( R ) — from RAY GUN to ROSCOE




— SF term for an energy weapon, sometimes referred to as a ‘Blaster’. Toy ray guns became popular as early as the 1930s. Some were inert, some threw sparks, and many were in fact water pistols. In North American fannish usage, the water pistol type of toy ray gun became known as a ‘Zap Gun’ subsequent to the TORCON of 1948. In British fannish usage, the type of toy ray gun that fired little rubber-suction-cup-tipped bolts were known as ‘Plonkers’.



— From the very beginning, circa 1930, fan publications were reproduced according to two criteria: what technology was available, and how much could the faned afford?

Perhaps the cheapest, and certainly one of the most common at the start of things, were Carbonzines, zines consisting of carbon copies laboriously typed by the faned. One typed page could produce 2 or 3 carbon copies. Type the page over again, and you doubled the size of the print run. Needless to say, the average carbonzine seldom averaged more than ten copies per issue.

Since amateur publishing had been around since the 1880s, all manner of offset printing machines were readily available to fans, albeit for a price. These had a variety of names and methods of printing: Planograph, Multigraph Mimeo, Lithograph, Multilith, etc. The multigraph mimeo used movable type set by hand. Mimeos in general forced ink through wax stencils, sometimes on a flat bed, sometimes on a roller. Lithographs involved printing off metal plates ( very expensive ).

It was with some relief and glee that fans migrated to Hektography in the mid 1930s. This had to do with printing from pans of gelatin. Incredible though it sounds, properly done a faned could achieve 50 legible copies of each page. Not only that, but by employing a wide variety of Hekto inks colour printing could be accomplished very inexpensively. The downside to Hektography was that the ink tended to fade with time and exposure to light.

Dittoing is a superior form of Hektography. Instead of being laid on jelly, the master copy is put on a revolving drum like a mimeo, and through a dye-transfer process — as opposed to the mimeo forced-ink method — moistened paper picks up the dye or pigment from the master. The initial equipment expense is greater, but as many as 300 legible copies can be produced in a single run. Dittoing is also known as Spirit Duplication.

The ultimate form of reproduction was the Gestetner, a European ( English? German? ) and superior type of mimeo machine not available in North America till the 1970s I believe. It offered silkscreen printing precise enough to allow two & three colour printing. The catch was that a special type of rough textured paper designed to absorb the ink was necessary, ordinary smooth paper would not do.

The introduction of photocopiers in the 1970s ( ? ) began to affect traditional methods. What eventually killed them was the development of sophisticated publishing programs for personal computers beginning in the 1980s and steadily improving year by year. Many faneds prepared professional-looking editions on their computer to produce a master, and then relied on public photocopiers to cheaply mass-print their zine.

Now, in the 21st century many fanzines exist solely as Ezines available for download on the net. Recipients can always print them out on paper if they choose, but given the price of ink, this seldom happens. For an oldtime fan like myself, who prefer the printed page, this is very sad.


ROOM 770

— This was a St. Charles Hotel room registered to fans Max Keasler, Roger Sims, Rich Elsberry and Ed Kuss at the 9th Worldcon — nicknamed NOLacon — held in New Orleans in 1951. Frank Dietz had been hosting a room party which was asked to quiet down by a hotel detective, and Dietz resolved the matter by taking everyone to room 770 circa 11:00 PM Saturday night, whereupon a massive party developed which lasted till 11:00 AM the next morning. Numerous fans drifted in and out, including the legendary Sam Moskowitz, and just possibly, Canada’s Norman G. Browne for whom this was his first convention.

Time has transformed the room 770 party into an iconic fannish emblem, but the truth is it did have a pervasive impact on fandom right from the beginning, it was an instant legend in the making. As Harry Warner Jr. put it, room 770 was “…an unforgettable demonstration of the gradually developing fact that people really went to Worldcons to have a good time, not to listen to lectures or debate business. Room 770 played a part in the philosophy and orientation of a substantial part of fandom for years thereafter.” So much so that Mike Glyer chose it as the title for his newszine, presumably because it strikes the right note of fannish fun. (HWJ)


— Roscoe is the third major Ghod in Fannish religion (after Ghu – the greatest of the fannish Ghods — and Foo Foo), first revealed by American fans Art Rapp, Rick Sneary & Ed Cox in 1949. He takes the form of an invisible beaver ( obviously a Canadian deity! ) wearing a propeller beanie, who looks after fen everywhere.

THE BOOKS OF ROSCOE — Faned: Scott Patri, pubbed out of Cumberland, B.C. in July of 1994 — is the shacred bhible of a varient sect, in which Roscoe is believed to be squirrelish in nature.

However, the ‘pure’ Roscoe is Beaverish in nature and I thought you might like to read one of the original ‘revelations’ as it lays out precisely what Roscoe is and what he does:



By Arthur Rapp

From Spacewarp No. 27, June 1949  ( As reprinted in Hyphen 15, December 1956 )

As posted in  the Fanac Fan History Project at < http://fanac.org/fanzines/Miscellaneous/Roscoe.html >

There exists a gay young beaver; Roscoe is this beaver’s name,
and he seems like most young beavers, but he isn’t quite the same,
for although the rest are brownish, or a muddy greyish-blue,
when you take a look at Roscoe, why the look goes right on thru!

He cannot be seen in water, he cannot be seen in air,
and if he didn’t bite you, you would vow he wasn’t there.
But his teeth are keen as chisels and if you commit a sin,
Roscoe will find out about it, and he’ll bite you on the shin.

Roscoe watches out for stfen wheresoever they may be,
from the canyons to the desert, from the mountains to the sea.
He’s a kind and helpful beaver, aiding fen in many ways,
and he merits fannish worship on the Sacred Beaver Days.

These days are two in number: one’s the fourth day of July —
it’s the day when Roscoe flies a fiery spaceship in the sky.
In his honor, on that date, a truce should fall on fan dissension,
and every true disciple should assemble in convention.

The second day is Labor Day, the date of Roscoe’s birth,
when tribute should be paid him over all the fannish Earth,
when all fen shall meet their fellows to look back upon the year
and shall drink a toast to Roscoe in that other great ghod: Bheer.

Now, Roscoe helps his followers in many, many ways;
just to list them would consume about a hundred billion days:
he reduces typing errors; he makes fanclub laws more stable;
he keeps laid-down pens and styli from a-rolling off the table.

He makes mimeos print legibly, makes typer ribbons last;
he keeps hacks from pulling boners when they’re writing of the past;
he climbs into crowded newsstands, ferrets out the stfsh zines,
and attracts the fan’s attention via telepathic beams.

Roscoe crawls in cluttered corners where the bookstores’ treasures stand
and despite the dust and darkness guides the groping fannish hand
that it misses the obscuring mass of mundane, worthless books
and brings up the rare edition for which every stfan looks.

And it’s Roscoe who puts blinkers on the greedy dealers’ eyes
so they sell their stf like other pulps, at half the cover price,
and it’s Roscoe who takes cognizance of what you’re always wishin’
and arranges that you and the mag in perfect mint condition.

And many other boons befall those true and faithful fen
who agree that Roscoe merits being honoured among men,
and to prove that they are striving to full the Roscoe Goal,
submit their names for listing on the Roscoe Honor Roll.