Dispatches to Apak
[ APH: We start the letter column with a note from HOWARD WALDROP (Box 5103 Oso General Store, 30230 Oso Loop Rd., Arlington, WA 98223, written scant hours after his return from Australia last month: ]
'Won't give a trip report -- it was too great and this is the Tuesday after a 39 hour set of Mondays getting back, but -- the meeting with Dowling and Nick happened, but lasted ~ 39 minutes, instead of the projected 11 hours. Arrived in Sydney to find (on filling out my "do you own a horse?" questionnaire from the Australian Health Commission form) that the 12 hour stopover was on my itinerary, but my Ansett ticket was for a 10:55 am flight (this was at 7 am). The two young chums stood in line w/me at the international/domestic transfer counter (if you ever find yourself in Ansett trouble at Sydney, ask for Cedric). "Which is right?" I asked him. "Well, neither, which is obviously our fault," he said. "Which one would you like? Or, I can get you out of here in 27 minutes," he said.[ APH: Having had a chance to see it now, I agree that it is one pretty book. Hope we all get a chance to buy it soon, Howard. And it's kind of touching to note that program schedules are hard to manage all over the world. Before everyone sends in their "most incongruous bagpipe music" anecdote, I'll shut it down right here: Princes St., Edinburgh, 1987. The piper stood at the foot of the Scott monument, of course. The tune: "Mama, weer all crazee now" by Slade.
"Go for it!" yelled the erstwhile pals. We went for it; they got me to the gate (in another terminal) just in time for the boarding announcement. I hope to see them (and the swell lady Terry was with) again. (Cedric too. I shook his hand.)
'Two memories: I collapsed three pm that same Sunday at Russell Farr's. I think I twitched twice. Then it was five a.m. Summer dawn. I walked to King's Park (two and a half miles, er . . . 4.75 kilometers away) -- there's a Tobruk monument with a 76.2mm field gun; and the entire roadway was lined with trees planted for the dead Aussies -- name, unit, date, age (17-year-old captains, 47-year-old privates . . . .) of the dead of World War I, planted by (it says who) family, friends, wives, girlfriends, etc. -- about half were from Gallipoli; (some were from Beaumont Hamel) Polygon Woods, etc. ( some died in service in 1919 -- the 'flu) it was sort of a true memorial -- some trees just planted, some 40 feet high. And getting out of a car -- me and him the only people in a park in Perth, was a piper in full regalia. And . . . and he started to play . . . .
'What he started to play was "Happy Birthday to You."
'The other great memory -- third day of Swancon -- I was scheduled for two panels opposite each other, chose the funny-book one. Just as it started (this was on Australia Day) the ENTIRE CONVENTION came into the panel room and sang "Waltzing Matilda" to me, while I showed the words to it, clipped out of a Life magazine article on On the Beach in 1959, that I've carried in every billfold I've owned since I was 13 . . . .
'You can't pay for quality experiences like those, son.
'P.S.: A friend just had the pleasure of opening an envelope and having a check for $100,000 fall out of it . . . (You figure an amount like that is so big you have to write 2 checks for it).
'P.P.S.: Going Home Again is about the most beautiful book you'll ever see . . . .'
Now, RICHARD BRANDT (4740 N Mesa #111, El Paso TX 79912, e-mail this week to firstname.lastname@example.org) responds to Lesley Reece's article on rail travel in #72 with a train story of his own: ]
'In order to reach my parents' house for Thanksgiving, we decided to fly into New Orleans Tuesday night, then catch the train into Mobile, leaving the Big E.Z. at five in the afternoon and getting in around eight. Unfortunately this was the weekend after the big Amtrak derailment (at least no riverboats plowed into the Riverwalk while we were searching for the Cafe du Monde annex -- and hey, thank goodness the casino was spared), and we were treated to a three-hour delay while one of the bridges was inspected. One woman was unable to keep her two small children from running up and down the aisle -- or the boy from stomping back and forth after he'd tuckered out the girl -- so sleep was pretty much out of the question. One advantage of staying in a hotel though is the newspapers -- we had the Times-Picayune, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal, as a consequence of which I am now more of an authority on the turducken than you would dare to contemplate.[ VMG: I'd like to see the spot where that freighter tried to parallel park -- to my way of thinking that was one of the coolest stories of the year: freighter versus hotel, with no serious injuries. Whoa.
'Greg Benford's musing on the auctorial subconscious didn't really hit home for me until Joseph Nicholas related it to fanwriting -- and by gum, I've had that experience myself. A piece I conceived and ultimately promised Robert for Trap Door lay gestating in my mind for a couple of years; then one day Michelle and I were munching on the all-you-can-eat buffet at Cici's Pizza when suddenly, unbidden, an image came into my mind from one of the experiences I was aiming to write about -- desolate chile fields stretching to the flat horizon -- and bang, all the pieces fell into place. We paid our check and skedaddled back home, and I bashed out the piece in one sitting. My subconscious is a hungry little beast, I gather.
Somewhere in me, for another example, is an article I would call "The Girl Who Mispronounced Fanzine," about the fanzine panel at Confederation in 1986. Katherine Scarritt, whose fanzine Universal Translator made the Hugo ballot that year thanks to a concerted push by mediazine fans, appeared to defend her claim against such stalwarts as Teresa Nielsen Hayden. (A real article would require sufficient research to produce the names of the other panelists, but my subconscious has not yet provoked me to this flurry of activity.) Someone had lent Katherine a stack of fannish 'zines so she could get a sense of what was up with that, but they didn't move her. "They seemed to be full of people going on about their medical problems," she reported. And so plus Áa change. (The girl who mispronounced fanzine was an audience member, by the way. Rhymes with "roadsign." Repeatedly mispronounced the word in the course of a comment from the gallery until Teresa in her annoyance burst out with, "ZINE! ZINE! It's derived from maga-ZINE, for . . . ." I keep this incident to heart as evidence that the gulf between fannish fanzine fans and media zine fans is due only in part to differences in our cultural grounding; in fact, some of them appear to be totally fucking clueless.)'
JERRY KAUFMAN (3522 NE 123rd St, Seattle WA 98125, e-mail to JAKaufman @aol.com) has lots of comments on #74: ]
'Apak 74 is so good, I had to write to say so. I was laughing along with, or at, stuff in the issue when I ran across the Gordon Eklund line about the winter having been "like a porcupine in a sleeveless dress." The line hit me like a slug in the teeth. Hard to chew, hard to swallow. Hard to forget.[ APH: We did not cut any references from Ted's piece in #74. Your last point seems particularly instructive, Jerry: It is important to remember that there are probably less than 500 people in the whole world who really want to go to Corflu. Or, if one takes the opinions of DALE SPEIRS (Box 6830 Calgary, Alberta T2P 2E7 Canada) as being typical, perhaps that number is a whole lot smaller: ]
'I laughed with (or at) Randy Byers. "Fake fan" and "fringe fan" definitions so convincing, so detailed, so obsessive: only a trufan would delve so deep, so long. Come up for air, Randy. You're as true a fan as David Emerson was when he admitted, after ten conventions, five fanzines, and one slan shack that he was a fan.
'Lesley on Socrates was fun, too. I often had the reaction she had to Soc's method. He seemed to badger people until he got the answer he wanted, then used it to prove how wrong the answerer was. How about the way he "proved" reincarnation by getting a slave (or was it a child?) to demonstrate some Euclidean theorem, claiming that the slave had never been taught math and so must be remembering it from a previous life?
'I don't know whether Ted left the Seattle Corflu out of his argument, or whether you excised it. Jane, Kate, Suzle, me and others put on the only Corflu that won a contested bid. I don't recall now whether the Texas fans or our group spoke first, and I don't recall anyone telling us that we were flouting tradition and ought to work things out behind the scenes. I do know that the tradition wasn't set in stone before then.
'It's quite possible, though, that the outcome was what led to the tradition becoming entrenched. The Texas group is the only one that has expressed interest without having the chance to follow through, to my knowledge. Shortly after we won the bid, Edd Vick moved to Seattle (becoming part of our committee). Not too long after that the other folks either moved or gafiated. They could have done a 1988 Corflu but by 1989 they were scattered. The theory is, I gather, that with the non-competitive bid process this shouldn't happen.
'I should also mention that bidding for Corflu was not an expensive deal. We printed and mailed some flyers, and I published a bid fanzine, Squinch, which also functioned as an outlet for some of my writing. Even with a hotly contested race
'(I recall ours as polite, friendly and mildly bantering, like Jim Barker and Dave Langford's TAFF race), there wouldn't be much point in Worldcon-style politicking, since there would be few potential voters at any one con.'
'Apak #74 received today. Ted White's vision of Corflu going back to fanzine fandom's roots as a replacement for the original intent of Worldcons seems reasonable enough. In his penultimate paragraph he mentions the need to bring serconzines on side, and here, I think, is the critical factor for making Corflu the new gathering place for all fanzine fans. I'm not a congoer in the first place, so perhaps I am out of place in criticizing, but the distinct impression I get from reading con reports about Corflu and Ditto is that they are relaxicons, not "real" SF cons. It may be great for old friends to meet at Corflu, it may be fashionable to go restaurant-hopping instead of taking in the panels, and it may be traditional to vote GoHs and other fun things, but will that bring in the sercon zinesters? Many cities are now having zine fairs, where most of the zinesters are non-SF. Shouldn't this sort of thing be considered as a potential recruiting ground? Shouldn't Corflu be aiming at that kind of market instead of rehashing the TAFF wars? I only know about Corflu what I read in the zines, and thus get the distinct idea that is it were held in my city I wouldn't bother going to it because it us just a bunch of BOFs desperately trying to keep alive old traditions and partying.[ APH: Uh-huh, Dale. And this is innately entertaining, while Corflu is not. See my comment on Tom Feller's letter later on for my general views on recruiting for Corflu. Meanwhile, HARRY CAMERON ANDRUSCHAK (P.O. Box 5309, Torrance, CA 90510-5309) does what he can to establish a "Them" to go with our "Us": ]
'Speaking of traditions, don't forget a new one. World Wide Party #4. On June 21st at 21h00 local time wherever you are, raise a glass and toast fellow fans around the world. Have a party, do a one-shot zine, or just quietly make a salute. The idea is to get a wave circling the planet of fans celebrating. Afterwards, write up your account and send it to your local zine; if not Apak, then my zine Opuntia.'
'Received Apparatchik #74 today, and boy was I stunned to read Ted White's article that included, on page 2, the suggestion that Corflu was also the convention for Sercon fanzine fans. Such as myself. (I have contributed in the past to Lan's Lantern and continue to contribute to each issue of Fosfax. I also still read science fiction and fantasy.)[ VMG: I can't claim the kind of experience with Corflu that Ted or Andy can, but I think the main reason Corflu exists is to give science fiction fans a place to meet where they aren't surrounded by thousands. While Corflu will probably never be a sercon con (in the old sense of the term, and I'll stop there), I've never seen sercon conversation (or program items) disallowed. Corflu should welcome all fanzine fans, whether they are faanish or sercon. ]
'And would Ted White's new open-mindedness even extend to Guy H. Lillian III and HIS fanzine? Well, if so, maybe just having a Corflu committee actually writing to faneds with an invite might be enough. Or at least make it clear in the Corflu publications that the term "fanzine fan" does not mean exclusively stuck-in-the-50s faannish zine publisher. Who knows . . . perhaps apans would be the next admitted to the Corflu fold?
'I did not find any fan achievement award ballot in my copy of the newsletter. I assume this reflects my lack of credentials in being a "faanish" style of fanzine fan. Quite right, because if a ballot had been enclosed I am sure I would have voted for FOSFAX.'
[ APH: I'm sorry we somehow managed to leave the ballot out of your envelope, Harry; we were very tired when we assembled the last issue, and I imagine we might have missed one or two other people. On the other hand, the rest of your letter is the same mean-spirited and willfully stupid crap I've been reading from you for almost 20 years now, so there is a limit to how much sympathy I feel. The only real barriers in fandom are the ones we erect ourselves, and as far as I can tell, Fort Andruschak is completely impregnable.
Now, these opinions from JOSEPH NICHOLAS (15 Jansons Rd., South Tottenham, London N15 4JU UK) were combined from his last two letters; we wanted Joseph to have a chance to read Never Quite Arriving #5 before we printed his comments on Victor's review: ]
'. . . In Apparatchik 71, Victor says in reply to Tracy Benton's comments about Christina Lake's Never Quite Arriving that "there is no way I could compress my feelings on seeing the AIDS quilt into two sentences and feel like I'd done it justice". I haven't seen the issue of NQA in question -- I don't know if anyone in Britain has seen a copy, but then if I was going on an extended global jaunt I wouldn't worry about taking my mailing list -- but that won't prevent me from making the general point that Victor is not Christina. And because Christina is not Victor, their reactions (to anything and everything) are bound to differ -- so the fact that Victor can't compress his feelings about the AIDS quilt into two sentences tells us absolutely nothing about Christina or her writing. That he found her comments "throwaways" or "cinderblocks" suggest to me, particularly in the light of Tracy's comments that she has no problems, that Victor was upset that Christina didn't view the AIDS quilt in the same light as him. But why should she? If quilting is a particularly US occupation, as it seems to be, then for a Briton it clearly won't have the same cultural resonance. Further, it may interest Victor to know that Christina has previously described the AIDS quilt as "typically American and over-emotional" -- although I should add that (a) I'm quoting from memory, and (b) the remark appeared in a review of a Brian Earl Brown fanzine in which she was contrasting her initial impression of the thing in the manner in which he discussed it (i.e., she was concerned with the quality, not the object, of his description), so the phrase may not be truly representative of her views, either then or now.[APH: This is from this week's postcard: ]
'Incidentally, copies of NQA 5 have now appeared here, and having read it, I can't see what Victor's problem is. He's wrong and everyone who disagreed with him is right.'[ VMG: Hey Joseph. Let me set your mind at ease: At no point in my writing of fanzine reviews do I believe that the points I'm trying to make are unassailable. To believe that would be pompous, pretentious and certainly unrealistic, as I've made plenty of statements in the past that I later disagreed with. I write what I feel about the content and style in a fanzine; if I didn't get as much out of two paragraphs in Christina's piece as you did, then I'm sorry. We disagree, and I'm perfectly willing to listen to your arguments.
But I'm not going to stop being critical when I think it's called for. If part of an article falls short of the rest, I'll note that. In fact, had I not been acclimatized to Christina's fine writing, those paragraphs might not have had that effect; they would have seemed perfectly fine coming from the majority of fans who can't write as well as Christina. Christina tells of her mixed emotions in those passages but doesn't explicate. They suffered in contrast to the rest of her writing.
While I would genuinely prefer to resolve whatever it is that has put us at odds, I am compelled to make one other comment: Hammering on a person for making a single critical comment in an otherwise positive review might not be the best way to handle it. But that doesn't mean you don't have a point.
ROBERT LICHTMAN (P.O. Box 30, Glen Ellen, CA 95442) brings us back to the Corflu discussion: ]
'Except that the conversation between Ted, rich and Linda took place at Corflu 1, not 2, (is this a typo?) the other details are correct), everything in Dr. Fandom's Corflu Primer jibes with my own knowledge of Corflu folkways. I agree with Ted's observation that Corflu has become the Worldcon of fanzine fandom, and I think that the U.K. bid makes this even more obvious. What next -- a rotation plan? I also agree that it would be good if more than "the fannish hardcore" started attending.[ APH: I don't know where that typo originated, but let us assume it was me for the sake of general amity. Personally, it seems to me that anyone capable of carrying on a meaningful internal dialogue as to their fake/fringe/trufan status has already answered the question.
'For Randy Byers, I offer the following definition of "Fake Fan" from Fancyclopedia II: "Phrase coined about 1940, applied to Jack Wiedenbeck, who roomed with fans and enjoyed their company but shunned all responsibility in fan doings and institutions. Generally speaking, one who hangs around fans but takes no active part in fan affairs, and may not read fantasy. Fans are, after all, at least theoretically fantasy enthusiasts; fake fans are fandom enthusiasts. They don't read prozines. (Sometimes they don't even read fanzines.) They don't remember vast numbers of insignificant details about fantasy stories and their authors, illustrators and publishers. They don't collect books or proz. Fake fans do not have the haggard look that is the mark of the true fan trying to keep abreast of the latest developments in stfdom. And there are some fans who describe themselves as fakefans to symbolize disinterest, but their continued fanac belies them." The latter category, I imagine, could be considered both true fan (by dint of continued fanac) and fake fan (by proclamation, at least -- "it takes one to know one" carried to its absolute), so Tami can still qualify for joint status. If she wants to.
'Regarding Lesley's article: I never read Plato's Symposium but from other texts I seem to recall my impression of Socrates was also that he was an asshole. I'm annoyed by the misuse of "it's" and "its" (as Andy well knows from the early days, before I Gave Up), but I don't think it's something to get worked up over. Point it out and drop it. When I lived on The Farm, we had three considerations we were supposed to ponder about what we might say before speaking to someone in a situation: Was it kind? Was it necessary? Would it help? Only if the answer to all three was in the affirmative was it okay to proceed. (Would that all there actually lived up to this ideal.) I've tried to apply this to my participation in fandom this time around as much as possible.
'With the youngest of my four sons to turn 21 on Christmas Day 1997, I can tell Christine Bzdawka that you are never completely free of "the shackles of parenthood," as you put it, although you have choice after they come of age as to how much you want to continue the "attendant responsibilities" once you're no longer legally bound. And just who are these mysterious but anonymous "chronically ill fans" to whom she refers, who are "without generous health insurance benefits" but who "manage to function"? A strange accusation.'
GEORGE FLYNN (P.O. Box 1069, Kendall Square Station, Cambridge, MA 02142) emerges from the whirl of Boskone: ]
'I managed to miss all the internet fooferaw about the British Corflu, and heard about the whole thing in conversation at Boskone. I was wondering how much explication there would be in Apak . . . I'm glad the matter appears to be settled.[ APH: I think our devotion of this entire issue to convention reports and ideas should make it clear that we don't consider cons a less-worthy form of fanac. And now, TOM FELLER (P.O. Box 13626 Jackson, MS 39236) wonders why Corflu can't be more congenial to the average fan: ]
'Ted asks, "Where are the publishers of Fosfax and Lan's Lantern?" Well, they've both been at Dittos, if not Corflus. (But the tendency toward polarization between Corflu and Ditto is a whole other depressing issue. Hmm, I wonder if an overseas Corflu might tend to increase attendance at that year's Ditto.)
'Hey, let's have none of these aspersions on "low-class convention fans with their meeting minutes": that sort of thing has accounted for most of my pubbing of late. Why, I just got out a 34-page set of minutes for the L.A.con Business Meeting. (Mind you, maybe about 7 pages of that are my words, the rest being the texts of motions and reports, most of which I could just stick in electronically: I'm not totally crazy.)
'I recently did a very quick skim through the Lensmen novels to find suitably grandiose bits to quote in the Boskone Newsletter. Yes, Gordon's "as involving as a cereal box" is about right. Two m's in "Don D'Ammassa" (and I don't care if that makes Lesley think I'm an asswipe; actually, what really annoys Don is that Locus nearly always gets it wrong).'
'Thanks for sending the zine and to Ted White and Andy Hooper for their explanations of the Corflu voting process. Where the bidding process is completely informal, I can see how misunderstandings arise.[ APH: Tom, Lucy Huntzinger did not promote Corflu to Nashville fandom because she assumed they would have no interest in it, and in general, I think she was right. For all that Dale Speirs' comments on Corflu bordered on insult, he's quite correct that it has little to offer to people looking for a typical sf con. I'm all for encouraging people to come to the convention, but I must admit that I don't find Corflu to be broke, and thus feel no impetus to fix it. We can certainly try to choose the date that accommodates the most people, but there is a convention somewhere every weekend: at some point you just have to develop the desire to go to a convention all about fanzines, and make plans to be there even if Mr. Holmes calls the irregulars to muster.
'Ted White argues that Corflu "should be drawing the sercon . . . fanzine fans as well. Where are the publishers of Fosfax and Lan's Lantern?" I can't speak for Lan, but I discussed attending the Nashville Corflu with the Fosfax gang. In both our cases, the date was a problem. It was the same weekend as a big Sherlock Holmes conference in Dayton, Ohio, that they like and only one week from a convention in Memphis that I attend every year.
'We were also not sure whether the Nashville Corflu organizers wanted us to attend. All the information I could get on Corflu was second-hand. No one responded to the SFC Bulletin I sent them that listed the convention. They were not visible at the Kubla-Khan prior to Corflu, nor did they even leave flyers on the freebie table. Anita, my fiancee, is a Nashville fan, and the only reason she heard about the Nashville Corflu was through me. In other words, if the organizers don't make an effort to make me feel wanted, why should I make an effort to attend? I don't expect people to go around the country hosting Corflu room parties, but there are little things that can be done.'
At the last second, here is a note from TED WHITE (1014 N. Tuckahoe, Falls Church, VA 22044, e-mail to Twhite@ logotel.com) touching on some stuff mentioned earlier: ]
'I would like to get a minor clarification into #75: There is an awful typo (probably mine) in the opening line of my column in #74. To wit: It says "The event: Corflu 2." Of course, as the date and the subsequent context makes clear, I am describing Corflu 1 -- the FIRST Corflu. Ghod knows why I typed "2," and I doubt even a fannish deity would know why I read past that "2" any number of times before noticing it with horror.[APH: As you say, I'm sure the identity of the convention in question was clear from context, Ted.
'Anyway, a word to Randy Byers (whose recent publication about his travels with Tami Vining I really enjoyed): Fakefan is a term I first encountered in the early to mid-fifties, used to describe someone who wasn't much (if at all) into science fiction, but, perhaps due to who he/she knew, was into fandom. In other words, a fakefan is a fan of fandom, but not of sf. Which may only underline his point.'
WAHF: Karen Babich, Elizabeth Garrott, Bill Humphries, Steve Jeffery and Dave Locke. ]
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