Cheap Truth

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In the early-to-mid 1980s author Bruce Sterling, under the pseudonym “Vincent Omniaveritas,” edited a series of mostly single-sheet reviewzines titled Cheap Truth. (It usually called itself a samizdat, after the typescripts dissidents circulated in Communist Eastern Europe, but that's just a highfalutin name for a fanzine.) In them, Sterling, Lewis Shiner (as "Sue Denim"), and other members of a loose-knit group of SF writers (calling themselves "the Movement" but soon dubbed cyberpunk) attacked what they considered the stagnant state of the period's popular science fiction, its awards (especially the Nebula), and hyped their own works. As such, the fanzine documents the development of the literary consciousness of the sub-genre's writers. After Sterling ended Cheap Truth, he and the others started contributing to the SF Eye.

David Langford published The Complete Cheap Truth containing all the issues below as a 2019 ebook for free download from the TAFF website: "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." As the download proved popular, in September 2022, he added a print-on-demand paperback, all proceeds to TAFF, with Sterling's permission: "I guess a 'book' wouldn't hurt anything, especially at this date, but the real deal always looked like it should have been stapled to a telephone pole."[1]

Issue Date Pp Notes
1 1983 2
2 1983 2
3 1983 2
4 1983 2
5 1984 2
6 1984 2 p. 1 enthusiastic of Dozois's First Annual; p. 2 anonymous poem "SF: A Rhapsody. After Swift" (also in Paperback Inferno 50, Oct '84 as by A. Nonymous), identified by Langford as Brian Aldiss
7 1984 2 datestamp OCT 6 1984 at top (might be just the copy's owner arrival date?)
8 1984 2 datestamp DEC 14 1984; "EDITORIAL. Call the Black Box at 300 baud, (512) 835-9742"
9 1985 4 datestamp JAN 7 1985 at end of p. 2; 2 extra pages are "Electronic Letter Column (512) UFO-SMOF", these dated 26 Jan ("RE CT 9", responding to an article in the issue! possibly due to earlier BBS distribution?) to 17 Feb
10 1985 3 deals with Nebulas to be "handed out on May 4". Extra page is (misfiled?) computer printout "BULLETIN: CHEAP TRUTH Goes Silicon!", announcing "SMOF-BBS" launched 26 Jan, signed "CHEAP TRUTH On-Line"
11 1985 2 no BBS; fictional Raymond Chandler interview opens "It was late March 1985, two years since our CHEAP TRUTH Lovecraft interview (see CT3)"
12 1985 2 p. 1 "Candace Berragus" critical of Neuromancer; p2 "CHEAP TRUTH hastens to laud" Blood Music. No BBS again
13 1985 2
14 1986 2
15 1986 6 4pp "Cheap Truth Letter Column" mostly from writers inc. "Orson Card"; from 3 Dec 85 to 22 May 86 (first response to CT15 on 16 May), ending with a xerox from 13 July UK newspaper
16 1986 4 "special issue" "Cheap Truth London" on UK fiction with 2 extra pages of "Pilgrimage to Node Zero by Seth L. Lapcart" (Charles Platt)
"The Last" Nov 1986 2 "The Last Cheap Truth"; the only dated issue – i. e. "(Austin, Texas, November 1986)" is the spoof editorial's dateline. Different, better font / typesetting / word processor
no number (post- May 1985) 2 "Special Unnumbered Edition", big title "Sturgeon: Mercury Plus X" – tribute by Brian Aldiss; "Ted died early in May" without year specified, no other indication of origin. Full Austin address that was not given in #16 or #17, no BBS. Typescript but with more whitespace than ordinary issues
  1. Langford Facebook post, September 6, 2022.




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