NEW WORLDS - the fanzine #4 (Autumn 1939)CONTENTS:
Also published for the SFA this month:
Though cover-dated August, this issue was dated 'Autumn 1939' inside and was not actually published until late-September. While it was being worked on, Britain declared war on Germany. At a meeting in London in mid-September it was decided to suspend the Association and its publications for the duration and the official statement to that effect appears in the editorial. It was confidently predicted the the SFA would restart after the war, but it never did.
|page 3 (page 2, inside front cover, was blank):|
NEW WORLDSAn official Science Fiction Association magazine.
Volume 1. No 4................................................Autumn 1939
Editor: Ted Carnell...............................Assistant: A. C. Clarke
Illustrations by Harry Turner.
Editorial Address: 17 Burwash Road, Plumstead, London, S.E.18
Bill is almost as inscrutable as The Smile of the Sphinx - which is perhaps why his mutant yarn was entitled. We are pleased to present a yarn by him, tho' not of "thought-variant" style but with sufficient twist to be good entertainment.FAR AWAY in the blue hills something silvery catches the light and flashes. In a minute it flashes again, and you perceive that it is rather nearer now. But still it is comparatiively remote, and whilst we await the approach of this mysterious thing, let us look around us.
We are in City Walls, a township a hundred miles from The Citadel, which is the capital of this country of Arcadopia. And the exact time is three hours after dawn, December 1st, 2037.
Great blocks of flats, built of white stone and metal, are spaced widely and geometrically for as far as we can see. Separating them are pleasaunces; lawns, trees and flowerbeds, fountains and pools-- but no ugly litter boxes, for no Arcadopian would ever dream of making litter. Even the trees only make litter on one day, Autumn Day (September 30th.), when they all shed their leaves simultaneously, a human improvement on the natural process.
The sun is shining brightly from a clear blue sky, as it will continue to do until 13 o'clock. Then, in the lunch hour, the transmitter on ths roof of the Weather Control Building will broadcast a stream of electrified ions into the air. The cooling rays will be turned on. The moisture in the atmosphere will condense on these ions, and presently fall as raindrops. But the shower will cease promptly at 14 o'clock, for then the Arcadopians go into the gardens for their siesta.
Now that swiftly traveling bright thing reaches us, shoots past like a rocket, and is dwindling away again in the distance before we realise what it is - - a streamlined coach of glittering chromium and steel and quartz, flying along an overhead monorail. It is quite a mile away before we fully grasp this. And thus we never realise how near we have been to Greatness....
FALKON THE LEEDER sat at the desk fitted in the narrow bay of
the front window of the coach. (There was no driver: the
whole railway was completely automatic). On the desk before
him was a machine.
If your imagination is capable of picturing a dictaphone and a radio set inextricably mixed up with a coffee grinder, then you have a vague idea of the appearance of the Voxograph. From it a microphone extended on an arm, and Falkon spoke into this slowly, distinctly in his deep rich voice.
"If we peer far back into the past, to the Stone Age, or nearer, perhaps, then it will be apparant...."
A row of tiny keys on the machine began tapping rapidly. On a cylinder of parchment the words strung themselves out in tiny black letters.
"If wee peer fahr bak intoo t pahst, too t Stone Aj, or,neerer perhaps, then it wil b aparant..."
Spelling had modified in Arcidopia, was more phonetic.
Falkon paused. The machine paused. He considered for or a moment, then pressed a button marked "E". A pointer began to click back over the type, and at every click a letter was magically erased. It erased the unfinished sentence and stopped.
Falkon gazed abstractly out at the thin steel thread of the monorail as it came winding towards the window at two hundred miles an hour. His face was serene and impassive, and from an unwrinkled brow the dark hair curled back in smooth waves. Yet the face held more than a suggestion of dignified old age, of an accustomed command. For he had ruled Arcadopia for nigh on seven decades - his ascension was, in fact, only three decades after Armageddon.
At the moment he was rather anxious, but of course he did not show it by his expression. The Arcadopians ruled their emotions by the habit of will, and it was considered quite mad for anyone to let their emotions rule them instead. So Falkon applied the usual psychological remedy, which was a mental spray of pure cold reason. And he saw that his anxiety because he would not get his Anniversary Day Speech ready in time for the Broadcast was groundless. It was normal for him to have difficulty in beginning these speeches. It was also normal for him to get it finished just in time. All this process of thought was done quite subconsciously, and quite subconsciously he banished the silly little fear, and started again.
"On this, my 69th Anniversary Day, I have chosen to speak about a thing which held all mankind in thrall....."
A young man came up behind him - a really young man - not a youthful-looking ancient.
"After you've finished the speech grandad?" he
said enquiringly, displaying some objects in the palm of his
"No, Val, there will be no time. I shan't have finished until we reach the Citadel. Wait until after I've broadcast."
The young man withdrew obediently. Falkon continued with his dictation, and the resstless keys clicked and jumped.
He was writing the last words when the thin spire of Television Tower, followed by the great bulk of The Citadel itself, raised itself above the fiat horizon. He extracted the parchment as the coach slid into Central Station and came smoothly to a standstill at the platform, its twin gyroscopes humming at a sweet low pitch. To make stability certain, automatic claws descended from the underside of the coach and gripped the rail firmly.
Although the Leeder visited The Citadel but rarely, there was no eager crowd waiting to stare at him. For what could be the object of that? The whole populace would soon see him on the television screens, which were third-dimensional properties reproducing the exact appearance of flesh and blood. Nevertheless, the few travellers in the station watched with interest the tall majestic figure, followed by his grandson enter the pneumatic tube ("T Numatik"), where a carlet shot them in twenty seconds to Television Tower.
Here they were received by Seer, the Television Controller, who respectfully conducted the Leader to the broadcasting room and came back to chat with Val, an old friend of his.
"What sort of a speech is it this year?" he asked. "He didn't tell me much about it," admitted the young man, But he did say it would cause something of a stir."
Seer looked out of the window at the tranquil landscape and sighed. There was a faint trace of regretful longing in his eyes - a very faint trace, but it was there. Sometimes I think things could do with a bit of stirring up," he said.
Val smiled. "Do you? I prefer things - settled."
ALONE IN A small curtained room the Leader faced the dull lens that looked like the cold eye of a dead codfish, but which was, indeed very actively picking out every minute detail of his expression, every line and fold of his robe, and transmitting them to be faithfully reproduced on every television screen in the world. And beside the lens a dull black box-microphone was just as busily picking up every inflexion of his voice as he commenced his speech.
"On this, my 69th Anniversary Day, I have chosen to speak about a thing which held all mankind in thrall until Armageddon came to destroy the old structure of civilisation and form the foundation of the new. This
whose shackles we have but comparitively recently thrown off,
is that element called 'Chance'.
"For you people - especially the younger folk - it is hard to grasp the tremendous part Chance played in the history of the world. Millions and millions of years ago our extremest ancestors, the tiny cell-like creatures in the saline seas, drifted entirely at the mercy of Chance. And although since that remote age we have changed form many times, the state of blind bondage to Chance persisted.
"As soon as life developed apperception it became aware of this sword of Damocles hanging over it, this uncertain threat of Chance. And all living things went in fear of its sudden blow. The Men of the Dawn feared the pounce of the sabre-toothed tiger from every thicket and this fear of a hidden and unforseen danger lasted through the generations, and became more pronounced as life became more complex and thus more full of alarming possibilities.
"Imagine life before Armageddon! "Imagine a man starting from his house in the morning in the year 1936. The moment he leaves his door he is the potential prey of lurking Chance. He walks along the road, and at any moment a passing motor-car may get out of control and knock him down. Or a thing called a gasometer across the road might explode, or an aeroplane crash down on him from the sky. Oh no, their machinery was not absolutely foolproof like our own. For instance, they did not insist on our customary 500 per cent margin of safety in all things.
"In fact all sorts of accidents might happen to this poor fellow. A streak of lightning might dart out of the sky and kill him, for the weather then was merely haphazard. They did not understand how it could be controlled. And yet today, not even a volcano can erupt without our permission, nor will our automatic defracting rays allow a solitary meteor from space to fly into our atmesphere.
"But the worst thing that could happen in the old days was an outbreak of one of those series of wars which eventually led up to Armageddon. Then indeed was the whole world given over to Chance, and sudden death came at one not only from the sky, but from the depths of the sea and from under the earth, in all manners. And then famine and pestilence took their toll...
"'Suspense, worry, anxiety -- those are words that are now almost obsolete. But in those days they had a real meaning. They meant disturbing states of mind derived from fear -- fear of Chance, or Mischance, as they called it more accurately.
"Extremely few of these sufferers ever know, as we know, the supreme peace of mind resulting from absolute security. They could not plan their little lives one day ahead with any certainty, for there was always that demon Chance coming in to upset things. If the poor harassed creatures could be tranaported to the present age, they would think it was Paradise.
"Therefore I say to you, never forgot the everlasting
debt you owe to those able and worthy men who spent their
lives fighting to eliminate Chance from mankind's affairs,
and who finally vanquished their pernicious foe entirely, and
left the world a free and safe dwelling-place for humanity."
On this note he ended. Although there was no visible change in the appearance of the glassy television eye, it immediately went blind, and no longer absorbed the lineaments of the Leader. The broadcast was over.
In thousands of cities the Arcadopians took their eyes from the now blank screens and fell to eager discussion with their friends. The Leeder's speaches always roused wide- spread interest, and this had been a particularly novel one.
Chance had entered so very little into their lives, that most people had only the haziest idea of what it was. Like "poverty". it was an unknown quantity.
But now they began to realise the curse from which they had been saved. Deep gratitude towards their saviours began to well up within them.
It was in the Citadel itself that this great gratitude found expression. There an unprecedented thing took place. The people allowed their overwhelming emotion to carry them away. They thronged the wide square on the east side of Television Tower cheering and waving, and demanding to see the Leeder. In a word, they went mad.
"We want the Leeder!" they shouted. "Show Us the Leeder!" The cry swelled and grew, and came roaring up from fifty thousand throats.
Seer came out on a highbalcony and stood looking down at the multitude, tugging thoughtfully at his lower lip. Then he sent for a speech amplifier, set it in position on the balustrade, and addressed the crowd. His magnified voice boomed across the square.
"I am, sure that if the Leader could see this great demonstration of enthusiasm he would be deeply touched. Unforturately, directly after the broadcast he retired to the great conference room to discuss important matters of State with his grandson. He gave me orders that on no account must he be disturbed..."
The crowd gave a cry of disappointment -- and up in the private conference room the Leeder himself echoed it.
"Heavens, Val," he said dismally, "its almost unbelievable."
The pair were on the floor, squatting on cushions borrowed from the Leeder's own great chair at the head of the table around which so many historic conferences had taken place. They were alone. The triple doors were locked and barred. The window faced west, and showed on the horizon a sliver of the distant sea. For the room was set high up on the top of a flying buttress of the 'Tower.
On the strip of polished oak floor between the couple lay a pair of ebony cubes spotted with white dots. The Leeder picked them up and shook them vigorously in his hands, as though he were trying to shake the life out of them. Then he flung them on the floor. Each came to rest with one white dot facing uppermost.
Val could not restrain a burst of laughter, for his
grandfather's face wore a most peculiar expression as he
strove to subdue his disappointment. Then he, in his turn,
picked up the little cubes, shook them, and threw them down
with a flourish.
"Seven," he announced.
He pondered a moment. Then continued: "It is weak and silly of me to dabble with it even in this small way. Yes this foolishness must end. You my keep all you've won, Val, but we must never play with these things again. I have always made it an essential part of the education of Arcadopian youth to have nothing to do with Chance whatever, not to allow it to be an element of any affair. Not by plainly commanding, but by subtle psychological teaching. On you particularly did I try to impress this, for one day you will be the Leeder. And now here I am encouraging you to disavow my teaching!"
Val smiled. "I think the impression was too indelible," he murmered, going over to the table and returning with some sheets of parchment. "Look, I spent all last Monday doing this."
The Leader took the sheets and glanced through them puzzledly. There were no less than six sheets of mathematical hieroglyphics and diagrams. Phrases caught the Leeder's eye such as "right-hand bias",
ARTHUR C. CLARKE
"Ego" Clarke who wrote this epic at 3 a.m. one moonlit morning, offsets "Dictator" Arnold's crushing statements with some lighter remarks anent the trend of modern stf. At least, he's giving you a new line in plots - but they can't be much good, or he'd use them himself!"ALL THE IDEAS in science-fiction have been used up!"
How often we've heard this moan from Editors, authors and fans, any one of whom should know better. Even if it were true, which is the last thing it is, it would signify nothing. How long ago do you think the themes of ordinary, mundane fiction were used up? Somewhere in the late Paleolithic, I should say. Which fact has made exactly no difference to the overwhelming outrush of modern masterpieces, four a shilling in the third tray from the left.
No. The existing material is sufficient to provide an infinite number of stories, each individual and each worth reading. Too much stress is laid on new ideas, on "thought-variants", on "novae". They are all very well in their way - and it's a way that leads to strange, delightful regions of fantasy - but at least as important are characterisation and the ability to treat a commonplace theme in your own individual style. And for this reason, in spite of all his critics, I maintain that if any could equal Weinbaum, none could surpass him.
If, in addition to its purely literary qualities, a story has a novel idea, so much the better. Notwithstanding the pessimists, there are a million million themes that science-fiction has never touched. Even in these days of deepening depression, a few really original plots still lighten our darkness. "The Smile of the Sphinx" was such a one; going a good deal further back we have "The Human Termites," perhaps the best of all its kind before the advent of "Sinister Barrier." As long as science advances, as long as mathematics diecovers incredible worlds where twice two would never dream of equalling four, so new ideas will come tumbling into the mind of anyone who will let his thoughts wander, passport in hand, along the borders of Possibility. There are no Customs regulations; anything you see in your travels in those neighbouring lands you can bring back with you. But in the country of the Impossible there are many wonders too delicate and too fragile to survive transportation.
Nothing in this world is ever really new, yet everything
is in some way different from all that has gone before.
At least once in his life even the dullest of us has found
himself contemplating with amazement and perhaps with fear,
some thought so original and so startling that it seems the
creation of an exterior, infinitely more subtle mind. Such
thoughts pass through the consciousness so swiftly that they
are gone before they can be more than glimpsed, but sometimes
like comets trapped at last by a giant sun, they cannot escape
and from their stubborn material the mind forges a masterpiece
of literature, of philosophy or music. From such fleeting,
fragmentary themes are the Symphonies of Sibelius built --
perhaps, with the Theory of Relativity and the conquest
of space, the greatest achievements of the century before
the year 2000.
Even within the limits set by logic, the artist need not starve for lack of material. We may laugh at Fearn, but we must admire the magnificent, if undisciplined, fertility of his mind. In a less ephemeral field, Stapledon has produced enough themes to keep a generation of science-fiction authors busy. There is no reason why others should not do the same; few of the really fundamental ideas of fantasy have been properly exploited. Who has ever, in any story, dared to show the true meaning of immortaliity, with its cessation of progress and evolution and, above all,its inevitable destruction of Youth? Only Keller, and then more with sympathy than genius. And who has had the courage to point out that, with sufficient scientific powers, reincarnation is possible? What a story that would make!"
All around us, in the commonest things we do, lie endless possibilities. So many things might happen, and don't -- but may some day. How odd it would be if someone to whom you were talking via the phone walked into the room and began a conversation with colleague! Suppose that when you switched off the light last thing at night you found that it had never been on anyway? And what a shook it would be if you woke up to find yourself fast asleep! It would be quite as unsettling as meeting oneself in the street. I have often wondeed, too, what would happen if one adopted the extreme solipsist attitude and decided that nothing existed outside one's mind. An attempt to put such a theory into practise would be extremely interesting. Whether any forces at our command could affect a devoted adherent to this philosophy is doubtful. He could always stop thinking of us, and then we should be in a mess.
At a generous estimate, there have been a dozen fantasy authors with original conceptions. Today I can only think of two, though the pages of UNKNOWN may bring many more to light. The troublle with present day science-fiction, as with a good many other things, is that in striving after the bizarre it misses the obvious. What it needs is not more imagination or even less imagination. It is some imagination.
UNKNOWN - AND THE NEW ESCAPISMby
ROBERT W. LOWNDES
"Doc" Lowndes, of Springdale, Connecticut, USA was recently voted the best writer appearing in amateur magazines. The following article proves by its thoughtfullness that he has well-earned the title "tops".SINCE IT WOULD BE ABSURD to say the least, to attribute the rise of the new escapism and the magazine UNKNOWN, to such surface-reasons as Editor Campbell gives for it (namely that readers of ASTOUNDING liked the bits of fantasy and offtrail stuff published therein from time to time so- well that Street & Smith via Editor Campbell decided to try a new magazine which would devote itself entirely to this type of fiction) it is time that we made an attempt to pry more deeply into the matter. We do not say that the reasons Editor Campbell gives are in themselves false, but rather that are symptoms of some phenomenon considerably more impressive. Certainly it is not to be expected that such hardened publishers as Street & Smith would attempt a new magazine. especially in times such as these, unless they were reasonably sure that the psychological factors of the moment (the temperament of the projected reading public) were such as to make the attempt a reasonably good gamble. Thus, the first question. we have to ask is: is there a sound reason for the assumption that a great number of people particularly desire escape litarature at present?
To ask this question is to answer it: there is a very definite reason for such an assumption. Only one utterly oblivious to what is happening in the world today could possibly think otherwise. We see today the peoples of 5/6ths of the world enmeshed in the toils of greater fear and despair than ever before has been known in man's recorded history. We see untold millions crushed beneath the burden of an accumulated economic disaster heretofore unequaled, For the past ten years we have seen the contradictions of the existing economic order in 5/6ths of the world operate to bring about the ruin and impoverishment of hundreds of thousands who, heretofore, had ridden safely through periods of economic depression. We see not the threat but the certainty of war loom more hideously day by day in an age when the myriads of mankind desire peace with a fervance heretofore unknown. And we see the maniacal brutality of the last desperate breaths of a disintegrating world-eccnomic order engulf constantly more peoples while those who would halt it are apparently helpless. And finally, we find
of such peoples who are as yet free from this last horror,
cowering, capitulcating, deserting, and often outrightly
betraying and collaborating with the instruments of that whose
name we know so well. There can be no other answer to our
question: yes, there is a very sound reason for the assumption
that, today, a great number of people particularly desire
However, there are, and always have been, innumerable forms of escape fiction, under which heading most, if not all, of the pulp-magazines fall. We are interested in that type known as magazine science-fiction: what relation is there between the new escapism of UNKNOWN and the escapism of magazine science-fiction?
Before we can answer this. however, we must ask and answer (1) To what degree is magazine science-fiction escapist? (2) Has the measure of escapism in magazine science-fiction increased in the past year, and, if so, why? (3) What, precisely, is the escapism of UNKNOWN?
To answer the first question we can say that magazine stf is escapist to the degree in which basic realities are ignored or evaded therein. Science-fiction is primarily prophetic or explorative fiction based in scientific realities. In order to prophesy or speculate upon the possible future development of any particular phase of scientific endeavour, with any degree of scientific relevancy, it is necessary to know approximately where that particular phase of scientific development is now, in relation to the situation of the world. As I have stated before (and others far more competent than myself have insisted) the world of scientific endeavour does not exist and move in some idyllic vacuum, totally severed from the sordid realities of "impure" daily life, and untouched or uninfluenced by it. Now, the basic realities of scientific endeavour are this: except for a few exceptions where "charitable" and "cultural" individuals can afford, to a greater or lesser extent, to be "benevolent", scientific endeavour is strictly limited to such fields of discovery and creation as will bring profit to those who have the biggest shares in the profitable aspects of the existing economic order. Many discoveries and creations have been made and are being made which are or can be of inestimable benefit to mankind, as a whole, but, because they either did not present opportunities of making large profits, or tended to cut down or destroy profits in some existing setup, these discoveries and creations, have been and are suppressed, concealed, or destroyed outright. No particular individuals can be blamed for this, inasmuch as they were following the rigid dictates of the existing economic order. The welfare of mankind, as has repeatedly been shown, is not only irrelevant, but is often antagonistic to the
present economic system.
Therefore, we cannot know where any particular branch
of scientific endeavour actually is today (and the period of
crisis has aggravated the situation immeasurably --- so much
so that in many countries all scientific endeavour and
discovery, except that pertaining to war, has been ruthlessly
obliterated), or what scientific discoveries actually have
Moreover, those in control of the existing economic system (and those who rule economic systems rule the world, all governments being no more than instruments) will not permit frank analysis of the situation (and concomitantly hints, or outright explanations, as to how it can be overcome) to be circulated among the great masses of the people, -- at least, not in the simple and outright forms of popular magazines. The entire situation (and there is no need. to go into exhaustive detail here) is extremely complex, but, it all boils down to these simple facts. (1) Publishers of science- fiction magazines run these in order to make a profit. (2) If they go into frank economic explanations (and no realistic story can be written today -- particularly a scientific story -- which does not consider the economic situation in either a direct or indirect fashion) they will lose readers and consequently lose profits. (3) If they continue, in spite of all, they are liable to suppression or prosecution through any of the numerous instruments the economic rulers possess for just such purposes.
Thus, we see that realities must be ignored or evaded to a very large degree by the writer of scientific-fiction for popular magazines if he or she hopes to sell his or her stories. And, consequently, magazine science-fiction is, to a very large extent, escape-fiction.
Was the measure of escapism increased during the past year? No one acquainted with magazine stf for the year of 1938, and equipped to compare it, rigourously, with the stf of previous years can say that it has not.
What, now, precisely, is the escapism of UNKNOWN? We have as guide, in answering this question, the editorial policies of the magazine, as outlined in the various writer's magazines, and the evidence of the first issues of the magazine itself. The accent is on entertainment, and providing it is well-written, and not obscene, anything goes. It is stream- lined fairy tales for adults. Scientific explanations of how and why any particular bit of magic works is not required - or desired. The editor is not interested as to how and why you turn into a shoggoth (for example) upon the stroke of 7.45 every other Wednesday evening - 6.45 Daylight Saving Time, etc -- (although fearful curses, weird chants, and streamlined mythological data might be all right) but if you can give him a well-written and. entertaining story as to what happens then, great will be your reward (according to the price-scale
on mss., of course. A great many of my writing
friends would gag at that term 'great" without this bit
Now we come to the question: what relation is there between the new escapism, typified by UNKNOWN, and the escapism of magazine science-fiction?
Editor Campbell thinks there is a very large relation, as he has made particular efforts to "sell" the new magazine to his fans. At first thought, this would appear to be quite correct, inasmuch as magazine "science-fiction" is almost entirely escapist "science-fantasy". But there is another, offsetting factor: the tendency of the fan to think that he or she is a devotee of true "science-fiction' and is a person of considerable scientific appreciation -- one who looks to the future for the fulfillment of stf dreams -- one "star begotten". This tendency has been exploited to the limit by the editors and publishers of magazine "science-fiction", and it is only recently that certain sectors of fandom have begun to realise that the stuff they've been getting is bootleg and mostly counterfeit. Still, for most of fandom, the illusion persists. And fans under this illusion are likely to scoff and turn up their noses at the streamlined fairy- taleing of UNKNOWN, as a matter of principle. It is true, they probably like the stuff, really. I find Editor Campbell's statements to the effect that while every bit of fantasy that he put into ASTOUNDING was liked, fans wrote in requesting that publication of such stories in that magazine cease particularly revealing.
Fans, who have gone for years under illusions fostered and catered to by editors and publishers, are uneasy when they find that they really like UNKNOWN's stuff. For a long time, WEIRD TALES was much the same to them, but that was a different setup, which did not tend to shake the foundations of their concepts of magazine science-fiction and of themselves as stf fans as does UNKNOWN. The appearance and success of this new magazine (and I believe that, as long as its ever-increasing circle of consumers are able to purchase copies it will succeed), will do much to bring many fans. to their senses and to a subsequent facing of reality. What personal explosions and tragedies may result when certain types of fans are brought to unhappy realization, is not particularly pleasant to conjecture. That some will seek and find permanent escape in suicide is unquestionable. To a certain extent, the publishers and editors will have been responsible, but, they too, are victims of the present economic order.
Thus we have UNKNOWN, a pleasant little thing, but dynamite for certain people. For many it will afford entertaining diversion -- a diversion which, as a moment when only by full attention to realities can the peoples of the world avert the doom facing them, is particularly dangerous.
Continuing the "Inscrutable" Series
In view of the fact that the pages of many fan mags become the battleground of individuals, we are allowing each contributor to this series one chance only of expressing his opinion.HAVING BEEN specifically accused in Mr. Moskowitz's article of being a leading light in British fandom - such as there is - it is incumbent upon me to reply to his charges in such a manner as I am capable of. Sam has written quite an intriguing article in his usual rather provacative style and I will attempt to deal with his words and their implications as they appear to me.
Like most of his others, this article contains much that is true, some exaggeration and a certain amount of misconception, produced from very insecure and slender grounds. There is a prevalent attitude of Americans, which naturally includes the fan microcosm, to either regard everything British with an immense amount of awe, or alternatively to believe that this island can produce nothing good. We must deplore both these attitudes for even the British are quite human and need gentle criticism, understanding and perhaps sympathy. Regarding science-fiction however, Britain has its own ideas and conditions.
Because the American fantasy devotee is nurtured almost solely on magazine fiction, his English prototype need not be so unfortunate The poor stf-starved Britishers are largely a figment of the imagination; for in this country, fantasy in book form has been poured out in a prolific stream since the beginning of the century. As witness Ralph Strauss in the SUNDAY TIMES only a few weeks ago reviewing another fantasy work and stating over 1000 of such books could easily be collected (presumably by a millionaire). And the British fan too, differs. He is largely inarticulate, in his early twenties; not vociferous in the mid-teens as so many US fans appear to be. Nor does he regard with the requisite awe and reverence the few mimeo'd and hektagrahed sheets insecurely stapled together and doing duty as an amateur magazine -- a fact of which we who try to sell him such things are by now well aware. To the best of my belief only some four british fans make any attempt at all to collect fan magazines.
Yet many Britishers like and admire American fantasy and American
fans. Personally, I have always had excellent relations with our
American cousins and sincerely hope
that this happy state will continue. But that British fans
laud TALES OF WONDER and hoot at its American contemporaries,
I just cannot believe, in fact the opposite is more nearly
true -- ask Granpop Gillings that.
How many British writers write for US magazines and are apparently well-liked over there? Off-hand, Fearn, Temple, Beynon, Ayre, Cross, Pragnell. Then why should not TOW feature American writers?
Regarding the apparently sore point of the fan mags I must point out that the American efforts came first, and after a brief golden age, rapidly deteriorated to a horde of fourth-rate material. This was the time when most English fans came into contact with them, and the soreness does linger! Moreover quite an amount of the common run of US fan-mag material is of scant interest to us. We don't want to read the interminable reviews of magazines we won't see for months possibly, nor study the petty bickerings of highly-strung adolescents. But the doldrums have been passed and that the present crop of amateur productions is very fine is both obvious and must be admitted. Of the seven examples Moskowitz gives, I have adequate personal knowledge of four, and must accord them my deep reveration. The glorious pot-pourri of APA productions that I receive each quarter deserve many compliments too. But so far in England we have been spared the many sheets of fourth-rate filth which did so much to drag the fair name of American fan-mags into the dust.
This string of reactions is merely a somewhat hasty answer to Sam Moskowitz's incitement of British fans. I hope that I have trodden on nobody's corns, and make no claim to speak for others. Perhaps I will hear what Americans say to my arguments. I sincerely hope so.
FAPA - Fantasy Amateur Press Association. A 50 member club, whose members each contribute material or fan mags to a common pool. Mailed quarterly to members only.
DONALD A. WOLLHEIM
Since Mr. Moskowitz has designated himself as spokesman for all
American fandom in his article, I think it wise to put in a
word to the effect that his opinions
are those of his own and as far as my own
experience is concerned
DONALD A. WOLLHEIM
Since Mr. Moskowitz has designated himself as spokesman for all American fandom in his article, I think it wise to put in a word to the effect that his opinions are those of his own and as far as my own experience is concerned
those of any large percentage of US fans.
When he speaks arbitrarily of what the
"American fan" thinks of British fans, fan
magazines or professional magazines, the
"American fan" referred to is just Moskowitz
- maybe a few correspondents of his,
that's all. For the sake of those Britons
not familiar with the gentleman - his assertions
of memories of "years ago" - must be winked at.
Moskie became a fan way back in 1937.
I haven't noticed any feeling here that Britons are being hypocritical in praising their own publications over US ones. After all. there is a difference in the traditions and customs and outlooks of both countries and why should not a British magazine be more accurately tuned to the taste of a Briton than an American one?
It may be of some interest that this particular American fan, the writer, has come to the opinion that TALES OF WONDER today is superior to any US professional magazine as a purveyor of science-fiction. Many others rank it high. Moskowltz finds it hypocritical that the magazine should be filled with American reprints of what he describes as "ordinary quality." Despite the point that the stories therein are for the most part above ordinary quality, being those that have borne the brunt of time and managed to stand out. I have not found any old-time fan who was in the least put out by seeing again these tales. The acclaim given to the reprint corner in STARTLING by old fans proves that no antagonism rests there. As for quality, compared with the formula-hack garbage being purveyed by most US magazines today, ToW is intellectually refreshing, being at all times readable, more than some of the other pulps can claim.
Perhaps also Moskowitz should not "forget" that during its first two years, the pioneer AMAZING STORIES had to lean heavily on the strong British arm of H. G. Wells, whose yarns, reprinted, helped sell the magazine to the American populace and serve as inspiration and model for future stf writers.
It seem that Moskowitz is peeved because some British fans regard some of their native fan magazines as being on a higher level than US ones. In some respects he has a point there. That is to say those British fan magazines published by your local Americophiles, which set out to be deliberate imitations of the US type, will naturally never get to be more than imitations. However, those of your publications put out by Britons to serve Britons in the British manner sometimes succeed in raising themselves to a point of maturity which is incomprehensible to Moskowitz and hence impossible to enjoy. Again my personal opinion (and those of a great many fans here), is
that NOVAE TERRAE was the finest
fan magazine of the past three years, and that TOMORROW
in its printed issues was likewise definitely superior to any
contemporary (save NT). Moskowitz likes FUTURIAN and THE
SATELLITE because the former is a "Cosmic Publication" (!)
and the latter is very funny about the Michelists. If Burke
chose to substitute SM for DAW some day, we would hear a
different tune from Newark.
Moskowitz brings up the point of the small number of British subscribers to US fan stuff as compared with the higher number of American subs for your stuff. Mr. Burke passes this off apologetically as due to miserliness and laziness. Rather than cast aspersions on his own people, would it not have been more honorable of Mr. Burke to significantly point a finger at the different. standards of living in the two nations and consequent greater care with which the Briton must watch his spending? Americans may still have money to throw away on anything, but the Briton'must think twice and even thrice before pouring his money down the drain.
One comment in closing, this particular American wishes that the SFA would keep its eyes peeled for those Americophiles among it, and keep swatting them every time they show up. When Americans buy a British fan magazine, it is reasonable to assume they expect to receive a British magazine and not a half-breed imitation of the sillier type of American stuff.
SO WHAT DEPARTMENT
THIS QUESTION of fans resembling the darker side of blotting paper is very reminiscent of a story I heard once down in Aberdeen. In fact, one might say that everybody connected with the trade is in some way connected with it, and, as I have pointed out time and time again, it matters a decided amount whether we accept these propositions or whether we turn our back on the whole affair as if it were a viper in our bosom. For example, one hears an enormous amount today about the calorific value of blotting-paper; does it not seem, if only in the slightest degree, of enormous value to we fans, living as we do some of us, under the stress and hurly-burly of civilisation yesterday? To me, this is so without question, but no doubt there will be many people to question this statement, and I am quite prepared to admit that they will, but a general census would without a doubt, as any census will show, indicate this general tendency to regard stf as the remnants of chewed-up egg shells. It might sharpen my point if I mentioned here that blotting-paper is now the same price as it always was, but looks like keeping at the same price, which, when one sums up, throws at least some sort of glaring light upon the faults and inadequacies of NEW WORLDS and the price of eggs today.
Jones, running his hand through his unruly hair, pushed his chair back and thrust his hands deep in his trouser pockets. No, he had not miscounted; there were 99 of them. 99 rejection slips! Such was his total score to date, and he wondered how many more he would amass. The thought of ever desisting before had never come to him; it was only the magic, figure "99" that gave it birth.
"One more chance," he muttered to himself, "and then I have finished."
He glanced through the slips again. One or two of them were different from the others, and these he put in a little pile of their own. After he had finished sorting them, he looked at these again.
"Incorrect science in each case," he groaned.
For a while he was content to stare at them in fascinated silence, then he bundled the lot into a drawer, jumped up, and started the gramophone. Almost immediately the strains of "The Ride of the Valkyries" rang through the room.
It was a while before the music found an answering echo in the rattle of the typewriter keys. By the time he had really got going the record had ended. He re-started the record and returned to his desk. This time there was no hesitation. It is possible that the speed at which he typed exceeded the wildness of the music . He did not rise when the record ended. But presently the harsh grating of the needle near the centre of the record slackened, to die at last in sullen silence. And still Jones, who used the name "Zinopski" in an attempt to persuade editors that
he was a foreigner,
also, it must be admitted, because he believed such a name
would just have to be famous someday, kept at the typewriter
He had covered about six sheets before he come to a sudden
stop, remaining with his fingers poised over the keyboard.
As if in a trance, he let his hands fall to his side.
"This," he murmered, "this is perfect science!" He paused, than continued. "This is correct science; therefore the thing could be done. Can be done, I should say." He ruminated a few moments longer. "Now why should I pass this idea on in a story? Why not do the thing myself ?"
SO IT CAME ABOUT that Zinopski became a man with an obsession. His role of author fell from him, revealing him as a scientist, new discovered; born of chance, or, perhaps due entirely to the wildness of Wagner's music. Whenever he came up against a difficulty, that music would ring through the room, and almost surely it would bring him his inspiration, and his creation would steadily assume form beneath his fingers.
The hours he spent during the day, at his orthodox occupation, were hours of torment to him. Yet were those hours numbered. For there came a day when the firm dispensed with his services. His work had begun to suffer, and in the competition of today there is little room for men who dream at their work. And still the machine grew beneath his ever-active fingers. He was able now to devote all his time to it. Each week he went to draw something from his diminishing savings in the bank. There came a day when his wife left him. And still the machine grew. By now he worked at it eighteen hours a day. He grew lean and cadaverous. The rent was paid only when his landlord threatened eviction.
At length there came a day when his creation was finished. For the last time he checked every detail of it, and for the last time "The Ride of the Valkyries" tried to make itself heard, ravaged as it was by constant re-playings. He was satisfied.
The thing measured perhaps ten feet long, six wide, and seven high. To the layman, it was a thing that could not be understood. There were tubes ranging in size like the pipes of an organ; there were countless steel bars. But inside the thing itself was a space large enough to accomodate seven or eight men. Definitely he was satisfied.
Ho crossed to his desk and inserted a sheet of paper in his dusty typewriter. The first words he wrote spelled out the title of the story he was going'to write: "THE MAN WHO NEVER CAME BACK". For thirty-six hours he pounded at the typewriter, pausing only when absolutely necessary. At the end of that time he had completed a fairly large manuscript. He read it over once, but he did not re-type it. He was satisfied with the story. The next thing was to send it off, which he did by the next mail. For the next two days he was content to sit and stare at the
machine. Then the story came back. The
science was "incorrect," and he received his hundredth rejection
slip. There was a piece of paper pinned to the wall over his desk.
It bore the names of sevaral magazines. He smiled as he drew a
line through the first on the list.
Three days later the hundredth-and-first rejection slip came. It was followed by the hundredth-and-second, the hundredth-and-third; the hundredth-and-fourth. There came a day when there were no more names left to cross off. Every editor had refused his story, and every editor told him that his story was incorrect.
The day he received the last rejection slip he drafted out a letter. He made six copies and sent them to the editors who had refused his story. It was not a long letter, but it was to the point, and he would have guaranteed that it would serve the purpose of exciting the curiosity of the editors to such an extent that they would come to the meeting he had asked them to attend.
There was a smile of triumph on his face as each and every one of them faced him in the narrow confines of his room, filled already as it was by the bulk of his machine. They had gazed on it with curiosity and their guesses as to what it was had caused him to chuckle frequently.
"Gentleman," he began, "I have here a machine that is unique, If you will all kindly step inside and examine it from within you will soon find out its purpose. I know you are burning with curiosity, and this is the best way in which I can explain."
The first one he motioned to was rather hesitant about entering the thing, but he did not want to show fear before the others, so he made his way inside the narrow cave-like opening which the maker provided. The others followed him. Zinopski stared through the little opening at them as they examined their surroundings.
"Well, gentleman, are you any nearer guessing what the purpose of this thing is? No? I thought not. An atom-splitter, did someone say? Gentlemen, your science is incorrect... You remember the story I recently sent you... 'The Man'Who Never Came Back'? Of course you do. Well, I described this machine as the machine in which he went on his long journey through Time -- a machine that can never come back. When I place my hand on this switch the machine will bear you into the illimitable future. I cannot imagine when you will stop. Don't try to rush out, gentlemen, I wanted to continue this conversation... Well, then, if you must...."
Before any of the unfortunate men could get out of the machine he had pressed the switch. For a moment it seemed that nothing was going to happen. And than there was a swishing noise, the machine seemed to dim -- and then there was nothing. Zinopski burst into a roar of laughter.
"Incorrect science!" he cried, hysterically, clinging to the switch.
Which explains the disappearence of several editors during the summer of 1953.
This "epic" was reproduced from the July 1938 issue of IMAGINATION, that great little magazine issued by the Los Angeles fellows. Ray Bradbury would have us believe that it is pronounced "Loose Angeles."DEAR STUDENTS OF SCIENCE: I have been reading a book by a fellow named Darwin called "The Organ of the Spices." I find that a planet is a body of earth surrounded by sky. Interesting? (Sound of shot).
Mr. Darwin wrote: the bones of the head are frontal, backal, sidal, topal and bottomal. We also have anterior, posterior, bacteria, and cafeteria. A human passes through all the life stages from infancy to adultery. Interesting? Sit down and stop reaching for your guns - I mean, ray pistols.
Did you know that mushrooms grew in damp places and therefore look like umbrellas? Did you know that the three parts of a grasshopper are the head, abdomen, and borax?
Gravity was discovered by Isaac Newton. It is chiefly noticeable in the autumn when the apples are falling off the tress. Before Newton made this discovery it is believed that there was no fall at all -- but the winters were long.
Egad! What discoveries I have made! List of my list of listless things. To remove air from a flask, fill the flask with water, tip the water out, and put the cork in quick. Water is composed of two gins--oxygin and hydrogin. Oxygin is pure gin, hydrogin is gin and water.
The tides are the result of a fight between Newton's gravity (see above) and that of the moon. All water finds the moon very attractive, because there is no water there and nature abhors such a vacuum. Gravitation at the earth keeps the water from rising all the way to the moon. If gravitation ever failed in this job, the man in the moon would become a water boy. I forget where the sun joins in the fight.
Three stages of water are high-water, low-watar and break-water. Nitrogen is not found in Ireland because it is never found in a free state (ouch!) When you breathe you inspire. When you do not breathe, you expire. A circle is a round line with no kinks in it, joined up so as not to show where it began - it sort of meets its other end without ending, if you know what I mean. A polygon with seven sides is known as a hooligan. It is also a dead parrot.
Now that we have cleared that up nicely and you have all turned over in bed to get a match with which to conflagrate this page (but be careful not to burn the other side), I should like to explain a little about the peoples of the world. Did you knew that the Eskimos are God's frozen people, or that they wear es-kimonos? The
Esquimeaux hardly have any
wives at all. Can you blame the wives? After all, the nights
are six months long, and (censored)! Phew!
An Indian reservation consists of a mile of land for every five square Indians. Out west, the only signs of life are a few stunted corpses. The big city Indians in New York make their own reservations - at night clubs. Incidentally, night clubs were originated by the Indians, and were first kept on hand to quiet the cabooses in the wee sma' hours of the morning.
Vesuvius is a volcano and if you climb to the top you will see the creator smoking. Fiery God, eh?
And now that I've run out of Darwin (did I start with him?) I think I'll try a little poem.
SOMETHING FOR YOU TO DO
MOST OF YOU will have seen the PENGUIN SPECIAL describing Mass Observation, or heard of the work of the Institute of Public Opinion, who have so spectacularly forecast the results of elections in USA. The method they use to discover the opinion of a community, in place of holding a complete and expensive ballot, is to question a small group (divided into age-groups, occupation-groups, etc), in exactly the same ratio as the main community, using known statistics. In this way, very accurate and valuable results have been obtained.
It was suggested recently that the SFA should carry out such a survey of the stf field. The value to editors and others in forecasting trends, reactions to change of policy, etc. will be obvious, and equally so the resultiing increase in the prestige of the SFA.
The preliminary task is the gathering of statistics that are not so easily available to us as to the IPO. That is where you come in. As part of the initial survey I want every one who reads this to fill in the enclosed form and mail in an unsealed envelope bearing a halfpenny stamp to:
R. G. MEDHURST, 126 FINBOROUGH ROAD, LONDON S.W. 10.
Here is your chance to do something for the SFA, with more interesting work to follow later on, when we have got over the preliminaries; not only to help the SFA, but ultimately to do a big service for stf. If there is too little response to this appeal it may be necessary to drop the whole scheme, so rally round, fellows!
R. G. MEDHURST
Don't be misled by the title. RG Medhurst, a newcomer to London fandom, presents a neat survey of the rise and fall of stf during past thirteen years, and gives yet a further angle to those offered by Arnold and Clarke. Think it over and see if he isn't rightTHE OLD ESTABLISHED FANS are putting all their spare energy nowadays, into setting up a clamour, both singly and in groups, against this "degeneration" of the stf mags. I hope to show that this "degeneration" is, in fact, a myth; that the undeniable change we have seen in the last year or so is, after allowing for the influence of an unprecedented competition, rather a reversion to type.
Suppose, as an example, we examine the checkered history of Gernsback's second effort SCIENCE WONDER STORIES, afterwards WONDER STORIES and then THRILLING WONDER STORIES. The very names suggest this "degeneration" to orthodox fans. But "Science" in a title is no reliable guide to the contents of a magazine, as we have seen in the last few months.
Consider Vol.1. No.1. of SCIENCE WONDER. Where are these classics we hear so much about? The cover story, "Warriors of Space," is juvenile blood-and-thunder that TWS would be almost ashamed to publish. As for "spicy" stf, what has MARVEL to offer to beat `"The Marble Virgin"? Actually, this latter experiment was not well received, but throughout its career SWS featured largely stf of the SCOOPS type, tales such as the "Onslaught from Venus" - (cover story of No.4) which had, it is true, a certain freshness at the time, but is almost unreadable now. Certainly there were occasional noteworthy efforts, the more outstanding because of their rarity, such as Keller's "Human Termites," though these, judging by the readers letters, were not always well received.
In the middle of 1930, WONDER STORIES appeared, by fusion with SCIENCE WONDER and AIR WONDER, with, at first, no apparent improvement in standard of stories. But improvement did come gradually. After the 1931 relapse into the smaller size, the next large-size period, 1932-33, gave us one of the best consistently good series of material of the whole of the thirteen years of magazine stf. Not merely with a few outstanding tales of "The Time Stream" variety, but good workmanship in the general run of the stories.
To take an example, even Hamilton, usually somewhat of a mechanical writer, managed in the February '32 issue to turn out a thoroughly interesting, and above all, human effort - "A Conquest of Two Worlds." But nothing seemed able to hold the magazine together. Gernsback tried a number of desperate expedients; Nov. '32 and four subsequent issues were 15 cent affairs bound together with two staples, in double sheets, similar to the RADIO TIMES. In Nov.'33 the small size was reintroduced, and thereafter, especially towards the end, the genuine effort to give readable stf petered out into a scurry after spurious originality.
"Is it now?" was the cry, rather than "Is it good?"
We all know how the magazine collapsed with a Heath Robinson
bang on April '36. But then a surprising thing happened. In
August of that year a rather pulpish company brought out a
drastically juvenile THRILLING WONDER. Ha! An inexperienced
publisher's slip, we thought. But to the bewilderment
of the fans, this effort prospered. We could not squash it, as we
squashed SCOOPS, by ignoring it. And what is worse, the revolution
has spread with contagious rapidity.
I have chosen WONDER to illustrate my thesis chiefly because it was less rigid fluctuating more in the attempt to to meet public demand than the aristocrat AMAZING in the days of its Sloane aloofment. But a similar trend can be detected there. The peak period comes in the middle years, and if any doubter takes the trouble to compare the first five volumes or so with the Palmer issues, he will find that, the Golden Age, the Classic Period, is very much of a myth. For example, is the Sept.'28 "Ambassador from Mars" any more adult than the June '37 "Summons from Mars"? And, may I whisper it, the famous "Skylark" was more than a little Wild West in its hair-breadth adventures and its black-and-white delineation of character. In spite of Mr. Tremaine's cheerful ballyhoo, much the same rise, bewilderment and decline can be traced in ASTOUNDING.
Now what is the secret of all this? Is some malign extra-terrestrial influence at work? By no means. A little simple arithmetic may throw some light upon the mystery.
Suppose (and I think this quite fair estimate) the average age of the readers of SWS No.1 was 14 years. Bright youngsters, no doubt, but necessarily unable to appreciate finer literary shades. By 1932 they would be 17 years, beginning, in fact, to demand more from their fiction than mere purple death rays. Unless the standard of stf were pushed up, they would begin to fall away. In normal times this would be of no great moment, but it so happened that a thing called Depression was stalking the land. New readers would not come in as fast as the old ones dropped out. So, in an effort to keep those older fans the standard of stf was raised. But there are no limits. By 1936 these first fans would be 21. And now I am going to commit a heresy.
Some of us, with peculiarly constituted minds and tough digestions continue to gluttonise on stf to a ripe old age, but the awkward fact must be faced that stf is not literature! Consider: the function of literature is to hold up mirror to human behaviour. People, not things, are the subject of permanent literature, permanent because the human mind persists and things do not. Shakespeare has survived because he was content to study humanity. Shaw will be lost because he aspires to study necessarily contemporary things, morals and politics and othaer institutions. And so with stf.
The best 17th century stf, Godwin's much admired "Man in the Moon" for example, is not obtainable outside the British Museum simply because the science it was built on was only of a temporary, makeshift nature. As for the
attempts to "humanise" stf, they are doomed in advance, for the
very good reason that our greatest masters of literature have
had to give of their best to paint human nature even in its
everyday surroundings. How than can a pulp writer hope to
picture its reactions in situations unprecedented and
So we have the confused '36 period, in which Gernsback and others were trying to do the impossible by satisfying a public that had begun to want more than could be given. But then a bright idea occurred to someone. The Depression was over; why not create a new public out of the younger generation that had arisen since the start of stf? Thus the reversion to the '28ish juvenile type took place. And the result, especially in the case of the rejuvenated AMAZING, has been staggeringly successful. Circulation has reached unheard of figures. And what type of reader makes up this circulation? Well, how many disgruntled fans, shivering in this raw wind of New Stf, have perused the Discussions of AMAZING and blasphemed about the "youngsters who've crowded the oldtimers out"?
This is not quite all the story. MARVEL, as we all know, has tried to reach a different public altogether, while SCIENCE FICTION, so far as one can judge from the reports, seems to be making an ill-advised attempt to bring back the unstable '32-33 periosd. ASTOUNDING in spite of its aristocratic airs, is falling into line with its rivals. The two tentative off-shoots in Britain seem, at the moment, to be too delicate to stand up to close criticism.
Before I close, let us have one point quite clear. There is a faint hope in the more highbrow stf circles that "our" literature can be dragged back by persistent, propaganda to the good old "classic" days. Will I be too brutal if I tell them, so far, at any rate, as America is concerned, to forget it? MARVEL may be bullied into making the blunder of its short life by running the Taine serial, but do not expect that "triumph" to be repeated with the older-established magazines. Editor Palmer and his compatriots are no fools.
Allow me to quote from the editorial reply to a letter by Mr. Miske in the February 1939 AMAZING. Palmer is discussing ore of the many (twelve or so) requests for Weinbaum's "New Adam" that have been printed. He says, with, commendable frankness, "In short, Weinbaum wrote a serious novel which constitutes quite adult reading and requires an adult insight and understanding of psychology and human behaviourism. Quite definitely, this is nowhere near 'pulp newsstand' fiction. It is adult fare... In the majority, you (the readers) want action and thrills."
The italics are mine Earliar, he had,defined "action and thrills" as "slam-bang action with ray guns, manly heroes rescuing fair damsels from the ferocious people of Venus." He goes on to say "AMAZING is not read only by the two or three hundred in this category (that is, the old-timers). The magazine is successful because of those other thousands of readers who greatly outweigh the few... AMAZING has earned the reputation of giving the readers what they want."
ONE HOUR WITH A PSYCHIATRISTby
Dave is one of the leading fans oŁ the Liverpool group and has done much towards making SATELLITE a success. We welcome this satirical article from him, but couldn't vouch for his findings.HE WAS SHORT, fat, unbelievably ugly, and completely bald. He sat behind a battered desk in an equally battered room, and in one corner I could vaguely see a small table, littered with instruments and metallic devices that glittered ominously.
"Are you Horace K. Manson, the eminent psychiatrist?" I asked nervously.
He nodded - and four double chins flickered into being, vanishing instantly as he did so.
"Well doctor" I explained, "I have a disease - a mental disease - a sort of obsession, you see..."
"Wait!" he interupted, speaking in an incredibly deep voice. "Define the word 'obsession'."
"Well, it's a - an - er - a sort of - kind of..."
"Exactly," he boomed. "You don't know. Now please, leave all diagnoses to me, and don't try to analyse your own trouble! Tell me the symptoms only."
"Well," I continued, "it's like this - I've got a mania for a certain kind of literature known as 'science- fiction'. I read nothing else, I can think of nothing else. I spend all my spare time indulging in this fantasy, writing my own science-fiction stories, corresponding with other people who are victims of this fantasy-bug, and so on. We call ourselves fans - science-fiction fans - and we read, the various pulp periodicals specialising in that form of literature; we write letters of criticism to the editors...."
Horace K. Manson began to look bored.
"...and we hold meetings at which we can discuss this science-fiction. We rave over stories that are - when judged by orthodox standards - rubbish! We spend hours and hours in dogmatic arguments over such unanswerable questions as - what was there before there was nothing, how big is infinity, where is the fourth-dimension, and so on..."
The psychologist closed his eyes and sighed.
"And we idealise certain states or concepts - Altruism, Pacifism, and so on. We...."
"Wait!" said Manson, holding up a podgy hand. "That is enough to be going on with. Now tell me, frankly, just how you were brought up when a child."
I gazed at him in perplexity. "What has that got to do with science-fiction?" I asked.
"Answer my question," was the reply.
"Well - er - I was brought up at home, by my parents.
"No - no! What I mean is - were you in any way restricted
when you were young - debarred from normal self-
expression - gained, say, in 'roughing it' with other boys?"
"Well - er - in a way..."
"Come - come! Yes or no?"
"Well, it wasn't that I was restricted ... it was just that I preferred to stay in and read or write rather than go out..."
"Defence mechanism!" snorted the psychiatrist. "Surely you were that way - quiet and sedentary - because your parents desired it so, falsely assuming that introversion leads to refinement? Or else, due to a feeling of inferiority or incompetence, you preferred the fantasy of dreams and fiction to the crude reality of life? In either case the final result was the prevention of normal self-expression, leading inevitably to introversion. Here is the crack - did you or did you not revel in stories of the fantastic, the occult, or the supernatural, while remaining indifferent to wild-west or adventure yarns?"
"Well - yes," I assented doubtfully.
"Q.E.D.!" said Manson triumphantly, "Next point, were you mis-educated with regard to matters sexual? Was your sex educaticn accomplished in secresy and with, a feeling of guilt or was it quite clean and above board? Did you learn to regard sex as something filthy and not to be talked about, or as a perfectly normal and healthy function of the human body."
"I prefer not to discuss the matter," I muttered.
"Perfect!" cried Manson "Perfect! The very fact that you will not talk about the subject proves that you were so misinformed when younger. You have developed an inhibition in relation to the opposite sex and matters sexual, While a child you developed the habit of regarding sex as something unclean, so, automatically, your mind repressed the 'undesirable' subject, and tucked it safely away into the subconscious. - gone but not forgotten. Is that true?"
"I suppose so," I admitted grudgingly. "But that doesn't account for my interest in science-fiction."
"On the contrary, it does! Consider a moment - when young you were debarred from self-expression in the normal, or crude physical, manner; so you achieved that self-expression by turning to literature. Thus, in reading, writing, discussing and criticising, you found the expression which had been debarred you. You had sublimated your self-expressive urge into a higher plane - that of a literature and science."
"But why science-fiction and fantasy only?" I protested. "Granted that my interest in writing and reading is a perverted form of self-expression, that doesn't explain my specialisation in fantasy."
"I'm coming to that now," said the psychiatrist. "You have already admitted that you were the victim of sexual repression when a child - but the sex instinct cannot be suppressed entirely. It finds its outlet in another form, again a process of education. Thus, the sex instinct provides the motivating force behind all your creative activities - writing, arguing...".
"Publishing fan-mags?" I interposed.
He nodded: "Publishing fanmags... or - just what are
"Yes," he continued at length, "publishing fanmags - all concrete evidence of the sublimation of the sex instinct which is going on."
"But why fantasy only?" I pleaded. "Granted that sex and introversion account for the production of fanmags and amateur writings, discussion, etc - why fantasy not wild west, crime or cinema stars?"
"Because," Manson took a deep breath, "the instinct of curiosity - coupled as it is with the sex instinct - is also sublimated, and instead of satisfying your curiosity in things mundane and immediate - as instinct would have - mental censorship - the result of repression and inhibition - translates the crude curiosity into another form, an interest in things philosohaical, a desire to know the unknowables, to ponder over the origin of space, to unveil the mystery of time, to explore the unexplored vastness of the cosmos. There is your sex instinct - your sex curiosity - neatly sublimated In science-fiction and fantasy you can find an outlet for the self-expressive urge and satiation for the sex instinct."
"Oh!" I said dismally. "It all sounds very rude to me..."
Manson laughed. "Again you give yourself away! This prudishness is a sure sign of repression, and you must remember..."
He went chattering on about sex and sublimation while I donned my coat and hat.
"Well, goodbye, Mr. Manson," I broke in at length, cutting short his loquacious eloquence, "It has been a very interesting interview, I'm sure."
I prepared to go, but the psychologist coughed discreetly. Then, to add injury to pevious insult, he said.
"Er - just a moment please. There's the small matter of the fee to be settled. One guinea - thank you."
The floor opened, and I sank blissfully into Stygian depths.
NO CHANCE by Bill Temple - (Continued from Page 9)
"angle of contact with plane surface",
and-"weight in relation to force of spin".
In fact, the whole thing was an exhaustive and commendably exact
treatise on the long-forgotten art of loading dice.
NO CHANCE by Bill Temple - (Continued from Page 9)
"angle of contact with plane surface", and-"weight in relation to force of spin".
In fact, the whole thing was an exhaustive and commendably exact treatise on the long-forgotten art of loading dice.
OUR APOLOGIES for this long delayed. issue, caused through the outbreak of war, and the subsequent trouble obtaining paper, ink, etc. and suitable facilities for working on the mag. There is no need for us to point out the pages that were duplicated after September 1. No! It wasn't nerves - just the paper!
With this issue, too, we pull our tent pegs and, together with the Science-Fiction Association, park for the duration. This was decided at a meeting in London held in mid-September, and the following is the official statemennt:
"That, for the duration of the present European war, the Science Fiction Association shall be held in abeyance as it stands. All members in subscription will have that subscription filled out upon resumption of the Association by whatsoever Officers are left to re-commence the Organisation.
"Members who paid subscriptions on or after September 1st. 1939 are entitled to full repayment in the event of the Association not continuing, and such monies will be paid back by the Treasury (or some surviving Officer) directly such a decision has been made.
"Financial Statement: After all expenses for the current NEW WORLDS and SATELLITE have been deducted, the sum remaining is £2-2-0, The total subscriptions paid in from September 1st amounts to £2-2-0. The Books of the Association will be kept intact and suitable arrangemnts will be made for them to survive any changes brought about through the present conditions."
By which we hope to convey that we shall all be back in circulation the moment the war concludes. A final issue of SATELLITE should be out almost as soon as this issue of NEW WORLDS. In the meantime, "Something for You to Do" on Page 24 has been cancelled, as also was an article by Frank Arnold.
We trust that this effort will be a fitting souvenir for the SFA, and wish to thank all those members who have supported the Association in the past. We trust that we shall renew your acquaintance again very shortly. To our American friends a special vote of thanks for their continued support through trying times, and especially during the past month.
Enclosed with this issue is our idea for continuing the flow of up-to-date pro and fan news. NEW WORLDS POSTAL PREVIEW, which will be issued just as fast as news breaks, Perhaps twice a week or twice a month. More detailed news will be contained in Sam Youd's SCIENCE-FICTION WAR BULLETIN and Les Heald's SCIENCE-FANTASY REVIEW, both of which intend to continue publication as long as possible.
While SFA fandom will cease to function officially from now, most of the fans still left in daily life intend to continue individually, and you can expect to hear of the fantasy banner still fluttering whatever happens.
Without regret we turned our backs upon this insane planet and left it to its fate, with the strong avowal that never again would the Intellectuals of Venus enter its vicinity.
If NEW WORLDS POSTAL PREVIEW was indeed enclosed with this issue
it has long since become separated from the copy in the Vince Clarke
collection. If it in fact exists, and a copy comes to light, it will
of course be added here.