The Vorpal Sword

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Title: The Vorpal Sword
Publisher: it is a Squashed Aardvark Press publication
Editor(s): Michelle Malkin & Deborah Kogan
Date(s): 1968-?
Medium: print zine
Fandom: Science Fiction with some Star Trek: TOS
Language: English
External Links:
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The Vorpal Sword is a gen Science Fiction anthology with some Star Trek content. It was edited by Michelle Malkin & Deborah Kogan. It was "available for 50 cents, contributions, or a LoC".

For a list of similar zines of this era, see List of Star Trek TOS Zines Published While the Show Was Still On the Air.

Issue 1

cover (photocopy) of issue #1, Deborah Kogan

The Vorpal Sword 1 was published in 1968 and contains 36 pages. The artwork is by Deborah Kogan.

From the editorial:

Hello! It is your local friendly Editors again with another issue of the Vorpal Sword. We don't give up easily. In case you haven't met us before, may we introduce ourselves as two young femme-fans of twenty-one years apiece - Michelle Malkin, who after college wishes to work with a publishing house, and Deborah Kogan, a psychology major going onto graduate work soon.

You are holding the new and natty improved copy of the Sword, for it is now in a more compact, standard format, by popular demand, We are as varied as over in material, and by request of many Star Trek fans, we have some material on that too.

Since editors are famous for putting their feet in their mouths by writing editorials, we feel we should fullfill your expectations by writing one. The topic is the proposed North American Science Fiction Convention, to be held in those years when the WorldCons are to be held out of the country. This would be held at a different time of year than the standard WorldCons, to enable notables to attend, and to enable those who have the money and the volition to travel to the WorldCon, to do so. This having an alternative con here in the country every four years, when the WorldCon moves out of the country is good in that it permits the many poverty-pocket fans (like us) who perhaps can't afford to go to Europe to enjoy a con where they would normally have to do without. A committee should be formed that would care for bids every four years, being inactive in the intervening years. We realize that having two big cons in one year would drain the pocket-books of notables who would feel obliged to show at both the WorldCon and this one, but we must take into account the vast majority of fans with limited means who would not like to be cheated out of a con every four years. This subject should be brought up at the StLouisCon. Your support for this idea would be appreciated.

  • Contents (1)
  • Intro (2)
  • On Fandom by Harriett Kolochack (8)
  • Filks by Mick Allister (5)
  • Finder's Keepers by Michelle Malkin (6)
  • Thespis Fens by Joanne Methos and Mick Allister (15)
  • Sounds of the Editors at Work by Deborah Backover (18)
  • Evolution in the Mind's Eye by Michelle Malkin (19)
  • On Starships by Ron Stoloff (20)
  • Review of 2001 by Ron Stofloff (22)
  • Review of Brak the Barbarian by J.B. Post (24)
  • Match-a-Fan Form by Deborah Kogan 25)
  • Angus McThug by Mick Allister (27)
  • Reducto ad Absurdum by Jeanne Methos (29)
  • Rhyme of the Stranded Martian by Michelle Malkin (32)
  • The Keys by Deborah Kogan (34)
  • PhillyCon Notice (36)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 1

...very good for a first issue. I do have some suggestions, though. First, of all, the size - it's too big to fit in where I keep my other Zines and the same probably goes for most other people. You don't get that much more on the page, and it would be a lot cheaper to single space all the way through if that's what you want (unless you are getting this paper for free, of course). Why didn't you use the heavy paper for the cover instead of page 5-6? I hope the repro will improve with future issues. I enjoyed Finders Keepers, but Thespis Fens really upset me because I didn't realize that it was a serial until I got to the end and there wasn't any. Personally, I would rather see fewer things in a zine, but no serials, if the editor has a long story, but of course that is only my personal opinion. The Match-a-Fan form would never work -- it may just be just me, but I don't think I have ever seen a multiple choice form that didn't have at least one question that I couldn't answer unless they all included "other" and allowed more than one choice per question. [1]

This is my first thoughts upon looking casually through VORPAL. You seem to have a real problem with your repro; a number of pages are quite illegible. Usually it seems to be a combination of half-the-printing-of-each-word-is-missing and very bad showthrough. [P]robably using a better grade of mimeo paper (say, 20 lb.) would take care of a lot of this. It doesn't have to be too expensive - usually the 90c-$l.50 kind is better than the higher cost. Also, the right paper will absorb ink fast, thus eliminating many of your offset problems. Since you don't seem to be using the full length, why use 11x1.4' paper? It is rather large for comfortable handling. Also, more costly.

The art is fairly good; several of the pictures are quite clever. I liked the One Ring in the cereal box. Harriett's article was interesting- it even sounded like her. I enjoyed the take-off on the Ancient Mariener (wish my spelling was a bit more with it) and the triple poem by Malkin, Also found Ron's discussion on the multi-generational spaceship interesting, Whoever did that match-a-fan form thing certainly has Heinlein-on-the-brain...

I found Deborah's poem interesting but confusing - on a different level with the others. It will bear re-reading. Would be nice if you left a larger upper margin on your pages. However, your typos, spelling, and grammatical errors were very few, which makes for pleasant reading, and is most unusual in first issues.

I think if you can't manage to number your pages as you do your stencils, you might look into acquiring stencil numbers,,, uh, I mean like shading plates, the kind to letter onto a stencil, so they111 look neat and tidy.

What is the Kluver Bucy-Syndrome? (Ed. note- it is a hypersexuality syndrome caused by a certain lesion in the limbic system, in the brain) Can I have missed one? Active avoidance - only one I know is an avoid - your wife's-mother thing, in certain primitive cultures. Now that's an odd thing to have trouble with. (Ed. note - active avoidance is a type of learned behavior to a noxious stimuli.

Not bad for a firstish. Try to get slight more varied material, and work on your repro. Thanks for giving me a copy, Deborah. [2]

Issue 2

The Vorpal Sword 2 was published in Spring 1969 and contains 50 pages. Art by Deborah Kogan, Vivian Potter (front cover) Marilyn Fishman, Sherry Kramer, and Paul Kessler.

cover of issue #2, Vivian Potter
[excerpt from "More Facts on Fandom"]: "... for those of you who may have a yen to meet a B.N.F., but are not sure how to go about it, I'll try to to make it a little easier for you to approach the fan of your choice. If you are not sure the man is the one whom you wish to meet, you ask, "Excuse me, sir, but are you Mr. Isaac Asimov?"... Isaac Asimov is a great one for verbal jokes. He can tell you he is someone else with a poker face, and convince you of it if he chooses. Lester del Rey is a fatalist and believes every pain and ache in the world has great merit to it. Randall Garrett is a lady's man, just in case you are a nice looking chick, and so is Harlan. [They and many others] are regular fans, but still should be treated with the respect due their station as B.N.F.

[excerpt from "The Negro And Science Fiction, describing watching the con skit, H.M.S. Trek-a-Star:

Kirk, Spock, Uhura, and Nurse Chapel are under the control of a race of psychokenetics, Kirk and Lt. Uhura have been paired by these people and are forced to kiss. Moments later they separate, and Captain Kirk turns his face to the camera. His lips are covered with soot.


Yes, soot. For Uhura is not being played by Nichelle Nichols, but by a white woman in blackface. Not the way you remember it, you say? A nightmare? It cannot be! And, you would be right, at least on TV, as Gene Roddenberry had noting to do with this casting; it was the type done by the Fans in progressive Berkeley, California, and this seems to be the way they do things out there.

When I saw this I was surprised. When the surprise wore off, I was just bugged. Was it possible, in all of progressive, liberal fandom, to find one black woman to play Lt. Uhura? Sure, it's type casting, but this was akin to "Birth Of A Nation," the pro-KKK film by Griffith, where all the Negro parts were played by whites in blackface.

I said as much to the people who were near near me. But, then I looked around - not a black face to be seen. At the Con, later, the only Negro I can remember is the famous Sargent-at-Arms from New York, Elliot Shorter. Basically, however, the Con was white.

Then, I looked back on the other Cons I've attended and realized they, too, were white. Even my own home club, the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, has only two Negro members. It seems slightly weird that a show which is often put down as being retarded in the use of science fictional devices is actually far ahead in its recognition of the Negro's part in society. They were able to get up the guts to be the second or third show on TV with a Negro playing a continuous, significant role. It seems that written SF is the retarded religion. As to why, that is the goal of this essay.

  • Contents (3)
  • Song Sheet by Mick Allister (4)
  • The Readers Fight Back (LoCs (5)
    • The Night the Spaceship Exploded, to the tune of The Night They Invented Champagne
    • The Martians Arrived Today, to the tune of When Johnny Comes Marching Home
  • Editorial (6)
  • More Facts on Fandom by Harriett Kolchak (about the care and feeding and treatment of BNFs) (7)
  • See the Little Atom Bomb, poem by Michelle Malkin (9)
  • The Letter by Kathy Sturgenor (original science fiction) (9)
  • An Exobiologist Speaks Out by Sherry Kramer (13)
  • Early A.M. Thoughts, vignette by Delores Green (13)
  • The Negro and Science Fiction by Ron Stoloff (commentary on fans of color and fandom, mentions Baycon and the staging of H.M.S. Trek-a-Star) (16)
  • Stars, poem by Deborah Kogan (20)
  • Antithesis, poem by Deborah Kogan (22)
  • Brave Old Worlds: A Brief Introduction and Survey of Victorian S-F, article by Marilyn Fishman (23)
  • The Good Doctor's Missing Bowtie by Michelle Malkin (25)
  • Thespis Fens by Mick Allister and Jeanne Methos ("Our story thus far -- Thespis Fens, son of the Westlands, saves a virgin lad from the sacrificial designs of the heathen Malkan tt1be. In revenge Debo Rah, High Priestess of the tribe, plans to offer up Thespis in place of the boy.") (26)
  • Angus McThug by Mick Allister (29)
  • The Science Fiction Year, article by D.C. Paskow (30)
  • In the Grand Old Tradition by Darryll Schweitzer (32)
  • Consilium: A Fan's Eye View of Star Trek (33)
    • Star Trek Dedications (34)
    • The Fascinating Leonard Nimoy, article by Kathy Surgenor ("I would like to extend my appreciation to Leonard Nimoy and Teresa Victor (Girl Friday To Leonard) without whose help, patience and this article would not have been possible.") (35)
    • Ah, Sweet Madness, poem by Delores Green (37)
    • Beauty is Only Skin Deep, fiction by Kathy Surgenor (38)
    • blurbs and ads (48)
  • Star Trek Fan Clubs (49)
  • Logical and Ill Reasons for Buying this Fanzine (50)

Reactions and Reviews: Issue 2

Harriet Kolchak's article on nesting the BNF shows uncommon good sense. Although a latecomer to Fandom, I can't accept some of the incredibly bad manners of some fen in relationship to others of some stature. Being an SF fan does not give one the right to be rude. And this goes for both written and personal encounters.

I enjoyed Kathy Surgenor's story "The Letter." Although disjointed in parts, I think she shows promise. There was a feel to the story, a mood, which led me on, even though much of the story needed further development and a number of cliches were used. Still, a young writer needs the exposure and a chance to be criticized.

I found Ron Stoloff's article on 'The Negro And Science Fiction' quite good. Having just finished a one week institute on Labrarios and the Unreached at the University of Washington, I have pretty much concentrated my thinking on some of the requirements of the Negro and other minority ethnic groups. The same things which Ron stated in his article are true for the Indian and the Mexican-American. And, perhaps, a little research would uncover fewer readers or, for that matter, characters, among these groups. Andre Norton has used Indian characters - (Beast Master and Lord Of Thunder) and a black in one of her novellas which appeared in a double. Not being the Star Trek fan which I suppose I should have been, I don’t know if I can agree that Lt. Uhura’s role was a significant role. In the episodes which I did view, I did not find the role significant, and felt that it snacked of tokenism. But, perhaps I missed shows where the contrary was true. At any rate, I think that we must accept that fandom is a minority and that we will live for a time with few blacks involved.

Are there any black SF writers? Black authors of repute writing about significant events in our social milieu. When, God grant, this is no longer necessary, they will begin to write other kinds of works from the middle class viewpoint. I can at present only think of Frank Yerby as a successful black author who doesn't write about the black problem. His successful historical novels don’t even involve black characters. So, the day will come when more blacks will be involved in SF. Fandom, as Ron pointed out, is not a social or political belief. Its members stretch from left to right. I had a letter the other day from an avowed anarchist. We kid ourselves if we say fen are different and do not represent the broad poles of our contemporary society. [3]

I recently got my copy of VS#2 and, though I reviewed it in Space And Time, I feel that you deserve a LoC.

1) You suffer from lack of organization. It's a matter of opinion, but I don't think that the letter col belongs at the beginning of the zine. Put it at the end and, if the last ish was not so hot, it will not prejudice the readers about the current ish... besides, if thish was better. complaints about the lastish don't seen as barbed if read through the satisfaction of a good ish. (Huh?- the eds)

2) Repro in some places was quite bad, especially pages 8/9. I feel that you left too much blank space where spacing around would, have given more balanced pages.

3) Artwork, such as there was, was kind of poor. I defy you to show me how your cover comes from Starship Troopers.

4) Your staples were too small. The back pages are slowly coming apart from the rest.

Now that I have you thoroughly riled at me, I wish to compliment you on your material!

5) While I feel that there are too many Star Trek zines around to need more, the ST material that you have is fairly good. It has also given me a rather different idea for the reasons for the splitting of the Ronulans from the Vulcans.

Label, your editorials I thought it was an odd LoC. Despite the way this sounds, I did enjoy #2 and I wish you. good luck on #3. [4]

Thanks for giving me a copy of the VORPAL SWORD at the WorldCon. I will admit I have not read it with the thoroughness I might apply to, say, a contract on which, I an about to affix my signature, but I did skim through the whole thing and found parts of it interesting.

Of especial merit: Harriet Kolchak's note on the best way to meet a pro or BNF, She has a good on her shoulders. (You might let her do a followup on the best way to stay in a BNF's good graces.)

The article on the Negro and Science Fiction hits especially hard with me. [5] Nichelle Nichols was delighted with the Tribble script [6] because it gave her a chance to do something besides open the hailing frequencies. I have long felt that TV has neglected the opportunity to treat minorities and ethnic groups fairly. ST's third season is an excellent example.

And finally, let me clear up any misunderstanding that you and any other ST fans may have. I do not hate ST fans -- except when they occur in large and illogical groups. (Remember ST was very good to me.) What I do object to is mindless worshiping instead of critical analysis. A good example is a fanzine honoring Fred Frieberger because he was producer during third season. Instead, you should be mad at the man for killing the show and copping out on too many good stories. (See Trumpet II.)

Anyway, all my best to you. I hope that soon there is another SF TV show worthy of your attention. [7]

A suggestion I would like to make is to tell you the same thing I suggested to Devra for Spockanalia — could you make the middle staple up-side-down? Hopefully this prevents the last page from coning off as has already happened on my copy of the Sword.


In VS #2 your poetry was heavily fatalistic. There is nothing wrong with this, except it ought to be broken up with something lighter.


I realize that you have confined your ST material to a small section. In a whole fanzine devoted to Star Trek, I would probably look for stories revolving around (mostly) one or two of the characters at a time. The major problem is to watch out for over—exposure. Even in a small ST section such as yours, I would watch out for stereotyped or well worn lines. Spock's line in the middle of page 46 about "magic potions" is an example. Your Star Trek section was relatively free from worn ideas and I happen to think "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep" is very good.

One other thing is to be careful of is reference to Spock's human half. Hearing the phrase often enough makes it sound tangible. [8]

Vorpal Sword #2 — nice re-pro. The problems described in the lettercol have been taken care of this time around.

"The Negro In Science Fiction" - but, granted that one reason Negros do not read science fiction is their being turned off by the white dominant views, surely that is the least important of the three reasons suggested? After all, television has been white dominated for many years, and Negros watched television just as much as whites. The changing attitude, which has made it possible to tip the balance a bit back toward reality in shows like "Julia" and The Bill Cosby Show (I mean, towards the reality that Negros are just as much a part of our culture as any other group, Jews, WASPs or what have you the shows themselves are no more realistic than other television shows), hasn’t really given more TV viewers-- just better pleased ones. The other two reasons given — that most blacks are in the lower socioeconomic class which in general doesn't read much — and that the SF readers are few among readers generally — seen to me much more important. And they cannot be controlled by fans or writers, except insofar as they are members of society, acting as individuals or acting as part of society through legislation, demonstrations, etc, — but not- (except very minutely) through writing stories with Negro characters.

Incidentally, if the play being described by Ron Stoloff is "H.M.S. Trek-A-Star" - the answer to his question is no, it was not possible to find one black woman to play Lt. Uhura. In all of progressive, liberal fandom, yes. In all those members of Berkely fandom interested in putting on a parody of Star Trek, no. If there aren’t many Negros in fandom for socioeconomic reasons, you can't seriously be surprised if you don’t find any in a given small segment of such a small group as fandom. Still, if Stoloff insists on suggestions for attacking the large problem of bigotry through one of its symptoms — the whiteness of SF - he can stop buying Analog (I have myself, but because I find Campbell's ideas in general repugnant, not on account of this one), and write letters to the publishers and editors when books and other magazines print good and multi-racial stories. Praising junk gets one nowhere. There's no particular point to writing Campbell judging by his editorials and his comments in the letter column (back in the days when I was getting the magazine), he has a closed mind. Not buying his magazine is the only "pressure" available. Which is no pressure at all while the problem of bigotry remains important in society. [9]

Issue 3

The Vorpal Sword 3 was published in Winter 1970 and contains 52 pages.

It has art by Deborah Kogan, Sherry Kramer, Carol Grosso, Jackie Weeden, Kathy Surgenor, and Michelle Malkin.

front cover of issue #3, Deborah Krogan
  • Fanzine Dedication (2)
  • Contents (3)
  • Editorial or Whatever (4)
  • Henderson's Saucer by Donald Stanley (5)
  • Some Thoughts on Comic Books by J.B. Post (10)
  • I Had a Shadow by Dawna Snyder (12)
  • Vorpal Sword Book Review by Ted Pauls (review of The Left Hand of Darkness) (12)
  • Angus McThug: Case of the Uninvolved Ghost by Mick Allister (16)
  • On "Bug Jack Barron" by Jack McKnight (17)
  • Evening, poem by Deborah Krogan (17)
  • The Battle, poem by Deborah Krogan (19)
  • The Pen IS Mightier than the Sword by Ron Stoloff, John W. Campbell, and Philip Jose Farmer (excerpts from a letter exchange by these three authors, response to "The Negro And Science Fiction" from the previous issue) (20)
  • Campbell and Philipp Jose Farmer (20)
  • Consilium (Star Trek Section) ("This section is dedicated to Robert Bloch and David Gerrold for being so nice to the Star Trek fans at StLouisCon." [10]) (25)
    • An Illogical Trek or Whatever Happened to T'Pring, parody in script form by Michelle Malkin and Kathy Surgenor (also in Black Magic #1) (27)
    • The Dead Planet, fiction by Mick Allister and Dee Leonard (34)
  • Evolution in the Mind's Eye, poem by Michelle Malkin (45)
  • The Readers Fight Back (LoCs) (46)
  • Fandom Tomorrow, cartoon by Sherry Kramer (51)
  • You Are Receiving this Fantastic Work of Technicolor Art Because (52)

Issue 4

The Vorpal Sword 4


  1. ^ from an LoC by Joni Rapkin in "Vorpal Sword" #2
  2. ^ from an LoC by Devra Langsam in "Vorpal Sword" #2
  3. ^ from an LoC in "Vorpal Sword" #3
  4. ^ from an LoC in "Vorpal Sword" #3
  5. ^ Gerrold portrayed Captain Kirk in H.M.S. Trek-a-Star, the play this article mentions.
  6. ^ Gerrold wrote "the Tribble script."
  7. ^ from an LoC by David Gerrold in "Vorpal Sword" #3
  8. ^ from an LoC in "Vorpal Sword" #3
  9. ^ from an LoC by Ruth Berman in "Vorpal Sword" #3
  10. ^ "StLouisCon" is a reference to the 27th Worldcon. Gerrold remarks on this con in The Awful Offal in 1969.