Cloud Chamber 32
October 1984

a further slim vol. from Dave Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, etc etc woffle blah ... 30-10-84.

[Explanatory note, 1999: the Official Editor of FRANK'S APA was of necessity known as FRANK. I think it was Alan Dorey at the time.]

FRANK, last mailing, emitted some dicta which codify some vague feelings of unease concerning APAs. "What is the point," quoth FRANK, "of writing for an APA (or, indeed, having an APA ln the first place) if items are used elsewhere?" Answer: I'm not, frankly (no pun), sure what point an APA has other than to goad one into communication. (I must here admit that I am chiefly staying in not because of any ideological okayness but because I'd be sorry to miss certain stuff by certain people which is confined to the APA.) Next I pose my own question: "What is the point if, having produced a nifty bit of writing in one context, you cannot share it with others who'd appreciate it?"

Back to FRANK: "Frank's should be an extra, a more personal thing between the various members." I suspect this of being a fallacy. If I want to be particularly personal I would tend to do so for an audience which I have chosen. Many members of this putative audience are indeed in FRANK's. There are, however, a few whom I barely know and to whom I might not feel entirely comfortable in confiding My Secret Struggle Against Herpes or whatever. Comments?

The third FRANKish dictum – "Writing for Frank's should be just that. Writing for Frank's" – is merely an unsupported assertion thrown in to make three Great Thoughts.

Onward to a practical point. I suppose nobody believes that writing in FRANK'S APA should be restricted, should be limited in its variety in a way which other fanwriting is not, should be (in short) self-censored? Of course not, what a cretinous notion, etc. OK. Writing free-and-easy, straight-onto-stencil stuff in CC30, I wandered through many topics including the Bergeron Follies and an anecdote about Mary Gentle & Malcolm Edwards. Fannish etiquette then demanded – don't you think? – that I sent CC30 to all the relevant people. This produced such a response on the Bergeron front that l had to do CC31 (and apologies to all of you who hoped never to read that name in print again); responses from Mary & Malcolm also deserve an airing, and they follow below. Now, are we to inhabit a closed universe in which only those fans who are fellow-members of FRANK's may be so much as mentioned; are we to say what we like about non-Frankers behind their backs but never, never let them know where and in what their names have been dropped; or can we just do the natural thing, more or less as I have?

(Good grief, this pedantry begins to sound like B*rg*r*n at his nitpicking worst. It must be catching. Onward to the frivolous bits...)

Malcolm Edwards: "It is time to nail this canard. I deny that my blurb gives away anything important about Golden Witchbread (as it is known, now, by Publishing News, whose paperback list it was recently no.1 in). The glossary explains quite clearly what ashiren means, and I'd expect anyone reading a novel with alien terminology and a glossary to flip to the back if baffled. Also, I guessed it very early on when I was reading without the glossary. So poot."

Mary Gentle: "It's a terrible thing to reach the peak of one's career at twenty-coff-coff, but I suspect there are no peaks left, after achieving an appearance in Cloud Chamber. Did I really call Edwards a rat? How remiss of me. Rats are quite sweet, really. By the way, as to blurbs, you should have seen the Morrow blurb for Witchbreed; I swear this had the entire plot expounded on front and back flap. This may indicate something about the literacy of American readers..."

Gosh, I've just had a fun weekend. Went to this party at Dave & Jenny Raggett's just up the road; didn't got particularly pissed or anything, but the following day was, er, remarkable. Was it the Gjetost, that extraordinary goat cheese which resembles fudge (and which I incautiously sampled for some while in hope of discovering whether I liked or loathed it), or was it The Bug That's Going Round Hazel's Office? I will spare you the interesting gastric details which occurred at ten-minute intervals all day, merely remarking that around lunchtime – after parting company with more than I remembered eating that week – I pallidly crawled back to bed only to find that my mouth, like other parts of me, felt strangely empty. Eidetic memory playback insisted that I had indeed flushed the toilet, and that an embarrassing visit to the dentist lay ahead, while meantime I practised a lithp and a gaptoothed smile... Remind me to send this issue to my dentist and the people who make Milk of Magnesia (advt).


"As the losing candidate I wish to make it absolutely clear that I have no complaints whatsoever about either the result or the administration of the 1983/84 TAFF election. I consider that the attacks made upon the integrity of Avedon Carol as North American TAFF administrator are wholly unjustified and unjustifiable and represent nothing more solid than slurs and innuendoes arising from personal animosity and malice. To date no evidence at all has been produced to show that Avedon Carol is guilty of any wrongdoing, and I therefore call upon those concerned either to produce their proofs without further delay and equivocation or to make a full public withdrawal of their allegations. In the event that this is not speedily done I urge fans everywhere to join me in publicly condemning with the utmost severity the behaviour of Avedon Carol's attackers." (24 Oct 84. "Reproduction encouraged.")

[Yes, this was the time of the Great TransAtlantic Fan Fund War in which formerly respected fan Richard Bergeron spectacularly lost his marbles and published the series of paranoid attacks to which D. West alludes – the basic allegation (for which no actual evidence was ever to emerge) being that Carol had rigged the voting against West. See the gloom-laden CC31.]