Fanorama by Walt Willis
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From WALTER A. WILLIS
It seems to be raining fanmags in Manchester these days, which must be a nice change for the inhabitants. While the rest of English fandom seems to have been paralysed by the Convention the Mancunians have been living up to their own modest description of themselves as 'Great Britain's Most Active Fan Group' to the extent of producing both the fanmags I have to review, plus another one which I think is on the way but hasn't arrived in time. I hope it's not using the same mode of travel as another Manchester magazine I remember, which was described by a more hair-raising reviewer as "looking as if it had been kicked all the way from Salford." An unkind remark but justified, though recalling the muddy printing and washed-out appearance of that issue I think maybe 'dribbled ' would have been a better word than 'kicked.' On the other hand, these two magazines arc the most attractive looking fanmags published in England since oldtime fan Harry Turner retired from amateur publishing some twelve years ago. This isn't surprising, since the new publisher of both of them is that same Harry Turner, walking the earth again like a giant from a former era and shaking the ground for complacency from under the feats of the lesser publishers of today.
ASTRONEER, a Nor-West Science Fantasy Club Publication (How I love these long names the fans think up. I get paid for every word.) edited by Paul Sowerby and Harry Turner, 9 Willow Bank, Church Lane, Moston, Manchester 9. Quarterly, 1/- Per copy. This one has a nicely executed two-colour cover and the reproduction throughout is of such a high standard that I think the manufacturers of the duplicator used would do well to buy Harry Turner and put him on exhibition throughout the country. He wouldn't be the first fan to make an exhibition of himself, judging from the vignettes of the London Convention published here under discreet anonymity and the title 'Coroncon Comments.' Such goings-on! Another more serious article deals with the science of general semantics, which used to be a very popular subject in fanmags until Korczybski's book was published in a cheap edition and fans actually tried to read it. Most notable of the other comments is a fanciful little story called 'Love Among The Robots,' all about a romance between a shoe-shine machine and an automatic timekeeper. It ends unhappily, but then stories which deal with robots as people inevitably do. There's always some flaw when machines try to have love affairs with one another . . . a screw missing, as it were.
ZENITH, Harry Turner, address as above. Irregular, 1/- per copy. This mag is Turner's own personal brainchild, and something of a prodigal son too since it's the same mag that made his name twelve years ago. He has certainly killed the fatted calf for this issue. The contents can't really live up to their presentation but they go down fighting. They include a drily humorous 'Lament for Science Fiction' by D. R. Smith, dessicated to the proposition that there has been no true science fiction since 1930. Mr. Smith's criterion for true science fiction is apparently that it has footnotes, presumably like the ones the old stagers will remember . . .
This was known at the time as 'the educative value of science fiction,' but is now referred to in literary circles as turgid crud. Smith goes on to admit that we are well rid of this sort of thing, which makes one wonder was there any point to the article other than to illustrate how well Smith can write with his tongue in his cheek—admittedly neither the best implement nor the best surface for fine writing. The most promising feature is one called BLAST, which is to be devoted to denunciation, satire and sheer vulgar abuse of various personalities in the s.f. world. Even the most respected and venarable figures are not to be spared, it seems, for the first victim is none other than myself. Not, I am surprised to see, for any of the things I am ashamed of, but for relaying an article to an American fanmag that spoke too well of Ted Carnell (By which true but thoroughly misleading description I think I've got my own back). But probably the best things in this excellent magazine are the cartoons by Denness Morton who is, I am told, 78 years of age, female, and a Scottish Nationalist. In spite of all this she seems to have a keen sense of humour. I was told she's a dianeticist, too, but I have an idea someone has been pulling my leg and I don't want to be sued for libel.
from Nebula No. 5, September 1953
Last revised: 1 October, 2006
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