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[page 2] FRANKLY SPEAKING... I am seated before a roaring fire in the Franklin fireplace of our cabin situated just a few miles from the base of majestic Mount Rainier. I have been watching the flames, particularly what I call the fire- worms. These are the result of a peculiar burning off of the soot which has collected on the baffle of the fireplace. The flames, prevented from going directly up the chimney, burn this soot so that it forms small, glimmering worms of sparks that can fascinate for hours. I have been mulling over the birth of a new fanzine, how the idea got started, the amount of effort necessary to write and produce the first issue, and even whether it ever ought to come into being. In J.R.R. Tolkien's _Lord of the Rings_ the hobbits have many occasions when they wish that they were all safe and sound in the Shire. Mayhap, we, too, will have occasions to wish that we had never begun this journey. Bee Bowman and I have been corresponding by tape for some time now. The emphasis of our conversations has been on fantasy, and particularly that of J.R.R. Tolkien. Many have been the times that we have complained that we wished that issues of the Tolkien fanzines were published more often. We wait expectantly at our mailboxes like small children before a case of penny candy. And yet we understand the busy lives of those persons who edit such magazines and are truly grateful for their existence at all. Ed Meskys, bless his heart, not only continues the best of them all, NIEKAS, with the help of Felice Rolfe, but also has taken over the publication of the TOLKIEN JOURNAL. Dick Plotz shall forever be remembered for fathering the Tolkien Society of America and the TOLKIEN JOURNAL. Greg Shaw, after several issues, has apparently written finis to ENTMOOT, although rumor has it that it may still continue. And I PALANTIR is circulated to only a select group. Perhaps, then, we can fill the gap left by the demise of ENTMOOT. It is not our intent, however, to emphasize the languages of Middle Earth. That is not to say that we will not provide some space for the language experts. They seem to have no place to turn to at the present. Since none of us are experts, however, our editorial policy will require a translation of all pieces submitted entirely in one of the languages of Middle Earth. Our main aim, however, is to provide for the died-in-the-wool Tolkien fan another fanzine to read, ridicule, rebuke and respond. Each of the editors has other favorites which they will relate to from time to time. I, particularly, am taken by Conan, the Cimmerian, the barbaric hero of the Hyborian Age, sprung from the [Page 3] HOOM 1:3 pen of Robert E. Howard in the Thirties. Another favorite is the Chronicles of Prydain, a five-volume fantasy for children from the Philadelphian, Lloyd Alexander. So, while the emphasis will be on Tolkien, the issues will not be completely devoted to him. We solicit your help in making this fanzine a success. Feature articles, letters to the editors, art work, poetry, book reviews and short items will be necessary to keep the zine going. I hope you will find it in your heart to write that article which you always said you were going to. Bee said that it might be well to tell, in this first ish, just who the heck we are. I function ???? as Supervisor of Instructional Resources for Seattle Community College (4th largest community college in the U.S., plug!). I supervise three branch libraries, a central processing and graphics production unit and am involved in the planning of two new campuses. Married to an understanding wife, who has not yet found Middle Earth on a map, I also have a 17-year-old son, last seen wandering near Helmsdeep, muttering something about orcs. A 14- year-old son politely proclaims that, for the non, Prydain is a better place to be. A 12-year-old daughter must be related to her mother. And so we set foot upon the road. As Frodo recites in the _Fellowship of the Ring_: "The road goes ever on and on." Bilbo once told Frodo, "It's a dangerous business, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to." We'll see. --F.D.