This is SKYRACK Number 60, dated 12th November 1963 by a dislocated Ron Bennett at 17 Newcastle Road, Wavertree, Liverpool 15. 6d per copy, 6 issues for 2/6d or 35 cents in the USA. Airmail rates 6 issues for 70c USA or 5/- sterling Australia and New Zealand. News of interest to sf fans is always welcome, even if the news is as drastic as that printed below. Contributions are by Ted Carnell, George Locke and Norman Shorrock. Heading and cartoon by that jolly old warhorse, Arthur Thomson.
NOVA BOWS OUT
A tragic gap will be left in the professional science fiction field next March when Nova magazines New Worlds and Science Fantasy will follow their late sister magazine Science Fiction Adventures into limbo by ceasing publication. The following official news release has been received from the magazines' editor, John Carnell:
"It is with regret that I announce that with the March published issues of NEW WORLDS SCIENCE FICTION and SCIENCE FANTASY, these two publications will be discontinued and Nova Publications Ltd. will cease to exist. This decision has been forced upon us by a steady decline in sales during the past few years which stems directly from the lifting of the Import Ban and the subsequent intense competition with the paperback market, both home-produced and foreign-imported.
"Material is still required for the last few issues and authors should continue to submit their material to Nova Publications Ltd., 7 Grape Street, London W.C.2 until January 31st.
"Thereafter my own personal plans are that I shall become a full-time Literary Agent specialising in science fiction, as I have been for the past ten years, but expanding my requirements into general fiction. I shall also be under contract to a major British paperback publisher to produce a new series of science fiction paperbacks containing new short stories only both in the science fiction and weird-fantasy fields. This series is being prepared now but will not appear until Autumn 1964.
"All regularly contributing, authors will be notified individually regarding this new project and all manuscripts should be sent to my home address, 17 Burwash Road, Plumstead, London S.F. 18 for the time being.
"At this early stage it is not possible to reveal my plans publicly but as far as the authors, are concerned, the new project will give them many additional advantages as well as increased revenue.
"Unfortunately, from the point of view of new writers, unless they are already proficient in. the art of story writing, it will be far more difficult for them to have stories accepted in the new series but, as in the past, I will continue to help those who show promise." - E. J. CARNELL.
The last time I made any editorial comment in Skyrack was earlier this year when Nova was flourishing and my relationship with Mr. Carnell was not. It is ironical that the reverse state of affairs is now the case and personally if it came down to a straight choice I would prefer the former. The closing down of Nova is a serious blow to British science fiction on two different counts. From March until the appearance of the new paperback series (and perhaps not even then), Britain will be without a vehicle of any kind for new sf shorts. Also as Mr. Carnell indicates it will henceforth be harder than ever for any new aspirant to break into the limited market. It seems obvious that paperbacks sell by using known names; any story by any new writer will have to be of exceptional quality if it is to see print. There will be no page space for experimentation and no page space which can be devoted to encouraging promising newcomers, possibly the saddest outcome of this announcement.
Let us leave the story of Nova itself to the historians, the statisticians and the checklist compilers. But let us briefly remember that here we had a magazine and a tradition started by the sheer tenacity of a group of fans in the late forties, how output was expanded to three magazines with an American edition in the peak period, how dozens if not hundreds of Nova stories have been anthologised, how dozens of Nova-aided new writers have become known and respected even beyond the field of British science fiction, through to the continued struggle against the rising popularity of the paper backed novel and the resulant final death throes of a recent price increase.
It is to me typical of the man behind Nova that he has stayed with the field through such hard times and is, even now, not turning-his back on S.F. Even more so typical is his remark, that he will still, in the face of mounting difficulties, do his utmost to encourage the newcomer wherever possible.
And what of the man himself? Edward John Carnell has been with New Worlds since its birth. Fifteen years a professional science fiction editor, this is the man who has stuck with Nova through peak periods and thin times, the man who is Nova, only at last to be thrown on the scrap heap of economic necessity. This is the man who has been chairman of a World Convention, the man whose example initiated the idea of the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund, the man who has bent over backwards to encourage even the slightest glimpse of latent talent, the man who was criticised at Peterborough for conservative editing and yet who gave us a story no one else would touch in Harry Harrison's The Streets of Ashkalon, a man to whom British S.F. should say a sincere thank you and in short a man of whom we can be proud.
- Ron Bennett.
TENSION, APPREHENSION & DISSENSION (a supplementary premailing to Tensor 3; November 1963, Langdon Jones, 36 Winscombe Crescent, Ealing, London W.5.; free to those on the Tensor mailing list, otherwise like Tensor itself, this supplement costs 1/- or 15 cents) In the main this 33 page fanzine is devoted to letters on Tensor 2, many of which are worthy of comment in themselves. Dick Schultz, for example, forwards some neat views on convention reporting, but I can't agree with his summing up that "a person is good for only one or possibly as many as three good con reports." Despite Dick's assertion I don't think that I've ever agreed with him on this point, or even discussed with him. It strikes me that this is a sweeping generalisation. Walt Willis, for example, is, I am sure, worthy of writing as many excellent con reports as he may wish to write. The only reason I have kept away from con reporting-in general fanzines during the past four years is that I've been covering every convention, under headings, for Skyrack. Also in this issue is a Lang Jones Catalogue of Creatures, a Lang Jones listing of heroic fantasy books and Lang Jones writing on cigarettes and smoking, possibly the funniest article to appear from British fandom in six months or more.
SHANGRI-L 'AFFAIRES 66 (Sept 1963, the o-o of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. Copies are available @ 25c each or $1 for 5 from Ron Ellik or in sterling areas @ 1/8d each or 7/- for 5 from Archie Mercer, 70 Worrall Road, Bristol 8) Shaggy has been having its troubles of late, with a diminishing of publishing interest by editor Steve Tolliver and his associates. This issue threatens that liquidation might possibly follow. John Berry contributes advice on telling the younger child the facts of life. Fritz Leiber writes on Lovecraft. Bjo Trimble tells how Steve Tolliver found a spirited one armed bandit during a gambling trip to Las Vegas and there are the usual high standard meeting reports, book reviews and a letter column.
STARSPINKLE 24 (7 Nov 63; Ron Ellik, 1825 Greenfield Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90025. 3 for 25c, or 9 for 7/6d (10/- airmailed)from Ella Parker, 43 Wm Dunbar House, Albert Road, London NW 6) Ron Ellik's fortnightly news sheet is still continuing to give excellent coverage of the world scene as it comes up to its first birthday. This issue covers the recent TAFF campaign results (the ballot being headed by Wally Weber who we'll see over here at Peterborough at Easter). Ron very graciously allowed me to get into print first with those results by his cabling Ethel Lindsay his tally. Possibly the counting had tired him out, but, I'm grateful, not only for the first crack but also for the way Ron handled the deal in saving me the cost of a cable. This Starspinkle also covers news of the death of New York fan Dave Foley, of the Fan Awards Poll, Harry Warner's fan history project and of the fact that Redd Boggs is the new editor of Shaggy. This particular issue is also notable in terms of fan history in that it announces an extension of the dates set by the official committee for the duration of next September's Frisco Worldcon. The hotel is the Leamington at Oakland, California and the dates are officially 4th-7th September, with a 3rd September extension by Starspinkle for a riproaring evening of fun and games, poker particularly. We'll see what can do in the way of coaching our TAFF Delegate.
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WHO'S WHO IN BRITISH FANDOM No.4. Michael Moorcock
Mike is one of that small, select group of fans who have bridged the gap between the old London Circle and the new, formless, informal mob who attend the Globe faithfully every first Thursday of the month. In those old days he was notable for a guitar and a petit office from which he dispensed weekly issues of Tarzan Adventures. Several fans, Arthur Thomson and Ron Bennett amongst them, contributed to its pages during his editorship.
Mike has been active in most aspects of fan activity, publishing a genzine Burroughsiana (which has since passed into the able hands of Dick Ellingsworth) and material for OMPA.
It used to be the habit for well-known fans to graduate from fandom into prodom but lately in this country the neo-Bulmers, Clarkes, Youds and Bradburys have not in the main been appearing. Mike is one of the few who has continued the old habit and he has been noted for his Elric series. The culmination of his successes with Nova Publications is that he has recently become hard-bound - a series of the Elric stories, The Stealer of Souls has been published by Neville Spearman, in a format as informally elegant as the author has himself become. Michael now lives in west London with his wife Hilary (who is herself a Nova contributor) and their three month old daughter. His successes have in no ways changed his love for the Good Life of S.F. fandom and we wish him well in his newly acquired professional mantle. - (GL)
TAFF. Nominations for the trip to the Oakland WorldCon close at the end of this month. Arthur Thomson has already been nominated as a candidate in the campaign and it is expected that Phil Rogers, Chairman of the BSFA and Programme Coordinator of the 1962 Harrogate Convention, will also be nominated. Any others? Write Ethel Lindsay or Ron Ellik for details.
In addition to recent listing, the whereabouts are wanted, please, of Wm. D. Stuart, Ralph J. Watts and the Benford twins.