More pictures of me (Frank Wu) and assorted important and upcoming sci-fi and fantasy writers, editors and artists, whom I have had the pleasure of consorting with.
AD ASTRA, TORONTO, MARCH, 2003
Author Guest of Honor David Brin, gently explaining to some poor shmuck why he's wrong:
I actually got to be on a panel with David. It was all about why the last two Star Wars movies sucked; and I subtitled it "Where George Lucas Went Wrong; Some More of George Lucas' Greatest Mistakes; and Who Is this George Lucas Person Anyway?" Brin had written an iconoclastic article about how Star Trek (which he said was egalitarian) was better than Star Wars (which he said was elitist), and had received 3000 emails about it. Thus, he became the new icon and we the other panelists were now the iconoclasts. So... Since the movies are inconsistent with each other, every time David got on his soapbox to prattle about something that Star Wars was or wasn't teaching, I undermined his argument with a contradictory example from another SW movie. For instance, David said that Star Wars movies teach you that friendship and teamwork is good, because your friends will stick up for you and help you out. I argued, no it doesn't. Because in Attack of the Clones, Amidala falls out of the ship, and Obi-Wan argues that Anakin has to leave her there, lost in the sand, because they have to go chase after the bad guys. But what about Empire Strikes Back, David said, doesn't that show Luke going off to rescue Han and Leia? No, I argued, Leia had already left the Cloud City, and she had to go back and rescue Luke when he was hanging from the weather vane. And Han was long gone by then. Luke didn't save his friends; they suffered and got in trouble in the first place because of him. No, I said. The most important life lesson in Empire Strikes Back is this: If you drop out of school, your dad will cut your hand off. I grew up in a family of Chinese scholars, so this threat seemed very real.
Author Robert J. Sawyer, author of Hominids, Humans, Calculating God, and other masterpieces:
Composite foto of a panel called "Team Banzai" in which science-folks answer random questions from the audience about, oh, multiple dimensions and anything else people have science questions about. Panelists were Eric Choi (aka Astroboy), Julie Czerneda (Space/Time Girl), Isaac Szpindel (Buckeroo), and Peter Watts (Darwin Boy). Julie's page of Ad Astra fotos is here.
One of the funniest things I've seen in a long time is Jason Taniguchi re-enacting the story of "Attack of the Clones" as a one-man show. For this show, he's added "the only thing that could make it worse: show tunes!" One marvelous thing was that he actually made the plot make sense. Also, he managed to wrench all the plot elements into the tunes from The Sound of Music. Thus, Jar Jar sinks "Meesa Wise, Meesa Nice," to the tune of "Edelweiss." In the foto below Jason mocks the scene where Obi-Wan flies around hanging from the assassin droid. Only it's Jason running around the room with a pot:
PHOTOS FROM THE AD ASTRA COSTUME BALL:
Here we have: (1) a knight in a suit of chain-mail made from AOL Online CD-ROMs, ready to battle the evil Microsoft empire. (2) Queen Amidala goes shopping.
(3) Indiana Jones beats up a Klingon; (4) Saddam Hussein has a love child that looks like Jar Jar with a mustache:
Two hobbits and an elf:
Assorted pretty girls:
A knight, a king and a queen:
Ad Astra also had a mock "Dating Game." Here a woman snookered out of the audience and convinced to come on stage gets to choose between Han Solo, an Alien Xenomorph and Dr. Frankenstein's assistant Ygor:
Second round, and Uncle Fester gets to pick between a ditsy "Pretty Princess" (whose answer to every question began with, "Well, I'm a pretty princess"); a naughty nurse (Oh nurse!); and a Viking warrior queen.
During the first round, whenever Han Solo touched his hair or moved toward the microphone, let alone actually say anything, our friend Janet Chase hooted really loudly. She was so... in the words of Julie Czerneda, enthusiastic, boisterous and irrepresible, that our green-skinned host insisted she come up onstage and amuse us all with her antics.
Me and some new friends:
I-CON, STONY BROOK, NEW YORK, MARCH, 2003
Harlan Ellison scripted (more or less) the two best episodes of the two best SF TV shows in the sixties, plus some great stories like "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Tick-Tick-Man," "A Boy and His Dog," and "Mephisto In Onyx" and "On the Slab" and "Palladin of the Lost Hour" and "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" and "The Man Who Rowed Columbus Ashore" etc. etc. etc. He's a professional writer and amateur curmudgeon, amateur in that he's not paid for it, but should be. There's a hoity-toity literature magazine called Zoetrope, founded by hoity-toity artsy-fartsy filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, and it's that sort of magazine; what we disparagingly call "Lit-fi", but the writers are paid buckets of money and film rights are bought and much backslapping happens.
For years the Zoetrope people begged and begged Harlan for a story. So
finally he writes this story "Goodbye to All That," which is about the search
for truth. (Ellison described it as "Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros as if it
has been written by Louisa May Alcott... Or if Donald Westlake had written
Waiting for Godot," and then he made fun of us the audience for not knowing
what all those references were.) So he sent it in and soon he gets a call from
an editor saying she loved the story. Then she says, it was supposed to be
funny, right? And he says, yes, that was my hope. And then she says, I really
liked it and we want to buy it, but could you explain the last line to me? And
he said, you didn't get it, did you. And she says, no, I guess not. And he says,
then you can't have the story. And she says, well, we'll drive up to your house
with a big dumptruck full of money, and he says, you still can't have it, and
you can have that dumptruck dump that money into Chesapeake Bay, because you
can't have my story. ("Goodbye to All That" eventually appeared in
I love it! Meanwhile, I personally, probably would have just taken the money. But, well, I don't live in a huge house filled with paintings and sculptures on acres of beautiful farmland in the middle of L.A. But a good lesson for life is in there somewhere... What would you have done?
Harlan Ellison, Peter David and Scott Edelman on a panel. Of course, only Harlan really got a chance to talk. He told this hilarious story about how Peter David's young teenage daughter was dating this really skanky scary young fellow. Harlan cornered him and scared him so badly that he moved three states away.
The next foto is me and Esther Friesner (below). Esther just had a story collection published, Death and the Librarian and Other Stories. (I loved the title story.) One new story in the collection is called "Ilion," which is Esther's response to Sept. 11. Esther is perhaps best known for various collections of stories of feisty women she's edited: Chicks in Chainmail; Did You Say Chick?; Chicks 'N Chained Males; and The Chick Is In the Mail.
Robert Silverberg (below), who "appeared" at I-CON electronically, via phone conference, for a conversation with Harlan Ellison. Harlan asked the audience if anybody had any questions. A little boy came down and asked Mr. Silverberg, "How old are you?" Silverberg asked in reply, "How old are you?" "10," the boy said. So Silverberg said, "I'm 11."
The artist, the lovely Rowena (below). I helped her with her table for a little while, holding up two pictures, one with a hunky guy and one with a lovely damsel. Whenever a guy walked by the table, I held up the picture of the girl; when a girl walked by, I held up the hunky guy. It got some attention, and I think even made Rowena some money.
Curiously, I met Rowena the weekend after the (second) war with Iraq started, and a couple weeks later, her paintings were spotted in Baghdad, possibly even in one of Saddam Hussein's houses. AP ran the foto below, of U.S. Army 1st Lt. Eric Hooper, from Saturday, April 12, 2003. Inside this same house were fotos of Saddam with Parisoula Lampsos, who had claimed to be his mistress; she had escaped into Lebanon last year.
The painting has been identified as "Shadows Out of Hell" and looks like the original. It's also not the only Rowena in the house.
Back at I-CON... When Rowena and I were at her table, a lovely woman walked by with an amazing costume, and we demanded that she stop so we could all gawk and take fotos:
I helped out Kim De Mulder (below) at his table, too. I'd never met Kim before (though we'd met electronically through an artist newsgroup). Kim had even done a piece with collaged elements like beads and speckles and faux jewels that I got an image of and discussed at a panel at a con. But the thing is... I always thought he was a she. Ya know, Kim is a girl's name, isn't it? Well, yeah, but... Just like Kim in the Rudyard Kipling story, and Kim Stanley Robinson, guys can be called Kim, too. Plus Kim's Rowena's husband. That'll show me. I shouted out his name a couple times, there in a dealer's room, while watching his table when he went for a break. I called out to the massed throngs that he had original comics artwork to sell, and samples of stuff he'd inked for Swamp Thing. By the time Kim came back a few minutes later, I'd made him thirty bucks. Oh, by the way, that little painting behind Kim's head has real gold leaf in it... and real human hair. If you like it, make him an offer.
David Kyle (below), a fan among fans. He's written a couple books on the history of science fiction. Also, he shared the stage with Harlan for one panel, which meant that he didn't get to talk much. However... Harlan got some cheers because he said his 69th birthday was coming up. Then David gotten even bigger cheers when he announced he'd just turned 84. And then he said it was the only time he ever got a bigger cheer than Harlan Ellison.
[NOTE relevant only to fact checkers: The Science Fiction Encyclopedia lists David's birthyear as "c. 1912", but according to David he was born in 1919. So there.]
I asked David about Frank R. Paul, since I run the official FRP website. He spoke of the day he went into Hugo Gernsback's office and saw through an open doorway, the great Frank R. Paul sitting at his drawing table working on a painting. Just a teenager then, David got FRP to autograph a copy of Wonder Stories Quarterly that FRP had painted the cover for. Many years later, David was the WorldCon chair and, with a twinkle in his eye, recalled how he even got FRP to do a little painting for the program book.
Carel Struyken (below), who played Lurch in the Addams Family movies, and also Mr. Homm on Star Trek: TNG. I met him years ago at a Twin Peaks festival, and he told me how he also had started a company selling organizers. He said it was very important to really throw yourself into whatever you were doing. For instance, he would go to the individual stores and move the stock around so his organizers were in front. He also asked me what my dream was, and then, mockingly belligerently, asked me why I wasn't following that dream. I think about that a lot when I paint.
Indexed list of fotos of me and luminaries (number indicates the page they're on):
Forrest J. Ackerman 1, Daniel Abraham 5, Carlo Arellano 2, Art car artists 3, Kage Baker 3, Greg Bear 10, Gregory Benford 5, Terry Bisson 9, Diana Blackmom 8, Ken Brady 8, Kent Brewster 2, (I'm Just a) Bill 3, Jae Brim 2 5, David Brin 7, Charles N. Brown 9, William Brown 1, Tobias Buckell 5, Jim Burns 8, John Burridge 8, Erwin Bush 2, Chris Butler 3, Ted Chiang 6, Eric Choi 7, Andy Clarkson 2, Hal Clement 5, Julie Czerneda 1 (big head Julie) 4 7, Ellen Datlow 5, John DeChancie 3, Kim DeMulder 7, Vincent DiFate 1, Cory Doctorow 5, James S. Dorr 6, Denise Duff 2, Bob Eggleton's hair 5 10, Harlan Ellison 7, Marina Fitch 2, Frank Kelly Freas 1 3 5, Esther Friesner 7, Susan Fry 5, Chris Garcia 10, Michelle Garrison 8, Lisa Goldstein 9, Kirsten Gong-Wong 9, Kelly Green 10, Joe Haldeman 6, Jennifer Hall 9, Russ Heath 4, Barb and JC Hendee 8, Alea Henle 6, Jay Arr Henderson 1, Raechel "Roach" Henderson and Matt Moon 5, Howard Hendrix 10, Nina Kiriki Hoffman 1 8, Rob Hole Jr. 10, iguana 5, Rebecca Inch-Partridge 1 5 10, Alex Irvine 5, Jaws 5 10, Rebekah Jensen 1 5 10, Lindsey Johnson 1 4 5 8 10, Tim Johnston 2, Mark R. Kelly 5, David Kile 7, James Killus 3, Jay Lake 4 8, Geoffrey Landis 8, Warren Lapine's hair 5, Deb Layne 8, Lenora Rose 6, Aurora Lemieux 8, Natasha Levitan 10, Val Lakey Lindahn and Ron Lindahn 1, Samantha Ling 9, David Marusek 5, Fiona McAuliffe 4, Tiffanie McCoy 5, Terry McGarry 8, Jessie McKenna 4, Besty Mitchell 8, Syne Mitchell 8, Mary Anne Mohanraj 2, Mike Moscoe 8, Derryl Murphy 2, G. David Nordley 9, Jerry Oltion 4, Kathy Oltion 4, Diana Paxson 10, Karen Perry 2, Bill Pierce 5 10, Tim Powers 1 2, Sergey Poyarkov 2, Ken Rand 8, Jonathan Richman 6, Kim Stanley Robinson 9, Dianna Rodgers 8, Rhea Rose 8, Deborah J. Ross 10, Rowena 7, Robert J. Sawyer 7, Ken Scholes 8, Liz Shannon 8, Heather Shaw 9, Robert Sheckley 6, Gary Shockley 5 9, Robert Silverberg 7, S.N.Arly 6, Wen Spencer 5, Ted Stetson 8, Carel Struyken 7, Patrick and Honna Swenson 2 8, Isaac Szpindel 7, Jason Taniguchi 7, Bruce Taylor 8, Jim Terman 1 5 9 10, Helen Thompson 6, Mark Tiedeman 4, Bjo Trimble 5, Jeffrey Turner 8, Carol Ullman 6, James Van Pelt 6, Carrie Vaughn 10, Vernor Vinge 5, Ray Vukcevich 1 4, Lara Wells 5, Ken Wharton 1 3 4 5, Leslie What 8, Michael Whelan 8, Lori Ann White 1 2 3 5 6 8 10, Connie Willis 5 9, Eric Witchey 2 4, Jason Wittman 6, Gary K. Wolfe 9, William F. Wu 3, Susan Yi 5, Melissa Yuan-Innes 1.
If you are looking for more fotos from various conventions, check out Mid-American Fan Foto Archive.