gostak index SFN INDEX
THE SCIENCE FANTASY NEWS
Published by the S.F. Society
No. 1 Jan'49
Contents and Advertising..........................Pge 2
S.F.S. Administration................................Pge 3
Introducing the S.F.S - Ken Slater............ Pge 7
Quotes, Notes, News and Reviews...........Pge 13
Things To Come......................................Pge 16
Letters to the news should be sent:-
Science Fantasy News
If there is anything that you want to buy or sell, or exchange, then advertise in the Science-Fantasy News.
A full page advert will cost 3/-, a half page 1/9, quarter page 1/-. Small ads up to 20 words, 6d.
The Committee who are carrying out administrative work and planning in the initial stages of the Society are as follows :-
Secretary. Frank Fears
Treasurer. Owen D. Plumridge
Members. A. Vincent Clarke, James Clay, Charles Duncombe, John Newman, Kenneth Slater
S.F.S. members have been grouped into areas, each with its own Secretary. All commmunications concerning the Society should go to the members appropriate Secretary.
Here is the geographical location of the areas and the secretaries addresses.
SOUTHERN AREA All Southen England, with the exception of the 'London Area', south of Gloucester, Oxford, Bucks, Hertford, and Essex inclusive.
Secretary. L.G. Street,
LONDON AREA The Greater London Area, and including all regular visitors to the 'London Circle'.
Secretary. F. Fears
MIDLANDS AREA From the 'Southern Area' to Shropshire, Worcester, Warwick, Leicester, Rutland, Cambridge, and Norfolk inclusive, and including Wales.
Secretary. P.S. Medcalf,
NORTHERN AREA From the 'Midlands Area' to the Scottish border.
Secretary. K. Johnson,
SCOTTISH and NORTHERN IRELAND AREA
Secretary. P.B. Bell.
Enquirers and members should write to the Secretary of the London Area, Frank Fears.
Several departments will be set up in the future to deal with special activities of the Society. A MANUSCRIPT BUREAU is now in operation, run by Ken Slater, and information concerning it will be found in his article in this issue.
Address :- Lt. K. F. Slater,
Especially needed is a CONTACT BUREAU, through which fans can be put in touch with others overseas. We want a member, preferably already in contact with American fans, to run this bureau by keeping a file of names and addresses, details concerning any personal preference in the type of contact needed, etc, use this file to effect introduction, and, of course, using his or her address for the bureau.
When the bureau is established, advertisements will be inserted in fan, and, where possible, professional magazines in this country and others.
We will be glad to hear from any member wishing to form this bureau, so that details can be decided upon.
This, the first issue of 'Science Fantasy News' must of necessity largely consist of appeals and explanations. Information on the 'Science Fantasy Society', whose official organ this is, will be found in Ken Slater's article, and it covers the general aims of the Society pretty thoroughly.
We need only be concerned here with the 'Science Fantasy News'. It is intended that this magazine shall provide a common meeting ground for all lovers of science, weird, and fantastic literature. In it, all are welcome to air their views, opinions, likes and dislikes, for it is 'our' magazine. Literally that, for the editorial 'we' is used in the plural sense, and it means all of us.
Therefore the format, contents, policy etc., will change if so desired, by the majority of readers. We do not propose to have a 'closed shop' of a select circle of contributors. All good material submitted by readers, will, when possible, be printed. Obviously, to make this policy work, all must play their part. Before the second issue, we hope to be flooded with material, but that will not be possible unless we all help out. So if you have something to say, on any subject, or if you can't manage that, feel like writing us a letter, do so. It will not be ignored.
Art work, of a type that will stand duplicating, is an especial need. We want good quality illustrations, so if you have a flair for drawing, and an idea or two on fantastic subjects suitable for the magazine, send them along. The maximum size is half foolscap, 5 x 7 inches, half size is 5 x 3, quarter size 2 x 3. Please try to keep to these sizes, and it will help a lot.
We intend to carry advertising. Rates will be found elsewhere in this magazine. They are not exorbitant, for we feel that this is a service readers want, but it cannot be denied that any revenue derived from this source will be very welcome. S.F. News must pay for itself, and although every economy is being practised, we will not hesitate to try and give the very best production we can. Therefore, if you have a want, or something for sale, you will not only help us, but you will also help a fellow reader who wishes to sell, or wants, what you advertise.
The desirability of including fiction is a debatable point, and one that must be answered by a majority of the readers. Some fiction is good, most is very poor ... and poor fiction is worse than no fiction at all. As space will naturally be limited any fiction submitted will have to be read and passed by the majority of a committee, an unenviable and delicate task.
An idea that has been proposed is that fiction should be submitted and appear for the express purpose of inviting comment and constructive criticism. Any such criticism would naturally be too long to be printed in full, but a resume could be printed and the full texts be sent to the author concerned.
We will keep a non-committal attitude on the questions of a religious or political nature which so frequently lead to bitter controversies, We rely on the good sense of readers not to submit very opinionated material likely to touch on those subjects, as we have no desire to turn the mag. into an organ of any sort of propaganda except that of fantasy literature. The length of any such arguments that do arise will have to be restricted.
This issue of 'Science Fantasy News' has been produced by a very small group of fans. It should be a very great help to them if some other members with typewriters would type the finished copy draft for future issues, the chief requirement being the ability to do this at fairly short notice, Stencil cutting is another job that can be done quicker by a large group. Really good stencil cutting needs a typewriter with very sharp faces, which leave a clear impression. We would like to hear from members who own such machines, and would be willing to carry out this work.
The points raised above cannot be summarily decided upon, and neither can many others. They can not be .... until you have let us know what you think. For this is our magazine, and it will be just as good as we, by our own efforts, can make it.
Let's make a good job of it, shall we?
INTRODUCING THE S.F.S
Fantasy has been known ever since man developed the imagination, but the modern type of science, weird, and fantasy fiction, dating from the novels of such authors as Verne, Wells, Machen, and Blackwood, only began to reach a very large public with the advent of "Weird Tales", (1923), and "Amazing Stories" (1926), in the fertile field of American pulp magazine publication.
As soon as these magazines appeared, so did a following of people who were sufficiently interested in the stories to write to the editors and point out errors in the logic, in science, in the illustrations, and not only to point out errors, but to make suggestions. These people were the original "fans" as known in modern parlance.
But the amazing part is that the editors took note of what these people had to say, either improved or explained, and we finally arrive at the present day position, where editors, authors, and illustrators frequently correct readers. But that applies more in the States....our fan history in the U.K. is no such story of achievement. Instead, it is a record of failure. .. .glorious failure maybe, but still failure.
The earliest fan organisation in this country was the Science Fiction Association. Formed in 1937, it closed down at the outbreak of war, it's guiding members being unable to carry on for various reasons, During its period of activity, meetings were held, mimeographed magazines were produced, and contact established between a number of fans who have since taken an active part in the various projects connected with fantasy fiction in this country.
Co-existent with the S.F.A. was the British Interplanetary Society, not a fan organisation, but a scientific body derived from fane with technical leanings. Commencing with a membership of thirteen it has today a healthy following of well over 600, and public recognition. In that achievement the fan can take some vicarious pleasure at least. It was from the fane that the organisation started.
During the war, two other societies sprung up, one of then originating at the paint Research Station at Teddington. Commencing as a library of magazines and books donated by fan Frank Parker, as being a method of passing time for the N.F.S. members whilst they wore standing by, from it sprung the virile "Cosmos Club". Much, of the club's success was due I think, to the fact that it suffered oppression from "Higher Authority", at least while this oppression existed, the club existed. When its membership spread beyond the confines of the laboratory, and the oppression and the war ceased, the club also ceased. Its ghost remains in the form of the "Cosmos Library", which operates under the aegis of the group known as the "London Circle”.
The other war-tine organisation was the British Fantasy Society, somewhat different in form as its membership was drawn from all over the U.K. The BFS again continued while its operative difficulties were greatest, and went into a decline when most of then were removed!! Again a "ghost" of the Society remains in the form of the British Fantasy Library, which, with the Cosmos Library, fills a great need for those of the fans who know of their existence.
I shall not comment at length on the pre-war British professional magazines, "Fantasy" and "Tales of Wonder", except to say that "T.O.W." night still be running if the war had been a few years shorter. Nor shall I say much of the post-war abortive efforts to publish professionally in this country, "Fantasy” reintroduced, folded after three issues, due to paper shortage and lack of understanding by its publishers.
"Outlands", a semi-professional effort, was a one issue affair. "New Worlds" was produced three times, and then due to publishing difficulties, vanished. But "N.W." will be back with us shortly. Much has already been written on this, and so I shall say no more.
Our "Fanzines', (a wide and varied field of amateur publications produced by the fans, some typed, some duplicated.) are chiefly represented at present by "Fantasy Review”, a semi-professional printed booklet, and "Operation Fantast" a duplicated affair. If you are interested enough in these, or in any of the other natter upon which I have so lightly touched, a few letters and a little investigation will get you all the information you could desire, maybe more!
Now at last I come to to-day and the Science Fantasy Society. This society, springing to life as it does with a membership of more than 50, has a higher opening strength than any of its predecessors. That is a good sign. It also commences when it is obvious that a larger number of .people are interested in science fiction and fantasy than ever before in this country. Witness the production of so many fantasy books by publishing houses, and the large sale of the British Reprint Editions of "Astounding Science Fiction" and "Unknown Worlds".
The S.F.S. combines the good points of both the Cosmos club and the B.F.S in that it has a central organisation which can get together to discuss and do things, but has a nation-wide membership, scattered it is true, but at least each single member in a town is a prospective point of contact for new members.
The Society has come into existence because there appears to be a need for it, and it will continue to grow as more people become aware of it, and what it has to offer.
And what has it to offer?
A seven-point policy has been laid down by a committee, which states fully the objects of the S.F.S. I shall quote it here, and then enlarge upon the points.
(1) The furtherance of all s-f and fantasy matters, both in connection with fans and with the professional field.
(2) The speedy dissemination of news to all fans.
(3) The encouragement of all fanzine editors, artists, authors, etc.
(4) The promotion of international correspondence,
(5) The possible stabilising of magazine prices..
(6) The fostering of local groups, of national fan functions and similar matters which benefit, indirectly, the individual fan.
(7) More publicity for the entire field of s-f and fantasy, and its recognition as a separate form of literature.
To enlarge slightly upon these points, in order. The first is just a good old "general coverage" clause, which will serve as a heading for anything, anyone, any time may think of, not covered, by the other six points.
Point two is an important one. By "News" is meant all items of interest, both personal and professional, and will be covered by the official organ, "Science Fantasy News”. It is hoped to publish this every six or eight weeks, depending on circumstances. The Societies area link-up will be used on matters of urgency.
Point three is also of importance. By "encouragement", we hope that in the future we will be able to offer practical assistance, financial and material, to fanzine publishers. This matter is still under consideration, and further information will be given in the near future.
To aid editors, artists and authors, etc. A manuscript bureau is being set up to which all miscellaneous mss,(i.e. those not directly commissioned or written with reference to any particular fanzine) should be sent, and from which editors nay request material.
In addition, all items will be carefully inspected, and if the author, artist, etc, desires, those that show promise will be placed before a committee who will advise with a view to making the material sellable in the professional field. A small agency to place such material may be arranged at a later date.
Point four is obvious, but all members who desire international correspondents should place details on file, In order that contacts nay be made.
In item five it is not possible for the Society to do more than to quote a list of magazine prices which, they consider fair, and then request all fans to stick to these prices when buying and selling. It is pointed out that anyone paying more than the quoted prices \will be doing so of his or her own free will, and the S.F.S. is not going to bind its members down with any rules about what they may or may not do,, The Committee would welcome the views of the members on this subject.
Number six is largely a question to be dealt with as it occurs, but it is the Society’s intention to arrange the next Convention at about Easter 1949 and to give all fans good warning. Proceeds of an auction etc will naturally go to the funds of the Society.
For local groups the S.F. News will publish lists of names and addresses, and will try to put new fans, (and newly discovered ones), in touch, with others in their locality, and will naturally also help and advise those wishing to form a group in any way possible,. But this is mainly a matter for these fans, and something which the S.F.S. cannot start as a whole….the initial desire must be present in the individuals concerned.
And seven ! The most important, I think. This question of publicity for fantasy and fandom has received as much attention and discussion as any two other matters together. In this brief outline, I cannot do more than to say that the subject will be fully covered in a separate article.
That goes equally for a number of other items such as requesting publishers to print, and reprint, certain books, and many other matters.
I have said enough to give you a brief idea of the aims of the S.F.S. ….now, how it will operate.
In this period, which is still the initial stage, members of the committee are making contact with the 'Area Secretaries', who have been chosen by expressed willingness to help, and, where possible, geographical location.
Each Area Secretary will act as a sort of ‘Liaison Officer', a link between the individual fan and fan-groups in his area, and the Committee. Later, when duties and responsibilities have been allocated as far as possible, members should write to the addresses as published, in 'Science Fantasy News’. At present, the situation is still one in which all points not answerable by the ‘Area Secretary’ will be forwarded to the Committee, who will find the answer. Each area has been allocated a Committee member to whom the Area Secretary will write.
Postage expenses will be remitted to the Area Secretaries, but members wanting a mailed reply from them or from any other branch of the S.F.S must enclose a stamped and addressed envelope.
Financially, the S.F.S. appears to be fairly secure. The subscription has been fixed at 5/- for the first year, ending 31st December 1949. Members have been credited with their initial fee of 2/6d , and the remainder will be asked for during the year, when the Society is on a firm basis and is functioning smoothly.
Funds will be held in a joint account by the Treasurer, Owen D. Plumridge, and Secretary Frank Fears.
This brief resume, will I hope, serve as an introduction to the S.F.S. Please don’t expect too much, too soon. The Committee are going to work hard, and those of the members who can will also be asked to work on the various projects. It will take at least six month to get many of these into workable shape, but as soon as they start taking concrete form, you will be told!
In conclusion, I would like to thank, on behalf of the Committee, all those who have offered advice and help, and to assure all members the S.P.S. will continue to operate with as few 'rules and regulations' as possible, in the belief that a co-ordination of voluntary effort will be of benefit, and give greater pleasure, to all of us.
QUOTES, NOTES, NEWS AND REVIEWS
The twelfth issue of 'Fantasy Review' has appeared in its new large size (32 pages), featuring an article on Olaf ('Last and First Men') Stapledon's B.I.S. lecture, Russian criticism of s-f, American Rocket Society's criticism of s-f , John Beynon's criticism of mag. s-f, 'T.W.S.' editor Sam Merwin's criticism of s-f authors, and Shaver's criticism of everything except the 'Shaver Mystery'. 'Critical mass', in fact, and very interesting.
Fan-amateur author Mike Tealby announces a new postal fantasy library, to be run in conjunction with Ken Slater's 'Operation Fantast'. Charges will be from l/6d to 2/6d per fortnight.
Mike is also preparing to issue a new fanzine, as is Ken Johnson, of Stoke-on-Trent.
Ken Slater reports that his 'Operation Fantast' fanzine will be late, appearing in January with reduced size. Norman Ashfield's 'Alembic' will also be late, both delays being due to pressure of work.
December U.S. 'Astounding' just arriving in this country, differs from the above in being late because of no work. U.S. dock strikes have held up this and other mags and books.
Nova Publications, their financial and printing difficulties overcome, expect to have 'New Worlds' No. 4 out in February. The cover will probably be a space-ship illustration by artist Dennis.
Latest B.R.E. 'Unknown' (Winter), reprints 'Enchanted Weekend' from U.S. Oct. '39 edition, which means that all stories in the 'Out of the Unknown' anthology have been reprinted in various B.R.E.s. Choice of stories for the B.R.E. 'Unk.' is getting small now, and novels or novelettes comprise almost half of those remaining.
Aldous Huxley's 'Ape and Essence' continues to receive more advance publicity than any fantasy book has had for years. Of equal interest to fans, however, will be Ward Moore's 'Greener Than You Think', highly praised in U.S. fan circles, and soon to be reprinted here.
Pelham Groome's 'Purple Twilight' (T. Werner Laurie, 9/6d), is continuing to earn praise from hardened British fans as a very good venture into s-f by this thriller writer. A 'First on Mars' story.
'Spurious Sun' by George Borodin, (T. Werner Laurie (again!) 8/6d) has received less praise, probably because of its theme of slow atomic reaction set up in the Earth's atmosphere, and its political bias.
'Angels Weep', by Desmond Leslie, is described as an 'attack on a totalitarian England of the future'. Published at 8/6d by --- yes, T .Werner Laurie!
T .Werner Laurie have also recently published 'A Giant's Strength' by Upton Sinclair, at 2/6. Old stuff to ASF fans, this play of an A-bomb attack on America is written with a passionate sincerity which may do some good in those high-brow circles that would disdain ordinary s-f. The play itself has just started at the Torch Theatre, London, and has received poor notices from most of the newspaper critics. It certainly isn't 'holiday fare'.
'The Flying Saucer' by Bernard Newman, (Gollancz. 9/6d) is a variation on the 'fake attack unites world' theme, as used by Maurois, Remenham, Sturgeon in a recent ASF etc etc.
'The Last White Man', by Yves Gandon, (Cassell, 9/6d) is a translation of a French satire concerning the last white man in the world.
'Pawns in Ice', by Henry Gibbs, (Jarrold, 9/6d ), tells the story of the last three soldiers in a future war --- an Englishman, an American, and a Russian.
'Life Begins Tomorrow' by S. Parkman (Hodder and Stoughton, 9/6d), gives a plausible account of the few survivors in a world depopulated by a new plague.
Fourth in Dennis Wheatley's series of Black Magic stories, 'The Haunting of Toby Jugg', (Hutchinson, 12/6d) features a notable BEM on the dustjacket.
For those who like the traditional shudder in their Christmas reading, Riders have published, at 15/- Elliot O'Donnell's 'Haunted Britain'. According to the 'blurb' it contains ...."Ghostly phenomena of every variety --- elementals, vampires, phantom coaches, phantom heads, headless ghosts, evil and dangerous ghosts, ghosts of various colours...etc". Apparently a full permutation of the supernatural.
Viereck and Eldridge's 'My First Two Thousand Years', an allegorical adventure fantasy which has been a rarity for many years, has now been reprinted at 12/6.
Some of the large number of fantasy books recently published in the U.S. are now being reprinted over here. Probably the most welcome of the latest issues will be Ray Bradbury's 'Dark Carnival' (Hamish Hamilton, 9/-). This collection of modern weird-fantasy shorts has received high praise on both sides of the Atlantic, and is well worth reading.
Charles Finney's satirical fantasy, 'The Circus of Dr Lao', has been reprinted by Grey Walls Press @ 12/6d.
'Doppelgangers' by Gerald Heard, (Cassell, 9/6d) had a mixed reception in its American edition. A large dose of mysticism towards the end of this future adventure tends to spoil it for many s-f enthusiasts. These who want to follow up this different approach can find further information in Heard's 'Vedanta as a Scientific Approach to Religion' in the Xmas 'Occult Review', which also carries a tribute to the late Montague Summers, editor of weird story anthologies and author.
'The Midnight Reader', edited by Philip Van Doren (Bodley Head, 10/6d) a collection of weird stories, suffers from the fact that most of them are over 40 years old, so that those that are worth reading are already familiar.
'The Lurker at the Threshold', by Derleth and Lovecraft (Museum Press, 8/6) , the greater part of which was written by Derleth, is competently told but not outstanding.
Two older American fantasies recently re-issued are Jack London's story of future revolution, 'The Iron Heel' (T. Werner Laurie (what, again?) at 6/-) and Thorne Smith's 'Topper Takes a Trip', 1/- in the Guild Books (surplus) Services Edition. This latter series is worth watching - 'Sam Small Flies Again' and 'The Ghost and Mrs Muir' have also appeared in it recently.
British fantasy reprints include George Orwell's satirical 'Animal Farm', (Secker and Warburg, 6/-) and the quartet of Ernest Bramah's 'Kai Lung' series of humourous fantasies (Richards Press, 6/-).
Well-made British horror film 'Dead of Night' has re-appeared in London, at the 'Dominion' and 'New Victoria' cinemas.
Congratulations to Arthur C. Clarke, B.I.S. councillor and s-f author, recently appointed Assistant Ed. of technical journal 'Science Abstracts'.
THINGS TO COME
The 'S.F. News' will be running various sections dealing with particular phases of fantasy in future issues, which members will run and to which other members will contribute.
But it is also the intention of the Society to distribute other fanzines with S.F.N., saving the editors postal expenses and ensuring a larger field for fans mss.
The accompanying 'Alembic Minor' (very minor, about one-sixth of the usual size) was rushed out by Norman Ashfield as an expression of good will when he heard that S.F.N. was about to be published.
Prospective 'fanzine' publishers who want their magazines to be distributed with S.F.N., or have difficulties in which we may be able to help should write to the Committee via their Area Secretary.
Membership cards are being distributed with this issue of S.F.N. If there is a general demand for a badge, emblem, or other means of outward identification we will see what can be done, but at present there is very little desire expressed by members, and the cost of a small quantity would be prohibitive.
In the next issue of S.F.N. we propose to publish a list of those members desiring to form groups in their own locality. We would like to hear of any small meetings that are now being held, and which would like more members. Details of the 'London Circle' and information concerning the 'Stoke-on-Trent Fantasy Group' will be given in S.F.N. 2, but we can say here that all fans are welcome at the Thursday night sessions of the 'London Circle' (Sec. Frank Fears), held in the Saloon Bar of the 'White Horse Tavern' , Fetter Lane, London.
It is proposed to start a department in S.F.N. to deal with questions concerning fantasy literature. We will deal with those that can be answered by check lists, etc; , but we hope that its chief use will be to answer, with the readers help, those odd questions that often occur and are outside the scope of the usual bibliographies. We'll give you an example: - In what issues of 'Look' and 'Coronet' have series of astronomical drawings by Chesley Bonestall been printed ?