Saturday, August 08, 2009

Challenger #30

We also heard from Jeff Boman, "one who will not be named", and Ms. Kathrine Jack, Staff Attorney of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, about the case behind my article "The Best Speech I Never Gave" in Challenger #21 -- and the article itself.

Recall that my client had delivered a premature baby at home, which passed away immediately, and then disposed of the body. She was accused of second-degree murder, a charge I got reduced to a misdemeanor.

Ms. Jack wrote to inform me of her group's existence (since I had trouble contacting NOW) and enclosed a copy of Jeanne Flavin's book Our Bodies, Our Crimes (New York University Press, 2009), which mentions my case (page 84). She paid me an enormous compliment: "We recognize that your zealous advocacy made the difference in getting the murder charge dropped.

"I congratulate you for seeking the truth in Ms.
-----'s medical records. So often, we see that women are blamed for bad birth outcomes when neither medicine nor science supports such conclusions."

How about that? Guy Lillian, feminist champion.

Joy V. Smith, Lakeland FL

Another magnificently full Challenger! And with a beautiful and fun cover. I usually enjoy theme zines and anthologies, but this one has a sports theme. I confess that the most sports I watch are during the Olympics, but I enjoyed it (Dear Editor, I knew I would!). I especially liked Mike Resnick's piece on the forgotten basketball player, Bevo; Rose-Marie's article on Quidditch (thank you!); the cricket background; the illos with the Footy piece; and the other background articles. I learned a lot, including about tennis, which I've never paid much attention to, and I'm sorry that Jerry Seegers never got to see a World Series. (A bird in the hand...)

Speaking of birds, I enjoyed The Story of Edgar Allen Crow. (I like critter tales.) Back to sports, one of the best values of cable is replaying old TV shows -- and classic baseball games. Who'd have thought it! And I see that Scotland is a really scenic site for playing golf. I loved Gary R. Robe's piece on hosting minor league players. Opportunities like that can be a lot of fun.

I enjoyed Richard Dengrove's article on Nicholas Cusa; that was very interesting. ('Course I've learned a lot over the years from Richard. Yes, from other zine writers too. There's a quote about that I read recently...) Thanks to Mike Resnick for the WorldCon report. I've never been to a WorldCon and probably never will go, but I love reading about them.

Excellent article by Warren Buff on fandom. Btw, there were two TV series episodes recently that took place at SF conventions. I missed the one on CSI, and I forget the other one, but I wish writers would get over the stereotypes and cliches!

More background and critter tales in The Chorus Lines. Thanks to Curt Phillips for sharing his story of Muffy and Smudge. (Been there, cried, and once said Damn in front of the vet when my last dog was put to sleep.)

Well, I was about to sign off, but I have to thank Nicki Lynch for telling us about her tour to Italy. (I will try to avoid going there in summer!) Oh, what an apropos back cover! And a good feeling of speed.

Thanks for The Zine Dump also. I'm happy to see so many good zines out there, and Janeen's News was full of interesting items I'd like to know more about. Btw, the first I heard about Star Trek fragrances was here and probably in
Challenger too. (I know there were at least two mentions.)

Robert Kennedy, Camarillo CA

Thank you for #29. An outstanding issue.

"The Story of Edgar Allen Crow" by Shelby Vick; "Bravo Bevo!" by Mike Resnick about Clarence "Bevo" Francis; and Steven H Silver's story concerning the Chicago Cubs and Jerry Seeger were all very much enjoyed.

Rose-Marie's explaining the why and wherefore of Quidditch was enlightening.

Then there is your excellent commentary about Jimmy Connors.

Mustn't leave out the first-rate report on their Italy trip by Nicki Lynch.

Joseph Major: Does the "crazy complainant" actually have a BA or is it an AA from a Junior College? With all her problems I find it hard to believe that she could complete college courses.

My thanks for the copy of your Denvention 3 Trip Report. It was very much enjoyed.

You drove 725 miles for 14 1/2 hours? The best I ever did when much younger was 550 miles. Well, you had Rosy's help. Still, that many miles was incredible.

Driving solo, I've popped 800 en route to Confrancisco, after doing over 700 the day before. It helped to be traveling unfamiliar and picturesque roads.

Yes, you are correct that the WorldCon was lost in the huge Colorado Convention Center.

Personally, I was planning to vote for Seattle. Well, they dropped out and Reno is ok and I'll try to make it. I'm not getting any younger and it is getting harder for me to travel. But, Reno isn't that far.

It's also beautiful country. Lake Tahoe is right there.

Referring to me as "LOCmaster" is a stretch. I receive and LOC five fanzines. That's not a lot and my LOCs are not always that good. But, my thanks.

The Fan-Eds' lunch (that included supporters) was most enjoyable.

I agree with you about Dave Langford and the Best Fan Writer Hugo. It was good to see someone else win.

Yes, and that's no slight to Dave, a princely fellow -- but his two-decade domination of the Fan Writer category was bad for the Hugo and bad for fandom. John Scalzi's victory -- and his call for us to "Spread the wealth" in the fan categories -- was utterly righteous.

My niece Sheilah Kennedy and her husband Brad Cozzens (who live in Idaho) attended their first ever SF convention at Denvention 3. I should also mention Margaret H. "Maggie" Bonham who is married to my second cousin Larry Bonham. Maggie has attended a number of SF conventions. But, I believe that Denvention 3 was her first WorldCon. We have never met Larry and this was our first meeting with Maggie. It was a great pleasure. (Larry was recovering from an operation and could not attend.) They live in Montana. Maggie is the author of some 30 books. Most of them about dogs, some about cats, and several fantasy novels. She was on a number of panels. Maggie can be checked out at, or do a Google search on her name, and also check

May you finally obtain a well deserved HUGO. Perhaps I should not mention it since at Denvention 3 I told you that you were going to win and you didn't.

Fortunes of war, but nice to hear, and thanks.

Joseph T Major, Louisville, Kentucky

"Merritt Green 1952-2008": My condolences to Rosy, Anni, and Joe on the loss of their brother, husband, and son.

A quality that sometimes gets us through challenge is not one that is greatly heralded, or made a Positive Influence. I've seen it referred to as sheer bloody-minded bulling through. Some might say it was Asperger's, if not outright autism.
One Saturday, Lisa and I were having lunch at a Denny's near the University of Louisville. We ordered, they had just brought our meal when ... a woman at a nearby table collapsed. The EMT were called, they came, moved tables around, treated her on the floor, and eventually shipped her out to the hospital. Lisa watched the obituaries for the next few days and there was nothing about her dying.

But, it seemed, she was dining with a granddaughter and infant great-grandchild. The granddaughter was really in a bad state; for example, grandmother was driving. All I could do was sit there, numb, and let her hold my hand. She was terrified.
They let her and the baby have a ride to the hospital in the ambulance, and presumably someone would come and get them. Then they thanked me. I'd been reassuring.

Breaking down wouldn't have done anyone any good, me least of all. There wasn't anything else I could have done.

However, we have never eaten at that restaurant since.

"Bravo Bevo!": And it seems
Bevo Francis has never been nominated to the National Collegiate Hall of Fame, either. This sounds like "Nobody Bothers Gus".

"Cricket for Novel Readers": And in P. G. Wodehouse's The Swoop!, his attempt to deconstruct the England Invaded novel, the news of the invasion of England was buried in the stop press items, amid the cricket results.

"I Call It Loyalty": You do realize that one of the other admirers of the Billy Goat Tavern was Mike Royko, who put in his columns many references to the Siannises and their establishment.
"Golf in the Con-Dom": It was Carson Napier who commented on golf, and he said, "Golf is a mental disorder." Lost on Venus (1932). I seem to be the only man in the family who doesn't like it. My brother plays with his son and son-in-law. The cousins who run the florists' greenhouses won a cancer-charity tournament, but then Mack is a cancer survivor. Cousin Dick down in Houston has been finding it easier to shoot his age of late.

"The Stars My Consternation": And Disch passed along from Samuel Delany a reference to a scene on a nonexistent page of Starship Troopers. The page might exist if Chip had been reading a Large Print Edition, but there is no scene such as he describes (Rico checking his makeup in a mirror).

What killed so much of the New Wave, as I understand Darrell Schweitzer to say, was not what was in it but what wasn't. So much of it was "non-functional word patterns"; things that looked nice but didn't say anything. This is the sort of thing that goes over very well in the Semotics of Deconstruction 325 class.

"Denvention 3 Diary": Alas, Larry Smith won't be in Montreal. Something about the difficulty of getting his stock through Douane Canada Customs. So the belly dancing will have to be somewhere else.

"The Chorus Lines": Me: Well, Curlin made the Breeders' Cup and Big Brown didn't. So much for my predictive abilities. On the other hand, in January we went to see Curlin, and he let us pat him.

An event charmingly described in that month's Alexiad.

John Purcell: Wondering "Which should I want most: a long life or a good pizza?" Since I don't like pizza, the question is a non-starter for me.

Curt Phillips: Shopping on-line is great if you know what you want already and the problem is how to get it. I don't think, for example, that I've ever seen Lord Mountevans' South with Scott in any bookstore anywhere. (Hint: he was the last surviving person to have seen Scott alive for the last time.) But if I want to look, there's no telling what I could find. The bookstore in Chambersburg that had The Log of "Bob" Bartlett for example . . ."Just Here for the Gelato": Now Nicki's gone and done it. The WWF will be doing "The Twilight of the Gods", complete with losing wrestlers being burned on a funeral pyre right in the middle of the ring. She HAD to suggest it!

Leonardo liked to experiment and innovate. This is why the "Last Supper" is in such bad shape; it was painted using a technique that he had devised and understandably has not been used again. InnovaTion is not always for the best.

Ned Brooks, Lilburn GA

Thanks for the massive zine. How did you come up with the notion that a sports-themed issue was needed? I have nothing against sports in particular, but I know almost nothing about them either - I am about as sports-challenged as I am fashion-challenged. I hope you are not planning a fashion issue.... The only sport I ever enjoyed at all was pool (but not in River City) and I wasn't much good at that. I never got anything out of watching sporting events.

Great story [from Shelby Vick] about Edgar Allan Crow. I never had a pet either, but at least I can understand the appeal. Nephew Joe, who was at several DSCs, now has a large hairy
Akita that he calls "Chicken", and my mother and sister have dog-sat several beasts for friends -- I have occasionally walked one of these.

Frank Buck lives!

I thought NASCAR was a religion rather than a sport....

Rose-Marie is right about the physical problems of actually riding on a broom. In many old illustrations, the witch rides "sidesaddle", that is, with both legs on the same side of the broom handle. But it still wouldn't be very comfortable if your entire weight actually rests on such a narrow support. However, as a broom flying is pure fantasy, perhaps the magical broom confers some degree of weightlessness on the rider -- that would make the acrobatics of Quidditch more plausible. I'm told that the oldest pictures of witches riding a broom have the brushy part in front, perhaps as an analog of a horse's head -- the change to having the brush behind might have been inspired by some aerodynamic understanding that it would serve as a stabilizing tail surface. Either way however, the magical propulsion properties of the broom must also aid the rider in staying with the thing. Cartoons and video simulations of broom-riding seem to imply that the propulsive force is normally along the direction of the handle.

Interesting article about cover art. I probably pay more attention to the dramatic implications of the title words than to the art, though there is bound to be a strong subconscious effect of the artwork -- and I have learned that neither is much of a guide to whether I would actually enjoy reading the book. The covers that
Mervyn Peake and Edward Gorey did for their own books are quite relevant, but of course in general the author is not an artist and may not have any say at all in what art goes on the book -- I can't imagine that Evangeline Walton was much taken with the dust-jacket of her 1936 The Virgin and the Swine, a novel based on the Fourth Branch of the Mabinogion.

Take a look opposite, readers; judge for yourselves.

Cathy Palmer-Lister

Hi, Guy! Thanks for Challenger! Cool cover, made me laugh.

First, please convey to Rosy my condolences on the passing of her brother. I suffered a huge shock when I lost a parent, I can't imagine losing a sibling. The poem you inscribed into the memory book is Requiem, by Robert Louis Stevenson, and it's one of my favourites. The final lines were indeed engraved on his tomb in Samoa.

Re "The Story of Edgar Allen Crow" --what a great name for a pet crow! And how wonderful that he lived to the ripe old age of 28. We don't have fish crows here, I had never heard of the species before, but lots of their cousins inhabit the area. I once saw an astonishing number of crows, at least a dozen, in a neighbour's maple tree and learned why a group of crows is called a murder. Glad I wasn't trying to sleep through the ruckus. I'm not superstitious, but it was sort of spooky.

Sports -- I was always a bookworm, and not much into physical exercise. When I wasn't reading, I was listening to music. Or eating, another reason I wasn't keen on sports. I had some interest in hockey, being Canadian after all! but gradually lost interest in watching it as the league expanded beyond the stage where I could recognize all the players, and then the fighting really turned me off completely. Our international woman's team is doing well, though. I wish I had seen the game against Finland, but I was doing some running around that afternoon. I got hooked on football (soccer, that is) years ago during the time of the NASL when the Manic played in Montreal. Then I got my husband hooked on the sport, and now he lives and breathes soccer to the point of watching every single EPL match, all the Champion's League matches, Euro Cup -- well, you get the picture. Just as Rich Lynch discovered the all-baseball TV channel, we discovered the all-soccer (and sometimes rugby) channel.

In "Cover Judgment", James Bacon describes Foyle's Bookstore. I was there in '05, having extended my Glasgow WC holiday to include a week in London. I'm so jealous of Londoners, they have all the best shops! Foyle's had some of the most delightful books for kids, too, and if I hadn't already retired from teaching, I would have been shipping crates of books home. But returning to book covers, I have bought books based on covers. One of them was Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. Great-looking guy on a black horse, black crow, white snow, huge wolf, burning fortress... I wanted the picture, but found the book was one of the best I had read in many years and became a devoted GRRM fan. Covers are important to me. Have you noticed how boring cover art is becoming these days? At a convention panel, I asked why this was, and was told publishers want to make covers less overtly SFF to attract a wider audience. Even the GRRM covers have become mundane, though still done by Stephen Youll, one of my favourite artists.

Fascinating article from Gregory Benford. I note that it dates back to 1998. I think some things have gotten worse since then, and it's not just the covers. I find that novels, whether SF or fantasy, tend more and more to fall into either utopian or dystopian world views, and I dislike both extremes. Neither magic swords nor very big spaceships can be counted on to save humanity, and why would I want to spend my time reading about cruelty and ugliness? I resent the amount of space bookstores "waste" on media tie-ins, too. I have read a few good ones, but had to go through a lot of drivel to find them, so I don't read them anymore.

Being very involved in running a con and publishing a clubzine, I am always interested in articles like Warren Buff's "Against the Graying of Fandom". In my experience, I have to agree with Warren that there are young fans, they are attending cons though the grey-headed lot aren't much interested in those cons, and they are indeed starting their own conventions. In fact, every time I get good people on my concom, they take off to start their own, and I'm back to pleading for volunteers. It's not so good for me, but it's good for fandom in Montreal. We are now several cons richer than we were a few years back. The kids are OK, they just have different priorities.

I dream of visiting Italy, especially Florence and Venice, but good gelato is available in Montreal if you know where to look. We have a huge Italian population. Just Google for Gelato in Montreal.

Jerry Kaufman, Seattle, WA

Thanks for the paper version of Challenger 29 -- it helped pass the time on our recent flight to Denver. We were at last using the tickets we'd bought last year for our (cancelled) trip to Worldcon. (This visit was purely vacation - visiting with my sister and bro-in-law, and sightseeing.)

Earlier this year, we decided to keep our out-of-town travel to a minimum, so we're not going to Montreal. That saved us a bundle, which immediately disappeared as our furnace died and was replaced in March. I hope you guys have a fine Fanzine Feast despite our absence. Once again you'll probably lack a significant portion of Corflu attendees - I think most of us who go to Corflu can't really afford too many trips to big cons, and we'll be hoarding our nickels in hopes of getting to the UK next spring for Rob Jackson's Corflu.

I'm afraid much of this issue of
Chall did not excite me, as I'm not a sports fan. I tried a paragraph here and there, but even the articles on baseball (the sport I know the most about) didn't grab me.

That's why there was other stuff in the issue! Nothing appeals to everybody, but with a variety of subjects in one's zine, you've got a better chance of catching your audience's fancy.

I'll guess that you ran Greg's review of The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of because of Tom Disch's recent death. Disch's conclusions, as reported by Greg, and his decline and death, add up to one very sad summary of a life. It seems as though Disch decided that his life had long passed its high point and not only was the future not worth staying around for, the past may have lost its value, too. Disch was far from being a comforting writer, and the message of his death is also discomforting. (This may be cheap analysis on my part, but I understand the feelings, having had them myself from time to time.)

I greatly enjoyed Nicki Lynch on her and Rich's trip to Italy - it's a destination that's long been on my own list of places to see. I was amused by Kurt Erichsen's drawings of them - Rich is much taller than Nicki in life, but Kurt has shown them of about equal height. This reminds me of the cover drawing Ross Chamberlain did for an issue of our
'70s fanzine The Spanish Inquisition. We conceived a scene in which I was torturing Mike Glicksohn by waving a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale under his nose while he was manacled to a dungeon wall. Ross had never met Mike (who is around my height, about five and a half feet tall), so drew what most people took for the six footer Bill Bowers, albeit wearing Mike's signature Aussie hat.

And that's the digression for this letter, which will now draw to an appreciative close.

P.S. If you're interested in reading Suzie's TAFF trip report, it's now available for $7 postpaid.

John Thiel, Lafayette IN

What a splendid cover on the December issue. The glistening robot on his surfboard with its jet propulsion, or even rocket propulsion, in a comic realism and in a style that reminds me of Leger, but is inimitably a work of creative and original SF art. It made the fanzine a pleasure to receive.

John Purcell, College Station TX

Holy Hannah, Guy! Another mailbox-rupturing issue! Not only large, but chock full of fine articles. A stellar effort, sir. Will you have another one out before Fencon VI in September? My wife and I are planning to be there; after all, Warren Buff is the Fan GoH, and there is that unsanctioned Hearts tournament lined up for that weekend during the con. The groundwork for this was laid out in the Southern Fandom listserv, and the last I knew contestants included you, me, Warren, and Dean Sweatman. There may have been a couple more, but I'm not sure. Should be fun no matter what.

Jiminy Christmas, I don't know where to start in LOCcing this issue. First off, my condolences to Rosie and you on the loss of Merritt Green. Too damn young, if you ask me. That picture of him on page 2 is a great one. Thank you for sharing this with us.

So we have here a sports issue of
Challenger. I didn't have the time to get something to you, but it appears you had no trouble finding material. Lessee: basketball, baseball, golf, cricket, Australian Rules football, tennis, Quidditch, NASCAR ("they're making another left turn!"), but no hockey. That would have been my contribution. Or soccer. I coached my son's soccer team for a couple years,and in the Spring 2008 season the team won its division in College Station. I have the team picture in my office at Blinn College, so when we report back next week (preparation for summer classes) I will make it a point to scan the photo and send it to you.

Steven Silver's article on the futility of the Chicago Cubs is probably my favorite selection from this entire massive issue, which has a ton of great material. I can certainly identify with Steven; I am a life-long Minnesota Twins fan, and have suffered through some really terrible years when the team just couldn't seem to do anything right. Unlike the Cubs, the Twins have won two of their three World Series appearances (1987 and 1991; in 1965 they lost to the Dodgers in seven games, which had Koufax and Drysdale at their peaks), so we're not championship-frustrated like Cubs fans. Even so, the Cubs have a really good team this year (again) and they're in a very difficult division: the NL Central, which boasts two other very good teams, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers. Good luck to the Cubs! I'm pulling for you, Steven.

James Bacon's article about the various covers to Philip K. Dick's award winning novel The Man in the High Castle (and other books, too) was very interesting. The cover scans were helpful in matching up to the text, and James' commentary proved insightful. I have never been one to really sit down and analyze cover art; about the only thing I care about is that the cover be directly related to a key scene or theme in the book, and it definitely appears that most of these covers do this job well. The cover scan on page 28 doesn't do much for me, though; it doth not compute. Some year I must reread The Man in the High Castle. Dick is one of those authors that bears re-reading from time to time, he was that good.

Interesting to read something by David Schlosser in
Challenger. I haven't seen David since the mid-80s when I lived in Los Angeles with my first wife (who shall forever remain nameless, so don't ask). A very nice fellow, and I never knew David golfed. If he's still in it, he is one of the longest-serving members of LASFAPA, which I joined for a couple years (~1979-80). Now you've got me wondering what else he's up to these days. I may have to contact him and say hello.

Another good article in here is Gary Robe's account of housing minor league ballplayers. That would have been interesting. I am such a baseball nut that I would have enjoyed it. Here in Bryan-College Station, Texas, we have one of college baseball's best teams, the Texas A&M Aggies, and their games are the best buy in town: $6 per person (beats out the football team's exorbitant $55 fee for the cheap seats), and Olsen Field has great sightlines and seats 6,000. Our next door neighbor is the head groundskeeper for TAMU athletic facilities, Leo Gertz. Heckuva nice guy. We talk sports all the time. Getting back to baseball, there is a semi-pro team in the area, too, the Brazos Bombers. This is basically a conglomeration of college and former-college/pro players who form one of the 6 teams in a semi-pro Texas league. Good prices there, too: $14 gets you into the game and buys you a couple hotdogs and a soft drink. Not bad.

I also really enjoyed your article about Jimmy Connors, Guy. Well done. I never really cared for Connors as a person -- he seemed so full of himself and angry all the time - but as a tennis player, he was one of the all-time greats and I respected his abilities. You told a great story about meeting him and acting all bubbly-headed at the time. Yes, this was a fun article.

Finally, Curt Phillips made me blush in his LOC. Thank you, Curt. Now let's see if you can get the third issue of Smoooooth out in less than 23 years. This new-fangled technology tends to speed things up a bit, I have noticed.

Great final article by Nicki Lynch. Man, I haven't seen her positively years! I really liked this trip report. She made me so jealous; Italy is one of those countries Valerie and I would like to visit some year, probably after I retire from teaching. So that makes it 10 to 15 years from now. Yeah. Italy should still be there, I hope

Fine issue, Guy. Good luck with the Hugo voting this year. For your information,
Challenger is my choice this year. Then again, my record as a fannish prognosticator is not the greatest, but I thought you might like to know how I feel about your zine. It is one of my favorites currently being pubbed. Bon chance, mon ami.

Martin Morse Wooster, Silver Spring MD

Many thanks for Challenger 29. I was very happy to read all the articles about the great game of baseball. Anyone who wants to read my thoughts about my team, the Baltimore Orioles, can log on to National Review Online -- put down that barf bag, Guy, this isn't political! -- and find a fine symposium where fans of every team said "Why I Love the (My Team)". Being the Orioles fan I got to go first!

I think I've been to even more dead stadiums than Rich Lynch has, and can tie in many of those trips to fandom. I went to Exhibition Stadium in Toronto and the Kingdome with Alan Rosenthal, who moved from Toronto to Seattle and changed his nationality in the process. (I also took him to RFK Stadium before the Nationals moved.) Like Rich, I saw Candlestick Park at the 1993 worldcon.

But my favorite dead stadium story concerns former Midwest fan Ed Zdrojewski, who asked me to be his best man at his first marriage in 1991. (It was a pagan wedding. The bride was a witch -- and the groom was too.) Ed said he needed a bachelor party, so we went to County Stadium and ended up in the fantasy broadcasting booth in the 4th inning of a Brewers-Angels game. We decided the game would be better with some special effects, so we threw in an earthquake, a tidal wave, and plenty of gratuitous cheese eating. The Brewers scored two or three runs, and the Angels had five or six, so we had 45 minutes to rant. Dave Parker was an Angel then, so in his honor when the Angels had batted a round, we sang a horrifically off-key falsetto version of "We Are Family" in honor of Parker's appearance for the
'79 Pirates. It was a great day.

Gary Robe's piece about Kingsport was really fun to read, and gave a lot of insight into minor league baseball. But Lastings Milledge's name is spelled that way (not "Millage"). I saw him play a doubleheader in Denver during the worldcon. He hit a couple of home runs and made some great plays in center field. Coors Field is a very nice stadium, by the way; they have a mountain landscape in center field, and whenever the Rockies hit a home run, the waterfall erupts. Plus there's a brewpub inside the stadium -- which makes some very good beer.

Mike Resnick's worldcon report was, as always, entertaining. I don't think the lack of hotels was a problem; I ended up staying at a Knights Inn a couple of miles away that was dilapidated (the shower didn't work, and the "continental breakfast" was stale pastry) but was only $48 a night. My guess is that the economy was partially responsible, but it's also true that Denver is an expensive flight from either coast -- particularly in high season.

We stayed at a Motel 6 a few miles from the convention center -- also for economy -- and had early problems parking, which was also expensive.

Mark Plummer, Croydon, Surrey, U.K.

Ironically, I read James Bacon's somewhat breathless perambulation through the science fiction section of Foyles [Book Store] and the associated paean of praise for The Man in the High Castle shortly after I got back from the British Eastercon (co-chaired by James) where a panel comparing old and new SF found that of the three older titles under consideration TMITHC was the least resilient to a twenty-first century reading.

I never used to be that enthusiastic or troubled by
book cover artwork or design, or at least that's what I would always have said -- but if I think about it for more than a moment I can see that of course cover artwork has been an important influence. Even now, I'm significantly more likely to buy an old fifties paperback with a Richard Powers cover than a comparable edition decorated by some other artist. My perception of science fiction as an adult literary form was absolutely shaped by the Chris Foss spaceships which seemed to dominate UK SF paperback covers in my formative years, long before I ever read any of those books and learned that the covers weren't necessarily even faintly associated with the texts. The Penguin branding was also an important influence on my reading in my late teens -- this would be in the early eighties -- with the simple, clean Ionicus covers for P G Wodehouse and the almost childlike bright colours of Christopher Corr that adorned George Orwell. I could never understand why Penguin abandoned those distinctive orange spines. It seemed such an odd decision given that it was such a strong brand. Penguin books were virtually a genre in themselves, something that I'm sure contributed to my long-standing sense that John Wyndham isn't really an SF writer because he's so obviously a Penguin writer.

The variety of covers on different editions of TMITHC are, as James speculates, "a revenue-making thing" in as much as that's the purpose of all book covers: to sell the book. Presumably if you or I or James want to buy a copy of TMITHC in a real-life bookshop, and so long as that bookshop files its stock in some sort of coherent fashion (which, I should add, once upon a time Foyles didn't, at least from a customer viewpoint), then it doesn't much matter what's on the cover when it comes to getting us to pick the book up. The cover art or design is there to encourage somebody to pick up the book who's never heard of it or possibly even of its author. There's a perception that different
cover designs potentially reach different target audiences, hence the "rounded edge" version of The Forever War that James mentions, which was, I believe, part of an attempt to market a number of solidly genre titles to a mainstream audience by stripping out the external genre trappings in favour of (hopefully striking) simple images and an unconventional profile -- although playing with the shape of the book is itself a quintessentially science-fictional piece of imagery. Gollancz have tried a number of initiatives over here in the last few years, most recently with a series of "Future Classics" which were notable for innovative design and putting neither author nor title on the front cover, and now a series of space operas in monochrome livery which eschew any trace of a space ship. I've no idea whether it works, but the battle seems to be to get the bookshops to file such editions somewhere other than in the "science fiction and fantasy" section and my personal experience is that it's been a lost fight -- setting aside one Croydon bookstore which may be undertaking an experiment of its own by filing Chris Priest's The Separation in its "History" section.

I had a look online at the plain white cover for the Penguin Essentials TMITHC James so decries, and sure, I don't think it's as evocative as the swastikas-and-stripes version of the
Penguin Classic you use to illustrate the article. It is in fact damn near invisible on Penguin's own webpage. But I can see how the minimalist design would stand out in a bookshop and Dick's name combined with a pull quote from Rolling Stone probably does have an appeal for a market segment that wouldn't have bought the Bladerunner-esque edition of the same book from the mid-Eighties or the similarly overtly science-fictional Chris Moore-adorned Roc paperback from the nineties that I have in front of me right now.

The same thing is presumably at play with the various editions of Dune that are currently available. For James, the classic
Schoenherr cover on the Gollancz SF Masterwork clearly works whereas the Hodder paperback by isitdesign doesn't, and if I didn't already have the book and wanted a copy I'd go for the former too. But the Schoenherr does look old-fashioned which isn't a problem for me -- quite the opposite, in fact -- and the more contemporary starry image used by Hodder may work for an audience less immersed in classic genre imagery.

I generally prefer Schoenherr's interior line art to his covers, but his Dune paintings are his best work, all-time. Great artist -- a shame he won but one Hugo, but at least he got that.

And in answer to James question, "I wonder how much input the author genuinely has into the cover," I'd refer him to Charles Stross's blog post at:

which was provoked by the US hardcover edition of
Saturn's Children. If you've seen that book you'll understand why Charlie felt moved to comment on the matter.

I was "moved" by that cover, too -- and by the book itself, which I call "Good Friday".

Henry L. Welch, Editor, The Knarley Knews

Thanks for the latest Challenger.

My condolences on Merritt's death.

I've long tired of the "core fandom" view of many fanzine fans that Warren Buff comments on. I've been trashed for not worshiping faanish history and my attempts to carve my own path. This has done much to alienate me.

And for more on this topic ...

Alexis Gilliland, Arlington VA

Thank you for the hard copy of Challenger #29, very elegantly turned out as usual. It should be counted a failing of mine that I have been unable to focus on e-fanzines, which is where a lot of the action is, and which may be in contention to be the wave of the future. In spite of your kind solicitation, I regret that I had nothing sports-related to submit, except for a brief account of my career as captain of the GWU chess team. We played in the DC Chess League, and while chess hardly qualifies as a sport, it might perhaps be of interest that after I got rid of the GW students, we took first once, tied for first once, and came in second three times. (You think that is a long time to be team captain? I was in grad school, going at night, but that would be an explanation not an excuse.) The sports connection would be the inverse relationship between the players being students and their excellence at any given sport, a relationship especially noticed in sports where the players can make a lot of money.

Alan White's cover is well executed and unexpectedly witty. Good for him. Regarding the print version of this issue, you mention that the print was a bit light on some copies. Not to the point of illegibility, of course, but Brad Foster's work does suffer a bit.

And considering the generosity fan artists like Brad -- and you -- show to fan-eds, that was unforgivable. My printer was herself very generous -- giving me more copies than I paid for! -- but I'm considering alternatives.

On the graying of fandom, it would appear that the new prospects coming up (or on-line in the case of the internet) tend to have new idea and new interests to the extent that many of the older fans are unable or unwilling to connect with them. Which means that "fandom" is here defined generationally, as to some extent it has always been. (First Fandom was originally defined as those who had been active prior to January 1, 1938, for example.) So it appears that some clubs and conventions tend to be unwelcoming to newcomers, in part because the newcomers are seen as heretics, and in part as a desire of the good, gray fans to cling to their hard-won social status. Where you find such clubs, there you will find fannish graying since the average age goes up year after year because they aren't recruiting new members.

And more ...

Milt Stevens. Simi Valley, CA

In Challenger #29, the opinions in Warren Buff's article on the graying of fandom sound awfully familiar. Someone has said all of this before. They may even have said it a number of times. Of course, it's hard to remember at my age. You know you're getting older when your dandruff suffers from malnutrition.

There is a difference between Fandom and fandom. I didn't always make this distinction, but I now believe it to be necessary. When I say Fandom I mean the science fiction and fantasy thing we've been associated with in the past. It's basically an intentional group for people who have some association with science fiction and fantasy. In the early days, Fandom was a universal state something like the Roman Empire. We still use the terminology of that long gone universal state. By now, Fandom is more like the Holy Roman Empire. We're really a loose confederation of feuding principalities. I suspect this was an inevitable evolution. There is probably a maximum size that any intentional group can reach before it starts breaking up into smaller groups.

When I say fandom I mean any intentional group. I can talk about comics fandom, mystery fandom, SCA fandom, gaming fandom, or anime fandom, and I believe I'm making sense. When I was in college my father joined the Horseless Carriage Club of Southern California. I started referring to it as old car fandom. After awhile, so did he. All intentional groups have some similarities. This even includes groups that are ostensibly political or religious. In the large anonymous cities of today, our only real communities are intentional groups.

There are thousands of fandoms. Some of them resemble us even though they aren't really us. There have been a whole bunch of Creation Cons in Southern California. They are devoted to things like Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Xena. I've thought about attending one of them, but I've never done it. At times, they've done things that might be interpreted as unfriendly. They have scheduled cons the week before one of our cons and in the same hotel. That's how we discovered that they have no impact on us at all.

Thinking about recruiting people into Fandom, I'm reminded of the movie Dogma. In that movie, a Catholic cardinal is trying to increase the attendance of his church. First, he gets rid of the statuary of the crucified Jesus, because that creeps people out. He replaces it with the OK Jesus who sort of looks like Bob's Big Boy with a beard. Then he made a special offer of forgiveness for all sins whatsoever for everyone who entered the church on a particular date. Even people who are not religious should realize there is something wrong here. We should be careful not to do something similar to what the cardinal was doing. We don't want to sacrifice our essential nature for the sake of expansion. That would be counterproductive.

Naturally, there are some things going on in the general culture that influence us. The Bowling Alone syndrome is one of them. Maybe because of the internet and maybe because of other reasons, people are not gathering together to socialize as much as they did in earlier decades. It seems unlikely that this will be a permanent situation. By nature, we are social beings.

It is generally assumed that the internet is attracting many of the teenagers who would have been attracted to fandom in times past. That seems to be true. Another thing that slows our recruitment of younger people is the fear of pedophilia. I think back to how things were years ago. In 1970, Craig Miller and I lived a couple of miles from each other on the west side of Los Angeles. We both were members of LASFS. I was in my late twenties, and Craig was in high school. At the time, I didn't think anything about having Craig drop by my apartment. If a similar situation were to happen today, the neighbors would start watching me if they didn't call the police. These days, you have to be a little more careful about being friends with teenagers. Even with older people, it isn't a good idea to be overly friendly. People will start suspecting your motives. When you think about it you realize one of the worst things about the evangelicals is their oozing friendliness. We don't really want to be like them.

And yet more ...

Dale Speirs, Calgary AL ,Canada

Challenger #29 is on hand, many thanks. Rose-Marie's article on the game Quidditch reminded me of another game-that-never-was, Mad magazine's famous "23-man Squamish" from back in the 1960s. The rules of that game were ridiculously complicated, with strange and undefined playing implements and player positions. One or two college teams were started up to play it, but for some reason it never became a professional sport.

Warren Buff mentioned the attempt by a Las Vegas fan to declare his tiny little segment of fanzine fandom to be Core Fandom. I have never agreed to this idea because both zinedom and fandom are reticulated networks, neither of which has a genuine centre. Zinedom is a network of nodes where each zine is a node and had a unique mailing list, usually overlapping with other zines but not exactly. SF fans, even back in the 1930s or 1950s, had different connections with other fans, again many in common but not exactly. Your zine is at a node with other SF zines both paper and electronic. My zine shares some of the same connections on the Papernet but not your connections on the Internet, just as you do not get the mail-art zines I do, and they do not trade for SF fanzines.

In like manner, there is no Core Fandom and never has been. The 1950s SF clubs in Britain or Canada may have known about the American clubs but did not consider them as the centre. Canadian fandom in particular, despite the efforts of the late Chester Cuthbert (1912-2009), never had a centre, but was only ever a network of cities with just the thinnest vertices connecting them. The term I use for fandom today is Atomized Fandom. Not only are fans disconnected in time and space, but even within the same city the Firefly crowd has nothing to say to the gray-haired Trekkies. If it isn't Sailor Moon or Ranma 1 / 2, the anime fans don't want to know about it. Things fall apart, and the centre did not hold.

My feeling on the question of fandom's generations ... Each of us is brought into the SF community by enjoyment of the aspect of the genre current when we discover sensawunda. So science fiction for me resonates of the comics, of Andre Norton, Forbidden Planet, Philip K. Dick, The Twilight Zone, Poul Anderson and Analog. Fandom for me naturally involved meeting people who shared my love of such stuff. Older fans recall the pulps and Captain Future and their ghetto days in fanzining and see trufandom as enjoying that. Fans getting into the genre now would treasure Harry Potter, gaming and the slew of video SF, the second incarnation of Battlestar Galactica and Stargate and so forth -- and fandom for them would mean celebrating those loves. Like seeks like; it's only natural.

As people delve more deeply into the community of fandom, they encounter its history and the stuff that brought earlier generations into the fold. If they want to get the most of fandom, they'll learn to appreciate those things as well -- much as music aficionados who love rock learn to understand jazz.

But it's fatuous to expect people to embrace the whole picture from Jump Street. Fatuous, unfair, and as I found when I joined fanzine fandom, ugly.

The divisions you speak of are normal, inevitable, and tolerable. I feel we must let people follow their loves, and I would hope fans of whatever generation would show humor and tolerance and enjoy one another's fannishness even if the source of that affection isn't the same as theirs. In other words, I can enjoy cute kids running around in homemade Stargate uniforms and can hope they'll learn to understand why I prefer fanzines to blogs Likewise, I can enjoy reading Warhoon ... and have the right to expect that my right to my fandom is respected.

Science fiction is the ultimate Big Tent. .No one has the singular and unique right to call himself a fan and others phonies. No one. As for "Core Fandom", it's just a name. Like I say, I think the movie was a complete waste of Hilary Swank.

Camille Cazedessus

An article on fandom that does not mention FIAWOL? A gross omission! I wuz a fan, am a fan, and will die a fan...been that way since the late 1950's.

Happy to remind your readers that, yes indeed, "Fandom is a way of life" and that Pulpdom, Son of ERB-dom, lives!

I've just pubbed Pulpdom #54 and am at work on #55. #53 contained a never before reprinted short story by Otis A. Kline, "The Fang of Amm Jemel" (Argosy,1935)

R. Laurraine Tutihasi, Oro Valley AZ

Thanks for mailing me the zine. I can understand why you can't afford to mail out too many copies. That's quite a book.

My condolences to you and Rosy on the loss of Merritt. Also to his widow -- must be rough.

I don't have a lot to say about the sports articles, since none of them covered my favourites -- figure skating and equestrian events such as dressage and show jumping.

Strange you should mentioned dressage as I'm renewing my acquaintanceship with Charles deKunffy, onetime GHLIII teacher and equestrian authority. (See my editorial.)

So you need a storage unit -- not enough room in your house for your vast fanzine collection? Our new house should be large enough for all our thousands of books. I'm thinking of thinning out the collection after we move (right now they're still mostly in boxes from our previous move), but we keep buying new ones.

Us too. Our storage unit holds all kinds of crap, but mostly, books -- and we got rid of 25 boxes when we left New Orleans!

Thanks for the heads up on Doc Rat -- looks good.

I much enjoyed Warren Buff's article, "Against the Graying of Fandom". He made a lot of good points. I have a number of younger fan friends, so I know there are a few younger fans entering all the time.

I'm probably just showing my ignorance, but I'm puzzled by his LoC. Do you mean to say that there are actually laws that make lynching legal? Sorry, I grew up in the northeast. I really would like to know. I didn't get very far searching on the Internet -- just more confused.

I greatly enjoyed the Lynchi trip report about
Italy. I was there in 1970 but mostly only saw Rome. My parents have seen more, but I haven't been back since. I think one of their trips involved driving themselves around, but I could be misremembering. I recall another fan saying that Italians drove like maniacs and didn't bothering observing any traffic laws, but that
was quite a while ago. I do recall that being a pedestrian in Rome was pretty tricky. Someone made the remark that the safest way to cross a street in Rome was to find a group of nuns. I couldn't tell exactly when the Lynchi made the trip, but I assume it was in the last year or two. I winced every time they talked about food. Since discovering that I'm gluten-intolerant, it's become nearly impossible for me to have any Italian food unless I make it myself. There's actually a pizzeria in Phoenix that makes gluten-free pizza. It's good, but of course it's not the same. There aren't any in
Tucson that I know of, but I plan to attend a gluten-free faire next weekend.

When my mother and I were in Rome, nearly everyone was on strike -- taxi drivers, hotel workers, etc. We found a driver to take us around; they're a cross between tour guides and taxi drivers. We went to
Villa D'Este, which is outside of Rome. It's a beautiful place with lots and lots of fountains. We were supposed to go to Pompeii, but that didn't come off. There are certainly many reasons to go back to Italy one of these years.

I remember being at the
Vatican but don't really remember much about the museum except that we were there. I recall not being able to take photos in the Sistine Chapel. I bought a bunch of slides of the place; it was quite cheap to do.

Susan Jones, Shrewsbury, U.K.

Fine cover for Challenger 29: that's one very happy robot!

I've been reading
Challenger 29 -- not got right through it yet, and I've sort-of-skimmed a lot of the sports stuff (sorry), but I enjoyed learning about Nicholas of Cusa, and I found James Bacon's musings on High Castle covers the most interesting article of the issue. (Mine's that derivative, 1987 Bladerunneresque one, but I can live with that.) Rather than a cover that shouts about the political situation in the books or shows any of the more visually dramatic moments, I would have like to see some of the Edfrank jewelry arranged on a table, with hints of the situation shown in the items it is displayed with.

Susan recently announced that she's suffering from thyroid problems -- as do I, as do many. We wish her good health, and a quick return of Tortoise.

David Schlosser, Eureka CA

It was lovely seeing my words in print but I do need to make a correction, whether the mistake was mine or thine. The other golfer that I know of around fandom is not Howard Ackerman, but rather Howard Marshall Rosenblatt. Knowing his wife longer than I've known him is no excuse for shanking that shot.

I share your embarrassment; as editor I should've caught the goof. Howard, by the way, is a real lawyer and an invaluable source of financial advice.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Challenger #29 - Sports Issue