Amazing Stories

The Club House 2/7/14

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A secret British spy unit created to mount cyber attacks on Britain’s enemies has waged war on the hacktivists of Anonymous and LulzSec, according to documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and obtained by NBC news.

Too many secrets!

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Edward Snowden has been accused of many things including being a traitor and being in the not-so-secret employ of Mother Russia. Consider this, he is never mentioned (or hardly ever) as being a patriot and a hero, which is well worth thinking about. I thought that the Cold War was over, and that the U.S. had won. But it seems that the U.S. has now turned its secret spy apparatus around in order to spy on all the citizens in this country.

Instead of being concerned about our own governments’ illegal and criminal activities, which have been recently aired by the world media in great detail, the majority of people still follow the same pattern, of believing that Uncle Sam knows best.

We have become a society filled with those who at all times attempt to be all things to all people. How’s that working for you? The world economy is in the toilet. The world is heading for an extinction level event that far exceeds anything ever written as catastrophic climate change is at long last apparent.

Blindly following our so-called leaders is to be a lemming. Our leaders consistently make us look bad, and try at all times to take credit for what we do, while going out of their way to diminish our activities as if they are of no worth or of no account.

Why would any rational, reasonable being allow anyone to diminish them in any way? In order to make their so-called leader look better? Why? What for when the payoff is regularly rescinded. What would be the point?

No, a far better thing to do is to expose these self-appointed leaders for who and what they are, deed-by-deed, fact-by-fact. But no one likes a whistleblower. The fairy tale about the child exposing the Emperor’s New Clothing to the world for what they really are, and who that person really is, is a myth. In the real world the whistleblower, like Snowden, is always castigated, ridiculed, and belittled.

Yet, the facts remain, the Emperor is wearing nothing but smoke and mirrors, and all the howling by our so-called leaders is meaningless. Our government is spying on all of us all of the time. This is not paranoia. It is a fact.

What are the signs to look for? When you are diminished out of hand. When the things you do are slighted. When your freedom of expression is eliminated out of hand and only allowed when it is bent to the service of these crooks and criminals, these very unethical people who have gained the reigns somehow, and now are using them to whip you.

These people only have power if you let them have it. So, take it away from them. Ask yourself what these people are really doing for you. If you determine that they are doing nothing for you, but beating up on you regularly like any bully, then you know the answer. Ask yourself what you are doing for them. If you determine that you are giving fair value but receiving nothing in like or kind, then you know that these people are totally bankrupt.

Why would you give them your money? Why would you give away things of value to those that only take? Life is not a one-way street, for the bullies and takers to dominate those that create and produce.

How does all the above translate into fandom? Fandom has a long history of publishers and editors who make a go of it, successfully staying at the reigns before they became their own worst enemies and drove everyone away. John Campbell was one such, he drove away his readers and writers by promoting Dianetics. Ray Palmer was another, he drove everyone away by insisting the Shaver Mystery was real.

Some publishers can’t make a go of it, spending their career bouncing from one failed magazine to another, or simply failing in the task of being an editor, which does require some English language skills after all, and not a reliance on spell check.

The same is true about writers. Some have exhibited a glib, clever style and faded because they have no real staying power. A rare few, like Robert Heinlein and Robert Silverberg, have made decades long careers from their talent. And a few, like Alfred Bester, have come and gone, and come back late in life.

The same is true about fans. Some stay, some go, and some come back.

The “why” is interesting. Some have their own, private reasons for leaving. It might be the wraith of a bitter editor. Rog Phillips faced this wraith when Amazing Stories editor Howard Browne replaced him with a staff of high-paid cronies. Other writers have found more lucrative genres, like Westerns, or detective stories, or even screenwriting, and so left the science fiction field.

The same is true with fans. Some have gone from editing their fanzines to collecting coins, finding it more rewarding.

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What does seem to be true is that most people leave after a bitter encounter. For a writer it might be a very harsh intentionally destructive criticism. For a fan it might be after a very harsh intentionally destructive encounter. For my father it was when Robert Jennings pubbed the scurrilous fanzine, A Trip to Hell, as written by D. Bruce Berry, in which he accused Pop, Frank Robinson and Harlan Ellison of robbing him at gunpoint. D. Bruce Berry ended up being committed to a mental hospital. Robert Jennings released this fanzine at Chicon III, which Pop chaired, in a blatant attempt to cause harm, to diminish him and his efforts. Jennings attempted to highjack the Worldcon for his own bitter purposes, like all SMOFs do, and failed, as well. (Point of fact, I’ve read the lavender inked, very insane letters written by D. Bruce Berry to Pop. There was no question that he was insane, anyone with any sense would have detected it immediately, and not put out a fanzine in support of this incredible lunacy. Naming Pop, Frank and Harlan as criminals was intentional libelous slander.)

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The entire story regarding A Trip to Hell, D. Bruce Berry and Robert Jennings can be found at: eI11

These days, with the seeming endless variations of fanning, it would seem that anyone could easily find a place, without the need to highjack someone’s thunder, without the need to lambaste someone endlessly for an inadvertent word. Yet this doesn’t appear to be the case. New generations have a very bad tendency to try to apply their own rules retroactively to older generations. Whether it is in terms of their very poorly defined and unequally applied social conventions and requirements, or in their callous and demeaning way of dismissing all of the past. And older generations are just as bad as they try to desperately hold onto the past, doing or saying anything in order to have one more moment in the sun.

Yet, everyday the sun rises and the day is new and renewed. Fandom is the same way. It is constantly being renewed by those avid fans, writers, and yes, even a couple of publishers and editors. Fandom is strong. It is resilient. It has been able to endure the slanders and bitterness of countless inept bullies. It will continue to do so as it constantly changes, forming itself anew, reconfiguring itself to adapt to new generations and new technologies.

Fandom is Great! So are all the people involved in this saga, whether they are desperate mean-spirited people, or talented generous mentors. All contribute to the Great Story that is Fandom. And we, their humble chroniclers take careful note.

***

Now for some shameless self-promotion, in my role as chronicler I’ve written a book about Fandom. It covers the feuds, the scandals, the lies, the corrupt, as well as the amazing, and the wonderful. It covers all of those post-WWII people who made fandom what it is today.

Here’s yet another scoop by Yours Truly.

It’s official. Bob Silverberg has written a tremendous Afterword for my upcoming book, The Club House.

***

Well, without further ado, here are the fanzine reviews for this week, beginning with:

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Space Cadet #25: January 2014. Monthly. 14-pages. Edited by R. Graeme Cameron. Subtitled: Or, The Aging Old Fhart Nostalgic Time Waster Gazette. Cover art by Teddy Harvia. Cameron kicks off with his editorial, “A Shift in Focus,” in which he details his feelings about being a weekly Amazing Stories columnist. He tells us from now on he is only going to do fannish things for fun. Taral Wayne follows with, “Man Without a Country,” wherein he discusses being from Toronto and being an outlier from mainstream Canada. “On Collecting Miniatures ‘How to Game’” an uncredited article follows. The title says it all. Taral Wayne is back next with “A Pocket Full of Histories: Coin Notes,” which is about coin collecting. Letters of Comment follows, with comments from Neil Williams, Taral Wayne, “Loyd” [sic] Penney, and Dave Haren. I’m going to stick my neck out here and offer two criticisms. First, this fanzine comes in a PDF format, yet the typeface appears to be wrong. (It might be intentional, but I don’t think so.) It jumps from bold to regular every couple of letters making the zine hard to read. Also, the two-column format is difficult to follow reading from the computer; the reader is constantly forced to go up and down, page by page. Oh well, I sincerely doubt that Cameron will read this review or make any adjustments to his zine by making it easier for his public to read.

***

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SF Commentary #86: January 2014. Monthly. 120-pages. (Yes, 120!) Edited by Bruce Gillespie. Cover art by Ditmar. The back cover art is a DJFractal by Elaine Cochrane. This is an immense zine, really more than a zine. It’s a pocketbook of fannish topics. Some of the highlights include Ditmar’s cover story. There’s just too much information to do this zine justice in a brief review. It is loosely divided into sections: “I Must Be Talking to My Friends,” subtitled “Farewell to Peter Darling” with a segment on “Graham Stone” both about the passing of notable fans; “J.G. Ballard News”; three sets of articles about “Science Fiction’s People” including segments on Bob Bloch’s visit to Australia in 1981, an interview with John Clute, and memories of Jay Kay Klein; and “The Real Science Fiction” which is an advanced book review section with nine articles about well-known science fiction writers, such as Joanna Russ, Arthur C. Clarke, C.M. Kornbluth, A. Belyanin, Phyllis Gotlieb, Audrey Niffeneger, Olaf Stapledon, Ray Bradbury, and J.G. Ballard. This zine includes articles by Bruce and Ditmar, as well as Peter Gerrand, Miranda Foyster, Chris Nelson, Daniel King, James Doig, Darrell Schweitzer, Mike Glyer, Pamela Sargent, George Zebrowski, John Litchen, Patrick McGuire, Taral Wayne, and Fred Lerner. Frankly, it does suffer from having two columns per page, making it necessary to scroll up and down. However, that is only a mild detraction for this zine. It a comprehensive, intelligently written work by some of the major talents in fandom. It is highly recommended. It compares favorably to Joe Majors’ zine, Alexiad, which if slimmer, is as brilliantly piercing.

***

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Bunyip and Ayotochtli #3: February 2, 2014. Weekly! 16-pages. Edited by Robert Hole. This zine looks nice, but…I found it nearly impossible to read. I use Mozilla Firefox as my browser. Going to the website hosting this zine, and tapping on this issue as a PDF brings up a split screen. Not only is the zine in two-column format, but a matching TOC alongside the zine makes only one column available to read. So not only does the reader have to shuttle up and down, but side-to-side as I have a roughly 7-inch wide by 5-inch deep window to try to read it. No titles can be read without scrolling side-to-side. There is a standard icon for printing the zine, which brings up another screen with the entire zine as a PDF, from which one can print to file if they have the software. I used PDF Creator for this purpose. The file failed, with only 12 of the 16 pages printing. I tried again, canceling the pop-up screen for printing to file, and the PDF file finally populated my screen. So, after several steps and delays and nearly fifteen minutes I was finally able to read this zine. In his editorial “Wet and Dry” Hole explains this issues theme. “The Fisherman and the Draug,” from “Weird Tales from Northern Seas,” by Jonas Lie, translated by R. Nisbet Bain, follows. It is a short fiction story about the trials and tribulations of said fisherman. Not bad, it was fairly interesting. A book review of “Deadshifted,” by Cassie Alexander, comes next, with “8 typos noted, 5 of them in the last 50 pages.” There is a complicated “Word Search” puzzle entitled “Pharoahs” due to the geometric shape of the word puzzle. For sheer breath we have “Egyptian Love Poetry” an extract from a 3,000 year-old papyrus. Once again, when I reached page 12, the zine timed out, and wouldn’t display the rest. After a long wait, when I was finally ready to give up, the rest appeared. It does force me to comment that I want to read my zines, not struggle with tech and software and alternate website. Too bad it was so distracting and troublesome, I was actually getting interested and liking this zine after I was finally able to read it. The missing part that wouldn’t download was “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” by Robert W. Service, a poem. Followed by a line drawing entitled “Color Your Own Paper Doll.” There is an upside-down page with the answers to the word search puzzle. “Fhear A’Bhata (The Boatman)” comes next. More poetry. So, I think that this is an interesting zine and it shows promise. If editor Hole can trick out his original files so that they don’t take so long to download, and don’t glitch out, he may be onto something.

***

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British Columbia Science Fiction Association #488: January 2014. Montly. 24-pages. Edited by Felicity Walker. This is the BCSFA OO. It follows the same pattern as last month, with “This and Next Month in BCSFA”; “About BCSFA”; Letters of Comment from Steve Green, Dave Haren, Brent Francis, Michael Bertrand, and Lloyd Penney. These letters come with footnotes! ; a calendar of upcoming area and club related events; News-Like Matter; Zines Received; E-zines Received; and art credits. If you’re going to be in the area, this is the zine for you. You could also look up the club, and maybe join.

***

Well, once again, Dear Friends, we reach the end of this journey for this week. If you are interested in reading the full, unedited, unexpurgated column, just follow this link to Twenty Second Century Enterprises and explore my website, dedicated to all things Rog Phillips, among others.

2 thoughts on "The Club House 2/7/14"

  1. Re your comments on my Space Cadet:

    “First, this fanzine comes in a PDF format, yet the typeface appears to be wrong. (It might be intentional, but I don’t think so.) It jumps from bold to regular every couple of letters making the zine hard to read.”

    Odd, because nothing like that happens on my screen. Out of curiosity I clicked your link to my zine and it opened with a perfectly normal appearance.

    However, something like you describe happened when Steve posted a complete issue of SC #11 (as an example of a perzine) way back when. Turned out to be an artifact of the program translating the file for use in his computer. Being a complete ignoramus about computers I have no idea how to describe the phenomena let alone explain it. I just know that it happens.

    The gist of the matter is it looks good on some computers and is totally gibbled up on other computers. Nothing I can do about it from my end. It is what it is; part of the basis of my love/hate relationship with computers.

    “Also, the two-column format is difficult to follow reading from the computer; the reader is constantly forced to go up and down, page by page. Oh well, I sincerely doubt that Cameron will read this review or make any adjustments to his zine by making it easier for his public to read.”

    Are you kidding? I ALWAYS read your column. For me, it is one of the highlights of Amazing. The voice of experience, etc. Always interesting, sometimes downright fascinating. Your column and Steve Fahnestalk’s column are the two columns I never miss. Why, sometimes I read them before I read my own, and considering how egocentric I’m reputed to be, that’s rather amazing. Just because we don’t always agree on a given subject (the worth of my zines for instance) is neither here nor there. You always have something interesting to say, not to mention to reveal to those like myself who have far less experience in fandom (being on the periphery and all) than you do.

    Besides, having given up on fannish politics and become content to mine fandom for as much fun as I can derive from it, your weekly column is part of the fun, part of what makes fandom a delight for me. I may or may not accept your suggestions, but I am listening…

    The two column format of my zine, for instance. I do it that way because I’m a dinosaur. In my mind I am still putting together a zine to be printed out and mailed, except that I can’t afford to do that, so I post it online. It’s essentially a paper zine archived online. I see no reason to change (thus proving I’m a dinosaur).

    Besides, I never have a problem myself reading other archived zines in multi columned format. Given my tendency to read every word of a zine I’m looking at, from cover to cover (loc columns always my favourite), simply because I’m so fascinated with zines, scrolling up and down doesn’t bother me personally. But if it annoys some readers, oh well. They don’t have to read my stuff if they don’t want to.

    Of course, on the other hand my weekly blog is just a single column. I’m fine with that, because I envision it as a single column embedded in a magazine or newspaper of multiple columns. That’s how old fashioned I am. I write it, and Steve formats it his way, because he’s the editor. As a contributor, I fully understand that. I work for him, so to speak. He calls the shots.

    But in my own zines, I do things my way, since I’m my own editor. Not uncommon in zinedom methinks.

    Also, my article on gaming was uncredited because I didn’t think it was necessary. The reader knows it is my perzine, so knows that everything in it is by me, except the articles written by others. Of course I always credit them. My assumption that crediting myself is unnecessary may be seen as idiotic, but it’s all part of my persona as a zine publisher. Can’t help myself, you might say.

    The article on gaming wasn’t meant to be a “here’s how you should do it” instruction, but rather “here’s an example of how I do it” which may or may not be of interest to you as a reader.

    In sum, as a zine editor, publisher and writer, I do things my way because you can’t please everybody, and if I tried to do that it would take all the individual personality out of my zines. Possibly I am an acquired taste, not for everybody. But one thing I am convinced of, I am an example of “something.” Up to the reader to decide whether they take it or leave it.

    Meanwhile I think it’s really cool you take the time to review several contemporary zines in your every column. I can’t think of a better way to attract newcomers to the fold. Reviews within zines speak to the converted. Reviews in your Amazing column are read by all sorts of SF fans and could well trigger conversions to our ’cause.’ Zinedom has plenty of room for new recruits. So carry on your good work, sir. You are helping to hold the banner high for all to see. Good thing that.

    1. Cameron, it was sincerely very good to hear from you. As you well know writing our columns can sometimes appear to be a thankless task done in a vacuum without any feedback.

      So, first off, I’ve done a lot of research on the original “Club House” columns as conducted by Rog Phillips for my forthcoming book. Throughout them Rog was engaged in an ongoing discussion with Ed Wood (another Advent founder and partner) about the way to review fanzines. Ed was for the harshest, strictest standards. Rog went to the other extreme welcoming all with his typical “Hail fellow, well met.”

      When our most excellent editor, Steve Davidson, offered me the opportunity to reprise the original column, I jumped at the chance. But I decided to take the middle road as much as possible. This translates into welcoming all newcomers, rather uncritically, as we don’t want to scare them away just as they are getting their “zine” feet wet. On the other hand, for old-timers, who have been around for a while, well, sometimes I feel compelled to offer some criticism.

      Hopefully, this is understood as to be always positive, even though I might fail to find the right words to convey this. I’m just following Rog. His various editors gave him free reign to discuss anything. So he did. Discussing fandom, conventions, and current events, with a great deal of autobiographical material included. One of my favorite installments was when he took editor Howard Browne to task for his crusade to fire him and replace him with his Hollywood cronies. Rog did this deftly and with a great deal of wit and humor. I can only hope to equal his ability in this regard.

      The bit about the difficulty of reading two columns in any zine actually comes from several conversations that I’ve had over the years with some real old-timers and dinosaurs (not us two youngsters), who have even less computer skills than I do, and even less eyesight. This boils down to, “If you want to be read, make it easy for everyone, not just easy for yourself.”

      I understand about formatting based on printed zines, and how hard it is to get away from that, but even the younger generation complains. So if we don’t want to loose them all and force them to drift away, we have to see things through their eyes. For instance, as I wrote this week, I almost gave up on “Bunyip” several times. It was painful to go through all the things I had to in order to finally read it. Yet, I found it interesting, and worthy. However, how many other people have given up in complete frustration due to these technological difficulties (most of which I do understand, and many are due to my skill level…oh well…once again, the point is to be read, all else is vanity).

      I suspect that you and I are much more on the same page than might be apparent upon first glance. I can never hope to aspire to the level of fan-historical dialectic that Arnie Katz and Andy Hooper have attained. They are carrying on the fanspeak conversation based on the traditional terms. Instead, like you, I see that fun, and having fun is much more important. I like to use my words, and engage people. I like to have discussions that pierce the veil of our understanding, and are not simply nodding in conformity to ideas and ideals that I do not hold.

      So, much like Rog did, I’m interested in moving on to contemporary current events in order to relate fandom to the world of today, not the world of the past.

      This brings up the other main issue, that of uncredited articles, and much more likely, uncredited cover and interior art. While doing my research annotating the original 60-year-old columns, I was primarily interested in finding context, identifying all the people involved as to who they were and what they did. When stumbling over an uncredited article or piece of art, I could not attribute them to someone based on guesswork and likely assumptions.

      What we all need to keep in mind, if we are so inclined, is that whatever we are now writing, no matter how stupid or brilliant, dull or enlightening, vain or understanding, we are also engaged in a conversation with posterity. There will come a day when future researchers will look back upon all that we have written and try to puzzle out who we were and what we really did.

      This is probably not of any real interest to anyone but a pedant like myself, but it is a fact nonetheless. The future will look back, and if we have done things obscurely, they will only see us as through a glass darkly or not at all.

      And this would and will be a great shame, because with just a little tweak here and there, we can ensure that our time and efforts will translate across the gulf of years and that future generations of historians, fans, and zine writers, will come to understand us in the context of our culture, generation, and time.

      So, I find striving for clarity to be the most important aspect, while striving for quality a close second. And, of course, what we are all involved with as we work together is to enhance this genre in all regards, and attract a new generation to carry our standard forward into that looming, unknown, and sometimes unsettling future.

      Finally, it wouldn’t be worth doing if it wasn’t fun, because then it would be work. If we really want to attract the next generation, we have to demonstrate to them at all times, whatever our differences, that fandom is an aggregation of individuals wherein everyone fits. There’s room here for everyone, all the time. The sign on the door to fandom is, “Everyone is welcome! We’re always open.” That we all play together, have fun together, and want to play with them as well, and not merely require them to conform to our ideas, beliefs, and demands.

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