Heinlein Society at the 61st World Science Fiction Convention
2003 Heinlein Award Presentation and Dinner
Torcon 3, Toronto, Canada
August 29, 2003
“The Heinlein Society is full of people who… really believe, and really understand what he is trying to accomplish philosophically. They are a serious-minded group of individuals who are out to change the world for the better.”
as quoted by Amy Baxter
reported by David Silver
Arriving at the restaurant at 5:30 PM, there was the usual mad dash to get everything in place: Peter Scott got the AV tech squared away, Sam and Jane and everyone else cooperated in getting the place settings down, Deb and Geo, assisted ably by Jake Keaton, set up the cameras to tape the event, while Alan Milner acted as my substitute host, keeping things going, while I paid off the restaurant and the service from which we’d rented the AV equipment and set up.
Guests did arrive indeed at 6 PM, sharp! and we let them take their seats while cocktails were served. It was a well dressed, wonderful looking crowd, and everyone seemed very excited and pleased to be there.
Dinner began without a hitch with all guests including all the head table seated and served in plenty of time. After the entree was consumed and while coffee and dessert was being served I began the program by introducing the head table: Alan Milner, our director and fundraising chair, and Simone Dimatteo, his lovely companion for that evening. Alan deserved a special commendation for attending — he underwent surgery only three weeks ago, and two lobes of his left lung were removed, so he was under considerable ‘discomfort’ as the medicos call it; but Simone, a wonderful lady, deserved even more commendation for making his attendance possible.
Next I introduced Larry and Marilyn Niven. Larry is one of the Award judges, and so well known as an author to require no further introduction. Then came Art Dula, the Heinlein Prize Trustee and successor literary executor. Art’s beautiful wife, Tamea, could not arrive in time for dinner, so we had seated Lt. Col. Sam Kramer, resplendent in his mess blues, whose devoted efforts at selling all the dinner tickets at our table merited his inclusion at the head table, next to Art.
I next introduced Jeanne and Spider Robinson. Spider,
a very well known author, is an Awards judge, but also was the Toastmaster Guest of Honor at Torcon and one special attraction of the dinner was the opportunity to see Spider actually wearing a tuxedo! He looked glorious! Black tie was optional. Dr. Kondo, whose daughter had been called up and is in Afghanistan, could not attend, but had suggested black tie for the head table. It added tremendously to the tone of the affair. Next year be ready. See if it still fits. I suspect there will be even more guests wearing it, or the equivalent, in Boston. What was it they said about Robert Heinlein, ladies and gentlemen, that he’d even dress for dinner in the jungle?
I then introduced my sister, Jane Silver, who was lovely in her formal, and who lost the bet with my wife on who would be my keeper this World Con; and then on to introduce Gay and Joe Haldeman, who like Larry and Pink Niven, need no further introduction to SF readers. Joe is both an Award judge and our Society’s newest director.
Stan and Joyce Schmidt were then introduced. Stan, an editor, critic and well-known writer, is the fourth of the Award judges able to attend.
Finally, I introduced Charles N. Brown. our Society’s founding director, and the lovely Jennifer Hall, Locus Magazine’s new editor, now that Charles is “retired.” Jenni had nicely arranged to have her camera ready during the ceremonies and took some photos of the event and presentation of the awards that we hope to see in Locus’ next issue.
Once all the head table guests were introduced I asked them all to rise and the guests vigorously applauded them.
Heinlein Award Presentation
Spider Robinson began the awards ceremony with Joe Haldeman’s able assistance. Spider and Joe awarded the first Heinlein Award to Virginia Heinlein, posthumously, for her years of devoted work to publish and restore the body of Robert’s works, and her overall encouragement of man’s quest to permanently achieve space flight and colonization.
Eleanor Wood, the Heinlein’s long-time agent, and Dr. Amy Baxter, their adopted granddaughter, jointly accepted the award for Ginny, and Amy gave a beautiful, heart warming speech about Ginny.
Amy Baxter, Mrs. Heinlein’s adopted granddaughter, said, “I think that grandma would have been bemused, and probably would have been shaking her head, and then would have been deeply, personally very appreciative of being the first recipient of this award… She was delighted, she was thrilled that there were so many people who owed their careers, their life decisions, their paths, their ethics, their honor, to the books that he had written. And, too, she was so passionate about carrying on his ideals, his way of being to future generations.
“Several times in the last year, she said to me very seriously, ‘Amy, the Heinlein Society is full of people who are not oddball fans, not people who are not out there because they just are devoted to his works. They really believe, and really understand what he is trying to accomplish philosophically. They are a serious-minded group of individuals who are out to change the world for the better.’ She supported the Heinlein Society deeply.”
Heinlein Award for outstanding published work in hard science fiction or technical writings inspiring the human exploration of space
Next, Larry Niven and Stan Schmidt awarded a second Heinlein Award to author Michael Flynn
for the body of his work, which includes a fine four volume series on advancement into space in the tradition set by Robert Heinlein. This award was given to author Michael Flynn by a panel of judges including many of the leading writers in the field. The judges were Greg Bear, Joe Haldeman, Yoji Kondo, Elizabeth Moon, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Spider Robinson, Stanley Schmidt, Herb Gilliland, and John Hill.
Michael thanked the judges and us for the award, and expressed his pleasure to be at the dinner.
I’m happy to note that Michael was one of the top three authors who we, the Society, suggested to the judges’ panel after their invitation to us to do so given us back in May.
Michael Flynn’s works include: Fallen Angels, Firestar, In the Country of the Blind, The Nanotech Chronicles, Rogue Star, Lodestar, Falling Stars, and The Wreck of the River of Stars.
“The Advisory Board of the Robert Heinlein Award for Outstanding Published Work in hard science fiction or technical writing inspiring the human exploration of space, is proud to present the 2003 Robert A. Heinlein Award to Michael Flynn… for his exceptional body of work.”
We next had an interlude, not originally scheduled, in which Fred Moulton, one of our first Heinlein Society members, on behalf of the Libertarian Futurist Society, awarded Robert Heinlein its 2003 Hall of Fame award for the story “Requiem.” I was honored to accept that award on Robert’s behalf. It is a beautiful plaque which I’ll forward
on to the UC Santa Cruz library to go with the Hugos and Nebula and all the other awards presented to Mr. Heinlein during his lifetime and beyond.
That makes two awards I’ve been honored to accept on behalf of Mr. Heinlein, this one for “Requiem” and the other, the retroactive Hugo for “The Man Who Sold the Moon,” at MilPhilCon in 2001, so you might say I’ve accounted for Mr. Harriman’s awards as well.
We then had the audio visual presentation. We again showed Ginny’s copy of the broadcast of the interview by Walter Cronkite of Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein on the occasion of man’s first small steps in July 1969, the moon landing, to the delight of the crowd.
“This is the most important day since the human race learned to talk.” Robert A. Heinlein on the day man first walked on the moon
There followed, while the disks were being changed and cued up, an interlude in which first Mike Sheffield was introduced and recounted our past year’s blood drive successes and urged all to attend the blood drive scheduled for the next day.
Alan Milner then discussed fund raising and made an appeal to the audience to participate that evening in donating funds to further the Society’s good works.
“Why do we need money? We have plans. In 2007 we are planning a national commemoration of the centennial year of Robert Heinlein’s birth. In the same year we are going coax the US postal service into issuing a commemorative stamp… We want to bring some of Robert’s visions into reality, here and now. Into the daily lives of people… an academic curriculum, a library fund to make sure Robert’s books are in libraries, but most of all what we are looking to do is establish a nation-wide organization of Heinlein Society chapters,” Alan said.
Alan started with a check of his own of $1,000, and introduced Art Dula to speak briefly on the Heinlein Prize Trust which Ginny set up before her death and to which appointed him a trustee.
“The Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust was established by Virginia Heinlein to give an award, a substantial award—the first award will be about half a million dollars—to the individual or individuals who achieve a significant advance in space commercial activities.
“Of course, the Prize Trust also can support other worthy endeavors, such as the Heinlein Society.
“Ginny left me with no doubt as to our marching orders. The purpose of the Trust is to take the money that Robert and Virginia earned during their lifetimes, and to cause the dreams of Robert and Virginia to come true… for their children, namely you, for you are their children.”
Art followed up on Alan’s appeal for funds and promised that the Heinlein Prize Trust would match any funds raised during Torcon by The Heinlein Society. A note: we raised a total of $3,400 during Torcon; and the Prize Trust has matched that amount. The Trust’s offer stands until the end of the year, for the balance of $15,000.00.
Our AV Presentation then concluded with Ginny receiving Robert’s posthumous DSM at NASA, in 1988 shortly after Robert’s death; and with her reading of “This I Believe” on that occasion. Maybe there was a dry eye in the house after that: I wouldn’t know, I got a little distracted for a moment.
“In recognition of his meritorious service to the Nation and mankind in advocating and promoting the exploration of space. Through dozens of superbly written novels and essays and his epoch-making movie Destination Moon, he helped
inspire the Nation to take its first step into space and onto the Moon. Even after his death, his books live on as testimony to a man of purpose and vision, a man dedicated to encouraging others to dream, explore and achieve.”
–Citation accompanying Distinguished Public Service Medal awarded posthumously by National Space and Aeronautics Administration to Robert A. Heinlein, 1988
We ended the dinner with thanks to all who attended and those who could not, but would have attended if they could: Dr. Yoji Kondo, Greg Bear, Elizabeth Moon, and John Hill and Herb Gilliland, the other award judges; and to the late Dr. Charles Sheffield, one of the original judges.