illo by Phil Tortorici
Mimosa Letters

{{ The response from Mimosa 7 brought us several hours of pleasant reading, plus several days of work editing and preparing this letter column. We appreciate all the comments we receive (whether or not they're printed in our lettercol), and we do pass them along to the contributors. Of the four articles from last issue, there wasn't a clear winner in terms of reader response. This is actually good news, because it tells us the issue was fairly even in content and quality. First up are some representative comments about Skel's article about fanzines and fanzine fandom...}}

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Jeanne Mealy, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Skel's view of what fanzines do and how they've changed {{ "No Way to Stand Kansas" }} seems pretty accurate to me. It's possible to present a well-thought-out argument or discussion when there's time to ponder and polish the final product. It's also a place to play around -- to be child-like, as Skel says. But too many folks are getting Serious about the playground, eh? True, I haven't seen that many really humorous and fanciful things in zines lately. They're full of renditions of what fans did in various situations, how-to instructions (moving, sharing a room at a con, which con to choose), reviews (books, movies, TV, cons).

Now, I happen to find all of these things fascinating -- the fannish viewpoint is very entertaining when expressed well. Reminds me of the time at work when someone asked me what I was thinking about. I had been mentally rambling between thought of that night, the weekend, and upcoming trips to cons. I was tempted to answer that I'd been time-traveling, but realized how long it'd take to explain to a non-fan and instead replied that I'd been generally thinking about upcoming plans. How entertaining just plain Life can be presented depends on the fan writing about it -- I'd wager that a large number of us are Walter Mitty types, full of fanciful daydreams and creatively misheard words and phrases...

Skel is disappointed that the fanzine picture seems to have switched back to black-and-white Kansas, yet his writing is some of the most colorful and imaginative in zines these days.

I disagree that fanzine fandom can't exist on its own without being a subsidiary of Social Fandom. Granted, I greatly appreciate the times I get to meet other zine fans in person -- but I accept that I can't afford to visit everyone, and there are a lot of people, whose written presence I can accept better than their three-dimensional self.

illo by David Haugh
Dale Speirs, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Despite Skel's disclaimers, I remain unconvinced that fanzines are not what they used to be. We are all of us convinced that the newer generation isn't as exciting as we were. I am shocked that many kids these days never heard of Canned Heat or Pink Floyd, and would rather listen to the garbage that passes for rock music. They in turn are amazed that I have never listened to Paula Abdul or INXS. So it goes with fanzines. Skel would rather live in Oz instead of Kansas, but Oz wasn't all it appeared to be on the surface.

{{ What we're afraid will happen is that future fans will look back on this era as "Oz." }}

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Joseph Nicholas, London, United Kingdom
Of all the items in Mimosa 7, my attention was particularly caught by Paul Skelton's "No Way To Stand Kansas," bemoaning the dearth of fanzines being published these days and suggesting that fanzine fandom had changed so much that there was little to differentiate it from the rest of fandom. (I paraphrase, naturally.) To which I say: absolutely -- because growth and decay are an inevitable part of the process of historical change, and it would be foolish to expect that fanzine fandom should somehow remain isolated from it.

Paul states that "whatever it is or was, fanzine fandom is no longer serving the same sort of function," and I would agree unhesitatingly. But for different reasons: he has it as a form of intellectual play, whereas I would argue that it was a product of the social and economic conditions that prevailed until relatively recently -- to whit, that the opportunities for travel were limited and expensive, that there were very few conventions for fans to attend, and that fans themselves were not exactly rolling in wealth. People published fanzines because that was the only way in which they could afford to communicate with each other. To compare the heydays of fifties and seventies fanzine production with the present, however, is to notice immediately the greater affluence of the majority of fans, the greater number of conventions for them to attend, and the vastly more extensive and relatively cheaper travel opportunities available. In the past, a weekend trip to Paris would have been a major undertaking requiring months of planning -- but now I can book a flight to the other side of the world simply by quoting my credit card number over the phone (itself a demonstration of the effects of technology upon society). With such greatly enhanced opportunities for face-to-face personal interaction, the need to publish fanzines is consequently much reduced -- and although I wasn't at Rubicon, I can well understand the views advanced during the panel discussions on which Skelton quotes Mal Ashworth's later comments. I haven't read those comments; but from the portion excerpted it seems as though Ashworth might be ignoring the change of function outlined above.

One other reason for the decline of the fanzine might be that fanzine publishing is no longer the only model of fannish endeavour available to the newcomer. Once upon a time, it was fans' only participatory activity -- but the growth of fandom in general during the seventies and eighties has resulted in its fragmentation into a variety of discrete interest groups, any one of which has the potential to draw off the newcomer into something other than fanzines. One example that springs immediately to mind as far as Britain is concerned is convention-running, which once seemed the near-exclusive preserve of a group of "established" fans to whose ranks one was admitted only after years of effort, yet which in the past decade has boomed to such an extent that virtually the first thing a newcomer does after entering fandom is set up and chair a bidding committee. The British convention calendar is now so full that one could attend a different one virtually every other weekend; peanuts in American terms, yet a huge change from the four or five conventions available each year in the late seventies. That is where the action is; and so that is where newcomers go.

There is also another reason for the decline of fanzine fandom, which Paul doesn't appear to consider yet is implicit in his notion of fanzines as play. And that is that we are all a lot older than we used to be; and as we grow older so our priorities and attitudes change. When I first entered (British) fandom, in the mid-seventies, I thought it was heaven on earth and that I would never leave -- but in the eighties I got married, I became involved in political activism (mainly against Your Man Ron's cruise missiles), I discovered the enjoyment to be gained from foreign travel, I took several steps back from fandom and at one point almost dropped out entirely. Fifteen years on, I am hardly the same person I was in the mid-seventies; and neither, it's likely, is Paul. Nor are many other fans of my generation -- people who were there and active in 1975 but have since got married, bought houses, had children, placed greater emphasis on their professional careers, and if they gather in pubs to chat with each other (as some groups still do) are more likely to be arranging a court for next week's squash match than discussing fanzines. For them, and for me, fandom has ceased to constitute the whole of our lives, and has become instead just part of it. And the fanzines we publish reflect that; less play, and far more of the real world.

{{ See Dick's closing comments for his view of the state of fanzine fandom. }}

illo by Alexis Gilliland
Mike Glicksohn, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Skel's article, as expected, was a delight to read, beautifully crafted and very thought-provoking. In many areas he says far more eloquently things I've tried to say myself but I don't think I agree with him one hundred percent. My guess would be that I'm less disenchanted with fanzine fandom as it currently exists than Skel is and yet I think I have changed in my reactions to fanzines. It strikes me as odd that I can admit to finding some of the sheen to have worn off the way I feel about fanzine fandom and yet I'm having a very good time in it while Paul says he hasn't changed his feelings yet is disenchanted with the modern scene. Hell, fanzine fandom was always a large chunk of Kansas with a smaller subsection of Oz and I don't expect that's altered all that much in the last 20 years. But as with many experiences -- sex, food, drugs, etc. -- what excites us when it's all new may not continue to produce the same intensity of reaction when it becomes more familiar. I believe it would be impossible to maintain the initial sense of wonderful discovery some of us feel when we first get involved in fanzine fandom even if the fanzines themselves remained at the same level. Fanzines could actually get better and we might still feel some vague sense of loss just because that wondrous First Contact had worn off.

I recently received a list of fanzines and small press publications and was quite astonished at just how many publications it mentioned. There must have been over three hundred, of which I received no more than 15 percent. So there are lots of people out there publishing. They're just not publishing the sort of thing I'm interested in being a part of. And yet despite the waning of that intense first burst of excitement about the mere idea of a fanzine, I still enjoy the zines I get today, and I'd be the first to admit there are some good zines around. If they aren't as involving as were the fanzines I began my career in, perhaps that says more about me (and Paul) than it says about the zines themselves. Besides, Kansas may be lightening up a bit but it still has a hell of a long way to go and who is to say that the Ochre Brick Road won't someday lead us back to the Emerald City?

Skel's lengthy essay {{ ed. note: in the Letters Column }} on the rationale of letterhacking is interesting but he seems to suggest that I said something to contradict him, and I did not. All I said was that whatever egoboo accrued to the letter writer was secondary to the egoboo disseminated to the contributors. I stand by that statement while fully agreeing with what Skel said. Of course, we try to make our locs interesting enough to print and most of us hope that faneds will publish what we send them, so that we can both be seen to be passing out egoboo and can pick up a little for ourselves in doing so. My statement that a lettercol is vital to a healthy regular fanzine should make it obvious that I support the idea of publishing rather than merely passing on good letters. (Oddly enough, I find the Mimosa lettercol somewhat flat. It's edited in a manner and to a degree that tends to render it less prone to contain comment hooks for me than many other such columns. Perhaps you do this intentionally to prevent the locs running away with the fanzine as they have with publications such as FOSFAx.) And in that light I'll obviously do my best to send a letter you'll consider using in the next issue. But if I fail in that attempt, and you WAHF me, I won't mind so long as you pass on my comments, since that is the primary purpose of this loc.

{{ Consider it done. By the way, we don't edit the letters received so as to intentionally produce a "flat" lettercol, but we try not to let the lettercol take up much more than about one-third of the issue. Much more than that produces more comments on the letters received than on the essays and articles that make up the rest of the issue (FOSFAx is an example of this), and would therefore seem to be a disservice to the authors of those articles. We don't mind (and do reprint) readers' comments on our lettercol (as you can see from this and previous issues); there are some discussions that deserve to be continued for more than one issue, and those discussions we'll keep alive. }}

illo by William Rotsler
Pamela Boal, Wantage, Oxon, United Kingdom
I do agree with Skel's view of the function of the letter column. All too often my LoCs are in fact no more than thank you notes to the editor. Health and other commitments permitting, I do try to send (at least once a year) to each zine I care about a letter that can be (if the editor wishes) a contribution. I had perceived another function of zines, that of being a medium for getting to know people. To a certain extent that was a false perception. After a while one can build up an image of regular editors and contributors but letter writers and occasional contributors are another matter. An entertaining piece of writing may well reveal little of the writer other than his or her opinion on the subject matter at hand. That same writer may appear months later, in a different zine, with a difference ambience, debating a different subject and their name, alas, won't even ring a bell in my mind. The process of getting to know people through zines takes many years and a great deal of zine activity. Mind, zines are a wonderful way of keeping in touch with people once you have got to know them.

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Buck Coulson, Hartford City, Indiana
I agree with Skel that there doesn't seem to be as many fanzines around as there used to be, and disagree on everything else. I was around in the Fifties and Sixties and Seventies, and never considered fandom as anything but a way to locate compatible people. It worked very well for that; I not only got friends, but a wife and, somewhat more surprising, a niece. (More surprising because both Juanita and I were `only' children.) I certainly never idealized it; there were just as many half-assed jerks, nerds, and lackwits around then as there are now. (Some of them are still around.) The beauty of fandom and fanzines was that you didn't have to put up with anybody you didn't like. I told several fans to get lost, and they did, and a few told me the same thing and I don't even remember their names any more. I still feel that getting acquainted by mail is the best way to do it. I eventually did meet most of my friends, but it could be postponed until we were sure of one another. When one grows up in a town of 470 people, finding friends is not all that easy, and I'm still amazed that from 2 or 3 friends I had when I discovered fandom, Juanita's and my Christmas card list burgeoned to 140 people one year. Before fandom, I hadn't thought that there were that many people in the world that I'd ever like. Also, fan friends don't disappear just because you or they move to a different locality; that's what fanzines and letters are for. But some vague idealization? No way.

I disagreed with Skel's letter, too, but then I have an offensively strong ego. I enjoy being appreciated, but why should I care whether it's in public or private? Quite often it's better in private; if my own writing doesn't convince people that I'm wonderful, then having a third party tell me that I am won't do much good, and might even create envy. Skel needs to cultivate self-assurance...

You certainly got a lot of response to Kyle's Exclusion Act {{ "The Great Exclusion Act of 1939" in Mimosa 6 }}. It seems to prove that while the major participants are willing to forget past disagreements -- I noticed Wollheim and Moskowitz at the Atlanta WorldCon, talking and laughing together in a hotel lobby -- people with less personal interest are always ready to keep the arguments alive. Not to mention taking what I assumed to be a joking comment about forgiveness with deadly seriousness. Of course, I've never been involved in barring anyone from a con, but one fan did accuse me of running him out of Indiana. (The major response I got from that came in the form of congratulations from other Indiana fans -- undeserved, but pleasant.)

{{ As we mentioned last issue, we saw SaM, Dave Kyle, Fred Pohl, and Don Wollheim on a fan history panel at the Atlanta WorldCon, and everyone seemed to be getting along just fine. By the way, since our previous issue, SaM's 10-page letter in response to Dave's "Exclusion Act" article (of which we reprinted only the first page in the Mimosa 7 lettercol) has been reprinted in its entirety, in the fanzine CFS Review. }}

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Roger Weddall, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
I don't know whether Skel and I inhabit the same sub-subsection of the fannish universe, but I'd invite him to jump across to the sub-subsection in which Robert Lichtman enjoys his days. In the recent Trapdoor, Robert lists some fifty-odd American fanzines, slightly more British ones, and I think twelve Australian and a few "other", all received in the last year. Gasp. When I saw that list I did not know what had hit me -- a bad case of "Kansas," perhaps.

Depressing as it may be, it doesn't really matter if some people, or indeed most people, opine that there's no point in doing fanzines apart from the social motive. It's also fairly irrelevant, whether or not 'fanzine fandom' is considered to be a minority concern. So what?

The point is, is there enough 'Oz' (as opposed to 'Kansas') going around to satisfy you? Robert Lichtman has declared himself to be well satisfied, and well he might be. It doesn't matter how we ended up in whatever sort of sub-subsection backwater we're in, does it? Already we receive excellent fanzines such as Trapdoor and Mimosa, so let's ask Robert for addresses of some of those fanzine-producing fans -- whether they're in Dodge City or Dahomey -- and let's enjoy the fruits of people's labours that, apparently, are around and waiting to be had!

{{ Thanks for the compliment. We tend to agree with Robert that there are lots of fanzines around, but (as Dick mentions in his Closing Comments) many if not most of them appear to be aimed at very specific readerships. We won't get into quantity vs. quality issues here, but at least one of Skel's observations -- that legendary, faanish fanzines like Hyphen and Le Zombie just aren't being published anymore -- seems valid. }}

illo by Brad Foster
Richard Brandt, El Paso, Texas
Thanks for Mimosa 7, another beautiful production, marked by plenty of good art, old and new.

Dave Kyle's experiences at being a near-miss Gernsback publishee {{ "A Hugo Gernsback Author" }} must strike a chord with many of us. I didn't make much of an attempt to sell to the prozines, but I was quite the letterhack once, and there was one last bastion I was determined to crack -- Analog. I got as far as receiving two nice letters back from Ben Bova -- one in which he apologized for not printing my letter, saying he had planned to but a surfeit of letters had pushed mine out and enclosed the response he had planned to run after my letter! So pass the minor glories...

The durability of a fifty-year-old fan feud may surprise some, but not me. My more recent experience has been that these resentments continue to fester and affect fen's relationships for years, and I fully expect fans in 2034 to be set frothing at the mention of events five decades earlier.

illo by Diana Harlan Stein
Walt Willis, Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
I liked Dave Kyle's article, for apart from its intrinsic merit which is considerable, his mere presence in the magazine makes me feel good. Partly this is because I think of him as an old friend; he has been around at so many important times in my life, always in a helpful role. I have a photo of him with his head stuck in a luggage rack during a party the night I arrived at Chicon II. He helped us get compensation for our lost luggage after Chicon III. And when I re-entered fandom in 1976 by attending the English Eastercon, there he was at Manchester Airport with a car. Of even more symbolic significance is the fact that when I first arrived in the United States, at Hoboken docks in 1952, in the trip which was the precursor to TAFF, he was the first to greet me, having finagled his way into the customs shed with a press pass. It was only later I realised how typical this was; at the time I knew him only as a character in The Immortal Storm. I was tremendously impressed at his appearance on my scene, straight out of legend.

While I was still marvelling at this miracle, Dave revealed that there was a rival welcoming party trying to get into the shed, led by the equally legendary Will Sykora. This was almost too much. I had become part of the Great New York Feud!

This is the same thrill which you have imparted to your readers by printing Dave's article and Sam's reply. There may be some who regard all this old stuff as a waste of time. But this is to think of fandom as something to be made use of for some ulterior purpose. I think of fandom as valuable in itself. It is an alternative universe which we can visit at will to lead another life. The more rich and complex and finely detailed that alternative universe, the more valuable it is. Everything and everyone in it matters. Chuck Harris put this aspect of fandom's appeal very well in a recent letter to me: "I find fandom as fascinating as a huge unfinished jigsaw puzzle, and every little phrase or snippet of information helps fill in another hole in the Big Picture. I love these people and although I am occasionally surprised, I am never hurt, shocked or horrified."

Of the rest of your excellent contents, I think I liked Skel's thoughtful piece best, though it was nice to see Bob Tucker and his Lez-ettes again. And, in answer to Michael Waite's question in the letter column, I can't hear the ocean through a stethoscope, but aorta.

{{ Where was that line when we needed it? }}

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Mark Manning, Seattle, Washington
The Gernsback story by Dave Kyle was an interesting way to start things out in Mimosa 7. Since entering fandom in a big way a couple of years ago, I haven't seen him write an account of the Worldcon (Nycon II, wasn't it?) where the immortal phrase, "Dave Kyle says you can't sit here" came into the microcosm. Perhaps in an upcoming Mimosa...

{{ Consider the hint passed along. }}

I was slightly disappointed by your decision not to print all of SaM's letter recording his version of the events (The Immortal Storm reprint costs how much?). Then you could have run a Dave Kyle final statement afterwards, and introduced the whole gemisch by writing, "And here they are, those Atlantic recording artists, Sam and Dave!" Just a thought.

Other than that, I've just got one question: Did you explain all those damned ladybugs when I wasn't paying attention?

{{ Unfortunately, there just wasn't enough room to print a 10-page letter of comment in its entirety, and SaM refused to condense it. The whole thing is now available in a fanzine from Norm Metcalf, though. As for Teddy Harvia's and Peggy Ranson's "Bugs In Space" cover for Mimosa 7 -- you weren't the only one who asked us about it. And while we're able to explain Teddy's Mimosa 6 cover as a fannish allegorical comparison of Tennessee and the Washington suburbs, we confess we don't have the foggiest idea of the meaning of the ladybugs cover. }}

illo by Sheryl Birkhead
Terry Broome, Lakeside Park, Lincoln, Lincs, United Kingdom
Dave Kyle's article this time I found enthralling. Maybe it's because he brings the subject alive, and because it's personal rather than political, which makes me like some fanhistory writings and dislike others. It'd be great to have all the fanhistory articles written and collected in several volumes, so you could get a chronological biographical history of the development of sf and fandom.

{{ Not a bad idea, but it would present problems trying to collect them all to say nothing about organizing them in some coherent order. Maybe some test project would be in order, like a history of the WorldCon through the ages, as seen through the eyes of fans who attended. }}

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Harry Warner, Jr., Hagerstown, Maryland
Statistics seem to bear out the notion that there aren't as many non-apa fanzines nowadays as there used to be. Both Robert Lichtman and I have made rough tabulations from our records of fanzines received currently and in the past and have come up with similar findings, that there are fewer. However, I think the decline in fanzine publishing might seem worse than it really is because there is a particular scarcity today of general-purpose fanzines like Mimosa that contain formal articles on a variety of topics. So many of today's fanzines are either official organs of local clubs that publish mostly reviews and locs, or highly specialized themezines or fanzines whose loc section almost swallows up everything. The lack of idealism that Skel writes about in today's fanzine fandom must be connected to some extent to the determinedly pessimistic, downbeat, doom & gloom orientation of the contemporary media and most mundane periodicals.

Dave Kyle's article is yet another valuable addition to the remarkable outpouring of recent materials about Wonder Stories during the Hornig editorship. I can sympathize with the elation and letdown he suffered over that first apparent sale of a story, because much the same thing happened to me a long time back: a non-fiction book manuscript of mine had been accepted by one of the good publishing firms, which then proceeded to drop its juveniles department before publication and as luck would have it, the manuscript I got back was intended for the juvenile market. Stupidly, I was so disgusted I never submitted it elsewhere. Incidentally, I wonder if other sets of page proofs still exist for other stories that had been readied for publication before Wonder Stories changed ownership? If they do, conceivably it may be possible to assemble enough of them to make possible publication of one more issue of the Gernsback-Hornig Wonder Stories, more than a half-century late.

Your overview of Chat {{ "Visit to a Small Fanzine" }} is the kind of article that should be written about every fanzine that has had a substantial life and some success. In the absence of updated fanzine indexes and the scarcity of public sources of fanzine collections, articles like this one can inspire the collector and can inform the neofan. Besides, such articles solve one of the biggest headaches for researchers, that of figuring out when a given fanzine published its last issue.

In the letters section, you're right about the failure of the first Worldcon fuss to have major effects on fandom in general. It could conceivably be considered more significant on the professional side of science fiction than on its fandom, since the enmities resulting from the Exclusion Act seem to have affected the choice of materials for prozines that were later edited by several of the principals. I was already active in fandom at the time of that first Worldcon, and I'm sure I didn't allow the fuss to govern my editorial decisions for my fanzines or my good relations with those on both sides of the dispute. A few years later, problems like the rise of Claude Degler and Fran Laney's exposé of Los Angeles fandom shook up fandom in general much more thoroughly than the Exclusion Act had done. The coincidence that several individuals in the middle of it later wrote books about old days in fandom has helped to make it seem more prominent in fandom's history than it really was.

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Lloyd Penney, Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Bravo to all of those people who have bravo'd you for your articles on fannish history. I've said it in other fanzines, but I often find it difficult to get publications that contain accounts of fannish history. Having read The Immortal Storm, and having All Our Yesterdays, The Way the Future Was, and Years of Light (I've read them, too) just isn't enough. Many articles on fan history appear in fanzines long out of date. Not only do we need a database of fanhistory publications, but we need someone willing to cull out all these articles and put them together for all fans to see.

{{ Sounds like the ultimate Fanthology. Again, this seems like a worthwhile idea, but it would take someone of single-mindedness, deep pockets, and great persistence to make it happen. Another project for a Worldcon committee with lots of leftover money... }}

illo by Teddy Harvia
Cathy Doyle, Newport News, Virginia
Enjoyed the history of Chat, especially all the clever covers from over the years. And while I normally don't roll over and howl about stories with cute terms like dhog and bheer, Teddy Harvia's story {{ ed. note: about the origin of the Fourth Fannish Ghod, Chat }} was quite amusing.

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Teddy Harvia, Euless, Texas
I had forgotten about my nonsensical explanation of the origin of that 'Chat' character. All these years I've thought that I stole the idea from somebody else (a tradition among cartoonists). A cartoonist having an original thought is scarier than any image of a saber-toothed tiger. I guess subconsciously I just didn't want to accept the blame for all those cats in your mail.

Your history of the clubzine Chat is history that repeats itself. Many local SF clubs members strangely see no reason in communicating with the outside world.

Sheryl Birkhead's interior ladybug illustrations complement well the "Bugs in Flight" and "Bugs in Space" cover art that Peggy Ranson and I drew. Having a responsive local artist to draw on allows intelligent editors to give their publication visual continuity. Although letting an artist inside your head sometimes produces strange images.

I enjoyed the are from your more distant art contributors, too, especially Alexis Gilliland's typeface from hell and Kurt Erichsen's illustration for Bob Tucker's and Robert Bloch's sibling rivalry.

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Geri Sullivan, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Peggy Ranson and Teddy Harvia are regular Toad Hall visitors this week. Pirate Jenny #4 {{ ed. note: which also had a Harvia/Ranson cover }} arrived yesterday. Today, "Bugs in Space" Mimosa #7, plus the True Secret Origin of Chat, who I've seen pop-up from time to time, but never fully understood.

Fan history is one of my interests, too, and Mimosa #7 is a delightful and thought-provoking taste of yesteryear. Lez-ettes, especially, caught my fancy. Maybe it was Bob Tucker's comment about fandom refusing to take itself too seriously, or perhaps the delight of discovering an artform invented by the original Slan Shack gang (I grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan, alas, after the Slan Shack was no more, but I know its neighborhood. My great-aunts ran a toy factory nearby). Whatever; in attempting to write a Lez-ette, I quickly discovered the difference between a headline and a story.

Chapter One:

Chapter Two:

Chapter Three:

To my eye, it reads too much like a headline. Also, the climax in chapter three is lacking, simply by its predictability.

Chapter One:

Chapter Two:

Chapter Three:

Again, it's predictable. And it leaves out the E-stenciller, but it does tell what I hope to be doing in the near future.

{{ We'll be looking forward to your next issue. We also received "Lez-ettes" from a few other people, among them Michael Waite of Ypsilanti, Michigan, who sent us these:

Chapter One:

Chapter Two:

Chapter Three:


Chapter One:

Chapter Two:

Chapter Three:

Plus four others, all of which were amusing. Michael wrote us that "... Lez-ettes are more fun than an underwater camera in a bathtub." Maybe we'll have a couple of pages of illustrated Lez-ettes in a future issue }}

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Brian Earl Brown, Detroit, Michigan
There is much that I agree with in Skel's article. In many ways it does seem true that fanzines are currently seen as part of an extended socialization activity, and that the more one sees one's friends the less incentive there is to produce a new issue. But there are things one can do in a fanzine that one can't do in social conversation. One can organize one's thoughts, and expand at length on a subject without fear of boring one's listener. More importantly, it's possible to discuss things that don't go over well in social situations, like talking about a new book, philosophical conundrums, and so on.

Every few years there appears a fanzine that attracts the attention of a lot of fans, revels in an active lettercol, and seems to be more "alive" than most of the other zines of the time. I remember Shadow of the Monolith and Title, Fred Haskell's Rune, and Chat like that. Today FOSFAx seems to have that ineffable quality.

I'm not sure what all goes into making one of these zines. Monthly publication was part of it. A rapid turnaround of ideas and comments. But also a large and open lettercol that made everyone feel welcome and appreciated.

All of those zines were doomed to an early death because of the demands on the editors and the growth of feuds all lead to burn-out. That many of these zines were financed by clubs and club politics adds another burden to the zine's editor.

Of all of those fast, frequent fanzines, I'd have to say that I still like Chat the best. It wasn't burdened with the political debates the way FOSFAx is, had more meat than I remember Shadow had with a good selection of articles and, yes, Charlie Williams' wonderful drawings.

I enjoyed reading through your article(s) about and from Chat. The cover reproductions brought back a lot of memories. I'm glad you did this.

{{ Well, we felt it was something that Had To Be Done, especially in the wake of the Mimosa 6 covers. With all the encapsulated reprints, that article (at 16 pages) was the longest thing we've yet run in Mimosa. And yet, there was so much more we could have included, but we didn't want that article to fill the entire issue. Anyway, we suspect you may be elevating Chat a little too high in comparison with those other fine zines, but we appreciate the kind words. }}

Your answer to Kev McVeigh's question {{ ed. note: on why so few Socialist political candidates achieve success in the U.S. }} misses a salient point. The Democrats co-opted a lot of Socialist programs during the New Deal, thus making it hard for a Socialist party to gain the distinction necessary to overcome the inertia of two-party politics. Unless one is able to offer a political agenda that's different from the Democrats and Republicans, it's hard to get people interested in that new party. As a result of the New Deal, the only people who still insisted on calling themselves Socialists were doctrinaire extremists, anarchists, and professional revolutionaries.

illo by David Haugh
R Laurraine Tutihasi, Los Angeles, California
In the letters section, your analysis of this country's political climate in your reply to the letter from Kev McVeigh was good, but I think there is an aspect that you neglected to mention. Our country is basically a two-party system. I don't think there are any viable national third parties. I don't pay much attention to third parties. Third parties get protest votes and rarely win.

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Taras Wolansky, Jersey City, New Jersey
I guess I must be an SF history buff; I really enjoyed Dave Kyle's curious footnote to that history, in Mimosa 7. Too bad Charles Schneeman's striking illustration to Kyle's story was never published. The image of a man, staring avidly into a mirror as he injects himself in the forehead, is still shocking after all these years. This should have become one of those classic illustrations that are reprinted in histories of SF art.

Perhaps I've attended more fan history panels than you guys, in spite of your many more years in fandom. At any rate, I'm not at all surprised that surviving participants in the Exclusion Act controversy of 1939 are still sensitive about it. I remember once remarking, in a con report, that it was kind of amusing to see these gentlemen still squabbling after 50 years. On one side there is perhaps the uneasy feeling that they may have overreacted to provocation; on the other, a certain embarrassment over ever having espoused a bankrupt ideology.

Speaking of bankrupt ideologies, an "Ingsoc" wonders why Socialists haven't had more political success in the U.S. Actually they did, early in this century, until the major parties co-opted them by adopted their more popular positions. And in fact the far left wing of the Democratic Party is Socialist in all but name. Considering what's been happening in Eastern Europe lately, we should be glad the socialists here were largely unsuccessful!.

illo by Diana Harlan Stein
Todd Mason, Falls Church, Virginia
Alas, alas... Anarchism, democratic socialism, communism (Leninism, Trotskyism, Stalinism as opposed to Kropotkin's true of anarchist communism), and even home-grown variations like single-taxism all flourished in the U.S. from about the 1870s through the early 1900s. McCarthy and his fellow thugs were just the last of a long line of powerful enemies of political diversity. The FBI, recently exposed for its concerted efforts to infiltrate and destroy our largest Trot group, the Socialist Workers Party, throughout the 1960's and '70's...presumably because of the SWP's connections to the early `60s Fair Play for Cuba Committee and subsequent Cuba-boosting...this same FBI served as an agency of provocateurs throughout the `30s and `40s, with other police forces taking up the slack beforehand. Anarchist Emma Goldman spoke to crowds of tens of thousands throughout the U.S. in the `10s, `20s and `30s, and she was only the most prominent and famous of dozens of widely-hailed anarchist speakers, organizers and activists. Socialist Party co-founded Eugene Debs polled over 900,000 votes in his 1912 bid for the presidency. As undiluted a social-democrat as Debs picking up about 6-7% of the vote in a country with no accepted (that is, publicly admitted and understood) hereditary class structure, 1/15 of the electorate was pretty good, in a time when most of the poorest could be kept from voting with sex discrimination (no national women's suffrage until 1920), poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses (African-Americans whose grandfathers were slaves could be kept from voting in many places) and other games. In 1924, the Progressive-Socialists fusion ticket headed by Robert LaFollette picked up nearly five million votes, vs. winner Calvin Coolidge's nearly 16 million (Democrat J.W. Davis got about 8.5). In 1928, by the way, SF writer Mack Reynolds's father, Verne Reynolds, stood for the first of two presidential elections as the candidate of the Socialists Labor Party, a Marxist party so doctrinaire that founder Daniel DeLeon criticized Marx's own deviations, as KM backed off from some of his less gradualist positions in the 1870 (they were contemporaries, and the SLP remains with us, as our fourth-oldest political party, after the Democrats, the Prohibitionists, and the Republicans).

Throughout the same 1920s, the "Palmer Raids" against "foreign-born" troublemakers (usually anarchist or any uncapitalist labor organizers) led to a lot of people being shot dead or deported, including some "native-born" citizens. Intentional misrepresentation of anarchists, particularly, was grist for the mills of the mainstream press, owned by the rich and slanted in favor of those who accepted the status quo.

The Lynches suggest that this country is built on individualism, and I would amend that this way: most of the people in this country cherish romanticized notions of individualism, and talk a good game, but luck be with genuine individualists. This country was founded on land grabbed in various ways from nations like the Cherokee and the Iroquois by people who were criminals with few other options, desperately-poor indentured servants with no better options, venture capitalists who used the previous two groups, and religious zealots seeking freedom to oppress in their own ways (if you think that too strong, re-examine the early history of New England). Eventually, by the time of our War of Independence, some genuinely democratic radicals (like Thomas Paine, and to a much lesser extent Thomas Jefferson) had enough support throughout the society (particularly among the Colonists as wealthy as any good Whig but without the Whig's privileges) to partake in the successful war. Here's the U.S.A., land of democracy for literate, property-holding, almost-necessarily white, men above the age of 21. Whig heaven, albeit we had our Tories (such as Alexander Hamilton) in positions of power as well. Took about fifty years to get rid of the property-holding bit, longer for about everything else. The basic premise, to keep power in the hands of the wealthy and/or corruptible, still applies.

But we don't have formal hereditary class distinctions, just practical, informal even Canada and Australia have that much over the U.S. in terms of pointing to obvious injustices. Unfortunately, though, even the greatest potential for diversity in Britain and the Commonwealth countries doesn't mean that Money doesn't rule, and the necessities of remaining in office doesn't come before any given program or philosophy, whether it be Labour's, or the New Democrats' (of Canada), or the current supposedly socialist administration of Burlington, Vermont. Or any other party, of any other stripe. We can hope for no better in Eastern Europe or elsewhere. Look how the Greens are copping out, where power struggles aren't destroying them, throughout the world.

Never have most Americans lived on frontiers, and most of the frontiers people were maligned and alienated misfits. Makes a hell of a mythos, though. Most Americans are taught that if they're suffering, it's their own fault, not the fault of unjust fate that put them in a suffering class. Hard to keep social justice movements going under such conditions.

{{ Interesting discourse on the chronology of Socialism in the United States. Neither of us can claim much background in Political Science, so we're not in a position to either agree with or dispute your conclusions. However, your views would appear to be the minority view, based on what we've seen and the people we've met in our travels across the country in search of the Perfect Midwestcon; we expect that most Americans would probably say that Socialism is something going on elsewhere in the world, but not here. }}

illo by William Rotsler
David Rowe, Franklin, Indiana
Dave Kyle's article was interesting, Skel was... Skel, but the honors this time go to Sharon Farber's article {{ "Tales of Adventure and Medical Life (Part III)" }}.

I worked for a psychiatric hospital for over a decade and as Sharon suggests, there are a myriad of tales to tell, such as our one well-dressed patient (who had everything short of a tux and top hat). This guy was living proof that clothes maketh a man... one day he went up to some road work contractors at the hospital and sacked the lot of them. They dutifully went up to the accounts department and had their cards made out and it wasn't till one of the staff asked who had sacked them that the truth was realised.

But the one patient I'll always remember was Fred. He looked just like a cartoon version of a lunatic -- big build, dangling ape-like arms, Marty Feldman eyes, and a permanent smile. One day he came up to me with his usual cheery attitude and said, "Consider this: I'm here for life. I've got a warm bed and I get three hot meals a day. I can practically do as I please -- I've got no bills, no taxes, and no worries. And you think I'm mad."

illo by Brad Foster
Ruth Judkowitz, FPO San Francisco, California
Mimosa 7 was greatly enjoyed. I have especially liked all the articles by Dr. Sharon Farber and have been sharing tidbits with my next-door neighbor who is a surgeon at the Naval Hospital here {{ ed. note: in Guam }}. He enjoys them, too, and has a slew of stories about his intern and residency days.

One I remember in particular. At a hospital in Philadelphia there were a number of people who were "regulars" in the Emergency Room. One guy (obviously a little off-kilter) was always doing injury to himself -- sometimes cuts, sometimes bruises. One day, he came into the ER and said he had screws in his penis. They didn't believe him but took X-rays, and sure enough, this guy had 7(!) inside him. (My neighbor says this man wasn't considered ill enough for a mental hospital because he could perform basic tasks like getting his shoes on over his socks.) My neighbor, thinking that after the first screw, the pain alone would be too much to handle inserting another, just had to ask how this guy got those screws inside. The guy very calmly answered, "with a screwdriver." Owww!

As a birthday joke gift for my neighbor, I bought the horror anthology Intensive Scare and, going through the acknowledgements, saw that Dr. Farber had suggested the title! How's that for synchronicity?

{{ Ouch is right! Sharon's "Medical School" series has resulted in quite a few stories like these. Here's one more, based on Buck Coulson's hospital horror story recounted in his LoC last issue, from a fan who is also a paramedic. }}

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Terry Bohman, East Thetford, Vermont
If there's any loc-damping going on, it's simply because the range and grip of your material tends to be a bit overwhelming. I can't explain why exactly arguments over an obscure incident in the fannish pre-Cambrian should be so involving. Part of it, I guess, is simply that these are stories of people, and their interests, memories, and passions have a certain universality, but only part: there is a certain mythic quality to the whole affair. I don't know what's next. Either a sprig of greenery's gonna hit me in the eye, or I'll be told that resistance is useless as I'm tossed out the airlock.

Buck's loc and your reply remind me of a case I took part in, once. I was riding an ambulance into a local hospital -- I'm stretching the meaning of "local" just a bit, but this was really the nearest hospital and the only one with any pretenses as a medical center. Beside me in the ambulance was the patient we were delivering, an elderly farmer who had misstepped on the ice in her own back yard and twisted her leg, breaking tibia and fibula. She was in wry humor, making a string of comments on the damnable Vermont weather this year ("Worst than last year, but nuthin' like the winter of `38"), the appearance of her leg ("Pretty discustin', uh yuh"), and how inconvenient this turn of events was ("Kinda nice to see you folks gettin out, though"). Pretty routine case, in other words.

We unloaded the patient at the hospital and wheeled her through the door to the emergency department. A nurse at the nursing station was labeling vials of blood samples. She pointed down the hall toward S2, one of the surgical evaluation rooms. About half way there was a large knot of people clustered about a room in the cardiac bay. One of them was Stuart, a hospital cardiac tech, who after delivering his electrocardiogram to the attending doc, pulled me aside and told me what he just did up in intensive care.

Stuart had been called to the Cardiac Care Unit to do an emergency electrocardiogram, an ECG. The patient was elderly, obese, and in some pain. Stuart wheeled his little ECG cart into the room and looked for a place to plug it in. The room, as usual, was full of implements and devices making various beeps, gleeps, buzzes, and ugh-floops and, again as usual, there was not a single unused electrical outlet. Well, Stuart knew that everything of any importance in CCU -- IV pumps, monitors, whatever -- has a battery backup and an alarm which beeps and flashes whenever the battery gets low. At the foot of the patient's bed was a large chest-shaped machine with blinking lights, the sound of a washing machine full of tennis shoes, and an electrical cord as big around as his big toe. And since it was plugged into the wall right next to his ECG cart, Stuart bent over and unplugged it, and plugged in his machine. The big machine at the foot of the bed simply stopped -- no blinking lights, no washing machine noise, nothing. Stuart took his ECG, unplugged his cart, and plugged in the big machine again, which immediately started blinking and making with the ka-whoosh-ka-whoosh noises again. It was only as Stuart was leaving that he noticed the plate of the machine that labeled it as a Something-Something Ventricular Balloon. For three or four minutes, Stuart had left unplugged the device which was augmenting the patient's heartbeat.

"Did it hurt him?" I asked.

"I don't know!" he said. "I don't know!"

"Are you going to tell anyone?"

"I don't know."

"Did anyone notice anything?"

"I don't think so. But they sure were interested in his cardiogram."

You may be both right and wrong. Things may really be worse than we think... and it may not matter nearly so much as we believe. Damned if I know.

illo by Alexis Gilliland
Guy H. Lillian III, New Orleans, Louisiana
Mimosa is outstanding as ever; Sharon Farber's medical series continues to move, amuse, and gratify, particularly when I think of how horrible it would be if law required internship as does medicine. Tucker, patron saint of Chat, provides a terrific interview and a funny article, but I fear he's wrong about losing the first Best Novel Hugo to The Demolished Man; yes, Bester's book won the award, but there was no nominating ballot that year, so unless he knows something we don't (quite likely, actually) no one knows if his book placed second or not. The Chat history is good fannish reading, and it's always a delight to see Charlie Williams illos -- rare, rare, all too rare these days.

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Heidi Lyshol, Oslo, Norway
I'm very grateful that you sent me Mimosa. Lately, I've been receiving loads of English¬zines from very young fans -- after all their film reviews, plotworn short stories and bad photocopying it's such a RELIEF to read something like Mimosa, reminding one of the traditions of fandom, and also reminding myself of the possibility of an active fan life, even after marriage. The next time my Kjetill asks me, I'll say yes.

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We Also Heard From:
Harry Andruschak; Lon Atkins; Martha Beck; Sheryl Birkhead; Robert Bloch; Ned Brooks; G.M. Carr; Russell Chauvenet; Richard Dengrove; Carolyn Doyle; George Flynn; Diane Fox; Richard Gilliam; Lee Griner; John Guidry; Mike Gunderloy; Gay Haldeman; David Haugh; Marty Helgeson; Craig Hilton; Arthur Hlavaty; Kim Huett; Lucy Huntzinger; Ben Indick; George Inzer; Irvin Koch; Robert Lichtman; Eric Lindsay; Mark Linneman; Ed Meskys; Debi Metcalf; Janice Murray; David Palter; M. Shane Reynolds; Yvonne Rousseau; Alexander R. Slate; Els Somers; Milt Stevens; Alan J. Sullivan; Phil Tortorici; Michael Waite; Jean Weber; Owen Whiteoak; Joe Zimny. And this doesn't even count fanzines received! Thanks again to everyone who wrote or sent a fanzine.

illo by Charlie Williams
Illustrations by Phil Tortorici, David Haugh, Alexis Gilliland, William Rotsler, Brad Foster, Diana Harlan Stein, Sheryl Birkhead, Teddy Harvia, and Charlie Williams

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