SIGNIFICANCE UNKNOWN. In the months that have elapsed since the last installment of this column, I have accumulated a file-folder full of notes and clippings, which I planned to use in the present column. Unfortunately, some of them cannot be used now, or ever. Some of the notes are so cryptic that I am unable to ascertain their meaning, and some of the clippings have no notation upon them, & I have now forgotten why I cut them out of the paper in the first place.
A case in point is a clipping of the newspaper feature, "Let's Explore Your Mind", by Alfred E. Wiggam, D.Sc. I dimly remember saving this item because of the following question and answer: Q: "Is the old notion that liars and criminals have 'shifty eyes' borne out by psychological experiments?" A: "Yes. Wabash college psychologist R. S. Ort recorded eye movements of students on motion films when 'emotion-laden' words such as sin, shame, body, desire, prostitute and also 'non-emotional' words like house, bread, bird, thirsty, scissors, were spoken. The pictures showed a higher degree of eye-movements when emotional words were spoken, scarcely any reaction to non-emotional words. This indicates eye-movements register guilt and innocence perhaps more accurately than any other bodily reactions."
My proposed comment on that was probably something to the effect that "How often does someone say 'sin, shame, body, desire, or prostitute' to a criminal?" But of course my proposed comment was much more original and devastating than that, and I've forgotten it. You'll just have to write your own comment.
WHERE DO THEY GET THAT IDEA? For some reason, people are always stating that "File 13" is a column crammed with "attacks" on various people. In the February 1950 Spacewarp, the "Stf Weirdists" -- of whom more later -- writes that I, "like many of the others, nock and nock ..." and that "there is no one in all fandom with so acrimonious and vitriolic tongue as you." In the April Warp, Warren Baldwin remarks that I am "one of those columnists who delight in taking pokes at everybody."
And in the April TNFF, Bob Johnson (who calls himself "Fanland's Louella Parsons", of all things!) presumably has this columnist in mind when he writes the following tirade: "ONIONS: To a certain radical [!!] columnist who is spouting about a great deal of nothing-in-particular toward many well-known N3Fans (he is quite adept at name-calling, also) which although most fen realize his patter is of the least in consequence, manages to besmirch the talked-about fan's character, even though their records are unblemished ..."
If Louella really refers to the columnist (a point on which there exists considerable doubt), I will have to enter a plea of not guilty. In the ten previous installments of this column, I have made only four "attacks" or reasonable facsimiles thereof on any individuals. These were the "Open Letter to August Derleth" in the May 1949 column; a small item on Russell Harold Woodman in June 1949; and two "buyers beware!" paragraphs in August and December 1949. None of these "attacks" were personal ones. Derleth was "attacked" because I believed (and still believe) that his publishing plans included too much crud not worthy of hard covers. Woodman was "attacked" because of certain comments he made in Proteus. The book dealers were "attacked" in the "buyers beware!" items because of their profiteering tactics.
Most of "File 13's" lurid reputation for "knocking" (or "nocking") comes, I think, from its various comments on certain trends in science-fictiondom -- not from any attacks on any poor N3Fans. For instance, "File 13" several times has criticized book publishers for hard-covering anything, no matter how stinky it is, if it qualifies as science fiction. Except for the above mentioned "Open Letter" to Derleth, none of these comments were directed at any particular person. They were directed, rather, at publishers of stf in general. More of this sort of "attacking" can be expected here.
Matter of fact, "File 13" will probably go on much as before, composed mostly of cheerful and uncritical comments on matters of interest to fans. I don't even contemplate, just now, any attacks on Fanland's Louella Parsons. There's your first exclusive, Ella!
FAMOUS FAN FOUND OUT! Immediately upon purchasing Rog Phillips' latest paperback yarn, Century Book #124, 25¢, called Worlds Within, I dropped a note to the story's hero. The other day I received this reply: "Ah, Redd me pal, I see Rog has let me secret out of the bag, like the dastardly cuss that he is! Now all fandom must know of me intrepid adventures in the worlds within. No longer can I mask me true identity of Lin Carter, engineer, adventurer, and research scientist, beneath my fannish guise. Me secret is out! (Frankly, Redd I had no warning of Rog's little joke until I got your card and went out to buy the damned thing and see for myself. Am undecided whether it's a gag or an error, but anyway it sure is fun!" Signed -- LIN CARTER, 1734 Newart St. South, St. Petersburg, Florida.
Lin should be made to produce Edona, the girl with the rich blond hair and dark-lashed blue eyes, and bring her to the Norwescon!
LIMBO-BOUND. The Spring 1950 Fanscient contains a "Quiquiz" by James R. Adams on "Colorful Titles," which enables me to discard a "Colorful Quiz" which has reposed in my files for two or three years. Though it doesn't duplicate any of the questions in Adams' quiz it does follow almost the same idea. Before I toss it out, I might as well use it here:
(1) What famous stf novelist wrote novels with "White,", "Gold", "Purple" and "Green" in the titles?
(2) Supply the color to complete these titles: (a) "Stone from the ______ Star"; (b) World of the ______ Sun"; (c) "The _____ Flamingo"; (d) "The _____ Star Passes"; (e) "The _____ Asteroid".
(3) Name the hair-color of these famous stf heroines: (a) Clarissa MacDougall Kinnison; (b) Margaret of Urbs; (c) Aladoree.
Answers later in this department -- if I can find them. I don't have the answers listed.
TAKE IT EASY, BEA! In the April Spacewarp Bea Mahaffey states that this columnists "labors under a misapprehension" concerning my remarks about convention financing. She says that I "accused the Cincy bunch (of which I was one) of walking away from the convention with approzimately $300 that the fans 'contributed in good faith'". Evidently Bea refers to my remarks in the December Spacewarp which appeared under the title "The Fantasy Boys Over The Rhine", though I do not believe I used the phrase 'contributed, in good faith' in that discussion. At any rate, I fear it Bea Mahaffey who labors under a misapprehension.
I did not accuse the Cincy bunch of "misuse of convention funds", as she terms it elsewhere in her letter. My only point in my commentary was that it seems a strange way of rewarding a sponsoring group for their time and effort in staging a convention by awarding them a slice of the profits to be used for "furthering fan activity in the city". The $300 given the Cincy gang certainly has not intensified fan activity there; to my knowledge, not a single item has been published by the CFG since Labor Day, and if past performances are any indication, we probably won't see any activity in Cincinnati till a new, young group appears.
I have no quarrel with the Cincy people because they got a portion of the profits -- they deserved it, certainly -- and I did not imply, or didn't mean to, that there was any skullduggery involved in handling the apportionment of that $900 melon. But I trust the Cincy gang used their $300 for something more sensible than a mimeograph. If they were wise, they've spent it all on Barbarrosa Beer long ere this.
NOTES THAT MISSED MY WASTEBASKET. The Saturday Review of Literature for 1 April 1950 reports on Fritz Leiber's Gather, Darkness! (Pelligrini & Cudahy, $2.75) in a capsule review as follows: "Science fiction villainies in Second Atomic Age city of Megatheopolis, with golderndest Buck Rogers trappings ever thunk up! ..... Some stories in this odd genre hold interest by depiction of somewhat possible, though terrifying, futures. This one is nuts." # News reports on the death of Edgar Rice Burroughs stated that the '74-year-old ERB left 15 unpublished novels, and in the next sentence reported that a movie producer said he's contracted to make 15 more Tarzan films. I wonder if it's possible that the newspaper wire-service got the movie-maker's announcement first, and merely jumped to the conclusion that there were 15 unpublished novels, on the theory that each Tarzan film is based on one Burroughs novel? Did ERB really leave 15 unpublished manuscripts? # Marion Zimmer Bradley says it's so flat in the part of Texas she's living in -- the region called the Giant's Pool Table -- that in building Levelland they had to run a survey line 14 miles to find out which way the water was going to drain. # Minority report on Other Worlds: It seems to me Palmer's magazine still has not acquired a "character" of its own that would convey an overall effect. Most good magazines achieve this character with their very first issue -- Planet Stories, for example. At best, OW is merely a slightly improved Amazing, and while I like it better than I liked the Palmer-edited Ziff-Davis product I don't feel that Palmer has provided us with 35¢ worth of reading material in any issues so far. # A Navy man speaking on the radio has come up with a good reason for not "scrapping the navy", as he terms it. "We were sorry we scrapped the navy in 1923," he warned solemnly. Isn't this a place where semantics might help, Towner? # "Stay tuned for the program, 'Trail of the Rockets,'" the TV announcer said from behind the test pattern the other afternoon. Oh joy! Science fiction? No, merely a half-hour goshwowoboyoboy commercial for Oldsmobile.
COME OUT FROM BEHIND THAT BEARD! This is an item intended for my column in Science Fiction News Letter, but since it seems I won't get a chance to use it there in the near future, I'll put it in here:
I've long been an admirer of Robert Bloch, and, since he said a kind word about my BNL column, perhaps I shouldn't say a mumbling word about this matter. But my eyebrows began climbing when I read the comments attributed to him in the last BNL, and I wonder who has assumed Block's name. Is it really Robert Bloch himself who comments about the Cinvention photos of "goons wearing beanies, false beards and Buck Rogers blasters"? Is it really Robert Bloch who declares that it does fandom harm to publicize the "screwball adolescent fringe"? Robert Bloch, the king of gag photographs?
Why I remember some pictures a few years ago in a magazine called Smiles. There was a rather hideous burlesque of science fiction in that issue I remember -- a spread of gag photos under the caption "Lets Look at the Future". And who do you suppose lurked behind the grotesque makeup, the long white wig and goulish grin, of the main figure in these photos? Robert Bloch!
Tell us this, Bob: Do you think this "glimpse into 1950", replete with false beards and Buck Rogers blasters, did science fiction any good? Or did it, perhaps, do just as much harm as you allege the Cinvention photos of "goons wearing beanies" did?
COLORFUL QUIZ ANSWERS. (1) John Taine. The novels were "The White Lily", The Gold Tooth, The Purple Sapphire, and Green Fire.
(2) (a) "Stone from the Green Star"; (b) "World of the Red Sun"; (c) "The Blue Flamingo"; (d) "The Black Star Passes;" (e) "The Golden Asteroid".
(3) (a) Red. (b) Black -- "so black that it glinted blue". (c) "Rich brown".
SEARLES TO EDIT SPACEWARP? A passage from Sam Moskowitz's "The Immortal Storm" that keeps haunting me, though it appeared in a long ago installment, occurred in SaM's description of the early LASFS, or rather the LASFL and its famous fanzine Imagination! SaM tells how Charles Hornig, former Wonder managing editor, visited Los Angeles one time and caused something of a furor by guest-editing an issue of Imagination! That the furor was the result of Hornig's discarding of various neotric effects carefully cultivated by Mirta Forsto, suc as Ackermanese and simplifyd spelng, is immaterial to me -- the guest-editorship alone intrigues me.
It is seldom indeed that such a thing has been done in fandom. Except for Shangri-LA, which has been edited in rotation by various LASFS members,examples of guest-edited fanzines are almost non-existent. This is strange, for the possibilities of such switches are numerous and exciting. Imagine Burbee editing The National Fantasy Fan, or Coslet editing Light, or Laney editing ATOTE!
Of course, none of these luscious examples of guest-editing are likely to take place, and furthermore such switches wouldn't actually work very well. In the case of such individzines as ATOTE, where most of the material is the editor's own, a guest editor would have to provide this material, thus turning the magazine into a publication resembling the original editor's only in title. But on subscription fanzines such as Spacewarp, Gorgon, Fanscient, Dawn, or Fantasy Commentator, a plan of guest-editorship might be interesting enough.
Say that A. Langley Searles was invited to edit Spacewarp, and accepted the assignment. Art Rapp would turn over his backlog to Searles, and forward any manuscripts he received between issues. Searles would then select the material he wanted to use, and would also be free to solicit manuscripts for Spacewarp from Fantasy Commentator contributors, if he chose, or from others. He would then assemble the issue, stencil it, and send the stencils to Rapp for publication.
It is safe to say that Spacewarp's guest-edited issue would resemble none of its predecessors. It might look like a bastard edition of Fantasy Commentator, or it might be a fanzine such as never seen before. In any case, the result would be interesting. Just as intriguing is the prospect of a Fantasy Commentator edited by F. Towner Laney -- would he go back to his Acolyte facet or would FC resemble Fan-Dango that issue? -- or a Gorgon edited by Rick Sneary, or a Fanscient edited by Arthur H. Rapp.
Just for the novelty of it, I'd like to see some well-established subzine try out the guest-editorship idea in a future issue. It should be quite a project!
THE STF WEIRDIST AGAIN. As those of you know who received the February Spacewarp, this column's great friend and supporter, the Stf Weirdist, is back again. This person sent a letter to me and a copy thereof to Rapp, who printed his remarks in the February "Quien Sabe?" As you will remember, this time he revealed that his original letter was meant merely to stir up some excitement in this magazine. The Weirdist said I disappointed him, that I was, in his words, "a failur", because I failed to blow my top, but answered the Stf Weirdist's tirade in a courteous manner.
The Weirdist claims that I, "and lots of others wanted to profit off of the proz and when you couldn't you blazed away" and he asks me to reply and "justify" myself.
Well, I don't know exactly what you mean, Mr. Weirdist, by profiting off the prozines. Do you mean selling stories to the magazines? If that has been my motive -- a frustrated author complex -- in blasting away at this and that in science fiction, then it is strange that I haven't submitted a batch of stories to the pro editors and collected a bunch of rejection slips. Matter of fact, my only attempt at selling science fiction occurred quite a few years ago, and I haven't sent a single manuscript to any stf editor during my present career in fandom. Or do you mean buying and selling back issue magazines? I have sold a few duplicate issues now and then, but I've never attempted to set myself up as a dealer. In short, as far as I remember, I have never profited financially from my association with fandom, and have never tried.
My only motive, or at least conscious motive, in "blazing away" at things that gripe me is to improve an activity that I enjoy, namely, fan activity and the reading of science fiction.
What things in science-fictiondom gripe me? Well, the juvenile antics of the Stf Weirdist are a good example of a target I enjoy blazing away at. The Weirdist's asinine attempts to stir up controversy are in the same reprehensible category as Farnham's attempts in 1948 to cause some excitement in fandom by igniting the absurd feud in Science Fiction International, or that even sillier and more synthetic fuss in Light after the Torcon, when Dr. and Mrs. Keller used a very thin pretext for jumping on Sam McCoy and Les Croutch for "inaccurate" reporting of one of the Doc's convention speeches.
I am moved to wonder exactly what the Stf Weirdist's motives are in trying to cause a war in fandom? I suspect Freud might be interested. I wonder if the Stf Weirdist has ever talked with a psychiatrist?
The Weirdist states, "Not even to pleeze Watkins could you, if you dared, 'unmask Stf Weirdist', and whuts more, you never will." File 13 is at present conducting an investigation concerning the Weirdist's identity, and if the Weirdist cares -- and dares -- to write me again, I am certain that this letter will furnish the necessary corroborative evidence needed to provide a positive result.
In the next Spacewarp, File 13 may be able to lift your mask, Mr. Weirdist. Speak right up!
- END -
Text versions by Judy Bemis, page scans by Judy Bemis and Kim Huett
Data entry by Judy Bemis
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