Return of the Inkograph

So, this week, clearing out a drawer, I came upon the Koh-i-noor Inkograph pen with which I wrote nearly every first draft of everything from about 1973 until its rear tip cracked more than a decade later.

Koh-i-noor Inkograph

The Inkograph was modeled upon Koh-i-noor technical pens, but it had a fountain pen tip (not a nib, but a tube for writing)—that is, it looked like a technical pen but wrote like a fountain pen. Back at the University of Iowa, Joe Haldeman and I were both Inkograph fanatics, and we remain fountain pen addicts to this day, who (in what can only be considered an act of male pen-bonding) still whip out our current devices and talk about them, about inks, about notebooks. No, really, we’re fine otherwise.

I retired this Inkograph long ago, but found its husk in a sleeve and thought, “What the hell, let’s fire this baby up!” And, lo, filled with some Noodler’s Bad Blue Heron ink, it writes as though I’d never stopped using it. What I notice now is how light it is compared to most of my other fountain pens. It seems to weigh nothing.

Somewhere around 1976, Koh-i-noor stopped manufacturing the Inkograph, more’s the pity. I still have one, pristine, unopened and unused, in its little carboard tube somewhere. Probably, it’s about time I hauled that pen out, loaded it with something vibrant, and penned a story with it.

Pen fanatics will likely already know that the Inkograph went through various permutations as the Rapidograph technical pen itself did. Some of these turn up at pen shows like the Philadelphia Pen Show, but so far I’ve yet to come across another example of this version (and don’t I wish I’d bought up all of the ones that Lind’s Art Supplies had back in ’76 other than the one I’ve never used…maybe it’s time to find out how it writes.)


The Festivale Interview…

…wherein I send Ayn Rand out the airlock. (C’mon, it’s only the right thing to do)—


ICON 38-The Great Adventure

Just back from ICON 38 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, which proved to be an incredible blast right from the start. The inimitable Jim C. HInes toasted the other attendees, turning us into the con equivalent of The Avengers. Editor Ellen Datlow was so chuffed to be cast as Nick Fury that she wanted her own eye-patch. Also on hand were author Alvaro Zinos-Amaro, who blew me away in reading a great short story that slid the ground right out from under me (and who’s collaborated with no less an icon than Robert Silverberg on When the Blue Shift Comes; longtime friend and workshopping pal Nancy Kress, who belted out a few showtunes (caught on video); even longer-time friend, Bill Johnson, who’s still taller than most Ionic columns; sagacious author Jack Skillingstead, whose Life on the Preservation I’m really looking forward to reading; and Joe and Gay Haldeman, who need no introduction, as they’re icons themselves.

This is the amazing “little convention that could” that kicks ass in the middle of the midwest every fall. Thanks to all the convention people (and other authors hidden in this mix), some of whom were friends before, and others who are now and ever after: Denny Lynch, Mike Miller, Mark Moore, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Catherine Schaff-Stump, Michelle Pendergrass, Steve Tait, Celtic band Wylde Nept, Dana Beatty, and the ever-demented Trans-Iowa Canal Company.  More astonishing still was the silent film “festival” presented by Michael Zahs, containing magic lantern slides and films he has recovered going back as far as 1894, and which included five previously unseen George Méliès films. That was sheer bliss to behold.

I know I’m leaving out more people: the high school students we got to talk to; animator Paul Heunemann and writer Chris East, who came out to the book signing at Barnes & Noble; and whoever I’ve forgotten to name. Thanks for a great time, all.