Mimosa 10 letters column; title illo by William Rotsler Mimosa Letters

{{ Before we begin with letters commenting on Mimosa 9, we should tell you something about the other fannish project we're working on. It's another 'Living Fanzine', sort of. We've decided to do an audiotape version of Mimosa 9 that'll feature the four essays in Mimosa 9 read by their corresponding authors, plus as many letters of comment from that issue read by their writers as we can get. Please be informed, however, that this audio fanzine, Mimosa 9.5, won't be finished for some time yet; there are still (as we write this) several people we're trying to get recordings from.

Meanwhile, we were gratified by the sizeable number of letters (and trade fanzines) Mimosa 9 brought us. Even though there were only four articles, the overall response was at least as high as for other, more diverse issues. Our opening comments about our Worldcon vacation, "Across Europe on Rail and Plastic," drew comment from just about everybody who wrote us. First up are a selection of comments about it. }}

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Steve Swartz, Arlington, Virginia
I enjoyed the story of your travels in Europe. I've been twice. Your stories about food and restaurants certainly brought back memories. Since I'd studied German throughout high school and college, I made a point of speaking German in restaurants. This amused my friends -- after a few egregious misses early on [I remember getting two (zwei) bowls of chicken broth when I'd tried to order Zweibelsuppe (onion soup)] they started keeping track of the number of times I could actually use my German to control what would end up on my plate. They would make me write down what I thought I was getting after I had ordered, and compare my description with what actually appeared. I believe I won the contest (eight meals to six, I think), but only because none of them could tell one schnitzel from another. Schade.

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Els Somers, Den Haag (The Hague), Netherlands
I have read your experiences in Holland before the Worldcon. It is always funny to hear what people noticed in another country, but it was pleasant for me to read what you two noticed in Holland. I myself, for example, had never noticed that many cafes and other places had cats around. Now I noticed and I have seen some of them!

The days of the Worldcon amused me very much. I never expected that it would be so nice. For sure, I am going to another con in the future. Two days at the convention I was dressed in a fantasy costume. People came to me and asked me how I liked Holland before they realized that I was a Dutch girl. This happened a few times, and I asked myself why. Why should only foreigners dress themselves up in costumes? Later on, I found an explanation. I myself come from the south of Holland. There it is more normal to wear special clothes for the Dutch carnival. In the north, it is not so normal to do so.

I have a general question. I read Mimosa 9 and it seemed that there are not enough young fans. I myself am 26 years old. When I was 14 or 15 years old, I was also a sf fan, also in Dutch fandom. It appears that I am one of the youngest. Is this happening in each country?

{{ It's possible, and even likely. Back in the 1950s, teenage fans were commonplace. In fact, some of the best fanzines were published by teenagers -- Joel Nydahl's Vega, Lee Hoffman's Quandry, and Gregg Calkins' Oopsla! are examples that come immediately to mind. Nowadays, we are not only unfamiliar with any teenage fan publications, we don't even know any teenage fans (except for children of other fans). So, has fandom changed, or have we? }}

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Ben Indick, Teaneck, New Jersey
I envy your visiting Prague, which I would like to see before the Russians re-take it. I would visit the ancient Jewish cemetery and see the grave of Rabbi Lowe, fabled creator of the Golem, inspirator of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and a horde of her poor doctor's children. And I would try to find the spirit of an unassuming little law clerk whose writings caught and influenced the thinking of the world -- he understood what was and is happening.

{{ Actually, we did visit that cemetery, which is located right in the heart of old Prague. We didn't know about and therefore look for the grave of Rabbi Lowe, but we did visit the Jewish Museum located next to it; in it, beckoning to onlookers decades later, were preserved drawings and writings of children and their teachers who did not survive the holocaust of Auschwitz. And while, unlike Rabbi Lowe, these are not likely to influence the thinking of the world, it was still only too easy to get caught up in the spirit of those people, which is still strong almost a half-century later. }}
Eva Hauser, Prague, Czechoslovakia
Thank you very much for Mimosa 9, which is interesting and amusing. I especially liked its beautiful illustrations. Of course, I feel a need to comment on what you said about Czechoslovakia and Czech fans.

I also went to the Confiction by a bus chartered by fans; but it wasn't such an awful trip as it seems possible to you! Most of the fans slept in tents, which is a very common way how Czechs spend their holidays. It's quite easy to go to Bulgaria, Romania, or Yugoslavia by car and to stay there, camping on a shore. It's advantageous because camping is cheap and you can take your food with you. In Den Haag, I didn't stay in a tent because our editing house paid for a hotel room, but I wouldn't have minded it so much. And I also took some canned food, crackers, biscuits, and so on, so that I didn't have to spend so much money on food. But it was all rather fun, and I didn't mind it. It was like going to the high mountains where there are no shops and no restaurants.

I must protest against this statement: "It seems clear now that currency rates were probably a much stronger shackle to keep Czechs confined to their homeland during the Cold War than any fence or iron curtain ever could." This is completely wrong!!! We are not richer now than we were a few years ago. But traveling was actually banned, or extremely suppressed by the regulations of Communists.

I can explain to you the whole mechanism, which reminds me of novels by Franz Kafka.

Nobody could travel if he didn't have hard currency. But if you happened to acquire some hard currency as a gift, in unofficial exchange, or in money earned abroad, you were obliged to exchange this currency at the bank for Czech crowns or special 'tokens for imported goods' and you could spend these tokens in special shops with western goods. You were not allowed to own any hard currency.

In case you wanted to travel to some country of ■evil capitalists■ you were obliged to ask the bank for a special exchange of money for traveling. Let us call it 'hard currency contingent'. In theory, you had the right to get hard currency contingent every three years, but in practice, the largest part of these applications was rejected. I was successful only once in my life and I went with my parents on a three-week trip to Italy -- but that time my father went to the director of the bank and explained to him that we never got hard currency contingent and that my parents deserved a lot for the development of society by their scientific work, etc. After rejection, you couldn't do anything -- just wait one year and try it again. But some people got the hard currency contingent not only once every three years but every year, as they had a friend or a relative in the bank, or managed somehow to bribe the clerk who decided about these contingents.

If you were lucky enough to get the contingent, you got 100 dollars in exchange for your two months salary, and you had to continue dealing with bureaucrats: to get permission of the Police, one day waiting in line for a visa. And then to get train or air tickets, or car insurance, and (if you were a man) permission of the Military office, several more days spent in lines and a lot of encounters with arrogant clerks everywhere. When you finally managed to get everything, you felt completely exhausted and promised yourself that you will not travel any more in your life!

And that was exactly what the Communists intended.

Ha, ha! "Chci voda mineralna, prosím;" the proper form is "Chci minerální vodu, prosím." The first phrase sounds rather like a Polish one. It's interesting that people of most nations are pleased if you try to learn some phrases in their language, but Czechs usually don't acknowledge it -- I don't know exactly why it is so. Perhaps they don't have enough respect and love for their own native tongue.
illo by Brad Foster
Irwin Hirsh, East Prahran, Victoria, Australia
I always enjoy Mimosa and appreciate the efforts you take into its presentation, particularly in getting so many of the articles illustrated. I tend to think of drawings illustrating an article as being fanzine art at its highest form. In part this is because artists tell me it is harder to draw illustrations for an article than to draw a similar number of drawings straight from their own mind. It is also because in having to choose the artist to illustrate a particular article, the faneds skill gets involved in the process. One thing I haven't noticed before (but I'm sure it happens) is the practice of getting a number of artists to each provide an illustration to an article. I'm particularly impressed with the effort you put into this aspect of your fanzine.

{{ Thanks. We deliberately set out to have as many artists as possible provide illustrations for our "Across Europe..." article, since the article itself was a collage of the most memorable events of our European Worldcon vacation. Usually, though, it's easier to let one artist do the illos for an article. That way, we don't have to wait until the last minute after all the artwork is in to work on layouts. }}

I enjoyed the comments on your trip to Europe. It is always interesting to see someone's views on meeting new lands, and yours was particularly interesting because you talk about some of the things which struck Wendy and I when we were on my GUFF trip -- the Eurorail system, communicating with people whose language is not English, the art museums, etc. Your restaurant experience in Utrecht sounds similar to a lunch we had in Albi (south-west France) where the waiter's limited English didn't allow him to tell us what was on the lunch menu. He enlisted the help of the couple sitting at the next table in telling us about the main courses. When it came time for sweets, we were the only people in the restaurant and he was having a frustrating time trying to use hand-movements and slowed-down French to describe the sweets. Then he hit upon the idea of going back to the kitchen and bringing out one of each sweet, enabling Wendy and I to make our selections with the time-honoured pointing of the index finger.

It was traveling around Continental Europe which made me realise the extent to which I've missed out by having grown up in a land where one language predominates. In Europe the distances, particularly in the modern era, between the different languages are quite small, and it is easy to see why so many Europeans are pretty fluent in a language other than their native tongue. For part of our time, we stayed with fans and I often mentioned to them that I felt it was a pity that I knew only one language. In saying that, I always made the point that I didn't necessarily mean knowing their language, just knowing a language other than English. Their response was that if I had to know only one language, English was the one to know. That seems reasonable, but only if you ignore that English just happens to be my language. If my language was, say, Japanese, I'd still be putting it upon them to make the effort in trying to communicate. By not knowing another language, I'm not even allowing for the possibility of finding some middle ground where we can be equally handicapped in our mode of communications.

I'm not sure why, when you said a lack of car parking spaces is why Amsterdam is a city of bicycles, you added the remark "worst of all." I would hate to think that you feel it is a pity that there aren't more car parking spaces in the city. I think that if a city provides an effective public transport system it doesn't have to meet the needs of those who wish to use the car within the city. Amsterdam fits the bill nicely, being well served by its transit system. It struck Wendy and I that the single item which separated the larger cities of Europe from Melbourne was that their public transport systems are easy to use, are reliable and meet the everyday needs of their citizens, while Melbourne's system is unreliable and inconvenient to use for so much of its population. I'm pretty sure that it is this mass-transit orientation in Europe which encourages people to make good use of their streets, adding an attractive character to the cities.

{{ Well, maybe we should have said 'most of all'. We'd hate to think of what Amsterdam would be like if those thousands of bicycle riders had been driving cars instead. The city of Amsterdam (and Europe in general, for that matter) predates motorized transportation by centuries, and streets are so narrow in many parts of the city that two-way traffic is physically impossible. Luckily, the network of trams, metro, and buses is so good there, you don't have to have a car to get around. }}
illo by William Rotsler and Steve 
Teddy Harvia, Euless, Texas
What is it with all the cartoon cats on the cover of Mimosa? Do y'all think you're still publishing Chat or what?

I loved Jeanne Gomoll's menu illustration for your Europe trip article. I don't know what is more amusing -- the thought of a waitress posing as an artist or an artist posing as a waitress.

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Ken Cheslin, Stourbridge, West Midland, United Kingdom
I deduce by your remark "Europe's fine railway system" that you didn't visit the U.K., or if you did, the U.S. railway system must be indescribable. Our railways are falling to bits due to underinvestment; that includes rails, bridges, rolling stock, the lot. I believe the B.R. spends more money on adverts telling us how good they are than on actual hardware.

{{ You deduce correctly -- we only had enough time in our two week vacation to visit parts of Continental Europe. The "fine railway system" remark was a compliment on the relative ease of going from one place to another by train, as well as the quality of the facilities (which for the most part were pretty good). }}

Dave Luckett's article {{ "Prose Is the Wine; Poetry the Whiner" }} was great, its mixture of prose and poetry an inspiration. (I still remember, though mercifully dimly, the piles of smelly nappies. Once, when we were driving in the country, there came this awful smell. "Matthew!" we exclaimed, but the (then) little soul was innocent that time for as we came round a bend we whizzed by a farm and about 200 pigs. It became a family joke, "it's either Matthew or 200 pigs." Oh, well, it sounded funny to me.)

{{ We liked Dave's article, too, but some of our readers seemed less than impressed. Among them was Harry Andruschak, who requested to be informed with a *Baby Alert* should we try something like this again. You just can't please everyone... }}
Chat cartoon by Teddy Harvia
David Bratman, San Jose, California
I enjoyed your trip report very much. Why else should fans spend time and money on traveling to far-off places like Europe (or America, for that matter), if not to accumulate interesting stories to tell when they get home? Particular kudos to the Messrs. Williams for contributing cartoons even more amusing than the stories they illuminate.

Dave Luckett's light verse is brilliantly funny, fit to stand with the masters of the form. I almost caught myself thinking that it's a shame someone who can write like that has to spend time caring for infants, but then I realized that he has to; otherwise what would he use for inspiration? So keep changing those dirty nappies, Dave!

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Craig Hilton, Collie, Western Australia, Australia
Thank you for Mimosa 9. I loved Bob Shaw's dreadfully funny piece, but top of the tops of my list was Dave Luckett's bunch of poems. Dave once proved his ability to make even the most base subjects poetic by writing a page of verse to serve as instructions on how to deal with the outside toilet when it tended to block up in wet weather. He finished it off in exquisite calligraphy and nailed it to the door, where it performed its utilitarian function until the first rain shower soaked and ruined it. Such is the transience of art.

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J.R. Madden, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Your article "Across Europe on Rail and Plastic" was interesting and made me feel good about our visit to the Netherlands for the Worldcon. We stayed entirely within the borders of that country spending time in Amsterdam, Maastricht, and The Hague/Scheveningen. We met lots of nice folks while there: one was our cab driver in Amsterdam, who turned off the meter when he couldn't get to our hotel by his usual route due to road construction and had to wend his way through streets not usually on his route. Did you have trouble, as I did while in Amsterdam, trying to imagine Gestapo vehicles rolling through those streets? Or, German panzers guarding intersections? Or, military convoys moving through those oh so peaceful streets? Hard to imagine it ever happened.

Dave Luckett should be warned: He has to deal only with primarily physical attributes of his offspring at this time. Just wait for the intellectual assault which will come when said offspring has acquired sufficient language skills to append a question mark to the end of a string of words! When watching a movie: "Did he really die?, Why did she do that?, What is he doing to her?" While riding in a car: "How do you know where you're going?, What does that sign (which one out of twenty?) say?, Why do you have to put gas in the car?"

Many thanks for the publication of Bob Shaw's latest Serious Scientific Speech {{ "Corn is the Lowest Form of Wheat" }}. I enjoyed it at Confiction and appreciate having a permanent record as well. Did you note that Bob's speech was better attended than any of the three Professional Guest of Honor speeches? I am not sure if that's good or bad, to be honest.
illo by Terry Jeeves
Mike Glicksohn, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I'm so busy nowadays that I can no longer afford the luxury of reading fanzines before I loc them, so Mimosa 9 will be enjoyed and commented on almost simultaneously. I know we warn against this in Advanced Letterhacking For the Serious Professional but sometimes expediency rules, okay? I just thought I'd warn you in case I put my foot in my mouth and don't get to take it out for several paragraphs.

Interesting trip report (although might have liked just a little about the worldcon itself) which made me envious I didn't get to go this year. I agree with your choice of the train as an excellent way of both getting to places and seeing the country while you do so. It lacks the freedom of having one's own vehicle but may well be cheaper, especially with a good pass.

{{ If we'd written more about the Worldcon, it probably would have degenerated into a series of "then we met so-and-sos," not the kind of thing that makes for a snappy, amusing fanzine article. Besides, the article wasn't about the Worldcon at all -- it was about the Voyage of Discovery we had getting there and back. }}

On one of my trips to England some years ago I managed to circumvent the Shaw Exclusion Principle, albeit unwittingly. I discovered I'd be seeing Bob later in my travels, so while visiting a London one-day comic mart, I bought two paperback Shaw novels so I'd have something to get autographs on. Apparently Bob wanted to spare me the agony of the S.E.P., because when I actually looked at the books they were already autographed, thereby saving me the trouble of carrying them around constantly until I ran into him. I wonder to this day how he managed that but I thought it a noble and unselfish gesture.

The only thing I can possibly say about Bob's Serious Scientific Talk is that I'm glad I got to read it and I'm sorry I didn't get to hear it presented. Well, maybe the only two things I can say are those and that I'm delighted you published it. Whoops. Anyway, it was funny and the illustrations were a delight, and you're very lucky faneds indeed to have published it. Just as I'm a lucky fan to have read it. Whether Bob's a lucky pro to have written it I leave to your imagination.

I don't think, in answer to Pam Boal's musing in the loccol, that younger fandom lacks a sense of fun. What it lacks is a sense of communicating through the written word which results in only a few younger fans becoming interested in fanzines. Those that do, though, such as the self-same Harry Bond who graces Mimosa's loccol, can write the same sort of material as the Skels of fandom, although perhaps not yet quite as well. But then, I can't write as well as Skel and I've been trying for longer than Harry has been alive.

What made many classic fanzines classic was actually quite simple: superior creative talent in those producing them, coupled with a high level of interaction among a group of such talents, creating a whole-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts effect. Talent still exists in fandom, but that special sense of interactive community has either disappeared or weakened, which may be why there are still good fanzines around but few (if any, depending on who is talking) great ones.

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Walt Willis, Donaghadee, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
My favourite piece in Mimosa 9 was your European trip report. I admired your bravery and enterprise, and thought the piece was well written. It made me nostalgic for a place I have never been, but which has all sorts of memories for me. The most poignant is of hunching beside my homebuilt radio listening in anguish to Radio Praha at the time of the Nazi takeover which led to WW2. While the country was dying, there were long periods of silence on the radio filled only with the interval signal, which was a phrase from Dvorak's New World symphony on a solo oboe. It was indescribably sad and lonely, and I have remembered it all my life. In 1952, en route from Chicon II to Los Angeles, I played it on a deserted piano in a forest in Utah. Another memory is of listening to that New World symphony one cold day in the London Epicentre, while Vince Clarke and Ken Bulmer were reading New Worlds, and noticing with an eerie feeling that it was a New World cooker we were all huddled around. And now here you from the New World with news of Prague today, bringing all those memories with you. There's timebinding for you.

Of course, with Karel Capek and all, there is something subtly fannish about Czechoslovakia. Recently I remember a newspaper correspondent mentioning a conversation he had with a waiter just after the 1989 revolution. Emboldened by the celebrations, he asked if he could possibly have some seasoning with his steak. "This month freedom," said the waiter. "Next month, horseradish."

Dave Kyle and Bob Shaw were marvelous in their different ways. I admire how Bob was able to make fun of Whitley Streiber so effectively without saying anything remotely actionable. In the letters section, I was pleasantly surprised by the cartoon in place of my letter, and curiously impressed by Gorecki's letter about rediscovering Jack Darrow. I don't quite know why, because I barely even remember the name of Jack Darrow: it's something like seeing a lost piece being inserted in an enormous jigsaw puzzle.
illo by Terry Jeeves
Roger Waddington, Norton, Malton, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
I enjoyed your trip report, not the least for the hint it gave, that placing the Worldcon outside America occasionally achieves its purpose, encouraging homebound Americans to experience other countries, other cultures (and the rest of us stay-at-homes, of course); in fact, you grasped the opportunity with both hands, didn't you? Can't help commenting on the restaurant cats holding their own in the face of more modern methods of pest control (no, not the one about the original ball-bearing mousetrap); they surely are the real environmentalists, the truly green. Mind you, I'd think twice about eating in a restaurant where their mouser was forced to beg for scraps; either it's been so efficient that there aren't any mice left, or they're there in such numbers that they've forced it out of the kitchen. One restaurant to avoid?

{{ We think the cat was probably just interested in making two visitors feel at home. Cats like to snack as much as people and we were probably eating its favorite meal. That cat did not look underfed! }}

And I have to admit to enjoying hugely the latest Bob Shaw lecture. Well, on my own discovery of SF, that Sense of Wonder came just as much from considering the true professionals who were also prepared to give their time and effort to contributing to the amateur fanzines, remembering especially long-ago issues of Niekas with Jack Gaughan and Dan Atkins. Now, having become more blase, and not being a writer myself, I see time spent away from the desk as being one novel less; so it's with a certain guilt that the other half of me has to confess as to how much he's enjoyed it. Though for his method of helping the totally lost motorist, I can offer a remarkably simple and similar device of finding out the time when your clock has stopped, especially at night. No, not by switching on the radio; all you do is keep a trumpet by your bed, and if your clock has stopped, just open the window and start playing the trumpet. It never fails; you'll be sure to hear someone shouting, "Who's that idiot (or words to that effect) playing a trumpet at three o'clock in the morning?"

I suspect that the legend of Hyphen and Le Zombie and all the other zines, good as though they might have been, owes as much to nostalgia and the rose-coloured spectacles that we all wear. In fact, the enlightenment on one of them in this issue, The WSFA Journal, shows the true story; and who's to say that the story behind those wasn't remarkably similar? I'm inclined to think that the only thing that can turn a fanzine into a legend is time, and word of mouth; so, going by those criteria, who's to say that Mimosa wouldn't have as good a chance as any other? But there's surely no way you can sit down and consciously create a legendary fanzine, one that will live forever. Likewise, you can never re-create a fanzine fandom, in the face of the relentless tread of history; or evolution. If fanzine fandom really has had its day, its moment on the stage, there's nothing anyone can do to halt its night.

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Pamela Boal, Charlton Heights, Wantage, Oxon, United Kingdom
Nein, Von Felines, haf you no mercy, sending out these flowers that plunge the readers into a welter of nostalgia? This zine is definitely in a time warp; it is in the style of the zines I used to receive 20+ years ago. Those were the wonderful days when even the crudzines I received seemed to have merit because it was all so new to me.

As if the style and content were not enough, in the transcript of the talk you published this ish, Bob Shaw mentioned my all-time favourite of his Convention Inventions, the Uri N 8. I only have to close my eyes to see and hear his deadpan delivery and people almost literally rolling in the aisles.
illo by William Rotsler
Lloyd Penney, Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Blessing on BoSh for mentioning Stephen Leacock. Leacock lived most of his life in a massive mansion on the shores of Lake Couchiching, not far from Orillia, Ontario, where I grew up. Leacock was famous not only for his writing and economic theories, but also for his temper and his legendary drinking. Even though scholars and family deny it, Leacock was renowned for having the finest wine cellar in the province in his basement, and one of the most complete bars on the main floor in the billiards room. Like many fans, Leacock had a cast-iron liver.

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Harry Warner, Jr., Hagerstown, Maryland
Bob Shaw is as funny as ever. I just don't understand how one individual like him can create unaided a line of patter that is consistently funnier that the monologues by big names like Bob Hope and Johnny Carson which are pasted together from the contributions or several professional jokesters. Come to think of it, maybe I'm laboring under a false assumption. Could it be that Walt Willis, John Berry, and Eric Bentcliffe were inactive in fandom all those years because Bob was paying them to think up bright remarks for his convention speeches?

Dave Kyle must have an amazing memory. Lots of information is included in his latest article {{ "Dave Kyle Says You Can't..." }} that didn't see print when the events happened and, to the best of my knowledge, hasn't been put down more recently in reminiscences of other fans. I was particularly happy to see his reference to the comparatively small place alcoholic beverages played in fanac during the first ten or twelve years after Repeal. This bears out my contention that the drinking problem has been growing steadily as the years have passed since the 1930s, instead of having been just as bad during and immediately after Prohibition as it is today.

Now I wonder if Dave has to courage to tackle another retrospective into fandom past, in this case the WSFS, Inc., dispute that practically tore fandom apart for several years, back in the 1950s. I don't think many of today's younger fans have even heard about it, although it was infinitely more serious than the feud that split New York City's fandom in the 1930s. Maybe the topic is still too sensitive and bitter to be exhumed at this time, but I think a light touch would permit it to be retold without starting up any new slander or libel suits.

Dave Gorecki really should have written an article about his visit to Jack Darrow. I had no idea Jack was still alive, since I believe he was older than most fans back in the late 1920s and early 1930s when he bobbed up in almost every prozine issues's letter section. Maybe Jack could be recruited to give a talk or preside at a panel at some large convention in Chicago, where he could see and be seen by some of the fans who were with him at that first Worldcon. I suppose Jack could qualify as the pioneer figure in the trend away from fanzine fandom, since he never did much in the fanzine world while he was a pro letterhack. Today's congoers and screen watchers who never look at a fanzine don't know what they owe him.
illo by William Rotsler and Steve 
Mark L. Blackman, Brooklyn, New York
It's always a pleasure to read fannish reminiscences from Dave Kyle. I did my own bit toward clearing his name at this past Lunacon when, writing about the Fanzine Lounge in the Program Book, I noted, "Dave Kyle says you CAN sit here."

And likewise to read (though more so to hear) one of Bob Shaw's "Serious Scientific Talks." After all, Bob made science stupid long before Tom Weller. (Some of us were mildly frightened when Science Made Stupid won a Hugo for NON-fiction Book.) Given the expense of Trans-Atlantic travel or travel to Australia, some of Von Donegan's ideas might be worth a second look (that is, a look for one second).

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Michael Sherck, Granger, Indiana
Dave Kyle sez I have to write, eh? Does he say what I have to write about? I don't suppose he's gifted me with a subject, not to mention witty prose...

Kyle's fannish history essay was interesting, as I find all such. I think it singularly appropriate that such history is printed in your zine on what some of us might term biodegradable pulp paper: one wonders whether the memory will outlive the rememberer...

But what I really like about Mimosa is the cartoons and the letters from other readers. In Mimosa #7 my favorite cartoon was the one mixing Star Trek with Star Wars. (I'm the stormtrooper on the left.) In #8 my favorite was Alexis Gilliland's on page 33: as a smoker who is determined to hang on to his vice (since I have so few and I simply refuse to go through life without at least some bad habits) I've experienced that more than once. Like the time the woman wanted me to leave the house because I was smoking. Dammit, it was my house!

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Richard Brandt, El Paso, Texas
Thanks for Mimosa 9. (Geez, it's like leafing through that stack of Fanacs again...) Nice covers from Joe Mayhew, who impresses me more and more after making a modest first impression. Especially neat to have Dave Kyle explain the origins of his famous edict. I was surprised, when I was in charge of the Press Room for Noreascon Three, to receive a volunteer form from none other than Dave Kyle -- yes, that Dave Kyle. It's a peculiar sensation, I can tell you, to realize that you have the opportunity to boss Dave Kyle around. Now that's egoboo.

Craig Hilton's letter reminds me of a veteran English nurse who came to the States to help fill a nursing shortage. Asked to name the single biggest difference between hospitals here and in England, she promptly replied, "Gunshot wounds." Until she came Stateside, she'd never seen one.

Of course, I once attended a lecture and slide show by a British Army surgeon who'd been stationed in Northern Ireland, and learned a great deal about entry and exit wounds, as well as the results of sitting in a car with a bomb going off underneath it. "Not a lot we could do for this one," as he cheerfully described it.

Great loc from Joseph Nicholas (recapping many points made in his fanzine Flagrantly Titillating Title or whatever). It will be interesting to see how the history books view the ongoing upheaval in Eastern Europe: as a response to the shining egalitarian example of the States (as Bush would clearly prefer to think it), or as a response to the reformist example of noble Mikhail Gorbachev (the Martin Luther of the USSR) -- or as a temporary aberration, should the feared hardline backlash materialize in Moscow. (As some have remarked in re the prospect of the Soviet Union disintegrating, you don't really want anarchy among a band of states sharing one of the world's largest arsenals of nuclear warheads.)

illo by Roger Caldwell
Janice Murray, Seattle, Washington
Richard Brandt's comment "Of course, at the same time we bemoan the scarcity of new blood we often view with alarm the barbarian hordes at the gates," really hit a familiar chord.

When I first became involved in fandom a dozen years ago, it was thorough a conrunning fan who roped me into working on Norwescon. At Norwescons I met the local fanzine fen at a fan-oriented panels. Once I tired of club politics the relatively anarchic atmosphere of The Other Fandom was a welcome change.

That was way back when Norwescons were famous for being literary-oriented. Sure, there were dances, ice cream socials, and John Shirley's band *shudder* but there was also lots of fascinating people to meet. The pinnacle was Norwescon Three in 1980 where I met Judith Merril from Toronto, A. Bertram Chandler from Australia, and Mack Reynolds from Mexico. Those Norwescons drew intelligent, articulate, literate people like flies.

From there it went downhill. Somewhere along the way someone figured out that appealing to the gamers, vidiots, and costumers would be a lot more lucrative. As a result, ten years later Norwescon has no fanzine room, no fan guest of honor, minimal fan programming (not counting the obligatory panel where local conrunners get together and tell us how wonderful they are), and damn few people I would want to meet.

Insofar as Norwescons can no longer offer me a good return for my thirty bucks, I have gone to the last few only to sit at the bar and go to dinner with friends up from the Bay Area. In this, rich brown would say that I am in disagreement with Mike Glicksohn about the definition of 'deadbeat'. Well, I've disagreed with him before and no doubt will again. But I don't consume anything in the consuite, I don't try to get into programming, I don't even dance. In fact a few people said we had better panel discussions in the bar than they did in the function rooms.

I also go to the bid parties -- they want my vote, they'll answer my questions. Why should the concom get part of that action?

{{ It's sad that so many good cons have gone downhill. We think you're right that cons appeared to have changed when fringe fans got in change and were out only to make money. When a 24-hour video room or gamers' tournaments gets bigger billing than some of the invited guests, it's easy to see that times have changed. Like you, we've occasionally gone to cons as 'non-attending' members, where our only purpose was to see people we know and visit a bid party or two. And like you, as long as we're not gate crashing by pretending to be paying customers, we feel there is no harm. }}

This year even the Bayareans stayed away. Most of them said they're saving up for the Vancouver Westercon. Three of them are hucksters who would rather brave the Canadian customs officials than sit at a convention notorious for lousy book sales.

So when the conversation known as Whither Fandom (or is it wither fandom?) comes up here I just point at the disintegration of book-oriented cons in Seattle. Fanzine fandom used to recruit from Norwescons. We can't do that any more.

So where will Seattle fanzine fandom recruit new blood, now that Norwescons are no longer good hunting grounds? Probably from the Clarion West workshops. Think of it: intelligent people, people who write even unto the point of paying a thousand dollars to be verbally abused... sounds like fanzine fandom to me.

illo by Joe Mayhew
Martyn Taylor, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Charlie Williams' "Rat du Jour" illo on page 6 in M10 really got me, although I couldn't for the life of me say why. I just thought it was hilarious. Then I divined the reason. I spent a brief time in Vienna (from what I saw of it, one of the most over-rated cities you will find) and the one memory which keeps on coming back is of a lunch in the royal gardens or some such tourist trap. Ratsherrentoast it was, and I have to admit I enjoyed it, but I don't even have schoolboy German to know that it doesn't mean gentleman rodent on toast.

{{  And that isn't even the illo we expected we'd get when we sent that page to Charlie! We'd left a spot at the end of the page, where we'd compared the elevator at the Brussels Beaux-Arts Museum with a shuttlecraft of the Starship Enterprise, figuring that lead-in would be an easy one for him to pick up on. Instead, he found an even better spot for a cartoon on that page. He continues to amaze us in being able to come up with funny illustrations for even the most mundane of descriptions. }}

I believe you are aware that Mimosa is just too friendly for its own good, which is why the letter column always appears to be made up of little articles in their own right rather than specific letters of comment.

{{  Lots of people have been telling us lately, in one way or another, that Mimosa is a hard fanzine to LoC. You're the first one who's said we're too friendly for our own good, though! Thanks (we think). Anyway, there's no good answer to the comments about it being difficult to find comment hooks. Maybe one reason is that fan history articles are not easy to relate to. Or that amusing, anecdotal articles are fun to read but not very comment-inspiring. Or maybe it's just that we're too damn friendly for our own good... }}

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Shelby Vick, Panama City, Florida
rich brown's comment that Mimosa left no handles to grab reminded me of a bit of self-analysis I indulged in recently to Norm Metcalf in a LoC to his fanzine Tyndallite. Lack of handles seems to have been my trademark in fandom; not only with my fanzine, Confusion, but also in letters and articles. I bring up a point, then look at both sides of it and -- if I reach any conclusion at all -- say something like, "Of course, that's just my personal opinion..." I try not to be offensive, I try not to be argumentative, and just attempt some mild humor.

Admittedly, this has some advantages; I don't collect enemies, I don't get into feuds... but I also leave little trace behind me. If I hadn't been in on the revelation that Lee Hoffman was NOT a sixteen year old boy, and then followed that by the Willis Campaign, my other works in fandom would have left barely a ripple. You know, a pleasant occurrence, but nothing memorable.

But, transferring this to Mimosa, I'm NOT advising that you start a feud or raise Cain in some other way just to be sure you're remembered. Don't change... unless, of course, you want to launch some worthwhile Campaign for a worthy fan... (But be careful that it's a fan who is willing to devote 48 hours a day to making the campaign succeed.)

Roger Waddington hit a point I have often remarked on: All the advances in desktop publishing have made it too easy to put out a polished-looking fanzine, far superior in appearance to the old mimeoed or hectographed zines. Note I said 'appearance': there were some zines that were hard to read but well worth the effort -- and, if nothing else, you appreciated the effort it took to put it out.

illo by David Haugh
Peggy Rae Pavlat, College Park, Maryland
Thank you for sending me a copy of Mimosa 9. Your fanzine and those of Mark Manning are extremely reminiscent of the wonderful fanzines which were being published in the early 1960s. I didn't intend to write a tale of the past, but I seem to have done so. Use it if you wish.

My reluctance to write letters of comment stems from an experience I had when I was (probably) seventeen. At the time, I was dating Ron Ellik (the Squirrel) and he had come to the east coast to see me. During his stay, we traveled to New York City and visited with both the Lupoffs (Dick and Pat) and the Shaws (Noreen and Larry).

This was the period when the Lupoffs were publishing a marvelous fanzine, Xero, and the Shaws were publishing a frantically-paced newszine named Ax. Ax was the kind of fanzine which may only have been possible in that era. It served to keep all of us in the science fiction family abreast of Important Affairs (and other matters of state). During this same period I was publishing a little-known and long forgotten fanzine named Etwas. (I saw a copy in the fanzine room at a Worldcon not too many years ago -- how nice to say that I enjoyed re-reading it! Even the first issue!!!)

While we were at the Shaw's home, the mail was delivered. I was shocked to see Noreen bring in about TEN INCHES of fanzines! When I made some smart comment about the mail being light today, Noreen looked at me ruefully and replied that this was "about normal."

Some years later, I brought in my own mail and there were TWO INCHES of fanzines!

Since I wasn't publishing Ax, and I wasn't doing anything but publishing my 80-copy fanzine and sending letters of comment to interested fanzines, I quickly figured out where this could lead if I didn't change my behavior!

My last letter of comment was sent the day before the Three Inch Day. Ever so slowly the mail carrier's expression changed when we happened to meet on the street. No longer did he cower and turn his back should we meet. Occasionally he even smiled.

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Harold P. Sanderson, North Lindenhurst, New York
It was interesting to see that Dave Kyle is still going strong as is (obviously) Bob Shaw. The last time I saw Dave was when we discussed `50s fan-type things on a panel during a Denver Worldcon. That was about ten years ago and it was the last con I attended. I haven't seen Bob since we left England to come over here, and that is over thirty years ago.

I don't mean to ignore your own sterling effort (any more than I mean to pound in the fact that I'm British -- damn you Shaw, you're still contagious) or the amusing piece by Dave Luckett which I did luckett and read, but I wanted to spend most of the time with your letter column. Letter columns have always been the major element of `50s fanzines. I almost said 'major focal point' but I think I killed that phrase stone cold dead in several issues of Aporrheta (1958-60).

In connection with the general subject of the letters in Mimosa 9, I could claim that the major reason I stopped going to cons was, in fact, the sheer size of the monsters. To be truthful tho', I have to admit that was only a part of the reason. (Although a big part. Prior to arriving in the States, the largest con I had attended was the first Worldcon held outside the North American continent. That was the first London con and I was the Treasurer and I don't even want to think about what that meant. I still have nightmares...) I suppose the main reason was that Joy and I found so much to do in this New World that we just naturally gafiated. We did have a little fan life at the start of our time here, but it was mainly limited to local New York events.

I have to object to a point made by Marc Ortlieb that "It is only hindsight that gives zines a legendary status." This might be true of some fanzines, but not the two he mentions, Hyphen and Le Zombie. I'll limit myself to Hyphen and simply point out that this was very much a legend in its own time. My God, grown men were known to go around weeping and moaning and suffering terrible withdrawal pains each time that Hyphen was late. Walt Willis, Bob Shaw (he of the Typewriter), James White, George Charters, Chuck 'Down with King Billy' Harris (Irish Fandom's very own London Circle spy), and later, John Berry -- all were an essential part of this heady mixture that we all had to have at any cost. And let us not forget ATom. His 'Church, anyone?' after-the-con-party cover for Hyphen is one I will never forget. I will always be thankful that he did the covers for me for Aporrheta (all 17 of them), but his work for Hyphen was simply superb.

I would like to try to respond to Lloyd Penney's question as to what made the `50s fanzine writing so fannish, but it seems to me this is one of those things that is almost impossible to define. If you have to explain a joke, it ceases to be funny. In an attempt to at least try to offer some insight, I've just taken time out to scan through Guy Terwilleger's The Best of Fandom -- 1958 and as a result I am at more of a loss than ever. How do you explain Bloch's "Bah! Humbug" from Oopsla!, or Burbee's "The Mind of Chow" from Innuendo, or Tucker's "The Biter Bit" from Grue... For that matter, would they be as funny today, anyway? They still are to me, but then I was there, so to speak. And then, surely that is colored by the period, the events, the environment in which these pieces were created. All of that is gone. The style is dead, long live the style.

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Don Fitch, Frijo, California
Richard Gilliam's description of The Founding Fathers Period of Fanzine history rather frightens me. It seems to be an accurate description of the era which ended a decade or so before I entered fandom, but also of Media Fandom today, and the latter group is so much larger than ours was (and publication is so much easier now, albeit perhaps more expensive) that I don't want to think about what's going to happen in the next 50 years.

Like Lloyd Penney, I see no dearth of fanzines. I don't receive as many as I would like, of course, but far more than I can handle as a very slow writer of very long LoCs. As Lloyd says, fanzines are now "just one of the many activities fandom encompasses;" what he doesn't mention is that they used to be one of the things every fan did.

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Alexis Gilliland, Arlington, Virginia
A postscript to my letter in Mimosa 9. Looking through my art files for something else, I found The WSFA Journal covers for #83 and #85, issues I don't have in my fanzine collection, so I was clearly mistaken when I said #76 was the end of Don Miller's run of TWJ, even though it did sort of mark the finish, or the beginning of the end. Don was very, very tenacious.

illo by William Rotsler and Steve Stiles
Martin Morse Wooster, Silver Spring, Maryland
Thanks for Mimosa 9. Since Don Miller isn't around to answer Alexis Gilliland, may I say a few words in his defense?

I first met Don in 1975, after he split with WSFA but while he was still publishing. Yes, Don was a bit of a nerd; he was the sort of person who thought the epitome of fun was to hide in his attic and type stencils on a battered old Underwood. And WSFA was probably right to institute a divorce with Miller, since few WSFAns, then or now, are interested in fanzines or fan publishing. (I can only think of one fanzine, Mary Hagan's The Mad Engineer, published by a WSFAn during the 1980s. All of the zines Gilliland cites were published before 1980.)

But Miller's fanzines were good sercon zines. They always had items of interest, and featured major articles by Thomas Burnett Swann and Gene Wolfe. Miller also was one of the first mystery fanzine publishers. His zines were not flashy, and certainly not faanish, but they still hold up well. Miller should be regarded as one of the major fan editors of his time (1970-1977).

Don Miller's wife did not sell his fanzine collection "for scrap paper." The collection ended up in the hands of a Pennsylvania dealer, who sold fanzines from the collection at East Coast conventions for several years after Miller's death. And Don Miller's wife was the quintessential Antifan; even if Don had published the sort of fanzines Gilliland prefers, she would have still hated fandom.

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Barry Newton, Sandy Spring, Maryland
I hope you will be suitably impressed at receiving my first LoC of the new year. Almost my first ever, but that went off to some folks in England shortly after Confiction.

A few impressions on form and content; firstly as to form: this looked a lot like the zine I'll publish if I ever find the gumption. You don't use too many type styles, which suits me just fine. One thing I had trouble with was the typeface you use for your comments and responses. On shiny, coated white paper, it would probably stand out from the text very nicely, but on your solid, trufaanish stock, most of the contrast is blotted out.

{{  That typeface is called 'Tongue-in-Cheek'... Well, not really, but we do agree that some typefaces look better than others in a mimeo'd fanzine. We're still experimenting to see which of the ones we have available will reproduce readably. }}

In the general category of form, let me include style. As someone who has only occasionally picked up a fanzine in the last twenty years, let me say that it's nice to be able to follow the text without a key to acronyms. Also, there's very little stridency of tone or coarseness of language. Are all of your writers this gentle, or do they get a bit of editorial help?

{{  We (usually) let our writers be as #*&#ing coarse and ungentle as they want to be... }}

As for content, before I ever consider publishing anything ever, I will study your techniques for getting material. Forty pages of coherent language from fans. People even I have heard of. Art, by artists who had been given a chance to read what they were illustrating. There's a lesson in production by itself.

{{  Our technique for getting material is a simple one to master -- it's called 'begging'. Some of our contributors refer to it as 'pestering'. Seriously, it does take quite a bit of effort to gather all the contributions for each issue, and we've got the telephone bills to prove it! If you keep publishing a fanzine year after year, though, it eventually gets easier and easier to get enough material for each succeeding issue, as if there's a fannish Law of Inertia that eventually takes effect. And we're glad that it does; with the high cost of new clothes, we can't afford to wear the knees out of too many more bluejeans! }}

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We Also Heard From:
Harry Andruschak; Martha Beck; Sheryl Birkhead; Redd Boggs; Bill Bowers; Ned Brooks; Brian Earl Brown; Gary Brown; Roger Caldwell; Gregg Calkins; G.M. Carr; Joan W. Carr; P.L. Caruthers-Montgomery; Joe Celko; Russ Chauvenet; Vincent Clarke; Buck Coulson; Richard Court; Don D'Ammassa; Gary Deindorfer; Carolyn Doyle; Jenny Glover; Ian Gunn; David Haugh; David Heath, Jr.; Arthur Hlavaty; Lee Hoffman; Alan Hutchinson; Ruth Judkowitz; Arnie Katz; Irv Koch; R'ykandar Korra'ti; Fred Liddle; Guy H. Lillian III; Mark Manning; Norm Metcalf; Pat Molloy; Chris Nelson; Spike Parsons; Bruce Pelz; Dave Rike; David Rowe; David Schlosser; Julius Schwartz; Bob Shaw; Ricky Sheppard; Ruth Shields; Dale Speirs; Alan Stewart; Alan J. Sullivan; Phil Tortorici; Paul Valcours; Wally Weber; Toni Weisskopf; Taras Wolansky

(Thanks also to those who sent Canadian and Australian stamps.)

illo by William Rotsler
Illustrations by William Rotsler, Alexis Gilliland, Brad Foster, William Rotsler & Steve Stiles, Teddy Harvia (Chat cartoon), Terry Jeeves, Roger Caldwell, Joe Mayhew, and David Haugh

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