Once upon a time in the village of Prosaic in the Country of Mundane there lived a youth called Jophan. Now this youth was unhappy, because in all the length and breadth of Mundane there was no other person with whom he could talk as he would like, or who shared the strange longings that from time to time perplexed his mind and which none of the pleasures offered by Mundane could wholly satisfy. Each day as Jophan grew nearer to manhood he felt more strongly that life should have more to offer than had been dreamed of in Mundane, and he took to reading strange books that told of faraway places and other times. But the People of Prosaic mocked him, saying that the things described in his books could never come to pass, and that it was as foolish to think of them as to aspire to climb the great mountains that surrounded the Country of Mundane.
The mighty peaks that hemmed in Mundane were ever present in Jophan's thoughts, for since childhood he had loved to look at them and wonder what lay on their other side. At times in the late Summer he had even seemed to see a curious luminescence in the sky beyond them and once he had even fancied that he heard the sound of happy voices singing, borne over the vast distances on the still Summer breeze. But when he mentioned these things to the People of Prosaic they laughed at him and said his fanciful imagination was playing him tricks. Even if anyone could climb these impassable mountains, they told him, there could be nothing on the other side but howling wastes where no man could live except perhaps madmen and savages.
Jophan believed them, for they seemed older and wiser than he, and tried to put the strange thoughts out of his mind. But he still read the strange books that told of faraway places and other times, and in the long evenings of Summer he would go away by himself into the fields and read until nightfall.
Now one day while he was reading in a cornfield, the drowsy fragrance of the corn lulled him to sleep. In his sleep he dreamed that a fairy came to him, a girl of wondrous beauty and shining with a light brighter than the noonday sun, so that Jophan shrank away and hid his eyes. The fairy came nearer and spoke to him.
"Have no fear," she said. "I am your friend."
And now Jophan looked and saw that indeed the fairy gazed on him with kindness and love, and he took courage.
"Who and what are you?" he asked.
"I am the Spirit of Fandom," said the fairy serenely.
"What is Fandom?" asked Jophan wonderingly.
The fairy looked down on him with compassion. "Have you not been searching for it all your life?" she asked. "Watch!" So saying, she touched his forehead with her wand, which was called Contact, and thereupon Jophan saw a vision that filled him with Joy.
"This is indeed what I have been searching for without knowing it," he cried. "Oh, Fairy, tell me how I can reach your realm, for I wish to become a Fan more than anything else in the world."
"The Way is hard," said the Fairy, "for it lies over the Mountains of Inertia which surround Mundane."
"But those mountains are unclimbable," protested Jophan.
"To a True Fan anything is possible," replied the Fairy. "But wait. I have shown you only the superficial aspects of Fandom. Now I will show you something of its inner essence." With those words she touched his forehead with her other wand, which was named Fanac, and Jophan saw a second vision so glorious that he was quite overcome by the wonder of it.
As soon as he could speak he cried aloud, "Oh Spirit of Fandom, tell me how I may become a True Fan and publish the Perfect Fanzine, for that is what I desire more than anything in the world."
"I see that I have chosen wisely," said the Fairy approvingly, "but the way to your heart's desire is long and hard. To reach it you must obtain the Enchanted Duplicator, sometimes known as the Magic Mimeograph. It lies in the very heart of Fandom, on the top of the High Tower of Trufandom, and the path to it is long and beset with many dangers."
"I do not care for danger," said Jophan stoutly, "so long as I can publish the Perfect Fanzine, for that is what I want more than anything else in the world."
"Very well," said the Fairy. "Then take this Shield, which is called Umor. If you polish it every day and keep it shining it will protect you from many dangers."
"But how will I know the way?" cried Jophan hastily, for the Fairy was already beginning to disappear.
"If you are a True Fan you will know the way...." said the Fairy faintly, for she had now almost completely faded into invisibility. For a moment a faint glow remained in the air from which seemed to come the whispered words "Good Luck," and then she was gone.
Jophan woke from his dream and realized that night was almost upon him, for the sun was setting behind the Mountains of Inertia and their shadows were advancing swiftly on him across the level plains of Mundane. Behind the mountains there lingered a sea of glorious light, and a sadness overtook Jophan to think that his vision had been but a dream. But as he got to his feet he noticed that on the ground beside him there lay a shield of curious workmanship. Jophan picked it up incredulously and than turned his eyes once again to the mountains, his face transfigured with wonder and resolve.