Issue Number One.
Restormel Press Pub: 10
Edited & produced by: Peter Roberts, 87 West Town Lane, Bristol BS4 5DZ
American agent: Richard Labonte, 971 Walkley Rd, Ottawa 8, Ontario, CANADA
trade (large fnzs also receive Mor-farch and/or Egg,
WORDS... And as usual, I begin with apologies. Firstly for the lateness of this magazine -- it's difficult trying, to fit all my fanac into the relatively short period when I'm at home and can use my duplicator, and Checkpoint has unfortunately suffered in favour of other work. Still it'll probably just mean that the fnz will arrive in bunches in future! Secondly, the reviews in this issue (and possibly the next two or three) will be more hurried than I'd wish -- there's a massive backlog of fnzs to catch up on and I'll have to go through them fairly quickly. Note that all reviews are by me this time, but if anyone does want to review a particular fanzine, I'll be glad to print the review (thanks to Bryn Fortey for the review of A Bleeding Rose in this issue...)
FANZINES REVIEWED in this first issue:
German SF Times 89 & 90
A Bleeding Rose 3
En Garde 5
WSFA Journal 60
Rataplan 2 (23pp)
Editors: Leigh Edmonds & Diane Bangsund, PO Box 19, Ferntree Gully, Victoria 3l56, AUSTRALIA, and Bernie Bernhouse, 62 Military Road, Avondale Heights, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
Available for: Trade (2 copies), LoC, contribution, 30 ¢ ($1.80 for 6).
With the demise of Australian SF Review and the folding ofEtherline II, Leigh Edmonds has begun Rataplan in an attempt to provide an Australian fanzine for discussion and comment on sf, fandom, and anything else that fans want to talk about. In other words Rataplan is trying to be the focal-point of Australian fandom, and to judge from its Loc-column and the liveliness of most of the articles & editorials it should probably succeed. Not without competition, of course. Leigh has also fashioned another possible focal-point in ANZAPA which seems to have attracted some pan-Australian attention (i.e. both Melbourne and Sydney fandom...) even though only in its fourth mailing. Rivals are already forming within it -- John Bangsund's New Millenial Harbinger and Gary Woodman's proposed letterzine.
All well and good, you might say, but of what interest is an Australian focal-point fanzine to an outside? Well, Rataplan does have an international aspect -- the early issues have been in the American APA-45 and have been sent out to many U.S. and European fans, the LoC column containing some of the results. Foreign fanzines are reviewed, and comments are flung about pretty freely on sf and fandom abroad. Rataplan, then, stands up as well as any other fanzine which attempts to fulfil a local and international role at the same time.
The second issue contains three editorials, a story, and a fanzine review column, besides the letters. Leigh's editorial is rather scrappy and rushed, but by starting off with the blunt statement that "Australian fandom is staggering." he is doubtless furthering the focal-point image of the magazine which must always thrive on a certain amount of controversy. I myself doubt whether Australian fandom is any more moribund than elsewhere, but local fans will probably dispute the point with some fervour.
Bernie Bernhouse, for his part, considers the symbolism of 2001 and seems to reject it in a cynical look at Kubrick and Clarke smirking over supposed interpretations of the film. Slightly heavy-handed satire, this, but better reading than the average Space Odyssey review. He follows this with the thought that a Bob Dylan lp is like a Rorshock (sic) [that's a sic in the text, not a sic added by me, Mark] ink blot test -- both are created to stimulate a variety of interpretations. I would think, however that Dylan usually supplied one distinct meaning to any of his songs, with a variety of subsidiary views which could be considered, thus limiting the audience's choice of interpretations.
Diane Bangsund's editorial as light and simple introduction to herself with an account of her entry into fandom with John via ASFR -- another small piece of fan history, perhaps. John himself has a revised reprint from Canto 1 -- 'The Beheading of Basil Pott' -- a curious story which is humorous but only at an anecdotal level -- rather like a spoken word story written out. Too much verbiage, perhaps, for the content.
The fanzine review column and LoC-column reveal some of the conservatism Australia is renowned for, with attacks on New Worlds by such as Ron Graham ('... a cesspool of scrapings.'), and also brings out some second-hand thoughts by Leigh on the decline of British fandom (mostly, it would appear, on the strength of Phile 6 which, as Gray Charnock would readily admit, is hardly a guide to the state of fandom in the U.K.); there is also the expected bickering between Sydney and Melbourne fans.
Rataplan, the, functions primarily on the level of an Australian fanzine, whilst the general interests aspects suffer to a certain extent as a result. Rataplan must be considered successful, and since most fans are interested in what goes on elsewhere anyway, it's well worth taking a look at.
CRABAPPLE 7 (28pp)
Editor: Mary Reed, 5 Park Close, Longmeadow, Stevenage, Herts
Available for: Trade, LoC, contribution, 1/-.
Crabapple fanciers tell me that this issue is way below average, and even though I haven't seen any earlier ones, I must agree that this cannot be the fanzine about which I've heard so much. Mary herself apologises for the lack of a LoC-column and says lack of space meant "no locolumn or no Crabapple" -- so presumably Mary put out this seventh issue in a hurry or on a tight budget. Even so, the standard of the contributions is generally pretty poor, with only a few exceptions.
The largest piece is a six-page paraphrase of the story of Yudhishthira taken from Indian myth and heroic legend -- one of Mary Reed's favourite subjects. I should imagine that anyone interested in the subject should enjoy reading this, although I personally found it very heavy going and, despite several attempts, was unable to penetrate further than a few paragraphs... the layout doesn't help either, the pages being solid type -- marginless and packed tight; a forbidding prospect.
I did, however, read the following short story by Pam Storey -- 'The Day the Plants grew too High for their Pots'. The tale itself is as feeble as the title and is a particular disappointment after Pam's excellent piece in Badinage 4, 'The Poet'. 'The Day the Plants...' concerns an attack by household plants on a girl (rather like 'The Vengeance of the Great Amazon Creeper', only tamer), and reads like a horror story in a school magazine. Pitiful stuff.
The remainder of Crabapple is 'light-hearted', which is in many ways a sad misnomer, since Hertfordshire fandom 'light-heartedness' is usually very in-group, and also somewhat difficult to convey in print... Ramblin Jake's 'The Flight of the Dustbin' (in two parts) is an example of this difficulty -- it just isn't funny or even vaguely amusing. Similarly, Rob Hough's 'The Great Train Robbery or How to get Rid of Batman and Robin Without Really Trying' whose title demonstrates its level of humor.
The only thing that saves this issue of Crabapple from being of sub-crudzine level is the remaining assortment of odds and ends. There is a section called 'Laughter Is...' in which a variety of readers list the things they find or have found funny (this is in fact a regular feature -- next issue should contain 'Frustration Is...') and following this is one of two 'Fen About Crab' -- a short sort of autobiography by Gray Boak (Adj Cook contributes another one towards the end). Both pieces are interesting and entertaining, and Gray's other article ('One Possible Interpretation of Bob Dylan's Mr. Tambourine Man') is an intriguing paraphrase of the song's lyrics suggesting that Dylan is appealing for Death as the only answer to his world weariness... Entirely possible, I'd think. Finally there are the 'Odds and Ends' themselves -- various bits and pieces from newspapers, letters, and quotes from conversations -- some are highly esoteric, but then so is most of Crabapple anyway... they're generally amusing and that's what matters.
There's a general lack of artwork and the layout is very crowded, but the front cover by Dave Griffiths is certainly worthy of an honorable mention, even though the rest of the contents of Crabapple 7 are (with some already mentioned exceptions) definitely not.
Fear not though, everybody tells me that this is an off-issue, so I hope I can say with some assurance that Crabapple 8 will undoubtedly be far, far better...
GOTHIQUE 8 (24 pp)
Editors: Dave Griffiths & Stan Nicholls, 5 St.John's Wood Terrace, St.John's Wood, London N.W.8.
Available for: Trade, contribution, 2/6 plus postage (6d).
In the editorial remarks, Dave Griffiths and Stan Nicholls express their intention of widening Gothique's scope so that it features other media to the same extent as it features films; yet in this eighth issue as many as five out of the seven articles or reviews discuss the fantasy cinema, having said this, however, I'd like to make it clear that this in itself is by no means bad -- there are, after all, very few fanzines in Britain at the moment that concentrate on films in preference to books, and Gothique is undoubtedly able to find a considerable audience for this sort of material (Indeed at 1000, they claim Gothique to have the largest fnz circulation in the UK).
The eighth issue is the first to be completely professionally printed and Gothique's appearance is, as a result, extremely fine with impressive fantasy artwork by Brian Frost, David Britton, Moy Reed, and others, as well as numerous photographs to illustrate the text. As with the sister magazine, Stardock, the relative small page size prevents the full-page drawings from being as impressive as the offset litho technique would allow, but there is obvious ample compensation in improved reproduction.
The Gothique Film Society (see letter column) is now in its third season and Robin James puts forward its programme ("...the most varied and adventurous to date.") for 1968/69, followed by a well-illustrated report on the progress of the short underground film, Hex, which the Society hopes to include in the current season. Robin then delves into some rare, vanishing, and lost fantasy films, bemoaning the neglect which has led to the disintegration and destruction of many pre-war pictures. The article is interesting enough, but it is sometimes difficult to sympathize with the loss of something like the second version of The Phantom of the Opera of which Robin says "..it is undoubtedly down in motion picture history as one of the all-time 'greats'" I honestly doubt myself whether it would be on many people's lists of classics (and if it is, the fact that it is lost probably gives it a mystique which might disperse if the film was rediscovered.).
Stan Nicholls takes a look at the available books on 2001, including the collection Expedition to Earth, and suggests that they're an almost indispensable guide to the understanding of the symbolism of the film. Oh, but again I bring up the question of the division of interests between Stardock and Gothique. By publishing straight sf in Gothique, the editors are negating the opportunities which two magazines give them. At the moment both publications are too similar -- Stardock 1 might as well be named Gothique 9. Personally an sf/fantasy mixture doesn't worry me at all, but since the editors have created the division, they might as well stick to it.
Martin Walsh's review of Carnival of Souls reveals an intriguing film which has been unusually neglected. Unlike Robin James's somewhat fanatical appreciations of obscure fantasy pictures, Martin takes a more balanced view of the film and this is supported by an interview which follows between Matt Davidson and the director of Carnival of Souls, Harold "Herk" Harvey. Together they form an extremely interesting whole -- certainly the best thing in this issue.
Concluding Gothique 8 is a brief piece on fantasy and contemporary music -- from Bob Dylan to Arthur Brown and 'H.P.Lovecraft'. Of slight interest to the uninitiated, perhaps, but really Stan and Dave only provide an introduction to what could be a far longer and deeper article.
No letter column, which is a pity considering the circulation of the magazine, and this is one of the things that seem to prevent Gothique from being a fanzine proper. It has that semi-professional status which often leads to a feeling of alienation between reader and writer (a feeling that Vector is incredibly successful in maintaining, incidentally). The contents are undeniably good, however, and for the serious fantasy fan (especially the horror film fan) Gothique is ideal.
SCOTTISHE 50 (20pp)
Editor: Ethel Lindsay, Courage House, 6 Langley Avenue, Surbiton, Surrey.
U.S.Agent: Redd Boggs, Box 1111 Berkeley, Calif. 94701, U.S.A.
Available for: Trade, LoCs, 2/3 (4 for 8/-), 25¢ (4 issues for $1).
Scottishe is Britain's oldest surviving fanzine and is quite unlike anything else in the U.K. outside of OMPA, being a highly personal magazine almost entirely written by Ethel and centred around her natterings and the letter column.
The 50th issue is a welcome change from the previous few which have been entirely unexceptional, reaching a nadir with number 49 (although to judge from the LoCs, it was an issue which provoked comment). Ethel begins with some brief book reviews and an interesting look at Bug Jack Barron; I'd only quibble with the reasons she gives for being "bored" (emphatically not "shocked") by the constant repetition of the word 'fuck' in the dialogue -- Ethel likens it to the boredom she finds reading dialectal literature and says that it's as unnecessary as having every "Southern character's" "youall" given. I think, however, there is an appreciable difference between reproducing dialect words for local colour, and attempting to reproduce dialect intonation and pronunciation through some form of cumbersome phonetic spelling. It is the latter that is both boring and irritating -- the former I would have thought was fundamental to much literary character portrayal and description and Norman Spinrad's Californian slang comes into this former category.
The letter column which forms the centrepiece of this Scottishe is mostly very fine (though the editing was probably too severe -- it's hard to tell without having seen the original letters) and contains a particularly long and interesting piece by John Brunner with his thoughts on America and the American Dream.
Finally there are Ethel's 'Natterings' this time primarily concerned with Ted White's 'review' (and I use the word loosely) of Badinage 4 and 5 and the possible need for a history of UK fandom. I'd certainly disagree with Ethel's attempted defence of Ted White "on the grounds that he is reviewing from the perspective of fanzines that are of a high standard" -- had he saved his venom for Badinage that would be fair enough, but instead he attacked all Bristol fans,(and by implication the Majority of British fandom as well), personally, indiscriminately, and entirely negatively all on the basis of two issues of Badinage. The sheer pompous idiocy of this astounds me...
As to whether a UK Fan History is necessary -- well I for one would welcome it. But not as an aid to fanzine publishing -- reading about old fanzines is irrelevant to the contemporary fan editor. Even reading the fanzines themselves is of little help. Personally I've been influenced in my few publications by fanzines currently being published and to a certain extent by the 'New Wave' UK fanzines like Beyond, Zenith, and Phile. I've read through many of Archie Mercer's files of old magazines -- Hyphens, Apes, Bems, and Bastions -- but they are all concerned with a fandom which has passed and is gone -- their points of reference, both general, science-fictional, and fannish are entirely different from mine. I find them interesting, but mostly only as period pieces -- God forbid that any new UK faned should try and 'learn' from them...
Anyway, back to Scottishe 50 -- as you can see, it is the sort of magazine which provokes comment in an informal sort of way. If you like discussions, then this is fair enough (but be prepared to suffer dull issues along with the bright.). Scottishe is not the place, however, to look for detailed articles or even detailed reviews.
SON OF NEW FUTURIAN 2 (19pp)
Editor: Howard Rosenblum, 7 Grosvenor Park, Allerton Hill, Leeds 7.
Available for: Trade, Loc, contribution, 1/-.
There's really not very much to say about SoNF, either by way of praise or condemnation. It's a grey, somewhat timid sort of fanzine and both points are neatly emphasized in the pale Radagast cover -- half sf, half fantasy -- a figure divided down the middle, part space-suited, part cloaked; a good idea, but the man is lost in the greyness of the page...
Inside there is an uninspiring conglomeration of fiction and fact, faanish and sercon, all jumbled together and with every little space filled with 'Yeuch' -- an attempt to emulate Crabapple's 'Odds and Ends' but an attempt which can be largely traced to Denys Parsons' several volumes of newspaper misprints and oddities.
Bryn Fortey has a fairly average story, 'From the Bottom', which is well enough written, but is based on a pretty nondescript plot and weak idea. Nevertheless, it compares well with Jake Stevens' 'Ceresian Commuter' -- a poorly written (I bet Jake is a science student...) piece based on an even weaker idea, and an idea that's supposed to be humorous as well.
Finally, there's a very short article on simple biological life by the editor himself, entitled 'In the Beginning' -- but it's very difficult to see the point of this short summary; it's neither for the biologist nor the layman -- judge from this quote:
"Other organelles, like the nucleus, have been formed by the gradual infolding of the membrane into the cytoplasm, to give a greater surface area for the absorption of food and oxygen. This has resulted in the formation of the endoplasmic reticulum, nuclear membrane, and the Galgi apparatus." Hurrah!
There are reviews (of 2001 of course), a page of verse, a very short letter column, and a reprint of part of the 'Ring Cycle' -- about the most entertaining thing in this issue...
As I said at the beginning of the review, SoNF 2 is not a bad fanzine, just very mediocre; at the moment Howard seems to belong to the publish-whatever-I'm-given group and the natural result of this policy (or lack of same) is a hodge-podge of unconnected oddments. SoNF doesn't have to be like this though, perhaps the next issue will see a change. -- Any sort of change would do...
SPECULATION 19 (66pp)
Editor: Peter R.Weston, 81 Trescott Road, Northfield, Birmingham 31.
Available for: Trade, contribution, 2/6 (35¢ or 3 issues for $1).
This nineteenth issue marks the fifth year of Speculation (nee Zenith) and also helps confirm the widely held opinion that Pete Weston now edits the best science-fiction fanzine, not only in Britain, but in the entire English-speaking world. That emphasis on "science-fiction" fanzine is entirely intentional, sinceSpeculation is centred firmly on the science fiction field -- and the contemporary sf field at that (unlike -- say -- Riverside Quarterly which (as Norman Spinrad says) "has yet to discover the year 1960").
Speculation 19 contains two particularly impressive articles -- 'Brian W.Aldiss: A Man in his Time' by Richard Gordon and 'The Michael Moorcock Column', hurriedly tacked onto the end of the magazine. A worthwhile study of Aldiss's work has been long overdue, and even though Richard Gordon begins his article with The Dark Light Years, there is enough substance and critical depth within it to satisfy most sf readers (although conversely it might well generate other articles and critiques, either based on, or opposed to Richard's analysis). Some of the conclusions arrived at are distinctly arguable (even if frequent quotes and comments by Brian Aldiss himself appear to back them up...): "...I believe that (the books and short stories) mentioned particularly represent his interests and his changing attitude towards writing; towards a particularly cerebral attitude to the world's problems, viewed in a generally pessimistic fashion." I know that's lifted right out of context, but it does show that Richard Gordon believes pessimism to be inherent in most of Aldiss's recent work -- just one of several debatable points in the article, which I can only repeat is of very great interest.
Mike Moorcock writes "a very indulgent piece indeed" for the first part of his Speculation column, in which he describes how he became involved with sf in general and New Worlds in particular. His narration of the events surrounding the inception and continuation of the "new" New Worlds is of exceptional interest and provokes some wonder as to how the magazine (and indeed its editor) managed to survive at all, let alone so successfully (in terms of content and production). Mike Moorcock concludes with the hope that: "I might have given you an insight also into why I've always felt that most 'Golden Age' sf doesn't satisfy me, that life isn't as simple as the old sf seems to suggest, that easy answers aren't possible, although simple answers are often arrived at after a considerable time spent investigating the complications." He does indeed give an insight into his feelings and motives for writing, editing, and publishing, as well as present an intriguing account of the struggle New Worlds has had for survival. Again, an article of very great interest.
The remainder of Speculation is composed almost entirely of reviews and comment, with the exception of Tim Hildebrand's mildly interesting report on The Secondary Universe -- a conference held at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee which dealt with sf and fantasy and featured speakers such as Judith Merril and Samuel Delany. The reviews are divided into several sections; 'The Critical Front' which contains: lengthy reviews of A Torrent of Faces, The Final Programme, Bug Jack Barron, The Reproductive System, ,Neutron Star, and Heinlein in Dimension -- all deserve comment, but I obviously haven't the space; shorter reviews are given in 'Speculation Book Guide', as well as listings of new releases; F.M.Busby attempts to review the U.S. professional magazines in. 'The Plough Ploughed Under'; and finally readers themselves furnish comments in 'Melting Pot', the letter column (and I might add that the LoCs include a large number from pro-authors, although no particular preference seems to be given their letters (which, of course, is commendable)...).
Speculation sometimes becomes bogged down in a morass of reviews which swamp the reader (in marshy metaphors, if nothing else); but the nineteenth issue is particularly well-balanced and more than well-worth the 2/6 asked for it.
ALPDRUCK 5 (14pp) In German.
Editor: Hans Joachim Alpers: 285 Bremerhaven.1., Weissenburger Str. 6. Germany
Available for: Trade, LOC, contribution.
Distributed through: FAN 21st mlg.
This is Hans' twenty-fifth publication, his most notable being the German SF Times, and is also the first to be produced by photo-offset printing (his previous fanzines were spirit duplicated). This obviously facilitates illustration and layout, and both are managed quite well -- photos of Hitler, a laurel-wreathed-Kaiser (bearing the splendid legend -- "Ich konne keine Parteien mehr -- Ich kenne nur noch Deutsche."), a couple of 'girlie pix' (ugh!), and the comic-strip heroine Pravda, enhance the pages of Alpdruck 5.
Hans begins with a listing of his 25 fanzines and then pens an editorial in which he criticizes the German apa FAN for being devoid of any personal magazines and for avoiding the discussions on which it is based and for which it was founded. This often seems to be the case with some English-speaking apas, where members contribute large genzines to the mailings and forget or neglect the personal comments and arguments which should be fundamental to any amateur publishing group. However, Hans' proposed solution to the problem (that members of FAN should only vote in waiting-listers who have shown themselves to be actively interested in politics -- whether general or fannish is not too clear) sounds far too dictatorial (and from what I know of FAN, gleaned from an elderly copy of Pantheon, it's already fairly exclusive already -- a point of which I don't approve). As Hans admits, you shouldn't lay down any rules as to what fans can or should publish in apas -- it's simply up to the individual.
Reinhard Merker contributes a lengthy article on the Catholic Church -- a critical view thereof, and the remainder of the magazine is made up of several LoCs (an interesting one supporting Hans' views by Gerhard Gadow) and a selection of quotes and snippets from fanzines.
Altogether an interesting enough, though not outstanding fanzine (although of a high standard when compared to other apazines). Fancy trying out your German...?
CEPHEUS 1 (7pp) In English.
Editor: Robert Wantke, 45 Osnabrück, Ertmanstr. 14, Germany.
Available for: LOC, interest.
Robert Wantke's aims in publishing Cepheus are threefold: firstly to provide information and news about sf and fandom in Germany; secondly to form contacts between US, British, or Australian fans and German fans, and thirdly to advertise Heicon 70.
Robert's information is all to be found in the German SF Times and Fan Kourier (to which he gives credit), but obviously its being in English makes it more readily available to his audience, although much of it is duplicated in Jean Muggoch's European Link. There is, however, considerable room for expansion here, since European Link is restricted in its space and reporting, whilst Cepheus, concerned only with news from Gerfandom, could go into greater detail and perhaps even feature translations of articles from German fanzines (not necessarily restricted to fannish events, of course), like Sol used to do and Heckmeck continues to.
Cepheus 1 itself is extremely brief (although the editor is extravagant with his paper) and consists of a page of news, a competition, and some notes on the Helicon. Robert says that it might, turn out to be just a one-shot -- obviously it'd be a great shame if it was. After all, it's not an easy job to put out a magazine to an unknown audience in a foreign language. I only hope Cepheus gets the encouragement it deserves; it could evolve into something of great interest to all fans everywhere.
SCIENCE FICTION TIMES 89 and 90 (66pp & 80pp respectively) In German.
Editor: Hans Joachim Alpers, 2850 Bremerhaven 1, Weissenburger Str. 6.
Available for: Trade, DM 7.50 for 12 issues.
As its name implies, SF Times is concerned almost entirely with the sf and fantasy field, as opposed to fandom itself and its monthly schedule allows full coverage of the field in Germany as well as news and reviews from abroad.
Both issues start off with detailed lists of new and forthcoming books in Germany (including the East, Switzerland, and Austria) followed by news of current films on general release. There are several pages of information about sf-books, magazines, films, tv, radio, conventions, and so on -- from England, America, Australia, Holland, Roumania, West Germany, Italy, and East Germany. This, to me, is the most absorbing regular feature in SF Times and always contains a wealth of fresh information (even about sf in the U.K. -- a sad commentary on the state of newszines in Britain...) Hans Alpers also takes a brief look at some recent German fanzines.
The bulk of both issues is taken up with lengthy reviews of new German books, both translated and original, as well as reviews of the available U.S. prozines. As with the Speculation reviews, I could delve into these in greater depth, but unfortunately I can't afford the space in this issue...
SF Times is now completely printed in offset, and although number 89 is pretty messy (due to experimentation with the new machine), later issues are perfectly legible.
This is a fine magazine for anyone really interested in international and particularly European sf, and is certainly well worth taking a good look at.
A BLEEDING ROSE 3 (38pp) Reviewed by Bryn Fortey.
Editor: Michel Barnes, 1716 Summerlane SE, Decatur, Alabama 35601, USA.
Available for: Trade, LoCs, contributions, 25¢.
This is the first of this particular fanzine I have seen. It appears that previous issues have been "mainly a review of poetry and other areas". Number three is described as an experiment -- "while still being a journal of poetry it will also be an original creation in itself." The result is a rambling, untidy fanzine, but the contents make it well worth exploring. Unless you are a strictly sf fan -- there isn't any in A Bleeding Rose 3.
A large portion of the zinc is devoted to poetry, and this is one field of literature into which I feel totally inadequate to venture with written criticisms. Poetry is such a personal thing, and I am anything but knowledgeable.
However, 'Ego Id' by Thomas E. Fuller impressed me considerably, as did many of the editor's own stream of consciousness poems, particularly the long 'Pinnacle Knight'.
Other poems are by Dalzell (a pseudonym), Mike Maharakis, Douglas Reardon (President and only member of the local Fat People's Society around the Decatur area), Ed Reed, and Jan Jurgenson (known as Janjas).
'Scarlet Letters', Michel Barnes' back-of-the-zine editorial, provides more of his stream of consciousness; as he says -- it's his bag. This, for me, says all that Mark Breitbart failed to in his 'American Comment' in Mor-farch 2. To me, an outsider, a very thought provoking view of the American Way of life.
English fandom is represented by Tom Jones with an experimental piece entitled 'If They'd Only Let Me Cry' -- a mixture of prose and poetry that is as good as anything I've read from this writer's pen.
One short story is present, yet another contribution from the editor himself. 'Places Where We Belong' is an incident set at a County Health Centre in what I take to be a typical Southern town. A negro family is leaving as a white family arrives. Yes, a colour-bar theme, and told in a hard hitting, strong style that I found perfect for the subject matter. And the forceful dialogue rang a true note, for a change. This is very, very good.
Also present is an excellent article, 'The Case for Sexual Privacy' by B.A.Johnstone, which discusses in length the existing and proposed relationships between law and sex.
Celeste Geron provides a record review -- Rotary Connections by the group of the same name. I'm unfamiliar with their work, so cannot comment.
Michel Barnes completes his own massive involvement with his zine's contents by reviewing two books in a competent, if lengthy manner.
When I first saw this publication's editorial address, I was rather apprehensive: Alabama! The very name conjures pictures and images not to my liking. But I read what was offered and I'm glad I did. That Alabama has produced a person of Michel Barnes' outlook, and the fact that he is willing to state his views in print, gives me hope. I can recommend A Bleeding Rose wholeheartedly as a fanzine deserving of serious attention.
EN GARDE 5 (87pp)
Editor: Richard Schultz; 19159 Helen, Detroit, Mich. 48234, USA.
Available for: Trade, LoC, contribution, 70¢ (this issue only).
En Garde is a fanzine devoted almost entirely to the television series, The Avengers. Each to his own, but personally I'm not too happy about the sort of fanatical mania which can produce 85 or so pages (and this is the fifth issue) on one highly commercial melodrama which is second-rate mass entertainment by any standard -- there's just not that much to it. I used to watch The Avengers three or four years ago, but as a programme produced for the export market, it was forced to abnegate its standards in order to appeal to as many foreign buyers as possible; it was never comparable with such spy/detective series as, for example, The Man in Room 17 or even Softly, Softly.
As a result, I'm afraid much of En Garde remains unread by me; nonetheless there are listings of Avengers programmes (with cast and synopsis) as seen on tv in America and also a large collection of clippings from various newspapers and magazine about the series -- heavy going even for a fan, I should have thought. Dennis Kawicki gives an edited transcript of one particular show -- 'Dead Man's Treasure' illustrated with some 16 photos taken by Dick Schultz from his tv set.
Other articles and reprints examine The Avengers or comment on Diana Rigg's departure from the series, but amongst all this there are several other pieces which do make En Garde of interest to the 'outsider'.
A reprint from Encounter, 'Tassels and Other Gadgets' by David Sylvester, in which he describes the morality of current spy films and tv dramas, has several thoughtful sections of critical interpretation, though unfortunately my copy has a couple of pages missing. Richard Schultz writes a review cum commentary on the BBC's film of the Royal Shakespeare Company's Comedy of Errors (starring Diana Rigg as Adriana, no less) and his appreciation is generally entertaining. Having read both Shakespeare's and Plautus's original, I must confess that I by far prefer the latter which, unlike The Comedy of Errors, manages to retain a feeling of originality even though the theme has been used and re-used throughout the dividing centuries. The Comedy of Errors is not a great play (its main distinction lies in the fact that it is the only play in which Shakespeare makes any reference to America) and I'd ascribe the success of this production almost entirely to the RSC actors who could transform any mediocre play into something outstanding.
En Garde's letter column has a distinctly one track mind, but it shows that there are plenty of fans who rate The Avengers highly and Dick tells us that his circulation has now reached 600. The editorial has been cut down because of lack of space and consists mainly of adverts for Avengers material. The illustrations, by the way, range from the very fine to distressingly poor, but there are plenty of them as well as several publicity photos from the series.
Unless, like me, you receive it in trade, En Garde isn't worth the price asked (and fairly too) for the few non-Avengers items within. If however, you are an Avengers fan, then here are 87 pages of enjoyment at less than one cent per page...
SIRRUISH 7 (74pp)
Editor: Leigh Couch, Route 2, Box 889, Arnold Missouri, 63010, USA.
Available for: Trade, Loc, contributions, 35¢ (3 issues for $1)
"Sirruish is a large, unexceptionable, and strangely pale fanzine." -- a rather harsh comment there by Redd Boggs, but one which certainly contains more than a grain of truth. Sirruish is a very plain, ordinary (for the U.S. at least) magazine with many excellent items amongst its pages, but nothing of the cohesiveness and vigour of -- say -- SF Review (all right, Psychotic), Shangri L'Affaires, or even Trumpet. It's rather like that other large Cymry publication, Quark, which contains a lot, but doesn't somehow gather it together...
Sirruish is the official publication of the Ozark SF Association and Leigh Couch starts the magazine off with a quick run-through of some of the members of OSFA -- guaranteed to gratify the members themselves, but interesting enough anyway, even to a complete outsider.
The fiction in this issue is of varying quality, but quite honestly none of it is likely to astound or delight readers in any way; Don D'Atassa's 'Dreamsprite' is as well written as most of his other published shorts, but has a pretty indifferent plot with an uplifting, we-must-face-reality conclusion that is somewhat trite; it's far, far superior to Hank Davis's 'Safe and Sound', however, and I suppose this latter might be termed a Feghoot, but if it is one it's exceedingly poor (as opposed to wonderfully bad)... Finally Edward V. Dong offers his 'C for Cop and Computer' -- competently written, but boring with it. Of more interest than the fiction is Sirruish's poetry, the outstanding items being Roger Zelazny's 'Moonsong' and 'Dim', although Jim Reuss's 'Chrysalis' is also very fine, if slight.
Two articles in Sirruish 7 -- a straightforward look at a forgotten piece of sf history, Harry Warner Jr's 'Who Was Phil Stong?' (for the intrigued, he compiled an early sf anthology) and, a humorous piece of 'Gaelic Spleen' from Jack Gaughan in which he describes some of the many trials and tribulations of a professional illustrator -- good.
The letter column is unenlivening with the exception of a long Ted White piece -- a good fan writer undoubtedly, if an exceedingly irritating one. The artwork is above average (mostly) and there are two good sections -- 'Sketches from NyCon 3' by Mike Gilbert, and 'Super Nonsense' (including Chickenman, Rabbitman, Skeletonman in his everyday disguises) by Jack Gaughan.
Finally there are some mediocre book reviews and a massive list of fanzines received with some comments by Leigh -- I myself found this very useful, and it's a pity that it's not to appear in future issues.
There it is then, a large and generally interesting accumulation of fact, fiction, poetry, and art gathered between two covers and presented as a magazine. Of course, I realize that there are a great many standards by which a fanzine can be judged, but I'm now comparing Sirruish to other large U.S. group-zines and in comparison it falls rather flat. If I judged it by the standards of -- say -- the average U.K. fanzine, it would shine brilliantly... However, I certainly look forward to seeing future issues, and I know I'll always be able to find several things of particular interest -- perhaps I shouldn't ask for anything more.
TRUMPET 8 (45pp)
Editor: Tom Reamy, 6400 Forest Lane, Dallas, Texas 75230, USA.
Available for: Trade, contributions, published LoCs, 60¢ (5 issues for $2.50 -- foreign: $3.00).
Trumpet has, I think, the great distinction of being the only fanzine I have ever given money for and I don't think I wasted my pennies either... this is the finest fanzine that I've yet seen in terms of appearance and presentation and this eighth issue is the most impressive so far (how long can they keep on improving?). The cover is nothing less than a multicoloured photoprinted Jeff Jones barbarian -- a stunning way to start any fanzine...The interior artwork is also exceptional, with a pseudo-comic strip by Vaughn Bode, 'Bode's Machines:' (though the 'dumb' dialogue is irritating after a short while -- "I think dat dat..." etc), a folio by Stan Taylor, 'Walden's Pond', which could be described as an illustrated Animal Farm, and plenty of other fine cartooning and illustration. The only exception is a strip called 'Og' which is so totally devoid of imagination, humour, or ability that it leads to puzzled speculation as to its purpose...
The trouble with having such excellent presentation is, of course, that it's difficult to prevent the actual material in the fanzine from being inferior in comparison, and unfortunately this is partially the case with Trumpet.
Tom Reamy and Alex Eisenstein both present editorials and these are probably the most interesting items in this issue. Tom comments first on the growing backlog of material for Trumpet (envy) and makes several suggestions for the future of the magazine (incidentally the next issue should be a Hannes Bok special); he then takes issue with Ted White over the latter's statement that Worldcons are for sf fans, and that sub-fandom should not expect the programme to be tailored to them (film fans had been complaining about the total lack of pictures at Nycon 3) -- as Tom says, however, they should have part of the programme suited to their sub-fandom, especially as these fringe-fans (film, horror, comic, etc) now outnumber true-blue sf fans at conventions. Finally Tom Reamy takes a look at what the reviewers have been saying about 2001 -- I'll delve no further into that. Alex Eisenstein also devotes part of his editorial to 2001 and the reviewers (specifically Frederick Pohl in Galaxy), but spends a good part of his time discussing the Hugos and the re-introduction of the 'novelet' category plus a new 'novella' award -- personally I thought the two terms were interchangeable, so apparently did Alex. He also examines the Australian ballot system and demonstrates its weaknesses (particularly the near-impossibility of the Hugo being withheld in certain categories...).
Outside of the editorials, however, the written materiel is not so impressive (although as with Sirruish, the standards differ).H.H. Hollis has an article on space law 'Pierheads in Space', taken from a speech made at the 1968 SouthWestercon; as a result it is too rambling and full of side-tracks, although interesting enough if you can struggle through it (Space law already exists in the shape of Admiralty law, he suggests). Andrew Offutt (in lower case -- yawn) has a regularly uninteresting column, 'CPCC', and this one on hypnosis is patronizing as well. Dan Bates also has a column, this one on films (Point Blank, the 5th New York Film Festival, and others) -- sadly I haven't space to comment, but it's above average in content.
Finally there's an excellent letter column, 'Persiflage', a detailed selection of fanzine reviews in Alex Eisenstein's 'Compost Heap', and a very brief autobiographical piece by the artist Hollis Williford in 'Trumpet People'.
This isn't the best fanzine around, but it's certainly one of the top ones. You could do a lot worse than take a look at it... a lot worse.
WARHOON 24 (62pp)
Editor: Richard Bergeron, 11 East 68th St., New York City, NY 10021, USA.
Available for: Trade, LoC, contribution, 60¢.
Distributed through: FAPA 124th mailing (I think).
Warhoon has a strong sense of nostalgia within it, not merely because of the resurrected BNFs who contribute, but also because of the content of some of their contributions, and, indeed, Richard Bergeron's editorial. Contrasting with this, however, are thorough examinations of the contemporary sf field, and the two sides of Warhoon form a curious mixture.
Strangely enough, one of the subjects covered in the editorial is just the opposite to the state of affairs in Warhoon -- Robert Lowndes' Famous SF where there is nostalgic sf coupled with modern fannish news -- Richard Bergeron speculates on whether the publication might become a "semi-fan prozine"... He then offers (amongst many reminiscences)several rare fanzines to the highest bidder, following this with a brief piece centred around the truism "An artist who does not risk disaster; that is, one who is not exploring new areas of experience and new aesthetic solutions is a dead artist whether he knows it or not." He then applies this to sf, and seems to imply that sf writers aren't "risking disaster"... Read any New Worlds lately? (And you can take that in any way you like!). Finally Richard suggests that "Hyphen is alive and well in Warhoon, it seems.", probably true, since Bob Shaw and Walt Willis are contributors, and Harry Warner Jnr is writing about Irish Fandom... Nostalgia is further evoked in 'The Cosy Universe' wherein Bob Shaw examines the differences between reading sf as a teenager (when he felt 'at home' amongst the standard descriptions of planets and stars) and reading it now (when the descriptions have been proved false) -- actually the difference probably lies, as Bob suggests, simply in the age of the reader... More nostalgia and fan-history from Harry Warner Jnr's 'A Wealth of Fable' -- strives a little too hard for 'clever' word twisting, however, and it shows. Yet more reminiscing in the letter column (moist-eyed, hoary old fen happily listing their Top Ten fanzines), in the Mailing Comments, and 'Remember Hyphen?' fillers (Remember? We're never ever allowed to forget -- even if it was long before our time!).
Warhoon's 'serious' side thunders out in massive articles like Walter Breen's interpretative nine-page 'look' at 2001, 'The Blown Mind On Film', followed by James Blish's '2001: A Note on the Music'. Robert Lowndes's column, 'Aufgoknöpt', deals with the question "of whether or not Knowledge is in itself a form of evil..." and deals with it very well. Ted White contributes nine pages of 'Reflections on Dangerous Visions', and this is only the first part... Echoes of this heavy thunder are naturally to be found in the letter column (discussions on Walter Breen's earlier article on Philip Dick) as well as Richard's FAPA Mailing Comments (which, by the way, make enjoyable reading).
The only link between the two sides is Walt Willis's column, 'The Harp That Once Or Twice', in which he writes about an exceptionally curious author named Flann O'Brien (the thought that this is a hoax is averted by a solemn declaration to the contrary at the end); of particular interest, anyway.
Despite its dual nature, Warhoon is an excellent fanzine and I wish I'd seen 2001, read Dangerous Visions, or heard of Flann O'Brien so that I could review it somewhat more thoroughly... Anyway, along with Trumpet it's one of the top few fan publications, and (unlike Trumpet) you can always be sure of an impressive standard of writing; what with Richard Bergeron's psychedelic covers, what more could you ask for...
THE WASHINGTON SF ASSOCIATION JOURNAL 60 (38pp)
Editor: Don Miller, 12315 Judson Rd., Wheaton, Maryland 20906, USA.
Available for: Trade, LoC, contribution, 35¢ (3 for $1, 7 for $2, 12/$3)
Having, as it does, a monthly schedule, The WSFA Journal is primarily a large newszine with several articles added to the regular news and reviews columns.
Doll Gilliland examines fanzines received with a certain amount of comment and criticism (nearly all kind!), but mostly contenting herself with running through the contents. Banks Mebane's 'Magazine Mortuary' is described by the author as "a sort of consumer's guide from the viewpoint of one consumer." -- nothing objectionable about that policy in itself, except that Banks Mehane only comments (and very briefly too) on stories he likes. But since the selection is already done for you, the guide is meaningless unless you are Banks' mental double -- it leaves you without any references. Alexis Gilliland's book reviews, on the other hand, are competent enough and informative, as is the SF Book Club review by David Halterman. There are other regular features dotted around: a listing of some new pb releases; club news; WSFA Business section; convention news (including a piece on Heicon 70 by U.S. Agent, Fred Lerner) and 'Odds and Ends' -- miscellaneous news.
So much for the WSFA Journal in general. In the 60th issue, the centrepiece is Jay Kay Klein's 'Disclave 68' report. JKK is well-known for his excellent con photography and the collections of photos he publishes after each convention. This report is part personal, part general programme reportage and it's difficult to link the two sides together without spoiling one or the other. There is the normal amount of name dropping essential to a good report, but unfortunately the recital of various amusing incidents, conversations, and situations loses a great deal in the retelling.
'The Borrowed Bear' is a fine little confession by Thomas Burnett Swann in which he discloses that the greatest influence on his fiction is not, as one might suppose, Mary Renault (whom he admires greatly none the less), but of all people A.A.Milne and Winnie-the-Pooh in particular.
Alexis Gilliland takes a cynical look at the U.S. gun laws and suggests that it would be better for the race as well as the black minorities if they remained as absurd as they are. Unfortunately it may well be true...
For a newszine, then, The WSFA Journal succeeds quite well; its emphasis on a monthly schedule prevents it from being anything more, but then the sum total of a year's work may amount to the equivalent in larger quarterly fanzines. Whatever it is, it's interesting and that really is all that a publication should be...
Some of the comments received
Beryl Mercer, 10 Lower Church Lane, St.Michael's, Bristol, BS2 8BA.
threate promised, here's my two-penn'orth. In his review of Phile 7, Greg Pickersgill writes: "Gray Charnock's reviewing cannot be faulted. Unlike a lot of fanzine review artists, this character knows what he is talking about, and also has the ability to put it across on paper." Of course he knows what he is talking about. He's a faned. He's been through all the sweat of coaxing contribs and artwork out of other fen. He knows the labour of stencil-cutting, the cursing as he applies corflu; he's experienced the grind of churning out copies on the duper, collating, stapling, and mailing out. He's discovered, as all faneds do, that he can't expect to break even on the expenses of producing a fanzine, let alone make any profit. He's sent out copies of his zines to people who never even acknowledge receipt, let alone pay or trade or loc.
"The present Phile," announces Greg, "is worth only a fraction of the 2/- being extorted for it." If Greg had ever got around to producing a fanzine instead of just talking about it and then changing his mind, he would know that Gray still won't break even -- he wouldn't even if all the people who received copies of Phile 7 paid up.
I suppose that if I criticize, on the same basis, Greg's review of Badinage 5 (60 pages for 1/6!) I shall be accused of grinding a personal axe. Let me say at once that if Greg had expressed his opinions in a letter of comment, either to Badinage itself or to some other fanzine, I would have stoutly defended his right to his own opinions. What I am querying here is the right of a non-faned to pen an 'official' review, when as yet he has absolutely no idea of the work and difficulties and expense involved.
You may ask, does that mean that all book-reviewers must be professional authors, all theatre critics playwrights, etc.? Not at all. Professional art-forms are produced principally for money; authors and playwrights write for a living, and therefore if their stuff is no good, they don't eat. If their books don't sell or their plays are flops, only the critics and the public can tell them why. Faneds produce fanzines as a hobby, and are therefore entitled to include material which suits their tastes. If readers don't like it, they're entitled to say so -- in letters. If other faneds don't like it, they can point out where, in their opinion, the erring faned went wrong. The e.f. doesn't Lave to take any notice if he doesn't want to, though, because his zine is a fun-thing. It doesn't have to pay his rent or fill his larder.
Now I suppose you'll say that at least Greg's reviews have got a loc out of me -- the Mercer who never has time to loc fanzines these days.
And so, as the satellite sinks slowly in the south, I return, muttering moodily, to the processing of BSFA renewals (hint, hint), and drinking what You Lot left of the sherry last Saturday ...
Mike Glicksohn, 87 Bedford Rd., Toronto 5, Ontario, Canada.
I'm sorry my history of the OSFIC club didn't go over with Mr.Fortey, but I expected a strongly mixed reaction when I decided to try that style. And if you think it is difficult to read such a style, I assure you the problems of writing and stencilling such material are far, far greater than you might expect. I considered the assignment a challenge and an experiment and I was pleased with the result, The LoCs on HaM 6 seem to indicate that others at least noticed the piece, and several favourable comments were received. However, while your reviewer is certainly entitled to his own preference in written material, I strongly question his judgement re fanzine reviewing. I may not have seen all the fanzines currently being produced, but I do have a knowledge of a fairly wide spectrum of types and qualities of fanzines and I fail to see any reason why I should recommend a crudzine just because there may be an even worse crudzine around. I chose to review several better zines because I feel that fans should try and get the best material around, and I reviewed Ecco 4 to warn fans away from what, to me, was a zine of practically no merit at all. The fact that Mr. Fortey has only read Ecco of the zines I reviewed suggests to me that it is he, not I, who should rebalance his critical standards. When you've never tasted caviar, shit tastes quite good. To my mind, it would have been bad taste to have given a good review to something that I thought was garbage, in fact it would have been a betrayal of my responsibility as a reviewer. A hatchet job? Perhaps, but faneds do stick their necks out when they send review copies of their zines, and it's the job of the reviewer to let the axe fall where it should according to his own standards.
Bryn Fortey, 90 Caerleon Rd., Newport, Mon., NPT 7BY.
When Peter Roberts decided to put out a sample copy of Checkpoint he asked me to review the Canadian fanzine Hugin and Munin 6. This, poor innocent that I was, I did. A while later he sent me the above extract from Mike Glicksohn's LoM (letter of moaning), and invited me to answer his answer. This, poor innocent that I still appear to be, I am doing.
As is often the case when a very annoyed person dips his pen in vitriol, Mike's moans stray from the facts. To correct his errors I am obliged to include a few quotes. For example, he says -- "I fail to see any reason why I should recommend a crudzine..." Nowhere in my review did I suggest that he should recommend Ecco 4, I merely suggested that the issue was nowhere as bad as he indicated. Further on Glicksohn states -- "I chose to review several better zines because I feel that fans should try and get the best material around." His 'several' zines totalled three in all -- Osfic, Cry, and Fantasy News. What a wonderfully woolly term 'several' is, especially when used to imply a greater total than the facts bear out. Then -- "The fact that Mr.Fortey has only read Ecco 4 of the zines I reviewed suggests to me that it is he, not I, who should rebalance his critical standards." I could claim to have read the 3 zines concerned, but I'll stick to the truth and admit that they remain unknown to me -which is why I made no comment concerning them in my review. I don't receive every fan publication put out. Nowhere near, but, like my opponent, I do get a pretty representative selection.
Mr.Glicksohn, I at no time suggested you should recommend anything you felt did not deserve it. Recommendations are the reviewer's personal decisions. I did, however, accuse you of bad taste and committing an unjustified hatchet job; these accusations I stand by.
You yap about your responsibility as a reviewer. Well it's not to be destructive, and you were. If you believe a zine to be poor, say so by all means, but don't crucify the issue with the type of ill-mannered attack you exhibited in the case under discussion. Temper your acute criticism with tolerance. You will be a better reviewer for it.
With regard to caviar and shit, I bow to your superior knowledge. I've never tasted either, but you obviously have.
And after all this I'll probably learn that Mr.Glicksohn is planning a British visit soon!
Other letters came from Archie Mercer, Pete Weston, Richard Labonte, John Hall, Ed Reed, Joanne Burger, and many others. Stan Nicholls pointed out that Gothique has no direct link with the Gothique Film Society. Sincerely sorry not to be able to print these letters -- no space, no space! Next issue will appear....sometime. Thanks to all; glad to hear from you.