[APAK logo] Issue #79, May 30th, 1997

Dispatches to Apak

[ APH: Apparently the only person paying attention to Victor's confession of our Frohvetness was ROBERT LICHTMAN (PO Box 30, Glen Ellen, CA 95442), so we lead with him again: ]

'It's a little strange reading on page 8 of Apak No. 78 that y'all are "E.B. Frohvet," and then to get a handwritten note of comment on Trap Door No. 17 from "him" today. Interesting that it's dated May 5th while thish is dated on the 8th. Did Murray's letter figuring out about Frohvet turn up after this letter was penned? With your explanation that materials were transshiped to an East Coast agent (will we learn who?) and mailed from there; I note the postmark on the envelope is May 10th, enough time for the letter to be sent across for remailing. (I cannot publish or quote any of it, since an "NFP" is requested -- unless "the Seattle fans who helped out and managed to keep it a secret" want to change their collective mind about the NFP.)

'I actually do read Twink (well, parts of it) and I don't "just catalogue it -- or just dump it." E.B. might be further interested to know that he even has His Own Folder in personal fanzine collection index. I suppose he got the idea from my editorial comment that I don't keep all the fanzines I receive. However, as a fanhistorian, I'm a collector of fanzines put out by hoaxes. So not only do I have every issue of Twink, I have them in their own folder. I have a few issues of Femizine, done by Sandy Sanderson as "Joan W. Carr." I also have the only fanzine published by "Leslie Norris," Fantoccini No. 23. Norris was a product of the fevered minds of Ted Johnstone and other L.A. fans. And I have Joshings No. 1, the only fanzine published by Carl Brandon (well, he may also have done a Cultzine).

'By the way, I thought it was a nice touch that E.B. "quite enjoyed" Carol Carr's material. I passed on her egoboo earlier this evening, explaining about the hoax, and she thought it was "touching." (She likes hearing what shows up in reviews and LoCs about her column, and had me read your sentence about her (in your review of my latest ish) three times the other night.) I also thought this letter was, to its credit, consistent with the curmudgeon persona you wrought for Frohvet over the year or so of his existence: the lack of interest in "fannish material," and the paranoia about whether or not his fanzine was being read.

'Questions arise for me about the timing of this note from Frohvet and your admission of his hoaxdom in this Apak. Whoever wrote this should have realized that I would see No. 78 before seeing the letter. I noticed there was no return address on the envelope or the note itself. Now, what if Victor's admission is in itself a hoax and Frohvet is a pen name rather than a hoax that actually exists back east . . . . ?

'Moving on to the rest of Apak No. 78, I appreciated David Bratman's revelations about the first name drawn out of the hat back in 1984 at Corflu 1. I was at that drawing and I don't remember Michele Armstrong's name being drawn, so powerful has been the legend that sprung up around Mike Deckinger, whose name I do remember being drawn repeatedly by Terry.

'David makes an interesting statement about fan funds at the end of his piece: "Winning fan funds used to be about the honor of going on the trip; now it seems to be all about hawking fanzines and keeping accounts and writing (or not writing) a trip report." I've always felt that the honor of being selected by one's fellow fen was the main thing, even if I did go on to hawk fanzines and keep accounts (and unfortunately not write a trip report so far). Keeping the books and fundraising was a way of both paying back and keeping the tradition moving.

'But the best line in Bratman's article bears quoting: "Anyone who does learn and honor our customs is welcome here, anybody who wants to is likely to feel welcome, and once they do, they're on the same level as everybody else." This is a point that can't be reiterated often enough -- and y'all, the editors of Apak, are living proof of it, each in your own fashion. Fanhistory is full of other examples of fan editors who burst on the scene and made an immediate good impression: Bob Leman and Les Nirenberg, to name a few from my own neo days. Leman was voted Best New Fan of 1958 in the first Fanac poll, and Nirenberg won the same honor for 1959 (I placed third, after George Locke) More recently, one can point to Barnaby Rapoport and a gaggle of Vegas fans, among others.

'A few minor points about Ted's comments on The Immortal Storm, just for the record: Yes, it was ASFO press that put out the hardcover edition of Sam's history. I didn't know the book was typeset on a Varityper, but checking out my copy I would disagree that the type was "pinched" and "crammed together." It doesn't look like a book typeface like the later IBM Executives did -- more like reduced typewriter print. My printer ruler's point scale puts it at 6-point type on an 8-point leading. The letter spacing is like a typewriter. Overall the type is small and semi-blinding, but the text is compelling. Like Ted, as a neofan, I risked eyestrain poring through Sam's incredible narrative. (And also probably within a year of reading The Enchanted Duplicator, though all of this took place about 4 - 5 years after Ted's experiences. But these were some of the defining activities of 50s fandom. And remember, both for Ted and me, TIS was the only volume of fanhistory available; Warner's first book was still off in the future.)'

[ VMG: I'm afraid that we'll have to allow our collaborators to come out on their own; I don't think its fair to name them, as they were simply helping out with our idea. On the other hand, I might reward a correct guess with a confirmation (just as I did with Murray's guess about Frohvet).

We have naturally continued our correspondence as Frohvet because we wanted to perpetuate the myth at least until someone got it. Murray's letter came quite late in the last cycle. We were tempted to delay our acknowledgement, but I felt immediate disclosure was the best course. The letter to you was composed beforehand, and we decided to mail it anyway.

If Frohvet did exist, I'm sure he would be delighted to find out that you have a folder for his zine; I also imagine he'd be upset that the only reason that is so is that he's a hoax.

This is getting way too complicated. Honest to Ghod, my favorite part was drawing in those black lines after the pages had been typed, and then defending their need as layout guides. Writing in the first-person plural was arduous, though. I doubt we'll be having so much fun in the near future. ]

[ APH: I'll admit there is a hoax being perpetrated here, but I won't say upon whom. Has anyone noticed that the letters "E.B. Frohvet" can be re-arranged to spell "of the verb," referring to the modification of an action that we, as yet, do not understand? One can also create the phrase "Beev Froth," perhaps an ebouillont gesture toward a consommétion unavailable outside the pages of a fanzine. This mystery will surely deepen before it is resolved.

Hang in there, E.B., whoever you are. Don't let our fun detract from yours.

Now, TEDDY HARVIA (701 Regency Drive, Hurst, TX 76054-2307) reacts to my comments on the Hugo in #78: ]

'I take what I think is the high ground by declining a Hugo nomination because of my closeness to year's WorldCon and you knock me of with a broad generalization. Are you prepping us for a run on the rocket by Apparatchik should Seattle win its Worldcon bid for 2002? As long as you are neither the chair nor Hugo administrator and cannot see my actual vote, I'll tell you that you have mine. I found your label "middle-management con-running specialists" condescending if only because I can almost see the sneer on your fanzine-fan lips when you utter it. I agree that the fan Hugos should be a perk for those who run the cons, but not specifically for those who support the Worldcon and Hugos only when they are in their own backyard.

'Ian Sorensen has a daunting task trying to merge British fanzine traditions with American Corflu traditions. He has audiences of vocal critics on both sides of the Atlantic. I remember a specific fan editor taking the fannish hosts to task for failing to make the D.C. Corflu a clone of Corflus past. As with any international con, if Ian doesn't get both local and distant help, his efforts will fail.'

[ VMG: Ian, and those other UK fans who promoted the idea of a British Corflu, all have a lot riding on its success, in my opinion. In their own minds, who knows. I have a feeling, based on how some Brits reacted to the recent Taff bullshit, that if the Corflu fails, they will either blame it on the Americans, or tell us it's none of our business. ]

[ APH: I don't dispute your good reasons for removing yourself from consideration this year, I just wish the award wasn't taken so seriously that such gestures seem necessary. You read my intentions incorrectly in my consideration of con-runners; if I really meant to sneer, I'd use adjectives like "sad" and "self-important," neither of which conditions strike me as endemic to the field. I don't know if you're taking a lightly-veiled slap at me or not, but the D.C. Corflu deserved criticism because of its poor organization and lackluster presentation, not because it didn't exactly match previous versions of the con. Personally, I think this debate is producing much heat, but no light, and I favor letting Ian make some mistakes before we criticize him for them.

Now, we've some comments on David Levine's article in #78 from KATE SCHAEFER (4012 Interlake Ave. N. Seattle, WA 98103, e-mail to kate@scn.org): ]

'So I'm at WisCon 21, having a very fine time indeed, and I come across David Levine and greet him cheerfully, for he is a friend. He greets me with noticeable hesitation, which I notice, and he asks if I have seen Apparatchik 77. Of course, I say, and then I remember all the lies he wrote in his article, which appeared in Apparatchik 78, demonstrating once again what an unreliable reporter the cad is. I grab him by the lapel and shake him around like the rat he is. What did you mean by writing all those lies? I say. I didn't lie, exactly, he says. I just made the truth a little bigger.

'So I would just like to say for the historical record that I only pointed out two places where Gary Farber used to live in Seattle. Okay, three, and of those three, all are still standing, only one of them had a fire in it while Gary lived there, and no place where Gary lived has ever burned down. Places where Gary lives burn up, because the fires always start in the apartment below his.'

[ APH: Moving right up the street, LUKE MCGUFF (4121 Interlake Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103, e-mail to luko@oo.net): ]

'What a funny and touching article by David! Thanks! (both to him for writing it, and having me recall what was a fun afternoon, and to you for publishing it). Although I haven't written in quite some time, I DO read Apak as soon as it arrives, and I like the crew of writers you've gathered around, Lesley, Victor, Randy and all. It's a good zine. The last time I was tempted to loc was to aver that I was still, quite solidly, avec willie (to put to bed the caption in the Potlatch Apak that I was sans willie).

'The only disagreement in the McGuff-Hawkins household was whether "Serendipitous. . ." mentioned ME enough. (I thought it did, Jane thought it didn't.)'

[ APH: Glad you liked it, Luke, and that you got that "willie" problem cleared up.

DAVE LANGFORD (94 London Rd., Reading, Berkshire, RG1 5AU UK, e-mail to ansible@cix.compulink.co.uk) now offers some response to carl's review of Silence of the Langford in #77: ]

'Many thanks for issue #77, which arrived today despite all Martin Tudor's hideous distractions and worries.

'I boggle at your generosity in reviewing Silence on the front page; an almost embarrassingly kind review, too. There is a tradition which the late great Maurice Richardson called the Acid Drop, whereby a favorable review (he was actually talking about obituaries, but the principle is curiously similar) should always include a negative comment in order to lend overall conviction. Thus Arthur Hlavaty's NYRSF piece was kindly but took issue with some wicked thing I'd said about Asimov . . . but carl's Acid Drop whizzes right past me to impinge instead on NESFA design and production, ho ho.

'However, it's confession time: Ansible 117 has feet of clay, and Andy is quite right to be startled by the mention of the great Harlan Ellison having recently been "here" in Seattle. Owing to a brain glitch, I misread a "here" from informant John Lorentz, which actually referred to Portland. How can my reputation for accurate reportage survive this? The Plain People Of Fandom: "What reputation for accurate reportage?"

'Little brother Jon is indeed Chuck Death -- Penguin did a collection of the Great Pop Things strips -- and plays with The Three Johns as well as the traditional Mekons. More recently he's been branching out into paintings and etchings which have been on show in various places, UK and US. From my own memories of his last portfolio, a characteristic etching tends to show -- with much doom-laden symbolism and surrounding images of fear and death -- some notable country singer Signing His First Contract. By cheering good fortune, I'll be a fan guest at Minicon next Easter (will I meet any of you there?) and can visit Chicago afterwards to see expat Jon and his lovely wife.

'With a series of big exhausting projects now all finished or (like the SF Classics partwork mentioned in Ansible) cancelled, I've been cautiously exercising the sensitive fannish tendrils again. My Eastercon talk -- mostly about old British fanzines -- should soon be reprinted, with revisions and titivations, in Idea, and an incredibly self-obsessed Eastercon report is scheduled for Attitude. Maybe I'll make it into the fannish big time and, like Greg Benford, have chunks of pro stuff serialized in APAK! There are these 80,000 words of Fantasy Encyclopedia entries for a start . . . .'

[ VMG: (Well,) when Mount St. Helens blew (its guts out), many (fine) (national) reporters placed it in Oregon. (I guess) that's about the equivalent.

The Plain People of Fandom: "What, trading Ellison for an ancient pile of rocks that occasionally belches steam and rolls mud through the valleys?"

(Sure.) And it's (a lot) shorter now too.

Welcome now to our pages BOB SMITH (37 St. Johns Road, Bradbury, NSW 2650 Australia), one of the new readers brought to us by Irwin Hirsh: ]

'To be honest, I found Apak 75 a bit of a fannish cultural shock, probably because of the overabundance of con material. The last con I attended was the one I chaired, Syncon 72, and the last one I subbed to was . . . um, lesseee, Discon, 1963, and the great Chicon III, 1962. "Unusual Blood Types" kinda struck a familiar note with me, but I'm not sure why . . . .

'I remembered the odd name here and there, and I guess I wondered why the Bob Lichtman we admired for his fine writing almost . . . umm, 40 years ago is now Robert Lichtman, and I hope that isn't in bad taste to inquire. Think I agree with Dale Speirs and his views on Corflu versus the real sf conventions.

'Apak 76: Listen, Victor, I have a nice computer setup, but am not on the web or the internet or whatever you call it, and I hate it when some fan says: hey, check out the photos at such-and-such . . . Don't you think you are becoming conditioned, he says with tongue firmly in cheek. (You are probably muttering by this time, crawl back into gafiation, you Aussie greybeard.)

'I found Andy's "A Con from California" quite readable and entertaining, pleasantly uncluttered. (Your photos are annoying to me 'cause I don't know who you are! I mean, out of those top ten fan-writers, I only recognised three!)

'Ted White's episode in that French Restaurant reminds me strongly of Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider . . . .

'Cheryl Morgan: The MSFC almost 45 years old? Ah, I remember that old water lift well . . . . Now, as someone who served in two armies between 1948 and 1972, I believe you are missing the main point why some military disasters are apparently celebrated, and I assume you are referring to ANZAC Day in this country? At the risk of appearing a sabre-rattler, gung ho, and a silly old fart, I suggest you talk to older Australians (older than you, that is) who served in WWI, WWII, Malaya, Korea, Borneo and Vietnam. They will tell you why ANZAC Day, the 25th of April, is important. Come to think of it, ask any New Zealander. Andy's comments generalised but were in the right direction.

'Robert Lichtman: My first reaction is that browsing through old fanzines is "Why didn't I have more to say back then?" about things that I find interesting and intriguing now. (If you wanted abrasive reaction, as I recall, in the letter column, Cry of the Nameless was the place to dip one's literary toe.)

'Well, at last I stumble, mind-blown and quivering out of the back of Apak 76, and mumble to myself "and the damn thing's triweekly!" My shaking hand reaches out for something old, comfortable and reassuring , and so I opened up the November, 1954 Peon that Charles Lee Riddle sent me whilst I was stationed at Ebisu Camp, Tokyo . . . Ahhhh! That's better . . . . (Why, it even smells nice!)

'Apak 77: Hmm. Not sure that The Silence of the Langford is the sort of book I want to leave lying around. It sounds like it might corrupt my other half. However, I found carl's use of the language awesome, and slightly Joycean. I must track down that recent Cordwainer Smith collection, tho.

'I was about to pass up Ted White on Corflu when I flipped the page, and wham!, a new personality takes over. I had just turned 15 when they dropped those two bombs, and I had been reading and scrounging science fiction since I was 10, so Ted's feelings came through loud and clear. My dear old Dad couldn't understand why I read such rubbish, but I was a working boy (went to work in a projection booth in August, 1944) and he never interfered. I remember reading L. Ron Hubbard's "The final blackout" in the BRE of Astounding back then and thinking: "God! Is that how it's gonna be . . . ?" The computer would arrive, sure, we all knew that, didn't we, and here we are talking, almost reverently, about The Net.

'I stand, at this moment, further away from The Net than Ted does, and I wonder if my personal fascination with the computer (PC, that is; my partnership with the mainframe goes back many years) wants to steer that way . . . this way to The Caves of Steel, perhaps? Why am I sitting in front of this monster with the time flashing by when I should be outside raking up the autumn leaves? What was the most exciting news on the radio today? Encyclopedia Britannica on CD-Rom has just dropped to $299 (Australian!)!! My wallet twitches. Why should I feel that way? I've owned EB and the Science Year Books for almost 20 years, and love 'em! My cats hate the computer, because I shove 'em away and roar, "later!," and I believe they know here isn't any later. Remember that new TV commercial that's doing the rounds, Ted; "If you wanna surf, move to Maui!"'

[ VMG: Gee, Bob, I've never heard of you before. Welcome to our little hyperactive world.

By the way, it's not that I think you're an old graybeard because you don't have an internet connection; I think so because you object to useful information being listed for those who do. Do you also object to weather reports because you never go outside? ]

[ APH: We'll finish with a note from GEORGE FLYNN (P.O. Box 1069, Kendall Square Station, Cambridge, MA 02142), in regard to my questions about Worldcon profits in #78: ]

'Ah, the paradox of Worldcon profits: "The consumer advocate in my brain asks why membership costs have to be so high in the face of these profits." The basic problem is that fans are inveterate procrastinators [Chris Bzdawka should like that phrase], so that most of the money comes in at the last minute. Worldcon committees therefore set steeply escalating rates, in the vain hope of overcoming this procrastination so they can do rational budgeting. But it never works, so no Worldcon is ever sure in advance how much they'll make, or if they'll make a profit at all. And they all have graven into their minds the horrible example of the few Worldcons that didn't . . .'

[ WAHF: Ken Keller, Ulrika O'Brien and Bruce Pelz. Thanks again, folks. ]

I don't even know what gingham is, but she goes through about 10 rolls a week of that stuff.

[APAK logo] Issue #79, May 30th, 1997

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