Talkin’ About the 50 Ways

So many capsule histories of fan fiction are appearing under the influence of Fifty Shades of Grey that one occasionally defies Sturgeon’s odds.

The Guardian’s Ewan Morrison presents an exceptionally coherent history of fan-fic, “In the beginning, there was fan fiction: from the four gospels to Fifty Shades”, noteworthy for its gloss of this faanish classic:

The Enchanted Duplicator by Walt Willis and Bob Shaw was a metafiction based on Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, but which described a world populated with sci-fi fans. It chronicles the adventures of hero Jophan in “the land of Mundane”. All of the characters in the book are renamed versions of real fans from the London SF circle of the 50s and the book was created entirely for their pleasure.

(Note: This post cried out to be named “50 Shades of Purple” — in America the word “duplicator” triggers images of volatile-smelling copies fresh from the school’s spirit duplicator. However, as anyone likely to care already knows full well, The Enchanted Duplicator is a mimeograph. The technology A.B. Dick trademarked in America as the mimeograph was often called in Britain by its generic name, stencil duplicator, otherwise shortened to duplicator.)

[Thanks to Martin Morse Wooster for the story.]

In the Beginning

It’s appropriate that during Corflu weekend an antique Edison mimeograph machine is being auctioned on eBay.

Several large photos show the item in all its glory, enough to set the heart of any steampunk fan racing. A metal plate on the mimeo’s wooden box says it was made by A.B. Dick in Chicago and displays a patent date of 1880. There are interior compartments for the flatbed mimeo screen and ink roller. Sure looks like this equipment has seen heavy use somewhere along the way.

The original set of operating instructions is still inside. (So it obviously never belonged to a guy.)

The seller is asking for an opening bid of $49.99.

[Thanks to Steve Davidson for the story.]