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Igor Morski Madonna

Via a comment over on croneitude's LJ I've discovered the artwork of contemporary Polish surrealist Igor Morski. He was born the same year I was. His stuff is whimsical, weird, and often disturbing. He works with photos a lot, heightening the effects that, for example, Magritte got with super-realistic depictions of unreal things. It also gives his stuff a very commercial look that sometimes seems trite. But there be demons in those frames ...

A Maze of Death by Philip K. Dick

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Maze of DeathBeware SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm rereading more than I expected to on this Dick binge. Like the other two rereads, however, it has been so long since I first read A Maze of Death that all I remembered about it was that it was vaguely dissatisfying. I felt that way again this time ... until I got to the end, where Dick pulls one of his patented reality shifts. This time it's almost literally "it was all a dream," which may have felt like a cheat to me when I was younger, but Dick actually rings some changes on the formula that make it more interesting than it might have been.

One reason I've reread the books I have -- Ubik, Galactic-Pot Healer, and A Maze of Death -- is that they were written around the same time, along with the one book I read for the first time, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? You certainly notice some common themes when you read theses books in close proximity. There's an exploration of group consciousness, for example, in Ubik and Galactic Pot-Healer that's taken up in A Maze of Death as well. Thus one change run on the "it was all a dream" formula is that it's a group dream. The group that initially appears to be a random aggregation of colonists on the planet Delmak-O turn out to actually be shipmates on an interstellar craft that has become disabled, dooming them all to a certain death. Their group dream is an attempt to distract themselves from their existential plight as well as to work out psychological tensions within the group as they wait to die. Those tensions, however, are infecting the group dream, turning an exercise in group building (the colonizing of Delmak-O) into a story about a bunch of convicted murderers who have been subjected to an experimental attempt to rehabilitate them in a fantasy about working together to colonize an alien planet.

One of the things Dick is playing with in these books is the advantages and disadvantages of social groups. Another thing that A Maze of Death shares with Ubik is a sense that separation from the group means death. This is depicted in the most primal way, without any theoretical apparatus to explain it. There's a sense that other people, as hateful as they may be (and almost everyone in A Maze of Death is hateful, even murderously so), are a source of life, as necessary to the survival of the individual as rain and sun is to a plant. The flipside of this sense of nourishment from society is the sense that we all die alone. Death is a private, singular affair that can't be shared with the group.

A Maze of Death shares with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Galactic Pot-Healer the invention of new religious mythologies and beliefs. (Arguably Ubik does too, although it's less direct.) In the shared dream in A Maze of Death, the deities of the characters' religion are considered real and observable, not a matter of faith. Religion is therefore very matter-of-fact and barely subject to question, unlike Mercerism in Androids, which is treated skeptically by Deckard and by the androids themselves. Androids is probably the least metaphysical of the four books, although even in A Maze of Death the apparently empirical religion ends up being part of a dream, with the author of the scriptures that everybody quotes turning out to be the dead captain of the doomed spaceship. Dick seems obsessed already with theological questions, yet typically he weaves between prophetic certainty and skeptical ambivalence with disturbing ease. However, one of the fascinating moves in the final chapter is when Seth Morley meets one of the deities from the shared dream after he's awakened from it. He physically vanishes from the ship, leaving no trace, which implies that he's been taken away by the deity, but this is left ambiguous. Has the religion bled from the dream world into reality?

So why did I feel vaguely dissatisfied with the book until the end One was the welter of character viewpoints, which feels very messy and which Dick tries to defend in his Author's Foreword by claiming that while the viewpoint wanders between characters, it's mostly from Seth Morley's POV. I'm not sure that latter is actually true, but it's also true that when the nature of the shared dream is revealed, the wandering viewpoint starts to make more sense. This is a group consciousness, without a central viewpoint. The other thing that nagged at me was the simple-mindedness, if not stupidity, of some of the stfnal material, such as the little oneway spaceships that the people use to get to Delmak-O, which make absolutely no sense. Once again, once you discover that it's all a dream, the illogicality of these things makes more sense. In fact, the book feels more like a satire of SF -- or perhaps a commentary on the dreamlike, absurd qualities of the stfnal imagination.

I was a little surprised to see that the Library of America had included this book in one of their three collections of Dick's most important novels. However, the way that this one expands in the mind is starting to turn me around a bit. Perhaps I should actually read Now Wait for Last Year before I decide conclusively that they were crazy to include it!

Curt Phillips for TAFF!

CP-TAFF-2014 We are approaching the deadline for voting in TAFF this year. It's April 22nd. I am one of the nominators of Curt Phillips, and I strongly encourage eligible voters to vote for Curt. (If you don't know what TAFF is, you probably aren't eligible to vote.)

If you want to know more about Curt and why he would make such a great TAFF delegate, I further encourage you to download the collection of his writing put together by his nominators and friends. Curt Phillips for TAFF! is now available at eFanzines. This is a fine collection of fan writing, and a good introduction to Curt. Please take a look, and please vote.


Musical interlude

It's been a while since I wrote about what I've been listening to. When last I reported, I was focused on Schoenberg and Mahler. That continued for a while, and in particular I got deeper into Mahler. My favorite piece by him is the song cycle, Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth), but I'm also quite fond of the Fourth and Fifth Symphonies. (The Adagietto of the Fifth was conducted by Leonard Bernstein at JFK's funeral.) The Sixth and Seventh Symphonies are still on the agenda.

In the meantime, however, I figured I'd been focused on the early 20th Century for long enough, so I turned my attention to Aaron Copland and Benjamin Britten. For Copland this has been the Third Symphony, which I got on a CD that also included Roy Harris' Third, which I've therefore also been listening to. For Britten I first picked up the War Requiem, but I bounced off that. After watching Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom for the third time and finally realizing how deeply embedded Britten's music is in that film, I pursued some of that music. So far that's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (without the narrative) and Simple Symphony -- the latter of which is based on music he wrote between the ages of ten and thirteen. Britten strikes me as something of a post-modernist who adopted elements of musical styles of all eras and apparently of other cultures as well (e.g., gamelan music). A bit of a chameleon.

The other Britten work used heavily in Moonrise Kingdom (both as a source of music and as a source of narrative) is the "opera for amateurs," Noye's Fludde, and indeed it is in opera that Britten seemed have left his strongest mark. There's a lot more for me to explore there, and in general I haven't gotten very far in opera lately, although I did spend a few months delving into Wagner's Ring Cycle, so there's that.

Also I recently uncovered a list of Great Twentieth Century Music that I made a couple of years ago, and that prompted me to go back and to listen to a few things I'd been listening to when I made the list, including Stravinsky, Bartok, Ravel, John Cage (Sonatas and Interludes) and Steve Reich. It also reminded me that I hadn't tried any of Ravel's chamber music, other than the string quartet, so I've been loading up on his solo piano music, piano trio, sonatas for violin and cello and for violin and piano, and the Introduction and Allegro for harp, flute, clarinet, and string quartet -- all of which is remarkably beautiful. Ravel continues to be a revelation for me. I can get lost in dreamland listening to the piano music of Satie, Ravel, and Cage.

In 21st Century music, I've picked up a couple of CDs recommended by Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, which I'd just discovered in that last post about music here. First up was an album called String Paths by Elena Tabakova. I have mixed feelings about her music, which sounds a lot like film music at times, but I've liked "Frozen River Flows" quite a bit. The other album I've been listening to quite a bit is In the Library of Dreams by Frances White. Again, mixed reactions to various pieces (and I really don't like "The Book of Roses and Memory" at all), but two of them I like a lot: "The Ocean Inside" and "In the Library of Dreams". White's music sounds ambient to me at times, and she gets into sonic textures that sometimes remind me of Kaija Saariaho. Speaking of whom, I continue to find Saariaho a fairly daunting, difficult composer, but the more I listen, the more I like. Her opera, L'amour de loin, is still the best thing I've heard by her.

For further study: In a piece about Sibelius' Seventh Symphony (still a benchmark work for my engagement with 20th Century classical music), Tom Service brings up the concept of metric modulation -- "in which you use a common unit of musical time to elide from one speed to another" -- in his discussion of how Sibelius creates a sense of "musical time-warp." I think this probably gets at the sense of organic unfurling I get from the piece -- the way that it finds points of connection or commonality between two apparently very different tempos and uses them to transition.


Spokane word

Spokane-Clock Tower
View from the convention center

I spent the weekend in Spokane with akirlu attending a facilities walk-through and planning meetings for Sasquan, the 2015 World Science Fiction Convention, and also just poking around the city, which I had never visited before. akirlu and I (as well as other of the usual suspects amongst Seattle fanzine fandom) are running the fanzine lounge in 2015, and she thought it would be a good idea for us to meet the committee and especially to talk to Randy Smith, who is head of the Exhibits division, which is handling the fanzine lounge. Indeed, of the roughly twenty people who came for the weekend, I had met only five before, so it was probably good to make ourselves known to more of them.

These were the first Worldcon planning meetings that I've ever observed, and it confirmed my feeling that it's not something I'd want to do very much of, while at the same time being fascinating and educational in a variety of ways, from people to process to politics. There were a lot of jokes about Worldcon sausage being made, and the jokes seemed appropriate. It was great to spend some time with Randy Smith (one of four Randys I encountered over the weekend), who is very interested in the fanzine lounge even though it's only one small corner of what he's dealing with. It was also a pleasure to meet and start to get acquainted with various other folks, including the Chair, Sally Woehrle. A lot of folks were from out of state, but there were also a number of us from the Seattle area and a contingent of locals. The politics of outreach to the locals, and the different convention-running cultures on each side of the mountains, was one of the more interesting topics of the weekend. All in all, I was impressed with the people running the show.

Alongside all that was the exploration of Spokane itself, and I came away impressed with that as well. First off, there's something like seven micro-breweries, which is a good way to win my heart. We visited two of them, NoLi Brewhouse and 12 Strings Brewing Company, and I liked them both. The NoLi also has a pretty good food menu that included poutine. (I had the steak salad.) A group of us had lunch at the Saranac Public House, which has a good selection of beers from around the West Coast and a nice food menu as well. That's just the tip of the beer iceberg. akirlu and I also had dinner at Wild Sage Bistro, which was a little spendy but utterly fantastic. The flash fried calamari, which had been soaked in buttermilk over night and was served on a bed of shredded home made kimchee and pepperocinis, was to die for. We twice ate breakfast at Frank's Diner, which has great food and is located in an ornate old railway car. In general I got a strong impression that there's a good foodie thing going on in Spokane.

The downtown area is pretty interesting, with some cool old office buildings and a couple of architecturally impressive churches. The Davenport Hotel, which will be the party hotel, is just as spectacular and elegant as advertised. Some of the ballrooms, which the convention may or may not be able to use (they are still negotiating), are truly astonishing. The convention center is set right on the river across from a lovely city park. There seem to be a lot of restaurants and bars in the area, as well as some interesting looking shops.

Well, as I say, I was impressed. I know that there's been a fair amount of skepticism about this convention, but I hope folks will give it another look. Aside from everything else going on, we are going to do our best to make the fanzine lounge a happening place for birds of our feather and any and all folks looking for a port in the Worldcon storm. I honestly think we could have a total blast out there in Spokane, which was the earliest European settlement in Washington State (circa 1810, so not long after the Lewis and Clark Expedition) and feels like a place with real, live history. There's gold in them thar hills, I do believe.

Spokane-Davenport Ballroom
Viewing the Marie Antoinette Ballroom in the Davenport Hotel

Galactic Pot-Healer by Philip K. Dick

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Still bingeing on Dick, but this is another re-read. The first time I read Galactic Pot-Healer was back in college, when I read an essay by Le Guin where she called it one of her favorite Dick novels. At the time I found the first half hilariously funny, and the second half confusing, weird, and very dark. This time around I still found the shift in tone, although it didn't seem as dramatic. The religious or metaphysical themes seemed clearer to me this time around. I'm still not sure what I think of the novel as a whole.

The basic set-up is that Joe Fernwright is a sadsack pot-healer, just as his father was a pot-healer before him. What's a pot-healer? Someone who heals ceramic pots. Right up front we have an oddball occupation, and there's a lot of absurdist humor that plays off it. The SFE article on Dick says, "it begins almost as a parody." Joe is broke and unhappy, but out of the blue he is contacted by Glimmung -- a vast alien being who wants him to come to Plowman's Planet to help him and a collection of other artisans in some kind of act of restoration. Eventually Joe ends up on this planet, where he discovers that there is a great struggle going on between Glimmung and submerged forces of darkness. Not that Glimmung is all lightness and good itself.

Essentially Joe becomes embroiled in a cosmic battle between opposed forces, although the opposition isn't perhaps purely Good vs. Evil, Darkness vs Light, or Male vs. Female. Also, Dick is never about heroic battles. Joe is a schlub, and his participation in the battle is one of pratfalls, exhausted resignation, and bad decisions. Yet somehow even his failures aren't exactly defeats. Everything is mixed, each outcome is ambiguous or ambivalent, and there doesn't seem to be a one true way through the mess and morass of decisions and efforts and oppositions. This leaves the narrative feeling a bit aimless at times, as characters charge off to do something, only to be called back to do something else instead. Joe changes his mind repeatedly, his moods shifting like the weak ocean tides on Plowman's Planet.

Not the edition I read this time, but I love this cover

It feels aimless, yet there's something compelling about the mutating seesaw oceanic transformations of the plot. Part of it is the goofy sense of humor, which has a lot of fun, for example, with the ragtag collection of alien species brought to Plowman's Planet by Glimmung. One scene features "a chitinous multilegged quasiarachnid and a large bivalve with pseudopodia arguing about Goethe's Faust." Gradually Joe forms a bond with a few of these goofy aliens (including "Nurb K’ohl Dáq, the warmhearted bivalve"), and at one point he is even forced into a collective consciousness with all of them. Suddenly what began "almost as a parody" turns into a serious consideration of ideas about collective consciousness, layered on top of a range of gnostic ideas about a conflict between opposing creative/destructive demiurges. The tide shifts again.

One of Dick's great strengths as a writer is his ability to convey ambivalent and conflicted feelings in his characters. Joe perceives his ex-wife as a castrating bitch, yet he also knows that she's smarter than he is and humiliates himself by calling her up to ask for advice, knowing he'll be greeted with a blast of scorn. He's at least partly motivated by loneliness. Even her sneering contempt is a bit of almost comforting attention in a moment of despair. This sort of beat-down human neediness leading to unfortunate decisions makes his protagonists incredibly sympathetic to a lot of readers, which may be the real source of Dick's popularity. The identification with the protagonist can balance out a lot of narrative and ideational confusion.

One odd little sidenote is that Joe's alien (but humanoid) girlfriend in this book is named Mali. Deckard's wife in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is named Iran. I don't remember Dick naming a lot of characters after countries, but are there others?

Search Term of the Day

Yesterday the following search string reached my film blog: "gravity too melodramatic". Well, that was probably a satisfied searcher ("The character moments felt too melodramatic to me," I wrote, regarding Gravity), but the lower case makes it a pretty funny statement in its own right. As we liked to say in my younger days, "Gravity sucks!"


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Do AndroidsI recently read Ubik for at least the third time, and it has inspired me to read some of the books by Dick that I've never read before. First up was Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep?, which was of course adapted into one of my very favorite movies, Blade Runner. In fact the edition of the book I read was the Del Rey that uses the title Blade Runner and features stills from the movie on the front and back covers.

I already knew that the book was a lot different from the movie, and I even already knew some of the ways in which it was different, including the greater focus on animals and their simulacra (thus the electric sheep of the title), which is passingly alluded to in the movie with the owl in Tyrel's office, and the religion of Mercerism, which is completely absent from the movie. Both of these things are part of the book's theme of empathy, which is something that the androids are supposedly incapable of. As so often in his books, Dick seems ambivalent about what the lack of empathy in the androids means. Deckard, the bounty hunter who makes his living killing androids, suffers empathy almost like a sickness. "Mercer said it was wrong [to kill androids]," he tells his wife, "but I should do it anyhow. Really weird. Sometimes it's better to do something wrong than right."

Dick is constantly embracing contradictions like that, which can make his books feel like they are reeling from one position to another without rhyme or reason. It was hard for me to draw a bead on what this book was about, although the constant thread was the price Deckard paid for his empathy with the androids. The character of Rachael in the book is all over the place, constantly shifting her plans and her attitude toward Deckard. It's dizzying after a while. She's the key figure in Deckard's growing empathy for the androids, but he never falls in love with her. Instead, Rachael uses sex with him as a kind of weapon straight out of film noir: to create a bond between them that will make him incapable of killing any more androids. It doesn't work out quite that way -- pretty much the opposite, in fact -- but he pays a price for his transformation nonetheless, and that price ties into the animal theme. Indeed, in the end Deckard's dream of owning a real animal is itself transformed into an almost religious veneration of an electric one.

I dunno. I confess I had a hard time clearing the movie out of my head so that I could see the book as its own thing. While some of the character names and situations are the same or similar, the only language from the book that made it into the movie was in the scene where Deckard applies the Voight-Kampff test to Rachael and determines that she's an android. The questions and her answers are taken almost word-for-word from the book. What's also interesting, in comparing the book and film, is that there's another bounty hunter in the book who turns out to be an android who doesn't know it, which of course Ridley Scott has tried to retroactively make the case for Deckard himself in the movie. Nothing much is made of that character in the book, although he's vivid while he's on stage.

However, that episode of the book doesn't make a lot of sense in terms of narrative continuity. Suddenly we're introduced to a nest of androids pretending to be a police station. One of them then turns out to be one of the group that escaped from Mars with Roy Baty. So when did the police station get set up, and where did the other androids come from? How was there time for one of them to be implanted with false memories of being a human? The whole thing feels like a random idea that occurred to Dick as he was writing the novel and which he made a haphazard attempt to integrate into the narrative. That's probably one reason why the novel isn't considered a major work. The core of it is quite strong, with the human/android division mirrored in animals/electric animals and in Mercerism, which turns out to be a false (or artificial) religion that still gives spiritual solace for those those who do wrong. "Sometimes it's better to do something wrong than right." The finale in which Deckard in some sense becomes Mercer and discovers the toad in the wild is a powerful synthesis of the various loose thematic threads of the book.

Well, another reading is required to establish it as its own thing, separate from the movie, in my head.

Remembering Lucius Shepard

colma 1987
I was by no means a close friend of Lucius Shepard, who died Tuesday night. I got to know him when he lived in Seattle in the '90s. One of my first memories of him was when he, along with his pal, Tony Daniels, got 86ed from Vanguard parties for bad behavior, the details of which I no longer remember. I seem to recall that he was already on the shitlist of some of my friends for what was considered mistreatment of a former girlfriend, but again I haven't retained the details. He was certainly capable of insensitive behavior, but by that point we had connected because we smoked and drank and liked rock music. My memory is that he moved to Seattle because of the music scene of that era, but that may be a simplified version of the real story. He had some good friends here because of his connection to the Clarion West writers workshop, too, including Bob Kruger and Les Howle, as well as Tony.

I read and enjoyed his first novel, Green Eyes, and I believe I read his first story collection, The Jaguar Hunter, as well. However, that's about all I read, other than a comic book mini-series called Vermillion that he did for Vertigo. His writing was powerful but not really my cup of tea, partly because it almost always straddled a border with horror, which is a genre I often have problems with. He was always a great guy to smoke and drink and talk music (and books and movies) with, however, and what little time I spent with him was spent doing just that. He was a natural-born raconteur, and he'd been all over the world having great adventures, so it was a pleasure to listen to him spin tales about his life. (For an example of what he could do in conversation, check out his LJ post, "10 Christmases".)

One of the legendary moments of his time in Seattle came at a party at Les Howle's house in West Seattle, when he and Tami Vining started thumb-wrestling on the front porch. I can't remember how it all went down exactly, but it got very intense, because they're both very competitive personalities. They shifted around each other, trying to gain advantage, and suddenly Lucius lost his footing and fell off the front porch, which was a pretty long drop. He was a very large man, and I remember feeling the impact of his body hitting the ground -- or maybe it was just that the sound of it was so vivid. Surprisingly, he got up and was able to walk. We'd been drinking quite a bit, so that probably helped. As I recall, he later said he had trouble moving for days afterward. At the time, however, he laughed it off and accused Tami of trying to kill him.

More along the lines of his bad boy persona, there was a time when a bunch of us went to a party at a Norwescon to find something to drink. We didn't know anybody there, so we stood in a circle in the middle of the room drinking whatever there was to drink. Lucius lit a cigarette, which was expressly forbidden at that party. For a while nobody was willing to confront him, because it was Lucius Fucking Shepard, famous and award-winning writer. Eventually one of the hosts came up behind him and tapped him on the shoulder. Lucius used his big body to block the person and looked over his other shoulder, pretending he couldn't see who was trying to get his attention. The guy moved over and tapped his other shoulder, and Lucius shifted his body to block him and looked the other way. I'll always remember the innocent, baffled look on Lucius' face as he pretended that he couldn't figure out where the tap was coming from. A beautiful physical performance, although eventually he gave in and put out the cigarette.

Lucius was a former musician, and there was a strong thread of music to our conversations. Sometime after the 1993 Worldcon the still-teenaged Geoff Hartwell was in town, probably with his father, and he wanted to see a live show. He told me that Lucius had suggested an all-ages show that Built to Spill was playing at the OK Hotel. They had just released their first album, and a buzz was building, so Geoff and I went to check them out. I was blown away by their show, picked up the album, and became a big fan, catching a number of live shows over the next few years. Years later, because I'd bought him a bunch of drinks at the 2001 Westercon (about which more later), he mailed me a CD by a Swiss band called the Young Gods. I'd never heard of them and have never run across any discussion of them, but it's a good album that I've returned to periodically over the years. When I finally connected with Lucius on LiveJournal, I told him at one point that I was getting into Spanish-language pop music and mentioned Concha Buika. Knowing his affinity for Spanish-language culture I asked him for recommendations, and he pointed me to Cesária Évora and an album called Afro-Peruvian Classics: Soul of Black Peru. He was a font of knowledge about obscure artists who made great music, and I sometimes wondered how he had the time to listen to all this stuff. Life of a writer, I guess.

Probably the longest conversation I ever had with him was at that 2001 Westercon in Portland. He had moved to Vancouver, Washington from Seattle a few years before that, so I didn't see him as often anymore. I was sitting at the bar at the convention hotel with my friends Ron and AP when Lucius came in and sat down next to me. I proceeded to buy him drinks, and we spent pretty much the whole day there. Perhaps the next day too, I can't really remember. Occasionally other people, such as Gardner Dozois, would come in and sit and talk with Lucius for a while, but in between he and I shot the shit about everything in the world. He told tales of hair-raising adventures in Central America, and I particularly remembered one about a ramshackle flight to a Honduran island named Roatan that I visited years later with my family. He threatened to break the legs of one of my favorite writers, and I told him I'd fuck him up if he did so. This became the running theme of the conversation. Somewhere along the line a Best of Journey album started to play, and I wailed about how terrible Journey was. He wouldn't have any of it. He thought Steve Perry was a fine singer, and the band was good. That was the first inkling I got that my teenage hatred of Journey was out of step with elite opinion. We argued all day, with a lot of laughter, about writers, bands, and movies. He was a man of strong opinions, skillfully expressed, and he loved the push and jostle of an argument. The other thing I remember distinctly from that long day in the bar was when he pulled out a human skull that had been ornamented in what he said was a Tibetan style. He was giving it to a woman he knew, maybe a girlfriend or ex-girlfriend. I never followed up on it later, but I was awe-struck at the time. Is owning a human skull even legal? It was such a perfectly Lucius item -- an exotic, macabre, gorgeous memento mori.

Was that the last time I ever saw him? Probably not, but it was years ago that I last saw him anyway. At some point he started posting on LiveJournal, and I started interacting with him there. By then he had befriended that favorite writer of mine whose legs he'd once threatened to break, and that was heartening to see. We argued about movies on LiveJournal, and he pointed me to obscure ones that he got to see as a judge at obscure film festivals in Europe. Eventually he shifted to Facebook, but while I followed him there I rarely commented, because the threads were always humungous and thus hard to participate in without a lot more reading than I was willing to commit to them. We did chitchat about Roatan in one of those threads at some point, and he remembered the decrepit little resort called Fantasy Island where I'd stayed with my family. When he fell silent on Facebook last year, it was months before I learned that he'd had a stroke, and it was only after his death this week that I learned his kidneys had failed a couple of years before that. In the pictures I'd seen of him in those last few years, he looked a wan shadow of his rowdy former self.

He had an air of perpetual disappointment with the many failings of humanity, but he clearly had a lot of affection for his friends. A larger-than-life character was Lucius Shepard. I only saw the barest tip of the iceberg, but even that much left an imprint. Because of the lifestyle he had lived for so many years and because of his recent health problems, it wasn't really a surprise when I heard the news of his death, but I still felt a pang of loss. It feels a little presumptuous, really, considering the fact that I didn't know him all that well, but there it is. I had to say goodbye, and this is the only way I know how.

1999 Lucius Shepard at a Clarion West party for Gwyneth Jones
Here's my one snapshot of Lucius (on the left), taken at a Clarion West party in 1999


Slooty breets

I'm beavering away at a number of different projects right now, most of them related to fanzines in one way or another. One thing is a collection of Curt Phillips' writing to promote his TAFF campaign. It will be going into the mail later this week. (I believe British copies will be going out next week.) I've also had three invitations to write for other fanzines, and I've completed one thing: a short piece about Ubik for Pete Young's Big Sky. The other two pieces are in progress. The Corflu 31 crew is gearing up to put out another progress report, and I'm helping with that, mostly nagging other people to write. (Have you bought your membership yet?) Meanwhile the Chunga crew is working on the next issue, which will be a special issue unlike anything we've done before, at least if all goes as planned. I'm herding cats on that as well. Looming on the near horizon is a trip to Spokane with akirlu for a walkthrough of the Worldcon facilities, which we're participating in so we can scope out the possibilities for the fanzine lounge. Also looming on that same horizon are voting for the FAAn Awards, nominating for the Hugos, and voting for TAFF and DUFF. At least I finally sent some nominations to Murray Moore for things he should include in the Fanthology he's putting together for Corflu.

Meanwhile I intended to do some gardening on Sunday but used the rain as an excuse not to. Mostly I was just too busy with other things! Although not too busy to watch movies in the evening, including a third viewing of Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom, which remains a hilarious, heartbreaking, heartwarming, and refreshingly honest movie about troubled nerds in love. What a beautiful thing it is! A work of true genius.

Well, it was a productive weekend, but I felt a bit like a hamster running on a wheel. Will I ever catch up with myself?


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