November 27, 2015

KaCSFFS Logo History

KaCSFFS: Lost Imagery & Hidden Mysteries
by Ken Keller
The official KaCSFFS logo was adopted by the very first KaCSFFS Advisory Board and was often referred to by club members of that early era as "the KaCSFFS bulls-eye." Along with a 12-foot sectional non-cloth banner I handcrafted, it debuted at the third KaCSFFS meeting on August 21,1971, held downtown at the main branch of the Kansas City Public Library. 

This emblem was used on the original club letterhead and mailing envelopes, displayed on a wall with the KaCSFFS banner at all club meetings and early Honors Banquet sites, and used in our early con program books. (Oddly, it never appeared in X-Ray Delta One, the original club newsletter, due to constant space limitations, no matter how often I tried to squeeze it in while preparing the camera-ready paste-ups.) 

But as KaCSFFS slowly established itself, and Advisory Board administrations changed in those early years, a more casual, less structured nature to club meetings emerged as the norm, and this emblem just stopped being used. It was eventually replaced by the more fannish "Kassie the KaCSFFS Cow" logo designs until being readopted in the 1990s. But the story of its creation and what the "bulls-eye" emblem actually symbolizes was never recorded, "its origin and purpose still a total mystery." (last spoken dialog, 2001: A Space Odyssey)
This is the original logo.

Very early on in the club's history, I began to give thought to an KaCSFFS emblem of some sort. All established fan groups in SF fandom had adopted one at some point, so it seemed like the natural thing for us to have one, too. 

At the time, there were two common but distinct types in use: humorous and cartoony (usually a cute SF or Fantasy creature or figure, done very much in the style and format of military aircraft nose-art) or an old-fashioned medieval style coat-of-arms (used by the long-established First Fandom, LASFS, and NESFA, to name several). 

Neither style really appealed to me at the time, largely because these approaches had been done to death in fandom by 1971. I wanted something a little more innovative for the new KaCSFFS, and the Advisory Board agreed with me. While researching the subject, I noticed that the simple but striking graphic corporate-style logos had never been adopted by the older SF clubs. (Only the young Minnesota Science Fiction Society, MINN-STF, had what was easily identifiable as a corporate-style emblem.) 

Perhaps organized fandom considered these logos just too mundane or unfannish, but this approach held great appeal for me: it spoke of reliability, longevity, and stability, even a certain level of professionalism. In other words, just the thing for an upstart KC fan group! At least these were the ideals that I hoped the fledgling KaCSFFS, if it survived, could eventually grow into after it had established a regional convention, incorporated itself, and begun to function along traditional fannish lines.

How Was our Logo Developed? 
As I studied these logos, I began to wonder if these sleek corporate icons had any meanings attached to them, or were they just cold, empty symbols designed to momentarily distract and intrigue the eye? Well, a KaCSFFS emblem would certainly not be of this type, just the opposite in fact. Ours would be crammed full of symbolic import and cryptic hidden meanings. Or so I hoped, perhaps a bit naively, as I began to pursue that lofty goal. Surprisingly, it would prove easier to achieve than I could imagine, thanks to someone who wasn't even a KaCSFFS member.

That first official club emblem was the product of a collaboration, of sorts, between myself and Dave Skrzelowski, a friend and Hallmark industrial designer that I worked with in the company's Store Display department. After I had assembled my written notes and a bunch of rough sketches, I turned over the whole batch to Dave, hoping that he could translate it all into something remotely like what I had in mind. He read my notes, looked at my sketches, asked a couple of questions, and flashed his always confident grin when I asked if he could make any sense of it. In a relatively short time, much to my surprise, he had the logo finished. When he first showed it to me, painted in-scale to match the large KaCSFFS banner I had just completed, I was stunned by the sheer simplicity of his elegant super-graphic design. It was all there! He had managed to incorporate every single symbolic element that I requested, all without them being easily found. Perfect!

Reaction to the new emblem at the third KaCSFFS meeting was mostly ambivalent, even after I announced, during my chairman's report, that its design contained hidden mysteries, needing deciphering. Only a few were intrigued by the new club logo. I was, of course, a bit disappointed, but in time it was finally accepted as part of the fabric of the early Kansas City Science Fiction & Fantasy Society, eventually fading away into our fannish history (but resurrected again during the 1990s), its mysteries never revealed. Until now.

What does it mean?
First, the outer circle of the design represents international SF fandom as a whole, of which KaCSFFS would always be a part as long as it existed. The inner circle, at its center, the heart of the design, represents the club as it sits at the near geographic center of the country, and as a result, the geographic heart of US fandom.

Second, both circles form a rising sun, a summer sun, just as it clears the morning horizon line formed by the club's initials underneath. (Note the shimmering effect of the graduated parallel lines.) It announces the ascendancy of a new summer day, the day of July 3, 1971, the day that gave birth to the Kansas City Science Fiction & Fantasy Society and marked our own ascendancy into science fiction and fantasy fandom.

Encrypted within the KaCSFFS emblem is that all-important date of July 3, 1971. Dave Skrzelowski steadfastly refused to give me the slightest clue on how to decode it, just flashing me that wry grin of his, this time with a devilish glint in his eye. But he assured me it was there. I still believe him after all these years. As the logo's creator, it was the one thing he put there strictly for himself to know and enjoy. I understood that impulse completely (read on).

Despite many attempts, some tantalizing close I felt, having long since lost contact with Dave many years ago, to this very day a fannish Rosetta Stone has yet to surface to give a solid clue on how to decipher that founding date. (No, this isn't a bar code, which wasn't invented in 1971.)
This is the version we currently use.

On the whole, not too shabby for a simple club emblem.

But there is still one final hidden meaning, a third and more complex mystery to be revealed that was deliberately buried in the logo by me just for fun, as a personal touchstone, as an homage to one of my single most important science fictional influences. It's now time to reveal all. Here are the background details to speed you toward the denouement:

When you place the KaCSFFS emblem together with the club's original newsletter of that era, X-Ray Delta One, and the club's original publishing imprint, Japetus Publications, they form a symbolic trinity, a 2001 Trinity! (2001: A Space Odyssey, both film and novel, is invested with many trinities, many mysteries, and much high symbolism.) "X-Ray Delta One" is the name, in international signal code, of the experimental Discovery One (XD-1) spacecraft, used to hail the ship's crew in both the film and novel. Japetus is the ancient name for a moon of Saturn (used only in the novel, instead of film's Jupiter) that the mysterious and omnipresent alien monolith, in a stationary orbit, can be seen against as the Discovery One enters Saturn space. It looks not unlike an unblinking eye to astronaut Bowman in the novel. If by now you've begun to see a human eye represented in the club logo, you are correct. It is the iris and pupil of astronaut David Bowman, used in extreme cinematic close-up, as he plunges headlong through the corridors of inter-dimensional time and space.

The final mystery contained in the KaCSFFS emblem is now revealed for all to see, forming yet another symbolic trinity. A bit of KC fannish history is now preserved, my narrative concluded after all this time.

Could There be More?
But wait! Crack KaCSFFSoligists, under the direction of David Sooby, Fan. D., may have finally deciphered the club's founding date, long hidden within the logo by designer Dave Skrzelowski. The final mystery of the KaCSFFS emblem may yet be revealed. What strange portal will be unlocked when the final key is turned? Stay tuned.

IMAGES: Both logos are from our club archives.

November 23, 2015

Get an early start for the January SF&F Literati!

Do you have your copy yet?
Plan now for the January Meeting (1/25/2016)
The Book: If Then
Publisher: Watkins Media
Available from: Fine booksellers, including Barnes & Noble

 “The alternating viewpoints set in a modern town and during World War I will have you itching to know what’s really going on.”
– Kirkus Reviews

“I can’t recommend this book more highly. It’s slipstream fiction for polymaths. If Then flips off expectations of genre and leaves me feeling like I’m riding its shockwave into the future of literature.”
– Boldly Read

IMAGE: Many thanks to Matthew DeAbaitua’s Facebook page, for the cover image. Many thanks to Amazon for the short review excerpts.

November 21, 2015

SF&F Literati

Date: November 23, 2015-7:00 p.m.
Title: Windswept
Author: Adam Rakunas
Publisher: Watkins Media
Available from: Fine booksellers, including Barnes & Noble
Meeting Location: Barnes & Noble #2352, 2nd Floor
11323 W 95th Street, Overland Park, KS

Overview from Barnes & Noble:
Labor organizer Padma Mehta is on the edge of space and the edge of burnout. All she wants is to buy out a little rum distillery and retire, but she's supposed to recruit 500 people to the Union before she can. She's only thirty-three short. So when a small-time con artist tells her about forty people ready to tumble down the space elevator to break free from her old bosses, she checks it out — against her better judgment. It turns out, of course, it was all lies.

As Padma should know by now, there are no easy shortcuts on her planet. And suddenly retirement seems farther away than ever: she's just stumbled into a secret corporate mission to stop a plant disease that could wipe out all the industrial sugarcane in Occupied Space. If she ever wants to have another drink of her favorite rum, she's going to have to fight her way through the city's warehouses, sewage plants, and up the elevator itself to stop this new plague.

Didn't read it? Come anyway! The conversation is always good. 

November 18, 2015

Annual Thanksgiving Feast set for November 21

WhatKaCSFFS Thanksgiving Meeting
3607 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, MO 64111
When: Saturday, November 21, 2015
5:30 Board of Directors—open meeting
6:00 Doors open for setup and pre-meeting socializing.
6:30 Let the feasting begin!
Setting up tables and finding spots to sit.
Fandom meets Tradition
Over the decades the potluck KaCSFFS Thanksgiving Meeting has become one of the best-attended meetings of the year. (What can we say? SF fen love to eat!).
We all contribute to the meal.
Bring a salad, side, or dessert (there's a sign-up message on the KaCSFFS Google Group), and beverage of your choice. KaCSFFS provides turkey, as well as tableware, plates, cups, napkins, etc.
Let the feasting begin!
IMAGES: Many thanks to Ty Gephardt and Jan Gephardt for the photos from previous KaCSFFS Thanksgiving Meetings.