Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2210th Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3658, September 20,2007.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
Telephone: hospital(818) 763-8247; personal (818) 506-3159 * eMail:fredpatten@earthlink.net

Denvention 3 in 2008! Anticipation in 2009! Salamander Press #2693


Last Thursday my sister Sherrill brought me to the LASFS meeting, and checked out the September issue of Locus from the club library for me. The meeting was an average one. Jerry Pournelle reviewed Stardust as the best movie he had seen all year. (I have yet to see it, but the novel by Neil Gaiman was great, so if the movie is half as good I want to see it! I still want to see C. J. Cherryh get the Forry Award, but it is time to start making Gaiman one of the regular annual nominees.) The "Keep the Forry Award True!" flyer appeared in Apa L with 18 signatories. We had time to see only the first cartoon, "Blitz Wolf", on Tom Safer's program of cartoons directed by Tex Avery for MGM. Safer kept referring to Avery as Frederick Bean Avery, a somewhat backhanded way to honor him since practically every reference site that gives his full name also states that he was mortified by his relationship to Judge Roy Bean and tried to avoid mention of it as much as possible.

Last Friday, Victoria Meng from UCLA visited me at the hospital with her new roommate, Akiko (I did not get her last name), just as my sister was also visiting. Meng brought her copy of my Watching Anime, Reading Manga for me to autograph, which I did without messing up the book too badly; she said that Dr. Alan Cholodenko, who was back home in Sydney, wanted an e.mail report from her on how I was doing. We chatted for about an hour. Akiko had only arrived in California last week, and she was very surprised to find that Southern California is mostly reclaimed desert scrubland. Since imported California rice is so popular in Japan, she had thought that California was mostly watery rice paddies. (In the Central Valley, maybe.) Sherry described how rice was a major Southern crop during the 19th century, especially in South Carolina, which usually resulted in death by malaria for the farmers since the paddies were breeding ground for mosquitoes. I horrified Akiko, who was from Narita, by describing my first trip to Japan in 1983, which was by airplane arriving at Narita International Airport followed by a two-hour bus trip to Tokyo, with warnings to stay away from the bus' windows because farmers liked to shoot at passengers as the buses went by. Akiko was born about the time the violent protests against the airport ended, although there is some worry that they may begin again since there are plans to enlarge the airport which means dispossessing more farmers from their centuries-old ancestral lands. All four of us were or are now going to UCLA, and we described how the campus has changed since the late 1950s & '60s when I & then Sherry went there. In the 1950s parking was free or cost so little we could not remember whether we had to pay anything or not; it is now $500 a semester. Yow! I described all the cute squirrels that used to panhandle the students for snacks during the 1990s; Victoria said the University recently had to exterminate them because they were becoming too aggressive. Yow again!

Last Saturday was a busy day for me. First, two squirrels entertained me by chasing each other across the rooftop just outside of my window. Next, Kay Shapero e.mailed me that she had updated & rearranged my website. "Just reorganized your website (most of which will be transparent to the user), and put up an archive page to link to the various APA-Ls and con reports, as it was beginning to be a bit cumbersome to list them on your index page. Any other articles and reports you care to place on your website can also be linked to from there. The design is not permanent; I can reorganize it as and if needed. Also, at the bottom of each L-zine is now a set of links to the previous zine (if any), to your index page, and to the next zine (if any), so those inclined can simply read through the entire lot. I can put these at the tops of the zines too if you want. Ultimately I'd also like to hook up a search function, but I'll have to find out how to do that first. This will be awhile - I've got quite enough in the air already (said the guy as he juggled chainsaws.)" The ability to search through over 2,200 issues of ˇRR! would be awesome. How many dist'ns of Apa L has Karl Lembke scanned?

Just after lunch, Sherry took me out for the rest of the day. We went to her apartment first, where I caught up with a week's mail in my study. I drank the sample bottle of HOT! HOT! HOT! Jamaica's Finest Ginger Beer that I had got at Galco's Soda Pop Stop previously, and was glad that I only got one bottle of it. It was so spicy that I had to drink it slowly in small sips for the rest of the afternoon; D&G Jamaican Ginger Beer is still my favorite. Around 3:00 p.m. I got a couple of phone calls from the Cartoon/Fantasy Organization's September meeting at the LASFS. Fred Ladd had come, and he had been looking forward to seeing me, so could I come over? If Sherry & I had not made plans for the rest of the day, and if it was not such a hassle to move me & my wheelchair around, I would have dropped by briefly; but frankly Fred Ladd e.mails me about once a month so this did not sound like anything special enough to interrupt our plans for. I have been urging people to check with me in advance if they want me to do anything, including phoning the hospital to make sure I am in & can see visitors before coming over. So I said that I was sorry to disappoint Ladd, but it was too short notice for me to make it. Maybe this will make the point that I need advance notice, especially since I need to coordinate with my sister to bring me anyplace, and she has her own life and is often visiting our mother in Mission Viejo.

I could have put off the next item Sherry & I had planned; watching Penguin Pool Murder (1932), the first of the Hildegarde Withers mysteries starring Edna May Oliver, James Gleason, & Robert Armstrong, set at the New York Aquarium. What was semi-special about it was that I had borrowed the 1931 novel by Stuart Palmer from the LAPL earlier that week, and I had just finished reading it to be able to compare it with the movie; so I did not want to put off watching the movie for another week or whenever I could next get to Sherry's apartment. The movie was an extremely close adaptation of the novel, much more so than I had expected, although I thought that Robert Armstrong (Carl Denham in King Kong) was miscast as the "roguishly Irish" lawyer. He looked more like a smarmy Italian Mafia mouthpiece, and almost telegraphed from the start that he would be unmasked as the murderer. One amusing throwaway detail added to the movie was when Armstrong says that he is a penguin fanatic; he collects penguin paintings, knickknacks, dolls, and so on. That was not in the novel, but it was well-known that Stuart Palmer himself collected penguin junk and had added a penguin cartoon to his autographs.

What I had really been afraid of was that, if I had gone to the C/FO meeting, I would not have gotten out in time to attend the "Disney Heroes of Imagination" reception that evening at 6:00 p.m. at the Van Eaton Galleries in Sherman Oaks. This was a tribute to/exhibition of some of the art of four Disney artists: Joe Grant, Mel Shaw, Walt Stanchfield, & Rowland Wilson. "Mel Shaw will be in attendance as well as the families and/or close colleagues of all the honorees along with rare and never before seen artwork from the private Collections of Family Friends and Colleagues with special pieces on loan from Disney's Animation Research Library." The works ranged from animation pencil drawings from Fantasia 2000 going back to Fantasia and Dumbo, to the four artists' non-Disney fine-art paintings, landscape art, personal humorous Christmas cards, etc. Rowland Wilson had an extensive career outside Disney drawing Playboy cartoons and commercial advertising art. Most of the art consisted of drawings and paintings hanging on the walls, but there was also a glass cabinet filled with marionettes and statuary, including a maquette of Figaro asleep in his bed from Pinocchio, by Joe Grant. Attendees received a free 54-page Commemorative Brochure filled with samples of the honorees' art and testimonials to their greatness by numerous Disney colleagues; the October 2007 Animation Magazine, & other goodies plus the usual wine-&-cheese reception refreshments. It was all very impressive, although I had a hard time seeing everything because the reception was so crowded, and the top row of art on the walls was above the level that I could tilt my head back far enough to see. The art in this exhibition was not for sale, but there was plenty of other art in the gallery's other rooms that was, ranging from Disney theatrical feature animation drawings & cels to production art & cels from other movies & TV cartoons like The Iron Giant and Samurai Jack, to framed limited-edition prints by Dr. Seuss and superhero artist Alex Ross and vintage Disneyland posters for the openings of new attractions like The Haunted Mansion, all in the $1,000 - $2,000 range. The Disney Heroes of Imagination exhibition will be on display for the next couple of weeks; call the Van Eaton Galleries, 13613 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, at (800) 599-3693 for the hours they are open.

After we got crowded out of the reception, Sherry & I went to Solley's Restaurant & Deli for a great dinner. I again avoided an "authentic egg cream (freshly made)" in favor of a regular strawberry ice cream malt for dessert.

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The photocopies of my review of Thomas Monteleone's Seeds of Change in Delap's F&SF Review, and the reviews of John DeChancie's Starrigger and Red Limit Freeway in Science Fiction Review, have arrived from the UCRiverside Library's Eaton Collection. The two 1980s reviews of DeChancie's novels were both by Gene DeWeese, not by me.

Seeds of Change, by Thomas F. Monteleone. Don Mills, Ontario/Niagara Falls, NY, Laser Books, 1975, 190 pages, "Limited Collector's Edition" gratis; SBN: 373-72000.

This novel is less important in itself than in what it represents. It is the first book from a new mass-market paperback publisher, Laser Books. A "Limited Collector's Edition" issued solely as a promotional item, it is free to any library or bookseller who will write and request a copy. Its purpose is to generate sales for Laser's commercial titles, a line of sf novels edited by Roger Elwood, which are to begin production in September.

Civilization has been destroyed in atomic wars. Survivors have banded together in computerized, aseptic Cityplexes, where life is perfectly regulated. Eric Stone is a Computer technician in the Denver Cityplex; his job is to scan citizen profiles looking for potential deviates, who will be eliminated before they can cause trouble. Eric has enough initiative to find this distasteful, and he says so in public. He is unexpectedly seduced by a strange but beautiful woman, Jessica, and he soon learns that his independence is to make him a subject for liquidation. He flees into the crowded streets as the police arrive, shooting madly into the dense throngs after him.

Eric seeks refuge with Jessica, who tells him she is a member of an Underground pledged to destroy the Cityplex's tyranny. They shoot their way out of Denver, and Eric discovers that the Cityplex, unknown to its citizens, has for centuries been carrying on an automated war against the Sierra, a brotherhood of free individuals dedicated to restoring the environment and personal liberties. The Cityplex's mechanized war robots and zombie Drone troops are on the verge of annihilating the Sierra when a spaceship arrives from Mars, carrying the descendents of astronauts stranded there by the atomic wars. The Sierra and the astronauts join forces, and after a tremendous battle the Denver Cityplex is destroyed and everybody in it is killed, giving "birth to a new era of life and peace upon the earth."

Excessively simplistic and violent, the novel relies entirely upon stereotypes: the innocent hero, the seductive spy, the brutal police, the evil Computer, the good environmentalists, and the noble astronauts. The dialog is banal, mostly stock dramatic expressions and platitudes about fighting for goodness against the evil Computer. Practically everyone is described as smoking cigarettes all the time, including the astronauts who barely survived on Mars when cut off from all Earth's resources.

But Laser Books' readers are not expected to look for plot flaws. The publisher has stated that its books are designed to be sold in such places as dimestores and transportation terminals, to readers who are not interested in anything more than the most simple formula action. The books are all to be written to a standardized formula, so that those who like one will like them all - and, conversely, those who do not like one will like none of them. These books may fill a need, but it is not a need that libraries or devotees of more literate sf will be concerned with until the quality is vastly upgraded.

Frederick Patten, Delap's F&SF Review, August 1975, page 21.

I had considered at the time that Seeds of Change would quickly become a forgotten novel, but people are still writing about it thirty-two years later, such as these comments by Alan Chudnow this March on the Collecting Science Fiction Books website and by Ian Stewart in June on the Upper Fort Stewart - Ideas About Reading website. In Monteleone's favor, he seems to have given Laser Books exactly the kind of novel it asked for. Other Laser writers such as Tim Powers who tried to put some quality into their books have complained that Laser's editors "dumbed them down" before publication.

Focus on Laser Books March 7th, 2007 by Alan Chudnow

An imprint of Harlequin Books, the Laser Books series was published between 1975 and 1977. Following the successful formula of its romance line, Harlequin produced the series on a strict schedule releasing three books a month all with a distinctly similar design, each featuring a cover illustration by Kelly Freas. A series subscription was offered in addition to the normal distribution to booksellers.

The series was not popular with readers of the time most probably because of inconsistency in quality and a general sense of it being too "institutional" in its production. It is however, rather famous in science fiction fan circles for the phenomenon surrounding the appearance of premier title, Thomas F. Monteleone's first novel, Seeds of Change.

In an effort to get widespread exposure for the series Seeds was given away in large quantities as a free promotional "collector's edition". Large quantities of the book were distributed to attendees of a number of science fiction conventions. The result was less than ideal.

Unfortunately the book was not very good and immediately attracted the mockery of a large number of convention attendees. I happened to attend the Equicon SF convention in Los Angeles that year. By Saturday night of the con, groups of fans were gathered around on the upper balconies of the hotel publicly mocking the text as it was read aloud. As each page was finished it was ceremoniously ripped out of the book and flung out over the balconies to the convention floor below. It was a scenario that was repeated at several conventions that year.

Upper Fort Stewart - Somewhat Amusing Articles Concerning Books & Bookish Things

Seeds of Change was Laser Books' inexplicable choice of lead-off title. It was Monteleone's first novel, and while it wasn't terribly good, neither the book nor the author deserved what came next. Laser Books issued Seeds of Change in vast quantities in a free promotional "collector's edition" that was shipped by the carton to anyone who asked. Small regional SF conventions were sent enough to give several copies each to everyone in attendance. Come Sunday morning, copies would be scattered like popcorn on the consuite floor. This unwanted manna provoked a great deal of derisory comment, as did the book itself. Normally, weak first novels vanish without a trace, or are never published at all. Young Thomas Monteleone suffered the mortification of having his first novel publicly mocked and scrutinized in detail, in a blaze of publicity. (Demonstrating considerable strength of character, he continued to write, and has gone on to become a respected author of supernatural thrillers.)

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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:

De Jueves #1548 - (Moffatts) The Evans-Freehafer Award is for the fan that has done the most for the LASFS, specifically, during the past year. An award for lifetime service to s-f fandom, both in the LASFS and for fandom in general, would be a very different thing. ## The traditional Punch and Judy puppet show (which I have read about but never seen) sounds to me more like abuse of all authority figures than just domestic abuse, if wives and children can be considered authority figures. Responsibility figures, certainly, since a husband would be supposed to support them instead of spending all his time and money in drunken revelry. Is Judy played as a nagging wife or just an abused one?

Human Saliva Production (lifetime) = 173.6111117267 bathtubs - (Cantor) You may be right about The Blight in Foster's Pip & Flinx series referring to life alone rather than all matter in space. I have the newest Pip & Flinx novel, Patrimony, on reserve at the LAPL now, so I should soon be able to refresh my memory about its details. ## I had not expected to see the photograph of the 2007 Hugo Award trophy in ˇRR! printed in color, and I agree that it was unnecessary. I was surprised to see the book and magazine covers in ˇRR! #2209 in color instead of black-&-white, although I am glad you did so since I think the color makes them stand out better. Considering our discussion about the costs of color printing, I generally expect ˇRR! to be printed in black-&-white unless I specifically request color. ## Most of the discussion of this year's Hugo trophy on the Science Fiction Awards Watch website, which has links to many of the Worldcon attendees' websites & lifejournals, has been that it is one of the best trophies ever! Not all, but I would not expect 100% agreement with any artistic critique, and negative opinions are definitely in the minority.

Fish Out of Water #240 - (Helgesen) George O. Smith died in 1981. Has anyone compared the version of "Rat Race" in The Worlds of George O. Smith (1982) with the story published in Astounding in August 1947 to see whether they are the same? Many authors have taken advantage of collections of their stories to replace the edited magazine versions with their original versions, as when Clifford D. Simak restored his title and version of "Skirmish" to his story first published as "Bathe Your Bearings in Blood".

Godzilla Verses #156 -- (DeChancie) We will welcome you back whenever you return to L.A., for Loscon 34 or sooner. I intend to attend Loscon 34, my health in November permitting; Glen Wooten is making arrangements to hire a professional caregiver for me during the con. ## The announced attendance of Anthrocon 2007 in Pittsburgh was 2,849. It is hard to imagine that Pittsburgh's s-f fans were unaware of it. ## Was the creature in The Thing (played by James Arness lurching around menacingly in dim background shots) ever shown clearly? The figure on the 2007 Hugo trophy is Ultraman, Japan's answer to Superman, defender of Japan from all those men-in-rubber-suit monsters on TV every week from 1966 to 1975 originally (including all the other Ultra Family members who showed up to help or to replace him like Ultra Seven, Ultraman Ace and Ultraman Leo), and from 1996 to 1999 (Ultraman Tiger, Ultraman Gaia, others) and 2003 to current (Ultraman Nexus, Ultraman Moebius, etc.; the latest, Ultraseven X, is to be an adult TV series broadcast at midnight starting on October 5th) in later nostalgic revivals. The Hugo ceremonies at Nippon 2007 included a lively skit with three Ultramen battling monsters; there is a four-minute clip of it on YouTube. ## As for crisp cream, I would not have believed in tempura-fried vanilla ice cream, but I was served it in Japan - a steaming hot tempura shell around cold ice cream. ## Let me know if you want me to reprint the reviews by Gene DeWeese from Science Fiction Review in 1984 & '85 of your Starrigger and Red Limit Freeway.

Oh, All Right!!! - (Lembke) Thank you for the White Castle hamburger recipes. I should ask my sister to get a package of the frozen White Castles just to see if they are as good as I remember the fresh burgers in their East-of-the-Mississippi take-out "restaurants" to be. ## I read that about slavery in the South being saved by the invention of the cotton gin, too.

MS Found in A(nother) Klein Bottle #42 - (Shapero) I do not mean to insult anyone, but from all that I have read about ConChord 20, I am glad that I went to the Galco's Soda Pop Stop instead. Filk singing just does not appeal to me (as much as ginger beer). ## No, I will just wait for the conclusion of Lawrence Watt-Evans' The Annals of the Chosen trilogy to be published next year. There will probably be a Science Fiction Book Club omnibus volume of all three novels. ## I know that some editors of anthropomorphic magazines never ask for rewrites of stories, because some of their authors have sent me their stories first for my critiques because they knew they would never get any advice for improvements from the editors they planned to submit them to. But other editors, such as Tim Susman & Jeff Eddy at Sofawolf Press, have rejected or asked for so many revisions of stories that some authors have gotten discouraged. (See Tim Susman's website, Thoughts on writing and other afflictions, for his philosophy toward editing.) The Hero, a 272-page furry homoerotic novel that I have just been sent by Bad Dog Books to review, was (according to its publicity) originally submitted as a novella for an anthology; publisher Alex Vance recommended and worked with its author to expand it into a novel. Renard's Menagerie pays for the stories it accepts, so I presume it does editing. Tales of the Tai-Pan Universe is a special case; it publishes only stories set in its furry space-opera universe, and its authors are expected to be familiar with all 43 issues of the magazine and not contradict anything already established in any of them. There is an Editorial Board (apparently most of Seattle furry fandom) which has monthly meetings ("September Writer's Night is tomorrow, Saturday, September 15, at Gene & Michael's, 7pm. E-mail Gene for address or directions at editor {at} taipanproject {dot} org. Dinner will be ready around 6:30 -- once again, we haven't decided yet what we're going to fix for dinner or if we're going to punt and order pizza. If you need to know for certain, e-mail Gene.") where they study all submissions to make sure they are consistent with past stories. "The Tai-Pan Literary & Arts Project exists to produce quality anthropomorphic publications, inspire contributors, and foster creative skills." Some stories have required over two years' worth of editing & rewriting. That sounds so rigorous that it is surprising the fanzine gets any submissions, but there have been enough to publish 43 issues since 1991, and the contents for the next two issues have been announced in their monthly newsletter. One of the stories, "Repas du Vivant" from Tai-Pan #14, is in my Best in Show/Furry! anthology. See http://www.taipanproject.org/ for further information. I am currently proofreading & critiquing three novel manuscripts, one for Sofawolf Press and two for their authors, one furry and the other not, the latter two intended for submission to major publishers.

I Nexialize Everything* -- (Gold) Voyage of the Space Beagle was my first van Vogt novel, and is still my favorite. ## It has been three weeks since Tadao Tomomatsu announced Susan Gleason's hospitalization at the LASFS, but I am pretty sure that pneumonia was mentioned along with diabetes as one of the suspected causes of the emergency; he said that the real reasons for her life-threatening status were not known yet. ## I will defer to De Profundis for how Joe Zeff chronicled the brouhaha over his reaction to the non-reading of his minutes. ## Thanks for your reassurance on being able to fit my whole 40+ years' worth of ˇRR! on my website. ## Did you also find the original 1907 photograph of "Miss Belinda Blurb in the act of blurbing"? ## I do not care that much for root beer, but an ice cream float with Dr. Pepper is yummy. ## If my wheelchair did float up to the ceiling of Freehafer Hall, the club could auction off taking rides in it. ## I sent an e.mail to Milt Stevens suggesting that Loscon 34's programming ought to have at least one panel on s-f stories actually about archaeology such as "Omnilingual" by H. Beam Piper, not just set in the prehistoric past or using "Forerunner ruins" as a gimmick. He replied that, "we have a bunch of stuff on archaeology and a bunch of stuff on SF, so the topics are almost bound to intersect."

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