The Enchanted Duplicator

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The Enchanted Duplicator, a work of faan fiction by Walter A. Willis and Bob Shaw, first published in February 1954, is probably the most frequently reprinted work in fandom. No other work of fanwriting has resonated so strongly or endured so long.

A Pilgrim's Progress of the microcosm, it chronicles the progress of Jophan, a neofan, from the country of Mundane to the Tower of Trufandom, where he ultimately obtains the enchanted duplicator (aka the "magic mimeograph"), so that he can achieve his heart's desire: To become a trufan and publish the perfect fanzine. Although the allegory is rooted in the fanzine-centered fandom of its time, it still retains cogent good advice for meeting and overcoming the many pitfalls one can encounter as one moves through the wider fandom of the 21st century.

The story begins:

ONCE UPON A TIME in the village of Prosaic in the Country of Mundane there lived a youth called Jophan. Now this youth was unhappy, because in all the length and breadth of Mundane there was no other person with whom he could talk as he would like, or who shared the strange longings that from time to time perplexed his mind and which none of the pleasures offered by Mundane could wholly satisfy.

After Contact with the Spirit of Fandom, who anoints him with the magic wand of Fanac and gives him a protective Shield of Umor, Jophan starts off on the arduous and danger-filled journey into Fandom. He avoids being tempted into costly and untrustworthy shortcuts, such as the Letterpress Railroad, but gets stuck in the Circle of Lassitude and encounters Disillusion before he scales the Mountains of Inertia and enters the "most beautiful country Jophan had ever seen -- Fandom."

Jophan sees the Tower of Trufandom shimmering in the distance. But there are still many hazards in his path: the Jungle of Inexperience and all its terrors, the seductive Hucksters and the beautiful but deadly Kolektinbug, the welcoming but argumentative and regimented club members, the false fronts of the City of Serious Constructivism, the thirsty Desert of Indifference, the rock-hurling denizens of the Canyon of Criticism, the enticing Glades of Gafia and others. And when, at last, Jophan reaches his destination, he finds that it isn't what he expected at all.

Publication History:[edit]

Date Editor Artist Notes
1954 Walt Willis Bob Shaw First edition; 200 copies; "A Serious Constructive Insurgent Publication"
August 1962 Ted Johnstone, George Fields Eddie Jones Vol II of the collected works of Walter A. Willis; 150 copies; Fornchy Publication #40
1971 Arnie Katz, rich brown C. Ross Chamberlain Vol 2 of the Insurgent Library of Fandom
1972 Serialized in Amazing Stories' The Clubhouse
1979 Eve Harvey Carol Gregory Produced for Seacon '79
1980 In Warhoon 28
1981 Gary Farber 300-copy second printing of the 1971 edition
1983 Dan Steffan Done for Constellation
1988 Greg Hills not illustrated Published in Melbourne
1994 Greg Hills Dan Steffan Online version
May 2015 Dave Langford Ross Chamberlain Ebook edition

See eFanzines for much more, including scans.

A less well-known sequel, Beyond the Enchanted Duplicator ... To the Enchanted Convention by Walt Willis and James White (illustrated by Stu Shiffman), published in 1991 by Geri Sullivan, is online as well, plus there’s an ebook version published by Dave Langford.

From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
The very bible of Serious Constructive Insurgentism. Walt Willis and Bob Shaw wrote this fannish epic of Jophan's journey from the Land of Mundane to Trufandom, where he found the Enchanted Duplicator with which to publish the Perfect Fanzine. Such locations as the Glades of Gafia, Hekto Swamp, Mountains of Inertia, ktp, entered fan legendary from this work.

Publication 1954
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