Lokta Plokta

Kim Huett

If Eddie Cochrane can't see how the X-Files is just Scooby Doo for the Nineties then she really, really needs to start taking some of the brown acid.

Eunice Pearson

I've actually been to Harlech, Porthmadog and Barmouth so I could visualise those places while reading Dave Langford's holiday diary. Ah, but you want to try living in Wales during the winter months. Now that's true endurance! I live in a small village called Pantyscallog (Pant for short) which is more often than not, shrouded in clouds during the autumn and covered in fog during the winter. When it gets really cold, the sheep come down off the mountain and rummage around in dustbins, munch plants and generally make nuisances of themselves. A bit like the tourists that come here in summer.

I like treacle. When I was a Girl Guide I used to go round collecting for our annual jumble sale, and one of my mother's friends always made treacle toffee as her contribution. I bought as much of it as I could afford out of my pocket money! I love the sharp, bitter taste of black treacle, but then I prefer dark chocolate that's especially sugar-less, so what would I know? But treacle jelly? No thanks, I think I'll pass on that taste treat!

Might I suggest that you try installing several cats for the Warm Things In Your Lap experiment? I have four cats who all try to cascade on one frail human form, rather like trying to run several programs at the same time, making Windows 95 groan and complain. The girls like to sit, one on the human's lap and the other on the chest. The chest-sitting cat prefers to use female humans as they come with a built-in ledge to stop said feline from sliding onto the other one. This is useful since our girls hate each other and will not touch each other if at all possible. Usually, the younger boy cat sits on the human's feet while the older boy sits on the arm of the chair within reach of the add-on stroking drivers.

Steve Jeffery

I can't send you a Nova Award 'cos I came further down the polls than you did, so can I take a time-share on your third place? You need to practice your terminal embarrassment podium look more. These things are awarded out of cruelty, after all (look what it nearly did to poor Sue).

You may "don the outer garments of fantasy, but your underwear is full of suprises" (quote: Philip G Williamson, who will regret this, having it broadcast in Ansible). In your case, the outer garments are a return to the traditional Plokta front page design, after a couple of inspired spoof covers, but inside... Oh, this is wonderful. This has to be among the best alternate world convention reports I've seen for a long while, even more so as it nicely parodies the current Acnestis meme on Patrick O'Brien novels (but no mention of wombats?), and heaves close (me hearties) to an Alan Coren piece on 'pirate barbers' in the style of Treasure Island. "Avast behind!" "It's not that big, is it?"

So that's how these things are decided. I wondered about the smell of cordite (and the goats) in the corridors.

2000AD, I thought, started very well but the scansion seemed to go to pot (maybe laudanum) around the middle. I did like the person@porlock tag line. [The scansion accurately reflects the original, which did indeed go to pot in the middle.]

Treacle jelly? What on earth possessed you with the idea that something that combines one of the major ingredients of hectography with another that is the confectionery equivalent of sump oil would be edible? Why not just boil up old crudsheets with a corflu dressing? (Andy Hooper might go for it, as "the fine odour of old mimeography" pervades the kitchen, and probably melts the smoke alarm). But I didn't realise that there actually was a real treacle well in Oxford. Since I can't think of any possible alternative uses for treacle (you could try re-grouting the bath or gutters with it I suppose, but the run-off might be toxic), I would have it taken outside with a long pair of tongs and safely disposed in a controlled explosion by the bomb squad. It will get rid of a potential danger to hearth, home, Pod and George.

Of course 'guillemot' can be used as a verb. Do not E B Frohvet and Kate Shaefer both come from the land that gave us General Alexander Haig and his unique contribution to the English(?) language: "Haig, in Congressional hearings before his confirmatory, paradoxed his auditioners by abnormalling his reponses so that nouns were verbed, verbs nouned and adjectives adverbised. He techniqued a new way to vocabulary his thoughts so as to informationally uncertain anybody listening to what he had actually implicationed." [Spectator Feb 1981] The first time I typed the line "Dear Sir," in Word 7, I got Microsoft's irritating little paper clip wanting to tell me how to write a letter. Somebody should invent a desktop utility that allows you to nuke the little bastard on-screen and then sweep the pieces into the Recycle bin. I used to have mere qualms about upgrading Microsoft products. Now the prospect frankly terrifies me.

Kim Huett (again)

First of all a Joseph Nicholas story. He was quoted in a fanzine as writing 'Bollocks to the Internet'. Not long after seeing this I sent Judith an email about various matters and ended with 'How typical of Joseph to resent anything he can't tidy'. When Judith replied she replied 'Don't underestimate my little Attila's cleaning abilities'. I think we should all be very afraid because I can just see a virtual Joseph in little pink apron having a red-hot go.

Now I have that out of my system I must also admit to a terrible urge to spell your fanzine's title as Plotka? Does this say something about my subconscience? Or am I on to something here? Probably not, odds on Plokta is simply Gaelic for Apparatchik. That would certainly explain the morphing cover on #8.

I myself thought the termination of Apparatchik something of a mercy killing as it seemed to lose direction over the last twenty issues or so. With so many strong personalities involved it seemed to lose the clarity of vision it had while it was just Andy. It will be interesting to see if Andy can recreate the peak period of Apparatchik with The Jezail. My only hope is he does something a little different with the Fanzine Countdown. If there was one part of Apparatchik I never liked it was that. I always found it as sugary sweet as chocolate coated sugar cubes.

As for the question of E.B. Frohvet I must admit that having read an issue of Twink I've declined the offer to trade with him. As far as I'm concerned life is short and I'm only going to trade for fanzines I know I want to read.

Having acquired most of the early issues from Memory Hole it's interesting to see how Plokta has evolved. I'm afraid I will have to agree with Paul Kincaid in his view that the early issues were very scrappy, both visually and in the quality of the writing. The good news is that with each issue the cabal demonstrated a slightly surer grasp of what was going to work. Keep this level of improvement up and you will soon be producing something the editors of Wired could only dream of.

The coverage of the roleplaying convention reminds me of a conversation I had with Kari and Phil while I was staying with them. As far as I can tell British and Australian roleplaying conventions have very little in common. This con report for example suggests programming such as panels and guests of honour are common occurrences down your way. I've been to more than a few Australian roleplaying conventions, in particular the annual Canberra bash which is one of the largest in this country, and I have to say they don't go in for non-gaming activities up here. Which is not to say committees haven't tried on occasion. It's more the case that the bulk of attendees don't want to stop gaming to attend anything else. The group I normally attend conventions with for example assume that if they going to go to the trouble and expense of travelling interstate they want a decent return in regards to the amount of time spent roleplaying. It's quite normal for us to play six or seven of the possible eight three hour sessions of a standard convention. The only aspects of roleplaying cons up here which seem to survive this obsession are the dealers room (no sweat boss, the gnp of a small African nation can change hands in there during Cancon), and the animé video room.

Buck Coulson's declaration about your election coverage confirming his Seppo attitude to the British Government rather confused me. Then I recalled his fascination with animals capable of licking their own genitals and realised he meant he would have preferred the Tories to have won the election.

Sue's bit on decorating reminds me that friends of mine bought a house with a spare bedroom wallpapered in rather realistic visions of coconut tree fringed beaches. They're somewhat less then enamoured of this but I don't mind. If nothing else I'm pretty sure they'll eventually break down and hire me to remove it for them.

Walt Willis

I think this is the best Plokta yet, largely because of the piratical conreport. If it wasn't too fulsome I feel like saying that Seaman Dop is one of the great comic creations of English literature. I particularly admired the bit about splinters, but the whole thing is delightful, in both concept and execution.

[How does it feel to be our comic creation, Dop?]

It was a pleasant surprise to see Warhoon 28 featuring in the plot, even if it was only as a dead weight.

Antony J. Shepherd (Dop),

Seaman Dop Arrr... Thank 'ee very much for the last swashbuckling Plokta. I'm not quite sure what I did to deserve all that but it was funny anyway....

Either you are of course complete bastards or some ideas are simply inevitable, but I received Plokta a mere matter of days before producing an Our Dog's Basket which also had the idea of the next British Worldcon being held in the millennium dome. (But I had the best name. Mandelcon).

I was happy to see that I won't be the only person being lynched by the smofs if Tobes wins the Doc Weir... (I do keep typing Doc Weird -- Which would be a much better award.)

David Langford

I'm tempted to send you an eight-inch disk, utterly unreadable by standard or surviving non-standard 8" drives (experts have tried), being one of several containing the text of the 1979 SF Encyclopedia in the format of a long-junked typesetting machine. But I still vaguely feel that these useless disks should be kept together and preserved by the Foundation or some such. But here is a moose-related item, which may be unfamiliar to you if you haven't seen the Thog precursor Pegasus Descending: A Treasury of the Best Bad Poems in English ed. James Camp, X.J. Kennedy and Keith Waldrop (1971). This begins with a selection of notable opening lines, including -- from Harry Edward Mills' very ethnic The Squaw's Lullaby -- "Sleep, my little papoose; Thy father hunteth the moose." Try it on Marianne tonight.

Kim Huett, (yet again...)

The cover of Plokta #9 is nicely done though it is a pity that Marianne has such a serious expression. Perhaps it's unfair of me to point this out since not every baby is called upon to face the grim task of gooing at British fandom. Still, it could be worse, as far as I'm aware kissing babies isn't considered necessary when standing for TAFF.

In regards to the 'Warm Things in Your Lap' table I would like to point out the model used for the cat category was obviously not the best. I have an economy sized model which I can assure you would rate much higher in regards to noise, portability, suspend mode, findability, and staying where put. I would offer to give you a loan but since I have only the one, which would be difficult to replace, I can't risk having it damaged in transit.

I was impressed at the breathtaking cluelessness of Lloyd Penney's comment re ElderMOO. Perhaps he should look up 'social' in a dictionary before deciding what that includes. He might also like to check out the entry on 'cretin'.

Mae Strelkov

Dear Marianne,

Why should I write to that bunch of idiots trying to raise Cain and you? You are very beautiful on the front cover, even if you see plainly (in your wistful way) that they are making fun of you. What nonsense are they saying? That you're just another mortal? You will surely still remember, (since forgetting begins once you join the idiots on Earth in their chatter), you just know Life is great and there's no end to it. It's a ridiculous, artificial toy you're hugging. Throw it back at them and ask for something sensible -- maybe a complete toy skeleton to set up? Tell-em it doesn't say anything to hug just a toy skull. You like your friends complete, with flesh also and nice churning red blood in their veins. (Ask for a Barbie doll, ha, ha!)

Is there no bureau where babies can complain against illustrations showing them totally enclosed in rope? Certainly, Goo is the sensible answer to such silliness. Would anyone imagine what you could have said once you learned this silly language we're currently using? What you already know is truer, brought with you from birth!

Your companion, that glossy black cat, no doubt understands you, but tolerates nonsense even though they give it as "Dr. Plokta" a mere laptop for expressing profound thought. Learn the pleasure of cat-psychology in Life and you'll never be bored. I have around 20 cats now till it's a real burden, and I'm passing out birth-control pills to those mommies left-and-right most desperately. I don't suppose your grownups will produce twenty babies shortly to keep you company. Just as well, maybe. Parents find babies hard to rear even when you've just one at a time, and it would be sad to see twenty babies roped like you are, in a row.

So you don't know how to purr and can only cry Waaa when compared with that black cat, so smug that it is. Don't let it get you down. Don't worry -- cartoons are meaningless, not true. Ignore the test results they've printed: such grown-up humor is not to be taken seriously. Imagine comparing a baby with a lap-top. The cat might rate high marks too and so might a book, but you are the living message from Heaven and always will be (as we all are, if we but knew it). Books may contain messages, cats certainly do too, but no one can match you, dear Marianne.

Ah! So you're 9 kilos already? That's more than any cat of mine is, I fear. I want them fat, but feeding 20 cats at once so all share alike is a problem, I hope soon to have a small screened porch where I can feed the younger generations to the exclusion of the greedy elder cats who eat all. No problem to you, dear, unless you follow the "broad-and-easy highway" and avoid the Straight-and-Narrow as I suppose I too do. So, closing this letter with love, I'm your "Grandma Mae".

PS Keeping 20 cats indoors (unless they're all supplied with nappies) has proved impossible. I'm vanquished! Now I have to sneak outdoors, or they all pour in, in one solid mass.

Kim Huett, (does he never sleep?)

Timing is everything so it was most appropriate this issue of Plokta reached me in the very week a wave of Tellitubbie durdum should descend upon me. Not that I've seen the little buggers themselves, some temporary employment and a bung video recorder has seen to that. On the other hand fate has conspired to ensure they have been mentioned everywhere from the latest episode of The Vicar of Dibley to the local newspaper over the last few days. Interestingly, though the question of which Tellitubby do people like best has come up several times. I don't know why they bother because Tinky Winky is the inevitable response. I can only assume tinky is one damn hot adjective that I'm not familiar with.

Was interested to read the truth about Andy Hooper in Ye Olde Almanack as I was beginning to wonder if he might not be a feral Tellitubbie. Now I think about it I must concede Ye Andy could easily be some sort of hive mind. For that matter have you ever considered that the same could probably be said about Pat McMurray? Actually, after reading Ye Almanack a vision did come to me in which it was discovered Ye Andy and Ye Pat were actually superheroes in disguise, here to save the planet for fandom. Every time some danger, eg. the NBW (Next British Worldcon) would threaten to destroy fandom they would put their rings together and in a flash of purple turn into Multifan, saviour of the faniverse.

What's with this issue anyway, was the mighty Plokta Cabal too busy playing pirates for fill their own fanzine? Sure looks like it cap'n what with all the Langford and Weston Apocrypha draped over various pages. Not that I mind pirating and would really like to sign up for your next voyage, pending the announcement of who will be filling the cabin boy position. Ooo aaargh, grease up the parrot Roger, it's going to be a long trip.

For that matter I don't especially mind the Weston or Langford presence though Dave might like to note that restful holidays in remote corners of the country work best if you stay put. If he and Hazel truly want rest and relaxation next time I would recommend they choose a window each to stare out and position armchairs accordingly. Whirlwind trips to every market town within middling distance can be idly considered but on no account attempt them as such faffle will get you to nowhere but exhaustion. I hope you sent the remains of the treacle jelly to Christina Lake so she might relax after the exertions of a long overseas trip. It might also prove useful if she visits another mosquito-infested locality in the future.

To conclude I would like to point out I'm not so much interested in knowing how 'guillemot' works as a verb as discovering whether 'EB Frohvet' can work as a pronoun.

Sheryl Birkhead

I'm a bit curious -- apropos of absolutely nothing -- Novas, Ditmars, Auroras -- are there other national awards?? I've asked if I would be able to vote/nominate for the Ditmars, and was told yes. (But I never seem to get my act together enough) -- are the Novas restricted to "citizens"? [No, you need to be a member of Novacon.]

The scavenger hunt list is great. The Lynches chuckled over some of the items, knowing they actually had the item.

Treacle, gingerbread -- yes -- what's parkin?

Joseph Major

Prairie oysters are said to be a very tasty dish.

Editorial Condolences on the demise of the Brave Little Flatbed Scanner, which has passed from this world to a tech lab incorruptible, where there are no upgrades to trouble it.

Gee, and they thought our tales of Blackhearted Tim sailing on the account in the White Terror under the Jolly Ronald were bad.

Scavenger Hunt: No, I am not sending you my baby picture of me sitting with my feet in the toilet.

The P-Files: Good work. Usually you have to upload all of Windows 95 to get that result.

Lloyd Penney

Greetings to all you ravening maenads, especially Multiple Nova Award Winner Mark Plummer. Here's a letter from Multiple Aurora Award Winner Lloyd Penney on issue 10 of the Multiple Nova Award Losing Plokta. Well, to be nominated is an honour all in itself, but nothing beats bringing the hardware home. May you go on to grab some Novas for yourselves.

Arrrr, ye scurvy knaves, thou hast crabbed t'gether a hard tale of the lazy lubbers that be British fandom...I hope the loccol has healed up smartly, or there'll be no place for this letter.

Yvonne and I are hard at work, assembling all the ingredients for our entry in the Scavenger Hunt. Actually, we already have most of the ingredients (except for the tacky Diana memento...probably already sold out), and you should be receiving an embarrassing package from Canada shortly. I hope that the bottle o' bubbly will travel the Atlantic safely and well.

Treacle pudding? Ecccchh! You could make several batches of this questionable treat, and do your own remake of The Blob... Honestly, would you eat anything that was black and gelatinous? Those two adjectives usually refer to tar or some petroleum derivative. I suspect that treacle pudding may be the closest thing we have, technologically speaking, to a stasis field. Arm the treacle pudding torpedoes, Mr. Sulu...

Jellied moose nose? Mighod, some people will eat anything. That's why such recipes are sent to Britain, where many strange food items are jellied, like eels...and treacle... I think jellied moose nose may have shown up in a Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon.

Eh-oh! The Teletubbies are the spawn of Barney. We've already been warned that the Teletubbies are coming to Canada and the United States in April. If they have televisions in their tummies, I can only imagine where the cable connection is...or does a part of their anatomies constantly flash 12:00? I'll wrap up this letter with a scary thought...Pod is Dop spelled backwards.

Pamela Boal

I can vouch for the treacle well and for the fact that they just don't make things like they used to. Use by date for proper black treacle indeed! Even that runny stuff that people confuse with the real thing used to manage quite well without any dates, blowed if I ever heard of any one being poisoned by old golden syrup. Your Mum was quite correct, of course treacle keeps at the back of the larder for years, coming out only for ginger puddings and extra rich celebratory fruit cakes. There are medicinal uses but far too unpleasant to mention in a delicate fanzine.

You seemed to have used rather more than usual the number of nicknames this ish, both established and I believe new coined. How about doing a favour for new fans and for old fans with a poor memory for names -- publish a Who's Who. While I think I know which one of you is Tool Man and I would recognise Simo by sight, I haven't a clue about Seaman Dop's real name and as no doubt he gives his name rather than his nickname on LoCs I would like to know. As Tobes seems to be wearing a gas mask in the photo I have no way of remembering his real name even if I have met him. Also I confess I sometimes forget who are the life partners and who the fanzine partners in the Croydon Mafia.

We Also Heard From:

Teddy Harvia (a $5 computer clock backup battery died and took the whole computer with it. My sync sank), Sharon Sbarsky (I did like the Almanac on the back, especially the reminder to nominate for the Hugos), Richard & Nicki Lynch (Please note CoA: Richard & Nicki Lynch P.O. Box 3120 Gaithersburg, Maryland 20885 U.S.A.), Steve Green (no wonder I feel burned out), Bridget Hardcastle (Gordon Brignal's local pub in Tadley is called The Treacle Mine -- and thanks to Plokta I now know it is 'medicinal waters' he goes there for, rather than actual treacle.), Margaret Austin, Steve Brewster (I'm leaving my current address), Tim and Jackie Duckworth ("What the..." says Lauren, looking at the contents of her litter tray-one bin liner and three crumbs of cat litter (the vet wants us to collect a urine sample from her....)), Mark Plummer (Even Dop has been forced to concede that the latest issue is "quite good"), Terry Jeeves (Nostalgia for the days when I used to get to all the cons), Lisa Major (The almanac in back was especially cute, although you did fail to mention the rain of gefilte fish on Pesach, the first mule winner of the Kentucky Derby and the X-Files investigation of the huge waterlogged liner which mysteriously appears in New York Harbor on April 12)

We've also had entries to the scavenger hunt from Brad Foster, Bridget Hardcastle and Peter Wareham. A full report with pictures will appear after Easter, but keep them coming, chaps!

Previous Article

Next Article

Issue Contents

Plokta Index

Visit the Plokta News Network: News and comment for SF fandom