Robinson to appear at The Spaced Out Library
Science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson will be
making a personal appearance at The Spaced Out Library at 40 St. George St. in Toronto on the evening of July 27.
Robinson, the author of such books as The
Gold Coast, Memory of Whiteness,
The Wild Shore, Icehenge, The Planet on the Table (collection)
and many shorter works, will give a reading and will answer questions.
Admission to the event will be free of charge to
members of The Friends of The Spaced Out Library. Admission price for non-members
will be $10.00 per person at the door.
Members may also help fund this and other programs of
The Friends by contributing an additional $5.00. Members whose
contributions are received at The Spaced Out Library by closing time on
July 13 will be invited to a special "Meet the Author" session
one hour prior to the regular program on July 27.
TheFriends of The Spaced Out Library is for the first time
actively soliciting new members.
TheSpaced Out Library was established in 1970 by the Toronto
Public Library Board with a donation from sf
writer Judith Merril. The collection currently holds approximately 20,000
monographs and short story collections, 14,000 periodicals and over 1,200
fanzine titles in the reference collection. The reference collection
includes complete sets from such specialty publishers as Arkham House, Cheap Street and Gnome Press.
The Friends is officially a citizen advisory group to
the Toronto Public Library Board. It is not a fan organisation.
Its main objectives are to promote The Spaced Out Library in particular, and science fiction in general within Toronto and to promote The Spaced Out
Library within the science fiction community. It is the organisation's
intention to make The Spaced Out Library the best public collection of
speculative fiction in the world.
The two main means of accomplishing this task are by
publishing the semi-annual newsletter, Sol
Rising, and by sponsoring appearances at the Library by prominent
people in science fiction, fantasy and related fields. Three appearances or
other programming are scheduled quarterly with the fourth quarter being
devoted to the annual membership meeting and informal get-together.
The Friends of The Spaced Out Library has been in
existence since February 1981 and has sponsored programming at The Spaced
Out Library since then, as well as publishing two previous issues of Sol Rising (issue #2 was published
in the summer of 1987). However, no serious attempts have been made so far
to increase the membership of The Friends beyond those who showed interest
at the inception.
But that has now changed.
At the annual membership meeting in April, an
Executive Committee was elected and empowered to increase the membership of
The Executive has assembled an attractive list of
benefits to members and has begun work on an exciting lineup of programming
for the coming year.
The Friends of
The Spaced Out Library held its annual membership meeting on April
in order to elect a new Executive Committee and to discuss matters relating
to The Spaced Out Library. This was the first meeting held in several
Lorna Toolis, head librarian
for The Spaced Out Library reported that major donations to the collection
had been received from Mr. John Flint Roy, Mr. Robert Bruce Robbins and Mr.
Jon Lomberg. The Robbins bequest consisted of 115
boxes of science fiction, fantasy and fanzines. Many of these items were
reference books and volumes of interest to collectors; library staff particularly admire the set of chapbooks published
by Mr. Roy Squires. As this donation is quite large, library staff are integrating it slowly with the rest of the
collection, due to constraints on both staff time and shelving space.
Mr. Lomberg's donation of
scripts, storyboards, sketches and working notes from the various
television and radio series he has worked on will be held separately as the
Members elected to the Executive Committee were:
Professor Peter Fitting (Chairman), Ms. Doris Bercarich
(Treasurer), Mr. Larry Hancock, Mr. Keith Soltys
and Mr. Robert Hadji (all as Members-at-large).
Past chairman Mr. John Millard remains a member of the Executive as does
Ms. Judith Merril who was voted anHonourary member of the Executive Committee for Life.
Three major concerns were discussed at the meeting:
the need for a newer, more active Friends organisation
and the best means for bringing this about; concerns that the new building
is still in the planning stages after the better part of a decade of
discussion; and, a new name for the library.
The members discussed regular programming as a method
of reaching the public and attracting new members. Mr. Kim Stanley Robinson
has been invited as a guest for the Summer Program and Mr. Joe Haldeman as a guest for the Winter Program. The Friends
will program for three consecutive Saturdays in the fall, but speakers are
not yet determined. The Friends are able to invite these speakers through
the funds made available in memory of Mr. Robert Bruce Robbins by his
family and friends.
SOL RISING, the newsletter, was also discussed as a
method of reaching the Library's patrons in the academic community and
elsewhere. Mr. Larry Hancock offered to edit the newsletter and Mr. Arthur
Wharton and Ms. Alison Knight agreed to assist with the publication.
The lack of progress in finalizing a new building for
the Library was discussed at considerable length. Members were invited to
write, expressing their concern about the lack of a new facility, to: Ms.
Joanne Doucette, Chairman, Toronto Public Library Board, 281 Front St. E., Toronto, Ontario, M4R 1B9. A copy of such
correspondence should also be sent to Mr. Peter Fitting, 73 Delaware Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M6H 2S9.
Members were all agreed that a new name for the
Library was highly desirable, as the purpose and function of the Library
are not apparent from is name. Concern was raised about the wishes of Ms.
Merril whose original donation formed the basis of the Library and who
actually named the Library, but Ms. Merril expressed her consent.
Considerable discussion and ingenuity was expended in
this discussion though no agreement on a new name was reached. Members
thought it appropriate to honour Ms. Merril in
the re-named library but she emphatically declined. Discussion revolved
around the comparative merits of "Speculative Fiction" as opposed
to "Science Fiction" with most members favouring
the former. The name change is not planned to take effect until the Library
moves to the new building.
Members were enthusiastic about the attendance at the
meeting and the renewed interest in making The Friends an active organisation
once again. However, it was noted that such enthusiasm had been exhibited
in past, but The Friends had
dropped into inactivity each time. Therefore, the members approved a motion
requiring the Executive Committee to convene a meeting at least once every
three months, even if no items would be on the agenda prior to the meeting.
It is hoped that regular meetings will ensure continued dedication to the organisation.
Executive Committee Meeting
The Executive committee held its first meeting in
early May at which several matters were discussed and approved.
Membership fees were discussed and decided upon. The
Executive also approved the regular admission price to programming
sponsored by The Friends and the
fact that all members would be admitted free to such programming. Other
membership benefits (such as discounts from Bakka
bookstore) were approved.
Programming for the next year was discussed in
general. Mr. Joe Haldeman has been confirmed as a
guest, appearing at the Library on December 2,
Possible guests were discussed for the three successive weekends of
programming planned for autumn, but nothing has yet been finalized.
Lifetime memberships to The Friends were recommended
and approved for Mr. John Millard, Mr. John Robert Colombo, Ms. Judith
Merril, Ms. Doris Mehegan and Mr. John Rose.
Welcome to the third issue of SOL RISING, the
newsletter of The Friends of The Spaced Out Library. It has been two years
since we published our previous issue, but we don't intend for such time to
slip by us again; The Friends is back on its feet and rededicated to its
objectives of promoting The Spaced
Out Library in specific and science fiction in general.
Each issue of SOL RISING will keep readers informed as
to the activities of The Friends of The Spaced Out Library, both in regards
to business conducted at membership and Executive meetings and in regards
to reporting upon past programming and advising readers of upcoming
We will also feature articles and interviews of
interest to our members; this issue's articles by John Robert Colombo and
Keith Soltys and the interview with John Millard
are excellent examples of what can be expected in the future.
We have also included as complete a list as we could
compile of Canadian speculative fiction printed in 1988, and hope to make
this an annual occurrence.
We will be publishing a minimum of two issues of SOL
RISING each year, perhaps more. All members of The Friends will receive
copies of the newsletter as part of their membership.
We invite all contributions of articles for
consideration of publication, but we do not pay for contributions. If there
is a specific topic you would like to see covered or special projects that
you feel that the Library or The Friends would be best suited to undertake,
please let us know.
We also invite your letters of comment on the
newsletter, on The Friends organisation and on
The Spaced Out Library.
It's always a distinct pleasure when areas of interest
overlap. I experienced that pleasure a year ago when I selected the
contents of Colombo's Canadian
Quotations. I found that I could combine with ease two long-time
interests of mine: Canadiana and fantastic
Perhaps I should explain that I have, filed away in my
study in North
some 20,000 3x5 cards. Typed on each card is a "quotable quote"
made by a Canadian (say, media pundit Marshall McLuhan)
or made about Canada by a foreigner (say, British
travel writer Jan Morris on the Canadian "genius" for
compromise). As I do a lot of reading in the area of Canadiana
and a fair amount in the area of fantastic literature—by which I mean
science fiction, fantasy fiction, and supernatural fiction—it is not
surprising that quotations about Canada made by foreign fantastic
writers have found their way into my files. Once in the files they run the
risk of being recycled in one of my books.
About one hundred "quotable quotes" made by
foreign fantastic writers about Canada have been worked into my
latest compilation: Colombo's New
Canadian Quotations published by Hurtig
Publishers in Edmonton. One hundred quotes sounds
like a lot, but that number vanishes in the shadow of the book's
contents—4,000 new quotations plus 600 old "touchstone"
quotations by 1,500 authors and others arranged under 800 topic headings.
So the representation given to foreign fantastic authors is not all that
Which authors are included? What do they have to say
to readers of Canadiana? Good questions. Foreign
authors are intrigued by our cities. Vancouverites will especially enjoy
the passage by Robert A. Heinlein from his novel Time Enough for Love, in which he refers interestingly to an
event that took place in that city from the vantage-point of the year 4272:
"That must have been late in the twentieth century and in Vancouver,
as I recall. Vancouver was a part of the United States where the people were so
clever that they never paid taxes to Washington."
Everybody hates Toronto, I suppose. Thus it was a
delight to come upon Ray Bradbury's off-the-cuff remark about my adopted
city. Bradbury told an interviewer: "Toronto, Canada, is the most perfect city in
Hemisphere." (I am not giving the full sources for these quotations, to
save space, but that one comes from a Vancouver publication.)
It was with special, patriotic pride that I noted the
reference to Montreal in the most famous radio
broadcast of all time. I am referring to the 1938 radio dramatization by
Orson Welles of H.G. Wells'sThe War of the Worlds. Listeners
that Hallowe'en night heard the following mock
announcement: "Ladies and gentlemen, here is the latest bulletin from
the Intercontinental Radio News, Montreal, Canada: Professor Morse of
McGill University reports observing a total of three explosions on the
planet Mars, between the hours of 7:45 P.M. and 9:20 P.M., eastern standard
time." There is no Intercontinental Radio News and no Professor Morse,
but there is a McGillUniversity and it is located in Montreal, A fine mixture of fact and
H.G. Wells was not neglected, for there is a longish
passage from his short story "The Star" which describes the
changes to the planet resulting from the birth in the heavens of a new
star. It brings about the greening of Iceland, Greenland, and the region identified as
"the shores of Baffin's Bay". There is a second quotation from Wells
from a 1906 article about a visit to Niagara Falls. He found that "the real
interest of Niagara for me was not in the waterfall, but in the human
accumulations about it ...." Little has changed since then.
Wells is not the only science fiction writer who has
been drawn to the Falls. Isaac Asimov, a poor traveller
at best, made one of his few trips out of New York City in April 1963 to view the
cataracts. He waxed eloquent about them in his memoirs In Joy Still Felt: "I rather lost my breath, for the Horseshoe Falls are extraordinarily
beautiful." Jules Verne also paid them a visit. "I marvelled at the Niagara Falls from the top of TerrapinTower with a lunar rainbow showing
in the spray of the falls, and crossed the Suspension Bridge into Canada. And then came home."
The afternoon of April 19, 1867, he spent one hour on
Canadian soil. Like Asimov and even Bradbury, Verne was not much of a traveller.
Creative use of a Canadian motif was made by Philip
Jose Farmer in his well-known novella The
Lovers. This novella is notorious as the work that introduced sex to
science fiction. It's a tame read today but in 1952, when it was first published,
it was hot stuff! Readers will recall that the action takes place so far in
the future that the things we take for granted are but memories. "Then
there was North
Farmer wrote, "where American was the native speech of all except the
twenty descendants of French-Canadians living on the Hudson Bay
Preserve." The French-Canadians—oops, the Quebecois—play a pivotal role in the novella's plot. The
hero marries one—and dies.
Likely the most creative use of a Canadian locale in a
foreign author's fantastic work is the use John Wyndham made of Labrador in his post-holocaust novel The Chrysalids.
Labrador is certainly isolated.
"For a long time it had been disputed whether any parts of the world
other than Labrador and the big island of Newf were populated at all,"
he wrote. "They were thought to be all Badlands which had suffered the full
weight of Tribulation, but it had been found that there were some stretches
of Fringes country in places."
I could continue to single out these writers and their
quotations but I would rather make a distinction. There is a difference
between passages from fiction and passages from articles and interviews.
The former are generally more imaginative than the latter, but they are
seldom self-standing and they need to be explained. I am collecting
references to Canada in fantastic literature.
Readers who know about passages in well-known or little-known stories and
novels could send them for a future column. You will receive gratitude!
Readers new to science fiction often blurt out,
"Where do these authors get such ideas?" Spider Robinson gave
Phil Milner of Books in Canada
the ideal answer to that question. "I get my ideas from Schenectady, New York. That is the official Science
Fiction Writers of America answer to the question, 'Where do you fellows
get your weird ideas?' We all say Schenectady." Now, Spider may be a
Yankee by birth, but he has been in Canada since 1973, and that is long
enough for him to come up with a new, Canadian answer to that question.
Where does the Canadianized Spider get his
"weird [Canadian] ideas"? No doubt they come from Halifax or Medicine Hat or Moose Jaw or Vancouver—the city he now calls
Colombo has written, compiled, and translated 77 books. A collection of
poems, Off Earth, was his 76th book; Colombo's New Canadian Quotations is his 77th. He plans to
stop—or at least pause—at 100.
"Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination
experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by
children being taught mathematical concepts... A graphic representation of
data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system.
Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace
of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city light, receding
Computers and SF in the Real World
The direct mind to computer link envisioned by William
Gibson may be some time in coming but electronic communication has already
reached the stage of "unthinkable complexity"—at least for
some computer users if the advice columns of computer magazines are any
indication. But the majority of science fiction authors, readers and fans
have always been quick to embrace new technologies (even if they haven't
always fully understood the implications) and computers are no exception.
According to a recent Locus ("The Newspaper of the Science Fiction Field") poll,
54% of that magazine's readers own a computer. That's about 5,000 people, a
small fraction of the half-million or so who use the major data-nets, but
it does indicate that many people are interested in both sf and electronic communications.
This article is a guide to some of the services
available through your computer and modem—more specifically those
related to science fiction. There's too much variety in hardware and
software to go into much technical detail here but I will mention some
general guidelines that might be helpful if this is new to you.
What's Out There?
In general there are two types of services available
to you if you have a computer and a modem ‑those you pay for and
those you don't. National services like CompuServe and The Source charge by
the hour for connect time. Most local bulletin boards are free (though some
may charge an initial registration fee). As with most things in life you
tend to get what you pay for—the massive investments in hardware and staff required for a large commercial service don't come
The Big Three: CompuServe, The Source and Genie
With over 375,000 subscribers, CompuServe is the
largest of the public information networks. Although its 40 mainframe
computers are located in Columbus, Ohio, the network has nodes that
allow access via a local phone call from most major metropolitan centres in the United States and Canada.
There are two other services in direct competition
with CompuServe. The Source is smaller with about 60,000 subscribers, but
cheaper and with many of the same features. GEnie,
an offshoot of General Electric, uses the night-time spare capacity of the
company's data network. It has the advantage of being the cheapest of the
The Local Guys
A BBS or Bulletin Board Service is a smaller version
of the commercial data networks. Most are set up by hobbyists on their home
computers and can be reached only through a single phone line. BBS's are notorious for their short lives, because of
both equipment failure and burnout on the part of the operators (who are
also known as sysops). Although some have defied the odds and been around
for several years the average lifetime is probably less than a year.
BBS's tend to offer similar
services to the larger systems, primarily electronic mail and file
uploading and downloading, but of course on a much smaller scale. (There
are some commercial BBS's, like PC Canada, that
charge for connection and offer more services than the typical home BBS.
Most specialize in file uploading-downloading and computer related topics
and are out of the scope of this article.)
The Ontario Science Centre in Toronto maintains a popular board
with a large sf section. In Minneapolis the board started by the Scribbly writers' group was the inspiration for the
Bunch board. Ottawa's Pagan SF Net specializes in
What Good Is It?
All this may sound interesting and even a little far
out, especially if you've never tried it, but what practical benefits are
there—especially if you're going to spend money on it?
Electronic mail may be the most useful capability even
though it's probably not the most glamorous. It's faster and more reliable
than the post office. For short messages it's cheaper than long distance
phone calls and can be competitive with the mail. It's possible to send two
or three messages on CompuServe in two minutes for a cost of less than $.50
per message. Fidonet (a linked network of local
bulletin boards) echomail messages cost about the
CompuServe's Science Fiction Forum provides a good
example of what's available on the larger systems. The sf
forum is divided into 18 areas. There are sections on Science Fiction, Star
Trek, Dr. Who, SF in the Movies/TV, Pern,
Conventions, Fanzines, Writing, etc. Each area includes an area for
messages and a data library for file upload-download. CompuServe's software
allows messages to be linked to earlier messages, thus creating a
"thread". Some have spanned hundreds, if not thousands, of
messages. Many authors (David Gerrold, Raymond E.
Feist, MikeResnick to name a few) are regular users.
Sf fans are gregarious by nature
and the message oriented format of the computer forums don't always provide
the sense of contact that users crave. Conferences, basically the
electronic equivalent of a CB channel, have grown up on the larger systems
to fill this need.
In conference mode many users can "chat" to
each other in real time. Several conversations may be going simultaneously
with messages scrolling off the screen at a rate that novice users may have
trouble following. A special syntax and etiquette have evolved around
conferencing so that users can communicate in the least confusing manner.
Some conferences are more formal than others. On
CompuServe, for example, there are frequent moderated conferences with
special guests. Users register in advance and the sysop for the forum
controls the flow of questions. Many sf authors (Cherryh, Bova, Haldeman and recently Anne McCaffrey from her computer
in Ireland) have participated in these
Transcripts are stored in the forum's data libraries
along with other topical files. There can be hundreds of files in a forum
library. Book and film reviews, interview transcripts, articles and stories
can all be downloaded.
The electronic magazine is a new variation on this
theme. There are at least two fanzines (Other Realms and TORUS) whose text
is distribute in electronic format. Once uploaded
the distributions is out of control of the editors—which is part of
the attraction as one never knows where the magazine may end up.
Most smaller boards will have areas
devoted to file upload and download which often include programs that can
be useful to BBS users, text files about various subjects and games. Not
all boards offer this and uploads are usually checked by the sysop due to
the proliferation of dangerous "trojan
horse" programs; anti-social creations which appear to be legitimate
until they take control of a system and destroy its data.
Connecting with an on-line service doesn't require a
great investment in hardware or software. You need a computer (it is
possible to use a dumb terminal but I'm going to ignore that option here),
a modem, a connection to a phone line and software. It doesn't require much
computing power and there are many good, free, public-domain programs
available for almost every brand of computer. Magazines, computer clubs and
local dealers are good sources of help and information.
Electronic bulletin boards and their larger cousins
like CompuServe and the Source are the first wave in a new medium of
information storage and exchange. Over the coming years more and more
information will be available on-line. If the past few years are any
indication science fiction readers, fans and authors will be among the
first and foremost users of the new systems and among the first to reap
Technical Tips—SF related BBS's
Ontario Science Centre, Toronto (416) 429-1700
The Pagan SF Net, Ottawa (613) 875-2032
Terraboard, Minneapolis (612) 721-8967
To connect to most BBS's set
your communications software to either 300 or 1200
baud (few BBS's support 2400 baud), 8 bit words,
no parity and one stop bit. If that doesn't work try 7 bit words, even
parity and one stop bit. And if that confuses you don't worry, once you've
set it and it works (and it probably will) you can forget about it.
CompuServe, The Source and Genie
These services have local phone numbers in most major
cities in the United States and Canada. They can be accessed through
packet switching networks like Datapac and Tymnet outside of those areas. This adds an extra cost
to the connection but it's still cheaper than a long-distance call to the
Connect rates vary from US$5.00/ hour for GEnie to US$12.50/hour for CompuServe. Rates may vary
depending on modem speed and time of day. Starter kits with an instruction
manual are available at some computer stores.
Anyone contemplating using one of the major services
should look for software specific to that service. On CompuServe, for
example, programs like AUTOSIG or TAPCIS allow you to read and reply to
messages off-line, saving vast amounts of money in connect charges. Also
they are easier to use than the sometimes cryptic command syntax of the
major services. They can usually be downloaded from one of the computer-oriented
forums and are well worth the cost of the download.
John Millard is Toronto's "Old Man of SF Fandom".
A member of First Fandom, John was the chairman of both of the World
Science Fiction Conventions that have been held in Toronto. In this interview, conducted
in the spring of 1988, he shares his memories of the beginning of Toronto fandom and of the WoridCons he has attended over the years.
MICHAELSKEET: To start off John, when did you first discover science
JOHN MILLARD: Sometime in the early
thirties. I'm not exactly sure when.
MS: You moved to Toronto in the mid 40's, right?
JM: Well, first let's get back to
the beginning. I was born here in Toronto—I'm a Canadian by birth—in
'17, at the end of November. Sometime in the fall of '19, my family moved
to Jackson, Michigan, about 75 miles west of Detroit. That's where I was brought
up and went to school. I graduated from high school in '36, returned to Canada in 1942 and joined the Air
Force for the duration.
MS: When you discovered science
fiction, did you discover science fiction fandom at the same time?
JM: Back in my high school days,
I was very big reader. I read everything l could get my hands on. Of
course, in those days the pulp magazines were THE thing! You could buy them
for ten cents or twenty cents. The most you ever had to pay was a quarter.
But I read everything, including science fiction …mystery stories,
western stories, anything. In one of the magazines in … I guess it
was the early forties … in an issue of Astonishing Tales, there was a bit at the bottom of one story …
I guess you'd call it a filler … about a science fiction convention.
The second World Science Fiction Convention was to be held in Chicago on the Labour
Day weekend of 1940. So I decided I wanted to go.
MS: So your first introduction
to fandom was at a convention?
JM: Yes, at the convention.
That's the first time I ever knew anything about it, although I had been
reading science fiction for quite a while.
MS: What did you see there, in Chicago?
JM: Well, I met a number of people who seemed to be interested, and
the main thing that struck me was that everybody was publishing a fanzine,
or what they called "fan mags" in those
days. Aside from reading the stuff and talking about it, everybody wanted
to publish a magazine.
MS: How did you meet up with the
science fiction fandom community in Toronto after the war?
JM: I went to the second
convention and I also went to the third convention which was held in Denver
in '41 …came back here in '42 …spent about a year or more here in
Canada doing some training, then I went overseas. I spent almost three
years in England. I came back and stayed on
for awhile and I discharged in '46. At the end of '46 I started a course at
Ryerson—what is now Ryerson but was then the old Rehab school—studying
electronics. In September of that year, the Worldcon
was being held in Philadelphia, so I took sometime off and
went. At that convention I met a couple of guys from Toronto, who I didn't know before:
Ned McKeown and Joe Taylor. Ned McKeown was gungho about the
convention and wanted to put a bid in for the 1948 convention, which we
did. We had some competition from a guy from Milwaukee but his … it was an ad
hoc thing, it wasn't like it is today. It wasn't highly organized, just a
spur of the moment thing. We got the bid for it and held the convention in
1948. That's where I really began to know people in fandom in Canada.
MS: How exactly did you go about
bidding for the 1948 WorldCon?
JM: We just started a little
promotion right there in the convention, did whatever we could to let
people know that we were interested in doing it. And of course you had to
make a small presentation, give some ideas what the city was like. It was a
voice vote, there were no ballots.
MS: Do you remember how many
people were involved in the voting?
JM: Oh, I'd say maybe a hundred
and twenty-five, a hundred and fifty at the most.
MS: Out of … what was the
attendance at the convention?
JM: Well, I don't think the
attendance was more than two hundred and fifty at any one time.
MS: How many people worked on
the organizing committee for the '48 WorldCon?
JM: Well, Ned and I did most of
the work, but other people came around and helped when we needed it.
MS: Where was the convention held?
JM: It was held in a small
auditorium called Rai Purdy Studio. It was an
auditorium in a commercial building on Queen Street near St. Michael's Hospital.
It's no longer in existence today. The building's been torn down. There's a
skyscraper in its place today. But it was the only place we could get. The
convention was held on the July 1st holiday because back in 1948 the Labour Day holiday included the Canadian National
Exhibition and you couldn't get hotel space if you tried. So we held it in
July. We tried a couple of hotels but they weren't interested in our
business, so we went to the convention bureau and they told us about this
MS: Was the convention spread
JM: People were staying in
different hotels but hotel space was kind of tight after the war. There
weren't too many around. There was the Royal York and the King Edward. Some
people stayed at the King Edward. The King Edward was closest.
MS: What was the social scene
like? Was there a lot of partying?
JM: Partying had just started at
the conventions. There were some parties in Philadelphia and there were a few in Toronto, but not many of them. The
hotels were pretty hard on us. If we made too much noise, and they got
complaints, they told us to stop. So there weren't too many parties: The
partying didn't really start until several years later.
MS: What happened in the
aftermath of the '48 WorldCon? You said that it
was after that that you started to get to know Toronto fandom. How did that develop?
JM: With the convention being
planned and worked on, people came out of the woodwork, as it were. People
we had never heard about. I think we made a couple of trips—to Hamilton, for one—to get people
interested. There were a couple of guys from Montreal who came down, and that kind
of thing. It was just word of mouth, and probably through the magazines
more than anything else. There weren't that many really. I don't think
there were more than ten or twelve people who were interested in the field
at that time. There certainly wasn't anybody interested in writing, outside
of Joe Taylor. He wasn't really a science fiction fan; he was interested in
the writing end of ft. That's what he developed into later, and he just
disappeared into the woodwork, and we haven't heard from him, from that day
MS: Was there a structure to Toronto fandom in the late forties
and the fifties?
JM: Well, there was a higgledy-piggledy
thing; not really organized, no organized fan club or anything like that.
It was just a group we called The Derelicts. The other thing that was going
on at the time of course was a fanzine that Joe Taylor had started when we were
at the school up in Aurora—a boarding school. He
had started a magazine called "Eightball"
and then he changed it later, when he got involved in science fiction, to
"Canadian Fandom". He and Ned operated that and lots of times we
would gather to help them print it. They had a Gestetner.
It takes a lot of work to do one of those things. We used to gather around
on a Sunday afternoon and help them print it. And we worked on the
convention at the same time. When Joe gave up the magazine, Ned took it
over for a number of issues. Then he got out of it and it just petered out.
MS: Were there attempts to hold
conventions in Toronto after the WorldCon?
JM: No, I don't think there
were. It kind of petered out and nobody was interested in doing anything.
Although I, myself, was active at conventions after '48. I went to all the WorldCons up to 1952, then I dropped out for a while.
MS: How busy was the convention
calendar in those days? Aside from the WorldCon,
were there other conventions to go to?
JM: There were a few, but not
very many. It wasn't like it is today when you can go to three or four
every weekend if you want to. There wasn't that much activity.
MS: What sorts of activities
were there to get involved with besides the fanzines and WorldCons.
Was fandom definitely a part time thing in those days?
JM: Well, for some people it was
their life. For me, it was just a hobby. That's all. Just a spare time
interest as far as I was concerned. I read quite a bit of stuff; read the
magazines all the time, collected fanzines, wrote letters to them …
the usual things.
MS: Was most of the
communication between fans in those days done through the post , through letters or fanzines?
JM: Yes, I think a lot of it was
… writing letters to fanzine editors, writing articles, reviews,
stuff like that … or writing letters to the editors of the magazines.
I think that was where most of the communications came from. There were
some newszines like there are today, but they
were few and far between. Just prior to the war a number of fans started a
national organization, called the National Fantasy Fan Federation. It was a
good idea, but I think fans were too indiviualistic
to be part of a big group. It still exists today, but it was never really a
force of any kind, as far as I could see.
MS: Did you get any sense of
community in the late forties, early fifties? Was there a sense of fandom
as a large group of people?
JM: When you were there, yes.
But when you .weren't thinking about it, I don't believe it was there: It
wasn't my life, just part of my life. I was interested in everything else
but I wasn't gungho about it. I could leave it,
or take it home.
MS: The impression that one gets
reading the writings of people like Sam Moscowitz
and Harry Warner Jr. is that fandom in the late forties and the fifties was
a very close knit, almost incestuous, grouping—at least in the
States. Did any of that ever leak across the border? How much did the north
eastern U.S. fan scene affect the fans in Canada?
JM: I guess it affected them
just as much as it did anybody else. They say it was pretty sparse around
here. There were quite a few book collectors, and people interested in
science fiction. I don't know whether they were really rabid fans or not.
There is a distinction, of course. I think there are a lot of people today
who consider themselves fans, but they don't read science fiction! I don't
MS: You say you dropped out in '52
JM: Well, I got kind of fed up
and decided I wanted to do something else so I didn't go to conventions. I
didn't go to the WorldCon between '53 and '59;
and then I only went because Ned wanted to take some books down and sell
them. The '59 convention was in Detroit so we did it more or less on
a shoestring. Then we went the following year, to Pittsburgh, for the same reason. I
didn't go again until '66, in Cleveland.
MS: Did you notice much of a
change between the '59 and then '66 conventions?
JM: There was a big difference.
Television had come into its own. There were a couple of television groups
there taking videos, and they also showed the first pilot film of Star Trek at that convention. It
wasn't a terrifically large convention, but it was one of the bigger ones
up to that day, and I got a sense that there was a lot of interest from a
lot of different areas, a lot more than in the previous years.
MS: When you dropped out of
convention going, did you also stop reading fanzines?
JM: I kept reading the magazines
but I don't think I got a lot of fanzines. A few, maybe.
MS: Was there a change or
progression that you noticed in the way that fanzines were done through the
decade of the fifties?
JM: Yes. Of course, some of them
in the early years were on hectographs. Then people got, what today we'd
call, inexpensive mimeographs. But they weren't inexpensive then. It was a
pretty big price in those days.
MS: After the'66 convention,
which was your next WorldCon?
JM: That was the one in St. Louis in '69. It was a fairly large
convention. A lot of people came that I hadn't seen for a long time. That
began my last binge of going to WorldCons,
although the '70 WorldCon was held in Germany and I didn't go to that. We
had a convention here, a local convention. After the '66 convention in Cleveland, there was a group organized
in Toronto called the Ontario Science Fiction Club. I
didn't have anything to do with it at the time; I didn't really know
anything about it. It was organized by Peter Gill, Mike Glicksshn,
Ken Smokler and a girl who's
name I can't remember right now. These four started it. They originally met
in a bookstore run by Capt. George Henderson. They held a convention, I
don't remember if it was two or three days … but they held the
convention on Markham Street. Some of them went to the
convention in St. Louis. I met some of them there.
Peter mentioned that he was organizing another convention to be held in Toronto, late in August, which was
going to be more or less the same weekend as the convention in Germany, in Heidelberg. He had written them to ask
if they thought it would cause them any problems and they said they didn't
think so. So he organized that convention, and we had Isaac Asimov and Anne
McCaffrey as our guests. It worked out very well. There were a lot of
people in the northeastern part of North America who really couldn't afford to
go to Germany for the WorldCon,
so they came to this convention. During that convention, which ran very
well and people were quite happy with it, people said, "Why don't you
go for a WorldCon?"
MS: Any idea how many people
were at this convention?
JM: Oh, maybe three hundred and
fifty or four hundred. So we held a meeting after the convention and
decided to go for it. The next bid came up for 1973, so we had three years
to prepare the bid. We started advertising that we were gang to be bidding
for it. The competition we had at the time was an organization in Dallas which had been working on it
for a number of years, and Minneapolis was also thinking of bidding
for it. The bidding was being held in Boston in '71. Prior to that
convention, the Dallas group broke up completely;
the guy that was running it decided that he wasn't going to stay around Dallas anymore and moved to California. The whole bid collapsed. And
then, just prior to going to the Boston convention, the fellow who
masterminded the Minneapolis bid had some family problems and had to drop
out, so that collapsed. We more or less won by default. We picked it up and
had two years to go ahead with it; it was held in 1973, on a Labour Day weekend, at the Royal York Hotel. It was a
good convention, we had about three thousand
people there. My own feeling is that it was probably the last of the WorldCons that were really fannish
in character. There was quite a bit of promotion going on; the television,
the radio, the newspapers were around and all this stuff, but we kept the
programming as fannish as possible. We didn't
over program, we under programmed. I was strongly in favour
of under programming; after all, the convention is for people to gather so
that they can talk to each other. If you have too much programming,
everybody wants to go to the programming; they don't have time to see their
friends. That's one of the reasons we had the convention. We didn't program
during times when you would want to go for a meal,
or something like that. We tried to keep it … well,
it was organized, but not over organized. We had a banquet, which they
don't have very often now because it's too big and too costly.
MS: Did you think the three
thousand people were too many?
JM: It was just about the right
figure at the time. Today, you couldn't have a WorldCon
in Toronto, because the function space isn't big enough.
You'd have to go to the Convention Centre and use the hotels for accommodations
… bedroom space, and for partying. I'd agree that if you're going to
use the Convention Centre you should use it totally… putting
everything having to do with programming, huckster room, everything else,
should be in the Convention Centre. You should not split it up. You're
going to have to pay for the whole Convention Centre anyway, so you might
as well go ahead and have it all there. Then use the hotels for sleeping
accommodation and partying later.
MS: Was the '73 convention the
last which you were involved in organizing?
JM: Yes. And I'm thankful that
we did it then. I wouldn't want to have anything to do with it today; it's
not worth it. After the '74 convention in Washington, '75 was the first convention
that was held in Australia and I enjoyed that. It was a
small convention; there wasn't more than six hundred
people. I quite enjoyed that. There was a group of about sixty
people who went on a conducted tour and there were some other people who
came on their own. I went on, attending conventions, until 1980. Then I had
a bit of a financial reversal and didn't go to Denver in'81. When I got to working
it out, I was spending a lot of money at these things … airfares,
accommodations. You spend a lot of money on meals. I found I was spending a
lot of money but not getting a lot out of it.
MS: Did you go to Seacon in Brighton in '79?
JM: Yes, we went for just over
three weeks. But I enjoyed the part where we travelled
around England more. I enjoyed the
convention, but I enjoyed the touring we did more than anything else. There
was a friend of mine who went with me and we travelled
with another couple. These friends go to the conventions, but they're not
joiners, they don't belong to any fan clubs or anything. They enjoy science
fiction, they read it. They go to conventions quite frequently, more or
less to go to the huckster rooms and buy books and stuff. And I think there
are a lot of people like that. As I say, fans are so individualistic. They
just are really not interested in being a member of a group.
MS: Do you think that's why
there's never been a large, successful, science fiction club in Toronto?
JM: Well there's a lot of
interest in the Toronto area, but there's so many
different players, and none of them want to give in to the others. There's
a lot of people here who'd like to put on a WorldCon
in this area, but somebody wants to be Chairman but nobody else wants to
help—they want to be Chairman too. I think that's where the problem
lies. They just don't seem to see eye to eye. I don't know if they'll ever
MS: That again comes back to
everybody being such an individual …
JM: Yes, that has a lot to do
with it. I don't think there'd be any problem getting a convention in
Toronto, if they worked on it. The city has a lot going for it, and a lot
of people would come to a convention in Toronto. But it's a large
undertaking—a minimum of six years, depending on when you start your
bid—at least three years to start your bid and of course its selected
three years ahead of time. That's a long time to keep a volunteer group
MS: That it is!
JM: And that's where a lot of
the problems lie. There are some people who don't understand this
situation. The only thing that a person gets out of working on a convention
is the satisfaction of doing a good job. They're not getting paid for it.
There are some people who run conventions who don't understand that.
So the last WorldCon I went
to was in 1980, Boston. It was a very large convention, It was well organized since the Boston group
are very good at it. But you couldn't go to everything, there was just too
much of it.
MS: Do you think you'll ever go
again to a WorldCon.
JM: Well, I'm going to the 1988
convention in New Orleans, but only because it's in New Orleans. A friend of mine wants to
MS: I've heard a lot of people
say that. I understand that the core group of people who organized the Toronto convention in '73 more or
less split up in the aftermath of that con.
JM: There are some of them
around, but a lot of them weren't really interested afterwards. I never see
some of them today.
MS: Was it just the amount of
work and the amount of pressure involved in putting on something that big?
JM: Well, I think it's just that
your ideas change, your thoughts change, your
interests change. And it is a busy time when you are trying to run a
convention; there are lots of things to do. Peter and I were the fellows
who did most of the work. When the convention was over, there was this big
open gap. We had worked up to a point and then it all collapsed because it
was all over; then you just have a loss … a sense of loss because
you're not so busy… you don't have a deadline to meet anymore.
MS: From the point of view of
First Fandom, what does fandom today look like to you? What do you see when
you look at fandom today?
JM: Well, that's a very hard
question to answer, in a number of ways. Today, I don't consider the WorldCon to be a fan convention. I look at it as a
commercial venture. It no longer caters to the fan; it caters to the
professional and commercial person—the author, the artist, the guys
that go to huckster books. A lot of people who were
fans years ago, are now commercial hacks. There's money to be made in the
field, so that's now what it's all about. It's really a commercial
undertaking. They make lots of money at these things, if they watch their p's and q's. Baltimore in '83 went in the hole
because they didn't pay attention to their budgets.
MS: Does it bother you that
while the size of fandom seems to be increasing, the number of people who
actually read science fiction seems to be dropping.
JM: I don't know. There must be
a large number of people who read science fiction but don't dabble in the
fandom part of it. If they weren't selling the stuff, they wouldn't be
publishing it; and there's a lot of it being published, a hell of a lot!
You can't keep up with it. So they must be making money at it somewhere.
I think that a lot of the people going to the WorldCon aren't really interested in science fiction. I
think they're interested in going to a big blowout, to get lots of
freebies, to go to lots of parties. There are all kinds of activities going
on. With a large membership, large attendance, like that you've got to have
lots of things for everybody. And that's what I really don't like about it.
Back in the early days, if you got three or four fans together, that was a
convention… because you had a kindred soul, you had somebody who was
interested and you wanted to talk about it. And that's why the conventions
were originally started. So that people could get together and talk about
science fiction and the things that went on in science fiction. Of course,
everybody that organized something, wanted to get a lot more people
interested, so they tried to promote it. I've come to the conclusion in
recent years that we've succeeded far more than we wanted to. As far as I'm
concerned, I don't like it.
MS: You think fandom is too big
for itself now?
JM: I don't think it's really
fandom anymore. It's just an organization. As I say, I think a lot of
people don't bother reading this material. You talk about some of the early
authors and many people haven't heard of them.
MS: Do you think that part of it
is that fandom no longer has a sense of its own history? That it's very
much a here-and-now thing, without continuity?
JM: It has continuity if you
look for it. It's there. But a lot of people don't have a sense of history—when
did this begin, and why did it begin. They don't seem to be interested.
It's unfortunate, but that's the way it is. A lot of people have come in
from Star Trek, Star Wars … some of them have
learned about science fiction and its early beginnings. Some of them are
just faddists; they are really just interested in the one individual who
played a certain part, and are not really interested in the field in
Diana Wynne Jones was a Special Guest at the 1988
World Fantasy Convention heldin London, England in October, 1988.
I can't possibly cover all 19 of Diana Wynne Jones'
books at once, but I hope I can whet your appetite to try them all—they're
never less than good and several are excellent—full of humour, life and imagination. Her first, Wilkins' Tooth, was published in
1973 and she's published almost one a year ever since. To make up for the
couple of years, she missed she published two or three books in other
years. They're all fantasies, although A
Tale of Time City and The
Homeward Bounders do have more science fiction elements that the rest.
Jones is a master when it comes to building believable
and consistent worlds. Three novels, Cart
and Cwidder, Drowned Ammet and The Spellcoats
are set in a land called Dalemark. Cart and Cwidder
and Drowned Ammet
take place at the same time, the different characters and different events
that intersect occasionally in ways that affect the stories little but
provide a more rounded view of Dalemark. The Spellcoats
is also set in Dalemark, but so much earlier than
the first two books that it has blended into their mythology. Several of
the books feature worlds parallel to ours, separated by having taken a
different fork in the road of history (e.g. the French won at Agincourt instead of the English, or
Napoleon defeated Wellington at Waterloo). Depending on how long ago
the division was, the differences may be great or small but Jones never
lets a world get out of character, and in all of the worlds but ours magic
works. Actually, magic is important in almost all of Jones's books. Even
when the world seems to be ours, strange things happen.
The main characters are usually fairly ordinary
children or young adults. Even in the Chrestomanci
books Chrestomanci himself is never the main
character. Important, yes, but secondary to Cat and Gwendden
in Charmed Life to Tonlo in The
Magicians of Caprona, and to most of Class 2Y
in Witch Week. They are often
from unhappy homes, or orphaned, or both. Kathleen in Dogsbody is living with
unkind relatives while her father is in the maze Prison. Polly in Fire and Hemlock comes from a broken
home. In The Ogre Downstairs the
five children are part of a blended family, and the Ogre is an irritable
stepfather who isn't used to living with active children (even his own).
David in Eight Days of Luke is an
orphan cared for by four unsympathetic hypochondriac relatives. In Cart and Cwidder
one boy watches his brother hanged, and others see their father murdered.
In The Homeward Bounders a twelve
year old boy. is torn from his home and family in his own world and sent to
travel through all the worlds, never to see home again. Many characters
come from unhappy homes. In The Time
of the Ghost the ghost is one of four neglected daughters (but which
one?) of a couple who run a boys boarding school
but have no time for their own children. However unhappy their situations
at the start of the story, though, the characters usually manage to improve
(or at least adjust to) it by the end.
Eight Days of
Luke and Fire and Hemlock both draw on myth
and legend. Eight Days of Luke uses
Norse mythology, and half the fun is figuring out who Luke is and why he
was imprisoned, and why Mr. Wedding and the mysterious Frys
and Mr. Chew are after him. Seeing David get the better of his obnoxious
relatives and discover that one of them isn't so bad after all is fun too. Fire and Hemlock goes back to Tam
Lin and Thomas the Rhymer, and the stories of
humans taken by the fairies and how they are redeemed.
One of the joys of Jones' books is her sense of humour. It takes a special kind of mind to come up with
the chemistry sets of The Ogre
Downstairs, with odd items like Vol. pulv. which makes living things fly, and Animal spirits which makes
inanimate objects (like toffee bars and mechano
sets) live. Or the story that Polly and Tom invent in Fire and Hemlock, spelling errors and all. Or the magical duels
in The Magicians of Caprona, where the sky rains cowpats. Or the
persecution of the Sykes family in Archer's
Goon by the wizards who control their town—power outages, road
crews, marching bands and all. It's marvellous.
Her inventiveness shows in the details. In Power of Three Jones uses a form of
precognition which, while not a comfortable gift, would at least enable the
person afflicted to live with it. With the Gift of Sight the holder can
only foretell in response to a direct question. Of course, one has to ask
the right question.
Charmed Life is one of Jones' best books.
It tells of Cat, who has no magical talent, and his older sister Gwendolen, a witch with a huge appetite for power and
no scruples. After they are orphaned, Cat and Gwendolen
are taken in by Mrs. Sharp, a Certified Witch. She arranges for Gwendolen to be taught all that the local wizards and
warlocks can manage, then Gwendolen, as part of a
larger plot, gets them taken to live with Chrestomanci,
the man who keeps the use of magic from getting out of hand in all the
worlds. Gwendolen, feeling unappreciated at Chrestomanci castle, goes on a diabolically
entertaining magical rampage, then escapes into
another world, displacing all her counterparts in the other worlds. Janet
is the counterpart drawn from our world into Chrestomanci's
to replace Gwendolen. she
and Cat must conceal that she is not Gwendolen,
while trying to figure out what Gwendolen is up
to, and the secret of Gwendolen's power, It's a
lovely book, full of humour and unexpected
twists, and the characters are very real.
A recent book by Jones is A Tale of Time City. In 1939 Vivian Smith is being evacuated
from the bombing in London with hundreds of other
children. On the platform of the train station she is abducted by two
strange boys, Jonathan and Sam, and taken to TimeCity. TimeCity was built on a patch of time
and space outside history by Faber John and his wife, the mysterious Time
Lady. However, its patch of time and space is almost worn out, and it's
going to be destroyed unless Faber John can be found and the city renewed.
Unfortunately, Jonathan and Sam have kidnapped the wrong person, and they
can't send her back because her era is unstable (events can be changed by
interference) and somehow the start of World War II has been pushed back to
1938, and it's still changing. Also, Sam can't get his father's keys to the
time lock again. They pass Vivian off as a cousin whose parents are
observers in that era, and who has been sent home for safety, and they
introduce her to the wonders of TimeCity, including the "time
ghosts" and butter pies. They also find a disused time lock, and time
ghosts of Jonathan and Vivian. Time ghosts are formed when someone in the
grip of strong emotion does something, and they recur at the same time
every day. Vivian must help Sam and Jonathan figure out how to save TimeCity and who is altering the
unstable eras before she can go home, and the solution and conclusion are
quite satisfying. As usual; Jones builds believable characters and
motivations, and the story is involving. The major flaw is the concept of
time—the renewal of TimeCity seemed to mean that it went
on as before, but the normal flow of time and space was finite and
circular. The eras did not flow together—they seemed to exist
independently, like separate worlds, rather than as part of a continuum.
How, for example, in a flow of time, can one alter an "unstable"
era without changing the "stable" eras too? However, that aside,
this is still a tale worth reading.
To conclude, a chronological list of Diana Wynne
Wilkins' Tooth (1973), The Ogre Downstairs (1974), Cart
and Cwidder (1975), Eight Days of Luke (1975),Dogsbody (1975), Power of Three (1976), Charmed Life (1977), Drowned Ammet
(1977), The Spellcoats
(1979), The Four Grannies (1980),
The Magicians of Caprona
(1980), The Homeward Bounders
(1981), The Time of the Ghost
(1981), Witch Week (1982), Archers Goon (1984), Warlock at the Wheel and Other Stories
(1984), Fire and Hemlock (1985), Howl's Moving Castle (1986), A Tale of Time City (1987), The Lives of Christopher Chant (1988).
The following is a listing of the science fiction,
fantasy and speculative fiction published by Canadians in 1988. This list
has been derived from the nominations list for the 1989 Canadian Science
Fiction and Fantasy (CASPER) Awards. We welcome any additions or
corrections. We welcome all authors, publishers, and other knowledgeable
individuals to keep us informed of works in the sf
field by all Canadians so that we may publish as complete and comprehensive
a list as possible each year.
Novels - English language
Addison, Joseph, Tesseract,
Ballantine/ Del Rey
Michael Greatrex, Fang the Gnome, Signet
De Lint, Chales, Greenmantle, Ace
De Lint, Charles, Wolf Moon, Signet
Candas Jane, Machine Sex and other Stories, Porcepic/Tesseract
Drew, Wayland, Willow, DelRey
Dave, The Reluctant Swordsman,
Dave, The Coming of Wisdom,
Dave, The Destiny of the Sword,
Gaddalah, Leslie, The Loremasters, Ballantine/Del Rey
William, Mona Lisa Overdrive,
Terrence M., Barking Dogs, St. Martin's Press
Henighan, Tom, The Well of Time, Collins
Huff, Tanya, Child
of the Grove, DAW
Monica, The Dream Catcher, Methuen
Hazel, Casey Webber the Great,
Kilian, Crawford, Rogue
Emperor, Ballantine/Del Rey
Book Dragon, MacMillan
Luiken, Nicole, Escape
to the Overworld, Tree Frog Press
O'Riordan, Robert, Cadre Messiah, Ace
Pasnak, Willian, Under the Eagle's Claw, Groundwood
Neil, Ultra Deadly, TSR Incorp
Stirling, Steve M., Marching Through Georgia, Baen
Vonarburg, Elisabeth, The SilentCity, Porcepic
·Wynn-Jones, Timothy, Fastyngange, Lester and OrpenDennys
Short Work - English
Jo, "The Fruit Picker", Writers
of the Future IV
Choyce, Lesley, "December Six", December Six,/The Halifax Solution, Pottersfield Press
Lint, Charles, "Gipsy Davey", Mythic Circle #5
Lint, Charles, "Into the Green", Sword & Sorceress V, DAW
Lint, Charles, ""Maple Sugar", Mothering #50
Lint, Charles, "One Chance", Werewolves, Harper and Row
Lint, Charles, "Scars", Horror
Show, Vol. 6 No. 1
·De Lint, Charles, "The Skin and Knife Game" (collaboraton with Lee Barwood),
Liavek: Spells of Binding,Ace
Lint, Charles, "The Soft Whisper of Snow", Pulphouse,
Issue One, Eugene: Pulphouse Publishing
appearance of the previous issue of Sol Rising, two
valued friends of The Spaced Out Library have passed away. Even though some
time has passed and obituaries have appeared elsewhere, these two gentlemen
held a special place in our heart and we asked a friend of each to tell us
a little bit more about them and their contributions to Canadian science
fiction and fandom.
John Roy, a good friend of The Spaced Out Library,
died on December 8, 1987. Those of us lucky enough to
know him were aware that he was a bonafide
gentleman—one of those quiet, gentle, generous humans that this
planet could use more of.
Born February 19, 1913 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, John grew up an avid reader.
While still in school he discovered Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars novels in
the local library. They must have made quite an impression because he never
lost his love of science fiction and fantasy. Years later he authored A Reader's Guide to Barsoom
(Ballantine, 1976), a book billed as "the
intelligent reader's guide to ERB's fabled
John was accepted into the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police in 1937 and retired 34 years later as a Sergeant—the same rank
as those other estimable Mounties, Sergeants King
and Preston. After his retirement he and
his wife, Evaleen, bought a 100-year old house in
Following his marriage in 1944 John began rebuilding
his personal library. Eventually he became the proud possessor of an entire
room of Burroughsiana, including some two hundred
hardcover editions, hundreds of paperbacks, numerous pulps and fanzines,
maps and other miscellania. It was a routine
advertisement in the June 1957 Science
Fiction Adventures that led him to the Burroughs Bibliophiles
organization, where he soon became a leading contributor to such fanzines as
John was a long-time member of First Fandom, one of only three Canadians so
honoured. In recent years he was an active
supporter of the annual PulpCon and contributed
numerous letters and articles to the burgeoning pulp fanzines. In 1985 he
received the coveted "Lamont Award", and in 1986 the "Edgar
Rice Burroughs Lifetime Achievement Award".
Friends and neighbours
report that John's final year was an active and happy one, despite
recurring heart problems. He spent the winter in Arizona, attended Burroughs group
meetings in spring and summer, PulpCon in July, a
Zane Grey Society meeting and Detroit's Classicon
in the autumn. Now a widower, it was typical of John that he began donating
many of his personal possessions to various charities. Only a short while
before his death he drove down to Toronto in order to contribute much
of his precious sf collection to The Spaced Out
My favourite memory-photo of
John Roy will always be that of him behind his "huckster's" table
each year at PulpCon, dressed invariably but
uncharacteristically in a lurid "Captain Canuck" T-shirt. I
remember trading items with John. On two different occasions he sought me
out later to give me some extra book or magazine because he was worried
that perhaps he might have got the better of the original deal. Some
huckster, John. He is truly missed.
R. Bruce Robbins
Bruce Robbins, "a fan of science fiction and
fantasy, in all its forms", as he once described himself, died in Oakville, Ontario on November 2nd, 1987.
Bruce Robbins was born on February 2nd in Norfolk, Virginia, the eldest of a family of
seven. After brilliant studies in mathematics, he crossed the border in the
sixties—his father had been born in Canada—and established himself
in Montreal, where he worked for the Sun Life Insurance
From then until leaving for Toronto in the summer of 1980, he was
active in the science fiction milieu of Montreal, whether French or English.
As he said: "I have never restricted my attention to one
language", and indeed he would always bring us to a wider, broader
view of all the aspects of the fields.
Along the years, he published at least 9 issues of his
fanzine Paradox, 5 issues of his
book catalog, Fantasy Specialist,
replete with data, criticisms and the occasional short story. He would
occasionally rent a huckster's table in Toronto, to be present with French
and Quebecois books and magazines, among which was Versin's
splendid encyclopedia which he planned to translate.
He bequeathed his huge collection to The Spaced Out
Library in Toronto and to La Maisond'ailleurs, in Yverdon, Switzerland. Thus, through the end, he
was a man of generosity.
The July 27
appearance at The Spaced Out Library by Kim Stanley Robinson is made
possible by the bequest to the Library by Mr. Robbins.