(illo: "intense excitement")


destined to go down in history -- the Thirty
Years' War, the Seven-Year Itch, and
Science-Fiction Five-Yearly.

My own feeling is one of empathy. For I
myself went down in history -- long ago,
when I was in the fifth grade -- also spelling,
arithmetic, and nuclear physics. But that is
another story, and much too clean to interest
readers like yourself.

Let us return, instead, to a consideration of the
chronologically-christened calamities listed above.

The Thirty Years' War is something I know
very little about, since it occurred before my time.
If you want a first-hand account, ask Walt Willis.

When it comes to the Seven-Year Itch, I'm on
slightly firmer ground: I've endured this phenomenon
approximately nine times during my life and in
another year I expect to be up to scratch again.

But the Science-Fiction Five-Yearly is something
of which I can speak with authority. I have written
for this publication continuously since its inception,
shortly after Lee Hoffman had his sex-change operation
and became a girl -- a transformation for which we are
all duly grateful.

In fact, fans have ample reason to be grateful to Lee Hoffman. With the exception of the Science-Fiction Five-Yearly she has never done anything to demean, demoralize, or destroy fandom. Which is pretty much like saying that Adolf Hitler was a real neat guy, aside from the Holocaust and starting World War II.

Mind you, I'm not comparing Hoffman's publication with a world war, nor implying that reading an issue of S-F 5-Y is the equivalent of being incarcerated in a concentration camp. For one thing, her publishing career went on for considerably longer than WW2 -- or even the Thirty Years' War, for that matter. And Lee Hoffman can never be accused of racism. She has always insisted that some of her best friends are fans.

Or were, before reading the Science-Fiction Five-Yearly.

By this time the intelligent reader (and I'm almost sure there's one of you out there) must be beginning to wonder just what it is about this intermittent publication which raises my hackles -- me, of all people, who was once noted for having the lowest hackles in town.

The answer can be found in the phrase employed in the preceding paragraph -- "intermittent publication."

The newspaper comes out every day, rain or shine. Time and Newsweek and TV Guide pop up weekly, most other magazines make a regular appearance each month, and there seem to be at least six new Stephen King novels published every year.

As a result these frequent and familiar fixtures of fact or fiction, arriving at their appointed moments, do little or nothing to remind us of the passage of time. The newspapers' daily disasters tend to blur into a continuum of calamity; the magazines with their weekly woes (which by all means includes the listing of television programs) come in such rapid succession that we can scarcely distinguish any elapsed duration. Waiting for a monthly magazine or the bi-monthly Stephen King book does sometimes give us a slight indication that time isn't standing still, but it's easy enough to shrug off such considerations. After all, what's a month out of our lives, more or less? And as for the King books, they're getting to be so long that they take two months to read anyway, so we haven't really lost any time at all.

But Science-Fiction Five-Yearly is, to be sure,
a horse of another color. A pale white bony nag
bearing a skeleton rider, armed with the symbolic
scythe of the Grim Reaper. Every five years this
messenger of mortality gallops forth, and every
five years I say, "Hey -- wait a minute! Not another --
it can't be time yet, it's too soon!" But when I clamber
down into the sub-basement and fight the rats off
the piles of fanzines -- sure enough, the last issue
of the Science-Fiction Five-Yearly bears a publication
date five years old.

(illo: Shiffman: fannish Grim Reaper)

Dorian Gray had a picture in the attic. Me, I've got
Science-Fiction Five-Yearly in the basement. It's
things like this that drove Oscar Wilde.

On the other hand, there is, I admit, a certain reassurance
in it all: the magazine still comes out and I still write in.
Over the incredible stretch of years, with their incredible
events and non-events, it's rather comforting to know that
fans like Lee Hoffman have never lost sight of this goal --
even if that goal is to drive us a little whacko with this
recurrent reminder of time's passage.

As a matter of fact, I've come to look forward to the zine,
and will be properly happy to read at least another
eight or ten issues.

Even if they do contain articles by Bob Tucker.

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.