Editorial & Letters

Grisham's Law: "Bad Fiction Drives Out Good"



As we arrange electrons for this fifth issue of "Planet Magazine," we can't help but look back at the humble origins of this e-zine (or, as the British say, lectronic-maga) and think, for a moment, of all the other, rival megalomaniacal purveyors of pre-professional fiction that we here at Planet Magazine have either acquired, "merged" with, or financially ruined in our foam-flecked zeal to stand Somewhere on the Hill of Free Online Genre Zines. Indeed, by absorbing such zines as "SF Whirlpool," "The Unicorned Dragon-Wizard," "Horror Perspectives," "Lotza Laffz," and "This Poem's for You," our circulation has soared from two or three downloads per month to well over 12 bazfazillion downloads per picosecond -- for this solar system alone! Pretty darn impressive, we'd say, even if it were true.

Lately, however, as we squat here each day on our horde of golden digi-coins, like some bloated, mutant offspring of Madonna and Scrooge McDuck -- with fried-egg eyes locked onto the digital readouts of our check-counting machines, a bead of sweat forming at the tip of our broad orange-yellow beak -- we begin to wonder if maybe we didn't always do right by others in our blind struggle to make "Planet Magazine" the best-selling free zine in 1994 named "Planet Magazine." Maybe, just maybe, we might have done some Wrong. However, such thoughts quickly fade from our shallow reverie, disappearing like a bad dream on a sunny, spring morn, as our penetrating gaze alights once again, like a muscular, young bee, on the seemingly nectar-laden digital readouts of our many, many, many check-counting machines. And then we feel that little goose of elation, which overwhelms all doubt, that rising blast of pure exhilaration of "knowing" that we have achieved a level of material ownership and personal mental power that few beings -perhaps not even the fabled Regiz Fihlbinn or Tawksho IV -will ever know, even in my most antihistamine-charged fugue states.

May You Know the Peace of The Rich Man,
Andrew G. McCann Editor,
Planet Magazine, March 1995



If you are experiencing technical problems with reading "Planet Magazine," follow these procedures (Macintosh-only; Windows, DOS, Unix, and Vnetpth users should substitute equivalent commands): Quit from the file and then open it again. If you still have problems, download it again. If that doesn't help, send an e-mail notice to PlanetMag@aol.com, and then do the following: Quit from the document, move the cursor over to the Planet icon, click once to highlight it, drag it to the trashcan, and let go once the trashcan is highlighted. Then, pull down the Special menu, choose Empty Trash, and let go. Then, move the cursor off the screen and up the wall facing you to the menu bar along the ceiling. Pull down the File menu and choose Quit. HOWEVER, be sure that your reality supports multitasking, so that your Self doesn't Quit along with your apartment, house, bed-sit, coffee shop, what-have-you (if you don't have reality multitasking, just choose Pause). Then, assuming you're operating within a North America, circa 1990s reality program, walk down the street (by the way, if you see some litter, move your cursor over it until its highlighted, then drag it over to the nearest trashcan) and enter your local magazine shop. Click once on "Analog," "Asimov's," "Fantasy & Science Fiction," or the like, and move the magazine into any personal folder you choose. To avoid a system error, don't forget to drag and drop some e- credits onto the cash-register icon. Then go home, reboot your apartment, double-click on the magazine's icon, and read. That should do it.

Note: If you still experience problems, maybe we should take a closer look at your relationship with your parents, and see if we might encourage you to begin to really feel your feelings about them. Yes, that's a good place to start. We should tell you, though, that our fee is $100 for 45 minutes, and also that we will soon ask you to come twice a week, as the momentum will truly benefit you; further, after about four or five years, when you'll try to break away from us because of time and money conflicts, we'll tell you that you're finally feeling the anger against your parents, and you're close to achieving a breakthrough, and that we really ought to continue for a while and not think about artificial concepts like "stopping therapy," or even "talking about stopping therapy." Writing those checks to us is good for you; it teaches you discipline and commitment, and thus is self-esteemable.

Biedermeier X. Leeuwenhoek
Registered Shrink and Tax Consultant



Dear Editor: Kool zine. I distribute a zine from AOL here, too. It's called "Public Access" and uses the same DOCMaker program. I love the graphics, too. Nice work.

Hi to the Editors: I have downloaded your mag and I really like to read the stories. It is a great idea to publish stories and send them to the internet. My proposal is that you send it also personally, if possible.
Ciao and good luck,
via the Internet

[Editor's Note: We are toying with the idea of some sort of subscription service, but don't hold your breath.]

Dear Editor: First off, I like your magazine. It seems very well thought out and it looks very professional. Now for the question...How do I get a copyright on an e- newsletter? I am doing one for my local MUG [called LOLNews] and have not been able to find adequate information on the registration of such copyrights. I am particularly interested in the cost and amount of red tape involved.
Thanks for your help,
via AOL

[Editor's Note: As I told Mark, the U.S. Copyright Office's Public Information Office can be reached at (202) 707-3000; call (202) 707-9100 for the Forms Hotline to register a publication. Registrants have to fill out a form and mail the office two copies of the publication plus a check for $20. They eventually respond with a photocopy of the completed registration form. Not too hard.]

Editor: Where can I find Planet Magazine on AOL? How many issues are there?
via AOL

[Editor's note: There are five issues of Planet so far. They come in plain text (for IBM or Macintosh) or illustrated (Mac only) versions. The text files are, of course, smaller and thus a quicker download; the fancy version, though, is a bigger file but more fun. To find Planet on AOL, use the keyword WRITERS (command-k on a Mac; type in the word WRITERS, hit the return button on your keyboard); double-click on the Writers Club Libraries folder; double-click on Writers Club E-Zines folder; if necessary, hit the "more..." button until you see what you want.]

Editor: Planet Magazine is way cool.
Good job!
via AOL



Dear Gaia: Here are a series of very good jokes that I've written in the Existential Style:

  1. Guy walks down the street; guy comes up and hands him a fish; says, "No thanks."
  2. Guy climbs a ladder; gets to the top; looks around; doesn't see anything.
  3. Guy jumps onto a bus; takes his coat off; puts it back on.
  4. Guy gets up on stage; stands in the middle; spotlight goes out.

These jokes are also available, for a fee, to playwrights and novelists.
Like you care,
K. Moo
Senior Haircutter, Jean-Paul Sartorial Salons

Dear Eve: Today is not only the shortest day of the year, it's also the widest. Which reminds me of when I was a boy, and the times my father would drive me down in the van to The Sleeping Giant, a low rise of hills that echoed the profile of same. Many locals insisted, by the by, that those hills actually contained the remains of a dead behemoth. As evidence, they pointed to the eroded, but still clearly visible, remains of a 500-foot bedside table, complete with lamp, alarm clock, dream journal, and box of Kleenex. Further, there were the large articles of clothing laying about; my favorite was The Single Moccasin, which lay on its side along the riverbank, toe in the water -- it was truly the greatest shoe on Earth.
Keep Smilin',
Willy Everstop
Americana Fan From Way-Back, Ohio

Dear Tara: How come a person on the phone always takes precedence over someone who's bothered to show up in person? Hey, you can be in line for half an hour at the takeout, waiting to place your order for raspberry lo mein, and the phone rings. Whatta they do? The guy gets on the horn and takes down an order for the entire New York Giants squad, AND all the cheerleaders and support staff. Honks me right off. For example, I was sitting in the White House last Thursday, talking to The Man, when a little red phone starts flashing. Well, before He could see it, I picked up the handset and dropped it back down. Nothing was going to take away my time discussing the root beer industry with Mr. Somebody. 'N just after that first nuclear blast hit me, melting the very eyes from my sockets like hot wax, I still felt justified in what I had done. It's only a matter of common courtesy sumpin' that's sorely lacking these days!
Later on chief,
e.e. mail

Dear Dana: Why can't we all just stratify?
Hope that doesn't sound two dumm,
Mona Synaptik
Citizen of The Neighborhood

Dear Lillith: Welp, it's getting near closing time down here at the Old Barne Theatre, so I'm stowing all of the characters and the accents and shrugging on my worn, leather bomber jacket before I head out into the cool and windy night! Ain't nowhere in the freakin' world like it, 'cep'n maybe the Old Barne Theatre II down the road a piece.
Sy F. Relieff
Acteur and Farmeur

Dear Hera: Awright, this is a stickup! Put all yer money into an envelope and mail it to me immediately! C'mon, move! Quick, quick! (Unfortunately, I can't give you my name or address, as that might lead the police to my lair.) To show you that I am indeed serious, I make this warning: If I don't receive the money within 5 business days, then I shall fire a bullet into a frictionless ceramsteel envelope and Fedex it to you overnight-delivery.
You have been warned,
"Munk E. Bizniss"
Brooklyn, USA

Dear Great Mother: No, no, wait.... OK, I got it. Now listen up, THIS is a stickup! Put all yer digicash into an encrypted message and email it to me right now at the anonymous site listed below. Go on! Do it! (Again, I can't give you my real name or e-mail address, as that might lead the Secret Service to my bedroom PC.) To show you that I am extremely desperate, I say this: If I don't receive the credits within 5 business hours, then I shall unleash a killbot on the Net to wipe out every trace of you, from your overly liberal/conservative e-rag all the way to your unpaid IRS bills!
This is no joke,
"Jess e-James"

Dear Lady-of-the-Lake: My sense is, from reading your electronic-publication, that you are incredibly handsome. [Thanks - Ed.] This may very well be irrelevant, or even off the mark, but maybe now you'll publish my epic poem about "Derek, the Lonely East-End Chimney-Swabbing Lad." [Consider it published - Ed.]
B.B. Golly,
Secretary/Receptionist United Nations Building, NYC

[Who is this guy named Ed? - Editor.]

Dear Nuit: I really liked playing Pathways to Darkness, and Wolfenstein 3-D was even better. For a while, too, I played Doom on my Uncle Vlad's PC. But now I got Marathon! And I can't stop. It's great. There's one problem, though: After an hour or so of fluidly racing up and down corridors and stairwells, dodging in and out of doorways, sidling back and forth, and rapidly blowing away enemies in an endless, gory bloodbath, I start to get pretty-goll-darn seasick! I'll tell you, by gosh. Oh, man.

It's like when you were in the fourth grade, and Buddy and Dewey from the sixth grade put you in that Pic-n-Pay shopping cart and twirl you around and race you down the playground and bang you down the concrete steps before slamming you into that low railing from which you fly out and have to grab the chain-link basketball net in the court below or risk scraping away some pizza-slices of epidermis on those rough red-orange bricks coming at ya.

In other words, after playing a few dozen games on the ol' Mac and achieving the eleventy-seventh level, deep inside my head, the inner ear fluid is whipping here and there like a Westinghouse spin cycle at some psychotic peak. My joystick hand is clammy. The monitor is blurry. I'm bathed in cold sweat...trapped...a rising scream ready to bloom like a viper vine from hell. Something's very, very wrong with the world, but I don't know what! And then, either I run to the toilet to vomit like a grenade launcher, or I fall back on my bed until the queasiness fades and the room stops twirling like a mad butterfly; this usually takes about half an hour, I think.

And then I'm ready to play again!

Layder, dood,
Wolf N. Speww
via the Intranet

Dear Protectress of the Hunt: Please disregard the earlier, threatening letter that was sent in my name. You see, even though it apparently came from my superduperinfofreeway e- mail address, I could not, in any way, be responsible for it nor its contents. Permit me to explain: I was working at my terminal after a long day of helping others, when, all of a sudden, I must have fallen asleep. Or maybe I was just looking the other way. In any case, somebody then must have come by, reached around my body, typed in the letter, digi- signed it, encrypted it, sent it, and then erased the outgoing message log. It was probably even an alien. So why aren't you out looking for him/her/it? What are you, some kind of controlling fascist? Why the vendetta against ME?
Nobody knows what I've been through since childhood,
Pier A. Noyde Counselor,
Crystal Harmony Ashram/Carryout & Rehab

Dear Ms. Basinger: Here's an idea for a scam. Twice a year we start up an office collection for our birthdays -- but twice for you, twice for me. That's FOUR TIMES per year in all. Currently, we don't collect once for either of us, and the most we've ever ended up with is a so-so ice-cream cake. However, if we follow my idea and HIT THEM HARD, then we should get a nice return on our efforts. We could even canvass the drones on the 19th floor. Come to think of it, why not smarm one of the gorgeous secretaries into running the collection for us, not letting on to the inside dope, of course.

If we offset the collections correctly, no one should notice. Here's a sample strategy:

If anyone asks, "Wasn't it just your birthday?" We say something like, "Seems like it, don't it," or "Hey, time flies," or "<groan> Don't remind me!" You get the picture. If we play it fast, cool, and loose, you and I could be sitting even easier on Pretty Street. At the very least, I think we'd end up with enough for a couple of nice steaks at Tony Roma's Rib Restaurant.
Waiting for the word,
I.M. de Mann
Freelance Business Consultant


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