21st April 1973
Checkpoint 36 is the second annish of a news and reviews zine published by Peter Roberts, 87 West Town Lane, Bristol, BS4 5DZ, UK. Subs are 10/40p (2nd class & Europe) and 6/$1, 8/A$1, or 8/R1 (foreign airmail). Sample copy is free, but this issue is 8p – to you (if you're at the OMPAcon) it's 5p.
Agents: (USA) Charlie & Dena Brown, 3400 Ulloa St, San Francisco, Ca.94116; (Aus) Robin Johnson, 4039, Melbourne, Vic. 3001; (RSA) Nick Shears, 52 Garden Way, Northcliff 4, Johannesburg, Transvaal.
Cartoons this issue are by John D.Berry. Contributors: Eric Bentcliffe, Stan Nuttall, Keith Walker, Keith & Jill Bridges, Dave Rowe, Pete Wilde, Ian Williams, Ken Cheslin, Brian Robinson, and hopefully some deadline-pushers.
Restormel Press Publication: 81.
POOR RELATION: The annual Locus poll arrived this morning and, to put it mildly I feel rather overshadowed. Checkpoint, I should quickly note, is still nowhere near the American newszine in circulation figures (and with no access to an electric duplicator, I'm quite happy for it to stay that way). Still, I've managed to keep going another year and the support from readers & subscribers slowly increases. My thanks to you all.
The subscriber breakdown is as follows:
In addition there are some twenty fans receiving 'free' copies (agenting, trading, &c) on a regular basis and a varying number who receive occasional copies. Average circulation is 90-100. After subscriptions (plus review book sales, &c) are deducted from costs (postage, paper, stencils, &c), Checkpoint makes a small loss – usually under 50p per issue, though this one will be more... Heigh ho.
Twenty four people voted in this, the second British Fan Poll since the days of Skyrack; twenty five people voted last year. The Poll covered British fanzines from Easter 1972 to (almost) Easter 1973, the second year of Checkpoint's publication. All fans were eligible to vote, though the majority (18) were Checkpoint subscribers; not all attempted every category, however.
The following fans voted: Harry Bell, Dave Bendelow, Eric Bentcliffe, Gray Boak, Keith Bridges, Ian Butterworth, Lisa Conesa, Ed Connor (US), Richard Cotton, Malcolm Edwards, James Goddard, Robert Jackson, Terry Jeeves, Ethel Lindsay, Ian Maule, Philip Payne, John Piggott, Henry Pijohn, Dave Piper, Julien Raasveld (Bel), Dave Rowe, Brian Temple, Keith Walker, & Ian Williams.
BEST BRITISH FANZINE: Eighteen different titles were nominated, fifteen of which received more than one vote. Five points were awarded to top place, four to the second, and so on down to one point for fifth place. Checkpoint itself was ineligible. Last year's position is in brackets.
1) EGG (68 points) (1st) Edited by Peter Roberts, 87 West Town Lane, Bristol, BS4 5DZ. (15p, trade, LoC, &c). Two issues eligible (1972-3). After last year's clear victory, Egg only just managed to stave off the opposition this time (thanks largely, it must be admitted, to a very recent issue). Egg however, has contained regular columns from the top three British writers and has made use of artwork by the top three British fanartists, so its placing at the head of the poll is not, I trust, mere whim! Egg is a fannish fanzine and the journal of Aardvark Fandom; the sixth issue appeared last Autumn and contained columns from Ian Williams (on fannish occupations), John Brosnan (Ratfandom meets the powers behind New Worlds), and Gray Beak (a Kaleidoscope mixture). Sam Long also contributed a filk song, but the bulk of the issue was made up of letters, a separate section given over to reactions on the politicization of fandom (following an article in Egg 5). The cover was by Dave Rowe and interior illustrations were by Dave, Harry Bell, Terry Jeeves, Bob Rickard, Alistair Noyle, and John D. Berry. The seventh issue came out in March of this year; Gray Boak was revealed to be a hoax created by Herts fandom, Ian Williams recalled a visit to the Globe, John Brosnan described the problems of living in a one-man ghetto, and Eric Bentcliffe wrote an article on the merits of being 'one of those sci-fi nuts'. The letter column and Eggitorial continued as usual and artwork came from John Richardson (cover), Harry Bell, Dave Rowe, Alistair Noyle, Andrew Stephenson, Terry Jeeves, and John D.Berry.
2) MAYA (63 points) (4th) Edited by Ian Maule, 13 Weardale Av, Forest Hall, Newcastle on Tyne, NE12 0HX. (20p, trade, Loc, &c). Two Issues eligible. Under Ian Maule's editorship, Maya has rapidly become one of the most attractive and entertaining British fanzines. Like Egg, Maya is a fannish fanzine and one that has used material from many of the top British fan writers and artists – Ian Williams's "Goblin Towers", voted Best Column for 1972-3, appears in here. The fourth issue had printed covers from Jim Marshall and Alan Hunter with Harry Bell providing most of the interior artwork; highlight of the issue was Ian Williams and his reactions to the Jesus Freaks in "Goblin Towers", with John Piggott and John Hall also contributing. The letter column was a further strong point, as it usually is in Maya. The fifth issue was, perhaps, Ian's finest effort so far: the letters headed the fanzine and were followed by Andrew Stephenson on 'The Artist's Plight', Ian Williams talking about his entry into fandom, Darrell Schweitzer, also surveying his fannish past, and Lisa Conesa with a short piece of whimsy. Ian Williams added some fanzine reviews and the fine artwork came largely from Harry Bell, but also Dave Rowe and Dave Douglass. Ian Maule excelled himself on his layout and general production and, altogether, produced an extremely fine issue which came second in the Poll, only losing out by one vote to John Piggott's The Turning Worm 3.
3) SPECULATION (44 points) (3rd) Edited by Peter Weston, 31 Pinewall Av, Kings Norton, Birmingham 30. (20p, trade, LoC,&e). Three issues eligible. Five times a Hugo nominee, Britain's most well-known fanzine, and one of the leading magazines of serious sf discussion and comment in the world, Speculation has had something of a revival over the last year after a couple of years of relative inactivity. The 30th issue (with a cover by Bob Rickard) was notable for an unusually long and entertaining editorial, several pages of photos from Chessmancon, and a fine selection of critical material, including Bob Rickard on James Blish, plus the standard selection of interesting letters and reviews. The 31st issue had a photo cover featuring King Kong and also contained photos from Eurocon I; Brian Aldiss contributed a fannish piece, Brian Stableford started on "The Compleat Silverberg", and a speech by Fred Pohl at Chessmancon was reprinted. The reviews and letters rounded off another excellent and weighty issue. The 33rd issue barely crept into the Poll, but has been included since several people obviously took it into consideration when voting. The cover was a photo once again, this time Pete's young daughter, Alison, thoughtfully chewing a Heinlein novel; contents included a splendid, humorous piece from John Brosnan, Tony Sudbery on Charles Eric Maine, a column from Chris Priest, and Larry Niven's speech from Chessmancon. Altogether a fine year for Speculation.
4) CYPHER (32 points) (5th) Edited by James Goddard, Woodlands Lodge, Woodlands, Southampton. (20p, trade, LoC, &c) Three issues eligible. Once again Cypher has continued to provide serious sf fans in Britain with an interesting alternative to Speculation together with Vector, these two fanzines are the major forums for science fiction discussion and comment in the U.K. Cypher makes considerable use of artwork, mostly serious, and Kevin Cullen' s scene from Deathworld 3 in the ninth issue won the 'Best Cover' section in this year's poll. Cypher 7 contained a memorial to E.J.Carnell from Philip Harbottle, the second part of David Pringle's 'Sf & The Death Of The Future', and Terry Jeeves on Astounding; Eddy Bertin also considered sf in the Lowlands and reviews & letters were prominent. The regular satirical cartoon strip by John Constantine & D. West appeared and artwork came from Jack Gaughan, Brian Frost, Dave Rowe, Terry Jeeves, and several others. Cypher 8 appeared last Autumn and ran to over 80 pages. It was largely devoted to Ted Tubb and the pulp fiction of the fifties with Phil Harbottle providing authentically lurid illustrations to his own evaluations of Ted Tubb and an article on the sf of the time by Ted Tubb himself. Gerald Bishop interviewed Robert Powell (of Doomwatch) in the same issue, Walter Gillings's appeared with 'In The Days Before The Triffids', and all the regular features were present. The cover was by Kevin Cullen and a mass of artists appeared inside. With the ninth issue James switched to an elite typeface and co – editor Mike Sandow left. The lead feature was an interview with Harry Harrison, finely illustrated by Kevin Cullen (who also did the cover); Aldiss's 'By Commode To The Moon' was reprinted from The Guardian and Jeff Clark looked at the works of James Tiptree, jr. Once again all the regular features appeared and the issue was well-illustrated.
5) ZIMRI (24 points) (12th) Edited by Lisa Conesa, 54 Manley Rd, Whalley Range, Manchester, M16 8HP. (20p, trade, LoC, &c) Two issues eligible. Zimri Is the only new entry into this year's top five British fanzines. It serves as a balancer, since its contents are mixed – not entirely fannish (like Egg or Maya) nor entirely stfnal (like Speculation or Cypher). The third issue was a massive 76 pages with a mixed bag of contents, including letters from Brian Aldiss, Rob Holdstock, & Lisa put together to form the saga of the mythical 'Clive Aldiss', plus Rob Holdstock talking about the Globe and Chessmancon, and Phil Muldowney (an ex co-editor) on the prozines; the letter column was extremely large and there was a considerable amount of artwork, notably a fine cover from Andrew Stephenson. The fourth issue left Lisa as sole editor when Andrew Stephenson retired. Harry Turner produced a fine cover and was also interviewed by Lisa in the lead article, 'The Romiley Quartet'; Rob Holdstock contributed a short story and the rest consisted of a long letter column, book reviews, fanzine reviews, and pieces of verse. Zimri has steadily gained in popularity and must by now be one of Britain's most active and energetic fanzines.
Next five positions:
6) Lurk (20 points) (21st=) Mike & Pat Meara
Out of this year's Top Ten, therefore are Fouler, Scottishe, Hell, and Shadow. New entries are Zimri, Lurk, The Turning Worm, and Vector. Wow, I feel just like a bloody disc-jockey...
Egg attracted the largest, number of voters (20), whilst Maya had the largest number of first place votes (10).
BEST BRITISH FANWRITER: No fewer than 33 people were nominated, only twelve, however, receiving more than one vote. Points were awarded as in the 'Best Fmz' section and last year's positions are again given in brackets.
1) IAN WILLIAMS (50 points) (4th=). Ian has been extremely active over the last year appearing in a variety of fanzines, notably Maya (where his "Goblin Towers" column won this year's Best Writing category), Egg, The Turning Worm, and Madcap. He has also started his own personalzine, Siddhartha, and has a further one in Gannetscrapbook, a variety of apa. Most of Ian's writings are fannish, though he maintains a strong interest in sf (apparent in his letters to the more sercon zines). Hmm – that reads like a school report, doesn't it? 9/10 for you, Goblin. Do better next year.
2) GRAY BOAK (47 points) (1st). Gray, perhaps, has been somewhat less active this year, but has still produced a fine Cynic and has contributed to several fanzines, notably Egg where 'Gray' has been unmasked as a cleverly handled hoax (operated by Herts fandom). Evidence of this has been strong in the many locs that 'Gray' writes and in his Gannetscrapbook zine, Interim – all have been strongly phrased and controversial, an easy task for a pseudonym...
3) JOHN BROSNAN (46 points) (13th=). Famed Aussie comic-fan and a British resident for several years, John has been publishing more of his fine writings in British fanzines recently (though he still appears in Australian fanzines and also in the American fannish publications, notably Mota). He has a regular column in Egg called 'North Sea Nog' and has even had a humorous piece in Speculation on the trials of a would-be writer.
4) JOHN PIGGOTT (23 points)(-). Most of John's best writings have appearedand in his own fanzine, The Turning Worm. He has, however, a column in Hell and has contributed to a variety of British fanzines, including Maya. Incidentally, John has also been busy with a Diplomacy fanzine, Ethil The Frog.
5) ROB HOLDSTOCK (20 points) ( – ). Notorious small-time professional, Rob is possibly the only sf writer (as opposed to fannish) in the top five, though he has written a considerable amount of fairly fannish material, particularly in Zimri. He edits a fine magazine of amateur fiction (and there aren't many that I'd call 'fine') named Macrocosm and has published a number of short stories in recent British fanzines.
Next five positions:
6) = Peter Roberts (16 points) (7th)
BEST BRITISH FAN ARTIST: Sixteen people were nominated, nine receiving more than one vote. Points awarded as per the Best Fmz section; last year's positions are in brackets. .
1) HARRY BELL (63 points) (1st). Once again Harry tops the Poll, though his fellow artists are close behind. Harry's fine cartooning has appeared in a variety of fanzines, notably Maya, but also Egg, Cynic, Zimri and many other fannish fanzines.
2) ANDREW STEPHENSON (62 points) (5th). Andrew (Ames) supposedly cut down on his artwork production, but has in fact produced fine material, especially, for Vector & Zimri, of a largely serious sf nature, but with occasional cartoons.
3) DAVE ROWE (56 points) (3rd). Dave has produced a mass of good artwork, serious and fannish, for a wide range of fanzines, including Egg, Maya, Vector, Zimri, and so on.
4) KEVIN CULLEN (51 points) (2nd). Kevin's cover for Cypher 9, illustrating Deathworld 3, was judged the best on a British fanzine this year. He has produced some fine, mostly serious sf artwork, particularly for Cypher.
5) TERRY JEEVES (23 points) (4th). Terry, as he has done for many years, has produced a large amount of notable cartoons for a massive number of fanzines, many of them foreign, as well as illustrating his own fanzine, Erg, and keeping alive the art of the hand-cut stencil.
6) Arthur Thompson (20 points) (6th)
(The remainder received less than five points...)
BEST BRITISH FMZ ARTICLE/COLUMN: Eleven pieces were nominated, but only one received more than one vote, namely:
1) IAN WILLIAMS – "GOBLIN TOWERS" in Maya 4 & 5 (5 votes). In the fourth issue Ian had a very fine piece on a meeting with some Jesus Freaks and his reactions to them. In the fifth issue Ian looked back on his early days in fandom when he used to attend Globe meetings regularly.
BEST BRITISH SINGLE ISSUE: Eight issues were nominated (from six fanzines).
1) THE TURNING WORM 3 (4 votes) edited by John Piggott.
2) Maya 5 (3 votes)
3) = Cypher 9 (2 votes)
3) = Zimri 4 (2 votes)
BEST BRITISH FANZINE COVER: Nine covers were nominated (from eight fanzines).
1) CYPHER 9 – Kevin Cullen (4 votes).
2) Zimri 4 – Alan Hunter (3 votes)
3)= Zimri 3 – Andrew Stephenson (2 votes)
3)= Macrocosm 3 – Andrew Stephenson (2 votes)
And that concludes the voting for this year's Checkpoint Fan Poll. My congratulations to the winners and my thanks to all the voters, A reasonable cross-section of British fandom participated and I daresay we'll take another Poll next year.
Far fewer ineligible votes were cast this time – virtually everyone read the guff at the top of the ballot, it seems. I should, perhaps, mention that Cynic 4 (Worcester With Sauce) received several votes for Best Issue, although it appeared before Chessmancon and was, indeed, written up in last year's annish.
Now for the gratuitous time-binding:
TEN YEARS AGO: The British Pan Poll for 1962 appeared in Ron Bennett's Skyrack 51 in April 1963. Twenty six fans voted and some of the results are given below.
Best British Fan Publication:
1) Skyrack (Ron Bennett)
2) Hyphen (Walt Willis)
3) Bastion (Eric Bentcliffe & Norman Shorrock)
4) Orion (Ella Parker)
5) Scottishe (Ethel Lindsay)
(Erg appeared in 17th place and Vector came 7th)
Best British Fan Writer:
Best British Fan Artist:
Best British Fan Column:
1) "Scribblings" (Colin Freeman)
2) "The Harp That Once Or Twice" (Willis)
Best British Fanzine Cover: Bastion 3 (Eddie Jones)
There now follows a variety of reports from the centres of British fanac. Not all are represented, I fear – the deadline I gave people was pretty slim; but some sort of response came from nine of the fourteen groups I tried to contact. There may well be others as well – Star Trek clubs and suchlike – which I did not manage to contact. Any further information would be welcome.
Birmingham: The Brum Group is a large, well-organized, and fairly serious sf group which meets formally once a month and informally every fortnight at the Imperial Centre Hotel in Birmingham (Fridays, I think). A regular fanzine is produced, the BSFG Newsletter, and the group holds a convention every November, the Novacon. Many well-known guests give talks to the group at Its monthly meetings and membership is close to 100. Membership is 50p, I believe, and Pete Weston (31 Pinewall Av, Kings Norton, Birmingham 30) should be able to give you further information.
Hertfordshire: (Keith & Jill Bridges) "May 1969 saw the birth of Hearts, Beds & Sex Pan Group (Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, & Essex) and with very few exceptions the group has met 1st Saturday after the Globe (1st Thurs, of every month) ever since. At one time, believe it or not, we actually had an official organization, featuring 'Gray Boak' as King, Mary Reed as Secretary, and Churl Legg as Treasurer & Official Psychiatrist. Jill Bridges was and is Catering Officer, Gray was deposed (it's a hard life if you're a hoax), and Mary & Charles went to Oxford.
"The house rules of 31 (copies on application) now operate as group rules, the most important being:
1) Bring either food or money for same (food, you fool – we have boxes and boxes of sames).
2) Bring a sleeping bag.
Price of admittance is two knocks on the back door (the front is reserved for feds and debt collectors and may gain no answer or boiling oil). One new rule is No Table Games Till After Midnight – this is an attempt to restore conversation. Fred Hemmings and Ted Jones please note."
(Keith & Jill Bridges, 31 Great Dell, Welwyn Gdn City, Herts)
Kingston upon Thames: (Gray Boak) "Kitten meets are held regularly on the last Saturday of the month at my address. We are a fan group rather than an sf group, but this is not due to any bias against the subject; we are glad to welcome any visitor. Grandiose projects to extend our activities have so far all foundered on the rocks of members' other activities and seem likely to continue to do so for some time in the future. Until such glorious days talk and coffee are free.
"Semi-regular attendees: Gray Boak, Fred Hemmings, Dave Rowe, Jhim Linwood, Syd Bounds, Julia Stone, Bernie Peek, John Wyelite, Arthur Cruttenden, Tiny Clanger, Old Uncle Tom Cobley, and all."
(Gray Boak, 6 Hawks Rd, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, 1KT 3EG)
Liverpool: (Eric Bentcliffe & Stan Nuttall) "Est.1951, soirees held weekly. Has had its usual year of phrenetic activity. It won't, I'm afraid, be possible to cover all of the year's activities here; partly because of space limitations, but also because several of the activities are still subject to litigation. However, the year began with the group's traditional visit to Freshfields Beach near Southport, and the annual, if now a little hopeless, search for the hidden cache of Chateau Shorrock '52. This having been buried back in the summer of '53 to preserve its bouquet whilst those present went down to the strand to witness Harrison walk on the waters. This spectacle – He managed three steps before sinking – so awed and unnerved those present that they were unable to rediscover the wine-mine then, or since. This year, Harry Nadler kindly brought along a bulldozer to help in the search, but succeeded only in unearthing a pair of Ron Bennett's socks, now petrified... and in disturbing a wild-eyed person who claimed to be Harry Harrison, and to be working on a transatlantic tunnel. When it was pointed out to him that the tunnel, if continued on this bearing, would in actual fact circumnavigate Snowdon and Helvellyn, he became abusive and had to be forcibly restrained.
"Nearby Southport was also the scene of a later outing when LiG attended a mediaeval joust; they being Knights of St. Fantony all, it was felt to be incumbent upon them to support the event, although, it was decided beforehand unanimously, that they would refrain from entering the lists. The day was splendid, the weather bright with a light breeze to set the pennants and favours waving bravely, and everyone cheered as the Black Knight bit the dust.
"The Group's main activities during the year centred around the fortnightly film-festivals held at the Shorrock menage. Amongst films shown wore "How To Undress In Front Of Your Husband" (10 showings), "The Saragossa Manuscript" (5 showings – and still no one understands the ending), "Bugs Bunny Meets Batman & Robin" (a truly deep, thoughtful film exploring man's relationships with animals), and "Last Waltz in Vienna" (in mistake for a film of a similar title).
"Further infiltrations into the world of mass-media communications have been made during the year by members John Owen and Ramsey Campbell. John's show "Are You There, Marconi?" for Radio Merseyside has brought him considerable acclaim. And Ramsey, as film critic for the same station, has certainly enlivened things with his penchant for eating butties whilst discussing the incomprehensible. The intention is, of course, eventually to achieve a complete take-over of the station and when this is successful programmes will be devoted entirely to ouch esoteric subjects as "How To Distill Dandelion Wine For Pleasure & Profit", and "Through Lower Silesia With Glass In Hand" (research by Norman Shorrock).
"Highlights of the year were three visits by William Makepeace Harrison (He of noble visage) which reaffirmed the group's faith in the coming of homo superior (not to mention mighty – mouse). Harrison, despite firm rumours to the contrary, denies that he has been involved in rigging the re-election of Nixon, does not admit any responsibility for Jane Fonda's recent peculiar fascination with her father's bull-fiddle, but refused comment regarding his possession of nude photos of Jackie Onassis and Mick Jagger.
"LiG this year welcomed new local members Tony & Simone Walsh, and Eddie Jones's blushing bride, Marsha, as well as entertaining many country-members. Membership applications from D. Osmond, T. Heath, and H. Wilson (for the third time) were rejected. (LiG membership requirements include Perfect Pitch, Proud Palate, Unquenchable Thirst, the ability to withstand 70 decibels of noise, and a working knowledge of Hindustani.)"
(Eric Bentcliffe, 17 Riverside Cres, Holmes Chapel, Ches. CW4 7NR)
London: (Dave Rowe) "Had I written this piece before the April Globe meeting, I would have carried on from Gray Boak's editorial in Cynic 5, bemoaning the state of the Globe: the inability of passive fans to get the damned, talk-drowning juke box/piped music switched off, as well as the plight of the poor neo who is almost totally ignored (and either suffers a couple of Globe meetings, and disappears in dismay & disgust, or manages to latch on like a limpet to some, group and becomes part of it – only to ignore the arrival of the next batch of neos).
"However, something happened at the April Globe meeting; maybe it was because several old semi-regulars arrived, maybe the fans have realized that neos are most than four-letter words [sic], or maybe it's just the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la. Nevertheless, after 7.30 the music was switched off and no lonely neo was to be seen – they sheltered under fandom's motherly wing.
"The talk of finding an alternative pub can be thoroughly discounted (did it ever pass the stage of "I heard somebody say they thought they knew someone who'd seen a possible place"?); but Gray's criticism of the "foul inter-fannish atmosphere" still applies. Ingroups and ego-groups are unavoidable in any place with an attendance the size of the Globe's; but the real foul air is generated by the individual who moans "Ghod, look what's just crept in! You don't honestly expect me to speak to him," whenever anyone outside his own group enters. The number is small, but slightly spoils an otherwise utterly enjoyable evening.
"Outside the Globe: Ratfandom seems to have gone into the bed-sitter moving & demolition business; Hartley Patterson had a birthday party for Bilbo Baggins, resulting in a Tolkien, War Game, & Sf Minicon; the Bridges held an alternate fan-meet for those unable to make Chessmancon, as did Jean Muggoch at Ealing; and in August Ethel Lindsay had a barbecue in lieu of the annual London Sf Circle outing.
"Tolkien addicts meet on the last Saturday of alternate months at The Cock, Diana Place, NW1. Bob & Mary Smith's Fans Of West London finished in February when they moved to Essex – they intend to start a new group there with the help of their first-born, now expected."
(Dave Rowe, 8 Park Dr, Wickford, Essex. The Globe, by the way, is in Hatton Gdns – meeting on the first Thursday of every month)
Manchester: (Brian Robinson) "MaD activity for the last year has been rather unvaried. In August we (Pete Presford and wife, Paul Skelton and wife-to-be, Pete Colley, & myself) motored northward to attend a piss-up in Newcastle at Ian Williams's. I forget why the party was, but most of Gannetfandom were present. Ian Williams repaid the compliment some time later when he came down to a wedding in Warrington. We picked him up there and brought him back to Manchester.
"Another booze-up in Gannetland was improved by the presence of Pete Presford and myself, slamming up there in his excuse for a van. Did you know that when he puts it in a power dive the bonnet and the wings flap? He's got three tickets for low flying.
"MaD himself goes on as over. We changed the venue to the city centre because of the buses and the bheer – a great improvement. Dave Frost, an artist, and Ian Butterworth are newer members, and we manage to persuade a couple of wives to come along now and then. Even Lisa Conesa has ascended from her ivory dungeon to face the light of evening once in the last month. We hardly ever talk about sf these days, though often arguments take place about art and criticism and the like. Chuck Partington usually starts them with some ridiculous point calculated to get us going. We're not so much an sf group as a social and boozing set-up – which is the way we like it."
(Brian Robinson, 9 Linwood Grove, Manchester, M12 4QH)
Newcastle on Tyne: (Ian Williams) "A rather variable fannish year for us up here in the wooly wilds of the North East of England.
"To deal with activities first: there's been quite a large spate of fan publishing. Ian Maule will have published three issue of Maya (by the time this sees print), three or four of the now defunct Paranoid and his first personalzine, Maule's Well. Ian Williams (ahem) brought out the first issue of his personalzine, Siddhartha, after reading a lot of Herman Hesse, and promises the next issue after the con – not that anyone cares. Then the group got together and typed out a number of short, separate magazines which wore duplicated, collated, and stapled together to form Gannetscrapbook; few people who received it seemed to realize we were aware of the ambiguity of its name which it amply lived up to Next issue due late April/early May.
"Apart from fanpublishing, well let's see, Harry Bell maintained his production of very funny well-drawn cartoons for a variety of fanzines, notably Maya. Ian Maule actually began writing articles as well as locs, his most coherent piece appearing in Turning Worm 3. Thom Penman kept on talking, doing little else apart from a gigantic conreport on Chester produced by the MaD Group (who else?). Ian Williams's fanwriting, he thinks, improved considerably with notable items appearing in Maya (2) and Egg (1), also in Turning Worm (with Thom Penman), Hell, Madcap, Paranoid, and (if it's appeared by now) Zimri; most of this was written between summer and the New Year – he now claims to have nearly finished the first draft of a novel. Rob Jackson, a very new Gannet, has appeared in recent Sfinx with fiction – he's always writing stories. Other members of Gannetfandom are singularly inactive. Henry Pijohn did contribute to Gannetscrapbook; Brian Temple promises to gafiate (from what to where puzzles me).
"On the social side little has been happening. I seem to remember a vaguely enjoyable party at my house last August, a peculiar one at Thom Penman's, and a subdued pre-New Year's Eve party at Rob Jackson's. Favourite place for clandestine meetings is still unchanged – Ian Williams claims not to mind who turns up on his doorstep, though he has been known to cast appealing glances at the sky. Most Gannets remain (with the exception of Bell and the comix fandom representatives) mournfully celibate and cast wistfuL glances at Irene and Judith.
"Of late a certain fervour has bounded back amongst the Gannets with the decision to bid for the Easter convention at Bristol this year. They've a committee and a beautiful hotel. They even mutter a chant of "Newcastle in '74" in their sleep.
"They've been together now for going on three years, meeting weakly [sic] each Tuesday at the Gannet pub in Sunderland. The way things stand, internecine warfare and backstabbing included, they still appear one of the strongest, talented local fangroups in Britain and look like going on for another three years.
"This has been an objective report."
(Ian Williams, 6 Greta Tce, Chester Rd, Sunderland, SR4 7RD)
Nottingham (University): (Pete Wilde). "A long time ago, such a thing as the Sf Group did – so legend would have us believe – exist. So, during the summer of 1972, one solitary person (me) decided to try to revive this forsaken animal.
"An equation: Measure of Success = .001%. This is not strictly true and would be unfair to the members who regularly attend our coffee evenings – both of them.
"This is it. Most of the time it's been: "Not another society," "What do I get for my 25p that I can't get in the bar over a pint?" "No, you can't advertise here." But the best of them all is: "You surely don't class John Wyndham as science fiction!" (Has to be said by a sober English student for full effect).
"I'm still hoping, however, that someone will be around to show the flag when I'm gone. Anyone want to run a Union Society?"
Elsewhere: Most British fan groups are covered in the above, I believe. There are, however, further University groups – Aston, Cambridge, Oxford, & Stafford – that may still be active. If, however, there's another group that you know of, I'd be happy to hear from you.
The British SF Association: Founded in 1958, the BSFA is still going strong with some 250 members in the UK and abroad. Under Malcolm Edwards's editorship, Vector, the association journal, is both regular and good. Many other services come with membership. Graham Poole (23 Russet Rd, Cheltenham, Glos., GL51 7LN) should be able to help with enquiries.
The British Fantasy Society: (Keith Walker) "The BFS is now entering its third year. Unlike the wartime society of the same name we represent only fantasy. The BFS has a wide range of services including a fanzine library, another of books, a critics/writers circle (Whirlpool), and publications such as a regular monthly Bulletin, the Society magazine (Dark Horizon), and, a recent innovation, a super-flier (Polymorph) distributed with the Bulletin. A cine film section has been suggested, but is not yet operative.
"Membership remains around the hundred mark. This second year has been, perhaps, one more of consolidation than expansion, though the highly successful Derleth Award instituted last year has been extended to include non-fiction books, comics, and films. The awards will be presented at the Eastercon.
"The annual AGM of the society will also be held at Easter at the Bristol OMPAcon and we will also be running a display table.
"It is hoped that having firmly established the need for a specialist society of this sort that the third year we are now entering will be one of successful expansion.
"Membership, which includes free use of all the services, is £1 per year. Checkpoint readers who are interested should contact Sandra Sutton (194 Station Rd, Kings Heath, Birmingham, B14 7TE).
The Off-Trail Magazine Publishers' Association: (Ken Cheslin) "At present OMPA has about fifteen members; I hope the OMPAcon in Bristol, organized by OMPAns, will bring us a few more. At least half of those remaining (we lost a few overseas members recently through lactivity) are, however, big page contributors. We've recently been voting on rule changes and constitutional amendments, aimed mainly at getting members to participate more, though, to be honest, I don't know that these will make a very great difference to present members. I also can't see why we can't seem to attract new members – oh, I've heard people moan about OMPA, saying things like 'old fogies'. Someone I see is trying to start a new apa (ROMPA – a compliment) and I hope he does some good.
"As you know, an apa isn't like a fanzine; there are differences in format, contents, and approach – more chattiness and more informality. It can be a sort of very extended conversation. I'm sure we could get more members if some people would only try the apa. I shall continue our policy of sending out sample bundles, anyway.
"All of the UK members have volunteered to help with this year's Eastercon; most are actually on the committee in one capacity or another. After the con we hope to get back to normal (recent mailings have suffered from con activity) and, who knows, perhaps with some new members too."
(Ken Cheslin, (Official Editor), 36 Chapel St, Wordsley, Nr. Stourbridge, Worcs.)
Tolkien Society: Devoted to the fantasy works of J.R.R.Tolkien & similar writers, the TS issues several fanzines and meets locally in 'smials'. Try contacting Archie Mercer, 21 Trenethick Parc, Holston, Cornwall, for information.