>CYBERPUNK WITHOUT COMPUTERS
Vurt by Jeff Noon, 1973, Crown Publishers Inc. (201 E 50 St, NY 10022), 342 pp., has the flavor of a cyberpunk novel but is really a story of drugs and reality, something like Phil Dick's Scanner Darkly, or Chester Anderson's THE BUTTERFLY KID without the joy. The blurb said it was a first novel and won the Arthur C. Clarke award.
It is set in England in the middle future and is a novel of drugs and reality. Drugs, called feathers, send you physically into other worlds or realities which have much the taste of some of the virtual realities experienced by the denizens of cyberpunk stories. The worlds range from pastoral retreats to sexual fantasies to bizarre experiences akin to a Phil Dick nightmare. The drugs, like those in the light-hearted BUTTERFLY KID, not only affect the mind but change reality itself. As in the cyberpunk novels I have read, the future is grungy, with cities run down, roads deteriorated, full of violent gangs and bizarre police enforcing bizarre laws. There is some sort of law of conservation of matter or reality. When a person is stranded in another world, something from that world enters ours. The protagonist is a member of a small cell of druggies who take trips together. His primary sex partner and lover is his sister and before the book opened she had used a very dangerous "yellow feather" and is stranded in another reality. Yellow feathers are extremely rare and for most of the book he is looking for another so he could follow and rescue her. They are accompanied by an alien creature which came through in her place. Since it is illegal to have such a creature they are hounded by the police who kill several members of his group and several of whom are killed. The druggies are totally immoral and think nothing about killing people or their pets or stealing anything they "need" on the spur of the moment.
The book was a strange experience and I am glad I had it, but I do not think I would look for another like it.
I have been corresponding with Matty Hayes, an old college friend, about the situation in Ireland and he has had some interesting things to say, which I want to share.
From: [email protected]
Though I am no expert on Ireland these are some of my thoughts. I think you are correct that in the Republic, the birth rate is declining due to the 'pill' this is also true in the North amongst catholics and protestants. Howver, it is more true for protestants and so there has occurred a creeping upwards of the catholic numbers in the North. Also, there has been more emigration from the protestant ranks, as far as I have read, skewing the numbers once again. There is no question that Ian Paisley, the epitome of fringe lunacy will continue. But, I believe that he embarasses even the hard liners today in the North and in Britain. Imagine the embarassment and wish to disown when he was forcefully thrown out of the EU Internationl Congress in Strassbourg for carrying a huge placard on which was written Jean Paul, the AntiChrist and screaming in the chambers "I denounce thee Satan, Jean Paul" etc. The IRA could have bumped him off years ago, but every time he carries on, they have a rush of new applicants. The way I see it, it is less an issue of brutality and sectarian murder of the catholics than an issue of being able to carry it out with support from the RUC (police force dominated by the Loyalists) and the blind eye of Justice, which permits every type of illegal harassment and discrimination by the Loyalists and punishes every catholic for even suspicion of minor infractions. There are of course two distincet types of Courts. The Diplock courts are for catholics and permit anyone to give evidence and not be confronted or cross examined if the judge believes he gave it in good faith and claims that he is afraid for his life. Well, guess what ? Only catholics go to these courts and they are routinely given life sentences on frame-ups. The numbers of catholics both in the universities and voter booths will change these dynamics. I believe though led kicking and screaming, Britain knows this, the protestants in the North know this and have begun to vote with their feet by emigrating, the hard liners who remain will be forced to accept it. Their only hope is for continued military and big budgetary support from a very reluctant British taxpayer. Matty.
Your explorations of New York City were interesting. Been a while since I've been to New York City. I can take it for about two days, then the walls start to close in. But I keep saying I'm going to go to the US Open Tennis one of these years. Best wishes, E.B. Frohvet
~BLAnCmANGE (Mark Blackman). What I was trying to say is that I do not like the use of "America" as a synonym for "United States" because that implies that all the other countries in North or South America are not "American."  Up here in rural NH I am totally outside of the Yiddish culture which was ubiquitous in NYC, even among goyem like me. Perhaps "potch" for slap or spank has made it into general useage but I had not come across it before you used it in your fanzine.  From the histories of astronomy I have read, the Greeks first realized the earth is round about -450, and I believe that the earlier books of what I call the "old testiment" were written before that. I first read some 30 years ago that when Genesis was compiled the popular belief was that the earth was flat with a dome over it in the book A PATH THROUGH GENESIS by Fr. Vawter. Since then I have seen this alluded to in a number of other places, including ISAAC ASIMOV'S GUIDE TO THE BIBLE, so assume it is accepted by all who consider the matter except the funnymentalists.  You said "Elst also did an illustrated fanspeak dictionary." Sorry, but I do not recognize Elst. Who or what is that? Recapitulating, the fanspeak dictionaries I can think of are the one by Bob Tucker which has gone through about 8 editions, two different editions of FANCYCLOPEDIA, a little booklet done by the late Ralph M. Holland for N3F members when he was president, GHU'S LEXICON (it was about 4 x 5 inches), a digest sized one mimeographed for the N3F a few years later by Al Lewis (the "tyrannical" Al Lewis as opposed to the "friendly" Al Lewis of the same period) which was one in a series of "Fandbooks" published by Al for the N3F, and now Rogow's. If there are any others could you give an idea of when and why they were published? I believe the Tucker was first done by him around 1950 and has been reissued about 8 times, sometimes with revisions, by various individuals and groups. FANCY was first done by Jack Speer in the '30s (I have never seen his edition) and updated and expanded by Dick eney around 1960. (Jack Chalker did an exact reprint of the Eney edition a few years later.) GHU'S LEXICON, done with humor, was pubbed in the late '50s and Al Lewis did his in the early '60s. Al, VERY active in LA fandom, got the idea of trying to harness the energy of the N3F's large membership and finances for a number of useful projects. He started an annual series of indexes to the SF magazines, before NESFA existed to take up the task, publish collections of the winning stories of the N3F's annual short story contest, and produce a series of "Fandbooks." which were around 20-24 pages long. One was an explanation and history of TAFF written by Ron Ellik, one a listing of all the APAs that existed at the time with brief histories and descriptions written by Bob Lichtman, and the third was fanspeak dictionary. I do not remember its title or author. I do not think there was a fourth.  You mention two blind comics characters. You said that Daredevil used a laser cane. I wonder if this was the mobility aide experimented with in the '70s. I tried it but it was very heavy and hard to manipulate. Three infrared laser beams detected high and low obstacles, and dropoffs, before they were felt in the normal way. The high one had some use as it detected tree limbs and hanging signs which the conventional cane didn't. Or was his "laser cane" a weapon hidden in a conventional cane? Did he have his own story line or book, or was he a character in another strip? Approximately when was he published (ie, "mid 80s, early 90s, etc)? You also mentioned Dr. Midnight of the '40s. While I read some comics then, I do not remember coming accross him. Again, did he have his own story or was he a visitor in another strip? What book and publisher, if you remember? Was he a superhero, a common crime fighter, or what? How did he get around? The long white cane was not invented until after WWII when Dr. Hoover developed it for vets. Before that blind people stumbled along with short orthopedic canes or used dog guides.  You seem to have some knowledge of Dutch pronunciation. How should author van Vogt's name be pronounced?
In APA-Q 420, in your comments on DAGON you mentioned in passing the anti-Catholic attitude of the Masons. I wonder how this came about. I understand that Mozart was both an avid Catholic and Mason, and even wrote music for a Masonic mass. Part of the alienation probably resulted from the church sideing with the entrenched aristocracy, often still a problem today, while the Masons sided with the masses striving for freedom. In the '40s I remember that the church said that a Catholic could not belong the Masons or ANY secret society because they were not allowed to swear the oaths of secrecy. At the same time the Masons said a Catholic could not belong, so the estrangement was mutually agreed upon. In the early '30s, at the height of the depression, my father had contemplated leaving the church for the Masons because he thought the "brotherhood" might help him get a good job. (Shortly after he had married my mother in 1930 his salary had been cut in half...far better than the total loss of work many had suffered in the Hoover/Republican depression.) He had been told that if if he were ever seen entering a church, even for a friend's funeral, he would be expelled immediately. He had decided not to join and managed to survive the depression without help. About a decade ago things have totally changed. I understand the church no longer objects to members joining, and the Masons welcome Catholics. I wonder how this change came about.
~DAGON (John Boardman). I missed the de Camp book SWORDS OF VENGIBIND (spelling?), and I loved his Viagens series. I will have to look for it at Readercon or Worldcon.  Fen having fun with the excesses of the bondage and S&M porn in John Norman's GOR novels reminds me of a poster Sandy described to me in a con huckster room. It's title was "Smerfs of Gor" and I leave its description to your imagination.  You speculated that if the slaveholders' rebellion had been successful the CSA would have allied itself with Germany in both world wars. I see your reasoning that it would have been a natural ally of Hitler as both had similar racist agendas, but what would have been its attraction to the Prussian empire of WWI? I would think that if the CSA had succeeded, both countries would have been so weakened by the war that they would not have played a major role in world affairs, but would have been bit players on the order of Paraguay and Uruguay. Mexico would have retained the Gadston area and California, Russia Alaska, and Canada Oregon. Of course the Panama canal would never have been finished and Panama would have remained a part of Colombia. There would not have been a spanish American war and Cuba and the Philipines would have remained Spanish. // Since the slaveholders considered "states rights" so important the CSA would not have had a strong central government, and would it have remained a single nation? I have only read two alternate history novels with a successful rebellion, Ward Moore's BRING THE JUBILEE and something serialized in SAT EVENING POST or COLLIERS about 40 years ago. I only have vague memories of both but seem to remember that in JUBILEE the CSA was the stronger nation and had long completed a transcontinental railroad while the US was only on the verge of doing so in the middle of the 20th century. Again, I do not expect either nation would have expanded to the Pacific, and didn't the South lack an industrial base? Why was it the stronger nation? The only thing I remember about the serial was at the end the two nations re-united and that Cuba joined too, as an additional state. I do not remember the author's justification but this was shortly after Castro had successfully ousted Batista from cuba to wild American cheers, but then relations soured and Cuba was an irritant. The author solved the problem by having Cuba avoid its dictatorship and subsequent revolution. Also, as I remember, the author seemed to portray the two nations as doing better separately and then rejoining to make an even better nation than what we have now. As I said, I would have thought that they would have become bit players on the world stage. How did the author justify the improved scenario? (Does Al Nofi get APA-Q or just DAGON? If he doesn't get the whole APA I want to send him ENTROPY to see if he has any comments on this matter.) ~hOW tOO (dON DEL gRANDE). Thank you for listing the broadcast history of TOM CORBETT, SPACE CADET. I had seen the show only during the time it was on ABC three nights a week from 6:30 to 6:45 and was totally unaware of its other network appearances. I thought I had watched it sometime during the school year 1949-50 when we first got our TV, but it must have been while I was in HS when your reference lists it it as being on ABC 1951-2. But you said your reference did not list shows before 7 Pm, so how did you get that ABC appearance? Other SF shows I watched during that period were the anthology shows OUT THERE on CBS and TALES OF TOMORROW on ABC (early Sunday evening and late Friday evening, if I remember).  Thank you for listing the FOX TROT books. The NFB is collecting books with blind characters and I will pass this information on in case they do not already have it.  I am very puzzled by your implication that the Windows ASCII character set is different from that for DOS though I have noticed problems when transferring documents back and forth between PC Write in DOS and Word in W3.1. I thought the whole idea of ASCII is that it was supposed to be machine independent for doing things like email. However when my wife uses "smart" or sexed quotes, I get really wild characters on my screen. My printer, a 7 +/- 2 year old Star Micronex, prints my characters. I had assumed it was simply that Word hijacked some ASCII symbols for its own use, not that the ASCII code itself was different. When I was still using my XT clone the screen reading software I was using would, for instance, say "controll b" (which is what I type to get boldface in PCW), but when I moved up to a 386 the screen reader would not work with the 101 keyboard and I had to get another one. My current screen reader, "Vocal Eyes," says "inverted happy face" which I do not like. I would rather know its keyboard value, or better still, have the option of knowing either. PCW simply puts in the right number of spaces when I tab, while Word puts in "small dot" and I have no idea of how to get that "small dot" when I want to export something to my wife's machine. (Or was it small circle? I don't remember.) You said DOS ASCII has lots of frame drawing characters. So that's what they are! I was puzzled by all the weird characters like "vertical line with two horizontal branches" when trying to explore my set to find the small dot or circle.
~QUANT SUFF (John mALAY). Found your trip to Disney interesting. I had been to LA in 1963, 1969, and 1975, and to Epcot only in 1989. Spent 4 days at Florida just before worldcon in 1992 with Sandy, Stanley, and NIEKAS co-editor Todd Frazier. We stayed in the campground and spent two days at Epcot and one each in MGM and Magic Kingdom. In the Norse pavilion enjoyed the ride through the world of trolls and giants. Friends had raved about a dinner-theater called "hoop-tee-do" which WAS pretty good. I had not realized there was a specific resort area but I suppose this was in it. Like you, we did stay away from the gut wrenching rides except for trying one. We did the tour in open busses at MGM where they splash the tourists during one of the "disasters." Then we went to an Indiana Jones stage show with lots of acrobatics, gun fire, and an exploding tank truck. This was our last day and my guide dog just slept through it. I was most interested in your report of the changes to Tomorrowland and its move to steampunk and humor. ALIEN ENCOUNTER sounds like fun.  I had never had any interest in Nevada or its spinoffs like Atlantic City. I had the impression of unremitting sleaze. I HAD been to Atlantic City with my parents around 1950, but of course that was not the same thing. I was in HS at the time and I only vaguely remember the boardwalk with its wicker sedan chairs and the "Steel Pier" with its exhibits and amusements. A bit like "Steeplechase Park" at Coney Island. I gather both Nevada and Atlantic City now have reasonable hotel and entertainment prices to get you there and then gamble all your money away. Have you been to either? If so, was the curiousity factor worth the trip?  Interesting about seeing the partial solar eclipse in the middle of a ball game. Around 1968 we had a partial eclipse here in central NH. I have a vague feeling that it was total in parts of Florida, because I remember watching on live TV a broadcast of totality and its effects on local fauna, and then going outside and using a 8 inch or so Newtonian telescope I had borrowed from the college observatory to project an image onto a sheet of paper, the safe way to watch. On the other a student with money had flown to a Central American country (Honduras?) on an organized expedition for the eclipse. Perhaps he went there because totality was longer. (I didn't lose my sight until 3 or 4 years later.)
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