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March 2003

Posted 17 March:

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Posted 7 March:

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Statements on the War

Dear Locus Online,
     Wishing that we would all keep our public opinions limited to literary matters, nevertheless, some of us other independent SFWA members, mindful of the excruciating conditions under which the Iraqi people exist, and recalling the massacres of our fellow Americans on 9/11/2001 -- as well as of Kurds and Iranians and Iraqis and Ugandans and Israelis and others over the decades -- express a wish for our President to follow through quickly on his promise to liberate the nation of Iraq, and to continue to hunt down and destroy the other terrorists who would kill all of us Westerners, even those among us who for whatever reasons oppose the coming campaign against the fascist, terrorist regime of Saddam Hussein.

Dr. Arlan Andrews, Sr.
Padre Island, Texas
SFWAn, since 1980
14 March

Dear Locus Online,
     I have, as has been reported in Locus, resigned my position as Overseas Director of the SFWA, due to the fact that the SFWA as an organization does not want to make a statement against the upcoming US, and to some extent UK, war against Iraq.
     When the Axis of Evil, Darth Vader of the US and Sauron of the UK, mass their orchs to attack the cradle of Western civilization -- Babylon and Ur -- we must do something. I don't love Saddam; he was once the creature of the US, so he must be thoroughly bad, but this whole thing stinks.

Sam J.Lundwall
Stockholm, Sweden
15 March

Opposition to War

Dear Locus Online,
     I have recently learned that SFWA has rejected Sam Lundwall's attempt to get that organization to come out against war on Iraq, and emphatically do not agree with that decision. So as an alternative, I've decided to post the following statement on my website at

We, as independent members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), despite the official neutrality of our organization, hereby register our opposition to the impending invasion of Iraq. Some of us are opposed because it is a violation of international law. Some are opposed because it is contrary to the ideals that America strives to uphold. Some think this war is simply wrong. We all call on those in power to prevent it.
     So far, signers include Michael Bishop, Ellen Datlow, L. Timmel Duchamp, Andy Duncan, Jeffrey Ford, Gregory Frost, Eileen Gunn, Joe Haldeman, Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Nalo Hopkinson, James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel, Nancy Kress, Nick Mamatas, Deborah Layne, Patrick O'Leary, Paul Park, Mark Rudolph, Richard Paul Russo, Delia Sherman, Sarah Smith, Allen Steele, Charlie Stross, Michael Swanwick, Lois Tilton, Jeff VanderMeer, Brook West, and Paul Witcover. More would be welcome. SFWA members who wish to add their names can write me at If your email matches that in the SFWA Directory, I'll be happy to put you on. The signatures will be updated weekly.

Michael Swanwick
12 March


Dear Locus Online,
     I'm sure I'm far from the first person to recognize that book from Leslie Ginn's description. It's Pilgrimage: The Book of the People by Zenna Henderson (1961), the first of her two fix-up collections of "People" stories from Fantasy & Science Fiction. It and all the other "People" stories are now available in a fine single-volume hardcover from the NESFA Press.

Andy Duncan
10 March

Dear Locus Online,
     Geoffrey Landis's observation about the Dramatic Category Hugos -- "it does seem odd to me that the convention should expand the categories for an award that is so important to the recipients that they don't actually bother to show up" -- misses the point about awards for creative work: They honor the quality, merit, cultural impact of the work -- not the graciousnes of its creator. Would Hamlet be any less worthy of recognition were we to find out that Shakespeare was a no-show at a royal awards ceremony?

Paul Levinson
10 March


Dear Locus Online Readers,
     I will soon be editing a second George Alec Effinger collection to be published by Golden Gryphon Press. (The first collection, entitled Budayeen Nights, will be published in September.) This second collection will contain “selected stories” - thus my reason for posting this letter here. Any fan of George’s work who would like to recommend a favorite story (or two) is welcome to email me via the address listed below. In addition to sending me the title of a story, I would ask that you also include your reason for recommending the story; just a couple of sentences are necessary. There is, of course, no guarantee that all the stories will be included in the collection - but a sufficient number of recommendations for any one story would be helpful. Please, no “Maureen Birnbaum” stories as those are all reserved for their own collection.
     Thanks in advance for your responses.

Marty Halpern
6 March

Dear Locus Online,
     I am trying to locate an artist named Bryan J Lynch. He illustrated some stories for me in 1985.
     Do you know of him? Please have him contact me immediately as our work has gone to print. I need him to e-mail me at s_c publishing or call 775-725-3808. Thanks.

Carolyn D Anderson
11 February

Dear Locus Online,
     Around 30 or 40 years ago I read a novel and an integral part of the story was about a group of people on earth who pretended to be slow and inadequate. They taught their children to act dim and to shuffle when they walked, Actually they were superior beings and could, among other things, fly. I remember a line in the story where a child is asked how she flies, she answers, "you just plait the twishers." Can you help me in finding this book?

Leslie Ginn
27 February

Lame Superheroes

Dear Locus Online,
     Claude Lalumière's article on recently released and upcoming superhero TV series and films was quite well done, but I think he really hit the Bullseye with his commentary about the recently released Daredevil.
     Having just watched this sad "spectacle" of celluloid, I find myself agreeing with most everything Lalumière points out. The script was incredibly weak and was in desperate need of restructuring to capture the true element of the supporting cast of characters. Like Lalumière, I found Ben Affleck surprisingly pulled off the role of Matt Murdock. Given his track record of lacking performances, I really didn't think he had the ability to handle this character. In fact, I would have gone with Affleck's buddy Matt Damon for the role (Damon even looks the part of Matt Murdock in the comics far more than Affleck).
     But the rest of the cast is so misconstrued it's laughable. Don't get me wrong; you have three very talented performers in Jennifer Garner, Michael Clarke Duncan and Colin Farrell. I wouldn't take anything away from them as performers. But the characters they were given weren't the characters from the comics, and what they were given was so poorly conceived, they couldn't not fail in their performances.
     The Kingpin is white. A multibillionaire tycoon with the fighting skills of a Sumo Wrestler and martial artist. He is as dangerous a planner as he is a fighter, and that is what makes this character so intriguing — the balance between the physical and mental warrior and the pride Wilson Fisk takes in honing both. Now, I can possibly even buy Michael Clarke Duncan as a black Kingpin. That's really not a major issue. But at no point in this movie does the character ever really show an intellectual prowess as a business person or planner of evil deeds. Physically Duncan fills the role well, but he's not the fighter that the character is either, as we see in the final battle between himself and an unmasked Daredevil in his office. In fact, the final lines between them were so incredibly bad I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
     Personally, I would have cast the man they cast as Kingpin in the old Trial of the Incredible Hulk movie (which happened to feature Rex Smith as Daredevil, for those who may remember it): John Rhys-Davies. Yeah, THAT John Rhys-Davies. The guy who's playing Gimli in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He may be older, he may not be the physical presence of Duncan, but that Kingpin was the KINGPIN.
     Jennifer Garner as Elektra? Garner just wasn't this character. She doesn't look Greek. Doesn't have the flowing black hair which is truly a symbolic representation of the character in the comics. The movie mentions her "training with a different sensei every year for years" as an explanation to her martial arts prowess (which quite bluntly was understated for the character), but never explains really why she was being trained — the fact that she is a trained assassin is never brought forth in the movie. The costume was lame. The romance between her and Murdock is strained at best — they really should have gone back to the old college lovers, as Lalumière suggests.
     Colin Farrell wasn't terribly bad as Bullseye, but neither was he that good. I will say he had most of the best lines in the film, cartoony and silly as they were. There needed to be a bit more between Bullseye and Daredevil, and since Bullseye will probably return if there is a sequel, maybe they'll explore something with that.
     But if they do, I hope they have enough brains to not do stupid scenes like Elektra and Matt in street clothes in the middle of a playground in broad daylight sparing in front of a crowd of kids. Sure, nobody's going to notice the blind guy with the cane fighting a girl with as much skill as a ninja. It's almost as bad at the lines between Kingpin and Murdock at the end (paraphrased):
     Kingpin - "I'll tell everyone your secret."
     Murdock- "Go ahead. Telling everyone that you let a blind man beat you up will be like blood in the water in prison."
     Hello? This is a multimillionaire business person with criminal connections up the wazoo — he doesn't need to tell anyone himself. He can simply have his cronies release the pertinent information and expose Murdock. Duh. Oh, wait. Maybe someone will have half a brain in Hollywood and realize that's the perfect springboard for Daredevil 2.
     There are cool elements to the film. The Daredevil costume actually works (a rarity in comics films). The "radar sense" special effects were rather nice, although I think they spent an over abundance of time focusing on them. His hearing is hypersensitive, yes, but so are his senses of taste, touch and smell, and they barely make mention of this. I thought the idea of having him sleep in a sensory deprivation tank was interesting (not something I remember from the comics, but an interesting idea nonetheless), although the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw this was "Gee, a lawyer who helps people who have no money, with multiple leather outfits, weaponry and a sensory deprivation tank? Where'd he get the money for all this? This is Daredevil, kiddies, not Batman."
     The really sad part about this is that it's the type of movie where you have to check your brain at the door. And that gives superheroes, and comics in general, a false perception before the public. More comics related movies need to be written with far more intelligence if the medium and the genre are ever going to escape it's own backwater "home". Maybe we'll see that with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and X-Men 2.
     I'm not counting on it.

Louis Bright-Raven
5 March

Hugo Dramatic Categories

Dear Locus Online,
     Re: Chris Barkley's essay.
     An interesting viewpoint, but he seems to be ignoring that most of the young fan base is actually more interested in…computer games. Many of the games are SF/fantasy based, most have heavy dramatic content (being derived from books, TV, movies, comics as well as reasonably virgin creations) and many actually require a fair amount of reading and studying as well.
     Better the Hugos should interest and try to bring this group into the fold than a bunch of couch potatoes.

Norm MacLeod
19 February

Dear Locus Online,
     Chris Barkley credits the "dramatic presentation" Hugo split to a proposal by "Los Angeles SF fan and film publicist Jeff Walker" at the 1998 Hugo ceremony, as he accepted on behalf of Contact.
     It's worth an ironic note that Walker (who, as far as I can tell, was not part of the production staff of the movie) was in fact the designated acceptor for all of the Dramatic Hugo awards that year — not a single person from the production staff for Contact, The Fifth Element, Gattaca, Men in Black or Starship Troopers considered it important to attend the Awards ceremony. It does seem odd to me that the convention should expand the categories for an award that is so important to the recipients that they don't actually bother to show up.

Geoffrey A. Landis
11 February

Dear Locus Online,
     In Chris Barkley's piece, he refers to one of the last non-movie/tv Hugo DP nominations thusly:

"...And a slide show called The Capture, drawn, authored and narrated by Phil Foglio."
I seem to well recall that "The Capture" was co-authored by Robert Lynn Aspirin, and the two of them performed it jointly.
     Among other venues, it was performed at the 1976 Lunacon, where among other hats I wore, I was in charge of "Facilities," and thus in the front row making sure the microphone and slide projector were working, etc.; the performance ended prematurely when someone set off a pepper-gas release towards the rear of the room, thus making more than usually memorable. (Um, 1976 or 1975; I did that job both years, and don't have a convenient reference to check.)
     Apparently my memory is clear: see for a long quote on it:
"Asprin, Robert Lynn and Foglio, Phil. The Capture Coloring Book Kalamazoo, MI: Boojums Press, 1976. Paper Wrappers. From the minds of WindyCon 1974. What would happen if People at a Science Fiction Convention Cruise were abducted by aliens and scrutinized? "Shown indiscriminately around the country at various Cons...Apparently, this was an idea of Robert Asprin. He wanted to put together a sort of humorous presentation about fans at a convention being captured and shown at exhibits, and he wanted Polly and Kelly Freas (the ones who worked on the first two Myth Books) to illustrate it. For one reason or another, they couldn't/didn't want to do it, so he got Foglio, and this must have been one of the first things they did together. So Foglio did a bunch of pictures that go along with a spoken presentation, and this was apparently shown at several conventions [starting in 1974]. Eventually, it was made into a book."
Source: Vince Moulton, also The Timeline of the Dorsai Irregulars: "Foglio did the pictures, Robert Aspirin did the text. It was originally done as a slide show with tape after they found it would cost too much to make an animated film. The slide show was done at various cons."
     There's more, but that's more than enough. I see that the online Locus list of Hugo nominations also has this wrong.

Gary Farber
8 February

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