Checkpoint 87

Checkpoint 87 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), or cash: 5/50p (UK & Europe), 5/$1 (Africa & America airmail)., or 7/£1 (Australia & NZ airmail). Cover by Roger Woods, celebrating the first issue of Mor-farch (Easter 1968). Ten years later and this is Restormel Publication: 128. Telephone: 0626 864718. Advertising fliers or circulars can be distributed with Checkpoint – £1.00 sounds about right and I need 170 copies. 21.3.78.

TAFF CANDIDATES: Although nominations for the 1979 America to Great Britain TAFF race don't even open till October, a number of US fans have already announced their intentions of standing. Such enthusiasm brings joy to an old administrator's heart. Terry Hughes, Fred Haskell, and Suzanne Tompkins are all preparing to stand and I hear of other possible candidates as well. For further information on TAFF, contact Roy Tackett (915 Green Valley Rd. NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107, USA) or myself – news, suggestions, and donations welcome.

THIRD WORLD FAANCON: (Mike Meara reports) "Held at the Lansdowne Hotel in Manchester over the first weekend in February, the con was the smallest yet with an attendance somewhere in the twenties Was this because of the proximity to Owens Park (of not so fond memory) or the nearness of an expensive Eastercon? At any rate, by the time we arrived there was already a small crowd in the cosy, labyrinthine basement bar, where Dave Rowe gave us each a 'We Love Boris' badge. Nice though this bar was, we couldn't use it for long; the management had ways of keeping us sober, written agreements or no. Frantic phonecalls to the assistant manager elicited an assurance that the bar would indeed stay open on Saturday night; but our nemesis the night porter, christened 'Fang' by Martin Easterbrook, decided to close up as usual. So Dave Rowe, Bernie Peek, Gra Poole, and myself (the Four Mustgetbeers), heavily disguised as mundanes, raided the local offlicence and smuggled the wherewithal for a room-party in through the Skeltons' ground-floor window. The party went off well, so Fang's attempts to thwart us were all in vein. I can't remember much of what I did, but I had a great time doing it. The others must have too, since most of them signed up on the spot with Gra for next year."

SILICON THREE: This informal, fannish convention based in the North-East of England is planned for August 25th-29th this year. The hotel is a new one, the Grosvenor, Newcastle on Tyne, after trouble with the manager at last year's (mainly over bar-opening times). The first Progress Report is out. Contact Rob Jackson, 71 King John St, Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 5XR, if you want information.

TROISIEME FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL DE LA SCIENCE-FICTION: Philippe Hupp writes with information on this year's Metz festival which will be held from the 5th-11th of June. Frank Herbert is to be GoH and the programme "will include panels, speeches (with translation), signings, concerts, exhibitions, and about twenty films". 35,000 people turned up last year; if you want to be part of the 1978 throng, contact Philippe at 7 Rue Franchet d'Esperey, 57000 Montigny Les Metz, France.

CHECKPOINT SFa book review supplement to Checkpoint 87

The Visual Encyclopedia Of Science Fiction: ed. Brian Ash (Pan – £5.50) After all the bumper books of sf illustrations, it looks like sf encyclopaedias and textbooks are now in vogue. The Visual Encyclopedia Of Sf is a bold attempt at leading the field with its unusual initial publication in paperback and its rather strange appearance. It's a hefty book, even though it's only 350 pages long: the paper is exceptionally heavy stock and I must admit that, together with the fine printing (including some precise colour reproductions), it helps make the book a very attractive production.

The layout, however, is odd. In fact, it's bizarre. The book is divided into four sections: 01 Program (sic – even though this is a British book published in Britain); 02 Thematics; 03 Deep Probes; and 04 Fandom & Media. The "Program" is a list of dates, arranged as a flow-chart of events divided into "streams" of Magazine Dates, Magazine Stories, Books, Films/TV/Radio, & Fandom. The whole thing is "presented in the form of a space mission program" for reasons which are unexplained; thus magazines (and fanzines) are described as being "launched" when they begin publication and as being "aborted" when they cease publication. Apart from giving this section a rather ludicrous and whimsical air, this parody of American NASA jargon serves no apparent purpose. Perhaps, however, the editor was faintly embarrassed by the list of events, many of which are trivial and sound particularly daft when presented in isolation (eg. "1963 – Langdon Jones launches Tensor" or "Sept 1942 – FUTURE FICTION and SCIENCE FICTION combine as FUTURE FICTION COMBINED WITH SCIENCE FICTION").

The second section, "Thematics", takes up the major part of the encyclopaedia. It's divided into nineteen chapters, each chapter dealing with a different sf subject or group of subjects. The chapters each have an introduction by a well-known sf author, followed by an illustrated precis of selected sf plots related to the subject of the chapter. Thus, for example, chapter "02.08 Cataclysms & Dooms" has a four paragraph introduction by J.G.Ballard followed by four sections ("02.08.1 Cosmic Causes", "02.08.2 Natural Earth Causes", "02.08.3 Alien Causes", & "02.08.4 Human Causes"), each a page or so in length, listing (with some comments and illustrations) stories whose plots fall into the specified categories; additional bibliographies are given at the end of each part. This whole "Thematics" section, therefore, has some attractive illustrations and some brief comments from authors, but little else except a catalogue of sf plots; this isn't exactly useful, except perhaps to the aspiring hack-writer.

The third section, portentously called "Deep Probes", is the strangest of all, being an inconsequential collection of essays by Edmund Cooper, George Turner, Damon Knight, L.Sprague de Camp, and editor Brian Ash. The essays are not notably original, nor particularly stimulating, and they're certainly not definitive, exhaustive, or comprehensive. They're about par for serious articles in the better sf fanzines – no more than that. I just can't figure out why they're included in the book; they look like leftovers from some idea that misfired ("aborted"?), gathered together here for lack of anywhere else to put them.

The fourth and final section, "Fandom & Media", is an unashamedly miscellaneous collection of articles on fandom, sf art, sf in the cinema, sf on tv, sf magazines, sf books, sf comics, sf commentators, and fringe cults. Each section is brief and seems quite adequate; the fandom section isn't at all bad, with Harry Bell and Harry Turner illustrations (uncredited, however) and subsections on "04.01.1 Fanac (Fan Activity)" and "04.01.2 Conventions & Awards".

And that's just about it. A number of British fans are listed as researchers for the encyclopaedia – John Eggeling, Walter Gillings, Jim Goddard, Jon Gustafson, Phil Harbottle, George Hay, Colin Lester, Philip Strick, & Gerry Webb – so I reckon the information should be pretty trustworthy. However, the test of this sort of book can only take time; it's a question of seeing how often it proves useful over the next few months and years. I rather suspect that a conventionally arranged encyclopaedia would prove more helpful than this, but that remains to be seen. The Visual Encyclopedia Of Sf is, nonetheless, an attractive book and a pleasant thing to flick through on rainy afternoons. Moreover a considerable number of fans and fanzines are mentioned in the text – and who can resist the egoboo of name scanning? "Dec 1968 – Peter Roberts (UK) launches Checkpoint". Good stuff.

Dragonflight: Anne McCaffrey (Corgi – 75p)
Dragonsong: Anne McCaffrey (Corgi – 75p)

Here are a couple of juvenile novels – fantasy adventures just about disguised as sf. Dragonflight is a reprint and is quite well-known: it concerns the battle of men and dragons to keep the planet Pern free of the mindless but menacing Threads, the whole thing being set in a mock-mediaeval world. The newer novel, Dragonsong, is a romance set in the same world and tells the story of Menolly, a young girl and an excellent musician who rises from the wastes of a fishing village to the glory and excitement of the dragon-weyrs and the Masterharper's halls. The original novel seems adequate, if rather flat and feebly written (especially compared to the similar works of Jack Vance or Ursula Le Guin); the, newer one, however, is simply dull – it's missing a decent storyline, and the absence of invigorating narrative cripples the book. Ok, I suppose; but there are plenty of better novels than these around.

The Custodians: Richard Cowper (Pan – 60p)

I read this, despite the fact that I'm not greatly fond of short sf stories and despite a vague feeling that I didn't care for Richard Cowper's writing (I'm still not sure why). Surprisingly, therefore, I enjoyed the book very much; the stories are quite slight, but they're attractively written and contain the secret ingredient, Sense Of Wonder. "Paradise Beach" is a futuristic detective story (the butler done it), and "The Hertford Manuscript" is an account of the final end of Wells' time traveller. "Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" and the title story tell of the Second Coming and Armageddon respectively. I think that's what's called a mixed bag. Whatever it is, it's good.

Also Received:

The Rivals Of King Kong: ed. Michel Parry (Corgi – 80p). Anthology of eleven short stories about big apes, plus a "Checklist Of Simian Cinema".

The Destroyer (No 20): Assassins Play-Off: Richard Sapir & Warren Murphy (Corgi – 65p) Part of a big-print hack adventure series.

AUSTRALIA IN 83 Ken Ozanne is looking for a bit of publicity for the Sydney bid ("not the old lame-duck Adelaide bid") for the 1983 Worldcon. They already have a committee of forty fans, including Ken as Chairman, Keith Curtis & Eric Lindsay as Vice-Chairmen, and Warren Nicholls as Secretary/Treasurer, and they're planning to have a network of overseas agents, plus representatives at major conventions (Eric Lindsay will be at Iguanacon and other autumnal American cons this year). They're also running a competition for a logo for the bid – "something distinctive and easy to reproduce", says Ken. Address for the Sydney in 83 bid is: PO Box J175, Brickfield Hill, NSW 2000, Australia.

FANTASYCON: (A quick report from an ex-Australian comix fan Who Was There) "The biggest event at Fantasycon, held at the Imperial Hotel, Birmingham, on the 24th-26th of February, was the non-appearance of Stephen King, the Guest of Honour. Illness was given as the official reason (actually his recent vasectomy hadn't healed properly, which is probably the most original excuse for a GoH not turning up in the history of conventions). This Fantasycon was apparently the largest so far – the hotel was fully booked (or almost) – and reminded one of the old sf Novacons that used to be held at the Imperial. Unfortunately the Imperial has declined over the years and conditions there can best be described as 'primitive'. It's rumoured that next year's Fantasycon will be held at the Royal Angus.

"With the absence of the GoH, Stephen King, the Most Famous Writer Present position was filled by Ken Bulmer, who handled the presentation of the Fantasycon Awards with his usual cheery charm. The other famous writer there was Ramsey Campbell; the con coincided with the publication of his book, The Doll Who Ate His Mother, and the publishers held a signing party in the bar – several women and children were injured in the mad rush for copies. Other glittering personalities included Dez Skinn, editor of Hammer's House Of Horror and also the publisher of Starburst magazine, and Sylvia Starshine, a fan from Pennsylvania who had flown over on 'a whim' and who insisted that her name was real.

"All in all, the con was a success. Everything went smoothly as far as the programme was concerned, and the various annoyances were the work of the hotel – lack of staff at breakfast, for instance; lack of bar staff; no room service, and so on. The buffet dinner doesn't bear thinking about: soggy sandwiches, deceased sausage rolls, and a salad that had to be scooped out of the bowls by hand. A change of venue next year will certainly be an advantage."

GUFF CANDIDATES: Checkpoint, together with the vast majority of Dawlish (and Teignmouth) fans, whole-heartedly support John Bangsund for GUFF (the fund to bring an Australian fan over to Britain for the 1979 Worldcon). Only trouble is I'm no longer entirely sure whether John is still intending to stand – I hope so, at any rate. Other possible candidates include John Alderson, Eric Lindsay, and Gary Mason. Nominations close at Easter, so we'll soon find out what's happening. UK Administrator: Dave Langford. Aussie: Leigh Edmonds.

FAAN AWARDS: Ian Williams has given up as UK Agent for the Fan Activity Achievement Awards and has passed on the job to Ian Maule. Deadline for nominations is (virtually) now, so you can forget that (why do the FAAn Awards always seem to be conducted at an impossibly fast gallop in Britain?); but if you're interested in final voting (it costs) contact Ian at: 18 Hillside, 163 Carshalton Rd, Sutton, Surrey.

NEXT ISSUE will be out after the Easter Skycon. Meanwhile the box here [_____] will tell you the number of your last issue, calculated by the finest scientific methods and meticulous analysis of bits of dried seaweed.

UK SF BOOKS FOR APRIL (or, The Return Of Gerald Bishop) HARDCOVER: (Gollancz) Driftglass – Delany; Roadside Picnic – A & B Strugatsky. (Souvenir) Star Fire – Ingo Swann; Splinter Of The Mind's Eye – Foster. (Weid & N) A Rude Awakening – Aldiss. (Joseph) The Alchemical Marriage Of Alistair Crompton – Sheckley. (H.Hamilton) The Tomorrow City – Monica Hughes. (Kestrel) Antigrav – N.Fisk. (Methuen) The Brass Dragon – M.Z.Bradley. (Pelham) Escape From Splatterbug – N.Fisk, again. (Hale) To Keep The Ship – Chandler; Stargate – S.Bennet; and Charles Fort Never Mentioned Wombats – Coulson & DeWeese. Honest.

PAPERBACK: (Ferret) Sf First Editions – Locke. (Pan) Hello Summer, Goodbye – Coney; Deathbird Stories – Ellison. (Panther) Planets For Sale – van Vogt; Hiero's Journey – Lanier; Ubik – Dick; The Martian Inca – Watson; The Early Asimov, Vol 1 – Heinlein. (Futura/Orbit) Lucifer's Hammer and The Mote In God's Eye – Niven & Pournelle; Neutron Star, A Gift From Earth, and The World Of Ptavvs – Niven. (Fontana) The Telepathist – Brunner; The Garments Of Caean – Bayley. (Corgi) Star Trek: The New Voyages, 2 – Marshak & Culbreath. (NEL) Beyond This Horizon, Revolt In 2100, Space Cadet, and Starship Troopers – Heinlein; Icerigger – Foster; The Shining and Carrie – S.King. (Sphere) From The Blob To Star Wars – Andrews; Splinter Of The Mind's Eye – Foster. (Penguin) The Sun Chemist – L.Davidson. (Puffin) The Men From P.I.G. & R.O.B.O.T. – Harrison. (Magnum) Shakespeare's Planet – Simak; Traveller In Black – Brunner; The Brass Dragon – Bradley.

DEATHS: (reprinted from Karass) Ray Palmer – old-time fan and prozine editor; Ted Johnstone – LASFS fan & author of Man From Uncle books (as 'David McDaniel'); and Texas fan & author Tom Reamy, editor of Trumpet and Nickelodeon.

"Un cocktail savoureux d'anecdotes et
d'informations faniques" (Magnus)

Oui, mes fans, c'est:



Peter Roberts
38 Oakland Dr
Dawlish, Devon
Great Britain

Printed Matter, Reduced Rate