"Tact consists in knowing how far to go too far."
SOME "MAGGIE"-STYLE THOUGHTS CONCERNING THE ST NEWS FOOLIVERSE
by CiH (aged 31 and a quarter....)
Well farewell then ST NEWS... For the last time?? Really?? Yes!!
You mean not the 91st 'undead' issue sometime in the year 2002 AD
after all... Surely not, the outraged of Surrey will be burning
up their nostril hairs overtime with their cigarette lighters of
despair at this sad news...
If I had more than a couple of spare candlepower for a brain and
a talent for creepery and ego massage, I would say at this point,
in full and elaborate prose how ST NEWS guided and influenced me
into taking an active role on the Atari diskmag scene, starting
with those first few hesitant pages of amateurishly written sheer
crud for "Maggie", and gradually leading me to the cutting edge
of diskzinedom, where we of "Maggie" are today... (Hopefully??)
Even then, I would be wrong and lying to myself in an elaborate
self-deception ploy worthy of a two-part "X-Files" special....
Unlike many of the other peeps writing in a similar vein who may
actually owe a debt of heritage and shared experience to ST NEWS,
and the mighty flying clog, Rich Karsmakers, ST NEWS did *nought*
to influence my decision to take part in the diskzine dimension...
It was all the fault of "Maggie"... Sorry, but there it is...
"Maggie" is where it started with me, and where it has mainly
stayed since... Okay, there may well be an indirect debt of
thanks going via the laziest German in the world, Michael
Schussler (Sammy Joe), who started "Maggie" as a direct reaction
to the first time around demise of ST NEWS... Perhaps he should
write this bit of the article if he can be found amidst the mass
of blonde haired Germans often floating around heavy metal
I had seen the (very) odd diskzine before "Maggie", about one
issue of the Canadian "FaSTer" mag, and the terrible "STampede"
commercial diskmag, but I was so sad and unaware in those days,
that "Maggie" was the first 'proper' diskmag that I had seen...
ST NEWS came along a bit later, but not in any systematic fashion
at first... One 'early' issue I did enjoy reading was the 'Trip
to Britain' special, which was their grand tour of the UK scene
and software industry in the late eighties, and very revealing it
was too... This was a superior example of the diskziner's craft,
and "Maggie" had not a hope in hell of coming close in those
early days, not really... These guys looked like they had been
doing it for years, the magazine was almost professional, and was
able to call on a wealth of personal contacts with some very big
people of the time...
Going from memory, this was issue 4.4?? (it was indeed, ED.) -
Felice has my ST NEWS back issues in his possession at the
moment... If any single issue of a diskmag can represent the
pinnacle of achievement on a small square disk, then this issue
was it, any issues of "Maggie" notwithstanding, probably my
favourite diskmag of all time!
One mystery about ST NEWS that bugged me is how they managed to
come up with a GEM lookalike shell that needed updating for every
new permutation of TOS... I have the collected issues, right from
the first issue, which was a "1st Word" text file, through to the
latest issues, with a lot of ground covered in between... ST NEWS
is the only publication, by virtue of being around so long, that
needs EVERY version of TOS from 1.0 upwards, to be able to view
all the issues... Even my 'as old as you can get' TOS 1.2 STFM
failed on some of the earlier ones!! I do recall getting a very
detailed letter from Rich K. about the time that my old home
address became the correspondence address for "Maggie", issue
three or four?? Rich wrote to congratulate Mike on one of the
early issues, and also submitted pages worth of bug reports and
suggestions on the Maggie shell!! I read this letter out on the
phone to Mike S. who was sort of pleased with the constructive
criticism, I hope... Thanks Rich...
Over time, ST NEWS did become my second line of interest after
"Maggie" of course, and I did like to get hold of issues, around
year six and onward to check up on what the 'opposition' was
doing now... In my second fit of sadness relating to the subject
of ST NEWS, I did not think of writing to Rich K, not for a long
time... When "Maggie" hit the wilderness year, after issue ten of
Delta Force, and later, I did not write... Only in the declining
days of 1993 did I get around to sending out issues eleven and
twelve, the first of the new wave "Maggies" to him... A very nice
letter, and even more positive review in ST NEWS (pleasureable
for being unexpected) of our efforts later established a regular
line of contact that has gone on to this day... Issue swaps and
other collaborations came from there, including joint issues with
Diskbusters, an appearance in our fifth anniversary issue last
August, and this article now that you are reading...
ST NEWS had a definite and dramatic effect on the shape of Atari
diskzines throughout... As well as inventing the idea of 'scene'
coverage and providing the direct inspiration for "Maggie" to get
started, it also had a role in the Serious Diskmag/Demo Coders
Diskmag schism that started with "ST Enthusiasts Newsletter"...
ST NEWS always went for a functional GEM style shell, and such
seriously-minded publications followed suit criticising the
flashy and often superficial efforts of the demo coders
efforts... It has taken a long time and a lot of work to break
this attitude down in order to prove that you can have an
attractive menu shell *and* good reading matter on the same
ST NEWS, in these latter days, is a publication that has settled
into a comfortable routine of doing what it likes best... Still
the best but not at the centre of things Atari anymore... I am no
longer overawed by their high standards as "Maggie" has hopefully
caught up in most respects... (Rich still has an edge as a
superior short story writer, where I prefer the factual 'newsy'
stuff!) But it is not the early days anymore, the worst bit of
the learning curve has been hauled up, blood, sweat, rude words
muttered under our breath and all, and then we still find Rich
sitting at the top with a relaxed grin...
Mind you, you would probably wet yourself with laughter at some
of the typos that got in the last couple of sentences 'Bnut it is
not the erly days anymoe' - I ask you!!
Apart from the 'professional' interest, I think Rich K. is a
really essential person to be able to call a friend... Apart from
being a fantastically cool and together diskmag editor, Rich is
one of the nicest people on the whole Atari scene, and such
people in any walk of life are very, very rare indeed...
I get the feeling that the ending of ST NEWS is one of a series
of very major life changes that are taking place in Rich's
life... We need to stay in contact and keep beating the (PC
related) bullshit down!!
Must get over to see you sometime... (And we did!! One Monday
morning at the Amstel Bus Station to be precise! Which showed
*no-one* in their best light at seven in the morning...)
CiH - March/April/May/June '96... Just how many attempts to get
this written then??