Katie Hare and Sophie Coombs read and recommend some of their favourite SF-related zines.
A selection of these publications will be available to browse in our specially curated Science Fiction zine library, for the duration of A Non Utopian Kind of Girl at The Nursery, London.
Available to read online at http://efanzines.com/SusanWood/
This one is a personal favourite. Published in Toronto, Canada between 1970 and 1973, Aspidistra was the work of the late legendary Science Fiction fanzine writer, critic and academic Susan Wood. Wood was co-editor of the SF fanzine Energumen with her then-husband Mike Glicksohn, and as she explains in issue 1 of Aspidistra, had wanted to include a more personal article in Energumen. Glicksohn wanted Energumen to remain a Science Fiction publication, but encouraged Wood to continue writing on personal and polictial issues elsewhere, resulting in Aspidistra.
Aspidistra issue 1 is not at all Science Fiction heavy. Instead, it includes articles on the environment, pollution, feminism and budget cookery, alongside SF-tinged poetry, artwork and a short story about sexual dysfunction. Wood was a magnetic writer, as evidenced by her editorial letter, and the fanzine still feels relevant and exciting today, 40 years on, with witty and strident articles on making a stand at the local supermarket to protest against their not stocking recyclable bottles and a male-organised bake sale to raise funds for a birth control clinic (including the worrying sounding ‘abortion fudge’). Wood went on to publish the even more personal zine Amor, before her death in 1980.
Dinosaur vs Robot
Available to buy from Gimme Brains zine distro.
Created between 2008 – 2009 by illustrator Ainsley Yeager, Dinosaur vs Robot was a series of personal zines featuring comics and writing – in Ainsley’s own words, ‘a geeky comic journal’. Dinosaur vs Robot flitted between issues on being more picture based or text heavy and has a warm, diary-like feel, helped along by Ainsley’s illustrations which have heaps of character – she really nails facial expressions!
Dinosaur vs Robot is not a Science Fiction zine, but as a fan, anecdotes from Ainsley’s life relating to sci-fi make their way onto the pages. As well as vegan brownie recipes, issue 3 covers similarities between sci-fi and fantasy and how study parties can easily turn into DS playing parties. Dinosaur vs Robot is the kind of zine that brings home to me what I love about self-publishing and distributing – the chance to get a glimpse into someone else’s head.
Hard Science Tales
Available to read online at http://efanzines.com/HardScience/
Hard Science Tales was a science fiction fanzine published between 2004 and 2006 by Joyce Worley Katz, a veteran of previous fanzines ODD, What About Us Grils? and Potlatch. Taking on the feel of a newsletter or chatty round robin email from a friend, Hard Science Tales was intended for distribution amongst members of SNAFFU – the South Nevada Area Fantasy Fiction Union.
Mixing Joyce’s memoirs of her introduction to Science Fiction fandom through her first husband Ray in 1950s Missouri with spoof science articles, what makes Hard Science Tales rather charming is the way it refuses to take itself seriously. In issue 2, Joyce writes of how when she first discovered the world of SF fanzines through her husband and his friends, what really drew her in were the zines containing “light and fluffy banter”, and this reflects in Hard Science Tales which is easy to enjoy whether or not you’re a Science Fiction expert. The ongoing story of how Joyce was immersed into the fan community is fascinating, and she nails the thrill of discovering fanzines: “ It was like opening a window, like finding the ruins of Pompey – I could see the people, hear echoes of their voices, almost reach out and touch them”.
Available to read online at http://sf3.org/history/janus-aurora-covers/
With it’s first issue published in 1975, Janus was started by Janice Bogstad, joined by Jeanne Gomoll as co-editor for the second issue. Named after the two-faced Roman God, Janus was inspired by this symbol of duality and presented a blend of science and the arts as well as looking to explore the tensions present in Science Fiction and wider literature.
In 1981 Janus changed its name to Aurora. Janice Bogstad and Jeanne Gomoll were no longer editors (since 1979) but remained involved, and the fanzine continued to be produced and edited by SF3 : The Society for Furtherance & Study of Science Fiction & Fantasy. SF3 created and continue to host WisCon, the world’s leading Feminist Science Fiction convention.
Aurora continued until 1990 and by issue 19 in 1981 it was a slick and accomplished publication. Issues were curated around a theme: Issue 19’s was “More Than Words – communication in it’s many forms” and contains articles on issues of linguistics in Science Fiction, non-human communication as well as an impassioned plea for quality feminist SF poetry (a concern echoed by Susan Wood in Aspidistra 1, that most of the poetry submitted to the fanzines was clichéd and clumsy). Aurora issue 19 also contains a piece considering the future of video games that seems eerily prophetic and relevant to the reader in 2013. The writer Ctein is concerned that as video games progress, the increased sophistication in programming could allow gamers to simulate rape and violence and considers the effects this could have on society – I wonder what they would have made of GTA5 back in 1981…
KH & SC
Available to buy from the Moss Piglet website.
Moss Piglet is “an experimental Sci-Fi journal of sorts” from Melbourne, Australia. Edited by Becky Nosiara, in her editor’s letter, she describes how she started Moss Piglet as she couldn’t find a Melbourne-based sci-fi publication to submit her own creative writing to. Ruminating on the lack of a distinct sci-fi fan community in Melbourne, this zine is an attempt to create one, though submissions are welcomed from writers outside of Melbourne as well. Becky also expresses her desire to include contributions from those who don’t see themselves as traditionally ‘into sci-fi’, hence the use of the word ‘experimental’. She writes “not everything sci-fi has to be an epic intergalactic space opera. It could be anything you imagine”.
The first issue of Moss Piglet contains six stories and artwork from Melbourne artist Rena Happens, covering a pretty wide spectrum of sci-fi, from more traditional alien and space related stories to more subtle pieces exploring the uncanny and dystopian worlds. The stories are brief, but some are very strong and the zine provides a great taster into sci-fi short stories, whether you are a fan or not.
Taking the Lane: Bikes in Space
Available to buy from Microcosm Publishing.
Bikes in Space is the 10th issue of Elly Blue’s Taking the Lane series and is made up of a compilation of feminist-bicycle-science-fiction stories. Whilst some may think the combination of cycling and Science-Fiction seems like a pretty adhoc merge, the communities within both fields are actually fairly similar. Elly Blue initially started the Taking the Lane series to create a less macho perspective of the cycling world. When we cross examine this with masculine roles that dominate Science Fiction, we are dealing with some of the same issues.
Whilst principally about bikes, Bikes in Space also represents what cycling standards for: the freedom and liberation of travel by vehicle that is powered by oneself, as well as the constraints that come from this timeless mode of transport. The use of the bicycle combined with feminism reflects a hands-on approach to gender progression and the struggles and exhaustion caused by the physical and metaphorical uphill battle along with the independence and isolation that only a one person conveyance can have.
Bikes in Space is a supporter and contributor to feminist science-fiction and the roles the characters play within it. The zine showcases female protagonists with intelligent, strong personalities, high-jacking stereotypes of women’s roles and making them empowering central characters whilst pushing away from the more familiar space army of overly buffed, male space worriers, wielding planet shattering ammunition and bikini clad space babe in toe. Elly projects a future inhabited by capable, brilliant, vivacious females, combined with a biking theme which makes it relatable to cyclists and non-cyclists alike.
This zine was influenced by the feminist DIY culture of Riot Grrrl in the 90s and and the digital media generation. The funding for this project was raised through a Kickstarter campaign and shows the popularity of self-publishing the present era. Elly is an advocate of tangiable publishing and works with Microcosm Publishing to produce her publications.
Weber Woman’s Wrevenge
Available to read online at http://www.wrevenge.com/new/?page_id=23
Weber Woman’s Wrevenge was an Australian SF fanzine by Jean Weber that ran for an impressive twenty years before wrapping up in 2001. Described as ‘a fanzine of science fiction, fantasy and feminism’, Weber welcomed ‘non-sexist’ contributions on any topic resulting in a lively publication covering a large range of topics and issues.
A scientist who had studied botany and previously worked for NASA, Weber, an expat American based in Canberra, discovered the world of science fiction fandom in 1975 and had become hooked by 1978. Also a feminist activist involved with the Women’s Electoral Lobby, Weber wrote in issue 1 of Weber Woman’s Wrevenge “My taste in SF runs to what I call ‘sociological‘ SF and lately 80% of what I read is by women writers’.
Issue 5 of Weber Woman’s Wrevenge shows Weber’s interests in action, with book reviews particularly focusing on Science Fiction or Fantasy books featuring strong female characters or an emphasis on women’s issues as well as books covering environmental, social or political issues. A key topic of Issue 5 is also women in space or rather, at the time, the lack of (one big issue holding women back in the early years of space travel was the inability to use a tube through which to urinate), with Weber’s editor’s comments creating conversations throughout the text.