"Rotsler's religion is the joy of life"
- Robert Silverberg

"...a genius and a remarkably gifted talent dealing in evocative symbolism"
- Robert Bloch

"To say Bill Rotsler is a remarkable man is a sad bottom-line indeed; inadequate"
- Harlan Ellison

"...amazing and a great talent"
- Stan Freberg

Our LOSCON Program Book AD - Featuring SF Books Distributed By DPS and Futures-Past Editions By LASFS Members

Check this out: the lovely Digital Parchment Services/Futures-Past Editions ad we will be running in the LOSCON Program Book ... featuring many SF books by current and past LASFS members ... like William Rotsler!

Tim Powers On William Rotsler!

We are very pleased to be able to bring you this wonderful interview with the celebrated author Tim Powers ... featuring some touching reminiscences about his experiences with William Rotsler:

Tim Powers is the author of numerous novels, including Last Call, Declare, Three Days to Never, and On Stranger Tides, the inspiration for the blockbuster film Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, starring Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz. 

Tim Powers has won the World Fantasy Award twice for his critically acclaimed novels Last Call and Declare.
1.  How did you first meet William Rotsler?

It was at a Westercon in San Francisco in 1971, when I was nineteen. I had gone there with the rare book dealer Roy Squires, and he introduced me to Rotsler and Paul Turner, and they asked me if I'd be interested in working for them when we were all back home in the L.A. area. The work sounded informal and irregular and paid in cash, so I said sure. I was of course already aware of Rotsler's drawings in fanzines.

2. What was your first impression of Bill?

He seemed big and confident and worldly and humorous -- the sort of guy you're flattered (especially if you're nineteen) will pay attention to you.

3. Can you share some fun anecdotes about Bill?  We know that he was (ahem) quite the character....

I remember one time we went to a Mexican bar to hire guys to dress up as Arabs and be extras in "The Street of a Thousand Pleasures" - the offer was five bucks a day and the opportunity to see naked women dance, and there were lots of takers. On the way back to the van, while we were crossing a bridge over a culvert, Bill felt a hand lifting his wallet out of his back pocket; Bill spun around and rolled the guy right over the rail. I don't know how the would-be pickpocket fared, but Bill kept his wallet. I was enormously impressed.

4.  Our mutual great friend, Paul Turner, and fantastic pal to Bill Rotsler, asked us to ask you about Bill's (ahem) 'adult' film Street Of A Thousand Pleasures ...?

I carried equipment around and helped build lots of sets for it - cutting walls and turrets out of plywood and painting them with a mix of paint and sand - but I wasn't there when they were filming. I think that was out of consideration for my impressionable youth. But I got to spend a number of nights at their house up on Ridpath in Laurel Canyon, and I vividly remember swimming in the pool, and hanging out with Norman Spinrad and George Clayton Johnson, and drinking beer and eating spaghetti with chili while Cat Stevens' "Tea For the Tillerman" played on the stereo.

5.  Can you please share with us some thoughts about Bill's amazing creativity?  His work as an author, cartoonist, photographer, filmmaker, etc?

Well, the guy was the complete artist, in every form I can think of except maybe needlepoint. Actually, I think he'd have been more successful if his skills had been limited to one or two areas! But they were all things he was very good at, and he wanted to play with them all.

6.  Last, but not least, could you share with us how William Rotsler affected your life ... personally as well as professionally?

He, along with Philip K. Dick, impressed me with the chaotic life of a freelancer - stretches of wonderful idle time interspersed with periods of intense work, and how you have to be able to fully enjoy both. Financial reverses pass, and recur, and pass again. Roll with the punches and don't give up.

Read 5 Time Hugo Winner William Rotsler's Patron Of The Arts ($2.99 - Free on Amazon Unlimited) and The Far Frontier ($2.99)

Out Now: The NEW Edition Of William Rotsler's PATRON OF THE ARTS!

Digital Parchment Services (distributed by Futures-PastEditions), through it's Strange Particle Press science fiction imprint, and the estate of William Charles Rotsler is extremely pleased to announce the publication of a brand new edition of William Rotsler's Nebula and Hugo finalist novel, Patron Of The Arts. 

This new edition features never before seen content – including a forward by the Nebula winning Dr. Gregory Benford.  The enhanced ebook version is available now – and a premier trade paperback edition will be coming out in January, 2015.

Coming soon, also from the author's estate and Digital Parchment Services, will be William Rotsler's To The Land Of The Electric Angel, Far Frontier, a collection of his short stories, and a book of interviews by and about William Rotsler.

"Patron of the Arts gives us a future where art is a major driver in the culture. He envisions new technologies that deepen our arts and alter how we see our world. Rotsler at the top of his form." –Gregory Benford

Brian Thorne was a billionaire. There were only two things he cared about: women and art. And because he could afford it, he paid the world's finest artist to combine the two, to make a work of art of the unforgettable, incomparable Madelon in the new and extraordinary artform: the sensatron. Then Madelon and the artist disappeared – through the sensatron. And all the money in the world could not help Brian Thorne. To solve the secret of the sensatron, he was strictly on his own...

That is how Brian Thorne, billionaire, found himself helpless—caught in a magnificent crystal creation that grew on Mars, and without any resources even if he could get away from the killers who trapped him there. For although they knew he was Brian Thorne, he couldn't prove it. To find Madelon and the sensatron, he had gone to considerable trouble to cover his tracks. Now he wished he had not been so thorough in turning his back on the luxury-lined and very well-guarded life he lived back on Earth. Now, when it was too late!

"A fine novel!" –Harlan Ellison

Special introductory price $2.99 in Kindle at Amazon (free for Kindle Unlimited.)

ISBN: 9781615085828



By William Rotsler

William ("Bill" to his friends and fellow fans) Rotsler was a science fiction author, whose novelette, later expanded as a novel, Patron of the Arts, was a finalist for both the Hugo and Nebula awards. The following is part 1 of a letter Rostler wrote in response to The Best of Trek 10, a paperback from New American Library/Signet, reprinting material of interest from the legendary fanzine Trek. The letter was then printed in The Best of Trek 13

In part it is a response to complementary, but occasionally erroneous pieces about Rotsler's own Star Trek books written for Wanderer, a young readers imprint of Simon & Schuster publishing. Rotsler had followed Star Trek from the beginning, and approached the work both as a fan and a professional science fiction writer. (Check this blog for part 2 of this fascinating missive, "More than You may Have Ever Wanted to Know about My Writing Star Trek Books.")

I was thumbing through The Best of Trek #10 when I discovered—to my surprise—not one but three references to my book Star Trek II Biographies. I thought you might be interested in reading a few words on these books, and on the references to them.

  First of all, the very fact anyone knows about the book is astonishing to me. I've gone up to dealers at conventions (but not Star Trek cons) who are selling tables of nothing but Trek material and they've never heard of the book. This is not to beef up my royalties, for I get none—it and the six other Star Trek books were all "buy-outs" as they say in the trade. But that book, over the other six, I thought would be of more than ordinary interest to Trekkies. I've done about three dozen books for Wanderer Books, which is a division of Simon & Shuster, just like Pocket Books. This includes the first six of the "new" Tom Swift series (with Sharman DiVono, who wrote the Star Trek comic strip for a while), also movie novelizations and originals based on franchised characters. Some of them, including two Star Trek books, were interactive (kinda), or "plot-your-own-adventure" books, as the publisher calls them.

The distribution on these books is terrible. In checking over one hundred book stores in Seattle, San Francisco, New York, Baltimore, San Diego, Chicago, and Los Angeles, I saw a few of the Tom Swifts, but only one or two copies of two or three books.

Anyway, me doing the books was a big surprise to [my then publisher] Pocket Books, who thought they had a lock. But they do novels, which left me plot-your-own (2), real-little-kiddy-books (2), short stories (2), and the biographies (1). This all was my editor's idea, not mine. So there you have one correction, as one of your writers had me doing novels.

The other correction comes on Uhura's name. I read The Best of Trek backward, and so did not come to Nicky Jill Nicholson's "The Naming Game" until I had seen several references to "Penda" Uhura. I totally agree with Nicky's uncompromising statement ... but perhaps for different reasons.

My editor, Wendy Barish, wanted me to do the biographies of the Starfleet characters and I liked that idea, but I simply did not want to rehash old material. I wanted to give the fans something new . . . and I didn't want to bore myself doing it. So I conceived the "dossier" format. This included full name, serial number, birth place, dates, commendations, etc.

Another thing you must understand is that Star Trek is licensed individually; that is, the series is licensed separately from each film, each of which is licensed individually, etc. Theoretically, since this book was Star Trek II, I could only use material in the second movie. Obviously, you couldn't do the bios on that film alone, so everyone simply paid no attention, tactfully, and firmly.

This format, then, required the addition of first names, family, serial numbers, and so on where they had not previously been noted. I used (1) my own memory; (2) Bjo Trimble's Star Trek Concordance; (3) Bjo's memory; (4) other obvious sources. I did not read any but the one Star Trek novel I had already read—there were simply too many; I had neither time nor inclination. I was, after all, licensed, ordered, and restricted to Star Trek II (sorta). So if it wasn't in the series, the two movies, the Concordance, or behind-the-scenes-"well-established"-fact, I ignored it.

Example: I had made up a whole history for Sulu, but Pocket Books (who had bowed to the inevitable and the "resident Trekkie" read it and approved) said that Vonda McIntyre had given Sulu a history, so I used that. My whole idea was to use all reasonable sources, to make it fit in. I used some starship names from another book.

Example: Spock had never had a serial number, so I gave him WR39-733-906, which had been assigned to me some years before by the U.S. Army. McCoy got my phone number as of that date. Kirk graduated from my high school and had my sister's birthday. Chekov had my father's. McCoy had my daughter's, and he was married on the day I was married and divorced on the day I was writing it. Scott was born on my other sister's birthday; Uhura was born on my ex-wife's birthday, which is the same as our daughter's.

Example: Ships, characters, officers are named after fans and friends. (You gotta name 'em sumpin'!)

Example: Naming Uhura was the most fun. I looked through one of those twenty-six-language dictionaries (which never seem to have the word you want) and found Nyota under "star." I got Nichelle Nichols's phone number from Bjo—I'd never met Miss Nichols—and called her, told her who I was and what I doing. She was very nice, very polite. I was careful to say I had picked a name for her character—not her—and had checked it with Gene Roddenberry.

"That's nice," she said.

"It's Nyota," I said.

"Oh, that's nice," she says, still polite.

"It means 'star' in Swahili," I said.

"Oh, wowww!" she exclaimed.

You see, I took this attitude: I was writing the official biographies. What I said goes. So "Nyota" is "official," not Penda, not anything else. (And Nichelle liked it.) I admit this is a cavalier attitude, but it was my book, so there.

I larded the book with friends, friends' books, puns, and insults (visible only to friends.).

I think the most fun of all was doing the bibliography. Once I had conceived of the format of drawing from reports, letters, official files, etc., it was an obvious step to books. If the Enterprise crew had saved the Earth that many times, it seems perfectly natural to assume there would be books (or what passed for books, rather, what will pass for books then), documentaries, etc. So I jotted down a few obvious titles, quit work, and went in to watch TV. Somewhere in the evening I thought of a title—just popped into my head—Klingon Cuisine. About one in the morning or so, my usual beddy-bye time, I stopped by my typewriter to make a note of it ... and another title occurred to me.

Next thing I knew it was 4:55 A.m. and I had written five thousand words of bibliography. I used the name of every single writer who had worked on the series; I had used most of the membership list of the Los Angeles Fantasy Society (almost always changing first names or using a first and using the street they lived on). For example, Kalisher Pelz became the author of Klingon Cuisine because Bruce Pelz lives on Kalisher Street. I used the "real" names of historians and others, mentioned in the Star Trek mythos. I switched names—Jim
Bearcloud and George Barr live together, so they became the co-authors of Art of the Stars, James Barr and George Bearcloud. There is not one author who is not based on an "authorized" Star Trek character or mixed'n'matched names of friends. Randy Lofficier becomes Randall; Lola Johnson, wife of George Clayton Johnson who we often refer to as Lola Clayton, became L. Clayton Johnson, etc.

For years I have been using the name of Gregg Calkins, ex-WW II marine sergeant, devoted SF fan,
and friend—and each time I bumped him a grade. In Biographies he is a fleet admiral. I can't get you much higher, buddy . . . except promotion to civilian.

And so on.

This was the most fun to do of the Trek books, but later they asked me to cut twenty-five hundred words, so I took it all out of the bibliography and didn't try to balance things out; so probably I lost some of the original series writers.


A Message About William Rotsler From the Eaton Collection

If you don't know about the Eaton Collection at the University of California, Riverside then you should: it's "the largest publicly accessible collection of science fiction, fantasy, horror and utopian and dystopian literature in the world."  

And the Eric Milenkiewicz of the Eaton Collection just sent along a very touching letter about William Rotsler's contribution to science fiction fandom. 

Digital Parchment Services and the estate of William Rotsler are working very hard to remind people of his amazing contributions to science fiction fandom, and this letter is a call for others to help with an academic contribution.  If you are interested, please contact The Eaton Collection.

William “Bill” Rotsler 

WILLIAM “Bill” Rotsler spent a lifetime immersed in the world of science fiction moving seamlessly from fan to published author to celebrated artist. In the more than fifteen years since his death the name Rotsler still resonates within the science fiction community and a quick review of his contributions to the genre reveals why his legacy has endured thus far. Author of four published novels as well as the novelette Patron of the Arts, which was nominated for Nebula and Hugo awards (1972-1973), publisher of numerous fanzines including Masque and Kteic Magazine, and longtime cameraman for film historian and critic Bill Warren are all items on Rotsler’s résumé. Yet, perhaps his greatest contribution to science fiction came as a cartoonist and fan artist for which Rotsler won four Hugo Awards (1975, 1979, 1996, and 1997) in the Best Fan Artist category. 
Surprisingly, there has been very little scholarly interest in Rotsler’s work following his death despite the notoriety that he had achieved in life. Albeit one of the more fascinating archival collections in the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy at the University of California, Riverside, the William Rotsler papers are also one of the most underutilized. This collection contains everything from original artwork and unpublished manuscripts to fanzines and sketchbooks. Manuscript drafts for unpublished works like A Pot of Pourii and early mock-ups of fanzines such as that for the Tattooed Dragon Strikes Again are included. Yet, it is Rotsler’s artwork that truly highlights this collection. His sketchbooks and meticulously mounted, captioned, and dated cartoons represent a variety of themes from alien profiles, landscapes, and spaceships to robotics, weapons, and the cosmos. These drawings document some of the major themes that were both influential and popular in science fiction during the mid-late twentieth century offering scholars a unique glimpse into the fan perspective. Rotsler’s cartoons also extend well beyond the boundaries of science fiction to include life, love, and interpersonal relationships, opening additional avenues for future scholarly research.
William “Bill” Rotsler’s legacy as it relates to science fiction will continue to be discussed and shaped by time. Hopefully his literary and artistic output, which will be preserved as a vital component of the Eaton Collection of Science Fiction & Fantasy, will lend a voice to this conversation as it is discovered and studied by future generations of science fiction scholars. 

Eric Milenkiewicz
Rivera Library
University of California, Riverside

Read 5 Time Hugo Winner William Rotsler's Patron Of The Arts ($2.99 - Free on Amazon Unlimited) and The Far Frontier ($2.99)