Darkover Newsletter/Issues 61-70

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Issue 61 (June 1993)

front page of issue #61

Darkover Newsletter 61 was published in June 1993 and contains 20 pages.

  • The editor writes at length about a Star Trek: The Next Generation computer creative writing program being developed called "Plots Unlimited" (based on "Plotto," a 1930s pulp novel). She also makes sure there is a mention of copyright. Some o Sharp's criticisms of the game: its high cost, its lack of plot, its genericness, the presence of "female bimbos," inability to switch player genders, no character growth for characters or players. The game's developer wants "the DNL crew to hold a seminar on plotting for the game developers": "A couple of weeks ago I happened to nave a long talk with someone who s working on the latest thing in games, a multi-media game based on Star Trek - The Next Generation. So far, the game software writers have been concentrating, very properly, on getting together the copyrights—if you are a ST-TNG character and appear in this game, every time you turn your head, another round of copyright permissions seems to be required! ... It seems that this particular game is really supposed to break all kinds of new ground in all kinds of ways. For one thing, it will require a special player costing several hundred dollars."
  • There is a parody letter written which pokes fun at over-exuberant fans; the letter is written by "Cassandra Silverpen" and signed "Your MOST devoted fan. The editor reponds in kind and at length.
  • Bradley wrote: "The stories mentioned [by a fan] are prehistoric Darkover books written when I was very young. "The Bloody Sun" I rewrote as an adult—it's not bad. The others I'd just as soon forget."
  • A libertarian fan from Puerto Rico who now lives in New York City writes an angry complaint of how libertarians were portrayed in the book "Rediscovery." Bradley's response is unsympathetic, and a jab: "The trouble is that I've probably met too many of the wrong kind of libertarian; it is probably a waste of breath defending them to me. I never met a Puerto Rican one though -- now that's something."
  • A devout fan writes that he purchased Bradley's and Mercedes Lackey's new book in hardcover and "want to tell you how very much I enjoyed it. Please ignore the pan you received in Locus with justified dignity. I didn't even mind the week I spent surviving on buttered macaroni and iced tea."
  • There is a flyer for Fantasy Worlds Festival 1994.
  • This issue contains a logic puzzle.
  • There is no mention of Walter Breen's very recent death (April 27, 1993). Breen was in prison serving a 12-year sentence regarding eight felony counts of child molestation involving a 13-year-old boy.
A fan writes:
I'm still so steamed about the fact that I won't get to read Contraband. Yes, others respond with sympathy for the waste of your hard work; I am selfishly most upset for my loss. The thought that there is a book by Marion Zimmer Bradley present in the universe... and I'll never get to read it!... well, it's almost intolerable. It just doesn't seem fair that one person acting like an idiot can ruin it for the rest of the world... This leads me to wonder (I'm sure you've looked into this already) whether the fans' contributions were so intrinsic to teh book that the book could not be revised and these contributions removed. I guess that would be a hard thing to prove, though... (Couldn't you just sneak me a copy of 'Contraband'? No one would ever know... Did anyone besides me note the irony of the title and the fate of the book?) [Ann Sharp] replied: "Well in Madame X' defense, I have to say that I'm sure she, and even her husband, who made the actual suggestion to sue if they felt 'Contraband,' when published, had made use of her idea, probably did not realize at the time what the full consequences would be. Ms. Bradley, a professional, knows all too well that the only result of a plagiarism lawsuit is an expense legal education for everyone involved." [Bradley responded]: "You don't feel any worse than I do about 'Contraband.' But sometimes you just have to cut your losses. I couldn't 'sneak you a copy' because I stopped halfway through and tore up the manuscript. Maybe twenty or fifty years from now when Ms. X has crawled back into the woodwork whence she came, I'll try it again, carefully minus any of her ideas."]
Bradley's Letter from MZB describes what a convention is to readers who've never been to a science fiction con, and she proposes doing another Fantasy Worlds Festival in 1994, a con that has been on hiatus for seven years. Bradley's main selling point appears to be meeting a celebrity-writer, and perhaps changing your life:
In the Bay Area, of course, we have more writers per square mile than anywhere else in the world, and our guest of honor will be Mercedes Lackey, who made her debut as a writer in one of the Darkover anthologies, and now is a very well thought of writer of her own work. We also feature big and little name writers and artists so you can buttonhole your favorite professional in a small social setting; this is what conventions started out to be before they got so big and commercial. Naturally at a Star Trek convention with twenty thousand people, you're not too likely to find Bill Shatner sitting around looking lonely at midnight, or, as I did at my first convention, Fritz Leiber alone in the coffeeshop at 5 a.m. for a nearly lonely breakfast. I did, and it changed my life —turned out to be one of the great peak experiences. So find out about this one—who knows? You might meet one of your favorite young or old professionals and find the peak experiences of your life.

Elisabeth Waters explains the con skit called "Free Amazons of Ghor" that was done at several Darkovercons: "'Free Amazons of Ghor' is a musical comedy written in 1979 by Randall Garrett, a science-fiction writer and close friend of MZB's, and Vicki Ann Hevdron, his wife, also a writer. At the time, MZB and John Norman were DAW's two best-selling authors, so the premise of the play is that their fictionalized alter egos. Ms. Bee and Norman Gorman, agree to collaborate on a book, to "rope in both your fans." "Both our fans? Are you implying that we have only one fan each?" Randall wrote the words, and Vicki wrote the music, it was performed at one of the early Darkover Grand Council Meetings on the East Coast as well as several of the Fantasy Worlds Festivals in California.... Time went on. Randall died, to the great sorrow of all who knew him, and MZB was sick for a couple of years, putting the Fantasy Worlds Festival on hiatus. I checked with Randall's agent, Tracy Blackstone, who tells me that "Free Amazons of Ghor" was never published anywhere. Sorry, but those are the breaks. And before anyone tries to persuade us to publish it, permit me to point out that we don't own the rights.}}

Issue 62 (September 1993)

front page of issue #62

Darkover Newsletter 62 was published in September 1993 and contains 26 pages.

  • The editor writes of plot and skeletons and what they tell us about gender roles.
  • Bradley has a conversation with a fan about dogs and says her dog: "has accepted my secretary and the rest of my household as part of her pack. I think my secretary is pack leader probably because she has the fiercest gaze."
  • A fan asks if she could volunteer to read through Bradley's slush piles if it could be of assistance. Bradley responds that "Thank you for offering! I'm happy to be able to say that my health is much improved and, for the most part, I maintain a regular professional schedule. Due to an unfortunate incident last year, I have no current plans to do any more Darkover anthologies. I have never employed anyone else to read my slush pile -- it's the high point of my day."
  • A fan from Israel says that most of her belonging were thrown overboard during a terrible storm at sea: "... the captain despaired of saving the ship, and as a last-ditch effort to keep from gong down, he gave orders to jettison cargo. Seventy-two lifts were thrown overboard. Fifteen belonged to new immigrants to Israel. One was mine." Not only has she lost all her stuff, but her Darkover books are gone.
  • A fan who's been out of touch for a while says: "whatever happened, it seems to have caused a lot of needless trouble and pain, and I am sorry for that. I sincerely hope that the damage will be remedied swiftly and completely."
  • A fan offers to give Bradley a backrub: "MZB, I am sorry to hear that you have not been well. I hope for your swift and complete recovery. I've never been to California, but I could wish to go there for only one reason: to give you one of my back rubs, or as many of them as you might want. It might not be a great help, and I know it would be a small return for all the pleasure and eye-openers your books have given me (especially Mists and City of Sorcery, which I haven't managed to find here yet)—but I wish I could give you one anyway. I've given massages since I was ten years old, and my recipients have liked them; I like to think that you would, too."
  • A fan asks if they will be able to write fan fiction after Bradley dies. "Since Star Trek has survived the demise of its original creator, it seems that Darkover ought to as well. It is just as strong a concept, if not stronger."
  • Elisabeth Waters says several times that the rights to the original Darkover books owned by Ace Books (who let them go out of print), reverted to Bradley, who then resold them to DAW books.
  • A fan writes and praises a Darkover story called 'Darkover Summer Snow" and compliments MZB on the name of the cat in the story. Elisabeth Waters responds by saying this story wasn't by Bradley. "Perhaps it was in a fanzine." [1]
  • This issue has a logic puzzle.
Bradley's Letter from MZB says she has returned from a three-week trip to England, and is crabby about having to read letters asking her where she gets her ideas:
I got my information on the Druids -- or for that matter on anything else. Look people, I'm a novelist. No Darkover fan ever writes me to ask where I got my information about the society on Darkover. They know it's fantasy or at the most science fiction; knowing that, they are willing to believe I made it all up. Basically everybody knows that if it's fantasy or science fiction, I wrote it and I invented it all. I suppose in a way it's a compliment that in my book about Avalon, people write and ask me where I got my information about the rituals of Druids and so forth. They evidently found it so realistic they couldn't believe it was only a novel. Maybe it's because my own knowledge of history is so great... that I now get impatient with people who think I had some mysterious source of knowledge... As for me, my knowledge of Druids is from a study of religion in general. I know how most religions operate... [She goes on to explain that one doesn't have to believe in ghosts to write a convincing ghost story.]
A fan writes and expresses "delight":
I was delighted to see the collection of letters in this DNL about that Person [2] who spoiled it for the rest of us. I hope someone sent her copy. She needs to know just what she has done to so many people in addition to Marion. Where else can we submit stories and get a rejection letter that we keep and cherish? Who else is there to encourage new writers? There are more writers out there, only needing a Marion to give them the boost they need to get started. I wonder how many unwritten/unpublished books will have died aborning because they didn't have MZB to encourage them? There are always the S&S anthologies, and Fantasy, but somehow, playing in Marion's world was special. [The editor responds, giving everyone some confidential information: "The Person's subscription hasn't expired!"]
Ann Sharp has some words about Guild Houses and fans' constant questions about them:
I ve seen Guild House letters -- and MZB has seem many more -- from women who 1) envision the Guild House as a fantasy extension of the old-style girls college dorm, complete with matron/housemother/MAA and a domestic staff so that the heroine doesn t have to do trivial housework; or 2) the single-sex co-op dorm,- or3) an informal club using the Oath as an initiation ... all I can say is, please remember that Terran culture in this century does not provide many, if any, niches for a Guild House, descent reckoned exclusively through the female line, or freemate marriage—but we wouldn t dream of discouraging self—sufficiency! No one is ever completely self-sufficient —we re a social race, we humans —but no one with health and intelligence has to be a drag on family, friends, and neighbors. You can carry your Guild House within yourself, if you have to. Strength of spirit and character are never birthright gifts, I find far more often they're acouired through the School of Hard Knocks, an establishment known for its small number of repeatable courses.
A French fan says she is starting a Darkover newsletter and fan club. She tells Bradley:
Thank you also for putting me on the list to receive the Darkover Newsletter; I am very happy about it and the letter I received was interesting. I quite understand that ou had some problems with one so-called "fan". . .Well . . . I do hope there will not be any misunderstanding between us, being one of your fans!. . . by the way, the first newsletter is pending, but far from being printed! It does not include any quotation of your writings, as I don't yet have any agreement from Mr. Galen.[3] [Bradley replies that she wants the French fan to send copies of the newsletter to the Mugar Library in Boston: "I also ask that you do not publish Darkover fiction (as opposed to non-fiction, articles, letters of comment, etc.). I've had quite a bit of trouble with one of my so-called fans here and have had to stop reading Darkover fiction written by fans."]
A fan says she has a lengthy Darkover novel written and wants to know how she can publish it:

Due to various unforeseen circumstances, I am no longer in the full-time employment I held at the time I began the project, and have begun to work seriously at writing. If there is any hope at all for publication of a major Darkover work by any new writer, I would like someday to complete my trilogy, but it requires a year or two of intensive work. I cannot afford to devote that amount of time to it unless it has some hope of publication and royalties down the road. My plan is to send in an outline of a couple of pages, and a completed opening chapter that has been entered into the computer. This much would give an indication of its content and style, without giving away the story. Much of the story is still in handwritten form and the later two volumes are still only roughed out, and some parts are not yet set down. From time to time I get further ideas and details developed, and scribble some more. In its present form, my story takes place about two hundred years after the latest time sequence of the published works that I have read. Since according to an article I read, Ms. Bradley has worked on some other Darkover novels that are later in chronology than Sharra' s Exile, any details in my book regarding ancestry of my characters and other data could be changed to reflect the content of these new works of hers, should they be completed and published. Since I heard that Marion Zimmer Bradley had been seriously ill, it was largely for that reason that I have been hesitating for some time to send in my official query. Is she still able to receive and assess fan fiction? I am assuming that she would have creative control over what fan stories would be accepted into the canon of the series as long as she is living.

Or, if she is not able to carry on, is there another editor who is assisting her or doing this editing for her? If she is not able to continue, will fans who are in tune with the concept be able, or allowed, to continue to develop the series and create new stories? Since Star Trek has survived the demise of its original creator, it seems to me that Darkover ought to as well. It is just as strong a concept, if not stronger. I am hoping that if someone reads this letter who knows how to proceed with offering the story for publication, that person might be willing to write back with some advice on whom to contact next, and where to write. Thank you. [ Elisabeth Waters answers: "Unfortunately, there is no way that anyone but Mrs. Bradley can get novels or stories set in the Darkover universe published. Darkover is her property and it is a violation of copyright laws to prepare derivative works without the permission of the copyright holder. Due to a very unfortunate incident which occurred last year, Mrs. Bradley is no longer giving anyone permission to write Darkover fiction. It has been more than three years since Mrs. Bradley was last ill, and she continues to write Darkover books herself, so she definitely does not need anyone else to do so. What I would suggest that you do with your novel is to rewrite it so that it is not set on Darkover and does not use any of Mrs. Bradley's characters. Once you are using your own characters in your own universes, you can finish it and sell it. As long as it is set in the Darkover universe, you cannot."]

Issue 63 (December 1993)

front page of issue #63

Darkover Newsletter 63 was published in December 1993 and contains 18 pages.

  • The editor writes of writing and offers tips.
  • Bradley's Letter from MZB is about opera and her opinions about Phantom of the Opera.
  • A fan asks a common question about if there are maps of Darkover, and Bradley responds: "I don't do maps to avoid boxing myself in suppose I needed a city where the map claims a Howling Waste is located?" Ann Sharp notes that "an attempt at a map was made in the Gregg Press edition end papers, but it's very much out of date now."
  • Ann Sharp tells fans that "The professional problems with Darkover anthologies lucky does not, by definition, apply to Sword and Sorceress anthologies, so I hope they will continue to appear as long as readers are interested." Bradley adds: "We're now at number thirteen and still going strong, so [if you have a story] send it in -- but I must warn you that the competition is now fierce."
  • A fan asks about a Friends of Darkover in Germany and the editor writes that it is "Freunde von Darkover' based in Berlin and that its organizer, Hans-Jurgen has done an interesting chronology of Darkover dating B.C. and A.C. (before Compact and after Compact)."
  • There is a long, long, long letter (6 pages, single-spaced) from a fan in Switzerland that discuses Darkover.
  • A fan wants to buy a copy of the Darkover Concordance by "your husband Walter Breen." Elisabeth Waters wrote: "Walter Breen died earlier this year,[4] and I believe that Pennyfarthing Press is no longer in business. In any case, the Concordance was written in the 1970's, so it doesn't cover any of the more recent books, which makes its utility rather limited."
  • Ann Sharp says, tongue-in-cheek: "Not only did I manage to miss the September "Omni",[5] but no one waved it under my nose, either. What is going on while our backs are turned?."
  • Bradley's upcoming con schedule: January 14–16 Rustyon II, Seattle, Washington. March 31-April 3 Norwescon 17, Seattle, Washington. April 22–24 [[Fantasy Worlds Festival, Berkeley, California. May 27–30 Baycon, San Jose, California. July 21–25, ConVersion, Calgary.
  • This issue contains a logic puzzle.
When a fan asks about the book "Black Trillium," Bradley writes a long answer, one that she immediately attributes to Elisabeth Waters. It is an example of how with Bradley's declining health, it is very difficult to know who's words are whose, where those boundaries are, and when they started to be blurred:

Black Trillium was an unusual project The original idea came from an agent in Germany, who thought it would be interesting to have three different writers do a fantasy adventure novel, with each writer doing one of the main characters. So I did Haramis, Andre Norton did Kadiya, and Julian May did Anigel. Julian also wrote the beginning and most of the ending and was the one who took our sections and wove them all together. The biggest problem we had with the book was that Andre and I both think of magic as magic, while in Julian's view magic is ancient technology, which is why the book wound up with both of them.

As I recall, it took us about a year to finish the book, between meeting together, going away to write our sections, sending the sections back and forth, rewriting them so that they didn't contradict what other sections said, rewriting again to make changes the editor wanted .... Writing a novel takes a lot of time. The sequels are easier, since each of us is writing her own.

Even I'm not sure how I really created Haramis. Like all the characters I write about, there's some of me in her; without that I wouldn' t be able to give her believable motivations or have her act in a way that made any sense. Probably the major influence on Haramis was my secretary Elisabeth, who is terribly efficient and organized and always likes to be in control of her environment. She runs my office, my house, and sometimes my life. This varies from being helpful (when I'm on deadline for a book and don't want to be bothered with mundane details) to very annoying (when she organizes the library and I can't find anything without asking her). Like Haramis [a character in "Black Trillium"], she is very intelligent and capable and apt to think that she's always right. Fortunately for all of us, she usually is; and when she isn't, she generally will admit it. But there are certainly times when she isn't easy to live with. Of course, I' m sure there are times when she finds living with me difficult, too. [Elisabeth, of course, wrote much of the above] MZB.

Issue 64 (March 1994)

front page of issue #64

Darkover Newsletter 64 was published in March 1994 and contains 14 pages.

  • A fan, Patricia Mathews, has a eloquent letter about feminism that cites a previous newsletter editorial as being written by Bradley. Ann Sharp tells her: "I can hardly tell you how complimented I am that you're crediting Marion with the editorial... those are actually written by me, Ann." This small exchange illustrates how some fans, perhaps many, were confused regarding who wrote what commentary in the newsletter, and that fans could easily misconstrue someone else's words as being Bradley's words.
  • A fan asks about fanzines and the editor of the newsletter writes that "You will need to to check at conventions," an answer that blatantly side-steps giving the address to the very visible zine, Moon Phases.
  • A fan asks about Darkovan filk songs by "Bettina Holmes & others, Oak, Ash & Thorn music group." Ann Sharp says she's never heard of them.
  • There is the ever-present logic puzzle.
  • When a fan asks for some clarification about the plotting of Darkover books, citing a fairly obvious error, Bradley responds: "Because I have a poor memory, of course... Besides, I didn't make of the list [of Darkover books], so I decline to take responsibility for other's guesses."
A fan is disappointed in Mercedes Lackey's Darkover novel, and also asks where the release form (printed in only one issue of this newsletter) is so that she can send her own fiction to be considered for the next DAW Darkover Anthology:
...I recently read "Rediscovery," but I was disappointed. "Two to Conquer" is probably my favorite of the series. I like flashing swords and smoking lasers in my fiction. Mercedes Lackey is one of my favorite new authors, so I expected her collaboration with Mrs. Bradley would have been a better effort. I rated the book as mediocre. I hope to see better in the future. I have several manuscripts I'd like to send in, but have lost my issue which had the writer's release form in it. Keep up the good work. [Elisabeth Waters replies: "Unfortunately, Mrs. Bradley has no current plans to do any more Darkover anthologies. The release form we used last summer was a stop-gap measure to get us through the one that was currently under contract ("Snows of Darkover," currently scheduled for release in April 1994.) It's really a shame, because Darkover anthologies were a good market for beginners (my first sale was to "The Keeper's Price"), but Mrs. Bradley says that sometimes one bad apple really does spoil the whole barrel."].
The editor bemoans fans who want to start a Guild House, some excerpts:
Every now and then, another letter goes BUMP in MZB's mailbox, and turns out to be from yet another would-be Free Amazon. I (this is Ann, not MZB, speaking) tend to cast my eyes toward the heavens when they arrive, because the odds are heavy that the writer is a sweet young thing assuming that MZB's business office is the headquarters for an international / intergalactic franchise / chain of Guild Houses, or, at the very least, that MZB has a little black book stuffed with addresses of Guild Houses which somehow aren't listed in the Smart Yellow Pages. Many of these letters leave me with the sensation that the writer wants to enjoy the trappings of Free Amazons—a Guild House in downtown Rothenburg with seventeen flowing capes hanging in the cloakroom and someone else doing the housekeeping and cooking. And, while Rothenburg is a gem of a town, my reaction to a Guild House is the classic, "Well, it's nice enough to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." Casting my eyes toward the heavens may be good for me—it exercises my eyeballs by focusing on something farther away than my computer monitor—but it doesn't really address the issue. It's true, MZB writes more about Amazons living in Guild Houses on Darkover than other lifestyles of Amazons, but it's clear that Guild Houses are hardly required living quarters. You don't have to give up a comfortable apartment to hunt up a Guild House or attempt to create one. You don't have to sweep around the neighborhood in a fur-lined wool cape and mukluks all summer. You can dress in easy-care fabrics, comfortable, appropriate styles, and continue to use your dishwasher and lawn mower. You don't have to change your name to something computers can't alphabetize and IRS tax auditors always notice. In fact, it's perfectly possible to carry on as a Free Amazon right here on Terra.
Bradley's Letter from MZB addresses ideas and where they come from:

Where do you get your ideas? I ve several times mentioned that the most common question all writers are aslced is where do you get your ideas? I ve also mentioned that—nineteen times out of twenty—I give a flippant or humorous answer to this perennial nuisance of a question. I answer things like, I keep a little old lady chained up in the basement to think them upt or [ leave a saucer of milk on the back porch. As Stephen King told me once, it doesn t mean anything but it shuts them up. The twentieth time when I m talking either to a fellow writer or to anyone else who might really understand I sometimes try to give a straight answer, trying to give that person some insight into the creative process. Oo, seriously and friends of Darkover are mostly serious people, aren t they? I try to explain where ideas come from. My most flippant answer "I dream them up—is really a very serious one. Like many writers, Conan Doyle, for instance, I get some of my best ideas in dreams, or more likely in what people consider another kind of dreaming, daydreams.

[snipped, much about The Catch Trap, origin dreams about the Darkover novels]
A fan says he has rewritten one of Bradley's poems, says he is sorry about Contraband, offers some suggestions regarding how the controversy could be resolved, and comments on films. Neither Bradley, and Ann Sharp, oddly, take offense at most of this post, but have negative things to say about movies instead:

I do not write fiction, science fiction or otherwise, although the day might come when I will try my hand at it. However I would never write about Darkover, as there is no way that I could write anything that would be in your league. I do feel that I write better poetry than you do, and that is why I reworked "The Ballad of Hastur and Cassilda" for you. The original set my teeth on edge, not because of the content but because of the metrical disaster involved. To each his own (or her own) is a valid proposition.

I am sorry about Contraband, as I have always wondered why you didn't do a book about Regis's father and Danilo's brother. It is too bad that some people play dog in the manger, but that's life. I don't understand, though, why you couldn't do the story without reaching the ending. Everybody knows that the ability to see the future or many futures was a Hastur donas, so why not do the story, and end it with a foreseeing of consequences but not the actual circumstances of the last battlefield scene. Perhaps I am just being naive, but it seems to me that that would resolve any claim this outer party might have to credit for the story. I am not a fanzine person normally—one thing is that I am very poor, and cannot afford to subscribe to dozens of magazines. I already subscribe to a number of poetry magazines, since they publish my poems. But I lost my job December 1st, and have had to let several subscriptions lapse already.... I feel, however, that you are the grande dame of science fiction, and that along with Philip Jose Farmer, you are alone at the top of the hill. I would dearly love to see some of your novels made into movies, as they seem especially suited for that medium. The only other science fiction book I feel would be as perfect is The Weapon Shops of Isher, and I still can't understand why nobody has figured out what a blockbuster it could be. Darkover Landfall would make a movie like Gone With the Wind. It has everything for the perfect screenplay. I am sure that many of the others would be just as good. I wish I could write the way you write, but I have little imagination, and simply can't think up the intricate and extraordinary plot lines and fantastic characterization implicit to such awesome writing. They say that science fiction is not popular enough to produce audiences for blockbuster movies. Star Wars, et al., has proved that a canard - not to mention Jurassic Park. Please think about a movie overture, or should I have said endeavor? Anyway, thanks for your time and consideration. P.S. The rewriting of "The Ballad of Hastur and Cassilda" was not an original poem in any case. I simply reworked your previously published poem, so that the rhyme and meter were more acceptable. I fail to see how this could affect your rights, etc., in any way. I am afraid I missed the point, if it was out of "bounds" to do that. [Bradley's response: "Calling me "capable of creating movies" may be an insult; I'm not a big movie person. I never want any of my books to be films. Every time I break down and see a move, I end up wondering... why didn't I read a good book instead?"]

Issue 65 (June 1994)

front page of issue #65

Darkover Newsletter 65 was published in June 1994 and contains 20 pages.

  • The editor writes of food and eating and how it is incorporated well into fiction.
  • The fan who runs the pen pal club drops out, citing lack of time and that she now has a job where she earns a good salary; Bradley asks for volunteers.
  • Bradley says she is working on another Darkover novel called The Forest House," and that she is starting a new book "that fits between Forest House and Mists. At the moment it's called Forests of Avalon, but titles are always subject to change until the book is published."
  • A fan is moving and selling all her Marion Zimmer Bradley stuff.
  • A fan gives Bradley some condolences regarding the recent death of Bradley's mother.
  • A fan wishes she could have purchased "Kristoph Klover and Margaret Davis's Avalon Rising," a filk tape.
  • Ann Sharp tells a fan who wants to connect with other Darkover fans at DragonCon to see a flyer for Darkover Grand Council and then adds: "The most effective way I can think of to attract Darkover fans like iron filings from a haystack would be to attend DragonCon draped in length of red as a veiled Keeper -- if you can find a very party-isa fabric like sparkling tulle, that's about the thing. Tossing kiriseth pollen into the hotel's air conditioner in Atlanta in July runs a distant, very distant third."
  • Bradley writes that "I would like to be Lisa's age again, with the best of my life before me. If I had to do it over again, I'd give Darkover a better climate -- and live there."
  • The editor includes a long, long letter from a fan, telling her that "though your letter is too long to publish in a single issue of DNL, I'm going to excerpt pieces so we can enjoy it in installments. You're the only letter-writer I can ever remember doing this for, too. Reader, read on..." The letter published comments on various Darkover books.
  • A fan writes briefly of her experiences at the last Fantasy Worlds Festival.
  • There is a logic puzzle.
In her Letter from MZB, Bradley talks about aging, death, and the afterlife:
I'm beginning to feel old; which means I am old. [snipped] I doubt if anyone can deny the aging process; but if the old saying is true, that you're as old as you feel,then I'll have to say that I vary between feeling ninety and feeling nineteen; For instance when my left knee, the one I broke, is giving me a prediction of rain more accurate than any weather report, it would be more accurate to say I feel as old as the hills—ninety thousand at least— but when I am soaking in the hot tub, nine would be too old; six, maybe. Survivors of the near death experience, like me -- cardiac arrest when my daughter was born -- also tell much the same story. I've been living on borrowed time since her birth; I'll be content to go whenever the Lord wants me. My own generation are dropping like flies now, and every time someone talks baloney about New Age cliches about simply not accepting the reality of death remember Jonathan Swift's Struldbugs— who lived on, but kept on growing older. Not for me, thanks. Whenever the Lord wants me, I'm ready to go.... I take it the Friends will forgive me for once being caught thinking seriously in public? Or is that the one thing S-F fans won't allow?"
A fan who had a letter in an earlier issue regarding a Darkover novel she'd spent years writing and was told it was now worthless as it used Darkover characters, wrote about that book, and about Contraband:

Thank you for replying to my letter and enclosing the pink sheet explaining the problem with the publisher over Contraband. It is unfortunate that because of this affair no one will get to read that new book. I hope that someday the legal problem will be resolved and the book will come out after all. (A true fan would give it up, rather than kill the author's work.) I am sure that there are many who would want to read it.

I was naturally disappointed (polite understatement) to find how close I came to that missing thai window in rime when stones from fans were getting into print. Since I wrote most of what I wrote was done in the spring of 1991 I wish I had submitted the oudine then. Due to the existence of the anthologies, it appeared at the time that it was all right to develop unsolicited works, and that if they were sent to the originator and owner of the series, acceptance and publication might follow. So by delaying it seems I have missed the boat on which so many others were able to embark because they did it long enough ago. Arrgh. However, of course, she night have rejected my story anyway.

I am only human and cannot help having some hurt feelings, (such as an impulse to throw out the Darkover books I have and never look at another because it would be impossible to shut out of my consciousness the story I invented). Unfortunately my trilogy cannot be convened to any other setting. I of course respect copyright law and no one will ever see that story, but no law cart erase it or the pain I feel from my memory. Only time and my own efforts can do that. I hope that I will soon get over this and waste no further emotional energy grieving for a lost opportunity.

It has been a theory of mine for a long time that if the Darkover books were subjected to a final edit that cleaned up the little grammatical glitches, fewer people would think, "if she makes so many errors and gets published, maybe I can write too". Also all future printings of Darkover books, especially the anthologies, should contain that statement about non-acceptance of stories, to prevent people from getting ideas and washing their time and effort writing them up.

Issue 66 (September 1994)

front page of issue #66

Darkover Newsletter 66 was published in September 1994 and contains 20 pages.

  • This issue has the usual essay on writing by Ann Sharp: subject is the "retribution plot."
  • There are some more excerpts from a fan letter in the previous issue about various Darkover books.
  • Bradley says she is writing 'Return to Darkover' now.
  • A male fan writes: "I noticed an anti-male bias in the Darkover newsletter... There was no sign of it in your books, so I wonder if it's something you have developed lately, or just concealed well." He is the same fan who sent MZB a rewritten "Ballad of Hastur and Cassilda" and writes "I did not ask for credit of any sort, not even so much as the use of my name.... Therefore, I find it odd that you did not take the trouble to even read it... I should realize, at my age, that one's heroes and heroines often have feet of clay, but I expected better from you." The editor responds: "You may not be aware that, as a result of an unfortunate incident two years ago, complete with threatened legal action, MZB has had to forego the pleasure of reading fan material. Any Darkover material sent to her is immediately forwarded by her office staff to the Marion Zimmer Bradley Collection in Boston. MZB never sees it. I am happy to be able to assure you that, if MZB has feet of clay, it is not because she wouldn't LIKE to read everything that comes over the transom!"
  • A fan says she, due to a wildfire, had an hour to pack to flee their house. She packed up her children, her pets, her family photos, and her Darkover books. [Hopefully, it was in that order!].
  • There is a reprint of a long humorous poem from a small press called "Figment" called "O'Connor's Last Quest."
  • This issue contains a logic puzzle.
  • Bradley's list of upcoming cons is short: Darkover Grand Council Meeting and BoucherCon.
Bradley writes in her somewhat disjointed Letter from MZB about slans, being a BNF, science fiction fans looking after their own drunks, how she could probably make good money just being a GOH now, her writing off the purchase of books as tax deductible, alcoholism, and how her father looked in his coffin:
One of the sayings I remember from my early days in fandom, back in the dim dark ages of the early '40's, something in the science fiction of those days, was that fans are (or were) slash - slans bringing one of the mutants created by the book of the same name (SLAN, a novel by A.E. Van Vogt, was published sometime in the forties). There was also a general feeling that fans were eccentric or just plain crazy.

There was also some folklore which said -- and this I proved to be true when giving the early Fantasy Worlds Festivals -- that hotels were afraid of those crazy people at first. but the second or later years, they loved us. We didn't drink that much, so they lost on bottle sales -- but if we drank, we took care of our own drunks and they weren't throwing up or pinching fannies in the lobby -- if a fan got drunk, his own friends were holding his head in the party suite. Also, we made some efforts, since we brought our own families, to keep our kids from joyriding on elevators or riding roughshod over old ladies in the lobby.

In those day, there were not many conventions; certainly I never dreamed that a day would could when I could, if I had the time and money, go to a convention almost every week.

I could probably make a pretty good living traveling around for various conventions as a guest of honor. Even now I am invited to more conventions than my time or health permit me to attend. One of the things that people don't know about me is that I will go anywhere, even in the boondocks, where my expenses are paid. Unlike some writers who shall be nameless, I do not require five hundred dollars -- or any sum whatever-- before stepping on a plane. I rather like going out to the hinterlands because so few professionals come there and the young folks are less jaded.

The nicest thing about being a working professional is that my major vice -- buying books -- is tax deductible. I remember that someone when SFWA was brand new complained that the "real necessities of a writer's life: cigarettes and beer" were not tax deductible.

By that standard, I am not a real writer. The "necessities of my life would be tea and -- if I were not diabetic -- cookies. Which reminds me of a very Big Name Fan in the seventies -- who walked into a panel at a convention -- and asked "When're we going to drop all this fannish stuff (he sued a world much ruder than stuff, but I hate that kind of language) and get down to the serious drinking?" About then I decided this convention was not on my wavelength; there's nothing to discourage "serious drinking" like having an alcoholic parent. The same parent used snuff -- he is dead now, poor soul, and I remember thinking when I saw him in his coffin, dressed in a fine blue suit, that he looked like the handsome father of my earliest memories. I thought what a pity it was that he suit he was wearing was nicer than anything he'd owned in his life. He might otherwise have made it to the 21st century; there are centenarians in my family. But he made his choices, and the consequences came to him.
A fan writes a long letter about the turmoil and enlightenment the Darkover books had on her parents' marriage:
The occasional explosions on Mom's part after being exposed to new ideas, or ideas that she is finally ready for, between the covers of S&S are minor compared to what erupted when she innocently picked up he Shattered Chain.

She read and read, then started making little growly noises at the back of her throat, read some more then started glaring at Dad. Finally she put the book down and started asking me questions. After all, I had read all the Darkover books and had them in my collection so therefore, according to her, I had all the answers. Yeah. Right. Sure. So I gave her the rundown on Darkovan Life in the Domains. I never got to the Dry Towns customs.

It was the spark that lit the short fuse. She exploded. Men were THE ENEMYl They couldn't be trusted; they were all out to enslave women from birth to death and belittle us in every aspect of our lives especially our ability to govern our lives, our homes or businesses, etc. The next four months were sheer hell for my Dad as she took all this rage no one had known she had out on him. She seriously considered changing her name, she moved into a different bedroom, she did to him (as representative of men in general) what she felt men had done to her (as representative of women in general).

I hid my Darkover books; she found them and read them all. I continually reinforced the idea that her life was not like that at all. After all, she ran the family, she worked because she wanted to, she was the finance minister, the master gardener, not Dad. I apologized to Dad and my brother for starting the whole thing.

I found her reaction totally out of character. She and Dad had switched roles many years previous as Dad can't stand 'yard work' or car repair or house repairs. He thinks a screw driver is a drink with orange juice and vodka. In his favor, he makes great split pea soup, knows more about keeping house than most women, and is incredibly sensitive about the most intimate problems kids have during puberty. He also taught me to read and gave me a love of teaming that probably won't quit until I die. On the other hand, Mom taught me all I know about car repair, gardening, and the proper way to install a new window into an existing frame.

She settled down when Dad asked her what he could do to show her that he really didn't want to rule her, that he never had and burst into tears. Dad in tears finally broke the dam on her and they came to an understanding. She moved back into their room, she added her maiden name to her last name (not her mother's name, Nana and she do not see eye to eye) and Dad read the series.

He got a fresh perspective on 'How Women View the World'. He'd forgotten most women weren't like Mom who firmly believes that anything she wants to do she will do. I don't think I've ever seen her not do something she set her mind to. Even the ministry. (Methodist, Diacional. She got sandbagged.)

Thus ends 'Mom meets Darkover". Believe me, the Comyn & the Empire are very glad she's here, not there, since she'd end up running the Council and kicking the Empire in the teeth.

I can't see any losers in this as my parents came out of it with a stronger marriage and better relationship than before. A small victory, perhaps, on the road to people liberation, but one that touched a lot of other couples.

Now, when a new Darkover book comes out, I read it, take it home and wait for it to show back up on the book shelf. I know that both Mom and Dad will read it before it gets put out for general consumption. It will be fuzzy around the edges, well read and thoroughly discussed. It eventually will be loaned out to friends "who need to know" and show up fuzzier, sometimes with tear stains on the pages. I have to admit that sometimes marriages have been shaken up because of this series, though they probably need it.

Issue 67 (December 1994)

front page of issue #67

Darkover Newsletter 67 was published in December 1994 and contains 20 pages.

  • There is an essay on writing by Ann Sharp.
  • Bradley's letter complains about the cost of a stamp, now .32. "The post office, in its Godly all-knowingness, has decided to raise the price of stamps to thirty-two cents per stamp. I could use that as a take off point for a slapstick routine about "I'm getting old—I can still remember the 3-cent stamp." But actually I feel a bit bruised: why is the Government always allied against the forces of literacy? [snipped] That's a little terrifying. Originally our Post Office felt proud to give an infinitesimal subsidy to the forces of Literacy. But now there is a television in almost every home, and they uncover their true colors; don't let people read, they might begin to think for themselves, instead of peacefully absorbing the Government's far-right propaganda. Big Brother, here we come."
  • "The Choosing" by Deborah Awad is a short parody about the Wisewoman of DAW and M'Zeebee.
  • There is some excerpts from the very, very long letter started two issues ago, it includes this exchange: "...I would like to reiterate that I hope someday the legal problem will be resolved, and not only Contraband, but also this [her fan-written] trilogy -- or some better story of similar magnitude -- will come out after all. I am sure that there will be plenty of people around who would want to read not only these but also any more stories that literate and creative fans might write in the limitless future of the Darkover concept." Ann Sharp writes in response: "Well, as explained, MZB's current legal position involves an agreement not to read Darkover fan fiction. She hates this, but that's how things have worked out." Bradley writes in response: "Your story will go to the... Mugar Memorial Library... This is the depository for the 'Marion Zimmer Bradley Collection.' You are free to -- and I would like to see you do this -- use the elements of your story in another work; re-do it on a world you create yourself that no one can take away."
  • Bradley writes: "The Sword of Aldones was originally a juvenile work, cleaned up when Ace Books wanted something in a hurry. I rewrote it as Sharra's Exile, and developed it the wayI thought it should have been done. MZB"
  • There is a announcement about the death of the fan, Paula Crunk: " It might also interest you in knowing that the last three or four weeks she was alive, she spent on Darkover. Her last days were spent calling for Leona asking for the kiss of death."
  • Bradley writes about some costuming she has done in the past: "As for portraying myself as a character in one of my books, actually, no. I once wore a Red Lens woman costume— red leotard, red shorts, a big diffraction grating for the Lens, and I once wore a Keeper's costume, but I'm now too old and professional."
  • Bradley has an essay called "Advice to Young Writers" Among other things, it has one bolded and underlined line: learn to type. A revised version is at: Advice to Young Writers (1980), Archived version
  • This issue contains a logic puzzle.
  • When a fan asks if he can send Bradley a Darkover story he has written, Elisabeth Waters replies: "Unfortunately, there is no way that anyone but Mrs. Bradley can get novels or stories set in the Darkover universe published. Darkover is her property, and it is a violation of copyright laws to prepare derivative works without the permission of the copyright holder. Due to a very unfortunate incident which occurred two years ago, Mrs. Bradley is no longer giving anyone else permission to write Darkover fiction. EW"
Bradley writes of being ordained in a Catholic splinter group and of her two husbands:
It's okay unless you have a marriage where one loves ritual, the other is a charismatic or fundamentalist. Growing up in the 1930's, I like pre-reform Roman Catholicism—Latin and all— but confess this with trepidation. My first husband, Brad, was a contemplative mystic, my second a drop-out from ritual Catholicism; an orphanage run by nuns who stuck in his mind as sadistic. (Later correspondence shows a nice, moderate, elderly lady who remembered Walter with good will, but I remember Walter under hypnotic regression, sobbing like a terrified six-year-old. God knows—literally—and will straighten it all out some day.) I was ordained in a splinter group of reformed Catholics; unfortunately, the bishop was a—well, eccentric. Walter won. I stupidly let myself be ordained. Nothing would have prevented me. Katherine Kurtz found a more legitimate group and was ordained sans trauma. I wish I'd met them first. MZB

Issue 68 (March 1995)

front page of issue #68
"Oath of the Free Amazons -- 1995 -- In a language best understood by those who need it most."

Darkover Newsletter 68 was published in March 1995 and contains 14 pages.

  • See image. This issue includes "Oath of the Free Amazons -- 1995 -- In a language best understood by those who need it most." written by Patricia Anne Myrtis. This is the second time a version of the "Oath of the Free Amazons" has been printed in this newsletter series. The first one was in January 1978, see 1978 "Oath of the Free Amazons" (scroll down for scans)
  • Some German fans are writing a Darkover dictionary and want Bradley's permission to publish it. Bradley said she personally can't give permission for it, but she sent a copy of the letter to her agent, and "he is going to talk to my German publisher about it."
  • There are more excerpts from the letter that has been printed in parts for several issues regarding various Darkover novels.
  • A fan writes about Bradley's books as therapy, and how this could translate to writing: "I first discovered "Darkover" in my early 30's, when "Spell Sword" and "Forbidden Tower" were suggested reading to provide a common reference and starting point for rape trauma counseling. (A very good one, it turned out, since Callista's "Keeper" state [was] very similar to the emotional and physical "shutdown" I experienced.) I also discovered that Mrs.Bradley was very encouraging of new writers."
  • Bradley counsels a fan about rejection, but then provides a example of not following her own advice: "One of the things a would-be writer must learn to take is rejection -- everyone gets it. Only when I got an agent did it cushion the blows a little. A writer must be very sensitive or she can't write -- yet must cultivate rhinoceros hide or rejections can destroy her. Mention of Callista reminds me of a painful little review by Jessica Somebody-or-other, when she referred to "the psychogynecological problems of Callista," a fortuitous phrase; image an American medical journal Journal of Psychogynecology!" Bradley is referring to a review in a 1977 Publisher's Weekly, something she is still apparently angry about almost twenty years later.[6]
  • Bradley's con appearances (now a rarity) are Magic Carpet Con April 27-May 1 in Dalton, GA and BayCon May 26–29 in San Jose, CA.
  • A fan writes about how she understands that Bradley's Darkover books are quite inconsistent with each other regarding geography and more, something that Bradley has addressed in the past, but she also notices big inconsistencies in individual books. Bradley's response: "I think I was always careless about time. There are to approaches to time, first the nervous antsy slaves of the clock (as a Terran, I am one), and the second easy approach of never giving a damn --which is much better."
  • This issue contains a logic puzzle.
  • Bradley says her favorite books now are by Ursula LeGuin, Dick Frances, and Diana Paxson.
There is an essay by Ann Sharp on writing fiction, and it appears that everyone is getting tired of the publishing game. It begins with:
Every very now and then, and also last Saturday night, my drab-and-nonstop week has been considerably livened by something which has recently bumped into Marion s mail box. I his time it was an uncorrected proof copy of a forthcoming novel, sent by its editor in hopes that Marion would read it and find something delightful to say about it, preferably something that would quadruple its sales. As you may have noticed, one of the obligatory inclusions on book covers in the last few years is the flattering quotation from Famous Name and one of the consequent demands on the time of the Famous Name family is reading the manuscripts of first-book authors. Isn t it lucky that you don't become a Famous Name Author if you don t love reading even better than television?

[snipped]

Take Forthcoming Novel. What warmhearted person could resist the sweet, rather virginal, girlish dinosaur with exceptionally attractive red snout markings and great legs GREAT LEGS? How touching

the first tentative romantic overatures, when he waved his neck at her . . . . Who could fail to sympathize with the sweet, somewhat inexperienced, but likable male dinosaur, not-quite-seduced in the not-quite-seduction scene on page 99, , as the viewpoint shifted from female to female to female to female ... to male. Me was a little overwhelmed. Or was I. I haven t read the book from cover to cover yet, but the back cover promises a consequential climax on a snowy mountain peak. I feel sure that there will be a happy ending. Who can doubt that the earth trembles when Utahraptors fall in love?
Bradley's Letter from MZB addresses slush piles, something that in previous issues, she has said she would never get tired of reading:[7]
It seems that at length I am finally getting fed up with the slush pile.

Let me explain myself. I am not tired of the slush pile as such, but the stuff which comes in weekly from people who have never read and will never read my guidelines, people who brag of never having read my magazine. I don't, of course, mean the people who cannot find a copy on the stands; for their sakes, we have a special rate for writers on back issues. WRITE TO US and ASK FOR GUIDELINES. The guidelines were not created to tell us what to publish, they were created to help writers and would-be writers avoid wasting time and postage by sending stories we can't possibly use. A writer really shouldn't assume that we can use ANY story that's beautifully written and very well put together ... in fact, perfect... for some other market Just because it's perfect for the old STARTLING STORIES or even for ANALOG does not mean it's right for me. All too often it's a perfectly good story... for someone else.

One of the most common rejections is "STORY NOT SUITABLE." I often add a little note suggesting another market, or in the case of an obviously amateur manuscript, I simply say, "NOT PROFESSIONAL," and leave it at that. Is that your clue to sob on your pillow and quit the field forever? There are people who would profit spiritually from collecting stamps, or Cabbage Patch dolls or even teddy bears; but there are people by the thousands out there who submit one'story, sniff when it's rejected, fade into the woodwork and are never heard of again. (Where do they all go? I think of some movie lot like the old one from Dark Shadows where one-time failed writers hide, clinging together in sinister subways.)

A rejection slip which says "NOT PROFESSIONAL" or even one which says "PREPOSTEROUS," does not mean "GET LOST FOREVER," or even "Go AWAY AND DIE"; it means this particular story wasn't right for me... today. If you want to sell a story to me (I am assuming you are not spending money on postage for fun),

read several issues of the magazine,
send for the guidelines,
read them carefully,
write a story that follows them,
use standard manuscript format,

and send in your NEXT story. I might jump for joy, and print it. And even pay for it.

About half the manuscripts which go bump in my mailbox could be printed, if they found the right market. I'm afraid that for most of the rest, there might be a place, but they haven't dug it yet.
A fan writes of how much she enjoyed Fantasy Worlds Festival '95:
I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all the hard work, enthusiasm, and joy that went into creating and running the '95 Fantasy Worlds Festival. The GOH's were delightful, the panels and panelists were terrific, the entertainment funny and entrancing, and the entire atmosphere very welcoming. This was the first con I'd ever attended, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Elisabeth did an amazing job of keeping everything running. Stephanie's program helped me figure everything out, and toastmistress Dr. Jane kept me laughing. I loved the performance of "Slave Boys of Dimover" and Moira's concert, and enjoyed the chance to finally meet the people attached to names I've admired for years. I had a wonderful time, and am looking forward to next year's event. You have a group of wonderfully creative and helpful people working with and for you, and I greatly envy your getting to spend time with them all year long. Thanks again for the wonderful weekend! [Bradley replies: "I do indeed appreciate the crew here—Moira's a great entertainer. I missed Slave Boys of Dimover— lost my way in the hotel—and it was one thing I especially wanted to see."]

Issue 69 (June 1995)

front page of issue #69

Darkover Newsletter 69 was published in June 1995 and contains 14 pages.

  • There is an essay on writing by Ann Sharp.
  • When a fan asks if there are any newsletters or fanzines about the Free Amazons/Renunicates, Bradley says "There aren't any now, or none that have made themselves known to me."
  • This issue contains a logic puzzle.
  • A fan asks "what is the possibility of getting DNL on IBM disk or tape? Is anything taped? MZB is grossly under-represented in the National Library Service Talking Books." Ann Sharp replies: " Why on disk? That is, MZB has been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the computer age and composes via electron instead of typewriter or pen these days. But reading her golden words on the printed page is ten times less likely to produce a headache as peering at them on a monitor, right? As for Talking Books, you might propose her name and a few choice titles to the local group." Bradley responds: "Most of my serious books -- "Mists of Avalon", "Firebrand," etc., have been done on tape, and I gave permission to print them in Braille, as most writers do. Don t know if any of the Darkovers exist on tape. There are not one, but two taped versions of Mists. Number One has lovely harp music,- I ve never heard the other ."
Bradley writes in her Letter from MZB that this will be the next-to-last newsletter.
This will be the next-to-last issue of the Darkover Newsletter.

I turned 65 this month, which meant a visit to the local Social Security office to sign up for Medicare The man interviewing me asked when I planned to retire, and I promptly replied "Never." I plan to write and edit as long as I live, and I plan to live to see the next millennium. For the record, stories of my ill health, disability, and/or imminent death are greatly exaggerated.

But turning 65 is enough of a milestone to serve as the occasion for some evaluation of what I'm doing with my life. I've been putting out the Darkover Newsletter for seventeen years now. When I started doing it, I wasn't doing as much else as I am now: I wasn't editing my own professional (or semi-professional, depending on your definition) magazine plus two anthologies a year [8] in addition to my writing, And I certainly wasn't as much in demand as a guest at conventions as I later became In fact, there weren't even all that many conventions then.[9]

Seventeen years ago I was just starting serious research for The Mists of Avalon, I'd written only eleven of the twenty Darkover books now finished (I still have three more in various stages of development), and I hadn't edited any anthologies. My life has certainly changed since then.

One of the biggest changes over the last few years has been Marion Zimmer Bradley's FANTASY Magazine. When I first proposed that I start my own professional magazine, back in 1987, my secretary Elisabeth's prompt response was "You and what army?" (Of course, she knew what army, even though she has frequently pointed out that if she wanted to work for a magazine, she would have stayed at Locus—where she lasted one month. "Locus" also provided a lot of helpful advice during the startup period, as well as my current Managing Editor, Rachel Holmen. Thanks, Charlie!)

So at the moment, I have two publications on the same quarterly schedule, with a great deal of staff overlap between them. Marion Zimmer Bradley's FANTASY Magazine is growing nicely, and I'm very happy with it. But the Darkover Newsletter seems to be reaching what Elisabeth calls "the end of its product life cycle." (When she was getting her M.S. in Computer Science, most of the elective classes available were business courses. Over the years they've turned out to be a lot more useful than we ever thought they'd be.) I can remember when the Darkover Newsletter had about a thousand subscribers. But now it's down to about a hundred, and two hundred is the minimum number needed for a bulk mailing.

[snipped]

I am grateful for the support that all of you have given my work and my fan activities over the years, and I hope that you will continue to enjoy my professional work.
A German fan is disillusioned and writes:
... When I sent you Darkover stories, I don't think I violated copyright since I have not offered them to commercial publishers (except to MZB). I was very angry about it since I had been told that you liked getting fan stories and you had asked for more in 1990. I have now stopped writing Darkover stories. The last manuscript ... I transformed into a non-Darkover story... Hans-Jurgen Buhl decided to change the Liebener-Rurier into a non-Darkovan fantasy.... because we cannot write any new Darkovan stories. [It is a new world], a planet inhabited by people from Eastern Germany and by cats. We both like cats very much. Adelandeayo. P.S. I had changed my second Christian name to "Chris" because of Darkover. It was rather difficult and it cannot be changed back. And in my dreams I'm "Kris n'ha Camilla" still. Tonight I dreamt of it - what brought me to the idea to write this letter. [Ann Sharp replied: "In 1990, Mrs. Bradley was reading Darkover fan fiction with pleasure. The problem came up in the late summer of 1992, and it was then that she, very sadly, had to agree to stop reading Darkover fan fiction. I'm especially pleased that you were able to convert your manuscripts to non-Darkover stories... May you long enjoy your new name, too."]

Issue 70 (September 1995)

front page of issue #70

Darkover Newsletter 70 was published in September 1995 and contains 18 pages.

  • There is an essay on writing by Ann Sharp.
  • Bradley's final Letter from MZB is the same, word for word, (except for a mention of a con she will be attending) as the letter in issue #69.
the last logic puzzle
  • Bradley has a "Marion Zimmer Bradley's FANTASY Magazine" t-shirt for sale.
  • Bradley writes: "I am not currently planning anymore Darkover anthologies (my secretary hasn't recovered from the incredible hassle of the last one), but if I do, submission will be by invitation only, and I will invite only professional writers I have worked with before."
  • A fan writes: "I was very sorry to hear of the scandal involving Contraband; not only did this rude and egotistical author ruin things for Marion, she ruined things for the rest of us who were regular Darkover anthology contributors."
  • A fan writes: "I am interested in the Friends of Darkover. I am a thirty-four-year-old Game Master and fantasy fiction nut. I'm also a convicted felon serving a life sentence for a mistake when I was eighteen. I am looking to make some pen-friends, interested in fantasy fiction, music (classic rock/country), animals, and interested in writing long letters and short stories. I don't know if you allow inmates to receive your newsletter or not; I hope you will give me the chance. [Ann Sharp replies]: "We've always had some subscribers in correctional facilities desperate for escape literature (males in the 18-35 age group is probably the real reason). However, this is the last issue of the newsletter."
Elisabeth Waters has a long article on copyright. It begins with a general description of copyright, and moves into something more personal. An excerpt:

Recently we got (1) a letter from someone wanting Mrs. Bradley's permission to read at a Tolkien conference a Darkover/Middle-Earth story [10] she wrote in a fanzine in 1961,[11] and (2) a letter from someone in Germany complaining that a guy in the German Darkover fan club was sad that Mrs. Bradley didn't write him a thank you note for his "scientific book about the history and geography of Darkover."

With regard to the first problem (the Middle-Earth story), just writing it, let alone publishing it in a fanzine, was a violation of Mr. Tolkien's copyright, because it was derived from (based on) his original work. The right to prepare a derivative work is reserved to the copyright owner (it belongs to the author). So what MZB did back in 1961 [12] (before she learned better) was wrong, illegal, and actionable, despite the fact that she sincerely intended it as a compliment to Mr. Tolkien.

The same thing applies to the German "scientific book." Mrs. Bradley never saw it; our office policy about stuff that infringes her copyright is "If she doesn't know about it, she doesn't have to turn it over to her lawyer to be dealt with." (To the best of my recollection, we sent it to Mugar Library for the Marion Zimmer Bradley Collection. There it may someday be found by someone who can read it—Mrs. Bradley's knowledge of the German language came from operas and is not at all useful unless she is being chased by a dragon.)

And Mrs. Bradley has repeatedly refused to authorize any map of Darkover—she says she never knows where she'll need to put a city; so writing about Darkovan geography is a pretty clear violation of her expressed wishes as well as her copyright.

As far as we know, no one is still preparing derivative works involving Darkover. We do not wish to learn that anyone is, because if we find this out, we shall have to take legal action to protect MZB's copyrights. This is why the Darkover Newsletter, for several years now, has printed the address of Mugar Library on the back page and asked that any Darkover fan newsletters, etc. should be sent there.

As examples of the proper way to handle writing in someone else's universe:

I wrote a novel, which was published in April 1994. A few of my friends wanted to write filk songs about it. I made up a document called "Permission to Prepare and Perform a Derivative Work" in which I and the songwriter agree that I own the universe, I am letting him/her write a song set in it, and he/she can perform this song in public. If anyone wants to record the songs, we'll deal with that separately.
I had an idea for a story based on Mists of Avalon, which, of course, MZB owns (except for the movie rights, which she sold to James Coburn). I asked her permission to write (prepare) the story, and she gave it. I wrote the story. She hated it and withdrew her permission. I destroyed all copies of it.[13]

Obviously a lot of fanzines full of derivative work (Star Trek, anyone?) exist and are sold through the mail and at cons. Are they illegal? Yes, they are, despite the notices that say that they are amateur publications and don't intend to infringe upon copyrights owned by Paramount, etc. So how do people get away with publishing them? Simple. Nobody really wants to slap down fans who are doing this out of love and not making any money from it, so Paramount (or whoever) pretends they don't exist. If Paramount is forced to take official notice of them, they have to take legal action, usually in the form of a cease and desist order. This is a nuisance that most copyright owners would really prefer to avoid. So as long as you don't send a copy of your fanzine to the copyright owner, you generally won't be bothered.

On the other hand, some authors absolutely refuse to let people use their work. Tolkien is one example (at one point Lord of the Rings was published in the US without his permission, and his children are still pretty sensitive about the subject). Another one is Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, who has publicly refused to let people write stories using her character Saint-Germain. And after she did this, somebody wrote a story using him, and someone else published it in a fanzine with a forward saying that, although Ms. Yarbro had refused permission to do this, it was such a good story that they were printing it anyway. And then they couldn't understand why she got upset and they had to deal with her lawyers! As I recall, they ended up having to publish full-page apologies [14] in a couple of trade journals,[15] which cost them a lot more money than they ever wanted to spend.[16]

It's really fairly simple: the author owns his/her original work, and if you want to use it, you need permission. And if you want to have a derivative work published, you need the permission in writing. Be sure to save a copy of the permission (preferably the original) in your files. As one of my friends puts it: "Save everything. You'll need it for your trial."

Personally, I'd rather stay out of trouble in the first place.
Ann Sharp says farewell and gives a short retrospective:
All things come to an end, including DNL. After nearly twenty years, a long time for a fanzine publication, DNL is winding up/winding down; this issue, DNL 70, is officially our last. And it's been a long time. DNL started in 1976, the year of the Concorde and the revived $2 bill. I've edited every issue since DNL 23, back in the olden days when we used scissors and rubber cement to cut and paste pages together . . . . It was a big deal to us when we unpacked our first computer, read the manual (five pages of illustrations telling new users exactly how to extract the computer from the carton; page six started directly in on printer control codes, which were virtually unknown to the general public at the time), and went electronic! Of course, then I had to be sure that every printer control code was precisely in place; I don't think I ever produced any of the master copies from first page to last without having to do one over because something I'd printed emerged wrong. It was a real joy to use a word processing program that scales fonts at the click of a button so that each section comes out exactly to the end of the page; no more cutting someone's text to fit; I have (at least to some extent) elastic type.

Marion originally started DNL because so many letters she received either asked her the same questions —so she might as well answer them together —or discussed, in depth, subjects of deep and universal interest to Darkover fans. Remember the fury at someone's description of a typical fan as a 'fat thirteen-year-old in a cape'? Matrix crystals and laran, Free Amazons, Darkovan cooking and language and architecture, family values in the Dry Towns, and doesn't someone have a MAP somewhere'? Family trees of the Comyn, Keepers' training regimens, Darkovan time . . . the constant request for a complete list of the Domains, the Families, their heraldic insignia and colors and laran gifts. We have every kind of subscriber from academics to prisoners (whose craving for escape fiction we've never quite met).

Then there were the logic puzzles. I originally thought of them as a way to exhibit different facets of Darkovan life, but somehow they expanded to the zany universe Mizz B shares with telepathic purple rhinoceri and glitzy soap operas, with demented con committees and would-be politically correct editors, where Hastur and Cassilda are eternally mischievous kittens, strange things go bump in the mailbox and the most colorful manuscripts —in every way—arrive on her desk.

[snipped]

Editing DNL has been a fascinating experience for me and every issue has made me stretch my views and my waking hours . . . but I wouldn't have missed a one. Thanks to you all.

And yes, there is a logic puzzle in this issue.

References

  1. Well, yes, it was in a fanzine. "Darkover Summer Snow" was a story by fan writer Eileen Ledbetter and in the first Starstone. It's a little odd that Waters did not remember this fact.
  2. She is blaming Jean Lamb. See Marion Zimmer Bradley Fanfiction Controversy for much more on this complicated topic.
  3. Russell Galen is Bradley's agent.
  4. He died the end of April, something that was not commented on in the June issue.
  5. A for-profit international science magazine.
  6. See her, and other fans', reactions to this review in "I'd have liked to be a fly on the wall at Thendara Council when you were all cracking jokes about psychogynecology.". "It seems that the lady had misunderstood my flippant retailing of the review in Publisher's Weekly, and our hilarity about the absurd word "Psychogyne-cology"". It was also mentioned in a Sime~Gen zine and fans proposed a separate zine with this as a subject. See the first issue of A Companion in Zeor.
  7. "[Don Wollhiem] 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." -- from Darkover Newsletter: #51 (December 1990) "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?" -- from "Darkover Newsletter" #55 (December 1991. "I have never employed anyone else to read my slush pile -- it's the high point of my day." -- from "Darkover Newsletter" #62 (September 1993) )
  8. The DAW Darkover Anthologies had been suspended at this point.
  9. Actually, there were many, many conventions; and Bradley went to sometimes 20 or more a year as both a guest of honor, and a regular attendee. For the past few years, her con schedule was greatly diminished.
  10. This story was A Meeting in the Hyades.
  11. Waters does not mention that the story was first published in 1961, but also twice in 1962, and more importantly, in 1978 in Bradley's own Darkover zine, the first issue of Starstone.
  12. AND in 1978 in Starstone, something Waters glosses over.
  13. Waters appears to be saying that it is okay for fans to ask for permission, write the story, show the story to Bradley, and for Bradley to decide if the story is good enough to exist. This is in direct opposition to the whole "don't show Bradley or ask permission" in the first place, the statement Bradley, Waters, and Sharp had been repeating to fans. It also brings up the issue of quality: if the story is "good," it can bypass these stipulations. Later, Waters' description of the Chelsea Quinn Yarbro case makes some confusing comparisons via permission and quality.
  14. Waters' recall is faulty or sloppy; actually, it was 1/20th of a page. See the "Publisher's Weekly" ad
  15. Yarbro asked for the apologies to be run in three magazines, but it is likely it was only one, "Publisher's Weekly."
  16. Well, that's probably true. The amount for these ads were about $1072.00 plus tax.