This story has never been made public. It concerns a proposal that had
the potential to radically change the tenor of the hobby in the mid-1980's and to catapult DW to heights never
After publication of
DW #39 in Spring 1985, Editor Rod Walker was exhausted. He turned over
the zine to Larry Peery, the energetic publisher of
Xenogogic. DW was in a perilous
condition. It had very little in the way of financial resources (but plenty of
outstanding sub commitments.) The staff was in somewhat of a fractious state.
General Editor Kathy Byrne (now Kathy Caruso) was on very poor terms with two
staff members, Fred Davis and myself. DW itself was in some amount of
controversy due to the blackout of anything associated with Bruce Linsey in #39. (Bruce and Kathy were the major antagonists
in the feuding of the period.)
Even worse was the
hobby climate Larry had to operate in. Starting in the summer of 1984 over
charges of misconduct by Bruce Linsey in his personal
and hobby activities, Diplomacy hobbyists had rapidly polarized over a variety
of issues. It is difficult to describe what the hobby was like in those days.
Tremendous amounts of energy were poured, not into game negotiations or hobby
projects, but instead into rebuttals and fresh charges of foul play. Feud letter
columns pushed aside less inflammatory fare, new zines appeared devoted to feud
topics, feud-related mass mailings were sent out, activities were boycotted,
mail was refused, etc. There were many people caught in the middle, and many who
quit the hobby in disgust
There seemed no way
out The sides could not agree to terms for ceasefire, mediation, or arbitration.
Even unrelated discussions of ideas in the hobby were colored by the Feud.
Little was immune, including DW.
In the summer of 1985,
Larry determined that DW's financial situation was hopeless, and made one
of the gutsiest calls ever: he cancelled all DW subs, and asked people to
start all over again. As you can imagine, that stirred up all sorts of
controversy. It was not clear whether DW would make it at all.
In September 1985, I
wrote Larry an extraordinary proposal, one that I felt could deal effectively
with both the Great Feud and DW's current problems.
The proposal? In brief, Kathy and her team would
putout the even-numbered issues of the zine while Bruce and his team would do
the odd-numbered ones. Larry would handle the money, provide continuity, etc.
The tremendous energies devoted to the feud would be largely diverted into the
task of topping the last issue put out by the other team. The hobby would thus
gain twice – from the loss of feud energy and the gain of DW energy.
Bruce and Kathy were
both prolific writers, and each had impressive writers in their comers. Kathy
had Bob Olsen, Steve Langley, Ed Wrobel and Robert
Sacks, among others. Bruce could count on Fred Davis, Steve Hutton, Ron Brown
(the Canadian one) and I, to name a few. Moreover, there were some writers who
would write for both sides to establish their neutrality. Since each team would
have six months between issues, there would be no need for rush jobs. The talent
and motivation were clearly there, and competition would drive each side to
excellence. Larry would be freed to concentrate on his own writing and
I discussed this idea
with Bruce. He was intrigued by the plan, but pessimistic that Kathy would go
for it I am not sure whether the proposal was actually discussed with Kathy. Ken
Peel (part of the DW management team at the time) felt Kathy would not go
for it since her resentment towards Bruce was stronger than her commitment to
DW. I'll never know whether that was a correct assessment. Rod Walker was
opposed to the plan because he did not trust Bruce. Larry was also opposed,
perhaps because he did not want to mediate the conflicts that would arise. There
may also have been the feeling that Kathy could do the General Editor job
herself, though at the time she was raising three kids, publishing very large
issues of Kathy's Korner every month, etc.
I pressed the proposal
during October 1985, but basically got nowhere.
outcome? The Feud intensified
in late 1985 and early 1986. A mere seven months after my proposal, DW#42 carried the
news of Kathy's resignation as General Editor. Larry's hopes for Kathy's
continuing role in rebuilding DW were dashed. Although I have had many
ups and downs over my fourteen-year association with DW, the rejection of
this idea was my biggest disappointment There's no easy way to determine whether
this would have worked, but I do think the hobby was and is the worse for the
road not taken.