FANAC: Science Fiction History Online!

Science fiction fandom has been publishing its own zines for over 80 years.  Joe Siclari has not been collecting it for that long, but he has been working to get fannish materials (fanzines, convention programs, photos) online for nearly 25 years.  Here’s a sample of the latest fanac.org has online, with help from Edie Stern and Mark Olson (and this time, Kerry Kyle):

Many zines from the 1930s provided by Kerry Kyle and scanned by Joe Siclari:

Issue 1 of the Fantasy Amateur from 1937, the official organ of the Fantasy Amateur Press Association (FAPA).http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/FAPA/FAPA01-01.html FAPA is the oldest and longest running fan APA. Check out the membership list on page 3. It’s a who’s who of the era. First editor? Fred Pohl.

Issue 2 of the Jack Baltadonis fanzine, Fantasy Herald.http://www.fanac.org/…/Fantasy_Her…/Fantasy_Herald02-01.html Hecto!

Issue 12 of the International Observer of Science and Science Fiction.http://www.fanac.org/fa…/Int_Observer/Int_Observer12-cv.html Editors were John Michel, Fred Pohl and Donald A. Wollheim.

Issue 1 of The Atom, a 1937 fanzine by Richard Wilson.http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Atom/Atom01-01.html

Arcturus 8 from 1936.http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Arcturus/Arcturus08-01.html

Issue 1 of James Taurasi’s Cosmic Tales Quarterly (1937).http://www.fanac.org/f…/Cosmic_Tales/Cosmic_Tales01-cvr.html

Issue 1 of the Bulletin of the Leeds Science Fiction League. After a few issues, news of Leeds was to be found in the Futurian.http://www.fanac.org/…/Bulletin_Le…/Bulletin_Leeds01-01.html

Issue 1 of Weir’s Fantasmagoria (1937). http://www.fanac.org/…/Fantasmagoria/Fantasmagoria01-01.html

We’ve added several issues of Joe Siclari’s Fanhistorica. http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Fanhistorica/ Included are articles from luminaries such as Bob Tucker, Ray Nelson, Walt Willis and Alva Rogers and the true story of Baycon in Ginjer Buchanan’s “I’ve Had No Sleep and I Must Giggle.” You’ll also find 2 parts of the reprint of F. Tower Laney’s Ah! Sweet Idiocy! http://www.fanac.org/fa…/Fanhistorica/Fanhistorica02-05.html

George Phillies sent us a PDF of the July 2017 issue of The National Fantasy Fan Federation’s Tightbeam, edited by Bob Jennings.http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Tightbeam/ Thanks George.

We have added the latest issue of the Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society’s newsletter The MT Void, Vol. 36, No. 2, that was sent to us by Mark and Evelyn Leeper. http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/MT_Void/MT_Void-3602.html Thank you both

Newszines today. We’ve added 7 issues of Fandom on Parade, a cardzine from 1945. Sample headline? STATEMENT BY SHAW: “Yes, DAW’s sueing us” . http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/FanParade/ Scanning by Joe Siclari.

More issues of Greg and Jim Benford’s VOID! You can now read online issues 11, 12, and 13. http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/VOID/ Scanning by Joe Siclari.

We also have more newszines today. There are 5 issues from the early 60s of the British newszine by Ron Bennett, Skyrack,
http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Skyrack/ along with the last issue of Mike Ward’s Winnie. http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Winnie/ There’s also issue 151 of Ansible. http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Ansible/Ansible151-01.html

We have updated the Fanac Names Cross Reference. There are currently 24,889 names in these listings. http://www.fanac.org/names.html

Dale Speirs sent us PDFs of issues #34.5 (5.3 MB), #35.1 (5.1 MB), and #383 (8.7 MB) of his perzine Opuntia.http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Opuntia/ Thanks Dale.

More fan news of WWII. Today, we added 25 issues of FanewsCard from 1944 and 1945. Most of them are issues between #64 and #91.http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/FanewsCard/ All scanning thanks to Joe Siclari. Thanks Joe!

One more issue of Andrew Porter’s Degler too. It’s #252,http://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Degler/Degler252-01.html and scanning is by Mark Olson.

Confluence 2017 Restaurant Guide: Restaurants Between Robinson Township and the Airport

Most of the restaurants fall into three areas: Thorn Run Crossing near the Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport at 1160 Thorn Run Rd (Area 1), University Blvd (Area 2) and Robinson Town Centre/The Pointe, the shopping area where Routes 22 and 60 intersect (Area 3).

Recommended Restaurants

  • Hyeholde Restaurant 1516 Coraopolis Heights Rd. (near Area 1), 412-264-3116, 4pm-9pm Mon-Thur, 5pm-10pm Sat: For an elegant meal out, great wine list hyeholde.com
  • Maxime’s Mediterranean 937 Beaver Grade Rd., Ste 5 (Area 1) 412-269-0111 11am-10pm sandwiches, salads maximesfresh.com
  • Eggs’N’At 8556 University Blvd. (Area 2), 412-262-2920, 7am-2pm: Eggs, burritos, apple strudel pancakes! eggsnat.com
  • Selma’s Texas BBQ 9155 University Blvd. (Area 2), 412-329-7003, 11am-8pm Mon-Sat, noon-6pm Sun: six kinds of BBQ, sides selmasbbq.com
  • Burgatory 300 McHolme Dr. (Area 3), 412-809-9400, 11am-10pm: Excellent burgers, snacks, drinks. burgatorybar.com
  • Papaya 210 McHolme, 412-494-3366, 11am-3:30pm 4:30pm-10pm M-F, noon-10pm Sat-Sun Excellent Thai papayathaicuisineandsushibar.com/30364
  • Industry Public House 140 Andrew Dr. (Area 3), 412-490-9080, 11am-2am: Brunch, gourmet popcorn, beer industrypgh.com
  • Ya Fei 1980 Park Manor Blvd., 412-788-9388, 11:30am-9pm Mon-Sat. 1pm-9pm Sun: Pan-Asian, sushi http://www.yafeipittsburgh.com/menu.aspx
  • DeLuca’s Diner 1110 Park Manor Blvd. (Area 3), 412-788-1007, 7am-3pm Mon-Sun: Massive breakfasts! delucasdiner.com
  • Bakd 6520 Steubenville (Area 3), 412-788-2253, 11am-mid F/Sat 11am-9pm Sun: Pizza, Italian food, beer, full bar bakdpizza.com
  • Mad Mex 2 Robinson Plaza (on Route 60 near Area 3), 412-494-5656, 11am-11pm: Huge burritos, great chips & salsa, beer madmex.com

All the rest of the Restaurants    

(Area 1):  Within a Half Mile of the Sheraton

Sheraton (Con Hotel)  Link@Sheraton Cafe breakfast, lunch, dinner and Starbucks Kiosk 6am-11pm  sheratonpittsburghairport.com

Casa Amigo 333 Rouser Rd, Bld 4, 412-264-0800, 11am-11pm Mon-Sun  Mexican/tequila casaamigospgh.com/contact

Take a left from hotel to Thorn Run Rd, walk past Post Office. Bruegger’s & back entrance to Thorn Run Crossing up street on left

  • Bruegger’s Bagels 1134 Thorn Run Rd. Ext., 412-264-2243, 6am-6pm: Bagels & sandwiches of all kinds  brueggers.com
  • Kip’s Ice Cream, 1136 Thorn Run Rd. Ext., 412-269-7457, noon-10pm:     facebook.com/kipshomemadeicecream/
  • Subway 1136 Thorn Run Rd. Ext., 412-264-6655, 8am-9pm: Breakfast, sandwiches & salad subway.com
  • Hunan Chinese 1136 Thorn Run Rd. Ext., 412-262-1322, 11am-10pm Fri, noon-10pm Sat, closed Sun: Chinese  hunanmoonpa.com
  • Pizza Bella 1136 Thorn Run Rd. Ext., 412-299-1990, 10:30am-10pm, noon-10pm Sun: Pizza, wings, hoagies  moonpizzabella.com
  • Armstrong’s 1136 Thorn, 412-262-9355, 11am-10pm Fri-Sat, noon-8pm Sun: Italian allmenus.com/pa/moon/28744-armstrongs/menu

(Area 2):  Left on Beaver Grade Road, Moon Township

Take a left onto Thorn Run Rd, Ext, then another left in 1/4 mile onto Beaver Grade Rd.  After about 1.5 miles, you’ll intersect University.

  • Vocelli’s 935 Beaver Grade Rd., 412-269-1993, 11am-10pm Sun-Thur, 11am-mid Fri-Sat: Pizza carryout vocellipizza.com/moontwp_pa
  • Mario’s Italian 935 Beaver Grade Rd., 412-262-3020, 5pm-10pm Mon-Sat: Northern Italian, seafood  mariosfamilyrestaurant.com
  • Forgotten Taste Pierogies 910 Beaver Grade Rd., 412-269-9800, 11am-6pm Mon-Sat:  Eastern European carryout     forgottentaste.com
  • AJ Bambino Pizzeria 910 Beaver Grade Rd., 412-299-8590, 10am-3am Fri-Sat, noon-mid Sun:  Pizza, pasta, gyros   ajbambino.com
  • Dunkin’ Donuts  830 Beaver Grade Rd., 412-474-3245, 5am-mid: Donuts, coffee, sandwiches   dunkindonuts.com

Starbucks, Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, K-Mart, Kuhn’s groceries, Dollar Bank on right just before University Boulevard.

(Area 2):  Left on Beaver Grade Rd, Right on University Boulevard, Moon Township

  • Kiyoshi Bistro 6506 University Blvd., 11am-10:30pm, 412- 269-2677: Chinese special, sushi. bar  kiyoshibistro.com
  • Buford’s Kitchen 5980 University, 412-269-0644, 11am-10pm Mon-Fri, 8am-9pm Sat-Sun:  Southern food/burgers  bufordskitchen.com
  • Giant Eagle 5990 University, 412-264-3856, 7am-11pm: Groceries, pharmacy, beer, Pizza Roma, Brighton Hot Dog, Wine & Spirits
  • PNC Bank, Burger King, 6052 University Blvd. (parking lot of the Giant Eagle plaza)

(Area 2):  Left on Beaver Grade Rd, Left on University Boulevard, Moon Township

  • Bob Evans 8405 University Blvd., 412-269-0333, 6am-9pm: Great breakfasts, large portions, salads, sandwiches  bobevans.com
  • Pizza Hut 8609 University Blvd., 412-264-4423, 11am-11pm: Pizza, pasta, wings            pizzahut.com
  • Primanti Brothers 8651 University Blvd.,  412-865-2200. 11am-2am: Large sandwiches with fries & slaw, beer  primantibros.com
  • Wendy’s 8703 University Blvd., 412-264-4343, 10am-1am: Burgers, salads  wendys.com
  • Wings Suds & Spuds 8806 University, 412-264-1866, 11am-mid Tue-Sat, noon-10am Sun: wingssudsspuds.dev.dexhub.dexmedia.com
  • Arby’s 9100 University Blvd., 412-264-3830, 10am-mid: Roast beef sandwiches, milkshakes    arbys.com
  • Eat ’n’ Park 9526 University Blvd., 412-264-7201, 24 hours:  Breakfast buffet      eatnpark.com
  • Hilton Garden Inn, 9600 University Blvd., 412-205-5400 Bar has some unique local beer     hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com/

When University Boulevard ends at the lights, take a left to go to The Pointe (Area 3) and, eventually, Pittsburgh.

(Area 3): 376 East, Right at top of Robinson Town Centre/Pointe/North Fayette Township Ramp

From Route 376, take the Robinson Town Centre/The Pointe exit, turn right at the end of the ramp to reach these restaurants:

  • Quaker Steak and Lube 110 Andrew Dr., 412-494-3344, 11am-11pm:  Award-winning wings, burgers, bar food. thelube.com
  • Tilted Kilt 120 Andrew Dr., 412-494-5458, 11am-11pm:  Steaks/burgers.     tiltedkilt.com/robinson    
  • Max & Erma’s 130 Andrew Dr., 412-787-7000, 11am-10pm:  Pub food, burgers, salads, good desserts.  maxandermas.com
  • Uncle Sam’s Classic Subs 225 Summit Park Dr., 412-788-4782, 10:30am-9pm: Philly cheesesteak  unclesamssubs.com    Starbucks   
  • Bravo! Cucina Italiana 211 Summit Park Dr., 412-809-9115, 11am-11pm: Italian food.    bravoitalian.com
  • Jimmy John’s 401 Home Dr., 412-809-8000: 11am-10pm: Sandwiches   jimmyjohns.com
  • Buffalo Wild Wings 480 Home Dr., 412-788-9464, 11am-mid Sun-Thu 11am-1am Fri-Sat: Appetizers NTN   buffalowildwings.com
  • El Campesino 460 Home Dr., 412-787-2225, 11am-10pm Mon-Sat noon-9pm Sun: Large Mexican menu elcampesinorestaurant.com

(Area 3): 376 East, Straight at top of Robinson Town Centre/Pointe/North Fayette Township Ramp

  • Cracker Barrel 200 Davis Blvd. (near Lowe’s), 412-788-1103, 6am-10pm:  Breakfast, lunch & dinner, loads of sides   crackerbarrel.com
  • Panera 250 McHolme Dr. (behind Pier One), 412-747-0460, 6:30am-9pm, Sun 8am-8pm: Pastries, soups, free WiFi      panera.com
  • Chipotle 300 McHolme Dr., 412-787-3227,  11am-10pm Mon-Fri/Sun, noon-10pm Sat:  Burritos, tacos   chipotle.com
  • Firehouse Subs  320 McHolme Dr., 412-788-4070, 10:30am-9pm: Subs          firehousesubs.com
  • Five Guys 324 McHolme Dr., 412-788-5777,  11am-10pm: Burgers, fries          fiveguys.com

(Area 3): 376 East, Left at top of Robinson Town Centre/Pointe/North Fayette Township Ramp

  • Chick-fil-a 121 Costco Dr, 412-490-0177, 6:30am-10pm, closed Sunday: Chicken sandwiches, salads, breakfast.  chick-fil-a.com
  • Costco 202 Costco Dr., 412-490-2204, open 10am: Great place to buy party supplies.  GFS Marketplace/Aldi’s nearby.
  • Plaza Azteca, 1000 Sutherland Dr., 412-787-8888, open 11am-10pm Mon-Sat, noon-9:30pm Sun:  Mexican  plazaazteca.com
  • International House of Pancakes 1002 Sutherland Dr.,  412-859-0282, 24 hours: Pancakes & more pancakes   ihop.com
  • The Mall at Robinson 100 Robinson Ctr. Dr., 412-788-0816 10am-9pm Mon-Sat, 11am-6pm Sun: Free WiFi, Little Tokyo
  • Buca di Beppo 6600 Robinson Ctr. Dr., 412-788-8444, 11am-10pm: Family-style Italian, lasagna, ravioli       bucadibeppo.com
  • Joe’s Crab Shack 6491 Robinson Ctr. Dr., 412-494-5444, 11am-11pm Sun-Thu, 11am-1am Fri-Sat:  Crabs & mallets  joescrabshack.com
  • Cold Stone Creamery 6509 Robinson Ctr. Dr., 412-788-8380, 11am-10pm: Variety of ice cream & yogurt  coldstonecreamery.com
  • Golden Corral, 900 Park Manor Blvd., 412-788-1776, breakfast 7:30-11, lunch/dinner 11-10:  Buffet restaurant  goldencorral.com
  • Beer – House of Brews 1928 Park Manor Blvd., 412-787-5070, 9:30am-9:30pm Mon-Sat, 11am-6pm Sun: twitter.com/houseofbrewspgh
  • Ichiban Hibachi Steakhouse 1160 Park Manor Blvd., 412-787-1999, 1pm-9pm Sat-Sun: Japanese      ichibanhibachisteakhouse.com

It’s less than a half hour to drive to Pittsburgh, now one of the best restaurant cities in America. Recommended:  Altius, Poros, City Beer Works, Eleven, Six Penn, Le Lyonnais, Soba, Gaucho Parole, Braddock’s American Brasserie, Spoon, Emporio, Nicky’s Thai Kitchen, Nine on Nine, and Butcher & the Rye are all worth the trip. tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g53449-Pittsburgh_Pennsylvania.html

Speculations on Game of Thrones [[Full of Spoilers]]

While I’d been aware of George Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” for many years, I never read the books. I loved “Lord of the Rings” but generally didn’t like epic fantasy.

I watched the first year of the series anyway and absolutely loved it, aside from the violence. It was much more grounded in European history as a model than I’d expected. I read all the books in the fall of 2011, giving up quickly on the sea king stuff which was really boring (and I’m so glad HBO left that subplot out).

From the very first episode, I felt it was a lie that Jon Snow was Ned Stark’s bastard. I always felt Jon Snow was Lyanna & Robert’s child, particularly late in season one when we kept hearing “The seed is strong.” Jon looks more like a child of Robert’s than a child of Ned’s with his very dark, unruly hair, though he behaved more like a Stark with his stubbornness and love of honor. I’m still kind of annoyed that he’s part Targaryean as he looks nothing like any Targaryean we’ve seen up ’til now.

I generally enjoyed the first episode of season seven. The only thing that struck me as kind of odd was the relative quietness of King’s Landing. I think there would have been a revolt by the people who were left after the explosion at the Sept. The scenes showing Sam’s tribulations went way, way too long. Loved the quiet scenes with Arya and the soldiers [Ed Sheeran was fine in that scene, and, frankly, after everything Masie Williams has been through on camera the last few years, give the girl a chance to flirt a little will ya?] and the Brotherhhood and the Hound. Loved the rallying cry of Lady Mormont about training the girls for war.

I’m still not sure who will wind up on the Iron Throne, but I don’t think Cersei will be able to hold it for long. Not sure whether Tyrion or Jamie will ultimately kill her, since it is fortold she will be killed by a younger brother.

Other comments on some of the characters:

Arya: doomed, probably this year. It’s one thing to murder Walter Frey & even his two sons, but taking out a whole hall of them (about half of Cersei’s body count from blowing up the Sept) is bound to make people angry. I think it’ll come down to John’s sense of honor requiring him to execute her. Arya was my favorite character, but she’s too dangerous to stay alive. She has great abilities but still very little discipline.

Bran: will probably live until a battle involving dragons. I think he’ll be able to control a dragon, and he might help to win a war against the White Walkers. It almost looks like the Westeros intra-kingdom warfare will be concurrent with the war against the White Walkers and we won’t know who will wind up on the Iron Throne until next year.

Good Quotes: Choose Your Leaders with Wisdom…

Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.
— Octavia Butler, Parable of the Talents, 1998
I am glad that this observation by Butler was rediscovered and popularized during the beginning of the 45/bannon/putin/pence/kusher regime as it really fit.

The Wonder of Wonder Woman

Months ago, I had very mixed feelings about going to see the Wonder Woman movie. I was never a big Wonder Woman fan in the first place. I’d read the comics sometimes in the ’60s, watched the amusing Lynda Carter show in the ’70s but was never really into it. I was really sick to death of the current Marvel and DC comic movies – the Marvel movies were no longer very funny and the last good DC-related movie was probably Batman back in the late ’80s.

I always liked heroic, smart and/or very inquisitive women. Give me someone like Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird, Harriet from the Harriet the Spy books, Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings, Princess Leia from the Star Wars movies, Ripley from the Alien movies (at least the first 2 movies), Lizzie from Pride and Prejudice, Marie Curie from history, Eleanor Roosevelt from history (who, on surface, was not overly heroic, but she really learned to be over time).

A few years ago, I’d run into some interesting info on Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (while I don’t think I ever met her, her lovely Dad Frank had been my guidance counselor in high school so I’ve watched her career with interest). Fascinating that Wonder Woman had some real life inspiration from suffragettes and probably Margaret Sanger! Growing up, I’d found Wonder Woman kind of irritating for the overly brief costume and a bit much emphasis on her physic. But she was quite strong, even in the old days. The current brand of superhero movies were just getting too bombastic with no plot and very bloated and endless fight scenes. So I figured I’d give the new movie a pass.

And then I started seeing the trailer for the new Wonder Woman movie. It was an impressive two minutes. Interesting photography, athletic leaping about, some humor…maybe this would be good. I’d always hated the slow motion in movies like The Matrix but the use of slomo in the trailer made sense for Wonder Woman.

So I went on the first day. I went on about one hour of sleep, so during the first hour of the movie, i dozed off periodically and missed a few points. The theater wasn’t terribly full for a 12:30 show, but it had more than the 10-20 you often see during the first show on a Friday. I did manage to stay awake through most of the second half and really enjoyed most of it. The scene where Wonder Woman rose out of the trenches and ran across the battlefield was extremely moving on many levels.

There were at least two backward-nods to “Great Famous Feminist Moments in Movies and/or Books.” The scene I mentioned featuring Diana racing across “No Man’s Land” just screamed the famous moment from Return of the King where Eowyn rips off her helmet, yells “I am no man!” and kills the Witch King (with help from another “non-man,” Merry). The other moment was a little quieter and I missed it during it first time I saw the movie as I was sleeping. But I went again on Saturday with my family. There’s that amusing scene when Diana and Steve talk on the boat, and she explains that she understands about pleasure seemed like a shout out to Teri Garr’s famous comment in Tootsie “I’m responsible for my own orgasm.”

The action scenes were all well-shot, and there was always enough character development and dialog to keep the movie interesting. Strong photography, effects, costumes, production development, acting, script – this is probably the best comic-based action movie I’ve ever seen, though I’m still debating between Wonder Woman and the ’78 Superman. I ranked it an 8 on IMDB. Congratulations to Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot & the rest of the crew – you did a great job!!

MY ONE BIG QUIBBLE WITH THE MOVIE


I had such hope that maybe, just maybe, the 20 minutes of bloated fighting at the end of every action movie would not happen in Wonder Woman. When Diana killed the German general, I nearly stood up and cheered. But then she realized that even though she thought she’d killed Ares, the war was going on…because the war-mongering general was not Ares, but someone more behind-the-scenes was…which, after a few minutes of interesting discussion about how Ares worked, launched into about a 15 minute-long boated fight scene. Oh well, at least it seemed a little shorter than usual, and the bits that featured Steve added some real pathos to the ending.


2017-08-23: I’ve now paid to see the movie in the theater four times. The last time I did that, was to see Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Except for a bit much action towards the end, I think the movie is terrific and it’s my favorite movie of the year.

No Longer the World’s Slowest Blog is a periodic blog with comments on a variety of topics. http://www.dpsinfo.com/blog

Honeymooning with Wookiees – A Star Wars Story (sort of)


Originally Published in Collision (University of Pittsburgh), Spring 2001

While my husband, Jim, may be the only man in America who can recite his wedding anniversary date without any wifely intervention, he calculates the date in a truly unique manner: “Star Wars premiered on Wednesday, May 25, 1977. We got married three days before that; so, we must have gotten married on Sunday, May 22, 1977.”

I am not making this up. My husband has always remembered the date of the Star Wars premiere more readily than that of his own wedding. It’s very strange, because neither of us have generally paid attention to popular trends. We might have been in college during the ’70s, but we hated disco passionately and anything else that was even marginally trendy.

We even met at the least trendy location of 1975 — at a science fiction club meeting. When most people heard the term “sci-fi fan,” they thought of pale, glassy-eyed, pimply adolescent boys with Mr. Spock pointy ears and a plastic pocket protector filled with ballpoints. Now, it’s true that there was (and still is) a subset of fans who fit that description, though usually the ones with the plastic pocket protectors are generally not wearing Spock ears at the same time. But most of us, while pale and maybe pimply, wouldn’t be caught dead with pointed ears or pocket protectors; we just read science fiction and talked incessantly. We loved the robots of Issac Asimov, the world-building of Frank Herbert, and gender-bending of Ursula K. Le Guin. We spent many hours in conversation over books, computer kits (back in the ’70s, you had to mail order the pieces for a primitive computer and assemble it yourself), movies, getting to Mars by the end of the century, and getting to the next convention by the end of next month.

I met Jim when he was a junior at Carnegie Mellon University and I was a wide-eyed freshman. He was of medium height, medium weight, with a mass of black hair, hazel eyes, glasses and a moustache. He looked so Black-Irish I practically expected him to break out in “Oh Danny Boy,” but any musical ability missed his branch of the family. Other than the glasses, we shared no physical characteristics at all, as I was more of a mushy Nordic type. He tended to be quiet and bookish — one of the smartest people I’d ever met. No one has ever accused me of being quiet.

While Jim was quiet in groups of more than two, I had some great conversations with him alone. We started talking at club meetings and conventions. Eventually, we started having two-hour long phone conversations, ending only when one of Jim’s younger brothers took the phone away by force. At first, we had nothing in common other than a mutual love of reading. Jim and I were from wholly different backgrounds, religious upbringings, and parts of the country. I was living on campus, and he was commuting to college from his home. But, the more we kept talking, the more we found we had in common. We both loved the films of Mel Brooks and Stanley Kubrick; in fact, going to see Barry Lyndon was our first real date. We both hated the Bee Gees (who later scored Saturday Night Fever) and Donna Summer (the “Disco Queen”) and loved the Moody Blues and the Beatles. Within a few weeks, we realized it wasn’t just the conversation we loved, it was each other. By the end of my freshman year, Jim and I were engaged and were planning to get married after Jim’s graduation in May 1977.

So we bucked another ’70s trend — we planned to get married in our very early twenties without a job, a house, a car or even our own TV. To save money during the next school year, Jim continued living at home and I shared an apartment with three other women (one of whom is now known as the science fiction writer Brenda Clough). We never registered anywhere while we were engaged, because we needed everything, and we had high hopes of getting usefulhouse wares. We did not need or want a metal ice bucket with matching tongs or a fondue set; we got both anyway. Despite our anti-trendy natures, our honeymoon landed smack in the middle of one of the biggest fads of the late ’70s. There was no way to avoid Star Wars, even if we wanted to.

Over Labor Day weekend of 1976, Jim and I went to Kansas City, MO to attend the World Science Fiction Convention. The Worldcon was, in the ’70s, the largest SF con of the year. Nearly 3,000 science fiction fans, writers, artists and publishers invaded the city, just three weeks after the Republican National Convention had taken over the city to nominate Gerald Ford as its candidate for president. Downtown hadn’t quite recovered from that onslaught of middle-aged, upper-middle class Americans yet. “Welcome, Republicans” signs still adorned many downtown shops and many of the exhausted hotel, shop and restaurant employees were on vacation.

No one confused us with Republicans though. We science fiction fans were mostly young and favored long hair, blue jeans and silly T-shirts. At three in the morning, the only open coffee shop in downtown was filled with fans, cops, and hookers — cops mostly ignored us. The hookers, though, were decidedly unhappy with us. Turns out they got little business from us; we weren’t a group that ever had to pay for sex (unlike the Republicans, apparently).

Jim and I wandered around the Muehlbach, the grand old hotel where the Worldcon took place. It was a scene of “cultural disconnect” — people talking about L5 in ’95 (a project promoting a large commercial space station at Lagrange point 5 by 1995) and about the future of space travel in function rooms decorated with velveteen wallpaper, electric candle sconces and faux Louis XIV furniture. We spent many hours in the book dealer’s room, Jim’s favorite convention haunt, where about 250 booksellers had thousands of new, used, and rare books for sale. I particularly enjoyed the art show, with its varied display of the science fiction and fantasy paintings.

“Hey, let’s try to find the room with the movie exhibit,” Jim suggested. “I think it’s down this hallway over here.”

We wandered into the out-of-the way ballroom and found about forty black and white photographs on the wall. “Who are these people?” I asked, looking at some of the pictures of the cast. “I’ve heard of Carrie Fisher — her mom is Debbie Reynolds — but who is Harrison Ford?”

“No idea… I’ve never heard of Mark Hamill either.” It turned out Hamil was so anonymous in September 1976 that he was even at the Worldcon and no one noticed.

“He looks too short to be a space hero. And what’s this giant bear with a laser?” I asked.

“Probably some alien.”

“I know that, but a giant, furry bear? That just seems way too hokey. It looks like they don’t take SF at all seriously. It looks like something out of Buck Rogers”

“Or Duck Dodgers.” Jim laughed.

“Oh great. I just want a serious science fiction movie for a change. Not another Sleeper. Not another Young Frankenstein. Just something that’s both science fictional and serious.”

Jim zeroed in on the spaceship models, in clear plastic cubes in the center of the room. These models lacked the sleekness of typical movie spaceships. They had all kinds of indentations of protrusions. “The ships look pretty good though. Hollywood always forgets that ships in space can be any shape, they don’t have to look like airplanes or rockets,” he said.

“Yeah, but no one’s done decent space ships or special effects since 2001, A Space Odyssey. Now that was a science fiction movie for adults. It wasn’t silly. Star Wars looks like it’s gonna be for kids.”

Before we left the movie exhibit, a suited young man (obviously a studio flunky, no one else wore suits to SF cons) gave us copies of the preliminary poster. The initial poster was very purple, with characters fighting with shocking pink swords. Weird.

[Parenthetical remark from 2017 – This poster is showing up as a Star Wars poster from 1976 online. However this was not the poster they gave out at MidAmeriCon 76. There were definitely characters having a light saber fight in the background and Chewie was a bit more prominent. If anyone can supply a scan of the 1976 Star Wars poster that was distributed at MidAmeriCon, please send me one.]

I didn’t hold out much hope that Star Wars would be any good. Not that I worried about it much. We were busy with school and planning our wedding — not overly concerned about a movie whose premiere was a year away. But along about Thanksgiving, we started seeing posters for the movie in theaters. They were radically different from the poster we’d seen the previous summer. Skinny Mark Hamill had a pumped-up chest, biceps, and his shirt was split down to the navel. Short Carrie Fisher looked tall and willowy with her flowing white dress split almost up to the navel. Harrison Ford and the giant hairy bear were nowhere to be seen.


We stared at the poster in amazement. “I hate when the characters on the posters don’t look anything the actors who played them. Marketing.” I sighed.

“Oh, they’re trying to sex-up the movie. Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” Jim smiled.

Finally, school was over, Jim was graduated, and we took the midnight train to my home in Massachusetts and tied the proverbial knot. Our wedding went off very well — one of the few times in our lives when the “marketing” of the event actually lived up to the hype. It was sunny and very, very bright. So bright that it hit 96 degrees that afternoon, more beach weather than wedding weather. It felt strange to be well-dressed, among our very well-dressed family and friends. But, it felt wonderful to be married — even without a job, a house, a car, or a TV. The ceremony was in a church, and the reception was in an estate with a blooming garden nearby. The pianist played classical music as a background to the eating, drinking and talking.

Everyone fully enjoyed themselves. For me, though, early married life turned out to be a little ragged around the edges. My wisdom teeth ached, so I grimaced a more than a bride normally does. On the morning after our wedding, we found that someone had tried to break into the car we had borrowed.

Once we got back to Pittsburgh, our honeymoon was spent moving into our first apartment. For $75, we bought furniture from a guy who had just been sent up for cocaine possession. I nervously checked the couch and chair cushions for “leftovers,” not wanting to follow him to jail. I spent the next day in bed with the most horrific case of menstrual cramps I’d ever had, leaving Jim to move his books and clothing from his mother’s apartment to ours alone. ‘What a honeymoon!’ I thought, as I curled up in fetal position.

The next day, I helped with the unpacking. Jim’s uncle loaned us a little black and white TV, and I had it on in the background as I resumed arranging the bedroom. There was a constant bombardment of commercials for Star Wars.

We’d arranged to meet some friends from our science fiction club to go to see Star Wars for its premiere that night. After a long day of moving the last of the stuff into the apartment, we got cleaned up and drove out to the Brown Derby in the far east suburbs of Pittsburgh. During dinner, our friends presented us with a set of pots and pans — the only practical cookware we had gotten from anybody. Another friend, who’d taken photos at the wedding, gave us with an album filled with photos, which we gleefully showed off. When we brought the cookware and album out to the car, we noticed the massive line outside the neighboring movie theater. It was for Star Wars.

We managed to get into the show, but it soon completely sold out. Ticket sellers gave all the people attending the first day’s shows a button that said, “May the force be with you.”

After nearly a year of just hearing about Star Wars, there it was in all its cinematic glory. The movie had come a long way from 40 black and white photographs and a couple of large spaceship models. We stayed still in our seats from the second those evocative words “Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away…” appeared on the screen, oblivious to the aroma of popcorn or the call of the restroom. Text crawled up and into the screen; text crawls hadn’t appeared in a movie in over twenty five years, since the time of the Saturday afternoon serials. We saw a spaceship darting into the center of the screen, pursued by a much, much, MUCH bigger, obviously more dangerous, spaceship looming overhead. It was a jaw-dropping shot. We quickly lost any reservations about the movie. We were quite taken by the special effects, the cast, the music, and yes, even the wookiee. We were hooked. We even applauded at the end, even though we realized that George Lucas had half-manipulated us into doing so because an audience onscreen was also applauding at the end.

When we left the movie theater, there was an even more massive line for the later showings. On TV the next day, there was someone from the cast or crew talking about what an instant phenomenon this movie had become. When I went to the store, I heard random people having the following conversations:

“Have you seen Star Wars yet? Wasn’t that great? Didn’t you just love the droids? Weren’t the Imperial Stormtroopers just awful shots?”

I was amazed.

“Wasn’t the scene in the giant trash compacter gross? Do you think Ford and Hamill will ever learn to act? Weren’t those spaceships neat?”

Americans had never gone to science fiction films in huge numbers, not even to the classic 2001. The top-grossing movies for two generations had been Gone with the Wind and The Sound of Music, until Jaws was launched on the American public two years before.

Within weeks, Star Wars was the top-grossing film of all time. Suddenly, science fiction was a fad. And, by virtue of being fans, we were…trendy. The slogan of science fiction fans had always been, “It is a sad and lonely thing to be a fan.” How could science fiction, with its fandom ever comprised of outsiders, be smack in the middle of a cultural phenomenon?

Meanwhile, our mostly untraditional honeymoon was drawing to a close. We were finally doing something traditional — we were going to take a short trip to Washington. Well, it wasn’t strictly traditional honeymoon trip since we were going to attend a science fiction convention.

The conversation among fans at the convention was not much different than it had been among the general public.

“Have you seen Star Wars yet? Wasn’t that great? Didn’t you just love the droids? Weren’t the Imperial Stormtroopers just awful shots? What about those matte paintings?!”

It was a rotten week to try to brag about your wedding or show off pictures, even to your fannish friends. If it didn’t have spaceships and aliens, no one wanted to hear about it.

“Wasn’t the scene in the giant trash compacter gross? Do you think Ford and Hamill will ever learn to act? Weren’t those spaceships neat? No, the movie was ruined for me when I noticed the planets around Tattoine were within Roche’s limit.”

One of the few people in fandom who didn’t like the movie complained bitterly about that obscure bit of astronomical trivia. He insisted, “The moons should have been rings since they were so close to the planet.” And that ruined his enjoyment of the movie. Well, his was a different perspective; we’d admired the filmmaking so much we hadn’t noticed that the science was a bit fluffy in places.

Almost no one in fandom openly enjoyed Star Wars as much as our friend Gardner. The movie hadn’t been out for a week yet, but Gardner had already seen it three times. He particularly loved the wookiee, I suspect because Gardner was a wookiee — he was very tall, very broad, had a very loud voice, and extremely long blond hair. We sat with Gardner and a bunch of other people at a party in a hotel room, talking about Star Wars. Between taking long drinks of beer, Gardner exploded with wookiee imitations. “WOOOHHHFF,” he’d cry, threading his fingers together behind his head, then leaning his head back, self-satisfied. He made so much noise that people scurried in from the other room, expecting to see that someone had smuggled a noisy dog into the party.

“Do it again, Gardner,” I’d giggle, leaning back on Jim’s shoulder as Gardner kept up the noise.

“Now all we need is a holographic war game,” Jim sighed.

“But we’d have to let the wookiee win.”

Gardner leapt to his feet. “I think I’ll go to the midnight show, you guys wanna come along?” he asked. It was not quite 10:00, but he knew what the lines were like.

Jim gave me a hug, “Not this time, Gardner. We are on our honeymoon after all.”

I giggled again, “Yeah, and no one is going to believe that we spent our honeymoon with a wookiee.”

Despite our honeymooning with wookiees, both real and cinematic, we’re still married now, in the year of Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, 2001.

Fandom has grayed since the ’80s. Movies like Star Wars and Close Encounters and Alien helped get more people to read science fiction, and there was a real boom in convention attendance from the late ’70s until the mid ’80s. There are now multiple science fiction conventions every weekend around the world. The Worldcon tends to attract about 5,000 people these days, but there are movie-related conventions that attract tens of thousands more. However, instead of going to science fiction club meetings and conventions, today’s young readers gravitate toward media conventions, online role-playing games and anime. Asimov and Herbert have both died, but Le Guin is still writing. A whole host of new writers are creating new worlds and speculating upon life in their fiction. And Gardner, the wookiee, has been the editor of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine for many years. Fandom has “let the wookiee win” many times by presenting him with an unprecedented number of Best Editor Hugo awards.

Jim and I have remained active in science fiction fandom ever since. We have raised our daughter in a household filled with books, TVs, pre-assembled computers and take periodic trips to science fiction conventions. We have spent most of our professional lives doing something long predicted by science fiction and something that’s virtually trendy at the same time — we’ve worked for computer companies.

Related blog post: “Carrie Fisher, Patty Duke & Me”

No Longer the World’s Slowest Blog is a periodic blog with comments on a variety of topics. http://www.dpsinfo.com/blog