Not a Blog

Memorial Day Sadness

May 28, 2019 at 6:55 pm
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Memorial Day started as a day of remembrance, originally for soldiers slain in the Civil War.    In more recent decades it has come to mark the beginning a summer, a holiday celebrated in thousands of back yards across the nation with hot dogs and potato salads.   In the science fiction community, it has also become a traditional date for conventions, taking advantage of the three-day weekends.   There are a dozen or more Memorial Day cons around these days… but some of them go way back.

It was at one of those conventions that I first met Gardner Dozois:  Disclave 1971, in Washington D.C.   Gargy (unbeknownest to me at the time) was the assistant editor at GALAXY who had found my story “The Hero” in the slush pile and passed it along to Ejler Jakobsson with a recommendation to buy.   That became my first professional sale.   A few months later, when I walked into Disclave, the first con I ever attended, Gardner was the first person I met.  He was working the registration desk.   “Hey,” he said.  “I know you.   I fished you out of the slush pile.”

He went on to become one of my oldest and dearest friends.   We never lived in the same city, oddly, not even the same time zone… but we hung out together at worldcon every year, and sometimes at other cons as well, we workshopped together, taught together, talked together on the phone and by letter (those papery things we exchanged before email), won awards together, lost awards together, founded the Hugo Losers Party together (Kansas City, 1976), edited books together… and laughed together, that above all.  Gardner was a brilliant writer (albeit very very slow — yes, even slower than I am) and one of the greatest editors our genre has ever produced, but he was also a very funny man, a joy to spend time with.

He died a year ago, on May 27th.   To my shock — we had spoken on the phone only three days before, and he was the same old Gardner, full of jokes and plans for what he’d do when he got out of the hospital — and dismay.  A year has come and gone, and I still find it hard to accept that I will never see him again, still have days when I think, “I should give Gargy a call, it’s been a while,” before I remember.   I fear, given the date of his death, that Memorial Day weekend is always going to be a day of sadness for me from now on.   (FWIW, Gardner was also a veteran, having served in the army during the Vietnam era, though in Germany rather than Nam).

Some of you may never have known Gargy, except as a byline on ASIMOV’S and BEST OF THE YEAR and our crossgenre titles, WARRIORS and ROGUES and DANGEROUS WOMEN.  Here, to give you a taste of the man, is a YouTube of the panel I did with Gardner and Howard Waldrop a few years ago at Capclave, the D.C. area con that succeeded Disclave after the… ahem… unfortunate incident.   There’s no subject for this panel, no big issue to discuss, just three old friends telling stories and having fun.

I love that someone taped it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvdsmhQYTyc

That’s a great memory for me.   But there are so many more.    And maybe the best times were back in the 70s, when we were both “Young Turks” (yes, people really called us that) and Rising Stars, just starting out, sleeping on floors and sharing rooms and rides at cons, scrounging meals off editors, with none of us having a pot to piss in.

Those were the days, my friend.  We thought they’d never end.

Miss you, Gargy.

Current Mood: sad sad

Thanks, New Zealand

May 21, 2019 at 8:20 pm
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I was surprised last night when Air New Zealand went to the internet to invite me down for a visit… to help me finish my book.

I cannot say I was not tempted.  New Zealand is a beautiful place.   As it happens, I have already visited there a number of times.   I’ve been to Auckland and Wellington and Christchurch and Rotoroa… and Hobbiton, of course.   I’ve gone whale watching (we never saw a whale, but there were hundreds of dusky dolphins), checked out the Te Papa, the Weta Workshop, the aquarium in Auckland, and a cool automobile museum somewhere near Wellington.   From Rotoroa I took a helicopter out to White Island, with its boiling mud pools and lovely lake of sulfuric acid.  (With Hobbiton and Mordor on the same island, you really ought to change your name to Middle Earth).   I’ve been to a few hangis too, and my minions have a video of me attempting to do a haka that they periodically use to blackmail me.

In short, I love New Zealand.  You don’t need to convince me.

And as it happens, I already have plans to return.   In the summer of 2020, Wellington is hosting the World Science Fiction Convention, the oldest and most important con in the SF/ fantasy calendar, and they’ve asked me to serve as Toastmaster for the Hugo Awards.   Writers, fans, and artists from all over the world will be headed down to check out all of your wonders.   I hope lots of you Kiwis will join us.

www.conzealand.nz

Of course, I was especially moved by your offer to bring me to New Zealand “on us.”  How wonderfully generous.   As it happens, I do have enough money to make it to New Zealand on my own… but there are many American writers, fans, and artists who do not.   If you’d care to fly, say, twenty or thirty or fifty of them to Wellington in place of me, I have no doubt they would instantly accept, and fall in love with Middle Earth.. er, New Zealand… just as I have.   And you have such big planes, I’m sure you could squeeze them in.

As for finishing my book… I fear that New Zealand would distract me entirely too much.   Best leave me here in Westeros for the nonce.   But I tell you this — if I don’t have THE WINDS OF WINTER in hand when I arrive in New Zealand for worldcon, you have here my formal written permission to imprison me in a small cabin on White Island, overlooking that lake of sulfuric acid, until I’m done.   Just so long as the acrid fumes do not screw up my old DOS word processor, I’ll be fine.

 

 

Current Mood: amused amused

Hugo Eligibility – Best Series

February 21, 2019 at 9:41 pm
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I have seen here and there that some people are suggesting A SONG OF ICE & FIRE (by that name, or as GAME OF THRONES) as a possible nominee for the new(ish) Best Series category of the Hugo Awards.   It fits worldcon’s very broad definition of a series, I agree… but as I said below in my post about FIRE & BLOOD, I don’t consider A SONG OF ICE & FIRE a series, and even it was, FIRE & BLOOD is not really part of it.   More a Related Work, the category where it fits best.

WILD CARDS, however, IS a series by anyone’s definition, and is definitely eligible for nomination.

And for what it is worth, WILD CARDS had a hell of a year in 2018.

We published not one, not two, but three new original mosaic novels in the series:  LOW CHICAGO came out in June and TEXAS HOLD ‘EM in November, both in the US, while KNAVES OVER QUEENS was a June release in the UK.   I don’t know any other contending series that put out three new books last year.  And while I am admittedly far from objective, those three books rank among the strongest volumes in the history of the series.   I am very proud of them, and the fans seemed to love them too.

That’s not all, however.   We re-released one of the old books too: ONE-EYED JACKS, volume eight from the original series, was released in August, after decades of being out of print.   But it was not a straight reprint.   We also added two brand new stories to the original text, a Magpie story by Kevin Andrew Murphy and a tale of Lady Black from Carrie Vaughn.

In addition, we had three brand-new stand-alone Wild Cards stories published over on Tor.com:

— “EverNight,” by Victor Milan, published in February,
—  “The Flight of Morpho Girl,” by Caroline Spector and Bradley Denton, published in April,
—  “Fitting In,” by Max Gladstone, published in November.

That’s a huge amount of original Wild Cards content.   If you haven’t tried any of it, you should.   There’s some great stuff there.   I am a lucky editor, and I’ve assembled an amazing team of writers in Wild Cards.

And 2018 was our thirty-first year.   We now have twenty-seven volumes in print, with three more in the pipeline… and probably a lot more to come, especially if the TV shows take off on Hulu.   No other series comes close.

I hope the Hugo nominators will agree.

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

Hugo Eligibility – Fire & Blood

February 2, 2019 at 8:09 pm
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I had a big new Westeros book published last year (official publication date November 20, 2018) — FIRE & BLOOD, covering the history of the Targaryen kings from Aegon’s Conquest to the regency of Aegon III.   It’s been doing rather well, thank you.   Debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and is still in the top ten two months later.  And just last week, we got a great review in KIRKUS, a notoriously tough journal.

The question of its Hugo eligibility is… well, trickier than usual.

FIRE & BLOOD is eligible, certainly.  But what category does it belong in?

There’s Best Novel, the “Big One”  A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, A FEAST FOR CROWS, and A STORM OF SWORDS were all nominated for the Best Novel Hugo in years past (they all lost, to be sure, but never mind).   In all of the promotional interviews I did leading up to the book’s release, however, I took pains to stress that FIRE & BLOOD was not a novel  but rather a work of imaginary history (I used to say “fake history,” but some of my readers objected).    I did not want anyone buying the book under the misapprehension that it was the latest volume in A SONG OF ICE & FIRE.   After saying over and over again “this is not a novel,” it would be rather disingenuous of me to accept a Hugo (should it win, which I must admit is rather unlikely) or even a nomination in the Best Novel category.

Alas, there is no Hugo category for “Best Imaginary History.”

It has been pointed out to me that the publication of FIRE & BLOOD makes me eligible for nomination in the new (relatively) Best Series category.   Well, yes, I suppose.  It depends on one’s definition of what constitutes a series.   Worldcon’s definition is considerably broader than my own, for what it’s worth.   Many SF writers have set their stories against a common background or “future history,” a term originated by Heinlein and popularized by Campbell.  My own Thousand Worlds stories fit that template, but I don’t consider them a series.   They share a background, but that’s all; except for the Tuf stories, there are no recurring characters, and the tales are set hundreds of years and hundreds of light years apart.   (The Haviland Tuf stories, a subset of my Thousand Worlds, ARE a series, as I define the term).  At the other extreme, you have what I’ll call “mega-novels,” stories spread across many books because of length.   Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS was not a series, as I see it, but one long novel published in three volumes.

Those are my definitions, however.   Not worldcon’s.   The Hugo rules are much looser, and would seem to include future histories, mega-novels, and true series all in the same Best Series category.

For what it’s worth, I do not consider A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE to be a series.   It’s one story.   A huge complicated story, admittedly, one that will take seven volumes to tell (once I finish the last two).  And in any case, FIRE & BLOOD is not strictly speaking a part of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE.   It’s imaginary history set hundreds of years before any of the characters in SONG were born.   Yes, I suppose if you bundle FIRE & BLOOD, the five ASOI&F novels, and the three Dunk & Eggs novellas (collected as A KNIGHT OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS) together, you have a series of sorts.   I wouldn’t even know what to call it.   The Westeros series?  The Seven Kingdoms series?  Not GAME OF THRONES or ICE & FIRE, certainly.   So…

I don’t know.

So… if not Best Novel, and not Best Series, where would FIRE & BLOOD fit on the Hugo ballot?  If anywhere?

My suggestion: Best Related Work.

That seems to be the best description of what the book actually is.   It’s an imaginary history, related to five published ICE & FIRE novels, but not a novel and not a part of that story.   A WORLD OF ICE & FIRE, the concordance we published several years ago, was its closest precursor.   That volume got some nominations in Best Related Work, though it did not come close to making the final five.  But there’s a precedent of sorts, so…

If you read and enjoyed FIRE & BLOOD and would like to nominate it for a Hugo, I would urge you to consider Related Work rather than Novel or Series.   (If you haven’t read it yet, hey, you can still get autographed copies from the bookshop at the Jean Cocteau Cinema).

And while I am the subject of the Best Related Work Hugo, let me make a recommendation that has nothing whatsoever to do with my own work (though my name is mentioned once, fwiw): ASTOUNDING, by Alec Nevala-Lee, an amazing and engrossing history of John W. Campbell Jr and his authors, Isaac Asimov, L. Ron Hubbard, and Robert A. Heinlein.   Insightful, entertaining, and compulsively readable, it brings Campbell and his era back to life.   I thought I knew a lot about Astounding, Campbell, and his authors, but Nevala-Lee goes way way deeper than any previous history I’ve read, and his book is full of stuff I never knew.  Of course, I’d love to have my own book nominated (I value the Hugo more than any other award), but I suspect that ASTOUNDING will win the rocket in the end.   It certainly deserves to.

 

Current Mood: confused confused

Worldcon Time!

August 6, 2018 at 7:31 am
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It’s August, and that means that worldcon is coming around once again.   (In a properly ordered universe, worldcon would be coming on Labor Day weekend but sadly that seems to be a lost cause since Dragoncon stole those dates).

This year’s gathering is in San Jose, California.   It ought to be called ConJose II, but it’s not.   I like my worldcons to have names, not numbers, however, so I refuse to accede to this new twitch of numbering cons instead of naming them.   The SanJose folks keep insisting that this worldcon is not ConJose II, though.   So be it.   In the tradition of my Not A Blog, and of course the famous John W. Campbell Award (Not A Hugo), I shall henceforth refer to this year’s gathering as Not ConJose II.

I have cut way down on the number of cons I attend, due to the press of work, but there’s no way I’d miss a worldcon, by any name.   I’ve only missed one in the last thirty years.   Dragoncon and San Diego Comicon and GenCon and many other cons are now much bigger, but worldcon remains the original, and the best, the heart of the fannish community.   Worldcon is like a family reunion.   And yes, like any large family, we have our share of drunken uncles, loony cousins, and snot-nosed kids… but still, family is family.   I’ll be there for the whole con.  I hope to see many of you in SanJose.  Worldcon is great time for getting together with old friends and making new ones.

I know that some of you will be hoping to get your books autographed at the con.   There will be several opportunities for that.

My week will start on Tuesday, August 14, with a special fundraiser on behalf of LOCUS, an evening with John Picacio.   That event is not an actual part of the con, so tickets will be sold separately.  I will not be signing at the fundraiser, no… but we will have hundreds of pre-signed books available for purchase at the event.

https://foxrwc.showare.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=210

I also have three scheduled signings at Not ConJose II itself.  Friday at noon and Sunday at 1pm, I will be signing in the official autograph area.   The lines will be capped, however; there’s a limit to how many books I can sign in an hour.   (No, my hand doesn’t fall off.   It’s my lower back that protests).  Sorry, I can’t do personalizations or inscriptions, and we have a limit of one book per person.   Mind you, if the lines are short, I will sometimes loosen the rules and sign a second book, etc.   Don’t count on that, though; my lines have not been short in years.   Oh, and yes, I will sign things other than books.   Games, cards, replica swords, photographs, program books, interesting body parts…. but still, only one item per person, and no personalizations.   And I don’t sign babies, pets, or books written by other authors.

Besides these two general signings, we also have the Wild Cards signing, scheduled for Saturday morning at 10am in the dealer’s room.   That’s a mass signing.  Melinda Snodgrass, Caroline Spector, Marko Kloos, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Kevin Andrew Murphy, and several other Wild Cards writers and creators will be joining me, to deface your books with their illegible scrawls.  But at that event we will be signing ONLY Wild Cards books, so please don’t bring copies of any of my other works… those you can get signed at the general signings.

I do prefer to limit my autographing to these four scheduled events.   I want to enjoy worldcon like everyone else, without having to scrawl my way through it.  So please do not approach me before or after panels, at the Hugos, in the corridors, at the parties, while I’m having dinner (or breakfast, or lunch), or in the restrooms to ask for an autograph.   Your understanding would be much appreciated.

Aside from signing things, what am I doing at Not ConJoseII? you may ask.

At 5pm on Friday I will be part of the Gardner Dozois Memorial.   A sad event, but I think we’ll have some laughs as well.   Gardner was the funniest man in our field for half a century, he’d want to hear us laughing.

There’s also to be a Wild Cards panel, though I am not sure just when.   The present time is a conflict for me.   Depending on where the panel gets moved, I may or may not be on it.  But there will be a Wild Cards panel regardless.

Oh, and keep your eyes on Thursday.   We’re looking at doing a presentation and trailer screening for the new NIGHTFLYERS television series that debuts this fall.   Details are still being worked out   When we have more definite news, I will let you know.

And that’s it, so far as my public participation in Not ConJoseII is concerned.   But of course, I will be there all weekend, wandering the dealer’s room, drinking in the bar, visiting the art show… and, of course, hitting the parties.   That’s what worldcon is all about.

 

Current Mood: busy busy

Hugo Nominations Announced

March 31, 2018 at 6:54 pm
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The San Jose Worldcon has announced this year’s list of nominations for the Hugo Awards and the John W. Campbell Award.

LOCUS has the full list of finalists at:

http://locusmag.com/2018/03/2018-hugo-and-campbell-awards-finalists/

The Hugo is the oldest and most prestigious award in SF and fantasy. If you want your voice to be heard, there’s still plenty of time to join the San Jose Worldcon and cast your vote. There’s Attending memberships, if you actually plan to attend, and Supporting memberships, if you can’t, but either way you get a Hugo ballot.

Congratulations to all the nominees. Some of you will carry home a silver rocket come August. More of you will be Hugo Losers, but that’s almost as good. (I’ve lost lots of them myself).

Sad to say, Wild Cards did not get any love this year (sob)… but I was very pleased to see that our Wild Cards editor, Diana Pho, is one of the finalists for Best Professional Editor. You go, Diana. Win it for Jetboy!

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Hugo Nominations Open

February 7, 2018 at 2:53 pm
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Nominations for the 2018 Hugo Awards have now opened, I am informed. If you are a member of last year’s worldcon in Helsinki, this year’s worldcon in San Jose, or next year’s worldcon in Dublin, you are eligible to nominate. You should be receiving an email with a link to the ballot. (I have not actually received mine yet, but I’m told that others have, so I expect mine Real Soon Now).

I have a few things eligible for nomination myself this year… more for editing than writing, however.

GAME OF THRONES is eligible in the Dramatic Presentation category, of course. The whole of Season 7 can be nominated in Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, and any or all of the individual episodes can be nominated in Short Form. GOT has won in both categories in the past. Last year in Helsinki, three episodes actually had enough votes to make the ballot, but the new rule limits any series to no more than two places on the ballot, so we had to withdraw one. But you can nominate as many episodes as you like.

Wild Cards had a big year last year. We celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the series, and our twenty-fourth mosaic novel, MISSISSIPPI ROLL, was published in the fall. A couple of the older books were reissued, and we had two original Wild Cards story on Tor.com — “When the Devil Drives” by Melinda M. Snodgrass, and “The Atonement Tango” by Stephen Leigh. The two Tor.com stories are both novelettes and are eligible in that category. MISSISSIPPI ROLL is a more complex case. Like most Wild Cards books, it is a mosaic novel, with individual stories by half a dozen writers woven together to make a whole that is, we hope, more than the sum of its parts. One could argue that our mosaics are anthologies, I suppose… but they feel more like collaborative novels to me. If the former view prevails, the individual components of MISSISSIPPI ROLL are eligible in the short fiction categories, Steve Leigh’s “In the Shadow of Tall Stacks” in novella, the other stories as novelettes. If the latter, the volume as a whole could be nominated in novel.

In either case, I’m eligible for nomination in the editing categories. Short Form, most likely, for the stories in Tor.com as well as the book. (If you consider MISSISSIPPI ROLL a novel, then it counts for me as a Long Form editor, but I don’t think one book is enough to make me eligible in that category). My Wild Cards work was the only editing I did in 2017. The big cross-genre anthologies I co-edited with Gardner Dozois all came out in previous years.

Wild Cards as a whole is definitely eligible for nomination as Best Series. That’s a new category that first appeared on the ballot last year, as an experiment, but now it has been made permanent.

The only writing I had published in 2017 was “The Sons of the Dragon,” which was published in THE BOOK OF SWORDS, Gardner Dozois’s massive anthology of original sword & sorcery stories. Like “The Rogue Prince” and “The Princess and the Queen” before it, “Sons” is more of my (fake) history of the Targaryen kings of Westeros. By length, it is a novella… but it’s not a traditional narrative. By design, it reads like history, not fiction; but since the history is entirely imaginative, it’s still fiction, even if dressed up as (fake) non-fiction.

It has been pointed out to me that the publication of “The Sons of the Dragon” makes the entirety of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE eligible to be nominated as Best Series. I suppose that’s so. All I can say to that is : please don’t. If you like fake history and enjoyed “The Sons of the Dragon,” by all means nominate the story as a novella… but it’s really not part of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, and sneaking in the entire series by means of a technicality seems wrong to me.

If I may broaden the discussion a bit, while I think it is good that the Hugo Awards now have a category to recognize series books, I would quibble somewhat with how a “series” is defined. The rules were written very broadly, to include not only true series, like last year’s winner, the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold, but also any grouping of stories set against a common background, what we used to call “future histories,” as well as what I’d term “mega-novels,” those massive epics too long to be contained in a single volume. Three-quarters of the SF I wrote back in the 70s was set against a common background, but I never considered that I was writing a series when I visited the Thousand Worlds; it was a future history, made up of stories set hundreds of years apart, on planets separated by thousands of light years (though within the future history there was a series, the Haviland Tuf stories). On the other extreme, I don’t consider A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE a series either; it’s one single story, being published in (we hope) seven volumes. FWIW, Tolkien wasn’t writing a series when he wrote LORD OF THE RINGS either. He wrote a big novel and his publisher divided it into three parts, none of which stands on its own.

Anyway, that’s my own perspective on the matter. Obviously, the good folks who drafted the Best Series rules disagree. Ultimately I think the fans will decide the matter by what they choose to nominate. Worldcon committees have traditionally been reluctant to overrule the fans, even in cases where a nominated work would seem to be ineligible for one reason or other.

FWIW, Wild Cards is a series, plainly, so if you want to consider any of my work for Best Series, that’s the one I’d ask you to look at. Thirty-one years and twenty=four books is something to be proud of, and I am.

Regardless of whether or not you nominate any of my own work, I do urge all the worldcon members reading this to be sure to nominate. There are a lot of awards being given in SF, fantasy, and horror these days, but the Hugo was the first, and it’s still the one that means the most. It is, of course, important to vote on the final ballot too… but you can’t vote for works that have not been nominated, and it is crucial to have widespread participation in the nominating stage.

((Comments and debate allowed, but ONLY on these subjects. Stay on topic)).

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Tea at Worldcon

September 18, 2017 at 11:15 am
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That Finnish Worldcon wasn’t all vodka and beer. It was also tea!

Maybe you missed the fun in Helsinki. If so, you certainly missed my guest appearance on TEA & JEOPARDY, Emma and Peter Newman’s Hugo (and Alfie) Award winning podcast.

But have no fear, it’s on line now:

http://teaandjeopardy.geekplanetonline.com/podcast/bonus-episode-live-tea-and-jeopardy-show-worldcon-75/

Enjoy. I know I did.

Current Mood: amused amused

A Sadness

September 10, 2017 at 3:51 pm
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Jerry Pournelle has passed away. He was 84.

It would seem that he attended Dragoncon in Atlanta, caught some kind of bug, and died in his sleep on September 8, after complaining of feeling unwell in his last blog post, on the 7th.

Pournelle has been a major figure in the field for as long as I have been a part of it. I first met him in 1973 at the worldcon in Toronto, where both of us were finalists for the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer (along with Lisa Tuttle, Ruth Berman, George Alec Effinger, and Robert Thurston). That was the very first year the award was given. To the surprise of no one, Pournelle won, though Geo. Alec Effinger finished so close behind the con gave him a special second place plaque, the only time THAT ever happened. (How close, you may ask? Ten votes, two votes, a single vote? No one knows. In those days, worldcons did not release vote totals).

The Hugos were given at a banquet in those days. I could not afford a ticket, so I came in after the meal for the awards. It was rather an unusual ceremony. The Hugo rockets had not arrived, so the winners received only empty bases… except for Jerry, since the Campbell sponsors (Conde Nast, in those days) HAD managed to come up with a plaque. There’s Jerry holding it, above.

The other weirdness about that night was that toastmaster Lester del Rey, for reasons only known to himself, chose to present the awards backwards. In other words, he started with Best Novel (the ‘Big One,’ then as now), working his way though short fiction and to the fan awards, and ended with the brand-new never-given-before Campbell. Thing is, people started leaving after each award was given, and by the end, there was hardly anyone left in the hall except me, Jerry Pournelle and his party, and the other nominees and their friends (I think Lisa Tuttle and Ruth Berman were there, but Thurston and Effinger were not, someone else accepted the plaque for Piglet).

I came out of the night all right. It was an honor, a huge honor, just to be nominated. And in the aftermath I came up with the idea of a Campbell Awards anthology. A couple editors told me it was an idea worth pursuing, but of course I needed to get all the nominees to sign on… and the key one was Jerry, the winner. So I bought him a drink and pitched him the notion, and he said yes (though, being the consummate pro, he made that contingent on me being able to pay competitive professional rates). Eventually that conversation led to my NEW VOICES anthology, and launched my career as an editor and anthologist… and I’m still going strong there, forty-four years later.

The Hugo voters knew what they were doing when they gave Pournelle that first Campbell; he went on to have an amazing career, both on his own and in collaboration with other writers, particularly Larry Niven. With INFERNO, LUCIFER’S HAMMER, FOOTFALL, and (especially) MOTE IN GOD’S EYE, the two of them helped transform the field in the 70s. They were among the very first SF writers ever to hit the big bestseller lists, and among the first to get six-figure advances at the time when most writers were still getting four figure advances… something that Jerry was never shy about mentioning. Though he was nominated for a number of Hugo Awards in the years that followed, he never won one… but if that bothered him, he did not show it. “Money will get you through times of no Hugos better than Hugos will get you through times of no money,” he said famously.

Pournelle was fond of talking about all the help Robert A. Heinlein (whom he always called “Mr. Heinlein,” at least in my hearing) gave him when he was starting out, and he was a passionate advocate of RAH’s “pay it forward” philosophy, and did much to help the generations of writers who came after him. He served a term in the thankless job of SFWA President, and remained an active part of SFWA ever after, as part of the advisory board of Past Presidents and (even more crucially) on GriefCom, the Grievance Committee. Jerry could be loud and acrimonious, yes, and when you were on the opposite side of a fight from him that was not pleasant… ahh, but when you were on the SAME side, there was no one better to have in your foxhole. I had need of SFWA’s Griefcom only once in my career, in the early 80s, and when we met at worldcon with the publisher I had Jerry with me representing Griefcom. He went through the publisher’s people like a buzzsaw, and got me everything I wanted, resolving my grievance satisfactorily (and confidentially, so no, no more details).

His politics were not my politics. He was a rock-ribbed conservative/ libertarian, and I’m your classic bleeding-heart liberal… but we were both fans, and professional writers, and ardent members of SFWA, and we loved SF and fantasy and fandom, and that was enough. You don’t need to agree with someone on everything to be able to respect them. And while MOTE IN GOD’S EYE may not have won the Hugo in its year, it remains one of the great classics of space opera, destined to be read and re-read for as long as people read science fiction (it IS an honor just to be nominated).

The last time I saw Jerry was at Keith Kato’s chili party at MidAmericon II. He loved Keith’s chili as much as I do, another point in his favor.

R.I.P. Jerry. You were one ornery so-and-so, but you were our ornery so-and-so. Hoist a pint for me at that Secret Pro Party in the sky, and say hello to Mr. Heinlein.

Current Mood: sad sad

Worldcon!!

September 1, 2017 at 4:33 pm
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It’s Labor Day weekend. Time for WORLDCON!! I’m so excited, I…

Oh, wait. Worldcon was over weeks ago. Finncon, Finnishcon, Helsinkicon, I remember (no, I will not call it “Worldcon 75,” I am not a number, I am a free fan). And a splendid con it was.

Even if it was held on the wrong weekend.

Worldcon belongs on Labor Day weekend. And always will. (After all, did Tom Disch slam my generation of writers as the “Early August Bunch?” No, he did not).

Dragoncon, you say? Dragoncon belongs back in July, where it was born.

Worldcon should move back to Labor Day and stay there, regardless of whatever other johnny-come-lately cons move to the same weekend. Worldon has dibs!

The Space Geezer has spoken.

Current Mood: annoyed annoyed

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