Posts tagged ‘Dick Smith’

Frederik Pohl

 

 
By Elizabeth Anne Hull

Elizabeth Anne Hull

Elizabeth Anne Hull

Windycon 41 was a lot of fun for me this year, especially the session dedicated to Frederik Pohl and his impact on science fiction.

Some highlights: We opened with a solemn presentation to me of a polished brass plaque which appeared on a commemorative bench at Loncon this year by Helen Montgomery and Dave McCarty from the executive committee of Chicon 7 and ISFiC. I was truly touched.

Gene Wolfe, our friend who lived in nearby Barrington till just recently, joined the panel at the last minute, and set the tone for the panel and made the audience laugh when he talked about how upset he was when Fred and I got married, and I soon after stopped being one of the hosts of our local fan group, SFFNCS (a.k.a. Science Fiction Fans of the Northwest Chicago Suburbs, pronounced “Sphinx”). In my defense, being Fred’s wife took a lot more time than being his girlfriend! Not to mention that I was holding down a full-time job at Harper College and developing their Honors Program, as well as the fact that Fred and I did a lot of traveling together to some pretty interesting and exotic places around the world.

Fred’s long-time editor Jim Frenkel kept us focused on the description of the panel: Fred’s multifaceted contributions to the field. He revealed some of what it was like to work editorially with Fred, who could always recognize a good editorial suggestion when he received it. We all agreed that all of Fred’s experience as an editor both for magazines and for books had sharpened his fiction skills and the ability to self-edit, and his period of agenting had also made him very aware of how important marketability is to a writer’s career.

I admitted that Fred was already a Big Name Pro and had a lot of experiences that I knew about only second hand when I met him at the Worldcon in Kansas City in 1976. I had in fact, taught The Space Merchants in my SF class but changed to Gateway in the late ’70s.

Long-time Chicago-area fan Neil Rest talked about the sensation Fred made on local fans when he came with me to one of parties held every month at the apartment of George Price (of Advent:Publishers) —or perhaps it was at one of the weekly meetings on the North Side called “Thursday,” quite possibly at the home of Alice Bentley, who might have been still a teenager or at least wasn’t yet a bookstore owner. We did a lot better at remembering our feelings than actual details, as will happen over more than 30 years.

From his beginnings in the New York area in the ’30s, Fred never gave up fanac and his sense of being a fan when he became a pro. I told how thrilled Fred was at Foolscap in Seattle in 2000 where Fred and Ginjer Buchanan (then an editor at Ace) were co-fan guests of honor. They called the con the “Fred and Ginjer Show.” In the ’30s and ’40s, Fred told me many times, he was very fond of the beautiful and talented Ginger Rogers, who he said, had to do all the steps Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels.

Much more recently, Fred was also entirely thrilled in 2010 when he won a Hugo as Best Fan Writer at Aussiecon for his work in this blog. He was happy to give credit wherever due, and thanked his blogmeister, Leah A. Zeldes, who allowed him to concentrate on writing without having to worry about the technicalities of the Internet posting, as well as Dick Smith, who enabled Fred to use his obsolete word processor to write both fiction and non-fiction.

Continue reading ‘Windycon Honors Frederik Pohl’s Contributions to SF’ »

windycon41

 
Coming to Windycon this weekend? Join Elizabeth Anne Hull, Dick Smith and Leah A. Zeldes for a discussion of discussion of Fred’s many contributions to science fiction:

“As a magazine editor, a multiple-award-winning author, and fan writer, SFWA Grandmaster and member of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Fred’s contributions make him a major figure of 20th and 21st-century speculative fiction.”

The panel takes place from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Betty will also be signing autographs from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, and giving a reading at 4 p.m.

At 1 p.m. Sunday, Betty will appear with security expert Bruce Schneier and others on a panel, “Magic Mirrors: Surveillance in Modern Society.”

If that’s not not your thing, you can catch Dick at 1 p.m. Sunday on a panel about “How Social Media is Shaping and Changing Fandom.”

—the blog team

 

 

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

 

Messy files art - public domain

 

Thank you for bearing with us. It’s a little hard to believe that it’s been over three months since Fred died. As you might imagine, we’ve had much to do since then.

Elizabeth Anne Hull and Frederik Pohl

Elizabeth Anne Hull and Frederik Pohl

The blog team — which is to say Betty, Cathy, Dick and Leah — have been regrouping, sorting and pondering where to go from here.

Fred will remain a very real part of this blog for some time to come.

Going through his files, Leah found literally hundreds of pieces of writing that he intended for the blog. Some of them were old articles — written with a typewriter on paper — that he meant to give new life here. Others were written on purpose for the blog, but were never posted.

We’d like to give you a look behind the scenes of “The Way the Future Blogs,” so you can see how that happened, and how Fred will still live in his blog.

When his editor Jim Frenkel coaxed Fred to start a blog (“like that new young guy”), Fred was nearly 90 years old. He’d started his writing life on manual typewriters. He adapted to computers, but slowly. Although he had a lifelong fascination with science and technology, Fred, like a surprising number of science-fiction writers, was a late adopter for his personal use.

Right up until the exigencies of collaborating with Arthur C. Clarke on The Last Theorem demanded a switch to a more modern word processor, Fred was still using the antiquated WordStar with Dick’s expert legacy support to get contemporary computers to run it. Up till then, Fred resisted e-mail as well as new software, not to mention the web.

Collaborating with someone in Sri Lanka changed all that, and Fred finally embraced 21st-century connectivity … to a point.

He didn’t want to learn about all the bells and whistles of blogging, and since he had the use of only one hand, his typing wasn’t internet-ready. That’s where Leah came in. A professional journalist and blogger, she took on the task of blogifying Fred.

We settled on a system: Fred would write a blog post and e-mail it to Leah. She’d copyedit, fact check, format it for WordPress, add links and images and post it. At least, that’s how it was supposed to work.

Filing, even in the dead-tree days, was never Fred’s forté. He’d write things and then lose them in his computer. He rarely used folders, putting everything — blog posts, fiction, correspondence, et al. — in “My Documents.” He’d allow Microsoft Word to name his files and then forget their filenames.

Once Fred wrote something, he was done with it, and he went on to think about the next thing. Sometimes he wrote blog posts but never passed them along. Did he think they needed further polishing? Did he forget about them? Did he think he had sent them when he actually hadn’t? We’ll never know.

Fred found the process of attaching files and emailing them tedious, so he’d save them up in batches, and later get Cathy to email them in bulk. Sometimes she couldn’t find files because they had different filenames than Fred had told her. Cathy’s resourceful at searching, but some documents she never found. Sometimes Dick was called upon to use specialized tools to retrieve files Fred had lost or accidentally deleted.

Since Fred’s death, Leah’s been combing through his computer and sorting the files, a process that required opening and reading every single one. Along with published and unpublished fiction, insertions for an expanded version of Fred’s biography, The Way the Future Was, and the material Fred had written for its forthcoming sequel, she found many unposted blog entries, and those will start being posted here soon.

In the last months before he died, Fred and Leah went through his trunk files, work he’d written years ago — some previously published and some not. He set aside a big stack of articles that he wanted to share on the blog. Since they’re on paper and must be scanned, OCRed and edited, getting them online will take a while, but you’ll see those here, too.

Meanwhile, Betty’s decided to get back into writing for this blog, so you’ll see regular posts from her, as well. Leah will continue editing and blogifying and may weigh in from time to time. Dick will be behind the scenes making sure all our computers stay online and running, and Cathy will keep everybody in communication. So the gang’s all here, even — virtually — Fred.

We hope you’ll keep reading!

The blog team

Richard Smith

Richard Smith

On Feb. 27, Dick Smith’s father, Richard Hilbert Edwin Smith of West Bend, Wisconsin, took his dog out for a walk. He had been in apparent good health, but shortly later a passerby found him, unconscious and without a pulse, lying on the sidewalk. He was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital in the town of Polk, where resuscitation efforts failed.

Mr. Smith had had a long and successful career in two separate fields. First he had been a design engineer for the West Bend Company, where he had invented a number of household devices, including a handy popcorn popper which is still manufactured and sold by the company in its same basic 1970s design. After retiring from the West End Company Mr. Smith took on a second career in financial services as chairman of the board, and later president, of the West End Employees Credit Union.

As hobbies Mr. Smith collected antique cars, starting with two Horch limousines he had bought when in Berlin serving in the U.S. Army. He also played an important part in local entertainments, where he sang the bass roles in such productions as “The Pajama Game,” “H.M.S. Pinafore” and “The Mikado.” A man of many parts, he will be missed by his grieving family as well as by local people involved in his community activities.

Dick Smith demonstrates a mimeograph. (Photo by Chaz Boston Baden.)

Dick Smith demonstrates a mimeograph. (Photo by Chaz Boston Baden.)

Publishing a fan mag in the 1930s was a low-skill, but not a no-skill job.

At the lowest level — that would be the carbon-copy magazine — it required no more competence than the ability to type a page of copy. The more sheets you could slip into your typewriter of copy paper, each with a sheet of carbon paper appended, the more copies you could make of your fan mag. The practical limit was seven or eight, and that only with the thinnest of copy paper and the cleanest of typewriter keys. (By “keys” I mean the part that hits the typewriter ribbon, not the keyboard keys that you press on with your fingertips.)

Dissidents in the Soviet Union in those years published their own sort of fan mags, only they weren’t criticizing sf magazines, they were criticizing their government, and if they got caught at it they faced, at least, jail, and possibly much worse. The examples of it I’ve seen were carbon-copied, because that’s all they had, and very nearly illegible. But they were passed around until they were worn out, or until the owners were caught.

There wasn’t much satisfaction in publishing a carbon-copy magazine. After you made a copy for yourself and a couple for your best friends there weren’t any left to send to Forrest J Ackerman and Don Wollheim and Jack Darrow and the other Big Name Fans you hoped would reciprocate by sending you theirs, so fans and fan groups with any funds at all would rise to the next level, the hectograph.

About the only people to use the hectograph other than fans were the chefs in small, often Italian, restaurants who wanted to announce the dishes they had on offer each day. The hectograph itself was a page-sized tray filled with jelly — usually purple — and not actually a very big step out of the poverty level because you couldn’t make much more than a couple dozen legible copies of each page.

The technology required you to type the copy you wanted to print on a sheet of specially treated paper (called by hectographers a “stencil,” though it properly wasn’t). To prepare for the printing operation, you first washed off the slab of jelly all the ink that was left on it from its last job, then allowed it to dry. Then you carefully spread the stencil over the surface of the jelly, pressing it gently to be sure of contact.

Then you removed the stencil and laid a sheet of paper where it was. Next, you hung that sheet to a cord you have stretched across the room to dry. Then you did the same with your next sheet of paper, continuing until the latest copy was getting too blurry to read. Then you washed the surface of the ink slab to remove every trace of the copy and typed a new copy, continuing until you ran out of copy paper or thought you had enough. You can usually identify a hectograph user by the fact that his fingers are almost always purple.

Then, when the jelly was good and dry, you washed off the old printing and start all over with a new page. You printed all the odd-numbered pages of your fan mag that way, hanging them all up to dry. Then you took them down and did the same thing on the other side for the even-numbered pages, and hung them up again.

When they were good and dry, they were ready to bind — which we will talk about after we describe a few more methods of printing, since the binding is pretty much the same for all of them. Such as the dominant form, used probably by more fans than all the others combined, the mimeograph.

Continue reading ‘How to Publish a Fanzine’ »