Not a Blog

The Queen of Agents

November 11, 2020 at 4:37 pm
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A very dark year got even darker a few days ago, when I learned of the death of Kay McCauley in New York City.

Kay had been my literary agent for many many years, and a big part of my life for even longer.   I have been trying to recall the first time I met her, but the memories are blurry.   I suspect the first time we spoke was by phone.   I had signed on with Kay’s brother, Kirby McCauley, along about the mid 70s, when I was a struggling young writer and he was a struggling young agent.   Kirby had come out of Minnesota to set up shop in the Big Apple, and in the early days he flew solo, working out of his apartment, representing the estates of a few giants and a lot of upstarts and neopros like me.   But he climbed, he climbed.  His client list grew, and some of his clients became stars… in no small part due to Kirby.   To the best of my recollection, Kay came out from Minnesota to join him in the early/ mid 80s, to help him manage a business that had become ever larger and more chaotic.   She soon became an indispensable part of the agency that was variously known as Kirby McCauley Ltd, then the Pimlico Agency, then Aurous.

Kirby died in September 0f 2014.   Hard to believe that it has been six years.  The years go by so very swiftly now.   I made a long post about Kirby and all he did for me shortly after his death on my old LiveJournal version of Not A Blog.  It is still up, so I won’t repeat myself here, beyond posting a link to:
https://grrm.livejournal.com/382006.html 

The agency carried on after Kirby’s death, and so did Kay.   She had been pretty much running things for a decade or more in any case, with Kirby advising from the sidelines, semi-retired.   And if Kirby had been the King of Agents at his height, his sister was indisputably the queen.

I have been trying to write this tribute to Kay for two days now, but the words come hard.   She was such a big part of my life… and the life of all her clients, I think.   Hers was an old fashioned sort of literary agency.   She did not have a long list of clients, and… indeed… was not eager to take on anyone new, though from time to time she made exceptions.   She took on Gardner Dozois when he finally left the agency he had been with for decades, and did great things for him.   (Gardner, love him, was such an Eeyore that he tried to argue when Kay got him MUCH bigger advances than he had been getting previously, protesting “No, that’s too much,” but Kay was having none of that).   She took on Vic Milan when so one else would touch him and made him the biggest and best sale he had ever gotten.   She did amazing stuff for many of her other clients too… but I will let them tell you about that.   And of course she and Kirby did great things for me.

Being one of Kay’s clients was not an ordinary writer/agent relationship.   To Kay, we were all family.   She loved her clients, and her clients loved her back.    There is no one like her.

(Mind you, Kay could be fierce as well.   She did not forget, and she did not easily forgive anyone who she felt had screwed her, her brother, or any of her clients.   You messed with Kay McCauley at your own peril).

The news of Kay’s death came as a total shock to me, and… I suspect… to most of her clients.   Kay was older than Kirby, and a decade or so older than me, but you would never have known it.   Her energy was prodigious.   She seemed like a force of nature, indestructible, tireless; I figured she would go on for decades.   I think all of us did.   She was working hard for her clients right up until the end.   In fact, she had just closed a deal for three more Wild Cards anthologies for us.   The contract is sitting on my desk as I type, awaiting my review and signature.  Kay would probably have phoned or texted in another day or two to scold me for not dealing with it more quickly.

She always loved Wild Cards; the books, yes, the characters… and all the writers as well.   For a number of years, she would fly out to Santa Fe on or about September 15 (Wild Cards Day) and throw a big party for all the Wild Carders.   We had one at my theatre, and several of them at Meow Wolf.  None this year, alas, thanks to Covid… but I know Kay would have made up for that next year.   Though she did not often come to worldcon, she was planning to attend CoNZealand and throw a party there.  Covid put an end to that as well, sad to say.  (FWIW, I do not believe she died from Covid).

Of course, dinner with Kay was always on the schedule whenever I visited New York.   The last one — the last time I saw her — was a year ago in October, when Kay and me and Tom Doherty and Diana Pho and my assistant Sid had a marvelous steak feast at Keen’s Steakhouse in NYC.   Tom and Kay had secretly arranged for the restaurant to present to present me with one of the clay pipes that have decorated the walls and ceiling of Keen’s since colonial days.  A rare honor.   I have never smoked,  but I was thrilled all the same.


SID & KAY at KEEN’s, October 2019

I have so many other memories of Kay… she has been a huge part of my life and career for so many years.   I remember when she went to Ashford Castle in Ireland with me and Parris, the meals we shared together, the day the three of us went hawking.   I wish I had a photograph of Kay with her hawk.   We had such a great time there, we often talked of going back.   Being Irish, Kay often talked of wanting to retire and move to a cottage in Ireland… a fond dream, but I knew she would never do it.  She might have started as a Minnesota gal, but Manhattan was in her blood.   I remember the times we visited City Island with Kirby, to feast on seafood at one of the waterside restaurants there.   So many toasts… great bottles of wine, champagne, and of course prosecco.  And great meals.   Which she always insisted on buying…  unless there was an editor along she could give the check to.   I think I only managed to pay for her dinner once, during a visit to Santa Fe, and to do that I had to get to the restaurant twenty minutes ahead of her and speak to our waiter, make special arrangements so the check next came to the table… elsewise she would have ripped it from my hands.

I remember how we wept together, on the phone, when Roger Zelazny died.

And again, decades later, for Gardner.

She was a great agent too.   And unlike many literary agents of her generation, she was not afraid of new media.   Kay never played a role-playing game in her life, but the first time I was offered an RPG deal, she learned all she could about gaming, plunged in, and got me a terrific contract.

Ah… I hardly knew how to start this, and now I do not know how to stop…

It is going to take me a long long time to get over her passing.   Years from now, I suspect, part of me will still find myself wanting to text her, or pick up the phone and call her.   She was always just a phone call away.

And I damn well better get that Wild Cards contract signed soon, or I know that Kay will haunt me.

If there is an afterlife, Kay McCauley is with her brother Kirby right now, and the two of them are negotiating better places in heaven for their clients.

((I will leave comments open on this one, but ONLY for comments about Kay.   Those of you who knew her, and have memories and tributes to share, please do.   I would like to read them)).

 

 

Current Mood: sad sad

Worldcon… Virtually

July 28, 2020 at 8:03 am
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CoNZealand is almost upon us.

As everyone knows (except perhaps the fellow who has been quarantining is his bomb shelter all these months, cut off from human contract), we are not actually gathering in Wellington, New Zealand this year, thanks to the pandemic.  Instead we are having the very first virtual worldcon.

The virtual Nebula Awards went pretty well, so I am hoping that Virtual Worldcon will as well.   But worldcon is a much bigger undertaking, so no one knows.  Least of all me.  Yes, I am the Toastmaster this year, but I am also one of the least tech savvy science fiction writers on the planet.   Aside from Howard Waldrop, anyway.   If the panels could somehow be conducted on the old GEnie platform, I would be fine.  I was very comfortable and quite active on GEnie.   But I gather we are using something called Zoom, and my every attempt to use Zoom hitherfore have been disasters.  This time I will have tech help from the con, however, so maybe it will go better…

I will be a small part of Opening Ceremonies, and I have a couple of panels as well… but my main contribution to the Virtual Worldcon will be as the host of the Hugo Awards.   Something I was looking forward to eagerly since the day the Kiwis asked me to be their Toastmaster.  Of course, that was when I thought I’d be performing on stage, with an audience.   Doing it up in my cabin in front of a video camera was… ah… not quite the same.  Sic transit gloria.

 

Anyway, here is how the Hugos are going to work…  I have already pre-recorded all of my opening remarks, introductions of the guest presenters (we will have several), amusing (one hopes) anecdotes and bits of history, discussions of each category, and readings of the names of the finalists (in the cases where I am presenting myself, rather than throwing the ball to a guest presenter).  ConNZealand has all those videos.  The rest of it will be live streamed from my theatre in Santa Fe, the Jean Cocteau, where a member of worldcon’s tech team will be helping me Zoom.   I will have the envelopes with the names of the winners sealed therein.  I may actually have a Hugo to wave about.

So the drill will go like this: for each category, you will get a pre-recorded video of me as a lead-in.  Then I will either read the finalists, so throw it to another presenter who will do the same.  Most of their remarks are pre-recorded as well.  Then back to me, this time live at the JCC, where I will rip open the envelope and announce the winner.  Then we cut to the happy winner, somewhere in the world…  assuming they are in front of their computers and know how to Zoom and all.  (No, unlike the other major awards shows, we have no plans to show the fake smiles on the faces of the sad losers).  The happy winner will make an acceptance speech, long or short as may be, that is entirely up to them.  Then back to me… either live me at the JCC, or pre-recorded me for the next category.

And on and on, starting with the Lodestar and ending with Best Novel.

That’s the plan.   Nothing could possibly go wrong, he said fearlessly.

I do not envy the director and tech team who will be doing all the cutting.  They deserve a Hugo themselves.   Maybe I will nominate them next year, in Best Related Work.   Assuming everything works…

I do hope some of you log on and watch, come Hugo time.   For good or ill, it will be one for the ages.

(There will be no Hugo Losers Party.  Sorry).

Current Mood: anxious anxious

Rocket Time!

June 30, 2020 at 9:10 am
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Worldcon is coming up in a month’s time, down in Wellington, New Zealand…

Or at least it would be, if not for the pandemic.   Which New Zealand has handled splendidly, for what it’s worth.   If only America had done half so well..

In any case, there will still be a CoNZealand, but it is going to be a virtual worldcon.  (Which is a damned shame for all those who will miss the chance to visit New Zealand, truly one of the most beautiful countries in the world).   And as CoNZealand’s toastmaster, I am going to be there… virtually… taking part from my fortress of solitude in the mountains and my theatre (now shuttered) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The toastmaster wears many hats at worldcon, but probably the single biggest part of the gig is hosting the Hugo Awards ceremony.   I am going to be doing that with a combination of live streaming and pre-recorded videos, which we will (I hope I pray) edit seamlessly together.   This week I have started recording some of those videos.   It has been fun, if a little surreal, to be reading off the names of this year’s Hugo finalists when voting has not actually started yet.   And trying to be amusing (one hopes) while talking into a camera without the feedback of laughter (or moans, boos, or soul-chilling silence) from an actual audience is challenging as well.   But so it goes.

SFWA did a great job with the virtual Nebulas.   (Hats off to Mary Robinette Kowal and her team).   We want to make the virtual Hugos just as much fun.   An evening of joy and celebration in these dark days of plague, riot, and police brutality.   We all need a little laughter.   I know I do.

The Kiwis are doing all they can to make Virtual CoNZealand a success.   I applaud them for their efforts, and hope it all comes out splendidly.  That being said, I also hope we never have to do it again.   Over the last half-century, worldcon has become an enormously important part of my life, I have come to realize.  I see people online — younger writers, most often — describing worldcon as a “professional conference,” and yeah, maybe, a little bit, for them… but not for me.   There are professional aspects to conventions, sure, networking and promotion and all that, but for me worldcon has always been a celebration, a party, a holiday, Christmas and Thanksgiving and Halloween all rolled up in one.   Most of all it is a family reunion, a place where I get to laugh and drink and share meals with old friends, meet new friends, and catch up with so many of the people I love, people I do not get to see anywhere else.   So let’s work hard on that vaccine, all you docs out there; I will be at CoNZealand in spirit, but I want to be at DC in the flesh.

((And before anyone starts to panic, “oh my god he is making videos in place of writing,” OF COURSE I am still working on WINDS OF WINTER as well.   That really should go without saying, yet somehow I need to say it, or someone might make stupid assumptions.   I am also doing some editorial work on three new Wild Cards books, reading scripts and making notes on a couple of exciting Hollywood projects, texting with agents, editors, and friends about this and that, eating several meals a day, watching television, reading books, and from time to time using the toilet.   Just because I do not mention it in every Not A Blog does not mean it is not happening)).

 

 

 

Current Mood: busy busy

This, That, and T’Other Thing

April 14, 2020 at 3:41 pm
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No big news here, but it has been a week or so since my last blog post, so I thought I would say hi.   I am still up in the mountains, doing the social distancing rag, and writing WINDS OF WINTER.   I have good days and bad days, but I am making progress.

Most of the world remains closed, including my theatre and bookshop, the Jean Cocteau Cinema and Beastly Books.   I had originally announced that we would re-examine the situation come April 15.   That date is now upon us, and it is obvious that I was wildly optimistic in hoping we might even consider re-opening then.  No.  Won’t work.   We’re going to remain shut until JUNE 1.  Then, once again, we will revisit the question, once we see what state the world is in.

I am continuing to pay my staff during this closure, something I wish more small businesses would do.   Beastly Books is still selling signed books by mailorder.  Every order helps keep us afloat, so please take a look at our offerings: https://jeancocteaucinema.com/product-category/signed-books/

Along the same lines, though we cannot of course open our theatre to the public while coronavirus still rages, the JCC has gone virtual, and is screening new and old movies that way.  For details on our Virtual Feature of the Week, go to https://jeancocteaucinema.com/

Hollywood has largely closed down as well, at least as far as actual production is concerned.  (If this pandemic goes on long enough, I wonder if the pipeline will go dry, and we will start to run out of new films and television shows.  If so, sheltering in place is going to get an order of magnitude harder.  Television right now is doing a lot to keep us all sane — and no, not the news, which has the opposite effect).   But while nothing is being filmed right now, development is continuing apace, since writers can still write at home.  The only thing I am writing myself is THE WINDS OF WINTER, as I have said many times… but with my producer’s hat on, I am still involved in a number of exciting new shows for HBO, and a few film projects as well.  When and if any of these make it to the screen, well, that’s always the question… but I do know that Ryan Condal and his team are roaring ahead on the scripts for HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, and that one has a full season’s order from HBO.  As for the other stuff I may or may not be involved in, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you all.

Oh, of course, I am doing a lot of reading these days.  Rereading too.  Some of my favorite writers are Robert A. Heinlein, Roger Zelazny, Tony Hillerman, Nnedi Okorafor, Howard Waldrop.  Oh, and that GRRM guy did some good stuff too, before he started that fantasy series.   Some of his old stories might even make good movies, donchaknow.  (No, seriously, you guys should check out DREAMSONGS.  Signed copies available from Beastly Books).

I have also been trading emails with my friends down in New Zealand.   CoNZealand, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, has also gone virtual in response to the crisis.   A prudent move, but a challenging one.   As this year’s Virtual Toastmaster, I am still going to be hosting the Hugo Awards… virtually.  That should be… interesting.  Especially for me, since I am one of the least tech savvy guys in fandom.   I still write my novels with WordStar 4.0 on a DOS computer, after all, and when I interface with the internet it is mainly through this blog.  (Good thing Howard Waldrop isn’t going to be hosting.  He still works on a manual typewriter).

Anyway, the Kiwis have some smart guys working for them, and they assure me everything will go fine.   They are working out the tech now, and we hope to have several trial runs before The Big Night.   We are all certainly going to try to do our best.  I expect there will be glitches and mistakes, many of them doubtless mine, but I do hope all those looking in will be patient and understanding.  In any case, the rockets will be handed out one way or t’other, though the actual delivery may have to be entrusted to DHL or Federal Express.

Some cool stuff happening with WILD CARDS that I should mention.   Check out our Wild Cards website, if you haven’t seen it in a while.  Lots of great content there for you to explore, including a new blog post every two weeks by a rotating cast of our amazing Wild Cards writers.  You will find it at https://www.wildcardsworld.com/   

We also have a brand new Wild Cards original coming out at the end of this month from Harper Collins Voyager in the UK.   The title is THREE KINGS, and it’s a full mosaic,  was edited by Melinda M. Snodgrass (yours truly assisting), and features contributions from  Peter Newman, Peadar O’Guilin, Caroline Spector, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Melinda herself.  It’s a sequel to KNAVES OVER QUEENS, and like that volume it is set entirely in the British Isles and features an English and Irish cast.   (More on that one in a later post).

There’s more, of course.   There’s always more.   But this post has grown long enough, and Westeros is calling.

Current Mood: busy busy

Hugo Finalists Announced!!!

April 7, 2020 at 5:11 pm
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The final ballot for this year’s Hugo Awards was announced today, via Facebook and YouTube, by my friends at CoNZealand.

Congratulations to all the finalists… and condolences to all those who did not make the ballot.   Take some consolation in the knowledge that much fine work gets overlooked every year.

The Hugo Award is the oldest and most prestigious award in science fiction and fantasy… not only for writers, but also for artists, editors, and fans.  First given in 1953, it was the original award.  Many worthy honors have joined it in the half century since: the Nebulas, the Bram Stokers, the World Fantasy Awards, the Dragons, the Tiptrees, the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Prometheus, the British Fantasy Award, the Ditmars, the Auroras, the Saturns… even the Alfies.   (Yes, I have forgotten some, beyond a doubt).  All wonderful honors.   But the Hugo Awards remain the greatest accolade that our field has to offer.

One of the reasons is that it is an award chosen by the members of worldcon, the World Science Fiction Convention, the granddaddy of them all.   By fans, in other words.  By YOU, if you like.   You need not even attend the convention: supporting memberships, considerably cheaper, also allow you to cast a Hugo ballot.  So if you would like your voice to be heard, head over to the CoNZealand website and sign up.

Sad to say, no one will actually be attending this year’s worldcon in Wellington, thanks to coronavirus.   The concom, prudently, has decided to make this year’s convention entirely virtual.   A necessity in this time of pandemic, I think, but a sad necessity.

I am the Toastmaster for CoNZealand, the host at the awards ceremony,so originally I was going to get to be the guy handing out the rockets come Hugo night, a once-in-a-lifetime honor that I was looking forward to immensely.  I am still the Toastmaster, as it happens, but I guess that now I am going to be a Virtual Toastmaster.   I suppose I qualify.   I did once write two scripts for MAX HEADROOM, after all (though neither one was produced, which could be an omen).  Alternatively, I could just tie the rockets to the legs of ravens… really big ravens…

Current Mood: excited excited

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

Hugo Nominations Open

January 6, 2020 at 2:57 pm
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CoNZealand, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, has announced that nominations are now open for the 2020 Hugo Awards.   To nominate, you need to be a member of either this year’s worldcon, or last year’s Dublin convention.  You can nominate either electronically, or with a paper ballot (though very few chose the latter method these days).

Details can be found at https://conzealand.nz/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/2020-Hugo-Nominations-Ballot-Printable-US-Letter.pdf

Members can nominate for the Hugos themselves, the two “Not A Hugo” categories, and for the Retro-Hugos that honor outstanding works published during the years when no Hugos were awarded.

First given in 1953, the Hugo is not only the oldest SF and fantasy award, but by far the most prestigious.   The list of past winners reads like a Who’s Who of our genre (and, honestly, the list of past losers is equally amazing).   No, you don’t need to read everything that was published last year to nominate.  You don’t need to nominate in every category either.  Just nominate the works you read and loved, and you’ll be fine.   Other fans will take care of the rest.

Even if you only nominate a single work in a single category, I urge you to NOMINATE.  Let your voice be heard.  The Hugo is fandom’s award, worldcon’s award, one of the greatest honors our community can bestow.  Winning a Hugo is an amazing experience… but earning a nomination is almost as exciting.   Far fewer people take part in the nomination round than vote on the final ballot, so this is the stage of the process where you can have the greatest impact.   There have been instances in the recent past when a single nomination was the difference between making the cut and being left off the ballot.   Just last year, my own imaginary history FIRE & BLOOD came six votes short of being nominated in Best Related Work (though, as it happens, I was later informed that it would have been disqualified in any case, for having too much fictional contest).   Almost only counts in horseshoes and grenades, as we all know… you wouldn’t want your favorite story off the year to be left off the ballot because you forget to send in a ballot.   So NOMINATE.

Speaking of which… for the last decade or so, I have been making recommendations of my own favorites (in certain categories, at least) on my Not A Blog.  There’s so much good work being published each year it is easy to get overlooked, so I wanted to do what I could to draw attention to worthy books, movies, and individuals.   I will not be making any recommendations this year, however.   I am going to be the Toastmaster this summer at CoNZealand, the guy on stage emceeing the event and handing out all those nice shiny rocket ships.  It would not be appropriate for me to go on record as favoring certain nominees (and, by implication, dis-approving of others… though that would be a shaky assumption, since I don’t always get around to reading everything in every case).   It behooves the Toastmaster to be neutral, I believe.  Which is not to say that I won’t be cheering on some winners and being aghast at others… but not in public.

I expect that I will go back to recommending work next year, when worldcon moves to Washington and it is someone else’s turn in the barrel as Toastmaster.

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

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

What’s It All About, Alfie?

September 14, 2019 at 8:28 am
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It’s about achievement…

One of my great pleasures since reclaiming the Hugo Losers Party (originated in 1976 at Big Mac, by Gardner Dozois and I) has been presenting the Alfie Awards, named after the late great Alfred Bester, who won the first Best Novel Hugo in 1953 for his novel THE DEMOLISHED MAN.

With the worldcon across the pond this year, it seemed only appropriate to award the Alfies to two titans of British publishing, Jane Johnson of Harper Collins Voyager and Malcolm Edwards of Gollancz/ Orion.  My wife Parris helped me present the trophies at midnight (the traditional hour for presenting the Alfies) during this year’s Hugo Losers Party at Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.   (That’s her in the neck brace.   Yes, she recently had surgery, and thank you for your concern.   She’s recovering well). 

Like some of the original Hugo Awards, the Alfies are made from hood ornaments off 1950s automobiles… smoothed, polished, and restored to a fine silver sheen by Tyler Eugene Smith, who also provided the bases.

I’ve had the honor of working with both Jane and Malcolm.   Amazing editors, both of them, and stalwart champions for their writers and for our field.   It was long past time they got some recognition from the community that they have given so much to over the decades.

I received a number of awards and honors last month during my trip to England and Ireland (posted about the Burke Medal below and will be talking about the others in posts to come).  But giving is as big a thrill as receiving, and Parris and I loved being able to make this presentation to Malcolm and Jane.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

At the Irish Film Institute with Robby the Robot

September 12, 2019 at 10:59 am
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One of the highlights of my time in Dublin was my visit to Altair IV, courtesy of the kind folks at the Irish Film Institute.  The IFI has an impressive facility there in Temple Bar, and as part of the celebrations of worldcon, they invited me to present one of my favorite films, and speak about why I loved it.   I was delighted to do so.

No one who knows me or has read this blog for long will be even remotely surprised by the movie I chose: the MGM science fiction film, FORBIDDEN PLANET, from 1956, a classic whose influence on all the SF films and television shows that followed was profound.   Starring Leslie Nielsen, Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and Robby the Robot.

((I couldn’t bring Robby with me to Dublin, alas, but I did bring Commander J.J. Adams and Altaira)). 

Maura McHugh joined me afterwards for a discussion of the film, and some Q&A with the audience.  Listen in, if you’d like (sorry, it’s audio only).   And then go out and watch the movie again.   It’s still great… and I hope to hell that they NEVER remake it.   They’d only mess it up.

Current Mood: geeky geeky