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Kittywompus Tracks Fanzines - May 2000

Button23 May 2000
I'm actually beginning to believe that <plokta.con> will happen, now. The "programme book" (in reality Plokta #19), and the second printing of No Moose Today, Thanks came back from the copy shop tonight. A slight stapling frenzy later and all our publications are now ready. Tomorrow our first houseguest arrives (take a bow, Vicki) and we've got the sort of large intercontinental fannish meal more normally restricted to the times around Eastercons and Worldcons tomorrow. Nevertheless, there's time to at least mention today's fanzines.

Baloney 1, Arnie Katz, 330 S Decatur Blvd, PMB 152, Las Vegas, NV 89107, USA & Tom Springer, 15515 NE First Circle, Vancouver, WA 98684, USA. 20pp letter. E-mail Tom at tomsprung@aol.com and Arnie at akatz@aol.com

Baloney proclaims itself to have new ground rules. "It's available for the usual, but not if we discover we don't like you". But I've been told in the past by venerable faneds that this is the way The Usual was always meant to work; that we should have no compunction about not sending the fanzine to tedious gits, even if they did loc every single issue. Certainly if we suffered from the traditional fannish problem of never quite being able to afford the mailing, I would have not the slightest compunction about keeping interesting people who contacted us rarely over dull people who send regular locs. We received one letter over two pages long on the last Plokta, from a notable letterhack, and had serious difficulty even finding one usable sentence to extract from the WAHF column.

Whoops; this was meant to be a review. Delving a bit further into the fanzine, we discover that as well as all the people they like, Tom and Arnie are also sending the zine to five "insensitive, ill-bred, ignorant, benighted, egotistical and big-mouthed" people, for entertainment value. I think we can safely assume that I am one of these, as I have committed the cardinal sin of criticising a previous fanzine of Arnie's. Mind you, I'm surprised they only found five.

First issues of fanzines are notoriously difficult, though you'd think Arnie would have the hang of it by now. Nearly half of this fanzine is his editorial, which could be subtitled 'why I am pubbing my ish'. This is the sort of thing I described (and was desperate to avoid) in the Coda to Trinketry. Luckily, Arnie has got the hang of this game, and provides seven and a half pages of jolly entertaining navel gazing. I get the vague impression from it that he's intending to poke fun at people; an aim with which I wholeheartedly approve. Even if it's me. Probably.

Along with Arnie's editorial, and a shorter one in the same vein but with no venom from Tom, there are three other articles here. The first instalment of a posthumous column from Bill Rotsler tells pedestrian anecdotes from art school in the forties. Joyce Katz ruminates on the old notion of 'fandom as a family', but her short piece says little new and peters out without drawing any conclusions. Tom describes her as 'one of the best fan writers' but you'd not know it from this offering. Much better than either of these is Ken Forman's tale of trying to buy Tom the perfect Christmas present.

So, overall, I enjoyed Baloney. Nevertheless, Arnie's comments on Paul Kincaid, his quick dismissal of views radically different from his own as 'uninformed', and his description of letters received by crifanac as 'worryingly stupid', make me suspect that many of us may unwittingly cause Tom and Arnie to decide that we're acting like people who don't want the fanzine. It is, in truth, possible to receive, enjoy, and respond to a fanzine without agreeing with a single word in it. Do I really need to say that I want to receive Arnie Katz's fanzines, and trade for them -- but reserve the right to write critically about them?

Wedding Newsletter, subtitled 'OK!' Magazine for the Alternative Set, Eira and SMS. Probably not available for the usual, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. E-mail eirasms@aol.com. 6pp A4.

I think this was probably intended as a souvenir booklet for people attending the wedding. Lots of photos and descriptions of Eira and SMS's three different weddings (Methodist, pagan and civic), an entertaining thanks list, photos of the Bride on a trapeze in full regalia, descriptions of what went wrong, and little details we needed to know, like the fact that the last houseguests left twelve days after the wedding. The real highlight here is the ode to Eira written by her mum and read out at the reception. But only in this version has SMS's real name been Tippexed out wherever it appears.

Button17 May 2000
I'm writing today from the Fannish Lamination Front. I've noticed that my colour printer seems to not get used for months on end, and then is called upon to do vast amounts of printing all at once. It's CD labels at the moment; the <plokta.con> badges are neatly stacked up in a big pile in the kitchen. And, after more than a week with no fanzines at all in the post, I got a big pile of them today.

Though in fact careful perusal indicates that one of them is the Waltham Forest NCT newsletter. Which probably doesn't count.

Gegenschein 87 (May 2000) and 88 (June 2000), Eric Lindsay, PO Box 640, Airlie Beach, Queensland 4802, Australia (though there is a warning that this address may not be checked frequently).
Probably available for the usual; Eric says he's particularly trying to boost his UK list as he and Jean Weber are standing for GUFF this year. 14/10pp A4. E-mail eric@wrevenge.com.au, and there is a web archive

Conreports in diary format for Aussiecon 3, Potlatch and Corflu, along with buying a mobile home, and various discussion about Eric and Jean's increasingly nomadic lifestyle, mobile phones and so on. And a few book reviews. I'm sure I'd find book reviews more interesting if I had more time to read books; as it is my reading is almost entirely limited to books that have been recommended by several friends. This fanzine is also, I think, the first time I have ever read the phrase 'superfluous technology' used to refer to anything other than the toys of the Plokta cabal.

Eric's diary writing would be better if he edited out the times he spends doing his laundry or waiting for planes, and expanded the little fannish incidents so that, rather than just hearing "Had dinner... at an Afghan restaurant called Kabul with Donya White. We talked about cooking, and British rail food" we got some sense of what was discussed, why Donya is a stimulating dinner companion (or not), what's so special about Afghan food anyway (or indeed, what's so special about British Rail food), and, in general, what made this evening different from any other one.

Derogatory Reference 95, Arthur D Hlavaty, 206 Valentine Street, Yonkers, NY 10704-1814, USA
Available for the usual or $1 ($2 if you're outside the USA). 6pp letter. E-mail hlavaty@panix.com.

Derogatory Reference is an entertaining -- but frustratingly short -- perzine. This one focuses on Arthur's recent fall (he broke his arm while screwing in a lightbulb) but covers lots of other things as well.

Squiggledy Hoy 4, Bridget Bradshaw, 19 Hill Court Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL52 3JJ, UK Available for the usual, I think. 24pp A5. E-mail bugshaw@cix.co.uk, and Bug has a web page, though I don't know if it has any back issues on it.

"Fandom's largest COA notice", or so Bridget suggests. She's settled in her new home now, and Squiggledy Hoy is a cross between a perzine and a genzine. It's structured in articles, at any rate, with guest articles from Tony Keen and EB Frohvet, a lengthy letter column, and plenty of squiggledy hoys.

This wasn't really one of today's fanzines, but is another which was given to me at 2Kon and ended up in a pile of unsorted papers until I got round to sorting it. I think this may be a reason that people don't write letters to fanzines they receive at cons. They lose them in their luggage for months on end and then are too embarrassed to write. Remember, it's never too late to loc.

Button7 May 2000
A big crop of e-zines; I think it has something to do with the first Thursday of the month or something. So I've started a separate page for them.

Thanks are due, meanwhile, to Morris Keesan, who pointed out that not merely this page, but the entire site, was completely unreadable in Netscape. Whoops. Please let me know if your browser has trouble with this site.

Button4 May 2000

Dreamberry Wine, May-June 2000, Mike Don, 233 Maine Road, Manchester M14 7WG.
Available for the usual. 16pp A4. E-mail mike.don@lineone.net

This is a particular oddity in the SF world; a second-hand book catalogue that also includes some short reviews and a letter column.

Quasiquote #2, Sandra Bond, 46 Stirling Road, London N22 5BP.
Available for the usual, for old fanzines (send a list) or for 1 or $2. 48pp A5. E-mail sandra@ho-street.demon.co.uk.

Actually, I was handed this at Eastercon, but it got put into a pile which I've just sorted out. It's election day today, and QQ supports Ken Livingstone for Evil Overlord of the Universe. Newt Power, that's what I say.

The editorial includes a brief memorial to Joy Hilbert -- "...I suspect that if I don't memorialise over her, no other fanzine will." And I'll freely admit to being the London faned who's recently picked up second-hand copies of the marvellous Hothead Paisan. Even the calmest monogamous suburban mum can have her Homicidal Lesbian Terrorist moments, you know.

Lots for the fan historian in this issue, with Mark Plummer's detailed review of the Vargo Statten Science Fiction Magazine, and Sandra's reminiscences about the Knew Mutants. But the standout article is the chronologically first installment of Ulrika's TAFF report (a later incident had already appeared in Widening Gyre). Might this be the first completed US TAFF report since time immoral?

Button3 May 2000

Challenger #11, Guy Lillian, PO Box 53092, New Orleans, LA 70153-3092, USA.
Available for the usual, or $6 single copy cost.

100 sides, which arrived by the world's quickest surface mail. About half the surface mail we get from the States actually comes airmail, whereas everything that comes 'economy airmail' from Australia seems to take months. I don't pretend to understand this. Challenger is another Hugo nominee, and Guy is clearly delighted by this. He also celebrates 'a penny a click sale on self-serve printing'. Plokta, paring printing costs to the bone, costs 2p a side; more than three times as much. Perhaps this is why Americans produce enormous fanzines?

This issue has a theme of "My Day in Court", and most of the articles reflect this, producing a fairly strong overall flavour to the fanzine. Unfortunately, several of the writers' days in court were rather pedestrian. It's hard to make a strong article, as EB Frohvet tries, out of the experience of turning up at court as a witness three times, having the case postponed twice, and dealt with in five minutes without his being called the third time. He could either have hung jokes onto the frame, or he could have tried to bring out a greater sense of pointlessness and frustration. But instead this piece is a rather flat description.

My very favourite article here is only peripherally about court, although court is threatened; a divine anecdote by John Berry about fingerprinting a tailor's dummy. In addition to the themed articles, there's a lengthy letter column, and a nice stack of fanzine reviews.

In Mimosa's letter column, Harry Warner Jr muses on the demise of the large solid genzine. I think Challenger is picking up the mantle very nicely.

Button2 May 2000

This Here #2, Nic Farey, PO Box 178, St Leonard, MD 20685, USA
Available in hard copy for roughly the usual, or by e-mail as a word attachment from Nfarey@comappspec.com

Nic is one of Tobes' TAFF nominators, and this zine supports Tobes for TAFF pretty thorougly. Described as an occasional perzine, this has short articles on the proliferation of fish badges, some likely recent music, pro wrestling, and Nic's regular habit of driving while intoxicated. Of these, the last clearly stands out. There's also several interesting letters with far too many editorial comments.

It's jolly good to see Nic publishing fairly regularly again.

Button28 April 2000

Mimosa #25, Nicki and Richard Lynch, P.O. Box 3120, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20885, USA.
Available for the usual, or $4 single copy (or $10 for three back issues). The Mimosa website has all the back issues from #10 available to read online.

Mimosa never quite greases my candle, but I'm always glad to receive it, and I'd be sad to see them cease publication, as they've threatened to do. It's long, beautifully produced, and is in my view unmatched in terms of the care taken to match artwork with articles. It's a regular Hugo nominee (including this year) and five-time winner.

My impression was (but remember I don't have the fanzine to hand) that articles this time are mostly fanhistorical, despite the editors' protestations that they try to feature a mix of the fanhistorical and the current. I was particularly irritated by Joyce Scrivner's 'remembrance' of Walt Willis and Bob Shaw, despite feeling vaguely ashamed of my self for feeling this way. The problem is that Joyce only met each of them once or twice; it doesn't make for a strong article or a strong sense of why Bob and Walt were so special to our community. Too much of Mimosa feels like this to me; embalming the minutiae of fannish history rather than celebrating the delightful and unusual. I don't know how much of this is inevitable because of the fanhistorical emphasis, but I don't normally feel this way about, for example, Trapdoor. The final article is not like this; it tells of a business trip to Eastern Europe with some fan visits on the side. But the emphasis is on beautiful publications and the structure of the local fandom; I'd much rather hear funny stories and tales of fannish excess.

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