Harry Turner's Footnotes to Fandom
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The basic concept . . .

I picked up a remaindered copy of Arthur Clarke's By Space Possessed recently. Glancing through a piece titled 'Memoirs of an Armchair Astronaut (Retired)', harking back to the thirties, I read "The actual building of rockets was frowned upon, for it would only result in police proceedings under the 1875 Explosives Act, as a group of experimenters in the north country has already proved." That comment, I thought, screams out for an explanatory footnote.

And I have just such a one ready - my piece on Rex v The Manchester Interplanetary Society.

So thanks to Space Sage Clarke for the suggestion. I am only too well aware that there are several fan histories extant and while I'm hardly qualified to compete, I can comfortably supply a string of footnotes to fill in some detail perhaps overlooked in their grand sweeps over events.

FOOTNOTES TO FANNISH HISTORY is the [tentative] title of the project, which may blossom out as a fanzine in the foreseeable future, enabling me to publish my memories and recent research into the archives in convenient chunks and, hopefully, evoke a response from surviving contemporaries.

blobCollate the prints made of N&T covers drawn during 1937-8 - make up as collage to illustrate article. Also rescue all the prints that have been screened:

boxarrowStan Davies / Bill Heeley / Truax meeting / Marion & self / two Leeds groups a) Mcr fans b) with Leeds leading lights / Gottliffe / Cleator (from Tomorrow)

barboxarrowCovers of Satellite and Fantast - check what's available. New Worlds, Zenith etc.

blobHiking photos / Marion at Empirex

blobCover of The Astronaut Issue #2 facsimile, Issue #3 facsimile, Aug '38 facsimile

blobFile of cuttings from MEN - Things to Come script and news items.

blobCheck Armchair Science articles...

25 April 96

It was a damp Sunday in mid-September, 1938. I'd been pottered around doing odd jobs, feeling less than up to any violent activity. Rocket, the family fox terrier, seemed unusually lively, obviously raring for an outing... I had resisted the invitation. George Ellis and Fred Tozer, early arrivals for the monthly SFA branch meeting, were with me in the attic clubroom, investigating the latest additions to the library.

Interest centred on a rebound volume of an Edwardian scientific romance, an 1899 epic by A. Laurie, The Conquest of the Moon, with some intriguing engraved illustrations, and a copy of John Gloag's 1932 SF novel, Tomorrow's Yesterday (which had intrigued me with its typographical innovations), both picked up cheap at sales of the now defunct Mudie's library.

We were interrupted by the sound of the doorbell and the barking of Rocket. I careered downstairs to greet Eric Needham and Stan Davies, and hung about momentarily trying to call back the dog, who after pausing to be made a fuss of had gone bounding down the street, chasing fallen leaves with an excess of energy. We abandoned him and staggered up the four flights of stairs to the clubroom

boxarrow[Refer to latest (September 1938) NT and Maurice's complaints about the lack of response, etc.]

boxarrow[E.S.N.: "If we draw a right angle to represent 90o, a straight line to show 180o, and a circle for 360o, then two straight lines equal a circle?"]

Eric stayed on after the others had departed, scrounged a sheet of SFA notepaper and while I dozed he stabbed purposefully at the typewriter. He paused to ask if I'd a spare envelope, tucked in a brief note, and scrawled an address on it.. Anticipating his next request, I told him I was out of stamps, whereat he departed without revealing who he'd been writing to.

All was revealed when the next issue of Novae Terrae appeared (November 1938). The first letter in the readers' letter column, 'SCRIPSI...' (page 11), was from Eric. Maurice had captioned it "From a Proof Reader":

This latest Novae Terrae is a great improvement on all the previous ones, and I can only find three spelling mistakes, five misprints, two over-spacings and one rare case of a missed inverted comma. But on page 11 there are eight dots after SCRIPSI, and on page 17 there are ten. Whose fault is this?"

No editorial comment was forthcoming, but I guess Eric's response had lightened Maurice's deep gloom: at least there were no more threats in the next issue to cease publication.

the "pilot" for a series of occasional pieces published by the Septuagenarian Fans Association
Harry Turner, 1996.

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