NOVAE TERRAE #24 - Vol. 2 No. 12 (June 1938)
Copytyping this issue by Joe Patrizio.
The Cover by Harry Turner depicts a scene in that artist's fertile imagination
Editor: Maurice K. Hanson, 25 Bernard St., London W.C.1., England.
Rates: 2d (5 cents) a copy; 1/9 (45 cents) a year
AND STILL THEY COME!
Exlusive News Scoop by Ted Carnell
ANOTHER BRITISH PRO MAG! After three years alternate "Yes" then "No", culminating twelve months ago with the latter, publishers George Newnes have switched to the former and mid-July brings:
to boost science-fiction still further in this country. Four months ago authors here were circularised for mss, and all have been writing hell for leather since.
In an interview I had with T. Stanhope Sprigg, the Editor, in early May, he stated that story policy and most everything else was still in a vague state. Hence news has been kept fairly secret, in case the idea flopped as previously. He admitted that there was plenty of room in this country for more that one stf mag, though would not commit himself to any statement concerning TALES OF WONDER, except that his magazine would be on somewhat different lines.
This first issue is in the nature of an experiment -- no fixed publication date yet arranged -- but the mag will appear at regular intervals. as I write this -- July 22; cover artist and story and interiors (if) have not been decided upon. Selling price 1/-. American readers please note: Mr. Sprigg informed me that no USA publication of this magazine is contemplated at all, so if you require copies you will have to apply to Britain for them.
LINE-UP "Menace of the Machine-Man", a new Frankenstein story by an author named Tagiacomo (I think that is correct, but it was taken over the 'phone).
"Beyond the Screen" a John Beynon yarn of scientific war weapons used in the future.
"The Red Magician", a story of the Martians by John Russell Fearn, who recently stated
that he thinks this is one of his best yarns yet.
"People of the Deep" by A. Cave; four miles beneath the South Atlantic.
"Son of Space" by Francis Sibson, a yarn of the Black Infinitudes above.
"Leashed Lightning" -- three men and a great scientist -- told by J. Gurden.
The final story by Eric Frank Russell, is "Shadow Man" a scientific crime story. To round off the issue "By Rocket to the Planets" an article by Philip Cleator of the BIS, deals with the usual problems and possibilities of Interplanetary Travel.
All in all things seem to be booming on both sides of the Atlantic. We seem fast nearing a peak -- let's hope there isn't just as quick a slump.
"Amazing" Messup partly straightened out. Small quantity of June issue arrived in Great Britain early June at distributers in London, but requisitions were all out by about four fifths. They also decided to increase price to 1/3 a copy, which continues indefinitely. August issue also now published here (it will be two months prior to issue date in future, as THRILLING WONDER). No change in the August issue from the June, but many fans over here approve of the new mag. Carries another posed cover -- quite refreshing at the moment -- but space forbids story line-up, especially as you can easily obtain a copy now.
MARVEL SCIENCE STORIES publication date in GB is July 8. (Y'know I have more than a sneaking regard for this magazine; I think it bares great promise. Alright! I've a rotten mind -- or something -- but judging from advance orders -- SO HAVE YOU). Our Los Angeles contemporary
IMAGINATION informs us that Robert O. Kenyon and James Hall (authors in this issue)
are pseudonyms of Henry Kuttner who also had a yarn under his real name. Also we
learn that a sequel to Burks' "Survival" will be in the October issue. Thanks Los
ASTOUNDING for July seems the finest for years. A "good old" space-ship cover from "Voyage 13", a Ray Cummings yarn -- incidentally his first in ASTOUNDING since "Wandl the Invader" February to May 1932. Excellent too. If you liked Petersen's "Ra for the Rajah" in May you'll like "Rule 18" an Earth-Mars ball-game story by Clifford D. Simak who also returns after a six year absence.
Jack Williamson's "Legion of Time" comes to a grand finish (I read it twice over); an excellent humorous yarn "The Dangerouis Dimension" by a newcomer to stf, L. Ron Hubbard; good yarns also by Ross Rocklynne, Clifton B. Kruse, Kent Casey and Gallun, and two articles -- one by L. Sprague de Camp "Language for Time Travellers" which is superb. This appears to me as a FOUR STAR ISSUE.
NEWS ITEM Ken Chapman eventually traced Ray Gallun to Paris, and we may expect a London visit from the latter when he travels back this way. He is at present writing and travelling as the mood takes him.
PASSING SHOW commences another science-fiction serial by W. J. Passingham entitled "World Without Time" in the June 25th issue (No. 327). Reckoned to be greater than his "When London Fell".
THRILLING WONDER for August brings another of the "Hollywood on the Moon" series by Henry Kuttner called "Doom World" and introduces a new feature fans have been clamouring for since the days of the old WONDER. Short biographies of authors *with a small photo*. First one is F.A. Kummer who has a yarn, "The Exterminators". Also in this issue is an excellent lengthy report of the SFA Convention.
But my time and space is finished, so if you want to know more you'd better get the issues.
A Bit of Psychology
by Eric C. Williams
How about taking science-fiction as being just something which gives entertainment? How about forgetting for a moment all those high ideas about science-fiction being a subtle tool for creating the sociological outlook, and scientific education? Why not look at the thing with both eyes open and look at it from from the entertainment point of view? Before we start introducing sociology and putting science-fiction on a pedestal, let us decide whether fantasy is entertaining in itself.
To begin with let us consider why the vast majority of people cannot read science-fiction, or dislike imaginative fiction in any of its forms.
It is admitted that Mankind in general prefers to be static; that it holds firmly to those things in life which have proved themselves sound, or to which it has become resigned. People fear that a change will always be for the worse. Such is their tenacity of habit that often no effort is made to do away with conditions which are definitely unfavourable to the community; it requires the disturbing influence of some fearless thinking person to change things -- dictators are an exaggerated example of such people. Whether this fear is innate, dating from the natural fear of the cave man to move from the safety of his cave and so place himself in danger, or whether it is a more modern phobia dating from the time of the first civilized peace, I am not prepared or informed enough to say. Nevertheless, this inertia of the mind, as it has been called, is a generally recognized thing and we must contend with it.
This fear of change has what is sometimes called "a defence mechanism", i.e. in laughter, scorn and derision, of all things which are outside the immediate imagination of the ordinary person. It defends the person from the danger of thinking too deeply about the subject of this change. Something of the
sort is happening over the appeal made by
the Government for people to inform themselves about Air Raid Precautions -- people
laugh or get angry at what they call scare-mongering, yet it is only for their own good;
it directly influences their lives; it tends to bring home the realization of how near
and terrible war really is -- and to a lot of people to see that clearly would mean worry
-- so they laugh. They will not imagine.
The use of imagination in any direction is thinking of things outside your present status. The people with poor imaginations are happy, only their immediate surroundings concerning them; people with lurid imaginations conjure up the possible course of their troubles and suffer them even before they come along. It is difficult to decide whether this imagination is the curse of mankind or its greatest power. It is curious however, that it seems that most people one meets possess morbid imaginations, especially about the future. They can vividly imagine the world running into war and destruction, but scorn the idea of world peace or cannot imagine at all a World State as visualized by Wells in his "Men Like Gods". Probably this is the result of poor food, excessive strain due to the noise of towns, and through reading newspapers. But the point is that people dislike the use of imagination because it worries them, or makes them dissatisfied with their present condition.
Nevertheless, you will say, the sale of fiction (which is wholly imagination) is going up every day. True, but this sort of imagination is either, you will admit, in the main Detection or Romance, i.e. things which do not offend the general run of peoples' conception of how things shall be. Romance has been with us since Eve, Detection (triumph of good over evil) since the days of the Bow Street Runners and Dick Turpin, or before. Thus you see that ideas outside usual experience (science-fiction)
are confronted by this gloomy wall of fear of change and fear of
imagination. Only here and there is a person with a peculiar brain that welcomes the
exercise of the imagination and does not reap worry in consequence, but a strange uplift.
It is evident, therefore, that publishers wishing to expand their sales should not concentrate on cultivating the imagination in their stories, but do the very opposite by toning down the fantasy and cultivating the human and everyday side. This seems to be the policy of the new "Amazing" and looking at it from the financial angle, one cannot blame its producers.
All this, you understand, concerns the meek little men in the street; there are crowds of others with the intelligence and broadmindedness to look at the future and the unlimited possibilities of science, but these are with-held from science-fiction, not by any subconscious fear, but by the flatness and schoolboy standard of the writing. A shilling is a lot to pay for the small chance of being able to read a story now and again with a touch of personallity in it, and with sound views expressed. They need to read something written for a purpose, not 10,000 words turned out for money. If you were to have Wells, Arlen, Stapledon, Dunsany, Lewis, writing for the magazines, they would be read by all the more intelligent strata of Mankind, but they would be dropped like hot bricks by the truck-drivers and football fans.
Thus if we want to spread science-finction to its utmost we have to find a balance between the pure non-imaginative story and the idealistic purposeful type. Or if we wish merely to include the intelligentsia we must improve our concepts and style. To conclude this rambling article, may I say that, assuming the above conclusions to be correct, I see no hope of science-fiction ever effecting any
great change, or even the smallest change in
the ways of Man while it
retains its present form. If we want science-fiction to do something, then it must
((go)) up. If we want it to become universal, it must go down.
Which shall it be?..........Which shall it be?
"Civilisation by Clive Bell"
In these days of "sociological science-fiction" and "Michelism" any book which sets out
to give its readers a concrete and lucid outline of civilisation is to be welcomed.
"Civilisation" is a carefully-posed and well-sustained study in cynicism. Mr. Bell is an
art critic so that, naturally, he is well qualified to judge civilisation. Apparently too,
he is one of those persons who believe in little save their "Art". His picture of a
civilisation existing merely to support and applaud the antics of a Mutual Admiration
Society composed of artists, musicians, poets, writers, wits, and mere talkers (all of
dubious quality), at least is interesting, and Mr. Bell is plausible enough to be able
to surround the idea with a halo of probability and devilish good argument. The book is
witty, clever -- being what professional reviewers term "stimulating" and should not be
missed by our tame "Utopians" as Mr. Smith names them.
Of a totally different type is "Limits of Science" by J. W. N. Sullivan. This is another
of those crosses between good science and so-so literature beloved by the science-fiction
fans who pride themselves upon their scientific knowledge. Here is a book which will
undoubtedly find a niche on their shelves side by side with Jeans and other similar writers.
With it the fan will be able to follow -- so far as a
"Civilisation by Clive Bell"
In these days of "sociological science-fiction" and "Michelism" any book which sets out to give its readers a concrete and lucid outline of civilisation is to be welcomed. "Civilisation" is a carefully-posed and well-sustained study in cynicism. Mr. Bell is an art critic so that, naturally, he is well qualified to judge civilisation. Apparently too, he is one of those persons who believe in little save their "Art". His picture of a civilisation existing merely to support and applaud the antics of a Mutual Admiration Society composed of artists, musicians, poets, writers, wits, and mere talkers (all of dubious quality), at least is interesting, and Mr. Bell is plausible enough to be able to surround the idea with a halo of probability and devilish good argument. The book is witty, clever -- being what professional reviewers term "stimulating" and should not be missed by our tame "Utopians" as Mr. Smith names them.
Of a totally different type is "Limits of Science" by J. W. N. Sullivan. This is another of those crosses between good science and so-so literature beloved by the science-fiction fans who pride themselves upon their scientific knowledge. Here is a book which will undoubtedly find a niche on their shelves side by side with Jeans and other similar writers. With it the fan will be able to follow -- so far as a
mere layman may -- the
vagaries of present-day physics, and in spite of the lucidity and broad-minded approach
(both so necessary in works of this kind) of Mr. Sullivan, he will probably find himself
in the same state of perplexed wonderment that physicists find when confronted by the
limitations of science.
Editorial Note: Both the above books are obtainable in the 6d Pelican Series. The second book is, of course, "Limitations of Science", not "Limits of Science" as stated on the previous page due to a typist's error.
AMAZING STORIES 1/3 and THRILLING WONDER STORIES 1/2 for August are now both available. You may have difficulty in obtaining both of these, so make sure the easiest way by ordering direct to the Johnson SCIENCE-FICTION SERVICE at 17, Burwesh Road, London, S.E.18.
Letter to the Editor
I am 1/2sorry to see th%t amother of my artickles in the b/last issue of NOVEA TERRAE has
been spoilt by earless typing. How can a writer put hisn work in-to his heart wgen foonstant
mifprintf mikr it appear ridiculousy? Please try to d@ butter in future.
William F. Simple
(EDDITOR'S NOTE: Sorry, Mr. Temple. Garet care has been takken to ilimin illumin cut oyt
such erryrs in this 5/8issue. Mena#hile we would say xxxxxx and xxxxxx and sickerely wish
xxxxxx to you.)
I am 1/2sorry to see th%t amother of my artickles in the b/last issue of NOVEA TERRAE has been spoilt by earless typing. How can a writer put hisn work in-to his heart wgen foonstant mifprintf mikr it appear ridiculousy? Please try to d@ butter in future.
William F. Simple
(EDDITOR'S NOTE: Sorry, Mr. Temple. Garet care has been takken to ilimin illumin cut oyt such erryrs in this 5/8issue. Mena#hile we would say xxxxxx and xxxxxx and sickerely wish xxxxxx to you.)
The future of the narrative art is a problem that many authors are trying to solve. It is felt that the novel reached its best during the last century and that no advance in quality has been made over the standard set by Dickens, Scott, Thackaray and the other 'immortals'. New styles that frequently defy all rules of syntax are common, new and more violent forms of description are popular. The novel that had the delicate tinting and subtle skill of an oil painting is being replaced by stories that smash into the readers consciousness with the vivid absolute contrasts of an advertising poster. No longer do 'advanced' writers convey what unpleasantnesses are unavoidable by shame-faced euphemisms, rather do they aim at the descriptive directness of the working-class and chafe at the restrictions placed by them by the most broad-minded of censors. They aim at portraying everything, from the sunset down, in terms of physical sensations. In this way they obtain absolute reality with little exercise of the readers imagination, for reality in the absolute is for each of us what we see or hear or sense in any of the various ways given us by a generous Nature.
We who dally with scientific fiction would rather believe that in this field, the field of abstract thought, is a greater and more durable form of literature. Scientific fiction has perhaps come before its time, it is the toy of children rather than the mature art it is surely to become. We naturally expect it to be a form of entertainment at this stage rather than an example of creative art, and suffer the entertainment when it is of a low standard. Yet even today some hints of future attainment may be perceived in occasional works. "Last and First Men" was an example. Dr. Stapledon's work appeals to the head rather than the heart, it is as if he demonstrates the solution to an immense problem for us giving a pleasure more intellectual than emotional in spite of the intimate nature of that problem.
"Forgetfulness" may be remembered as another. Here is the same problem, solved with much
greater brevity by using more favourable assumptions, giving an equally convincing and
possibly more plausible result. It interposes a needed step between the limits of
fleshbound intelligence as often depicted, and the ultimate development of E. E. Smith's
Such stories indicate positively that literature will in the end be weaned from emotion entirely, and the fictional amusements of the future will be of the nature of imaginative solutions to unsolvable problems. It is not a development to be feared as in any way imminent, although scientists are already finding a leisure hour occupation in writing essays of only half serious philosophy. Scientific fiction, pressing hard on the heels of advancing education, must first conquer and entertain the reading public for many centuries. The romances we will name by inversion 'fictional science' may be introduced first in the distant time when man, explorer and ruler of the entire vast confines of space-time, is realising at long last the emptiness of material conquest and turning away to the greater triumphs of thought alone. When their minds, weary of sober realism, desire relaxation they will create romances beyond our wildest dreams. They could find immense entertainment in applying their vast reasoning powers to imagining preposterous universes where one always equalled two and stranger absurdities were to be found.
The thought has fearful implications. Carry it on to the end, when the last star has dissipated the last erg of energy to weary space, where nothing can move or be, but eternal intelligences, disembodied
from matter and energy both, contemplating through eons of peace every atom
in a motionless space. At length the long-dormant desire for amusement awakens again,
and with their all-encompassing powers they prepare a book for their entertainment. Out
of the ashes of the old a new universe is prepared. Weary of knowing every possible event
in a stable universe they make the new such that the law of chance is its fundamental
principle. And through the ever fruitful ages they read and comprehend every tiny
wonderful detail of this book of their -- Creation.
The EDITOR of NOVAE TERRAE announces that the next issue of the magazine being the 25th to be published will be a notable anniversary issue.
The British Fan in his Natural Haunts
by William F. Temple
No. 3 ARTHUR C. CLARKE
Arthur Clarke and his Ego live alone in a tiny divan bd. stg. rm. h & c. rnng. wtr., use of bth.-rm., in a house in Norfolk Square. W.2. The smallness of this room is a standing joke in the London Branch SFA - there is a tale that Arthur once wore a double-breasted suit for the first time and got wedged between the walls for three days. So, when one beery evening at the A.O.D., Arthur invited me to exmine it, I accompanied him eagerly.
We toiled up many flights of stairs; A. lives on the top floor. (Funny how these astronomers like the roof.) At last we stood outside the door of the famous den. A. (hereinafter called "A.") flung open the door with a magnificent gesture, snapped down the electric light switch and thundered "Behold!" But the effect was somewhat spoiled for he'd forgotten to leave a lamp in the light-socket, and the room remained obstinately in darkness. However he advanced boldly into the gloom, fumbled about and found the lamp (and a few other things by the sound of it) and had another go: "Behold!"
But again an anti-climax. My fault this time. I wasn't there. You see, I'd noticed a small room on the stairs and had to retreat there urgently. It had been a very beery evening at the A.O.D. Still, I came panting back again commendably quickly, and at last entered the sanctum. Only just though. For there was hardly room for the two of us, and A's Ego had to be left outside on the landing. A. himself generously opened the window and sat himself half outside it to allow me to look round freely.
Pinned on the wall was a yard-square photo of the Moon. Actually it was made up of four smaller
sections, each of different sizes and parts, and the consequence was a moon that bulged
badly in the wrong places, and one hemisphere missed the other completely and stuck out
into space for several hundreds of miles. But A. knew his craters and rapped them out as
I indicated them: "Tycho, Aristullus, Copernicus...." "What's this?" I asked, pointing
out a strange, straight mark in the Alps. "The Great Cleft" answered A. promptly. "Queer
thing - there's no debris in or around it. It's dead straight, too. Like the slash of an
atomic ray gun."
"Ha! Let's get on to science-fiction, then. What's your favourite story?"
"One I wrote myself" interpolated the Ego, poking his head around the door. I batted it one and it retired with an even more swollen head than usual. With true scientific indetermination A. couldn't decide upon his favourite story. I caught sight of more books piled on top of his cupboard and brought them down in a shower of sugar and grape-nuts - did I mention that A's larder is on top of the cupboard too? The first book I looked at was "The Moon" by Professor Pickering. Impatiently I threw it aside and picked up the next. It was entitle "The Moon" by Nasmyth and Carpenter. "Heck!" I said and picked up the next. Yes, it was titled "The Moon" -- this time by Neilson. I gave it up.
"You B.I.S. Moonatic" I said "Haven't you anything else less technical?" A. replied: my library is at Taunton, my home town. It contains complete sets of WONDER, ASTOUNDING, about 100 science-fiction novels and more than another 100 books of pure science". "Darned if I'm going to Taunton (if there is such a place) to check up on it" I said. "So I'll have to take your word for it." Hero-A's conscience smote him. "Well, to tell you the truth, my ASTOUNDING collection is two short" he mumbled. The Ego thrust its head into the room at this, and gave A. such a look of utter contempt that the poor fellow blushed.
"A fine chance to boost yourself without being detected -- and you throw it away
you weak twirp!" it remarked bitterly. And withdrew.
I made another desperate attempt to make something of the books A. had with him, and picked up a red one. It was "A Mathematical Theory of Relativity" by Koppf. "Dammit, this is a bit too steep, " I grumbled. "Can't you remember what books you've got at Taunton, wherever that is?"
"I keep a list. That's the best of having a methodical mind" answered A. brightly, yanking a drawer open. I've never seen such a jumbled clutter of bric-a-brac as was in that drawer -- buttons, pins, stamps, the B.I.S. cash box, cutlery, pamphlets, wool (A. darns his own socks), sardine-cans, tram-tickets, bits of well-worn chewing-gum -- everything came flying out as the methodical mind searched for its list. There were, too, I remember, thick files of letters from Sam Youd and Eric Frank Russell, and an especially thick file of carbon copies of letters written by A. himself. This last file was, I learned, the Ego's favourite reading material on Sunday afternoons.
At last the list. It was an exercise book printed neatly at first, and then degenerating into A's wildest scribble as it went on. Against every title was A's rating: "F", "G", "V.G." etc. There were all the familiar titles known to every s-f fan, and many that were new to me, such as Lance Sieveking's "Stampede" (illustrated by G. K. Chesterton) and Beresford's "Gods of the Purple Planet". A. wouldn't venture to name his favourite book, but I noticed that though "V.V.G." (Very, Very Good) was not uncommon, against Stapledon's "Star Maker" was just the one word "Superb".
I had another glance round the room. There was a microscopic radio set in the cupboard -- there was no room for it outside. But that was O.K., for A. when laying in bed could swing the cupboard door
with his foot, thus regulating the volume of sound. It occurred to me rather belatedly that
I ought to include a personal portrait of A. in the interview. So I looked at him. One
must take the bad with the good in a reporter's life.
I beheld a tallish, rather clever-looking fellow (appearances are deceptive) whose eyes glinted at me through horn-rims with a condescending expression. He looks as if he hopes he looks like a scientist, does A. His hair cannot make up its mind whether it is dark or fair, is perfectly dry and sticks up like a wire brush. An over-zealous barber wandered about in it for days, and when the search-party found him told an astounding story which A. used as a plot for one of his yarns.
He's impatient and highly strung, and says he's not, and given to sudden violent explosions of mirth (mostly at his own jokes). This is sometimes embarassing to we fans who meet in Lyons on Thursday evenings, and when he rolls on the floor convulsed in mad mirth we pretend he isn't with our party, and wonder why the manageress allows these queer people in. The bowls are soon empty of lump sugar on our table too, for A. eats pounds of it, ever since he heard that diabetic persons (e.g. H.G.Wells) are intellectually cleverer on the average.
While I was thus ruminating A. suddenly heard the call of the sugar-bowl, and invited me out to supper. So we tucked the Ego in the little bed (it was its turn tonight -- A. was sleeping in the wash-bowl) and went to the cafe on the corner, and had some lump-sugar and crumbly sausage rolls. I had to pay for myself. I still don't know where Taunton is but now I suspect it is somewhere in Scotland.
POSTSCRIPT TO THE ABOVE: While they were still in blissful ignorance about this article A. and his Ego decided to share a flat with me at No. 88 Gray's Inn Road, W.C.1.
The 'A.O.D.' mentioned above was the Ancient Order of Druids Memorial Hall which was
located at 14-18 Lamb's Conduit St., while 'Lyons' was the J.Lyons teashop at 36/38 New Oxford
Street, sites of the formal monthly and informal weekly meetings of London SFA respectively.
The J.Lyons gatherings started a tradition of London fans meeting on Thursday evenings that
continues to this day with the first-Thursday meetings.
I take this opportunity to point out that I will not hold myself responsible for any debts
incurred by them or myself either, and also to record these last words should there be
murder in Holborn when this issue of "N.T." appears: I did what I did according to my
lights (my liver being out of order at the time.)
SCIENCE-FICTION ASSOCIATION REPORT
Editorial Note: Owing to a variety of circumstances, chief of which was the rather
early appearance of this issue the report will be shorter than usual -- reports from
some outlying branches not yet having arrived.
LIBRARY: We wish to acknowledge the donation of: "The Land that Time Forgot" by Burroughs;
"Invasion from the Air" by F. McIlraith; "The Lord of the Sea" by M.P.Shiel; "Last Men in
London" by Olaf Stapledon; "The Child of the Caverns" by Jules Verne; "Vandals of the Void"
by J.M.Walsh and "Gladiator" by Philip Wylie. Also available for borrowing is the typed
file of short stories by Miles J. Breuer and mags. containing the stories: "A Modern
Prometheus" by C.G.Wates, "White Lily" by John Taine; "Cosmic Cloud" by Bruno Burghal. All
enquiries to Eric C. Williams, 11 Clowders Road, Catford, London, S.E.6.
NEW MEMBERS: We are delighted to welcome that most prolific of authors, John Russell
NEW SCIENCE-FICTION MAGAZINES: Elsewhere in this issue appears the announcement of
"Astonishing Stories". We also understand on reliable authority, that a companion magazine
to THRILLING WONDER will appear in the near future - THRILLING WORNDER NOVELS, and will
include 40,000 word stories, etc. In addition "Passing Show" recently published John Russell
Fearn's "Glass Nemesis" and are now returning to s-f.
CONVENTION REPORT: It is regretted that owing to a technical hitch this will be delayed
till July 12th.
Editorial Note: Owing to a variety of circumstances, chief of which was the rather early appearance of this issue the report will be shorter than usual -- reports from some outlying branches not yet having arrived.
LIBRARY: We wish to acknowledge the donation of: "The Land that Time Forgot" by Burroughs; "Invasion from the Air" by F. McIlraith; "The Lord of the Sea" by M.P.Shiel; "Last Men in London" by Olaf Stapledon; "The Child of the Caverns" by Jules Verne; "Vandals of the Void" by J.M.Walsh and "Gladiator" by Philip Wylie. Also available for borrowing is the typed file of short stories by Miles J. Breuer and mags. containing the stories: "A Modern Prometheus" by C.G.Wates, "White Lily" by John Taine; "Cosmic Cloud" by Bruno Burghal. All enquiries to Eric C. Williams, 11 Clowders Road, Catford, London, S.E.6.
NEW MEMBERS: We are delighted to welcome that most prolific of authors, John Russell Fearn.
NEW SCIENCE-FICTION MAGAZINES: Elsewhere in this issue appears the announcement of "Astonishing Stories". We also understand on reliable authority, that a companion magazine to THRILLING WONDER will appear in the near future - THRILLING WORNDER NOVELS, and will include 40,000 word stories, etc. In addition "Passing Show" recently published John Russell Fearn's "Glass Nemesis" and are now returning to s-f.
CONVENTION REPORT: It is regretted that owing to a technical hitch this will be delayed till July 12th.
LONDON BRANCH REPORT: The June meeting opened with John Drummond speaking on "Bio-Chemistry".
A Bio-Chemist by profession he disseminated a great deal of information. This was followed by
the amateur short story feature a reading of "Vain Endeavour" by Arthur Clarke, the story
written by himself. The style was most favourably commented upon, and the story was followed
by "Ghosts Walk Here" by Sidney Birchby, an attractive little weird yarn. A discussion was
held on a paper read by Eric Williams: "Why do People read S-F?" Mr. Williams wanted to know
why some people found some unique feature in fantastic fiction. The discussion was eventually
closed after the question was boiled down to a quirk in the mental make-up of the fan. The
meeting closed with three rounds of a science-fiction Spelling Bee, in which Will Temple's
team beat Arthur Clarke's.
LEEDS BRANCH REPORT: The Club Room has been extended by the addition of another room acting as an office and SFA Publications Department. It is hoped to acquire a third room shortly to act as a reading-room. A stock-taking of all books, magazines, etc. belonging to the Branch is now in progress. The Branch has recently enjoyed the pleasure of a second visit from Manchester of member E.S.Needham, and on June 12th a new series of talks was inaugurated by Mr. W.G.Stone on "Materials and their Uses" amply illustrated with drawings and samples for "The Manufacture and Uses of Linoleum."
The Curse of the Collector
There are, it would seem, few scientific fiction fans who are not ardent collectors of their
chosen form of literature. The words "fan" and "collector" are to all intents and purposes
synonymous, a state of affairs which most readers seem to accept complacently enough. The
fact that a large proportion of their energy is devoted to the mere accumulation of little
more than medioce literary works seems to
There are, it would seem, few scientific fiction fans who are not ardent collectors of their chosen form of literature. The words "fan" and "collector" are to all intents and purposes synonymous, a state of affairs which most readers seem to accept complacently enough. The fact that a large proportion of their energy is devoted to the mere accumulation of little more than medioce literary works seems to
trouble them not at all.
Possessing, as they themselves believe, a keen analytical outlook upon the world it is
strange that the idea has not arisen amongst them that collectors of scientific fiction,
like collectors of cigarette cards or postage, are little more than acquisitive hoarders.
An outside observer might seem actually justified in conceiving this thought; he might be
justified in thinking that fans are possessed chiefly of an inexorable cupiditas habendi.
It is not for me to offer any comments on this point of view; I point out only that it is
possible that it exists.
We are assured that there is a great demand by readers new to the field of scientific fiction for magazines dated as far back as 1926. The fact that such copies exist by the score does not lessen the demand for them to any appreciable extent, since these copies are held very securely in the possession of dealers most of whom will not part with them except at an exorbitant price, and collectors who will not part with them under any circumstances. Such a state of affairs might look most deplorable to our hypothetical observer.
He might think that material of such undoubted value to those who attempt to acquire a sound knowledge of the history of magazine science-fiction (whatever good it may be to them) would pass freely from hand to hand for the enjoyment of the community at large. Especially might he imagine this to be so among science-fiction fans who are reputed to be preparing themselves to act as midwives at the birth of the Golden Age. He would doubtless be all the more surprised if he knew that many collectors accumulate stacks of volumes during the course of years, reading only a fraction of them, which fraction once read being left largely untouched afterwards.
Charity, he might possible reflect, begins not on Mars or the 4th dimension, but at home.