Cloud Chamber 12
May 1982

CLOUD CHAMBER TWELVE another desperate rush for FLAP from Dave Langford, 22 Northumberland Avenue, Reading, Berks, RG2 7PW, UK. 25 May 1982

Life is getting (or do I mean continuing?) extremely complicated these days: since January I've produced a handful of fanzines, fought and lost a British Eastercon bid, counted the TAFF votes (Kev Smith won), tried to sell several novel outlines with varying success, and plunged into all the horrors of house purchasing once again. It is very likely that before the next FLAP I'll be established at 94 LONDON ROAD, READING, BERKS, RG1 5AU, UK. We hope to infest this vast old (1878) crumbling (woodworm, wet rot, weevils) house as from II June, but the law's delays are as usual ensuring that the whole process moves like greased treacle. What a pity that all these things should leave me so pressed for time just when I planned to contribute a 50-page zine in reduced print to amaze you all. (Efforts to inject throbbing note of sincerity into tone fail miserably. Langford shuffles, fails to meet cynical stares, changes subject.)

(FLAP 14) AHopelessSemantic/Leigh: Can't remember whether it was this mailing or the next which included free copies of Slow Fall to Dawn (all right, I have now looked at the front covers, it was the next); the free gift was received with mixed feelings since mere days before I had bought the book for an exorbitant sum in an import bookshop. And why had I bought it? Not merely because Steve Leigh is a fascinating fanwriter: no, SFtD had actually received one of the closest things to a good review I'd met in the BSFA's Paperback Inferno, edited by Joe Nicholas! (Steve: "Joe who?" Me: "Boy, have you got a surprise coming ...") Am tempted to send copies of my own first effort, out from Arrow here on 21 June, but there are the repressive thoughts of postage costs and the possibility that it may not be any good – I've almost forgotten what the damn thing is about, now. // I have now taken to scrawling notes for mailing comments on those wonderful blank back covers provided by a generous Providence. There is still an impenetrable psychological barrier to marginal scribbling. Write? On what is practically a book?

TheBigBronzeFake/Wixon: I too heard millions of rumours about the delay in release of The One Tree; it was being said at one time that Donaldson threatened to switch publishers, only to be met with Del Rey's counterthreat that he would in that case pulp all extant copies of The Wounded Land and sit on the rights. TOT's first version was apparently as a first-person narrative from the woman's viewpoint, disliked on principle by Del Rey: as we now know, the final version is third-person and mainly from her viewpoint, which sounds like a compromise, Del Rey wanting Covenant to stay viewpoint character throughout. Perhaps apocryphal is the tale of Donaldson's rage at finding an interpolated scene in his galleys, wherein Covenant changes into mystical white robe – the editor wanting such a scene for the cover artist to illustrate in order to avoid TC's jeans and t-shirt....

Chalaza/Helgesen: Reluctant as this unbeliever is to become involved in theological disputes, my hackles didn't half rise at the statement 'God will not permit a Council to define a false doctrine'. Does this mean I've been wrong all this time about free will being one of the official doctrines? Grump, grump.

ViewFromUnderPracticallyEverybody/Loeke; Yes, I was fond of Monty Python's Ultimate Joke too ... there's a Lord Dunsany story with the same idea, 'The Three Infernal Jokes', and further back still a comic poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes about a similar lethal hilarity ('Since then I never dare to write/As funny as I can'). Aren't I boring? The text of the Python jest has been published here – only in German, of course – so this may be the last fanzine ever for German speakers among you: 'Wenn ist das nöd-schtuck git un slottermeier?' 'Ja, beyerhunt das oder die flipperwalt gershput.' Laugh? I nearly died. // Dave, you should never ask a young (ish) writer what he's written. There is the frightful danger that he may tell you. So far I'm responsible for a quarter of The Necronomicon (1978, with George Hay, Robert Turner and Colin Wilson – a sort of 'reconstruction' of Lovecraft's nonbook to which I contributed some computerized pseudo-cryptanalysis), War in 2080: TheFuture of Military Technology (1979, more or less what it sounds like, with a mi I I ion sf references), An Account of a Meeting with Denizens of Another World, 1871 (1979, semi-spoof UFO book), Facts and Fallacies: a Book of Definitive Mistakes and Misguided Predictions (with Chris Morgan, 1981 – this one is causing a mild uproar among Californian newspapers since we happened to quote the words of a chap called Mike Curb who is now running for state governor or something. "Watergate is just an attack by the niggers and the Jews and the Commies on Nixon," he is alleged to have remarked ...) and The Space Eater (skiffy novel about to be published). Forthcoming: a third of The Science in SF (with Peter Nicholls and Brian Stableford) and a couple more novels I'm trying to sell. Short stories too boring and infrequent to mention. Don't you wish you hadn't asked?

TheFrontierAlien/Jutz: 'People born to be hanged are safe in water' may be a famous axiom of Mark Twain's mother, but the general idea has been around a long while: cf. scene 1 of The Tempest. Which reminds me that famous British hack R.L. Fanthorpe stole The Tempest – indetail – for his 1965 Beyond the Void. I quote from chapter 1: 'He'll make the devitalizing chamber, though every cubic foot of space tends to argue otherwise, and the whole of the void opens its great maw to swallow him ...' And later: '"Don't be afraid," said Canbail [a mutant]. "This asteroid is full of noises. There are sounds of sweet airs that often give delight ..."'

(FLAP 15) Kenning/Causgrove: Apparently I had something to say about fannish brats (it says here). It is so very easy to get prejudiced against them, because the younger ones do often seem an intrusion – not so much their fault as that of the sickeningly proud parents. I have specific British examples in mind: a number of our fans have recently produced small children, and the general tone of aren't-kiddies-wonderful got All Too Much on two occasions at the Eastercon this year. The massive turnout of kids barely able to walk at the fancy-dress (sc. masquerade), and the obligatory awarding of prizes to every one since no small child must ever be disappointed, was bad enough. Then, at the bidding session for the 1983 Eastercon, the same fond parents put on a hoax 'Crechecon' bid which served largely as an excuse to display their offspring to 400 people who were waiting to vote on the authentic Eastercon bids, and the gag just went on and on until the gorge rose. Not as much as it rose at the activities of Ail-Time Repulsive Brat Jessica Watson at Eastercon '81: perhaps trained by father Ian (yes, that Watson), this small assassin developed a technique of clinging to strange men and calling them Daddy until – I kid you not – given money to go away. Misopaedy, anyone?

AHopelessSemantic/Leigh: About glasses and perception ... I used to have this entirely logical theory that the left eye couldn't be expected to see as well as the right, just as with my left and right hands. Thus I escaped glasses for many a year, and thus (perhaps) both my eyes are now almost equally myopic. As for contact lenses, neither Hazel nor I can endure people putting in their lenses nearby, let alone the thought of doing it to ourselves. We have a Lens-Avoidance Pact.

SomeActivityThyme/Stopa: At last I know about Trolls. I was less excited to hear about MAFF, since it seems that every other fan who's heard of TAFF since about 1954 has instantly suggested MAFF, OWFF (work it out) or something similar. This proves the existence of a great fannish racial unconscious – perhaps.

SacredMonkeysOfTheVatican/Eelgesen'. Yes, Marty, I have Maisie Ward's triffic biography of GKC. In fact I collect Chesterton and have about a hundred books by him (far from a complete collection). Have you read The Coloured Lands, the posthumous collection of early/unfinished work and art? Some amazing stuff there.

DillingerRelic/Hlavaty: Stories like the alligators in the NY sowers have been collected and categorized in a book called The Tumour in the Whale (author forgotten, book inaccessible somewhere in 120 cardboard boxes packed for move): the title and the generic name 'whale-tumour stories' both come from WW2 folklore, when meat-starved Brits were supplied with tinned whalemeat, and one tin (it was said) proved to contain a live tumour still throbbing and pullulating within.... Gaaah.

Vombis/Tackett: The dire Omni Book of the Future project was killed off early this year when market tests (in the snowbound West Country!) revealed apathy.