Newsletter #1 mailed out 14 November 2000

What I hope to do in these occasional newsletters is put out items of possibly general interest, including updates to the website. Of these there have been two:

In the NEWS section is a picture of my new bike, a 2001 Kawasaki Concours. In a bit I hope to have more pictures of it up, probably including one on the home page. The bike is extremely similar in all respects to the 1986 model it replaces--which is why I got it. (

And in the BIBLIOGRAPHY, there's now a link to Old Nathan. I intend to do notes to most of the titles in due course, but I've got to admit it's been a while since I made the previous addition. (

I've mentioned to individuals (though I haven't put it up on the site) that The Learning Company, a division of Mattel, bought electronic game rights to the Hammer's Slammers series. Mattel has sold the division (which was bleeding the parent corporation white) and the new owners have cancelled the Slammers project. While I won't claim this is exactly good news, my wonderful agent Kay McCauley got all our money up front. Mattel was the second company to pay me for game rights to the series. If a third organization would like to send me money, I would be more than happy to entertain offers.

Many of you may know that L Sprague DeCamp just died. While I don't think it's a matter for my website, I did an appreciation of Sprague for Locus and can forward it to any of you who'd like to see it.

The weekend before Halloween I was at World Fantasy Con, this year in Corpus Christi. I'm not comfortable at cons, but WFC is one I go to more often than I miss it. It's the paramount professional gathering in the f/sf field, and since I go to NYC rarely (I think about five times in my whole lifetime) I think it's important for me to meet publishers and editors on occasion to remind them that I'm a real person.

There were several high points for me this year. Bob Brown, a dealer from Seattle and a friend now of many years' standing, had the March and April, 1924, issues of Weird Tales in mint condition. A fellow had been cleaning out his mother's basement after she went into a nursing home. He'd brought in some old Outdoor Lifes, some 1908 World's Fair brochures--and these, which Bob is offering at $2500 apiece.

I had dinner one night with Tom Doherty and Gene Wolfe. Somehow--I believe it was one of the women at the table who asked something--the three of us started talking about our experiences in the army. Gene and Tom were Korean War vintage; my exposure was Viet Nam. It was the same (horrible) army for all of us, though. The dinner and the company were both memorable in a very good way.

And I moderated a panel on the question of whether a commercially successful book can ever get critical acclaim. It was... an interesting panel. Afterwards two of the panel members, Ed Bryant and Steve Donaldson, congratulated me on doing a good job; and Ed added that it had gotten people's blood flowing. There are no truths in a business like that, but everybody on the panel spoke honestly and more directly than you often hear from people in public. I'll call it a win.

On November 5, I went to the International Fortean Organization Convention, Fortfest. I've been interested in the paranormal even before I first read Charles Fort's work, and that was at age 15. I got even more of personal interest from this Fortfest than I usually do. As usual, I find the data more compelling than I do the explanations and analyses offered (which is not to say that the latter are false, just that I generally don't believe that they're true).

Among the neat stuff this year was a fellow named Phil Imbrogno who's been studying megalithic structures in the Hudson Valley (and has a new book out on the subject). The official archeological explanation, that these are colonial storage chambers, would be silly even without the obsidian dagger Imbrogno found in one of them (though colonial reuse is virtually certain). On the other hand, I don't feel it's any more necessary to believe the structures prove Celtic visitations to North America in the 3d millennium BC than I think the ruins of Zimbabwe were left by King Solomon's miners.

Marty Cain, a landscape artist with her MA and MFA from my alma mater, the U of Iowa, discussed her use of dowsing in siting her own work and in interpreting European megaliths. This was an extremely interesting talk to me, because Cain is demonstrably smart and competent--and is basically from a different planet from mine. (Hers is a much nicer planet.)

A lot of what I heard at Fortfest will make its way into my fiction. More important than the direct connections, however, are the many ways that the discussions made me think. Next year when Fortfest is announced I'll post the data on my website. Those of you who happen to be in the DC area might find it worth your while to attend.

So much for this first installment. All best,
Dave Drake

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