Editorial & Letters

"If Elected, We Promise a Crashed Saucer in Every Backyard!"



There is a great, ongoing debate regarding "The Face" -- a hill on Mars, photographed from space, whose depressions and ridges collectively appear to form two eyes, a nose, and an open mouth, framed by a very bad haircut. Many people say this "face" represents a message to Earth, a deadly warning even, trumpeting to all who are aware enough to listen: "We are here in your solar system! We have a base on Mars built with the help of the Secret World Government of your planet! We will usher in a New World Order that will make the 'X- Files' seem like an episode of 'American Bandstand'! Behold our works, ye puny, and tremble!" (Although that's a long-winded message that sounds suspiciously like something we would make up, adherents insist it's accurate and based on careful telescopic lip-reading.)

All that is well and good. And we look forward to serving a second set of Alien Masters. But Planet Magazine feels it's imperative to point out a new, more ominous development. Recent photos of Mars -- smuggled out of NASA's high-security image-processing facility in Taos, New Mexico, by a talking dog we befriended -- show another feature of the Martian surface heretofore kept as a secret of the highest order. Exactly halfway round the Martian globe from the The Face, there are two parallel, sandy-red mounds -- yes, The Buttocks of Mars!

Exactly why would our future controllers seek to "moon" us? Does this signify a menacing disdain portending some fearful twist in the accepted scenario of their eventual domination? Or, by showing us their "crack," are they saying, "We are like drunken rock-band roadies or bloated refrigerator repairmen, seeking nothing but money, sex, and narcotics for substandard work"? Or, perhaps, the face and buttocks of Mars imply that the planet itself is the body (however distended), and that we should now be looking for The Arms and The Legs of Mars for further clues to the Aliens' plans?

All of these alternative paths are unwelcome, in our view. We were hoping for a strict, organized hierarchy to take possesion of Earth as soon as possible; one that we could figure out, learn to work with, rise up within -- eventually gaining the top post in the Earth Colony, as well as permission to humbly travel to the Alien home planet to become the first Earthling member of the Galactic Emperor's Most Royal Court. Maybe, one day, we'd even become the Court's wizened Scribe- Editor, one who publishes alien SF in his spare time and perhaps has the ear (or whatever organ) of The Highest Cosmic Personage Itself.

Thus, Planet Magazine calls on the Secret World Government to immediately launch a probe toward this new Martian feature, quickly collect the necessary samples, and speedily disseminate the appropriate disinformation to the officially recognized forums: alt.alien.visitor, "Encounters," and Newt Gingrich's presidential- campaign advance team.

Awaiting Alien Orders,
Andrew G. McCann,
Edit-bot v1.01a
Planet Magazine, December 1995



Dear Editor: I have been reading your e-zine since Issue 1; it's very good. I noted in Issue 6 that you would provide an alert to us "regulars" when an issue was posted. I'd like to get such a service; it will save me wasting time looking when it's not yet posted; or missing an issue when it is. Thanks in advance, John
via AOL

[Uhhh, did we say that? By gosh we did! OK, we will add you to the alert list. And thanks for the e-compliment. By the way, you can download back issues from our Web site at <http://www.planetmag.com>. Editor]


Dear Editor: Hi, I really like Planet Magazine (I've downloaded 6 issues so far). I'd like to know: 1) What is the latest issue? 2) Where can I get it? (AOL seems to have re-arranged the writers forum and I can't seem to locate the e-zine library. Also, a search for "Planet Magazine" yielded nothing.
Thanks in advance,
Ian R.
via AOL
P.S. You should get more stories by Rick Blackburn. "The Bombardment" in issues 2 and 3 was EXCELLENT!

[Y'hear that, Rick? In re the e-zines library on AOL, the moderators did manage to hide it fairly well, but trust us, it IS there. You just have to hit the "More" button. Meantime, if you ever need to find an issue, just visit our Web page at <http://www.planetmag.com> and download away.]


Dear Editor: Finished reading the current issue of Planet Mag, simply Excellent!!! Every story was well written, and the commentaries/correspondence a good read! I look forward to the next...
The Very Best,
via the Internet

P.S. Do you have hardcopy, would like to definitely purchase!

[We do print a few hard copies, but we're mainly an electronic 'zine. See our Web site, download the pdf version, and print that on colored paper (both sides). Then you'll have your own copy every bit as good as what we'd come up with.]


Dear Editor: I was wondering if Planet Magazine does reviews of books, particularly electronic books sold through the Internet. Our company, Heron View Literary Services, is a small press operating entirely through the World Wide Web, specializing in new authors. We also collect and publish on our home page the criticism and reviews of our readers, to provide our authors feedback to help them hone their craft. Our current catalog has 3 works of SF on it, with another coming this winter.

Garilyn Strawn
Heron View Literary Services

[Planet Magazine does not review books, but we do print letters!]


Dear Editor: Dropped by [your Web site] while out indexing "AfterNoon Magazine". I'll have to stop by again when I have more time. We're supporters of speculative fiction even though we don't have any on Motley Focus right now.
My Best,
Stephen Williamson
"AfterNoon Magazine" <




Dear Frost Giant: Welcome to The Galactic Alliance's "All Lawful Intelligences Emergency Network," or ALIEN! You have reached the bridge of the U.S.S. Porkchop, the closest starship to your sector of the galaxy. We're sorry, but no one is available at the moment to take your subspace call; everyone is either on another call or away from their station. Please listen carefully to the following options: If you're reactor core is melting down, press 1. If you are under attack by aliens, relatively speaking, press 2. If you are threatened by an unknown virus, press 3. If you have another type of emergency, press 4 and leave a message. Please remember to speak slowly in the Galactica dialect and to carefully give your name, your Universal time zone, and your space coordinates. If you'd still like to speak with an operator, remain on the line and someone will be with you shortly.
Thank you!
Lt. Flo Threau-Kondomm
Director, G.A./A.L.I.E.N.


Dear Yeti: Just because I'm a puppet doesn't mean I deserve to be treated like a dummy!


Dear Abominable Snowperson: Humor is often found in the use of devices like repetition. For example, serial murder, although not generally seen as "comic," can get pretty funny after a while.
Stan Dinne Firmm


Dear Windigo: Hello. Let's begin your weekly e-therapy session. As always, since neither of us can figure out how to set up an IRC or Internet telephonic link, and because therapy by e-mail is so necessary yet so one-sided, I'll try to anticipate your answers. Here goes: How are you feeling today? Oh? Is that because of something that happened today between you and your wife? your boss? your dealer? And how does that remind you of your relationship with your mother? No, let's not talk about your father just yet. Interesting... maybe next session we should look at why you think I "sound like Bob Newhart."
OK, your turn (and don't forget to attach an e-check to your reply),
Blaine Klook
Accredited Ralphing Guide



Dear Dire Wolf: I'm a worried mother. My infant son is not doing well with his disk-maintenance training: His hard disk is badly fragmented, and he never backs up any data, even though I bought him a Zip drive. Further, he doesn't seem to want to go online, even though I've given him Microsoft Blob. All he wants to do is go outside and play. Do you know the name of a good child-development professional? I don't want my boy to become cybernetically challenged -- a freak and the butt of jokes, like your "magazine."
Ram Dubbler
via the Ultranet


Dear Frosty: In this dog-eat-dog-eat-dog world of today, being No. 1 is no longer good enough. You've got to be No. 0.
I.M. Wackt

Dear Grinch: I just bought a lovely set of Lagerfeld curtains for my high-tech loft in Williamsburg, which overlooks the picturesque bridge of the same name and the dark, brooding river known only as "East." My question is: Do you know if these drapes will be compatible with Windows 95?
Jay L. Bate


Dear Mr. Freeze: Excuse me, but is this eWorld? I'm trying to find the Technology and Spirtuality Forum to ask whether God supports System 7.5's Drag Manager. This is because He is truly my icon, and I'm wondering if he'll move his Heavenly Mouse and drag and drop my soul onto him. Hey, pretty neat idea, huh? Careful, though, it's patented!
Bristlin' with Lawyers,
Anita Anser


Dear White Queen: I'm seeking funding for my new movie, imaginatively titled "Ayre Brusche," about a young, naive-but-determined gal from the Midwest seeking "meaningingfulness" in life by becoming a Las Vegas showgirl. Although she doesn't mind showing off her body in scene after scene, or in sleeping around to get to where she wants to go -- who hasn't? -- she does wrestle with such very-human doubts as to whether the idiot who packed her latest very-spangly order from the Spiegel close-out catalog really was on drugs at the time, or not. I mean, what is with these catalog companies? They didn't even get her middle initial right!
"Breast" regards,
Harry R Truperson


Dear Jack Frost: I've got a lot of problems, it's true. Some of these I haven't faced, such as my inability to follow postal regulations. I guess you could say that envelopes are something I must address.
Lotta Probz
(In the breakfast nook)


Dear The Thing: Just because I "have no experience" doesn't mean that theater should have fired me. After all, the play was so dated, it was absurd. I still think I was correct in changing the ending: In my version, Mr. Godot walks in at the end with his personal trainer, having been at the Horizontal Club Gym centering his chi.
Waiting for work,
Sam U. L. Baggit


Dear Were-Polar Bear: It's a shame that Quebec's move to secede from Canada failed. I had been hoping to purchase the fledgling nation (using bridge loans, since I'm technically bankrupt) and re-sell it to one of the seven alien races currently vying for domination of Earth. We then could have put everyone in Quebec on minimum wage, teach them English (so that I can figure out what the heck they're saying), and use nano-converters to rebuild the entire country from the ground up as a manufactory of the highly radioactive Element Z+, which of course powers most common types of starcruisers.
Foiled Again,
Al Umanen
P.S. Apparently, some people have been offended by my idea. I don't know why. After all, it's just good business. In fact, if you could have gotten in early on the deal, you would have seen quite a nice return on your investment. Huh! Maybe next year. Well, "Aloha!", as the French say.


Dear Sleet Leopard: One day, many years ago, while wandering in the heart of Ol' Chinatown, I took a wrong turn and found myself walking down a narrow dirt lane -- rather odd for the Core of the Big Apple. Anyway, the buildings were still tall, but wooden, narrow, and dirty, and they seemed to crowd me as I began searching for a way back. There was no one about, save for a few pigs and a rooster, scrabbling in the hard-packed road. Somewhere a goat coughed. Then I noticed that one shop, among all the darkened doorways and windows, appeared to be open.

The screen door creaked as I opened it. I peered about in the candle- lit gloom and spied a tiny old man emerging from a back room. He glided up to me silently and held up an ancient, enameled box carved intricately in orange, blue, and yellow, and said: "In this box is another box. Inside that, another one. And so on, till they reach what your so-called scientists call the subatomic level; then it keeps going but reverses, and the boxes get bigger and bigger, until, well, that would be telling, wouldn't it?" His brown eyes twinkled up at me. "It has unknown powers. Would you like to buy it for fifty cents?"

I looked at him, stunned, and -- don't ask me why -- I bought it. It was cheap, after all. Well, I took it home, and the box soon went into a storage closet and I forgot all about it. Then, one fateful day, when I was desparate for beer money, I remembered the box.

So I took it down from the closet shelf. I brought it to a flea market. And I sold it for $25! Boy, that cash came in handy!

That Is My Story,
Ray Bann
One Building Over


Dear Ice Worm: I'm wondering if your readers can help me with some information for my master's thesis, which focuses on "The History of People Putting Pencils Behind Their Ears." Since I was child, I've been curious about how that all started: Somewhere, somehow, "somewhen," somebody first put a pencil behind his or her ear. I guess that probably happened very soon after pencils were invented. Uh, do you know when that was?
E. "Ray" Seur
Graphite, Pennsylvania
P.S. I just surfed the Web for the first time and accidentally downloaded a Java applet into my pants. Can anyone help me with this, too?


Dear Blizzard Rat*: I like to use cream cheese as a moisturizer. So what do I put on my bagel in the morning? Window putty! Haven't found a use yet for my Jergens -- maybe caulking?
I'll let you know,
Fern Dock


[Now we're really makin' 'em up. The Editor.]


Dear Flurry Gorilla: People always talk about the Sack of Rome like it was a big deal. Well, I've seen the Sack, and it's just an old burlap bag, about two feet by four feet. Sure, it may have an image on it that's the likeness of The Savior, but that still doesn't compare to the Shroud of Turin, a one-mile-square blanket that the Barbarians of the North flung over that poor city oh-so-long-ago. As you recall, this enormous object, sewn by the barbarians' wives, put out all the fires and plunged Turin into darkness for 40 days and 40 nights, with the Huns plundering shops, homes, and palazzos -- their scurrying figures all the while creating moving lumps under The Great Shroud!
Cal Igula


Dear Slush Yak: You know what really makes my blood boil? Being exposed to a hard vacuum!
Arthur C. Bradbury
New Sri Lanka, Mars


Dear Leona: My girlfriend thinks I'm too uptight. Just because I wear a three-piece suit to bed each night. I know this is not a law journal, but is there any way I can sue her?
Kurt Komment
P.S. By the way, I was wondering something: With all his money, how come Bill Gates can't get a decent haircut? *



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