May 30th to June 19th, 1997
by Andy Hooper
1. Gasworks #1, edited by John D. Berry (52 19th Ave. E., Seattle, WA 98112) and Steve Swartz (4114 Interlake Ave. N. #4, Seattle, WA 98103): After months of anticipation, we have another fanzine under production in Seattle. Gasworks is a clever, attractive offering -- I especially like the uncredited art, which I suspect is John's handiwork -- which has virtually unlimited potential, depending on the ability of it's editors to sustain the effort. John offers some memories from both his 1975 and 1989 trips to Australia, which count as some first steps toward a DUFF report -- quick, phone Fox Mulder, no one else is likely to believe it! Steve's column is a good introduction to his thoughtful style, and covers some interactions he had during his trip to Britain for Intersection this spring. He tries to suggest a way of looking at fanzines that allows for many divergent styles, and honors each one by its own standards. The Britfans must have hated his guts. To cap things off, Howard Waldrop gives a brief précis of the UFO mythos and his reactions to it, which is a real treat to read. As with most ensmalled fanzines like this, the real issue is sustainability -- if they can put out a few more issues in a timely fashion, Gasworks will shortly rise to the top of my overall list.
2. BW#1, edited by Claire Brialey (26 Northampton Rd., Croydon, Surrey CR0 7HA UK) and Mark Plummer (14 Northway Rd., Croydon, Surrey CR0 6JE UK): Good heavens, a veritable clone of Apparatchik! Mark and Claire have zipped BW together as a link between issues #6 & 7 of their larger genzine Banana Wings, with the apparent subtextual motive of showing that they can so produce a short fanzine if they want to. It's hard for me to judge how successful they are in this, since BW seems to have been designed in direct imitation of Apak, in both appearance and tone. I don't know how to respond; is this that sincerest form of flattery, or an effort to show what a bunch of losers we are? I laughed anyway, at stories of leeches in the drains, pronouncements by his Pickersgillosity, and the usual desperate Croydon fun. It will probably come as no surprise to them, or anyone else, that I think they do much better when they edit themselves down to this sort of length -- the entire zine is shorter than one of Claire's articles in the last Banana Wings -- and somehow there seem to be more useful comment hooks and points worth responding to in these short articles than in their longer pieces. This is my own prejudice speaking, but what else am I to say in response to a zine that seems designed specifically to beard that prejudice?
3. Quipu #7, written and edited by Vicki Rosenzweig, 33 Indian Rd. #6-R, New York, NY 10034: Vicki Rosenzweig's style of writing is conversational and discursive, rather redolent of the apa-hacking which has been her fannish staple over the years. It's not the kind of fan-writing that lurches off the page and grabs you by the lapels -- it rather depends on its subject matter to draw the reader in. Happily, in this issue Vicki has a lot of cool stuff to talk about, including getting a tattoo, and traveling to Hong Kong for a long, infatuated look before the new/old owners take over on the 30th of this month. You don't have to like or really even know Vicki to get a lot out of this installment; it's a rare fanzine that describes the view of the Sea of Okhotsk from cruising altitude. A few letters on previous issues fill out the 12 pages.
4. Widening Gyre #1, edited by Ulrika O'Brien, 123 Melody Lane, Apt. C, Costa Mesa, CA 92627: To understand why the arrival of this fanzine struck me as a momentous event, you have to know that Ulrika O'Brien is one of the leading lights of contemporary on-line culture, such as that may be. Her production of a fanzine on paper, and one this good, gives a great deal of credibility to the largely-discredited idea that new and wonderful fanzine fans can be found and nurtured on-line. Her editorial is polished, an excellent introduction to her style, and funny besides -- the reason people keep thinking they ought to know you, Ulrika, is that they want to know you, when they see what good stuff you produce. Charles Stross, Michael Weholt, Geri Sullivan and Debra Fran Baker also offer impressive essays, although Baker could have used some cuts.
5. Emerald City #22, written and edited by Cheryl Morgan, available from her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at http://www.emcit.com: No one can claim that this particular e-mail zine is an ephemeral or trivial undertaking; even after I loaded into a double-column format with rather small type, it still tipped out at 14 pages! As with most issues of this fanzine, Cheryl's primary focus is on science fiction. Her review of David Brin's Uplift books is thoughtful and free of any reaction to Brin's annoying personality traits, of which she seems to be conveniently ignorant. It's nice to receive some comment on the man's work without having to read some sort of codicil on what a jerk he is. Anne McCaffery and Sheri Tepper come in for shorter comments, in reference to works in which each stays true to type. The people who really get some stick from Cheryl this time are Plummer, Brialey, Kincaid, et al, at Banana Wings. Paul Kincaid's less-than-glowing evaluation of EmCity has inspired a counter-review from Cheryl. She wastes some times equivocating over Kincaid's conclusions on her own work, but then turns the full force of her scorn on Claire Brialey and Maureen Kincaid-Speller, guilty in her eyes of self-conscious intellectualization and rampant logorrhea. I found this a disquietingly vindictive and disingenuous ( yet entertaining) attitude from someone willing to go on about the thematic underpinnings of The Uplift War for thousands of words.
Crawdaddy! #16, edited by Paul Williams, P.O. Box 231135 Encintas, CA 92023: This zine is like 1965, when the British invasion, Motown and surf all burst upon the human ear in an almost-frightening wealth of information and experience -- first in is Michaelangelo Matos, singing the praises of break-beat and drum/bass music more eloquently and honestly than anything I've read in the so-called professional press to date. Matos should be doing this for a living. Then Dale G. Leopold's "A Rock Fan's Journey into Jazz" struck me as an equally fearless piece, talking about deeply unfashionable fusion bands and detailing his affection for them. And most notable, an excerpt from Paul's own forthcoming book on Neil Young, glorious, circuitous writing that ultimately leaves me feeling like I know perhaps even less about Young than when I started reading, but once more awed by the integrity, energy and creativity of what Young has done across his 30-year career. And here is a note to the effect that Paul is now offering facsimiles of the original run of Crawdaddy! at a not-especially ruinous rate -- ah, hmm, well, I'll take that multi-million dollar sweepstakes win now, please.
Mimosa #20, edited by Nicki & Richard Lynch, P.O. Box 1350 Germantown MD 20875: Sometimes I get the feeling that Mimosa is actually the cornerstone of contemporary fanzine fandom. Since Richard & Nicki continue to publish such fine, accessible material on the lives and histories of fans new and old, I don't have to; I can waste my time jabbering about TAFF or on-line spam Hugo electioneering, and I know that the things that are really important, the reasons that we entered fandom in the first place, are going to be ably addressed by at least one beautiful, intelligent and largely non-controverisal fanzine. You may find that plain silly, but to me, Mimosa is a great source of comfort when I think about the state of fandom today. It seems only appropriate that they are up for another Hugo this year, and I rather expect they will end up winning it. In this issue, I was most impressed by the series of tributes to Bill Rotlser by eight of his fellow fanartists, and Jack Chalker's "A Short History of Baltimore Fandom (Part 1)", but the whole regular cast is there: Forry Ackerman, Dave Kyle, Walt Willis, Sharon Farber. I think they strike a nice balance between material focused directly on fandom's history and stories which are just interesting experiences some one decided to write up -- Sharon Farber's medical stories fall into that latter category, as does Ron Bennett's memoir of his brushes with various intelligence services while working as a school teacher in Singapore. Even the lettercol is consistently entertaining. One of the better issues of one of the best fanzines I've ever seen.
TommyWorld #16 - 17, edited by Tommy Ferguson, 798 Manning Ave., Toronto ON M6G 2W6, and via
email@example.com: Here's my new superlative for Tommy: The Most Fearless Man in Fandom. Tommy publishes stuff for public consumption that I have trouble imagining myself sharing with my nearest and dearest. I'm not sure if I'm really interested in knowing that Tommy's recent sexual shortcomings have cleared up, but I'm happy for him nonetheless. The other main impression I get from these issues is that these people bidding for Toronto to host the Worldcon in 2003 are serious; Tommy's been in the country for only nine months, and they appear to have him watching ice hockey and complaining about U.S. particulate emissions like a native. He's certainly onboard the bid effort. It makes sense if you think about it; the Irish and Canadians are already united by their difficulty with short "o" sounds . . . .
Ansible #119, edited by Dave Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 5AU UK: Another clockwork issue of the fanzine of onion bhajis and Fantasy Encyclopedia errata. Most notable here are Harry Harrison's charitable memories of Sam Moskowitz, and his observation that Sam's death is another harbinger of the loss of a Golden Age of homey, friendly science fiction. Alas, although friends come and go, I fear pulpy, 40s-style space opera is here to stay in the work of Bujold, Straczynski, et al. And while the hyperbole of Harlan Ellison and British magazines that stiff their writers and creditors come in for some stick in #119, a special Thog's Masterclass indicates once more that Dave's favorite target is UFOlogy and its adherents. Laugh though we may, I find the idea that the writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation operated under the influence of alien minds to be one of the more plausible explanations as to how some of those plots found their way to the screen.
Lettersub #15, edited by Terry Hornsby, 66 Johns Ave., Lofthouse, WakefieldWF3 3LU UK: It appears that this will be the last issue I'll be receiving from Terry, despite sending him something like 50 issues of Apparatchik in trade; he doesn't do trade you see, and measures only the correspondence he receives in deciding who to retain on his mailing list. Despite this, he has considerable material of interest to fanzine fandom at large here; he is glowing in his praise of Trap Door, largely unmoved by Mimosa, and almost palpably sneering in his dismissal of Attitude. He finishes up the issue with another of his very-faintly fictionalized accounts of dreadful people doing dismal things to one another, which didn't strike me as being as well-written as previous efforts in a similar direction.
Canadian Journal of Detournement #20 & 21, Dale Speirs, Box 6830 Calgary, Alberta T2P 2E7 Canada: Dale's single-sheet zine clip art cartoons with unsettling captions has taken a benign turn of late; or at least they're not giving me night sweats the way they used to. Maybe I'm just getting used to his sense of humor. These issues talk about "The Papernet" Dale's term for the loose agglomeration of mail artists and zine heads which he has fallen in with, hinting at its potential for subversion on a grand scale. If only they could think of something they wanted to do . . . .
Opuntia #33.1, edited by Dale Speirs, Box 6830 Calgary, Alberta T2P 2E7 Canada: The .1 fractionals of this fanzine are packed with reviews; I was especially taken with Dale's interpretation of Nevil Shute's last novel Trustee from the Toolroom as fanfiction. Lots of fanzines listed, getting just a few lines of coverage, but the addresses are there for those who want to find out more.
Ethel The Aardvark #72, edited by Ian Gunn for the MSFC, P.O Box 212, World Trade Centre, Melbourne, Victoria 3005, Australia: Everything about this fanzine communicates the impression that the Melbourne Science Fcition Club is going places! Wow ! Zoom! New logos for the stationary! Members joining from other continents! Teddy Harvia cartoons! Honestly, an old fan and tired like myself needs to have a lie-down after just opening an issue of this fanzine. The comments on Kubrick's 2001 from Michael Jordan (who will need to pick a middle initial if he is ever to be published professionally in this country) would be of greater use to someone who has not already seen the film. As usual, the highlight is Ian's editorial, which this time considers "Fan Shui: The Ancient Fannish Art of Harmonic Interior Design." Very Funny Stuff.
Thyme #115, edited by Alan Stewart, P.O. Box 222, World Trade Centre, Melbourne, Victoria 3005, Australia: As always, this compendium of news and reviews is quite impressive in execution, but I am moved to ofer a serious criticism which only appears to be flippant: I honestly think that Alan should just dump half the book reviews he receives. So many of these are listless recitations of why a given book proved to be a slight disappointment or only partially satisfied -- I think it would be much more entertaining if Alan just gave us the ones that really moved the reader in one direction or another, and left out the luke-warm reactions. And Many Trees Might Live.
MSfire V.3, #3, edited by Lloyd G. Daub for Milwaukee SF Services, P.O. Box 1367, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1637: I think it is a Very Bad Sign when a fanzine makes reference to a golf tournement, even as an ironic aside. Pace, Sue Harris and other fannishly-connected golfers, but I honestly think that golf may be one of those things that are the antithesis of the fannish ideal, like Martha Stewart or Reader's Digest Condensed Books. Anway, where was I? Oh, yes, this is a confused little clubzine apparently desperate for material -- no other explanation comes to mind for the existence of a six-page article on "Slavery in Fantasy Gaming," and this only the first of two parts. I was reasonably impressed by the book review column by Lisa Mason, and it is a hopeless fanzine indeed which is not at least partially redeemed by a long letter from Harry Warner. Still, who are these people, and what do they want from me?
Brum Group News #308 & 309, edited by Martin Tudor for the BSFG, 24 Ravensbourne Grove, Off Clarke's Lane, Willenhall, West Midlands, WV13 1HX UK: Solid, useful clubzines, almost utterly worthless to anyone not living in England's midlands. That's what a clubzine is supposed to be, after all, and Martin is doing his usual top-end-of-adequate effort here. I am envious of the quality of the speakers they are able to attract to their meetings.
PhiloSFy #6, edited by Alexander Slate, 8603 Shallow Ridge Drive, San Antonio, TX 78239-4022: I think that the most praiseworthy thing about this fanzine is the fact that Alex is really stretching here, trying to consider issues of ethics and morality which almost no other fan editor I can think of wants to touch. I don't find the work which results particularly ground-breaking, or entertaining to read, but Alex is getting plenty of response from other readers. Most of these seem to be people with a little energy left over from their contentions in the letter column of FOSFAX, but the tenor of the conversation here is much more polite. On the other hand, the cartoon on page 12 may be the worst piece of fan art I've ever seen, one that could easily have moved a reviewer of weaker constitution to suicide.
De Profundis #301, edited by Tim Merrigan for the LASFS, 11513 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601: Life is ultimately too short to be spent reviewing this fanzine.
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