It's time once again for another look into the somewhat enigmatic world of Swedish fandom. The writer of the following is another of the people we hope to meet next year in Scotland. Last issue, he described the life and death of a small but significant amateur press association. This time, he tells us more about Stockholm-area fans of the late 1970s, including the titanic struggle between...
'The Enemy and the Front' by Ahrvid Engholm; 
  title illo by Charlie Williams
There was a time when the world revolved around the cold war maelstrom. James Bond-like figures sneaked across the Iron Curtain and nuclear missiles threatened our very existence. But, as we'll shortly learn in this article, those mundane events were completely dwarfed by the struggle in Stockholm Fandom of 1978.

Two mighty powers battled in a fandom, divided by a Stencil Curtain, full of sophisticated espionage, intricate intrigues, secret projects, double-double bluffs and encrypted code messages.

One was I, leader of Fandom's Liberation Front ('Fandoms Befrielsefront', FBF) which we will call The Front. One was Anders Bellis, leader of the Triumvirate Your Fannish Enemy ('Triumviratet Din Fiende Fandom', TDFF) which we will call The Enemy.

Up to then we had both been mostly harmless members of fandom for two or three years. We had gone to our first conventions and were attending the book discussion circles arranged by the Scandinavian SF Association. In 1977 this Association acquired its own club house in central Stockholm, and the meeting activity skyrocketed. Many of the new attendees were very young like us and a new strain of fandom emerged as a consequence, centred around the young neofans.

In May 1978, Bellis produced his first fanzine, Hurkle (named after Ted Sturgeon's "The Hurkle is a Happy Beast") and a couple of weeks later, in June 1978, I did my first: Fanarchistic Writings. The smell of the ink of your first very own fanzine will intoxicate and spellbind you. It is a trip more powerful than LSD. Ask me, I know! (Eh, I know about mimeo ink, I mean.)

As soon as the last sheet of your first fanzine leaves the duplicator, you know you're a fan in the true sense. You know that fandom is everything, and that you want to be a part of it. The first thing you need, then, is a group that will help you take control over fandom, so you can have it all for yourself.

It has happened before. In the late `50s, Dénis Lindbohm and Sam J Lundwall fought The Fannish War, between Lindbohm's fictitious state 'The Autarchacy' and Lundwall's 'Hyboria'. Their struggle soon involved all leading fannish circles and became a classic. In the mid-'60s, the fans John-Henri Holmberg, Bertil Mårtensson, and Mats D Linder formed the Witty Society Your Fannish Friend ('Witterhetssellskapet Din Vän Fandom'), that for a few years totally dominated the fanzine market and set the course for Swedish fannish fandom. (They were all students and thought they were very witty, thus the name.)

The main players of The Enemy vs. The Front drama would soon make their names known (I hope I remember all ages correctly):

Ahrvid Engholm of The Front -- then age 19, a not very enthusiastic student at the time, leader, fanzine publisher, living in a western suburb, Asimov fan, owner of the mimeo 'Ernst'. (Now I am a journalist.)

Harald Berthelsen of The Front -- then age 17, high school student, intrigue maker, fanzine publisher, a long haired anarchist with glasses, from an upper class eastern suburb. (I had met him one year earlier. He now has a family, lives in Uppsala north of Stockholm, and plays in an Irish folk music band.)

Anders Bellis of The Enemy -- then age 18, high school student, leader, fanzine publisher, living in downtown Stockholm, also long haired anarchist, owner of the mimeo 'TED'. (Though I prefer not to meet him these days, he works as translator.)

Ylva Spångberg of The Enemy -- then age 16, high school student, almost the only girl in Swedish fandom at the time, living in a southern rather far away suburb, short and blond, liked cats. (I see her off and on; she now works as a translator.)

Leif Eurén of The Enemy -- then age 20, later student of the Royal Technical Institute where he got a civil engineering degree, living in downtown Stockholm, publisher of a rather ambitious fanzine review zine, curly dark hair and glasses. (Leif gafiated to the Stockholm Tolkien Society in 1980, where he became very active. He now works as a civil engineer and lives in a western suburb.)

Hans X -- then age 17, high school student at the time, a horror fan (especially of HP Lovecraft), interested in weapons, short and dark haired. (I meet him off and on. He works as chiropractor and postmortem dissector, lives in a southern suburb. He and his girlfriend just got a daughter.)

Bellis writes that he, in the spring of 1978, had correspondence with fans from southern Sweden which turned into a faaan-fiction of how they came to Stockholm and were annihilated by the Hurkle Federation, whose... "inner brain trust was me, Ylva Spångberg and Leif Elvis Eurén." He wasn't named 'Elvis'; that was a joke. He wouldn't reveal what his middle initial stood for so we invented something. Distorting people's names, even your own, and using pseudonyms was common practice and considered funny.

[A note of explanation: All facts and quotes here are from two articles in my Fanner No 12 and Bellis' Hoax 3, in the 9th mailing (November 1979) of the Cucumber APA {{ed. note: see "The Rise and Fall of Cucumber" in Mimosa 15}}. These two articles (15 tightly typed pages) covered the Enemy/Front wars in every detail, directly from the source material. They are, in fact, better than the source fanzines from one year earlier, since those often lied to confuse the opponent. Quotes in this article have sometimes been abridged, for reasons of length.]

Later the same spring Bellis and Ylva, at that time having a brief affair, worked out a fannish poll full of... "absolutely crazy questions of very little relevance" (questions from something later to be called 'The Church of Fictionology'). The poll was codenamed 'Gizmo', so they could talk about it when others were present. Bellis wrote: "At this time I happened to sit late one night, talking with Leif and Ylva in the cellar of the Scandinavian SF Association (among other things I demonstrated that I can talk backwards, something I in fact master superbly). As we talked we mentioned Gizmo (Leif didn't know what it was) and the fannish grouping, the Brain Trust, that Ylva and I planned -- all in the purpose of waging war on other fannish groups. Since Leif was mentioned as one of the Brain Trust, he insisted on being included. The Triumvirate Your Fannish Enemy was born!" The 'triumvirate' part of the name was chosen to a priori exclude any other members; 'Your Fannish Enemy' was a parody of 'Your Fannish Friend'.

illo by Charlie Williams Meanwhile, in another part of Stockholm, I sat and typed my first fanzine. "In the same moment I sat down to write Fanarchistic Writings No.1", I noted later, "Fandom's Liberation Front was born. I needed something that Fanarchistic Writings could be the official organ for." So I immediately started the myth about how The Front was founded. An imaginary founding father, Arne Persson, one night knocked on my window and enrolled me to publish The Front's official organ. I even invented a hierarchy of other organizations that The Front was a part of: TDFsF (a parody of TDFF), S4SF4 (a sercon sf organization), and SIFA (a one man Isaac Asimov fan club). I had invented SIFA because I wanted to spread the notion that I was a sercon fan, and Asimov was the natural symbol for seriousness and constructiveness. SIFA was a protest against the weird fannishness of Bellis, who used to send cat food in envelopes to his friends and insisted that it was fannish behaviour.

The first enemy of The Front was not Bellis, but SFF (the Swedish APA) and its founder Anders Åkerlind. It was the same for The Enemy. SFF was heavily disliked. I have often wondered why; maybe it was because we just didn't like that somebody else came up with the good idea of starting an APA.

And the pro Sam J Lundwall was also an enemy. He had some weird views that all American sf (including my hero Dr. Asimov) was rubbish. In Fanarchistic Writings, I published regular 'reports from the liberation war', all about how Lundwall got his ass kicked. While Bellis' inspiration was the Witty Society Your Fannish Friend, mine was The Fannish War two decades earlier.

In early July of `78, The Front stopped being a one man show. Bellis was on vacation in Greece, and one Harald Berthelsen wrote to me, wanting to join The Front and challenge The Enemy to a 'fanzine duel', to publish the most fanzine pages.

"Imagine how angry Bellis will be when he sits there in Greece and gets a letter where we declare war on The Enemy, and he has no stencils and can't do a thing about it..." Harald wrote.

"How to become a member is so complicated that I wouldn't recommend anyone to try," I had written earlier, but all obstacles were swept away for Harald -- he had a stock of one thousand (!) stencils that he was willing to put to use in the coming war.

The Front was divided into 'departments'. I headed the Department of Propaganda, Harald took charge of the Department of Plots. Shortly Harald wrote: "I've made my first plot. The Front has a new member. NiBe Blomquist (his name was 'Nisse', but a German double-S is close to a 'B' so he became 'NiBe') is now General Loud-Mouthed Jackass of the Department of LMJ."

I forwarded the challenge to Bellis in Greece by mail, but added my doubts: "If you are to compete on the number of pages, what will happen with the quality and the contents of the zines? Answer: you don't give a damn!!!" Nevertheless, the starting date for the war was set to the 6th of July.

"Naturally this date was tactical. The Front 'happened' to publish 3-4 fanzines around this time," I later noted. The fanzine duel was soon forgotten, and in my estimation won by The Front -- because we kept enrolling people that published fanzines, like NiBe and later Roger Sjölander and Kjell Borgström, both fanzine publishers. The non-existent Claes Trygg, head of the Department of Land-Surveying, was later replaced by Hans X, of whom we shall hear more later. At the same time The Enemy had people like Åkerlind and the girl Torun Liedfeldt as 'associates'.

Meanwhile The Enemy wasn't standing still. One Michael Petersen, together with SFF's Anders Åkerlind, planned to start something called New Curch, a parody of the Scania fan Bertil A G Schalén's Universal Life Church, that would publish a religious script. And Ylva was involved -- without informing the rest of The Enemy!

Bellis squeezed the information out of Åkerlind and devised a plan: the religious scripts would be replaced before printing with something... "incredibly infantile." However, as usual, "Michael Petersen was too lazy do anything", so the plan was scrapped.

Bellis instead started TDFF Times. No.1 was a cassette fanzine that never was distributed and No.2 was a pure list of the fanzines in the fanzine duel, also never published. When he was back from Greece, Bellis noted, "Ylva Spångberg, newly in love with Hans X, suffered from Gafia. She withdrew from all contacts with fandom with the stupid motivation that she 'didn't like all the conspiracies'. At this moment I and Leif decided that she'd be excluded from all the projects. I have a feeling that it was about that time it became witty with small, secret info notes distributed only within The Enemy. As soon as an Enemy member had something on his/her heart or had new fensational (sic) information, a new issue of the numbered info notes were written. When I and Leif did them we always included secret supplements with the real and for Ylva secret projects."

illo by Charlie Williams [A language note: A number of spellings and words were quite typical of this period of Stockholm fandom. Anything beginning with an 'an-' would get an additional 'f': 'fanother', 'fannual', etc; though it became pretty silly when words without an 'an-' got the fsame ftreatment. An 'en-' could become a 'fen-'. 'Folk' became 'filk' (from 'filksong'), occasionally a random 'o' would become an 'i', an 'h' was frequently added as second letter to words of great importance, and a single 'a' could easily be doubled or tripled. 'Wittra' was the most central concept of this time, taken from 'Witterhetssellskapet'. 'Witter' is properly spelled 'vitter' in Swedish and means (approx.) 'witty' or 'of great knowledge'. We turned 'witter' into a word that mean either funny, fannish or fine, great. I have translated it to 'witty', but the special connotations of it should be remembered. This was 'fhaaanish spelling', fand it chould eaaasily maake a whole fentence wirtually uhnreaaadable. This vocabulary was then spiced with Gosh-Wows, rockets, beavers, and bizarre inside jokes that no one, not even the originator when he was sober, knew about.]

One evening Bellis and Leif went to Burger King. "We held to old fannish traditions and sat there three and a half hours. And we found out that The Enemy should start a hoax. The plan was that Leif would get a postbox in Bollmora, where he worked, and use it as address for one &#Aring;ke Cedergren." The Enemy also planned another hoax. He would be named Kjell Söderberg, who turned neo around the fall of 1978, started LoCing, and late in the year turned out a fanzine. "To make it more trustworthy we sketched a detailed picture of his home environment, his parents etc, occupations, ages, interests etc for the whole family. We still planned to make a hoax of Åke Cedergren, but intentionally make it so weak that it was revealed. Filks would then efentually not suspect Kjell Söderberg so much. Ylva was of course only briefed about Åke Cedergren."

It wasn't a real battle between The Front and The Enemy yet. For that we needed the help of the Scandinavian SF Association. Their clubzine Fanac was edited by a moron, I thought, so I started a campaign to get the super-fan Bertil A G Schalén (BAGS) as editor. The campaign was called 'BAGS for Fanac' (BFF) and was initially supported by The Enemy. To write about the campaign, I started BFF News in August (with the undertitle "The Front News"), a weekly newsletter of which the first issue was hectographed. It was the first Swedish fanzine since the `50s to be produced this way -- and also the last, I believe.

When John-Henri Holmberg, as chairman of the Scandinavian SF Association, came home from a vacation in the U.S. (where he reportedly had a dinner with Jack Vance) he noticed that Fanac was under heavy fire -- and offered the editorship to Bellis! It was late in August, and the decision was to be formally taken by the board in early September.

This was a cold shower for The Front! The Enemy subsequently withdrew its support for the BFF-campaign. I wrote an angry letter to the board of the Association: "If the board is to take this decision it is mockery with the democracy in the Association. Among the members you'll find an enormous, enormous support for the notion that Bertil A G Schalén should be Fanac editor. TO APPOINT ANDERS BELLIS AS FANAC EDITOR IS SHAMEFUL FOR SVERIFANDOM!! If BAGS isn't appointed editor, the BFF campaign will take measures." Etc, etc. I was totally convinced the BFF movement was a force not seen since the rise of communism, and blatantly challenged the board.

But the letter gave results! When the formal decision of the board came, Bellis was appointed to do only one issue -- and then BAGS would do one. This made The Enemy rather angry, of course. The war was afoot...

A stream of propaganda leaflets, in the form of BFF News and TDFF Times poured over an innocent fandom during September and October of 1978. Bribery, threats, and espionage were only a few of the ingredients. Both BFF News and TDFF Times claimed to be newszines, but the information content was really bleak. Most important stories in each issue were some sort of attack on the opponent, if nothing else because his typography was lousy (i.e., even more lousy than your own).

The Enemy promised everyone who supported them 'favourable mentions' in Bellis' issue of Fanac. The Front promised all supporters free electrostencilling. The Enemy announced an 'Engholm For Fanac' campaign, as a parody of 'BAGS for Fanac'. Faked and real proxies for expressing support for one side or the other were distributed. We terrorized each other on the phone.

Bellis would, for instance, call BAGS very late at night and trick him into almost admitting that he wouldn't or couldn't do Fanac, and then call me in triumph. I would then call BAGS even later to get Bellis' claims denied. BAGS's mother was convinced we were absolute maniacs, I was later told.

Late one night I got a phone call from Hans X. He was mad at Bellis for something and offered to infiltrate The Enemy. A couple of days later he confirmed his offer with a letter:

"I agree with The Front in most things and want nothing more than to make the hateful Enemy tumble down. Preferably by infiltration, and by sending you the information. I know the Dog (Bellis) pretty well, and have studied its habits. It has had no thoughts of being betrayed by me and has thus revealed all its secrets. I can take any espionage missions, and other missions for that matter, no matter how risky. My only condition is that my secret must be kept an absolute secret, and all my messages must be destroyed after reading."

I didn't destroy any messages (for the benefit of future fannish history), but I did answer 'Yes, thanks', and devised an encryption system that could be used for communication. That secret code was based on the typewriter keyboard. You shifted all characters one step to the right (and for the rightmost, to the leftmost character). Deceiving characters were inserted for spaces, and then all characters were grouped in five. Hans became known under the codename 'Colonel Griff', The Enemy was codenamed 'Gunnar', Bellis was codenamed 'George', etc.

One year later, Bellis claimed Hans X was recruited as an Enemy spy one month before The Front did. However he was so uncertain about his loyalty that he only fed him with info about false projects. I was at the same time so uncertain about Hans' status that I too only fed him with false info about our projects. Despite this, Hans managed to feed The Front with quite a bit of genuine info, and The Enemy with info about The Front. (Hans later robbed a gas station and got one year in prison. He then turned his life around and didn't repeat espionage or gas station adventures. Out of discretion I withhold his last name.)

An important part of the espionage and wars were the secret projects. Some of The Front's projects were these:

Toothbrush -- The fannish game Stereopoly (a parody of Monopoly). Never left the drawing board. Purpose: egoboo for The Front.

Toilet -- Plans to offer The Front's assistance as editors for an issue of the fanzine SF Forum. Purpose: egoboo for The Front.

Bathtub -- Plans to write silly letters of comment in Bellis's name to leading fanzines. Wasn't done. Purpose: to make Bellis look like a fool.

(No Name) -- A false TDFF Times. Purpose: to discredit the real TDFF Times. Wasn't done, since we thought TDFF Times discredited itself well enough already.

The Enemy also had its own set of projects: Some of them were these:

Artichoke -- A false pro-BAGS fanzine.

Leek -- A follow-up to the 'Gizmo' poll.

Blueberry -- Plans to publish a fake fanzine in Ahrvid's name.

Carrot -- Kjell Söderberg (a hoax fan).

So how did it end? Well, it withered away. People soon lost interest in these intrigues. The Enemy was formally dissolved towards the end of 1978. In November and December the three founders still met and took protocols from meetings where they planned new projects (none became a reality). Leif gafiated more or less, Ylva found another boyfriend, and I went into the military service in early November. BAGS did his Fanac issue, though I couldn't type it out as promised due to screaming sergeant majors. Fanac was instead taken over by other fans, not engaged in the war.

And groups with members from both The Front and The Enemy started to get influence: the Tea Drinking Party (the party for a better tea culture), abbreviated TDP(pfebt) in Swedish, with Harald from The Front and Bellis from The Enemy as leaders, calling themselves SuperExtremeColonelGeneralPartyChairman and SuperNotQuiteAsExtremeColonelGeneralVicePartyChairman. TDP(pfebt) disliked the yellow Lipton bag-tea on common use on the meetings then, and promoted better teas. They even launched a campaign in the Swedish general election of 1979.

TDFF Times and BFF News was scrapped for a new, better newszine. At the end of December, on New Year's Eve, I and Bellis instead joined forces in the new weekly fannish newszine, The Weeks Adventure, which in it's own way changed Swedish fannish fandom forever.

The summer and fall of 1978 were magic months, though. If you invent something, you feel proud and happy. We invented the wheel once more: the art of fannish feuding and plotting. When you're in it, nothing feels more important. When you're outside it you roll on the floor laughing.

Ah, sweet idiocy!

All illustrations by Charlie Williams

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