Archive for the ‘Obituary’ Category

Jerry Pournelle, RIP

Friday, September 8th, 2017

I just got word that Jerry Pournelle died today.

Pournelle was most famous for his collaborations with Larry Niven, and justly so: Lucifer’s Hammer is a great novel, and Inferno and The Mote in God’s Eye are, at the least, very good. But he was a strong writer on his own as well.

Pournelle lied about his age to get into the army in the Korean War, where he served in the artillery, which gave him life-long tinnitus. He had a widely varied carrier before becoming a science fiction writer, working in the defense industry, then on the successful Los Angeles mayoral campaign of Sam Yorty. He was also a notable advocate of SDI and a prominent columnist for Byte magazine for many years.

He had a long and successful career as a science fiction writer, winning the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, but never really received his due, for a variety of reasons, some aesthetic (he did a lot of work in Military SF, a subgenre held in low critical esteem), some political (he was an unapologetic conservative and disciple of Russell Kirk), some personal (Jerry rubbed many people the wrong way, and reportedly had a drinking problem in the 1980s). He edited a number of anthologies over the years; when he finally received a Hugo nomination for that, Social Justice Warrior bloc voting made sure he finished below No Award.

He was 84.

Edited to Add: A personal remembrance by Borepatch.

Brian Aldiss, RIP

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Science fiction writer Brian Aldiss has died just after turning 92.

Aldiss was an acquaintance rather than a friend. I got him to sign things at the two UK Worldcons I attended (2005 in Glasgow and 2014 in London), and we may have talked briefly at other Worldcons; I don’t actually remember.

He was an extremely important, but also extremely variable, writer. His good stuff was really good, but his bad stuff was really bad. When I brought him a copy of Cracken at Critical to sign, he said “Oh God, this piece of crap!” Highpoints include Nonstop and “The Saliva Tree.” He was much admired by a wide range of science fiction’s best talents, including Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock and Bruce Sterling (the latter of whom I bought an Aldiss chapbooks off of when he was culling his library).

Lacking much in the way of additional personal contact to pad out this obituary, here are some of the Brian Aldiss items in my own collection.

  • Aldiss, Brian. Brothers of the Head Pierrot Publishing Ltd., 1977. First edition hardback (simultaneous with the much more common trade paperback edition), oversized and illustrated, a Fine copy in a VG+ dust jacket with light wrinkling, wear to extremities, and some age toning to white flaps of the dust jacket. Signed by both Aldiss and illustrator Ian Pollock. The hardback edition was already uncommon, but became more so after an art house movie based on it came out a few years ago. Bought this from a dealer in France, of all places.

  • Aldiss, Brian. Bury My Heart at W. H. Smith’s. Avernus, 1990. First edition hardback, #104 of 250 signed, numbered copies, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket, with newspaper clipping (also signed by Aldiss) from the Times Literary Supplement of August 8, 1986 of a piece by Eric Korn that briefly quotes Aldiss on H. G. Wells laid into the pocket formed by the dust jacket protector at the back as an “Association Item,” as issued. And is listed as such on page 274-275. In The Science Fantasy Publishers, Jack Chalker labeled the “association items” as “an attempt to clean out Aldiss’ attic.” Chalker/Owings (1991), page 58.
  • Aldiss, Brian. The Creten Teat. House of Stratus, 2002. First hardback edition (according to Aldiss’ site, the trade paperback version preceded), a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket. I have heard, second-hand, that House of Stratus went into receivership about the time this came out, and that very few hardback copies actually made it out into the world. Bought off Amazon for $9.94.
  • Aldiss, Brian. Cultural Breaks. Tachyon, 2005. Advanced reading copy, trade paperback format, with packet of review material.
  • Aldiss, Brain W. Excommunication. Post Card Partnership, 1975. First edition postcard, a Fine copy. Bought for £2.50 after discount.
  • Aldiss, Brian. Jocasta. The Rose Press, 2004. First edition hardback, #420 of 750 signed, numbered copies, a Fine copy, sans dust jacket, as issued.

    Jocasta

    As far as I can tell, The Rose Press did this and Avram Davidson’s The Scarlet Fig, and then fell off the map…

  • Aldiss, Brian. Moreau’s Other Island. Jonathan Cape, 1980. First edition hardback, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket, signed by Aldiss on the front free endpaper.
  • Aldiss, Brian. Science Fiction Blues With Brian Aldiss. Avernus, 2000. First edition oversized chapbook original (A4 sized), a Fine- copy with a slight bit of bend on the left side. Program for some sort of Aldiss reading or performance, which also happens to contain three original Aldiss stories as well as other material. Odd little item. Bought for £3. Chalker/Owings (1991), page 58.

    Aldiss SF Blues

  • Aldiss, Brian. Sex and the Black Machine. Avernus, 1990. First edition chapbook, a Fine- copy with slight wrinkling and inevitable page darkening to newsprint pages and self-wrapper. Chalker/Owings (1991), page 59.

    Aldiss Sex Black Machine

  • Aldiss, Brian. This World and Nearer Ones. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979. First edition hardback, a Fine copy in a Fine dust jacket. Signed by Aldiss. Bought for $8 from a notable SF book dealer. Non-fiction.
  • (Aldiss, Brian) Aldiss, Margaret. Item Eighty-Three: Brian W. Aldiss: A Bibliography: 1954—1972. SF Horizons, (1973). Chapbook, Fine. Non-fiction.
  • That’s not everything I own by Aldiss, but I’m far from having a complete Aldiss collection. The man was extremely prolific…

    Jerry Lewis, RIP

    Monday, August 21st, 2017

    Comedian, actor and director Jerry Lewis has died at age 91.

    It’s hard to evaluate the work of someone who absolutely dominated their field for an extended period of time and then almost immediately went out of fashion. Lewis was far and away the most successful comic actor of mid-century America, appearing in an extremely successful series of movies with Dean Martin, then having a successful solo career as both a actor and director.

    But after The Nutty Professor, it was a long, long slide. Between 1963 and 1980, you had Rowen & Martins Laugh-In, Lenny Bruce, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Richard Pryor, Saturday Night Live and Robin Williams, yet in Hardly Working (intended as a “comeback” film), Lewis was doing the same tried physical shtick. (Roger Ebert called it “one of the worst movies ever to achieve commercial release in this country.”) In between he directed the amazingly ill-conceived and incomplete The Day the Clown Cried, about a clown (Lewis) entertaining children on the way to the gas chamber in Auschwitz. Surviving footage suggests it is every bit as awful and cringe-worthy as you’d imagine.

    In the meantime, he taught an acclaimed directing class at USC attended by (among others) George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and was a familiar face for decades of television viewers for his Muscular Dystrophy Labor Day Telethon. And he turned in the occasional fine dramatic performance, such as in The King of Comedy.

    For someone who smoked as much as he did, had as many health issues, and battled prescription drug abuse, 91 is a very rip old age indeed.

    Here’s a very early footage of Lewis and Martin from what I think may be the very first MDA telethon:

    Here he is making his appearance as nutty professor alter ego Buddy Love:

    And here’s a long, interesting piece on Lewis I linked to once before.

    Hail the Departing Godzilla

    Monday, August 7th, 2017

    Haruo Nakajima, the original actor inside the Godzilla suit for the first twelve Toho films, has died at age 88.

    The suit was so hot and heavy that Nakajima evidently fainted several times during the making of the original Godzilla.

    Here are some video tributes:

    Adam West, RIP

    Saturday, June 10th, 2017

    Adam West, star of the 1960s TV Batman and later a voice actor playing a lunatic version of himself as Mayor Adam West on Family Guy, has died at age 88.

    Though far from my favorite version of the character, the TV Batman was silly fun.

    Mainly this post is just an excuse to throw up a few random videos:

    Ed Bryant, RIP

    Friday, February 10th, 2017

    Howard Waldrop called to inform me that SF writer Ed Bryant has died at age 71. This is a shame but not a surprise, as Ed had been ailing for many years.

    Ed was in the category of “friends you only see once or twice a year.” He was a regular Armadillocon attendee in the early days, and I saw him read “A Sad Last Love at the Diner of the Damned” before it appeared in Skipp & Spector’s The Book of the Dead. He was also an astute reviewer in the field for many years.

    He will be missed.

    I will update this when I have a suitable link to a proper obituary.

    Joan Jett Covers the Mary Tyler Moore Theme Song

    Thursday, January 26th, 2017

    Mary Tyler Moore, RIP.

    In way of remembrance, here’s Joan jett covering the theme to the Mary Tyler Moore Show (“Love is All Around”) live on Letterman.

    It was either that or the entirety of the “It May look Like A Walnut” episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show

    William Peter Blatty: RIP

    Friday, January 13th, 2017

    William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist, has died at age 89.

    I remember about a quarter of a century ago, I finished one book before bedtime, and went “I know! I’ll read the first chapter of The Exorcist and then go to sleep.”

    At 3:30 AM I finished the book. It was that good. William Friedkin’s very faithful movie adaptation was also great (indeed, arguably the best horror movie of all time), but it helped that he had great source material to start with.

    Greg Lake, RIP

    Thursday, December 8th, 2016

    Musician Greg Lake, of Emerson, Lake and Palmer and King Crimson fame, has died.

    In my youth I drove my parent’s old 8-track equipped Dodge Monaco, with The Best of Emerson Lake and Palmer one of the few 8-track albums I possessed and thus in very heavy rotation. (Among the annoyances: All but 10 seconds of “Tiger in a Spotlight” was on one track, and then a KERTHUNK for the very end.) I never saw one of their elaborate live shows, but I did had tickets for the Austin leg of the Emerson Lake and Powell tour before it was cancelled.

    Here’s the obligatory Emerson, Lake and Palmer track:

    Alas, there does not seem to be a full version of the original “In the Court of the Crimson King” on YouTube, or that would be here as well…

    Gene Wilder RIP

    Monday, August 29th, 2016

    Gene Wilder has died at age 83 of Alzheimer’s.

    He was one of his generation’s great comic actors, with a natural gift for underplaying a straight man and perfect deadpan delivery, and was in some of the greatest comedies of the 1970s.

    Blazing Saddles, of course:

    Young Frankenstein:

    And who can forget the freaky boat ride from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory:

    And here’s an animated overview of his life in his own words: