Fanzines reviewed: AURORAN LIGHTS (#15), CHUNGA (#23), WARP (#89), and THE ENCHANTED DUPLICATOR.
(Please note: Zine reviews are prepared a week or more in advance of publication of this column and may not necessarily include the latest issue available, but the link to multiple issues given at the bottom of each review probably does.)
Auroran Lights (#15) – February 2015 – Find it here
Faned: R. Graeme Cameron. Canadian Orgzine.
Yes, an “Orgzine.” Auroran Lights is the official newsletter of CSFFA (the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association), a federally registered society founded in 1980 to promote Canadian SF&F genre professionals and fans in general and the Aurora Awards (Canada’s “Hugos”) in particular. The motto of AL is “Promote and Celebrate!”
I used to publish AL as a perzine covering just Canadian fandom. Long story short, the CSFFA Board of Directors voted to make AL the official newsletter for the Org, which meant I had to start beating the drum for professionals as well as fen. All my previous fannish/professional kettle-drum solos published in a variety of my zines are now focused in this one zine. A monthly zine. It’s a lot of work.
AL is divided into three sections. The first is devoted to official org news and announcements. The second covers professional aspects of the genre, usually under headings such as “Professional Milestones & Other Catastrophes,” “Contests, Competitions & Other Conniptions,” and “Poets, Poems & Other Problems.” The third section, devoted to fandom, features headings like “Fannish News & Other Alarums,” and “Guest Essays & Other Arguments.”
I search the web on a daily basis looking for press releases and announcements by publishers, authors, etc., as well as information on current magazines and markets. Anyone can come up with this information themselves, but only if they take the time to look for it, and time is precious to professionals. They have little to spare. Auroran Lights is a convenient snapshot of the “state of the genre” in a given month, neither complete nor comprehensive, but definitely a bit of a glimpse.
AL is not designed to be read from cover to cover. It’s a compendium of information you browse through looking for only what interests you. However, as you can tell from the headings I’ve quoted, I do add my personal touch, especially in the fannish section. This in order to keep the task of putting together the zine interesting for me and my vast ego, but also to increase readability for casual browsers.
I’ve been lucky. Artists such as Jean-Pierre Normand, Lynne Fahnestalk, Melissa Mary Duncan and Taral Wayne have donated covers, and Authors like Robert J. Sawyer, Mathew Hughes and Nina Munteanu have contributed essays.
Auroran Lights worth reading? – If you have any interest in either Canadian SF&F genre professionals or Canadian fandom, yes. And especially if you are looking for markets for your own fiction or art as I publish info on ANY market I can find, not just Canadian markets. As a hodge podge of a mishmash of info, AL is okay. Not great, but okay. Besides, it comes out every month, usually between the 1st and the 10th. You may find it useful. Even interesting.
( Multiple issues of Auroran Lights here )
Faneds: Andy Hooper, Randy Byers, & carl juarez. American Genzine.
Wow! This issue is highly original. Something brand new. I think. On the other hand, you have to bear in mind how incredibly ignorant I am. Not to mention my premature Alzheimer’s (I really am experiencing more and more memory lapses as I age). All the same, I haven’t come across anything like this before in my … oh, let’s say forty odd years of reading fanzines. So it MUST be new. Or new-ish at least.
To explain: In Chunga #1 (August 2002) Randy Byers quoted Jae Leslie Adams’ remark “that paper fanzines were becoming delivery mechanisms for artwork.” This led Randy through a train of thought concluding “I envision Chunga evolving into a round-robin comic strip about the adventures of a mutant gypsy vacuum cleaner and his small, wooden sidekick Philip Kafka van Vogt. That should be around issue number 23.”
Well, this is issue #23, and son of a gun…
To explain further: Randy notes that some artists are not satisfied with Chunga’s use of “fillos” as stand-alone cartoons, that it distracts from the text. What, what, WHAT? In all my years of fanzine publishing it never once occurred to me that fan art should illustrate articles. After all, if New Yorker magazine gets away with it, why not my Space Cadet?
On the other hand, he points out some artists can’t abide restrictions or limitations of any kind. They want to be free to produce their own art/toon unhindered by anyone else’s ideas. Makes sense to me. I’ve never had any problem considering each and every article and fillo in isolation. The one doesn’t “bleed” into the other. Something to do with my limited attention span perhaps.
Anyway, rather than a round robin, the editors decided to ask artists to each contribute a two page spread with identical beginning and ending panels, albeit with perfect freedom to create what goes in between.
One artist refused (I think I know who), on the grounds that “the framework was over-engineered and too restricting.” Nevertheless, eight well-known fan artists (many have won awards or been frequently nominated for such) agreed to contribute. They are: D. West, Steve Stiles, Marc Schrimeister, Dan Steffan, Brad W. Foster, Espana Sheriff, and David Thayer/Teddy Harvia. The result is absolutely delightful.
I especially liked a panel by D. west showing a middle-aged man saying “Forty years ago…,” an older man “Fifty years ago…,” an elderly man “Sixty years ago…,” and an overweight young fan saying “No. No. No. No. As a fan historian I have to tell you…”
Incidentally, the front and back cover art by Ulrika O’Brien is based on part of the theme, namely A.E. van Vogt’s famous quote “This is the race that shall rule the Sevagram,” which got fans all excited back in the forties, till they found out sevegram is Hindi for “village.” And who is the most famous inhabitant of “The Village?” Why, “The Prisoner” of course. But if you don’t get it because you’ve never seen the TV series, don’t worry about it. It’s a cool cover in and of itself.
Chunga worth reading? – Yes! The art contributions and accompanying articles (in which you learn Chunga the Vacuum Cleaner is inspired by liner notes and interior art in Frank Zappa’s album “Chunga’s Revenge”) are first rate, and the extensive loc column rock solid. Besides, it’s a lot of fun.
( Multiple issues (1-22) of Chunga here )
Warp (#89) – Summer 2014 – Find it here
Faned: Cathy Palmer-Lister. Canadian Clubzine (for MonSFFA, the Montreal SF&F Association).
Warp was the first fanzine to win the Canadian Fanzine Fanac Award (The Faned) for Best Canadian Fanzine, in 2011. (Cathy was Editor then as now.) Like earlier ones, this issue is presented in a very clear two column format enlivened by numerous colour photos and illustrations.
What often renders Warp particularly interesting to read is the activities of club members. On June 8th more than a dozen MonSFFen drove from Montreal to Ottawa (took them 2.5 hours) to spend a day visiting Canada’s Aviation and Space Museum. Thirty-six photos are provided, including one showing the nose and cockpit section of the infamous Avro Arrow on display.
It is interesting to note that when the program was ended all prototypes were ordered destroyed, to be cut into scrap pieces no more than a foot in width. I’m proud to note that my father, a Squadron Leader at the time, was one of the officers who conspired to “hide” this nose section in a research lab disguised as an “experimental high altitude test capsule,” thus preserving it for rediscovery and display.
Also, the last time I visited the museum (circa late 1990s) unlabelled sections of Avro Arrow wings, identifiable by their shape and day-glo orange panels, were leaning against a wall. Still there, I hope? As time goes by, more and more pieces squirreled away by Avro employees are coming to light.
Not mentioned in the article, two extremely rare birds indeed: a rocket-powered ME 163 “Comet” and a jet-powered HE 162 “Salamander.” They could have added an ME 162 twin-jet “Swallow” fighter to the collection, but the letter from the RCAF offering the museum the one they had hanging around in a hanger went unanswered, and so it got scrapped instead. Sigh.
I could go on and on, but I won’t. This article gives a clear expression of why the museum is an aviation buff’s delight. World class, it is.
Another article details other “world class” activities of the club. The May meeting, for instance, had no less than three slide presentations! One on Filmation Associates, the company which produced the animated “Star Trek” TV series and the live action “Jason of Star Command,” among many other shows; a second talk on “little People” stars like Harry Eales of “Freaks” and the prolific Billy Barty whose career spanned six decades; and a third on SF board and card games worthy of note. Dang! All we do in the B.C. SF Association is sit around and talk. Pleasant enough social discourse of course… but dang! I’m envious.
Normally I wouldn’t review Warp since it was available only to paid members and a very few other interested parties (such as myself) provided with the passwords. Very recently, however, Cathy convinced MonSFFA’s Board of Directors to make issues available for download to anyone who wants to read them. This can only enhance the reputation of the club, broaden their contacts, and, I’m convinced, increase their membership. Good for them!
Warp worth reading? – It’s a great clubzine. Members contribute reviews of books, movies, games, comics, and a review of a Cirque du Soleil “Steampunk” performance. They even publish that rarity of rarities, fiction by club members. It’s a very classy zine.
( Multiple issues of Warp here )
AND FROM THE VAULTS:
The Enchanted Duplicator (Oneshot) – 1954, with multiple reprints over the years – Find one version here
Faned: Walt Willis and Bob Shaw. The “Iliad” of Fandom (in terms of influence) The “Odyssey” (in terms of plot).
“Once upon a time in the village of Prozaic in the Country of Mundane there lived a youth called Jophan.”
Thus begins the fannish epic first penned by Walt Willis and Bob Shaw in 1954. It encapsulates and reveals everything you need to know about “Trufandom” in the last decade before it began to splinter into myriad special interests, the last decade when every fan shared a knowledge of the genre common to all fen. Not like today, where it is possible to run into a genre fan and have absolutely nothing in common. This is not a bad thing. It merely reflects how exponentially huge fandom has grown over the past sixty years.
But back in 1954 fandom had reached maturity after a mere twenty odd years of life while remaining relatively small in numbers. It had become a way of life, and a goal, not easily attained. More than any other publication, “The Enchanted Duplicator” captures the “spirit” and “feeling” of what it is that “Traditional” fen are so nostalgic about. Why do they cling to the past, modern fen wonder. Because it was wonderful.
Jophan has visions and interests no one else in Mundania shares. He is very lonely. The Spirit of Fandom grants him a vision which inspires him to become a true fan and publish the perfect fanzine. She also encourages him to scale the Mountains of Inertia surrounding Mundania to search for the Enchanted Duplicator which will show him how to accomplish his goal. Off on a quest, in other words.
At one point Jophan is stranded in a cave known as the Circle of Lassitude. Here many people socialize in a pleasant and hospitable environment, and Jophan lingers until he realizes they are accomplishing nothing and hurries on less he become addicted to doing nothing. Lotus Eaters in effect, to be avoided. (Has anyone compared TED to Homer’s Odyssey in depth? There’s a term paper for you.) Many such fen even now. I am often tempted into the Circle of Lassitude myself. Fortunately my ego is my shield, powerful enough to let me bludgeon my way out of inactivity on rare occasion.
Jophan avoids the Forest of Stupidity and the Hekto swamps, but nearly runs afoul of threats like the Typo beasts, the Torrent of Overinking, and the Jungle of Inexperience, any one of which might stop him in his tracks and prevent him from realizing his quest. Perhaps worst of all, the Hucksters who sell the dreaded Kolectinbug, a jewel-like creature that can suck you dry and leave you perpetually weak and inactive.
Excitedly he enters the City of Trufandom, only to discover it consists entirely of clubs, each competing to destroy initiative and individuality in their members. He then runs into the city planners, Serious Constructive Engineers busily erecting false facades to impress the Press, but discovers they are the fannish equivalent of Sisyphus, doomed to repeat the same futile gesture over and over. He leaves them to their eternal fate.
There are more perils encountered, many perils. Indeed, every aspect of fandom is a peril in itself, a crank obsession waiting to distract you from the road forward. Every step of the way is fraught with threat.
Wait a moment. Is The Enchanted Duplicator a celebration of Fandom or an Indictment of fandom? What the heck is going on here?
I won’t give away the ending. In essence though, the quest to become a True Fan is what makes you a True Fan. It’s what you are. It’s what you do. It’s what you become. No one grants or rewards or gifts you with this status. It is entirely your own creation. Only you are responsible for your transformation.
The Enchanted Duplicator worth reading? Absolutely. Though more of an affectionate spoof of all the myriad types of fans and experiences every fan of the era came across in their quest to belong and be accepted than it is a guide toward that end, it nevertheless shows the way, reveals the correct path, and delivers a truth still as relevant today as it was then. Even though many of the terms and skills referenced are now forgotten or obsolete, there is no better description of what it means to be a True Fan.
From the “traditional” fan’s point of view, that is. But not just. The Enchanted Duplicator provides a lesson applicable to ALL fans. A True Fan can be ANY fan, if they are true to themselves and what they love. This I believe.
BY THE WAY:
You can find a fantastic collection of zines at: Efanzines
You can find yet more zines at: Fanac Fan History Project
You can find a quite good selection of Canadian zines at: Canadian SF Fanzine Archive