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Dreaming Again

Grimes and the Gaijin Daimyo the first A Bertram Chandler story to be published in 24 year is now available in the Anthology Dreaming Again edited by Jack Dann.

The Mentor No: 40 - Oct 1982
(Cover Kerrie Hanlon)

The Mentor No: 40 - Oct 1982


We all of us have our pet corns and woe betide anybody who tramples upon them, especially if we happen to be in a bad mood.

I was in a bad mood the morning that I went to the Mitchell Library to pick up the renewal of my membership card. Probably I was not the only person in Sydney in a bad mood that morning. It was during that period of power cuts. (As a matter of fact I could have been worse off. There was electricity for me to boil the Birko and make a mug of tea when I broke surface at the usual time. And, in the high-rise building in which I have my hone unit, hot water, from a gas-fuelled calorifier, is one of the amenities so I was able to shower and shave, But I’m one of those old-fashioned bastards, maintaining that God created hens and pigs only so that Man could enjoy an eggs-and-bacon breakfast every morning. Insofar as breakfast cereals and the like are concerned I maintain that Ogden Nash said the last word; “It’s a wise child that knows its own fodder.”)

So I was in a bad mood when I went to the Mitchell Library. I’d waited and waited and waited for the power to come back on so that I could cook a civilised breakfast, Whilst waiting I’d checked my two electric torches, In the small pencil torch the batteries were almost dead, In the larger torch the batteries were not only dead but decomposed, filling the body of the thing with corrosive sludge. Finally I constructed a cold Dagwood. I’d just finished eating this when the power come back on.

The young lady behind the Enquiries Desk at the Library incurred my wrath by stomping hard on one of my pet corns with unerring accuracy.

“Do you have any identification?” she enquired. “A driver’s license...”

I snarled, “I do not have a driver’s license. Any criminal, drunk or illiterate fool can have a driver’s license. I do happen to have in my note-case a fine collection of membership cards - Literary organisations, Learned Societies&c. You can take your choice.”

Perhaps I was unkind - but I am always annoyed by the way in which a driver’s license is demanded as proof of identity. (If such documents carried their rightful holder’s photograph they would have some validity, but until they they’re worthless.) Apart from anything else I have long maintained that the internal combustion engine is the invention of the devil. (Just as I have long maintained that the Wright brothers were the wrong brothers.)

I’m not a male chauvinist pig - well, not so you’d notice - but it always seems to be young ladies who get on the wrong side of me by tromping on my pet corns. I must confess that I take a sort of perverted pleasure in elections - Commonwealth, State or Sydney City Council. If on any such occasion I were deprived of the opportunity to snarl I should feel very hard done by. Invariably the scenerio goes like this:

Chandler, having brushed aside all offers of How To Vote literature (he having made his mind up at least a week before the election) approaches the table where sits the young lady with the list of registered voters.

YL: Your name, sir?

ABC: Chandler.

YL: And your Christian names?

ABC: I don’t have any Christian names. The correct usage is given names.

YL (blushing): Sorry, sir.

(So she bloody well should do)

It was, of course, yet another young lady who trampled on yet another pet corn recently. Unfortunately she was well out of range when I blew my top. The pet corn in question is one that I share with the vast majority of science fictioneers, amateur and professional. Probably the only member of our tribe to whom it is not a pet corn is Forrest J. Ackerman. That unfortunate abbreviation is, after all, his pet.

At the Norcon I was interviewed by the Auckland Herald. The interviewer was a beautifully groomed (too beautifully groomed) red-headed young lady who would have been more at home covering some snob social function than a science fiction convention. She had a tame photographer with her who must have taken at least twenty photographs - none of which was used, (Not that that worried me. If I want to know what I look like I’ve got a mirror.)

The interview, when it appeared in print, was headed: SCI Fl AUTHOR SAYS LUCK PLAYED BIG PART...

SCI Fl...


As for the “luck” - I wish that she’d quoted me properly.

She asked, “How did you get into science fiction, Captain Chandler?”

I replied, “I was lucky, I guess.”

After that I did say that I’d been lucky enough to meet the right people at the right time and all the rest of it, and that was what she used.

SCI FI and SF...

Cast iron and wrought iron...

When I was a Paddingtonian I used to get very annoyed when people referred to Paddington’s cast iron lace as wrought iron. Now that I no longer live in Paddington that corn is trodden on very rarely.

But driver’s licenses, Christian instead of given names and SCI FI instead of SF will be my pet corns for as long as I’m on deck.