Remembering Andrew Plotkin’s
17-year-delayed LOC to PyroTechnics #38

By Bill Higgins: In August 1986, Jamie and Gail Hanrahan published PyroTechnics #38, a fanzine founded by Jeff Duntemann.  It served as a club newsletter for General Technics, a loose organization of SF fans interested in do-it-yourself technology.  That was 34 years ago.

In 2003, Andrew Plotkin found a copy of Pyro 38 stored in his dad’s basement.  He decided to write a lengthy and thoughtful Letter of Comment.  On September 10, 2003, uncertain whether 1987 postal addresses would still be valid, Andrew posted his letter to the rec.arts.sf.fandom newsgroup for all on Usenet to read.

One may find a copy of the letter on Andrew’s Web site.

His Usenet posting still lurks within Google Groups.

Today I noticed that it has been just about as long between Andrew’s charming LoC and now as it has between the publication of Pyro 38 and the day Andrew posted his letter. I think this is a moment to celebrate.

The most recent issue of PyroTechnics, number 57, was published in 1997, six years pre-Plotkin. Nevertheless, we of the Pyro editorial staff are always glad to receive comments from readers. (I was one of two editors for #57.)

John Ridley, a GT member, has archived most of the issues of Pyro.  One may read Issue 38 at this link.

General Technics still exists, and more or less thrives, though we haven’t published a zine in quite a while. We throw room parties a couple of times a year at Chicago and sometimes Detroit cons.  We hold a weekend club outing annually.  We correspond on a busy mailing list.  Some of us have gafiated, but a goodly number are still active fans and/or pros.  We still chatter about SF, science, and do-it-yourself technologies.  In the Seventies we called ourselves “techies;” the closest modern word, I suppose, would be “makers.”

Anyway, I salute Andrew Plotkin’s noble gesture.  He reminds us that fandom is, among other things, a long conversation.  Here’s to friendships that stretch across decades.  And long may the conversation continue.

Potential Video Game Hugo Nominees

Last month’s conversation about a videogame category for the Hugos is still on Andrew Plotkin’s mind —

There was a bunch of good discussion there, mostly skeptical of the idea. Which is fine, but I was bugged by one commonly-raised objection — that there isn’t a “deep bench” of 25-ish plausible best-game nominees in a given year.

I disagreed. I still disagree. I finally sat down and put together a list — covering only short, indie, and amateur interactive fiction titles. That’s a subset of the field, but it gets at titles that non-gaming fandom probably wouldn’t have heard of otherwise.

For “Videogame Hugo: 2015 potentials” on The Gameshelf, Plotkin came up with over 30 works. He expects to add more when the results of IFComp 2015 and the Windhammer Prize for Short Gamebook Fiction are known.

Plotkin concludes, “I hope we can at least say ‘There are a whole lot of narrative and story-oriented SF games out there.’”