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January 2000

Letters on this page:

  • Michael Swanwick tells a sad Aussiecon Christmas story; Perry Middlemiss replies
  • Terry Bisson responds to Michael Moorcock's claims on 'multiverse'
  • Gene Jung is trying to identify a book he read a LONNNGG time ago...
  • Rick Riffel offers pointers to Michael Moorcock's multiverse works

    Dear Locus,
         More in sorrow than in anger, I'd like to share with you my Aussiecon Christmas story. Early in September, I had the good fortune to win a Hugo for my story ''The Very Pulse of the Machine''. A month passed, and I wrote a polite letter to the Aussiecon Three committee asking if it had been lost in the mails. I was told that there would be a meeting the very next week to decide how to ship the Hugos. In November, I wrote again and was informed the award would be shipped ''next week''. In December, the person responsible for shipping the awards expressed surprise that it had not been done a month before, and promised the matter would be resolved, as always, next week. I waited two weeks and then wrote a letter that was, perhaps, less temperate than my previous communications. This finally provoked enough of a response that they decided to get rid of me by bundling the thing up in bubble wrap and handing it over to FedEx.
         The day before Christmas Eve, the package finally arrived. The plaster model of Ayers Rock was chipped, and the base was scratched, as was only to be expected after it had spent four months kicking around somebody's rec room. Still, it was a Hugo! I was happy to have it at last. But then I saw that the plaque had been made out to ''Michael Swanwicik''. They'd misspelled my name.
         These guys really know how to take the joy out of getting a major award.
         Those who hope someday to win a Hugo themselves might want to keep my experience in mind the next time Australia makes a bid for the Worldcon.

    Michael Swanwick
    28 December 1999
    (posted Tue 11 Jan 2000)

    Dear Mr. Swanwick,
         I really must apologise for the mix-up here with the spelling of your name. This appears to have been a genuine mistake that neither of our two Hugo Administrators nor your chosen acceptor picked up prior to, or during, the convention. There was never any intention on our behalf to cause you any hurt or distress in this matter and we would like to rectify the problem as best we can.
         After discussions today with the various people involved we have come to the conclusion that our best course of action is to build you a new Hugo Award and for us to deliver it to you personally. As it happens we do have a spare award which we can build, we can get the relevant plaque re-inscribed with the correct spelling of your name, and we have a board member of the Aussiecon Three committee (Stephen Boucher) attending Boskone in February where I believe you will be Guest-of-Honor.
         If this sequence of events is acceptable to you we will begin building the new award and will ensure that we swap the new award for your old one at Boskone.
         I would be grateful if you could reply so we can get the work underway as soon as possible.
         Again I apologise for the delay in sending the award and for the error on the plaque.

    Perry Middlemiss
    Chair -- Aussiecon Three
    29 December 1999
    (posted Tue 11 Jan 2000)

    [ For what it's worth, misspellings on Hugos -- and Nebulae -- are not all that uncommon. Perhaps the victims could consider themselves members of an exclusive club, of sorts. --ed. ]

    Dear Locus,
         I was amused by Michael Moorcock's claim that he invented the term ''multiverse'' in 1961. The record will show that I was first to use the term in a well-received essay on ethnic cooking in May of 2003. This Moorcock fellow seems to be a typical Texan who believes time only runs one way.

    Terry Bisson
    New York
    18 December 1999
    (posted Tue 11 Jan 2000)

    Dear Locus,
         This might sound like an odd question but I have been searching for a particular science fiction book for a LONNNGG time. I read it when I was much younger but now don't know the title.
         The book is actually three books in one and details the destruction of the earth. The first piece (novella?) has the people of earth building a ship to go to another planet. The second piece is about the trip to the planet (it takes generations to get there). The final piece is about them getting there generations down the line.
         Any ideas? Any idea where to find the name of the title? I know this one is kinda nuts but I was hoping you could help.
         Best Regards,

    Gene Jung
    14 December 1999
    (posted Tue 11 Jan 2000)

    Dear Locus,
         In response to Michael Moorcock's letter, I think his own novel, The Sundered Worlds (a.k.a. The Blood-Red Game), which is the 1965 book-version of his story, is a fine work and an unfairly neglected one. It was rarely in print in the US, but is now available in a handsome hardcover/trade-paperback omnibus, The Eternal Champion (the initial volume of White Wolf Books' Eternal Champion series). One of his few SF novels that are set in outer space, it is too good to be known as just an episode of a ''dark fantasy'' saga. The other two novels in the book (The Eternal Champion, and Phoenix in Obsidian) are among the finest heroic fantasy in print today, but The Sundered Worlds is especially distinguished in its imaginitive exploration of cosmology and astronomical hard science. It foreshadows today's SF much like Roger Zelazny's The Dream Master does.
         It is good to hear how the word 'multiverse' is getting around, as 'cyberspace' and 'waldo' did in decades before. Dermot Healy's Sudden Times is a very entertaining post-modern novel, very different in subject matter, but its connection with the multiverse idea is quite tenuous.

    Rick Riffel
    PDX, Oregon
    30 November 1999
    (posted Tue 11 Jan 2000)

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