Darkover Newsletter/Issues 51-60
Issue 51 (December 1990)
Darkover Newsletter 51 was published in December 1990 and contains 18 pages.
- The editor writes about avoiding clichés in fiction writing.
- Elisabeth Waters announces that Jan Burke has resigned as the editor of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine..
- "Since MZB doesn't have many books due out next year, we are expanding this list to cover recent and forthcoming books by "MZB's writers" — the people who have sold stories to the Darkover anthologies, SWORD & SORCERESS, and/or Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine."
- John Shimwell, creator of the Darkovan Dictionary, writes: "I have just finished a three-month spare-time stint writing a Sime/Gen Concordance, and have sent copies to Jacqueline Lichtenberg. Jean Lorrah, Katie Filipowicz, and a few others . . . . Hopefully I will get enough feedback by mid-January to have a revised edition available for fans. After all.they have been waiting twelve years for one!"
Elisabeth Waters writes in her column about Bradley's divorce, Breen's legal troubles, Bradley's health, and Bradley's upcoming planned con attendance in , "Notes from Under the Desk":
Bradley's Letter from MZB is an memorial to Donald A. Wollheim, the creator of Locus, and owner of DAW Books:
MZB's divorce from Walter Breen was final in May, and he got the PO Box she had been using for her personal mail. So she's now down to two PO Boxes: Box 72 (the small one) and Box 245-A (the large one, used for manuscripts for the anthologies and Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine). Both are Berkeley, CA 94701. So if anyone has an address for MZB (or for me, since I live with her) that isn't one of those boxes, please delete it from your records. Walter Breen is still employed by MZB Enterprises and is still working on an updated Darkover Concordance. He was sentenced on November 30th to three years' probation for the one count of sexually molesting a child under the age of 14 that he pled guilty to on June 8th. MZB was hospitalized three times this year (infected foot, heart attack, relapse of congestive heart failure), but she has staged a truly miraculous recovery. We thank everyone who prayed for her; it helped a lot. She even managed to attend the Darkover Grand Council Meeting in Maryland over Thanksgiving weekend. Since that went okay, she's going to try to attend a few cons in 1991. Her current schedule is as follows:Feb 8-10 Psurrealcon Norman OK, Feb 16-18 Con/Fusion San Diego CA, Mar 28-31 Norwescon Tacoma WA, May 24-27 Baycon San Jose CA, Jul 4-7 Westercon Vancouver BC Canada, Aug 16-18 Vikingcon Bellingham WA, Oct 11-13 Bouchercon Los Angeles CA, Nov 29- Dec 1 Darkovercon Timonium MD. Obviously, all of this is subject to her health's holding up, so keep your fingers crossed.
A fan writes about mapping Darkover, a fan activity which Bradley has repeatedly says she does not like, nor supports:
Today I want to talk about Donald A. Hollheim. He was the father of us all; and in case there's anyone reading this who doesn't get LOCUS, and hasn't heard, Don Wollheim has left us and all of-us have lost our father and the first friend of Darkover. I may as well tell you one of the reasons I thought of him as a father. Tasha Yar, in Star Trek; The Next Generation, said of Captain Picard what I would have said of Don: I can't say I thought of him as a father because I never knew what it feels like to have a father; but if the one who helps you to grow is a father, then Don was my father in every way that counts. It was Don who printed the first of the Darkover books, and Don who persuaded me to keep the series going just when I had resolved to emulate Conan Doyle, who had resolved to "bury Sherlock Holmes even if I bury my bank account with him," or Sax Rohmer, who tried repeatedly to burn, bury, or dismember Fu Nanchu so thoroughly that even Hollywood could not resurrect him.
Soon after the founding of DAW Books; I called upon Don in his spanking new office; and he asked me to write him something. "Darkover," he said. "That's a known series, and it sells well. The distributors like it." So what could I do?
[snipped]He also gave me my first taste of editing; I used to go into DAW Books and read slush for him. I think he thought it rather odd and eccentric of me that I never lost my taste for the slush pile. I still haven't. I still greet each new pile of manuscripts for the magazine or my anthologies with renewed enthusiasm.
I am disappointed in Mrs. Bradley's dislike of maps. I love maps (it's the Bilbo Baggins in me), in fact. I believe it is use of maps as well as detailed chronology and genealogies which gives J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth the illusion of authenticity and increases its appeal to the reader. If a novel I enjoy does not contain a map. I find I sketch one to increase my pleasure in reading the book. A reasonable sketch of Darkover in its various Ages has eludedme because of inconsistencies in natural terrain (e.g.. the wandering location of the River Kadarin). Mrs. Bradley's trouble with and dislike of maps explains this. I don'texpect she will change her mind, having written nineteen Darkover novels and edited eight anthologies without a map. I'm just sharing my feelings.
Issue 52 (March 1991)
Darkover Newsletter 52 was published in March 1991 and contains 18 pages.
- The editor writes of using foreshadowing in one's writing.
- There is a full-page form for fans who want a pen pal.
The editor tells a fan:
Bradley's Letter from MZB talks about some of the mail she gets every day, mail that gets odder and odder each year. She also talks about fans and fandom:As to writing Darkover fiction... if you want to try your hand at it, fine. MZB is perfectly cheerful about her characters being used, provided they are not already dead... they do not act out of character for themselves, and her major characters are not killed off by someone else. Practically speaking, this means you have to treat existing Darkover novels as if that were as historical as the American Revolution, and not resurrect George Washington as a Regency rake.
Since I joined the AAPA (American Amateur Press Association) when I was fourteen, back in 1943 — before I read much science fiction (except some Roy Rockwood in grade school) and before I read any fantasy except THE KING IN YELLOW — the mail has been the high point of every day. I spent about twelve years in a miserable little town in Texas, where I had literally no friends and looked to my mailbox for all my social contacts; anH^so I tend to suffer a fool rather gladly; because you never know; that next envelope you open might just be a valued friend next year. And then, on the other hand — Some of the things that drop out of my mailbox are truly very astonishing; and there are ever crazier ones with the years. I meet — to put it mildly — some strange people.
Now, the genus fannus does not bother me much ... as a rule. I remember once when I was doing an autograph party with a writer who was then much better known than I was; we happened to be sharing a table. [much snipped about being happy to sign a lot of books, unlike her arrogant table-partner because "Heck, no; these are the people who are putting my kids through college!" and how her constant writing made her able to buy her kids things like guitars and teddy bears]]
One — and only one — question, whether in a letter or at a panel, really throws me; this is usually from the earnestly hypothyroid new age female who gazes at me soulfully and inquires "How much of your work is channelled?" I'm afraid that the first couple of times this came my way, I just stared and stammered. Later, at Lisa's suggestion, I developed the pat answer — "None. I'm not a medium, I'm a large." But I still react with becrogglement, just as I do when I get a letter calling me a great pagan priestess. Even if I were, that would have nothing to do with my books.
Another thing which makes me stare in surprise is a letter which takes it for granted that I am — or should be — a model feminist.
Or one which asks if it is possible for a woman to get published in fantasy or science fiction ... or assumes that before 1963 or so, there were no women in s-f. I gaze coldly at these people, and tell them that s-f was invented by Mary Shelley for Frankenstein; that in this century it was written — and well written — by C.L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, Wilmar Shiras, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, Juanita Coulson, and myself, well in advance of the sixties women's movement. Granted, it is easier for women to get published these days; but even then, the world of science fiction fandom was the only place where I met editors who honestly didn't give a continental dollar whether I were a man, a woman, or one of Aldous Huxley's fifty million monkeys; all they cared about was a good story.
Not that all editors are a feminist's dream. On the contrary I have known feminist writers who write material which makes me ashamed to be a woman. And early — comparatively — in my career, I did some volunteer work on the magazine Womanspirit, reading manuscripts. Imagine my surprise to be told by the editors that we had "no right" to pick and choose among manuscripts; women, they said, got too much rejection from male publications, and it was our job to be supportive of woman writers.
This may illustrate why I am not a feminist.
I haven't even mentioned the women who write to me and blithely announce that they: 1) are reincarnations of Morgan le Fay, (yes, really). 2) just know that I should get them cast as Morgaine in the movie version of MISTS. 3) think I can — or would — get them the job of writing the screenplay of MISTS. 4) chide me for letting a (gasp, shudder,) man make the movie version of MISTS when I should have given it to some card-carrying feminist. 5) just know they should write the music for the movie version of MISTS (frequently sending tapes to prove it). Sometimes I forward their letters and tapes to my agent, but that's about all I can do for any of these people.That's not even mentioning the people who think I am a traitor to womanhood for not adopting them as Free Amazons, the men who write me hate mail because I invented the Free Amazons in the first place, the men — pre-operative or post operative transexuals — who adopt me as a den mother or who are sure they should be admitted to the guild of Free Amazons — and so forth. Every crackpot letter you can imagine — I've probably gotten it at least two or three times. This article, believe me, just skims the surface. But I still open the mail with eagerness every day. Heaven knows why.
Issue 53 (June 1991)
Darkover Newsletter 53 was published in June 1991 and contains 20 pages.
- The editor writes that she was "exposed to the dreaded SDT syndrome. Twice." She goes on to explain that SDT is "Show Don't Tell" and how it manifests itself in writing.
- This issue contains a logic puzzle.
- Most fan letters are ones that ask what order the books should be read in, how to join Friends of Darkover, how to locate pen pals, and laud Bradley and her books.
- Jean Lamb writes that she hopes to meet Bradley in August 1991 at Vikingcon.
Bradley's Letter from MZB concerns itself with the effects that her strokes have had on her memory, about trying to finish 'The Forest House' and how she defends writing flawed characters, specifically Guinevere in The Mists of Avalon:
A fan writes:One of the disadvantages of being the survivor of a couple of strokes unpleasantness of the alternative, is the way it has played hob with my memory and my eyesight. The DMV — as well as my eye doctor — assure me that my eyes are good enough to drive; but I find myself unable to make sense of much of what I see — which has ridiculous consequences. My memory develops unexpected holes. Not only do I feel unsafe driving but it leads to such absurdities as not recognizing my adopted brother Don across a hotel corridor and, at my younger son's wedding, confusing the bridegroom with the equally blond and similarly dressed best man until he began "I, Patrick, take thee, Heather — at which time I thought, "Oh, of course." I've always prided myself on a good memory and been a little too contemptuous of people who relied on such aids to memory as keeping things in a certain place; and now, things seem to disappear if I take my eyes off of them momentarily. Many's the time I've considered something irrevocably lost to find it a day later in the very middle of the kitchen table.
Bradley gives an update on her writing, but does not mention Contraband:Ijust received my first issue of your newsletter and wanted you to know how happy I am to have hooked into this network of Darkover readers. This was my first step into the world of fandom and one taken with some trepidation, but I'm delighted with the result, it's a pleasure to find out that there are so many others out there who enjoy the same books Ido, for what closer affinity is there?
'Rediscovery' is having its second draft worked on. If all goes well, it should be published in 1992 or early 1993. 'Return to Darkover' is also in the intermediate-draft stage... The Roman Britain book, 'Forest House,' is nearly done. I'm working on the last chapter, changing the ending. The original ending was so gloomy, it depressed me."
Issue 54 (September 1991)
Darkover Newsletter 54 was published in September 1991 and contains 22 pages.
- The editor gives some more writing tips.
- This issue contains a logic puzzle.
- There are two Darkovan recipes, one for oat cookies and one for some punch with includes Seven-Up, orange juice, and cranberry juice.
A fan asks if Bradley read the Darkover story she sent her called "Holidays on Darkover, Part 1" and if she should send Part 2 and Part 3. Elisabeth Waters has an interesting reply: "Yes, We did receive Part 1 of "Holidays on Darkover." I myself have not read it.... but I do know that, after Mrs. Bradley saw it, it was sent to the "Marion Zimmer Bradley Collection" at Boston University. By all means, send Parts 2 and 3; that way the library will have the whole thing." What makes this interesting is this is the first time Bradley's official depository in Boston is mentioned. This means that there has been some thought to preserving her official paper/manuscripts and such, a reflection perhaps of a winding down. It is also interesting in that this occurs just two months after the publication of Masks. This could mean that the conflict regarding "Masks" has already hit the fan, as it were, and that Bradley is now stepping back from supporting fan fiction.
Bradley's Letter from MZB says she doesn't like it when she hears of any of her books being required reading in colleges and high school classes as it takes all the fun out of it, writes at length about the value of childrens' ability and desire to read, affirmative action, and says that she homeschooled her children out of frustration with the public school system that had low standards and pushed "feminist theory":
Jennifer Robeson writes a letter and thanks Bradley for her support:The situation is much different now [than when I was in school and science fiction was a shameful, low-brow thing]; there are college classes in science fiction, and I've taught a couple in high school. I don't think that teachers think much more of s-f than they did when I was in high school; I think it's simply that science fiction is one of the few things that they can get kids actually to read in school or anywhere else.
Parenthetically, I've been asked if I was thrilled when I heard that some of my work-especially Mists of Avalon and also Ruins of Isis in feminist courses and Hawkmistress in high school-are now "required reading." Actually, I am considerably less than thrilled; I can't think of anything much worse than having kids think of my work in the same breath as House of the Seven Gables, which I had to read in high school, or an abridged kid's version of Ivanhoe - which was illiterate, and if I had not read the original Scott work when I was about seven, I'd have hated all Scott including my favorite The Talisman.I am a dropout from three teacher's colleges - nothing on earth would have compelled me to treat kids like that; I like kids-and it gave me the horrors to think of my kids being taught by the average C student in these colleges. But the clincher came when I went to the Board of Education, trying to get my daughter Moira, a gifted child, assigned to one of the excellent "magnet" schools in Berkeley, and was told that no white child would be in the foreseeable future assigned to one of the better schools.
A fan writes about setting up a con programming and spaces:I just read DNL 52, wherein Marion graciously mentions my upcoming novel, Sword-Breaker, in her Forthcoming Books list. It's been a while since I paid tribute to Marion in print, and I've decided it's time to rectify that by responding via the Darkover Newsletter. Although subscribers are well aware of Marion's continued support of new writers via publication in various anthologies, collections, and mentions in this newsletter, I fear even they may not be fully aware just how kind, gracious, and helpful this woman has been. One of the hardest things a budding author deals with is rejection, which we all face multitudinous times while struggling to make it out of the slush pile. In her role as editor, Marion too must deal the necessary lows to would-be writers, but she also works very hard at shoring up the wavering confidence of rookies by putting in a good word for them whenever she has the chance.
Back in 1982. just after I sold my first novel to DAW (Shapechangers, Cheysuli #1), I wrote my very first fan letter. It was to Marion, telling her how much I'd always admixed her work, and how she'd inspired me to create my own series. She responded with a very warm letter, and an invitation to submit to a brand new anthology she was founding: Sword and Sorceress.
I took her up on her offer and submitted a short story culled from the rough draft of what became the sixth Cheysuli novel, Daughter of the Lion. Marion bought it, said very nice things in her introduction, and never stopped encouraging me. She also went out of her way to mention my name in interviews, and to give me her public seal of approval at the 1984 WorldCon in Los Angeles. It was my first WorldCon,boasting nearly 10,000 attendees, and I—a rookie whose first novel had been out only eight months—shared a panel with one of my idols. It was truly a special experience, and I've never forgotten it. It's since been my distinct pleasure to appear in all but one of the subsequent S & S anthologies, as well as the Spell Singers collection.Happily, since those early days my career has gone increasingly well; yet while I hope my fortunes continue to rise, I never will forget the foundation of them: the professional support and personal encouragement Marion offered in abundance to me, and to countless others who now share a small measure of her success. She is one special lady. I pray none of us ever forgets it. Warmest wishes as always. [Bradley responds: "Ah, mutual admiration, isnt it wonderful? Personally, I regard Jennifer, like Mercedes Lackey, as one of my earliest discoveries. I try to encourage young writers, since Sam Merwin, Jerry Bixby, and Ted Sturgeon--not to mention Leigh Brackett--were all so nice to me in the 1940's."]
A fan is discouraged:
Notes for the Grand Council: Last year,"Where the Action Is" was in the Renunciate Suite,and we all want to do it again. There's been lots of positive discussion on getting the entire suite this year, all three rooms. This would provide quiet space and some women-only space,even when men are invited to a main program. Of course, this will cost money. Specifically, two nights of just the main room is $135.00; side rooms added for two nights are another $135.00 each; so our room rental goal is $405.00. So far [as of June] we have $80.00 in cash, donated at last Darkover (the remains of the Kitty). When we have enough to rent the parlor, we'll reserve it, and add the other rooms on as the money come sin. We're talking cash not pledges; we need to make the initial reservation as soon as possible.
Because itis not possible to have a seventy-woman conference call—and because we don't get to see the Grand Council schedule until we get to Darkover — and because it's not possible to please everyone all the time-although Shaya and Caitlin are program-chair and assistant there will not be one single sucker taking responsibility for scheduling the programming this year. Here is how it works: If you want to do a program, panel, workshop, or whatever, great, do it. Send Shaya the information on what you plan; she'll type it all up and post it Friday when she arrives, along with a schedule poster. When you arrive, check over the Darkover program and decide what you are willing to miss—and schedule your workshop accordingly, on the schedule poster. If that time-slot is taken, pick another. This lets us all know that you will be doing your program at that time, so we can show up for it—and of course we'll expect you to do likewise. Here are some ideas looking for facilitators:
That should get you started. [Bradley simply replies: "The only thing I can say is: don't take it too seriously! It's just a game."]
- Actual Guild Houses
- What's the Order of the Renunciates About?
- What Does the Oath Mean to Me?
- Self-Defense in the Real World
- How Does Taking the Oath Affect Relationships with Male Partners?
- How are Guild Houses on Terra (dis)Organized?
- Tarot Card Reading
- First Aid
- HandFasting and Freemate Bonding
- Elements of Effective Ceremonies
Some years back. I wrote requesting information on the Friends of Darkover. Perhaps I did not express myself clearly enough at that time, because what I received was a mailing list of strangers. I did receive a letter from someone in another country wanting to discuss Darkover themes. This confused me not a little. Apparendy I have not perceived the rules of the game. Getting into play from Wyoming is difficult at best, although I am aware that there is at least one heavy contributor to Darkover anthologies elsewhere in the state, and I know several other successful science fiction writers located in some of the more high-rent areas, but not Darkover contributors. I had hoped my previous inquiry would lead to information on conventions and fanzine publications, but the data was not forthcoming.
Issue 55 (December 1991)
Darkover Newsletter 55 was published in December 1991 and contains 18 pages.
- This issue contains a logic puzzle.
- The editor offers some writing tips about research.
- Bradley writes that Joan Marie Verba is "another discovery I'm very proud of."
- Bradley writes: "I believe completely in laran, but not the way some sappy New Agers think of it. Some of the stories in my slush pile make Shirley MacLaine look conservative!"
- Jean Lamb writes: "It is wonderful how MZB has encouraged new writers (even me!). We can't pay it back, though, we can remember to pay it forward by encouraging those even newer than ourselves." Bradley responds: "No, Icouldn't pay back Henry Kuttner, Catherine Moore, Leigh Brackett, Randall Garrett, et a!., so I'm passing iton to Juanita Coulson, Diana Paxson, Mercedes Lackey, Susan Schwarz, and such. The list of writers I'v eencouraged will never be as long as Don Wollheim's. Go thou and do likewise."
- When a fan asks when Contraband and "Return to Darkover" will be released, Bradley responds: "'Contraband' hasn't been written yet. 'Return to Darkover' is half done. 'Re-Discovery' is being rewritten by Mercedes Lackey, whose approach to Darkover is a lot like mine. But she has other books to finish first. I am working on 'Return to Darkover' -- so far I think it's pretty good."
Bradley's Letter from MZB talks of her relief at getting through the year without a stroke or heart attack, that Greyhaven escaped the firestorms in the area, her ex-husband is in jail, and that she still loves reading the slush pile:
Bradley mentions her daughter has given her a tape of the Rivendell Suite:This past year has made it clear to me what the Chinese philosopher meant when he described "May you live in interesting times" as a curse. By any standards 1991 was an interesting year; not only for House Greenwalls, but for the whole Bay Area. I finally got through a year without either a heart attack or a stroke. By now, the only lasting effects seem to be to my throat, but even that is substantially improved; I have one or two coughing fits a day rather than a dozen, and that's improving all the time. Moreover I can even go downtown to lunch without taking my cane. The main reason I take it is because some drivers in Berkeley, when the light changes and pedestrians speed up to get out of the crosswalk, put on a burst of speed for the fun of seeing the pedestrians scatter madly. The cane tips people off that I can't simply leap out of the way.
One piece of news is not so good. My ex-husband Walter Breen's fate has been much discussed; yes, he is in jail on charges of child molesting. He pled guilty to one count of "Lewd or lascivious acts with a child under age 14" [PC 288(a)] at his trial last year and got probation. But when another little boy complained, his probation was revoked, and he is now in jail pending another trial.
[snipped]Thankfully I have never lost my taste for reading the slush pile; most of the time it's a pain in the neck and the seat — but what would it do if I did lose patience with it? At one convention this year a panel of editors -- including me — agreed that when you actually discovered something good in it, there was no high like it. And it's neither immoral, illegal, nor fattening.
A fan ("Cassandra Silverpen") writes a parody of a fan letter, one that incorporates all the worst attributes of a fan letter Bradley said in an earlier issue that she regularly receives:On the good side of the news, my daughter Moira is earning her living with harp-and-folksong gigs. Some of you saw her at Mythcon, where she sang some exquisite music. Moira is doing very well now, and my best present this Christmas was a tape of the Rivendell Suite (a group of songs I wrote some years ago to words by Tolkien), recorded by my foster son Kristoph Klover, on which Moira sang Galadriel's song to her own harp arrangement. Most of the songs were arranged by Kristoph's wife Margaret Davis, who did truly beautiful arrangements. I have VERY talented children.
A fan says Bradley has feminist fans:I am a beautiful woman trapped in a male body, but am really a woman at heart! I have become a Free Amazon and have adopted Marion as my Guildmother! An honor which I KNOW she will feel honor-bound to accept.
I am also the re-incamation of Morgan Le Fay, and have legally changed my name to Morgaine nlia Ygraine. I have a short story that I KNOW Marion will HAVE to accept because I am a woman at heart and we women MUST support each other without such patriarchal oppression as applying STANDARDS!
I am writing her to INSIST that she cast me as Morgaine in the movie of MISTS OF AVALON, since I look EXACTLY like Morgaine and am directly descended from Modred's daughter and Prince Valiant's son!
I have enclosed my screenplay treatment of MISTS OF AVALON. I KNOW she will have to accept it because of her obligation to me as my Guildmother, so rush it to her RIGHT AWAY. I have sent it registered, certified, and Special Delivery. Besides, my only other competition is a horrible, macho MALE, and I KNOW such a great priestess would NEVER so betray her sex as to give HIM the job! I do apologise for the poor typing, ribbon, and print, but I can't afford a new ribbon, and the dot-matrix printer a client gave me in lieu of a fee is SO reliable when you don't try to make it print over the print, if you know what I mean.
And I KNOW she will be delighted to hear that the Dischordians, my filk-and-pun group, has written a heavy metal rock-opera score for MISTS: tapes enclosed. I have guessed at the postage, so if it arrives Postage Due, well, you people are rich enough not to worry about a few cents, aren't you?I am coming out to Berkeley at Hallowe'en and I'm sure you all will be DELIGHTED to have me as a house guest. May I bring my UFO contactees and channels? Sincerely yours, Cassandra Silverpen. [Bradley comments in this issue that she thought the letter was real until the third paragraph. In the next issue, she says differently, that she thought it was a serious letter until she found out Patricia Mathews wrote it.]
A fan writes a long letter, one with many details of Bradley's Darkover inconsistencies, and with many detailed suggestions of his own. He writes: " . . You have so many good ideas, but it wouldn't hurt . . . lo redo some of the earlier stories to fit into the Darkover context and to grow some of the people introduced. It would be good also in the second edition of all the books, to bring people from the previous book into the next one, as background people. Certainly any person important at all would be known by anyone else important in such a small population." Bradley responds:I think you must be pulling our leg when you sound so bitter about "feminism." Surely you know that you are the "Number One Feminist" for thousands of women. You are certainly my favorite feminist. Anything that reinforces strong, independent, thinking women, and women working together is a boon to the feminist movement. Don't ever think that because one (or one million) feminist doesn't like your style that means you aren't a feminist. Of course you are! I know quite a few young women today who say they couldn't have made it through growing up if they hadn't had Darkover and those wonderful strong Amazons to relate to. In fact, it was one of these women who introduced me to your work. You've got fans, MZB, feminist fans you'll never even hear about.
This is the kind of letter that drives me frantic. I always feel like saying, "So write a book of your own." I am not overly fond of Joanna Russ's work, but I give her full credit, because instead of asking me to rewrite Darkover Landfall for what some women called its anti-feminist orientation, she wrote her own approach to the story, where a woman chose for them all to die rather than "become childbearers"! My own feeling is that with survival at stake, the common good outweighs personal convenience or feminist politics. As for rewriting Sword of Aldones, I did - find Sharra's Exile. No, I'll never re-do the others, though the rewritten The Bloody Sun is better than the original. But rewriting full-length novels for consistency of this kind is very low on my list of priorities. By all means, write your own book or series, and show me up for the inconsistent idiot that I am.
Issue 56 (March 1992)
Darkover Newsletter 56 was published in March 1992 and contains 22 pages.
- The editor has some writing tips and reviews some computer creative writing programs; she reviews Plots Unlimited, First Aid for Writers, Collaborator, and StoryLine.
- This issue contains a logic puzzle.
- There is a lovely memorial written by Diann Partridge for John Shimwell who died December 21, 1991. Shimwell had written Darkovan Dictionary as well as The Sime/Gen Concordance.
- Bradley writes: "One of my pet peeves is historical is twelfth-century women behaving like twentieth-centry women's lib types. 'Nuf said."
- A fan writes a long letter defending Bradley against nitpickers. He says: "Unfortunately, I have found that one of the most consistent truths concerning people fascinated by picayune details is that they make dreadful authors; they get so wrapped up in making everything consistent, possible, and likely that their characters seem like cardboard, their worlds turn out tedious, and their stories are so predictable as to dissuade even the most determined readers from reaching THE END." Ann Sharp has a long thoughtful response. Bradley writes: "I have a standard rejection slip which says. 'This is a very good idea. But unfortunately stories are not about ideas. They're about people. So add some interesting characters'."
A fan writes that he was disappointed in a book Bradley co-authored with Andre Norton (and others):
Bradley comments on all the books that she's sent asking for some comments or blurbs. She writes that if the book hasn't grabbed her by the first chapter or so, it's just not going to, and she doesn't have time to mess around with that stuff anymore:I was disappointed in 'Black Trillium', it wasn't up to your standard — too much description at the beginning (so it was slow in pace), and I objected very much to using action as horrific as the quartering of the live King, which struck me as a feeble device of an inadequate stylist to convince the readers that the bad guys were bad. Even with that, this part of the story was unconvincing, and I'd bet that you didn't write it. Indeed, since I didn't get interested til after page 300, I'd bet you didn't write much of the beginning of the book—but did write the ending, which was far better written and much more in your very capable style. [Bradley responds: "I had the stroke during 'Black Trillium.' Both Andre Norton and I made it clear that the book was fantasy and not science fiction and Julian May put all kinds of science fiction cliches in it. Both Andre and I were unhappy -- we were unable to protest effectively... my collaborators did what they thought best for it. I feel like a fake for signing a copy."]  
Bradley includes the submission guidelines for the next DAW Darkover Anthology, and the deadline for them is August 1, 1992. An excerpt from the guidelines:
It seems that almost every week since I became fairly well known in the world of fantasy and science fiction, what literary types call "speculative fiction", somebody has sent me either a shiny new book or a manuscript to read "... and if you could say something nice about it that we could quote on the cover..." Now, this is terrific, but it has a down side. First, if I read all those books, I'd never have time to write anything of my own. Secondly, most of these books are not precisely — how can I say this — on my wave length. For an awful lot of them, the best I could say is "This book did not appeal to me; therefore, it should be wonderful for the many people who think that my head is in a place where — to put it politely — the sun never shines." But that isn't what they want; what they really want to hear is that I thought it was a sure shot for the next Nebula, Hugo, and/or (preferably "and") J.W. Campbell award; that it's in a class with Mary Renault, Ursula LeGuin, or Diana L. Paxson. Or preferably all three.And all too often, if I were reading it for my own magazine, I'd read two or three pages, and say, "This hasn't hooked me yet. It should be fine for professor types," and kindly — even mercifully — not say further what I think of it. In a perfect world, readers would say, "If MZB hated it, it must be pretty good." But publishers really don't want people to have to think that through. They just want praise.
On August 1, 1992, I shall begin reading stories for a new anthology of Darkover short stories. Stories received before that date will be returned unread. Free Amazon stories are okay this year, but Iwant other types of stories as well. As always, I want strongly-plotted action stories and 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 criteria I will use for these stories are these: 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.
Taboos: sex is welcome if it's in 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, no heat waves in the Hellers. You cannot bring Jaelle back to life, and Dorilys of STORMQUEEN is off limits.Original stories only please- if your story has been printed in a fanzine, I've already seen and considered it.
Issue 57 (June 1992)
Darkover Newsletter 57 was published in June 1992 and contains 18 pages.
- There are more writing tips from the editor about dialogue and structure.
- There are several letters by fans which discuss spirit guides and other similar matters. Two of Bradley's comments: "One should be aware of the New Aga types who encourage junk such as channelling." And "Some day I should write a book about my own ESP experiences and my son David's as a poltergeist -- but no one would believe it, any more than people believed Whitley Streiber about his experiences with extra-terrestrials. I tend to believe it -- Strieber has written enough science-fiction best-sellers that if he just wanted to tell tall tales, he could right better ones."
- Bradley writes: "I did almost no "research" for Mists of Avalon -- I just used what I knew from a lifetime's reading about pre-medieval societies."
- A fan tells Bradley: " I have seen and read your other books, and I can well sympathize with an author's wish to move onto something new. Nevertheless, you have caught the imaginations of so many of us with the Darkover mystique,and I'm truly intrigued with the place. So I do hope you won't abandon Darkover completely. [snipped] So please don't give it up, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and do encourage your proteges to keep writing it too. I gobble it up." Bradley replied: "When I get tired of Darkover, I'll be tired of life."
- Jean Lamb has a letter. Some comments from it: "I was very sad to hear of John Shimwell's death. I found his casta dictionary extremely helpful while writing Masks." She also writes: "Ican understand MZB's impatience with people who say they have a great idea for a story. Don't we all! I regularly have to hit some of them over the head and tell them to SHUT UP while I'M busy working on some other story." She also writes: "Glad to see there'll be another Darkover anthology - already have one started. I just wish that there were more markets for short original-universe sword and sorcery! (You and Dragon are it in the prozine range, alas!)."
- There is a recipe for "Ordinary Nut-Cake" along with a discussion on sweetening agents for cake (Would they use honey? Sugar? Yams? Turnips?)"
- Bradley writes "I never know what books I'm going to write until I've written them. At present, I'm finishing up 'Return to Darkover' and beginning Contraband, about Rafael Hustur and Rafael Syrtis from 'The Hawkmaster's Son' in 'Keeper's Price.'"'
- Bradley again includes her submission guidelines for the next DAW Darkover Anthology, this time giving it the name "Snows of Darkover." She repeats all the same restrictions and requests, and includes this line as well: "Original stories only please -- if your story has been printed in a fanzine, I've already seen and considered it."
While not mentioned by name, Masks (the Darkover novel by Jean Lamb that makes up the entirety of Moon Phases #12) would be published in less than month. Bradley almost certainly had been involved in offstage communications and deal-making regarding its existence. In this issue of the newsletter, Bradley includes a one-page oddity that appears to be a bitter metaphoric commentary regarding publishing in general, and perhaps the the upcoming controversy regarding the fanfic "Masks". It is called "It's Getting Dark on Darkover." --
Bradley's Letter from MZB mentions The Mists of Avalon, but is mostly about how she enjoyed the movie and book "The Silence of the Lambs":
Dusk was falling over the mountain city with a purplish light, and a pervasive scent of hot winds, sand, dead cities and cold boiled cabbage. Along the barren stony street a woman came walking.
I could understand her, of course; I'd been on Darkover for a whole month, and naturally the subtleties of the culture are as an open book to me; that's why I enrolled in the Space Service, after all. It would hardly make sense to go to an alien culture if you had to take any time learning about it; that would break all the rules. I had, of course, everything I needed for the hero business: I was a white male Northern European, and of course they fit in everywhere. I was six feet tall, blond and handsome, not to mention heterosexual; anything else could get me banned in libraries all over the country.
The girl at my feet wore - in defiance of all sanity and good sense - two little strips of pure white leather. Never mind that after a day's adventures they would be neither soft nor white; they'd look good on the cover and that's all that counts. She also wore boots with high heels halfway up her leg; if it wasnt written in, they'd put these stupid boots on the cover anyhow, and this way it saved them the trouble of reading the story; everybody knows artists can't read.
So I pulled out my trusty rocket blaster, and shot the girl through the heart.
She whispered, dying, "It wasn't supposed to end this way.""Too bad, baby," I whispered. It was getting awfully dark on Darkover.
All my adult life I have heard writing instructors and editors inveigh against what they call self-indulgent writing. I have even heard it articulated this way: "if you find yourself writing something that you think is particularly good, take it out." Disciplined, perhaps over-disciplined, by the hyper-strict parameters of the fifties and pulp fiction, I have become suspicious of this kind of thing. I remember that I underwent a major crisis of confidence while a book of mine which became a runaway best-seller was in my agent's hands. Reading the manuscript over I thought, "This is either a masterpiece or the greatest heap of you-know-what ever piled up in one spot." I had not yet overcome that feeling when I discovered that it was on the best-seller list of the NY TIMES. Not that I am so impressed by best-seller lists, considering what's usually on them, but it meant something to me that so many people were reading and enjoying something I wrote. But recently when I read the best-selling thriller THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and then saw the movie, I began to get a handle on what was meant by it. Not only was it a very good read, it made a wonderful and entertaining movie, and usually, if I've liked a book, I don't care for the movie; my own imagination does much better than a bunch of Hollywood special effects.
Issue 58 (September 1992)
Darkover Newsletter 58 was published in September 1992 and contains 20 pages. This issue was a bombshell issue for most fans.
- This issue is unique in that Elisabeth Waters is not included on staff, nor is she included on #59. The staff is listed as "Marion Zimmer Bradley, founder of the universe and resident guru. Ann Sharp, newsletter editor, Paul Reyes, consultant." Paul Reye's contribution turns out to be some information about Darkover swords.
- This issue contains a release form for fiction, and it is in response to Holes in My Yard. The release form printed in this newsletter is not the first time fans have been aware of it, nor assumedly, Bradley's new stance on fan fiction, meaning she must have been sending it to fans in the mail before the issue of this newsletter was published. A fan writes: "Enclosed please find my release form for my short story... Thanks so much for sending it along to me, and for the accompanying note of explanation. I've long wondered if your generosity in letting other writers 'play' on Darkover had ever resulted in lawsuits or bad feelings."
- Some other proof that this release form, and the need for it, has been in circulation for a while is this fan's statement: "The release form signed and enclosed herewith. The life of simplicity is gone, I gather, alas. I'm sorry to see it so, but for everyone's protection this will have to be. What happens to a zine like Nina Boal's Moon Phases, which is devoted exclusively to Darkover material, and to which I for one have submitted a rejected Darkover story from last year? I, for one, do not want in any way to encroach upon Darkover, only to play in it now and then. Your encouragement of new writers is extraordinary and we benefit from your wisdom. If any writer has encroached or attempted to claim material to which they are not entitled as a result of your goodness to writers, a pox upon such a one." Bradley responds: "I'll await our lawyer's answer with equally baited breath. I'm naive -- I just wanted to share my fun. The "Letter from MZB" tells the story as I see it."
- A fan writes that "The newsletter continues to be a delight, and I congratulate all involved on producing a entertaining publication. As a writer, I am particularly grateful that you carry notifications and guidelines for upcoming Bradley anthologies. Continuing my subscription just for those would be worth it. As far as I'm concerned, I'm getting double value."
- Bradley mentions the depository library for her work in this issue, the Mugar Library in Boston. This is the second mention by her in this newsletter, the first being in September 1991. Patricia Mathews writes: "A while back, somebody mentioned a library MZB wanted her papers donated to... I have a fair collection of MZB memorabilia, mostly manuscripts and correspondence, and quite frankly, I don't think my heirs have enough sense to value it." Mathews also writes: "Also, I have read, understood, and accept the releases you sent for the two Darkover stories submitted to you for "Snows of Darkover." If you reject those stories, may I submit them to a Darkover fanzine?, If so, what releases or disclaimers do yo wish to accompany them?" Bradley gives her the library's address and adds: "As for the short-story releases, I await the answer from my lawyer, and will pass it along. At least you have developed independent selling ability -- I read your story in Andre Norton's anthology."
- Bradley writes a response to a fan's letter of whether or not Bradley is a feminist: "I may have been a feminist -- but where were all those feminists when I could have used some support? The girls in my school told me (as they'd no doubt been told themselves) that I shouldn't get good marks (it 'showed up' the boys and hurt their egos) and I should read less and dance more."
- There is a satirical letter by a fake Mary Sue, with the editor's response.
- This issue contains a logic puzzle.
A fan writes a happy, glowing letter to Bradley about Darkover and very, very much wants to join a guild house. She asks if there are any around, especially one in Berkeley. Bradley responds that there isn't, and that "I think they grew up." Ann Sharp's answer is long. Some excerpts:
There is a letter by Deborah Wheeler (who went on to write the Darkover books after Bradley died) about Guild Houses that was originally printed in "Darkover Newsletter" #38. It is reprinted here. Ann Sharp calls it the best letter they ever received about it, and the only letter the newsletter ever reprinted. One excerpt:There has never been a Guild House in Berkeley. The subject does come up from time to time in Relays and in MZB's correspondence. I am a little tart about this, as so far, I have not seen any successful Guild House organization -- as distinguished from women rooming together -- in the United States which lasted more than a few years...
There seemed to be reasonably workable college co-ops but, of course, were not lifetime commitments and did not include formal oaths.I have learned of older, self-styled Amazons "living in a Guild House" "with freeman" (i.e. POSSLQ ) "entering into a Forbidden-Tower type relationship (with or without freeman, but with another couple), and practicing Wicca. Simultaneously. At the time of writing, these Amazons were dealing with the abusive ex-freemate demanding child custody on the grounds that their Guild House was a Satanic lesbian cult: the women planned to produce their back issues of fanzines and DNL's in court to justify their lifestyle. Realistically, we are more likely to hear about things going wrong in a Terran attempt to create a Guild House than things going right. It is important to remember that you are living on Terra -- not Darkover -- in the socially primitive twentieth century.
This issue contains the famous "Holes in My Yard," and it constitutes the entirety of the Letter from MZB: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. [Bradley responds: "I feel that my personal oath -- in an occult order -- to treat all women as mother, sister, daughter -- is good, but one can be taken in.... I had an oath-daughter I had to throw out. I still regret it; I was really fond of her. But then, the men I married prove I'm a patsy. If I sound bitter, It's only because I am."]
Ann Sharp includes an afterward to Holes in My Yard:I've finished 'Rediscovery' (which should be out in hard cover next April) and 'Return to Darkover,' the sequel to 'Heritage of Hastur' and 'Sharra's Exile." My next project was going to be 'Contraband,' the novel about Dyan Ardais I mentioned in the introduction to Elisabeth Water's story 'A Proper Escort' in 'Renunciates of Darkover.' Unfortunately, my decades of encouraging young writers and allowing fans to 'play in my yard' just caught up to me. Somebody had written a fan novel covering the same time period, and I had read it. It used my characters, sometimes in ways I wouldn't have, but it also contained a few ideas I liked, so I offered the author a reasonable sum of money (about one sixth of what she would have received as the advance of a first novel) and an acknowledgment in the dedication for incorporating those ideas (not her writing) into my book. I offered this even though ideas cannot be copyrighted, because I have never believed in taking advantage of my fans.
She wrote back saying that, while she could live with the monetary compensation Id offered, what she wanted was a shared byline. It might be that she thought I was asking to collaborate with her, although I cannot imagine what in my letter could have possibly given her that impression. Since I got her letter just as I was leaving for Westercon, I asked my secretary Lisa to call and see if she could clarify the situation. Lisa did her best, pointing out that this was essentially the same deal I made with Jacqueline Lichtenberg on 'Thendara House,' but unfortunately this person still did not seem willing to accept the deal.
I talked to Betsy Wollheim, my editor at DAW Books, who says the only person she would agree to have me share a byline on a Darkover novel with is Mercedes Lackey, who has collaborated with me on my last two Darkover novels, and is the writer to whom I am leaving the series when I am no longer able to write it. Betsy also says that, under the circumstances, DAW cannot publish 'Contraband.' She was kind enough to refrain from pointing out that I had been an idiot to read fan fiction set in my world without a legal release form. I have, however, agreed to refrain from such behavior in the future.
From now on, the only Darkover material I will read is anthology submissions accompanied by the proper release form. (Send a SASE for guidelines and the release form before submitting to any Darkover anthology.) If you publish a Darkover fanzine, run an APA etc., do NOT send me copies. They will be returned unread by my office staff. (Instead, send any courtesy copies you would have previously sent to me directly to Dr. Howard B. Gotlieb, Special Collections, Mugar Library, 771 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, 02215. This is the depository for the 'Marion Zimmer Bradley Collection, and your work will contribute to making the collection more complete.)I'm sorry that things have come to this. I never wanted to have to keep a "professional distance" from my fans, and for more than twenty years I didn't need to. But I guess even the longest streak of good luck runs out eventually, and sometimes one bad apple does spoil the whole barrel. I regret having to give up a novel that I had already started work on, and I apologize to all of you who wanted to read it. --Signed Marion Zimmer Bradley.
The fate of the Darkover fanzines, and of stories Marion Zimmer Bradley does not buy for the anthologies, is still being researched by Mrs. Bradley's lawyer. The person who started this problem has received a cease-and-desist order from Mrs. Bradley's lawyer. If she continues to distribute her Darkover material or writes any further Darkover material, there will be serious legal consequences, both for her and any fanzine or APA editors who may publish her material. We will keep readers abreast of further developments. -- Signed, Ann Sharp.
Issue 59 (December 1992)
Darkover Newsletter 59 was published in December 1992 and contains 16 pages. The staff is listed as "Marion Zimmer Bradley, prime mover of the universe and resident guru. Ann Sharp, newsletter editor, Paul Reyes, consultant."
- The editor writes of the history of Terran Christmas, with a few mentions of Darkover.
- A fan asks if the play "'Free Amazons of the Gor' was ever produced? If so, was there ever a script produced?" The editor, Ann Sharp, responds that this was a fan skit last produced at Fantasy Worlds Convention in 1985, and that the editor was one of the Amazons. "I remember it chiefly for the costumes, because all the Amazons, including me, actually wore bronze brassieres... It took two people to bale me into it and the leather thongs that kept in place were rather uncomfortable -- but it certainly looked 'authentic.'" She adds that the script has "probably been sent to the Marion Zimmer Bradley Collection, at Mugar Memorial Library, Boston University."
- There is a logic puzzle in this issue.
A fan writes about the Bradley's release form (published in the previous issue), of Darkover fan writing, and of Contraband:
Bradley responds to a fan's letter regarding future Darkover books:
Thank you for responding to my inquiry about the reasons behind the need for the "release" form. I was saddened to learn that someone would so abuse your good will and also disappointed that Contraband won't be published. I was looking forward to reading it. If it's any consolation (I suspect it probably isn't) you are more than welcome to take any of the ideas I've used in my series of Darkover stories and incorporate them into a sequel to Stormqueen, should you decide to write one. Far from threatening lawsuits, I would be thrilled.
... In my four years of submitting stories to you, I've never written anything but the most business-like of cover letters, as I know you don't like long personal ramblings. This time, though, I beg your indulgence. The letter you sent with the release form was a bit chilling, not that I have any qualms about signing the release—I don't; Darkover is yours; I've always known that. But in the letter, you raise the possibility of calling an end to these anthologies, and I would hate to see that happen. I love writing stories in this world. Getting my first story published in Domains of Darkover meant quite a lot to me, and I'm sure there are many, many other aspiring writers who have felt the same way. I have since sold you several stories for your other projects, but the Darkover work remains my favorite. Losing the opportunity to write Darkover stories would be something like losing a friend.I've always found you to be an extremely fair editor, and I hope the release is only a precaution, that you haven't already had legal problems because of the Darkover anthologies. Here and there, I have encountered a few amateur writers whose opinions about themselves and the publishing world are seriously at odds with reality—people who think their (usually sort of average) ideas are so unique that editors are dying to steal them. I suppose with so many people writing Darkover stories you might have to deal with some of these. For the sake of the rest of your writers, though, I hope you'll find a way through the legal tangle, allowing us to continue to have the joy of writing Darkover stories.l really do hope that Snows of Darkover won't be the last anthology, but whatever happens, I've enjoyed having the opportunity to write in this universe. It's taught me a lot and been fun.
Bradley's Letter from MZB talks of her educational degrees, her diploma "from Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts," fans and non-fans, senses of humor, gullibility, and deciding not to pull the leg of "a former associate of mine, whom I will not further characterize than by saying she is no longer in my orbit" :... I like the possibility of an end to the Darkover anthologies less than anyone, but this year has been a nightmare. The so-called fan causing the trouble was also — along with her husband — quite verbally abusive to Lisa when she called at my request. Now Lisa's room is filled with piles of manuscripts waiting for releases, manuscripts being held for final consideration, releases, blank release forms, cover letters for the release forms, and various sizes of SASE's. [snipped] Lisa is not happy. Lisa says she doesn't deserve the kind of abuse she got from these people, and she's tired of juggling legal forms and wants to work on her own writing. And after thirteen years of working for me, one could argue that she has earned the right to some sort of life and career of her own.
DAW also already has two Darkover anthologies they haven't published yet; Snows of Darkover make three. Towers of Darkover isn't scheduled until September 1993, so when I turn in Snows, DAW will have enough anthologies to get them through 1995. My agent is talking to them about whether they will still want any more Darkover anthologies. And I'm not sure I do.
And my lawyer is still doing research on the matter of fanzine stories and copyright ownership. I feel like Frankenstein's monster facing enraged villagers.So the future of all Darkover short fiction is pretty much up in the air at this point. I wish it weren't so, but that's the situation.
I could have told her, for instance, that I held a degree in Tibetan demonology, or Arthurian studies [from Miskatonic University], and she would - the lady not being a fan — have believed me. Which is why non-fans do not, in general, very often remain very long in my orbit. But just because the lady was not a fan and would probably have believed me - non-fans not understanding the fannish sense of humor (I know of a nun who went to her death believing that Elisabeth Waters really graduated from the Vulcan Science Academy, having seen her wear a "school" t-shirt- and Lisa did try to explain that it was only a tv show). So I confessed to the lady in question that Miskatonic University, as well as its whole faculty and library, existed only in the very fertile imagination of the late Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Maybe it's because I remember how confused I was at fanspeak when I entered fandom at the ripe old age of eighteen. I remember hearing someone make a random mention of "Lovecraft" and wondering if it were a sex book or an instruction book for writing steamy romances. You see, I was young once too, though I tend to forget it when I look in a mirror. Don't we all?
Issue 60 (March 1993)
Darkover Newsletter 60 published in March 1993 and contains 20 pages.
- There are the usual writing tips from the editor.
- There is a sheet of guidelines for Bradley's Fantasy Magazine.
- This issue contains a logic puzzle.
Despite her earlier stated dislike of filks in issues #31 and #32, Bradley writes in her letter that her foster son, Kristoph Klover and his wife are helping her recording a tape of Darkover filk fans. "And because I have often said that filk singing should be done in private by consenting adults, I've called this tape Consenting Adults of Darkover." Bradley adds much more, describing a night at a studio where she sang:
A fan writes:In addition to all the musical expertise, we had a truly wonderful amount of fun in recording. One night we gathered in the studio to record the choruses: the "Dimover National Anthem," a great spoof by Joanne Hedrick, Cynthia McQuillin, and Philip Wayne, and a version of "God Bless the Human Elbow." We all sounded adequately convivial, and since my voice was concealed between two very fine voices — Tracy Blackstone on one hand and Ann Sharp on the other — nobody could hear my much damaged soprano at all. Strokes do dreadful things to the voice, or at least to the breath.
A fan writes:Once again, it seems, some greedy stupid person has managed to mess up something that was operating just fine on trust and honesty. Among other painful consequences, the legal problems mean that no one else will get the wonderful surprise I did when you wrote me to ask ifI'd hke to see my story published in Free Amazons of Darkover. [snipped] Your generosity in letting people play in your world has meant so much! I can well understand that you and Lisa might be sick of the whole mess, but the thought of there being no more Friends of Darkover anthologies is truly depressing. It's some consolation to know that there will be Darkover anthologies at least through 1995; being an incurable optimist, I continue to hope that they can somehow be continued past that.
A fan writes:
I've just finished reading the latest issue of Writer's Digest and send my deepest sympathies to you concerning your Darkover novel and anthologies. If such a thing must happen to anyone, I wish it had not been you. I have enjoyed many of your Darkover novels and look forward to reading the next. I hate to think of anything interfering with the publication of any of your works.
I should have written sooner to tell you how much I admire your writing and how much I appreciate the time you take with manuscripts. Were it not for-the respect ! have for your time, I would send you all my writing just to get your rejection slips. Because I know you have precious little time, though, I will not send you anything I feel you won't find perfect for publication. I am still a novice though, so forgive me if any do not quite meet your expectations, and know I'll look forward to your rejection letter.Again, I'm sorry you're having trouble getting your latest Darkover novel out .... I can only imagine how frustrated and downright angry you must be over the loss of time and effort you put into that manuscript. Surely it surpasses the disappointment I experience with rejection. I, at least, have the consolation that trying again through revision, then another submission, may land me in print (as you know from past experience) .... I hope there are no further delays, and thanks for the advice on fanzines. I hope you don't turn into a misanthrope because of this mess. You are one of the few who show your fellow writers compassion in the world of submissions, and you have millions of fans out here who care about your projects.
I also enjoy your anthologies very much. You have introduced me to several new authors, two of my favorites being Mercedes Lackey and Jennifer Roberson, whose stories I liked so much that I went out and bought all their novels. I was so upset to learn about that person and the trouble she has caused! To think that if you were not so generous as to let people "play in your backyard," (a very apt expression!) that I would not have enjoyed half so much is very upsetting to me. To know that one of your novels will not be published because of this and that your anthologies may stop (I am praying that they don't!), is heartbreaking. I am much more of a reader than a writer, although I have written a few short stories, but to me just to know you thought my ideas had merit would be such an honor, so much more so than any kind of monetary payment!!I sincerely hope you continue to write and edit. I would hate to think of aspiring authors, who, without your generosity and support, would not go on. I have enjoyed your work much more than I can ever put into words, and I sincerely hope you will continue in your writing.
Nian Boal, the editor of Moon Phases (the zine that the controversial story "Masks" was published in) writes:
My main consolation through this whole unfortunate mess has been the number of people who have understood and sympathized with me. [snipped] I'm afraid that Contraband, the novel involved in this unfortunate affair is dead -- at least, for my lifetime. The fan tried to get Mercedes Lackey to read it, but she refused, so it's possible that Misty could write it after my death. I'm leaving the notes I made on it before I read the fan's story.
There will, of course, be other Darkover novels. Rediscovery, which Misty Lackey and I collaborated on, is on bookstore shelves this week, and Misty and I are also collaborating on Return to Darkover, a sequel to Heritage of Hastur and Sharra's Exile. I've finished the first draft of that and Misty now has the second draft so that she can do the second draft. I am currently working on a new Darkover novel, tentatively called Drytown Renegade, which is set shortly after Rediscovery and has Kadarin as a major character.As for future Darkover anthologies, I really don't yet what will happen. DAW has enough to get through 1995. It has been suggested that after that I might do one by invitation one. But I'm afraid that I shall never again be able to open Darkover to new writers.
I want to thank both you and Lisa for your prompt replies to my queries about the continuance of my Darkover fiction fanzine. Moon Phases. I also want to thank you for the trust you have continued to put in me as Moon Phases' editor, throughout the years and also during the present difficult times. I also want to take this opportunity to announce to all Darkover fans that Moon Phases will continue publishing as before. Certain back issues have gone out of print; some of the stories in these back issues will be reprinted in "special editions" some time in the future ....I am overwhelmed at what has happened. I want to offer you my support. I am saddened that Contraband will not be able to be published, and that the Friends of Darkover anthologies may have to be discontinued. I also want to offer my continued gratitude at giving me so much help with my writing. Like Patricia Duffy in DNL 59, I would be thrilled if you chose to utilize any characters or ideas I have used in any Darkover stories I've written. You have been generous in allowing me and other writers to "play" in your universe so that, with your guidance, we could develop needed skills. As you said at Darkover Grand Council, the Friends of Darkover have been like a "family."
- In a 2008 interview, Elisabeth Waters says she "helped" write this book, something that appears to have been more common than originally thought. See Elisabeth Waters Interview. See Ghostwriters and Collaborators
- Ann Sharp was also an editor of "Black Trillium." She replies to this fan's comment with: "I spotted this item after the manuscript had been turned in and it was too late to change."
- "POSSLQ" is an abbreviation (or acronym) for "person of opposite sex sharing living quarters", a term coined in the late 1970s by the United States Census Bureau as part of an effort to more accurately gauge the prevalence of cohabitation in American households." -- Wikipedia