Arthur Jean Cox (1929-2016)

Bill Cox, Arthur Jean Cox, and Earl Thompson at FUNcon I in 1968.

Arthur Jean Cox, center. His brother Bill is on the left, and Earl Thompson on the right. Taken at FUNcon I in 1968.

The death of long-time LASFSian and author Arthur Jean Cox was announced at the club’s October 6 meeting. No details were given.

He never missed a LASFS meeting from May 1945 to January 1952. He served seven terms as secretary and one term as Director. He contributed to the club genzine Shangri L’Affaires, as well as other zines including Science Fiction Times, Riverside Quarterly, and Science Fiction Review.

Cox helped put on 1946 World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles.

His first published story, “Twilight Planet,” appeared in F&SF in 1951. LASFS voted him a Fanquet (then a traditional dinner celebrating a club member’s first sale) and named him LASFS Writer of the Year in 1952.

Cox was a contemporary of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and late in life gave a video interview about such memories as the night in 1950 when he and A.E. Van Vogt were present at the Shrine Auditorium to see Hubbard present the woman he said was the world’s first Clear.

Dovey and Massaro Win 32nd Annual Writers & Illustrators of the Future Contests

_PSA6803 (Mate Kiss)

L-R: Orson Scott Card, David Farland, writer winner Matt Dovey, illustrator winner Adrian Massaro, Kellie Gerardi, and Sergey Poyarkov.

Matt Dovey, a writer from Lincolnshire, UK and Adrian Massaro, an illustrator from Neuquen, Argentina are the Grand Prize Winners of the 32nd Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards for Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contests.

This was the first time in contest history that the winning writer and illustrator won for their work on the same story, Matt Dovey’s “Squalor and Sympathy,” illustrated Adrian Massaro.

The awards ceremony was held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 10, emceed by Gunhild Jacobs, Executive Director for Fiction Affairs at Author Services, Inc.

Dovey received the Golden Pen Award and a $5,000 check on stage from writers David Farland and Orson Scott Card. Adrian Massaro was presented with the Golden Brush Award and a $5,000 check by illustrator Sergey Poyarkov and the awards show keynote speaker, Kellie Gerardi. Gerardi is a Space Science Strategist and Media Specialist of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, one of 100 people globally currently being considered for space settlement to live on Mars.

Matt Dovey said, “Moments like this are unique and life defining.  Write without shame.  Do what you do with confidence.  Ours is the greatest genre, that of science fiction and fantasy.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Speculative fiction is what we tell our children.  If we are the writers of the future, it is up to us write the future.”

Adrian Massaro said, “I didn’t plan to win.  I was surrounded by equals in this contest.  All of the other stories that were so vivid; I never thought I would win. I tried to put the emotion into my illustration for ‘Squalor and Sympathy.’ I find it difficult to find words to express the profound feelings I am experiencing at the moment. It’s beyond words.”

The inaugural L. Ron Hubbard Silver Star Award was presented to illustrator Sergey Poyarkov by Joni Labaqui, Director of Contests for Author Services, Inc. The award was given for his excellence as a science fiction and fantasy illustrator for the last 25 years.

John Goodwin, President and Publisher of Galaxy Press, unveiled the 32nd Volume of L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future featuring the work of 24 award-winning new authors and illustrators from this year’s contests. Edited by David Farland, with cover artwork by Sergey Poyarkov, the book also features stories written by Tim Powers, Sean Williams and Brandon Sanderson.

This year’s 12 Quarterly Awards Winners of the Writing Contest were each presented with cash prizes and trophies.  They included:  Stewart C Baker of Dallas, OR; Matt Dovey of Lincolnshire, UK; Julie Frost of West Jordan, UT; Robert Graves (Pen Name:  R.M. Graves) of London, England (who was unable to attend); Sylvia Anna Hivén of Lawrenceville, GA; Rachael K. Jones of Athens, GA; Ryan Row of Berkeley, CA; Jon Lasser of Seattle, WA; Stephen Merlino of Seattle, WA; Christoph Weber of Reno, NV and James Williams (Pen Name:  J.W. Alden) of Hypoluxo, FL.

In addition, a 13th writer, K.D. Julicher of Fernley, NV was selected as a Published Finalist for this year’s contest.  She was in attendance at the event.

This year’s 12 Quarterly Awards Winners of the Illustrating Contest were each presented with cash prizes and trophies.  They included:  Christina Alberici of Sewell, NJ; Camber Arnhart of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Brandon Knight of Shawbirch, Telford, UK; Talia Spencer of Los Angeles, CA; Adrian Massaro of Neuquen, Argentina; Killian McKeown of Phoenix, AZ; Vlada Monakhova of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Paul Otteni of Kirkland, WA; Jonas Spokas of Kaunas, Lithuania; Preston Stone of Loveland, CO; Maricela Ugarte Peña of Monterrey, Mexico and Dino Hadziavdic of Bosnia and Herzegouina.

Event attendees also included 24 world-renowned writer and illustrator contest judges specializing the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy.  The 16 Writer judges included:  Kevin J. Anderson, Dr. Doug Beason, Dr. Gregory Benford, Orson Scott Card, David Farland, Eric Flint, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Nancy Kress, Todd McCaffrey, Rebecca Moesta, Larry Niven, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, Timothy Thomas “Tim” Powers, Mike Resnick, Dr. Robert J. Sawyer and Dr. Sean Williams.  The seven illustrator judges included:  Laura Freas Beraha, Echo Chernik, Larry Elmore, Ron Lindahn, Val Lakey Lindahn, Gary Meyer and Sergey Poyarkov.

Since inception, the Writers and Illustrators of the Future contests have produced 31 anthology volumes and awarded a cumulative $930,000 in cash prizes and royalties.

[Based on the press release.]

Pixel Scroll 3/13/16 We’re Off To See The Pixel, The Wonderful Pixel Of Scroll

(1) DAYLIGHT STEALING TIME. Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass trailer investigates a time crime.

(2) TAKING INVENTORY. Bill Roper had some insights about being a convention dealer while doing “That Taxes Thing”.

One of the distressing things about doing the taxes for Dodeka is seeing:

– How many different titles we carry.

– And how many of them appear to have sold one or fewer copies in 2015.

Some of these are the result of having bought out Juanita’s inventory when she retired and having acquired various CDs that had been sitting in her inventory for too long. A few of them are the result of my own ordering errors.

The problem is that the boxes are large and heavy and the table is very full. But if you don’t take the CDs out to the cons with you, you can’t sell them…

Filk is an extremely regional business. And given that we’re in the eighth-or-so year of a sucky economy, I certainly understand people’s reluctance to take a flyer on something that they aren’t familiar with.

(3) BATMOBILE REPLICA MAKER LOSES. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a Ninth Circuit decision in favor of DC Comics, which had sued Mark Towle over his unlicensed replicas of the 1966 and 1989 Batmobiles, sold for about $90,000 each. So DC wins.

According to Robot 6:

Towle argued that the U.S. Copyright Act doesn’t protect “useful articles,” defined as objects that have “an intrinsic utilitarian function” (for example, clothing, household appliances or, in this case, automobile functions); in short, that the Batmobile’s design is merely functional.

However, a federal judge didn’t buy that argument… Towle appealed that decision, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wasn’t any more sympathetic, finding in September that, “the Batmobile is almost always bat-like in appearance, with a bat-themed front end, bat wings extending from the top or back of the car, exaggerated fenders, a curved windshield, and bat emblems on the vehicle. This bat-like appearance has been a consistent theme throughout the comic books, television series, and motion picture, even though the precise nature of the bat-like characteristics have changed from time to time.”

In his petition to the high court, Towle insisted that the U.S. Copyright Office states outright that automobiles aren’t copyrightable, and that the Ninth Circuit simply created an arbitrary exception. He also argued that there have been “dozens” of Batmobiles in DC comic books over the decades that “vary dramatically in appearance and style” — so much so that the vehicle doesn’t have the “consistent, widely-identifiable, physical attributes” required to be considered a “character.”

(4) SFL SURVIVOR. Andrew Liptak retells “The Adventures of the LA Science Fantasy Society” at Kirkus Reviews.

When he [Forry Ackerman] set off on his own, he founded the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. While every other Science Fiction League chapter closed—as well as many of the other fan groups—the LASFS survives to the present day, the longest running science fiction club in the world.

In the coming decades, the club became an important focal point for the growing science-fiction community. It counted some of the genre’s biggest writers as its members: when Ray Bradbury’s family moved from Arizona to Los Angles, the young storyteller quickly found the group. “A turning point in his life came in early September 1937,” Sam Moskowitz recounted in his early history Seekers of Tomorrow: Masters of Modern Science Fiction, “when poring through the books and magazines in Shep’s Shop, a Los Angeles book store that catered to science-fiction readers, he received an invitation from a member to visit the Los Angeles Chapter of the Science Fiction League.” Through the league, Bradbury quickly got his start as a writer, publishing “Hollerbochen’s Dilemma” in the club’s fanzine, Imagination!

LASFS is not quite the lone survivor of the Science Fiction League – there is also the Philadelphia Science Fiction SocietyFancyclopedia 3 has more SFL history.

(5) ON WINGS OF STONE. You must keep an eye on these winged predators. BBC tells “How to survive a Weeping Angels attack!”

The Weeping Angels are scary. Really scary. They possess a natural and unique defence mechanism: they’re quantum locked. This means that they can only move when no other living creature is looking at them. These lonely assassins also have the ability to send other beings into the past, feeding on the potential time energy of what would have been the rest of their victims’ lives.

But how do you survive a Weeping Angel attack? Well, here’s our guaranteed, foolproof 4-step guide…

(6) TOP DRAWER. Peter Capaldi proves to have a flair for sketching his predecessors as Doctor Who.

(7) COINAGE. A horrible, fannish pun in March 12’s Brevity cartoon.

(8) MARIE WILLIAMS OBIT. New Zealand fan Marie Williams died of cancer February 27. She was a member of the board of Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand (SFFANZ), and their announcement said, “She was a valued member and we will miss her thoughtful insights and interesting comments.”

(9) TOMLINSON OBIT. E-mail pioneer Ray Tomlinson died March 5 at the age of 74. The New York Times report gave a brief history of his development.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mr. Tomlinson was working at the research and development company Bolt, Beranek & Newman on projects for ARPANET, a forerunner of the Internet created for the Defense Department. At the time, the company had developed a messaging program, called SNDMSG, that allowed multiple users of a time-share computer to send messages to one another.

But it was a closed messaging system, limited to users of a single computer.

Mr. Tomlinson, filching codes from a file-transfer program he had created called CYPNET, modified SNDMSG so that messages could be sent from one host computer to another throughout the ARPANET system.

To do this, he needed a symbol to separate a user name from a destination address. And so the plump little @ sign came into use, chosen because it did not appear in user names and did not have any meaning in the TENEX paging program used on time-sharing computers.

The BBC’s Dave Lee wrote “Ray Tomlinson’s e-mail is flawed, but never bettered”.

He is widely regarded as the inventor of email, and is credited with putting the now iconic “@” sign in the addresses of the revolutionary system.

He could never have imagined the multitude of ways email would come to be used, abused and confused.

Just think – right now, someone, somewhere is writing an email she should probably reconsider. Count to 10, my friend. Sleep on it.

Another is sending an email containing brutal, heartbreaking words that, really, should be said in person… if only he had the nerve.

And of course, a Nigerian prince is considering how best to ask for my help in spending his fortune.

Chip Hitchcock says, “AFAICT, nobody saw person-to-person email coming; computers were for talking to central data, as in ‘A Logic Named Joe’ or even The Shockwave Rider. The closest I can think of to discussing the effects of mass cheap point-to-point communication is the side comment on cell-phone etiquette in the opening scene of Tunnel in the Sky. Can anyone provide another example?”

(10) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • March 13, 1981 – Joe Dante’s The Howling premieres in North America.

(11) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born March 13, 1911 – L. Ron Hubbard

(12) HUGO NOMINATORS: NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER. Spacefaring, Extradimensional Happy Kittens reappears after a five-month hiatus, because it’s “Hugo Season!”

The annual SFF self-loathing theme weeks are here again — I feel (as I feel every year) like a total loser for not having read enough new science fiction and fantasy to make informed nominations for the Hugo award. I haven’t read Seveneves, haven’t seen Ant-Man, haven’t had the time for Jessica Jones, haven’t waded through a lot of short fiction.

Damn damn damn.

Then again, you’re always going to feel that way, no matter what. And it’s not football (which means “soccer”, in case you’re American), so whining doesn’t help.

(13) BINARY BEAUTY. “Google’s AI Is Now Reigning Go Champion of the World”. Motherboard has the story.

On Saturday afternoon in Seoul, AlphaGo, the Go-playing artificial intelligence created by Google’s DeepMind, beat 18-time Go world champion Lee Sedol for its third straight win in a five game series.

The win was a historic one for artificial intelligence research, a field where AI’s mastery of this 2,500 year old game was long considered a holy grail of sorts for AI researchers. This win was particularly notable because the match included situations called ko fights which hadn’t arisen in the previous two games. Prior to AlphaGo’s win, other Go experts had speculated that ko situations could prove to be stumbling blocks for the DeepMind program as they had been in the past for other Go computer programs.

“When you watch really great Go players play, it is like a thing of beauty,” said Google co-founder Sergey Brin, himself a self-proclaimed adamant Go player in grad school, after the match. “So I’m very excited that we’ve been able to instill that level of beauty inside a computer. I’m really honored to be here in the company of Lee Sedol, such an incredible player, as well as the DeepMind team who’ve been working so hard on the beauty of a computer.”

(14) PC OR BS? Ethan Mills of Examined Worlds asks “Has Political Correctness Run Amok? Does It Even Exist?”

… I’m tempted to call this “A Prolegomena to Any Future Discourse about Political Correctness.”….

  1. Is political correctness a cut-and-dried free speech issue?  Why is it that many examples of the “political correctness has run amok” narrative involve cases where one group exercises its freedom to speak against ideas or to decide what speech they want to support in their space?  Is this really a threat to free speech in general if it’s limited to a particular space?  Is there a right to tell people what speech to support in their space? Does political correctness threaten free speech in a more fundamental way by making people feel uncomfortable to say certain things at all?  How do we decide what counts as a threat to free speech in general?  Are there some things that just shouldn’t be said in certain contexts?  Should all speech be allowed in all contexts?  If not, how do we decide when it’s permissible to limit speech?  Is there a difference between limiting speech and simply asking people not to say certain things?
  2. What is the difference between political correctness and politeness or basic respect?  Is there a difference?  What happens if what one person calls political correctness another person calls being polite, civil, or respecting the humanity of others?  How do we settle these disputes?  Is it possible that this whole issue is really just based on the feeling that people don’t like being told what to say?  Is it possible or desirable to change that feeling and thus shift the whole narrative on this issue?

(15) PI TIME. Are you getting into MIT? Then expect notification from BB-8. “MIT parodies ‘Star Wars’ for ‘decision day’ announcement”.

The video ultimately reveals that “decision day” for the class of 2020 will take place on March 14, which is also known as “Pi Day”, as 3.14 represents the first 3 digits of pi.

Hopeful applicants will be able to learn whether or not they’ve been accepted to MIT by logging onto the admissions website starting at 6:28 p.m. on Pi Day. This time represents another reference to pi as 6.28 is known as “Tau” or two times pi.

 

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, and JJ for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Hampus Eckerman.]

Pixel Scroll 2/12/16 Little Pixels Made Of Puppy-Scroll, And They All Look Just The Same

(1) THE TENTACLE RECONCILIATION. This just in — “Cthulhu Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize”.

OSLO, NORWAY — Dread Lord, and presidential candidate, Cthulhu has more to savor this week on the campaign trail than the vulture-picked carcasses of the campaigns of Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, Martin O’Malley and others. Cthulhu has been officially nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, according to Henriette Berg Aasen, Nobel watcher and director of the Peace Research Cooperative of Oslo….

Aasen told the Kingsport Star Herald that Cthulhu has been nominated, as He is yearly, by the Campus Crusade for Cthulhu (known also as CTHU). Cthulhu joins a long list of historical luminaries nominated for the coveted prize like Adolph Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Rush Limbaugh, Henry Kissinger and Vladimir Putin.

Aasen says CTHU selected the independent candidate and demon god because “when He rises from the Deep, humanity will finally know peace and understanding. Our conflicts will disperse. Our prejudices will fade. The Truth of existence will fill us. And those of us left will join as one in praise of Pax Cthulhia.”

(2) TORT SOLO. The BBC reports “Star Wars prosecuted over Harrison Ford injury”.

The production company behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens is being prosecuted over the incident in which Harrison Ford broke his leg.

The actor was struck by a hydraulic metal door on the Pinewood set of the Millennium Falcon in June 2014.

The Health And Safety Executive has brought four criminal charges against Foodles Production (UK) Ltd – a subsidiary of Disney.

Foodles Production said it was “disappointed” by the HSE’s decision.

Following the incident, Ford was airlifted to hospital for surgery.

Following an investigation, the HSE said it believed there was sufficient evidence about the incident which left Ford with serious injuries, to bring four charges relating to alleged health and safety breaches.

(3) PUT TO THE QUESTION. The characters in Redshirts are out of jeopardy, but not out of Jeopardy!

(4) MORE RECOMMENDATIONS. Black Gate’s John ONeill points out “Gypsies, Paupers, Demons and Swans: Rich Horton’s Hugo Recs”:

I cover a lot of short fiction magazines and novels, but I never feel adequately prepared for the Hugo ballot. But that’s okay, because I know people who read every single short story published in English, and can point me in the right direction.

Well, one person. Rich Horton. Seriously, he reads them all. No, really. All of them. When he modestly claims he doesn’t, he’s lying. He’s read some of ’em twice.

(5) HORTON’S RECS. The recommendations originated at Rich Horton’s blog Strange at Ecbatan.

For the past few years I have avoided the sorts of posts I used to routinely make, listing my favorite stories of the year and making suggestions for Hugo nominations. There are several reasons – one is simply that I thought my Best of the Year Table of Contents served such a purpose by default, more or less, another is time. And a third, of course, is a feeling of skittishness about the controversy that has arisen, from several directions, on the appropriateness of nomination lists, or, Lord preserve us, “slates”.

But hang it all, almost all I’ve been about for my time writing about SF is promoting the reading of good stories. Why should I stop? Why should anyone? I don’t want people to nominate based on my recommendations – I want people to read the stories I recommend – and lots of other stories – and nominate the stories they like best. I don’t want to promote an agenda. I don’t want to nudge the field towards any set of themes or styles. (Except by accident – I don’t deny that I have conscious and unconscious preferences.) In fact, I’d rather be surprised – by new ideas, by new writers, by controversial positions, by new forms, by revitalization of old forms.

This is, indeed, mostly the contents of my Best of the Year collection, with a few added that I couldn’t use for one reason or another (length, contractual issues, etc.). And let’s add the obvious — I miss things! Even things I read. There have definitely been cases where a story I didn’t pick seemed to me on further reflection to be clearly award-worthy.

I recently made a post on potential Hugo nominees in which I briefly discussed potential Best Editor nominations. I mentioned John Joseph Adams, Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Jonathan Strahan, Trevor Quachri, C. C. Finlay, Sheila Williams, Andy Cox, Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, Scott H. Andrews and Brian Thomas Schmidt. And in all honesty, I think any of those people would be wholly worthy nominees. They have all done first-rate recent work. But that said, let’s be honest, I was being a bit timid. Who would I really vote for? I wanted to be a bit more forthright, and plump for a few folks I am really rooting for….

(6) DEFERRED GRATIFICATION. “20 Year Overnight Successes: Writing Advice” is a set of Storified tweets from Maria Dahvana Headley about writing.

Mark-kitteh sent along the link with a modest disclaimer: “Obviously I have no way of knowing if they’re good advice or not, but as Neil Gaiman commented on then approvingly I’m assuming they’re good…”

She begins:

Gaiman’s comment:

(7) RANDOMNESS. Don’t know what this actually relates to, just found the stand-alone comment amusing.

(8) IAN WATSON. At SF Signal, Rachel Cordasco’s “Eurocon 2016: An Interview with Ian Watson”

RC: This Eurocon is taking place in Barcelona- what is the state of Spanish scifi today?

IW: Spanish SF (including, as I said, Fantasy and Horror) is thriving, but not nearly enough gets translated into English nor is published visibly enough. Félix Palma’s Map of… trilogy is certainly a best-seller in English (as the New York Times says) but consider a genre-bending author such as veteran Rodolfo Martínez, a major award winner in Spain: you can get a Kindle ebook of his novel

The Queen’s Adept in an English translation so good, of a book so good, that it reads like an original novel by Gene Wolfe, but you’ll find it in no bookshop in the USA or UK. (While on the subject of actual books, devour The Shape of Murder and Zig-Zag by José Carlos Somoza.)

Recent professional labour-of-love productions include The Best of Spanish Steampunk (big, edited and translated by James and Marian Womack, whose Nevsky press is based in Madrid), the crowdfunded Castles in Spain put together by Mariano Villarreal, and (in progress) the likewise crowdfunded competition-winners anthology Spanish Women of Wonder edited by Cristina Jurado, title courtesy of Pamela Sargent. Mariano Villarreal is also responsible for an admired series of original anthologies entitled Terra Nova, published by Rodolfo Martínez’s own Sportula press, of which one is in English translation: Terra Nova: An Anthology of Spanish Science Fiction. Ebooks only, these last three.

On the whole, things are humming.

(9) ALBERT FANDOM. Einstein is not only on a bubblegum card, he’s on a Star Wars gif too –

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAY BOY

  • Born February 12, 1915 — Lorne Greene, who played Commander Adama.

(11) MEET THE RABIDS. Vox Day adds to his slate: “Rabid Puppies 2016: Best Graphic Story”.

(12) WRITERS OF THE FUTURE. The L. Ron Hubbard presents Writers & Illustrators of the Future Annual Awards Ceremony invitation was extended to LASFS members on Facebook. Information about the ceremony is here. The event is April 10, 2016 at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. Doors open at 5:30 pm – Event starts at 6:30 pm. Party and book signing immediately follow. Black tie optional or Steampunk Formal. RSVP HERE

Past winners of the Writers of the Future Contest have gone on to publish well over 700 novels and 3000 short stories; they have become international bestsellers and have won the most prestigious accolades in the field—the Hugo, the Nebula, the John W. Campbell, the Bram Stoker, and the Locus Award—and even mainstream literary awards such as the National Book Award, the Newbery and the Pushcart Prize. The Illustrators of the Future winners have gone on to publish millions of illustrations in the field.

 

(13) CHARACTERIZATION. At All Over The Map, Juliet McKenna has some interesting advice concerning “The importance of thinking about ‘local values’ when you’re writing”.

On the other hand, you can turn this issue of local values to your writerly advantage, in the right place, for the right character. When I said minus three degrees or minus thirteen a few paragraphs back, I meant Celsius, because my local weather values are centigrade. When I come across temperatures given in Farenheit in US crime fiction, I always have to pause and do a quick mental conversion calculation. It disrupts the flow of my reading, so as far as I am concerned, that’s a bad thing.

But if I was a character in a book? If the author wanted to convey someone feeling unsettled and out of their usual place? Sure, that author could tell us ‘She felt unsettled by the unfamiliar numbers in the weather forecast’ but you could do so much more, and far more subtly, as a writer by showing the character’s incomprehension, having her look up how to do the conversion online, maybe being surprised by the result. It gets how cold in Minnesota in the winter?

(14) ALPHA HOUSE. To better organize the presidential candidates competing in the New Hampshire primary, Mic sorted each candidate into Hogwarts houses from Harry Potter. Still funny, even if the primary’s over.

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Mark-kitteh, and James H. Burns for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Jenora Feuer.]

Perry Chapdelaine (1925-2015)

Perry A. Chapdelaine Sr. (born Anthony di Fabio), sf author, early Dianetics exponent, and editor of two collections of the letters of John W. Campbell, Jr., died November 24 at the age of 90.

Chapdelaine joined the Army in World War II and was sent to the University of West Virginia to be educated as a civil engineer. Following his discharge he used his veterans’ benefits to attend small colleges, earning both a B.A. and M.A. in mathematics, with a minor in psychology.

A longtime reader of Astounding, he was attracted by its early articles about L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics and in 1950 traveled to Elizabeth, New Jersey where he took a six-week course at the Hubbard Dianetics Research Foundation. One class was led by John W. Campbell, Jr., who made students practice how to respond to hecklers while selling Dianetics.

Chapdelaine achieved a Hubbard Dianetics Auditor certificate shortly before the place was shut down by the state attorney general. He opened two Dianetics centers in Alabama, got involved with the Hubbard Research Foundation in Wichita, and eventually did some related work in California. He claimed to have produced the first “clear.”

But he wasn’t making enough money at it to support his family. He moved back South and got a civilian job with the Air Force, where he was eventually part of the effort to transition Air Force logistics systems from using punchcards to electronic computers.

Perry A. Chapdelaine

Perry A. Chapdelaine

By 1966 he was an assistant professor of mathematics at what is now Tennessee State University. There he got a grant from the National Science Foundation in 1969 to run a computer assisted instruction laboratory, but in 1970 he was dismissed from the faculty.

Between 1967 to 1971 he began having success at selling short fiction, first to If and Galaxy, and finally to Campbell’s Analog. Unfortunately, Campbell died just two months after that story came out. Chapdelaine wrote in the introduction to the first volume of Campbell letters:

By 1971, at John’s death, I’d developed a strong father-fixation with John as my nexus, and cried openly on his death. He’d been part of my “real” world since 1939, a man of so many attributes and talents that even at this writing I feel a great sense of loss.

Chapdelaine contributed articles and reviews to fanzines such as Bruce Gillespie’s Science Fiction Commentary and Richard E. Geis’ Science Fiction Review. He was a prolific letter writer, too. As a young fan in the early 1970s, I struck up a correspondence with him that lasted for several years.

Chapdelaine went on to place three novels with British publishers, Swampworld West (1974), The Laughing Terran (1977), and Spork of the Ayor (a fixup based on his short stories, 1978).

After I finished my master’s degree in 1975, I wrote to him about my ambition to work on a book about Campbell’s letters, and the steps I’d taken so far, such getting Poul Anderson to lend me those in his possession to make xeroxes. Chapdelaine moved quicker than I did, sensing the opportunity to use such a project to launch his own publishing firm. He secured the necessary permissions, had Conde Nast find the file copies of Campbell’s letters in its warehouse, and got others from Peg Campbell.

With the aid of co-editors George Hay (founder of Britain’s Science Fiction Foundation) and his son, Tony, in 1985 he brought out The John W. Campbell Letters, Volume 1. The very last letter in the volume is one Campbell wrote to me, added to take the sting out of the whole affair.

CampbellJW-Letters1pbA second volume, The John W. Campbell Letters with Isaac Asimov and A.E. Van Vogt, appeared in 1993.

His last published science fiction story appeared in 1979, “The Return of Prince John Israel Mcwayizeni Shaka,” in George Hay’s anthology Pulsar 2.

The family obituary at Legacy.com says Chapdelaine is survived by his wife Mary Ann, his 10 children with his first wife, Ruby, (who predeceased him), and 32 grandchildren.

[Thanks to Joseph T Major, Michael J. Walsh, Catherine Crockett, Steven H Silver, and Martin Morse Wooster for this story.]

Past Masters

The Master, a film that takes impetus from L. Ron Hubbard’s creation of Scientology, is due in theaters September 14. See the trailer here.

The Master was secretly screened in Santa Monica on August 3. A member of the audience posted some quick thoughts on Hollywood Elsewhere:

I’m still digesting everything I saw, but it was pretty amazing. It was like a strange fever dream. [But] not audience friendly AT ALL. An ambiguous ending and not one likable character. And without any ‘milkshake’ lines, it probably won’t have the breakthrough that There Will Be Blood had… There are three or four scenes between Phoenix and Hoffman that are barn burners. It also contains the best work Amy Adams has ever done…

In The Master Philip Seymour Hoffman plays a World War II vet haunted by his experiences who forms his own religion. Joaquin Phoenix plays a drifter who becomes The Master’s right-hand man.

While many Golden Age and New Wave sf writers have been the subjects of documentaries, they have rarely inspired big screen dramatics. Besides The Master, I can only think of Empire of the Sun (1984), about J.G. Ballard’s childhood years in a Shanghai internment camp, Shadowlands (1993), based loosely on C.S.Lewis’ relationship with Joy Davidman Gresham, and Martian Child (2007), taken from David Gerrold’s story about adopting a son. Have I missed any?

[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]

1948: First Westercon Program Book

The program book from the very first Westercon has been scanned and posted on the LASFS website, reports Lee Gold.

There were very few sf conventions anywhere in 1948, and none at all in the southwestern US, when Walt Daugherty proposed an annual convention be started for West Coast fans. The first Westercon was held on September 5 that year at the Park View Manor (the same hotel used for the 1946 Worldcon). 

The day-long convention attracted 77 attendees to hear from a number of well-known local authors. E. Mayne Hull, L. Ron Hubbard and Dr. Eric Temple Bell (aka John Taine) spoke in the afternoon, and astronomer Dr. Robert C. Richardson (aka Philip Latham) was one of three speakers on the evening program.

This copy of the Program Book belonged to Aline and Gerry Thompson, who collected numerous autographs from fans and pros at the con — Genie Willmorth, Jerry G. Thompson, Forrest J Ackerman, Harvard Johnson, Fred Johnson, Roy A. Squires, Rick Sneary (appended: South Gate in 58!), Elmer B. Perdue, Andy Anderson, Stan Woolston, William Rotsler, Dale Hart, Al Ashley, A. E. Van Vogt, Jean Cox, G. Gordon Dewey.

[Thanks to Lee Gold for the story.]

Where Real Writers Work

The desk and chair Charles Dickens used while writing Great Expectations sold for £433,250 at auction in early June. It is the original of the desk shown in Filde’s drawing known as “The Empty Chair” and upon it were written Dickens’ last works.

When I looked at “The Empty Chair” I immediately wondered: How did Dickens ever get any work done in such a neat room? Impossible. Someone must have cleaned it up before they let the artist in. I don’t know any writer who could even begin to work in such a sanitized environment.

Certainly Dickens’ contemporary Mark Twain didn’t. Go to the interactive map of Mark Twain’s House. Click on the Third Floor “Billiard Room” to see where Samuel Clemens did Mark Twain’s work. Even now that it’s a museum, the curators haven’t forgotten to spread around some clutter to simulate the great man at work. (While you’re there, click on the First Floor “Entrance Hall” and look at the three-story spiral staircase. Legend holds that whoever seeks to be a writer should touch the staircase’s mahogany railing. Now wipe the fingerprint off of your monitor.)

Thanks to Google, it’s easy to find lots of photos of science fiction writers’ offices to illustrate the same point. A collection of links appears after the jump.

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