Alderaan/Issues 06-10

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Issue 6

cover of issue #6, Gee Moaven

Alderaan 6 was published in October 1979 and contains 8 pages.

  • there are five LoCs, not one of them mentions the negative review of Mos Eisley Tribune from the last issue
  • there are a number of photos (three full pages!) of fans taken at the most recent August Party
  • the editor makes a guess that there are between 10-20 fan-created Star Wars fanzines out there at this time
  • a fan writes in a long, detailed letter that talks about placement of copyright symbols, crediting art, the article Who Comes With Summer, the reason fans compare SW and Close Encounters of the Third Kind is because they were released so close to each other, whether the two or three column format is better...
  • one fan writes a short letter saying she likes the two or three column format rather than the single line one and that "I've been especially impressed with the depth and thoroughness of the reviews."
  • the editor writes an apology, of sorts, to a fan regarding a harsh review he did of her story in Mos Eisley Tribune #2
    I wish to apologize to [name redacted] for the review I did of her story as it appeared in Mos Eisley Tribune. Specifically I extend apologies because the review was too personally directed toward her in one paragraph and not towards the story. However, I still uphold my opinion of the story and my opinion of the zine overall. I regret the way in which I my comments toward [name redacted] personally, but my other statements I believe are still valid and I stand by them.
  • the letters he received for this issue of the letterzine make decide he will review no more zines, ever, until he gets some feedback from readers regarding this issue—he writes:
    This raises part of a complicated issue concerning reviews and reviewing. Not long after publishing Alderaan #5, I received a letter from [J S] criticizing me for my review. [J S] has said that she will raise this question for discussion in MET #4 and promised to get back to me with any feedback she receives. Meanwhile, I want to raise the same issue here to get the response from Alderaan's readers. I requested [J S] to either write a specific statement for Alderaan, or allow me to take excerpts from her letter of August 21. I received a letter from [J S] dated October 6—just before this issue was to be pasted up and printed. She requested that I not take any excerpts from her letters and that if I wished, she would write a statement, but that she could not promise it would be right away. I do not feel this matter can wait however. I will not print a single review in Alderaan until I qet some sort of feedback on this problem from the readers. Back in 1976, I was involved in a different situation with a review that I had written. I was burned badly in that instance and blackballed in fandom, mostly because none of the criticism was out in the open but conducted almost exclusively in private. I intend to make sure that this issue is completely open and above board. I will summarize [J S's] comments as accurately as possible, and answer them briefly. She will receive a copy of this issue and - I do request... that she make a formal reply to appear in Alderaan. To begin with, [J S] accuses me of destructive criticism and claims that my criticism is harmful and discouraging to editors, authors and to the sales of zines. In response, I claim that whether a review is seen as "destructive" or "constructive" is entirely subjective. Reviews themselves are subjective to begin with. I do not pretend to be objective at all. I am giving my opinion when reviewing, but I take the readers into consideration. In fact, I do the reviews for the readers above all else. My reviews are not primarily for the sake of the editors and contributors who make up the zine. The purpose of a review is to provide a potential audience with information that will help them to decide to buy or not to buy. Very simply, I try to guage the worth of the zine being reviewed to the potential buyer who wants to make the best choice with limited cash. A review should never be written for the sake of an editor or a particular artist or author. [J S] also criticizes that I may judge fanzines by pro standards, and further asserts that I have no right to tear something apart based solely on my opinion. Concerning standards, I refuse to allow the issue of reviewing be clouded by semantics. "Standards," are constants. I know perfectly well what to expect of a zine like Mos Eisley Tribune and a professional publication such as Smithsonian. I am not so stupid that I cannot compare the two magazines by the same standards... I consider myself a common sense reviewer. I try to be realistic. Most zines I review receive a so-so review from me because most zines are average. Most of everything is average. I attempt to keep the limitations and problems of fandom in mind, I give new fanzines the benefit of the doubt and I always try to explain all of my points, using quotes or excerpts if necessary to back my-self up. Since [J S] asserts that I have no right to tear anything apart based solely on my opinion, then the reverse also holds that I cannot compliment anything solely on my opinion, which is what I did—by the way—in the review of Galactic Flight in Alderaan #5, and no one has taken me to task about that.
  • a fan talks of her fannish experiences:
    I'm finding it very interesting to be in on the beginnings of SW fandom, watching it grow. I came in on ST fandom in 1976, and had a lot of catching up to do in a hurry. It's good to be in on the start now. But it's my opinion that this is more or less a "double" fandom—ST and SW. Most SW fans I'm acquainted with have not given up their interest in ST, and many zines combine the two (most notably "Warped Space.") I don't know of many SF zines that also print ST, there's too much adversity between active SF fans and active Trekkers. Also there is some hollering on the part of exclusive-type STers, in general. I think Trekfans are much more accepting of SW interest than SF fen were of Trek. At August Party for instance, there were Trek, SWars and other-genre zines being sold in the hucksters' room, and I didn't note any squabbling between different factions. Also, people wore costumes from Trek, SW, Galactica, and other areas of SF/Fantasy interest. So I do think that opposition by Trekkers to SW has died down, and there is tolerance of diversity. Or are my rose-colored glasses on my nose too tightly?
  • a zine ed writes a thank you, and a correction:
    Thanks so much for the kind review of "Falcon's Flight." Your comments were, for the most part, quite valid—it's always nice to know that someone appreciates not only the end result but also the effort it took to get there. As a new editor, I am quite literally [making] my way from the ground up and confess that I do know that FF's technical improvements stand in advance of its literay advance. Editing is a tricky thing to tackle and I have yet to gain the confidence required to edit. Not to worry though—I have every intention of being the best editor I can be. One small picky note—my story in "Mos Eisley Tribune" #2 was entitled "Metamorpheus" not "Metamorphosis"—there is an intentional difference, i.e. my attempt to be profoundly (?) mysterious. Readers who troubled to look up "meta" and "morpheus" should have no problem figuring out how it relates to the story. Actually the title is also a pun on the word metamorphosis and I'll leave the readers to figure that one out too. I hadn't read "The Logical Conclusion—rats! I thought my idea was original. Anyone out there know where and how I could get a copy of it?

Issue 7

cover of issue #7, Jeff Johnston, also the cover of Skywalker #3 -- a fan comments in "Alderaan" #10: "... generally I think I preferred the cover by Jeff as it was printed for Skywalker #3, with darker shadows—somehow the darkness fit. The cover of Alderaan has the advantage of showing the background tapestry, which Itself shows considerable work and attention to detail (but why the halo on the figure to the right right of Leia's head???) [the editor interjects: "I cannot tell you where it is from. I found a book of tapestry in the reference library at the Toledo Museum of Art - That's as much as I can remember about it") A bit more work on the hands and better proportion of the lower body would help, but overall it's a good picture. You might consider putting in heavier shading on such portraits in the future, Jeff—it really adds to the atmosphere of this type, and might help with definition in other types."

Alderaan 7 is the second anniversary issue, published in February 1980 and contains 8 pages. It focuses on the character of Mary Sue.

  • this issue has a long article by Tracy Duncan about current SW news, including what was known about TESB
  • the hype about The Empire Strikes Back is hopping and the letterzine notes that one can write Lucasfilm about the official slideshow about the new movie, as well as dial a toll-free telephone number to listen to a recorded message
  • about the hot topic of reviews, the editor says that the response he's gotten is:
    ...overwhelmingly in favor of renewing the use of reviews in Alderaan. To date I have yet to receive a statement from [J S] on the matter. Issues #7 and #8 of Alderaan will be taken up with mostly letters about the subject of reviewing, and my statement will appear in issue #8. I counted approximately 13,000 words not all of which will see print. After issue #8, the editors will attempt to cut most of the letters about reviewing so that it won't monopolize the zine.
  • a fan comments:
    Who Comes With Summer" was fascinating, perhaps because I was right in the middle of the forming of SW fandom. I was right in the middle of the underground too, writing as I did a couple of X-rated stories. I love those midnight phone calls to Pittsburgh and Chicago and the sharing of all that information that not everyone is supposed to know, but does anyway. Watching a fandom evolve from nothing more than a two hour movie has been one of the better experiences of my life and being involved in it is a hell of a lot of fun. A collation of a zine, or just a private con has just about every form of recreation beat. And the ones we haven't got beaten, we discuss.
  • and Mary Sue:
    When SW fandom began, we borrowed a lot of things from other fandoms since most of our members are converts of straight SF or ST fandom. A lot of things we brought we good and useful; one of those things we brought was not. In fact, it is downright detrimental, yet we cling to it as closely as if it were the idea of IDIC. I'm talking about good old Mary Sue. She should have been left happily opening hailing frequencies aboard the Enterprise and laying Kirk and Spock alternately. Unfortunately she wasn't [left behind]. SWarriors trundled her along like so much excess baggage and then set her up on a throne of her own —one that is much bigger and finer than anything she had back in the Trek universe... There was also something called an "alter-ego" story. It was frequently in the same class as old Mary Sue, but not always. Somehow when we brought MS over, we left poor "alter-ego" stranded in the port still sitting on his luggage. As a result in SW fandom, we don't have "alter-ego" stories, all we have are Mary Sue's. It has become impossible to write a strong female character in the SW universe... The very same women who are demanding Equal Rights from their employers, husbands and the world at large, are generally the first ones to scream "Mary Sue!" They will fight to tell the world that a woman can be a doctor, lawyer, truck driver or lineman, yet they are among the first to say that she can't be a star pilot, a Jedi, a cantina owner, or a mercenary in the SW universe. The one place where women can really break out of their molds and be someone is fandom. We can be anything we damn well want to be! Yes, some of the stories are Mary Sue's,if you insist on using that outmoded term, but most of them aren't. I've seen some of the finest writing in SW fandom called Mary Sue and I just read a LoC where a girl dubbed a whole zine MS and wasn't sure she wanted to wade through it. The zine in question is one of the best zines on the market and did not have a single Mary Sue story in it. Not one. What it did have was a couple of "alter-ego" stories that were so well written that it had most of the factions of fandom that I know, begging for more.... We have nearly degenerated to the point where female equals Mary Sue without exception. It's all right to write about the male characters as being wonderful and perfect. I've even seen stories where Han was so good and sweet that it nearly gave you diabetes, yet no one raised the cry of "MS!" The only comment was that it was "out of character." For some reason, women feel the need to knock one another. Perhaps this is why we've had to wait longer than a race [which] was actual property to be liberated. We're all still slaves. We "belong" to intolerant husbands and fathers; to employers who don't pay enough; to a society [which] still tries to force us into molds, and shames us when we refuse to be put into the model wife-mother-homemaker-whatever. We try to break away in our dreams in our writing, in our art. Yet, even there, someone is waiting to point a finger and raise the cry. Often it is someone who is struggling for the same thing and yet that finger is out. Cast the first stone, crush the chrysalis, destroy the being within. If I can't be free then neither can she! Why are we doing this to ourselves? Most fen are female; why are we cutting our own throats? Why are we pigeonholing the literature that is written by and about us? Why aren't we daring to dream? Why are we so willing to cast the first stone, or to add others to the pile that will crush all creativity? Why are we trying to throttle the very thing that we are fighting for in this universe? Writers—I want to read stories with strong female characters. I want to see them take on Han and Luke and Darth on their own territory and, if not win, then at least give them a run for their money. Dare to be. If not in this universe, then in the next. But don't give up, you do have an audience, one that will grow as it matures. I, for one, will be looking forward to seeing your work. Remember, we are women, we are wonderful—and the Force is with us!
  • more about the portrayal of women:
    One thing that bothers me is the bad press Princess Leia is getting. Come on, people, you know damn well if she'd been a prince instead of a princess, her faults would be seen as virtues or at least as acceptable and understandable characteristics—Prince Leia would be self-confident, commanding, straight-talking, a leader, able to take over (and would be expected to do so!)... I do tend to agree that Han and Leia would probably kill each other within a week, but do Leia's detractors really think she'd be more attractive as a character, or as a person, if she were sweet, softspoken, and submissive to any arrogant male who comes along? Don't get me wrong, I like Han but he could use a bit of taking down himself. As to Leia and Luke, maybe she'd be good for him, give him encouragement to stand up for himself. Why all this crap about her having to dominate him, or anybody? In a personal relationship, dominance-submissiveness is not necessarily the only solution. By the way, do those who object to Leia dominating either of the males think it would be just fine and dandy if whomever she chose was able to dominate her? Yes, I'm accusing you of blatant sexism, all of you who think Leia is a bitch but Han perfectly acceptable in his attitude and behavior. I like Han now, but it took a long time to reach that point—unadulterated macho does not appeal to me. And it was reading a lot of Star Wars fanfic that helped me change my mind [such as] the stories that try to develop the characters and show possible other facets of their personalities. Seeing the movie with other people's interpretations in my mind (besides Lucas' one-sided portrayal, that is) I could see hope for Han as a human being—but I still think on screen he comes across as an arrogant pain in the posterior.
  • a fan comments on The Empire Strikes Back trailer, something she has only heard about:
    My Ghod, where do they go from there? The violence seems to be escalating, especially on the personal level—looks like a "get-em" for sure. The people who thought the first movie had too much violence will be having a field day, probably. I just hope they haven't let the violence overshadow the humor, which was a basic element in SW. " She also goes on to note there are four "cuss words" in the first movie, a "hell to pay," two "damn fools," and one "what the hell are you doing?
  • a fan has the first comment about the controversial review in issue #5:
    I read your review of Mos Eisley Tribune #2 in Alderaan #5 and the summary of [name redacted] objections in #6. 1 have also read MET #2 and #3 (ordered #1-4 last summer, before reading your review) and quite frankly I agree with everything you said. The only really good story in those two issues was " Blair's "Metamorpheus"... and the stories you tore apart, deserved to be. I forced myself to finish them, but I kept itching for an editorial pencil all the way through. Why did [name redacted] react so violently and did she include your statement that an editor should edit among her objections?... If she's so thinned-skinned that she can't take constructive criticism (and yours was largely constructive, not destructive) she shouldn't be editing or writing for a publication. Yes, there are standards editors and writers should be held to, and no, those standards are not totally subjective. Of course, no one expects a fanzine to be up to the level of a Harper's (or Smithsonian), but surely the readers have a right to expect a reasonable level of competence. A decent command of the language is the most basic requirement, and an editor who doesn't notice or at best, ignores atrocities such as those you cited deserves to be reprimanded. As to plot problems, I'm sometimes incredibly uncritical, but even I could see the holes in the stories you commented on.
  • a review of Skywalker #3, see that page
  • a review of Pegasus #2, see that page

Issue 8

cover of issue #8, photograph

Alderaan 8 was published in June 1980 and contains 8 pages. The big topic in LoCs was reviews and their function.

  • the editor, Allyson, writes: "Inside this issue you'll find an interview with Craig Miller, who is the fan liaison with Lucasfilm, Ltd. His comments throw an interesting light on the new SW movie."
  • for excerpts from the interview with Craig Miller, see Alderaan Interview with Craig Miller
  • Allyson also writes that Jeff (both he and Allyson are college students) could use some advice: "Jeff would appreciate your suggestions on where he can retreat to after getting his degree so that he can have the nervous breakdown that he deserves."
  • about the zine review controversy:
    For those of you who remember the debate between Jeff and Janice Sidwell on the subject of reviewing, there will more on that subject in issue #9. We have a reply from Janice to include, but there was no room for it in this issue since the interview took up all free space.
  • and onto the beginning of The Duncan Scandal:
    Tracy Duncan has announced that she will no longer be writing the news column for Alderaan. In a letter from the editors of Against the Sith she explains her reasons for disagreeing with the ideas in TESB and why she has also cancelled publication of ATS which Tracy and her sister Nancy publish. If possible, we'd like to see some reaction to this in Alderaan #9.
  • a fan takes Johnston to task for his harsh review of an issue of Mos Eisley Tribune:
    I went back and read some of your past reviews after reading your editorial in Alderaan #6. I am sorry to have to say that I must agree in the main, with [J S'] comments as you presented them in your #6 editorial. I found that the attitude referred to by [J S] does not only exist in your review of her zine but, in varying degrees, in the others I have read as well. I flinched when I read your "attack" on [L G's] story—and I disagree with your statement that you commented in a personal manner to her in only one paragraph, I found that you were making objectionable (at least what I term objectionable) comments throughout your treatment of her story. I read the story in question when I first received that particular copy of MET, and I will admit that it was not one of my favorite pieces in the zine. But I hardly think that it was so poor that it rated the rather scathing treatment you gave it. To object to the author's choice of a title before commenting on anything else is poor form, in my opinion. Granted, you may not feel that the title in question makes sense, but is that really pertinent to the review? It came off as the first of many rather insulting comments, and were I the author of that particular story, I would have been deeply wounded right then and there. Your taking it upon yourself, in the following sentences, to divulge the entire plot of the story (in order to "spare the reader the anguish") was thoughtless to say the least. With all respects to you, Jeff, (and I do respect you and your zine) how can you presume to play censor and make such large assumptions of SWfen taste? I object to the implication that I am not able, capable, or whatever of deciding for myself the relative merits of this particular story. The sort of thing you were indulging in in this review would better have been said in a direct LoC to the zine in question. In this situation, however, a little more tact was definitely called for. I assumed when I read the story that [L G] was probably a beginning writer, and I was willing therefore, to overlook a lot of her so-called mistakes. Not that I feel she should be protected against criticism—not at all. But I realize from personal experience that writing is an extremely personal thing, and the fruits of long hours of labor are often accompanied by huge amounts of insecurity when they are submitted. I would expect that Ms. Gregory, like most of us, is more than willing to learn, but the only way she can is if she is printed so that others can read and appreciate her work. As people take printed reviews as gospel and don't bother to judge things for themselves—and that is their priviledge. But I think, because of this, that reviewers and critics have a duty to represent their reviews in such a light that the individual feels compelled to read the material in question and judge it by their standards—which may be different from those of the reviewer. A reviewer should be as objective as possible, as fair as possible. I don't think there is a conflict between objectivity and personal opinion in a review—as long as balance is maintained I am sorry to say, that some of your most recent reviews have lacked that balance.
  • a fan comments on whether Johnston should cease reviewing zines:
    I am not going to try to answer any of your points you brought up in your Alderaan #6 editorial, in defense of your stand. You seem to have waxed quite emotional over the question of "standards"—and this is a debate I don't want to enter into at this point. I found your mention of a previous review that got you Into hot water to be most illuminating. It explained why you were so defensive in this editorial—and again, I am sorry to say it, but I feel that you were being very defensive. Having a few of my own bad experiences in fandom. I can empathize with what you feel about the past and present situations. But the operative word in both of these situations—however different they might be from each other-is "review"—you seem to have gotten criticism on them before—so perhaps [J S'] response should have not been totally unexpected. I also don't feel that retiring from reviewinq is the answer to this problem either— that is a cop out—not an answer. Although I have found that you tend to be a bit more personal than is required in a number of reviews that doesn't mean that I don't feel you are capable of writing them altogether. It only means that, like the rest of us, you dre human, and in the process of learning a few things. You can't learn by not doing—all that will earn is a tag proclaiming you are a martyr, and I for one, won't let you off that easy.
  • another fan writes her opinion on the controversy:
    Balance is important In everything, and most especially writing things of an expository nature. One more thing, you said that most zines get so-so reviews from you because most zines are average and continue with, "Most of everything is average." Damn right about that. But when people love something enough to take the time to write, or draw, or paint a piece in the honor of that something, whether or not what they produce is average is not entirely relevant. Not all of us are Rembrandt—and were we all, then he too would be considered average. All of us are average by some standard or another—we need not be reminded of it incessantly. It is much more rewarding for for everyone to be reminded that something about them is special. Couldn't a touch of this extend to zine reviews? Criticize constructively all you like, but please, don't remind us of our banality. Humor us and let us feel at least a little good about ourselves. Who knows, someone, somewhere might consider Alderaan to be average. I like your zine, or else I would not keep subscribing. I just ask that you temper your work with objectivity and balance.
  • another fan comments on the review column:
    Don't drop the review column. Unless there is reason to believe that the reviewer has a personal grudge, or simply enjoys writing reviews for the sake of sadism, the review should be an honest statement of its author's opinion. I think [that] Alderaan's readership can be relied on to remember that tastes differ; any newspaper movie reviews will prove that! I don't see that criticism needs to be destructive, unless it [gets] to the level of name-calling and axe-grinding. It's a fact of life that if you publish your brainchild, you must accept unfavorable comments along with the applause.
  • a letter from two fans says:
    We were very distressed to learn that the editor of another Star Wars fanzine, [J S] of Mos Eisley Tribune, feels reviews are not appropriate for Alderaan, Jeff Johnston's in particular. On our part as fanzine editors, we greatly value the necessity and important service a fanzine review provides. If, under the pressure of one editor, Alderaan is no longer allowed to review fanzines. Star War's fandom, young as it is, will be deprived of its sole source of outlet for opinions that compares one fanzine with another. As editors of Against the Sith, we are very appreciative of the time and energy Jeff Johnston devotes to his reviews, especially those of our own fanzine. We welcome him to review our every issue.... Reviews are a gauge by which we can judge ourselves against the other publications offered in the field, without our natural bias. If the criticism is negative on one or more points, we can see where we may need improving, and so know where to concentrate our efforts in future issues. We pale at the thought of a review being termed "constructive criticism" if It only panders to the zine editor's ego, and contains nothing but glowing compliments, regardless or not of whether they are deserved. An important realization for [J S]l to make is that "constructive criticism" includes both positive and negative comments. ... But the greatest service of a review is for the readers. By describing the zine contents, quality, and style, a reviewer lets all fans know what to expect from a zine. There is no other way a reader can learn whether or not he's buying something he really wants. Let flyers do the advertising for a zine—reviews should be strictly non-partial and provide something flyers never can—a comparison of one zine with another. [J S] obviously likes reviews—so long as they are positive. In truth, she doesn't want a review, she wants propaganda for her zine, a PR notice filled with only positive remarks. Perhaps the most horrifying aspect is that [J S] is asking fandom to censor itself. If she had her way, any negative comments would be banned, and the author of such comments cut off from fandom. There would be no outlet for personal opinion. We would all be forced to live under the deception of "loving everything," be it good or bad, whether or not you personally like or dislike it, simply because it is a fannish effort, and everyone is supposed to treat fan publishers with kid gloves. This is a denial of free opinion, plain as that. Such a fandom would be a dead fandom. Is this what we want Star Wars fandom to be? Fandom should reflect the pro world. As faneds, our goal is to strive for as much professionalism as possible within our talents and our means. We refuse to be indulged simply because we are amateurs. The fun in contributing to fandom is in seeing the quality of fannish publications improve, and become more enjoyable to the readers.
  • a fan writes:
    ...it's the method you used to make your points that probably stuck in the craw of the various who protested to you. There is a way of giving constructive and gentle criticism, even while being quite hard on the writers or editors if necessary.. .but all those "cute" comments aren't the way, for sure. Sure, I laughed at first—but then I quaked at the tought of possibly being on the receiving end of similar comments, once my work is printed in future issues of the zines [you've] reviewed. I, and any author really serious about improving his/her skill, should welcome comments and reviews intended to point out deficiencies. But none of us deserves to be verbally stung, and I think that's what happened in the reviews of Alderaan 5.
  • more on reviews:
    A reviewer in this sense, is the guardian of a public trust. The reader trusts him to know whereof he speaks. How he speaks is the clue to that. Reviews that say "this stinks" with no further explanation, or "this is wonderful" with no further explanation, are suspect. They do not fulfill their purpose. The reviewer is obliged to let the reader know where he is coming from. If a zine editor or writer wants to be spared the embarrassment or pain of being ripped to shreds in a review, then he ought to think long and hard about what he publishes before putting it out for public consumption. Once a zine or a story is, then its up for grabs. The editor and writer must be prepared to take the responsibility. The major part of the responsibility falls on the editor, since the author trusts him to help make his story the best possible. That's the editor's function.
  • and more:
    Most of the people I know are more thank willing to tell a sincerely Interested person more than he'll ever want to know about writing, or layout, or repro. We're fans. The word is short for fanatic. Convince a fanatic you share his passion, and he'll selflessly share his knowledge with you. If an editor's sale fall off because his zine was mercilessly panned then he is paying the cost for being a fuckup. You have to expect to pay for your mistakes. A zine is a means of communication. You can't say, by publishing a zine, "I am interested in talking to all of you," and then get mad when we talk back. Reviews are, of course, opinions. Everyone is entitled to his own. If you agree with a review, fine; if you don't, fine, too. But there are people who are going to disagree. Jeff has the right to say whatever he wants. If he says a particularly nebbishy thing, trust people to recognize him for a nebblsh. The people who don't, don't count.
  • a fan comments:
    Forgive me, but my first reaction to the editorial was that of someone getting pissed and holding his breath until everyone patted him on the head and reassured him that he was a nice guy after all. Jeff, I believe that you are capable of reviewing responsibly, but I do have a suggestion: read and edit your own reviews carefully before publishing them. While I agree that reviews are by their nature, subjective, you should be able to write a good one without making it sound like a personal attack on the author/editor being criticized. The choice of vocabulary is as critical to the reviewer as to the author, and if you use emotionally-loaded words and phrases, call the author names, or say that the "brain was not in gear," that's personal.
  • a fan quakes at the thought of twelve Star Wars films:
    As to the idea of 12 films, I really don't know how well-received SW#12 could be in the year 2000. (A middle-aged Luke persuades Leia to marry him at last, and is shown carrying his matronly bride across the threshold?) I doubt that any of the main actors could stick with the same characters for 20 years, even if they wanted to. That kind of character identification has heretofore been achieved only by TV soap operas.

Issue 9

cover of issue #9, John Hazard

Alderaan 9 was published in August 1980 and contains 6 pages. There is more Leia and Mary Sue controversy, the first complaint about too much Han Solo in fanfiction, and contains a survey of the Star Wars fandom; the survey must have been a loose-leaf supplement, as it's not printed in the main body of the letterzine.

  • several fans discuss whether the story "A Marketable Commodity" in Pegasus should have an "adult" rating
  • a fan describes an Enclave, see that page
  • the editor writes that Craig Miller, the Star Wars fan liaison, has left that job, and that Ira Friedman is now the president of the official Star Wars fan club
  • one of the editors writes:
    We have received quite a few comments in response to an open letter by Nancy and Tracy Duncan following the opening of Empire. Not many of the letters, however, were printable. While we don't wish to exclude any subjects from the pages of Alderaan, we do want to keep the discussions civil. If you have any comment in the issues raised, we'll consider including thoughtful and diplomatic letters. We can provide copies of the original Duncan letter and their retraction for SI.00 plus 28c postage... [Also see, The Duncan Scandal.]
  • about the review controversy:
    Those of you interested in the issue of reviews from issue #5 will be pleased to finally read [J S's] reply in the letter section on page two. In response, I (JJ) agree the issue did get out of hand. My initial reaction grew from fears that the discussion would be conducted underground. That never happened to my knowledge. The experience has taught me to be more careful and considerate, and that open discussion is most useful when conducted with diplomacy. I don't believe much more can be added to the topic.
  • the editor finally prints the letter from [J S], the editor of Mos Eisley Tribune which he'd so harshly reviewed, causing much controversy:
    I think this entire situation has gotten very badly out of hand. And, I don't feel like you told the entire truth in your editorial in Alderaan #6. You only told things that would make me look bad. Luckily, enough folks know me to know that I'm not really like that at all. I read the review you wrote on Mos Eisley Tribune #2 in Alderaan #5. Granted I didn't think it was a nice interview, but I didn't write you to say so. I just tried my best to ignore it. Well, lo and behold, within about a week's time, I got a letter from you asking me please to let you know what I thought of the review. You went on to explain some of the trouble you'd had with your reviews in Trek fandom and said you really wanted to know what I thought. Well, I took you at your word, thought you really did want to know what I thought about it, so I wrote and was honest with you. I talked not only about your review of mos Eisley Tribune #2, but other reviews also. I mentioned that I didn't feel it was in good taste for you to attack authors personally instead of reviewing their pieces. You can talk about one without talking about the other. And, I do feel like your reviews get a bit too personal. You don't seem to be objective. Well, if you will remember, that brought back a letter to me that wasn't nice at all. I don't see how you could tell folks things about me and how I wouldn't let you print my letter (and tell them you were quoting from it) after you wrote me something like that. If you don't remember what you wrote, I'll be happy to supply you with copies. But, no, I'm not going to make a big deal about printing them. I don't want to do things like you've been doing them. What I want is to stop this entire childish problem. If we have to have things like this go on, do we deserve to have a SW fandom. In fact, if this keeps up and Lucas finds out we are fighting amongst ourselves, he might decide it makes his film look bad and then crack down on us. I say people in fandom should try to get along better. And, I really think it would be nice if it could start with you and me. What about it? Is it a deal?
  • a fan writes in and comments that the Mary Sue debate will certainly be a lively one:
    ... is that every "strong female character" appearing in SW fanfic is automatically branded, at least by a certain segment of fandom, a Mary Sue? Now it may be that I should keep my mouth shut and my typer covered, as I have no (copies of] Warped Space and have read only three "underground" SW stories, only one of which could, by any stretch of the imagination, be classified as a Mary Sue [she goes on to list all the zines she does have, about 15 of them]... First, as I see it, we must define exactly what we mean by a Mary Sue. She is in one sense an alter-ego: she [Mary Sue] is everything her creator wishes she [the writer] could be, transferred to another Reality. At the same time, she is, as [J F] points out, just too perfect, too competent, fault-free. And above all, she must, in the course of the story, [missing word, but it is probably "lay" or "bed"] one of "Our Boys," be it Luke, or even Vader. On the other hand, the "alter ego" is also everything the creator wishes she could be. But she is not perfect. She is competent and self-sufficient, capable of making her own way in the Universe, but she is believable, with flaws; she makes mistakes, or doubts herself, or has a weakness of character. She may not even necessarily lay one of "Our Boys."" The fan then lists many OMCs she's read and says: "... all show definite imperfections, whether of body, mind or character. Leoma is blind; Adelphi has a phobia of flying; Bethen is terrified of her own Futuresight and her growing love for Han; Zav and Keli are often downright unpleasant and Hansa and Yonara just a little manipulative; Aiselin is plagued by self-doubt; Kass and Orana both get themselves captured and require help from one or another of the male contingent to get out and Kass does not even initiate the obligatory lay; Bronwen, Aiselin and Cori, though competent, are believably so, and they have their moments of self-doubt-- something a "too-good-to-be-true" Mary Sue would never have, by definition; Jennet is psychologically tangled and knows it.
  • on Mary Sues:
    ...it may well be that one reason so many fanwrlters are concentrating on their own invented females rather than on Leia is that, in the end, she leaves them uncomfortable. (Nancy and Tracy Duncan made some very good points on this subject in their article, "Princess Leia: Should She Ever Have Been Liberated?" in Against the Sith. I commend it... the thrust of it being that in the SW novel, Leia comes across as much more human and sympathetic than she does in the film.) It isn't because she's liberated. Most of the female characters I enumerated in the first part of this tirade are also liberated; they are themselves and not afraid to be so; they can and often do accomplish "a man's work,"; they are brave, self-confident and skilled. It isn't because she's George Lucas' [creation] either: Luke, Han, Darth, Ben and even Chewie get plenty of play in the fanfic I've read. So it must be that even to those of us who like to write about liberated ladies, she's either unsympathetic, incomprehensible, or unnecessary. (Indeed, intending no criticism of George Lucas, her only function in the film seems to be to provide a focus for Luke's crush, act as a courier of stolen tapes, and be captured in order than in rescuing her "Our Heroes" may encounter dangers and adventures they never would have known if they'd been left to sit quietly in the gantry and wait for Kenobi.)
  • a fan weighs in on Han and on Vader:
    As to Han Solo, I love him dearly warts and all, because I think [his] virtues far outweigh [his] faults. As someone once said, I cannot find it in my heart to condemn him. Darth Vader is another matter. As far as I can see, he is an A #1 100% turkey with no redeeming social value; nothing to recommend him [for] whatsoever. I also think he is a terrific villain because he has a lot of class. You might say he is the guy you love to hate. I don't think it mattered much to the man whose neck he broke whether Vader was enjoying it or not.
  • this fan explains:
    Being an avid SW fan who was introduced to "Fandom" because of it and not Trek, I feel almost like a babe in the woods. First of all, all of this banter between Trek and Wars fans is totally ridiculous. I still love Trek although I was oblivious to fandom at the height of my passion, then Star Wars came along and opened up a whole new galaxy for me. As many of you have stated in past issues, the two cannot be compared. They are entirely different not only in structure ""it [in] intention. Lucas created a story of sword and sorcery, adventure, and romance... action... fun! It never intended to be anything but that...
  • some of the first bit of The Luke and Han War heats up:
    I am only a little confused now as to the direction fanzine fandom came from and has been going. When I delightfully discovered fanzines, the delight soon began to diminish when zine after zine seemed to devote much of their creative talents on the Han Solo character. Now, Han is an interesting fellow and is certainly nice to look at--I am far from blind--but it behooved me to understand what credited this comical, somewhat thick-headed Corellian so much attention. Looks and a smart mouth (not to mention overbearing machoness) can only go so far on their own dubious virtues until it gets boring and so help me, if I read one more story about Han and Chewie's first meeting, or how Han acquired the "Falcon" or basically how wonderful Han is and let's all crawl into his pants, I am going to tear my hair out. I have come to realize that it is very easy to write about the Solo character mainly because one can reasonably put him into a myriad of situations because a free-flying Corellian can go anywhere and get into all kinds of fun predicaments and beds. But a Rebel Princess and an awakening young Jedi are another thing entirely. Truthfully, you must admit. Star Wars is the adventures of Luke Skywalker and Luke is involved with a Rebel Alliance and the Alliance is personified in Leia. These characters have definite roots, definite directions, definite ideals, desires and goals if you only take the time to think about them. The possibilities are fascinating and wide-open. I always felt the Solo character was there to play-off and offset the very defined characters of Luke and the Princess. Most of us admire Luke's and Leia's ideals and [their] all-fire loyalty to truth, justice and the Old Republic's ways but we can also identify (maybe a little more so) with the "what the hell have I gotten myself into" attitude of Solo's. Here I am going off on a tangent, excuse me, what I really meant to say all along was... C'mon guys, the Luke and Leia characters (especially Leia) are being elbowed aside far too much. They present incredible opportunities for development. They take what SW is all about. Leia is much more than a short, pushy little bitch and Luke is light years away from the sappy, starry-eyed youth he is often portrayed.
  • a fan comments:
    The crux of fanzinedom seems to be made up of women, a lot of whom have been with fandom before SW came out. Having read [B C's] and other's comments regarding many peoples almost paranoid resentment of "Mary Sue" stories, things are a little clearer. I've come to the conclusion that a lot of these women, because of this mysterious happening in ST fandom, have a thing against strong female characters.
  • a fan gets over her shock regarding the second SW movie:
    I have now fully accepted TESB and really love it, I can't wait to see how Kirshner and the actors present it. I also cannot wait to see how it all goes over in fandom. This should be good! Those fanatical Hanites who think Leia isn't even worth mentioning are going to have to reevaluate their ideas...they are going to have to start thinking with their brains and hearts for a change and not their hormones. I wonder if they can do it or if they are going to blow their nose to it all and wail on about the unfairness inflicted upon their poor little Pirate. If they cannot accept and appreciate TESB because of this, that's fine because they were obviously never real Star Wars fans to beqin with. Poor thinqs, so busy gazing starry eye'd at Ford that they missed out on the wonder and beauty of the whole story. TESB is not quite the same, however. It is the next logical step from silly, wonderful, innocent Star Wars. In this one, we are required to think about the characters and I for one am quite happy with who and what they are and where they are going. Now I can still say, with a little more satisfaction, "Uncle George sure is a genius!

Issue 10

cover of issue #10, Cathy Farci

Alderaan 10 was published in October 1980 and contains 10 pages

  • a male fan asks: "Can someone please tell me why almost all the SW zine eds and writers are women? You can't tell me that only women read fanzines, edit them, or write for them. But just from reading the contents page of any zine seems to prove otherwise."
  • The Quest for Legitimacy: Copyright Practices and Possible Infringement in Fan Fiction by Carol Mularski (a very lengthy article that goes deeply into the details of legality takes up most of the issue). It is divided into these parts: Introduction, The Nature and Content of Fanzines, Copyright Practice, The Question of Legality (plagiarism, infringement, and fair use), Silent Consent, Conclusion
  • zine reviews are reinstated with a review of Twin Suns and Equal Space #1
  • this issue contains discussion regarding the beginning of the famous copyright controversy. See Open Letter to Star Wars Zine Publishers by Maureen Garrett for more:
    ...the beginning, in print, of the copyright controversy. Are we or are we not violating Lucas' copyright? The previous issue's exploration of female fannish characters continues, and the general question arises of just why is the vast majority of media fen female? The first comment on the "There is an other/another" is made in this isssue.[1]
  • one excerpt from Carol Mularski's article:
    George Lucas and his corporation, Lucasfilm, allowed an announcement through the fan grapevine (at science fiction conventions and in fanzines) that they would not take action against Star Wars fan fiction writers and editors. Lucas made only one stipulation, that the fans avoid publishing sexually explicit SW stories. According to one SW fanzine editor, Beverly Clark, in a letter to me: "Lucasfilm is keeping tabs on people doing SW zines and satires...Lucas himself had let it be known that he did not like X-rated material; specifically he did not like gay stories, and he would personally hang the first person to write or print a gay SW story." These types of stories have been published in Star Trek fanzines, and Lucas Is within his rights to make this request, and expect it to be complied with, especially if one subscribes to the "moral rights" concept of copyright ownership. One area of moral rights In copyright states that the originator has the right to protect his work from what he considers to be mutilation, once the work is an expression of his persona or character. So far, the fans have honored Lucas' request. Although such stories have been circulating "underground," through the mail to individuals or in person, no fanzine, to my knowledge, has published pornographic SW literature. The way Lucasfilm "keeps tabs" on fan activity is to openly buy four copies of each SW-related fanzine. Here again, this amounts to consent to the production of SW fanzines, and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to legally stop such activity at a future date. Despite all the unofficial approval implied by these circumstances, I think that the producers and readers of ST and SW fanzines would breathe much easier if the powers-that-be would write official letters giving permission to use the copyrighted material for amateur publication purposes. I doubt that this will ever come about, however. The lack of official permission is probably one weapon being kept in Paramount's and 20th Century Fox's legal arsenal, just in case it is ever needed.
  • the Mularski article's conclusion:
    In summary, as the situation stands at the present, amateur fiction based on Star Trek and Star Wars is, strictly speaking, copyright infringement. It may very well be that fan fiction falls under the protection of the rules of fair use, but that can only be determined by the courts. I'm sure that no fan wants to take a chance on that, and I doubt that Paramount or 20th Century Fox cares enough to bother with legal proceedings. In one way, fan fiction may be considered as falling within the spirit of the Copyright Law, if not the letter. The U.S. Constitution authorizes Congress to institute copyright legislation in order to "promote the sciences and useful arts." It can be argued that the existance of amateur fiction fulfills this: it is a "school" for new professional writers, and instruct all its practitioners in the art of self-expression. The stories themselves, especially the better-quality ones, are a unique contribution to our popular culture.
  • a fan wants to know:
    Why is it that the active writing and publishing sub-fandoms such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Darkover, Pern, Sime are predominantly female? An excellent chance to discuss this was blown by Jacqueline Lichtenberg at Novacon in Albany last November (the friend who posed the question being Jan Finder, who ran the con and asked her to run the panel discussing the subject). Marion Zimmer Bradley and another person I didn't know (connected with Trek, I think) were on the panel with Lichtenberg and it could have been fascinating but Jacqueline said she did not want to talk about that, she wanted to talk about something else, and a possibly enlightening discussion went down the drain. Judging by the number of people besides my husband and myself who walked out, a lot of fen were interested in the question.
  • a fan comments on strong women and Mary Sues:
    As a dedicated feminist and ERA supporter... I'm extremely offended at the idea of some who call themselves feminists objecting to strong female characters in fanfic. I'm relatively new to fanzines, having gotten into SW fandom thru meeting other fanatics at regular cons I've been an active SF fan since 1972) and the whole Mary Sue business was a total surprise to me--in fact, it took piecing together comments in a number of LoCs (mostly to Warped Space) before I finally figured it out. Anyway, I have the impression that Mary Sue, whether intended as purely descriptive of a type or used as an insult, has been around for a long time--maybe too long. Maybe SW fandom ought to declare a moratorium on the use of the term and try thinking about female characters rather than as stereotypes imposed by the reader's own bias. So what if a character is an alter-ego for the author? Ghod knows pro writers (male as well as female!) have been doing that for years, mundanes as well as pros. So what if the female character seems capable of doing anything? If a male character, "capable of the same is considered valid (and you all know damn well such male characters are practically everywhere!) the female should be also. Go ahead and criticize if there's no basis in the story for the female doing whatever she does, but criticize if there's no basis for a male doing it, too. Try this: pretend the female is male. Would you have the same reaction to the character's action? If not, why not? If it's because the male version has justification for the action, then the same justification applies to the female and you have no legitimate grounds for criticism. Characters should be judged on the basis of internal consistency in the story, not on the appropriateness of the action for their sex... Let's bury poor overworked Mary Sue once and for all and try to write and read without fitting everything into stereotypical molds.
  • a fan comments on The Empire Strikes Back:
    The most intriguing thing in Empire is something Yoda said, "There is another." This implies that Luke isn't the only son/daughter of a Jedi, powerful enough to defeat the Empire. For many reasons, I think it will be a girl. Perhaps Luke's sister. Or maybe to replace Leia in Luke's (or Han's) love life. And there is the possibility that Leia is the "other".

References

  1. Source: Letter of comment by Melanie Guttierrez in Southern Enclave #22, page 47