March 7th to 26th, 1997
by Andy Hooper
1. TommyWorld #5 - 8, written and edited by Tommy Ferguson, 768 Manning Ave., Toronto, Ontario Canada M6G 2W6, e-mail to email@example.com: Following his move to Canada, Tommy Ferguson has become an absolute publishing dynamo! In addition to sending out Design for Life #1, and participating in a pair of G–tterd”mmerungs, 1997 has seen eight issues of this weekly e-mail fanzine. Of the cluster that have arrived since the last Apak, #5 and #7 have the most compelling material, including an essay on Tommy's relationship with alcohol, and a delightful rant about the miseries of working in an Irish pub on St. Patrick's Day. #6 and #8 were most noteworthy for their lettercols, which are enthusiastic and friendly, and make me think that Tommy could be running a focal point fanzine if he felt like it. This is a perfect example of what an internet fanzine can achieve if managed properly. It has brevity, frequency, and Tommy's writing typically rages from the first line -- no twiddling around for five paragraphs before getting to the thesis here! I find Tommy's struggles to deal with the cultural cacophony implicit in being a Belfast native living in Toronto assailed by Americans who mistake him for an Englishman great reading aside from any fannish context, and it makes me think he could be publishing columns like these professionally, again, if he felt like it.
2. Monstrous Crow #1, written and edited by Tracy Benton, 315 Island Dr. #4, Madison, WI 53716-4530: My favorite acquisition of Corflu weekend, and not solely because I am so pleased to see Tracy publishing again. The layout is much improved from her efforts in Casbah, although I do find myself shaking my head at my own eternal prejudice in favor of fanzines with the same sort of title/colophon/text configuration that Apparatchik used to have -- even making allowances for that, this is a particularly attractive zine, elegant, yet readable fonts, two non-proportional columns of text inside, broken with artful dingbats and clean sidebar quotes. Most of the issue, after a brief introductory editorial, is a lengthy article about the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright, a figure with whom a number of Madison fans have become obsessed or enamored over the years. Tracy's article is the best I've seen in this local tradition, written in a light, discursive style that makes the dark events of Wright's life more appropriate subject matter for a fanzine than if told with the exhaustive, detached style traditional in writing about history. A few book reviews round out the issue. Quite a performance, and almost certainly the breakout fanzine Tracy has been mulling on for the past two years. It was worth the wait!
3. Fanthology '93, edited by Robert Lichtman, P.O. Box 30, Glen Ellen, CA 95442: Ah, it seems quite ungrateful to offer much criticism on this effort, since Robert once again did the work at relatively short notice, and his choice of articles is, as usual, good on several levels. Some of the more important fannish events and issues of the year are reflected in the selection of material, while other articles could have come from any year, but clearly deserve to be in the collection on the quality of their writing. But I fear that the TimeBytes anthologies that Lake and Edwards did two years ago for Glasgow have created a hunger in me for some sort of analytical material or appreciation of the events of the year written specifically to introduce and annotate the articles in the fanthology. I said almost the same things in regard to Fanthology '92 last year, and I'm even more impressed by the selection of stuff from 1993. Robert's approach is to offer us a superb selection of source readings, and to leave us to create our own analytical image of their context -- and perhaps I'm just lazy, but I find myself wishing for both sorts of fan history. The layout is utilitarian but attractive, and includes a nice selection of Rotsler illos, Steve Stiles' art to accompany his article "Whiny Martyr," and a cover derived from Teddy Harvia's design for the ConFrancisco gopher T-shirts. Another fine installment in the series, and well worth $5.00.
4. Glamour #3, written and edited by Aileen Forman, 7215 Nordic Lights Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89119: I continue to observe Aileen Forman's evolution as a fan writer with considerable interest. This issue features more observations on life as a blackjack dealer, as well as a glossary of gambling terms that might prove useful to people on their way to Vegas in the future. But the weight of this issue in is the article detailing how Aileen came to meet her birth mother, illustrated with a color photo of Aileen with her mother Judy and her half-brother Daniel. They all have the same eyes. It's a simple piece of work, but effectively and clearly communicated, and obviously packing a pretty heavy emotional wallop. I always feel a lot of admiration for fans who put so much of themselves into a fanzine, and it's impossible not to share Aileen's delight at her discovery. And she closes by nothing that she is running out of Rotsler art -- as if that were possible.
5. Wave Without a Shore, written and edited by Tom Becker, 2034 San Luis Ave. #1, Mountain View, CA 94043: Tom Becker has made his way into fanzine fandom at least partly through our acquaintance with his wife, Spike Parsons, and when I first met him, he was much more interested in con-running and tech talk than in anything to do with fanzine fandom. But Roscoe's call is seductive, and here we have Tom's first fanzine of his own, although he has done quite a few convention daily fanzines and the like in the past. In three pages, he describes some of the Bay Area coastal adventures of his youth and how they inspired the vision he had for Corflu Wave as originally proposed for Pacifica, California. Briefly, and I thought quite tactfully, he summarized the problems that prevented that plan from being executed, and how it lead him to bow out of the official committee. But the way he describes his memories of days at the beach, and his family's connections to the area, make me think that it might be well-worth having another Corflu in California a few years down the road, just to see what Tom might come up with.
Banana Wings #5, edited by Claire Brialey (26 Northampton Rd., Croydon, Surrey CR0 7HA UK) and Mark Plummer (14 Northway Road, Croydon, Surrey CR0 6JE UK): Well, for the second consecutive issue, Paul Kincaid feels the need to explain why Apparatchik falls beneath his standards for an acceptable fanzine. In fact, our whole approach to the process of publishing is apparently invalid, and we have nothing to offer outside of the ability to report breaking news, and we don't even do that right, because we weren't willing to belabor the TAFF crisis for issue after issue. It was certainly an unpleasant experience to read his review, but Paul's standards of fanzine quality appear exacting enough that very few, if any, contemporary fanzines are capable of satisfying them. One hopes he finds this exercise intellectually fulfilling on its own merits, since, as before, I have absolutely no interest in altering my methods to suit him. Of course, this is but 6 pages out of 60, and there is also a great deal to like about BW #5. Claire Brialey offers some reasonably warm thoughts about seeing fandom as a family, then undercuts them completely by falling back on a pose of fashionable fannish cynicism at the end. Mark and Claire cover last November's Novacon in seven short vignettes, which would have been far too much had they been laid end to end -- good judgement to scatter them through the issue. Chris Tregenza's history of the UK convention Incon might be of interest to fanhistorical, time-binding completists. My favorite piece in the issue is Elizabeth Billinger's account of a trip to Viet Nam, with Maureen Kincaid Speller's lengthy meditation on contemporary science fiction a close second, although the latter piece would have benefited from a little editorial trimming and tightening.
freak the people, edited by Victor Gonzalez, 403 1/2 Garfield St. #11, Tacoma, WA 98444: There is a certain conflict of interest implicit in reviewing a fanzine published by one's co-editor and prominently featuring one's own material. I'll simply note that Victor handed out this four-page one-shot at Corflu, and that it includes a brief piece by Lucy Huntzinger, who had only finished telling us that she didn't intend to write for paper fanzines anymore as she sat down to compose an article on Victor's laptop. Does the phrase "Death will not release you" ring a bell? Write to Victor if interested, he might have a few copies left.
Snufkin's Bum #1 1/2, written and edited by Maureen Kincaid Speller, 60 Bournemouth Rd., Folkstone, Kent CT19 5AZ UK: An engaging perzine that covers the pleasures and terrors of searching for new furniture at the Croydon IKEA franchise. Sounds stultifying, I know, but Maureen's style features such a nice combination of amusement and earnest contemplation of the absurd that I read right through to the end before I had time to wonder what the point of it all was. She also describes some of her experiences duplicating other people's fanzines, a process so heroic (I know from experience) that it seems certain to redeem any self-indulgence or digression that to which her prose is occasionally prone. And she notes that most of her earrings were taken by a burglar that struck her home during Novacon; many of these have been replaced though the kindness of her local pals, but if you have any unwanted earrings lying around your house, please feel free to send them to us here at Apak, and we will have them freighted across the ocean in the deepest hold of a tramp steamer, much in the same manner as bundles of golden-age Amazings.
Skug #13, edited by Gary Mattingly, 7501 Honet Ct., Dublin, CA 94568: Yow -- while Gary decries the tardiness of this latest Skug, it has arrived in a veritable wink of an eye when compared to the wait between the previous two issues, and with material that seems quite current. My favorite parts are Bruce Townley's table of indispensible film noir, and the three-page spread of fan photos taken by Patty Peters in 1983 and 84, but I also found William Breiding's account of his motocycle accident and subsequent hospital experiences compelling reading. And it's nice to see another issue soon enough that Gary's personal natter refers to things he mentioned in the previous issue.
Risible, written and edited by Ian Sorensen, 7 Woodside Walk, Hamilton ML3 7HY UK: This one-sheet was Ian's bid-flyer touting the virtues of a Leeds Corflu. One could only try to avoid laughing at Ian's profiles of various Leeds luminaries that he hopes will attend his convention -- many of the people listed would rather tear out their own eyes with a grapefruit spoon than be confronted with fifty American fans or more at a single sitting. On the other hand, he deserves full marks for his honest portrayal of their most salient quirks, which are not, on balance, the sort of thing most people would reveal to an audience they were hoping to dupe into coming for a visit. One thing -- please note the way Ian spells his last name, with a penultimate "e", not an "o". One senses that he has long stopped trying to convince fandom of this fact, but let's surprise him and rise to the occasion.
SFSFS Shuttle #129, edited by Shirlene Ananayo & Carlos Perez for the SFSFS, P.O. Box 70143, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33307-0143: An unusually slight issue of this clubzine, which largely documents that changing of the local guard; recent club elections brought complete turnover to the board. As ever, the fannish gravity sink behind the fanzine is Joe Siclari, who continues to challenge Ben Yalow and the Olsons for the title of preeminent SMOF of the era. He offers some fanzine reviews here, and one can sense his satisfaction at appearing on the same two-page spread with a reprint of Walt Willis' "Comes the Revelation." Also interesting is the flyer for the "FANAC FanHistory Project," which features an announcement of efforts to compile Fancyclopedia III on its reverse. It will be interesting to see what the Floridians come up with, and one must give them credit for laudable ambitions.
Existentialism's A Cruel Business, written and edited by Ian Huett, P.O. Box 679 Woden, ACT 2606 Australia:
A chatty one-shot which Kim put together for distribution at Attitude and corflu. Most impressive is his hymn to the wonders of crazy Minneapolis fandom and its clubzine, Rune. Kim has such an affection for the twin cities and its fandom that he has actually become a Minnesota Vikings fan, which strikes me as devotion well beyond the call of duty. I was also intrigued by the list of listener favorites on the radio station which Kim tunes to most often -- although he points out that this does not dovetail perfectly with the station's playlist, it's a list that any "progressive" station in the US would be proud of. Interesting stuff.
Gegensechein #76, edited by Eric Lindsay, 7 Nicoll Ave., Ryde, NSW 2112 Australia: A small narrative of Eric's experiences at Swancon, tied to a lengthy series of capsule book reviews. Eric likes to comment on everything he reads in the genre, so here we have his impressions of Stephen Baxter, Greg Egan and Bruce Sterling's most recent novels, juxtaposed with opinions on Star Wars tie-in books. A little like reading Locus without having to wade through all the ads and photos of comely young horror writers in PVC dresses. And Eric does have a better lettercolumn . . . .
poppin' zits!, issue A, written and edited by Jerod Pore, 1800 Market St., Suite 141, San Francisco, CA 94012-6297: It is something of a red-letter day when a fanzine leaves me largely speechless. Stapled left-handed inside two pieces of solid black construction paper, this is an attractively-executed fanzine that concerns itself primarily with extremely unpleasant events in Jerod's life. Car accidents, bottomless depression, madness, uncooperative grocery clerks, encounters with heartily scrutable succubi and terrifying angels -- one assumes that this is fiction, but one never knows in San Francisco. A fanzine I admire, but did not enjoy.
The Knarley Knews #62, edited by Henry & Letha Welch, 1525 6th Ave., Grafton, WI 53024-2017: Knarley needs material pretty badly. This issue contains only some editorials, Don Pattenden's update on his cycling tour of Australia and the lettercolumn. I reckon this is the dual effect of having moved recently coupled with the big push for last December's 10th anniversary issue catching up with Henry, and we will see more involved material in the near future.
PhiloSFy #5, edited by Alexander Slate, 8603 Shallow Ridge, San Antonio, TX 78239-4022: Alex is juggling several balls at once here, debates on the ethics and morality of both death and war, a list of sites to visit and avoid when in San Antonio for Worldcon this summer, and some narrative on his own life, which has recently been challenged by a diagnosis of diabetes. Here's hoping you can live with that without too much trouble, Alex. Everyone presented here is working very hard to get their points across, but I have to admit that nothing stayed with me more than five minutes after I read it, beyond the absurdity of Franz Zrilich' defense of the Gulf War on the grounds that failing to fight it would have left us devoid of petroleum reserves, a nation of silent, blacked-out cities filled with shivering, hopeless refugees. Ah, if only it was that easy, Franz . . . .
S.F. Film Fan #2, written and edited by Mike McInerny, 83 Shakespeare St., Daly City, CA 94014-1053: This issue consists almost entirely of letters on issue #1, so if you don't have it to hand, there is a limit as to how much you're going to get out of #2. Some of the letters are quite good, however, and come from seldom-encountered souls like Lenny Kaye and Mike Deckinger. One thing I reacted to was a comment by Don Fitch to the effect that the high prices paid at Corflu auctions for old fanzines were 90% the "it's for a good cause" syndrome. This is true for many people, but it doesn't take into account the fact that half of the appeal of collecting is the hunt itself -- without paying a certain amount of money, or struggling to find something, the item acquired loses a certain amount of its cachet. This is why I feel that while Greg Pickersgill is right from a moral standpoint, that it is low to sell old fanzines, especially ones you got for free, I think we'll always have something of a sotto voce fanzine black market in place, and that fandom would be a little less fun without it.
It Goes on the Shelf #17, written and edited by Ned Brooks, 713 Paul St., Newport News, VA 23605: Ned's semi-annual review of books and correspondence received. While I don't find Ned's insights especially unique or illuminating, he does seem to have far more catholic tatses than the average sf reader, so I often find a listing of things I'd like to check out in his pages. Nice furry-muck cheescake cover by Taral, too.
Minor Deviations #3, written and edited by Ed Green, no address: This is a little hoaxzine that Ed handed out on Saturday at Corflu Wave, which consisted of two sheets with intelligible writing one one side and gibberish on the other, stapled at all four corners to create the illusion that juicy and startling material was hidden within. An amusing joke, for the span of the moment it was received.
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