Checkpoint 92

Cartoon header by Taral

(Dec. 1978)

Checkpoint 92 is produced by Peter Roberts, still to be reached c/o 38 Oakland Dr, Dawlish, Devon, UK. It's available for news, selected trades, fine old fanzines, or cash: 5/50p (UK & Europe), 4/$1 (America & Africa airmail), or 6/£1 (Australia & NZ airmail). Please pay in sterling, US dollar bills, or international reply coupons (one = 10½p to me); no foreign cheques or coins, please. Heading by Taral MacDonald. Restormel Press Publication: 135.

TAFF VOTING BEGINS: Fred Haskell, Terry Hughes, & Suzanne Tompkins are the TAFF candidates for the race to bring an American fan over to the Brighton Worldcon next year. Ballots are enclosed with this Checkpoint and I urge you all to vote or donate – deadline is Easter. If you're putting out a fanzine in the next few months, I'd be grateful if you'd distribute copies of the ballot; if you can print your own (verbatim) version of the ballot, so much the better (since it'll save TAFF postage). But if not, or if you just want a few dozen for distribution at a local group meeting or to send out in letters or personalzines, then drop me (or Roy) a note and we'll be glad to send copies on to you.

Many thanks to everyone who's helped so far, through donations of cash, auction material, and spare time. If you've got any old fanzines or fannish ephemera that are no longer wanted, we'd be pleased to have it (bring it along to the next con) – after all, Graham England's New York subway map fetched over £1 at the Novacon, & that's not bad going for something that's given away free. Dig out your fannish mementos – old beanies, used zap-guns, antique hektographs – TAFF can use them all.

NOVACON 8: The eighth Novacon was held at the Holiday Inn, Birmingham, over Guy Fawkes' weekend (November 3rd-5th). Guest of Honour was Anne McCaffrey and somewhere around 300 fans attended.

The Holiday Inn, squatting in a wasteland of concrete near the city centre, was a new venue for the con, and not a particularly good one, either. Most people seemed to prefer the previous place (the Royal Angus), though facilities are poor at both hotels & there's little to choose between them. The Holiday Inn was at least warmer than the icy Angus, and the breakfasts were a lot better; as a fan of creature comforts, therefore, I'd go for the Holiday Inn, if yet another new hotel can't be found by next year.

Strangest thing at the Novacon was the main bar, which turned out to be alongside a swimming-pool-cum-gymnasium set in a sort of greenhouse – an odd idea (not to say dangerous) which gave us the opportunity, during lulls in the conversation, of watching the more doltish fringe-fans exercising themselves on treadmills and bikes. No-one fell in, more's the pity.

The con itself seemed quietly enjoyable, without any particularly memorable events. Joseph Nicholas's fan room was the setting for some pleasantly informal discussions and the main programme presumably went its way as usual, though in a cramped & poorly laid-out hall (films included Flesh Gordon & Dark Star). The Saturday evening disco was a mess, however, being held at the poolside – an open invitation to disaster, though most people were sufficiently sober to avoid the watery risks of dancing (and there was I, in my best togs & ready to boogie all night). There seemed to be a good few parties later that night, though after a close encounter with a bottle of vodka I didn't see much of them, and more than the usual number of people stayed on over Sunday night, when we moved in to the restaurant bar for a final few drinks. A quiet Novacon, all told.

TAFF FANZINE SALE: Again, most of the stuff listed last time was sold, so here's another list: proceeds (less postage) to TAFF – cheques made payable to me, please – no foreign cheques, though US dollar bills are acceptable. If the stuff you want has gone, money can be held over for future sales, or whatever.

Starling 21 (Luttrells, 1972) @ 35p(75¢); Fantasy Advertiser Vol I, No 2 (Gus Willmorth, 1946) @ 35p(75¢); Sol 42, 43 (Tom Schlück, 1965/7) @ 35p(75¢) & 25p (60¢) respectively; Science Fiction Review 4, 14-24, 26-39, Index to 1-31 (Robert Franson, 1963-65) @ 10p(25¢) each; *A Fanzine For Atom/Rotsler (Ted Johnstone,1964) – a cartoonists' duel @ 50p($1); It's Tycho's Floor in '54! (Chuck Harris & Ken Slater, 1953) @ 20p(50¢); Microcosmos 1 (Claude Held & Ken Krueger, 1944) – one page missing @ 15p(35¢); Kangaroo Feathers 1 (David Grigg, 1973) @ 20p(50¢); Australian Sf Monthly 1 (John Bangsund, 1970) @ 20p( 50¢); Checkpoint 0 00,1-7,9-16, 21-25,27,30-37,39,46 (1971-74) @ five issues for 20p(50¢); Australasian Sf Society Membership List 1954 + 1954 Sydney con flier @ 10p(25¢); Jayland UnLtd 4 (Craig Hill, 1976) @ 15p(35¢); Inworlds 9-11 (Bill Bowers, 1973-74) @ 15p(35¢) the three; Report on the 1961 Festivention, A Message From The Future! (Forry Ackerman, 1944), Special Delivery (Ackerman & Morojo, 1944?), E.E.Evans' 1941 Denvention Talk, and Consomme, a 1953 Loncon Report (Ken Slater) – all single sheets @ any 3 for 5p(10¢) with other orders; Karass 5 (Linda Bushyager, 1974) @ 10p(25¢); Chunder 3 (John Foyster, 1972) @ 10p(25¢); Destiny 9 (Malcolm Willits & Earl Kemp, 1953) @ 25p(50¢).

The following are for sale as well; but only 10p on each copy will go to TAFF: Cry 136,140,146,146,150,152,153,164,160,163 (Seattle fans, 1960-62) @ 60p($1.25) each.

*thanks to Mike & Pat Meara for this item.

CHECKPOINT SF – a supplement of book reviews

The International Science Fiction Yearbook – ed. Colin Lester (Pierrot, £2.95)

A 400 page handbook of sf & fandom, The International Sf Yearbook is divided into 29 sections, covering everything from Latin American sf, sf libraries, and sf pseudonyms, to tv, apas, and fan awards. Each section has some sort of an introduction followed, in most cases, by a bibliography or relevant listing. Contributors include Ben Bova, Ramsey Campbell, Malcolm Edwards, and Darko Suvin (whose contribution is sufficiently incomprehensible to deserve a mention in "Pseud's Corner" for its abuse of the English language). Strangely enough, most of these guest contributors receive only hidden credit and their names can only be winkled out by a thorough reading of the text – they're not even listed on the contents page. Still, that's their problem.

The listings are undoubtedly the most important part of the book and there's enough of them to prove useful as a reference source and address list. If you need someone to translate an sf story into Hungarian, Flemish, or Turkish, you'll find your man in here; or if you've ever wanted to join the International Wizard Of Oz Club Inc or even, believe it or not, the mysterious Astral Leauge itself, you can turn to the Yearbook for help. Many of the listings need further work, as Colin admits, but if the book is to be published annually, they should certainly improve over the years.

The main trouble at the moment is the poor layout and dismal production. The binding is bad for a start – my copy is cracking already and I'm a member of the League of Careful Bookhandlers; it's an important point for a reference work and this sort of cheap paperback is simply inadequate. The layout and two-column format is also awkward to use and the listings deserve to be a lot clearer with the information more easily visible. An excessive number of misprints doesn't help, either. Finally, there's the artwork – book & fanzine covers, fillers, tv & film stills, cartoons (including specially commissioned ones from Jim Barker), and so on – all of which is spread in a rather ungainly & irritating fashion around the book, almost at random; it's murkily printed, and a lot of the stuff simply hasn't come out – you're just left with gloomy, over-inked shadow pictures.

Anyway, despite the poor production, the Yearbook is a useful reference volume for anyone involved in sf; and if the project continues and the printing and layout improves, then the International Sf Yearbook should be a welcome annual event.

Official Star Trek Cooking Manual – ed Mary Piccard (Bantam, $1.95, 95p)

Right, let's get on to the important books. This is a collection of genuine recipes from all the major members of the Star Trek crew plus selected recipes from the Federation, Vulcans, Romulans, and Klingons. From this we discover that all our prejudices are entirely correct, and that Kirk likes steak, Scottie eats haggis, and McCoy dotes on grits. The Klingons, of course, eat "kiros kai faki", otherwise known as "pigs' feet & pea soup", which is why they always lose. Mr. Spock & The Vulcans (yay!) turn out to be vegetarians (yay!), so I immediately rushed into the kitchen and cooked some "tabsheel", even though I didn't have any "true Vulcan makor tubers" (makor tubers being hard to come by in Dawlish). The result was edible.

Downward To The Earth – Robert Silverberg (Pan, 75p)

An Earthman revisits a planet dominated by two species, one elephantine and one simian, in order to witness and understand a mysterious rite known as "rebirth". The greater part of the narrative is in the form of a travelogue, and the novel's culmination in the alien ceremony resolves both the problems posed by the planet and those which beset the Earthman himself. Downward To The Earth is a well-written and neatly crafted novel with as solid a science fictional background as anyone could wish to read; the interaction of alien life (in the specific sense of fauna and flora) and of alien culture on the known physique and mind of a human being gives rise to some fascinating and memorable scenes. The only thing I can recall having previously read of Silverberg's is his novel, Thorns, which has remained fresh in my memory over the years because of its central image of an Earthman altered, physically, by aliens; the present novel stays with the same theme – and it remains a vivid and compelling one.

The Tomorrow File – Lawrence Sanders (Corgi, £1.50)

This is one of those big, thick, 'best-sellers' that usually come out of the popular mainstream and turn out to be tedious rehashes of elementary sf ideas – this one, for example, claims to be a "gripping novel of tomorrow's horrors", you know the sort of thing. Surprisingly, therefore, and despite its length, The Tomorrow File is entirely readable. Sanders is a good narrative writer, baiting his book with enough hooks (mysteries, plots, unresolved situations, &c) to keep his readers turning the pages out of simple curiosity; as it turns out, the plot itself isn't of any great consequence – it simply serves to give a picture of "tomorrow's horrors", a plastic future in a cold, corporative, cost-effective world ruled by Machiavellian nonentities. Sanders' invented jargon, irritating at first, becomes increasingly effective as the novel progresses, probably because it reflects the society of which it's supposed to be a part. That's neatly done. The only thing is, in the end, that the novelist's dystopian vision is no more than conventionally bleak. We've seen it all before. Our "horrors" have to be a bit more outre to make us sit up and take notice.


Star Rigger's Way (Jeffrey Carver, Dell, $1.75). Spaceship story with an alien that hisses in fractured English. Everyone else shouts in exclamation marks. Tired me out after a couple of pages, but I shouldn't think there's anything there, even if you're resilient enough to withstand Carver's prose.

The Last Rose Of Summer (Steve Gallagher, Corgi, 85p). Computer dominates zombie society of the near future. Hero pulls out plug. (I didn't read that far, but I checked the last page.) Based on a Manchester radio series.

The Corobite Mines (Peter Roberts, Manor, $1.50). An eldritch plot by Terry Hughes to make me feel completely paranoid – the bugger sent me this under plain wraps. "'On your feet!' barked one large Zotarian who stood in the center of the room, displaying his blaster." I don't remember writing this...

... Not The Same Peter Roberts, 1978.

MILFORD (UK): (Dave Langford, literary mobster, reports) "The 1978 Milford (UK) Writers' Conference rocked the foundations of the universe in a series of spasms from the 8th-15th of October. Members included some exotic foreigners – Charlotte Franke from Germany, Patrice Duvic (Leroy Kettle look-alike, imagine the horror of it) & Marianne Leconte from France, Duncan Lunan from the barbaric Pictish provinces – and enough boring old Britons to justify starting a new sentence. These were: John Brunner, Ken Bulmer, Pamela Bulmer ("Kathryn Buckley"), Richard Cowper, Dav Garnett, Jim Goddard, Rob Holdstock* (whose submission included exotic characters such as "Rian Burgess"), Garry Kilworth* (next year's Chairman), Bobbie Lamming* ("Robin Douglas"), Dave Langford* (me), Bob Parkinson, Chris Priest, Dave Redd (still secret master of Haverfordwest), and Andrew Stephenson*. Asterisks indicate wretched elitist members of the "Pieria Mob", the mere mention of which is sufficient to turn Ritchie Smith's stomach (no mean feat). Now the greatest force in literature since R.L.Fanthorpe, the Mob totally controls the '79 Milford committee... But I digress.

The savage criticisms and learned discussions all took place in the cheap and friendly Compton Hotel, Milford-on-Sea; feared tensions resulting from the hugeness of one or two (well, one) of the above Names somehow failed to materialize. Manuscripts were torn to pieces and flung in the face of the author, but in the most amiable fashion; virtually the only bit of exciting scandal was the Great Fire-Alarm Hoax which proved to be Ken Bulmer and Ken's pipe committing abominations near a smoke-detector. A micro-party at the weekend brought along half a dozen publishers' representatives. All these people, rather than hang about the writers' necks offering huge advances, preferred to play pool, darts, or drunk..." (DL)

PHILCON: (A brief report from Darrell Schweitzer) "Philcon 1978 was held over Halloween weekend at the George Washington Motor Lodge in King Of Prussia Pennsylvania, continuing the trend of cons not being held in the cities they're supposed to, but in outlying districts. While there were a few complaints about the motel-style layout of the place (no hall parties for want of halls) and the relative isolation, the convention went well, got along with the hotel staff, and didn't lose money. Michael Bishop's GoH speech was humorous and downright fannish, complete with a reading from a noted sf newszine published in an alternate universe. Also in attendance were Jack Williamson, Joan Vinge, Norman Spinrad, C.L. Grant, D.G.Hartwell, Gardner Dozois, and about 500 fans." (DS)

CoAs: Rob Jackson, 8 Lavender Rd, West Ewell, Surrey, KT19 9EB
Tim Marion, c/o 2032 Cross Bronx Expressway (Apt 3d), Bronx, NY 10472
Alan Sandercock, 44 Glen Rd, (Apt 1009), Hamilton, Ontario, LBS 4N2

OMPA STILL NOT DEAD: Or so says President Ken Cheslin. AE Keith Walker has been claiming that the twenty-four-year-old British apa has had its final mailing, but Ken (together with long-time member, Bobbie Gray) is willing to give the apa "one more go" before conceding defeat.

OMPA has been in poor condition since the late sixties when two AEs gafiated (the second one in Germany, to make matters worse) and mailings failed to appear. The association never recovered its membership or morale after that, despite revivals, and recently OMPA has dwindled to a few die-hards. Myself, I'd be delighted to see it revitalized, if such a thing is possible. If not, then I'd vote for an end to it all pretty swiftly. We shall see what happens.

THE PIT: Just for a change from the Conker, I thought we'd have the return of the Final Egoboo – your name in print below means that this is your last issue unless you do something: Marc Ortlieb, Pat Charnock, Martin Easterbrook, Roy Kettle, Graham Poole, Pete Presford, Ritchie Smith, Craig Miller, Ed Wood, and Jim Kenner. The axe may not fall, of course; but don't bet on it – you may just end up on my "if I have enough stamps left" list, which is almost as bad. For those that survive, next issue will probably sort out a few fanzines, for a change, and will be published sometime soon. If it doesn't come out before Christmas, have a happy one.

WEIRD TALES: Andrew Stephenson (19 Du Pre Walk, Wooburn Green, High Wycombe, Bucks, HP10 0QJ – have I got it right this time, Andrew?) now has the genuine UK rates for Noreascon Two, the Boston Worldcon in 1980. Supporting membership is £4.10 ($6) and attending membership is £7.69 ($15) rising to $20 after Dec 31st this year. There are special rates if you were a pre-supporter or voted in the site selection – ask Andrew. All cheques should be made payable to "Noreascon Two" and crossed.

* News from Darrell Schweitzer that's of importance to humanity in general – "On November 13th it was discovered that Tim C.Marion has an asymmetrically located navel, slightly right of center., which clearly indicates he is a mutant of as yet unknown powers. It was also discovered that Darrell Schweitzer's index fingers curved 30° inward, revealing him to be a reject from the old Invaders tv series." Darrell also announces that no more of his books will be published by T.K.Graphics because of problems with the outfit – so perish all aliens...

* Fantome Press have sent along a catalogue of their expensive little oneshots – you know the sort of thing, fifty numbered copies of a single poem set in 10pt Old Caslon & with handsewn wraps, &c. Unfortunately they forgot to put an address in their catalogue and, even worse, the pamphlet itself is poorly & smudgily printed. Ken Chapman is their UK agent; but I'd forget the whole thing, if their catalogue is an example of their craftsmanship.

* Don't forget to vote for TAFF. Cheers.

Glabrous, glaucous, rarely pulverulent or rugulose,
never pyriform or amygdaloid – so, it must be:


Peter Roberts
38 Oakland Drive
Dawlish, Devon

Printed matter reduced