Posts tagged ‘Conventions’

SCOTUS

How will the Supreme Court’s decision in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning affect democracy?

By Elizabeth Anne Hull

Elizabeth Anne Hull. Photo by Barb Knoff.


Elizabeth
Anne Hull

When Pope Francis named 19 new cardinals to be installed in February, it underscored the efficiency of a nondemocratic government. The elevation of Les Cayes Bishop Chibly Langlois (at 55 the youngest of the appointees) from Haiti, shows how much can be done very quickly by an autocrat, in this case, to implement Francis’s agenda of ministering to the poor of the world. Bishop Langlois’ youth makes likely he will still be around and under age 80 when the time comes to vote for the next pope. All this in less than a year since Francis became the pontiff.

I likewise saw how efficient the totalitarian government of China could be in clearing the roads blocked by a landslide after a great rainstorm in 1991, when Fred and I were stranded for an extra day in the Tibetan foothills while visiting the Panda Breeding Station.

With us were Charles Brown, Brian Aldiss, Brian Stableford, Malcolm Edwards, and a couple of dozen others from outside China for the occasion of the World SF meeting in Chengdu, Sichuan. The authorities were not going to let their honored guests be inconvenienced one more day than absolutely necessary!

It’s an old joke that at least Mussolini got the railroads to run on time during World War II.

Contrast this with our seemingly dysfunctional Congress in the United States where democracy rules. Well, actually we have a representative democracy, which means we have established checks and balances that are supposed to preserve the basic rights of minorities and prevent too hasty decisions from being implemented by well-meaning people who fail to see potential unintended consequences of their agendas. But for the sake of brevity, we call it “democracy” and are quite proud of it.

Democracy as we practice it is, undeniably, a much slower and more cumbersome way to reach decisions and implement change. And it’s an equally self-evident logical principle — sorry, those who want to maintain the old ways no matter what — that situations can not ever be improved without making changes. But democracy (we’ll call it that for shorthand) has one big advantage over totalitarian, top-down management. That is, when everyone can have his or her say before a decision is finally reached, the decision is likely to be fairer and last longer before it too needs to be changed. Americans don’t like having stuff shoved down our throats.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the U.S. Supreme Court will rule on the question of whether the president has the right to make interim appointments to key positions, including judicial appointments, which in turn may lead to appointments to the Supreme Court itself. We do live in interesting times!

Frederik Pohl

 

By Elizabeth Anne Hull

Plans are under way for a celebration in memory of Fred, to be held August 2, 2014, at the Wojcek Conference Center at William Rainey Harper College in Palatine, Illinois.

Please save the date and join us if you can. If you’d like to participate in the program, please let me know as soon as possible.

In future, I’ll be posting more details about the program, as well as suggestions for accommodations for out-of-towners and other activities in conjunction with this event.

 

 

Most of the blog team will be at Capricon 34, in Wheeling, Ill., February 6–9. Come and see us!

Betty:

  • “Is Canon a Fading Concept?”
    7 p.m. Friday, Birch B
    With re-makes and re-boots everywhere, canon may be a fading luxury concept. Replaced by $$$. Will purists who hold canon important die out and be replaced by consumers who just want to be entertained?

  • Autographing
    1 p.m. Saturday, Autograph Table
    Betty will be signing copies of Gateways, the festschrift anthology she edited for Fred’s 90th birthday, and she’ll also have some books Fred signed before he died.

  • Reading
    3:15 p.m. Saturday, Birch A

  • “A Truly Subversive Literature”
    5:30 p.m. Saturday, Birch A
    David Gerrold has written of the “truly subversive nature of science fiction as a literature that questions the status quo.” Is science fiction truly subversive? If it is, why, and how, can some people find it comforting to read?

  • “What’s Green, Seven Feet Tall, and Has Horns?”
    10 a.m. Sunday, Willow
    Authors talk about their feelings on reviewers. Do reviewers serve a useful purpose? What makes a good reviewer or a bad one? Can or should an author ever respond publicly (or even privately) to a reviewer?

Dick:

  • Debate: “Is Fandom Undergoing a Generational Change?”
    7 p.m. Friday, Birch A
    A debate between an older and younger member of fandom, moderated by a fan in the middle. Is there a younger generation of fans and authors who are trying to take science fiction fandom in a different direction than it has previously been going? Can and should older fans adapt?

  • “Overthrowing the AI”
    10 a.m. Sunday, Botanic Garden A
    Computers are everywhere, on or desks, in our pockets, inside our televisions and cars. Is it possible to go completely off the grid? Is it desirable? How can we assert our dominance over our silicon masters?

  • “What Is a Fan Writer?”
    1 p.m. Sunday, Birch B
    Many people hear the words “Fan Writer” or “Fanzine” and think of Fan Fiction, but there are also definitions of those words which have nothing to do with Fan Fiction. This panel discusses the diversity of fannish writing, from fanfic to essays to travelogues, as well as where you can find the best in fan writing, however you define it.

Leah:

  • “To Tweet or Not to Tweet?”
    4 p.m. Thursday, Birch B
    If you’ve heard about tweeting, but haven’t given it a chance, our panel of expert tweeters explain how to get started, who to follow, and what pitfalls you should avoid.

  • “Is Canon a Fading Concept?”
    7 p.m. Friday, Birch B
    See above.

  • “So Awful, It’s Awesome: Guilty Pleasures”
    8:30 p.m. Saturday, Birch B
    Do you love mega sharks battling giant octopuses? Was Richard Grieco your favorite Loki? Is Sherlock Holmes better when he battles unbelievable CGI dinosaurs? These panelists talk about their favorite “so bad it’s awesome” media and books from the past few years.

  • “Fandom Saved My Life”
    10 a.m. Sunday, Birch A
    How has the fannish community tried to provide safe space for people to be themselves? For many it is the first place that they can do that safely. Further discussion on how we can each provide safe space for newcomers and each other as our community grows.

Hope to see you there!

The blog team

 

Detail: Cover by Ean Taylor for 'The Way the Future Was' (1983 Granada edition)

 

Fred’s death was reported and mourned all over the world. Here are excerpts from just a small selection of the remembrances from fans, friends and the media.

  • “Grand master passes through the final Gateway.” —Simon Sharwood, The Register.

  • “On Monday, September 2nd, 2013, one of the last remaining great figures in the science fiction genre passed away. Frederik Pohl was 93 years old, with a long and distinguished career writing, selling and editing science-fiction stories.” —Andrew Liptak, Kirkus Reviews.

  • “Like some magnificent sequoia, he was both a vibrant, majestic, respirating presence and a token of a distant, almost unimaginable past. He was given a Grandmaster Award by the Science Fiction Writers of America twenty years ago, but that tribute hardly begins to do justice to his immense accomplishments.” —Paul Di Filippo, Barnes and Noble Review.

  • “Frederik George Pohl, Jr. (Nov. 26, 1919 – Sept. 2, 2013) was almost a living artifact of a bygone era in science fiction, as well as one of the genre’s most fertile and perennially refreshed talents. Born in the immediate aftermath of World War I, he died in the epoch of Google Glass and the Large Hadron Collider, without ever losing his imaginative spontaneity or intellectual curiosity, or his ability to upset and disturb the genre consensus.” —Paul St John Mackintosh, TeleRead.

  • “弗雷德里克·波尔是为数不多的可以担当起“科幻小说大师”头衔的科幻作家.” —The Beijing News.

  • “Frederik Pohl was a science-fiction author of extraordinary longevity and accomplishment. In hundreds of stories between 1940 and 2010, and dozens of longer works from 1953, he became the sharpest and most precise satirist in the science-fiction world. Kurt Vonnegut may have created greater myths of the awfulness of America, and Philip K Dick may have had a profounder understanding of the human costs of living in a unreal world; but Pohl — from experience garnered in the field of advertising — knew exactly how to describe the consumerist world that began to come into being after the Second World War.” —John Clute, The Independent (UK).

  • “In all, he published more than 60 novels. His most lauded effort was Jem: The Making of a Utopia (1979), which remains the only science fiction title to have won the National Book Award.” —The Independent (Eire).

  • “La ciencia ficción tiene nombres que cualquier que se diga fanático tiene que saber. Uno de ellos es Frederik Pohl, y si su nombre no te suena, en este artículo te contamos por qué este hombre que acaba de pasar a la inmortalidad a los 93 años contribuyó a que cientos de miles se hagan fanáticos de este género.” —Nico Varonas, Neoteo.

  • “Described as prickly and stubborn (he was married five times and divorced four), Pohl resisted the Internet for years, according to family and friends, but in 2009 launched a blog called ‘The Way the Future Blogs.’ Like much of his writing throughout his life, it was funny, skeptical and perceptive and it won a Hugo Award.” —Ben Steelman, Star News Online.

  • “科幻黄金时代硕果仅存的科幻大师之一的Frederik Pohl于9月2日因呼吸困难(respiratory distress)去世,享年93岁。Frederik Pohl以科幻期刊编辑和作家的双重身份闻名,他在60年代作为科幻期刊的编辑连续多年获得雨果奖,之后又以作家身份获得了多次雨果奖和星云奖。” —Chinese Writers Network.

  • “A stickler for detail, Pohl was determined to get as much science correct as possible in his books. His research took him all over the world and he was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2004, when he published the final novel in the Heechee saga, he apologised to his readers for having suggested, in Gateway, that aliens might have taken refuge in a black hole. With the physics of black holes having been more fully understood in the intervening years, Pohl acknowledged that nothing and no one could exist within a black hole.” —The Telegraph.

  • “Avec un coup d’avance et l’humour noir qui caractérise son style, son œuvre dé voile , pour l’humanité, un avenir inquiétant en partie advenu: omniprésence de l’informatique, montée du terrorisme, raréfaction des ressources, pollution, surpopulation, crise du logement, fanatisme religieux. . . . Après Jack Vance et Richard Matheson , c’est la troisième figure majeure de la SF américaine qui s’éteint cette année.” —Macha Séry, Le Monde.

  • “Despite being 93, he worked to ‘Safeguard Humanity’ to the end.” —Eric Klien, Lifeboat Foundation.

  • Continue reading ‘Obituaries and Tributes to Frederik Pohl’ »

jet

 

I tried to figure out why I had been so open with Professor Betty and so closed-mouthed with most of the rest of the world.

I finally figured it out. I hadn’t want to discuss it with anybody, I just wanted to spill it out and get rid of it, so it had to be a stranger. And when I woke up the next morning, I did feel that a weight had been lifted off my chest.

I had obligations to MidAmeriCon that day, but I couldn’t see anything past that afternoon that I couldn’t just skip. So I sat in on the Saturday morning breakfast, with Robert Heinlein (the guest of honor, remember?) at the head of the table and being sure to chatter with each of the special guests, and I gave my “Thank You For Being You, Robert” speech at one-thirty, as promised. It went well, especially with my one big joke — “And, Mr. Chairman. I see you’ve got a Robert A. Heinlein luncheon promised for tomorrow, but this is a big con and he hasn’t gained any weight. Are you sure there’s enough of him to go around?”

And then I pocketed the cash refund for the unused day of my stay and got in a cab and a little over an hour later we were taking off from my favorite airport and I was on my way home.

More, when I write it.

 
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Jack Williamson

Jack Williamson

Where we left off: MidAmeriCon, August 1976 — As I gave her a foot rub, Dr. Hull said, “I forgot to ask you. Are you married, Frederik?”

“Well,” I said, “I guess I am, at least for the next, let me see, four months. After that, we’ll see.”

She didn’t respond to that in words, just waited me out. I gave in to her silence. “Carol and I have been married for almost twenty-five years,” I told her.

She waited me out some more, so I gave her the hard part: “But all she’s willing to guarantee right now is, we’ll stay married right up till New Year’s Day. Then we sit down together and decide if we want to stay married for life, or—”

She didn’t stop outwaiting me, just reached up for the hot coffeepot and refilled our cups.

“Or not,” I said. “See, this was happening on this last New Year’s Day, when we were making jokey resolutions. Only when we started making resolutions about staying married, it stopped being a joke. Shall we hit the SFWA room party now?”

 
We hit it, and once we got past the guardian at the gate she didn’t need any further help from me. Jack Williamson and a few other old-timers were looking at some foreign sf magazines near the door, and when she caught sight of him and started toward him, he gave her a big “Hello.” Turned out they had met at some Midwest thing a year or so before.

I spent the next half hour talking SFWA business with whoever happened by, and just when I was thinking of telling her I needed to leave, she came over to me to say she had to get up in the morning but Jack’s room was on the same floor as hers in that other hotel, and he had offered to walk her home.

“And he promised to let me in here again, so I won’t need to bother you,” she said, and thanked me and was gone.

To be continued.

 
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