On Issue Nine and Ten

Illo by Sheryl Birkhead

On Issue Nine:

Lloyd Penney

On Issue Ten:

Alexis Gilliland
Joseph Major
Lloyd Penney
delphyne woods


James Bacon

Editorial insertions in blue italics Other contributor comments in red italics.

Issue 9:


Dear Steven:

Thanks for Argentus 9, a truly sepia-toned publication with faces from the nearly-distant past. I'd wonder how the estates and descendants of these entertainers would feel about their likenesses on a fan publication...probably anywhere from pleased to amazed. As long as you're not making money off their trademarked licences, I don't think they'd object. In Toronto, there's been too many companies and businesses that take the likenesses of people like Laurel and Hardy, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean, and Marilyn Monroe and use them to promote themselves without royalty.

TAFF is decided for another year, and congratulations to Anne KG Murphy and Brian Gray on winning. Commiserations to Frank Wu, but he's got a silver rocket to console himself with. DUFF is just starting up, and already two candidates have surfaced, John Purcell and Jeff Boman.

[And Anne and Brian have the first installment of the TAFF report in issue 10 of Argentus.]

I've already commented on the Canadian origins of many of these people famous through their time in vaudeville and silent movies, and where I am currently working in the daytime, the Law Society of Upper Canada, I am a short walk away from the Hospital for Sick Children, which has a historical plaque on the corner of the property, indicating that it was the site of the Pickford homestead. Ben Turpin is a name finally connected with the crossed eyes and bowler hat. Also, I have had clarified for me the origins of United Artists, and thank you for that.

I always figured that someone, at some point, would mistake a Hugo award for a weapon, especially a rocket or projectile, or even a bullet of some kind. But, a knife? Long and thin and silvery, I suppose.

Steve Green's TAFF report...he's right, CUFF has never been contested, and probably never will. The last report I had from LeAmber Kensley was that a candidate from the Maritime provinces had stepped forward to run for CUFF, seeing that the Canvention for 2010 will be in Winnipeg. That's one way to meet the TAFF winner...keep him in your car for some hours as you drive him to his first post-Worldcon destination. That was our big contribution to the trip, to save Steve from spending hundreds of dollars on a flight to Toronto.

What got me interested in science fiction in the first place? The marvelous imagination of its writers. Why would I want it harnessed? I'm not even the type that demands factual science in my SF. How about imagination there, too?

I did not know that Calgary is a suburb of East London, South Africa. I'm all too used to the Calgary in the province of Alberta. I guess there are only so many names.

The letter column...I had thought that the rocket lapel pins were tradition, so I imagine some felt a little ripped off when they did not receive the pin. I asked in my letter if Japanese fandom might bid for the Worldcon again, and I can answer myself; yes, they are planning to bid again, for 2017, I believe. Paper fanzines haven't been entirely replaced, and won't be as long as the technology to do so still exists. Someone will always want to do something a little retro.

My loc...Anne KH Murphy has brought MidFanzine back to existence, so I look forward to further issues. I have returned to the Ad Astra committee, and will be a part of that committee for the 2010 convention, but we may have to leave for other reasons. Yvonne's going to school in the new year, and I may need more time for employment reasons, so we may leave the committee, and go back to our retired status.

Vampire horses? Aliens that say "Hah! I kill me!" because they're already dead? You know, I never really watched these shows in their original run, so I'm not likely to watch them should they be "revised". Well, that's one word for it. "Re-imagined" is another...

Time to fold...Yvonne and I wish you a Happy New Year, and may it hold every success for all of us. Take care, and see you sometime in 2010.

Yours, Lloyd Penney.

Issue 10:

Dear Steven,

Thank you for Argentus #10, to which I would have responded earlier, except when I saw that you intended to publish annually I let tilings slide in favor of the usual, namely indolence and procrastination. The cover, by Steve Stiles, was interesting and well composed but might have suffered from the lack of contrast that resulted when you chose to print it on dark red.

Generally I agree with Daniel Kimmel on Spielberg and E.T. though I have to say that if E.T. is a piece of lightweight fluff—cotton candy he calls it, then it is hard to fault Spielberg for revising his movie in order to pander to the audience du jour when it was re-released some years later. This is the critic trying to have it both ways, "Even if it distorted the meaning of the original," would only be a cut if the original had had a meaning. Spielberg makes entertainments which are highly profitable, and that enables him to try his hand at art, where he sometimes succeeds, as with Schindler's List. Saving Private Ryan, in my opinion, failed as art because it panders to the American audience but it was highly profitable, and even failed art is likely to be more interesting than cotton candy.

James Bacon's "The Battle of the Bulge; A Retrospective" probably should not have been in the Mock Section. The other pieces were all short and snappy, referencing well known stories or characters. His was a perfectly respectable short story in which Captain America played a featured role, and should have been off on its own somewhere. Even so, the natural ending would have been the death of Captain America. In a sort of epilogue Thor, "the so-called Nazi God" is subsequently destroyed by an atomic bomb dropped on Munich eight or nine months later. Better Thor should have walked off the battlefield and out of the story with no explanation to let the war follow its natural course.

You asked for a submission for your next issue. A sheet of cartoons is enclosed, and The Tao of Happiness, a short essay which I don't remember sending to anyone else. That should do for now.

Best wishes,

Alexis Gilliland

Dear Steven:

Translations of Verne are a problem.  He was so popular at the time that publishers rushed out translations, and didn’t bother to check, or “corrected” the text one way or another.  Sometimes it isn’t altogether bad—the version of the title given to Jean-Jacques Langévol in Les Cinq cents millions de la Bégum (1879) put in the “Fitzroy” translation of 1959 makes a little more sense than the one given in the original.

But a lot of translations cut text, made interpolations, and otherwise maimed the story.  I rather fancy that most of them were information-is-free editions, too.  Wells had the same problem.  Serviss’s Edison’s Conquest of Mars (1898) is a sequel to a rewritten version of The War of the Worlds titled Fighters from Mars, which among other things moves the setting of the invasion to the Boston area.

Who cares about Buzz Aldrin autographing your car’s dashboard?  Get him to autograph you and then go to a tattoo parlor to make it permanent.

The food section is nice, but between the number of things I don’t eat and the number of things I can’t eat, I can’t enjoy it quite as much as some.  (I used to like some Mexican dishes, but now they don’t like me.)

E.T. shares with so many of Spielberg’s other works a theme of childhood good, adulthood bad.  And a lot of people saw through it, as it were.  Thus the cartoon showing spaceships full of E.T. people with the caption, “We’ve softened them up psychologically, NOW we attack!”  Or Mike Resnick’s dissection of the movie’s total lack of logic.

Since Richard Dengrove is looking out for scandal, he had better pass by Theda Bara.  After a remarkably brief career, she got married, retired, and spent the rest of her life reading, interspersed with baking cookies for the local children.  Who never knew that that nice Mrs. Brabin had been the woman in a brass bra in Cleopatra (1917) — mostly because all the prints of the movie had been destroyed in fires and such.

Robert Bloch knew Buster Keaton, and paints a very effective picture of him in his own “unauthorized autobiography”.  (As for that book, the one striking about it I remember is sitting in a restaurant reading it.  I got to the section describing “Doc” Smith and his daughter Vera.  That was when Vera Smith Trestrail came in and took another table.)

As for A&E getting away from “arts” programming and TLC actually teaching something (and, I add SyFy cancelling all its SF shows), I recall a comment by Harry Warner, some fifteen years ago, noting how all the cable channels seemed to be, whatever their declared purpose, showing nothing but old sitcoms.  So that process is hardly new.

In the Mock Section, presumably the disappearance item was explained a couple of days later when the young man in question explained he had gone to New Jersey to accept a scholarship to M.I.T.  (He had.  Really.  The trip just involved a very long detour.)  Incidentally, as I pointed out in my book Heinlein’s Children (advt.) Kip and family live in Missouri.


Joseph T Major


Dear Steven:

I’ve waited a little while, since your zine is annual these days, but only now can I sit down and make some comments on Argentus 10.

Great Stiles artwork on the cover. Armoured dragonfly-style ornithopters look cool indeed.

 Since this issue came out, there’s been lots of trouble in Tunisia, Egypt especially, Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen. The article about living in Yemen should be quite interesting. Given that the Middle East and surrounding areas seem decidedly unstable, any glimpse into the politics of that region should be quite informative. (It was. As a stamp collector in the past, I knew there were two Yemens, but did not know that they became one in 1990. I also knew that Yemen, apart or together, is fairly isolated, and outsiders are restricted as to where in the country they can go.)

I don’t envy Leah Zeldes Smith’s position…I’ve seen reviews in the local papers here scathing enough to shut the restaurant down. As a result, the reviewers are relatively anonymous, and if ever the identity of the reviewer gets out, s/he has to find a new beat. I would find it hard to be objective on this kind of writing; the people who work in restaurants have a job I wouldn’t take on a bet. I go past Marah’s reviewed restaurant, Taste of China, every day…I go down Spadina Avenue to get to my evening job. However, there are so many restaurants on Spadina…I’ve never been in any of them.

During the ultranationalism of the war on terrorism in Iraq, the idea of freedom fries and anything anti-French seemed so childish as to be insane. France disagreed with so many things American during this time, endured that childishness, and still stayed a friend to the US. Canada would not follow the US into Iraq, and we endured the same kind of nonsense. Dubya never did think that your friends may agree with you, but sometimes it’s your closest friends who will tell you when you’re wrong.

Science by consensus…this is when repeated observation and logic go out the door. As a result, right wing commentators decry climate change and evolution, just to name two hot topics. In any other country, such right-wing commentary would be called just inane stupidity.

In the past, I tried to convert friends into SF readers. Back then, I had an anthology edited by Terry Carr called SF For People Who Hate SF. One female co-worker I gave this to read it, and said she hated it. She also failed to give the book back to me, after close to a year of asking and nagging on my part. Guess she hated it so much, she got rid of it.

Michael D. Thomas’s article on steampunk… Absolutely right. The future died. Our future may have looked like we were aiming ourselves at the start at one point, but now it looks fairly bleak, with global warming, more and more wars, and religious intolerance and extremism. Those who enjoy steampunk (and I am among them) reset their selected time period for the Victorian era, where the future looked rosy indeed, and inventions came fast and furious from Edison and his peers. There’s been quite an industry that sprung up from steampunk…jewelry, clothing, films, television, books, much more, and when Disney took part of their Magic Kingdom and rechristened it the Mechanical Kingdom, many thought that steampunk had jumped the shark, becoming part of popular culture. No matter what, the steampunk movement is a true version of creative anachronism, and you can’t argue with its popularity.

Yvonne and I are aiming to get to London in 2014, assuming of course they win their bid for that year. Should we go for TAFF for that year? Sure hope it’s eastbound that year…

And, thanks for the link to my loc. Do I respond too early or too late? Lots of my locs go missing from time to time.

A page and a half will do for the moment…I’ve got to get ready to go to my evening job, and at least make a few bucks. Just saw on Facebook that H.B. Fenn, the Canadian distributor for Tor Books in Canada, is declaring bankruptcy. More and more, I am in the wrong industry in the wrong country. Still hope springs eternal. Take care, and see you next time around.

                                                                        Yours, Lloyd Penney.


hi Steven ~

Thank you for Argentus 10! All the articles are interesting, and a couple are fascinating (principally "Steampunk, Disney, and the Death of the Future" by Michael Thomas, and "A Science Fiction Fan in Sana'a" by Mark Herrup ~ with those weirdly fantastic Yemenese trees!). Of course the artwork is splendiferous. I enjoy the Gilliland pieces in the food article. Too bad no Chicago eateries appeared in the "favorites" article despite Chicagoan Leah Zeldes's lengthy discourse on how to exercise critical judgment experiencing commercial cuisine. Sorry if I could not provide any food-involved faeries, dragons, etc., but at least you have one dragon sipping tea. Very glad the Washington DC illustrations were useful.

I am just learning about "steampunk," such a nice surprise. For a while now (for a variety of reasons) I have deliberately distanced myself from sf&f fandom and (sadly) science fiction and fantasy literature itself. Rich's companionship and the friendship of certain other individuals in fandom have been the sole draw for me. "Steampunk" piques my interest because it steps away from the omnipresent dystopian technology-enslaved "blasted earth" future. Yet for me its charm lies less in advanced 19th-century-style steam technology (fun as it is) but rather a psychological reorientation. Not necessarily a return to Victorian ideals and objectives, nor is it living an outer-spacey Jetson dependence upon exploitative technology, manufacturing and marketing.

Rather ~ it is global consciousness. Learning to live harmoniously with fellow humans and, moreover, with the sea, earth and air of Gaia who gave birth to us all. The compelling new challenge is greater than just repairing environmental damage and restoring balance, but essentially readapting human existence to sustain the planet that sustains us ~ not unlike ancient hunter/gatherers. That is revolutionary on so many levels. Yep, that was the hippie message back in 1966. Finally people are beginning to listen.

The illustration you used on page 13 won first prize for fantasy art at Reconstruction last August in Raleigh. Interestingly, it is the second exploration of that particular concept. The first effort is mine, living in its custom wooden oval frame, and will never be sold. Surprisingly I have always received a strong response to this simple tiny black and white ink interaction between a water dwelling dragon and his Japanese lady friend. I guess a third incarnation is in the works for Renovation.

I shall give you my USPS address (below), but in truth I do not need a hard copy. My place is far too small to encourage collecting things. I was able to save your transmitted copy to peruse. I love the website with all the previous available issues!

delphyne woods

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