big names

Interviews with Contest judges, past winners, current winners, and entrants
FictionMuse
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Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:13 pm

big names

Postby FictionMuse » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:35 pm

In my continuing efforts to get caught up on who’s who and what’s what, I read Wikipedia articles on Isaac Asimov, Arthur Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Robert Silverberg, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Harlan Ellison, Ursula Le Guin, Connie Willis, William Gibson, Philip Dick, Frederik Pohl, Poul Anderson, Orson Scott Card, Allen Dean Foster, James Blish, Ben Bova, Jim Baen, John Campbell, Jack Williamson, Olaf Stapledon, L. Sprague de Camp, H.P. Lovecraft; plus synopsises and background for their most notable stories. Alfred Bester’s encounter with John Campbell had me laughing uncontrollably. I also spent a lot of time analyzing the Hugo and Nebula awards and noticed some interesting patterns.




THEY DIDN’T AND THEY DON’T:
“Bradbury never got a drivers license and refuses to ebook his stories. Asimov never traveled by plane. Mike Resnick doesn't watch TV. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before I discover that a famous science fiction writer never had a phone. And one who never switched from typewriter to keyboard.” No sooner than I wrote this, I read this about Harlan Ellison: “He does all his writing on a manual Olympia typewriter, and has a substantial distaste for personal computers and most of the Internet.” I am now 100% certain there’s a famous science fiction writer who never had a phone.


THE BRADBURY MIRACLE:
“Bradbury's first paid piece, "Pendulum", written with Henry Hasse, was published in the pulp magazine Super Science Stories in November 1941, for which he earned $15. He became a full-time writer by the end of 1942.” Bradbury achieved in one year what ever science fiction writer dreams of, what many do not achieve for 10 or 20 years after they start writing, and what only a small percentage ever achieve.


FRANK HERBERT’S SLOW TRAIN:
“Herbert began researching Dune in 1959 and was able to devote himself wholeheartedly to his writing career because his wife returned to work full time as an advertising writer for department stores, becoming the main breadwinner during the 1960s…The book was not an instant bestseller. By 1968 Herbert had made $20,000 from it, far more than most science fiction novels of the time were generating, but not enough to let him take up full-time writing. However, the publication of Dune did open doors for him. He was the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's education writer from 1969 to 1972 and lecturer in general studies and interdisciplinary studies at the University of Washington (1970 – 1972). He worked in Vietnam and Pakistan as social and ecological consultant in 1972. By 1972, Herbert retired from newspaper writing and became a full-time fiction writer.”


CAUTION: HARLAN ELLISON ON BOARD
“Ellison has a reputation for being abrasive and argumentative. He has generally agreed with this assessment, and a dust jacket from one of Ellison's books described him as "possibly the most contentious person on Earth". Ellison has filed numerous grievance filings and lawsuit attempts that have been characterized as both justifiable and frivolous. His friend Isaac Asimov noted "Harlan uses his gifts for colorful and variegated invective on those who irritate him — intrusive fans, obdurate editors, callous publishers, offensive strangers." Another friend, writer Robert Bloch, spoke at a roast for Ellison, saying that other people take infinite pains; "Harlan gives them." ”

“Ellison attended Ohio State University for 18 months (1951–53) before being expelled. He has said that the expulsion was a result of his hitting a professor who had denigrated his writing ability, and that over the next 40-odd years he had sent that professor a copy of every story he published.”

"Would you be slightly less self-righteous and chiding if I told you there was NO grab…there was NO grope…there was NO fondle...there was the slightest touch. A shtick, a gag between friends, absolutely NO sexual content. How about it, Mark: after playing straight man to Connie Willis’ very frequently demeaning public jackanapery toward me—including treating me with considerable disrespect at the Grand Master Awards Weekend, where she put a chair down in front of her lectern as Master of Ceremonies, and made me sit there like a naughty child throughout her long 'roast' of my life and career—for more than 25 years, without once complaining, whaddaya think, Mark, am I even a leetle bit entitled to think that Connie likes to play, and geez ain't it sad that as long as SHE sets the rules for play, and I'm the village idiot, she's cool … but gawd forbid I change the rules and play MY way for a change …"


THE DARK SIDE OF JOHN CAMPBELL:
“Campbell's growing interest in pseudoscience damaged his reputation in the field. Campbell was deeply involved with the launch of dianetics, publishing Hubbard's first article on it in Astounding in May 1950, and promoting it heavily in the months beforehand, and later in the decade he championed psionics… In 1949, Campbell became interested in Dianetics. He wrote of L. Ron Hubbard's initial article in Astounding that "It is, I assure you in full and absolute sincerity, one of the most important articles ever published." He also claimed to have successfully used dianetic techniques himself... Asimov wrote: "A number of writers wrote pseudoscientific stuff to ensure sales to Campbell, but the best writers retreated, I among them. ..." The first thing Campbell said to Alfred Bester was that Freud was dead, destroyed by the new discovery of Dianetics, which, he predicted, would win L. Ron Hubbard the Nobel Peace Prize. Campbell ordered the bemused Bester to "think back. Clear yourself. Remember! You can remember when your mother tried to abort you with a button hook. You've never stopped hating her for it." Bester commented: "It reinforced my private opinion that a majority of the science-fiction crowd, despite their brilliance, were missing their marbles." At the time of his sudden death after 34 years at the helm of Analog, Campbell's quirky personality and eccentric editorial demands had alienated a number of his most illustrious writers to the point that they no longer submitted works to him. Asimov's final word on Campbell was that "in the last twenty years of his life, he was only a diminishing shadow of what he had once been." Even Heinlein, perhaps Campbell's most important discovery, and a "fast friend," eventually tired of Campbell.”


PHILIP DICK: LIFE IMITATES ART, ART IMITATES LIFE
On February 20, 1974, while recovering from the effects of sodium pentothal administered for the extraction of an impacted wisdom tooth, Dick answered the door to receive delivery of extra analgesic and encountered a Christian woman who was calling door-to-door. She wore a Christian fish-pendant; Dick called the symbol the "vesicle pisces". This name seems to have been based on his conflation of two related symbols, the Christian ichthys symbol (two intersecting arcs delineating a fish in profile) which the woman was wearing, and the vesica piscis. Dick recounted that as the sun glinted off the gold pendant, the reflection caused the generation of a "pink beam" that mesmerized him. Dick came to believe the beam imparted wisdom and clairvoyance; he also believed it to be intelligent. (On one occasion, Dick was startled by the pink beam. It imparted the information to him that his infant son was ill. The Dicks rushed the child to the hospital where Dick's suspicion and his diagnosis were confirmed.) After the woman's departure, Dick began experiencing strange visions. Although initially attributing them to his medication, after weeks of visions he considered this explanation implausible. "I experienced an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind, as if I had been insane all my life and suddenly I had become sane," Dick told Charles Platt. Throughout February and March 1974, Dick experienced a series of visions, which he referred to as "2-3-74", shorthand for February–March 1974. Aside from the "pink beam", Dick described the initial visions as geometric patterns, and, occasionally, brief pictures of Jesus and ancient Rome. As the visions increased in length and frequency, Dick claimed he began to live a double life, one as himself, "Philip K. Dick", and one as "Thomas", a Christian persecuted by Romans in the 1st century AD. He referred to the "transcendentally rational mind" as "Zebra", "God" and "VALIS". Dick wrote about the experiences, first in the semi-autobiographical novel Radio Free Albemuth and then in VALIS, The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, i.e., the VALIS trilogy. At one point Dick felt that he had been taken over by the spirit of the prophet Elijah. He believed that an episode in his novel Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said was a detailed retelling of a story from the Biblical Book of Acts, which he had never read. Dick documented and discussed his experiences and faith in a private journal, later published as Exegesis…VALIS (1980) is perhaps Dick's most postmodern and autobiographical novel, examining his own unexplained experiences. It may also be his most academically studied work, and was adapted as an opera by Tod Machover. VALIS was voted Philip K. Dick‘s best novel at the website philipkdickfans.com. Later works like the VALIS trilogy were heavily autobiographical, many with "two-three-seventy-four" (2-3-74) references and influences. The word VALIS is the acronym for Vast Active Living Intelligence System. Later, PKD theorized that VALIS was both a "reality generator" and a means of extraterrestrial communication. A fourth VALIS manuscript, Radio Free Albemuth, although composed in 1976, was posthumously published in 1985. This work is described by the publisher (Arbor House) as "an introduction and key to his magnificent VALIS trilogy." Regardless of the feeling that he was somehow experiencing a divine communication, Dick was never fully able to rationalize the events. For the rest of his life, he struggled to comprehend what was occurring, questioning his own sanity and perception of reality. He transcribed what thoughts he could into an eight-thousand-page, one-million-word journal dubbed the Exegesis. From 1974 until his death in 1982, Dick spent sleepless nights writing in this journal, often under the influence of prescription amphetamines. A recurring theme in Exegesis is PKD's hypothesis that history had been stopped in the 1st century AD., and that "the Empire never ended". He saw Rome as the pinnacle of materialism and despotism, which, after forcing the Gnostics underground, had kept the population of Earth enslaved to worldly possessions. Dick believed that VALIS had communicated with him, and anonymous others, to induce the impeachment of U.S. President Richard Nixon, whom Dick believed to be the current Emperor of Rome incarnate…The Exegesis is a journal kept by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, documenting and exploring his religious and visionary experiences. Dick's wealth of knowledge on the subjects of philosophy, religion, and science inform the work throughout. Dick started the journal after his visionary experiences in February and March 1974, which he called "2-3-74." These visions began shortly after Dick had impacted wisdom teeth removed. When a delivery person from the pharmacy brought his pain medication, he noticed the ichthys necklace she wore and asked her what it meant. She responded that it was a symbol used by the early Christians, and in that moment Dick's religious experiences began: “In that instant, as I stared at the gleaming fish sign and heard her words, I suddenly experienced what I later learned is called anamnesis—a Greek word meaning, literally, "loss of forgetfulness." I remembered who I was and where I was. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, it all came back to me. And not only could I remember it but I could see it. The girl was a secret Christian and so was I. We lived in fear of detection by the Romans. We had to communicate with cryptic signs. She had just told me all this, and it was true. For a short time, as hard as this is to believe or explain, I saw fading into view the black, prisonlike contours of hateful Rome. But, of much more importance, I remembered Jesus, who had just recently been with us, and had gone temporarily away, and would very soon return. My emotion was one of joy. We were secretly preparing to welcome Him back. It would not be long. And the Romans did not know. They thought He was dead, forever dead. That was our great secret, our joyous knowledge. Despite all appearances, Christ was going to return, and our delight and anticipation were boundless.” In the following weeks, Dick experienced further visions, including a hallucinatory slideshow of abstract patterns and an information-rich beam of pink light. In the Exegesis, he theorized as to the origins and meaning of these experiences, frequently concluding that they were religious in nature. The being that originated the experiences is referred to by several names, including Zebra, God, and the Vast Active Living Intelligence System. From 1974 until his death in 1982, Dick wrote the Exegesis by hand in late-night writing sessions, sometimes composing as many as 150 pages in a sitting. In total, it consists of approximately 8,000 pages of notes, only a small portion of which have been published. Besides the Exegesis, Dick described his visions and faith in numerous other works, including VALIS, Radio Free Albemuth, The Divine Invasion, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer, one brief passage in A Scanner Darkly, and the uncompleted The Owl in Daylight, as well as many essays and personal letters. In Pursuit of Valis: Selections From the Exegesis was published in 1991. In April 2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced plans to publish further excerpts from the Exegesis in two volumes. The first, 1056 pages long, would be released in 2011, and the second (a volume of the same length) in 2012. Editor Jonathan Lethem described the upcoming publications as "absolutely stultifying, brilliant, repetitive, and contradictory. It just might contain the secret of the universe."


LOVECRAFT: DO NOT RETURN TO SENDER
“In later life, Lovecraft’s correspondence was so voluminous that it has been estimated that he may have written around 30,000 letters to various correspondents, a figure which places him second only to Voltaire as an epistolarian. Lovecraft clearly states that his contact to numerous different people through letter-writing was one of the main factors in broadening his view of the world.”


RAY BRADBURY: I AM NOT A SCIENCE FICTION WRITER
“First of all, I don't write science fiction. I've only done one science fiction book and that's Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it's fantasy. It couldn't happen, you see? That's the reason it's going to be around a long time—because it's a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.”


HUGO CURIOSITIES:
Clarke didn’t get a Hugo nomination for “2001 Space Odyssey.” Even though it’s the most famous science fiction novel of all time. Although he did get a Retro Hugo for “Childhood’s End” and did get an Oscar for the script of “2001.” But the first sequel, “2010,” did get a nomination. And his less famous books, “Rendezvous with Rama” and “The Fountains of Paradise,” won Hugos. “Dune,” the second most famous science fiction novel, got nominated 3 times and won once. Asimov didn’t get a Hugo nomination for “Caves of Steel.” But Heinlein got Hugo wins for “Starship Troopers” and “Stranger in a Strange Land.” Bradbury got no nominations for either award, not even for “Fahrenheit 451.” “Flowers for Algernon” the short story won, “Flowers for Algernon” the novel was nominated; “Nightfall” the short story would almost certainly have won had there been a Hugo at that time, but “Nightfall” the novel didn’t even get nominated.


HUGO VERSUS HOLLYWOOD:
Philip Dick is the only science fiction writer included in the “Library of America” series. He’s been called “the Shakespeare of science fiction.” Time magazine listed “Ubik” among the greatest English language novels published since 1923.

Several film adaptations of Dick’s stories have become blockbusters; 2 of them, “Total Recall,” and “Blade Runner,” have become part of the linguistic culture (“Minority Report” is on its way to that status and “Adjustment Bureau” will eventually follow).

Hollywood has repeated and heavily mined Philip Dick’s theme of reality versus illusion - “The Matrix,” “Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Dark City,” “The Truman Show,” “Gattaca,” “12 Monkeys,” “Fight Club,” “Vanilla Sky,” “Donnie Darko,” “Southland Tales,” “Memento,” “Inception.”

But only 3 Hugo nominations and only one win. So apparently he’s had a lot of influence on people who make movies, but not much influence on people who cast Hugo ballots.


HUGO VERSUS NEBULA:
Tallying the short fiction Nebula nominations, I found a slew a people who got nominated a lot more times for the Nebula than for the Hugo: Gregory Benford, Edward Bryant, Jack Dann, Avram Davidson, Samuel Delany, Thomas Disch, Gardner Dozois, Andy Duncan, Karen Joy Fowler, Esther Freisner, Joe Haldeman, Joanna Russ, Lucius Shepard, John Varley, Kate Wilhelm, Walter John Williams, Roger Zelazny. Kate Wilhelm, for example, was nominated 14 times for Nebula short fiction but only 4 times for Hugo short fiction.

http://www.locusmag.com/SFAwards/Db/NebulaNomList.html


HUGO LONGEVITY:
Looking at the Locus index arranged by name, only one author who was nominated for the Hugo multiple times was active for less than 10 years. All but 3 were active for 15-20 years. A few, 30-40 years. Some continued writing long after the nominations stopped.

The nomination numbers are for short fiction, which is my specialty. The dates are for all fiction nominations. Legendary authors are not included because their longevity is well known and because they started writing before the Hugo was established.

Mike Resnick - 30, 1989-2010
Connie Willis - 19, 1980-2011
Michael Swanwick - 19, 1986-2009
Harlan Ellison - 18, 1966-1994
Ursula Le Guin - 17, 1970-2003
Robert Silverberg - 13, 1968-1990
George Martin - 13, 1974-2006
Fritz Leiber - 12, 1959-1976
Larry Niven - 11, 1967-1990
Michael Burnstein - 10, 1996-2006
Nancy Kress - 10, 1990-2010
Bruce Sterling 10, 1983-1999
Roger Zelazny - 10, 1964-1987
James Patrick Kelly - 9, 1987-2011
Orson Scott Card - 9, 1978-1992
Greg Egan - 9, 1995-2008
Kim Stanley Robinson - 9, 1983-2003
James Tiptree - 9, 1973-1986
Paul Anderson - 8, 1959-1990
Michael Bishop - 8, 1974-1995
Ted Chiang - 8, 1991-2011
Terry Bisson - 7, 1991-2000
Geoffrey Landis - 7, 1985-2011
Howard Waldrop - 7, 1981-2006
Stephen Baxter - 6, 1996-2008
Gene Wolf - 6, 1973-2008
Gordon Dickson - 5, 1960-1981

http://www.locusmag.com/SFAwards/Db/HugoNomList.html

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izanobu
Posts: 1240
Joined: Sun Jun 28, 2009 6:03 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: big names

Postby izanobu » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:55 pm

"$15.00 in 1941 had the same buying power as $240.08 in 2012."

Lot easier to make a living on fiction back then... what with the rates for stories being almost the same as today and there being many more publications. It's sad, kinda, that I get paid 5 cents a word now and someone selling to magazines in the 40's and 50's got paid 3-5 cents also. Only their couple hundred bucks could pay their rent for the month and buy some groceries. How times change but yet some things don't change enough. wotf008

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Mike Resnick
Posts: 192
Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:24 pm

Re: big names

Postby Mike Resnick » Sun Jul 08, 2012 10:34 pm

Not entirely the case. Yes, some lower-level zines and small-press anthologies pay a nickel a word, and yes, Galaxy, F&SF and Astounding were paying 3 cents a word in the early 1950s. But most of the prozines in the early 1950s were still paying 1 to 2 cents a word -- and these days, you can do a lot better than a nickel a word, even a lot better than the three digests. Jim Baen's Universe paid from a dime to a quarter a word (usually the latter), Tor.com pays a quarter, a number of e-zines pay a dime.

Another thing to consider: In 1970, the highest price ever paid for a paperback
novel in this field was $7,500.

That's why there are a lot less starving pros today than half a century ago.
Hugo & Nebula multi-award winner
Writers of the Future Contest Judge
www.mikeresnick.com


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