This year at Boskone, there were some interesting panels, great painting demos by Bob Eggleton and Omar Rayyan, and a nice gallery of paintings from Boskones past and present alongside works by the Artist GOH, Dean Morrissey. Anthropology, SF, and Chad Oliver The first panel I attended was on the works of Chad Oliver, the great anthropologist / SF author from Texas. Amy Thomson, whose work on the encounters between humans and aliens (and between robot girl and humans) remarked that, in fact, she was not influenced by Oliver before writing the Color of Distance and Through Alien Eyes, and only came to appreciate the anthropological aspects of Oliver’s science fiction in retrospect. George Zebrowski told of his long working relationship with Chad Oliver. When he worked with Crown Books as editor for their Classics of Modern Science Fiction series in the mid-1980s, Zebrowski was asked what the first ten volumes should be, and he told them that the three of those ten should include Chad Oliver’s novels: Shores of Another Sea, Shadows of the Sun, and Unearthly Neighbors. Three out of ten? By the same author! Was Zebrowski out of his mind? But, in fact, Crown ended up supporting the suggestion and those novels did appear as the 3rd, 8th, and 9th volumes in the series.
Haven’t you sometimes said to yourself, I’ll bet other people can see me! And you’re puzzled as to what to do about this serious, baffling problem of being conspicuous… At once overly self-conscious, and at the same time paranoid and internalized, it is no wonder that the previous statement was written by our favorite paranoid schizo SF writer, Philip K. Dick. However, it is worth taking a closer look at the tendency for humans to worry about their own self-consciousness and appearance, since it is obvious that our right to privacy is under serious attack. Although the government is wrestling with the issue, it is by no means certain that the harsh surveillance tactics brought to us in recent years are coming to an end. Indeed, the inquisitorial big-brother milieu extends beyond the concept of mere observation…as Dick implies, there is an active attempt to instigate our own self-doubts and keep us trapped in a spiral of confusion. Everywhere we go, we are bombarded now by advertisements for drugs. These often take the form of overt manipulation. For those who are having a bad day, or have low self-esteem, these could trigger a whole chain of thoughts, a sort of self-reinforcing trap for which, SURPRISE! Drug companies have an ANSWER! And with the relaxation of restrictions on Direct to Consumer Drug advertising, this predatory form of brainwashing is reaching epidemic proportions.