August 27th to September 17th, 1996
by Andy Hooper
1. The Incompleat Burbee, Vol.2, edited by Terry Carr, and published by Jeff Schalles, 3444 Blaisdell Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55408-4315: This is a project that has been about twenty years reaching completion, and it still isn't the mimeographed edition which Jeff had sought to produce (although that might yet happen). Even so, it's a glorious thing, full of history in the difficult path it took to publication (Terry Carr chose the material and typed all the text onto stencil in the early seventies, but never secured art or headings for it, and left the project incomplete at his death in 1986. Since then, the stencils passed from Dave Rike to Arnie Katz and then to Jeff), as well as the halcyon days and characters of LA Fandom which Burbee immortalized so famously. I love the blocky typewritten copy, and the art by Steffan, Kinney, Fletcher, Rotsler, Kunkel, Stiles and Reed Waller compliments that look superbly. Jeff was selling these for $8.00 in LA; write to him for information on how to get your own.
2. Bento #7, edited by David Levine and Kate Yule, 1905 SE 43rd Ave., Portland, OR 97215: I really love this fanzine. It's like a brief and delightful visit from its editors -- I can always hear Kate and David's voices in my heads while I'm reading it. They fill its tiny pages with little insights into their worldview and lifestyle, and accomplish more than many editors who publish ten times more material. The highlight this time is a piece called Immigrants, which compares the experiences of Windows '95 users to that of people passing through Ellis island. Someone (Geri Sullivan?) read it aloud on a panel at Worldcon, and it got big laughs. I also liked the interlineations, and was impressed that they got in about as many letters as we do in the average issue of Apak. A good choice at FAAA award time . . . .
3. Oblong # 1 - 3, edited by Bruce Townley, 1732 Washington St. #8, San Francisco, CA 94109-3625: The most recent of these fanzines was dated April of this year, but I'm grateful to Candi Strecker for suggesting that Bruce send them to me. There's only a very tenuous connection to fandom itself here, but Bruce exhibits such a fannish sensibility in his writing that it just feels right to include him in it. Many of the articles here are of the sort that make you feel like the writer is dogged by strange ideas that will not leave him alone until he has written them down -- stuff about the Winchester Mystery House, Big Daddy Roth graphic software, weird film noir, and so forth. The latest issue has an atmospheric piece by William Breiding about being scared half to death by an owl while camping in West Virginia, so perhaps Bruce is planning to open out the work into a genzine. Whatever, this is the sort of weird we need more of.
4. Have Bag, Will Travel # 1 - 4, written and edited by Martin Tudor, 24 Ravensbourne Grove, Off Clarke's Lane, Willenhall, West Midlands, WV13 1HX Great Britain: Well, I'm impressed. When Martin said that he would write and distribute his trip report during the TAFF trip, I thought that either the project would prove too much, or that it would come off as rather skimpy work. But this is interesting writing, and it's appeared just as he said it would. Given the banking nightmares Martin recounts in the first issue, I'm surprised people didn't come up and press five dollar bills into his pockets at odd intervals -- he has my vote as the TAFF delegate who suffered the most inconvenience and plain stress in the course of his trip. My only complaint is that the breathless pace of the work has left Martin little time to reflect much on the events and people he has seen -- just keeping up the narrative would be enough to daunt most fan writers -- and there is very little sense of what Martin's opinion or feelings about these events are. On the other hand, Martin has never really reached Ounsley-like heights of self-examination in his work, so this may have been the best idea for him. And there is always the chance that we will eventually see an annotated version in the future. Two more chapters to go, so we'll see more of this next time.
5. Gotterdammerung #7 & 1/2, edited by Tommy Ferguson, Mark McCann and James McKee, 42 Ava Drive, Belfast BT7 3DW Northern Ireland: If you want to see a copy of this, act quickly, as Tommy is still planning to move to Toronto at the end of November. This issue features a continuation of the two main articles from #7, hence the fractional number. Tommy tells the rest of the story on his trip to Cuba, and McCann continues his description of the impact which political unrest (and general hooliganism) has had on his life. Interesting stuff, as usual, and not the sort of thing which you'll find in every garden-variety fanzine. I don't know what they'll do with Tommy taking up residence in Canada, but here's hoping they continue to publish.
6. Wild Heirs #16, edited by Arnie Katz, Tom Springer, and numerous others, 330 S. Decatur, Suite 152, Las Vegas, NV 89107: I think I must have gotten an especially bad copy this time out; numerous pages have big streaks of faded toner and terribly pale art. This is one of the problems with running your own Xerox; you can't hand back poor copies and ask the guy at the counter to run them again. But such quibbling aside, this is the best issue of WH we've seen in a while. The best piece is Joyce Katz' "The Gafiate," fictionalizing her sad interaction with a former fannish friend who has gone irreparably sour on fandom. It's the best piece Joyce has done since her own return from Gafia, very moving writing. Also impressive is Marcie Waldie's account of some hiking mishaps, and Greg Benford's "Kollapse," which is another look at Burbee's "Big Name Fan." And Rob Hansen's secret "origin story" made me laugh out loud -- how often do you see jokes about Dave Ish anyway? The type seems a little smaller here -- I think the WH gang are gradually re-appraising and adapting their design, which is always a good way to keep things fresh. On the other hand, they still seem to feel that every single page needs to have art on it, often more than one piece. Well, these things take time. The zine is still like a direct jolt of fannishness jacked right into your forebrain, and people unable to find anything good about it are people to stay away from.
7. Proper Boskonian #3, edited by Kenneth Knabbe for NESFA, P.O. Box 809, Framingham, MA 01701-0203: Lumbering clubzines chock-full of con reports, book reviews and letters from such luminaries as Harry Andruschack and Joseph T. Major are not usually my sort of thing, but I have to give NESFA credit for putting out a very dedicated and polished product here. Production values -- clever cartoons by Ian Gunn, clean fonts, simple and legible layout -- are often an important compensation when the material isn't as strong or pointed at your interests as you might like. When I got to the fan lounge on Friday afternoon at Worldcon, I was told that the editor of this fanzine was incredibly keen to meet me for some reason. Mr. Knabbe turned out to be one of those terribly earnest fans who have a certain amount of trouble understanding why people like me aren't panting to read more reviews of Orson Scott Card novels, or Evelyn Leeper's excruciatingly detailed convention reports, and would prefer to tell funny stories or have a beer together. I'm not sure what benefit he could possibly derive from the copies of this fanzine which I handed off to him, nor how enthusiastic I am about trading with Proper Boskonian, but I do respect someone with a clear vision of what they want to do and the energy and dedication to do it. I'm sure the members of NESFA feel well-served by this fanzine, and any opportunity to see more of Ian Gunn's work is always welcome.
8. The Tudor Dynasty, edited by Bernie Evans, et al, 121 Cape Hill, Smethwick, Warley, West Midlands, B66 4SH GB: This is a nice collection of the aforementioned TAFF victim's writing, put together by his pal Bernie with the assistance of people like Tony Berry, Dave Hicks and Dave Mooring, and Spike Parsons. I've got a few copies to hand as well; if you'll send five dollars my way (to benefit TAFF, or course), I'll send you a copy. My favorite bit was Hosepipes, Worldcons and Broken Doors, which details -- no, I can't do it justice. You'll just have to buy a copy and read for yourself. If you dare.
9. Wild Patience #2, written and edited by Berni Phillips, 1161 Huntigndon Dr., San Jose, CA 95129-3124: Personalzines require one of two things to be successful. Either the writer must be especially skilled in making the mundane details of their life seem interesting to the casual reader, or they must have a reasonably interesting life with details and incidents which can attract readers who are not particularly close friends or acquaintances of the author. Berni is a pretty good writer to begin with, but she's had quite a lot happen to her since she handed round the first issue of this zine at ConFrancisco in 1993. Her job was pulled out from under her, various fannish events have had their way, and she and David Bratman got married. Interesting stuff. But what puts this ahead of the average personalzine is that Berni includes an interview with her mother, concerning her experiences with the US Navy Women's Reserve during WWII. This sort of thing is becoming rather popular in fanzines -- another installment of Graeme Cameron's father's war memories came the same week -- but this is the first one that I can recall seeing by a woman. Anyway, Berni, this is a really nice fanzine, and it would be great if you could find a way to publish in years when the Worldcon is not held in California . . . .
10. Plokta #3, edited by Steve Davies (52 Westbourne Terrace, Reading, Berkshire RG30 2RP GB) and Alison Scott (42 Tower Hamlets Road, Walthamstow, London E17 4RH GB: Hmmm. These folks seem to have taken it upon themselves to develop a definition of the word ephemeral as it applies to fanzines. Lots and lots of photos from Farber Day, for which I'm grateful, but as always it helps to know who you're looking at. The stuff about superfluous technology has ceased to hold my attention, and the articles about trying to eat at an Afghan restaurant and the finer points of running the alternative newszine at Eastercon were probably a lot more fun if you'd been there. The best thing here is a robust lettercol, which indicates that a lot of people are getting into the rather silly spirit behind the zine. Someone send them some articles!
Also Received: Muse 134, Steven desJardins; Farber World News #1 & 2, Steve Davies, et al; Ethel the Aardvark #67, Paul Ewins for the Melbourne Science Fiction Club; VFD #3, Arnie Katz; Space Cadet Gazette #6, R. Graeme Cameron; Glamour #1, Aileen Forman; Opuntia #28.5, Dale Speirs; Hardwired #1, Gene Bostwick; Twink #3, E.B. Frohvet; MSFire Vol. 2, #3/4, Lisa Mason, for MSFS; NLE Letters, Forman/Springer/Wilson; PhiloSFy#3, Alexander Slate; It Goes on the Shelf #16, Ned Brooks; Situation Normal?? Vol. 7, #9, Aileen Forman for SNAFFU; The Knarley Knews #59, Henry & Letha Welch.
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