Liftoff Scratched for SF Authors Stamps

hg-wells-sci-fi (1)The countdown has been halted for issuing U.S. stamps honoring science fiction authors, which initially was set for July.

According to Linn’s Stamp News, a weekly publication devoted to all things philatelic, the U.S. Postal Service has postponed the stamps release until “another year.” That could be 2014, but it’s anybody’s guess.

On the plus side, Linn’s said sources have identified the stamps’ five subjects as Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury and Frank Herbert. The Postal Service, however, has not confirmed that.

If that quintet is correct, the choices are a bit of a shock — the Postal Service has been big on diversity in stamp subjects in recent decades. Many fans had speculated that the set would include at least one woman, such as C.L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, Alice Mary Norton (Andre Norton), Alice Bradley Sheldon (James Tiptree Jr.) or Octavia Butler.

The most surprising pick seems to be Herbert, best known for his award-winning “Dune” and its sequels. In retrospect, though, he’s a fine choice. “Dune” not only was a huge crossover hit with mainstream readers who usually scorned science fiction, but it also introduced millions to the term “ecology” and was an important influence on the early environmental movement.

Delaying the stamps is only the latest snag in an issue that’s been sketchy from the start.

When Linn’s reported in late January that stamps honoring SF writers were on the 2013 schedule, it said they would be released in July at the ConDor Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention in San Diego, Calif. First problem? The con took place in March, not July.

The Postal Service’s failure to identify the authors was puzzling — such information is usually publicized up to a year in advance — and there was no word of the stamps’ format. Most collectors assumed the stamps would appear in a block of four; only later did we learn the issue would feature five writers.

If it’s any consolation, the SF stamps aren’t the only ones bumped from the 2013 schedule. Also delayed until “another year” is a stamp honoring actress Ingrid Bergman, which is part of the Postal Service’s ongoing Legends of Hollywood series.

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