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Lloyd Penney
1706-24 Eva Rd.
Etobicoke, ON
Canada M9C 2B2

September 18, 2008

Dear Petréa:

Thanks for the pointer to Picofarad #14. A quick look through the links show that this letter might be interesting. Let's find out for sure.

Neat story about your cabbie, and his own experience with fandom in the past. We are not very friendly towards neofen, and should fandom every die, we can look in the mirror for the cause. We are not accepting, but look for reasons to shun or hate, or push away. Simple terminology like tickets versus memberships, or sci-fi versus ess-eff... We make it too difficult to get into the group. I think that might be one reason why I unsubscribed from the SMOFS list. We must allow time for people to learn the special words and insider handshake. Every fan was a neo once, and if we can remember how we were treated, that will help guide how we react to the few neofen we encounter these days.

I checked Wikipedia to see why there were two different numberings of the Narnia books. C.S. Lewis did not write the books in a sequential order, and some books were published before others. One publisher numbered them in the order in which they were released, and another numbered them based on the assumed sequential order of the books. The newest publisher is doing the former, the order in which they were released, with the idea that this is how Lewis would want them reprinted. I need to re-read more of the books, and see what their apparent order is. I hope that those who are enjoying the movies realize that the two books made into movies are the only books where all the Pevensie children appear (with the exception of the last book). By the time that happens, I expect the Pevensies will be played by different actors, or will be cast to look like the young actors.

I have to look up what happened to Tom Smith. He was a guest at Ad Astra a few years ago. If the injury was devastating, I can only imagine what it was.

I have not seen The Dark Knight, and may wind up being the only person on the continent who has no intentions of seeing it, but you can't help but be familiar with the movie via the trailers and entertainment buzz. I guess I expected the role of Alfred the butler to go to someone English, but Michael Caine? Is he not getting many roles these days, or is he slumming? Or maybe he's taking the roles that interest him, even if they seem relatively minor. This review is probably the only one I've read that takes the late Heath Ledger to task for his performance. I'm sure Chris French will swear off movies, much as I've done, should Ledger get the nearly-promised Oscar for his performance.

(By the way, I still enjoyed Wall-E, but was a little disappointed at how much the title robot looked like a mechanical E.T, and sounded like a jawa.)

My loc...we're making plans to design steampunk costumes for conventions in 2009. Yvonne and I haven't been involved with costumes for 20 years, but the steampunk motifs allow a lot of creative freedoms, and we might be returning to old interests as a walk down fannish Memory Lane.

Any luck in getting submissions at Denvention? Hope you had a good time there, and I wondered if you ran into Chris Garcia? He was in charge of the fanzine lounge.

So many websites, convention or otherwise, are designed to reflect the designer, and not necessarily the people they site should be attracting. The idea of designing a website is still new enough that it is cool, and having to keep the site updated with new content is definitely not cool. One criticism I have is the assumption by the website designer that everyone know what the convention is all about, and whoever writes the copy for the website fails to explain what the con's focus is. If you're trying to attract regular attendees only, fine, but you have to fight attrition by informing and attracting new people, so explain everything. I could make that same criticism about convention flyers, too. Could the front page of your website look like a convention flyer? Some convention website require you to click through several layers of pages before you can find out who the guests are, and listing guests are one of your most effective marketing sales points.

Days of Yore... Finding fandom in what is currently Serbia might be difficult, but recently, I got word of fandom resurgent in Croatia, with the launch of another Zagreb Worldcon bid. The last one was for 1993, and we were their Canadian agents. The current bid is for 2013.

I might be showing some Luddite roots here, but there is only so many hours in the day, and if you have to spread out your convention message on blogs, bulletin boards, MySpace, LiveJournal, Facebook, Twitter, etc., etc., etc., are you really spreading out your message to the greatest number of people, or are you making too much work for the people who in the past may have just designed your website?

The convention list...Astronomicon is getting back on its feet. The former chairman, Wayne Brown, retired and handed the convention to someone who wanted to turn the con from its sleepy little 200-person format to a gigantic multimedia extravaganza! Well, that didn't work... Wayne is taking the convention back, and will be staging the next one, Astronomicon 11, November of 2009.

All done, I think. I have been streaking through a huge stack of zines, and I've been doing a lot of writing lately. With this letter, I maybe totally, completely caught up with fanzines and similar e-zines and webzines. I may be doing some work with the Seattle Worldcon bid, so mentioning the bid is definitely a good idea...I used to live in Victoria, BC, but never made it to Seattle, and with some luck, I will get there in 2011 and see what I've missed. Take care, and see you next time. Keep making those announcements online, and eventually more and more people will visit your website. Amazing how many people still don't know that. Bye for now!

Yours, Lloyd Penney.

Good news from the SMOFS list-- a halt has been called, at least for now, to what's being called the "Wrong Kind of Fan" argument.

Lucy and Mr. Tumnus (and maybe Susan, I forget) have a cameo in The Horse and His Boy, though as adults.

Chris replies that he doesn't care what the Academy thinks, so it's not going to impair his enjoyment of the cinema.

I think con Web site design is going through the stage people talk about having seen in the '80s when you would get hideous-looking fliers with six different fonts, just to prove the convention could put its hands on a software package with six different fonts available. Eventually sensibilities will develop about what works and what's just awful, but I'd like to help them develop as quickly as possible.

Likewise, I think the bewildering variety of online communication platforms will eventually shrink and solidify, there's just no way of predicting exactly what they'll solidify to.

And sure, it can't hurt to mention the bid more. Seattle! Seattle! More next issue!

Guy Lillian
8700 Millicent Way #1501
Shreveport LA 71115


I picked up three issues of Picofarad at Denvention's fanzine lounge, and am furious that I haven't encountered this unique perzine before. One of my own publications is The Zine Dump, a "zinezine" if you will, consisting of really mild reviews of fannish publications that come my way; I aspire to receive and comment upon every SF-oriented fan publication there is. Now I find that I've been missing a very good one, and that bites.

But at least Pico and I are acquainted now, and I want to commend you on a spunky and literate publication. I hope you will add me to your mailing list, and perhaps, somewhere in your text, indicate where those of us who wish to send our zines to you might do so. My major publication, Challenger, has a fine website at, but who knows? You might be one of those atavists who very strongly prefer paper fanzines. As am I.

A few comments about your 14th issue. First of all, the editorial thoughts inspired by the fannish cab ride meet with my full approval. The cabbie described attending a club meeting where a teenager attending his first meeting was hissed for using the term "Sci-fi".

I'd be interested to know if any of the club members explained his faux pas to the hapless youngster and apologized to him. Someone should have, because it's very possible that the rude stupes who so reacted to his inadvertant boo-boo may have driven a nice kid from fandom forever. I'd be very interested in learning if he ever returned.

The story reminds me of an untoward incident from SunCon, the 1977 Worldcon in Miami Beach. As you will either recall-- or, if you are as young as you are youthful, as you may have heard-- a special committee award was bestowed at the Hugo ceremonies. This went to a science fiction film which had debuted the previous May. Gary Kurtz, the producer of this film-- Star Wars-- was at the dais, and HE said the verboten phrase, "Sci-fi". The assemblage BOOED him. The poor man was visibly shocked.

Set aside the question of rudeness. Imagine the raw, unmitigated stupidity of fans heaping abuse on someone who had brought our genre enormous prestige, and ourselves as fan a work of such magnificence. No adult present would have blamed Kurtz for an instant had he tossed SunCon's award to the floor, turned on his heel, and left our society for keeps.

But Kurtz was a gentleman of class, so much so that he showed up at Iguanacon in Phoenix the following year, to accept Star Wars' Hugo. I must say that he avoided saying "Sci-Fi".

Kurtz taught us all a lesson in adulthood that day, and I think fandom took it to heart. After all, the phrase was created by Forry Ackerman, and now adorns the cable network devoted to (mostly lousy) made-for-TV SF fare. Personally, when I hear it I tell the user "We call it .SF'," but with a smile.

That's a lovely story which I actually hadn't heard before. I'll admit to having been alive at the time, but wouldn't remember if I'd been at that con.

The story in the editorial gave as much as I know of the incident, sadly.

My contact address is buried in the FAQ on the Picofarad Web site, which I see had managed to get itself totally unlinked from the front page. Sorry about that, everyone!

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