Chapter ten: READERVILLE

And so they laughed at Jack Fugghead and went back to tell their friends.

"I certainly hope we won't have to go through Readerville on our way to the Fraudling County," said Dorothy, remembering that the wild Jack Fugghead lived there.

The lion assured her that the road did not go through Readerville, but that they would have to pass quite close to it, as did all travellers in this part of Iz. "You see," said the Lion, "people in Readerville never have any children, as they are much too much busy with other things. Thus, if no travellers ever passed that way, it would soon become a ghost town."

"And a fine thing that would be, too, if you ask me," exclaimed the Tin Woodsfan, scowling. "Why, I've never seen a more useless place in all the land of Iz. Those people spend all their time reading science fiction. That's their only reason for living, just to read of the future. If they'd only stop to think, they'd know that all they'll be doing in the future is sitting in their chairs, still reading."

"Yes," said the Scarecrow, "and it all seems terribly silly to me, anyway, because in Iz there is no such thing as time. No one ever grows old. We don't even have any ridiculous things like different periods of fandom, like Seventh Fandom or whatever it was you people in outside fandom call it."

"The only good thing in Readerville," said the Lion, "is their library, where they keep copies of science fiction magazines. But all those copies are terribly worn out from being read so much. They have all sorts of unsanitary eyetracks all over them, and the spines are broken because the readers fold their magazines over when they read."

"There," said the Scarecrow, pointing. "You can see the towers of the central library just over the next down. Do you see the central tower, in the shape of a rocketship, and the Gerns-goyles on each of the smaller towers?"

"Oh, yes!" exclaimed Dorothy. "Why, it's beautiful! Such lovely window-designs, and oh! what remarkable colors and architecture! Why, the Gerns-goyles look just as if Rotsler had done them! I should think it would take the work of hundreds of fans to build such a thing."

"No, one fan did it all," said the Scarecrow. "But you can see only the front of it from here. As we pass by the city, you will be able to see the rear of the building, and judge for yourself what manner of fans these be who erect monuments to space flight and science fiction. You see, the building was never completed."

"Why, that's almost sinful," said Dorothy. "I should think that such a lovely building as this would inspire fans to work very hard on it."

"Yes, it did. The Builder, a fan named Walter Doorty, worked many many years on the first half. He was responsible for all the expensive and difficult work that was done on it. Then he couldn't make up his mind about what sort of design to put on one window in the very back, and spent so long thinking about this that everyone in Readerville lost interest in the project. It is still a very grand building, however, even if it isn't finished."

The companions walked faster as they approached Readerville, and while they could see and hear the readers in the town calling to them for aid on their projects, they kept right on walking, and none of them felt any desire to stop. As they passed by the town, Dorothy could indeed see the incomplete structure of the central library, and through the unfinished walls she could see shelves and shelves of science fiction magazines and books.

"My," she said, "it certainly is a wonderful thing."

(Data entered by Judy Bemis)