Frankly, when I first told Art I'd write him a column each and every month, I did so with some misgiving. I figured there wouldn't be enough material for me to have something to speak upon. Fearing I'd be lost for want of something to write, I became material-conscious and picked up the habit of making notes. Now I fear that I will not suffer from the lack of material -- but from the lack of space! There are so many things about which I could gab for countless paragraphs that I am forced to pick out that which is most interesting to me and hope that it will be most interesting to you, too.

Have you seen a copy of Manly Banister's Nekromantikon? If you have, you know that it is a little giant among fanzines. If you haven't, then right now is a good time to send Manly two bits and request a copy. The address is 1905 Spruce St. Kansas City 1, Missouri. This magazine comes closer to equaling a professional journal than any fanzine I've seen. It is slanted toward the supernatural and weird, but don't let that fact dissuade you from begging, borrowing or stealing, or even buying, a copy. One story in the first issue, "The Humling," by a young lady author who signs herself M. Houston, is definitely slated for the anthologies. It is a good yarn, it is an enthralling, entertaining and unique yarn. Banister is probably still licking his chops over the fact that he got it before some prozine snapped it up. So it isbound to be just a matter of time before some anthologist sees it and snaps it up. Are you listening, Messers Wollheim, Derleth and Boucher? The first one of you who picks up "The Humling" for reprinting will bless the day you beat the others to it! (Though The Nekromantikon is copyrighted, Banister automatically assigns the copyright to the individual author. So it should be easy for an anthologist to pick up any material that strikes his fancy.)

The Nek invites material. But in order to keep the quality high, Manly insists on the right to reject any or all scripts submitted. Therefore, if you plan to write one, enclose stamped, addressed envelope for the return of same. One thing, though: if a rejected script shows any promise at all, Banister will personally offer a complete criticism -- and invite you to re-submit the rewrite. He rejected one of my stories with a plan of re-write that taught me more about writing than anything I've learned in the twenty or so years that I've devoted to the subject. (A plug: He accepted the re-write, which should be in issue number 2, due in May.)

For would-be writers: a note in the Writer's Journal for February, defining the requirements of Super Science Stories, ends with the following in capital letters: "ESPECIALLY SEEKS MATERIAL FROM NEW WRITERS." Or words to that effect. I've stored the paper away someplace and I'm too lazy to look it up to ascertain the exact wording.

If you don't habitually read the Reader's Digest, may I point out that you should try to obtain a copy of it for March, 1950? (Probably find it at your local library). There are several articles in it that the stf fan shouldn't miss. The important one is a preview by Fulton Oursler of Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky's new book, Worlds in Collison. Another one is "How to Make an Atom Bomb" by J.A. Campbell, condensed from Harper's Dec 49 issue. (According to the Digest, "Dr. J worked from 1943 to 1945 on Manhattan Project research at the University of California. He has written often for technical journals.")

Another article of interest is "Must Our Pork Remain Unsafe?" by Laird S. Goldsborough. This goes into some technical stuff on the threat of Trichinosis and should appeal to the stf reader who is interested in all branches of science. (There's a plot for a good, original stf story in this article and I was intending to mention it when I began this paragraph. But I'm a selfish soul, so I will write it myself!)

Seems that the two bit books -- the only kind I can afford -- are leaning more and more to stf. Comes now Judy Merrill's Bantam Book A Shot In The Dark, which contains selections from Astonishing Stories, Stirring Science, Planet, TWS, SS, Colliers, Saturday Evening Post -- I think -- not to mention several off-trail selections from Poe and Wells. Pretty good.

When I was a kid -- too long ago -- I used to especially enjoy western yarns. I read all the better western magazines, saw all the better western pictures, ransacked the public library for hard-backed western books. I never missed a chance to read anything written by Zane Grey or William McLeod Raine or Walt Coburn. Also high on my list of favorites was a guy by the name of Max Brand. I didn't know it at that time but I probably overlooked some swell stuff by Max, because he was probably the only pulpster who ever lived who had more pen names than Henry Kuttner. His real name was Frederick Faust, but I don't remember reading anything under that name. What I'm leading up to, though, is that he was a swell fantasy author. Under the disguise of George Challis, he wrote "The Smoking Land" which A. Merritt's Fantasy Magazine has just reprinted. The moment I read it, I liked it. Though it is another priestess-in-the-lost-land story, it has a charm about it that places it on my list of all-time favorites that raises the name of Max Brand just a few steps higher on my totem pole of fine authors. Read it and see if you don't enjoy it too.

This H-bomb scare is really spreading across the nation. Scientists say that such a bomb could release enough radioactive dust to kill every living person and thing on the face of the globe. Bet Sam Merwin's, John Campbell's, Paul Payne's and Ray Palmer's and the other stf editors' in-coming baskets are even now piled high with mss. about the end of the world via H-bomb. Bet that three or four months from now, every magazine will carry stories and/or articles dealing with some phase of H-bomb activity. It will be interesting to watch developments. Personally, I do not think that the bomb will be nearly as black as newspaper rewrite men paint it. After all, scientists, be they military or pacifists, want to live, too. I doubt that even radicals, like those who work for Uncle Joe, would go so far as to create a monster that would destroy the entire world. Men have dreamed of such things since Frankenstein, and many have been the stf stories woven about such a plot, but I still have my doubts. People are human and people like to live. Still, only time will tell!

H. Longhammer's Hammerings:

An H-bomb may blow us all to atoms, but don't worry about it. After all, you will be too dead to know!

- END -



Text versions and page scans Judy Bemis

Data entry by Judy Bemis

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