I spent a pleasant 15 minutes or so this weekend chatting with Harry Harrison, and learning what he hopes to do with AMAZING and FANTASTIC. Basically, he hopes to turn them into living prozines again, of course, but he mentioned a few basic policy steps that he hopes to put into practice as soon as he can.
Do away with the reprints and feature original stories again. His first issues of the two zines already have "new" plastered all over the cover for each new item in them. For about the next 6 issues, the contents will be half reprint and half new; then he hopes to be free to publish all new material. He's already got some new stuff lined up from Ross Rocklynne (who was also in the conversation.)
No serials. I gather he mostly wants short novels, and "complete in this issue" novels. He said that he's specifically looking for the sort of novel that can be cut down by leaving a section out, and used for an example his own Bill, the Galactic Hero, which was written in three major sections and published in GALAXY as a "complete novel" leaving out the middle section, which wasn't missed.
No attempt will be made to turn FANTASTIC into another UNKNOWN. Instead, it'll concentrate on the more action-packed, space-opera type of s-f. I presume, then, that AMAZING will carry the more serious, sociological, "idea" stories. Fantasy just doesn't sell, he pointed out, except for some of the better sword-&-sorcery stuff. If he does get any of that, it'll go into FANTASTIC -- he mentioned trying to get Fritz to write more Gray Mouser stories -- but on the whole, the zine won't emphasize fantasy. He didn't say he'd refuse to buy any UNKNOWN-type material, but he emphasized that if he did, you'd never be able to tell it from the cover. Both zines will be packaged and marketed as s-f magazines. (I think he mentioned the Retief stories as an example of the sort of s-f he hopes to get for FANTASTIC.)
Page count and publication schedule didn't come up during the conversation. Art wasn't discussed much, though he apparently does plan to use it. He said he'll be looking for new artists, but not particularly from Fandom; he complained that most fan artists just don't turn out art that looks good in the prozines, citing ATom as an example. (I imagine the poor quality of the printing in the two zines would have a strong effect on any art printed in it.) However, he won't insist that artists have to live in New York City before he'll deal with them; if he likes their work, he's willing to take art from artists out here.
About the only good thing that any of us had to say about AMAZING and FANTASTIC as they've been since Ziff-Davis dropped them, was that a couple of venerable titles had been kept alive. Now they're ready to quit marking time and become something worthwhile again.
A pox on Ed Baker for not coming through with the cover he'd faithfully promised. Fortunately, this very good (used) Don Simpson stencil was on hand.
Dave Hulan -- To me, square dancing was just the least onerous of the required gym courses in school, up through college. I do like it better than any other form of dancing, but I don't dance at all, usually. ## Your rehabilitation of Col. Fairfax is very good. I don't really see how you can consider him as any kind of a villain, compared to the other characters in the operetta. The "peculiar sense of humor" you cite is evident from his first lines, in which he makes light of the fact that he's due to be beheaded in an hour. He probably is somewhat callous, in the manner of a soldier who idolizes the many qualities of personal bravery, never flinching in the face of danger, being a lion with the ladies, etc. As such, he would certainly have little sympathy (and probably a fair bit of contempt) for Jack Point, especially if he's played in the whining manner in which Sheldon played him. But even if Point were played in a more sensitive manner, Fairfax would tend to look down on him as not being a real man -- and certainly not a gentleman, of course. Fairfax is a bit shallow in his own right, it seems to me, but certainly not a villain. He's more intellectual than anybody else in the operetta, I'll grant you, but -- at least as he was played in this production -- not what I'd really call an intellectual, just because he looks on the bright side of things and shows a sense of humor (which nobody else, including Point, does). ## On the whole, because of the natures of the other characters, I agree with you that "Yeomen" should really be played as a comedy in depth, and not as a tragedy. On the other hand, it would be interested to see it performed as a genuine tragedy, rather than just as the most serious of the G&S comic operettas. I think that, due to the G&S reputation, most companies tend to play "Yeomen" as basically a comedy, whether or not Point dies at the end -- at the best, a more sympathetic comedy than usual. I don't know that it's ever been played as a real tragedy.
Ken Rudolph -- I tend to feel that anybody who's around the Hill during the time the LASFS Meeting is going on is liable to owing dues. (With the exception of "trapped" Hill residents.) Due to the architectural layout of the Hill, it's not really possible to isolate the Meeting room from the rest of the house -- particularly from the front hall and the TV room, as we all know from the noise we get from these areas. People are constantly wandering from "safe areas" to "collectable areas", and back again. Personally, I think the whole concept of the "safe area" is a semantic quibble just to get out of paying dues. You're right in that we didn't have this "Shadow LASFS Meeting" at Silverlake, even though there were often groups who spent most of their time talking together out on the porch or in the back room. At Mathom House, and at the Fan Hillton, there were fans who were usually more interested in conversation in the kitchen than in attending the formal part of the Meeting. But all these people paid dues. They felt that they had come to the LASFS Meeting, whether it was to sit through the Committee Reports in the front room, or to socialize in the back room -- and to join everybody else after the formal part of the Meeting was adjourned. If they hadn't wanted to come to the LASFS Meeting, they wouldn't have come at all! I have little sympathy with the people who protest that they only came to play cards and talk to friends,and not to "attend the Meeting", so they shouldn't have to pay because they "aren't really there". "The LASFS Meeting" is more than just what goes on in on room between the time the gavel is banged to formally open the evening, and banged again to formally close it. ## There's a related problem at hand. I've heard at least one member complain of coming to the club, spending some time chatting in the front room before the formal Meeting started, sitting down in a chair then that had been vacant all this time, then being told by a Hill resident entering late, "Will you please move? You're sitting in my chair!" I'm of the opinion that as long as we're paying rent for our Meeting space, rather than being on the Hill as guests, the chairs in the "public" part of the house should be first come, first served, with no reservations -- and certainly no right on the part of the Hill residents to bump a member of guest from one.