gostak index SFN INDEX
POST WAR; a letter-zine dedicated to the proposition that SCIENCE FANTASY NEWS receives the wackiest mail in fandom. Editorial comments are enclosed in double brackets (()), and that’s the extent of our liability. In case this drifts form the accompanying SFN, indignant letters should be sent to 16, Wendover Way, Welling, KENT.
From PAUL ENEVER, 9, Churchill Avenue, Hillingdon, MIDDX.
How I envy those indefatigable writers who can sit down and bash out a thousand word eyewitness account at the drop of a hat! I want to give you, in this letter, my impressions of a first visit to the ‘White Horse’, but I fear it will be like an amateur attempt at repairing the grandfather’s clock, enough bits and pieces left over to make another article.
In the first place, whoever named the London Circle was totally lacking in realism. It isn’t a circle at all -- it’s a whirlpool full of madly spinning bodies, and the unwary visitor is in constant danger of being drawn under. In fact, I was several times totally submerged, and this wordy foundering so baffled and bemused me that I have only the oddest memories on which to base an impression.
How did Will Shakespeare who has never, so far as my knowledge of the classics goes, written anything for GALAXY or ASTOUNDING, get into the circle? ((You think he should be bard?)) Yet I remember discussing him at great length with two fervent admirers. Or was I the admirer and they the opponent?
Did I actually bestow largesse on a gentleman claiming to be the Convention Treasurer? Or did I only (cunningly) declare an intention of doing so? Was there indeed a glorious moment when I bestowed a familiar greeting on that eighth Pillar of Wisdom, the venerable Astronaut himself? Or was I merely mouthing at shadows on the wall? You wouldn’t know. All the wonder and glory was lost on you, who merely grovelled though piles of dead cards and composed unheroic and deadly little circular letters. Have you ever felt the intense vibration engendered by near-contact with foursided triangle? Have you ever known the joy of hurling insults at John Christopher in the safety of blanketing uproar?
Have you ever felt the chill of ultimate disillusion when it was pointed out that the impressive gentleman with the saturnine features, whom you fondly supposed to be, at the very least, an EDITOR, was after all, only a yearling fan? Or glowed with joy to hear your name mentioned aloud by a total stranger -- even though the utterance was followed by a sound best expressed as ‘phew’? ((Yes))
Perhaps I wrong you. Possibly you too have passed through such a phase. I only hope your subsequent account was as incoherent as mine. Who was the large man with a duffle coat and a large beard? ((Bert Campbell)) Who was the small man with a red face and only slightly redder tie? ((Frank Arnold)) WHO THE HECK WAS WHO? I insist, before I pay another visit, that identifying photos of every habitué be posted on the wall -- or that someone compile a Who’s Who of SF. Or that official guides be provided for us dumb innocents from the country.
I thought to come away well furnished with statistics and other material. I’d intended to enumerate soft, hard, and beery drinks consumed, quantity of sausage rolls eaten, mileage of smoked cigarettes, all useful items of data in a penetrating analysis. But too large a proportion of drinks went down me, the sausages rolls vanished too fast to be counted, and cigarettes were obscured by their own smoke -- I got a hangover, indigestion, and a hacking cough, but no statistics. I also got paralysis though so much hand-shaking, bruised knuckles for snatching at a GALAXY that someone else had marked down for his own, and sore feet from walking the last lap home, not to dwell on the sidelong glances received from a well-meaning but fanatically anti-fannish wife.
At an hour appointed by the London magistrates I emerged into the unfriendly night, accompanied by two stalwart straws such as a drowning man might well clutch at, and exchanged the roar of the whirlpool for the comparative calm of the Thunderground Railway. At varying distances along this line I lost my straws, but by the Grace of Ghu arrived unscathed in Uxbridge, whence my three-mile trek began. I arrived home in the early hours, though if it hadn’t been for the kindness of a USAF Sgt. who gave me a life partway in one of the mouthorganic monstrosities they laughingly call ‘autos’…
Shall I ever repeat the hazardous experience? Yes… but not for at least a month. It will take that long to recuperate.
Yours, in rare good humour,
((Who dropped that hat?))
From PETE G. TAYLOR, (Editor of PERI), 42 Geneva Road, Brixton, SW9
To begin with I must say that ALL of the blokes with whom I work at a printers are ANTI-science-fictioneers.
Well, recently we had a new electric cutter installed in the upstairs Cutting Room, and on the following day our cutler was busy trying our his new toy, whilst I was explaining to him the mysterious incidents (working meanwhile!) of the EPICENTRE ceilings and the unfortunates who experienced them. ((Nice phrase))
The cutler turned suddenly and told me nastily that I could take the blanketty ceiling and the ditto cranks who read the ***** s-f tripe and sent the lot to the EVERLASTING FIRES below. (humiliation!!)
Seconds later, one of the legs on the table on which he was stacking his work went through the floor (which forms the ceiling of the composing room) with a gleeful scrunch, showering an apprentice compositor standing directly beneath it with large lumps of plaster. He was also anti-s-f.
Both have condescended to sign for the authenticity of this mss. Triumph for me, builder’s expense for the Gov’nor -- ’nuff said.
*****((Almighty Ghu watched over all his Junior Fanatics. The business of the Epicentre was obviously the result of Malignant Forces, though. Another ceiling fell in December, and we understand Ken Bulmer is living inside the oven. Oh yes, and the Fan-Van, celebrated in song and story (horror-story) ... a wheel came off in the Summer, and later the engine fell out. As no museum would accept it, this fabulous vehicle which has conveyed at various times such -- er -- people as James White, Arthur Clarke and the entire staff of SFN was sold for a four-figure sum (including shillings and pence).))
From ROGER DARD, 232 James Street, Perth, Western Australia
Have often intended to write and give you some news, but somehow I have never quite got around to it. This business of being an active fan you know, ain’t all it’s cracked up to be! Oh to be one of those despised creatures who only do silly things like reading the prozines, heh heh!
The fan situation in Australia at the moment is good quantitatively, but bad otherwise. There are more fans today than at any other time since the war, but this resurgence of fanac has come at a bad time, as some little time ago we were unlucky enough to get saddled with a new Minister for Customs, a fantasy-hating character named Senator O’Sullivan. Since this gentle character took over, he has already made his presence felt. Of course, this country has been notorious for its peculiar Customs regulations for the past decade, but O’Sullivan has made things worse than they have ever been. In fact, he has unleashed a veritable Reign of Terror. OPERATION FANTAST has been banned, and as O.F.’s Australian representative I was raided by the police, on Customs orders, and subjected to a thorough interrogation.
In fact, as a result of the pressure which was brought to bear on me, I have been literally forced out of the field. I have resigned from O.F., cancelled all my book orders from Ken Chapman, and will take no further part in fanactivity until Australia becomes a civilised nation again. (But I still want to keep in touch per SFN). Genial, lovable Senator O’Sullivan meanwhile is joyously banning books which were never banned before in our history -- and none of our previous Customs Minsters could be said to be very liberal in their outlook. ALICE IN WONDERLAND, Campbell’s WHO GOES THERE?, ((reprinted here as ‘The Thing f.a. World’)), and all of A Merritt’s books have already had the axe fall on them. We expect GRIMM’S FAIRY TALES to go at any time.
So you see, if any of you oppressed fans over there in the UK wanna know the joys of living in a really free country, why, just come to Australia.
*****((Will the Belfast group kindly sic a banshee onto O’Sullivan? Haven’t you got any liberal or leftish papers over there, Roger, that’d get on their hind legs and scream? The question isn’t the dollar bugbear, apparently, as British stuff is banned, but just a sort of moral issue which should be wide open to attack. You’re on SFN’s complimentary list henceforth, anyway; will other British faneds copy?))
From JOHN J. GREENGRASS, 10, Marham Road, Lowestoft, SUFFOLK
Since I last saw you I’ve got married and am in the process of settling down. ‘Settling down’ includes, amongst other things an attempt to form a local s-f club, hence my letter in the hope that you can offer some advice on the subject. The problems are how to increase membership (8 at present) and what to include in the functions of the club besides a library. I have plenty of ideas, but prefer to avoid the sterile ones. Of course, the eventual aim -- or one of them -- is to produce a fanzine…
((Energy! Well, we’d say that for increasing membership, get a mention in the local paper; write a short article on s-f so that it’ll be of interest to readers other than enthusiastic fans; Tony Thorne seems to get a regular notice in his Medway paper! Insert duplicated or printed sheets in magazines sold locally; get a mention in NEW WORLDS, AUTHENTIC, and NEBULA. Write to the Manchester group re. co-operation with the local cinema… any other ideas, fans?
As for functions of the club, a once-a-month discussion perhaps, but make it a free-and-easy get-together as much as possible. A fanzine is the best binding force and focus of energies as well, but make sure there are several members willing to work on it ... nothing is more disheartening than being expected to produce a ’zine on one’s own (for a specific purpose… not for ‘fun’).))
JOHN GUTTERIDGE, of 61, Hawkins Road, Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, writes:-
Every time the postman walks up the path with some mail for me, he gives me a sickly grin, as much as to say, ‘some people have more money than sense’, and then I smile back at him and think ‘ah yes, but if it wasn’t for stf fans, where would postmen be…?’ On Tuesday he had a more than usually ferocious look on his face, so I let my mother collect the letters… yes, it was SFN. ((Another reason why we’re infrequent… considerate, that’s us)). The lead-in was very clever, but not so good as the one in the last ish. Glad to hear that some-one else is to publish a prozine. How come they announce a monthly issue, when NOVA can’t get newsprint? ((They can be optimistic, can’t they?))
In the printing industry, the use of a colon (:) followed by a dash (-) is an unforgiveable offence, although same appear to be advocated in schools. I noticed you use it quite a lot. For such occasions as warrant the use of a hyphenated colon, you use a plain colon. ((Quite wrong… our colon is all squiggly))
The film review was satisfactory, apart from the mention of ‘Flight to Mars’. The very least you could have given over to this was a complete page. P’haps you fell asleep during the course of the show (or your reviewer did). ((You too?))
I’ve received a letter from my pal in the States, and I think you’ll be interested in the following letter which was the one he received from the BSFA.
“You may find the enclosed a little premature, but we feel that you are practicing the main purpose of our organisation over here and we gladly appreciate any co-operation between one s-f fan and another.
“Your friend Mr Gutteridge has recently joined our association and we look forward to the derivation of mutual benefits.
“We strive for greater comradeship in our particular form of literature and everything the word comradeship entails; exchange of books, views and information.
“We had up to the present something like 300 fans in your own country on our mailing lists and we would be gratified to place yours there. Okay?
“In any event, of you ever have an itchy pen, try dropping a line to these people (enclosed were six addresses, 3 English, 1 Australian, 2 American) -- all avid s-f fans who will be only too pleased to accept the chance of jawing s-f to someone else.”
I do not vouch for the spelling, as it’s second-hand. This chap tells me he didn’t write to any of the addresses, and apparently did not contact the assoc. at all. He confirmed my query that he had heard nothing since, excepting some Milcross lists which he assumed were via the BSFA. Perhaps a query with Mr Crossen or someone will verify the supposition. ((Frank? … Les?)) I am rather disappointed that I have heard nothing from them since you sent the current issue of SFN. There is of course the possibility that they tore it up without reading it!
*****((For newcomers, the British Science Fiction Association is a mysterious body whom those who reckon we’re s-f fans can’t contact. See the last SFN. No word of any sort of activity by the BSFA has come our way since then. We’ve had a number of comments in letters, practically all unprintable, but see one from George Clements herewith.
You might be interested in an odd incident that happened to us recently. Wandering around the environs of London’s book-lined Charing Cross Road, we came across a new bookshop. Except for the fact that it was painted by blue there seemed to be little our of the ordinary about it, until we saw the legend painted over its windows:-
We looked twice, just to make sure, then dived inside. The interior was square-ish and each wall was lined with books, pbs and magazines. It was hard to see the contents of one wall as book-lovers were standing in front of it; this was undoubtedly the section labelled ‘War-Time Astoundings’ so we peeked over shoulders. We obtained an eyeful of racks of semi-nude photos and a shelf of pseudo-French ’zines. Not, evidently, s-f, unless there was some connection with biology.
We looked around. Detective and western ’zines. Several racks of books that might be loosely classified as ‘medical’… such titles as ‘Abnormal Sex Psychology’, ‘Far Eastern Sexual Practices’ etc etc. A number of Paul Renin’s pocket-books, but none of Vargo Statten’s.
Evidently, there was as mistake. The legend was supposed to read SCIENCE, and then, unrelated, FICTION. We went outside again and took a few breaths of cool evening air. It was hot inside the shop. We were just about to walk away when we saw a board placed alongside the door. This was vertical, and at the bottom was
We went inside again. There was a sort of cashier’s compartment in one corner, occupied by two men. The younger was talking on the ’phone and making off-stage remarks to a sweet young thing. Sleeping berths to Paris were being booked. The older gent, a slightly hard-bitten looking individual who’d have looked complete with a long black cigar to chew was sitting down and looking gloomily into nothingness. Obviously wondering how long until the next GALAXY came over. We coughed.
“Er,” we said. “Er, excuse me. You’ve got science-fiction advertised on your board outside I presume that’s two separate words -- it doesn’t mean the type of literature called science-fiction?” Somehow, it seemed out-of-place talking about ‘literature’ here, but we couldn’t think of appropriate synonym.
The gent looked up.
“Yep, that means science-fiction.”
We twitched an eyebrow. “Really? I don’t see any..”
He stood up and pointed in the general direction of our feet. “There’s some magazines,” he said briefly,. He seemed to be a man of few words.
We looked down. On a rack nearest the floor, and almost hidden by the legs of the devotees of Art, were three Fantastic Adventures BREs. The same issue. We had in fact seen them on the first visit, but you know how one forgets FA as soon as possible.
We looked at him. “Is that all you have?”
It was evidently the wrong thing to say. Maybe he was sensitive on the point.
“Yep, that’s all at present.” He sat down again. He almost looked hurt.
“Oh well, I’ll look in again some other time.”
We went out. We hadn’t asked whether his name was L W Nowlan, but we can always do that if anyone ever knocks us unconscious and drags us in there.
We give you, to put beside the s-f society that isn’t interested in s-f fans, the s-f shop that doesn’t sell it… this isn’t looking like a letter-zine, either…))
BILL GIBBS, 474 Caledonian Road, Wishaw, Lanarkshire, Scotland, writes :-
THE COTTAR HOWKIN’ IN THE SHEUCH
THE BAIRNIES DOOKIN IN THE BROKKIE
MAY MUCKLE DLUIDY NOISE ENEUCH
BUT AN IRISH BLETHER TAKES THE COOKIE
(The Immortal Bard)
Otherwise SFN2/4 was fine.
*****((We’ll get kilt for printing that…))
POCKET POCKET-BOOK REVIEW, contained in a letter from JAMES L KEEPING:-
BLACK INFINITY -- by Berl Cameron (Curtis Warren). Seldom in the history of PB fiction has fandom been offered such a bargain as this three-in-one masterpiece.
In the first place it is (quote) A New Story From America’s Star Author. It being a private belief that we all knew Mr Kuttner’s pseudonyms we were rather disturbed to have a new one thrust upon us, nevertheless we gladly add Berl Cameron to an extensive list.
In the second place, BLACK INFINITY comes to us bedecked in a most striking cover illo. There is no suggestion that Clothier had anything to do with it -- no suggestion at all, except that he DID it twice before. The same spaceship rises from a similar sea on the cover of NEW WORLDS no 5, and the same alien architecture features on NW No 9.
Thirdly, ‘Berl Cameron’, be what American Star he may, is obviously a psychic twin of Harry Stine. We quote from GALACTIC GADGETEERS (asf BRE April ’52)
“You can’t do it!” Radio Office Bill Rich bellowed. “Perfect square wave oscillators just don't exist!”
“Oh no?” Radar Officer Ted Anderson shot back. “All I gotta do is generate a sine wave, clip it, amplify it and clip it again…”
Cameron has this to say on the same knotty subject:
“But you can’t…” grinned Raynor… “They’ve been trying to do that trick for centuries. Plenty of round waves and pointed ones, but a square wave…”
“Should be simple enough,” considered Gleitzes. “All it needs is a sine form, clip it, square it, boost it… clip it again for correction and there we are! Simple…”
My, my. How these physicists hang together. They should hang singly.
Add to these exhilarating points 1) a Mad Scientist 2) a Girl Stowaway from Mars and 3) a clash between Thousands of Spaceships and obviously you have your one and sixworth. You have also been warned…
*****((Those readers still possessing SFN2/2 containing ‘Calling the Emperor’ by Terry Jeeves will recall a passage therein… “Still, dogged does it!” He setter pointer at peke, and a little poodle of radio waves formed from the side-band splash…” Please amend that to read "a little clipped poodle”.))
POCKET POCKET-BOOK REVIEW, contained in a letter from CHUCK HARRIS
I have just finished reading your breath-taking novel “Space Treason”. Kindly return my breath immediately. And they chopped down trees to get the paper to print this. I have no doubt that you’re sitting smugly behind a heap of royalty payment cheques, or watching Zanuck fight Lippert for the film-rights, but I did think you’d be interested in an old-time fan’s opinion (been active since waaay back in ’48… I can still remember the thrill of opening the first GALAXY…)
POCKET POCKET-BOOK REVIEW, contained in a letter from GEORGE CHARTERS
Did you read a PB called ZERO POINT by ‘Rand le Page’? It really is a queer production. It has Jovians who can assume almost any shape at will, by Jove. In their usual shape they breathe methane and ammonia ((hence the song “Ammonia Jovian Vagabond”)) but when they sprout two tentacles for legs, two for arms, and a human-looking head, they breathe oxygen. And even when arrayed in a space-suit, the hero can jab its eyes and the stench of it makes his brain swim madly as he tries to get a hold on the slimy scaly skin. There is a space-ship. And what a spaceship! It starts off with a length of 2,640 feet, shortens to 2,500 feet, and winds up as 5,280 feet. A sort of Fitzgerald contraption, of course, off course. It is sometimes referred to as a plane. It has airtight doors here and there in its corridors, BUT if the airlock is opened in space all the air leaves the ship! Also, out in empty space, the enema, sorry, enemy ship flies over it and drops a bomb on it. The crew, incidentally, can stand up to 20 gravities. (Acceleration or exhilaration?) Going from Sol to Sirius (which has suffered enough puns) ((Canis be true?)) they run into a storm which brings them back almost the whole distance in 2 days -- by means of the hyperadial orbit of Antares.
When the hull is heated by friction during the storm, metal oozes across the control-room floor.
They run across a derelict battle-cruiser -- the hero goes to investigate -- he finds a GIRL -- brings her back to the ship -- and one of his mates asks “How in the name of all the hells did a woman get to be on that ship. It’s unbelievable. DID YOU FIND ANY OTHERS?”
And the hero, without battling an eyelid, says, “No, she was the only one.”
POCKET POCKET-BOOK REVIEW in a letter from PAUL ENEVER
My every energy is bent, on writing some ribald comment, upon the latest from the pen, of Clarke, A V and Bulmer, Ken (Tho’ it is hard, as you can see, to make it rhyme successfully, in fact it drove me quite frenetic, to rhyme Controller, Cybernetic), but perhaps I’d better sing, Soft, until I’ve read the thing!
From BOB SHAW, 70 Loopland Drive, Belfast, N.I.
I have browsed around the house for the last couple of hours and having run out of brows I decided that it was high time that I dropped you a letter. Since I got back to Erin I have been working like mad. ((Natch)) The new firm is absolutely marvellous, it has got so that I hurry to it in the morning, and at half past five pack up with a twinge (or is it a tinge) of regret. I suppose it would be a twinge, though I used to think that a twinge was a twouch of colour. I have been doing a fair bit of fanning at Walt’s too. (This first para is printed for the benefit of Londoners who used to have long, serious and constructive drinks with Bhob at the ‘White Horse’. Follows the real science-fiction fannish stuff we usually get from Belfast…)
The night before last I was God to a spider. I went up to the bathroom and there I saw this huge insect dangling from the cistern. I was rather surprised ’cos it was the first one I seen in mid-winter. I couldn’t bring myself to just crush it out of existence. Even in the summer when they abound I hate to do it, especially on a big one. I stood for a moment undecided -- then I remembered that my brother had received an air rifle for Christmas.
I hauled it out, got some slugs, and then I was ready, almost. The thought came to me that the spider, however obnoxious, had some claim to life. So I selected three slugs & ruled that if it survived those I would carry it out to the garden and set it free. I opened the bathroom door and went to the end of the landing, opened the front bedroom door and went to the far end of that -- giving the insect the whole length of the house. I took aim, allowing two inches for the flattening of the front sight, and fired. I had forgotten that the gun I was using was not one of those cheap toys one usually sees but a heavy pre-War German job. ((Krupps, no doubt))
When I went to see the results of the first shot I found that as well as almost deafening me in its departure, the slug had splintered the woodwork around the feedpipe, caved in part of the pipe itself, and scattered still-twitching pieces of spider over a two-inch radius. It was horrible. I’ll never do it again.
*****((Yes, it probably does rain on Venus))
From ALEX MORRISON, 24, High Road, Stevenston, Ayrshire
Received my first copy of SFN and must say I enjoyed it very much. I have only two suggestions to make, one is that you might have smaller pages, and thereby increase the number (seems to me I’ve heard this said before). My second is about your Belfast “friends?". Must you give so much space to their letters instead of the ordinary fen, or are you running an advertising campaign to sell more copies of ‘SLANT’ over here (there’s a thought). Anyway, Willis or no Willis, I’m looking forward to receiving the next issue of SFN. PS Who is this guy White anyway?
*****((Now, lookee, son, (sez he, spitting thoughtfully at a passing meteor) you’re a mite tangled up. What are these ‘ordinary fen’? Why, they’re the 80% who never write in to a pro'’ or fan’zine.
James White? Just one of the fans hanging around. Draws pretty well, writes letters and articles and stories, had his first two full length stories accepted by NEW WORLDS (see current issue for the first) ... surely you know James?
From JAMES WHITE, 29 Dolinpark Street, Springfield Road, BELFAST
The mag this issue was uniformly good. (it was good last issue too, so don’t jump down my throat.) I particularly liked Jim Rattigan’s piece and the Editorial (N.A.C.) the first for being a good job of reporting and the second for its ... well, shall we say its air of indefinable elan. (I read that somewhere. Not sure just what it means, but it sounds nice, don’t you think?) ((We always try for elan… you might say our priam purpose is elan of try)). ‘Expedition SFN’ was also very good, but I can’t help thinking there is a small but important error in its basic premise. I can’t put my finger on it at the moment, guess I’ll have to bring it before the Society.
No, not my finger.
I’m glad my bit in the ish before last was well received in some quarters, (including NATO Head- ) Getting mentioned, even if it was only twenty-seven times, with three oblique references, is very encouraging to a humble tyro type beginner like myself.
((Striving with mighty forces too big to be contained in one fanzine, the White/Harris feud boils over into SFN; (see HYPHEN for further details); we’ve been acting as a buffer state/mail-man/non-belligerent/go-between, so:-))
Out of sheer politeness I read that ‘letter’ from “ ”. It was, as usual, threatening, insulting and sarcastic, mostly sarcastic. Will you tell him that the proper spelling of that word is ‘Curé' with a little stroke over the ‘e’, and the way he spelt it means a dirty, mangy, flea-bitten mongrel dog which has its habitat in or around American and Mexican Indian settlements, and anyway, just because I’m a noble, high-principled , ascetic type doesn’t mean he should make cracks about it. As a Thinker you must know how it is when you are pondering and one of his letters arrives. You begin to sense a subtle wrongness, a flaw in the great Scheme of Thing, and you suddenly realise that it’s been there all the time, and furthermore, that it has remained substantially unaltered since the business with the apple at the beginning. If he ever comes to Ireland St. Patrick will be gunning for him as well.
I have refused to answer its letter, naturally, I can’t be bothered. I have merely sent a pc requesting briefly but politely that it discontinues its futile attempts to enrage me.*
… the way I see it, we’ll arrive about noon Friday, occupy an obscure hovel in Rainham during Friday night, then I, at least, want to stay at the Bonnington Sat. & Sunday nights in case the Con. doesn’t knock off for sleep. Also it is my wish to hold converse with persons of culture and breeding like Dorothy Jacobs and George Charters before I take the Last Long Trip to Rainham. The thought of lying awake under the same roof as harris fills me to the neck with trepidation, but I’m almost sure it wouldn’t try to pull anything before the Con. Afterwards, though, it will be different. It will have me in its power completely, and I am abysmally certain of what the final result will be. Still, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go, and none of us wants to live forever. I hope that, when the time comes, I will face my fate steadfastly, and go down with a half-smile on my face and a water-pistol pumping in each hand. I was thinking of speaking only my native tongue, as this is supposed to be a protection against the were and vampires, but this, at best, would only be delaying tactics. I am sore afraid. Nil me go mait, ta scanragh orm.
*****((This is a respectable fanzine and we don’t want none of that there language ’ere. Houtside, hif you please. *The pc. consisted of two words… Ahhh, SHADAAAAP! ))
NOTE. You’ll notice plans are already on hand and afoot re. the CORONVENTION… have YOU started preparations yet?????????
SECOND AUSTRALIAN S-F CONVENTION Division of Overseas Publicity, 24, Warren Road, Double Bay, Sydney, Australia.
We are seeking the assistance of everyone associated with s-f to publicise our SECOND AUSTRALIAN S-F CONVENTION to be held over the first weekend in May, ’53. The first (’52) Convention was a great success and we hope this one will be even better. We want assistance in two forms: Firstly -- Editors of the S-F Magazines: We need direct publicity. Can you find space to give us a mention? Secondly -- The matter of booster Ads in the CONVENTION SOUVENIR BOOKLET. Last year we were well supported by prominent fans, magazines, booksellers and publishers taking space. We hope for their support again this year. The advertising rates are:- Full page 17/6d (Aust.), half page, 10/-, quarter page 5/-, Back cover 1½ guineas (Aust.), Inside back cover 1 guinea.
PETE CAMPBELL, 60, Calgarth Road, Windermere, Westmoreland, writes:-
… Nope, no news. I can however offer you a study in still life, a brief outline of the history and proceedings of the Lakeland S-F Club. In June we decided to organise, and two days later the club had no less than two members,. Two weeks later the total membership had risen to two. The statistics now show 5 members, however, and we are liable to find somebody else any day. Funnily enough, our expenditure is approx. twice our income, but as I am Treasurer, Secretary, Librarian, Witch Doctor Extraordinary, Director of Publicity, (President also, when I get around to rigging an election), you can be sure the club’s affairs are in competent if slightly dirty hands…
*****((Same hands now hold the fate of ANDROMEDA… see SFN. This is a rather old letter, so the membership may be nearing 6 by this time.))
FRED ROBINSON, (note new address,) 63, Newborough Avenue, Llanishen, Cardiff, S. WALES Writes:
… Slanday -- Punday -- Ghusday -- Fen’sday -- Gnurr’sday…
*****((Being too busy on CAMBER to write in the last 3 months…))
((So you edit a newsmagazine, and as a mere tidbit and because you think it’s worthy of note you make a statement to the effect that an English s-f author has just sold for the first time to ASF; said author being a large part of a pseudonymous hack called ‘Gill Hunt’, only because you’re short of space you say it’s his ‘ASF … 1st sale…’ and shortly afterwards a missive drops through your letterbox and lies fizzing on the mat:–
From JOHN BRUNNER, Highlands, Woodcote, Reading.
Dear Wince, I am dumbbelled – libelled. Nor does that mean someone has pasted a libel on me and dropped me in a pillarbox bound for Clacton-on-Sea and all points to Marsport Central. No! Worse! Tho I am, I suppose (boy, I have an imagination!) grateful for your ego-bootiful mention of my name, you are gilt-edged – guilty – and this should make you green about the gilts into the ashcan – bargain – of an egregious insult. Sockdologers – apologies – accepted. GET UP OFF YOUR KNEES! My sale to ASF, though by far my most rewarding and egoballooning to date (incidentally, the story is called THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL – plug), is NOT REPEAT NOT my first. What do you think I am – a poor struggling author living in a garret off rinds of mouldy cheese? Of course I’m not! ((I’m sure that we will all be glad to hear, etc etc.)) Humorously, though, I have made other sales – this statement for the edification of anyone contemplating making a completionist library of my works. Don’t take this to heart – assuming you have one. I found SFN 2/4 (oughtn’t that rather improper and vulgar fraction to be reduced to its lowest terms? It’s so long since I pressed the 'half' key on this machine except by mistake for a full stop that I am going to½ There½. The other one should, of course, not be there. For ½ read .)
The above is the shortest paragraph known to man.
Redrawn covers? I admit I haven’t looked at them very closely yet, but I didn’t notice much difference between the July BREASF and the March ’51 USASF’s cover. I do not intend to buy the plurry things even to fill out my collection. Who is responsible for the low-down trick of putting out a March ’51 USASF as the BREASF for July ’52 – just after I had decided they weren’t going to and that it was safe to buy the USASF without being undercut? ((You must have enemies))
On re-reading the above, I am struck forcibly ((we told you)) by the fact that at the end of para 1 I was intending to comment in extended order on this copy of SFN. I’ll do that.
Multiple puns don’t suit me. I just can’t coat with them. Sometimes, though, their glamour drawers me to try one on, but of corset never comes off. While I was writing this letter, for instance, I felt I’d glove to sock you with one – even a shorts one. So, brim-full of optimism, I fell to with a vest. But – bodice it about a pun? Though I shoes my words with care and tie them neatly together, the right combinations never seem to turn-up. After ten panting minutes in which my bra-vura dwindled rapidly, I suspendered operations briefly to see if I could sweater little inspiration out of anyone else’s. No good. Undieterred, I braced myself for another try, but all I got was a bad fit which almost kilt me and in the end I hat to jacket.
Sorry, the temptation was too great. ((You shod have thot before you bespoke.))
Umph. Optimistic about NEBULA, aren’t you. Yes, that was a very good and fair review Ratigan gave ‘Atomic City’. I saw it last Saturday. As for the BSFA, you don’t think an enlightened body like that would condescend to associate with such commercialised riff-raff as you, do you? EXPEDITION SFN was full of second-rate pseudo-science – surely everybody now knows that the only way of reaching the moon is to use a ladder? Balloons pshwawawa. (Cue for trumpets – muted – and did you know that there is available on LP (LC6511) a record called collectively MUSIC OUT OF THE MOON, comprising ‘Celestial Nocturne’; ‘Mist o’ the Moon’; ‘Radar Blues’; ‘Lunar Rhapsody’; (2) ‘Moon Moods’; ‘Lunette’ [titles in original all underlined rather than in quotes] – all by Dr. S. J. Hoffman and his theremin. I think I shall get it.)
There are TOO MANY GOOD ZINES ON THE MARKET! ((Impossible))
((And a later letter:–))
THIS IS ANOTHER POEM WHICH IS THE ONLY ONE OF ITS KIND IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
I don’t think you heard from me this Christmas, but I found buying cards was so expensive I said the hell with it and bought one handsome specimen and addressed it to the whole durn London Circle. I hope it got there. I hope further that you had a convivial and jubilant Christmas – mine was marred by a small item which I should be grateful if you wd mention to people you might want to mention it to in case they write to me – to wit, I’ve been drafted at last, to Padgate of all the loathsome dumps and have to take wings and things north on the sixth. When I get there I’ll look up the NWSFCCCCCCCC and C what’s doing. But it looks as though I’ve stopped living on borrowed time.
All of which is very melancholy. Imagine me being referred to as 246810 Excrescence Brummer (? Browner, Brown or Bruin, which are the commonest perversions I suffer from). The very thought of it turns my throat to water and constricts my knees, not to mention making me weak at the blood. (Any idea how far Padgate is from Liverpool? Or is that a silly question?) ((16 miles from Liverpool, 14 from Manchester … SFN FAN-LOCATION BUREAU)) As for other news of myself, I have come to the conclusion that of all the mags edited by past, present or future editors of Ziff-Davis ‘zines, IF is the most unexpected and FANTASTIC is the best aside from being in my hair all the time. ((You won’t have that to worry about much longer, airman….)) I mean – when one reaches the stage when one is reduced to fantastic & fantastic sf fantasy & sf fantastic worlds & etcetera it seems somebody’s brain has run up to a dead end ((FANTASTIC is right there, son)) How about a few original names? Squuljnak and Zizzbaum are but two of the many that leap instantly to the mind. (To my mind at any rate.) By the way; you may be wondering where the bit about the poem comes in. You can see there’s a headline claiming that this is another of those unique epics. Well, it is. And just so you needn’t puzzle any more, I’ll explain that these two paragraphs rhyme.
(Free verse…. but if you want to pay for it you can)
*****((What will happen to the RAF now ? See next issue’s thrilling instalment ... and by the way, John tells us he’s sold a book-length yarn to TWO COMPLETE SCIENCE-ADVENTURE BOOKS. Subscriptions may be cancelled at any dealers.))
GEORGE CHARTERS, 333,333 Lancaster Ave., Bangor, Co. Down, N.I., writes:–
Dear Vin¢, Did I ever tell you that the first time I saw your name spelt thataway it had to be explained to me? It goes to show.
Having nothing to do I thought I would waste my time (and probably yours too) with a letter ((See Bob Shaw’s opening remark… why don’t you keep ’em working, Walt?)), and the first thing that comes naturally to mind is that Chuck Harris doesn’t believe that I live in a house numbered 33,333 – presumably because he thinks WE Bangorians cuddent have numbers that big if they don’t have them in London (and don’t I wish I was there now?), but you can tell him that all letters addressed to me at 3,333,333 Lancaster Ave. will find me, as I occupy half the houses on one side of the street, or perhaps Chuck wants to start another feud with another Irishman, though I wouldn’t fight with him since he was the only fan-type to appreciate my contributions to SLANT altho’ he has probably forgotten all about it now, as have (I hope) all other intelligent fans. ((Was that the way the stamps were stuck on?))
Did anyone mention the acid-nourished grass to you yet?* I did not know if it was a slip or not, so I planted some seed in a window-box, and when the delicate green shoots appeared I tried sprinkling them twice a day with hydrochloric. It seemed, however, to exercise a depressing effect, so the third day I switched to nitric, with even more gloomy effect, so I changed again to sulphuric, but I don’t know the results of this as I had to stop after two days to let the men fit the new window-sill and buy a new box. I’m no horticulturist anyway.
((We have a dim recollection of your querying someone’s statement that grass grew better in acid soil. Doubtless you’ll be hearing from pro-horticulturist Paul Enever… providing they can revive him.))
CHARTERS P.S. “Would a Spanish spaceship have automatic or manuel controls?”
WE ASKED PAUL SOWERBY, EDITOR OF THE DORMANT ‘ASTRONEER’, FOR AN ACCOUNT OF THE MANCON (the Manchester Convention) HELD IN OCTOBER; PAUL ENTHUSIASTICALLY COMPLIED WITH ABOUT 5000 HANDWRITTEN WORDS ... THAT IS, ABOUT 5 PAGES OF THIS SIZE. NOT HAVING THE MICROSCOPIC FORMAT OF O.F.’s NEWSLETTER, WE’VE EDITED IT… HEAVILY. SORRY, PAUL.
DOES ANYONE WANT ANY BLUE-PENCIL STUBS?
MANCON COMMENTARY by PAUL SOWERBY
“…….I was wandering around chatting to old acquaintances, giving a hand here and there with various stalls, when a good-looking be-spectacled man in a blue suit arrived. A glance at his label informed me that he was Harry Turner, former NW and TOW artist, whose best work, however, was featured in his early-war-time fanzine ZENITH, and was really good. I had tried to get in touch with him to lure him back to fandom a fortnight before without success, and so was pleased to see that the MANCON publicity had reached him after all. ((ZENITH, the ’zine with the best art-work of any duplicated effort that we’ve seen, is being revived by Harry Turner in co-operation with Derek Pickles… date of first issue uncertain)) He was accompanied by another fantasy artist, John White, who also amuses himself with half-stories. Unfortunately, they are first halves, like mine, so a fleeting hope of a coalition fell to the ground. Hasn’t anybody got any second-halves? ((Free advert.))
A little after twelve ((noon)), though people were still arriving and some things weren’t quite ready, Dave Cohen took the stage, struggled with the mike, and gave warning that the Con was about to commence. Everybody – except those leaning on the bar – having taken seats, he announced Frank Simpson’s talk on ‘Alien Life Forms’.
And we all sat there and lapped it up… even I! I beat my head against the wall, I tear my hair. I must have been day-dreaming… because the whole thing was one glorious spoof! Dave told us at dinner, and it ruined our digestion…..
The next item was TWENTY QUESTIONS, between the Liverpool Group and the NSFC, which was ended by dinner. We found a meal in a little cafe 300 yds down the road; my table was composed of the Liverpool group, one Bradfordian, and self. We had quite a pleasant discussion on – you miss your guess – philately! All my fault, really, through asking Norman Shorrock why he’d used Edward VIII stamps on a packet to me; answer – they are valued in bulk below face value! ((To hard-up fans; we understand ‘bulk’ means BULK... thousands.))
The afternoon sessions began with Mike Rosenblum giving a talk on ‘Fandom’, This being rather a large topic he settled on a general history, with emphasis on the war years. When the time came to answer questions, he asked Derek Pickles and Eric Bentcliffe to give a hand; this was a piece of good strategy, as a good many of the questions were on the subject of OF and its origin, altho’ several were directed at Mike concerning the old British Fantasy Society. The inquisition was quite lively, and was certainly of interest to those newer fen who hadn’t the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the history and progress (?) of British fandom since the thirties.
The next speaker was the guest celebrity, ‘Vargo Statten’. John Russell Fearn ascended the stage, and those unkind people who’d brought along last year’s groceries, brickbats and guided missiles hitched themselves up on their seats…….
Mr. Fearn is a very dark-skinned (come to Sunny Blackpool!), dark-haired gent., with heavy-rimmed spectacles and an exceedingly cheerful and infectious smile. He commenced by saying that the name of ‘Vargo Statten’ horrified him as much as it did fandom, but it had been forced upon him when he started to work for Scion. He then proceeded to exonerate himself from other crimes of which he’d been accused ... ‘Trembling World’, for example, was the only work he had done under the name of ‘Astron del Martia’; all his other pseudonyms were ones that could conceivably belong to human beings, and indeed, he admitted a preference to using his own name for stories he didn’t feel like blushing at.
In his earlier days, he pointed out the possession of a bad habit – ‘Liners of Time’ (Amazing '35?) is a case in point – of tossing away two or three plots in one story. Nowadays, with plots running shorter, he preferred to get two or three stories out of one plot and variations before throwing it away. ((Who doesn’t?)) Unfortunately, since the publishers insisted on the Earth being destroyed practically every alternate novel, this plot was wearing a little thin and he spent most of his spare time trying to think of new ways of annihilating poor old Terra! Every day the possibilities for eliminating the human race were reducing as they were used up, and Mr. Fearn made an appeal to all present that if they knew of any previously unconceived method of global catastrophe which they were not contemplating using, to let him know of it!
In answer to charges of plagiarism, Fearn cheerfully admitted that they were not unfounded, but… “what is plagiarism?” He indicated that since practically every plot in literature had been at least duplicated, it was hard to describe the re-use of any of them with variations as 'plagiarism'.
A roar of applause accompanied Fearn as he left the stage, his popularity bouncing off the Heaviside layer. All around me I could hear people vowing never to make cracks about 'Statten' again, and Fearn was certainly the hero of the hour.
The next speaker was John Brunner, who spent but little of his time on himself and his literary career ((ah, an imposter!)), devoting most of it to the history and tribulations of NEBULA, with which and with whose editor he had considerable acquaintance. Having explained the difficulties which Peter had encountered in obtaining a distributor, John concluded by requesting that this set-back be countered by the complete sale of the NEBs he had brought to the Con. Having answered a few questions on Neb. And himself, John retired, and the next item '1966 And All That' was announced.
This was a playlet by Frank Simpson, amusing and well conceived, most of it being a 'radio-feature broadcast' from an artificial satellite and a space-ship; unfortunately, a tape-recorder used to simulate a radio hadn’t enough amplification, but it went over fairly well and the sound-effects were excellent. When the play had finished, Eric gave a squawk of "shut it off!” and dashed to the recorder - someone had switched it on again and Eric’s dulcet (?) tones were coming over, crooning something about ‘Red Sands of Mars’. Thank heavens he turned it off - my voice was on the tape too. And it was horrible!
The next item was ‘Fantasy Charades’, and while it was being explained to the opposing teams, there came an interruption. This was it… The Thing!... The Man From Planet X!... or somewhere! Clad in a dun-coloured space-suit with a semi-transparent visor, the figure marched down the hall to the stage, knocking down chairs and hapless fen as he went, and attempted to assassinate Eric B. with a ray-gun, failed, and beat a leisurely retreat. ((This ghost guest was later revealed as Bill Jessup of Manchester)) He put paid to the Fantasy Charades though; the powers-that-be decided on an auction instead, and this in turn was interrupted by Dave Cohen with the wildly popular item of the Tea Buffet.
I should explain here that a number of items were left out of the official programme through lack of time; the MANCON awards were not made because public opinion which was to act as judge wasn’t forthcoming, and the ‘Design Your Own Spaceship’ wasn’t judged as only two entries were received. Both were excellent, and looked fine on the walls of the Con Hall. After tea-break, Derek Pickles acted as auctioneer, and due either to Derek’s spiel or the meal, bidding was more lively; however, there was such a vast quantity of books and ’zines to get rid of that everyone wearied, and the affair had to close with a good many unsold. Another informal session terminated with the placing of Eric Jones and Terry Jeeves on the spot by making them decide with whom they would like to be marooned on an asteroid. Terry started with 4 Bergey girls, but thot that a few authors who could produce stupendous gadgets like rabbits out of a hat would prove useful, and he made a selection, G. O. Smith pre-eminent among them. By the time he had only one Bergey girl left he decided that the others would be jealous, so he swapped her for another author. Eric had unfortunately prepared his talk ... yerse, that’s right, it was in his drawer at home. He struggled thru’ with a selection of handy s-f characters, pinching one of Jeeves’s authors to act as foreman!
It was quite dark by this time, and Fearn fixed up his projector. First a film on the A bomb, then Fearn’s own (silent) ‘Black Saturday’, based on his story ‘Blackout’ in Science-Fantasy 2; the Solar system passes through a space-warp which inhibits the transmission of electro-magnetic waves, and the film showed the effects on various people, including the crew of the first interplanetary ship.
The funny thing is ... after the film, nearly everybody went. Just like that. Well, you can’t have a Con. with nobody, so we all started to pack up. It was only 9.30 too. Conversations went on while the Hall was being cleared, but soon there was nothing left to read or do, so we… all… went… home. We were dead tired, but Eric Jones and I were still talking at midnight….
((Sorry we could only include the highlights, but you get the idea, we hope. There were some adverse comments in Northern circles re. lack of support from the South, & specifically London, for the MANCON, but the subject of future Cons is under discussion. There’s certainly a lack of unity amongst fan groups which we hope ’zines such as this will supply. But, Northerners…. make ’em 2 day Conventions, pulleeease!))
From CHUCK O’HARRIS, ‘Carolin’, Lake Avenue, Rainham, ESSEX;–
I just bet that if I could only find your last letter I could knock out a reply that would have you rolling in your private aisle. I carefully filed the darned thing in my ‘Letters to be Answered’ file (behind the clock on the mantelpiece), but the woman who cleans up the jernt (my mother) has found a new place for it and forgotten to tell me about it. I suppose it was either shift the heap of unanswered mail or re-inforce the mantle with a couple of iron stanchions.
However, before I become all affectionate towards you, I would like to point out that D-rty Wh-te not only obtained more space than I did in the last SFN but also persuaded you to refer to me as ‘harris’. I shall remember this, Clarke. I suppose you spent the thirty pieces of silver on paper for ‘CONTOUR’?
And I was foolish enough to think you my friend. Never again will I write letters to Hamilton's praising your vile sex-ridden pocket books. I’d even cancel your HYPHEN sub. if I had the nerve - and a better duper than yours to run off the next issue on.
In future, remember that we Big Names are not lightly flouted – whatever that means. And besides, nobody ever seems to get mine correct. F’rinstance, Elsberry calls me ‘Frank Horres', you call me C. F. Harriss and a certain Irish nonentity refers to me as '@&%£%¾$&£%’. I did think that I’d reached the pinnacle the other day when Derek Pickles called me “DEAR SIR”. Alas, after I’d read a little further I found that this unfannish politeness was due solely to the fact that my N3F sub. had expired (whilst the Federation merely sleeps) and that if I wanted to remain a member in good standing I’d better find seven and six immediately or sooner. Please don’t spread this around fandom (I don’t mind both the SFN subbers knowing though), but I am no longer in the N3F. Another s-c-o-o-p for SFN!
I’m glad to see that SFN is improving. After noting the minor typoes in my letter I went on to read some of the less interesting parts of the mag…..
Flush! I have just found your letter. A damn silly place to leave it. This type of paper isn’t at all suitable…..
*****((And just when we thot Mr. Horrors was going to comment on SFN! Oh well, we’ll publish a complete edition of his letters some day… if we can find a French firm willing to take the risk.))
This is a lotta fun ... we could go on and on quoting from the marvellous letters we receive, but it just won’t do ... that odour isn’t the drains ... it’s our deadline decomposing. So to those who haven’t had their letters printed here, and that especially includes Ken Slater, the Liverpool boys (John Roles, Norman Shorrock, and Dave Gardener), and Bert Barton of 40, Regent Road, Handsworth, Brum. 21, who is founder member of the Birmingham S-F Group, our profuse apologies ... or they would be profuse if there was enough space.
If you like this kind of ’zine, let us know… it’s a lot easier than gathering, condensing and reporting news! See you at the CORONVENTION…. unless Chuck Harris sees me first.
SCOTTISH AND YORKSHIRE TRANSLATIONS OF POST WAR AVAILABLE ON REQUEST.