Checkpoint 86 is produced by Peter Roberts, 38 Oakland Drive, Dawlish, Devon, UK. It's available for news, selected trades, interesting letters, fine old fanzines (send list first), Star Wars bubble gum cards (one pack per issue), other fascinating things, or cash: 5/50p (UK & Europe), 5/$1 (America & Africa airmail), or 7/£1 (Australia & NZ airmail). Drawing by Mike Gilbert, lettering by Bill Kunkel. Restormel Press Publication: 126. Telephone: 0626 864718.
EASTERCON 79 CLASH: The Leeds bid for the 1979 British Eastercon was announced in the last Checkpoint; now it seems that there's a rival bid from none other than Derek ('Bram') Stokes of "Dark They Were & Golden Eyed", the London comics, fantasy & sf bookshop. This bid is for a "multimedia" convention of the sort that Bram proposed before, when he lost the 1974 Eastercon to the Gannetfans. I don't have any direct information, but it seems that the con is for Central London and will be heavily commercial in tone. There are plenty of good rumours flying around, but at least one of them (that the BSFA is backing the bid) appears to be unfounded. It does seem, however, that Bram intends to hold the convention whether or not he wins this Easter. Checkpoint will not be backing any "multimedia" convention.
Meanwhile, the Leeds bid is definitely for the Dragonara Hotel, where favourable room rates have been negotiated. Greg Pickersgill has joined the committee as vice-boss without portfolio – a vague position, but assuredly a fannish one.
DUFF CANDIDATES: Ballots are already out for the next Down Under Fan Fund race to send an Australian fan to the 1978 Worldcon in Phoenix, Arizona. Shayne McCormack, Paul Stevens, and Keith Taylor are standing; rules are much the same as for TAFF and deadline for voting is April 14th 1978. Contact the administrators if you want further information, including a ballot: Bill Rotsler, PO Box 3126, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (America) and Christine Ashby, PO Box 175, South Melbourne, Vic.3205 (Australia).
GUFF – THE AUSTRALIAN-BRITISH FAN FUND: This is a one-off fund, based on DUFF, to bring an Australian fan over to the 1979 British Worldcon in Brighton. Nominations for candidates are now open and will close on Good Friday, 1978. Potential GUFF runners need three Australian and two British nominators, a one hundred word platform, a $10.00A bond, and a written undertaking to attend Seacon 79, if elected (barring Acts of God). Nominations should be sent to the Australian administrator, Leigh Edmonds (PO Box 103, Brunswick, Vic.3056); Dave Langford is the British administrator (22 Northumberland Ave, Reading, Berks, RG2 7PW). Write to them if you need any further information – I've done my bit already by buying an autographed boomerang to start the fund off. Someday, I tell myself, such an object will prove useful, especially since I've discovered a field full of wallabies not half a mile from this house. Honest. There are some strange people living in Devon, I do tell 'ee true, zir.
SECOND BRITISH FANZINE BIBLIOGRAPHY: While you lot out there thought I was twiddling my thumbs and doing nothing much at all, I was actually engaged in compiling the second part of the British Fanzine Bibliography. The first part (covering the years 1936-1950) is still available for 35p (ten copies for £3 or $6.00); the second part is larger, a 20 page pamphlet (A4 reduced to A5), and contains listings and available information on every British fanzine I can trace for the period 1951-1960. It's the first time such a bibliography has been published and I'm not pretending that it's comprehensive; it should, however, prove a basis for further work and I hope it'll be of some use to fanzine freaks.
Part two is published at 50p($1); however, Checkpoint readers and other fans can get a copy for 40p (inc.post). Anyone wanting ten copies can have them for £3.50($7.00); anyone wanting both part one and part two can have them for 70p($1.50) the pair – overseas fans can send seven International Reply Coupons or a couple of dollar bills (and I'll keep note of the change and knock it off the price of the next part). So much for the mercenary side of fan publishing, though I don't somehow think I'll make my fortune this way, more's the pity.
John Berry, 1203 18th Ave East, Seattle, WA 98112.
Jan Pinder, PO Box 428, Latham, NY 12110.
Jean Frost, 113 Abbey Rd, Erdington, Birmingham B23 7QQ
Paul Thompson, 62 Caellepa, Bangor, Wales.
David Bridges, 130 Valley Rd, Meersbrook, Sheffield, S8 9GA
Steven Allan Beatty, Box 1040, ISU Station, Ames, IA 50010.
a book review supplement to Checkpoint 86
Day Of the Mad Dogs: David Anne (Corgi – 85p)
This is an obvious example of exploitation-fiction: originally called Rabid, the book chronicles the return of rabies to Great Britain, and does so without much thought, vitality, or imagination. The first part, all ten chapters (122pp) of it, is inconsequential padding and might usefully have been summarized in a couple of paragraphs: a rabid dog is brought into Britain and causes a local outbreak of the disease. The second part (another ten chapters – 120pp), though it contains more active stuff, with dogs running around and people being bitten, is still pretty tedious and uninspired. The only unusual elements in the book occur right at the end. The chapter on chapter of pap doesn't lead to or suggest any exciting conclusion, so the author conjures one out of thin air, mixing several unpleasant and gratuitously macabre scenes together with some nonsense about a collapse of the government and the implied extinction of mankind. "Horror piled upon horror," says the Sunday Telegraph and that seems about right.
Some episodes are medically nasty and Day Of The Mad Dogs may therefore help in the fight against rabies. But as fiction it's feeble-minded stuff and a dull, half-hearted novel, even for the hack market.
I Am Legend: Richard Matheson (Corgi – 65p)
A reissue, and a welcome one, of a novel concerning vampirism, a less realistic but fictionally more rewarding disease than rabies. I Am Legend is slickly-written, well-paced, and with enough dramatic and disturbing scenes to withstand a few defects, notably a contrived and cumbersome conclusion. Much of postwar American fiction has concerned itself with decay and entropy, disintegrating reality, paranoia and solipsism; I Am Legend brings every damn one of these themes right into the open with a vision of the last man on earth besieged by animated, vampiric corpses. It's vivid, compelling, and effective – good stuff, and not without humour either: the cry "Come out, Neville!" deserves some sort of place amongst the catch-phrases of fandom, I reckon.
Ox: Piers Anthony (Corgi – 85p)
The only work of Piers Anthony's I've read other than this is a dreadful mess called Macrocosm. Ox isn't a great deal better. Some of the writing, for example, is appalling: the first three spoken lines in chapter one, to give you some idea, are: "Try a mouthful of that!"; "You're a tough one!"; and "Takes more brains that I got to handle this metal baby." This sub-Biggles monologue is spoken by a dim-witted bloke called 'Veg', a caricature not calculated to please those of us who refuse to eat animals. Besides the poverty of such writing, the novel also progresses in a miserably jerky manner: Anthony even stops dead at one stage to tell us all about a pattern-making game, complete with diagrams (indeed he actually tries to make it part of the novel in a ludicrous piece of broken dialogue between two mathematics scholars, following the worst traditions of the scientific pulps and the tedious novels of Fred Hoyle). Hell, I might have forgiven him if I could've figured out the wretched game. Apparently Anthony thought it important enough to use as a key to the structure of Ox; if so, it's a key that's lost on me.
Still, Ox is at least lively, with plenty of fairly alien aliens, plenty of action, and enough characters, locations and incidents to fill several dozen less phrenetic novels. There are also a couple of attractive sequences (notably a strange progression through a maze of alternative realities). But all in all, Ox is a jumbled and messy creation, and not finally worth the effort of penetrating.
Planet of Judgement: Joe Haldeman (Corgi – 70p)
Well, I thought I'd take a look at it for curiosity's sake, despite a lacklustre and uninspired cover. Planet Of Judgement is a Star Trek novel – the 21st, according to a list inside the book. It's somewhat better than might be expected, but despite Joe Haldeman's occasional humour and lapses into interesting writing (there's a nice little card scene near the end, for example), POJ is too much of the straightforward hack novel to be any more exciting than its initials suggest.
City On The Edge Of Forever: Harlan Ellison & Mandala Productions (Corgi – 85p)
"300 full color action scenes", it says on the cover, and indeed that's what the book (a standard size paperback) contains – colour photos from the Star Trek episode plus captions, in a sort of comic-strip format. It doesn't quite work, somehow; the photos aren't always appropriate and the layout is pedestrian, probably as a result of having to stick to the tv stills. Nonetheless, the "fotonovel" is an interesting idea, and you get an interview with Ellison and a quick quiz as well. A nice book for a kid, though Star Trek fanatics would probably prefer a more orthodox illustrated script.
Critical Mass: Fred Pohl & Cyril Kornbluth (Bantam – 75p). Collection of ten short stories (1955-1974).
Chamber of Horrors: Robert Bloch (Corgi – 70p) Collection of twelve short stories (1950-1966).
New Writings In Sf 29: ed. Ken Bulmer (Corgi – 75p) Anthology of eight original short stories by Wilder, Aldiss, Hill, Tubb, Walters, Malcolm, Morgan, & Partington.
Il Mondo Dei Sonambuli: Gordon Dickson (Omega – £1,500) Gian Paolo Cossato & Sandro Sandrelli's translation of Sleepwalker's World. My schoolboy Latin grammar hasn't been a great help with this, I fear.
The Custodians: Richard Cowper (Pan – 60p) Collection of four short stories.
The Shape of Sex To Come: ed. Douglas Hill (Pan – 60p) Anthology of eight short stories by Silverberg, Disch, Jorgensson, McCaffrey, Aldiss, Bailey, Sladek, & Moorcock.
Books for review are welcome, and should be sent to: Peter Roberts, 38 Oakland Drive, Dawlish, Devon, UK.
SEATTLE & NORTH WEST NEWS: (John Berry) "The fannish community around here is really pretty large. On Capitol Hill live Loren McGregor & Jeff Frane in one house, recently joined by Jerry Kaufman, who moved here this fall from New York; me; John Carl, who moved here last summer from Montana and who will probably be moving into my old apartment; Jessica Salmonson, who lives not far away; Clifford Wind, down the hill nearer the freeway; and at least a couple of other people who are fans but whom I see only at Nameless meetings (which meet down the street at Horizon Books, once a month). Jane Hawkins comes over from Queen Anne Hill a lot, and Aljo Svoboda, who moved here last fall, lives in the university district. Frank & Anna Jo Denton are sometimes lured onto the hill; sometimes the Busby too. And various fans in other parts of the country keep making noises about moving here, of whom the only one I'm sure of is Suzle Tompkins, who'll be arriving sometime this winter. Funny, it doesn't feel like a hotbed of fannish activity.
"There's also a local sf club, centred across the lake in Bellevue. Jane & Clifford are both members, otherwise the two circles only overlap through Nameless meetings. But this club, the Northwest Sf Society (NWSFS), is putting on a local convention this Easter weekend: Norwescon 1 will be held March 25th & 26th at the Holiday Inn at Sea-Tac Airport, 17338 Pacific Highway South, Seattle. Memberships are $7.00 through March 12th and $8.00 thereafter. GoH will be Theodore Sturgeon and Fan GoH will be me – the first time I've been any kind of GoH. Address is: Norwescon, 13001 79th Place NE, Kirkland, WA 98033."
Jerry Kaufman also writes and mentions a new local apa with Denys Howard as OE; it's called CRAPA (Cascade Regional Amateur Press Association) and is open to residents in BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.
John also sends along a copy of Pacific Northwest Review Of Books, a new professional venture by John and Loren MacGregor. The first, trial issue is in an attractive newspaper format and contains reviews, interviews, essays, and oddments: the aim is for the review to be "a focal point for the literary energies of the region". If you're interested, the annual subscription is $7.50 and the address is: PO Box 21566, Seattle, WA 98111.
BRITISH CONVENTIONAL STUFF: The next convention over here is the fourth Fantasycon, to be held in the Imperial Hotel, Birmingham, over the last weekend in February. Keith Walker tells me that Stephen King is GoH. After that, of course, there's Skycon, the 29th annual Easter convention, to be held in the Heathrow Hotel over the Easter weekend; there's a peculiar (and unwelcome) arrangement with the hotel which necessitates paying half the room rate (£13.80 – no singles) in advance, in return for which the hotel doesn't guarantee that rooms won't be let to complete strangers and non-fans. That sounds like the hotel calling the tune and not the convention committee – a Bad Thing. Still, we'll keep our collective fingers crossed and hope that the committee have done better with their other arrangements; full membership is £4.50 (£5 at the door) and the address is: 5 Aston Close, Pangbourne, Berks, RG8 7LG. Robert Sheckley is GoH and Roy Kettle is fan GoH. Faircon, to be held on the weekend of Jul 21st-23rd, could be Britain's first regional sf con (unless you count the first Mancon) since it's being held in the Ingram Hotel, Glasgow. GoH is James White. Full membership is £3.50. Over 100 fans have registered so far and the address is: R.Shaw, Top Flat Left, 11 Barrington Dr, Kelvinbridge, Glasgow G4, Scotland.
WEIRD SERCON TALES: The first couple of issues of Dez Skinn's new British prozine, Starburst, have been published: contents are pretty lively with cartoon strips (including Jeff Hawke), material by Harrison and Bradbury, Star Wars stuff, film and tv material, and a lot of garish artwork. It appears, in other words, to be aimed at the teenage market. // Meanwhile, in the sercon strongholds of The Sf Foundation, Malcolm Edwards has replaced Peter Nicholls as boss, and David Pringle has moved in as an Igor figure. // The closing date for Gollancz/Picador's £3000 fantasy competition is March 31st; contact the publishers if you need information. // Ben Bova was apparently over in the UK recently and spent much of his time with Lord St Davids; look out for several forthcoming short stories from the Baron Strange of Knokin. // Harlan Ellison plans to sleep in a tent at Iguanacon for political reasons. Look, don't ask me, I just print the bloody news. // Laurine White sends in a quotation from Luigi Cozzi, no less, about his forthcoming science fiction film, Starcrash; says Luigi, "Star Wars is real sf; mine is science fantasy. The space elements in George Lucas' film are quite scientific. My film has many space elements, but also includes dream people, monsters, and lots of fantasy. Our heroes are a trio composed of an Amazon girl, a robot, and a humanoid from outer space – all searching for a missing spaceship. Also, our galaxies have nothing in common with those in Star Wars." Far out.
WEIRD FANNISH TALES: South African fandom is re-emerging, reckons Brian Lombard; monthly meetings have started in Cape Town and some sort of fanzine is planned soon. // The old Melbourne Sf Club in Somerset Place has burnt down at last. // Pamela Boal wants to thank fans who contributed to AIDS (the Association for Independent Disabled Self-sufficiency) by buying the Dave Rowe/Dave Langford calendar; Pamela also mentions that she's visiting the East Coast of the US in March, but fears that she'll miss meeting any fans. // Eric Bentcliffe notes that Bill Harry, former fanartist and editor of Biped, has a book, Mersey Beat, The Beginning of the Beatles, due out in March. // Peter Darling, Aussiefan (and temporary British fan), has married Elizabeth Foyster; they're due to visit Britain and Europe later this month. // Running out of room, but Checkpoint will be back with another issue in a fortnight – news welcome, so dust off your typewriters and drop us a line right now. Cheers.
Scene IV: The heath, before a hovel.
Enter Roberts and
38 Oakland Drive,
Printed Matter – Reduced