Susan Smith-Clarke Fanzine Collection

It would not be unfair to say that Susan Smith-Clarke is one of the founding mothers of media SF fandom in Australia. The accompanying history of Star Trek fandom shows that Susan Smith-Clarke has been involved in many ways and through many years with fandom. She began this long career in high school as a literary SF fan, publishing her own fanzine - Girls own fanzine - of which the National Library holds two issues.

Her Beyond Antares, for long the official fanzine of the club Astrex, became one of the longest running Star Trek publications in the country. After its first beginnings, it was consistently a well-produced and well-edited fanzine, which deserved its long support from writers, artists and readers. Her Chronicles, a Blake's 7 fanzine, was in the same category.

Aside from her own publishing, Susan also acquired a large collection of fanzines, newsletters etc. by way of trade, contributor's copies (she is a prolific writer herself), subscription and simply because people "wanted her to have a copy".

This small piece of her collection which is now held by the National Library is a varied and interesting insight into the world of the science fiction fan in Australia over the last few decades.

Fanzine Publications in the Collection

The SF fanzine was, and still is, different to those publications called fanzines by cataloguers today.

The actual word means a magazine produced by a fan. Fan itself means, of course, a SF fan, just as Fandom, the collective noun, means SF fandom and nothing else. A non-fan is a mundane, which is why the word does not need any qualification.

The fanzine, began as an individually published periodical containing SF news, book/film/TV reviews, letters of comment from other fans (LoCs for short) and, sometimes, creative writing and artwork. This collection contains examples of this classic form - including MM; Gegenschein; Weberwoman's wrevenge; and Sweetness and light, among others.

Fans would, of course, send LoCs to other people's fanzines and they were often exchanged, on the basis of 'one of mine for one of yours'. The 'mainline' or 'literary' fans ( though this is something of a misnomer, since they were interested in films and TV programmes as well, eg Forbidden Planet, Star Trek and Quartermass) did belong to clubs and associations which published newsletters. In this collection, for example, there are two of these, namely the Canberra SF Society newsletter and the Australian SF news.

During the late 1960's and early 1970's, the sheer popularity of Star Trek pulled it away from the domain of the 'literary' fan and thus gave birth to the 'media SF' fan. Animosity between the two groups flared occasionally, but many managed to straddle the divide. This was reflected in their fanzines, eg Metaluna and USS Ultimus in this collection.

Some small clubs remained devoted to both, represented in this collection by two publications from the James Ruse Science Fiction Club, a small club of the 1970's based at the James Ruse Agricultural High School in Carlingford NSW - Event horizon and Star struck.

The Star Trek fans organised themselves into clubs, 'fan clubs'; small local ones at first, then eventually state-wide ones. These clubs accepted membership from fans in other states as well as their own. It was not unknown for one person to belong to several.

The clubs maintained a spirit of cooperation in most cases. Newsletters, flimsy things at first, but later becoming more substantial and better produced, were exchanged and information shared. It was in the hands of the media fans that the fanzine entered the next step of its evolution.

The club newsletters usually carried news, reviews and LoCs. This form of publication is well represented in this collection. It includes :

Besides the newsletter, it became the fashion for each club to publish as well a fanzine in the new sense i.e. a periodical devoted only to creative writing and artwork. Comment was limited to items published in previous issues. This collection has the example: Beyond Antares (originally privately published by Susan Smith-Clarke, but for many years the fanzine of ASTREX, the club of NSW);

As other SF television programmes/radio programmes/films appeared, fan movements formed for them as well. Dr. Who had, of course, a large fan following already. Time loop in this collection is representative of these. Blake's 7 likewise had a large, almost fanatic, following. Two club fanzines are in this collection - Aftermath's Xenon and The System's DSV-2, along with their newsletters - Phase and The System.

Other programmes and films represented are :

Star Wars (H.A.M.I.L.L.S.' Jedi report and Rebel report and Star walking's zine of the same name) ;

The structure of the SF fan club and its publications, as can be seen from above, has been adopted by the fans of programmes which are not science fiction. Many media SF fans find quite often that they are drawn to other TV programmes as well.

As it became obvious that many fans were followers of more than one programme, fanzines began to be produced, mostly by individuals, but still a collection of creative writing and artwork, dealing with a mixture of programmes/films etc. They were called 'mixed' or 'multi' media fanzines.

Examples included in this collection are: Inconsequential parallax; Murmurs; Companions; Tsalta.

Another publication running parallel with the others, is the publication, whether by a club or an individual, devoted to one character in a programme. In this collection, these are represented by :

The McCoy tapes (newsletter of Decoy, a fan club devoted to DeForrest Kelly, alias Dr. Leonard 'Bones' McCoy of Star Trek. Their fanzine Medical log is, unfortunately not represented here) ;

Pursuit (fanzine of T.N.T., a fan club devoted to Travis in Blake's 7, played by Brian Croucher.

Besides these publications, namely fanzines of both types and newsletters, there are two others known in fandom.

The first is the letterzine. This is a publication meant to be a forum for discussion. It can carry reviews, but is mostly concerned with LoCs from its readers. This collection has one example of this - Centero, which was originally a forum for Blake's 7, but later became a forum for all media SF.

The second is the Apazine. An apazine usually circulates among a small group of people. Again, it is usually a forum for discussion. The difference between it and a letterzine, is that each contributor supplies to the central collator enough copies of his contribution to be distributed to each member of the group. The central collator then collates and distributes the finished product. This collection again has only one example - Dodecahedron, a Dr. Who forum.

Since the advent of the younger, newer media fan, the clubs and their publications have become more sophisticated. Newsletters now are glossy and commercially produced affairs, concentrating on merchandise advertising and interviews with cast and crew, etc. The fanzine as a showcase for creative writing and artwork is now in decline, though many are still being produced. It seems that the creative energies and word battles of the past may have moved to the Internet.

Convention Publications in the Collection

Literary SF fans have been holding conventions, and national conventions for a long time.

In contrast, the media conventions are younger. Aussietrek 79 was the first Australian Star Trek convention with an international flair, being held in Sydney with George Takei, alias Mr Sulu as guest of honour. In this collection, are a number of issues of The Captain's briefs, the progress reports of the convention (which also did duty as a newsletter for the social functions associated with the pre-con buildup).

From this, predominantly Star Trek conventions were held all over the country. The first convention devoted to many different programmes was Medtrek 1, held at Medlow Bath in the Blue Mountains in 1982. Its programme book is in this collection. Programme books, advertising leaflets for clubs, fanzines, local attractions etc. and other things necessary for the full enjoyment of the convention, were all prepared for each registered attendee and supporting member (i.e. one who did not attend, but paid a discounted fee, gaining thereby voting rights) in what became known as 'con packs.' This collection has one almost complete con pack, minus the advertising material, namely for the Starfleet Academy Convention held in the 1980's. The other convention material is included in the attached list.

Post con reports were exactly that - reports sent to each attendee and supporting member after the convention, detailing comment, financial matters etc. A number of these are represented here - Trekcon 2; Conspire 1989; Conquest 1982; Conquest 1983 andEccentricon (Medtrek III).

Other Publications in the Collection

Also included in the Smith-Clarke collection are monographic publications. These are both media and original literary pieces. They include :

Ephemera is also included in the form of leaflets, welcoming letters to clubs, club constitutions etc.

There are also Star Trek and Blakes 7 calendars containing fan artwork.

A number of filksong books (filksongs being popular songs reworded for fans) are also held. These were a popular convention/club meeting entertainment.

One final publication will illustrate the wide interests of SF fans. In teddies we trust is the newsletter of a club of the same name. The club was for teddy bear collectors and its first members were from the media SF community.

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