MY YEAR IN REVIEW—Looking Backward and Forward!

Well, I’ve done it: I’ve posted a blog entry every week for a full year; as a classic procrastinator, I wish to state that this to me feels like a great accomplishment. (Many of you don’t have that “procrastinatin’” gene, so you will probably say, “What’s the big deal?”) This is my fifty-second consecutive weekly blog, and for me, that’s a big deal; I usually fall by the wayside on repetitive tasks, even if they’re self-assumed. (And if you don’t think it’s hard keeping your shoulder to the wheel and your nose to the grindstone… just assume that position and see what you think!) Of course, there are people who blog each and every day of the year on varying topics; I applaud them. I don’t think I could do it. As a matter of fact, I may miss a week or two once in a while from here on out.

Figure 1 - Amazing May 1980, Cover by Mattingly
Figure 1 – Amazing May 1980, Cover by Mattingly

So let’s take a look back. No, not to 2013, but back to Summer, 1979. At the time, I was living in Pullman, Washington, and Amazing was just one of the magazines I read regularly—why not? There was no internet, and our local grocery stores (Dissmore’s and Rosauer’s) carried SF/F books and magazines, and Dissmore’s wasn’t too far from where I lived. Amazing had just gotten a new editor—Ted White was out, and Omar Gohagen (who he?) was in. And praise be! Omar was looking for a fan columnist! (I felt qualified; in my own fanzine—New Venture, with Jon Gustafson as art editor (really a co-editor)—had reviewed fanzines and seemed to be pretty well received, although our Special Art Issue had pretty much killed us. (That’s a long story and I’ll tell it another day.) So I applied for the position, and Omar Gohagen agreed to take me on. My first fan column (which I punnily entitled “Fans, Prose and Cons,” to cover fans, fanzines, and conventions) was published in the November 1979 issue, with a cover by Elinor Mavor. The cover for the May, 1980 issue (Figure 1) was by a long-haired young guy named David Mattingly (photo inside the issue); and by golly, David and I are going to meet in person for the first time at VCON/Canvention this October in Vancouver! (But that’s beside the point.)

As an aside—and a lot of what I write is asides, darn it!—I also note that the lettercol in the above Amazing (the May ’80 one) has a complimentary letter to me from my friend Anders Bellis—whom I met in person for the first time at Denvention II, Denver’s second worldcon. Bellis now lives in Greece and is active on Facebook. I’m not sure if he still pubs a zine, but after 30 years, I’m guessing not. Moving along, I continued my fan column in Amazing for a bit over 2 years—somewhere between bimonthly and quarterly, I think. One funny thing happened as a result of that column: at a Norwescon (in Seattle or Bellevue, Washington) in 1980 or 1981, someone told me that Ted White was looking for me. Ted White! Holy cow; I was impressed! So I found Ted White and was disappointed to find that he only wanted to know if my last name was an alias: hey, the fanzine column—“fans talk”? No, sorry, Ted. It’s my real name. Anyway, fast-forwarding to 2013, and I’m working on my third book, when I read somewhere online that the new editor/publisher of Amazing, Mr. Steve Davidson, was looking for writers/columnists for the new online version of Amazing.

 Figure 2 - Denvention 1981 nametag
Figure 2 – Denvention 1981 nametag

So I queried him; did he want me to do a fan column for Amazing Stories Online? Well, yes and no; he had blogger/columnists who already were immersed in the fan scene—and I’d been somewhat gafiated for about a decade—but he’d be pleased to let me submit something, which I did. And he accepted. (I think my earliest columns/blog entries were entirely fan-related; I still do the occasional fan column. There are so many aspects of the fan scene, and so few people actually covering it—properly—in the media.) And so I began writing this column, which has evolved into, I think, mostly my personal coverage and explanation of sf/f for people who may not be totally immersed in it. Heck, I’ve been reading it (and now, writing it) literally since I was six years old! And there is so much I don’t know about it still! (For me, the very best part of it is that I can still learn things about the field I love; I can meet other people through science fiction and fantasy that share my love of it, and the people involved in it.) Just for an example, look at how much I’m learning about Robert A. Heinlein—and I think I’ve read just about everything by him I could get my hands on. Much of it several times.

So here’s a list of what was published in 2013 as my column: you’ll notice that most of it is definitely fan-related; I feel that’s what I was hired for and, by golly, this workman strives to be worthy of his hire! You should be able to Control-click on the column titles to go to each column. (By the way, Canadian fans—you can vote for me for a “Best Fan-Related Other” Aurora Award if you’d like. Shameless self-promotion, that’s me!)

June 28, 2013 A Fan’s History, Part 1
July 5, 2013 A Fan’s History – Conventions (Part 2)
July 12, 2013 A Fan’s History – Part 3
July 19, 2013 A Fan’s History – Part 4 – A Visit with Heinlein
July 27, 2013 Review: Cloud Atlas
August 2, 2013 A Fan’s History – Fanzines
August 9, 2013 A Fan’s History — Fanzines, Continued….
August 16, 2013 Review: Oblivion
August 23, 2013 A Fan’s History, Part the Next….
August 30, 2013 Review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
August 31, 2013 Review: Starship Century
September 6, 2013 A Fan’s History, Episode 12: More Fanspeak
September 13, 2013 Film Review: The Colony
September 20, 2013 Book Review: Vicious, by V.E. Schwab
September 27, 2013 Fanzines—to LOC or not to LOC?
October 5, 2013 Book Review: Dr. Sleep. Does Every Book Really Need a Sequel?
October 11, 2013 An Anniversary and a Convention Cold…
October 18, 2013 Book Review — A Spooky Tale in Time for Halloween!
October 25, 2013 Movie Review — Is That What Scientology Does to Them?
November 1, 2013 One Fan’s History — Badges? We Don’ Need No Steenkin’…(Part One)
November 8, 2013 NaNoWriMoVember — What the Heck Is It?
November 15, 2013 Fandom May Be A Way of Life, But is it THE Way of Life?
November 22, 2013 Tag — You’re it! One Fan’s History Through Nametags
November 29, 2013 Review — One Good SF/Horror “B”-Movie to Watch
December 6, 2013 England’s “Fabulous, Feminine Answer to James Bond”!
December 13, 2013 A Fan’s Anniversary of Sorts
December 20, 2013 Sixties, Science Fiction and Secret Agents
December 27, 2013 SPACEMEN, Precursor to Starlog?

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to find all the columns for this year; I can’t do all the heavy lifting here!

You’ll probably notice that it’s kind of evenly divided between fanstuff and regular SF/F stuff like book reviews, movie reviews and that sort of thing. That’s because I have the usual fan/collector’s jackdaw mind: if it’s bright and shiny it will attract me. (Squirrel!) I doubt I’m alone in this, but I think I have a slight advantage over many people—I’ve been doing it longer. (Actually, there are many older fans and writers than I; age itself is no claim to fame. But I’m kind of a big mouth and will write about stuff that I think will interest you simply because it’s SF/F and it interested me. At least until my publisher/editor slaps me down and tells me to straighten up and write something more interesting.)

So that’s the past up to the present: what does the future hold? Well, next week’s column will be a review of Stephen King’s new book, Mr. Mercedes. This is a very, very unusual King book, and I will tell you why next week—I don’t want to spoil the surprise. I did find it well written, as I do most of King’s work. I also plan to spend some time in the movie theatre, viewing such genre fare as Godzilla (the new-new-new Godzilla), and I hope I don’t upset Bob Eggleton, Godzilla (and other things) artist supreme if I don’t like it; I also plan to see X-Men, Days of Future Past. It should be interesting, but I’d love to see an X-Men written by Joss Whedon (The Avengers). What do you think? I’m also looking forward to the new Tom Cruise movie, Edge of Tomorrow, which looks—from the trailers—to be a mash-up of Starship Troopers, Transformers, Groundhog Day and a bunch of other movies. He’s not the deepest actor, but Cruise hardly ever disappoints on the action front.

Figure 3 - Tom Cruise - Edge of Tomorrow
Figure 3 – Tom Cruise – Edge of Tomorrow

I hope I don’t have to miss the two weeks after; I’m going to visit my in-laws in Missouri, and it’s a long drive with no guarantee of internet connectivity on the way or while I’m there. (The ‘rents-in-law are somewhat older than I am, and are still stuck on dial-up. Eek.) Chester, the wonder-cat, is probably happy that I’m going right now, as he just got a squirting for pulling down a flower vase from on top of a cabinet. (He likes to chew plants, but we can’t be sure they’re not poisonous. Hence the “squirt—*NO!*”) Our friend is staying in our place to look after Chester. So if I’m kind of absent for a while after next week, don’t worry. Oh, and in case I forgot to mention—back to the column for a moment—I’m in Facebook touch with my old Amazing editor from the ‘80s, Omar Gohagen, who turned out to be that self-same Elinor Mavor who did the cover on my first issue! Isn’t life fun?

Please comment on this week’s entry if you can. Either register here (if you haven’t already—it’s free, and only takes a moment)—or comment on my Facebook page; or in the several Facebook groups where I publish a link to this column. I might not agree with your comments, but they’re all welcome, and don’t feel free you have to agree with me to post a comment; my opinion is, as always, my own, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Amazing Stories or its owners, editors, publishers or other bloggers. See you next week!

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