Originally distributed with FUTURIAN WAR DIGEST #19

It's only...


No 4...............April 1942

This FIDO insert started by dealing mainly with the Street & Smith twins. We can't see any reason why we shouldn't wander all over the Sands of Time, and record everything that appeals.


THIS ISSUE of SANDS may have spread to four pages by the time you read it; if it has, you can thank the Army - we found some stencils! However, they may not take on JMR's duplicator so its a case of 'keep your fingers crossed'.

That short leave materialised, as expected, and Doc Smith wasted some of our valuable time, as you will observe below. We didn't see any of the Gang while in London, although quite a conversation ensued between Ken Chapman and ourselves over the 'phone. We also found out that Harold Chibbett was on the run from the Debt Collectors, and had had his phone disconnected - or was the Family Ghost responsible?

No, we spent those few precious hours pottering about the 'den' - amongst all the musty books and mags and art work - oh, yes, and fanzines - catching up on some lost reading. We doubt if any of our old callers would recognise the Sanctum - landmine damage forced us to use another room more suited for the Brains Trust.

Mentioning studies - what do you nudists think of Harry Turner's 'Study' on page 67 of the February ZENITH? We showed it to our Albert, a Manchester guy who drums in the regimental dance band we play in, and he promptly went home on leave!

A short letter from Willy Temple mentions that he is home on "secret" leave - yeah! Keeping it secret from all his friends - he says he just wanted to sit on the hearth rug and toast crumpets and do those things that go to make up 'home'. Also to continue with a would-be humourous novel called "Three Men in a Flat". Guess who and where!

We'd like to pass on a novel idea some of the Americans hit on - namely, Julius Unger, Doc Lowndes and Johnny Michel, all of New York, have issued bound copies of Unger's FANTASY FICTION FIELD - the first fifty two issues of that fanzine, bound in one volume, making a nifty booklet half an inch thick and packed with pictures and data worth remembering - for the use of guys like us, who have to look up items to pester guys like you with.


WE THINK THE FOLLOWING item might slightly interest our anti-Heinlein readers. The poll-maniac Art Widner, decided to re-cast his Best Author Poll - he ran one in 1940, and some of you probably still have the records around somewhere - so this guy runs another poll. Unger's FFF for Feb 6 records the following dope:

"On the basis of the first 39 votes cast, Robert Anson Heinlein has surpassed Lensmith by 23 points and out-pointed Campbell-Stuart 44! The rise of Heinlein-MacDonald-Monroe is in your co-ed's eyes, the most phenomenal since Weinbaum. At the time of the Chicon he was in 18th place after only 18 months; he has forged to the fore with a remarkable record of solid smashes. Doc Smith hotly contends for top-honour - conceivably could achieve it before the final ballot is tabulated (he didn't - ejc) - while Campbell's esteem stays strong for an editor long ceased having been an author. (We wonder -ejc)

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"In 4th place, with 159 points, is de Camp; followed by Merritt -136; sixth, Hubbard - 105; van Vogt 7th, with a difference of only three points; Williaimson 8th at 67; 54 for newcomer Asimov, and Lovecraft included in the Big Ten with a score of 48 points."

Well, there you have the recorded opinion of some of America's fans. Incidentally, the mags lined up as follows: ASF; UNKNOWN; FFM; WEIRD; SUPER SCIENCE; ASTONISNING; TWS; STARTLING; COSMIC; FUTURE.

Notice that AMAZING isn't listed in the first ten! Amazing!


WE WERE A BIT PREMATURE in our last issue by saying Doc Smith's latest serial came to a "smashing galactic close". It came to a close. sure - about fifty thousand words too late. For the first time we can ever remember Smith hits low in the rating. "Second Stage Lensman" to us, was very poor indeed. The plot was thin, being but a continuation of the two previous Lensman serials; it lacked suspense and was long-drawn out - words with dull meanings just tumbled off the Doc's typewriter until we wondered if the damn thing would ever finish.

We think that the Doc had better leave Kinnison and Mac happily married (!) and let 'em raise little brain-storms - they'll be more exciting.


IT DIDN'T TAKE US very long to unravel our votes for the best ten yarns in 1941 ASF, for we found that there were only fifteen outstanding yarns in the 12 issues. Fifteen yarns, that is, that rated 4* or over. Here they are, not necessarily in numerical order, as we didn't bother to work out which appealed the most to our jaded appetite. Heinlein's "Universe" de Camp's " The Stolen Dormouse" MacDonald's "Solution Unsatisfactory" Schachner's "Old Fireball" Heinlein's "By His Bootstraps" "Not Final" by Asimov." Russell's "Jay Score" (his best since "Sinister Barrier") Sturgeon's "Poker Face" MacDonald's "Sixth Column", and Jameson's " Slackers Paradise".

Not actually a list that everyone will agree with, depending upon tastes, but that's the way it went with us. The other five yarns that rated high, but which we didn't think quite reached the tops were: Grosser's "The Opportunists" Rocklynne's "Time Wants a Skeleton" Bester's "Adam But No Eve" Knight's "Short-Circuited Probability" and Vic Phillips' "Defense Line".

Finally, we think the best issue of the year was the October one, and the best cover August, for Schachner's "Jurisdiction", once again a spaceship cover taking the honours.


HERE ARE A FEW more pseudonyms we dug up - quite a number of others not listed here we have query marks against, because certain factors point to them being hideout names. Dow Elstar & E.V. Raymond = Raymond Gallun. Walter Glamis = Schachner. Rene Lafayette and Kurt von Rachen = L. Ron Hubbard. Robert Willey = Willy Ley. Warner van Lorne = F. Orlin Tremaine (???) The query there is our own, although the above statement was published in an American fanzine some time back.

There are four steps up to the door of 17 Burwash Roads London S.E.18 where this emanated, and the postman rings three times. Give him a job!

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THIS IS THE PAGE we hope will see the light of day - it depends upon the stencil fitting the machine.

We'd like you to have a peek at Little Joe Gilbert letting his hair down over UNKNOWN, and incidentally, ASF. We think Joe has really got something here (his thoughts fit in with our own fairly closely), so we pass on some extracts from his column "Slander" in the February 1942 FANFARE (the fanzine pushed around by the Bright Boy of Bryantville, Mass - Art Widner). We quote:

"If you want to see a flock of fans head in one grand stampede for the Men's room, mention L. Sprague de Camp. You're side of de Camp, I'm sick of de Camp, we're all sick of de Camp...everybody has had an overdose of the old double entendre master, and wishes heartily that de Camp would de-camp and take up slick writing. It's like eating strawberry jam. The first spoonful is utterly delightful, the fifth not so good, and by the time one has finished the jar one is inclined to believe that strawberry jam was the chief stock-in-trade of the gentlemen who made the Spanish Inquisition such a jolly clambake.

"And yet month after month - UNKNOWN and de Camp and vice versa. The two go together. And the situation hasn't been improved by the fact that all the lead novels lately have been almost exclusively by that cynical, worked-out hack. Nor for the fact that the writers in UNKNOWN are almost entirely limited to Heinlein, Bond, Cartmill, Hubbard, Kuttner, Sturgeon, Rice, and the pen-names of those gentlemen. (Jane, being the pseudonym of two writers, one male, specialising in the romance field).

"This over-use of authors of such frequent appearances that they can almost be termed staff writers, is the first step responsible for the decline and eventual disappearance of UNKNOWN.

"The second reason is the magazine's imbecile policy. Campbell will not use atmosphere fantasy of any kind unless a name like C. L. Moore's forces him to. Wacky fantasy, wacky fantasy, and more wacky fantasy is the result. Only a certain type of fantasy can be written without atmosphere stuff, and once you've had fifty to a hundred stories of that type, you toss UNKNOWN into the coal bin and go back to WEIRD for lack of something better.

"UNKNOWN needs new writers and a new policy worse than badly. All the stories like "He Shuttles" "It" "None But Lucifer" "Lost Darkness Fall" "fear" etc have been written and the staff authors, having sucked dry the orange of possibilities in the Campbell fruit-bin, are re-writing what has gone before, and submitting non-fantasy stories like "Not According to Dante" and stock weird stuff like "The Crest of the Wave".

The new size has aggravated rather than improved the situation, the repeated use of even such an excellent artist as Cartier becomes as tiresome as the repeated use of a small circle of authors. The format of UNKNOWN remains the same, and the whole thing is merely an enlarged version of the old magazine; no definite improvement such as BLUE BOOK underwent in its change of size has become evident. In the meanwhile, the market has grown, and the need for new blood has become almost pitiful. The same old format, the same old policy, the same old authors, the same old blurbs, the same old everything! UNKNOWN can now be defined as simply one gigantic repetition.

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"Both of these points, unfortunately - and if this be treason, make the most of it! - can also be extended to ASTOUNDING.

"De Camp is due to hit the slicks soon, as is R. M.Williams, and that excellent Campbell discovery, Sturgeon. Bond has turned from stf to more lucrative fields lately, so, apparently, has Campbell's best author, L. Ron Hubbard. Van Vogt's production has dropped considerably, as has Jameson's and Miller's. Campbell is going to have to send out a hurry-call for high-powered hacks, and what will be towed in from the western, detective and adventure pulps is best left to the imagination.

"The sad fact where both UNKNOWN and ASTOUNDING are concerned, is that a total of ten or twelve people with with highly individual and powerfully developed styles cannot continue writing to an insanely limited and narrow policy without going stale. Which would not be so bad, but both policy and the magazine go stale with them."

Thank you, Joe. You've saved us writing an article right along those lines., and have put matters a lot more succinctly than we could have done, being right on the spot in USA. Maybe you'll be put on the spot for the so-called sacrilege you've written, but here's one section of the crowd who are rooting for you. We think you have summed-up in a very concise article (sorry room didn't allow for the entire wordage) a fact which will become more apparent as the war months drag wearily onward.

Campbell will be in a spot. Don't say that Joe didn't warn you, either. We don't think that the other magazines will feel the draft so much - TWS with it's long-range policy of buying material must have sufficient stories on hand to run their magazines for more than two years. Probably Palmer at AMAZING hasn't quite such a long stock as that, but he isn't worried about specialised stuff, he can get his adventure men working on almost any old plot and still have saleable material. FFM won't be bothered with MSS problems, as they have plenty of reserves from Way-Back-When. Maybe the other and newer mags will feel the draft a little, but they shouldn't have any major problem with obtaining yarns.


FOR THE SECOND TIME in our short life we are hopping mad, This time by an underhanded bit of skull-duggery which makes British fans - and readers look assinine in the eyes of Americans in fact, probably handed quite a laugh to the readers of the March FUTURE.

Editor Lowndes publishes a letter in the "You Said It" column of that issue, purporting to come from "Four British Chaps" in Egypt - pardon us, "Four, jolly, lonely, British chaps". By the names of Twitheridge, Oglethorpe, Hasenwinkle and Bludsole, of the Royal Coast Artillery, formerly of London, Leeds and Aberdeen.

You know them, of course. Their names must have been very familiar before the war, but that was before our time. Their writing style must have been familiar to you as well; full of chappie, jolly, old, and mush that we're supposed to say, but don't, unless it happens to be a few vacuum minds from the Upper Crust who speak and write like that.

"Doc" we call your bluff. That letter was faked, and it wasn't a very good fake either. Being in Artillery ourselves, we know danm well there never was any Royal Coast Artillery, neither is the country of origin given on mail from the East. Very poor taste, editor Lowndes.