jordan: Hugo Finalists for Best Novel, Part 2

Rob Thornton A World of Afrofuturism: Meet Nicole Michell’s “Xenogenesis Suite” (Part I) and A World of Afrofuturism: Creating Nicole Michell’s “Xenogenesis Suite” (Part II)

… Another contributor to the Afrofuturist tradition is Nicole Mitchell, a noted avant-jazz composer and flutist. She chose to take on Octavia Butler’s most challenging works, the Xenogenesis Trilogy, and create the Xenogenesis Suite, a collection of dark and disturbing compositions that reflect the trilogy’s turbulent and complicated spirit….

J. Franklin March Hidden Talents: A Story

Anna carefully arranged the necessary objects around her desktop computer into a pentagon: sharpened pencils, a legal pad, a half-empty coffee cup, and a copy of Science Without Sorcery, with the chair at the fifth point. This done, she intoned the spell that would open the channel to her muse for long enough to write the final pages of her work-in-progress. Then she could get ready for the convention….

Nicholas Whyte Whyte: Comments on the 2022 Hugo Awards Study Committee Report

… In the last five years, the [Hugo Awards Study Committee] [HASC] has changed precisely two words of the Constitution. (Since you asked: adding the words “or Comic” to the title of the “Best Graphic Story” category.) The HASC’s defenders will complain that we had two years of pandemic, and that the committee switched to Discord rather than email only this year, and that there are lots of proposals this year. But the fact remains that so far the practical impact has been slower than I imagined when I first proposed the Committee…..

Michaele Jordan Jordan: 2022 Hugo Finalists for Best Novella

In Michaele Jordan’s overview, she comments on the novellas by Aliette de Bodard, Becky Chambers, Alix E. Harrow, Seanan McGuire, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Catherynne M. Valente that are up for the 2022 Hugo.

John Hertz Tim Powers Makes Stolen Skies Sweet

… Once we had a lot of science fiction, little fantasy; lately we’ve had a lot of fantasy; so Powers’ writing fantasy does not seem particularly defiant.

His fantasy has generally been — to use a word which may provoke defiance — rigorous. Supernatural phenomena occur, may be predicted, aroused, avoided, as meticulously — a word whose root means fear — as we in our world start an automobile engine or put up an umbrella. Some say this has made his writing distinctive….

Mike Glyer Will E Pluribus Hugo Survive Re-Ratification?

The day of reckoning is here for E Pluribus Hugo.  The change in the way Hugo Awards nominations are counted was passed in 2015 and ratified in 2016 to counter how Sad and Rabid Puppies’ slates dictated most of finalists on the Hugo ballots in those years. It came with a 2022 sunset clause attached, and E Pluribus Hugo must be re-ratified this year in order to remain part of the WSFS Constitution….

Michaele Jordan They’re Back!

Who’s back?” you ask. Spear and Fang, of course! But perhaps you have not heard of Genddy Tartakovsky’s Primal?…

Rich Lynch The Fan Who Had a Disease Named After Him

… His name is Joel Nydahl, and back about the time of that Chicon he was a 14-year-old neofan who lived with his parents on a farm near Marquette, Michigan.  He was an avid science fiction reader and at some point in 1952 decided to publish a fanzine.  It was a good one….

Melanie Stormm Supercharge Your SFF Career With These Ten Tips from Writer X

[Infographic at the link]

Borys Sydiuk Guest Post: Ukrainian Fandom At Chicon 8 [PIC Borys-Sydiuk-584×777]

Friends, on behalf of the Ukrainian Fandom I would like to thank everyone who supports us at this time…

Lis Carey Review: What Abigail Did That Summer (Rivers of London #5.83), by Ben Aaronovitch

… Abigail Kamara, younger cousin of police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, has been left largely unsupervised while he’s off in the sticks on a case. This leaves Abigail making her own decisions when she notices that kids roughly her age are disappearing–but not staying missing long enough for the police to care….

Michaele Jordan Review: Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Friends, let me tell you about one of my favorite TV shows. But I must admit to you up front that it’s not SF/F. Extraordinary Attorney Woo is, as I assume you’ve deduced from the title, a lawyer show. But it’s a KOREAN lawyer show, which should indicate that is NOT run of the mill…. 

Lis Carey Review: Romance of the Grail: The Magic and Mystery of Arthurian Myth by Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell was a professor of literature at Sarah Lawrence College, and wrote extensively about comparative mythology. His “hero’s journey” theory has been extremely influential….

Lee Weinstein Gene Autry and The Phantom Empire

The Phantom Empire, a twelve-chapter Mascot serial, was originally released in February, 1935. A strange concoction for a serial, it is at once science fiction film, a Western, and strangely enough, a musical. It was the first real science fiction sound serial and its popularity soon inspired other serials about fantastic worlds….

Kevin Standlee Guest Post: Standlee on the Future of Worldcon Governance

… I find myself explaining the changes to membership in the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) and the conditions for attending the World Science Fiction Convention that were ratified this year in Chicago (and thus are now in effect, because this was the second vote on the changes)…

Tammy Coxen How the Chicago Worldcon Community Fund Helped People Attend Chicon 8

Chicon 8’s Chicago Worldcon Community Fund (CWCF) program offered both memberships and financial stipends. It was established with the goal of helping defray the expenses of attending Chicon 8 for the following groups of people:

    • Non-white fans or program participants
      • LGBTQIA+ fans or program participants
      • Local Chicago area fans of limited means…

Lis Carey The Furthest Station (Rivers of London #5.5), by Ben Aaronovitch

The London Underground has ghosts. Well, the London Underground always has ghosts, but usually they’re gentle, sad creatures. Lately there’s been an outbreak of more aggressive ghosts….

Sultana Raza Utopias

As environmental problems caused by industrialisation and post-industrialisation continue to increase, the public is looking for ecological solutions. As pandemics, economic crises, and wars plague our society in different ways, thoughts turn to the good old times. But were they really all that good? People are escaping increasingly into fantastical stories in order to find a quantum of solace. But at what point was there a utopia in our society. If so, at what or whose cost did it exist? Whether or not we ever experience living in a utopia, the idea of finally finding one drives us to continue seeking ideal living conditions….

Rich Lynch Three Weeks in October

… Capclave appeared to be equally star-crossed in its next iteration. It was held over the weekend of October 18-20, 2002, and once again the attendees were brought closer together by an event taking place in the outside world. The word had spread quickly through all the Saturday night room parties: “There’s been another shooting.” Another victim of the D.C. Sniper….

Michaele Jordan My Journey to She-Hulk, Attorney at Law

… Why such mixed feelings? On the one hand, I am a huge admirer of Tatiana Maslany. On the other hand, I truly loathe The Hulk….

Daniel Dern — Stephen King’s Fairy Tale: Worth The Read. Another Dern Not-Quite-A-Review

… In Fairy Tale, his newest novel, Stephen King delivers a, cough, grimm contemporary story, explicitly incorporating horror in the, cough, spirit of Lovecraft (King also explicitly namedrops, in the text, August Derleth, and Henry Kuttner), in which high-schooler Charlie Reade becomes involved in things — and challenges — that, as the book and plot progress, stray beyond the mundane….

Lee Weinstein Review: Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles

The idea of an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories about the Beatles seems like a natural. I’ve been told the two editors, each unbeknownst to the other, both presented the idea to the publisher around the same time…

Jonathan Cowie SF Museum Exhibition  

The Science Museum (that’s the world famous one in Kensington, London) has just launched a new exhibit on what Carl Sagan once mused (though not mentioned in the exhibit itself) science fiction and science’s ‘dance’. SF2 Concatenation reprographic supremo Tony Bailey and I were invited by the Museum to have a look on the exhibition’s first day. (The exhibition runs to Star Wars day 2023, May the Fourth.) Having braved Dalek extermination at the Museum’s entrance, we made our way to the exhibition’s foyer – decorated with adverts to travel to Gallifrey – to board our shuttle….

Mark Roth-Whitworth KSR and F. Scott Fitzgerald

I was at the 2022 F. Scott Fitzgerald Literary Festival in Rockville, MD today. If you’re wondering why the festival is there, that’s where Fitzgerald and his wife are buried. Now, I’d never read any of Fitzgerald`s writing, so I spent the evening before reading the first three chapters of The Great Gatsby (copyright having expired last year, it’s online). So far, I’ve yet to find anyone in it that I want to spend any time with, including the narrator.

However, the reason I attended was to see Kim Stanley Robinson, who was the special guest at the Festival. The end of the morning’s big event was a conversation between Stan and Richard Powers. Then there was lunch, and a keynote speaker, then Stan introducing Powers to receive an award from the society that throws the annual Festival….

Jonathan Cowie How Long Does It Take an SF Award to Reach Its Recipients?

A recent possible record could be the SF2 Concatenation’s website 2012 Eurocon Award voted on by those at the European SF Society’s convention which, that year, was held in Croatia….

Lis Carey A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny: An Audiobook Review

 Snuff is our narrator, here, and he’s a smart, interesting, likable dog. He’s the friend and partner of a man called Jack, and they are preparing for a major event….

A.K. Mulford The Hobbit: A Guest Post by A.K. Mulford

…As a child, I kept a notebook filled with my favorite quotes. (How did I not know I was going to be an author?) The first quote? “Not all who wander are lost.” There was everything from 90s rom com lines to Wordsworth poems in that notebook, but Tolkien filled the most pages….

Lis Carey Review: The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch

This entry in Rivers of London is, for variety, set in Germany, and involves a German river. Or two. And river goddesses….

Lis Carey Review: Ringworld Audiobook

Louis Wu is 200 years old, and he’s bored. It’s his 200th birthday, and he’s using transfer booths to extend the celebration of it for a full twenty-four hours, and he’s really bored….

Michaele Jordan Korean Frights

How can Halloween be over already? We barely had time to watch thirty horror movies –and those mostly classics, which are less than half our (horror) collection!

Paul Weimer Review: The Spare Man

There is a fundamental implausibility to easy manned interstellar (or even interplanetary) space travel that nonetheless remains a seductive idea even in our wiser and more cynical and weary 21st century. …

Lis Carey Review: Alif the Unseen

Alif is a young man, a “gray hat” hacker, selling his skills to provide cybersecurity to anyone who needs that protection from the government. He lives in an unnamed city-state in the Middle East, referred to throughout simply as the City. He’s nonideological; he’ll sell his services to Islamists, communists, anyone….

Ahrvid Engholm Bertil Falk: From “A Space Hobo” to “Finnegans Wake”

Journalist, author, genre historian (and fan, certainly, from the 1940s and on!) Bertil Falk is acclaimed for performing the “impossible” task of translating Finnegans Wake to Swedish, the modernist classic by James Joyce, under the title Finnegans likvaka….

Lis Carey Review: Isle of the Dead / Eye of Cat, by Roger Zelazny

The protagonist of the first short novel in this omnibus — which is in fact Eye of Cat — is William Blackhorse Singer, a Navajo born in the 20th century, and still alive, and fit and healthy, almost two centuries later…. 

Lis Carey Review: Whispers Under Ground (Rivers of London #3)

One fine Monday morning, Peter Grant is summoned to Baker Street Station on the London Underground, to assess whether there was anything “odd,” i.e., involving magic, about the death of a young man on the tracks…. 

Michaele Jordan Again, with the Animé?

…If you’re not a fan, then there’s a real chance you have no idea how much range animé encompasses. And I’m not even talking about the entire range of kid shows, sit-coms and drama. (I’m aware there may be limits to your tolerance. I’m talking about the range within SF/F. Let’s consider just three examples….

Daniel Dern What’s Not Up, Doc (Savage)?

While I subscribe to the practice that, as a rule, reviews and review-like write-ups, if not intended as a piece of critical/criticism, should stick to books the reviewer feels are worth the readers reading, sometimes (I) want to, like Jerry Pournelle’s “We makes these mistakes and do this stuff so you dont have to” techno-wrangling Chaos Manor columns, give a maybe-not-your-cup-of-paint-remover head’s-up. This is one of those….

Rich Lynch Remembering Roger Weddall

It’s been 30 years since the passing of my friend Roger Weddall.  I doubt very many of you reading this had ever met him and I wouldn’t be surprised, actually, if most of you haven’t even heard of him.  Thirty years is a long time and the demographics of fandom has changed a lot.  So let me tell you a little bit about him….

Lis Carey Review: Broken Homes (Rivers of London #4)

Peter Grant and partner Lesley May are at the Folly practicing their magic skills and researching an Oxford dining club called the Little Crocodiles….

Mark Roth-Whitworth Artemis I: A Hugo Contender?

I expect a lot of File 770’s readers watched, as we did, as the Orion capsule returned to Terra. I’m older than some of you, and it’s been decades since I watched a capsule re-entry and landing in the ocean. What had me in tears is that finally, after fifty years, we’re planning to go back… and stay….

Lis Carey Review: The Complete Psychotechnic League, Volume 1

Poul Anderson began writing his own “future history” in the 1950s, with its starting point being that there would be a limited nuclear war at some point in the 1950s. From that point would develop a secret effort to build a new social structure that could permanently prevent war….

Rich Lynch A Genre-Adjacent Essay Appropriate for Today

As the Peanuts cartoon in the newspaper reminds us, today is Ludwig von Beethoven’s birthday…. 

Craig Miller Review: Avatar: The Way of Water

…As with AvatarAvatar: The Way of Water is a visual feast. Unlike the first film, there aren’t long sweeping pans lingering over beautiful, otherworldly vistas. The “beautiful” and the “otherworldly” are still there, but we’re seeing them incorporated into the action and storytelling….

Rich Lynch Remembering Harry

Today we celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of Harry Warner, Jr., who was perhaps the best-known stay-at-home science fiction fan of all time….

Melanie Stormm On Rambo’s Academy For Wayward Writers (Feat. A Trip in Melanie’s Time Machine)

… I took two classes at The Rambo Academy For Wayward Writers this week, and I’d like to do something a little different.

You see, I’ve got things on my mind that I think you might identify with. You may find it helpful. 

I’d like to tell you exactly why you need to jump over to Cat Rambo’s Patreon & website and sign up right away for everything that looks shiny….

Lis Carey Review: Juniper Wiles and the Ghost Girls

…But having learned that she can see and talk to ghosts, and that they all have unresolved problems they want to solve, she can’t always say no when they ask her for help…. 

Lis Carey Review: Red Scholar’s Wake, by Aliette de Bodard

…Xich Si is a tech scavenger, living in Triệu Hoà Port, and scavenging tech to sell and support herself and her daughter, when she’s captured by pirates. ….

CHRIS BARKLEY

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #63

My 2022 Hugo Awards Nomination Ballot for the Best Dramatic Presentation Long and Short Form Categories 

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #65

… When I was growing up, children like myself were taught, no, more like indoctrinated, to think the United States was the BEST place to grow up, that our country was ALWAYS in the right and that our institutions were, for the most part, unassailable and impervious to criticism from anyone, especially foreigners.

I grew up in Ohio in the 1960’s and despite what I was being taught in a parochial Catholic grade school (at great expense, I might add, by my hard-working parents), certain things I was experiencing did not add up. News of the violence and casualties during the Vietnam War was inescapable. I remember watching the evening network news broadcasts and being horrified by the number of people (on all sides of the conflict) being wounded or killed on a daily basis.

As the years went on, it became harder to reconcile all of the violence, terrorism, public assassinations and the racism I was experiencing with the education I was receiving. The Pentagon Papers and the Watergate break-ins coincided with my high school years and the beginnings of my political awakening.

When I look back on those formative days of my life, I see myself as a small child, set out upon a sea of prejudice and whiteness, in a boat of hetero-normaltity, destination unknown….

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #66

Interrogatives Without Answers: Mercedes Lackey and Stephanie Burke     

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #68: Two 2022 Hugo Award Finalists Walk Into a Bookstore…

… After I introduced myself to Mr. Weir and Mr. Bell, I said, “You and I have something in common.”

“Oh really? What’s that?”

“You and I are the only 2022 Hugo Award nominees within a hundred-mile radius of this bookstore.” (I stated that because I know that our fellow nominee, Jason Sanford, lives in Columbus, Ohio, hence the reference to the mileage.)…

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #69

Fandom and the Pendulum: The Astronomicon 13 Fan Guest of Honor Speech

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask #70

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, A (Spoiler Free) Review 

JAMES BACON

Cosmonaut Solidarity

Despite some very harsh comments from Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of Roscosmos, threatening that “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe?” spacefarers seem to have a different perspective and understanding of the importance of international cooperation, respect and solidarity. This appears to have been demonstrated today when three cosmonauts arrived at the International Space Station….  

45 Years of 2000AD

Forty-five years ago or thereabouts, on February  26, 1977, the first ‘prog’ of 2000AD was released by IPC magazines. The second issue dated March 5 a week later saw the debut of Judge Dredd. Since then, Rogue Trooper, Nemesis the Warlock, Halo Jones, Sláine, Judge Anderson, Strontium Dog, Roxy and Skizz, The ABC Warriors, Bad Company and Proteus Vex are just some of the characters and stories that have emanated from the comic that was started by Pat Mills and John Wagner. Some have gone on to be in computer games, especially as the comic was purchased by Rebellion developments in 2000, and Judge Dredd has been brought to the silver screen twice. 

Addictive and enjoyable stories of the fantastic, written and drawn by some of the greatest comic creators of the latter part of the 20th century, they often related to the current, utilizing Science Fiction to obscure issues about violence or subversiveness, but reflecting metaphorically about the now of the time…. 

Fight With Art

“Fight With Art” is an exhibition of Ukrainian Contemporary Art created under exceptional circumstances taking place now in Kraków at the Manggha Museum until April 30. 

We reached out to curator Artur Wabik to learn more of this topical exhibition…

Steve Vertlieb, William Shatner, and Erwin Vertlieb.

STEVE VERTLIEB

The Greatest Motion Picture Scores Of All Time

Traditionally, the start of a new year is a time when film critics begin assembling their lists of the best films, actors, writers, composers, and directors of the past year. What follows, then, while honoring that long-held tradition, is a comprehensive compilation and deeply personal look at the finest film scores of the past nearly one hundred years….

“Don’t Look Up” …Down …Or Around

The frenzy of joyous controversy swirling over director Adam McKay’s new film Don’t Look Up has stirred a healthy, if frenetic debate over the meaning and symbology of this bonkers dramedy. On its surface a cautionary satire about the impending destruction of the planet, Don’t Look Up is a deceptively simplistic tale of moronic leadership refusing to accept a grim, unpleasant reality smacking it in its face. 

Remembering Veronica Carlson (1944-2022)

What follows is truly one of the most personally heartfelt, poignant, and heartbreaking remembrances that I’ve ever felt compelled to write.

Veronica Carlson was a dear, close, cherished friend for over thirty years. I learned just now that this dear sweet soul passed away today. I am shocked and saddened beyond words. May God rest her beautiful soul.

“The Man Who Would Be Kirk” — Celebrating William Shatner’s 91st Birthday

After interviewing William Shatner for the British magazine L’Incroyable Cinema during the torrid Summer of 1969 at “The Playhouse In The Park,” just outside of Philadelphia, while Star Trek was still in the final days of its original network run on NBC, my old friend Allan Asherman, who joined my brother Erwin and I for this once-in-a-lifetime meeting with Captain James Tiberius Kirk, astutely commented that I had now met and befriended all three of our legendary boyhood “Captains,” which included Jim Kirk (William Shatner), Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers (Larry “Buster” Crabbe), and Buzz Corry (Edward Kemmer), Commander of the Space Patrol….

King Kong Opens in Los Angeles on March 24, 1933

Today is the 89th anniversary of the “Hollywood Premiere” of King Kong in Los Angeles on March 24, 1933…

Elmer Bernstein at 100

… The first of the most important music modernists, however, in the post war era and “Silver Age” of film composers was Elmer Bernstein who would, had he lived, be turning one hundred years old on April 4th, 2022.  Although he would subsequently prove himself as able as classic “Golden Age” composers of writing traditional big screen symphonic scores, with his gloriously triumphant music for Cecil B De Mille’s 1956 extravaganza, The Ten Commandments….

R.M.S. Titanic … “A Night To Remember”

… She was just four days into her maiden voyage from Southhampton to New York City when this “Unsinkable” vessel met disaster and finality, sailing into history, unspeakable tragedy, and maritime immortality. May God Rest Her Eternal Soul … the souls of the men, women, and children who sailed and perished during those nightmarish hours, and to all those who go courageously “Down to The Sea in Ships.”  This horrifying remembrance remains among the most profoundly significant of my own seventy-six years….

Seth Macfarlane and “The Orville: New Horizons”

… It is true that Seth MacFarlane, the veteran satirist who both created and stars in the science fiction series, originally envisioned [The Orville] as a semi-comedic tribute to Gene Roddenberry’s venerable Star Trek. However, the show grew more dramatic in its second season on Fox, while it became obvious that MacFarlane wished to grow outside the satirical box and expand his dimensional horizons and ambitions….

A Photographic Memory

…  I was born in the closing weeks of 1945, and grasped at my tentative surroundings with uncertain hands.  It wasn’t until 1950 when I was four years old that my father purchased a strange magical box that would transform and define my life.  The box sat in our living room and waited to come alive.  Three letters seemed to identify its persona and bring definition to its existence.  Its name appeared to be RCA, and its identity was known as television….

I Sing Bradbury Electric: A Loving, Personal Remembrance 

He was a kindly, gentle soul who lived among us for a seeming eternity. But even eternity is finite. He was justifiably numbered among the most influential writers of the twentieth century. Among the limitless vistas of science fiction and fantasy he was, perhaps, second only in literary significance to H.G. Wells who briefly shared the last century with him. Ray Bradbury was, above all else, the poet laureate of speculative fiction….

Celebrating “E.T.” On His 40th Birthday

On June 11, 1982, America and the world received the joyous gift of one of the screen’s most beloved fantasy film classics and, during that memorable Summer, a young aspiring television film critic reviewed a new film from director Steven Spielberg called E.T….

Steve Vertlieb is “Back From The Suture”

…Before I realized it, tables and chairs were being moved and I felt the hands of paramedics lifting me to the floor of the restaurant. Les was attempting to perform CPR on me, and I was drifting off into unconciousness. I awoke to find myself in an ambulance with assorted paramedics pounding my chest, while attempting to verbally communicate with me. I was aware of their presence, but found myself unable to speak….

Rhapsodies “Across The Stars” …Celebrating John Williams

After nearly dying a little more than a decade ago during and just after major open heart surgery, I fulfilled one of the major dreams of my life…meeting the man who would become my last living life long hero. I’d adored him as far back as 1959 when first hearing the dramatic strains of the theme from Checkmate on CBS Television. That feeling solidified a year later in 1960 with the rich, sweet strains of ABC Television’s Alcoa Premiere, hosted by Fred Astaire, followed by Wide Country on NBC….

Reviving “The Music Man” On Broadway

…When Jack Warner was casting the film version of the smash hit, he considered performers such as Cary Grant, James Cagney, or Frank Sinatra for the lead. Meredith Willson, the show’s composer, however, demanded that Robert Preston star in the movie version of his play, or he’d withdraw the contracts and licensing. The film version of The Music Man, produced for Warner Brothers, and starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones, opened to rave reviews on movie screens across the country in 1962. Robert Preston, like Rex Harrison in Lerner and Lowe’s My Fair Lady, had proven that older, seasoned film stars could propel both Broadway and big screen musicals to enormous artistic success….

Remembering Frank Sinatra

On the evening of May 14, 1998, following the airing over NBC Television of the series finale of Seinfeld, the world and I received the terrible news of the passing of the most beloved entertainer of the twentieth century. It has been twenty-four years since he left this mortal realm, but the joy, the music, and the memories are as fresh and as vital today as when they were born….

Dr. Van Helsing And Victor Frankenstein: A Peter Cushing Remembrance

I had the honor and distinct pleasure of both knowing and sharing correspondence with British actor Peter Cushing for several years during the late Sixties and early Seventies….

“12 O’clock High” Legendary Soundtrack Release By Composer Dominic Frontiere

Very exciting news. The long awaited CD soundtrack release of 12 O’Clock High is now available for purchase through La-La Land Records and is a major restoration of precious original tracks from Quinn Martin’s beloved television series….

Remembering Camelot’s Prince

That terrible day in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 remains one of the most significantly traumatic days of my life. I was just seventeen years old. I was nearing the end of my high school classes at Northeast High School in Philadelphia when word started spreading through the hallways and corridors that JFK had been shot. I listened in disbelief, praying that it wasn’t true … but it was….

Vertlieb: I Am A Jew!

I recently watched a somber new three part documentary by film maker Ken Burns that is among the most sobering, heartbreaking, and horrifying indictments of humanity that I have ever encountered. It was extremely difficult to watch but, as an American Jew, I remain struck by the similarities between the rise in Fascism in the early nineteen thirties, leading to the beginnings of Nazism in Germany, and the attempted decimation of the Jewish people in Europe and throughout the world, with the repellant echoes of both racial and religious intolerance, and the mounting hatred and suspicion of the Jewish communities and population residing presently in my own country of birth, these United States….

Remembering Hugo Friedhofer

I’ve read with interest some of the recent discussions concerning the measure of Hugo Friedhofer’s importance as a composer, and it set my memory sailing back to another time in a musical galaxy long ago and far away. I have always considered Maestro Friedhofer among the most important, if underrated, composers of Hollywood’s golden era….

“The Fabelmans” — A Review Of The Film

…Steven Spielberg’s reverent semi-autobiographical story of youthful dreams and aspirations is, for me, the finest, most emotionally enriching film of the year, filled with photographic memories, and indelible recollections shared both by myself and by the film maker….

A Magical Philadelphia Christmas Tradition

These photographs are of an annual Christmas tradition at American Heritage Federal Credit Union located at Red Lion and Jamison Roads in Northeast Philadelphia…. 

Remembering Frank Capra

…This was the man who brought such incalculable joy and hope to so many millions of filmgoers with his quintessential Christmas classic, It’s A Wonderful Life. …

Martin Morse Wooster

MARTIN MORSE WOOSTER

Review of Moonfall

My friend Adam Spector tells me that when Ernest Lehman was asked to write the script for North by Northwest, he tried to turn out the most “Hotchcocky” script he could, with all of Hitchcock’s obsessions in one great motion picture.

Moonfall is the most “Emmerichian” film Roland Emmerich is made.  Like his earlier films, it has flatulent melodrama interlaced with completely daft science.  But everything here is much more intense than his earlier work.  But the only sense of wonder you’ll get from this film is wondering why the script got greenlit….

Review of Becoming Superman

… Having a long career in Hollywood is a lot harder than in other forms of publishing; you’ve got to have the relentless drive to pursue your vision and keep making sales.  To an outsider, what is astonishing about J. Michael Straczynski’s career is that it has had a third act and may well be in the middle of a fourth.  His career could have faded after Babylon 5.  The roars that greeted him at the 1996 Los Angeles Worldcon (where, it seemed, every conversation had to include the words, “Where’s JMS?”) would have faded and he could have scratched out a living signing autographs at media conventions….

Review of “The Book of Dust” Stage Play

When I read in the Financial Times about how Britain’s National Theatre was adapting Sir Philip Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, the first volume of his Book of Dust trilogy, I told myself, “That’s a play for me!  I’ll just fly over to London and see it!  OGH is made of money, and he’ll happily pay my expenses!”

Fortunately, I didn’t have to go to London, because the theatre came to me, with a screening of the National Theatre Live production playing at the American Film Institute.  So, I spent a pleasant Saturday afternoon seeing it….

Review: A Monster Calls at Kennedy Center

… Stories matter more in the theatre than in film because far more of a play is in our imagination than in a film.  Stripped of CGI and rewrites by multiple people, what plays offer at their best is one person’s offering us something where, if it works, we tell ourselves, “Yes, that was a good evening in the theatre,” and if it doesn’t, we gnash our teeth and feel miserable until we get home…

Review of “Under The Sea With Dredgie McGee”

As Anton Ego told us in Ratatouille, the goal of a critic today is to be the first person to offer praise to a rising artist. It’s not the tenth novel that deserves our attention but the first or second. In the theatre, the people who need the most attention are the ones who are being established, not the ones that build on earlier successes.

So I’m happy to report that Matthew Aldwin McGee, author, star, and chief puppeteer of Under the Sea with Dredgie McGee is a talented guy who has a great deal of potential.  You should be watching him….

Review: Maple and Vine

I once read an article about a guy who was determined to live life in 1912.  He lived in a shack in the woods, bought a lot of old clothes, a Victrola, and a slew of old books and magazines.  I don’t remember how he made a living, but the article made clear that he was happy….

TRIGGER SNOWFLAKE

By Ingvar

CATS SLEEP ON SFF

OBITUARIES

[date of publication]

First Fandom Annual 2022

Jon D. Swartz and John L. Coker III have recently published the First Fandom Annual 2022: First Fanthology where some of the members of First Fandom present original essays, fiction, poetry, illustration, plus a special appreciation of Ray Bradbury.

Contents include early convention memories, a closer look at Roger Zelazny, a science fiction alphabet, the thrill of collecting, the adventures of Cat McCool, science fiction for the serviceman, a Ray Bradbury bio-bibliography and more.
 
There are contributions from Arlan K. Andrews, Sr., John L. Coker III, James E. Gunn, Theodore Krulik, Jack Lange, Radell Faraday Nelson, Robert Silverberg, Jon D. Swartz, and David B. Williams.

The publication is (56) pages in length, and is limited to (50) copies.  It is laser printed on 28# quality paper and features B&W and color interiors with gloss covers.  It is 8½ x 11 and booklet-stapled.  The price is $35 (which includes packing, postage, insurance and tracking). 

All copies will be sent via USPS Priority Mail.  To order, those people who are interested are asked to please send a check or money order for $35 (payable to John L. Coker III) to John L. Coker III at 4813 Lighthouse Road, Orlando, FL – 32808.  

[Based on a press release.]

Robert Allen (Bob) Madle (June 2, 1920 — October 8, 2022)

Bob Madle as 1977 Worldcon Guest of Honor

Introduction by John L. Coker III: Today I received a telephone call from Jane Madle (Bob Madle’s daughter). She was very sad to report that Bob died this past Saturday, October 8th. Jane said that Bob had been in generally pretty good health until recently, spending his time reading, listening to his favorite music, watching baseball on TV with a couple of beers, and occasionally visiting with friends who came to see him.

The death of Bob Madle brings a very long era to a gentle close.  He was a life-long fan and a true living legend.  

Appreciation Prepared by John L. Coker III and Jon D. Swartz. After service in World War II, where he met his future wife, Billie, he attended Drexel Institute and received a bachelor’s degree on the G. I. Bill; he later attended night school for an MBA degree.

He started reading at a very young age, collected boy’s books, was a fan of Burroughs and Buck Rogers, and began reading magazine science fiction with Wonder Stories, the December, 1930 and April, 1931 issues. 

Around this time, he started writing LoCs to SF prozines. In 1934, he formed the Boys’ Science Fiction Club with fellow fans. The following year a letter of his appeared in the pulp magazine Pirate Stories, published by Hugo Gernsback, and won him a year’s subscription to Wonder Stories. In his letter he suggested that Pirate Stories publish a story about a space pirate of the future and that Edmond Hamilton should write it. 

In October 1936, some of the New York Futurians (including Donald A. Wollheim, John B. Michel, Herbert E. Goudket, David A. Kyle, Frederik Pohl and William S. Sykora) took a train to Philadelphia, where they were met by Madle, Milton A. Rothman, and Oswald V. Train.  Later they were joined by other Philadelphia fans. This meeting, known as the First Eastern SF Convention, is regarded as the very first SF convention.

At the first Worldcon in New York in 1939, Madle was picked to represent Pennsylvania.  He was the first American TAFF delegate (1957) and published his famous “A Fake Fan in London” as his trip report. At the 1957 convention, he was made a member of the order of St. Fantony.

Front: Mark Reinsberg, Jack Agnew, Ross Rocklynne Top: V. Kidwell, Robert A. Madle, Erle Korshak, Ray Bradbury Coney Island, 7/4/1939 (during first Worldcon)

He edited several important, early SF fanzines, including Fantascience Digest, in the 1930s – 1940s.  In 1948, under the imprint of New Era Publishers, Madle issued a hardcover book featuring two novels by David A. Keller: The Solitary Hunters and The Abyss.

His awards, appearances, and other honors over the years included: 1974, Big Heart Award; 1977, FGoH, Suncon; 1982, GoH at Lunicon 82; 1990, elected to First Fandom Hall of Fame; 1990, Special Guest, Boskone 33; 2002, Sam Moskowitz Archive Award; 2012, GoH at Philcon 2012. In addition, he is credited with naming the Hugo Award.

Bob Madle at home in 2020. Photo by Jane Madle.

A highly respected book dealer for many years, he published his Amazing Madle Catalogue on a regular basis. His catalogs were full of important bibliographic information, and a joy to read.

Madle was a founding member of FAPA in 1937, a founder of The National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) in 1941, and of First Fandom in 1958. He was First Fandom’s initial president, holding the office for twenty-five years. He later served another decade as its President Emeritus.

He was the last surviving attendee of the first SF convention (1936) and the first World SF Convention (1939). He was the last surviving founding member of both First Fandom and the N3F and will be greatly missed by the members of both organizations.

Moreover, he was the subject of the First Fandom 2020 Annual, which contained a complete bibliography of his genre writing along with photographs and articles from some of his friends.

From the time he was young, Robert A. Madle was highly regarded as an active fan, fully engaged in the issues of the day and tomorrow.  He got to meet and befriend most of the great SF fans and pros starting in the Golden Age. His was a unique perspective, experienced across ten decades. Bob’s generosity and dedication to SF fandom was only matched by his personal knowledge of the field and the admiration of his thousands of friends.

A life-long fan and a true living legend, he was the last link in an unbroken chain going back to the dawn of the Golden Age of science fiction.

Pixel Scroll 12/3/21 Galaxies In My Trousers Like A Scroll In My Pixel!

(1) INTRUDER ALERT. A week ago, Canadian sff writer Candas Jane Dorsey came home and discovered a break-in in progress. The police were called. All of what happened next is in this Facebook post.

Last Thursday we had a lovely dinner out with our friend Jane B., and came home to do some more work, and just as I was getting ready for bed I heard some thumping and then the alarm went off, saying there was an issue in the basement. Timothy went outside to look through the windows and there was indeed an intruder, who turned and pointed something black at him. Was it a gun? In Canada, that’s not common, though the police have been finding more guns among the criminals in town, so… Anyway, it looked like maybe…

Police were already being called, but adding the words “he might have a gun” rather sharpened the response time–and the scale of the response. Soon we were waiting up on the second floor while SWAT tactical vehicles and people with guns (I was going to say “guys with guns” but there was no way of knowing if they were guy-guys or generic-guys so I’m going with people, or police officers) and Colt Carbines and other people in squad cars and other people in unmarked white SUVs blocked streets and surrounded our house, and the police helicopter looked down on us with infrared scopes, and it was Uncle Tom Cobbley and all around here for the next nine hours, as the intruder hunkered down and refused to come out….

(2) DIAGRAM PRIZE WINNER. The Guardian reports Is Superman Circumcised? wins oddest book title of the year award”

The Diagram prize, which is run by The Bookseller magazine and voted for by the public, pitted six titles against each other this year, from Curves for the Mathematically Curious to Hats: A Very Unnatural History. Despite competition from second-placed The Life Cycle of Russian Things: From Fish Guts to Fabergé, Is Superman Circumcised? took 51% of the public vote to win the award. More than 11,000 people cast a vote in this year’s competition.

The title, which follows in the footsteps of former winners including How to Avoid Huge Ships and The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories, sees author Roy Schwartz explore the creation of the “Mensch of Steel” by Jewish immigrants Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Schwartz argues that Superman’s origin story is based “on Moses, his strength on Samson, his mission on the golem, and his nebbish secret identity on themselves”, and that Krypton’s society is based on Jewish culture.

(3) FIVE BEST. Adam Roberts picks “Five of the best science fiction and fantasy books of 2021” in the Guardian. First on the list:

Far from the Light of Heaven
by Tade Thompson (Orbit)
Space is vast but spaceships are by nature claustrophobic: Thompson plays cannily on that contrast. Passengers aboard the starship Ragtime are in suspended animation on their way to the distant planet Bloodroot, but 30 people have been murdered in their sleep. Thompson’s tale is cleverly plotted and tensely told as the investigating captain must work against her own crew, bio-contagion, violent robots and a demonic AI to uncover the murderer’s identity. The book does more than the description “locked-room mystery in space” suggests: not only wrong-footing the reader as its mystery unfolds, but creating a series of believable, compelling worlds with some genuinely alien aliens.

(4) BEAR MEDICAL UPDATE. Elizabeth Bear posted a public “cancer stuff update” on her Livejournal.

Just wanted to check in and let you all know that things are finally moving again here. I got some good news on Monday, which is to say that my oncotype came back and there’s no indication that chemo will reduce the chances of a recurrence, so I am off the hook for that (and enormously relieved, honestly). And the Infamous Seroma has healed enough that unless there’s some kind of additional complication, I will FINALLY be having my radiation setup, CT, and simulation on Monday morning….

(5) PRIME TIME FOR KIWI SFF. The Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts, happening in Wellington next February/March, has numerous items of genre interest. SFFANZ News compiled this list of links:  

(6) NFT ABUSE OVERWHELMS ARTISTS. Artists are burdened by having to generate DMCA takedown notices to keep their work from being thieved by NFT creators.

(7) ASIMOV RARITIES. Heritage Auctions has a set of the Gnome Press edition of the Foundation Trilogy on the block right now (Lot #45145). These books were published in 1951-1953. The bidding is up to $6,250.

(8) FIRST FANDOM ANNUAL 2021. Now available is the fanhistory tribute volume Remembering Erle M. Korshak (1923-2021) edited by John L. Coker III and Jon D. Swartz.

This is a tribute to legendary SF enthusiast Erle Melvin Korshak, remembered as a renowned book-seller, conventioneer, art collector and publisher. In several conversations, Erle recalls the early days of fandom, the first two worldcons, publishing articles in fanzines and the pulps, and some friends he made along the way. A new article about the history of Shasta Publishers is accompanied by Erle’s reflections on his days as a pioneering specialty press book publisher.

Other highlights include appreciations by several of Erle’s long-time friends, a gallery of First Fandom photos and an 8-page bibliography prepared by SF historian Christopher M. O’Brien.

60 pages, limited ed. (50 #’d copies) Laser printed on 28# quality paper Photographs and interior illustrations Gloss covers, 81?2 x 11, saddle-stitched. To order, send a check for $35 payable to John L. Coker III (includes packing, USPS Priority Mail, insurance, and tracking) to John at 4813 Lighthouse Road, Orlando, FL – 32808.

(9) ELIGIBILITY, YOU KNOW. Tor.com would not want you to overlook “All of Tor.com’s Original Short Fiction Published in 2021” which is linked from this post.

Since launching in 2008, Tor.com’s short fiction program has been producing touching, funny, and thought-provoking stories, and this year was no different! In 2021, we published 15 original short stories, another 15 novelettes, plus one novella. These ran the gamut from hard science fiction to epic fantasy, from horror to dystopia, from fairy tales to space opera. We’ve rounded them all up below…

(10) RETELLINGS CONSIDERED. In the Rite Gud podcast, Raquel S. Benedict contends a popular story form has some shortcomings: “#Girlboss: The Problem With ‘Feminist’ Fairytale Adaptations”.

We like folklore, and we like feminism. So why not combine them? A lot of writers do. Feminist retellings of old fairy tales are very popular. We have girlboss Cinderella starting her own business, rebellious Belle teaching girls to read in Beauty and the Beast, Snow White leading an army into battle. And why not? What’s wrong with updating folklore for a more enlightened age? We all like to see strong women kicking ass, don’t we?

But sometimes, despite our good intentions, these updates lose something in translation.

(11) MEMORY LANE.

2007 [Item by Cat Eldridge.] Fourteen years ago, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street premiered. It was directed by Tim Burton. It is an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s Tony Award-winning 1979 musical of the same name. In turn it is obviously based off of the Victorian Penny dreadful Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It starred Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Sacha Baron Cohen. Critics really like it with the Christian Science Monitor saying “A considerable achievement even if, on balance, it’s more of a Tim Burton phantasmagoria than a Sondheim fantasia.” And the Independent declared that “Relentlessly morose and courageously just, Tim Burton’s “Sweeney Todd” is a maniacal near masterpiece.” It was a box office success making two hundred million on a budget of fifty million. And audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a superb eighty-one percent. 

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 3, 1918 Polly Freas. Fan and wife of SFF artist Frank Kelly Freas with whom she had three children; she was much loved in fandom. She and Kelly co-edited Wonderworks: Science Fiction and Fantasy Art by Michael Whalen, which was a Hugo finalist for Best Nonfiction Book. She was Guest of Honor at numerous conventions, and was given a Special Award by Southern Fandom. (Died 1987.)
  • Born December 3, 1922 Donald H. Tuck. Engineer, Writer, Editor, and Fan from Tasmania, Australia who discovered SF very young. By the time he was 18, he had co-edited three issues of the fanzine Profan, which included author bios and bibliographies. Considering the logistical difficulties of the time in terms of communication by snail mail – especially given the added difficulty due to WWII and the distance of Australia from the U.S. – his feat in amassing a huge collection, and a file of index cards with the details of hundreds of SFF works, was impressive. In 1954, he collected those index cards into A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy, a 151-page bibliography of the field; in 1959 he released a greatly-expanded and updated version, at 396 pages. He was given a Worldcon Special Award for this work. He continued to refine this over the years, and in 1974 produced the first volume of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy through 1968: Who’s Who, for surnames starting A to L, followed four years later by Volume 2, for M to Z, and was recognized for this work with a World Fantasy Special Award. The third volume, a bibliography to accompany the two-volume encyclopedia of authors, editors, and artists, won a Hugo Award. He was to be Guest of Honor at the first Australian Worldcon; when he couldn’t attend, a group of fans went to visit him at his home. In 1985, he was given Fandom’s Big Heart Award. (Died 2010.)
  • Born December 3, 1937 Morgan Llywelyn, 84. Writer and Equestrian born in the U.S. who, after missing out on the Olympic dressage team by a minuscule fraction of a percentage point, turned to researching her Irish roots, and began to write historical fantasy, fiction, and nonfiction based on Celtic history and traditions. After her husband’s untimely early death, she moved to Ireland and is now a citizen residing near Dublin. Her first genre novel, Lion of Ireland, was nominated for a Mythopoeic Award. Her short genre fiction has been published in the collection The Earth Is Made of Stardust.
  • Born December 3, 1949 Malcolm Edwards, 72. Writer, Editor, and Critic from England who is considered one of the field’s great editors. Early in his career, he joined the British Science Fiction Association, and served as editor of its journal Vector. He was extremely active in British fandom in the 60s and 70s, producing several fanzines, and was one of the co-founders of the semiprozine Interzone. In the 80s, he co-wrote several SFF nonfiction reference works. His work has influenced many fans’ reading: as SF editor for Gollancz, he launched the SF Masterworks series. He was Deputy CEO of the Orion Publishing Group until 2019. Although he is best known as an editor, his short story “After-Images” won a British Science Fiction Award, and has been included in five different anthologies. He was Guest of Honor at Worldcon in London in 2014.
  • Born December 3, 1958 Terri Windling, 63. Author of The Wood Wife, winner of the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year. She has deservedly won has won nine World Fantasy Awards, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and the Bram Stoker Award. The Armless Maiden collection was on the short-list for the then-named James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Along with Ellen Datlow, Windling edited sixteen volumes of the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror  from 1986–2003. (Yes, the first volume is actually called Year’s Best Fantasy. I do have a full set here so I know that.) She is one of the core creative forces behind the mythic fiction emergence that began in the early Eighties through her work as an editor for the Ace and Tor Books fantasy lines, and they also edited a number of anthologies such as the superb Snow White, Blood Red series which collected the very best in contemporary fantasy. These are available at the usual suspects at very reasonable prices. I’m very fond of her work with Illustrator Wendy Froud, wife of Brian Froud, on the Old Oak Wood series about faeries living in the Old Oak Wood.  She interviewed one of them, Sneezlewort Rootmuster Rowanberry Boggs the Seventh, for Green Man here.
  • Born December 3, 1960 Daryl Hannah, 61. She made her genre debut in Brian De Palma’s The Fury, though she’s better known as Pris in Blade Runner. And she was the mermaid Madison in Splash. In a decidedly unfashionable role, she was Ayala in The Clan of The Cave Bear before being Mary Plunkett Brogan in High Spirits where she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Was she really that bad in it? Her last genre role I think was in the Sense8 series as Angelica Turing, though she had a cameo as herself in this year’s Cosmic Radio.
  • Born December 3, 1968 Brendan Fraser, 53. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are enough to get him Birthday Honors. (Let’s not mention the third Mummy film.) Though he’s been in Monkeybone based on Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel Dark TownSinbad: Beyond the Veil of MistsLooney Tunes: Back in ActionJourney to the Center of the EarthG.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and being Robotman on the Doom Patrol series that now airs on HBO Max.
  • Born December 3, 1985 Amanda Seyfried, 36. She play Ed Zoe, the lead Megan’s best friend in Solstice, a horror film. Another horror film, Jennifer’s Body, shortly thereafter, finds here playing Anita “Needy” Lesnicki. Red Riding Hood, yes, another horror film, had her cast has as Valerie. She plays Sylvia Weis, a role within In Time in a dystopian SF film next and voices Mary Katherine, Professor Bomba’s 17-year-old daughter in Epic which is at genre adjacent. She’s Mary in an animated Pan, a prequel to Peter Pan which sounds delightful. Lastly, she has a recurring role as Becky Burnett on Twin Peaks. And did we decide Veronica Mars was at least genre adjacent? If so, she has a recurring role as Mary on it. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

  • Bizarro shows why you don’t let psychiatrists interview your favorite cartoon characters.

(14) KGB. Fantastic Fiction at KGB reading series hosts Ellen Datlow and Matthew Kressel present N.K. Jemisin and David Leo Rice at the KGB Bar on Wednesday, December 15 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. (Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required to enter the KGB Bar. Face masks required when not seated.)

N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin is a New York Times-bestselling author of speculative fiction short stories and novels. In 2018, she became the first author to win three Best Novel Hugos in a row, for the Broken Earth trilogy, currently in film development. She has also won a Nebula Award, two Locus Awards, and is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship.

David Leo Rice

David Leo Rice is an author from Northampton, MA, currently living in NYC. His books include A Room in Dodge City, A Room in Dodge City: Vol. 2, Angel House, and Drifter: Stories. His novels The New House and A Room in Dodge City: Vol. 3 are forthcoming in 2022. He currently teaches at Parsons School of Design and FIT.

(15) MIGHT NEED A SPIN DOCTOR. Fantasy Literature’s reviewer Bill Capossere finds the series all too familiar: “The Wheel of Time: The wheel spins a little too slowly”.

…The show also isn’t helped, at least early on, by its characterization or its dialogue. The younger main characters have been aged up (if I’m remembering correctly — it’s been a long time), mostly it seems so they can have (undepicted) sex, which seems an odd reason. Otherwise, they feel at this point bland, unformed, and indistinguishable beyond their stock type (roguish irresponsible one, brooding pining one, grieving simmering one, bitter angry one, etc.). Honestly, they look and feel like they could have accidentally walked off the set of any CW show and into this one while the cameras were rolling. The older characters, Moiraine and the “gleeman” Thom fare better as characters, but Moiraine is saddled with a lot of expository and/or portentous monologuing (and not in a good, fun way)….

(16) COVID FRONT LINES. “Violence Against Australian Booksellers” is Shelf Awareness’ report about an incident that occurred when employees tried to get customer compliance with local Covid rules.

In Australia, the Dymocks bookstore on Collins St. in the CBD in Melbourne has been forced to hire security guards “after employees were attacked by customers refusing to follow Victoria’s Covid-19 rules, with one worker being pushed down an escalator,” the Age reported. The store’s owners said the move would cost hundreds of dollars a day, but safety of staff was paramount. The incidents are being investigated by police.

“We, as small business owners never thought that making our staff do this Covid marshaling checking would result in this kind of violence,” co-owner Melissa Traverso said, adding that just hours before one employee was assaulted, another staff member had been slapped by a woman who refused to give her personal details. The Age noted that “later on Friday, a third worker was tackled by an angry customer who did not provide a valid proof of vaccination, but managed to steady himself and avoid falling down the escalator.”…

(17) RO-MAN. [Item by Ben Bird Person.] Artist/illustrator Jacob Paik did this piece based on the 1953 movie Robot Monster:

(18) IT’S A THEORY. “Returned asteroid samples suggest missing source of Earth’s water: the solar wind”Daily Kos tells why.

One puzzle about Earth’s formation is that our planet shouldn’t have nearly as much water as it does.  Asteroids that formed closer to the Sun, such as those in the inner asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, have very little water, while those that formed farther out have much more.  So that implies that Earth, which formed even closer to the Sun than those asteroids, started out pretty dry and must have gotten its water from some far-out source.  But what could that source be?

Much of Earth’s water could very well have come from carbonaceous chondrite meteorites, flung to Earth from asteroids that formed far from the Sun, out around Jupiter/Saturn and beyond.  Those weren’t exposed to much heat when they formed, and so their volatile components like water could stay put.  Carbonaceous chondrite meteorites can contain up to 20% water. 

It would take a whole lot of hits by these kinds of meteorites to produce our oceans, but even if we grant that possibility, when you take them as a whole, their water doesn’t quite match Earth’s water in one important way: it’s too heavy.

“Heavy” water is not H2O but rather D2O.  Its hydrogen atoms are replaced by deuterium atoms.  A hydrogen atom is simply a proton and an electron, but a deuterium atom is that plus a neutron, so it’s heavier. 

On Earth we’ve got water with about 150 parts per million deuterium, but the average for those asteroids is more like 190.  So we seem to be missing a significant source of lighter water to make all of this add up.

Enter the solar wind!…

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Ben Bird Person, Olav Rokne, StephenfromOttawa, Daniel Dern, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Bonnie McDaniel.]

Pixel Scroll 11/12/20 When The Scrolling Gets Weird, The Pixels Turn Pro

(1) THE NEXT GENERATION. James Davis Nicoll’s Young People Read Old SFF panel took a look at “’No Trading Voyage’ by Doris Pitkin Buck”. What did they think of this 1963 poem?

This month’s entry is from Doris Pitkin Buck, a Science Fiction Writers of America founder. Buck was mainly associated with The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, which for various stupid reason was not a magazine I followed closely back in the day. Accordingly, I was not familiar with her work when I encountered this example of it way, way back in 2019. I see I carefully side-stepped my issues with poetry in my review. Let’s see what my Young People made of her poem. 

(2) FREE MARS? In “Elon Musk’s Martian Way (Empire Not Included)”  on National Review Online, Texas Tech economist Alexander William Salter says a curious clause in Musk’s Starlink satellite contracts doesn’t mean Musk quietly wants to conquer Mars.

…But a much more exotic charge against Starlink, and Elon Musk himself, has recently come to light. A curious clause in Starlink’s terms and conditions suggests SpaceX’s future plans for a Martian settlement will result in SpaceX becoming a law unto itself. As the service agreement reads:

“For Services provided on Mars, or in transit to Mars via Starship or other colonization spacecraft, the parties recognize Mars as a free planet and that no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities. Accordingly, Disputes will be settled through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of Martian settlement.”

Nefarious! Or is it? We need some context.

Clearly, the clause doesn’t pose any immediate legal concerns. This is a long-term issue. One of Musk’s ambitions is to create a settlement on Mars. In Musk’s vision, much of the infrastructure for the settlement, including Internet via Starlink, will be supplied by SpaceX itself. That includes governance: the rules dictating how the intrepid Martian explorers will live together. In fact, SpaceX’s legal team is currently working on a Martian constitution.

This science-fiction-esque plan predictably led observers to decry the prospect of corporate domination of space. “Elon Musk plans to get to Mars first, and that means he can quickly establish a fiefdom where he makes his own rules by a first-come, first-serve system,” complains Caroline Delbert at Popular Mechanics. Legal experts weighed in soon after, claiming that this language violates international law. The smart set seems more than happy to cast Musk in the role of Hugo Drax, the tech-savvy Bond villain who sought space power to control humanity….

(3) ISFIC WRITERS CONTEST EXTENSION. Steven H Silver brings word that the ISFiC Writers Contest  for unpublished writers of science fiction and fantasy has extended its deadline for submissions to November 27. Guidelines for entries are at the link.

(4) HOW CAN THE SAME THING HAPPEN TO THE SAME GUY TWICE? “Bruce Willis returns to space to kick some alien derriere in Breach trailer”Ars Technica sets the frame.

…Originally titled Anti-Life, the film’s premise is that a devastating plague has wiped out much of Earth’s population, and the survivors are being evacuated via an interstellar ark to “New Earth.” Willis plays Clay Young, described as a hardened mechanic who is part of the crew selected to stay awake and maintain the ark for the six-month journey. But then he discovers a shape-shifting alien (or “a malevolent cosmic terror,” per the early press materials) has also stowed away on the ark, and it seems to be intent on killing everyone on board…

(5) FIRST FANDOM SALUTE TO MADLE. First Fandom Annual 2020 has just been published with the theme “Celebrating Robert A. Madle.”

Robert A. Madle

This is a tribute to legendary fan Bob Madle, who just recently celebrated his one hundredth birthday.  In a long article featuring rare photographs and illustrations, Bob recounts his involvement in science fiction fandom over the course of ten decades.   He also reflects on the early days of Amazing Stories, the origins of FAPA, and the genesis of First Fandom.

Among the highlights: appreciations of Bob by some of his long-time friends, including a poem from 1968 by Robert Bloch; a gallery of First Fandom photos and a Robert A. Madle bibliography prepared by Christopher M. O’Brien.

Edited by John L. Coker III and Jon D. Swartz. 60 pages, limited edition (26 copies); Laser printed on good quality paper; Photographs and interior illustrations; Gloss covers, 8½ x 11, saddle-stitched.

This will soon be out-of-print, so order your copy today by sending a check or money order for $30 payable to John L. Coker III to 4813 Lighthouse Road, Orlando, FL 32808.

(6) COVID DELAYS ANOTHER CON. The Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo has been pushed back: “C2E2 Postpones Next Convention to December 2021” at Comicbook.com.

The convention circuit has been profoundly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as social distancing guidelines and fluctuating positivity numbers have thrown out the possibility of large scale events. As a result, many high-profile events have been forced to move into a digital format, or delay their dates well into next year. The Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, or C2E2, is the latest to do so, announcing on Tuesday that its next convention will be held from December 10th through December 12th of 2021. This delays the 2021 convention pretty significantly, as it was originally set to occur March 26-28, 2021.

(7) MCCAULEY OBIT. Literary agent Kay McCauley died on Sunday. Melinda Snodgrass paid tribute in “Living Life On Your Own Terms — Kay McCauley”.

I met Kay McCauley at the World Science Fiction Convention in Toronto back in 2003. I was in desperate need of a new literary agent, and George offered to introduce me to his agent. Kay was there to support George who was the GoH, but wasn’t much into the convention scene so I took a taxi and met her for lunch at her hotel.

The woman I met was a bit taller than me with elegantly coifed brunette hair, elegant gold jewelry, a chic pantsuit and a perfect manicure. Kay alternated between being charming, brusque, funny, judgmental, demanding. She pushed me — what are your goals? Why do you do this? What do you want to write? I could tell she was sizing me up in every way possible. I guess I managed to do something right because she became my agent a few months later.

She worked tirelessly for me for nearly twenty years. But this wasn’t just a professional relationship. Kay became my dear friend and confidant and it was a two way street. I could call her when I was sad or upset and she knew she could lean on me whenever life dealt her a blow. We always kept each other’s confidences. We had each other’s backs….

(8) LAFARGE OBIT. Tom LaFarge (1947-2020) died on October 22. He is survived by Wendy Walker and his son Paul La Farge. Tom had recently completed The Enchantments, a series of three novels published 2015-18. Author Henry Wessells wrote an essay on his writings for NYRSF, “Ticket to Bargeton”.

(9) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.

  • 1975 – Forty-five years ago, Poul Anderson’s A Midsummer Tempest would win the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and be nominated for the Locus, Nebula and World Fantasy awards as well.  Set in a world where Shakespeare was the Great Historian, all the events depicted within his plays were historical fact. Lester Del Rey in his August 1974 If review said that it is “a fantasy I can recommend with pleasure.”  Tom Lewis is the cover artist. It is available in print and digital editions. (CE)

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born November 12, 1877 – John R. Neill.  Starting with the second Oz book, illustrated the rest of Baum’s, all of Thompson’s, three of his own.  Before, worked on newspapers; around the time of Baum’s death, became a free lance, drawing for e.g. Boy’s LifeLadies’ Home JournalVanity FairSaturday Evening PostArgosy.  Here is The Lost Princess of Oz.  Here is The Magic of Oz.  Here is Scraps, the Patchwork Girl.  Here is an interior from the Dec 19 Everybody’s.  Here is “Beyond the Dark Nebula” from the 4 Apr 31 Argosy.  A granddaughter maintains a Website.  (Died 1943) [JH]
  • Born November 12, 1929 Michael Ende. German author best known for The Neverending Story which is far better than the film which only covers part of the novel.  Momo, or the strange story of the time-thieves is a charming if strange novel worth your time.   The rest of his children’s literature has been translated from German into English mostly by small specialist presses down the years. Unlike The Neverending Story and Momo which I’ve encountered, I’ve not read any of these. (Died 1995.)  (CE)
  • Born November 12, 1930 – Irma Chilton.  Ten novels, a few shorter stories.  Wrote in English and Welsh.  Tir na n-Og Award.  Crown for prose at 1989 Nat’l Eisteddfod.  Welsh Arts Council’s Irma Chilton Bursary prize named for her.  (Died 1990) [JH]
  • Born November 12, 1943 Wallace Shawn, 77. Probably best remembered as the ferengi Grand Nagus Zek on Deep Space Nine, a role he only played seven times. He was also Vizzini in the beloved Princess Bride, and he played Dr. Elliott Coleye in the My Favorite Martian film.(CE)
  • Born November 12, 1943 Julie Ege. A Bond Girl On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as Helen, the Scandinavian girl. She also appeared  in Hammer‘s Creatures the World Forgot and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. And in The Mutations which got released under the alternative title of The Freakmaker. She had a role in De Dwaze Lotgevallen Von Sherlock Jones which got dubbed into English as The Crazy Adventures of Sherlock Jones. (Died 2008.) (CE) 
  • Born November 12, 1943 Valerie Leon, 77. She appeared in two Bond films, Never Say Never Again and The Spy Who Loved Me, and in the horror flick Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb as Margaret Fuchs / Queen Tera. She was also Tanya in Revenge of the Pink Panther, and had one-offs in The AvengersSpace:1999 and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). (CE) 
  • Born November 12, 1945 – Michael Bishop, 75.  A dozen novels, a hundred thirty shorter stories, fifty poems; a dozen “Pitching Pennies Against the Starboard Bulkhead” essays, many others e.g. Introductions to Nebula Awards 23-25, “Forty Years with Asimov’s SF” (Jul-Aug 17 Asimov’s), letters in LocusNY Rev SFRiverside QuarterlySF Commentary; a dozen collections, recently The Sacerdotal Owl.  Reflections, Reverie for Mister Ray.  M.A. thesis on Dylan Thomas.  Two Nebulas, a Rhysling, a Shirley Jackson.  Website here.  [JH]
  • Born November 12, 1950 – Michael Capobianco, 70.  Two novels and a shorter story; four more novels, two shorter stories, with William Barton.  Two (non-consecutive) terms as SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) President; Service to SFWA Award.  MC & WB interviewed in SF Eye.  [JH]
  • Born November 12, 1952 Max Grodenchik, 68. He’s best known for his role as Rom, a recurring character on Deep Space Nine. He has a long genre history with appearances in The RocketeerHere Come The MunstersRumpelstiltskinStar Trek: Insurrection (scenes as a Trill were deleted alas), Tales from The CryptSlidersWienerlandThe Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Bruce Almighty. (CE)
  • Born November 12, 1969 – Olivia Grey, 51.  Three novels, four more under another name; half a dozen shorter stories.  Muse of the Fair at 2011 Steampunk World’s Fair.  Avalon Revisited won Steampunk Chronicle’s 2012 Reader’s Choice for Best Fiction.  M.A. thesis on Le Morte d’Arthur.  [JH]
  • Born November 12, 1976 Richelle Mead, 44. Best known for her Georgina Kincaid series, the Vampire Academy franchize and its spin-off series Bloodlines, and the Dark Swan series. I’ve only read Succubus Blues by her but it’s a truly great read and I recommend it strongly. Spirit Bound won a Good Reads Award.  (CE)
  • Born November 12, 1984 – Benjamin Martin, 36.  Moved to Okinawa from Arizona.  Two fantastic samurai novels (Samurai Awakening won a Crystal Kite Award), one shorter story.  Karumi Tengo photography prize.  [JH]

(11) COMICS SECTION.

(12) THE FIRST. James Davis Nicoll digs into “Science Fiction’s Very First ‘Year’s Best’ Anthology” at Tor.com.

… This 314-page hardcover, published by Frederick Fell, with a cover by Frank McCarthy (1924–2002) collected twelve stories from 1948. It sold for $2.95, which in today’s currency is about $30.

What did the best of 1948 look like, you wonder? I am so happy you asked.

The table of contents is dominated by men. One of the two women included, Catherine Moore, was concealed behind her husband’s byline effectively enough that an editorial comment makes it clear the editors believed the story was by Kuttner alone. Women were active in the field at the time, but as documented by Lisa Yaszek, the editors crafting SF canon were not much interested in acknowledging women. Who else, one wonders, was overlooked?

Still, one has to review the Best SF anthology one has, not the Best SF anthology you might want or wish to have at a later time….

(13) HOW SOME WRITERS GET PAID. “BYU Vending Machines Dispense Short Stories” reports KSL TV.

They are far from the typical vending machines found on college campuses.

At Brigham Young University, two new dispensers are offering a different kind of fare — short stories.

“I thought, ‘what a brilliant way to not be staring at your phone all the time!’” said Leslee Thorne-Murphy, an English professor and associate dean at the BYU College of Humanities.

Thorne-Murphy said she first saw the Short Edition dispensers in an urban mall in London and helped bring the idea to BYU as part of an initiative launched by the College of Humanities.

Three contactless buttons allow a student to select either a 1, 3, or 5-minute read, and the machine prints out a story selected at random from its database.

Stories range from famous works to student-submitted stories that have been added through writing contests.

(14) MAKE IT SO. SYFY Wire is there when “The Star Trek Cocktails book arrives with a bounty of libations to enjoy…for medicinal purposes”.

Relaxing from the universe’s withering stresses has always been an important part of the Star Trek universe. For some, that included imbibing alcoholic drinks. Be it solemnly inside their quarters to mark a moment, or collecting with peers in a bar like Ten-Forward, Trek has given us plenty of tantalizing visual cocktails in all of its various film and television iterations that audiences have long wished to taste at home

Luckily, you can now give almost 40 different Star Trek inspired alcoholic drinks a spin at home with the release today of Hero Collector’s Star Trek Cocktails: A Stellar Compendium. Written by Glenn Dakin with drinks curated by mixologists by Simon Pellet and Adrian Calderbank, the coffee table book features photos and illustrations of the drinks, the characters, and the events that inspired their creation.

(15) SPACEX IS GO. SPACEX but it’s THUNDERBIRDS! by Psyclonyx.

(16) BE KIND TO YOUR WEBFOOTED FRIENDS. “Who Would Rig This Vote? The Fraud Was Real (and Feathers Were Ruffled)” – the New York Times has the story. Tagline: “More than 1,500 fake votes were slipped into New Zealand’s Bird of the Year 2020 contest in favor of the kiwi pukupuku.”

…The scandal has roiled Bird of the Year 2020, an online popularity contest among the native birds of New Zealand, and made headlines in the remote Pacific Island nation, which takes its avian biodiversity seriously.

“It’s kind of disappointing that people decide to try their little tech tricks on Bird of the Year,” Laura Keown, the spokeswoman for the competition, told Radio New Zealand on Tuesday. “I’m not sure what kind of person could do it, but I like to assume that it’s somebody who just really loved native birds.”

No one has claimed responsibility, and no one is expected to.

The contest, which began on Nov. 2 and ends on Sunday, is conducted through an instant-runoff system that allows voters to rank their favorite birds — just as New Zealanders do when they elect humans to office. The organizer, a New Zealand-based advocacy group called Forest & Bird, has said that the contest is designed to raise awareness about the plight of the country’s more than 200 species of native birds, many of which are threatened or at risk of extinction.

(17) HONEST TRAILERS. In “Honest Trailers:  The Evil Dead Movies,” the Screen Junkies say the three “Evil Dead” movies are “as light on substance as they are heavy on style” and contain “enough red-dye corn syrup to flood the Eastern Seaboard.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, JJ, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian, John Hertz, Mike Kennedy, Cat Eldridge, James Davis Nicoll, David Doering, and Martin Morse Wooster for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Patrick Morris Miller.]

Bob Madle Turns 100 Today

Robert A. Madle at home (May 2020). Photograph by Jane Madle. Courtesy of John Knott.

Happy one hundredth birthday, Bob Madle! We’re celebrating the date with the help of Rich Lynch, John L. Coker III, and Jon D. Swartz, plus highlights of interviews conducted over the years with the birthday boy himself!

Bob Madle: A Fan for the Ages

[This essay was originally printed in the Boskone 33 Program Book in February 1996.  Photos were added when it was reprinted in My Back Pages 6 in 2011.]

Rich Lynch and Bob Madle in 2008.

By Rich Lynch: Recently, I read somewhere that an average American’s life span is now over 72 years, up something like 100 percent over what the average life expectancy was for people who lived way back in the Middle Ages.  Mankind doesn’t have the longest life span in the animal kingdom, of course; great land tortoises are reported to live well over 100 years, for example.  Even longer lived, one of the bristlecone pine trees out in the Sierras was calculated to have lived for about 2,000 years, but even this pales in comparison to the ancient creosote bushes of the Mojave Desert, some of which are reportedly over 20,000 years old!

And then there’s Bob Madle…

Bob Madle and Mel Korshak (Chicon I, 1940). Collection of Robert A. Madle.

Now, wait just a minute!  Before you think I’m having a little cheap fun at your Special Guest’s expense, I’ll hasten to tell you that no insult is intended.  In fact, I meant it as a compliment!  You see, Bob Madle is a member of that fabled Dinosaurs of Fandom organization, First Fandom, which he helped found back in the 1950s.  To be a member of First Fandom, you had to be active as a fan no later than January 1, 1938, by taking part in such activities as writing letters, publishing a fanzine, or attending a fan gathering.  Actually, Bob’s involvement in fandom dates back even further than that; he discovered that there was a fandom way back in 1933 when he found that letters from other fans were being published by Hugo Gernsback in Amazing Stories (Bob’s first published letter to Amazing appeared in the August 1935 issue).  Once he discovered there were other fans, he was part of the vanguard to organize them: in 1935, Bob was one of the founders of the world’s second oldest continuing science fiction organization, the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society.  And in 1936, Bob was one of the attendees of the very first science fiction convention ever held, when PSFS hosted a contingent of fans from New York City.

Now that alone is a pretty impressive resume, but it doesn’t nearly end there.  The first World Science Fiction Convention was held in New York City, in July of 1939.  Bob was there.  He was also at the second, in Chicago in 1940, and the third, in Denver in 1941.  He even attended the very first Boskone, in 1941.  After World War Two finished interrupting just about everyone’s fan activities, Bob became involved with the running of Worldcons, as part of the committees for the Philadelphia Worldcons in 1947 and 1953.  And there’s more: he was one of the decision-makers of that 1953 Worldcon committee that came up with the idea for the Hugo Awards, which were presented for the very first time at that convention.

But there’s still more!  I can’t end this appreciation without mentioning that Bob did much to organize fan groups in other places besides Philadelphia.  In the early 1950s, for instance, he was a founder of a fan club in Charlotte, North Carolina, which led to some of the first science fiction conventions ever held in the southeastern United States.  Much of today’s very active fandom in that region can be traced back to these origins.  And in 1957, Bob was elected North American delegate for the still-new Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund, which had been conceived just a few years earlier.  TAFF brought Bob to the very first non-North American worldcon, which was in London that year.  (This resulted in one of the best fan trip reports ever written, which he titled for obscure reasons, A Fake Fan in London.  But that’s another story…)

Anyway, it’s only because Bob has spent much of the past few decades as a dealer of rare and hard-to-find science fiction books and magazines that his fan activity has finally slowed by just a bit.  Not by so much that I can keep up with him, though!  Even now, sixty years after that first science fiction convention, he still gets to more conventions each year than most other fans, myself included.  So when you talk with him, ask him about some of these adventures.  You’ll find he’s easy to chat with, and who knows?  You might even find yourself buying a book from him that tells all about some of those yesteryear exploits of fandoms past.

I began this introduction of your Special Guest with a metaphor; I’ll finish it with another.  Even though the dawn of science fiction fandom happened way back in the 1930s, we should remember that fandom is really still quite young; the fact that many of its founders are still active is something we can treasure.  Bob Madle is such a treasure; he’s living history – a fan for the ages.

Bob Madle in 1938

Robert A. Madle – In the First Person

(Excerpted from conversations with John L. Coker III during 1994 and 2006-2008)

My name is Robert Albert Madle and I was born June 2, 1920, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  I grew up in the City of Brotherly Love and attended Northeast High School.  I started reading when I was very young, and by the age of nine I had a big collection of boy’s books.  I discovered science fiction in Tom Swift, then began reading Edgar Rice Burroughs.  I was a great Buck Rogers fan.  I was ten years old when Just Imagine came out.  I thought that that was the greatest movie ever made.

In 1931 John V. Baltadonis and I discovered two issues of Wonder Stories in a junk shop.  A few months later, my father gave me two dollars to buy a new pair of Boy Scout trousers.  So, to downtown Philadelphia I went.  I never did get the trousers, as an incident of vast importance intervened.  I happened to see a large window crammed full of Wonder Stories, Astounding Stories and Amazing Stories.  I entered to find many more issues–and they were six for twenty-five cents!  I bought two dollars of the treasures to start my S-F collection.  Several weeks later, my father discovered what had occurred.  I don’t recall exactly what happened but I’m sure it wasn’t pretty.

In 1934, I formed the Boys’ Science Fiction Club with Harvey Greenblatt, John V. Baltadonis and Jack Agnew.  My very first letter appeared in the July 1935 Pirate Stories.  I was a Gernsback fan, and anything he published I picked up.  I read his editorial in the first issue.  He said that they would publish pirate stories of the past, the present, and yes, even of the future.  So, I wrote a letter saying that they ought to publish a novel about a space pirate and they should get Edmond Hamilton to write it.  They printed the letter and I won a year’s subscription to Wonder Stories.  I was fourteen years old and I thought that this was one of the greatest things that ever happened.

Morris Scott Dollens, Walter J. Daugherty, Robert A. Madle. Collection of John L. Coker III.

Gernsback announced the formation of the Science Fiction League in the April 1934 issue of Wonder Stories.  In the May 1934 issue, he went into more detail about how science fiction was a literature that was a force that would change the world forever.  It would be a wonderful world of tomorrow where science rules everything.  It was the Gernsback Ideal.  I was thirteen years old at the time, and I thought “Wow!  I could be a part of this.”

In October 1936, the New York group – Donald A. Wollheim, William S. Sykora, John B. Michel, Fred Pohl, Herbert E. Goudket, and David A. Kyle – made a train trip down to Philadelphia.   They were met downtown by Milton A. Rothman, Oswald V. Train and me.  We showed them around the city.  Later that day, John Baltadonis and several others joined us at Milt Rothman’s house.  Then we actually had a meeting.  As Sam Moskowitz said in The Immortal Storm, if we hadn’t had that little meeting, we could not have called it the first convention.  The first science fiction convention would have been the one in Leeds, England, in early 1937. 

At the first World Con – New York, 1939 – everybody was being let in, including the Futurians, although the promoters were very wary of them.  Someone did discover a bunch of propaganda that the Futurians had stuck in between the steps with the intention to distribute later.  At that point, Moskowitz kept them from entering – Wollheim, Lowndes, Michel, Gillespie, Kornbluth and Pohl.  This has gone down in fandom history as “The Exclusion Act.”  Later, a number of us went over to Coney Island, and had a photograph made where we’re all sitting in an old car.  It would be two months before England and France would declare war on Germany, but we knew it was on its way.  When Japan attacked us, most fans went into the military.

Coney Island, New York – July 4 1939. (Rear, L-R) V. Kidwell, Robert A. Madle, Erle M. Korshak, Ray Bradbury. (Front, L-R) Mark Reinsberg, Jack Agnew, Ross Rocklynne.

I enlisted in the Army in July 1942, but wasn’t much of a fighting man.  For some reason, probably because I had a driver’s license, I wound up as a truck driver, even though I had never driven a truck in my life.  I had gone in under a new program, because of my bad eyesight.  They had just started what they called “limited service,” non-combatant duty.  

Next thing you know I’m heading for overseas duty.  I was called in to see the captain, who said that I wasn’t supposed to be in that outfit.  The orderly room said that there was an opening in the signal office for a teletype operator.  That is how I met my wife Billie, a switchboard operator at the time. 

There was a period when I was assistant to the public relations officer.  He was looking for somebody who could write and had something that had been published. The job had to do with writing news articles for the Charlotte newspapers.  Because of all the writing that I had done, I received a promotion.  I spent three and a half years in the service.

Oswald V. Train and Robert A. Madle, PSFS ca. 1953.

I got married during the war and already had a three-year-old son when I started college.  After I graduated, I worked and went on for my MBA at night.  I got a job in Charlotte, North Carolina, and after that I worked for the government in Washington, D. C.  I went to work for the Navy Department doing personnel research.  We helped determine requirements for future weapons systems and worked with the contractors.  Later, I had the background and school credits to become an engineering research psychologist and was involved with the interfaces between man and machine.

Robert A. Madle, Ben Jason, Honey Wood (1955, Cleveland). From the Collection of John L. Coker, III

One day in October 1958 I received a call from Don Ford, saying that Doc Barrett was having a small group over at his place in Bellefontaine, Ohio and I was invited.  When I arrived, the group was already there.  They consisted of Doc Barrett, Don Ford, Lou Tabakow, Ben Kiefer – four old-timers – and a youngster named Stan Skirvin.  We all sat around and drank beer and talked of the tumultuous events of the day. 

It was kind of an opportune coincidence how First Fandom came up.  Someone once claimed that he saw something written on a toilet wall, which said, “First Fandom is not dead!”  Recalling this, I said, “What science fiction needs is a new organization, one in which the old-time fans are paramount, instead of those young upstarts who wouldn’t know a 1933 Amazing Stories if he tripped on it.” 

Don was immediately for it, and said, “Great!  We can give recognition awards to the great authors of the past such as E.E. Smith, because none of them will ever get a Hugo.”  Everyone was enthusiastic about the idea, and great plans were conceived right then and there.  Don said, “To be a member, one would have to be active in some phase of science fiction prior to January 1938.”  A magazine would be published.  Don thought it should be a formal organization.  But serious things would be accomplished also, mainly, keeping the history of SF in front of the fans of SF today.  Membership credentials would be required and acceptance would be tough.  It would be a Last Man Club, with the last First Fandom member alive in a certain year knocking off a privately held fifth of liquor. 

Don suggested that I be president, as it was my idea.  Lou and he would share the secretary and treasurer’s duties.  Lynn Hickman was contacted and he became the official editor.  Announcements were sent out, and the first person to join – Member Number One – was Robert Bloch.  I never called an official meeting, and I remained president for over twenty-five years.

When I was young, the sense of wonder meant “Gosh!  Wow!  Boy oh boy!  Stories of how great the future’s going to be!  How science fiction is going to be the most powerful force that would change the world.”  The magazines had personality – fans wrote letters and editors commented on them.  In fact, I received several letters from the editor of Astounding, F. Orlin Tremaine, in response to my letters.  One issue claimed that he got the best stories from the best authors, but I told him that he got the worst stories from the best authors.  He wasn’t too happy with that comment.  The magazines had an aura about them.  To me, that was the sense of wonder.”

L-R Jack Agnew, Robert A. Madle, John Newton, Oswald V. Train, John V. Baltadonis. PSFS meeting – Nov 17, 1984. Courtesy of David Ritter.

MORE HONORS, AWARDS, AND PUBLICATIONS. Notes by John L. Coker III & Jon D. Swartz

Madle, Forrest J Ackerman and Sam Moskowitz at the 1957 Worldcon.

Bob Madle was the TAFF winner in 1957, and published his famous A Fake Fan in London as his trip report.  Also at the 1957 Convention Bob became a member of St. Fantony.

Bob’s other fan publications include Fantascience Digest, Fantasy-Fiction Telegram, Fanzine Review, and PSFS News.  For the prozines he wrote a column, “Inside Science Fiction.”  Bob was also distributor of the British prozine Nebula.

Bob’s Guest of Honor appearances, awards, and other honors over the years include: 1974, Big Heart Award; 1977, FGoH, Suncon; 1982, GoH at Lunacon; 1990, elected to the First Fandom Hall of Fame; 1996, Special Guest, Boskone 33; 2002, Sam Moskowitz Archive Award; 2012, GoH at Philcon. 

Bob is also credited with naming the Hugo Award, and was Treasurer of Philcon II.  In 2014, Madle was nominated for a Retro Hugo Award for Fantascience Digest.

For many years Bob has been a highly respected book dealer, specializing in rare science fiction and fantasy books and magazines.

Robert A. Madle and Jay Kay Klein

First Fandom Annual 2018

Jack Robins

The 2018 First Fandom Annual has just been published: Remembering Jack Robins (1919-2015), Edited by John L. Coker III and Jon D. Swartz.

This periodical showcases new articles and photographs, as well as a long interview with Jack Robins recalling the good old days, an article by Lottie about her family, and two of Jack’s SF-themed plays: “The Ivory Tower” and “The Trials and Tribulations of Publishing.”

Here are first-hand accounts of some early adventures of SF fans from the 1930s, including Donald A. Wollheim, John B. Michel, Leslie Perri, Richard Wilson, Fred Pohl, David A. Kyle, William S. Sykora, Cyril M. Kornbluth, Robert W. Lowndes, Isaac Asimov, and Damon Knight.

Also presented are a selection of Jack’s poetry and several of his historic SF photographs.

Also featured, a Jack Robins bibliography prepared by Christopher M. O’Brien.

  • 90 pages, limited edition (50 copies); Laser printed on good quality paper; B&W photos and interior illustrations; Gloss covers, 8½ x 11, saddle-stitched.

This will soon be out-of-print, so order your copy today by sending a check or money order for $30 (payable to John L. Coker III) to John at 4813 Lighthouse Road, Orlando, FL – 32808.

Norman F. Stanley (1916-2016)

Norman F. Stanley, circa 1970s.

Norman F. Stanley, circa 1970s.

By Jon D. Swartz and John L. Coker III: Born in May 1916, Norm Stanley was a science fiction (SF) fan from Maine who was very active in fandom in the 1940s.  He was a member of the famous Stranger Club, and was one of the club members who attended Noreascon 3 as a Fan Guest of Honor.

Norm was also tangentially involved in the Skowhegan Junior Astronomical and Rocket Society, the kind of fan club that combined both science and SF activities and was common in this country in the 1930s and 1940s.  He was generous with his fellow club members, and  let them borrow from his seventy bound-volumes of SF prozines.

He attended early conventions such as Philcon, as well as some of the early Boskones.  He also participated in Mainecon Jr, a “conference” in the language of the times, in 1943, with his friend Jim Avery and the visiting Claude Degler.  He gave Degler some fanzines, and got along well with him.  This generosity of his, plus the “conference” they had had with Avery, apparently qualified him to be a member of Degler’s legendary Cosmic Circle.  Norm was still active in fan matters in the late 1940s, and attended the 1948 Torcon where he participated in a roundtable discussion on the probable date of the arrival of interplanetary travel.

Norm’s major fanzine was Fan-Tods, which ran for nineteen issues.  He also published Beyond with Roscoe E. Wright.  Fan-Tods was a SF fanzine that was subtitled “The Magazine for the Tod Fan.”  It appeared in the 1940s-1950s, and was edited and published by Norm from his home in Rockland, Maine.  This fanzine was mimeographed using blue ink.  Issue #1 appeared in December, 1942; with #2 appearing in Spring, 1943; #7 in Summer, 1944; and then following a regular quarterly schedule until issue #18 in 1949 — after which there was a three-year break; and then Issue #19 was published in the Fall of 1952, and was the last issue.  Fan-Tods was an apazine, distributed through FAPA (Fantasy Amateur Press Association), and then VAPA (Vanguard Amateur Press Association).  Cover illustrations were by Wright, among others.  By issue #7, Wright had become a co-editor.  SF historian Harry Warner once described Norm as “a power force in FAPA.”  

Jack Speer’s 1944 poll of the top SF fans found Fan-Tods to be among the nation’s top five fanzines.  On the other hand, in 1947 – in his fanzine Matters of Opinion Speer wrote an article, “The People vs. Norman F. Stanley,” that was very critical of the 16th issue of Fan-Tods.

In the 1940s, Norm was very much a member of the “sense of wonder” camp of SF.  According to Warner’s All Our Yesterdays, when Norm’s mother told him about atomic bombs and Hiroshima he remembered thinking:  “I confess my first reaction was one of elation, which even the obvious misgivings couldn’t quench. ‘Geez, we might blow up the whole planet,’ I thought, ‘but it’s still wonderful.’ ”

In addition to his fanzine work, Norm wrote for the SF prozines, including several letters to Astounding Science Fiction.  Three of his letters were published in 1938, two in 1939, and one in 1940.  In addition, he had an essay (“The Theory of Thing Things”) published in the 1948 Torcon Report.

Norm was one of the original members of First Fandom; and he was elected to the First Fandom Hall of Fame in 2013.

Norman and Eleanor

Norman and Eleanor

Norman F. Stanley passed away on October 22, 2016, at the Sussman House, Rockport, Maine, with his family in attendance.  He was 100 years of age.  He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Eleanor, their two children, a granddaughter, and four children of a nephew.

Here is a link to the obituary notice that appeared in The Courier Gazette / The Camden Herald on October 26, 2016:  http://knox.villagesoup.com/p/norman-stanley/1588807

norman-stanley

Sources: All Our Yesterdays; The Immortal Storm; Fancyclopedia 3; ISFDB; Wikipedia; and other Internet sites.

Remembering Jack Robins (1919-2015)

By Jon D. Swartz & John L. Coker III: First Fandom original member Jack Robins passed away on December 23, 2015 after a brief illness. Robins was a science fiction (SF) fan who belonged to the International Scientific Association (ISA) in the early 1930s [invited by Walter Kubilius to attend a meeting], was a member of the famed Futurian Society of New York when it was formed in the late 1930s [inviting a former classmate of his, Isaac Asimov, to join], was part of the small group of Futurians (that included Donald Wollheim, John Michel and Fred Pohl) that organized the Committee for the Political Advancement of Science Fiction (CPASF), and he also attended the first Worldcon (Nycon) in 1939 (despite the Exclusion Act that prevented some of the other Futurians from attending).

Robins was born February 17, 1919, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. His siblings were much older, and he “was like an only child.” Born Jack Rubinson, he legally changed his name to Jack Robins. After he left the Futurians, he earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (which later merged with NYU), but he maintained an interest in SF his entire life.

In the late 1930s Robins published two issues of his fanzine The Scientific Thinker. In the early 1940s, he published ten issues of another fanzine, Looking Ahead. Later he contributed an article, “Sex in Science Fiction,” to Geep!, The Book of the National Fantasy Fan Federation (1987). In addition, he has written LoCs, articles, and reviews for fanzines, including The Fan and Tightbeam for the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) and Scientifiction for First Fandom.

Looking Ahead No. 3. Ed. Jack Robins. (March 1940) COMP

Jack recalled the summer of 1936:

Walter Kubilius introduced me to the ISA. These were people like me. They read and lived science fiction! They met in William Sykora’s basement and issued a mimeographed fan magazine to which I contributed. In 1937, Sykora closed his door, but the group reformed and became the Futurians. I still have fond memories of the group, and feelings of the warm comradery of those early days.

 

Walter Kubilius (late-1930s).

Walter Kubilius (late-1930s).

Robins has just missed being included in several important events in the history of fandom. Once, he was away when pictures of attendees at an early meeting of SF fans were taken, a meeting that became known as the First Eastern Conference. At the premier performance of the movie Things to Come, Robins left before a party that took place among fans that included Wollheim, Michel, Pohl, and James Blish. Robins was forgotten later when Wollheim wrote about those who had seen the movie and attended the party.

He missed out on other historic events because he was attending college classes, did not have enough money for required expenses, or was uncertain about dates (not having a telephone at the time). When the ISA decided to produce a movie and asked for scripts, Jack submitted one, but his was chosen as a backup in case the first choice did not work out.

Robins was a photographer who made a number of historic pictures of the Futurians.

He recalls a long walk that they all took:

Once, during the 1939 World’s Fair Days, Wollheim, Michel, Lowndes, Chester Cohen, and I decided to make a trip to Tarrytown. After taking the IRT all the way to the last stop in the Bronx, we then walked, walked, and walked, until we finally reached our destination. I had taken along a cheap 35mm camera to take pictures of all my friends, but I neglected to ask anyone to take a picture of me. We found a diner, but Lowndes and I were too poor to pay for a meal. Later, when our excursion ended, we took the train back down to the City, and then took the subway back to our homes.

 

(L-R) Robert W. Lowndes, Donald A. Wollheim, Chester Cohen, Cyril Kornbluth, John B. Michel. (Photograph by Jack Robins.)

(L-R) Robert W. Lowndes, Donald A. Wollheim, Chester Cohen, Cyril Kornbluth, John B. Michel. (Photograph by Jack Robins.)

Years later, when he had a subscription to Locus, Robins saw a notice by Damon Knight seeking former Futurians. Knight wanted documents related to the famous SF fan club for the tell-all book he was writing. Robins sent him what he had, but all Knight used in his 1977 book, The Futurians, was a couple of pictures that Robins had taken.

In his 1983 book relating his memories of SF’s Golden Age, The Way the Future Was, Frederik Pohl barely mentioned Robins. Later, in commenting on Robins’ activities as a Futurian, Pohl referred to him as “the smiling guy in the background.” Another time – after acknowledging that Robins had been a Futurian from the beginning — he described him as more of an auditor than a participant.

One of the reasons for his exclusion from some Futurian activities probably was the fact that Robins was a “science man” and was not a would-be writer. Although he wrote some fan plays, he went on to earn three college degrees and became a research chemist with a doctorate. Most of the Futurians aspired to be professional SF writers and editors, not professional scientists. Another “science man” was Asimov, who had gone to Boys High School with Robins.

In 1984, Robins retired from his job with the Atlas Powder Company in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, where he had worked for twenty-five years as a research chemist. Over the ensuing years Jack wrote family histories, convention reports, articles, poetry, sonnets, and plays, including a tribute to the Futurians, entitled “The Ivory Tower.” In retirement Jack was busier than ever, writing a column of non-fiction articles for his condo newspaper and working on his memoirs. In addition, he was at one time co-president of the computer club at his condo and the person in charge of publicity.

Robins was optimistic: “The world is full of wonder to me. Many scientists developed their interest in science after reading science fiction and some inventors attribute their creations to their knowledge of science fiction. I see the influence of STF everywhere.”

Jack was happily married for sixty-six years to Lottie, the love of his life. They shared an interest in photography and Classical music. They adored each other and enjoyed the daily company of family and friends. Then, after a brief illness, Jack passed away.

Jack Robins was inducted into the First Fandom Hall of Fame and made a N3F Life Member, both in 2012. He was a life-long genuine enthusiast who knew many of the early fans and was present as history was unfolding. Jack pursued his dream of going to college and becoming a real scientist. His written accounts and photographs have become an important part of the record of the early days of science fiction fandom.