A few photos from the Australian Discworld Convention in Sydney last weekend. Have I really been back less than a week? So much has happened it feels like a month.
I thought van Vogt would be a good person to do today as I have some of his books on our shelves…yes, well, I still need to find them. I have memories of seeing them in the dim, dark past but I cannot find them today and today is what counts.
Van Vogt is a name from my childhood and that makes perfect sense as he commenced his publishing career in the late 1930s, somewhat before my time. According to everything I can find his book The World of Null-A was an ‘interesting’ novel which became a classic despite everything being totally wrong. You can read an essay by Robert Silverberg on this subject which mentions an essay by Damon Knight both of whom are now competent science fiction authors in their own right, although Knight wasn’t when he wrote his essay.
Something I didn’t know is that van Vogt wrote some stuff for TV; some documentaries and parts of TV series. The one that pokes a hole in my memory is The Outer Limits from 1999 and 2002; some of them being screened after van Vogt’s death in 2000.
He’s got an interesting name and I found this webpage talking about the pronunciation. They vacillate between rhyming with vote or pronouncing every single letter. My money is rhyming with vote purely because it’s easier to say. One pronunciation mentioned only once is voite which is how I’ve said it all my life for no good reason.
Anyway, you need to read him yourself in order to make your own judgement as he is one of the giants of the science fiction industry. Here is The World of Null-A and The Voyage of the Space Beagle. I’ve always found this second title a rather strange one for no reason I can actually remember.
Theodore L. Thomas AKA Cosgwell Thomas AKA Leonard Lockard AKA Ted Thomas AKA T. L. Thomas AKA Theodore Lockhard Thomas AKA Theo. L. Thomas. I think that’s all, I got this from multiple sources so there could well be more. 1920 to 2005, writer of more than 50 science fiction short stories as well as being a chemical engineer and attorney in America.
I’m suggesting he polarises people. Never having heard of the gentleman before I performed a little function I like to call googling and found some interesting things. I’m comparing The Weather Man as I actually have that story and I found two differing views.
This little website shows how Thomas and the accuracy of his predictions. There’s no accuracy of any predictions here but the writer says
Wonderful novella. Highly recommended.
This other blog has a bit more to say on the story. Everything Is Nice does a proper review and Thomas doesn’t come out quite so clean. The writer describes the processes as very
more Hollywood than hard
and goes on to have some rather harsh words about the females in the story.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and tentatively suggest the first blog is written by a man and the second by a woman. The limb of the tree is a little shaky as I have many male friends who would shout lots of very clever words to tell me how wrong I am. Just when I was going to expand a bit more on this writer’s feminine wiles I clicked on their About and discovered he’s a man and not only that but he has credentials as long as my arm which explains why his review is so good.
Having embarrassed myself completely I’m going to move on to a photo of Analog from June 1962 which just happens to have The Weather Man printed within its pages. It’s a little nibbled around the edges but aren’t we all.
Putting Theodore Thomas into the Booktopia search engine came up with some fascinating looking books such as Musculoskeletal Tissue Transplantation and Tissue Banking which I expect you all to click on and buy so I get pots of money, or Architecture at Ahmedabad, the Capital of Goozerat which is a little more reasonably priced.
I picked Olaf Stapledon a few weeks ago when I came across his name somewhere and now I can’t remember where. I was already familiar with the name but can’t find anything on my shelves to back that up, I suspect I read his books in my dim, dark past when I wasn’t necessarily remembering the books I was reading with books borrowed from somewhere. Anyway, enough about me let me share a little of my research with you.
Stapledon, born in Cheshire, England in 1886. He was a philosopher and science fiction author, two fields which have some synchronicity in my mind, I’ve seen many science fiction authors philosophise about some of the inventions in their books and how they’d affect humanity.
He was writing early enough to be an influence on several prominent science fiction authors notably Arthur C Clarke (I happened to have started reading some of his short stories last night), Brian Aldiss and Stanislaw Lem.
During the last few years of his life he travelled extensively on lecture tours becoming the only Briton allowed a visa for the USA to visit New York for the Conference for World Peace in 1949. Not long after WWII is a very apt time for a conference of this nature, I do wonder how those conferences went, especially as the US and Russia were involved in a cold war at that time.
Some of his most noted works are Last and First Men, Starmaker and Odd John, this last title’s rights were snapped up in the 1960s with David McCallum slated to play the title role, it’s a pity it never happened. I’ve mentioned McCallum before with his roles in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and N.C.I.S.
Alan Marshall is one of our national treasures, and if he isn’t he should be. He’s one author everyone should read as he’s written so much about Australian life. Born in 1902 in country Victoria he contracted polio at the age of six. He was put through the wringer with treatment and ended up on crutches, something that didn’t seem to hold him back much. You can read more about him in his fictionalised account of his life I Can Jump Puddles, it’s an awesome book and some day I’ll read the two sequels.
His life was an inspiration and he seems to have the knack of writing about people the way they were not the way we think they should be written. This book illustrates that perfectly. It’s a series of short stories and each one shows us Australians as they were in that time.
I loved these stories. The first one is called Tell Us About the Turkey, Jo and is about a young boy and his older brother. They’re talking to the narrator and telling him about the young boys adventures, making every tiny event seem bigger and more important as happens with young children.
The title story, How’s Andy Going? is about the author as a young boy after he’s been put on crutches. He still wants to race and he has a young friend who also wants to race so they create a race specially for them and crawl 100 yards. Andy is the younger brother of the friend and ends up joining in. I love how they constantly ask ‘How’s Andy going?’ all through the race despite having tried to leave him at home. I shouldn’t spoil the story and tell you he won, pipped at the post. You should still read the story as it’s all in the telling and not in the condensing.
I’m giving you a couple of links to Booktopia for buying. I Can Jump Puddles is a really important fictionalised autobiography as it tells us what it was like to get polio and how he coped with it. And here’s the Complete Stories of Alan Marshall, not sure how complete it is but at 512 pages it should have a decent number. Very enjoyable writing.
I was thrilled to the back teeth when I found Eric Frank Russell last night, I’d never heard of him before but one of my favourite magazines was mentioned on his Wikipedia entry as Further Reading! They’re talking about an article by Jacob Edwards titled Overlooked: The Non-fiction of Eric Frank Russell. It’s a neat, little article talking about how Russell doesn’t give his viewpoint about anything in his science fiction but lets fly in his non-fiction books about such issues as mass hysteria, fear mongering and the like. They follow this up with a reprint of an article Russell wrote called Who’s That Knocking? talking about communication between different types of animals and would we actually recognise aliens talking to us if it happened?
Russell has been published in many pulp fiction magazines sometimes using different names so tracking all of his works down may be challenging.
He won the first annual Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1955 and has received two hall of fame awards since his death in 1978. John L. Ingham wrote a thorough and detailed biography of Russell in 2010 but I’m struggling to find a copy to link to for you.
His book A Present From Joe is also listed in a Further Reading list with such luminaries as Arthur C. Clarke, H. G. Wells and John Wyndham in Aspects of Science Fiction edited by G. D. Doherty. This is where I first saw his name and I felt he must be worthwhile as his is the only name in this list I’d never heard of, the theory is that he must be worth reading.
Today has been a very sad day with the announcement of the death of Sir Terry Pratchett. I won’t write about his life or his death as so much has been written about him in so many places already.
It’s hit me harder than I expected. Tears are very close to the surface and telling myself he’s no longer suffering the vagaries of his mind doesn’t really help today but will in the future.
All the Discworld communities are reeling and sharing their grief. It will be a very different Convention in a few weeks as we come together to share more tears and console each other.
As head of Discworld in Victoria my team and I will endeavour to provide a time when we can get together to mourn and celebrate.
I’m pinching a little of Penguin Random House’s email announcement.
We ask that the family are left undisturbed at this distressing time.
A Just Giving page donating to the Research Institute for the Care of Older People (RICE) has been set up in his memory:www.justgiving.com/Terry-Pratchett
If you’d prefer you can make a donation to Alzheimer’s Australia.
I thought I’d have trouble with Q but I ended up with a choice of six authors! Refusing to do all of them I made a choice to do Thanas Qerama just because he’s an Albania author and it tickled my fancy to write about an Albanian author. Of course, I then struggled to find much information on him and I can’t find any of his books so I almost gave up but I perservered thanks to Google Translate!
Thanas Qerama was born somewhere in Albania on the 7th April 1945 and died on the 4th April 2004, a youngish man.
Science fiction is interesting in Albania. Yes, there was some science fiction there from the late 1960s but the first science fiction novels were published in 1978 and by 1991 there were only about a dozen of them with Qerama having written about five. I don’t know what it’s like now but it seems as if Qerama was a big deal in his country and if not, he will be seen to be such in due course when science fiction really takes hold.
This seems to be the best website showing his works. According to this list there are seven books! I’ve found nowhere selling his books and have no photos or drawings of him. I will be keeping an eye open from now on though!
Who? I hear you say, and well you might. Fitz-James O’Brien seems to be a rather obscure author to me but according to all sources he’s considered a forerunner to modern science fiction, born in 1828 and dying in 1862 it puts him well before Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. I found him in the Webster’s Dictionary of American Authors as well as Wikipedia and found various sources of ebooks. If you do a quick search you’ll be able to read his works online, but I will give you links to buy three works as they look really good.
O’Brien was born in County Cork, Ireland with the first name of Michael but his family moved to Limerick when he was young, strangely enough he went with them. When he moved to the United States in 1952 he changed his first name to Fitz-James.
He wrote for a number of periodicals including Harper’s Magazine, Vanity Fair and the Atlantic Monthly. It was to the Atlantic Monthly he sent The Diamond Lens and The Wonder Smith. What Was It seems to have short stories with everything in speculative fiction except for science fiction.
As he had robots in his texts I do wonder how much influence he had on Isaac Asimov. I have done a little googling to try and check my theory but I think I’d something rather more detailed than the articles I found.
Yes, I know this is Doug Naylor and Rob Grant, just deal with it. This writing duo write well separately but together they are dynamite. The Robert Llewellyn who played Kryten in Red Dwarf complained about the writing and how challenging it was to memorise as it was
so unique and so free of cliches that a long Kryten speech is very hard to learn.
When I have learned other people’s scripts, I have found there is usually a turn of phrase or a sentence structure that you recognize and you already have at your disposal. It’s therefore fairly easy to learn as you almost know it already, you only have to memorize it in order.
With Kryten talk, this is never the case. Rob and Doug will never use a hackneyed turn of phrase, they always come up with new ways of saying something.
a nice illustration from Robert Llewellyn’s autobiography The Man in the Rubber Mask. You know he married an Australian woman – Llewellyn, not Grant or Naylor.
I first came across Red Dwarf on TV when the kids were young and on their way to bed. The TV was on, I was walking past and there’s this strange show I didn’t get. Then comes season III and the screen showed some extremely strange stuff, I’m sitting there going ‘how did they do that?’ The episode was called Backwards and it needs to be seen to be believed before I knew I was a regular watcher eventually buying all the DVDs and books. The photos show what I have on hand, I seem to be missing some books as I’ve lent them out and they’ve not been boomerangs.
Buying time. Booktopia has Last Human for sale. Be careful when searching for Red Dwarf on Booktopia (or anywhere else) as you’ll get lots of hits, many of them scientific. The Man in the Rubber Mask, he’s written some other stuff but this is the best. Angus and Robertson have the whole set of DVDs, borrow from the video shop before buying the whole lot just in case you don’t like them. Angus and Robertson also have Fat by Rob Grant, a futuristic look at losing weight, I didn’t bring it off the shelf but I do have it, intriguing and thought provoking.