Lokta Plokta

[Editorial comments in italics like this. Please let us know if you don't want us to put your letter/fillos on the web site. We start with a letter that arrived just a tiny bit too late for ish 2.]

Vicki Rosenzweig

I do wish that if people wanted to film New York, they'd come here. No I don't. It's a nuisance: the police insist that you can't walk down the street because someone is filming a commercial, or a stunt, or some damned thing that I'm never going to watch. I guess I wish they'd just find a Hollywood back lot and stop trying to pretend that Toronto or Vancouver or London was New York. They're welcome to film, in Toronto, and the Torontonians are nice people and probably won't mind, I just wish the film people would admit it was Toronto, which is a nice city and deserves some publicity.

I'm trying to figure out what it says about me that I had to look at all the fuss about AOL and Scunthorpe for several days before sorting out what it was in the name Scunthorpe that anyone could object to. (I was breaking it "Scun-thorpe," like any sensible person.)

I should note that, while the soap was microwaved in Moshe Feder's kitchen, the idea was provided by Teresa Nielsen Hayden, who in turn got it from an intern at Tor Books. (Ivory is supposed to work best, because of the air bubbles injected so it will float when dropped in the bath.)


You bastards! There I was, knackered after two solid weeks of late night costuming, plus the events the costumes were for, along with all the associated set up and take down/ clearing up afterwards. I got home to East London, it was nearly midnight and I needed sleep.

There, lying seductively by the bed was one of the few 'zines I have been known to read from cover to cover (I don't even do that with the one I edit!). As a result, it was well after 1 a.m. by the time I settled down to sleep.

This morning there was a tube-strike, I got to work late, exhausted, and lacking the ability to concentrate on my work. I blame you, for all of it!....

...Er... On reflection, that's a little unfair, and this LoC is probably better suited, in tone at least, to being directed at Attitude. Since, however, I have never gotten around to reading an entire issue of Attitude (I usually don't get any further than reading the bits by Alison, Sue and Kari, out loud on the train home from work... but that's another story) I'm sending it to you anyway.

I'm not sure what Plokta has (or means, for that matter, but I don't really care so that's OK) but it must be something weird if I can read it all the way through. Perhaps it's the bit on the back cover with all the little boxes (ticked and unticked) that the postman gets to read whilst delivering the thing.

Q: "Alison Scott. Baby. Why?" My A: "It's probably a biological clock thing." -- when I asked Alison, she didn't deny this. She did, however, mention passionate sex on a beach, then went on to explain that this was, in fact, not possible because of the abrasiveness of the sand. Sometimes conversations with Alison are like that...

Jane Barnett
SPROGTECHTM project co-ordinator, SPROGTECHTM

Dear Pod, We at SPROGTECHTM have engineered a product to fit your PRECISE needs as you make your first fashion statement as a sprog AND MORE. DID YOU KNOW, sir or madam, that an adult will lose approximately 20% of their body heat via their head? What then of SPROGS, who are statistically VASTLY MORE LIKELY to have MUCH LESS HEAD HAIR? Don't Panic, for we at SPROGTECHTM have the answer. Hi-tech spun acrylic fibre meets traditional hand knitting methods in this unique, personalised collector's piece (colours chosen in the best possible taste. Includes Dayglo pink for easy location) with message


Also, a new and innovative feature permitting adjustment of size: you may never escape outgrow this product. TOO BIG? Just turn up the edge as many times as required. TOO SMALL? Turn edge down as required. This product is also washable, vastly extending its hardwearing abilities in the tough sprog environment, and can survive active sports such as Long-Range Attack Possetting. (To a limited extent. SPROGTECHTM accept no responsibility for long term lack of desire to go anywhere near product following bouts. Clients posset at their own risk.)

[We were intending to include a photo of Steven Cain wearing the hat in question, as he is also VASTLY MORE LIKELY to have MUCH LESS HEAD HAIR. Plus Jane has knitted it big enough to fit almost anybody, sprog or not. But we forgot, and he's in Brussels now.]

Carol Willis

I didn't ignore you last time -- you should have received an e-mail saying thanks and offering to pass on yet another birth report to put the fear of delivery into Alison. If you want the graphic details of how bad it was for me just ask :-). Secondly, I deny ever having denied being scandalous -- I've been working really hard to qualify as scandalous so being accused of denying it is a bad thing.

Which reminds me, I was dead chuffed to notice you had a review for the Discworld convention -- it seems to be going largely un-noticed due to the fact that almost all the attendees (including most of the committee and guests) were neos, so in spite of the fact that most of Sue's article consisted of slagging off the meal (which I got roped in to organising so I'm tempted to sulk) I'm so glad you noticed us that I don't care and besides no-one expects hotel banquets to be edible do they... She could have mentioned the bouncy castles and ball pool, the chairman's heroism in extinguishing the fire with his posh new dj, the dunking the chairman in custard at the end of the con or the mass purity testing that went on but no, sulk (ok ok, so I couldn't resist a little sulk after all).

Julian Headlong

Your digital camera must rank near the top in terms of completely superfluous technology...but my favourite is still the Melles Griot 632.8 nm Helium-Neon Laser (part of the Bayer H*3 Haematology Analyser)...mainly because I get to fix them when they break...

...but it's hard to choose sometimes...there's the electric beard trimmer, the electric screwdriver, the electric wok, the electric...well you get the idea...it seems there's no job too trivial and no tool so mundane that a jazzy electric version can't be sold to someone... [Actually, Steve owns most of those...]

Colin Greenland

My hippy chums and I used to enjoy something that for some reason was called a dilch, which I believe we learned from the pages of Smokestack El Ropo's Bedside Reader. You take another of those same dry cleaners' bags, twist it loosely into a rope, tie a few knots in it and hang it from the ceiling. Beneath it you carefully place a washing-up bowl half full of water. Then you turn the lights out and set fire to the end. I suppose I should have said this is one of the things best done after dark.

Peter Crump

Funny old thing this life business. Just when I thought I wouldn't get around to apas, locs, OU, etc, this month, I find myself with a whole week free to catch up on those few things I loosely classify as Not-Work. Mind you, it did involve a modicum of pain -- such as dropping a large, weighty Belfast sink on my foot, breaking it in two places (my foot, that is; the sink broke cleanly into five useless but expensive sections). I was wearing good quality rubber wellingtons at the time, which did nothing to deflect the rapidly descending sink but did make a strange PLOKT sound when struck with half a hundredweight of kitchen fixture. Followed immediately by my "AAAAARGHHH!", the combination PloktAAAAARGHHH! reminded me, rather unbelievably, that I had a loc pending. Funny what you think about in these situations, isn't it?

After X-rays to confirm the damage I was told to rest with my foot in an elevated position and to be sure I took the anti-inflammatories with food. The good news -- confirming that I really was expected to sit around with my feet up for a few days and eat a lot -- was tempered by the fact that they weren't going to give me any crutches to get around on. Not even one. Are you seriously suggesting I should walk on a broken foot? "Walking around on your foot will help the healing process." Wrong. Walking around on it hurts like a total bastard and can't be doing any good at all unless, of course, I misheard "screaming" as "healing".

So now, crutchless, as it were, I hop or crawl pathetically everywhere, and neither mode of transportation allows me to get my usual endless stream of hot coffee from A (the kitchen) to B (the computer where it's needed). Solutions on a postcard, please.

So. Plokta. Hmm. Hope the fund-raising for your Leg-Over Fan Fund went OK. I look forward to further pictures from the Erotic Fruit Eating Contest, what with all the fun you could have with nuts, plums, melons and "a nice pear". I don't know about "erotic", but why aren't there any really funny fruits? I mean, a vegetable shaped vaguely like wedding tackle from the right angle gets all the laughs, whereas a truly phallic banana barely raises a titter.

[Plokta, of course, would never stoop to printing pictures of truly phallic bananas. Oh, no. We have been chastened by the news that in Hong Kong, the editor of a magazine has been fined HK$200,000 and sentenced to a year in jail for publishing pictures of erotic fruit. This story came via Private Eye, admittedly, but it might be true.]

Con newsletters. "I eat, drink and sleep in the newsroom..." says it all, really. Someone has to do it, I suppose. I wasn't at Intersection and so can't judge whether it was all worth it in the end or just a senseless waste of human life.

Foetuses. You think it's weird now? Just wait until the thing's on the outside. You've heard this all before but then you'll find out just what **CAFFEINE DEFICIENCY ALERT** Ah.

Jammy Weasel

Postcard of woman with bananaReverse of postcard


It's a great fanzine. You bastards.

I feel very foolish for not getting the Pod Cain -- Podkayne reference first time round -- I just thought "Pod" would be a good name for a bump whoever's it was.

I disagree with John Dallman. I think the staples should be put closer together.

That trick you mention with the Amaretto biscuit papers is rumoured to be a guide to virility -- the higher your paper flies, the more virile you are. I thought about the phenomenon, and rolled my paper into the optimum shape for flight (narrow top, wide bottom). It flew straight up to the ceiling and stayed there until it was burnt out. What a stud! They looked at physicists in a new light after that.

Jane Barnett may be interested in using my services in trying to discover which of the Plokta cabal it is that is deeply attracted to her. For, using arcane arts of graphology, I am able to tell by the ticks in the tick boxes which of you is ticking what! Some ticks are so neat they are obviously the product of a very, er, controlled psyche (retentive, even?), some begin with a neat down-stroke but show flair and self-expression on the up-stroke (domineering, but with style), and one is a big, curly sweep ("I'm left handed. Ticks are bloody difficult!"). See? It would be even easier if they all used different pens.

We got up to some mischief while I was working as a scientist. The laboratory's designated figure of fun bought a Mars Bar every morning and put it in the fridge to cool, for his lunch. It's surprising how difficult it is to eat a Mars Bar that has been dipped in liquid nitrogen. We decided not to try the same trick with his daily can of Coca Cola.

Phil Bradley

Jill! Jill! That thing's arrived again!

What thing? Oh... that thing... What does it say this time?

Apparently we ignored it last time, but it's turned up again. It's going to ask us to do something embarrassing, and if we don't it's going to make up scandal about us!

Oh -- does it know about the evening with the ah... mmmm... no, surely not. Or maybe it's heard about what we did on Brighton beach? Or perhaps -- good grief -- it doesn't know about that does it? We're for it if that's the case...

Should we open it do you suppose?

Umm. Well -- we won't know what we're supposed to do which is embarrassing if we don't will we?

Well -- maybe you'll have to do another awful pun with Doug at the masquerade? Or I'll have to do another spoof bid? Perhaps we'd better leave it alone for a while. Get it a glass of water; it'd be a kindness.

Oh -- do Ploktas drink water? Perhaps we should make it some breakfast do you suppose?

Well, we could, but I'm not sure what they eat. Or indeed, how they eat!

Ah. Yes. Good point, good point.

Go on then -- open it!

No -- you open it.

Oh. Alright then. I'll open it.

<time passes>

It was rather good, wasn't it?

Yes, it was rather. Strange, but good. Very much -- sort of -- well...


Yes, that's the word. It was very Ploktaish.

Is that it then?

I don't know. One can never tell with something which is Ploktaish.

No, you can't. Not really.

What was the embarrassing thing we were supposed to do?

I'm not sure really.

Perhaps we're not supposed to know. That would be a Ploktaish sort of thing, wouldn't it?

Yes, I think that, somehow, it might be.

[Ed note: we've had to correct so many apostrophe abuses in this LoC that we're wondering if you two are closet greengrocer's.]

Pat McMurray

Dear Pod, Your existence was announced in Plokta. Yes, the same Plokta that's failed to win the Nova award for all these years -- well how could it, it's not published in Leeds after all. I must admit that there was some debate as to whether or not you were a spoof, what with Alison's sense of humour, and the noted skating over thin ice truthwise so evident in Plokta. One might almost describe everything mentioned about me as being Double Plus Untrue.

Looking at the calm sedate accountant and civil servant satsuma who form your parents you may find it difficult to believe half the stories you hear about their younger days in fandom. Well, it's all true! And I'll happily point you towards those who have the evidence.

DM Sherwood

Thought I'd sent you a LoC... Didn't miss much it involved a lot of words like mediocre ...Ok I guess...Harmless enough way to waste a ½ hour... This issue is better... a bit.

Alison Scott's bit on babies was Ok altho not as much fun as Helena Bowles but then it should liven up a bit when you get to the juicy bits about screaming with mind-shattering agony as the contractions come on.

PS you could do with another staple.

The Hampshire Slash Fan
[no address given; who could it be?]

At last! A fanzine with

Excellent. The only thing that would improve it would be the inclusion of pictures of barely dressed anorexic elven boys abusing each other.

Still, can't have everything.

[Always happy to oblige....Sue?]

"You suck..."
"No, you suck."
"Heh. Heh...heh...heh"
Beavis & Butthead as elves
Barely dressed anorexic elven boys abusing each other. Which leads us into...

Linda Krawecke

Turn my back on fandom for 5 minutes (so OK, 5 years) and what do I find? Alison's knocked up, guzzling real ale and doing a fanzine. And one so full of superfluous technological -- uh, stuff! Why I remember (...get out your vaseline to smear over the camera lens...) when you were just a sweet young thing, new to the Griffin meetings at Charing Cross. My, how we laughed in those days! And how well I remember a virginal, zinc-free Alison placing her order for a round of drinks and how the Griffin bar staff listened in awe as I'd go up with the kitty, order a round for the girls. "3 pints bitter, 2 of lager, 2 white wines, a G&T and... and... a pint of coke" -- "Again!!?!" -- "Yes, Another pint of coke." And I thought you were just naturally talkative. Now I realise that the sugar & caffeine rush was just the beginning of the road that has led you to this current state of being a swizzling faan-girl who's up the spout!! Congratulations!

Thanks to the Plokta cabal -- the zine makes a good little read. Besides looking so damned good thanks to your sup-tec, I find it more to my taste to read through some good, fun, short sharp articles/comments than wade through a long line of attempts at "writing" -- keep up the good work, and above all, keep it fun. Best bits: separated at birth, Ask Dr Plokta, Gadget of the Month, pictures of knitted Clangers, and Pod's e-mail. As for slash fiction -- I've been dallying with Beavis & Butthead slash: "Ow! Cut it out! Duh! HuhHuh -- Huh Huh!" And hey -- Griselda Esmerelda is my favourite name -- well at least Griselda (had a cat called Griselda -- mean bitch -- long story). Any how -- keep up the fun stuff!!

[Beavis & Butthead slash? By a strange coincidence...]

SMS & Eira

[Attached to a party invite...]
We've sent you this invite because:

Steve Jeffrey

Hang on, I am Superfluous Technology. More properly, perhaps, a Superfluous Technologist. Or I am since June, along with another 50 odd researchers on this site. The wonders of corporate (Superfluous) Technology Consultants.

OK, so you're not neos (although any truly established faned would have waited a decent interval, say 12 years, before following up with the second issue), so the Ansibles were probably an oversight. And the leather and latex ad (oh, god, what have I sent Nigel Richardson then?)

Unfortunately there's nothing suitable superfluously technological I can send on to be turned into items of conceptual art. Basically, I'm typing on it.

Waxen Wings and Banana Skins 3 (ST rating 4½/5) takes Superfluous Technology (I'm going to have to shorten this, you know: either to SuperTec or perhaps even more in the right spirit, run it as a macro that will replace all instances of ST automatically with the phrase 'Superfluous Technology' from now on. It seems the properly superfluous thing to do) to Superfluous Technologyrange new heights with the wonderful concept of Identical Sheep. Yes, you can take cells from a living sheep and make another one juSuperfluous Technology the same. An aSuperfluous Technologyounding concept. Except... how would you know? JuSuperfluous Technology suppose somebody came in and switched your Identical Sheep (and passing over the queSuperfluous Technologyion of whether it was the Identical Sheep which they took, as opposed to the FirSuperfluous Technology One) for another one that was AlmoSuperfluous Technology the Same? It could cause all sorts of problems.

You know, I don't think this macro idea is working at all... It must be Insufficiently Technological. Or Superfluous.

Back in the Dark Ages, when IBM was a curse force upon the Land, and delivered things like the AS/400 into the eager hands of accounts administrators, there was a mild craze for making them More Cuddly than IBM engineers had perhaps allowed into their design ("Oh surely not" I hear you cry. "What could possibly be More Cuddly than a featureless grey box, even more Identical than sheep?") But it was, and benighted people invented Computer Critters, with floppy ears that you tie around your poor, and now desperately embarrassed, AS/400 so that people would think it all Desperately Cute and adopt it as a friend.

Dave Mooring

I'm having a hard time paying attention to fandom at the moment. Most of the 'zines I've seen have contained the usual bland mixture with only the names changed to protect the innocent. Half of fandom seems intent on re-writing articles from about ten years ago, changing the names and adding a few topical references, very like soap advertising. first we brought you Sudso, Now! Improved Sudso, New! Sudso with Biopower!, New! Eco-Sudso, Sudso with Fabric Conditioner, Sudso with Stain Releasers etc. Need I go on? None of them seem to get your clothes really clean at modern low temperatures.

Where are the writers of yesteryear? Where is the vitriol, the bitter blood feuds and the mutilated corpses. Why is everyone so F'kin nice these days? And how are you supposed to write a LoC when nobody ever says things worth disagreeing with. It must be five years since anyone wrote an article in which they even got laid! Mind you thinking about the charm of most of the current crop of writers that's not so surprising. [You just weren't reading "The Alien Within Her" carefully enough...]

I'm a big Clangers fan, nice to see the pinups, I've got one of the rare X rated videos and could be induced to trade if you've got the 1972 'Full frontal with soup' shot of Mother Clanger from the out-takes of the Space Chicken shoot.

I'm quite fond of the cutesy reasons for sending the zine too, but please let it be known I'm not shaving my legs again for anyone, not even Sue. Once a lifetime is enough. Mind you there are several things I can imagine her wearing to great effect. Oh! and curiosity drives me to ask Sue for at least a description of this fabled cucumber picture. [A photocopy is winging its sweaty way to you now. You asked for it...]

I have doubts about some of the population, especially those who make excessive use of computers. The use of words like Web and Net also worry me as they give a distinct impression that the whole system runs on string.

BombA nice little thought for you now. Obtain some glycerine, (a good pharmacist may let you have some on the pretext that you are a street performer specialising in bubbles) [Alison's Ed note: Indeed, I have purchased glycerine in the past on this precise pretext -- and had a moment of slight embarrassment when the girl on the counter said "Do you find this is helpful with chesty coughs?" and I had to explain that I wanted it for six foot bubbles, for which it is certainly helpful.] and some nitric acid, (the best place for this is likely to be your local university labs, try drifting in with a bunch of students early in the term, the security is a joke). Next strip down a good freezer or two... [The rest of the detailed description of how to make nitro-glycerine has been deleted on advice of Counsel. Kids, don't try this at home. Much better to try it in someone else's home, where any substantial structural damage will not have to be paid for by your parents on top of your funeral costs.]

Also for free fireworks, try golf balls on small open fires. I'm never sure if I'm a product of a misspent youth or a dodgy education, I strongly suspect the misspent youth but we really should ask Sue about that as she's the expert on youth usage.

Jan van't Ent

Wow! a serious in-con report (nicely done, Steve, I realize I missed some of the worst parts, like opening panic, but I recognized the lot, and enjoyed it, and couldn't agree more with that paragraph singing the wonders of the Gestetner, that's never superfluous!) ... but that Fyffe ... DON'T DO THAT! ... it hurt so much when I fell off my chair with explosive laughter.

I should probably mention that Sue's little piece on the Discworld Banquet made me almost feel not too bad after all for having missed that. (You know, being shy, and usually not buying fine art, I don't think I ever approached the formidable lady, except with hot off the press newsletters in hand.)

Mostly though, I'm afraid of being quietly dropped from the mailing list by some superfluous technophile applet.


It is simply not true, as the tick on the bacover asserts, that I ignored you when you sent me issue 1 of Plokta. OK, so I did not respond immediately (OK, at all, if you want to be pedantic) to your initial overtures, but this was a brand new relationship and relationships take time. I read it, enjoyed it, though finding little common ground was not prompted into any response... but it served the purpose of introducing you to me, individually and variously, so that with this second issue we can being to slip into an easy familiarity, or at least we can providing I first uphold my side of the bargain and join in the conversation.

Our youngest daughter Bethany getting married this year puts us, on the parent front, about as far away from Alison's perspective as we can get... As our other daughter, Deborah, is thinking of getting married next year I think we can safely say that PC-wise my more ambitious yearnings will be as chaff in the wind before this season of matrimonial hurricanes. A word to the wise -- if Pod turns out to be [a] female and [b] the eldest of 23 sisters, then anticipate a serious crimp in the finances available for future publications and their requisite technology.

Alison's piece though had various resonances. I often for instance come home from work, have my dinner, feel tired, and fall asleep, but until reading Plokta 2 I hadn't realised that this was presumably because I was pregnant. Another (at least soon to be) point of similarity is that I also have stretch marks, though for the life of me I've never been able to figure out how or why.

I do though know how little booze ones permitted alcohol consumption actually is... and that's mine, never mind a pregnant woman's! As a potential alcoholic who brews his own beer it behoves me to know all about units of alcohol. It is true that one unit of alcohol appears to occupy precisely the same volume as half a charmed quark. Health-wise I was always fortunate in that poverty prevented me buying too much hard liquor, and a weak bladder prevented me consuming too much home-brewed beer, so I used to reckon on 3 pints a night during the week and five pints a day at the weekend. Mind you this was 50 units of alcohol, and a tad over the recommended 21. Fortunately, whilst I am a potential alcoholic, Cas is a frustrated abolitionist, and what's more she could nag for England. Cutting down to two pints a night during the week and taking on board the additional recommendation of two days each week with absolutely no alcohol consumption got me down to about 32 units each week (although Christmas, and the occasional bottle of scotch blew this right out of the water). Still not healthy, but there was no way I was going to get down to 21 units. Then I read an article (in the doctor's surgery as it happens, which lent it extra credibility), that said 30 units was probably a more sensible limit (which officialdom has since virtually accepted). So there I was on 32 units a week, with nary a hope of getting down to 21, but suddenly they move the goalposts and with minimal extra abstinence it's possible I might not be the scum of the earth. So I upped my non-drinking days to 3 and now I'm officially classed as a 'moderate' drinker.

Of course I appreciate that's just my background drinking, but we've all got to start somewhere.

Richard Brandt

Good to see something like Plokta on the web. The Strelkov art is indeed a reminder that some things are possible on the Web that are more difficult to accomplish in a paper publication.

I helped produce the daily newszine for the 1987 NASFiC. We hired an offset printer to handle the duplicating. One night towards the end of the con he informed us that his camera had broken with our next-to-last issue sitting on it. Not every 'zine can make a claim like that.

Alasdair Hepburn

1. Re the customisation of Plokta #2. What do you mean "You ignored us last time"? Scanning in the entire cover doesn't count, huh? [Oops!]
2. Give Pod a keyboard. Ask the fannish midwife for advice.

Allen Baum

I have here in my hot little hands a technical note from the Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) Western Research Labs (#TN-13) entitled "Characterization of Organic Illumination Systems", Bill Hamburgen et. al. (April 1, 1989, reprinted June '92). This definitive work proves that kosher dill pickles are superior to Cornichon's, and that mandarin oranges make lousy illumination. Gastronomical effects are discussed, and comparisons are made to incandescent lighting.

Science triumphs again.

Jerry Kaufman

We'll add you to our mailing list. Someday another Mainstream will appear and the stars will wobble in their courses.

I am uncertain how to react to your adulation of Pat McMurray.

If the Energizer Bunny was stolen in Britain and forced to advertise Duracell, what other American commercial icons have been stolen as well? Does Tony the Tiger advertise Wheaties? Does Mr. Whipple squeeze the MD?

Ken Slater

I apologise for not commenting on Plokta #1. I fear I do not read fanzines on arrival; I hold the opinion that fanzines resemble good wine, cheese, hares, haunches of venison, and the like, and require storage before consumption. For example, I am currently reading (in odd moments: I save the even moments for dizzy spells) Rob Hansen's NOW.

I did get around to reading some of Plokta #1: Mike Scott's Calendrical Article in particular, which I can confirm as accurate from personal experience. [Come off it, Ken; you're not that old...] I'll try and read Plokta #2 before the Millennium, whenever it happens....


I read with mounting horror the fate of that which is referred to as obsolete technology. Does Tom Abba do to 486's what he does to teddy-bears? [Yes.]

I have access to and exclusive use of an original Amstrad 8256 (walnut veneer, signed Amstradivarius 1652).

PS. I've got the fishnets, but I'd have to borrow Teddy's stilettos (unless you mean the sixteenth century Italian daggers. Then I'd borrow Phil's).

Paul Barnett

Jane's Dad likes her wearing whatever she wants to -- or, in this instance, doesn't want to. Hm: I might have warned her about hypothermia, though.

Harry Warner Jr.

If I seemed to ignore your first issue, I offer you apologies and congratulations. The two of you two and one-half of you are in superb company, you see; entire generations of the finest fanzine editors in the known universe, down through the ages, who have all failed to receive a loc from me on a fanzine.

However, I hasten to do my thing for the second issue which you've kindly sent. Some of it resembles a wig, because your computer chatter is over my head. No, I don't know what Plokta stands for, but I do know I wasted quite a few minutes under the impression that it's an anagram, until I looked again and found it's an acronym.

For personal reasons, I'll never become pregnant, so I must rely on items like 'The Alien Within Her' to give me information on what it's like. I do keep wondering about the nausea that seems to afflict most pregnant women, particularly those who are about to have their firstborn. It can't possibly be a part of natural selection, since quite healthy, normal babies are born to many women who have puked on a regular schedule for months while pregnant. It would seem to run counter to propagation of the species, the goal of all life, because I suppose in extreme cases it could contribute to a miscarriage. Is it mostly the result of nerves and of apprehension from hearing from so many people about how morning sickness is an inevitable part of pregnancy? It would be difficult but interesting to shield some prospective matrons from all knowledge of the upchucking tradition and see if they are spared this particular nuisance.

Alison feeling nauseousIt suddenly dawned on Steven that Alison's nausea wasn't all in her mind.

I think Buck Coulson has it backward. Ties are fannish because they symbolize anti-conformity. Hardly anyone wears ties nowadays (unless they are deeply into bondage fandom, of course) and thus, walking around without a tie is conformity to the tyranny of the masses. I wear a tie except in the hottest weather, and this causes people to stare at me on the street and when fans come visiting, whispering among themselves about what a bold, strong-willed person I must be to brave the fashion and the moeurs of the nation and even the world.

"So, are we neos or Neolithic? Answers on a poctsarcd please." The second sentence replies to the first. Only Neolithic fans know how to spell poctsarcd correctly.

You really should give firm but polite orders on where to address locs on Plokta. I never feel comfortable in my mind, fearing that the address I chose out of two alternatives will make the possessor of the other address unhappy. In this instance, I decided to choose by giving myself the treat of writing to the more picturesque address of the two. [These Americans! First time I've ever heard the address "Tower Hamlets Road, Walthamstow" described as picturesque.]

Annie Massing

Going off coffee when you are pregnant is old hat. Everybody does that. Eating coal... ha! Nothing. When I was carrying my first daughter Hannah, I went off Biros. Yes, you read that right... BIROS. And it was a very specific sort of biro. It was the clear ones with the tube of ink in them.

It started with red ones. The red ones made me feel very ill. Especially if the ink was all broken up in the tube. I could taste them. Yuck! When it was only the red ones it wasn't too bad, but eventually I couldn't stand blue ones and then finally black ones either. I still prefer to write with a black pen to this day (9 years on). I worked for Games Workshop at the time as a sales assistant. It became very difficult to fill in access/visa slips or write details on the back of cheques.

Eventually, the dislike grew to other forms of pigment. As part of my job at the games shop I had to maintain the stocks of model paints. By the time I left I was having a hard time with these as well. In particular there was a fluorescent pink which tasted disgusting and a sort of 'mouldy' green too. The people around me thought I was completely barking but it was a very real nausea I was feeling.

My mother-in-law of the time told me she had a craving for DuMaurier cigarettes while she was pregnant. No, she didn't want to smoke them. She didn't even want to eat them. It was the box she liked. The little red box with gold lettering but it had to have the cellophane on it. She didn't like it with the cellophane off. She used to buy a box of 10 to keep in her handbag until it got damaged in some way and then she'd throw it away and get another one. She used to worry all the time that someone would see them in her bag and think she was smoking them.

We Also Heard From:

Valerie Housden, Sean Ellis "I'm somewhat nonplussed by Sue's imagination of me in fishnets and stilettos", Chuck Connor "It seems that my status as rampant hot tottie sex kitten (want your body by return of post) is no more," Colin Fine, Morris Keesan"Superfluous technology: a special machine for hanging up on telephone solicitors, for people who are too inhibited to say 'piss off'", Dave Langford"If Martin Tudor succeeds in his mad plan to produce TAFF report instalments while actually in transit and have US fans e-mail them back home, expect them to appear rapidly at http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/SF-Archives/Taff/TAFFrep.html", Mike Cheater, Andy Sawyer "re your recent tick-boxes-with-fanzine-attached", Harry Andruschak "I am now planning a vacation to Antarctica for November 1997" and Buck Coulson "That's cabal of crows, I believe." [No, I think you'll find it's a parliament of crows. Also, an apology to anyone who e-mailed us whose e-mail has gone missing; Alison brought it on a disk which promptly went belly up. This means any e-mail which she didn't forward to Steve will have to be picked up next time.]

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