The WSFA Journal - February 2000

The Official Newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction Association ISSN 0894-5411

Edited by Samuel Lubell

Review: Of Swords and Spells
Signs Your Daughter Has Become a Vampire Slayer
WSFA 2000
Robert Sacks Reviews
Quest for Space
Treasurer's Report
Roughnecks, The Starship Trooper Chronicles
The Ballad of Rodger Young
The Varieties of Philosophical Kissing Experiences

Review: Of Swords and Spells

Review by Colleen R. Cahill

Of Swords and Spells.  By Delia Marshall Turner.  New York: Ballantine Publishing Group, c1999.  LC card number 98-93409, ISBN 0-345-42432-8.


Of Swords and Spells is a book that defies definition as a science fiction or fantasy novel.  On one hand it has space ships, needle guns, and a galactic web; on the other hand it also has magic, witches, and sword play. Turner has made both commonplace in her universe and they interact together in a way that does not jar the mind. Magic is a source of power, not just for spells, but for engines that drive space ships.

At the center of the story and its narrator is Malka, a short, cranky, sword master who is on the run from both the galactic magic police and her mysterious master.  Malka is just as mysterious, as she has magical powers but insists she is not a witch, seems to be 15 years old but has memories of several decades, and attracts the most unusual people. She deals with or tries to avoid a fencing master, a handsome android, various witches, an extremely nasty-sounding master, a possessive cat, and a group of people who want to "release" her, which she implies is not a good idea ... for her.

The book begins with the sword fight between Malka and her trainer Sefir Zul. As one of the two major sword fights in the book, it sets the tone of Malka's relationship with the world.  She trusts no one, likes to hurt people, and wants to be left alone, but it is quickly revealed that she may not just be a paranoid, sadistic loner. The title of each chapter is a fencing term or phrase, reflecting not only the ability of Malka with a saber, but that of the author, who is a national ranked saber champion (see her web page  The titles also nicely reflect the action in the chapter, but do not give anything away. 

The most intriguing thing about this book is the way the author sets you expectations and then turns the story away from them.  Malka is especially hard to pin down, as her character and even her physical size are in flux. Hints are dropped, but just when you think you have enough pieces to put the puzzle together, a new clue will reshape the picture. Not being cruel, Turner does eventually answer the most burning questions and nicely joins this book to Nameless Magery, an earlier work set the same universe.  For those who have read the first book, Of Swords and Spells gives a different but still familiar view of that world and has appearances of some of Nameless Magery's characters.

My personal assessment of the book is it is a fun read with plenty of plot twists and interesting characters. While this work may not change your world view or deepen your spiritual nature, it will keep you entertained.


Signs Your Daughter Has Become a Vampire Slayer

From the Internet with additions by Samuel Lubell


U      Trades her Barbie doll in for a crossbow.

U      Every one of her dates ends the same way. She calls in the middle of the night and you have to drive out and pick her up because she's all alone in a field and covered with dust.

U      Her boyfriend flees in terror when you offer to get him a steak for dinner.

U      Ran for Homecoming Queen and was suspended for beating up the captain of the football team in the same week.

U      Always hanging around with that creepy English librarian but insists that they're not "doing it."

U      Garlic disappears from the kitchen, reappears on her bedroom window.

U      Dresses like Popular but hangs out with the Freaks and Geeks

U      Tree by window gets more use than her door

U      Is always complaining about umpires

U      Hope chest consists of stakes, swords, and crossbows

U      Calls best friend a witch, and is serious

U      Needs to know the plural of apocalypse

U      Takes your front door's Welcome mat

U      Laughs every time you say, "It's not the end of the world."

U      Practically lives in the school library yet never seems to do her homework

U      Thinks that the best tool for "dusting" is a stake, not a cloth with Pledge

U      Is always being watched.


WSFA 2000


The first WSFA meeting of the year 2000 took place 1/17/2000.  "Meeting time, meeting time," said Bob MacIntosh who chaired the meeting despite the presence of President Judy at his side.  "Our President is having a vocal problem with the flu.  1st Friday official time 9:17 by my watch."  Lee offered him a gavel.  "Any old business?"

"Dues are due, and they are at $10," said Sam.  Eric asked if the membership fee included Disclave membership.  "Hit him" instructed Bob.

"We were to investigate insurance for our hosts," said Sam.  "Our packet is this book" said Bob, holding his hands far apart.  "I haven't gone through it yet."

"Some idiot suggested doing a world fantasy con.  Guess who."  There was much speculation as to the name.  "Initials MW."

The treasurer reported $2,669.52.  Disclave 2000 said, "One of my enterprises went belly up so I should have more time."  "You lost your job?" asked a member.  "No, the government can't go out of business," Covert replied.  Joe protested, "It can't go out of business, it never started."

Entertainment committee said that a Big Truck came on Tuesday and took lots of things out of the house.  The Library Committee is on hold due to vacations.  Eric, for the Austerity Committee, said, "We're leading by example, people are bringing food."  Mike Walsh brought information about the World Fantasy Convention to be looked at.

Joe said, "There is a project for Balticon.  We discussed working two hours at registration.  They can use two people at a time.  Next meeting I'll have a sign-up sheet.  If you volunteer for two hours on Friday you can enjoy the rest of the con <without feeling guilty.>  And they're giving us a room for a WSFA party.  Last year John Pomerantz made instant ice cream and everyone had a lot of fun.  Generally the Friday evening programming isn't stellar so this would be a neat way to hang out and meet friends."  Joe will coordinate the party, "We'll need refreshments and ideas.  I'd like to see innovation.  Go for it!"

Any new business?  No!  There will be an exhibition of sf art from the Frank Collection, January 27- March 4, 2000 at the University of Maryland.  There will be a reception Monday Jan 31 and a Roundtable discussion Friday March 3rd.  Fandom has been trademarked.  Windows 99 is a trademark in Russia, for cigarettes.  David Halterman is still alive; his address is 920 E. Park Street, Panama City, FL 32404.  WSFA used to meet at his house.  Joe is back from hospital.  He is allergic to a drug made by turtles. 

The meeting was unanimously adjourned at 9:39 and members went upstairs to help mail stuff out for the sf writing contest. 

Attendance:  Pres Judy Kindell, Sec. Samuel Lubell, Treas Bob MacIntosh, Trust. Lee Gilliland, Trust Steven Smith, Trust. Michael Walsh, 2000 Chair Covert Beach, Eric Jablow, Elspeth Kovar, Keith Lynch, Nicki Lynch, Richard Lynch, Keith Marshall, Joe Mayhew, Barry and Meridel Newton, George Shaner, Michel Taylor, Madeleine Yeh, Mary Bentley, Edmund Schlaessal, Daniel Horne, Chris Holte, and the Millennium Bug.


Robert E Sacks Reviews:


Embassy Row,  A Mycroft Holmes Novel

By Quinn Fawcett, authorized by Dame Jean Conan Doyle

Tor Books, 1998, $6.99 pb, 384 pgs

One of the pleasures of going to SF Conventions is running into Larry Smith, Bookseller, in the Dealers Room. Half the time he has books I might want to buy.  This time he happened to have the mystery referenced above in his new books section, which I purchased on impulse. (I will confess, I am addicted to books and I frequently buy books on impulse.) I forget if Larry added his recommendation.

This is apparently part of a series.  Other books by the same author and publisher are "Against the Brotherhood" and "The Flying Scotsman".

For those who have forgotten, Mycroft Holmes is the elder brother of Sherlock Holmes, and far surpasses him in intellectual ability.   Her Majesty's Government depends on him, in this case for the negotiation of a naval alliance with Japan, and then for the rectification of events following the murder of one of the other negotiators.  Notice I did not state that he was to catch the murderer, or see Justice done.  Like his younger brother, he doesn't see the necessity of enforcing law when more important things, such as the fate of nations, are at stake.

The story is told from the point of view of his secretary, with diary entries of his butler.  Alas, they lack the literary abilities of John Watson, MD, who makes an appearance in the story. Or perhaps Mycroft is simply more mysterious than Sherlock, or doesn't deign to explain himself.  In any case, it is a solid procedural story, and impossible to put down.


--Robert E Sacks

Review of Phantom of the Opera


For a New Yorker, I don't go to the theatre much.  I read plays, watch movies, listen to soundtracks, and watch plays on television. When I was in college, I had a subscription to the college repertory. When I was young, a friend of my father's got us in to see him in Once Upon a Mattress, and a customer in my parents' store got us in to see her in Pirates of Penzance, twice, but one year I had an experience which pretty much turned me off of Broadway theatre.  My parents took me to see two off-off-far off-Broadway plays, and I gave up on Broadway theatre.  After all, once you have seen Man of La Mancha and The Royal Hunt of The Sun there is not likely to be anything worth seeing in the same lifetime.  I did go with my high school class to see 1776, and I did enjoy it, but I gave up on theatre.  After all, they don't seem to write good plays that often. (The same can be said of movies - have you noticed how many of the better recent movies were written by William Shakespeare and Jane Austen?)

Now I will confess that Man of La Mancha, along with the book Watership Down, has had a lasting impact on my personal  philosophy and beliefs.  That "The Impossible Dream" is my personal theme song should come as a surprise to no one who knows me. In any case, I hadn't been going to the theatre, and in only one case, "Sunset Boulevard", did I ever regret that practice.

Still, a member of the New York (now Nieuw Amsterdam) Worldcon Bid was pressing for a theatre party, and I do listen to WQXR, the local classical radio station, so when last year I heard an ad for discounted tickets to Les Miserables I organized a group and we went.  I had seen the PBS tribute and heard the music, and read the play.  I had even read the book many years before.  I was expecting an uplifting experience.  Instead, it was dark and depressing.  It was great theatre, great music, a worthy musical interpretation of great literature, and yet I was depressed.

Then, a few weeks ago I heard another ad, this time for The Phantom of The Opera.  This time, there were only a couple of us who went. You may not know it, but Gaston Leroux' novel Le Fantome de L'Opera is generally considered to be trite, melodramatic drivel.  Of the three operas within the opera, the only one with any dramatic value is the one written by the Phantom, "Don Juan Triumphant."  "Il Muto" is just bad.  And the opening scene from "Hannibal" was so (deliberately) bad, I couldn't stop laughing.  And the scenes in the managers' office are also laughably bad.  Perhaps the best scene without the Phantom is the ballet scene from "Il Muto", and the Phantom is killing someone in the background.  The only good singing involves the Phantom/villain, the heroine, and the hero.  I suppose you really can't ask for much more, except a happy ending, which was supplied.  In spite of the rotten ingredients, this was an uplifting experience.  People without experience in good opera and good theatre might not even realize how rotten the ingredients were.  In an age where you can see Shakespeare, Gilbert & Sullivan, Amadeus, The Marriage of Figaro and The Barber of Seville on television, it is surprising how many people lack any experience in good opera and good theatre. 

--Robert E Sacks

Quest for Space


WSFA Meeting  January 31, 2000

At Ginter's, Judy Kindell presiding.  The meeting was called to order at 9:19.  In the absence of the Secretary, Judy asked Joe Mayhew to be scribe.

     There was no outstanding old business, except for Erica's request for information about what WSFA's insurance covered for its regular meetings.

     Bob MacIntosh reported the treasury balance to be $2,723.82, and that, as of the new year, dues were payable.

     The Trustees noted that we ought to be thinking about candidates for the election of WSFA Officers at the first meeting in May.



     AUSTERITY; Eric Jablow noted that people were contributing refreshments.

     DISCLAVE: Covert Beach said he might organize tours of possible Hotels during the next week.

     BALTICON PROJECT.  Joe Mayhew circulated a sign-up sheet for those willing to help out at Balticon registration on Friday between 3 pm and 8 pm  - with three slots per hour (7 1 hour slots were filled, leaving six to go)

     WEB SITE: Several people had ideas about developing a WSFA web site.  The existing one needs up-dating and attention.

     PUBLICATIONS: Joe Mayhew announced that Secretary Sam Lubell had turned the mailing list over to Joe. Future maintenance, changes of address, or corrections should be given to him.  If you want a copy of the list: 1) give him a diskette he can put it on, 2) E-mail him at, or wait until a paper version comes out.


     Lee Gilliland said the Arlington Library person still hadn't got back to her.

     Joe Mayhew said that he had gotten past the first gorgon in his quest for space in the Prince George's Co. (MD) system.

     Mike Nelson reported that Chicon 2000's PR 5 was at the printer.  He had Hugo ballots for any who wanted them.

     The meeting was adjourned at: 9:45

     The following attended:  Treas. Bob MacIntosh, Trusts. Lee Gilliland & Michael J. Walsh, MM Chair Covert Beach. Colleen Cahill, Alexis & Lee Gilliland, Karl & Erica Ginter, Greg Herring, Chris Holte, Daniel Horne, Michael Lummis, Keith Lynch, Richard & Nicki Lynch, Keith Marshall, Joe Mayhew, Walter Miles, Mike Nelson, Meridel Newton, Evan Phillips, Kathleen Pleet, George Shaner, Jon Singer, Marian Skatski, Mike Taylor, & Madeleine Yeh.


Treasurer's Report

By Bob MacIntosh

Here's what WSFA did in January:


Revenue In:            $240 from dues


MacIntosh, Bob

Shaner, George

Lynch, Dick

Lynch, Nikki

Beach, Covert

Kindell, Judy "El Presidente"

Newton, Barry

Newton, Judy

Newton, Meridel

Walsh, Mike

Lubell, Sam

Lynch, Keith

Marshall, Keith

Mayhew, Joe

Gilliland, Alexis

Gilliland, Lee

Yen. Madeline

Jablow, Eric

Holte, Chris

Horn, Dan

Ginter, Erica

Philips, Evan

Nelson, Mike

Cahill, Colleen


In Addition, we got a refund from Montgomery County for too much tax paid. Amount $79.19.



First Friday            $38.56

WSFA Journal       $32.55

Third Friday            $25.00

Wed Site                $35.00

Disclave Refunds  $60.00


Total Expended:    $191.11

Total Revenue:      $319.19


Surplus for January :    $128.08


I found out today that I won't be at WSFA Friday. I'll be Laredo Tx. So, allow me to submit our current balance: $2,658.82.



The Starship Trooper Chronicles.


A review by Charles Gilliland


ROUGHNECKS is an early morning cartoon that is completely CGI, and airs on Channel 20, at 7:30am.

Produced by Paul Verhoeven, ROUGHNECKS is a serialized re-working of his movie, whose story is doled out over the course of several episodes, with three to four episodes forming a chapter in the chronicles.

The episodes themselves are shoot-em-up action-adventure, with a touch of characterization and soap opera mixed in, though the characters come across more as high-school kids on a field trip, complete with all the stereotypes, than as MI.   The love-triangle between our hero Rico, Dizzy, and Carmen has survived the transition, as has the general Mobile Infantry look and the Bug's overall appearance.  However, the armor (referred to in the show as "power armor") is now part of a space/environment suit combination that includes: shock sticks, an inflatable floatation collar, fully enclosed helmet to allow for operations in hostile environments, and a jump-pack that allows the troopers to move "on the bounce."  The infantry squads are reinforced by "Marauders," which are armed variants on the ALIENS power-lifter with which Ripley fought off the Alien Queen.  And we also get to see them do a Capsule Drop, though this is reserved for only "special" occasions.  The hardware designs are impressive: the dropships look much better here, than in the movie; and the skimmers (Surface Effect APC's) are also impressive.  The bugs now look like bugs, as they utilize the slashers from the movie as the base, and combine them with mosquitoes, or water boatmen, or other real bugs so that they actually look like proper insects.  The landscapes are impressive, as are the various vistas our heroes get to see, and they also can portray the weather.  As for the actual people, there is a strong feeling of the Super-Marionettes from THUNDERBIRDS, or CAPTAIN SCARLET, in their movements and expressions.  And the "Skinnies" are finally introduced as our methane-breathing allies against the Bug Menace.

The individual stories are, unfortunately, rather uninspired, and coupled with the bland characterizations, the show is merely watchable.  The nod towards Heinlein occurs in the opening credits with voice over quotes from FDR "This date will live in infamy," and JFK "Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country," which is all that is left of Heinlein's philosophizing.  The soldiers are already in combat, so the boot-camp training that they had gone through, and society in general on earth, are revealed through an episode of flashbacks, with some scenes (such as the "jump-ball" game) lifted directly from the movie.  On the plus side, the writers are paying attention to continuity, and do build on events that had occurred in prior episodes in the chapter.  So, as the show progresses, you can see a larger story unfold over the course of the episodes.  They have managed to avoid the "Planet of the Week" syndrome, by spending an entire chapter showing the MI trying to drive the bugs off of a planet (which in show time occurs over a few months).  This formula is, in turn, broken up by the odd skirmish on an asteroid or satellite.  With the overall shoot-em-ups broken up by the odd mystery where Razak's [sic] Roughnecks have to figure out what the bugs are doing now, or trying to identify the new type of bug that they've encountered.   However, with the lack of an overall picture of the campaign, the cardboard characters presented with their sophomoric dialog and actions, and the lack of tension during the actual fighting, ROUGHNECKS falls short of telling a gripping, two-fisted, combat tale during the course of the episode.  However, with the overall arc in place, it does try to tell a passable war story leavened with romance.

All in all, ROUGHNECKS is an impressive looking show, where the overall series is better than its individual episodes.


Note: Charles also sent the Journal the following lyrics to "Ballad of Rodger Young" that Heinlein referenced in STARSHIP TROOPERS.



by Frank Loesser




"On July 31st, 1943, a bloody round in the battle for the Solomon Islands was being fought in the tangled jungles of New Georgia.  This is the story of one of the young men who fought and died there.  This song is respectfully dedicated to those heroic infantrymen, who, like Rodger Young, have sacrificed their lives that their nation might remain forever free...."


No, they've no time for glory in the Infantry.

 No, they've got no use for praises loudly sung,

But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry

Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young.


            Shines the name - Rodger Young!

            Fought and died for the men he marched among.

            To the everlasting glory of the Infantry

            Lives the story of Private Rodger Young.


Caught in ambush lay a company of riflemen -

Just grenades against machine guns in the gloom -

Caught in ambush till this one of twenty riflemen

Volunteered, volunteered to meet his doom.


            Volunteered, Rodger Young!

            Fought and died for the men he marched among.

            In the everlasting annals of the Infantry

            Glows the last deed of Private Rodger Young.


It was he who drew the fire of the enemy

That a company of men might live to fight;

And before the deadly fire of the enemy

Stood the man, stood the man we hail tonight.


On the island of New Georgia in the Solomons,

Stands a simple wooden cross alone to tell

That beneath the silent coral of the Solomons,

Sleeps a man, sleeps a man remembered well.


            Sleeps a man, Rodger Young,

            Fought and died for the men he marched among.

            In the everlasting spirit of the Infantry

            Breathes the spirit of Private Rodger Young.


No, they've no time for glory in the Infantry,

No, they've got no use for praises loudly sung,

But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry

Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young.


            Shines the name - Rodger Young!

            Fought and died for the men he marched among.

            To the everlasting glory of the Infantry

            Lives the story of Private Rodger Young.




The Varieties Of Philosophic Kissing Experience

Submitted by Elspeth from the Unofficial St. John's College Alumni Web Page


Dear Doctor Rude,


I think I understand what a "platonic kiss" is, but could you explain to me the difference between the following kisses?


   1.Aristotelian kiss

   2.Hegelian kiss

   3.Wittgensteinian kiss

   4.Godelian kiss


     Signed, Flummoxed in Florida


Dear Flummoxed,


That's a very good question; nowadays most sex education courses focus on secondary and tertiary sources, so much so that few people really get exposed to the classics in this field any more. I'll try to make a brief but clear summary of some of these important types of kisses:


Aristotelian kiss -- a kiss performed using techniques gained solely from theoretical speculation untainted by any experiential data by one who feels that the latter is irrelevant anyway.

Hegelian kiss -- a dialiptical technique in which the kiss incorporates its own antithikiss, forming a synthekiss.

Wittgensteinian kiss -- the important thing about this type of kiss is that it refers only to the symbol (our internal mental representation we associate with the experience of the kiss--which must necessarily also be differentiated from the act itself for obvious reasons and which need not be by any means the same or even similar for the different people experiencing the act) rather than the act itself and, as such, one must be careful not to make unwarranted generalizations about the act itself or the experience thereof based merely on our manipulation of the symbology therefore.

Godelian kiss -- a kiss that takes an extraordinarily long time, yet leaves you unable to decide whether you've been kissed or not.


Now, this is by no means an exhaustive list--here are just a few other classic kisses:


Socratic kiss -- actually really a Platonic kiss, but it's claimed to be the Socratic technique so it'll sound more authoritative; however, compared to most strictly Platonic kisses, Socratic kisses wander around a lot more and cover more ground.

Kantian kiss -- a kiss that, eschewing inferior "phenomenal" contact, is performed entirely on the superior "noumenal" plane; though you don't actually feel it at all, you are, nonetheless, free to declare it the best kiss you've ever given or received.

Kafkaesque kiss -- a kiss that starts out feeling like it's about to transform you but ends up just bugging you.

Sartrean kiss -- a kiss that you worry yourself to death about even though it really doesn't matter anyway.

Russell-Whiteheadian kiss -- a formal kiss in which each lip and tongue movement is rigorously and completely defined, even though it ends up seeming incomplete somehow.

Hertzsprung-Russellian kiss -- Oh, Be A Fine Girl/Guy, Kiss Me.

Pythagorean kiss -- a kiss given by someone who has developed some new and wonderful techniques but refuses to use them on anyone for fear that others would find out about them and start using them.

Cartesian kiss -- A particularly well-planned and coordinated movement: "I think, therefore, I aim." In general, a kiss does not count as Cartesian unless it is applied with enough force to remove all doubt that one has been kissed. (cf. Polar kiss, a more well-rounded movement involving greater nose-to-nose contact, but colder overall.)

Heisenbergian kiss -- a hard-to-define kiss--the more it moves you, the less sure you are of where the kiss was; the more energy it has, the more trouble you have figuring out how long it lasted. Extreme versions of this type of kiss are known as "virtual kisses" because the level of uncertainty is so high that you're not quite sure if you were kissed or not. Virtual kisses have the advantage, however, that you need not have anyone else in the room with you to enjoy them.

Nietzscheian kiss -- "she/he who does not kiss you, makes your lust stronger."

Epimenidian kiss -- a kiss given by someone who does not kiss.

Grouchoic kiss -- a kiss given by someone who will only kiss those who would not kiss him or her.

Harpoic kiss -- shut up and kiss me.

Zenoian kiss -- your lips approach, closer and closer, but never actually touch.

Procrustean kiss -- well, suffice it to say that it is a technique that, once you've experienced it, you'll never forget it, especially when applied to areas of the anatomy other than the lips.


The Unnatural Enquirer, (C) 1992 by Trygve Lode ( May be reproduced and distributed freely in unmodified form on a noncommercial basis provided this notice remains intact.