NOVAE TERRAE #26 - Vol. 3 No. 2 (Sept 1938)
Published by the SFA between this issue and the next:
Editor: Maurice K. Hanson
Editorial Address: 88, Gray's Inn Road, London, W.C.1.
There was a time when the production of this issue seemed suspiciously like fiddling while Rome burned but the newspapers say that, thanks to Mr. Chamberlain and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Britain has again achieved peace with honour; thus once more the pearls of knowledge and criticism of science-fiction fandom are placed before its scores of readers who, it is understood, seethe with enthusiasm. They may perhaps be interested in the three announcements that are the reason for the existence of this editorial.
Firstly, the conclusions reached from the "Investigation" questionnaire in the August issue will be published in the October issue, the delay being to ensure that replies received from America will not be too late for inclusion.
Secondly, with the next three issues of the magazine it is intended to distribute supplements embodying material which for various reasons cannot conveniently be included in the magazine itself but which possess merits that demand publication. This material includes "Peril from Ploop" by O. J. Russell and A. G. Brown and "The Rubaiyat of Science Fiction Fan" by S. Youd.
Finally, if by the time the third of these issues has appeared readers do not find the magazine of sufficient interest to merit more response than has been apparent during the past year the Editors feel that there can be little point in their continuing to publish it.
The Eternal Dispute
by D.R. Smith
"Tell me" said my friend suddenly "why you read that tripe."
"Tripe?" I inquired, raising my eyebrows over the magazine I was reading.
"You heard me. That tripe, bilge, rubbish or piffle called scientific fiction."
"You appear to be labouring under a misapprehension, my good fool. I am engaged in the perusal of the most vital, most fascinating, most educative......"
"To a certain extent, yes. The only reply I can make is that I like it because I do."
"An answer that displays your standard of logic excellently. Hovever, I intend to have something more satisfactory if possible. Although you suffer from an incredible mental laziness you have been compulsorily educated and appear to appreciate good literature. In addition your technical training should have made you intolerant of poor work. Why then do you continue to accept the weak technique and shocking lack of commonsense usually exhibited by scientific fiction authors."
"Frequently, nitwit, not usually. And familiar as you are with my career you know that I scream loudly at poor technique and froth at the mouth at errors in logic."
"You have indeed made blundering attempts at destructive criticism, typical of your fundamentally unsound character. The only criticism you are entitled to make is to cease to read the stuff. Why don't you?"
"Because, at admittedly rare intervals, I come across a story that pleases immensely my easily-satisfied tastes."
"If that were true I should despair of ever rescuing the tiny dying spark of intelligence in you. I refuse to believe that a reasoning being can tolerate four pieces of poor workmanship for the sake of one good one."
"If you had the sensitivity of mind of a guinea-pig you would
realise that art is not to be weighed and measured like
pig-iron, and that we must be prepared to tolerate the poor
authors for the sake of the good one."
"We are not discussing art in any form. We are discussing scientific fiction. Why do you give the good stories such an insanely misplaced devotion?"
"Because I like fiction that breaks away as far as possible from reality."
"A good point, were it not a flat lie, for you are equally fond of the more desperately realistic of the modern novelists."
"Exactly. I use the one to counteract the other."
"Tchah! Consider another point. It seems to me that the ill effects of the low class stories will surely kill, in time, such literary taste as you have."
"I deny it. The repulsiveness of the styles, or lack of styles, of scientific fiction authors has actually improved my taste by providing a sombre background against which the beauty of the great stylists, modern and classical, stand out, as stars are best seen against a moonless midnight sky."
"Poetical piffle! Do you suggest that you read scientific fiction with the sole object of improving your literary taste?"
"Of course not. I read good scientific fiction because I find it more interesting than any other form of fiction of equal standards. The poor stories furnish the intellectual entertainment of analysing the defects, so even they are not a dead loss."
"Very fine and explicit. Now I will tell you the real truth. You read scientific fiction merely because it is a habit you formed in your silly impressionable youth and have been too weak to break."
"You are a liar. All your ancestors have been liars, and your descendants will be very great liars" I said with great calmness. Shortly afterwards we parted.
The New Cycle Needs Brakes
by John F. Burke
In the August issue of NOVAE TERRAE Douglas W. F. Mayer gave us a long article on science-fiction in which he said we were just on the verge of a new cycle. I don't think anyone can disagree with this —- the sudden publication of so many more magazines cannot be passed by. We are definitely reaching a new cycle —- and I submit that it will be poor. With more science-fiction magazines than ever before, with the SFA gaining strength all the time, science-fiction is going down unbelievably. In the past year I have read three good stories, "The Flight of the Dawn Star", "The Master Shall Not Die" and "Who Goes There?" and even these cannot compare with the old masterpieces. There is not as much good material in all the modern publications put together as there was in one issue of the old Gernsback "Wonder Stories".
I am not by any means one of the "those were the good old days" sort of person but I am quite sincere when I say that modern science-fiction is nearly all trash. We have two types of story: the "thought-variant" in which nothing is impossible, and in which everything is incredibly boring except to those young folk who think descriptions of space warps and speeds faster than light all too, too thrilling; the other sort of story is the equally contemptible "sugar-pill" type as dished out in large quantities by "Thrilling Wonder Stories". An idea so simple or old-fashioned that a two-year old could understand it, a blushing heroine and a lot of blether. I will not cite any particular stories -— just take a pin and jab it in the contents page of TWS, and you're pretty certain to get something.
This may discourage some of you -- discourage you so much that
you'll say I'm talking nonsense, and delude yourselves that
you really like modern scientifiction very much indeed. I hope
you won't, because a moment's thought will show you that I am
right. Why don't we hear from Taine, Hyatt Verrill these days?
Is it because editors won't pay them enough, when
science-fiction today is more popular than it ever was? Or is
it that they write good stuff, and don't think it worth while
wasting their talents on a lot of children who get just as
much intellectual uplift from a Wild West magazine? Isn't it
significant that Clark Ashton Smith, Williamson, Edmond
Hamilton and many other old science-fiction writers, are
writing more for "Weird Tales" nowadays, for people who
understand good literature, and only turning out an occasional
hack story for the science-fiction magazines? (Williamson's
"Legion of Time" was a glorious accident to which the above
remarks do not apply.)
What are we coming to when people start to rave over such a piece of over-written, illogical nonsense as "Galactic Patrol"?
Any of you reading this and agreeing are automatically enrolled as members of the SPISMDSWISTF -- The Society for the Prevention of the Introduction of Sex, Mad Doctors and Space Warps Into Scientifiction. Come on, you demented modernists, let's hear from you.
CHANGE OF ADDRESS The Editorial Address of NOVAE TERRAE, and the address of Maurice K. Hanson is now altered to: 88 Gray's Inn Road, L0NDON, W.C.l., England.
Humour in Science-Fiction
by Frank Edward Arnold
What is the funniest story in science-fiction? A few years ago a question like this would have started a riot; but since science-fiction collapsed and had its "Rebirth" there has been a wholesale and wholesome debunking, and we can ask the question without fear.
Undoubtedly the famous "Alicia in Blunderland" started the trend of irreverence among the fans. There was never such a story that extracted so much fun from the topical tomfoolery of its time and poured it out into a fast-moving action yarn. The mass-produced hackwork, the romantic trash of Cummings, the lurid trash of Hamilton, the idolatry of Merritt, the Gilmour mystery, fans and their hysteria, fanmag columnists -- all were put on the spot and taken for a joy-ride. Like all good humour it had a core of sound commonsense, and demanded a return to commonsense in science-fiction.
It was followed in the same fanmag by "The Skylaugh of Space" intended to offer wild slapstick in contrast to the subtlety of "Alicia". It was a bit weak but had such gems as the Great Detective bending Hyper-space with a crowbar, and "Road Up" notices in the time-stream.
After that the fans took to writing their own science-fiction and "Wonder" published a crude and rather foolish thing called "Brain-Eaters of "Pluto". The same mag offered some more in similar vein, but none of it equalled the humour of the Good Old Days.
The first to see fun in fantasy was the Old Master himself, Hugo Gernsback, founder of Modern Science-Fiction. In 19l5 he published "Baron Munchausen's Scientific Adventures" and reprinted them in "Amazing" twelve years later. Although he had a character with the transparently innocent name of I. M. Alien, and similarly youthful japes, there was some fun in the series.
There waas also Edward L. Rementer, mentioned recently by
"Fantasia" who contributed a couple of really funny stories
to "Amazing" some ten years ago. The first was "The Space
Bender" a story that began with some fascinating speculation
into the fourth dimension and then developed into a grand
piece of satire. The hero lands on the planet Venus to find
that the inhabitants have evolved from the feline races, as
we have from the simian. Those authors who have written of
silly tiger-men, shark-men, elephant-men and so forth in later
epics should have studied this old masterpiece and observed the
quite credible and crazily logical way in which the author
describes his cat-men, who are real human beings.
The same writer also did "The Time Deflector" a time-travel story of the same calibre. Satire degenerated into slapstick, but it was funny.
Bob Olsen wrote with a light touch, especially in "Four-Dimensional Escape" and "Four-Dimensional Auto-Parker". Stanton A. Coblentz won fame as a clever satirist and his "Blue Barbarians" is undoubtedly one of the funniest ever written. The "Ode to Gul-Gul" should never be forgotten.
The late Stanley G. Weinbaum wrote with wit, grace and lightness of touch, particularly in "The Worlds of If" and its repeaters, but he was not essentially a funny writer.
A famous old series "Hicks' Inventions-with-a-Kick" drew a lot of attention years ago. The ingenious Hicks went through much slapstick comedy with such ridiculous things as Perambulating Homes, etc. Joe Skinner wrote some similar stories "Electro-Episoded" etc., but they had a mixed reception.
But for truly uproarious belly-laughing fun the present writer will plump heavily for Jacques Morgan's lunatic masterpiece "The feline Light and Power Co." Like all good science-fiction stories it was
based on a proper
scientific theory, but only a maniac like Mr. Fosdick would
think of hitching up the static electricity in a cat's fur to
start a power company.
The fun that ensues when the super-charged, fighting-mad moggies break loose and rampage round the town, threatening electrocution to everyone, when dogs fitted with protective rubber boots run round burning down lamp-posts and charging barbed wire fences, must be read to be believed. I propose that "The Feline Light and Power Co." is the funniest science-fiction story ever written. Any seconds? Any challengers?
On a section of Crazy Paving, uncovered by
Fantastic tracery of Line and Space,
What deep laid thought, so clear and yet so hidden
Or were your hieroglyphics queer compiled
On a section of Crazy Paving, uncovered by
Fantastic tracery of Line and Space,
What deep laid thought, so clear and yet so hidden
Or were your hieroglyphics queer compiled
D. R. Smith to Bert Lewis
Mr. Lewis, competent critics have assured me that I am one smart critic, probably the critic of the age. Also, not only do I know all the answers, but I ask most of the questions too. Dictionaries I have of my own, but such is the power of my brain and the knowledge gained by reading scientific fiction that I rarely need to use them. It is some time since I bought a "remainder" magazine, for I can't find any! I have to borrow my scientific fiction.........Mr. Gillings has assured me that at present my aid is not required, so any time Professor Low is ready..............But perhaps Mr. Lewis is being sarcastic?
Regarding Mr. Knight's Letter (August issue) from E. Longley, Portsmouth.
I should like to ask Mr. Knight what he means by "a theistic basis". My dictionary's definition is "Belief in the existence of a god". If this is correct then obviously "Star-Maker" and therefore "Last and First Men" have a theistic basis, if not a very comfortable one. Would "a more cheerful" "Last and First Men" have been finer? I see no particular virtue in cheerfulness in cosmology, and very little reason for it. There are so many gods (about 1500 million for this particular planet I believe) ranging from the anthropomorphic-benevolent type (can it be Mr. Knight's god is such?) to something perhaps like Olaf Stapledon's vision, which is surely more in line with modern knowledge. Perhaps Mr. Knight will reply? I wish he would amplify his last sentence, which (though I think it shows he has definite ideas as to the attributes of the Creator) is meaningless to me as it stands.
The British Fan in His Natural Haunt.
by William F. Temple.
No.5. KEN CHAPMAN.
I have always thought Ken Chapman one of the only two real gentlemen in the SFA. (The other is too modest to reveal his name, but his initials are W.F.T.) He is courteous, generous, thoughtful, and considerate for other people's feelings. There is another such person not in the SFA: that is John Beynon Harris. And there is a person in the SFA of exactly the opposite type: that is Ego Clarke. But I digress. (You also lie.- A.C.C., Assistant Stencil Cutter.)
Ken is, of course, Executive Secretary of the SFA, and he lives in an upper flat in a smallish house in South Norwood. I went there one Sunday recently for tea and anything that went with it - intentionally or not. (Since this series started, my sleight-of-hand has improved wonderfully. I think nothing now of palming the ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA and having the lines of my hands read at the same time.)
Ken had promised to meet my party at the station. But we met him instead, outside his front door. He had emerged with suspicious suddenness, like a cork popping from a bottle. He has just got spliced, you know, and his wife Joan is strong of mind and arm.... But perhaps he was just eager to welcome us. Certainly Joan displayed no black eyes. (I told you Ken was a gentleman.) After tea he showed me his den. It was a square room with a big new office desk under the only window, a tall, glass-doored bookcase on the left, rows of bookshelves in the niche beside the window, and a large bureau in another corner - Joan's corner, where she pursues her hobby of tracing and drawing out royal family trees (the plan of Henry VIII's offspring looked like a complete list of the people who didn't win the Irish Sweep.)
I took stock of the shelves by the window. "Mebbe you've got
something there, "I admitted, surveying a complete bound set of
ASTOUNDING, anelluva lot of AMAZING (but he was 10 short),
anelluva lot of WONDER (but he was 7 short), a stretch of
Quarterlies, and WEIRD TALES complete from Dec.'34. He told me
his favourite story in that lot was "The Secret Kingdom" a
3-part serial in AMAZING in the last months of 1929, by A.S.
& O.A.Kline. For the first time my eyes beheld the almost
legendary AMAZING Vol.l No.l -it had stories by Wells, Verne,
Poe, and G.A.England. There were some WEIRDS of 1925 vintage,
and a whole pile of THE ARGOSY -one of them, I remember, was
running Merritt's "Snake Mother" and another Garret Smith's
famous "Finger of Doom." Other things I recall are a complete
set, Nos.l to 15, of those separate booklets Gernsback
published, the "Science-Fiction Series; both the two issues of
MIRACLE TALES: an interesting proof copy of THRILLING WONDER;
and a complete set of SCOOPS (but who hasn't got that - except
I turned my attention to the books piled on the mantel-shelf. He had most of the CENTURY series of creepy 'orrors, some Lord Dunsanys, a mysterious s-f novel called "A King of Mars" by Avis Hekking (according to the fly-leaf it had once belonged to an even more mysterious gent named Foggy Finn), and that inevitable pair "Station X" and "Lo!" Whilst he thought I wasn't looking, Ken hastily snatched up a book he evidently hadn't meant to leave about, and thrusting it under his coat stole silently from the room. But my eagle eye had noticed it. It was a FLASH GORDON! I continued my investigations, and found a number of books on anthropology and golf. (These are two of Ken's hobbies, and he often combines them by digging for bones with his driver on the local golf course.)
Then I noticed a book placed reverently on the top of a pile of other books. It was bound in limp black leather, and had red-edged leaves. "A Bible. Well, I never," I murmured, picking it up. It was,
and it wasn't, if
you get me. It was what might be termed the "Bible of
Science-Fiction" - the famous Memorial Volume of Stanley
Weinbaum's works, DAWN OF FLAME. I opened it, and there was the
title-story, a virgin, unread Weinbaum! I looked around with
narrowed eyes. I was alone in the room. Ken hadn't returned
yet. With an adept movement (learned from Harold Chibbett,
London Branch's amateur magician and spook-hunter) I palmed
the volume. Instantly there was a loud, indignant cry. Ken's
voice. "Bill, you thieving squirg! Come here, you ——!!" *
I realised that I'd been watched; perhaps Ken had a peephole in the wall or a hidden television camera trained on me. So I put DAWN OF FLAME back in its place quite casually, as if I'd only been practising with it, and assuming a look of angelic innocence, strolled out and into the next room, from which the voice had come. It was the bedroom. With a bit of a shock I saw that it was empty. Then suddenly a lot of scuffling and muffled swearing began under the bed, a portion of Ken's anatomy appeared briefly on the far side, then vanished down under again. Abruptly the counterpane on the near side lifted up, and a tough barrel-chested kitten came marching out. It had one of Ken's golfballs in its mouth. It halted and looked fiercely at me, as if it suspected I might start something. I tried to look as little like a golfer as possible. The kitten sniffed, and with eyes full of disdain and mouth full of ball, high-stepped past me and down the stairs. Ken's flushed face emerged from under the bed. "Come back, Bill, you nasty thing!" he yelled. (Well, something like it.)
So it was Bill-the-kitten he'd been bawling at. What an unlucky mistake! And now I had lost my chance for good, for Ken came back with me into the den. I was too upset now, and even looked
*NOTE:- Although the deleted matter is unprintable in a respectable journal like N.T., the writer vouches that it was no more than ordinary, everyday golfing language, and not of a harmful nature.
at his sexy MARVEL TALES with
lack-lustre eyes. I stepped over to the desk, using one of
Ken's tees as a stepping-stone en route. He started swearing at
that kitten again. I looked out of the window down into the
street of little suburban villas; it was empty and
quiet on this sultry Sunday afternoon, and another similar
street started across the way and ran up to the local football
ground, where Ken and Joan go regularly to cheer their
favourite team. I thought of all the letters from all over the
world that found their way here to this secluded backwater,
from such far and wild places as Oskosh, Minn., and Dishwosh,
Soho, and Opskotch, Giggleswick, with Ken sitting here like a
spider (a tubby spider) in the centre of a quivering web of
For Ken takes his job seriously, and does a vast amount of work for the Association, keeping in touch with all corners of it, always planning things to keep the natives amused. Let me give you a sketch of this master-mind. Tall and well-built, with a horror of putting on weight, somewhat pale, but dark-haired and handsome, (I had promised Joan not to let the local barmaid get her hooks into him, and had a worrying time whan we called in for a pint.) He has his own opinions about things, but doesn't air them unduly, and is quietly spoken. Although he can be very interested in such a superficial thing as football, his interests include much more profound subjects, and he finds it fascinating to delve among the origins of man. He has a fund of dubious stories that almost rivals Eric Frank Russell's collection, and yet, as far as I could judge, his idea of an ideal man is a clean-living, clean-spoken, clean-limbed sportsman, a pukka sahib full of wide-open spaces and things. I'm a few marks short there.
Well, after we'd had a game of billiards, and I
had made a break of two cues and one vase, the time came for
farewells. Ken and Joan shook me by the hand, and
Bill-the-kitten sat up and spat in my eye, and off I went
with my herd, DAWN OF FLAME-less, but quite content with a
high-temperature WEIRD TALES tucked in my fob-pocket. Well,
anyway, the cover of it. Ken wouldn't miss a little thing like
NOTE. The next, and last, (cheers!) in this series will be WALTER H. GILLINGS.
IT'S IN THE LIBRARY
Brief reviews of books which can be borrowed from the SFA
THE GREATEST ADVENTURE by John Taine. A tale of the North Pole
and prehistoric monsters which is considerably more original
than the average story of this type. The author introduces some
of his pet theories of evolution and the Great Reptiles. Highly
THE GREAT STONE OF STARDIS by Frank Stockton. Illustrated.
American classic of the '90's. Rather naively written, and
giving what appears to be two separate stories in one, this
deals with a submarine expedition to the North Pole and a
journey to the centre of the earth in an astonishing boring
machine. Quite entertaining.
THE RETURN OF GEORGE WASHINGTON by Loring Brent. Another
American classic of about 1927. Satirical drama of American
life in general when confronted by an amazing phenomenon - the
revival to life of Washington by an original experiment. Ending
is a clever surprise.
A STRANGE MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN A COPPER CYLINDER by James de
Mille. Ilus. Melodramatic tale of the centre of the earth
written about 1850. Ship's officers find and read the Strange
Manuscript, and their comments on it make a strange contrast in
style to the lurid but enjoyable tale that is told.
Brief reviews of books which can be borrowed from the SFA Library.
THE GREATEST ADVENTURE by John Taine. A tale of the North Pole and prehistoric monsters which is considerably more original than the average story of this type. The author introduces some of his pet theories of evolution and the Great Reptiles. Highly exciting.
THE GREAT STONE OF STARDIS by Frank Stockton. Illustrated. American classic of the '90's. Rather naively written, and giving what appears to be two separate stories in one, this deals with a submarine expedition to the North Pole and a journey to the centre of the earth in an astonishing boring machine. Quite entertaining.
THE RETURN OF GEORGE WASHINGTON by Loring Brent. Another American classic of about 1927. Satirical drama of American life in general when confronted by an amazing phenomenon - the revival to life of Washington by an original experiment. Ending is a clever surprise.
A STRANGE MANUSCRIPT FOUND IN A COPPER CYLINDER by James de Mille. Ilus. Melodramatic tale of the centre of the earth written about 1850. Ship's officers find and read the Strange Manuscript, and their comments on it make a strange contrast in style to the lurid but enjoyable tale that is told.
Scripsi............ (Continued from Page 11)
To the DAILY WORKER - from Sidney L. Birchby, London, E.4.
The "Daily Worker's" criticism of Shaw Desmond's "Chaos" contains all the usual mistakes.......... "Chaos" is not wholly a fantastic picture of the future; it is a story of another world war, the resultant smash-up and the rebuilding of civilization. Granted, it is only one of many novels now cashing in on war scares, but since it does warn us against the horrors of the next war it is not entirely useless. The part of "fantastic pictures of the future" should be to show the possibilities inherent in the world around us. Science-fiction does seem to do this. The usual evolution of the fan is to be brought up on a steady diet of fantastic rubbish until he learns to pick out the scanty stories of value, by which time he has begun to worry less about his wonderful dream worlds and more about the dirty old world of reality. After a brief phase of seeking self-expression through trying to write, he finds out how to do so, and passes on to politics. A little mania for the wilder kind of modern ideologies, and he more often than not ends up a Pacifist, almost completely weaned from science-fiction and so ready to do something useful with the mental background it has given him. Science-fiction makes people think for themselves. No wonder the "Daily Worker" doesn't like it.
P.S. Try and get this into print before the next war starts.
To the Editor - from The Readers Who Didn't Write In, Everytown.
So you published a magazine!
RATIONALISM SIMPLY EXPLAINED
by Dave McIlwain
There seems to be a lot of thought waves buzzing about of late with regard to the so called "acquisitive aspect" (whatever that is) and the rational explanation of why should a fan fan. So let's see if we can straighten things out a bit; classify the various "isms", and provide them with clean spats and spectacles where necessary.
Now, just what is a Michelist? I devoured my flora and biological text-books, but the animal was not listed; so I wrote to one who is a confirmed escapist, and received the following reply:
"A Michelist is a low form of scum that infests certain parts of fandom, and seeks to corrupt science-fiction by injecting indolent propaganda into the world's best literature. It is a species of Communist; but a species which has lost sight of the basic principles of the cult, and founded a new fetish of Utopia via science-fiction. One might as well hope to marry a Broadway flapper by reading "Breezy Stories".
On the other hand, I asked myself, "What is an Escapist?" and found the answer in a book by Freud, (one which I always keep locked up in a drawer). It seems that an Escapist is a creature which, appalled by the misery and cruelty rife in the world today, and disgusted at the Foolishness of Man as a Whole, tries to create a world of dreams in its imagination by plagiarising Messrs. Fearn, Binders and Co. -- and lives a secluded life, physically here, but mentally some thousands of light years away, in another dimension.
In other words, the Escapist is a coward, lacking self-confidence, and unable to face the world. It sits in its chamber and moons and moans and moans and moons —- dreaming the while lascivious
dreams of transcendental Elysiums and Utopias peopled (no doubt) with
beautiful girls. It regards science-fiction as a doorway into
another world; a world where one can loaf, and live a life of
Thus we account for the Michelists on the one hand, and the Escapists on the other.........both obviously opposite extremes of something a little more sane and rational. And it is that "Rational Viewpoint" which every fan should try to acquire.
Basically there is no difference between a collector of science-fiction and a collector of snuff-boxes. Both are out to possess as many as possible of the things they desire, and both buy any specimen they have not got, regardless of its true worth. Both find pleasure in possessing a large number of whatever it is they collect.
Why should a fan specialise only in science-fiction?
That's where Mr. Freud comes in (censors permitting). It is a strange but true fact that most s-f fans are youths, and more or less intelligent youths at that. And youths differ from other members of the race Homo Sapiens in that they begin to take a profound interest in the things old mother Nature intended them to, (hormones and all that, you know!). Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, a severe society represses their natural instincts, and accordingly being intelligent, they sublimate those instincts (thus avoiding a helluva lot of neuroses, complexes and what-not born of suppression) and turn their crude curiosity into something more respectable, .... a desire to find out about the origin of such things as space and time.
Every thinking youth finds himself, at some time or other, caught up in this bog of philosophical introspection, so what is more natural than that he should turn to that form of literature which answers, or attempts to answer, the very problems which have been puzzling him.
LEEDS. With faces bronzed by their summer holidays (or was it by those "sun tan" preparations?) members poured into the clubroom at 7 p.m., Sun., Aug. 21st, for the inaugural meeting of the Winter Session of the Branch. Welcome guests were Manchester colleagues Harry Turner, Eric S. Needham, G. Ellis, who had spent the afternoon browsing around the Branch's library, discussing s-f, and posing for photographs. Chairman Mayer opened the meeting, Harry Turner recounted the activities of the Manchester Branch, and his own activities as s-f artist. A film show followed. First a Snub Pollard comedy, "The Oil Magnate," full of Heath Robinson inventions. Then the full-length s-f film "The Secret of the Loch" with incidental music provided by the Branch's home-made radiogram. The film, featuring Seymour Hicks, dealt with the Loch Ness Monster, which resembled an overgrown lizard. Monthly meeting, Sept 4th. G. A. Airey resigned from position of Treasurer, Alec Miller taking over instead. Colin Macklin elected Librarian. A film "Death Drives Through" was screened; mildly s-f, dealing with invention of new-type engine, and showing thrilling Brooklands motor races.
LIVERPOOL. Meeting held at G. Petty's Cafe, Hackin's Hey, Sept. 23rd. L. Johnson in the Chair. A message from Mr. K. Chapman was read and appreciated. Members had prepared criticisms of "Tales of Wonder" No.4, and these were read and discussed. Mr. Gabrielson expounded his scheme for allotting marks to each story: 70 for Idea, 70 for Style, 70 for Use of Idea - 210 in all. This "Key Critique" was adopted as a definite part of the policy of the Branch. It was hoped by this means to influence Editors of the British magazines to produce better s-f, to some extent at least. It was agreed that much improvement was needed if TALES 0F WONDER was to justify its existence. A discussion on the European situation followed, finishing at 11 p.m.
MANCHESTER Meeting of Aug. 28th opened with discussion of
Branch affairs and a debate on the "N.T." Investigation. Next
came a reading of the old classic, Gail's "Shot Into Infinity."
This proved somewhat of a struggle, and when the meeting was
eventually closed members departed in great haste, presumably
in search of throat lozenges to ease their overworked vocal
chords. As members had not quite recovered their voices, the
next meeting on Sept. 11th was very quiet, all attention being
concentrated on the latest s-f literature, with occasional
distracting snores from Harry Turner, recovering from an
all-night railway journey. We should like to thank our Leeds
colleagues for their hospitality to Messrs. Ellis, Needham,
and Turner on their visit to Leeds on August 21st.
LONDON Meeting at A.O.D. Sept. 18th. Very welcome visitor was Les Johnson, Liverpool's Prize Pessimist. Sid Birchby gave a short talk suggesting fans might find the principles of the IPU of interest. A brisk but (as usual) inconclusive discussion followed. Frank Arnold held forth on the character of the s-f fan. Said from his personal experience he thought the average fan a hard-headed person with a 'better grip' on life than most people, certainly not a mere escapist. Ken Chapman gave an interesting account of the career of Jack Williamson, and his home life on the ranch. Then the company moved into the adjoining "Druid's Temple", which had been fitted as a cinema, and saw the famous s-f film METROPOLIS. Arthur Clarke in charge of projector, Messrs. Hanson & Temple managing accompanying music. Two mishaps:- Hanson & Temple ran out of "hurry" music during prolonged chase scenes: had villainous inventor chasing heroine to "Dead March." In confusion Organiser Temple put Reel 5 on gramophone and "Basin Street Blues" in projector. But film ended successfully with nicely-timed "Things to Come" Epilogue, and was applauded loudly.
SFA EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE REPORT
Headquarters: 23, Farnley Road, South Norwood, LONDON, S.E.35.
Apologies The Executive Secretary wishes to apologise to all who have written him during the past week and not yet received answers. The events of the past fortnight have caused him a tremendous amount of outside work which had to be completed immediately. Closest attention will be given to all outstanding matters at the earliest possible moment.
Congratulations Again, we take pleasure in congratulating our Los Angeles Branch upon the forthcoming Anniversary Issue of their Organ "Imagination". On behalf of the SFA a cable has been despatched to Los Angeles reading "Congratulations to 'Madge' -— Many Happy Returns".
Congratulations also to our Liverpool Branch for the publication of the first issue of their Branch Organ "Satellite".
New Members We are delighted to welcome: Mrs. L. Grieve (Sydney, N.S.W.); Miss M. Anshutz (Los Angeles); F. Brady (Los Angeles); D. McIlwain (Liverpool); J. F. Burke (Liverpool); F. H. P. Knight (Walsall); M. C. Schmidt (Mt. Vernon, Indiana); J. Gordon, (Glasgow); Oliver Saari (Red Wing, U.S.A.); S. Johnstone (Barnsley); J. D. White (Southport); R. W. Parrish (Wickford); and G. Evans (Fforestfach).
Acknowledgments We gratefully acknowledge: "Imagination" and "The Family Circle" (Los Angeles SFA); "The Astronaut", "Astronomische Rundschau" (Manchester Interplanetary Society) and Bulletin of the B.I.S.
Publications We wish to point out that SFA members can subscribe to this magazine through the General Service Bureau. Rates on Application.
"Satellite" Arrangements have been made for supplies of
each of issue to be sent to H.Q. from which it can be
obtained at 3d. a copy (3 1/2d post free) -- subscriptions 1/6d.
for six months. We are pleased to recommend both this
magazine and "Imagination" to members with every confidence.
Convention Report Supplies are now almost competely exhausted but a few 'proof' copies are available at 3d. each.
Association Emblem The ballot on this question was so poorly supported that no question of its adoption can possibly be considered, for the present, at least. Only 13 members in all were interested enough to vote..... 7 voting "For", 5 "Against" and 1 "Impartial". The Executive Committee would like to state that the policy of the membership towards this matter, one of no interest in the question. excellently reflects their own feelings regarding the same.
Constitution: Copies were duly posted to every member on August 31st last, as promised, but we have received a complaint from one member - he has not yet received his copy. Members will appreciate that we are not in any way responsible for the malpractices of the Postal Authorities, and we would be glad to hear from any other member who has also been apparently missed.
"Science, Science-Fiction, and General Information Service" It has been decided that a reference bureau under the above title shall be opened at H.Q. Any and all questions and queries members care to send along will be solved for them to the best of our ability through this new service. All work in answering queries will be executed from the leading text-books, encyclopedias, and record-books obtainable, and can be considered as authentic with every confidence. Notify your questions to H.Q. on a post-card marked "Information Service".
London Branch All members are invited to attend the first "Anniversary" meeting of the Branch to be held on October 23rd, at 3.30 p.m. Special Agenda, Many Celebrated, Visitors, etc.
Rationalism Simply Explained
(Cont. from P,19)
In such a manner works the mechanism of Rationalism. Surely it is a simpler and more plausible theory than either Michelism or Escapism? It reveals the fan, not as a peculiar creature of warped mentality, but as a sane and normal person, possessed of somewhat more than the average mentality, and capable of constructive and imaginative thought.
"The Inequality of Man"- J.B.S.Haldane. (Pelican Book.)
As the author himself says, the collection of
essays is a "rather mixed bag". In a clear, decisive
and often humorous style, he presents ideas both
authoritative and fascinating upon his main theme -
the effect of science upon humanity. In reference to
biology (a subject of which he is a master) his ideas
are particularly sound. But he does not confine himself
to this subject, for his pen ranges far afield,
into experimental physics, into religion and into
psychology, although he misses the usual pitfall into
which most scientists, when speaking of other branches
beside their own specialised one fall - that of
unfamiliarity, leading to sometimes false statements.
Believers in "sociological scientifiction" will revel
in this book, whilst for those fans not so much interested,
there is much worthy of attention. Considering
that one pays a shilling for a s.f. magazine, the
mere sixpence asked for this book is wonderful value
for even one essay from it. It also contains an excellent
short story, "The Gold Makers"
"The Inequality of Man"- J.B.S.Haldane. (Pelican Book.)
As the author himself says, the collection of essays is a "rather mixed bag". In a clear, decisive and often humorous style, he presents ideas both authoritative and fascinating upon his main theme - the effect of science upon humanity. In reference to biology (a subject of which he is a master) his ideas are particularly sound. But he does not confine himself to this subject, for his pen ranges far afield, into experimental physics, into religion and into psychology, although he misses the usual pitfall into which most scientists, when speaking of other branches beside their own specialised one fall - that of unfamiliarity, leading to sometimes false statements. Believers in "sociological scientifiction" will revel in this book, whilst for those fans not so much interested, there is much worthy of attention. Considering that one pays a shilling for a s.f. magazine, the mere sixpence asked for this book is wonderful value for even one essay from it. It also contains an excellent short story, "The Gold Makers"
Douglas W.F. Mayer breaks into journalism with a bang: two articles accepted by DISCOVERY, one by SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, one by DAILY WORKER.... "The Last Trump", new Seymour Hicks play, is about a feud between a business man and an astronomer who invents a cosmic cataclysm.... Complete records of our present civilisation - books, specimens, films- placed in cupaloy container, buried in grounds of New York World's Fair, addressed to people of AD. 6939.... Sixpenny Penguin Edition of Wells' "Invisible Man" recently published .... Most of the accompanying music to "Terror From the Sea," s-f radio play, was from "Things to Come" .... Hollywood planning a film called "When Life Began", about pre-historic times. "Cavemen" actors to be recruited from the athletic world ....Noted SFA-member-Authcr Festus Pragnell bags cover of December AMAZING with his 20,000 word story "The Ghost of Mars". Festus says it "describes exactly what I should expect to find on Mars, given a great deal of luck.!" ... John Lane have just published a novel by C.S.Lewis called "Out of the Silent Planet", which has had good reviews. Three men (two villains and a captured philologist) visit a planet on which three different races live in amity. They only remain on the planet long enough to be expelled ...... THE FAMILY CIRCLE, American weekly, publishes a burlesque interview with Frank Paul, s-f's No.1. artist, under title "Bogey-man. " S-f is pulled to bits in an amusing way.... Mort Weisinger reported to have invented a new game "Movie Millions." It will be markated in America at the end of this year .... Virgil Finlay, ace-illustrator of WEIRD TALES, is a boxer of some note.... One-time s-f author Fletcher Pratt comes into news again with a biography "Hail Caesar!" (Williams & Norgate, 15/-) written in a racy style......
J.B. Priestley's Time, play "I Have Been Here Before"
to be broadcact from London, Saturday, Oct. 8th....
Thornton Ayre going great guns with AMAZING - sold three
novelettes in a row; "Locked City," "Secret of the Ring,"
and "Deserted World."...Editor of MODERN WONDER commissions
three 5000 ((word)) s-f yarns from John Russell Fearn, something
after the Weinbaum style. J.R.F. has already written the
first, "Misty Isle"....."The Blue Ray" (Warne, 6/-) burns
out the mind of a man and makes him a "biddable automaton."
Author Flight-Lieut. S.C.George writes rather artlessly....
"Freak Museum" by R.R.Ryan (Jenkins, 7/6d.) is about a
woman "trapped by fiends and shut up among elephant women,
human octopuses, centaurs, all on top of a gigantic acid
bath!"...French informant tells us fantasy-burlesque film
"Le Couple Invisable" going rounds of French cinemas doing
well. But it sounds to us like "Topper"!...AMAZING to go
monthly from November, 1938 .....London Films announce stills
of "Things to Come" on sale, 1/- each, 30/- per dozen....
Ray Cummings' latest "The Man Who Saw Too Much" bears too-
striking resemblance to his "Three-Eyed Man", which appeared
in ARGJCY in 1925. Many paragraphs.are identical.
Money for old rope! .... Both Eric Frank Russell and Benson
Herbert had semi-s-f yarns in the World's Work mg. TALES
OF CRIME AND PUNISHMENT..... Serial running in GOOD HOUSE-
KEEPING, "The Hopkins Manuscript" by R.C. Sherriff is
supposedly written in the ruins of Notting Hill in 1952
after the moon has crashed into the earth and only 700
people are left alive in London. It features "The British
Lunar Society," which, from the details, appears to be
a take-off of the B.I.S....Haydn music "The World on the
Moon" recently broadcast from London.... THE FLASHING
STREAM," play at Lyric Theatre, about island in Atlantic
where inventions are made and tested. Magnetic aerial
torpedos follow bombers to their bases and destroy them...
American fantasy play ON BORROWED TIME now running in
London. Film star Phillip Holmes in lead..,.Weinbaum's
"Black Flame" may be top novel in first new THRILLING
WONDER NOVELS....AMAZING may serialise his "New-Adam"....