'Mimosa Letters', illo by Sheryl Birkhead
{{ And now comes the difficult part in fanzine editing: finding a way to fit as many letters as possible into the lettercol's available space. We're always gratified by the number of letters we receive. It's not possible to print all of them, but we do want you to know that your comments are passed on to the contributors, whether or not they see print here.

Our opening and closing comments last time, describing the fire that forced us into apartment living for a year, was a very popular topic for most of our correspondents. We'll start there. }}

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William Rotsler, Reseda, California
Sorry to hear about your fire. One happened to me in the early 1980s. I was across Sunset Boulevard from my apartment house, at a TV studio with Marv Wolfman and Len Wein (Big Time Comic Book Writers) looking at the taping of a show written by a mutual friend, Mark Evanier. We quit to go eat. "Hmm," I thought, "there's a fire engine in the street outside my apartment house." I looked up to the 4th floor to see a fireman come out onto the balcony of one of the two apartments I lived in with a girl friend, and dump something into the street.

We went inside, and I looked it over. The apartment which had burned was my 'office' apartment, filled with bookcases. The fire had singed hundreds of books; one shelf looked like a world-class collection of burnt toast. Lots of other stuff had also burned, the result of an overloaded electric line.

What prompted this letter was that my entire Hugo fleet of the time (one) was blackened with soot, the front seal glue melted off. I have never cleaned it, even after 15 years, as it looks like it had a rugged re-entry.

"Okay," I said, "let's go eat." My friends were stunned at how calmly I took it all. But there was nothing I could do right then, so why get upset? All that remained was two weeks of salvage.

So I know a bit of how you felt.

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Dennis Caswell, Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Your article about the fire was interesting and chilling. I also live in a townhouse, and am likely subject to the same potential problems. When I moved in, I checked the wiring in the basement, and quickly rewired the basement lights. Under no circumstances would I accept using an appliance cord as household wiring. However, when I added some wiring in the garage so that I could use the automatic garage door opener, the next-door neighbor wanted to know why I was going through all the trouble. He suggested that I could staple an appliance cord from the outlet up to the ceiling, and plug the opener into that. I didn't bother to answer the question. Stupidity does not deserve comment.

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Elliot 'Elst' Weinstein, Claremont, California
Mimosa 17 arrived at my office today and it looks great as usual. It still is one of my favorite zines and your production values have not diminished despite your conflagration woes. Speaking of which, I hope you have recovered as best as possible. These tragedies are difficult to get through, but you have lots of well-wishers and friends in fandom to help lessen the misery.

A comment on Dave Kyle's Banquet story {{"I Miss the Banquets" }}. Since the 1970s, the only consistent worldcon banquet has been the Hogu Ranquet. We started this as a protest to the high price of banquets (at the 1972 LACon the banquet was $8, outrageously high). One year the ranquet outdrew a Westercon banquet, and further ranquets were held at times that did not conflict with the official banquet. Ironically, LACon 2 in 1984 did not even have a banquet, and the ranquet had grown so large it was held at a regular restaurant with the average tab being about $8.
illo by Brad Foster
John Boston, Brooklyn, New York
I read the back issues of Mimosa you sent with great enjoyment, though I confess I was a little disappointed by the lack of burn marks and the smell of smoke. If you ever get the rest of your inventory out of hock, I'd be interested, if only to avoid missing any of Sharon Farber's "Tales of Adventure and Medical Life." These remind me of some of the letters I have received in my career as a Legal Aid lawyer, including one from an incarcerated person who said that correction officers had murdered his family and concealed their misdeeds by means of the resurrection of the dead. Perfect crime, huh?

The supposed decline of fanzine fandom may have something to do with changing attitudes toward SF and the kind of speculation associated with it. Years ago, most people thought we were nuts; now watered-down versions of what we were reading are commonplace on TV and in the movies, and most people these days seem to have accepted that the future will be different and that the possibilities are worth discussing. As a result, people who are particularly attracted to SF are not so isolated as they were in past decades. I think that intellectual isolation had a lot to do with breeding the kind of solitary obsessiveness that motivated a lot of fanzine publishers. Not that fanzines were ever that devoted to the subject matter of science fiction, but people who read SF tended to have attitudes about a lot of things that were at odds with Mr./Ms. Average American (for example, a willingness to stop and appreciate the absurdity of a great deal of daily life).

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Elizabeth Osborne, Lima, Ohio
David Kyle's article on Worldcon banquets was very interesting, but fails to note another reason for their end: the generally poor quality of food and the overall loss of the elegance for the casual. I did not attend Worldcon conventions when banquets were popular, but I have watched a slide show put on by members of First Fandom that had pictures of early worldcons. One of the most interesting things was the lack of casual clothing in all places, not just at the banquets. From these pictures, everyone (male, that is) wore suits and ties all day. Now, even the editors wear shorts and polo shirts. Also, at First Fandom panels, I have heard horror stories of terrible meals, buffets that ran out of food before half of the people had gotten anything, and of plaster falling from the ceilings into the soup. None of these stories encourages the return of the Worldcon banquets.

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Lloyd Penney, Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Yvonne and I were among the attendees of the Hugo Crab Feast at ConStellation in Baltimore in 1983. The mountains of food were simple and decadent, which added to the appeal...a whole bayfull of crabs, and the chicken, hot dogs and burgers formed Alps on the Serving tables. Admission was relatively cheap, if I recall, and we all ate until we hurt. After this group gluttony, we were asked by the Hugo organizers not to show our appreciation and applaud with our crab mallets. Real bad move... many of us had headaches from nearly a thousand mallets hitting the banquet tables like machine gun fire. The con lost its collective shirt on this banquet, but it was reminiscent of Hugo banquets I'd read about in the past.

A question to Sharon Farber...if you've ever been to a barbecue staged by some of your medical peers, have you ever wondered if they were using a Hibachi or a bovey? I knew what a bovey was, and I've compared it to some modern kitchen items. A few years ago, Yvonne and I were asked to operate a hospitality area for a one-day con. The organizers anticipated a large demand for food, so they provided a gadget that held six wieners, and cooked them by literally electrocuting them. The wieners were impaled on electrodes, and you threw the switch and after a few minutes of BZZZZT!, the hot dogs were presumably cooked. There are a few fans in Toronto who work at local hospitals, and when I told them the hot dogs were prepared by Dr. Bovey, they almost hurled their lunch.

Finally, all the Mr. Peanut cartoons in the issue remind me of a New Yorker cartoon Murray Moore sent me recently... Mr. Peanut is sitting in a bar, keeping company of a comely young lady, she asks, "So...is there a Mrs. Peanut?"

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Brian Earl Brown, Detroit, Michigan
Sharon Farber's tales from the medical darkside are always a delight and one of the few fannish things my wife Denice still reads. As an LPN, Sharon's tales cut close to home. I've heard that some people complain that they're not fannish, so she shouldn't be nominated for a Fan Writer Hugo, but what a load of @#$%. Ansibles may come and go, but I intend to hang on to these Mimosas with Sharon's tales in them.

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Karen Pender-Gunn, Blackburn, Victoria, Australia
I just loved the 'Chat' cartoon this time, I just laughed and laughed. It made more sense having met you in Glasgow and knowing the characters looked a little like you.

I am amazed that Sharon Farber made it through medical school; so many people putting so many obstacles in her way! I congratulate her for her persistence. It really makes me mad when people display the 'women shouldn't do this' attitude -- it makes me boil! Apart from the obvious sexual things (and those can be substituted in some cases), women can do what they like and are usually better at some things. It's all a matter of training. In medical areas, I know of nurses who tell the visiting doctors what the patient needs as the nurses have the experience and the doctors don't have a clue.

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Irv Koch, Alexandria, Virginia
Some nitpicking on Teddy Harvia's 'Chat' cartoon on page 36. First off, the drawing of Nicki is pretty good but Rich is much taller and thinner (at least in comparison). Were that fixed, the cartoon is still totally bogus. The ghod Chat would never allow itself to be confined to a cage.

And, yes, I like the pro printed version of the zine. I still predict you'll eventually shift to an online version on the web (which I can't get at) with scanned-in replicas of twiltone.

{{ Not until flatbed scanners become a little more affordable. Even web page space is a bit pricy; the annual cost for enough website storage for just one issue of Mimosa is the better part of $100. We've got a couple issues there now only because we were offered a deal we just couldn't refuse.

{{ ed. note (2005): Things obviously changed since the time when that comment was originally written! }}

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Henry L. Welch, Grafton, Wisconsin
Thanks for sending me a copy of Mimosa 17. This may be sacrilegious to say, but I prefer the 'professionally done' look to the 'mimeo' look. I realize that from an economic standpoint mimeo is much cheaper and I cannot fault you if you choose to return to that method once your living arrangements return to some resemblance of normality. I cannot begin to understand the fallout should I be forced to vacate my home for over nine months. The two young children are problem enough when they have a whole house to run rampant in, and the energy it would take to maintain the yard (at a distance) would be phenomenal.

{{ Luckily, there wasn't any yard to maintain. It was a townhouse, so the only thing resembling a 'yard' was a semi-wild area under the deck in the back. And since the place was under reconstruction, that whole area was in a continual trampled-down state. The only constant chore was to pick up what little mail came there. }}

The fan anecdotes are up to the usual high quality. Many of them stir the longing of "I wish I was there" which is the hallmark of a good piece of this type.

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Rodney Leighton, Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada
Regarding the printing process: to me, if you can afford it, it would be more sensible to go with the printer and retire the mimeo to its proper place in history and antiquity, this saving yourself lots of work. Some people will doubtlessly point out that a mimeographed fanzine is perfect for the format of Mimosa, which is true. But the quality of the writing does not change with the form of reproduction.

{{ Okay, okay, we get the message! Most of the people who commented on our switch from mimeo to a commercial printer were supportive of the change. Also, it really does save a lot of work, even though it's more expensive to print the fanzine this way. Anybody in the market for a couple of used mimeos? }}

After reading John Berry's article {{"Brides and Groomesport" }}, I believe he is a horny old goat! But he sure can write! Anything I've ever seen by him has been highly enjoyable. And Peggy Ranson sure knows how to draw sexy broads, doesn't she! I thought all the art in this issue was good although the only thing which really got my attention was the above mentioned drawing and Charlie Williams's peanut on page 24 which got a big laugh.
illo by William Rotsler
Pamela Boal, Charlton Heights, Wantage, Oxon, United Kingdom
I have been bemoaning of late the scarcity of artists and artwork in fanzines. I am so pleased to have my argument so well refuted. Eleven artists and thirty-four items of artwork, every one apt and a delight!

{{ One of the things we had wanted to do when we started this fanzine was to feature fan art as well as fan writing. We're happy to pass your compliments along to the artists. }}

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Teddy Harvia, Hurst, Texas
I love Joe Mayhew's rumpled-looking cartoon illustrations. His fire-breathing bespeckled idol flamed me, his 'name that bug' sent me into spirochetes of laughter, and his naked hairy legs ripped my shorts off.

I don't understand Steve Stiles's cover art, but then I'd hate to have to explain all the stuff I've drawn either. It just isn't fun or funny if one has to do that.

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Vincent Clarke, Welling, Kent, United Kingdom
Nice cover on M17, though I always have an uneasy feeling about Steve Stiles's stuff. He seems to work in some sort of trufan environment from which I'm excluded.

Anyway, the pieces about The Fire were very good indeed -- they satisfy all the queries that have been stirring restlessly under the surface. Looks as though you have a good insurance company.

Also, Es Cole and Dean Grennell's twin tributes to Bloch were very well done, and Charlie Williams was exceptional on the heading and illo on Dag's piece -- exactly suited to the subject.

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Steve George, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
The remembrances of Robert Bloch were touching, and I thought I'd toss in my own. Back in 1977 when I first met fandom and started to publish my own fanzine (Zosma), I acquired an extensive mailing list from another local fan. I remember seeing Bloch's name and address, and debating whether I should send him my dingy little zine. I knew he was the author of Psycho, a contemporary of Lovecraft's, and an author whose work I had read and admired. It seemed presumptuous, arrogant, even disrespectful to send him a crappy little fanzine run off on a hand-cranked mimeograph by a 17-year-old kid. There were also addresses for Heinlein in that list, as well as Asimov, and a few others. I removed most of them. I just couldn't bring myself to inflict upon these writers, who were my heroes at the time, my own first efforts. Somehow or other, Bloch's name stayed in the list.

When my first Letters of Comment arrived I was, as any faned who can tell you who receives a LoC for the first time, ecstatic. What put me over the top was the small, canary yellow postcard from Robert Bloch. He said he'd read my fanzine and liked it. He said what had prompted him to write was the return address. His wife, he said, was from Winnipeg, and so he knew good things could come from this place. I took that postcard to show the other fellows in Decadent Winnipeg Fandom. I must have carried it in my back pocket for a week. Over the years I collected a few more, and whenever I tried to explain to people why I published a fanzine and gave it away for free, I would tell them about my postcards from Robert Bloch. After a couple of years, I stopped sending my fanzine to pros. It seemed like the fannish thing to do. Filthy Pros and all that . But thinking back, it always amazes me to think that one of my first LoCs was from 'the guy who wrote Psycho'.

I moved on from publishing fanzines to making a living writing horror novels. This also amazes me when I think back on it, because I always wanted to write Science Fiction. Perhaps Robert Bloch had more of an influence on me than I admit. But I know that isn't true. Robert Bloch was not my mentor. He was just a generous professional writer who sent some nice postcards to a wide eyed seventeen year-old faned.

{{ We too miss those canary yellow postcards. Bloch had a knack for being witty and succinct at the same time, something not many people are good at. }}

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Buck Coulson, Hartford City, Indiana
Good Grennell article, but then he doesn't write bad ones. We have a fair number of Bloch postcards around here somewhere; he used to write to Yandro. I recall when our son was born, he sent us some advice for parents: "Never feed the baby liquids. Dry food, dry baby." And other such examples of Bloch logic.

Lovely article by Sharon Farber. I think I'll run a copy and present it to our family doctor, who should love it. (He's the one who excerpted my acid comments on a hospital stay from Yandro and taped them up on the hospital bulletin board. Next time I went into the hospital, the people I'd complained about weren't there. He's also the doctor who listened to my symptoms, asked if I knew what disease they pointed to, and when I said no, told me I had my choice, tetanus or rabies. I think I said "Oh!" Then he said he didn't think I had either one, or I couldn't have walked into his office, but he didn't know what the hell I did have. "Here's a broad-spectrum antibiotic; if that doesn't work, come back and I'll try something different." It worked, and I decided this was my kind of doctor.)

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Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois
I much enjoyed Dean Grennell's memoir of Bob Bloch {{"Chips Off the Old Bloch" }}. I read Bloch's own 'unauthorized autobiography', Once Around the Bloch, and a funnier, more entertaining book I've not read in a long time. And yet, there was seriousness in it, and a frank appraisal of himself and his milieu(x), that give the book depth. It is a curious fact that the Bates Motel, in Bates, Illinois (a wide spot in the road a few miles from Springfield on old Route 36) burned to the ground shortly after Bob died. The motel was built back in the '50s, I think, and had a precarious existence for some decades. Its business no doubt increased somewhat in the wake of the movie Psycho, but in the `70s a new Route 36 (now I-72) was built between Springfield and Jacksonville which took away all but local traffic, and the Bates Motel closed its doors for lack of business. It had been abandoned and in ruins for years before it burned. I don't know whether Bloch ever saw or visited the Bates [Illinois] Motel, though it's likely he did, during one of his visits to Bob Tucker, who lived in Jacksonville, Illinois, for many years.

I was very interested to learn the origin of the Spayed Gerbil (or, knowing the Glicksohnian propensity for card games, '' Gerbil) in Ben Zuhl's article {{"The Canadian, the Myth, and the Chambanacon Bar" }}. I was croggled to see my own name in Ben's article, for in the 17 years since Chambanacon `77 I'd completely forgotten about knee fandom. Actually, Glicksohn's knees are no hairier than mine or anyone else's, because Mike habitually wears trousers, not kilts. The hair that would otherwise obscure the knee is worn away by the rubbing of the fabric on the skin covering the patella. Scots traditionally have hairy knees because the kilt doesn't rub there. Of course, the sight of Glicksohn in full Highland gear is...well...need I say more?

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Bernard Peek, Stratford, London, United Kingdom
The articles about Robert Bloch reminds me of John Brunner, also an inveterate Punster. I suppose most people know by now that Brunner died during the Worldcon this year. I didn't know him well, but we have run into each other at countless UK conventions. I always enjoyed his company. He was the first SF pro I ever spoke to, and very much a fan.

Concerning Dave Kyle's article about the disappearance of worldcon banquets, the convention banquet has also gone from large British conventions. It would just be possible to run one but there are several reasons not to try. Firstly there is the problem of predicting numbers. Asking people to pay in advance seems to be the only way of avoiding expensive mistakes. Secondly there was a lot of resentment after the 1987 Hugo ceremony. Quite a number of people didn't want to pay for an expensive meal, and didn't see why those that did should have privileged seating for the Hugo awards.

We did try it for one convention. For some years we have been holding a regular Christmas dinner for a few fans (traditionally 13) -- held at some randomly selected weekend during the year. The last one was a few weeks after this years's Worldcon and I couldn't make it.

We decided that the best chance of getting a hotel to cook a reasonably good banquet was to ask for something they had done before. Which meal have they cooked most often? Right, Christmas Dinner -- chicken, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts. Followed by Christmas Pudding, mince pies, brandy butter, custard.

So we asked the hotel and they made a creditable attempt. It wasn't the best con banquet that I've had, but nobody got food-poisoning either.

Sharon Farber's descriptions of the medical profession don't surprise me at all. I was taking evening classes last year and we had to write some assignments about the places we worked. Several of the others on the course were working in hospitals. It sounds as if medicine is the same the world over. Doctors seem to believe that having got their consultancy they never need to learn anything, ever again.

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Joseph Major, Louisville, Kentucky
Though like everyone else I read and enjoyed Robert Bloch's unauthorized autobiography (and having to explain that to an entirely uncomprehending letter-writer was something else, let me tell you) Once Around the Bloch, I found Dean A. Grennell's memoir fascinating. Almost like the time I was reading the autobio in a restaurant, got to the point where Bloch described "Doc" Smith and his wonderful daughter, and Verna Smith Trestrail herself came in and sat down a couple of tables over.

I doubt Dave Kyle arranged the banquet at MidAmeriCon, or at least after reading his article I hope that he was not responsible. Eleven members of FOSFA bought tickets. The tables seated ten each. Cliff Amos later told me he had thought the place-setters would break the group up six and five. Instead, there was one FOSFA table and one singleton with nine other fen. Guess who the lone guy was? I did not spend that much time at my seat, either.

A couple of years ago when I bought Robert Conquest's Stalin and the Kirov Murder at Carmichael's Books here in Louisville, our fannish contact there (Bob Roehm) commented that there was an old fan from England of the same name. Not quite, he was informed. Since then I have added to my Conquest collection, even his SF novel A World of Difference (Harry Turtledove has no reason to fear the competition). Nevertheless, the Willis article {{ "I Remember Me" }} is a welcome addition to knowledge.

You know, after reading 4E's revelation {{ "Through Time and Space with Forry Ackerman, Part 2" }} about making up the news, I feel this immense sense of relief. All that stuff about a football player and two murders and several stupid lawyers and a gang of kooks was just made up. It was, wasn't it? His dedication to recording the immortal words of Heinlein at the Denvention is likewise to be commended, and I cannot wait to hear of the twentieth anniversary.

In the letters column, Martin Morse Wooster ought to be aware that there is a radio station in California that jealously clings to its old three-letter call sign. Yakov Smirnoff told of how he nearly had an accident when he tuned to it while driving. Well, I suppose any Soviet refugee would be upset upon hearing from the radio "This is KGB -- and we know where you are!"

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Martin Morse Wooster, Silver Spring, Maryland
I'm really glad you're running Forry Ackerman's fan reminiscences. He's a charming writer who's always a treat to read, and I hope I'm as enthusiastic and eager about sf as Forry is when I'm his age.

Also, Ben Zuhl's article was pretty funny, but there's one problem -- its events are too recent. I wasn't at the two Chambanacons that Zuhl describes, but I was at the 1978 Chambanacon, and remember Mike Glicksohn well from midwest conventions of that era. (I actually was one of the few fans, for example, ever to win money from Glicksohn at a poker game.) But fanhistory can't have happened at conventions I attended -- I'm too young! Fanhistory always takes place in the mystical past, where everything (hotel rooms, banquets, Heinlein manuscripts) never costs more than a dollar, and where no one is over 30. I suppose the sign of being an old and tired fan these days is remembering mimeoed fanzines. Or corflu. Or Twiltone paper. Or typewriters...
illo by William Rotsler
Vicki Rozensweig, New York City, New York
Both Dean Grennell and Es Cole write a good memoir. I never had the pleasure of meeting Robert Bloch, but they make me feel almost as if I had -- a feeling promoted, of course, by Bloch's writing, both professional and fannish.

Sharon Farber's medical memoirs continue to be a delight to experience. The latest episode is a classic example of the story that is amusing afterwards, but for which "at least I'll get an article out of it" is cold comfort for having to live through it. The whole leaves me with little faith in American medical education, which may be unfortunate since believing in one's doctor seems to be an important element in many cures.

John Berry and Walt Willis are their usual entertaining selves. Unlike Sharon's article, John's makes me think he enjoyed the events he's relating, though his daughter may have been disappointed by the results. And the idea of a self-employed full-time writer being able to claim paid sick leave from the government is delightful, though I doubt it would fly in these mean-spirited days.
illo by Alexis Gilliland
William Bains, Melbourn, Royston, Herts, United Kingdom
The Robert Bloch reminiscences had a fine mix of trivial humanity and insight. Michael Burstein's report on Clarion {{ "The Clarion Call" }} was clearer than most 'report' writing in fanzines, and also kept that wonderful mix of tight focus detail in broad context. Of course, as a Clarion graduate, he should be able to write well. I would never dare. I am a pretty good writer, for a scientist, and do not want to flip over into being a bloody awful writer, for a writer.

Sharon Farber's medical life articles are always what I read first in Mimosa, and usually what I read last, and again one or two times in-between. She is a terrific writer with material that makes the most bizarre excesses of fandom look like merchant banking. If she has not considered assembling the "Tales of Adventure and Medical Life" for professional publication, she should do so. I mean it. A whole world of people out there vaguely suspect that medicine is not an infallible science performed by near-omniscient supermen, and would buy a book that promised to tell it like it really is. And they would then discover that, in fact, medicine is beyond the wildest dreams of anyone who has not actually seen doctors in action after the anaesthetic has taken the civilians out.

{{ Actually, there is such a book, The House of God by Samuel Shem, M.D., and a collection of Sharon's articles would also be welcome. }}

 Ben Zuhl's stuff on Knees was, maybe, just a bit too in-groupish to make good writing. It fell into the 'well, you just had to be there' school of reminiscence, which is pretty pointless to the large majority of your readers who by definition were not there. Similarly, another instalment from Ahrvid Engholm on Swedish fandom {{"Silly Fan Games" }}. Now, I have nothing against Sweden. As I write this, there is a small but significant chance I will move there soon, and I spent a couple of weeks in the Stockholm area this year already. I like Sweden, I like most of the Swedes I meet (which is more than I can say for the British, after all). But some of this got to be a bit 'WYJHTBT'.

{{ One could say that of any reminisces, but these vignettes are what fannish legends are made of. How many times has a small happening made a big impact on fandom, such as preferring staples over glue or wearing a costume to an SF con. Knees fandom could have taken over! }}

Some of the games sounded fun, though. Some sounded pretty stupid, but then games usually do when described sober. The Norwegian cards-without-rules game I had predated with the game of 'Gingham', I think at the 1979 Worldcon. (Gingham is the name of a particular type of check-patterned tablecloth.) It is played on a check-patterned table top with sugar cubes, according to strict rules. However, each side makes up their own rules at the start of the game, and does not tell anyone else what they are. Hence the two sides (it can be three, of course) are playing by different rules. The wise player makes rules about what he can do to the opponent if they break one of his rules. Then you play, until the audience agrees that one side has won. Winning therefore involves making a bold move, for example, picking up one of your opponents sugar cubes and dropping it in his beer, and then sitting back and looking smug. The only other rule is that it is not permissible to play Gingham sober.

Storra Mossen. Ah, I knew it was here. The Swedish version of the underground station naming game. Ye Gods, 10-to-the-18th people must by now have pointed out to you that Finchley Central does exist on the London Underground. What about the song, Ahrvid: "Finchley Central, Finchley Central/ is two-and-sixpence/ from Camden Town on the Northern Line." (Beatles, I think, circa 1965). (Two and Sixpence, incidentally, is 12.25 pence, or almost exactly one Swedish Kroner, so Ahrvid ought to know!) There are many tube stations on the London Underground that are not there, such as Marlborough Road (between Swiss Cottage and St. John's Wood), Trafalgar Square (between Piccadilly Circus and Charing Cross) and so on, both of which were there in 1932 maps of the Underground but have now disappeared! (I had to take hours off in the Bodlein Library in Oxford to find this stuff out, you know. Fannish trivia takes time.) Curiously, the most common British version of this game is called 'Mornington Crescent', not Finchley Central, and although Mornington Crescent exists on the London Underground, it is never open. Trains whizz past its dimly lit, dust-strewn platforms and never stop!

Actually, I think that the London Underground is a B-movie waiting to happen.

My favourite fannish game was invented by a non-fan. It is underwater cycle-skating, and really I do not need to say any more than that. Dry ice hockey is a real game, played on any flat surface with a lump of dry ice (solid CO2). The gas evaporating off the CO2 makes it skate over the surface. Soon it wears flat on the base, and acts like a frictionless puck. You must not hit it too hard or it smashes (and you lose) or pick it up -- at least, not for very long -- as otherwise you lose the skin on your hand. Pretty much anything else goes, I think. You can play a table-top version with a small lump of dry ice too, except those are small enough to be picked up and, in extremis, dropped into someone's drink.

On the topic of printed letters vs. e-mail, personally, I very much prefer printed magazines, fanzines, letters, etc. to e-mail. I can read them wherever I want, they have permanence, and my fading eyesight can scan them quickly rather than decoding a tiny square of poorly resolved squiggles. But it must be so much easier for editors. So this goes to your e-mail, if I can get it to work.

{{ It did. E-mails can have permanence if you download them, then print them out (which we do). We haven't noticed that e-mails are any better (or less-well) composed and written than surface mail, but for some reason people seem more apt to send us comments on Mimosa if they have access to e-mail. }}

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Harry Warner, Jr., Hagerstown, Maryland
Clarion has always been a dubious concept to me because I fear its modus operandi may have ruined the potential careers of as many aspiring science fiction writers as the number of beginners it has helped to become professionals. I doubt if a person's ability to withstand harsh criticism is necessarily linked to his potential as a good writer, and some individuals must have emerged from the course determined to become plumbers or electricians because training in those fields is less hectic. But obviously, Michael Burstein is tough enough to have benefited, and I hope his weeks at East Lansing will prove to have turned him into a first-rate writer in the near future.

As for Ahrvid Engholm's article about Swedish fandom, it's astonishing to find my name was being used in almost a mythic sense over there years ago. It's just the way Confederate and Union soldiers might feel if they returned to life today and found their diaries and letters selling for enormous prices or in contemporary books about the Civil War.

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Rachel Russell, Vienna, Virginia
Mimosa 17 is great! I especially enjoyed "The Clarion Call" by Michael A. Burstein. A part of me regrets that I learned about Clarion 'too late' in life -- i.e., I am stuck on the wheel of paychecks/bills too hard to escape for six weeks of bliss. And my husband Eric, a Clarion grad, shakes his head and says stuff like, "No wife of mine is going to a Clarion," with an odd, tense look in his eye.

It was also really interesting to read about Howard Waldrop. Having just got back from World Fantasy Con, I was eager to learn more about this man. Ed Bryant at his reading had said not to miss Waldrop's reading, because he (Waldrop) has a great voice. Eric and I obey well but we'd never heard of Howard Waldrop (sorry!) and had no idea what to expect. Well, Burstein described Waldrop's accent extremely well, but left out the fact that he's a fairly short, stocky man, with twinkling elf eyes. He climbs up on the table, crosses his legs tailor-fashion, which reveals bright red socks, and warns the packed room: "I read fast." It was a rollercoaster of readings, especially because the speed combined with the accent, made it completely incomprehensible to me, but nonetheless entertaining! Howard Waldrop made quite an impression, and I'm eagerly going to search out his stories now. And no one should miss an opportunity to hear Waldrop read!

Finally, though Clarion seems out of reach, I've been a member of a local science fiction and fantasy writing group for several years now. I'm going to suggest a manuscript sacrifice to my gang. Actually, this is my second group. I feel sure a tale lies in this madness, and I'll work on that for you!

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David Bratman, San Jose, California
The item which most directly caught my attention in Mimosa17 was Walt Willis's revelation that he is mentioned in the letters of Philip Larkin. This pleased me because I am a fan of the writings of both Willis and Larkin, and the idea that the great poet might have come across some of Willis's clerihews or his exercise in comparative pronunciation "I'm rather fogged / about Van Vogt" was vaguely thrilling. However, I was a little mystified by the quotation in "I Remember Me," since it seems to quote Larkin talking about his published letters in the third person, which doesn't make any sense. So I consulted a copy of the book, and found that the letter to Robert Conquest, which is dated 14 April 1955 (not 19 April 1954 as "I Remember Me" states), says "I never came across Willis, I'm afraid, though several times I heard Slant mentioned." The rest of what the article gives as an indented quotation must be from Bob Leman's letter to Willis.

I have to agree with Bob, then, that it's unfortunate that the editor of the letters didn't include a footnote explaining who this Willis and Slant were, especially since Robert Conquest is (or at least was then) still around and could elucidate. However, that wouldn't be as bad as supplying a footnote and getting it wrong. In Philip K. Dick's Exegesis there's an enthusiastic if cryptic reference to three performers he names only as Kate, Anna, and Loudon. The book's editor provides a footnote describing them as three unidentified women. But I'm not the only reader who instantly recognized them as the folk musicians Kate and Anna McGarrigle, and Loudon Wainwright III, one of whom is not a woman, you have one guess which.

There are a few references to sf scattered through Larkin's letters, I see. I can't tell if he was much of a reader of it, but he associated with people -- not just Conquest, but Edmund Crispin and Kingsley Amis -- who certainly were, so maybe a little of their enthusiasm rubbed off. I don't know what prompted Conquest to ask Larkin if he'd heard of Willis, but it's too bad Conquest didn't ask Willis to send Larkin a fanzine or two -- we might have made yet another distinguished recruit.

I too, like Dave Kyle, miss the Worldcon banquet, even though unlike him I've never been to any. They seemed to disappear in the mid-70s, just as I was getting involved, and I was not at those few Worldcons that sponsored revivals of the tradition. But I've been to other conventions, such as Mythcons and World Fantasy Cons, which still do have banquets, and even if I skip the meal and just show up for the show afterwards, I appreciate the unifying effect they have on the con. If other cons, including Worldcons, seem vague and diffuse these days, it's probably because they have no communal event that brings everybody together. (Sitting in a darkened auditorium for the masquerade doesn't count, and at most local cons I attend not everybody goes to the masquerade anyway.)

Don't tell Ahrvid Engholm, but there is indeed a station on the London underground called 'Finchley Central'. If an American can know that, why not a Swede?

I'm very sorry indeed that January 3rd is a date that will live in infamy, and not just because it has a happier connotation for me: it's Tolkien's birthday. If your neighbor's home had a shared wall with yours, it's fortunate that the fire damage wasn't even worse, if that's any small comfort.

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Kristin Thorrud, Uppsala, Sweden
I guess I shouldn't bother to meddle with Ahrvid's fan mythology -- it's neither very important nor rewarding to squabble about petty details (and anyway, mythology's not what it is if it's all historically correct); but it's the first time I ever heard tell of the 'Norwegian card game without rules' that he mentions in his article on "Silly Fan Games." Being a Norwegian fan myself and knowing both the 'originators' he mentions, and having been fanactive during the same period, I can't recall that we ever touched a deck of cards, either within fandom or out of it. And we used to socialize around the clock.

An actual game which this selfsame group of Norwegian fans did invent several years ago as an amusement at Kringcon in 1987 or 1988 was typewriter throwing. Somebody had donated an aged typewriter, and the participants were simply to throw it as far as possible, to the cheers of the public. I think they even gave points for style. A huge amount of tape was needed to keep the poor machine together so that all the participants could get a chance to throw it, since it started disintegrating quite early on.

I see in your letters column that Martin Morse Wooster suffers under the misconception that the Swedes are the only ones here in the cold North to have "...produced fannishness." I don't believe that either the Danes, the Norwegians, of the Finns would entirely agree. I just don't think we/they care enough to pronounce ourselves 'fannish' or not. We shall let the Swedes keep the claim to 'true fannishness' if it make them happy.

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Pär Nilsson, Göteborg, Sweden
Steve Stiles's cover for Mimosa 17 was great, but the articles were not quite up to the usual standard this issue -- which, considering just how high that standard is, nevertheless means that it was an interesting read. (Perhaps your fire reports put a damper on the entire fanzine.)

Ahrvid Engholm's description of the 'bheer hewing' contest contained a few oversights, which I now will attempt to rectify. First of all, there's the translation of the Swedish word 'ölhärning' 'beer heaving' seems more appropriate. Secondly, you're not supposed to drink the beer, you're supposed to get it out of the bottle (we'll stick to bottle heaving for the moment) as quickly as possible. To achieve this you close your mouth around the bottleneck, tilt your head backwards and shake the bottle, thereby creating a high pressure in the bottle. If you allow the beer free passage down your throat, all will be well; if not, a powerful recoil known as a 'sprut' will occur. Ahrvid also failed to mention that you must not spill beer over a surface larger than a Swedish 5 SEK coin; if you do, you are disqualified due to 'dräll'. And you must not touch the bottle with any part of your body before the referee gives the signal to heave. Similar rules apply for beer heaving from half-litre and one-litre tankards. In these cases, the beer is swallowed in huge gulps.

In his letter, Martin Morse Wooster asks for a Swedish-English fannish lexicon; a suitable subject for Ahrvid's next Mimosa contribution, perhaps? In the meantime, yes, there are English terms that we use without translation, including 'egoboo' and 'fugghead'.

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John-Henri Holmberg, Viken, Sweden
As far as Swedish fannish word usage goes, we're all speaking English. 'Fanzine' is fanzine; the same goes for things like 'egoboo', 'fugghead', 'con', 'gafia', 'fiawol', 'fanne', 'neo', and what have you. In a couple of instances, I and one or two other other linguistic purists have suggested that we might deviate from normal English fanspeak -- for instance, I don't think the word 'personalzine' comes across well in Swedish, since the word 'personal' in English actually translates as 'personlig', while the Swedish word 'personal' means 'hired staff'. Thus, in Swedish, 'personaltidning' is a corporate in-house magazine published for the company staff, and 'personalzine' would suggest a 'zine aimed at ones hirelings. But I guess if we can live with 'apa', which in Swedish actually means 'monkey', we can survive this too.

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Richard A. Dengrove, Alexandria, Virginia
I thought you were through with theme issues in Mimosa, but #17 seemed to be a theme issue. The theme was 'fans are crazy'. The only one who was sane there was Robert Bloch. He seems to have sublimated all his problems into gory fiction. On the other hand, Michael Burstein paid a lot of money at Clarion to learn how to play practical jokes. Ben Zuhl is fixated on knees and spayed gerbils. Ahrvid Engholm has written another article to prove that Swedish fandom is suffering from an advanced case of infantilism. About Ahrvid, how besides infantilism can you explain the Peanut Defense Initiative, Frozen Menthane Hockey and games known for their total purposelessness? Then there is John Berry who has delusions of grandeur that he is a famous designer, and Forrest J Ackerman who seems to have a case of obsessive compulsion when it comes to science fiction. How else could he think up "Sergeant Ray Bradbury seen in the company of Captain A. E. Van Vogt" for his fake zine?

In short, they are my kind of people!

{{ Ours too. But it really wasn't a fake zine, it actually appeared in print that way! }}

By the way, we Americans have a homemade game, 'Pontificating on Politics'. Unlike Ahrvid's games, it has rules: the one who spouts the most cliches wins. One pontificator says things like 'Compassion', 'Balancing the budget on the backs of the poor', 'Some of my best friends are...'

Another says things like 'We have to stop spending our children's inheritance', 'Tough love', 'Welfare cadillacs'. Doesn't Pontificating sound like a fun game? I see people playing it everywhere.
illo by William Rotsler
We Also Heard From
Forrest J Ackerman, Ray Allard, Harry Andruschak, William Breiding, Ned Brooks, Michael A. Burstein, Mike Cheater, Lester Cole, Lindsay Crawford, Chester Cuthbert, Gary Deindorfer, Nick DiChario, Carolyn Doyle, Cathy Doyle, Tom Feller, George Flynn, Jenny Glover, Ben Indick, Terry Jeeves, Steve Jeffery, Kenneth Lake, David Langford, David Levine, Ethel Lindsay, Adrienne Losin, Miguel L. Martinez, Patrick McGuire, Kev McVeigh, Catherine Mintz, Murray Moore, Janice Murray, Joseph Nicholas, Bruce Pelz, Sarah Prince, Dave Romm, Dave Rowe, Skel, Roxanne Smith-Graham, Noreen Shaw, Steve Sneyd, Steve Stiles, Alan Sullivan, Roy Tackett, Bob Tucker, Ron Trout, R Laurraine Tutihasi, Michael Waite, and Walt Willis.

Title illustration by Sheryl Birkhead
Other illustrations by Brad Foster, William Rotsler, and Alexis Gilliland

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