Darkover Newsletter/Issues 51-60

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Issue 51 (December 1990)

front page of issue #51

Darkover Newsletter 51 was published in December 1990 and contains 18 pages.

  • the editor writes about avoiding cliches
  • MZB's letter is an memorial to Donald A. Wollheim, the creator of Locus
  • Elisabeth Waters' column, "Notes from Under the Desk" includes this: "I'm glad 1990 is just about over; it's been a very interesting year. MZB's divorce from from Walter Breen was final in May, and he got the PO Box she'd been using for her personal mail... So if anyone has an address for MZB, (or me, since I live with her) that isn't one of those boxes, please delete it from your records ... Walter Breen is still employed by MZB Enterprises and is working on an updated Darkover Concordance. He was sentenced on November 30th to three years' probation for one count of sexually molesting a child under the age of 14 that he pled guilty to on June 8th. MZB was hospitalized three times this year... Jan Burke has resigned as Managing Editor of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine... I could use a chance to calm down and get organized."

Issue 52 (March 1991)

front page of issue #52

Darkover Newsletter 52 was published in March 1991 and contains 18 pages.

  • the editor writes of using foreshadowing in one's writing
  • MZB's letter talks about some of the mail she gets every day, mail that gets odder and odder each year. "Every crackpot letter you can imagine, I've probably gotten it at two or three times. This article, believe me, just skims the surface. But I still open the mail with eagerness each day. Heaven knows why."
  • the editor tells a fan: "As to writing Darkover fiction... if you want to try your hand at it, fine. MZB is perfectly cheerful about her characters being used, provided they are not already dead... they do not act out of character for themselves, and her major characters are not killed off by someone else. Practically speaking, this means you have to treat existing Darkover novels as if that were as historical as the American Revolution, and not resurrect George Washington as a Regency rake."
  • there is a full-page form for fans who want a pen pal

Issue 53 (June 1991)

front page of issue #53

Darkover Newsletter 53 was published in June 1991 and contains 20 pages.

  • the editor writes that she was "exposed to the dreaded SDT syndrome. Twice." She goes on to explain that SDT is "Show Don't Tell" and how it manifests itself in writing
  • MZB's letter concerns itself with the effects that her strokes have had on her memory, about trying to finish 'The Forest House' and how she defends writing flawed characters. "If all the characters are perfect role models, where is your contrast?"
  • MZB gives an update on her writing: "'Rediscovery' is having its second draft worked on. If all goes well, it should be published in 1992 or early 1993. 'Return to Darkover' is also in the intermediate-draft stage... The Roman Britain book, 'Forest House,' is nearly done. I'm working on the last chapter, changing the ending. The original ending was so gloomy, it depressed me."
  • this issue contains a logic puzzle

Issue 54 (September 1991)

front page of issue #54

Darkover Newsletter 54 was published in September 1991 and contains 22 pages.

  • the editor gives some more writing tips
  • MZB's letter says she doesn't like it when she hears of any of her books being required reading in colleges and high school classes as it takes all the fun out of it and writes at length about the value of childrens' ability and desire to read
  • there are two recipes, one for oat cookies and one for some punch
  • MZB warns a fan who's working up some scheduling for the Darkover Grand Council Meeting that "the only thing I can say is: don't take it too seriously! It's just a game."
  • this issue contains a logic puzzle

Issue 55 (December 1991)

front page of issue #55

Darkover Newsletter 55 was published in December 1991 and contains 18 pages.

  • the editor offers some writing tips
  • MZB's letter talks of her relief at getting through the year without a stroke or heart attack and Greyhaven escaped the firestorms in the area. "On piece of news is not so good. My ex-husband, Walter Breen's fate has been much discussed; yes, he is in jail on charges of child molesting. He plead guilty to one count of 'lewd or lascivious acts with a child under age 14' at his trial last year and got probation. But when another little boy complained, his probation was revoked, and he is now in jail pending another trial." She mentions her daughter has given her a tape of the Rivendell Suite "a group of songs I wrote some years ago to words by Tolkein.
  • MZB writes that Joan Marie Verba is "another discovery I'm very proud of."
  • a fan asks when Contraband and "Return to Darkover" be released. MZB responds: "'Contraband' hasn't been written yet. 'Return to Darkover' is half done. 'Re-Discovery' is being rewritten by Mercedes Lackey, whose approach to Darkover is a lot like mine..."
  • a logic puzzle

Issue 56 (March 1992)

front page of issue #56

Darkover Newsletter 56 was published in March 1992 and contains 22 pages.

  • the editor has some writing tips and reviews some computer creative writing programs: Plots Unlimited, First Aid for Writers, Collaborator and StoryLine
  • MZB comments on all the books that she's sent asking for some comments or blurbs. She writes that if the book hasn't grabbed her by the first chapter or so, it's just not going to, and she doesn't have time to mess around with that stuff anymore
  • there is a memorial written for John Shimwell who died December 21, 1991
  • a fan writes that he was disappointed in 'Black Trillium." MZB responds: "I had the stroke during 'Black Trillium.' Both Andre Norton and I made it clear that the book was fantasy and not science fiction and Julian May put all kinds of science fiction cliches in it. Both Andre and I were unhappy -- we were unable to protest effectively... my collaborators did what they thought best for it. I feel like a fake for signing a copy."
  • this issue contains an ever present logic puzzle

Issue 57 (June 1992)

front page of issue #57

Darkover Newsletter 57 was published in June 1992 and contains 18 pages.

  • more writing tips from the editor
  • MZB's letter is mostly about how she enjoyed the movie and book 'Silence of the Lambs'
  • MZB has a one-page parody called "It's Getting Dark on Darkover"
  • MZB writes: "When I get tired of Darkover, I'll be tired of life."
  • Jean Lamb has a letter that says, in part, "I was very sad to hear of John Shimwell's death. I found his casta dictionary extremely helpful while writing Masks."
  • there is a recipe for "Ordinary Nut-Cake" along with a discussion on sweetening agents for cake (honey? sugar? yams?)
  • MZB writes "I never know what books I'm going to write until I've written them. At present, I'm finishing up 'Return to Darkover' and beginning Contraband, about Rafael Hustur and Rafael Syrtis from 'The Hawkmaster's Son' in 'Keeper's Price.'"

Issue 58 (September 1992)

front page of issue #58

Darkover Newsletter 58 was published in September 1992 and contains 20 pages.

  • "Holes in My Yard," a letter by MZB:
    I've finished 'Rediscovery' and 'Return to Darkover'... My next project was going to be 'Contraband,' the novel about Dyan Ardais I mentioned in the introduction to Elisabeth Water's story 'A Proper Escort' in 'Renunciates of Darkover.' Unfortunately, my decades of encouraging young writers and allowing fans to 'play in my yard' just caught up to me. Somebody had written a fan novel covering the same time period, and I had read it. It used my characters, sometimes in ways I wouldn't have, but it also contained a few ideas I liked, so I offered the author a reasonable sum of money (about one sixth of what she would have received as the advance of a first novel) and an acknowledgment in the dedication for incorporating those ideas (not her writing) into my book. I offered this even though ideas cannot be copyrighted, because I have never believed in taking advantage of my fans. She wrote back saying that, while she could live with the monetary compensation Id offered, what she wanted was a shared byline. It might be that she thought I was asking to collaborate with her, although I cannot imagine what in my letter could have possibly given her that impression... This was essentially the same deal I made with Jacqueline Lichtenberg on 'Thendara House.' but unfortunately this person still did not seem willing to accept the deal. I talked to... my editor at DAW Books, who says the only person she would agree to have me share a byline on a Darkover novel with is Mercedes Lackey, who has collaborated with me on my last two Darkover novels, and is the writer to whom I am leaving the series when I am no longer able to write it. [My editor] also says that, under the circumstances, DAW cannot publish 'Contraband.' She was kind enough to refrain from pointing out that I had been an idiot to read fan fiction set in my world without a legal release form. I have, however, agreed to refrain from such behavior in the future. From now on, the only Darkover material I will read is anthology submissions accompanied by the proper release form. If you publish a Darkover fanzine, run an APA etc., do NOT send me copies. They will be returned unread by my office staff. (Instead, send any courtesy copies you would have previously sent to me directly to [address for the Mugar Library in Boston]. This is the depository for the 'Marion Zimmer Bradley Collection, and your work will contribute to making the collection more complete.) I'm sorry that things have come to this. I never wanted to have to keep a "professional distance" from my fans, and for more than twenty years I didn't need to. But I guess even the longest streak of good luck runs out eventually, and sometimes one bad apple does spoil the whole barrel. I regret having to give up a novel that I had already started work on, and I apologize to all of you who wanted to read it. --Signed Marion Zimmer Bradley.
    There is a note included:
    The fate of the Darkover fanzines, and of stories Marion Zimmer Bradley does not buy for the anthologies, is still being researched by Mrs. Bradley's lawyer. The person who started this problem has received a cease-and-desist order from Mrs. Bradley's lawyer. If she continues to distribute her Darkover material or writes any further Darkover material, there will be serious legal consequences, both for her and any fanzine or APA editors who may publish her material. We will keep readers abreast of further developments. -- Signed, Ann Sharp.
  • there is a release form for fiction, though no commentary or instruction
  • despite the fact that MZB "officially" mentions the depository library for her work in this issue for the first time, the reality of the Mugar Library in Boston has been talked about in fannish circles already. A fan writes: "A while back, somebody mentioned a library MZB wanted her papers donated to... I have a fair collection of MZB memorabilia, mostly manuscripts and correspondence, and quite frankly, I don't think my heirs have enough sense to value it." MZB gives her the address and adds: "As for the short-story releases, I await the answer from my lawyer, and will pass it along. At least you have developed independent selling ability -- I read your story in Andre Norton's anthology."
  • the release from printed in the newsletter is not the first time fans have been aware of it, nor assumably, MZB's new stance on fan fiction. In the very same issue the release form is printed for supposedly the first time, nor the news about fan fiction being ceased. A fan writes: "Enclosed please find my release form for my short story... Thanks so much for sending it along to me, and for the accompanying note of explanation. I've long wondered if your generosity in letting other writers 'play' on Darkover had ever resulted in lawsuits or bad feelings."
  • a fan writes: "The release form signed and enclosed herewith. The life of simplicity is gone, I gather, alas. I'm sorry to see it so, but for everyone's protection this will have to be."
  • a fan asks: "What now happens to Moon Phases which is devoted exclusively to Darkover material, and to which I for one have submitted a rejected Darkover story from last year?" MZB responds: "I'll await our lawyer's answer with equally baited breath. I'm naive -- I just wanted to share my fun. The "Letter from MZB" [Holes in My Yard] tells the story as I see it."
  • MZB writes a response to a fan's letter of whether or not MZB is a feminist: "I may have been a feminist -- but where were all those feminists when I could have used some support? The girls in my school told me (as they'd no doubt been told themselves) that I shouldn't get good marks (it 'showed up' the boys and hurt their egos) and I should read less and dance more."
  • MZB responds to a fan: "I feel that my personal oath -- in an occult order -- to treat all women as mother, sister, daughter -- is good, but one can be taken in.... I had an oath-daughter I had to throw out. I still regret it; I was really fond of her. But then, the men I married prove I'm a patsy. If I sound bitter, It's only because I am."
  • there is a satirical letter by a fake Mary Sue, with the editor's response
  • this issue contains a logic puzzle

Issue 59 (December 1992)

front page of issue #59

Darkover Newsletter 59 was published in December 1992 and contains 16 pages.

  • the editor writes of holidays and Darkover
  • MZB's letter talks of fans and non-fans, senses of humor, and gullibility
  • a fan writes that she is "saddened to learn that someone would abuse your good will and also disappointed that Contraband will not be published. I was looking forward to reading it. If it's any consolation... you are more than welcome to take any of my ideas I've used in my series of Darkover stories and incorporate them into a sequel to 'Stormqueen' should you ever write one. Far from threatening lawsuits, I would be thrilled." MZB replies that "I like the possibility end to the Darkover anthologies less than anyone, but this year has been a nightmare." MZB adds some details about the "so-called fan's" response to her secretary's [Lisa/Elizabeth Waters] phone call to this fan "when she called at my request," and of Lisa's predicament and feelings. MZB writes that "My lawyer is still doing research on the matter of fanzine stories and copyright ownership. I feel like Frankenstein's monster facing the enraged villagers. So the future of all Darkover short fiction is pretty much up in the air at this point. I wish it weren't so, but that's the situation."
  • a fan asks if the play "'Free Amazons of the Gor' was ever produced? If so, was there ever a script produced?" The editor responds that this was a fan skit last produced at Fantasy Worlds Convention [is this Fantasy Worlds Festival?] 1985, and that the editor was one of the Amazons. "I remember it chiefly for the costumes, because all the Amazons, including me, actually wore bronze brassieres... It took two people to bale me into it and the leather thongs that kept in place were rather uncomfortable -- but it certainly looked 'authentic.'" She adds that the script is probably at the Mugar Memorial Library.
  • yes, there is a logic puzzle

Issue 60 (March 1993)

front page of issue #60

Darkover Newsletter 60 published in March 1993 and contains 20 pages.

  • writing tips from the editor
  • despite her earlier stated dislike of filks in issues #31 and #32, MZB writes in her letter that her foster son, Kristoph Klover and his wife are helping her recording a tape of Darkover filk fans. "And because I have often said that filk singing should be done in private by consenting adults, I've called this tape Consenting Adults of Darkover." MZB adds much more, describing a night at a studio where she sang, her voice sandwiched between Tracy Blackstone and Ann Sharp's voices
  • a fan writes: "Once again, it seems, some greedy stupid person has managed to mess up something that was operating on trust and honesty... I can well understand that you and Lisa might be sick of the whole mess, but the thought of there being no more Friends of Darkover anthologies is truly depressing."
  • a fan writes: "I'm sorry you're having trouble getting your latest Darkover novel out... I an only imagine how frustrated and downright angry you must be over the loss of time and effort you put into that manuscript," a comment that shows that fans, (and MZB), of course, are talking amongst themselves about Contraband, as the delay of this specific novel hasn't been discussed out in open in the letterzine
  • another fan writes "... to know that one of your novels will not be published because of this... is heartbreaking." MZB responds: "My main consolation through this whole unfortunate mess has been the number of people who have understood and sympathized with me... I'm afraid that Contraband, the novel involved in this unfortunate affair, is dead -- at least, for my lifetime. The fan tried to get Mercedes Lackey to read it, but she refused, so it's possible that Misty could write it after my death. I'm leaving her the notes I made on it before I read the fan's story."
  • MZB says that DAW has enough material to get through 1995, and "it has been suggested that after that I might do one by invitation only. But I'm afraid that I shall never again be able to open Darkover to new writers."
  • the editor of Moon Phases writes: "Thank you and Lisa for your prompt replies about the continuance of my Darkover fiction fanzine. I also want to thank your for the trust you have continued to put in me as 'Moon Phase's' editor, throughout the years and during the present difficult times. I also want to take the opportunity to announce to all Darkover fans that 'Moon Phases' will continue publishing as before... I am overwhelmed at what has happened. I want to offer you support. I am saddened that Contraband will not be able to be published... Like [fan's name redacted], I would be thrilled if you chose to utilize any characters or ideas I have used in any Darkover stories I have written."
  • there is a sheet of guidelines for MZB's Fantasy Magazine
  • this issue contains a logic puzzle