Fanorama by Walt Willis


Looks at British fandom

TRIODE, No. 2. Eric Bentcliffe, Terry Jeeves and Eric Jones, 58 Sharrard Grove, Sheffield, 12. 48 pages, 9d. This has been one of the leading British fanmags since its excellent first issue, and this second one maintains the standard with a wide range of good material, including a page of photographs. Tony Thorne fancifully recounts adventures with a book club which was so over-generous as to move a subscriber to tears (it must have been Readers' Onion) and a pseudonymous author tells of early struggles so protracted that his victory was dust in his mouth. Dale Smith has some booknotes which will be of interest to collectors (if there are any left these days) and Mal Ashworth succeeds in writing three entertaining pages about not spending a night in a haunted house, a new approach of seance fiction. The best line is "On a sunny afternoon like this I'd spend a night in Bolling Castle on my own any time." There is also a promising column by Mike Wallace, reviews, editorials, cartoons, and a thing by me. However, the most interesting item is probably a symposium called "Grab Up That Torch," in which Ken Slater proffers a few helpful if impractical suggestions as  how British science fiction magazines might increase their circulation, and is promptly trampled into the mire by two English professional editors. One of them goes so far as to say that because American magazines pay more, they " will have first call on the best stories—apart from the odd story that is sold to a British publisher out of kindness, drunkenness or sheer stupidity." Of course I know I'm only a fan, and probably a misfit to boot, but I'd thought there might be a few more reasons why some struggling native Sturgeon with a hard roe to hoe just might send his story to a British editor. Because, for instance, he has been given help and encouragement to write it, or because he can hope for an early decision and a prompt cheque, or because he likes the editor (and this is more important than one would think), or because his story is more suited to a British magazine (due to American political taboos, for instance, or stylistic conventions or reasons of locale). I have known British fan editors who offer authors no money at all but who have yet managed to get stories which are subsequently bought for hardcover anthologies. What science fiction everywhere needs is not more kindness, drunkenness or stupidity, but more editors with enough gumption to go out looking for material and enough talent to help their authors to make a good story out of a mediocre one. As it is some of them cannot even be trusted to correct spelling.

FEMIZINE, Nos. 3 and 4. Joan Carr, Ethel Lindsay and Frances Evans, School House, Teignmouth St., Collyhurst, Manchester, 9. 62 pages (double issue), 1/6. A very gay and charming magazine produced by that most opposite of sexes, men not even being allowed to contribute. Typical is Pamela Bulmer's quarter-serious exhortation to girl fans to revolt against the domination of the men. Among the deeds to which she urges them is to chain themselves to the lamp-posts outside the Globe Tavern, where the London Circle now meet. (Is this why they moved from Fetter Lane ?) Personally I think they'd have a better chance of being noticed if .they were chained to the bar inside, like some of the men. Pamela also has a very entertaining column called " Wigwam," which might have been sub-titled "Watch Out For Squaws" Frances Evans contributes a nice little vignette about a misogynist and Daphne Buckmaster writes -futuristic nuclear-fashion notes ,on the design of female spacesuits. (I thought it was established that young females can endure the cold of interstellar space in a bikini, or nothing atoll.) I notice that the model illustrated has very narrow lapels, which bears out the male contention that when women usurp men's place they cease to be so widely revered. Another 2054 item is Ethel Lindsay's "Dear Diary," a sort of Pepys into the future. This magazine is actually published in Egypt, where one of the girls is stationed in the WRAC, which makes the nickname "Fez" very appropriate. I hope no one will try turban it.

SATELLITE, No. 4. Don Allen, 3 Arkle St., Gateshead, 8, Co. Durham. 56 pages, 1/6. A bright and neatly produced magazine by a very promising young editor, with material varying widely in type and quality. The most interesting are probably Jan Jansen's fascinatingly frank survey of Belgian fandom and "Vitriol's" determinedly malignant column "Fanalysis." The main defect of the latter is that the anonymous author's acquaintanceship with genuine dragons is slight, and some of his victims look more like windmills to me, but it's pungently written and with a little more evidence of a sense of humour should make a very fine column indeed. This is a special issue of Satellite (the usual price being 1/-) and incorporates the second issue of a cartoon magazine called " Dizzy," which normally sells at 9d per copy. The first issue of this magazine would have made a good thing for a bride to take to her wedding, containing as it did something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, but the original material is more plentiful in this issue and many of the cartoons are genuinely funny. As for the blue ones, they seem to my twisted mind to be good too, but I was amused to notice "Vitriol" sounding off against similar mild indecency in fanmags. Evidently charity begins, and ends, at home.

from Nebula No. 12, April 1955

Last revised: 1 October, 2006

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