Top Newsmakers of 2011

Mainstream news websites usually do this kind of retrospective at the end of each year. Few fan newswriters do, but seeing Michael Hinman at Airlock Alpha have so much fun with his edition I decided to give it a whirl. It’s not a ha-ha kind of fun, for some items are rather sad, it’s the challenge and exercise of fannish creativity that makes such projects fun. 

So I now present File 770‘s choice of the 10 most significant sf & f newsmakers of 2011: 

Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury seeing Rachel Bloom’s video for the first time.

Rachel Bloom’s “F*** Me, Ray Bradbury” music video received a Hugo nomination but lost to a Doctor Who episode. John King Tarpinian complained so vehemently (in private e-mails) that I ran a case study of the runoff vote for him. There was little suspense involved — as Who episodes were eliminated their votes were redistributed to the remaining Who episodes until one prevailed. (V*** for Me, Ray Bradbury!, Inside the 2011 Hugo Voting Statistics, Rachel Bloom at Renovation).

Bradbury made a more orthodox impact on the internet when, for the first time, his novel Fahrenheit 451 could be purchased in electronic format (Harder To Burn This Way).

This past year Bradbury fans had a chance to rent his old Palm Springs home (Rent Bradbury’s Old Palm Springs Retreat), drink a cocktail named after his book Fahrenheit 451 (Heat Ray) or listen to online reruns of his radio plays (CART Broadcasts “The October Country”).

This beloved writer quietly marked his 91st birthday in August (Ray Bradbury Turns 91).

Mike Glicksohn

Mike Glicksohn accepts Susan Wood’s Hugo, which she won posthumously in 1981. Photo by Andrew Porter.

The loss of Mike Glicksohn, a pillar of his generation, forced many of my contemporaries into the unpleasant realization that a network of friends and acquaintances we have been expanding all our lives has begun to contract.

An iconic figure at conventions with his flowing beard and Australian bush hat, Glicksohn passed away on March 18 after suffering a stroke. This came at the end of a years-long struggle with cancer. He was 64. (Mike Glicksohn (1946-2011), Service for Mike Glicksohn, Murray Moore: Glicksohn Memorial Report, Andrew Porter: Mike Glicksohn Photo Gallery, Taral Wayne: After the Piper Played).

Stephen Jones and the British Fantasy Awards

Sam Stone, who returned a British Fantasy Award.

Renowned horror editor Stephen Jones went home from the British Fantasy Awards ceremony at Fantasycon and wrote “Putting the ‘Con’ Into Fantasycon,” accusing awards administrator David Howe with a conflict of interest because he is a partner in Telos, the publisher of two BFA-winning stories and winner of Best Small Press, and also is the domestic partner of Sam Stone, winner of two fiction BFA’s. The ensuing controversy led Howe to resign as chair of the British Fantasy Society and Stone to announce she was returning one of her BFA’s. Novelist Graham Joyce succeeded as acting chair of the BFS. (Along Came Jones, Stone’s Beau Geste, Howe Quits as Chair of BFS, Re: Joyce).

Ed Kramer


Dragon*Con founder Ed Kramer, who for the past decade has delayed trial on child molestation charges in Georgia by arguing he is too ill to participate in his own defense, was arrested in Connecticut after authorities were tipped that he was staying in a motel room with a 14-year-old boy. He was charged by Milford Police with misdemeanor reckless endangerment of a child and is currently fighting extradition to Georgia. The Gwinett County District Attorney contrasted Kramer’s last appearance in a Georgia court, leaning heavily on a cane and breathing oxygen through a mask, with the description given by three witnesses in Connecticut who say they saw him hiking on trails, not using a cane or his breathing apparatus. (Kramer Arrested in Connecticut, Kramer Pretrial Hearing Today, Kramer Freed on Bond in Connecticut, DragonCon founder Ed Kramer on a $250K bond, Kramer Extradition Hearing Delayed, Kramer Fights Extradition, Kramer in Jail Awaiting Extradition Hearing).

Borders Books

Fans watched Borders Books go into its death throes with a morbid fascination, reluctant to part company with a place that had been so important to their reading experiences over the years, yet certain paper booksellers were being shouldered aside by electronic book distributors. (Is Borders Circling the Drain?, Free Associating About Borders, Borders Files for Bankruptcy, Borders Writing the Next Chapter — Eleven, Vendor Writes Off Borders Bad Debt, Today Is Borders Last Day).

Shaun Tan

Aussiecon Four Artist GoH Shaun Tan won the Oscar in the Best Short Film (Animation) category for The Lost Thing, based on his book. (Shaun Tan Wins Oscar). He is the first former Worldcon GoH to win the award in competition. Roger Corman received an Academy Honorary Award from AMPAS in 2009, which is the same Oscar statuette.

He also won the 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children’s and young adult literature (Shaun Tan Wins Children’s Lit Award).  Melbourne-based Tan has illustrated more than 20 books, including The Rabbits (1998), The Lost Thing (2000), The Red Tree (2001), The Arrival (2006) and Tales from Outer Suburbia (2008).

Harlan Ellison

If Harlan Ellison is there, it’s news. If he’s absent, it’s news. His sayings are news. So are his silences.  

The absences have been especially worrying to Ellison-watchers. Harlan declared his final con appearance of 2010 as his last. And despite being slated to receive the 2011 J. Lloyd Eaton Lifetime Achievement Award in Science Fiction in person he was unable to attend due to poor health (Ellison To Miss Eaton Conference). He likewise missed his induction to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame (Ellison Added to SF Hall of Fame, Ellison’s Health Overshadows Hall of Fame Induction).  

But after making only one public appearance in the past four years Harlan sold out LA’s Silent Movie Theater for a talk on November 15, also seen online by 2000 viewers. (Tarpinian: Harlan’s Back!)

Otherwise there was an incessant drumbeat of Ellison news throughout the year. He sold his typewriter (Jamie Ford Buys Ellison’s First Typewriter), was listed as one of SF’s Tough Interviews, and was allegedly referenced in the movie Paul (Ellison Reference in Paul? — though File 770 readers who saw it unanimously deny the claim). Burt Pretlusky wrote a memoir about authoring an episode of Jack Webb’s strident cop show Dragnet, saying that immediately after it aired Harlan Ellison called, snarled “I never knew you were a fascist!” and hung up (Harlan Ellison’s Hang-Up).

The evil done to Harlan Ellison’s television scripts by cigar-chomping producers has long been part of his (and Cordwainer Bird’s) legend. So it was news that the master’s own versions of these scripts would be published (In the Original Babylonian), the prose as it came directly from his Olympia manual typewriter.

Of greatest interest was Ellison’s latest copyright infringement suit alleging that In Time was based on Ellison’s 1965 short story “’Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” (“Repent, Timberlake!” Said the Lawyerman). Just when it looked as if Harlan would extend his legal winning streak (Ellison Registers T.K.O.) the announcement was denied by the defendant’s lawyer (Niccol’s Attorney Answers the Bell) and we were suddenly left pointing fingers at the source of the bogus report (Internet Journalism at Its Most).

George R. R. Martin

George R.R. Martin has long been the kind of writer who connects with fans on a deeper level. As a result we’re not just fans of his stories but of his career. We cheer his mass media successes and mourn his defeats, the TV shows launched and canceled over the years, the best sellers, that kind of thing. (It’s Time, George) This year has been an uninterrupted triumphal march. He was named to the Time 100 (George R.R. Martin Makes TIME 100) and declared USA Today’s author of the year.

His merely finishing the manuscript of his latest novel A Dance With Dragons was big news (Alert the Media). When actually published, stores sold vast numbers of the novel (New GRRM Book Flying Off Shelves, GRRM a Kindle Millionaire). All things Martin turned to gold – Syfy and Universal Pictures acquired the film rights to the unrelated anthology series Wild Cards (Wild Cards Movie in the Works).

Terry Pratchett

Sir Terry Pratchett’s views about euthanasia have received constant attention from the mundane media while going unremarked here. However, he was so often in the news for his writing and other professional activities that Pratchett’s doings continued to be of utmost significance to genre reporters.

His writing for teens earned him the Margaret A. Edwards Award (Pratchett Wins 2011 Edwards Award). He even launched an award named for himself — the  Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize. (Pratchett Award Shortlist Announced, Pratchett Picks Prize Winners).  

Sir Terry also came to the U.S. to promote his latest Discworld novel, Snuff, and made a surprise visit at Capclave (Pratchett Coming to America, Pratchett at Capclave).

Chris Garcia and James Bacon

Chris Garcia’ & James Bacon’s The Drink Tank was the first real fanzine to win the Hugo in three years. The video of Chris’s super-emotional reaction went viral, getting over 43,000 views. His hometown San Jose paper also paid tribute (Media Covers Garcia’s Hugo Win).

That would have been enough newsmaking for anyone else in an average year, but Chris and James were also on the verge of putting out The Drink Tank #300.The issue appeared in November: 320 contributions filling 272 pages.

The dynamic duo has inspired some individual news items, too, like Why Chris Has the Coolest Job, about his interview in Obsolete Gamer, and alerts about James Bacon’s items on Forbidden Planet like China Miéville on Comics.

Update 01/01/2012: Lowered the “c” in Aussiecon 4 to half-mast.

How the Hugos Avoid Conflicts of Interest

The British Fantasy Awards became mired in controversy when Stephen Jones charged a conflict of interest between the administrator and several winners. That prompted a few fans to suggest fixing the BFA by borrowing rules from the Hugo Awards.

The Hugo Awards do have an excellent reputation for avoiding such conflicts, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s because of the superior draftsmanship of the rules. The real reason is that over the years many different people have steered clear of conflicts that the rules do not prevent.

What Is a Conflict of Interest? A conflict of interest exists when anyone exploits his/her official capacity for personal benefit.

The Hugo Awards are run under a set of rules that is extremely wary of conflicts of interest. The WSFS Constitution excludes the entire Worldcon committee from winning a Hugo unless these conditions are met:

Section 3.12: Exclusions. No member of the current Worldcon Committee or any publications closely connected with a member of the Committee shall be eligible for an Award. However, should the Committee delegate all authority under this Article to a Subcommittee whose decisions are irrevocable by the Worldcon Committee, then this exclusion shall apply to members of the Subcommittee only.

To avoid disqualifying the whole Committee – upwards of 200 people, most having nothing to do with the Hugos – the Worldcon chair generally appoints the fans who count the votes and apply the eligibility rules to a Subcommittee. So if some minor member of the concom wins a Hugo, as I did while serving as editor of L.A.con II’s daily newzine in 1984, it’s no problem.

From the beginning the WSFS Constitution (1962-1963) has banned all committee members from eligibility for the Hugos. To my knowledge, the rule was modified in the 1970s by adding the option of an autonomous Subcommittee. People thought it should have been unnecessary for Mike Glicksohn to resign from the TorCon 2 (1973) committee rather than forego the chance for his and Susan Wood Glicksohn’s Energumen to compete for the Hugo, which they indeed won.

The modified rule has worked to everyone’s satisfaction for a number of reasons having little to do with its precision. Worldcons once were commonly led by people also involved with Hugo contending fanzines, which has rarely happened in the past 40 years. On those rare occasions the people involved have taken it upon themselves to avoid any conflicts.

For example, many fans involved with running Noreascon Three (1989) wrote for The Mad 3 Party in the years leading up to the con. Edited by Leslie Turek, TM3P was nominated for Best Fanzine in 1988, withdrawn in 1989, and won a Hugo in 1990. Noreascon Three did appoint a Hugo Subcommittee, of unassailable integrity — in my mind, if TM3P had competed in 1989 and won a Hugo there would have been no reason to doubt the result. The committee, however, felt they needed to go beyond what was required in the rules to preserve an appearance of fairness and TM3P was withdrawn.

When I chaired L.A.con III (1996) friends reminded me that I could remain eligible for a Hugo by delegating responsibility for the awards to a Subcommittee. I felt invested in and responsible for everything that was happening with the con, so for me it was never an option to act as if the Hugos weren’t a part of that. I did appoint a Subcommittee – and put myself on it, announcing that I was withdrawing from the awards for 1996.

So the anti-conflict rule works because people make it work. It is not an infallible rule. In fact, I agree with a comment made by drplokta on Nicholas Whyte’s From the Heart of Europe that it would be hypothetically possible for something similar to this year’s BFA situation to play out in the Hugos without violating the rule.   

[Hugo Subcommittee members’] partners are eligible though, and I guess if a Hugo subcommittee member ran a publishing house then the books that they publish would be eligible, since the nomination would be for the author and not for the publisher.

In short, it’s a good rule to have, but it’s not all-encompassing as some have assumed in recommending it to fix the BFAs. 

The Hugo Awards Conflict of Interest Trivia Quiz: When I made my decision to withdraw in 1996 I doubted that other Worldcon chairs had ever faced the same choice. But they did. I’ll share what I’ve discovered in the answers to this two-question trivia quiz.

Question 1: How many times has the chair of the current year’s Worldcon won a Hugo?

(a) Once
(b) Twice
(c) Never

There’s been such controversy about the chair of the British Fantasy Society’s close association with 5 of this year’s award winners — for example, he is a partner in the publisher that won Best Small Press – that you’d have to assume it would be impossible for a Worldcon chairman to win a Hugo at his own con without raising a historic stink, right? Wrong.

Answer to Question 1: Once. Loncon I (1957) was chaired by Ted Carnell. The winner of the Hugo for Best British Professional Magazine was New Worlds edited by John Edward Carnell. The same person.

Ted Carnell is the only chair to win a Hugo at his own Worldcon. And it appears everyone was content. Harry Warner’s history of Fifties fandom, A Wealth of Fable, doesn’t contain the least hint of controversy. Neither do any of the conreports from Loncon I collected on Rob Hansen’s website.

Sometimes in the award’s early days the chair of the Worldcon administered the Hugos and counted the votes. That may not have been the case in 1957. The progress reports directed members to send their Achievement Award ballots to the convention secretary Roberta Wild. The chair winning a major award might still have been questioned but I’ve found no record of any complaint. In all my time in fandom I’ve never heard anybody say a bad word about that having happened.

Ted White, the 1967 Worldcon chair who responded to some questions for this article, agrees: “I have never heard anyone say anything disparaging about it either.  It was a bit too obviously deserved. Fandom was a lot smaller then, and even smaller in the UK.  Carnell wore several hats.  I met him in 1965. A quiet, unassuming, gentle and generous man.”

Question 2: How many times has a Worldcon chair won a Hugo the year before or after their con?

(a) 2
(b) 4
(c) 8

Answer to Question 2: 4 times.

Many Worldcon chairs and their committees were connected with award-winning fanzines over the years. Before the Internet that was the best medium for building fannish communities and wooing voters.  

(1) Wally Weber was a co-editor of Cry of the Nameless, the Best Fanzine Hugo winner in 1960, the year before he chaired Seacon (1961). Cry was not a nominee in 1961 but was back as a finalist in 1962. So was the zine kept out of contention the year they hosted the Worldcon? Wally Weber isn’t certain but he thinks they might have:

As for the 1961 Hugos, I remember a discussion and decision that Cry be disqualified due to the unusually large percentage of the eligible voters being from the Seattle area and who had never read a fanzine other than Cry. Unfortunately my memory is often more creative than accurate and I have no documentation to back that up. I do not even remember who participated in making the decision. I don’t even remember how the voting was done or who counted the ballots. Did we have official ballots? I would think such a decision would have been mentioned in one of the progress reports if, indeed, there actually had been such a decision. Maybe votes for Cry were just discarded during the counting processes.

(2) The 1961 fanzine Hugo winner was Earl Kemp’s Who Killed Science Fiction. The next year Kemp chaired Chicon III (1962). However, as I’m sure you already know, Who Killed Science Fiction was the most famous one-shot in the history of sf. It obviously wasn’t a factor in the Hugos when he chaired the Worldcon.

(3) George Scithers chaired Discon I (1963) in Washington, D.C. He edited Amra from 1959 to 1982. It won the Hugo in 1964. Since it had never been nominated for the Hugo in any prior year it’s difficult to guess whether he took any special steps to keep it off the ballot when he chaired the Worldcon in 1963. None of the committee members who might know are still with us – Scithers, Bob Pavlat and Dick Eney. One thing we do know is that he wouldn’t have permitted his zine to be placed on the ballot because he’s one of the people who helped write the anti-conflict rule into the original WSFS Constitution of 1962-1963.

(4) Ted White co-chaired NyCon 3 (1967), the Worldcon which originated the Best Fan Writer and Best Fan Artist Hugos. He also worked for F&SF at the time. Ted says: “F&SF withdrew itself; this was not a NyCon3 committee decision. Ed Ferman [the editor] had a nice sense of propriety.”

Ted says he didn’t take any steps to stay off the ballot in the fan categories the year he chaired the Worldcon. “I did not withdraw myself from the Fanwriter category (nor make any announcements to that effect) because I did not regard it as necessary. I wasn’t nominated that year, obviating the question.  My win the following year surprised me.” However, he probably did not need to make any announcement: people would have been aware of the anti-conflict rule in the Constitution.

White and F&SF both won Hugos the following year, 1968.

[Special thanks to Robert Lichtman and Ted White, as well as Darrell Schweitzer, Peggy Rae Sapienza, Michael J. Walsh, Elinor Busby and Wally Weber for their assistance in researching this article.]

Taral Wayne: After the Piper Played

By Taral Wayne: I see that Murray has already reported on Mike Glicksohn’s Funeral at, and left little behind that I can add.

Worse, I hardly heard a word of the service.  I arrived almost exactly at seven, in time to see the piper in his kilts and bearskin, skirling “Amazing Grace.”  Next thing I knew I was being seated in a pew next to Shirley Meier.  At the altar, a woman had begun to sing an unfamiliar solo.  There was an unobtrusive prayer.  Susan Manchester spoke, then Mike’s brother,  Manning.  Mike Harper took the microphone next, and finally Robert Sawyer.  A number of other people paid their last respects from an open mike passed around.  Now and then I would make out a tantalizing “Mike” or “atheist” or “avocado” but never enough to piece together a coherent thought. 

After the service I talked with Robert Sawyer about this.  Being familiar with my hearing loss, Rob was aware that I probably heard nothing of what he said.  But he added that it was a weak mike, and that most of the speakers were too far from it as well.  I guess that made me feel a little better about missing what was evidently a very humane and entertaining service.

So I filled the time by counting heads, instead.  There were 300 seats, and most seemed filled.  My estimate is that around 275 attended, to whom I could put names to around 25.  I recognized a few other faces as well.  It did seem as though everyone in the local fandom who might have attended, did.  The other 250 I assume were friends of Mike’s, family, neighbors, and people he worked with.  Some were, indeed, Mike’s old students.

The service made no bones about Mike’s atheism and that the prayers were to console Susan more than to ease his way into the hereafter.  It was not a secular ceremony, unless one counts the piper – and no Scot would consider the pipes as anything but a religious observance.  (I wonder who among us was Scottish?)  Prayers were called and hymns sung.  Those of us who don’t attend church learn to follow the crowd and lip synch.  Yet if it was a religious funeral, it was far from stolid or grim.  As Murray took great pains to reproduce, the eulogies were sprinkled with humour and anecdotes that shed light on a man with a very positive outlook on life.

However, Murray was forced to return home right after the service, and missed the reception afterward.  I don’t think he was far off the mark for how many turned up Mike and Susan’s home. 

I should mention that the snowstorm that day was one of the worst experienced in Toronto this winter, and was clearly much later in the year than is normal.  Weather Canada warned us to expect up to 4 or 5 cm. – about  two inches to those of you who still use the “American” measure.  We got as much as 10 cm. or four inches in the space of an eight hour working day, which is outrageous at the end of March.  It was hard not to imagine some purpose behind this last minute winter-blast. 

Fortunately, the snow ended sometime during the service.  The house on Windermere was only three or four blocks away, though, so it’s all too easy to imagine 200 people trying to squeeze into a modest two-story brick building.  There was actually a line to get in out of the cold.  Once in, it was as tricky finding where to step through the boots and shoes as it would be to tiptoe through a well-planned minefield.  Once past the mountain of footgear, you came abruptly to a solid wall of humanity.  There might not have been 200 people in that house, but 75 is easy to believe. 

There was one thing you could always say about MikeCon if you came on the party night.  Mike and Susan laid out the best table you can picture, with lox and bagels, fresh pastries of all kinds, cookies, fruit, cheese, crackers and, of course, beer and wine.  Though I overheard Susan to say, “We have a little food,” the reception after the service was in no way second place to a MikeCon.  I have a weakness for such spreads.  I tend to make a pig of myself, but since I rarely have such delicacies at home, I can’t resist having one of everything.  Maybe two of those.  More of something else.  And there was plenty to go around.  I probably had a spot more wine than as good for me too.  By the end of the evening I was feeling just fuzzy enough that I knew I had to stop.

There was, after all, the long arduous trip home to consider.

The house looked a little smaller than I remembered it, but that might have been because of the crush of people.  I believe it was even more crowded than MikeCons had ever been.  Could anyone actually be this well-liked by so many people, I wondered?  I’d feel lucky if anyone found an old cardboard carton to put me in, and if six people turned up to see the box taped shut.  In a way, too, I felt a little phony being there, seething with ambivalent feelings.  But despite my ability to find the wrong motives behind anything I do, I was glad I had decided to heed the invitation.  There were people present who I hadn’t seen or spoken to in literally decades.  As well, the light-hearted air of the service continued through the reception.  There were no black veils or floral wreaths, but plenty of warm, humorous conversations.  Many were about Mike, but as many about the use of Photoshop to imitate oil painting, popular vers libre, Edwardian architectural details, Kinder Surprises, blue cheeses, and when the next issue of Colin Hinz’s fanzine was coming out.  Just out of earshot I overheard Lloyd Penney discuss details of a Glicksohn scholarship with David Warren.  There was even a debate over whether it was better to stand out in the cold on the verandah that endure the crush inside, but it was a very short debate as the cons quickly won their point.

Over it all presided Susan, who was warm, open and friendly to all.

You just wished it had been merely a MikeCon of yore.  During a momentary lull, shortly before I left, I asked Susan a question I had been dreading to bring up.  The best way I was able to put it was, “I know this is too soon to ask, but I doubt I’ll have opportunity to speak with you again for some time.  I wonder if you have made arrangements to donate Mike’s fanzines to the Merril Collection at the Library?”  I needn’t have worried.  She wasn’t offended.  In fact, arrangements were being made. 

It was too bad there was no whiskey.  Perhaps it might have flowed for me if I had asked, but none was served openly.  Although I despise the vile taste of the stuff,  I would liked to  have hoisted one in Mike’s honour.

Andrew Porter: Mike Glicksohn Photo Gallery

toronto corflu

Mike Glicksohn, right, at the Toronto Corflu.

Glicksohn Wood Toronto 1970
Mike Glicksohn and Susan Wood in Toronto (1970)
Glicksohn typing Nerg

Mike Glicksohn typing stencils for Energumen.

95 Worldcon

(Tentative ID) 1987 Worldcon. L-to-R: Ken Bulmer, Ethel Lindsay, ?, George “Lan” Laskowski, Pat Virzi, Mike Glicksohn.

Lieberman Glicksohn at Conadian

Paula Lieberman and Mike Glicksohn chat at Conadian in 1994.

Glicksohn 1981 Susan Wood Best Fan Writer

Mike Glicksohn accepts Susan Wood's 1981 Best Fan Writer Hugo, which she won posthumously.

Update 03/26/2011: Tagged the man on the left of the 1987 Worldcon photo as Ken Bulmer, based on suggestions by Joseph Nicholas and Mark Plummer. 

Murray Moore: Glicksohn Memorial Report

By Murray Moore: We decided after the memorial service not to go to 508 Windermere: if as little as 20 percent of the people attending the memorial went, the house would be jammed. But here is my account of the memorial.


Susan Manchester and Mike Glicksohn, I am sure, enjoyed their honeymoon, nearly 18 years ago, in a hotel in Wales. Members of a tour group, I equally am confident, clearly remember Mike, although they and Mike were not formally introduced.

The newlyweds were informed that the group was arriving at 5 a.m. The Singaporeans arrived. Noisily. “Jabbering” was Mike’s description. Mike got out of their bed, opened their room’s door, and, holding a finger to his lips, said “Sssh.”

Susan, when Mike returned to bed: “That seemed to work.”

Mike to Susan: “Maybe the sight of a naked Caucasian shocked them into it.”

“He was very hairy, you see,” Susan explained, describing “my amazing husband” to the family and friends attending her late husband’s memorial service on Wednesday evening.

Many of the places in the pews of Windermere United Church, Susan’s church, were filled by people who, to attend, trudged through the result of a late-winter day-long snowfall.

(The snow must have been a shock to one of my neighbours, who, a couple of days ago, was raking his lawn.)

Perhaps as many people attended Mike’s memorial service as attended Susan’s and Mike’s wedding. “He didn’t want to invite very many people to our wedding. ‘Who would come!?’ he asked. I invited 200!”

Mike attended church with Susan only at Christmas and Easter. “Mike didn’t ask for this” memorial celebration, Susan said. “I am not sure that he would like it very much.”

Rev. Kate Young confessed that she was not sure she would like Mike when Susan invited her to their home for supper. She knew Mike was an atheist, a math teacher, and a science fiction reader. She was nervous. Mike won her over quickly: “Can I get you a drink?”

Mike was delighted that Susan attended church: Mike admired her for her faith: “Susan will say a prayer for you” Mike would tell friends who were in a stressful situation.

Mike was a twinkly child. “I don’t know anyone who twinkled like Mike did,” Manning Glicksohn, Mike’s older brother by 16 months, said.

Manning taught at Humberside Collegiate for several years, but moved to another school before Mike started his long career at the same school. Manning is tall and bald. His younger brother was neither. One day a student delighted Mike by asking “Mr. Glicksohn, did you used to be bald and teach French?”

Love was a word spoken often during the memorial service. Manning said of his brother, “Mike had a deep belief in the reality of love. Mike embodied it.” Mike loved and helped others love. Also “Mike really knew who he was and he refused to be anyone else.”

Mike Glicksohn was a model for young Robert Sawyer. Robert attended the same high school as did Mike, but 15 years later. Mike’s name was on a varnished wood scholarship plaque. “I saw his name every day. I wanted to be a SF writer. And here was a guy from my neighbourhood who had won a Hugo.” (Torcon 2, 1973, Best Fanzine, for co-editing Energumen).

When Worldcon returned to Toronto (Torcon 3, 2003) Robert J. Sawyer won the Best Novel Hugo for his Hominids. Rob explained that in Hominids he needed a word for his Neanderthals to use describing the best qualities of humans. The word Rob created was Gliksin. “Mike was wonderfully pleased.”

Rob explained that inserting a reference to Mike into one of his works was difficult because Rob is not a fantasy writer: “I had nowhere to put an overgrown hobbit.”

“People are mourning all over the world” because, Rob said, “Mike was world famous among SF readers. Australia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, China, all over. Mike touched people all over the world.”

An audience member said Mike was a curmudgeon about the internet. But “When Mike was with you, he was with you 100 per cent. He didn’t need FaceBook.”

A Mike story. A young child at a meal clearly announced “I have to go potty. I have to poop.” Mike put his hand on the child’s hand and told the child “Thank you for sharing.”

Susan’s uncle praised Mike for giving his niece “the ability to grow, room to do that. Mike accepted people as they are.”

A Mike story. Mike attended a Blue Jays game that lasted 22 innings. Mike was one of the few who stayed in his seat to the end of the 22nd inning. The television camera panned the seats to show the mostly vacant seats. “Look at this man,” the announcer said, meaning Mike. “When this game started, he was clean-shaven!”

Former students, said a former colleague of Mike’s, when they met their teacher on the street, retired since 2006, greeted him “Hello Mr. Glicksohn. How are you?” The greetings were the “mark of a man who did his job. And Michael certainly did his.” Also “I thought it was important that a student be taught for one class by The Glick.”

Mike was a strict but fair teacher. The very young daughter of his great friend and fellow teacher Mike Harper decided Mike’s name was Honey after she heard one-too-many daily phone calls by Mike when he was courting Susan. The young Miss Harper and some others called Mike ‘Honey’, Susan said, “but certainly not his students.”

Susan’s minister was pleased to see Mike in church: “He looked like Jesus!” She admired the sense of humour and the courage with which he met each setback. The progress/lack of progress e-mails which Mike sent were both “hilarious” and “life-affirming.”

When Mike was in St. Joseph’s Hospital Mike gave his minister a straight line. Mike wanted to know if she thought his asking to have the crucifix in his room covered would be offensive? “Not to me,” she told him. “I’m not Catholic.”

“Of course he was a sweet man. He was a great hugger,” Susan said. “And he loved to play card games: trump games, poker. I’m not sorry if you lost money to Mike. I benefited from it.”

“He was an incredible man, a beautiful man to so many, my dear husband. Not a day went by that we did not say I Love You to each other. And what else is there to say?”

glicksohn service

Bulletin from the service.

Update 3/24/2011: Added a copy of the bulletin from Mike’s service sent by Taral. (Thanks!)

Service for Mike Glicksohn

A service of remembrance for Mike Glicksohn will be held at Windermere United Church, 356 Windermere Avenue, Toronto ON, at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday March 23. 

Sara Stratton, a family friend, has also sent out a preview of the announcement that will appear in the Toronto Star next week:

Michael David Glicksohn (“Honey”), born May 20, 1946 in Portsmouth, England, died March 18, 2011 in Toronto after a lengthy illness. Amazing husband of Susan Manchester, he will also be missed by brother Manning (Louissa) and nephew Ray (Mary Ellen), cousins Dale (Petra), Jo (Howard) and Abby, great-nieces Willow and Jade, cousins Alison Purdy and Kevin Purdy (Rosemary), step-mother Hilary, and by many, many good friends. Predeceased by his parents, Paul and Ellen (nee Mullane). Mike taught mathematics at Humberside Collegiate Institute for 34 years. He was involved in science fiction fandom for many years and won a Hugo Award for best fan writer. Each Memorial Day weekend for more than 25 years, Mike and his friend Michael Harper hosted MikeCon, which was attended by hundreds of friends and fans from across Canada and the U.S. A service of remembrance will be held at Windermere United Church, 356 Windermere Avenue, on Wednesday, March 23 at 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers or donations, Mike would probably appreciate it if you raised a glass to him.

(Of course, it was the Best Fanzine Hugo he won.)

[Thanks to Larry Hancock and Sara Stratton for the story.]

Mike Glicksohn (1946-2011)

Mike Glicksohn

Mike Glicksohn, an iconic figure at conventions with his flowing beard and Australian bush hat, passed away on March 18 after suffering a stroke, reports Robert Sawyer. This came at the end of a years-long struggle with cancer. Mike was 64. He is survived by Susan Manchester, his wife of almost 18 years.

I was fortunate to know Mike from my earliest days in fandom, meeting first in fanzines, and soon after at conventions. Mike’s written personality struck me as the epitome of “cool” — ironic, outwardly unaffected by crisis, with a clever and cutting sense of humor — but in person he was much more than that, as I discovered when we met at the 1972 Worldcon. Mike was colorful, sure of himself, and smiled a lot. A man would recognize in Glicksohn’s witty demeanor a challenge and have to decide – was he laughing with me, or at me?  Also, while he enjoyed socializing he was always winnowing the crowd in search of who was really worth his time.  Mike especially cherished the company of fandom’s legends, like Ackerman, Bloch and Tucker (see, as he wrote in Mimosa 30.)

From where I was viewing things at the time as a relatively new fan, Mike was already a legend himself — yet he’d only been in fandom four years longer than me. Mike attended his first Worldcon in 1966, Tricon in Cleveland, after learning about it from an ad in Famous Monsters of Filmland. He also co-founded the Ontario Science Fiction Club (OSFiC) that year. He came to the next Worldcon with a contingent of Canadian fans, who wore Spock ears as they watched banquet from an overlooking balcony. (Spock ears were still cool in 1967.) These fans formed the core of the winning 1973 Worldcon bid.

Back home in Toronto Mike made his living as a high school mathematics teacher. He and Susan Wood had married in 1970 after meeting at Boskone the year before. Together they published the leading fannish fanzine, Energumen, for several years, turning out 15 impeccably mimeographed issues filled with brilliant art and contributions from the most sought-after fanwriters. Their zine won a Hugo at Torcon II in 1973. However, by that time their marriage had broken up although they remained on terms that allowed them to accept Aussiecon’s invitation to be joint Fan Guests of Honor at the 1975 Worldcon. The Hat Goes Home is Mike’s report of that trip.

In the coming years Mike won three Fanzine Activity Achievement Awards (FAAn) as Best LoC Writer. He was nominated for a Hugo as Best Fan Writer in 1977. He was even selected Past President fwa  (Fanzine Writers of America) at the 2006 Corflu.

Mike reviewed fanzines for my genzine Prehensile in his notorious fanzine-killing column “The Zineophobic Eye.” I don’t say “fanzine-killing” because he indulged in KTF-style reviews. Rather, Mike took a perverse pride in the way every one of the host fanzines had expired soon after his column started running in it. The column had appeared in Richard Labonte’s Hugin & Munin (as “The Zinephobic”), Mike’s own Energumen, and Osfic Quarterly. That’s why Mike began his first installment for me with a warning: “Read this issue of Prehensile carefully friends. Savor it, enjoy it, admire it; it’s very likely one of the last issues you’ll be seeing…”  And in that respect my fanzine did not disappoint: his first column appeared in Prehensile 11 and the zine ended its run four issues later.

If Mike had a fannish philosophy, I’d say it was something he’d inject into the dialogue when, now and then, things got a little heated: Unless you were having fun, there wasn’t any point in staying in fandom.

He was always ready to enjoy the good times and help create them. He’d play along with the joke – like when he let Elst Weinstein and I make him co-GoH of the 1978 Hogu Ranquet. He even refused to let us pay for his hamburger.

Mike liked the fun, but not necessarily the publicity that ensued. He once told me, “I’ve only had seven embarrassing moments in fandom — and Jay Kay Klein was there to photograph every damn one of them! One was at PghLange: I took off all my clothes and was sitting on the floor naked, talking to people, and Jay Kay was there to photograph it.”

Similarly, Mike, who was famously devoted to playing poker, once was part of a game held in an elevator car at a Canadian convention hotel. But when Lloyd Penney wrote this in a LoC Mike followed with his own letter saying the story was completely apocryphal, or at least he’d completely forgotten about it “because those brain cells were destroyed.”

There was also a serious side to Mike. He was sensitive to injustice within fandom. He helped fight our battles. A motion he made with Marty Cantor to change the Best Fanzine Hugo rules launched a discussion that spun off Locus and several other perennial award contenders into a new Best Semiprozine category in 1982. As Cantor remembers, “Mike and I felt that zines which either start as amateur zines and grow into something else (or start as something else) provided unfair competition to those who wish to re­main amateurs (in the best and original sense of that word, doing it strictly and only for the love of doing it without any thought of making at least part of their living doing it) should be able to compete on a level playing field, com­peting only with like-minded fans.”

He was also instrumental in returning the Worldcon to Toronto for the first time in 30 years, co-chairing the Toronto bid for 2003. And because it was Mike Glicksohn who called to invite me as Torcon 3’s fan guest of honor, that meant the world to me.

It was just two years after that Worldcon, 2005, that Mike was first diagnosed with cancer. In 2006 surgeons removed his right ureter because a cancerous tumour had been found there. At the same time his right kidney was taken out. Cancer was detected again in 2008. Doctors removed his gall bladder. There were courses of chemotherapy prior to all the surgeries. For a six-month stretch in 2009 tests came back with no sign of cancer, but it showed up again in November and thereafter that Mike and his medical team were in a non-stop battle. Despite that, whenever Mike sent out an e-mail telling about his progress he always tried to sound at least one lighter note amid the heavy medical news, such as the time he wrote, “I think Nietzsche was wrong. What almost killed me left me weaker but I’m working on it!”

And in mid-2010 Mike was well enough “to attend a mini family reunion on Vancouver Island in the context of my brother’s wedding, so I’m not complaining.”

But in January 2011 Mike said his team had recommended a short session of additional chemo as the cancer had not been eliminated. That was the last time I heard from him.

Mike will be remembered with tremendous affection. And although forewarned this day was coming his friends still will find it hard to let him go.

Greetings for Glicksohn

Mike Glicksohn, the well-known Toronto fanzine fan, has been under treatment for cancer for some time. He missed attending this year’s Confusion, the first time he failed to attend the con in its 38-year history. Rick Lieder let him know how much he was missed by recording video greetings to Mike and his wife Susan from their many friends. The video has been posted online [YouTube].

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story, via Joel Zakem.]

Monty Python Documentary on IFC

This will be the second post of the day to mention Mike Glicksohn. During Torcon II he introduced a room party full of American fans to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, then being aired on Canadian television but not in the U.S. The episode — The Spanish Inquisition — fulfilled even the wildest expectations. We went home wishing for more. Fortunately, the series began running on PBS at the end of 1974.

That party came to mind when I read in today’s Los Angeles Times that the 40th anniversary of Monty Python’s British debut is being commemorated by a six-hour documentary series, “Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer’s Cut),” beginning October 18 on the Independent Film Channel.

The Independent Film Channel publicized the program by reuniting the five surviving members of the troupe in New York on October 15 for a public “conversation” at the premiere of a feature-length theatrical cut. The Monty Python Reunion can be viewed online:

Watch the historic event reuniting all five surviving members of the Monty Python team — John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin — as they take to the stage for a Q&A discussion with the audience.

Joe Haldeman “Band of Brothers” Update

Mike Glicksohn delighted Joe Haldeman by visiting him at the rehab center on October 17, Gay Haldeman wrote on During the day the nurses thought Joe and both his visitors, Mike and Rusty (Hevelin), must be related, their beards creating a kind of family resemblance.  

Joe’s therapy that day included putting on his own pants — he succeeded.  Later, the pulmonary doc started him on the protocol to get off the trach tube. Joe did fine with it capped for four hours, with 8 hours planned for Saturday and 12 for Sunday. If all goes well, the trach tube will be pulled during the week.

Gay added on October 18, “He’s clearly stronger, though he’s frustrated to be so weak.  Looks like he’s lost 30 pounds on the famous ICU (lack of) diet.”