(Words from the Subeditors)
This past week I've been living in dreams a lot. I blame it all on Eli Cohen (well-known demigafiate), and his and Linda Gerstein's recent party. I don't know what was in the onion dip -- onions, probably, and that noted hallucinogen, beef stock -- but I haven't been quite in the real world since. My life has been lived on the edge: grave danger and thrilling wonders. Tuesday, I was almost run over by one of New York's kamikaze taxi-drivers while lost in a reality of my own. The Big City is a place of excitement and rare delight when you're not looking where you're going.
My night dreams have been a bit strange, too. No, you haven't been appearing there, but maybe that person right behind you. They look just a bit familiar.
I'm not about to detail those classics, Stu's Dreams Of Yesteryear, like the one about Joan Vinge, Ben Zuhl, the President's daughter, and the orange juice, nor the more obscure one about the Revolutionary War battle fought around the Queensboro Plaza elevated station, nor the recent one about bringing peace to East and West through guacamole.
But last night, boyoboy, I had such a dream. This was after innumerable hours bent over a light-scope in the service of Truth, Justice and SFFY. I'd finally gone off to bed, leaving the fanzine cover barely begun. Knowing when to go home is like finally understanding that Lin Carter and Angela Carter aren't married to each other. It comes in a great flash of enlightenment: y'know, their stuff is nothing alike ...
Enclosed in a wrapping of frigid blanket, I watched the room frost over, a miniature blizzard in the area of the bookshelves blowing out to encompass the entire apartment. A Saint Bernard with a cooler of Pepsi slung around its neck came out from under the bed and poured me a tall cool glass. You know you're a BNF when even in your dreams strangers pour you a tall cool glass of Pepsi without your asking. The Saint Bernard explained that he was my guide to the Otherworld, which I thought was kinda cool although I preferred something a little less sectarian. Not knowing any secular humanist breeds, however, we decided to hang out together for a while. I put on the new Christine Lavin album for him while I got dressed. He seemed to like it, so I gave him the address of J & R Discount Records by City Hall and then left the rest to him. Indeed, left all of him, for soon I found myself at the edge of a muddy field, alone and with no notion of what to do. But Dave Hartwell was there, in a pair of day-glo tartan pants (Clan MacFreak or MacFilmore) and a Ken Fletcher cartoon necktie. He told me that Jon Singer said hello, and that we had to cross the mud to get to the past. I was naturally appalled.
"What! David, I can't do that. These are my new shoes! Why do I always have to walk in the mud when I have new shoes?" Dave told me that I had no choice, so we crossed. I tried to walk on the muddy surface's top only, so as not to ruin my shoes again.
Then we were in Australia in 1944. I'd been disappointed to miss Aussiecon because of my operation, but Western Australia in 1944 was a bit on the ridiculous side. I think that Lucy Huntzinger was there, too, but only for a minute. I didn't see her for the rest of the dream. I was walking down the street into a public park when I realized that this was the alternate Australia of the novel I've been meaning to write. The park was the "Israel Zangwill Memorial Park"; this was the world where Western Australia had been colonized by territorial Zionists and was now the Aussie state of Zion. This was the city of Herzlton, the alternate-world Perth. Even in my dream, this touched my sense of wonder: goshwowoboyoboy.
A band in a gazebo was playing a klezmer version of "Waltzing Matilda." The Great War memorial had some benches in front of it. I sat down to contemplate the inscriptions on the stone. My maternal grandfather's name was down as having been killed at Gallipoli. This made me depressed and I cried, and the sky became a deep cobalt blue. A zeppelin floated by, with a London double-decker bus towed behind. I found this peculiar and laughed, and the sky lightened again.
A policeman in the uniform of the Shomrim, the Zion State Constabulary, walked up to me. "Excuse me, sir, but we're arresting all out-time visitors today. Could you come with me, please?" I went along to an outback kibbutz where I was interviewed by a red-tab officer of the Territorials. He wanted to have me prove that I was from a future. I looked through everything in my shoulder-bag. Unfortunately, the only thing with a date on it was the new SCIENCE-FICTION FIVE-YEARLY. I handed it to him. It was obvious that he was anticipating some amazing sci-fi world-of-the-future magazine with three-dimensional color illustrations and energy-field binding. He seemed a little disappointed.
"Hey, what's the story with this magazine? It's just mimeographed -- we can do that now!" This is when Fred Haskell rescued me with his flying guitar.
Have you noticed that some non-fans just never understand about fanzines?
REPORT ON THE ONGOING PLOT:
[p & t nh]
As he recently revealed in his editorial for SFFY #7, Dan Steffan's publication of that issue was only an incidental part of his vast, all-encompassing 1 plot to flatten fandom beneath himself and become its Rilly Supreme Being. For those of you who have not yet received #7, Dan explains there how he had some sort of illuminating experience at the 1980 Noreascon -- white light, sourceless music, strange numinous figures appearing before him to dispense advice (among other things, they told him to publish something called PONG) -- which he identifies as the genesis of his ambition. We have seen Dan Steffan at worldcons, and we believe that he is telling the truth.
From there it's no great leap to the conclusion that he's succeeded. Dan Steffan is in fact fandom's Rilly Supreme Being, and much that was previously unclear now makes sense. Consider the ontological argument: Given the frequency of fans' alluding to the "person(s) who run fandom", and/or accusing various parties of trying to run fandom, it logically follows that some such entity must actually exist in order to give rise to the idea. (Cf. Aquinas, "My Good Buddy God," in A BIRD UP YOUR EAR #4.) Someone is running fandom, and there's a certain aesthetic ... consistency of tone ... in thinking that it's Dan Steffan. Besides, he's already copped to it and won't argue with us.
"But," as Gary Farber, Master of Fannish Pilpul, would doubtless interject if he were here instead of off somewhere in Brooklyn having Thanksgiving dinner at his mother's house, which is why we're doing his lines for him, "you have merely established the necessary existence of someone who is trying to run fandom, and god knows why he or she is doing it." Gary frequently affects to be blasé about such matters, mostly because he used to run fandom himself. He gave up on the project, he says. Gary says a lot of things.
"Aha!" we rejoinder rejoinderishly. He has fallen into our logical trap; it is all a setup, and we will for once win an argument with Gary while he is off in Brooklyn. Hope your mother's turkey was worth it, har har. Obviously, if Dan Steffan were only trying to become fandom's Rilly Supreme Being, his maneuverings would still be visible. But the last fanac we saw Dan engage in -- so long ago that it's been written up in RUNE -- involved spending about six hours trying to get Reddi-whip out of his sinuses. If that was a fannish power-grab it displayed an almost unthinkable subtlety of approach: hardly his style. Ergo, it is certain that Dan has in fact had his way with all fandom. QED.
Furthermore! Why else, in the dying days of PONG, did we suddenly begin to receive urgent communications from all corners of the aether, instructing us to undertake the manifestly loony task of publishing a small-fast-frequent-regular fanzine in its stead? With the result, mind you, that we're spending our weekends cranking out IZZARD (Over Two Years Late! The Fanzine That Ate Washington Heights!) while Mr. Steffan lounges about in Washington D.C., applying soothing draughts of lactose to his much abused nose, and his erstwhile co-editor, Ted "Theodore" White, pursues a lifestyle more sedentary still. And why did God leave an electric Gestetner 320 on a sidewalk in the neighborhood of the U.N., if he didn't intend us to print SCIENCE-FICTION FIVE-YEARLY on it? Our lives are acted upon by mysterious forces.
1 (breath-taking, mind-boggling, eye-rattling, pulse-pounding, fingernail-biting, compound of a noun and the present participle of a verb to form an adjective, earth-shattering ...)
Actually, the mysterious forces initially employed John Carl for their purposes, possibly because he was wandering around aimlessly in that neighborhood at the time. This was during the period after he'd left Seattle to come live in New York, but before he left again to work undercover for the CIA. Once he'd phoned to see if we wanted the Gestetner and then brought the thing uptown by cab, and we'd paid off the fare plus the horrendous bribe John had had to promise the cabbie to persuade him to transport a heavy, ink-laden piece of machinery on the car's upholstery, and we'd kicked John out with his reward -- a subway token, clutched in his sweaty paw -- we settled down to get intimate with the mimeo. And rediscovered an ancient fannish verity: The Enchanted Duplicator is the one with the trufan out hunting up a replacement for its silkscreen. The allegorical significance of this is too familiar to remark upon, so also with the perpetually-clogged ink gun; fandom is just Like That some days.
The gunk on the gears called for more ingenuity. The discovery came as a shock to us; in all our years in fandom we'd never seen anything quite like the greasy, parrafinoid, queasy-yellow crud that Person or Persons Unknown had poured all over the gears. We blew the coverplates off this scandal, letting it stand naked to the merciless light of day, and schpritzed the gears unstintingly with a plant-mister filled with ditto fluid. And it ran, after a fashion, until that bleak day when the machine let out a grinding burp! and started running backwards.
Ah, but this is a digression, and here too the true allegorical meaning of events is too clear to require our explication. But consider, in its light, the fact that it was Dan Steffan who finked out of the 1984 TAFF race, which led directly to the chain of events that resulted in our inheriting TAFF plus enough fanpolitical headaches to choke a quorum of smofs. It was Dan Steffan who shook the hatful of name-slips at the 1986 Corflu, when Terry Carr drew Teresa's name. The concept of "Guest of Honor" abruptly acquired a new complexion minutes later ("Aside from the honor and the glory of the thing," Teresa said, "it's a lot like getting pied,") and she was driven to deliver a give-'em-hell GoH speech that spoiled forever her carefully-cultivated pose as Harmless Dupe. In all the crucial turning points of our recent fannish career, in fact, the hand of Dan Steffan can be detected somewhere behind our heads, making surreptitious bunny ears.
But what is the purpose of it all? Dare we ask? -- we murmur to ourselves, as we watch fandom's erratic gyrations and reflect that Dan Wants It This Way. In his position as Supremo of that all-powerful fannish cabal known in dark taverns and bazaars from Van Nuys to High Holborn Street as "The Guys," it may be that he's marked us out as the suckers most likely to take this "fanac" biz off his hands. Having forged us with IZZARD, hammered us into shape with TAFF, and tempered our cutting edge in a bath of cream pie, his final act has been to distantly manipulate us into publishing SFFY while he consolidates his position as Rilly Rilly Supreme Being. Unto himself he gathers the power and glory that is fandom -- the six-thousand-person Worldcons, the endless flow of barely readable fanzines, the flotsam and jetsam of cons and house parties from coast to coast, from Australia to Sweden, from Edmonton all the way to the (whisper it) mysterious Caribbean; the endless politicking, back-breaking unpaid labor, worries and hassles ...
Amen. So be it.
Many are called, but few are chosen; fixing the mimeo seems more our speed anyway. It now spins in the right direction again. That's enough. We walk softly, and try not to talk to any strange burning bushes.
[-- p & t nh]
All the favorite excuses! Five record set! You get them all!
"I haven't got the money." "The stencils fell apart!" "I lost all the artwork."
Old favorites such as:
"The Bob Shaw Fund closed out in 1971." "Do you know how much slush I have to read?"
And state-of-the-art modern excuses like:
"Lucy changed her mind." "Teresa hasn't finished her article yet."
Don't stop, don't delay. VISA and MASTERCARD accepted. Rush $29.95 to 10037
Broadway Terrace, Oakland, CA 94611. Once-in-a-lifetime offer! Hours of fun!
Send money today!
Data entry by Judy Bemis
Hard copy provided by Geri Sullivan
Data entry by Judy Bemis
Updated November 10, 2002. If you have a comment about these web pages please send a note to the Fanac Webmaster. Thank you.