Four New Journey Planets Ascend to Orbit

By James Bacon. Journey Planet has just published four issues in quick succession. Covering a wide variety of subjects and with co-editors James Bacon and Chris Garcia the consistent constant, there have literally been 3 fanzines a day made available this week.

Journey Planet issue 41 presented Tony Roche’s legendary fanzine Heroes Unlimited #8, edited with Tony, Pádraig Ó Méalóid and Merlin Roche. Issue 42 – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations looks at Diversity within Star Trek fandom with co-editor and Taff Candidate Sarah Gulde.  Issue 43 was about Silicon Valley co-edited with Chuck Serface and Issue 44, a Half Pint of Flann, a primer of Flann O’Brien was co-edited by Michael Carroll and Pádraig Ó Méalóid. 

Suddenly four issues of Journey Planet have converged for publication, but they did not come about or start anywhere near the same time. 

Journey Planet issue 41 presented Tony Roche’s legendary fanzine Heroes Unlimited #8, the Journey Planet edition repackaged and added considerably to the edition published in print in September. Bonus additional content, driven by those who had read and enjoyed the hard copy with letters of comment, and also a reflection on the loss of Stan Lee, amongst other new additions were added in. It is hard to know the genesis of this issue, and it would not be unfair to say, possibly 49 years ago when issue 7 of Heroes Unlimited was published, there was an expectation that issue 8 would appear, but in modern times, it was in February 2017, that Pádraig suggested that the time was now ripe for Heroes Unlimited #8 to Tony and so, it began and twenty-two months later, an issue arrived. It was a glorious experience, and involved a visit to Northampton, and meeting fanzine reader Alan Moore. 

I had expected that we might get the Silicon Valley issue done some time before Worldcon 76. That would have made sense, I thought, but all three editors had commitments to Worldcon 76, albeit my own were tangential and all related to Dublin 2019, Chris was an MC for the Masquerade and Chuck…. Well Chuck had a really quite serious and responsible job at Worldcon 76, as Division Head for member services. I thought it would be so nice to share my favourite Bay Area places with fans before they arrive, and had written notes as early as June. It was well after Worldcon that this issue really took shape, although work had already been started, and I was on my way to San Jose in November when I finished my own long contribution and we saw the issue come together. 

I got chatting to Sarah Gulde after Worldcon, definitely in September and thought a Star Trek issue would be a nice idea, Sarah then steered this in a direction that really pleased both myself and Chris and suddenly we also had the title ‘Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations’ and some excellent contributions coming in. Michael Carroll expressed some interest when he was engaged about our Instant Fanzine section and provided an amazing image for the and then Front Cover. 

Interestingly, I had written another article on “The High Ground.” Despite bashing out 2,000 words on this episode that was banned by the BBC in the UK and RTE in Ireland, and researching it with local fans, both Sarah and Chris felt the article did not fit in with the overall theme of the issue. This is why co-editors are important, I did not need to argue, or discuss it, if they both felt that way, they are probably right, and it can be hard to objectively reflect immediately when one is so close to an item, so you trust your co-editors. This will actually work out well. We have heard by a back channel that someone connected with “The High Ground” was pleased with the issue, which is terribly exciting, and so, maybe it would be better to ask them first about for the article, while another co-editor who contributed shared their passion for Trek, so at some future stage, we may have a better article in another Trek issue, so Chris and Sarah was very right. 

One of the real joys about Journey Planet is that myself and Chris, are very open to ideas and concepts, and areas of discussion. We cannot always find the energy and enthusiasm we need, to bring an issue to fruition, which is why having co-editors is so vital. The complexity of the workload, and reach of editors and skills they bring vary per issue, is flexible, has to be. Sometimes ideas do not excite, or fail to capture the imagination significantly, but can be returned to, other times, work on an issue goes into hiatus, for any of many reasons. Right now, we have a variety of potential issues in a wide variance of statuses, and know that we can come back to them when matters are right. Everyone involved works very hard and it is a pleasure to see what other voices and opinions can bring to the zine, and this perhaps has something to do with why the fanzines are such fun. 

Flexibility is everything though, for instance in our Flann issue, Michael Carroll was lead on layout. That is because this issue had a stumbling block. I had forgotten to tell everyone how much of this issue I had worked on in my head. Indeed, I produced the idea of the issue, more broadly, on Friday the 21st of December. That would be nine days ago. 

The Christmas period is always a good time for me to get writing done, and I find that not only work, but Dublin 2019 matters slow sufficiently, that various things that require thinking time can occur, an annual reflection and check-in on how things are with Dublin 2019, and writing for fanzines is the pastime things that I can get to, as well as sending out post, looking for books, asking for input or instant fanzine contributions and enjoy reading submissions so on. It can be really very productive. 

Of course, I should have said to Chris, at least, that a Flann Primer was in my head. You see, there is a lot of celebration occurring next year, At Swim Two Birds is 80 years published, Palimpsests: The fifth International Flann O’Brien Conference at University College Dublin on the 16–19 July and Dublin 2019 is occurring a month later. I would hope that we could garner some interest in the subject of Flann and his writings, and elicit some future contributions for a future far off issue, and so a ‘Primer’ to get people interested was the notion that had concocted in my brain.  

It was over breakfast in Cafe Journal in Monkstown, on the south side of Dublin with Tony and Pádraig, and while Tony is a fan, he is more of a Beckett man, if truth be told, that the Flann issue came up. 

Over a fabulous feast of Irish delicacies, surrounded by books, I voiced the idea of the issue, and so it came to be. Chris of course, was appalled. His own workload schedule was filled, and layout was beyond him, but I was not going to not see this fail and once more into the breach, Michael Carroll stepped up, and indeed now nine days later there is an issue done. Incredible. 

It was truly wonderful. While in Ireland I spent time reading and researching. Fortunately, my late father had a supply of decent books on the Railways in Ireland so I was able to reach for the Boocock. 

(Colin Boocock wrote the Locomotive Compendium Ireland, DMU Compendium, Irish railways 40 years of change and an Irish Railway Pictorial, amongst dozens of others). Johan Anglemark, Val Nolan and Jack Fennel turned up trumps and Pádraig who is a scholar in Flann, had many an item on file and Michael produced a first rate cover to wrap it all up.  

And so four issues are now up on the weebly and shortly I hope will be on Bill Burns efanzines.com and I will pivot my focus back to matters relating to Dublin 2019. 

I hope you all enjoy them. 

Journey Planet Presents: Heroes Unlimited 8

After 49 years, Heroes Unlimited #8 continues the fanzine tradition that started with Merry Marvel Fanzine in Dublin in 1967 by Editor-in-Chief Tony Roche. 

In September this year, Editor-in-Chief Anthony Roche, Co-Editors James Bacon, Chris Garcia, Pádraig Ó Méalóid and Merlin Roche, published in print copy Heroes Unlimited 8

HU8 sports a cover by Paul Neary, with cover logo by co-editor Merlin Roche and cover caption by Todd Klein. 

The fanzine features a massive interview with Alan Moore by Tony Roche, an article on “Women in Comics” by Sharae Deckard, and interviews with Maura McHugh; Karen Green; Dr. Melanie Gibson; Hannah Means-Shannon; Annie Parkhouse; Kate Charlesworth; Maggie Gray; Suzy Varty; Mary Talbot; Nora Goldberg-Fourrel de Frettes and Sarah McIntyre by Pádraig Ó Méalóid. 

The fanzine contains a comic, “Something in the Post” by David Hine, and illustrations and sketches and art from Ken Simpson, Will Eisner, Al Williamson and Henry Scarpelli.

There are articles on Irish authors of the fantastic, such as “A Master of Irish Fantasy: Lord Dunsany” by Patrick O’Donnell, and “Bob Shaw’s Science Fiction” by Eamonn Hughes, while Rob Hansen writes about early comics fanzines. 

The co-editors took time to write themselves, with Tony Roche reviewing the SCARP Comic Convention in 1968 and the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo in 2018. James Bacon took to writing about Troubled Souls by Garth Ennis set in Northern Ireland and science fiction writer and friend James White who also lived in Northern Ireland.  Pádraig Ó Méalóid writes about his beloved copy of Watchmen

Heroes Unlimited 8 also reprints the Letter of Comment that Alan Moore sent in following issue number 5, as well as a letter from Derek G. Skinn that not even Dez remembers; and a late letter from Peter C Phillips.

The fanzine was printed and published in September 2018, and presented to contributors, for comment.

Journey Planet is proud to present this, an updated version of Heroes Unlimited 8, as issue 41 of Journey Planet. We have included a new article about the passing of Stan Lee by Michael Carroll, words from Tony Roche capturing the connection he had with Stan Lee, letters of comments from Dr. Sharae Deckard, Harry McAvinchey, and Dave Hine, and a record of quite a wonderful and humbling day for the editorial team, with photographs of the paper copy being presented to Alan Moore. 

Edited by the same group of editors who decided that it would be demanded in PDF format and that they should take full advantage of the electronic form of presentation. They hope you enjoy JP:HU8. Themed, for your pleasure. 

Available as a free dowlnload here.

First Fandom Annual 2018

Jack Robins

The 2018 First Fandom Annual has just been published: Remembering Jack Robins (1919-2015), Edited by John L. Coker III and Jon D. Swartz.

This periodical showcases new articles and photographs, as well as a long interview with Jack Robins recalling the good old days, an article by Lottie about her family, and two of Jack’s SF-themed plays: “The Ivory Tower” and “The Trials and Tribulations of Publishing.”

Here are first-hand accounts of some early adventures of SF fans from the 1930s, including Donald A. Wollheim, John B. Michel, Leslie Perri, Richard Wilson, Fred Pohl, David A. Kyle, William S. Sykora, Cyril M. Kornbluth, Robert W. Lowndes, Isaac Asimov, and Damon Knight.

Also presented are a selection of Jack’s poetry and several of his historic SF photographs.

Also featured, a Jack Robins bibliography prepared by Christopher M. O’Brien.

  • 90 pages, limited edition (50 copies); Laser printed on good quality paper; B&W photos and interior illustrations; Gloss covers, 8½ x 11, saddle-stitched.

This will soon be out-of-print, so order your copy today by sending a check or money order for $30 (payable to John L. Coker III) to John at 4813 Lighthouse Road, Orlando, FL – 32808.

ANZAPA 50th Anniversary Celebration Photos

Jack Herman took these photos of the fans at the 50th anniversary of ANZAPA held in Melbourne on October 7:

Top photo: (Standing:) Helena Binns, taking her photo at the side; James ‘Jocko’ Allen; Terry Morris; Kam-Hung Soh; Mervyn Binns, Bruce Gillespie; Sally Yeoland; LynC; Robin Johnson; Irwin Hirsh; Alan Stewart; Gerald Smith; Perry Middlemiss; Jean Weber; Leigh Edmonds; Murray MacLachlan; Jack Herman; Gary Mason; Roman Orszanski. (Seated:) Stephen Campbell; Eric Lindsay; David Grigg.

Photo below: Justin Ackroyd; Marc Ortlieb; KRin Pender Gunn; Carey Handfield.

[Thanks to Bruce Gillespie for the story.]

Journey Planet’s Star Wars Issue

[May the Fourth is a date for celebrating Star Wars and James Bacon’s birthday, and connecting the two, is the release date for a special issue marking 10 years of Journey Planet.]

By James Bacon: May the Fourth be with you – we offer you Journey Planet:The Star Wars issue

With a stunning cover by Sarah Wilkinson, this issue of Journey Planet sets out to explore the Galaxy Far Far away. Edited by Chris Garcia, James Bacon and John Coxon, we’ve interviews with Tom Vietch, Timothy Zahn, Ruairí Coleman, Sean Williams and Will Sliney.

Andrea Swinsco and Jeannette Ng have very different views on The Last Jedi.

Craig Miller offers considerable insight to his times working with Star Wars, and also provides an obituary remembering Carrie Fisher.

We have  An Islamic Perspective of Star Wars by Irfan Rydhan and a consideration of contemporary cultural narratives in Imperfect Worlds by Charlotte Cleo Wolf, while Micheal Carroll shares his scrap-book clippings.

James Mason looks at visual concepts, David Ferguson looks at characters and Juan Sanmiguel looks at  Star Wars on the Radio and we have a Holiday Special survival guide by Helena Nash

Dr Anthony Roche reviews  Alan Moore’s Star Wars comics, James Shields sources input about Star Wars Lego, from Hoth to Millennium Falcons and Will Frank considers the Lucasflm Buy and Fanwork.

We also have articles on the female pilots who never made it on screen, and those who did, Irish Connections in Star Wars, The Five Greatest Star Wars Games of All Time and Hardware Wars the latter two by editor Chris Garcia.

This has been a tough issue for one of the editors, Chris Garcia noted: ‘I am writing this from a tiny nook in Santa Clara’s Kaiser hospital. Vanessa, my loving wife, is having a ten hour surgery upstairs. I am downstairs. I’ve had my coffee, some tater-tots, a couple of pieces of bacon, and an orange juice. I’m listening to podcasts, specifically Last Podcast on the Left about the late, great Art Bell. I am more scared at this moment than any other in my entire life.’

“Hope.” — Leia Organa

We hope you join us in celebrating Star Wars today, and even if you are not a fan, enjoying reading views and opinions and thoughts on this wide-ranging universe that so many love so much. And if that fails, we offer you in desperation, the raising of a pint as one of our editors celebrates their birthday today and this issue marks ten years of Journey Planet.

Cheers Nerf Herders!

The zine can be found here:

http://journeyplanet.weebly.com/journey-planet/a-fanzine-far-far-away-journey-planet-star-wars

Meet Team Journey Planet

By Chris Garcia: Team Journey Planet for 2017 were James Bacon, Michael Carroll, Vince Docherty, Chris Garcia, Jackie Kamlot, Mark Meenan, Helen Montgomery, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Chuck Serface, and Steven H Silver, Hugo nomination-worthy editors, one and all!

Journey Planet received a Hugo Nomination in the Best Fanzine category, and those of you who are observant will note that the editors are listed as Team Journey Planet. As we explore new ideas, working hard to bring new angles and voices to fanzines, we expand, and this is a neater listing that the ten names of folks who did the heavy lifting to bring Journey Planet to life in 2017.

The entire concept of Journey Planet is based around a rather strange idea – someone comes to us with an idea, or James or I will come up with a weird idea, and from there we put together an issue dedicated to a theme. We need to be excited, animated, and fascinated by the idea, it really needs to capture the imagination, and we work hard to reach out to fans to engage them. We have had hundreds of fans contribute to out ‘Instant Fanzine’ section, where they answer questions for us, and through this skulduggery, we hear new and fresh fan opinions, that otherwise might be missed.

James and I always need to feel passionate, egging each other on, motivating, and encouraging, and we then rely on other editors too get us past inevitable writing blocks and problems, and we go at it, sometimes we are at the cold face, writing ourselves or soliciting hard, and other times, observing over an overall strategy for the issue.

I do layout for the zine most of the time, and our editors who aren’t James and I are usually the ones who handle the copyediting. When we started JP, with Claire Brialey was the one keeping James and I from going off the rails, the idea was for a themed zine, and as time went by, we changed our MO to the point where our other editors are a key part of the process. Without them, the thing we call Journey Planet today wouldn’t exist. Plain as that.

2017 was a great year for us, starting with Padraig O’Mealoid and Michael Carroll coming on-board for No More Heroes: A History of Irish Comics Part 2. This is a great example of the importance of the editors who come to us. They bring us the approach to individuals we’d otherwise have no touch with. Without Padraig and Michael coming on-board, the issue would never have happened. There’s a good reason why we love working with those two exceptional Irishmen: they’re amazing, they bring with them incredible connections and talent. Just look at that cover from Mike! Amazing!

Speaking of people we love working with, Hugo winner Helen Montgomery comes to us for two issues about Disney! The first one was Disney on Rails, all about the trains of Disney, perhaps the most esoteric and fascinating issue we’ve ever attempted, saw Jackie Kamlot make her JP editing debut. The issue that looks at Disney more generally, which was actually the one that Helen came to us with back in 2015, and featured so many great folks I love, and an amazing cover from Hilary Pearlman-Bliss that makes me incredibly happy.

Between our Disney excursions, multiple-time Hugo nominee Steven H Silver joined us for the first time to edit an issue I unofficially named “Programatic” where we brought some incredible stuff together from some great people. It’s about convention programming, from a few different angles. It’s an incredibly fun issue for me to go back over!

Chuck Serface, the King of Men!, joined us in celebrating Bay Area legend, and WorldCon 76 gHost of Honor, Bob Wilkins. This was an issue that celebrated Creature Features, the late night television show that brought a lot of fans to science fiction and horror fandom, and a major influence on both Chuck and I. A lot of great fun, and a return from Hugo winner Mo Starkey on the cover.

We finished the year with an exceptional issue with Vincent Docherty and Mark Meenan about 40 Years of Glasgow Conventions. Awesome stuff! Another issue where I personally knew nothing, where without the folks who came on board, the issue just doesn’t happen.

So, indeed, know that Team Journey Planet for 2017 is James Bacon, Michael Carroll, Vince Docherty, Chris Garcia, Jackie Kamlot, Mark Meenan, Helen Montgomery, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Chuck Serface, and Steven H Silver!

Diversity again

By John Hertz: Where I live it’s the first day of spring. For Bruce Gillespie, the New Zealand for 2020 Worldcon bid, and like that, it’s fall. Diversity again. Easier said than done, but worthy of both.

I like to think science fiction has to do with diversity. John Campbell and Larry Niven, among others, have said our essential element is Minds as good as you but different. Easier said than done, but worthy of both.

The other day I saw a hundred folks had reported their Hugo nominations here (nice photo of Hugo trophies, thanks). Someone said “I am struck by how very * different * all our tastes are”. I didn’t happen to think so. The reports looked very similar to me. Another said “if [people are finding] mostly works by [X], it would indicate to me that either 1) the sources they are using … are extremely insular, or 2) they are – consciously or unconsciously – self-selecting for things written by [X].” Of course that’s neither complete nor conclusive. But it’s an important indicator.

It often seems “What’s incorrectly included?” shows up more easily than “What’s incorrectly omitted?” To see that something’s been left out you have to get the big picture. You have to be bigger than your immediate adventure. I once said that to Jon Singer, who is no dope; he said “How?”

Friends can help; in particular, diverse friends. If everyone I hang out with is just like me, who’ll point out what I’ve been missing? Of course it’s a strain. You find yourself thinking “How could you do such a thing?” This is a question better answered than brandished. If we only mean by it “Too strange, gotta go” we don’t learn anything.

One of the sandboxes I play in is Fanzineland. People have been pouring in new sand. It’s fascinating. Not so long ago fanzines were on paper – mostly; according to legend there’ve been slices of bologna, or worse – don’t ask me what I saw in Bruce Pelz’ refrigerator – but then came electronic media, and we had to think it out again.

All of us. Not just the folks upon whom new stuff poured, but the folks who poured in with it. Diversity can’t just be You have to accommodate me, but I don’t have to accommodate you.

Well then. Here are some fine fanzines, fanwriters, fanartists, of 2017, whose names leapt to my mind, conspicuously omitted by those hundred folks (and of course neither complete nor conclusive). Some of them can be found on-line, e.g. through Bill Burns’ eFanzines; that doesn’t matter much to me, it may to you. I couldn’t begin to guess which, if any, will appear on the Hugo ballot; that’s not why I’m writing. Let’s say that next time you get to How do I love thee? you count the ways. Or, not to top that, because I can’t, let’s consider Love your neighbors, for they are not like you. Or let’s just say I like to share my toys with friends.

Fanzines

  • Alexiad
  • Askance
  • Askew
  • Banana Wings
  • Beam
  • Chunga
  • Counterclock
  • Enter at Your Own Risk
  • Flag
  • Inca
  • Iota
  • Littlebrook
  • Lofgeornost
  • The MT Void
  • Nice Distinctions
  • Opuntia
  • Purrsonal Mewsings
  • Raucous Caucus
  • Trap Door
  • The White Notebooks
  • The Zine Dump

Fanwriters

  • Sandra Bond
  • William Breiding
  • Claire Brialey
  • Randy Byers
  • Graham Charnock
  • Pat Charnock
  • Leigh Edmonds
  • Lilian Edwards
  • Nic Farey
  • Janice Gelb
  • Steve Green
  • Rob Hansen
  • Andy Hooper
  • Kim Huett
  • Lucy Huntzinger
  • Jerry Kaufman
  • Steve Jeffery
  • Sue Jones
  • Christina Lake
  • Evelyn Leeper
  • Mark Leeper
  • Fred Lerner
  • Robert Lichtman
  • Rich Lynch
  • Joseph Major
  • Lisa Major
  • Mike Meara
  • Jacqueline Monahan
  • Murray Moore
  • Joseph Nicholas
  • Ulrika O’Brien
  • Roman Orszanski
  • Lloyd Penney
  • Mark Plummer
  • John Purcell
  • David Redd
  • Yvonne Rousseau
  • Yvonne Rowse
  • Darrell Schweitzer
  • Paul Skelton
  • Fred Smith
  • Ylva Spangberg (imagine a ring over the second “a”)
  • Dale Speirs
  • Garth Spencer
  • Milt Stevens
  • Suzanne Tompkins
  • Philip Turner
  • R-Laurraine Tutihasi
  • Pete Young

Fanartists

  • Harry Bell
  • Sheryl Birkhead
  • Ditmar
  • Kurt Erichsen
  • Brad Foster
  • Alexis Gilliland
  • Jeanne Gomoll
  • Teddy Harvia
  • Sue Mason
  • Ray Nelson
  • Ulrika O’Brien
  • Taral Wayne
  • Alan White

Humpty Dumpty tells Alice (Through the Looking-Glass, ch. 6) “You’re so exactly like other people…. two eyes, so – nose in the middle, mouth under. “It’s always the same.” Alice says any other way might not look nice. He answers – and these are his last words – “Wait till you’ve tried.” Of course it doesn’t occur to him that he falls under the same description himself.

Journey Planet’s Tribute to Judge Dredd

The Journey Planet team of Chris Garcia, Mike Carroll and James Bacon report –

We’ve been exceptionally lucky with this issue of Journey Planet on Judge Dredd, getting permission to publish a comic story, and also interview the creators of Judge Dredd, John Wagner and Pat Mills who brought Judge Dredd to the comic book pages of 2000AD forty-one years ago

We felt we wanted to show readers some of Judge Dredd. All text about a comic is hard, we wanted fans to get the chance at experiencing the best that the comic has to offer currently.

Chris and James felt that the standalone story, ”The Third Person” was one of the best comic stories last year, and we are all grateful to Mike Molcher and Rebellion for allowing us to reprint this Judge Dredd story in full.

The story covers interesting elements such as neuro-diversity and a unique approach to pre-determinism, as well a cultural reference.

James and Chris wanted to do a feature on it, but reckoned that while a diverse and varied set of views and reviews might be interesting, our own thoughts potentially were dangerously sycophantic. We got a range of voices to share their thoughts, professional games developer Helena Nash, author Anton Marks, academic Jack Fennell, fan Kelly Beuhler, Irish Comic News Blog Editor David Ferguson and comics scholar Lisa Macklem among others to offer insight and comment on this fabulous ten-page story.

We introduce the art, character and historical elements to new readers, have features on related publications, as well as articles that are firmly tongue in cheek as well as serious pieces considering the character and stories.

We wanted something for the new reader as well as for the fans who know the lore of Dredd, but would like to read fresh angles and perspectives.

We also take a look at other Judge Dredd fanzines, with special features on the long-running Zarjaz and the brand-new Belfast-based zine Sector 13.

We are grateful to all our contributors, and Mike Molcher of Rebellion.

Journey Planet 39: Judge Dredd is available at the link.

MT Void Publishes 2000th Issue

Mark and Evelyn Leeper in 2002. Photo by Mark Olson.

By Bill Higgins: 1978 was a good year for me and, apparently, a good year for starting fanzines. Congratulations on celebrating File 770‘s fortieth anniversary! And last Friday I noticed that Issue Number 1998 of MT Void had slipped into my mailbox. Which means that Evelyn and Mark Leeper are scheduled to publish the two-thousandth issue on February 2, 2018.

Here’s an account of the zine’s history Mark wrote in 2009 (Volume 28, No. 23, Whole Number 1574):

TOPIC: A Brief History of the MT VOID and the Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

We have had some questions about the Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society and the MT Void. Let me try to answer all the questions in one very short history.

Since we first met Evelyn and I have always mixed out interest science fiction with our socializing. We were in the science fiction club at the University of Massachusetts from before school started freshman year until we graduated. The last six months I was the president of the club. Evelyn preferred to be the club librarian and did about six times the work anyone else in the club did.

When we graduated we married, and while I was getting my Masters from Stanford we filled the need for a science fiction club by joining PenSFA, the Peninsula Science Fiction Association, which included such members as artists George Barr and Jim Thomas.

When I graduated Stanford I went to work for Burroughs Computer Corporation in Detroit. Wednesday evenings we would go over to Wayne State University and attend the science fiction meetings of the Wayne Third Foundation. We liked the people of that area, but Detroit was depressing and cold. Also, Burroughs was a rather unpleasant place to work. After three and a half years, at the end of 1977, we left and went to work for Bell Laboratories, the research arm of the telephone company.

Bell Laboratories was one of the primary scientific research environments in the world, and they treated their employees well. They even funded social clubs for their staff. But nobody had started a science fiction club. This seemed peculiar for a cutting edge research facility. There was a little science fiction activity, but it consisted of one group what shared the cost of a subscription to the Science Fiction Book Club and then they passed the books around by inter-office mail. This was not entirely satisfying. We did go to the Empiricon science fiction convention in November, 1978. On the way home I told Evelyn that we really ought to found a science fiction discussion group at Bell Laboratories. Things were never the same again. By the end of 1978 we had a working science fiction club.

Bell would give some minimal funding to the club and we could use company facilities if we could get ten people to say they would join it. At first we thought finding ten people interested would be difficult. That fear was quickly disposed of. We should have been able to call ourselves the “Bell Labs Science Fiction Club”, but that was not allowed by the company so we were just the “Science Fiction Club”.

We met every other week and discussed one book and picked another for the following meeting. So two notices had to go out through inter-office mail for each meeting, one to remind people of the coming meeting and one to tell people what book had been chosen for the next meeting. That was a notice a week, and they started hand-written and photocopied, then typed, and eventually e-mailed. A year or so later the meetings were changed for once every three weeks so we would send out two notices every three weeks, but we soon returned to weekly publication. It seemed pointless to just have one item per notice so I started commenting on films and making jokes. Evelyn would write book reviews and other comments and announcements.

We at first were based at Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, New Jersey, but members would come to meetings from other nearby Bell Laboratories locations, particularly Lincroft and Middletown. Each of these locations had a two-letter code to make addressing in interoffice mail quick. Holmdel was HO; Middletown was MT; Lincroft was LZ. Why Lincroft was not LC we never found out. The meetings were at whichever facility Evelyn and I were at the time. We were moved around. At a time when we were in Middletown we decided that the club and the notice needed a better name. We could have called ourselves the Middletown-Holmdel-Lincroft Science Fiction Club, but we shortened that using the mail codes to the MT HOLZ. That is not an abbreviation for a mountain’s name, and there appears to be no Mount Holz. Instead it is pronounced as if it were “empty holes.” The weekly notice has was similarly named the MT VOID or pronounced “empty void.” These names were proposed by member Paul S. R. Chisholm.

There are still something like 215 real members of the MT HOLZ Science Fiction Society. Activities have become increasingly rare. For a long time there was a video film festival that went along with the club showing pairings of related films like THE POWER and SCANNERS, WHO? and THE RETURN OF MARTIN GUERRE, or Z and ELENI. As participation dropped off the festival died and was reborn once or twice. These days we do not even announce showings to the whole club, but this activity goes on. The one activity that still goes strong is a weekly publication of surprising length, the MT VOID. It may well be the science fiction fanzine that has had the greatest number of issues. The notice/fanzine has had 1574 issues going back to 1978. The members get the MT VOID emailed to them, but it is reprinted on numerous web locations and my reviews appear separately on sites like the Internet Movie Database and Rotten Tomatoes. [-mrl]

Asked for a comment on reaching issue 2000, Mark Leeper replied, “If you are going to start a fanzine one thing you should have that we did not have is an exit strategy.”

I can’t recall when I myself began subscribing to MT Void. Sometime in the Nineties? Maybe the late Eighties? Anyway, it has given me many years of pleasurable reading, as movie reviews, book reviews, wit, whimsy, and the occasional mathematical puzzle paraded past my eyeballs.

I salute Evelyn, Mark, and their correspondents for the remarkable longevity of their creation, and for their efforts in maintaining a high level of entertainment. Long may MT Void wave!

Journey Planet’s “Disney on Rails” Issue

“Yes, in one way or another I have always loved trains.” Walter E. Disney.

By James Bacon: Here at Journey Planet we are pleased to announce that we have released a whole issue entitled and about “Mapping Disney’s Railways”. In fairness, we have not gotten our cartographers kit out, but rather focused on Walt Disney’s love of trains.

Download it directly here [PDF file].

Starting with Walt Disney as a youth in Marceline, where his Uncle would drive trains and he himself was a “Train Butcher” through to his live steam model railway, The Carolwood Pacific Railroad, surrounding his home in Los Angeles, we have tried to capture in the fanzine many the many railway elements that intersected with Walt Disney.

From there, the fanzine looks at the trains that were built and bought for Disneyland, from the Steam Trains, to Monorails, to Viewliner Train of tomorrow. Looking at the engines that exist in a variety of Parks, and discussing historical questions, the zine has drawn on many sources, including Michael Broggies’ Walt Disney’s Railroad Story which captivated me.

This is the seminal work, indeed it is more than that, it was inspirational to me, and I started to try and figure out parts that the book touched on, or that I had read elsewhere, and match up the stories, and it was just so much fun.

This book is fabulous. Although I have read many, and went down many routes of fun research, and picked up articles and magazines, it was perfect to read as it was like marrying all the pieces of Disney together. It is a definitive history, not just because of the details, but because Broggie was there, he was on the footplate of the train with Walt, he was working the Carolwood Pacific Railway empty stock movements, he was shown the workings and allowed to drive Lilly Belle, he is a Disney Historian and offers brilliant insight. His ability then to translate all this information into a four-hundred page book is sublime. I bought the 2nd edition and the 4th is awaiting me in Boston, which I will visit for Smofcon.

The book, is available at The Carolwood Society Website.

Some sources proved very elusive, The Railroad Magazine from  October 1965, has an amazing article called “I Have Always Loved Trains” by Walt Disney and is a vital piece of testimony, which I wanted to find.

The Irish Railway Record Society Library had many Railroad Magazines from 1965 but not October, while The Boston Public Library’s issue was also missing from the shelves. Finding a copy via my local library was impossible and COPAC mostly failed me, and that is a system that searches the catalogues of some 90 major libraries across Ireland and the UK. Although it did have The Railroad Man’s Magazine listed. Fortunately a photocopy of the article emanated from the USA.

As well as the Railways at the Parks, which have fascinating technologies, there is the Carolwood Society’s “Walt’s Barn” at the LA Live Steamers in Griffith Park there is the Lilly Belle parlour car, which is exceptionally exclusive at Disneyland, and a Carolwood Pacific Room at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World.

Many fans and professionals contributed on the subject as part of the ‘instant fanzine’ section, from Michael Marshall Smith to Kerry Kyle.