Friends of Darkover

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letter announcing cancelation of publications, dated June 16, 1983, click to enlarge

Friends of Darkover was a fan group dedicated to all Darkover fandom and Marion Zimmer Bradley. It appears to have a lot of overlap, and is sometimes used interchangeably with Thendara Council.

About

A late 1990s description:
The success of the Darkover early novels (especially the first version of Sharra's Exile, i.e., The Sword of Aldones) was so important that fans begun to organize special meeting in SF conventions, and to ask Marion clarifications about her world (the youth of Lew Alton for instance). All this fannish activity ends up with the creation of The Friends of Darkover." [1]

Another description, date unknown:

So popular have been the novels of the planet Darkover that an organization of readers and fans has come into being, virtually spontaneously. Several meetings have been held at major science fiction conventions, and more recently specially organized around the various "councils" of the Friends of Darkover, as the organization is now known. The Friends of Darkover is purely an amateur and voluntary group. It has no paid officers and has not established any formal membership dues. Although the members of the Thendara Council of the Friends no longer publish a newsletter or any other publications themselves, they serve as a central point for information on Darkover-oriented newsletters, fanzines, and councils and maintain a chronological list of Marion Zimmer Bradley's books. [2]

Another description, sometime before June 1978:

WELCOME TO THE FRIENDS OF DARKOVER
page one of the welcome letter for "Friends of Darkover" members, date is sometime before June 1978
page two of the welcome letter for "Friends of Darkover" members, date is sometime before June 1978

If you have subscribed to our Newsletter, you'll be getting your first issue in a few days or so.

Meanwhile, here's a little basic information to be going on with. We are a nonpolitical, nonreligious, nonsexist, nonaggressive and EMPHATICALLY nonprofit organization or association of individuals whose only purpose is to share a common interest in the Darkover universe as created by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and related fantasy worlds and imaginary or "secondary universes" -- our members usually share interest in various and sundry other similar worlds; among us we number fans of Anne McCaffrey's DRAGON books, Roger Zelazny's AMBER, the SIME novels of Jacqueline Lichtenberg, some STAR TREK fans, a large number of Tolkien fans and members of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism, a Medieval-historical research/costume/tournament-revel giving group) and even a few STAR WARS fans. We have no dues and no membership requirements apart from the wish to participate in discussions of various fantasy worlds with similarly minded souls. The well-known by-laws _of the Shprlnrk Hnlmps fan group, the Baker-Street Irregulars, fit us equally well; All other business shall be deferred to the Monthly Meeting. There shall be no monthly meeting.

Well, not quite. Though we have no dues, we out out a Newsletter every month or three, averaging sixteen pages, containing articles and letters and feedback from the readers, and MZB herself participates, answers reader questions and edits an occasional issue now and then, when she's not too busy. The subscription price is fifty cents an issue. Yes, I know that if you saw an advertisement in DAW books, it said we gave you 4/$l. Did you ever hear of something called inflation? Those notices were placed by MZB's Friendly Editor way back when the Newsletter had 6 pages and was sent by MZB to a few of her close friends. [3] The 50¢ per issue just about covers the cost of printing and postage, with a very little left over for the cost of carbon ribbons, liftoff tapes and stuff. Most of the labor is volunteer and donor, done by the Friends for the fun of it, which means when we're being hassled we don't do it. Right now we have about 500 subscribers. On the address label of your copy you will find a NUMBER, which is the LAST issue you will receive on your current subscription; if we do not hear from you before that issue has been sent out and the next one ready for mailing, you may not hear from us again. Our budget is getting a little too tight to send out letters to remind you. Obviously, if we are mistaken about the number of issues you have coming, please write and tell us we are wrong.

Although we have no formal meetings, Reunions of the Friends have been held (and will be held in future) at various Science Fiction conventions, with MZB presiding if she happens to attend; and many local groups have organized themselves into Councils; some of these are local clubs with meetings, others are penpal-round robin groups, many overlap other interests. The list of Councils has gotten too big to be circulated like this; send a LARGE self-addressed stamped envelope to JACQUELINE LICHTENBERG [address redacted], and she will advise you of Councils in your area. Local Councils have from 3 to 25 members.

Let us repeat --if you write and ask us ANYTHING, please enclose a STAMPED SELF-ADDRESSED ENVELOPE. PLEASE.

We also have a WELCOME COMMITTEE which will answer any questions you
want answered about our organization; write to GAI OY0UMICH, Box 9-9047,
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA, 99508. (But if the question is about your subscription,
write to me, Ted Bryan, Box 72, Berkeley CA 94701.)

If you live in the Greater Bay Area of San Francisco-Berkeley, local activities are being planned for Friends in the area. Send me (Ted) a stamped self-addressed envelope and you will receive an invitation to open meetings and parties held by the Thendara Council here. If you want to help collate and staple the Newsletter (and get your own free) call Marion Zimmer Bradley at [phone number redacted], or send me a note.

Women interested in the Free Amazons are invited to join the FREE AMAZON COUNCIL, which is open to women anywhere in the North American continent — send a self-addressed stamped envelope to DEVRA LANGSAM [address redacted] which has a small Newsletter of its own and does all its business by letter.

Nearly every letter we get asks "Do you have a complete list of the Darkover novels and the order in which they should be read?" Well, MZB insists they are NOT a series and can be read in ANY order; she prefers that they should be read in the order in which she wrote them, if you MUST have a special order, and this is the order of their copyright dates;

  • PLANET SAVERS — Ace 1962 (R) 1976
  • DARKOVER LANDFALL (DL) DAW 1972/75
  • SWORD OF ALDONES (SA) Ace 1962/1976
  • THE SPELL SW0RD ( SS) DAW 1974/76
  • BLOODY SUN (BS) Ace 1964/1975
  • HERITAGE OF HASTUR (HH) DAW 1975/77
  • STAR OF DANGER (SD) Ace 1966/1975
  • FORBIDDEN TOWER (FT) DAW 1977
  • WINDS OF DARKOVER (WD) Ace 1970/1977
  • SHATTERED CHAIN (SC) DAW 1976/77
  • WORLD WRECKERS (WW) Ace 1971/1977
  • STORM QUEEN (SO) Forthcoming; DAW June 1978.

However, many people, for obscure reasons, wish to read them in the order of Darkovan chronology, and they go like this--very roughly, and if you ask MZB to settle inconsistencies of chronology she will shrug her shoulders and tell you to figure it out for yourself — DL, SQ, SC SS FT, SC (parts 2 and 3) WD, BS, HH, SA (sequel to HH) PS, WW. Others are definitely planned; TWO TO CONQUER, though emphatically not a sequel to STORM QUEEN, is another novel of the Ages of Chaos; SHARRA'S EXILE is a direct sequel to SWORD OF ALDONES and will probably replace and supersede that book, which MZB now regards as juvenilia; RETURN TO DARKOVER, which will deal with the later life of Marja Alton; THE WAY OF ARILINN (title still VERY tentative) which tells Cleindori's story; and perhaps the sequel to SHATTERED. CHAIN, if it can ever be brought into publishable form.

OTHER MATTERS: Please make all checks payable to FRIENDS OF DARKOVER, not to Ted Bryan, Thendara Council, or any other entity whatever. Do NOT send cash except at your own risk. Canadian customers should Day us ONLY in MONEY ORDER, in U.S. FUNDS ONLY. If you write to ask us anything PLEASE (we hate to keep repeating this) ENCLOSE A STAMPED SELF-ADDRESSED ENVELOPE: Canadians need NOT send stamps but please send a self-addressed envelope with your postal code on it, and PLEASE do NOT send us Canadian coins! For questions about Councils write Jacqueline; for questions about almost anything else write Gai; for questions about your subscription write me; TED BRYAN + BOX 72 + BERKELEY + CA 94701 And welcome aboard from me, too — Marion Zimmer Bradley (photocopied signature)

Fanac

Con

"Friends of Darkover" also sponsored at least one con, Fantasy Worlds Festival.

Publishing

There is much overlap in who was responsible for the publications for Marion Zimmer Bradley's zines and newsletters. It appears, however, that Thendara House was the main publisher, and Thendara Council of Friends of Darkover was the editing arm. Or something like that!

This means that MZB publications appeared on flyers with both titles.

"Friends of Darkover" also sold Bradley's pro books. From a 1977 announcement: "OUR NEW BOOK SERVICE: is offered, not, so much as a fund-raising operation for the Friends publications (though MZB donates the books at/cost), but rather as a service for you people who've written in saying you can't find this or that title in your local bookstore." [4] It is unclear how this worked legally regarding by-passing DAW Books.

Flyers

References

  1. The Friends of Darkover, at Darkover Site
  2. Darkover Site, accessed 5.26.2011]
  3. Question: if the Darkover Newsletter was that private, then why was it advertised in an internationally professionally published book?
  4. from Darkover Newsletter #7