Darkover Newsletter/Issues 11-20
Issue 11 (not dated, likely March 1978)
Darkover Newsletter 11 is undated and contains 26 pages. It was edited by Ted Bryan.
- The editor of Jumeaux says "I still have about 65 copies of JUMEAUX lying around, and while I couldn't quite take a surging demand per se, I could use a few orders." This is a rather classy response to the comments in the last issue in which the editor had stated in a sly assumption, coupled with an ulterior motive: "Lynne probably wouldn't want to be swamped by orders, so we're trying to negotiate to reprint the Darkover items in STARSTONE."
- There are about 25 letters from fans, and the editor writes that while this issue of the newsletter went over the allotted 16 pages, they still had 2.5 inches of unprinted letters. "If we continue having upwards of 600 subscribers, we can afford this length, otherwise not."
- The regular feature by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, "The Keeper's Tower" will no longer print updates on Councils in the newsletter. (She notes there are 59 Councils registered, 39 of them Chartered). That part of the column took up too much space. Fans will have to write a fan named Wendy who is now in charge of that stuff. "The Keeper's Tower" will continue, but will include current news instead.
- A fan addresses Walter Breen in a letter discussing "machismo," and Breen replies at great length about machismo and digestive tracts.
- A fan named Wendy "has volunteered to become the publishing arm of DWel (Darkover Welcommittee), and thus needs lots of volunteer helpers. If you live in the Bay Area, please contact Wendy if you have time to help her out. The less "publishing" work MZB has to do, the more writing she'll get done." -- a fan named Gai Oyoumich is the DWel person in charge of the pen pal list and in getting fans in touch with each other. A few issues later, this fan resigns from this volunteer duty.
- Jacqueline Lichtenberg, the fan now in charge of Council registration and accountability, asks "I am now asking for all Councils to report the news of their doings to me for the Keeper's Tower report. I'd like to know how many meetings you've held, what you did at them, whether you publish, whether your Council letter is available to outsiders, how many RR loops you are running, and any other fan interests you have." MZB interjects that each Council had better have at least one subscription to this newsletter.
A fan defends Star Trek, a fandom that Bradley almost uniformly sniffs at:Thendara Council will hold a special meeting/reunion for collating STARSTONE #2 late in June or early in July, open by invitation only but anyone who subscribes or comes with a subscriber will be invited if you send a SASE before June 1st. (If you come to this one, be prepared to work, but you will get your Starstone for exactly what the out-of-pocket printing costs are; attendees at the #1 party got it for $1.01. MZB will attend and perhaps read from an unfinished Darkover novel.)
A fan ponders her attraction to Darkover, and some female writers of the time:I wouldn't downplay Trekfans too much. The series opened a lot of eyes to the world of SF and Fantasy. Trekfans can get a little strange, and I sometimes wonder if Mr Nimoy ever regrets the role of Mr Spock. But you must admit, if teenagers still go crazy about STAR TREK, maybe our own space program will endure until there is a peaceful "Federation" or a "Terran Empire." Many, many years have passed since "Flash Gordon" and what was strange then is now reality.
No long lines for this Arkansas Star Wars fan:I wonder sometimes what IS the attraction of Darkover? I know I do not agree with the concepts of sexual freedom presented in FT and WW. WW seems strongly influenced by LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS, but MZB treats the subject as sensitively or as deeply as LeGuin. However, MZB seems more interested, I think, in the psi side of sexuality, than in the psychological-'social-cultural aspects as was LeGuin. I do feel that MZB, LeGuin, and Jacqueline Lichtenberg are all part of a new developing school of SF writers—a school, at present, dominated by women. One of its distinguishing features is an interest in psycho-social-cultural possibilities and a willingness to relate these possibilities to present conditions in order to make a statement about these present conditions. LeGuin makes a strong statement aboutthe nature of human sexuality through the Gethenians. The concept of "shift grethor" destroys many old stereotypes about maleness and fe-maleness. (If I may digress, I am a great fan of the Hainish, even if they do sound like a brand of health-food butter.) There seem to be two reasons why this new school can make so many strong statements about human nature through settings on distant planets. One is because we are on the threshold of star travel. The other is that new discoveries and rediscoveries are confirming what has already been presented in many of these stories. For instance, we all possess some degree of laran. We do not have matrix jewels, but that is only a small logical further step; the important point is that the potential is there.
This issue's editor, some rules, some promises of ice cream:People here seem to think that anyone who reads SF is a little strange. Their conception of SF is limited to STAR TREK because that is the only exposure to SF they have had. When STAR WARS opened at a Hot Springs theatre, I showed up an hour early for the first showing to beat the long lines. I could have saved my time because only a dozen people showed up: the projectionist, an usher, a popcorn girl, a ticket taker, about 8 paying customers including myself. I was delighted at not having to wait in line, but also shocked at the lack of interest. The movie stayed here for nine weeks. I went to see it 8 times and while there "were good crowds, the theatre was never filled up and I never had to wait in line more than a couple of minutes.
Ted Bryan writes of how the printed letters are selected, and talks of trying to protect Bradley form having "another heart attack":Edited by Ted Bryan. All letters sent to us are subject to publication unless otherwise stated; writers and artists retain riqhts to their own creation. We reserve the right to edit letters for length, but will not change your meaning if we can help it. The Newsletter has no "yearly" subscription rate as it is published somewhat irregularly; but all issues except #9-10 are 50 cents each; order as many as you like but please do not extend your subscription past #20 at current rates, as postage and paper costs are likely to go up without notice. We are non-sexist ,non-political, non-religious, and we do not exist for the furthering of any fannish ideal except to facilitate the discussion of all fantasy worlds, including but not restricted to the Darkover Novels of Marion Zimmer Bradley. Nothing in this issue shall be construed as being representative of the personal opinions of MZB unless she is being quoted, of unless she wrote and signed it. Come to think of it, that goes for all issues of the Newsletter. We are also non-profit. Our thanks to the kind people who have sent an extra 50 cents or dollar to the pistachio ice cream fund. We'll take a gallon or two to the next collating party.
Next time there's a party at Bradley and Breen's house (or at Greyhaven), bring more food, and less kids to have to yell at:
I LIKE MOST OF THE LETTERS I GET. I read almost all of the Darkover mail; MZB reads a great deal of it but not all, and since the hassle she detailed in the AMAZON issue, we have warned her to read letters only with return addresses from people she knows and trusts. We like her around here and don't want her to have another heart attack. Well, SOMEBODY has to finish that drawerful of unfinished Darkover novels she won't even let me read!
About half the letters we get here are unmixed pleasure... Let me tell you how we pick letters to print. If I have to type them, I pick, in this order (1) interesting letters in nice, dark typewriter type, single spaced, that I can cut and past and just stick on the makeup sheets for the letters section. (2) interesting letters, badly typed, that I can retype esialy after MZB outlines the interesting parts with read pencil for makeup. (3) interesting letters in neat handwriting, which I can retype without straining my eyes. SOMETIMES -- and only after fighting with MZB about it -- I include an interesting letter in TERRIBLE handwriting. Incidentally, an 'interesting' letter does NOT mean 'I love your newsletter and I love the Darkover novels.' We all do -- what else is new? We want to share new insights and new ideas you have had.
I have no idea how MZB picks letters to print, you'll have to ask her. (She insists we should print some letters from people who do not have typewriters, .iust to be fair. I say, fair is fine, but what about my eyes?) Walter picks letters that interest HIM, or letters he can arque with at length. If you find an answer more than a paragraph long it is probably his.ABOUT HALF OF THE LETTERS I GET mean either hard work, or trouble. Either I goofed and sent somebody the wrong thing...or somebody has ordered a book we are out of and I have to write them a letter....or they didn't qet their Newsletter when their Aunt Fanny or their roommate or their next door neighbor did...or somebody demands to know why Regis Hastur had white hair in SWORD OF ALDONES and red hair in PLANET SAVERS, or who was Callina Aillard's grandfather. Who was the Bridesmaid at the wedding of Hastur and Cassilda? What was the name of Kennard Alton's older brother? I ask HZB sometimes and she gives me her blank "creative" look and says "You know, I haven't the least idea, I haven't written it yet."
And by the same token, many thanks to everybody who showed up at the Thendara Council meeting to collate STARSTONE and the AMAZON ISSUE. Special thanks to Marcia Ristow, who brought a second heavy-duty stapler and orqanized the collating tables, to Diana Paxson, who looked after everybody's kids on top of her own and was sick for a week afterward from the strain (not to mention losing her voice). To Walter, Chris Gilson, Sandi Morris and Linda Von Braskat, as well as another woman whose name I knew but have lost the slip, for spending hour after hour stapling heavy magazines without a break. To Wendy Koenig, who brought friends and offered to take over our List-of-Councils publishing. We learned a lot abodt throwing a Darkover party, so I offer it here for your amendation, because next time we are going to--
- 1. Ban all kids unless they are old enough to help without being looked after or yelled at.
- 2. Supply a lot more nonalcoholic refreshment. The fruit iuice goes first, then the diet soda, then the regular soda, then the coffee, white wine and red wine in that order. The small amount of beer and booze we brought was almost untouched at the evening's end, while gasping teenagers were hunting for anything, including ice water, that was drinkable, sugarless and nonalcoholic.
- 2. Supply more munchies and food. The buffet/potluck was good, but some people missed out on some dishes. My rule of thumb next time is going to be to ask everybody to bring half again as much as they did, and supply eiaht or ten loaves of French bread or home-made bread on top of it. The trays of carrot sticks and vegetable muhchies, provided for the few serious dieters and diabetics amona us, were a great hit with EVERYBODY. As a rule of thumb, Darkovans are hungry, thirsty people, but don't want to load up with sugar, alcohol, etc. (A trend I applaud. I hate to have to resist liquer chocolates and stick to the tray of green peppers.)
There is an amazing con report, actually a set of two letters (one by a fan, and one by Bradley), that foreshadow The Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy, see Darkovans Invade Boskone! for the whole thing, excerpts below:
Bradley responds:Linda Bushyager also wondered about the problems involved when pro writers allow (and even encourage) fans to write fiction in their universes. We all floundered around in this discussion because none of us understand copyright law, and because we consider this a potentially sensitive subject... [Name redacted] wondered why you as pros encourage fans to write Darkover and Simes fiction. We said (1) to make us happy and allow us the egoboo of getting published (2) to collect ideas on what interests us, for possible future work, thus allowing us to contribute to your work. We said you did much of the fanzine [referring to Starstone] yourselves, because fans were going to write fan fiction anyway, and this way they can do it officially and legally. You aren't just out for egoboo or professional or personal self-aggrandizement. (And, what the heck, if this publicity manages to help win a Hugo for you, well, your influence on the sf field can only be good.)... [Name redacted] is particularly concerned that fan writers might get hurt feelings if one of you takes one of our ideas and uses it professional. We said, 'No, we'd be pleased,' and besides we trust you. Hopefully, we all manage to trust each other, and we fans get to feel part of a living universe. But I still thinks she feels that this would be unfair to us, that you would be using us, albeit with our very willing consent. I said certainly, you're 'using' us, and we 'use' the opportunities you provide, and everybody's happy... [Name redacted] also worried about the possibility of YOU getting hurt, at least in reputation, if some encouraged fan writes a story or zine in your universe and proceeds to get it copyrighted themselves, perhaps leading to legal hassles. All we could say is, we have to trust each other."
A fan scolds other fans:... While I can't speak for Jacqueline, I participate in Darkover fandom because it is FUN. I would be writing non-publishable peripheral Darkover stories for my own amusement, and publishing fanzines about something or other... where does it say I have to be professional all the time. I am a fan. I think [name redacted] argument stems from a fear that Jacqueline and I will exploit young writers using their ideas in our professional work, ideas which they, themselves, might later make use of in their own private world... I have encouraged young writers to speak in their own voice -- one of the first things I ever wrote to Jacqueline was that she would never do anything worth doing, professionally, until she got out of Roddenberry's Star Trek universe and started creating her own. And of course, this ties in with the fannish question I get very tired of hearing... 'Where do you get your ideas? As if ideas were a precious commodity, so scarce that I would be reduced to stealing them... I can get a couple of thousand story ideas between breakfast and dinner, and very few of them will I ever have time to write... So why should I snitch any of the fannish ideas about what happens in the Starstone world (which I, frankly, regard as a 'parallel world' to Darkover, not MY Darkover, not quite.) Now, I suppose if I were sick, or exhausted, or overworked, or had writer's block, and happened to come across a fannish story with the gem of a good idea it in, I might write the kid and say, 'Hey, I like that idea, and you probably don't have the skill to make a novel out of it. I'll give you (say) twenty bucks for the idea.' And if the kid should say, 'Hey, wow, I'm flattered, use it for nothing, " I would still say, 'No, I want you to sell it to me, so that you kick if I do something completely different than you want to , or so you won't later think I ripped you off, when you get older.' On the contrary, if the kid says, 'I want to use it in my own private world some day for a story of my own,' then I would just have to start with that idea and work on it till its own author would never know I began there... Mostly I let other people write about Darkover because it is so much fun to read a new Darkover story without having to site down and slog through the writing of it! I don't need to borrow ideas. After all, I KNOW what really happened... and yes, it's egoboo, but it's not just an ego trip. I'm just sharing, I think. I don't have as much time to write Darkover stories as I'd like to. I have to do other books that pay me more. So I like to think somebody's keeping it warm for me when I'm not there."
A fan comments on some remarks by Bradley by way of a letter from "Lesbian Connection" in the last newsletter:
I would like to intersect a comment to all critics of the characters and structured society of MZB's Darkover novels. I have read ALL the Darkover books and I state firmly to those critics the following: Darkover is MZB's creation and it is up to her to decide what it is like and what pressures are necessary in the society to produce the characters she designs. Without some of the pressures of the society that have been described I doubt very much whether development of plot or character could have been done with finesse they were. I am sure that if everything was milk and honey on Darkover the characters would be as BLAND as the afore-mentioned milk and honey, the characters not needing the scope or depth they have developed in dealing with the strigent survival characteristics Darkover has demanded of its people. It is in overcoming these and surviving against odds that have made her characters so real and likeable.So ends my first fan letter ever, but I feel better for writing it, as it has made me so angry to read the letters of those who object to the peculiarities of Darkover culture, I say to them that if they don't like somebody's fantasy world they are perfectly free to create one of their own and stop throwing stones at someone else's.
....I was very interested in the discussion on Free Amazons, but what struck me the most was the excerpt from the LESBIAN CONNECTION about excluding little boys from group meetings. How in the name of Avarra are little boys to grow up with a sensitive understanding of women unless they are allowed to mix with them on a friendly basis? I get the feeling that a lop-eared alien with a bad smell would have been much more welcomed in their group than those little boys who had certainly not had time to oppress anybody yet. ++ I suppose I am really missing the point. I think their point was that women have a right just to be with each other. However, I have always found that one kind of anything, whether it is a completely female group or a white group or a middle-class group is extremely dull and interesting. ((Elsewhere in this issue Katie Fizipowicz comments on somebody who felt that way about a group of Darkover fans.)) Variety is said to be the spice of life, and if we see all humanity as flowers in a garden whose different colors, fragrances and shapes add greatly to the beauty of the garden, then maybe it will be a little easier to live with one another.
What is feminism:
To get back to the Free Amazons and Darkover, I have noticed that a fair number of fantasy writers choose a feudalistic society. I suppose that in our rapidly changing, relatively unstructured society we can look back on the apparently ordered and rigid existence of feudal times with a certain amount of longing. I think the key word is order. We have so little order now that many of us want to escape to a fantasy world where everything is ordered and safe. I don't think that order is bad. I think it is good in moderate amounts. Darkover, to me, is a cleaned-up and idealized feudal society. The real thing contained a great deal of necessary and unnecessary bloodshed, but was also not very ordered. It was really an every-man-for-himself culture, with to-the- victor-belong-the-spoils. (Like the SCA. A friend of MZB's said that Darkover was "the Middle Ages as they should have been." I don't know if MZB believes it, but she quotes it a lot. TB) .. .Reading your Free Amazon issue made me realize how different our thinking is out here in the Great American Desert. To us, women's liberation means getting your husband to do the dishes, or babysitting for the kids while you go to a meeting. We are not worried by superficial matters like language and "spaces for women." I am fond of bringing up the fact that both Turkish and Persian are non-sexist in their pronouns, but it would be hard to find another society where women are more oppressed. Tahirih (or Qurrat-n-Ayni) a Persian woman, was one of those to raise the banner for women's rights back in the 1840s, and she was eventually put to death for her beliefs. So far, Joanna Russ has not been martyred for her convictions.
I skimmed the Joanna Russ book—and was appalled at the arrogance it takes to decide that decision for another person, and kill. To clarify a little: If, as in DL ["Darkover Landfall"], a group of people lands by mistake on a world and has no other way to survive than to return to the basic protection of the child-bearing elements of the group, then, particularly if they were meant to be a colonizing group to begin with, it seems perfectly rational that all the limitations and protections mentioned in DL should be strictly enforced. The only question I have on it is, once a woman is beyond the age of childbearing, these restrictions would be relaxed, wouldn't they? Especially in the first generation or so—which would become custom as time went on. Women would become the carriers of tradition from one generation to another (the men, who would be doing the heavy physical labor, would probably have a short lifespan by comparison; whereas if a woman survives past menopause, the most contributlve thing she can do is teach, and make sure the traditions and so on are passed on to her grandchildren). Old women vould be allowed a considerable (comparative) freedom in behavior. (Well, it seems reasonable. Doesn't it?) But Ms. Russ. decides that her heroine's bodily integrity is of paramount importance. . . Well, good for her; I won't waste my money on the book. Personally, I live in a society, I don't try to dictate to it. [Ted Bryan, the editor added: MZB wrote in the margin of this [letter] saying "Right on, Sister," and I don't know what can, or could, add to that. However, in all justice, Russ states her case rather eloquently in a recent issue of JANUS, a fanzine published somewhere in Michigan or Wisconsin, and one should read what she says as well as what we say about her. The fact that she is not on the same same wavelength as many of the Midwestern Friends may simply reflect the fact that, as our anonymous letterwriter wrote above, the issues of feminism perhaps begin with where you ARE, and Russ, who has been active in the women's movement for many years, is starting in a different place than some of us. MZB has asked me to sound out the membership —do you feel that this extended discussion of feminism violates out desire to stay out of politics?]
Issue 12 (May 1978)
Darkover Newsletter 12 was published in May 1978 and contains 26 pages. It was edited by Ted Bryan.
- The editor warns that "about 15-17 letters we get at Box 72 come rubberstamped OPENED BY ERROR. ALL have contained cheques but none cash -- which looks distinctly suspicious, especially as only about half of any given day's mail contains remittances. We think it probable that Mrs. or Ms. Error has been holding some of our mail up to a 500-watt bulb for obvious purposes. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED."
- There are updates on the printing status of several Darkover fanzines.
- Bradley writes a letter about her trip to England, and extensively her health problems there (herpes simplex, "full-fledged trigeminal neuralgia" which in the past she treated with "low doses of gin").
- A fan writes a long proposal for a Darkover Kennel Club for fans to register and talk about dogs.
- Several fans asked about cats on Darkover.
- Keeper's Tower has some Council Reports.
- A fan writes a con report called "Darkover at Balticon (March 1978).
- There is an ad for SPWAO (Semi-Pro Writers and Artists Organization) started in March 1977, had 60 members by that December, run by Chet Clingan and Robert Medcalf, dues $2 a year.
- A fan says she is going to T-Con dressed as a Free Amazon: "I look a fine dignified old lady (60 and retired) swaggering around in my full-length pseudo-fur cape (sort of fat, but not 13, at least [reference to the "fat 13-year olds in capes" comment in earlier issues]), my unborn-animal skin tunic (knee length), my soft leather boots (courtesy Montgomery Ward's bedroom slipper section), 'coarse linen' blouse, with my various pouches on my plain man's belt—containers for money, tape recorder, camera, complete with a pair of hunting knives..."
Jacqueline Lichtenberg describes Star Trek fandom and cons (and some of her comments are addressed in issue #17/18), and gets not one, but two plugs in for fan-created universes:Guest of Honor is Jacqueline Lichtenberg, though the possibility is that MZB may show up (nothing is defined as yet about her schedule). Already on the program: panels on Free Amazons, Women SF Writers, laran, vampires & the Undead, midwifery (including two specialists from Arlinn Guild House Council), 'a lecture by a well known futurist,' a debates on the merits (if any) of Terran interference on Darkover, Tarot workshops, games, trivia contest, costume contest. Registration fees in advance $2.50, or $3.50 at the door, huckster tables $8 (cheap!), payable to ARMIDA COUNCIL. Prime mover is Judy Kopman but we suspect that no matter how much of a live wire she is, the con would not become a reality without "a little help from the Friends" at least in Armida Council. We hear that people have already been registering from many outlying states. Profits, if any, will go to the Friends; frankly, we aren't expecting anything much -- except a lot of fun, and a vote of thanks to Armida Council.
Trekfen are not mostly women. Or not "mostly" by much. I think in active Trekfandom, the proportion is about what you found in your survey of NL subscribers; but Darkover fans seem to follow the trekfan pattern in sex and interest distribution, rather than the classic sf fan pattern. Treklit (STAR TREK literature) is produced mostly by women, as are Trekzines; and women are the letter-hacks of STrekdom. But there are, among the "general public" viewers and "off the street" Trekcon goers, about equal proportions of men and women. The men, however, see a different ST than the women, and respond with their own brands of creativity. In general, the men build starship and bridge models, run cons (with feminine help) and open Trek stores (though many women have done this too); the women write stories about how, why, wherefore and should; design and create alluring and sexy costumes (for men and women!); write books without being asked. (The men wrote on assignment; and Bantam & Ballantine choose only men. Hmmm.
To my way of thinking, ST is a poor imitation of Darkover written from the Terran Empire point of view, casting Vulcans as Darkovans, then proceeding to write very badly indeed. (That's not to say ST was badly written; I am here comparing TV to narrative, which is apples to oranges.) ST attempted to present to the viewing public a smorgasbord of sf themes, questions and concepts. It ALMOST succeeded, but was cancelled before it could really get going. (You all know, of course, that ST actually got the official ax at the end of second season; third season was a lame duck, which is why it went sour.) This cancellation hit my frustration limit, and I then proceeded to take ST and add to it the missing Darkover themes (to the dat deedee dah dah adding the duht DUHT), producing what has become known as the Kraith Series (SASE me for info). Be it here known that MZB is NOT a Kraith fan, though she does tend to be partial to Simes.)MZB... tries very hard not to philosophize in (or about) what she writes. Herein lies one of our deepest philosophical differences. I not only philosophize in/about what I write, my sole/soul motivation for writing is express my philosophy... Without it, there would be no story, for me at any rate. So, from different starting points, MZB and I tend to end up at about the same place.
Issue 13/14 (August/September/October 1978)
Darkover Newsletter 13/14 is the "Laran Issue." It was published in August/September/October 1978 and contains 46 pages.
It was edited by Jan Malin and Marion Zimmer Bradley. Graphics by Walter Breen, Joan Verba, Jan Malin and as otherwise credited (Doris Quinn, Pat Munson, Susan Fisher, Diane Morris). Uncredited graphics are by Cello-tac transfer type. Logo by Walter Breen. " Our thanks to Joyce Fickies for typing a considerable amount of the RELAYS."
On the front "cover" -- "The Waterfall at Alderan" by Doris Quinn.
This issue is unique in that has as table of contents, and is more like a zine, than a newsletter.
Ted Bryan, the former editor, is reported to have gone away on a "lengthy foreign tour" and may or may not return to work on the newsletter.
This issue has much discussion by fans of the appropriateness of the discussion of feminism in this newsletter, as well as comments about Bradley's new book, "Stormqueen!."
- Editorial (for all our new rates and policies)
- Information (for old and new subscribers about costs, other zines, clubs) (5)
- Laran: Facts and Fancy, article by Gary Beene (7)
- Update: Darkover Concordance "The latest word as we have it now. Note this!" (8)
- The Ardais Curse, article by Patricia Mathews, except below (9)
- Memorandum from the Crystal Chamber by Marcia Ristow and Crystal Chamber Council (10) (about the "Visit Scenic Darkover" bumper stickers: "It seems that MZB has a blue travel bag on which WB had written "Visit Scenic Darkover" with felt pens. A comment was made that this would be good to put on a bumper sticker. Wendy Reed called around to various printers to find out how much one bumper sticker would cost and discovered that ten would be cheaper. After finding this out, [Wendy] asked MZB if maybe others would be interested in bumper stickers. Thus began "The Great Bumper Sticker Project".") (10)
- a lengthy, descriptive account of the collating party for Starstone #2, a blow-by-blow account including the refreshments (champagne sherbet, punch, chicken), how the kitchen table had to be dismantled, who exactly was there and what time they arrived, and what the dinner conversation was about (dogs) (11)
- Of Animals and Laren by T'Pat (more discussion on the animals on Darkover) (14)
- Keeper's Tower Report by Jacqueline Lichtenberg (16)
- a humorous, but negative con report of Archon II by Paula Crunk, see below (18)
- Laran by Any Other Name by Ted Bryan (our ex-editor looks at other fantasies) (19)
- The Psychophysics of Laran by Frank R. Wilkinson (23)
- Relays (letters) (28) (many talk of the place of the discussion of feminism in the newsletter)
- Darkover Trivia Quiz (38)
- About Starstone (40)
- Letter from MZB (Marion tells us something about her travels past and future) (45)
More about finances:
RIGHT NOW, CHECK YOUR MAILING LABEL! If the NUMBER on it is 13, you really should not have recieved THIS issue because your subscription HAS EXPIRED; you owe us 50 cents for the #14 part of THIS issue, and this should be taken into account when you renew. If your number is 14, this is the LAST issue on your current subscription. Issues numbered through #20 will still be 50 cents an issue, but you will get them two at a time, so if your subscription end with an ODD number, PLEASE save us all trouble by renewing NOW.A note about the "X" after a few names. This does not mean EXPIRED; It means that for some reason or other, you will recieve further issues without paying for them. Maybe we trade with your fanzine. Maybe you have contributed so lavishly to Darkover fandom, in time, money or effort, that this is all we can do to show appreciation. Maybe you are a friend of MZB's since 1945 or thereabout. Incidentally, if you are in prison, or disabled in a hospital, write us and ask to be put on X status and you will recieve further issues without cost.
Update on the beleaguered Darkover Concordance:Most of you probably noticed that it cost us 40c per copy to mail out the #12 issue of the Newsletter. It's obvious that we can't possibly continue to sell a Newsletter which costs 40c to mail, for 50c. We have managed so far (we got through the #12 issue without going broke, for instance) because our generous Stamp Patrons have been so kind in contributing to our postage-and-pistachio-ice-cream fund, which buys not only pistachio ice cream (thanks, I'll take butter brickie—JM) but Liquid Paper (white-out) cello-tac transfer type, staples, glue sticks and other necessary editorial impedimenta and paraphernalia. It also hires local teenagers to lick stamps and paste on labels at somewhat less than the minimum Darkover wage. But even with the lower printer costs which camewhen we. hit 1,000 oh the mailing list (yes, we now have between 800 and 900 paying subscribers) cannot possibly continue to sell for 50c an issue.
[much snipped]Don't suggest that we incorporate as a nonprofit foundation. We ARE nonprofit, in the sense that all labor is donated and volunteer; though we sometimes hire local kids to lick stamps and paste labels for ice-cream money, and now and then pay a smidgin above minimum wage to some local expert typist to produce a set of labels for us; after all, 800+ labels is a sizable day's work for somebody, and it's, unrealistic to ask even dedicated people to give us that much time. If there are profits from STARSTONE and other THENDARA HOUSE endeavors, they all go in the kitty for more and better Newsletters; if there are losses, MZB picks them up because she is doing this for the fun of it. (Some people also enjoy hitting their heads with a hammer.) But there is no way we could meet the criteria of a Non Profit Foundation for tax purposes and we simply are not willing to do the book-keeping it would require. Messing with Uncle Sam's Revenue to try to get tax exemptions is a tricky, tricky business and we'd rather not try. (If it's hard to explain fandom to ordinary mundanes, who would like to try explaining it to Infernal Revenue?) Should there ever be any profits, which seems unlikely, we will willingly give Uncle Sam the few cents it would amount to. If we start making money hand over fist, we will rethink the whole matter. At present it seems about as likely as a Ghost Wind in Central Park.
From the article, "The Ardais Curse," by Patricia Mathews, in which homosexuality is defined as a "very standard vice for aristocrats.":
Here is what we know ourselves. PLEASE DO NOT TRY TO ORDER THE CONCORDANCE FROM US, AT LEAST NOT YET:
Due to growing financial burdens and other reasons, T-K Graphics has finally admitted that it will not be possible for him to issue the Darkover Concordance in the foreseeable future. Therefore we have broken our agreement with T-K Graphics, and with Ted Pauls, to publish the Concordance, and he has returned the manuscript to us. We stick to our original statement; Ted Pauls of T-K Graphics is NOT A RIPOFF ARTIST. Both Walter and I would stake a good dealon his honesty. However, we do feel that he has bitten off more than he can chew, and we are deeply and sincerely regretful that he found himself unable to fulfil his prepaid commitments for this, and for the Feminist Anthology published by Jessica Salmonson.
If you have ordered a copy of the Concordance from T-K Graphics, be advised that it will NOT be forthcoming. We wish we were in a position to honor these orders, but we can't; we suggest that you try to recover the payment from Ted —but be patient; he IS in financial troubles. If you exercise patience and forbearance, he will probably pay off all his debts sooner or later. If you all jump on him at once for refunds, he will probably be forced to declare bankruptcy and then NOBODY will get any money, or anything else but the knowledge that you have driven a small businessman out of his business.YES: the CONCORDANCE will be published. Really. We are now dealing with a small local press, who is intending to do it as a trade paperback. As soon as we know when and where to order it we will tell you; more likely we will buy enough copies so that you can all order it from us. You KNOW we fill orders. BUT PLEASE DON'T TRY TO ORDER IT NOW. It WILL come, but please give us some time. We had hoped it would be in print by now, but the world will go as it will, and not as you or I would have it--and that's just as true on Terra as it is on Darkover. -- MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY
A fan, Paula Crunk, writes a tongue-in-cheek description of her Darkover council, describes a hypothetical terrible con, and ends with negative remarks about Archon II. Bradley herself adds a rejoinder:
The gift of the multiple futures, found in the Elhalyn line in STORM-QUEEN, has come into the Ardais line as well by the time of SHATTERED CHAIN. It is not the only explanation for the behavior and the instability of the Ardais men, but it does explain everything that requires an explanation.
To begin with, as Rohana remarks, the Ardais men are given to excesses of behavior like drunkenness, homosexuality, gambling and the like—very standard vices for aristocrats, but taken in this case to excess. Note that they are all vices which, taken in moderation, are used for pleasure; in excess, for escape. The only possible exception to this is homosexuality, and that could easily be due to the same fear which kept Allart Elhalyn away from his bride; if you have the gift of multiple futures, and if death in childbirth is always a possibility, how much less frightening to love one of your own sex; then such death cannot occur from your love.
Then the Ardais men hide from their own perceptions in the bottom of a bottle, or in wild and indiscriminate wenchiig; or gambling, as with Rondo in WORLD WRECKERS, or take a male lover...and they eventually go mad as these escapes fail them.
Why only the men? For one thing, they alone have the choice. A woman on Darkover has almost no control over her life, unless she is a Free Amazon, or a very rare Eleanor of Aquitaine/Rohana Ardais type, and by then she is usually not young. She has had time to come to terms with her gift slowly, for her futures are few.Indeed, who claimed it was only the men? A Darkovan noblewoman could go slowly mad, and who would ever know the difference? Hot spectacular excesses, just a slow, quiet degeneration within her four walls— how many times has Castle Ardais housed a vaguely strange woman, tended day and night by an old nurse or a young daughter?
A fan offered up an outline of a Darkover story, and Bradley gave him encouragement:
I'm not sure if I'm going about it the right way, so pardon me if I offend. I would like to register my informal "Council"—so far, all we do is sit around, talk Darkover, make up silly pastiches— we'd like to put out a Newsletter but we can't even type and don't know ANYONE other than ourselves who's interested in s-f. We have contacted Council, but while its young Keeper is a charming and intelligent person, I think we did not make a good impression on her. I certainly wouldn't say or think this about my friends, but I myself am rather a drab dingy person, foaming off at the mouth about freaky fantasies to an alarming degree! And we are all older, non-activist fans (over 35) certainly not the hip whiz-kids who constitute the s-f ingroup in this area. So we have decided to keep our insanity "in the family"— if you mention us in the Newsletter you might say we'd love to correspond with older folks and old-timers and those who feel out of the current fannish mainstream. Anyone with more than 20 talents and avocations (I've none) would be bored with us. We would like to announce our upcoming neighborhood con—in the fall of 1984, or 2001, or whenever we get around to it. It will feature free burnt coffee (our very own recipe) saltine crackers, warm pop, Milky Way bars, and a selection of high priced junk foods from the vending machines at the local laundromat. I will do my famous Mad Chieri imitation, and Betty Forbes will conduct our choir of seven cats singing "Lew Alton, won't you please come home?" Virginia Stine will run the huckster room, selling all the handsewn burlap bags (with Star Wars logo, I guess) rejected at the boutique. Anyone who comes in a Star Trek or a Star Wars outfit will be misdirected to the local state hospital which will provide truly great lodgings, free recreation, crafts and cheap thrills for all local downers freaks. Anyone who comes in chatting about all the Big Names they know while talking right through us (our experience while trying to make friends at a local con) will be banished to the Mordor Cleanup Committee. Anyone who believes any of this nonsense obviously needs my referral to a shrink for which I charge only a few sekal.
I will stop here before I say more and really blow it. Incidentally, do NOT believe anyone who says how great Archon II was. (St Louis). Cherryh was marvelous; the films were great. The attitude of the so-called Host Committee was "a pox on all you neos —what you trying to do, crash our party?" I'm sure the organized in-group people had fun; good for them. I really don't see how anyone could have had fun staying at the"Musial Arms" ...erratic air conditioning, narrow crowded corridors, horrid overpriced food. Well, as Dylan once said, "One should not be where one does not belong. "Too bad; silly me, I thought I might have something in common with those folk—but they were too hip for me. [Bradley added: "AND THE MORAL OF THIS STORY IS: Conventions differ as much as the people attending them. It's a tragegy to go to a convention, investing all that time and energy and money, and then not have fun, but it does happen, and I too have spent lonely hours sitting around at conventions and wondering where all the fun was. Maybe conventions should make more programming available for neofans who don't know the ropes and the invisible social style of a convention. But being an old fan doesn't mean you'll have fun. Not even being Guest of Honor makes it sure that somebody will come up and enjoy talking to you. Don't abandon the whole of fandom because you didn't meet the right people at this convention. Try again. Fans range from hip teenyboppers to socialites and senior citizens, housewives and sailors on leave. Don't give up too soon."
Bradley comments on a fan's description of costuming at the last Darkover Grand Council Meeting and says:Inspired by a fairly recent reading of the life (lives?) and works of Shelley, Keats and Byron, I've been toying with an idea of a loose society of itinerant poet-minstrels of Darkover. One plot I'm toying with is that of a young Comyn lord who is ostracized by the Council for neglecting his rather weighty Council responsibilities and decides to become "The Minstrel of Darkover." His wife joins with him and they eventually come up with a "classic" (rather freely adapted from "Ode to the West Wind.") Naturally, a money-eyed Terranan becomes involved, trying to take full advantage of a "good thing." This leads not only to some heavy conflict and personality clashes, but some research into the history of Darkover music and literature, and a rebirth of interest in literacy and the fine arts on Darkover. Here lies the plot resolution, with the Comyn lord having in the end to give up his minstrelling" and attend to his duties, but having the satisfaction of knowing that once again poetry and song are "alive and well" on Darkover. Any feedback on the above is welcome, and, if I can only squeeze out those extra minutes at my typewriter, I may just write this turkey. MZB, if any ideas hit you from this—you're welcome to them. [Bradley replies: "What a fine idea. I hope you do indeed write that story."
The editor tells a male fan who is tired of all the "Free Amazon ecstasy that:I wish all of you could have been at the Grand Council Meeting in Brooklyn, to see Darkover fandom coming alive before us. It was wonderful to meet so many of you; but I kept feeling like a Roman General at a Triumph, as if there should have been someone behind me in the chariot, whispering continually in my ear "Forget not that thou art mortal...."
A male fan complains about all the feminist talk in the newsletter:We get more letters on Free Amazons than on all other subjects put together...I read them first and I know. The Amazons seem to have tapped into something very important to women. Over half of all the Darkover costumes, MZB says, have been Amazon costumes.
A male fan comments:I am probably a voice crying in the wilderness, but I would prefer less discussion of feminism and more about fandom, Darkover, and other fantasy worlds. The women's liberation movement is creating a long-needed awareness of the difficulties of being female in our double standard society. But the limited space in DNL is not the proper forum for extended discussions of feminism. Obviously I'm not on the same wavelength as those who worry about pronouns and "spaces for Women." Most of the women I know would gladly trade some of their "women only" spaces for a little mixed company. Thank goodness the Friends of Darkover include plenty of "spaces" with both men and women!
A male fan comments:I don't think that there's anything wrong with the Com'hi Letzii/feminism dialogue that's been going on. Setting an editorial policy of "no politics" may be all very well in the interest of avoiding hurt feelings, but it is also an artificial compartmentalization which can run counter to modern SF's tendency to explore controversial areas. Consider MZB's Florida boycott, or Harlan Ellison's guest editorial in the May issue of Galaxy. Feeling uncomfortable with another's opinion is not necessarily a bad thing. It may inspire one to examine one's own attitudes. An emotional reaction, I think, usually comes before rational thought. Along that line, let me say that one of the earliest writers of SF that captivated me in my youth was Andre Norton. Later, about 1971 I was introduced to Ursula LeGuin. Both are marvelous writers, but I would live the stories mostly through their male characters. In MZB's SHATTERED CHAIN I was able for the first time to empathi-cally live through the female characters, temporarily forgetting my own identity, and that was refreshing!
A fan comments on professional writers and fanzines, about the possible theft of ideas from fans, and about Bradley herself:I dislike the Amazons on my basic male chauvinistic principles and hope not to see too much of them in the future although I realize they have to be accepted as one of the factors that makes Darkover what it is.
A fan comments on writing fanfic and permissions:I was very interested in some of the material in DNL11 which dealt with some of the same questions I had asked of MZB about others writing in her universe. I was also interested in the implication that one might sometime get out of her universe and into one's own. Do sf people who write profesionally ever or often get started in the fanzines? Did MZB start this way herself? If this should turn out to be one of the major motivations behind the whole FoD thing, perhaps someone might persuade MZB to include a page or so in one of the forthcoming DNLs on the matter—describing what it is like in the professional world of writing (either sf or other fiction) and what doors are open or ajar for people who might like to try their hands at getting something of their own published. One gets the impression that a literary agent is often indispensible, but is that really so? I'm not asking where the ideas come from. I think that's the writer's own problem and I'm not particularly concerned about being stolen from (by MZB or anyone else). In fact, I find from my correspondence that there is a real solid sense of ethical consideration resident in MZB and the members of Thendara Council. But the mechanics of getting published are outside my sphere of experience and in hers. Perhaps others would also be interested. [Bradley replies]: "Yes, I got started in the fanzines; so did Bob Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, Donald Wollheim, F.M. Busby, Jaanita Coulson, Terry Carr, Ted White—the list goes on and on."
The editor comments:
Regarding fans writing fiction under the sanction of an author in that author's universe, I would like to make a few points. First, if an author gives permission for fans to write fiction related to her/his universe, then I should think that the author takes the fan's efforts as a compliment to her/his works...and the author's personal participation should be some indication of an openness to accept the fan's ideas and not exploit them as amateurs. I have found that participation in fan fiction writing since I was 11 (that makes 12 years now!) helped me to polish my own technique of writing and gave me the discipline to sit down and get my ideas down on paper...even if it concerned someone else's universe. Sure, I want to be a professional...many of us do. And I am learning how much work it takes, and that not everyone can do it. I just landed my first freelance job which involves articles on BBC's 15-year-old time travel series, DR. WHO, to be introduced to American audiences. I'm new to writing for a living and it'll be a while before I'm stabilized in it. However, I'll never give up my status as a 'fan' and I won't accept myself as being a professional until I feel confident when churning out my own ideas.Anyhow, I don't feel confined because I'm working on someone else's universe. I figure that if I have it in me to be a professional, then I'll have the drive to develop my own ideas and work at them until they are publishable. In the meantime, in between my own projects, I like to spin off a story in a favorite author's universe...because I want to. I don't consider it a waste of time at all, but I also try to work on my own universes. That is something that the individual fan has to decide for her/himself. Some people thrive quite happily in fandom, some in professionalism, others in both. A fan who wants to get into professional writing has to make the jump into the discipline of creating a viable, original universe that hopefully will appeal to others. It isn't easy, it takes a lot of time and' a tremendous amount of patience. . .arid not every fan can, or even wants, the responsibility.
Random has been lucky; there has never been a death, a heart attack, stroke or emergency birth at a convention, but as fandom yearly gets larger (the last Worldcon was, I think, about 2500 people) sooner or later it is BOUND to happen.
Issue 15/16 (December 1978)
Darkover Newsletter 15/16 was published in December 1978 and contains 28 pages. It was edited by Walter Breen, MZB and Janet Malin, Old Uncle Tom Cobley.
- Included in this issue is a two-page dense survey, the results were to have been "tabulated and analyzed in a future Friends of Darkover newsletter. In the next issue, it is announced that the fan who administered the survey had moved (not just once, but twice!) and provided a new address. This likely was a major obstacle to this survey ever being used for anything at all. (A fan in spring of 1983 asked: "Whatever happened to the Darkover survey??? I filled it out and returned it. I know I wasn't the only one. What were the results?" )
- Included is a flyer for the Darkover Concordance, now to be published by Pennyfarthing Press in April 1979
- There is an annoucement for Darkovercon #2 as well as a full-page flyer, see that page
- A fan says she is not a fan of the exclamation point in the title of "Stormqueen!"—Bradley responds: "Er-uh—blush— simper— it was mine. I do silly things sometimes. Now it's in print I can see how silly it looks; my only excuse is that it seemed a good idea at the time. MZB."
- Bradley lists the cons she will be at and has this comment: "In May I will be in Phoenix for the Leprecon (smaller and more fun than Iguanacon, but what wouldn't be?"
- There is a letter from Andre Norton: "I am so pleased that you have found my works interesting and enjoy reading them. The same is true of your Darkover books as far as I am concerned. I have the full set in the original pbs—have kept them for years since they first came out." She also talks about witchcraft, and said she finds "The Sword of Shannara" a "dreary disappointment."
- A fan writes of a Murphy's Law's-riddled visit MZB had at her house: It was called "The Copper Yo-Yo Award, or, How 3 People Drove 2 Cars 160 Miles to Move 1 Person 40 Miles"
- There are many fan letters (one describes his visit to OKon in his Darkover costume), see that page
- It was noted that: "This coming year will mark the fourth year of the existence of the Friends, and the third for our Newsletter. It has grown from a six-page leaflet costing and sent by MZB to a few of her closest friends, to a huge magazine selling for a dollar an issue (but we are, just barely, breaking even, praised be the Blessed Cassilda) and with an auxiliary magazine, STARSTONE, now in its third issue. We have indeed come a long way."
- The "Keeper's Council" by Jacqueline Lichtenberg has much Darkover Council information, but also heavily cross-markets her own Kraith and Sime~Gen fandom: professional works and fanworks.
- Bradley's brothers are mentioned: "January '79 will mark the release of a non-Darkover book, sequel to HUNTERS OF THE RED MOON, by MZB and Paul Zimmer. (Yes, he is her brother. She has two, BOTH of whom write science fiction; the other, who writes under the name Jon de Cles, appeared most recently in SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS #3.)"
Bradley says she now has her mail screened by Jan, her co-editor:I've finished the judging of some splendid stories which came in for the Starstone short story contest. I LOVE reading Darkover stories without having to write them first; something you all have been doing all these years and I am only now having the chance to do.
There is an direct attempt to organize the fandom, plus getting fans to do a lot of public relations work:... disappointed, you few sickies who sent hate letters? I never see them any more; after one of them sent my pulse up to a dangerous rate, I don't open letters addressed to the Friends any more, not even if they're addressed to me, unless I recognize the return address.
There is a letter by Juanita Coulson that addresses some points of Darkovans Invade Boskone!, which had been published eight months earlier:ATTENT!ON.
The Register of Darkover Publications is New Open! Once this project is underway, instead of asking bother?", you'll ask "Why wasn't it around before?" It will provide ready reference sources; it will prevent different publications from unknowingly using the same name.
1. NEWSLETTERS. Councils which issue newsletters should notify AMBRIA RIDENOW [address redacted], listing: a) Council name, b) Newsletter name and frequency, c) Name and address of person to contact for reaching the council and/or newsletter, ESPECIALLY if this has changed. Please TYPE OR PRINT CLEARLY. Forms for information and further instructions will follow.
2. OTHER DARKOVER PUBLICATIONS. Councils, clubs, and individuals which issue Darkover-oriented fanzines OTHER THAN newsletters should notify JOYCE CORRINE PETERS0N, [address redacted] listing a) name of council or other issuer/editor/ publisher, b) name of publication, c) frequency, price and type of material.3. EVERYBODY: THIS MEANS YOU. Individuals, councils, EVERYONE. If you see Darkover or MZB mentioned in print or on radio or TV, please notify JOYCE CORRINE PETERSON, address above. This will develop into the equivalent of a clipping file. Either clip the reference, xerox it and send the xerox copy, or at least let her know the name of the publication, its address, number or date, etc., so she can locate it on her own. This includes material from other newsletters, fanzines, regular magazines, newspapers, professional journals. IF MENTION IS MADE ON RADIO OR TV, PLEASE NOTE CITY & STATE, STATION/CHANNEL, AND APPROXIMATE TIME AIRED, AS WELL AS NAME OF PROGRAM, MODERATOR OR SPEAKER, ETC.
A fan who lives in Arkansas writes about the dreadful atmosphere there for science fiction fans:
I much appreciate and admire the steady stream of Darkover publications, even though I'm never going to be a commenter. It is delightful to see Marion finally getting the following she has always deserved. I'm one of the younger writers . . . young er figuratively, in terms of career length . . . she pushed and shoved and made me take the plunge. Far from any fear of stealing ideas, she encourages her "competition" (though we're not in competition; we're all in this together—the business of pouring out the stories that constantly fill our brains). It takes a while, though, for some would-be writers to realize a thing called independent invention (or imagination), and that another writer isn't necessarily "stealing" one's idea; in nearly all cases it's a situation where similar ideas occur to two people simultaneously, and frequently those two have never met. It doesn't mean one stole the other's brain child. If we move through the same environment and share a culture, thanks to our burgeoning population numbers we will inevitably duplicate inspirations now and then. It's not limited to Darkover or to the writings of fiction, either. Note Darwin.
Again, in fiction and creating ideas, it's a matter of who has the energy (and some times who's lucky enough to hit the right editor at just the right time) to communicate the idea first. When Marion finds out another writer has touched on an idea she herself is considering, she doesn't rush to steal it. She leans on the other writer and insists they get busy and do something with it, and steps back herself, generously, and takes up one of her other rich ideas.The amateur writer graduates to professional in a number of ways. But one of them is the realization that ideas are everywhere, and sometimes they're duplicated, and it doesn't mean your chances are ruined if someone else uses your brain child. It gives you an opportunity to develop it in your own unique style—if you have one. Part of growing up, I believe it might be called. Onward.
A fan has chides some other fans about sex, and the Bible:
Now about the SF book situation in Hot Springs. We have three real bookstores in town. Two are Bible Book stores and sell only religious books. The other store was selling some of the big-name skin magazines like Playboy, Penthouse, and so forth. Our local City Council decided to do something about this so they passed a silly porno law; very vague and doesn't really define what is and what is not pornographic. They raided the book store. . .they even had TV reports on the Little Rock stations. In Arkansas most of the people are very conservative, vote Democrat, anti-ERA, anti-anything-they- don't-understand, and mostly Baptist. So the manager of the bookstore took down the SF book display because she was afraid the the "powers that be" would be suspicious. . .some SF books are for mature readers and have mildly suggestive covers. This is enough to frighten many ignorant people. The store now has a nice selection, but nothing controversial. For example, they did have STORMQUEEN! but not Jo Clayton's books. Her latest, IRSUD, has a nude woman on the cover. . .
The people here are very religious and when they hear about something they think is unholy they attack it with a vengeance. One of our local radio stations started playing rock music. Citizen groups boycotted the station's sponsors. Off went the rock music.
I think the locals would be very suspicious of Darkover Fandom if for no other reason than the word DARK-over. Dark suggests evil, and the Devil. If you talk about telepathy, sorcery, magic, outer space— local people begin to smell brimstone! [Lisa W] found out about this kind of attitude the hard way! When we write to members or friends who are living with their parents, we do not write "Kirian Council" on the outside of the envelopes. After all. Council and Coven sound a little alike.
There's even a rumor that the MacDonalds restaurants are contributing to a Devil Worshipping organization. People are talking boycott. Some people here will believe anything! There are a few SF fans in Little Rock. Margaret Middleton publishes a fanzine called ARKFANDOM. They have local meetings in Little Rock. I try to attend once a month. They are planning a con this winter—Rock-Con. I'll be there, and send a report. There are a few Darkover fans among the group, but only Margaret Middleton receives the Thendara publications.Do you know if any of the people in Darkover Fandom are into video cassette recording? Making the payments on a Sony Betamax is one of the reasons I am broke most of the time. I have 32 STAR TREKS and all of the BATTLESTAR GALACTICAs so far, also a few flicks like FORBIDDEN PLANET and BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES. SF flicks are rare on Arkansas television. Perhaps others with similar interests might get in touch with me. . .?
Speaking of sex, a fan warns others regarding their "starstones," and it's probably not the psychic danger they envisioned:I wish people would quit hassling MZB about too much sex in her novels. Anyone out there ever read the BIBLE? If you want a sex lesson including all the perversions, that's the book you ought to read. (No criticism intended.) I think MZB handles her so-called "sex scenes" with a lot of tact and joy! Anyway, I don't get embarrassed when I read her love scenes, like I do with so many other authors, either because they're too explicit or too naive.
From one disappointed fan who would like to avoid conflict:The silk cord wears out now and then, but aside from that, it's been no problem for lo, these many years. A last precaution: when doing yoga or other positional activities (there! wasn't I delicate about it all?) caution must be exercised lest said stone whacks one soundly in the teeth.
A hopeful letter from a fan in Wisconsin:I don't know when I have ever been so disappointed as when I tore open the "Lan guage Review" with trembling hands, confident that its contents would settle once and for all the incredible variations in pronunciation of Darkovan terms, and realized that we will have to keep right on wincing when a speaker says "chy-rie," "cheer-rie" or "sheer-rie." Or la-ran. It would have been so easy to have given the various words pronunciation marks in this volume, always granting that Marion hears them in her head as she writes them. Can't tell you the number of arguments fen get into a cons on the subject, and anything that hinders communication between fans has to be A Bad Thing. Couldn't we have a few hints in future NLs?
A fan writes about SCA and SF:I'd be interested in exchanging letters with those women interested in the Free Amazon life style. As a woman who has so far chosen to live with no man in my life and wishing that in this world we had the support of a guild house.
A fan attempts a project, and is told Bradley would not give her approval for it:I would like to comment that SCA and SF fandom fill similar places in the hearts of their participants. The individuals I knew in SCA had used Lloyd Alexander for pablum, teethed on Sylvia Engdhal and Ursula LeGuin, and devoured Tolkien, Peake, Bradley, Lee and others too numerous to list. Like SF, the SCA was a form of escapism. Both allow people to play iffy history, to experiment with a different lifestyle, a different self. Best of all, one can do all of the above without getting burned—the mundane is always there to return to. How else could one go to war over the weekend? SCA and SF fandom also appear to be conducive to mental growth—I've not met a fan yet who was not above average intelligence.
A fan has a proposal, and gets shot down by a bit of snobbery, or some tongue-in-cheek teasing:Having now spent at least several dozen hours trying to come up with such a beast, I've just about concluded that it can't be done (at least without ignoring some of the statements about relative locations scattered through the books). For instance, in WD (and elsewhere) Carthon is located to the east of Armida (WD 64) with the Dry Towns beyond to the east (and north?) (SC 15). However, when Kennard and Larry escape from Cyrillon's forst in the Hellers, Kennard says that Armida is to the east of them, while the Dry Towns are to the north (SD 111). There are also problems with Nevarsin. In this case I suspect it is the result of confusing two place names. I think that Nevarsin Peak, located just west of Thendara (SA 58) gets mixed up with the community of Nevarsin which has grown up around St. Valentine of the Snows monastery, well northeast of Thendara in the Hellers. But enough! If I ever come up with a map I like I will send it in. [The editor adds: "Don't hold your breath waiting for MZB to approve it. She has said that an "approved" map of Darkover would be too constricting to her imagination for future novels."]
One of the topics in Bradley's Letter from MZB is awards, ones that mean something, ones that don't, her enduring bitterness about losing the Hugo Award -- (hopefully, the "Balrog" award made up for this...) :While I was attending a Doctor Who convention in London.... I talked to quite a few people about forming an international council with the Friends and was amazed at the response. I've gathered several dozen Englishmen, six Scots, two Welshmen and two Australians. 1 will be writing to Jacque line to let her know what sort of organization we decided on for overseas correspondence. I'd also like to figure out some way to get the DNL directly to them, even if I have to send it airmail myself. [The editor's only response: "Doctor Who?"]
Bradley has another encounter with fire (See Her Health, and Death for other incidents):
I got a letter from some enormous University in Overland Park, Kansas, whose announcement begins "First it was Pulitzer, then Hugo and Howard. Now it's the Balrog..." It seems that this is their equivalent of the Oscar and the Emmy for choosing the Very Greatest of Fantasy awards. It seems that they haven't yet heard of the Fritz Leiber Award, presented every year at the Fantasy Faire in Hollywood, or the award presented at the World Fantasy Convention. So they have decided to remedy the deficiency by presenting the Balrog, and are requesting nominations for the finest fantasy, to be given at the 1979 Fool-Con ...I kid you not; that's what it says; at the Fool-con, sponsored by the Sword and Shield Club at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas.
Probably this is not the time to make disparaging remarks about young fans in capes, or even to remark that with the proliferation of awards here and there, a kind of Parkinson's Law operates wherein bad awards drive down the credibility of the good ones. For instance, at the Octocon this year, I was presented by about 1600 local fans, under the auspices of the Spellbinders, with a handsome redwood plaque proclaiming me the winner of the Edmond Hamilton and Leigh Brackett award for the Sense of Wonder, for my novel FORBIDDEN TOWER.
Now this meant something to me, whereas losing the Hugo (by now, I dare say, everybody and his idiot sister has heard that I lost the Hugo by a paltry few votes, but losing to Fred Pohl is no disgrace) meant very little. The Hugo, after all, is that award which has been picked up year after year by widely advertised professionally printed fanzines, and by amateur artists, and by a number of highly ephemeral novels (who remembers MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE? Be honest, now...) including that disaster THE GODS THEMSELVES. Whereas the Ed Hamilton Memorial Award —well, I remembered Leigh giving it, the first year, to Katherine Kurtz; her tragic and untimely death caused the Spellbinders —sponsors of the Octocon—to change it to the Brackett and Hamilton award; and when Katherine announced that I had won it, I got up on the stage and tried to form a polite speech of acceptance, saying "This is very kind, it's wonderful..." and then I remembered Leigh last year talking about Ed and all I could do was to burst into tears and say "But I'd rather have Leigh here tonight."
And so now we have a Balrog award/ presented at something which calls itself the Fool-Con, and I give you my word of honor that I haven't the faintest idea whether this is an elaborate put-on, or just a joyous undergraduate prank, or a lot of very sincere young fans doing their thing and not knowing—or caring— about what has been done before. If it's for real, you might write to them and make nominations for their Balrog award, assuming that you have a favorite fantasy novel. After all, there's Katherine's SAINT CAMBER, and the recent Evangeline Walton book PRINCE OF ANNWYN, and all the AMBER stories, and in general the state of fantasy seems to be blooming after years and years of general neglect.So I seriously suggest that if you like fantasy you send a stamped self-addressed envelope to the Sword and Shield Club...oops, scratch that, send it to the Balrog Award, Student Activities Office, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas, 66210, and ask for one of their nomination forms; they list Best Novel, Best Short Fiction, Best Anthology, Best Poet, Best Artist and so forth and so on. And if there is no such place as Johnson County, Kansas, and the Fool-con has made a fool of all of us, we'll all look silly together. I have already sent in MY nomination.
Bradley, and fans, struggled with the ephemeral state of paperbacks, longevity, and legitimacy. In this issue of the newsletter, there was a flyer for "Gregg Press," which appeared to be a solution. These new issues also carried "new approved and authentic maps of Darkover," something Bradley had scored in the past, and continued to scorn for many years after these were published:A few weeks ago I was driving our antique VW station wagon to take my daughter Dorothy and my niece Fiona (her father is Paul Zimmer, co-author of The Survivors) for costume fittings, both girls being engaged to play character parts at the local Dickens Faire; Dorothy being Princess Mistletoe, and Fiona Princess Charlotte (daughter of Queen Victoria.) As we drove, a man passing me shouted "Lady, your car's on fire!" I turned off the motor, jumped out and stared incredulously at flames shooting from the rear; then shrieked to the little girls (13 and 10) to get out. A police car drove up behind me and informed me that he had already called the Fire Department which arrived, shortly after, sirens screaming. No damage to children, and my handbag and Dorothy's new Western saddle were removed undamaged, but I collapsed and was given oxygen by the firemen and taken to a hospital for cardiac monitoring; whereupon they decided that my heart was only crying wolf, and I took the other car and took the girls for their costume fitting. An hour late. (Or was it two or three hours? I don't know.) The car which caught fire was a total loss, and the insurance was minimal because of the age of the car. So now we are again a one-car family in a three teenager household.
All the time, we're getting requests and pleas and complaints. "Where can I get the Darkover books in hard cover? My paperbacks have been read so often that they're wearing out!" Or "Why aren't the Darkover books in the public library? I'd like to recommend them to my friends, but they think if a book isn't in hard covers, it can't be a serious novel, only trash." Well, we don't agree that paperbacks are trash, but there comes a time when we want to see books in hard covers, and now the company that brought Andre Norton's WITCH WORLD books into special hardcover editions has done the same for DARKOVER.HERITAGE OF HASTUR, THE SWORD OF ALDONES and DARKOVER LANDFALL are already out in Gregg Press editions, with new introductions by Susan Wood, Dick Luroff and Theodore Sturgeon. In February, 1979, THE SPELL SWORD, FORBIDDEN TOWER, THE SHATTERED CHAIN and WINDS OF DARKOVER will be issued in a new uniform edition, with cover-jackets and illustrations by Hannah Shapiro and a new approved and authentic map of Darkover by Diana Paxson. Each volume has a new introduction specially written for the Gregg Edition by Marion Zimmer Bradley; and they will be followed, in May, by THE WORLD WRECKERS, THE PLANET SAVERS, THE BLOODY SUN and STAR OF DANGER.
Issue 17/18 (Spring 1979)
Darkover Newsletter 17/18 was published in Spring 1979 and contains 28 pages. It was edited by Jan Malin.
- About the survey in the last issue? It was announced in this issue that the fan who sent it out has moved not once but twice, and this has snarled up the whole thing. It is hoped, however, that the results can be published in the next newsletter "this Fall." )This statement also illustrates that the next planned newsletter was in six months.
- Randall Garrett is seriously ill, too ill for cards or anything else. Because of this, the performance of Free Amazons of Ghor that was to have happened at Westercon has been canceled.
- There is a very detailed description by the first Darkovercon by the fan (Judy Kopman who says she is now Judy Gerjouy), see Darkovercon
- There is a script for the Midwinter Ceremony, complete with candle instruction, see image here
- There is an ad by Hourglass Productions for the purchase of cassette tapes of the Darkovercon panels and the play (Free Amazons of Ghor) performed there.
The editor lists many woes as to why various Darkover zines and publications are late:The last couple of vears have been getting busier and busier; almost every month brought a speaking engagement somewhere, not just attending S-F conventions, but giving workshous and seminars, and catching up on overdue books; it's so good to be able to sell everything I write that I have unwisely taken on a bit more than I can handle.
During all this, shortly before the Darkovercon, Walter slipped on the rain-slick mud in our driveway, when driving me home from the airport after one of these tours, and fell, tearing a muscle and several ligaments in his kneecap, and was on crutches for some time --some of you saw him that way at the Darkovercon. (for newcomers, Walter Breen is in private life, Mr. Marion Zimmer Bradley, just as Vicki Ann Heydron is in private life Mrs Randall Garrett...but Randall reassured us all that he would continue to write under his maiden name.)
[snipped]To add to my problems, I was trying to finish the terribly-overdue TWO TO CONQUER, spending a month at Lisa Waters' for peace and quiet; but Lisa didn't like TWO TO CONQUER, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, whose taste I usually trust, didn't like it, and when WALTER didn't like it, I reluctantly concluded that it was very bad indeed, so I chucked 168 pages into the wastebasket and started all over again from scratch. In this new rewrite, at least the characters are real people...though some of them are very dislikable people; Pat Matthews referred to Bard di Asturien as probably the most hateful hero outside the GOR novels. I suspect that's why the book has been going so slowly; I don't like my hero enough to enjoy spending time with him! In the time it has taken me to hassle this one through, I could have written three nicer books... and dammit, I wish I had!
Bradley reports on a number of illnesses and accidents:WELL, it's happened. We have been Quite Snooty about fanzines who couldn't
get issues out on time; now we have had incredible trouble with a printer we seems to be having trouble with the paper strike, a partner  who didn't work out, and general overloading, and as a result reprints on sold-out items publish, and non-delivery on items we have tried to publish, havefouled for fear you'll start thinking of us as being no better than T-K Graphics! Please accept our assurances, if you ordered ANYTHING on our list, you will get it eventually! But we couldn't even reprint the LANGUAGE REVIEW for a long time, the Cook Book is stalled because our printer has been too overloaded to take it, STARSTONE III was delivered in garbled form, and MZB has been too busy on the Darkover Anthology to do much of anything else (not to mention finishing up TWO TO CONQUER, which got stalled, for one reason or another.
A fan, Barbara Wenk, takes another to task for a letter in the previous issue where she asserted that Star Trek cons were mainly run by men "with feminine help:In March, crossing the street, I was struck, knocked down in the street, by a pickup truck. A trip to hospital showed only bumps and bruises; but the psychic shock was considerable. On April 18th, I was driving my niece Fiona to ballet, and a car in front of me stopped with unreasonable suddenness; we plowed into them, Fiona's head struck the windshield (she was not injured, thank God...but now she knows why I nag her about seat-belts. If I'd been driving faster she'd have been killed) but we thought for a while that our car was totalled, while the other car received only a minimal dent in the bumper. Then there were THREE auto accidents in the family that month; in March, my mother's sister, and my Godmother, Marion Chapman, had been killed in an auto accident in Florida. It's been a bad year in human terms; and I came back from England the first time, in 1978 to find Leigh Brackett had died during my absence. I returned from Enaland this time to discover that our dear friend, almost a family member, Randall Garrett was in the hospital with virus encephalitis. He is recovering, but it will be a long and painful time before he fully recovers his physical strength and coherence. We can use all the prayers and good vibrations we can get.
Bradley describes a book she has signed a contract for that appears to be "The Mists of Avalon" though she refers to it with a different title:I just read Jacqueline Lichtenberg's letter in the May Relays. It is probably a mistake to write a LoC while my blood is boiling with anger, but I'm going to anyway. So, in Star Trek fandom, the men "run cons (WITH FEMININE HELP)"—emphasis mine—do they? This comes as news to someone who was a member of the Star Trek Febcon Committee (1972-1976). The FIRST ST con was run by Sherna Burley. The second was originated by Devra Langsam and Elyse Pines Rosenstein. Of the 14 committee members, only 6 were male. Women not only outnumbered them, we did exactly the same work, not to mention usually generating the idea for a con in the first place. I'm sure the people in Michigan who run T'kon and SeKwestercon would like to hear this, too.
I think it is the condescension in the phrase "with feminine help" that truly irritates me. As far as I can see, most trek cons, aside from the ones currently being run by Townsley, were run primarily by women. With a little masculine help. "Feminine help" sounds as if all the women did was run around making coffee and handing out tea cakes. Having spent several years running ST cons, including such activities as moving packing crates while in an evening gown because women were the only people available at that moment, the implication in that statement is so aggravating that it is hard for me to believe that I've become so incensed by it.For pity's sake, JL knows Joan Winston. I suppose Joan's invaluable work for five long, hard years as our press and guest star liaison was "feminine help." Of course, since it was some women's ideas that got ST cons going in the first place, a biased observer might say that proved that women were all bananas. But that's another matter entirely. By the way, some of the most effective costumes I've seen at our cons have been designed and created by men. P.S. I'm certain that some person is going to decide that this proves I hate JL. Not true. I am, in an undeniably annoyed fashion, trying to correct the view she has inadvertently given of ST cons.
There is a detailed con report for Darkovercon West, see that page for more:So much for the bad news; here is the good news. Meanwhile I had decided to write a novel on an Arthurian theme, about the women of King Arthur; Morgan Le fay, the Lady of the Lake, Igraine, Guinevere; not, as they're usually handled, as romantic objects for the knights to fall in love with, adore, and generally act idiotic about, but as human beings, involved in the great events of their time. Lester Del Rey, of Del Rey Books (Ballantine) signed a contract, and with the first part of the advance I went for a month to England, spending time visiting Tintagel, Cadbury Castle (the archaeological site now generally believed to be Camelot), Glastonbury, the original Avalon, and so forth. I conceptualize the book as fantasy, not as a rationalized historical along the lines of THE CRYSTAL CAVE or Sutcliffe's SWORD AT SUNSET; but I want it to read rationally and in tune with known history of the Darkest Ages in Britain. [...] And somewhere, with all of [these personal and family problems], I still have to find the time to write MISTRESS OF MAGIC... the Arthurian novel I mentioned at the top of this page.
Jacqueline Lichtenberg talks about an interview:MZB was wearing a costume, a beautiful dress of turquoise silk with a copper belt and trim. She is small, plump, gives the impression of being blonde even though her hair is really quite dark, and seems very motherly toward her whole fan group... She was quite pleasant when introduced, confessed she might not recognize me again as she is both short-sighted and absent-minded. She seemed extremely harried and pressured; people kept rushing up to her and demanding that she make a decision about something.
A fan wonders where other fans get all the time, and her comments are a scold as well as an illustration of priorities and focus:Probably at the Darkover Grand Council-East this July, I will be recording one of the Hourglass tapes "An Hour With..." Most of you probably have the MZB tape by them (see ordering information elsewhere in this issue). MZB is interviewed by Katherine Kurtz on that tape, and other tape interviews C.L. Moore. I have asked, after much thought, for Katherine Kurtz to interview me for the tape because MZB already knows me better than I know myself and so I don't feel any impulse to explain anything to her, whereas I have just met Katherine and am eager to tell her everything!
A fan is horrified by the behavior of some fans:
As I was reading the copy of the DARKOVER NEWSLETTER I received last week and hadn't had a chance to look at, as usual I wanted to respond to a number of the letters and comments. When I read STARSTONE I wanted even more to do some creative work -- actually plotted out a story about Dyan Ardais while driving, as I have others about Darkover. But I know there is no way I'll have time to take part in any of the activities, not even to design the set of pennants for the seven Comyn families, the preliminary version of which won me a copy of ALTERNATE WORLDS at the NCTE pre-convention sf workshop in 1977. As well as teaching full-time at the University here, I spend from fifteen to twenty-five hours every week on feminist and gay rights work. I'm not the only one—when Friday niqht I phoned two other NOW members on business, each of them (like me) was on the way to bed, exhausted by the week of carrying the load for the chapter, since no more than half a dozen of our fifty members are really active and dependable. The same thing is true of the gay groups I belong to. And of course, even the members of NOW or TGTF are a small minority of the people whose rights are being fought for by us few activists.
I love to get a new NEWSLETTER or STARSTONE or even better a new novel, and escape to Darkover for a while. But please -- won't some of you people out there who have time to travel to conventions and make costumes and fix recipes and write stories and letters help share the work in the world we are really stuck with? This year and next, with ERA and the proposed summer gay rights march, we have a chance to really catch the world up politically with the new developments in labor force, need for population, and other sociological changes of the last century. The Comyn families impress me largely because of their sense of responsibility -- won't some of you behave like Hasturs and contribute some of your time so that those like me can take a little time off and enjoy fandom occasionally? Sincerely, Edra.P.S. I'm still curious about the Domain colors: I have Hastur -- blue and silver; Ridenow -- green and gold; hints that orange may be a pat of Alton's; the Guard -- black and green; Airline -- red and yellow. I keep having an impression of Ardais as dark green, but may have imagined that -- can't verity it.
One thing appalls me, and you and you can put it down to academic provincialism or whatever - I cannot believe that anyone would send you hate mail. That's not a fan, that's a sickie. I've got my doubts on its sapience. One of the good things about FOD is that one can discuss the most highly charged issues without people getting savage. If people don't want to read about sex, they have two very legitimate options: don't finish the book, or skip that part of it. If they don't want their own value systems contradicted, however, they ought perhaps to consider a form of reading other than SF which affirms multiplicity and diversity. (As the Great Egg says...) It distresses me a good deal.
Issue 19/20 (October 1979)
Darkover Newsletter 19/20 was published in October 1979 and contains 28 pages. It is unclear who was the editor.
- a one-page, strict warning to subscribers to keep in touch or they'll not get the newsletter any more
- there is a flyer for the Third Annual Darkover Grand Council Meeting
- A fan said: "I started THE SWORD OF ALDONES, but didn't like it." And Bradley answers: "I don't like SWORD OF ALDONES either!"
- Bradley said she felt the unwelcome weight of responsibility: "I strongly believe that the purpose of sf is to ask questions (or to make us ask questions of ourselves), not to find answers. When people thinkI am trying to solve problems by saying "this is how we do it on Darkover," I get frantic."
- Bradley has an idea for Hourglass Productions. When a fan asked: "Maybe Friends or someone, could do a tape of the language as per the DARKOVAN LANGUAGE REVIEW and sell it? Anyone interested? I bet there would be a few others out there, almost as isolated as I am, who would jump at the idea!" Bradley replies: "Sometime next year Hourglass tapes will do a Darkovan pronounciation tape.")
Bradley writes about selecting stories for the DAW Books anthology, "Keeper's Price," and there were complications—one story Bradley read and would have chose was too much like one she had planned (!), and one chosen story had to be eliminated because Bradley lost the fan's address:THE BIG NEWS this time is that we have set the date for the Midwinter Festival in 1980, We're hosting it again in the Finnish Brotherhood Hall in Berkeley, but we will have more space this year—not only the auditorium and downstairs kitchen/cafeteria area, but the Ski Room for an art show, and the Lodge Room for special workshops.
It is announced that the Darkover Concordance has finally been brought to public publication:The final choice was agonizing. Some stories from the contest, and some of those submitted to me, were, I admit, better than the ones I bought for the anthology. I wanted, for instance, to use Mary Frey's prize story from the contest, which was one of the best-written short stories I have read this year; I finally had to decide not to do so, on the grounds that it overlapped a story I hope someday to write, the original story of Cassilda and Camilla, and anything going into the KEEPER'S PRICE anthology will be "Official" Darkover, included in future editions of the Concordance, etc. There were three stories by Mary Frances Zarabreno, all very well written, with characters I could feel. Patty Floss's excellent THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR was as well-written as anything I have ever written myself, but, alas, was too long for the limited wordage I was allowed to turn over to Don. And the real heart-breaker was a story called NO ONE AT ALL, about the youth of Kadarin, which I could not buy for the anthology because the author, Dannell Lites, had neglected to put her name and address on the manuscript. She (he?) had included a stamped self-addressed envelope which I used to notify her that the manuscript had been recieved and was under consideration, but when the time came to send out the contracts for the story, alas and alack, the name and return address were nowhere on the manuscript and, as always happens in editorial offices, the outer envelope had been discarded. (And the moral of this story is, PUT YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS ON THE FIRST PAGEl) In this case I had the name, but not the address, and could not find it anywhere in the files. We printed it as "Missing" in #17-18, but nobody located her, so, alas, I could not take the story for the anthology; legal repercussions for printing a story without a signed release could have been formidable. I also was less free to choose than I might have been, because I had to balance tragedy and comedy. Ages if Chaos against "modern" times, long stories against very short ones. So if YOUR story was not included, that doesn't mean I didn't like it or that it wasn't a good story; it only means that it wouldn't have fit into the final lineup.....MZB
Jacqueline Lichtenberg, who in the last issue, suggested that Star Trek cons were run by men apologizes for her remarks, and gets a plug in for her professional book series:THE DARKOVER CONCORDANCE, after many delays (Pennyfarthing had to contend with a paper-supply strike on the West Coast, a broken press, and finally a change of management in the company) is now actually IN PRESS! We saw pages of it exhibited at the Fantasy Faire, with the exquisite artwork of Melissa Michaels (MZB liked it so much that she bought STORMQUEEN for herself and it hangs on the walls of the Friends of Darkover office in Berkeley, alongside the picture of Sharra in chains) and Rebecca Kurland, editor, says that the special limited edition,(hardcover, signed by MZB and Walter Breen, 100 numbered copies only) is all but sold out. Paperback and regular library edition are still available. It looks incredible!
The Letter from MZB is one that addresses Darkover fandom, this newsletter as a publicity organization, why Bradley keeps the newsletter going, her role as a spiritual leader/teacher, and why she feels it is all worth it:To Barbara Wenk and anyone else who reacted similarly to my flippant, offhand remark about men running ST cons with feminine help. Just goes to show tone doesn't translate onto paper very well. Of course I know and respect the women who have run cons - some of them virtually single handed. "Feminine help" has never implied scrubwoman duties to me. I'm feminine and when I help things get done. Being Aries I do tend to relate everything to my own way of being and seeing - and thus the phrase didn't mean the same thing to you as it did to me. With a handicap like that, one wonders why I would try to be a writer at all. I have the same problem getting my points across in fiction. But then I do have this strange overall attitude that if I can already do it, it isn't worth bothering to do it at all. Let me try once more. Men do tend to get involved in the ST con scene, running whole cons, events, or just giving certain program items. But women do the same, so it isn't a point of difference but rather one where the interests tend to meet -- Some people might say that I get into these phrasing problems because I don't really see the world as divided into masculine and feminine but rather into Sime and Gen, a division which cuts across gender boundaries.
A fan addresses comments made in Darkovans Invade Boskone!, a letter written to Bradley in March 1978 about Bradley taking advantage of fans, and the professional dangers of being too close to one's fandom. An excerpt, see "Darkover Invades Boskone!" for more:
The LETTER FROM MZB this time is, in a sense, a real letter; I have written some version of it at least a hundred times. And it's intended to answer another comment. I was asked, recently, if I didn't think I ought to wind up the Friends of Darkover and at least suspend the Newsletter; it doesn't pay for itself, it takes up time when I ought to be writing, and some people think it's just a big ego trip anyway; recently, in the official organ of NFFF, Tightbeam, someone said something like this:
- "I think it's sick— people dressing up in Darkovan costumes, taking Darkovan names, and some going so far as to write her Darkovan autobiography and call MZB "Mother"...that's going too far." (a quasi-quote from two or three comments).
This sort of thing is hard to answer. In one sense, the Friends are a publicity organization, keeping my readers informed about my books and my whereabouts if they want to read the one and get in touch with the other. But I do think it's more than that. Because, ever since the early Darkover books were published, I have recieved some version of the following letter, at least four or five times a year and sometimes as often as once or twice a month. I am not quoting anyone's individual letter; I wouldn't do that. But in general it goes like this:
- "Dear Mrs. Bradley: (or, depending on how long the person has been in fandom. Dear Marion): Ever since I can remember I have been having psychic experiences. (Here the person usually goes on to detail some of these experiences; mental contact, a warning of catastrophe which was avoided, clairvoyant knowledge not available from other sources.) I would like to tell my family (priest, teacher, mother) about these things (or, I have told them these things) but they think I am crazy, when I read your books you spoke so clearly of these same things, and acted as if they were real, that I began to think perhaps that they were real. Please can you help me? How can I find out about these things? If they are real, how can I use them for good and not have people thinking I am crazy? Please help me..."
And I usually answer something like this.
- Dear _____: Thank you for writing me and sharing your experiences with me so frankly. Believe me, no, you are not crazy. These things are very real. I have experienced some of them myself, and have proved them to my own satisfaction. I am not particularly concerned with proving them to anyone else, certainly not to any "psychic researcher" or "investigator" who, not having had these experiences himself, has no reason to believe. But I can understand how uncomfortable it is to have evidence of what you have seen with your own eyes, and having other people believe that such an experience is proof at least of a fuzzy mind, and perhaps of derangement. You are not the first person, nor the last, to have these experiences, and perhaps those who have had them before you can help you to accept them with a quiet mind, and feel less alone and alienated in a society that does not understand them.
One of my pet theories is that people who are dissatisfied with the material realities and the mechanistic approach to life, search in fantasy fiction ,or in a special kind of science fiction, for what is missing in their lives. And one reason I keep the "doors to Darkover" open, is that I want my books to serve as a kind of beacon, saying ; Yes, there is more to life than TV spectaculars, political crap, football games and a six-pack of beer in the refrigerator; there are people who see an orderly approach to the reality behind material appearances, a reality which I prefer to call spiritual; although others have other names for it.
[snipped]I will do whatever I can to help you in this search, because I was helped and guided when I needed it, and I have an obligation to help others in the same way. I am enclosing a list of books which have helped me; some of them may be available in your public library. Don't be discouraged by people who don't understand. My own belief is that, someday, in some life, they will understand, or they will discover their own need for such a search, and it's not for us to judge them; but don't let them discourage you or make you doubt your own realities. No one can be the keeper of any other person's conscience. My love and blessings to you, and may whatever God is real to you, by whatever Name, guide you and help you in your search. Marion Zimmer Bradley. And this is why I don't think I'll disband the Friends and suspend the Newsletter just yet.
A fan writes a letter with many detailed and sensible suggestions for creating a complete and concise Bradley and Darkover bibliography and fandom resource. Bradley reacts with:
(In answer to) Linda's comments in DNL 11: While it is not unheard of for an idea to be "borrowed," if a writer were to do so with any regularity, it would become known and his/her source would probably dry up. As an amateur (very!) writer, I can heartily concur with Marion's sentiments that the usual problem isn't where to get an idea but how to get all of them down before you forget important details.But most importantly, I am rather amused at Linda's fears about ideas being stolen. After all, who is stealing from whom? The fan writer is given the benefit of an already constructed universe and all he must do is fit his idea in. If they are so worried about their ideas, they should create their own universe and write their story to fit it. Or even better, write the story for their own benefit and never show it to anyone.
A fan writes:Horrors! Better you than me—better anybody than me. However, chacun a son gout; if anybody wants to take on this sort of thing, I will survey him or her with wonder, admiration, bewilderment, and I will refuse entirely to get involved. Be warned, this kind of thing is a thankless job. Fans keep doing them year after year, God knows why. Unfortunately, I am not in his confidence, which says something about my deficiencies as a bibliographer (and you should hear what Lisa says about the way I organize my library! [Lisa Waters added: "I wasn't aware that you did organize it, Lisa"]
I've just gotten hold of Jumeaux, and may I offer, several months behind time, another word on consistency? From MZB's article, I wonder if perhaps we are not talking about and reading about one Darkover at all, but fourteen Darkovers. One for each book—an alternate Darkover universe reflecting where MZB is at that particular time in her life, the Darkover at that time. It is a little unfair to ask her to create a consistent world, after all. Look at the one we live in. God's been writing us for a long time, and we aren't consistent yet!
- It did in 1997, see Paul Edwin Zimmer
- from Darkover Newsletter #27
- Spelled that way.
- from a flyer in Darkover Newsletter #15/16
- A fan in spring of 1983 asked: "Whatever happened to the Darkover survey??? I filled it out and returned it. I know I wasn't the only one. What were the results?" -- from Darkover Newsletter #27
- A mysterious one, not named.