Zineophile(From Proper Boskonian 37)

by Bob Devney

It's hard enough to write one fanzine article or review. Writing a bunch all in a row to even a faneditor's somewhat elastic definition of a deadline (thanks for the extension, Ken) is more braindraining, timetaking, talenttesting work than many mortals can handle. (As the quality of the following column may amply demonstrate.)

So hats off, chuckies, to the intrepid souls reviewed below, who each actually put together an entire issue of good stuff. And it most cases will do it again next time, and next. Keeping on, ish after ish, for years on end. Their saintly patience, inspiring dedication, and Rasputin-like refusal to stop bothering the universe boggle us all.

Lucky the money is so fantastic.

Speaking of money -- as Ken Knabbe says, most fanzines would rather have The Usual (a letter of comment (LOC), article, art, or fanzine in trade) than cash. But if you send a few dollars, the editor(s) will usually cough up a sample issue. After that, it's up to you to keep the relationship going.


Challenger no. 3

Autumn 1995/Editor: Guy H. Lillian III/P.O. Box 53092, New Orleans, Louisiana 70153-3092/96 pages including covers/8½ x 11

This solid Big Easy zine is distinguished by big, easy-reading type in a clear two-column format, good white stock, and good clear readable prose on a number of topics.

It's no surprise Guy Lillian knows how to produce the pure quill. He boasts here of never missing a mailing in 25 years, 188 issues of the Southern Fandom Press Alliance, including editing the "greatest -- and largest -- apa mailing of all time, 1750-page SFPA 100." Note to Guy from the Zine Reviewers Union: do that again and we quit.

There's a fair amount of talk here about "Southern fandom." Enough so that I began to pine for those Southern voices to rise up off the page. Think of the flavor they'd bring to even the most ordinary sentence if this were an audiobook.

Speaking of music, one contributor here glories in the tinkling name of Binker Glock Hughes. She digs down deep for an informative piece on caving. Among myths dispelled, info dispersed: True cavers don't call it "spelunking." Bats don't get in your hair. There are caves in Mexico where at least one brand-new species of insect is discovered each visit. Some cavers help find their way back by marking an arrow and the letter "O" -- for "out." And a beautiful thousand-year-old calcite formation can be harmed by the oil on your fingers, or ruined by a single piece of graffiti.

Heart of the ish is a delish, 29-page trip report reprint by Challenger associate editor Dennis Dolbear, with delightful art by Brian (or Bryan) Norris. Subject: Dolbear's 1991 London vacation. Besides the usual museums, churches, bookstores, theaters, high tea hotels, and temples of the shopping god Spendus, Dolbear spent many happy hours in pubs and porno shops. Among his discoveries: potent local brews including Dogbolter and Theaxton's Old Peculiar, plus copious confirmation of the British fondness for leather, latex, bondage, and Clive Barker. Elsewhere, he finds T.S. Eliot's black-and-white Jellicle cats still haunting the environs of the Russell Hotel. Views Queen Anne's leather petticoats. Tells one British establishmentarian that the 32 Knights of the Garter share the world's second most exclusive honor, the first being Honorary Citizen of the United States, which in 220 years has been awarded only to Lafayette and Churchill. Visits the site where Nelson is buried ("Not Ozzie -- Horatio"). Actually gets a drink with plenty of ice in it -- from expatriate Americans, naturally. Visits the National Gallery and is struck by Gainsborough's portrait of Mrs. Siddons ("Whatta fox"). Is repeatedly forced by a drunken British fan/roommate to view the trailer for Streets of Fire. And most gloriously, hatches a plot to plant in St. Paul's cathedral, amongst all the memorials to Britain's past greats, "a suitably weathered marble plaque in some not-obvious location, inscribed 'Gen. Sir Harry Flashman, 1822-1915.'"

Challenger contains lots of good art, including professional-quality covers by Dany Frolich and Victory (Victory White). There's a sharp 5-page zine short-review column that reaches its apotheosis of acumen anent Proper Boskonian 33, the "outstanding publication of the awe-inspiring Boston club." Our blushes, Guy. Plus a solid 25 pages of letters from all over, including regular lettercol mafiosa Walt Willis, Harry Warner, Dave Langford, Buck and Juanita Coulson, and Ned Brooks -- overshadowed only by PB stalwarts George Flynn, Sheryl Birkhead, Teddy Harvia, and Lloyd Penney. A continuing theme relates to Guy Lillian's having got into a hissing contest with editor, fan, and legendary disliker Ted White. Good luck, Guy.

Also, Harry Warner bares his desolation over losing Northern Exposure. Rich Dengrove gives an historical overview of the persecution of witches, noting that the last witch execution in Germany occurred in 1775. Tom Sadler contributes a political sketch on the Contract With America, questioning the validity of a "contract" signed by only one party. Linda Krawecke pens a delightful memoir of the joys of Godzilla and the hurtfulness of valentines in the New Orleans schoolyard of her girlhood.

Editor Lillian tops that heartbreak with his tale of the lost estate of legendary local fan Harry Browning Moore, and of saving Moore's copy of the August 1928 Amazing Stories -- the issue containing 1) the first installment of Skylark of Space and 2) the first-ever Buck Rogers story -- from a rainstorm in an open carport, only to have the treasure sold away by Moore's uncaring heirs. A lawyer in the public defender's office, Lillian also gives a clear-eyed view of a recent murder trial in which he was involved, and in another piece relates in rage and sorrow his recent pilgrimage to the site of the 1970 massacre at Kent State. It seems that for Lillian, at least, reports of the death of idealism are premature.

CLF Newsletter Vol. 1, No. 1

Fall 1995/Newsletter of the Council for the Literature of the Fantastic/Editor & CLF Coordinator: Daniel Pearlman/Editorial Office: Dept. of English, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI 02881/16 pages including covers/8½ x 11

Deep waters here. With CLF Newsletter, Editor Pearlman and his associates are attempting to redefine not just fanzines, not just genre publishing and marketing, but the name of the genre itself. To wit, they offer "a public forum in which the best minds engaged in the creation, dissemination, criticism and consumption of LF, the Literature of the Fantastic, will be able to confront the question of values...put forth informed judgments...and attempt to separate living from dead...."

How are they doing so far? Not bad. That LF tag certainly brings science fiction, fantasy, and horror into one tent fairly neatly. And the serious, talented writers in this issue all seem to take the manifesto to heart.

Don D'Ammassa starts things off with an article a lot scarier than the latest Clive Barker. His title: "The Growing Censorship of the Fantastic." Censorial school boards, library review committees, and other repressionista apparats are picking up the pace, finding new encouragement in new fronts of federal censorship like the Communications Decency Act -- while increasingly targeting stuff in our dangerous little genre. Example: Bruce Coville's Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher was "temporarily removed from a school library because of 'excessive' references to the colors silver and green, which are 'associated' with satanism."

In a reprint from The New York Review of Science Fiction, author James Patrick Kelly argues that while genre boundaries are real, the idea that some genres (like for instance ours) are incapable of literary value is patently un-. Jeff VanderMeer provides a highly personal view of nine books that have changed the way he views the world, including Steve Erickson's Arc D'X, a 1993 novel about Thomas Jefferson and slavery which VanderMeer believes may be "the most important novel about America published in the last 10 years." Faye Ringel gives a glowing recommendation for Paul DiFilippo's The Steampunk Trilogy. She notes that the title is misleading and "may alienate readers who love words and history, the very readers who should seek out this book." (Sounds like the entire readership of Proper Boskonian, matter of fact.)

Kathleen Moffitt offers good reviews for three other zines, CENTURY nos. 1 & 2, Dreams from the Strangers' Cafe #4, and DownState Story vol. 3 -- my favorite moment being her incidental story of the surgeon whose supreme professional challenge involved an abdominal operation on a circus tattooed lady ("'Think about that for a minute,' he said.") And Kiersten Stevenson puts a positive spin on The Silver Web: A Magazine of the Surreal #11. Her pick for best story: "Last Rites and Resurrections," a first publication from Martin Simpson that features "witty sound-bites from road kill who possess thought-provoking insights regarding the anatomy of grief."

CLF Newsletter also has writers' market reports for the U.S. and U.K., plus offers of a CLF Trial-Pack of like-minded magazines and books at steep discounts. All stuff that strives for high quality, no question. If a serious constructive convention is a "sercon," then this is definitely a serzine.


August, 1995/A personal and science fiction fanzine/Written and published by Eric Lindsay/7 Nicoll Avenue, Ryde, NSW 2112 Australia, e-mail eric@zen.maths.uts.edu.au/14 pages including covers/A4 size, I believe (approx. 8 1/4 x 11 5/8)

Long-time Australian fan Eric Lindsay browses through a US Cavalry mail-order catalog, takes a trip to Tasmania for the annual Australian national con and some sightseeing, flicks over the burgeoning list of Australian SF authors and their new works, flashes through reviews of 47 genre books, hits the highlights of a visit by American furry fandom luminary Fred Patten, and finishes with a couple of letters and 15 brief news squibs about fannish friends worldwide.

Packs quite a bit into this crisp little zine. But with his readable two-column format on white stock (top corner stapled -- don't see many of those), friendly tone (seasoned with tartness in some reviews), and no-nonsense approach (rhetorical rhythm demands this parens, although I have nothing to say here), it never seems particularly hurried. This may be something you learn after 70-odd issues.

Perhaps Lindsay simply has a gift for the short form. Here's the entire Editorial:

"Well, this issue is late, isn't it?"

Locus and SF Chronicle have spent forests saying the same thing at greater length.

Lots of stylish incidental SF art by William Rotsler (and Sheryl Birkhead, says here, although I can't spot her stuff anywhere) plus 10 photos of fans ambushed at the con also keep things moving along nicely. Only one photo of two attendees isn't captioned. I deduce this is Lindsay, accompanied by his companion Jean Weber holding a (wooden) Tasmanian Tiger. Seems to be related to the convention: Thylacon, apparently named after the thylacine, or Tasmanian wolf. My dictionary shows an association with marsupialism in the Greek thylakos, for pouch or sack. (Speaking of dictionaries, gegenschein in physics means "reflection." In astronomy, "opposition." Those both in German. In Australian, my research suggests cognate relationship with an aboriginal phrase meaning "brains gone walkabout in dreamtime no come back never-never," or "science fiction reader."

In any case, you'd expect a gathering named the SackaCon to be in the relaxacon vein. And so says Lindsay's report it was, with just 100 attendees and a pleasantly social atmosphere. As with most British Commonwealth con reports, there are frequent references to wine and beer and late nights, plus more mentions of "the bar" than a law school picnic. Next time, why not just call it SquiffyCon or ConBrewery or InebriCon?

Lindsay found the Guest of Honor speech by Kim Stanley Robinson "unfortunately convincing," given that it was on the sustainable carrying capacity of Earth. Though no one was put off their feed for a later "excellent three-course buffet banquet, including venison and four other meats." I didn't know there were four other meats.

His reviews quickly persuade you that Lindsay doesn't care for the softer side of the genre. From his piece on Ben Bova's The Exiles trilogy, "This really is not Bova's best work, but I've been getting desperate for science fiction rather than fantasy crap." Or on Australian Beverley MacDonald's The Madigal: "The city she created six centuries ago has fallen onto evil days, with ice bears raiding, and a scheming Crown Prince. What can the Madigal do when she awakens? I didn't really care by then."

Nor for military SF. Re Midshipman's Hope, by David Feintuch: "I found the entire Napoleonic flavour of the book, and the fascist command structure, so distasteful I won't try any more in the series. David Drake and David Gerrold give favourable reviews to it (I don't buy their books either)."

PhiloSFy # 1

Dec 1995/Jan 1996/Editor and publisher Alexander R. Slate/8603 Shallow Ridge Dr., San Antonio, TX 78239-4022/16 pages including covers/5½ x 8½

When encountering a first issue, you wonder: is this the beginning of a legendary fannish institution, or just another one-shot? After all, as fanwriter Barnaby Rapaport recently pointed out with perverse pride, "Something like 90% of all fanzines never make it to a second issue."

With odds like that, might as well book ahead with a prominent failure therapist before you stuff paper in the inket.

However, in this case Editor Slate claims he's paid his dues at various other publications within Texas fandom. Including at least 5 years steadily beeping along as editor of something called Robots and Roadrunners. Perhaps we should cheer him on. As the 1997 worldcon in San Antonio draws ever closer, it could help to have a source already on-site for gossip on committee politics, top turista attractions, snakebite or chili antidotes, so on.

Perhaps not, though. The mix and style here are actually a good bit more serious than that, and (except for that Roadrunner reference) not identifiably Western at all. Don't know why that shocks or disappoints me. After all, if you turn to Proper Boskonian expecting stuff about Beacon Hill Yankees, baked beans, Gloucester fisherman, or tea parties, you'll find our starship makes surprisingly few stops in Hahvaad Yaad.

So PhiloSFy comprises an introduction to Slate's personal and fannish background, then a central and apparently eponymous first installment of a series on philosophical definitions and his personal beliefs, then six reviews of fairly recent SF books, then adios amigo. There's good use of above-average art, by Linda Michaels, Peggy Ransom, and Sherlock. The half-page small-book format and one-column layout used here always work well, and type is a good serif face of decently readable size.

Most enjoyed the piece on his background. These fanboy bios never fail to twang a companionably nerdy chord in my heart. As when Slate discusses comic books he used to read -- how long has it been since you've thought about Blackhawk or Magnus, Robot Fighter? Me too. Fun, weren't they? Slate also mentions the first book he ever purchased (and still possesses!). It's No. 11 in the series that early on blinded many of us with science: Tom Swift and the Deep Sea Hydrodome.

The philosophy segment seemed elementary and rather dry; perhaps Slate will warm up as he goes along. Half of the books reviewed are by Boston favorite Alexander Jablokov; Slate likes his stuff, thinks A Deeper Sea his best so far.

One last note, on a delicate matter. Let's just say that PhiloSFy does not feature the smoothest writing style around. Here's the first few sentences of the zine's review of Sliepnir by Linda Evans:

"Unfortunately, it looks like Ms Evans has a sequel in mind, the ending leaves it open. Okay, I've read worse. But I wouldn't have paid money for it. So what's wrong?

'There is never any doubt about what's going to happen. Major fault, though there are those who like the super-soldier bit...."

Whatever teacher told first told a student to "write like you talk" doubtless aimed to cut down on big words and rhetorical flourishes. But unless the student is Winston Churchill, I'm not sure it's always sound advice.


March 1995/Editorial staff: Garth Edmond Danielson, Jeff Schalles, Tom Juntunen/Published by the Minnesota Science Fiction Society, P.O. Box 8297, Lake Street Station, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408/72 pages including covers/8½ x 11

Rune 85 is warm, informative, and silly. I like that in a fanzine.

The warmth comes first in memoirs of two recently deceased fans. Minnesota's Lee Pelton (Rune co-editor, 1978-80) was an ardent controversialist who nevertheless made a number of good friends. Here, they send him out with style and affection. Dolly Gilliland was based in the Washington, DC area, but her talent and hospitality made an impression all over the fan world, according to her husband Alexis's fine memoir.

And for more warm memories, Dave MacDaniel reprints a 1968 speech by Ted Johnstone giving a history of the Los Angeles Science Fiction Society, 1955-61 -- complete with charming illustrations by Bjo Trimble from the original printing. For someone fairly new to fandom, only an occasional name like Forrest J. Ackerman, Ray Bradbury, Bruce Pelz, or Betty Jo Trimble herself looks faintly familiar. But Johnstone makes it clear that fannish empires rose, flourished, and fell in those days in a blur of alliances, energy, slan shacks, pubbing, snogging, charisma, character assassination, and love of life and science fiction. When Johnstone revisits his beloved Fan Hilton, now empty and awaiting demolition, I had tears in my eyes too. And I wasn't even there....

What's your fan classification? Mine would be something like PSZJ.

The idea -- one of several interesting yet deeply silly ideas in "BE-fit vs. Vegetology," by David E Romm -- is that every fan's personality revolves around these four axes: Media/Print (M/P), Fannish/Sercon (F/S), Con/Zine (C/Z), and FIAWOL/FIJAGH (Fandom Is A Way Of Life/Fandom Is Just A Goddamn Hobby) (W/J). Anytime you place in mid-axis, fill that slot with an X.

From this admirably demented beginning, Romm evolves a whole future history of religious conflicts involving fans and foodstuffs (would you believe Jews for Cheeses and Bran Davidians?). In Devney's Nutball Rating System, which this and similar pieces have just forced me to invent, definitely a four-squirrel classic.

Speaking of furry fandom, both the Ken Fletcher cover and Taral back cover are fine furry art. And while we're on the subject, Rune's type, format, and layout are all easy on the eyes. More than you can say for the squash-colored text stock and bright orange covers, which you'll find hideously difficult to conceal under other papers at the office.

Big Silly Steve Perry explains why you can't find that paper, screwdriver, or drink you put down for just a minute just a minute ago. As apparently set forth in a seminal 1929 publication Where'd It Go?: a Study in Goneology, the stuff is absorbed into and (usually) eventually returned from a pocket universe termed "The Zen Cosmic Sinkhole." Perry notes this "has been responsible for more frustration than the Documentation Division of the Microsoft Corporation." Three squirrels.

But wait, there's more. In "Tooney Loons," R.J. Johnson reviews a commercial audiotape obliviously titled NEW AGE LOON. In "They Come Out At Night, Mostly," Robert Whitaker Sirignano collects disgusting opossum stories. John C. Sulak raves about a stop on the Firesign Theater 25th Anniversary Reunion Tour. And Rick Gellman contributes 13 fair-sized and fair-minded book reviews, with top honors going to Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, Steel Beach by John Varley, and Glory Season by David Brin. Hard to argue there.

So that's the quite satisfying confection entitled Rune 85. Top off with whipped cream (a hefty letter column with fine contributions from locals and the usual international belletrists) and garnish with -- a dusty stuffed opossum!!??

That last is the approximate effect the editors achieve by terminating this entertaining zine with 14 pages of embalmed Board Meeting notes. One hoped momentarily for some subtly satirical spoof of Board Meeting notes, but no. Sample: "Kay has given Margo the corresponding secretary job description but Dan has yet to get the membership secretary description to Myrna. He will do so." Hope this stuff isn't on the midterm.

Thyme 105

September 1995/The Australian Science Fiction News Magazine/Contributors Merv Binns, Justin Semmel, Alan Stewart, Lucy Sussex, Charles Taylor/Thyme, PO Box 822, World Trade Center, Melbourne, Victoria, 3005, Australia/44 pages including covers (27 pages of Thyme, plus 17 pages of Australian SF News 65 by Binns and Stewart bound in)/8 x 11½ (standard Australian size or subtle antipodean joke?)

It seem positively Siamese: Thyme gets some longer pieces, fandom, and the letter column; ASFN gets more of the pro world, reviews, and more straight listings. But if they're going to bind Thyme and ASFN together, for reviewing purposes I'm going to treat them as one pub. So there.

The combined package lives up well to that subtitle. Doubt there's much happening in Australian SF that escapes it, and coverage of U.S. and U.K. publishing and even fandom seems fairly strong too. The U.S. comparison would be to not a fanzine but "semiprozines" like Locus or SF Chronicle. Except with Thyme, you hear a number of voices. (Not just in reviews, either.) This high-energy, collectivist impression is reinforced by the layout, which seems more freehand than the U.S. examples. If you don't like something, turn the page and you'll find something you probably will like.

Like a heartfelt sketch of deceased SF giant Roger Zelazny by Jack Dann, who recalls an invariable routine at their meetings: "I would insist that he pull out the string (which I knew he had hidden somewhere on his person) and make cat's cradles....He would sit there grinning at you like a Zen master while his hands would turn a circle of string into absolutely impossible shapes and forms."

Or a Kim Stanley Robinson interview by Alan Stewart. Among the IOI there: Robinson visualizes his Mars trilogy as one unit, but doesn't believe even the SF Book Club would be interested in "a doorstopper kind of thing" topping out at 1800 pages. And after a fall trip 1995 trip to Antarctica (presumably now accomplished), he plans a "tight short" SF novel set there in the early or middle days of the next century.

Australian artist and bon vivant Ian Gunn attends a party Dave Langford held after the September Scottish Worldcon, and reports that Langford wears his fanwriting Hugo preeminence with a bit less than British reserve. He spread all 11 statuettes around a room in his house posted as the "Official Hugo Admiration Area."

Then there's part 3 of a fascinating, knowledgeable survey by Bruce Barnes on Japanese manga anime (animated films/TV). He packs 46 capsule description/reviews here into 2½ pages, moving as fast and choppy as much manga action itself. His take on Genocyber -- "Lots of people get unexpectedly dissected alive for no particular reason." And a useful consumer tip: "Anything with Lemon in the title -- Pornography."

Among 30 other reviews by critics of wildly varying quality of books of wildly varying quality, Terry Frost is fascinating on why he didn't "get" Brother Termite by Patricia Anthony. "American novels are often infuriatingly self-referential and it does them a disservice because it decreases the potential audience. Authors and writers of any kind in smaller countries -- like Australia -- have an awareness of isolation which, even if subconsciously, makes them aware that not all their readership speaks with more or less the same accent or buys books with the same kind of money."

The aesthetics in Thyme are good. Two long columns on every long page, lots of type in a few different sizes, one pretty small but most others readable. Some photos, good art inside and out -- the Steve Scholz cover looks toward Australia's upcoming worldcon bid, with a proud platypusian spacemammal standing webfootedly astride the continent sporting a '99 shoulder patch.

Don't suppose we'll ever see a mint issue of Thyme in the U.S. All three copies at hand share the three horizontal creases, spiderwork of crinkles, and subsequent floppiness in the hand that come from savagely mangling the thing to fit in the flying kangaroo's pouch for the long hop up here.

Thyme 106

November 1995/Contributors Merv Binns, Beverley Hope, Ori Shifrin, Alan Stewart/44 pages including covers

Reading a new zine really brings out the detective in a guy.

Who are these people? What's their angle? What's their game, and who are their playmates? What are they telling you about themselves? What aren't they saying? All you have for clues are words or art.

But sister, if you're good -- that's plenty.

This issue, I fasten the old scrutinizer on Ian Gunn and Terry Frost. And the evidence tells me plenty.

Gunn did the incredible cover. Or covers -- it's a wrap job, one big beautiful image back to front. You're in a museum filled with the artifacts of old Earth covering every shelf, crowding every display case, every inch of floorspace, hanging from walls and ceiling. Comb, buddha, victrola, star trek figure, crucifix, hugo award, fokker triplane, blow dryer, corn flake box, statue of liberty, saturn booster, mickey mouse. So on. In the center of the front cover, a heroic human statue wearing futuristic bodysuit, power rifle, helmet, and visor clutches a tattered flag -- a meatball design, my guess either the UN or Japan. Base of his plinth reads IN MEMRI O THOZ HU DIDE FO MARZUN INDEPENDINZ. No other human figure around. Different alien tour groups -- little elephant-snout Kluxers, fat Jabba the Hut wannabes, flying jellyfish, ETs, octopusfaces -- meander through, peer, point, lounge around bemused. In an upper corner, a dino type with bony dorsal plates glares at a case with a stegosaurus toy. Above everything, a snouty gestures as the Thyme banner type is lowered from above on hooks.


Or witness another of his little Boschian tableaus later in the issue , this one lampooning certain elements of the recent Scottish Worldcon and featuring the addition of sarcastic word balloons. Legend: "A bonny wee worldcon wi' a few braw pals..."

Last piece of evidence: Gunn's mea culpa here for some trouble during his stint as publications head of the Melbourne Basicon. Seems he issued a pre-con flyer that attempted to appease critics of the con's financial management by including a policy statement especially for them. Title: "Dealing With Dickheads."

I deduce that this guy has scads of talent, but absolutely no respect for anything.

I like that in an artist.

So you can bet I also appreciated Terry Frost's balanced evaluation of the bidding competition by Sydney and Zagreb for the 1999 Worldcon, which he believes slightly favors the Australians: "Given a choice, planetary fandom is going to opt for a land of cuddly marsupials, clement climate and a cultural paradigm which doesn't see women as kitchen appliances fitted with bonking attachments over a land riddled with ethnic cleansing, anti-personnel mines, tides of refugees and a language that seems to consist of sneers punctuated by mortar fire."

Frost also goes on to proffer a little lively advice to the con committee, some of whom have feared being overrun by those awful Star Trek people: "Australian media fandom is needed to help with this deal. There aren't enough active lit-fans around to adequately staff a large school tuck-shop let alone run a Worldcon....Why not advertise a convention as an enjoyable interactive event? Ixnay on the self-referential fannish stuff. Deliberately engineer a con or two to suck in new punters...."

Look, this issue also had plenty of good SF TV, movie, and book reviews; plus con reports; a jumpin' lettercol; even more terrif Japanese anime squibs by Bruce Barnes; but I don't have space to -- all right, just one Barnes anime synopsis. In translation, this one is deliriously titled Irresponsible Captain Tyler: "A major idiot gets command of a space-ship full of losers, and stumbles his way to victory." Been there, right?

Thyme 107

January 1996/Contributors Merv Binns, Alan Stewart/44 pages including covers (with Thyme, Australian SF News, and Gunn's Artychoke #14 bound in)

There's a lovely hit-singles album by The Who called Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy. Let's start it spinning on the CD, shall we, because that title really sums up this ish.

First, Siobahn Morgan (via the Internet) beams news of a new TV movie of Dr. Who. Filming now in Vancouver and San Francisco, U.S. release on Fox, U.K. on BBC-1, both later this year. A 2-hour movie set in contemporary San Francisco, starring 36-year-old British actor Paul McGann as Doc #8 and bringing back a regenerated Sylvester McCoy.

About 150 fans gathered at the Sydney Powerhouse Museum recently to greet American writer/screenwriter/beserker Harlan Ellison on his second visit down under. With typical Ellisonian reserve, the multiday event was billed as The Second Coming. Tim Reddan reports that in one panel discussion, Ellison scotched several rumors: He never hit Gene Roddenberry with a model of the Enterprise, but did describe him as "an ambulatory sack of" -- described him pungently. He also never hit anyone with a model of the Seahunt. ("He did punch someone and they fell back against the model and it fell on them and they broke their hip, but that's a different matter.") He once cleaned a .45 during a script conference to discourage inane criticism, but didn't shoot. And he once disputed a claim by the head of the KGB "that Barbara Cartland was 'best author in the world.'" (Told the spymaster/litterateur Cartland "did not write all 1,700 of her books but only 1,300 of them...the other 400 were written by Barbara's tiny Pekinese lapdog.")

Always great copy, our Harlan. And perhaps something more...Gene Wolfe recently stated his opinion that Ellison has the best chance among current SF writers of still being read and admired a century hence.

New Zealand fantasy author Lyn McConchie complains that her bookbuying on a recent U.S. trip was hampered by the practice of giving different titles to U.S. and Commonwealth editions of the same book. Her U.S. agent said American publishers change titles because of duplication with other recent books, or because U.S. readers may find the first title unappealing. She counters that renaming Australian mystery writer Arthur Upfield's Cake in the Hatbox as Sinister Stones is unlikely to have been because of duplication. (Have to agree there.) And surely the original is more intriguing too? McConchie thinks publishers just like to leave their marks and show their power.

In a continuing section on prospects for the Sydney bid to become the 1999 worldcon site, a brief quote from our own Evelyn Leeper in PB 36 -- giving thumbs up on the Australian bid party at the 1995 Glasgow worldcon -- sounds about the only positive note. Otherwise, Joseph Nicholas and the amazing Ian Gunn weigh in with scathing comments on inactivity and nonpublicity. Also make urgent suggestions for immediate action to get the bid going big-time. I'm no convention organizer, but I found this really interesting, forthright reading. For conheads, guaranteed catnip.

What else? Lotsa goodstuff. In one entry in the animated letter column, Detroit's Brian Earl Brown reaches an epiphany about E.E. Smith's masterwork: "You realize that the Lensman series is merely about two Alpha civilisations vying for primacy and Good and Evil have nothing to do about it." Reviewer Jeanette Tipping-Allen intuits that Memnoch represents Ann Rice's farewell to her chief vampire Lestat, "almost impaling him with a large stake of niceness and goodness." Ouch, but in a good way? And Susan Hryckiewicz seems to feel that Bernard Cornwell's The Winter King, first of a planned trilogy taking a fresh yes fresh look at the Arthurian legend, may crown Cornwell the once and future thing as far as this subject matter is concerned.