Round and round the little wheel turns -- if you wish to retain your sanity we strongly advise you not to bother about reading this effort. It stinks!
From Over The Border comes these impresssions of a Greater Mind. The only address to contact the Old Man Himself is 17 Burwash Road, SE18.!
LOOKING UP THE FILE of SANDS recently gave us quite a surprise to note that it was over a year ago that we first launched our Mighty Atom. It has always been a desire of ours to participate in some kind of Anniversary, even if it was only the Golden Wedding of one of the old-timers; or maybe the birthday of Grandad Webster. but it has never come to pass until now. So SANDS OF TIME has struggled through twelve months of war, and bids fair to make a record for us -- the first fanzine to be published from the inside of Active Service for one year.
Belated, but nonetheless sincere, are our Seasonal Greetings to you all. A quirk of Fate sent us into the Never-Never Land, somewhere in the highlands of Scotland, miles from the nearest pub, even further from the nearest dime store. Ergo -- no greetings cards. We might add that the chilly atmosphere didn't do our rheumatism any good, after basking in the warm sunshine of the the Mediterranean for a couple of months.
OUT OF THE VOID
YOU WOULD THINK that after an absence of four months we would have sufficient material to fill half a dozen numbers of this sheet, but, on the contrary, there isn't a damn thing on file, and once again we have to resort to meanderings and writing down just what comes to mind first. A stack or mail was waiting for us on our return from Algiers, yet, boiled down, all the letters were about the same thing. Of fans both in the States and in this country, being drafted, or going overseas. Not a peep about stf. However, we did manage to catch up on a little reading.
To the many followers of SANDS who have written in during the past year, and assisted us by their criticisms and letters, we give praise. Especially to all those who wrote stating that they liked our last issue the best of all and would we please produce more thought-provoking issues along tha same lines. That was our intention this time, but it seems more than difficult with no material to go on.
Having been away from stf for several months, without even any correspondence to keep us up-to-date, our eyes are keener at picking out the faults that underlie the make- up of the magazines. ASTOUNDING seems to be well down in quality. The issues from August to December are very poor indeed. While the literary standard still remains high, the stories themselves are only mediocre.
We have now transferred our affections whole-heartedly to UNKNOWN which buds fair to be one of the best magazines ever published in recent years. Have you ever trled to find a word to express just what the contents of UNKNOWN mean? Suppose you wanted to introduce the magazine to a friennd, and wanted to explain what the stories were about -- how would you phrase it? You'll find that you just can't lay your tongue on the words, for
the magazine certainly isn't about ghost
stories -- not in the true sense of the word. Nor is it about
anything that you can definitely say is definite. The word "unknown"
is the nearest you can get to it, which is why the title is so brilliant.
GRANDPAW'S PHOTO ALBUM
FOR A LONG TIME NOW we've been toying with the idea of writing some of our reminiscences of fandom. Glancing at our photo album releases a torrent of memories, and we find that they centre on the birth of fandom in this country and the people who helped build fandom. Looking back over the past seven years and reviewing some of the things we all did may be of interest to you, and will certainly bring to the newer fans a clearer picture of events.
We plan to use this feature regularly each issue -- that is, if you are interested.
A SNOOTY HALF PLATE pie graces the first page of our album, entitled "First Meeting of London Branch, British Interplanetary Society. October 23, 1936." If you think that the BIS has little or nothing to do with science-fiction and fandom then you're very much mistaken, because it was through the formation of that London Branch that the followers of stf in London first got together.
As we remember that meeting, after six years, it was held in Prof A.M.Low's office in Piccadilly, and amongst some twenty members present were Wally' Gillings, later to beceme editor of TALES OF WONDER, Arthur Clarke, still an ardent pioneer of the Spaceways and ourselves. Shortly before the meeting began a quiet fellow snuck into the office and whispered earnestly to Walt -- we thought it was the cops or the insurance man -- but it turned out to be just a science fiction fan who wasn't very interested in rocketry. He wouldn't even stay to have his photo taken, but dashed off after making some arrangements with Walt. His name was Ken G. Chapman.
The meeting snored to it's inevitable finale (all BIS meetings used to give us a headache -- the jargon was so flighty!) and the fans moved to an adjacent cafe to thrash out weightier problems like the latest ASTOUNDING. We had the October issue with Brown's cover for Ray Gallun's "Godson of Almarlu." (That was a lousy issue, by the way). So, we adjourned to this joint, and Walt dashed off copy appertaining to the "greatest ever" futuristic meeting, and rushed it by phone to Associated Press. Then we sat back and decided that it was time we had some sort of London fan group instead of these haphazard meetings. But nothing was done about it at the time.
On January 3rd 1937 the Leeds Chapter of WONDER's Science Fiction League held Britain's first science fiction Convention. It had been called mainly to decide on a proper fan organisation for this country and many fans and authors all over the country had promised to attend. We met Walt Gillings and Art Clarke at St. Pancras Station late at night and caught the mail train to Leeds. En route we picked up Maurice Hanson at Leicester --- the four of us arriving at Leeds in the dismal small hours around 4.00 a.m. The station looked like something from Wells' "Things To Come", only they'd gone! Actually the station was still being built, although it looked as though it had been hit by a coupla thousand pounders. Maybe we just caught a brief glimpse into the future.
We were met by Harold Gottliffe and whisked away to the Clubroom,
where unknown individuals mysteriously delivered breakfast. We can
still remember those beans even now. But that Clubroom really had
something. It was as comfortable as any large single room could be,
which had been fitted out by the ingenuity of the members, and we
remember Michael Rosenblum giving us a conducted tour round the book-
wracks -- sorry -- but they were an eyeopener to ordinary fan who
hadn't had the yen to make a collection.
Around noon Eric Frank Russell and Les Johnson arrived from Liverpool, and Michael Rosenblum devoted quite a time to taking pix. There's one in our album of the usual three Walt, Art and ourselves, and another of Eric Russell.
The main business of the day ironed itself out in the afternoon when the jam session was held at some hall in the city. Everyone made speeches, plenty of ideas and suggestions floated around, an Association was formed. The last we remember of the meeting was sneaking off into a private sanctum, lighting a gas fire, and dropping off to sleep utterly worn out. But, as we remember, they did form the Science Fiction Association, and the noose was drawn a little tighter round our lily- white throats.
That original meeting really started the ball rolling in, this country, and from it all the fan clubs (all four of 'em), evolved and owed allegiance. They were the four Hells. Leeds, Liverpool, London and Leicester.
PICTURES OF INDIVIDUALS associate themselves into experiences, and there are a long chain centred round Les, who was another of the original pioneers of fandom in this country. After much correspondence we first met Les accompanied by Eric Russell one evening at Euston Station, late in 1935. They had been doing the rounds in Town, had met Prof. Low and various other people, and were then on their way to see Wally Gillings at Ilford We tagged along with them, and listened to the gabfest which ensued at Walt's place. It was quite an eye-opener, as we hadn't had anything to do with fans in the flesh -- in fact we hardly knew what, they were talking about half the time.
Except that it was the beginning of some friendships that have lasted right up until now, that first meeting is a little hazy. It was the beginning of our wanderings -- many times afterwards, right up until the war broke out, we were to do the trip to Liverpool often.
Subsequent pix of Les and ourselves taken in 1937 are at the time when the germs of the idea for the "Science Fiction Service" were first formed. Yet another great event in fandom although we weren't to know it at the time -- but from the clients of the old SERVICE scores of new fans were made, and are still being made. Their names are legion.
There remains a vivid memory of a stf meeting in Liverpool, held at the office of the SERVICE on one of those many trips we paid to Liverpool. Now we think back on it, it was one of the grandest meetings we ever attended -- although we can't remember anything startling that happened -- except a gabfest.
May those days of meetings come again before very long.
(Ted misremembered the date of his first meeting with Gillings, Johnson, and Russell, which actually occurred in April/May 1936. Also, the station in question was Liverpool St., not Euston. His contemporary account can be found here. He also misremembered Mike Rosenblum taking the photos at the 1937 Leeds convention when in fact it was Harold Gottliffe. These can be seen here. Ted's contemporary account of that first London BIS meeting can be found here. - Rob)
FOR SEVERAL YEARS NOW American fans have been praising the work of Hannes Bok as an artist, for he brought to fantasy art a new bizarreness -- something a little more outre than any other artist before him, and what is more, something that was definitely needed.
Opinions may be, and are, divided as to the merits of his work. It would seem that there can be no dividing line between liking and disliking his stuff. Unlike Finlay who relies more on the fantastic backgrounds he imposes his figures and creations on, Bok seldom uses backgrounds at all. He just symbolises figures, and the reader is caught short with a bald view of a queer-looking monstrosity. Therein lies Bok's success, or the reverse, according to one's taste.
We personally, have never been inclined to encourage the type of art work that Hannes Bok depicts, feeling that it has not been an advancement to fantasy art. Yet -- after a lengthy absence from studying the field, we are inclined to change our opinion. With Bok's first long fantasy story in the December UNKNOWN - "The Sorceror's Ship," --,and art-work by himself, we begin to see a little beyond the misty veil that has perhaps obscured a vision previously, a veil that seems to have been pierced by keener eyes than our own.
Bok is not very old. Compared with the artistic experiences of Paul, Wesso; Schneeman, and the many others, he is but an infant. If memory serves us rightly, he must be in his early twenties. Certainly not more. He was "discovered," if such a term can be used on a fertile imagination that would surely find an 'out' at some time or other, by one of the Los Angeles fans just prior to the outbreak of the European war.
His style has not changed since those earlier drawings, yet his art-work still has a freshness about it that makes it subtly intriguing. Throughout the past three years he has had numerous illustrations in ASTOUNDING not a few in WEIRD, and now the art-work for his own full-length novel in ASTOUNDING. Not too bad a start, considering the difficulty of 'crashing' the already over-crowded market. Yet Hannes was not satisfied with doing just art-work, and recently stated that he was retiring from the art field to take up writing seriously. We viewed this with a certain amount of suspicion, wondering if the leopard could change its spots as easily as all that. Our first preview of his literary style came with "Letter To An Invisible Woman," in the October UNKNOWN. The idea was good, although the development of the story was not taken full advantage of. Neither was the writing technique out of the ordinary. It was a fair story in all respects, and on a par with the many other stories that appeared in that magazine by authors we have seldom heard of.
Having read his first long novel in the latest issue of UNKNOWN, we feel urged to write in his favour."The Sorcerer's Ship" is not an outstanding story, certainly not along the policy lines of UNKNOWN, it gives a glimpse of what may well be in store for fantasy readers in the near future, for Bok has that very rare talented imagination that has come to very few writers in the past decade. We liken this story of his to some of Lovecraft's work, with a taste of Merritt thrown in also. While nowhere near their standards as yet,we feel that with careful development Bok can and will be a worthy successor to the Old Masters.