Do you ever get the feeling that you know someone else, really know them, only to find yet another layer to peel away?
It’s a very humbling experience.
Recently (obviously) I had this experience.
Now, I’d never say that I was an expert. (What!?! And loose my non-paid amateur status….) But until a few days ago, in my hubris, I would’ve argued that I knew a thing or two about Robert Silverberg.
Why I’m even fairly certain that I know a couple of things that if not unknown to others, are practically thus. For instance, in a recent exchange with Bob I ran past him the Official Greenleaf Checklist for his 198 adult book titles edited by Pop, getting him to sign off on it.
That was fun!
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg or of Agberg (no pun intended…maybe).
I had a couple of compelling reasons to perform at least a mental checklist of all things Agberg (Bob’s fannish nickname). But I’ll get back to those later.
Out of curiosity I had to do a Google search to run against my mental checklist, and I found out a lot of curious things, mostly in the way other people think about “Grandmaster” Bob.
For instance writer Mathew Ferguson in a 2009 book review of The Book of Skulls attached this very interesting and provocative photo next to a vaguely related line of his text “There is plenty of sex. PLENTY OF SEX. Hot girls out in the world and at the compound with the monks. Ok? So don’t worry.”
Well, I don’t know what Sophie has to do with The Book of Skulls, well not precisely, but…well…ah…her photo is worth at least a couple of hundred words.
That was something new I discovered about Agberg. He is linked to Sophie Monk, although I really couldn’t calculate the degrees of separation.
I also know a very fascinating tidbit of trivia about The Book of Skulls. (No, it’s not Sophie’s phone number.) This 2006 novel was dedicated to his lifelong pal, Saul Diskin. Finding this bit took some careful research.
You see, you need to connect the dots. Saul and Bob collaborated on the 1949 fanzine, Spaceship, sending off a copy of the first issue to Rog Phillips, and then anxiously waiting together for several months before the review appeared.
My mental checklist, and Google search, was an excuse to do some more research on Bob. Sadly I found that there aren’t a whole lot of early (young) photos of him on the net. Not like, say PJ Farmer, or Pop (but that’s another story, best told later). Lots of Grandmaster stuff. Lots from award ceremonies. This has led me to conclude that our Bob is at heart a very private person.
If you think about it, this is actually very odd to say the least. Bob has been around fandom all of his life. My godfather, Rog Phillips, brought a young fourteen-year-old Bob into fandom through the pages of this very same fanzine review column, The Club House, as conducted by him inside the pages of late 1940s copies of Amazing Stories. This is another thing that Silverberg acknowledges, but is not commonly known.
Rather than rehash what I suspect most people know, let me mention something new (at least to me). Not only does Bob have five movie writing credits, but he also has one as an actor. This was new to me. Bob was the (uncredited) talk show guest in the TV movie that he wrote the screenplay for (with John Kroll), Amanda & the Alien.
There’s something else that no one else knows about Bob.
Here’s yet another scoop by Yours Truly.
It’s official. Bob Silverberg has written a tremendous Afterword for my upcoming book, The Club House.
As a tribute to Rog Phillips, the Golden Age of Science Fiction writer,
here are all 67 appearances of his fanzine review column from the late 1940s and early 1950s,
The Club House, carefully transcribed and edited for consistency, as they originally appeared inside the pages of Amazing Stories, Universe, and Other Words, with over 258,000 words in nearly
3,000 endnotes annotating the nearly 311,000 words he wrote in total for all of his columns,
complete with an index containing over 5,800 single items, and more than
14,000 individual entries.
Here the reader will find the context and perspective to understand the post-WWII generation of science fiction fandom. You’ll come to know all the players, who they were, what they did,
and what they wrote in their fanzines.
Finally, you’ll come to see those who made science fiction, and
science fiction fandom into what it has become in the twenty-first century.
Edited and with Annotations by Earl Terry Kemp
With an Afterword by Robert Silverberg
628 pages, 8 ½ x 11, softcover
with black & white illustrations $35.00
I’m taking advance orders for a limited number of signed (by me) editions (just like Shasta once offered). The price is $35 a copy (shipping not included…ha ha!). So, let me know, and place your order now! One thing is certain, only a limited number of signed copies will ever be offered to the public. To place your order, or contact me directly: The Club House
Well, without further ado, here are the fanzine reviews for this week, beginning with:
Interstellar Ramjet Scoop: “The Journal for Inquisitive Readers.” December 2013. Quarterly. 26-pages. Edited by Bill Wright. Cover by Ditmar. In “This Issue’s Covers,” Dick Jenssen (Ditmar) kicks off with an anecdotal explanation of his inspiration behind this cover. Next comes Bill with “In Vita Mea” (Latin: In My Life), in which he tells us about his bad investments in the Australian stock market (down), and his life in general (up). In just a few words, Bill demonstrates his wit and wisdom as he opines that his stock selections might just make him a multi-millionaire as Global Climate change reaches daily hurricane weather. “Clerihew Corner” another witty, humorous column, this by Dennis Callegari, pertains to illustrated four-line rhyming verse (AABB). Quite funny! Bill Wright follows with “DUFF 2013—preliminary report” the obligatory report on his trip and experiences as winner of the 2013 Down Under Fan fund campaign…to be continued. “Information on Australian Fan Funds,” by Bill, has a great deal of info about DUFF, GUFF, FFANZ, NAFF, and TAFF both current and historical. These are all fan funds created to bring fans from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the United States together for fan fun. Next is the uncredited “China Moon Landing” complete with excellent photos. “Conventions on the Horizon” gives us brief details about upcoming cons such as: Arisia 2014, Boskone 51, Swancon 39, Conclave 2, Corflu 31, WisCon 38, Continuum X, Swecon 2014, and Detcon 1 (the 2014 NASFIC…whenever the World Con is held somewhere not in North America, there is a parallel con held for…ah…the locals). This one is to be held in Detroit, July 17 thru 20. And, of course, details about Loncon 3 are included in this excellent resource article. One-stop shopping for the convention seekers. Wait, there are even more cons on the horizon for 2014. There’s: Conflux 10, SF Conrario 5, and the World Fantasy Convention (no coincidence, it’s in Washington, D.C. this year). After that fantastic wealth of current, topical information about coming events in 2014, we move on to a lighter subject in “Stefan Zone” in which we are entertained by a list of quotes under the title “Who Says Aussie Rules Footballers Aren’t Smart?” With such stellar gems as: “I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father.” It would be far out to see a comparable list from US Football players. Would they stack up as well? The suggested title: “My Team is Smarter than Your Team….Duh!” This is followed by “Melbourne Public Transport Works” in which we are again amused by the woes of the Australian governments’ activities on behalf of their citizens. Thus ends the Stefan zone. “More Beasts for Worse Children” includes a partial verse by Hilaire Belloc. “Memorable Sporting Events” rounds out this very entertaining issue. This is a highly recommended zine. If you’re new to fandom, and are interesting in attending a convention, read this zine.
The Spring 2014 issue of The Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation, edited by Jonathan Cowie, is now available. This zine is a seasonal review of science fact and science fiction. Appears three times a year. This is not a fanzine. This is a blog-style zine, run as a website. It covers the usual, containing lots of con reports, and even more contemporary book reviews, with a couple of short stories (in PDF) posted. Not much to recommend on a fannish level. Frankly, I could detect no hook to lure me into reading more, even as much as I like fan fiction, the fiction here appears to be semi-pro, and not fan fiction.
Lake Geneva #3: January 2014. Bi-monthly. 18-pages. Edited by Pablo M.A. Vazquez. Cover “Dok and Dalai, Early Morning Stroll,” by Alexa “Dot” Smothers. Back again, and their third issue! Great work. Now this is a zine. (Bloggers please note!) “Fans Just Wanna Have Fun,” by Pablo M.A. Vazquez, is his brief editorial in which he apologizes for this ish being late, and mentions participating in the recent SMOFcon. Letters of Comment brings us choice letters from John Purcell and Dave Haren. “The Inklings,” by James T.M. Griffin, is subtitled “A Tribute to Some Lesser Known Founding Fathers of Modern Fantasy. This British in-group contained Tolkien, and some of the lesser known among them: Charles Williams and Henry Dyson. “Legend of the Brownie Party,” by Christopher Hensley, is about a pot brownie party at the Stellarcon. “Recommendations from Lake Geneva” pertains to books and movies. “Scrapper [Part I],” by James Lovelock, subtitled “A Narrative from the World of Lancastria.” Steampunk… maybe… certainly punk… maybe cyberpunk. While not fan fiction, it is fiction by a fan, more than that it was readable and enjoyable. Surprise! It is recommended reading. Can’t wait for the next part. “Why I Cosplay,” by Jesse Watson. Gee, and with Jesse in costume. Well worth reading, and looking. Take my word for it. This is THE up-and-coming zine. Read it and get in on the action on the ground floor. These guys will be worth watching over the next several years. They even have a “Lake Geneva Commune/1816 DiodatiCon Bid Committee,” as by Pablo, James, with the addition of Ashley F. Cano and Lauren Laslo. These guys are active as a group as well. Can’t wait until they form a local fan club and let us all in on the action. Until then, keep on trucking (vitamin C…).
Sporadic #22: A Banshee Press publication (#42) for the Southern Fandom Press Alliance. December 2013. Bi-monthly. 21-pages. Edited by Bill Plott. Cover by Donald Stewart. In “The Traveling Fan Should Have Stayed Home,” Bill tells us the anecdotal tale of his quest for kindred fannish spirits beginning in the ’60s. “Former SFPan Honored” continues the thread with more about Southern fandom and fans, in this case, Joe Staton, current illustrator of Dick Tracy. “John Finds His Missing Car” continues with more amusing tidbits. “Mailing Comments” are SFPan related pertaining to their ongoing mailings, alas context (which is mostly lacking) is required for comprehension. Several fiction book reviews follow. This is an interesting zine, it gives great insight into contemporary Southern fandom.
Bunyip and Ayotochtli #1: January 2014. Frequency not stated. 2-pages. Edited by Bob Hole. Mostly just a statement of “here I am,” but it does already have a letter of comment from Chris Garcia, so maybe there’ll be more to this zine as time develops. Let’s keep our eye on Bob, and see what happens next.
Shavertron #4: Summer 1980. Quarterly. 10-pages. Edited by Richard Toronto. Once again we visit the mysterious world of Richard Shaver, and to some degree that of Charles Fort. Those two visionaries saw the world in the light of strange events controlled by unseen outside beings. They thought that all such bizarre happenings could be understood through this lens. They have managed to hook several generations on their beliefs, whether they are true, they make for some cogent reading. Richard Toronto began a lifelong interest in these things in the mid-1970s. He pursued his passion with an unusual vigor, getting in touch with all the key players, or their surviving kin, and finally when he thought he understood the whole, he began pubbing his own fanzine, Shavertron.
Shavertron, the fanzine, looks like it first appeared as a series of articles inside the pages of Ray Palmer’s Other Worlds. It has the personal touch of a scrapbook, with clipped newspaper articles, which highlight the conspiracy theory or underscore the secret masters in control of weird events. It is by far the most unusual zine ever printed, and we are lucky that editor Toronto has decided to offer them all together once again. He doesn’t disappoint.
In this ish, subtitled “The Only Source of Post-Deluge Shaverania,” the first article, “Caution: This Zine May Ruin Mental Health” tells us that the Queens SF Science Fiction League and The Literary Community have declared that Richard Shaver, Ray Palmer, and the Shaver Mystery are Dangerous Enemies to Your Sanity! In this “Special First Anniversary Issue,” editor Toronto tells us about subliminal images in advertising. Tal Le Vesque opines in his article, “The Invader Conspiracy,” that this very conspiracy controls our cultural context and how we can research the conspiracy. Very deep, double-think stuff. This zine is peppered with several period major newspaper articles regarding Fortean occurrences, more conspiracies, and things long buried underground bubbling up. Noteworthy, found among the letters of comment is one by George Wunder!
So, there it is once again, the end…until next week. When Yours Truly will return to further amaze, enlighten, and delight you with more reviews about your favorite thing in the whole universe, fanzines.