Welcome to our Fanthology issue. Or more accurately, to our first Fanthology issue. What you have here is a collection of some of our favorite articles from the first 16 issues of Mimosa. Our next issue will be another Fanthology, with some of our favorite articles from issues 17-27.
The next issue will also be the next-to-last issue, and it's not because the size of this issue (or its expense to publish) has given us a case of Nydahl's Disease (i.e., burnout). We'll actually miss publishing a fanzine, but we believe that everything has a life cycle. Earlier this year we passed our 20th anniversary of publishing Mimosa; its existence has lasted longer than probably 99.9% of all the fanzine titles that have ever been published. This seems like a good place to stop.
It actually doesn't seem like it's been 20 years since our first issue. Back then we were transplanted northerners living in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and had been actively involved in science fiction fandom for only about seven years. And Mimosa was not even our first fanzine; we became fan publishers in 1977, with the first issue of a clubzine named Chat. Here's how we described it in "Visit to a Small Fanzine" in Mimosa 7:
We don't know what originally possessed us with the idea of doing a fanzine. It was early autumn 1977, and we had just lost a bid to hold the 1978 DeepSouthCon in Chattanooga, which had left a bad taste in our mouths from the way the winning campaign had been conducted. All that is now water long gone under the bridge, but at the time we remember it was like being all dressed up with no place to go -- creative energy was present, looking for an outlet now that chairing a convention was no longer in the cards. At any rate, the local SF club, the Chattanooga Science Fiction Association, was fairly new and growing. There was a need for a central focus, and out of all that Chat was conceived.
It was Nicki who came up with the name, a double-entendre from the fanzine's purpose (club news) and place of origin (Chattanooga). Most club members embraced the idea, and in October 1977, the first issue appeared.
Chat succeeded beyond our wildest dreams; we published it every month for 40 issues, and the page count went from a scrawny two pages at the beginning to two dozen pages at the end of the run -- and back then, before the days of powerful personal computers and slick word processing software, each page had to be laboriously pasted-up from hand-typed copy. About halfway through the run, Chat gained a third meaning, as well as a mascot -- Teddy Harvia, who apparently can read French, introduced a cartoon saber-toothed tiger named 'Chat' that became associated with the fanzine.
We ended Chat for many of the same reasons we're ending Mimosa -- we thought we'd taken it as far as we could, given the constraints in time and resources available, and thought it was time to do something else. Back in 1982, that 'something else' was a different kind of fanzine than Chat was -- one with a more open publishing schedule (about twice a year, as it turned out) and that would serve as an outlet for our growing interest in the preservation of fan history. As for what we may do next, either jointly or individually, after Mimosa ends... well, we're not sure yet. Right now, we're looking forward to not having any kind of publishing schedule hanging over our heads. In fact, we kind of like the sound of 'Fanzine Publisher Emeritus'. Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?
- - - - - - - - - -We should mention that this is an 'editors choice' fanthology -- we selected articles for reprint here that we thought were entertaining and well written, but we did face some hard choices to keep the page count from becoming too out-of-control. In the end, we decided to limit ourselves to printing only one article by any contributor -- not an easy thing to do when you've got multiple contributions from Sharon Farber, Dave Kyle, Bruno Ogorelec, Vincent Clarke, Bob Shaw, Walt Willis, David Thayer, and Harry Warner, Jr. to choose from. Also, all the articles we've selected for reprint in this fanthology are being accompanied by the same artwork from when they were first published. We're also including artwork from other parts of the issues where space permits, and reprints of some of the covers like this one by Charlie Williams from the first issue of Mimosa.
That first issue actually took a lot longer to assemble and publish than we ever thought it would; it didn't appear until January 1982, almost a full year after the demise of Chat. Since we hadn't published any previous issues, we looked for contributions from people we knew, either in person or in correspondence.
But the result was that the first issue, unlike most of the later issues, lacked a theme or much of anything else to tie the contents together. The resulting fanzine was a bit of a jumble and even somewhat downbeat -- it included a reprint of Jack Chalker's rather pessimistic speech from Chattacon 6 on how the space program had not lived up to people's hopes and dreams and an equally gloomy but well-written article by Harry Andruschak about how the space program had not even come close to living up to the predictions made in science fiction stories from 20 years earlier. (This was back in the Reagan era of budget cutbacks, remember, so there was good reason to be pessimistic.)
Besides that, there a pleasant whimsical piece by Ralph Roberts "In Defense of the Horrid Pun," a first-person account of a Rolling Stones concert by Guy Lillian, a few book reviews by Nicki (which was the only time we ever published reviews of any kind in Mimosa) and Rich's retelling of a huge misadventure we experienced on the way to UpperSouthClave 10. The most different piece in the issue was Dennis Dolbear's remembrance of Chattacon 6 ("Hawaiian Shirts?!?"), an example of that Great Southern Fan Tradition, the hoax convention report (though in this case it was semi-hoax, as at least some of the events he described actually happened).
There was also a short childhood remembrance from Jeff Duntemann, who started off as a science fiction writer and then transitioned into a successful career as a writer of computer books. And now he's made a return to science fiction -- his story "Drumlin Boiler" appeared in the April 2002 Asimov's, though he reports that "I'm [still] trying to sell the hard SF novel I finished in 1999." Jeff's article in Mimosa 1 is, as far as we know, his only piece of writing that ever appeared in a fanzine. Here it is again...
Title illustration by Sheryl Birkhead
'Chat' illo by Teddy Harvia
Mimosa 1 cover by Charlie Williams