Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Winter 2008



Sometimes I look back nostalgically upon the glorious ambitions with which I founded Challenger. Back in the fall of 1993 I was very specific about what I wanted to present. "Material of interest to the adult male fan." For a fandom steeped in feminism and political correctness, as SF was at the time, it seemed a worthy and somewhat daring goal. At long last, 14 years later, I believe I've reached the essence of that theme.

Gaze upon our contents! Bathe in testosterone as "Zenkitty" discusses date etiquette, Binker Hughes takes us to Antiques Roadshow, and Julia Morgan-Scott deals with that snarlingly masculine concern, arm fat! *Snort* *Stomp* That'll put your prostate into orbit!

Well, all of these pieces are grand fun, and there's more to Challenger #27. If you look carefully, you'll even find a theme. I've often perused some of the fine fanzines that have come my way and admired their use of thematic material. Rich & Nicki Lynch were particularly adept at this in Mimosa. I have been lousy at this; the only times Chall has suggested and maintained a common subject throughout an issue have been issues 10, 15, 16 and 23 -- and those were grim stuff, Columbine, 9/11, the death of Ray Lafferty, and Katrina. Other issues have blundered onto topics popular with several contributors, but mostly I've been both lucky and grateful to have had excellent people filling my publications with whatever the hell they wanted to give me. But now, inspired by Ken Mitcheroney's marvelous cover -- originally sent my way in 1981 -- and by my insistence on honoring composer and performer Ruth Judkowitz as this issue's tributee, I chose to form this issue around music.

This was a strange decision for me, since I can't carry a tune in Samsonite and my only personal experience with music was a discouraging experiment with drum lessons when I was a whelp. In fact, my musical knowledge can be summed up in a phrase: "Ask Dennis Dolbear. If he doesn't know, ask Rick Coleman." You all know DD; Rick's the author of Blue Monday, an award-winning biography of Fats Domino, and between them, he and Dolbear know everything about early rock'n'roll. Dennis and Rick promise music talk a'plenty in future Challs. Dennis' "Cookin' with Fats" this time is a reprint from Chall's aforementioned first issue.

In addition, Warren Buff, a new and enthusiastic voice in North Carolina fandom, talks rock'n'roll, James Bacon explores the rock roots of Robert Rankin, Mike Resnick contributes a great listing of SF/fantasy stage musicals, sublimely illustrated by Kurt Erichsen, and Gary Robe -- who was also part of Chall #1; remember his black vinyl pants? -- shares a unique adventure from the road -- a happy one, this time. (Which is to say, no kidnappings!)

So where's an article about filk? About SF movie music from Bernard Herrmann to John Williams to Danny Elfman? About how to play a theremin? Good questions! Write such articles and I'll print them!

Joseph Green, author, NASA retiree and *ahem* my father-in-law, writes about the predictive ability of his friend Arthur C. Clarke, and Greg Benford remembers his friend Sid Coleman. Not music-oriented but most valuable and diverting. My own contributions also aren't musical, I fear. Continuing an irregular series on the great fannish moments of my life is "Wake Up and Smell the Coffin!", an account of Confederation and the New Orleans worldcon bid that succeeded there. Later, Greg and I eulogize Hank Reinhardt, friend to all of us, and a great, great soul. I come to praise Reinhardt, not to bury him ...

Speaking of praise ... At Nippon 2007, the Yokohama world science fiction convention, the Hugo for Best Fanzine was copped by The Science Fiction Five-Yearly, founded by Lee Hoffman in the 1950s. Its 12th issue, edited by Geri Sullivan and Randy Byers, carried on her tradition with zest and style, and was undoubtedly the best single zine published in 2006. Not only a nice coup for Geri and Randy, the honor was an appropriate and overdue gesture towards LeeH. I salute them all.

Challenger placed second in the competition. This is higher than ever before, and I'm both tickled and jazzed -- which means I'm pleased and very inspired. So I'm pulling out the stops for Denver. Challenger #28 will appear in the spring of 2008 and #29 is scheduled for the summer. Themes are in the works -- inspired by the covers by Sheryl Birkhead and Alan White, I'm thinking about pets/critters for #28 and games/sports for #29. If a guy with a tin ear can edit a zine about music, then why can't that same guy -- whose idea of physical exertion is stretching for the TV remote -- do one about SF and athletics? Contributions begged for. Contact me with ideas!

Special gratitude to la belle Rose-Marie for her laser-eyed copy-editing, to Patti Green for maintaining our website, and a call to all to please, continue to support DUFF.



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