Cloud Chamber 5
March 1980

Would you believe CLOUD CHAMBER 5 from Dave Langford, 22 Northumberland Ave, Reading, Berks, RG2 7PW? Of course you wouldn't, since those who've been counting my apazine appearances will already have realized that the next one should be CC4. It was. CC4 appears later in this mailing, since in a final spurt of apathy I made the last page a mailing label; though, of course, the wonderful Collator may have chosen to ignore this and place it earlier, in which case CC5 is all the more remarkable for being my second zine in FEAPA Mailing Number One (or 'Mailing Omega', as we are referring to it). Anyway: I feel guilty about having cheated over CC4 – other people's writing and art, space given to a mailing label, large type, woffle for the rest – and would like to add a certain extra something. In elite type. What else, for FEAPA?

MAILING COMMENTS Perhaps not really, but it's tempting to throw myself out of FEAPA in as many ways as possible. Already I've printed countless extra copies of CC4 for distribution outside FEAPA (a few, anyway), not to mention withholding dues, missing the deadline (with this zine) and revealing what FEAPA stands for. Perhaps later I'll do a postmailing .... But I've just run off Joe Nicholas's Napalm in the Morning (a sufficiently voluminous effort to make me wonder whether after all there might be enough enthusiasm to keep FEAPA going: over to you, Joe) and am inspired to recall my own sordid childhood and model-making activities. But I refused to have any truck with impractical nonsense like model helicopters – I wanted things which worked, and although you could get 'copters whose blades went duly round and round, they would not fly. This was not good enough. I moved over to model railways. Somewhere in my parent's attic there must be a vast deposit of Tri-Ang'/Hornby track and rolling stock in OO/HO gauge; somewhere up there must be my own attempts at putting together Airfix kits. You will understand that I was horribly dogmatic in my 'things-must-work' approach. Plastic-kit rolling stock was OK; locomotives made from such kits didn't go and were thus anathema, until I had a clever notion and made a motorized truck by slicing the bottom off a non-descript meat-truck in the appropriate gauge and gluing in a spare motor bogey (which sounds like something dangling from a cyborg D West). I thus had a truck which could shove the entire train in which it was included, no matter how ricketty the Airfix locomotive might be. Thus it was that I first displayed the kind of furtive thinking which probably indicated an incipient fan; luckily this was not widely known and the psychiatrist wasn't called. Now let me tell you about my ex-fiancee. Called Hazel, she was....

Thing at the End of Time

(An 'article' so dated and silly that I've never had the courage to use it. One quick exposure now, then oblivion. With apologies.)

Jherk looked up from his researches as Mistress Chrissie materialized from a sweetish-smelling haze at his side. "Aha," he said, abandoning his search for the mystic and forgotten Weston TAFF Report of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred. "You have come to delight in my recreations of the lost world of Fandom."

"No," said Mistress Chrissie.

Jherk waved a negligent hand. "It is all most fascinating, and obscure. The mythological aspects alone are staggering. A whole pantheon of beings like Brian and Anthony the Clockwork Piemen, and Le Petit Mal, and Richard Carl Holdstock The Man With a Thousand Names .... And as for the language!" He fiddled with a power ring, and a tardy mailman offered a neatly folded copy of Foulers Modern English Usage. "'Shit shitty shit. Fuck shit fuck.' I haven't yet mastered the nuances."

Mistress Chrissie was peering idly at a number of ishes (and even yczes) swimming around in a small pub. "That is writing on those ishes, isn't it?" she murmured. "But why is it so tiny?"

Jherk smiled. "It took much thought, but I've solved that problem. These 'fans' were very much smaller than everyday humans, which is why they spoke of themselves as a microcosm; the theory is proved by their literary competit-ions, in which the most despised 'fans' of each year were exiled in a craft like this."

He produced a finned, chrome-plated rocket about thirteen inches talls mounted upon a wooden base whose inscribed plaque Jherk did not remark on, since he found himself unable to translate the term 'geis'.

"But even then," he said, "there was one, a fellow called Straw or Fodder or Silage, who advocated writing too minuscule even for these tiny folk. It could have been a mystical allegory, perhaps: another text has it that Straw's words were written or microscopic fish."

"Do allegories eat small fish?" asked Mistress Chrissie with a yawn.

Jherk was now determined to impress her. "See the results of my researches in fannish mathematics!" he cried. "A thing with both magnitude and direction!" He twisted another power ring, and straightaway a writhing coalition of papers struggled from one of the nearby heaps.

"Ideative content!" it whined in a scarcely legible voice, flapping and hopping towards the horizon (which Jherk, mindful of fandom's traditional limitations, had placed within easy walking distance). At this horizon the sun could be seen setting in D. West, who had been rendered translucent to display the phenomenon.

"Existential awareness!" shrieked the vector. "Paradigmatic Weltanschauung ... my friend Brian ..." Furiously moulting, it vanished into the academic grove thoughtfully prepared for it by Jherk. From the trees came a fearful snuffling and roaring as heavyweights of the genre snapped at the intruder's epistemes.

"Poor creature," said Mistress Chrissie languidly, sampling a dish of black-currant hekto-jelly in the hope that it might be hallucinogenic.

"Don't fear for it," returned Jherk. "Even Foundation traditionally misses its prey by several months. But let me tell you of the truly fascinating anatomies I've unearthed: did you know that 'fans' had specially modified organs? There are accounts of how the sainted Bosh could consume unending pints of liquid without ever raising one to his lips, but merely toying with it awhile until it was gone (to reappear as a libation upon those he specially wished to bless). Without a doubt his finger was equipped with such an orifice as this." And Jherk showed Mistress Chrissie the dainty new sphincter set in the tip of his finger. He conjured up a pint glass in his other hands a dip of the finger and the watneys, a dilute form of water, sank slowly in the glass.

"... Are there no interesting body modifications?" inquired Mistress Chrissie, stroking Jherk fondly.

"Yes indeed," he said with pride. "There is the very mark of Fandom itself: look upon this fannish organ!" He tore away his loincloth of tastefully mottled slipsheets to reveal his new, fannish, equipment.

Mistress Chrissie gave it a long, critical appraisal. "The stripes are intriguing," she said at length, "But what is the purpose of the propeller?"

AFTERTHOUGHTS: No ... I don't know what came over me. Suddenly one evening I came over all silly and the above was the result. Dated, as I said. You may now tear it out and burn it.

Now to correct various false rumours put about by base Langford in CC4, somewhere else in this very mailing (remember?). Taff-Ddu/Twll-Ddu 17 is at the time of writing just about finished, and is bigger than expected. It comes to 30 sides with virtually no free space: all solidly packed with writing and artwork by me and Jim Barker, not always in that order. Final price is 60p or 75p by post (US probably $1.50); all proceeds to TAFF; and it will first be officially available at Albacon. Remember, because this is a TAFF fundraiser the normal TD trades etc will be suspended: send money at once! TD18 will ensue and be available in the usual way ... real soon now.

How about finishing with a Poetic Statement? Should annoy people.

Those planet-busting Sci Fi men
Know chastity's allure:
Their strength is as the strength of ten
Because their parts are pure.

Hoping you are the same