The Clubhouse; Fanzine Reviews: “…not sure if he hates it or not.”

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Fanzines reviewed: CYBERCOZEN (V.27#5-Special), RODNEY’S FANAC (#5), and SPACESHIP (#20).

(Please note: Zine reviews are normally 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.)

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CyberCozen (V.27#5-special) – May 2015 – find it here

Faned: Leybl Botwinik. Israeli Clubzine.

This is a special memorial issue in honour of Aharon Sheer, the founder and editor of CyberCozen, Israel’s longest running SF&F fanzine, who passed away on April 16th this year.

Much of the material is in Hebrew, but translations into English are provided. Interesting to note that Aharon founded Israel’s first English language SF club, the city of Rehovat Science Fiction Society circa the late 1980s, and his Cyber Cozen fanzine round about 1988. He kept at it for 27 years, producing over 300 issues. Cyber Cozen was essentially a one-man operation, so technically a perzine, but served the greater SF fen community in Israeli, especially the Rehovat SF club at the beginning, and then the later and much larger Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy, founded May 1996. No doubt in recognition of his persistent and positive support for Israeli SF fandom he was named a Guest of Honour for the 2000 Israeli Science Fiction Convention.

CyberCozen was more a bulletin than a fanzine, averaging a mere 4 to 6 pages, but Aharon packed a lot of insightful enthusiasm into his zine nonetheless. A typical issue contained, as Leybl Botwinik writes, “Book reviews of little known writers as well as the popular ones, reviews of science fiction films and TV series, information about upcoming activities of the Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy (ISSF&F), and for me, the most important one: the ‘Quote of the Month’ (later renamed, in his honour, to ‘Sheer Science’)… which brought us some food for-thought from real-life research, current practices, recent discoveries, etc. In other words, yesterday’s science fiction, transformed into today’s reality, or to just-around-the-corner reality.”

Cyber Cozen worth reading? – Definitely. An affectionate tribute to a man with many loved ones and friends, a man who successfully intertwined his fannish interests with a joyous life. An example to us all. May we be so blessed.

( Multiple issues of CyberCozen here )

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Note: the above illo depicts, probably, the majority of the population of Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, where Rodney lives.

Rodney’s Fanac (#5) – May 2015 – This issue not yet on line. Contact Rodney here if you want a copy.

Faned: Rodney Leighton. Canadian Perzine.

Rodney is an active fan writer with absolutely no access to the internet. Yet his zines are distributed by email and eventually get hosted by Bill Burn’s efanzines site. How is this possible? I quote British Fan Chuck Connor:

How does a guy who has no internet access, no email, not even a computer, have a bunch of eZines? Well, it’s a long story. Rodney is a zine publisher who lives in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Canada. He still writes on a typewriter, and photocopies his zine to be distributed. For years, I’ve suggested he let me put the thing online for him. Finally, he agreed.”

Currently Chuck takes zines assorted faneds have emailed to him and prints them out, then snail-mails them to Rodney about once a week. He also maintains the e-address (listed above) to receive letters (including letters of comment) intended for Rodney, and snail-mails them as well. Interestingly, Rodney will often respond to his “emails” by typing out a reply on paper which he then snail-mails to Chuck, who in turn keyboards it into genuine emails for the intended recipient. This has got to be the slowest, most delayed form of internet communication on the planet! But it works! Kudos to Chuck for doing so much work to keep Rodney in touch with his fellow fen!

Rodney, like me, is a bit of a curmudgeon. He says exactly what he thinks about what he reads, so if he can’t be bothered with your boring garbage, you’re SOL. He does freely admit, however, that it is often merely a matter of the topic not appealing to his tastes and interests. He does love to write about topics that DO interest him, which makes for interesting reading. Sometimes he waffles. He’s not sure if he hates it or not. That, too, makes for interesting reading. In general Rodney reviews zines and books he’s received, while occasionally throwing in tidbits about his self-described “boring life.”

Vintage Rodney would be the following comment on “Challenger” #39: “couple of big shots write about football which is the dumbest excuse for a so called sport ever invented and I skipped right past those. This from a guy who, if I had the necessary TV setup, would be spending about 9 hours a day watching NHL hockey and if I had a computer and internet another 3 or 4 hours searching for something that looks like pro wrestling…”
Another typical comment, in his review of “Askance” #33: “…has a hilarious article by Gregory Benford on writing which first appeared in 1972 and starts off: ‘I have been in science fiction fandom a larger number of years than I care to contemplate.’ Sheesh! 43 years ago this guy was writing things like this! Must enjoy it since he is still an active fan. Most of his stuff these days is kind of dry, maybe he is dried out? Or I don’t see the funnier things?”
Rodney quite likes Taral Wayne’s “Broken Toys” #37 which he read from start to finish with “great interest,” even the “frightening adventure with doctors and hospitals.” He comments “While I dread ever going to hospital Taral seemed to like it.”

Next comes the startling declaration “Graeme Cameron retired and then became a pro.”

I wish that were true, but my organizational newsletter “Auroran Lights” that I do for CSFFA is volunteer work. A sort of bribe, really, to ensure they keep me on the board.

Still, Rodney has kind things to say: “…#16 is 72 pages long!.. Contains a ton of information on cons, awards, contests and publishing. Pages and pages of book releases and magazines and anthologies… Good resource for authors who have access to the internet.” Thank you Rodney!

As an example of his exciting life style, Rodney writes: “Took a trip to Truro yesterday… My glasses, new not long ago… had a screw that refused to stay screwed in. I was going to ask the woman who works at the place if I could get a screw but, probably fortunately, I was dealt with by a guy. So I asked for a new screw… he declared one was good, he would crimp it… and passed the glasses back and stated it was as good as new. It remains to be seen whether I got screwed after all.”

There follow more reviews, including one of “Spartacus” #4 where he points out that the contents were mostly “little pieces of opinion and news by Guy… these things lend themselves more to locs than reviews.” Rodney thinks a lot about the alleged decline of locs, especially in light of his preference for writing reviews. This leads him to a confession of sorts.

“I have a fascination with apa zines and mailings. I understand that it is likely a reflection of my interest in zines. My enjoyment of mailing comments is probably reflective of my love of letter columns. Yes, I agree; someone who is not much interested in being part of any letter column perhaps should not enjoy the things quite so much as I do. And mailing comments in apazines are essentially just a form of letter column.”

“I find I can read an apazine that I have never seen before, never heard of, and enjoy the mailing comments section. Other parts of the zine vary with the contents and the writing and so forth. I have no desire whatever to belong to an apa. But I do enjoy reading them.”

Now we know Rodney’s secret vice!

Rodney’s Fanac worth reading? – Yes. He reminds me of Leslie A. Croutch, Canada’s leading perzine publisher of the 1940s. The same scruffy, relaxed, what the hey approach, with a conversational tone. A comfy slippers, comfy chair down-home kind of guy unafraid to form opinions and share them whether people agree with him or not. “Rodney’s Fanac” is not a highly polished precision publication. There are such things, and sometimes they come across as being impersonal and almost machine-like in their “perfection,” whereas Rodney’s zines tend to be warmly familial, which makes them very reader friendly. They seem more like personal letters than collections of essays or articles. Not a bad thing at all. Rather relaxing.

( Multiple issues of Rodney’s zines here )

AND FROM THE VAULTS:

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GUEST REVIEW BY ERIC MAYER

The Graeme notes: I came across this review while perusing issue #13 of Eric’s “eDitto” published in 2011. It struck me as very worthy of being reprinted, in part because it was written by longtime fan Eric Mayer, most famous for his beautiful multi-coloured hectograph covers for “Groggy” back in the late 1970s, but also because it details the fanac of a fan who later went on to become a prolific, award-winning pro author, a phenomenon which occurs more often than you might think. Historically, many famous authors first started out publishing and/or writing for fanzines: Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, L. Ron Hubbard, Frederik Pohl, and Donald Wollheim to name just a few.

Spaceship (#20) – January 1953 –find it here

(As reviewed by Eric Mayer.)

Faned: Roberg Silverberg. American Perzine.

By my calculation Bob Silverberg’s SPACESHIP #20 came out the same month Bob turned 18 and it was already in its fourth year. Amazing. His first published novel, REVOLT ON ALPHA C would appear only two years later. More amazing still.

As might be expected from a budding science fiction author, the fanzine is basically sercon but I enjoyed it nevertheless. Rita Adams’ cover is a sort of “alien menaced” –an interesting concept rather crudely executed. The very few interior illos didn’t strike me as particularly notable. The contents are mostly neat, justified text.

The bulk of the issue is made up of various reviews of 1952 in science fiction and fandom. It’s a fascinating historical snapshot. The genre was exploding. Thirty magazines published 160 issues. The brand new FANTASTIC sold over 200,000 copies. Silverberg shrewdly cites Walt Miller as a promising new writer. He estimates there were 100 new sf hardcovers and a dozen or so movies.

Cited as top fanzines are SCIENCE FICTION NEWSLETTER, OPERATION FANTAST, RHODOMAGNETIC DIGEST, FANTASY ADVERTISER, and PEON. Silverberg reckons that OOPSLA was the outstanding new mimeo mag and lists HYPHEN among quite a few other new titles likely to go places.

Elsewhere in the issue, Bert Hirschorn voices the opinion that science fiction does not depend on fandom but that fandom depends on science fiction and will follow sf where ever it leads.

The latter conclusion being questionable considering that some of the best fanzines over the years have had tenuous connections to sf.

Roger Dard’s report from Australia details the legal complications surrounding the publication of a book of weird art by Rosaleen Norton, a self-styled witch, and a personality of some notoriety during the fifties and sixties. Opponents claimed her book was packed with sex, carnality, and perversion” not to mention “shockingly depraved.” At the time of the writing indictments had been filed and research reveals that two pictures were declared obscene and ordered removed. It is good to know that Ms. Norton objected to the publishers’ original plan to bind the book in bat skin.

A highlight is Robert Bloch’s “Who Played the Harp?”, a short, funny article about how he figured out that the Walt Willis brought to America in 1952 was an imposter, part of a scheme to allow Shelby Vick to pocket the fund’s proceeds.

There is one piece of fiction, “Surprise”, by Charles Wells. The contents page excuses it as being only 90 words long but, no surprise, it is too long even at that.

Silverberg packed a lot into 24 pages, including ads selling his old fanzines, books and printing supplies.

The loccol makes me regret that the previous issue is not available on Fanac.org. I would love to read a poem — yes a poem – that readers considered the best material in that issue!

[End of review by Eric Mayer]

Spaceship worth reading? – The Graeme puts in his opinion: I enjoyed it. I especially liked the way Silverberg enthused over 1952 being the most prolific SF year yet:

“This, gentlemen, is the Boom. Thirty prozines, a hundred hardcovers a year, a dozen or so movies, ten million fanzines. A thousand people at the world convention… prozines with circulations of 200,000… folks like Mickey Spillane entering our field… LIFE devoting pages to flying saucers… this is big, BIG.”

Mind you, I’m not sure where the figure of “ten million fanzines” comes from. A bit of hyperbole methinks.

At any rate, my thanks to Eric Mayer for allowing me to reprint his review. Allow me to mention that he happens to be very fannish indeed, in that he eventually evolved into a “filthy pro” (to use an old fashioned fannish expression). To explain:

Eric Mayer has co-authored historical mysteries with his wife Mary Reed (another former sf fan!) for over twenty years. Poisoned Pen Press will publish their eleventh Byzantine mystery, “Murder in Megara” in October. “The Guardian Stones”, set in the UK during WWII, will appear
in January 2016 under the penname Eric Reed. For further information see their website:

Byzantine Mysteries

I’ve read several of Eric and Mary’s novels. They’re very good, very entertaining. The reality of Byzantine life and history is relatively little known to modern readers, and so bizarre (and positively byzantine) as to resemble an alternate universe fantasy. Eric and Mary bring this obscure epoch delightfully to life.

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

Note: My SF Zine Archive may or may not be up. I am in the midst (courtesy tech skills and good will of Jean Weber, former faned of “Weber Woman’s Wrevenge”) of switching from one server to another.

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