Monday 30 May 2005

Theaker's Quarterly Fiction #6

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I am sure most readers will join me in commiserating that this issue is devoted to the feeble-minded fool of a writer who has placed his name in the title of this magazine. More to the point, next issue will follow suit, featuring the second half of his addle-brained semi-fascistic power fantasy, The Fear Man. He has tried and failed to earn himself such an appellation among the staff at the Silver Age offices, resulting only in lowering their opinion of him to such levels that astound even such a confirmed enemy of Theaker as I.

Should I make allowances for him having published my transcript of a motion picture dream in issue four? I think not – look at the way he chose to introduce it! "Stink has not faded", indeed! And here, in The Fear Man, while choosing to quote large passages of one of my unfinished novels, First the Eyes, Then the Brains, he describes me as a hack, and my novel as one that a reader of the future would be ashamed to be seen reading!

Were that not enough to earn the squat-faced ninnyhammer my opprobrium, consider his editorial to the previous issue, where he talks of "the maggot-ridden corpse of verse" in such disparaging terms. I thank the reader who took umbrage at this appalling display of ignorance on the part of Theaker.

This gentleman wrote as follows:

"Dear Sir,

Thank you for informing me of the appearance of the latest issue of Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction. However, I must take issue with the editorial comments contained therein, particularly as regards the negative comments directed at the field of poetry and the practitioners thereof. Only if one is to take, for example, the so-called ‘science-fiction poetry’ of Howard Philips as representative of the form, can the editor's scorn of verse be justified.

I remain,

A Reader."

Perhaps I should have read that letter to the end before committing it to paper! Never mind, this typewriter goes only forward, ever on, and obstacles of that kind will be met with the crushing force of intelligence they deserve. And if my intelligence fails me, I shall find the writer of that letter and confront him, bottle in one hand and an epee in the other, and we shall see whose scorn is justified.

Thank goodness, then, that we can leave that matter to one side for the moment, to look forward to the final piece to appear in this issue. You must wade through page after tedious page of Theaker to get there, but at the end of this issue you will find a wonderful short story by the hand of John Greenwood, "The Loper". Should we call it Lovecraftian? It is in many ways, and the story’s "halls of academia" opening may seem distressingly similar in tone to that of The Fear Man, but persist and you will be rewarded.

And so my stewardship of this column comes to a perhaps temporary end. In three months time, given the chance, I will return, to help build your strength in preparation for another thirty pages of Theaker. If it becomes too much, retreat to last issue, where you were graced by Gilligan’s pure adventure, or the issue before that, where you were able to step into my nightmares.

If I may, I will end with a short poem:

"Ending come / And we are done / Finished in the eyes of June

But stay a while / Remember to smile / And we will meet again soon."

Regards and friendship, always ours to share, Howard Phillips