Pixel Scroll 3/1/21 Second Pixel On The Left, Scroll On Till Morning

(1) A KIND OF HOUSING CRISIS. In “Jonathan Lethem on Robert Heinlein and Other Influences” at The New Yorker, Lethem answers questions about his story in this week’s issue, “The Crooked House.”

The story’s protagonist, Mull, has found himself living in a once spectacular tesseract house—an architect’s grandiose solution to L.A.’s housing crisis—which has collapsed yet is still habitable. The structure keeps shifting and Mull struggles to find his way around. A corridor he used one day may have vanished the next. When did you first imagine this building? Do you see it as a three-dimensional space in your mind’s eye? Do you know it better than Mull? Or as well as Mull?

The idea of a tesseract as building comes from Robert Heinlein’s famous 1941 short story, “—And He Built a Crooked House—” (an influence my story wears on the sleeve of its title). It was one of my favorite stories growing up, and, for a lot of readers my age, it might be as responsible for the introduction of the idea of a tesseract as Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.” It’s also an L.A. story, and Heinlein was a resident when he wrote it. The house in the story is across the street from his own address, if I’m remembering right.

That people in Los Angeles live outside right now, in tents and under overpasses, is such a cruel and overwhelming reality that it may be atrocious to make reference to it in passing (though it probably isn’t better to leave it unmentioned at all, which is what happens constantly). I’ll try saying simply that I sometimes find it easiest to let certain realities express themselves in my thinking when I give them a surreal or allegorical expression. 

(2) MORE COMMENTS ON BAEN’S BAR AND DISINVITING WEISSKOPF. Here are three recent posts that go beyond rehashing others’ opinions.

LawDog: “Freedom of Speech by LawDog”, a guest post on According to Hoyt, is a non-lawyer’s defense of Baen’s Bar hosting the sort of comments called out in Jason Sanford’s article.

…This, however, isn’t where the deplatformers come from (I’m looking at you folks taking a thunder run at Baen’s Bar in particular), they’ve decided that “Incitement to Violence” isn’t Free Speech, as they clutch their pearls.

Lawdog briefs a Supreme Court case, then proceeds —

“How,” I hear you ask, “Does this pertain to Baen’s Bar?”

Simple. If someone has been yacking about doing violence unto the Fed.gov for ten or fifteen years … it’s pretty safe to say that lawlessness is not “imminent”, and thus fails the Brandenburg test. That speech, distasteful though you may find it, is protected Free Speech.

And what is speech protected from? Protected from suppression by the government. So the government can’t prevent Baen’s Bar from hosting, for example, Tom Kratman’s advice about a Trumpian militia.

However, the pertinent question is do fans want to honor a figure in the sff field that hosts this speech? Lawdog’s cite does not bridge that divide.

Ben Sheffield takes a 360-dgree look at the topic in “Baenposting” at Coagulopath.

… That’s the main issue under consideration: are these “threats” on Baen’s Bar any more substantial or interesting than symbolic posturing, like a Twitter leftist with a guillotine avatar saying “eat the rich”? I don’t think they are.

So the expose has problems, and avenues of counterattack. But the reaction from the forum’s defenders has largely been to shoot themselves in the foot.

Baen’s publisher Toni Weisskopf had a hard row to hoe. If she deletes the mentioned posts and bans the offenders, her users will perceive this as a craven surrender to a bully’s demands. But if she ignores the expose, it will be spun as a further endorsement of violence.

She tried to have it both ways, temporarily closing the forum pending an investigation while refusing to condemn the violent threats. “We take these allegations seriously, and consequently have put the Bar on hiatus while we investigate. But we will not commit censorship of lawful speech.” She might have hoped that the scandal would blow over in a week, and she could reopen the Bar without doing anything. This approach blew up in her face, and caused her to lose her Guest of Honor spot at the 2021 Worldcon.

As I’ve said, you can’t win with forums. In chess, zugzwang is when you’re forced to make a bad move, because there’s no other way. Jason Sanford put her in zugzwang on February 15. There was no way she could have responded without suffering reputational damage, either from the SF community at large or from her own fans.

The smart thing to do, of course, would have been to never allow posts like that on Baen’s Bar to begin with.

But moderation is tricky, particularly with regards to powerful, respected users who are also personal friends. Forums founded on an ethos of “everything goes!” are generally moderated as little as possible, and this establishes precedent that’s hard to break. Like a roof with a hole in it, “everything goes” only seems fine until it starts raining. Moderation is almost always necessary, regardless of your friends’ feelings.

I’ve seen some attempted defenses of Baen’s Bar, and they’re not impressive….

Linda Bushyager, who in the Seventies edited the fannish newzine of record (Karass) before passing the torch to File 770, told Facebook readers that Toni Weisskopf didn’t deserve this outcome:

… I went to Discon’s website to read what they had to say about their decision. Basically the committee said because some users of Baen Books discussion had said violent or nasty or non PC or whatever comments, Toni, as the main editor at Baen would be disinvited. Note, Toni never made those comments, but I guess did not criticize them or ban them. However after complaints Toni did close down the “offensive” forum.

So it’s like you rent a room in your house to someone (a stranger) who turns out to be a robber, or Nazi, or racist, or whatever — well now let’s ban you too for whatever they said or did. Or maybe I belong to some club or organization or political party and someone else in this group said abhorrent stuff and I didn’t immediately withdraw from that group, so ban me from whatever honor you were going to give me, even if I disagree with those spoken views. Etc. There are many examples one could imagine. Am I responsible for everything not only my relatives and friends may say or do, but for acquaintances and people I work with or casually ride an elevator with? Where is the line?

Guilt by association.

All in all a sad day for Science Fiction fandom, as I see it — especially where in years past we were known for being tolerant to people who were different and who may have had different views. And when we found fans who had abhorrent ideas or said awful things, we tried to understand where they were coming from and tried to be tolerant and sympathetic where possible in an effort to understand and change minds, not just rebuke bad behavior thoughtlessly….

(3) COMIC-CON@HOME AGAIN. Comic-Con International has cancelled this spring’s WonderCon, and once more will run both it and the San Diego Comic-Con as virtual events: “Statement Regarding Comic-Con 2021”

As you may be aware, due to concern for public health and safety, San Diego Comic Convention had to cancel both of its in-person events in 2020 and recently announced that our spring 2021 show, WonderCon in Anaheim, will also be canceled. In its place, WonderCon@Home will once again be held as a free online event on March 26 and 27, 2021.

It is the policy of the organization to continue to closely monitor information from local and national healthcare officials as it pertains to the COVID-19 pandemic. Never could we have imagined what the world experienced in 2020 and continues to experience today. While we are buoyed by the rollout of the vaccine and the growing number of individuals being inoculated, it appears that July will still be too early to safely hold an in-person event of the magnitude of Comic-Con. For this reason, we have made the challenging decision to postpone Comic-Con 2021 as an in-person gathering until our 2022 dates, and once again hold this year’s celebration as the free online Comic-Con@Home. Unfortunately, the challenges of this past year and the multiple postponements of our two largest events have left us with limited financial resources, so this year the online experience will be reduced to a three-day event, spanning July 23-25, 2021.

(4) VIABLE PARADISE. The Viable Paradise SF&F Writers’ Workshop is also postponing til 2022: “ANNOUNCEMENT: Viable Paradise 2021 and Covid-19”.

Despite a decline in the number of new Covid-19 cases and the increasing rate of vaccinations, we cannot be certain there will be no threat come October. Last year, a major surge of the disease began just as the workshop would have been taking place. The new variants of the virus represent a wild card. No one is more disappointed with this outcome than we are, but we will not take risks with the safety of our students, instructors, and staff.

(5) TACKLING THE GENDER DIVIDE IN WANDAVISION. [Item by Olav Rokne.] Writing at the DailyDot, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw (@Hello_Tailor on Twitter) examines how differing standards for male and female magic users in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are indicative of existing prejudices about men and women. It’s an illuminating article about how often in comics (and superhero movies) a woman’s superpower is undercut by her own helplessness. “What ‘WandaVision’ and ‘Doctor Strange’ say about magical gender roles”. BEWARE SPOILERS.

…While Wanda Maximoff’s role is all about emotional upheaval and uncontrolled outbursts of power, her male counterpart (and future co-star) Doctor Strange develops his magic through rigorous academic training….

(6) FLASH FICTION CONTEST. Queer Sci Fi opened its annual Flash Contest today, and will be accepting entries through April 30. Full details at the link. (Via Locus Online.)

Every year, QSF holds a flash fiction contest to create an amazing new anthology of queer speculative fiction stories. We ask authors to do the nearly-impossible – to submit a sci fi, fantasy, paranormal or horror LGBTIQA story that has no more than 300 words.

The theme for 2021 is “Ink”…

We’ll be accepting works from across the queer spectrum, and would love to see more entries including lesbian, trans, bi, intersex and ace protagonists, as well as gay men. We also welcome diversity in ability (physical and mental) and in race. We had our most diverse set of entries yet in 2020 – let’s keep up the trend!


  • March 1, 1997 –On this day in 1997, the Crime Traveller series premiered on BBC. It was produced by Carnival Films for the BBC. The premise being of  time travel for the purpose of solving crimes. It was created by Anthony Horowitz, and starred Michael and Chloë Annett. It would last but eight episodes being caught in the change of guard in the BBC Head of Drama position. You can watch the first episode here.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born March 1, 1885 Lionel Atwill. He had the lead roles in Thirties horror films Doctor XThe Vampire BatMurders in the Zoo and Mystery of the Wax Museum but his most-remembered role was the one-armed Inspector Krogh in Son of Frankenstein which Kenneth Mars parodied in Young Frankenstein. He would appear in four subsequent Universal Frankenstein films. (Died 1946.) (CE) 
  • Born March 1, 1915 – Wyman Guin.  One novel, eight shorter stories.  Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award.  Some have praised his focus on the human implications of enduring the future, but I’ve always loved “Volpla”.  (Died 1989) [JH]
  • Born March 1, 1918 Roger Delgado. The first Master in the Doctor Who series. The role was written especially for him. He would appear only with the Third Doctor as he died in car crash in Turkey. Other genre appearances were Quatermass IIDanger ManThe Mummy’s Shroud and First Man into Space. (Died 1973.) (CE) 
  • Born March 1, 1923 Andrew Faulds. He’s best remembered as Phalerus in Jason and the Argonauts in which he was in the skeleton fight scene that featured model work by Ray Harryhausen. He appeared in a number of other genre films including The Trollenberg TerrorThe Flesh and the Fiends and Blood of the Vampire. He had one-offs on Danger Man and One Step Beyond. Oh, and his first acting gig was as Lysander in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. (Died 2000.) (CE) 
  • Born March 1, 1946 Lana Wood, 75. She’s best remembered as Plenty O’Toole in Diamonds Are Forever. She was in The Wild Wild West as Vixen O’Shaughnessy in “The Night of the Firebrand” and Averi Trent in “The Night of the Plague” episodes. She was in both up the CBS televised Captain America films playing Yolanda, and she was still active in the genre as little three years ago playing a character named Implicit in Subconscious Reality. Be very suspicious that all the Amazon reviews of the later are five stars. (CE) 
  • Born March 1, 1950 David Pringle, 71. Pringle served as the editor of Foundation during the Eighties which In turned spawned Interzone during that time. The Glasgow Worldcon committee gave Pringle a Special Award for his work on Interzone. With Malcolm Edwards and Ian Watson, he also edited Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction from the late Seventies through the mid Eighties. Besides his various guides to the genre such as The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy, I see early on that he did a lot of work on J.G. Ballard such as Earth Is the Alien Planet: J. G. Ballard’s Four-Dimensional Nightmare and J. G. Ballard: A Primary and Secondary Bibliography.  (CE) 
  • Born March 1, 1952 Steve Barnes, 69. I remember him best from the Dream Park series with Larry Niven but the Insh’Allah series is quite stellar as is the Heorot series that he did with Niven. His only award to date is an Endeavour Award for Lion’s Blood.  (CE) 
  • Born March 1, 1954 Ron Howard, 67. Director of Cocoon and Willow. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. And opinions are I believe are definitely divided on Solo: A Star Wars Story. As a producer only, he’s responsible for Cowboys & Aliens and The Dark Tower. (CE)
  • Born March 1, 1954 – Maureen Garrett, age 67.  Known as a fanartist – she did the Nine of Wands in Bruce Pelz’ Fantasy Showcase Tarot Deck (see the whole deck here [PDF]; after BP’s introduction the suits are Cups, Pentacles, Swords, Wands, then the Trumps; yes, that’s the model for her card, named elsewhere in these birthday notes), contributed to Rune, moderated “What Is an Artist’s Life Really Like?” at ConFrancisco the 51st Worldcon – she was also Director of Fan Relations at Lucasfilm.  [JH]
  • Born March 1, 1955 – Tracy Barrett, Ph.D., age 66.  Six novels for us, two dozen all told.  The Song of Orpheus, seventeen Greek myths we’re little acquainted with, has been called nonfiction, but I dunno.  Anna of Byzantium is her novel of Anna Comnena (1083-1153; wrote The Alexiad, hello Joe Major). Taught at Vanderbilt thirty years. Likes Dickens’ Bleak House (as do I), “anything by Jane Austen, James Thurber, George Eliot.”  [JH]
  • Born March 1, 1962 – Dave Weingart, age 59.  Variously active fan, celebrated as a filker.  InterfilkGuest at Consonance 2001.  Official Filk Waif at FilKONtario 12.  Music Guest of Honor at Apollocon 2010.  Featured Filker at 8Pi-con.  Filklore Award.  [JH]
  • Born March 1, 1968 – Dorian Vallejo, age 53.  Five dozen covers, a few interiors.  Here is the Jul 91 Asimov’s.  Here is The California Voodoo Game.  Here is Lone Star.  Here is Smoke and Mirrors.  Jack Gaughan Award.  Son of Boris, which some say irks him; his Website has “Born into an artistic family” and nothing of us; but like any artist he gets to do what he thinks best.  [JH]
  • Born March 1, 1987 – Maxmilian Meinzold, age 34.  Thirty covers, a few interiors.  Here is The Silmarillion (in German).  Here is The King of Camelot (in German; tr. of The Once and Future King).  Here is The Hidden Oracle.  Here is Zealand (spelled Seeland in German; subtitle, “hitch-hiking to the Strudel Throat”; yes, in English it’s too bad there’s an r).  [JH]


  • In today’s episode of Spaceman Spiff at Calvin and Hobbes, Spiff finds a huge monster camouflaged as a mountain range.

(10) STRATIGRAPHY. “Crossing Castes: Juliette Wade’s Transgressions of Power” is a Paul Weimer review at Tor.com of Wade’s new novel.

…. And that brings us to another theme of the series, and this book in particular (right in the title, Transgressions of Power). For, you see, Della and Tagaret do want to break down those adamantine boundaries of Caste. They see, even if darkly and imperfectly (and Wade does a great job in making them fallible and human in it) that the caste system is really the root of the problems of the crumbling civilization and if there is any hope for the Varin, from the Grobal on down, it will take crossing those boundaries…in making transgressions, if you will.  In keeping with that, not only do we see Tagaret and Della’s efforts, but we get an emphasis on a dreaded and whispered thing that can happen to the Grobal—to “Fall” down to another caste. This is shown as a dangerous and one possibility for Adon to escape the pressures on him, and while it is a societal safety valve,  it is treated as a fate almost worse than death. It is also a Chehkov’s Gun that the author effectively fires in the conclusion, as well….

(11) THE EVOLUTION OF MARIO. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In the February 24 Financial Times, gaming columnist Tom Faber looks at the success of Nintendo character Mario.

Nintendo’s influential designer Shigeru Miyamoto came up with the blueprint for Mario when he was developing 1981’s Donkey Kong, in which a hero called Jumpman dodges obstacles to reach the top of a construction site where a gorilla is holding his girlfriend hostage.  Mario’s characteristics were determined by technical limitations and accidents:  his red and blue overalls were selected to contrast with a black background while his large nose and moustache were an effort to infuse personality into a character comprised of a handful of pixels.  According tto company lore, his name was inspired by Mario Segale, the irate landlord of Nintendo of America’s warehouse.

Mario was first cast as a carpenter, then as a plumber for Mario Bros., which featured him and his twin brother Luigi fighting off monsters which oozed up from the sewers of New York. Soon a polish formula was established, with nefarious king Bowser, hapless Princess Peach and a cast of surrounding characters drawn in broad brushstrokes.  Powers included mushrooms that made Mario grow or shrink, or items that turned him into a bee, a ghost, a flying squirrel, and, in the new release Super Mario 3d World, a cat. Mario appeared in educational games, a low-budget cartoon and an execrable 1993 live-action film–though an upcoming animated movie, co-produced by the studio behind the Minions films, might be better.

(12) CELESTIAL LODGINGS. “First-ever space hotel slated to be operational by 2027” in the New York Post. This design might look a bit familiar if you’re old enough to have watched Walt Disney’s original Disneyland series.  

… This decade will see the start and completion of construction on humanity’s first ever hotel in outer space, according to the group behind it, Orbital Assembly. 

The 3-year-old company plans to begin building Voyager Station in low Earth orbit in 2025, and believes its interstellar resort may be operational as soon as 2027, the Daily Mail reported. 

Renderings of the celestial hotel are cosmic-chic: Individual pods are attached to a rotating wheel, with tubes connecting the different areas forming an X, as if the wheel’s axle….

(13) SPOT MAKES ITS OWN SPOTS. “Boston Dynamics’ Robot Dog Is Now Armed—in the Name of Art” reports WIRED. Video here.

…The project, called Spot’s Rampage, is the work of MSCHF (pronounced “mischief,” of course), an internet collective that regularly carries out meme-worthy pranks.

Previous MSCHF stunts include creating an app that awarded $25,000 to whomever could hold a button down for the longest; selling “Jesus Shoes” sneakers with real holy water in the soles (Drake bought a pair); developing an astrology-based stock-picking app; and cutting up and selling individual spots from a Damian Hirst painting.

Daniel Greenberg, a member of MSCHF, claims there’s a serious side to Spot’s Rampage though. “Anytime you see a TikTok or a dance it’s like, ‘Oh God, Spot is so happy,’” Greenberg says. “But if we actually talk candidly about what it’s going to be used for in the real world, you could say it’s police, you could say it’s military.”

Needless to say, Boston Dynamics isn’t very happy. The company tweeted on Friday: “We condemn the portrayal of our technology in any way that promotes violence, harm, or intimidation. Our mission is to create and deliver surprisingly capable robots that inspire, delight and positively impact society.”

Michael Perry, the company’s vice president of business development, says Spot’s terms of use prohibit violent uses of the robot. “The core things we’re trying to avoid are things that harm people, intimidate people, or break the law,” Perry says.

Perry adds that it is a particular concern because the company is trying to sell its robots. “It’s not just a moral point, it’s also a commercial point for us,” he says.

Because the robot periodically checks in with Boston Dynamics servers, it would theoretically be possible to disable the Spot that MSCHF is using. “We’re wrestling with that,” Perry adds. The MSCHF crew claim to have a workaround ready just in case.

(14) VIDEOS OF THE DAY. Fanac.org has made videos of the 1989 Worldcon Masquerade available on YouTube.

Norascon 3, the 47th Worldcon, was held in Boston, MA. In this recording, costumers make their appearance on the big stage, and showcase the physical results of their imaginations and their skills. The costumers range from Novices to Journeymen to Masters, and the themes from silly and playful to very serious. Note: Some sections have been muted due to copyright laws. There’s more to come in part 2.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, Olav Rokne, Michael J. Walsh, Andrew Porter, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Darrah Chavey, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]

Gardner Dozois Remembered

Susan Casper and Gardner Dozois. Photo by and (c) Andrew Porter. Casper and Dozois were married 47 years; she passed away in February 2017.

Gardner Dozois (1947-2018), one of the sf genre’s leading editors for over forty years, died May 27 “of an overwhelming systemic infection.”

As a well-known writer, and also the editor of Asimov’s and a popular series of best of the year anthologies, he received many honors and awards during his career. Dozois won 15 Best Professional Editor Hugos, and a 2014 World Fantasy Award as the co-editor (with George R.R. Martin) of the anthology Dangerous Women. He was the editor Guest of Honor at the Millennium Philcon, the 59th World Science Fiction Convention in 2001.

Before taking over the editor’s chair at Asimov’s he was an acclaimed fiction writer who received 11 Nebula nominations, winning twice – “The Peacemaker” (1984) and “Morning Child” (1985).

Dozois was inducted to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2011.

Prozine editors who plan on being around for awhile don’t just pan for nuggets in the slushpile, they spend a lot of time turning the dross into gold. Gardner Dozois’ efforts along that line during his 20 years as editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction are represented in the 35 linear feet of letters and notebooks plus 35,000 e-mails that make up the archive of his correspondence and papers acquired by UC Riverside’s Eaton Collection in 2014.

Here are some of the tributes posted in the past 24 hours, and also some excerpts from my 1989 and 2001 Worldcon reports that give windows into his popularity and history.

Gardner Dozois and Michael Swanwick at the NYRSF Reading in October 2017. Photo by Mark Blackman.

Michael Swanwick introduces us to “The Gardner Dozois You Didn’t Know You Knew”:

Anybody who was ever praised by Gardner Dozois should know this: He meant it. Not only did he like you personally, but he loved your work.

The second part of that mattered more than the first. I remember once he told me he’d picked up a story by a notoriously unlikeable writer for the Year’s Best Science Fiction. “That’s interesting,” I said.

“Yeah,” he replied, grinning. “The little shit wrote a really good story.”

Gardner was himself an extremely fine writer. If you haven’t read “A Special Kind of Morning,” do yourself a favor and look it up. It’s the apotheosis of science fiction war stories. He almost entirely gave that up when he became an editor because editing uses the same inner resources that writing requires.

He knew this would happen when he first became editor of Asimov’s. But he felt it was a price worth paying because it enabled him to buy stories nobody else would. Some of them most readers now would be astonished to learn were ever deemed unpublishable. There were times when he risked losing his job to publish a story he admired.

He paid the price. He did it for the writers… and for the readers.

Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing, pays it forward: “RIP Gardner Dozois, pioneering, genre-defining science fiction editor who helped launch my career”.

…long before he’d published my work, he’d nurtured my career, including my stories in the copious honorable mentions appendices to his longrunning, definitive Year’s Best Science Fiction anthologies, appending encouraging personal notes to the rejections I got from Asimov’s and, on a memorable occasion at Philcon, announcing during a panel that he viewed me as one of the best new writers in the field.

In a field where beginning writers are starved for attention, critical feedback and encouragement, Dozois stood out as an editor who never succumbed to the laziness of simply publishing works by known authors: he was an assiduous reader of the “slushpile” of unsolicited manuscript, which made him an encylopedic guide to emerging talents, long before people were publishable. Beginning writers, years before their first sales, often found themselves meeting Dozois at conferences, only to be treated to specific, encouraging words about the stories he’d rejected and their professional and artistic progress.

…Eight days ago, Dozois’ son Christopher Casper accepted the Science Fiction Writers of America’s Solstice Award for lifetime achievement on his father’s behalf. Dozois apparently told his son to say that the award belonged properly to the writers that Dozois had published. Thankfully, Christopher defied his father and used the opportunity to remind us of Dozois’ shyness and modesty.

When Philadelphia Magazine named him one of “Philadelphia’s 100 Smartest People,” he said, “If that’s true, then God help Philadelphia!” When he was placed in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, he returned from Seattle to report that they’d placed his name and image on a brick which went into the Hall of Fame Wall. “So now I’m really just another brick in the wall.” And when he couldn’t make it to Pittsburgh for the Nebula Awards Weekend, he told Christopher to just say that the award properly belonged to all the writers he’d published.

Rick Moen shared a memory:

The world is already a sadder and less merry place without Gardner Dozois. I will always cherish the Liar’s Panels he used to do at Worldcons, where he and other veteran pro editors would dispense deliberately terrible advice to authors trying to get published. (‘Send lots more dinosaur stories!’)

At the SFWA Blog: “In Memoriam – Gardner Dozois”.

SFWA President Cat Rambo remembers Dozois:

Gardner was always larger than life – a little loud, a little bawdy, and always the biggest presence in the room. But he also knew his stuff, backwards and forwards, and his mark on the genre is written in indelible ink. I’m so glad SFWA got a chance to honor him while he was still around to appreciate it — but I sure wish he’d had a lot more time in which to do so.

Ellen Datlow posted a great selection of Gardner Dozois “crazy faces” on Facebook.

From File 770’s 1989 Worldcon report: Dozois made a memorable entrance with the other Hugo nominees prior to the 1989 ceremony:

I got to the door and heard our processional music was “March of the Gladiators” from Spartacus or something comparable with brassy flourishes and rhythms suited to the stride of captured war elephants.

We walked circuitously through the auditorium like extras in a Hercules movie. Nominees in the professional categories marched at the end. Gardner Dozois basked in the applause, flashing a V-sign at the crowd like Winston Churchill on V-E Day.

The year Gardner Dozois was Worldcon guest of honor, File 770 covered his signature event in “Ben  Frankly Speaking: Millennium Philcon 2001 Worldcon Report”.

…Janice Gelb was irate that the true nature of the “Liars Club” panel had been blabbed by a participant and quoted in the daily newzine. David Hartwell had said, “Did you hear we’re roasting Gardner Dozois? Think he’ll be able to feed the whole crowd?” Everyone involved had been sworn to secrecy in an attempt to surprise Dozois.

The Liar’s Club: The popular panel truly lived up to its name this year. Pat Cadigan, Gardner Dozois, Janice Gelb and George R.R. Martin were on the dais at the beginning. Dozois got everyone’s attention with a drill sergeant’s yell, “Shut uuuupp!” Janice Gelb moderated, later saying she was mainly there to keep Gardner from taking over the microphone for a rebuttal once she revealed that the panel was actually “The Secret Roast of Gardner Dozois.”

Hearing that, Gardner shouted, “My pager went off – bye!” Janice merely explained, “We wanted to get a rubber mallet and hit him every time he interrupted.” Gardner sneered, “You think rubber would stop me?”

George R.R. Martin claimed to avoid duplication that they had simply divided up the Gardner stories. He’d been allowed to tell the story about Gardner’s knob – which George had never touched – and also about Gardner’s nose for stories. When George met Gardner for the first time, at Disclave in 1974, Gardner had a red jelly bean in his nose. George told him, “Most people put those in their mouths.” In reply, Gardner slapped his cheek and the jellybean flew into his hand. He said, “Here, go ahead.”

…A parade of others came up to testify about Dozois. Jay Haldeman recalled that around 1971 he, Dozois and others formed a loose collection of writers who met several times a year and workshopped short stories. Dozois would bring along 35,000-word story fragments. After Jay read about 20 pages he’d think, “Say, this is just great, but nothing has happened.” His brother, Joe Haldeman, wrote a 4-page scene of a former President watching the sun creep across his yard – “Gardner loved it, of course. It was just like his.” Many years later the finished story actually sold to Omni.

… Having just watched Gardner enjoy a ribald song about himself, it was easy to believe Connie Willis’ claim that Gardner is impossible to roast because he can’t be embarrassed. She gave further examples. A Worldcon  gave out a Hugo base that looked like a toilet seat with nuts and balls attached, which began to fall apart as soon as they were given out. When Connie asked Gardner how his Hugo was holding up, he answered, “My toilet seat’s fine, but my balls fell off.” Connie also described a scene from American Pie and promised, “That wouldn’t have embarrassed Gardner….”

Then Connie recalled a dinner group at a recent Worldcon held at a round table, inspiring people to give each other names of participants in the Algonquin Round Table. Connie reported that Gardner was Alexander Wolcott, “Because he’s so funny, and such a wonderful host.” Then, Connie launched into four or five sentences of effusive, frankly honest praise about Gardner’s human qualities. Gardner squirmed and blushed. Connie finished with a triumphal grin, “And now I’ve embarrassed you!”

…[Joe] Haldeman remembered an old Worldcon party. “Gardner invited me to a party back at his place. He stole a bottle of wine from the SFWA suite….” Gardner protested, “You were President!”

Haldeman ignored him and went on to talk about Dozois the editor. “John W. Campbell used to smoke unfiltered Camels in an ivory holder – the only vice that Gardner doesn’t have.” Haldeman complained that after he sent Gardner The Hemingway Hoax, Gardner “cut it to shreds so he could run it as a novella in Asimov’s. He did so much damage to it that it won both the Hugo and Nebula.”

After much more was said about Dozois, he was allowed his rebuttal. Gardner began by verifying how far he could fire a jellybean out of his nose. (Kathryn Daugherty happened to be carrying a bag of pineapple jellybeans which she donated for ammunition.) Then he told a long, risque anecdote about a closed party at the 1974 Worldcon, implicating George R.R. Martin, the Haldeman brothers and some others. Even back in the Seventies this stuff was pretty wild.

Something that struck me personally about this story was how it fit together with my memories of Norm Hollyn (then Hochberg) and Lou Stathis at the 1974 Worldcon taking me to look for some pros they’d met – Dozois being the only name I recognized at the time. What I remembered about that morning, including the hushed secrecy about someone having slept in the closet, fit perfectly with the story Gardner was telling at the end of the roast. Evidently, Norm, Lou and I had shown up the morning after all this had happened….

Pixel Scroll 5/30/16 You Only Five Twice


(1) MEMORIAL DAY. Honoring service and sacrifice — James H. Burns’ 2015 tribute to the WWII generation:

Yet, one of the biggest influences on that generation has remained generally uncommented on. Decades later, it can almost be viewed as a secret text, or a  vast compendium, that may well have helped prepare our country’s youth for the immense challenges that awaited them.

In the 1930s, during the height of the Great Depression–still the toughest economic calamity that ever faced the United States–ANYONE could tune in, on the radio, to the terrific adventure series, comedies and dramas that were performed LIVE, for national broadcast.

It didn’t matter if you were rich or poor, or what race or creed you encompassed. There was a wide array of delights simply waiting to be discovered….

(2) LLAMA DROP. Kameron Hurley has a book out tomorrow that she expects to be controversial. She recommends several rules of engagement to her readers, beginning with —

Hey, hey folks, my first essay collection, The Geek Feminist Revolution, drops TOMORROW, May 31!

In anticipation of its release, here are some things you should know that I know and some things you should know about how I’ll be comporting myself online during the launch:

  1. Some people (the minority, but oh, what a vocal minority!) will HATE this book, even and especially those who’ve never read it and have never heard of me and have no idea what it’s actually about. I fully anticipate several pile-ons. I expect lots of garbage in my social feeds. But fear not! All of my email is screened, I’ve muted the majority of the worst accounts and keywords on Twitter, and buttoned up other things to ensure this goes as smoothly as possible. I WILL BE FINE. CHIN UP.
  2. This leads us to THIS point, which is: NO WHITE KNIGHTING. All I ask if there’s a pile-on is for you to NOT tag me if you argue with trolls. My troll policy is mute and ignore. I’ve found that very effective. You are, of course, free to argue with whomever you want on the internet, but as a courtesy, I ask that you keep me out of it, or I’ll have to mute you too, and we don’t want that! In related news: DON’T POINT ME TO BAD REVIEWS or TELL ME TO READ TERRIBLE COMMENTS. I mean, unless you’re a troll? But I don’t think you’re a troll. Like, I mean, for real, folks? I never, ever, read the comments, and I’m not going to be reading bad reviews, even funny ones, for months yet. Thank you….

(3) LLAMA THUMBS DOWN. At Fantasy Literature, reviewer Bill Capossere’s verdict is The Geek Feminist Revolution: Just didn’t do it for me”. I’ve heard of “damning with faint praise,” on the other hand, this review is devoted to “damning with faint damns.”They follow after a three-paragraph confession of the expectations he brings to a book of essays.

The pieces certainly aren’t badly written, but there just wasn’t enough there for me, whether in terms of style or content. Often, the thrust of the piece wasn’t all that fresh. What does it take to succeed in writing? Persistence. How does one succeed? One has to be willing to fail. Women are horribly trolled on the net. Writers have a responsibility to consider the impact of how they present their worlds and the people who inhabit them, etc.

Now, I don’t have an issue with covering territory that has been covered extensively for a long time or, in the case of more contemporaneous issues, has been covered extensively elsewhere (well, maybe I have a little issue). But if you’re going to present me content I’ve seen lots of other places or have been reading for some time, then you need to do something else for me. When I talk to my students in creative writing I call this the “so what” issue with non-fiction. You have to give the reader a reason to keep reading something they’ve seen before. Maybe it’s the beauty of the language, maybe it’s the stimulating structure. But something.

With regard to structure, the essays in The Geek Feminist Revolution are almost strictly linear and mostly singularly focused. As for language, it’s adequate for communicating the ideas, but rarely rises above that. It’s conversational, passionate, but nothing will have you linger over the phrasing or is particularly dense with meaning.

(4) CHINA SF CON. Shaoyan Hu’s article at Amazing Stories covers “A Time to Share, a Time to Enjoy – The Closing Ceremony of the 8th Shanghai Science Fiction & Fantasy Festival”.

In the main hall, the ceremony was incorporated with the final stage of a mind contest called ‘Useless Superpowers’, in which the participants were encouraged to come up with ideas of superpowers that had no practical values but could become interesting under certain circumstances. They were requested to present the ideas with any means of their choice, such as videos, pictures, stage performances, and so on.

The winner was a student from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The imaginary superpower he had fabricated was ‘Immovable’, which meant the owner of the power could prevent anything from moving by simply touching it. Now, just imagine, someday in the future, if an asteroid is going to crash into the Earth, guess who will be sent out to the space to stop it?

(5) BALTICON AUTOGRAPH MACHINE. See George R.R. Martin sign and sign and sign in Chris Edwards’ half-minute video on Facebook.

(6) WISCON WARNING. Wondering what happened.

(7) CAPTAIN AMERICA SPOILER WARNING. With the mandatory warning out of the way, here is Brad Torgersen’s warning about violating fans’ expectations for a franchise.

Of course, the whole Captain America = Hydra Nazi thing, is a stunt. It will be eventually written up such that this shocking reveal is just the top-most layer on a plot cake wherein good old Steve is still true-blue American, and so forth. But by then the writers will have gotten what they wanted out of said stunt: attention, eyeballs, chatter, and (theoretically) sales.

Or . . . not?

Sometimes, stunts like this can dramatically backfire. If the audience suspects that it …is being shown contempt (by the creators) then the audience may very well turn its back. Superheroes are treasured icons for fans across the spectrum, and if you mess with those icons too much, you truly are playing with fire.

(8) IN A CAPTAIN CRUNCH. Echoing one of Torgersen’s notions about the fans no longer accepting the authority of the creator, comics veteran Gerry Conway has been besieged by fans trying to tell him the history behind Captain America. Here are a few examples from the Twitter exchange.

However, not everyone is engaging in the Captain America controversy with the same firestorm intensity….

(9) AUDIO BANDERSNATCH. Diana Pavlac Glyer’s Kickstarter funded – in fact, later today it achieved its first stretch goal.

I’m walking on SUNSHINE!! We met our funding goal for “Bandersnatch Goes AUDIO!!” Michael Ward will be narrating this book, and I am absolutely THRILLED. We still have one more day to meet some delicious stretch goals: I’d love to give each and every backer a copy of the 20-page discussion guide, and I’m still wondering if James A. Owen can draw a bandersnatch blindfolded. But for now, here’s the important thing: this is a real dream come true. This  audiobook will really really happen, and I want to thank YOU for taking part. I’m so excited and so, so grateful. WOOT!! Bandersnatch is going AUDIO!!

10) FAMILY REUNION. Fanac.org has uploaded video of “Science Fiction’s 50th Anniversary Family Reunion” from Noreascon 3 (1989). After the Sunday brunch, many of the greats reminisced – including Isaac Asimov, Terry Pratchett, Jack Williamson, Samuel Delany, Fred Pohl, Forry Ackerman, David Kyle, Connie Willis, and others.

(11) IT WAS A NEEDLESS TRAGEDY. The Onion has learned “Leaked Documents Reveal Studio Executives Knew About ‘Gods of Egypt’ Before It Released Onto Public”. Gasp!

Suggesting that the disastrous events of three months ago could have been averted, federal investigators stated Wednesday that a trove of leaked documents confirmed high-ranking studio executives had full knowledge of Gods Of Egypt long before the film was released onto unsuspecting Americans….

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, Michael J. Walsh, and Leslie Turek for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Will R.]

Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge Editorial

By Mike Resnick: Thanks to all the stink raised by both sides at Worldcon, I have an editorial, “The End of Worldcon as We Know It”, in the just published issue of Galaxy’s Edge. It’s accessable online for free…and if you’d like to run it in File 770, you have my blessing.

The End of Worldcon As We Know It

The recent brouhaha (a much better word than kerfluffle) over the Hugo ballot has caused a number of people, online and elsewhere, to proclaim that this is The End of Worldcon, at least the End of Worldcon As We Know It.

So it’s probably time for a little history lesson, because you know what will actually cause The End of Worldcon As We Know It?

Peace, camaraderie, and tranquility.

You think not?

Do you know what Fredrik Pohl, Donald A. Wollheim, Cyril M. Kornbluth, and Robert A. W. Lowndes have in common? I mean, besides their positions as giants in the annals of science fiction, with Wollheim and Pohl being Worldcon Guests of Honor, Kornbluth being still in print six decades after his premature death, and Lowndes editing for close to half a century?

They were all stopped at the door and not allowed to attend the very first Worldcon back in 1939.

No kidding. It was clearly going to be the End of Worldcon before it was even born.

It’s all written up in The Immortal Storm: A History of Science Fiction Fandom in the 1930s, by Sam Moskowitz, the guy who turned them away. (It seems they wouldn’t sign a pledge to behave and to not distribute Futurian John Michel’s Communist diatribe at the convention. Of course, while these four and Michel were being refused entry, Dave Kyle quietly brought a bundle of copies of Michel’s tract, Mutation or Death, into the con.)

It has become known in the field’s history books as The Exclusion Act. Well, in those histories written before 1956…after which it is known as the First Exclusion Act.

Move the clock ahead and stop it in 1964, the year of the Breendoggle.

You don’t know about the Breendoggle?

It seems that the Pacificon committee decided to bar the spouse of a major writer from attending, and this caused quite an uproar, to the point where literally half of fandom was threatening to boycott the convention if he came, and the other half threatened to boycott it if he was not permitted to attend. It was certainly going to be the End of Worldcon As We Know It.

At the last minute, the spouse elected not to attend, and the Worldcon went off as scheduled. So who was the spouse, I hear you ask? Walter Breen, the husband of Marion Zimmer Bradley. And why didn’t the committee want him to attend? If I tell you that he’d been arrested for pederasty in 1954, and died in jail in 1990 while serving time for child molesting, I think you’ll be able to intuit it.

Clifford D. Simak was not only a fine writer, but probably the most decent and gentle man ever to appear in this field. He was the Guest of Honor at the 1971 Worldcon, during the height of the truly acrimonious Old Wave/New Wave War. He spent most of his Guest of Honor speech talking not about himself, or his writing, or even science fiction, but rather attempting to make peace between the warring sides. Alas, he was too rational and made too much sense; the war continued unabated.

But (I hear you say) this End of Worldcon As We Know It is being caused by Hugo balloting, not all that other stuff that delights fannish historians every few years. Surely there’s never been a problem with voting before!

OK, guys—come back from Barsoom and Mesklin and Hyborea, and spend a little time in the real world again.

Not that long ago, in 1989, the Hugo Committee received a number of ballots for a certain up-and-coming artist. Problem was, most of the voters’ memberships were paid for with consecutively-numbered money orders from the same post office. The committee decided not to allow his name on the ballot, though he had enough paid-for votes. (I am told that some people are publicly buying and giving away a number of memberships to this year’s Worldcon. I have no idea what the Hugo committee plans to do about it.)

Of course, that’s far from the only “irregularity.” Remember a couple of years ago, in 2013, when there were only three short stories on the ballot? The reason for that is embedded in the Hugo rules: to make the ballot, a nominee in any category must receive at least 5% of the ballots cast.

Now remember back to 1994. Not the same situation, you say? You just looked, and there were five short stories nominated.

Well, you’re almost right. Only three short stories received 5% of the nominations. So the Hugo Administrator, in his infinite wisdom, added two novelettes to the ballot to fill it out—and sure enough, a novelette won the 1994 Hugo for Best Short Story.

Ah, but this year will be different, I hear you say. This year we’ll be voting No Award in a bunch of categories, and history will thank us.

Well, it just so happens that No Award has triumphed before. In fact, it has won Best Dramatic Presentation three different times. (Bet you didn’t know that Rod Serling’s classic “Twilight Zone” series lost to No Award, did you?)

But the most interesting and humiliating No Award came in 1959. The category was Best New Writer, and one of the losers was future Worldcon Guest of Honor and Nebula Grand Master Brian Aldiss, who actually won a Hugo in 1962, just three years later. That No Award was so embarrassing that they discontinued the category until they could find a sponsor eight years later, which is how the Campbell Award, sponsored by Analog, came into being.

Please note that I’ve limited myself to Worldcons. I haven’t mentioned the X Document or the Lem Affair or any of the other notable wars you can find in various pro and fannish histories (or probably even by just googling them). This editorial is only concerned with The End of Worldcon As We Know It.

And hopefully by now the answer should be apparent. You want to End Worldcon As We Know It? Don’t feud. Don’t boycott. Don’t be unpleasant. Don’t be unreasonable. Don’t raise your voices in mindless anger.

Do all that and none of us will recognize the Worldcon that emerges.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015)

Terry Pratchett in 2011.

Terry Pratchett in 2011.

Terry Pratchett passed away March 12 at home surrounded by his family reports his publisher. He was the author of 70 books, among them 40 in the Discworld series of comic fantasies that began with The Colour of Magic in 1983.

Pratchett’s first sale was a short story, “The Hades Business,” published when he was 15. Early in his career he worked as a journalist and as a press officer for nuclear power generating utility.

Once he turned to fiction full time he enjoyed phenomenal popularity. Pratchett was the top-selling and highest earning UK author in 1996. In 2008, he was top author on The Bookseller’s first-ever “evergreen” list of 12 titles that had never fallen out of the top 5,000 since Nielsen BookScan began collecting data, three of which were his early Discworld novels The Colour of Magic, Mort and The Light Fantastic. (He was also near the top of the list of writers whose books were thieved from UK bookshops, with The Colour of Magic placing third on the list of Ten Most Stolen Books in 2009.)

Pratchett co-authored The Science of Discworld with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, a Hugo nominee in 2000.

He participated in ”Science Fiction’s 50th Anniversary Family Reunion” at Noreascon Three (1989):

Terry Pratchett recalled that at newsstands in Britain the good magazines were on the top shelf and sf was on the bottom shelf, from which he argued the shortness of old British sf fans was a matter of natural selection. More seriously, Pratchett said he learned from sf that mathematics was actually interesting, which no one else was telling him. “Good old sf – whenever I’ve needed you, you’ve always been there.”

He was a guest of honor at Noreascon 4, the 2004 Worldcon.

In December 2007, Pratchett announced that he was suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. He immediately became an active spokesman about Alzheimer’s and its impact on individuals and society. In 2008 the Daily Mail published “Terry Pratchett: ‘I’m Slipping Away A Bit At A Time…And All I Can Do Is Watch It Happen’”, the author’s extraordinary essay on his Alzheimer’s affliction:

I spoke to a fellow sufferer recently (or as I prefer to say, ‘a person who is thoroughly annoyed with the fact they have dementia’) who talked in the tones of a university lecturer and in every respect was quite capable of taking part in an animated conversation.

Nevertheless, he could not see the teacup in front of him. His eyes knew that the cup was there; his brain was not passing along the information. This disease slips you away a little bit at a time and lets you watch it happen.

He also investigated “assisted suicide” (although he disliked that term), wrote a public lecture, Shaking Hands With Death, in 2010 and in 2011 presented a BBC television documentary on the subject titled Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die. However, The Telegraph reports that his death was natural.

Pratchett was knighted by the Queen for his services to literature in a 2009 ceremony, Elizabeth dubbing the kneeling author on each shoulder with her sword.

Although he did not win a Hugo or Nebula, he received many other accolades: a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement (2010), the Andre Norton Award (for YA sf/f, presented by SFWA in parallel with the Nebulas) for I Shall Wear Midnight (2011), the British Science Fiction Association Award for his novel Pyramids (1989), the Mythopoeic Award for Children’s Literature for A Hat Full of Sky (2005), and the Prometheus Award for his novel Night Watch (2003). An asteroid (127005 Pratchett) is named after him.

Gaiman Pratchett Good OmensLast April Sir Terry Pratchett was the Author of the Day for the Opening Day of the 2014 London Book Fair. In December he and his friend and collaborator Neil Gaiman made cameo appearances in BBC Radio 4’s production of Good Omens.

After learning of his friend’s death, Neil Gaiman published an emotional tribute.

Admitting he knew Sir Terry’s death had been coming, he said, “it made it no easier”.

I woke up and my email was all condolences from friends, and requests for statements from journalists, and I knew it had happened. I’d been warned.

Thirty years and a month ago, a beginning author met a young journalist in a Chinese Restaurant, and the two men became friends, and they wrote a book, and they managed to stay friends despite everything. Last night, the author died.

There was nobody like him. I was fortunate to have written a book with him, when we were younger, which taught me so much.

I’ll miss you, Terry.

I’m not up to writing anything yet. Maybe one day.

The public acknowledgement of Pratchett’s passing included these three tweets on his Twitter account:

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]

Update 03/12/2015: Corrected an award citation to British Science Fiction Association Award.

Worldcon Wayback Machine: Monday at Noreascon 3 (1989)

Kelly Freas

Kelly Freas

Monday, September 4, 1989 at Noreascon Three. Final installment of my reminiscences about the once-in-a-generation convention that took place 25 years ago this week.

This is really only a postscript. My work schedule made it necessary for me to fly home and miss the last day of Noreascon 3. Yet luck was with me. I still picked up a good story while waiting for the plane.

Rainy Days and Mondays: With a cup of coffee in front of me I might have been any commuter, but Laura and Kelly Freas hesitated, decided they knew a Hugo when they saw one, and joined me at my table beside the jetway snack stand. Once Kelly recovered from Laura’s discovery that the stand wasn’t licensed to sell any of the beer visible in a refrigerated display case until 8:00 a.m., and in fact was doing a land office business in muffins, he and I traded pleasantries about the Hugos.

Kelly remembered being offended by the shoddy 1970 Hugo base given at Heidelberg (“looked like scraps from someone’s barn door”), inexplicably bad woodwork from the country famed for Black Forest cuckoo clocks. When Freas got home he chucked the committee’s base and made his own. Bruce Pelz later told me – the 1970 Hugo bases truly were cobbled together from an old barn door by Mario Bosnyak when the real bases failed to arrive.

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov’s Speech at Noreascon Three: Over a thousand fans attended the featured event on Monday’s program, a speech by Isaac Asimov. Edward F. Roe sent me an account of what I missed. Here are some choice paragraphs from his report.

By Edward F. Roe: Asimov was asked to write a sequel to his Foundation Trilogy 30 years after its first publication. In the words of one of his critics, “nothing happens” in an Asimov story. “Nothing happens” means that no one gets killed, raped, or blows up the galaxy. When Isaac re-read the Foundation Series he commented, “You know, that guy was right. Nothing happens.” Asimov’s prose employs dialog heavily, and what the people say is interesting. Asimov went to the publisher and said he couldn’t write a sequel. The publisher took the time and explained it very nicely. He said get out of here, go home and write!

Asimov states that only people over 65 years old understand the Great Depression. To him it was the greatest disaster in human history not involving war or plague. It left him with a deep sense of insecurity. His family owned a candy store and he worked 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, except for school. It was impressed on Asimov that this was a normal work week, a habit he maintains to this day. He feels insecure when he is not working. He said, “Mentally I’m still imprisoned in that candy store.” Even though he has written many hundreds of books he still feels he has many books yet to write. He said that his dying thought will be, “Only six hundred?”

And with that Noreascon Three went into the history books as one of the best Worldcons ever. For most of the 6,837 members it was all over…except for the many volunteers who stayed to take apart the art show hangings, cart away the exhibits, roll up Warp Drive and Alice Way, and do the thousand-and-one other jobs involved in winding down a Worldcon. Even they were soon on their way out the door like everyone else, richer in memories and anticipating the new friendships they’d make next year in Holland.

Worldcon Wayback Machine: Sunday at Noreascon 3 (1989)

Kirby Bartlett-Sloan and Chris Barkley in the daily newzine office at Noreascon 3.

Kirby Bartlett-Sloan and Chris Barkley in the daily newzine office at Noreascon 3.

Sunday, September 3, 1989 at Noreascon Three. Fifth installment of my reminiscences about the once-in-a-generation convention that took place 25 years ago this week.

Sunday In The Park With George: As I set up the Fanzine Sales table Sunday morning in the ConCourse a bearded fan sauntered past with his hands clasped behind him and his chin thrust out, loudly whistling assorted birdcalls. I lost sight of him behind a virtual tree in Jekyll Park.

Tony Ubelhor and I were at the table after the Sunday Brunch when an unfamiliar fan sidled up to the exhibit, standing half hidden by a pillar by the corner table. “Is SF Randomly still being published?” he asked nervously. We said yes, pointing at the issues for sale. With prodding the fan explained, “I was supposed to send them an article, but I haven’t done it. Are the editors around?” We told him they had been here and would be back soon – but showing all the disappointment of someone who was out when the collection agency called he slipped back into the crowd and was not seen again.

When Steve Antczak, editor of SF Randomly, returned Tony couldn’t resist yanking his chain. “Some Arizona fan asked us if SF Randomly was still publishing. We didn’t have the heart to tell him it folded.” Antczak yelped excitedly, “We’re still publishing!”

Martin Morse Wooster came by the table after his “lightning inspection” of the Moscow in ’95 bid party. Moscow, as in Russia, Red Square and Gorby, is Michael Sinclair’s brainchild. They had flyers all over the convention. Wooster said he found nobody from the ostensible committee at the party. Martin pieced together the rumors. “Apparently when asked Intourist said ‘Swell’ and the mayor of Moscow said ‘We need the cash.’ They haven’t talked to any Soviet writers and publishers.” Wooster smiled his Evil Commissar smile and in a bad accent said of fans who might go to a Moscow Worldcon, “These are rich people – they deserve the best!”

Say Da to Moscow bid passport.

Say Da to Moscow bid passport.

To attract presupporters Moscow in ’95 gave each a mock Soviet passport with red cover and gray pages divided to make room for the rubber-stamped visas Sinclair would enter at each convention where they held a bidding party. If the “Say Da” bid were merely an excuse to throw parties it wouldn’t have merited so much attention, but I remembered how the Bermuda Triangle in ’88 bidders encouraged people’s assumption they were joking until the committee found enough support to permit them to take the wraps off their serious ambition to run a cruise ship Worldcon. Afterwards they laughed their way to a second-place Site Selection finish in a field of four.

At 2:30 Sunday afternoon the ARA snackbar was overflowing with burger smoke sufficient to fill its corner of Hall C and begin to drift through the hall. It was like having an exhibit behind a bus. Rick Foss accused Seth Breidbart of arranging a barbecue in an enclosed room with smoke alarms, but Seth denied it was part of the Hoax Division program. We nervously observed that no alarms had been triggered by the dense pall of smoke. Theresa Renner added her ironic appreciation, “As a vegetarian, if there’s one thing I really like it’s being in a room full of burning animal fat.”

Maia Cowan came by wearing the best button seen at Noreascon Three: “HELLO – MY NAME IS BATMAN. YOU KILLED MY FATHER. PREPARE TO DIE.”

WSFS Business Meeting: Business meeting chairman Don Eastlake III lightened the usually pompous tone of the Business Meeting by appointing as his Sergeant-at-Arms a real sergeant. Standing in uniform astride the center aisle was Staff Sergeant Theresa Renner, librarian of the US Marine Band. Theresa wielded her mace, explaining the mace is always symbolic and never used…then set the can of spice on the chair next to her. When a passing smof threw Theresa a salute, Joe Rico prompted, “Tell him not to salute you – you work for a living.”

At Saturday’s Main Business Meeting the 120 or so fans present were given a lot of individual items to deal with, but tended to dispose of them rather expeditiously with the guidance of Eastlake and his timekeeper Rick Katze.

Three amendments to the WSFS Constitution passed by NOLAcon II were presented for ratification by Noreascon Three members. The voters rejected an expanded definition of WSFS membership. They defeated the rule which would have prevented a North American Worldcon Zone from being passed over successively (as the Western zone was in 1987 and 1990). They approved the technical language expressing the term of office for members of the Mark Registration Committee.

New amendments fared poorly. Two new Hugo categories were promptly disposed of, known in shorthand as the “otherwise ineligible materials” Hugo, and the “Worldcon rescuers” Hugo. Also failing was the proposal to expand the existing Best Nonfiction Hugo to cover “science or natural philosophy” as well as science fiction, inspired by Noreascon’s decision not to allow Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time as a nominee. A motion to extend the lead time for Site Selection voting from three to four years failed 55-63.

Advocates like Mike Wallis were disappointed that the proposed changes to the Best Professional Artist Hugo were not enacted. Nor were they rejected, but the amendment was downgraded to a resolution and Jo Thomas’ offer to run the new category as the one-shot Hugo 1990’s ConFiction is permitted by the constitution could have clashed with other plans of the Dutch committee. The original scheme would have replaced Best Pro Artist with three Hugos for Best Book Cover, Best Magazine Cover and Best Interior Illustration. Some fans persisted in searching for a nonexistent role for convention art show entries in this amendment, helping to cloud the issue.

Don Eastlake committed the blooper of the weekend while trying to explain NASFiC by-mail voting procedures when he uttered, “…at that point the ballots are fixed…” The Business Meeting howled at this bit of in-humor.

The Mark Registration Committee terms of Bruce Pelz, Fran Skene and Tim Illingworth expired this year. They ran against Martin Hoare, Craig Miller and Bruce Farr. All incumbents were re-elected.

Orlando in '92 bid table at Noreascon 3. Tony Parker (left), Melanie Herz (right), Dan Siclari reading a flyer. Photo by Phylis Brown from Fanac.org site.

Orlando in ’92 bid table at Noreascon 3. Tony Parker (left), Melanie Herz (right), Dan Siclari reading a flyer. Photo by Phylis Brown from Fanac.org site.

The Sunday Business Meeting announced the Site Selection results – letting the cat out of the cellophane bag.

Orlando having finished the race uncontested, when Joe Siclari came up to announce MagiCon’s information there was a momentary sense of anticlimax before parliamentarian Kent Bloom gave the cue for a last bit of business by the DC in ’92 committee. Bloom, a member of the withdrawn DC bid, looked down from the dais and said with a big smile, “We would like to formally tender our surrender.”

DC in '92 Worldcon bid card.

DC in ’92 Worldcon bid card.

At the same time Robert J. McIntyre, on bended knee, presented Siclari with some triangular-folded red, white and blue bunting salvaged from the Republican convention in New Orleans that had decorated DC parties. Shutterbugs made them re-enact the moment quite as the Marine flag-raising at Iwo Jima was restaged for photographers.

Sunday was also “question time” for representatives of next year’s Worldcon, ConFiction in The Hague. Someone asked about progress report delivery problems. A NESFAn who’d helped mail the Dutch PRs, which arrived as a bulk shipment at Logan Airport, said some of the packages were received waterstained: “I can’t imagine how that happened on an airplane, and I don’t want to think about it.”

A favorite activity in the fanzine exhibit was to rub the top of the display case to make the pages jump up and adhere to the plastic due to static electricity. Photo by Kirby Bartlett-Sloan.

A favorite activity in the fanzine exhibit was to rub the plastic top of the display case to make the pages jump up and adhere to the plastic due to static electricity. Photo by Kirby Bartlett-Sloan.

The Masquerade: Noreascon’s Masquerade emcee was the feisty Pat Kennedy. Among his announcements he said, “We have no smoking. If I can quit, you can quit.”

There were 55 entries in the masquerade. The panel of judges was Mike Symes, D. Jeanette Holloman, Patricia Mercier Gill, Janet Wilson Anderson and Ann Layman Chancellor. Workmanship judge was Peggy Kennedy.

Some of the humorous entries are most prominent in memory. “The Gravity Research Institute” came on stage about eight strong wearing utilityman’s orange coveralls draped with elaborate electronic apparatus and carrying tricorders and other gadgets. One of the party dropped a yellow-striped brick on the ground. The researchers stared significantly as it struck the stage and rolled over, scribbed notes, and hurried on to their next test.

Darth Vagrant in Noreascon 3 Masquerade. Photo by Gordon McGregor.

Darth Vagrant in Noreascon 3 Masquerade. Photo by Gordon McGregor.

Darth Vagrant lumbered on stage to the Empire Strikes Back theme, black helmeted but carrying a Hefty bag. When the music changed to the Batman theme, though, he plucked off his helmet to reveal the purple cowl beneath, and ran offstage to fight crime.

Takayana, the Costumer from Hell, wore clashing colors and examples of every masquerade cliché, one leg in gartered stocking, a green fur hindleg, a sequined ruff, a wig and so on.

The “Mermaid With A Vengeance” was said to be “seeking diplomatic exchange” with the Exxon Corporation: she balanced on her green tail, brandishing a bow and arrow.

Best In Show went to Deborah K. Jones’ “Dread Warrior,” inspired by the ceramic sculpture “Streamline Robot” by Toby Buonagurio.

The Cult apa séance at Noreascon 3. L-R: KT Fitzsimmons, Elst Weinstein, (?), Rich Lynch, Nicki Lynch, Kathleen Meyer, Kirby Bartlett-Sloan (on floor to right). (It was really just a party, but that's what they called it.)

The Cult apa séance at Noreascon 3. L-R: KT Fitzsimmons, Elst Weinstein, (?), Rich Lynch, Nicki Lynch, Kathleen Meyer, Kirby Bartlett-Sloan (on floor to right). (Don’t tell anybody it was really only a room party.)

The 1989 Hogu Ranquet: Considering the Ranquet is virtually always held at a local McDonald’s – which this year looked deceptively like a Burger King a block from the Hynes Auditorium – there could be no more appropriate Hogu guest than the author of “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburger Stand.” Guest of Honor Lawrence Watt-Evans said, “This proves I finally made it. I wasn’t sure – last year I won one of those joke awards….” Putting the importance of literature in its proper perspective, Watt-Evans observed that Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings has sold 11 million copies, “Which is about one-quarter of the people who watched every episode of My Mother The Car.”

Lawrence Watt-Evans never recovered from being the 1989 Hogu Ranquet guest of honor.

Lawrence Watt-Evans never recovered from being the 1989 Hogu Ranquet guest of honor.

Such dignitaries as Julie Evans, Martha Soukup, Brian Burley and Tom Galloway listened to Elst Weinstein explain the Hogu selection procedure. Said Elst, “The voting system has changed over the years.” Yes, we used to count them. Somebody shouted, “Don’t worry – I’m from Brooklyn – I have plenty of postal money orders!”

Too bad, actually: this was a strictly-cash operation. With 60 people on hand there were tidal waves on a sea of green making sure a broad spectrum of favorites (or whatever the right antonym may be) won. . I was a bit self-conscious sitting in the Boylston Street Burger King while someone ran through the aisle waving a dollar bill and shouting, “Dianetics! Dianetics!” Elst made one small exception to the cash-only rule: he accepted an Exxon credit card – cut in half – as worth $5 voting credit in a category where the oil company was nominated.

Hogu commission membership cardThere was a commotion when Elvis made an appearance at the Hogus. It seems some local college group had picked the same hamburger joint at the same time and was conducting some meeting of their own when Elvis passed by to tell them hello. It was promptly dubbed the Best Hoax Appearance at a Hogu Ranquet.

Stupidity Is Also A Crime: Four huckster tables were hit by thieves during Noreascon Three, taking two copies of a limited edition of Stephen King’s Gunslinger, two other King rarities (one a British edition), and a signed limited edition Batman worth over $2,000.

One of the victimized dealers has a shop in the city. A man walked in and asked the employee at the counter would he be interested in buying one of the rarities at a good price? Aware of the theft, the employee said sure, they probably wanted to buy the book but needed the manager’s approval. A time was set for the fan to return to transact the sale.

While Boston police were still jumping all over the first fan, two others walked in with more stolen collectibles for sale saying, “Say, I understand you bought some stuff like this from my friend….”

Remembering “Science Fiction’s 50th Anniversary Family Reunion” at Noreascon Three (1989)

Noreascon Three marked the 50th Anniversary of the first World SF Convention, held in New York in 1939, by hosting a Sunday brunch that featured testimonials from every fannish generation, including from several people who had been to the original Worldcon (and one who had been thrown out of it!)

I asked Ellen Franklin of Noreascon Three’s Extravaganza Division what she recalled about organizing the brunch. Ellen answered:

What I do remember is that my team and I tried to create memorable moments, events where people could share in a heart based way and feel they had a voice, that what they said truly mattered. I still feel that way when people gather together, the most important thing is to create a true sense of community.

As I recall speaking order was definitely arranged and the event was loosely scripted to create diversity of comments–we also had Arthur C. Clarke from Sri Lanka I believe on audio perhaps with a photo of him. Hard to remember if it were today we would have used Skype. Jim Hudson remembers we also wanted everyone from the old pros, to fans, and newbies to talk about what the World Con meant to them or how their lives had been influenced, etc. It was incredibly important to me that these be heart based and meaningful and not ego driven, and I found a way to politely ask this of people when they were invited to speak…and somehow it all worked.

Breakfast With The Timebinders by Mike Glyer: Watching Noreascon’s Sunday Brunch unfold I thought: there may be other days like this but there won’t be many, and the ones we do have are to be cherished.

Isaac Asimov in Noreascon 3 dealers room. Photo by Gordon McGregor from Fanac.org site.

Isaac Asimov in Noreascon 3 dealers room. Photo by Gordon McGregor from Fanac.org site.

Isaac Asimov1, an appropriate “first speaker,” set the theme: “This is the fiftieth anniversary [of the first Worldcon] so this is a nostalgic brunch.” Asimov attended the first one and sounded less embarrassed than proud that he had not been turned back at the door with six other Futurian rabble-rousers2. Indeed, Asimov told the 1939 audience “I was the worst science fiction writer unhung.” Asimov said he’d refreshed his memory of 1939 by reading the Panshins’ The World Beyond The Hill, which chronicles the ascendancy of Campbell (and presumably Asimov) in the golden age of Astounding.

With the house lights down and Asimov standing in a spotlight, the barrage of flash photography may have helped record the golden moment for some at the expense of others seeing it at all. Though slow to come, an emphatic order against all flashes was crucial to the precious moments that followed. For the rest of the program attention moved around the room as spotlights focused on speakers at different tables, building emotional momentum as long-time pros and fans spoke about the impact of science fiction and its Worldcons on their lives.

Dave Kyle in 2011.

Dave Kyle

Asimov’s spotlight flicked off and a second one found Dave Kyle3 at a nearby table. Said Kyle, “Science fiction has not changed my life – science fiction is my life.” Kyle credited Forry Ackerman for his introduction to science fiction. As a 16-year-old Kyle sold his first sf story to Charles Hornig4, who at that moment was seated at Dave’s table. (Hornig’s magazine folded before the story saw print.) Kyle said, like Asimov, he also was admitted to the first Worldcon only because Sam Moskowitz didn’t realize that the Futurians’ controversial publications had been printed by him. When Kyle married, he bragged, he had 53 people on his honeymoon – a charter flight to the first Worldcon in London.

Betty Ballantine5 remembered as a child reading Dracula late at night in the jungle of India by lantern light with jackals howling and birds making weird sounds. As an adult she remembered the friendships she made in sf, working with the people she most admired.

Jack Williamson6 recalled, “In 1926 I was 18, had gotten out of a country high school with actually six years of schooling, had no job,” but in 1926 he saw Gernsback’s Amazing Stories and can still recite its table of contents. “I read that and I was born again.” With a borrowed typewriter he started writing his own sf, and next year Gernsback began buying it.

Terry Pratchett in 2011.

Terry Pratchett in 2011.

Terry Pratchett7 recalled that at newsstands in Britain the good magazines were on the top shelf and sf was on the bottom shelf, from which he argued the shortness of old British sf fans was a matter of natural selection. More seriously, Pratchett said he learned from sf that mathematics was actually interesting, which no one else was telling him. “Good old sf – whenever I’ve needed you, you’ve always been there.”

Andre Norton8 was wheeled from the brunch to a standing ovation. Then the spotlight picked out Kees Van Toorn9, 30-ish chairman of the 1990 Worldcon in Holland. Kees invoked the name of Mario Bosnyak, who brought the Worldcon to Heidelberg, its first and only time in mainland Europe [to that time], and Kees’ own first Worldcon.

Gregory Benford10 also went to his first convention in Germany, but 14 years earlier, in 1956. Benford’s father was in the Army and stationed there. Benford and his brother both had to learn a foreign language. “I had to learn English – because I’m from Alabama.” Greg’s first Worldcon was Pacificon II (1964) in Oakland. He also went to the next Bay Area Worldcon in 1968. “It’s aptly been said that if you remember BayCon you weren’t there.” BayCon was held in the Claremont “where the rooms were so small we were told not to complain to the hotel management but to the humane society.” Benford, a professor of physics, said, “It’s impossible to convey what it’s like to do science and write science fiction – great freedom of movement.”

Gregory and Jim Benford in Germany in 1956. From Fanac.org site.

Gregory and Jim Benford in Germany in 1956. From Fanac.org site.

Jane Yolen11 cast her remarks in rhyming doggerel, one a couplet expressing her wish that “A fantasy book would at last win the Hugo.” Her wish was loudly applauded by everyone who has forgotten Jack Vance’s Hugo for The Last Castle.

Forrest J Ackerman12 began to recount his life in science fiction at sufficient length and with so many examples present time seem to have lost all meaning for him until, with a gleam in his eye, Forry concluded, “You can see in my 50 years of science fiction I’ve accomplished about as much as in a lazy afternoon for Isaac Asimov.”

Mike Resnick’s13 implied comparison between the community he and Carol found at the 1963 Worldcon and the present was like a bolt of lightning. Attendance at Discon I was 600. Rooms were $8 apiece. The banquet was held in the afternoon because nobody could afford the evening rates, and even so the $3 charge almost caused a riot. The most expensive piece sold in the Art Show was a cover by Frazetta that went for $70, a price so high fans doubted it would ever be equaled. The pros wrote and performed a play for the benefit for the fans. Writers thought they could make $7,500 a year – if Robert Silverberg ever stopped selling 30 stories a month. The huckster room sold only books and magazines. Fans who read sf outnumbered those who didn’t. Resnick said that now he comes to the Worldcon mostly for business, but there is still that sense of community he found in 1963.

Takumi Shibano at Nolacon II in 1988. From the Fanac.org site.

Takumi Shibano at Nolacon II in 1988. From the Fanac.org site.

Japan’s Takumi Shibano14 published the fanzine Uchuujin (“space dust”), credited with the birth of Japanese fandom. He said, “Nationality doesn’t matter now. I just think of myself as a fan.” In 1939 when he read H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds it reconstructed his view of the world. “The idea that humanity might not be the lords of creation shocked this junior high school boy.”

Hal Clement15 was a fan who became a science teacher and aspired to write a sf story with no science errors. He’s been trying for 48 years, just like for 40 years he tried to write a chemistry test where all the students would interpret every question as he meant it.

Artist Richard Powers16 introduced himself tongue-in-cheek as “one of Betty Ballantine’s more recent inventions.” Powers styled himself a veteran of the “rack space wars” who worked at Hearst “wielding a baseball bat” when Ian Ballantine brought him over to their team of ruffians to work with Fred Pohl “who favored a length of lead pipe.”

Rather than a spotlight for Arthur C. Clarke17 there was a slide of his image beamed out at a large screen in front of the hall as he spoke in a recorded phone call from Sri Lanka. He began, “Science fiction didn’t affect my life, it created my life.” Clarke spoke fondly of the genre, but didn’t forget to needle Isaac Asimov.

Michael Whelan’s18 painful shyness and self-effacement hindered his start in the genre. He would never have approached a Frazetta or a Freas for an appraisal of his work, “Even though it’s exactly what I needed at the time.” He didn’t respect the opinion of those “outside the business” while at the same time he assumed those in the business of fantasy art would be too busy, or his work would be too embarrassing. In 1974, Whelan’s casual discovery of a San Diego Comic-Con flyer moved him to show his work. When he came back at the end of the weekend, he was amazed to find all his work had sold – of course, the asking price was $15. A volunteer agented his artwork at the 1974 Worldcon. Anxiously he waited for the results and learned over the phone one painting had won Best SF – in the professional division! He soon had his first paperback cover assignment from DAW. It all happened in the space of a month-and-a-half.

Samuel Delany19 went by Greyhound to his first Worldcon in 1966, only $36 in his pocket to get him through an entire weekend in Cleveland. He wound up in a room for $4.50 a night. Delany remembers 3,000 people at the con (the record shows 850) emphasizing how lonely he felt among a crowd of people he didn’t know and didn’t know him. A 15-year-old who’d been to three cons took him in hand and introduced him to lots of folks. After four hours the kid asked Delany what he did for a living. “I write sf.” The kid was delighted, “Wow – you’re a pro! And here I am showing you around the convention.” Just last year the kid published Delany’s Hugo-winning nonfiction book.

Frederik Pohl20 said, “Science fiction changed my life…. It gave me a profession. The best kind. I do all the things I like, that I would do for nothing – and people give me money for it.” As Pohl waxed nostalgic about the 1939 Worldcon one began to wonder which Futurians actually got excluded from the con. Pohl claimed even he got in – at least until Wil Sykora saw him and threw him out. Pohl claims that was no great loss. He went to the bar next door and found all the pros in there.

Will Shetterly and Emma Bull in 1994. Photo from Wikipedia.

Will Shetterly and Emma Bull in 1994. Photo from Wikipedia.

Emma Bull21 remembered as a college student she passed her time in a clinic waiting room by reading Foundation. Another girl asked, “Is that good? My boyfriend has been trying to get me to read it.” Emma knew, “She was really asking, ‘Is my boyfriend okay?’” Looking straight at Isaac Asimov, Emma repeated her answer: “I allowed as how the Foundation Trilogy was pretty good.” The audience gasped with laughter. The girl and her boyfriend visited Emma that very night. The boyfriend sat with Emma in front of the bookshelf comparing notes on what they’d read. The boyfriend was Will Shetterly, and borrowing a line Emma concluded, “Reader – I married him!”

Art Widner at Torcon III in 2003.

Art Widner at Torcon III in 2003.

Said Art Widner22, “Like so many fen, I was the Old Weird Harold on my block, carrying home those lurid pulp magazines with nubile bimbos on the cover wearing VW hubcap bras – which was remarkable because Volkswagen hadn’t been invented yet.” Widner said like Voyager 2 after 10 years he had explored the local system, science fiction fandom, and went to see what lay beyond. “Thirty-five years later I came back to report: it’s pretty lonely out there.” He returned to fandom as an “eo-neo” and bumped into Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden “who knew who I was – or rather, had been.”

Anita Raj, contemporary photo.

Anita Raj, contemporary photo.

The spotlight found the last speaker in the center aisle, diminutive Anita Raj23, who told her story: “This is my first Worldcon. A month ago I was a simple mundane and wandered into a work session for this convention.” She collated, stapled and mailed, and wound up with a radio and a beeper in charge of a gang of teamsters during Hynes set-up. “Don’t even try, because you can’t get rid of me now.”

Fans with longer memories than mine had probably identified with and been moved by all that had gone before, but for me it was Anita Raj who put the exclamation point at the end of the story and brought tears to my eyes.

Tears were probably in Isaac Asimov’s eyes, too – for having to wait so long to top Arthur C. Clarke’s dig at him. Payback time came during Asimov’s closing remarks.

“About six weeks ago there was an airplane crash in an Iowa cornfield24 which a hundred people survived. Others unfortunately died. Newspapers reported that one of the survivors was reading an Arthur C. Clarke novel before the crash. When Arthur saw that he immediately had 750 copies made, which he mailed to 750 friends, acquaintances and strangers.” As a postscript to Asimov’s copy Clarke wrote, “He should have been reading an Asimov novel: he would have slept through the whole thing.” Asimov huffed, “I wrote back to Arthur that the reason he was reading a Clarke novel was so that if the plane crashed it would be a blessed relief!”


1. Isaac Asimov lived less than three more years, passing away in April 1992. Later that same year his story “Gold” won the Best Novelette Hugo. During his career he wrote or edited over 500 books. Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate in economics, credits Asimov’s concept of psychohistory with inspiring him to become an economist.

2. Futurian rabble-rousers. An ironic description. The Futurians were at feud with the other New York fans who were the main organizers of the first Worldcon and refused to let them attend.

3. Dave Kyle is still with us. In Mimosa #17, “I Miss the Banquets”, Kyle wrote:  “A joyful revival of the banquet came at Noreascon Three, in 1989, with a luncheon honoring Guest of Honor Andre Norton. She sat in her wheelchair between my wife Ruth and me, and received a standing applause of appreciation as she rolled out of the room in the glare of the spotlight. It was an excellent reminder of the tradition that had once been. With Isaac Asimov as toastmaster, the dozen brief speeches on the theme of what science fiction and fandom meant to each speaker was a powerful moment for a memorable convention.”

4. Charles Hornig created one of the first fanzines in 1933, and became the teen-aged managing editor of Wonder Stories from November 1933 to April 1936. He lived until 1999.

5. Betty Ballantine, born 1919, is still alive. She was given a World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2007 and the Ballantines were both inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2008, with a shared citation.

6. Jack Williamson received a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1994. He was part of the inaugural class of inductees to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1996. The Horror Writers Association gave him its Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1998. The World Horror Convention elected him Grand Master in 2004. Jack died in 2006 at home in New Mexico at age 98. A great deal of his work remains in print thanks to the Haffner Press.

7. Terry Pratchett was knighted for his services to literature in the 2009 Queens’ New Year Honours list. The title acknowledged not only his literary output — 36 novels in the Discworld series alone – but his service as a public spokesman for research into Alzheimer’s since being diagnosed with the disease.

8. Andre Norton, despite her frailties, lived until 2005. She was the first woman to be Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy (1977), first to be SFWA Grand Master (1984), and first inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame (1997).

9. Van Toorn chaired ConFiction the following year (1990), which was the second Worldcon held in mainland Europe. There hasn’t been another yet.

10. Gregory Benford, a Professor Emeritus, Physics & Astronomy, of UC Irvine, two-time Nebula winner, writes frequently about science policy and cultural topics. His latest sf output includes two novels in collaboration with Larry Niven, Bowl of Heaven and Shipstar.

11. Jane Yolen has won two Nebulas since that afternoon (1998 and 1999), received a World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement (2009) and been named a Grand Master Poet by the SF Poetry Association. She lives in Massachusetts. And despite my tart comment in 1989, these days I agree with everyone else that The Last Castle was sf. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the first fantasy novel to win a Hugo (2001).

12. Forrest J Ackerman survived to celebrate his 92nd birthday, then passed away on December 4, 2008. Even minus the items separately sold to Paul Allen, the auction of collectibles remaining in his estate fetched over a quarter million dollars.

13. Mike Resnick, who won his first Hugo at Noreascon Three, now has won a total of five. He’s also won a raft of other awards (including a Nebula), one of them a Seiun for the Japanese translation of the same story that won him his first Hugo – “Kirinyaga” (2000). He was Worldcon guest of honor in 2012.

14. Takumi Shibano, an internationally beloved fan, was twice Worldcon guest of honor: at L.A.con III (1996) and Nippon 2007. He passed away in 2010.

15. Harry Stubbs, aka Hal Clement, aka artist George Richard, was inducted to the SF Hall of Fame in 1998 and was named a SFWA Grand Master Award in 1999. He received a Retro Hugo Award in 1996 for his 1945 short story “Uncommon Sense.” He passed away in 2003.

16. Richard Powers, inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2008, also was Worldcon guest of honor at MagiCon (1992). He lived until 1996.

17. Arthur C. Clarke received a CBE in 1989 and was knighted in 2000. He died in 2008 and his legacy includes the award named for him that is given to the best British sf novel of the year, and the Arthur C. Clarke Center for the Human Imagination at UC San Diego.

18. At Noreascon 3, Michael Whelan tied Kelly Freas’ mark of 10 Best Professional Artist Hugos and to date he has won a total of 15. Whelan was inducted to the SF Hall of Fame in 2009.

19. Samuel Delany was inducted to the SF Hall of Fame in 2002 and was presented the SFWA Grand Master Award in 2014. He was Worldcon guest of honor at Intersection (1995). He is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia.

20. Frederik Pohl was selected to the SF Hall of Fame in 1998 and was given the SFWA Grand Master Award in 1993. He came full circle, in a way, winning a Best Fan Writer Hugo in 2009 largely for his autobiographical posts on The Way The Future Blogs. He passed away in 2013.

21. Emma Bull’s credits include serving as Executive Producer and one of the writers for Shadow Unit. Bull and Shetterly live in Minneapolis.

22. Art Widner, who won a Big Heart Award at Noreascon Three, received the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award in 1992. Impressively, he is still an active fan today.

23. Anita Raj is on Facebook. I was not successful in getting a comment about the anniversary.

24. Asimov had in mind the crash landing of United Airlines Flight 232 in Sioux City six weeks earlier, where 111 died in the accident while 185 survived, their survival attributed to the outstanding manner in which the flight crew handled the emergency. The events later became a TV Movie with Charlton Heston, James Coburn and Richard Thomas.

Worldcon Wayback Machine: Saturday at Noreascon 3 (1989)

Myth Adventures Fan Club flyer by Christopher Smigliano.

Myth Adventures Fan Club flyer by Christopher Smigliano advertising their Saturday night party at Noreascon Three.

Saturday at Noreascon Three. Third installment of my reminiscences about a once-in-a-generation convention that took place 25 years ago this week.

Lights, Camera, Inaction! Fire marshals threw a large monkey wrench into plans for opening the Art Show when they disapproved a lighting setup that had passed muster at other conventions. Not until Saturday was the con allowed to turn on the full array.

According to Chip Hitchcock in Instant Message #464: “At about 11 a.m. Thursday the hotel electrician and other people visited us and told us a lot of our things were unacceptable. One of the main concerns was a new city ordinance prohibiting unshielded bulbs, which might break if a 9-foot-tall fan bumped into them.”

Chairman Mark Olson explained, “The hotel did have concerns about fires; there was a genuine hotel room fire in a room in the South Tower [of the Sheraton] Wednesday morning, believed to have been caused by a TV set…”

Kurt Siegel at MagiCon in 1992. Photo by Mark Olson on Fanac.org site.

Kurt Siegel at MagiCon in 1992. Photo by Mark Olson on Fanac.org site.

Hitchcock continued: “The fire marshal arrived around 2 p.m. and questioned our fireworthiness. He wanted to see our hangings’ flameproofing certificate… Anton Chernoff thought he had it; went home and fortunately found it.” When the word went out the con found other help. “Teresa Renner remembered a gopher in Registration who was a fireman: Kurt Siegel of the Schenectady Fire Department, who talked fire departmentese to them and saved a lot of time. He also went across the street to the fire house and talked to the station master, getting his okay to open the show if we didn’t turn on our lights.”

To obtain reflectors to cover the bulbs the committee searched from Back Bay to San Francisco Bay. Said Hitchcock: “With the help of Tom Whitmore, Gary Feldbaum and I tracked down suppliers in the San Francisco area. At one point we had Frank Richards in a warehouse in Woburn and Monty [Wells] in the office in South Boston waving money at a wholesaler, finally convincing them it was OK to give the stuff at the warehouse to Frank.” It was early Saturday when the lights were completely ready.

When the lights went on the Art Show winners were:

Popular Choice
Best Artist (Professional): Michael Whelan
Best Artist (Professional) Honorable Mention: James Gurney
Best Artist (Amateur): Nevenah Smith
Best Artist (Amateur) Honorable Mention: Omar Rayyan

Chairman’s Choice: Michael Whelan, “Passage: The Red Step”
Honorable Mention: Tom Kidd, “Winsor McCay City”

Directors’ Choices: C. Anderson: Paul Chadwick, “Storming Heaven”; D. Anderson: Bob Eggleton, “Horsehead Nebula.”

Art Show Staff Choice
Bonnie Atwood, “Water Dance”
David A. Cherry, “A Stitch In Time”
Ruth Sanderson, “A Tale of Two Cities”
Honorable Mention
Barclay Shaw, “Euridice”
Arlin Robins, “Sea Dreams (Study)”
Vincent DiFate, “Popular Science (sketch – Voyager and Saturn)”

Take Me To The Captain of the Starship: Self-effacing, the Program Operations staff dubbed itself “Program Oops.” Priscilla Olson and Ben Yalow, who had spearheaded work in creating the Noreascon Three program, joined operations staff Fred Duarte, Karen Meschke and others to implement it smoothly. This included hearing people’s last-minute pitches to be added to existing program. “The only fan from Iceland” asked could he please have a free membership, in return for which he would be willing to talk about an ever-increasing list of topics. He grabbed passerby Fred Patten to intercede, who was counter-recruited to take “the only fan from Iceland” off and lose him. (However, other reports say the Icelandic fan appeared on the “Sherlock Holmes and SF” panel.)

Her diplomatic handling of Paul Edwards’ effort to insert himself onto already-full panels initiated one staffer into a peculiar Worldcon ritual. Chief of the Program Division Priscilla Olson declared, “You deserve a blue dot.” Priscilla pointed to her own badge which had nine tiny adhesive blue dots affixed. “Three of those are for Edwards,” she said. Called “Lichtenberg dots,” Seth Breidbart received the first one after contending with Jacqueline Lichtenberg’s Tarot reading setup.

Alexis Gilliland opined that “The SFWA Suite had all the warmth and intimacy of a zeppelin hangar. “ However, the Green Room in a corner alcove of the Hynes was graced by 30-foot-tall windows with an outstanding view of the city.

On The Stage and In The Audience: “The Closing of the American Mind” included panelists Greg Benford and David Brin. Francis Hamit attended and reports, “At one point Neil Rest and others in back started booing and yelling at Brin for reasons I could not discern.”

The audience for Saturday’s 10 a.m. running of Orson Scott Card’s “1000 Ideas An Hour” included Janice Gelb who reports: “[During] the first half of the panel he created a believable story with help from the audience, and explained why suggestions do or don’t work.” Card determined for the last half whether to concentrate on science fiction or fantasy depending on a vote of the audience. Out of about 80 fans present, only 12 voted for fantasy, prompting Card to joke, “I should have known; the fantasy people can’t get up this early. They’ve got to stay up until after midnight to check mirrors for reflections!” For the balance of the program he collaborated with the audience to create a believable alien. The group invented two symbiotic animals. One runs fast (after a joke someone made about alien cannibals doing it to get an endorphin fix) and the second mates on the other’s back and lives there.

Gelb also reported that “The 60-Hour Grind” was theoretically about how to handle your full-time job and develop creative talent in your spare time. “Pat Cadigan had quit her job a few years before, and one other panelist had been unemployed for some time. Despite these anomalies the panel went fairly well, with members of the audience chiming in with their own horror stories. One panelist explain[ed] that the idea for the first story he ever sold came to him while he was a naval officer and was enduring Prisoner of War simulation!”

Sitting in the front row at the “Worldcons – Should We Kill Them Before They Kill Us?” panel was Gene Wolfe. When moderator Priscilla Olson was harangued by Linda Bushyager for having too much programming at Noreascon (over 600 items), Wolfe interceded to say he likes the redundancy of items with similar topics so that when he’s forced to choose one program over another he may still have a chance to hear discussion of what he missed later on.

Kelly Freas' poster for Mike Jittlov's "The Wizard of Speed and Time"

Kelly Freas’ poster for Mike Jittlov’s “The Wizard of Speed and Time”

Doug Crepeau, one of Mike Jittlov’s publicists, fished for some good response to the showing of Wizard of Speed and Time at the con. However, Gavin Claypool reported the Sunday showing was canceled. We learned later that was not because of poor attendance or the lukewarm review in a Boston paper. A local distributor rented the print to replace another film doing poorly in one of his movie houses and Wizard ran successfully for three weeks.

“All Our Children” featured discussion on fringe fandoms between Fred Patten, knowledgeable about comics and Japanimation fandoms, and Lois Mangan, a media fan. Janice Gelb moderated, terming the program “mainly a defense by media fans (“We do so read”) and some historical background on various fannish schisms by [Patten].”

Mr. Yalow Meets Mr. Murphy: Things ran smoothly enough that Fred Duarte was hard-pressed to think of any problems handled by Program Operations – oh, except one. It seems at one program they’d furnished an insufficiently powerful slide projector to penetrate the smoked glass in the projection booth window. They scrounged up another one and the panel started 20 minutes late. Division head Ben Yalow himself took this problem in hand. After all, the speaker was a famous scientist – Dr. Rosalyn Yalow.

Another Episode of Elst Weinstein’s Lobster Surgical Theater: Saturday night after I closed the fanzine sales table with the help of Tony Ubelhor, I joined the Ross Pavlac expedition to the No Name Restaurant, accompanied by Elst, Hope Leibowitz, Tom Veal, Becky Thomson and another couple. As Becky was a convention official at the information table it was yeoman work getting her away from a swarm of folk in search of her advice and orders. Even as Ross dragged Becky away bodily she obliviously continued calling out instructions to someone, “You can call my beeper –“ at which point her beeper vanished and Pavlac’s hand went over her mouth. Getting Becky down to the car to go to the restaurant was at least as much work for Ross as kidnapping Candice Bergen was for Sean Connery in The Wind and The Lion.

There was heated discussion over the menu of this famous Boston seafood restaurant, opened in 1917, and Elst Weinstein told Hope, “Get scrod.” [Not sure why I thought it was mandatory to repeat this joke, which already appeared once in the conreport.]

Ignoring Elst, several people ordered lobster and even persuaded the good doctor (Weinstein, not Asimov) to give them surgical tips for extracting the meat.

During dinner I learned that the business meeting approved Bruce Pelz’ Hugo preservation committee. With northeastern fans always full of ideas for how profitable Worldcons should spend their money, I said I was surprised they stopped at just funding a study committee. They could just as well have gotten a grant from Worldcon Atlanta Inc. to send the winners themselves to a taxidermist. Elst rejoined, “First we stuffed the ballots. Now we’ll stuff the winners.”

Filled with wonderful seafood, we helled back to the Sheraton in taxis: I had to get to the Hugo ceremony!

Fred Pohl emceeing Noreascon 3 Hugo ceremony. Photo by Robert Sneddon from Fanac.org site.

Fred Pohl emceeing Noreascon 3 Hugo ceremony. Photo by Robert Sneddon from Fanac.org site.

Ghod Blesh Saint Fantony: Noreascon’s novel Hugo ceremony required all nominees to rendezvous beforehand in Hynes 200, the function room near the stage entrance to the auditorium.

Hugo nominees, in case they won, received a laser printed diagram of how to approach the stage, where Fred Pohl would hand them the award, where to pause at midstage for photographers, and where to find the steps at the far side of the stage. It looked like a Minnesota Fats bank shot, or Stephen Hawking’s line drawing of the Big Bang. I still haven’t figured out the stage diagram. Or the Big Bang.

The ceremonies started with a procession of the nominees grouped by award category and led by a knight of St. Fantony1 bearing a Hugo rocket. How much time did the nominees have to absorb these directions? Remember the old Xerox commercial where the coach sends in Kolodny with copies of a last-minute play?2 We had about that much time.

Lucius Shepard at Noreascon 3. Photo by Frank Olynyk from Fanac.org site.

Lucius Shepard at Noreascon 3. Photo by Frank Olynyk from Fanac.org site.

A member of the committee in a tangerine evening gown tried to shout directions over the din of gossipy pros and fans. Saying, “We will start with the Fan Artist nominees –“ her words were so twisted in the babel that when she repeated them Gardner Dozois said in surprise, “I thought you said faint-hearted nominees—“ and Lucius Shepard claimed to have heard “wannabees.”

While we were backstage being herded together in categories, Jill Eastlake was onstage explaining the traditions of the knights of St. Fantony; we couldn’t make out word one but the muffled tones sounded quite reverent.

I marched in with the fanwriters, and don’t let them tell you it’s not a small world for there I was walking beside none other than NOLAcon’s Justin Winston, seconding the absent Guy Lillian III. Dick Eney in his knightly pastel green garb and brass headband led us. Dick showed his knightly virtue by not asking me where in heck is Fancyclopedia 3 anyway.3

For me, the pretention level of the ceremony had already crossed the redline and I just lost it when I got to the door and heard our processional music was “March of the Gladiators” from Spartacus or something comparable with brassy flourishes and rhythms suited to the stride of captured war elephants.

We walked circuitously through the auditorium like extras in a Hercules movie. Nominees in the professional categories marched at the end. Gardner Dozois basked in the applause, flashing a V-sign at the crowd like Winston Churchill on V-E Day. In his white tuxedo George Alec Effinger looked like he’d gotten lost on his way to the top layer of a wedding cake.

Donald Eastlake III came last in line carrying a purple banner: GHOD BLESH SAINT FANTONY. He stood it beside the larger St. Fantony and Noreascon Three banners already on stage.

Master of ceremonies Fred Pohl began by explaining that he was standing in for the Ballantines, because Ian’s health difficulties of a few months earlier militated against them continuing as emcees. When Pohl mentioned the Ballantines 2,000 fans and writers applauded loudly. Pohl replied, “You can applaud some more because I’m going to say some more nice things about them.” He reviewed their mid-1940s groundbreaking efforts in the science fiction paperback field, ascribing their efforts to drive and talent, and “one other essential ingredient: They paid more than anybody else.”

Noreascon Three presented two Special Awards. One went to artist Alex Schomburg and was accepted by his granddaughter who read the artist’s letter of thanks. The other went to the computer-based service SF Lovers Digest, accepted by its current moderator Saul Jaffe. Jaffe thanked Rutgers University for its facilities.

Rusty Hevelin (left) and Forrest J Ackerman (right) at Noreascon 3. Photo by Robert Sneddon from Fanac.org site.

Rusty Hevelin(left) and Forrest J Ackerman (right) at Noreascon 3. Photo by Robert Sneddon from Fanac.org site.

Apropos of the 50th Anniversary Worldcon, Fred Pohl introduced the Big Heart Award presenter, Forrest J Ackerman, as “the first fan to wear a costume, outside a secure institution, anyway.” Forry presented the Big Heart Award to Art Widner.

Robert Madle tried to present three First Fandom Awards to L. Sprague De Camp, Don Grant and Fred Pohl, but found he didn’t have the award plaques because he’d neglected to call on three other First Fandomites holding the winners’ plaques, Art Saha, Isaac Asimov and Lloyd Arthur Eshbach. When that was corrected, to much huffing by Art Saha, the presentations were made.

Isaac Asimov introduced De Camp’s award. He teased that the “requirements” of First Fandom are “great age, a withered appearance, and miserable habits. We keep Fred Pohl around as an example.”

Not to be surpassed even by the great Asimov, Pohl told the story of being at a conference with Asimov when a young woman walked up, looked at Isaac’s badge, and twinkled, ‘Oh: you’re Isaac Asimov…. What do you do?’” Pohl gazed at Asimov. “Don’t get me started. I know more Isaac Asimov stories than Harlan Ellison stories.” The audience gasped to think there could be that much material…

Takumi Shibano introduced colleagues from Japan who gave out two Seiun Awards to North American winners not present at the Japanese national convention. Winner of the Best Novel translated into Japanese was Footfall by Niven and Pournelle. Winner of the Best Short Story translated into Japanese was “Eye for Eye” by Orson Scott Card. The physical Seiun Award is something uniquely designed by each year’s committee. This year it appeared to be a small white urn, and Shibano confessed he didn’t know the significance himself.

Andre Norton received thunderous applause when she came onstage to present the award she created and funded. The Gryphon Award goes to the best unpublished fantasy by a woman. The physical award is a white gryphon embedded in a hefty Lucite block, and its winner was Elizabeth Waters. There is also an honor book award, which went to Lee Barwood.

Analog editor Stanley Schmidt presented the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer to Michaela Roessner. Then Fred Pohl began handing out the Hugo Awards.

Best Fan Artist was shared by Brad Foster and Diana Gallagher Wu, who tied with 201 votes apiece. Dave Langford won Best Fanwriter, his acceptance speech (read by Martin Hoare) saying, “Now I can die happy once I’ve been asked to contribute to Last Dangerous Visions.”

Martin Hoare (left) and Mike Glyer (right) at Noreascon 3. Photo from Fanac.org site.

Martin Hoare (left) and Mike Glyer (right) at Noreascon 3. Photo from Fanac.org site.

To my surprise and delight, File 770 won Best Fanzine. Hearing Fred Pohl introduce the category with comments about the fanzine exhibit, including the fanzine reading area I’d arranged, I decided to use the opportunity to ask people to come see it. Regrettably, I phrased things so broadly that I seemed to be strongarming the credit for the whole area and ignoring Nancy Atherton’s organization of the historic fanzine exhibit. I’m told at that moment all right-thinking people in the balcony simultaneously muttered, “You asshole!” particularly Debbie Notkin and Spike Parsons who looked me up the next day to tell me so. I apologized to Nancy and inserted a correction in the daily newzine.

Caroline Mullan (center) and Peter Weston (seated) at Tea Party II during Noreascon 3. Photo by Robert Sneddon from Fanac.org site.

Caroline Mullan (center) and Peter Weston (seated) at Tea Party II during Noreascon 3. Photo by Robert Sneddon from Fanac.org site.

Best Semiprozine went to Locus. I wondered whether Charlie Brown ever did any maintenance on his Hugos. Not that it ever occurred to me they needed any until British fan Peter Weston, whose company has been manufacturing the Hugo rockets since 1984, took me aside. He had seen my Hugos in Bruce Pelz’ display and complained they were getting tarnished and ought to be polished. I told him that’s all I needed was to have some friends drop in and catch me polishing my Hugos!

After Michael Whelan accepted the Best Professional Artist Hugo, Fred told a story about the 1966 Worldcon in Cleveland. They shared the convention hotel with a group of World War II veterans. Pohl got stuck in an elevator with 15 people: the vets sobbed and pounded on the walls shouting, “For the love of God, Montresor!” while the fans just said, “Let’s do some filk!” The hotel got them out by bringing the other elevator car alongside, taking out the walls, and inviting them to step across eight stories of empty space.

Samuel Delany at Noreascon 3. Photo by Frank Olynyk from Fanac.org site.

Samuel Delany at Noreascon 3. Photo by Frank Olynyk from Fanac.org site.

Gardner Dozois accepted the Best Professional Editor Hugo. Producer Frank Marshall was on hand to pick up the Best Dramatic Presentation rocket for Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Samuel Delany delightedly received the Best Nonfiction Book Hugo for The Motion of Light in Water. A happy Mike Resnick was stunned into uncharacteristic speechlessness by his first Hugo, for his short story “Kirinyaga.”

Not even the finest novel of his career and a home-town Worldcon could swing a Hugo for George Alec Effinger in 1988, but in Boston he was not only summoned to accept the Best Novelette Hugo for “Schrodinger’s Kitten,” he outpolled his friend Harlan Ellison’s story in the bargain.

In his white tuxedo Effinger fell somewhere on the spectrum between Mark Twain and John Travolta, yet his acceptance sounded peculiarly like Gary Cooper in a famous movie, complete with faked mike reverb: “Some folks say I’ve had a bad break. But today I feel like I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth, earth, earth.” Sitting next to me was Vancouver’s Fran Skene whose knowledge of American baseball extends little beyond her delight that W.P. Kinsella lives in British Columbia. I told her in a pithy sentence about Lou Gehrig and Fran’s scowl of distaste for Effinger’s humor said it all.

Mike and Carol Resnick at Noreascon 3. Photo from Fanac.org site.

Mike and Carol Resnick at Noreascon 3. Photo from Fanac.org site.

Brandishing his Hugo, Effinger had one last remark: “Mike Resnick and I have just begun collaborating on a novel and these two awards are going to cost somebody a lot.”

Connie Willis’ “Last of the Winnebagos” won the Best Novella Hugo. Connie said that after seeing the Locus photo of her Nebula win she swore if she won a Hugo she “would not be photographed smiling like a chipmunk from ear to ear,” but she abandoned her resolve in the happiness of the moment.

Best Novel went to C.J. Cherryh for Cyteen and she thanked a list of people beginning with “my alpha reader, Jane [Fancher].”

There was the usual orgy of photography after the ceremony. A lot of fans stayed in their seats for the promised Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Batman double-bill. I circled back to the press area for a copy of George Flynn’s excellent press kit with releases about the pro winners and complete voting statistics. Then I found an elevator bound for Keith Kato’s chili party.

1989 Hugo Award winners. Photo by Robert Sneddon. From Fanac.org site.

1989 Hugo Award winners. Photo by Robert Sneddon. From Fanac.org site.

Robert Silverberg (left) and Ralph Vicinanza (right) at Noreascon 3. Photo by Robert Sneddon from Fanac.org site.

Robert Silverberg (left) and Ralph Vicinanza (right) at Noreascon 3. Photo by Robert Sneddon from Fanac.org site.

The Legendary Keith Kato: Once upon a time Keith Kato was a physics student and science fiction fan who discovered this natural law: if you feed Robert Silverberg sufficiently good chili, he will attend all your parties. In fact, the young Kato spent years perfecting his “Silverberg grade” hot chili and in the process met any number of sf writers including Gregory Benford, who became an advisor on Kato’s Ph.D. committee.

For years Kato hauled his cooking pots and hot plates around the country and spent Hugo day in his room cooking meat and simmering chili, oblivious to the smell of hot oil wafting down the entire corridor as far as the elevators, and hoping Housekeeping was the same. Keith tried to retire once mainly because of the unkissed toads who crashed his parties and never even thanked him.

Fortunately he came back. Before I started to actually win the things, the best part of Hugo night was to be invited to Kato’s party, eat chili, listen to writers’ shop talk, and meet an eclectic mix of international fans from Japan to Norway and everywhere in between. I have been going to them long enough that it was fated I should learn the inner secrets of Keith’s process. First, I ran into Keith at a market next to the convention center filling a shopping cart with cheese and vegetables. “I’m buying all the perishables,” he explained, and I confess it bothered me to discover there were non-perishable ingredients in his chili. At the party, as I hovered over the bathtub, shoving aside the ice-cold imported beers in search of a Diet Pepsi, I heard Kato explaining to Ashley Grayson, “Nobody realizes I cook chili in my swimming trunks.” Without expression Grayson replied, “How do you keep it from running out?”

jan howard finder came in with word the Kees Van Toorn’s noisy ConFiction4 party had just been closed down by Sheraton management. finder took the opportunity to report on the success of several benefit auctions run at Noreascon Three. He said the ASFA auction yielded $3,500 from the sale of 285 items. jan sounded breathless from having run 172 items in the first two hours of the auction.

The daily newzine later reported that the ConFiction party was “partially evacuated twice by hotel staff due to the vast numbers of enthusiastic supporters who came to enjoy real Dutch hospitality and a great bar, featuring 160-proof double-distilled rum known as Stroh.” The rum was available by the glass or in a vanilla/praline cake prepared by Carol Shetler and Larry van der Putte. In spite of the Sheraton, Larry kept the party running until 5 a.m. in the morning.

Tom Hanlon reported pros complained the Bantam Books party was cordoned off by hotel security. They were eventually moved to a larger and cooler room on a non-sleeping-room floor.

Chairman Mark Olson said Sunday night, “We were very, very happy with the treatment we received from the Hynes and the Sheraton.” Compared to the specter of Hotel Hostility raised when the Sheraton originally tried to kick out the Worldcon, the degree of cooperation showed by the hotel was apparently very satisfactory. Despite that, a number of parties were closed.

The committee relied heavily on volunteer elevator monitors to prevent overcrowding. The recruiting pitch in the daily newzine asked, “Do you like standing in small rooms with total strangers? If so, you’re just the person we’re looking for.” For once the newzine’s black humor was exceeded by a grimmer reality. Monitors took a lot of mindless abuse: I heard it, and it was disgusting. The worst case I witnessed involved one idiot who not merely insisted on riding an elevator that a monitor warned had jammed earlier, but loudly abused the monitor and dragged the nearest person to the door to ride with him as an assertion of “hotel customers’ rights.”

Elevator monitors address a real problem, but as Joe Rico summed up, “Without elevator management, elevators are slow, crowded and inefficient. With elevator management, elevators are slow, crowded and inefficient, but at least somebody notes it in the Ops log.”

George Alec Effinger at NOLAcon II in 1988. Photo from Fanac.org site.

George Alec Effinger at NOLAcon II in 1988. Photo from Fanac.org site.

Saturday Night’s All Right For Fightin’: Unlikely as it seems that George Alec Effinger would need to stray very far from his home in New Orleans’ French Quarter in search of exotic pleasure, and even more unlikely that he would find it in Boston, he found his heart’s desire at a Boston Red Sox game. His friend Debbie Hodgkinson mentioned they got into a tiff: “George is off in baseball land. He got mad when I called it Fenwick.”

Effinger was even more emotional about the reception for his 1988 Hugo-nominated novel When Gravity Fails: he is thoroughly outraged by the lack of promotion for his books. Said George, “People keep coming up to me asking when the sequel to Gravity is going to be out – and it’s been out for THREE MONTHS!!”

Effinger was soothed to learn the sequel, A Fire In The Sun, was featured in the window of a nearby bookstore. George’s calm was short-lived, though, for after the Hugo ceremony a passing fan asked him if the Hugo in his arms was bought in the Art Show.


1. Not sure that the Fancyclopedia’s article about the Order of St. Fantony really makes clear what it is, but it’s a long entry.

2. YouTube has a copy of Xerox’s Kolodny commercial.

3. In the 1980s I was still part of the Fancyclopedia 3 editorial project. Today it’s a wiki site under completely different and obviously successful management because I can actually look stuff up on it!

4. ConFiction was the next year’s – 1990 – Worldcon.

5. The Myth Adventures Fan Club party flyer included above is one of a series of six by Christopher Smigliano. The entire set is online here.

Here Jay Kay Klein (right) interrupts photographing the 1989 Hugo winners long enough to give me a piece of his mind. I must deserve it -- do I look guilty, or what? Photo by Julee Johnson Tate.

Here Jay Kay Klein (right) interrupts photographing the 1989 Hugo winners long enough to give me a piece of his mind. I must deserve it — do I look guilty, or what? Photo by Julee Johnson Tate.

Worldcon Wayback Machine: Noreascon Three (1989) Day Two

Niven with a Puppeteer. Photo by Gordon McGregor from Fanac.org.

Larry Niven with a Puppeteer at Louis Wu’s Birthday Party. Photo by Gordon McGregor from Fanac.org.

Twenty-five years ago today Noreascon Three began in Boston, Massachusetts. I’ve been working on a post about its epic Science Fiction’s 50th Anniversary Family Reunion Sunday brunch which will appear September 3. The research has reminded me it was a superb once-in-a-generation convention and I have decided to republish my whole conreport in daily installments.

SF Tonight! Pam Fremon, Ellen Franklin and Tappan King created a format where Andre Norton and the other guests were seconded by their closest friends in sf and presented to a large audience in a warm and personal way. In that atmosphere the intended homage was paid to each guest and these charming but delicate individuals were not tossed into a den of 2,000 couch potatoes demanding to be entertained.

Tappan King in 1992.

Tappan King in 1992.

There was a minute-by-minute timeline for the show – this was Noreascon after all – but with 36 hours to go the script wasn’t done. Tappan King, host and headwriter, confessed, “I’ve been working at Tor the last two weeks and invisible weasels have been eating the gray matter.”

My job was to play Ed McMahon to Tappan’s Johnny Carson; I loved my role in Tappan’s outline and existing script, but welcomed even more an opportunity to brainstorm and help improvise the rest of the business.

The major brainstorming session was Thursday night at 10 p.m. I had fed my brain at Legal Seafood: squid, scrod and a brew. Trotting six blocks back to the Hynes I was a little late. Already at work, and on the verge of finishing “10 Reasons To Leave Fandom” were Tappan, Heather Wood (also of Tor, our kazoo-playing answer to Doc Severinsen), Priscilla Olson, Tom Whitmore, Ellen Franklin, Deb Geisler and some others (wish I’d made a list.) Thinking up the between-guests business and the pseudo-announcements was a lot of fun. The only thing we were barred by management from doing was jokes about ballot stuffing.1

Friday afternoon was the technical rehearsal for SF Tonight! (Somehow that phrase entangles in my mind with “…technical readout of the DeathStar…”) The tech crew efficiently set the microphone levels and coordinated the stage lighting with the Hynes electricians. Tom Whitmore and Tamzen Cannoy led the talent in setting the stage, placing furniture and checking sightlines.

Ellen Franklin, part of Hasbro’s management, had borrowed some toy fair backdrop scenery, swatches of Martian desert painted on sheets of canvas, to hang at the back of the stage.

At 8:30 p.m. 2,000 people were in the auditorium. I got my cue and stepped into the spotlight: “And now – live! – from the John B. Hynes (after whom the sloop was named) Convention Center in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, it’s SF Tonight!  — brought to you by First Fandom, purveyors of used parts, the Permanent Floating Worldcon Committee and SFWA Chewable Vitamins. Now here is your host – TAPPAN KING!”

Tappan led into our Letterman-inspired “10 Reasons Not To Leave SF,” then talked to the guests.

Andre Norton at World Fantasy Con in 1987.

Andre Norton at World Fantasy Con in 1987.

Andre Norton was preceded by two friends, Susan Shwartz, and Tom Doherty of Tor Books. Doherty told Tappan that one of his first acts as head of Tor was to fly down to visit Andre Norton because he’d heard she was dissatisfied with her publisher and he regarded her books as very important to the company. An extra benefit of having Doherty present was the assurance of a strong arm to escort Andre Norton to the sofa (given that she moved around the convention mainly by wheelchair). Tappan and Andre Norton had a good exchange, and the audience reacted enthusiastically to Norton.

Fred Pohl started the second set telling about the Ballantines. Richard Powers, well-remembered as a Ballantine Books cover artist, joined Pohl and answered questions about his career. Then Betty and Ian Ballantine were ushered in. Before that Tappan King told us, “These people are my ghods!” Although visibly moved, Tappan got through the questions without a hitch.

Between guests I stepped over to the podium and read some our concocted announcements chronically interrupted by the “Marseilles” howled on kazoos.

Art Widner at Torcon III in 2003.

Art Widner at Torcon III in 2003.

In a third segment Art Widner and Hal Clement of the Strangers Club2 related that Widner got the club’s name from a series of sf stories he’s never actually read. The club’s legacy included Louis Russell Chauvenet’s invention of the term “fanzine.” Among the Strangers’ most memorable meetings was one attended by John W. Campbell and L. Ron Hubbard, and Art told what it was like to be around those two lions of sf in their prime.

I had so much fun I couldn’t possibly be objective and went looking for people to ask about the show. All my friends, being too cool to go to programming, had gone off to baseball games and seafood restaurants so I’m still looking, but Chairman Mark Olson noted later, “I saw half of SF Tonight! when it happened and most of the rest of it looking at the mixdown video tape. I enjoyed it and have heard that we’re getting good reviews on it. (Certainly Andre Norton was delighted with her part in it.”)

A Nation of Ribbon Clerks: After SF Tonight! I wandered up to Program Oops to check on the night shift, who looked remarkably like the day shift, Priscilla Olson, Ben Yalow, and Fred Duarte.

A bonus was getting my Hugo nominee pin. Noreascon gave each nominee a 1-1/2 inch replica of the Hugo rocket. I attached mine to my membership badge which by then was looking satisfyingly like the fruit salad on the uniform blouse of a commandante of the Bolivian Coast Guard.

The Noreascon Three membership badge was a great big laminated square with your name and town in LARGE laser-printed letters under a blue line-drawing of a Cheshire cat in a spacesuit. The cat grinned through its fishbowl-shaped helmet and held a party horn in one paw (which didn’t seem like good science and I was sure Hal Clement would criticize…)

Attached to my badge with duct tape was a “gizmo” identifying me as part of the Program Division. Staff wore them to be readily accessible to members. Some gizmos were special. Seth Breidbart had a flock of them hanging down from his badge, including “Hoax Division” and “This Space Intentionally Left Blank.” Sue Hammond’s gizmo said “Ice Princess” – Sue was in charge of giving away the tons of party ice on the Sheraton loading dock.

I had five ribbons pinned to my gizmo, out of many printed for Noreascon Three participants. I had a green Committee ribbon, a maroon Program Participant ribbon, an orange Hugo Award Nominee ribbon, a black Exhibitor ribbon, and one of Seth’s yellow Hoax ribbons. I’d have made it into the Guinness Book of Records if I’d found the time to claim my sixth ribbon, the half-white half-red one given to the Press.

After I got my Hugo pin, Tony Lewis wanted to show off Boston’s Hugo Award base. He convoyed me to another inner sanctum of the Hynes where Jill Eastlake allowed me to gaze from a discreet distance at the beautiful art deco bases. Taking inspiration from the 1939 World’s Fair Trylon and Perisphere, the circular black base was stepped with a smaller-radius granite base. The chrome rocket appeared to have landed on the granite, bull-eyeing a circular green ellipsis inset with small chrome and glass orbs, and sprinkled with tiny brass knobs and doohickeys.

BoxboroLogo-125Louis Wu’s Birthday Party: Leaving Tony, a plan to drop off my coat and tie in my ninth floor room failed to survive contact with the mobs at the elevator bank. But I hadn’t wandered more than 10 feet when a new plan took shape: Scott Welch in a fivesome from Bridge Publications was on his way to the biggest bash of the night, Louis Wu’s Birthday Party, and invited me to come along. Boxboro Fandom’s3 farewell blowout cost a rumored $17,000.

The Boxboro party was in the Back Bay Hilton and everyone knew there was a line around the corner waiting to get in because the hotel would admit only about 545 individuals at once (blaming it on that bogeyman the fire marshal.) However, the “Scott Welch party” had passports and blue tickets certifying them as “Special Guests of Louis Wu” that allowed us to jump the line – we replaced the next five people out the door. Scott’s party would have graced any occasion for it included Edgar Winter, a performer so renowned that jaded fans scrambled from all corners of the party when he took the stage in the Mardi Gras room.

Inspired by the birthday bash in Niven’s Ringworld, Boxboro encouraged fans as they walked around the party to imagine they were being transported to these (sometimes improbable) locations.

From the top of the stairs partiers were attracted by the hot jazz trombones and cornets blaring in the Mardi Gras Room as the band set a frenetic beat for a score of dancers, including Julie Schwartz and his well-endowed date. (“They always are,” said Craig Miller.) Joey Grillot, everyone’s favorite New Orleans fan, sang along with “Mack the Knife.” Though he never hit a single note Joey scored points for enthusiasm.

Good and Evil at the Boxboro party. Photo by Gordon McGregor from Fanac.org.

Good and Evil at the Boxboro party. Photo by Gordon McGregor from Fanac.org.

The Mardi Gras room was reached by way of the Puppeteer World, notable for the cardboard circles on the floor simulating stepping-disk sidewalks. The warm pastel yellows of the puppeteer room were in stark contrast to the roulette red-and-black of the Mardi Gras room. With Edgar Winter in tow the Scott Welch party made a beeline for the sound of Bourbon Street.

Eyes adapted to dim nightclub-style lighting could read the signs on the wall naming the party’s sponsors, announcing that the band was the Hi-Tops, and noting this particular night spot was “The Silent Club.” A picture of a large bludgeon with golden spikes driven through the meat end was captioned, “You never hear a silent club coming…until it’s too late!”

Edgar Winter

Edgar Winter

When he introduced Edgar Winter, Scott flashed the “Mission Earth” album cover. Winter performed Hubbard’s score on the record. At the party Edgar Winter laid them in the aisles with two incredible blues numbers. Winter even played the sax. Photographers sprawled at his feet on the dance floor. Fans jammed the perimeter either listening raptly, or like Ellen Franklin, rocking and clapping in time.

Robert Neagle of New Orleans looked right at home in The Silent Club wearing a white shirt captioned “Porno Patrol” in scarlet letters. Neagle was plainly awestruck by Winter.

After Winter finished his set I prowled the party looking where its rumored $17,000 had gone, which obviously wasn’t for the snacks in the Mardi Gras room: they looked pretty funky. There were bowls full of oblong pretzel droppings and at the rate fans were consuming them each bowl would be a lifetime supply. Normally locust-like fans were able to resist several kinds of generic chips. A lot of this stuff probably sounded tasty when the hosts were compelled to order it from Hilton catering, but snacks delivered in 5-gallon cardboard boxes inevitably have a certain industrial toughness.

Next door, the Nippon Room featured a hi-tech Japanese theme. Rock music provided by “Crime of Fashion” accompanied a laser show playing on the ceiling. A sushi bar occupied the far wall. To the right was a simulated video wall with four big-screen monitors playing a Japanese rock video while people danced to the music. My path was momentarily blocked by a Japanese fan taking his friends’ photo, which seemed completely appropriate and may even have been genuine.

Attached to the wall behind the sushi bar was some ominous plumbing variously labeled “Omni Trap,” “Detoxification Filter,” “Blasting Agent,” “Corrosive Liquid,” “Cyclohexanone,” and “Specialized Activated Carbon” which may have been a recipe for Kzin deodorant or the plot for Greg Bear’s next novel. Hopefully it wasn’t the ingredients for the Mad Tea Party next door.

There were 40 fans lined up at the Mad Tea Party behind ropes and stanchions, and I couldn’t believe it was merely for tea and cake. Nor was it. They were waiting their turn to take a wooden pink flamingo mallet in hand and play through the croquet course laid out in the next room.

Thanks to transporter booths the Kzin embassy and the Ringworld map room were just around the corner from Wonderland. Color monitors showed computer graphics vaguely suggestive of celestial navigation. A slide carousel projected quotes from Ringworld. There were life-size Kzin and puppeteer mannequins (alienquins?) Costumer Drew Sanders stalked around the party in a furry and incredibly hot Kzin outfit [originally an entry in the 1984 Worldcon masquerade].

These last rooms boasted a more aggressive range of munchies including fruit and vegetables, and some remarkably courageous chefs carving huge joints of meat in the Kzin embassy. (Where else?)

Francis Hamit said Louis Wu’s birthday party reminded him of Universal Studios – five attractions and a lot of standing in line. But I say it was a hell of a party.


1. “The only thing we were barred by management from doing was jokes about ballot stuffing.” There had been a controversy about the votes cast for one nominee, which was resolved by the nomination being declined.

2. The Strangers Club. The Boston science fiction club co-founded by Russ Chauvenet in 1940. He coined the word fanzine the same year. When did he sleep?

3. Boxboro Fandom. One of the greatest convention party-throwing crews. Steve Boheim’s reminiscence here has the details. Larry Niven also wrote about the aftermath in N-Space:

Boxboro’s Hotel Liaison was a straight-looking guy who never raised his voice or appeared without a tie: a proper gent. And heck, they were taking the whole second floor! So the Hilton Manager was cooperative. She signed the thick contract without really noticing a clause near the end.

Getting the prop walls for the Kzinti Embassy into the hotel was tough. They’d measured the largest doors – the front lobby doors! – but hadn’t measured them open. Open, they were too small. Boxboro considered taking them off their hinges, with and without permission. They considered junking the props. They were sure the prop walls wouldn’t come apart, but someone tried it, and they did.

Still, the only feasible way to get them out after the party would be to hack them apart with a chainsaw! That would allow the debris to fit into a dumpster. So they put it in the contract.

“I can’t believe they let you use a chainsaw at four in the morning!” the Hotel Manager wailed. But she didn’t stop them. It was in the contract.

4. Final note. The convention’s name was officially agnostic: “Noreascon 3”, “Noreascon Three” and “Noreascon III” were all declared correct forms of the name.