In 1960, Cry of the
Nameless, one of the leading fanzines of the day, published my
first letter of comment and I received an official Cry Letterhack
Card. I had arrived! As a fresh-faced neofan, I couldn't have
Then in 1962, at Chicon
III, I saw Cry's lettercol editor, Wally "Wastebasket"
Weber, and grandly presented my Cry Letterhack Card for his autograph.
Weber looked at the card in wonder and remarked that he hadn't
seen one of those in a long time. I guess two years can encompass
an era in fandom. The glory of possessing a Cry Letterhack Card
lost some of its luster when I learned that the Cry lettercol
editor had almost forgotten them. I may have been the last Cry
letterhack to receive one. Sic Transit Egoboo.
By 1970, I was a faithful
reader of Richard E. Geis' Science Fiction Review, perhaps the
leading fanzine of the day. I didn't contribute many locs; the
battles in SFR were far too fierce for a diffident soul like
me. But when the prozine review column didn't appear for a couple
of issues, I wrote to Dick and urged him not to neglect the SF
magazines. He wrote back and, noting that I was bright and articulate,
invited me to take over the prozine review job. Yeek.
Well, I banged out
a column and sent it in. Dick published it with a really great
masthead drawn by Tim Kirk. Wow. I had a byline in one of the
most widely read fanzines of the 1970s. With swelling enthusiasm
I composed another column and it appeared in the next issue,
which was also the last.
Dick Geis was one
of the greatest faneds of all time, but he had one character
flaw (well, one that is relevant here). Sizzling with energy
and ambition, he would create a focal-point fanzine, win a gaggle
of Hugos, and then become introspective and decide that he wanted
to do more with his life. So he would kill his award-winning
fanzine, to the despairing shrieks and wails of his vast readership.
Then a few years later he would miss it all and begin again.
He did it in the 1950s with Psychotic (retitled Science Fiction
Review), in the 1970s with SFR, and in the 1980s with The Alien
Critic (also, inevitably, retitled SFR).
So just as I was on
the verge of becoming a Big Deal as a regular columnist in one
of the top fanzines of all time, poof. And just to make
sure that the last drop of egoboo was drained away, a review
of SFR in Locus declared that the prozine review column was crap.
When I finished the
first draft, I looked it over and decided that it might rate
a better venue than the local club newsletter. So I boldly sent
it to Rich and Nikki Lynch, who published "That Was Then,
This Is Now" in Mimosa 26. Woohoo! I was a contributor to
another Hugo-winning fanzine. And to top it off, Rich informed
me that as a Mimosa contributor, I was now entitled to the status
of Life Subscriber.
In the next issue,
of course, Rich and Nikki announced that they were cashing in
their chips, and Mimosa 30 would be the last. Oh well, after
forty years of arriving late at every party, I was becoming philosophical.
But for old-time's sake, I made sure to provide a second contribution
for the final issue of Mimosa.
Then, just as that
Götterdämmerung was pending, I received a complimentary
copy of Burstzine #1 from Michael and Nomi Burstein. Gosh. I
felt like Harry Warner. Back in my neofan days, no one sent me
the first issue of their fanzine unsolicited. Michael and Nomi
included an appeal for contributions in that inaugural issue,
and I felt obliged to respond.
My essay titled "Napoleon,
Tucker, and Me" in Burstzine #2 again earned me the rank
of Life Subscriber. Elated, I began writing this memoir with
a future Burstzine in mind. Alas, it has now been three years
since Burstzine #2.
Note that my second
column for SFR appeared in its last issue, and my second contribution
to Mimosa appeared in its final issue. Now it seems that the
mere act of preparing a second contribution is enough to kill
the targeted fanzine, even before submission.
It is therefore with
the deepest foreboding that I am submitting this essay to Guy
for Challenger. If published, this will be my second contribution
to this estimable fanzine. I suppose its mere appearance should
be considered a triumph of sorts, after what happened with Burstzine.
Then again, let's
look on the bright side. My locs in Cry, my columns in SFR, and
my essays in Mimosa all appeared in Hugo-winning fanzines (hell,
even the dismissive Locus review of my SFR column appeared in
a Hugo-winning fanzine). So even if this does prove to be the
final, doomed issue of Challenger, maybe lightning will
strike and Guy will at last find himself barred from the Hugo
And while I'm thinking
about it, I need to figure out a way to get a couple of contributions
published in Locus (heh heh heh). .