Issue 23
Volume 6 Number 2
May 2001

In This Issue

 •  Contents
 •  Cover Illustration
 •  Editorial
 •  An Appraisal of the Utility of a Chocolate Teapot
 •  Referee's Comments
 •  Bridget Plokta's Diary
 •  The Simulacra
 •  Lokta Plokta
 •  Connie Goon
 •  Steve Jeffrey
 •  Dale Speirs
 •  Marcus L. Rowland
 •  Fred Lerner
 •  Tibs
 •  D West
 •  Sheryl Birkhead
 •  Jackie Duckhawk
 •  Terry Jeeves
 •  Eric Lindsay
 •  Steve Stiles
 •  Kari
 •  Dave Weingart
 •  Milt Stevens
 •  SKEL
 •  George Flynn
 •  Cheryl Morgan
 •  SMS
 •  Joseph T Major
 •  Alan Sullivan
 •  Gary Farber
 •  Steve Jeffrey (again)
 •  Martin Morse Wooster
 •  KRin Pender-Gunn
 •  Rodney Leighton
 •  Cardinal Cox
 •  Lloyd Penney
 •  WAHF
 •  All Your Catfood Are Belong To Us
 •  Census Results

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[Plokta Online]

Lokta Plokta

Connie Goon

Dear Advertiser:

Have you considered adding Analog Science Fiction & Fact and Asimov's Science Fiction magazines to your media schedule?

Our Science Fiction magazines are excellent direct response publications, which will help increase your target market of buying consumers.

Steve Jeffrey

It was worth a pewter rocket for that cover. Look, you can even see the strings (obviously not the digitally remastered version).

Is the Börner V finger slicer and dicer what is, or used to be, known as a mandoline? I used to have one of these, but didn't like the taste of grated fingernails it tended to give everything. (You could get away explaining it as desiccated coconut in curries, but hardly in hot pot).

I have to say, my first reaction to The Times' outing of Glenn Brown's "The Loves of Shepherds 2000" as a copy of Tony Robert's cover for Double Star was uncontrolled mirth, made even better when Elizabeth Billinger showed us her birthday present at the pub: a paint-by-numbers photocopy of the picture and a set of coloured pens bagged up as a ‘paint your own Turner Prize' set.

I still remember Tracy Emin (I think), challenged about the 30 seconds it must have taken her to arrange a few vegetables on an old mattress, arguing that the worth of art is not about technique but the original inspiration.

So where does that leave Brown? His work seems to be about technique (or possibly the faking of technique). As for your comparison of Brown with artists like Fat Boy Slim, much depends on how you feel about DJ sampling and remixing (and perhaps, to these ears, what chemical state you happen to be in at the time). But I don't think the comparison really holds anyway. In fact what Brown is doing is more akin to a tribute band; he doesn't sample/steal so much as painstakingly recreate. (In the case of ‘Loves of Shepherds'/Double Star I could insert a gratuitous pun about ‘cover versions' here, but I won't.)

Whether he goes as far as someone like Borges' Pierre Menard, who devoted his life to exactly recreating (and paradoxically improving) Cervantes' classic Don Quixote, is open to question. I suspect not; Brown is about recreating the appearance, even if it leads him into odd avenues, like using a fine brush to paint the appearance of impasto. I find that quite surreal, and details like that made me reconsider my immediate assessment that what Brown was doing with ‘Shepherds' was akin to, if not actually, plagiarism. In fact what he's done with that painting is perhaps more akin to something like Vaughn Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis (though not as extreme as what Coltrane does with My Favourite Things). Though it would, I think, have been fun and distinctly postmodern if Brown had gone through and out the other side of a charge of plagiarism by exactly recreating the look of the Double Star book jacket, right down to the fingermarks, scuffs and foxed corners. That would have been worthy of Menard.

Dale Speirs

Re: artist Glenn Brown plagiarizing SF paperback covers. I have a small collection of recycled covers in a similar manner, such as the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. cover depicting secret agent April Dancer, who was subsequently converted into a femme fatale on a Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine cover a number of years later. Not just a straight re-using of the artwork to save money, mind you, but an alteration of the original painting so that her U.N.C.L.E. partner was converted from a suave Englishman into a red-haired Yankee private investigator. She herself, however, was left unchanged to caress her long-barrel silenced automatic pistol in a manner that, er, … well, you get the idea.

Large flags over car dealer lots are common in Canada as well. The point of a Maple Leaf flag big enough to drape over a bungalow has always escaped me. Is someone going to rush out and buy a Ford just for patriotism? If you have two flags, are you twice as patriotic as the neighbour who has only one?

The psychology of sentient locomotives is not something frequently reported on. Indeed, one wonders where are the literature citations for suicidal cars. You know the kind, the ones from Hollywood movies, where, as soon as the vehicle swerves off the road into the ditch, it detonates like a tactical nuke.

Marcus L. Rowland

Sir: With respect to the article "Occupational Stresses of Sentient Locomotives" in your esteemed journal (vol. 6, No. 1), I must point out that it ignores important prior art: the first descriptions of these patients and their problems can in fact be found in the late nineteenth century [1] and anticipates most of the analysis in your article. The patient described, referred to as .007 (presumably an alias to protect the patient's privacy) initially suffered from an inferiority complex following verbal abuse by more experienced locomotives and rolling stock, was denigrated by his first driver and assigned to shunting work for which he was not designed, and rapidly developed symptoms of stress such as "hot boxes" and "emergency stops". Fortunately he was later able to rescue another locomotive, which relieved .007's anxieties but transferred them to the recipient of his help. As noted in your journal, it is apparent that he was also an incipient workaholic; unfortunately this case history ends before the introduction of diesel engines, so we have no way to tell if the patient would also have suffered from diesel-induced anxiety.

[1] ".007", in The Day's Work, Rudyard Kipling 1898

Fred Lerner

As a professional bibliographer myself, I can only admire Charles Carrington's method of handling a tricky indexing problem in his standard biography, Rudyard Kipling: His Life and Work (London: Macmillan, 1955). A headnote to the "Index of Kipling's Works" states that "Readers who despair of finding the story ".007" in an alphabetical index are hereby informed that there are references to it on pages 210 and 247."

The Duckworth et al. article verges upon being of professional interest to me. I produce the PILOTS database, an index to the world's literature on post-traumatic stress disorder (of which I believe I have seen more than anyone on the planet). When I see a phrase like "work-related stress" in a psychological journal my bibliographical reflexes go all atwitter. (Or they would if I were to see such a phrase at work. At home I try strenuously to avoid anything having to do with PTSD.) But I see later in the article that the sentient engines of Sodor suffer only from paranoia and agoraphobia—which places them safely out of my bibliographical remit.


Got up, got kids (well, Michael—Thomas is "self-waking") up, said goodbye to Joan (having to leave early today), got kids' breakfast, heard post, got post, opened post.

Aha! Plokta.

Michael spends some time staring at the cover art ("how to confuse a child, part 97").

Thomas demands to look, too (fend sticky fingers off cover).

I open the front page, look at page 3 bollocks, and fall about laughing.

Um yes. Steven, you have my sympathy. But it did make my morning.

D West

Thanks for issue 22. Nice cover, though I see the actual Nova is as hideous as ever. In the olden days at least the paperweight part of the award looked good. The present object resembles nothing so much as the knobblier sort of sex aid. Still, I suppose it's the thought that counts.

Speaking of doubles, the photo of Mike Scott in dark glasses suggests that if he is still in need of employment he could try a new career as a Roy Orbison impersonator.

PS if you want some more art you could take a copy of Grant Wood's ‘American Gothic' and retitle it ‘Croydon Gothic—Our Greatest Living Fanwriters'.

Croydon Gothic—Our Greatest Living Fanwriters

Sheryl Birkhead

I tried hecto out of curiosity, merly to see if I could do it—bought a "kit" (5" x7" small tray with a gelatin packet) and I did make it work…for about eight copies. But, it worked! However, what I managed to print bore no resemblance to Mae's masterpieces.

Jackie Duckhawk

I really enjoyed the article about the art exhibition and the painting by Glenn Brown. I had rather suspected that all the criticism about it was exacerbated by the fact that it was a painting with a science fiction theme. I dare say he would have been criticised if he'd exhibited a completely original painting of spaceships and planets. And seeing a real painting is nothing like seeing a reproduction.

I once had an interesting summer job counting aphids in a plant breeding institute. This is surprisingly hard work in hot weather, particularly when one makes the mistake of wearing a flowery dress and is targeted by all the bees for miles around. "Oh look, there's a pretty shrub in the middle of that sugar beet field."

Terry Jeeves

Sorry but I disagree over that cover painting—it's a rip-off. So blatant a copy one can't label it as ‘original art'. Changing colours doesn't qualify it as ‘new' or even ‘good'. Change the colours or typeface of a registered trade-mark and the lawyers would howl "infringement".

Eric Lindsay

Thank you for the weather report on page 3, now that we are about to start our journey to the U.K. Rain, rain, more rain, followed by sleet and snow. Just what we needed to know.

Jean's sister gave her mother a cyber pet for Thanksgiving. The cyber dog came with a smaller cyber pup that attempted to follow the larger one. This was less than totally successful, since they tended to slide on the carpet. The larger cyber dog had a magnetic flea that vibrated around when it latched onto the dog. The dog then sat and scratched until the flea got knocked to the floor. It was up to the human to relodge the flea.

Steve Stiles

I've seen other "fine artists" steal work from "commercial artists". There's Robert Anderson, whose "Sheena" painting/collage lifts a drawing by one of comics' rare women artists, Fiction House's Fran Hopper. And there's another, um, artist (whose name I'm blanking out on) who consistently transposes silk screened reproductions of E.C. comics artists on his murky, high-selling works, not even painting them on as Roy Lichtenstein might do. So far I've seen him swipe Jack Davis, John Craig, John Severin, and Jack Kamen (father of the "IT" inventor, Dean Kamen). All of these guys are still alive and I doubt if any of them have seen anything resembling a royalty. Anthony Roberts was paid £200 for his Double Star cover; Glenn Brown got £30,000 ($45,000) for "The Loves of Shepherds." Small wonder that Roberts is reportedly irritated and considering legal action I hope Brown gets nailed so that a precedent is established. [I still consider it analogous to musical sampling—and of course, when musicians' work is sampled the original performers do get a cut. Langford tells us that Roberts is suing, so it will be interesting to see the outcome.]


Well, you continue to do sterling work in raising my profile as an international something. (Was going to write ‘scholar', but on reflection, having great [?] thoughts on Hong Kong cinema as a spectator sport translated into Polish may not be quite that. Now I'm waiting for the photo to get linked to my departmental web page by some enterprising soul. Oh, how to be infamous.) I wonder if I can cite you for the Research Assessment Exercise? Please kindly acquire referees to vet all submissions, [done] an ISSN and a snooty attitude to people who don't wear the right kind of socks. Meanwhile, my appreciation is hereby expressed in appropriate Chinese: dou xie; nimen tai hao le.

Interesting cover. You knew, of course, that Rhapsody Angel was Captain Scarlet's girlfriend, and Harmony Angel was secretly in love with Captain Blue? Of course you did…. Now, what were you trying to tell the rest of us, I wonder?

Dave Weingart

Today, there is an envelope from (wait for it) Singapore, and I actually know someone in Singapore, and he's a brilliant filker, but couldn't figure out why he'd be sending me anything, but clearly the Tracys have a secret island base near there somewhere and it was the easiest way to get the Ploktabirds ish out.

The reminiscences of the Tate brought back some very jetlagged memories of my recent trip to Conthirteena. I'd arrived at Heathrow four hours late, and I had the choice of one museum. I decided to go for the Tate Modern. I'd heard it was really cool and it had the added bonus that I could pretend that I didn't understand any of the artwork because it didn't make sense, rather than being jetlagged and hungover.

The Tate Modern is quite the source of new decorating ideas; the two huge cranes in the Turbine Hall would make a lovely addition to any parlor and I think that some of the installation pieces would go well in my kitchen. Several groups of schoolgirls were there and they went all giggly at coming into the video exhibition that featured a naked man dancing on the screen. I'm clearly too easily amused when I'm jetlagged and hung over. [That video installation was ‘Brontosaurus' by Sam Taylor-Wood. When Dr Plokta and Captain Pedantic went to see the Tate Modern, they turned to each other and simultaneously said ‘I don't understand modern art. The small furry dinosaur in the corner is a Stegosaurus'.]

Milt Stevens

In this issue, Alison begins her new career as an art critic. If Sister Wendy can be a successful art critic, I don't see why Alison can't do it also. She just has to get into the habit. There are only three things she has to remember when being an art critic. (1) When looking at a work of art always scrunch your eyes up funny and hold both hands in a peculiar position in front of you. The hoi polloi will think you are grokking the entirety of the art. Actually, you don't have to look at the godawful thing all that much with your eyes scrunched up. (2) Be sure you know how to spell "Gestalt" and "Zeitgeist." (3) Pilfer a menu from the nearest French restaurant and throw the names of a couple of menu items into anything you say about art.

Steven Cain's description makes the Borner V chopper sound like a fascinating device. Does it come with instructions for inflicting Prussian dueling scars? I can see where a feature like that would make it very popular in Germany now that sabers are hardly household appliances anymore. It also would be a very popular device in East Los Angeles. There's an old saying in East Los Angeles. "If I like you, I cut you a leetul. If I don like you, I cut you a whole lot." You can easily understand the popularity of such a device.

In the letter column, Rodney Leighton reveals that he is a lumberjack. Presumably, he is OK.


OK, make that ‘…almost famous'. I refer of course to ‘Friends come in boxes' in Plokta 22. I was handed my copy of Plokta 22 by Eric Lindsay & Jean Weber the other week. "Respond, or Die" they said. OK, I can handle that.

I never really intended to both fail to respond and to be dropped from your circulation list. But I did, and I was. Serves me fucking right, I guess.

Anyway, Eric & Jean handed me this issue and I said "Wait a minute. We've been in that goddamn same Hobbycraft store. Sue Mason was not in residence (it not being a Saturday), but Cas & I have shopped in that very same Hobbycraft store. We may not have been there when Sue was there, but we have "Almost been famous".

We intended to go down there and have our photos taken, us and Eric & Jean, outside the Stockport Hobbycraft, but then we realised by the time we got same developed Plokta would be several years in the future and wouldn't give a Damn.

Anyway, we've been in the Stockport Hobbycraft Store, and intend to go in there again, and we don't give a monkey's how you feel about this.

George Flynn

Martin Morse Wooster's loc refers twice to Lois McMaster "Bujoid." This is either a persistent typo or describes a particularly disturbing mutation [Our apologies to Martin: it's almost certainly our crappy OCR software]

Cheryl Morgan

Enclosed one picture of a road sign found near Kevin's office in Redwood City, California.


And so,
Farewell then,
Space Station MIR.
NASA says,
2001 doesn't need an orbital station.
‘Star City, we have a problem' that was your catchphrase.

Our cottage hospital treats spacemen with fungal infections.
Dolly's mum thought you looked cozy.
The price of Freedom is eternal videos.


Joseph T Major

Terry Jeeves should be aware that the BEMs and Grays have long since abandoned old-fashioned and inefficient radio waves, and are sending out urgent messages to us in Q waves, the only serious communication medium used in the Galaxy. (I admit it would be more useful if they sent things besides "Your tail-lights are on".)


Alan Sullivan

Gosh, my response time is down to under a month! I'd do a gag about this being a record, if we weren't all fully aware that a record is a vinyl disk with a small hole in the middle, used as a non-optical medium for analogue audio recording, often black in colour.

Re: The Dozois Line: I think I will stick to being one of the undead. It's so much better when you're trolling for cute Gothettes.

Leather Goddess of Lewisham

Rigor mortis of the libation is about to set me horizontal— as usual.

Gary Farber

I'm not quite clear, though, technically, whether people should, if they're Being Proper, take [the CD-ROM] into account in voting Plokta the Hugo: it wasn't actually an issue of Plokta, was it? If not, than, in theory, it should be as irrelevant as voting for a fanzine because of a con the person(s) put on, or a song sung, or any other thing they've done. In practice, of course, this flies utterly in the face of how people actually vote; one notes the ease with which, in various categories, people can get sufficient votes to be nominated, no matter the niggling point that they've not done a lick of eligible work in the given year.

But for the record, it wasn't an actual issue, was it? I'd like to know, because I'm anal.

Steve Jeffrey

[Several issues ago, we lost a LoC from Steve Jeffery. It came to light when Alison sorted out a box of stuff in the study.]

A one hour salmon zine deserves (I'm not sure that's actually the right word, but you will probably think of another) a lox of comment.

Perplexed by the photo of the Red Wine Fairies, which I half suspect of being a bit of clever photo manipulation or else you have stumbled on an impromptu performance of a Joseph Nicholas tribute band.

Only two remote positioning controls on Steve and Giulia's whizzy techno-bed? What about the cat?

Wouldn't work for us, since we have a king-size bed that turns into two narrow 8" strips down each side with a large, heavy, spread-eagled furry lump purring contentedly away in the middle. I don't fancy being squeezed up in the night like a car crusher either because someone has been playing with the remote control.

Martin Morse Wooster

I had heard of the flap over Glenn Brown ‘sampling' the work of Tony Roberts. But when are we going to have fannish writers "sample" the great fanwriters of the past? In the dog­eat-cat struggle to have one's locs published in the mighty Plokta lettercol, think of the competitive advantage a writer might gain by throwing in a riff of Harry Warner! Or how much finer a neo's prose would be by borrowing a dash of Willis, a spoonful of Shaw, a bit of Berry! Or in a fan feud, a letterhack could appropriate the cool, cerebral voice of Ted White. The possibilities are limitless!

KRin Pender-Gunn

The envelope this time for Plokta had ‘Zurich' as the post-mark. ‘Oh good' I thought, ‘someone has opened me up a Swiss Bank account and this is some money'. No such luck, and no Swiss chocolate either, what is this world coming to?

Rodney Leighton

EBF says Sue is pissed at me for comments re the size of her tits and Alison's buddy Nic Farey says she is pissed at me for his interpretation of my TAFF comments. [Not as such. I keep seeing references to the effect that Lloyd & Yvonne were told by a TAFF administrator that they would not be suitable TAFF candidates. It seems to me astonishing that any TAFF administrator would say such a thing].

Cardinal Cox

Just checked up in the Sotheby's catalogue, Tony Roberts had six paintings for sale. He sold three of those. Night of Light, expected to reach £500-£700, sold for £517. Mesklin, expected to reach £600-£800, sold for £632. Quest 3, (a set design for Day for Night), expected to reach £700-£1000, sold for £1,725. Looks like book covers aren't what artists should be doing.

Lloyd Penney

Yvonne had a peek through this issue, and the last couple of issues, and realized there's been no George. We want to see George again! More George! More George! (I think we've made our point. Skritch him behind the ears for us. We need more info on Spooky, too.)

I'm not sure I understand the intent of the article on Glenn Brown's work. Many people would call his copying of the works of others plagiarism, but as long as Brown acknowledges that he modifies the works of others, it's plagiarism no more? I suppose that with remakes of remakes of movies and television shows, not to mention taking '60s and '70s TV shows and turning them into movies, creativity may be a thing of the past. Accidental plagiarism and total plagiarism seem to be okay now, and while partial plagiarism to any degree seems slimy. I've never pretended to understand art.

We Also Heard From

John Hertz ("the Ploktabird cover is really swell"), Max ("plokta loc coming real-soon-now"), Kim Huett, Tripe Report cards from Bruce Pelz ("Istanbul… Sullemanye Mosque, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia: …the city deserves a mosque-arrayed award."), Lilian Edwards ("What happened to my deputy Ploktoid credit, eh?"), Steve Green ("Is the Cabal considering Ploktacon v.2 yet?"), Pamela Boal ("…assaulted by household mishaps (from exploding kettles to a hole in the roof)"), Alex Slate ("I was a tad disappointed at the lack of a ‘Leather Goddesses of Academia' feature"), Jan van't Ent ("Sorry not to have sent you any <plokta.con> report"), Harry Andruschak, Brad W Foster ("You're depressed about the U.S. Presidential election? I have to live here!"), Tony Keen, E B Frohvet ("Giulia is one of the great underutilized assets of your fanzine") and moose paraphernalia from Anders Prime (cool moose sox, moose napkins), Marcus Rowland (sort of reindeer thing) and KRin (a tiny but excellent moose rubber stamp).

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