Dispatches to Apak
[ APH: We start with another fine letter from ROBERT LICHTMAN (PO Box 30, Glen Ellen, CA 95442: ]
'Now to some comments on Apak No. 77, which despite all the furious activity that led to tonight's paste-up (plus other stuff too numerous and time-consuming to mention) I've made time to read. Most enjoyable review of Langford's Silence by carl juarez. A few questions arose during reading, however. ". . . [W]e want NESFA Press to send us more books." this implies an obligation to review NESFA publications due to receiving them for free. My question is: how do I get on this list? Next, "NESFA Press should be congratulated on the steady evolution of their publications." This made me wonder if carl has seen NESFA Press publications prior to the three he mentions here: the Smith volume and the two Langford tomes. NESFA Press, in my view, has a lengthy history of reasonably attractive publishing. In my own library, I particularly treasure the little hardcovers they did in the 80s: Bloch's Out of My Head, and the Terry Carr/Bob Shaw and Lee Hoffman/Bert Chandler NESFA double-backs. And of course Teresa's Making Book. If carl is unaware of these publications, someone should make them available to him; between them there's a lot of excellent reading. Returning to the Langford collection, although it's interesting that 40% of the page count in the trade paperback is taken up with reprints from the earlier collection, I for one am quite happy to have those items in a more permanent form. It doesn't seem like carl truly objects, either.[ VMG: Thanks for noting my new address in the last issue. Reminder to other fans: I have a new address, listed on the front of this fanzine. Please change your mailing lists accordingly.
'Have just added carl c/o Hoop to my mailing list and changed Victor's address. Also added Roxanne while I'm at it. And Ulrika O'Brien. I'd thought of adding Roxanne on several previous occasions when I wasn't at my computer to actually do it, but I hadn't heard of Ulrika until just before Corflu.
'Loved this line in Randy Byers' piece: "The masseur next door located a brick of winter in my lower back and pressed it to talk." Beautiful. A nicely atmospheric little piece.
'Don't feel so bad, Victor, comparing the photos in Apak to those in Plokta. For one thing, they're printing each page from their laser printer, not a copier, so of course they can have greater definition. They're probably better at Photoshop -- or whatever they're using -- than you, too. Comparing Plokta to Twink is like those old classics, apples and oranges. Subjectively I like Plokta more, but this judgment is based on my lesser interest in reviews of science fiction books and not on their true relative values? Both seem to do what they set out to do fairly well, on each's own terms.'
I grant that the Plokta cabal has better printers at their easy disposal; I do not accept that they are better at using Photoshop, though they certainly have more experience. Anyway, results count, and I was unhappy. We have improved the way photos will look in the future -- though I don't know if we'll equal Plokta.
Now, a probing letter from the frequently-WAHFed MURRAY MOORE (377 Manly Street, Midland, Ontario L4R 3E2 Canada, e-mail to email@example.com: ]
'Apak 77 was another strong issue. Maybe it's just me, or is the benefit of tri-weekly over bi-weekly publication kicking in? Benefit being, more time for the collective you to spend preparing an ish, more time for your readers to compose judicious missives. The lettercol in No. 77 was first rate. I wonder, however, why APAK does not draw more letters than it is.[ VMG: Yes, I think the tri-weekly schedule has worked, for exactly the reasons you point to. Why don't we get more letters? Aside from the fanzine not appealing to people, the only thing I can think of is that three weeks is still too fast for fans used to much less frequent zines.
'I have an amusing theory about the identity of E.B. Frohvet. In Twink 5, the first issue I have received, E.B. says "When our readers figure out who we 'really' are -- a subject to he discussed at greater length in future Twink's -- you people are gonna be so disappointed . . ." [Twink's, and trailing dots, sic.]
'Our fandom has a history of hoax fans. Carl Brandon is the first name which comes to my mind, representing the active fan who writes letters and articles, and pubs his ish, and, eventually, is revealed to be a construct of one or more real fans.
'E.B. declares he/she/they -- is the Frohvet "we" plural or merely imperial? -- to be a pseudonym. No obvious hoax fan angle there.
'I have noticed that E.B. and Twink receive regular coverage in Apak from Andy and Victor. I wonder. Carl Brandon has been done. How to extend the hoax fan, enlarge the envelope? Publish a fanzine on the opposite side of the continent, declare through your proxy that you are a pseudonym, make noises in your own high profile fanzine that you will unmask the identity of the mysterious Frohvet? Hmmn?'
Yes, you have indeed discovered the truth behind Frohvet. We are him, and he is us. We produce masters here and mail them to an East Coast agent who delivers them to the postal drop off. The most difficult part is making those Delany reviews quite so bland. Also, the bad art was hard to do, but we farmed it out successfully. Congratulations, Murray -- and a big hand to the Seattle fans who helped out and managed to keep it a secret.
So much for Twink.
Now, here's a letter from CHRIS BZDAWKA (909 Walnut St.Verona, WI 53593, e-mail to Bzdchris@aol.com): ]
'Another fascinating issue, folks -- lots of big words too! I've almost taken to reading APAK with a dictionary at the ready.[ carl sez: Now I wish I'd been able to get "lucubrous" into my piece, which would've been apposite in several senses. Long words are good -- they keep the linos from running into each other. ]
'The extent of my Net usage is sending and receiving e-mail from two friends who also use America Online. I have yet to see a website. I was astonished to receive and send an Instant Message. We've got an AOL instruction book that my boss paid like 20 bucks for, but I never have enough time at his desk to really go over it, so I'm going to trade my superior housecleaning skills for Internet lessons with a friend.
'I understand that a number of companies are marketing PCs with basic bells and whistles for about a grand, so the plan is to get my oldest son to chip in and buy one for our home before he starts college next year. Of course, then there will be at least One More Thing To Read, the problem Mr. White comments on -- I too have trouble keeping up with my magazines, periodicals, APAK and the other fanzines I've been receiving, and books. However, having a computer at home would certainly help organize my food research and recipe catalog, and maybe encourage the writing of something other than the occasional loc. These, of course, are examples of High Hopes Prior to Buying a Computer. In reality, I'd just develop a serious Solitaire addiction.
'I loved Judith Hanna's bagpipe story, which if not beating Waldrop and Hooper comes dangerously close. My own bagpipe story is so much more conventional, but I'll tell it anyway. Several years ago, I attended the SCA Pennsic Wars. We arrived long after dark, set up the tent, changed into garb, and took a walk. I was transported directly from the hell-hole my life had become to this magical world of big-breasted women and hand-kissing men and fires and jangling bells and singing and blue guys running around naked. In the moonlight, we came upon a small lake with thick mist hanging over it, and I could hear a bagpipe playing wa-a-a-a-y-y-y-y over there. I remember noting a feeling of peace in my heart and the thought that maybe it was a good thing to be alive after all.'
[ VMG: Though I've enjoyed the web -- particularly for the freeware I've been able to download -- e-mail is what makes it cool for me. Imagine trying to do Apak they way we do 10 years ago. With me in Federal Way much of the time, e-mail allows me to see, edit, and return material almost as fast as if I were in Andy's dining room at the Starliter. It is now much, much easier to co-edit a fanzine from opposite sides of the country -- or the Atlantic -- without the typical sense of disconnection that afflicts most long-distance collaborations.
JOHN HERTZ (236 S. Coronado St. #409, Los Angeles, CA 90057) also has comments on bagpipes and Socrates: ]
'Hurrah for I.F. Stone's Trial of Socrates (1988)! What a tour de force this book is. Here is Stone, the flaming liberal, halted by heart weakness from pubbing his ish after 20 years -- I.F. Stone's Weekly, well outside fandom but a zine to be reckoned with. Just to take things easy he learned classical Greek -- enough to study this trial in what remains of the sources, 2400 years old. He then had the guts to look at the idol of his own pantheon, that old trickster Socrates, beloved by us liberal types as a martyr to free thought for millennia on the strength of the version by his disciple Plato. Now there's biography. But how might things appear from a different view? Could it be that in this case too there was another side? Talk about asking the next question![ VMG: Your thoughts about I.F. Stone's genius echo my own; he was a better, truer, and more dedicated journalist than any other I've read or read about.
'Most of my bagpipe stories are about Southeast European pipes, but here's one, I think from Noreascon II, that great Worldcon. The night was young, about 1 a.m., when to the wondering eyes a Scots piper appeared. He was searching the halls for a place to play. Of course we had to hear him. As good fen we didn't want to disturb benighted others who might even then be seeking their beauty sleep. So I went to Ops. "Where," I asked, "might we unobtrusively hear a bagpipe?" The Boston-ian never blinked. He didn't say "Now that's an oxymoron," or "Hear a what?" He had, as I recall, acoustical charts of the hotel, and probably the City of Boston. Studying his resources he pointed out a room. "Up here on the thirty-leventh floor you'd be too close to the SFWA Suite," he said. "But look there. On the second floor, room 2018. You'd be just fine. The piper could play as long as you like. This runner has a key and will let you in." Off we went. So as not to disturb hotel security we closed the door. It was Scots-music heaven. Half an hour later the piper wanted a break, so we took five in the hall. Down from the SFWA suite came Jerry Pournelle, beaming broadly, in one of his finest moments. "Did I hear a bagpipe?"'
His constant dogging of the U.S. Government through McCarthyism, the race riots and Vietnam -- not to mention dozens of other more minor epochs -- is commendable to an extreme. Admittedly opinionated -- and blacklisted during the 50s (I.F. Stone's Weekly came not from the desire to publish his own 4-page newspaper, but from the need to make money (which really didn't work)) -- Stone wielded facts like hatchets. So much so that since his death he has been accused of being a Soviet spy. There is no one like him now. Not even Cockburn, who used to have a powerful voice in The Nation, can equal the power of Stone's reporting.
We've received some reaction to our coverage of the Leeds Corflu discussion, such as this note from KEV MCVEIGH (37 Firs Rd., Milthorpe, Cumbria LA7 7QF UK): ]
'There was much discussion of Corflu UK during the final half day of Eastercon, all I was able to attend, I'm afraid. In particular a debate between I and Sorensen and Greg Pickersgill with interjections from bystanders did very little to clear up a few doubts and worries some of us have.[ APH: One wonders what British fandom did for villains before the advent of Ian Sorensen -- had to make do with Thatcher and Robert Heinlein, I suppose. Seriously, I think all American fans interested in Corflu understand that the 1998 version will be quite different from previous installments, and I doubt anyone really wants to go all the way to England just to attend another American convention. Whatever British fandom comes up with will be Corflu for that year, for good or ill. Call it Oblitercon if it makes you feel better.
'Nevertheless, I did get a straight answer to one question: if we Brits produce a convention that works like a Corflu, walks like a Corflu, and quacks like a Corflu, then Ian Sorensen believes significant numbers of Corflu's normal attendees will come to Leeds . . . if we call it a Corflu. If we call it something else, do it independently of the Corflu tradition, then it might look like a Corflu but "you lot" probably won't come. This suggests that either Ian Sorensen is portraying US fandom as shallow and narrow-minded, or that we don't have to stick slavishly to US Corflu traditions in their entirety. There is room (and I would say, a definite need) for "Corflu UK" to stress the "UK" aspect as much as the "Corflu" -- otherwise what is the point? On the strength of his argument with Greg, Ian Sorensen seems reluctant to do this.
'There is a significant resurgence in British fanzine fandom at present and Corflu UK should mine this and develop it, but some of us are worried that instead it will be swamped by Ian Sorensen seeking to pander to his perception of what Corflu's American audience demands.'
Now, very quickly, a reply from GEORGE FLYNN (Box 1069, Kendall Square Station, Cambridge, MA 02142): ]
'I am relieved that carl found no typos in The Silence of the Langford. (I copyedited it, which for Langford is not a very challenging task.) I should note that the physical difference between NESFA's two Langford collections does not represent any evolution in publishing ability: Let's Hear It For The Deaf Man was supposed to look like a fanzine. (It seemed like a good idea at the time.) And one other quibble; the mail-order price is $15 plus $2 postage & handling.'[ WAHF: Pamela Boal, Richard Brandt, Lindsay Crawford, Tom Feller, E.B. Frohvet (really!), Mike Glicksohn, Ian Gunn, Teddy Harvia, Jerry Kaufman, Perry Middlemiss & Ulrika O'Brien. Thanks as always for taking the time to write. ]
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