cover by Pablo Vitruvian

           Last August I rejoined SFPA, which stands for Southern Fandaom PressAlliance.  A couple different times back  in the mists of prehistory, I was in SFPA, the first time, when I was fifteen.  (Dave Hulan was OE first time I joined.) I said it was in the mists of prehistory. I was never the most active (or illustrious) member, but man, SFPA was great for me, growing up in the sixties.  Not only did it connect me to other SF fans, it sort of connected me to the wider world beyond my home town of Metropolis,Illinois (population 6,800), and it introduced me to a lot of people way cooler than just about anybody I knew personally.  I mean, as far as I was concerned (and still am) Dave Hulan, Bill Plott, Al Andrews, Dick Ambrose, Hank Reinhardt, Joe Staton, who once stenciled  an entire issue of my fanzine Outre’ for me, and all the rest of the folks in SFPA were way cool.

            Over the years, I wondered once in a while what was happening in SFPA, and when I finally ventured onto the internet, I’d google it every so often.  I saw things about it sometimes, but for some reason never saw a way to contact the apa.  Then I happened onto the SFC (Southern Fandom Confederation) website and sent Sheila Strickland, who was listed as Official Editor, $5.00 for a sample mailing.  (The website’s a little behind the times.  I guess my first clue shoulda been that it mentioned SFPA’s approaching fortieth anniversary, not its fiftieth.)  Sheila wrote back that she was no longer OE but would forward my check to Guy Lillian III.  A few days later the sample mailing appeared on our doorstep along with a note from Guy inviting me to rejoin.  I was torn:  Sounded like fun, but I begrudged the time.

             I decided to give it a try though.  I figured fanzines had to be easier now.  No correction fluid, no cranking mimeo handles, no cutting illos onto stencils with a stylus, no collating.  Let the good times roll, I thought, and I rejoined and started publishing my new fanzine, Dumbfounding Stories (the title is a goof on all the old pulp titles like Amazing, Astounding, Astonishing, and Fantastic; I was thinking, what similar adjective was never used in a science-fiction magazine title?) Anyway, it’s been interesting: amateur press alliances (APAs) are kinda like hard-copy chatrooms and were once very big in SF fandom, many of them having a long waitlist for membership. The past decade has seen their popularity decline, of course, as people have departed them for chatrooms, blogs, facebook, etc. SFPA is currently down to twenty-one members out of a possible membership of thirty. And frankly, putting out an apazine is more time consuming (and expensive) than going on a blog or chatroom or Facebook, or Goodreads , all of which provide pretty similar opportunities. Still I’m not regretting getting back involved. For one thing, a couple of members send their excellent genzines (general interest SF fanzines) through the apa. Guy Lillian sends his alway intersting and large  hugo-nominated zine, Challenger, with contributors like Mike Resnick and Gregory Benford, through SFPA. Robert Jennings sends every issue of Fadeaway, an excellent zine about SF pulps, old time radio, and comics through SFPA. A year’s subscription to Fadeaway runs $15.00 and a single issue of Challenger runs $6.00, so right there you pretty much got your $20.00 a year SFPA dues covered. Two other particulary enjoyable zines that come through SFPA are Rich Dengroves’s Twygradasil, in which he covers everything from obscure eighties SF novels, to sixites UFO magazines, to independent movies, and professional journalist Gary Brown’s Oblio, which focuses on comics. There are a lot of enjoyable shorter zines, too, most of which feature book and movie reviews and natter about their editor’s daily life.

           Anyway, I’ll stop rambling on here, and just say that I enjoy getting the mailing every two months, although I begrudge the time that producing hardcopy takes compared to blogging or writing on Goodreads.  Oh, one more thing, SFPA’s fiftieth anniversary mailing will be out in October. I’m kinda glad to be back in time for that.


Cover by pablo Vitruvian

About kentmcdanielwrites

Writer and musician.

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