The Editor’s Rant: Issue #25

by Michael D. Pederson

 

Sometimes I feel that I (and the rest of fandom) spend too much time looking back and not enough time looking forward. It’s easy to forget that science fiction should have us looking forward; instead we get lured into the warm embrace of the past. We speak longingly of conventions and fanzines past and sometimes forget that we’re carrying the torch forward for the next generation.

I’m often critical of fandom doing this but I know that I’m equally as guilty—we hate first in others that which we hate most in ourselves. Twelve years ago, I was in the foreground trying to persuade MarsCon to expand beyond its small, cozy relaxacon status and grow so that it didn’t shrink and go under the way many other conventions had in the late nineties and early oughts. Now that it’s grown, I find myself nostalgically missing the comfortable camaraderie of the early days. My own RavenCon has tripled in size in the last ten years and I find myself missing the days when I knew almost every attendee by name.

It’s comforting to look back, but as a community let’s all vow to save the fond recollections and minor regrets for the days when we’re no longer active participants and have passed the torch to another generation. We are currently experiencing an enormous growth spurt in fandom and, true, it might not be the fandom that we grew up with but darn it, let’s embrace it and make it the best new fandom that we can. Superhero movies, cosplay, anime, and video games have brought a whole new type of geek into fandom. I choose to believe that this is a good thing. It’s hard not to believe it when you see the energy and creativity that is bursting from this new generation.

And it swings both ways. I’m excited to see numerical gender equality and racial diversity at conventions now but in no way should we be ashamed of the “old white guys” that started fandom. I’m happy that so many of them are still active. Hell, I’m quickly becoming one of them myself. We’re fandom—we shouldn’t be breaking into competing camps of old versus young. We may look competitive in the online news feeds, but in the real world, I’m happy to say, that fandom is still a very welcoming entity. I can’t wait to see what we look like in another ten years!

 

Fancestral Recall: The Fan Gallery

Bruce Pelz

The original curator of the Fan Gallery, Bruce Pelz. Photo courtesy of the Fan Gallery.

by Chaz Boston Baden & Warren Buff

 

Warren Buff recently sat down with Chaz Boston Baden to discuss the history of the Fan Gallery. The Gallery currently has around 450 fan portraits in it and continues to grow. Most of the photos date from 1997 on, with a few archival photos that have made their way into the collection. The Gallery is frequently exhibited at Worldcons (when held in the United States) and NASFiC.

Chaz Boston Baden: I’m Chaz Baden, I’m one of the custodians of the Fan Gallery which was originated under the care of Bruce Pelz; he turned it over to me before he passed away. The way Bruce Pelz explained [the origin of the Gallery] is that for many years a bunch of fans had been talking about the Christine Velada Pro Photo Gallery which, at the time, was a bunch of black-and-white portraits of professional science fiction writers which had been exhibited at Worldcon for quite a few years. From time to time at various bull sessions at Worldcons and SMOFcons and so forth some of the prominent fans would talk about how there should be a Fan Gallery and people would agree. Bruce Pelz was one of them, Geri Sullivan was another.

It stayed as “this is a good idea somebody should do someday” for quite some time until Geri Sullivan was invited to be the Loscon XXIV Fan Guest of Honor [in 1997]—Bruce Pelz was her GoH liaison from the L.A. side—and Bruce asked, “What can we do to make your experience in L.A. the best we can?” Geri said, and I quote, “I like surprises,” which for me ranks right up there with “Here, watch this… hold my beer…” as famous last words. But that’s what she said, “I like surprises.”

So Bruce Pelz got ahold of Mark Olson in Boston and David Dyer-Bennet in Minneapolis and Stan Burns, the usual photographer at many LA cons, to round up a bunch of pictures of big-name fans and whoever turns up at club meetings—which, there’s a lot of overlap—and said, “David, make sure you get a shot of Geri Sullivan,” because she was in Minneapolis at the time. So these three photographers and a couple other sources collected a bunch of photos and we presented this at Loscon when Geri was Guest of Honor and she came and there was a surprise because the Fan Gallery had become a dream given form. Since then it’s settled down into a general aspirational goal of [recognizing] fans that should be known outside of their region for their contributions to fandom.

We have a couple of categories we call the “Core Collection”. We want to include the Worldcon and NASFiC chairs, the Worldcon and NASFiC Fan Guests of Honor, fannish Hugo winners, and Fan Fund winners. Related to that, we may want to look at fan nominees and other prominent things but what we’re looking for is a contribution to fandom that is consistent, sustained, and long-term and preferably wide in scope. The point to the Core Collection is [fandom has] already selected [individuals] by giving them the Fan Fund, by giving them the chairmanship—a number of people already said, “Yes, these are some of our prominent fans.”

What remains is figuring out who else to put in. So over time we want to get more of the Pegasus winners for filk music, we want to get more of the Fan Hugo nominees, we want to figure out who are the people who have not just been keeping a seat warm for twenty years but have been making things happen, have been contributing to fandom, writing letters, fan artists, all of the people that help make fandom what it is in ways that you probably want to hear about.

Now, our selection [process] for [choosing] photos is we try to make this a collection of color photos in contrast with the black and white exhibit that Christine Velada did of all the professionals. It tends towards the candids as opposed to hers [which] are more [like] portrait studio [photographs]. But the key is that we want these to be photos you can recognize people by, sort of a rogue’s gallery. In the case of our more inactive fans, the dead ones mostly, we’re looking for photos that you would recognize them if they rose from the dead and talked to you or [capture] how we want to remember them. What they looked like in their prime or how we last saw them, are both fair candidates for the passed-on members.

Lee Hoffman

Lee Hoffman. Photo by George Young. Courtesy of the Fan Gallery.

An example would be Lee Hoffman, who was a great fanzine fan and she was active right up till the end. She was participating in Science-Fiction-Five-Yearly for example. But for her photo we have an old black-and-white photo [from] when she was a young woman in fandom, shaking things up and writing fanzines.

That’s basically the exhibit, there’s over three hundred photos in the collection. We don’t always show all of them; there’s not always room. Some of the fans that we thought were going places but haven’t really done anything in the last twenty years, maybe we’re not going to show them as much, but people who made significant contributions… [people like] Bob Shaw and Bob Tucker are going to be in this exhibit as long as we have it. Lee Hoffman, she’s here to stay.

Warren Buff: I see you’ve got signs up this weekend [at Detcon1], encouraging folks to have their picture taken to be added.

CBB: Well, that’s [Detcon Chair] Tammy [Coxen]’s project. That’s part of what NASFiC is doing.

What we have right here is a work-in-progress situation because a bunch of the framed photos have gone missing, so I’m slowly trying to replace them and right now half the exhibit is printouts. They’ll get replaced as I buy more frames and frame them and deal with all that work in maintaining it.

What Tammy and Detcon1 are trying to do is to encourage people to consider themselves as part of the face of fandom and to get photos and to get snapshots. So we’ve set aside ten panels, ten of these two-foot-wide grid walls for the ad hoc photos that we’re hoping to collect over the weekend. But that’s a separate project from what we’re doing with the permanent Fan Gallery collection. Now maybe we’ll get photos and learn that person’s been making things happen in Detroit or the Upper Peninsula. Maybe there’s fandom in the UP, I don’t know, could be. Who are t­he people who’ve been quietly making things happen in Wisconsin? I don’t know. I’d like to find out. I’m trying to take pictures of everybody I meet and have a conversation with because I may need that photo when I learn more about what they do; right now they’re just someone I’ve met.

On a related note, I have my own personal website called Hazel’s Picture Gallery, and you can go to www.shotbyabear.com and get to that, you can go to www.scifiinc.net to find the Fan Gallery. These are two completely different photo projects but I will sometimes draw from my personal collection, to make sure I have a shot.

 

You can listen to the entire interview on Fancyclopedia. You can download the unedited transcript at: http://www.nthzine.com/FR.FanGallery.pdf. You can also visit the Fan Gallery online.

 

Faces of Fandom: Dave O’Hare

Dave & Sal

Garden State Comic Fest co-founders Dave O’Hare (left) and Sal Zurzolo (right). Photo by The Daily Record.

by KT Pinto

 

I spoke with co-founder Dave O’Hare about the Garden State Comic Fest, a comic book fan event that took place at the Morristown Hyatt in New Jersey on Saturday, August 23rd, to find out a little more about one of the newest events on the comic fan scene.

KT Pinto: Can you give me a little history on the festival?

Dave O’Hare: Being a fan of comics and comic art, I founded this show and partnered up with Sal Zurzolo to put together a show for all. This show has been developed as a way for fans, like-minded individuals, and people that are just getting into the culture to come together and have a great time to celebrate their comic book heroes.

We try to put together a show that has something for everyone—from the serious collector to the casual fan.

KT: What spurred the festival committee to have a comic event so close (in location as well as time of year) to New York Comic Con?

Dave: NYCC is one of the biggest shows on the planet and my personal favorite show to go to. But New York is New York; I was born in Manhattan. But New Jersey is a great state unto itself; it has its own culture and such great people and fans. Other shows have been organized in New Jersey over the years (Asbury, NJCC) but none had ever been held in the northeast part of the state of this caliber. So we said why not? And we couldn’t find a reason, so here we are.

As for the time of year, well the convention schedule has been getting very busy over the years and we figured a month and a half before NYCC would be fine this year. It would give people a chance to have some fun as summer ends.

KT: I noticed that this is a festival rather than a convention. What differentiates the two?

Dave: Well, I look at a convention as an entity that has 5000+ attendees and goes on for days. A show is a couple hundred that is there for one thing (comics, toys, art) but a festival is something that combines it all like a convention on a smaller scale and [is] a lot less stressful. We want people to have a good time and be able to enjoy every aspect of the event without tripping over others, buying merchandise without having to be crammed and actually be able to talk to their favorite artists, creators, and guests to learn more from them. To get great pictures and really just celebrate the world of comics, stress free!

ComicFestKT: Has the festival grown in attendance?

Dave: Our first show was in January of 2014 during a snow storm and a week before the Super Bowl. It was put together in a little over two months and drew over 500 people. GSCF II, our official attendance was just over 1000. All in one year. We hope to have this continue as the word spreads.

KT: Where do you see the festival in five years? Ten?

Dave: We will never be NYCC size nor do we want to be. We want to establish ourselves as one of the best events around where everyone wants to attend, especially creators and guests. We never want to become an autograph show as many are now doing. We want to keep it real and just go for the ride for however long we can. We will continue to grow but will never lose the idea of what this is truly about: comics, people, and fun!

 

Dear Cthulhu: Issue #25

DearCthulhuLogo

 

Dear Cthulhu,

I wrote to you recently regarding the troubles my wife and I were having getting pregnant and our difficulty adopting kids due to our lack of funds. When last I wrote, I was in jail on prostitution and trumped-up baby trafficking charges because I asked prostitutes to let us adopt their children should they ever become pregnant.

I admit I didn’t take your advice to plead guilty to the solicitation charge to get a slap on the wrist and go home. I come from a religious family where such a thing would be very shameful, even if it wasn’t true.

Luckily, all the charges were dropped thanks to a good judge. Turns out the cops who did the sting had recorded the whole thing. They hadn’t introduced the video as evidence, relying on the undercover officer’s testimony. My public defender was too stupid to ask to see the recording.

As luck would have it, I was arraigned right after another gentleman was caught in the same sting. They used a video showing that he had requested not only the services of three prostitutes, but a goat, a vacuum cleaner, and an inflatable teddy bear.

The judge asked if my arrest was from the same sting operation and then asked my lawyer if he had seen the video. He admitted he hadn’t, so the recording was played. It clearly showed that I was telling the truth and although I did pay the prostitutes, it was only so I could speak to them about adoptions. Luckily, paying people to talk to you isn’t illegal and all the charges were dropped. Unfortunately, one of the reporters in the courtroom wrote a feature about me in the paper that my wife read. I hadn’t told her about the arrest or who I was speaking to about adoption. At first she didn’t believe me when I told her I hadn’t been with any of those women. After I finally convinced her with a transcript of the court hearings, I dove in head first and mentioned your advice about me having an affair in order to impregnate another woman. My wife slapped me across the face, then moved back home with her mother.

My wife is the love of my life and her leaving hit me hard. And her slap did too. I started drinking heavily. One night while I was extremely drunk, I started trolling the Internet for a way to adopt a baby that wouldn’t cost as much as a small house, which was far more money than we had.

Then an online miracle happened. I found an adoption site that was totally and absolutely free. Admittedly, there was a lot of alcohol in my system and the screen was not only blurry, but there appeared to be two of them, but I wasn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth. I filled out the form and was instantly approved for the adoption. They even emailed me a certificate.

Even though it was two in the morning, I drunk dialed my wife and told her the news. She was so excited and happy, that she came right home and we made mad passionate love.

The next morning I overslept for work and had to leave without taking a shower or eating breakfast, but I made it to work on time. I didn’t have a chance to check my email for the adoption papers until lunchtime. It was then I realized my mistake.

I hadn’t signed up to adopt a child. I hadn’t signed up to adopt a dog or cat either. Instead, I managed to adopt a one-mile section of highway near our house.

I called my wife to try and explain my mistake, but before I could say anything she started telling me about how she had told her entire family, friends, and everybody in town that we’re going to be parents.

If I tell her the truth, I know I’m going to lose her and be a laughingstock. But if I don’t tell her, she’ll figure it out when no baby arrives. Should I kidnap a child? I could drive several hours away.

I know you mentioned that you managed to get a woman to let you adopt her baby. Do you think you can help a guy out and hook me up? Please? Or even let me adopt that baby from you. I’d be eternally grateful.

—Even More Paternally Perturbed Man In Manitoba

 

Dear Perturbed,

Letting you adopt him is no longer an option. Sadly, my adopted son—who incidentally I named Delicious—is no longer with us, although he lingered with me for days. It was a painful loss, mainly because Delicious gave me such heartburn. And Cthulhu has not gotten any letters recently from people trying to get rid of their unwanted or tasty children. Although that in and of itself is an oddity. As I mentioned to you in my response to your previous letter, human parenting is a thankless and heartbreaking task. Every few months I get a letter from a parent wanting to get rid of their children in some way, shape, or form. Amazingly, few are actually willing to go through with it in the end, some out of misguided love and others from a fear that the authorities might prosecute them.

I do not recommend kidnapping a child. Fifty years ago it may have worked, but today in the information age, any missing child will have an Amber alert issued and anyone with a new baby will eventually meet someone who starts asking questions and is intelligent and nosy enough to call a tip line. After a quick round of genetic testing, there will be no doubt as to your crime.

I do not believe you will be able to procure a baby in time to placate your wife and adopting a pet will not be the same, especially for a human female who feels motherhood is passing her by.

Cthulhu reiterates that your best bet for a child is to impregnate another woman, then sue for joint custody.

Barring that, go out and purchase one of those It’s a Boy signs with a stork on it and put it out on your stretch of highway and bring your wife by and explain what happened. Perhaps she will have a sense of humor about it. Or, more likely, file for divorce. Of course, that will leave you unencumbered to go out and try to impregnate other women. And if you are successful in gaining custody, you can use the child as a lure to re-kindle your romance with your wife. Or perhaps you will find you enjoy the new and fertile female more than your barren and unsupportive one.

Have A Dark Day

 

 

Dear Cthulhu welcomes letters and questions at DearCthulhu@dearcthulhu.com. All letters become the property of Dear Cthulhu and may be used in future columns. Dear Cthulhu is a work of fiction and satire and is © and ™ Patrick Thomas. All rights reserved. Anyone foolish enough to follow the advice does so at their own peril. For more Dear Cthulhu get the collections Cthulhu Knows Best; Dear Cthulhu: Have A Dark Day; and Dear Cthulhu: Good Advice For Bad People from Dark Quest Books.

 

The Editor’s Rant: Issue #24

by Michael D. Pederson

 

Recent events have turned me introspective. What function do I serve in fandom? Have I been successful?

After years of being told that I should make it to a CorFlu (the annual convention for science fiction fanzines), I was finally able to attend one. Not only was it in my home town, but it was in the same hotel that I host RavenCon at every year! How could I not attend?

The first night of the convention Warren Buff suggested that I join him and Curt Phillips as a panelist on the “Southern Fandom Classic” panel. Even though we were in Virginia, there were very few southern fans in attendance. I was happy to oblige and it turned out to be a fun and informative panel—we covered the history of southern fandom, it’s current state, and speculated about its future.

I spoke (rather eloquently, if I do say so myself) about how RavenCon has (simply because of it’s geographical location) served as a bridge between northern and southern fandoms—drawing fans equally from both the northeast and the southeast, something that would have been almost unheard of as recently as fifteen years ago. Later in the panel I mentioned that I feel obligated to act as a similar type of bridge between the generations of fandom.

We’re currently in the middle of the biggest growth spurt that fandom has ever experienced and most of that growth is coming from teens and young adults. Some old-school fans have lamented that as nice as it is to see this kind of growth, they’re afraid that it’s no longer “their fandom”. When we first started RavenCon, one of our main goals was to attract a younger crowd while still running a traditional SF convention. Our attendance passed 1100 this year so I think we’ve been successful at that.

The RavenCon staff puts on a convention that draws younger and younger crowds every year and hasn’t lost any of the appeal to the 40-and-up crowd. I’m proud to say that we’re one of the few conventions that Filthy Pierre attends every year; Filthy’s Con Calendar at the back of each issue of Asimov’s is what first drew fandom to my attention over thirty years ago.

Have I been as successful with Nth Degree? The jury’s still out on that but I expect that we’ll never be more than a footnote in the history of fanzines and SF literature. I just hope that people enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy putting it together. So, here it is…

 

Fancestral Recall: ConFederation

ConFederationby Ron Zukowski & Warren Buff

 

Warren Buff recently sat down with Ron Zukowski to discuss ConFederation, the 1986 Worldcon. ConFederation is a major landmark in the history of Southern Fandom, it also paved the way for another little convention in Atlanta called DragonCon. Ron (with Penny Frierson) was the Con Chair. Here’s how Ron remembers it…

I didn’t get into fandom until 1975 at RiverCon—but one of the things that happened as I looked around at what the Francises [Steve and Sue] had done in Louisville I said, “You know we’ve got hotels that big or bigger in Atlanta.” And they went to 1979 and had a real big NASFiC in Louisville, Kentucky, which I said, “We can at least do that and we actually can do a Worldcon.” In the meantime, other people had been moving on this. Notable examples: Database maven Joe Sokol lived in Atlanta for a long time, he was one of the people on that. The author, David Weber has a brother named Mike. He’d been around a lot of fandom, he was in on that. His then wife Sue Phillips, who still does the literary thing, she was in on that. And a guy who runs a comic book shop in Atlanta was a leading light there, Cliff Biggers and his wife Susan, she was very active then and they all were part of the Atlanta Science Fiction Club—ASFiC.

I was all in favor of this but I was nobody in particular. But then something happened. I got hired by a guy who ran two organizations, the Georgia Optometric Association and the Southern Regional Council of Optometry. He was part of that, and they had a big convention, twenty-five hundred optometrists and another thousand service personnel, and that would alternate between Atlanta and New Orleans, just like science fiction conventions did, because those are the two biggest cities. So I just learned what was necessary. I didn’t know I was preparing for anything big. And everybody who was in ASFiC also had a lot of friends in the other two cities in the ABC thing [Atlanta-Birmingham-Chattanooga]. Birmingham had a much more vibrant fandom then. Now most Alabama fandom that I’m aware of is in Huntsville but then Birmingham had just as big a contingent and Chattanooga had a big contingent already.

And since neither of those places were quite big enough and had quite the airline connections, [fans said,] “Ok, we’ll hold our nose, Atlanta can do it and we’ll help.” And boy did they ever help. I got a co-chairwoman out of that. The wife of then-prominent attorney Meade Frierson, Penny Miller [Frierson] was my co-chair. And basically we split that thing up; Penny was the meet-and-greet and quietly “You are going to do this, aren’t you?” lady of the thing, and I was the guy who wandered around with the lists and tried to organize things. So when I walked into the hotel, at least the Hilton, they knew who I was. I was the guy who was with the eye doctors. And as far as the city of Atlanta, it really was amazing to me how well it “just came together” even though we had some fractures and frictions. It did seem now after all these years to be an “it just happened” kind of thing but it wasn’t, there were a lot of people that were analyzing this and working at it, trying to make it work. The biggest situation that I think we actually faced is that the fans, had a tendency to be centered in the publishing area which tended to be the Boston, New York, Washington corridor and of the groups we were bidding against, both of them were in that corridor. New York had a bid using the Marriott Marquis and I don’t remember which hotel Philly was using. That was our opposition and [the] real serious situation was that we had two strong fan groups in those cities.

Atlanta had two virtues. First off, it was brand new. Second off, people were already starting to have to change planes in Atlanta. And I said, “You know, I could just fly there and I could stop,” and we had a number of good contacts that were willing to talk us up among people. We seemed to get out ahead mostly because: a) it hadn’t been there, and b) people had finally gotten over the idea of thinking of the entire south as though it were Dogpatch from Lil’ Abner. And then into this—although he never attended the convention, I’m not sure he ever realized it was there—John Portman, the architectural and developmental overlord of Atlanta, he decides that having designed two big hotels wasn’t enough, he wanted to design a third one, and it was also going to be run by the Marriott and it was called the Marquis and they were going to be opening in 1986. So when we walked in there to talk to those fellows we not only had the hotel across the street, the Hilton—which was in competition with them—already interested… they had nobody booked because they didn’t even have a building. So we’re sitting there and talking about 4,500–5,000 people, actually it may have been more than that, we may have gotten close to 6,000. [Attendance was 5,811.]

Here’s the other thing about it… Since we had that [projected attendance] those hotels were not worried about weirdness, or whether a brand new ad hoc 501(c)(3) organization could do anything. The Marriott was desperate enough (and the Hilton didn’t want to give any ground to the Marriott) that the idea of working this thing out if it was really that big [was favorable to them] so they were very helpful. We were going be voted on in L.A. in 1984 and L.A.’s 1984 Worldcon was held on a Hilton property. That was very useful.

My biggest thing was I didn’t have that many enemies in fandom, nobody had heard of me. I actually knew what a hotel was and how to talk to it. Some fans may be wonderfully accomplished in whatever they do in their mundane life but when they get involved in fandom they want to forget that and be something else. So you have to kind of keep one foot in both worlds. Mike was real good at that and several of our other people were real good at that. Meade was an actual attorney of note in Birmingham, Alabama. He also had kind of Old South mannerisms and some connections with that world.

And then came the matter of the guests, which you are not supposed to talk about before you are selected at all. I think the Philadelphia people may have gotten the idea first. They looked around and they said, “Ray Bradbury has never been,” and a little bit of skulduggery and digging and asking people questions we found out that he was going to be invited by two previous conventions, but they lost [their] bids. So we did something, we not only talked about guests [with our competitors] we actually made an agreement. I don’t know that that would’ve been considered the right thing to do, but we all said, “If we win it’s going to be Ray Bradbury.” New York… Philadelphia… [we all said,] “If we win it’s going to be Ray Bradbury.” So all three of us could walk in as a group and talk to Bradbury’s people and say, “It doesn’t matter who’s won, Ray is going to get it—will Ray come?” And the only problem was that Ray Bradbury had a real problem with flying. Here’s a guy talking about us going to Mars and I found out after he died that he didn’t even drive a car, and he lived in Los Angeles… most of his life. I don’t know how he managed that trick. But we got him there.

I think the biggest thing as far as the regional and southern fandom [that] was really amazing is that all the city envy, kind of got settled early on. Birmingham and Chattanooga threw in pretty much with us. Nashville under Ken Moore’s leadership. Dan Caldwell did our art show, he was from Nashville in those days. There were folks in New Orleans who were cooperative. So we had a lot of people from all around who were very cooperative and buried some very interesting hatchets. The Friersons knew where a lot of bodies were buried. But I didn’t know anything except the local Atlanta scene and I didn’t know much about that. I think that the region actually came together to put this in place. The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau was very fond of us. DragonCon was founded the same year. [The first DragonCon was actually held in 1987; their first fliers debuted at ConFederation in 1986.]

No one was on the scene, and nobody had ever done anything like this in the area so it was a perfect storm. You could not duplicate that again.

And then there’s the story of how we budgeted very tightly because we had been under the impression that being a nonprofit organization almost mandated [us] to lose money. Some previous conventions had lost money, sometimes rather large amounts I understood, but we budgeted very, very tightly. And then our final at-the-door price was something absolutely horrendous. I’m going to use the even number of a hundred bucks for 1986, which was tremendous. It was just saying, “Okay, we have plotted out for this many [people], that’s how many supplies we have.” Joe Selko doing the con suite had this many things lined up. It didn’t bleeping matter. They showed up anyway. They paid that seventy-five or one hundred bucks and we wound up with revenue over expenses of a tremendous amount. I’m going to say more than 50 grand and that created the pleasant problem of what went on afterwards with anything we wanted to do last minute, there was no question. I had no trouble authorizing last minute stuff once we had an inkling that that was happening. [There are legends of sushi in the con suite.] Joe may have done that. I didn’t get up to the Con Suite that often.

Penny’s husband was squiring around Ray Bradbury. And Penny was going around doing all the mom things except on this gigantic scale… working her own sons to death. And I was there being the guy that the hotel guys walk up to and say, “Is this gonna happen now and is that gonna happen then?” and I could tell them whether it was or wasn’t. And they were happy as long as somebody knew. It also enabled us to kick a couple of other things off. For instance, I believe there was some money spent to help one of those previously erring cons out that hadn’t made enough money. [Probably the 1983 Baltimore Worldcon.]

And another thing is, I know, the Atlanta Radio Theater, I’m still involved with that. They were just spinning off as a (c)(3) organization to be a more educational thing. We were able to get them a grant. But all that really was was tight budgeting. It was Irvin Koch. And also people actually cooperating among those three cities, the three closest cities, and others like Nashville, Louisville, and others. You couldn’t duplicate that, plus there was more a sense of Southern pride. That was the image we wanted to convey of Southerness.

A couple of things we did that were different… we had an actual public speaker give our keynote address; my Congressman at the time, a guy named Newt Gingrich, he gave the keynote address. It was very much almost cribbed from two personal friends of his. They wrote Future Shock and Newt knew those people and basically it was very much a future shock thing. No political notes, no partisan content.

We had an opening ceremony thing because the same guy who was involved with Atlanta Radio Theater, Thomas E. Fuller the long-time creative director of ART, he wrote a little play in one short act called Creation is a Circle and we did that as our opening thing. I just didn’t walk up there and say, “Hey, y’all welcome to Atlanta. The 1986 World Science Fiction Convention, the 44th Worldcon is in session.” We didn’t say that. We added this thing, Creation is a Circle, and I was told a hundred times nobody’s ever done that before.

We also seemed to have a level of cooperation between those hotels that didn’t start until later bigger stuff started happening. They are fiercely competitive usually, but for that they worked it out. It’s the way things are supposed to work in this business; sometimes they don’t, they did for us.

We only had one untoward incident with the Hugos and it wasn’t an untoward incident—somebody refused a Hugo. But I won’t go into that unless it’s necessary.

I don’t recall actually doing anything which means I must have done a lot, but nevertheless if I can’t recall it it must have been all detail shit that’s now passed away.

I don’t think we had very much local publicity but we had a little tiny bit. A couple of mentions in articles in newspapers and everybody talked it up in fandom. And this was the first time that people in the region had been able to go to something that they could get to that they didn’t have to drive for four hours and that contributed to a number of people showing up who had never shown before.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. And that’s off the cuff. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot of people I didn’t mean to. I tried to mention all the folks that I remember were there. Of course there were leading lights of fandom around: Jerry Page, Hank Reinhardt, and [others] and they were helpful. But as far as the committee goes it was either people from out of ASFiC like myself, from Atlanta, the Birmingham club, Charlotte Proctor, and Jerry Proctor [who] was a newspaper editor in those days.

We had a number of people from the Huntsville area. Some of them genuine rocket scientists at the time. They were all helpful. The Chattanooga fans were absolutely marvelous and Mike was living in Atlanta in those days. There was one person who was on our committee but never got to show up, he did a lion’s share of work: Joe Siclari. And here’s two little personal notes, tragedies for both Joe and myself, my mother passed Memorial Day of 1986 or actually the Sunday before it and Joe’s father was diagnosed with, I believe, cancer and passed away in the fall, but he still had to be taken care of. And Joe was the one so Joe could not get to Worldcon. I wish that Joe Siclari had been able to be there. He would’ve got all the accolades that he deserved. He did a lot of work. Avery Davis did a lot of work on the operations part of things. There was a lot of things that just came together in a way that is really difficult to describe. It was not a complete accident, but it seemed a lot more accidental then it was.

Unfortunately though, it was wearing to do that. I basically took every year, beginning 199- off from fandom. I did find myself going, “Can I live my life now?” and I went off and sorta did that. I’m only now getting back in when I’m retired and useless.

There could be a thousand stories, but fortunately I don’t remember most of them and basically what I remember is people being amazingly cooperative even if they didn’t like each other. Things worked out and we did a couple of things that were new and worked and the whole idea of lining those hotels up and even using a couple of rooms in the Regency Hyatt House so we had two of Portman’s three massive buildings working for us, even that worked. So I have to say it was a great success and I can remember it fondly now.

And we may not have been the very first one but I think we’re one of the first ones to have somebody that actually looked after folks who had problems moving around. There’s a lady named Samanda Jeude, she herself was a victim of polio, and she was interested in being able to move her wheelchair around so we actually had a serious effort to try to work it out and the Americans with Disabilities Act I think was brand new at the time. [The ADA was passed four years later, in 1990.] But where the hotels were already starting to think about it, Samanda made sure that they thought about it harder. And we probably were as accessible as it was possible to be in that time and that was largely her and her husband Don Cook’s effort on that part. That kind of thing happened, and it came together because we had the right people and they thought this was cool and wanted to work on it and also I got to admit there was a strong desire among a lot of people to say the South is really as good as the rest of the country, we can hold these things too. I think we proved it, but who knows?

 

You can download the full transcript of Warren’s interview with Ron, at http://www.nthzine.com/FR.ConFederation.pdf and you can listen to the entire interview on Fancyclopedia. We also recommend reading “Wake Up and Smell the Coffin!” a reminiscence of ConFederation and the bid for Nolacon II, 1986 in Guy Lillian’s Challenger.

 

Dear Cthulhu: Issue #24

DearCthulhuLogo

 

Dear Cthulhu,

I’m a newly single mother and I’m slowly going insane. I feel as if any moment I might crack and go postal.

My son is five months old and hasn’t slept for more than three hours since he was born. I’m exhausted. I can barely keep my eyes open at work, which is bad because I drive a school bus.

To compound everything, I am convinced I’ve got postpartum depression. I talked to my doctor about it. She gave me some medicine, but it hasn’t helped. I’m barely able to function. I’m afraid to even take a sleeping pill to get one good night’s sleep because I’m worried my son could die before I wake up. Of course, when he wakes me up after the only twenty minutes of sleep I’ve gotten in days, I worry that I might kill him myself.

I’m at the end of my rope. Please tell me what I should do.

—Haggard Mom From Hayward

 

Dear Haggard,

Get a babysitter long enough for you to sleep. If you cannot afford one, seek other solutions. You never mentioned anything about the sperm donor for your offspring—did he run off? Do you know who he is? If so, a simple paternity test can assure you of child support payments, which could be used to hire a sitter.

Do you have family or friends? Perhaps you could convince one of them to take your child for a night to give you a break, and then take a sleep aid. A good night’s rest will make things look much better. In fact, if you have many close friends, ask each of them to do this on a rotating basis. It should help you cope immensely.

If you are unlikeable and without any people who care about you, then perhaps consider giving the baby something to help him sleep. There are many children’s medicines which would not harm the child, but have sleepiness as a side effect. Many of these are available over-the-counter.

Cthulhu may be stating the obvious here, but are you taking your infant to a pediatrician? There are various conditions and problems an infant may have that will cause them to have difficulty sleeping. Some of them are treatable. If you are lucky, your doctor might find a solution that would save your sanity as well as your family bond.

Of course, there is another option if you are simply looking for a way out of the mess your loins have gotten you into. Most states have a law that allows a mother who is in over her head to drop off a baby at a hospital or a fire or police station without fear of repercussions or being arrested for abandonment.

There is also the possibility of giving the child up for adoption. There are many parents who are unable to conceive offspring of their own and are desperate for a chance to raise the unwanted offspring of another. In fact, Cthulhu himself would be more than happy to take this morsel… rather darling child off your hands. Cthulhu can personally guarantee that the child will never want for anything again. And then the two of you will be able to rest in peace, although perhaps in different ways.

 

 

Dear Cthulhu,

My wife and I have been married for six years and we’ve been trying for five of those to have a child. The love of my life has something called endometriosis, which makes it very hard, if not impossible, for her to conceive. We depleted our meager savings to try fertility treatments, all to no avail. A while back we came to the realization that we just weren’t going to be able to have children of our own, so we started to look into adoption.

We’d like to adopt from this country, but our state has some stupid law that the mother of the child has a year to change her mind. I can’t imagine the heartbreak if after 364 days the birth mother decided she’d changed her mind and wanted our baby back. It’d crush me and probably kill my poor wife. We considered adopting from overseas, but I couldn’t believe how expensive it is. We were looking at up to fifty grand, sometimes more. We simply don’t have that kind of money. We barely managed to scrape together five grand after six months of eating peanut butter sandwiches and Ramen noodles.

One way around needing most of the money was to find someone who wanted to give away their baby. Sadly, we’re not the only ones trying this route. The pregnant young girls treat the situation like a reality show and pick the couples with the flashiest cars. We’re not allowed to give them money, but I know for a fact that some of the couples who were chosen gave the girls expensive gifts.

I needed to get around the rich people who were blocking our plays, so I started trolling the seedier parts of town and talking to hookers. I told them if they ever got pregnant, not to have an abortion because my wife and I would be happy to adopt the child.

Next thing you know, I got arrested for prostitution in a sting operation. The girls told me they were working and had to be paid for their time. I wanted to get in their good graces, so I paid in case they got pregnant in the future.

The cops say the charges will stick because I gave the girls money, but all the girls insisted that I paid them just to talk to them. The cops don’t believe them either because that story gets them off the hook too. I told anyone who would listen that I wasn’t trying to have sex with anyone, I was just giving them an option of what to do should they ever get pregnant. Now the District Attorney’s Office is talking about adding baby trafficking to my indictment.

My bail is ten grand, so I can’t even get out. We don’t have that much. I’m sitting in the slammer in a city two hours from home and running through all my vacation days. I’ve only told my wife that I’m trying to figure out a way to get us a child.

I am emailing this to you from jail. We get twenty minutes of computer time every day. I have a public defender that I’m not sure graduated from law school in this country. He certainly doesn’t act like he knows what he’s doing. He told me he was going to try and see if he could plea bargain it down to endangerment of a minor, even though I explained to him there were no actual children involved.

At this point, I’m tempted to defend myself. What should I do?

—Paternally Perturbed Man in Manchester

 

Dear Perturbed,

Truthfully, Cthulhu has never understood the innate need of humans to produce offspring. The instinctual imperative does help to keep the species propagated, but let us continue to be truthful. Humans are so obsessed with procreation that even with birth control, there will be mistakes that happen and more children will be born.

Why just last month, Cthulhu got a letter from a woman with postpartum depression similar to the one above, whose screaming and crying infant was keeping her up at all hours of the night. It was driving her insane. Cthulhu offered her a win-win situation and Cthulhu adopted the child. She now has her life back and I had a wonderful child. You would not believe how plump and sweet the child was, but enough about my dinner and back to your issue.

There is a simple way to get yourself out of jail—simply plead guilty. Unless there is some sort of unusual bid for election to a higher office happening, prostitution stings usually involve a fine and a public shaming in the papers. Offer to plead guilty to the prostitution if they dropped the other charges, pay the few hundred dollar fine and go back home to your wife.

Then before continuing on this mad quest, Cthulhu suggests you take a closer look at the people around you who have small children and see how tired and unhappy they really are. Then look at those with teenagers, especially rebellious ones and see the heartache these offspring are causing their parents. If you look at this logically, you shall realize how much better off you are without children.

If this does not change your mind, simply inform your wife that you are going to try to have an affair with another woman. I know at first this will seem like something she would not want, but then explain to her that you’re only doing it to get the woman pregnant. Then after the child is born, you can sue for shared custody and your wife can help you raise your illegitimate offspring. Admittedly, the best you could hope for to have the child half the time, but is not half a child better than none? Especially if served with a good hollandaise sauce.

Have A Dark Day

 

 

Dear Cthulhu welcomes letters and questions at DearCthulhu@dearcthulhu.com. All letters become the property of Dear Cthulhu and may be used in future columns. Dear Cthulhu is a work of fiction and satire and is © and ™ Patrick Thomas. All rights reserved. Anyone foolish enough to follow the advice does so at their own peril. For more Dear Cthulhu get the collections Cthulhu Knows Best; Dear Cthulhu: Have A Dark Day; and Dear Cthulhu: Good Advice For Bad People from Dark Quest Books.

 

The Editor’s Rant: Issue #23

by Michael D. Pederson

 

We’re changing. Again. Yep, many of you have probably already noticed that I’ve ditched the Nth Zine logo and have gone back to Nth Degree.

Why? Well, originally when I started the online zine (Nth Zine) it was intended to be a companion piece for the traditional printed zine (Nth Degree). The two were meant to co-exist, each complementing the other. Then there was a large increase in paper costs and postage rates that made it difficult to continue printing Nth Degree. The plan at that time was to keep the online version going and put out occasional “special” issues of the print zine. However, life tends to get in the way of plans.

Since the financial crash of 2008, it has been increasingly difficult to find work in my chosen field of graphic design which has, in turn, created my own financial crash. This has also coincided with the rise of online publishing. Together, the two factors have almost guaranteed that Nth Degree will exist solely as an online publication from now on.

In my heart of hearts I still think of the entire project as Nth Degree, so for the sake of tradition I have returned to the old and much-beloved original title. Perhaps one day we will return to print publication, and if we do we can revive the title of Nth Zine for online pubbing. But for now, I’m happy to announce that Nth Degree is back. I will, in fact, be going back and rebranding all of the old Nth Zines to fit into the Nth Degree numbering system.

On a more straight-forward note… We’d like to wish long-time contributor C.J. Henderson well. C.J.’s been dealing with medical issues and the accompanying financial burdens that go with them. I’m very happy to include a new Piers Knight story from C.J. Henderson in this issue, “This Memory of Happiness”. You can support C.J. at The Society for the Preservation of C.J. Henderson online at http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/society-for-the-preservation-of-cj-henderson/87881.

 

View From Nowhere: …to Facebook or not to Facebook

facebookAn alien perspective on the human race
by Peter Huston

 

A few years ago, I joined Facebook. My plan was to network with other authors and learn the state of the publishing world—find the best path to get my work in print, in front of readers, and perhaps even make some money. We can all dream a bit, can’t we?

On the one hand, this was a fine plan. I did network with authors of all sorts. On the other hand, the plan was also deeply flawed. Alas, despite networking, it became obvious that none of these people understood the current publishing industry either. Alas! They were all asking the same questions I was, and although we had some fine conversations on the subject, little of substance was decided.

So, what exactly is it that many writers get out of FB? Aside from interesting online chats, they also build up an entourage and get to listen as their fans tell them how brilliant they are.

On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with this, but there are hidden dangers. Writers, perhaps science fiction writers in particular, tend to be opinionated and Facebook is not the best place for persons of diverging opinions to share views. Anyone familiar with FB has no doubt seen those irritating “Yes, they are”/“No, they aren’t” exchanges that constitute most online arguments. It is quite tempting to just de-friend people whose opinions irritate you—to simply cut people off—particularly if you don’t have any offline relationship with them. In fact, some would say it’s better than wasting valuable time arguing with them, particularly when FB friends might be watching. (I lost at least one date this way.)

The problem with cutting them off, however, is that it allows writers to inadvertently surround themselves with “yes-people”—in other words, a writer’s online fan base becomes a band of sycophants reminding them of their own brilliance. Where I’ve seen this frequently is in gun-control debates. Many science fiction writers support gun control. I do not. Why? I’ve been in situations where I’ve felt having a gun made me safer.

One author, I’ll call him John, has decided that there are too many big, scary guns in the USA. This is not an unusual position. However, John, while on Facebook, attempts to discuss the issue by citing questionable sources. For example, he shared a British study that claimed to prove that gun owners were racist. The study began with the premise that no rational person would own a gun, arguing that they were more likely to be used for suicide than home defense, and then based its conclusion on the premise that one could determine a racist by their tendency to vote against social welfare programs. Finding a correlation (surprise) between gun ownership and a tendency to vote for Conservative politicians, the study therefore “proved” gun owners were racist. (Editor’s note: I’ve seen this study, it’s riddled with logical fallacies.) In response, John’s followers—90% of them—responded with bland statements about how they did not like gun owners.

Now, my impression is that John, in addition to being a good writer is a pretty intelligent guy. However, by surrounding himself on FB with “yes-men” and clamoring sycophants, he’s not likely to consider an opposing viewpoint anytime soon.

Now, do all writers do this? No, of course, not. I’ll even name Theodora Goss, as a counter-example. Dora and I attended the Odyssey Writers Workshop together fourteen years ago although I’ve only seen her once since then so it would be a mistake to call us friends. Dora and I disagree on many things but she’s a smart cookie. And, unlike some science fiction writers, she does not delete people who disagree with her from her FB page; keeping open to opposing views.

Of course, Facebook has other uses. Some writers use it to seek publicity and build a following. Facebook, they say, will allow you to tell others about your projects and help sell books. Apparently, that’s a documented fact. Then again, if you actually check Facebook to see what its book marketing process looks like, you’ll see giant webs of inter-connected authors trying to sell books to one another. Think about that.

 

Dear Cthulhu: Issue #23

DearCthulhuLogo

 

Dear Cthulhu,

I am a Second Amendment advocate (I hate the term “gun nut”). I’ve been collecting guns ever since my father gave me my first rifle on my third birthday. I currently have over 300 rifles, shotguns and automatic weapons and another 150 handguns, both revolvers and automatics. I have more stored ammunition than the National Guard.

It’s more than just a hobby with me, it’s a fashion statement. My handgun collection comes in a number of styles and colors. I may carry concealed, but that’s no reason for my gun to clash with my outfit. I, of course, have all the necessary permits to carry concealed.

Then I realized that I had all this wonderful armament and, because I live alone, no one ever gets to see it. A few times I invited some friends over and showed off my collection, but they all got very nervous and made excuses to leave. Which is a shame, because I had bought a bunch of guns as lovely parting gifts. Their loss.

Then I met a few guys who were stationed in Afghanistan and had snuck some neat things out of the country. They sold me my very own rocket launcher. Cthulhu, you should see this baby. It is beyond awesome. It could take out a helicopter, plane or tractor-trailer. I had a neighbor who needed some land cleared and was gonna pay a lot of money to knock down some trees. I did it for free.

I love this thing more than I’ve loved any other object or person in my life. I sleep with it. I sit it in a chair at the table when I eat with a napkin tied around its neck. I even put up a special wall hook in the bathroom so I didn’t have to be apart from “Launchy” when I showered. The only time I was away from Launchy was when I worked. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was stupid to leave Launchy home just because I had a job. I mean lots of other people bring stuff to work like purses and cell phones. Why shouldn’t I be able to bring a rocket launcher?

So I did. Unfortunately, the principal of the school I work at as a second grade teacher objected and called the cops on me. I was arrested and they got a search warrant for my house. When they found my collection, they seized it and put me in jail without bail. And without Launchy.

It’s just not fair, I tell you. Now they think I’m a danger to the kids. Did anyone ask the kids? From what the rugrats told me, it was the greatest show and tell. Ever.

I have looked to the American Rifle Association for assistance, but even they are not willing to help me because I brought it to a school and it’s technically not a gun.

So, Cthulhu, tell me… do you feel taking rocket launchers to an elementary school is covered by the Second Amendment or not?

—Gun and Rocket Launcher Advocate in Albuquerque

 

Dear Gun Nut,

As a whole, Cthulhu is amused by the laws of human kind. My understanding is that the original intent of the Second Amendment was to prevent tyranny, using the logic that it would be easier to conquer people who could not shoot back. Nothing in there gives you the right to bring a weapon to show and tell.

As far as the stockpiling of weapons goes, Cthulhu has no objections to small arms as I am impervious to them. Cthulhu is not fond of nuclear weapons. Not only can they give me a bad sunburn, but they poison the planet I will one day rule or destroy, not to mention kill off the people which are fated to serve me and serve as my source of food and amusement. So I do not care about you having the weapons you mentioned so long as you do not use them on other humans, which are by rights mine.

It appears that you have lost touch with the reality that most of your fellow humans share. There have been a number of senseless gun-related tragedies, several involving children in schools. Bringing any kind of weapon to school violates not only the school district’s likely zero-tolerance weapons policy, but common sense as well. Children are humanity’s future and my future subjects and as such should be protected.

It does appear to Cthulhu as though you had no plans to actually use the weapon. However most other people would not realize that. You were fortunate to be taken alive, all things considered.

Instead of bringing the weapon to work, you should have opened up a gun museum and put the pieces on display. That way fellow gun nuts could come admire your hardware without any perceived threat of injury to others. A pity you didn’t write to Cthulhu before show and tell. It seems likely that you will be convicted and convicted felons are typically banned from owning firearms and it would most certainly be a condition of any parole. You will have to take up a new hobby. Have you considered taxidermy, cockroach racing or stamp collecting? Maybe trying to get a complete collection of every Dear Cthulhu column and book ever published will help fill the void.

Have A Dark Day.

 

 

Dear Cthulhu welcomes letters and questions at DearCthulhu@dearcthulhu.com. All letters become the property of Dear Cthulhu and may be used in future columns. Dear Cthulhu is a work of fiction and satire and is © and ™ Patrick Thomas. All rights reserved. Anyone foolish enough to follow the advice does so at their own peril. For more Dear Cthulhu get the collections Cthulhu Knows Best; Dear Cthulhu: Have A Dark Day; and Dear Cthulhu: Good Advice For Bad People from Dark Quest Books.