The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Douglas Adams

Monday, March 11th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams

Pat Terry was an Australian fan who was born in the mid-1880 and died in 1970. The Sydney Science Fiction Foundation established an award in his name to recognize Humour in science fiction. The award was only presented 8 times over the course of 12 years, from 1970, when it was given to John Sladek for Mechasm until 1982, when it was presented to Randall Garrett. Despite being an Australian Award, in 1971 and 1980, the award was presented at the Worldcon, which happened to be in Boston both of those years. The 1980 award, for work done in 1979, was presented to Douglas Adams for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and was accepted on his behalf by Chris Priest at Noreascon II.

Douglas Adams was born on March 11, 1952. He attended Cambridge, where he formed a comedy troupe called Adams-Smith-Adams with Will Adams and Martin Smith before becoming a member of the Footlights. His work with Footlights brought him to the attention of Graham Chapman, and the two wrote a few sketches together, with Adams being one of only two non-Pythons to receive a writing credit on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Adams would also later contribute to Chapman A Liar’s Autobiography.

I first became aware of Douglas Adams in the late 1970s when I received recordings of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio show sometime between the first series and the second series, before the publication of the first book based on them. By that time, of course, I had already seen some of his work on Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Death’s Master, by Tanith Lee

Thursday, March 7th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by David Schleinkofer

Cover by David Schleinkofer

Cover by Tim White

Cover by Tim White

Cover by Ken Kelly

Cover by Ken Kelly

In 1972, the British Fantasy Society began giving out the August Derleth Fantasy Awards for best novel as voted on by their members. In 1976. The name of the awards was changed to the British Fantasy Award, although the August Derleth Award was still the name for the Best Novel Award. From the award’s founding until 2011, the August Derleth Award was presented for Best Novel. In 2012, the Robert Holdstock Award for Best Fantasy Novel was created and the August Derleth Award became focused on Horror novels. The first August Derleth Award was presented to Michael Moorcock for The Knight of the Sword and Moorcock won four of the first five awards. The last August Derleth Award (before it became a Horror Award) was announced for Sam Stone for Demon Dance, but she declined the award. The category has remained part of the awards to the present day, although a re-alignment in 2012 means the awards are now selected by a jury rather than the full membership of the British Fantasy Society. In 1980, the awards were presented at Fantasycon VI in Birmingham.

Lee was the first woman to win the August Derleth Award. Although Sam Stone would win the award in 2011 for her novel Demon Dance, no other woman accepted the award until 2014, when Lauren Beukes won it for The Shining Girls. Catriona Ward has since won the award in 2016 for Rawblood. However, when Lee won the award, it was for Best Novel. In 2012, the August Derleth Award had a focal shift to Best Horror novel, with Fantasy novels winning the Robert Holdstock Award from that point on. As it happens, even if Lee had lost in 1980, that year’s award would have gone to a woman, as the other nominees were Phyllis Eisenstein and Patricia A. McKillip.

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Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone – 3 Good Reasons: Not Quite Dead Enough

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019 | Posted by Bob Byrne

NotDeadEnoughPBjpgI have written a LOT about Sherlock Holmes and Solar Pons — some of it here at Black Gate. I even write newsletters about each one. And I had a pretty neat hardboiled/pulp column here. But my favorite mystery series, bar none, is Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. I’ve read and re-read each story multiple times and never tire of them. I even adapted one of the old Sidney Greenstreet radio shows into a pastiche (more of those are coming).

The genesis of Hither Came Conan (which I’m sure you’re following here at Black Gate) was actually an essay I wrote for my first (and so far only) Nero Wolfe Newsletter: 3 Good Things. Since I have far more writing projects (including a similar Robert E. Howard Newsletter) planned than, you know, actually written, issue two of The Brownstone of Nero Wolfe isn’t in the immediate future. So, as time allows, I’m going to write up some new 3 Good Reasons entries and post them here under the Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone moniker. I’d read and write REH and Wolfe just about all day, if I could. So, here we go…

Welcome to the first installment of 3 Reasons. With a goal of eventually tackling every tale of the Corpus, I’ll give three reasons why the particular story at hand is the best Nero Wolfe of them all. Since I’m writing over seventy ‘Best Story’ essays, the point isn’t actually to pick one – just to point out some of what is good in every adventure featuring Wolfe and Archie. And I’ll toss in one reason it’s not the best story. Now — These essays will contain SPOILERS. You have been warned!

The Story

It’s World War II and Archie is ‘Major Goodwin’, working for military intelligence. The Army wants Nero Wolfe to help with a particularly tricky issue, and the corpulent detective won’t talk to anyone. Archie is assigned back to the Brownstone to talk some sense into Wolfe. He finds the world’s most ordered household routine turned upside down and is dragged into a case brought to his attention by Lily Rowan.

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Hither Came Conan: Iron Shadows in the Moon, the Bible, and Dark Horse

Monday, March 4th, 2019 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Hither_Shadows_PirateFightEDITED2 Timothy Truman turned sixty-three recently. Truman is one of the leading graphic book writers and artists in the industry. He was a cornerstone of Dark Horse’s Conan line, both writing and drawing.

Truman scripted “Iron Shadows in the Moon,” which Morgan Holmes recently expounded on. So, today we’ve got a bonus Hither Came Conan post, looking at Dark Horse’s version. Along with some discussion of the ‘before and after’ in that storyline.

The Free Companions covered issues 16 -18 of Dark Horse’s Conan The Cimmerian run. They picked up the storyline after the end of “Black Colossus,” with Conan at Yasmela’s side, to the disapproval of the Khorajans. He rescues her brother, king Khossus, but by story’s end, is displaced by Prince Julion of Muric (Al-Muric), an exiled stepson of King Strabonus.

Issues 19 – 21, Kozaki, cover Conan leading the Free Companions. After being dismissed from Khorajan service by Al-Muric, they raided willy nilly, building up some enmity.

But all of this is muddled together, as Dark Horse has Conan, near dead, in the swamps of the Ilbars River, the lone survivor of the Free Companions. And until Shah Amaruth shows up, pursuing Olivia, the story is a mélange of flashbacks involving Conan, Olivia’s story, and activity in the swamps. It will take more effort than it’s worth to sort through all that, so I’ll just work in a relatively linear fashion, time-wise.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: “Can These Bones Lie?” by Ted Reynolds

Sunday, March 3rd, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Mike Hinge

Cover by Mike Hinge

The Analog Award was launched in 1979 for works published in the magazine in the preceding year. The Short Story category was one of the original categories and has been given every year the award has been in existence. It was won the first year by Orson Scott Card for his story “Lifeloop.” In 1980, it was won by Ted Reynolds for his story “Can These Bones Live?” Reynolds was nominated again the following year in the same category for the story “Meeting of Minds.”

Reynolds opens “Can These Bones Live?” with a cliché. His main character awakens and doesn’t know where she is, having to explore the world anew and figure out what is going on. One of her earliest memories is that she has actually died, so she would seem to be in some sort of afterlife. Unfortunately, Reynolds spends too much time working this cliché as his never named viewpoint character continues to move through her uninhabited world, searching for other people, food, or any recognizable landmark. Her sole indication that she is still somewhere on Earth is her ability to recognize the Moon.

Eventually, Reynolds does take his story in a different, and unique direction, although it happens at a leisurely rate and he doesn’t really give the reader a reason to care about his protagonist. Eventually, she falls asleep and begins to commune with the Roanei, an alien race that informs her that humanity has gone extinct and she is the last human. If she requests it, the Roanei can bring humans back from extinction, but if they decide not to, the human race will remain dead.

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Mechanical Man, Inc.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019 | Posted by Steve Carper

Frank Dale patent 2,180,951 figure 3

You can’t get your science fiction merit badge without knowing that Isaac Asimov’s robots were made by the fictional U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men, Inc., founded in 1982, the same year Susan Calvin was born. (Yes, that means she’s a millennial. She joined the firm in 2008, if it comes up in a trivia contest.)

When people see the name of the firm they immediately start to wonder what the difference is between a robot and a mechanical man. Some people. Me, mostly. I’ve never found anybody else asking the question. But I can’t tell you how much it bugs me. If a company has both names it must make both things. Yet nowhere in I, Robot or The Rest of the Robots does Asimov so much as mention a mechanical man or differentiate his robots in any way. Robots by the score but no mechanical men or for that matter mechanical women.

Others did. He probably didn’t know it at the time, but Asimov was scooped. A real world firm had been started in 1938. Its name was Mechanical Man, Inc.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Leanne Frahm

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Gavin O'Keefe

Cover by Gavin O’Keefe

The Ditmar Awards are named for Australian fan Martin James Ditmar Jenssen. Founded in 1969 as an award to be given by the Australian National Convention, during a discussion about the name for the award, Jenssen offered to pay for the award if it were named the Ditmar. His name was accepted and he wound up paying for the award for more years than he had planned. Ditmar would eventually win the Ditmar Award for best fan artist twice, once in 2002 and again in 2010.

The first Ditmar for Best Fan Writer was awarded in 1979, when it was won by Marc Ortlieb. The award has been presented each year since then with a record four-year winning streak set by Bruce Gillespie (1989-92). Gillespie tied with Ian Gunn in the second year of that winning streak and has won the award a record nine times between 1989 and 2005. Leanne Frahm won the award for the first time in 1980 and would win the award a second time in 1998.

Leanne Frahm was born in Brisbane, Australia on February 28, 1946.

Frahm attended James Cook University and worked in a bank. She became involved in acting in and directing community plays and eventually attended a writers’ workshop in Sydney, which led to her publishing in fanzanes and a professional career.

She was nominated for the Ditmar Award for Best Fan Writer in 1979 and the following year she won the award. She would win a second Ditmar Award for Best Fan Writer in 1998.

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Hither Came Conan: Dave Hardy on Vale of Lost Women

Monday, February 25th, 2019 | Posted by Bob Byrne

Hither_ValeMarvelCoverEDITEDWelcome back to the latest installment of Hither Came Conan, where a leading Robert E. Howard expert (and me) examine one of the original Conan stories each week, highlighting what’s best. Dave Hardy is the leading El Borak scholar around, and today he weighs in with a fresh perspective on what is pretty much regarded as one of Howard’s worst Conan tales.

PAIN CRYSTALLIZED AND MANIFESTED IN FLESH: THE VALE OF LOST WOMEN

“She was drowned in a great gulf of pain—was herself but pain crystallized and manifested in flesh. So she lay without conscious thought or motion, while outside the drums bellowed, the horns clamored, and barbaric voices lifted hideous chants, keeping time to naked feet slapping the heard earth and open palms smiting one another softly.”

“The Vale of Lost Women” is a neglected part of the Conan canon, scorned even. It was not particularly loved in Howard’s time. Howard wrote “Vale of Lost Women” probably around February 1933. Howard was unable to sell “Vale.” If he submitted it to Farnsworth Wright at Weird Tales, Wright didn’t buy it. The story was first published in The Magazine of Horror in the Spring, 1967 issue. Compared with such gems as “Queen of the Black Coast,” “Red Nails,” “Black Colossus,” or “Tower of the Elephant,” “Vale” might seem a very slight tale indeed.

And yet there is something primal about “Vale” that defies one to forget it. Despite its crudities and glibness, it taps into dark recesses of fundamental fears and dream logic.

The setting is a village in Kush, the fictional equivalent of Africa. Livia is a young woman from Ophir, one of the civilized countries of Hyboria, in Howard’s setting for the Conan stories. It is a pseudo-European country, inhabited by a fair-skinned folk. She had journeyed with her brother, Theteles, who sought to learn sorcerous wisdom in a remote Stygian city. Instead they were captured by Kushite raiders and came to be captives of Bajujh, king of Bakalah.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

Saturday, February 23rd, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Ron Walotsky

Cover by Ron Walotsky

Cover by Barclay Shaw

Cover by Barclay Shaw

Cover by David A. Hardy

Cover by David A. Hardy

The Locus Awards were established in 1972 and presented by Locus Magazine based on a poll of its readers. In more recent years, the poll has been opened up to on-line readers, although subscribers’ votes have been given extra weight. At various times the award has been presented at Westercon and, more recently, at a weekend sponsored by Locus at the Science Fiction Museum (now MoPop) in Seattle. The Best Book Publisher Award dates back to 1972, although in 1975 and 1976 the Publisher Award was split into paperback and hardcover categories. Ballantine Books won the award each year from its inception through 1977 (winning the paperback for the two experimental years with the Science Fiction Book Club winning the hardcover award). In 1978, when Del Rey was established as an imprint of Ballantine, Ballantine/Del Rey began winning the award. The award was not presented in 1979 for works published in 1978, but when it was reinstituted in 1980, Ballantine/Del Rey picked up its winning streak. In 1980. The Locus Poll received 854 responses.

Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas pitched the idea of a fantasy magazine to Lawrence Spivak at Mercury Press in the mid-1940s and a companion to Spivak’s publication Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. The Magazine of Fantasy was founded in Fall, 1949 with editors Boucher and McComas. With the second issue, the title was changed to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Boucher and McComas set the magazine apart from other science fiction magazines not only with their choice of material, which tended to being more literary in nature, but also in the magazine’s design. McComas left the magazine following the August 1954 issue for health reasons, but Boucher continued to edit the magazine until the August 1958 issue. Following Boucher’s departure, Robert P. Mills edited the magazine until March 1962 and then Avram Davidson took over until November 1964. Joseph Ferman, who had bought the magazine in 1954 edited it for a year before turning the editorial tasks over to his son, Edward K. Ferman, who edited the magazine until June 1991, after which Kristine Kathryn Rusch became the magazine’s editor until May 1997. Gordon van Gelder took over editorial duties and purchased the magazine from Ferman in 2001, turning over the editorship to Charles Coleman Finlay in 2015.

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The Golden Age of Science Fiction: Australian Gnomes, by Robert Ingpen

Tuesday, February 19th, 2019 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Robert Ingpen

Cover by Robert Ingpen

The Ditmar Awards are named for Australian fan Martin James Ditmar Jenssen. Founded in 1969 as an award to be given by the Australian National Convention, during a discussion about the name for the award, Jenssen offered to pay for the award if it were named the Ditmar. His name was accepted and he wound up paying for the award for more years than he had planned. Ditmar would eventually win the Ditmar Award for best fan artist twice, once in 2002 and again in 2010. The Ditmar Award for Best Australian Long Fiction (alternatively, Best Australian Novel) has been presented each year the Ditmar Awards have existed. The 1979 award was won by Robert Ingpen for his artbook, Australian Gnomes at Swancon 5, held in Perth.

In 1979, in his Ditmar Award winning book Australian Gnomes, Australian author/artist Robert Ingpen created a version of Australia in which gnomes lived, mostly unseen, amongst humans, much as Brian Froud would do with the subsequent Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book (1984). Since Australia is a land of immigrants, Ingpen’s gnomes also came from different places around the world, each group retaining ties to its specific culture of origin and based on the human society from whence they came. His gnomes come from Ireland, Northern and Southern Europe, Mongolia, and Argentina. Just as with the humans who have settled Australia, they have built a combination culture even while retaining their ties to their homelands.

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