Monday 30 June 2014

Poem: "Under Two Moons"


cornering the night TOO FAST 
thru the crash-barrier
4 wheels to the wind

constellations spray like shingle

read this comic-book once
where a man takes a cab
that’s REALLY a disguised
space-craft piloted by a
green Martian
hunting experimental humans,
central-locking slams down caging him
& they launch from the highest loop
of the cloverleaf like a sudden red
insect soaring against the moon’s disc,
the dupe scrabbling at the glass
as the M-way shrinks to a relief map
& continents recede beneath him,
the blackness of deep space
folding in around them as they
motor to the vivisection labs
of Mars Central…

for one long second it’s like
I too have made it up thru
the stratos-fear…

then the windshield shatters

and worlds

Published in:
‘THE MENTOR no.62’ (January 1989 - Australia)
‘AH POOK IS HERE no.3’ (August 1994 - UK)
and the collection:
‘EUROSHIMA MON AMOUR’ Hilltop Press (UK-Oct 2000)

Sunday 29 June 2014



The Incredible String Band are – occasionally, back together again. 
Robin Williamson and Mike Heron, the first Celtic World Music 
 cum Hippie Psychedelic Phantasmogoria Minstrels re-unite 
 for new concerts, new CD’s, and a new Millennium. 
Andrew Darlington is there to find out why…

“I wear my body like a caravan, 
gipsy rover in a magic land…” 
                   (‘Ducks On A Pond’) 

Let’s imagine it’s the 15th July 1975. A Soyuz and Apollo spacecraft are launched from their respective continents within hours of each other. Two days later they dock and crew-members shake hands in space watched by a world-linked TV audience. Together, American astronaut and Russian cosmonaut look down on the breath-catching swirl of planet beneath them. First they look for their own cities of origin. Their nations. Then they see only Earth. ‘Stargazing at Earth’ sings Mike Heron, ‘what could divide us?’ The song is “Tom And Alexi”. The third one he does this night as part of his temporary quirky quartet, The Incredible Acoustic Band. And here, at Leeds’ ‘Duchess of York’, there’s inevitable elements of the cosmic. After all, Mike was one half of Folk-edelia’s most esoterically revered icons of oddity, two partners-in-rhyme called The Incredible String Band.

Neil Spencer defined the duo as ‘the apotheosis of mystical faerie-folke’, but they wound up getting classified as Folk only because a more adequate genre had yet to be devised. Peel back ‘5000 Spirits And The Layers Of The Onion’ and the Mike Heron you’re seeing this night is no more out of time than any other contemporary Crusty New-Agers. And tonight, shouts for sixties album tracks get an amused ‘you overestimate my memory.’ The old songs remain unsung. Mike Heron is all sharp-nosed grin and ears protruding through hazy fringes of hair. Coils of cloud dance in the spotlight beams. Is that dry ice or dope smoke? – and who cares? ‘We start slow and get better’ says Mike Heron in face-splitting smiles, ‘it takes a little longer as you keep getting a little older…’

‘WAY BACK IN THE 1960’s’ 
 “Peacocks talking of the colour grey…” 

“The First Girl I Loved”... is a song provoking images of heady erotic fumblings to the pubescent proto-hip of 1967, sung in a voice of such eerie strangeness it’s almost surreal. ‘...I never slept with you, but we must have made love a thousand times. We were just young, didn’t have no place to go.’ Visions to enflame the imagination. Celtic angel-headed hipsters, hair of golden flax, in heaving al fresco sex-bouts with darkly haunting pre-Raphaelite girls of lascivious spirit, loving free out among ‘the wide hills and beside many a long water’ clear across Scotland.

A masterpiece, some might claim to be long-neglected… until it came back again. This time on CD, and in new, previously unreleased forms, freshly ‘unearthed’. ‘...When we went down to London after the first album – no, it was actually after ‘Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter’” Mike Heron explains to me enthusiastically, but none too sure of his historical accuracy. ‘No, it might have been... or... I’m not sure exactly when it was. But we went into the ‘Sound Techniques’ studio in Chelsea. And the resulting tapes are just us, as we’re coming down with the songs we’ve just written, recording them in the studio for consideration by the producer (Joe Boyd), and for the other members of the band. It’s just like ‘here’s a song I wrote’, and then singing it. And Robin does a spine-shivering “First Girl I Loved”, just weeks after he’d written it. Y’know, it’s totally uncontrived, it hasn’t had time to get contrived or have any arrangements done to it. And it’s a brilliant ‘take’. It comes pure, it’s just completely beautiful. It has Danny Thompson’s bass-playing – which is lovely, but I think for that kind of song it’s amazing to hear it with that purity. These are the things I’m listening to now. The tracks that ‘escaped’. I didn’t even know they existed until now. And they’ve been knocking my socks off!’ (the fourteen tracks were issued as ‘The Chelsea Sessions: 1967’ in 1997 as Pig’s Whisker PWMD5022).

For the sake of historical accuracy those late-discovered tapes must be dated after the first LP – ‘The Incredible String Band’ (Elektra EUK254, June 1966), but just prior to the second – ‘5000 Spirits Or Layers Of The Onion’ (Elektra EUK257, July 1967), psychedelia’s most collectible artefact, navigating a strange cosmos of soundscapes, and dressed in its rainbow-stunning sleeve-art from Simon & Marijke (The Beatles’ ‘Fool’). The Incredible String Band were then a duo from Glasgow. Robin Williamson, tall, blonde and bearded. And Mike Heron, a Pict to Robin’s Celt, darkly energetic, a Rocker at heart, a songwriter by vocation. The third album – ‘The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter’ (Elektra EUK258, March 1968), reached no.5 in April 1968, the hugest of seven chart albums that took the Incred’s through into the cult deep-seventies. Albums only available again as the subject of an ambitious re-issue programme. ‘It is odd’ Heron agrees. ‘Y’know, tracks like “Puppies” (on ‘Wee Tam And The Big Huge’, Elektra EKL4036/37, October 1968)… on CD! It’s amazing!’ He chuckles at the sheer absurdity of the concept. ‘It’s odd, ha-ha-ha, very nice though. I’m rather enjoying it.’

In a set of well-outré ‘Select Elektra’ liner notes John Peel once praised their music for providing us ‘with jewellery to scatter in our minds’. Poet Jeff Nuttall acclaimed ‘the Incredible String Band, operating between Folk and Psychedelic Pop, have probably reached the highest level yet achieved by contemporary popular music’ (in ‘Bomb Culture’, Paladin, 1970). A shared mind-set that betrays their appeal. Odd. ‘We were an early source of World Music’ Heron tells me. ‘The Grand Old Men of World Music.’ Folk, but not quite Folk. Psychedelic, but not quite psychedelic either. Celtic, ‘yes, and everything else.’ A bewitched cauldron made of wood and wire, stirring in a phantasmagoria of incidents, ingredients, instruments and inflections. Totally uncategorisable and unlike anything else that existed at the time. Or since.

It’s possible to draw some vague comparisons with the original elfin cosmic-bop of Tyrannosaurus Rex, or the gilded jewelled imagery of Donovan’s ‘A Gift From A Flower To The Garden’ (December 1967). And listen to Syd Barrett’s “Chapter 24” on Pink Floyd’s ‘The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’ (August 1967). But even these analogies are inadequate, imprecise. Truth to tell there was nothing quite like them. Nothing before. And nothing since. The ISB retain that uniqueness into the early 2000’s. ‘A great thing that’s crept in is the kind of Andy Kershaw Show and similar things that give access to World Music. That’s really why we started in the first place. If that programme had been around then, and if there’d been that interest in, and availability of World Music, we might not have existed. That’s the kind of music we liked. So we played the kind of music we wanted to hear. Hence the Incredible String Band were playing early World Music!’

Mekon Jon Langford once told me that, by definition, any musician living in the world would qualify as playing ‘World Music’ – we all live in the same world.

‘No, sorry’ Mike grins darkly, mischievously. ‘I got a thing from the Musicians Union, and they’ve decided on a definition of World Music. A definition that specifies exactly. They set up a department especially for it. I was thinking of applying for the job actually!’ A sly and devious laugh. ‘But the definition of World Music they’re working with is any music that comes from outside the European Conservatoire kind-of Classical tradition, or the American Rock Music thing. It still seems to be a very loose definition. But certainly by that definition we would qualify…’

Elsewhere, Robin expands ‘we were doing an innocent and naïve version of World Music. It was a case of fools rushing in. Jack Kerouac was the main influence for the writing styles…’

“Birds are arrows of the wise…” 

It had all begun way further back in the 1960’s. Poet Mike Horovitz once commented that The Incredible String Band ‘play mechanic to the… inventors of audibly supersonic spacecraft,’ with ‘the ballads and fairy tales and satires (that)… often reflect virtues picked up from the ‘straight poets’, (‘Children Of Albion’, Penguin 1969 anthology – “Afterwords”). Robin Williamson confirms this in a later interview connecting the Beat poets to Walt Whitman, ‘yeah, and Walt Whitman had a lot to do with William Blake. The visionary, inspired voice is an ancient Celtic idea, going back to bards and druids. The notion was to draw on the inspiration of the universe’ (‘Metro’ 7 February 2005), ‘setting their feet where the sand is untrodden’, asking ‘grant me the tongue that all the earth doth sing.’

And it’s sometime during that autumn 1965 when dark-haired ex-cost accountant Mike Heron first dents the Robin-and-Clive country duo – with the result that Celtic golden-haired Robin on scratchy violin, and banjoist Clive Palmer thus find themselves expanded to a trio. Billy Connelly has been known to regale with entertaining anecdotes about Clive Palmer’s eccentric personal hygiene habits, drawing on their days together on the same Folk circuit. But soon they’re extending their repertoire accordingly to accommodate Heron’s bass guitar and oddities, while beginning to experiment with jug-band and blues music. A strange combination to play in Scottish Folk Clubs.

By the following spring Mike and Robin were writing songs both separately and together, while the group were playing Glasgow’s ‘Sauchiehall Street Incredible Folk Club’ where they encounter Joe Boyd, an itinerant American later to form Osiris Ltd, Witchseason Management, and work with Fairport Convention, Nick Drake and John Martyn. But now, in his incarnation as A&R scout for Jac Holzman’s Elektra label he seizes Mike, Robin and Clive, records them, and the result becomes the June 1966 ‘The Incredible String Band’ album.

It’s an eclectic collection of original songs, traditional violin bits and jaggedy banjo, dour humour and twinkling guitars, elided with a wanton irreverence for the rulebook. Opening with Robin’s scratchy fiddle on Heron’s “Maybe Someday” (‘with my arms around my music…’), leading into Robin’s poetic “October Song” in which fallen leaves ‘know the art of dying’. The alternating credits continue – Robin’s penny-whistle on Mike’s “When The Music Starts To Play” (‘all my life, and it’s been a short one…’) and Robin’s anatomical-paean to “Womankind” – his meandering focus already fully-formed, Clive’s banjo jig and Robin’s Indian Whistle tune. In marketing terms, it’s a PR nightmare, a bizarre manifestation apparently doomed to instant obscurity, even though it makes both ‘The Guardian’ and ‘The Observer’ Top Five list of Folk Albums of the year.

In the junkyard cover photo Robin sits centre beneath a torn poster for the 1962 Leslie Caron kitchen-sink movie ‘The L-Shaped Room’, Mike leaning in fur coat to the right, while Clive – in peaked cap and neat tie, to the left on the shot, further destabilises events by quitting to hit the Afghan trail on what will become the time-honoured hippie trek, and he’d been the band’s focal point – both Robin and Mike know Clive better than they know each other! When he re-emerged in 1969, it would be under the guise of the Famous Jug Band. And eventually he would re-join the Incred’s, but only for its new-century reformations. Meanwhile, Robin goes to Morocco where he starves for a few months. And Mike plays liquid solo sets in northern England Folk Clubs.

So – without Clive, they reunite and tour as a duo, managed by Boyd, with ‘5000 Spirits And Layers Of The Onion’ coming soon after. There’s an assured confidence-growth immediately apparent in its all-original song-mix fusing new stoned imaginings, harmonica and guitar with voices unwinding like electroencephalogram printouts. Again the writing credits alternate, as melodies flash and sparkle like fish in the river, from Mike’s “Chinese White” into Robin’s “No Sleep Blues” (‘I mixed stones and water, just to see what it would do. And the water it got stoney, and the stones got watery too. So I mixed my feet with water just to see what could be seen, and the water it got dirty, and the feet they got quite clean…’). Self-indulgent, downright strange, but when it’s right, it can be eerily affecting. There are eastern cadences to Robin’s weird vocal meanderings of erotic regret on the enticing “First Girl I Loved”, while Mike contributes an equal stone-classic in the tunefully singable “Painting Box” (‘And somewhere in my mind there is a painting box, I have every colour there it’s true. Just lately when I look inside my painting box, I seem to pick the colours of you’).

Within its Mad Hatter’s Box of mayhem there’s mandolin, bowed gimbri (a three-stringed Algerian instrument), the obligatory 1967 Soma sitar, plus session contributions from Pentangle’s Danny Thompson, John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins of Britain’s first underground organ ‘It (International Times)’, plus harmonies and finger-cymbals from Licorice. The album, wrapping its arms around a rainbow of what remains the definitive UK psychedelic sleeve-art, closes on a post-apocalyptical sci-fi note with the Cold War angst and flip dark humour of “Way Back In The 1960’s”. Robin imagines looking back from his ninety-first birthday to the time before England ‘went missing’ in World War Three and they’d moved to ‘Paraguayee’. He recalls when he used to do gigs, before making his first million. In those days there was another fellow singing too – Bob Dylan, and he was quite good.

Well, no first million, but the set caught quiet subterranean fire that then erupts into an ensorcelled chart album the following year with ‘The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter’. It opens with “Koeeoaddi There” a wondrous ‘Earth Water Fire And Air’ game of stinging sitar, click-clack sounds, playground rhymes, riddles and childhood memory-glimpses, leading into “The Minotaur’s Song” with its answering Monty Python chorus repeating puns ‘predicta-bull’ and ‘reasona-bull’, to end in mocking applause. “Mercy I Cry City” conversationally addresses the urban sprawl direct, chiding the flashing neon light with ‘only the sun knows how to be quietly bright,’ edged with jaggedy Dylan-harmonica, while the Robert E Howard imaginings of “Swift As The Wind” delineate the daydream-edge of fantasias.

Robin’s entrancing “Witches Hat” – later collected onto ‘Mojo’ magazine’s ‘Acid Drops, Spacedust And Flying Saucers’ 4-CD box-set of ‘Psychedelic Confectionery’, moves through structured lyric-sections, the Brothers Grimm by way of Edward Lear, ‘if I was a witches hat, sitting on her head like a paraffin stove, I’d fly away and be a bat, cross the air I would roam, stepping like a tight-rope walker, putting one foot after another, wearing black cherries for rings.’ Heron contributes “A Very Cellular Song” (thirteen-minutes made up of individual song-cells), while Robin’s wicca-wise “Three Is A Green Crown” is a song to sing as the Wicker Man burns. The hallucinatory music is exactly complementary. For time-fix is vital. And to journalist Jon Savage that is ‘a tableau frozen in time, 1968 via 1492’!

If – as the agit-prop guru’s claim, ‘revolution is the festival of the oppressed’, then this was festival. With daffodils between its toes and music as its pulse, setting its feet where the sand is untrodden. Visual art, event-posters, poetry, strange chemicals, magazine lay-out, radical politics and publishing are all part of its flux. The underground press plugs itself into the vast starry firmament with ‘It’ pages charting the voyage from Blake’s Albion into the mystic via ley-lines all the way through impish whimsy to lost Atlantis and Lemuria. Myth and magic, from sacred to crackpot, dreams in its eyes as real as your next sacramental toke. The next mad-vibe poem… the next vinyl record. Truths to make you high.

And what the ISB is part of cannot be seen as separate from it. They are the Pied Pipers of Never-Never-Land. Tribal performance, improvisation, incantation, William Morris, Merlin, Tolkien, Allen Ginsberg, Mervyn Peake, Dylan (Bob and Thomas), Lewis Carroll, CND, Gaia, sensimilla, Cecil Sharpe, Aubrey Beardsley, Woody Guthrie, Ravi Shankar… and more. Strange tunings, strange tunes. Smudged at the edges. Deliberately. From a lost arcadia of ‘quiet places where the moss grows green, the trees whisper, and coloured shells jangle together.’ Yet it is the (im)precise nexus at which they all meet. ‘The sense of visionary-inspired voice is a very ancient Celtic idea, going back to bards and druids and so on’ confides Robin (to ‘Songbook’ no.6). ‘The notion was you could draw on the inspiration of the universe and come up with something that was sort of prophetic, not necessarily about the future, but to reveal something different about the present.’

“Wizard of changes 
teach me the lesson of flowing” 
                     (“The Water Song”) 

Using the album-by-album method as diary-entries, as chapter-headings in their story, is the least effective way to understand it. You have to participate. For it is less product, more process. More fluid than set. Situations evolve. To stay the same is not – in itself, to remain unchanged, but is to lose a spontaneity, a sense of what is transient. The ISB changes. It can happen no other way. The ‘scattered brightness’ of each moment has to be invented anew. Some may dislike what results, or miss elements of what has been shed along the way. But here-and-now – what once existed, is no more, except in fragmentary glimpses, so album-by-album is the only way left. It’s the only portal through which we can access it.

So, the double-set ‘Wee Tam And The Big Huge’ comes next, retreating from the charts into a mythic tangle of Celtic twilight. Mike and Robin are now augmented by Rose Simpson and Christina ‘Licorice’ McKechnie – the same ‘Likky’ who had dubbed a mean finger-cymbal onto “Painting Box” and been secreted furtively into the ‘Hangman’s’ sleeve-art. They are non-musicians, as Robin comments ‘I regard atmosphere as superior to technique’ – a contention that “Log Cabin Home In The Sky”, with scratchy fiddle’s ushering Bob Wills country ‘Ole Opry into the repertoire, written by Mike for Rose, seems to prove. Robin answers by quoting Hank Williams’ ‘Ain’t Got No Home In The World Anymore’ in “Ducks On The Pond”. The gently hypnotic “Air”, with its ambient-flow piping and part-submerged voices, is later used by the Hungarian-born American film producer Milos Forman to soundtrack a sequence for his ‘Taking Off’ (1971) movie, one in which a group of GI’s get stoned for the first time.

The Incred’s also venture into visual electro-media by way of a guest-spot on the ‘Julie Felix TV Show’, even though a subsequent disagreement with producer Stanley Dorfman results in a virtual future screen-time ban. Yet by this time it doesn’t really matter. The band are cult. An idiosyncratic group indefinably somewhere out beyond the edges of Rock, out of Folk, arty effete, surreal, occasionally twee… sometimes even silly, yet capable of teetering on the brink of chilling beauty, built around instrumental dexterity on a multitude of instruments, welded together by meandering vocals that often sound off-key, cracked, off-kilter, yet on examination, aren’t.

‘Changing Horses’ (Elektra EKS74057, November 1969), lists credits for White Bird and Creation, and sees the four drawn into still-tighter group formation, less divided by the perceptible dichotomy that delineates Robin’s wistfully humorous journeys into universal mythology via a more Ewan MacColl foundation, from Mike’s ballsier songs – he confesses an appreciation of Fats Domino. And while Heron is writing songs like the mildly ecological “Puppies”, he’s briefly discovering Scientology – the cult founded by SF-writer L Ron Hubbard, and discarding more material stimulants. ‘As a survivor of the drug scene’ he admits, ‘I just woke up one day realising that I was spending huge amounts of money and smoking ever-huger amounts of dope – and just getting a headache!’ There had always been a theist spirituality there, from Lord Krishna and Merlin to ‘lovely Jesus nailed to a tree’, enfolding Christian mythology as just another skein of luminous imagery, Robin even-handedly taking both sides of the creation debate on one album – Darwinism’s vaudeville “Evolution Rag”, and the Biblical reggae of “Adam And Eve” (on ‘Liquid Acrobat…’).

April 1970 saw the release of ‘I Looked Up’ (Elektra EKS 2469 002) including Heron’s “The Letter” and his “Black Jack Davy” which features Fairport’ Dave Mattocks on drums. They’d already performed “The Letter” and “This Moment” during their brief Woodstock set, on the festival’s second day (Saturday, 16 August 1969) crammed between Keef Hartley and Canned Heat. Now the album coincides with the ISB’s re-emergence from months of Scottish seclusion in the Glen Row rural commune of Peebles to present the outgrowth and reflection of that communal life-style in the ‘U’ project, a haphazard ‘surreal parable in song and dance’ with Malcolm Le Maistre’s Stone Monkey Dance Company. Like all Incredible’s ventures the ‘theatrical presentation/ ballet’ is odd and oddly engaging, home-spun, blurry-edged and friendly. A bafflingly enjoyable pantomime. Heron’s contributions run to piano, organ, mandolin and sitar, incidental music for dance – like “Partial Belated Overture”, writing and playing the nine-minute sitar work-out “El Wool Suite”, plus songs “Light In Time Of Darkness/ Glad To See You”, “Hiram Pawnitof”, “Bridge Theme/ Song” and the 15.22-minute “Rainbow” – all published through ‘Warlock Music Ltd’.

 Heron relates how ‘we decided upon all the people we’d like to work with – dancers, set designers and so on, and we went up to live in a row of cottages in Scotland around Christmas. We all sat round and just talked, first of all to get the story-line, which had to be something that would inspire the dancers to dance, and give us the inspiration to write the songs. After a while the whole thing just started to emerge.’ ‘U’ played London’s ‘Roundhouse’ – then the two Fillmore’s, four days in New York and three at the LA Auditorium, just before the Who’s ‘Tommy’ opened there, plus a couple of days in Boston and one in Cincinnati. Although the obscure mystic mime, theatrics and strange music of the Scottish hippies doesn’t exactly open up the San Andreas fault – it is unique, and the double-album reminder remains intriguing. ‘U’ (Elektra 2665-5001, October 1970) was produced by Joe Boyd through Witchseason Productions, with John Wood engineering. The gatefold sleeve, designed by ‘Graphreaks’ portraying scenes from the ‘pantomime’ plus a scattering of delightfully primitivist paintings.

As the venture proves – the Incredible String Band is not just a band, but a permanent interaction of friends, with shows occasionally performed in the round, sat cross-legged on rugs, playing acoustic instruments the audience are invited to share. Hence, when Rose leaves while they’re on America’s West Coast, to gravitate to Wales with her children, and Mike cuts a solo album in January 1971, it’s not exactly break-up, more a continuity of diversification. For the sessions that eventually result in Mike’s ‘Smiling Men With Bad Reputations’ (Island ILPS9146, April 1971) set are Keith Moon, Ronnie ‘Plonk’ Lane, Dave Pegg and Gerry Conway, Tony Cox plays VC3 moog, Jimmy Page’s quicksilver guitar ignites “Lady Wonder” (a track relegated to ‘B’-side status, added to the album only on the eventual CD), and even the presence of John Cale. ‘He told me I put too many chords in the song and made me play it through as far as I could go without changing chord’ says Mike. And although the album stays within the Incredible’s context (“Spirit Beautiful” droning in on sitar and chants reassuringly familiar to ISB devotees) – as the title suggests, it’s already predating the style adopted by Heron for his soon-come Reputation line-up.

While the Incredible String Band’s output continues. The group jump labels from Elektra to follow Joe Boyd into ‘Be Glad, For The Song Has No Ending’ (Island ILPS 9140, December 1970), the scrappy soundtrack of a whimsical self-indulgent group-movie directed by Peter Neal centring ‘Magical Mystery Tour’-style on performance, interviews, and costume sequences with Mike and Robin, Rose and Likky. It features Mike’s “All Writ Down”, released through the new label hook-up, while Elektra reprises their fruitful but lapsed association with a ‘Greatest Hits’ titled ‘Relics of...’ (Elektra 7E-2004, March 1971), gathering “Painting Box”, “First Girl I Loved”, “A Very Cellular Song”, “Air”, “Log Cabin In The Sky” and others across four rich sides. At this time Boyd, who’d been a continuous influence on the band, returned to America.

By October the more electric ‘Liquid Acrobat As Regards The Air’ (ILPS 9172, October 1971) – a one-off production credited to the group with American bassist Stanley Schnier, was in the shops to coincide with the opening dates of a tour commencing at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Now there’s glockenspiel, bazouki, oud, kazoo and spoons, while Fairport Folk-Rock drummer Gerry Conway guests. Robin’s 10:53-minute “Darling Belle” is an ambitious theatrical three-way vocal story-telling dialogue, with First World War Ivor Novello quotes, and overlaid spoken-word passages. Then Likki sings Heron’s words in her high clear child-like voice, Mike himself contributes the amped-up “Painted Chariot”, then revisits his own “Tree” from their debut album, for no obvious purpose. So, more Prog-mainstream, while retaining a mix of charming naivety and tweeness, plus jigs and reels. It became their final chart album, managing a single appearance at no.46.

Throughout this period, that Stone Monkey refugee – Malcolm Le Maistre, an Englishman who’d segued into the band’s periphery in New York following his involvement with David Bowie’s Exploding Galaxy, was making occasional bass guitar, keyboard and mandolin contributions, adding his strangely-enunciated ventures into French chanson. To some, an interloper from another non-Folk continuum, now his presence is more conspicuous, and during the tie-in tour he’s assimilated as a full group member, using his theatrical abilities for the ‘Poetry Play no.1’ which Mike narrates and the group acts out. Le Maistre will subsequently reappear, performing a similar function with Reputation, joining Heron for vocals on “Down On My Knees After Memphis” dressed in a sailor suit, and doing ‘Gene Kelly’ dance routines. While the temporary addition of Stan ‘Lee’ Schnier on bass and bearded drummer Jack Ingram is – according to ‘Melody Maker’, ‘promoting their roadies into a rhythm section.’

Forced by default to fill the vacuum left by Joe Boyd’s exit, Heron emerges to provide direction as the dominant personality. Making the October 1972 ‘Earthspan’ (Island ILPS 9211) set – produced by Robin and Mike, an odd transitional artefact. Heron contributes their second take on the raggle-taggle gypsy-O “Black Jack David”, Likky – who contributes lyrics to “Sunday Song”, and high vocals to Robin’s “Banks Of Sweet Italy”, was about to quit, replaced for a year by Gerard Dott, who in turn will be replaced by 23-year-old ex-Powerhouse musician Graham Forbes from Glasgow. These changes in direction are becoming increasingly apparent, and can largely be laid at Mike’s feet. He’s guiding the band towards the more orthodox Rockist orientation from which Reputation will emerge. But there are more albums and changes to come.

With a line-up of Heron, Williamson, Le Maistre, and Gerard Dott, Mike produces ‘No Ruinous Feud’ (Island ILPS/ZC1/Y81 9229, February 1973), the cover split four ways into David Bailey ‘Rock band’ head-and-shoulder shots. And predictably, it becomes their most Rock-angled set, made up of distinct singles-length cuts. There’s a two-minute Dolly Parton cover (“My Blue Tears”) and even a reggae track – Duke Reid’s “Second Fiddle”, with the backing-participation of Greyhound (who’d recently scored a chart hit with “Black And White”). Scientology – with its emphasis on relationships, is also acknowledged as a force behind the String Band’s gradual transmutations, for by this time its medieval minstrelsy, the crescent moons, stars, the ‘angel-headed hipster’ look has been ditched in favour of trad-Rock leathers. Heron even abandoned his six-string acoustic wire-strung guitar (custom-built for him by John Bailey) to stalk the electrified stage like the Gene Vincent he’d already admitted a secret affection for.

Of course, this album-by-album as chapter-heading diary-entries method, is the least effective way to tell the tale. Yet there’s one more album to go, their twelfth, ‘Hard Rope And Silken Twine’ (Island ILPS 9270, March 1974). Again Mike takes producer-credits, featuring his wonderful “Maker Of Islands” balanced by Robin’s sitar-driven “Dreams Of No Return”. But the focus is Mike’ ambitious 19:23-minute song-cycle “Ithkos” across the full vinyl second side, an episodic patchy pseudo-Grecian mythological epic jangling around Moon-Maidens and Sybarites. The Incredible String Band could logically go no further… and they don’t try. By their split in that misty twisty October 1974 day they’d left an excess of wealth in their Dayglo wake – including compilations and solo spin-offs, having expanded to a travelling ramshackle minstrelsy five-piece with an extended family of wives, children and pets, a pantomime of Art-Theatre, Mime, poems and whimsy, with an increasingly electric back-beat. But even the times themselves were becoming harder, nastier, less sympathetic to hippy-dippy whimsy. And in all, it’s an organic end to a unique band.

The implosion and eventual re-emergence as ‘Mike Heron’s Reputation’ must be seen as an organic outgrowth of that once-Incredible organism. But Robin’s “Dear Old Battlefield” is a song about the karmic-cycle of reincarnation, ‘death is unreal, the way I feel, there’s more to be revealed,’ in which ‘lovers and friends meet again and again.’ And since that time a steady re-issue programme from Electra and Sequel has provided an interim crash-course in Incredible-ology. ‘I like all the albums for different reasons’ Mike admits to me. ‘The songs are mostly pretty relevant to me. Although I can’t really relate to the performance, the performance sounds like a different person. Like a l-o-n-g time ago. But I can relate very much to nearly all the songs…’

If this piece underplays Robin Williamson’s role within the group, this is largely because it was Mike I talked to. And due to my attempts to isolate and chart Mike Heron and the roots of Reputation. In truth, the evolution is natural, and largely amiable. Robin even cameos on “Evie”.

‘Me, I clearly state, I’m just an accident of fate / I’m the guy whose lost the way / lost the way to Easy Street…’ For a decade Mike Heron had been one half of an obscure mythology. Where to go next? Immediately after the dissolution of the idiosyncratic Incredible String Band and its initial reformation beneath Heron’s ‘Reputation’ masthead, he began going out on the road looking for Easy Street in his own right for the first time. His band had become more Rock than previous efforts – the stage punctuated by incisive keyboard drabblings, littered with guitar-work and occasional sax, with Heron acting out his previously submerged ‘Rock Star’ fantasies. Yet all the while, predictably, the battered lethargic ennui of the Incred’s is still there lurking behind the amps, its visual oddities occasionally emerging through Malcolm Le Maistre’s out-of-Rock-mainstream camp dance routines around “Only A Street-Lamp”. And again as they’re performing the then as-yet-unrecorded “Draw Back The Veil” with its long rambling déjà vu ‘Tubular Bells’ introduction on Radio One’s ‘In Concert’.

This is the Reputation line-up that played the Rainbow’s Final Gig first half of March 1975, to a good reception. An odd and chaotic act that went on to tour the UK downbill of the elegantly-wasted Andy Fraser Band. Under the Peter Bowyer Promotions banner it’s a package that plays London, Leicester, Bristol, Leeds and as far north as Edinburgh and Glasgow – where the whole mythology began. To tie in with the tour there’s even a March single – “Evie”, featuring cameo vocals from Melanie Safka, taken from the April album ‘Mike Heron’s Reputation’ (Neighborhood NBH80637, 1975). Reputation came together at London’s Olympic Studios during November 1974, with Malcolm Le Maistre, John Gilston and Graham Forbes plundered from the now-shattered Incredibles, plus David Barker from Magna Carta, Mike Tomich from If, plus Peter Gibbons and Phil Symes. From these sessions – under the production eye of Melanie’s husband Peter Schekerak, come the eleven Heron songs that make up the album. As well as the already-mentioned tracks there’s “Without Love”, “Born To Be Gone”, and my favourite cut – “Easy Street”, building from its slow blues opening through the up-tempo Rock section with girl-chorus and superb sax solo, on side one. Plus “Angels In Disguise”, “Wine Of His Song”, “Meanwhile In The Rain”, “One Of The Finest” and “Singing The Dolphin Through”.

It’s a fine – if occasionally flawed set, the message between the lines ‘don’t try living on Easy Street if you can, where the cold winds don’t blow’ – like Dylan sings it and Mike Heron lives it, ‘beauty walks a razor’s edge, some day I’ll make it mine…’ Here, there are also fine guest sessions from Tim Hinkley (on “Down On My Knees After Memphis”), Richard and Linda Thompson (on “Memphis” and “Residential Boys” respectively), and Roxy’s Eddie Jobson on violin (“Residential Boy”). But – just for a moment, imagine it’s the 15th July 1975. As all this is happening, Soyuz and Apollo spacecraft are launched from their respective continents within hours of each other…

Later there will be other ventures. Including Mike’s Incredible Acoustic Band during the 1990’s. Until the first of a series of ISB reunion projects featuring various constellations of cohorts, Robin, Mike… and Clive. But then again, with such a genealogy the tale could hardly fail to be intriguing…

“We are the table-cloth, and also the table, 
also the fable, of the dancing leaves…” 

Performing your own songs, says Mike Heron, is like ‘smelling your own sweat.’ They’re that personal, but never so indulgent they fail to tell an absorbing tale. At the Leeds ‘Duchess of York’ he does “Blackfoot Side” to tom-tom drumming – a song derived from the Sioux Indian lore of ‘Black Elk Speaks’. He does “Gaughan In The South Seas”, drawing on a book he read as a kid – Somerset Maugham’s ‘The Moon And Sixpence’, but magicks them both into hypnotic webs of intrigue. ‘I chat about the songs to draw people in, it doesn’t suit me just to stand up and yell songs at people’ he explains. Both songs are from his then-current CD ‘The Glen Row Tapes’ (issued by Fast Forward, 1988). He plays a fluid and breathy harmonica, sings for Jack Kerouac, and does “1968” with percussionist Dave Haswell switching to ‘hippie’ tabla percussion. How he tells it, it was the last Incred’s song he wrote, eventually issued as part of the ‘On Air’ CD of time-lost BBC session recordings (Band of Joy/Strange Fruit label, 1991). And it’s a quintessential song of wistful regret and eclipsed innocence – ‘you played your strings like they led to the truth, sang your words like clear spring light, let’s do it one more time, and we’ll keep the fire going, bright sunshine in darkest night…’

The Incredible String Band were an intrepid courting of toxic myth and ganja-stained death out-leaping the limits of shock with insidiously weird seductions of sound. This night the high-flying Heron creates a more homely kind of Beat fun. But a wealth of fun nevertheless.

When the Incredible Strings originally dis-Banded Robin Williamson retreated back into a mythic weirdness of bizarre beauty. Robin’s extensive solo catalogue, beginning with ‘Myrrh’ (Island, HELP 2, 1972, BGO CD reissue), which includes the wondrous “The Dancing Of The Lord Of Weir” and his take on Dr Strangely Strange’s “Strings In The Earth And Air”, cut just before his first sojourn to Los Angeles, and his tunefully accessible ‘Merry Band’ album ‘Journey’s Edge’ (Edsel, 1977) – including “Mythic Times” and strange “Rap City Rhapsody”. Much later ‘Songs For Children Of All Ages’ (1987, Flying Fish) revisits “Witches Hat” and “The Water Song”. He lived and toured in the States for twenty years – in the 1970’s with the Merry Band, and in the 1980’s with ‘the story-telling revival’. He looks backwards through his fictionalised autobiography song-cycle ‘Mirrorman’s Sequence 1961-1966’ (2CD Pig’s Whisker Music, 1997) – portraying Heron as ‘Pike’ and Palmer as ‘Clamber’, and books ‘The Glory Trap’ (a Detective novel with Dan Sherman, 1981), and his ‘Selected Writings 1980-‘83’ (poetry, Pigs Whisker Press, 1984). Plus his fine experimental recordings for ECM, the first a setting of Dylan Thomas (‘The Seed-At-Zero’, 2000), the second – ‘Skirting The River Road’ (ECM, 2003), made up of jazz-Celtic Bardic settings of poems by William Blake, Walt Whitman and Henry Vaughan.

Now, as well as his sporadic involvement in Incredible String Band reunions, there’s also his occasional performing partnership with John Renbourn (‘Wheel Of Fortune’, 1995), wife Bina, and Clive Palmer (‘At The Pure Fountain’, 1999). Clive, also back in the ISB fold with Mike Heron and multi-instrumentalists Fluff and Lawson Dando, find extra-curricula time to record his solo-with-banjo album ‘All Roads Lead To Land’ (2005) for the Unique Gravity label (reissued on Communion). Robin guests. While Mike Heron, looking much the same, re-concentrates on his first love, song-writing. His post-Incredible’s (but still incredible) solo albums also become part of the CD re-issue project. ‘My ‘Smiling Men With Bad Reputations’ has always been a bit collectible’ he agrees. ‘But that’s really because of the people who play on it. For me particularly it was one of the first albums of that type, one with ‘guest artists’ on each track, Richard Thompson, John Cale, Dave Mattacks, Dudo Pukwana (who arranges brass for “Call Me Diamond”), and everybody. That aspect of it was very much Joe Boyd’s idea. But a great idea.’

The next Heron album ‘Diamond Of Dreams’ (Bronze, 1977, reissued on Sequel), includes Mike’s “Don’t Kill It Carol”, a song written as ‘therapy’ after a relationship break-up. It was covered by, and became a big European hit single for Manfred Mann’s Earthband (a UK no.45 in July 1979), and the first of a number of collaborations. ‘Yes, he’s done a few. He’s done “Singing The Dolphin Through” (on Mann’s 1976 LP ‘Roaring Silence’, Bronze Records), “Don’t Kill It Carol” (on 1979’s ‘Angel Station’, Bronze), and “Stranded In Iowa” (a Heron/Mann co-composition on 1980’s Bronze-label ‘Chance’). There’s also one called “Marathon (Sikelele I)” which we worked on together. It’s on an album called ‘Manfred Mann: Plains Music’ (Kaz Records, 1991), and it got to no.1 in the African album charts, a lovely record. A bit like Paul Simon’s ‘Gracelands’ using a lot of black African musicians. A bit like the Paul Simon thing except it’s largely instrumental, with mine as one of its only two songs. Manfred is South African by birth. He’s a South African white jazzer. So he’s got people like Barbara Thompson on sax too, and it was a great record.’

While “First Girl I Loved” was being covered by Jackson Browne and Judy Collins, Heron songs were being done by as widely disparate people as Bonnie Tyler and Frankie Miller, while his “Worlds They Rise And Fall” is used on the soundtrack of two movies – Scottish director Gillies MacKinnon’s ‘Hideous Kinky’ (1998) and ‘Jersey Girl’ (2004) with Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler. ‘My first motivation was to write songs for other people to do. That’s the first thing I really fancied doing, to bring this song into being where there was nothing there before. It’s a great thing, and it takes it one step further if somebody else then says ‘ah, this thing exists, this is something I can interpret in my own way.’ It makes it that bit more ‘real’. And by that time you can be selfish and think that you’ve created something from nothing. That still remains a really valuable thing for me. I still find that process exciting. It still has that feeling.’

Another product of the separation years was a foray into electronic ‘Robot Music’ with Tony Cox, renewing a lapsed association from the ‘...Bad Reputations’ album. ‘He wanted a human real-sounding voice against his computerised style. A bit like a variation on the Pet Shop Boys.’ But it sounded ‘terrible. I enjoyed doing it. It just didn’t work for my songs. For me, the best person at doing that humanised electronic music is Stevie Winwood, programmed – but very real. With him, it comes from real soul.’

Stevie Winwood, alongside Elton John – is also there on ‘Smiling Men With Bad Reputations’. ‘It’s true that for a long time I’ve been more concerned with my own music. Then I had to step back to look at the String Band in perspective. And it was ridiculous that for a long time there was nothing by the String Band on CD. And more than that, in America the albums were no longer even available on scratchy old vinyl. But, as I’ve had to listen to them, I’ve re-discovered some amazing stuff. And not necessarily the obvious things. Some of them are a bit out of that period, of their time. But “The Tree”, “Blues For The Muse”, ‘Wee Tam And The Big Huge’, and “First Girl I Loved” – there’s something Robin captures there that still really appeals to me. The other things I’m listening to now are the tracks that ‘escaped’. Because we unearthed all the original album tapes with the out-takes, and there’s the BBC Radio One session archive stuff too. Some of the material that came out on the ‘On Air’ CD. And it’s that stuff that still really knocks my socks off...!’

Student Hipsters and aspiring Acid-Head poets used to write long pretentiously arty letters to each other, signing off cosmically with another Incredible String Band album title. One that’s suddenly perfectly appropriate again for the re-united Mike Heron and Robin Williamson... BE GLAD, FOR THE SONG HAS NO ENDING

“May the long time sun shine upon you
all love surround you
and the pure light within you
guide you all the way on” 
                 (“A Very Cellular Song”)

An early version of the centre section published in:
‘MOTH no.4’ (UK – February 1977)

Thursday 26 June 2014



The Incredible String Band were one of the Hippie era’s most quirky 
icons of cosmic oddness. For one night in Leeds original member 
 Mike Heron returns to irradiate ‘some bright sunshine in darkest night…’ 

Gig Review of 
at the ‘Duchess Of York’, Leeds 

‘He’s hard to talk to’ grumbles the doorman, ‘y’know what I mean’ – meaningfully, ‘an acid casualty.’

Some of my best friends are acid casualties. I won’t hear a word against them. Then we start into some stupid free-associating. He says Jimmy Nail acquired his aka when he stepped on a nail. One wonders what his name would have become had he stepped in dog-crap instead? And what did Mike Heron step on – a large graceful wading bird with a pointed bill? Perhaps that’s an appropriate image. I tell him how I first spoke to Heron on the ‘phone. And far from ‘difficult’, he was fine, articulate, amusing. But it was a bad-line, as if bounced off the satellites of Saturn. There was a dog barking. Might have been his or mine, but it filled in Telecom’s sound-level drop-outs and the holes in the drifting static haze. Marking interviews out of ten, it would probably score a two purely on lack of clarity. Tonight will be better.

But first, Mike asks us to imagine it’s the 15th July 1975. A Soyuz and Apollo spacecraft are launched from their respective continents within hours of each other. Two days later they dock and crew-members shake hands in space watched by a world-linked TV audience. Together, American and Russian look down on the breath-catching swirl of planet beneath them. First they look for their own cities of origin. Their nations. Then they see only Earth. ‘Stargazing at Earth’ sings Mike Heron, ‘what could divide us?’

The song is “Tom And Alexi”. The third one he does this night as part of his new temporary acoustic quirky quartet. There’s inevitable elements of the cosmic. After all, Mike was one half of psychedelia’s most esoterically revered icons of oddity, two partners-in-rhyme called The Incredible String Band. But peel back ‘5000 Spirits And The Layers Of The Onion’ and this Heron is no more out of time than any other of today’s Crusty New Agers. And shouts for sixties album tracks get an amused ‘you overestimate my memory.’ The songs remain unsung. Mike Heron is all sharp-nosed grin and ears protruding through hazy fringes of hair. Coils of cloud dance in the spotlight beams. Is that dry ice or dope smoke? – and who cares? ‘We start slow and get better’ says Mike Heron in face-splitting smiles, ‘it takes a little longer as you keep getting a little older.’

The evening opens with Paul Buckley, a blues singer strung out on a unique styling of Sam Cooke’s “Chain Gang”. He plays from a sitting position. It’s that kind of relaxed event. The audience sits in neat attentive rows. Mike Heron also sits, as do his agile bass player Stuart Smith, and heavy guitarist John Rutherford. Hyperactive percussionist Dave Haswell is the only one to stand, doodling maniacally around a stunning arsenal of bongo’s and conga’s, chimes and cymbals, bells and shakers.

Performing his own songs, says Mike Heron, is like ‘smelling your own sweat.’ Yes, they’re that personal, but never so indulgent they fail to tell an absorbing tale. He does “Blackfoot Side” to tom-tom drumming – a song derived from the Sioux Indian lore of ‘Black Elk Speaks’ (a 1932 book transcribed by John G Neihardt). He does “Gaughan In The South Seas”, drawing on a book he read as a kid – Somerset Maugham’s ‘The Moon And Sixpence’, but magicks them both into hypnotic webs of intrigue. ‘I chat about the songs to draw people in, it doesn’t suit me just to stand up and yell songs at people’ he explains. Both songs are from his current ‘The Glenrow Tapes’ CD (Quadrant, 1988).

He plays a fluid and breathy harmonica, sings a song for Jack Kerouac, and does “1968” with Haswell switching to ‘hippie’ tabla percussion. This was the last Incred’s song he wrote, only recently issued as part of the ‘On Air’ (October 1991) CD of time-lost BBC session recordings. And it’s a quintessential song of wistful regret and eclipsed innocence – ‘you played your strings like they led to the truth, / sang your words like clear spring light, / let’s do it one more time, and we’ll keep the fire going, / bright sunshine in darkest night...’ The Incredible String Band were an intrepid courting of toxic myth and ganja-stained death out-leaping the limits of shock with insidiously weird seductions of sound. Tonight this high-flying Heron creates a more homely kind of Beat fun. But a wealth of fun nevertheless.

We meet up while Heron is pressing flesh après-gig. I prompt him that we recently did a phone interview. ‘Phone interview?’ he fences quizzically, ‘where was I talking from? Newcastle or Dundee?’

I know where I was talking from Mike. But I don’t know where you were.

He laughs. ‘Wait… before we start, I want to catch the bar before it closes.’

I wait.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Incredible String Band CD 'On Air'

Album Review of: 
‘ON AIR’ by 
 (Band of Joy BOJ CD 004, October 1991) 

Being in the retro market, to misquote Eugene McCarthy, ‘is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and stupid enough to think it’s important.’ But suspending cynicism, a rare Martian orchid of congratulation must go to ‘Band of Joy’ for this exercise in retro audio archaeology. ‘On Air’ rescues twelve never-before-released ‘original BBC recordings’ by Folkadelia’s most endearingly eccentric minstrels. “Dreams Of No Return” drones in on rippling tripping webs of sitar so tactile it makes your teeth itch in their sockets, and ushers in a slew of songs as enticingly bizarre as dreams embedded in unicorn skulls.

The ‘Increds’ – as devotees tend to call them, began as the Celtic Folk duo Robin Williamson and Mike Heron (in league with Clive Palmer for their debut album), expanding their minds, their repertoires and their personnel from late Sixties underground mystique into a rag-bag of mid-Seventies progressive art cultdom. These radio broadcasts, salvaged from John Peel’s ‘Top Gear’ archives, are undated. Although there were thirteen such sessions from 1967, where the group could have slotted easily and seamlessly alongside Marc Bolan’s original Tyrannosaurus Rex. These tracks, however, are from later in the tale, some time around 1972-to-1974. The songs themselves can be more accurately carbon-dated to albums – hence the enchantingly mystical medley of “Witches Hat”, “A Very Cellular Song” and “Koeedaddi There” are from ‘Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter’ (March 1968) and hence look back to earlier days. Just as the scratchy fiddles of the “Log Cabin Home In The Sky” hoe-down are from ‘Wee Tam’ (October 1968) and Williamson’s intense meditations on the cyclic nature of mortality “Dear Old Battlefield” is from 1971’s ‘Liquid Acrobat As Regards The Air’ (October 1971) and their origins – if not the performances, can be time-fixed accordingly.

Contrasts and comparisons with the song’s vinyl incarnations can also be helpful. The BBC session productions – probably by Jeff Griffin, are largely simple and uncluttered. The ideal setting for Incredible songs, and one that showcases the full weird interpretive power of their individual voices, which can be awesome. Joe Boyd’s more ambitious mixes spun out for album consumption could occasionally lose that purity, although the version here of “Cold Days” is actually fuller than the original on the twelfth and final album ‘Hard Rope And Silken Twine’ (1974), where it was subject to Mike’s own relative under-production. Also, as the Band expanded, taking on Rose Simpson, Licorice McKechnie and various rhythm elements, that initial identity tended to get further diluted. Here it’s all focussed, as it should be, on Mike and Robin, even when they’re working with material by later addition Malcolm ‘Dancing Fool’ Le Maistre (who contributes two songs – the haunting and meandering “Oh Did I Love A Dream” and “Sailor And The Dancer”). For those same reasons of acoustic clarity these archive radio recordings have also dated less than you’d expect. “Dear Old Battlefield” stands direct comparison with more recent Folk deviates like, say – The Men They Couldn’t Hang. Retro perhaps, but suspend cynicism. Heron and Williamson remain Incredible by name, incredible by nature…

The Incredible String Band: On Air’ subtitled ‘Original BBC Recordings’, includes “Dreams Of No Return” (Williamson, from album ‘Hard Rope And Silken Twine’, 1974), “Jane” (Heron, included on Mike Heron’s 1998 solo album ‘Conflict Of Emotions’), “Oh Did I Love A Dream” (Le Maistre), “Black Jack Davy” (Heron, from album ‘I Looked Up’, 1970 but following a later version from ‘Earthspan’), “Rends-Moi Demain” (a group version of Williamson’s 1972 ‘Myrrh’ solo track, but sung by Malcolm Le Maistre), “Little Girl” (Heron, from album ‘No Ruinous Feud’, 1973), “Sailor And The Dancer” (Le Maistre, from album ‘Earthspan’, 1972), “1968” (Heron, included on Mike Heron’s 1996 solo album ‘Where Mystics Swim’), “Log Cabin In The Sky” (Heron), “Dear Old Battlefield” (Williamson), “Cold Days Of February” (Williamson, from ‘Hard Rope And Silken Twine’ album), “Witches Hat” (Williamson) / Koeeoaadi There (Williamson) / A Very Cellular Song (Heron) Medley”. Album reissued in 1997 as Strange Fruit 034, then in 2001 as Celebration CELCD 088.

A second album collection, ‘The Incredible String Band: BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert’, recorded at the Paris Theatre, London in 1971 and 1972, was issued 1992 by Windsong International WINCD 029, reissued in 1997 by Strange Fruit SFRCD033 and in 2000 by Celebration CELCD047

Tuesday 17 June 2014

'AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION' - But Sometimes InAuthentic Too…!

The first two issues


Each issue was a Futurescope of Wonder. 
But reality was not present in its DNA. Now 
Andrew Darlington retrospects the history of 
 Britain’s ‘AUTHENTIC SF’ magazine of the 1950’s, 
 with the help of former editor E.C. Tubb, plus 
contributors readers, and fans. It’s a wild wild trip…!

‘authentic’ adj (1) accurate in representation 
                    of the facts, trustworthy, reliable’ 
          (Collins English Dictionary 21st Century Edition) 

Experience the city centre newsagent now. It is characterised by immobile rows of digital-nerds, often speccy, greasy of hair and acne’d of visage, silently besieging the PC-journal racks, eager for free-access to the latest byte-size bulletins from cyberspace and computer game-ology. Silently determined to sneak-grab advance-glimpses into tomorrow’s net-head online innovations. It must have been something like that in 1952 for readers of ‘Authentic SF’. I don’t know for sure. I wasn’t there. But inhaling the correspondence in the letters columns it’s easy to detect the same adrenaline-buzz of breathless male obsessiveness. Here lie ideas that fill you with the kind of awe that takes you to the edge of delicious panic. On every page the future leaps out at you shouting ‘BOOO!!!’

Of course – back then in the early years of the fifties, SF magazines weren’t as readily accessible as today’s computer journals. You had to know where to go to find them. You had to know which sleazoid back-street book-shops deigned to stock them. But such is the level of intrigue that it only adds to the exclusivity of the SF-reader’s virtual camaraderie. And to its devotees, ‘Authentic SF’ was ‘ALL SYSTEMS GO!’... until, eighty-five issues later, all systems stopped. This is the way that worlds once turned. When spaceships flew on chutzpah and testosterone. Beneath a precise illumination of strangely shining moons.

'Science Fiction Fortnightly no.5'

‘Is another world watching us?’ asks the blurb on the debut issue, ‘but even if they’re not, we are watching other worlds... Mars, Saturn... other planets. Writers with imagination are picturing them for us; and the best... the most imaginative... have been commissioned to write for the ‘Authentic Science Fiction’ series... that label is your guarantee of a first-rate story.’ I came along slightly later, but I was also a boy with rockets in my head. I also bought a return ticket to Sirius for each bus-ride I took, and part of me never came back. SF readers – it seemed at the time, were an advance specimen of a new post-human hyper-terrestrial being. The big hit record of the day was Doris Day’s “Whatever Will Be Will Be” which entered the chart in June 1956 and peaked at no.1 while these issues were being eagerly devoured. Her song informs us ‘the future’s not ours to see...’. The readers, and writers of ‘Authentic’ beg to disagree. They emphatically believe otherwise.

 We believed in progress. How could we not? ‘Authentic’ lasted for precisely eighty-five issues, spaced from January 1951 to October 1957, each one masquerading as a futurescope of wonder. Sure, that first-issue boast that ‘no story will be admitted to the series unless it is imaginative and yet coupled with a sound scientific basis’ must be open to a rigorous investigation. Boredom might have been excluded from its genetic make-up, but reality was not entirely present in its DNA helix either. Yet turning each new page must have been like a new encounter with a hip hard-wired Nostrodamus on a spaced-out Zen moment of peak experience. Computer nerds now probably feels much the same way.

‘Authentic’ – like most good things in life, appeared largely by accident. With publisher Hamilton initially projecting a low-cost basement-prestige run of stand-alone pocketbook novels. But soft – such pulps are essentially unconnected impulse purchases, dependent on eye-catching covers coinciding with the right pocketful of disposable cash. But strip a series title and a numbering sequence and you add the collectability element, enhanced by the completist angle – you don’t want gaps on your shelf. So the magazine begins as just that. A fortnightly series of cheapo novels strung together on the marketing illusion of magazine-hood published with uncredited and largely simplistic cover-art (as ‘Authentic Science Fiction Series’ then ‘Science Fiction Fortnightly’) up to no.8, and then on a regular monthly schedule as ‘Authentic Science Fiction Monthly’, each of the first twenty-eight issues initially containing primarily just one ‘novel’. 

‘Yes, the early ones were all novels in their own right, 36-thousand words long’ recalls cult-novelist EC Tubb now, ‘that figure was engraved on the heart, because the way you wrote them, you wrote one chapter a day – each chapter twelve pages long. In twelve days you have a book! – I think that adds up (mental calculation)… yes it does. ‘Authentic’ yes – the first one was “Mushroom Men From Mars”...’ described by Peter Nicholls (in ‘The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction’) as ‘British pulp at its most infantile’.

George Hay cover-story for 'Science Fiction Monthly no.10'

Other early fiction reader-hits include a series of adventures centred around a spaceship called ‘Old Growler’, which began as early as ‘Authentic no.2’ with “Reconnoitre Krellig II”. The year is AD3742, and Inter-X Spaceship 2213/3/8 – renamed by her ‘irreverent crew because of a peculiar noise from her gravity retrators’ reaches a planet with no red in its spectrum (evidence of writer HJ Campbell’s ‘quirky science’?). Inhabited by tortoise-like (Tortoids?) Shakkies, the crew discover a civilisation constructed of concentrated yellow-blue light, apocalyptically destroyed by the violent intervention of red light admitted by the cyclic intervention of an eccentrically-orbiting asteroid, ‘dissolving the great buildings into immense columns of light’. It’s tempting to gauge the literary level of the ‘Old Growler’ adventures by the fact that they continue in a red-tinted picture-strip story in the juvenile one-off ‘Authentic Book Of Space’ in 1954. Although the crew – young Hartnell, a mere 122 years old, Tubby Goss, and narrator Pop, return to take a last nostalgic bow in no.85, the magazine’s final issue.

While a parallel second story-cycle features Roy Sheldon’s popular spacers ‘Shiny Spear & Dirk Manners’. In “Star Of Death” their encounter with the intelligent dinosaurian capitalists of Centaurus Kappa leaves – apparently, ‘little doubt that this is just the kind of thing that will happen in the remote future’ according to the editorial comment. While in “Plastic Peril” they reach an inhospitably bleak planet of the Algol system where giant monoliths turn out to consist of sentient stone attacked by a species of rock-eating parasites who excrete a plastic waste. Essentially comic-strip stuff, it offers a simple uncomplicated morality, ‘if survival meant killing, then you kill’. And they do, on a planetary scale. Later, EC Tubb’s ‘Dusty Dribble’ stories (commencing in no.61 with “One Every Minute”) will complete ‘Authentic’s first trinity of ongoing successes.

SF historian Mike Ashley confesses to me ‘I never really liked ‘Authentic’. It was a squidgy magazine, difficult to read, and it struck me as raw. It lacked any polish or finesse. It had some good covers, but nothing inside them’. And as if to confirm that opinion, when writing his excellent ‘History Of The Science Fiction Magazine’, he hands over commentary about the magazine to another authority – Philip Harbottle. He tells how LG Holmes was the first editor until November 1952, followed by HJ (Herbert) Campbell until January 1956. According to legend Campbell had – at one time, been approached by Hulton Publishers to edit a SF companion title in the wake of their hugely successful launch of ‘Eagle’. But inexplicably the project then mutated into the non-Campbell and decidedly non-SF ‘Girl’ picture weekly!

Campbell’s bio-file in the spin-off ‘annual’ ‘...Book Of Space’ understandably mentions nothing of this. Instead it relates how HJ was born in 1925, ‘spent ten years as a research scientist working on the chemotherapy of tuberculosis, human embryology and biochemistry applied to the cause and cure of cancer...’ and while ‘still retaining his former contacts, Mr Campbell draws upon his friends in hospitals, university departments, the Harwell Atomic Energy Establishment, and research institutions for ideas of ‘quirky’ science to incorporate in his stories’. Campbell – illustrated as a kind of Medieval wood-cut Galileo at the masthead of his editorial page, is dark-bearded, and a frequenter of the ‘White Horse Tavern’ where ‘New Worlds’ editor and friend John Carnell and other luminaries of the day could be found.

But whereas today’s SF magazine editors tend to stress their literary credentials, for readers of ‘Authentic’ it was apparently Campbell’s scientific ‘authenticity’ that was his greatest asset. His regime was pro-active, he contributes fiction too, and is disguised behind the Jon J Deegan house-name responsible for the ‘Old Growler’ tales. Capable of a playfully imaginative prose-style he could be contentious, writing in the second person plural he casts the reader directly as the protagonist, or ‘he spoils it by using ‘you did this’ and ‘you did that’ – personally, it bores me’ as reader R Prior of Bognor Regis complains about “The Last Mutation” (no.11). Undeterred, he goes on to adopt the same lit-technique for “The Moon Is Heaven” (no.16).

'Authentic Science Fiction no.21'

With increased pagination – to 144-pages-plus-covers from no.29, plus front side-bars advertising the full range of interior contents, ‘Authentic’ begins to appear more a magazine and less a sequence of disguised books. There’s also an increase in ‘Departments’. And although the central ‘novel’ concept continues – it embraces markedly more ambitious work with American contributions from AE Van Vogt as well as British stalwarts like William F Temple (whose impressive “Man In A Maze” in no.54 depicts a scientist discovering himself to be the subject of another’s bizarre experiment!). Simultaneously the more Comic-Book Space Opera extravagances were shunted off into the parallel Panther SF Book series which used Jon J Deegan (‘Antro, The Life-Giver’), Rick Conroy (‘Mission From Mars’), a clutch of Bryan Berry, HK (Ken) Bulmer and Campbell himself. While for “Asleep In Armageddon” (in no.33) no less a star writer than Ray Bradbury portrays a marooned astronaut, his head besieged by the hungry ghosts of dead armies on a haunted planetoid. There’s also long-time SF Hugo-award winning fan writer-publisher Harry Warner Jnr, and E Everett Evans. However, some of ‘Authentic’s later claim to academic legitimacy is based around its perceptive inclusion of Texan Charles L Harness’ “The Rose” with its art-pretentious ballet and classical music references. Unable to find an American market for this ambitious dialogue of science versus art, and death as a transcendental metaphor, Harness accepted Campbell’s offer to run it as the feature novel for no.29. It became a work that Michael Moorcock would later champion as a lost classic, agitating for its republication, while a critic as strictly demanding as Brian Aldiss welcomed its 1960’s rediscovery (in ‘New Worlds’ no.162, page 102).

'Authentic Science Fiction Monthly no.31' ("The Rose") & no.32

But, of greater importance than introducing readers to new American fiction, ‘Authentic’ was deliberately creating avenues for new British writers to reach audiences. And if these writers now tend to be unfairly neglected, and even maligned by those who came after, then this is to distort the importance of their role in developing and sustaining a domestic SF industry. ‘‘Authentic’ is trying to build up a subdivision of the science fiction genre’ editorialises Campbell. ‘British science fiction. This is not in any sense a jaded nationalist tendency. We simply want to see more science fiction written by British authors in the British manner. The number of British science fiction authors is pitifully few. We aim to change all that’.

Always ‘Authentic’s sternest critic (although that might have something to do with the fact that they initially ‘refused every story I offered them’!) Brian Aldiss praises Charles Eric Maine’s “Highway” – ‘the idea of a man riding into the future on an ordinary push-bike’, as ‘both charming and memorable. But then – it was skilfully written.’ Less so is Maine’s subsequent “The Trouble With Mars” (no.59). Here, a dubious plot device, a Morse-telegraphy message from the Mars colony requesting ‘iron mules’ (‘Fe’-Mules) is mistranslated so that two-hundred ‘females’ arrive – to initial disapproval (‘this is a man’s world’ said Caird scathingly, ‘we don’t need you and your kind’!). The women gain eventual grudging respect. But in Maines’ favour, his Mars is accurately arid and hostile, with its colonisation as much imperilled by prescient treasury restrictions as the real-life NASA programme would be.

Hidden away in those issues there are also early career-sales for some future mid-profile UK novelists. Edmund Cooper, with a mystic ghost-cum-time-travel tale. And writer-guitarist Dan Morgan beginning with “Cleansing Fires”, a chilling manipulation of ‘schizoids with Messiah complexes’ to seed undeveloped worlds with civilising mystico-religious cults. He goes on to contribute “The Lesser Breed” (no.54) which is essentially a generation-ship variation witnessed from the point of view of a far-future galactic civilisation. The original human crew have become sterile and die off, leaving the self-replicating android complement to survive and thrive. Until it is their disbelieving descendents who eventually find the dead Earth of their myth-history and dismiss it is an unreliable folk-tale. There’s also the unique “The Earth Never Sets”, in which the first Lunar colony is British – ‘the newest and proudest outpost of the British Empire’! Morgan would later collaborate on a ‘Space Corp’ novel-series with another prolific ‘Authentic’ protégé, John Kippax (John Charles Hynam 1915-1974).

Another innovatory ‘Authentic’ star is Ken Bulmer, who simultaneously contributes tales under the guise of ‘H Philip Stratford’. In his “It Takes Two” Jarril, a militarily-indoctrinated Terran Space Guardsman, is stranded on a desert-world during a Galactic war against the Sokkaths, only to discover a disturbing lost colony deliberately free of competitive ‘ulcer culture’, and instead adapted to ‘commind’ communality. ‘It Takes Two’ to war, and they have opted out. Bulmer also specialises in playful fantasy, as “The Day Of The Monster” (no.59) with its amusing body-switch story-line. The prolific Sydney J. Bounds – still writing and publishing material into the 2000’s, adds the first serial to the mix – beginning in no.26, and then contributing a clever sixteen-page mini-epic set in the future 1973 when a first-men-in-space rocket-ship contravenes a ‘warping of the continuum’ that bounces their ship back through time. Space travel, they discover to their cost, is impossible.

JT McIntosh would later provide two-part serials – “The Big Hop”, in which the vaguely racy crew of a Generation Ship travel for twenty-three years only to discover that the subsequently-formulated HS-Technology has already allowed an Earth colony to be established on their Hayter/Laertis-Four target-world by the time they arrive. While numerous one-off gems continue to be hidden in the magazine’s contents-table. Katherine Marcuse’s wry sexual observation in “The Holiday” (no.55) where her dream fulfilment is the perfect lover she forsakes for her husband, contrasts with that husband’s dream-fulfilment where he finds success, without her.

EC Tubb cover-story for no.49

But few are more ubiquitous or as well-crafted as EC Tubb, either under his own name, or a storm of pseudonyms – ‘Eric Wilding’, ‘Alan Innes’, ‘Carl Moulton’, ‘Julian Carey’ (with a tale of mischievous invisible aliens), ‘George Holt’ (with a black-humorous brain-transplant involving a malevolent Great Dane and the janitor at the Cybernetics Institute), and even ‘Alice Beecham’. From the slow claustrophobic radiation-death of his starkly realistic “Death Deferred” set in a post-nuclear bunker, to “Logic” (lead story in no.49) which inventively circumvents Asimov’s Robotic Three Laws by instilling a sense of moral right and wrong as a program to discipline aberrant behaviour in Artificial Intelligences, explaining that ‘religion, like anything else, could be a useful tool.’ Through to his “Hidden Treasures Of Kalin”, a grimly visionary action-fable set in medieval future-squalor where the worth of a hoarded Library of misunderstood technical books is judged, and ultimately found to be less valuable than weaponry in their survival struggle. Both points of view are equally well argued. That of ‘Reader’ who defends a repository of threatened knowledge he is unable to understand, and the demands of a society in which each person must actively contribute. Elsewhere, Tubb’s “Star Haven” is both a conventional ‘what-happened-to-the-Terran-colony’ mystery, while also doubling as a skilful deconstructive erosion of the military mindset.

Contents Page for 'Authentic no.52'

‘It may well be that the first man to land on the Moon 
is at this moment a schoolboy, just awakening to 
the challenge and mystery of space’ 
 (‘Wanted: Men For Space’ ‘Authentic no.55’

Inevitably, when Campbell more or less retired from SF, returning to his scientific pursuits, it was Tubb who became the logical choice to assume his position, continuing and fine-tuning the magazine’s contents. Although his attempts were not always appreciated, ‘when I took it over from Bert, and I was editing ‘Authentic’, I had trouble with people giving me wrong word-lengths when they sent stuff in. Stories were TOO long. And that made it hard to fit them in, so I had to cut their stuff down – and that’s when you learn that when you alter an author’s precious prose – you make an enemy! Unless he’s a professional himself and he’s blasé about it. And I always remember (not getting into personalities), there was this chap who wrote a story I liked, and I sent it back to him saying ‘I like this story but it’s way too long, could you re-write it down to (just say) 3,000’. So back it came – still no good, still too long. And I thought this can keep going for ever. His story was a good story. There was nothing wrong with it. It was just that it was too long to fit. So I had to do something – either send it back again, or do what I thought was best, edit it myself. After all, I was the EDITOR! So ‘I’ll just do it for him’, and I only took out padding. Sold your story, George. Lovely. He’s never spoken to me since. That was it. So I said to someone ‘what’s wrong with him?’ and they said ‘you altered his stuff’. And I said ‘yes, but I got him published, you know – so what the hell!’ (laughter). ‘No, you altered his stuff’ (in deep menacing voice)! But I still don’t know why he got annoyed, God! It was – it was an odd incident, that…’

‘Authentic’s rates of pay – £1 per thousand words, were low, even for the time. And hence unable to appeal entirely to its contributors’ mercenary instincts, it relied instead on their industry, fiercely partisan enthusiasm and shared dedication. They seldom failed. And it is because of this that the magazine sold well, some issues even reaching American outlets. And during Campbell’s tenure the magazine improved considerably, adding numerous articles, as well as a short-lived glossy ‘art supplement’ which soon lost its gloss, reverting to pulp in a trade-of for increased pagination – up to 160 pages, and a price-hike to two shillings by no.60. Tubb promptly phased many features out to present a more solid fiction magazine.

By the time ‘Authentic’ was abruptly brought to an end, with Hamilton reverting to the original idea of a series of stand-alone novels under their new, and subsequently highly successful ‘Panther’ imprint, it had stacked up an impressive total. For decades – until ‘Interzone’ exceeded it in the 1990’s, that was enough to qualify it as second only to ‘New Worlds’ as the longest-running UK SF magazine ever.

After a poor start with the very early issues, many fine covers followed by Davis, J.E. Mortimer and others, featuring space flight and astronomy. Forrest J. Ackerman’s back-page photo-realistic stills ‘Dream Of The Stars’ giving way – by no.35, to an ambitious ‘From Earth To The Stars’ series of themed front-cover art. See these covers, and you know with absolute conviction that what you are seeing is the future. A fictionalised future, subject to micro-reality-adjustments and running within a set of acceptable variables, but nevertheless a workable blueprint of the tomorrows that we’d all be living in. Soon. Just around the time-bend. Wasn’t the editor telling you as much? ‘it is not a fantastic story, everything is within the bounds of credibility, and scientifically accurate, as we know things today.’

Now SF makes no such claim to be predictive. Even such ‘hard science’ projects as Kim Stanley Robinson’s ‘Red/Blue/Green Mars’ terraformation trilogy merely offers a feasible scenario, with none of the certainty of its imminent – let alone inevitable, realisation in reality. With SF shunted off into a subdivision of leisure consumerism where it provides a plunderable concept-bank of exploitable images for SFX entertainment, it will probably never again be possible to feel that same sense of certainty. Although – for digital-nerds, often speccy, greasy of hair and acne’d of visage, Duncan Lamont’s “Production Job” (no.73) seems to provide a sneak-grab advance-glimpse into today’s net-head online innovations by not only predicting computer-linkage in a crude proto-internet, but even calling it a ‘matrix’.

But back in that strange lost 1950’s world, SF seemed to provide AUTHENTIC glimpses into tomorrow. So it is with a strange sense of poignancy that Sidney J Bounds – one of a generation of British writers who did so much to shape the future-dreams of ‘Authentic’-readers, asks in a September 2001 correspondence ‘can anyone believe now that space colonies are ever likely to happen…?’

Well – yes, actually, I still do…

‘Down with the pessimists! The world of the future will be a gay, 
enchanting place, where the spirit of the people will match the speed 
of the age; where hearts will be light and leisure and pleasure as 
fast and sure as the planes. Work will be what you want to do. 
Drudgery will be performed by machines. There will be color 
and music and a fine rare mood of content. All hail to the future!’ 
(‘Scenes From The Future’ ‘Authentic no.55’)  

With thanks to EC Tubb, Sidney J. Bounds, Ernest (ER) James, Philip Harbottle, Brian Ash, Philip E. High, Alan Hunter.

'Authentic', the last two issues - nos. 84 & 85


‘If you are a reader of discernment with an imaginative mind… 
If you are bored with the usual and thrill to the different…’ 
                          (‘Authentic’ ad in no.81) 

(1) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION SERIES no.1’ (1st Jan 1951 - 1/6d) Editor: ‘LG Holmes’ (Gordon Holmes Landsborough, 1913-1983). Technical Editor: HJ Campbell FCS FRHS MSCI ‘MUSHROOM MEN OF MARS’ by Lee Stanton (a Richard Conroy pseudonym). Cover by ‘DLW’. Published by HAMILTON & Co (Stafford) Ltd, 1&2 Melville Court, Goldhawk Rd, London W12

(2) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION SERIES no.2’ (15th Jan 1951) ‘RECONNOITRE KRELLIG II’ by Jon J Deegan (a Robert Sharp pseudonym). Cover by ‘DLW’

(3) ‘SCIENCE FICTION FORTNIGHTLY no.3’ (1st Feb 1951) ‘GOLD MEN OF AUREUS’ by ‘Roy Sheldon’ (house pseudonym) plus editorial and projectiles (Letters to the Editor). Cover by DLW

(4) ‘SCIENCE FICTION FORTNIGHTLY no.4’ (15th Feb 1951) ‘OLD GROWLER: SPACESHIP No.2213’ by Jon J Deegan (Robert Sharp) + editorial (Scientific Doldrums), Projectiles. Cover: DLW

(5) ‘SCIENCE FICTION FORTNIGHTLY no.5’ (1 Mar 51) ‘SEVEN TO THE MOON’ by Lee Stanton (Richard Conroy), plus editorial (Operation Fantast) and Book Reviews (Max Ehrlich, Paul Capon, and “Interplanetary Flight” by AC Clarke). Cover: DLW

(6) ‘SCIENCE FICTION FORTNIGHTLY no.6’ (15 Mar 51) ‘PHANTOM MOON’ by Roy Sheldon (HJ Campbell), plus Editorial, Letters, and science features - Quiz (Bill Byford), “Speaking of Atoms: No.1 in a series on Atomic Theory”, “Inside the Dome” by HJ Campbell, Science News, Books (Fred Hoyle’s “The Structure of the Universe”). Cover: DLW

(7) ‘SCIENCE FICTION FORTNIGHTLY no.7’ (1 April 51) ‘ENERGY ALIVE’ by Roy Sheldon (HJ Campbell), Edit, Letters, Quiz, ‘Chemicus’, “The Voice Of Sol” (Campbell), Books. Cover: DLW

(8) ‘SCIENCE FICTION FORTNIGHTLY no.8’ (15 Apr 51) ‘HJ Campbell’s WORLD IN A TEST-TUBE’, Letters from Ken Slater and Eric Bentcliffe, Quiz, “Atoms 3”, News. Cover: DLW

(9) ‘SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.9’ (15 May 51) ‘OLD GROWLER AND ORBIS’ by Jon J Deegan (Robert Sharp), Editorial announces ‘during the summer months ‘Science Fiction Fortnightly’ is to become ‘Science Fiction Monthly’… until September’, Fanzines Walter Willis’ ‘Slant’, and mimeo ‘Wonder’, Letters, DLW cover. Brief review Asimov ‘I Robot’ and A Merritt’s ‘Dwellers In The Mirage’

(10) ‘SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.10’ (15 Jun 51) ‘MAN, WOMAN - AND ANDROID’ by George Hay, Edit, Letter from Walt Willis, final ‘Speaking Of Atoms’ by Chemicus, DLW cover 

(11) ‘SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.11’ (15 July 51) ‘THE LAST MUTATION’ by HJ Campell, Letters (Alan Hunter), Fanzine Column (“Phantasmagria” review), DLW cover

(12) ‘SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no12’ (15 Aug 51) ‘TEN YEARS TO OBLIVION’ by Clem Macartney (aka ‘WD Flackes’), Letters, Editorial, Fanzines (“Operation Fantast”). Cover: DLW

(13) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.13’ (15 Sept 51) ‘BEAM OF TERROR’ by Roy Sheldon (HJ Campbell). LG Holmes no longer listed as Editor, but HJ Campbell still Technical Editor. Cover: DLW

'Authentic Science Fiction no.13'

(14) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.14’ (15 Oct 51) ‘PLANET OF POWER (an ‘Old Growler’ story) by Jon J Deegan (Robert Sharp) + Books (Simak, DeCamp, Philip Wylie), DLW cover

(15) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.15’ (15 Nov 51) ‘REPORT FROM MANDAZO’ by Lee Stanton (Richard Conroy), Letters (Hunter), Edit (‘When Worlds Collide’ movie), Books (Ray Cummings, John Wyndham’s ‘Day of the Triffids’). DLW cover

(16) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.16’ (15 Dec 51) ‘THE MOON IS HEAVEN’ by HJ Campbell, Edit (‘Galaxy’ mag is dead !?), Book (AC Clarke ‘Exploration of Space’). DLW cover

(17) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.17’ (15/1/’52) ‘COMING OF THE DARAKUA’ by FG Rayer + brief author-profile. Fanzine (Walt Willis/Bob Shaw’ ‘SLANT’ & Ken Bulmer/ AV Clarke’s ‘SCIENCE FANTASY NEWS’). Books (Bradbury ‘Silver Locusts’ -‘a stream of poetic prose’, Van Vogt ‘Voyage of the Space Beagle’, Clarke ‘Sands of Mars’ - ‘we were disappointed’). DLW cover

'Authentic SF no.17' & 'Authentic SF no.18'

(18) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.18’ (15/2/52) ‘CHAOS IN MINIATURE’ by HJ Campbell – ‘when the House of Commons disappeared on April 1st 1988, most people thought it was a pretty poor way of celebrating All Fools Day’, Fanzine (‘UTOPIAN’), Books (Coblentz ‘Sunken World’, Wolheim ‘Flight into Space’). Cover: DLW

(19) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.19’ (15/3/52) Editor now listed as Derrick Rowles. ‘SPACE WARP’ by Roy Sheldon (House pseudonym), first Forrest J Ackerman American Column + profile. Books (F Brown ‘What Mad Universe’, Heinlein ‘Puppet Masters’, Ed Hamilton ‘Star Kings’). Cover: DLW

(20) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.20’ (15/4/52) ‘EARTH OUR NEW EDEN’ by FG Rayer, Campbell’s ‘SF Handbook: Terms of interest to the Science Fictioneer’, Books (Sam Merwin ‘House of Many Worlds’). Cover: G ‘Vann’ Ratcliff

(21) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.21’ (15/5/52) ‘ALIEN IMPACT’ by EC Tubb, ‘Special Convention Issue’ with ‘British Fandom’ Guide, Hugo Gernsback tribute, cover by Gordon C Davies

(22) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.22’ (15/6/52) ‘MICE OR MACHINES’ by HJ Campbell. Books (EF Russell ‘Sinister Barrier’, Hugo Gernsback ‘Ralph 124C41’ –‘astounding flights of controlled imagination’). Cover: Gordon C Davies

(23) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.23’ (15/7/52) ‘THE SINGING SPHERES’ by Jon J Deegan (Robert Sharp) – return of ‘Old Growler’, R Dunn poem, ‘Operation Fantast: Fan Service’ ad, Gordon C Davies cover

(24) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.24’ (15/8/52) ‘AFTERMATH’ by Bryan Berry + brief author-profile, Projectiles (Lee Harding letter), Books, Gordon C Davies cover

(25) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.25’ (15/9/52) ‘THE PLASTIC PERIL’ by Roy Sheldon (HJ Campbell) – return of ‘Shiny Spear & Dirk Manners’. Cover: J Pollack

(26) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.26’ (15/10/52) ‘MARTIANS IN A FROZEN WORLD’ by Rick (Richard) Conroy, “Frontier Legion (Part One: ‘Destination Pluto’ of first serial)” by Sydney J Bounds + author-profile, Books (Ray Bradbury “Illustrated Man”, Willy Ley). Cover: J Pollack

'Authentic Science Fiction nos. 26 & 27'

(27) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.27’ (15/11/52) ‘STAR OF DEATH (Shiny Spear)’ by Roy Sheldon, Bounds pt.2, fanzines (Walt Willis ‘HYPHEN’) cover by Gordon C Davies

(28) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION no.28’ (15/12/52) HJ Campbell now Editor rather than Technical Editor. Derrick Rowles last listed in no.22 ‘WE CAST NO SHADOW’ by FG Rayer, plus ad for launch of Hamilton’s SF Library Series – HJ Campbell (“Beyond the Visible”) and Bryan Berry (“Born in Captivity”), cover by Gordon C Davies

(29) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.29’ (15/1/53) ‘IMMORTAL’S PLAYTHINGS’ by William F Temple (novel), Ray Bradbury (“Welcome Brothers”), SJ Bounds (serial pt.4), AC Clarke (‘Is There Too Much’-article), Forest J Ackerman (‘American Commentary’), SF Handbook, Fanzine Reviews, Projectiles (Reader’s Letters) Cover: Vann, inner art: Richards Fischer Davis Back-page photo ‘Dream Of The Stars’. Insert announces launch of ‘SCIENCE FICTION BOOK CLUB’, plus ad for Alan Hunter’s 1953 SF Calendar

'Authentic Science Fiction no.30'

(30) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.30’ (15/2/53) ‘LADY OF FLAME’ by SJ Byrne (novel), RM Rhodes (“Dangerous Power”), FJ Ackerman (“What An Idea !”), SJ Bounds (pt.5) + “Not So Simple” Guest Article by John Beynon (Wyndham) and anthology reviews of Carnell’s ‘No Place Like Earth’ and Healy/McComas’ ‘Adventures in Time And Space’ Cover: Richards + inner art: Fischer Davis

(31) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.31’ (15/3/53) ‘THE ROSE’ by Charles L Harness (novel), E Everett Evans (“Never Been Kissed”), SJ Bounds (pt.6), William F Temple (“Science And Censor” article on SF Movies), SF Handbook, review of Asimov (“Currents Of Space”) Cover: Richards + inner art: Fischer Davis

(32) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.32’ (15/4/53) ‘CRY CHAOS!’ by Dwight V Swain (novel), AE Van Vogt (“Haunted Atoms”), RM Rhodes (“The Toy”), Rick Conroy (“Manna From Heaven”), John Christopher (“SF Under A Cloud” article attacking sex in SF), ‘The Solar System : Sol’

(33) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.33’ (15/5/53) ‘MIND WITHIN MIND’ by William F Temple (novel), Ray Bradbury (“Asleep In Armageddon”), L Major Reynolds (“Holes Inc”), Bryan Berry (“Ancient City”), Albert Hernhuter (“Only Human”), Jack Ramstrom (“How They Landed”), E Everett Evans (“Science Without Tears” article), ‘Our Queen & The Convention’ (Coronation in the Age of Science). Books (Pangborn ‘West Of The Sun’, Bradbury ‘Golden Apples Of The Sun’) Back cover plate: ‘Spaceways’ movie still

(34) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.34’ (15/6/53) ‘A MAN NAMED MARS’ by Rog Phillips (novel), JF Burke (“Cancel Tomorrow”), AJ Merak (“Ultimate Species”), Kris Neville (“Old Man Henderson” + “Passing The Torch” article), Solar System: Mercury, Film Review of ‘War Of The Worlds’ + back-page movie still. Cover: Davis Inner art: Fischer, Davis, Mallory

(35) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.35’ (15/7/53) ‘TONIGHT THE SKY WILL FALL’ by Daniel F Galouye (novel), Frank Quattrocchi (“Sword From The Stars”), Rick Conroy (“Eve Hated Adam”), Dan Morgan (“Home Is Tomorrow”), Bryan Berry (“Widening Gulf” article attacking Fantasy), Solar System: Venus, Fanzine reviews. First ‘From Earth To The Stars’ cover-series by Davis

(36) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.36’ (15/8/53) ‘MY NAME IS OZYMANDIAS’ by Martin Jordan (novel), Bryan Berry (“The Tree”), John Christopher (“Planet Of Change”), Eric Storm (“Lone Wolf”), JF Burke (“Loneliest World”), Solar System: Earth, 11th World-Con report, SF Handbook, Projectiles. Books (GR Stewart ‘Earth Abides’ etc)

(37) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.37’ (15/9/53) ‘THE ADAPTABLE MAN’ by Bryan Berry (novel), Charles Eric Main (“Repulsion Factor”), Jon J Deegan (“Beyond The Barrier”), Alan Hunter - Amateur Fiction Competition Winner (“The Piper”), Brindley Ford (“The Shining Ark”) Solar System: Mars, From Earth To The Stars-3, Fanzines. Books (Judith Merril)

(38) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.38’ (15/10/53) ‘OLD MAN OF THE STARS’ by JF Burke (Novel), EC Tubb (“Conversation Piece”), Arthur Sellings (“The Haunting”), Brindley Ford (“Relativity”), John Faulkner (“A Brainy Affair”), Macleod Robertson - competition Runner-up (“Megalocosmos”) Solar System: Asteroids, Fanzines, ‘Mutations’ (Campbell Science Feature). Books (HJ Campbell’s ‘Tomorrows Universe’ anthology, CE Maine, Wyndham ‘The Kraken’, ‘Lauries Space Annual’)

'Authentic SF nos. 39 & 40'

(39) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.39’ (15/11/53) ‘SUBTLE VICTORY’ by EC Tubb (novel), Charles Eric Maine (“Highway”), John Christopher (”Blemish”), David Wilcox - comp (“Transition”), Brian Aldiss - FIRST SF PUBLICATION (‘Now Consolidate’ - long SF-history letter) ‘Brainwaves’ (Science), ‘Jupiter’. Books (‘Paul French’ ‘David Starr: Space Ranger’)

 (40) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.40’ (15/12/53) ‘THE BEST LAID SCEME’ by Kelvin Strike (novel), Dan Morgan (“Amateur Talent”), M Dogge (“The Inner Worlds & My Uncle”), JF Burke (“For You, The Possessed”), Martin Jordan (“Cuckoo”), AP Kift - comp (“Go To The Ants”), ‘Saturn’, ‘ESP’ (science)

(41) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.41’ (15/1/54) ‘THE PHOENIX NEST’ by Richard deMille (novel), E Everett Evans (“Fly By Night”), CE Maine (“The Boogie Matrix” + ‘STF Plotting in 3D’ movie feature), JF Burke (“The Censors”), Katherine Marcuse (“21st Century Mother”), Frank Quattrocchi (“Hids Game”), ‘Uranus’, ‘Possible Life-Forms On Other Planets:1’ (science - Campbell), ‘Donovans Brain’ (Movie review - Campbell), Fanzines, Books (‘Demolished Man’ by Bester, Sam Merwin Jr, ‘The Syndic’ by CM Kornbluth + Non-Fiction ‘Flying Saucers Have Landed’ by George Adamski)

'Authentic SF nos. 42 & 43'

(42) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.42’ (15/2/54) ‘HIDDEN SHEPHERDS’ by Bryan Berry (novel), John Christopher (“Aristotle”), William S Kals (“Top Secret”), Leonard Pruyn (“In Time Of Sorrow”), HB Hickey (“Process”), ‘Neptune’, ‘March Of Science’, Fanzines (Walt Willis ‘Hyphen’), ‘Chemical Analysis At Home:1’ (science), Books (‘The Humanoids’ - Jack Williamson, ‘Shadow On The Hearth’ - Judith Merril, ‘Man In Space’ non-fic)

(43) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.43’ (15/3/54) ‘TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY’ by K Houstom Brunner (novel), WF Temple (“Errand Of Mercy”), Jonathan Burke (“Stand-In”), Richard Wilson (“Mary Hell’s”), FG Rayer & ER James (“The Lava Seas Tunnel) + ‘Possible Life-Forms On Other Planets:3’ (Campbell), ‘Pluto’, ‘March Of Science’, ‘Chemical Analysis At Home:2’, Fanzines (‘Space Diversions’, ‘Andromeda’, ‘Space Times’), Books (“Unborn Tomorrow” by Gilbert Frankau) All art by Davis

(44) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.44’ (15/4/54) ‘THE LEVER & THE FULCRUM’ by Alan Barclay (novel), Ken Bulmer (“First Down”), F Lindsley (“The Star Virus”), Len Shaw (“Forever Today”), Frank Quattrocchi (“Addict”) + ‘Harnessing The Sun’ (Solar Power), ‘March Of Science’, ‘Chemical Analysis pt.3’, Books (John Carnell “Gateway To Tomorrow”, AE Van Vogt “Weapon Makers”, JT McIntosh, Edgar Pangborn) All art by Davis

 (45) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.45’ (15/5/54) ‘SOME OTHER TIME’ by Kenneth Bulmer, EC Tubb (“Death Deferred”), George Paul Mann (“Third Hand”), Graham Winslow (“Dimensional Destiny”) + ‘On Writing SF’ (Brian Aldiss), ‘All About Comets’ (John Tayne), ‘Medical Progress by 2000AD’, ‘The Atomic Submarine’, ‘Logic Is Fun’, Great Man Of Science:1 Isaac Newton, Books (Asimov “Caves Of Steel”, Tubb “World At Bay”, Rolf (Bryan Berry) Garner ‘“Indestructible”, P Schuyler Miller, Henry Kuttner + William F Temple non-fic “The Book About Space Travel”), ‘Supermancon’ Con Report, Fanzines (Willis/Bob Shaw’s ‘Enchanted Duplicator’)

(46) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.46’ (15/6/54) ‘SAVIOUR’ by Bryan Berry, Ron Elton (“Outside Looking In”), Dan Morgan (“Psychic Twin”), MC Woodhouse (“The Higher Mathematics”), DR Davies (“The Merchants”) + ‘The Hydrogen Bomb’ & Great Men:2 Francis Bacon’ (Campbell), ‘Logic:2’ (Frank Wilson), ‘The Expanding Universe’, ‘Robots’, ‘Space Travel & The Law’, Fanzines, Books (“First Astounding Anthology”, Jon Deegan, Jonathan Burke)

(47) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.47’ (15/7/54) ‘STRANGER IN TIME’ by S Gordon, RC Wingfield (“The Mutilants”), Kenneth Bulmer as ‘Peter Green’ (“To Shake The Stars”), Richard Wilson (“Robot’s Gambit”), Anthony G Williamson (“The Day Of All Else”), Len Shaw (“The Bridge”), WB Johnson (“Tryst”) + John Tayne (“There’s Trouble In The Future” - ‘what are we going to do when coal runs out?’), GC Duncan (“Planet Farms”), ‘Aristotle’, ‘Logic:3’, Books (Clarke’s ‘Childhod’s End’, Heinlein’s ‘Green Hills Of Earth’, Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’), Fanzines (‘Space Times’, ‘Triode’, ‘Orion’, ‘Hyphen no.8’), + ad for ‘AUTHENTIC BOOK OF SPACE’. Pagination reduced to 144 from 160-pages

(48) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.48’ (15/8/54) ‘TABARNI DOCUMENT’ by Tom Carson, Harry Warner Jrn (“Recoil”), Veronica Welwood (“Last Journey”), TD Hamm (“Servant Problem”) + CV Jackson (‘Is There An Inventor In The House’), John Tayne (‘All About Evolution’), HJC (‘London Circle’ - about Globe Tavern SF nights, ‘John Stuart Mill’), ‘Logic:4’, Books (Jack Williamson ‘Dragons Island’ + WE Johns, anthologies and non-fic), Fanzines (‘i’) Last ‘From Earth To The Stars’ cover by Davis - ‘Our Starship At It’s Destination’

(49) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.49’ (15/9/54) ‘LOGIC’ by EC Tubb, Dan Morgan (“Forgive Them”), J Burke (“Asteroid Crusoe”), EE Evans (“Insomnia Cure”), Richard Wilson (“SF Story”), Edmund Cooper (“Jar Of Latakia”) + WW Byford (“Space & Mt Newton”), Peter Summers (“Brain & Body”), Frank Wilson (“Ways Of Science”), ‘Galileo’, Fans (‘Liverpool SF Soc’ report, ‘Super-Mancon’ & zines ‘BEM’, Don Allen’s ‘Satellite’, Harlan Ellison’s ‘Dimensions’, ‘Andromeda’ etc), Books (Henry Kuttner ‘Mutant’) Inner illo by Mendoza, new Davis cover series ‘Mercury: World Of Heat’

(50) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.50’ (15/10/54) ‘IT TAKES TWO’ by HK Bulmer, EC Tubb (“Hidden Treasure Of Kalin”), GC Duncan (“One Hour”), SM Lane (“Won’t Power”), KE Smith (“The Kid”) + ‘Prof Delwood’ (‘Expanding Universe’), Peter Summers (‘Brain & Mind’), WW Byford (‘Back To Go Forward’), ‘Albert Einstein’, Fans (‘Nor-West SF Club’ + ‘Phantasmagoria’, ‘Femizine’), Books (‘Star SF Stories’, Frederick Brown’s ‘Project Jupiter’) Illo: Mendoza Cover: Davis ‘Through The Sand-Storms Of Venus’

(51) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.51’ (15/11/54) ‘THE ENVIED’ by Jonathan Burke, Sydney J Bounds (“It’s Dark Out There”), Clifford C Reed (“Jean-Gene-Jeanne”), Peter J Hazell (“The Blackdown Miracle”) + science features by Prof Delwood, Frank Wilson, George Duncan (on Huxley’s ‘Doors Of Perception’ & LSD-25 !!!), WW Byford, Books (Leigh Brackett’s ‘The Starmen’, JT McIntosh ‘One In 300’, Philip Wilding & ‘Paul (Asimov) French’), Fans (‘Satellite’, ‘Triode’) Cover: Davis ‘Mars’. ‘AUTHENTIC BOOK OF SPACE’ insert leaflet

(52) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.52’ (15/12/54) ‘STAR HAVEN’ by EC Tubb, Dan Morgan (“Cleansing Fires”), Lionel Brooks (“A Date With The Past”), SJ Bounds (“John Brown’s Body”) + science by Joy K Goodwin, WW Byford, HJ Campbell, Thomas Bond (Pt.1 of ‘Planetary Exploration’ series). Fanzines (Ron Bennett’s ‘Ploy’, Walt Willis/Bob Shaw’s ‘Hyphen’) Books (Heinlein ‘Starman Jones’, AC Clarke non-fic ‘Young Traveller In Space’) Inner Art: Mortimer Cover: Davis ‘Jupiter The Flaming Giant’

'Authentic SF no.53'

(53) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.53’ (15/1/55) ‘WITHOUT LOVE’ by Rick Strauss, John Christopher (“Conspiracy”), Martin Jordan (“Present From Mars”), WH Boore (“Playing With Time”), Peter E Rigby (“Parting”), Forrest J Ackerman (“The Mute Question”), Anthony Sheppard (“Old School Tie”) + science from WW Byford, Frank Wilson (“How To Make A Bug-Eyed Monster”), EC Tubb (“Suppose You Met A Man In A Flying Saucer”), Thomas Bond, HJ Campbell. Fans (Alan Burns & Don Allen, ‘Bem’, ‘Phantasmagoria’) + 16pp ‘Art Supplement’ insert. Books (AC Clarke ‘Expedition To Earth’, Jonathan Burke ‘Pattern Of Shadows’, juveniles by Richmal Crompton, ME Patchett & Carey Rockwell, non-fic by Prof AM Low) Cover: Davis ‘Saturn’

(54) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.54’ (15/2/55) ‘THE LESSER BREED’ by Dan Morgan, WF Temple (“Man In A Maze”), EC Tubb (“Non Entity” and as ‘Eric Wilding’ “Death Wish”), Katherine Maclean & Michael Porjes (“The Prize”) + science by Campbell, Byford, Art Insert (‘Moon Base’, ‘Flying Saucers’). Books (Chad Oliver ‘Shadows In The Sun’, Charles Chilton ‘Journey Into Space’, Paul Capon ‘Down To Earth’, ‘Kemlo’ non-fic on Verne). Fans (Don Allen’s ‘Dizzy’, Tubb/Bulmer’s ‘i no3’) Letter from Harlan Ellison. Cover: Davis ‘Outer Planets’

(55) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.55’ (15/3/55) ‘ORDEAL’ by H Ken Bulmer, Len Shaw (“The Silver Box”), Katherine Marcuse (“The Holiday”), EC Tubb (“Murder Most Innocent” & as ‘Alice Beecham’ “Lover, Where Art Thou?”), John Carter (“By Whose Hand ?”) + science by ‘HJC’, WW Byford (‘The Divine Wind’), Joy K Goodwin (‘Xerography’), John Tayne. Art Insert (‘Wanted: Men For Space’, ‘Plane Of The Future’) Books (EE Smith ‘Triplanetary’ + Patrick Moore ‘The Frozen Planet’ fic & non-fic). Cover: John Richards ‘Scenes From The Future’

(56) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.56’ (15/4/55) ‘STRANGE SUICIDE’ by Bryan Berry, Ron Paul (“Blue Rose”), Jonathan Burke (“Personal Call”), EC Tubb as ‘George Holt’ (“Brutus”), George C Duncan (“Symbiosis”) + science Prof AM Low (‘Transport Of Tomorrow’), Douglas F Chatt (‘The Electronic Brain’) + Art supplement. Books (CE Maine ‘Timeliner’, WF Temple ‘Martin Magnus’, JT McIntosh ‘World Out Of Mind’ + ERB & CS Lewis re-issues) Future Transport Cover: Stewart

(57) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.57’ (15/5/55) ‘THE BIG HOP Pt.1’ by JT McIntosh, EC Tubb as ‘Julian Carey’ (“Repair Job”), Brian W Aldiss (“Pogsmith”), Dan Morgan (“Kwakiutl”), John Ashcroft (“Otherwise”), John Kippax (“Down To Earth”), Lyn Venable (“Parry’s Paradox”) + science by Wilson, Byford, AM Low (Health & Medicine), John Law (Meteors), Kathleen Downe (Women in Space) Books (SJ Bounds ‘The Moon Raiders’, Heinlein) Future Heli-Travel Cover: John Richards

(58) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.58’ (15/6/55) ‘THE BIG HOP Pt.2’ by JT McIntosh, Jonathan Burke (“Desirable Residence”), RW Balderston (“Time & Timothy”), Robert Presslie (“Trespassers Will Be Prosecuted”), EC Tubb (“Ethical Assassin”), Aubrey Burl (“Travellers Tale”) + science by Tayne, AE Roy (on Von Braun), AM Low (Sport & Liesure) Books (John Christopher ‘The Year Of The Comet’, Kemlo, John Carnell anthology) Flying Saucer Cover: Stewart

(59) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.59’ (15/7/55) ‘THE TROUBLE WITH MARS’ by Charles Eric Maine, Kenneth Bulmer (“The Day Of The Monster”), Len Shaw (“Holiday Task”), John Ashcroft (“Silk Petals Gone”), Barrington J Bayley (“Kindly Travellers”) + science by Prof AM Low (‘Food Of The Future’) ‘Kenneth Johns’ (alias for Kenneth Bulmer & John Newman on ‘Our Invisible Shield’), Tayne. Disney-TV ‘Man In Space’ photo-feature. Books (Tubb ‘Alien Dust’, Jonathan Burke ‘Alien Landscapes’, Rex Gordon, David Duncan, EC Elliott ‘Tas’). Future Submarine Cover by Stewart

'Authentic SF nos. 60 & 61'

(60) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.60’ (15/8/55) New regular cover-blurb ‘The Magazine Of Tomorrow’. Now 160 pages for 2/-, Science Features move to front of magazine. ‘DECISION’ by EC Tubb, R Thompson (“Sauce For The Goose”), Jonathan Burke (“Let There Be Rain”), Anthony G Williamson (“A Hitch In Time”), GB Tait (“Down In Our Village In Somerset”), Ken Bulmer as ‘Peter Green’ (“Firecracker Fool”), GC Duncan (“Dishwasher”) + science by ‘Kenneth Johns’ Summers, Byford, Tayne, Roy, AM Low (‘Crime’) Books (George O Smith ‘Hellflower’, Edgar Pangborn, JY McIntosh, Silas Water ‘The Man With Absolute Motion’ & juveniles Kemlo and ‘Rocket Pilot’) Cover: Guided Missiles by Slater

(61) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.61’ (15/9/55) ‘PRIVATE SATELLITE Pt.1’ by Jonathan Burke, Jerome S Mill (“Hour Of Zero”), EC Tubb (First ‘DUSTY DRIBBLE’ story “One Every Minute”), HK Bulmer (“Know Thy Neighbour”), Alan Burns (Competition Winner - “Citizen’s Rights”), Philip E High (FIRST SALE - “The Statics”), Alfred Hind (“Homo Twice Over”), Richard P Ennis (“The Lonely Ones”) + science from K Johns (on voice-activated digital computer ‘Audrey’), Tayne, Byford, AE Roy (Space Stations). Books (Ward Moore ‘Bring The Jubilee’, John Boland ‘White August’, Verne, Asimov non-fic & juvenile Philip Briggs) Cover: Missiles by Kirby

(62) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.62’ (15/10/55) ‘PRIVATE SATELLITE pt2’ by Jonathan Burke, GM Feigen (“The Foundling Dummy”), EC Tubb (Dusty Dribble’s “That Zamboni” & as ‘Julian Carey “Blow The Man Down”), Sydney J Bounds (“Time For Murder”), Leslie Davies (“Showpiece”), Bob Shaw (FIRST APPEARANCE – “Departure”), Robert Presslie (“A Star Called Tommy”), Jack Lewis (“Spaceborn”) + science. Books (Arthur C Clarke ‘Earthlight’, Frederic Brown, CM Kornbluth ‘Not This August’, Philip K Dick ‘Handful Of Darkness’ & ‘John Robert Haynes’ - who is Philip Wilding ‘Scream From Outer Space’) Cover: Guided Missiles by DA Stowe

(63) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.63’ (15/11/55) ‘THE LADY AND THE BULL pt.1’ by JT McIntosh, Don Carriway (“The Man Who Said Xiipxertilly”), EC Tubb (“The Shell Game” and as ‘Eric Wilding’ “Unwanted Eden”), Martin Jordan (“Rondo In Time”), Ken Bulmer (“Come To Prestonwell”), Len Shaw (“Wedding Bells For Sylvia”). Science by AE Roy (‘The Way To The Planets pt.5’), WW Byford (‘Modern Metals pt.4’), ‘Triona Law (‘Desirable Residence 1995’). Books (Asimov ‘End Of Eternity’) Cover: Stowe

(64) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.64’ (15/12/55) ‘THE LADY AND THE BULL pt.2’ by JT McIntosh, Alex Morrison (“Star Mania”), Ken Bulmer as ‘H Philip Stratford’ (“Time Travel Business”), Jonathan Burke (“Job Analysis”), Anthony G Williamson (“Just One Way Home”), EC Tubb (“Venus For Never”), John Kippax (“Mother Of Invention”). Science by AE Roy, WW Byford, ‘Kenneth Johns’, Triona Law. Books (Leigh Brackett ‘The Long Tomorrow’, Pohl & Kornbluth ‘The Space Merchants’ + juveniles by WF Temple, Capt WE Johns). Cover: Stowe

(65) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.65’ (15/1/56) Last issue edited by HJ Campbell. With ‘THE CREEP pt.1’ by Robert Presslie, EC Tubb (Dusty Dribble story “Mistake On Mars”), Katherine Marcuse (“Children Should Be Seen”), Barrington Bayley (“The Reluctant Death”), Len Shaw (“The Phoenix Treatment”), Helen M Urban (“Heart Ache”), Sydney J Bounds (“Leave”), AG Williamson (“Duet For Two”), John Kippax (“Again”), Graham Winslow (“The Room”) + science by Prof AW Low (‘The Adventure Of Space’), Peter Summers (‘Free Will?’), ‘Space Academy’. Books (Maine ‘Crisis 2000’+ AC Clarke non-fic). Cover: Ken Woodward

(66) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.66’ (15/2/56) First Edited by EC Tubb (with his Dusty Dribble story “Asteroids” + as ‘Anthony Blake’ “When He Died”, ‘Frank Winnard’ “First Impression” & ‘Ken Wainwright’ “Sleeve Of Care”), HK Bulmer (“The Old Firm”), John Brunner (“Nuisance Value”), Robert Presslie (“The Creep pt.2”) + science by Kenneth John. Int Fantasy Award results. Books (EE Smith ‘First Lensman’, Poul Anderson, Kemlo) Cover: Woodward - Planetariums

'Authentic SF no.67'

(67) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.67’ (15/3/56) EC Tubb (“A Woman’s Work” + as ‘Carl Moulton’ novelette “MAN IN BETWEEN”, ‘Alan Innes’ “The Long Journey” & ‘Anthony Blake’ “Tailor Made”), Sydney J Bounds (“Grant In Aid”), Robert Presslie (“Post Mortem”), Ron Paul (“Lonely Immortal”), Dan Morgan (“The Earth Never Sets”), Robert Lawson (Dr Blaise”), John Kippax (“Waif Astray”) + Kenneth Johns science, ‘DAN DARE SPACESHIP’ at 47s 6d !. Books (Clifford D Simak + Willy Ley, ‘There Is Life On Mars’ & Missing-Link ‘I Looked From Adam’ non-fic) Cover: Mortimer

(68) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.68’ (15/4/56) JT McIntosh ‘THE DECIDING FACTOR’, Frank T Lomas (‘Secret Weapon’), Ken Bulmer (“Mr Culpeper’s Baby’ & as ‘Philip Stratford’ “According To Tradition”), EC Tubb (as ‘Julian Cary “Cure For Dreamers”, ‘Alan Innes’ “The Dilettantes” & ‘Alice Beecham’ “The Letter”), SJ Bounds (“Act Of Courage”), + science by HJ Campbell, ‘Kenneth Johns’, AE Roy. Books (PE Cleator etc) Letter in ‘Discussions’ from 14-year-old future SF publisher/activist Philip Harbottle! Cover: Free Fall by EL Blandford

(69) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.69’ (15/5/56) EC Tubb as ‘Douglas West’ ‘NUMBER 13’ (& ‘Alan Innes’ “The Spice Of Danger”), Ken Bulmer (novelette “Quarry”), Anthony J Williamson (“To Reach The Stars”), John Brunner (“Mowgli”), Jonathan Burke (“The Eve Of Waterloo”), JT McIntosh (“Safety Margin”) + science HJ Campbell, AE Roy (‘The Big Jump - The Way To The Planets pt.12”). Books (Frank Herbert ‘The Dragon In The Sea’ + juveniles Patrick Moore & Kemlo) Cover: R Is For Robot by JE Mortimer

'Authentic SF nos. 70 & 71'

(70) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.70’ (15/6/56) EC Tubb as ‘Ken Wainwright’ ‘THE BIG SECRET’ (+ as ‘Alice Beecham’ “Like A Diamond”), Ken Bulmer (as ‘H Phillip Stratford’ “The Hidden Power”), Chad Oliver (novelette “Let Me Live In A House”), William E Bentley (“Logical Elimination”), AM St Clair (“Lunar Bridge”), Robert Presslie (“Pilgrims All”), Veronica Welwood (“The Wilder Talents”). Science by Campbell, AE Roy (‘The Martian Enigma’). Books (CM Kornbluth, Arthur Sellings, EF Russell) Cover: Bladford

(71) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.71’ (15/7/56) ‘THE LITTLE CORPORAL’ by JT McIntosh, EC Tubb (as ‘Carl Moulton’ novelette “Wishful Thinking”, ‘Douglas West’ “Point Of View”, ‘Frank Winnard’ “Misplaced Person”), James Causey (“Exploiters End”), John Arkwright (“Harvest”), AE Van Vogt (“The Great Judge”), Stella Van Wood (“You Do Take It With You”). Science by Colin May, ‘Kenneth Johns’ (‘Balloons’). Books (Alfred Bester’s ‘Tiger Tiger’, August Derleth) Cover: Blandford

(72) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.72’ (15/8/56) ‘THE GIVE-AWAY WORLDS’ by EC Tubb (as ‘Julian Cary’), Jonathan Stones (“Reply Deferred”), James Causey (“So Lovely, So Lost”), Dan Morgan (“The Way I Am”), Mark Clifton (“Reward For Valour”), Robert Presslie (“Cat Up A Tree”). Science by WG Speirs & Colin May. Books (Lester Del Ray, juvenile ME Patchett ‘Send For Johnny Danger’, non-fic Patrick Moore ‘Guide To Mars’) Cover: Mortimer

(73) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.73’ (15/9/56) ‘PROBLEM IN MURDER’ by HL Gold, Betsy Curtis (novelette “Of The Fittest”), ‘Douglas West’ (Tubb’s “Reward For A Hero”), JT McIntosh (“Katahut Said No”), Duncan Lamon (“Production Job”), AM St Clair (“No Way Back”), John Kippax (“We Are One”). Features: Kenneth Johns (“The Evolution Of Man 1”), Colin May (“Solar Power”), Books (Philip K Dick ‘World Of Chance’, Alan E Nourse ‘Trouble On Titan’, David Duncan ‘Another Tree In Eden’). Ad for ‘Aero Modeller’ magazine. Cover: Mercury by EL Blandford

(74) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.74’ (15/11/56, date adjusted) ‘ENEMY OF THE STATE’ by ‘Ken Wainwright’ (Tubb), JT McIntosh (“Tradition” novelette reprinted from ‘Other Worlds’ April 1952), Robert Presslie (“Lest We Forget”), ‘H Philip Stratford’ (Bulmer “Lucky Number”), Philip E High (“A Schoolroom For The Teacher”), HL Gold (“The Man With English” copyright Ballantine Books, 1953), John Ashcroft (“Blight”). Features: Kenneth Johns (“Evolution Of Man 2”), Walter G Speirs (‘Radio Astronomy’), Books (Arthur C Clarke ‘The City And The Stars’, Charles Eric Maine ‘Escapement’). Inner art: John Mortimer. Cover: Venus by EL Blandford

(75) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.75’ (December 1956) ‘FULFILLMENT’ by AE Van Vogt, HL Gold (novelette “No Charge For Alterations”), Philip E High (“The Collaborator”), Kenneth Bulmer (“Recreation” and as ‘H Philip Stratford’ “Wrong Impression”), Douglas West (“Legal Eagle”), SD Hill (“Affair Of Gravity”). Features: Kenneth Johns (‘Evolution 3), Walter G Speirs (‘Miniature Microscopy’), Books (James Blish ‘They Shall Have Stars’, Capt WE Johns ‘Now To The Stars’, ‘Jules Verne: Master Of Science Fiction’, Arthur C Clarke non-fic ‘The Coast Of Coral’). Inner art: John Mortimer. Cover: Moon by EL Blandford

'Authentic Science Fiction nos. 76 & 77'

(76) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.76’ (January 1957) ‘PRESTIGE’ by Kenneth Bulmer, Cleve Cartmill (novelette “You Can’t Say That”), ‘Julian Cary’ (EC Tubb’s “Combination Calamitous” and as Frank Winnard “Melly And The Martian” and as Alan Innes “We, The Brave”), HL Gold (“Hero”, 1939 Standard Magazines), Jonathan Burke (“Fashion Me A Dream”). Features: Kenneth Johns (‘Evolution 4’), Walter G Speirs (‘Miniaturisation’). Books (Leigh Brackett ‘The Sword Of Rhiannon’, Charles Chilton ‘The Red Planet’, John Boland ‘No Refuge’, John Wyndham ‘The Seeds Of Time’, ‘Best SF 2’ edited by Edmund Crispin). Inner art: JE Mortimer. Cover art: Jupiter by EL Blandford

(77) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.77’ (February 1957) ‘THE RECUSANTS’ by Jonathan Burke, Kenneth Bulmer (novelette “Child’s Play”), Edward Mackin (“The Trouble With HARRI”). Philip E High (“Plague Solution”), A Bertram Chandler (“The Survivors”), John Kippax (“By The Forelock”), William E Bentley (“Silent Enemy”). EC Tubb’s introduction announces ‘a bigger, brighter, better’ magazine format from next issue. Features by Walter G Speirs (‘Time For Yesterday’), Kenneth Johns (‘The Evolution Of Man 5’), Rudolph Robert (‘Men Behind The Atom’). Books (Professor AM Low ‘Satellite In Space’, Claude Yelnick ‘The Trembling Tower’, John Christopher ‘The Death Of Grass’, plus ‘Calder Hall’). Cover: EL Blandford, Mars Orbital

'Authentic SF no.78'

(78) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.78’ (March 1957) New Format. New tagline ‘Action-Science-Romance-Adventure’. ‘DEAD WEIGHT Part 1’ by ‘Douglas West’ (Tubb, with cover art by Kirby), Isaac Asimov (novelette “Ideals Die Hard”), Duncan Lamont (“Melroso”), H Philip Stratford (Bulmer “Asymptote”), John Cotterill (“The Gentle Rain”), Nigel Lloyd (“Upstairs”). Features: Kenneth Johns (‘The Evolution Of Man Part 6’). Books by Alec F Harby (Denys Rhodes ‘The Eighth Plague’, William Tenn ‘Of All Possible Worlds’, Philip Wilding ‘Shadow Over The Earth’, Immanuel Velikovsky ‘Earth In Upheaval’). Ad for ‘The Solascope’, and ‘Fantast’. Inner art: Blandford and Kirby

Philip E High cover-story for 'Authentic SF no.79'

 (79) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.79’ (April 1957) Modified tagline ‘Action-Science-Adventure’ ‘DEAD WEIGHT Part 2’ by ‘Douglas West’, Philip E High (novelette “Assassin In Hiding” with cover art by Blandford), Nigel Lloyd (“The Honest Philosopher”), William E Bentley (“Prophet Without Honour”), A Bertram Chandler (“They Blow Up”), John Kippax (“Salute Your Superiors!”). Features: Kenneth Johns (‘Evolution Of Man Part 7’), Books by Alec F Harby (William F Temple ‘Martin Magnus On Mars’, plus UFO ‘The Coming Of The Spaceships’). Ray Cummings Obituary. Ad for George Adamski ‘Flying Saucers Have Landed’. Inner art: Blandford, Adash, PR Green

Inner Spread from 'Authentic SF no.80"

(80) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.80’ (May 1957) ‘DEAD WEIGHT Part 3’ by ‘Douglas West’ (cover art by Kirby), Robert Presslie (novelette “Trojan Horse”), JS Huegh (“Metamorphosis”), A Bertram Chandler (“Dark Reflection”), Nigel Lloyd (“Eve No Adam”), Philip E High (“Life Sentence”). Features: Kenneth Johns (‘The Evolution Of Man’ conclusion), Science (‘Cold Light’), Books by Alec F Harby (Hugh Walters ‘Blast Off At Woomera’, Ruthven Todd ‘Space Cat’, plus spiritualism). Inner art: Adash, PR Green

(81) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.81’ (June 1957) ‘THERE’S ONLY ONE WINNER’ Short Novel by Nigel Lloyd (cover art by Kirby), Robert Presslie (novelette “My Name Is Macnamara”), ‘Ken Wainwright’ (Tubb “Grzdle”), Robert Silverberg (“Collecting Team”), Edward Mackin (“The Problem In Psionics”), John Cotterill (“The Last Old Maid”). Ad for book ‘Mr Adam’ by Pat Frank. Books by Alec F Harby (George Adamski ‘Flying Saucers Have Landed’ + ad., Donald E Keyhoe ‘The Flying Saucer Conspiracy’, Charles Eric Maine ‘The Isotope Man’, Theodore Sturgeon ‘Thunder And Roses’) . Inner art: PR Green, Adas

'Authentic SF' nos.82 & 83

(82) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.82’ (July 1957) Novelettes: Brian W Aldiss (“What Triumphs?” aka “Visiting Amoeba”, cover-art by Kirby, inner art Adash), Nicholas Canadine (“No Greater Love”, art by PR Green), Isaac Asimov (“It’s A Beautiful Day”, art by Adash, reprinted from USA ‘Star Science Fiction Stories No.3’ in January 1955). Short Stories: Nigel Lloyd (“Patient Of Promise”), Robert Silverberg (“Song Of Summer”, art by PR Green), Robert Presslie (“Copy Cat”, art by Adash), Betram Chandler (“The Cage”). Ad for ‘British Glandular Products’. Books by Alec F Harby (Brian W Aldiss ‘Space Time & Nathaniel’, Pat Frank ‘Mr Adam’, Patrick Moore ‘Science And Fiction’ – also discussed in Tubb’s editorial + Walt Willis ‘The Harp Stateside’)

(83) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.83’ (August 1957) Novelettes: JT McIntosh (“Unfit For Humans”, art by Adash), Philip E High (“Topside”, Adash art), Jerome Bixby (“Nightride And Sunrise”, PR Green art). Short Stories: EC Tubb (“Food For Friendship”), A Bertram Chandler (“Mother Of Invention”, art by PR Green), Brian W Aldiss (“Out Of Reach”, cover-art by Kirby, inner art by Adash), Edward Mackin (“A Kind Of Immortality). Books by Alec F Harby (two fact-books about Space Travel, one about archaeology)

(84) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.84’ (September 1957) Novelettes: Kenneth Bulmer (“Ambiguous Assignment”), Ron Lowam (“Second From The Sun”). Short Stories: Robert J Tilley (“Music Soothes The Throoby”), A Bertram Chandler (“And The Glory”, cover-art by Kirby), Robert Presslie (“Interrupted View”), James Evans (“Linda”), Philip E High (“The Ancient Enemy”). Books by Alec F Harby (Harold Mead ‘Mary’s Country’, Rene Ray ‘The Strange World Of Planet X’, EC Eliott ‘Kemlo And The End Of Time’ + ‘The Truth About Flying Saucers’). No new inner art

(85) ‘AUTHENTIC SCIENCE FICTION MONTHLY no.85’ (October 1957) Novelettes: Robert Presslie (“Star Tober”, poor cover-art by PR Green), Jon J Deegan (“The Lights Of Anker-Mo”, final ‘Old Growler’ story), Robert J Tilley (“Rolling Stone”). Short Stories: ‘H Philip Stratford’ (Bulmer’s “Vale!”), Ron Lowam (“Pride Of Possession”), D Wilcox (“The Wall”), GW Locke (“The Human Seed”). Article: Kenneth Johns ‘Quest For Tomorrow’. Books by Alec F Harby (Egon Larsen ‘You’ll See’ + Satellite and Rocket books). No ‘Forecast’ coming next issue box. Final editorial by Tubb announces ‘a mixed issue and, because of that, I feel a satisfactory one. Variety is always welcome and we certainly have variety…’

‘THE JET COMIC’ (January 1954, 6d) a one-off 28-page comic-book spin-off produced by Hamilton & Co, with cover-story ‘Jack Trent: Space Flyer’ on a nine-page exploratory voyage in the Starflash to the moons of Saturn, when he encounters a mummified Martian called Donaz. Also Ron Embleton’s ‘Captain Atom’, ‘Mogog The Mighty’ – a kind of Tarzan jungle-hero, and part one of ‘Space Survey’ with Rocky Granite on planet Skorda. There was never a no.2

‘AUTHENTIC BOOK OF SPACE’ (1954) 5/- Annual format edited by HJ Campbell, Foreword by Arthur C Clarke, colour plates reproduced from ‘Authentic Science Fiction’ with red-tint picture-strip of ‘Old Growler: Space Ship No.2213’ by Jon J Deegan, telling how Hartnell, Tubby and Pop visit Fellik, fourth planet of Vega. Text-fiction by William F Temple (“Explorers Of Mars”) ‘A tale of two boys who went to Mars and found it dull – at first’ (with John Richards art), Mary Dogge (‘The Blue Cloud’) ‘a story of the future’, Leslie A Crouch (‘Playmate’). Fact articles by Forrest J Ackerman (‘Death Rides The Spaceways’), Alan U Hershey (‘Hardships In Starships’), H Ken Bulmer (‘Our Friends The Aliens’), William F Temple (‘How Do You Say ‘Hello’ To A Martian?’), EC Tubb (‘Do You Want To Emigrate To Mars?’), HJ Campell with ‘A shortened version of a lecture given to the Cambridge University Interplanetary Society on ‘Possible Life-Forms On Other Planets’