Category: ARTS

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Readercon 21, another feast for the mind

Great fun at this year’s Readercon 2010, which left me with plenty of food for thought! My stash was nicely replenished with a few dozens books, including some works by Jack Vance, Mack Reynolds and Tim Powers, whose backlist I’ve been catching up on recently. Speaking of Vance, our friends at StarShipSofa have conducted a fine hour-long interview with him, worthy of a listen. In the dealer’s room, I have to say that Neil Clarke (of Clarkesworld and Wyrm Publishing) had a terrific rack of cheap books, for which I thank him immensely! Neil had a signed copy of the rare Fain the Sorcerer by Steve Aylett, who wrote the really strange biography of SF’s mysterious Lint, among other excursions into the bizarre. Although Neil’s price was really reasonable, it would have cost more than the entire stack of books I purchased at the con… so maybe when I get rich! Dark Hollow books, along with all their fine supernatural horror selection, had a box of 50 cent paperbacks where I scored copies of Moorcock’s Hollow Lands and Fury by Henry Kuttner. Thanks kind people! Also of interest was my conversation with Darrel Schweitzer about my good friend Harry O. Morris. Darrell said that it was Harry O., in his famous Lovecraftian zine Nyctalops, who discovered both the writer Thomas Ligotti and the artist J.K. Potter. Although Harry often mentioned various works by Ligotti and Potter in our conversations, he never once bragged about having “discovered” them, in any sense. So it was really a pleasant surprise to hear those words of recognition from a supernatural horror writer and scholar of Schweitzer’s stature. Disclosure: I suppose Harry O. “discovered” me too, since my teenage participation in various exquisite corpse poems (with Harry O.) and collages (with Leslie Hall) were published in Nyctalops here and there. Caveat: probably “discovery” doesn’t count unless I do something more significant, like publish a novel or painting elsewhere, though, alas…

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Science Fiction Art Editors

Here’s a new resource to augment the Science Fiction Artists Database: the first version of a mind map about Art Editors who worked for Science Fiction Magazines and Book Publishers. The clickable

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Kelly Freas Covers for Lancer Books

Found an interesting copy of L. Ron Hubbard’s Slaves of Sleep at Second Story Books recently. Kelly Freas painted a knock-out cover for this Lancer Books edition, and I was wondering what other gems

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Carlos Ochagavia - Self Portrait (1981)

Just received a copy of _The New Visions, A Collection of Modern Science Fiction Art_ published in 1981. I was was surprised and delighted to find one of the 23 artists featured to be Carlos Ochagavia, and to see not only his self-portrait sketch (below), but also his amazing SF Book Club edition cover painting for Niven and Barnes book, Dream Park. In Ochagavia’s painting (below the fold), what a fantastic and amusingly surreal dragon the anonymous hero is fighting!

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Controversy Erupts at Science Fiction World in China

Trouble at China’s largest (okay, the world’s largest) circulation SF magazine, where the editors have united to publish an “Open Letter of protest” against the editor in chief. Here’s the original:   Open Letter (in Chinese). I’ve translated the Youth Daily news article below: ** “Science Fiction World“ turns into a “pseudo-science farce” as editor’s collective seeks to “overthrow the president”** by: Li Fan  (Youth Daily) 2010-3-23 translated by Lex Berman China’s largest science fiction magazine Science Fiction World, has recently become wracked by infighting. On March 21, the magazine’s entire editorial staff published an open letter on the Internet accusing the publication’s editor-in-chief, Li Chang, of various offenses and seeking his removal from office.  Yesterday, it was learned from relevant channels that the unit in charge of  Science Fiction World (the Sichuan Province Science and Technology Association) has dispatched a team to investigate the sitation. The open letter claims to be written under the “duress of the last banner that can be raised before Science Fiction World ceases to exist.”  Among the accusations leveled at Li Chang were that after taking office he dropped relations with various authors and instead forced the magazine editors to write the stories themselves; he then demanded that the foreign language editors take on the task of translations into Chinese; and went so far as to make the art editors create the illustrations instead of hiring artists.  Also, for example, he interfered with the advertising to the point of replacing the magazine’s cover with an advertisement for a school.

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You lose track of time...

Yes, it’s been a strange week! But thanks to the Mr. Door Tree and his nice posting of Basil Wolverton classics, I think I’ve got my brain back in place.

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New Sketches for Art Show 2010

Having fun preparing for this year’s Boskone Art Show. Of course it’s crazy to hang my crummy sketches alongside the great artists you will see there, but hey let’s face it, I’m not going to be quit

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Arisia 2010: The Editor Writer Relationship

This panel featured Jeanne Cavelos , Joy Marchand , David Nurenberg , Allan Steele and GOH Gardner Dozois , who discussed the relationship between writer and editor in the SF field and how the situation has changed. In their opening remarks, Cavelos related her experience as a senior editor in New York, where she found that the interest editors take in nurturing new authors from unknowns into big names has fallen victim to the push for blockbusters. Today, if an editor is not advocating for a bestseller to the senior editors, to her peers, to the sales division, to the assistant editors and designers she’ll be out of a job. Allen Steele pointed out that short fiction editors still manage to read the submissions they find interesting, and they’ll take the time to send comments back to the author or ask for changes. “Short fiction editors still edit,” said Dozois, “ but at the major publishing houses, who’s in charge? In fact, it’s the sales people who end up canceling book deals.” Nurenberg emphasized how incredibly valuable the feedback he received from games publisher White Wolf was to his career, “like water to a drowning man…“ As that analogy didn’t make much sense, he said, “I mean to a thirsty.” Somehow the object of the verb got lost, but we get the idea!

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Arisia 2010 con report: Barefoot Techno-Fantasy Fest, in a Kilt

[photo by Sean Molloy] At my first Arisia, I found myself weaving through crowds of strangely-coiffed pirates, rocketeers, and gamers; wondering at what point my own personality would intersect with one of those cliques and, at the same time, idly speculating as to which clique it would be. Twisting, turning, and meandering, I wondered if there was any cipher concealed for me in my conversations with Freemasons, swordsmen, and zombies, or a secret buried somewhere in the depths of a prominent decolletage. In the end I was left with an exhilarating sense that something interesting had transpired, and though I could list any number of particulars of the fun things I did, I wasn’t quite sure how it all added up. This year, at my second Arisia, I was more accustomed to the casual ebb and flow, the meaningless randomness of who one might meet at any given moment, and I was more attuned to simply enjoy the dance. Indeed, some of the most startling appearances in 2009 — the stilt-walking woman in tights and razor claws, the body-gloved Harley Quin, and the immaculately nuanced Steampunk ensembles — returned. They were all conspicuously different from last year, but instead of novelty they radiated a pleasant warmth of familiarity. Oh that mischievous stilt-woman! Always scratching and snarling at the Muggles as they float up behind the glass of the atrium elevator! And Harley, the little minx, does one ever tire of contemplating the poses she strikes while strapped into that saucy leather corset, black boots and ragged stockings? [photos by Sean Molloy - http://www.flickr.com/photos/falconn67/] It was equally reassuring to see pieces of last year’s favorites, if not ramped up to full energy, at least lying about here and there like fragments left over from an archaeological dig. The skull-bracketed rocket pack that was flamboyantly posing with a team of rocketeers in ‘09, was this year merely glimpsed abandoned on a table, straps dangling idly alongside. It certainly would have been fun if somebody rushed out of the con-suite, strapped on the skull-pack, and flamed up across the atrium space to a party upstairs! And yes, there were pirates, there were faeries, and furries, and a few storm trooper types. You could say that it was the same rich stew of individuals at Arisia 2010, but there were definitely higher concentrations of bare feet, of blood-drenched nurses, blue-green body paint (though only a few of them Navi, as fas as I could tell), and really pervasive wearing of kilts. Sure, some people I expect to see wearing a kilt (since that’s pretty common around the office…okay, it is Cambridge!), but it seemed like every time I turned around there was another utilikilt wrapped around some smiling, bearded dude. Which means that this year’s Arisia (officially sub-titled “the future and the past”) has been informally dubbed by Yunchtime as the “barefoot techno-fantasy fest, in a kilt.”