Mimosa #5 Online — At Last!

Mimosa #5 cover by Alan Hutchinson.

Mimosa #5 cover by Alan Hutchinson.

Rich Lynch announces that after a mere 27 years the 5th (yes, Filers, fifth!) issue of Mimosa (August 1988) is now online in easy-on-the-eyes HTML.

The issue contains articles and essays by Robert Lichtman, Carolyn Doyle, Greg Hills, Dal Coger, Sharon Farber, Alan Hutchinson, and Nicki Lynch.  The Farber article is the very first in her long series of “Tales of Adventure and Medical Life” stories, while Alan Hutchinson’s article is an example of that great Southern Fandom tradition, the hoax convention report (though some of it actually happened).  Robert Lichtman gives us a glimpse onto what was perhaps the most successful commune settlement in the United States (it was simply known as “The Farm”), Nicki talks about her brief career as a coffee shop barista, and Dal Coger remembers fandom’s most eccentric character, the legendary Claude Degler.  In addition to all this, a Midwestcon 39 conversation between Howard DeVore, Lynn Hickman, Ray Beam, and Roger Sims informs us on “The Awful Truth About Roger Sims”.

This was the final issue that Nicki and I published from Chattanooga, and it’s more-or-less themed as a “Farewell to Tennessee” issue.  It’s all entertaining.  Hope you think so, too.

Mimosa won the Best Fanzine Hugo six times between 1992 and 2003. With many interesting fanhistorical articles – including autobiographical series by Dave Kyle, Forry Ackerman and Mike Resnick – its website is well worth a visit.

Dave Kyle, Today’s Birthday Boy

Dave Kyle in 2011. Photo by Taral Wayne.

Dave Kyle in 2011. Photo by Taral Wayne.

The legendary Dave Kyle is 96 today, February 14. Going by his Facebook photo, he spent it wrapped up in a cozy blanket in front of the fireplace, a warm drink within reach.

Coincidentally, this is also the day Rich Lynch has posted an electronic copy of Mimosa 7, one of the early issues that’s been missing from the online collection. Dave Kyle’s contribution to the issue, “A Hugo Gernsback Author”, outlines his discovery of fandom and ardent desire to make his first pro sale.

Lynch touts the other delights of Mimosa 7 with these well-chosen words:

Sharon Farber has an article in the issue, the third in her long series of anecdotal tales from her medical student days. And we also included an article by Paul “Skel” Skelton (titled “No Way to Stand Kansas”) about how he thought fanzine fandom was beginning to transition into an inconsequential adjunct of “social fandom”.

The featured article of the issue, though, is also the longest article in the entire 30-issue run of Mimosa — a description and history of Chat, the fanzine that Nicki and I published before we began Mimosa. Embedded within that article are short pieces by Bob Tucker and Teddy Harvia, and an amusing and anecdotal three way interview with Bob Tucker and Robert Bloch.

And I can’t end the description of Mimosa 7 without mentioning that it includes one of the longest lettercols in the run, with correspondence from 28 different letterhacks including such notables as Harry Warner, Walt Willis, Sam Moskowitz, Russell Chauvenet, A. Langley Searles, Buck Coulson, Juanita Coulson, and Mike Glicksohn. Covers are by Teddy Harvia and Peggy Ranson.

Vintage Mimosa

Rich Lynch announces Mimosa #6 has been posted online, “a mere 24 years after its original publication:

There’s a lot of good writing on display, including the second of Sharon Farber’s “Tales of Adventure and Medical Life” series and Harry Warner, Jr.’s amazement about the contents of his late neighbor’s home in “The House on Summit Avenue”. For the fan historian there are two articles: Dave Kyle’s remembrance of the circumstances surrounding “The Great Exclusion Act of 1939” at the very first Worldcon, and a joint article (written as a one-act play) by Roger Sims and Howard Devore about “The Definitive Story of Numbered Fandoms”.

The real star of the issue, though, is Bruno Ogorelec’s “Great Jumping Grandmothers – A Cautionary Tale of Female Emancipation” which offers evidence that being a science fiction fan is heriditary, over several generations. There’s also a meaty letters column, including a long one from Mike Glicksohn (almost an article in itself) and a short note from Robert Bloch.

And besides all this, there’s even an article by me about my experiences in and observations about a small Kentucky place known as “Paradise”.

I think the issue still holds up well, after all these years. I hope you’ll find it an entertaining read.

Classic Mimosa Issue Added to Website

Rich Lynch has unveiled Mimosa 9, the December 1990 issue, in a web-readable format. Despite my frequent use of the superb Mimosa website for fanhistorical research I hadn’t realized that the entire run of the zine has yet to be posted. So I’m happy to see that #9 has been added. All but the first eight issues are now available.

Rich reminds everyone:

As usual there’s plenty of fan history in that issue, including an article by Dave Kyle that provides some background to the fannish phrase “Dave Kyle says you can’t sit here” and a long letter from Alexis Gilliland about 1960s fan publisher Don Miller.  Nicki and I also have a report of our trip “Across Europe on Rail and Plastic” for the 1990 Worldcon, and the issue also contains the great Bob Shaw’s last Serious Scientific Speech “Corn is the Lowest Form of Wheat” and a collection of poems (of many different forms) by Australian fan Dave Luckett.  In addition, the letters column includes correspondence from Harry Warner, Buck Coulson, Terry Jeeves, Mike Glicksohn, rich brown, and Joseph Nicholas, among others, and the covers are by the late Joe Mayhew.

Bheer Can Tower to the Moon

Someone posted the image above on a sports-themed message board and I thought those poor mundanes were missing a lot because they’d never heard of the Bheer Can Tower to the Moon.

Dave Rike was among the Bay Area fans who created that Tower of fable in the mid-1950s (Terry Carr and Bob Stewart contributed as well). Rike retraced its history in an article for Mimosa 15 (talking about himself in third person):

While Dave Rike might have been the first to refer to the Tower in print that doesn’t mean that the idea was entirely original with him. It might have been at one party or another that one of the gang would idle away his time while listening to endless fannish talk of the others by attempting to stack up some empty bheer cans. (If they’re drunk by a fannish sort then they become bheer instead of beer cans.) All cans at that time were made of steel instead of extruded aluminum and might have stacked easier. “Hey, Bob, what’re trying to do there?” “Oh, I dunno, jes’ thinking that if I had enough cans I could build a tower that’d reach up to the moon.” “Oh yeah, well you buy the bheer and I’ll drink it for ya.” Something like that. Dave doesn’t remember any attempt to set up a Tower but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The Tower cast a figurative shadow over fandom in decades to come. I’m sure that’s why the late Randy Bathurst sculpted a beanie-wearing bheer can cranking a mimeo for the original FAAn Awards. And rich brown, Dr. Gafia, said in his faannish lexicon:

Occasionally, even today, partying fans at conventions will construct such a Tower out of bheercans in Terry Carr’s memory. At Magicon [1992] this was attempted on a night when the moon was not visible but Art Widner was heard to intone, “If we build it, it will come.”

My own unforgettable experience with the Tower tradition happened while I was co-chairing the 1978 Westercon. We used the hotel’s Presidential Suite as our evening hospitality suite, serving Heineken in bottles (Poul Anderson was GoH) and other beverages in cans. Both side bedrooms were left open for the party, including mine, but one night I was so exhausted I crashed on my bed while the party carried on without me. I awoke in the middle of the night to discover that everyone had gone, leaving the doors wide open. Before going, fans had stacked all the empties in a pyramid on a coffee table, almost reaching the ceiling – the traditional bheer can tower. And lastly, I discovered my wristwatch had been stolen from my arm while I slept.

Who Owns the Moon?

Can someone own land on the Moon? That was the question before the house at the Luna Philosophie on August 20. Luna Philosophie is the “salon and discussion” hosted by NASA’s CoLab at every full moon in San Francisco. Steve Durst from the Board of Directors of the International Lunar Observatory Association and Dr. William Marshal of NASA Ames each took a crack at the answer. Surprisingly, they both got it wrong! Neither seemed to know that two science fiction clubs already claimed the Moon. (See their video.)

It’s quite appropriate that the meeting happened across the bay from Berkeley, historic home of the Bay Area Elves’, Gnomes’ and Little Men’s Science Fiction, Chowder, and Marching Society. It was the Little Men who, in 1951, filed a claim for mining rights to 2,250 sq. mi. of the Moon. Their claim was widely reported in the media – even by Time magazine. Les Cole told the whole story in Mimosa 18:

Incidentally, filing a claim on the moon was old hat; the Bureau of Mines had hundreds of claims on file. But the Little Men’s claim was different in two ways: we would file before the U.N. — anyone of any sense could see that the U.S. Bureau of Mines had no jurisdiction on the moon — and we would file for a very small piece, not all of the moon; we weren’t greedy…

And then came The Letter. Don [Fabuns] and I worked on that one at some length. It was to be sent to the head of the U.N. Legal Department, and in it, we offered to cede back 85% of the mineral rights, all of any radioactives found (this was 1951, remember, and the romance with them had not yet fizzled), and perpetual U.N. rights to a presence in the triangular area. All the U.N. had to do was recognize our claim.

According to Les, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon his wife, Es, wanted to bill NASA $0.90/hour for parking.

Unfortunately, the governments of the world bigfooted all over the Little Men’s claim in January 1967 when they signed the Outer Space Treaty declaring that the Moon belongs to all mankind.

Science fiction fandom did not take this lying down. At a December 1970 meeting of the New England Science Fiction Association, “[Tony Lewis] showed the moon map from the Nov 1970 issue of Sky and Telescope. Hugo Gernsback crater was identified, as were Wiener, Ley, Verne, Wells, etc. As a result of this increase in cultural knowledge it was [moved, seconded and passed] that the Moon be designated NESFA’s Moon and that the Aerospace Cadets protect it.” NESFAn Harry Stubbs, then a Lt. Col. in the Air Force, was named commander of the Aerospace Cadets, holding the title “Lord of the Wings.” Later, Alan Frisbie and Paula Lieberman were also enrolled as Cadets.

NESFA shieldNESFA has kept a close eye on its property ever since. When there was a total eclipse of the Moon in July 1982, Tony Lewis wrote a letter protesting the unauthorized use of NESFA’s Moon. The club voted him responsibility for preventing the occurrence of any further unauthorized eclipses. In 1984, Chip Hitchcock reported that Walt Disney’s movie Splash abused NESFA’s Moon by having it wax in the wrong direction. Members voted Chip the job of writing their letter of complaint to Disney Studios’ publicity agency, Craig Miller’s “Con-Artists.”

NESFA even managed to turn Moon ownership into a money-raising tool. They created NESFA Realty Trust bonds to finance the purchase of their clubhouse in 1985.

Inexplicably, NESFA never seems to have objected to the practice of selling land on the moon. And they might want to issue a warning to all the entrepreneurs working on spacecraft to send to the Moon who plan to take ownership of the patch they land on, among them Luna Philosophie speaker Steven Durst himself:

[Durst is] linked to one of the Google Lunar [X Prize] competitors, Odyssey Moon, and he said during the talk that he hopes to scratch out his initials on one of the legs of a lunar rover and “claim his acre.”