Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Autumn/Winter 2003-2004


And How the Hugo was Presented! (An EDITORIAL)

GHLIII

And that's how Challenger finally made it to the Hugo podium. And if it wasn't to pick one up, but rather to give one away ... well, no can complain. Presenting the Best Fan Artist Hugo was one of the highlights not only of Torcon, but of 2003 – a year that did not lack for high moments.

(Not that anyone noticed me, up there. All eyes with any sense behind them must have been affixed on la belle Rose-Marie, who wore a beautiful Renaissance-inspired gown [for which she made special undergarments] and looked too wondrous for words. No one could have been prouder – nor more negligible – than ye editor.)

We'd been walked through a rehearsal earlier that Saturday, and knew where to go and when. But our nerves were up. DUFF has put us in fandom's spotlight, and we felt it important to look good there. Still, when Toastmaster Spider Robinson called us forth, and the real spotlight hit us with its atomic glare, it burned away the last of our stage fright, and so we came to the podium, and held forth.

I began matters by flacking for the Fan Fund auction to be held the next afternoon. Tacky, I know, but I had to do it. Torcon had originally scheduled the event for Friday, far too early, and I'd expended most of my time at the convention rearranging matters. I'd finally secured a room and a time and now for the auction I had to let fandom know about it, in as broad a venue as possible.

Rosy came forward next with some words about the value of fan art to fan editors, and as such a creature, I could not have agreed more. Then it was my turn to read the nominees. Flushed with the moment as I was, I couldn't help but append personal annotations: "Brad Foster, of Texas ... Teddy Harvia, also of Texas ... Sue Mason, of Plokta and the world ... our great friend, Steve Stiles ... and our new friend, Frank Wu!" Finally, Rosy took the envelope, opened it, and read the extra-large print. Sue Mason was the 2003 Hugo Award Fan Artist.

Spider handed me the Hugo, so at least I got to feel one before I handed it to Rosy, and my beloved girl handed it to Mary Kay Kare, who accepted it on Ms. Mason's behalf. Then we went back to our place amidst the masses, and the short wait before my hopes for a return to the podium were Mimosa-mashed.

Well, losing the Best Fanzine Hugo was only just – Mimosa was effin' terrific in 2002, and there are no sweeter people or better buddies on this planet than the Lynchi. Besides, Rosy and I made out pretty well – we got to attend the best bash at worldcon, the Hugo Nominees' Party. You'll find photos from it in my Torcon spread later on. It was, to use my favorite word of late, a hoot.

Except for one thing. Partway through the party the complete Hugo voting results were handed out. I hate this practice. In many cases, it blunts the joy of the winners and exacerbates the disappointment of the losers. Who wants to hear that their victory was only a fluke in the fluke-ridden Australian ballot, that more people actually thought another the best? Who – like the lady at MilPhil last year, crushed by placing below No Award – might feel such news a public humiliation? Why not let the Hugo nominees have their evening, and wait to release the full voting breakdown until the day after the awards? What's the big rush?

I raised this issue on the UK in ‘05 Chat Line, and was basically told to pound sand. Releasing the totals as quickly as possible was fannish tradition, I was told. Possible hurt feelings were no reason to deny the numbers crunchers immediate numbers to crunch. Cheryl Morgan made the only sensible and fully understandable argument supporting early release of the totals. A nominee in Best Fanzine for her on-line Emerald City, she simply said, "I want to see how I did." She did great – first in first-place votes and high overall. Challenger came in fifth – certainly no humiliation, and I expected no better, but I wouldn't have minded waiting to find it out.

I shut my cake-hole, and will obey the consensus, of course, but if I ever run a worldcon, and the decision on when to release the full Hugo results is mine, you know what to expect.


So: Noreascon. What are our plans?

DUFF is, of course, our responsibility at the Boston worldcon, and we have plans for the fan fund there. Already we've been in touch with N4 programming about a suitable auction time and site. We're continuing to gather material to hawk – donations gleefully accepted – and will be running an inventory in a progress report this spring. Already we've got more than enough books and toys and tuckerizations to fill an hour of program time; that might cause problems if we want to join forces and auctions with the other fan funds. Another problem to solve. Well, there's time between now and then to work that out.

Also, sometime between now and Noreascon, a new DUFF election will be held, and the new Australian delegate will be elected. Rosy and I will host a reception honoring this worthy, and have that soiree to plan. I hope we're not annoying Noreascon with our constant inquiries about DUFF, but hey – we just want to do a good job.

So: check out our DUFF website, which should be opened by now at www.DUFF2004.com. It'll feature our auction inventory, updates on Noreascon and other plans, and, when the Aussies get their competition going, a download-able ballot. Naturally, we hope and expect that every Challenger reader will cast their ballot, support DUFF, contribute goodies to the fund ... and run next time!


But we'll have more than DUFF to keep us busy before the worldcon. We have a program book to edit.

Joe Siclari's call came in the early days of December. It hit us with the force of a Patriot missile. The head of Noreascon 4's publications division was asking us to put together the worldcon's program/souvenir book.

The explosion was happy, and we were and are totally wowed by the honor, but ... wow. Not just, work on a convention, but work on a worldcon. Not just work on the worldcon, but work on Noreascon. Not just work on Noreascon, but edit the program book. The souvenir everyone in fandom will carry away from what may possibly be the biggest fannish convention of the decade. That's more than a job – it's an awesome responsibility.

I edited the program/souvenir book for Nolacon II, of course, and despite a couple of iffy page layouts and dissatisfaction with the printer, I basically liked how it came out. My philosophy about this tome will be the same as it was for that one: 3Fs, and not what you're thinking. Fandom is fun with the future. I hope for an attractive, light-hearted, but substantive publication doing honor to the convention, its guests (I ordered the 2003 Discworld Companion to learn more about Terry Pratchett), and the people taking it on with me. Rosy – Geri Sullivan, who'll handle layout – Joe, publications chief – and Eve Ackerman and Judy Bemis, who are peddling our ads. Interested in buying space or helping? Write to me!

And Let the Good Times Roll! (No ... wait ... that was the other one!)


In this issue a theme has erupted by sheerest serendipity. Entirely on their own, without the slightest guidance from *pschaw* me, this issue's Chall pals have contributed articles on classic SF writers from our genre's dawn. Maybe I should have held off using Paul McCall's magnificent Lost World cover for Challenger #17. It would have fit right in.

Dr. Craig Hilton on the greatest foil in literary history, Dr. John Watson. Rich Dengrove on the Martians of H.G. Wells. Ned Brooks on Wells' Cavorite (a "weighty" matter indeed). Greg Benford on Edgar Rice Burroughs. Even my own reprint about Christopher Lee from 1977 has a Tolkien reference and connection. You can't plan a common theme as neatly as that.

But it ends there. I suppose I could stretch the reference to Norman Lindsay in this issue's DUFF article, "Pride of the Blue Mountains", to fit this theme, but a stretch it would be. Gary Robe's scouting tale, Jan Stinson's harrowing encounters with a future murderer, John Berry's adventures with idiots in the British countryside and Mike Resnick's Torcon diary have little or no connection with SF masters of the past – but the they're not here because of any theme. They're here because they're fascinating stories, at least to me, and I'm betting they'll hit you the same way.

Readers have told me they like my stories about life as a public defense lawyer, if you call it living, but alas, my charmingly-titled "Kicking a Kitten" was one of two GHLIII pieces still unfinished as of press time. Next time. Instead, here's an update on a more personal legal matter. The ten-year-old traffic ticket which got me jailed for seven hours in May came up for trial in mid-October. I approached the city attorney loaded for bear. The attachment was bogus from Jump Street – the 1993 notice had gone to the wrong address, even though I'd written the right one on the ticket; I'd bought cars, been stopped by nice cops and hassled by hostile ones, and most significantly, I'd practiced criminal law for ten years in that very venue, all without any indication that there was an attachment out on me – but the city attorney merely blanched, "You're kidding me!" before scrawling "Dismissed" on the ticket, over and over again.

I appreciated that – but I'm still a lawyer, and still thinking: sue somebody. How much value would you put on seven hours behind bars for an honest citizen?

Finally, I must hail our Australian friend and hero Bill Wright for aid in the distribution of Challenger #18. A few weeks prior to Torcon, believing I'd save money, I sent Bill a package of enveloped and addressed copies of Chall #18 via the cheapest method: an M-bag. I immediately felt guilty. Having had mixed results from M-bags sent across the Atlantic (and thank you, Sandra Bond), I was worried that, going by surface mail, the Pacific crossing would take even longer. It did – eleven weeks.

Once the zines finally made it to Bill's abode, that saint among saints conveyed them to his countrymen by hand and post – including a copy to the couple who rescued us from the heights of Hanging Rock. They weren't fans, so I imagine Chall was baffling – but they did send us a Christmas card!

Chall #19's cover is by Louisiana treasure Ned Dameron, from a silkscreen by my lifelong friend Doug Wirth. #20 will be fronted by a glorious color illo by Frank Wu. Having predicted themes for my zines that never came to be, I know better than even to guess at its contents. Chall pals – surprise me!

CONTRIBUTORS to this Challenger include ...


Greg Benford, Ned Dameron, Mike Resnick, c/o Challenger
Sheryl Birkhead, Gaithersburg MD
Ned Brooks, Lilburn GA
Randy Cleary, Madison AL
Rich Dengrove,, Alexandria VA
Kurt Erichsen, Toledo OH
Alexis Gilliland, Arlington VA
Craig Hilton, Toorak, Victoria Australia
Trinlay Khadro, Brown Deer WI
Sue Mason, Walthanstow London U.K.
Joseph Major, Louisville KY
Gary Robe, Kingsport TN
Ruth M. Shields, Jackson MS
Janine Stinson, Eastlake MI
Mercy van Vlack, Gracie Station, New York NY
Charlie Williams, Knoxville TN

 

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