Conducted by Lt. Luna

Heading by Jennie Breeden

 

I hates wabbits – I mean, rabbits!

Boy, but things have been going hot and heavy since last time, pee-lots. And the rabbits have been getting organized. I mean it, organized!

It’s our own fault, I suppose, for landing on a planet that called itself ‘Thumper’ in the first place. But we always pick up a lot of cargo there, so we’d taken berth in their main port city, LaDona’s Landing, and after we’d been there a couple days in comes the President of the whole planet her own self, a lady named Erin Crutchfield, to tell us about the constitution. It seems rabbits have the vote on Thumper and ours had gotten together while we weren’t looking and held a special election. They’d elected one of their own, a bunny named Oswald to be the ship’s new captain. They must have been planning this the whole last run, because Oswald had a master’s certificate and everything. I noticed his scores on the exam were higher than the Old Man’s, too.

You can imagine the Old Man’s reaction. Apoplexy doesn’t begin to describe it. Earthquake comes closer.

To make a long story short, we just got off that planet by a hare’s breadth. And we can’t ever go back there, no matter how much cargo there is waiting for us because of all the warrants out on us for mutiny, theft of starship, mental cruelty to our cotton-tailed friends and so on.

If you take a gander at that fabulous Jennie Breeden drawing at the top of the lettercol, you might notice I look a little grayer than I did last time.

And Slops still hasn’t found his recipe for rabbit stew.

On top of that, the Old Man has another one of his ideas.

I’m sitting in the first officer’s station on the bridge and the hatch swings open and in sticks the Old Man’s head, and the mouth starts working. Before I can stop it, out comes a sentence. “Luna,” the Captain says, “We’re getting rid of the columns in Vibrating Ether.”

I jump out of my chair and yell, “But Captain, where will we put all those words?”

“I know, I know,” he says. “But I like a ship-shape ship, and the other features don’t have columns, so Vibrating Ether can’t neither. Make do with no columns, Luna.” And he slams the door.

I’m so frustrated I just stand there shaking. We’ve been taking special care of all your letters. They’re piled up in a corner and Rocket-breath has dedicated himself to guarding them. I know he’s on duty right now, too, because I can hear his snores even through the bulkhead.

The crew and I confer and we round-up the Captain and pound on him— I mean pound out a compromise. He’s letting us have one column. That’s right. In case you haven’t noticed it, there’s just one column in this column, not two like there was last time. If you don’t believe me just do some counting. And I hope all that math doesn’t confuse anybody. At least not any more than it did me.

This issue is dedicated to Forrest J Ackerman, the world’s number one science fiction fan, editor of Famous Monsters, Spaceman, and the American edition of the fabulous Perry Rhodan series of paperback magazines. Naturally we all knuckled down and worked hard on it, mostly coming up with some of the most gawd-awful puns you’ll ever read. And you almost didn’t get the chance to because there was one of them so funny we almost crashed into a passing asteroid. But you’ll have to read the issue and find it yourself. Watch out for passing asteroids.

When Forry was doing Famous Monsters, he used to run photos of his readers with the tag “Wanted: More Readers Like …” and the name of the young whippersnapper. Those whippersnappers were people like George Lucas and Stephen King.

Well, we have readers and we think they’re even more photogenic than the readers of Famous Monster, so part of our celebration of Forry is to run pictures of some of our readers here and there in the letter column. A lovelier bunch of readers you’ll not find between here and M33. And, of course, we want more of them!

Let’s start things rolling with a letter from an author, Donald Sullivan:

Dear Lt. Luna,

PS #7 was super from cover to cover. Loved everything in the issue. Here's my take on it.

Seeds by Gerald W Page. I thought this was very well written. The prose was somewhat poetic and a bit flowery, but not overly so. Great sensory input; the reader can feel his surroundings. Also great imagery; the scenes are shown vividly. All in all, a pleasant read.

Manned Voyages by Gerald W Page. A nice little nostalgic trip back in time and space to visit with old friends like Eric John Stark, Buck Rogers, and others. Yes, we can now find a world of info on the planets to tell us of all the wonders they keep discovering out there. But oh for the days of authors like Burroughs and Brackett, who told of the REAL wonders out there.

The Upgrade Anomaly by Carleton Grindle. Good SF adventure with a sprinkling of humor. An enjoyable read, and it sure was appropriate for the winning photo. I envy writers who can take a photo and use it to plot out a good story. (Speaking of upgrades, I have an upgrade dog who thinks she's human--and really, she's more human than some people.)

Until The Suns Set by Bob Bolin. This was a really good tale with an old story line, but with a brand new SF twist. The reader is gripped and then held in suspense until the last few paragraphs. Enjoyed reading this good pulp-like sci-fi.

Unsteady State by Mary Ann van Hartesveldt. To paraphrase Pogo, "We have seen the big bang and it is us." The thought occurred to me that if the Big Bang was initiated by tourists in starships, then where did all those ships originate? Time travel paradox? But paradoxes notwithstanding, this was a most enjoyable story. Even with paradoxes withstanding, it was enjoyable.

Armadillos 'n Tigers 'n Bears, Oh My! by Jerry Page. Justice prevails again, in the person of Armadillo, reincarnation of The Shadow, Fearless Fosdick, Batman, Inspector Clouseau, and The Lone Ranger all rolled into one.

I always love nostalgic articles about science fiction/fantasy, and Flashy Features gave us three good ones. I enjoyed reading the articles, and learned a couple of things, too. I never knew of a connection between Ray Bradbury and Leigh Brackett (Brackett's "The Hounds of Skaith" was one of the first stories I read that hooked me on sci-fi/fantasy.) Also didn't know of Sheena being in the pulps. I remember her from comics only.

Just wondering. Wasn't Nyoka also in the pulps before the comics?

Also liked the art. Illos by Paul McCall, Kevin Duncan, and Michael Mott all were super. Logan Price also had a couple of nice ones, especially the one posed by the very attractive Mary Ann van Hartesveldt.

And if I'm not breaking the rules, I'd like to plug my personal website, Sullivan's Short Stories at http://www.webspawner.com/users/dsullivan .

Many thanx,

Sully

Thanks for another great letter Sully!

Let me point out that Logan Price wasn’t the only illustrator to use Mary Ann as a model in that issue. If you whip over to Wonderlust and check out Leo Tifton’s story “The Dancing Girl of Isphatam,” you’ll discover a gorgeous drawing by Mark Fults that features Mary Ann as inspiration. And in the Pulp Portfolio (Flashy Feature # 3) that’s her posing as Sheena in Kevin Duncan’s drawing. She’s a writer, she’s a model, she’s a world class belly dancer (just ask some of the guys around here), a gourmet cook, a grower of prize-winning roses, and I’ve seen her swordfight a time or two – just for sport, mind you! In short, our Mary Ann is a real Renaissance Woman.

I asked Jerry Page about Sheena (he’s the one we always ask about pulps around here), and he told me she started out as a comic book character in the late 30s, created by Will (“The Spirit”) Eisner and S.M. Iger. She was the most successful comic book character published by Fiction House (whose pulp magazines included Planet Stories, Jungle Stories, and Two Complete Science Adventure Books). In 1951 they tried a pulp magazine called Stories of Sheena, Queen of the Jungle, with three novelettes about her by James Anson Buck. (That was probably a house name and who the real writer was we don’t know, though Page says he believes it was Wilbur S. Peacock. If anyone has any actual data, let us know.) Stories of Sheena only lasted a single issue, but in the final issue of Jungle Stories in 1954, they ran a Sheena novelette by Joe Musgrave. It was actually pretty good.

Sheena has been portrayed on television by Irish McCalla and Gina Lee Nowlan, in movies by Tanya Roberts, and in Planetary Stories’ pulp hero portfolio by Mary Ann van Hartesveldt. We took a poll of the guys around here and the only two portrayals that count are Irish McCalla and Mary Ann van Hartesveldt.

Nyoka the Jungle Girl was a comic book published by Fawcett but the character never made it into a pulp. Her history is a bit trickier than Sheena’s.

In 1940 Republic Studios made a 12 part serial called “Jungle Girl” with Frances Gifford as Nyoka. It was supposedly based on the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Actually, all Republic owned the rights to was the title, “Edgar Rice Burroughs’ ‘Jungle Girl,’” and nothing else in the film came from Burroughs. For you youngsters, up until the mid nineteen fifties movie houses that catered to kids on the weekends, ran serials. These were movies usually in either 12 or 15 parts, each part running about 15 minutes. One chapter would be played each week and it would usually end with a cliffhanger to draw the kiddies back next Saturday.

“Jungle Girl” was a success so Republic decided to do a sequel. Frances Gifford, who was perfect in the role, was unavailable for the sequel, so in 1942 “Perils of Nyoka” starred Kay Aldrich. Fawcett did a comic book adaptation of the movie, and it was successful also. So in 1945 they gave Nyoka her own comic book. They continued to publish it until 1953 when they got out of the comic book business, but a couple of other companies have featured the character in short-lived comics since.

--I was about to say, Nyoka was never a pulp series and, since the comic was based on the second movie, it has nothing to do with Edgar Rice Burroughs, either, not even in name.

Here’s a letter from another of our favorite correspondents,Rebecca Brayman:

Dear Lt. Luna,

PS7 is the best yet! I enjoyed this issue for several reasons. I think above all the art work was fantastic. Although the cover was not one of my favorites I did enjoy Paul's illustrations of "The Thralls of the Endless McGuirk." (Maybe I didn't like the colorized version.) I can't decide which of the Wm Michael Mott illustrations for "The Waywalkers." that I liked best. And Peggy Ranson's drawings in "Armadillos and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!" were classic, especially the one of Army shooting the machine guns.

I enjoyed the fresh talent of Mary Ann van Hartesveldt. Hope you publish more of her stories. I think my favorite read though was "Armadillos and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!"

"He yanked the Tommy guns from their pockets in his cloak and filled the sky above that urban canyon with lead." This even struck a note with me, the western reader that I am. (Besides I'm married to Frank Brayman, right?) And yes, a shotgun is better than a flute any day.

My only complaint was the font used for "Manned Voyages." While it looked very neat; I found it so hard to read I did not finish.

Rebecca “Tommygun” Brayman

Glad you liked the artwork. Our artists are the best in the Solar System. Glad you like Tommy guns, also; although I prefer a good, old fashioned do-nut gun such as Captain Future used to carry. Something about all those different colored photonic rings just sets my girlish heart to thumping.

Does Frank still teach that anger management class at the local firing range?

Rebecca sent us a later letter from which we take the following paragraphs:

Dear Luna,

I was on an escalator in Switzerland one time. I sneezed and the man behind me said "Gesundheit!" I used one of the few German words I know and said "danka". He immediately assumed I knew German and started talking to me. In English, I said "I'm sorry, I don't speak German," but he kept on talking to me in German anyway. Didn't seem perturbed at all. I smiled and nodded and turned back around. He kept talking.

There is country song that plays on the radio a lot right now that at the very end the singer adds the words "turnip greens". That's it, just "turnip greens". The song has not been anything about turnip greens, but that's how he ends it. Explain that one!

Rebecca

Isn’t “Danka” German for coffee?

As for the “turnip greens,” we don’t explain country songs. We do know the lyrics to “Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” though.

It seems the Captain just won’t leave well-enough – er, as you were, Pee-lots. That should read, the Captain’s always on the lookout for ways to improve this old scow, and he recently sent this ethergram out to the Faithful:

We need your help. I've been using what is referred to as Duotone for a lot of illos -- that's where I use the 'pulp' color as background, making it look more like the illos were 'printed on pulp' in keeping with our effort to bring back the feel of the pulps.

(If you aren't recognizing what I'm referring to, go to issue 7 and check out “Thralls of the Endless McGuirk,” and you'll see; the header illo is in Duotone; the rest are not.)

Well, the upshot is that he wanted to know how the readers felt about that and whether or not we should continue the process. A few of the more interesting responses follow, and the first is from no less a star in the fannish firmament than Arnie Katz:

Dear Cap:

I think the art in Planetary Stories has been extraordinarily good, probably the best of its type seen in fanzines today.

I looked and looked at the two approaches and, honestly, can't quite decide between them. I like that "fake printed" look a lot, but I also think the illos are very atmospheric even without that visual enhancement.

Sorry to be so long-winded on something so simple, but I really do like that aspects of the zine. I think, on balance, I vote for the UNRETOUCHED ILLOS.

Faanishly,

Arnie

Joyce Katz comments:

Hi, Cap,

I hope this finds you well and happy....

I wasn't absolutely sure I understood what you were talking about, but I went to your site (actually, several times) and looked over the specific page you referred me to. I think the illustrations that are imposed onto the yellowish, pulpish background are enormously more appealing than the ones that are reproduced on white (looking much like a traditional fanzine illustration.) The ones superimposed onto the yellowish background seem more intrinsic to the publication -- like they really Belong There, while the white ones are just illustrations....interesting to see, but very separate from the article.

Or that's how I see it.

Joyce Katz

From a reader named David,

Dear Luna,

Just to be really awkward I can see the benefits of both ways of doing it.

I think, when it comes down to it, it really depends on the content and definition of each illustration.

Also if you do use the duotone technique, it would be better to reproduce the texture you use as the background for the website. So that you get a total blending, instead of the effect on the “Thralls” page.

The Captain asked for some clarification, and David sent these additional remarks in:

Sorry, I am good at confusing others!

I think that the background on the Thralls header would look better if it blended completely with the background of your website.

You could either do that by incorporating the websites background graphic into the picture, or by making the illustration transparent. Making the background transparent might be the better way to go. You can do this by saving the image as a .png or .gif instead of a .jpg.

Hope that helps

Just my two cents...

David

Yes, David. But to us your two cents is worth a fortune.

Next we hear from Steve Upham.

Hi,

Yes, I like the Duotones on the images! Looks good. Keep up the fantastic work!

Steve

And then we hear from Curt Phillips.

Dear Lt. Luna,

This has been a very big week here at the clubhouse of the Planetary League, Outpost #1. The biggest news of course, was your letter informing me that I'd been selected as the winner of last issue's letter-of-comment contest! Mom always used to tell me that she had hoped to have a great writer in the family, but that she got me instead. Now when my prize arrives I can show her that she's gotten her wish after all. You wrote that I should pick out any illustration in the issue and looking around I see - in a section labeled "Contest", a cover for an issue of CAPTAIN FUTURE. I'll take that. Don't bother to rip the rest of the magazine off the cover before you send it, as I see that the G. Peyton Wertenbaker Memorial Pulp Library of the Planetary League, Outpost #1 currently lacks that particular issue.

Of course, I'm aware that my good friend Jerry Page frequently comes over to your editorial offices and hangs around for hours and hours eating all the cookies in the snack room, drawing extra spaceships on all the covers for your upcoming issues, and following all your female illustration models around the offices with a can of brass polish. That being the case, I suspect that the CAPTAIN FUTURE illo that I've selected will be found to have mysteriously vanished following one of his visits (and you'll be lucky if one or two of your more attractive models haven't disappeared too. Better count 'em!) so I suppose I'd better pick an alternate. If the illo of the BLAZING Armadillo is available, I'll take that, or failing that, any of Paul McCall's illos would be a very welcome addition to the walls of the PL Outpost #1 Grand Headquarters.

The other big thing that happened here this week was the arrival of Mike Ashley's massive 3-volume HISTORY OF THE SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE. These are magnificent books and I've been looking forward to getting them for quite some time. Vol. 1; "The Time Machines" covers the history of the field up to 1950, Vol. 2; "Transformations" carries on through 1970, and Vol. 3; "Gateways to Forever" covers the next decade up to 1980. PLANETARY STORIES isn't mentioned in any of these books. Perhaps he'll cover you in Vol. 4. Anyway, I can do you and your readers no better favor than to suggest that you all do as I have and buy all three volumes as quickly as you can. They are available from Amazon, but I got mine a little cheaper from Barnes & Noble online. I put off buying these volumes for months and now that I have them I regret every hour of delay. They are absolutely indispensable for the fan and collector of SF magazines with a wealth of bibliographic and anecdotal information in each volume. In fact I have only one complaint about Mike's books; they are just too darned interesting! Whenever I settle down to read I keep running across one reference after another to some magazine story and Mike makes them all sound so interesting that nothing will satisfy me except that I get up right then, go downstairs to the room where I keep my SF magazine collection, find that story and read it right then and there for myself. Then it's back to Mike's book until the next story hook comes along. At this rate it's going to take me about 5 years to finish reading all three histories - but then, it'll be 5 years filled with great reading, so I can't complain all that much.

And of course, the third big thing that happened this week was that I finally opened my mail and read PLANETARY STORIES # 7. You start off with a bang-up cover by Paul McCall and the stories inside lived up to the wrapper's promise. I enjoyed the salute to Ray Bradbury - a writer with such an extraordinary body of work that it's hard to imagine anyone who hasn't read and enjoyed some of it. I think my favorite Bradbury story is a quiet little tale called "The Veldt" where two little kids with a super-computerized playroom imagine up an African veldt that crosses over into real life and results in the father being eaten by lions. Reminds me strongly of my own two little kids, but I'm not sure why. I particularly enjoyed "Manned Voyages" by Page and "Unsteady State" by Van Hartesveldt; and hereby toss a sneer of envious admiration to Jerry Page for "Armadillos and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!". How does the man do it?

And of course, I - like all members of the Planetary League - eagerly await the next issue of PLANETARY STORIES with the first serialized installment of the new novel by Gerald W. Page, "Harry Potter and the Grouchy Armadillo", which I feel confident in predicting will be Page's long anticipated breakthrough work. (I understand that the book rights have already been sold in England under the title, "Harry Potter and the Perfectly Frightful Armadillo".) Till then, Hot jets, and cold Xeno!

Commander Curt of the Planetary League

Also known as Curt Phillips.

Ron Fortier sends the following comments on the June 2007 issue:

Attention Captain,

I've just passed through your orbit and managed to pick up several of current story signals. Most interesting and fun. All though the transmission was garbled (those pesky ultra-violet rays you know) but I did manage to sift through some amazing stuff.

Chief among these was Thralls of the Endless McGuirk which is so bizarre, worlds fail me. Hey, it’s funny too. But just plain weird.

Secondly I'm not a poetry lover, but Page's tribute to Bradbury in Manned Voyages was poignant and extremely well done.

And finally, the one other tale that nailed me was Bob Bolin's Until The Sun Sets. Good, solid sci-fi action with a human touch.

Okay, I'm drifting back into the space-lanes. Until next orbit,

thanks a plenty,

Space Ranger Ron Fortier

On the whole, that’s a pretty good cargo of letters the old Starship PS is carrying this voyage; even the bunnies are gathered round reading. Hmmm. Maybe if we got enough letters, we could lay them out in a trail.

Yeah, the bunnies would stop and read them and then rush to the next one … And if those letters just happened to form a trail to the airlock … Heh, heh, heh.

Oh, yeah. This is Lt. Luna signing off one more time and urging you to send in your letter for the next issue. That’s right. We need those letters. Lots and lots of letters. This ship has a lot of airlocks!

--Lt. Luna

Cartoon 'Weightlessness' by Kevin Duncan

We're packing this old Space Sleigh for the Holidays next time, and if Carrie seems excited about it in the picture above, that's because she's taking on alien invaders in "Carrie and the Space Spiders," one of several poems in the next issue written especially for the holidays. In addition there's a new story of Boofer Crittenberry and his relatives, "Evil Aunt Toody's Old-Fashioned Revival," by Leo Tifton. And what would Evil Aunt Toody be reviving with her copy of the Necronomicon, anyway? Ron Butler brings us a more serious tale originally written for the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company and done in script form, in "A Case of Abuse." This is top drawer writing and top drawer speculation. Also on hand are Doug Kaye and Gerald Page. And a new photo contest story written by Leo Tifton.

We'll also expand "The Pulp Spirit" to include some serious pulp style stories and a feature about pulp fiction called "The Pulp Rack." And what kind of stories will we be featuring in Pulp Spirit? How about Westerns?

And, oh yes. "The Creatures of Azueron Ky" by Carleton Grindle features our old friends van Orst and his crew from "The Captain of the Tempest" back in PS 5. Seems an old enemy has taken revenge on van Orst by turning Beatrice into stone.

And wait until you see both of the covers!

THERE'S MORE!