'Mimosa Letters' lettercol illo 
  by Sheryl Birkhead
{{ Perhaps not quite so many letters this time, but the ones we did receive had many good comments -- our thanks to everybody who wrote! The two articles that received the most comments were the longest in the issue: the third installment of Mike Resnick's look back at the worldcons he's attended and Richard's closing comments remembrance of people and places. Here's a sampling of the M24's mail, starting with Nicki's Opening Comments about an evening we spent at a sporting event... }}

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Milt Stevens, Simi Valley, California
Reading Nicki's "A Night at the Ball Park," made me realize I'd never thought much about the risks of attending a baseball game. Of course, I'd heard the hot dogs served at baseball games would be forbidden by the Geneva Convention if they were ever used in warfare. There are also those dark rumors about Dodger Dogs being made out of former Dodgers. However, I'd never envisioned medics with stretchers and red cross arm bands rushing into the stands to retrieve the bodies of wounded spectators. Maybe baseball fans should take up the practice of yelling some appropriate comment like "INCOMING!" Knowing the government's tendency to pass laws protecting everybody (and particularly insurance companies) from everything, it's a little surprising we haven't seen any baseball game helmet laws. Considering the amount of beer baseball fans are said to consume, maybe there should also be baseball game seatbelt laws to keep the fans from falling out of the stands altogether.

Mike Resnick's comments {{in "Worldcon Memories (Part 3)" }} that each of the Nycons was a bit of a disaster started me thinking. Fans would have had a hard time determining that the first Nycon, in 1939, was a disaster, since they had no other worldcons with which to compare it. Maybe suffering a lot was just part of the worldcon experience. From later conventions, we have learned that some convention attendees would even enjoy being beaten with whips. Since the first three worldcons had a constantly declining number of attendees, Nycon I may have been considered the pick of the litter. I've seen some comments in fanzines from after the third worldcon expressing grave doubts about the future of science fiction conventions. Without the development of commercial air travel, science fiction conventions would have at least remained very small and possibly ceased entirely.

Finally, reading accounts of using a hectograph such as Dave Kyle's {{in "Phamous Phantasy Phan" }} are like reading an account of going over the top in World War One. I'm perfectly willing to read about either activity, but quite glad I never had to engage in them myself.

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Roy Lavender, Long Beach, California
Mike Resnick's article brought back memories of the 1977 Worldcon, at Miami Beach, though for me, the most vivid memory of all was of that convention's close. Picture, if you will, two huge marble lobbies at the Fontainebleu Hotel, filled with massive amounts of luggage that costume fans bring. The fans themselves, many still in remnants of costumes and looking very much like they attended most of the previous night's parties. At the same time, members of the incoming convention began to arrive -- Southern Black Baptists, each and every one dressed in their Sunday Go-to-Meeting best clothes. Talk about culture shock!

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Ted White, Falls Church, Virginia
I read through Mike Resnick's 'memory' of NyCon 3 (1967) with some interest, since I was co-chair of that con and I handled the programming. He says "the programming was overwhelmingly fannish. Very few panels with or about pros," but in simple fact, there was less fannish programming at NyCon 3 than at most previous worldcons, and all of it confined to the first day of the con. The remaining three days were nothing but pro programs. I gather Mike had no interest in the dialog between hot new writer Samuel Delaney and Roger Zelazny, for example, and that was only one of the half dozen Dialogues set up between two pro participants.

Also, no pro panel at NyCon 3 had "Should One Man Be Editing Three Prozines" as a topic, much less as its announced title. Mike wasn't selling SF to prozines in those days or he'd have appreciated more the fact that too few editors were running the remaining magazines. The fewer the editors, the narrower the chances for selling a story. (For what it's worth, Harry Harrison announced his new editorship of Amazing and Fantastic from the stage at NyCon 3.)

There's a strange arrogance behind Mike's memories, which perhaps would disturb me less if I weren't the unwitting object of his condescension and scorn. 1967 was a long time ago, and most of what he remembers is a meeting with an editor and spending too much money in a restaurant. But I will agree with him that the hotel situation in New York City was not -- and still is not -- on par with that of most other large American cities.
illo by Alexis Gilliland and William 
Noreen Shaw, Valley Village, California
Mike Resnick's con-going memoir reminds me that, for some reason, there is long history of SF cons being thrown together with Scientology or the clergy. At Philly in 1953, for instance, there was a famous encounter in the elevator between Sprague de Camp and a Scientologist. The kid was gosh-wowing Hubbard to his friends and Sprague, tall, superbly dignified and self-possessed, was heard to say loudly, "I knew L. Ron Hubbard when he was just a small time crook."

Mike mentioned the long Star Wars movie line at LAcon II; it was supremely depressing to me, and I like Star Wars. I knew when I saw the contrast between the smaller Hugo Awards Ceremony audience and the film crowd that the game was over. Mike also mentioned the Autry museum in L.A. as a Good Thing. Let me also throw in the Miniature Museum and the Peterson Car Museum, both within walking distance from there. The Miniature museum is truly amazing -- don't think doll houses; think instead of replicas of famous buildings and great houses. The Peterson is heaven for car buffs and also features a history of the auto. Which brings me to Curt Phillips and his day at NASCAR. {{"Nights of Thunder" }} What a terrific article! Did you know that beneath this modest exterior beats the heart of a NASCAR junkie? I can't picture Curt not recognizing King Richard Petty at the track, but I forgive him because of the sheer enjoyment of reading the article.

Finally, in Dave Kyle's memoir he mentions Siegel and Schuster of Superman fame. Hidden in the back of my mind a memory leapt out. Sometime around 1940, one of the local (Cleveland) movie theaters had them in the lobby on a Saturday afternoon, drawing for the kids. They were both Cleveland guys and impossibly young at the time. Little did I know I was in the presence of greatness.

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Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois
I enjoyed Ron Bennett's remembrance of Vincent Clarke {{"Memories of Vin¢" }} even though the memories were tinged with sadness. Alas, when I was a British fan in the 1970s, Vin¢ wasn't active so I didn't get to know him except as a fannish legend.

Mike Resnick's "Worldcon Memories" series continues to be enjoyable, and now I can comment by telling a bit about the sole worldcon experience of my fannish life, viz., 1974's Discon II. My congoing experience had been at smaller British Eastercons and a few American regional conventions, and I found the sheer size of Discon (over 5,000 attendees) rather off-putting. I can attest to the maze of the Sheraton, but I heard no Martha Beck bongos, so my room must have been a ways away from Mike's. One of my favorite memories of that convention was sitting next to and chatting with Susan Wood at a room party, she in an electric blue dress and holding her Hugo, as happy as she could be. And I was happy for her. Ever since Discon I've limited my congoing to comparatively small local cons like Midwestcon and Chambanacon, which have a few hundred attendees at most!

Finally, Curt Phillips' "Nights of Thunder" was easily the most unusual article in the issue, and a very well-written one, too. I found it fascinating, and I don't even care for car racing!

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Marty Cantor, North Hollywood, California
Vin¢ was one of those people I hoped to meet when I went to the Brighton Worldcon. I did converse with him at some length; of those of his generation of fans with whom I spent some time talking at that con, I spent more time talking to Walt Willis and ATom (who were staying at the same hotel where Robbie and I were domiciled). I seem to spend more time with 'younger' fans when I attend cons; so, at Brighton, I talked at greater length with many of the other contributors to and recipients of Holier Than Thou than I did with Vin¢. My loss, indeed, as I never got back to England. He is a lost friend, as your lead-off to Ron Bennett's says. I thank you for printing this; even though I would have preferred Vin¢ being still alive (and out of hospital), writing his memoirs. This is the time-binding nature of our hobby -- as long as we continue as some sort of extended family, our elders will still live in our memories and on paper when they pass to a different level of fanac. At least, I hope that they have still have access to computers/typers and drawing paper -- otherwise, the place to which they have gone is no version of heaven in which I would like to abide.

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Ruth Shields, Jackson, Mississippi
I was impressed with Richard's closing comments {{"Non-Stop Parking and Other Remembrances" }} which combined his postcards from Eastern Europe with remembrances of those we have lost in recent times. It was an odd combination, but it worked.

The various other articles and essays were excellent. You guys have a talent for finding and encouraging writers who both inform and entertain, and the mix of humor and pathos is effective. Curt Phillips' "Nights of Thunder" was probably my favorite in this issue; I have never had any interest in auto racing, but I gained an insight from this piece. Not to mention the parts about EMT work. The story about the woman who had the heart attack was quite an object lesson in priorities!
illo by Joe Mayhew
Harry Warner, Jr., Hagerstown, Maryland
I should express dismay over your semi-intention to fold Mimosa (as reported in Richard's closing comments). Couldn't you compromise with yourselves and reduce it to a more moderate size, perhaps 24 pages per issue? I prefer it the way it is, but half a loaf is better than none, as the clich‚ says, and this is probably the first time anyone has ever thought of a fanzine as a loaf. It is a particularly bad time for fandom to lose a large fanzine like Mimosa because we seem to be losing about half of the big general circulation fanzines. There will be no more Lan's Lanterns, Mainstream has apparently seen its final issue, and the length of time since the last The Reluctant Famulus is ominous. If Guy Lillian should get a Supreme Court appointment, what would be left other than FOSFAX?

{{We were happy to find a new issue of The Reluctant Famulus in the mail recently, so we hope your fears of a drastic contraction in the number of general interest fanzines ultimately prove unfounded. As for us, we will be publishing a 26th issue but the statement we made last time is still in force: we do not plan on continuing publication past issue 30. We'd rather not decrease our page count as a compromise; a smaller page count reduces the amount of content, and we'd lose the mix of historical and contemporary articles that seems to work well for us. }}

As for the issue itself, again I found much pleasure in Mike Resnick's "Worldcon Memories" series. He does a bit too much name dropping toward the end of this installment, but that seems to be an occupational hazard of fans who have achieved big professional success. Terry Carr used to do the same thing in fanzine writing.

Eve Ackerman's article {{"Reading for Fun and Non-Profits" }} left me wondering why this commendable project of reading via radio broadcasts for the blind should not be improved to permit the seeing to enjoy it, too. I'm sure there are lots of sighted people who would enjoy listening to something more than the rock and call-in shows that clutter up both the AM and FM dials today. Maybe there would be a fear of illegal taping and selling of these broadcasts, but I don't think the market for spoken word cassettes has inspired this sort of piracy so far.

{{But there's more to radio than just that. National Public Radio, for instance, has two very good news and commentary shows: Morning Edition, during the morning commute, and All Things Considered, for the evening commute. At any rate, the big trend for people with long commutes is to listen to something very similar to the RRS broadcasts that Eve mentioned in her article: 'audio books', spoken-word editions of best-seller books often with Big Name Actors as the readers. We're surprised you haven't run across any of them; these have become a booming business. They cover a wide range of genres, including science fiction, and are sold in book stores (and are usually available from the public library). }}

Finally, I'm afraid I can't share Curt Phillips' involuntary fascination with auto racing. There is a dirt track six miles west of Hagerstown which I've never felt the least urge to visit. After all, Interstates 81 and 70 cross one another only three miles from my home and they offer all the speed, crashes, injuries, and noise that racing ovals imitate, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Martin Morse Wooster, Silver Spring, Maryland
Like Richard (in his closing comments), I was sorry to learn that Lan Laskowski had died. It's true that his fanzine Lan's Lantern had its problems; it kept getting larger and larger, and Lan usually only had forty pages of good material in a 150-page zine. But there was always something worth reading in every issue. Lan was particularly good at getting travelogues from pros, such as Mike Resnick's many Africa stories. His special issues devoted to 50th anniversaries of pros' first appearance in print were a bit uneven (doing a special issue to William F. Temple was certainly quixotic) but usually had valuable reminiscences and criticism. Lan was a good editor, and Lan's Lantern deserved its Hugos.
illo by Joe Mayhew
Ron Bennett, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
An appallingly disappointing article on Russia and China by Forry Ackerman! {{"Through Time and Space with Forry Ackerman (Part 9)" }} Disappointing of course because it was far too short. Just getting into his stride when...whoops, there it was... Gone! Go over there and chain him to the Mimosa word processor!

Mike's Resnick's article was, as ever, most enjoyable. Lengthy, too. Heavens, a half-dozen articles in one! I do wish, though, he'd have been able to give some examples of the Ellison-Asimov slandering contests or of the Bob Bloch witticisms when acting as convention toastmaster. And it was nice to see Mike mention James White so favourably. A lovely man, James, and his passing is a great loss. He was always a true gentleman, a mensch, so quietly spoken, with a great dry wit, fond of outrageous puns and with a marvelous sense of humour altogether. Last time we met was at the Blackpool convention about a half dozen years ago when we spent some little time at a party comparing our eyesight problems and, of all things, how they affected our driving!

Interesting piece on the Radio Reading Service by Eve Ackerman. Reminds me of my nastier side. When, some years ago, I was officially registered as partially sighted, a kind lady from the local Social Services came to visit. She brought me a white walking stick and a bulking looking tape recorder. "We have this Speaking Book Service," she told me. "We have some wonderful authors, like D*** F******."

"Hell," I said, with some feeling, "I wouldn't read D*** F****** if I were paid!" She got up without a word, picked up the tape recorder and walked out. Never heard another word from Social Services after that. They must have thought me ungrateful and that I didn't appreciate what was, after all, a most kind offer. Far from it. I'd have loved to have the luxury of someone reading a worthwhile book to me. Still, it could have been worse. She might have said Jeffery Archer.

Anyway, it was interesting to see that a professional broadcaster found challenging the reading of a character's death and having to remember which voice to ascribe to which character -- exactly the difficulties one encounters when reading a book to a class of children. That was a particular difficulty I kept encountering when taking over a class on a temporary basis and continuing the reading of a novel which had been begun by the regular teacher, and where certain characters cried out for an accent, like Jan in The Silver Sword.

Ah, Dave Kyle. One of my favorite writers and certainly my favorite 'reminiscent' writer. I've had several copies of that August 1928 Amazing Stories pass through my hands during my years as a comics dealer and had of course known that Phil Nowlan didn't call his hero 'Buck', but the story about the cover illustration is new to me. And Alex Raymond -- were I a comic collector myself, it would be the Flash Gordon pages which would head my list. (Hal Foster's beautifully arranged pages for Prince Valiant would come a close second.) Interesting to see that Dave still had some of those full pages of the Gordon strip. I sold the second page, on its own, for £50 about fifteen years ago. Sadly, interest in the Sunday supplements had declined remarkably over here in recent years, a sad reflection on the appreciative qualities of the modern comics fan who is more interested in the latest empty-headed glitz put out by the profits-oriented comics industry of today. Those old Sunday supplements had a wonderful dramatic sweep, completely different from the insipid offerings of today.

I see that you're toying with the notion of (seems a more relaxed way of saying that you're contemployting... sorry, contemplating) ceasing publication of Mimosa. Because of more of your time being involved with "International and cultural communities." Aw, come on now! Get things into perspective! Where are your priorities? Saving the world is all very well in its place, but to put it above fan publishing, I ask you? Rethink, rethink! Seriously, having been in a fairly similar position, I can understand the conflict between different interests and the demands each place upon available time. The answer, of course, is to give up sleep!

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Todd Mason, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The thing about being a 'serious' or perhaps sercon young reader of horror, mythology and folklore, and sf (other fantasy came later) is how many interesting alleys they'll lead you down; the similar thing about reading Mimosa is how often one can find oneself reintroduced to aspects of life that are dormant -- Eve Ackerman's piece on working with the reading service for the visually-impaired reminded me of my own year or so recording with Washington Ear, the local radio/phone-in service in your (and my former) parts. I learned of it one day by tuning into Channel 32, the junior DC PBS station associated with Howard University, on Arlington Cable, only to find that the clever folks at AC had replaced the WHHM (now WHUT) soundtrack with the Ear's radio feed. While this mistake was rather blatant, they kept it that way for the better part of a month. With evidence of the local agency's existence, I went down and volunteered, and was immediately asked if I would do the phone-in reading of the Washington Post (only the veterans did the radio magazine and book reading during the weekdays, and the range was rather restricted -- Time, Newsweek, New Yorker if I recall, and a few other very non-obscure magazines predominated). On the Saturday shifts I could make, usually as the last volunteer in (I'm not a morning person), I was often the voice of Dave Barry and of other articles in the Washington Post Magazine and Parade from the early-delivery section of the Sunday paper, and would be the only one willing to tackle the Saturday Chess column most weeks (the first readings were utter disasters, because although I can play poorly, I didn't know the notations used to describe the games, and so dutifully and meaninglessly named every symbol used until I could find out what they meant). Reading Doonesbury was pretty easy, as it's so text-heavy ("the waffle which represents President Clinton levitates behind the podium, as he continues with his speech..."), and reading the more inane strips, with necessarily arch-sounding descriptions of the images, probably left those comics more amusing as read, but the better visually-oriented strips certainly suffered (I usually felt bad about a good Tank McNamara, for example). Reading scattered selections from the Sunday ad circulars was probably the worst of the duties.

As a dedicated Robert Bloch fan, the bit of Mike Resnick's reminisces that struck the loudest chord was his suggestion that Bloch was the best of toastmasters/MCs in SF. I wonder if anyone has any kind of concordance of available recordings, audio, video, or transcript, of such events? Have such items been collected with his papers in Colorado? The one time I spoke with Harlan Ellison, he knew of no one with plans to reissue Bloch's recordings on the Alternate Worlds label (which had some other interesting masters, with only Ellison's rerecordings of the stories available from AW now in press, as far as I know) -- does anyone keep fannish multimedia items available?

Concerning the on-going discussion in the letters column about good and bad science fiction on television, I, too, have seen most if not all the episodes of the underachieving (in all senses) Mercy Point, and we who have confessed to doing so in Mimosa may have been the total audience for the show (ask your nearest moaning UPN executive). I hope James White's Sector General stories didn't involve doctors who were so intimately familiar with a wide range of alien species' physiology, a feat that puts the most diverse veterinarian or even the most ridiculously knowledgeable Star Trek doctor to shame. Perhaps time has softened the pain for Martin Morse Wooster, who forgives if not forgets such ornaments as Space:1999 and Land of the Giants (to say nothing of the mercifully short-lived E.A.R.T.H. Force and the Bionic People shows) in his haste to nominate The Burning Zone as the worst skiffy tube we've endured -- it's a strong candidate, but perhaps disqualifies itself with one rather good, almost null-sf episode involving an infectious disease breaking out on a jetliner which is, as a result, not allowed to land anywhere. Much more hyped, and much worse, similar made-for-tv movies followed on larger networks. Even a Tamlyn Tomita fan has little else good to say about this misbegotten series, which wasted its potential with a Fantasy Island level of abandon. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The X-files do an often excellent job of rummaging around among horror and sf tropes, usually carrying them a bit farther along than Rod Serling often chose to; some of the other speculative fiction shows have at least something to recommend them, even if originality is sparse.

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Alan Sullivan, Stratford, London, United Kingdom
Malgorzata Wilk's article {{ "Science Fiction Under Martial Law" }} was a fascinating picture of fan life in Poland before the fall of communism. To me, the life sounds pretty grim, but with moments that brighten the whole thing up. Times have changed indeed. Going by her final paragraphs, Poland is starting to sound as if it has inherited several of the ills of Western Society (rat-race working conditions, multiplex cinemas, etc., etc.) Still, I suppose that is the price of progress (I'm not going to speculate on whether or not this is good progress, or bad). It does seem a shame to gain freedoms, whilst losing the time and peace to enjoy them.

As for Forry Ackerman's article, he does get around and about, doesn't he? It's just a shame that he doesn't always get a friendly reception. (That customs inspector might have been following the rules, but then again, he could have done what he did for personal gain. Corrupt officials are everywhere, especially in any country with a thriving black market.) It's also interesting to hear that the Chinese may be using science fiction to interest children in Real Science. I hope it works out for them; after all, a fair few western-world scientists claim that SF influenced their choice of career. At least the Chinese seem to have gotten enthusiasm stirred up in the younger generation, which can't be all bad.

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Rodney Leighton, Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, Canada
I have often thought, and mentioned to one or two people, that it is too bad David Thayer doesn't do more writing since he is very good at it. His article {{"A Cartoonist Remembers Ian Gunn" }} epitomized this. This reader, at least, was totally captivated by the sheer joy that Teddy had in meeting Ian and their marvelous friendship. The fun they had at the first meeting and thereafter was evident; the humor was dominant throughout. Yet, there was an undercurrent of extreme sadness. I was laughing throughout while almost crying reading most of the article. Teddy expressed the joy of knowing Ian exceptionally well while also sublimely expressing his great sorrow at the loss of his friend.

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Henry Welch, Grafton, Wisconsin
I fondly remember the last evening at Intersection with Teddy, Ian, and Benoit and our families. I let my children sleep on the floor right there in the hall and I firmly believe that if there were more than 24 hours on a day that the conversation may have gone on for much longer than it did. As it was, we managed a few hours of sleep before we had to check out of our hotel and then head south to catch a flight in London two days later. It's days like this that make fandom worth all the time, expense, and effort.
illo William Rotsler
Lloyd Penney, Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada
Wonderful article by Ron Bennett on Vin¢ Clarke. Like BoSh, I never met him or even corresponded with him, and this usually brings back feelings of still being an outsider, looking in through the window at the fun happenings going on inside. Still, at least, I can take benefit from Vin¢'s later kind attitude towards fandom, even if he had gafiated once, and I can learn more about what made him return to fandom after some harsh experiences. Our own experiences in fandom are often mixed, but even if experiences are bad, the people in fandom are for the most part good, and it's the people who are keeping me in fandom, I hope for a good long time.

As with Vin¢, I never met Ian Gunn, but at least I was able to correspond with him through the pages of Ethel the Aardvark, the clubzine of the Melbourne SF Club, and through the pages of his own publications, including his perzine Mind Wallaby. Ian was that magical combination of silly and creative, a rare combination that is gone all too quickly. Ian's work was seen by many fans in the Toronto area, not only in fanzines but also on name badges for local conventions. If only fandom didn't suffer from a surfeit of geography, we'd all know one another, and there'd be no strangers.

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Irwin Hirsh, East Prahran, Victoria, Australia
The letter from Mike Resnick had me pulling out the previous two issues, to check both his original remarks about ConFrancisco and the response it generated from Kevin Standlee and Tom Becker. This lead to me reviewing all three installments of Resnick's Memories. A few recurring themes stand out, the main one being that the most enjoyable Worldcon time Mike has is when he is a fan at the Worldcon and not a pro. Also, I couldn't find any mention of fan fund delegates; of the seven worldcons mentioned in this issue, five had DUFF and TAFF delegates in attendance, but none rate a Resnick mention. I know that the fan funds are an important part of my fannish experiences, and I'm wondering if this suggests that, were we to attend the same conventions, Mike and I would hardly ever interact?

{{Our guess is that you probably would; Mike is by no means stand-offish, and has often mentioned that the purely professional aspects of worldcons aren't nearly as fun as the other parts. At any rate, we expect that Mike probably has shared many conversations with fan fund delegates. That these didn't make it into his "Worldcon Memories" might be more of a factor of the oversimplification that usually occurs when condensing a five-day convention into three or four paragraphs. We are guilty of the same thing in some of our worldcon reports (such as the one in this issue, which makes scant mention of DUFF delegate, Janice Gelb, even though she was a very visible presence at Aussiecon Three). }}

In regard to Eve Ackerman's article: I assume that there are a lot of radio stations across the broadcast range, and to allow each to have open broadcast would diminish the transmission of each. Subsequently services like the RRS network are required to be heard via a special receiver. Down here in Melbourne we don't have such problems, so that every radio can pick up 3RPH 'Radio for the Print Handicapped'. This is good for me as I'm not part of 3RPH's primary target audience but I don't have to make any special effort to listen in. I have my car radio channels preset to 3RPH, as it is a favoured station. On the longer car trips or when stuck in slow-moving traffic it is nice to have the contents of a newspaper or magazine read to me.

Of the other articles, I appreciated Ron Bennett's and Teddy Harvia's memories of departed fans, particularly for their own specific, personal interactions with the friends described. And I liked Curt Phillips' article for its terrific word picture it gave of an event I'm otherwise not interested in. I know it is cruel to say this, but if ever I was forced to attend a motor race I'd be likely to fake a heart attack in order to get the hell outta there!
illo by Joe Mayhew
Robert Lichtman, Glen Ellen, California
My favorite parts of this issue are Ron Bennett's memories of Vince Clarke, Teddy Harvia's recollections of Ian Gunn, and Richard's marathon closing editorial touching on everyone who's passed away recently. The intermixing of your postcards from Eastern Europe in the latter was an interesting touch; it would've seemed out of place except for the bridge you provided between the mangled use of English in parts of Europe and the 'language' of fandom, fanzines.

Curt Phillips' article on his adventures at the Bristol Motor Speedway provided another side to the auto racetrack phenomenon that I wasn't aware of: his experiences as a paramedic in an activity where death or extreme injury lurks around every turn. I live near the Sears Point Raceway, which also hosts NASCAR events, and I have another perspective. The track is situated at the junction of two state highways wholly inadequate to handle the increased traffic the larger events generate. The noise from the track causes sound pollution that under some weather and wind conditions affects the city of Sonoma, ten miles away. And to me, in the context of having lived through the energy crisis of the 1970s, there's something unseemly about an activity that involves the heedless consumption of non-renewable fossil fuels.

Malgorzata Wilk's article is certainly a mixed bag. While it was interesting to read her recollections of childhood in Poland when it was still under Communist rule and one can sympathize with her personal sense of loss of those allegedly "good old days," her closing paean to "those communist days, when life was easy," is pretty weird. How can she be sentimental, I wonder, for the days of food shortages and rationing she describes elsewhere in her article?

{{ Probably in the same way people can fondly remember the Depression when they were growing up or why Angela's Ashes was a best seller. Growing up in 'the West', we were told how we had the best of everything and behind the Iron Curtain life was horrible beyond belief. Now, years later, we can't understand how anyone could be anything but terribly scared from living under the Soviet rule. The reality is that people live through hard times as children and look back at them fondly as they grow to adulthood and life changes. }}

You say at the end of your editorial that the next issue of Mimosa might be the last, or surely the 30th will be. Let me observe that thirty issues is something of a 'standard' for fanzines: that's how many issues Quandry and Oopsla! managed, to name two prominent examples. But I can understand your desire to Do Other Things, and wish you well whatever your decision.

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Steve Sneyd, Almondbury, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
The piece about Poland was particularly interesting, as I used to get sent the Gdansk SF Society's publication Red Dwarf, an amazingly posh publicaion with beautiful illos -- though I can't read Polish and only had a vague idea of its contents!

Also, the remembrance of Ian Gunn was well-written, but there is one small factual error. Glasgow doesn't have the last working Tardis-style police box in the U.K. -- local patriotism forces me to point out that there's one here in Almondbury, and it's still in use! It's a 'listed building' (a small one) that can't be demolished, though a bit in need of repainting at the moment. Surprisingly, it doesn't seem to get Whovian pilgrims.
illo by Joe Mayhew
Ken Lake, Loughton, Essex, United Kingdom
The BIG problem with people dying is that they don't give advance warning: you're always left feeling "If only I'd..." Here at least you give us fair warning of the imminent potential demise of Mimosa, so we can mourn and commiserate while it's still around. Frankly I've often felt out of my depth as a Mimosa-reader, and this was frequently exacerbated as my LoCs were always wahfed; I was going to write this time and say, "OK, cut me off your mailing-list, I'm not worth the cost," but I guess I'd like to be around for the Heat-Death of Mimosa.

{{ This seems a good place to mention that all comments on specific articles in the letters or emails we receive (even including the 'We Also Heard Froms') are copied and sent to the respective writers of those articles. So any comment on an article that you make, whether or not it sees print in our letters column, does make it back to the writer. In other words, we want to encourage you to keep writing us; your words are not wasted! }}

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Roger Waddington, Norton, Malton, North Yorkshire United Kingdom
Every picture tells a story? I think that's enough for a novel on your wraparound cover, maybe even a series of sequels as well, and I for one would cheerfully buy it. My congratulations to Charlie Williams.

Harking back to Marty Cantor's comments in the letters column, I too would like to see the James White's Sector General stories as a television series. There's one small snag; that most probably you, me, and Marty will all have a different idea on how the characters look in our mind's eye, and the director's eye will be just as different again. In fact, I might stick my neck out and suggest that there's no film or television series based on an sf novel, or series of novels, that's been entirely satisfactory to everybody. It must be far better to start from something original, such as Star Trek or Dr. Who, without any preconceived notions about the characters, and then see them grow.

On being transported to other times and places, my 'sensawunda' hasn't always been in the future, archaeology was a childhood passion, well before science fiction. Even now, half of my spare time is given over to local history, to exploring the lives and the centuries of the country village where I was born and brought up. My interest isn't so much satisfied by history books, but by the contemporary accounts of the people and the events in letters and diaries. Of course, it mostly happens that those are written by the rich and famous -- the only ones with enough time and with the interest of bequeathing their version to posterity. But just occasionally, I can come across one ordinary person, moved enough to leave an account of his life and surroundings which has survived the centuries. That, to me, brings the past more to life.

And exploring my own personal past as well, I can point to Journey Into Space as one of my introductions to sf; there was also that best-selling author of the Fifties, John Wyndham. I know he served his apprenticeship even earlier, but with The Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes he was able to reach an audience that wouldn't even consider reading science fiction. My family included; along with the output of Nevil Shute (of On The Beach fame), we snapped up each new John Wyndham title as it was published.

However, the real start of my obsession with sf must have been the discovery that there were whole magazines devoted to science fiction, which printed nothing else and which came out every month. That came relatively late, round about 1964; it was sparked by a pile of Worlds of If in a secondhand bookshop in York, followed by finding the latest issues of F&SF and Analog on the railway station bookstall. And then it really took off the next year, when I went down to London to work and found all the magazines, American and British, in profusion. (Which is another story.) It's a time that I've been vainly trying to relive; I suppose, like my youth, it's gone for ever, but I still have some of those original magazines and taking them out, browsing through them, there's still a whisper, a very faint hint.

Although I can claim to have served my apprenticeship in science fiction, I've never been so certain about fandom; it's why I often feel I'm receiving Mimosa under false pretenses. There's all these people I've yet to meet outside the pages of fanzines, slices of life I've yet to experience and accounts of unattended conventions; but then, isn't that the primary purpose of fandom, to share all these experiences? Still, I can add my voice here to mourn the passing of Buck Coulson, someone else I never met but could still love dearly. He was there back in the mid-sixties, in one of Lin Carter's articles about fandom in If, where Yandro was one of the fanzines mentioned, and I decided to test the water. He encouraged me by printing my LoCs, which must have been pretty halting at the time; but then, even after Yandro was laid aside, we still carried on corresponding. He may have tried to give the impression of not suffering fools gladly, but I never came across that side. I suppose sharing some of the same interests helped; but even so, he was never anything less than kind.

{{ Maybe Buck was just good at judging who was a fool and who was a trufan who needed a little encouragement. }}

Have to say, there's going to be another gap in my life when Mimosa folds its tents and quietly steals away. False pretenses or no, it's a fanzine I've always enjoyed, not least for those glimpses into other times and places. Although I suppose like the rest of us, fanzines must have a natural lifespan; some are destined to die young, others (like Yandro) become old and respected, but there eventually comes an end to them all. Although two decades is a record to be proud of, isn't it? I might say, a la Bob Hope, "Thanks for the memories." But not yet -- not till that ultimate issue!

- - - - - - - - - -

We Also Heard From:
William Breiding, Michael A. Burstein, Ray Capella, Chester Cuthbert, Gary Deindorfer, Rich Dengrove, Carolyn Doyle, Brad Foster, Nick Grassel, Jim Goldfrank, Simon Green, Ben Indick, Terry Jeeves, Bob Kennedy, Irv Koch, Hope Leibowitz, Joseph Major, Miguel Martˇnez, Mark Olson, Elizabeth Osborne, Spike Parsons, Scott Patri, Robert Peterson, Dave Rowe, Marc Schirmeister, David Shallcross, Steve Sneyd, Gene Stewart, Art Widner, Charlie Williams, and Malgorzata Wilk.
illo by Alexis Gilliland and William 

Title illustration by Sheryl Birkhead
Other illos by Alexis Gilliland & William Rotsler, Joe Mayhew, and William Rotsler

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