Fanorama by Walt Willis

WALTER WILLIS writes for you

Having spent the two weeks of my summer holidays shivering under a cloudy sky and two pullovers on the exposed East coast, I have just brought my family home through the first blaze of a heat wave. The journey was accomplished without incident—the bus driver did get out once to examine his gears, but it was only us gnashing our teeth—until I found something lurking in wait behind the front door. It was a telegram from your editor asking for this column for the day after tomorrow. Naturally, at a time like this, all I am capable of thinking about is the weather. And, as one Harry Warner has pointed out recently in his magazine "Horizons," it is a subject which has been unaccountably neglected by our s-f authors. It's important, though. There's a theory, for instance, that the Dark Ages in Europe were caused by fine weather, an increase in mean temperatures over several centuries having sapped everyone's energy and initiative. Apparently they should have been called The Fair Ages.

Looking round at this usually drab industrial city I can well believe this theory. For a long number of years, during which the only way we could tell it was the summer was that the rain was warmer, we were sober, industrious and severe. But look at us now. After a mere four days of fine weather men are going about without their jackets, women without practically everything, and both are lolling about in the shade of Keep Off The Grass signs when they should be writing each other memoranda. I tell you, decadence is setting in fast. Next thing we'll have cafes on the pavements, floral shirts and sunburned people being lynched by those who took their holidays too early. A few more months of this and the whole country will go native and the Eskimos or Saturnians will move in. The heat is on, friends. You have been warmed!


Triode 10. Eric Bentcliffe and Terry J eeves 47 Alldis Street, Great Moor, Stockport, Cheshire. 1/- per copy. This magazine has steadily improved over the years until it is now in a leading position in the field. The varied contents this time include an indescribable story by Nigel Lindsay about a man who had himself hypnotised into seeing sharks chasing him to improve his swimming speed and then couldn't get rid of them on dry land . . . a case of mirage in haste and repentance at leisure . . . another esoteric gem from John Berry, some agreeably frank fanmag reviews and lively editorials and letter section.

The New Futurian 7. Mike Rosenblum and Ron Bennett, 7 Grosvenor Park, Chapel-Allerton, Leeds 7, 9d per copy. (They might have charged 7d, just this once). As I've said before, this is a fine magazine for the newcomer to the field, since it has a more direct reference to science fiction than many fanmags. This time for instance there is an unusually brilliant satire on Ray Bradbury by D. R. Smith (The Bradbury 'Alice'), another instalment in Walter Gillings' version of Mein Kampf, about early days of British s-f, the last in a series of scholarly articles about fantasy in music by Harry Warner, a brilliant column by someone hiding his light under a bushel called "Phoenix", and some excellent book and magazine reviews. It didn't need another 11 pages of provocative readers' letters to make this one of the best bargains available in the fan publishing field.

Retribution 7. John Berry and Arthur Thomson, 31 Campbell Park Avenue, Belfast. 1/- per copy. Dual editorships seem to be all the rage these days, and this is a classic example of the merits of symbiosis. Arthur is the best cartoonist the fanmag field has ever seen and John the best exponent of the peculiar genre known as fanfiction, i.e. fiction, sometimes thinly disguised as fact, involving various personalities in the s-f world. Between them they produce a magazine which is in its way an utter gem of perfection. You need some knowledge of the dramatis personae and their alleged characteristics to appreciate some of the stories (as indeed you do with any situation comedy series) but the effort is well worth while. Best thing in this issue is a nostalgic half serious story by Irish exile Bob Shaw, who characteristically lavishes more good writing on this little labour of love than some professional authors do on a whole novel. A comparatively new departure for Retribution is a fanmag review column conducted by a bright and perceptive Scots girl called Ethel Lindsay, who I'm proud to say was one of the people introduced to fandom through this column.

from Nebula No. 23, August 1957

Last revised: 1 October, 2006

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