the Avram Davidson electronic newsletter

Vol. XVII No. 1

8 May 2017

ISSN 1089-764X

Published irregularly by whim and fancy for the Avram Davidson Society.
Contents copyright 2017 The Nutmeg Point District Mail and assigned
to individual contributors. All rights reserved.

Henry Wessells, Editor.
Cooper Wessells, Honorary Secretary.

All correspondence to:
Post Office Box 43072, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043-0072

Use this electronym for requests to be added to or dropped from the
mailing list. Back issues are archived at the Avram Davidson Website,

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In Memoriam: Grania Davis

It is with great sadness that The Nutmeg Point District Mail records the death of Grania Davis on 28 April. Your correspondent must acknowledge her generous encouragement of his initial researches into the writings of Avram Davidson. Grania's introductions to other writers and editors were a concrete demonstration of the great esteem for Avram Davidson among writers in the fields of science fiction and fantasy. Grania opened her address book and so the first issue of the District Mail reached a who's who of the field.

Grania Eve Kaiman was born 27 July 1943 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was raised in Hollywood, California. She was married to Avram Davidson in a traditional Jewish ceremony in the home of Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm in Milford, Pennsylvania. Their son Ethan was born in November 1962. They lived briefly in New York City and Milford before moving to Amecameca, Mexico, in the spring of 1963. Avram described the town: "a narrow-gauge steam railroad whistles its way through burro-iferous streets which may, conceivably, have been paved during the Juarez Administration or the reign of Maximilian which interrupted it; and over choo-choo train, donkeys, muddy lanes, sixteenth-century church, serape'd
Indios and all, broods the great blue bulk of Popocatepetl." During this time (long before overnight delivery services), Avram was editor of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
In her essay "Water from a Deep Well", Eileen Gunn wrote, "In the spring of 1964, Avram and Grania reluctantly concluded that their marriage was not a compatible one. In the early summer, Grania moved to Oakland in the San Francisco Bay area, where she and Avram each had many friends, primarily writers and readers of science fiction. Avram followed a few months later with Ethan. He found a place nearby in Berkeley, and he and Grania remained friends, sharing childcare responsibilities, and later collaborating on stories and novels." Grania had begun a correspondence with Philip K. Dick while in Mexico -- he wrote great letters to her and Avram (most of these were sold in 2008 and are now in a private collection), and she became involved with him for a time.
Grania married Stephen L. Davis, M.D., Ph.D., and they had a son, Seth. Steve was a California native and an old-style radical. They lived in San Rafael for many years but Steve's medical practice took them regularly to Hawaii and included sojourns in a Tibetan refugee settlement in India and in the Antipodes. Steve Davis died in 2011.
Grania Davis is survived by her two sons, Ethan and Seth.

At the time of Avram Davidson's death, only two of his books were in print from Owlswick Press. Grania proved a tireless champion of his work. I first met Grania in person when she came to New York to meet with editors to discuss a collection of Avram Davidson stories, eventually published by Tor as The Avram Davidson Treasury (1998). Grania soon enlisted me to assist in what became an Avram Davidson revival. During trips to the Bay area, I would visit her, sometimes in San Rafael and occasionally at Japanese restaurants in San Francisco. Four further collections of Davidson's stories and the last Vergil Magus novel were published from 1999 to 2005, all co-edited by Grania. In June 2005, Texas A & M University acquired the Avram Davidson Archive from the Estate of Avram Davidson through a gift/sale agreement, thus ensuring a permanent home for Davidson's manuscript materials and extensive correspondence. The Archive complemented a substantial catalogued collection of material from the early phase of Davidson's career already held in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection. Deals were struck for the publication of the Davidson backlist as print on demand books, e-bookes, and audio books.
In recent years, Grania organized a collection of her own short stories, Tree of Life, Book of Death (2013), and edited a volume of collaborations between Avram and Ethan Davidson. She regularly attended science fiction conventions: I remember running into her in a corridor at the World Fantasy Convention in San José. We last saw each other in person during LonCon 3 (2014).
The Nutmeg Point District Mail and the Avram Davidson Society salute a friend of many years. [HWW]

Books by Grania Davis:
Dr Grass (New York: Avon Books, 1978).
The Great Perpendicular Path (New York: Avon Books, 1980).
The Rainbow Annals (New York: Avon Books, 1980).
Moonbird (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1986).
Tree of Life, Book of Death. The Treasures of Grania Davis (Surinam Turtle Press. Ramble House, 2013).

Collaborations with Avram Davidson:
Marco Polo and the Sleeping Beauty (New York: Baen Books, 1987).
The Boss in the Wall: A Treatise on the House Devil (San Francisco, California: Tachyon Publications, 1998).

As editor:
Avram Davidson. The Avram Davidson Treasury: A Tribute Collection (New York: Tor, 1998). Edited with Robert Silverberg.
Avram Davidson. The Investigations of Avram Davidson (New York: St Martin's Press, 1999). Edited with Richard Lupoff.
Avram Davidson. Everybody Has Somebody in Heaven: Essential Jewish Tales of the Spirit (Jerusalem, Israel: Devora Publishing, 2000). Edited with Jack Dann.
Avram Davidson. The Other Nineteenth Century: A Story Collection (New York: Tor, 2002). Edited with Henry Wessells.
Avram Davidson. ¬°Limekiller! (Baltimore, Maryland: Old Earth Books, 2003). Edited with Henry Wessells.
Avram Davidson. The Ennead: The Romaunt of Vergil Magus: The Scarlet Fig; Or, Slowly Through a Land of Stone (London: The Rose Press, 2005). Edited with Henry Wessells
Speculative Japan: Outstanding Tales of Japanese Science Fiction and Fantasy (Tokyo: Kurodahan Press, 2007). Edited with Gene Van Troyer.
Avram Davidson and Ethan Davidson. David & Son. Peregrine Parentus and Other Tales (Surinam Turtle Press. Ramble House, 2016).

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Spanish Translation of The Slovo Stove

In December 2014, María Pilar San Roman translated the great late Davidson tale, The Slovo Stove (1985), into Spanish for her science fiction blog, Cuentos para Algernon, where she also also published translations of Gene Wolfe's Death of the Island Doctor and many other tales.

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To the Northern Stronghold of the Faintly Mesopotamian Svans

Charlotte Mendelson, writing about a recent trip to Georgia in the FT for 6 May 2017, takes readers of Avram Davidson straight into familiar terrain:
Russian-speaking companions suggested taking a minuscule plane to Svaneti, the barely accessible northern stronghold of the faintly Mesopotamian Svans, where winters last eight months and the wheel arrived in 1935.
    I know.
    Imagine the Alps, untrammelled. At every window, beneath colossal snowy peaks, meltwater surges down intensely wooded ravines, landslides spew shale, pigs roam dung-caked streets, all overlooked by stone defensive towers, dozens of them, built over a millennium ago.
    And one of them was ours. Generations of the Margiani family, our hosts, have tended it; Keti, their beautiful brainy daughter, said: "I used to read on the roof. Want to see?"
    How could I refuse? We'd already eaten the yoghurt "from our cow" milked twice daily by Keti's mother when not working for the border police and tending her five children and making cheese, bread, cake. We had toured Keti's extraordinary family museum: the blackly medieval-looking wooden room in which her extended family and livestock lived, slept, prayed for centuries, then preserved for centuries more.
    Svaneti is littered with ancient family buildings guarded from blizzards, communists and orthodoxy, such as the tiny glorious chapel, frescoed with warrior-saints, restored by a master artist whose forebears were its keyholders for a thousand years. Georgians are used to terror. Ceaselessly invaded, by Assyrians, Byzantines, Persians, Mongols and Russians, wanton destruction doesn't worry them. So I couldn't balk at standing on a wobbly 25-metre-high roof or, later, wading through a jauntily diagonal pine forest, then snow, then: "Those," someone said, "are bear-prints. Five toes. Claws."

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Publications of the Avram Davidson Society

In print:
The Wailing of the Gaulish Dead, an Adventure in Unhistory
With a Preface by Eileen Gunn.
Published by The Nutmeg Point District Mail for the Avram Davidson Society, 8 May 2013.
Edition of 200 copies, perfect bound in heavy card covers, french flaps.
6 x 9 inches, viii + 40 pp. Inserted errata leaf.
Payment by cheque or money order in U.S. funds, or by credit card or paypal.
Price : $25.00 (postage : $3.00 in U.S. ; elsewhere $10.00) ; £20 postpaid in U.K. (cash only). Trade discount available.

Michael Swanwick on The Wailing of the Gaulish Dead:
"a voyage through the mind of a brilliant autodidact, a man who engaged in
esoteric research not for profit or academic survival but simply for the fun of
it. Those who can enjoy such company on a journey with no obvious direction or
destination know who they are. [. . .] I witnessed a reader reach the end of
this essay and burst into delighted laughter."

The following titles are out of print:
The Beasts of the Elysian Fields by Conrad Amber (2001)
El Vilvoy de las Islas (2000)
The Last Wizard with A Letter of Explanation (1999)

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In May 2018, The Nutmeg Point District Mail will publish a selection of the letters of Avram Davidson.
Details of the forthcoming publication will be announced in January 2018.

In the interim, your correspondent invites all persons with letters from Davidson to send scans or photocopies of the letters to him at the following address:

Henry Wessells
Temporary Culture
P.O. Box 43072
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
wessells [at] panix [dot] com

N.B. I will be conferring with Eileen Gunn in the selection of the Letters, so if you have sent copies to her previously, you need not duplicate your efforts. [HWW]

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