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Now in our eighth calendar year!
PCR #364  (Vol. 8, No. 11) This edition is for the week of March 12--18, 2007.

The Tampa Film Review for March  by Nolan B. Canova
"Premonition"  by Mike Smith
The New Futurians: Frederick Pohl, Harry Harrison, Prof. Rick Wilber, and Rusty Hevelin at USF  by Andy Lalino
Gasparilla Film Fest Memories  by Paul Guzzo
Rondo Awards....Brad Delp -- RIP  by Matt Drinnenberg
Who Is That Guy....Rock and Roll Band....Was Gary Cherone Busy?...Coming Soon....Don't Mind Me, Mr. Blackmore....Whatever Happened To...? Chapter 11: Treat Williams  by Mike Smith
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Oddservations by Andy Lalino

The New Futurians: Frederick Pohl, Harry Harrison, Prof. Rick Wilber, and Rusty Hevelin at USF

In 2007, Spring Fever has thus far equalled a dizzying parade of genre-based lectures and events: Peter Straub at USF, The Horror + Hotties Film Festival (USF), MegaCon, The Gasparilla Film Festival, and most recently "The Golden Age of Science-Fiction 1930-1970", a lecture on science-fiction literature and fandom by legendary authors Frederick Pohl and Harry Harrison, also hosted at USF.

Most readers probably know that I work at USF, but live in Clearwater...a brutal commute. Lately, however, it's paid off handsomely as I had the pleasure of attending two lectures at the university with glorious ease. Such was the case with horror author Peter Straub back in February, and most recently a dynamic lecture on Golden Era Science-Fiction from a panel of classic writers & fanboys: Frederick Pohl, Harry Harrison, Prof. Rick Wilber, and fandom founding father and collector Rusty Hevelin.

I attended the panel with co-worker and classic fanboy Shawn Dudley. Before beaming up to Traditions Hall in the Gibbons Alumni Center, we enjoyed dinner at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant, which was incredible. On the way over, I think Shawn was impressed by some of my listening material I keep captive in my car: Devo, Ultravox, The Motels, and other select New Wave bands. Shawn's preferences lie more with less commercial acts, such as Husker Du and The Replacements, as well as modern bands such as The Hives and The Libertines. He does, however, maintain a healthy respect for the mainstream inroads Wave was able to pave in the late '70s/early '80s, and never once called me a dinosaur.

Dinner ingested, we then star-trekked over to Gibbons Alumni Center - one of USF's newer buildings. It impressed. The interior has a clean, modern look + feel. Nearby was a booth adorned with softcover books by Pohl and Harrison, ready for signing. I was a little surprised that a line had formed to enter the auditorium, however this gave us the opportunity to mingle with fellow geeks and USF library staff. I finally noted why the need for a queue - we were requested to sign in and sign up for an e-mail list! Aw, no problem, if they'll let me know about future fantastic genre offerings, then the wait was worth it. We finally made it inside and sat down middle center.

The crowd was relatively enormous; much larger than Peter Straub's lecture (hey, you horror fans...get it in gear!!). We looked around and saw a few familiar faces - Roderick Colbert from USF's film club, and members of Riverview's Stone Hill sci-fi club, who are famously author-friendly. There were at least two video production set-ups that were chronicling the lecture.

Before us sat the grand council of elders...legends who remain the living pillars of science-fiction literature and fandom we know today. Had these men never existed, we'd probably be organizing musical theater conventions in lieu of sci-fi - a very scary notion! The authors and classic fanboys were introduced according to seating: Frederick Pohl, Harry Harrison, Prof. Rick Wilbur, and Rusy Hevelin. What the panel lacked in youthful dexterity, they made up for with supremely fascinating tales of the sci-fi scene...from the '30s to the '70s! It's admittedly difficult for even a forty-year-old (*ahem!*) to put into perspective just what that means. Imagine a time with precious few sci-fi films, literature, and fandom in general - that would be the '20s and '30s. In the early '30s horror was hot, but the science-fiction film had sporadic bursts of presence, for example "Metropolis", "Things to Come", "Just Imagine", and the Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon features and serials. But perhaps I jump the gun too much; this panel primarily concentrated on literature, and not cinema. Still, however, few formal sci-fi novels were published back in those days; fantastic literature was mostly confined to the wonderful pulp magazines of the period, which were numerous and which gave authors an arena to refine their skills.

Paralleling the emergence of popular science-fiction literature was the eventual emergence of fandom, which these men helped establish. In '35, there were no MegaCons, full-color fanzines, or websites. These were the pioneers who demanded to get together, even crossing different states, to discuss their love of sci-fi and the fantastic (fanboy legend Forrest J Ackerman was also frequently mentioned as an innovator). They held meetings, often in basements, to discuss authors' works and promote sci-fi in mainstream circles. They laid the groundwork for the fantastic literature and cinema we enjoy today. The only "convention" mentioned that was regularly held back in the '30s was "Worldcon", which Ackerman and the other panelists attended. Of course, from Worldcon comes the inspiration for the major conventions we all now enjoy. It was hilarious to see these wizards of words still griping about Forry's originating the term "sci-fi"!

I was surprised at how much of the night's topics were about the history of fandom rather than literature. Keeping in mind everyone on the panel are devoted fanboys as well as authors, that's somewhat understandable. Rusty Hevelin shared prized artifacts of bygone years which chronicled and traced stories/literature from the period as well as early examples of DIY fanzines. Pohl and Harrison, aging though sharp, recalled the beginnings of their career as they struggled to become paid authors. They also walked the uninitiated through the '30s/'40s pulp world, from editors to cover artists. All acknowledged that the popularity of Star Trek back in the early '70s ushered in a new era in fandom, stating that the show had made the mainstream audience "discover" and embrace this new, imaginative frontier, and things would never be the same, especially pertaining to conventions.

As the lecture wrapped at about 9pm, aspiring sci-fi authors jumped at the chance to mind-meld with the panel in the guise of questions. Post Q&A was an enthusiastic book signing, and refreshments were served in the lobby. I had the chance to shake hands with both Prof. Rick Wilber and Rusty Hevelin, thanking them for their innovation, insight, love of the genre, and for organizing this event the crowd so evidently enjoyed. Shawn had purchased a softcover Pohl collection, and had the author sign.

An ultimately unforgettable event, and one that I hope will be held again very soon!

"Oddservations" is ©2007 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. Photos by Andy Lalino. All other graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.