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Kittywompus Tracks Fanzines - July 2000

Button25 July 2000

Returned from holiday, quite refreshed, and as suntanned as you'd expect given the combination of a British summer and factor 25 suncream. Perhaps I should look for one that makes the sun 25 times as intense? Finishing work for the alloyed delights of maternity leave reminded me much of the last day of summer term when I was in primary school. I'm sure that eight months feels no longer now than six weeks did then.

Button6 July 2000

Well, I didn't get any fanzines for a while. And then we were busy, and then my luverly new computer arrived. And Brian and Caroline had a baby! Meriol Ameringen, pictured below fast asleep on Mummy's lap at 2 days old or so.

Caroline Mullan and Meriol Ameringen

Anyway, back to the plot. I've had the two fanzines reviewed below, but also Twink 18, File 770 134, Astronomical Burgeoning Void, This Here 3 & 4, a Fanzine Fanatique and some Vanamondes. But I suspect I won't have time to review those until Monday, so I'm just mentioning them now so their authors won't think I've mislaid them or anything.

Erg 150, Terry Jeeves, 56 Red Scar Drive, Scarborough, N Yorks, YO12 5RQ, UK. 16pp A5, available for the usual, I'm pretty sure.

Erg is now in its 42nd year, publishing more or less quarterly for that time. Which is quite impressive by any count. Terry's now online, embracing new technology, and only occasionally coming over as a mite curmudgeonly. He has a go at modern SF -- "bland, tedious and highly unreadable fantasy" -- and complains a couple of times about the appalling manners of the younger generation. We only have recorded evidence of that complaint since the earliest written records, of course. But those records indicate it was a long-standing observation even then.

The lead article this time is potted reviews of old-time movies, most of which have remained famous. As such, the reviews read rather oddly; we learn that A Matter of Life and Death features a giant escalator and that King Kong features a giant ape. Terry also provides some observations about the values that were taught by these films. He cites the uplifting ones as character-building, making his contemporaries "more law-abiding citizens than many of those unfortunates now being raised on a diet of sex, violence, drugs, 'joy'-riding and gutter language". But are any of these things really worse than films depicting "Chinese [who] threw knives, wandered around in embroidered dressing gowns, were opium addicts and master criminals to a man"?

There's also a couple of pages of weird historical aircraft, a musing on matter transmission (yup, it squicks me too), a cute little short story produced in a writing class, and letters.

Tortoise 8, Sue Jones (and Siberia the Imaginary Tortoise), Flat 5, 32/33 Castle Street, Shrewsbury SY1 2BQ, UK. 16pp A4, available "on editorial whim".

But in fact, Tortoise has a notably small mailing list; my copy has 21/60 scrawled on the back. Sue themes each one, and the theme of this issue is 'English'. I got an e-mail update a month or so ago, apologising for the lateness of this; I confess that my life runs more smoothly if I never, ever expect a fanzine to appear to any sort of schedule, so this missive came as something of a surprise.

I self-identify as English, though theoretically I'm more than half Scottish. So I was slightly surprised when all the males in my family 'did the ethnic thing' at my brother's wedding the other week. Like most English people, I tend to struggle with concepts of patriotism and national identity, whilst nevertheless having that little streak of "the English, the English, the English are best" inside. Fat Les does a very good job of capturing the national identity as far as I'm concerned; we are, as a race, stuck somewhere between "Jerusalem" and "Vindaloo". Back in Tortoise, Sue ruminates on the same question, and reviews some books and a play which tackle the same issue.

She also offers some interesting local history about the market square and church in the centre of Shrewsbury, yards from her flat, and the Wrekin, a little further afield. Andrew Butler decides that it's easier to identify the things that make one English when one is abroad, and there are various anecdotes about the infinitely flexible English language. Letters, clouds, and the oddities of unsolicited poems. Plokta gets these as well, along with awful fiction. We've printed exactly one poem ever, which wasn't remotely drippy, and no fiction, so I can't really imagine why. Tortoise is a terrific perzine; get it if you can, or at least ask Greg Pickersgill's Memory Hole to look out for copies for you.

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