Fanzines reviewed: CAMBER #8, 9 &10
CAMBER (#8) – Sometime in 1957.
Faned: Allan Dodd. British Genzine.
Alan Dodd was a British fan who published at least 13 issues of his Genzine CAMBER out of Hoddeston, Herts., England in the late 1950s. Well known to those who corresponded with him, he never attended any conventions or club meetings and thus was something of a mystery. People began to suspect a hoax.
Early in 1957, before Loncon, the Worldcon in London, a fan by the name of Dave Jenrette claimed that he, his wife, and Ron Bennett had created Alan Dodd as a jape, but now that they were busy with other matters they were going to discontinue both the hoax and their hoaxzine CAMBER.
Immediately Buck Coulson, who together with his wife Jaunita, published YANDRO, announced that the Jenrette hoax was itself a hoax. He knew that the Jenrettes had actually met Alan. Readers of YANDRO were to rest assured that the “Dodderings” column Dodd had been writing for YANDRO since 1956 were in fact quite genuine.
Harry Warner Jr. speculated that the Jenrette “hoax” was actually a cunning fannish ploy to convince Dodd to attend Loncon to prove his existence to fandom, but he never showed up, evidently finding it sufficient that HE was aware he existed and what other people thought didn’t matter.
In CAMBER #8 Dodd writes “Here’s an advertisement from THE EXCHANGE & MART: ‘Le Macabre Coffeehouse, Meard Street, Shoo, London. W1. Requires skeletons, coffins or anything connected black magic, also an intercom system.’”
“What for boys? Communication with the Other World?”
“Still it might be expected from a place that has a death mask in the doorway and serves the coffee on a coffin. Le Macabre is on the site of Bet Flint’s old house, and a better choice couldn’t have been made. For the house of Bet, a girl friend of King Charles II – is reputed to be haunted by her ghost. In fact the whole of Meard street – Nell Gwynne lived there too – is said to be haunted by the ghosts of good King Charlie’s mistresses.”
“Which covers a lot of ghosts I suppose?”
Then comes a thoroughly depressing short story “Little One” in which a mother slowly slices her child in two from top to bottom with a hatchet repeatedly tapped with a hammer and then calls the doctor to come look at her sick boy. Don Stufloten wrote it. Very artsy and meaningful I’m sure. I don’t like it.
Next reviews by Jack Williams of all the stories in an anthology written by “ex-fan and letter hack” Chad Oliver. I know the latter attended the first Worldcon in Toronto in 1948 and was somewhat embarrassed when it was revealed he had had difficulty getting his mother’s consent to travel from Texas to Toronto. Well he must have gotten all “growed up” because his anthology “Another Kind” was published by Ballantine books, in pocket book form I guess because the price was only 35 cents.
Jack Williams (about whom I know nothing) describes Oliver’s writing as “mature” but also uses phrases like “The outcome is again conveniently unconvincing…” and “…a darn dreary life they read. A dreary story too.” Still, they were good enough to have been originally published in the likes of Astounding, If, and F&SF. Minor works perhaps.
Another work of fan fiction, this time by Peter Reaney, involves the dying screams of a child (being culled to prevent overpopulation) serving as a useful “back to work” siren for workers lollygagging in a park. Bit disturbing that.
In a LoC column titled “Terragraph” Famed American Fan Rick Sneary has some interesting comments, the first revealing something or another re the “morality” of 1950s television in the States: “In travel log films it is all right to show girls in Africa or the South Pacific nude to the waist, but not ‘white’ girls in low cut gowns. Even if the natives are better built by our standards. There may be some logic for it for us white folk, but what about the viewers who are the same colour as the natives?”
As for prolific fan writer John Berry “I feel very sorry for the fellow, being sucked dry by your leachish editors. I’m sure nothing can save him from burning out in the next 18 months…”
Kent Moomaw (who I wrote about in last week’s column) states: “I dig your Society for the Protection of Anita Eckberg’s Exterior the most; I would rather protect hers than any exterior I can think of.”
William Rotsler (one of the most famous fan artists of all time) writes “I did like the idea of the CAMBER ART FOLIO, though. Didn’t care much for the legal size. With few exceptions (such as GRUE or Willis-mags) I take apart those fanzines with my stuff in them and file. How in hell do I file legal size with letter? Shame on you. I must say I think it’s the first fanzine from England or Ireland that didn’t shed its back page immediately upon taking it from the envelope. You must practice the black arts.”
What? Are we to understand Rotsler ruthlessly tossed aside the dismembered issues of zines sent to him and kept only the pages with his art on them? That’s carrying egoboo too far don’t you think?
Actually, I’m lucky. My zines are never dismembered. Instead they are tossed aside in their entirety completely unread. Rather proud of that actually. Not all faneds can boast of this.
Then follows another story by Don Stufloten which is even more artsy and confusing then the first one, though not as morbidly depressing, yet still depressing. I can’t stand reading this kind of stuff anymore.
Interesting, though possibly depressing to some, is a serious article by John Berry detailing the various suicide aircraft utilized by the Germans and the Japanese during WWII. After which Alan Dodd reviews Yukihisa Suzuki’s “The Autobiography of a Kamikaze Pilot.” I remember reading that in the early sixties. I seem to recall the war ended before Suzuki’s training finished, or that his one mission was aborted for technical reasons. In any event both the German and Japanese pilots involved did not consider themselves suicides but simply pilots dedicating themselves to take out an enemy ship or airplane at a time when “normal” flights were just as dangerous.
An odd pair of articles for a science fiction fanzine to modern eyes perhaps, but in the fifties people were still attempting to understand what actually happened and why during the war (as opposed to wartime propaganda) and articles like these were quite relevant to that generation.
Remarkable to me, in that I have not read this before, according to John Berry “…after the atom bomb had been dropped, and the Japanese government capitulated in August, thirty kamikazes took off and crashed deliberately onto the aerodrome at Okinawa.”
I have my doubts, in that Okinawa was already in American hands, and surely any formation of Japanese fighters approaching from Japan would have been intercepted… but it does sound very Japanese (in terms of militaristic glory) so maybe there’s something to it.
CAMBER (#9) – Later in 1957
Faned: Alan Dodd. British Genzine.
In CAMBER #9 Dodd comments “There is a dearth of material in British fandom at the moment. Good material anyway. Everybody in British fandom died after the Worldcon – people just didn’t seem to write to each other anymore. The only ones who continued without being tainted by this strange and mysterious disease were myself and John Berry, neither of whom attended the convention.” Hmm, what is he implying?
Dodd is rather ruthless in reviewing 20th Century Fox’s THE BIG SHOW which apparently introduced some of the behind-the-scene creators.
“I am more convinced than ever that creators should never be seen… Darryl F. Zanuck – a broken-toothed, lisping hardhead, Elia Kazan narrow and frightened, and David O. Selznick the most physically repulsive slob of a man you ever saw. No – keep the creators undercover. We don’t want to see them.”
Then he reports “Recently you may recall a group of ambitious American businessmen selling deeds of land on the Moon to unsuspecting suckers… Now the Japanese Astronautical Society is selling deeds to land on Mars! Among the purchasers was a certain Colonel Nasser of Egypt who had a deed to 80 acres posted to him in Cairo by the Japanese External Recovery Organization. His neighbours on Mars would be Prince Yoshi, the Emperor’s son, and Prince Mikasa, the Emperor’s brother.”
Dodd then goes into a bit of a rant describing Nasser and the Japanese Royal family as “past masters of treachery” and recommending that the Martians read Lord Russell’s “Knights of the Bushido” (a very graphic account of Japanese atrocities which is still in print) in order to figure out what to do with their new neighbours. Feelings about the war still running high in Britain in the 1950s it seems.
I recall a Giles cartoon on the occasion of the Emperor Hirohito’s post-war visit to London depicting a cabbie stuck in traffic (held up by the passing of the Emperor’s entourage) remarking “This isn’t the first time the Honourable Son of Heaven made me late for lunch.”
I imagine the anti-Japanese feelings of the British public have subsided by now.
Anyway, what the heck was the “Japanese External Recovery Organization?” Sounds like something designed to help Japan recover from the latest rampage by Godzilla. Want to know more about it.
Bill Harry contributes an amusing but slight bit of fiction titled “The Teahouse of the August Satellite Moon” which I believe is somewhat inspired by the film with a similar title lacking the word “satellite” which starred Marlon Brando as a Japanese house boy. Has to be seen to be believed.
As does the following quote from the story “I had been too late, the —– caught me and gobbled me up. It did not gobble Mamie Van Pog up. It fell in love with her, married her, and took her to his home 20,000 fathoms below the Earth, for a centuries-long sleep-cum-honeymoon. And I am alone in the belly of this thingummybob, alone with the United States Marines, the top three stories of the Empire State Building, three lawnmowers, and fifty gallons of seawater.”
There’s a movie in there somewhere I suppose.
John Berry delivers a classic example of his work. Titled “Porta Triumphalis,” it reveals he’s been reading Gibbon’s “Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire” (always a bad sign). Impressed by the honour of a formal TRIUMPH to an outstandingly successful general, and that of an OVATION for less successful generals, he promptly translates these concepts into fannish terms.
He proposes “The Fannish Charter of Egoboo” which sets out the conditions for awarding “the vile-pro BNF (Big Name Fan), the full glory of a TRIUMPHAL BNFship,” and “for any other type of BNF, the slightly lesser delights of an OVATIONAL BNFship.”
To qualify for the TRIUMPHAL BNFship, a BNF must have been:
“a. Active in fandom for 15 years at least;
b. had over 25 short stories published, or 5 full length novels;
c. had his works translated into at least three different languages;
d. always retained a connection with amateur SF publications;
e. has plenty of money.”
To qualify for the OVATIONAL BNFship, a BNF must have been:
“a. Been an active faaan for at least 10 years;
b. published at least 50 fanzines (this total to include one-shots, or OMPA, FAPA, and SAPS zines);
c. has received a letter or postcard within the preceding six months from DAG.”
What in Ghu’s name is DAG? I have no idea.
The actual TRIUMPH, which takes place at Worldcons, includes such matters as:
“A male virgin neofan should be placed on a rostrum in a corner of the hall, dressed in pure white, and he should read out aloud at frequent intervals into a microphone the titles of all the TRIUMPHAL BNF’s works…”
“No effort should be spared to glorify the event. First in the long procession come several senior BNFs… Following these should come a choir of neofen, both male and female, waving aloft mimeo cranks… The titles of his books should be painted on large placards, carried by adulating but frustrating fen who haven’t sold professionally… If the TRIUMPHAL BNF has ever feuded, the opponents name should have been duplicated many thousands of times on dun-brown semi-absorbent paper, the paper torn into shreds, and the shreds strewn left and right in the path of the procession…”
Last but not least, the TRIUMPHAL BNF is to be carried into the hall on a litter which can be handily “constructed by pushing two brooms under a chair.”
The TRIUMPHAL BNF is expected to pay the beverage bill for the banquet which follows, but on the other hand “In the early hours of the morning, every single person bows his way out of the room, and Dave Jenrette enters with several young female neofen, who have been under his charge, and who (presumably) are only too pleased to acquiesce to every whim of the TRIUMPHAL BNF.”
You’d think this would become an instant fannish tradition, but an event of this nature has never taken place at any Worldcon as far as I’m aware. (Perhaps it is kept all very secret.)
In the LoC column Walt Willis comments on the cover of the previous issue “Now, this is more like a fanzine. Quite a girl, that. Very nice, yes sir. I don’t say I wouldn’t have noticed if it hadn’t been where it was, but isn’t her hand a bit big?”
“Yes, Stufloten can write. This is more than can be said for Reaney, whose piece was stupid and obnoxious in a peculiarly perverted sort of way. “
“I think I enjoyed best the two bits on suicide pilots, ordinarily the type of thing I skip in a fanzine. One thing I can’t understand about John’s piece is his surprise at the attitude of mind of these people. Why, his own behaviour while playing ghoodminton is practically the same thing.”
And Michael J. Moorcock (yes, the author) writes “Was duly shocked at the Rotsler nudes, which are as usual, entirely out of proportion – apart from the fact they have nippleless breasts… My covers don’t fall off either…and as for tearing them apart – that is hooliganism and I shall add it to Rotsler’s list of misdeam – er – wrongs… along with his nudes. Look at Jim Cawthorn’s nudes and see what I mean – they’re a tribute to womanhood – Rotsler’s are, if anything, sordid.”
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
And check out my brand new website devoted to my OBIR Magazine, which is entirely devoted to reviews of Canadian Speculative Fiction. Found at OBIR Magazine