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Paying It Forward

June 1, 2021 at 10:07 am
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Heinlein said it best.   You can never pay back the people who helped you when you were first starting out, so all you can do is pay it forward, and try to help those who come after.

Those words, and the sentiment behind them, have always resonated with me, and I have done my best to Pay It Forward.  One of the ways I’ve tried to do that is with the scholarships I sponsor — to Clarion and Clarion West, Odyssey, and the Taos Toolbox, to IAIA here in Santa Fe, and through the Stagecoach Foundation.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from one of those scholarship recipients, who had some exciting news to share:

“My name is Isabel Cañas and I was the first recipient of your Worldbuilder scholarship to attend Clarion West in 2018. I said hello and introduced myself to you briefly after the Hugo Awards ceremony at WorldCon in Dublin in 2019. I’m writing with the wonderful news that my debut Gothic horror novel, The Hacienda, recently sold in a major deal at auction and will be published by Berkley in Spring 2022.

I am also writing to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart. Attending Clarion West is a life-and career-changing experience for many writers; I can attest the same. It gave me the courage to write in new genres and explore my identity as a Mexican-American writer in a space that was both safe and that pushed me hard to improve my craft. I grew immensely as a writer during those six weeks and the months and years after. Without Clarion West, I do not believe I would have been able to write the novel that will be my debut.

In 2018, I would not have been able to attend Clarion West without financial aid. Because of the doors that the workshop experience has opened for me, I now find myself in a position where I can extend that generosity to the next generation of students: I will be funding one Latinx student to attend Clarion West in 2022. Currently, it is a one-time scholarship, but in the future, I hope to be able to follow your example and fund an annual scholarship.”

I was pleased as hell by Isabel’s big sale, and look forward to reading her novel.

And I am even more delighted to hear that she herself will also be Paying It Forward, by sponsoring an even newer writer at Clarion West in 2022.   I think Heinlein would have been pleased as well.

((Isabel adds, “If it’s not too much trouble to add a link to your post, I am happy to report that The Hacienda is now on Goodreads, if your readers would like to add it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/57840571-the-hacienda  “))

 

 

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Covid Claims Another Friend

March 5, 2021 at 3:23 pm
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The Grim Reaper just keeps on reaping, sad to say.

I have lost another friend.   Last night I got a phone call from Michael Cassutt in LA to tell me that our mutual friend Dr. Michael Engelberg had died.   He was a victim of Covid-19, one of the half million we have lost.

Dr. Michael was a physician himself, an oncologist at Cedar-Sinai in Los Angeles, and one of the leaders in his field, though he retired from active practice a few years ago.    Thankfully (knock wood) neither I nor anyone in my immediate circle ever needed to call upon his expertise in the treatment of cancer… but having a good friend who was also a doctor at one of the leading hospitals in the country was definitely something to be thankful for.   He was always the first person I turned to for a second opinion whenever Parris or I had a medical issue of any sort.   There was no one better.   Twenty years ago, asking him for that second opinion saved Parris from having an entirely unnecessary heart procedure, for which we will be eternally grateful.

Dr. Michael lived a double life, however.   By day he was a physician, one of the country’s leading oncologists.   But he was also a hardcore science fiction and fantasy fan, and a film producer… and it was in that capacity that I first met him, back in the early 90s.    I was doing a lot of screenwriting in those days, and Engelberg was looking for writers to script some of the projects he had in development at Disney, so my agent set up a breakfast for us… at Hugo’s, I believe.   (That was a big industry breakfast-and-lunch place in those days.   The food was great…. and, of course, with a name like that, there was no place better for two old fanboys to get together and talk SF).   We hit it off at once, and two decades of friendship ensued.

We also worked together.   Michael was a decade older than me and had been reading SF all his life.   He had an amazing collection, especially of Golden Age material.   He loved Asimov, Heinlein, Sturgeon, Simak, and his dream was to bring some of their classic works to the silver screen.

His favorite was Edgar Rice Burroughs and his Barsoom novels.   Michael was the producer who first brought A PRINCESS OF MARS to Disney, and got it optioned by Hollywood Pictures, a Disney subsidiary.   For more than a decade he fought to get it filmed.   Writer after writer took a crack at it, and at least once the project got a greenlight with a director attached… but then the director demanded another rewrite, and the studio did not like it much, and the green light turned to red.   The director left, and more writers came and went… the last team being me and Melinda Snodgrass.   We did a couple of passes ourselves, and for a while it seemed we were going to get a green light for our version… but then the Mouse changed his mind, decided PRINCESS needed to be animated instead of live action, and took it away from us and Hollywood Pictures and assigned it to Disney proper.  Where nothing happened.   In later years the Disney option expired, and the Burroughs estate sold the rights to Paramount.   Nothing happened there either, alas.   So Disney came back into the picture and bought back the rights to Barsoom, but the Hollywood Pictures division was defunct by then, so a whole new group of people took charge of the project.   I don’t think they ever even looked at the old scripts.   Instead they made JOHN CARTER.   Dr. Michael was not connected with that, and I think it broke his heart a little… but that’s development for you.

A PRINCESS OF MARS was his passion project, but by no means the only one he worked on.    There was a time back in the 90s when I had four — yes, count ’em, four — films in active development at Hollywood Pictures, and Dr. Michael Engelberg was the executive producer and guiding hand on all of them.   Besides PRINCESS, Melinda and I were also developing WILD CARDS as a feature film, collaborating on a screenplay built around our own most iconic characters, Dr. Tachyon and the Great and Powerful Turtle.   Michael also picked up the rights to FADEOUT, an original SF screenplay I had written for a small independent that had gone bust.    For a time there was talk of attaching Sharon Stone to that one, but when that fell through, so did the project.  And Hollywood also optioned my historical horror novel, FEVRE DREAM.  I was so busy with other work — the aforementioned PRINCESS, WILD CARDS, FADEOUT, as well as three television pilots, the Wild Cards books, and this fantasy novel I had started in 1991 — that I did not get around to writing the screenplay for FEVRE DREAM for a while, alas.   Big mistake.   By the time I turned in the script, Hollywood Pictures was on its last legs and had lost all interest in steamboats and vampires.   They put the script in turnaround the day after I turned it in.

None of that was Dr. Michael’s fault.   He was as frustrated as any of us by the vagaries of development hell.   Maybe more so.   I loved working with him, maybe because he had a trufan’s reverence for the original material.  Whether dealing with ERB, RAH, or GRRM, he always argued for staying with the book and doing faithful adaptations.

In the end, Dr. Michael only got one of his numerous projects filmed: the 1994 adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s THE PUPPET MASTERS.  That was another book he brought to Disney, and it gave him great joy when the cameras finally began to roll… although I know he would rather that one had stayed a bit closer to RAH’s novel as well.   If Hollywood had more sense, PUPPET MASTERS would have been the first of many Michael Engelberg productions.  Instead it proved to be the first and last.

My friendship with Michael lasted much longer than our working relationship.   Whenever I visited LA, I would make sure I made time to visit him, so we could catch up and talk about the books we’d loved and the movies we wanted to make.   Our favorite haunt was Hop Li, a Chinese restaurant in LA’s Chinatown, where we would gather around a big round table and share a feast with other writers, fans, and movie people.   Melinda Snodgrass, Michael Cassutt, Alan Brennert, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, David Goyer, Len Wein, Chris Valada were all regulars at our Hop Li gatherings.  And you never knew who else might turn up.   One time it was Deke Slayton, which was pretty damn exciting.

If Covid ever ends and I get to return to LA again, I hope those of us who are left can gather at Hop Li once more and raise a toast to Dr. Michael Engelberg over some tangerine beef, peking duck, and walnut shrimp.   He was one of the good ones.

 

Current Mood: depressed depressed

The Amazing Wanda June

February 17, 2021 at 4:37 pm
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Wanda June Alexander died on Sunday morning, at her daughter’s house in Santa Fe, up the street from my own places.

Her health had been failing for some time, going back a couple of years at least, so all of us who loved her knew that we were going to lose her soon.   We thought she had another three or four months, though, maybe longer… and of course one cannot help but hope, even when the docs tell you there is no hope.   Wanda faced and fought lung cancer a few years ago, and though she beat it with chemo, in the aftermath she was left with Idiopathic Pulmony Fibrosis, which was slowly destroying her ability to breathe.    She went on as best she could for as long as she could, enjoying every day to the best of her ability, but at the end she was bedridden and hooked up to oxygen 24/7.   It was only going to get worse, we were told.  The end, when it came, seemed to be as peaceful as it was sudden; she went to sleep, and died sometime in the night.   She was gone come morning.   Right up to the last she was as sharp, funny, and loving a woman she had always been.   A lot of friends came to visit her and spend time with her over the holidays and afterward, and she enjoyed their company as much as she enjoyed theirs.   Wanda June was always a delight.

Wanda and Raya

Wanda June was a dear dear friend… but more than that, really.   She and Raya have been part of our family, in one sense or another, for decades.  I do not actually recall when and where I first met Wanda.  It was at a con, no doubt, probably in the late 70s or early 80s.   I knew OF Wanda before I actually knew Wanda, however.  She was an East Coast fan when I first began hearing tales of her, from mutual friends.   Gardner Dozois, Jack Dann, David Axler, Dave Kogelmen, Joe and Gay Haldeman… all of them were friends of mine, and friends of the legendary Wanda June.   She was one of Parris’s oldest, dearest friends, from the 70s on to this very day.   Parris, as many of you know, ran off and joined the circus in the late 70s, travelling with Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey for a year, selling sno-cones to the kids.   She fell in love with the elephants (and loves elephants still).   But it was Wanda June who inspired her… Wanda ran off and joined the circus first.   Instead of elephants, Wanda fell in love with a clown.   The relationship did not endure, but from that union came the great joy of Wanda June’s life, her amazing daughter Raya.  (Seen above when she was little).

The circus was only the start of Wanda June’s adventures.   After Ringling she returned to New York City, where she became an editor for Tor Books… and Raya got her start in publishing toddling around the corridors of the Flatiron Building, bringing Tom Doherty his mail.  Ultimately she left Tor to go back to school, though, heading off to Montana to get her Master’s degree in English.   As much as she loved editing, she loved teaching more… and her students loved her.   She was one of those teachers who changes lives, and she shared her loved of books and reading (and SF and fantasy) with all the kids she taught.

She began her teaching career after Montana, and it took her to some pretty colorful places, including a small island off the coast of Alaska, and a place called Dead Monkey Ridge in New Mexico, where she taught on the Navajo Reservation for some years.  Then came Grants, New Mexico, and the public schools there… and finally retirement.   Education was the poorer when Wanda June put down her chalk and her eraser.   Once retired, she moved to Santa Fe to be close to Raya, and we had the pleasure of her company frequently.   She and Parris and Raya… and sometimes me… shared some great memories of these past few years.   Trips to Ireland, the Yucatan, the Bahamas, London.   Thanksgiving feasts at Melinda’s house.   Christmas morning, opening gifts.

And cons.   She was an educator, an editor, an agent, a mother, and a circus roadie… but through it all, Wanda June Alexander was always a FAN.   She loved science fiction and fantasy, loved books, movies, and television, loved fandom… and above all, loved the friends she made there.   Wanda had sisters and other blood relatives, a largish family, but fandom was her family too.   If I believed in such things, it would please me to think she was off with Gardner and Kay and Roger right now, drinking and laughing and telling jokes at the Secret Pro Party in the sky.

She was one of a kind, Wanda June.   We are all going to miss her so very, very much.

((Raya tells me that, in lieu of flowers or other memorials, Wanda would have wanted those who mourn her to donate to a local teen or family shelter near where you live.   Wanda always loved the kids: her own students, and those she never had the chance to teach, and please be sure they are LGBTQ friendly and an inclusive organization in general)).

 

Current Mood: sad sad

A Farewell to Phyl

January 18, 2021 at 5:04 pm
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My old friend Phyllis Eisenstein died on December 7, in Chicago.   The cause of death, I am told, was Covid-19, but Phyllis had been hospitalized for most of the year, following a cerebral hemorrhage last January.

I have been trying to write a memorial to her since her passing… trying, and struggling with it.   The holidays interfered, as they will, and of course I have so much on my plate… but mainly it was just hard.    There was so much to say, and it seemed that only days had passed since I wrote about the deaths of Kay McCauley and then Ben Bova.   Each one of those was a blow, and coming so soon one after the other… I confess, it left me in a dark place.   The closer you are to someone, the harder it is to do justice to their memory.  And Phyllis and I were close.

My old friend, I said… and damn, but that is true.   I had known Phyl for  half a century, I’ve realized, looking back.   We first met in Boston in 1971, at Noreascon I, the first worldcon I ever attended.   She was working the SFWA table at the con, greeting members and telling them about SFWA… a volunteer, giving of her time and effort to help out.   Phyllis did a lot of that; she had a generous soul.   I had only sold two stories when I turned up at Noreason and I was not yet qualified to join SFWA.  I had only attended one previous sf con, so I knew almost no one at worldcon… but Phyllis was warm and friendly, and I spent a lot of the con hanging around her at the table, and she introduced me to other writers, editors, artists, all sorts of people.   Phyllis, and her husband Alex, had been a part of fandom for a long time, and she seemed to know everyone.

I mean to write about all that, and more, but I also wanted to say something about her work, for Phyllis Eisenstein was a gifted and accomplished writer, one who never got the attention that I think that she deserved.    There’s a lot to say about that as well.   And I will.

The days have been flying by, though, and the demands on me have been building, and finally I concluded it was better to post this short notice than say nothing at all.   I will return to Phyllis and write her a much longer memorial, I promise… when I can.   Soon, I hope.

There has been too much death.   Phyl is the third friend I lost in the last two months of 2020, that most dismal of years.   And three other friends, people very near and dear to me, are struggling with very grave health issues even now.  It seems there is darkness everywhere.  The COVID death count keeps rising, there are fascists in the streets; the best lack all conviction, the worst are full of passionate intensity, and Kay and Ben and Phyl are all gone.

Be well, my friends.

 

Current Mood: sad sad

Moveable Feasts

January 11, 2021 at 8:15 am
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A few weeks ago, while up in my mountain fastness, I rewatched MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, the Woody Allen film about a struggling writer visiting modern Paris (played by Owen Wilson) who finds himself travelling back in time to Paris of the 20s, where he finds himself bumping into Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Dali, Picasso, and the other artists and writers who made that such a special time.   It’s a lovely, entertaining movie about nostalgia.  I have enjoyed it before and I expect I will enjoy it again.

Watching it, however, made me realize that I had never read Hemingway’s A MOVEABLE FEAST, his memoir about his days in Paris as a hungry young writer in the 20s.   That book, and the times it chronicles, were obviously what inspired Allen to do MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.   I have never been a huge Hemingway fan, as it happens — I have read several of his novels, of course, though by no means all, and when I look back on the writers of that era, I find I much prefer F. Scott Fitzgerald — but I was curious, so I went and ordered the book and devoured it as soon as it arrived.

A few random thoughts–
— Woody Allen really nails Hemingway in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, hoo boy,
— I liked A MOVEABLE FEAST more than I have any of Hemingway’s novels, truth be told.   It was a vivid glimpse back into a vanished time and place, and into the author himself as a young man.   The book was not entirely what I expected.   Parts of it were moving and nostalgic, but other parts were surprisingly funny, like Hemingway’s efforts to assure Fitzgerald that his dick was not too small by showing him statues in the Louvre.   Other parts were sad, like the account of his estrangement from Gertrude Stein.   And his thoughts on life, love, and writing are always fascinating,
— Hemingway could not have been an easy friend; his judgements of others could be scathing and acidic.   Alice Roosevelt Longworth would have wanted him sitting near her, for certain,
— whatever golden glow might light the moveable feast of Paris in the 20s, I can never escape the knowledge that after the 20s came the 30s, when the lights went out all over Europe.   You know.  Nazis.   And that makes me think of the world today, and shiver.

Thing is, while A MOVEABLE FEAST is about Paris in the 20s, it was not written until decades later.   It was, in fact, published posthumously, after Hemingway took his own life.   He was writing and editing it during the last years of his life… an old man, rich and famous and sad, looking back on his youth when he was poor and struggling and unknown, but alive and vital, in love with his first wife and with Paris, drunk on dreams of what the future might hold, of all the possibilities that lay before him.   The whole book very much exemplifies what Woody Allen was talking about in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.   Papa, in those final years, is writing of the time and place when he was happiest… or at least the time and place he remembers being happiest…  but I do wonder whether or not he is only remembering the good stuff.

Reading it, I could not help but reflect on my own life.   We all have our own moveable feasts.   For me, I think, it was science fiction fandom in the 70s.   I was a struggling writer then, just as Hemingway was in the 20s; writing, writing, going to workshops, collecting rejections, trying to get better, never knowing when the next sale might come.   No, I did not get to hang with Scott and Zelda, or Hemingway, or Gertrude Stein, or Dali… but I had Howard Waldrop and Jack Dann and Lisa Tuttle, I drank with the Haldemans, I hunted the hallways of worldcon with Gardner Dozois looking for the Secret Pro Party, went skinny-dipping in hotel pools and met Parris in a sauna.   When I got hungry I went looking for an editor with an expense account who might buy me a meal (elsewise I was scrounging in the con suite).   Giants walked the halls in those days, and I had the good fortune to meet a few of them, if only to tell them what their work had meant to me.  I shook the hands of C.L. Moore and Edmond Hamilton and Murray Leinster, I had actual conversations with Isaac Asimov and Robert A. Heinlein and Ray Bradbury and Ted Sturgeon, I got to share meals with Julie Schwartz and Wilson Tucker, with Harlan Ellison and Robert Silverberg.

Like Hemingway in Paris, I never had much money.   I shared rooms at cons, slept on floors or in a bathtub, got to the cons on a bus or in the back seat of a friend’s car… walked to the hotels from the bus station, lugging my suitcase in my hand (no wheels on luggage in those days) since I did not have the money for a cab.   Were those the bad parts?  Or the good parts?  From 2020, it is not easy to say.   They make me smile now, as I look back.   But if I try, I know that there were really bad parts too.   Like Hemingway, though, I choose not to dwell on them.  The world was a fucked-up place, then as now, but fandom was a refuge; warm, welcoming, strange (but in a good way), a community unlike any I had ever known, united by a shared love of our peculiar little branch of literature and the people who wrote it.

To quote one of Hemingway’s contemporaries, however, you can’t go home again.  By the time Hemingway sat down to write A MOVEABLE FEAST in those last years of his life, he surely knew that the Paris he had known and loved in the 20s was gone forever… and the fandom that I knew and loved in the 70s is gone as well.   This year the worldcon is in Washinton DC, in the very same hotel where the 1974 worldcon was held… the worldcon where I lost my first Hugo, accepted Lisa Tuttle’s Campbell Award, and prowled the halls till dawn with Gargy, looking for parties we never found.   There is a part of me that somehow hopes that going back to the same hotel in the same city, I might somehow recapture something of those nights.   But my head knows better.   My head knows those days are gone forever, along with so many of the people that I shared them with.    I wonder how often Papa Hemingway returned to Paris in the 40s and 50s, and what he thought of the place when he did.

Anyway… I quite like MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, and I loved A MOVEABLE FEAST.   Maybe you will too.

 

 

 

Current Mood: melancholy melancholy

RIP Mike

January 14, 2020 at 7:33 pm
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I was deeply saddened this week to read of the death of Mike Resnick, one of the true giants of contemporary science fiction.  Mike has been battling serious illness for some time, so the news did not come as a complete surprise… but it came too soon, too soon, and our field and our community will be the poorer for his absence.

I don’t recall when I first met Mike, but it was a long, long time ago, back in the 1970s when both of us were still living in Chicago.  I was a young writer and he was a somewhat older, somewhat more established writer.  There were a lot of young writers in the Chicago area in those days, along with three more seasoned pros, Gene Wolfe, Algis Budrys, and Mike.   What impressed me at the time… and still impresses me, all these years later… was how willing all three of them were to offer their advice, encouragements, and help to aspiring neo-pros like me.   Each of them in his own way epitomized what this genre and this community were all about back then.  Paying forward, in Heinlein’s phrase.

And no one paid it forward more than Mike Resnick.

He was fine writer, and a prolific one, as all his Hugo and Nebula nods will testify.  After they started giving out those little rocket pins for Hugo nominations, Resnick would wear them on his shirt like medals: pointed up for a story that won, down for a story that lost.  That always charmed me.  Mike won the Hugo five times; once for novella, once for novelette, thrice for short story  (like me, he never won the big one, Best Novel).   He lost a lot more (we had that in common as well).   He took that in stride, with a shrug and a smile, in the true spirit of a Hugo Loser.

He never won for Best Editor either, and as best I recall he was nominated only once, under unfortunate circumstances.   That was a pity.  He deserved more recognition for his editing.   He edited something like forty anthologies, I believe, and he always made a point to fill them with a lot of young aspiring writers, new names and no-names making their first or second or fifth professional sale.  I can’t say how many careers he helped launch, but it was a lot.  In modern times, only Gardner Dozois was more assiduous in searching out new talent.   Mike called his discoveries his “writer babies” and they called him their “writer daddy,” and many a time I would see him  in the lobby of a con hotel, with a dozen of his literary children sitting around his feet as he shared his wisdom with them… along with a funny story and ribald anecdote or two.

His last great act as an editor was the founding of GALAXY’S EDGE, a new SF magazine that he launched… in an act of madness that was all Mike… at the time when the old magazines were struggling to survive.   GALAXY’S EDGE always featured a lot of new writers too, and Mike paid them decent rates… a feat he accomplished by twisting the arms of old coots like me to give him reprints for pennies, to free up more money for the newcomers.  (Lots of us old coots were glad to do it.  Like Mike, we believe in paying forward).  I hope and trust that GALAXY’S EDGE will keep going strong, as a lasting testament to his legacy.

These days, all too often, I meet writers who come to conventions only to promote themselves and their books.   They do their panels, and you bump into them at the SFWA Suite, but nowhere else.   Not Mike.  Mike Resnick was fannish to the bone.   You’d find him at publisher’s parties and the SFWA suite, sure, but he’d also pop up at bid parties, in the bar, in the con suite.  He made more than one Hugo Loser party, both before and after the days I was running it.  You’d see him in the dealer’s room, at the art show, at the masquerade… his Chun the Unavoidable costume, from Jack Vance’s DYING EARTH, was a classic.   When he appeared on panels, he was funny, sharp, irascible, irreverent, always entertaining… and he would do entire panels without once plugging his own new book, a trick more program participants should learn.  The place you’d find him most often at worldcon was the CFG suite, the redoubt of the Cincinnati Fan Group.  He was the professional’s professional, sure, but Mike was also the fan’s fan.   For some writers conventions are for selling, selling, selling… for Mike, they were more about giving, giving, giving.   And having fun.   That too.   Mike always seemed to be smiling or laughing.   He loved science fiction, fantasy, fandom, writing, reading, cons… and he shared his passion with everyone around him.

Science fiction has lost a fine writer, a unique voice, a magnificent mentor… and a profoundly good and decent man.

Current Mood: melancholy melancholy

A Very Special Award

September 15, 2019 at 9:17 am
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The Hugo Awards are the most famous prizes handed out annually at the World Science Fiction Convention… but they are by no means the only ones.   The Hugo ceremonies also include the presentation of two “Not A Hugo” awards, the Lodestar for YA novels and the best new writer award (the John W. Campbell Award from 1973 until last month, subsequently renamed).  In years past the Big Heart Award (which has undergone quite a bit of renaming itself) and the First Fandom Awards were also presented on Hugo night.   In days now long forgotten there was also the Gandalf… and more recently there have been the Retr0-Hugos, though those traditionally have a separate ceremony of their own.

But the rules also allow each year’s concom to give a special committee award, if they choose to.   This year, the Dublin concom chose to… and to my surprise and delight, they gave the award to my wife Parris and myself.

James Bacon presented the award to us at Dublin’s closing ceremonies.   We were deeply touched.

In the spirit of the Alfies, the trophy is made from an old automobile hood ornament.   Though I am damned if I know what model car it came from… it is certainly very different from the sleek 50s rockets and jets that we cannibalize for the Alfies.   Makes no matter.   It’s cool looking, and we love what it represents.

Parris has often told the story of walking into her first con, the 1974 worldcon in Washington DC, and thinking, “At last, I’ve found my people.”   I started a few years before her, attending my first cons in 1971, but I had the same feeling.

We’ve both found a family in fandom, a warm and welcoming community that has become a huge part of our lives.  And we both believe in giving back, in paying it forward as RAH once urged us all to do.   Also, we’re both descended from Irish immigrants (the Bradys for me, the Moynihans for Parris), so getting this award at an Irish worldcon was especially meaningful.

Thanks, James.  Thanks, Dublin.   Thanks, fandom.

Fandom IS a way of life.

Current Mood: happy happy

Shout Out for Mike

September 2, 2019 at 2:54 pm
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Mike Resnick is one of the giants of our field.  A former worldcon Guest of Honor, a Hugo winner (many times) and Hugo loser (even more times), founder and editor of GALAXY’S EDGE magazine, novelist and editor and anthologist and unfailing champion of new writers (he calls them his Writer Babies, and they are legion).

Now he needs help, to deal with some staggering medical bills.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help him.

Go ye, and contribute.  Every dollar helps.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-mike-resnick-pay-off-a-neardeath-experience

 

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

Two Fanboys

July 1, 2019 at 12:16 pm
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Leonard Maltin, a legend among film critics, and his daughter Jessie Maltin were in Santa Fe last week, for a visit to the Jean Cocteau Cinema.   I taped a segment with Leonard for his podcast, and afterward Leonard and Jessie did a talk, a Q&A, and a booksigning at the theatre.  Great fun.

We discovered that Leonard and I sprang from the same roots.   We were both Jersey boys who got involved in fanzine fandom at an early age.   While I was writing superhero stories (Manta Ray!  Dr. Weird!  Garizan the Mechanical Warrior!!!) for the comic fanzines of the 60s, he started his own film fanzine.

You can hear our whole conversation on his podcast, Maltin On Movies http://maltinonmovies.libsyn.com/george-rr-martin

Leonard also blogged about his fanzine days and his visit to the JCC.   You can read the full text here:

We filmed the talk by Leonard and Jessie as well, and will be uploading that to the JCC website soon.

Meanwhile, for all you Leonard Maltin fans out there, we have autographed copies of four of his books available from the Jean Cocteau website — along with signed books by Alan Brennert, Neil Gaiman, Lee Child, Marlon James, John Hodgman, Lisa See, Diana Gabaldon, Carrie Vaughn, Melinda Snodgrass, Robert Jackson Bennett, Rebecca Roanhorse, Daniel Abraham, and many many more… along with yours truly.  Check out the full listings at:

https://jeancocteaucinema.com/shop/

Current Mood: geeky geeky

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