Scan, if you would, The Aboriginal Route on eFanzines, and you'll know about the many wondrous sights Rosy and I enjoyed on our second excursion to Australia. We saw Uluru, a.k.a. Ayers Rock. We saw a dazzling section of the Great Barrier Reef (and Wally, the famous Maori Wrasse). We saw the rainforest from within and above. We saw the Sydney Opera House (again). We saw The WotWots, brave pink and blue explorers into Terran zoology who made their American TV debut this October. Do yourselves a favor and tune in. Don't miss the "Floppy"episode.
We also saw Aussiecon 4, the 2010 World SF Convention -- a damned good time. It was a smallish con but we knew a lot of people and never lacked for camaraderie, and the Fan-Eds' Feast was a royal hoot. (Salutes to Murray Moore for organizing it.) I even enjoyed most of the Hugos. Great to see "Bridesicle" win --the author didn't think he had a chance; his giggling delight at being proven wrong was righteous fun. The tie for Best Novel was most legit -- the two books had the same number of first place votes as well as identical totals at the end of the counting. The Windup Girl was a worthy winner, and from the number of preliminary honors collected by China Mieville, it looks like The City and the City was too. And though I would have preferred District 9 for the dramatic Hugo, Moon was a fine surprise. But.
As this last batch of Hugos proves, both the fanzine and fan writer categories are pretty well corrupted. A professional at the pinnacle of the genre, who has been buying and selling science fiction for decades longer than I've been breathing, won the Best Fan Writer Hugo, an honor that even his acceptor seemed to find . . . odd. Also, for the second year in a row, traditional print fanzines received a royal pronging at the awards. In 2009, an obvious semiprozine was allowed to usurp the trophy. This year a podcast, a radio show, a dramatic presentation, shouldered its way past genuine fanzines. Outrageous. Why does fandom pick on our poor category?
The problem is vague definition. As several have pointed out, the WSFA definition of fanzine is so loose that almost anything can slip in. Fandom doesn't know what a fanzine is anymore, nor does it have any coherent definition of fan writing. Is a fanzine anything a fan distributes for free? Is fan writing done by amateurs, or is it any writing-for-free about the genre, no matter who does it? If we go for the former definition -- which I'd prefer -- how do we differentiate amateur from professional? My suggestion is that fan awards be closed to any writer who has made X number of pro sales or who has been nominated for or won a professional award -- but this idea has met with derision. The dominant feeling seems to be that above all else, beyond all definitions, vox populi should rule. Whatever people want to nominate should end up on the ballot -- wherever they want to put it.
Vox populi certainly ruled this year in the fanzine award -- or at least, dedicated block voting. Buoyed by its partisans, StarShipSofa was an overwhelming victor as Best Fanzine. Putting aside the propriety of its active campaign for the honor, I actually see the podcast entry in a somewhat positive light. It's an attempt to widen the Hugo's reach -- to acknowledge new technologies in fanac. I'm all for that. But not at the expense of our category. Since Julius Schwartz founded the medium, and certainly since a Hugo for Best fanzine was first bestowed, a fanzine has been written (and illustrated). It's meant to be read, not listened to. StarShipSofa is a radio show. A radio show is a dramatic presentation. What's the difference between StarShipSofa and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog? One is fictional, the other not? Why should that make a difference? After all, didn't fandom honor the TV Coverage of Apollo 11 as its best dramatic work back in 1969? (By the way, tangential question -- that award didn't specify which coverage it was hailing, so who took home that Hugo?)
I generally agree with Pat Molloy that throwing chrome at a problem -- simply creating another Hugo category -- doesn't necessarily solve it. But sometimes it's the right solution. Example. Among the things Nolacon II did right was sensibly meet a similar challenge to the established Hugo fabric. In 1988, the big rage in fandom was the great graphic novel Watchmen. Fans a'plenty were fiercely determined to see Alan Moore's classic honored. But how? In what category? People were counting the words in the captions and thought balloons to see if it qualified as a novella or novelette. Nonsense of course. To satisfy vox populi and (n.b.) to avoid violence to the traditional Hugo categories, we created a special listing, Other Forms. It was a success. An Ellison collection, the published script of I, Robot, the Wild Cards series and other non-categorizable (sic) items were nominated along with the Moore comic. Nobody was offended, Watchmen won, and now graphic stories have a Hugo all their own.
During my last Aussiecon panel, where we argued this issue, an Aussie fan suggested creation of a general Fan Achievement Hugo, such as is given at the Auroras and (controversially, it turns out) at the Ditmars. This could mean two things: a Hugo to cover all fan activity, which I doubt anyone would find acceptable, or an additional rocket for non-categorizable (sic again) fanac outside of the established categories ... like a podcast. Either alternative would be preferable to the dump visited at Aussiecon on the written fanzine as a traditional fannish form of expression.
Now, the question you're probably asking: am I so p.o.ed because I thought I would've won without StarShipSofa? Of course not. Although this year, as before, Challenger led in nominations, and hint-hint I love being nominated, my genzine is too idiosyncratic and wanders too far from SF and fandom ever to win. But dammit, Banana Wings might've won. Argentus might've won. Drink Tank might've won. File 770 might've won. They're real fanzines. They represent real, caring, written work by dedicated fanzine editors. They got burned at Aussiecon 4, and that sucks. I look forward to arguing for a change in the rules at the Renovation business meeting. Who do I write to? Or should I send him an audio tape?
I hope every fan-ed out there comments on this issue. I pledge space in the lettercol of the next Challenger for any responses. Loose those voices! Let me hear from you! Or rather, let me read from you!
This TZD is actually dedicated to George Scithers, who passed from our company since our last meeting Special thanks to Ned Brooks for sending me several issues of Amra, with which I hadn't much familiarity. I'm sure no one would feel offense if I say that there are damned few fanzines published these days of like quality.
This issue should have come out before the worldcon, but was delayed by another fanzine-like assignment, the editing of the ReConStruction Program Book for the 2010 NASFiC in Raleigh, North Carolina. Sporting a phenomenal cover by Artist GoH Brad Foster, the book . . . well, my layout was quirky and I botched certain items (doesn't Steve Silver edit Askance?), but the content was good, the art was superb, and I was utterly gassed by the number of regional writers the North Carolina convention lured to its program. If you see the book, check out Catherine Asaro in her new role -- as torch singer! Not content with a Ph.D. in Physics and a Nebula for Best Novel, now she's partnered up with a super-talented young musician for gigs around the country. Looking great in the process, I might add. Phenomenal lady.
I also whipped out a quick Challenger -- #32 -- which I hope all have received. I was moved to bring it together by a viewing of the all-but-complete Metropolis and by the BP oil spill, matters I tried to connect through the metaphor of Revelations' Whore of Babylon (known in New Orleans as the 'Ho of Babylon, Babylon being a noted Mardi Gras krewe). Others' work is fannish and excellent, and the art is phenomenal. Again, LOCs begged for.
NOTE: I prefer receiving printed zines at my p.o. box, but if you must mail to a street address, ours is now 5915 River Road, Shreveport LA 71105. Nice house; Rose-Marie looks wonderful in it. SoI want to see every SF-oriented zine published in English. Want some examples? Here you go.
Alexiad Vol. 9 no. 5 / Joe & Lisa Major, 1409 Christy Avenue, Louisville KY 40204-2040 / firstname.lastname@example.org / $2@ / Highlight of this edition of one of my favorite amateur journals is Joe's essay on H. Beam Piper, a writer I've read only in passing. No reflection on Joe's many fine reviews, Lisa's evocative anecdotes (her paragraph on seeing geese fly overhead is wonderful), Joe's ReConStruction report, actually an account of the Majorses' whole trip to Raleigh and back, or the lettercol, which is one of the best I see. I get a sugar high from Johnny Carruthers' candy reviews, this time Godiva Maple Walnut Truffles . . . do we really want to eat something a pig snorted out of the ground? Also enjoyed here: Rodford Edmiston's piece on Algol and Joe's closing parody of cable TV as seen through the eyes of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Keep'em coming, Joe. Ansible #276-7 / Dave Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berkshire RG1 5AU, U.K. / U.S. Agent: Janice Murray, P.O. Box 75684, Seattle WA 98125-0684 / SAE or google it. / Web news.ansible.co.uk / Summer issues of Dave's inestimably important and amusing newszine, famed for its regular features --obits (including James Hogan, recently, alas), news (the 90th birthdays of Rays Harryhausen and Bradbury) and the marvelous "Thog's Masterclass”, featuring phrases professional SF writers were ill-advised to let escape. ("Fred plowed into Mary like a moose through a windshield." Wow!)
As the Crow Flies 10 / Frank Denton, 14654-8th Ave. S.W., Seattle WA 98166-1953 / email@example.com / trade / This fine perzine -- by a guy I've enjoyed since we shared the SAPS (or was it FAPA?) roster decades ago -- is dated April 7, 2010 -- I wonder if he's published in the last 7 months. The trip on which he publishes notes dates back even further than that, from 2008, snapshots in language from a long trip through the beautiful northwest. (My family did the same in 1964; I long to take Rosy to Glacier National Park.) Frank goes on to detail his adventures in having a new carpet installed -- imagine the books he had to move first -- proffer another trip report, this time to the southwest, and some interesting notes on horseracing, Lisa Major take note!
Banana Wings #42-3 / Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer, 59 Shirley Road, Croydon, Surrey CR0 7ES, U.K. / firstname.lastname@example.org / A delight to meet the editors of this sharp, influential publication at Aussiecon; they might well have won the Hugo without the podcast intrusion, and a deserved honor t'would have been. BW's appeal is obvious. First, it's attractive, with neat, impeccable repro and professional publication. Then, its theme: a clear, unapologetic focus on fandom. As I've said before, you won't find paeans to tennis players and Manson girls here. What will you find? Thoughts on one's dream fanzine, musings on feminism (by Claire) and beer (by Claire) and Nic Farey (by Mark) and wartime fandom (by Mark, always fascinated with zine history) . . . and much else by a superior stable of contributors: Irwin Hirsch (whom I also met at A4), Greg Pickersgill, James Bacon of course, Taral Wayne (again of course), David Redd (on Astounding), Graham Charnock (on Corflu). The lettercol is dense with fannish debate (e.g., professional vs. amateur writing) but entertaining and at times, enlightening. All is imminently readable, a fact that reflects well on the editors who brought the package together. I said above that BW is influential; scan Roman Orszanski/Beverley Hope's Straw and Silk and see how it inspires other fan-eds -- justification enough for its position atop the fanzine pyramid.
Baryon Magazine 116 / Barry R. Hunter, 114 Julia Drive SW, Rome GA 30165 / www.baryon-online.com / free online, $5@ printed / Harriet Klausner's many high-quality book reviews dominate these pages, as usual, but as the editor acknowledges, obits also figure prominently: Frazetta, Al Williamson, Schoenherr, others . . . the world is uglier, or at least duller, than it was. Not on the page, though; Harriet sees an endless universe of fantasy in the library she reviews each issue, and writes well about it.
BCSFAzine #s 443-1 / Felicity Walker, #209-3851 Francis Road, Richmond BC, Canada V7C 1J6 / email@example.com / After the requisite, and always amusing, LOCs from Lloyd Penney and Sheryl Birkhead, this "newsletter"of the British Columbia SF Association moves on to its extensive calendar. (May 5th was -- among other things -- National Hoagie Day. (Was it National Grinder Day on California? National Submarine Day in upstate New York? National Po-boy Day here in Louisiana?) Local SF activities include the successful attempt by local collegiates to put forward the most people ever doing "The Robot"in one place at one time. Things have changed since I was in college. Other material includes Ray Seredin's well-turned Norwescon report and Taral Wayne's reprinted words on Susan Wood, resonant and moving. His piece on "Aging Fandom"in the previous issue dealt with numbered fandom, which I admit I've never understood.
Bento / David Levine & Kate Yule, 1905 SE 43rd Ave., Portland OR 97215 / firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com / What a disappointment to run into David at Aussiecon and not receive another hand-delivered issue of Bento. But we'll forgive him. He gave very cool presentations about his experiences on a faux Mars mission both there and at the Nebula banquet. See File:770.
Brooklyn! No. 68-70 / Fred Argoff, Penthouse L, 1170 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn NY 11230-4060 / $10 in cash per 4 quarterly issues / Highlight of issue #68, photos from a Brooklyn Halloween parade. They have a long way to go to match Mardi Gras, but pretty nifty nonetheless. In #69 he combines the two great passions in his zining life -- the borough where he lives and the vehicle he uses to leave it and return. In this long-running paean to the former -- Brooklyn, you got it -- Fred takes a page from his zine about subways, Watch the Closing Doors, and concentrates on Brooklyn's underground. Anecdotes and history, photos of stained glass, innovative tilework and those long, frightening tunnels . . . all evoke the unforgettable shriek of hydraulics and the electric stench of the third rail. In the latest number, Fred wonders why other fan-eds don't do zines based on their cities, an idea I wish I'd heard when I lived in New Orleans (a zine about Shreveport would be slim indeed). Good articles on the New Lots section of Brooklyn and the sights from the B-67 busline. Fred, did I ever tell you about the girl from Brooklyn who ripped out my heart in 1972? Last heard of studying transcendental meditation in Switzerland.
Cherry Monocle Summer 2010 / Phlox Icona, 1215 Mississippi Ave., Chattanooga TN 37405-3505 / firstname.lastname@example.org / I have no idea if that physical address is where Phlox really lives, but it's where this package hailed from. It contained not only a sweet, slender collection of collage-decorated switchplates from an apartment she's leaving -- lots of kittens and stamps -- but Angie Wang's Tomato, a graphic story of vegetable romance, John Bennett's incomprehensible poetry "Humo Letrado", a couple of "Ancient Egypt Knowledge Cards"from the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and scads of novelties from bathroom vending machines, including a "One Day Marriage License"and an untearable piece of paper ("the greatest SEX GETTER EVER!"). All delightful, but gotta tell you, the Sex Getter doesn't.
Dagon #611 / John Boardman, Unit 508, 5820 Genesis Lane, Frederick MD 21703-5103 / Apa-Q & trade / Last March John fell into a diabetic coma. After his recovery, his family moved him and his lady to Maryland and an assisted living community so they could take care of him. Despite this, and having to surrender the reins to Apa-Q, John's feeling feisty --he retains all of his lefty bravado. The Harry Potter series reflects American racism (Muggle Like Me?). The Navy doesn't let sailors play the Medal of Honor game out of panic. Less extremely, he natters about his deep New York roots and the influence of the Dutch on the ideas behind American independence. Dagon may have moved, but it maintains.
Data Dump #146-50 / Steve Sneyd, 4 Nowell Place, Almondbury HD5 8PB, U.K. / I don't know if I'd like DD as much if it were typed, but I know I wouldn't recognize it. Subject, SF poetry -- have I ever sent Steve Fred Chappell's "Science Fiction Water Letter to Guy Lillian”? Must do so -- but there are zine reviews and lots about SF music. Hawkwind's mention in the latest issue reminds me of the fine SFPAn Sperhauk Ryder. Neat piece about poetic forms and "The 5th Annual Data Dump Awards Long List"for SF poetry published in Britain in '09”in the latest number, too. Okay, I have to use a magnifying glass and occasionally read aloud to scan DD, but it's worth all: the handwriting is headache-provoking but the heart is true.
Endless Rain into a Paper Cup #1 / John Toon, 52A Oxford terrace, Lower Hutt 5010 New Zealand / email@example.com / on eFanzines / First things first -- our hope that John escaped the ravages of the NZ earthquake in early September. Second -- that's a spiffy e-dress! Third -- John's account of acclimating to NZ after moving from Britain, and the mini-travelogue that accompanies it, makes for a fun read. His unstated nervousness at not yet having work is not fun, but it is compelling, and we wish him the best in finding both a job and sufficiently hot chili peppers. Nice writing and nice toons, Toon.
Ethel the Aardvark 146-149 / Nalili Haynes, c/o MSFC, PO Box 212, World Trade Centre, Melbourne VIC 8005 Australia / firstname.lastname@example.org / I received a batch of these issues the day before we left for Aussiecon! Shoulda just set them aside and handed them to me there . . . But apparently there will be no more paper issues to hand out; the new editor announces a switch to .pdf, which will mean full color repro and incidentally, much more economic production. (Do I want to subscribe? Hell yes!) Much of the content in these issues is club business, but there are also reviews and excellent art and short articles. Didn't visit MSFC during A4, unfortunately, but I'm sure their fine library, huge zine collection (housed in an old projection booth -- a Tucker homage, mayhaps?) and friendly spirit live on.
Exhibition Hall 12 / Chris Garcia & James Bacon, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View CA 94043 / eFanzines / Two of the sharpest pencils in the fanzine box share editorship of this zine devoted to Steampunk, which is not only entertaining -- Steampunk musicals! late 19th Century wrestling! -- but informative: I had no idea Steampunk developed out of Dragon*Con! Wonder what the editors think of the WotWots' spaceship. You can always count on enthused and energetic work from Bacon and Garcia . . . hmmph, they sound like a law firm, or a sandwich . . .
Fanzine Fanatique Autumn 2010 / Keith & Rosemary Walker, 6 Vine St., Greaves, Lancaster, LA1 4UF, England / FanzineFanatique@aol.com / trade or exchange, sample issue only for two stamps or two IRCs or $1 / A listing with notes on the many zines Walker receives, mostly British, many non-SF, some familiar, most not. Walker has a winning, personal writing style that supports the impression I'd like to give: that the fanzine community is just that, a group of like-minded, inter-connected, open and tolerant fan-eds. To quote Keith: "makes your heart glad to discover that the paper zine is not dead but surviving all those attempts to tazer gun it out of existence with electronic razzmatazz."
Feline Mewsings #40-1 / R-Laurraine Tutihasi, PO Box 5323, Oracle AZ 85623-5323 / Laurraine@mac.com / $3 per issue, $10 per year / Beautiful snowflake on #40; we don't see such much in Louisiana. Laurraine's FAPAzine has lots of general interest; each has only a page of FAPA-only material. Her life and her zine include house repairs, theatre and movie reviews (many by contributor Amy Harlib), and lots of local color. Love the photo of prairie dogs in her report on Westercon. Jonathan Vos Post's piece on Alicia Boole Stott and tesseracts -- entries in his regular science column -- baffles yet fascinates me. Laurraine prints LOCs in red, I'm reminded of my mother's King James.
File 770:158 / Mike Glyer, 705 Valley View Ave., Monrovia CA 91016 / Mikeglyer@cs.com / Has there been an issue since April? What's up, Mike?
The Fortnightly Fix # 15-16 / Steve Green, email@example.com / eFanzines / In these last two issues of his perzine Steve explains why he didn't attend Eastercon and natters a bit about the flicks he's seen. I too loved the first two adaptations of Stieg Larsson's Girl with/who novels.
Fosfax 216 / Tim Lane, c/o FOSFA, P.O. Box 37281, Louisville KY 40233-7281 / $4 / Here in this massive effort -- its wordcount surpasses almost anything else out there -- you'll find a nifty minimalist cover by Ben Bost and loads of reviews and articles, almost all colored by politics. Recognize that from the outset, and you'll have no problems. Try not to be put off by the right-wing politics in Timmy's epic genzine. He's not a bad fella at all and there is much more to the zine. Furthermore, he has so much fun with his songs and rants they're impossible to resent. Since I'm his constant bête noir, Timmy seems to wonder why my zines are so apolitical these days, and as he deserves an answer, I'll give him one. American politics has gotten so repulsive, manipulative, frightened and cyclical that I find it uninteresting and hard to talk about. This last election, for instance, struck me as simply the right shift of a rather constant and increasingly uninteresting pendulum. For us liberals, it had many bright spots -- Andrew Cuomo's ascendance, Jerry Brown's re-ascendance, even that anti-Palin Republican lady's probable triumph in Alaska. Shows to go you, given enough attention, superior people can win, even in America's current psycho environment. Which is about to become worse. The truly awful thing about the election is that, for two years, we'll have to endure a klatsch of moralistic hypocrites blathering and posturing that their point of view has been proven representative of the Amurrrrrrican people. I deny it. The independent voters who swung right this election did so not because they loathe Obama -- they don't get him, but that's not the hatred GOPers imagine -- but because they're scared. Not of immigrants or abortion or where Barry O was born or even big government and taxes -- but of being unemployed. The economy, as always, was the real issue. The majority of voters in '10 went Republican because they are desperate for security. The Democrats weren't able to reverse the economy's downward plunge in the 20 months they had power. Here's where the political cycle comes in again. Unless the GOP provides jobs, as fast, they'll be subject to the same desperation and impatience that afflicted the Democrats this year -- and their own party two years ago. Actually, and this will surprise Lane: if it was legitimate, I wouldn't mind the Tea Party. I'd much prefer that conservatives talked about taxes than about guns, God and gays. Unlike issues of personal morality, taxes are the government's bizness, and at least the GOP is being consistent with its history in opposing them. Prediction nonetheless: Obama wins in 2012. The Republicans have no one who can stand up to him. But don't underestimate them. They've shown they can scare people. To persevere, Obama has to do what no Democrat seemed willing to do this past season . . . and fight. So -- with the future in mind -- let's hope Andrew Cuomo does what his daddy couldn't do, and grows some fire in his belly. If he succeeds as New York's governor -- a big challenge, considering the wreckage his predecessors leave behind -- and learns to kick ass, Andrew could go places. Oh yes, before I leave Fosfax one plaint: it isn't fair to remember an entertaining and effective conservative like Bill Buckley by citing his on-air explosion against Gore Vidal. Vidal -- whom I respect greatly as a writer (I mean, the screenplay to Suddenly, Last Summer? Messiah? C'mon!), but not at all as a commentator --- pushed Buckley beyond the pale, calling him a "crypto-fascist." Buckley went ballistic, utterly uncharacteristically, and eventually sued Vidal for his name-calling. But later, in a memorable column, Buckley was forced to apply the term himself. To Richard Nixon's White House.
The Insider #280 / Michelle Zellich, 1738 San Martin Dr., Fenton MO 63026 / firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com / $10/year / Halloween issue of one of the most enjoyable zines I see -- or maybe I'm just projecting because I'm so wild about the editor. But this clubpub is simply delightful, a thick, color-packed compendium of comic strips, news items ("Star Wars Fans Ask NASA to Build a Hyperdrive”), obits (I didn't know the Star Gazer cat had died; too bad), a detailed calendar (happy Sandwich Day!), reviews, letters . . . all presented with contagious enthusiasm. Roll, tootsie, roll.
Instant Message #843 / NESFA, P.O. Box 809, Framingham MA 01701-0809 / firstname.lastname@example.org / http://www.nesfa.org / Latest issue of NESFA's monthly newsletter, with minutes of meetings discussing Boskone, NESFA publishing, and the like. Such vital bits of bizness as whether the club's Standing Rule that "all transactions must be entered into peachtree via the graphical user interface"should be repealed are topics of debate. NESFA, the Microsoft of fandom, continues to amaze, but I'm not griping: I just look forward to more volumes of Poul Anderson stories.
Journal of Mind Pollution #35 / Rich Dengrove, 2651 Arlington Dr. #302, Alexandria VA 22306 / RichD22426@aol.com / t.u. / Rich has been a valued member of SFPA and a bhuddy (love those fannishisms) for many years, but damned if I can remember the difference between JOMP and JOMP, Jr., his other genzine. Here's the former, a collection of essays on various intellectual and esoteric artsy-fartsy topics, like professional wrestling (wait a minute), wish dreams (an introspective and interesting piece), old age (don't rub it in; in fact, can't rub it in), and the Washington, D.C. schools (which just fired their superintendent). LOCs from reliable follow. Pleasant creamy look to this issue.
Journey Planet 6-7 / James Bacon, Claire Brialey, Chris Garcia, eds., see Banana Wings / email@example.com / "Some of this issue,"writes co-editor Bacon in issue #6, "does not require immediate email or online response; it requires thoughtfulness and then calm and measured comments."He refers, I'm sure to those articles devoted to Safety, specifically, Safety at SF Cons for Women. Here are several stories from young ladies of being stalked, groped or just made uncomfortable by criminal, pushy or simply socially inept guys at various fan events. They make for immensely sad reading, especially the article from one anonymous author, who hints that since she had asked her attacker into her room, she couldn't complain when he pushed matters further than she wanted. (I just defended a similar schnook -- see "He She Said"in Challenger no. 32 -- and her point is well taken: partially because of the alleged victim's similar actions, I won the case.) Anyway, such blunt, brave writing is rare in fandom, and definitely unpleasant, but it's also extraordinarily valuable and necessary. Of course, there is much more to this substantial zine: a letter column replete with great names, a fascinating section on London (I drool for 2014) and cool pieces on Germany's least heralded WWII warship and tough comic book girls. (Wonder Woman is not among them; one would think that her righteous turn in Kingdom Come would have qualified her anew.) The 7th issue was handed to me at Aussiecon, and is devoted to space, with fine pieces on the British space "programme"and the early efforts of female pilots to join the Mercury team. (Jerrie Cobb was cute In the Day.) Also on hand are pieces on video games, Hamiltonian space opera, "the death of hard SF”, and fine photographic illos. I really love the space-oriented stamps from various nations. Bottom line: JP wins the unofficial and irregular TZD "Zine I Wish I'd Done"award. Is excellent.
The Knarley Knews 136 / Henry Welch, 15290 Upper Ellen Rd., Los Gatos CA 95033 NEW ADDRESS / firstname.lastname@example.org / $1.50 @ / I must say that I am shocked, shocked, by the portrait of feminine robot pulchritude Welch runs on his cover. Knarley, you are an attorney now, and those who enter our sanctified profession must abandon and leave behind interest in such corrupt and vulgar matters. In fact, as a senior if much poorer lawyer, if you have any more drawings of such luscious babes, be they mech or org, I offer -- purely out of the goodness of my unsullied heart -- to serve as repository for such salacious material. Don't thank me; it's the least I can do to save your professional soul. Anyway, this is Knarl's first issue since August '09, a lapse he blames on car and computer troubles and on buying a new house. Fortunately, he's kept his contributors -- Alex Slate on capitalism, Sue Welch on hiking Mt. Baldy, both very diverting, and a long lettercol. Good toons throughout by Gilliland and Sheryl Birkhead.
Lofgeornost #100 / Fred Lerner, 81 Worcester Ave., White River Junction VT 05001 / email@example.com / FAPA and trade / Fred celebrates his centennial issue with a long, rich report on his trip to Turkey (wish he could have come to Australia). He and his wife spent 15 days there, touring the Hagia Sophia and the famous underground cistern and the Topkapi Palace (serenaded by a chanting imam) and other wondrous museums, bazaars and historic sites. Dates such as 1472 and 537 abound as Fred gives the histories of some of the nifty stuff he sees (his excitement at standing at the possible site of a Hittite library is contagious) and the conclusions and lessons he draws from them. I must note the evocative conclusion to this report; Fred doesn't get enough credit for the elegant economy of his writing. Praise for RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire and LOCs from correspondents, familiar and un-, complete the issue.
MarkTime 95-7 / Mark Strickert, PO Box 1051, Orange CA 92856 / firstname.lastname@example.org / $2, trade, LOC / Mark started the first issue more than a year ago, right after his marvelous wedding and enviable Hawaiian honeymoon. Most of the issue is a report from the happy time, which we hope continues unabated. #96 dates from Christmas, a year-summation issue, and #97 deals with a jaunt to Arizona (including Winslow and its famous corner -- where stands a statue of a musician in front of a mural celebrating the Eagles) and touches on Mark's signature interest -- transport (they took the train). The Strickerts should get to Australia; they'd love the Ghan.
Motorway Dreamer no. 7 / John Neilsen Hall, Coachman's Cottage, Marridge Hill, Rmasbury, Wilts., SN8 2HG U.K. / email@example.com / eFanzines / Here's a zine by one of the classic Brit fan-eds -- legion in number -- whom I haven't encountered before. After blunting criticism of his font (comic sans), Hall reviews Corflu, with a gentle emphasis on attendees' aging and some nice photos -- the picture of Claire Brialey prepped me to recognize her at Aussiecon. There's a nice piece by steadfast Robert Lichtman (missed his Trap Door this go-round) on his career publishing books for and at The Farm, the famous Tennessee . . . well, can we call it a commune? The volumes look gorgeous. After some poetry (David Keefe's "Folded Heart"is quite good), John eulogizes Rob Holdstock in a obituary filled with regret. "It's like a picture that's gone missing from your wall,"Hall writes, capping a beautiful remembrance. Fine lettercol -- lots of conversational give-&-take. John runs his witty ripostes in red; again, I think Bible.
My Back Pages #s 1-2 / Rich Lynch, P.O. Box 3120, Gaithersburg MD 20885 / Rich won something like 6 Hugos for editing (with Nicki) Mimosa, but he hasn't been much noted for his fan writing. More the fools we, because these collections -- many trip reports, some reviews and musings (on ball parks, mostly) -- are really entertaining, and Lynch's photos of the Cape of Good Hope, the Sydney Opera House and suchlike are amazing. Best piece here recounts the Lynchi's first Hugo victory, at Magicon, where a voting glitch caused the wrong winner to be announced. Nicki had left, and Rich didn't know what to do in her absence. I was among those leading the chants: "That way, Rich!"to get him to the stage, and "We want Nicki!"to get her out later for her own "Thanks, guys!" One of SF's great moments . . .
The NASFA Shuttle August-October 2010 / Mike Kennedy, c/o North Alabama SF Association, P.O. Box 4857, Huntsville AL 35815-4857 / firstname.lastname@example.org / $1.50@, $10/year / The Shuttle is possibly the most comprehensive clubzine I see, with more awards news (including one named for Emperor Norton, for works "unhindered by the constraints of paltry reason") than any zine, of any kind, anywhere. The editor often contributes detailed but diverting convention reports (sorry he wasn't at worldcon) to accompany club minutes and calendar, fannish news, chapters in a novel by "PieEyedDragon"and, ever faithfully, LOCs from Lloyd Penney and Sheryl Birkhead.
Nice Distinctions 19 / Arthur Hlavaty, 206 Valentine St., Yonkers NY 10704-1814 / Arthur's perzine is published annually, so it's not surprising that this amusing and insightful writer touches on matters that seem historically distant, like the contretemps between the black Hah-vahd professor and the cop sent to investigate a break-in at his house -- who ended up arresting him. Also thoughts on the other John W. Campbell, Jr. award (that for best novel), an Erik Frank Russell biography, Roman Polanski's crime and non-punishment, talents we'll miss (too many of them). Arthur is a sharp, funny writer, a "failed libertarian"with a forever-clever take on the world. Hi, Bernadette!
OASFiS Event Horizon Vol. 23 Nos. 6-7, Issue 275-6 / Juan Sanmiguel, 1421 Pon Pon Court, Orlando FL 32825 / email@example.com / $12/year, includes club membership / The first of these is a "recovery"issue of the Orlando clubzine, consisting of Florida con announcements, a club schedule, the Hugo results and a couple of color photos from A4, the GoHs with Perry Middlemiss and a rare hall costume. The second reveals why Juan needed to recover: he was at worldcon, attending as much of the program as he could (including my aforementioned fanzine panel) and provides a long, detailed account. First OASFiS zines I've seen in many a. As I hope to retire to the area in about 8 or 10 years, I hope to see more.
Opuntia 69.1C, 69.1E, 69.3 69.5, 70 / Dale Speirs, Box 6830, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 2E7 Canada / $3 @ or. / "Whole numbers are sercon, x.1 issues are reviewzines, x.2 issues are indexes, x.3 issues are -apazines, x.5 issues are perzines." Got that? Good -- explain it to me. This whole-numbered issue tells the tale of Thaddeus Lowe, a pioneer balloonist taken prisoner by the rebels in the early days of the Civil War. Alas, he didn't use a balloon to escape (a la Mysterious Island), but a method even more inflated with hot air: he showed them his newspaper clippings! Articles on rare earths, Samuel Johnson (a poem about an imagined future and how it fits in with SF history), and a sneaky plug for Dale's own book on mail bombs. Canada's most prolific fan-ed really spreads it around. In these issues are articles on Sherlockiana, FAPA, Canada's economy ("We Learn Nothing From History Or The Americans"), hollow Earth fiction, mail art, handwriting (an extensive and most interesting article) -- jeezum! Speirs is an excellent writer and, obviously, a polymath of many interests. But that numbering system, I must protest, is utterly insane.
Pablo Lennis 274 / John Thiel, 30 N. 19th St., Lafayette IN 47904 / $2@ / I wonder who "Pablo Lennis"was . . . John's zine of amateur fiction and poetry has been around for decades. If I had two words to whisper to him, they would be "layout"and "margins”, because it's tough in places to differentiate one work from another -- the lines literally run into one another! But some of the work is pretty good, the line art is both weird and cool, and the spirit rocks. Special cheers to "Hazil the Witch"for her "Auguries"column and for the editor for his touching line "One of the most difficult things in life, I think, is the achieving of meaningful contact with other people." As we see often, c.f. Straw & Silk as quoted below, that's what fanzining is all about
Paranoid 22 / Ian Maule, 14 Salcombe Road, Ashford, Middlesex, TW15 3BS United Kingdom / firstname.lastname@example.org / on e-Fanzines / Maule's first zine since 1983 begins with "A Potted History", where he explains and details the gap. Herein he writes with easy grace about curry, telephone salesmen (an instructive symposium on how to be rid of such pestiferousness), Rome, buses (envy those Brit double-deckers) and so on. The mass of this entertaining zine is, as can be expected, nostalgic, with many reprints of and from the golden seventies in British fandom. The photo of a fan dinner from those mystical times is priceless.
The Reluctant Famulus 75-7 / Tom Sadler, 305 Gill Branch Rd., Owenton, KY 40359 / email@example.com / TRF is an excellent zine I nervily regard as one of Challenger's siblings, even though it's been around quite a bit longer. But like Chall it is mostly paper-borne and mail-distributed, which is one reason I suspect it doesn't get the attention and respect it merits. Here are three fine and consistent issues, with enthused and able contributors, attractive layout and excellent cover art. I'll have detail in my next TZD (see below).
Sense of Wonder Stories 4 / Rich Coad, 2132 Berkeley Dr., Santa Rosa CA 95401 / firstname.lastname@example.org / I've come to a conclusion: what makes a fanzine genuinely distinctive is how well it establishes and maintains its focus. Alexiad has a consistent focus, as does Banana Wings, as does Sense of Wonder Stories, attractive in terms of appearance and strong in its sercon orientation. Proof of these qualities in the 4th issue, the impeccable color reproductions accompanying Bruce Townley's piece on Frank R. Paul and the magazine covers reprinted in articles on Barrington Bayley and Pauline Ashwell, little-known but able SFers (credit the editor and Roy Kettle with the articles, respectively). The zine has flair and the writing is fine. For variety, Randy Byers chimes in with an argument tying Harlan Ellison with Madame Blavatsky, and Ned Brooks discusses his wind tunnel job -- revealing more in a few pages than he's done in 45 years in SFPA! Bottom line: handsome, readable, ever-improving.
SF Commentary 80 / Bruce Gillespie, 5 Howard Street, Greensborough VIC 3088, Australia / on eFanzines; hardcopy by arrangement / There are many subtitled to this awesome publication: Part One of its 40th anniversary celebration, a Philip K. Dick special, a Bob Tucker special.. Bruce begins by noting that more than 40 years has passed since he began SFC, which means he started fanzining the same year I did -- only with far better zines! Recalling 1969 and his opening forays, he notes his friends of the era, Stephen Campbell and Damien Broderick, and follows with guests editorials by each. Broderick's reprinted piece is a long article on the NewWave, touching on Bester, Frank Herbert, Ballard, Disch, Delany . . . and Philip K. Dick. Evoking the joy he felt when receiving a letter from the author -- I felt the same when he wrote me, when I was a teen -- Bruce and Lenny Bailes (a founder of Southern fandom) discuss his Scanner Darkly, recently PKD's most popular novel. A Potlatch panel on Dick is transcribed and several other articles follow; obviously, Dick's work not only provokes more movies than any other SFer, but an ongoing debate. Shifting writers, Bob Tucker is brought to the fore through a piece by John Hertz and a long critical piece by Harry Buerkett, inspiring a new appreciation of Bob, not merely as a super-popular SF fan but as a serious writer. "Pinlighters", a far-reaching lettercol, includes LOCs sent years ago by "departed friends." We see that word a lot in this epic publication. SFC sees science fiction as literature and as a community of like souls; Bruce's awesome zine reflects an awesome fannish career. I rejoice that it and its brilliant cover artist won Ditmars in 2010, and only hope Hugo voters discover it.
Son of Grafan No. 43 / Michael McFadden, 5251 DeSoto Pkwy., Sarasota FL 34234-3077 / email@example.com / Here's a return to actifanac (is that really a word?) by a onetime St. Louis fan, now retired and moved to the Sunshine State (see you there in 10 years). While acknowledging the primacy of blogs and websites in today's fandom, McFadden opines that "Fandom is an accommodating umbrella"and offers this physical zine to the field. Its contents: a review of Archon (centering on the con's hotel troubles), an essay on cards -- the greeting and sympathy kind ("I think it sucks that you can't find a funny bereavement card”) -- and a funny piece on the horrors of living in the Sunshine State. Michael's style is appealing, his production is good, and his art -- bravely composed on the master, in ink -- is very good. (I might try to tap him for Challenger illos.) Nice work; welcome back to the monkey house.
Straw & Silk Issue One / Roman Orszanski, P.O. Box 3231 Rundle Mall, Adelaide SA 5000 Australia (firstname.lastname@example.org) & Beverley Hope, 199 Lower Plenty Road, Rosanna VIC 3084 Australia (email@example.com) / Roman was our gracious host in Adelaide in September, introducing us to a cool city which we'll see for real the next time we dip downunder. Here's a nifty artistic journal inspired, say the editors, by Banana Wings and, in Bev's case, encounters with fan editors at the Montreal worldcon. Bev is blessed with a particularly cheery writing style that really scores when she talks about her love for fantasy (summed up in one word, "enchantment”) and provides the most telling paean to written fanzines I've read in years. She's letting me reprint it: see below. There's a nice photo section, Roman critiques Torchwood, which I'm afraid left us cold, and the ever-present, ever-able James Bacon provides a piece called "Synchroconnectivity"which underscores Bev's point about reaching other lives -- through fandom and otherwise. In the words of E.M. Forster, "only connect”; that could be this fine premiere offering's coda.
Vanamonde nos. 833-852 / John Hertz, 236 S. Coronado St. No. 409, L.A. CA 90057 / Apa-L & Trade / John was a boon companion at Aussiecon -- where he served as DUFF delegate -- and his zine is ever welcome here, a single sheet rich with erudition and personality. These date between May and September, 2009, and range in subject from the author of Black Like Me through Ray Bradbury's 89th birthday -- his 90th was nationally hailed -- to Anticipation and the Pournelles' anniversary celebration. I anxiously await John's DUFF report of A4.
Voice of the Echidna / Several, including Alison Scott and Flick / echidna@aussiecon4/org.au / Handsome conzine hand-delivered at A4. Lots of details, lots of award news -- remember, they did Ditmars as well as Hugos and Chesleys -- even if they had next to no parties to report on. Good job all 'round.
Film recommendation: Never Let Me Go -- I suspect that this deep and literate alternate history is the saddest film I've seen since The Sweet Hereafter. Posit an England where cloning has been possible since the early fifties. Children are bred as organ donors, educated in isolation to docilely accept their fate -- to go through three to four "donations"before they . . . "complete". Imagine, then that some still dream of falling in love, and being "deferred,"allowed to live a human life. Finally, picture how it is when, full of hope, they ask, and hear the answer they're going to hear. It's hard even to write about, and almost unbearable to watch. Perhaps it was defensive on her part, but la belle found Never Let Me Go impossible to accept. Surely clones capable of producing art to show they have souls and of asking for life could defy their upbringing and demand life. These people don't. Their rebellion stops with their first frustration. Could simple human contrariness be so completely erased from their spirits? Whatever, the movie remains important, its questions irresolvable, its impact deep and lasting.
I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW I'M SORRY I'M SORRY . . .
I'm cutting this issue short, while I have umpteen inches of paper fanzines and God knows how many pixels on eFanzines left to review. Earl, Chris, Peter, I grovel, I apologize, I pledge to return to that stack and those pixels and produce another issue before the year is out.
Reason for this inexcusable lapse in productivity is simple time pressure: I have the rest of my trip report and an apazine to finish before month's end, SFPA's egoboo scores to tote (I'm Official Editor), and minor matters like work to distract me. If I don't cut this issue now, it won't get finished till January. If then . . .
Please forgive and believe me. I'm not neglecting your zine. I will be back, and before 2011.