October 11th to 31st, 1996
by Andy Hooper
1. Stairway to Cleveland #3, for Anzapa by Marc Ortlieb, P.O. Box 215, Forest Hill 3131 Australia: Australian fanzine fandom has rather eluded my understanding over the 14-odd years I have been reading fanzines. There is only a tiny box of Oz fmz in my vast collection, largely because I have been willing to part with them over the years. Australian fanzines had rather dodgy reputation when I entered fanzine fandom, and I remember great slabs of Weberwoman's Wrevenge and Thyme left on the freebie tables at Brighton in '87, rejected by a whole Worldcon full of fanzine fans. Oh, if I could get my hands on them now! Anyway, I am finally beginning to attack this problem, and have been discovering that I really enjoy certain Australian fan writers, including Mr. Marc Ortlieb. While this is an apazine, and apparently reaching, what, 50 people?, it's the best thing I've read this month. Marc discusses the chaotic operations of his desk, encounters with children, in both his capacity as a teacher, and in changing his daughter's nappies, and offers a nifty piece of fan-fiction with actual stfnal content. Very good stuff, and the kind of thing that makes you lament that so much fine fan-writing is contributed to apas, and therefore read by far fewer readers than the work deserves.
2. Wild Heirs #18, edited by Arnie Katz and his weltanschaung, 330 S. Decatur, Suite 152, Las Vegas, NV 89107: The lead-off editorial implies that the issue rather fell between great Las Vegrant sidereal cycles, as if they were so many bar stools, but I actually found that #18 had a little more zest than the lumbering and hefty post-Toner tome that was #17 (see below). Arnie offers an appreciation of the 1971 Egoboo poll on fanzine excellence that kick-started my enthusiasm for his current poll, a ballot for which you should have received with the last issue (e-mail them at WildHeirs@aol.com for a copy if you're reading this without the benefit of paper). Tammy Funk continues to show that she seems to intend to follow in her patootie Tom Springer's footsteps as most notable new fanwriter of the lustrum, with an article that weaves together hard-boiled eggs with the search for the better bartenders in Las Vegas. Hard to believe that the editorial horde had not seen fit to reprint Greg Benford's fine GoH speech from SilverCon III until now, but it was a great pleasure to read. My only criticism of this fanzine continues to be the overzealous studding of art, mostly Rotsler's, throughout the zine. Having up to three cartoons per page tends to make them all blur together in the reader's eye, minimizing the impact of the individual toons.
3. Opuntia #29, Dale Speirs, Box 6830, Calgary, Alberta T2P 2E7, Canada: Dale continues to be obsessed with the historical methodologies of fanzine fandom. This issue features a brief lament for the demise of microfilm, and a preliminary history of fannish Round Robins. (Round Robins are circulating packets of letters or fanzines, each participant in which adds a new contribution each time it reaches them, concurrently removing the contribution they made on the previous cycle.) The issue wraps up with a brief letter-column, largely featuring writers with the same curmudgeonly attitudes which Dale professes. The fanzine equivalent of a box of Lemonheads candy.
4. Wild Heirs #17, Yon Las Vegas Mob, 330 S. Decatur, Suite 152, Las Vegas, NV 89107: These people continually shoot themselves in the foot by reprinting old fan articles (in this case, Elmer Perdue's "Elmurmurings # 4 or 5 or possibly 7") which are so redolent of history and pathetic (that's not a pejorative, guys) that contemporary writing pales by comparison. Forty years from now, Ben Wilson's account of making wine for Toner (I tasted some of it Ben; I swear I'll remember it forty years from now), and Joyce Katz' descriptions of the programming at that con may inspire equally-paroxysmic tremors of remembrance, but for now, it's hard to compete. All this being said, there's other good stuff here -- Ken Forman's notes on Toner and LACon, Ross Chamberlain's con-going memoirs, and the first two chapters of Martin Tudor's TAFF report, to name some of it -- all presented in an extra-chunky fifty-four Rotsler-studded pages. An extremely filling meal, that suffers only slightly from being served from the same envelope as brought the bravura issue #18. Burp.
5. Lan's Lantern #44, George "Lan" Laskowski, PO Box 801, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301-0801: Is it still a nickname if you yourself print it in quotes between your first and last names? I have such quizzical reactions to reading Lan's Lantern, which in addition to being a Hugo winner, must now be acknowledged as one of the more tenacious survivors in the field. George notes that he's gone through a divorce, explaining why this issue, a special tribute to Hal Clement, is late. Financial woes assail him, yet he remains committed to publication; who can avoid admiring this? I note that aside from Poul Anderson, who offers brief but glowing comments on Clement, there is no one here that I would particularly seek contributions from, yet many of the articles here emphasize the amo part of amateur, which most fans can easily relate to. Still, the design is simply not very good, with a dissonant selection of fonts, and not enough good art stuck in with some very bland fillos. The best thing in the issue is a great letter from Barnaby Rapoport, back before he began his career as a depressive hermit and gafiate. Lan knows what he likes, and has hardware to prove that his methods appeal to many, but I feel like there is a really good 20-page fanzine stuck in the body of this 30-pager.
6. Thyme #111, Alan Stewart, P.O. Box 222, World Trade Centre, Melbourne, Victoria 3005 Australia: Here now, why should I have to read of David Hartwell's engagement to Kathryn Kramer in an Australian fanzine? Congratulations . . . and oh, how entropy's cold absence of fingers can be felt at every turn: Red Squadron, the Battlestar Galactica club of Melbourne has disbanded. More compelling news appears here, Hugo results, World Fantasy awards, but there is altogether too much noise, like the single-sentence summaries of upcoming SF films. Edward McArdle's LACon report manages to make the event seem painfully dull, and I have trouble maintaining my interest through Ian Gunn's appeal to unify the alphabet soup which makes up Australia's various fannish awards. but I enjoyed Terry Frost's column, and it's nice to see Marv Binns and Alan still carrying forward with Australia SF News as a self-contained sub-section of the fanzine. And as always, the heart of the fanzine is the book reviews; Alan gets a remarkably erudite set of reviews from a large selection of writers, who cover a wide variety of genre books. Gunn's zine within the zine, Artychoke, features a selection of cartoons from Brad Foster, and four more pages of his epic strip "Space-time Buccaneers." Thyme is like one of those "antique malls" which are really displays of junk manned by seventeen different collectors in a tin hut on the edge of town: Things may look a bit flyblown and disorganized, but when you start looking, there's some nice carnival glass and Kwakiutl festoons tossed in among the old National Geographics and Grand Teton National Park Salt and Pepper Shakers.
7. Sempervivum #2.1, Dale Speirs, Box 6830, Calgary, Alberta T2P 2E7, Canada: One certainly can't accuse this whimsical convention one-sheeter of being too long. Dale is one of the more creative Xerox artists still working in fandom; most people interested in this kind of collage or humor by non-sequitur of juxtaposition (damn, I'm lurching toward something Clute-like here) have long since gone into the golden west of mail-art fandom by now, so this rather ties in with Dale's affection for lost fan-motifs. He used this title for a daily at the Canadian national con earlier this year; now he resurrects it to present details from the Bayeaux tapestry with caption referent to Worldcon events. A gentle goof, nicely done.
8. The Canadian Journal of Detournement #13, Dale Speirs, Box 6830, Calgary, Alberta T2P 2E7, Canada: And then there's the CJOD, another foray into Xerox art, but one which can strike an altogether more disquieting tone. sometimes I look at the blown-up cartoons and Ghanaian Interpol commemoratives and clip art and imagine deeply sinister implications in them -- this one refers to traffic-monitoring photo-radar and police surveillance with a tiny frisson of the surreal tossed in. It's a skillful artists who can make you laugh and creep you out at the same time.
9. Door Knob #52, for SAPS by Robert Lichtman, P.O. Box 30, Glen Ellen, CA 95442: This is a tiny apazine, entirely consisting of mailing comments -- I wouldn't list it at all except to note that Robert uses Bill Rotsler's art in the manner which I most prefer -- a single, rather haunting, sketch of a stfnal structure with half-seen figures and heavy shadows, confirming for the one millionth time that the man is as skilled an artist as he is a humorist.
10. Situation Normal?? Vol.7 #10, edited by Aileen Forman for SNAFFU, P.O. Box 95941, Las Vegas, NV 89193-5941: Aileen presents the usual calendar of events in Las Vegas, but doesn't have to do the whole issue by herself this time. David Bullis has answered her call for material, even though he and his wife don't live in Vegas anymore. He offers a brief account of their travels from Nevada to Korea to Ft. George C. Meade in Maryland (Home of the National Security Agency), and some brief book reviews. It's a start. It's no fun trying to do a clubzine in a club where everyone is busy doing a big-time genzine like Wild Heirs (plus they have an apa too).
11. Fannish Free Press Vol. 1, #2, no editor listed, but coming to us from Bob Tucker: Well, this came without explicit explanation, but it appears to be a collection of things over heard at this year's Archcon, where Bob was a guest, intertwined with explicit comments from the anonymous editor who runs something called "The Warthog Press." bitchin' name, unknown dude. As usual with such things, it's rather hit or miss. My favorite: "As a seamstress, she makes a good potter."
12. Pinkette #15e, Karen Pender Gunn, P.O. box 567, Blackburn, Victoria 3130, Australia: Another tiny chunk of GUFF report, plus a number of other notes, some of which are about cars and/or driving. My favorite is the lyrics by of a song by some one called "Oxo-Cubans," which features the chorus: "But my car's got a nice new roof rack/Bright and shiny and new/It really is a very nice roof rack/To carry my love to you." Also, the world's smallest letter-column. Please do not push, the flea circus is very fragile.
13. De Profundis #294, Tim Merrigan for the LASFS, 11513 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601: I'm getting rather a nasty headache from trying to find yet another clever way of saying that his fanzine is an indifferently-reproduced collection of announcements and meeting minutes of interest to few people outside of the Los Angeles area, leavened only occasionally by particles of stray humor, so I think I'll go lie down now. I did like the Pueblo Indian art commemorative stamp it was mailed with, though.
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