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Stance, Erudition and Scorn 

John 

By the time we'd finished the last issue of Attitude, we were more than a little frazzled; the sheer size of the zine made it very hard work to lay out and proof read in one weekend. I started wondering about ways to make it smaller.

The easiest way, of course, is to not pub the ish for an extra six months or so, by which point half the content has become obsolete, and you can dump it without guilt. This, however, leads to an excess of letter column, killer reviews from Jim de Liscard, and similar Bad Things. The simple techno-fix might be data compression. Sadly, the results tend to look like this: (PKgNuXmS@@a$88_m9K!9Z2KtYR''$r9/=!7 M2-${'MJ&5|(/BycI,m/~G04d9-@UuCJo7q;+4Dad AG/DaE@ru) which might work as a Chuck Strozza novel, but not in the fanzine world. A sufficiently advanced technological approach would be a single-sheet fanzine: every time you turn it over, the next page appears on the newly revealed side. You need a way to tell it to turn back, but that should be easy enough for the details people to sort out.

Michael 

On the other hand, there are some good 'appropriate technology' solutions available today. First, we could just photocopy every page in turn onto a single sheet. At one stroke this would reduce postal weight, simplify layout, and stop anyone from reading anything they disliked. Or we could just produce one copy, give it to John Nettleton of Blue Peter fame, and pay him to wander the country reading it out to people. Foreigners would have a local franchise system, reproducing their languages and regional accents. And then there's Roger Zelazny's approach: 'I wrote a 50,000 word short story for an editor. They said they liked it, but could I cut it down to 25,000 words. I crossed out every second word, but it didn't make sense, so I sold the story somewhere else.'

Then there's the tricolour, and Kieslowski's Three Films: Red, White and Blue inspired by it. More bands: The Fun Boy Three, and the Thompson Twins, who count because they came in three different sizes as their career progressed: seven people, three and then two (probably only a coincidence, though, because they looked about as much like twins as Arnie and DeVito did). The Three Wise Men were a band as well as a biblical reference...

Pam 

One way to make Attitude smaller would be to publish more frequently, whenever the material we want to use comes to hand. This would be a bit erratic, though, as all the material usually comes to hand on (or, more frustratingly, just after) a published deadline. Still, assuming that we scrapped the concept of a deadline altogether, we could conceivably publish a two or three page fanzine every week. This would result in a small and frequent fanzine with very little cohesiveness, increase our postage bill about tenfold, and reduce our social lives to nil. But, hey, what value has life compared with fanac?

Of course, the risk would then be that more and more material would be submitted to us, as people discovered how frequently we could publish, and our weekly fanzines would grow to be as large as the quarterly ones are now. The result would be that no one else in the country would ever need to bother publishing a fanzine, and the three of us would die horrible deaths surrounded by piles of paper, battered computer terminals, and each other's pickaxe handles. But, hey, what value has life compared with fanac?

John 

Lots... Fanzine publishing should be a spice for fannish life in general, rather than the other way around, in my opinion. If you don't do anything else, the fanzine will get as boring as you are.

But is it a spice? Yes, so far, although the wonderful newness of it is passing. Quality and impact pull in different directions a lot of the time - and they both want us to publish more, sometimes. Which is where we came in.

Another way to escape from the entire problem, of course, is to get someone else to do your fanzine for you. This has happened occasionally: Ken Slater took over The Fantast from John Christopher back in the late '30s, though I don't know of an instance since, while BSFA zines change editor at the drop of a sack. However, it's sort of bad for continuity. Pulp took turns, didn't it Pam? How well did that work?

Pam 

Yes, and so did the original Fuck The Tories - only that took turns on three continents!

Speaking personally, I didn't find Pulp sufficiently collaborative, so I resigned after editing issue 4. The other editors seemed happy enough, though, and certainly in the early days (when it was appearing three times a year) it managed to maintain its continuity from issue to issue.

The main problem with different people editing the same title in turn is in the lack of control that each individual editor has over the series as a whole. Taking turns might well work for a fanzine where each editor publishes one issue only, and then passes the title on. This would limit that person's ownership to their single issue, rather than encouraging them to feel that they had a say in the direction of the project as a whole.

In fact, Anne Hamill and I had this idea many years ago: start a fanzine, produce an issue each, and then hand the title over to other people one at a time (sort of like a fan fund, but with a fanzine instead of a trip abroad). As is the way with so many such ideas, we never got it off the ground. But perhaps when Attitude's run its course, I might think about trying to launch something like this...

And then there's the Four Tops, the Four Pennies, The Four Seasons, four on the floor, four square, four score and ten, and four he's a jolly good fellow (as opposed to three's a jolly good fellow). Not to mention forty days and forty nights, which is how long it takes to put together an issue of Attitude!

Michael 

You could think of an APA as being a collaborative fanzine in a similar way. Instead of producing one issue each, every editor is responsible for a few pages every time, within guidelines voted on by the membership as a whole. The odd thing is that this process seems to be very much more successful at producing a gestalt than successive editorships is - possibly because, although the individual workload is less in each issue, there are no issues that anyone involved can regard as 'someone else's'.

Of course, most APAs are concerned with internal communication, and outside readers are irrelevant at best, and (theoretically) forbidden at worst. Has anyone ever thought about setting up an APA which is intentionally sent out to a wider audience? Maybe even publishing their letters?

Four's a good number for death, actually. There's The Four Just Men, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sign of Four and the Fab Four (one of them's dead, at any rate). Four for the Gospel Makers, the compass points (and the angels who stand at the four corners of the world) and the four elements. There was also a (very suspect) skinhead band called The Four Skins.

John 

Alarums & Excursions is a gamers' APA which non-contributors can get. The obvious problem is that they all want to join in. This has given it great strength (about 180 monthly issues) but also means it's huge, and takes all month to read. Not a success for making your fanzine smaller, really.

Attitude seems adequately collaborative - even if the collaboration is slightly different each time. One difference, though: I like being 'someone who does a fanzine', and regard the actual doing of it as work, which might happen to be enjoyable, but isn't the objective in itself. Listening to cricket, for example, is different: you expect England to lose, but the process is interesting. Maybe that's why I wasn't a fanzine fan for such a long time; I only benefit from the egoboo, and don't treasure the experience of production.

Pam 

Whereas I thoroughly enjoy the production process, although I do agree that all the effort needs to be directed towards a real goal. I wouldn't spend all this time writing, editing, proof reading and the like if there <MI>wasn't<D> a tangible product (i.e. a fanzine) at the end of it. That strikes me as being like having committee meetings for their own sake, rather than as an efficient forum in which to work out what to actually doat this convention you seem to be running.

But, yes, I do enjoy the 'work' of producing Attitude: the Fanzine - even the tedious bits. I suppose that's why I'm a fanzine fan: I tried this sort of thing years ago and liked it so much I bought the company - er, no, that was Victor Kiam and the Remington shaver, but you know what I mean.

Michael 

Hmm. I quite enjoy the editing work, and I really enjoy asking for submissions, and writing stuff myself. On the other hand, I feel I've had all the fun out of photocopier watching I'm ever going to get, and that wasn't much to start with. But I value even the drudge work as a way of investing in a project, so I can feel all virtuous and productive when the end result comes out. I guess I've got a near-fatal dose of the Protestant Recreation Ethic.

The number five's sort of boring, isn't it?

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