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The Dying Mirth

by Jagged Fancy

The bloated orange sun waned in the sky. In its faded melon-coloric effulgence, a series of gnarled shapes might be discerned -- creeping slowly over silicon-pocked landforms.

The oddly-garbed (but ineffable) band progresses in its ritual pilgrimmage to the nexus of the Ink Blue Council. Some fly down through the Vale of Violent Clouds. Others debark from decaying landrovers -- to the grotto where the ancient mimeograph once stood. At the cavemouth two butterflies skim briskly over a rusty silver crank, and alight upon a square plastic disk.

The travelers set their boots upon the dust of crumbled Marriotts. The sorceries of Eight Ancient Ages reflect dimly in the pale liquid crystals that glint on the ground. L:iquid crystals had governed the sandestins of the exploded epochs. But the heirs of the lost Seventh Age remember and treasure the great Numbered Cycles. These ruminants pay homage to their common legacy by swapping scrolls as they push past the dust toward their grotto rendez-vous.

The magicians of the Great Hectolineum had been agile in wit, their emphasis placed upon the hidden wellsprings of the spirit rather than upon the dross of contemporary fashion. Fan publishing, these sages had known, was a whimsical science, or more properly a craft. The mages of the Hectolineum had scorned the glossy realms ruled over by popular demons. Instead, they had turned their attention towards the ineffable.1

"Nothing to eat here but boiled carats!" A Neo-Dande growls, suddenly announcing its presence in the chambered grotto where the ruminants assemble. The creature paces back and forth among the gathered Ink Blue choristers.

"I can't stomach your reconstituted mailing list trivia and r.a.s.f.f epistemology!" it declares. The encrusted stylii on the Neo-Dande's back bristle querelously as it breaks into the low-throated disquisition that characterizes its race.

"Tell me, Turgid of Meyer. Think you that Charlie Brown will accept the semi-pro Hugo again this year? And what about Glyer and File 770? Who is Jeff Berkwits?"

"Today, the sun grows cold," Turgid replies. "Scarce a score of fanzines remain known within the ken of fankind. Yet few, indeed, can fathom the mind of a LArean."

As Turgid speaks his fingers riffle through the debris in the dusty ruins, seeking for even one spell of Ancient Telos....

1. A casual glance into Faandal's Catalog of Magic may serve to illustrate these proclivities to the right-minded observer. If one chances to open the tome, one might find the following, indited in bright purple ink:

  • Speer's Maleptic Handicap and Tucker's Old-Fashioned Foam,

not to overlook

  • Van Arnam's Fanoclast Joke,
  • The Spell of Forlorn Employment,
    and (entered upon slightly less faded pages):
  • Farber's Evasive Rarefaction
  • Hooper's Preterition Kriegsspiel

The fan publishers of the 80th and 90th cycle are a disparate and diffuse group in comparison to the wizards of the Great Hectolineum. Notwithstanding this, they continue to meet and hold discourse under dank lustrous rocks in the fading orange twilight.