NOVAE TERRAE #29 - Vol. 3 No. 5 (Jan 1939)
Editor: Maurice K. Hanson
This is the last issue of "Novae Terrae". It will be followed in February by Volume 1, No.1 of "New Worlds", a new magazine which will be its successor as monthly organ of the Science-Fiction Association. Ted Carnell will be the editor and the magazine will be mimeographed on quarto paper. The initial line-up is extremely strong and includes a brand new novelette,"Empyrean Rendezvous" by the famous American author, John Victor Peterson. Other names likely to appear in the first issue are John Russell Fearn, Frank Arnold and Russ Hodgkins. For later issues new fiction has already been obtained from such authors as Jack Williamson and William F. Temple together with articles by Thornton Ayre, Walter H. Gillings, etc.Unexpired subscriptions to "Nova Terrae" will be filled by the appropriate number of issues of the new magazine.
During the summer of this year it became apparent that the production of "Novae Terrae" was taking time properly belonging to more important interests. So long as a mere handful of enthusiasts carried out the whole of the work entailed by its production, this was inevitable. Thus it was that sheer volume of work (which was, incidentally, hardly acknowledged by the vast maturity of those for whose enjoyment it was designed) brought its career to a close. It is in no spirit of boastfulness that I instance the occasions of an editorial being written on Christmas Day and the super Anniversary issue produced only by working ceaselessly through August Bank Holiday Sunday and Monday and night after night afterwards until 1 a.m. I recall clearly arriving home one Sunday morning at 2 a.m. with an issue of a magazine to be read for reviewing, one of the major articles of the issue of N.T. to be
written, the majority of the duplication and all the sorting,
stitching, and despatching to be done in order to catch the post
fifteen hours later. Such instances have been the rule, rather
than the exception. The reader may estimate for himself the delight
he would experience in all this if he produced the magazine.
He must be lenient with us if of late he has found us everlastingly complaining of this and that. There are few things more productive of complaints than un-rewarded labour. So perhaps he will excuse me if I take the liberty of giving his thanks and my own to some of those who have contributed most to the magazine's success: to Dennis Jacques for a huge amount of work during the first year of the magazine's existence, to Ted Carnell, Will Temple and Arthur Clarke for unremitting toil at type-writer and duplicator during the past eighteen months, to Frank Dobby and Harry Turner for numerous covers; and to D.R. Smith and Ted Carnell for never-failing articles.
"New Worlds" will be produced on a co-operative basis, no one person doing more than a reasonable amount of work, and assistance being recruited from fans all over the British Isles. For this reason it will succeed where "Novae Terrae" found insuperable obstacles, and where very nearly every other fan magazine that has existed has found insuperable obstacles.
So it is that the time has come to write "Finis" to "Novae Terrae", and after all is done we feel that it has been decidedly worth the effort. In the words of the popular song, it often was a headache, but it was never a bore. Now, it is a thing of the past.
Maurice K. Hanson
Concerning the Criticisms of Scientific Fiction
There are always arguments in progress amongst scientific fiction fans as to the merits of the stories they read. Frequently these arguments are amusing and interesting, but unfortunately most of them suffer from the same defect - that the bases of the arguments are blindly instinctive likings or dislikings of the stories in question. Doubtless the instinct is frequently right, for the instinct for quality gained by appreciation of the established great writers is usually accurate, but it would be more satisfactory if certain fundamental laws could be established and adhered to.
The characteristics of literary worth have been so expertly expounded by innumerable critics that it would be pointless to go into them here, even if space permitted the slightest covering of such a vast subject. If the characters are interesting, natural and consistent in speech and action; if the style is free from stock phrases and correctly adjusted to the type of plot; if the story is developed smoothly and economically; then the elements of a good story are there. Add originality and a coherent plot to these qualifications and we have a standard that will be above that of most scientific fiction.
The question of the influence of the science-content is a more debatable one, and one we have to solve for ourselves. There are fans who insist that the quality and quantity of the science does not affect the worth of the story in the slightest, but these cannot be considered as science-fiction fans, for they are only interested in fantasy. The difference between scientific fiction and fantasy is the difference between the youngest form of fiction and the oldest. This is a dogmatic statement, but the argument in support of it is too lengthy for inclusion.
On the other hand, we must beware of condemning all stories that are
not scientifically accurate to the last detail. The question should
be is the science plausible in the light of present day knowledge and
theory? And even when the answer is negative we must still examine the
magnitude of the error to calculate the exact effect, which will
naturally also depend on whether the story is sober, satirical or
The science may have three effects. It can be beneficial, when the scientific aspects definitely increase the enjoyment of the reader by arousing interest in and admiration for the ingenuity of the argument. The best example of this is the Arcot series by John W. Campbell, Jr. Naturally, the science must be free from error of fact or logic, and plausible to a high degree.
The effect may be neutral, when the science is not positively interesting, but is still a pleasing natural ingredient. "The Skylark of Space" is an example of this; in which the reader is content to accept the scientific wonders, being unable to prove or disprove them from the data supplied in the story.
Thirdly, the effect may be detrimental when the reader's enjoyment is marred by errors or false logic that make the story unrealistic. The slightest example of this is the acceleration absurdity in 'The Skylark', the worst examples need not be mentioned. If a story, though spoilt as science-fiction, is well written it may be excused by placing it in the category of fantasy. If, as frequently is the case, it is even weaker on the literary side than on the scientific, we must condemn it without mercy.
These standards do not pretend to be perfect, or even complete, but everyone with the interests of scientific fiction at heart should adopt some such laws by which to judge the romances. The present
praise of stories is one of the most powerful forces tending to degrade
science-fiction into the lowest form of literature.
"Stranger than Truth"
The fellow comes up to me, and as usual starts twitting me for reading
"Junk" he says dispassionately. "Badly written junk, too."
"Tisn't badly written" I mutter, knowing he's got me there. "At
least not all of it."
"And another thing" he goes on, sweeping all before him, "It's too
fantastic. Space-ships! Time-travelling! Invisible men! No-one believes
it, any more than they do in fairies."
".....one of whom has just dropped dead" I interjected.
"Why not stick to logical stuff, things we know will happen?"
"Like-the next war and marvellous new weapons perhaps?"
''Well, at least they're possible, which is more than all this
space-travelling and such, is" he answers, lighting a cigarette with a
spill torn from a nearby science-fiction magazine.
Here I have him. "Look, vandal" I say, waving a bulging book at him.
"Not interested. What is it?"
"Press-cuttings. There's a clipping here that will make you eat those
I give him the article in question, and he reads it, gargling slightly
as he comes to the place there the glue was spilt. "..... now and
again suggestions are made to shoot some kind of projectile to the moon
- by others as well as Professor Baggs..."
The fellow comes up to me, and as usual starts twitting me for reading science-fiction.
"Junk" he says dispassionately. "Badly written junk, too."
"Tisn't badly written" I mutter, knowing he's got me there. "At least not all of it."
"And another thing" he goes on, sweeping all before him, "It's too fantastic. Space-ships! Time-travelling! Invisible men! No-one believes it, any more than they do in fairies."
".....one of whom has just dropped dead" I interjected.
"Why not stick to logical stuff, things we know will happen?"
"Like-the next war and marvellous new weapons perhaps?"
''Well, at least they're possible, which is more than all this space-travelling and such, is" he answers, lighting a cigarette with a spill torn from a nearby science-fiction magazine.
Here I have him. "Look, vandal" I say, waving a bulging book at him.
"Not interested. What is it?"
"Press-cuttings. There's a clipping here that will make you eat those words."
I give him the article in question, and he reads it, gargling slightly as he comes to the place there the glue was spilt. "..... now and again suggestions are made to shoot some kind of projectile to the moon - by others as well as Professor Baggs..."
The fellow eyes me; "Baggs, who is this man Baggs?"
"Topical allusion. He was a character or one of the Pip, Squeak and Wilfred strips of that time."
"Then why bring him up? Does he mean anything?"
"Nothing at all, except that the article appeared in the DAILY MIRROR."
With even greater disdain, he continued: "Less often has the question been discussed as to whether anything has ever been fired at this earth from other worlds."
"On June 20th 1887 a little carved stone fell from the sky at Tarbes Hautes-Pyrenees, in France. Attempts were made to prove that the stone had been caught up by a whirlwind in some other place and then allowed to fall at Tarbes. The stone was covered with thick ice and was vouched for by Professor Sabre of the Normal School at Tarbes. But the explanations given above was discarded."
"It is the obvious one."
"If" I remarked "you had ever read LO!....."
"I haven't. This story sounds very wonderful, but why haven't we heard of it before if it is true?"
"Because the stone seems to have fallen into the hands of a private collector, and cannot be examined at the moment, although according to the article, an attempt was to be made to bring it under critical examination to see if the carving is any sort of an inscription with a meaning."
I seize the-book of cuttings and read on:
"On August 21st, 1892 a carved stone fell from the sky at a plantation in Dutch Guiana. This is now in the Leyden Museum, where it is an object of great interest. The markings on it have no meaning to our eyes, but are remarkably regular. Is it possible they are intended to convey some message from a distant world inhabited by intelligent beings?"
"No" said the fellow. "Anybody clever enough to steer a missile across space would hardly waste time throwing stones. Especially with messages on that can't be understood."
"But the same thing was reported in 1910. A carved cylinder fell from the sky at Westerville, Ohio. Here again the carving seems to-have been carried out with great precision and scientists have been completely at a loss to explain the origin of the stone. Can other worlds be trying to get into touch with us? It is a fascinating thought."
"It is a footling thought" he says. "Have you never heard of the Glozel discoveries? Some years ago a young farm-hand at Glozel, near Vichy, ostentatiously dug up a marvellous collection of pottery, votive offerings, bones and so on. Everyone was deceived for a time, and even today his finds are preserved in a local museum despite the fact that a special commission definitely proved them to be fraudulent. How do you know that these other wonderful discoveries were not fakes? I remain unconvinced."
"You would" I grunted sulkily. He had just lit up with the last page of "Vandals of the Heliotrope Dimension."
UNIVERSALANGUAGE....Esperanto will be spoken by the minor characters in the M-G-M film of "Idiot's Delight"
"Music" - from John F. Burke, Liverpool
If Mr. D. R. Smith cannot find out anything more about the subject of swing music than what he seems to know - or rather, not know - he should steer clear of the subject altogether. I realise that the columns of N.T. are no place to carry out a musical war, but in all fairness it should be pointed out that Rudy Vallee's band never approaches the subject of swing.
However, let me quote Leo M. Sowerby, one of America's most eminent musicians - "The jitterbug antics of American youth are not indications of a mass insanity, but are, rather, just manifestations of a healthy exuberance, and completely sane." And I cannot help thinking of an eminent jazz critic who once pointed out that in this civilized world, where the nations were building bigger and better bombing planes and the main rhythmic appeal was in the sound of marching feet, it was nice to be interested in something that the general public derided as "uncivilized."
And More about Music – from D.W.F. Mayer, Leeds
As for Smith, and his "Tannhauser" complex, it surprised me to find that-one so learned has apparently not encountered the widely-accepted view among film experts that all good silent films require musical accompaniment. Unless Mr. Smith would prefer us to use "epileptic-frenzy" producing music of the swing type, we are obliged to rely on music of the "Tannhauser" variety (which, incidentally, was written as an aid to dramatic effect.)
"Idle Chatter" was good-reading while it was there but there was really nothing fundamental at the end of it. This is true of most fan writing except that a lot of it isn't even good reading.
In The Beginning - from-Jack F. Speer, Washington, D.C.
It seems probable that natural laws could not exist without the existence of matter-energy (the latter. being a single thing). Matter-energy, by its existence, demands laws to control it. But if there were no matter or energy what would the laws govern? Space? I have heard that space is created by matter. One of our laws governing matter and energy states that they can neither be created nor destroyed.
It seems to me that our mistake is in supposing that laws pre-dated the existence of matter and energy, which belief, if laws are indeed called into being by the existence of matter-energy, is absurd.
Might not all the matter-energy in the universe have come into being instantaneously and spontaneously, because there were no laws to prohibit it?
The Rubaiyat - from D. Webster, Aberdeen.
I enjoyed reading the Rubaiyat not only because it expressed a little irony, a little humour and a good deal of general horse-sense, but because obviously some care and ingenuity has been taken in preparing it. And a thing which pleases me mightily is to see some care taken in a passage, be it in logical deductions, poetic flights of imagination or - what these presuppose - good writing in good English-language.
Fans: John Burke's "Art and Science- Fiction" neglects to deal with other
progressive litterateurs who go to the opposite extremes of sordid-prosaicness.
We now only await the announcement that fans are so because of their
broadmindedness to have our circle complete
To suggest that fans read S.F, because they are artistically inclined is
but to sidetrack the argument. We still have to find out why they are so
inclined. The correct answer must be psychological
THANKS ALL ROUND FROM THE LIBRARIAN!
A certain benevolent member of the SFA has been sending parcels of magazines to me for circulation in the SFA Library. He has asked me that his identity should not be disclosed, and that secret will never escape me (Alauda Celeste Magna hic hoc asparagus). Nevertheless, he will earn your sincerest thanks, whether by prayers or telepathy, when you learn that he has, placed that jewel of jewels within my care - the AMAZING STORIES ANNUAL, the one and only. Not only this (you can get up from your knees now) but he has given us MIRACLE TALES No. 2, AMAZING Vol.1 Nos.1, 5, 6, & Vo1. 2, No.11, AMAZING DETECTIVE, and various extracts from ARGOSY, etc.
Such acts of kindness are to be doubly applauded when one considers the parental devotion with which these magazines and books are collected when young and then unselfishly given to the public fund for the benefit of those who stand no chance of ever buying them. I Wish to thank all those people who have helped the Library in any way during the past, and to express the hope that they have derived as much enjoyment from their reading as they deserve.
All the above magazines, except the ANNUAL, will be on loan at 6d each. The ANNUAL, partly because of its weight and partly because this is a Capitalistic State, will be 1/- (shame on me!) Quarterlies, which were reduced to 4d., will have to be raised again to 6d., as the postage is that amount.
"RAP" Editor of AMAZING, was born 1/8/1910. When 7 came to conclusions with a truck, and spent years in hospital. Then for two years he was a book-keeper in a metal firm. Once kept rendezvous with a dream. Comes of German-Irish ancestors.
Extremes of Wells
by Frank Edward Arnold
When "Amazing" was reprinting so much of Wells years ago they naturally came in for a lot of criticism. Most of the critics complained of his talk, which admittedly is long enough, although some of his yarns move like lightning. But perhaps the queerest grouse was from the fellow who said "I don't Like Wells……….and I can't stand his pessimism."
It's queer because if there is one startling thing about Wells it is raving and incurable optimism.
For the last thirty years or more all his writing has concentrated on one theme - that every day and in every way we are moving slowly, perhaps, but none the less inevitably, towards a better world.
He has written novels, articles, tracts, pamphlets, even a whole history to prove this thesis. He has cheerfully given up his reputation for being a fine story-teller to become - as he is accused of being - a mere preacher. Even now, in his declining years, he is still at it, and has even gone on to the pictures for the good work. And this man was called a pessimist!
Although he has prophesized the wonderful things that science can accomplish for us if we let it, he is not blind to the horrors we can loose upon ourselves if we don't let it. His first story "The Time Machine", which drew forth the abovementioned criticism, was a serious warning against too much industrialism and mechanisation. In "The Invisible Man" he warned us against experimenting without sufficient knowledge." The War of the Worlds" showed us that other beings of the Universe might have a far lower opinion of us than we have of ourselves.
Probably his most serious, and strikingly accurate, warning was "The War in the Air". As a work
of prophecy it is now out of date, for aviation has outstripped the
developments about which he wrote. It is a matter of history now that his
descriptions of aerial warfare were fully justified by the Great War.
Nevertheless, the book remains an extraordinary testament against the use
of scientific knowledge to the wrong purpose, as the history of the last
quarter of a century has shown us.
On the other side of the picture he reaches his peak in "Men Like Gods" which, with "The War in the Air" comprise his two greatest novels. Here he gives a wonderful vision of a great, powerful and benevolent people who do not rid themselves of the pesky Earthlings until all other resorts have failed. It is a magnificent picture he paints, although he hints at even greater marvels in his more recent "Star-Begotten".
He gives us two extremes of the possibilities of science and if he shows us the dark side in what way can he be truly called a pessimist?
There is no doubt about it - Wells is the greatest optimist of this century.
LEEDS BRANCH REPORT. (Continued from p.16.) Forthcoming events: On Dec.3lst
our celebrated Xmas "Binge" will be held, and on Jan.8th (if members have
by then recovered) the Annual General Meeting will take place, and the film
During the month other activities have included a visit to a revival of
"Things to Come," while pressure will shortly be brought, to bear on the
manager of a local cinema in an attempt to persuade him to revive "High
Treason," "Just Imagine," "F.P.1." "The Tunnel," and '"Lost Horizon."
During the month other activities have included a visit to a revival of "Things to Come," while pressure will shortly be brought, to bear on the manager of a local cinema in an attempt to persuade him to revive "High Treason," "Just Imagine," "F.P.1." "The Tunnel," and '"Lost Horizon."
LONDON BRANCH held an Xmas supper at AOD, Lamb's Conduit St., Sun., Dec.18th. Many notables attended, including famous s-f. authors John Beynon Harris and W. J.Passingham, and famous fan Bert Lewis. First came a film show in the Druid's Temple: "The Secret of the Loch", accompanied by friendly but ribald comments ("Look behind yer!) and the Loch Ness Monster was booed. It was an icy day, snowing, with the wind rattling over the roof, and the second film "White Hell of Pitz Palu" paralysed the audience with sheer cold. When a character freezing to death on a blizzard-swept mountain took off his outer clothes and shivered in his shirt, uncontrollable teeth-chattering broke out. But the film was applauded (or was the audience warming its hands?) At the supper table in the next room Ted Carnell gave a description of his forthcoming new fan-mag. NEW WORLDS, and was followed by Mr. W.J. Passingham (author of the widely-read PASSING SHOW s-f serials) who appealed for more humanity in s-f. He thought we weren't getting value for our money from the hack "super-science" of some pulps. We should get more carefully written stories showing the interplay of human emotions and reactions in strange surroundings (he instanced Sir A.C. Doyle as a master) and said, properly treated love interest should not be scoffed at. After all, human life was really the most interesting and complex thing in the universe - the cold mechanics of space-travel and the physics of stars and atoms were simply supplementary things. The best s-f was that which best combined the human and the scientific interest.
Then Mr. Harold Chibbett, spook-hunter of "The Probe," thrilled the company with seasonable ghost stories, which had the invaluable quality of being true: they were three of Harold's own experiences. (It was late now, and very dark, and the wind howled more loudly over the roof.) The first concerned the raising of an Elemental, the second an encounter with an evil spirit (the Devil?) one night on Hampstead Heath (H. solemnly exhibited the seat of his trousers, scorched and brimstoned), and the third, adventures in an old cottage haunted by a monk. He passed round an infra-red photo taken in the dark during the latter manifestations, and this showed a curious object apparently being thumped
wall by a black hand with out a body. No one hitherto knew what it was,
but Mr. Passingham recognized it as a vessel of religious significance,
and. H. was highly, excited at this. "Are you sure?" he kept repeating.
"Why, this bears out the story of the monk!" The company broke up soon
after, and dispersed in twos and threes, hurrying down the shadowy
stairs in a not-too-easy state of mind.
LEEDS BRANCH had its own Walpurgis Night on Dec.4th in its clubroom converted into the "Caverns of the Moon." For 3 days the Walpurgis sub-committee had been preparing behind locked doors, and when members arrived on the fatal night they were obliged to cluster timidly in the lounge until the entry, with a blare of a trumpet, of the Grand Lunatic, who blindfolded a dice-chosen victim, and led him into the mystic reaches of the clubroom. Still blindfolded, the victim was subjected to various harrowing experiences, including traveling on a moving incline, shooting through space in a strato-car, hurtling moonwards in a spaceship, and crawling through the lunar craters, half-hypnotised by a blaring roar from electric horns, vacuum cleaner motors, sirens, trumpets, and other cacophony creators. When all the victims had been initiated they were allowed to remove their bandages to find themselves in an eerie cavern bedecked with black, sinister curtains, with ugly shadows cast by flickering candles inside grinning skulls, with ghastly, subdued music sounding through the room. Immediately all lights were extinguished, and. on the screen was projected one of the most creepy of all silent films –"Belphegor."
The few who were not nervous wrecks at the end of this had their morale completely shattered by the main feature film, the UFA "Faust", with Emil Jannings as Mephistophales. After an hour and a quarter of this magnificent but bloodcurdling film, members were at last permitted to totter back into the lounge, where branch business was conducted, and where discussion ensued until the close of the meeting.
(Continued on Page Fourteen)
S. F. A. EXECUTIVE REPORT
Headquarters: 23 Farnley Road, South Norwood, LONDON, S.E.25.
We wish to gratefully acknowledge the many messages of Christmas and New Year greetings received from our ¬members in all parts of the world. As you may all be sure, we heartily reciprocate them and trust that 1939 may be a truly remarkable year for the S.F.A. and its entire membership. HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL.
Correspondence: During the past few weeks an unusually large amount of mail has been arriving into this office. Accordingly, we are a little behind with our replies, to which delay the Christmas Vacation has added. Members and friends may be assured that we shall give them our earliest-possible attention, and all answers can be expected within 14 days.
New Members: We are delighted to welcome the following:-
L.V.Heald (Liverpool); B. Lewis (Preston) - rejoined.
Acknowledgements: We gratefully acknowledge the following:
"Strange Stories" flysheet (Mr. L. Margulies), "The Satellite" (Liverpool SFA); "The Scientifietionaleodensian" (Leeds SFA); "Hollerbochen Comes Back" (Los Angeles SFA); , Catalogue and Price List - Science-Fiction Service - copies available on application to this office; "Madge's Prize" (Los Angeles SFA); "Bulletin" (B.I.S) and "Science-Fiction Newsletter" (R. Wilson, Jr.)
New Letter-Headings: During the past year we been constantly requested by our members to improve the quality of the Members "Letter Heads". With the new printing we have complied with this and brought the quality and style of the new note-paper into line with the Executive Office headings. The prices for this new notepaper are:-
25 sheets for 6d, plus 2d postage
"Novae Terrae" and "New Worlds": As this is to be the last issue of
our good, old-friend, "Novae Terrae", we feel that the opportunity is
good for expressing our sincere appreciation of the sterling work of
its editor, Maurice K. Hanson, and his past and present loyal staff,
notably Dennis Jacques, Ted Carnell, Will Temple, and Ego Clarke. The
magazine has undoubtedly been a mainstay of the S.F.A., as well as one
of its chief attractions, and our feelings at its loss can only be
those of deepest regret.
At this juncture, too, our sincere thanks are again due to Ted Carnell, for agreeing to replace "Novae Terrae" with his new magazine "New Worlds". Maurice Hanson will be one of Ted's Associate Editors, and the first issue will be ready for you in¬ February (for line–up and further details see page 3). We trust that you will enjoy the new publication at least as much as "Novae Terrae" (we say this with all due regards!) and hope that you will agree with the editorial policy, which will be "First Quality Only, and At All Costs!"
Liverpool SFA Branch Report
A meeting was held at H.Q., 15 Houghton Street, on Sunday Dec. 11th. Quite a good attendance welcomed Mr. G. K. Chapman, Executive Secretary of the SFA. The Chairman introduced Mr. as one of the personalities of the s-f world. Mr. Chapman then spoke at length, giving an interesting talk on s-f in general and painting an interesting picture of London SFA personalities. He also contributed a long description of the many new fantasy publications.
A discussion ensued concerning the venue of the next Science-Fiction Convention,
Cont. on P. 23
The British Fan. No.7: WILLIAM F. TEMPLE
by Arthur C. Clarke.
As I write this, the author of "The Smile of the Sphinx," "Lunar Lilliput," etc., etc., etc., is prowling around the room in eccentric circles pushing the carpet sweeper before him. Ever and anon he sends a reproachful glance in my direction, but it produces absolutely no effect. (My conscience is clear: didn't I wipe up the crockery? If you don't believe me, look in the dustbin.) Every time it reaches perihelion the sweeper gives a gargling click and disgorges a pile of dust, tram tickets, gramophone needles and cigarette ends. On the next circuit it picks them up again, and so the pile of cosmic debris travels on through space, engulfing planet after planet, sun after sun — Sorry, wrong story.
The carpet sweeper has left the room now, clucking like a Gieger-Muller counter about to lay an egg, and I can write without fear of an inquisitive nose snooping over my shoulder. So now's the time for a few personalities. Moderately tall, moderately dark, immoderately unhandsome, Bill works in the Stock Exchange, which doesn't suit him one little bit. He was trained for some years to be an engineer but dropped that, and now he doesn't know the difference between a double-jointed, waffle-nosed cam and an eccentrically pivoted bi-phase fluking iron (the ignorant fellow!) The only things he does know something about are films, Douglas Fairbanks (Sen.), H.G.Wells, appendicitis (tummy-ache to you), and rejection slips. He says he's got a Bad temper, but hasn't, and says he doesn't like writing, but does.
When he wants to write he retreats to his room, where he has a writing bureau full of Dictionaries and Thesauruses (Thesauri?). If it's cold, he lights an oil stove, and has to emerge every half hour for a breath of fresh air. This gives him an excuse to stop work, and he generally makes the best of it. Every few weeks he swears solemnly: "Next week I'll start writing in earnest", and when next week comes, he either spends every night at the flicks or else crawls from pub to pub trying to
drown a set of practically unsinkable sorrows. If anyone ever films his
life, they'll call it "The Birth of a Procrastination."
One thing I like about this chap Temple is the clarity of his mind and the way he concentrates his activities into a few narrow fields in order to obtain the maximum efficiency. This is shown very clearly in his library - I'll select a few books at random: "Houdini's Escapes," "The Film Till Now," "Bulldog Drummond," "The British Landscape," "The Appeal of Jazz," "How to Concentrate," Coleridge's Poems, "Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animal," "Autobiography of a Journalist," "Outline of History," "Angel Pavement." Could specialisation go further? It's the same with his 300-odd records: when you find the Adagio from Grieg's Pianoforte Concerto in A Minor nestling beside Judy Garland singing "It Never Rains," you can be sure you have come across a logical, incisive mind that will let no obstacle come between it and its goal.... if only it could decide what its goal was.
Bill doesn't go in for s-f very heavily nowadays. His depleted, file of s-f mags turns into a collection of "Film Weeklies" after a year or two. The only mag of which he has a good collection is TALES OF WONDER. He has 15 copies of No.4…. So he doesn't know a thing about real s-f as epitomized by Repp, Hamilton, Kuttner, and Schachner. Richard Seaton is just a name to him, and he thinks Hawk Carse was a dealer in second-hand Fords.
On the mantelshelf stand two of his proudest possessions: autographed photos of Eleanor Powell and Douglas Fairbanks (Sen.). In the middle, H.G.Wells sits on top of my midget radio, and hops about in a most un-Wellsian manner when the six pips come through. All attempts to make Bill remove these photos (which lower the whole moral tone of our establishment) have so far failed. We admit the necessity for Wells, even if he does look as if that diabetes is coming on again, but Miss Powell and Doug. Fairbanks (Sen.) - I mean to say!
I've mentioned that he's very interested in films; he has a projector
(of sorts) and once ran through some Fairbanks (Sen.) films before we
put a stop to it. One of his six or seven ambitions is to be a film
director, so we may yet see "The Smile of the Sphinx" screened under
the title "Enough to Make a Cat Laugh." He's also very interested in
Astronautics, and as Publicity Director of the British Interplanetary
Society writes screeds to the B.B.C. and anyone else who's likely to
help the good cause.
I had better hurry up and finish this, as I hear him coming back again, rolling the dustbin down the stairs. One thing I've forgotten to tell you about him is his habit of getting up 5 minutes before he is due to leave for work in the morning and his miserable habit of constant pessimism, his excruciating whistle and neurotic...
(Editor's Note: - The above MS, was discovered among the literary effects of the late Arthur C. Clarke, who was found-battered to death with a carpet sweeper in his flat some weeks ago. We publish these last words from his brilliant and versatile pen as an indication of the great loss that has been suffered by the world of literature, art, science, etc., etc., and etc., De mortuis nil nisi bonun…..)
DYNAMIC SCIENCE STORIES, companion to the illustrious MARVEL, belies it to such an extent that I refuse to criticise it, leaving it to your own judgment. Publication date probably February in this country - if at all.
IT'S IN THE LIBRARY
THE DIAMOND QUEEN by Arthur Peeve. Many of you must know Craig Kennedy,
the scientific detective. This book is a collection of 12 stories about
him. Most of them turn on a scientific basis, all are exciting.
INVASION FROM THE AIR by McIlraith & Connolly. A most vivid account of
what we may expect in the next War. The war lasts 11 days, and each
chapter is the happenings of one day in London. Throughout runs the
story of a man and a woman, and that man might be you, so real is the
scene and action of this book.
THE ISLAND OF CAPTAIN SPARROW by S. Fowler Wright. Somewhere in the
South Seas is the island where Captain Sparrow, a buccaneer, established
his HQ. When a shipwrecked man lands there he finds it inhabited by the
last of a race of super-beings, descendants of Captain Sparrow's motley
crew, satyr-like animals, and a girl. A well-written fantasy story.
THE SCARLET PLAGUE by Jack London. A small book, but a big story. Maybe
the theme of a plague wiping out most of Earth's population is nothing
new, but a good writer can vivify almost anything, and London's handling
of this makes it an enthralling story far above the average.
THE SAURUS by Eden Phillpotts (John Murray, 7/6d.) is a new novel about
a being from another planet, possibly the minor planet Hermes, arriving
in a projectile, in the form of an egg. It grows up into an intelligent
sort of iguana, deaf, but with superhuman sight, some thought-reading
power, and great speed in typewriting. It is a thoughtful, not actionful,
story, and the central character sits half the time eating fruit and
talking to his host, a Professor.
THE DIAMOND QUEEN by Arthur Peeve. Many of you must know Craig Kennedy, the scientific detective. This book is a collection of 12 stories about him. Most of them turn on a scientific basis, all are exciting.
INVASION FROM THE AIR by McIlraith & Connolly. A most vivid account of what we may expect in the next War. The war lasts 11 days, and each chapter is the happenings of one day in London. Throughout runs the story of a man and a woman, and that man might be you, so real is the scene and action of this book.
THE ISLAND OF CAPTAIN SPARROW by S. Fowler Wright. Somewhere in the South Seas is the island where Captain Sparrow, a buccaneer, established his HQ. When a shipwrecked man lands there he finds it inhabited by the last of a race of super-beings, descendants of Captain Sparrow's motley crew, satyr-like animals, and a girl. A well-written fantasy story.
THE SCARLET PLAGUE by Jack London. A small book, but a big story. Maybe the theme of a plague wiping out most of Earth's population is nothing new, but a good writer can vivify almost anything, and London's handling of this makes it an enthralling story far above the average.
THE SAURUS by Eden Phillpotts (John Murray, 7/6d.) is a new novel about a being from another planet, possibly the minor planet Hermes, arriving in a projectile, in the form of an egg. It grows up into an intelligent sort of iguana, deaf, but with superhuman sight, some thought-reading power, and great speed in typewriting. It is a thoughtful, not actionful, story, and the central character sits half the time eating fruit and talking to his host, a Professor.
Liverpool SFA Report (Cont. from Page 18):
and the possibility of such an assembly taking place in Liverpool some time in the future. It was agreed that while Liverpool members certainly held the right to stage the next Convention, nevertheless it would probably be better if the 1939 Convention were held in London. Most of the Liverpool members decided there and then to visit the 1939 Convention in London, whenever it may be held.
A reading was then made of Mr. E. L. Gabrielson's paper "Astronomy - A Modern Mythology". Comment on this was varied but enthusiastic, and developed into a discussion on the trend of science-fiction. This might have continued all night and into the early hours of the¬ morning, but for Mr. Chapman's inexplicable haste to catch a train for a hamlet in the south of England.
THE LAST MAN ALIVE by A.S. Neill (Herbert Jenkins, 5/-) is about a
cloud which turns all human beings to soft stone, except a few on very
high mountains. The survivors amuse themselves by making robots. It is
satire written in a simple way…..WEIRD TALES is sold to the News-stand
Fiction Unit (Fiction House) who publish FIGHT STORIES, DETECTIVE BOOK,
etc. It is rumoured that Virgil Finlay will no longer illustrate,
working instead for THRILLING WONDER and STARTLING STORIES….West
Regional broadcast s-f play UPS AND DOWNS, Dec.l5th, about an inventor
who perfects a portable machine for produc¬ing negative gravity on tap.
C.H. Middleton was the narrator….Another issue of FANTASY is projected
in January. Authors Fearn and Harris have already been approached by
Editor Sprigg….Columbia are filming THE LOST ATLANTIS, a fable of the
lost continent. Pre¬historic animals will figure in it....THE HODSALL
WIZARD by Hector
THE LAST MAN ALIVE by A.S. Neill (Herbert Jenkins, 5/-) is about a cloud which turns all human beings to soft stone, except a few on very high mountains. The survivors amuse themselves by making robots. It is satire written in a simple way…..WEIRD TALES is sold to the News-stand Fiction Unit (Fiction House) who publish FIGHT STORIES, DETECTIVE BOOK, etc. It is rumoured that Virgil Finlay will no longer illustrate, working instead for THRILLING WONDER and STARTLING STORIES….West Regional broadcast s-f play UPS AND DOWNS, Dec.l5th, about an inventor who perfects a portable machine for produc¬ing negative gravity on tap. C.H. Middleton was the narrator….Another issue of FANTASY is projected in January. Authors Fearn and Harris have already been approached by Editor Sprigg….Columbia are filming THE LOST ATLANTIS, a fable of the lost continent. Pre¬historic animals will figure in it....THE HODSALL WIZARD by Hector
Wintle (Methuen) is about a boy who gets accurate
dream glimpses of the future.... "Agence Litteraire International"
are preparing publication of an as yet unnamed French s-f mag... Festus
Pragnell and Maurice Hugi are said to be working in collaboration on
some s-f stories….AMAZING's companion is to be called FANTASTIC ADVENTURES....
Wells, in two articles in NEWS¬ CHRONICLE forecasts rather vaguely the
trend of events in 1939. His new novel "The Life and Death of a Dictator"
begins as a serial in REYNOLD'S NEWS, Sun. Jan.8th….Karel Capek, famous
author of "R.U.R." and other s-f. stories, has died of pneumonia…The
14th and final issue of Beck's SCIENCE-FICTION CRITIC has been published,
dated Xmas, 1938…Eric Frank Russell gets letter in PICTURE POST, Dec.3rd
38, praising that journal, and. thereby snaffling a guinea. Andrew Marvell,
author of "Minimum Man," has just corrected proofs of his new novel, a
fantasy about a form of life which breeds in oil and threatens the world's
pet¬rol supply. This author's real name is Davis. Andrew Marvell is a
pseudonym taken from a 16th Century writer....TOMORROW may have to return
to the format of SCIENTIFICTION unless better support is offered....S.
Fowler Wright's ADVENTURE OF WYNDHAM SMITH (Jenkins) concerns a young
medical student transferred to a far-distant age, into the body of Colpeck
4XP, member of the ruling Hundred Council… Curtis Brown's are agenting
J. R. Fearn's novel LITTLE WINTER. He has also finished a 15,000-worder,
CLIMATICA, for Stanhope Sprigg....DYNAMIC SCIENCE STORIES (MARVEL'S
companion) have taken "Leeches from Space" and tentatively accepted two
10, 0000 worders "World Divided" and "Jewels of Lunar" from a famous
British author, which will appear under pseudonyms for technical reasons…
The new STRANGE STORIES has stories by Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman,
O.A.Kline, and Henry Kuttner....
By Dave McIlwain
The explanation of the whole business is, of course, obvious! Wilfred Schnotzzle was a Michelist, and accordingly his one consuming passion in life was a Desire To Improve The World. That is, I think, the basic keynote of Wilfred's strange mania, and was probably the driving, force of his brilliant genius which conceived the "time scanner."
It all began when Wilf happened to pick up a torn and battered novel in a musty old bookshop. He scraped the dirt off the back, and then fainted away. For it was Wells' renowned "Time Machine." It took the Michelist three hours to completely assimilate the fruits of Wells' creative genius, and no sooner had he finished than an idea evolved. For Wilf could see a way to achieve time travel!
He jazzed around the room to the strains of Nat Gonella's troublesome trumpet (he had a gramophone) and slowly gave birth to his cataclysmic idea. A warp! That was it. Something never thought of before! He would create a time warp, and tap the misty future.
Now Wilf was not a lad to waste ergs, and swallowing a Yeast Vite (Advt.) he set to work on his time scanner. An old crystal set formed the nucleus of the contraption, and around this he arrayed a cage of wires, purloined from the piano. The aid of a torch battery was enlisted, and finally the rubber thingummy from the end of a feeding bottle was employed as an insulator for the crystal.
Wilfred gazed at his invention with pride. He understood the function of every little part of the machine, including the rubber thingummy, and he knew just what would happen once he got it to work. He had twisted the plane of transmission of the set through one right-angle, so that it now worked in the fourth dimension instead of ordinary three-dimensional ether. Thus he could tune in, not to Radio Luxembourg, somewhere in space, but to Any moment, somewhere in time.
Well, the invention worked, Wilf heard voices and music which he knew
were not of the present, and in order to test the machine properly he
made up his mind that on the following day, at exactly six o' clock, he
would say "What is good enough for to-day is much too bad for To-morrow."
And tuning in to that exact time which he had planned, he heard his own
voice repeating the above incantation.
As the weeks passed, Wilfred improved upon his scanner, combining with it a television set which the pol¬ice are still trying to trace. And by using this, he was able to bring in faint but clear visions of the future. But Wilf was discontented. Although he knew that his invention was revolutionary, he felt he was not helping along the gospel of Michelism. So he applied his gigantic brain power to the problem, and wondered how best he could Improve the World by means of his time scanner.
The solution came in a flash of sheer blinding brilliance! HE WOULD RULE THE WORLD! That was the answer. He, Wilfred Schnotzzle, would fight them.... he and the time scanner! Money was an essential of the campaign: so he peered into the future, and spotted the winner of next year's Grand National. And when the time came round, Wilfred backed the horse with all his available cash, and won - ten to one! With the money, he built a bigger and better time, scanner, but in it he incorporated a fifth dimensional helix (borrowed from John Russell Fearn) which would make it possible to bring back from the future anything in the focus of the scanner. Since the power needed was much greater, he turned his bicycle upside down, geared the front wheel to the gramophone, and used the current from his Raleigh dynamo. He was actually trembling when the time came for the final try-out. Would it bring back something from the future, or would it utter a hideous squawk and lay an egg?
He tuned in to the future on the scanning disc, and focussed the machine on a batch of magazines he could see in some strange house yet unbuilt. A button clicked…flashing lights…and there they were
on the ebonite platform before him, the stolen magazines. He was mighty pleased
with his find, too, for they included some old Amazing quarterlies which
he had not got.
Wilfred officially, opened his campaign on Monday, April 1st, of the next year. The scanner was now perfected beyond all possibility of breakdown or error, and he set about doing that which he had intended to do. He scanned five years into the future, and focused himself on the television screen. Wheeeeee! Plop! And there was his self-to-be standing before him.
"Have a biscuit," said Wilfred, offering himself a chair. The other him sat down dazedly.
"Where am I?" gasped the Wilfred-yet-to-be.
The first Wilfred introduced himself. "I am as you were five years ago," he explained. "Don't you remember?"
"I can't think. My brain is numb," moaned the other.
Well, Wilfred did not stop at that. He searched into the future once more, and brought back to the present the Wilfred from one second previous to the Wilfred from five years hence. There were now three of them in the room: - the original Wilfred; the one who had been the other a second earlier; and the one who would be the other a second later.
Wilfred repeated the process time and time again, always bringing to the present the Wilf from one second before the most recent Wilf. Slowly but surely a vast army of Wilfreds grew up in that little room. They stretched out into the garden, and spent their time digging a huge tunnel underground in which they could live without arousing suspicion. Gradually the army increased, the army which would one day fight the world for supremacy: the one man army of Wills which would one day force the gospel of Michelism down the throat of humanity.
Years passed by. The army grew and grew, and spread underground. Wilf, in his probing of time, was drawing nearer and nearer to the present in his search for recruits. But he stopped before he
the present. For he perceived that there might be danger in trying to draw
himself from the present into the present. Accordingly, one day, when his
army was a million strong, he downed tools and prepared his men for the fight.
In the great underground cavern he addressed them, the million Wilfred
Schnottzles from varying points in the future.
"Michelists!" he began, amid great applause. "Three years ago I commenced recruiting this gigantic army from time. All you fellows are me as I will be in the future. I conscripted you in order that you, my future selves, might aid me in crusade for Michelism. You fellows represent myself for over two years, the self that I took three years to gather before me like this. We declare war on humanity in the name of Michelism on the fifth anniversary of my first scan, which will take place in a few days. And the great army cheered.
The anniversary dawned at length, and Wilfred's mind flashed back to that little room where, five years ago, he had drawn the first Wilfred from the future. That day would be remembered in the future history of the world, he thought, as he dressed. At length, resplendent and enthusiastic, he set out to lead his troops into battle. But no sooner had he fixed his tie than a sudden agonising oblivion swamped him. The room swirled, a million hot needles pricked at his brain. Slowly, slowly, the mists cleared. He found himself standing on an ebonite slab in a dingy, littered room, facing one who was an exact replica of himself save for a slightly more youthful appearance.
"Have a biscuit," said the other, offering him a chair.
He sat down dazedly. "Where am I?" he asked.
The other introduced himself. "I am as you were five years ago," he explained. "Don't you remember?"
Wilfred's brain spun dizzily. Vague memories seemed to be there, yet just eluding his grasp. "I can't think," he moaned. "My brain is numb."
Blankly he watched his ether self from the past turn towards a maze of machinery on the floor and make certain adjustments. Blankly he watched.... and wondered......