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Monday, October 13, 2008

1974 Letter - Robert Bloch, Ted White from H. Ellison

Alien Critic #2
Letter from Harlan Ellsion

If you run this letter in the next issue, and I hope you will, please include the date above (a safety factor, AKA truth-in-publishing, policy I urge you to adopt for all published correspondence.)

((Good advice. It shall be done.))

"I've come back tot his issue (38) of IAC maybe fifty times since it arrived here, dipping into it briefly, recoiling In horror, putting it away, coming back to it, starting to write a note, slapping my hands, going away from it again, and … inexorably … being drawn back again and again, knowing, I suppose, that I'd eventually say a few words.

I've gained about eight potbelly pounds in the last two years from a constitution of sitting on my ass writing too much of the time, not exercising, acting like a gourmand, and developing what my doctor calls a classic case of out of control triglycerides; for the first time in my almost forty years, I'm on a diet, and it's hard going without my diabetic delights which for many years have provided the necessary chlor –ls{?} and sugars I needed to keep my sugar-hungry hyperthyroid engine racing. Occasionally, I cheat on myself.

Answering the writing in IAC is a –rry {?} parallel. I know I shouldn't, try like hell not to, but eventually do it. Beyond that point the parallel –{?} there is nothing sweet or energy-producing about responding to the IAC correspondents. I can only get in trouble.

Friend Dick, I love your magazine, but so help me, every time I open the covers, I hear the tumult of a lung-{?} lynch mob. That one of the most virulent {?} voices in that mob is mine own, {--?} depresses and frightens me the {most?}.

((That's odd: when I open the covers of IAC I hear it go MMMMM… And when I open other fan magazines I hear TA-{}-PICKETA-POCKETA…))

So I'll make this brief and then {?} you, if you get any other letters from me, that from this date forward, that even remotely seem contentious … please deep six them! If, through madness, I write such letters, to vent my fury, accept them, read them, answer me personally if you feel inclined, but for God's sweet sake, don't publish them. Stop me before I kill again.

((You write such marvelously phrased sentences, Harlan, such delightful invective, that your letters are a kind of art form, and Ellison on a rampage is high entertainment; it almost doesn't matter what you say, it's how you say it. I suspect that most of those you smite hip and thigh are more flattered than outraged or demolished. Your last sentence up there might better be penned, "Stop me before I overkill again.

((But - - I hear and obey, even though it likely means you'll rarely appear in these pages in the future.))

Since the St. Louiscon, when I vowed I'd have nothing further to do with fandom, fans, or fanzines, I've tried valiantly to maintain my resolve. But old habits and roots die hard. And in the past year I've allowed myself to be drawn into nasty, demeaning exchanges with several fanzines and their letter-hacks. Those exchanges have served no commendable end. They've brought into print my utterly negative feelings about the majority of fans, that were better left unspoken.

Yesterday, something called LAUGHING OSIRIS found its way into my mailbox, and I leafed through it as I would a bulk rate mailing catalogue from a novelty house. There tucked away in a paragraph about other things, was a sentence of three by the magazine's editor saying pful to me because Id said the biggest drawbacks sf has to contend with these days are the antics of media-attractive fans acting like nerds. The editor went on to compare my attitude (taken from Cover's interview with me in VERTEX and a position I still maintain despite the pful) with that of Bob Bloch, who had stretched his time and effort to give them an interview.

I don't put that editor down for his reaction, I suppose he's entitled, but he ain't where I am, and he doesn't have to put up with fan impositions the way I do. (I won't even try to cop out by saying I've spent easily as many hours as Bob, doing by-mail interviews with fanzines such as the one published by the U. of Wisconsin, which was published this week. Bloch is a much kinder, much nobler person than I'll ever be, and he's been a certifiably saintly pro where fans are concerned since I was fanning, and long before that time. I'll only say I have very little interest in fmz {fan magazines?} these days, don't want to receive them, and try to be polite when turning down invitations to write for them. And when I do contribute, for whatever dim motivation, I apply myself as I would when writing a piece for a professional journal.)

Nonetheless, that St. Louiscon embroglio {sic} ad fandom's general attitude toward me since that time have left their mark. I'm negative about fandom in the main, and really would be happiest if they'd leave me alone. But I'm like Ted White in the way I leap to the bait. And when I do – as I've recently done in OUTWORLDS and the fmz of the British Columbia SF Society - -I find myself coming off in the manner of a person I wouldn't care for, if I encountered him in the pages of an amateur publication. I find myself snarling, insulting, howling, slicing … and in general acting like the people I despise.

All I ask is that fans leave me alone. Please. Let me do my work. Let me write in peace. I can't stand the waste of time, the burn off of adrenaline, the futile snarling and screaming. I've got too much I want to do, too much love that's been turned sour and cynical, too few years in the machine, to continue this way.

If fans wish to discuss me, let them discuss my work. Let them say yay or nay to what I;'ve written, but leave me alone. I will respond in kind by staying away from fan doings and fan problems, and we'll all be the more content for it.

Thus does the war criminal beg for mercy. If there is a strain of sanity out there, please let it serve to convey the sincerity with which this is written.

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