Can’t Get Off the Island
- a Greg Pickersgill Collection
This web edition was prepared by Greg Pickersgill, 2007. Enquire here
Faces and Places
I was both astonished and delighted when Mark and Claire suggested they work up a collection of my fanwriting for the 2005 Worldcon. Astonished because these sort of publications can be a bizarrely dispiriting amount of effort with little or no perceptible reward and I knew they had more than enough Worldcon-related problems already; delighted because I was delightedly complimented that the two fanwriters I most enjoy and admire enormously for their planetary-class breadth of skills and qualities of writing thought it was worth their time.
I admit I had indeed prodded about for some time at the idea of a Compendium of Me with a medium-length of stick and given it up as too difficult, with no apparent audience, and not worth the time, trouble and money, but even so had been feeling guilty about not bloody getting on with it. So, a huge compliment and great relief all round—sometimes life is worth living!
As to their choices, who am I to complain? OK, I admit it, there are one or two pieces that I might not have rushed into print again myself (and I did put an embargo on yet another damned reprint of that outdated piece about fanrooms—it’s totally ignored anyway so why give it another outing?) and certainly there are a couple of others I rather wish they had chosen. Overall, though, I’m quite impressed with the selection, even if I do say so myself in a quite unaccustomed unselfcritical manner. Gosh wow, boy o boy, I found myself thinking as I read through the pieces, some of this is actually pretty good! Parts of it made me laugh even, and sometimes I found myself thinking, well, that’s really right.
As Mark and Claire proceeded with their editing task I had suggested top-and-tailing each piece with some scene-setting and annotations, notes and observations to make sense of things that might be a trifle obscure to anyone who wasn’t around way-back-when; like who the hell are those people he keeps referring to and why were they of any consequence? A great idea, and totally necessary, but somehow there was this gap between intention and execution. I just couldn’t get it all to flow the way I wanted it to within the context of the publication. Sometimes I wasn’t even sure what needed explanation or not.
Then I realised the solution was already before me in Peter Weston’s online supplement to his excellent fannish autobiography With Stars In My Eyes at Bill Burns’s efanzines site.
I could create a webpage for the Notes and Queries, something dynamic that could react to actual questions and be added to as and when the thought caught me, not a one-off and almost certainly incomplete print version within these covers. And coincidentally it might allay the suspicions of that breed of e-fan who give the impression that paper is just something they wipe their bottoms on, proving that we here from Fanzine Days are in fact maintaining a salient within the digital age.
So here we are then. If you, Dear Reader, find anything in the following sufficiently inexplicable or bizarre (not counting the project as a whole, please...) as to require amplification then please email me. I will certainly do my best to inform and amuse, and the exchange may eventually be webbed. In fact have a look there right now: there might be something...
It will, of course, come as no surprise when we say that things were not meant to happen this way. There had been a plan, but the plan had come to nothing and we—the two of us, plus bits of Plokta and Pat McMurray—were sitting around wondering what, if anything, we could do instead.
‘No time,’ we confidently asserted. 'Everybody too busy.’
This was essentially correct. It was April and the Worldcon was at the beginning of August. It had seemingly passed from being a Deep Time Far Future event to being pressed up right against our faces without ever passing through a transitional zone of being close but not that close. This was something of a false impression given by the looming deadline for programme items to be submitted to the top secret programme (or rather program) bunker in California wherein a miracle would occur and our vague ideas would emerge as a coherent schedule. The Worldcon was not exactly imminent. But it remained imminentish and this didn’t leave enough time to produce the hoped-for fanthology collecting the best fannish writing of the decade since Intersection.
But—and remarkably we hadn’t actually discussed this before—while we were both confidently asserting ‘No time’, and 'Everybody too busy’, we both thought there should be some kind of Greg collection, a Partial Printed Pickersgill, for the convention. The remarkably convenient fact that the back-catalogue from which it would need to draw wasn’t all that extensive, coupled with the fact that Pickersgill typing and mimeography of items such as Stop Breaking Down and Seamonsters was pretty good which facilitated scanning, led to the idea moving from being not-even-on-the-drawing-board to active-ongoing-project in about twenty-four hours before we’d actually thought to check with The Man Himself that this would be ok and not too embarrassing. TMH looked at us down the phone line, in that way he does, with an implicit suggestion that we must be mad to produce something which would have a probable market of about twenty copies, but we assured him that no, no, we were entirely cool with this, it’d be good, really it would, and the market is so more than about twenty copies but we are being entirely Realistic in our expectations and certainly won’t be printing so many that we have to buy a new shed to house all the unsold remainders, and Gregory hmpfed and said, well, ok then. And here we are.
What follows has been drawn from various fanzines and elist posts, the earliest dating from 1970 and the most recent from earlier this year. The originals were never that widely available and are now even more difficult to find. It’s stuff we like, and we hope you like it too.
A Note on the Purity of the Text
The text that appears here is not exactly the same as the original. We haven’t edited it as such, but we don’t believe it’s doing anybody any favours to preserve an inconsequential twenty-year-old typo so we’ve corrected typing/spelling errors—including in a few cases where Greg has conceded it was deliberate at the time but, twenty years on, is pretty much indistinguishable from an inconsequential typo so makes no difference really. We have also applied an element of standardisation to the typesetting of common fan terms across the years, although wouldn’t want to claim that we’ve aimed for consistency at the expense of Greg’s particular style.
—Claire Brialey & Mark Plummer