Fanorama by Walt Willis

WALTER WILLIS writes for you

We all know what the intrepid spaceman will look like, don't we? A tall, bronzed, clean-limbed godlike young man, resplendent from jackboots to epaulettes, with steely blue eyes focused firmly on Alpha Centauri 'and chin jutting determinedly in the direction of Rigel: At least, that's how he looked from a couple of dozen years away. Now that we're so much nearer, how about a closer look?

Ted Tubb has already broken the news to us that he's probably a midget, to save vital space and weight. For the same reason, that useless gaudy uniform will have to go. Hell have to wear some clothes to prevent spacesuit sores, but something resembling long woollen underwear would cover his requirements admire- ably. The torso can be baggy but the legs will almost certainly be elasticised on account of the poor fellow's varicose veins—all those changes in gravity, you know. But no jackboots, I'm afraid. They're just the job for stamping on the villain's hand as he's scrabbling for his blaster, but no good at all for clambering round 180 degree angles in free fall. Something like tennis shoes would be far more comfortable for all hands, including that .of the villain. The "uniform"will probably be grey in colour . . . or at least it will end up that way, it being difficult to wash out one's smalls in a spaceship. For similar reasons his teeth will be in a bad way; which is unfortunate really because his health isn't too good anyway (not much roughage in those concentrates you know) and the pimples show up rather against his pale complexion. (He has to be screened against that dangerous solar radiation.) Not that his stomach has much of a chance in any case, what with him going about on all fours most of the time. This is obviously the only sensible means of progression in free fall if he's to make proper use of his magnetic wristbands. It's a pity he has to pad about like an ape, but those magnetic boots are tricky things and if he tries to stand upright he'll almost certainly kick himself off and hang there in space upside down. Another little snag about ,those magnetic boots is that unless he keeps them well apart they're liable to stick to each other every time he takes a step, throwing him flat on his face. Fortunately he has acquired a special sort of waddling gait to lessen the incidence of this embarrassment.

So what does our intrepid spaceman look like on closer inspection? A skinny knock-kneed round-shouldered pimply dwarf, suffering from toothache, varicose veins, constipation, halitosis, B.O., ulcers, agarophobia and duck's disease, shambling about in long combinations with his hands brushing the ground. Momentarily he gives the impression that after half a million years of evolution we're back where we started. But I wouldn't waste any sympathy on him. Not only beauty, but handsomeness, is in the eyes of the beholder. And since homo spaceman is the new pioneer survival type, all the girls will be crazy about his style of looks. No, he'll be all right, Jack. What's worrying me is us. What's going to happen to all us tall bronzed clean-limbed godlike young men?


Camber No. 7. Alan Dodd, 77 Stanstead Road, Herts., England. 1/- per copy. This magazine has always been impeccably produced under its present editor, but has made great advances in the standard of its contents since its early issues. The main feature this time is a hilarious piece of fictional nonsense by John Berry, but the most unusual one is a report on a Swedish s.f. fan convention by Alvar Appeltoft. Continental fandom is growing like a forest fire: or perhaps I should say a Forrest fire, in recognition of the services to international fandom of Forrest J. Ackerman. Other contents of this Camber include engaging little columns by Warren Link, Terry Carr and Robert Coulson, all Americans (Camber has always been more oriented towards the States . . . or should that be occidented . . . than most British fanmags), a well-written but confusing piece of fannish fiction by Ron Bennett, and a simply dreadful piece of shaggy-doggery by Dave Jenrette. There are also reviews and readers' letters. In one of the latter Warren Link complains about the staples falling out of the last issue and makes the revolutionary suggestion that this is an attempt by fanzines to reproduce themselves. As a publisher myself, I consider this a consummation devoutly to be wished.

The New Futurian No. 6 Mike Rosenblum and Ron Bennett, 7 Grosvenor Park, Leeds 7, England. 9d. per copy. Mike Rosenblum has now gone into partnership with the editor publisher of Ploy, Ron Bennett, and the idea is to issue each fanzine alternately. A very fine thing too if Bennett's energy can bring out The New Futurian more frequently. This is a serious (but not solemn) fanmag devoted primarily to the intelligent discussion of science fiction, and has been much missed during its period of suspended animation. The frothy fanmags full of fun that are popular nowadays are all very well, but they need the subsoil of serious interest in s.f. to grow from. The contents of this issue include an article by E.R. James touching on his own methods of writing, an article about modern music by Harry Warner, a vivid report on the  New York Convention by Bob Pavlat, a piece of fan history by veteran Sid Birchby and other excellent material.

from Nebula No. 21, May 1957

Last revised: 1 October, 2006

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