Happy March 15, all you guys and gals who owe the Income Tax man! Be honest with Uncle Sammy -- or he'll quit being your uncle and become your warden!
Until Art Rapp persuaded me to write this column, I hadn't used the title above in over 10 years. At the time the above title was born I was writing for a semi-weekly newspaper in Salisbury, North Carolina, The Carolina Watchman. Before they got around to paying me a revivalist bought the paper and couldn't use the type of stuff I wrote. But enough of the history of the title. Now, the colyume:
Art never said what he wanted me to write about each month, nor how much he wanted me to write. So I gather I'll have a pretty free hand. With Rapp only re-typing and correcting the errors of grammar and spelling -- to keep my stuff from coming out ala Sneary. This colyume will have no definite policy. We (the colyume and I) will be conservative or controversial, as the mood strikes. If we are entertaining, o.k. If not, tell Rapp and he'll cut out this space robber.
At the onset, I'd like to state I will welcome letters of comment, criticism and suggestions. Brick bats or bouquets, all are welcome. I'll discuss magazines, pro- & fan-, books, pro- & fan-. I'll discuss movies or people -- anything I feel will be of interest to science fiction and fantasy lovers. I will not indulge in any personal feuds with anyone -- unless, of course, they start them. And then only if I feel the feud will be of interest to fandom. If this column could be said to have a policy, it would be this: "Everything of interest or for the betterment of fandom ... and some things that aren't." Which allows me a fairly wide field!
You know, I'm carried away with Ray Palmer's Other Worlds. When I first heard of it, I thought it would be a continuance of the Amazing Shaver Mystery, with kindred articles. Sort of a Fate with fiction. The first copy surprised me, and I missed the second. Now comes the third. I believe Ray is going to work with fandom instead of against it. I really do. For his magazine reads almost like a fanzine. With more professional stories, of course. He is going to try and establish a fan perfect magazine, I think. Trimmed edges, good covers, good interior illos, answers to readers' questions, running requested authors ... in other words, he intends, it seems, to make a fan's magazine ... either to make money or to prove that, after all, fandom is such a minority that it can't make or break a 'zine. Prolly both.
I'm going to read Other Worlds, at least for a few issues. Seems like Palmer is going to give out with fresh yarns, written from the point of view of an adult. Maybe he will assist Campbell and Merwin in their efforts to raise the standards of stf from the Buck Rogers level to something on the level of a modern "light-heavy" novel. Also, he is giving fan artists a break. Which is something that, to my knowledge, has never been done before. Yet who could draw more suitable-to-fandom illos than fen themselves? Something no doubt overlooked by the commercial art departments of most pulps.
When Palmer was an editor at Ziff-Davis, he had to please the publisher, the advertisers, the circulation department, the art department, production department ... in fact, he had to please everybody but the reader. And the only way he could please the most people was with a high circulation. How he hit upon the Shaver stuff is a mystery deeper than that Mystery. But it pushed Amazing's circulation so high that Z-D suspended Mammoth Detective, Mammoth Adventures and Mammoth Mystery in order to give Amazing the paper. And the salary boosts and bonuses he received has undoubtedly given him the capital he needed to organize his present company. Now with Fate already a successful zine, and with Other Worlds sure to follow, he will have a free hand with OW. He will seek to pleasure only Joe Fan. If he makes, as he says, "a living," the mag will be a success. Anyway, it is a refreshing mag now and I am for it 100%. I believe Palmer is actually going to give fen a chance to edit their own zine. What's more, I think he'll make some dough at it.
Wouldn't it be nice if some of these anthologies that are crowding for ad space in the magazines used some new stuff for a change? Hell, I don't like to read fiction a few years old. It seems dated (Which is why I'm not a reader of most of the reprint zines on the market). Maybe some of the better known fen, those who have a few dollars to spend, could work out a deal with some of the better writers for some of their newest unpublished work and get out an anthology of really new stories. I believe it would sell. I really do.
I am highly in favor of the NFFF lending library that has been announced at various times, in various gazettes. Lots of guys, like myself, don't make very much dough and have wives and kids to support. I couldn't anymore buy a book costing $3.00 than I could buy an interplanetary rocket ship. But I could maybe pay postage and rental on one once in a while. There are many tantalizing titles being kicked about that I'd like to own, or at least read. But can't for lack of dough. So this NFFF lending library sounds great to me.
(If any book publishers or dealers happen to read this, and you have some musty old volumes lying about gathering dust that you would like to get rid of, donate them to the NFFF library. And if you have any you'd like reviewed, send 'em to me. I'll review them and send the review copies to the library.)
Capt. K. F. Slater is offering for sale reprint copies -- presumably paper backed -- of Thorne Smith's The Passionate Witch, The Bishop's Jaegers, etc., for $1.00 or, to N3Fers, 90¢. Of course, being in Europe, the Captain has no way of knowing that these books are generally available at any newsstand for 25¢. Very likely someone sold the Captain these books, or traded them to him, for a value of about 50¢. I mention this because it seems to be a common practice to sell fantasy and/or stf books at double their face value. Dealers both home and abroad are guilty. Don't buy any book until you have made a check to see if it is available elsewhere more cheaply. Last summer I almost sent a book dealer $1.50 for a copy of She, which I admire. While on the way to the P. O. I stopped at the local book store to buy a new ribbon for this beat up Corona. There I purchased a copy for 90¢.
Speaking of Thorne Smith, in one of his books (I forget which one) H. Allen Smith tells this anecdote. H. A. went to visit Thorne shortly after Topper became a best seller. "How does it feel to write a best-seller, and what difference in your normal life did it make?" To which Thorne replied, "It feels swell, and as for the difference ... well," he pointed to a shelf of battered books, "before I wrote a best-seller, I could tale those books around to the corner bar and hock them for a drink on the cuff. Now I can go around to the bar and get a drink on the cuff and leave the books at home."
"Science fiction ain't what it used to be in the good old daze. I ain't read a yarn in years where the hero had to get out on the outside of his rocket ship and mend a hole in the hull in order to keep air in and space out."
With which words of wisdom, I'll leave you until April showers.
Text versions and page scans Judy Bemis
Data entry by Judy Bemis
Updated June 18, 2015. If you have a comment about these web pages please send a note to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.