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Vortex, but not *the* Vortex...

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  • Vortex, but not *the* Vortex...

    Having been reminded of its existence when perusing the image gallery, I realised I still had copies of the glossy Vortex in my museum of former lives. I'd bought them avidly to follow the serialisation of what I once mistyped as The End of all Snogs (book review written at 3.00am, as I recall).

    Now seems as good a time as any to ask, in the words of the UK's greatest living philosopher Peter Kaye, 'Whassarall about then, eh?' Who in the name of Arioch was Ravan Christchild (a.k.a. Ivor Madeupname, shurely) when he was at home? And what about all that inept Cornelius pastiche stuff that filled the rest of the magazine? I think the Encyclopedia of SF assumed all the authors except your good self were pseudonyms of the editor/publisher, which seems to fit. Is there a story behind this odd magazine that appeared as if from nowhere, serialised this individual novel and then seemingly disappeared?

  • #2
    What an excellent question! I'm afraid I have no answers!

    I too had forgotten all about the other contents of Vortex, including the Cawthorn interview in no. 1.

    What a very strange magazine it was, to be sure.

    I love the End of All Snogs, BTW. You should write the book (or short story, at least).

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi!

      A quick answer... or as quick as I can make it! 'Vortex' ran for five issues in 1977, the first four of which carried the serialisation of 'T.E.O.A.S.', and all five of which carried Ravan Christchild's "inept Cornelius pastiche stuff".

      R.C. was, in fact -- as far as I can recall -- actually the magazine's editor, Keith Seddon, who probably used the mag, and Mike's name, in an attempt to launch his own writing career.

      Years later, some or all of the Christchild stuff was published in a single paperback volume. I think it was called 'The Agonies Of Time', with an Hieronymus Bosch ("Garden Of Earthly Delights") cover. I had several copies once, when they were remaindered very cheaply, but let them all go, forgetting to keep one for myself. I wish I had, now...

      Best,


      John.

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      • #4
        I'm just glad I kept hold of the original Vortex issues, which I picked up a few years after their initial publication. Other than MM's stuff, it did have some interesting interviews, including Mike, James Cawthorn, Rodney Matthews and in issue 5 (the only one I haven't got) Eddie Jones. I'd imagine whatever circulation there was dropped off quite sharply after the End Of All Songs serial. There was also a story in issue 1 from Robert Holdstock.

        After Vortex folded Keith Seddon appears to have gone all philopsophical/mystical and later founded something called the Stoic Foundation.
        'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

        Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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        • #5
          Cor, well done John and Aral!

          I've followed your lead and found this stuff for sale on ABE (Jocelyn Almond was the illustrator of the Ravan Christchild material in Vortex):

          THE AGONIES OF TIME (ISBN:1871685028)
          Ravan Christchild
          Book Description: Dunscaith Publishing, 1989. Mass Market Paperback. As New. First Edition. SF collection. Unread Review Copy. CONTENTS: The Englishman's Lady; The Machine at Cheviot Close HQ; The Agonies of Time;

          THE FACELESS TAROT
          Seddon, Keith. & Almond, Jocelyn.
          Book Description: London: Dunscaith Press. 1989. Cloth. Very Good/Very Good. First Edition. Illustrated by Jocelyn Almond. Pages 148.

          THE BOOK OF EGYPTIAN RITUAL Simple Rites and Blessings for Everyday
          Almond, Jocelyn & Seddon, Keith
          Book Description: Thorsons, 2002. This book presents eight seasonal rites of Egyptian Paganism. xi+164pp. with b/w illustrations and colour plates.

          TAROT FOR RELATIONSHIPS A Practical Guide to Understanding Love and Sex from Tarot Reading
          Almond,Jocelyn & Keith Seddon
          Book Description: Aquarian, 1990. 175pp.

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          • #6
            After doing some further research it appears that Ravan Christchild wasn't Keith Seddon after all, but a pseudonym for someone else. Although I don't know the author's real name, he apparently later became a vicar...
            'You know, I can't keep up with you. If I hadn't met you in person, I quite honestly would NOT believe you really existed. I just COULDN'T. You do so MUCH... if half of what goes into your zines is to be believed, you've read more at the age of 17 than I have at the age of 32 - LOTS more'

            Archie Mercer to Mike (Burroughsania letters page, 1957)

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            • #7
              I have just noticed my name appearing on the forum.

              I was indeed the editor of Vortex Magazine in 1977, but I was not the author of the Ravan Christchild stories that appeared in the first three issues. I wrote just one piece in Vortex (excepting editorials and book reviews) and that was in issue 5 -- a story my Mark Ambient, the title of which eludes me.

              And yes, I suppose I was trying to launch my own writing career. Is that such a bad thing? Was I using Michael Moorcock to do this? Well, I had visited him several times prior to Vortex even being conceived, and he was VERY GOOD to me indeed. I have nothing but the greatest admiration for a kind and good man who helped me during dark days. I do believe that he genuinely wanted to support the project.

              I have copies of the Dunscaith edition of Ravan Christchild's The Agonies of Time. Email me for prices. And before someone jumps in claiming that Dunscaith was MY company, I can declare that it was NOT!

              Why does everyone think I am responsible for so much?

              Comment


              • #8
                Well, KS, thanks for putting up with the speculation of myself and others and indeed for setting the record straight. I can only assume that others took the Enc. of SF's conjecture as fact, much as I was tempted to, hence the assumption that Vortex was essentially a vanity publication - which it clearly was not.

                I doubt if anyone here would have a problem with whatever tactics might be necessary to launch a writing career (I speak as a professional writer, albeit in specialised non-fiction areas, mostly), although even this is rather belied by the truth about Ravan Christchild! I can just imagine how things might have gone - a publisher attempts to seek out the author of 'The Agonies of Time', reads about Vortex in the reference literature and tracks down Keith Seddon, who is able to reveal with a dramatic flourish that Ravan Christchild is in fact someone else! The end!

                The question, then, remains: who was/is Ravan Christchild? I say we should be told. Possibly.

                I should also add that I was delighted that Vortex allowed me to get several jumps ahead on The End of All Songs and have preserved my copies for years - even after the hardback came out with that superb cover photo of Mike!

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                • #9
                  Hello Zax,

                  able to reveal with a dramatic flourish that Ravan Christchild is in fact someone else! The end!
                  No doubt some people think I am also Robert Holdstock (whose story appeared in Vortex issue 1, I think). And while they are at it, list me as Jocelyn Almond, too... Oh, and Jim Cawthorn -- surely I am him as well... Not forgetting Rodney Matthews the artist...

                  The question, then, remains: who was/is Ravan Christchild? I say we should be told. Possibly.
                  Ravan Christchild is a pseudonym, and is meant to hide the author's identity. I will not bother him with requests to reveal himself, as this puts pressure on him that is not deserved, and would almost certainly be unwelcomed -- especially now that, converting late in life, he is now a vicar with, I would suppose, more of a reputation to protect than he has had in his life before.

                  I could swear an affidavit, if that would convince you that I am not RC.

                  Maybe I can add that MM did read RC before Vortex was conceived, and I told him that the author was not me, and I just assume I was believed. Maybe I wasn't. As I recall, MM quite liked RC, but said that the writing did very much remind him of his own, to the extent that he kept having to put down the pencil he repeatedly picked up to make corrections and amendments. I was quite jealous at the time...

                  But to be honest, after all this time, and finding a very different life outside science fiction and fantasy, it doesn't really bother me what people think. I have told the truth, as I always endeavour to do, and I cannot make people believe what I say. :roll:

                  Best wishes,

                  Keith

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    :lol:

                    This might be one of the best threads ever to grace MWM. Thanks to all contributors.

                    Sterling!
                    The cat spread its wings and flew high into the air, hovering to keep pace with them as they moved cautiously toward the city. Then, as they climbed over the rubble of what had once been a gateway and began to make their way through piles of weed-grown masonry, the cat flew to the squat building with the yellow dome upon its roof. It flew twice around the dome and then came back to settle on Jhary's shoulder. - The King of the Swords

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                    • #11
                      I think it's excellent that these idea of ambiguous identity are spilling over into the real world!

                      Keith, please be assured, in all seriousness, that there's no question that you've cleared up this speculation once and for all and theat everyone here, I'm sure, appreciates and respects this. Besides, who could make this stuff up?! That said, no-one believes you really look like Dave Stewart - or possibly Roy Wood...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for that, Zax. I'm pleased to have cleared up the speculation.

                        That said, no-one believes you really look like Dave Stewart - or possibly Roy Wood...
                        Dave Stewart? Roy Wood? I see what you mean... I've never had that before, but I did get a lot of ZZ Top at one time. I have made it a point never to listen to music by people who look like me. Fewer hobbies can be so easily accomplished. I rather like Howard Shore's music for Lord of the Rings, but I am bit worried about the glasses.

                        Best wishes,

                        Keith

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