Comlink 51 was published in June 1992 and contains 22 pages. The front cover is by Zaquia Tarhuntassa.
- the new editor, Linda, comments on some publishing memories:
- a fan remarks that Enterprising Women has been written: It is a sociological analysis of women in (mostly) Star Trek fandom. Camille is also the author of an article that appeared in 'The New York Times' several years ago, entitled Spock Among the Women. Though the book is quite recent (the past 2 or 3 months), Camille has been compiling her research since the early '80s.
- a fan comments on an earlier comment, about wishing that there was a fannish library of scholarly works; he writes: Yes, it's regrettable (and sometimes infuriating) that there's no central fan/historical library; some individuals and Universities have collections, but they aren't really accessible. It's being worked on. Someone (Willie Sykoura? in Texas?) has been cataloging fan material into a Libraries Association online Index. Several others are working on systems for putting old fanzines on to CD-ROM (or whatever it is) -- the technology seems to be available, just not yet affordable. A problem that everyone is trying to ignore is that of copyright law -- apparently (with copyright law, no one is SURE OF ANYTHING) permission would have to come from all the contributors, which would often be impossible and always excessively time-consuming and expensive. Most likely, if such recording and circulation is done, it will be done quietly with the hope that no one sue for such a non-profit endeavor. As Bjo once said, very sweetly, to someone who suggested that she pay him royalties for a piece she'd reprinted in a fanzine, 'It takes up 1/64th of the zine... sure, I'd be delighted to sign an Iron-Clad Legal Contract which provides that I pay you 1/64th o the profits, or you pay me 1/64th of the loss, as the case may be.' He was smart enough to back down.
- the editor of the letterzine replies to the above copyright comment:
- there is an increasing amount of fannish chat about computers and how to transfer information from one source/file to another. One fan comments: The thought occurred to me while at Balticon this year, as I was swapping VHS tapes and floppy disks, that, 20 years ago, the fannish medium of information exchange was the Printed Word, usually mimeographed, although photocopy was beginning to make itself known. Today, it's videotape, diskettes, BBS systems and networks, modem to modem transfers and Electronic Mail. Yet... that pesky Printed Word on paper keeps hanging on, although in word-processed desktop-published laser-printed format. Allyson just sent me a copy of a fanzine that's still mimeod, although the text is word-processed and the stencils are cut on the computer's printer. Part of the editor's section described what has to be the Last Gasp of the Gestetner, the Godzilla of the Mimeo business. It was an electrostencil cutter that you hung on your computer. It took bitmaps and converted them to mimeo stencils. What an outstanding fannsh hack!
- a fan describes Internet nodes and microcomputers and ... There's this group of fans in the Baltimore area who have their own microcomputers, one of them which has been set up as an Internet node. For a modest sum, ANYONE with a terminal/computer and modem can have their very own Internet address and complete access to the diverse newsgroups/discussion groups on the Internet. They brought one of their minis to Balticon this year and set it up as an Internet node in their suite. There were VERY few times when they were 'open' that all six terminals weren't occupied with fans interfacing with the Internet.
- a fan reviews the Star Wars pro book "Heir to the Empire" v.1; she likes it okay but wishes the author had provided more physical detail
- a fan describes a fan gathering in Germany in which folks dressed up and went to see the new Trek movie
- a long-time fan remembers that the rare female fan in the 1960s was sometimes called a femfan; he thinks that the lack of females in sf fandom was that it was males who had discretionary income, spare time, and comparatively few responsibilities; he also thinks there are few minorities in fandom because (aside from the Chinese and Japanese), fewer minority cultures place a big emphasis on literacy, that life in other countries is too hard to think about having fun, and that fandom can be expensive which knocks out those without discretionary income
- a fan writes a long description of her experience of being at Issac Asimov's memorial service
- fans are distressed about the Rodney King rioting in L.A. and ask about the well-being of fans who live in that area
Comlink 52 was published in September 1992 and contains 20 pages. The front cover is by Bob Miller.
- the editor thanks folks for voting for the zine and making it a Fan Q winner
- this issue has a Star Trek: TNG fifth season synopsis
- fans are excited about the debut of the Sci Fi Channel
- there is an article by Bob Miller called "Beauty and the Beast: An Animator Perspective" and it talks about the Disney movie
- there is a review of the pro book "Dark Force Rising"
- there is a review of the novelization of the Star Trek movie, "The Undiscovered Country"
- a fan writes: "The printed fanzine is still in evidence; you're holding one."
- a fan adds to the reasons why early fandom tended to be a male thing: "It was difficult for a woman to travel alone to conventions."
- a fan writes of Star Wars fandom: Star Wars fandom flared like a nova. I have to say yeas as I am sure it were still going well, LucasFilm wouldn't have folded the Star Wars fan club into the umbrella of LucasFilm Fan Club. By the way, does anyone know if he's going to make anymore pictures in the Star Wars series?" Another fan comments: "As to Star Wars fandom dying, well, it's been a long time since I've seen (a) SW costumes at a science fiction con; (b) heard anyone discuss SW at a con, or (3) seen SW art at a SF con. With very little to keep it going, I think that SW fandom may well be on the way to dying.
- a fan contemplates medium: I don't know where the idea comes from that there is some sort of bias against fans who use computers, certainly not to produce a fanzine. Those who ONLY uses computers to communicate aren't part of fandom because they don't interact with all of fandom, just the circle on the nets. Seems to me there is a prejudice against traditional fans who aren't on the nets or do printed fanzines, like they are 'out of the loop.
Comlink 53 was published in December 1992 and contains 20 pages. The front cover is by Zaquia Tarhuntassa.
- a fan reviews the pro book by Peter David called "Imzadi"
- a fan reviews Enterprising Women. An excerpt: "Who Watches the Watchers?: I used to wonder how those aboriginal people felt about being observed by Margaret Mead. But I think I understand – now that I’ve read ‘Enterprising Women’ a new academic treatise… Its author Camille Bacon-Smith, is an ethnographer (in my day, we called ‘em anthropologists) who made a conscious decision to become a fan in order to study the phenomenon. She spent five years gradually infiltrating fandom, making friends with ‘mentors’ who could introduce her to aspects of culture not accessible to mundanes. (And oddly enough, she never uses the word ‘mundane,’ which suggests that five years wasn’t enough time for her to pick up the basic lingo.) So how does it feel to be an object of study? Like the aborigines, I felt uneasy and wary. but unlike them, I am capable of reading the published results and judging them for myself whether they are accurate." The entire review is at Enterprising Women.
- a fan writes a long con report for Costume Con #10. Some of the panels: "Making Fandom More Diverse," 'Slavery Themes in Fantasy and Science Fiction," "Paradigm for First Contact," "Ethnicity and Utopias," "Cultural Diversity in Our Future," "Costuming on the Cheap," and "Old Trekkies Never Die, They Just Take Over Fandom" (this last one had Bjo Trimble on the panel)
- a fan takes another to task for an earlier comment: "Geeze, I never said that the printed fanzine was dead or even moribund; I said that despite all the technological innovations of the past decades, it's still extant, albeit in word process-laser printed form. It take strong exception to your comment about those who ONLY use computers are not being a part of fandom. Considering that one night's load of messages on FidoNet concerning SF and Star Trek equals 10 or so issues of Comlink in content and verbiage, I think that participants are indeed part of fandom, even if they don't cling to ink/toner on paper as their primary form of communication. Fanzines are mentioned and comment upon, as are conventions attended, books read, films and TV seen. For some people, such as myself, hooking into FidoNet has enhanced my fannish endeavors in that I'm exposed to and interact with a larger circle of fans. I tend to think of the diverse SF groups on the various networks as a modern incarnation of the Round Robin letters popular in the early days of fandom. Just dependent on computer networks rather than the Post Office."
- a fan has read both Enterprising Women and Textual Poachers: "'Enterprising Women' brought back a lot of memories, both good and bad, about my early years in fandom. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a women's persecutive of media fandom. If you would like to read a book that takes a wider selection of media fandom, you might want to read Textual Poachers. This book looks at everything from fanzines to filk and covers more genres than 'Enterprising Women' did. These two books make good companion pieces to each other. A note, however. Both of these books look at slash fiction in detail, with 'Poachers' using explicit excerpts. If you are offended by slash, you might want to skip those chapters."
- the editor runs the results for the "Comlink 1992 Readership and Fifth Season ST:TNG Survey." She sent out 76 of them and got a 42% return rate
Comlink 54 was published in March 1993 and contains 24 pages. The front cover is by Zaquia Tarhuntassa.
- a fan makes two comments about the review of Enterprising Women in the previous issue: "Some aborigines are capable of reading the publication of enthnographers -- I believe that at least the Navajo, Crow, and Northern Cheyanne Tribes have sponsored the publication of reubttuls to such studies. Not on the basis of 'We're better than that' or 'We're not that primitive,' but more on the lines of, to paraphrase George Barr's comment on an to neofan artists: 'You draw eyes, mouths, noses, cheek-bones, and ears very well, but you don't quite put them in the right places."
- about the differences between print and computer fandom, a fan remarks: "Traditional (fanzine) fandom... [began when] more people lived in small towns then, and even those in major cities were isolated from others who read that 'crazy Buck Rogers stuff,' but there were hundreds of other fans no farther than my mailbox. Today, there are thousands no farther away than one's computer and modem. Maybe there are drawbacks to that, if only that it's possible that a human being can only handle a hundred or so interpersonel relationships, but not much more than that, so that people are more psychologically remote even though an interchange takes a matter of hours rather than weeks or months."
- a fan contemplates the 'new' fandom: "While there's an overlap in membership and interest, Fanzine-Paper Fandom and Computer BBS Fandom are two very different fandoms. Both, I think, are good and rewarding to the people who participate in them. From a non-Computerist viewpoint, though, I can see certain things lacking in Computer Fandom which I value in Fanzine Fandom (and, of course, BBS fans see lacks in Fanzine fandom). There's a much higher level of ephemerality and an absence of tradition, for one thing -- it may be possible to download and save BBS discussions but apparently, it's rarely done, and few newcomers have access to what has gone before... a sort of a background which gives people a sense of Group Identity. For another: the immediacy of a BBS is such to encourage off-the-cuff writing (and for a largely anonymous audience at that), whereas fanzine writers have at least an eye on the possibility that people ten years in the future may be reading what they're writing now... For a third: almost everyone in the literate world has access to mailboxes, whereas Computer BBS access (despite the vast numbers who have it) is really quite limited -- mostly on an economic basis -- so that a large number of potentially-valuable fans are entirely frozen out. Admittedly, all these objections also apply to some extent to paper fanac, but I do believe that the difference in degree is substantive."
- a fan writes that even paper fanzines, despite their more stable format (as opposed to computer fandom), can be difficult to find. "In all honesty, after citing the comparative permanence and preservation of traditional virtues of paper fanzines, I have to confess that it would be dreadfully difficult to FIND [some of these old zines]. Such things would be a whole lot easier once someone has transferred all fanzines to CD-ROMS where they can be searched by computers via keywords." The editor responds "Interesting, scanning old fanzines and APAs for the express purpose of fannish research like this. I can only imagine the number of times the scanner program would barf at some of the fannish terms because no matter how hard one tried to keep the dictionary updated, the nature of fannish language is change and boy, do we like that change that!"
- fans have been discussing whether the new Disney movie, Aladdin, has a scene that is offensive to Arabs and is bigoted. One fan writes: "Have you heard the ruckus that some Arab-Americans are raising over 'Aladdin/ Seems they take offense at one line in the opening song and are trying to pressure Disney to remove it when it is released on videocassette. They claim it perpetrates a negative stereotype about Arabs. I suppose that the negative stereotypes of beheadings and stonings in Saudi Arabia are OK, because it's fellow Arabs wielding the sword and unloading the stones. By the way, stoning has gone high tech in Saudi Arabia. The victim, usually a woman convicted of adultery, is drugged, zipped into a body bag, and then a dumptruck load of rocks is dumped on her. Let's hear it for our valiant ally in the recent Gulf Conflict! Somehow I can't get too upset about Aladdin annoying the Arabs as they seem to be getting. The old hoary saying, 'Eff'em if they can't take a joke!' comes to mind." The editor and a fan specifically address this letter in issue #56.
Comlink 55 was published in June 1993 and contains 26 pages. The front cover is by Zaquia Tarhuntassa.
- in this issue, Linda Deneroff explains the role that Slow Boat to Bespin in Open Letter to Star Wars Zine Publishers by Maureen Garrett, read more there
- a fan writes: "I caught the Quantum Leap finale. What a joke, and not a pleasant one at that. Personally, I think it was Bellasario's way of giving the way to NBC, but he was giving the finger to the fans at the same time."
- Joan Marie Verba writes: "Since 1990, I have been working on a history of Star Trek fanzines. The manuscript is finished, but Pocket doesn't want it, so I'm planning on publishing it myself."
- Joan Verba writes that the Lucasfilm flap affected fanzine publication in the least. "All that either of this action ever did was stir up a lot of outrage and start a lot of rumors. Star Wars and Star Trek fanzines, even X-rated ones, have continued to be published as if the incidents never took place."
- a fan draws the line at the fannish Jesus: "I have to say that I thought the portrayal of Jesus, as described by Comllink 53, was offensive. If the portrayal was meant to honor Him and spread His word, then I'm out of line and apologize, but Jesus is not a character in fandom to be parodied and put on display as a vaudeville act. I'm not easily offended by this sort of thing; I thought Last Temptation raised some interesting questions and was very thought-provoking, and The Life of Brian was an absolute masterpiece, but notice that neither of these held up the concept that Jesus as a thing to ridicule. If you don't follow Him, then you certainly have a right to make a fool of yourself in public, but please understand how very offensive such a thin is to those like me who do follow Him. Even Saturday Night Live, the great offender, treats Him with respect; Phil Hartman has always portrayed Jesus in character, or at least what we think to be his character. And what is this doing in a zine about entertainment media anyway?"
- a fan uses the term spoiler alert, the first time seen in this letterzine
- a fan writes: "I don't know why some fans insist on stating that their way of fannish communication (print vs computer) is best. Both have their pluses and minuses, and both offer fans the opportunity to converse with each other. I've heard it stated very confidently that BBSs will put an end to to fanzines in the very near future. Most fans, those with with money I guess, will use BBSs exclusively to communicate, and the few without computers will be left out in the cold. I suppose it would also be an end to conventions. I mean, why bother with the expense and time of attending cons to talk to a lot of people at once when it can be done from the comfort of your own computer?" The editor responds: "I hope you are at least a little tongue-in-cheek here. Bulletin Boards are great for communicating, but there are SOME drawbacks. Consider this: a conversation that, in Comlink, for example, spans a year, lasts only a week on the bulletin board. There's left time to actually consider the words that one leaves behind in the public arena. Have you ever seen some of the 'flame wars' that take place on bulletin boards? Feelings bruise more easily because people can't read teh emotions behind the words of strangers. That's why emoticons were invented. And bulletin boards will never do away with conventions, because nothing beats a good con for one-on-one discussion and vitality. None of this, however, stops me from going in GEnie every night!"
Comlink 56 was published in October 1993 and contains 20 pages. The front cover is by Zaquia Tarhuntassa.
- the editor announces that she is discontinuing the letterzine. "After 12 years of Comlink, I've decided that it's time to put this letterzine to rest. She's had a good life, longer than most, but it's time for me to push on. Rather than allowing Comlink to fall into disrepair, I'm going to escort her out... allowing this zine a dignified dissolution."
- the editor writes: "I realize this issue is quite late, and I do apologize for it My biggest excuse is that I really did not want to do this issue; it's been very difficult to say goodbye. More on that later as I have something to say that is just as troublesome. In short, I am very sad. I thought we fen were above this, but apparently as enlightened as we think we are, we can easily fall into a trap. I'm talking about our lack of the practice of IDIC. One aspect of the idea is that the Universe is filled with all kinds of people, places, and things, and by their interaction, we encounter aspects of life we might not have otherwise... I know by now you're wondering what the point of this discussion is leading to. It leads to the following Letter of Comment I'm printing here [in the editorial] rather than with the rest of the LoCs." The editor says she is going to do something she's never done before and not print any responses to this letter in issue #57. "Instead, just think about what was said there."
- this is the letter she is referring to: "Allyson asked that I write this LoC, after I wrote her privately about a LoCer's anti-Arab comments which appeared in issue #54. When I read or hear bigoted remarks like this, my first reaction is outrage. This is quickly followed by a deep sadness. How can an entire culture or religion defend itself against the smug ignorance of an individual?... Ethnic slurs and racist remarks have always been the ammunition of the coward, the immature, and the deeply insecure. When I read the racist statements like those printed in issue #54, I am left to wonder what is this LoCer so frightened of? It surely can't be a culture and religion he has determined to be vastly inferior to his own... Regrettably, humans by nature, judge other cultures by their most contemptible examples while judging their own by its most noble members. And we save our most harsh judgements for those cultures we find most alien to our own...I can only imagine what we, as a species, will do when we finally come face-to-face with a truly alien race. Unless we outgrow the kind of hate and immaturity this LoCer so ably demonstrated, something tells me it won't be a pretty picture. To me, the real tragedy in this whole sordid matter is that racism and attacks on others just because they are 'different' shouldn't even be a problem in Star Trek fandom, but it is. Anyone who thinks otherwise is, frankly deluding themselves. There are blatant examples, such as the one addressed above. Then there are the more insidious forms, such as the use of the term mundanes, a term so easily bantered about among fans. That is nothing more than another way of isolating 'true' believers from the (excuse me) infidels, the good from the evil. Where will it end? Even computers have evolved beyond the '0' and '1', black and white, to fuzzy logic, where shades of gray are just not acceptable, but vastly preferable. Perhaps the cliche Trekker line should be changed from Get a Life! to 'Grow up!' before it is too late."
- this issue has a review of the pro book "The Man Who Created Star Trek: Gene Roddenberry" and the reviewer, David Alexander finds it full of faults, sloppy errors, and out-and-out lies
- Gordon Carleton writes a notice that a check for art show proceeds from [MediaWest*Con]] mailed to a fan, [L K], was altered and cashed for an amount substantially larger than it was written for. He is calling her out and telling other people in fandom to be aware of this fan
- a fan thinks Jesus has been portrayed poorly in fandom. "As a Christian, I found the telling of the event of someone dressed as Jesus for a con costume contest and then behaving in a very sacrilegious manner very offensive. I have seen misuse of Jesus or God as a character in some fanzines, also. I don't see any place for such offensive material at any Con or in any zine." The editor responds: "I am very sorry if you or any other reader was offended by material in Comlink. It wasn't our intention, but in this day and age, I find it difficult to determine was is and isn't offensive."
- a fan remembers an incident from the good old days: "Anyone remember the Duncan Sisters and their jihad against George Lucas over The Empire Strikes Back? Seems they were really upset over the somewhat bleak ending of TESB, and were demanding that the fans boycott the movie and that Lucas reshoot the final reels to make it a nice happy ending. After they got a letter from the Lucasfilm lawyers, they changed their tune and claimed that the projectionist must have 'lost' a reel because when they saw it again, everything made sense, and they were quite happy with the film."
- a fan remembers Lucasfilm's supposed crackdown on dealers selling unlicensed merchandise, usually pictures and the like: "Once incident I recall was at IguanaCon, the Phoenix World Con in 1978. The FBI showed up at the Dealers Room and the badge checker at the door said in a LOUD voice, 'I don't care if YOU ARE THE FBI, you can't come in here without a membership!' Tables were hastily covered, and what the Feds couldn't see, they couldn't do anything about."
- a fan speculates on fanzines online: "The thing about computers and fandom is that it depends on the fan using the computer. If anything, computers make publishing a fanzine far easier than in the good old days of mimeography and the not so good old days of xerographed fanzines... I can literally produce a 3-4 page newsletter in a day with the computer. If I had to do this with a typer and mimeo/xerox, it'd be too much trouble and I wouldn't bother. Granted there are some fans who only want to BBS as their non-con fanac, and there are some who consider the computer as the Agent of Satan and the Downfall of Fandom as We Know It. Both are wrong. The computer is merely a tool for communication. And that's what fandom is all about, communication... BBS conversations are just as interesting and fun as face-to-face talking. Imagine a whole year of Comlink taking place over a weekend." The editor shudders: "Perish the thought of Comlink online. I have enough trouble doing a quarterly... Imagine the prospects of having to be online every damned day lest someone say something taken wrong and have holy flame wars ablaze. No thank you. I frequent BBS and am amazed at the dedication the SysOps and the Echo Moderators have. That smacks too much of having a real job in fandom."
Comlink 57 was published in February 1994 and contains 20 pages. It was the last issue. The front cover is by Zaquia Tarhuntassa.
- there is much discussion of minority representation in current media portrayals
- Ming Wathne writes: The situation with the Duncan sisters and Star Wars fandom was somewhat of a comedy. No one is exactly sure what happened, but it is interesting to read about. The Library has a copy of the last letter they sent out before they stopping putting out their zine. It is interesting to see the other side of the picture. As a Librarian, you do get some interesting insights into the fanzine world that are generally not available to others.
- a fan writes of the circle of life of letterzines: I fully understand your reasons for needing to quit. When fandom lost Interstat a few years ago, I consoled myself that I had Comlink. Now I hope you do your readers a favor and suggest other letterzines they might subscribe to. After all, I originally started reading Comlink after Jundland Wastes died. Remember that one?
- and on the last page, the editor writes: This is what Fandom means to me -- the caring and sharing. As much as we may bitch and moan and this one and that one, somehow when it becomes necessary, we pull together and express that genuine emotion of caring...You and Comlink were a part of my life for over 13 years and whilst parting company is never easier, I hope that you've had as much fun as I have... Yes, there are a few ratbags that tend to spoil it for the rest of us, but all and all, I feel blessed by the friendships I've made and kept all these years of participating in Fandom. So, instead of 'good-bye', I say 'thank you' to all of you, to everyone that enriched my life beyond anything that I could ever hope to pay back.