Issue 20
Volume 5 Number 4
August 2000

In This Issue

 •  Contents
 •  Cover Illustration
 •  Editorial
 •  The Hills Are Alight
 •  Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft
 •  Your Chance To Predict The Future
 •  Needs A Gantt Chart, Vern
 •  Lokta Plokta
 •  A Few Stills from the Ploktacam

Email Plokta
Send us your comments.
The main index to all Plokta web projects.

Plokta Index
List of all issues of Plokta online.

The Plokta News Network. News and views for SF fandom

[Plokta Online]

Lokta Plokta

Art Widner

Hey, all roit, Babe: Tonnes of thanx for the perfect directions & of course, the CD its very own self. Looks like itll keep me off the streets for some time. Also gracias for the paper version v5n3. I figured out the strange hieroglyphs on p3 were Wingdings, wch i have in my font file & the message is "Oh my god! They've killed Mike! The bastards!" However, i have no idea what Mike it myt refer to, or who the bastards myt be

Nick Mills

If you do try playing it as an audio CD and run it backwards, you discover that Dr Plokta has replaced the rest of you by simulacra. Don't believe me?

Here's a clue for you all: the Walrus is George.

Dale Speirs

Plokta April 2000 received and read. I didn't know the Japanese bound their periodicals Hebrew-style as was Plokta A2K. I have a number of Japanese aquarium periodicals, all of which are the normal lefthand binding style.

Fannishness, like all the other hobbies, is being swamped by so many other things to do. Where are the non-passive kids going who forty years ago might have published an SF fanzine? They are becoming punk rockers, for example, who have always made a big thing out of staging basement shows, how to run your own band, produce your own recordings, and publish a musiczine. They get into direct action, and SF is pretty bland compared to the thrill of being in a riot at a WTO meeting. They hack with computers, or, the latest fad, go infiltrating (exploring hotel back rooms, storm sewer pipes, or any other place you're not supposed to be ).

I now believe that, paradoxically, introducing people to the Papernet and traditional SF fandom (clubs, DIY conventions, etcetera) will have to be done via the Internet. That is the first place newbies will go to find information. Welcoming new fans via chapbooks or club tables at events simply won't work anymore, as people are now conditioned to do a search on the Web if looking for something. They won't know where to find local clubs or zines using old-fashioned methods such as asking the reference librarian at the local public library, Even apas now have their own Web ring.

Alison Freebairn

Thanks to Ken MacLeod, who I thoroughly enjoyed meeting again and who I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to. The same goes for Marianne. Although I must stress that Marianne was the only one of the two who I gave whirlygigs to. She has ruined my hard-bitten reputation but it was worth it.

Alison Freebairn and Marianne

Paul Campbell

Thanks for starting me on the long, downward slide by sending the ish & bits. Actually I suppose it's restarting, but seeing as how my first time round was when Tarzan was editing Moorcock Weekly or whatever maybe my gafia can be forgotten.

So, maybe this unreadable'll keep me in touch at least long enough to figure out whokta fokta plokta means….

Harry Warner ,Jr.

The April issue of Plokta arrived safely via Zurich. It has blood on one page, but the Swiss agents aren't to blame. My electric shaver went bad the other day, I forgot how to use my safety razor without cutting at least one finger, and I broke open the wound when I removed this issue from its envelope for locking purposes. Maybe in some future century fandom will need a locker and will close one from the part of me that partly obscures Giulia's narrative about how a modern young woman has trouble keeping her good name, at least on a passport.

I don't want to take sides in this impending conflict over static cling. But I do find myself wishing someone could tell me if these newfangled dusting devices that use static electricity to do their thing are safe around electronic equipment and tapes [Dr Plokta reckons that tapes will be fine but sensitive electronics might not be too happy]. I've been tempted to buy one in the hope that it would end the way my receiver cabinet and the tube on my television set reach out and grab every dust particle in the house within seconds after I've wiped them clean with an unelectric piece of cloth.

Fortunately, there is nothing else in fandom quite like the disturbing feeling of sadness and pleasure that occurs when I read excellent prose with the knowledge that its creator has recently died. Mae could have written a book about life in Argentina and every page from her on that subject is only partial compensation for what we don't have. I hope all her notes on language evolution somehow survived her passing and eventually find their way to someone who will develop them further.

I also read with great interest the material about beds and mattresses. Somehow, mattresses seem to be growing into an increasing role in both fannish and mundane life. Several stores in this area have opened with mattresses as their only or principal stock in trade. Twice a year, Hagerstown encourages its burghers to put unwanted stuff onto the sidewalk for hauling away by municipal trucks, and you can hardly find a sidewalk at those times because it's a poor house that hasn't put out at least two or three mattresses. Mattresses have come into attention in several United States fanzines recently. In one article, there was the claim that a mattress should be replaced every second year. I'm somewhat behind that schedule, because the one I'm now using is at least forty years of age and it would still be excellent if it weren't for the three inch depression near the center and the innersprings that have become outersprings.

Steelhead was much fun to read, if hard to believe according to the quick publication feat described in Plokta. But it made me feel uncomfortable when it spoke so much about fondness for salmon. That's because I videotaped from a television showing The Silver Horde, a 1930s movie with a cast of thousands, almost all of whom are salmon who meet a gruesome fate. I wanted to have the movie on tape because of the presence of Jean Arthur, one of the few non-salmons who figure in the events depicted.

John Berry

Sorry to have to inflict my rather attractive handwriting on you…it's rather sad but, in another way most encouraging because my wife and I have just purchased an iMac and hope soon to be on-line. So why my gorgeous handwriting? Well, last week we creosoted the garden shed-the fumes are supposed to be excellent if you are chesty. I wasn't but I am now.

When the iMac and printer arrived, the only place where they (and our newly acquired desk, duly constructed by yours truly with only minimal injury) could be sited was in my den-we do live in a small pensioners' bungalow.

"The only place to put your typer and other office material is in the shed," observed my wife.

I did point out it had just been creosoted, but accepted the fumes were good for my chest.

Obviously this is being written in the lounge - it's pouring with rain, and on occasion, when typing in the shed, I've heard little mouse-like scuffles near my feet.

Marty Cantor did observe in a lettercol that I was an 'old phfart' because I was not on line, but we have taken the decision to eventually become part of E-mail fandom, instead of communicating by Snail Mail, but the present essential requirement is to get the bloody iMac operational. When my wife (as she frequently does) rings the Helpline, you can plainly hear doors banging as helpers are leaping over desks to escape having to explain things to her. At least, we've got the printer to work, but www, at the moment, is just a dream. We cannot work it all out.

Patrick Lawford

I am currently getting more of an idea about how much work goes into Plokta. The house share I live in is also home to the editorial team behind a new SF magazine (Science Fiction World, first issue due in the new stands at the end of May). The scale is a bit up from Plokta of course, and the deadlines have a little more bite, but I think a lot of the same problems (another writer failing another deadline, variable paper/print quality, the e-mail download on the fritz again, you want this when?!?) are common to the two endeavours. Will probably say more about this in future, watching the filthy pros is always an education.

Jo Walton

And what do we do if our copy doesn't work?

[Send it back, there was one batch of 6 that don't work]

Mine doesn't work. Emmet's does. Sasha has done nothing but read Emmet's every time we've been in the house for the last few days, but as Emmet is going to be taking it back to Cambridge tomorrow this is likely to become a problem.

Sasha thinks the CD is wonderful, especially Sue's illos, almost all of which I've been dragged over to Giant Ant to see, especially the one which he thinks is supposed to be his parents. ("SF Fans, a breeding pair." Errr, Sue...?) And he's now playing with Paint Shop Pro making his very own fanzine cover, though goodness knows if he'll write the inside.

Ben Conable

My name is Ben Conable and I am a film production designer working in New York. My web search for moose crossing signs turned up your site and its moose hazard. As it is the only moose crossing sign I have yet found I wondered about its origin. Seems strange to talk to someone in England (where, I believe, there are no moose) about an American road sign, but there it is. Do you have any other pics of moose crossing signs? Perhaps in their natural environment? Thanks for anything you can tell me.

Ben Conable (again)

Thank you for your prompt response. The moose lives on. I used a translation algorithm and came up with this slightly elegant moose in house American style sign that will appear in the forthcoming movie Super Troopers, about a renegade band of Vermont State Highway patrolmen.

the sign of the moose

Brad W Foster

I've missed the episode of Iron Chef where the secret ingredient is inflatable beef, but I'll keep an eye out for it!

James Allen

Years ago I was involved with con running and our con Conjunction had a progress reports named Kipple. We were into Phil K. Dick and irony in almost equal amounts.

Having just moved a couple of months ago I find that a frightening amount of interesting SF stuff from ten or more years ago is now kipple that I wish to get rid of. I have recycled some of the books as paper, but there is so much to sort through still. And why is it that things I need, like the key to the gate lock disappear, but I can always find a Piers Anthony novel?

David B. Wake

Thanks for the latest issue and the COVER DISC. Looks good, if only my setup would stop putting up the message "Would you like to view this exciting web page in NotePad-Yes, No, Cancel".

It reminds me that, as Chairbeing of the Birmingham University SF Society a position first held by one Steve Davies of this parish, my great success was producing a magazine with a COVER DISC shaped beermat. The cover itself was of a scantily clad female with all her explicitly erogenous zones covered by the said COVER DISC shaped beermat in the bottom left corner. It was quite a tricky posture for the model to contort herself into, I can tell you. Beneath the COVER DISC shaped beermat was, of course, a box explaining that you should have a COVER DISC shaped beermat.

I have searched the contents of your COVER DISC and discovered that I've never been to a Science Fiction convention. Or alternatively I don't exist. Or do I go to conventions, it's all a hazy blur. Perhaps I do, but when there I deliberately avoid you. Or one of you is my secret identity. Or I am one of your secret identities. If I am, which one would I choose?


Whoops: The missive you were kind enough to print Re: Beer Consumption at Cons suffered an erroneous word. Rather than: "Get a statement of how much beer was drunk at a convention from The Organisers".

It should've read "Get a statement of how much beer was drunk at a convention from The Hotel" This, I am sure you'll agree makes a curious and unlikely sentence into something that may well be of some use.

I have a dreadful suspicion this is my typing error.

Dave Weingart

Well, a 2 hour drive through heavy traffic and steady drizzle from jury service home, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but an envelope from the Plokta Cabal (OK, well it didn't say it was from the Plokta Cabal anywhere on it, but I get little enough mail from Europe that it was a pretty safe bet that it was from the Plokta Cabal) and there inside is the <plokta.con> ish, with a cover that pretty much tells me that I'm really annoyed to have not been able to get to it — having the first two items on the top of the page be sex and beer...! American cons don't seem to do that any more).

Paul Barnett

It took me a hell of a long time to work who it was - labelled just as "unknown" and placed between Diana Wynne Jones and Rowan Bell in one of the Eastercon '99 photos on the Plokta CD. Could it be... the woman I married? And on... what passed for her honeymoon?

She herself is stoic about it. "I'm perfectly happy that people don't recognize it's me in such a bloody abysmal photograph," she said with a broad puke, adding with typical Yankee disarming candour, "But I plan to sue anyway."

Joseph Major

This morning's newspaper contains an article on how the really hip executives are discarding their pagers and cell phones. However, not all is lost. The article described how people would take calls during therapy sessions on how to reduce stress from being on call all week, what they call 24/7. So wherever you are, there is beep beep beep. SF has been often pronounced dead, beginning when Hugo himself was ousted from Amazing Stories (now a division of Hasbro) and repeatedly since then, including by an entire Worldcon. But then Uncle Hugo thought that scientifiction was dead because this new young whippersnapper Campbell was blue-pencilling out his beloved "As you know..." paragraphs, and so on, as everyone confuses change with death.

But what is the point of "non-addictive" corflu? Half the usefulness of it is sniffing the bottles.

Eric Lindsay

Thanks for the programme issue. It has always sounded like a great, fun con to attend. I am delighted that in your hitech world you didn't need badge numbers, but has anyone complained about the branding with bar codes?

Lloyd Penney

I would imagine by now that Sue is already roaming the Altered States of Umerica, visiting fans where she can. No idea if she was planning to come to Canada at all? If I'd been able to get this zine earlier, we might have been able to extend a little hospitality. Don't TAFF winners ever visit Canada? We've had all our shots, and we have better beer than does America.

The pictures of Tommy Ferguson as the local Playboy bunny has provided no end of merriment for us. I've got to print up some pictures and take them to our own First Thursday to disrupt the entire proceedings. I don't recall if there are more pictures like this one on the CD-ROM. Here's to Tommy! we toast, and Tommy replies, I'm sorry, that's not my table.

Taral Wayne

Fanzines on disk? Does that mean neos in the future will have to have lap-tops to read their zines on the bus? Will the computer-illiterate be laughed out of fandom, or simply be unable to follow the action once paper is obsolete? Maybe not, I found that both files for Babes were either corrupt or had an unintelligible header, and wouldn't open. I suspect glitches will always plague the digital medium, though I suppose also that most people will find the low percentage acceptable as long as you can return your copy of Sonic Youth to the store when you luck out. But I doubt there's a likelihood that fanzines can be similarly guaranteed.

Good cover, though I don't understand it.

And I liked the cartoon of Rupert. I imagine he thought it was hell having no genitals under those check pants. (At least not many Teddy Bears do.)

Milt Stevens

The CD-ROM which accompanies Plokta #19 is truly impressive. It is the greatest innovation in fanzine publishing since the discovery that slices of bologna could be run through a ditto machine. The CD-ROM is about the same size as a slice of bologna, and completist fanzine collectors won't have to store the CD-ROM in the freezer.

Ken MacLeod espouses a mixture of libertarianism and socialism? That sounds like the Kentucky fried sushi approach to politics. It does rather sound like he is holding two diametrically opposed views simultaneously. I've met a few people in fandom like that. You can usually just lean them in a corner, and they will argue with themselves.

The letter from SMS certainly shows that fandom has come full circle. We used to try to convince hotels we were perfectly respectable people despite appearances to the contrary. Now you have to convince the hotels you are really a bunch of sots who will drink everything in the place including the contents of the goldfish pond. Too bad breweries don't have things like the airline frequent flyer programs. You could cite that 92% of the members of your con were enrolled in various frequent boozer programs. The other 8% of your members weren't tall enough to see over the bar yet.

We Also Heard From

Bridget Bradshaw (Enclosed are a couple of photos of gerbils eating the von Däniken book), Dave Langford (Victor seemed very pleased that I went to his panel about the desperate need to fix the fan Hugos, i.e. demolish Langford and plough salt into the ruins), Pete Tyers (Help! Please send guru!), Karen Pender-Gunn (the kipple fairy has struck), Kim Huett (with an apparently incomprehensible rant), Ned Brooks (I was croggled to see the CD-ROM!), Mary Kay Kare (I'm still too drunk to actually look at the contents of the CD), Sue Jones (worth more than a casual gawp), Jackie Duckhawk, Irwin Hirsh (I've meant to loc a fair number of the fanzines which have arrived here in the past year or so), Rodney Leighton (my repugnance at the description and depiction of booze consumption has reached a ridiculous level) and Teddy Harvia (with a CoA).

Previous Article
Next Article