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Guests of Honour

SFContario 4 Guests of Honour

The SFContario 4 concom is proud to announce the following individuals as guests of honour for our event.

Chandler Davis: A Voice for Peace

Science Guest of Honour

HORACE CHANDLER DAVIS published his first science fiction story, “The Nightmare,” in the May 1946 Astounding at the age of nineteen. A dozen more stories followed, examining such issues as gender roles, genetic engineering, nuclear escalation, and corporate power over government. In 1953, Davis — then a professor of mathematics at the University of Michigan — was served with a subpoena as a result of his having paid for the printing of a pamphlet critical of the House Committee on Un- American Activities. His subsequent ordeal included the loss of his job and a six-month imprisonment in 1960 for contempt of Congress. Blacklisted from full-time academic jobs in the U.S., he ultimately found employment in 1962 at the University of Toronto, where he is now an Emeritus Professor of Mathematics. He has been married for sixty-five years to the feminist historian Natalie Zemon Davis; their daughters are scholar-educator-activists Hannah Taieb and Simone Weil Davis; their son is jazz musician Aaron Davis.

In addition to being a prominent mathematician and Golden Age SF writer, Chan Davis is a lifelong peace activist and an advocate for civil liberties around the world. He was in the small group of professors whose work on behalf of mathematicians imprisoned for their political ties led to the founding of the American Mathematical Society’s Committee for Human Rights. He has also written poetry and co-organized the Workshop for Creative Writing in Mathematics and Science, a project at the Banff International Research Station intended to break barriers between science, art, and journalistic writing. Material from the workshop appears in the anthology The Shape of Content: Creative Writing in Mathematics and Science (Chandler Davis, Marjorie Senechal, and Jan Zwicky, editors. Wellesley, MA: AK Peters, 2009). Aqueduct Press’s It Walks in Beauty: Selected prose of Chandler Davis (2010) collects some of Davis’s fiction and nonfiction as well as an interview and three verbose essays by editor Josh Lukin, who celebrates Davis’s accomplishments and analyzes their cultural context.

In one of his essays on the Red Scare and academic freedom, Davis wrote that “diverse parties should dwell side by side, not with the tolerance of indifference, but embattled and cherishing each other: each should know that in its quest the contest with those who disagree will bring faster progress than would an unobstructed route.” His devotion to free speech and open discussion as necessities for a healthy society has enabled him to interact and work with people of many different political orientations. In the course of his long career in science fiction, he has argued eugenics with John W. Campbell Jr., debated The Fountainhead with Theodore Sturgeon, criticized ethnic stereotypes in L. Ron Hubbard, and persuaded Judith Merril to move to Canada. A great and attentive conversationalist, he is equally at ease discussing Thelonious Monk’s life, Eric Alterman’s journalism, Gilbert and Sullivan operas, alternate-history litfic, and the virtues of a really good bowl of roasted broccoli with garlic and pine nuts. His first Toronto SF gathering was Torcon in 1948; he has become a regular attendee of SFContario and loves almost everything about it.

-- Josh Lukin, Ph.D.

David Kyle: The Numbered Fandom

Fan Guest of Honour

Time: a sunny afternoon in the Year: 2050
Stage direction:

Set: A large room without windows, with one door.
Contents: A box 6’ X 3’ X3’; an upholstered chair. Two standalone candles, one at each end of the box. Although they have been burning for many years, their size has not been reduced.  A fireplace without a fire.

As our play opens, the door opens and a very old man enters the room. That man is me. I walk over to the chair and sit down, thinking a fire would warm my old bones.

Roger: (To himself) Gee, a fire sure would be nice!

Stage direction: The fireplace springs to life. Some of the smoke slithers across the room and seeps into the box. Soon the lid slides to the open position. A very old man sits up. It is Dave Kyle: daring of the air waves, creator of Second Fandom, and original member of First Fandom.

Roger: Well, Dave, how was your sleep?

Dave: Fine, but what do you want now? I was in the middle of a dream of a very erotic nature and you interrupted the cl…

Roger: Never mind. It's time to tell the stories of First and Second Fandom.

Dave: If we must! I’ll start. It was a dark and stormy night. The boys were whooping it … Oh, sorry, wrong story. Well, First Fandom was created at some drunken party at a Midwestcon, which Is now MidAmeriCon, with membership from an area bounded on the east by the Allegheny Mountains, the south by Mexico City, the west by the Rockies, and the North by Toronto, Canada. I organized Second Fandom at SunCon in 1977. Then, in 1987 at Montreal I dissolved it. After that was my motion to create two classes of fans, First and Friends of. It was seconded and passed.

Roger: Very good! But why was it created?

Dave: I and my fellow First Fans felt we were not being treated with the respect we deserved..

Roger: What do you mean by that?

Dave: Why, we deserved the front seats at all functions.

Roger: What were the activities?

Dave: The Staple Wars were the most notable and fun. Bob Tucker wanted the staples removed and the pages held together with chewing gum. Don Wolheim opposed, and suggested the staples be made out of platinum. After reading the mag you could remove the staples and sell then for thirty cents. You could then buy 2 mags. The war ended when Bob Tucker sent out his newsletter with bloody staples. Now Roger, what is happening with Second Fandom?

Roger: Not much of anything.

Dave: Which is why I dissolved it.

Roger: You remember it was you who made me the permanent head of Second Fandom. The fact that it no longer exists does not dissolve me of my duty with the bottle of brandy. As you know, as permanent head of Second Fandom, I was to open the bottle of brandy for the last first fan standing so he or she could drink a toast to all who had died before. However, as you remember, because we could not find it we decided that when you entered the great fanzine room upstairs, you would ask Lou, and then at this meeting you would tell me where he had hidden it.

Dave: The son of a gun took it with him. I’ve seen it. I told him to send it down to you, but he won’t give it up. To get the bottle you will have to get a habeus corpus. With that, you can dig up he body. You’ll find the bottle tucked under his left arm.

Roger: That’s all I need to know. I’ll retrieve the bottle, open it, pour a healthy glass, and drink to all the First Fans who are no longer with the living. You know, Dave, I've been told that some day I’ll be in a box next to you. When that happens, a member of the 117th fandom will take over the ceremony of the bottle.

Dave: 117th! But when I was put in this box there were no numbered fandoms. What happened?

Roger: The 135 direct decadents of George, don’t ask me how many times I’ve been married, Young decided that they could be the 117th. And why not? Our day is done. So the rest of fandom can do anything they want. And so with that I am out of here!

Stage Direction: The smoke that had been twirling around Dave slowly moves back to the fireplace as the fire goes out. As Roger gets up, Dave lies down. The lid closes. I walk to the door, open it, and walk out. The door closes. At the same time, a smaller box begins to form.

OFFSTAGE DIRECTION: Was this a fictitious play? Did this really happen? Was it a dream, or a figment of the author’s imagination? Only time will tell!

— Roger Sims

Seanan McGuire: Renaissance Woman

Author Guest of Honour

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready to meet a true renaissance woman. An internationally renowned author, a writer of bestsellers, a nominee for so many different Hugo Awards it makes your head spin, a double Hugo award-winner, a standup comic, a five-time Pegasus-award-winning songwriter and performer, a podcaster, a machete enthusiast, a webcomic artist, a mother to monstrous cats, a blogger, a folklorist, a lover of epidemiology and herpetology and old-school horror, and so much more.

She can sing, dance, recite primes, and kill you with her brain. In fact, it's part of her job to think of new and interesting ways to commit murder. She's killed me in fiction a few times, and all of them were gory deaths, which is one of the ways I can tell she likes me. She researches and writes about viruses, bacteria, parasites, dangerous reptiles, insidious plots, and – I kid you not – evil pie.

As you've likely guessed by now, she's not new to fandom. From Doctor Who to My Little Pony, horror splatterfests to epic fantasy, Disney princesses to the X-Men, Tiptree to King, from books to comics to TV to questionable SyFy channel original movies, she is a disturbing devotee. She has been attending, presenting at, and helping to run conventions since she was a teenager. From gopher to attendee to concom to panelist to honoured guest, she has done it all.

If you haven't heard of her, I envy you the opportunity to meet her and her work for the first time. I highly recommend going to one of her panels this weekend, picking up one of her books, listening to one of her albums, or looking her up on the Internet.

She is Seanan McGuire, and one day, she's going to kill us all.

Don't worry, it'll be quick... and if it isn't, your suffering will at least be documented for science.

— Amy McNally

Selected Works of Seanan McGuire

The October Day series

  • Rosemary and Rue, 2009
  • A Local Habitation, 2010
  • An Artificial Night, 2010
  • Late Eclipses, 2011
  • One Salt Sea, 2011
  • Ashes of Honor, 2012
  • Chimes at Midnight, 2013

The Incryptid series

  • Discount Armaggeddon, 2012
  • Midnight Blue-Light Special, 2013

The Parasitism and Newsflesh series (writing as Mira Grant)

  • Feed, 2010
  • Deadline, 2011
  • Blackout, 2012
  • Parasite, 2013

Awards of Seanan McGuire

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, 2010

Hugo Award for Best Fancast, SF Squeecast, 2012

Pegasus Awards:

  • Best Performer, 2007
  • Best Writer/Composer, 2008
  • Best Mad Science Song, "What A Woman's For", 2010
  • Best Badass Song, "Evil Laugh", 2011
  • Best Filk Song, "Wicked Girls", 2012