(illo: Stu Shiffman: "I am Lee Hoffman -- and this is not a fanzine for leetle bhoys ...")

I REALLY SHOULDN'T SAY THIS, but I have a sneaking suspicion living in Florida can be hazardous to one's health. Florida, or at least this part of it, seems to be a regular residence of the Peripatetic Black Hole. You know the one. It manifests itself hither and yon, swallowing up things like the pencil you had in your hand a moment ago, or that batch of stamps you bought Wednesday, or the great idea you had for an SF novel just before you fell asleep last night.

I think it is swallowing me. Piecemeal. When I first moved here fifteen years ago, I soon disappeared from general fandom. A while after that I dropped out of FAPA. Until SunCon I was just about unheard-of, and after SunCon I disappeared again. I never pubbed an ish myself again.

This curious curse even reaches out through the mails, its force field riding the eagle of the U.S. Postal Service to devour at miles' distance from this epicenter.

(illo:Lee Hoffman traced by Stu: "Feeding the Black Hole").

Last lustrum I recurred long enough to commission that fan among fen, Dan Steffan, to guest-publish the 1981 issue of SFFY. Diligent despite an onset of obstacles to his fanac, like getting married, moving, and being very ill, Dan prevailed and produced a peerless issue. I know. I not only saw it myself, I have eyewitness confirmation from fans in the D.C. area. Then Dan made the fatal mistake of mailing it out.

(illo: Shiffman: "Hole in scientific isolation container")

It was never seen again.

In the ensuing lustrum, I have noticed the Black Hole striking time after time. It wipes out the locs I plan to send to various fanzine editors before I can even get them on paper. It swallows letters I intend answering tomorrow. I started writing a column for MICROWAVE, and shortly (allowing for the time difference between Florida and England) MICROWAVE disappeared.

Yes, even as I was typing this, I discovered it had got away with three sectors of my word-processing program.

So, if you're not reading this, and you never hear from Stu Shiffman and the Nielsen Haydens again, you know what happened.

(illo: LeeH: "Professor Wunstone tries to produce a Black Hole in a residential environment")

Data entry by Judy Bemis
Hard copy provided by Geri Sullivan

Data entry by Judy Bemis

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