Fanorama by Walt Willis

WALTER A. WILLIS

Looks at British fandom

"i" No. 1, E.C. Tubb, A.V. Clarke and S. Mackenzie, 5, Hans Place, London, S.W.1. 42 pages, 1/6 per copy.
To say that this is better than most first issues would be not only an understatement but irrelevant. An understatement because in fact it's better than most umpteenth issues, and irrelevant because in a sense it's not a first issue at all. All the editors are experienced writers or publishers and in the London Circle they have such a repository of unrealised resources that only a catalyst was needed to produce a magazine which can take its place at the top without going through any of the usual tedious intermediate processes. Outstanding among the contents of this issue are a telling satire on fan organisers by Nigel Lindsay, a thoughtful article by Stuart Mackenzie about children's "space" toys (he points out that for the first time children are playing with toys which do not simulate the existing adult world), a serious instructive article by Bryan Berry about the lesser-known non-fantasy works of August Derleth which will be of avid interest to all fans interested in the lesser-known non-fantasy works of August Derleth, a briliant piece of fannish mythology by Ted Tubb, a charming little fannish vignette by Daphne Buckmaster, and an analysis of the fan by John Brunner. Everything in the magazine is well worth reading and its sole defect is the impression it gives of a rather unsympathetic editorial personality, unfortunate in a magazine so thoroughly esoteric. It seems to me that the natural hostility of the newcomer to things he doesn't understand should be met by an editorial attitude which goes out of its way to be friendly and welcoming—things which fans in fact are. Allowances should be made however for the inevitable defects of anything composed by an editorial board, and it's very pleasant to see London returning to fan activity, especially with a production as good as this.

THE NEW FUTURIAN, No. 2, J.M. Rosenblum, 7, Grosvenor Park, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, 7, England, 42 pages, 9d. per copy.
This revival of a famous war-time magazine fills very satisfactorily a gap I've been bemoaning for some time. It's that rare phenomenon, a really good fan magazine which deals primarily with science fiction. Since this is what most newcomers innocently expect a science fiction fan magazine to be like, The New Futurian is a good one for them to start with. They'll find a vast amount of interesting discussion ranging from Eric Hopkins' vehement assertion that "science fiction is rubbish" (compared, apparently, with Shakespeare, the Bible, Thucydides and Ray Bradbury) to John Brunner's interesting theory that present-day science fiction stories are more accomplished than the classic short stories of the past because all the techniques have been worked out. There is also the second instalment of Walter Gillings' history of English fandom, which is still dealing with the origins of English science fiction. In fact so far it has read more like an autobiography of Walter Gillings, but then that's only to be expected. Gillings is the father of both English fandom and English s-f, and his procreative reminiscences have their place in history.

The only item I'd find fault with in this magazine is an article about the Mount Palomar telescope which, though interesting enough, has its spiritual home in a popular science journal. But then I always feel that way about science articles in science fiction magazines. The way I look at it, science is the bugbear of science fiction. The more science you know the less science fiction you can enjoy. And I don't mean that as a criticism of the stories. It seems to me that the true importance of science fiction is not as a sort of suggestion box for inventors, as Gernsback seems to think, nor as a literary genre, as Hopkins and Brunner would have it, but rather as an intellectual stimulant. A little learning leads you into the dangers of mental quibbling with the author about minor scientific errors in his story and overlooking its merits as an exercise in the creative imagination. And after all, most of the great things that have been done in the world have been the work of people who went and did them before they knew they were impossible. Whereas it had to be a real scientific expert who could sit down and prove that aeroplanes couldn't fly.

ORION, No. 5, Paul Enever, 9, Churchill Avenue, Hillingdon, Middlesex, England, 36 pages (small size), 5d. per copy.
This issue of the best bargain in fandom contains a delightful piece of humorous writing by that wayward genius Bob Shaw, a fascinating column by George Whiting, a really excellent piece of serious fiction by someone masquerading under the name of James Keeping, and the editor's own agreeably written comments on various matters of interest. Heartily recommended. This is the magazine that was so unfairly reviewed in a rival science-fiction magazine recently, but if you write for it on my recommendation and aren't satisfied I will personally refund your money. I don't think I'll have to start saving up.

THE MEDWAY JOURNAL LITERARY AND NEWS SUPPLEMENT, Brian Lewis and Tony Thorne, 21, Granville Road, Gillingham, Kent, England, 4½d. per issue.
News, reviews and comments on the pro and fan world interestingly written and well presented.

My apologies to the other editors whose reviews were crowded out. Next time perhaps.

from Nebula No. 10, October 1954

Last revised: 1 October, 2006

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