Issue 19
Volume 5 Number 3
April 2000

In This Issue

 •  Contents
 •  Cover Illustration
 •  Editorial
 •  <plokta.con> Programme
 •  Wadde Hadde Dudde Da
 •  Ken MacLeod: An Appreciation
 •  Up the Walls of the World
 •  Lokta Plokta
 •  Photos from the Plokta Vaults

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The Plokta News Network. News and views for SF fandom

The Plokta SF convention, from 26-29 May 2000.

[Plokta Online]

Lokta Plokta

Jo Walton (channelling Sasha)

[...referring to the Saturday Evening Plokta cover...]

It was a very thought-provoking cover.

Here are some of the thoughts it provoked, quasi-quotes because I didn't write it down at the time and I haven't checked this back. My answers are easily deduced:

"~Why is it called the Saturday Evening Plokta? It isn't Saturday. Well why is the Saturday Evening Post called that? Why Saturday? Is it still going? Can you get it? Have you ever got it? Have Alison-and-Steven-and-Marianne ever got it? Well why did they call it that then? Well I don't think it's funny, so why do they? I don't think I'd think it was funny when I'm grown up. I don't think I'd have thought it was funny when I was only three. Did you see the picture of Marianne on the cover? Is Thingy pretending to be a doctor? Is Mike pretending to be a doctor then? Why is Mike pretending to be a doctor? They don't usually have that on the cover, do they? What do they usually have on the cover? Mike Abbott doing what? Can I have the Pat McMurray paper dolls? I'll be careful with them. Can I borrow the scissors? Have you finished reading that Plokta? When are you going to put it away then? Oh, when is the con? Am I going? Where's Leicester? Can we look in the atlas then? That's in Britain! Is it an Eastercon? Oh, of course not. Oops. Where is Eastercon? Where's Minneapolis? Well, it's bigger than Leicester. Hey, can we read the Saturday Evening Post in Minicon? I still don't understand about the Saturday Evening bit. Why Saturday? Why Evening? Well why don't you know? I think it should all have been explained a bit better.~"

Illo of alien signing document

Kate Schaefer

I want to know where Marianne got her lizard lollipop, and can I get one like it anywhere around here?

Kate Schaefer (again)

I attempted for quite some time to read this issue of Plokta with the staples on the left, which worked, but seemed subtly wrong. I then read it with the staples on the right, which also worked, and also seemed subtly wrong, but in a different way. Is all that Japanese, correct, or merely decorative?

Ann Green

Have requisite photos of Dr K L Maund (x3) almost wearing some nifty rubber gear. Must be good as surrounded by drooling lesbians.

Steve Green

Intrigued to note Giulia and Steve have settled for a bed which "would not have looked out of place on the original Starship Enterprise". Okay, so these served Jim Kirk's 22nd century bachelor pad well enough (plenty of inertia-dampeners, I guess), but surely they should have upgraded to the 23rd century models, which are the only things to tempt the anal-retentive stuffed shirts out of their bleeding Star Fleet uniforms. Ghod only knows what extras their beds come with...

Illo of bagel with locs

Eric Lindsay

I fear that all the Japanese banners you folks are wearing read "I am a failed kamikazi pilot", or "Eat more whales", or various similar sentiments of a like nature.


Thank you very much for the novelty pack of Chinese characters you so kindly sent me on the front of the new issue of Plokta. It is very kind of you. I was beginning to worry that I would not have a total superfluity of things in said characters to try and transcribe in my life. On receipt of your fanzine I reached at once for my battered copies of the Pocket Oxford Chinese English English Chinese Dictionary, Gam's Chinese Radical Dictionary, Matthews Chinese-English Dictionary, Cowles' Pocket Dictionary of Cantonese, and Yip's Essential Chinese Grammar and experienced that familiar rush.

So far I have transcribed: the subtitles of the first 14 episodes of Taiwanese historical drama show Jiang Shan Mei Ren (Kingdom and Beauty); several bean bags; parts of the Chinatowns of London, San Francisco and New York; parts of several restaurant menus; the label of a bottle of Shaoxing wine; the names of a number of ferries operating between Hong Kong island and Kowloon; the backs of two collectable Yes! cards featuring wholesome-yet-sexy Cantonese boy-band Feng Huo Hai; the lyrics to the chorus of 'Feng Huo Hai' by, well, Feng Huo Hai; parts of several Cantonese magazine articles about popular martial arts star Yuen Biao; parts of a Japanese magazine article using Chinese characters alongside Japanese script about said popular martial arts star, and; Dave Weddell.

I hope to be able to get to your useful selection of Chinese characters used to transliterate Japanese sometime in the year 2002, after I have finished the remaining 40 episodes of Jiang Shan Mei Ren, the full lyrics of Feng Huo Hai, the rest of London Chinatown, and those sections of the Cantonese magazine articles which use characters unique to the writing of Cantonese.

You bastards!

Gail Courtney & Sue Mason
Is there a gynaecologist in the house?

Colin Greenland

Subject: atkolP

Fanzine backwards confusing the for thanks. I'm afraid I ignored the signification of the staples and started at the back. After p14 I was all set to write and tell you that literally nubile means 'marriageable', despite the entire remoteness of matrimony from the minds of most people who use the word these days. When I finally reached p2 I found you'd got there before me.

My respect for Anne McCaffrey soared (well, it did, relatively) when she told me how she responded when a member of her fan club asked her permission to found in reality the church she describes in her Dragon books. The Church of the Original Egg? Something like that. Anyway, AM directed the club to expel him and refund his membership forthwith. Proving she had one marble left, I think.

I don't know, tho. If the proliferation of idiot churches helps erode the religious impulse, I suppose I should be all for it. In my own deeply irreligious impulse, I'm beset on all sides. Susanna's dad was a missionary, her mother sings in choirs, my parents have taken to singing grace before meals, and my brother's the vicar of Braithwell. Somebody Up There is taking the piss.

Ploktemon, eh? Our friend Toby says that Pokemon may be supposed to stand for 'Pocket Monsters', but actually stands for 'Pocket Money'.

Pamela Boal

Only you would have the quickness of mind to create cover and contents to account for the fact that you had accidentally produced your zine back to front.

Ben Yalow

I was particularly amused by the article about beds, and the description of Steve and Giulia's new one. But that's because there's a terrible commercial here for a moveable bed (or actually, a line of moveable beds) from a company called "Craftmatic". The constant theme is that these beds are no more expensive than regular beds, and fix back problems, let you sleep better, cure every disease known to man... all on the cheap. They've even got a bargain line, at half the price of their regular line.

And they've got this terrible commercial, which they constantly run on late night CNN, and during basketball games on cable (which I try to watch), so I hear it several times a day. After constantly having the narrator explain how the beds cost up to 50% less than other beds, we finally get an actor calling the operator to request information. And he says, "I'd like your new catalog, and 50% less information."

Paul Barnett

Many thanks for the latest edition of Plokta and the fishy colour supplement -- much appreciated by both Pam and myself... although it should be pointed out that there are two essential components to the ideal bagel-and-lox, the other one being the bagel. New York bagels are regarded as being the best in the USA (which obviously means, in this land of the World Series, the best in the world), with various bakeries vying for the Best of the Best title. Pam is far more of an expert on this than I am; if you'd like technical details I shall ask her to supply them.

Colin Fine

The Bradford Curry house is an institution different from a Balti house. You come in and get paper napkins, jugs of water and dishes of salad and mint sauce automatically (in some, poppadums as well); your order includes chapattis (or naan or rice if you insist) in the price; and you can still have two courses and get change from a fiver. Of course you don't get things like tablecloths or cutlery (unless you order a biryani). None of these are licensed -- some will let you bring booze in and some won't (and some will except in Ramadan). There are a few that have gone a bit upmarket -- you have to order your chapattis or whatever separately, and you get tablecloths and cutlery. I rather like these for a change, but they're not real Bradford Curry houses.

'Almond Cordial with Fungus' -- so all you fungivores have now tumbled to the fact that fungus is intrinsically revolting.

Crayons of Doom Ned Brooks

This zine is beginning to look like a fannish cross between Fortean Times and Weird NJ — though neither of those zines have yet thought to imitate the Japanese and put the pages in reverse order — I am grateful you didn't follow through with text top-to-bottom and then right-to-left!

I do have both orange and blue corflu — alas I do not use nail varnish. But I don't think it would ever set hard enough for that purpose — it was meant to be re-typed on after all, it doesn't set harder than the original stencil. Nor would it make a very good glue, as it is more in the nature of a wax. The aromatherapy idea (did you get this from Keith Walker?) might be hazardous — I think the corflu solvent is carcinogenic. Or maybe not — I checked one bottle of RexRotary Pink (a rather orangy pink, probably phenolphthalein) and it smells like ether to me. I also have Precision (made by Starkey in LaGrange IL) which is green; and Man-O-War (made by Ronnie Inc.) which is blue. I bought the RexRotary stuff new, the Precision was found in a thrift store, and the Man-O-War (with some stencils) was liberated from the back of a government supply cabinet, many years after NASA got rid of its last mimeo.


Idle thought of perennial probs of getting enough decent beer for a con.

Re: Beer. Re: The continuing battle to convince each hotel that we really will drink the amount we say we will. Since each hotel staff always knows better than us since they're professionals (snicker-snicker-snicker) and we're just sci-fi fans, is it a reasonable idea to get a statement of how much beer was drunk at a convention from the organisers and then hand this sacred text onto the organisers of the next con at the handover ceremony in the form, say, of a ceremonial scroll... this builds up year by year, as a sacred documentation of alcoholism... Each to be presented (with relevant phone number) to the next hotel's Beer Ordering Resident Expert as credentials. I'm rather thinking here of the sort of lovely note the bar manager of the last Wincon ran off for us -- entirely unasked -- to state how impressed he was at our capacity (Yes; I have a copy and I suspect I'm not alone). I rather wonder if some beer obsessive might like the preposterous title of 'Holder of the Sacred Testimonials To Con Alcoholism' or some such... Or, does this already exist in some arcane corner of Smoffdom?

Rupert and fleshpots
Rupert gasps and shields his eyes
From wanton maids with naked thighs

Andrew Plotkin

I was delighted to receive your Plokta. The letter-column was fascinating, particularly the way my name kept appearing all over it.

I will make the (presumptous, certainly) assumption from this observation that my maple research project appeared in some earlier issue of Plokta. Volume 5, number 1, I suppose — as all the earlier issues are up on the web site, and it's not in any of them. I expect 5/1 will follow its predecessors to the Net (another assumption, true, but one must have one's faith) and I look forward to reading it. I worry about my name being spelled right.

Not, of course, that I didn't know my Aceracean escapades would come up in some Plokta form or another. It seems only, ooh, well, I can't remember when it was that I received very kind email from one Alison Scott (if that is her name) asking permission to print it. I agreed, but with a vague sense that it would appear in the vague future. Certainly not the now.

If this is the future, I'd like a different one, please. Doesn't the future come in five colors?

However, I think I must comment on these locs. ("Letters of comment", that. Amazing what one can discover on the Internet.)

Everyone seems to have missed the basis of my effort, which was that I don't have any damn maple mead. I have no brewing equipment. I have no skills to use such. I don't — well, I do know people who claim to make mead, but when I go look it's all just a bunch of urns and bubbling tubes, and that can't be right. And they insist so loudly that nothing has exploded. Recently. [Watch for maple mead recipes next ish].

Other questions, in brief:

"In transit" — from Pittsburgh to North Carolina. A mistake, and the stock price has been descending monotonously since my feet hit North Carolingian soil. Where do I keep my tongue? In my mouth, more's the pity. "Confusion of consonant clusters" — I'm famed for them, m'dear. Want some Glulx? "Drink the bourbon" — I don't drink alcohol. And don't get on my case; remember that I started with Graydon Saunders's Chocolate Elk recipe, and he doesn't eat chocolate.

EB Frohvet

Nice to know that Giulia is nubile. Never doubted it for a minute, Giulia. It reminds me of the moment in Rob Reiner's The Sure Thing, when the Professor, in critiquing a student's paper, adds as an afterthought, " 'Nubile' by the way is spelled with a U."

Joseph T Major

Marianne is really delighted, because she hasn't really worked out the full enormity of it yet. Aha! Coming Soon To A Cinema Near You: PLOKTA: Omen IV! The thrilling story of the birth of the Second Son of Satan! See The Cat Possessed By A Moose Demon! See The Scientific Genius Fighting Unspeakable Evil! See The Modiste Consumed By Satin That Became Satan! You'll Thrill, You'll Chill, at... PLOKTA: Omen IV! (Contains material unsuitable for anyone.)

Milt Stevens (what is it with these LAans anyway?) discusses the joys of harassing one's cats by sticking socks to them. This sort of behaviour results in the cats harassing their slaves by sticking to them, and claws are a lot more... interesting... than static cling. Also, they know where we sleep.

Kevin Sorrell looks like he could use a few cans of Spam.

Jerry Kaufman

I await such future issues as the New Music Express version, the Hebrew version, and so forth. There's always new magazines to parody, too, such as Oprah Winfrey's new mag, entitled (if I recall correctly) O, and seemingly devoted to her and the sort of soul-searching questions she asks on her show. (I believe you'd have to call your version A.)

Brave attempt to reproduce one of Mae Strelkov's heckto scenes. I'll have to check your website to see if you've got it there in color. I'll also have to see what Amanda Baker looks like in leather -- the photo in the zine betrays only the slightest gloss of shiny cow hide below her elbow.

No other comments this time, so I'll wish you a fun and fancy-free plokta.con.

James Bacon

Aliens Stole My Handbag is scheduled for 30th to 2nd of July next year in the Shepperton Moat House hotel in Surrey. This convention will be testing the limits of what is considered a science fiction convention. One of the events over the course of the weekend will be a convoy of military vehicles crammed with attendees leaving for Woking. There we will be going to the sandpit where HG Wells started War of the Worlds. This will also be the site of a multiple rocket launch. Any excuse for a jaunt in a chieftain tank.

Jane Barnett

Please find enclosed a diagram of a glamorous tent as worn by my mother to parties whilst heavily pregnant. (Please note the term diagram: I'm not good at drawing real stuff except clothes, and I couldn't find a good picture of a heavily pregnant woman to trace.) The original is gold, worn with a black band, and is now lost. Having tried it on I find the outfit is dead comfy, especially if made of silk. It might be worth noting, that this was in 1977 and may no longer be quite the thing.

Tips on Christmas dinner: don't have turkey. Have salmon. It's easy to cook, good cold, and if it won't fit in the oven, you can fold it.

On Corflu: I spent months cursing the name of the loon who had ordered twenty bottles of bloody pale green corflu at work before discovering that the green top and appellation "Aqua" actually meant water-based, environmentally friendly, non-addictive type corflu, in white, not green.

Can't think of anything else, except that this should really be an essay on Evariste Galois and not an utter displacement activity, so that's all for now. Fuelled by Starbucks and run-up to exam terror.

Martin Morse Wooster

I don't know why Vicki Rosenzweig finds the deep-fried Mars bar so objectionable. I have in fact seen the very chip shop where this masterful treat was concocted; it's in North Warwick, Scotland, about a block away from a toilet that was awarded the coveted Loo of the Year award by the British Toilet Association. And in the intense global competition to unite all the food groups into a single product, the deep-fried Mars bar ensured a temporary triumph for Scotland, since the bar needs only the addition of beer to provide a complete balanced meal. However, the Scots have been outclassed by the masterminds at our local Xando coffeehouse chain, who discovered that if you made a beverage with milk, ice cream, Kahlua, and espresso, you have a drink that unites all the food groups into a single delicious beverage (at only $7.50 a glass, such a deal).

Unlike Kim Huett, I don't own a copy of Cooking With Fat. But I do have a copy of The Bad For You Cookbook, a 1993 masterpiece which has many recipes with butter, sugar, fatty cuts of meat, etc. The authors got celebrities to contribute recipes, including Martha Stewart, who contributed a recipe for "one very large pashka". The authors admitted they didn't know what a pashka was, precisely, but they liked the "very large" part, so the recipe was included.

Based on Joseph T Major's rule that fen like snakes, I'll have to conclude that I'm semi-mundane. I certainly enjoy petting snakes, and have a Polaroid of me holding a python on display at a ratty little circus that visited Silver Spring. But I draw the line at feeding snakes. I once housesat for a family that had a pet snake, and was shown the frozen skinned mice that I was to feed the reptile. I could not bear to watch the snake consuming his daily treat, so I spent each morning throwing the snake into the terrarium, closing the lid, and loudly announcing "Snake yummies! Time for snake yummies!" I never looked, but was assured that the snake did indeed consume the mice that were given him.

In 1988 I was on a European Union junket where I visited unemployment and welfare offices and Dave Langford. In Brussels, I was taken to lunch by officials of the EU Social Insurance directorate at a very good Italian restaurant. For dessert, we had zabaglione, a word that couldn't be translated into Danish. So the Danes call a zabaglione "Ein Calorie-Bomb".

"Do you think Martin Morse Wooster reads ALT tags?"

Martin Morse Wooster (again)

Many thanks for Plokta 18. I've never tried almond cordial with fungus, but I do know where to buy "kidney-liver tea." Would you like a box?

About Ken's cock ring -- I first read about this amazing piece of jewellery in the Washington City Paper (our alternative paper) c. 1992. I am surprised that the news has just reached Britain. But then, I have long maintained that Ken long ago lost interest in Barbie and was going steady with GI Joe, so obviously he has to be armed and ready.

Joseph T. Major and Steve Jeffery's recipes remind me of Winston Churchill's recipe for the proper amount of vermouth to put in a martini. Churchill went over to the vermouth bottle, stared at it, and put it back in the cabinet, and then went back to drinking gin.

Lilian Edwards

It's a really weird bunch of attendees, Plokta. I mean, Keith Mitchell? Vicki King? It's sort of 80s CUSFS meets groovy start de siècle hip post Corflu fandom. Should be very weird, I hope.

Michael Lowrey

Here in the provincial Midwest we have little idea of just what the hell an IKEA is, save that it seems to be discussed with the kind of guilt bachelors associate with Victoria's Secret catalogs, or gardeners with seed/bulb catalogs. I get a vague impression of colorful Scandinavian tchotchkes for the aging affluent ex-hippie market; am I close?

The "drunken fuckwit" (moronicus alcoholicus) is a species not unknown to these shores. I am particularly amazed, as the daddy of a 45-year-old, at your bravery in venturing forth on Y2K Eve with Marianne in tow. Still you do make it sound worthwhile.

"Kipple" is not in the American vocabulary; nonetheless, it is quite clear that the Kipple Fairy is quite trans-Atlantic (uses the Concorde, no doubt). Cicatrice and I have concluded that we dare not move, as our kipple already encompasses the equivalent of three flats.

Milt Stevens

Even before seeing the cover on Plokta #18, I knew the Japanese were enterprising folk, but how did they get you all to wear headbands reading "Drink Asahi Beer"? I won't even ask where you may have met Beefzilla.

Years ago in the Orient, I was visiting the fans in Tokyo. Since I was a visiting fan, they naturally showed me some of their local fanzine production. Without illos, I would have had a tough time determining which end was supposed to be the top. After an hour or so of looking at Japanese fanzines, they showed me some German fanzines. I found I could read German with perfect fluency. While looking at one of the German fanzines, I was thinking of commenting that it looked like a fanzine and smelled like a fanzine, but it couldn't be a real fanzine. It didn't have a letter from Harry Warner. But it did! "Arg," I exclaimed, "I'll never question the omniscience of Harry Warner again!"

Dave Langford

Latest Plokta much enjoyed, especially the splendidly daft cod-Japanese cover and stapling. Quintessentially fannish, expending all that effort for one moment of perfect silliness.

Steelhead, incidentally, is the name of the hero's mysterious magical mentor in William Morris's 1897 fantasy epic The Sundering Flood. Not a lot of people wanted to know that.

Phil and Jill Bradley

Phil: Jill, we've got to feed the Plokta again!

Jill: Oh? Why's that then?

Because the Scary Person told me to.

What Scary Person? You mean Alison? She's not scary!

Oh yes she is... when she waves a copy of Plokta at you, you just do as you're damned well told, and I've been told to feed it again.

Oh well, you'd better do it then hadn't you!

All well and good for you to say that -- you don't have to write anything!

Well -- what have they written about in the current one? That might give you some ideas perhaps?

Uh.. beds. They talk about beds.


Damn right 'Ah'. We'd better leave that one well alone... no point in telling them that our main criteria was one that we'd be able to use to tie people to it.

No, I see your point. Better not mention the new eye hooks you've put into the walls then.

No. No point in mentioning that at all. Absolutely not.

You could mention what we get up to at the weekend?

What -- you mean when we get dressed up in leather, and you get all excited and stuff?

That's right. Don't tell them about getting a motorbike, it's probably a bad idea.

OK. Well, that's three things we won't tell them about. What else shouldn't we mention?

Jill Bradley Umm. How about cutting holes in my t-shirt at Eastercon?

No, we don't need to tell them about that, though if anyone was wondering why they kept finding small circles of black fabric, that might explain it.

Small? Some of them weren't that small you know....

Well, ok. Yes, some were quite large actually. But still, as we're not going to mention it, we don't need to say what happened next do we?

No. We don't need to say anything about that at all. What else do they talk about?

Hmm. Giulia being nubile. But I'm not quite sure what to say about that, though I could say...

No. Really, that's not a good idea. You just keep your mucky fantasies to yourself.

Probably for the best.

How about telling them about the Eastercon?

They were there -- they don't need to be told about that.

Fair point; can't disagree with that.

Could we give it a saucer of milk?

What — Plokta? Don't think it drinks milk — it'd get all soggy.

Yes, it probably would, thinking about it. But we've got to tell them something for heaven's sake, else the Scary Person will come after me again at the next Eastercon!

Yes, but you'd probably quite enjoy that, wouldn't you?

Actually you know... it's an interesting thought.

So you better hadn't feed it at all in that case had you?

No, I think, all things considered, and all possible outcomes taken into account, we better hadn't feed it after all.

We Also Heard From: Bruce Pelz (with Tripe Reportcards from Karnak and Catalina Island), Jim Dewitt (who saw us in Fosfax and sent poetry which is not quite the thing for Plokta) Richard Brandt ("Plokta v5 n2 is mostly reminding me how much I missed being at Corflu"), Terry Jeeves (Nice load of LOCs, as for 'four fluids', what happened to Blog?), Tony Berry (Don't forget Dave Holmes's Magic Labyrinth in Rutland St. near the station), Lloyd Penney (I finally have the time to dive inside and see if it was worth you going to France to mail them. I guess Brussels has lost its appeal, or its mailing permit), Harry Payne (a grand example of Superfluous Technology may be found at, and Harry Andruschak.

Finally, a special mention for Steve Jeffery, who sent us a fishy tape of comment on Steelhead. Also a letter, which we've mislaid but will find for next time. The tape included "Salmon Song" by Steve Hillage, "Goldfish and Paracetamol" by Catatonia, "Halibut", by Katherine Tickell, and lots of other fishy masterpieces. We listened to it in the car on the way over. The second side contained only the studio version of "Salmon Song". "Ah, that means most of the tape will be blank," said Alison. "No" explained Steven. "We're talking about 70s progressive rock here; that track could easily be half an hour long." And so it proved. Our brains started leaking out our ears somewhere on the M4.

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