The ghost might have gone West, but this is not his spectral typing. If you want your name in letters of fire, write to Ted Carnell at 17 Burwash Rd, London, SE18
This Space to Let With Vacant Possession.
OVER 30,000 MILES in eight months of travel is the latest achievement of your Sandsman; we knelt in homage to the first rain and fog we have seen in almost that length of time. The last rainstorm we had the pleasure of shower-bathing in was the clash of three mighty electrical storms somewhere in the Indian Ocean near the Equator. Since then it has been very stormy for the Nazi's and Italians, to our lasting satisfaction.
Reading the issues of Fido that have appeared during our absence we observe that a few airgraph letters of ours have reached home: that there has been much going and coming amongst fans; arrivals froin the States; and that it seems to have been Baby Time in Britain too. What are we -- a man or a mouse?
To our regret we never quite caught up with Sphinxy Temple -- we arrived in Cairo only to find that he had moved on to the Tunis area a month before; we moved from Sicily into Italy to find that he had followed us into Sicily; and now we have left Italy we hear that he has arrived in our footprints there and is probably chasing the tedeschi still further back. Of other fans in the Middle East we saw and heard little, although we had some amazing meetings with non-stf people we knew from the old home town, and many were the carousels on looted Italian wine.
FULL MOON ODYSSEY
THE PAST EIGHT FULL MOONS have borne great significances in our travels. Each one has brought new scenes and places and stranger adventures - until our travels have read stranger even than fiction. So that these glimpses of life in the raw are not lost upon posterity we have been writing a book about them -- "Foo-ey, A Travelog Of The Little Foxes" will never see print owing to it's rawness, but may make interesting reading to a private audience after the war.
March full moon found us sweltering in the heat of the tropics somewhere off Freetown, Sierra Leone. The long weeks of idleness with nothing to read produced from three of us a naval game taking six hours or more to play. The game became the craze of the ship, and seems to have spread throughout Fleet circles, for when we reached a North African port a few months ago we found that it was being played by Officers and Men there complete to the final details of rules. (Patent applied for).
At this tme, too, we undertook to edit and produce a 4-page ship's newspaper every other day. "Tropical Times" became quite a success during our 8-week voyage, and we wrote several controversial articles anent astronautics,
and telepathy which raised local storms. Astronautics was hotly
debated in the Officers' Lounge and we finally had to give a lecture
to some 200 of them, explaining the simpler more fundamental principles
-- our brain couldn't go deeper than that, not having the
depth that Pilot Officer Clarke has. Needless to say that the old
bogey of whether a rocket could work in space or not cropped up, and
many bets have been placed upon our proof or disproof of the fact.
The full moon in April was under idyllic conditions -- it shone across the outline of Table Mountain, Cape Town, while we were delving in a variety of secondhand bookstalls loaded down with pro mags - loan only, as the supply had been stopped from USA. May saw us watching a movie show in an open-air cinema at Suez -- it happened to be Disney's "Fantasia° again, while June moon leered down at us from across the mountains in the heart of Syria. July illuminated the Sphinx and Pyramids under a mysterious light, and for fleeting moments of magic woven by the sonorous voice of an Egyptian guide we wore transplanted back to the days of the Pharoahs.
July saw a different scene -- the battle of Catania Plain in Sicily, with huge fires burning from the aerodrome; of cones of red flak floating skywards in the protection of our ports and beaches; the roar of artillery barrages, and the chatter of machine guns.
August brought almost a total eclipse of the moon, a calculated fact as we stealthily crept in on a commando raid on Messina, allowng us to get ashore under darkness only to be pinned down on a mile stretch of road for a whole day by German and Italian guns from the mainland. September saw us again watching a movie, this time only a few miles behind 8th Army frontline in Southern Italy, with General Montgomery as guest of honor. So rapid has our movements been that October full moon shone on us once again at a movie show, this time back in N. Africa while the November one peered fitfully down upon us in the setting of our Editorial address.
AS WE FLUNG BACK the roll-top desk a veritable flood of mags, letters and fanzines flooded out, which have taken many days to mull through. Now from the seeming chaos we view the changes that have taken place this year during our absence, and can perhaps give a survey from a fresh viewpoint. We welcomed the return to small size of ASF bemoaning the fact that the large size spoil the bookshelf, but more or less happy in the knowledge that we still have a complete file of the mag. So Unknown has gone? The last issue we had was Dec 1942. Presumably one or two more were published before it disappeared into its 4th-dimensional realm, from whence it came?
The first yarn we read was van Vogt's "The Weapon Makers," and once again hand it to AE for a superb story, topped only by his earlier effort "Slan." In our estimation "The Weapon Makers" far out-strips any of the old masterpieces of Smith, 'Williamson, Vincent, Simak, Curmmings, etc. There is a forcefulness behind the writing and a beautiful layer of plot formation and characterisation.
We feel that we are so far behind the times
with reading at the moment that it would be a waste
of time to review or analyse any stories or issues. Later, perhaps
if necessary. Meanwhile, there seems plenty of room for random
thoughts, eepecially about fandom.
During our eight months absence we observe that the face of fandom has changed in Britain even more so; the signs have been evident for nearly two years that there will be a vast difference after the war -- that British fans will not revert back to the same conditions as existed for them before 1939. We can predict the following, having mentally reviewed the situation, that the newer fans who have become known during the war years will be the leaders of the new fandom that will rise from the foundations they have been building since 1941. This is not a prediction that the older fans intend to fade out -- many of them will return from their travels overseas and become just as active as previously, but, in the main, we feel that old-timers will want to take a back seat, although still retaining their interest in fandom and fantasy. We take this view mainly because of the number of fans who have been married since the war began; many of them now having families, and their leisure time will be curtailed considerably in nursing the babies and keeping the wolf from the door in general. Also, we know of many fans who ardently wish to crash the fiction markets, and we predict that they won't be able to continue fandom as they used to if they devote their spare time to writing.
Fandom then will still be carried by the younger members, which is as it should be; for then the feeling that there is a ruling clique of older fans holding the reins will be abolished.
As for the revival of the Science Fiction Association and the continuance of the present British Fantasy Society, we can only speak as an observer and not as an authority, for the destiny of the former is in the hands of the Executive Committee, when they reform after the war. Our personal feeling in the matter is that much good could come from an amalgamation of the two, combining the best aspects of each and utilising to the full the connections that both have built up. That is for the future, however.
FLOTSAM & JETSAM
THE REST OF THIS COLUMN will be made up of random thoughts which might be of interest to you. Our return trip from Italy to N. Africa was marked by one of those mysteries of the sea, very common in warfare. We crossed the Mediterranean in bad weather for small craft, and as dawn broke one morning we found we were some 5 miles off Cape Bon, Tunis. Away on our starboard quarter floated something which at first we took to be a U-boat, but upon closer examination turned out to be the broken stern of a US LCT, which had broken her back during the night owing to the rough sea. No sign of life came from her - only the US flag fluttered occasionally from it's mast. Like pirates of old we boarded her, for there's still prize money to be had for derelicts, as well as loot aboard.
had gone overboard on the life rafts as far as we could make out. In
their quarters a gold wrist watch still ticked away beside a bunk;
everything was normal except for the foot of water slopping round
the messdeck. . . and then we made a find. The February AST, and
one of Thorne Smith's books, "The Glorious Pool."
MANY THANKS TO ALL of you who wrote us while we were away. Unfortunately no mail reached us from mid-August until our return here, so three months of correspondence will doubtless arrive sometime in 1944. A postal from Les Johnson somewhere near Algiers was received by us somewhere near Algiers! Despite 10 days of enquiry we failed to dig him up although we were probably only 5 miles from him.
We hear that Sphinxy Temple obtained some Verne books printed in Italian while in Sicily. Presumably he bought them with legitimate Military Money -- the sucker! And we were there in the first throes of looting and couldn't find anything worth lifting in the book line, except some moth-eaten copies of "La Vie Parisienne."
AS THIS IS BEING WRITTEN we are hoping that one of those rare and infrequent get-togethers at Frank Arnold's apartment near Baker Street will materialise in a few days. The Last One that we remember there was on the occasion of our return from the North African invasion, one year ago now, and it also marked the farewell beer-up in honor of Sphinxy Temple. Guess we've been quite a way since then. This time we're hoping that some or one of the American fans that are in this country will be able to attend. After all, those old London gatherings were quite famous in their way.
While we were getting sic:k of the sight of Mount Etna, Gus Willmorth from Shangri-la visited the Editorial address. Things are more than quiet when we are away, so he probably didn't have a very exciting visit - we should warn all you Death's Deputies that the remainder of the denizens of the Sand Castle are merely fantasy readers and delve not into the mystaries of fandom. However, we hope to meet Gus and others before long -- and plan a column about them shortly.
BY THE WAY GHOULS that mysteriously Time-jumped airgraph of ours to JMR dated July 22 and arriving July 8th really is on the level -- although it was probably 4th-dimensional level. Far stranger things happen in Cairo, believe us. As we remember, we were sitting Arab fashion, facing Mecca, contemplating our navel, on the day we wrote that graph, and after a dusky-eyed maiden had cleared the bottles away we wrote the gaping public. The finished script was posted in a shimmering translucent box which floated before our eyes somewhere in the neighbourhood of Shepheard's and the YMCA, and at the same time we crossed the palm of a cross-eyed crone with a dirty white beard with a crown. We mean that we crossed her palm with a crown, not that we crossed her beard with a palm; or should anyhow - somehow.
Write and tell us what you want to read about in this column. Sans!