Walter A. Willis
(from Oopsla #9, January 1953)
Well, here we are again with another issue of your favorite magazine, and mine. Of course, yours must have been out for quite a while now, and mine is a bit late this year. Sorry about that, folks, but things have been kind of rough with your old pal RAP.
First thing was, the Australians let off one of those phlogiston bombs of theirs and blew all my cows off their feet. That wasn't so bad, because the Russians let off another one and blew them all right way up again, and now I get my butter without having to churn it. But then the Chinese dropped a whole battery of bombs and blew all my carrots right up out of the ground. One of the really big ones came down again on Dick Shaver and hit him a terrible blow on the head. I'm afraid it's affected his brain, because he doesn't believe in the Shaver Mystery anymore. And from that special issue of Doubt that came out the other day it looks to me as if a couple of those carrots landed as far away as New York and hit Tiffany Thayer just as he was leaving a meeting of the Fortean Society.
This sort of thing has got to stop. I want to say right here and now that I'm getting mighty tired of all these governments pushing my crops around, when I'm perfectly able to rotate them myself. I warn them frankly that they'd better stop right away or I'll do something drastic that'll shake them to their foundations. I might even publish another pocketbook. "The Coming Of The Carrots" maybe. It wasn't so bad when the Government just messed up the weather -- nothing but rain or snow or clouds or sunshine all the time -- but what am I going to do with all these carrots? I just don't know where to put them. Any suggestions?
I'll bet you took one look at that contents page and sat right back on your seat. Right? What a line-up -- Robert N. Webster, Richard S. Shaver, Frank Patton, A. R. Steber, Wes Amherst, and G.H. Irwin! What more could you ask for? Well, some of you -- maybe not more than a mere 99 percent but I want all you readers to feel you have a say in 'our' magazine -- have been asking what about all those stuffed-shirt writers I used to run in Other Worlds, people like Sturgeon and Russell. I'm glad you asked me that. Some of you won't know the full story of why I left Other Worlds and I'd like to straighten you out on it. Well, first off I got to admit it was my own fault. Palmer is willing to admit when he made a mistake and it was me and nobody else who promoted Bea Mahaffey to Associate Editor of Other Worlds. I take full responsibility. Of course I should have known what would happen from the way she called me a liar about The Demolished Man in my own letter column. But at the same time it was the only way I could think of to keep her on the staff. As it was, I had to fight my way into my own office every morning through a crowd of fans all waiting to propose marriage or something to her. It was just a question of keeping the wolves from the door.
Then after I made her Associate Editor I made my second big mistake. I let her force me into signing an agreement which said that if I could reject any manuscript I didn't like, she could reject any manuscript she didn't like. Well, that seemed fair enough. It worked fine at first, and it sure did mean a big saving in trouble and money. But I guess it was too good to last. After six or seven issues, a few of the nosier readers began to notice there was something missing. They even began to write in about it, nasty sneering letters full of complaints, just because the magazine was all blank paper. They said they had always figured the best thing about Other Worlds was that if they were stuck they could always read it as well. They said if I didn't start putting something to read on those blank pages pretty soon they'd go back to my old rival, Sears-Roebuck.
Well, I've made my reputation by playing both ends against the middle, and I knew that if I didn't put something on those blank pages soon nobody else would. I went along to Bea and showed her the letters. "Look, Bea," I said, "Read these letters. And think of Calkins and all those other poor letterhacks breaking their hearts trying to comment on the last issue so they can have an excuse to write to you. We just got to start printing stories and things again. I've got some terrific stuff here by Webster and Steber and Irwin. All good boys, and I happen to know they could use the money."
But she says no, if she printed that stuff she wouldn't be able to face the Beappreciation Society at the next Beacon. She'd got a position to keep up now. All these people looked up to her and she couldn't let them down. Then she produced a sheaf of manuscripts she'd been given at South Gate, all by stuffed-shirt writers like Van Vogt and Bradbury and Heinlein and Tucker and so on. I took a look at the manuscripts and saw at once that they wouldn't do for our magazine. You wouldn't have liked them. All dull heavy stuff, full of scientific jawbreakers. No caves, no heros, no halfnaked goddesses. In a word, no human interest. I tried to reason with Bea, but it was no good. I even called in Calkins and Burwell and Vick and Entrekin, but none of them could get anywhere with her. So I gave up and left Other Worlds to its fate and started my own magazine. And now Other Worlds has gone slick with four-color interior illustrations and John W. Campbell, Jr. as Assistant Editor. It isn't a fans' magazine any more.
You sure can't say that about our mag. This is a magazine for fans run by a fan, and pretty soon I'll be crowding those snooty slicks off the newstands. Just wait till you see some of the things I've got lined up for the next issue. Right now my co-editor R. J. Banks is scouring the country, using all his influence to pick up the very best material we can afford. Why, the other day he picked up twelve original cover paintings by Ralph Rayburn Phillips! Picked them up out of an ordinary garbage can. (We're pretty sure they're paintings and if they are they're certainly by Ralph Rayburn Phillips.) Not only that, but if things go the way we hope the next issue will have a three color cover, illustrating our new serial, "I was A Captive In A Flying Carrot." Hectographed of course but -- hold on to your hats -- the interior of the mag will be mimeographed! How about that? Surprised, eh? But that's the Palmer Mystery Magazine for you. Yessir, whatever else you may say about it, it sure is a real fan zine!"