Posts filed under biography

R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy RIP

I was so sorry to hear of the passing of Leonard Nimoy, a man who made such a great impression on so many of us with his incredible portrayal of the most decidedly human-alien, Mr. Spock.

Image Credit
This is a thumbnail drawing of Mr. Spock I did for the science fiction fanzine CANEKTION, my very first self publishing effort (circa 1970s). Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

Happy Birthday Isaac Asimov

Isaac Asimov by Rowena Morrill

Isaac Asimov
born  Isaak Yudovich Ozimov
(circa January 2, 1920 — April 6, 1992)
painting by Rowena Morrill

[reblogged from   visual laurel:
Happy Birthday Isaac Asimov]

I may be a little late here, but if memory serves, although January 2nd would have been  Isaac Asimov’s birth date of record, it seems to me he told some tale about the actual records being confused due to his family’s emigration from Russia.  Whatever else,  Asimov was always interesting.

Isaac Asimov was a hugely important influence for me.   I loved his books when I first stumbled on “Foundation” in my high school library; Ike took me by the hand and helped me find my way through the worlds of science fiction.

As a reader I loved his bare bones accessible writing style.  Devoid of superfluous descriptive padding, his plots were crisp and he wrote just what he needed to bring the story to life.

The good Dr. Asimov’s exploration of robotics throughout his powerful stories was breathtaking, but his non-fiction was excellent, too, because he was brilliant at explaining things so that anyone could understand.  (I rather think Malcolm Gladwell is like Asimov without the fiction.)

And I have to say, between Asimov’s stories and non-fiction alike, I learned more science from him than I did from any teacher I ever had in school.   My grade nine physics teacher was a dead loss at getting through to me; and I’m certain the only reason I passed was because he didn’t want to have to try again.

Much as I loved science fiction, as a writer, I’ve never dared write in this genre because I’ve always felt I lacked the requisite grounding in science,  and always thought the only SF I’d want to write would be hard science fiction.  (That may change in future.)  When I and my friend, Canadian Trekkies Association co-founder Susan Schmidt, published our very first Star Trek and science fiction Fanzine Canektion in the 1970’s, she tackled the science fiction writing while I handled reviews, art and design.  I actually mailed a copy off to the good doctor, and was gobsmacked to receive a personal thank you note on a postcard (with a wonderful “Very impressive looking” quote).  One of my greatest regrets was losing that postcard at my very first science fiction convention.

I was quite taken with the glimpses of Isaac Asimov the person through the humour in his Hugo Winners introductions.  Yet the only book he wrote that was pretty nearly unreadable was the first volume of his autobiography, “In Memory Yet Green,”   I paid big bucks for the hardcover version, but after the agony of struggling through it, I knew nothing would ever entice me to read it again so I gave it away.  Fortunately he took a better crack at it in later life with “I, Asimov

One of the best things about Asimov’s writing is that he wrote characters who were human beings.  Better yet, it didn’t matter whether they were men, women or robots. The strong and interesting women characters that Asimov wrote — women like Dr. Susan Calvin, Edith Fellowes and Bayta Darell — certainly made a positive impression on me as a young woman.  This was pretty radical for his time, especially when you consider that even today some male authors have difficulty writing plausible female characters.   Asimov wrote women who existed in their own right; they weren’t just tossed in to be a damsel in distress, a femme fatale or love interest. They were real people.  I’ve often been told my own characters live and breathe, and I think this is in no small part due to his example; he showed me how.

I never tire of Asimov’s stories, and I’ve read some over and over again.  Which is why I am saddened by the absence of his work on the shelves of public libraries today.  This state of affairs means most of today’s young people will not have the opportunity to stumble across his books the way I did, simply because they aren’t there.

I expect this probably has as much to do with copyright as much as anything.  Keep his work locked down tight so as to create an artificial scarcity that will drive the retail price up… a strategy I suspect the great man would not himself have approved.   Such market fiddling tends to result in dissipation of a hard won reputation.

The movie version of “I, Robot” was quite a disappointment because the only thing the film makers used of his brilliant book was Asimov’s distinctive title.  All I can say is that I am happy Hollywood has kept its fingers off most of his other works.  “I, Robot” wasn’t a terrible film, Will Smith is always a joy; it did have a reasonable story, nice special effects and all… actually I might even have liked it if they hadn’t squandered Asimov’s iconic title on a story that bore no resemblance to his seminal collection of robot short stories.  And of course the worst thing is that it means that there is now little or no chance of making a proper movie from the book.   It would actually have been best as a series of films (or perhaps a mini series) to do the work justice.  And that is just too bad.

Isaac Asimov touched my life in many positive ways, and he certainly influenced my decision to become a writer.   I just wish I could have thanked him in person.

Image Credit
Isaac Asimov on Throne” by Rowena Morrill –en:Image:AsimovOnThrone.png, uploaded to en:Wikipedia by en:user:Xiong 14:06, 2 April 2005. Via Wikimedia Commons under the:

GNU Free Documentation License Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Front-Cover Texts, no Back-Cover Texts and with Invariant Sections as indicated. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “Text of the GNU Free Documentation License.”

my story, so far

[This is the third and final portion of my pictorial mini-autobiography. The first part is here, and the second part is there.]

During the 1980s, as a Sheridan Media Arts grad, I worked in the budding Canadian film and television industry. At the same time, I was writing “spec scripts” to submit to potential television series. This paid off with my first script sale, and the realization of my dream of writing professionally.

taking a break from television writing; with Gabrielle St. George, Zuzanna Vallis, Peter Mohan and an unidentified extra in the Night Heat holding cell

Taking a break from television writing, with Gabrielle St. George, Zuzanna Vallis, Peter Mohan and an extra in the “Night Heat” holding cell  (1987)

Three Generations  (circa 1992)

Holding my newborn, with my Dad, Lynn Russwurm.

shooting home video

shooting home video  (circa 1990s)

Catching my reflection in a warplane canopy at the Tiger Boys Fly-In

Catching my reflection in a warplane canopy at the Tiger Boys Fly-In  (2012)

During my family hiatus, I worked at developing my photography,  blogging and social networking,  developing digital skills,  learning to hand code websites, restore photographs and create digital art.

Laurel L. Russwurm, self publishing novelist

Laurel L. Russwurm, self publishing novelist, author of “Inconstant Moon”  (2010)

These days I’ve reclaimed my dream, and so I’m writing and self publishing my own novels.   My debut novel, “Inconstant Moon,” is serialized online, and I’m currently at work finishing me second novel, “The Girl In The Blue Flame Cafe.”

I'm reflected in the shiny netbook that's set up on a table on the deck, my harnessed cat nick sits nearby on the railing.

Working on my second novel, “The Girl In The Blue Flame Cafe”  (2012)

college days

[This is the second part of my pictorial mini-autobiography. You’ll find the first installment here, and the final here.]

My creative parents, Lynn and Laura Russwurm, nurtured our creativity, so visual art and music were encouraged and supported. My own creativity and my love of books and movies took me to the Sheridan College Media Arts Program.

Sheridan College Main Entrabce, circa 1982

Although the lines have since blurred, universities were designed to teach people how to think (and prepare them for academia and intellectual pursuits) while colleges existed to teach people how to do. Since I’d already learned critical thinking in high school (thanks, Mr. Ziegel!) and wanted to learn how to make films, I went to Sheridan.

Sheridan College, Media Arts (circa 1981)

Attaching a blue gel to a fresnel movie light, while a student in the 3 year Sheridan College Media Arts program.  (1981)

Using a Nagra to record sound for a student film

Using a Nagra to record sound for a student film ~ Sheridan College, Media Arts  (1982)

Cutting cardboard skyscrapers

Building the Tokyo set for “Godzilla” ~ Sheridan College, Media Arts  (1980)

After graduation I worked in various capacities on a variety of productions in the Toronto film biz including:
Trainee Film Editor • Production Assistant • Production Secretary • Production Manager.

 (circa 1980s)

the early years

[This is the first of a three part pictorial mini-autobiography, you’ll find the next here and the final chapter there.]

According to family legend, my mother Laura Gaede,  an aspiring young country singer, advertised for a back-up band. My father, Lynn Russwurm, answered the ad. His band was the Pine River Troubadors, so my folks became The Pine River Sweethearts.

The Pine River Sweethearts  (circa 1950s)

My parents were country music entertainers, so they both sang and played musical instruments. My Dad also wrote songs, and Mom could draw well enough to have made a living as a professional artist, but music and family were her two main loves.  Dad is still making music.

Lynda, Laurel and Lance  (1960)

I’m about 8 months old in this rare colour snapshot, pictured here with my older sister, Lynda Russwurm Glendenning Pearson, and my older brother, Lance Russwurm.

Standing at the open door of the stove, which holds my birthday cake.

My first birthday.  (1960)

I had fun transforming a black and white photo into this sepia toned and colour tinted image.  The beauty of digital image manipulation is that you work with copies, so if you make a mistake, the original is no worse off than it was when you began.  This is one of my first attempts at photo tinting.

Wearing a bunny snow suit with my mother, out doors in springtime

 (circa 1960)

With my mom, Laura Gaede Russwurm, in the front yard of my childhood home, at 88 Columbia Street in Waterloo.

Probably about four, sitting at my toy piano at Christmas

I was a one finger pianist  (circa 1960s)

An enthusiastic audience, my inclination is to listen to music, not play it.  It’s easier to type a novel with one finger than it is to play a symphony, so it’s a good thing I wanted to be a writer.  All my novels are written to music.

Sitting on the concrete front porch, my three year old sister, Liana lays her head in my lap, our sister 5 year old sister Luane sits beside

Laurel, Liana and Luane  (circa 1960s)

With a few more of my sisters, Liana Russwurm and Luane Russwurm.

Larry and Laurel

with Larry  (1969)

A good deal of my childhood was spent playing with and entertaining younger siblings, like my little brother, Larry Russwurm.  The Marx Brothers had vaudeville, I had a captive audience 🙂

circa 1970s

with Lani  (circa 1970s)

With yet another brother, Lani Russwurm.

Ours was a very creative family.  We all grew up drawing, painting, sculpting and singing… so I come by my creativity though both nature and nuture.