Three classic trip reports have been added to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund’s library of free downloads. And if you enjoy them, a donation to TAFF is a fine way to express your appreciation. All are available in several electronic formats.
Robert A. “Bob” Madle (1920-2022) was the first North American TransAtlantic Fan Fund winner to travel to Europe at TAFF expense and the first to write a trip report on his experience. He attended the 1957 London Worldcon, the first to be held outside North America. A Fake Fan in London includes a detailed examination of the controversy (reflected in the title) resulting from the fact that many UK fans had preferred the rival candidate Dick Eney, a much newer fan whose activity was more visible across the transatlantic gulf between fandoms. All was amicably resolved. Madle died in October 2022 at the ripe age of 102, the last surviving member of the real First Fandom.
Ansible Editions ebook added to the TAFF library on 1 February 2023. Over 37,000 words. Cover drawing by Linda Miller from the first collected edition published in 1976.
Len and June Moffatt were the 1973 US TAFF winners, travelling from California to that year’s UK Eastercon, OMPAcon ’73, held in Bristol. Their joint trip report The Moffatt House Abroad followed promptly in 1974.
Cover artwork by Bernie Zuber for APA-L, used as an interior in the 1974 edition. Ansible Editions ebook added to the TAFF site on 1 February 2023. Over 44,000 words.
Ron Ellik (1938-1968), nicknamed “Squirrel”, was a popular Los Angeles fan highly active from the mid-1950s, co-editing the Hugo-winning newszine Fanac with Terry Carr. He won the 1961 TAFF race against Dick Eney and travelled from the USA to the 1962 UK Eastercon in Harrogate. The ensuing lively trip report The Squirrel’s Tale was serialized in the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society’s Shangri L’Affaires in 1962 and 1963, revised by Ellik in 1965, and published by LA friends a year after his tragic death in a January 1968 car accident.
Ansible Editions ebook added to the TAFF library on 1 February 2023. 27,000 words. Cover photo of Ron Ellik in squirrel costume from the Ethel Lindsay collection; photographer unknown.
…These Valentine’s Day stories cover the broad spectrum of speculative fiction. We have urban fantasy, a lot of paranormal romance, paranormal mysteries, science fiction mysteries, science fiction romance, space opera, space colonisation, horror, alternate history, time travel, dragons, werewolves, wizards, ghosts, demons, aliens, robots, magical greeting card writers, crime-fighting witches, crime-fighting ghosts, Viking ghosts, dinners with demons, grumpy cupids, love potions, Valentine’s Day in space and much more. But one thing unites all of those very different books. They’re all set on or around Valentine’s Day….
(2) EVEN BEFORE COVID. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Fans who had to deal with Covid restrictions coming to DisCon III should be interested in June Moffatt’s account of the preparations she and her husband Len Moffatt had to do before travelling to the UK and Germany as 1973 TAFF delegates, as recounted in their report The Moffatt House Abroad.
Then there was the matter of shots for overseas travel. We thought of smallpox vaccinations immediately, but our doctor said they were hardly necessary where we were going, and said we’d do better with protection against cholera and typhoid, which we might be exposed to in crowded international air terminals.
It was a remarkably warm winter and it seemed as if we took turns having colds, so we never did get to the doctor for the necessary shots…The Friday before we were supposed to leave, I was driving home and listening to the radio when I heard a bit of news that startled me considerably. There had been an outbreak of smallpox in London. Only three known cases so far, but the authorities were watching carefully.(It seems that a lab worker had been working with smallpox virus without having been immunized. When she got sick, she was hospitalized in a regular ward, while her doctor worked to find out what she had. Two people visiting the person sitting on the bed next to hers had caught it from her. They subsequently died. She recovered.)
The next day we were at our doctor’s office, sans appointment. When we explained the problem, he subsequently immunized us and had a few remarks to make on people who disapprove of smallpox vaccinations. (The remarks were not particularly complementary, in case you were wondering.) He gave us our yellow health certificates and advised us to get them stamped by a local health department, which we did on Monday.
Danny Dunn and the Anti-gravity Paint was a 1956 fictional book. Part of a 15 book series about Danny Dunn written by by Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin. In 1967 they reprinted “…and the Anti-Gravity Paint.” It had a new painted cover making it seem modern to young space-age children. Danny Dunn books were loosely science-based so the problems were solved with scientific ideas. I thought the 1956 space race setting of the book connects it with others of the time like Rocket Ship Galileo.
(4) BERYL VERTUE (1931-2022). Beryl Vertue, a writers’ agent who became a television producer with credits including Sherlock, has died at the age of 90. The Guardian noted some of her achievements.
Beryl Vertue, who has died aged 90, played an important role in the history of British television comedy. She began as an agent for writers such as Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes, as well as the performers Tony Hancock and Frankie Howerd, before pioneering the sale of hit UK TV formats to American television.
The Moffat-Vertues partnership had further success with two drama series transposing Victorian literary figures to the present day. Jekyll (2007) starred James Nesbitt as Robert Louis Stevenson’s doctor with a split personality, while Sherlock (2010-17) was an irreverent take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective, co-created by Moffat and Mark Gatiss, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr Watson. Cumberbatch dubbed Vertue “Sherlock’s godmother”.
From typing scripts for The Goon Show (1951-60) and other radio and TV sitcoms, Vertue became the company’s business manager – later managing director – and negotiated deals with broadcasters. This made her an agent for some of the most respected writers in the country, who also included Barry Took, Dick Vosburgh, Marty Feldman, John Junkin and Johnny Speight.
Outside comedy circles, Vertue sealed a deal for Terry Nation that gave him partial copyright on the Daleks when he introduced them in Doctor Who’s second story shortly after the sci-fi series began in 1963.
She also blazed a trail by persuading the BBC to venture into programme-related merchandise, resulting in Daleks memorabilia, a Hancock’s Half Hour board game and Steptoe and Son jigsaws.
Alongside film production, Vertue negotiated the sale of British sitcom remake rights to American and European channels. In the US, Till Death Us Do Part became All in the Family (1971-79) and Steptoe and Son was retitled Sanford and Son (1972-77).
She was also executive producer of Tommy (1975), the film of the Who’s rock opera…
Vertue was made an OBE in 2000 and a CBE in 2016, and presented with the Royal Television Society’s lifetime achievement award in 2012.
(5) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
1972 — [Item by Cat Eldridge] Fifty years ago today, Cabaret premiered as directed by Bob Fosse and produced by Cy Feuer. It would be Fosse’s first film success, after Sweet Charity, his first film, failed badly.
Set in Berlin in obviously a cabaret during the Weimar Republic, the film is based on the 1966 Broadway Cabaret musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb, which was adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories novel and the 1951 play I Am a Camera by John Van Druten adapted from that work.
It had a stellar cast of Liza Minnelli, Michael York, Helmut Griem, Marisa Berenson. Fritz Wepper and Joel Grey. The film would bring Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli, her own first chance to sing on screen, and she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.
It goes without saying that the critics loved it with Roger Ebert being effusive when he said in his later critical review of it that “Instead of cheapening the movie version by lightening its load of despair, director Bob Fosse has gone right to the bleak heart of the material and stayed there well enough to win an Academy Award for Best Director.” And Emanuel Levy on his review website says that “After a decade of stagnant musicals, Fosse reenergized the genre with a dazzling, socially conscious musical, which was more reflective of the 1970s zeitgeist than the Nazi era. Liza Minnelli is brilliant in what’s the best role of her career.”
Box office wise, it did fantastic earning forty-three million against just five million in production costs. It was a Good Thing that it did considering that Sweet Charity, his first film based off the musical by him of the same name had lost twelve million dollars after costing only eight million to produce. Though even that disputed with the Studio saying it only made four million.
Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give a seventy two percent rating. Cabaret is available for watching on HBO Max. Pretty much every other service has it for rent.
(6) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born February 13, 1908 — Patrick Barr. He appeared in Doctor Who as Hobson in the Second Doctor story, “The Moonbase”, in the Seventies Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) “You Can Always Find a Fall Guy” episode and appeared once in The Avengers as Stonehouse in the “Take me to Your Leader” episode. His last genre role was as the British Ambassador in Octopussy. (Died 1985.)
Born February 13, 1932 — Susan Oliver. She shows up in the original Trek pilot, “The Cage” as Vina, the Orion slave girl. She had a number of one-offs in genre television including Wild Wild West, Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Tarzan, The Invaders, Night Gallery and Freddy’s Nightmares. (Died 1990.)
Born February 13, 1932 — David Neal. He had a number of genre roles including showing up on the 1980 Flash Gordon as Captain of Ming’s Air Force. He would be on Doctor Who during the time of The Fifth Doctor for the “The Caves of Androzani” story”. And he played, and I kid you not, the Dish of the Day in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. (Died 2000.)
Born February 13, 1938 — Oliver Reed. He first shows up in a genre film uncredited in The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, with his first credited role being Leon in The Curse of the Werewolf. He was King in The Damned, an SF despite its title, and Z.P.G. saw him cast as Russ McNeil. Next up was him as Athos in the very charming Three Musketeers, a role he reprised in Four Musketeers and Return of the Musketeers. And can we skip past him as Sarm in Gor please? Does Royal Flash count as genre? Kage Baker loved that rogue. Kage also loved The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in which he played Vulcan. Orpheus & Eurydice has him as Narrator, his final film role. At least I’m reasonably sure it is. (Died 1999.)
Born February 13, 1943 — Leo Frankowski. Probably best known for his Conrad Stargard series featuring the Polish time travelling engineer Conrad Schwartz, but I’m more fond of his stand-alone novels Fata Morgana (most superb) and Copernick’s Rebellion. (Died 2008.)
Born February 13, 1944 — Michael Ensign, 78. One of these performers whose showed up in multiple Trek series, to wit The Next Generation where he played a Malcorian, on Deep Space Nine where he was a Vulcan, on Voyager where he was a Takarian and Enterprise where he’s another Vulcan. Impressive indeed!
Born February 13, 1959 — Maureen F. McHugh, 63. Her first novel, China Mountain Zhang, was nominated for the Hugo at ConFrancisco and the Nebula Award as well, and won the Otherwise Award, impressive indeed. Her other novels are Half the Day Is Night, Mission Child and Nekropolis. She has an excellent collection of short stories.
(7) COMICS SECTION.
Thatababy has an improbably science fictional gag compared to its usual fare.
…But as far as what to expect, and maybe have a hope of staying ahead of Ford in reading it for the first time, you need to know which espionage writers influenced Ford.
In his introduction, Charles Stross, whose Laundry Files and Merchant Princes novels have borrowed, if not been nearly pastiches of, various espionage novel authors, provides a Rosetta Stone, a cryptography key, to what Ford was doing here. Ford’s inspiration, model, and some might even say passion is Anthony Price. Anthony Price’s Dr David Audley/Colonel Jack Butler novels are counter espionage thrillers and highly regarded in that genre. I’ve never read any of them, but I know enough about espionage thrillers, both novels and movies, to fit into the plot, characters and story quite well. It is no coincidence that George Smiley (of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) gets invoked on more than one occasion….
…You *could* go into this book cold and enjoy and appreciate Spelunking Through Hell. Seanan McGuire is really, really good at setting up the beginning of a novel with just enough recap and context to pull the reader along. I just wouldn’t know what that looks like because I’ve hooked on this series since book one and I’ve read all of McGuire’s Incryptid stories on Patreon that’s been filling in the family history up through Alice and Thomas. I can’t get my mind in the place to understand what cold reading would look like. I’m invested….
…George Lucas, the creator of “Star Wars,” said Williams was the “secret sauce” of the franchise. While the two sometimes disagreed, he said Williams did not hesitate to try out new material, including when Lucas initially rejected his scoring of a well-known scene in which Luke Skywalker gazes at a desert sunset.
“You normally have, with a composer, giant egos, and wanting to argue about everything, and ‘I want it to be my score, not your score,’” Lucas said. “None of that existed with John.”…
…As production continues on the film, James Gunn took to Twitter to share a behind-the-scenes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 image. The writer/director revealed Gillan has been trolling him on the set of the film by sneaking in drawings to his shot plans in an effort to get more Nebula scenes, to which the actress hilariously and seemingly confirmed her hijinks in a follow-up post. Check out the funny posts below:
European scientists say they have made a major breakthrough in their quest to develop practical nuclear fusion – the energy process that powers the stars.
The UK-based JET laboratory has smashed its own world record for the amount of energy it can extract by squeezing together two forms of hydrogen.
If nuclear fusion can be successfully recreated on Earth it holds out the potential of virtually unlimited supplies of low-carbon, low-radiation energy.
The experiments produced 59 megajoules of energy over five seconds (11 megawatts of power).
This is more than double what was achieved in similar tests back in 1997.
It’s not a massive energy output – only enough to boil about 60 kettles’ worth of water. But the significance is that it validates design choices that have been made for an even bigger fusion reactor now being constructed in France….
…Preempting Hardcastle and McCormick on ABC, the 8 p.m. telefilm drew a staggering 100 million viewers, an audience that at the time was second only in non-sports programming to the series finale of M*A*S*H. According to Nielsen, 62 percent of all televisions in use that night were tuned in.
What they watched didn’t really qualify as entertainment; Meyer stated he had no desire to make a “good” movie with stirring performances or rousing music, but a deeply affecting public service announcement on the horrors of a nuclear fallout. He succeeded … perhaps a little too well….
Bliss composed one of the most famous British film scores for the 1936 production of H. G. Wells’ “Things to Come.” Here he conducts its March on a Reader’s Digest LP with the New Philharmonia Orchestra (recorded 1967). Note: This has now been released on a ‘Classic Recordings Quarterly’ CD entitled “A Tribute Sir Arthur Bliss” (CRQ Editions CRQ CD 283) which also features Bliss conducting the music of Rossini, Borodin, Handel, Elgar, Holst, Vaughan Williams, Parry and Arne.
[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Porter, Daniel Dern, Hampus Eckerman, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew (not Werdna).]
By John Coker III: The 2018 First Fandom Awards and the Big Heart Award were presented during Opening Ceremonies at Worldcon76. Steve Francis was the Master of Ceremonies.
Distinguished First Fandom member Erle M. Korshak presented the Hall of Fame Award to Robert Silverberg.
Robert Silverberg has been a professional writer since 1955, the year before he graduated from Columbia University, and has published more than a hundred books and close to a thousand short stories. He is a many-time winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, was GoH at the Worldcon in Heidelberg, Germany in 1970, was named to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2004 was named a Grand Master by the SFWA, of which he is a past president. Silverberg was born in New York City, but he and his wife Karen and an assortment of cats have lived for many years in the San Francisco Bay Area.
John Hertz inducted Len and June Moffatt into the First Fandom Posthumous Hall of Fame, and the Award was accepted on their behalf by Bob Konigsberg.
Len and June Moffatt
Len and June Moffatt were longtime dedicated fans, SF and Mystery readers, authors, fanzine publishers, editors, correspondents, convention organizers and associate members of First Fandom. They joined LASFS in the later-1940s. They published the FAPAzine Moonshine, published in APA-L, and were founding members in the fanzine 5X5. Len was one of the organizers of the 1958 Worldcon. Len and June were co-founders of the Bouchercon, and were the 1973 TAFF Delegates. They were Fan Guests of Honor at Loscon 8 (1981) and BoucherCon (1985), and recipient of the Evans-Freehafer Trophy (1994) and the Anthony Award (1999). They are being honored as a couple for their tireless service to others over the course of their lifetimes.
The Sam Moskowitz Archive Award is presented for excellence in collecting. This year, First Fandom recognizes the important scholarly work that has been done by Hal W. Hall while he was curator of the SF and Fantasy Research Collection of the Cushing Library at Texas A&M University.
Hal W. Hall
In 1970, Hall W. Hall started indexing SF and fantasy book reviews, ending that effort 25 years later with a bibliography of some 79,000 citations. In the late-1970s, he started collecting citations to articles and books about SF and fantasy, first in book form and then online. That material resides in the SF and Fantasy Research Database, now approaching 115,000 items. In 2017, Hall published Sam Moskowitz: A Bibliography and Guide (221 pages, listing 1,489 items).
LASFS (to me and many, pronounced “lahss fahss”; to June’s late husband Len rhyming with sass mass) was founded in 1934. Our memorial for her was June 28th. We meet every Thursday; it was our 4,220th. No one could take Our Gracious Host’s place, but I told him that if he couldn’t attend I’d take notes.
On the way I found classical-music radio Station KUSC broadcasting Chopin’s Waltz No. 9 (Op. 59 No. 1, 1835) “L’adieu” played by Garrick Ohlsson.
We’ve been renting the Null Space Labs in North Hollywood. We outgrew our third clubhouse, sold it, and are looking for a fourth. Our meetings start at 8 p.m. This time we thought we ought to serve snacks, so we did that starting at 6.
We’d had another blow that day: Harlan Ellison. He would have a separate memorial.
Club business didn’t take long. Usually a lot is monkey business. We left that out and went on to what the unusually large attendance had come for.
June’s oldest son Bob Konigsberg had been able to visit her from his home in Los Gatos three hundred fifty miles away. I’d sometimes found him at Moffatt House, serenading her. Tonight he told us she loved railroad songs, like “The Wabash Cannonball”.
A gadget in Bob’s hand, coupled with one Matthew Tepper had, let us hear from June’s daughter Caty, still on the road. It’s called Bluetooth, I muttered to Lee Gold, because you put it in your ear. You know it’s named for Harald Gormsson, she muttered back, quite rightly shushing me as I started to explain that the Greek dance Hasapikos (Turkish kasap, a butcher) is so called because sailors do it.
Caty told us she’d seen how much LASFS meant to her mom. As it happened no one broke into “Mutual Admiration Society” but we could have. June and Len were like that too. Caty thanked us all and said she heard us thanking her.
Barbara Gratz Harmon had married Jim Harmon about the time June married Len. They had double-dated. Len and Jim both died in 2010. Tonight Barbara talked about June.
Barbara lives in Burbank; the Moffatts lived in Downey. With Len and Jim gone, June spent Thursday nights after LASFS meetings at Barbara’s, and drove home the next day. Barbara is a cellist in several orchestras. When she had to practice late at night, June took out hearing aids and slept jes’ fine. When Barbara was on jury duty for five months, June had a key to the house. Barbara’s dog Leslie loved her.
June became unable to drive. She passed the written exam but couldn’t see well enough. Carol Sperling, among other things founder of the Blustering Gales, a local Sherlock Holmes club – detective fiction was another Moffatt interest – told us about taking June around.
George McUrso did some of that too. Eventually he had, as regular Thursday night passengers, June, Barbara, Charlie Jackson, and Rowan Dao (who was also the youngest Blustering Gale).
In 1991 George (then using the surname Mulligan) had been given the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the LASFS; he was one of June and Len’s nominators when they were given the Evans-Freehafer in 1994.
Like Carol Sperling, he had other adventures driving June. They went to an Edgar Rice Burroughs fans’ Dum-Dum, and the Orange County Museum of Art. He learned what a great film Oklahoma! was. Once at Clubhouse III he was looking for The Mouse That Roared. After a while June thought it was time to go home. Just then our librarian Gavin Claypool emerged calling that he had it, and The Mouse on the Moon too. June said “Can we get out of here before he finds any more mice?”
Matthew Tepper said June had agented his Lzine when he lived in Minneapolis and San Francisco. She asked him to find music for Len’s LASFS memorial. Tonight he began to play it from a gadget he had – “No, that’s Mussorgsky” – then we heard “I Go Pogo”. The Moffatts were Pogo fans.
Barry Gold had found LASFS in 1964. June’s equanimity and aplomb, he said, had won her the name Mother Jaguar. June and Len made him feel he’d known them for ages. Near the end while visiting her he’d sung “Bouncing Potatoes” and told Bob Konigsberg how Poul Anderson was driven to write it.
Charlie Jackson said he’d just finished re-reading The Wind in the Willows when she died. Comments in her APA-L zine were headed “Onion-Sauce” (ch. 1). With Len and June, he said, as we agreed, seldom was heard a discouraging word.
Ed Green said there was no bigger heart than Len and June’s. They sponsored people, including him. A bright light had gone out.
I said – there was more, but I’ll stop here – Judaism taught that, whatever else after death there may be, the dead live in their good deeds. And we should take the torch.
White irises bloom
In dozens, in their bushes.
We do have seasons.
But I must write about death.
June Moffatt (1926-2018) left us on May 31st – kindly sparing, we might say, the month of her name. She and her husband Len (1923-2010) were exemplary of “The Second Time Around”, the 1960 Sammy Cahn – Jimmy Van Heusen song I associate, like much else, with Frank Sinatra (though introduced by Bing Crosby, whom June preferred).
By our mythos, at least half in jest like much else, they’re together again in After-Fandom. Whether that’s otherwise true is not for me to say.
I never met June’s first husband Eph (“eef”) Konigsberg or Len’s first wife Anna Sinclare Moffatt. Each had, among much else, been active among us.
Much of what comes to mind about June I wrote about Len (Van 913). They were like that. I’ll repeat this: “Conviviality, hospitality were with Len’s wit, amplified, if possible, by June. Together clubmen and party hosts – the suffix -man is not masculine – they also welcomed and sponsored newcomers with open arms, and discernment, for them no paradox. Fine fannish things happened at Moffatt House and when the Moffatts went abroad.”
They were the 1973 Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegates; their TAFF report, mimeographed by Mike Glyer, was The Moffatt House Abroad; the same was true of them at other people’s parties and at conventions – which from the fannish point of view are, we might say, justly deemed to be no less than other people’s parties.
Glyer has a fine note about June; he’d kindly reprinted my note about Len, and has linked to it. June was 92.
I always thought she had good taste: outward from our core, the Oz books, especially Frank Baum’s; the comic strips that charmed us, George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, Walt Kelly’s Pogo – which Judith Merril put in her 6th annual Year’s Best S-F; tangent to us, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe – June and Len were among co-founders of detective fiction’s annual Bouchercon, named for Tony Boucher, so excellent both here and there.
But I was one of those newcomers.
She and Len were active to the ends of their lives in the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society – founded 1934, even then we wanted to be sure of including both science fiction and fantasy. LASFS (to me “lahss fuss”, to Len rhyming with sassmass) hosts Loscon, where she and Len were Fan Guests of Honor in 1981; they were given the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to LASFS in 1994. June was Chairman of the Board when Glyer joined in 1970.
June and Len sometimes invited me to other fannish clubs they took part in; naming two, the Petards, which had a Hoist and Hoistess, and the Prestigious International Gourmand Society, which more than once met at a Farrell’s ice-cream parlor, where Alan Frisbie, who among much else hosted the two mascots of the 42nd World Science Fiction Convention, Reynolds Rat and Rat Masterson, at least once consumed a Trough.
June helped crack hazelnuts for a flourless torte I had something to do with. Hazelnuts are hard. At the time I quite deliberately had no telephone. There was a doorbell, rung by a cord that ran down one storey if you knew where to find it.
Moffatt House had, among much else, a plaque “These Are the Good Old Days”.
Fanwriting to me is best as one word; a girlfriend or boyfriend is not merely a girl or a boy who is a friend. In the s-f community amateur magazines we publish for one another discuss life, the universe, and everything: by the 1940s we called them fanzines. They may sometimes seem never to mention s-f; but a love of s-f, and a sense of participation, are the string on which the beads of fanwriting are strung.
We did not invent apas, but our first was FAPA the Fantasy Amateur Press Association, founded 1937, still ongoing. Others followed. Originally they seemed a convenient way to circulate fanzines. Eventually apazines took on a life of their own.
The Moffatts’ FAPAzine was Moonshine. Their Lzine De Jueves (Spanish, “Of Thursdays”, APA-L being collated at but not by LASFS, which since 1934 has met on Thursdays) ran through No. 2084, until the end of 2017, mostly by June, after 2010 by her alone except that Len was always with her in spirit.
She shone with fanwriting virtues, intelligence, responsiveness, good humor, a light touch, reaching the new and the old; she avoided our too-typical vices, retaliation, garrulity, unignition, unfocus; in APA-L, weekly over forty years, a feat. Had she achieved nothing else she would have earned our awe. She would have declined it. She can’t now.
She was my longest-time friend in fandom. I loved Len, and I loved her. Writing about death I have written about life. June was like that. Goodbye.
June attended her first LASFS meeting in 1947. By the time I joined in 1970 she was chair of the Board of Directors. Her maturity, compassion, and wisdom made her one of the club’s most admired and respected members.
June married Eph Konigsberg in 1949 and together they had three children Robert (Bob), Katie, and Jerry. June had little opportunity to visit the club for the next decade. After June and Eph divorced in 1964 she resumed going to LASFS meetings. That also was the year the club started APA-L, the weekly amateur publishing association, and June became a faithful contributor for decades.
Fred Pattenn and June Moffatt collating APA-L.
Len Moffatt, himself a LASFS member since 1946, married June in 1966. They both participated in club leadership, alternating terms on the LASFS Board of Directors, and serving in other offices.
Len and June were elected the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegates in 1973. Their TAFF trip report, The Moffatt House Abroad, which I mimeographed and slip-sheeted on the LASFS mimeo (!), for thirty years enjoyed the distinction of being the only full-length North American TAFF report completed and published.
Len and June also were active in mystery fandom. In 1965 they started publishing The JDM Bibliophile, about John D. MacDonald (who wrote in multiple genres, but was especially known for his Travis McGee detective series). And as Sherlock Holmes aficianados, they were members in the Blustering Gales of the SW and the Curious Collectors of Baker St.
In 1970, they co-founded Bouchercon, and chaired three of them. Today the convention is called Bouchercon: World Mystery Convention.
June in the 1970s. Photo by Bill Warren.
As part of another subfandom, she and Len were charter members of the Los Angeles SubERBs chapter of the Burroughs Bibliophiles.
(1) DUFF DEADLINE. Down Under Fan Fund nominations for the 2018 race close January 31. If you’re interested, or have someone else lined up, hop to it!
Nominations are now open for a Down Under Fan Fund delegate from Australia or New Zealand to travel either to San Jose, California, USA for the 76th World Science Fiction Convention, 16–20 August 2018, or to other major conventions in North America in 2018.
(2) EARLY COSPLAY AND THE LA WORLDCON OF 1946. SyFy Wire’s Carol Pinchefsky goes beyond the Ackerman/Douglas collaboration in “Firsts: The first cosplay took place at the first-ever con… in 1939”, drawing on other anecdotes collected by John. L. Coker III, sf historian and editor of the nonfiction book Tales of the Time Travelers: The Adventures of Forrest J. Ackerman and Julius Schwartz:
Coker interviewed other First Fans for Tales of the Time Travelers. Author and fan Len J. Moffatt discussed yet another “first” … the first recorded cosplay fail, which took place at the fourth Worldcon, in 1946:
“[Fan] Dale Hart [pictured above] was an excellent Gray Lensman in a silver-gray form-fitting costume like the Astounding cover by Rogers. The problem was that it was so tight that he could not sit down or dare to bend over.”
Moffatt may also have created another “first” at Pacificon I, the first cosplay routine:
“While at Slan Shack on Bixel Street earlier, I had borrowed some of Myrtle’s green make-up, combed my hair over my ears and turned up my jacket collar to become a comical vampire. I made a better impression earlier when friends carried me into a meeting hall and deposited my rigid body on some lined-up folding chairs. I lay there a long time with eyes closed and hands folded on my chest listening to the wondering remarks of passers-by.”
Fëanor the Spirit of Fire was the most gifted of all the Elves in linguistic lore. He could use language so well that his speeches affected those who heard them and inspired them to do different, though not always sensible, things. Thus, being gifted with words and able to use them potently, Finwë’seldest son was also exceptionally good at insulting others.
Sippy Awards for Excellent I Don’t Know What in Short SFF
What does it mean? Well, part of the point of this category is…I’m not sure. These are stories that defy conventional definitions and categorization. These are the ones that slip between genres and expectations. They’re…well, a lot of them are weird, but beautiful. Haunting, but fun. Deep and complex and brilliant in the ways they innovate and inspire. So without further delay…
(5) LEADING BY EXAMPLE. Lisa Goldstein’s tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin tells how much she meant to girls who wanted to write science fiction and fantasy:
…Her characters were so real and rounded they became people you wanted to know. She wrote beautifully, in a field where most writing ranged from serviceable to awkward. And she was not just smart but wise, someone who could get to the heart of a subject with a few well-chosen words. I was looking through my copy of The Language of the Night this week and found this: “Fantasy is true, of course. It isn’t factual, but it is true.”
So I began to think that I could actually do this science-fiction thing. After all, here was a woman who was, IMHO, doing it better than any male writer. (And around the same time there were also Joanna Russ and Kate Wilhelm and Carol Emshwiller — and James Tiptree, or course, but we didn’t know her secret then.) She gave me, and any number of other girls reading science fiction in those years, the courage to try….
The live action TV series has two new astronauts stranded on future/parallel earth. In this version, there are human villages-not quite as primitive as the original movies movies-ruled over by Apes as governors and guards. The two astronauts are assisted by another Ape who believes humans are capable of more. It’s a run of the mill action adventure with the planet of the apes spin. Entertaining, but not outstanding. It was, unfortunately, an expensive show and cancelled after 14 episodes.
(7) BEST OF 2016. Greg Hullender notes Rocket Stack Rank is continuing their analysis of the best science fiction and fantasy short fiction from 2016. In the latest installment, they turn their attention to —“2016 Best SF/F Short Fiction Authors”.
Out of 602 authors, fully 74% had only one story published in our survey of 887 stories, so we’re picking from a huge diversity of authors.
On the other hand, there’s remarkable consistency among our pool of recommenders: 72% of recommendations went to the top 20% of authors, and 40% got no recommendations at all. It’s true that different reviewers have different opinions, but it’s also true that there’s a sort of broad consensus around who the best authors are.
(8) WHOHIKER. Andrew Hickey reviews Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen, the book by James Goss based on a possible Doctor Who film script by Douglas Adams. It is a positive review with a caveat:
So you can be fairly sure that if you’re the kind of person who would even vaguely consider maybe reading a book like this, you’ll come away having read a book that at least matches your expectations, and maybe exceeds them.
(9) NOT APOLITICAL. How some people were spared persecution in WWII. The thread starts here –
This is a thread for those of you who say coders and developers should take no role in politics. Those of you who watched my #WCLDN talk last year already heard this story. You can hear it again.
And here’s one of the reasons you’ll want to read it:
On #HolocaustMemorialDay , as the people in the data we collect and store and share face threats we never thought we would see again, you need to be prepared to go that far when the day comes when it is you handling the data.
(10) SMITH OBIT. Mark E. Smith, the leader and singer/songwriter of influential British post-punk band The Fall, died January 24 at the age of 60. In his last interview a reporter for The Guardian asked whether he saw the most recent Blade Runner since he was a “big fan” of Philip K. Dick movies. As usual, Smith was not exactly diplomatic:
I think the original Blade Runner is the most obscene film ever made, I fucking hated it. The Man in the High Castle is one of my favourite books; how they fucked that TV show up I don’t know. It gets blander and blander. In the book the level of comprehension of that world is fucking astounding, in the show it’s just everybody going around normally except they’ve got swastika armbands on. The only good Philip K Dick film is Total Recall, it’s faithful to the book. Arnie gets it. I was physically sick watching A Scanner Darkly, it was like an episode of Cheers painted over except they all smoke dope and imagine women with no clothes on.
(11) TODAY IN HISTORY
January 28, 1986 — At 11:38 a.m. EST the space shuttle Challenger lifts off from Cape Canaveral, then explodes.
(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS
Born January 28, 1959 – Frank Darabont
Born January 28, 1981 – Elijah Wood, who played Frodo in the Lord of the Rings movies.
(13) COMICS SECTION.
Michael J. Walsh, Mike Kennedy, and John King Tarpinian all saw what happens when a young writer picks sf, in Non Sequitur.
John King Tarpinian found a mock terrifying surprise in Lio.
Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti trilogy is now complete: The Night Masquerade is the final instalment in a series she’s described as “African girl leaves home. African girl returns home. African girl becomes home.” It’s a beautiful proposed structure, a Hero’s Journey that rings truer for me than Joseph Campbell’s, resonating deeply with my experiences of diaspora, roots, and community. Binti left her Himba family on Earth in order to travel to Oomza University, far beyond the stars; she left Oomza in an attempt to manage her trauma and find herself again in the deserts of her home; and there, in the desert, she incorporated new revelations about her history into the anthology of herself, before being shocked into an awareness of impending doom.
The Maze Runner is the rare series that has improved with each installment, expanding beyond the organic pen of the first film into a bigger and more thrillingly realized science fiction sandbox. Though its young leads are mostly blah, the franchise has steadily accumulated character actors to liven things up, like Gillen, Esposito, and Pepper in the second film and now Walton Goggins in the third as the deformed leader of the Cranks. While Ball tries for too much in the needlessly protracted finale, he’s supremely confident in staging the action sequences, which usually rely on a meticulously orchestrated set of circumstances.
To understand what’s happening in the tech world today, you need to look back to the mid-1800s, when a Frenchman named Paul Bert made a discovery that was as gruesome as it was fascinating.
In his experiment, rodents were quite literally stitched together in order to share bloodstreams. Soon after he found the older mice started showing signs of rejuvenation: better memory, improved agility, an ability to heal more quickly. In later years, researchers at institutions like Stanford would reinforce this work.
The extraordinary technique became known as parabiosis, and forms the basis of efforts at Alkahest, a California start-up that is banking on being able to apply those rejuvenative effects to people, rather than mice. It’s an idea so fantastical it wouldn’t look out of place in an episode of Silicon Valley, the HBO send-up of the start-up scene.
It turns out that Jones’ impressive costume and makeup (and his equally impressive performance) only accounts for part of what we see on-screen. Trey Harrell, CG supervisor at visual effects house Mr. X, told me, “Every single shot of the film where you see the creature is a visual effects shot.”
After all, Harrell said that while “Doug is an amazing actor,” his face was also hidden under “an inch of and a half of foam latex.” So at the very least, Mr. X had to create the merman’s eye and face movements. In other instances, like when the merman was viewed swimming inside the lab’s capsule, Mr. X was responsible for the entire creature.
Guillermo del Toro has been accused of stealing the storyline of “Shape of Water” from Pulitzer-winning playwright Paul Zindel.
David Zindel, the son of the playwright, who died in 2003, claims del Toro’s story is taken from his father’s 1969 “Let Me Hear You Whisper,” about “a female janitor in a research laboratory who bonds with a captive dolphin and tries to rescue the creature.”
“We are shocked that a major studio could make a film so obviously derived from my late father’s work without anyone recognizing it and coming to us for the rights,” Zindel told the Guardian.
… Fox Searchlight denied that the “Shape of Water” storyline was stolen.
“Guillermo del Toro has never read nor seen Mr. Zindel’s play in any form. Mr. del Toro has had a 25 year career during which he has made 10 feature films and has always been very open about acknowledging his influences,” a spokesman told the Guardian.
After years in darkness, a NASA satellite is phoning home.
Some 12 years since it was thought lost because of a systems failure, NASA’s Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) has been discovered, still broadcasting, by an amateur astronomer. The find, which he reported in a blog post this week, presents the possibility that NASA could revive the mission, which once provided unparalleled views of Earth’s magnetosphere.
The astronomer, Scott Tilley, spends his free time following the radio signals from spy satellites. On this occasion, he was searching in high-Earth orbit for evidence of Zuma, a classified U.S. satellite that’s believed to have failed after launch. But rather than discovering Zuma, Tilley picked up a signal from a satellite labeled “2000-017A,” which he knew corresponded to NASA’s IMAGE satellite. Launched in 2000 and then left for dead in December 2005, the $150 million mission was back broadcasting. It just needed someone to listen.
HEINLEIN, ROBERT A. The Day After Tomorrow. New York: Signet – New American Library, 1964. First Paperback Edition. Signed and inscribed by Robert A. Heinlein with a superb inscription to his publisher: “To Kurt Enoch, President of N.A.L. With books as with icebergs it is the unseen 7/8-s which permits the 1/8 to be seen. Thanks! Bob Heinlein”. Originally published as Sixth Column, this copy is enclosed in a custom cloth clamsell box. Paperbound, very good clean copy. From the library of Dr. Kurt Enoch (1895-1982) who was a noted German publisher, forced to flee the Nazis, landing in New York in 1940. In 1948, Dr. Enoch co-founded and became President of New American Library – Signet Books which became one of the successful and acclaimed post-war publishing houses. Enoch went on to become one of the most highly regarded figures in American book publishing.
(21) YOUR MOVE. The mention in yesterday’s Scroll about Richard Paolinelli asking someone to guess his chess ranking inspired this parody of “One Night in Bangkok” (from Chess) by Matthew Johnson (and the last two lines by Soon Lee):
Twitter’s gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than if you go
To San Jose for a cruddy old Hugo
I don’t see you guys making
The nine-dimensional move I’m contemplating
I’d let you watch, I would invite you
But our Gargoyles DVDs would not excite you
So you’d better go back to your Files, your SFWA forums,
Your cat cafes
One night in genre and worlds are your oyster
The Scrolls are Pixels and the comment’s free
My pups are friendly and their noses moister
No politics in SF history
I can feel Bob Heinlein walking next to me
His mistresses are harsh, and his lunch ain’t free.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Soon Lee, Cat Eldridge, Martin Morse Wooster, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, Rob Thornton, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Steve Davidson.]
By John Hertz: The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, my local club, has been meeting every Thursday over eighty years. Most of us rhyme “LASFS” with joss fuss although Len Moffatt always rhymed it with sass mass.
People often come for the business meeting and leave before the program. That’s because our business is monkey business. We have strange motions – I mean, in the parliamentary sense; File 770 is a public forum – and auctions. Maybe your club does also.
Last night the program was Harlan Ellison. Of course the room was crammed.
We didn’t call it “An Evening with Harlan Ellison”. We didn’t call it anything. He told us he’d like to come by, didn’t mind if we let people know, and would gladly take questions and give autographs if we didn’t make a performing elephant of him. I paraphrase.
Of course he’s a LASFS member. While he’s become a tremendous celebrity as a pro he’s also a fan. Among many other things he brought about the faithful contributions of Nalrah Nosille to Science Fiction Five-Yearly – published on time for sixty years – until the very last issue.
Of course he’s good at telling stories – he says Whoopi Goldberg, a friend of his, is too – and so many of us wanted to hear him we ended up seating him at a table on a platform with most everyone just listening. It was all right.
Our current clubhouse (our third; we outgrew two others) also has a social hall, a computer-game room, and our library. We even have a Null Space; one very able member was Bob Null. Fans also hung around these spaces from time to time, including John DeChancie, me, and Harlan’s wife Susan who is herself a wonder. He couldn’t; he was busy. But it was all right. In fact it was a gas.
I don’t know if Harlan was born in a cross-fire hurricane. He was however reading by two – maybe you were also – and like many of the quick and the young he perceived and might answer more than he yet grasped. Once someone told him “Don’t hock me a chainik” (a Yiddishism, literally don’t bang me a teapot = make such a fuss) and he said “Okay, I’ll pawn you in Poughkeepsie.”
Dennis the Menace, he said, to him was Goldilocks.
Later he served in the Army. Just conceiving of this roused our imagination. He was court-martialed fifteen times. Acquitting him, which always happened, didn’t seem to make things much better. At the end of his active duty he found nothing in his folder about where he was to go for reserve duty. Everyone else had an assignment. He asked. They said “Just go away.”
Some of the legends about him never happened. He is not always the calmest man in the world and he has found their recurrence troubling. He told of a fellow who during another question time asked “Why did you drop that chandelier on those people?” To that man, and to us, he explained what he’d have had to do to get at a chandelier, to detach it, and to drop it. And what would those people have been doing in the meantime? And what place would he have had to stand on to wield that lever and move that world? I paraphrase.
Finally Susan, in her role as Mary Poppins, said it was time to go home. Of course there were new books and we wanted to buy them. Of course he preferred to sell some but was almost apologetic. Finally Jerry Pournelle managed it by asking “Harlan, if they buy your books will you tell us why you dropped that chandelier?” We all cracked up and it was all right.
By John Hertz (reprinted from Vanamonde 913): I gave him a gilt bottle of mimeograph correction fluid for his 50th birthday. I dressed as Auguste Dupin for him in a presentation at the detective-fiction convention Bouchercon the year he co-chaired. I drank Chivas Regal with him. Len Moffatt was of First Fandom, that happy band active among us at least as early as the first World Science Fiction Convention in 1939. Born in Arizona, by his teens he was a founder of the Western Pennsylvania Science Fictioneers, doing fanzines – a word not yet invented – and corresponding with fans around the United States and United Kingdom. In World War II he joined the Navy like his ancestors and served as a hospital-corpsman with the Marines; he was in Nagasaki after the atomic bomb. In 1946 he joined the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. He always pronounced LASFS to rhyme with mass sass. He did a lot of rhyming, sometimes as the clown Pike Pickens, sometimes clowning himself.
Some fans sell s-f, some become quite active as pros. In 1949 the LASFS began a yearly Fanquet honoring the member who sold the most words in the previous year. Moffatt tied for that honor in 1951. In 2004 the LASFS gave him its Forry Award, named after Forry Ackerman, for lifetime achievement in s-f, putting him in the company of Ray Bradbury, Kelly Freas, and C.L. Moore. In 2008 his poem “What a Friend We Have in Sherlock” appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Detective fiction has long been our next-door neighbor. Bouchercon, of which Len and his second wife June were co-founders, was named for Tony Boucher, a top and if I may say so tony editor and author there and here. It gave them its Anthony Award for lifetime achievement in 1999.
Len was probably Rick Sneary’s best friend. Both were active in the Outlanders, one of the many s-f clubs outside the LASFS – often overlapping the LASFS membership – that have flourished from time to time. Sneary lived in South Gate. In 1948 he began, first as a joke, the slogan South Gate in ’58. It caught on. The Worldcon moves around so as to be each year in someone’s back yard. In 1957 the con was in London. It voted for South Gate. Be careful what you wish. Luckily the mayors of South Gate and Los Angeles by joint proclamation constituted the premises of the Hotel Alexandria as South Gate for the duration and purposes of the Worldcon. The con was called “Solacon” in honor of the combination. It also combined with that year’s Westercon, the West Coast Science Fantasy Conference. Len was in the thick of it all. A decade and a half later he was Fan Guest of Honor at Westercon XXV.
Besides fanzines we have apas, amateur publishing associations, which distribute fanzines. We did not invent apas but we gave them our own life. Our first was the Fantasy Amateur Press Association, older than Worldcons. The distinction between science fiction and fantasy has long been known and blurred. The Moffatt FAPAzine was Moonshine. This was appropriate. Among Len’s achievements was fan fiction – in our sense, i.e. fiction about fans – that Terry Carr thought was factual anecdote. Len and June were in APA-L, much younger than FAPA, over thirty years until Len’s death. June still is.
Conviviality, hospitality were with Len’s wit, amplified, if possible, by June. Together clubmen and party hosts – the suffix -man is not masculine – they also welcomed and sponsored newcomers with open arms, and discernment, for them no paradox. Fine fannish things happened at Moffatt House and when the Moffatts went abroad. They went well abroad in 1973 as the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegates, nominated by Terry Jeeves, Ethel Lindsay, Juanita Coulson. Fred Patten, and Roy Tackett. attending the British national s-f con, and publishing their TAFF report in good time. In 1981 they were Fan Guests of Honor at our local s-f con Loscon. In 1994 they were given the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the LASFS. Shortly before I had the honor of co-editing with them the Rick Sneary memorial fanzine Button-Tack. It seems like yesterday.