January 24th to February 13th, 1997
by Andy Hooper
1. Crawdaddy #15, edited by Paul Williams, P.O. Box 231155, Encinitas, CA 92023: Ever since Paul resurrected this title, he has offered amazing essays and observations on the world of music, more than enough to carry each issue on his own. Now, he has acquired a list of columnists who are up to his standard of dedication and eloquence, making the arrival of each new Crawdaddy! the fanzine highlight of the month. In this issue, Michaelangelo Matos shows that his article on James Brown was no fluke, with a fascinating look at the latter-day adventures of the artist formerly known as Prince. Paul is back with another account of a weekend listening to Bob Dylan, this time in Austin, Texas, and Steve Rostokoski bludgeons me with an account of all I missed by going to LACon III instead of staying in Seattle for the Bumbershoot Festival. Faren Miller, known for his work with Locus, covers a Billy Bragg/Robyn Hitchcock concert, and Gary Schulstad gives an introduction to his ongoing interest in the work of Pete Townsend. Stephen Sloan has joined the staff to provide more of the striking eraser carvings which are such a signature element of the fanzine. Just when I was about to call this issue a complete pleasure to read, I came a cross a short column by d.e. papenfuse documenting the release of a 5-disc ep set of live recordings and rare projects from Elvis Costello, one of my own enduring obsessions. Now, where am I going to find a copy of this limited edition, and how am I going to afford it when I do? The best fanzines always make you ask hard questions of yourself . . . .
2. Götterdämmerung #8, edited by Mark McCann (40 Derramore Ave., Belfast BT7 3ER Northern Ireland) and Tommy Ferguson (768 Manning Ave., Toronto, ONT M6G 2W6 Canada): The Belfast address seems to be the editorial home of this now trans-Atlantic fanzine, which continues to relate the experiences of its editors and several other hangers-on. McCann dominates the issue with accounts of Tommy's last pub night in Belfast, some adolescent experiences as a Boy Scout, and a description of how he and the lads went looking for the Socialist Workers' Party meeting and ended up at the Belfast Pigeon Fancier's Society instead. Damian Kearney presents an account of travel to his wife's hometown of Istanbul and its environs, which gives the fanzine its usual quota of travel writing. And Eugene Docherty's guide to abusive medical slang for patients is an ideal antidote to any of Sharon Farber's slightly-twee medical articles in Mimosa. "Gott" has the feeling of a fanzine which has fallen into a comfortable groove, despite the fact that one of the editors has moved to Canada and another (James McKee) seems to be completely AWOL. No especially deep insights here, but it's an entertaining read generally free from pretension.
3. Thyme #113, edited by Alan Stewart, P.O. Box 222, World Trade Centre, Melbourne, Victoria 3005 Australia: The usual rundown of news and events, those from the US and Britain being quite old, and those from Australia seeming quite fresh to me -- at least I hadn't seen them elsewhere. The only unhappy note on this issue is that Ian Gunn seems to have transferred his flag over to Ethel the Aardvark, the Melbourne clubzine, as there is no "Artychoke" section in this issue, nor any of his time-traveling comic strips. As usual, the book reviews are some of the best and most thoughtful being published in any true fanzine, and they aren't all glowingly positive lip service, either. Craig Macbride's Worldcon report seemed to lack an account of many of the scheduled events of the weekend, which leads me to think his convention was much like mine, spent shmoozing and eating and drinking and avoiding the panels I was supposed to be on. Kudos to Craig for having the courage to admit it. Alan reprints the whole TAFF-race cancellation press release, which no doubt has Australian fans muttering to themselves, "Ah, but were there any DOORS involved?"
4. Emerald City #15, 16, 17, written and edited by Cheryl Morgan, 21/60 Princess St. Kew, Victoria 3101, e-mail to email@example.com: I include the e-mail address for this fanzine because most likely the only way you can get it is by getting onto Cheryl's electronic mailing list. It really isn't clear if we have a policy on reviewing electronic fanzines here at Apak, but if we're going to cover things like Crawdaddy! and The Unpaved Road, it seems that something like this, with such a raft of SF-related content, ought to be on the list too. Cheryl issues this compendium of party notes, book and movie reviews every month, and it is a fairly big wad of text to digest at one sitting. Her reviews are chatty, but well-detailed and often feature a consideration of an author's whole career in the process. Her reports on the social scene in Oz fandom are fun to read, and should certainly be followed by people hoping to meet Australian fans at the Worldcon in 1999. The newest issue, #17, features Cheryl's consideration of the current DUFF race. As she is one of Janice Murray's nominators, it should come as no surprise that, while she thinks I'd do a fine job with the fund, you still ought to vote for Janice. It's hard not to agree. And her characterization of . . . ah, you'll have to get it from her yourself. But I must admit I'm eagerly anticipating meeting Cheryl at Potlatch later this month . . . .
5. Jupiter Jump #27, written and edited by Mark Manning, 1709 S. Holgate, Seattle, WA 98144-4339: Another of Mark's entertaining SAPS zines, which manage to comment on material raised in that apa in sufficient detail that one doesn't need to have read the mailing in order to enjoy Mark's work. This time he's shooting down flying saucer theory and describing the dubious joys of a holiday trip to visit his family. It's very good stuff, and really deserves to be seen by more people, which is always a problem with publishing a really whiz-bang apazine.
6. Thingummybob #15, edited by Chuck Connor, Sildan House, Chediston Rd., Wisset, Near Halesworth, Suffolk IP19 0NF UK: We haven't seen anything from Sildan House for a while, so I'm glad to get this new issue of T-Bob. Chuck has always fancied himself a fringe-fan, with interests that only obliquely intersect with fandom, and this issue serves to underline that attitude more than ever. The art by Harry Turner, Steve Jeffery and Dave Hicks is quite familiar, but material like Dail Chaffin's poem "Old Dogs -- New Tricks" is not the sort of thing you'd find in the average fanzine. Chuck now seems to be neck deep in the world of Internet Conspiracy Theory, as evidenced by "Introduction to the False Prophet's Bible" by Philip Heggie, and an apparently anonymous piece of half-hysterical, half-repulsive new world order ranting titled "Operation Vampire Killer," which was forwarded to Chuck by someone named "Fluffy." No doubt English readers will enjoy the letter excerpt from Charles Broerman which offhandedly characterizes the US as heir to a fundamental evil and built on hypocrisy and blood. Everyone involved will hopefully one day endure the future they deserve.
7. Adventures in Failure, written and edited by Kev McVeigh, 37 Firs Road, Milnthorpe, Cumbria LA7 7QF UK: Perhaps it is simply the effect of the mid-winter blahs, but this was just about the last kind of fanzine I wanted to receive this week. Kev McVeigh has a reasonable facility with the language, and good taste in music, but he is prone to the sort of bottomless depression that seems to be the most critical element in the "Northern School" of British fan-writing. We're treated to an account of a dismal Saturday night that ends in a bloody fight (not directly involving Kev, thankfully), the bitter burden of having to deal with idiots as part of one's job, and Kev's trepidation and indecision when faced with a prescription for anti-depressants (TAKE THE DAMN THINGS, KEV!), as well as some cryptic swipes at Alison Freebairn, the Nova voters and the Plokta cabal, the latter of whom have never sent Kev a copy, the bastards. He also complains that he received very little response to his last few fanzines. I suspect the explanation for this may be that most of his readers have already exhausted most of the responses that this sort of material tends to create in responding to the work of Nigel E Richardson, Michael Ashley, et al. On the other hand, Kev is very enthusiastic about Paul William's book Bob Dylan -- Watching the River Flow: Observations on his Art-in-progress 1965 -- 1995, and James Hawes' A White Merc with Fins. I hope we'll see more of that sort of thing in subsequent offering from Kev, because even though I acknowledge that his stuff is certainly heartfelt, a little of it goes a long way.
8. The Knarley Knews #61, edited by Henry and Letha Welch, 1525 16th Ave., Grafton, WI 53024-2017: As Henry notes, there is inevitably going to be a let-down after a tenth-anniversary issue, so it's no surprise that this is one almost entirely editorials and letters. The most interesting thing here is a letter and itinerary from a fellow named Don Pattenden, who is planning to bicycle around Australia -- if Henry can get some reports from the road, they should be well worth reading. And I think some fan history may be creeping into Henry's mind after all -- he makes a reference to Nydahl's disease in his main editorial! The lettercol features many of the usual suspects.
9. MSFire, Volume 2, #5/6, edited by Lloyd Daub for Milwaukee Science Fiction Services, P.O. Box 1637, Milwaukee, WI 53210-1637: This jumble of club news, sercon analysis, humor, cartoons and poetry has found a new editor after all, and will apparently go on publishing for the immediate future. My favorite features are the art of Georgie Schnobrich (the cover is GORGEOUS) and the astronomical speculations of Peter Kokh who turns his attention to the "Europids" E-class planets and moons that are far more common than earth-like worlds and at least theoretically capable of supporting life. Some good book reviews, too, which treat just a few books in relatively high detail. They're getting some letters now, which must be encouraging, but this fanzine clearly needs more material, both art and prose, if only to forestall the use of further cartoons by the editor.
10. Vanamonde #193, written and edited by John Hertz, 236 S. Coronado St. #409, Los Angeles, CA 90057: Another edition of John's Apa-L zine. Nice little quote from Coleridge to lead off the issue, but the rest is relatively opaque commentary on the previous mailing.
11. De Profundis #296, edited by Tim Merrigan for the LASFS, 11513 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601: The usual account of LASFS meetings, supplemented with address changes, pro/fan birthdays, convention and local event calendars. I took the time to take a look at the list of fanzines that trade with De Profundis this time -- I'm amazed that so many clubzines that have been around since the early 70s are still going strong. An indication that there will always be a niche for this sort of thing.
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