Written by Fred Patten, and published on the LASFS Rex Rotary, September 30, 1965. Intended for Apa L, Fiftieth Distribution, LASFS Meeting no. 1468, September 30, 1965. Address: 1825 Greenfield Avenue, Los Angeles, California, 90025. Phone: GRanite 3-6321.
|Cleveland in 1966!||Los Angeles in 1968!||Salamander Press #127.|
Al opened the front door to leave for work this morning, and in fell an air-mail, special-delivery package with the missing two pages of this week's maLAise. (The first two pages had come Tuesday.) With them was a note from Ted White, which in part said,
"Tom Gilbert has resigned as Agent for me, and I am for the nonce presuming upon you by enclosing five envelopes return addressed to me, and a check for $5.00. I am leery of putting stamps on an envelope when I can't be sure of the size of any given mlg, but otherwise they're ready to be mailed, and the check should more than cover the cost of 1st Class pstg on the enclosed five envelopes -- unless we start having Huge mlgs again."
My first reaction on reading this is, What Has Happened To Tom Gilbert? He's already stopped coming to the Meetings to get a Dist'n -- and you all know what a Completist he is on those -- and now he's resigned the last of his Agenting posts. (I'm presuming he's also resigned as Agent for Dave Van Arnam, since Dave also sent me his stuff this week.) It sorta looks as thought Tom has completely gone gafia! I sure hope not; even when he's not putting eight pages with justified right-hand margins through Apa L, he's a valuable and enjoyable member of the club. Tom Gilbert, come back!
As to the $5 for postage; well, okay, this time. The way I've been handling my end of Agenting is to pick up copies of the Dist'n for Shaw, White, Lupoff, or whoever I'm collecting for that week, bring them home and stuff them in the pre-addressed and stamped envelopes, then drop 'em in the mailbox in front of the Library when I go to work next morning. (As this is in the heart of the Civic Center downtown, there's fast mail pickup and handling, which is why Dave Van Arnam got his copy so fast.) This is presupposing that I don't have to carry a bunch of loose stamps around with me, and hunt up a mail scale to find out how much the Dist'n's gonna cost in postage this week; all of which is more work than I care to get involved in. (Besides which, there's all those rates to figure out; Dave wants his Dist'n air-mailed so he'll get it immediately, while Lupoff would rather save money & get his at Educational Matter rates, and Ted wants his at 1st Class...) As it is, I'll probably just slap 50¢ in postage on each of Ted's five envelopes and let it go at that. I can see how Ted wouldn't want to waste money on too much postage for a small Dist'n, but 50¢ seems to be a good minimum -- at least, all the fans I'm Agenting for who stamp their own envelopes at 1st Class rates -- Porter & Shaw -- put 50¢ on, so I presume they find this satisfactory. [N.B. I start my new job at the USC Library tomorrow, and I don't have the slightest idea what the postal facilities are like there. However, I'd imagine that most of you will probably be getting your Dist'ns at least a day later than they have been arriving.]
-- BEING COMMENTS ON LAST WEEK'S DISTRIBUTION
The new school season is now under way, and it looks as though Apa L is back up to its old pre-Summer Vacation page level. Jay Freeman is back (hooray!), and John Hartmann is once again helping us collate the Dist'n. In fact, between the number of contributors in the Dist'n last week, and the number of attendees contributing work in collating the Dist'n, running off the ToC, etc. (Fitch, Hartmann, Alderson, Baker, etc.), we had less than five copies left to give to the other LASFS attendees. With a growing attendance, we are not going to be able to recruit any new out-of-town members to "replace" Len Bailes, as has been suggested. I seem to recall saying "no more out-of-town members" some time, in fact, and Milt Stevens went ahead and brought in Lon Atkins & Al Scott anyway. Well, no more. As for Barry Gold, he can go on to his heart's content talking his mundane friends who know nothing about the club and care even less, into writing a page or so on anything at all so he can publish it and get a Dist'n for them. He ain't gonna get one, gang. Go ahead and revive Apa C (or "G"), Barry; we can't think much less of you than we do now.
Dave Van Arnam -- Yes, Dune is to my mind the front-runner for the Best Novel "Hugo" so far this year. (My choice previous to its appearance was Three Against the Witch World.) Not only are all the extra goodies in the hardback novel worth while, it was an extra treat to discover the book is $2.00 less than the announced price -- $5.95 as opposed to $7.95. It's a good thing that the ANALOG serial didn't win the "Hugo" a couple of years ago, since it's now obvious that that was only a part of the larger story, and it would've presented Fandom with a Moral Dilemma about what to do about Dune as a whole this year. ## Now that such people as Jay Freeman and Bĵo and Luise are apparently getting active once again, maybe Dave Hulan and Rich Mann will reconsider dropping out after our First Anniversary. (Is everybody planning Something Special for our 53rd Dist'n?) ## The last I heard, it's a four-way fight for the '67 WorldCon -- Syracuse, New York, Baltimore, and Boston -- with Philadelphia considering joining the race. How's rumors in NY Fandom on the subject?
Ted White -- Henry Miller used to -- and may still, for all I know -- come up to the UCLA Library School every now & then, to visit Dean Lawrence Clark Powell, who's a friend of his. I think he came by twice while I was a student there, though on both occasions it was while I was out of class; I heard the other students talking about it afterwards. From what they said, the conversation centered almost entirely around gourmet-style food and cooking. ## Thanks for the story on the THUNDER AGENTS comic book; it's always nice to look behind the scenes on things like these. It seems to be harking back to the old ALL-STAR anthology formula, something the comic lovers have been crying for for years. I hope it succeeds. Incidentally, do you know anything about these Superman bubble-gum cards that Ivie is supposed to be turning out? They aren't on sale here in Los Angeles, and I'd be interested in seeing what they look like -- possibly in getting a set, if it's possible for fans to order them through Ivie. Do you know anything about it? ## Considering all the work and money you and Dave do put into your weekly contributions, I'll try to see in the future that you do get copies of the Dist'n even if you do miss for a week. It's a slight perversion of the LASFS-attendees-only policy that I still think should be our goal, but I'll agree that you & Dave do deserve exceptions in your favor. As long as we don't have more contributors than copies, then.
Luise Petti -- It's great to have you with us, after all this while. I hope you and Bĵo will both be hitting a cycle of activity again now. (Actually, I hope you'll be with us all the time, but since I know this isn't likely, I'll settle for hoping for frequent cycles of activity every time you start dropping off periodically.) I think you may become a large source of linos for our next BEST FROM APA L anthology, with such lines as "I have learned many things ... like how to change clothes behind a bookcase", and "An interesting thing happened to me while dancing in the closet". ## As soon as Bĵo gets some more colored ditto masters, let's see what you can do in the way of multicolor artwork.
Steel Magic, by Andre Norton, World, 1965, 155 p., #3.50.
Illustrated by Robin Jacques.
Andre Norton is well-known as an author in many fields of juvenile fiction -- historical novels, Westerns, modern spy adventures, and of course teen-age to adult science fiction. Steel Magic is her first outright venture into the realm of children's fantasy (discounting Huon of the Horn, which was her modernization of an already-established tale), and is quite welcome to anyone's collection of such, fitting into any library neatly alongside C. S. Lewis' Narnian Chronicles, Edward Eager's books, E. Nesbit, and their like. This is for the next age group below her science fiction works -- the dust jacket says 10 to 14 -- so don't expect anything with the scope of The Lord of the Rings. However, if you like children's fantasy at all, you'll have to get this one.
The plot is that of the magical quest. The three Lowry children, Eric, Greg, and Sara, vacationing on their Uncle's estate in upstate New York, discover a sort of dimensional doorway that takes them into Avalon, Awanan, Atlantis - the world of Faerie, whatever men may name it. Faerie is here presented as an invisible world adjacent to our, connected by threads growing increasingly tenuous, but not yet nonexistent. Surrounding Avalon is the Outer Darkness, chaos, the realm of the primaeval evil and nothingness that seeks to engulf civilization everywhere. "It was laid upon Avalon at the Dawn of All that this land was to stand as a wall between the dark and your own mortal world", Huon explains to the Lowrys; "When we drive back the dark and hold it firmly in check, then peace reigns in your world. But let the dark surge forward here, winning victories, then in turn you know troubles, wars, evil." The dark has been creeping steadily forward in Avalon over the past years, until it is now ready to begin its final drive that may lead to the destruction of both our worlds. This is due to the fact that the enemy has managed by its wiles and spells to steal three of the greatest weapons of Avalon -- the Horn of Huon, the Green Dragon, Warden of the West; Excalibur, the sword of Arthur Pendragon, the Red Dragon, Warden of the East; and the ring of Merlin Ambrosius, wizard and strengthener of all. The coming of the Lowrys, real humans who can handle cold iron in Avalon, is taken as a sign and a sending, and Merlin explains that while he can forcibly send them back to their own world, he believes that they are meant to go on a quest to recover the three missing weapons, at which time they will automatically return. Needless to say, they accept the quest, and this is the story.
Steel Magic is very well written, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Nevertheless, it has certain flaws that I hope Miss Norton will avoid if she should write any further children's fantasies. My basic complaint is that everything is too hurried, and we never get more than a glimpse of Avalon. The children stumble into Avalon, meet Huon who explains the setting to them, are sent on their individual quests by Merlin almost before they've caught their breaths, and are returned home as soon as they are successful. The three quests are very competently handling, switching from one character to another in proper cliff-hanger tradition, but with three separate paths to follow in an all too short space, they all seem to be too compressed -- a day's interlude, as it were, as opposed to the "real experiences" of Bilbo Baggins, or the Pevensie children in the Narnian Chronicles, who really lived their adventures rather than being dragged bewilderedly through them. 155 pages (the story doesn't start until page 13), with wide margins and a large number of half-and full-page illustrations (the story doesn't start until page 13), with wide margins and a large number of half- and full-page illustrations (no matter how beautiful), just aren't enough room in which to develop the plot properly. Also, there is too much of a feeling that the children are mere puppets -- although Miss Norton has done a better job than usual in developing her characterization. (Well, she's got three major protagonists to contrast; shy Sara, matter-of-fact Greg, and impetuous Eric.) Both Huon and Merlin assure them that they were "meant" to come to Avalon; i.e., some outside force is directing their destinies. This theme is continued throughout their adventures; "Again Greg found words which were strange to him" (p. 105), implying that some unseen guardian is guiding his footsteps, putting the right words in his mouth, and generally protecting him. Thus, everything seems too easy for the children, and you never feel that they're really in any dangerous situation.
But these are the differences between a very good book and a superb book or series, such as The Hobbit or Kipling's Jungle Books. Steel Magic is still a very good book, and well worth the price (don't wait for an Ace edition; it might not have Jacques' excellent illustrations). And if there is a sequel -- an opening is left for a return to Avalon -- let's hope that it won't be quite so rushed, and so guided.