Issue 15
Volume 4 Number 3
August 1999

In This Issue

 • Contents
 • Cover Illustration
 • Editorial
 • Stranger in a Strange Land
 • I Cuss, You Cuss, We All Cuss...
 • Dr Plokta and His Infeasibly Large Herpes
 • The P-Plan Diet
 • Lokta Plokta
 • Scenes From an Eclipse

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Stranger in a Strange Land

I'm a foreigner. I've been here for ten years but I'm still a foreigner. And I never feel it more than when trying to cope with England's foreign accents. Sorry, regional accents. I've just spent a couple of days in Cornwall, for work. "Therr be trobble at t' database, Miss Demelzerr. Oi be getting' integerr divoid boi zero errorrr..."

I travelled by train. There's less chance of getting lost that way, and they let me go first class, and I can catch up on my reading. I brought The Stone Canal, (blatant plug) and three disks of smut (thanks, Sue). I found I was getting through the book faster than expected, due to reading it during dinners as well as on the journey out. There's nothing like a pretentious restaurant that prides itself on silver service to prolong a meal, and you can't really sit there with a laptop.

So, anyway, I was starting to worry about not having enough to read on the four-hour return journey. I could read the smut, and I was doing that in the evenings in my room, but on a previous occasion I had nearly made myself sick trying to work on the laptop on the train. After about two hours I had a throbbing headache, a heaving gut and a flat battery, and it hadn't even been smut that time but actual work, so I didn't want to rely on the computer. The free copy of the Telegraph wouldn't last long either. I had to buy another book.

There weren't many shops near the hotel but I eventually found a small newsagent. They only had magazines, mostly the sort you buy for the pictures, not the words. I asked the nice lady if there were any bookshops nearby. Well, no, she said, not round here. But there's always Alster.

Alster? I said. Is it far to walk?

Oh, about twenty minutes, go up the hill to the roundabout and turn left.

I looked at my watch. Won't they be closed by then?

No, they're open till ten. Or there's Tesco, they're open late too.

Alster, I repeated uncertainly.

Alster, she replied firmly. Left at the roundabout. Twenty minutes.

So I set off, trudging up the hill. Alster. Don't remember any signs to Alster. Maybe that wasn't how it was spelt. I used to get terribly confused by someone who said he came from Ulster, until I saw it written down: Alcester. But I didn't think that was in Cornwall.

And did I really need a book, anyway? I have lots of books. I just don't have them here.

The thought of a four hour train journey with nothing but the Telegraph to read drove me on. And, anyway, it might be a really nice little bookshop, who knows what you might find, I told myself as I panted up the hill.

Alster Ulster Olster Alcester Towster Aoughlster as in Dun Laoghaire, I thought, as I trudged along, I love English place names. Still, I'm sure I'll recognise it when I see it.

I was getting desperate for a pee. This had better be a damn good bookshop.

Up the hill. Left at the roundabout. The sign on the roundabout said Truro. Down the hill. It's easily been twenty minutes. Nothing ahead but a long road full of houses. Then I saw it, on my left.


Oh, bollocks, I thought.

Then again, at least they'll have toilets in there.

And I bought a book, too.

Illo of Giulia and Steve

--Giulia de Cesare

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Grow Your Own

Photo: Hugo seed
Apparently Steve traded
a cow for it

Dr Plokta's latest horticultural venture, rocket-ship grafting, can be seen above, following a daring midnight raid on Peter Weston's greenhouses. If you water regularly and keep it in a warm place then it should produce a full-sized Fanzine Hugo by 2073.


The Hertfordpark Hotel was getting into the spirit of things by the end of Seccon. The menu holder on the reception desk as we checked out contained the following:


Future Convention
Science Fiction


Cream of Genetically Modified Tomato Soup
Finished with Herb Croutons

Forcefed Smoked Goose
With Test Tube Baby Sweetcorn


Mass Farmed Trout Fillet
On Radiated Seasonal
Dutch Leaves

Gravity-Free Grown
Vegetables Stir Fry

MIR Style

Cloned Soya Milk Fed Lamb
On Sauté Rocket Leaves


Illuminated Chernobyl Fruit Pie

Deep Fried Mars Bars