Friday Fanzine – Beam

Beam recently came to my attention via a Facebook post wherein it was announced that BEAM had become a website and was (so the language implied) going to shake things up and revolutionize the concept of fanzines online.  Maybe.  Or something.

I’ve chosen to run Beam #1 today as the latest issue (which I am assured represents fanzine publishing at least one ohrder of mahgnitude higher than this first offering owing, of course, to the fact that one naturally advances in skill, capability and the creation of interesting stuff when publishing fanzines) is currently available here on its very own website.  (Beam, Issues 1 thru 7, are also available on

Here, by way of introduction to Beam’s raison d’etre, are words cribbed from their TOC page on eFanzines:

BEAM is the unofficial occasional journal of the Unusual Suspects, a shadowy and amorphous group prone to gathering around a suitable bottle or two, enjoying non-linear yet stimulating conversation on a variety of topics*, and very, very rarely annoying the neighbors…

Which itself probably requires a bit of explanation:

Fans talk.  It is perhaps one of the things that fans do best (and probably one of their least recognized talents…right…).  One might even suspect that fannish loquaciousness is more of a compulsion than a choice.  Given the penchant for punnishness and wordplay, some might even suggest that it is an infectious disease for which there is, sadly (?) no known cure.

Partying at conventions (or personal visits, or while waiting for the bus) is another time-honored fannish tradition.  It should come as no great surprise therefore that at some point in the murky fannish past, some unsung hero (though it was probably Wilson Tucker) decided to try to intermix these two activities.  One can imagine the thought process going something like this:  “Hmmmm.   I like to talk and I like to party.  Perhaps I could invite a few close fannish friends back to my hotel room and we could try doing both – AT THE SAME TIME!”

Whoever gave that idea a try for the first time was obviously successful as partying at conventions – while talking – still continues to this day.

Which brings us back to those Unusual Suspects.  If you visit the Beam website you will be invited to identify yourself as such, if, in fact, you are such.  I chose to do so by leaving the secret code in the comments.  (Smooooth – a universal sign that you have at least some experience of talking while partying.)

My introduction to being an Unusual Suspect took place at a Balticon in the 70s around a bottle of Murphy’s Irish Whiskey.

Now here’s the other little thing you ought to know (if you don’t already) and that is:  WHAT is in that bottle is just as important as the talking and the partying.  It might not seem to be all that important until you remember the talking part of this equation.  One rule associated with this algorithm is that the value assigned to “talkinig” can never be NULL.  Never.  Enter the vintage, distillery, methodology, ingredients, and a whole raft of other nuanced detail, even unto discussions of suitabilities and quantities.  See, you’ve got to have something to talk about while partying – it may as well be the bottle (lord knows fans are prone to long, uncomfortable silences when left to their own devices).  But you can’t squeeze a whole heck of a lot of conversation out of…well, that’s not true.  Fans can talk incessantly about Old Federal, even if its only to tell you what you should be drinking instead.

So enter Beam #1.  A fanzine edited by Nic Farey and Jim Mowatt (and others) that utilizes the technique of utter chaos to aptly and accurately portray and convey the fannish traditions of talking while partying….


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