Fannish Facts and Fancies
The Old Fan’s Almanac (Stet #9) (December 1999), front (by Kurt Erichsen) and back (by Harry Turner) covers + 88 pp., available for the usual
For the past several years, Dick and Leah Smith have prepared “Skiffy calendars” noting key dates commemorated in fandom (including the birthdays of sundry fen who would just as soon not remember that they have them any more). For the pseudo-millennial year 2000, they expanded this date book into a full-fledged data bank, a fannish almanac stuffed with information and curiosa (ofttimes curiossima) that have almost passed from living memory, and published it as an issue of their more or less annual zine Stet (a three-time Hugo nominee, including the well-deserved nomination for this effort). If you can find a copy, clutch it to your bosom and put it aside for your grandchildren, that Roscoe and Great Ghu may be known and honored for another generation.
The Smiths tend to be on the faanish side and definitely regard pubbing (zines, not bheer) as the highest form of fanac. Nonetheless, they are not of the school that proclaims, “It is a proud and lonely thing to be a fan” and reasons that lonelier would be even prouder. Coverage is comprehensive and unsnobbish. Within these pages, one finds, in no particular order of significance -
An extensive lexicon of fanspeak from “actifan” through “zine”, with expansive and opinionated definitions
Mike Resnick’s predictions for the 21st
century (wrong, alas, about Hillary Rodham Clinton; right, double alas, about Michael Jordan)
Lists of Worldcons (the Smiths’ version of the “long list” printed in Worldcon program books), Hugo Award winners, fan fund delegates, fannish ghods (from Ghu and Foo to the nouveau divin
Herbie), lunar and planetary craters named for science fiction writers, paper sizes (in case you have trouble distinguishing Foolscap Quarto from Crown Octavo) and overlooked Worldcon GoH possibilities (one of their candidates, Jack Speer, was subsequently selected as Noreascon 4's Fan Guest of Honor)
George Flynn’s analyses of trends in Hugo Award and site selection voting
Mike Glyer’s overview of “The State of Fandom: 2000”
Recipes for absinthe, marmalade (Dave Langford style) and potassium cyanide (some fan feuds do become rather extreme
Sundry odds and ends involving gardening, romance, novel forms of fanac, weather forecasts, etc., etc.
Nor can I forebear mentioning the reintroduction of adverts for “Widowers”, the quintessential fannish department store, which puffs its wares in verse, e. g.,
A future filled with awe.
Would that he knew of how it came true of
WIDOWERS CIRCULAR SAW.
Having encountered this addictive exercise, I spent the next month dreaming up my own, along the lines of -
Stalking the realms of deep magic
Where things oft are not as they seem,
When he needs a disguise, the wise wizard buys
WIDOWERS VANISHING CREAM.
Happily, I found a 12-step program and began recovery before the obsession became invincible. Browsing through The Old Fan’s Almanac is another obsession, from which recovery is neither probable nor to be hoped for.