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The Rim Worlds

... out on the Galactic Rim things are very iffy and if you fart really hard your're liable to blow yourself on to an Alternate Time Track.

A Bertram Chandler.






















The Mentor No: 31 - Jun 1981
(Cover Julie Vaux)

The Mentor No: 31 - Jun 1981

Article

I am not one of John Norman’s Faithful Readers. Probably he is not one of mine. (As the French so neatly put it, One man’s meat is another man’s poisson....) We do, however, share two things - a New York publisher (Daw Books) and a liking for naked ladies. It has long been a sore point with me that Daw Books will put naked ladies on the covers of John Norman’s books but never on mine. (A possible exception could be To Keep The Ship, which had an overdressed John Grimes - his idea of shipboard uniform is shirt and shorts - beating off an attack by hords of little, pink plastic dolls.) Another sore point, a year or so ago, was when Daw Books rejected, with contumely, Matilda’s Stepchildren on the ground that it was too pornographic. (“Tell Grimes to keep his trousers on!” said Don Wollhein crossly.) To date Matilda’s Stepchildren has sold to Robert Hale in England, to Mondadori in Italy and to Hayakawa Shobo in Japan. The Mondadori edition has not yet been published. Mr. Khato, the artist who does may Hayakawa covers, knows what I like - and likes it too. The Japanese Matilda has a cover to my taste. (Mr. Khato’s best effort was with Star Courier he gave me a naked lady, brandishing a samurai sword. As a bonus he put a Zeppelin type airship in the background.)

To Keep The Ship - A Bertram ChandlerWhen I was last in the USA I had a whine to various friends about Daw Books rejection of Matilda’s Stepchildren, saying that I found it hard to understand how anybody who could publish the Gor novels could condemn my own masterpiece as pornographic. I was told, “But your women aren’t like John Norman’s women, Bert. His are sexual doormats. Yours fight back.”

Matilda's Stepchildren Japanese CoverThe follow-up to Matilda was Star Loot. Mindful of Don Wollheim’s admonition I tried to keep the party clean. By the time that I was half-way through the book the strain was too great, both for Grimes and myself - and for the Princess Marlene von Stolzberg, and for the Baroness Michelle d’Estang, and for Police Commissioner Una Freeman. There was a sudden collapse of moral standards.

The follow-up to Star Loot - To Rule the Refugees - was finished when I spent three weeks at Noosa Heads, in Queensland. For some reason my jet lag seemed to persist after my return from the USA early last May and Susan urged me to take a holiday. I decided on Noosa Heads because I had heard of Granite Bay, one of the beaches in the Noosa Heads National Park. Granite Boy is an official/unofficial free beach. Unofficial because the theocratic. dictatorship of Johland does not approve of such immoral practices as nudism official, because the shopkeepers and holiday accommodation owner on the Noosa Shire Council know that many people come to Noosa to get an all-over tan at Granite Bay and the other beach, Alexandra Bay. So the local police force has been ordered to ignore the wicked goings on.

It was a very pleasant three weeks. In the evenings I’d sweat and slave over a hot typewriter in my rented flat. (Fortunately the TV reception was very poor, so there were no distractions.) In the mornings, after breakfast, I’d read over the previous night’s work and count the wordage. Then I’d pack a sandwich lunch, reading matter, towel (but no swimming trunks) and stroll out to Granite Bay. There were- people there from all over - Americans., Dutch, En-Zedders as well as from every Australian state. The Sydneysiders tended to get into a huddle; we called “our” part of the beach Sydney Cove. I was the only Woodlander; the others were all refugees from Reef Beach. We would swim and sunbake and earbash until the sun was getting low, then return to our various lodgings. To one such as myself, used to the privacy or a nudist club, it seemed strange, at first, to strip in full view of the passers by on the clifftop path. Most of these, however, were sufficiently mannerly not to stop and stare. Most - but not all.

The Noosa National Park has something for everybody - including bird watchers. (I mean birds with wings.) One of the Reef Beach girls was also a bird watcher. One day she spent the morning bird -watching in the rain forest and then joined the rest of us in Granite Bay. We were all of us nattering way as usual when one of the men looked up to the cliff path and remarked, “There’s a bastard there watching us through binoculars...” So our own bird watcher took her own binoculars out of their case and stared back at the Peeping Tom. He hastily departed.

I returned to Sydney with my batteries fully recharged. (Talking of recharged batteries, before departing for the USA at the end of last March, I did my duty free shopping and treated myself to a Seiko solar powered watch. All the time that I was in the States the weather was chilly arid I was wearing long-sleeved shirts and jackets. Nonetheless the watch functioned as advertised. The weather was chilly in Australia when I returned early in May, so I was still wearing long sleeved shirts and jackets. When I decided to fly the coop for sunny Queensland I decided, too, to pick up my portable portable typewriter from my caravan at Woodlands. I went out and, even though it was late June, it was quite warm inside the club grounds. So I decided to stay for the day and make a start on building up my tan. It did me the world of good but the solar-powered watch succumbed to an overdose of photons. Luckily it wa under guarantee. It is functioning well again, although, now that I have resumed the nudist way of life for most of the week, its Daily Rate (gaining) has jumped from 0.3 to 0.4 seconds. ((Many years spent as a professional navigator make one rather Time-conscious.)))

Many years spent as a professional navigator add up to an accumulation of friends in the shipping, industry, office as well as sea staff and the wives and other relatives of shipmates. One of my troubles is that I have friends in so many different compartments with very little overlap. Union Steam Ship company people, Australian Society of Authors and P.E.N. people, science fiction people, nudists.

After I returned from Noosa Heads I was in the city on some business or other and, between appointments, was wandering along George Street, window shopping. I was looking at a model train display when I heard, from behind me, a female voice squeal, “Bert”.

I turned around to face a small, very attractive blonde. I recognised her but couldn’t remember her name. And from which compartment had she emerged? Union Steam Ship Company? No. Had I met her at some SF convention? No. Or at an ASA or P.E.N. get-together? No. Was she a Woodlandar? No.

Who the hell was she?

After a few minutes of (on my part) floundering conversation she took pity on me and put me in the picture. I’d been seeing her every day over a period of three weeks but this was the first time that I had seen her clothed. (She could have said the same regarding me - but no matter how else I are dressed I am always wearing a pipe.) She was the young lady who had outstared the bird watcher on the cliff path at Granite Bay...

Talking of being clothed, recently I had the misfortune to be fully clothed en the premises of Woodlands, on a bright, sunny day with a temperature of about 35°C and with everybody also running around naked, It was on Sunday, December 21, the last Sunday before Christmas, a Day of Infamy if ever there was one. One of the Woodlands traditions is the Children’s Christmas Party, with foot races run by the little barstards/darlings and the prizes handed out by Santa Klaus in person, who also legs around a sack of lollies to distribute to one and all. The usual Santa was not on hand and I was talked into taking the job. I did think of saying that I was Jewish and therefore could not contribute to the promulgation of Christian mythology - but, Woodlands being a nudist club, realised that my claim to membership of the Chosen People would be an obviously spurious one. So I had to put on the scarlet suit, with a cushion belted above my belly under the tunic, the white, cottonwool beard, the boots and all. I had to go, “Ho, ho, ho!”

At last the ordeal was over and I retired gratefully to the club office to divest myself of my sweaty finery. The borrowed boots were tight and I had to call for assistance to gel them off.

Having my footwear tugged from my feet by a pretty, naked, eighteen year old blonde was compensation for all that had gone before, I felt like a John Norman hero. (Grimes never has that sort of thing happen to him.) All I needed was a whip.

Gor save us all.