Opere Citato

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234-237

[page 234] opere citato BY HARRY WARNER, JR. DISJECTA MEMBRA Strife and disorder have arisen over a question of definition. The Hugo categories established in 1967 for fan achievements were won by some people, who had professional credentials: author Alexei Panshin and artist Jack Gaughan. Objections were based on the claim that simon pure amateurs should receive awards intended for fan accomplishments. Those who objected overlooked the fact that it is increasingly difficult to separate the professionals from the amateurs. Perhaps half of the best material written for fanzines today emerges from typewriters of people who have professional taint, in or out of science fiction and fantasy; there are novelists, editors, copyreaders, journalists, teachers of English, agents, and members of a smattering of other professions somehow related to the written or the published word. It's curious that the opposite complaint wasn't lodged about Hugo awards. A sizable proportion of Hugo awards for professional science fiction has gone to men who have made one or more recent appearances in fanzines. By the logic that criticises the awards for amateur accomplishment, there should be objections to the categorising of a Zelazny or an Ellison as a professional writer. Fortunately, this type of logic has no effect on the professional qualities of the prose that normally appears in fanzines under the byline of men who have made their reputations primarily on the basis of the things they wrote for pay rather than for play. And the freshet of fanzines that has arisen as if by sympathetic magic from the swollen waterways of the continent during this abnormally wet spring contains an unusually generous plenitude of material by widely known professional writers. At the risk of invalidating completely the Hugo voting for several years to come, let's look at some of the fanzine material that has been more rewarding to the readers than to the writers. Perhaps the biggest difference between today's and yesterday's fanzine material by professionals is this: the pros no longer show much reluctance to speak plainly about their compatriots and about people with other types of professional functions. [page 235] OPERE CITATO As recently as the 1950's, Jim Blish was using his William Atheling pen name when he wrote critically about science fiction; today we almost never find a little note at the top of a fanzine article explaining that "the writer is a professional who for ethical reasons prefers to remain anonymous." Thus, we find in the March issue of _Psychotic_ two appearances by Norman Spinrad, who fiercely defends science fiction and says plain things about this type of literature in the process. "There have never been thirty-two great sf writers alive at the same time in human history," he says in a review of the Ellison anthology, _Dangerous Visions_. This hardly sounds like a heretical attitude today but there was a less realistic era when it would have been assayed as a body blow to scores of clean-living, morally fit backwriters. Spinrad likes the anthology and the manner in which Ellison "set impossible goals for the writers to reach; by striving for the impossible some of the writers might be goaded into achieving the merely highly improbable." In another article in the same issue, Spinrad sets himself the modest goal of describing "why and how science fiction is destroying and castrating its best writers." At considerable length and in the most convincing manner, he details his contention that "in the eyes of the majority of publishers, editors and hucksters in the field, science fiction is something to be written for children. No...it's worse than that: science fiction is something to be written to satisfy what so-called adults imagine to be the tastes of children." The March-April issue of _Kallikanzaros_ doesn't reveal the origin and routing of the material by Kurt Vonnegut that it publishes. It's a transcript of a speech whose where and when is not revealed. But from internal evidence it's fairly recent and was heard at a college or university somewhere in Ohio. The written version of a talk is frequently an appalling travesty of the original form, even when the transcript is accurate, because there's so much difference between effective spoken and effective written language. But Vonnegut even provides amusement with his jokes in this published version, the severest test of all. He starts by giving a three-minute course in the art of writing the short story--a horizontal line, occasionally intersected by another line which rises and falls in accord with the state of the hero's fortunes. Toward the end Vonnegut becomes quite serious about books and the reasons why they must not become obsolete. "In order to be free we must have much new information coming from people facing life this very day. The cheapest way to do it is with a book," and because only two or three people are major influences on that book--the writer, the editor, and maybe the editor's boss--it can reveal individual human experiences, instead of the committee-type expression of a film." A different approach to the goal of better science fiction is followed by Mike Moorcock in "By Spaceship to the Psyche," published in the April issue of _Les Spinge_, as a reprint from a previous issue of the same publication. It is one of the rare voices emerging from the wilderness in defense of the new wave school of science fiction. A Ballard novel is described as "a definite breakthrough not only for science fiction, but for a new kind of literature that is beginning to emerge from the Mean Ages." William Burroughs' "experimental novels" are "science fiction as it must become if it is to survive as anything but a superficial form of entertainment." [page 236] HARRY WARNER Moorcock sees Cordwainer Smith as one of the pioneers in the journeys away from the more orthodox patterns of looking at the world and writing about it. "He is a writer who sees in the developments of modern physics a future world of brilliance, mediocrity, cruelty and wonder. He draws, his inspirations from inside, not from the Sunday supplement science page." {Image: A line drawing of an iron person standing before a science fiction building appears to the left of the first paragraph. The person is shown from the shoulders up. Instead of ears, he sports two circular devices where ears would be. An insignia of a bird motif appears on the figure's cylindrical forehead. The figure wears a heavy jacket. The science fiction building or complex, appears to the right of the figure.} Roger Zelazny has been appearing almost as frequently in fanzines as in professional pastures. The October-November, 1967 issue of _Hugin and Munin_ was distributed only when Spring was arriving, at a time when a couple of major science fiction movies were ready for release generally. _Planet of the Apes_ and a couple of other productions have begun to get cautiously favourable reviews in the fan press, but Zelazny is pessimistic about the general usefulness of film as a medium for science fiction. He feels that there is a great burden of sin to expiate, in the form of the vast quantities of terrible science fiction movies up to now; he fears that the very nature of the film is difficult to equate with the imagination that should be the reader's contribution to a science fiction story; and finally, he warns "that if you want to make SF popular you'll have to water it down for popular consumption and cater to the popular consumer...and in a sense, therefore, we would have to pimp for it." John Hayden Howard is not a professional name that automatically induces a mental genuflecting gesture for the science-fiction reader. But _The Eskimo Invasion_ has begun to make it better Known @known@, and the author has appeared at least twice in fanzines of recent date, once in reply to an unfavourable review and again over a sort of story behind the story similar to the ancient _Thrilling Wonder Stories_ feature. In the February issue of _Speculation_, Howard tells how the novel was influenced by his skin-diving adventures in the 1950's, his attempt in 1960 to integrate that hobby into science fiction, and the eventual amalgamation of the population explosion with his previous thoughts. "The Esks represent population pressure regardless of race, colour, creed or country of national origin, " Howard says. "The rest of the people in the novel may represent the rest of mankind--although I hope not!" [page 237] OPERE CITATO He defines the disastrous turn of events in the novel as inspired by this difficulty: "The problem of the multiplying Esks was too big for any man. Because nations acted for their short-term interests rather than for their long-term imperatives, and were as unable to cooperate in popular control as they have been in nuclear arms control, all men failed. There was chaos when there need not have been." The line between prodom and fandom seems to grow less clearly defined. We find John D. MacDonald, who has written fantasy in addition to suspense and mystery, writing letters of comment and requesting help from fandom in identifying the places of publication of some of his early stories. Ted White, who has made the transition from fandom to prodom, suddenly begins to review mystery novels for a fanzine. A Tolkien-slanted fanzine paints an unforgettable picture of W.H. Auden wandering through a Tolkien fan meeting, holding a copy of a fanzine, and baffled not by any of its slang or in-group jokes but by the identity of a mundane novelist mentioned therein. So maybe it's time to stop segregating verbally the two manifestations of one breed. If there should be wider distribution of the concept that it is quite possible to do some writing and drawing for the fun of it, without destroying one's ability to earn money with the typewriter or pen, we should have a friendlier attitude when a Hugo is about to be awarded, and increased quantities of high quality material in fanzines. {Divider: A short line made of hyphens separates the text above from that below.} _Psychotic_: Richard E. Geis, 5 Westminster Ave., Venice, California 90291, 25¢ per issue. _Kallikanzaros_: John Ayotte, 1121 Pauline Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43224, 35¢ per issue or four for $1.25. _Les Spinge_: Darroll Pardoe, 95 E. Twelfth Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43201, no price listed. _Hugin and Munin_: Richard Labonte, 971 Walkley Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, 25¢ per issue. _Speculation_: Peter R. Weston, 81 Trescott Road, Northfield, Birmingham 31, England, 30¢ per copy or three for $1.00. EDITOR'S UNSOLICITED ANNOUNCEMENTS Admirers of John D. Macdonald should contact Len Moffat (9826 Paramount Blvd., Downey, Calif. 90240), editor of _The JDM Bibliophile_. // Fans with poor eyesight are cautioned that _Les Spinge_ is now printed in elite micro-type (which would make reading difficult) and in _purple_--which removes the contrast ordinarily provided by black-on-white and makes reading virtually impossible. Such preciosity, I think, is motivated by the same source that sometimes prompts editors of Little @little@ magazines to abandon punctuation and print exclusively in lower case. // I just learned that Richard Geis no longer lives in California, so anything mailed to _Psychotic_ presumably is forwarded to Governor Ron Reagan.

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