Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Winterer 2008-09


The Challenger Editorial


This is a photo of Merritt in a boat



Merritt Green

1952 - 2008












In mid-November, Rose-Marie’s brother, Merritt Green, passed away suddenly at his home near Annapolis, Maryland. He was 56.

I didn’t know Merritt well, just that his sister adored him, that he enjoyed spectacular luck in his wife, Anni, that he had a neat job at one time detailing private airplanes, and that he had loved sailing. The house he and Annie shared on a branch of the Magothy River was adorned with equal numbers of Freas prints and nautical paintings, and his pier led out to a sailboat and a small yacht which he hoped to outfit and sail around the world.

Anni held a memorial for her husband shortly after his demise. On their TV, inside, played in a loop photos of Merritt from throughout his life. It was nice to see him as a proud new papa, as a happy Hawaiian-shirted bridegroom, as a sailor with his eyes to the horizon. Outside, Merritt’s friends gathered on the riverbank by the boats he loved so much. It was a cold day – snow fell in great clumps and incipient ice shimmered on the river surface – but Merritt’s friends warmed it with their music and their words. At the conclusion Merrit’s lovely daughter-in-law had us all sign a paper boat which she set afire on the river. Over Christmas, in Florida, his father Joe and stepmother Patty held a similar Viking funeral in the canal that runs behind their home.


Rosy asked me to inscribe a nautical poem into the memory book for her beloved brother. I may have gotten some lines a little wrong, but here they are as I remembered them.

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig my grave and let me lie
Glad did I live and gladly die
And I lay me down with a will.

This be the verse you ‘grave for me
Here he lies where he longed to be
Home is the sailor, home from the sea
And the hunter home from the hill.

Rest in peace, Merritt. You done good.


Creating genzines around a theme is supposed to make editing issues of Challenger easier, or so I’ve been told.. When I find the guy who first said that to me, RICH LYNCH, I may have some comments to add. Like, don’t choose sports as a theme. Challenger is a science fiction fanzine and, generally speaking, science fiction fans aren’t big on athletics.

Nevertheless, Challenger 29 is themed around sports and Challenger 29’s contributors came through. Here find appreciations of basketball, cricket, Australian Rules football (reprinted from my DUFF report, The Antipodal Route), tennis, quidditch, NASCAR, flog (“golf,” I mean), and several pieces on baseball, apparently the most fannish game around. From outside of the arena there’s a marvelous trip report by Nicki Lynch, a worldcon diary by Mike Resnick, a piece on extraterrestrials by Rich Dengrove, James Bacon on SF cover art, and a terrific op-ed on fannish generations by Warren Buff. I toss in a little piece of my own on mimeography, and the great Shelby Vick tells us all about his favorite crow. Poet Mike Estabrook adds two verses. A full issue, topped by the great Alan White and filled with illustrations by Kurt Erichsen, Brad Foster (whose generosity with “bots” is as awesome as his art), Sheryl Birkhead, William Rotsler, Alan Hutchinson. Wayne Thompson and Charlie Williams. Story time!

When you look at the three articles in this issue illustrated by my old friend Charlie, note the evolution in his technique. He’s moved from the pen to the mouse – witness the difference between his headings for “Those Good Old Days of Liquid Fuel” and Steve Silver’s “I Call it Loyalty”. But it is his marvelous illo for “The Right” that I need to talk about. It dates from 1995, but this is its first appearance. It almost didn’t make it this time.

Because although I exulted to Charlie about finally being able to use this drawing – on which he’d spent a great deal of time – I couldn’t find it in any of the usual places I keep art. I searched and searched – vainly – and worried that I’d have to apologize to Williams and run my Connors article without it. Then, Rosy and I switched to a larger storage unit – and I had to move everything. Deep in the recesses of our collected junk I found a box labeled “Kirbys”. Thinking I’d stashed Jack Kirby’s wonderful Fourth World series therein, I opened it, and right on top … Charlie’s illo! How about that?

Well, it seemed like a good story at the time.

At least I finally get to use this brilliant illo. (See Leatherface in the upper left corner?) Thanks, Charlie … thanks also Alan Hutchinson, who drew his Jimbo illo for a SFPA article in 1987, and thanks Wayne Thompson, whose drawing was stolen from the NOLa Times-Picayune. Thanks everybody. If this Challenger has any virtues, they are due to you.

So what about next time?

I chose my sports theme for this issue because of Alan White’s magnificent cover. The cover illustration I’ve found for Challenger #30 is also magnificent – in fact, it’s extraordinary. An unpublished painting by …

Sorry. I can’t tell you.

I can tell you the theme it suggests, and the theme I’m asking contributors to our 30th issue to consider. That is, I can try to suggest a theme, because it’s a rather vague idea. The theme is challenge – and how we answer it. How do we meet the difficulties that assault us? What sustains us? What gets us through? Faith? In what? Action? What kind? Hope? Why? Religion? What form? Science? How?

I’m aware of how amorphous this sounds. Let me put it another way. What do you believe in? How does it help? When has it helped?

Or … who’s cuter, Wall*E or R2D2? What do I care? Just write me something?

Finally, Rosy and I will be at Anticipation, where Joe Major and I plan to again host a Fan-Eds’ Feast for fanzine editors and their – our – supporters. Cathy Palmer-Lister – of Warp, the Montreal SF Society genzine – is searching for a site. JOIN US. And enjoy this issue.

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