The Official Newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction
Association -- ISSN 0894-5411
Edited by Samuel Lubell firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial: After the End of the World
Life, the Universe, and Worldcon
CIA Takes Over Television Season 2001
The House in the High Wood
But I Forgot the Punchline
WSFA funds for August
John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars
Star Trek: Voyager Presents:
Edited by Samuel Lubell email@example.com
What do you say at the end of the world? Science fiction fans are accustomed to scenes of planets blowing up, blasé in the face of nuclear doom, and even numb to biologic catastrophe. But that's just in fiction. When it happens in real life we are as shocked and horrified as anyone else regardless of our fictional preparation.
America has had a charmed life for most of its existence. There hadn't been an real attack on our mainland since the war of 1812 and we've never had to face the sort of international terrorism that Israel, England, and indeed most of the world have learned how to counter and protect against. So the recent attacks striking at the centers and symbols of U.S. economic and political power caught us completely off guard. Even now, a week after the incidents, we do not know how to respond. There's the natural urge to fight back and destroy the people who did this. But terrorism cannot be fought like a normal war. The enemy has no cities that could be bombed and no army to fight. In fact, we're still not entirely sure we know everyone to blame, let alone how to respond. Even if it is Bin Laden, finding him won't be easy and we must remember that the vast majority of people in Afghanistan are innocent, many opposed to their current government.
One thing's for sure, America has lost some of its innocence. We can no longer look at the foreign news and say that this cannot happen here, for the events of the Tuesday the 11th show they can and do. We now have a choice, we will have to sacrifice some freedom for greater security, but we must guard against surrendering too much.
What does this mean for Capclave? Well, a lot of things have cancelled but we're moving forward in the expectation that the immediate urgency will be resolved by the 29th. If we let the terrorists rule our lives than they win and America loses. At the same time, we must remember those who died and respect their memory.
We had planned all around that Capclave would be a recovery session after Worldcon; it can serve a similar function for this disaster as well. Mike is reshaping the program and we'll have some special recognition of the victims. Some people may be reluctant to come to the D.C. area (as if anyone would target an obscure hotel miles away from anything) and many WSFAns work in the federal government, some in the military, and so are still shaken up. That means it is incumbent on the rest of us to pick up the slack and do more than we may have originally planned. Together we can make it work. But it will require your help now even more than before.
If you want to work at the registration table contact Sallyhand@excite.com. All other contact Peggy Rae Sapienza.
A parable by Lee Strong
Miss Poole smiled at the rainbow of young faces in her church school class and opened her lesson book.
"Today, I am reading excerpts from Genesis chapter 11, verses 1 thru 9 about the Tower of Babel. `Now the whole earth had one language and few words. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves." And the Lord said, "Behold, they are one people and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.'"
She put her book down and looked at her class, asking, "Now, who can tell us what this lesson means?"
A hand raised, and Miss Poole pointed, "Yes, Joe. Can you tell us what this lesson means?"
"Senorita Poole, my name is José, not Joe. Please repeat the lesson in Spanish."
Miss Poole's forehead furrowed. "José, I'm sorry that I mispronounced your name. Will repeating the lesson in Spanish really help you understand?
"It's my right according to the Diversity in Education Law." The youngster folded his arms across his chest.
"Very well, Jose." She sighed and began again, "El mundo todo tiene una lingua...."
More hands raised.
"Miss Poole-chan, also to repeat in Japanese, please."
"Don't forget French, Mamselle Pooley."
"Or German, Fraulein Pohl."
"Or Maya, ix dzib Poole. Yucatec Maya."
"No! Not that Yucatec dialect! Quiche Maya!"
"Not that either! Mam Maya!"
The 8/3 First Friday began at the Ginters for the annual swap with Sam Pierce asking, "Should I try another coup?" He banged the gavel. "Shall we have a meeting?" NO! yelled the club. "Money?" Sam asked plaintively. Mike Nelson nudged him, "At what time are you calling to order?" Sam said, "9:20" There was no old business. Bob admitted to having "a little money, $308.34." Looking on the bright side of life, Cathy said, "We're still in three figures." Eric suggested using our tax rebates.
Alexis for the Entertainment Committee was reading the newspaper but bored so drew cartoons. But he made the mistake of sharing them with WSFA Journal editor Sam Lubell who took them, the fiend! Lee said that "Monsters Inc., Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings were the most popular movie choices, so I'll be getting together after Capclave to plan a trip." Eric reminded us, "Considering what happened at the last WSFA film trip..." Lee added, "There is the possible of free passes to Harry Potter." Someone asked, "Will we have to wear our sorting hat?" (The sorting hat divides students into the four houses at Hogwarts School, Gryffindor for bravery, Ravenclaw for cleverness, Hufflepuff for steadiness, and Slytherin for wickedness.)
Eric for Austerity said, "We're poor. Bring food. We might not have enough for insurance next year."
Capclave present (Bob) said, "Things are progressing nicely, hoping we get our act together with requirements. Lee Gilliland has already put her list together." Alexis said Capclave pre-reg stands at 119. Bob said, "Project break-even point is 275 members. What happened with Disclave was that we could double pre-reg at the door but that might not hold true. Capclave and WSFA went on bended knee to ask Bucconeer if we could use their merchant id for credit card use. They said to ask the comptroller. So I asked myself and answered myself yes. We will run a table at Worldcon. Lee has graciously volunteered to coordinate."
Lee said, "I got tired of all the emails. I'll do it from 1-3 each day. We have a sign-up sheet for the other hours." Bob said, "If you aren't booked for Worldcon, please sign up. Others will take free moments and spend it there. We will co-sponsor the Chitzencha bid party. The way the Worldcon is going, it may just be the end of the Worldcon." But Sam Pierce said, "Worldcon is fine, just don't look behind the curtain."
Sam Lubell said that there are posters. If everyone takes a few and puts them up we'll have an endless source of people. Eric asked about the room situation. Bob said that he hadn't heard of any new room reservations being made and people told him about various problems. Bob said, "The hotel gave us a list of people who have reserved and we'll check that against our list." Eric suggested also checking for NYC policemen.
Sam P called on Capclave future. Mike Nelson said, "I'm too depressed." Why? "Life, the Universe and Worldcon." Sam P said, "This is the MilPhil Newsletter chief who just found out he has no budget."
New business: Sam L reminded the club about Poul Anderson's death and plan to send a sympathy card to his wife. Mike Walsh said that Karen Anderson was a WSFA member. Erica said she happened to have a card upstairs." So WSFAns signed the card.
Lee Gilliland said not to turn right on red on her street; they ticketed her. Also a cat died so they got two more. Erica said that, "My house is falling down on me, a closet door fell on Lydia." Mike Walsh said, "So the house is really unhinged." Lydia protested, "That wasn't funny." Erica continued with a story of how her cats got drunk on leftover beer and dented her curtain rod. Undeterred, Mike Walsh commented, "Real party animals."
Ivy told Bujold fans that Curse of Chiliod is out but not in the sf section. <How about a review, Ivy?>
Dan Hoey came back, will do info table for Capclave.
Bill Jensen said that Lee Smith had a stroke while visiting her brother.
Mike Walsh announced the further expansion of his vast publishing empire. For World Fantasy bid in 2003, Elspeth got the penultimate contract with the Hyatt Regency Capital Hill pending on getting the Board's approval.
Meeting adjourned at 9:55 by acclamation. Attendance: VP Sam Pierce, Sec. Samuel Lubell, Treas and 2001 Chair Bob MacIntosh, Trust. Lee Gilliland, Trust Eric Jablow, Trust Nicki Lynch, 2002 Chair Michael Nelson, Bernard Bell, Chuck Divine, Adrienne Ertman, Alexis Gilliland, Erica Ginter, Cathy Green, Sally Hand, Liza Kessler, Will Ludwigsen, Keith Lynch, Richard Lynch, Evan Phillips, George Shaner, Michael Taylor, Rob Thornton, Michael Walsh, Ivy Yap, Madeleine Yeh, Bill Jensen.
Compiled by Samuel Lubell
The new television season has been delayed due to the recent terrorist activity. Since about a quarter of the new shows are about the CIA fighting terrorism, some studios may need to make substantial changes in their shows or have them delayed until midseason.
Here are the upcoming SF shows:
Enterprise(UPN) Wednesday 8 pm. Premieres September 26. The new Star Trek show is set at the very beginning of the Federation. It stars Quantum Leap's Scott Bakula as Captain Archer. Hopefully the fact that it is set when all the technology and even the idea of exploring space is all brand new will overcome the yet another Trek syndrome. It starts with a two-hour episode with Klingons. I'll watch the first few eps to see if it is better than Voyager.
Smallville. (WB) Tuesday at 9. Premieres Oct 16. This show about the early years of Clark Kent before he becomes a superhero promises "No tights, no flights." A bald Lex Luthor, who runs his family's fertilizer plant, is his best friend but Clark can't get close to his love interest, Lana Lang, because she wears a kryptonite necklace. So what's the real advantage over Roswell which also featured alien teens growing up in small town America (dropped by the WB for this show and now being shown at the same time at UPN)? Simple. The WB owns the characters and produces the show, while they didn't own Roswell. Still the buzz on this one is high.
Alias (ABC) Sunday 9. Premieres Oct 7. College grad student by day, but agent for what might be the CIA by night. It has been described as "La Femme Nikita" meets "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" with no bow to reality. Supposedly the first episode will be commercial-free. However, in light of recent events, this may be the wrong time for a action-oriented CIA against terrorists show.
24 (FOX) Tuesday, 9 pm. Premieres Oct 30: Each episode about this CIA agent who uncovers a presidential assassination plot will take place in one hour real time with the whole season comprising one 24 hour day. Hopefully they won't have him sleep for eight whole eps. (Technically not sf, but worth a look if only due to the nifty gimmick.) If only it wasn't up against Roswell and Smallville.
The Tick (Fox) Thursday 8:30 Premieres Nov 1. Comedy spoof of superheroes based on comic book/cartoon. Rumors say that this is actually quite funny, but will the American public be willing to watch people in superhero costumes in an age when even Superman has to dress normally?
Wolf Lake (CBS). Wednesday 10pm. Premieres Sept 19. The show is about a rural town whose residents are werewolves. This one was supposedly retooled several times over the summer and now they're trying for a spooky mystery. I can't see this show lasting long on CBS of all places.
Mutant X (syndicated) Supposedly this isn't based on Marvel's X-men but an original idea developed by Marvel Comics since the X-Men rights are tied up with Fox. Genetic Security Agency hunts mutants created by covert government experiments. Maybe Fox should sue because the premise is so close to Dark Angel, not the X-men?
Tracker (syndicated) Alien cop (played by Adrian Paul of Highlander fame) chases alien prison escapees who take over Earthlings. I seem to remember this same premise as Time Trax (except with the future substituted for outer space). I have my doubts on this one but it does have a 22-episode commitment from its producers.
Secret Adventures of Jules Verne (Syndicated). SCIFI Channel show goes into syndication. Supposedly on channel 68 in DC. Verne's writings are based on his real adventures with secret agent Phileas Fogg.
The Chronicle. (SCIFI) Journalist takes a job at a tabloid paper only to learn that the stories it reports are actually true.
Greg the Bunny (Fox) Midseason replacement sitcom about a puppet bunny character from a children's tv show in a world where puppets are like the toons in Roger Rabbit.
The other CIA type shows are less science fictional. UC: Undercover (NBC Sat 10) is about a Justice Department unit that goes undercover a lot. The Agency (CBS Thursday 10, starting Sept 27) is the serious CIA show that actually filmed at the CIA headquarters (somehow, I doubt that will happen anymore.) Thieves (ABC Friday 9) has the government recruiting thieves to work for the government in a humorous action show.
Grim & Evil (Cartoon Network) Fridays, 8 p.m. (ET) The adventures of two young children and their best pal, the Grim Reaper known as Death.
Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law (Cartoon Network), Sunday and Thursday, Adult Swim, beginning at 10 p.m. Cartoon superhero handles litigation involving other cartoons like Johnny Quest and Scooby Doo. It sounds like satire to me.
Justice League (Cartoon Network) Premieres Nov. 17. Superfriends for the 21st century with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (John Stewart), The Flash (Wally West), Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter by the people who did the Animated Batman.
Disney's The Legend Of Tarzan (UPN) Follows the Disney film version.
The Mummy (Kids' WB!) Follows the recent movies.
Changes in old shows:
X-Files David Duchovny is out, not even making guest shots. Lucy Lawless (Xena) will make frequent appearances.
Charmed (WB) Premieres Sept 27 with a 2 hour episode. Prue (Shannon Doherty) has left the show. She will be replaced by Rose McGowan as a new sister. Repeats on TNT Following Tuesday at 10 pm
Buffy (old time, new station - UPN Tues at 8). Premieres Oct 2. Giles (Anthony Stewart Head) moves to England and a BBC spin-off, so will only be a recurring character. (I have mixed feelings about this, but a show about college juniors doesn't really need an older mentor they way the same people did when high school sophomores.) There will also be an all musical episode. Oh, and somehow they have to deal with the fact that Buffy's dead.
Angel (WB) Premiers Sept 24 in its somewhat new time, Mondays at 9. Fred (Amy Acker) may be a semi-regular (and love interest for Angel)
Dark Angel (Fox) Premieres Sept 21. Now Fridays at 8.
Roswell (UPN) Premieres Oct 9. New channel (UPN) and time Tuesday at 9 to pair with Buffy for a WB on UPN evening.
Special Unit Two (UPN) Wednesday 9. Premieres Oct 3. Last year's midseason replacement continues. Police Unit in Chicago fights monsters while protecting (and serving) the public from the truth.
By Ivy Yap
Hello all! It took me a while to recover from Worldcon (hey, I'm an introvert who had to act extroverted for 5 days!) but it was worth it. The Bujold list party on Friday went swimmingly; the lack of alcoholic beverages did not prevent a new Vorkosiverse drinking game from being invented. Lois dropped by around 11pm, which was a nice surprise as she was busy being wined and dined by her publishers earlier that night. And Butterbug 1 was at the party, so several more people were able to sign it, as well as Lois being able to read what people had written so far.
Saturday afternoon I helped out at the WSFA table. Several people registered for Capclave, which enabled me to fulfill a long-time wish to work the credit-card chuck-chuck machine (the thing that imprints the card number on those carbon forms).
Saturday and Sunday night were the masquerade and the Hugos, respectively. Thankfully there was not a repeat of the cow costumes from Chicon, but we did get a good laugh from the Darth Maul costume puns (Darth Gaul, anyone?) I especially liked the Twilight Zone costumes, with everybody in black and white make-up, which won Best in Show for presentation. They'd been rehearsing for 3 months and it showed!
Afterwards it was off to the parties. SFF.net throws great parties: they had a Weird Al sing-along one night, Red Dwarf complete with vindaloo the next night, and a Douglas Adams tribute night with pan-galactic gargle blasters. The Euro bid for Glasgow '05 was serving shots of single-malt at their party - I knew there was a reason I presupported! I think Japan '07 had the best food, but then I happen to like Japanese candy. And Boston of course went crazy after they won their bid for 2004. The Baen party featured exploding balloons and chocolate. We also got to see various cover art, including the infamous "Miles Murder and Mayhem" cover. And we still couldn't figure out the identity of the generic Vor bore in the picture frame.
I was crazy enough to volunteer to man the Information desk from 9am-11am, Friday thru Sunday. So I was able to witness first-hand the singing invasion on Sunday morning. And I can give you directions to room L4 in my sleep!
The only thing I have to say about the readings is: do NOT attempt to drink anything while at a reading of M2K. One last pass thru the Dealers Room, then it was off to the closing ceremonies.
By Ted White
Fanzines are a basic part of science fiction fandom and a reflection of many fans' interest in the printed word and amateur publishing. All fanzines are published as a hobby and lose money. Their editors appreciate money to defray their expenses and sometimes list single-copy or subscription prices, but they appreciate even more your written response - a Letter of Comment, or LoC. Feedback - better known in fandom as "egoboo" - is what fanzine publishing is all about.
NOVA EXPRESS (Lawrence Person, P.O. Box 27231, Austin, TX 78755-2231, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; available for $5 a copy or $12 for four issues - $15 after September 15, 2001)
Nova Express is yet another type of fanzine: what is now called the "sercon fanzine." "Sercon" stands for "serious and constructive," and the term was originally coined (in the early '50s) as a sarcastic put-down of overly earnest and humorless efforts, but by the late '80s the term had been co-opted by the publishers of serious, science-fiction-oriented fanzines. This kind of fanzine owes its existence to the Richard Geis fanzines of the '70s, variously titled but best known as The Alien Critic. The typical sercon fanzine runs an article or two on science fiction topics, at least one interview with an author, and many book reviews. Unfortunately, none of the editors of these fanzines has the deft touch of Geis, and consequently none of their fanzines are as lively.
Nonetheless, the 21st issue of Nova Express does have a lively feature interview with Tim Powers which takes up over a third of the (44 page) issue, followed by three reviews of two of Powers' books. Powers talks about his friendship with Phil Dick ("Among other things, he was probably the best-read person I've ever met. And probably the only actual genius I'll ever know well. And also the funniest guy I ever met."), about selling his first two books to the absurd Roger Elwood's Laser Books, and about his dealings with Lester del Rey as an editor ("When he would reject a book, he would send you a four-page, single-spaced rejection letter, and many of the points would be totally correct, so you'd think, `All right, thanks!'") as well as discussing his own work at length.
There is one article in this issue, "The Falling Rate of Profit, Red Hordes and Green Slime: What the Fall Revolution Books are About" by Ken MacLeod. In it MacLeod responds to an editorial query to write about his four books, "why you wrote these four books, what you meant to say, and how they fit together."
The rest of the issue is largely taken up with two "Featured Reviews" and twenty-five more book reviews - plus less than a page of letters (one of which is mine). The book reviews are generally intelligent and literate and written to what I consider a professional level. Indeed, the entire production is "professional" in appearance, with clean graphic design, boxed "pull quotes" in the interview and article, and a small cover banner that announces "One-Time Hugo Nominee!"
Small touches, however, deliberately belie the professional appearance: A larger cover headline proclaims "Winner of the Invisible City Good Citizenship Award! Really!;" a cover motto, "We go to Eleven;" calling the letters "Viewer Mail;" and crediting right-hand editorial staffer, book reviewer and interviewer Fiona Kelleghan in the extensive masthead as "Sound Engineer." In the letter column editor Person argues with me, as he did an issue earlier with E. B. Frohvet, that Nova Express is a fanzine and not a semi-prozine. And I guess these little touches are part of why he regards it as a fanzine. But he wants to sell it, and makes no mention of giving away issues for trades or letters of comment - two practices typical of most fanzines, so Nova Express lies in a gray area between the two types of publications. For what it is, it is very well-done and I recommend it to those of you looking for literate, intelligent commentary on current science fiction.
by Jeffrey E. Barlough ( Ace Books, 2001)
A review by Colleen R. Cahill
In his last title, Dark Sleeper, Jeffrey Barlough created a world inspired by Charles Dickens, Jane Austin and other Nineteenth century British writers. The quirky characters set in a universe of proper manners and ancient demons provided a sense of fun. Barlough's latest work, The House in the High Woods, is set in the same universe but with a much darker tone. This story salutes the gothic tradition of the mysterious house, tragic death, and threat of supernatural beings.
Stilton Upcot is a flourishing village that is overlooked by the mansion-house Skylingden. The house has new tenants after standing empty for "a host of years" and the close-knit community wonders about the new neighbors. From Mr. Nim Ives, owner of the local inn, to Dr. William Hall, the village physician, all speculate on where Mr. Bede Wintermarch, his wife and small daughter came from and why they have chosen to settle in this remote town. All but the squire of Dalroyd, who is more concerned with his horse, dog and visiting friend, Oliver Langley. But soon all will be concerned with what is going in in Skylingden and what mysterious secrets it holds.
We quickly learn that Stilton Upcot has as dark past, with a young woman drowning herself in the lake for the unrequited love of the son of a Skylingden's previous resident. To several characters, Mr. Wintermarch bears a striking resemblance to the son, who went insane and was put in an institution years ago. After the new family moves in the mansion strange events begin: all in the town begin to experience evil dreams, many of which focus on the Wintermarch's large pet owl. Becoming curious about these and other events, the squire and his friend begin to investigate. They learn that the mansion is built on the ruins of an old Abbey that was destroyed by the town folk when the monks turned to dark arts. After discovering a well built in the center of a cave, the pair uncover disturbing evidence of strange powers harbored within the dark pit.
Overall, this is a story of revenge. Barlough threads the plot through a complicated weave of betrayal, dark deeds and the supernatural. As in Dark Sleeper, the characters make this book with their unique qualities and wonderful interactions. But those fond of Barlough's first work should be warned that the temperament and tone of The House in the High Wood is very different and none of the same characters appear in both works.
Fans of Edgar Allen Poe or Horace Walpole will find this book enjoyable. Barlough has captured the essence of the gothic novel, with its dark, brooding plots and feeling of impending doom. This book is one to take to bed on a dark and stormy night.
The 8/17 meeting took place at the Gillilands. Judy banged her gavel in the direction of Alexis. "Dam," said Bob, "It must be meeting time." Judy said, "It is 9:17, it's time for a meeting." For old business Sam reported on sending a card to Karen Anderson. Bob reported money level at $283.84. There was a call to buy a pizza.
Alexis, for the Entertainment committee said, "My bathtub wouldn't turn off. Lee had me buy a faucet. I called the plumber on the morning of my 70th birthday. He came. He told me a story about an old plumber who forgot things. But I forgot the punchline."
Bob said that Capclave is six weeks away. Take flyers. Lee said, "At worldcon, I'm doing the Capclave table. Sign up here or come by and sit. I'll be there two hours a day, it would be nice to have people there and look like we care. Joe memorial at consuite. Want pictures etc. Bring them in to the meeting or to Capclave.
Keith said that "Dragoncon is opposite Worldcon, is anyone going? Can we mail flyers?" Someone volunteered.
There was no Capclave future. Fifth Friday will be Worldcon, no meeting. Rebecca suggested adding a message board to our website for rides and room sharing. Walter said, "I'm looking for a room and I'm a woman." Colleen added, "And you're really ugly... oops."
Lee said, "There are two small, furry creatures running around. They're both inside cats. Don't let them out."
Brad Lyau is in Albuquerque, NM on his new job. He won't make it to Worldcon. Kathi is looking for pictures of Poul Anderson. Mike Walsh will have two books at Worldcon, Being Gardner Dozois and West of the Sun. Bill Jensen said that Lee Smith had a stroke a month ago but is making good progress. Meeting unanimously adjourned at 9:25.
Announcements emailed by Lee: "Lee Strong announced that he was diagnosed with Type II diabetes in April. The club Oooh'ed in sympathy. With proper care, taking medication -- yes, Lee is on drugs! --, and exercise, Lee might have 50 or 60 years left. He has beaten bad odds before since he was originally supposed in die in January 1952. On the lighter side, diabetes has been a real incentive to diet and he has taken off 20 pounds! Lee works for an agency that is so security conscious that it barred him from viewing its own public Website!"
"Last year, Lee set a goal of writing at least 75,000 words for publication this year. He has now written 76,000 words of which 12,000 words have been submitted to The WSFA Journal. Sam has 64,000 words to look forward to! Sam began planning the 210 page Journal necessary to publish Lee's as yet unseen opus. Lee also invited feedback on his stories previously published in the Journal."
Lee's comments about the announcements: "When I made the original announcement, I misspoke, stating that I should have died in December 1951. That should have been January 1952. Concerning the 64,000 words.... I really have written that for commercial publication, not for Journal publication."
Attendance: Pres. Judy Kindell, Sec. Samuel Lubell, Treas and 2001 Chair Bob MacIntosh, Trust Lee Gilliland, Trust Nicki Lynch, Sheri Bell, Colleen Cahill, Candice Davis, Adrienne Ertman, Alexis Gilliland, Cathy Green, Scott Hofmann, Liza Kessler, Will Ludwigsen, Keith Lynch, Richard Lynch, Walter Miles, Kathi Overton, Rebecca Prather, Judy and Sam Scheiner, George Shaner, Lee Strong, Mike Taylor, Rob Thornton, James Uba, Michael Walsh, Madeleine Yeh, William Bill Lawhorn, Dennis Caswell, Bill Jensen, R-Laurraine Tutihasi, Mike Weasner, Kelly Davidson, Carolyn Frank, Dan Hoey, H.P. Lovecraft.
WSFA Journal $34.74 Revenue - Dues from Dan Hoey $10.00
Third Friday (at First Friday site) $25.00
Total expense $59.74 Total Revenue: $10
Approximate remaining change $293.84
Reviewed by Lee Strong
Dawn of the Dead meets Aliens in a clichéd flick that's only marginally science fiction!
Sometime in the cyberpunk future of bad lighting and politically correct government, Warrant Officer Ripley... pardon me Lieutenant Ballard and her crew of Mars Police officers and deputies fight an alien lifeform that transforms humans into Mad Max rejects. Their original mission to transport a dangerous prisoner for trial goes sour when they find a mining town taken over by ghouls created by a sentient red mist. The rest of this epic is bad police work, cheap innuendo, and gunplay designed to fill up two hours and John Carpenter's wallet. Well, one out of two isn't bad.
This effort does have some characters, some plot, some personal development, some scenery, some references to Mars not being New Mexico, but that's about all. Everything else is just blood and guts, the now obligatory nuclear solution, and the usual false climaxes. Another reviewer said recently that Mars has a jinx on it for film versions. This lame attempt at transposing the zombie flick to the Red Planet seems to prove it.
I rate John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars an unimpressive "C-" on the high school A-F scale. I'd rate it lower but Carpenter's explicit matriarchy is the best argument for a nonsexist republican culture that I've seen in some time. - LS
Captain Proton: Defender of the Earth
Written by D.W. "Prof" Smith (New York: Pocket Books, 1999)
Ah! To quote Walt Disney, the Future That Never Was... Has Finally Arrived!
Captain Proton is one of the more unusual pieces of science fiction... pardon me, scientifiction to appear in decades. Star Trek: Voyager included an offbeat episode "The Bride of Chaotica" in which Tom Paris and Harry Kim created a thrilling (and respectful) holodeck tribute to the black & white scientifiction films of the Thirties with Paris as the dashing Defender of the Earth, Kim as intrepid sidekick Buster Kincaid, and Captain Janeway as Arachna, Queen of the Spider People! This pastiche proved so popular that "Chaotica" showed up in at least 2 other episodes, and, now, in print. Captain Proton: Defender of the Earth is a mock scientifiction magazine including 3 complete stories, 1 serial episode, a lettercol, and 2 nonfiction features on the Captain's universe.
As a fan of Thirties film and print scientifiction, I was Intrigued By The Concept but Quite Disappointed by "Prof" Smith's Hideously Overblown Writing Style and Blatant Stereotyping that is far worse than any surviving Thirties literature actually was. Is the Professor enthralled by the Mind Spiders of Nebula Nine, or just a bad writer? (Conflict of interest warning: I am working on a tribute to Thirties scientifiction myself.) Another consideration is the Awesome Price: Captain Proton is only 110 pages long, while the price is 14.95 credits... pardon me $14.95 - relatively speaking 6 times the cost of a more typical novel!
The complete novelette "Children of the Glass" is the longest although not the best piece, in which Our Daring Hero and his Dauntless Crew battle a Perilous Threat to Our Galaxy, Queen Fems and her Space Amazons. The serial episode "Death of the Patrol" is mere filler that drags Dr. Chaotica in for a feeble repeat appearance. The short-short "Scream and Scream Again" features the Captain's secretary, Constance Goodheart, who... well, screams and screams again in a Revolting Display Of Crude Stereotyping. For the Love of Space, Professor! Read some Captain Future and learn that - Even In The Thirties! - Real Women Have Lives, Careers, and Personalities! In contrast, "The Forgotten and Lost Race" is an adequate little piece that gives Buster Kincaid a chance to show his stuff. The two features, "The Planets of the Future: Mercury" and "The City of the Future: Seattle" proved quite interesting. The former sketches the innermost planet as it should have been with exotic geological formations and strange but friendly denizens. The latter depicts the alternate world of 2000 AD - full of gadgets powered by our servant the mighty atom. "Letters to Captain Proton" was rather weak, although the lettercol does contribute to the illusion of reading an ongoing magazine.
Against my will, I am forced, FORCED to rate Captain Proton: Defender of the Earth as a "D" on the high school A-F system for A Great Idea but Woefully Weak Writing. - LS.