Darkover Newsletter/Issues 31-40

From Fanlore
Jump to: navigation, search

THE SECOND SERIES began after a three year hiatus.

In mid-1983, the newsletter had an estimated 800-1000 subscribers when it suspended publication, citing lack of funds. The reason for suspension may have been for lack of funds, but it was much more likely because Bradley's career had really taken off on the bigger stage with the publication and attention to the publication of The Mists of Avalon in January 1983.

In the Spring 1983 newsletter, Bradley herself also mentions her poor health and lack of energy: "I do not think I would have the strength to close this chapter in my life, whatever the toll it is taking on my failing health, the increasing age of which the only symptom is a chronic lowering of energy." [1]

In the 1985 book chapter, Fandom: Its Value to the Professional, Bradley wrote: "Just recently I have discovered that the level of fan publishing I have been doing in Darkover fandom has been draining energy I need for my professional work and commitments, and so I have, dissolved my personal involvement with Darkover fanzine publishing."

In 1986, MZB started the newsletter again, ignoring those two "lost" issues entirely when she wrote: "We are starting this second series with number 31 simply for the sake of convenience; we know we put out 28 newsletters, but this makes a nice round number." It sounds quite likely that these two lost issues never existed.

Issue 31 (January 1986)

front page of issue #31

Darkover Newsletter 31 Though 1985 is written on the front page, this issue was published in January 1986 and contains 12 pages.

  • From the editorial: "At last, the second series of the Darkover Newsletter, Issue 31, resurrected as part of MZB Enterprises, soon to be MZB Enterprises, Inc." The newsletter has a copyright statement to "MZB Enterprises."
  • Bradley has got much less patient and is much more grumpier upon her return; one of her responses to a fan in this issue causes Mercedes Lackey to defend Bradley threaten fans (hopefully tongue-in-cheek) who "hurt" Bradley with an axe.
  • The first line of Letter from MZB: "It's a pleasure to welcome you back to the Newsletter — and before anyone asks, we are starting this second series with Number 31 simply for the sake of convenience; we know we put out 28 Newsletters, but this makes a nice round number." She adds later: "We'll try to come out about quarterly."
  • There is a logic puzzle.
  • There is a chronology of the Darkover books.
  • A fan asks as part of a longer question: "What is the status of the Comli Lehtzi at this time?" Bradley replies, as part of a longer answer: "I'll probably write a book about it some day. Until then, people writing stories may make up whatever sounds good to them."
The editor writes:
You can write to MZB, care of Friends of Darkover, P.O. Box 72, Berkeley, California, 94701. She will get the letter, but, as you can see from her list of current projects, she is very busy writing books -- which is what it's all about, isn't it?
Bradley writes about her current books, both published and planned, and talks very briefly about them. Regarding "Red Sun of Darkover" :
I do not yet have a contract for this, so I don't know when I'l be starting work on it. If you are interested, send a SASE (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope) for my guidelines. Do NOT submit anything to me without sending for guidelines first; I'm always swamped with manuscripts when I do an anthology and I don't have time to waste on people who won't be bothered to follow simple directions. I'll also keep on editing the Sword & Sorceress anthologies and will begin reading for them some time in February 1986. Send a SASE for my guidelines before you submit, unless you have sold to S&S previously.
Two fans write in regarding their fan-created role-playing games. Bradley is polite and somewhat helpful to one of them, and very much not to the other. Bradley had this response to the second fan's very benign persona he sent to the newsletter:  :
I do not like or approve of fantasy role-playing games, but if people must play them, they should make up their own characters and not muddle with mine.

I do honestly believe thoughts have a very real effect on the world we live in, and a character of mine was quite spoilt for me—slimed, if you wish—by having her thought-form muddled over by strangers. (I once broke up with a fan friend who said he had sexual fantasies with my photograph, when I was younger and prettier. I think he had Intended a compliment, but I was disgusted to the point of nausea.)

I finally managed to persuade myself that the idiots who used my character in the fantasy role-playing game were only playing with their idea of the character, not mine, and wrote a couple of other stories about her; but I still think if people don't have enough imagination to invent their own characters, they should play tiddlywinks or chess instead of borrowing someone else's work. I don't mind others writing about my characters -- people who can write, and people who read, are my kind of people and can have anything I have. About people who play fantasy role-playing games, I'm not so sure. Why aren't they home reading a good book? Or writing one?
A fan tells Bradley: We have sort of an unofficial Darkover discussion committee here in Port Orchard that meets at about six o'clock every Friday evening to bring up points of discussion, draw up maps of various Darkover places (oh, that reminds me, we have a sort of Darkover atlas here that is fairly complex and we would like to know if there is one on the market to compare ours with), and other Darkover concerns." Bradley puts the kibosh on that:
I've always refused to accept any maps, first because I dislike filling in 'blank spaces' -- perhaps some day I'll need to put up a city or a forest or a tower or even a lake there. I much dislike fake maps anyhow; maps of non-existent places are just an attempt to map out and colonize a non-existent place in the brain. Leave something to the imagination -- it's what the whole game is about.
A fan writes: "I am a member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism] , and of a fantasy Live role play organization called International Fantasy Gaming Society or I.F.G.S. for short (yes, Larry Niven knows and has given his blessings). Since I.F.G.S. deals with fantasy games, a number of Darkover fans in the organization have decided to develop a group of characters using the Darkover theme. Any help that the council can provide wold be greatly appreciated. We are interesting in costuming, language, mannerisms, religion, etc." The editor responds:
We're sorry, but you can not use Darkover in your fantasy game. Both computer and non-computer game rights are already under contract. Probably nobody will pay much attention to what you do in the privacy of your own home, but if you attempt to sell, distribute, or publicly play a Darkover role-playing game, you will be in violation of the copyright laws -- and since Marion personally very much dislikes role-playing games, she is not likely to be sympathetic to your plight.... Any questions on this matter should be addressed to her agent, Russell Galen, Scott Meredith Literary Agency.

Issue 32 (March 1986)

front page of issue #32

Darkover Newsletter 32 was published in March 1986 and contains 22 pages.

  • Bradley is quite grumpy in this issue. At least one her responses to a fan in the previous issue causes Mercedes Lackey to defend Bradley from threatening fans who "hurt" Bradley with an axe (hopefully tongue-in-cheek).
  • This issue contains a logic puzzle.
  • Several fans comment on Bradley's recent lack of long novels and her focus on editing anthologies. Bradley responds: "I enjoy doing the anthologies, and it's much more fun than slogging away at a novel for a year or so."
  • A fan asks: "I ask that I might get information on the Thendara Council from the Friends of Darkover. Some day (hopefully soon) I would enjoy becoming part of this organization. . . ." and Bradley responds: There is no "organization"of the Thendara Council. If you live in the area, sooner or later you get invited to parties or meetings here."
  • A fan asks a question about Darkovan name usage, and Bradley responds: "As for protocol in naming, I don't know, because I am not always consistent in usage; I tend to line up a name the way it sounds best to me. Mea culpa, mea maximissa culpa (maxissima, I mean). Or sue me."
  • The staff line-up for the newly-formed MZB Enterprises: "For those of you who dislike writing to a faceless organization, our staff is as follows: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Elisabeth Waters (office manager and bookkeeper), Ann Sharp (newsletter editor), Patrick Breen (captive artist and gofer), and Kat Krischild (data base administrator)." There is no mention of Walter Breen.
The editor writes:
The Friends of Darkover is a non-profit, non-card-carrying, occasionally bumper-stickered non-organization. All opinions expressed in any of its publications are those of the wrriter, and not those of MZB or anyone else unless clearly identified as such. We calculate the membership, whenever we do, by using a complicated mathematical formula dividing the number of opinions expressed in MZB's mail by a percentage of the last postage hike . . . .
Regarding back issues, the Friends of Darkover says they have escaped into the wild:
With the exception of DNL 9/10 (the Free Amazon issue), back issues of the Darkover Newsletter are not currently available. During the time we were not publishing the Newsletter, we gave the original paste-ups to [Theresa S], who was handling requests for back issues. Presumably she still has them, but she has moved recently, and we don't have her current address. If anyone knows where she is now, please ask her to get in touch with us.

Bradley writes that fans ask her questions about books, such as "When will you write a novel from the point of view of the catmen?" or Why don't you write a story of Dorilys when she wakes?" This is part of her response, one which touches on authorial intent, having an editor do things you don't like to your words, her impatience with fans' imagination, and her intense dislike of cats:

And so forth and so on. These people -- and I said they were friendly and well-meaning -- are confused, upset, and sometimes offended when I say 'probably never.' They feel that since they are interested in the idea propounded, they deserve an answer -- preferably in a full length book. Obviously, these are not people who have any intuitive insight or awareness about the creative writing process. I invented Darkover, right? Therefore, I know everything about it, and if they can invent a question, all I have to do is look into my handy crystal ball or matrix, and find out the answer, right? Wrong, obviously.

The specific questions above (the most common ones) have NO answers. To try and explain a little; stories about the chieri and catmen would not be Darkover stories at all, they would simply be stories about interaction between Earthmen and an alien race, or fantasies in strange societies. My story "The Mind People" is the closest I could come to writing about the chieri; the original draft of that story made it clear that there were "wind people," but Damon Knight, who revised the story almost unrecognisably before it was in print, preferred to make it a story about incest fantasies; which says something about his mental processes. His, not mine.

[snipped]

Linda Frankel wrote a story told from the point of view of the catmen, and I chose it for inclusion in the forthcoming volune to be called EVERYTHING BUT FREEDOM, or perhaps OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR. It was a good story, but basically I could never have written it, because the catmen don't interest me and (heresy) I don't really like cats; I find them (as do animal experts who have studied them intensively) intensely stupid. Now don't all write in and tell me how brilliant your Snowball or Blackberry is; this is like the dolphin "experts" who insist they have human-like sapience. People who actually work with them don't find them so. Pleasing animals, even amiable, and of course smarter than goldfish or trained fleas, but sapient, no. I am thoroughly interested in <ur> real</U> examples of animal perception.

[snipped]

As for the "real story" of Hastur and Cassilda; I wrote the "Ballad of Hastur and Cassilda," and this is all the Comyn know about those legendary characters. I personally have an inkling of what may have started the legends, (not chieri) but I think it would take all the fun and all the mystery out of it. Who would want a seat at the Resurrection? Not I, to be sure; speculation is much more fun.

No doubt I'd feel differently if I were the Mother of Jesus; but these people are only characters in — not even in a book; in the background of a book. What does it matter where they came from or who they are? My answer is that it doesn't; if your attitude is different, make up something that satisfies you.

As for the various people who keep insisting on a story about a Keeper who becomes a Free Amazon, well, that simply proves to me that they don't understand either Keepers or Free Amazons. It takes more than a free and rebellious spirit to be a Free Amazon, and it takes more than laran to become a Keeper. Besides, if a girl was accepted for Keeper's training, her teachers would find out if she had the kind of rebelliousness which would make a Free Amazon and release her to go and be one, long before she got past the stage of being a passable monitor, let alone a technician or mechanic.

As for Dorilys, I don't think she ever woke up; most likely she lived to a great old age and died. Sorry to disappoint you; but that's the way life is somehow. Even in fiction, you can't have all the rules suspended. I'm not trying to spoil anybody's fun; but every game has its rules, and we can't play chess by the rules of Parcheesi, or Darkover by the rules of Dungeons and Dragons.

[snipped]

As for Dorilys, I don't think she ever woke up; most likely she lived to a great old age and died. Sorry to disappoint you; but that's the way life is somehow. Even in fiction, you can't have all the rules suspended. I'm not trying to spoil anybody's fun; but every game has its rules, and we can't play... Darkover by the rules of Dungeons and Dragons.

All best wishes -- Marion Zimmer Bradley
A fan takes Bradley to task:

I am distressed at your handling of some of your fan letters in Darkover Newsletter #31, particularly those related to the use (or abuse) of your characters in rolegaming. I fully agree with your right to control how your world of Darkover and its characters are used....I'm a little puzzled that you have licensed your work to gam companies, given your feelings. I must, however, take strong exception to your statement that rolegamers should be 'home reading a good book, or writing one.' This characterization of rolegaming as an inferior substitute of the literary art is comparable to telling a musician that she should stop fiddling around with that violin and write a novel. Rolegaming is simply a different art than writing. At its best, it's a form of improvisation theater that allows you to take on the role of a character.

[snipped]

I'm also puzzled as to why Olexa merits a stern rebuke (and no help) for asking gaming-related questions about Darkover, despite his evident attempt at Darkovan courtesy, while J. McDermott gets answers to her questions? In general, I'm disappointed at your treatment of your young admirers (having just reached my 35th birthday, I feel I'm now a middle-aged admirer!). Your work has created for many people, particularly the young, a place where their imagination is affirmed and the development of their individuality is encouraged by example. When they write you with their questions, they are seeking further affirmation from someone they admire and respect. I think it would be better for you to temper your rebukes with encouragement. Not everyone has the discipline and gift to be a writer, but everyone can develop and enjoy their imagination. Would you condemn the non-writer to a life of tiddlywinks, chess, or (Zandru forfend!) television?
Bradley responds to the fan above:
If these rolegamers are so bursting over with talent, why in heck can't they invent their own backgrounds, instead of leeching (vampirizing) on literature? I don't give a hang what nonreaders do -- they can all, as Magda said, be engaging in perverted intercourse with banshees or despoiling virgin goats... but I don't want them doing it with my characters. Let 'em make up their own. I licensed my books for a roleplaying game before I had ever seen one, by my agent's advice. Nobody's perfect. MZB
Misty Lackey responds to the whole affair and writes:

As a sort of peripheral member of Marion's household and a RPG playerand a filker having read DNL 31, I kind of feel it incumbent on me to say something to those who might have gotten some hurt feelings: That's this: Marion is a lovely, gentle lady who would never hurt a fly, but what you all did was hit one of her 'allergies," and try to think of it that way. Don't write her impassioned letters justifying RPG's, and don't corner her at cons to try and convince her that RPG's will Save the Universe. You wouldn't blow cigarette smoke in the face of an asthmatic, would you? She has some real reasons for not wanting her world and particularly her characters used in RPG's, and most of them have to do with the fact that she's a real psi-sensitive. She'll react to what you do to her universe the same way that asthmatic would react to the cigarette smoke.

And a minor "allergy" is filking--now mind you, I am an impassioned filker, but I won't inflict it on Marion. Don't corner her and sing at her—don't send her tapes. Send 'em to Lisa Waters and Ann Sharp, they'll
 listen without breaking out in hives!

As a final thought—those of us who are privileged to know Marion love her dearly and react poorly to seeing her hurt. I'd like to believe no one reading this would ever do so deliberately—but if I ever find out differently, I'm coming after the perpetrator. Personally. With a large axe. And since I work for an airline—enough said!
A male fan writes and says he favorite characters are two women who are Free Amazons: "As a man, I can assure you that we suffer as much from the crippling effects of society as women do. Also, without free men, the free women are always going to be without genuine companionship from a male-female, female-male point of view." Bradley replies:
Let's face It, most people in history are resigned to their roles. That's just realism. This may be why people who like rebellion like the Free Amazons. I'm not that much of a rebel in real life, so it seems reasonable to me to be a fatalist. "O God, give me the courage to change what I can change, to accept what I cannot change—and the wisdom to know the difference." MZB
A fan asks for a bit more of the male stuff: " While I have enjoyed the stories about the Renunciates, I have wondered if you have completely given up on the other types of characters that have so enlivened many a winter's night. Please, understand, I am not criticizing your work. To be sure, I will continue to buy and read every work on Darkover that you write. Yet, when I read an introduction you wrote in a recent collection of short stories about the Sisterhood, I wonder if you have given up on us male readers who so love this world you have made for us. Ms. Bradley, please understand me. I realize this is your creation, and it is not up to us, your public, to try to dictate where you should go in your writing, yet I miss the struggles of the Altons and the Hasturs. There are so many avenues not yet explored.":
Considering that I spent the first twenty-two years of my writing life writing exclusively about men, I don't see why people are complaining. I was thirty-nine years old before I got to write about a female protagonist in Winds of Darkover—and forty-one before the book appeared in print. That's a long time, as somebody said to Kennard in Bloody Sun, to live outside your proper element. However, the book I'm working on now has very few women—a devoted mother and a loyal old bitch (dog)—in it. It's called Heirs of Hammerfell and will be out some time next year, Deo Volente.

Issue 33 (1986, likely June)

front page of issue #33

Darkover Newsletter 33 was published in 1986 (no month given, probably June) and contains 16 pages.

  • This issue includes a logic puzzle.
  • The editor says "Darkover Newsletter" is "issued by the joint efforts of a small staff living within five blocks of each other in Berkeley."
  • There is a long list of MZB items for sale, including many pamphlets such as "Why Did My Story Get Rejected," "What is a Short Story," and "Why Prayer is Not Answered" (The last one was also published in some form in a science fiction zine called "Orion" in Jan.-Feb. 1974.). See Links to Essays and Articles on MZB's Website.
  • The back page is an ad for Moon Phases #7 and #8, and a submission request for #9.
The editor, Ann Sharp, writes a long, very detailed challenge, and practical writing guidelines as a way to generate fan contributions to the upcoming Darkover DAW Anthology:

In this issue of DNL, we're presenting something we never have before-- the guidelines, informally called a 'tip sheet,' for MZB's planned anthology, Red Sun of Darkover. For some reason, Darkover seems to be irresistibly attractive to people who are word-oriented and like to write. They're the ones we hear from, of course! And maybe you're one of them, and when you've read the tip sheet, the idea behind THIS anthology really attracts YOU.

Well, GO AHEAD. Write the story that you think should have happened on Darkover. Write every single thing that occurs to you, every thing that hap pened to your hero, your heroine, your villain. Only then, and not before, do I want you to look at the rest of this letter.

Once you have your STORY on paper, with all the details, then go back and edit it. Do that by checking for several things in the body of the story.

[much practical writing advice snipped]

When your story is this polished, type a neat double-spaced manuscript in a conventional style on 8 1/2 by 11 paper. Don't get creative with this part; that does NOT make a favorable impression. Your goal is to be unobtrusive here, too.

Then send it in. You will have done the very best you can, and MZB really does appreciate that. The real object is to encourage you to make the effort to be sure that nothing comes between the brilliant shining idea behind the page -- and the reader.
Bradley's Letter from MZB has this comment about men as a fiction topic:
A question I often get asked these days at conventions is 'are you even going to write about men again?' Granted, the last few books have been about women; but considering that I spent the first 21 years of my career writing about men, and didn't even get a female protagonist on paper until 1970 (Winds of Darkover), I think it's not unreasonable for me to make up for lost time.
Also from Bradley's letter, much about her professional writing and career:

It's been a bad year; I've been working too hard on other things, mainly a long historical novel (which has taken me as long to write as MISTS OF AVALON; though it isn't quite as long) and the fourth SWORD & SORCERESS anthology. Now I'm gearing up to do another Darkover anthology... and you're all invited to join in; all you have to do is write a story you'd like to see in print, and make it good enough to hold the reader's interest (or mine).

We have transferred the headquarters of the MZB Enterprises to a separate building, so that I no longer trip over Newsletters, spare volumes of STORMQUEEN, two extra computers, the copier, and the postage meter while I'm pacing the floor and working on the next Darkover novel. Said new novel has been first-drafted; but having been written during last year's extended site of ill-health ( was on medication which made me a zombie -- I should write CONFESSIONS OF A ZOMBIE sometime), it was not up to standard and needs an extended rewrite, which with a word processor should not take much more than a few weeks.
A fan writes of RPGs and "a blank piece of paper:
I know very little about "fantasy role-playing games" and have never played any. I got a computer last summer, and have seen catalogs advertising computer "role-playing" games, however, I haven't bought any because I have found that I prefer to have a word-processor instead; I can insert a blank piece of paper into my printer and make up my own "rules" as I go along, instead of conforming to a game.
Nina Boal writes and introduces Moon Phases:
I am the editor of Moon Phases, a Darkover fiction, poetry, art, and commentary fanzine. I am always looking for Darkover stories, art, poems, and speculative articles. Also I have some issues for sale. Please send me a SASE for more information.

Issue 34 (September 1986)

front page of issue #34

Darkover Newsletter 34 was published in September 1986 and contains 16 pages.

  • There is a logic puzzle.
  • This issue lists twelve upcoming cons Bradley will be attending, plus the note that Bradley may be making another trip to England with "Jamie George's group."
  • Bradley has a note that John Shimwell "is the one to write to about Darkover dictionaries. To our knowledge, he's the person who's done the most work in this area."
  • There is a letter from a fan in Norway who says it is terribly lonely there, and that Norway has no science ficiton/fantasy conventions, magazines or other fans. She writes: "I am very much looking forward to hearing from you, and honestly, it'll give me real pleasure to write "Thendara Council" on the envelope—almost as if the letter were going there!"
The Letter from MZB has a focus of Bradley's trip to England and Scotland:
This trip was only one of the many wonderful things which have happened to me in the train of MISTS OF AVALON, and a thrill of a lifetime was to see MISTS on sale in the gift shops in Glastonbury and Tintagel where only a few years ago I came alone and as a stranger looking for traces of Arthurian legend. The first lines of Mists were actually written at Tintagel after a morning spent sketching the old monastery, and the causeway -- which since then has fallen into the sea.
A fan wants to meet other fans and writes:
I guess I want to join the Friends of Darkover because I love Darkover for what it can teach those of us who struggle along here on Terra but look to the stars with hope. I think Darkovans can teach us much about what we should and shouldn't do when we finally achieve the stars. Darkover can also teach us a lot that could be very useful for the future of Terra. My children and grandchildren will learn that, although the science that created the fearful weapons we have today can be good, if used in other directions the weapons should be banned. If I teach them nothing else, that will be my message to the future and I learned it from Ms. Bradley. Sometimes I wonder if she ever intended Darkover to be a lesson in ethics to future generations. Somehow I doubt it. But, anyway, I also want to join "Friends" because I'd like to meet a modern "Free Amazon," meet members of S.C.A. and join it one day and to one day meet and become a friend to Ms. Bradley herself. Last, but not least, I'd like a place to send my own Darkover stories. Hope to hear from you soon. [Ann Sharp replies: "...joining Friends of Darkover is pretty much by declaration -- If you say you're one, fine."
Darkover for this fan is a focus of homeschooling:

I must describe the circuitous route I've taken to arrive at feminist homeschooling based in part on MZB's Free Amazons.

[snipped]

I'd been taking the initial steps towards home-schoolingmy two young daughters but I didn't have a focus. I had strong but nebulous feelings of what I could do for them that traditional schooling couldn't and there was the focus. I could raise my girl children to be as strong, independent, and worthy as the Free Amazons. I saw how it could be done; Darkover's external chains are no worse than Earth's deadlocked gender perceptions.

One of our favorite non-traditional, home-schooling pastimes is playing with Golden Girls—the little warrior dolls.

[much about the dolls snipped]

You can see this is not just role-gajne playing Free Amazon style. This is serious stuff! We're writing all the adventures down and we're also building them a house. We've discovered that even play house building is full of frustrating, tricky problems. And I have MZB to thank for this! Without her connecting the bridge between the mythological Amazons and Darkovan Amazons, I'd still be wondering what to do with my ideas and my hands. So Thank You MZB for solving that problem; now about this writer's block . . . .
A fan wants some inter-generation fannish sharing:
It's possible that if the older Darkovan fans would share their knowledge and relationship with Darkover with the newer fans, that the new generation of fans would help the older ones recover that first flush of excitement, when you finally meet with a reality and people that are kindred spirits and you find that lost piece of yourself that you never knew was missing until you found it. If my generation emerged too late to enjoy and grow with the Newsletters, Towers, Guild Houses, etc., would you please pass my letter on to someone who enjoyed those times and would be willing to re-live them with us? As it stands, we find ourselves feeling like we just found our heritage, only to have it ripped away from us.
A fan is unhappy that a character has died:
Just one gripe—Jaelle— just can't believe she died. Hopefully Moon Phases Nine "alternative Darkover" will provide my own solution. As MZB said before, she sometimes changes her mind (hint, hint! ). [Elisabeth Waters] replied: "Sorry, Jaelle is really dead. Nobody's immortal--at least, not on the physical plane."]

Issue 35 (December 1986)

front page of issue #35
logic puzzle from issue #35

Darkover Newsletter 35 was published in December 1986 and contains 12 pages.

  • The editor, Ann Sharp, says several times that Elisabeth Waters is Bradley's "administrative assistant."
  • A fan asks for hints on how to set up a Guildhouse in a culture that doesn't support the concept. In her case, it's Atlanta, Georgia.
  • MZB Enterprises has a new listing in their line-up of items for sale: "Why I Accept Astrology" by Walter Breen: "A rational explanation by a professional astrologer and well-known technical writer."
  • A fan writes at great length about feminism and its interpretation.
  • The editor writes: "For future issues, we're looking for articles on readers' experiences with Darkovan-type projects -- a page or more, written clearly for the ordinary reader, not a fellow expert." Suggested subjects are Darkovan cooking, crafts, music, and founding a Guildhouse.
"And There's No Way to Stop It... is an article about the psychic problem the author encounters in her daily life; how to get rid of ESP. It is written by Elisabeth Waters. "If you really want to get rid of ESP, you can try living a totally mundane existence. Don't read about it, don't think about it, just concentrate on the material plane --things like your bills and your job. It may work, at least temporarily. Good luck." Waters explains two positive aspects of ESP -- meal preparation help and as a bad fan mail radar:
ESP does have practical uses. Several of my friends use it to communicate with their families. ("Mother, I forgot to put the roast out to defrost before I left for work" -- and Mother Iooks in the freezer and thinks, '"this should be put out to defrost.") And I have found it very useful in dealing with Marion's fan mail; I can pick up a letter and tell if the writer is insane or malicious even before I open the envelope. That way the hate mail doesn't make it to Marion, who is sensitive and gets upset by it. I admit it doesn't feel very good to me sometimes, but that can be dealt with by dropping the offending article in the outside garbage can and washing one's hands.
Bradley writes that
DAW is planning -- and it's currently begun -- to reissue all the Darkover books in a uniform package/format. This includes all the books except the old ones published by ACE Books, which are being kept in print apparently out of spite -- if they ever went out of print I could legally resell them to DAW." She also has many updates about her books, including "Red Sun of Darkover," another of the DAW Anthologies, as well as something by Elisabeth Waters: "Then this summer there will be another Darkover anthology. Red Sun ofDarkover, containing stories by many of the Friends, including Diana Paxson and Lisa Waters. Speaking of Lisa Waters, her novel A Woman's Privilege (yes, based on the short story of the same name in Swords & Sorceress Three has been completed and my agent thinks it's great; watch this space for further developments, publishing information, etc. I liked it.
Bradley talks about some important babies:
More news: The most recent Friend to Darkover is the daughter of Betsy Wollheim and her husband Peter Stampfel: Zoe Alexandra [personal info redacted]. Other new friends of Darkover include [Rose W], daughter of the one of two writers who has appeared in every anthology so far. Rose was born in June and spent the weekend before Christmas at my house; she's still small enough to nibble on, but began pulling herself to her feet on my lap that weekend. And at the Darkovercon I spent a substantial part of the weekend with [Kathy S's] baby, Dawn, draped over my arm; five weeks old and still collapsible. Much more fun than Cabbage Patch dolls though I have added to the collection on those, too.
A fan encourages Bradley to keep writing despite the letters she gets from:
males who complain you are losing touch with the 'real' Darkover, and you are only writing about women's issues. Don't let that depress you for a even a few milliseconds! As a male, I must tell you I enjoy all the Darkover books, including all the stories on the Free Amazons. Keep writing what your inner vision tells you! [snipped] You are obviously helping many women to find their way. I have a close friend who has been helped by the Free Amazon books to work out new relationships with the men in her life. Although my mother and sister are not SF readers, I am planning to give them some of your books for Christmas. I also think that your books might get an interesting reception in the safe houses that are increasingly available for battered women, runaway girls, and prostitutes!
Bradley writes that she has a new car:
And I have a new car—the first really new car of my life; the kind that still smell of new plastic. A blue Topaz; I always thought a topaz was yellow but discovered that there is a gemstone known as a blue topaz; looks a bit like a matrix. Suitable.
There is a logic puzzle in this issue, one which uses Bradley and and a hypothetical writing project with fans:
MZB was purchasing stories for her umpteenth anthology, 'Son of the Red Sun of Darkover.' She had exactly $1000 as an advance from DAW to split among the contributors, which is done by story length, as so many cents per word. Can you determine the full names of the authors, the story each wrote, and the amount of the advance each received? This money wshe divided among the contributors, in the following way: 1) Butler, who did not write 'Macho Matrix Tech,' earned $300 of the advance. Ramsey did not write 'Trailmen's Love Nest.' 2) Richenda's story brought $100 more than the 'Bumbling Banshee.' 3) Mary's story, which was not 'Trailmen's Love Nest.' brough more than Ivy's or Moller's, but not as much as Jenssen's. 4) Don's story, which brought $60 more than one of the others, brought $80 less than 'Dyana Ardais, Transvestite.'

Issue 36 (March 1987)

front page of issue #36

Darkover Newsletter 36 was published in March 1987 and contains 10 pages.

  • The editor, Ann Sharp, writes "the way to increase your subscription number by ONE issue is to write us a letter for publication, whereupon you will get a free copy of the issue in which your letter appears, which extends your subscription by one copy. Or write us anyway. Letters for Relays are always welcome, especially when they raise new subjects for discussion. We would also like articles, and cartoons or small artwork, which I have NO talent for at all. " It is unclear if this is a new policy or one which has been in place all along. It is, however, the first time it's been mentioned in the newsletter.
  • The editor writes a short tutorial on plot development and writing.
  • The story by Elisabeth Waters mentioned in the last issue, "A Woman's Privilege," may have had a title change; Bradley now refers Water's first submitted novel as "ACILA... yes, it is about the characters from her story in SWORD AND SORCERESS 3."
  • This issue includes a logic puzzle.
  • A fan asks about copyright: "Is work appearing in the Newsletter filed for copyright, and, if so, do you file for first-time rights, or do I take care of that myself? Is original artwork returned upon use, or do you keep it? Do contributors get the Newsletter in exchange for work, or at a discount?" The editor replies: "1) We have a copyright notice at the bottom of the first page. All rights are reserved to the origianl artist (or writer). 2) We will certainly return your original artwork, if that is your preference. 3) Art contributors, like letter contributors, get a free copy of the issue their work appears in."


There is a one-page article by Bradley called "Guidelines Four Moons of Darkover." In it is much practical advice on how to submit a story to her professional anthology which includes ideas and her own gaps, and using her characters or creating original characters. It also, for the second time in this newsletter (the first being the discussion in Darkovans Invade Boskone!), brings up the issue of copyright and fanzines as a potential problem:

As always, I want strongly-plotted action stories about strong realistic characters; and the stories should be such as could fit into the 'official" Darkover stories, perhaps taking place "between the acts" of the Darkover novels I've written. Feel free to invent your own characters or to use mine; the only criterion I will use for these stories is this; will they entertain Darkover fans and readers? Are they interesting? Do they perhaps answer a question raised but not answered in one of the "original" novels? Will Darkover readers want to read them? Basically, it's a question of "Do I want to read them?" Because if they entertain me, they'll entertain other Darkover readers.

They may be any length from 1000 words to about 10,000; it's unlikely that I'd buy anything longer than that unless it struck me as being up to a very professional standard. We did finally get Pat Floss's "Other Side of the Mirror" into print in the last anthology; but under ordinary circumstances I wouldn't buy a 30,000 word novella. I still prefer the shorter lengths unless the story really illuminates for me something I hadn't thought about — at least not enough to get into one of my books.

[snipped]

No taboos — sex, for instance, is welcome — except good taste; but you may not violate known "facts" about Darkover. Feel free to invent anything I've left blank, but no Free Amazons with passionate love affairs or accepting slavery a la John Norman, no changing the moons to three or heat waves in the Hellers.

All stories to be considered must reach me by October 15th, 1987. I will pay 2-6 cents a word as an advance against royalties if your story is chosen. Original stories only please — I am not happy with stories reprinted from fanzines ... copyright problems. I know I' ve bought them before; but not this time.
A fan proposes an idea for a fic, but doesn't want to "tread on the hem of [Bradley's] garment":
Having read the Darkoverseries, as I said, suddenly my active imagination was touched and another Darkover story was created, this one of a Terran nurse who finds her true home on Darkover. It begged to be written, so to the typewriter I went. Initially, as it was born in my imagination, it was certadnly novel length, but I stopped it as a short story because I did not "wish to tread on the hem of your garment," and because I felt it was rash temerity to undertake such a project right off. At any rate, I do wish to know if you are reading for another collection of short stories about Darkover or whether you would be interested in reading"The Search"or not. I would greatly appreciate any assistance you could give me as I am a newcomer in the formal writing field. Once again, thank you for discovering Darkover.
For the first time in this newsletter, Bradley plugs something for Mercedes Lackey:
Misty Lackey, who worked on security at the last Fantasy Worlds Festival and is well known to all readers of SWORD AND SORCERESS, has sold a trilogy to DAW Books, of which the first title, ARROWS OF THE QUEEN, is already in print. It's a charming story, with the same basic theme as HAWKMISTRESS: a young girl leaves a stultifying environment and gains training in her real potential. It would be excellent for teenagers especially. One of the best things that's happening in s-f and fantasy is that a field practically dominated by young males has been successfully integrated — and made interesting to teenage girls, who're widely neglected outside of the romance market.
The subject of women establishing their own guild houses has been a recurring topic in the newsletter, and there seem to be more and more letters about this idea. One of them:
I'm delighted and surprised by [Sheri A's] letter asking for help in starting a guild house; delighted because maybe this thing can really happen if others are interested in it; and surprised because you'd think by now there would be standardized guidelines for doing it, and even government subsidies. A Darkover--style safe house should be commonplace—except that women depending on women is still a revolutionary concept. I'd like to see women with children forming guild houses to share incomes, skills, and child care. I don't have the faintest notion how to go about suggesting this idea or getting it rolling, though. Wouldn't you think there would be a lot of women who would want this? . . . I'm really looking forward to the ideas Darkover readers come up with. P.S.. I'm not suggesting the government should subsidize guild houses—but some initial help in getting them started could lead to a reduction in women and children on welfare. Being a homeschooler has convinced me the government has far too many of its fingers in far too many pies as it is. I can just see federal guidelines for guild houses!!
An early acafan from Rutgers School of Law, asks some questions in a somewhat tone-deaf way. She wants to know more about Darkover fiction, and she brings up copyright, which seems to have become a hot topic:
. . . Recently I picked up your Sword and Sorceress III anthology, and was surprised and delighted to find that many of your textual notes were addressed not to what one thinks of as the typical passive reader, but rather to active participants, potential contributors. Which made me think that perhaps most of your readers are indeed writers (as indeed most readers are in their imaginations if not in deed). I had heard a little about there being groups of women writing about Darkover, and about the Star Trek characters, but this was the first "commercial" evidence I'd seen of semi-professional women writers operating as a national community, speaking to each other through the mass market. The prospect is very exciting.

I would very much appreciate your giving me addresses of fanzines or little magazines where I might see more of this community's work; if possible, I would also appreciate your sending me the names of any persons in the Ann Arbor or Newark areas who might put me in touch with reading groups or writing groups. I realize that there are other published anthologies in existence (such as the DAW Darkover anthologies), but I am as interested in the dialogue of the community as in its finished products. I am a law professor specializing in copyright, and such communities are both a personal and professional interest for me. My work involved identifying those legal structures which will both protect the interests of authors, and preserve the freedoms of readers and other artistic heirs to create anew using the existing tools and images of their cultural heritage.

After I learn more about the nature of these communities, I hope to talk with you. I suspect there are few people better situated than yourself to offer insights into the author/audience relation. [MZB's only response: "I don't know exactly what you mean by "semi-professional women writers" -- anyone who has been paid for a story published by a mass-market publisher, such as DAW, is by definition a professional writer. MZB"
Bradley writes:
As for Darkover, Don Wollheim has convinced me that I really ought to write a novel I swore I'd never write; the story of the rediscovery of Darkover by the Terrans. No, it's NOT Spock on Darkover.

Issue 37 (June 1987)

front page of issue #37

Darkover Newsletter 37 was published in 1987 (no month given, but Bradley's letter is dated June) and contains 18 pages.

  • There is a long letter from a fan in the Netherlands which criticizes the Darkover books for their attitudes toward cold weather. The fan tells Bradley that it must be because Bradley lives in California and doesn't have a realistic view of how people deal with actual winter weather.
  • There is a long letter in the form of a story by Kerwin Kerr.
  • There is a logic puzzle and again, "Guidelines Four Moons of Darkover," the latter by Bradley.
Bradley's Letter from MZB is one totally focused on comments about her health:

Some people are never satisfied; one man didn't like the description of my trip to England in 1977 because I went into considerable detail about the cold sores which kept me from enjoying the trip as much as I'd always thought I would. He cancelled his subscription; not susceptible to which the flesh is heir.

If you are of this sort you might as well skip this page; because I intend to tell you all about having a stroke last month. People who see me tend to ask "Have you lost some weight?" -- like the Queen in "Iolanthe," I am built on the most generous proportions -- and I tell them "Yes; but I can think of easier ways to do it." A few weeks ago I must have had a stroke; I was driving to Ward's and after I finished — I remember that I was, for some absurd reason or other, buying a shower rod, I went to Taco Bell and bought myself a burrito. I discovered I could not feed myself; I smeared it all over the car seat and myself. Then I lost my way on a freeway I have driven a hundred times; so when I found where I was again I decided it was a bad day and I would go home. I arrived home without further trouble, but discovered the shower rod was the wrong kind. I refused to go back and change it — quite uncharacteristic for me — so on coming up the stairs I fell down them again and skinned my knee. Lisa by this time discovered my speech was slurred, and took me (reluctantly — I was the reluctant one, not Lisa) to the hospital Emergency Room.... after a CAT scan they decided I had had not one but a couple of small strokes.

[snipped]

This of course had come in the middle of copy-editing on my latest book; so I let Lisa get on with it and decided to enjoy poor health. I would have had a fine time except that they came around every ten minutes or so to check my blood sugar, which meant sticking me full of holes.

[snipped]

Although I kept telling myself that if I had kept myself out of the hospital and free of episodes of coma for five years I couldn't be all that bad. Anyhow I spent a week in the hospital, by which time I was more than ready to get out! And I was recovering rapidly; I now knew that my mind had not been affected, which was all I had been worrying about. I could tell that my handwriting and my voice had been somewhat affected, but everything else seemed to be in working order; I was in too good shape to need therapy. So — I came home. I am still forbidden to drive, but otherwise I am all OK. And that's the story — except that now I feel old.
Some fans discuss the government subsidizing Guildhouses in real life. Other fans discuss how these actual Guildhouses would function:
I find it hard to talk about becoming a Free Amazon. This is still pretty much a man's world. We cannot be outside the law and create our own laws like on Darkover. Most of us have to work for men. Or if we have a female supervisor, the supervisor has to answer to a man. If by chance we did work in a female-owned organization, a lot of our contacts and business deals would be with men. Also, most of the government bodies in this country are made up of mostly men. Even though women have progressed further in the last twenty years than in two thousand years before that, there is still a lot of room to grow and it must be done gradually. I think that there are a lot of women who are really fed up with all the discrimination. A lot of women are choosing to remain single instead of marrying. Many of these women would love to choose a lifestyle where they do not have to depend on men. As the guild matures, the women should learn not only cooking and sewing, but also auto repair, household repair, and finances (the jobs which are traditionally done by men). [Bradley replies: "Why do you want to punish women by making them do auto repair? Frankly, I'd rather muck out barns! MZB"]
One fan's letter is an example of how Bradley's books profoundly affected some people:
This letter is probably a repeat of many you have already read, but I feel I must tell you this. The first book by Marion Zimmer Bradley that I read was Mists of Avalon. So impressed was I by her style, and her seemingly unique empathy with a woman's "position" in life, that I immediately went out and got the next book I could find by her. This was City of Sorcery and my introduction to Darkover. Never have I read any book that has drawn me so deeply into it that I had to take an occasional break to come backtorealityasitwere. Perhaps it is an identity thing, as I have never been one to accept society's "norms" for behavior, and am practically a family outcast for my beliefs. Over the past year, I have managed to get nearly all of the Darkover books now in print. Each one has been fascinating, but my special love is for those centering on the Free Amazons. How I dearly wish that this concept was more than a story, and even more real than it is in my head and heart. One of my greatest wonderings is in not knowing my limits, either mental or physical. I have always questioned my role, and those of others, but without anyone who could tadk of those questions and arrive at answers. Who knows how I would fare, either in House Meeting, or in a fight. I have little skill for either. I think only that it would be gratifying to find out, one way or the other, what and who I am, under this shell of society's molding. What I seek here is to be able to contact others with this same outlook. Any information you could send would be greatly appreciated—fanzines, other Councils, anything.
A fan who says she is a "political prisoner" asks other fans for help and money:
For many years now I have enjoyed the history of the planet and the people of Darkover. I found your address at the back of one volume several months ago, but only now have been able to get enough breathing space to be able to write you. I am the [prison name redacted] and am here because of my trying to fight the corruption in my counties welfare and social structure, thus I aim a prisoner of conscience, or a political prisoner. All this because of prejudices against me & my family. I hope that they may be able to give me some spiritual support in my struggle for justice. I had a large collection of fanzines, and Gregg Press copies of Darkover stories, but they all where stolen from me when I was beatenup by some guards and sent to solitary, so any help that you may be able to give me in replacing any works would be appreciated. We are only 'paid' some .57 cents a day for the work we do here, so I have very little money, as my parents have disowned me.
Copyright is being discussed again, and by this fanzine editor's remarks, the subject has probably been percolating among fans:
To Whom It May Concern: As editor of Jumeaux and Contes Di Cottman IV^ I wish to make it clear that all contributors to both zines, whether contributors of art work or stories or articles, do, after one publication, own the copyright to their material and may submit it where they will. I, as editor of Jumeaux and Contes Di Cottman IV, have absolutely no claim on it after it has been published once in either zine. I am stating this for the record so that there can be absolutely no misunderstanding about it.

Issue 38 (1987, unknown month)

Darkover Newsletter 38 has mostly unknown content, though it does include a long letter about guild houses by Deborah Wheeler (who went on to write the Darkover books after Bradley's death).

The entire letter was reprinted in issue #59 where Ann Sharp discussed the reality of guild houses and their success in our culture and time. Sharp, and Bradley, wrote in issue #59 that they didn't know of any guild houses that worked for more than a very short time. Sharp wrote that the best letter they ever received was by Deborah Wheeler in "Darkover Newsletter" #38.

Excerpts from the letter by Deborah Wheeler are included below.

I thought I would make an attempt to answer those oft-asked questions, "How do I become a Free Amazon anchor set up a Guild House?" Where I get off feeling I'm qualified is Marion telling me I didn't need to take the Oath, I already was one. I also have a second degree black belt in kung fu san soo, two postgraduate degrees, and a host of equally irrelevant credentials.

The most important translation of the comii letzi into twentieth-century America is the commitment to one's fellow women as whole persons of worth and integrity. In our society, that means acquiring the skills for economic and physical independence, as far as one is able. It does not mean forsaking one's profession and running away to the country to join a subsistence-level commune. Nor does it mean opening one's house to any and all women, including runaway battered wives, and as a consequence having to call the cops because mere's a rabid husband with a shotgun trying to break down the front door at three in the morning.

So, the first principle is, Live your own life with integrity. If you choose economic dependence (for example, to be supported by your husband while your children are small), let it be a choice, not a necessity (as it would be if you were unable to support yourself). Especially, consider careers which are economically self-sufficient, as many traditional "women's jobs" are not Establish credit in your own name; handle your own money (with consideration for your partner), etc. I see nothing un-Amazonian about working for men (or even-gasp-living with one!); they hold up the other half of the sky, and some of them are worthy of honorary Amazonhood.
What commitment to omer women does mean is treating each sister with loyalty and consideration, whether it be at the workplace, the dojo, or on the street It means encouraging other women in difficult tasks or situations, especially if you have some mastery. It means respecting other women's relationships and values, even when you disagree with mem. It means owing other women not just a helping hand, but your honesty, and that can be very difficult.
The best basis to build a Renunciate family, like any other, is life-long emotional commitment, followed by lots of communication and honesty. (Marion will vouch that I know whereof I speak!) A creative attorney can help with interfacing with the mundane world (wills, powers of attorney, guardianship of children, etc). As an additional warning, if you are going to do something really eccentric (like be "married'" to three other women), don't give the mundane world an excuse to stomp on you -- mow your lawn, wear your bra, and pay your taxes. Remember that organized crime syndicates usually get nailed, not for extortion, murder, or dealing dope, but for income tax evasion. Then, very quietly, do what you please.

Issue 39 (December 1987)

front page of issue #39

Darkover Newsletter 39 was published in December 1987 and contains 18 pages.

  • Bradley's Letter from MZB describes in great detail travels she had to various conventions and writing classes she was teaching. She runs into Claire Gabriel, and they, plus Jacqueline Lichtenberg share a meal, something that was one of the highlights of the trip. Bradley also describes a trip to Denmark. And a trip to Darkovercon where she had Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Bradley writes: "I use CompuServe and can be reached that way."
  • A fan asks who this person, "AS," is, the one who makes comments after some letters. AS says she is Ann Sharp.
  • This issue contains a logic puzzle.
  • A fan who had officially changed her name to a complicated Darkovan name eleven years ago writes about the fun and difficulties she has had with it with friends, the dry cleaners, and the IRS. She writes that it used to be fun to explain the inevitable questions regarding its origins, but "over the years I've gotten pretty tired of people's reactions, which range form bored incomprehension to retreat from a rabid feminist. Generally, I end up feeling like a particular insect and have even apologetically passed it off as youthful whimsy, which is a small self-betrayal. I now usually just say, 'It's gaelic,' and then all I have to do is explain what 'gaelic' is." She goes on to say the name makes people think she is Indian, African or Middle Eastern, which when traveling in Asia, was an advantage. She wonders, however, about the name being a disadvantage. "When I send out resumes, apply for grants, or in any way correspond with official strangers, I must consider what automatic judgements are being passed... I don't reccomend the name for inscure or paranoid people."


Elisabeth Waters chimes in regarding name changes and the troubles she's had in changing hers to its current state. She also mentions the troubles Bradley has:
Of course, there are also problems involved in having a different last name from your husband's. The IRS has trouble with this; we get periodic letters from them saying that Mrs. Bradley hasn't filed a tax return, and we have to tell them it's filed jointly with Mr. Breen. And since she's carried under his medical insurance, we have problems with that, too. Blue Cross just sent us a post card addressed to Mr. Bradley, so I'm not surprised that the hospital called to ask for the card number again.
A fan comments about what Bradley's books mean to her:
I would like to thank you, Marion. One of the things that meains the most to me is that there is a place where I can be accepted—one, as a strong independent womatn, and two, as a lover of women. While I have never been ashamed of either, there are many situations (social and professional) where I must hide or disguise these basic facts of my life. A Renunciate need never apologize for what she is, what a joy!
A fan writes about her mixed emotions to having one of her stories published in the DAW Darkover Anthologies:
Now that "Flight" is available to the public, I am elated, yet still frightened by what it might reveal. I am thrilled that MZB allowed it to be published; I remember hanging around the mailbox, afraid of what I thought would be the inevitable rejection letter. When the contract came instead, I signed it gladly and sent it back. I eagerly told parents and friends of this sale. I had sold "The Meeting" to Free Amazons of Darkover, but for me, this story was more important; I had put more of myself into it. Yet is scares me. Part of me doesn't want to tell this story. I am in therapy to learn to accept what I still see as "shameful." I still have partial amnesia about my own childhood. What I do know about myself, I fear to disclose to others. What does "Flight" say to me and others that I don't want revealed? Yet the Friends of Darkover have provided a ssfer space. I have been able to read stories such as "Knives" and books such as Thendara House and Heritage of Hastur. MZB has provided her world of Darkover for me to explore in my own writing. Fortunately, I am also now beginning to explore my own world. I'm starting a novel. I've never written a novel and the idea intimidates me. Yet I can keep on, in this journey. I also want to say that I do NOT understand those who write or read stories where someone is raped or abused and learns to "enjoy it." For some reason, this is a common myth. I have met many rape and abuse survivors. I have yet to meet one who ever "enjoyed it." I hope that "Flight" and other Darkover works provide a welcome aintidote to this erroneous myth. Thank you for letting me say this. [Bradley responds: "This Is what Tanith Lee and I were arguing about before I wrote Two to Conquer. Rape fantasies—Freud apart—are "universal" to everyone except rape victims, who know better. Freud was intellectually dishonest anyway. He knew incest was common, yet said it was fantasy, and based his theory of personality on that lie. MZB"

Issue 40 (March 1988)

front page of issue #40

Darkover Newsletter 40 was published in March 1988 and contains 22 pages.

  • This issue has guidelines for the new Friends of Darkover anthology, "Domains of Darkover." "... Feel free to invent your own characters or use mind... but no Free Amazons with passionate love affairs or accepting slavery a la John Norman... you cannot bring Jaelle back to life, and Dorilys of 'Stormqueen' is off limits."
  • The editor explains how to write a story that won't get rejected.
  • Bradley's Letter from MZB discusses sex and science fiction: how its role has changed over the years, how she views certain writers' and their books (most of which she takes issue with) which deal with sex, and when sent a copy of Sheri Tepper's 'The Gate to Women's Country' took a dim view of it due to the title. "...I almost didn't read it; I thought, 'Oh, my God, another piece of wimmintrash' and was on the edge of throwing it out of the house. I read the first chapter and -- well, I was hooked." Bradley goes on to write: "At my age all science fiction begins to seem all alike to me, so when I actually read anything which sticks in my mind for more than forty minutes or so it takes to read it, it's unusual."
  • Elisabeth Waters is working on a computer genealogy project (using ROOTS II) to compile a family tree for Darkovan families.
  • A fan says the seventh issue of Weyrdly Towering "the quarterly newsletter of Darriel Council, Gar Hold (Pern)" is about to be published, subscriptions are $8 a year.
  • There are a lot more letters from fans in this issue looking for pen pals.
  • A fan writes: "I am eagerly awaiting "Four Moons" and "Return to Darkover." I hope Marion's health allows completion suon. I muse say, her travel schedule would exhaust most of her readers!" Elisabeth Waters replies: "Marion hasn't started writing Return to Darkover yet, so it won't be ready for three or four years. She's working on The Forest House, a mainstream novel on Roman Britain, and plans another work-through of Heirs of Hammerfell. EW."
  • Some of the Darkover books were recorded by fans for other fans who had vision challenges: "I would like to give you some information in case any other visually impaired readers should inquire about the Darkover books in a format they wish to read. Many of the Darkover books have been recorded by The Volunteers of Vacaville. They have several of them listed in their catalogue."
  • A fan writes about her puzzlement of the "rape fantasy" in fiction: "I always thought it was strictly a masculine porno fantasy until I perceived it, watered down, as one of the romance novel plots."
  • There is a Darkovan joke by Jean Lamb entitled "An Ill-Humored Fable."
  • This issue includes a logic puzzle.
  • "Notes from Under the Desk" by Elisabeth Waters is her new column. In it, she gives updates on what's going on with Bradley and her businesses.
From "Notes from Under the Desk" -- announcement of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine:
Okay, so now it's my turn to talk about everything that didn't get put in elsewhere. We've been working very hard here lately; not only is MZB's house having a lot of much-needed work done to it, but also, as many of you may have heard, she decided to start a fantasy fiction magazine. Not a fanzine (I could have coped with that; I've done it before), but a professional magazine. (I'm now having nightmarish visions of the first issue's going to the printer with no advertising and not much artwork -- those being the areas where I have no experience.) But I'm sure we'll pull through somehow. Anyway, the magazine has been added to our order form, and at least we all know that the editor is terrific.
From "Notes from Under the Desk" there is a rare mention of Walter Breen:
New Products: we've added a few other things to the order form -- we have finally reprinted both the Darkovan Language Review and the Darkovan Costume and Clothing booklet by Diana L. Paxson. We might reprint the Darkovan song book if enough people are interested in it. Walter is hard at work on the update of the Darkover Concordance, but I expect that to take at least a year -- he's got seven books to go through, not counting the anthologies. [2]
From "Notes from Under the Desk":
When MZB started this little mail-order business several years ago, she decided to do a booklet of occult questions with her answers to them, modeled after a column she used to do for "Sybil Leek's Astrology Magazine." Being an eternal optomist, she listed in on the order form, with a note to send a SASE for notification when it was ready. We still have the SASEs people sent then, for that and for "Iron Rations," a booklet on how to feed a family good, heathly food on very little money (might as well put all that experience at being a "starving author" to work). Well, "Iron Rations" is almost done now; it should be ready by the time we mail out DNL #41. But for the occult booklet, she could use more questions. So here's your chance: if there's anything you've ever wanted to know about occult matters, send in your question. If it's used, you'll get a free copy of "Occult Questions and Answers."
A fan praises Bradley, comments on Bradley's "feminist attitude," and has entwined being a fan with writing a fic:
I have enjoyed every story that Marion has written. (There are not many that I have missed, I think.) My sister-in-law is turned off by what she sees as Marion's "feminist" attitude: for me, just tell Marion to keep on writing, and I'll keep on reading, and not worry about the attitude. I may not be able to write good stories, but I do enjoy reading them. And I know a good one when I read it. Can't play the violin, either, but that doesn't keep me from enjoying symphony. [Bradley replies: "You'll get into trouble calling me a feminist: feminists--the card-carrying variety—don't accept my feminist credentials. MZB"

References

  1. Darkover Newsletter #27
  2. Breen never finishes this project. He was probably busy with other things.