Fanorama by Walt Willis

WALTER A. WILLIS

Looks at British fandom

When I wasn't notified of any deadline for this issue, I unassumingly asumed I had been given the push. I didn't even console myself with the reflection that shortly hordes of enraged readers would be marching on Glasgow shouting for Peter Hamilton's blood. Most of them, I realised, would do no more than sob broken-heartedly for a few days over the demise of this column—after all there are, as you may have noticed, stories and things in the magazine as well; the rest of this high quality paper is not there just to keep my column from being soiled. I decided to wait with quiet dignity until John W. Campbell or Horace Gold cabled me and then start again under another name. I never did like that Electric Fan title anyway.

But I've just bad a hurried note from Pete and it seems I'm still on the payroll after all. It was just a clerical error in the vast Nebula Organisation. (I suppose they call it a clerical error because it could happen to a bishop). Anyhow it means I have to do this instalment in a hurry and I mention the fact so that literary critics won't complain of the absence of the usual polished b,brilliance of style or fan editors that I've ignored their magazine. I haven't time to get out the polishing rags or search my friends' bookcases for my fanmags.

BEM No. 3, Tom White & Mal Ashworth, 3 Vine St., Cutler Heights, Bradford 4, Yorks, 40 pages. 9d. per copy.
Another fine issue of this cheerful and very pleasant fanmag. The best of the contents are an article by Robert Bloch, Wisconsin's finest attempt to make amends to the world for Senator McCarthy, and a parody of Dostoevsky by Bob Shaw. This latter is probably the best parody on Dostoevsky ever to appear in a fanmag... I think I am safe in saying that...and for it we are indirectly indebted to Groff Conklin. I happen to know that he said once that Bob Shaw was a second Dostoevsky (or was it a secondhand Dostoevsky?) whereupon Bob immediately read "Crime And Punishment" to see if it was true, and this is the hilarious result. You don't have to know Dostoevsky to appreciate it though—in fact it's better it you can ignore altogther that whirring noise coming from his grave. There is also a fine piece of satire by Nigel Lindsay about an eskimo fan (incidentally did you hear about the new 3D film, " Mobius Dick "? The first film with unlimited running time) and other entertaining hit-or-miscellania by Vince Clarke, Paul Enever and Archie Mercer. And as usual the editorials almost outclass the contents.

ALPHA, No. 7, Dave Vendelmans and Jan Jansen, 130 Strydhoflaan, Berchen, Antwerp, Belgium, 22 pages, 9d per copy.
This is the first manifestation outside the English-speaking world of the peculiar form of self-expression known as the fan magazine. The editors are two young Belgians who, fortunately, write better English than most of us. Contents include fiction, articles, reports, and reviews. all of a high standard and excellently presented. The mag is intended to be of interest to British and U.S. readers, and succeeds. Don't forget the postage on letters to Europe is 4d.

PHANTASMAGORIA, No. 2 (New Series), Derek Pickles and Stan Thomas, 197 Cutler Heights Lane, Bradford 4, Yorks, 24 pages (small size), no price asked, but send 6d for sample.
This issue is notable for a brilliant little humorous fantasy by Nigel Lindsay about a Bradford trolley-bus called Dolly who migrated to Devon and had an affair with a petrol bus. These transports of joy come to a rude end with a most original denouement. All I can say about it is that if vehicular transport were governing the country this story would be banned.

OPERATION FANTAST No. 16, Ken Slater, 22 Broad St., Syston, Leics., 22 pages, 7/-for four issues, including membership of the OF organisation. Printed.
This, the first issue in far too long of this very reputable magazine, still shows signs of the troubles Ken has been having lately. Best among the contents is an article by J. T. McIntosh on how to write science fiction and sell it. However the magazine is only one of the benefits of the Operation Fantast organisation, which everyone with more than a passing interest in sf would do well to join. KFS and his multi-tentacled organisation will get you books and magazines from all over the world, arrange contacts, and generally help you to get more out of science fiction.

I've also received a copy of THE IMMORTAL STORM, a history of science fiction fandom by Sam Moskowitz, published by the Asfo Press at 713 Coventry Road, Deatur, Georgia, U.S.A., at $5.00 a copy. You should be able to get it through Ken Slater (address above). There are two reasons why you might like to. In the first place, if you are interested in the origins and development of this strange and fascinating microsm you'll find all the answers here.

The second reason is that although...or perhaps because... Moskowitz has no sense of humour, he has written here what is in some ways one of the funniest books ever. He accomplishes this remarkable feat by treating his subject with deadpan seriousness throughout, as if the events he described were of world-shaking significance. A random quotation will show you what I mean. "But again stark drama was preparing her lines.. . and what was to follow...was to deal catastrophe to fandom as a whole. Ragnorak had caught the entire fan world napping!" Fascinating.

From Nebula No. 11, December 1954

Last revised: 1 October, 2006

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