Review: Outworlds 71: Afterworlds

Outworlds 71 / Afterworlds

Item Weight3.14 pounds
Paperback506 pages
Dimensions8.5 x 1.14 x 11 inches
PublisherIndependently published (November 11, 2020)
Language : English

This is going to be perhaps the strangest, and certainly the oddest, “book” review I have ever written.

I’ve said “strange” and “odd” and, while they can usually be taken as close cousins, making their use somewhat redundant, there is no actual redundancy, because in this case their usage makes a distinction.

This review is “strange” because, well, you’ll see.  Or read as the case may be.

This review is “odd” because I’ve never written a review like this one.

Why is this review different from all other reviews?

To begin with, I’ve not read the content.

In fact, I’ve not even tried to read the content.  In the case of every other book, story and magazine review I’ve ever written, I have at least tried to read the content.  So far as at least books go, you kinda have to, because otherwise every review of any book would be exactly the same:  it has a front and a back cover and a variable number of pages between them.

Magazines you can at least talk about the layout, or the graphics, or the lamentable shape of the short fiction market as reflected by any particular example.  Stories I’ll ignore because I can’t think up a reasonable lame excuse for why you don’t have to read it to review it.

However, the major reason that this is a strange review is because it is not so much a review as it is a recommendation on how to use this book.

No, I’m not going to say doorstop.

In fact, it’s not going to be about how someone can use the book so much as it is going to be about the ways in which Fandom can use this book to solve some of this world’s most vexing problems, bring joy and comfort to millions and confer upon Fandom the degree of respect and societal influence it has so richly deserved for decades.

Put simply, we need to start a fund that will purchase multiple copies of Outworlds 71 and, with appropriate modifications, provide them to police and military forces throughout the United States and the world.  Two copies each.

The modifications involved are relatively simple: a harness is constructed that can be worn as a vest and which will hold a copy of Outworlds 71 over the chest and another copy of Outworlds 71 over the back.  The retention system for the books is arranged in such a way as to allow the books to be opened and read – probably some kind of velcro flap, given their penchant for velcro.

When used, the copy of Outworlds 71 on the chest is mounted upside down so that the wearer need simply look down at their chest in order to be able to read that copy.  The back-mounted copy of Outworlds 71 is mounted upright, allowing a buddy or a backup to read that copy.

I assure you.  Outworlds 71 is sufficiently thick to serve as more than adequate ballistic protection, and at a far lower cost than traditional body armor.  Police Departments across the country would save millions, assisting them in their defunding efforts and helping to forge a strong, positive relationship between establishmentarian police forces and radical disruptive Fandom.  All it will take is one cop saying to a reporter “Outworlds 71 saved my life!” on national TV and it will be all over but for the shouting.

So far as the adoption by military forces are concerned, well, traditional military-industrial complex manufacturers will be unable to compete effectively against the cost-saving measures of a ballistic protection system that can be funded out of the Morale, Welfare and Recreation bucket of the budget.  (Four Stars are much fonder of ordnance than they are of protective gear; saving money on defense means more money for offense, an argument that few military leaders would be able to deny.)

Of course, neither the fuzz nor the buzz cuts will twig to the truly insidious nature of this plan for world domination.

Remember the harness specification?  Where it said that Outworlds 71 (bet you were wondering if I’d forgotten to write “Outworlds 71” again) would be readable while it was in the harness?  Remember that?

Beyond the obvious fact that people who are reading are people who are not shooting (or doing much of anything else beyond reading), which by itself would be a huge contribution towards world peace, is the influence that Fannish writings would have upon the MLE (Military & Law Enforcement) mind.

Yes, there would be some percentage who would be driven mad by the experience but, where’s the loss?  We’ve removed an unstable individual, excuse me, an armed unstable individual, from a position of authority.  That looks like a bonus feature to me.

Those with greater mental fortitude though can’t help but be influenced in a positive manner.  Certainly some will resist.  They may rail and rant and dismiss and argue.  They might even LoC in some extreme cases.  But the fact is – they’re confronted with it EVERY DAY, and if the Trump administration has proven anything, it is that Goebbels was right – “…the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”  Of course, in the case of Outworlds 71, “the State” is the State of Mundanity, a somnambulist dream that Fannish writings will dispel like an alarm clock set to radio static and volume set to 12.

Wake up in the morning and put Outworlds 71 on.  End the long, boring, hurry up and wait day by taking Outworlds 71 off.  Sit down to lunch with your partner, Outworlds 71 (upside down) is staring you in the face.  Bowb your buddy and Outworlds 71 (rightside up) is staring you in the face (though I do suppose that Outworld 71’s orientation does depend upon how you bowb your buddy).  Line up for that crack house breach and there it is, Outworlds 71, in your face.  Make ready for that HALO drop into enemy territory and, there it is, Outworlds 71, front and center.

Eventually, the Fannish message will get through.

Further, citizens interacting with Law Enforcement and/or military personnel will be more at ease, if only owing to the new colorful look and who knows, a potentially fraught situation could be instantly de-escalated when someone in the crowd asks a cop “Have you read…?” and the cop answers “Yeah, and how about those illos?”

Life is supposed to be fun, and challenging, and full of wonder, and playful, and questioning, and critical and silly.  In short, life is supposed to be Fannish, and the sooner everyone gets the message, the better off we will all be.

I can’t think of a better way to working towards that goal than to distribute and read Outworlds 71/Afterworlds.

You can buy your copy on Amazon, here.  (For some reason, I could not get it to come up under its own name in the Amazon search bar.)


Bill Bowers was a fanzine fan – nominated five times for a Best Fanzine Hugo, winning the Faan Award in 1999;  he was Fan GoH at Iguanacon, the 36th Worldcon in Phoenix, AZ in 1978, a convention I was working and debuting my own efforts in Fanzine land (for more on that story, see here.)

Perhaps this is why I find that the internal layout of my own (best) fanzine effort – the third issue of Contact:SF A journal of Speculative Literature – seems to resemble Outworld’s layout so much.  Bill was one of the first fanzine editors of note to engage with offset (as opposed to mimeo) printing for ‘zines, and Contact followed suit.  I know I have prior issues of Outworlds in my fanzine collection;  my partner Joseph Zitt and I must have been influenced by his style.

Contact:SF left, Outworlds 71, right

Of course, there’s no real comparison: Outworlds 71 is by far a much more impressive and better layed out publication, more sophisticated, more refined – and a pleasure to look at.

I only raise the comparison to illustrate how influential Bill – who passed in 2005 – has been on Fandom and fanzines in particular.  That his friends took his uncompleted project – a massive undertaking – and brought it to print to honor his legacy speaks at least a volume – one probably the size of Outworlds 71.

There’s a nice bit in File 770 if you would like to learn more.  And you can learn more about Bill here.

And, now that this is done, I’ll have time to dive into the 506 pages of Outworlds 71’s Fannish goodness.  I think you should too.


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