In retrospect, 1987 looks like not such a bad year for fanzine publishing. Pat Mueller was editing the issues of The Texas SF Inquirer which would win her the Hugo award, while Mike Glyer was publishing a gala tenth anniversary edition of his Hugo-winning newszine, File 770. Walt Willis published a fresh issue of Hyphen with new material and reprints commemorating 40 years of Irish Fandom. Not quite as long awaited, but just as avidly welcomed, was a massive ninth issue of the Nielsen Haydens' Izzard, whose nickname "Wad o' Izzard" was both self-mocking and eerily appropriate.
In addition, there were plenty of other, perhaps underappreciated genzines about, many of them represented in these pages.
One piece from Izzard which doesnt appear here (it was, regrettably, "reprinted" by the previous year's Worldcon) was Terry Carr's "Night of the Living Oldpharts," in which a mob of fannish revenants besieges a couple in a lonely farmhouse and compels them to pub their ish. A similar theme runs through several stories in this volume: that of fans forced to produce their fanac under duress. One can only surmise what was running through the minds of so many old fans and tired that year.
Another trend I began to notice that year was that more and more of the best fanwriting was appearing in personalzines, often as a single essay comprising an entire issue. This may have been a first symptom of a decline in the number of genzines appearing with any regularity. Whatever the reason, it doesnt make the prospective fanthology editors job any easier.
What business does anyone have editing a fanthology, anyway? It's all but impossible to reach consensus on what would constitute a "Best Of" collection for the year; even the editor may not find all the selections he wanted are available. Some argue that a reprint anthology can only fail to reflect what was happening in fanzine fandom at the time; that every fanzine is part of an ongoing interchange of ideas, that it cannot be appreciated outside of its context. (You can learn a lot about a tree from its cross section, but it won't tell you what the tree looked like.) In fact, by this argument, those pieces that best stand alone will be the least representative of their origins.
Such views undermine the notion of a fanthology as a means to interest new blood in fanzine fandom (although it appears these selections would be largely comprehensible to the neophyte-- with the occasional item obscure enough to satisfy the most hardened devotee).
Perhaps the only good excuse for doing a fanthology is the desire to share some pieces of fanwriting that you particularly enjoyed.
Here: look at this.
Speaking of Terry Carr, as I was earlier: Some have suggested that this volume should include one from among the many tributes to Terry that appeared during that unfortunate year. To my way of thinking, the best way to remember Terry is with the piece which follows. It also strikes me as a perfect introduction to a fanthology, so I'll be quiet now.