Letters Column header illo by Sheryl Birkhead
{{ Thank you once again for all the interesting letters of comment we received. Readers comments truly are the energy source that keeps fanzine publishers going, and we want to assure you that all comments we receive on specific articles (whether or not they appear in our Letters Column) are collected and sent to the writers of those articles. Besides comments on Mimosa 25, some of the letters we received this time requested that we reconsider our earlier decision to cease publication of Mimosa, so an update on our future publication plans is probably in order. We've not changed our minds; we won't be publishing beyond issue 30. But M27 ought to appear about the middle of 2001.

Where to begin this time? As usual, Mike Resnick's "Worldcon Memories" received the most comments, but not far behind was our own Opening Comments about our "South by Southwest" odyssey last year to Los Angeles for the NASFiC and Australia for the worldcon. We'll start there. }}

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Leigh Kimmel, Indianapolis, Indiana
I enjoyed "South by Southwest, an Antipodean Adventure," both for a different view of NASFiC (which I spent largely tethered to a table in the Dealers Room, alas, so it's always great to hear about what others got to), and for the account of Aussiecon, which I missed entirely. I'd originally hoped to get to it when Australia first won the Worldcon bid, but life simply refused to co-operate and I didn't get to go. Still, your account was so extensive that it was almost like being there.

Mike Resnick's "Worldcon Memories" was another fascinating visit to Worldcons I never got to attend (heck, some of them were before I even *was*, and most of the rest were from days before I started attending conventions). It's fascinating to read about those early days of the small, intimate (and inexpensive) Worldcons, especially in these days of big-budget extravaganzas where it's simply physically impossible to see and do everything (short of cloning oneself multiple times and sending one to each event that's happening at a given time).

I also enjoyed Forry Ackerman's adventures in 'Shockholm' (actually in Lund, Sweden) {{ in "Through Time and Space with Forry Ackerman, Part 10" }}. His account of the film festival is worth a chuckle, especially the schlocky movies.

The other articles were interesting as well, including Dave Kyle's story of "The Legendary Hydra Club" of New York (so named for its nine original members), and the reminiscences of the days of Irish Fandom (we seem to be losing a lot of our big names in fandom these last several years, and it doesn't seem like anyone's stepping forward to fill their shoes -- no wonder people are expressing concerns that fans are a dying breed and fandom as we know it may soon be coming to a halt).

In the lettercol, I noted Robert Lichtman's comments on auto racing in relation to having lived through the energy crisis of the 1970s. It's interesting that we seem to be having a gas shortage again -- only instead of having gas lines stretching for blocks, we're having prices skyrocketing through the roof (they're talking about gas getting as high as two bucks a gallon by summer, which is going to make it that much harder for us to make our expenses as book dealers at conventions). It might be interesting to speculate as to the differences in economic policy that led to the two different outcomes.

Finally, I also enjoyed the Closing Comments {{"Other Places, Other Fandoms" }}, and especially the account of fandom in Slovakia and Poland. It's so neat to see the flourishing of Eastern European fandom, especially after the fall of the Iron Curtain -- and it's of especial interest to me because I studied Eastern Europe as part of my undergraduate major.

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Martin Morse Wooster, Silver Spring, Maryland
I could fill this letter with memories of Australia, but just let me respond to some comments of Richard & Nicki Lynch and Eve Ackerman. I agree with the Lynches that the Queen Victoria Market is a wonderful place. I spent about four hours there -- it takes that long to see all the booths, eat snacks (such as 'American Donuts'), buy things, listen to excellent live music, and just marvel at all the stuff that's for sale. But while I didn't spend as much time at the con as the Lynches did (too many things to see!), I think they're in error about the reason for the lack of parties. My understanding is that there were few parties both because hotels charged incredibly high corkage fees and because Australian conventions, like British ones, tend to cluster at the bar in the evenings. I noticed that the bar at the Centra was packed every night, and served as an informal consuite.

I second Eve Ackerman's comments about the excellence of Australian dairy products {{ in "How I Spent My Summer (Actually Their Winter) Vacation" }}. This is a country where coffee-flavored milk comes in seven different flavors, all good. Friends in Sydney also introduced me to King Island cheeses, which are creamy and delicious. In fact, one of the most pleasant days I had in Australia was sailing in Sydney Harbour aboard the HMAV Bounty (built for the Mel Gibson movie), eating King Island cheeses and trying exotic fruits, like blood oranges. And since the Bounty was used in the Moby Dick television miniseries that starred Patrick Stewart as Captain Ahab, I have sailed on a ship that was commanded by Patrick Stewart.

Dave Kyle's piece on the Hydra Club is one of his better articles. As he points out, the Hydra Club was historically important, since its members tried to form the predecessor to SFWA, and did manage to create the precursor to the Nebula Awards and the ancestor to Nebula Weekend. But I haven't seen a memoir prior to Kyle's that explained what Hydra Club meetings were like. And by ending his memoir with the Hydracon, Kyle doesn't tell us how long the club lasted and why it ended. Given that the Hydra Club is not as well known as it should be, any information Kyle could provide about the reasons for its demise would be quite valuable.

{{ According to Dave, the club faded away sometime in the 1960s. Dave himself had moved to northern New York by then and only got to Hydra Club meetings infrequently. Apparently some of the other members had similar changes in their lives. The Hydra Club was an essential part of the 1950s, where it was needed to get writers and publishers (then mostly small presses) together. By the 1960s the field had grown enough that there were other ways. }}
illo by Teddy Harvia
Steve Sneyd, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom
In your Opening Comments, you mentioned seeing a floral clock in Melbourne. Floral clocks used to be very popular in municipal gardens in the UK, so Oz is perhaps keeping a link with the 'Old Country'. You also mentioned people riding trams for the sake of company. Here, with very cheap bus fares for pensioners in West Yorkshire and plenty of long routes, including circular ones, we get the same phenomenon. Particularly in winter -- not just to see people and places, I think, but a way of keeping warm without expense of running up your own heating bill.

In Richard's Closing Comments, he mentioned being in Slovakia on a business trip. I was also, briefly, in Slovakia in February -- I gave a paper on using science fiction poetry as a trigger in creative writing classes, at a British Council symposium at Budmerice Castle near Bratislava on creative writing in education. One of other participants, Stefan Konkol, turned out to be a Slovak SF writer. On my final morning in the country, before heading for the airport, he took me around Bratislava, including to the city's only SF bookstore, a cellar under a computer games shop (which presumably subsidises the literature side). There were endless shelves of Terry Pratchett translations, but also a good selection of other writers. I've got a copy of Konkol's latest novel (in Slovak) and an issue of Fantazia with one of his stories in it (I was also pleased to see it uses SF poetry), so your mention rang a bell. (Bratislava seems to be one of those places never mentioned as a destination, yet everyone turns out to have been there -- a bit like Tazenda in the Foundation series!)
illo by William Rotsler and Alexis 
Evelyn Leeper, Matawan, New Jersey
I'm really enjoying Mike Resnick's "Worldcon Memories," but I have one small correction. MidAmeriCon was the first, but not the only, worldcon to have a hardcover program book: Conspiracy `87 (in Brighton) also had one.

As for Eve Ackerman's description of the Floriana Guesthouse in Cairns, I won't say that I take responsibility for their choice, but I was involved. I had been corresponding with Janice about Australia and she mentioned a hotel they were staying in. I commented that they were staying in a much more expensive set of hotels than us, and mentioned the Floriana as an example of our choice. What can I say? Lonely Planet liked it, the price was right (A$70, or less than US$50 for a room with kitchenette), and its web page didn't mention the helicopters.

We arrived in Cairns a couple of weeks before Eve, and had the same room they got. What bothered us was the street light just outside the completely uncurtained windows. We did get them to hang a couple of sheets (the curtains were out for cleaning or repair or something), which were still there two weeks later. If there were helicopters, we slept through them. Then again, when I was in high school I once slept through a fire across the street involving several fire engines and police cars (right outside my open window), which I'm sure did not coast up with their engines off.

If nothing else, this has probably cured Janice Gelb of ever taking hotel advice from me again -- and Eve will certainly think twice as well.

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Eric Lindsay, Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia
Mike Resnick's Worldcon articles certainly bring back some memories. I'd (thankfully) forgotten the hospital bands that MidAmeriCon used. As I recall, you could slip them off, with a little trouble, and put then back again. Luckily that idea wasn't repeated. I remember celebrating with Joe and Gay Haldeman, first met at that very con, and have always wondered just how I was lucky enough to continue to be friends with them, and visit back and forth for more than twenty years.

Given all the problems Mike reports at Worldcons, it really is a wonder he has the good humour to continue to present panels and items at them.

With Eve Ackerman doing an Australian trip report, I was thinking you almost had an Australian travel issue. Glad Eve realised exactly what the Aussie Rules Football was aiming at, with their teams in short shorts and playing in the mud. Just moving with the times. I also admit to finding USA money very boring, with the same colour and size. What do people with poor eyesight do to tell bills one from another? Isn't there some rule about discriminating against blind people that way? Incidently, it seems Brazil is going to start using our style plastic money, just like many South Pacific nations do.

John Foyster's article {{"Scraps from an Album" }} also brought back memories. I recall driving to a con in Melbourne with Alf van der Poorten in Tom Newlyn's Alfa, and a wonderfully fast car it was too. On another Melbourne convention trip Alf drove down with me in my much more ancient Morris Major. In the middle of the night on the way back the hood flew up while Alf was driving. Luckily Alf was able to stop with no damage done to us. It turned out one of the hinges of the hood had lost the press fit metal pin that completed the hinge. We drove the rest of the way to Sydney with a screwdriver blade wired through the hinge, and a nylon cord holding down the rather bent hood. Alf van der Poorten is now a Head of School at Macquarie University, but as I recall, even in his fannish days he was accumulating new degrees in various topics at a great rate. Every now and then if I see something that might interest him (like another Aussiecon), I send him an email to mention it. It was Alf and Ken Ozanne who started agitating at the first Aussiecon in 1975 for a second Aussiecon. I now can't recall who proposed it, and who did the running around.
illo by William Rotsler
Milt Stevens, Simi Valley, California
As usual, Mike Resnick's "Worldcon Memories" in Mimosa #25 did provoke some. The Chase Park Plaza in 1969 may not be the worst worldcon hotel of all times, but it is a formidable contender for the title. Thus many years later I can almost appreciate what made the elevator operators so surly. Imagine coming to work every day knowing that you could not only be replaced by a machine, but that the machine only cost $29.95. However, at the time, I briefly considered having an incident with one of the elevator operators myself. I was on one of the elevators with an elderly non-fan couple on one occasion when the adolescent elevator operator stopped about one foot above the floor. The gentleman remarked the operator might try to get a little closer next time. The operator replied with a string of obscenities. I had a momentary urge to grab the kid by the scruff of the neck and the seat of the pants and propel him head first out of the elevator. I had already noticed that the elevator was controlled by a single lever. How difficult could any thing with only one control be to fly? In retrospect, I'm sure there must have been some silly local ordinance against hijacking elevators. Crashing an elevator into the sub-basement might have caused a few problems.

The elevators weren't my worst memory of the Chase Park Plaza. The worst thing they did was run out of food on Sunday with no other sources of food within walking distance. This left fans with the grim prospect of being left in a convention hotel with nothing to eat but each other. It's times like that when you appreciate how many fans would qualify as USDA Choice. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. They suggested we should eat the hotel staff first.

The costume 'The Turd' was certainly a memorable incident in the history of worldcon masquerades. It was also one of the most colossal examples of lack of prior planning in the history of fandom. The perpetrator covered his entire body with peanut butter without considering how he would remove ten pounds of crunchy peanut butter from all over his entire body. Hotel security had orders to shoot him on sight if he tried the swimming pool. This meant he had to do it in the bathtub of his hotel room. The next morning he greeted the maid with an abject apology and a $20 tip. She looked in the bathroom and commented that she had seen worse. The mind boggles to consider what 'worse' might have consisted of.

Harry Warner {{ in "The Summer of `39" }} mentions the frequently-deceased Earl Singleton. Singleton lived such a vigorous posthumous life that I met him in the early `80s. One Thursday evening, Len Moffatt and I were standing outside the LASFS Clubhouse talking. An older man drifted over and joined the conversation. He said his name was Oliver King Smith. The name sounded familiar but it didn't quite ring a bell with me. After Smith had left, Len told me about the Psuicide. Earl Singleton has supposedly committed suicide, and the event was reported by one Oliver King Smith. People who had known what Singleton had looked like saw Smith and noticed Oliver King Smith was Earl Singleton. Several months after Len and I talked to Smith, LASFS received a letter supposedly from Oliver King Smith's daughter reporting that Smith had died. As hoaxes go, that one makes utterly no sense. Smith had only visited the LASFS once, and only a couple of people had ever heard of him. People only react when your gone if they knew you were here in the first place.
illo by William Rotsler
John Hertz, Los Angeles, California
Mike Resnick, at Chicon 2000, confessed he'd forgotten the rest of that Scott Shaw story (in his "Worldcon Memories" article in Mimosa 25) from the Masquerade at L.A.Con in 1972. Shaw was the cartoonist who entered as the title character of an underground comic strip he wrote, The Turd. Indeed he was covered with peanut butter chunky, I'm afraid -- which smeared and dripped and led to the notorious 'No Peanut Butter' rule. But those effects were not evident from the audience.

He lurched on stage brandishing a plumber's helper (for non-U.S. readers, a wide rubber cup on a stick used to restore outflow in what I understand you call a water closet). Like most in the house I knew nothing of his comic strip, but from his appearance and manner we saw at once what he was. Laughter.

He paused for our recognition. Then, in a voice like a sewer, dragging out the words, he roared, "I ... STINK!"

That was so obviously true, and the perfect expression of this creature we really started laughing. Many of us took it for his curtain line. He let just enough more time go by, then burst out, finishing his thought, "... I AM!"
That brought the house down.
illo by William Rotsler and Alexis 
Mike Resnick, Cincinnati, Ohio
Ted White, in his letter, caught me in a misstatement of fact {{concerning Part 3 of Mike's series }}. I checked the program book, and the panel I referred to at Nycon III was not supposed to be about whether one editor should be editing three prozines... but that was what it degenerated into. As for the rest of the program, I'll stick by what I said; I've been to Rivercons and Windycons and ConFusions and Boskones that were far more heavily programmed than his worldcon, and for a fanboy who had come halfway across the country to listen to his heroes, they weren't on display very often if at all.

"I gather," says Ted, "Mike had no interest in the dialogue between new hot writers Samuel Delany and Roger Zelazny, for example..." OK, at the risk of blasphemy, I'll freely admit it. Chip and Roger later became my friends as well as two of my literary heroes, but in 1967 they were, as Ted says, hot newcomers, and I -- and most of the fans I spoke to -- wanted to hear hot older writers who had gotten us reading science fiction in the first place, writers whom we had grown up admiring.

Still, if you want a pleasant memory from Nycon III, I'll give you one. Paul Allen, a Burroughs fan who was publishing The Barsoomian at the time (and later published Fantasy Newsletter) picked up a copy of Dick Lupoff's Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventure. He brought it over to Reed Crandall, who had done the frontispiece, to sign it. Reed not only signed it, but drew a little Tarzan sketch on the title page. Then Paul took it to Frank Frazetta for an autograph; Frank saw Reed's drawing, and gave Paul a full-page sketch on one of the blank pages. So did Al Williamson. Roy Krenkel wasn't there, but Paul visited him one afternoon, and Roy also gave him a full-page sketch. By the end of the con, I think he had original pen-and-inks by twelve different pro artists in the book, and was turning down thousand-dollar offers (in 1967, yet!) for it. Niftiest made-on-the-spot collector's item I ever saw.

So anyway, Ted remembers things differently. Fine. Those are his memories, and perhaps he should write them up (or write them up again, for I'm sure he's done it sometime, somewhere, in the last third of a century). What I wrote were my memories. They are totally subjective, and while I wish I had encountered and/or fondly remembered some of the things that so favorably impressed him about Nycon III, the fact is I didn't. I suspect that's why we have more than one article about any given subject.
illo by William Rotsler
Ron Bennett, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
Now, that's a salient point Mike Resnick makes in his super article, this throwaway remark about the huckster room displaying only reading matter and not the toys, games, 'media junk', and so forth. No doubt about it -- we've been taken over by aliens.

Ah, poor John Brunner. One morning I had breakfast with Roger Peyton, who runs the Andromeda Bookshop in Birmingham. A terrific guy whom I've known for thirty years. I think his only connection with fanzines was when he was editing Vector for the BSFA sometime in the mid-sixties. We were musing about fans and conventions and actually said that as far as we knew no fan had actually died during a convention. Little did we know that at just about that time John was having his fatal attack. Surprisingly, whilst the terrible news was spreading through the convention, it didn't reach me, which simply goes to show how I'm involved with the Inner Wheels (perhaps I had my one customer of the con just then). The first I heard about John was the following morning when Roger confronted me with the startling words, "I'm not having breakfast with you again."

Interesting that Mike mentions John as being the first pro to die at a con, whilst I was regarding him as the first fan to have done so. Perhaps because I'd known John since his days in OMPA, his attendances at Kettering, during his time in the RAF and before his first marriage. An exceedingly intelligent guy. Very insecure.

Ah, Dave Kyle. Not only does he spread before us his tales of people and politics (fan politics, that is), but they're imbued with, well more than a sense of wonder, with a sweep of the glory which could be, and should be, Man's destiny. Always optimistic, always uplifting. A great pity that there's not more of his dry, caustic wit in his writing, wit which, with its trademark dead pan delivery, always has me rolling about on the floor. A pity, too, that I don't see more of him these days. A person whose company I've always enjoyed. Even if he once did want to throw me out of a party at a Coventry convention (I was saved by Roger Sims). As ever, I loved his article, this on the early days of the Hydra Club. With my brilliant analytical mind and incisive intellectual brain, it had never dawned on me that the club originally had nine members. (Sometimes I amaze myself with my brilliance, I tell you.) A great article. Only regret for me was that there were only passing references to Harry Harrison, another fan/pro in whose humour I revel.

Joyce Scrivner's article {{"Bob and Walt, A Remembrance" }} brought back memories of the `79 WorldCon... my daughter Rachel, sans hair and between bouts of chemotherapy, my son Andrew having his first contact with computers, the Commodore Pet with its 16K memory (he became computer mad, ran computer rooms at British cons when the things were still a novelty, has had his own software company, has edited his own fanzine... which is a joke as it was the national magazine, Atari User, has had three books published on computers and is now working in northern California, not too far from where Robert Lichtman lives. And it all started at that Brighton con. Wonder what track his life would have taken if we hadn't been there), the pair of them rushing to me to show me an autograph which said, "Chriggle Roove," and naturally we've since always called the unfortunate Christopher Reeve by that name, re-meeting Greg Benford after twenty-three years and Bob Tucker after twenty-one, of having a Perry Rhodan book-hurling session with Ned Brooks, of finding a German dealer with four-hundred year old fantasy books, in German, at some hundreds of pounds per (no, he didn't sell any), that blasted cricket match on the beach (and me, a cricketer, only finding out about it and managing to join in about five minutes before it ended).
illo by William Rotsler
Marty Cantor, North Hollywood, California
I rarely spend much time reading trip reports; however, in the case of the various reports of travels to and around Aussiecon 3, I am making an exception. My trip to Oz was to Aussiecon 2, and I am as much fascinated by the things seen and done which were different from what I did and saw during my trip. Even more interesting are the takes on what I did see and do -- and it all brings back warm memories. Retirement remains comfortable for me; however, it does not allow the luxury of any travel. My trip Down Under is one of the highlights of my life and I am glad that you got to experience some of that wonderful place.

Joyce Scrivner writes about her meetings with Walt Willis and Bob Shaw. It is sometimes relatively small things which stand out in remembrances, and that is the case with my connections with both of these fans. Mostly, with Walt, I would send to him my fanzine and he would reply with a LoC (although there was the occasional random letter about something else); finally, we met at the 1987 Brighton Worldcon. The most notable memory I have of Walt at that time is when we both sat down for some conversation in the Fan Room and he asked me if I would introduce him to any American fans who wandered by. "I would be glad to do that," I said, and spent the next few hours introducing him to many fans, all of whom were Aussies! Not one American fan came up to our table during that time.

Bob Shaw was a fan with whom I had conversations at cons in what seemed like all over the place; and, somehow, I do not believe that he did not make it onto my mailing list until I was near ready to put Holier Than Thou to rest. Robbie got to know him better than I did, visiting him at his home on her tour of England after the Brighton Worldcon (I went home right after the Con as I had to get back to work). My most vivid memory of Bob is of a quiet, private time the two of us spent together in Australia. I was one of the horde of fans who stayed with the Ortliebs after Aussiecon 2. Now, the Ortlieb's place was a non-smoking abode, and both Bob and I smoked pipes. On the Tuesday after the con, most of the fans staying with the Ortliebs went off to visit Murchison Falls but Bob and I decided to not go, instead retreating to the backyard to have a companionable smoke and spin wild theories about the variegated fauna we discovered inhabiting the grass. All very forgettable and all very relaxing and unwinding after the frenzy of the con, which had not abated at the Ortliebs due to the sheer number of fans who were staying there.

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Lloyd Penney, Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada
Once again, a wonderful scratchboard cover from Julia Morgan-Scott. I'd like to read some reactions to it from Australian fans.

{{So would we, actually. Several people commented on Julia's cover for M25, "The Kronicles of Kaptain Koala," but none of them were from Australia! }}

Concerning your Opening Comments and your Fan GoHship at ConuCopia, Yvonne and I were Fan GoHs this past February at our own local convention, Ad Astra 2000. We had the same dilemma you had, what to do for our GoH hour. I hate the idea of speeches, so we chose to be interviewed, and we asked Robert J. Sawyer to do the job. Rob and I are old schoolmates, and Yvonne and I have known him since his fannish days as a convenor of the local SF club, now long gone. As has happened at several other cons we've guested at, we expected our GoH hour to be pretty sparse, but with Rob as part of the team, we filled the room. We ignored the head table on the risers, and asked the audience to gather around, and we'd have a chat. That hour was a lot of fun, we told a few stories, we had a lot of laughs. Rob is a good interviewer, and he ensured the pace was upbeat and enjoyable. (He's a graduate of the Radio and TV programme at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, so he'd better be good.)

I would have loved to have been at Aussiecon 3, and there had been the remote chance that we would have been there, if a travel agent had come through with an inexpensive fare. After all the years I've been receiving Thyme and Ethel the Aardvark, and all the other fanzines from Down Under, I would have liked to have put a face to all the names I know there, and going to an MSFC meeting would have been some fun, too. But there was just too much geography in the way.

Concerning Nicki's article about 'MSTing' the movies {{"At the Movies" }}, at one Niagara Falls convention some years ago, the con made a big fuss about having for the first time, a showing of the animated Star Trek cartoons, which had not been seen in many moons. However, one thing that had not been revealed on the con flyer, and the provider of the animated ST had not told the convention, was that that the episodes had been purchased from a television station in Montr‚al, so the dialogue track was in French, and Capitaine Kirque and Docteur Spock were battling avec les Klingonnes. (Yeah, I know, Dr. Spock was the baby doctor, but a lot of things were lost in the translation from English to French.) So, with hours to go before this big presentation, they discovered that Yvonne is fluently bilingual -- she spent the entire presentation standing beside the big screen, holding a microphone and doing instant translations for the assembled throng. Supplying better lines than Tom Servo, Crow, and friends from Mystery Science Theater 3000 is nothing new for our little group when the first Superman movie made its initial round of the theatres, the scene was the crashlanding of young Kal-El's ship on the Kent farm in Smallville; the young Kryptonian climbs out from his ship, naked, and holds his arms out to the Kents. A voice pipes up from behind me: "Hey, I didn't know Superman was Jewish!" And the entire audience dissolved into laughter. We didn't stop laughing for a good ten minutes. That's just one reason why I'm sure the people behind MST3K were fans.

Concerning Dave Kyle's article about the Hydra Club, years after Judith Merril moved to Toronto, she formed a Canadian Hydra Club here, with many of the local authors as members. Such a club was for authors only, and as fans heard more about this gathering, the more the word got out that fans were not welcomed, the less word about the group was circulated. When Judith died, I don't know what happened to the club; her only public visibility here was as the 'Undoctor' on the local educational television channel, talking about SF after episodes of Doctor Who.

Roy Lavender's letter of comment, about Southern Black Baptists in the same hotel as the 1977 Worldcon, reminded me of our experiences in New Orleans for the 1988 Worldcon. In our hotel, as Worldcon was checking in, a Southern Black Baptist convention was considering, and then postponing checking out. As we sat in the lobby, we were quickly surrounded by these enormous black women in their best clothes, Sunday hats and purses, as friendly as you like, enchanted with the idea that we liked SF, and that we were Canadian. There was a little culture shock there, too, but the phrase "When in Rome..." has served us well over the years.

Noreen Shaw's letter, about once seeing the creators of Superman signing autographs in the lobby of Cleveland theater, made me check my facts about Joe Shuster. He was born in Toronto in 1914, but moved with his family to Cleveland in 1923. His cousin Frank Shuster is a famous comedian here, and with his late partner Johnny Wayne, performed as Wayne and Shuster many times on the Ed Sullivan Show. Frank Shuster now works as a programming consultant to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which gave Wayne and Shuster their Canadian fame for close to 40 years. I had the fortune to meet Frank Shuster some years ago on a tour of the CBC building downtown. Joe Shuster's Metropolis was originally modeled on Toronto, and the Daily Planet was actually the Daily Star, now the Toronto Star.
illo by William Rotsler and Alexis 
Tom Feller, Nashville, Tennessee
In the Opening Comments, your remarks about the 'mini-convention' in the Qantas lounge before your flight to Australia reminds me of Winnipeg, where I think the fans filled up most of the departing flights.

Regarding Nicki's article and film rooms at cons, I would prefer that they actually showed films, not videos, and preferably ones that are not available on video. All the fans who are interested in videos already have VCRs after all. However, when I discuss this with Anita, she takes the position that the cons need a video room so that fans who can't afford hotel rooms can find somewhere to sleep.

By the way, I just read Mike Resnick's predictions for the future in the latest Stet. I hope that he's right in predicting that you will still be publishing well into the 21st Century.

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Timothy C. Marion, New York, New York
I don't think it would be unmanly of me to admit to certain diminutive sized internal organs ... such as my bladder, so I can certainly empathize with Eve Ackerman preferring the 'smaller flush' toilets in Australia. But when reporting on this very important matter, she forgot to mention one of the most pertinent facts regarding flushing Down Under -- does the water spiral down the toilet in the other direction and why? (My answer, which I guess is obvious, is that the water is really flushing in the same direction, just that when a northern hemisphere person is in the southern hemisphere, they are looking at it from the opposite direction.)

I found the late Joe Mayhew's article {{"My Own Personal First Fandom" }} to be fascinating. One line quoted ironically out of context: "I suspect that when I finally cross the River Styx, Charon will ask me, 'Say, how's Jack doing?'" One regrets that Joe isn't around to write about his personal second fandom.

The fan historical anecdotes by Dave Kyle and Harry Warner, to me, were of the utmost interest. The mention of Fred Pohl inspires my anecdote of meeting him -- an unremarkable story, really, except that it shows what a nice guy he was, as an elderly gentleman, to speak to such a young squirt like myself. I was hardly more than a kid, just barely grown, having just moved to New York City (from Virginia) and making my way on my own for the first time in my life. I was attending a convention, and as soon as I walked into the con suite, Fred Pohl saw me, a skinny, young, long-haired kid, and greeted me with, "Oh, another First Fandomite!" I'm ashamed to say that I was so embarrassed by his attention that I didn't even have a rejoinder handy, and merely quietly slunk away.

Fabulous, fabulous letters. Good that you led off with Milt Stevens, as he was very funny, almost as though he was writing in a Harry Warner type style, but managed to out-do Harry's humor! Ted White managed to pithily defend himself without sounding overly acrimonious. And Noreen Shaw's first paragraph, about L. Sprague de Camp, was extremely amusing.
illo by William Rotsler and Alexis 
Harry Andruschak, Torrance, California
I read and enjoyed your NASFiC report. I have Drifted Away From It All (DAFIA) and had no idea that there was a NASFiC in LA until I read about it in the LA Times newspaper calendar. And by then I had already volunteered to work all that weekend at the Post Office to pay for my vacations. I had hoped to see the 1999 solar eclipse but could not get the time off from the Post Office to cover that event.

And then I read Ron Bennett's article {{"The Greatest Show On ...." }} and had to chuckle to myself. Every guide to the 1999 solar eclipse pointed out that the chance to view the eclipse in Cornwall was less then 5%. As the path of totality swept through Europe, your chances for clear skies improved, and were at their best in Turkey and the Black Sea. Which is where most of the USA eclipse tours headed for, with excellent results.

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Terry Jeeves, Scarborough, United Kingdom
John Foyster mentioned in his article the RAAF chap who got out of service by standing for Parliament. That was a regular trick in the U.K. in the days when 'buying out' cost several hundred quid -- but standing as an MP cost only 150, a much cheaper option.

Also, I was tickled by Ron Bennett's account of the eclipse. Here in Scarborough it was sunny but with thin clouds. My photos were a bust.

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Jerry Kaufman, Seattle, Washington
I enjoyed John Berry's article about Walt Willis {{"I Remember Him -- A Tribute to Walt Willis" }}, especially his take on Walt's golfing abilities. It rather humanizes Walt that he was not perfect at everything he did. Too much of what we write or say about Willis puts him very high on a pedestal, even the stuff intended to show how warm, approachable and friendly he was. (I've certainly idolized his writing; Amy Thomson still tells people how I handed her the Willis issue of Warhoon as though I were giving her the Word of Ghu.)

I also liked Ron Bennett taking the great British Eclipse down a few pegs. His report perfectly showcases how the media (newspapers, radio and television) talk up an event far past reasonable importance or interest, often affecting the outcome. Possibly if they hadn't published such dire predictions about the terrible crowds that would clog Cornish streets, a larger turnout would have come and made the locals a decent amount of money. But then we might not have this article to read. (By the way, Seattle fan Jane Hawkins made it to Cornwall or fairly near for the eclipse, but I don't suppose Ron would have recognized her if he's run into her. Still, it makes for a nice bit of what if to wonder what they'd have made of each other.)

Julia Morgan-Scott's cover and article heading for Nicki's movie article are pretty impressive. The detailing on the cover in particular is quite fine, though I can't make out what those things are, apparently being sucked into a wormhole -- kangaroos undergoing some distortion from gravitational effects?
illo by William Rotsler and Alexis 
Tracy Benton, Madison, Wisconsin
I enjoyed #25 quite a bit, but it did have an air of sadness -- any timebinding zine would, considering fandom's great losses in 1999. It's really quite hard to grasp the fact that Walt Willis is gone. To me he's always been a mythic figure, a legend someone dreamed up to inspire neofans. I was introduced to him once, years ago, and couldn't shake the feeling that perhaps this was just a Willis avatar, representing a corporeal existence for the supernatural being -- that this *person* wasn't really him. Those who really got to know him feel a deep personal loss, I do not doubt; but to me he's still out there somewhere, in the ether. I got a loc from him once; it'll stay tucked away in a treasure-box somewhere as a memento of The Trufan. Thanks for running the remembrances of him. I particularly enjoyed John Berry's article -- what better evidence of Walt's legend could there be than as someone who picked up a Gestetner for a friend?

I enjoyed Ron Bennett's article about the eclipse, too; it ends with one of the best anti-climaxes I've run across in a fan article. It reminded me a bit of the Douglas Adams book, Last Chance to See, in which he ends up spending rather more pages describing the trips to see the rare animals than on the animals themselves. I think about half of fannish trip reports are actually just travel horror stories -- if the travel wasn't horrendous, the author talks about the destination, but if the travel was bad, it outshines the destination for essay potential!

The cover, incidentally, was quite an amazing piece of scratchboard work! I really liked the rendering of the "Kaptain" on the back, mustachios and all.

illo by Alexis Gilliland
Gary Deindorfer, Trenton, New Jersey
Your covers continue to be a stand-out feature of your zine, but the cover to #25 is really spectacular -- so dynamic, and bursting with energy, not to mention being full of felicitous detail. I don't know much about the graphics of art, but I believe Julia Morgan-Scott's cover is done in what is called the 'scratchboard' technique, like that wonderful cover she did a few issues back of the armadilloes, etc. She is a wonderful artist.

It is clear that the late Joe Mayhew was as talented a writer as an author. This is really quite a little episode of otherwise forgotten fan history. And, yes, I remember "St. Neo" Harriet Kolchak, in whose house in Philadelphia I experienced my first fannish party, being down there for the 1961 Philcon where I met for the first time Theodore Sturgeon, L. Sprague de Camp, and James Blish.

It was interesting to read of John Berry's meeting with the immortal Walt Willis. I don't think I'd ever read that tale before. It is clear that John fit right into Irish Fandom, although he says he is an Englishman, something I never realized before. This is a magnificent reminiscence of Willis, long may he reign in Valhalla.

Joyce Scrivner's article is very helpful to those of us who want to know more about Bob Shaw. Of the four or five Major Fans -- Shaw, Willis, Burbee, Tucker, Bloch -- he was the least of a known factor to me. But it is clear that he was a congenial, witty agent of life.

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Fred Smith, Glasgow, Scotland
Many thanks for Mimosa 25. May I add my voice to the many clamouring for its continuance -- after all it seems like only yesterday that I discovered you. (Actually it was at Intersection that I first clapped eyes on Mimosa -- Mighod, five years ago!)

The tributes to Walt Willis were needed, particularly John Berry's, of course, since he knew him so well. In `55 or possibly `56, my wife and I visited Oblique House on our way to our holiday in Dublin. We took an overnight sailing from Glasgow to Belfast arriving at about 6.30 a.m. and were thoroughly taken aback to find Walt and Chuck Harris (who was staying with the Willises) waiting at the quay to escort us to the house in the trusty Morris Minor. Because I had warned Walt that we were dropping in en route he arose from a warm bed to meet us at the boat. That's the kind of person he was. The Shaws and John Berry turned up later and we ended up spending about ten hours there. I even played ghoodminton with Bob, Chuck, and Berry, which nearly caused more demolition of the room, what with the famous Berry leap and Chuck falling down all the time. (His stone deafness affected his balance). We were also supposed to meet James White that evening but unfortunately had to catch our train to Dublin and so it wasn't until the `70s when he was guest of honour at a Glasgow convention that I finally managed to catch up with him. James was one of nature's gentlemen in addition to being a fine writer and an extremely funny man. Strangely nobody seems to have remembered just how funny he could be.

Apart from that brief visit to that particular Glasgow con (mainly to see James) I had no contact with fandom after the early `60s and, alas, never saw any of the Wheels of IF again. That's why it's rather intriguing to see Charles Williams' portraits of Bob and Walt for Joyce Scrivner's "Remembrance." His 'young' versions are more or less how I remember them except that Walt looked a bit more like Fritz Leiber. The 'older' versions I wouldn't know, never having met them as elderly gentlemen.

Walt's Chicon piece {{ "The Harp at Chicon" }} reminded me that I consider "The Harp Stateside" to be the finest thing that even he wrote and one of the finest sustained pieces of fan writing that there has ever been. I'm glad I managed to tell him as much before he had his stroke.

I also enjoyed the rest of this issue, especially Harry Warner who is one of the most consistent and interesting people in fandom. Ron Bennett is dead accurate on the eclipse which turned out to be a non-event. I was in Bournemouth (on the south coast) at the time expecting a partial, like maybe nine-tenths, eclipse. It had clouded over, of course, so all that happened was that it became gloomy or, rather, more gloomy.

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Catherine Mintz, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Despite all the wonderful articles, I confess my absolute favorite was a reprint, "The Harp at Chicon." Willis is like one of those Chinese artists who take up a brush, make two or three strokes on a piece of paper and suddenly have a rabbit, complete with a bit of grass in its mouth and ready to go on the wall.

In the Letters Column, there are interesting parallels between Harry Warner and Robert Lichtman's comments on racing and freeway crossings. Personally, I would rather watch pod racing, although the most recent version of that in Star Wars I was a marvel of special effects that highlighted the debate over whether the people behind me really had bought enough popcorn.

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Seán Russell Friend, Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom
I think the part I most relished in issue 25 is the Letters Column, which is the bit of a fanzine I nearly always turn to first. Although Mimosa's is a tad more serious than, say, Twink's, it was especially chuckle-making (and heartwarming) to read Roger Waddington's epistle.

It's good to find someone who writes plain English instead of fanspeak, for a start, but he seems to echo much of my own history as an SF reader, and also shares my love of 'Social Archaeology'. It's all about the art of telling a story -- something highly prized in Ireland, and something that used to be prized in literature. Perhaps more to the point, it's about telling an individual story, i.e., a tale whose style could only belong to that particular storyteller. There are not many writers in SF today who I regard as having a distinctive style, which is why I still largely read the old stuff like John Wyndham! And to think that when "The Chrysalids" was released by Penguin in paperback, the publishers were too snotty to admit that it was science fiction.

It was about that time Quatermass and the Pit got its first airing on television so you could say I was scared into science fiction. I suppose I spent my 'golden years' in Doctor Who fandom, but I fortunately grew out of it and started to skirt proper SF fandom in the mid-eighties. I was so thrilled when I received my first issue of Matrix -- and have been indebted to Maureen Kincaid Speller ever since! So you can quite understand how wonderful it is for me to see the photos in the "South by Southwest" article! Everyone looks so friendly, not scary at all! For the first time in many years, I thought to myself: "I wish I'd been there."

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We Also Heard From:
Amanda Baker, Pamela Boal, David Bratman, Ken Bulmer, Ken Cheslin, David Combs, Chester Cuthbert, John Dallman, Rich Dengrove, Ahrvid Engholm, Joe Fillinger, George Flynn, Robert Kennedy, Ken Lake, Willy Legate, Rodney Leighton, Fred Liddle, Sam Long, Joseph Major, Robert Peterson, Dave Rowe, Dale Speirs, Ian Stockdale, David Thayer, Dorothy Tompkins, Roger Waddington, Michael Waite, Harry Warner, Jr., Taral Wayne, Toni Weisskopf, Henry Welch, Charlie Williams, and David B. Williams. Thanks to one and all!
illo by William Rotsler

Title illustration by Sheryl Birkhead
Other illustrations by Teddy Harvia, William Rotsler, Alexis Gilliland, and Gilliland & Rotsler

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