The Enchanted Duplicator
notes by Ted White
from the 1972 Amazing publication


In 1972 Ted White serialized The Enchanted Duplicator in four parts, without illustrations, through the pages of Amazing Science Fiction.  It was run as installments of “The Clubhouse,” normally a feature that reviewed fanzines.

For each installment, Ted provided notes to clarify obscure terms and references; by his kind permission these are reprinted here for the first time in almost forty years.

“Fanac” means, literally, “fan activity:” in this context it refers to a vision of what activity as a fan would be like. Curiously, several years after The Enchanted Duplicator was first published, a Belgian fan, Jan Jansen, began publication of a fan-news fanzine which he called Contact. When, after a year or so, it folded, Terry Carr and Ron Ellik began a U.S.-based successor, Fanac, which subsequently won a Hugo and is still regarded as the best fanzine of its kind. Carr and Ellik had forgotten this reference when they began Fanac and were stunned by the coincidence.

The “Shield of Umor” is an essential ingredient in fandom, as Shaw and Willis demonstrate; a sense of humor lubricates the occasional frictions produced by fandom.

In the late forties and early fifties most fans used mimeographs to produce their fanzines but a few chose the more impressive appearance possible with photo-offset printing, a  process which was then quite expensive. Swift & Co. of St. Louis offered “Planographing” (a form of offset printing) at stiff rates, but those fans who did use offset all used Swift. Their fanzines were usually too ambitious, in appearance at least, to quite mesh with the rest of fandom.

BNF: Big Name Fan.

Some fans used letterpress to publish their fanzines, setting each line by hand with loose type. It was a laborious process, but one with which Willis and Shaw were quite familiar: Willis’ first fanzine, Slant, used this process and the two spent many long hours in Willis’ attic hand-setting type, of which they had only enough for a page or two at a time.

Another duplication-method which is now very rarely used for publishing fanzines is hektograph, a process which uses a pan of jelly and purple ink. Its virtues are incredible cheapness and the accessibility this affords young fans; its drawbacks are a quite-short print run (rarely more than fifty copies before the ink fades to illegibility) and messiness which covers the unwary with indelible purple ink.

A.B. Dick was for decades the major manufacturer of mimeographs in this country; in Britain the leaders were Roneo and Gestetner. This chapter deals with some of the problems encountered with mimeographs when the operator is a novice; one is overinking, which produces smudgy, hard-to-read pages and offsets on each sheet’s back unless slipsheets are interleaved as each sheet comes out of the mimeograph. Slipsheeting, unless the machine has an automatic device to do the job, is a tiring, time-consuming task.

Every neofan makes (or meets) his share of typos—typographical errors—and some find themselves unequal to the task of fanzine publishing as a result thereof. But Correction Fluid can be used on mimeograph stencils to erase typos, which can then be neatly typed over. All that is needed is reasonable care and attention.

I confess that it was not until I tried several phonetic pronunciations that I realized that “Kerles” is a pun on “Careless;” perhaps the authors had in mind one well-known fan of the last two decades whose spelling was always uniquely individual, and whose early reputation was built upon this fact.

Perfexion’s “guides” are lettering guides, and the other paraphernalia are also for use in doing artistically elaborate things with mimeograph stencils. A few are needed by anyone who wants to publish a mimeographed fanzine, but Perfexion seems obsessed with them to the extent that his concentration has wavered from the actual goal in fanzine publishing. He will publish technically perfect fanzines, but only infrequently and their content may not be up to their appearance. The “’scope” is a mimeoscope, a lightbox on which stencils can be more easily proofread for typographical errors. Perfexion is Kerles’ diametric opposite, but both seem doomed not to achieve Trufandom.

An entire subfandom exists for collectors, and most fans, voracious readers by nature, do maintain collections of some sort, but the danger lies in allowing the Collecting Bug to become an obsession, since it will not only drain the pocketbook but all too soon overflow all available space. (In the more than fifteen years since The Enchanted Duplicator was written, prices on early sf magazines have skyrocketed, making the Collecting Bug all the more hazardous...) Nonetheless, as a trip to any sf convention will prove, the Hucksters still flourish.

The Serious Constructive Fans have always tried to put a pompous face on sf and fandom, and all too often have taken pratfalls. The National Fantasy Fan Federation is one example: a nationwide amalgation of fanclubs was proposed in the early forties (by no less prominent a fan at that time than Damon Knight), hut it has been for most of its history a jury-rigged fannish deadend which has often been regarded within fandom as a laughing stock. Nevertheless, it still survives. In 1939 Time magazine covered the first World SF Convention in New York and ridiculed fandom within its pages, attributing to fans an attitude which Time summed up as “Gosh-wow-oh-boy-oh-boy!” Fans polished their Shields of Umor, and “Gosh-wow” has been used as a term of self-ridicule ever since. In more recent times it has been applied to overenthusiastic neofans.

In the late forties Ray Nelson invented the propeller-beanie as a fannish headgear, incorporating it into his fannish cartoons to identify the fans from the non-fans. Ray intended it as a gentle spoof on the more juvenile antics of the fans he knew, and it has remained a part of the traditions of fandom ever since.

“Profan”, as he appears here, is an archetype and not an individual, but more than one reader has identified him as, alternatively, Forry Ackerman, Bob Tucker, or even Bob Silverberg. All three are one-time fans who have moved on to professional status in the sf world without turning their backs upon the fandom which birthed them; Tucker in particular remains a “trufan” at heart . . but keeps his home address confidential so that he is not inundated with a flood of worshipful neofans.

“Gafia”: Getting Away From It All. This phrase was originally coined to describe escape from Mundane into the world of fandom, but was corrupted in the late 1940’s to mean a loss of interest in fandom and subsequently dropping out. Gafia, among younger fans, is often caused by the discovery of the Opposite Sex or college; among older fans it is a temptation when the routines of fanzine publishing become boring. A fan can, of course, gafiate for a time and then return to fannish activity—and as fandom grows older, this is happening more frequently: fans who were active a decade or longer ago as teenagers are now coming back as married adults with families and careers and fond memories of
fandom as they knew it. In addition to Gafia, there is Fafia: Forced Away From It All—usually by something drastic, like the draft.

This entire section is an analogy for the launching of a new fanzine by an unknown fan. The “Subrs” are, of course, those fans who provide early support, during the period when fandom at large is indifferent to yet another new fanzine, with their subscriptions. These fans rarely write letters or express their opinions of the fanzine verbally, but they send money periodically (know by faneditors as “sticky quarters,” because the coins are often scotch-taped to an index card or something similar) as long as they find the fanzine of interest. In fact, the “Subrs” belong to two groups: those fans who are feeling their own way into fandom and are sampling its wares via fanzine review columns (such as The Clubhouse in its normal function), sending off their sticky quarters to those fanzines which look most interesting, and maintaining subscriptions to those they like; and those fans whose participation in fandom over the years remains totally passive, limited to financial support. One legendary “Subr” is the mysterious W.C. Houston, who throughout the fifties (and perhaps still today) subscribed to every fanzine being published, his only communications his sticky quarters and his rubber-stamped name and address. For a neofan, subscriptions are more of a psychological necessity than a physical requirement; the money which comes in is rarely enough to pay his costs in publishing his fanzine. Sooner or later, the neofaneditor decides that good as these subscriptions are, they are not enough: he wants contributions, letters, and public acknowledgement of his work. (But more of this next issue ...)

“Sycofan”: sycophant. A fan who butters up better-known fans in return for favors from them--usually material for his fanzine. Flattery will get you somewhere—but not very far, in the long run.

“BNF”: Big Name Fan. The converse of “neofan”: neophyte. A BNF is a fan who is so-recognized by his contemporaries; the title cannot be self-bestowed.

The “manna-script,” of course, is a manuscript. Fanzines need subscriptions to cover (or try to cover) costs, but more than this they need contributions—material to fill their pages. And while every good fanzine editor does his share of soliciting material from those BNFs whose work he likes, a good percentage of what actually shows up in the editor’s mailbox is unsolicited—bestowed upon him by a fan who has decided that he likes the editor’s fanzine and wants to contribute to it. This then is indeed a richer reward than sticky quarters: it tells the editor that he is publishing an increasingly attractive  and worthwhile fanzine and rewards him in the most positive manner. There are other rewards as well, as Jophan discovers next issue, in the final installment of this classic story.

Egoboo is the true medium of exchange in fandom. Literally: an ego-boost. When one’s fanzine or writing or artwork is well-received, one receives egoboo. Most fans will admit when pressed, that egoboo is their real reward for their fan activity.

A sense of humor is all that’s needed to ward off brickbats.

The references here are to the fan scene in the early fifties, when every fanzine published fanzine reviews (many still do), and a good number of professional magazines also reviewed fanzines. Quite often the reviews were critical in a petty sense, completely demolishing the fragile egos of neofans whose heads had been swelled by egoboo from their neofan peers and who had no real taste of criticism.

The dwarfs are the fanzine critics, the giants reviewers for the professional sf magazines. Most of the latter were not terribly knowledgeable about fandom or fanzines; they were editorial assistants or the like to whom the fanzine reviews were assigned. Among them however were Rog Phillips (Roger Phillips Graham), who launched The Clubhouse here in 1947 and whose reviews broadened in perceptivity with experience—and his wife, Mari Wolff (Graham), who reviewed fanzines in Pandora’s Box, a column in a now-defunct sf magazine, Imagination. Mari had a reputation for doling out egoboo to every fanzine she reviewed with indiscriminate abandon. This reputation was not entirely undeserved. Later, toward the end of Imagination’s career, Robert Bloch took over the column and improved it immensely.

Letterax is a prozine letterhack—someone who makes a practice of writing letters to the professional sf magazines, and whose letters are regularly published therein. At one time every sf magazine (and there were more than a score) had a lengthy lettercolumn, and letterhacking to the prozines was an acceptable form of fan activity, although many fans considered it only a sideline or a way-station on the way into Trufandom. For some, however, it was a major aspect of fan activity, and many fans first established themselves as Big Names by letterhacking the prozines of the forties. The practice died in the fifties, along with most of the prozine lettercolumns.

The Headeaters are the prozine editors—mythical figures within fandom then—and at that time the prozines’ lettercolumns and fanzine review columns were considered indispensable in introducing new blood to fandom. Indeed, when both features virtually disappeared from the prozines in the late fifties (and some feared the prozines themselves would soon be extinct), it was widely held that fandom would collapse upon itself and die of attrition. This did not happen; fandom had become self-sustaining (always granted that science fiction itself survived in some form) and continued to grow in size despite the lack of the traditional avenues of access. Then the “tradition” that Trufandom depended for its existence on the “Headeaters” was proved false.

Last revised: 10 July, 2011

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