back to John Hertz, fanwriter

Unfolding Stars

from the fanzine Chunga #14 (2008)

If you had an imaginary tortoise, and both of you wanted to publish a fanzine, and the tortoise won, you just might take the name Tortoise. Sue Jones and Siberia did. The cover of Tortoise 24 has a photo of Saturn and Jupiter and Mars – statuary of the gods, which Jones saw on the clock tower of Cardiff Castle. There's a visit to a monthly storytelling club, and a story, which is about 16th Century painted glass, the Earl of Orford, the Earl of Bridgewater, St. Mary's Church in the town where Jones lives, and the grandson of Thomas Cook the travel agent. I think it's a true story. There's Kevon Kenna's report of Contemplation ("the tribulations of working at 14,000 feet.... One cannot enjoy singing among strangers when they are so few.... I learn nothing, but am not bored.... I don't understand her worry about weightless copulation.... I was alive again, almost") – the 2007 Eastercon at Chester, his first convention. Usually there are fanzine reviews; Jones' own drawings, she's a Triple Crown candidate; letters of comment, the Lettuce Column. People still talk about the cover for T20, which in two layers showed Siberia working in the garden; the T21 collage cover by Jae Leslie Adams was also swell. Verve is no compliment to a Briton, it's better as a U.S. jazz record label, but there's a limpid vitality in this zine.

Surely Trap Door is one of the finest fanzines. Mature is no compliment to a fan like Robert Lichtman, and calling him a Sage is about as reasonable as saying I used to live in Haight-Ashbury, but he has a sense of history, and his light shineth. I mean fine with the power of its root. The parts of this fanzine match, the gears mesh, the chimes accord. We feel the faneditor's focus. If he hangs a gun on the wall at page 2, it will have gone off by page 29 – or 39 – or if it doesn't, we need not wonder why. Trap Door 25 has a Harry Bell cover – with a trap door – and if there's recently been more Bell around, like this and the Corflu XXIV Program Book cover, and if I had aught to do therewith as one of the judges who gave Bell the Rotsler Award in 2004, I rejoice – and loving appreciations of Calvin Demmon (1942-2007) and Sidney Coleman (1937-2007). Demmon one day in high school saw Lichtman reading a fanzine, and asked. "I explained. His face brightened.... Within a year he was celebrated as one of fandom's premier humorists"; way to go. About Coleman we hear from Greg Benford, fan, pro, and physicist, who knew him each way; Benford quotes Carol Carr, too. Trap Door's correspondence section "The Ether Still Vibrates" is resplendent, and here on the back page is the Typo of the Ish, "Thanks for soldering on." If I'd written that, modestly peacefully or heatedly omitting the vertical letter, I'd thank the faneditor who left it.

Steve Sneyd, poetry editor for Langley Searles' Fantasy Commentator, on his own publishes Data Dump, four halfsize handwritten cardstock pages. DD118 was my herald of the death of Derek Pickles, reporting he in Phantasmagoria first called "the usual" what we exchange for fanzines, LoCs, accepted contributions, our own zines in trade, and first printed John Brunner, a 1950 sonnet "Door". You'll find Gerard Manly Hopkins' instress and inscape, or "'Eh?' is Line 1787 of 'The Egnisomicon', of which DD will not repeat its past error of describing this verse epic as 'unpublished', D.F. (Des) Lewis having written to point out that it had, in fact, appeared in an edition of 2 copies, each different" (DD117), or a note of John Grant's Introduction to Viking Mythology ("the unfortunate Andhrimnir, Valhalla cook, had zilch scope to be a superchef, as the menu never varied & he'd only one cooking pot", DD116), or a time-traveling hat in the 2007 Manchester Literary Festival (DD113); a "long list" for a 2008 DD Award to s-f poetry published in Britain (DD120); a Drew Morse bibliography of s-f poetry in 1930s fanzines (DD121). Things creep into the margins, hyphenation is breathtaking, and a U.S. wise guy keeps piping up "Pouting Only Enrages Mordor" or "Pick Out Earthy Memes".

The White Star Federated Spaceways Armadillo is on the cover of Munich Round-Up 175, Forry Ackerman on M176. Published over fifty years, it wasn't yearly all that time. In M176 are 17 questions to Jesco von Puttkamer, the rocket engineer who won the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, wrote s-f, and belongs to a noble German family dating to the 13th Century; he answers, "All consciousness expansion or rising is preceded by a widening of horizons"; "we should not continue making the age-old conceptual mistake of seeing ourselves in the future as statically unchanged from today." In M175 are Joe Mayhew drawings; photos of the Glasgow Worldcon; a discussion of Emil Robert Kraft (1869-1916) reviewing half a dozen of his proto-science-fiction novels, sparked by a 2006 re-issue of the 1998 biography. Waldemar Kumming was part of creating the fearsome drink vurguzz. He has done so much so long for so many that in 2005 he was given the Big Heart, our highest service award. MRU is in German and English.

Surely File 770 is one of the finest fanzines. Named for Roger Sims' room at the St. Charles Hotel where a party upstaged Nolacon I, Mike Glyer's newszine and quodlibet has survived his chairing a Worldcon, fanguestofhonoring at another, marrying, and fathering, dauntless, sharp, and full. Speaking as a regular contributor I can say that describes his editing, which sparked as it may be with praise or cheer will also contain at suitable moments "Would you mind explaining what you intended by that?" In his pages the rise of technology that enables photographs has not eclipsed fanart, by the famous, the shouldbefamousalready, and the new, Grant Canfield, Brad Foster, Bill Rotsler, Taral Wayne, Alan White, Ray Capella, Jennifer Gates (see her work on the cover of F150). The rise of blog technology has not eclipsed paper fanning, as indeed Marshall McLuhan told us forty years ago. The sense of story, the sense of event are here. In F151 James Bacon reports on Novacon ("A beanie: well, it was a Calvinistic moment if ever there was one"), Hope Leibowitz reports on Ditto – combined in 2007 with Art Widner's 90th birthday, and Migly reports on Mythcon ("Having Ellen Kushner sing to us was like being showered with emeralds and rubies"). In F152, the 30th anniversary issue, gosh, among the news and notes Chris Garcia reviews F7, Taral reports on working at the Daily Planet, I report on Nippon 2007, and Migly prints two pages of Terry Jeeves drawings in honor of Jeeves' winning the Rotsler Award.