[Some of these locs have appeared suddenly, out of a timewarp in Alison's study]
My favorite parts were Alison's account of Marianne's birth in Vol 2 No 2 and Dr Plokta's Guide to Science Fiction in Vol 2 No 3. Glenn and I sat about for a good half hour deciphering the symbols and howling over the appropriateness of picto for theme, theme for book. We argued briefly over whether it was ever really correct to use only one twee symbol -- isn't any twee always too much? -- but decided that A Martian Odyssey is correctly rated with only one twee. My favorite symbols were those for Bugs, Drained Swimming Pools (and I was shocked to realize that there were multiple authors for whom the Drained Swimming Pool symbol could be used), and Pointy Ears. I fail to understand why Neuromancer doesn't have the Urban Decay symbol, and why The Eye in the Pyramid doesn't have three bombs for Libertarianism, but I suppose the personal biases of raters must be taken into account.
You missed a marvellous opportunity for another 'three beaches' rating: Involution Ocean by Bruce Sterling, the most sandy book I have ever read, including Dune!
Christopher sends greetings to Marianne, his companion-in-womb. He has now reached the amoeboid stage of evolution, in which he flows seamlessly and randomly over every available surface, ingesting substances in his path and leaving a trail of slime behind him. Or is that the slug stage of evolution?
The best thing that I have ever seen out of an office window: One windy morning on the Science Park in 1985, the roof of the building opposite blew off. All the way off, in more or less one piece, and then collapsed onto the carpark next door (luckily not on top of any one). And then all the little people on the upper floor could be seen running about frantically, desperately trying to catch the important pieces of paper as the wind caught them up off their desks and blew them away across Cambridge. I do wonder if it was the inspiration for the Crystal Maze!
During my last stint in fanzine-dom, (okay! I know that was about twenty something years ago), no-one invited letters of comment. The idea of feedback on what were, in so many cases, smouldering pages of vitriol-inscribed asbestos, would have been unthinkable. If you had something to say about someone -- you started your own fanzine to say it in. Probably best, all things considered, as you weren't obliged to read all the outpourings that arrived through the letterbox; whereas if it was contained within the pages of literature you did enjoy, you felt morally obligated to, at least, give it the once over. And thereby raise your blood pressure to intolerable levels; the 'Lovely Les Chester' was particularly adept at employing this method to oust people from the 'zine circle, if he didn't like them. You can only stand so much abuse, at a certain age.
Neato technology produces these great picture pages. It helps me to connect faces to the names. I must admit, it looks typically conventionish, and would be, no matter where it might take place. Fans is fans is fans, especially those in costume, and those taking up space in the bar. Anyway, looks like a wonderful con, wallyphone and all... by the way, what's a wallyphone? [A wallyphone is a walkie talkie]
Alison, you passed up a job with the government? [No. I already work for the Government; I passed up a job working in the medi'val internal machinery of the Houses of Parliament -- Alison] You can't get them for love nor money here... if, by some chance, you do get one you are likely to be bumped out of it by a more senior government employee who covets it. So much for job security. One dear friend (who just happens to be here, chatting with Yvonne over patterns and tacky fabric) just lost her dream job in that way. Her name came up, and someone wanted her job. According to her former fellow employees, the person who took her job is the Bitch Queen of the Universe, and refuses to do most of the job's responsibilities. However, she can't be fired for non-performance, thanks to the latest agreement with the government employee unions. Every new premier in this province makes politics here that much queerer.
Lucy Huntzinger runs a virtual consuite? Let's just surgically attach keyboards to our hands and go from there, shall we? Lucy should know that nothing replaces the social factor in conventions, especially in the consuite. I know about a dozen fannish technerds who are designing or running virtual conventions, and virtual hotels to hold them in.
Well, I've been threatened with being culled again. Although the last few threats haven't been fulfilled I'd rather not rely on this state of affairs continuing, given the expression on Alison's face this time. I can't really believe that the Cabal would spend their time thinking of embarrassing situations to force Caroline and/or myself into just so they can publish the photos and have an excuse to give us our copy, but I'd rather not take the risk.
I suppose I'm just going to have to come clean and explain the lack of LoCs (as opposed to locks, I'm not short of them, though Caroline's keep getting shorter!) You see I'm just too busy, and not with any old unimportant stuff either.
(I can Trust you to keep this a secret, can't I, of course I can, this is the Plokta cabal I'm talking to here, well known for their discretion...). For years, whenever anybody asked me what my middle initials (P.D.) stood for, I've been telling them "Paul Drummond", and they've believed me. After all, they think, who would make up a name like Drummond for <insert name of appropriate deity here>'s sake. In fact they stand for "Powers Dangermouse"! Now you can imagine how much work keeping not one, but two secret identities going is; it's no wonder that unsubstantiated rumour about my having been frozen in the sixties caught on! Even while I've been writing this letter, Baron Greenback almost got away with another of his nefarious schemes, thwarted only by a sudden rise in the price of falafel.
And you've met the joys of Uphall, rumour has it there's an entire gaming party got lost in there once, their spirits can still be seen occasionally wandering the halls looking for the front door -- or alternatively the cellar (bet John didn't give you the key to that).
Ah, ducks. Funny things ducks. I got kind of used to them as an undergraduate, we were always very careful not to annoy them as they perambulated around the college, on the grounds that they were probably old fellows and therefore worthy of respect. (Well, only senior members of college are allowed to walk on the front lawn, and what did you always see sleeping in the middle of it?)
Must dash, Penfold's in trouble again.
I much enjoyed your friendly counterfeit of Apparatchik. Your version of Fanzine Countdown was amusing to the point that I near to laughed. Multiple snorts issued as I read the review of FNL #1. I particularly enjoyed your expression of confusion over Judith's genitalia. The humour is fragile. Future fen reading a copy of this issue, courtesy of a Memory Hole, will miss the joke. And the nature of humour is such that, if explained, Future Reader would understand the joke, but laughter would not spontaneously occur. You had to be there.
The Fake Apak would have been a source of linos for the real Apak. e.g. "Meanwhile, Mark's trousers exploded," and, "Why, it would be like killing off the Soup Dragon."
I spent far too much time on Dr. Plokta's Guide to Science Fiction. I had to keep reminding myself that the symbol of the circle with a dot in the centre was not a breast. At that rate, Clarke's The City and the Stars, assigned one large umbrella on sand, and two circles, each with a dot in the centre, would be a beach and babe novel.
Stranger in a Strange Land, and Dragonflight, are the most complex novels on the list, going by the number, and variety, of symbols assigned to each title.
I reckon she was assassinated by Interflora
Hi! The gestalt entity known as Matt&Miche has taken over the Werkhaus by ousting the previous inhabitants (SMS + Eira) in the August election. We have intercepted your organ and thought it was delicious. Please send more. SMS & Eira Latham have now been banished to the frozen wastelands of Rochdale, their parting request being for us to forward Plokta to them. No Chance!
Marcus L Rowland
I couldn't think of anything particular to say about #8, apart from "liked the duck story" and "God -- do I really look like that", so I've sent you some moose memorabilia instead.
I'm not a natural letter of comment writer, or writer of anything else for that matter, so this will be brief. I enjoy Plokta a great deal, its withdrawal from my life would be a bad thing. Since I like to avoid those bad things that I can, an attempt at bribery is about to take place. From an outsider's perspective you need four things to continue producing Plokta: --
Ian continues to improve, except for the occasional out-of-stomach experience. Should be right by Christmas. [Well, we certainly hope so. But will he be able to play the violin afterwards?]
I wonder if Sue (Mason) would like to swap one of the knitted Clangers for one of the felt ones I make? Is it a deal?
Crap cats: We have a brain damaged white cat. Any physical contact (patting, kicking, etc.) is taken as affection but she is so nervous that she runs away from everything. She has a habit of running into walls, people, etc. while running away from something else. She doesn't know how to play and never did. She does get under the mats in the hallway where she gets stepped on if we aren't paying attention.
The recent account of how lots of male ducks wickedly converge on a sole female reminded me of something, but I couldn't think what. Then it suddenly hit me -- it was just like a Friday night disco at Imperial College, where dozens of male physicists and engineers and mathematicians all sadly dance around two or three females.
Dr. Plokta went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain
He stepped in a puddle
Right up to his middle
And the batteries on his portable computer,
mobile phone and digital camera all short-circuited
and electrocuted him.
Do I win five quid? [No. But we'll send you the next issue. How's that?]
PLOKTA doesn't work in real life (yes, I had one once. I've probably filed it in a 'safe place' for later). Damn thing just freezes up and sits there like an inert lump. The computer, not me. Maybe both. It's now consigned to the Superfluous Technology pile (read graveyard) in the spare room while an even more superfluous box -- I'd quote you the specs, but I don't want to drool all over this new keyboard -- takes over.
Re. Buck Coulson in Vol. 2 No. 3. You can still get Black Flag bug killer, at least in Texas where they probably have few qualms about anything less than a tactical nuclear (or should that be 'nukular' as they insist on pronouncing it?) strike. They also have very big bugs. And lots of them. Most of which bit me during my first two weeks so that I swelled up to look like my arms had been grafted on from Michelin Man. Black Flag's roach killer TV ad is also very funny.
Albertson's supermarket also had an offer on Raid at 44ó each with an attached coupon. In three varieties. "What have we got in our apartment -- moths and crickets, ants and beetles, or wasps, hornets and mosquitoes?" "Just about everything." We got one of each, which got a strange look from the checkout girl as we lined up an armoury of some $10 of assorted toxins for $1.30 and a handful of tear-off coupons.
Actually, the real problem lay outside, in a cunningly designed external light that attracted every flying insect north of the Rio Grande, and an entire contingent of black beetles who had made a nest inside the exterior wall cladding, all the way up to the first floor. Yuk.
I worked briefly at an Indianapolis company that had a pond with ducks among their landscaping, but basically I grew up regarding ducks as a possible dinner. Shoot one, bring it home and turn it over to Mom for preparing. Once I shot one, and -- surprise! -- it fell in the lake. I had my two Cocker Spaniels with me, so I ordered them to go get it. They looked at the not-quite-freezing water, looked at each other and said, "Are you kidding?" (Yes, I understand Dog, at least part of the time.) Ended up walking around the lake, back to the house to get the key for the boat, lugged down the oars to the lake, rowed out and collected the duck. The dogs happily came along; they didn't mind water at all, as long as they weren't in it. The rule was that if I shot anything edible, it was to be retrieved and eaten; there was no money to be wasted on just shooting up the landscape. (And I still have no regard for "sport" hunters).
Actually, the guess at latitude and longitude was reasonably accurate. My address means that I live 5.00 miles north and 2.677 miles west of the highway intersection in Hartford City. (Yes, the highway intersection). As I recall, L. Sprague de Camp also inquired about latitude and longitude when we first moved here.
I received a fanzine recently, which is a really excellent hoax version of Plokta. At first glance, it would appear to be an issue of Plokta, with a hoax wrapper of a truly well done version of Apparatchik on the front and back, with just the right sort of writing style to be a true issue of that fanzine. And inside is something which I, at first glance, thought read exactly like an issue of Plokta -- the interesting articles, the digital photos -- all designed to make me think it was the usual, high quality fanzine I've come to expect.
But I counted -- it has two staples, and a two column layout. And since the editorial stance of Plokta has clearly been that the sum of the columns plus staples must be five, then this issue must clearly be one of the finest double hoaxes I've ever seen, and somebody must really have your style copied perfectly.
Good luck with identifying the impostor.
For the last time: No, I am not a "hoax". "Frohvet" is a pen name. If you accepted the word of certain other persons that I was a "hoax", that would be your problem and none of mine.
I wish I could write like you guys. My dictionary gives "guillemot" as a noun, a type of bird. It would be interesting to know how it became a verb (and what it means). Then I would have some idea whether it's a good thing or a bad thing that you're "not guillemotting each other". [For how it became a verb, you'd better ask Claire & Mark -- I understand it's a popular dance in Croydon]
If, as Peter Wareham suggests, an email LoC is an Ewok then I suppose the LoC I sent 4 P's 1-3 was a Flock. Which reminds me, when do I get my floppy disk back? [!!]
"Return of the living room." Reminds us of what we found when we moved in @ this house. 1 wall -- reproductions of Folies Bergere posters of the 1890's, reduced in size & predominately brown, 3 -- pink & white Regency stripe NOT us! Strip became the order of the day. Result -- total of 6 layers of wallpaper, only the top layer unpainted -- some more than 1ce!! We also found a window. This caused us 2 check a similar alcove in the kitchen, & yes indeed -- this had been boarded over, 2!!! Interestingly, both overlooked next door's garden (which is y we hadn't noticed 'em b4), but neither was fitted with obscured glass. The windows have now been replaced twice and 1 is now opaque glass. No, we don't know why only 1.
Anent John Harvey's letter in P5. Speaking as a member of the Royal National Rose Society, I would umbly suggest that most people prefer looking @ plant genitalia 'cos they, in the case of the vast majority of species, look & smell much nicer than the human variety often does.
Sorry 2 have 2 tell you this, Steve, but ur scanner -- reader -- ai software is n b g. Any intelligence, human or otherwise, who thinks that any E F R story can be categorised as mindless violence has got 2 b viewed as being VERY SERIOUSLY @ fault, & calls in2 question all its other valuations.
When I first got the zine out of the envelope, all I could see was RATCHIK, and I thought, he's never sent it to me before, and then, hold it, he stopped publishing it! What is this? As soon as I saw PLOKTARATCHIK, I nearly fell off my chair, and this was my intro to Plokta 8, and ta. Well done! More comments follow...
I have read elsewhere that hot on the heels of the last issue of Apparatchik, Andy Hooper has started a new zine called The Jezail. You won't get any explanations out of me, for I haven't got a clue. I haven't got an issue, either, and probably, neither will you... Lesley Reece assures me that once she gets a zine on the go, I will get an issue. I am obviously suffering from Seattle fanzine withdrawal symptoms.
TAFF... I'll probably never run for TAFF because I never learn when the nominations open or close, and I'll never have the money or get the nominations. With that bit of whining out of the way, my support would run towards Tom Sadler, for he lives closest to where I live. It's not the greatest of reasons, but it's the one I'll stick to.
On paper fanzines being better than e-zines... spot on. E-zines are there if you want them, if you can find them, and response to them is usually the same length as a typical e-mail message... a few lines, and not much else. Give me a paper fanzine any day, something I can hold, read at my leisure and return to any time I please, something physical, something someone meant for me to have, as a gift. I have no e-mail access at home (although I can be reached indirectly at yvonne_penney @email.whirlpool.com), so my comments on e-zines I cannot access may be spurious, but I am happy to get those paper fanzines, and I think I'd prefer them. For the record, Tommy Ferguson has quit Canada to go back home for family reasons, but plans to return to North America, probably to Seattle.
Ah, you've met Steven Brust... he's been to Toronto conventions three times now, and each time, he's weirder, quieter and blacker, in clothes, anyway. I think he returns to Ad Astra because he's convinced he can win back what he's lost playing poker with Mike Glicksohn. The only book of his I've been able to read is To Reign in Hell. Oh, what fools these immortals be...
Ploktaratchick, eh? Soon to be followed (if it has not already been preceded by) such Plotkatude and the award-winning Plotkawings, perhaps?
Of course, you could always go for dead obvious stuff like Plokta Doolittle -- the issue featuring articles on animals and related topics. You could even be really original and do animals in SF (the beast-people from HG Wells' Island of Dr Moreau, or the undermen from PMA Linebarger's Instrumentality of Mankind and Norstrilia stories). Or you could do animals in Fandom, covering the humour value of such as wombats or goats (see Croydon). You could pull in Robert Newman on Pro-Celebrity Goat Sodomy (he seems to be an expert on everything else, so he's bound to know about this) and Rev. Jim de Liscard on that jolly game for all Fankind "Looking for Wombats Again, Vicar?" (which involves him exploring various cleavages and skirts -- see Wombats go Waaaaa in Bananawings 7...). Then there's the instantly banned Harvey Plokta which starts off with an appreciation of Christopher Fowler's Spanky, raises the subject of a writer based in the south sea islands, whom we probably can't name for legal reasons, and finally on to an organisation we definitely can't name because of what Rev. Jim says when we do.
I think that's enough slander for one paragraph. On to the next.
Yes, but are you now or have you ever been a Guillemot? That's the sort of thing we (might) want to know.
The Albert Hall as a con venue does have its merits. I can even foresee the staff saying afterwards: "These SF Fans... They drink like it's the Last Night of The Proms, and do less damage than the attendees at the Spinsters' Temperance Tea-Dance."
Convocation sounds pretty good. Lots of fans, silly hats, exploding trousers and at least one GURPS player, unless I'm very much mistaken. I suspect you haven't been playing in the same sort of games I have. It's a pretty good day if my compatriots try more than three keys in three doors before resorting to the Spells of Mass Destruction/Demolition Charges/The Portable Plasma Cannon... Never mind, it all worked out in the end. You did have a good time, I take it?
Ducks, eh? Wonder what they're doing, at night in the park... Reading pornography, smoking cigars, perhaps? You could always try throwing oranges at them. If all else fails, it's out with the Purdy. If they haven't done anything wrong, people wouldn't keep shooting them... The Sinister Ducks knew. [Quite right. Forcing old ladies to feed them some bread, natch.]
Can I plug L***** L***con II as well, whilst I'm here? [No. Ed]
With that, I think I shall have to go and have a lie down (or a very large drink -- probably both)
Plokta on-line seems only a matter of time. [www.moose. demon.co.uk/plokta -- Ed.] You must have flaming, talking, interactive graphics to set you apart from the solid inert blocks of text already out there.
The ongoing discussion of when and where for the next UK Worldcon fascinates me. I think you need to get away from the traditional overcrowded bank holidays in large metropolitan or tourist areas. I'd go for the off-season at scores of bed and breakfasts in some charmingly remote town.
Dr Plokta -- Master of Disguise
Attending Corflu ruined any chances of my loccing Plokta! before this. Take my word for it, there is nothing like a six-week round trip to ensure your day to day schedule is put out of joint for months afterwards. Of course setting up your own business doesn't help either. Mind you, I might have made more of an effort if, after making assurances about the high probability of fanzines handed out at Attitude: the Convention being locced, Pam had put up a notice to this effect in the bar. Then the assembled masses could have made a conscious choice about whether to live up to her claims or drown the thought in alcohol.
Which would have been an appropriate choice given Steve's piece on Buzz. It puts me in mind of my old mate Frederick the Great who apparently preferred to make coffee using champagne rather than water. He had this idea that if he could eliminate sleeping he would get more done and drinking enormous amounts of coffee was one way to achieve this. Why he thought champagne should be included I have no idea though I suspect it to be a combination of snobbery and dislike of polluted water. Given the different effects caffeine and alcohol have upon the brain I wonder if Fred wasn't the epitome of the wide-awake drunk. Depends on how much alcohol remained in the coffee after it was prepared I guess. Still, it makes you wonder how much the politics of Central Europe might have been affected by those humble drugs and what might have happened if Fred had had access to amphetamine.
Probably ended up as disturbed as Buck Coulson must be to describe a dog as "marvellous". Animals that believe their genitals taste good might be described as many things but certainly not marvellous in my book.
On the other hand marvellous is a word I would use to describe the BBC coverage of the British general election, which I was able to watch on pay-tv. Partly because I felt they did quite a good job of it and partly because I find election watching is a great spectator sport. I'm not able to fully enjoy Australian elections given they decide who will be governing me for the next X number of years. Watching somebody else's election however is enormously entertaining as not only doesn't the result directly affect you but the personalities and issues are nice and fresh. After spending something like eight hours watching the British election I came to the conclusion it was a pity I couldn't do this more often. I certainly would have been interested in repeating the experience for the French and Indian elections.
The only fly in the ointment for me was the mishandling of the computer graphics, something I'm used to the ABC flubbing as well. Now all I want is something nice and simple which will show the relative position of all the major parties at any given moment. Instead we were given something big, flashy, and next to useless. Skyscrapers bursting up out of a map of Britain really didn't provide me with a clear picture of anything. However, I was interested to note that the explainer of said graphics had no other visible role in the coverage. This is the usual ABC coverage as well and I sometimes wonder if the job isn't some sort of punishment for somebody the rest of the coverage crew can't stand. [Hardly. This is Peter Snow, national graphics legend, we're talking about, after all.] Certainly some of the presenters the ABC have used over the years are blokes I would rather tie up and throw into a swimming-pool of their own bullshit than ever work with.
I would recommend Alison [presumably Weston] consider threatening the above to those who like to bring up the subject of that old cover of Speculation. Mind you if it's any comfort Alison you do look very cute in that photo. It must also be pointed out that it could have been worse. You might want to ask Skel sometime what botting the nunch means and how this relates to his daughter Bethany.
Speaking of embarrassment, if the back-cover photo on the latest Plokta is anything to go by then I certainly am sexually attracted to chipmunks. You might like to warn Michael and Dave that I'm bringing a BIG roll of duct tape on my next visit to the UK.
We Also Heard From:
Lois McMaster Bujold (Three black telephones, huh?), D
West (I was idly musing on the gender identification problems of
persons named Pat or Chris), Bobby MacLaughlin &
James Crook (life is too bloody busy), Felix Cohen
(my father will be at Novacon, and my plans to drink the bar out
of beer have thus been thwarted), Dave Langford (I notice from
the foot of page one that your cabal, like Peter Hamilton and the Attitude
troika, has a special place in its heart for the greatest critic of our
times. Or at any rate, in its liver), Mike Ford (if it
was white wine then it would only have been because the red had run out),
Andy Leighton (I am a masochist like that), Pamela
Boal (Floating Fan 2 should have been online by now),
KIM Campbell (Next UK Worldcon™), John
Dowd (whose LoC was written with LoCoscript) Sheryl
Birkhead (nice to see Joe Mayhew's art gracing your pages),
Mae Strelkov (enclosing a flyer for astonishing holidays on
their ranch), Norman Beswick (who is ill and would probably
appreciate you sending him your fanzine [16/8/98: Sadly, Norman died shortly
after this issue of Plokta was originally published -- Plokta
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