Fanorama by Walt Willis

WALTER WILLIS writes for you

For some reason I seem to have no fan magazines to review this time round, so you can take the knife out of your piggy-bank and relax—your bacon has been saved for another month. All that can be heard from British amateur publishers these days is a plaintive keening about the new postal rates, which are not only so harsh but so anomalous in their effects that they seem to have thrown British science-fiction fans into a sort of delirium. No doubt the Government would have quailed if they had realised what a blow they were going to strike at this finest delicate flower of western culture, but apparently all the members of the Cabinet must have failed to renew their fanmag subscriptions simultaneously and this is the dire result.

There have been postal increases in the States, too, but there the Government was cunning enough to announce beforehand that the revenue was going to be used to finance the space flight programme. In such a case, of course, no true science fiction fan could possibly raise the slightest objection. Every time he posts something he knows he is licking the Russians as well as the stamp—every postal item is a sort of mailed fist, as it were —and helping the march of Man towards the stars. Looking at the envelopes I get from America, I can only imagine that each American fan is determined to finance the whole project single-handed.

But here in Britain we have no space flight programme (shame!) and the money we give to the Government is just frittered away on necessities. I warn them they are asking for trouble. One of these days the ingenious minds of science fiction fans are going to work out a way to retaliate and get their own back from the Post Office. To clear logical minds like ours the approach is quite obvious—a simple anti-gravity device, small enough to be popped inside a postal package—and no doubt some science fiction fan, after a diligent perusal of all the stories dealing with this development, is at this moment knocking one together in his laboratory. No wonder he hasn't published an issue of his fanmag lately! While he is toiling away there I suggest we might start operations with an even simpler weapon, the flat balloon. Made out of the new pre-stressed plastic, each balloon would contain enough helium or similar light gas to lift a weight of 2 oz. By merely tucking one of these inside a 4 oz. parcel you would be able to send it at the 2 oz. rate. Or by enclosing two minus‑2 oz. balloons you could, of course, send it for nothing, since the Post Office in its helpless innocence bases its charges on weight not volume. But this would only be the trial skirmish. When sufficient supplies of balloons or anti-gravity plates are available, every fan publisher will flood the Post Office with packets weighing huge minus quantities. The Postmaster-General will then go bankrupt paying out money and the Government will be brought to its knees. Simple, isn't it?

Tentacles Across the Sea
In progress at the moment is the 1958 election campaign for the Transatlantic Fan Fund, a project to send a British fan to the American Convention in Los Angeles in September by public subscription. Any contribution to this worthy cause, however large, would be welcomed by the British organiser, Ken Bulmer, 204 Wellmeadow Road, Catford, London, S.E. 6, who is even now trudging from travel agent to travel agent trying to find a way to Los Angeles on the limited funds at present available. In this case money seems to be the evil of all routes.

In Memoriam
Within the past few months the science fiction world has suffered two very great bereavements, with the sudden deaths of Henry Kuttner and Cyril Kornbluth. I haven't space here even to start summarising the debt we all owe to these two writers, and even those of us who have been familiar with the science fiction field for a long time find it difficult to take in at once the extent of the loss it has sustained. It is a shock, for instance, to realise that in the same grave as Henry Kuttner are interred the ghostly figures of Lewis Padgett, Edward Benin, Paul Edmonds, Noel Gardner, Will Garth, James Hall, Keith Hammond, Hudson Hastings, Kelvin Kent, Woodrow Wilson Smith, Robert Kenyon, C. H. Liddell, Scott Morgan and Laurence O'Donnell. Not to mention half of several famous collaborations.

The End of Anarchy
British Fandom seems to have taken to heart the remark made some months ago by your editor about the dearth of properly organised science fiction clubs in Britain. Anyway, at the British Convention at Easter, a new national organisation has been set up, the British Science Fiction Association. In the past, British fan organisations have had a fine record for stability and efficiency, and it looks as if this one will be well worth joining. At the moment of writing all the details have not been quite finalised, but enquiries may be made to Eric Bentcliffe, 47 Alldis Street, Great Moor, Stockport, Cheshire. One of the most interesting things about the new organisation is that Ted Tubb has been named editor of the Official Organ.

News and Gossip
Bob Shaw, fan writer of genius, and a NEBULA discovery as a professional author, is returning to Ireland at the end of this summer after a two-year stay in Canada. . . . Your film correspondent, Forrest J. Ackerman, recently edited a highly successful 300,000 circulation oneshot magazine entitled Famous Monsters of Filmland. . . .

from Nebula No. 32, July 1958

Last revised: 1 October, 2006

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