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 from STOP BREAKING DOWN 1 - March 1976

BURNING HELL - fanzine reviews 

I was going to begin this sequence of fanzine reviews with some kind of statement of intent, a sort of declaration of the main principles that run through my head when I consider fanzines. Whichever way I cut it, however, it came out pompous, pretentious, and generally a bit deranged, so anyone whoís seriously concerned about such things will just have to make out as best they can by reading between the lines. However, that being said I must say that as usual British fanzines seem just as bad today as ever was, and I expect I will continue to deserve a reputation for being a vicious cretin ready to demolish a friendly, aspiring little neozine just because it is damned badly written, lacking in imagination, and generally shows no sign that the editor has made an effort to think about what he is doing. You all might just as well see from the outset that I intend to spend more than a short paragraph on each fanzine, my opinions will probably be stated as universally accepted laws (because I refuse to prefix every remark with ĎI thinkí or ĎI believeí) and such opinions will not necessarily be qualified or justified. I will, however, strive to keep them as consistent from review to review, even from issue to issue  - as is mortally possible. These reviews will also, I hope, be quite entertaining.

EGG 10 from Peter Roberts, 6 Westbourne Park Villas, London W2

Well, what can you say about a legend in its own time? Which is what EGG and its editor have become. How can one contemplate anything that might slight a man like Peter Roberts, whose determined immersion in fannish lore and legendry, fanatical dedication to timebinding, and general air of One Who Has Seen Everything At Least Once has lifted him beyond the ordinary Mongish ruck of fans and placed him somewhere up there, glowing softly in the light of a thousand fannish suns. Such is the air of aged knowledge and wisdom that surrounds Roberts that neofans quake in their boots at the mere mention of his name, and those likely to meet the man in person look on it as an audience with the Secret Master of Reality Himself. All this and he is no sagacious patriarchal Old Time Fan confined to his bed and sipping a discrete Ďmedicinalí Guinness, but a svelte, bright-eyed youth of 26, a jolly enough fellow, fortunately of a sufficiently staid and stolid temperament to dispense wit, wisdom, and just a fraction of condescencion at the least opportunity.

I mean, with all this Personality going for him how could he fail to produce the Ultimate mellow fannish fanzine. A damn nice fanzine, actually, well duplicated with very pleasing advantage taken of the multiplicity of typefaces available with expensive electric typefaces bought out of money saved from convention funds by not sending out the programme books. Mostly though, the excellence is due to Roberts himself ; he is one of the few actual writers working in British fandom today, with an innately fluent use of language  - not just wellknown phrases and sayings, but bright and original wordplay  - that makes almost all others seem mere babblers at a loss for subject matter, jokey where wit is a prerequisite, and always ignorant of the quality of brevity. It must be this rare quality that inspires EGG's very strong lettercolumn, probably the best-edited in the UK, that is ineveitably composed of fairly sensible people saying genuinely interesting things.

The most interesting item in this issue, which I canít  resist dwelling upon, lies within the editorial. Itís a discussion and review of the genus crudzine that takes off with what seems to be the archetypal crudzine, a fanzine called STAR ROCKETS, a US production edited by the strangely-named Raleigh Evans Multog, a sort of Dave Womack of the early fifties. The article goes on to raise some good points. In years past, it seems, crudzines were the product of naive adolescents determined against all odds to communicate their passions and fanaticisms to those they believed like-minded. The fact that the resulting publication was bad, a hopelessly duplicated collection of short ill-written pieces gleaned from popular texts, abyssmally hackneyed fiction, or reports of absolutely parochial events was entirely accidental. Thereís an innocent aspiration about such things that must strike a sympathetic chord in all of us whose  first Ďidealí fanzine would have been just like that. Awful, yeah, but real. Now, of course, neofans are too clever by half. Theyíre often aware that their material might be no good and may deliberately present it as Ďcrudí as a forestalling of potential criticism. A bland awareness of the probable faults in their material which deeply aggravates me; those who produce fanzines they claim to have little confidence in and would almost certainly deride if they came from other people are the bloody bane of fandom. Everyone must start somewhere, yeah, but letís not revel in inefficiency, illiteracy, and lack of inspiration.

Itís also true as Roberts points out that the worst crudzines of today are almost the opposite of those spotty adolescent fanaticisms of yore, but are instead smart, polished, printed, illustrated, arty-farty, pretentious and empty Ďamateur magazinesí which have emanated from newer fan-groups over the last one or two years. Particularly from University SF Groups, as one might expect, perhaps. Placed beside them the least, most committedly cruddy genuine fanzine is a fucking triumph of individual aspiration and communication.

Roberts does not, though, seem to note that quite recently there does indeed seem to have been a resurgence of the classic crudzine, mention of which will be found elsewhere in this column.

Anyway, EGG also contains a column of fanzine reviews and chatter by Eric Bentcliffe, who is deeply revered by some but who tends to give me a case of terminal itch; it must be my phobia against Old Time Fans and their supercilious ways. And last but certainly not least, a rather remarkable essay on H.P. Lovecraft by the shadowy figure of James Parkhill-Rathbone, a piece which is almost Borgesian in its brevity and obliquity, and which is very likely one of the most distinctive items to be published in a fanzine in this or any other year.

Oh yeah, almost forgot the EGG BOOK REVIEWS, a throwaway sheet included to impress publishers into sending Peter Roberts free books. Brief and to the point, the reviews are pertinent and meaningful, and generally show up most fanzine book-reviewing for the half-witted nonsense it almost invariably is.

 

TITAN 2 from Geoff Rippington, 15 Queens Avenue, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 SAY

Now hereís one to really take you back. I donít know where itís likely to take you, but it sure as shit takes me back some eight or nine years to a time when I was even less sensible than I am now. Back, in fact, to a time when Iíd just about heard of fanzine fandom and was busily preparing to issue my first fanzine. Called, if I recall correctly NEW PEMBROKESHIRE REVIEW (or was that another, later project?) it was going to be really good. Going to have fiction, book reviews, poetry, articles about really fascinating things Iíd been reading about in the Ďqualityí Sundays or in the back shelves of the local library, and was going to be an all-round sensible and mind-improving little magazine. The general tone of it could, I suppose, be summed up by the tone of hurt and-regretful (at othersí folly) chiding at the established fans of the day for their sneering attitude towards fiction published in fanzines. The artwork was going to be pretty good too; I was pretty sure that I could get that rather pleasant-sounding Mr Jeeves to do me a  cover and a few interior illustrations.

Well, let's not go too far into that sort of thing  - and anyway I want to write it up for a main article one day  - Ďcause Iím sure most of you can remember your first proposed fanzine. Usually the one you planned hard on for months but never actually came out, and anyway by then youíd sort of figured this might not quite be what itís all for anyway. What I'm laboriously underlining here is that TITAN, for all its good intentions falls irrevocably into the trap of being the archetypal crudzine as defined by Peter Roberts and paraphrased by myself in the review of EGG. Jam-packed with silliness and almost entirely lacking in any sense of editorial presence at all; whilst it is easy to comprehend why it was produced it is hard to see exactly what the editor gets out of it.

The contents are, in a word, tedious. An abyssmally bad piece of fiction that sacrifices meaning for mood and achieves nothing; some poetry which will be an acute embarrassment to its writers when they grow up, a piece on self-contained living under the heading of ĎControversyí which provides the only laugh of the issue by stating, without any apparent sense of self-satire, after a pointlessly brief resume of facts in not much more that 200 words that "it is, of course, much more complicated than this..". Well, astonishing, and real news to those totally out of touch with popular science. Actually this is a very funny article. He claims, straight-faced, that if you keep goats, sheep or cattle, then youíve got the clothing problem solved, just like that. Of course, itís more complicated than that. Of course. I goggle.

Onwards. Fanzine reviews are short, and it seems determined to operate on the principle of Iíll scratch your back in the hope that youíll scratch mine. Not much discrimination exercised here. Thereís an interminably long resume of the novels of a science fiction writer called A.E.Van Vogt, who seems a rather dull fellow determined to invent impossible characters in incredible situations doing unbelieveable things. The level of criticism here does not go much beyond plot-summary, and whilst the writer may claim this is all he intended to do I would want to press the inquiry further and ask ĎWhy?'. I would also like to know why this fanzine publishes long lists of forthcoming books complete with the original publishers blurbs. Not that a forthcoming books list is in itself daft, but.... I dunno.

Well. Obviously I can see why this fanzine is like it is. Itís pretty much the sort of thing most new fans think is exactly IT when they contemplate pubbing their first ish (as we say in the vernacular). And in its own way itís the sort of sf oriented fanzine Iíd have liked to see when I first entered fandom. There is a definate need for such a thing in this day and age, though TITAN, with a generally unenthusiastic, thought-less, unimaginative aura to it is hardly likely to fill this gap.

Myself, I was lucky. When I was planning this sort of fanzine there were things like SPECULATION about, and I soon realised that enthusiasm was not enough.

And Mr Rippington, please discover soon that Terry Jeevesí awful illustrations are not better than nothing.

 

ATROPOS 2 from David Cockfield, 31 Durham Court, Hebburn, Tyne & Wear, NE31 IJX

This is a new fanzine from a recent attachment to the Gannet group, and like many new fannish fanzine editors David C. has a rather irritatingly familiar way of identifying himself with fandom. Still, we all did it once and itís nasty of me to carp, and no doubt itíll wear off soon, though Peter Presford is still doing it after four years or so and it narks me just as much. Oh well.

Anyway, its a sturdy damned thing, quite well into fannish fandom, and certainly a lot more promising than uninventive fare like TITAN, though just as bad in its own little ways. The worst thing by several halves is Cockfieldís alarming lack of faith and confidence in his own material. So little does he have that he seems to insert an apology for bad/boring writing or subject matter every couple of paras. Insecurity is one thing, but Iíd like to think Cockfield posessed of the same self -critical faculty as the rest of us and so Iím tempted to say that if he thought it was as fucking boring as all that why does he plague us with it. See the remarks on crudzinee in the EGG review yet again.

Beneath this heavy lack of faith merely average material becomes mediocre and tedious. Some trip reports stagger and fall under a welter of ĎGot up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my headí trivial detail. A propagandist article on Rosicrucianism could as well be a fourth-form essay for all the command of language and thinking it manifests. And Christ, havenít we all been reading fanzines for years just waiting for an article like this to tell us all, about Rosicrucianism? Much nicer than going to an encyclopaedia to look it up for yourself. It is an essential folly to assume that the generally hyper-intelligent individuals that make up sci-fi fandom need to obtain this sort of information from fanzines; anyone with any interest at all can discover what they want to know much better elsewhere.

ATROPOS has its ration of fiction, though as itís a fannish fanzine itís not serious and pretentious but humourous. At least that is the contention of the two ( count Ďem, two!) individuals who laboured, no doubt with sweat rivering from their brows, to produce the example herein. More likely though it was devised around a bottle of Newcastle Brown and reads like it. Itís a continual wonder to me how an editor can stencil such unfunny material without an apparent qualm.

One redeeming quality is the news section. Dave Cockfield seems to have a knack for assembling diverse information on sf related topics into an interesting and readable column which might not be out of place in a better fanzine.

He does not, though, have a knack for book reviews. The eight or so pages herein are pretty awful as all fanzine book reviewing usually is. Theseare straightforward reviews  - little more than plot-summaries - of pretty uninteresting junk-sf books that make no worth-while points at all, and are in fact as shallow and worthless as most of the books reviewed. Now, I see why these things are included. I realise that they are supposedly of interest to all sf fans. But for Christís sake if people must put book reviews into fanzines canít they choose material they have a particular fascination with, or concern for, or at least something they can make an interesting comment on. And not just sf either; the bulk of sf is dull as ditchwater at the best of times and the comments of the average reviewer make them seem perilously close to terminal cretinacy.

I dunno. Virtually every fanzine starts crummy; some drop solid dead, some have it in them to continue in one form or another and gain an interested audience. What qualities those survivors possess are not easy to grasp. Is it merely persistence, dogged effort that brings improvement; or is it subtle flashes of personality, innate brilliance that soon captures the very essence of what a good, readable surviving fanzine is all about and presents it with strong definition and boldness? Huhm? Are merely average writers, saying average things, ever going to get anywhere no matter how long, how long Oh Lord, they try? What is it with these quite reasonable people who really like the whole notion of Ďpubbing their own ishí and displaying their personalities and enthusiasms to their associates but who really canít do it particularly well? God, itís sort of frightening really. Just how much fannish effort is expended on that level? How little of it is genuinely worthwhile? Or is it all worthwhile because itís in a fanzine and itís whoever just doing what he does do best?

No, it seems obvious to me that there is, available for all to see, good fanzine material that sets a certain standard in writing and creativity. Is it too much to expect that prospective fanzine editors should pay heed to this and try to meet it? Whenever I contemplate publishing a fanzine I spend a long time agonizing over whether in fact I have anything worthvhilie to put across, and even if I have am I capable of putting it across in any kind of sensible or entertaining manner. Not just go blindly ahead and produce a fanzine just for the sheer hell of it, which is what so many new fans seem to do. And it isnít just David Cockfield (who is probably doing his best with limited experience and in difficult circumstances - a Ďfamousí fanzine-producing group) or Geoff Rippington (who displays such naivete heís almost admirable) that Iím pointing at here, but all those, old and new fans alike  - Howard Rosenblum, as old a fan as you can get is virtually the archetype - who consistently produce fanzines on this low level of achievement. Christ, I should know, Iíve done it myself at least once, though hopefŁlly never again.

Well, hell, this sort of thinking, bringing as it does the  whole idea of fanzine publishing into question, makes me feel sick and close to panic. Letís have a bit of reader-reaction on this problem; whatís YOUR motivation, why do YOU put out a fanzine? And think, is it by any stretch of your imagination the sort of thing youíd say was crap if Little Jimmy Fan sent it to you? Ahhhh, ATROPOS will make it okay I expect, it wonít be just inconsequential, grey, and uncommitted forever. Likely as not Dave Cockfield will become the Peter Roberts of the 1980ís, and will very likely piss on me from a very great height even before then.

 

INVERTED EAR TRUMPET 5 from Richard McMahon, 287 South Lane, New Malden, Surrey KT3 5RR

Now then, if TITAN is almost the archetypal gosh-wow crudzine, and ATROPOS, although determinedly fannish, is a bit of a non-event, this fanzine with the extravagant and self-consciously bizarre name is the one most likely to succeed, the fast and punchy one with the aura of potential greatness. Itís not impossible that this could become one of the most looked-forward to fanzines on the British scene. This may seem far -fetched, but the reasoning is fairly clear if one looks back to fanzines that have had that said about them before, like FOULER, or more recently, MALFUNCTION.

The most obvious similarity between the three is a sort of irredeemable shoddiness of production, manifested here by abyssmally awful typing, spotty, almost unreadable duplicating, and a general disinterest in layout. But thatís no big deal; if seediness and illegibility were the main criteria for a successful fanzine weíd all be eagerly watching the mailman for VIRIDIANA 42 right about now. The vital interlocking point of these fanzines is that each had (has) a definate and obtrusive editorial presence, a driving force that by virtue of sheer self-rightousness, monomania, and contentiousness gives the whole fanzine a vitality without which it would just be so much crudnuffin.

Anyway, before we consider what qualities Richard McMahon has that could make him the fastest rising star in British fanwriting since Gregory Pickersgill we must glance casually over the rest of the fanzine. In fact the only non-editorial piece (other than a few LoCs) is  another Graham Poole news and comment column. He do what he do do best, mainly on sf films, and only in an aside on Ďsf musicí sounds a little foolish. There seems to me something classically inane about even considering whether music is Ďsfí oriented or not, a sort of maniacal determination to lump all things into the sf fold that hints at a horrible monomania. These crazy notions could kill your credibility Pooley, even before the over-exposure youíre coming close to does. Myself, Iíll stick with Gary Glitter, anyway.

The rest of the fanzine belongs to McMahon,who certainly stamps it with his personality. Indeed, not since Peter Presford have I seen such a potential wild irreverence, such a possible capability for tilting at fannish windmills irrespective of the rights, wrongs, facts or fictions of the issues concerned  - and, damnitall, genuine evidence of a true interest in fandom and some concern for its future. All this coupled to what seems a strong personality which will not let its wearer hesitate to make a fool of himself over what he asumes are his principles.

And heís not gonna do anything by halves either. Like for example his decision to publish small-ads. Not that any are published, mind you, their place being taken by a long rambling announcement (a whole side of A4, in fact) to the effect that he intends to publish small-ads in the next issue. The whole thing is phrased with such a myriad of hedges and conditions it sounds more like heís offering cultural aid to the Soviet Union than publish notices from people like Malcolm Edwards anxious to complete their set of ARDEES or whatever. If the whole thing wasnít so damned funny and obviously meant to be a piss-take (though of what Iím unsure) Iíd say the kid was off his nut.

This sort of endearing monomania extends to the editorial proper, the bulk of which is a tirade against obscenity in fanzines, with particular reference to Graham Charnockís VIBRATOR, about which McMahon says ďis the basest, most worthless I have recieved...Graham has obviously gone to a lot of trouble to pick the most vulgar language where it is least needed.Ē Well, speaking as someone who caused a bit of an uproar some years back by saying Ďfuckí in a fanzine, Iíd say Richard is here showing a somewhat naive and juvenile preoccupation with superficiality, his rather conservative and pompous attitude persuading him to believe Ďobscenityí is either clear evidence of mental deficiency or a subversive attempt to demean fannish standards and credibility. Quite how he can justify pitting either of these assumptions against the producer of one of the best-written and most alive fanzines today I donít know but Iíd say that as soon as he realises Charnock is not being disgusting for its own sake but writing in a direct, colorful, and idiomatic manner that is quite beyond most other fanwriters Richard McMahon will be able to gain a great deal of pleasure from material which his constricting sense of propriety has thus far denied him.

Perhaps, though, Iím being unduly hard. Maybe Richard has ideas about the elevated status and possibilities of fanzine writing and doesnít like to see it contaminated by the jargon of the streets. Though if that is his notion I'd  prefer to see him go about it in some better way than a witch-hunt agianst harmless - and in the case of VIBRATOR, almost undetectable - Ďobscenitiesí.

Probably itís just because itís a third issue, but this fanzine certainly brims with fannish. involvement; the fanzine reviews display some sense, and the letters are actually about something, though McMahon has yet to learn how to dialog with Loccers in an unobtrusive and distinct manner. This one could make it.

 

K 2 from Dave Rowe & Bernie Peek, 8 Park Drive, Wickford, Essex, SSI2 9D11

Now this one gives me the puking shits, itís so good. Not only is it good, but itís effectively almost beaten me at my own game even before I entered the field, being mostly a collection of (editorially at least) good material from good writers and presenting it in a clear format. In fact this fanzine is amazingly good, considering it emanates from whom it does, and that the first issue (barely a month ago) was rather undistinguished apart from Jim Linwoodís fanzine reviews.

In this issue Bernie Peek, responsible for some tedious editorialism in K1 is reduced to a single back page, and the gormless meanderings of such as Coral Clarke are replaced by a startlingly varied selection of material from an immigration of foreign fans and Dave Langford, who could well be foreign as far as Iím concerned. Still star of the issue though is Jim Linwood, whose fanzine reviews get ever more caustic with each appearance. These reviews, much longer than one short paragraph, are interesting, witty, literate, have depth of perception and are almost invarably dead accurate. I say Ďalmostí because of what seem like a couple of snideries aimed in my direction, which Iím quite sure Uncle Jim, Master Fanzine Reviewer and doyen of such as I, would not have included had he thought more than twice. And if that sounds like buttering-up bullshit youíre dead right, because J.L. is the person I would choose as hitman should I want my fanzine assassinated. With one fell swoop, indeed. Yassuh boss.

Iíve rarely had good to say about David Rowe, so it, pains me somewhat to say heís actually writing like a human being here, and rather well too. Gone is the sincere, well-meaning, convoluted incompetence of yore, replaced by a certain clarity of expression and readiness to be nasty that as yet looks strange on the Mr Clean of fandom. Quite a lot of what he says, on fannish subjects, is fairly reasonable, though I can't lose my image of him as an incorrigible bright-eyed and brainless leaper-to-conclusions. Anyway, quite a lot of the things he says about the rules and principles of the NOVA Award carry weight, but his slights to last yearís Award Committee (carried over here from a more determined onslaught last issue) irritate me deeply and make me wish I could be on this yearís panel to lock horns with this ambitious young stud. I must say now that I completely fail to agree with his implied approval of a ĎNo Awardí vote. Even in a year of general mediocrity - like the first year of the Award when SPECULATION won - one fanzine is bound to stand out from the rest, and I believe in giving the award to something, anything (almost) for the sake of continuity, pour encourage les autres, and as a simple jog to the memory of the con-going non-fans that there are people who take this fandom business a bit seriously. And there are no self-contradictions in that statement; to prevent vicious cretins like Dave Rowe from misinterpreting me Iíll state plainly that all fanzines which won the award whilst I was on the judging committee were eminently worthy winners, though not necessarily ones I personally approve of. On another point, despite assertations to the contrary, the last panel of which I was a member did not recieve at any time during a long and tortuous argument, any indication that the rules would accept the award being given for a yearís run rather than a single issue. Believe me, I was working hard to give the Nova to SHREW, which I see as a real fanzine, rather than to MAYA, which strikes me often as barely removed from Sunday Supplement slickness, and if I couldíve seen a way to give the Award to a run (making SHREW the winner) I would have done.

I trust that when Rowe serves on the committee this year all will be more clear cut, and he will not be party to a conclusion that gives people reason to call him Ďdespicableí or Ďhypocriticalí and thus engender in him a desire to smash his accusers squarely in the groin with a large club.

At least, David, you do incite comment, which is the task of a good fanwriter/editor, and I only wish I could overcome apathy to reply to you at even more tedious length.

The rest of the fanzine; Mike Glyerís Ďfunnyí article on fanzine pagination is contrived and silly, and at any rate redundant compared to THE DENUMERABLE FANZINE, a Rob Johnson article on the same subject in an age-old Bristolian fanzine. Ben Indick writes a damned fine article on the part fantasy (in particular L. Frank Baum) has played in his life. Jodie Offutt writes like a Swinging Sixties refugee about various American convention-going fans, and makes them sound like the sort of ostentatious extroverts that always embarrass me at conventions. Dave Locke writes well but inconsequentially about his cat. Dave Langford, the British invasion, contributes an amusing and illuminating article about that most curious of British fannish institutions the PIERIA Writers Circle, a gang of aspiring pros whose sole purpose in life often seems to be persuading Rob Holdstock to edit an original anthology of their otherwise unsaleable science fiction stories. Mae Strelkov writes the sort of article which is doubtless loved a great deal by other people than I.

All these articles are interspaced by related comments from Dave Rowe, something he does well enough to make me feel glad Iíd forgotten my intention to do the same thing in this fanzine. In one of these lies a remarkably vicious attack on John HaIl (an old-time fan) who dared suggest that fandom is not the sweetness and light wonderland Rowe seems to believe it to be. As Iím inclined to agree with Mr Hall I must say that in executing his demolition of Mr Hall Rowe makes himself sound even more of a head-in-the-clouds daydreamer than ever. His notion, (expressed in K 1) that all save incorrigible misanthropes will be compatible simply by sharing an interest in science fiction or fandom is rather short sighted; in my experience more points of similarity are needed before anything other than superficial acquaintanceship (with all its attendant reliance on snap-judgements on character and action  - so prevalent in fandom) has even a chance to develop. A shared interest does not necessarily mean one has anything in common on anything but the most superficial level. Anyway, a damned good and mature fanzine, one that Iíll look forward to. You have no idea how much saying that hurts me.

 

MOTA 13 - from Terry Hughes, 66 N. Frederick, Arlington, VA 22205, USA

This is a real departure for me; never before have I reviewed an American fanzine, and truthfully I donít know whether Iím actually doing so now as MOTA is so good I wish it was British. And it has a British feel to it to. In fact itís the fannish fanzine par excellance, and itís easy to see how Terry and Peter Roberts have formed a mutual admiration society.

Quite apart from this being a good fanzine, Terry Hughes deserves a mention here for an almost unbelieveable reason. What it is is that this man, this virtual saint amongst fen, has been faithfully sending me his fanzine, issue after issue from number 1, for almost five years, and never once have I so much as acknowledged receipt of it, much less written a LoC, sent a contribution, even a fanzine in trade. This, in a world where the Skeltons, Rowes, and even Pickersgills give the Finger to non-responsive individuals at the least opportunity. It is truly wonderful. Such faith the man has, what have I done to deserve it? Well, at least heís getting this fanzine airmail, and a bundle of other old fanzines of mine will reach him by boat one day, and Iím even working on a contrib.

The fanzine itself looks perfect, airy, open, consummately fannish in layout and illustrations in a way communicable only by itself. Itís also short, only l0pp, but such is the quality of the material that it reads long. Hughes writes excellently, as his phone-call tale here testifies, and he generally extracts fine material and locs from his readers. This issue, though, has a weak inclusion, a contrived and unfunny Ďhumourousí essay on Ďsleazy humourí by Paul di Filippo which doesnít succeed on any level. Eric Bentcliffe has a good piece on the Ďtapesponding' and Ďtape-dramaí that flourished briefly in British fandom in the Fifties, and the letter-column is excellent, containing much praise for the SUPERB James White evocation of long-gone Irish Fandom that appeared in the previous issue.

If any fanzine, anywhere, could ever assume the treasured mantle of I.F. and HYPHEN, I reckon Terry Hughes (perhaps in cooperation with Peter Roberts) will be behind it. Get this one.

from RITBLAT/GRIM NEWS 1 - March 1974

EYEBALL - fanzine reviews

 

OK. Old readers start here. Itís the old EYEBALL again. Richly applauded during its life,  not especially missed during its demise (where oh where was that letter from Peter Wetson saying "where oh where is that  column written intelligently and perceptively by Master fanzine reviewer Greg Pickersgill?").

Anyway,  back simply because I rather like doing fanzine reviews and don't especially want to do them full time for another fanzine even if no-one asked me to. Not that thereís a lot of need for another fanzine column these days,  what with every other fan doing a review section. And not just manky old Haverings either, but often class stuff. Piggott,  Williams and Edwards have recently added their names to Master fanzine reviewer rolls alongside oldtimers like Boak and Roberts,  so thereís not a lot of need for me. Maybe I ought to slip casually aside content to be one of the precursors of the current school of hard-faced reviewing and not issue new material to be judged unfavourably alongside current reviewers. Maybe I would if I had any sense,  but as usual ego wins in the end as it does in the best of all fanning. EYEBALL rolls.

TRUE RAT 1 ; from LEROY KETTLE,  74 Eleanor Road,  London E.8
SCAB 1 - 5 ; from JOHN BROSNAN,  Flat 1,  62 Elsham Road,  London W14

God itís a funny sensation looking at these two manifestations of Ratfan egocentricity and trying to figure something of any depth to say about them. In fact saying anything like that about either of these Ace fanzines is not only impossible but pernicious.

Actually, there's not a lot of point in discussing SCAB as so few copies actually reach fandom at large,  but it does have a lot of relevance to what has become known in local circles as The Real Idiot Debacle - the almost total and entire failure of TRUE RAT in the usual fannish terms. What happened,  you see,  to this Kettle fanzine,  the one heís been trying to get out ever since those weird days of Coventry in Ď69 and oddly titled fanzines like POTTAGE and GOLLYWOG - A MAGAZINE OF LEROY KETTLE is that of about sixty copies sent out only five letters came back. Bad scene, as we say round here. Not exactly fannish success,  especially considering heís had virtually no response in any other accepted way,  such as trades,  reviews,  or anything. Quite a lot of personal spoken comment, ok, (that's the big disadvantage of living close to your key readership) but thatís not a lot of good in the files is it.

Well, fuckit, it's easy to see why the response wasnít exactly weighting down the mailman on his drear route through the Eleanor Gardens tenements. Simply there was nothing to comment on. It was all fall-about comedy, right through, unremitting as a machinegun but not as effective, no way. In fact, itís true what Malcolm Edwards has been known to say, too much Kettle is definately too much Kettle. Thereís a time when all the histrionics ought to atop, and unfortunately, although he knows it well enuff himself, Mr Kettle never quite finds himself in a position to pull the plug. Naturally and all, I find Kettle without a doubt the most entertaining fanwriter over the whole field of fannish writing there is. There are those better at specific things, but his is a multiplicity of little talents rather than one large one. I found this fanzine totally readable, the events realisticallydepicted (Kettle being one of the few fans with the Touch of fanwriting, the ability to describe actual events with a realistic tinge of fantasy that makes them and the characters both genuine and larger than life) and the whole thing a general delite to the world. The fragment-of-the-longest-con-report-ever-written was Just Like It Really Happened (to all intents and purposes) as was the Ratfandom party report. The satire on fannish poetic endeavour quite staggering in its accuracy of style and intent and needle-sharp in its characterization of fannish poets from Ritchie Smith to Charles Platt. The "Truconfessions" of Lisa Conesa showed the results of many hours spent trying to set up a hackwork factory in emulation of such literary giants as Christopher M Priest and Graham Charnock. And so and so and so on and on and on.

Which brings us to the problem of what you can say about a fanzine like this, other than "far out, innit funny". Perceptive readers will have noticed this problem already has the present Master reviewer in its grip, and will also be the first to loudly shout "Fuck all". And more or less theyíre right, and honestly, whoís gonna bring out a sixteen page fanzine for five LoCs?

Which is SCABís big deal, as itís a crummy (though in fact not usually as crummy as TRUE RAT in production) four pager entirely obsessed with Ratfandom and other London phenomenons as seen by John Brosnan. Funny as hell, and most of it true. Itís advantage is it can be knocked out with no effort and little money; and get one exactly the same level of praise as that accorded a larger, similar, device. Which isnít to say Brosnan is generally as funny a writer as Kettle; over the short haul maybe, but in the longer material he tends to get a little loose, and has something of a tendency towards irrelevant nastiness.

However,  more or less factual. SCAB clocks out roughly monthly, and since the last TRUE RAT in September Ď73 thereís been little hope of a new one. Pity, really. And what more can you say?

 

MAGIC PUDDING 1; from MALCOLM EDWARDS,  19 Ranmoor Gardens, Harrow,  Middlesex HAl IUQ

Now, this is Class, kids. This is Class. A fine and near perfect example of the almost lost art of the personalzine from someone who many people thought was nothing more than a sf creep hanging round with big name pros in order to get himself big-deal assignments writing asshole blurbs for Gollancz sf potboilers and £40 checks for scurfing up fanzine reviews for the execrable SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY. But be big brothers, put all that aside and see that this manís a real fan - as if we didnít know from his superbly fannish-tinged editorials in VECTOR and (wayback) Good Old QUICKSILVER.

Produced as a means to egoboo this works splendidly, bringing in virtually every facet of Malís life; home, fannish, sf fan, convention committee member. Beautifully written, very fluid, conversational without being colloquial, almost the written manifestation of a pseudy little sanctimonious bourgeois with a house in the country a dog and a wife (loving). But, honest kids, heís a real Buddy and a great writer to boot.

Simply, I find it incredible that someone can range over such a varied collection of subjects and treat them all with respect (or, more to the point, with such a finely judged aportioning of respect) and endow them with such interest as Malcolm does. Musings on records, fanning, conventions, sloshing boiling water on heaps of festering maggots, and Peter Presford are all made to spring alive and vibrant by Malís scintillating Olivetti 32. Having seen many examples of the Ďartí of the personalzine I can assure you this is head and shoulders above the bulk of them, and is substantially better than virtually all fanwriting in this country at present. Nothing more than limitation of subject stands between Malcolm and the highest accolades of fanwriting. No shit, this is a fluency of expression rarely seen in these sub-literate days. This is an incisiveness - amply demonstrated here in Malcolmís fanzine criticism which has all the depth of consideration he accords to his Ďreal writingí about Ďliteratureí -  that puts most fannish work to shame as cack-handed muddle-headed drivel. Itís a testament to my own inability that I can't - as Malcolm would be able to - extract samples or otherwise demonstrate the truth of my claims. All there is to say is try to get hold of a copy of this, though there arenít many about. If you do youíre a lucky man,  and if you donít youíve missed some of the best fanwriting of 1973.

 

CYNIC 6 ; from GRAHAM BOAK,  6 Hawks Road, Kingston-upon-Thames,  Surrey IKT 3EG

Kids, Iíd lately begun to worry about Mr Boak. Iíd begun to see him take on the mantle of an old and tired man, rapidly receding into premature middle-age with all the stultification of thought word and deed that that portends for the average fan. Indeed, in personal confrontations Iíd been more than a little impatient with him, tending more and more to discard him without thinking; reacting, like, without any original action other than suspicion of decay. But I were wrong indeed, and was proven so by the old Superfan hisself who quietly and without fuss produced this, easily and breathtakingly the best all-round fanzine of 1973.

Actually, Iíd been so put-off by Boak I greeted this with no enthusiasm after its year-long non-appearance, and only a hint by Peter Roberts that I was talked of inside brought me to cracking its pages  Inside was a fine fanzine, entirely to the point, totally readable from cover to cover as a unit, free from the superfluous and superficial bullshit saddling down the only two other fanzines with any claims to excellence in Ď73 - BLUNT & ZIMRI.

The only bad thing is the cover, a Dave Rowe atrocity. As usual he seems to be consciously striving after an original and distinctive style, and, almost as usual, succeeding in nothing more than hard-edged drawings almost robotic in execution as well as aspect. A terrible cover for such a fine fanzine, and a regrettable lapse of taste by Boak who seemed to let such trivia as Silly Animal fandom cloud his otherwise sound editorial taste.

The only real article within is Jim Linwoodís piece on the NOVA Award, and indeed FOULER arch-enemy Linwood does a fine resume of the meaning and mechanism of the award, as well as doing a fine question and answer piece on the more contentious aspects of it,  More or less he convinces me that the award as it stands is valid and workable, and I was previously one of its greatest opponents in its present form. Iíd still like to see it expanded to cover individual facets of fannish achievement, such as Best Writer, Artist, etc, but Iím not unwilling to concede that that may be somewhat unwieldy. Though something like the CHECKPOINT Fan Poll should be conducted on a larger and more exhaustive scale.

The bulk of the fanzine is Boakís own writing. Whilst he hasnít quite got the actual Creative Spark of Malcolm Edwards heís without a doubt the best writer when talking about fans, fanning, and fandom itself. Maybe itís because fandom seems to be something more than a transient phase with Boak (as it appears to be with Ian Williams) or merely an interesting adjunct to his main sphere of interest (as it seems with Edwards), but to Boak itís the Real Thing. Something more than rubbish, definately. Iíve lost count of the number of telling and practical points made by Boak in these pages; all of them about fans and fandom, no wandering or irrelevance. Level, controlled, literate, no great excess of style or emotion or lunacy, all solid taking care of business. It's a great thing to see a man take his fanning seriously.

And the remainder, of course, is the letter column. Oddly controlled by fringefans, but easy and interesting for all that. Like Boakís writing thereís no excess of anything, but it somehow doesnít demean this fanzine into bland tedium the way it would EGG for instance. There are some fanzines which by simple virtue of their total commitment can make off with the laurels without any spectacle or flourishing. All this fanzine lacks is frequency.

SIDDHARTHA 3 ; from IAN WILLIAMS, 6 Greta Terrace, Chester Road, Sunderland, Co. Durham SRL4. 7RD

Thereís something bloody repellent about this fanzine. Maybe itís because the little cunt had the gall to write ďThis is the last ish youíll get unless you do something that impinges on my fan lifeĒ on the copy he finally got round to sending me, or whether the format of this magazine (this one, dolts!) has set me up in unwanted competition with SIDDHARTHA, but thereís something I donít entirely like going on here.

No doubt, Williams is a good writer. I mean, heís won the CHECKPOINT Fan Poll and all that. Fluent, he expresses himself well and precisely. Heís sincere, meaningful, soul-searching, introspective, outgoing, even kind of fannish sometimes. But fuck it, I think this is a lot of conceited bullshit and it all truth it pisses me off more than somewhat. It's like watching someone flashing his cock in a sort of Ďlooka me I can show everybody somethingí spate, and shit, so what if it is longer than everyone elseís,  the whole thing has been a bit ludicrous and probably embarrassing also.

All this is too sincere, meaningful, honest , and all that. Itís like some kind of intellectual game, some crummy fucking mental purge trip . A little game of playing fannish and being John the Revelator and being honest (man) and all that shit and I begin to wonder.

OK. Iím fully aware that once you start to look askance at the Ďpersonalí style of fanning all kinds of doubts and shames are going to be dragged out. How should anyone be expected to take what Iím writing in this fanzine seriously if they canít also be reasonably expected to accord much the same open eyes to SIDDHARTHA? Why should they care? This is a line of thinking which, if taken too far,  would throw the whole concept of fanning right away, so Iíll not pursue too closely, but instead try to see what it is about this particular aspect of fanwriting there is that turns me off.

And, of course, in my simple little fashion all I can contribute is what Iíve already said. That Williams is too blatant about everything. Not necessarily over-emotional, more to the point 'cold and clinicalí about his formal over emotionality. This writing isnít rubbish; itís got all the components of good fannish work - personality, involvement, references to well-known people and events and things, everything you need - but itís all kind of mechanical. Which is the absolute kiss of death for anything like a personalzine, which is what this aspires to be.

Christ, I dunno. This is all perfectly readable when you shut your brain off, but I always come away with the feeling that Iíve somehow been trapped into watching someone masturbating. All I can say is that I hope this feeling isnít envy. I really do.

MALFUNCTION 4  - MADCAP 3 both from PETER PRESFOPD, 10 Dalkeith Road, South Reddish,  Stockport,  SK5 7EY

Ya know kids, itís a hard thing to admit that there might be an up and coming fanzine which can take over the essential mantle of FOULER and maybe even become a kind of focal point of fandom - but itís an even harder thing to do when the editor of this likely fanzine must be revealed as one Peter B. Presford, hitherto known only as the True Illiterate of Fandom (since the departure of Ken Eadie and Audrey Walton at least) and also the publisher of the fanzine with the most misplaced sense of literature and culture this side of VIRIDIANA. However, much as PEP may be sneered at for his sad lack of the fundamentals of written English and his pitiable faith in Ďpoetryí that lacks even the risible qualities of the output of William MacGonagle, he is to all intents and purposes producing a fanzine which just about could become a major fannish force. Despite the fact he claims it to be a repository for all the Ďcrudí MADCAP is too good to print MALFUNCTION is in fact one of the more entertaining and alive British fanzines. Not at all the best, as Presfordís total lack of critical faculties allows far too many sillinesses, patently outplayed jests, flat Ďquips' and outright cretinacy to creep in unstopped. But, and this is it, moving through the shit youíll find a real irreverence, a wild capability for tilting at various fannish windmills - irrespective of the rights, wrongs, facts or fictions of whatever the issue is - and, damnitall, genuine evidence of true interest in fandom and some concern as to its future.

Seriously, fokes. I read this fanzine eight or ten times right through when I first got it. I admit it was a pretty boring afternoon at work, but shit, Iíve gone through it many times since and itís still a nice one. I havenít seen such potential in years, and I can hardly wait to see how Presford goes about wasting it.. Either heíll sink all his time and energy into the miserable MADCAP, or heíll get the wrong end of reality and carry on with his present "crud for crudís sake" tack.

The hell of it is that the rest of fandom isnít quite in the mood to take up this interesting challenge. People are too ready to dismiss Presford as a harmless dolt and his fanzine as irrelevant bin-lining. LoCs are a rare event in MALFUNCTION,  and actual articles by anyone other than the prime perpetrator are as rare as free cunts at a con. Pity.

Anyway, maybe he doesnít want to be the editor of the FOULER of the midseventies - and I for one wouldnít blame him if he declined that doubtful privelege. Maybe there isnít a need for one - though it seems to me that in a remarkably short time this Ďnew revived refurbished and revolutionary' fandom of ours has erected a startling number of its own idols, which to my mind have more or less the same proportion of clay as any that recent attempts were made to remove. Most fanzines these days seem to have a place in them where fandom is looked at askance, and people today seem to have greater readiness to be nasty in just cause than in previous times. So all that taken for granted there might not be any reason for a solitary stonefisted attempt to crack whatever facades fandom erects. In all truth I d love to see one, though, but for warped and twisted reasons (permutations of things in this paragraph) most fans donít seem to want to get behind it in the way they did those many years ago with FOULER. Not that thatíll stop Presford if he wants to do it, as any man whoíll carry on MADCAP in the face of such overwhelming scorn can do anything.

Ah, MADCAP. A horrific fanzine. All the stupid pretensions of  ISEULT, WADEZINE, FREE ORBIT, VIRIDIANA, MACROCOSM,  and every other Ďliteraryí fanzine youíve ever seen all bodged into one icky mass, presided over by a pair of lackwits, at least one of whom is old enough not to be so idealistic.

I find it hard to believe that Presford and Peter Colley (coeditor of this rubbish) believe they have the right to continue publishing this shit. Damnit, itís one thing to think youíre a poet, every sensitive little punk thinks that sometime, but at least try to get some sense of quality or self-criticism before smearing your work all over the fanzine. Jesus Christ, how many fans give a good goddam about poetry anyway, and how many of them want to see it in fanzines.

Not that this is totally a poetry mag; just that Presfordís staunch defence of his rights to publish it - he almost makes it sound as though heís providing a public service by printing the stuff, whilst in fact the service would be best provided by rejecting it - colours the whole thing. Fiction fanzines are good when handled right; MACROCOSM was more or less excellent (MADCAP does share in some measure MACís good appearance) for being edited like a prozine; but it seems that for MADCAP the only criterion is naive faith and conviction and starry-eyed aspiration, and silly old things like sense, good writing, perception and originality play no part at all.

Put it this way; all the poetry is derivative, shallow, simple in treatment, the language obvious, the effect odious; all the fiction is short, pointless, unfunny, unoriginal. The same fanzine stories youíve read a hundred times before. The articles and book reviews and record reviews are as boring and monotonous as all articles which arenít based on personal experience and offer something other than that which can be readily found in any printed text always are,  Aw fuck it, Presford. Pack it in.

from FOULER 4 - December 1970

EYEBALL - fanzine reviews

 

As expected, fanzines haven't exactly been flooding into this corner of barbaria. Anyone would think that no-one wanted their magazines reviewed here, or something aimless like that. Maybe it's just slipped your minds or something.   I'm sure all you great and truly wonderful people out there who edit fanzines would be pleased and honored to send in your magazines, if not for review, then for the knowledge of the little thrills of pleasure we'd get from every line. Yes, must have slipped your minds. Make a note now, underlined three times in brightest red ink. (You too Darroell baby). Done it? Great people. Knew you would. Fans all the way through.

Before progressing, a brief statement of intent. We want to review every British fanzine, in some semblance of detail and. with a high degree of honesty . To our knowledge no-one else is doing this, and no matter how inept you may find our efforts,theyíre better than nothing.

THE WIREY GUMBOOT THAT WASNíT ON QUITE STRAIGHT : AN EXERCISE IN  ANTI-HELL PART ONE. from Steve Carrigan, 158 Sutton Common Road, Sutton, Surrey. 2pp Free for the asking.

Iím almost afraid to say anything at all about this tiny pamphlet, because sure as shit someone will feel the need to accuse me of being deliberately nasty. However, not being one to suffer barbs and pillories of outrageous nonentities I shall proceed undaunted.  

Its a bit of a pity, this thing. Like VIRIDIANA (reviewed last month) and, I suppose, FOULER, itís merely an attempt to attract attention without actually saying anything of consequence. Its mostly imitative of PRIVATE EYE (a character called Peter Pressdram- Strobes, for christs sake),with jokes about E. Heath, Princess Margaret, the Pope, all the usual EYE targets. And. all, treated with a lack of eptitude that even the EYE itself rarely descends to of late. There's even one item which reads suspiciously like a direct reprint of an EYE notice, but I haven't checked. Still. What else? Some purple prose that shades rapidly right off into the ultra-violent, to coin a sterling old cliche, the word pseud repeated ten times for no apparent effect, some pseudo- philosophy, and a lack ofí applied intellect.

Its neither use nor ornament, this crap. Neither funny nor serious, informative or honestly, originally comic. Its nothing, merely words for words sake. I canít help wondering just what he expected to gain from issuing this.

Still, I imagine that once he'd got over the shock of puberty heíll produce something of real worth.

 

WADEZINE 7 from AUDREY WALTON, 25 Yeedale Crescent, Coventry, Warwickshire CV 2FY Contribution, trade, LoC.  20pp foolscap.

WADEZINE is a pretty bad fanzine. Not only is the presentation of a very low standard, but the material is as bad if not worse. Itís never published anything of lasting interest, and I venture to say that it never will (No, I tell a lie, there was a good LoC from Bryn Fortey about three issues back), and that is possibly its only real saving grace -  the likelihood that it will bleed off good material from other fanzines is slight in the extreme.

Still, for all my foul words I must admit I find WADEZINE interesting (which isnít so much, all fanzines fascinate me). Take this issue. The art, as usual, is quite reasonable. Audrey Walton has a weird style Iíve never seen the like of before, and whilst it isnít quite in the Vaughn Bode class I like it. Thereís an appalling story by Gayle Wade. That man who kills off the rest of the world gets his usual paranoid fantasy all over again. A remarkably bad Ďpoemí by Kjell Borgstrom,whioh doubtless suffers from translation into English, but as I recall Swedish is one of those languages unsuited to poetic use, so it may well have been lousy to start with. Itís merely a short prose fantasy broken down to look like a poem. An article by one Gerald Taylor on the BSFA Tape Unit, which  shouldnít be in this magazine at all.Material like this should be in a ďLesser VECTORí, but the likelihood of that ever appearing recedes with great rapidity. The usual BSFA lethargy at work. The last article per se in this issue is a competent precis of some aspects of Norse Mythology. This isnít at all bad. Best thing in the issue, in fact.

The letters, as might be expected, are not exactly fascinating. The correspondents are so restrained itís almost tangible.

Still, itís just inoffensively bad. Audrey probably enjoys doing it, and I rather enjoy reading it for a few minutes.

 

SCOTTISHE 56  from ETHEL LINDSAY,6 Langley Avenue,Surbiton,Surrey.  3/- per copy, trade, Loc.

SCOT. as has been said by better men than I, is definately an acquired taste. One which I hadnít acquired from the half-dozen or so issues Iíd seen, so I was quite surprised to find that I rather enjoyed reading this issue.

The thing that caught my attention was a rather neat article by Robert Coulson (and how often do you see names like that in British fanzines these days?). Normally Iíve no time for articles derived from history texts or encyclopedias, but this one would almost make up for all those turgid drones about Celts and unicorns if there werenít so many of them. Its a well written account of a massacre by Indians of an American army some 80 years before the Little Big Horn. Iíd never heard of this before, and it was quite a revelation. Very well written, with illustrations from a contemporary ballad.

 Another kind of article I generally detest is the one which gives potted reviews of books. Ethel has the exception to the rule here with a number of reviews of Ace pbs old and new, which I admit fascinated me, and I even re-read it several times.

The letter column is definitely the best in any British fanzine(other than SPECULATION, whioh is a different bag altogether). Minds definately working in high gear. Very interesting, and a number of points Iíd like to comment on had I the wit.

I canít say I went a bomb on Ethelís report of the Heicon. A little too serious for my taste, I think.

In fact, the only thing I can really find wrong with this is that there arenít enough ATOM illustrations.

 

BLACK KNIGHT 1 from Philip Spencer, 65 Southdown Road, Portslade, Brighton, Sussex. BN4 2HL Contribution, LoC, trade, interest. 16pp foolscap

This is an Event, no less. The first British fanzine with the avowed intention of representing the various forms of modern music (rock/blues/folk/electronic, etbloodycetera). This is definately a worthy venture, fulfilling a real need, and I applaud Philipís attempt wholeheartedly.

Though, however much Iíd like to, I find I canít praise this first issue. If I said that it was something like a balloon, a  thin layer of substance surrounding a vacant space, then I'd be being very very hard, but not too inaccurate. I shall attempt to explain, but first a word for the presentation. Itís a real return to trufan tradition, this grey ink, and whilst I donít go a bomb on spirit dupered zines this is quite competently done, with only a few illegible bits. Some nice illustrations alleviate the rather nonexistent layout.

Now, the hard part. I know in myself why this magazine is a failure, but I doubt my ability to articulate exactly why. Therefore I apologise in advance for any idiocy that Iíll commit henceforth. Taking the actual record reviews themselves, as Iíd suspected theyíre not very good. Theyíre hard things to write, I know, many people, even the greatest enthusiasts, find it difficult to express just what they do like about most forms of music. These reviews are pretty shallow for the most part, the only difference between them and the ones usually found. in the professional music weeklies is length. This at least shows that the reviewers are interested enough to make a genuine effort, but alas the effort isnít quite enough. Thereís a general air of earnest ineptitude about almost everything in the magazine, I donít doubt that the writers are sincerely interested in their subject, but they lack the elementary skill to project that interest in an arresting way. Trotting out cliches and lists of instruments played by band-members isnít exactly going to grab every rock fans attention.

Still, itís only a firstissue, Iím glad to see it, and itís comforting to know that it can only improve. But here  tho, question arises of support. Are there sufficient music fans who are vocal  enough  keep the magazine going? I wouldnít like to say either way, but I suspect not. Anyway, any fans interested in this branch of modern art have almost a duty to support this magazine.

 

PSYWAR 1 from Keith Walker, 49 Thornton Road, Childwall, Liverpool L6 for 1/6d,trade, LoC, contribution. 8 pp foolscap, 10pp quarto

 ďThe most unusual fanzine ever published,Ē it sez here, and looking at it hard Iím almost inclined to agree. The presentation is appalling. The mixture of page-sizes isnít intrinsically bad, handled correctly it could be impressive, but it certainly isnít here. The foolscap pages are dupered in i what I surmise to be dilute blood. Very dilute blood too, I can hardly read  them. The quarto pages, however, are well, if plainly, reproduced. A lot of pretty bad artwork and too much writing straight onto stencil doesnít improve the visual aspect either.

Still, this being FOULER I suppose I shouldnít carry on too long about such things. However. Its devoted to the paranormal - UFOs, cheiromancy, astrology, supernatural, things in that field, and has the intention of being the first serious fanzine in that area. Well, Iím certainly not an expert on any of those things, but it seems that Keith's writings on many of those topics herein are quite valid, and Iím prepared to accept he knows what heís doing.

This magazine, I think, falls into much the same category as BLACK KNIGHT, in that it caters for a specialised interest that demands a reasonably high degree of knowledge and involvement on the part of its readers. Without that both magazines are foredoomed.Anyhow, I'll venture to say  that PSYWAR has a greater potentiality for success than B.K., as a great number of fans have quite a large amount of interest in the paranormal. Whether theyíre articulate enough to validate the magazine is something else. I havenít seen too many PSYWAR (or, far all that BLACK KNIGHT) type articles in fanzines, and this leads me to suspect that there isnít much interest in these fields. This is, of course, based on the assumption that people with sufficient interest will have written articles for fanzines. So, how the future of these two magazines will pan out I know not. I wonder if Keith has thought to use his astrological knowledge to discover for himself

To return to the actual text, itís pretty interesting all written on a sort of general knowledge level,and doesnít demand a high degree of special knowledge to follow (Yes, I know Iíve contradicted myself, sod off) but unless PSYWAR gets away from presenting digests of routine texts and works out some original and useful material of its own then it's a dead loss. The same can be said for BLACK KNIGHT.

Still, if the paranormal is your bag, support this mag, you probably wonít learn anything new, but things may alter for the better.

 

HAVERINGS 46 from ETHEL LINDSAY address as before. 8/- for six issues.

I used to detest HAVER. Those brief and usually erroneous comments on fanzines irritated me no end. Especially when I wasnít mentioned when I appeared in a zine reviewed. Cheated, I felt. So I was more than somewhat amazed to find that this issue, the first I've seen for months, was quite informative. The comments seem less throwaway, more considered ,and sometimes give a good picture of the magazines. Still, itís no replacement for a real reviewzine (and doesnít claim to he, obviously),but is an excellent guide to current issues.

 

MAYA 1 from IAN WILLIAMS, 6 Greta Terrace, Chester Road, Sunderland, Co Durham. SR4 7RJ For  Trade, 2/.-.(6/-.  for 3), LOC. 34pp quarto

My, I thought to myself, huddled in the sweaty sheets at 8 .2O in the morning, peering at MAYA in the guttering light of a brace of clapped out Ever-Readies, this is a damn good fanzine. So I fell back into the arms of Morpheus,and in the fullness of time, at 1pm and in the blinding reality of sunlight, I looked again, and stap me if I hadnít been reasonably right first time.

This is a bloody good first issue, is what Iím trying to say  in that last pseaudo-lyrical paragraph. The best since MORFARCH ONE, in fact,and you all remember that one donít you? (?) This is without a doubt the most interesting fanzine  Iíve seen for a long time, itís packed with the most incredible things, good, bad,and plain lousy, but all very, very interesting. Itís a weird kind of cross between the Ďnormalí type of first issue, in that it has a lot of  unknowns and a lot of material by Ian himself, but itís also got a very mature feel to it, probably due to A. Graham Boakís column,and the fact that Ian has been around the fan thing for a while before, and knows where itís at.

Still, to more detailed comments. Itís a fairly smart magazine, marred only by an excess of faintness of repro and a little cramping here and there. Too many of the shorter items are seemingly carelessly bunged together, and itís too easy to get them oonfused. Thereíre a number of reasonable illos, mostly Harry Bell reprints, but one absolutely superb one of an arm flushing itself down a bog, which I shall doubtless steal for RATFANDOM badges if I can.

Anyway.

The actual contents, wordwise, are a little odd. I mean, a review of DANGEROUS VISIONS was all very well eighteen months ago, but now itís a bit of an anachronism.Still, Brian Stableford manages to say absolutely nothing new very well indeed. Similarly, Mailerís AMERICAN DREAM wasnít exactly published yesterday, but I found this a rather pleasing inclusion in a fanzine, partioularly as the review was quite exceptionally well done, although some of Ritchio Smithís conclusions seemed a bit flip and suspect to me.

Ian gets in everywhere, projecting a very reasonable image of himself as professional intellectual and part-time dwarf, and itís a bet that heís going to be a major fanwriter in a very short time. Here heís mostly concerned with Ďscience fictioní itself, and has some impossibly individual opinions to pass on. Myself, I disagree with him almost entirely, especially where he fliply puts down Philip Dick as Ďan introspective, irrelevant, boreí, and and dismisses the Jerry Cornelius stories without so much as a wasted sneer. This is nothing but crass oafishness to me ,and I had difficulty in not setting fire to the damn fanzine at those points. Still, it's all good controversial stuff (tho' Iím not suggesting deliberately so - not in so many words, anyway) and he has got a damn good article on R.A. Lafferty, a much under-exposed author, and he has realised the true worthlessness of Harlan Ellison as Fictionaliser, so thereís hope yet.

And by god thereís more. Boakís column, as youíd expect, is nauseatingly good, if typical Boak.A severe change from normal fan-politics here as the man says just what he thinks, not what he ought to, about fandom. I donít entirely agree, obviously, when he says that a fanzine with typed heads, no artwork, etc, is a cop-out, but thatís a purely personal approach. FOULER was planned in that way, the outcome of the toss up between a very flash fanzine appearing twice a year, or a neatly produced plain one once every month or so. If we at FOULER had the money to do it, we'd make it prettier, but we havenít so we donít. And Iím not saying we save any cash the way things run now, it's just that we produce more per penny than otherwise, Anyway, suffice to say that Boakís column is the best of its kind Iíve yet seen in a modern fanzine. Heís got a fine sense of fandom, coupled with a tough intelligence, and provided he doesnít sell out heíll be well worth reading. The only complain I've got about him here is that he doesnít give the good British fanzines enough boost, and gives too much to a piece of generally worthless ephemera like SEAGULL by mentioning it at all.

Whatís left is mostly smallness, both in size and significance. Newcomer Tom Penman contributes nothing much that fills some 4pp, including one of those terrible school-magazine type Ďnews reportsí -   "The new DEW-line designer is called Heimdall..Ē Wow. This is plain packing, and itís a pity Ian had to use it. (Oddly, Iíve got a quite good thing by Tom Penman upcoming in F. FIVE). Then thereís the characteristic vaguely interesting trivia from Mary Reed-Legg, which always seems to me to be manufactured rather than written; and a remarkably trite comic strip by Jim Marshall and Ian Penman ď I do not eat children, said the stone monster, I love themĒ - no its  not paedophilia. in Comicsland, unfortunately, the infant screams ďDonít love meĒ and the spurned granite-face stomps off into the ocean ď..crying for those who reject love.Ē  0 god. It's not even particularly well drawn, and has absolutely no merit whatsoever.

Which leaves, more or less, the poetry. Hmm. I was somewhat amazed to find that the one I liked best, by David Barry, was meant to be a hype. I thought it was bloody excellent, a lament in the vein of the Liverpool Poets, and it all illustrates that what, in the field of art, is hype to one is dead straight to another. (See comments on last issues UNICORN story in this HEAP, for more illustration of that.) Anyway  Ritchie Smithís offering here shows him to be a far better critic than  poet, probably because he seems, to me, too selfconsciously lyrical - especially in his verbalisations of a THIRD EAR BAND album, which vein of achievement isnít exactly the most successful at the best of times. Still, it's pretty good stuff, even if I donít particularly care for it myself. I'd just like to see more before committing myself. Ian himself shows commendable restraint (or maybe cowardice, or plain good sense) in including only one ofí his own poems. Called THE RUNNING MAN, its vaguely in the same idiom as LONDON  POEM in this magazine, and as Iím particularly susceptible to what someone (Merfyn Roberts, if I remember) called Ďmaudlin introverted selfpitying bullshití I personally found it terrific.

And that, fundamentally, is about all. Thatís a reasonable precis of the actual contents, but it canít communicate the real and particular atmosphere of MAYA, an undefinable presence which marks out the truly interesting and potentially successful fanzines out from the crap. Thereís an amazing proportion of crud to good in this issuo so the excellent overall effect can't really be analysed. Maybe itís just the sheer burning potential for the future steaming through.