AltaZine

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Zine
Title: Altazine
Publisher:
Editor(s): Neil Faulkner
Type: letterzine
Date(s): 1996-1997
Frequency:
Medium: print
Fandom: Blake's 7
External Links:
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Contents

covers of #0, #2-#6

AltaZine was a UK-published Blake's 7 letterzine whch ran for seven issues between January 1996 and late 1997.

It was produced by Neil Faulkner and Judith Proctor in response to editorial restrictions imposed on the Horizon Letterzine, two issues of which Faulkner had edited in 1995. As Faulkner's editorial for AltaZine 0 explained:
The Horizon LZ, and other Horizon output, is quality stuff, but it's all rather staid. It's very flock wallpapery, very tasteful, terrified of treading on toes ... I would like to see something a little wilder, slightly tasteless, willing to take the odd risk and take the piss out of itself whilst doing so. Basically, a zine prepared to loosen up a bit and have a good laugh. If Horizon is a wine bar, welcome to the pub.
In 2000, the editor went into greater detail on Lysator, the Blake's 7 mailing list, about his reasons for deciding to publish Altazine:
".....along with Judith Proctor, I launched AltaZine. This was a direct response to what I perceived as the shortcomings of the Horizon Letterzine (editorship of which I had just resigned from, in utter disgust at the way a covert editorial policy - Diane's, largely made up as she went along - was being imposed on the contributors, people who were being silenced without even being told *why* they were being silenced). AltaZine ran for seven issues, with at most 40-something subscribers, before I decided to fold it. Not because the Horizon competition was too great (in fact the HLZ was in a state of decay around the same time), but because this Lyst had turned into the main forum of B7 discussion and was essentially doing the job I had envisaged for AltaZine, and more efficiently with a wider contributor base....

The issue in question was that hoary old chestnut called slash. I had allowed discussion of slash to enter the pages of the HLZ, and several people - I think it was four in all - cancelled their subscriptions as a result.....Anyway, from now on - said she - no mention of slash was to be made in the HLZ. This directive was coupled with the way Judith Proctor had used her LOC in HLZ #14 to advertise - quite legitimately, IMO - a number of zines she had acquired from the States. Unfortunately, some of these were Ashton Press publications. There is an unwritten rule in Horizon that you do not advertise Ashton zines. You do not even acknowledge their existence. Even though Ashton produce some highly regarded publications - including the marvellous Hellhound series - Horizon is not the place to find about them. That part of Judith's letter had to be replaced by an editorial paragraph of mine, which was naturally not allowed to mention Diane's belief that Judith was deliberately shit-stirring by discussing slash and advertising proscribed zines.

If you have a copy of HLZ #14, you will notice that some pages are barely legible. This is because my printer ribbon was worn out with reprinting the 'offending' passages, not once but twice, since most failed to meet with Diane's approval first time around. ...[1]

Content

Although envisaged primarily as a letterzine, AltaZine also included articles, convention reports, zine reviews, art, cartoons, vignette fiction, limericks, filks and anything else vaguely B7-related that the editors could cajole out of their subscribers or invent for themselves. Much of the zine's content ultimately came from either Faulkner or Proctor, with Faulkner determining the thematic nature of each issue (from AZ 3, each issue was focussed on a particular theme). Faulkner's editorial style was influenced heavily by rolegaming fanzines, particularly Paul Mason's Imazine and its mock-confrontational approach, such as letters peppered with snarky editorial interjections.

Many of the articles in AltaZine were concerned with Blake's 7 fan fiction, particularly what the editors considered to be the common pitfalls of the B7 fanfic then extant. Points raised in these (often deliberately provocative) articles were discussed at some length in the letters of comment that were the ostensible reason for AltaZine existing in the first place.

The burden of generating sufficient material to pad the zine out to length, coupled with the general dearth of contributions, led to Faulkner folding AltaZine after AZ 6. (AZ 7, though promised, never appeared.) In retrospect, it can be seen that AltaZine appeared just as Blake's 7 fandom was migrating in earnest to the internet, a medium much more suited than any print zine to the kind of open-ended discussion that Faulkner was attempting to facilitate. Print as a medium of fan discourse was dying, and AltaZine can only be regarded as an evolutionary dead end.

Nevertheless, AltaZine can also be seen as part of the 'new wave' of Blake's 7 fan writing that emerged in the late 1990s, when B7 fan fiction became more sophisticated, more experimental, more outward-looking and more 'literary'. Although nowhere near as 'edgy' as it liked to think it was, AltaZine did play some small part in this resurgence, though with a subsciber base of just a few dozen its impact could never be great. Some of its contents are reprinted online here.

From the flyer posted to Lysator in 1995:
"AltaZine - A new letterzine edited by Neil Faulkner.

The intent is to have a letterzine where anything and everything relating to Blake's 7 can be discussed (that includes slash). In addition to letters we'll be happy to print (space permitting) articles, filks, stories (up to 1,000 words), artwork, etc. We hope to particularly cover zines, what people like, why they like it, how people go about writing stories for them, etc etc.

Letters will be printed in full, except that the editors reserve the right to edit for the following - letters that drift far far away from Blake's 7 (unless they are really interesting), anything that might result in legal action and anything that is seriously abusive about another person. (Rubbish their views to your heart's content, but attack the view, not the holder of the view)

Neil says that if you're writing a real epic (and as far as I'm concerned, it has to be at least four pages long before it even begins to count as an epic), then marking sections that can be chopped if he runs out of space would be useful. Please don't hesitate to write lots if you have something interesting to say.

Neil is the kind of editor who feels happy to stick his own comments in the middle of your letter. He describes himself as a belligerent little sod... This makes for an interesting style of letterzine. I enjoy it, but I can't guarantee that everyone will. Those who had the last two issues of the Horizon letterzine will be familiar with the style."[2]

Other Blake's 7 Discussion Zines

Reactions and Reviews

This is a letterzine where anything and everything relating to Blake's 7 can be discussed (that includes slash). In addition to letters we'll be happy to print (space permitting) articles, filks, stories (up to 1,000 words), artwork, etc. Neil hopes to particularly cover zines, what people like, why they like it, how people go about writing stories for them, etc etc.

Letters will be printed in full, except that the editor reserves the right to edit for the following - letters that drift far far away from Blake's 7 (unless they are really interesting), anything that might result in legal action and anything that is seriously abusive about another person. (Rubbish their views to your heart's content, but attack the view, not the holder of the view)

Neil says that if you're writing a real epic (and as far as I'm concerned, it has to be at least four pages long before it even begins to count as an epic), then marking sections that can be chopped if he runs out of space would be useful. Please don't hesitate to write lots if you have something interesting to say. I wrote loads last issue, and he didn't axe any of it. (more fool Neil <grin>)

Neil is the kind of editor who feels happy to stick his own comments in the middle of your letter. He describes himself as a belligerent little sod... This makes for an interesting style of letterzine. I enjoy it, but I can‘t guarantee that everyone will. [3]

AltaZine 0

January 1996, 44 A4 pages slide bound, compiled on an Amstrad PCW with dot matrix print (used for the first three issues).

Originally envisaged as a slim-line launch issue with just a few articles to generate discussion, AZ 0 ended up as a full length zine with a wide range of content. Articles included The Enemy Within (the role of the antagonist in fan fiction, by Judith Proctor), the role of e-mail zines (a relatively new phenomenon within fandom), also by Proctor, some thoughts on writing style (by Faulkner and Proctor), Let's Hear It For Dayna (analysis of a largely disregarded canon regular, by Faulkner), Who's In Control (on military intelligence within the Terran Federation, by Faulkner), Servalan and Sleer (Proctor), two articles on the Liberator (by Proctor and Faulkner respectively), Blake's Great (by Joyce Bowen), Should Zines Publish Serials? (Proctor), and How Many Ways Back? (a taxonomy of B7 fanfic, by Faulkner).

Additional content includes two pieces of fiction, Cover Story by N O'Treally (ie Faulkner), and part one of Voyage of Terror by Ellen A Rufkin (anagram...), three cartoons by Faulkner, a page of zine news and three pages of zine reviews. Four letters of comment fill 13 pages of the zine. There are also two full-page illustrations by Whitby27.

AltaZine 1

April 1996, 54 A4 pages comb-bound. The cover attempts, with only partial success, to depict the crew of the Liberator as the characters from Reservoir Dogs. (Whilst 'Ms Jenna' and 'Nice Bloke Vila' look passably like the canon characters, 'Mr Blake' looks like nothing more than Harvey Keitel wearing a woolly hat).

The first 'proper' issue of AltaZine contains a range of articles from diverse contributors, with Proctor confining herself to zine reviews and a letter of comment. Articles include Avon and Anna by Jean Graham, Attack of the Claypit People (common pitfalls of B7 fanfic, by Faulkner), Lemme Tell You What Like A Virgin's About... (a comparison of B7 with Quentin Tarantino movies, by Faulkner), Why Blake is so Frequently Depicted as a Moron in Fan Fiction by Sondra Sweigman, Standrd by 7d6 (experiences of role-playing B7, by Faulkner), The Art of Falling Apart (on the Avon/Cally relationship, by Faulkner), and Let The Young Blood Freeze!, examples of (supposedly) awful fan writing selected by Faulkner.

Additional material includes The Test (short fiction by Brad Black), part two of Voyage of Terror, The Passenger (Iggy Pop filk by 'SLR', actually Faulkner), Chuck Berry filk (by Faulkner), a cartoon by Faulkner/Andrew Williams, zine news, zine reviews, and 6 letters of comment over 23 pages.

AltaZine 2

Summer 1996, 50 A4 pages comb-bound. Cover is a photocopied portrait of Servalan with a safety pin through her nose and the legend Never Mind the Federation - Here's the Bollocks in cut-out lettering.

Articles include The Crucial Element? (Faulkner analysing the Blake/Avon relationship), Destroy the Old Order (Faulkner comparing punk with Blake's 7 and fandom), Sex and War (Faulkner and Proctor debating the 4th season episode Power), I Really Tried to Write This B7 Story But... by Chris Blenkarn, and Slash: The Case Against (Faulkner and Proctor's contrasting views on slash fiction).

Additional material includes poem by Avon lamenting Anna Grant's death (uncredited, but by Faulkner), part three of Voyage of Terror (B7/Beavis and Butthead crossover), short fillers by Brad Black, and five letters of comment over 20 pages.

AltaZine 3

Undated, but late 1996/early 1997, 42 A4 pages comb-bound. This and future issues were compiled on a Sharp FontWriter with consequent improvement in quality and readability of print. Cover features photocopied image of Avon confronting Blake in the final moments of the series, with speech bubbles reiterating a very old joke about hamsters and sellotape. AZ 3 proclaimed itself to be a 'Kinky Sex Special!'

Articles include three perspectives on slash (Why Slash?, Random Thoughts on Some B7 Slash Pairings and Romancing the Slash) by Sarah Thompson, Loving Them to Death (discussing hurt/comfort fanfic, by Faulkner), All In The Mind (on conditioning and brainwashing in B7, by Proctor), and a report on the 1996 Who's 7 Convention, by Faulkner.

Additional material includes a short piece of untitled fiction by Brad Black, Aunty Anna's Agony Column (by Faulkner), zine news, zine reviews, 6 letters of comment over 18 pages, and a country and western-style filk by Faulkner.

AltaZine 4

Spring 1997, 50 A4 pages, stapled. Cover (supposedly) depicts an ageing craggy-faced Avon standing over Blake's tombstone, but Faulkner's limitations as an artist are more than usually apparent here.

AZ 4 touts itself as a 'hardtech special', with 'hardtech' being a style of fanfic writing that was never satisfactorily defined, and not least by Faulkner who coined the term in the first place. Articles include an attempt to define it by Faulkner, The Politics of B7 by Pat Fenech, A Hard-Wired Seven? (writing B7 as cyberpunk, by Faulkner), Erotica in Fanfic by Sondra Sweigman, Oh No, Not Tarrant... (personal experiences of writing for particular characters, by Faulkner), My Top Ten Episodes (by Faulkner), Ve Haf Vay Of Making You Talk (on Federation interrogation techniques, by Proctor), and Beating The Odds (survival rates in fan fiction, by Faulkner).

Additional material includes Zine Fever (filk by Proctor and Kathryn Andersen), Freeze On, Young Blood (more fanfic howlers), a tongue-in-cheek comparison of B7 and Star Trek by Brad Black, Aunty Anna's Agony Column (by Faulkner and Chris Blenkarn), six letters of comment over 24 pages and back page art by Joyce Bowen.

AltaZine 5

Summer 1997, 46 A4 pages corner-stapled. Cover depicts a group of decimas (from the 1st season episode The Web) at a bowling alley to tie in with AZ 5 being an 'Unearthly Alien Special'.

Articles include Not Of This Earth (a discussion of aliens in SF in general and B7 in particular, by Faulkner), More Human Than I Am (discussing 'humanoid' aliens in particular, by Faulkner), Fraggle Waggle, or I'm Looting The Body (moon discs as player characters in the Horizon B7 Role-Playing Game, by Faulkner), Media*West convention report (by Proctor), On Zine Reviews by Chris Blenkarn, What's Wrong With Action Scenes? by Russ Massey, I Drink Therefore I Am (considering 'the merits of the various members of the crew as martini mixers', by Chris Blenkarn), What Might Have Been (factual article on casting considerations for the series, by Russ Massey), and Once A Jolly Rebel (on political reality in B7 fan fiction, by Faulkner).

Additional material includes After Hours (short fiction, by Faulkner), Del Tarrant's Deep Space Cookbook (satire, by Faulkner), a limerick by Susan Bennett, a couple of B7 elephant jokes, zine news and reviews, and five letters of comment over 17 pages.

AltaZine 6

Autumn 1997, 40 A4 pages margin-stapled. Cover for this 'Spicey Girlpower Special' depicts the five leading female characters of the series as the Spice Girls and was drawn by Whitby27.

Articles include Deadlier Than The Male (by Faulkner) and The Women of Blake's 7 (by Pam Baddeley) discussing the role of female characters in the series, Get Away From Her, You Bitch (an analysis of the action woman in SF, by Faulkner), Good Women Wasted (underdevelopment of the female leads in B7, by Faulkner), The Definitive Guide to Women in Media Science Fiction by Russ Massey, Starfleet Experience 1997 convention report by Chris Blenkarn, and On Being A Fan Artist by Whitby27.

Additional material includes an Otis Redding filk by Faulkner, fillers by Brad Black, the one entry for the (prizeless) B7 Blues competition (from Brad Black), a spoof flier for the upcoming Deliverance 98 convention, and four letters of comment over 10 pages.

References

  1. Subject: Re: [B7L] Horizon 2.0/*Wild* accusations! post by Neil F. dated March 29, 2000.
  2. Subject: New letterzine by Judith P. dated Oct 9, 1995.
  3. from Judith Proctor
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