Picofarad #10

August 2007

The People You Don't Know You Know

Milton Friedman's son David is a regular on rec.arts.sf.fandom. I'm not one of those people who sees a famous last name and makes assumptions about relations, so I didn't know about all that until people started posting condolences for the death of his father. And so suddenly I find out that not only did he have a famous father, but he's a well-known economist in his own right.

Well, how was I supposed to know? All he's got in his signature block is a plug for his fantasy novel. (Harald, "a fantasy without magic".) I suppose it might have come up in one of the political threads, but I always kill those straight away.

In a later moment of idleness, I found myself clicking through from a comment he'd made on a blog to his Web site. On one of his SCA pages I saw the name "Cariadoc". Now, there is only one Cariadoc I have ever heard of in the SCA, but it's a big organization and I was only really active in it for a year or so. It couldn't possibly be, but I should just check...

And after a bit of hunting around, there was the full name, and it was. Cariadoc of the Bow! The famous king who challenged himself to a war and lost! The founder of Enchanted Ground! Yikes!

There are times that I think that celebrities should be forced to be clearly labeled at all times.

I just had another one of those moments recently when reading about the early history of the anime studio Gainax. The chairman of this year's Worldcon is a co-founder of Gainax; this much is widely known. What I didn't know until just recently was how Gainax was formed by a bunch of group of enthusiasts who first came together to run Daicon* III, the 1981 Japanese national SF convention. Their first ever production was a short feature advertising the convention.

Here's where the shock of recognition came in. Descriptions of that animation on the Web are vague, but sufficient to jar loose an early convention memory of mine. I've seen that thing! I was wandering around loose in a dealer's room, and there was a crowd gathered around a TV, and on it was this cartoon girl with a glass of water running away from all sorts of giant robots and things, and toward the end there was a dramatic appearance of a spaceship with the name of a convention that I promptly forgot emblazoned on its side.

I never in a million years thought I'd hear the story behind it. And that was the first anime I ever saw. All of which just goes to show that fandom is a small world, but it covers more territory than you think, even if you haven't been paying attention.

(*Footnote: "Daicon" deserves a place of honor in the hall of punny convention names. The Daicons were all held in Osaka, which is written 大阪 in Japanese. The character 大 means "big" and is pronounced oh for words with native Japanese roots, and dai or tai for words derived from Chinese. Thus 大·con is shorthand for "Osaka convention", but also means "the big convention". And, as you Iron Chef fans know, a daikon is a type of radish.)

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