November 1st to 21st, 1996
by Andy Hooper
1. Never Quite Arriving #5, written and edited by Christina Lake, 57 Edwards Rd., Wahroonga, New South Wales 2076 Australia: Take one of the better fan writers of the era and set her loose on an extended trip that will take her to four continents in a year, and one might hope a personalzine this good might be the result. NQA #5 covers the North American portion of Christina's trip, and she has succeeded in communicating how alien our culture is to her without descending into gratuitous insult or complaint. Various American fan personalities make neatly-drawn appearances in her report on Toner and the Worldcon, one of the better accounts of those events published to date. Christina also throws in an account of a visit to Mexico City, and a driving trip from Washington DC to Louisiana and back. And, perhaps most impressive of all, she has managed to assemble a letter-column while thousands of miles from home, and edited it quite well in the bargain. This would be an great fanzine from someone sitting at home with their regular equipment and copy-source, but from someone fluttering from time-zone to time-zone, it's simply staggering. (See Victor's column for more thoughts on this fanzine.)
2. Attitude #9, edited by Michael Abbott, John Dallman and Pam Wells, 102 William Smith Close, Cambridge CB1 3QF United Kingdom: One or two issues of Attitude have seemed as though they were put together out of large, unfinished slabs of writing, as if one had to bolt them together and apply an all-weather stain before reading. This issue, on the other hand, seems to have the fine grain and shiny veneer of a $5,000 desk set, and may be the single finest genzine of the year. After reading the preview of the programs to be presented at Attitude: The Convention (Feb. 14th to 16th, 1997), I feel both a desire to be there and some sense that I don't need to be, as each program's originator has covered their topic remarkably well. Other remarkable material comes from Lynne Anne Morse, on her experience with The Livingroom Project, a safe place for Dutch prostitutes to spend a few hours away from the street; Helena Bowles, with a thoughtful refutation of anti-pornography theory; some solid fanzine reviews from Michael Abbot, bouncing thematically off of Paul Kincaid's review column in Waxen Wings, etc. #3, and including an entertaining "Chinese Portrait" of some contemporary fanzines; and as usual, one of the most engrossing letter columns in fandom. We only get three more issues of this fine fanzine, so enjoy it while you can, folks.
3. Banana Wings #4, edited by Claire Brialey (26 Northampton Rd., Croydon, Surrey CR0 7HA UK) and Mark Plummer (14 Northway Rd., Croydon, Surrey CR0 6JE UK): I am in danger of succumbing to cyclical feedback here, as this issue has adopted as a major portion of its editorial focus my one-paragraph review of its second issue in Apak #60. Contrast this with Mr. Paul Kincaid's assault on Apak in his review column, which will have no perceptible effect on our philosophy and execution. Contrary to his assertion that this column is fundamentally worthless, I find that I accomplish just about as much in one page as he has here in five, and I never resort to the use of the word "hagiography." But, Paul does manage to point me towards Ian Williams' fanzine Siddhartha, which sounds well worth getting a copy of, so all is forgiven. Besides, if a fanzine which has now run 70 issues can't withstand the panning of one of them, something is seriously wrong. Oh, and the rest of it? The editors are both talented, thoughtful writers, able to handle humour and weighty issues of fannish philosophy with equal aplomb. They are younger fan-writers in the sense that they are still relatively new to the field, despite being well-experienced in fandom and informed enough to choose what traditions they like and which ones they think are just silly or perhaps it's just that they are the opposite of old and tired, whatever one wishes to call that. The first three fanzines in this countdown are damn near a dead-heat, if anyone's interested, and I recommend getting on the BW mailing list as enthusiastically as any current fanzine.
4. The Reluctant Famulus #46, edited by Tom Sadler, 422 W. Maple Ave., Adrian, MI 49221-1627: I have hacked rather dispassionately at this fanzine's failings in the past, but this issue is pretty good. It still seems to speak largely to a community of midwestern science fiction fans of which I am resolutely no part, but both the level of written material and the physical presentation of the zine have improved perceptibly in recent issues. Too bad that Tom claims exhaustion and the need to take a few months off from publishing; after 46 issues, he's really hitting his stride well. I quite liked Ken Cheslin's article on his experiences in the RAF, as well as another installment of Terry Jeeves' wartime recollections. And I also enjoyed an article from an author I'd not heard of before, Arlan Andrews, detailing some common elements of UFO sightings over military bases. And Tom's begun to commission art specifically to illustrate articles, which makes an amazing difference in the apparent premeditation of the fanzine. One cavil: I wish he wouldn't indulge his habit of inserting editorial comments after other writers' articles quite so much. If he feels that this stuff really can't stand on its own, it's no wonder he gives special emphasis to his need for new written material and artwork in the colophon.
5. Ansible #112, edited by Dave Langford, 94 London Rd., Reading, Berkshire RG1 5AU UK: As I expected, Mr. Langford's coverage of the recent TAFF disaster was accurate without being inflammatory, and he gives it exactly as much of his fanzine as it deserves. Dave also offers a few more words of follow-up on the dreadful publicity stunt by Penguin Books which had half the computer owners in Britain desperately scrambling to purge their systems of non-existent viruses. And, Aha! the return of postal stalker "Rachel Oliver," this time menacing the usually harmless Robert L. Forward. Whoever this person is, he or she seems to favor menacing the careers and sanity of "hard" sf writers far more than fantasists or magical realists; Dr. Benford, beware.
6. Glamour #2, written and edited by Aileen Forman, 7215 Nordic Lights Dr., Las Vegas NV 89119: Again, Aileen has set relatively modest goals for herself in this second issue of her new personalzine, and has achieved them with room to spare. I don't know of any other fanzine editors who have been able to write about personal experiences as a a high and low stakes blackjack dealer, and I get the impression that Aileen has only begun to scratch the surface of the stories which she could tell us about winners, losers and the culture that caters to them. Nice little letter column, too, and as is traditional with Las Vegas fanzines, a generous coating of Rotsler illustrations studded throughout. I like this zine, and expect more from it in the future.
7. Science Fiction Chronicle #190, edited by Andrew I. Porter, P.O. Box 022730, Brooklyn, NY 11202-3308: This is far from being the seventh best thing I got in trade this past three weeks, but one obviously must judge a slick newsstand magazine on a different level than one does a fanzine; rating SFC this low refers to its fannish value, which has become somewhat attenuated over the past few years, rather than its value as a record of the genre itself. In the latter regard, it remains quite impressive. The most notable thing about this issue was the huge and depressing accretion of obituaries which had piled up over the middle of the year.
8. Situation Normal?? Vol. 7, #11, edited by Aileen Forman for SNAFFU, P.O. Box 05041, Las Vegas, NV 89193-5941: The principal subject matter in this monthly club newsletter is Aileen's announcement that she has thrown her hat in the ring for the club's presidency, and then lists a few of the ideas she has for the future of the club. Her new columnist, Dave Bullis, returns with a few book reviews and a piece on the mortification to which adult collectors of model space-ships and action figures subject themselves and their families. I've been there, Dave; I shudder to think what our readers might think if they saw the number of military miniatures, plastic dinosaurs, toy soldiers and other tiny impedimenta with which I have cluttered my apartment.
9. Vanamonde #182, written and edited by John Hertz, 236 S. Coronado St., #409, Los Angeles, CA 90057: John has been sending this as a trade of sorts for Apparatchik, and while there is a limit to what one can expect of a one-sheet meant for inclusion in a weekly apa (in this case, APA-L), he usually includes a little material of interest to people outside the membership. In this issue, he reviews Greg Bear's Moving Mars (which he did not much like), and Barbara Hambly's Traveling With the Dead (which he did). Anyone who can summon up a remarkably apropos quote from Dr. Johnson on Shakespeare while reviewing a vampire novel has definitely got something going for him.
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