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The Complete Cheap Truth

“Vincent Omniaveritas”

Bruce Sterling donned his unsecret identity of Vincent Omniaveritas to publish the 1980s “samizdat” fanzine Cheap Truth, whose 18 issues engaged in much shit-kicking denunciation of fuddy-duddy old SF/fantasy and praise of radical new stuff (or sometimes vice-versa) in those days when the genre’s Cyberpunk and Humanist cliques were supposed to be deadly rivals. Subversive and fun, Cheap Truth was explicitly not copyrighted and so has been assembled into an Ansible Editions ebook without any tiresome formality about asking permission. Added to the TAFF site on 7 June 2019. 33,500 words.

From the first issue:

Quest for Decay

As American SF lies in a reptilian torpor, its small, squishy cousin, Fantasy, creeps gecko-like across the bookstands. Dreaming of dragon-hood, Fantasy has puffed itself up with air like a Mojave chuckwalla. SF’s collapse has formed a vacuum that forces Fantasy into a painful and explosive bloat.

Short stories, crippled with the bends, expand into whole hideous trilogies as hollow as nickel gumballs. Even poor Stephen Donaldson, who struggles to atone for his literary crimes with wet hippy sincerity, has been forced to re-xerox his Tolkien pastiches and doubly insult the public. As Robert E. Howard spins in his grave, the Chryslers of publishing attach rotors to his head and feet and use him to power the presses.

But the editors have eaten sour grapes and the writers’ teeth are on edge. Fantasy, for too long the vapid playground of McCaffreyite unicorn-cuddlers and insect-eating SCA freaks, has some new and dangerous borderlands. Suddenly, perhaps out of sheer frustration, fantasy has movement and color again. It is the squirming movement of corruption and the bright sheen of decay.