One thing that has baffled me for many years is the identity of the artist who painted the original covers of the Illuminatus! paperbacks, which were published by Dell in 1975. The signature, clear as day, reads: “Carlos Victor“, but I have never encountered any artist of that name in any reference. Wikipedia credits all the paintings to this mysterious artist. So let me say it first here: the identity of Carlos Victor is almost certainly the wonderful painter Carlos Ochagavia!
What a curious thread unraveled from reading the scanned issue of Telepath #1 on eFanzines this weekend. The fanzine, originally published by Arthur Haddon in Dec 1951, provided some tidbits of information about Australia’s first (if short-lived) SF pulp, Thrills Incorporated. This pulp was created by Stanley Horowitz’ Transport Publications following the the success of the weird mystery pulp, Scientific Thriller which appeared in 1948. Thrills Incorporated appeared in March 1950 and lasted for a total of 23 issues, ending in June 1952. In the pages of Telepath, one of the Sydney Futurian Society fans, Vol Molesworth (1924-1964), interviewed the editor of Thrills Inc which helped to “clear up a number of points that fans in Australia and abroad had been debating.” This may have been a reference to a series of plagiarisations that took place in the first year of Thrills issues. As the editor, Alister Innes, confessed to Molesworth, “In the early issues we were hoodwinked by certain unscrupulous writers who plagiarised American SF stories without our knowledge. As soon as this was pointed out by our readers, we sacked those writers. Our present day policy is to give an author a title and an illustration and get him to write a story around them.” What a curious way to run a magazine! On the other hand, there might have been no way for the editors to have known that the stories were plagiarized. According to Garry Dalrymple (via email), foreign science fiction magazines were treated as contraband in Australia between 1940 and 1950. As prohibited imports, issues of SF mags were discovered during routine inspection of the mails, and returned to sender. This quarantine resulted in a market for locally printed SF pulps of questionable quality. At that time, said Dalrymple, just about the only new stuff getting through to Sydney (and the Sydney Futurians) were gifts from Forry Ackerman! On the quality of production that went into those opportunistic Australian SF pulps, one author put it this way: “Very often, when the editor (Innes) was running to a tight schedule he would have the artwork already done and hand you a picture, saying ‘Three thousand worlds and a title, old boy, and I do need them by Friday.” One picture he gave me didn’t allow a lot of scope as far as the title was concerned, I thought, so I called it ‘Jet-Bees of Planet J’. He took another look at the picture when I brought in the manuscript, then looked at the title again ‘See what you mean, old boy’. He nodded approval. “Sort of self-propelled by their own farts.’
If, like me, you can’t make it up to Montreal for Worldcon 2009, you can at least graze on the feeds and photostreams. Enjoy vicariously! Voyageur, official Anticipation Newsletter Stross - Krug
Pleasantly surprised to discover Indoctrinaire, the first novel by Christopher Priest, a tale of strange foreboding and paranoia, wrapped up in altered states of consciousness and alternate realities. The protagonist, Dr. Wentik, finds himself forcibly recruited from his scientific research post beneath the South Pole, and whisked away to the Planalto District of Mato Grosso in Brazil. Both of these places are so far off the beaten track and outside of the ordinary world of human affairs that the novel begins with an eerie sense of dislocation, which is only accelerated into total disorientation as soon as Wentik begins to trek into the strangely deforested zone of Planalto. His guide, a tight-lipped man named Musgrove, shows signs of mental illness as the story progresses and Wentik finds himself an occupant of “the jail,” under interrogation by an equally opaque antagonist named Astourde.
How is it that my brother, Po, marooned out in the wilds of the high desert at Canyon Blanco is first one to tell me about the synthetic brain news? Here I am, wired up to the ears with wireless routers zapping me and servers buzzing underfoot…only a beer cap toss from a major data center…and as far as I knew I had a unique and unreplaceable hunk of gray matter floating in my skull. Sure it’s a little frayed around the edges, has its foibles, is a beast when it comes to cold starts on a winter morning, but still - after all it’s been through - it seemed a right decent old brain, as far as I was concerned. But now we know that these dweebs over at Blue Brain Project have already concocted a rat’s brain, and are madly tuning their skills to create a human brain within ten years. BBC Story Is it just me, or does that seem like it might not work out according to plan?
Did SF become irrelevant after the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969? This panel explored the relationship between the Apollo program and SF, and the ways in which SF did or didn’t live up to its visionary potentials after manned space flight became a reality. Paul De Fillippo kicked things off by asking to what extent SF inspired the space program? And to what extent did the eventual breakdown of the manned space program affect SF?
This panel included Barry Malzberg, Allen Steele, James Morrow, and Rick Wilber. Rachel Pollack was scheduled to appear, but nobody seemed to know where she was. By way of introduction, Rick Wilber had prepared some sort of pseudo-clever analogy about the panelists, saying that they were at different places along the timeline. Wilber said that Allen Steele, having already published 15 novels was someplace near mid-career, and that James Morrow was “settled” into a successful career with a number of major achievements under his belt. Then Wilber introduced Barry Malzberg, with his long and distinguished career, as “still active in the field…” Somehow you could sense the fumble on that last note, which provoked Malzberg to pounce into action: “What a euphemism!” he roared. “Just say it: I’m an ancient writer, a washed up writer! Remember when Tom Disch said we’re all just ‘robots wired for sound?’ Well you can just go ahead and say a corpse wired for sound.” Richard Wilber, recovering, said: “Ok, late career…” “Autumnal!” said Malzberg.