The View from Entropy Hall (Online Archive) - From Ed Meskys - RR2 Box 63 - 322 Whitter Hwy - Center Harbor NH 03226
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Issue #29
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THE VIEW FROM ENTROPY HALL #29, July 14, 2001, for APA-Q #461, from Ed Meskys, RR #2 Box 63, 322 Whittier Hwy, Center Harbor NH 03226-9708, [email protected]. Back issues at {Corrections made after APA distribution in braces.} I guess this could also be called NIEKAS #46.1

I am starting this section June 26, 2001. I am sorry I have not had time to do anything for Q for a while now, and that I have few if any mailing comments. I just finished reading the April disty and found virtually nothing to comment on, tho I did enjoy the zines. I have just started the May disty and at the moment I cannot find my June disty, and the July one is about to come out. No way I will make it on time.

I have much more limited reading time now. Could those of you who write your Qzines on a computer and have email send me copies of your zines by email? That way I can read them without help. Mark, could you get John to give you DAGON on disk so you can email it to me? Thanks! I do promise to comment on any zines I get by email or on disk. I can use either text or Word files.

At Boskone I started distributing the first copies of NIEKAS 46, my first issue in 2.5 years, did more at Lunacon and Corflu, and mailed most of the rest.

I am having to re-evaluate many aspects of NIEKAS in view of the time it takes to produce an issue and the explosive escalation of printing and postage costs.

First, because I can only come out very infrequently, and have letters only in every second issue, some of those printed in #46 were very old and a number of authors had died in the interim. I think reader feedback is very important so wish to continue the letter col in some form. Fred Lerner made a suggestion that I establish a web site for all letters as they come in, and only print a small sampling when I am ready to print. My son Stanley is working on a NIEKAS website but very slowly because other obligations and interests leave little time. When it is ready and Stan gives me the address I will give it here. ENTROPY has been infrequent of late but I will try to do it as an Ezine at least twice a year. (Print copies will only be in APA-Q and a very few extras for those mentioned but without e-mail.) I will publish the lightly edited Lox here as they arrive.

Both printing and postage have gone way up and that is really hurting. Normal issues of NIEKAS used to cost about $700 to print, about $1 a copy, and the subscription copies paid for most of the trade, contributors' and people mentioned copies so the hobby cost only a little bit. We are not wealthy and I get static at home when my interests like fanzines or the NFB begin to cost too much. When I was ready to print #46 most printers were giving me an estimate of about $3000 for 750 copies. I was ready to spend a week in Boston running off the issue on NESFA's "Mr. Gestetner", paper, stencils, and ink coming to about $750, when I finally found a printer who did it for $1980. Unfortunately this wiped out the NIEKAS bank account, leaving no money for postage, and changes in PO rules made bulk mail impractical, and overseas printed matter rate is no more. (Currently it costs $1.30 to send a domestic copy by "media mail", $2.70 to send a copy by air to Canada (the cheapest rate!), $3.80 to send a copy to West Europe by "Slow Rate Letter", and $4.95 to send it to East Europe, Japan, and Australia by "slow letter" and $6.05 to send it air letter.) Also, at this price I will lose money on every copy sold thru a dealer, and drastically lose if I go thru a wholesaler which only pays 40% of cover price and requires me to pay shipping. I simply cannot sell the current issue thru wholesalers. Anyhow, #46 is MOSTLY mailed out and I hope to get the last few copies out when I get home from the NFB convention July 8.

For some time now every second issue has been on a single topic...dark fantasy, Andre Norton, a Sam Moskowitz autobiography, Silverlock, etc, and every second a general issue which might or might not have a focus SECTION on a single subject like laws of magic in fantasy, sports in SF and fantasy, or Kipling's influence on our field. The latter have the letter column, book review section, and articles and columns on a variety of subjects. I have given the single subject issues ISBNs and gotten them listed in Books in Print, and sell 2 or 3 a month to book dealers. Dark Fantasy was my largest issue ever, 120 pages, and I was especially proud of it. I had planned to make a major effort to market it as a trade paperback to help pay for future issues but because of its 8.5 x 11 format and a mistake in layout by the cover artist dealers said it looked too much like a magazine and said they could not sell it.

My most popular issue ever was the one on Arthurian fantasy, Once & Future Arthur. It went OP very quickly and I have since received much more relevant material, so the next NIEKAS will be a revised and expanded version of Once & Future Arthur and will be published in the more usual 6 x 9 trade paperback format. I will have to put at least a $16 price on the cover and because of escalating printing costs will have to call it a double issue for subscribers, #47-8. Subscribers have paid about $4.50 a copy with cover prices ranging from $4.95 to $9.95, but this will be just too expensive to produce to send out as a single issue. I will offer subscribers the option of skipping this issue and having their subs extended by one in place of it. And #49 will almost definitely have to be done on Mr. Gestetner!

More LoCs and replies to these LoCs will appear in Entropy #30 in a few months. Please keep the LoCs coming!

|From: Ruth Berman
Dear Ed,
Thanks for Niekas 46. Any idea when you'll be backtracking to do the planned Tolkien issue? [I hope that will be the next single-subject issue after ONCE & FUTURE ARTHUR RIDES AGAIN and after the next general issue, at least two years from now. ERM]

It's sad to note that Ben Indick's column, which he guessed might appear posthumously, in fact did so. [Ben Indick is still with us. ERM] and to note that Joe Christopher's column on songs also served as an In Memoriam to Buck Coulson. And assorted letter writers now lost to us, alas, as you pointed out....

Anne Braude's information on Douglas Adams' connection with "Dr. Who" was incomplete. He was not only the story editor for some years on the show but also the author of a couple of its sequences, one done in the normal way, "Pirate Planet," and later released for sale on home video, and one unfinished, "Shada," never completed and never aired, but later released for home video sale. Adams used the material in "Shada" as the basis for the first of his Dirk Gently books. (It was unfinished because it was interrupted by a strike, and the producers didn't manage to get back to it before a change in the casting of the doctor. It had Tom Baker as its Doctor, and for the home video he narrated bridging material to explain what would have happened in the unfilmed scenes.) One of the odder uses of Hecto (or possibly Ditto) that I've run across is in the manuscript holdings in the University of Minnesota's Kerlan Collection of Children's Literature on Marguerite Henry (an author best known for stories with horses as the main characters). She used to duplicate up a few copies of her manuscripts to send her editor and illustrator and agent and maybe a few others, putting in photos of the actual horses and locales and other such notes to guide the illustration. The copies have been stored away from direct sunlight and are still pretty legible, some half a century on, and even photo-copyable. The process is now so unknown, however, that the Kerlan's listing described the item as "mimeographed." (Maybe corrected by now, as I pointed out that the shiny paper and the purple print spelled spirit duplication. The very sight of it brought back the smell of the alcohol in the pan to me, and the feel of bits of purple coming off on my hands.)

|From: Cuyler Brooks
Hi Ed - Much thanks for the spectacular Niekas 46! Good article by Mark Sunlin on the possible origins of the Dragon myths - not completely convincing, but on the other hand I can't do any better. The lack of any physical remains is pretty conclusive.

I have never been able to work up much interest in sports, skiffy or not, but I did enjoy the two fragments of Roger McCain's A TERRITORIAL LAD that appeared in P W Frames' fanzine Wild Fennel in 1975. Apparently that's all that was ever published - at least Google finds nothing except an economics professor of the same name. This was a sort of baseball-fantasy-western.

I see nothing wrong with NESFA Press' advice to go to octavo--but your text font is about at the minimum size for the average reader already, so the same number of words will make for more pages. The one big advantage of "perfect" binding is that the spine can carry the title--on the other hand the saddle-staple is durable with no glue required. Whether to put full color on the cover would seem to me to depend on the art to be used.

The use of created memories in sexual abuse cases was a great scandal and injustice. I had not heard of what you describe, the John E. Mack book about sexual encounters with aliens, but I don't see where this is all that harmful. The witnesses presumably are not identified, and the aliens are not at hazard! You are quite right that the publishers are just after a fast buck - but the supposed "victims" may well benefit, both from having told their story and from seeing that they are not alone.

I always liked fiber paper, and did my mimeoed zines with a Rex Rotary whose ink is formulated for that sort of paper--there were a lot of zines done with Gestetners though, and that ink is formulated for a more ordinary paper stock. I still have both sorts of machines, and some supplies - which at the rate I am using them will certainly outlast me! It's too easy to make a LaserJet master and take it to the local copy-shop. I still have a spirit duplicator, and carbons, but no juice. I have been told that ditto juice is a mixture of methanol and water and ethylene glycol--since auto antifreeze is essentially pure ethylene glycol, I could make the stuff IF I knew the proportions.

I don't see why inkjet printing is necessarily impermanent--with the right ink and paper it seems to me that it could be as permanent as the books of the 18th and 19th century that are still with us. The main problem with the oldest fanzines I have is the fragility and darkening of the paper rather than fading of the image.

Fascinating article by Joe Christopher about Manly Wade Wellman's songs. I knew Wellman--I drove him to DeepSouthCon one year--and my recollection is that he always insisted that the song "Vandy Vandy" was collected in the Sand Hill country in North Carolina. Of all the songs quoted, this and the published version of "The Desrick on Yandro" seem to me to be the ones that may be older than Wellman himself. I have the Betancourt tape, and a much older record where Hoyt Axton sings "Vandy Vandy", but I don't really find either of them satisfactory. I am curious as to why the spelling "AMERIKA" appears in the title of this article. It is not historical and had a certain political connotation in the 60s - but what does it have to do with fantasy folksongs?

I quite agree with Ray Nelson. The response to art is a mysterious business - my own experience would almost lead me to believe is racial memory or reincarnation. Why do I find almost all abstract art a stupid joke - and yet like Joan Miro? Why did I have to hear Beethoven's Fifth a dozen times before I could make anything out of it, and yet knew at once that I would want to hear Orff's Carmina Burana as often as possible?

[I answered Ned's questioning the impermanence of laser printing/Xerography by quoting what was said at a Fanhistoricon a few years back (the one at a Boskone) to the effect that after a while the electrostatic force holding the toner will fade away, and the toner will fall off. Also, I mentioned that when I had interviewed for a job at Xerox in 1962 I was given a detailed explanation of how the machine works, and was told that heat melts the toner pellets onto the paper after it had been placed by the electrostatic force. Ned's further comments follow.--ERM]

Hi Ed - The image from an electrostatic printer was never meant to be held on by the charge - it is amazing enough that it can be formed that way! It lasts just long enough for the paper to pass through the heater, which fuses the image to the paper. If the heater fails the image will fall off immediately. There are a number of things which can interfere with proper fusing - bad paper, damp paper, damp toner, etc. Modern Xerox is so good that it is hard to tell it from litho without scraping a bit of the image with a sharp blade - the Xerox will come off, as it is ON the paper, while the litho image, made with liquid ink, is IN the paper. But good Xerox does not in general come off in normal handling, and cannot fade as the black is carbon. As with most things, there are fuzzy edges - in the 70s our office had a Dennison electrostatic copier which used liquid toner that smelled of kerosene. And still had a heater! As safety head I worried that it might catch fire! Before that we had a desk-size Xerox that did often incinerate the paper in the heater - however there was no further damage, we just vacuumed out the ashes and tried again.

A website is a great idea - my guess is that would host it for free.

|delphyne joan hanke-woods
thank you for Niekas 46... it came as a surprise... i have very little to do with fhandom and fhanzines, and when i appear in on it is a source of wonder... i shall attach a new illo which is electronic in origin... i hope you are able to put it to use... and i shall continue to enjoy Niekas...If i can think of something intelligent to say, I shall respond again... right now i am just sort of reeling under the old news (but new to me) of John Brunner's difficult time just before his demise... as you said, it seems incredible that such an accomplished individual should suffer such ignominy, to be so helpless when in need... bless his memory...

| From: Erika Maria Lacey
Hello Ed
My apologies for not having sent this LoC sooner. I wrote most of it before my inundation with assignments, then forgot to send it when all of the due dates started clumping together.

I have to admit to not having ever really followed sports. I've watched a few matches of rugby or cricket out of the corner of my eye when my father was watching it, but very little else. During high school I had the chance to play sports, unlike Nan, but chose not to ... I don't remember why, for when forced to do so I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Perhaps at the time I was still clinging to those "feminine roles" I have now since done away with following.

A con with only 30 people is a small one indeed. That's more reminiscent of some of the cons that we have in Australia -- I would hazard to suggest that should there be a fanzine con here in Oz it'd be as small. Maybe Jean & Eric's relaxacon up in Airlie Beach will get that number ... that's about how many turned up to the most recent relaxacon I'm aware of, the one held in Nelcon Bay.

With all of the stages of fandom, e.g. Seventh Fandom, as you reported, has anyone kept track of where we are now? We must be in 10x5th Fandom or something by now, seeing how quickly the early stages went by. Preserving the stuff that have gone by in the past is a good idea, and people have been attempting to do it, thankfully, for that means folks like me will be able to see stuff even when the originals have crumbled or are few in number now. I suppose that every fan who is living amongst non-fans (e.g. myself) should make up a will listing that all of their fanzines and other fannish stuff like photos, video tapes, slides, anything else, should go to somewhere like Fanac or Greg Pickersill or someone else. I know that should I kick the bucket tomorrow all of my books, fanzines, and other stuff would most likely find its way to some second hand store or thrown out, depending upon whether my family thought anything was of worth. This is very likely of a number of others, too.

It sounds like you must have a mansion or the like for your collecting. I have troubles with the stuff I'm always getting (collect books, fanzines, small press SF magazines from Australia, and postcards), but have to share with my family, who are not very interested in why I want to keep stuff, as they put it "I will never read again". Well, maybe not. But if I want to, I can always go pick up a book, flick to a certain passage, and read it. That's what I normally do rather than re-read, especially the stuff that is really awful. Good luck with the sorting and selling of what you have -- it'll take you some time!

I am not overly surprised by the Maoris killing all of the Chatlam islanders; hell, early white Australians did just that to the Tasmanian Aborigines way back ... I forget exactly when. The last Tasmanian Aboriginal while she was alive was a novelty, of whom a number of woodcuts and stuff like that survive. An entire race massacred -- these islands had people who, although looked the same as their neighbours, really were quite different. Sad to think about, really. Still the Australian government refuses to apologize for past sins, but as someone said in ANZAPA recently, whenever they *do* get around to apologizing for it the words will most likely come from a Prime Minister from Aboriginal descent.

Diana Gabaldon's series I followed for a while, back when I was still into romances a lot, for that was what it was filed under at my local library. I don't know that I want to follow them again in a hurry -- they're quite chunky, and although I read fast, this works against me in this case because I'd want to have them all there to read in one go. So I'll wait a decade or so until she's finished the whole lot and then spend a week reading the series. They're definitely in the romantic vein, though there's a lot more there. By definitions, I think those books are called "women's fiction" ... one-offs that become series do get that title as they're not all airy-fairy with nice rounded-off endings. In the larger bookstores one finds them amongst the women's books more often than not, though more and more I'm seeing the books appear in the SF section, and the local SF specialist bookstore has stocked them for years.

I have to agree with you regarding Diane Duane's books being good. I purchased a copy of SO YOU WANT TO BE A WIZARD from the second-hand store near the railway station where stuff normally goes for 50c. I was surprised at this once finishing the book. Someone obviously didn't like it; however, I've not seen any of the Harry Potter books appearing in that store. Perhaps people are keeping those because they have a bigger name. A lot of young adult books are incredibly "deep". When back in high school I read a lot of stuff that weren't marketed for adults, and loved them. I don't know how I'd feel about them now ... but there were some books (like Le Guin's EARTHSEA quartet) that I didn't fully "get". Having said that, perhaps it is time for me to re-read it. Tamora Pierce I found when in high school and loved. I made some trouble for my school by ordering one of her books through them when I found that it wasn't available through normal bookstores and they weren't willing to order me a copy. The librarian was not impressed at all with me.

Marion Zimmer Bradley is one writer whose earlier works I haven't been able to get around to read as yet. Checking my personal library catalogue, it appears that I have a couple of her works. I've no idea whether they're part of the DARKOVER universe but I suspect not. The MISTS OF AVALON and those other really well known ones I've read, more because they were sitting on the paperback section of the library than anything else. Being so well renown in the feminist SF sphere, regardless of her not liking it, I should get around to the DARKOVER ones.

Having only heard of Moskowitz posthumously, I've listened to much ... he was awful, he was fabulous, he was everything in between. I don't know which was the real him, but he certainly sounds like a character for people to keep talking about him. I have a feeling they'll still be talking about him decades from now, if only in timebinding fanzines, or folks like me saying "I heard that ...". Upon first reading of the Indick-Moskowitz drama, I thought, "how juvenile". But upon some thought, I guess it wasn't, though probably a lot of people got tired of the whole thing, especially if around those two when they were discussing it!

My favourite, ballads. The good thing about the internet is that I can download heaps of them, where they're not available on radio or would cost me all of my limbs to get. I don't believe I've ever really wanted to look at them deeply, nor have done so for anything but poems when in high school. It suddenly occurs to me that I'm talking a lot about high school, a place I'd though I'd left for good. I'll stop.

Ray Nelson's little piece struck a chord. I'd been reading it at a friend's place on their couch while waiting for my next class to start, and I just yelled out "this is *it*!" They didn't turn a hair: used to stuff like that from me. Most of the people I come in contact with don't get why I like what I do, or anything. I constantly find myself defending my position, which is irritating to the point that often I prefer my own company to others. Sometimes it's just not worth the bother. Well, I do watch telly, but then again it's often ones that other people wouldn't be caught dead watching. I wouldn't be caught dead watching something like BIG BROTHER, which most of the people I listen to on the way up to uni on the trains in the morning seem to.

While I read everything on the sports and SF, there is little that I find myself wanting to comment on. I've always suffered from an excess of verbiage, but in this instance I'm a bit wordless. Not that I didn't think it was interesting -- far from it. Just that sports never really hit it high on my spectrum of important things. Baseball especially isn't big here in Australia. If a lot had been mentioned on swimming or rugby, then I'd know more about it! Although, I never knew that chess, bingo, scrabble and writing were considered sport. Competitive, sure. But sport?

The piece on technology for the blind gave me a lot of information about what's available that I didn't know before. There's not much ever available for people to pick up and know ... e.g. university publications. There seems to be something for just about everything else. I don't know about being plugged into a network all of the time, though -- it'd take a lot of self-talking ... ah, hell. I'd probably one of those first in line once it'd been used on people for a couple of years and they've not walked away vegetablised. Just the thought ... though that would make it hard for people at educational institutions to be tested. They go to classes, or not; if everything's there for them to access at a moment's notice, what would be the use? Electronic education, perhaps? Hmm. This is sounding more and more like a book I read back ... in high school, okay, I mentioned it again ... that had this domed city. There were people outside, but those inside shaved their heads and had little boxes attached to the nape of their necks, which would educate them. As I recall, the moral of the book was that the people inside the dome were evil for xyz reasons, and the hero (think it was a guy) got away and out to the "natural" world. Natural's all a matter of perspective.

So, we don't really know the origins of the dragons beliefs. People don't really believe in them anymore, and any mention of fantasy results in "oh, children's books with dragons and fairies in them". Yes, but not the kind they're thinking of! Maybe they're either a) part of the fairy world, and have magically disappeared back into it or b) the UFOs brought them! Of course, they had to take them back with them later on. I've always thought the fact that the myth is so pervasive in many cultures interesting, but I doubt that anyone'll come up with any real answers as to why. If scared of snakes, why not then a huge giant scaly snake being rather who spits poison than one that's dragon-like? Maybe a pile of infiltrators took the myth with them from place to place ... ah, ignore me. Flights of fancy take me off again.

Boardman's review of Haldeman's FOREVER novels was enlightening, though I did take exception to the "effete peacenik" comment. I've only ever read a novella set in the FOREVER universe ... I'm getting the feeling that I'm terribly unread now. Wars are pretty useless in my not-quite-so humble opinion; something that probably could be avoided in a great many areas. One of my favourite trilogies a while back was Timothy Zahn's PROTECTOR series (I think that's what it's called, anyway. I've not read it in 5 years or so). It showed the views of both sides and that the war was based on a misunderstanding. I nearly went mad trying to find the last book of the series; I was that into it! STARSHIP TROOPERS (the movie), now, was hilarious. It's one of the few movies I've not minded watching twice ... it was a spoof, and I don't believe that it was meant to be taken otherwise. The book I read before the movie came out, and one good thing about the film was that it made people read the book. It had a large number of reservations at the local library when the movie was released. Okay, that's about all I can find the time to scribble for now.

|Joseph T. Major
When I was at college it was made brutally clear that ball players were a pampered aristocracy exempted from obeying the rules. Having been personally harassed by football players who were allowed to do so without any objections from authority I think I can say that. (unless you are one of those ideologues who blithely assert that as a member of an oppressor class I cannot be oppressed. One of these people-a sometime contributor to this zine went on to deny having any ideology, while consistently, firmly, presenting and advocating an ideology.)

The result of this treatment has been that I have become alienated from my university; I do not answer pleas for donations, which I think would be used, no matter how intended, to further the wasteful and meaningless sports program. But, like most managerial classes these days, the people who make policy are insulated from its negative effects. That is, there is no point complaining, since I would only receive a meaningless "bedbug letter"-in this case, no doubt sharing an envelope with a plea for more donations to the school so they can expand the academic program (with more sports training designated as classes so the dumb ath-a-letes can have their credits), get more books (or subscriptions to lads' magazines for the team), augment the physical plant (a team dorm with hot and cold running maids), and so on.

John Mack is only the tip of the vast and growing movement. You are fortunate there is a gfilter. I have seen, for example, a book by a woman who explained how she discovered that she and her husband were both married to aliens (not each other, of course) and that there was a vast subculture of aliens abducting and marrying humans.

In the '60s, I had a brief burst of interest in reading about "flying saucers" and at that time it seemed that the "contactee" movement was the derided fringe of a movement striving for serious acceptance. Now, of course, the "contactees", redesignated "abductees," are the mainstream-and with people like Mack, Philip Corso, Courtenay Brown, Whitley Striber, etc. involved, a movement with serious acceptance.

The appeal is to the paranoid spirit in human nature. If they were not talking about how MJ-12 is the Secret Government of the country, they would be blaming it on the Zionists, Commies, Gypsies, or whatever. Corso, for example, claimed that all the technical advances of the '50s and after came from the crashed flying saucer found near Roswell.

A useful book, which for that reason you may never get, is Curtis Peebles's {Watch the Skies!}, a history of the slow progression of the Flying Saucer mythos from the alien wisdom to the signs of a vast conspiracy of Them against Us. [published by the Smithsonian-after seeing a review in, I think, Scientific American, I bought a copy at the Air & Space Museum bookshop.-ERM]

I had thought that Brunner's problems stemmed from 1) being treated with Stelazine, which like psychoactive medicines in general is extremely damaging, both physically and mentally, and 2) having invested time and money in writing a historical novel, {The Great Steamboat Race}, about a steamboat race (duh) on the Mississippi in the late 19th century, which book did not at all sell well, with the result he was broke and exhausted.

But the Maori are Indigenous People in touch with Gaia. Only White Male oppressors would do anything like exterminating the inhabitants of an island because "why shouldn't they?" I expect that some young postmodern scholar will soon produce a revisionist work exculpating the gentle sensitive Maori from this horrid crime. (In an intellectual climate that finds Aztec human sacrifice to be acceptable since the sacrifices were doing what they longed to do, this is not at all incredible.)

Diana Gabaldon is the most obvious of a new field of fantasy writers, one that has available to it a vast and loyal audience, one far outnumbering that of conventional SF&F. I refer to the growing field of "time-travel and futuristic Romances." In your bookstore, next to the young woman with the long flowing hair and long flowing dress being crushed in the arms of the Regency buck and the young woman with the long flowing hair and long flowing dress being crushed in the arms brawny lifeguard (actually a billionaire or prince gone slumming) there is a young woman with the long flowing hair and long flowing dress being crushed in the arms of a spaceman, or the prehistor ic stud. An attempt by a representative of this field to make contact with "our" fantasy group was ruthlessly crushed, in perceptive self-defense.

Diana Paxson: I remember when writers used to be ashamed of the fact that they were, sometimes, "Franklin W. Hearing Dixon" {???} or "Victor Appleton" or other ghost names.

{Arabian Knight} is available on video as {The Thief and the Cobbler}, if anyone is interested.

{Mad} did an item that explained that various famous people did not exactly say what they were reputed to have said. For example (they said) someone asked the Duke of Wellington if he had been in any serious fights he replied, "{{The Battle of Waterloo was won! On the fields of Eaton}}, however, I got into a worse one. That was where I got hit across the shins with a cricket wicket." This got elided to the part in boldface.

Ruth Berman: Could the editor who said that the backgrounds of a fantasy are too similar to be interesting have merely been tired of seeing general Celtic Fantasy, generic Barbarian Fantasy, and generic Medieval Fantasy over and over again? As for Davidson, by the time he got around to writing the Dr. Esterhazy stories, he was slipping into his final phase, where he merely described a set of weird characters and exotic backgrounds and went to sleep. When he actually did something with them (e.g. the engineer of whom it was prophesized "Water should be thy fortune and water thy greater misfortune") it was striking; When he didn't, it was boring.

David Palter: The problem with Arthurian novels was best expressed by Darrell Schweitzer, who said (in a review of {The Mists of Avalon} that the story is so well-established that to be successful a writer would have to be really good. (I would wonder why such a good writer would limit himself so. If Tolkien and Lewis had written only Arthurian novels, would we remember them? I know, I know, it's "one cash novel and then I'll find myself," a rationalization harder to credit after the publication of {Sir Tratyn, Runewind} #27.) Moreover (me now), writers find it easier to substitute exoticness for quality; reversing the roles and having violent Christians invading virtuous pagans, or having villains being just misunderstood, and so on.

[in a later letter]
Immensely tremble! I am reviewing Niekas for No Award!
And immediately I hit a note: You mentioned _The Kid Who Batted 1.000_ and wondered if it were about a player who could hit well but not run. Well, no. I read the book when I was in grade school. The "Kid" actually batted 0.000. He swung at almost everything and fouled it all out. As a result, he got on base every time he went to bat--because, eventually, he accumulated enough balls to get a walk. But, because he did get on base every time he went to bat, a sportswriter wrote about him saying that in effect he batted 1.000.

[I asked about the rooster standing on the kid's head in the dust jacket picture. ERM]

The "kid" worked on a chicken farm. The scout who found him was a pitcher whose arm had gone lame, but the kid had some salve based on chicken fat and broth that restored his throwing arm.

|Lisa Major
I finally managed to shut the cats out long enough to read the marvelous Niekas. Truly a wealth of material, which my poor writing ability will prevent me from loccing it as I should but perhaps you'll be charitable and give me some credit for trying.

Regarding sports, I've always been a horse racing fan. The neighbor across the street introduced me to it when I was very young and I never lost my love for the magnificent Thoroughbreds. I also enjoy biking although most serious bikers would laugh at my single-speed antique.

I always thought Tunis's His Enemy His Friend an excellent book but haven't read anything else by him.

I liked Diana Paxson's article on Bradley. I wonder if Hawkmistress, my favorite of the Darkover books, was written to keep creditors at bay or if it was one of the ones Bradley was able to take some time with.

Ray Nelson's article reminds me of the scene in Glory Road where the hero is fed up with the mundanity of life following a tour of duty in Vietnam.

Mike Ashley: There is a feline disease called feline AIDS. It killed one of Elizabeth Garrott's cats.

|Lester Mayer
I've skimmed #46 a bit but I'll give it a more thorough going over when I have the time. I'm delighted that you still have material by and about SaM. As long as you keep printing this I will be a subscriber to NIEKAS. From my point of view they broke the mold after he was born. It's lonely out there now.
Lester Mayer

|David Palter
Dear Ed, Well, I have received NIEKAS 46, and I am ready to comment. It is truly fascinating for me to see my various comments on previous issues finally published, in some cases 8 years after they were originally written. NIEKAS is not only a fanzine, but also a time capsule.

First I want to comment on the enclosure which you included, of some recent discussion of retroactively awarding a non-fiction Hugo to the book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. As you might expect, I find that proposal to be absurd. Although the book was written by a science fiction writer, it nonetheless has nothing to do with science fiction. In fact the book falls into a category which you discuss in your current editorial, that of sheer exploitation. A more accurate title for the book would be Dianetics: A Recent Pseudo-Science of Self-Delusion.

Overall, NIEKAS 46 is successful in its objective, of presenting an informative study of the subject of sports in science fiction. It is a fascinating quirk of human psychology that we devote so much attention to the artificial and arbitrary problems of sports, while often devoting much less attention to more real and pressing problems. In general I am not a sports fan, yet I too have found some excellent sports-related fiction. In general, whatever people care about - wisely or foolishly - must be reflected in some way in works of fiction. And sports, like many other matters, are in themselves growing more science fictional, as we progress into our ever-more-technological future. I have heard very serious discussions in sporting circles, of the problems expected to result from the use of genetic engineering to manufacture better athletes; this is now expected to become a bigger problem than that of steroid and other drug abuse by athletes (even though at the present time, no such genetic engineering has been done). There is already a surprising amount of research about which specific genetic characteristics lead to better performance in which specific sports. It's quite bizarre. I am going to take a philosophical stand on the burning issue of current and future corruption of athletics, whether by drugs, genetic engineering, or whatever. Rather than endlessly struggling to find ways to prevent athletes from cheating, in order to create a level playing field for everyone, a struggle which grows more difficult every year and which ultimately must fail, let us address a more serious underlying problem, which is that we have allowed athletics to become too important in our world. Athletics has its place, beyond doubt.

Whether we are any good at sports or not, we can all have a certain amount of fun by participating in them, and we can all benefit from a modicum of physical exercise, and we can even enjoy observing the athletic accomplishments and contests of others. However, the elevation of sports into a huge national priority, with vast amounts of money being paid to athletes, and vast amounts being spent on athletic events, with obsessive public concern about the outcome, and weird nationalistic passions being invoked, as if your country is in some way actually at war with some other country, because your sports team is competing against theirs, is not healthy. It is a symptom of our immaturity as a species. We will have to get over it. And when and if we do get over it, suddenly we will no longer have any problems with athletes cheating by way of drugs, genetic engineering, or other means. Winning should not be so important as to even motivate people to cheat. Sports should be played for fun, period. No other reason.

As a Canadian immigrant, I am required to have a certain knowledge of our national sport, hockey, and therefore I am able to correct a minor inaccuracy which appears in Anne Braude's article. She states on page 27 that hockey is a supposedly non-contact sport. Actually it isn't. It is part of the game of hockey for players to interfere with other players by colliding with them, a move known as body checking. One may or may not approve of the practice, but that is nonetheless what the accepted rules of hockey dictate. Of course, that does not mean that hockey players can therefore assault other players as violently as they wish. Body checking is part of the game. Hitting players with a hockey stick is not supposed to be part of the game, although of course, it does sometimes happen. So Ann Braude is correct in observing that violence has become a problem in hockey. But it IS a contact sport, in which limited violence is part of the game. Perhaps we as a species can someday create a kinder, gentler world, in which hockey truly is a non-contact sport. I for one would be in favor of that reform.

On page 38 I have observed that Rudyard Kipling was a racist, even if he was not malignantly racist, I am cleverly challenged by Anne Braude, who asks me (perhaps rhetorically) if I consider the Bosnian Serbs to be my moral equals. If I regard the Serbs as my moral inferiors, then I am making a racial judgment much in the way that Kipling did, which shows that I am in no position to criticize him as a racist. But if I do consider the Serbs to be my moral equals, then I would apparently be saying that I am no better than a vicious war criminal. A terrible dilemma. But the reality is that I do not judge anyone by their race, regardless of whether they are Serbs, or Germans (who have in the past committed even worse crimes than the Serbs) or Arabs (who are currently more of a threat to my own ethnic group, than are the Serbs) or any other group. We are all, first and foremost, human beings. As such we all have an innate capacity for either moral or immoral actions. So, although many Serbs in the past decade have been involved in horrendous, evil acts, other Serbs have courageously opposed that evil. If I were to meet an individual Serb, hailing from Bosnia or anywhere else, I would make no assumption concerning that person's moral character, but would have to observe him or her, to learn about it. The fact that many Serbs are guilty of great evil does not make Serbs an evil ethnic group. Because, historically, EVERY ethnic group has found itself in situations, from time to time, in which it has committed great evils. That's just the way people are, it is not a characteristic of any specific ethnic group. So, although I am morally superior to some individual Serbs (and to some individual members of every other ethnic group) I make no blanket judgment about my moral superiority to all Serbs. I do not doubt that there exist some Serbs who are morally superior to me. I may never meet them, but they exist, somewhere. Even now, they are struggling to improve Bosnia, Serbia, other Balkan countries, and to overcome the bitter legacy of racism.

Americans (of which I used to be one, before becoming a Canadian) like to believe in their own moral superiority, as the guardians of freedom and democracy everywhere in the world, but America has committed war crimes fully as horribly as any crimes committed by Serbs. The Vietnamese War was the most spectacular example of this, although certainly not the only example. But this does not mean that Americans are evil, only that SOME Americans are evil. Thus, I also do not claim any blanket moral superiority to Americans.

It would, however, be a meaningful question for me to compare my moral state to that of the human race as a whole. As human beings go, I consider myself to be of above average moral quality. But I don't expect anyone to necessarily take my word on it. Few immoral people ever admit to their own immorality, and most are not even aware of it. Most people are carefully shielded from ugly truths by a shell of self-serving delusions. We are not a very attractive species.

Hope that answers your question, Anne.

Although I essentially agree with W. Richie Benedict's review of the novel Ash Ock, a more insightful review would require familiarity with the entire Paratwa trilogy, which, as it happens, I have. The first volume, Liege Killer, is the best, and if Christopher Hinz had let it go at a single volume, rather than drawing it out into trilogy, the result would have been vastly more satisfactory. Liege Killer is a wonderful novel, one of the most fascinating that I have ever read. It depicts a sinister race of artificially produced soldiers, the Paratwa, and it apparently makes a very trenchant observation about the human race, that in our military obsessions we would foolishly create the instrument of our own destruction. That point may seem overly obvious, but this novel presents it in a particularly exquisite manner. But then, in subsequent volumes, Christopher Hinz winds up gilding the lily. It turns out (SPOILER WARNING) that the Paratwa were actually not the product of human military research, but are the spearhead of a rather pointless alien invasion. And this, unfortunately, makes the whole series rather silly in the end. I was terribly disappointed to see the author sabotage his own creation.

I want to thank Jacqueline Lichtenberg for the information about the Theodore Bikel CDs. Purely aside from the fact that Bikel as an actor has been associated with several SF related TV series (and even appeared in the original Twilight Zone series) he is a folk singer of priceless value. I do intend to obtain at least one of those CDs (no doubt all ;four are worth having, but like most of us, I do not find it prudent to buy everything I want). I already have a fair amount of Bikel music on tape but have wanted for some time to have some on CD as well. And this is my chance. In your editorial you present us with the challenge of proving that you have drawn the wrong conclusion about the inevitable vulnerability of any ideal, pacifistic society, to any more aggressive society which may choose to destroy it. Since this question arises in an SF fanzine, it is certainly possible to produce an SFnal solution. In fact, I need only refer to the novels of several different authors, Theodore Sturgeon, Spider Robinson, and Joe Haldeman, to observe that the agreed upon remedy is universal telepathy. If all the members of the human race can telepathically merge into one gigantic group mind, then that mind will naturally direct its constituent parts to act in a suitably productive and non-violent manner. Only the insane practice self-mutilation, and one assumes that the human race in its totality, has sufficient mental resources to form not merely a sane group mind, but a truly great, super-human, and superlatively sane group mind (despite the insanity of many constituent sub-minds). In theory this solution works extremely well. In practice, the technological means to create any kind of telepathy, much less a vast, all-encompassing telepathy, do not yet exist, and may or may not ever be developed. If the technological optimism of Dr. Kurzweil proves to be correct, then this technology is already being developed, and we will have it in due course, probably this century. Personally I believe that nano-technology is going to prove to be a lot harder to develop, than optimists such as Dr. Kurzweil, or Vernor Vinge and many other SF writers seem to believe. And even aside from the problem of building a working nano-technological interface for the human brain, there are tremendous problems resulting from the fact that human brains, unlike Pentium microchips, are not standardized. Every human brain is different, and exactly what it might take to write a master program, capable of interfacing with all these different brains, remains to be seen. I'm not sure that this problem will ever actually be solved (although I would by no means be sure that it won't).

Short of universal telepathic merging of minds, there may be no other solution in a absolute sense, but there are certainly partial solutions, some of which are already in use. The country of Switzerland is pacifistic in that it never invades or threatens its neighbors, but it is also very well prepared for war, in the event that its neighbors fail to return the favor. And that's basically the only solution within reach of current technology. You can be pacifistic as long as you are not TOO pacifistic Moderation in all things, right? Of course, this solution is not completely satisfactory. It leaves us constantly having to guess how much military preparedness we really need. Do we really need the ballistic missile defense system which is currently being proposed by President George W. Bush? Hard to say. The balancing act required, in order for us to be moral in our own actions, while not vulnerable to the immorality of others, can be very tricky. But we have no choice but to make the attempt. That's the best I can offer you, Ed.

Ray Nelson's article "On Liking Clark Ashton Smith" is about as eloquent a statement as I have seen, as to why we are fans of SF - even though I find it odd that it is Clark Ashton Smith who is selected as the embodiment of the genre; I have enjoyed his writing, but he is definitely a minor author, and I could easily name twenty authors whose fantasy I like better. But why not. Ray Nelson likes Clark Ashton Smith, and he is fully entitled to that preference.

Mark Sunlin's speculation as to the origin of dragon mythology is entirely plausible, although it does raise some questions in my mind. If dragons were envisioned out of an evolved instinctive fear of snakes and cats, whose features become combined and magnified in this symbol of all that we most elementally fear, then why is it that so many people love cats and keep them as pets? And a smaller number even love snakes, and keep them as pets. And in the strange world of SF fandom, quite a lot love dragons (see, for example, the Pern series). Somehow these instinctive fears seem to be rather unreliable. But it may well be that as human beings become more civilized, we learn to overcome our instinctive fears. Certainly there is an instinctive fear of falling, yet some people take great delight in sky diving bungee jumping. So, Mark could be right. I also think that we really will never know. The true origins of dragon mythology are lost in the mists of pre-history. Maybe some very early creative story teller just made up a good story about dragons, which spread throughout the human race (at a sufficiently early period in human history, all human beings were part of a single culture) and has persisted to this day, as dragon mythology. I believe that even in Paleolithic man, some capacity existed for pure flights of the imagination. Of course, I can't prove it.

In conclusion, thanks again for another fascinating issue, and I look forward to NIEKAS 47.

[From a later letter]
Dear Ed, It really is remarkable, how e-mail speeds up a correspondence. I received NIEKAS 46 on Monday, and read it the same day. I e-mailed my reply on Tuesday. And on Wednesday (which is today) I received your reply to my comments (a positive reply, I am happy to see). And as you know, the savings in cost, for e-mail to multiple readers, can be enormous. Indeed, given the difficulty that you have had in paying for the printing and mailing of NIEKAS, it is very logical to start to depend more on e-mail. In theory, NIEKAS could be done entirely by e-mail. Although this means that those e-mailed issues would not exist in permanent form, it is still true that most people who receive e-mail also have printers, and can print out a hard copy of anything that they want to save, so (somewhat in the manner that higher levels of government sometimes shift the cost of some social program onto a lower level of government, a process known as downloading) you could effectively download the cost of printing onto your readers, while also eliminating the cost of mailing, entirely. Pretty economical. It does have the obvious drawback that not all of your readers are equipped to receive e-mail, as well as the fact that the magazine, if printed out on one's home computer system, will not look as good or be as nicely bound as the professionally published version. And you would not be able to distribute it at conventions, although you could make use of conventions to collect e-mail addresses of people who would like to receive it by e-mail. It would certainly change the nature of the fanzine. But compared to the problem of driving yourself into bankruptcy, in order to finance the old fashioned kind of publication system, e-mail is better. (Still, I admit that I am glad that issue 46 did come out in printed form, and not just by e-mail.)

Actually I have assumed for some time that fanzine fandom must be gradually shifting its emphasis away from paper publication and towards electronic publication, but since I have not been involved in fandom for some years, other than my correspondence with you, I haven't been able to actually observe this. But it does seem almost inevitable that the potential advantages, both in speed and in cost, of electronic publishing, will make it overwhelmingly the preferred medium for future fannish communication. I can add a few more comments about NIEKAS 46. ; Since my letter in that issue observes that my plan to move Israel to New Mexico is, as I put it, a good idea whose time has passed, I could now observe that I have a similar, but new plan to move Israel to Baja California. Admittedly, I don't really expect that the NIEKAS readership will like my new plan more than they liked the old one. However, I think we can agree at least that the progress towards peace in the Middle East has not been smooth. New ideas, therefore, might do them some good. Not necessarily MY new ideas, of course. I appreciate Ben Indick's feeling for his deceased parents, and his decision to visit their graves more conscientiously. I believe that all of us would like to think that our lives have been of enough significance that after we die, there will be at least some person who remembers us. Visiting graves is one way to show that we do indeed remember people who have played an important role in our own lives when they were alive.

However, I also believe that the whole practice of burying bodies in graves is overly inefficient, in a world where both the living and the dead are competing in ever greater numbers, for the same, fixed amount of real estate. Cremation seems like a much more sensible approach. Furthermore, if you have an urn containing the mortal remains of a person whom you wish to remember, you can take the urn home, and be with it every day.

Visiting a grave is purely symbolic, in the sense that being physically closer to the buried corpse of someone you once knew, does not really bring you closer to that person, who no longer exists (or, for the more religiously inclined, no longer exists on Earth, but is now in some kind of afterlife). Since we can symbolically remember people in any way we like, we might as well do so in a way that is a little more convenient and efficient. Of course, inconvenient, inefficient memorials will also have some emotional appeal, since they constitute greater evidence of one's sincerity. Those who make personal sacrifices to make a gesture of remembrance, must be sincere. However, we don't really NEED to prove our sincerity. To whom are we proving it? The dead? I don't think they're watching, but if they are, their observation is of a supernatural nature, and hence they will know how sincerely they are remembered, by arcane means.

I think there is also some theory to the effect that an impressive grave and headstone will be observed even by people who didn't know the deceased, during his or her lifetime, and hence that person will achieve some degree of public remembrance. (My own headstone would ideally carry the message "here lies David Palter who, once you got to know him, turned out to be a hell of a nice guy".) But really, this is an illusion. The general public doesn't care about the graves of people they never knew, and any lasting fame based upon the artistic quality of your headstone, is entirely negligible. We all have some urge to build monuments to ourselves, in the hope that our time on this Earth will not be forgotten, but in reality, the only monuments that matter are the ones that contribute to people's lives. Fanzines are actually monuments of this type. I'm sure that every fanzine fan would like to think that their own published work will continue to be read, at least occasionally, and at least by someone, after their own demise. And for some fanzine fans, this is even true. I think that NIEKAS constitutes a very impressive body of work, by which some people will be remembered (and a good thing, too, given the high mortality rate of NIEKAS contributors). But, just as the human race no longer entombs the dead in vast, and ridiculously wasteful pyramids, in the manner of ancient Egypt, so should we eventually give up our current burial practices in favor of something more efficient. In an ever more overpopulated world, efficiency is ever more necessary.

My brother Steven died thirty years ago, and I have not visited his grave since then, but I do not consider myself to be negligent. I certainly do remember him. I do not imagine that Steven is looking down on me from heaven, saying "why doesn't he visit my grave?" Actually, Steven would not have cared in the slightest, if he had no grave. Like myself, he was not a believer in the importance of funerary rituals.

Ah well, it is an overly morbid subject anyway. I hope I haven't been too depressing.

And on that cheerful note, I conclude my e-mail.

[And once more....]
Dear Ed, I did write to Bainbridge Records, as Jacqueline Lichtenberg advised in the current NIEKAS, and it turned out to be an invalid address. Bainbridge Records is no more. Indeed, my internet based research indicates that although the CDs that were mentioned in Jacqueline Lichtenberg's letter do exist, there is no longer anyone who is selling them.

It is not really surprising that the information regarding Theodore Bikel proved to be outdated. NIEKAS is not exactly the right publication in which to seek the latest, up to date information about anything. It certainly serves other, equally valid functions, but it doesn't serve that function. Anyway, this correction might as well appear in the new NIEKAS website that Stanley is working on.

| From: Marge Simon (Pen name--married writer-poet Bruce Boston in April 2001, so I'm officially Mrs. Bruce Boston).
Hi Ed!
This is a whopper with loads of good stuff! I haven't read it entirely but I did enjoy the article "I Hear Amerika Singing" (Joe Christopher). Folk songs and lore of the mountain folks have always been of keen interest to me. Was happy to see ol' Greg Gabbard resurface with more poetry too. Would be nice if you can list artist's names in the title page with the items they illustrate. Would be unthinkable not to mention Larry Dickison next time around! Isn't Larry "NIEKAS" illustrated per se? Loved his baseball alien cover and back cover with pitcher's ball going straight into the viewer on a camera! As usual, Dickison's art begs to be viewed and reviewed and..well, THINK about it!

In response to your editorial question, I wish NIEKAS could/will go to that smaller size perfect bound. Be easier to keep track of in bookshelves. TOTU has done it, but of course, it's not a "hobby"--it's produced by a fan association.

Hey Ann, I don't understand the rules in these sports games either. Do you play chess? The world of sports & games is a world beyond my scope. I do know how to play poker and bridge. If that's meaningful. And when younger, I was some kind of genius at table tennis. Ah, well. Off to walk the cat.

John Speer
Dear Ed.
Pat Mathews sent me the current NIEKAS because I was mentioned in it.

I don't feel much need to contribute to oral history, because almost everything that involves me has been set down on paper in fmz, Correspondence, etc. I agree that the numbered-fandom scheme breaks down about the time of the phony seventh. And I had to recognize by the names "proterofanish" and "eofandom" that much happened before my "First Fandom," of which I had known little when I wrote "Up to Now."

I don't recall that a hekto master after being placed on the gelatin was moistened. That would tend to make the pigment run. The only ghod whose color was purple was ghughu. Hektoed fmz in my files are more legible than reports would lead one to expect. In Synapse recently I reproduced a page from somebody's hektoed FAPAzine about 1939, a copy that endured the additional insult of immersion by flood at Snoqualmine, and it Xeroxed readably. How long will typical Xerox paper last?

I looked through the whole magazine, reading here and there. If it had been mine, there'd probably be many pencil marks in the margin to prompt comments.

I would have skipped all of the sports material but that I wanted to know what were the stefnic elements of the books and dramas discussed.

What Kurzweil tells sounds too good to be true. Origin of Dragon Beliefs/Myths: it seems unlikely that anything can be hereditary as specific as fear & loathing of a narrow fellow in the grass. Don't children sometimes play with them?

John Boardman hasn't learned anything in forty years. I didn't think he would.

Doesn't Egan err in saying Asimov was born in 1922? I thought he was born in 1920 like the rest of us.

"have fallen in love but not become lovers" is a curious circumlocution.

Why do you call yourself a Catholic? [Because I am-ERM]

Geoffrey Vasiliauskas"
Dear Ed
Thanks! I got the NIEKAS issue about 2 weeks ago, but I've been so busy I didn't give it all the attention it deserves. I have read most of it, I was quite impressed, even though sports is definitely not one of my favorite subjects. When sports comes on the television I have an allergic reaction and immediately start looking for the nitroglycerin tablets or the remote control, whichever is nearest at hand.

I actually DO have some comments on some of the things in NIEKAS< but my mind isn't fresh just now. I'll get back to you tomorrow on that. Please don't forget my address when the email supplement is ready, I'd love to see it.

That's all for now. Thank you again!
[and later....]
Hello Ed!
I'm sorry I'm late in writing, this computer is really behaving strangely. I wanted to say I have comments on the piece in NIEKAS 46 regarding the Maori and Chatham islanders, as well as Srebenica, which is pronounced Srb-e-nitza. In Serbian Serbia is spelled SRP, without vowels. In Serbo-Croatian, R stands as a vocalic, actually. Srb in Srebenica is of the same root, Serb, I believe.

You wrote as long as there are aggressors, no pacifist society can exist, then invited someone to prove you wrong. I would like to say, sorry, you are right, as long as we are talking about pacifist high civilizations. The answer I propose will sound like a throw-back to older days. I think the world needs to be divided up into small armed camps, armed with conventional forces. As long as we have nation-states and distinct ethnic identities, which I consider to be of great value, those groups have to be prepared to defend themselves, with violence if need be. The situation is not so bleak, really. As long as we are armed conventionally and leave nukes out of the equation, violence doesn't have to mean mass destruction. In native societies warfare is often ritualized to the point where few combatants actually suffer severe injuries. As we know, ritualizing atomic warfare is problematic. We all saw the Star Trek episode where that was attempted, and how innocent people died en masse. What we need is a world with less nuclear arms, not necessarily less armies.

I write you from Lithuania, a country occupied by the Soviet Union for most of 50 years. If somebody in the US knows that much, he probably doesn't know the Lithuanian partisans carried on attacks against the USSR into the 60s and 70s. After the Baltic states regained independence in 1990-1991, National Geographic did an expose which contained a page or two on an Estonian partisan who was intercepted by the KGB in 1974. They didn't catch the small old man; once they had slapped the cuffs on him, he jumped into a stream and wiggled away like a salmon.

In a nuclear conflict the Baltic states wouldn't stand a chance, and although they were defeated militarily by the USSR in the 20th century, it didn't have to be that way. Finland fought off a Soviet invasion. By making invasion scenarios too expensive in terms of men and materiel and hassle and loss of face, the Baltics can forestall any possible attempt by Putin's Russia. Of course, the Baltics want to join NATO, the only true guarantor of survival against the traditional enemy to the East. Armed resistance offers the possibility for the Balts to plan the future of their societies. And besides, since when does castration among the Chatham islanders make them the envy of modern utopianists?

Just some thoughts, not very well expressed.

I just saw the following short book-review in a recent issue of Scientific American:

An Instinct for Dragons by David E. Jones published by Rutlidge, NY. Many societies have a concept of and a word for the dragon, even though the creature never existed. Why? Jones, professor of anthropology at the University of Central Florida, thinks the concept derives from the experience of ancestral humans and pre-humans with three kinds of predators. He writes, "Over millennia the raptor, big cat, and serpent began to form as a single concept, the dragon, in the brain/mind of our ancient primate ancestors. Jones got his idea from the behavior of "burbit" monkeys in Africa. They have three different alarm calls that provoke three different defensive responses: one for the leopard, one for the martial eagle, and one for the python. Most of the 40 illustrations in the book portray dragons as different societies envision them. The common theme is that they look scary.

This reminds me of Mark Sunlin's article in the new NIEKAS, #46. I had received this article two years ago, so it was written well before the book was published. I guess when the time is right for a concept to emerge it will do so. Kind of like Heinlein's statement about "railroading time."

The fight between those who favor abortions under all conditions and those who oppose them under all conditions is as irresolvable as the fights betweens Jews and Muslims in the Middle-east, betweens Catholics and Calvinists in North Ireland, and that between slaveholders and abolitionists before the Slaveholders' Rebellion. I do not have militant feelings on either side, but stand off to the side and observe. If I understand it correctly, the original Supreme Court decision said that there can be no regulation of abortions for the first two trimesters but abortion can be restricted in the third when the fetus has achieved some level of humanity. Again, I might be wrong, but if I understood news stories correctly, a recent decision (Stenberg vs. Carhart [spelling?]) ruled that after an infant is born alive the mother can have it aborted and destroyed. Further, Peter Singer, Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, is urging that the right of abortion be extended to six months after birth. I assume the "choice" lobby is backing his extension of their right. How bizarre can things get?

Speaking of insurmountable differences to the point of irrationality, I see it between those who propose and those who oppose anti-missile defense projects. I remember as far back as the 1970 American Physical Society Winter meeting in Chicago seeing many wearing red octagonal lapel pins with the inscription "stop ABM. What brought this to mind was seeing at a library book sale Ben Bova's Assured Survival: Putting Star Wars in Perspective. I forgot to write down the copyright date but I believe it was from the time of the great Reagan push for the Margonet Line in the Sky.

I am skeptical that any defense could prevent a significant fraction of a massive attack from getting thru so I believe that Reagan's scheme was unrealizable. Even in the early '60s the US was working on schemes to protect its ICBMs from ABMs.

However the Soviet Empire did have to try to counter it just in case the scheme did work, and I believe that this had helped the Empire to self-destruct. The push did have some good spin-off benefits. Super lasers developed for Star Wars are being used in efforts to produce controlled fusion. Techniques to allow the missile killing lasers to penetrate the atmosphere without losing focus are being applied to help modern astronomical observatories overcome defocusing by atmospheric turbulence. And there are probably other benefits I have forgotten or not come across.

Now that the Soviet Empire is no more and we are at least nominally at peace with the Russian Federation, there is no credible contestant to U.S. hegemony which could mount now or in the near future a major missile attack. The arms industry is hungry because of the "peace dividend" and both political parties are scurrying to increase military spending in order to subsidize these industries. After all, they give major contributions to both parties.

My own feeling that the hue and cry about needing protection from rogue states is just another excuse to spend large sums of money to give corporate welfare to the aerospace companies. Now if this money were spent, instead, on furthering manned and unmanned space exploration and industrialization it would help the companies and be of benefit to mankind. And if a rogue state wanted to inflict damage they could just as easily smuggle in a small nuclear weapon (if one could fit inside a cannon shell 40 years ago it could probably be carried in a briefcase today.) or be in the cargo hold of a ship or airplane and exploded by a suicide anywhere in the U.S.

The current screaming debate between the pro new starwars and anti missile defense factions is illogical and purely emotional. Neither is mustering good arguments and they are merely trying to state their prejudices without being rational. They are conservative and liberal ideologues and do not listen to each other.

The typesetter accidentally left out of NIEKAS #46 John Boardman's column, "Nahil Humanum." I am presenting it in the NIEKAS website and here, though many ENTROPY readers will have already seen it in DAGON in a slightly different form a while back. It is John's remembrance of the late Marion Zimmer Bradley and I had wanted it in NIEKAS to contrast with Diana Paxson's remembrance. Here it is as it should have appeared in NIEKAS.

MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY (Albany, NY, 1930 -- Berkeley, CA, 25 Sept 1999)
Marion Zimmer Bradley was a living illustration of the saying: "If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade." She was born into a miserable family situation, survived two bad marriages, and became one of the most successful, influential, and highly regarded fantasy authors of her generation.

\Her life and writing career have many resemblances to those of H.P. Lovecraft. Her father came out of nowhere to marry a woman of an old American family of colonial stock and some small influence in our national history. She was a reclusive child who early developed literary interest in fantasy, though not for Lovecraft's reasons. As a girl she was sexually abused by her father, and retreated from this grim reality into the attic, where she found some old books about the Greek, Roman, and Norse gods and heroes, and about King Arthur and his knights. (She would eventually rework some of these stories from her own perspective in {The Mists of Avalon} and {The Firebrand}. Later, like Lovecraft, she developed her literary skills in amateur journalism. She published her first fanzine at 17, and was first published professionally in 1953. It was mainly as a fanzine fan, and a writer of fan fiction, that she was frequently cited in Dick Eney's 1958 FANCYCLOPEDIA ii.*

\In those days Marion observed that SF/fantasy fandom was the only sphere in which women were treated by men with complete equality. In later decades she retracted this observation, and found macho masculinity and male put-downs of women to be as common in fandom as elsewhere. This probably resulted from the large influx of new fans during and after the 1960s, which tended to graft the attitudes of general American society onto what had previously been a group of reclusive misfits--the sort now called "geeks" or "nerds"--who retreated into their clubs and fanac from a society that had little use for them. Prior to the middle 1960s, fans had largely been moderately progressive in politics, Agnostic or Atheistic in religion, and preferring peace to war. Compare this with the opposite situation today.

\The foundation of Marion's Darkover series was her belief that warfare is morally wrong if the attackers do not put themselves at as much risk as they do their targets. This is the heart of the "Covenant" which regulates life on the planet Darkover, and is clearly Marion's reaction to that great shadow over the childhood of her generation, the mass high-altitude bombing of civilian targets during WWII culminating in the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This is scarcely in the spirit of the famous single combats between David and Goliath, or Achilles and Hektor, or Beowulf and Grendel. And so Darkover became a planet with such a destructive war of magical forces in its distant past that its Covenant was adopted to reduce warfare to manageable and survivable proportions, and became the unquestionable basis of Darkovan society.

\When she began selling professionally in the 1950s, Marion ran into the problem that practically all editors, authors, and readers of SF and fantasy were male. She sometimes had to yield to editors' requests to re-write a story so this largely masculine readership could relate to it more easily. In later years, when she was able to argue editorial points from a better position, she re-wrote some of those early books, including {The Planet Savers}, {The Bloody Sun}, and {The Winds of Darkover}. This also helped her to fit her early works more easily into the "future history" that later developed around Darkover and other planets.

\Despite the fact that Earthlings travel in the near future to Darkover, and there interact with its inhabitants, these novels have to be regarded as fantasy rather than science fiction. In {Darkover Landfall}, the first book in the series with regard to its internal chronology, she tells how a shipload of Earthlings lands on the planet, and how the basis of Darkovan society is established, including a biologically impossible crossbreeding between humans and the intelligent, psychically gifted, and physiologically bisexual Chieri natives of the planet. This is a literary necessity to account for the psychic abilities (laran) which their remote descendants, particularly the {Comyn} aristocracy, possess when contact is re-established between humans and Darkovans in internally later, but earlier written, books of the series.

\Human-Chieri interbreeding was not the only scientific impossibility in the Darkover books. Once she described two of Darkover's moons that were in nearly the same direction but had markedly different phases!

\Regular readers of the Darkover books noticed a change in emphasis during the 1980s. As Marion became more popular, and better able to defend her manuscripts against editorial suggestions, these novels became more preachy. They became not so much fantasy adventure novels as expositions of the author's ideas about sexuality, war, and society.

\Marion's first husband had been a non-fan named Bradley, who she probably married just to get away from home. In one famous incident at a convention, he reacted violently against a fan who used the well-worn minor expletive "fugghead" to Marion. Unfortunately, by the time of the divorce she had become so well recognized under the Bradley name that she had to continue using it professionally.

\Many New York City SF , fantasy, and Creative Anachronism fans remember the house that Marion and Walter had in the late 1960s, in one of the less built-up parts of Staten Island, where several tournaments of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) were held. At the time their marriage seemed like a meeting of minds, since both were interested in fantasy and mysticism. (Walter once solemnly informed me that injuries seemed to take place at SCA tournaments only when Mars was in Taurus.) Both were bisexual, and as with most bisexuals time seemed to draw them further away from the other sex and closer to their own.

\Marion branched out from fantasy into other fields of literature. A famous early meeting of the Darkover Society took place at a YMHA in Borough Park, just after Marion and Walter had returned from England, where Marion had been researching a projected book about Captain William Bleigh. It was her intent to write a novel which would contradict the famous Nordhoff-Hall treatment of the mutiny on HMS Bounty, and would make it appear that the wise, competent, and prudent Bleigh was the victim of a conspiracy of lawless wharf-rats led by Fletcher Christian. As other Bounty revisionists have also discovered, this won't work, and Marion never wrote the book. When you discover that Captain Bleigh faced {three} mutinies in his life, you are forced to conclude that there were major deficiencies in his ability as a leader. [She mentioned still wanting to write the book in the 1980s. She also wrote a novel of circus life, {The Catch Trap.} --ERM]

\The trip to England had taken a lot out of Marion, and at this Darkover Society meeting her face was sometimes the color of a glass of tomato juice. It was then that there began a protective operation that followed her through later conventions--her young admirers would stick with her by turns to insure that she didn't exert herself too much. Marion's life was probably considerably prolonged by this strategy. [Sandy says that part of the fatigue at this first Darkover Grand Council meeting was due to Marion's having been up half the previous night playing D&D--ERM]

\Another comparison with Lovecraft was in the way that Marion would willingly help younger writers, in her case usually women, develop their own talents. At that same Borough Park meeting I heard her lecture her fans about the craft of writing. The only way you can learn to write, she wisely told them, is by writing. Do you have a job? Write in your free time. Do you have small children? Write when they are napping. Does your husband drag you into bed at 10 PM? Then get up at 11 PM and write. Is your husband a major obstacle to your writing career? Then get rid of him and maybe get another one.

\After they moved to California and their two children grew, Walter became more and more of a problem. Marion and Walter were for all practical purposes separated long before the big scandal broke about Walter and under-aged boys.

\In 1968 I was surprised to see Marion's name on the pro-war statements that appeared, in opposition to anti-war statements with more signatures, in {The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction} and in {Galaxy}. When we met at the 1973 Worldcon in Toronto I asked her about this, since support of a war like Vietnam seemed out of place from the creator of the Covenant of Darkover. She informed me that she had signed the pro-war petition because she had recently heard a high-school girl attack President Johnson vigorously for the war. Marion, who in many ways remained to the end of her days a conventional "Middle American", objected to hearing an uninformed youngster blast the president, and in reaction signed the pro-war petition.

\It was long after I first met Marion that I discovered that we might be distant relatives. Her mother had been born a Conklin, an old upstate NY Dutch family to which I am also connected by a 1797 marriage of one of my infamous Waldron ancestors. Upstate NY, with its rich history of legends, played a larger role in Marion's works than most people realize. She took the name of the Darkovan town of Thendara from a town in the Adirondack Mountains, where she grew up. Not far from Thendara is Old Forge, which reminds us of the Forge of Shaara, an underground religion that challenged the authority of the psychic {Comyn} aristocracy which ruled Darkover.

\Her brother, Paul Zimmer, with whom she collaborated on two excellent SF adventure novels, died a few years ago. She is survived by another brother, Leslie Zimmer, and by three children, David Bradley, Patrick Russell Breen, and Moira Breen Stern (who prefers to use the name Dorothy) and by two grandchildren.

*Fandom could use a FANCYCLOPEDIA III, extending this useful reference work to the present day, and being somewhat more objective than Jack Speer and Dick Eney had been in the first two editions. By now such work would be practically a lifetime career, so I have doubts that anyone is likely to undertake it. [LA fandom had Dick Eney as fan GoH at the 1984 Worldcon and had tried to produce a FANCYCLOPEDIA III to honor the occasion. They are still working on it and I believe there is a web site with those entries which have been completed.--ERM]

|Fred Lerner
I've seen kosher bison for sale at the Westville Market in New Haven, at prices from $12 to $20 per pound, depending on the cut. At those prices I didn't buy any! I understand that kosher venison is available in some places, though apparently not at Westville.

I wouldn't want to be the guy who has to schecht [slaughter] the bison!

I just received a review copy of a new book from Ace which should be reviewed on page 2 of John Boardman's DAGON, where he mocks various newage (as he puts it, rhymes with sewage") idiocies. The book is Denny DeMartino's WAYWARD MOON, Ace, 2001, $6.50. The front cover says "A forensic astrologer knows where to look for clues-in the stars...." And the back over says "The astrologer "a new dimension of justice "In the year 2130, the discovery of zero-point gravity changed everything. Now, the afterlife is no longer a mystery. Interplanetary travel is possible-and increasingly popular. And forensic astrologers like Philipa Cyprion are solving crimes by way of the stars....

"Artimas Hadrien and I never thought we'd end up on the Baderes space station. But here we are, a Terrapole Lieutenant and a forensic astrologer, on one of the toughest cases in either of our careers....

"Duriken Sunteel wanted to be a hero-and died trying. She was only seconds away from resuscitating a dead planet when her life force was ripped from her body. Who's responsible for her death? Well, that's what we've come to find out.

"The truth is, I've been feeling uneasy ever since we arrived. For one thing, this place is swarming with weird-looking aliens. For another, the administrator is a phony if I've ever seen one-and believe me, I've seen plenty. It's a tough situation, but what can I say? I'm working hard, running scared, and keeping my head-or trying to. "

Sandy has pointed out that I am judging the book by it's cover...I mean blurb. Sometimes blurb writers do horrible injustices to fine books. She reminded me of the blurb on an early edition of McCaffrey's THE SHIP WHO SANG said "

"A cyborg may be loving and capable of transference and grief, as in the Helva stories of a cyborg ship. A cyborg may have a pathologic personality, making the union of brain to battle machine potentially dangerous..." Medical World News.
"is a woman's brain in the body of a ship:
"is neither human, nor a ship:
"is both human and machine:
is entirely feminine:
"(And so much stronger than any male born that there isn't even a comparison):
"complex, loving, strong, weak, gentle, savage:
"is a swinging gal."

See you next time

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