The Official Newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction
Association -- ISSN 0894-5411
Edited by Samuel Lubell email@example.com
Forthcoming Books April 2002
Capclave Past is Past; Capclave Present Isn't
Review: The Years of Rice and Salt
Annual Attendance Report
Time Tracks" Three Reviews of A Time Machine
Feline Rogues Gallery Updated
Newsflash: Mike Nelson Reveals Capclave Secrets
Edited by Samuel Lubell firstname.lastname@example.org
By Samuel Lubell
The following books should be on the shelves the first of April.
Crossdressers of Darkover by Marion Zimmer Bradley and Eric Flint. (Baen Books $7.95) Eric Flint has rewritten Bradley's Thieves' World stories about a female mage who has to hide that she's a woman to take place on Bradley's popular world of Darkover. "It took so little editing that it was like the author always intended these to be Darkover stories," said Flint. "Besides, I only used 200,000 words of Thieves' World material. And they're long out of print anyway."
The Tzar Factor by Ken MacLeod (Tor $25.95). The first book of his new Spring Revolution sequence (really the third book, but Tor, repeating the stunt that led to this British author's original success, has decided to print the real first book last) is about Conservatives and Communists in outer space. The second book will be set in an alternate universe with the same characters having the opposite political views. The third book will be a sequel to one of the two previous versions, but the readers will have to guess which.
In Blue's Clues by Gene Wolfe (Tor $12.95). Tie-in to the popular children's show about a blue dog will really stretch children's vocabulary as an ordinary dog, seeking to meet the top-rated show's star, discovers that he himself, might really be Blue.
Leftovers: Stories I Couldn't Fit Into Other Anthologies by David Hartwell (Ace $23.95) The ubiquitous but honest editor, having found that he had bought too many stories for his Best SF, Best Fantasy, Ascent of Wonder, and other anthologies, has released this new anthology. For completists only.
StarShone by Mike Resnick (Ace $8.95). Resnick's series of tall tales in space continues with this story of a space cowboy who saves a young mother's planet and shows her young son what it truly means to be a man. The last line, "`Come back, Shone!' said the boy, a tear in his eye. But he never did." will make you cry too.
Worldwar: Darkness in the Balance by Harry Turtledove (Del Rey $25.95) Pulling an Asimov, Harry Turtledove tries combining his different series into a unified whole. In this volume, the lizard-like "The Race" invade Earth during a WWII that is being fought by the Confederacy and the U.S., on opposite sides, using both guns and magic.
A Sorceress of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin (Harcourt, $27.95). In this feminist rewriting of A Wizard of Earthsea it turns out that the Wizard's House is just a front and that the real magic of Earthsea is in the hands of its women.
The Canaveral Alternative by Stephen Baxter (Harper, $25.95). In this alternate history novel class conscious upper crust Brits are the ones who make it into space, only to find that they really need the ordinary Joes they had long disdained in order to keep their artificial habitat livable. This novel features social satire interrupted for long lectures about life support and the tensile strength of different spaced habitats.
The Yellow Whale by China Mieville (Del Rey, $20.05) Revealing the reason for her pseudonym, the author retells the story of Melville's Moby Dick as a `land whale' traveling in an ancient China, chased by a one-legged Mandarin.
The Years of Corn and Butter by Kim Stanley Robinson (Bantam Books $29.95) Alternate history in which the natives of the new world go out and conquer the old. This one features reincarnations of people we know in Native American guise.
The March first First Friday opened with Lee Gilliland being wounded by our treasurer. "It's 9:16, please come." "Coup?" asked Mike Walsh. "It's 9:17, let's call the meeting to order." Sam explained about past minutes and making a .50 contribution for saying Disclave instead of Capclave. Lee Gilliland said that the other Lee didn't like it because it violates free speech. Judy said, "It's okay since it is voluntary." Someone said, "No taxing authority," to which someone else said, "But it is taxing."
The treasury was $937.02. Judy said, "Save some for the insurance." The Entertainment Committee said the Gillilands were taking care of deferred maintenance of their house, "Wait until next month when we get a new carpet." John Pomeranz promised, "I'll bring hot chocolate to the next meeting." Lee replied, "We're not stupid. We're getting a dark green carpet."
Bob said that "Capclave past is past. Steve, how much is in the account?" Steve said, "I'm not good at addition. $346.58 plus check for 840 equals $1,100." Bob said, "This includes $500 WSFA gave Capclave so $600 worth of profit." Sally asked, "How much is insurance?" Bob said "$630." How convenient.
Capclave present wasn't. Elspeth said, "I have a contract. It needs a signature. Michael and I need to go over it. I've been riding the sales rep hard to get changes in. It will be the Hilton Silver Spring. Talking about October 18-20. I'm fairly certain this is not a Jewish holiday or convention. None of this is for the newsgroups. The hotel will run about $89 for king and 119 for suites. Hotel is on Colesville Road and is freshly renovated. It is in walking distance to the metro. There are two nice restaurants and a McDonalds in walking space. If we pick up 80% of 100 rooms, the charges for the most expensive space will be waived, the rest costs $1,800." Bob said that "this is a place we can grow into. Six dozen of people at Boskone said this was a nicer hotel." Elspeth said she had a 100 degree fever during Boskone. Someone took a picture." John said, "So you looked hot?" Elspeth continued. "Hospitality suite will be in the function space in the quorum room." The club applauded Elspeth's work. Elspeth cautioned that none of this should be published or go on rasff until signed.
Capclave future (Sam) said, "Capclave future is looking forward to looking at the hotel and see if it meets future's needs. Positions are open. This is your chance to get in at the ground floor." Far Future said, "I'm really happy we got the hotel."
World Fantasy said they got another guest who won't be there. Jack Williamson will be honored almost 75 years from having his first story published. Born 1908 in the Arizona territories his family moved in a covered wagon. Now he's good with email. A publisher releasing all his short fiction and publishing a volume including a story from Last Dangerous Visions and even Harlan doesn't mind. Membership information will be out soon. Go buy some Enron stock." Adrienne said, "I need some wallpaper." Keith said, "World Fantasy web site still says it is a bid site. It doesn't even say we won."
Activities committee received no tickets so no raffle for the Time Machine. Let her know if people are interested and she'll organize a theater party. Keith said he'll host Fifth Friday. His place is road accessible. Sam said that Third Friday is Lunacon but enough people said they'd be there.
Still no word on WETA volunteers. Locust is published every 17 years. Charlotte in 2004 made a big profit. Ivy announced a book faire. John said that a local mystery book store is going out of business. Keith reminded the club about the mailing list. He is looking for a new job. He'll do anything that doesn't involve Microsoft or COBOL. New people included Janet Daily, Nancy Johnson, Jim Toff. Meeting unanimously adjourned at 9:49. Attendance: Pres Judy Kindell, Sec. and 2003 Chair Samuel Lubell, Treas. Bob MacIntosh. Trust & 2004 Chair Lee Gilliland. Trust Eric Jablow, Trust Nick Lynch, Bernard and Sheri Bell, Colleen Cahill, Adrienne Ertman, Alexis Gilliland, Cathy Green, Sally Hand, Scott Hofmann, Jim Kling, Keith Lynch, Richard Lynch, Walter Miles, Lance Oszko, Kathi Overton, Rebecca Prather, Judy and Sam Scheiner, Steven Smith, Michael Taylor, Rob Thornton, Mike Walsh, Ivy Yap, Janet Dailey, Jim Toth, Kit Mason, John Pomeranz, Cat Meier, Maude Barssoie.
The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson New York : Bantam Books, 2002
Reviewed by Colleen R. Cahill
Alternate history is a popular genre, musing on what would happen if some historic event or person was changed. An example is Ward Moore's Bring the Jubilee, in which the North loses the Civil War. In Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt the main thrust is what if 99% of the European population was wiped out by the Black Death in the 14th Century. An interesting premise, rich with possibilities as all influence of European culture, science, politics and economics would be removed from World history. No Michelangelo, Napoleon, or Darwin; also no Columbus to discover the New World. Instead, the major influences on the World would be Islamic and Chinese culture. Robinson's premise is intriguing and his style engaging.
The novel is divided into ten sections, each representing the lives of several reincarnated souls who meet again and again through time. There are often for several hundred years between sections with the last section bringing us to the present day. While at first the major world powers are Dar-Islam and Buddhist China, other groups arise, including a confederation of New World Indian tribes and a league of governments based in India. In the first section of The Years of Rice and Salt a depopulated Europe is shown and we see how little this loss effects the rest of the World. As the Muslims repopulate Europe, the Chinese accidentally discover the New World during another attempt to conquer Japan. And eventually the Chinese do conquer Japan, causing the Japanese diaspora. This leads to a spread of ideas and cultures from that exiled people. Topics such as scientific discovery and ethics, the growth of nationalism, women's rights and religion swirl through the text.
All the main characters are fictional and you will not find a George Washington or Gandhi taking the stage. This seems appropriate as the historical influences that created such individuals are missing in this timeline. The details Robinson includes in the work add to its feeling of realism, such as Persian being the Lingua Franca. Not that there are no parallels between this book and the history we know. The section on the Long War has echoes of World War I and World War II, with grim trench warfare and a peace that includes war reparations. Interesting, in Robinson's World, despite gentle or forgiven reparations a great economic depression follows the War.
The Years of Rice and Salt is more than an alternate history, it is an alternate viewpoint on the purpose of humanity. It is also a sophisticated and thought-provoking book well worth reading.
The Library of Congress Professional Association's What IF... Discussion Forum for Science Fiction and Fantasy present "Solar Power Satellite: Fantasy or Reality?" by Dr. Yoji Kondo, author of Legacy of Prometheus writing as Eric Kotani, with John Maddox Roberts. Tuesday, April 16th, 2002 12:10pm Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor Library of Congress, Madison Building
Coming Soon: R.A. Salvatore Title tba Friday, May 30th, 12:10pm Pickford Theater Third Floor, Madison Building Library of Congress
By Ted White
SF COMMENTARY #77 (Bruce Gillespie, 59 Keele St., Collingwood VIC 3066, Australia; also available as .PDF files from his e-mail address: email@example.com or from the e-fanzines site at http://efanzines.com/SFC/index.html; available for "the usual" - "letters or substantial emails of comment, artistic contributions, articles, reviews, traded publications or review copies [of books]" - or subscription: "$US30 for 5, or equivalent, airmail; please send folding money, not cheques")
SF Commentary sits at the high end of the "sercon," or serious discussion of SF, group of fanzines, a position it has occupied for many years now. In this SFC is following a proud Australian tradition first established by John Bangsund in the mid-'60s with his Australian SF Review. Both fanzines engaged SF's literati from throughout the world, and both have offered important venues to some of the major voices in SF criticism, who in turn have written seminal pieces on some of the most important authors to emerge in the field in the second half of the 20th century, starting with Phil Dick and Ursula LeGuin.
What's most impressive about the way Gillespie (now) and Bangsund (then) have accomplished this is that neither gave in to the academic stuffed-shirt navel-gazing which has grown up over the past forty years around SF and all but smothered SF criticism. SFC maintains a civilized and literate tone throughout, but draws more upon the British tradition of letters and the ties of fannish community to accomplish its purposes. It is not by accident that Gillespie has long called his editorial in SFC "I Must Be Talking To My Friends."
Only a couple of years ago SFC celebrated its 30th anniversary with issue #76. That was a monster issue which had been more than half a decade in the making, but #77 is no slouch either, running 84 pages of small (but readably set) type, with color covers on glossy stock.
The issue opens (on page 3) with "Four Reasons for Reading Thomas M. Disch" by the late John Sladek. It is reprinted from a relatively obscure Australian book of essays about SF authors, The Stellar Gauge, which was published in 1980. The piece is typical Sladek and deserves the position of honor here.
Gillespie's editorial occupies the next 8 pages and covers a variety of topics. "Criticanto" offers 10 pages of thoughtful book reviews by Marc Ortlieb, Roslyn K. Gross, Ian Mond, Steve Jeffery and the editor. A 16-page letter column catches up with responses to SFC #s 73, 74, 75 and 76 - the oldest letters going back to 1993.
The remaining nearly-half of the issue is taken up with "Scanning in the Nineties: Part 1," all but the introductory first two pages by Colin Steele, who wrote these reviews between 1993 and 1999. Subsequent issues will offer similar "columns" by Gillespie, Alan Stewart, Paul Ewins, Doug Barbour "and a few more." Steele's reviews are grouped by category: Reference & Non-Fiction, Australian SF, Australian Fantasy, Australian Horror, British SF, British Alternative Reality Fiction, British Fantasy, British Horror, American SF, and American Horror. The issue closes with a five-page index (in four columns of small type) - a feature which is truly useful in a fanzine of this sort.
If fanzines which talk about science fiction are your meat, SFC belongs at the top of your list.
By Keith Lynch
It's been a year since I did a WSFA attendance grid, plus once again it's almost time for an election. All else being equal, it's better to elect people who are likely to show up. So here is an attendance grid of people present at WSFA meetings in 2000-2002 to date.
V or M for Virginia or Maryland meeting. B for the meeting at Balticon, C for the meeting at Chicon, and P for the meeting at Philcon. These are based on attendance information in the WSFA Journal, which is based on the sign-in sheet, so if you're not being listed for meetings you've been to, make sure you're signing in. Also, there were a few meetings at which attendance wasn't taken. For those meetings I use what little information I have (e.g. people who were mentioned as having been present, or who I happened to note were present if I was there).
Only people who have been to three or more meeting during this time are listed. People known by different names at different times are listed under their current name.
A * before the person's name means they're on the WSFA email list.
Maryland attendance cross-plot, for meetings in 2000, 2001, and 2002 to date: Each *
represents one person. The horizontal
axis is how many Maryland meetings that person attended, and the vertical axis
is how many Virginia meetings they attended.
A 2 (or other numeral) represents 2 (or more) stars in the same
position. A + represents more than 9
stars in the same position. There's
a V where someone who attended all 25 Virginia meetings and no Maryland
meetings would be plotted. There were
no such people. There's an M where someone who attended all 25 Maryland
meetings and no Virginia meetings would be plotted. There were no such people. There's an A where someone who
attended all Virginia and Maryland meetings would be plotted. There was one such person. There's an 0 where someone who attended no
meetings would be plotted. There were
about six billion such people.
2000 |2001 |2002
J F M A M J J A S O N D |J F M A M J J A S O N D |J F M
Matthew Appleton * * * * * * |* * |
Thierry Barston | ** *** *| **
Covert Beach *** *** * * **** **|*** *** * |
Bernard Bell ***** * ***** ** * |* * *** ** *** * * * *|* *
Sheri Bell * * ** * * **| ** ***** *** ***** ***| ** **
Colleen Cahill * **** **** *** *** **| * **** * * **** |* **
Chris Callahan * ** | * |
Art Coleman * | * |*
Christopher Damrosch | * |* *
Candice Davis | ** * |
Chuck Divine * * * | * | *
* Adrienne Ertman * * | * ****** * ****** ****|******
* Carolyn Frank | * * *| *
* Alexis Gilliland ****** ****************|************* *** *****|*****
* Lee Gilliland ***** * * **** ** ***** |************* **** *****| ***
* Erica Ginter *** * * ** * ** * *| ** * * * ** * * * *| * *
Karl Ginter * * * * * | * * * * *| * *
Marc Gordon | * |* *
* Cathy Green | * ** ** ***** * ** **|* ****
Lee Hagee ***** * | * |
* Sally Hand | * **** *** ****| ****
* Scott Hofmann * * | * * * *** ****|******
Daniel Horne ** * * * | |
Eric Jablow * ***** *** ** * ** * **|*************** *** ****|*****
Bill Jensen * * | ** * * |
* Ron Kean ** * ** | ** * *** ** * *| * * *
Liza Kessler *| *** * * *** * |*
Judy Kindell * * ** ** ** * **** ****|* *** **** ** *** ***|* **
Jim Kling | * * *| ** *
* Elspeth Kovar * ** ************** *|*** ****** ** *** *|* *
* Bill Lawhorn | ** |* ****
* Samuel Lubell * *** ***** **********|*** ** *** ** **** *****|** **
Will Ludwigsen | ** * * **** **** |
Bradford Lyau *** |* * * ** ** |
* Keith Lynch ********************* **|************************|******
* Nicki Lynch ******* * ****** *** **|*** ****** ************|******
* Richard Lynch ******* * ****** *** **|*** ****** ************|******
Bob MacIntosh ** **** ************** *|* ******* * ****** **** |*** **
* Candy Madigan * * ** | * *| *
John Madigan * * * * | * * |
Keith Marshall ******* **** **** **| ** *** * * * * * * | *
Joe Mayhew ****** | |
* Cat Meier | * | ****
* Walter Miles * **** *** * * * * |* * * ** ** * * ** **|* ***
Michael Nelson ** *** * ****** * *|* * * ** * *** * * * |* *
* Barry Newton * * * * ** ***** *| * * * * * * * ** *|** *
* Judy Newton * ** **** *| * * * * * * * | * *
* Meridel Newton ** * * **** *| *| *
Lance Oszko * ** * ** * | * ** ** * * |* *
Kathi Overton * * ** * * |* ** * * * * |* * *
Evan Phillips * * ** * * * *| * * * * * * * *| *
* Sam Pierce * * * *** *** ******|* ****** * ** * **** * | * *
* John Pomeranz * * ** ** * * |* ** * |* * *
Rebecca Prather * * * * * * * |* * * * * * ** * * * |* * *
Dick Roepke * ** | ** * |
Tom Schaad * | * |* *
Judy Scheiner * * * | * * * ** * * |* *
Sam Scheiner * * * |* * * * ** * * * |* * *
George Shaner ** *** **** * * **| * ****** ****** ** **|****
* Steven Smith * * ** *** ** **| ** * * * ** * *****| * ***
Victoria Smith * | * * * * * * |* *
* William Squire * * * * | * * * *|**
* Lee Strong *** * * * |* * * * * ** |* *
Michael Taylor ** * * ** * ******* * |* ******** * ** * * ** |*****
Ronald Taylor * * | * |
Rob Thornton | **** * **** *| *
* Elizabeth Twitchell | * |***
* Michael Walsh ** ** ** ** *** **|*** ** **** ** * * * |*** *
Andrew Williams | ** * *** ***** | * * *
* Ivy Yap | ***** * ** ********|******
Madeleine Yeh *** ** * *** * | * ** *** * **** *****| ** *
Beth Zipser * ** | |*
Mike Zipser * ** | |*
Virginia vs. Maryland attendance cross-plot, for meetings in 2000, 2001, and 2002 to date:
Each * represents one person. The horizontal axis is how many Maryland meetings that person attended, and the vertical axis is how many Virginia meetings they attended. A 2 (or other numeral) represents 2 (or more) stars in the same position. A + represents more than 9 stars in the same position.
There's a V where someone who attended all 25 Virginia meetings and no Maryland meetings would be plotted. There were no such people. There's an M where someone who attended all 25 Maryland meetings and no Virginia meetings would be plotted. There were no such people. There's an A where someone who attended all Virginia and Maryland meetings would be plotted. There was one such person. There's an 0 where someone who attended no meetings would be plotted. There were about six billion such people.
Since we now have over six years of WSFA Journals online (at
http://www.wsfa.org/), here is a five year grid. One column per month, rather than per meeting. A + means the person attended one meeting
that month. A * means the person
attended two. Only people who have been
to three or more meeting during these five years are listed.
V 2 A
* * 2 *
* * * *
* * *
* * *
* * * * *
* * *
6 * 2 * * *
5 * * * * * *
+ + 2 2 *
0 + 7 * * * M
Since we now have over six years of WSFA Journals online (at http://www.wsfa.org/), here is a five year grid. One column per month, rather than per meeting. A + means the person attended one meeting that month. A * means the person attended two. Only people who have been to three or more meeting during these five years are listed.
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 '02
Matthew Appleton + ++ ++ ++++ ++
Eric Baker + + +
Thierry Barston *+*+++
Covert Beach *+ *+*+*+*+++*++**+ +*+*+*++*+** +*+*+*+ +++*+**+*+ +
Bernard Bell ++ +++ *+++****+ * ++*+ +** *+ **++ **+++**++ +++*+* *++++++ +
Sheri Bell +* +++ + +* ++ *+++**+*+**+*++*
Mary Bentley + + + + + + + +
Angela Blackwell +++*
Gerald Blackwell +*+*
Dan Burgess ++ * ++ + +
Colleen Cahill + + + ++++ + *++++*+**+* *+*+ **+ + +*++ *
Chris Callahan + + ++++ + * +
Art Coleman + + +
Christopher Damrosch +++
Candice Davis ++ +
Steven desJardins + + + + +
Wayne Dionne + + +
Chuck Divine ++ + +++ * + * +++ ++ + ++ + + +
Gail Dood + +++ + +++++ +
Darrin Dowty *+*+**++ +
Geoffrey Drumheller +*++* + + +
Adrienne Ertman ++ +***++**+*****
Carolyn Frank + + + +
A. Gilliland **+***+**++**++***+++*+***+**+**++**+**+**************+*++****+
C. Gilliland + + + ++ ++ + + + + + +
L. Gilliland ** ++*+**+ *++++*+++++**+*++**+*++****+++**++**+******+**+** *+
Erica Ginter +* +++++++++++*+*++ ++++++*+++++ *+++*+ ++++*+ ++++ ++++++++ ++
Karl Ginter + + ++ ++ ++ ++ + + + + ++ + + +++ ++
Marc Gordon + ++
Cathy Green +*+++**+++*+**
Kindra Gresham + + +
David Grimm ++ + + + + + +
Lee Hagee **++ +
Joe Hall *+ + ++ + ++ +
Sally Hand ++*+*+**+*+
David Hines ++*++++ ++*
Dan Hoey +* + +++ **++ + + + +
Scott Hofmann +++ ++ + + ++ + + ++* *****
Chris Holte ++ ++ *+++ + + *
Daniel Horne + + + +*+ ++
Doug Houts * + + +
Eric Jablow *+ *+++* *+***++*+*+++*+***+*++*****+**+*+*++++********+*+****+
Bill Jensen ++ ++ + + + + *++
Ron Kean + + ++ * + ++ + ++ *++* *+++++
Liza Kessler + +*+ ++* + +
Judy Kindell ++ *++ *++++++++++*++***+*+*+++**+*+++*++*++*+**++*+*+*+* +*+++
Jim Kling + +++++
Elspeth Kovar ++ *+**++ ++ *++*** ++ ***+ ++ ++ +*+ * *******+*+*** * +* ++ +
Bill Lawhorn ++ +**
Brian Lewis + + + +
Winnie Lim +++* +++ ++
Luciana Lopez + +* +
Samuel Lubell *+ ++**+*++***+**+*+******++*******++*+ **+******+*+*++**+***++
Will Ludwigsen *++ ** **
Michael Lummis + ++
Perrianne Lurie +*+++ +* +++ ++ +
Bradford Lyau *+ +++ *++
Keith Lynch *+++++++++++***+++++++++***+++*+**********+****************
Nicki Lynch *+ * *+**+ ** *+** ++++++**+ +*+ *+****++*** *+**+*** *********
Richard Lynch *+ * *+**++** *+** ++++++**+ +*+ *+****++*** *+**+*** *********
Bob MacIntosh **+********++***+**+****+**+***+**+**+*+*******++***++***+*+*+*
Candy Madigan ++ + ++ +++ ++ + + + + ++ ++ + ++
John Madigan + + +++ + + ++ + + ++
Keith Marshall * *+++ ++*+*++++ ++ * + *+ *+++***+** +*+*+++*+++ +++ +
Kit Mason * ++ ++ + + + +
Winton Matthews + + + + + + + + + *
Bill Mayhew + ++ +
Joe Mayhew **+***********+**** ++*******+**+******
Cat Meier + +*+
Walter Miles +* *+ +++ + + ++++ *++++*++*+++ + +++ * *++++*+*+
Abner Mintz + + + + + + ++
Sara Miskevich + + + + + + +
George Nelson +* *++ *+* + +** + +++ +
Michael Nelson **+*+* ***+**+****++++*+ *+*+ *++*+*++*++*** +++++* +*++ ++++
Barry Newton ++ ++ ++++++ ++ ++ + + + + *+++++ +++**+ ++++++ + ++++*+
Judy Newton + ++ + + + + + + + *++ + ++** ++++ + + + + ++
Meridel Newton + ++ +++++ ++ ++ + + + + *++* + ++*+ + ++
Lance Oszko ** *+* +****+ +* * +++*+ + ++ ++ + +++++++ +*++ + ++ +
Kathi Overton + + ++ +++ *+++ + * **+ + + + +* + +++++ + +++++
Shirl Phelps + + + + + + +
Evan Phillips +++ * +*++ ++ ++**++++ *+++ + +++ ++ + + ++ +++++ +
Sam Pierce *++*+*+* ++++++++* + *+++ + *++ *+++ ++ +*+*+***+***++++**+ ++
Kathleen Plat + ++
John Pomeranz **+*******+******+*++ * +*+ +***++ ++++* + +++++ +++
Rebecca Prather ++ + + ++++ ++++++ ++ ++ +++ + + ++ +++ ++++++++ ++++++++
Richard Pugh + +*+* *+
Dick Roepke ++ +*+ + ++++++ + + + * * +
Juan Sanmiguel ++*+*+*++
John Sapienza + + + + + + +
Peggy Rae Sapienza + **+ ++ + + + +
Tom Schaad ++ + + + +++
Judy Scheiner + + + ++ + ++ +++ +
Sam Scheiner + ++ +++ + ++++++++
George Shaner +* + *+***** ****+ ++****+*+*++**+*** *+**+ + * +***+**+++***
Steven Smith *+ * + * *+++**+** * ++ +*+* +* + *+ + *+* ++*+++++ * ++**++*
T.R. Smith + + +
Victoria Smith + + + + + + + + + ++++ + + ++
William Squire + + ++++ +++ + + + + * + ++ + + ++ + +*
Lee Strong ++ * + + ** ++ ++ ++++* ++ *++ +++ ++ ++++ ++
Michael Taylor ** ++*++*****++*** +++*++*+++++******++ *+ ***+++****+ *++++**+
Ronald Taylor + ++ + + + + + +
Rob Thornton +*++ ** + +
Ginny Tracy + + +
Jim Tracy + + +
Elizabeth Twitchell +*+
James Uba + + + + + + ++ + +
Meredith Wagner + ++ + + + +
Michael Walsh *+ *+* ++*++* +** ++++ +* * + ** * * ++*+**+* +*+*+++ *++
Michael Watkins ++ ++ +++ ++ + + +
Andrew Williams *++* +** +++
Martin M. Wooster + + + +
Ivy Yap +**+++*******
Madeleine Yeh ++ + *++ ++* + + +*+ +* * ++ * +*+++ ++*+ +*+* +**+** *+
Beth Zipser + + ++ + + + ++ +
Mike Zipser + + ++ + + + ++ +
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 '02
Top ten in attendance for the past six years (during which there have been 146 meetings):
125 Bob MacIntosh
123 Alexis Gilliland
113 Samuel Lubell
110 Eric Jablow
107 Lee Gilliland
104 George Shaner
102 Nicki Lynch
102 Richard Lynch
96 Michael Taylor
94 Michael Nelson
The average attendance of the 64 Virginia meetings in the past six years for which we have full attendance data was 28.2. The median was about the same. The range was 19 (most recently April 2000) to 42 (June 1996). The average attendance of the 67 Maryland meetings in the past six years for which we have full attendance data was 27.8. The median was about the same. The range was 15 (November 1996) to 39 (September 2001, the first meeting after you know what, and the last meeting before the first Capclave).
It's surprising to me how close the average attendance numbers are, given that plenty of people usually only show up for the meetings in one state or the other. The average attendance of the eleven Virginia meetings in the past year at which attendance was taken was 31.8. The range was 21 (October 2001) to 40 (January 2002). The average attendance of the twelve Maryland meetings in the past year was 30.4. The range was 21 (June 2001) to 39 (September 2001). In other words, there has been a slight increase in average attendance at both locations.
In those six years, 269 people have been to at least one meeting. 117 of those 269 have only been to one. 152 have been to two or more, 122 to three or more, and 109 to four or more. Of those who have been to at least three, the median attendance was 14.
I am open to suggestions for interesting analyses or charts I can do on these data. I also have (or can easily get) weather information for all meeting dates. Perhaps I should check to see if there are any fen who are less likely (or more likely) to show up during bad weather. I hope to do this again next year. And to add yet another grid: One that goes back ten years. And someday I hope to generate one which goes all the way back to the very first WSFA meetings, in the 1940s.
And speaking of attendance. The attendance for the February First Friday was left out of the printed version of the Journal. Attendance: VP Sam Pierce, Treas Bob MacIntosh, Trust and 2004 Chair Lee Gilliland, Trust. Eric Jablow, Trust. Nicki Lynch, 2002 Chair Michael Nelson, Alexis Gilliland, Cathy Green, Sheri Bell, Vicki Smith, George Shaner, Keith Lynch, Tom Schaad, Chuck Divine, Rebecca Prather, Christopher Damrosch, Richard Lynch, Bill Lawhorn, Sam Scheiner, Sally Hand, Jim Kling, Walter Miles, Scott Hofmann, Kathi Overton, Michael Taylor, John Pomeranz, Michael Walsh, Adrienne Ertman, Mike Bartman, Lee Strong, Ivy Yap, Elizabeth Twitchell, Cat Meier, Madeleine Yeh, Marc Gordon, Thierry Barston.
I've always had a tendency to enjoy time travel stories. I'm not sure why.
I've always had a tendency to dislike fantasy, since it's difficult for me to suspend disbelief in the elements of traditional fantasy. I enjoy Tolkien not because his works feature elves, wizards, and magic, but despite that fact. He was a good enough writer that he overcame that major handicap. He made his world plausible despite those implausible elements.
I dislike the recent Time Machine movie despite it involving time travel. It's a bad enough movie that it doesn't work for even though it starts out ahead.
Soon after his first trip back through time, the time traveler incorrectly concludes that it's impossible to change the past. Even though he had just done exactly that! It's true that the altered past also contained the death of his fiance, but the mode of death was different. Small consolation, except that it proves that it IS possible to change the past. But instead of following up on that, either with careful controlled experiments or by simply trying again, perhaps bringing her back to the present in his time machine, he instead heads into the future in search of an answer to his questions about time travel.
He should have realized that if people in the future know more about time travel than he does, that they would certainly have time machines of their own. In which case, why hadn't they made themselves as evident throughout all history as Europeans made themselves evident all over the globe after they had mastered the sailing ship?
As in the 1960 George Pal movie of the same name, but unlike in H.G. Wells' original novel, the time traveler stops in our near future on his way to the year 802,701. In the George Pal movie, he encounters WWIII (after brief stops at WWI and WWII) in the 1960s, a full-scale nuclear war. Apparently such a war has since become unfashionable, as it has been replaced by The Hubris of Man Tampering With Nature.
I might have been more sympathetic had it been a nanotech gray goo disaster, or even a conventional plague. But the idea of one or several 20 megaton explosions either breaking up the moon or radically altering its orbit shows an appalling lack of sense of scale. A million explosions a thousand times that size wouldn't suffice. (Consider how many millions of megatons the explosions that resulted in the larger lunar craters must have been.)
If the moon did break up, it wouldn't do so in the manner of a cracked dinner plate. And if it came much closer to earth, it would result in tides which would wash away New York city. There were no signs of such tides in the movie. (I have read that the movie was originally intended to have scenes of meteors wrecking the World Trade Center and other major NYC landmarks.)
As in the George Pal movie, the dress shop across the street seemed to spend as much time dressing and undressing the mannequin as displaying dresses on it. (Is there a requirement that time travelers set up shop next door to such a dress shop?) Also, each skyscraper stood for only about as long as it took to build it before it was replaced by an even larger one. And all the while, airplanes flew past the accelerated cityscape at what looked like normal airplane speed.
I'd like to see time lapse photography done right. I wish I had had the foresight when I moved into this apartment 23 years ago to set up a movie or video camera pointing out the window to shoot one frame per day. I would have five whole minutes of footage by now. Even better would be if somebody had taken one overhead photo of Manhattan each month from 1600 to the present.
People still speak perfect English in the year 802,701, without even an accent. That's a thousand times longer than our language has existed. Supposedly the Eloi know the language from seeing words carved in stone left over from our time. That's a hundred times longer than the time since the earliest known stone inscriptions. But one seldom sees stone inscriptions even half that old kicking around, even though there was no lunar breakup to scour, scatter, or bury them. And even if we did, nobody would know either the meaning or the pronunciation of any of them without extensive scholarship.
Why not just have the time traveler stay there a while and either learn their language or teach them English?
Most unbelievable of all, the "Vox" holographic computer the time traveler encountered in the 2030s is still active in the 803rd millennium, even though it consists largely of sheets of glass. Now, my home may be Microsoft free, and I do have two UPSs, nevertheless I don't think any of my computers is likely to stay up for 8000 centuries. Especially not if the moon breaks up causing the fall of civilization. Nor if there's an intervening ice age or two. If nothing else, what would they use for power?
Given Vox's amazing durability, it's not surprising that it survives a massive underground explosion and collapse, and is then easily relocated to a more convenient location.
The Eloi retreat to their cliff dwellings every night so that the nocturnal Morlocks can't get to them. But one of the Morlocks has no problem climbing into the dwelling to steal a pocket watch. He knows about the pocket watch because he reads minds. Nevertheless, he falls for a simple trick when returning the watch. And continues to fight even after he turns into a skeleton.
Nor do the nocturnal Morlocks have any trouble engaging in a massive daylight raid. Fortunately, their poison darts have no effect if they're simply pulled out. Too bad the Eloi never thought of that ingenious countermeasure before.
I'm also having a hard time believing that an Eloi chatted with the hologram, since it looks like neither the Eloi nor the hologram have the slightest bit of curiosity.
I can't think of another movie which so badly failed to meet the burden of suspension of disbelief. Even the infamous Plan Nine was more plausible. --
Normally I don't like remakes, but this time is an exception. The second time around for the movie version of H.G. Wells' classic adds enough new material and plot twists to the 1960 original to be worth the while.
In the original novel and movie, the Time Traveler is a pure scientist, exploring time for its own sake. Here, he has a more personal motive: saving the life of his fiancé murdered by a New York City thug. Altering time proves harder than he first thinks, and so he voyages into the distant future in search of the knowledge needed to save his love. Arriving in the 801st Century, he discovers the idyllic Eloi and their hidden masters the Morlocks who prove to be much more complex and challenging than those depicted in both previous efforts.
This film is basically a good solid updating of the originals with lots of value added. The enhanced special effects are fairly obvious, but are not as important as the tighter plot and intelligent incorporation of real scientific advances since the last time this story was done. Examples of the latter include a brief exploration of alternate timetracks and the introduction of an AI character that confuses the Time Traveler in 2030. On the other hand, the Moonfall disaster, while visually spectacular, was based on really bad science strongly reminiscent of Space: 1999 and I would have preferred to do without it and the seemingly obligatory cute little kid. Still, overall, a pretty good job this time around.
I rate The Time Machine (2002) as ««« on the Five Star Scale, equivalent to a "C" on the high school A-F scale.
I respectfully agree with Keith in part and disagree in part. As stated above, I ultimately judged the movie worth watching.
The Moonfall disaster was just bad science intended to justify the evolution of Eloi and Morlocks. Keith's comments are well taken. I would prefer to justify the genetic divergence by reference to 21st Century genetic engineering. H.G. Wells thought that "ordinary" evolution would accomplish the changes.
The Time Traveler's failure to realize that he had changed the past was a definite weak point intended to justify his moving far into the future. Exploring alternate timetracks was a very good idea, but, as Keith said, our boy blundered in deciding on the basis of one attempt that he could not alter the past significantly. Once alternate time tracks are introduced, we really have a separate concept from Wells' original and I would like to see a separate movie explore this concept more fully.
I respectfully disagree with a number of Keith's other comments for various reasons. Future time travelers might not make themselves obvious for a number of reasons, including not wanting to disrupt their own past. The Eloi did not speak English except for one specialist and the
Uber-Morlock learned English telepathically from the Time Traveler. Having them do so was a "cheat" for the audience to simplify the story. Otherwise we have to stop the story while the Traveler learns Eloi. Anyone notice that Luke Skywalker, Commander Adama, Princess Antillia and the Klingon High Council et alia speak good English even if some of their written languages are non-English? The computer personality was resident on a substantial "photonic" device that was shown as having survived the disasters. The sheets of glass were merely focuses. Both Vox and the Eloi were shown as having at least some curiosity, and the Vox-Eloi friendship was shown as having formed under unusual circumstances. Regarding the activity cycle of the Morlocks, in this version, they're not nocturnal. Simple. Regarding the ability of the Morlocks to burglarize the Eloi village, the Eloi defensive techniques are ineffective against Morlock spies. Again, simple.
"Cheat" is a real moviemaking term for devices that do violate strict logic but that are used to help the audience understand and enjoy the story better than strict logic would allow. They're much more common than most people realize.
And, yes, there is a law that time travel laboratories must be established adjacent to dress shops. I will explain why in a future chat.
H.G. Wells' The Time Machine is one of those SF classics that some of us are just waiting around for an excuse to read. When Ivy Yap and I went to a Saturday matinee of the George Pal movie adaptation in early March, I had the excuse I needed. We went to Barnes and Noble that evening and I bought a copy, took it home, and read it cover to cover -- interrupted briefly by an eight hour nap.
That I ran out and bought the book should not be taken as a full-hearted endorsement of the movie. It was better than I expected, but that's not saying much. It had its share of action and nice special effects, and more than its share of eye rollers, but in the end I thought it was a pretty good story competently told. And it made me eager to see just how close it was to H.G.'s vision.
As it turned out, it wasn't close at all. Wells' tale is a dark and foreboding look 800,000 years into humanity's future -- at two species descended from one, carrying out humanity's innocence and ruthlessness on a new stage. The Time Traveler -- the only name he is given in the story -- jumps forward in order to test his new device. He lands into what he believes to be a paradise and only gradually learns otherwise. He barely escapes to return, bedraggled, to a 19th century dinner party where he regales his friends with the tale.
It's a simple story, but indisputably visionary. Science fiction as a form barely existed then, but in this story Wells epitomized it -- his far-future world was exotic and fascinating, but most importantly, it was more or less internally consistent. And like the best of the genre, it explored a human question: In this case, Wells questioned what the world would be like if the pursuit of human comfort through technological advancement were seen to its fruition.
The film took an entirely different tack. Purists will complain bitterly, I know, but I will defend it. A pure adaptation of the book would not do for a Hollywood movie -- blockbusters need at least an infusion of hope, and the book didn't offer much. Neither did the Time Traveler have the most interesting of motivations. Testing equipment and taking a trial run is realistic enough, but it isn't dramatically compelling.
The movie's Alexander has a better push. His betrothed-to-be dies in his arms in a park on a cold winter night, the victim of a robbery gone awry. Afterwards, he shuts himself in his laboratory, working feverishly for four years, until he finally perfects the machine that will alter his misfortune. He travels back a few minutes earlier to the park and intercepts his girl, insisting that she go home, seemingly preventing the fateful encounter. But when he turns his back on her, a carriage careens out of control and kills her in the street. Alexander understands immediately that he is bucking up against a cosmic force, that each such attempt will end in another grisly scene. So he ponders the misfortune and wonders why it is that he cannot change the past. Where can he find the answer? "Not here, not... now."
And so he sets the machine for the future, making a pit stop in the year 2030 and then going on through the obligatory civilization-shattering catastrophe (which is at least original, by Hollywood's standards), and through an ice age. After the glaciers recede, he settles in 800,000 years from now, where he immediately falls in with an exotic beauty living in a society of innocents that is somewhat similar to the one portrayed by Wells. In a feat of oral tradition nothing short of miraculous, the children have been ritualistically taught English at a young age -- and so, conveniently, Alexander falls into easy, accent-free speech with the woman and her young brother.
It was about this time that I began to surreptitiously search out my watch, calculating how much time was left in the show and plotting activities for the remainder of the day. But I decided to stay my irritation and suspend my disbelief, because I had to admit that the story had potential. Alexander was an interesting character, and wanted to know why he could not change the past.
On that level, the rest of the movie was entertaining. The two races were not radically different from those of the book, though they were embellished a bit for dramatic purposes. Jeremy Irons turned in a simultaneously amusing and creepy depiction of a leader of the morlocks. In the end, it is Irons' character who reveals the answer to Alexander's riddle -- and I found it satisfying.
Near the end of the movie, Alexander zips even farther into the future, witnessing a barren scene that inspires him to return to 800,000 years from now and try to change its future. In the book, the Time Traveller goes forward for a brief glimpse of a dying Earth orbiting a sun nearly spent, and he satisfies himself with a return to 19th century London and a bit of warm food, before setting out on more adventures. This last, by the way, is pure hard science fiction. The description of the Earth's orbit, its landscape, and the life that clings to a tenuous existence reads like Hal Clement at his best.
The movie was better than it might have been, not as good as it could have been. It was a reasonably well-crafted story, light on the science fiction -- but even there it had its moments. Wells' original is classic science fiction, light on story.
In short, the movie and the book were necessarily different animals. And in the end, maybe that's as it should be. I enjoyed the movie, and I enjoyed reading the book afterward. If the movie had been a faithful rendition of Wells' intent, reading the book wouldn't have been nearly as interesting.
I am reminded a bit of Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring. I hadn't read the trilogy, but when I heard the movies were being made I made a commitment to do it. I had just started the third book when I saw the movie, and afterward while reading the book, irritating images of Ian McKellan and Elijah Wood kept popping into my head whenever I tried to visualize passages from the book. At least while reading The Time Machine, I didn't have that problem.
VP Sam Pierce called the meeting to order at 9:20pm
Old Business: Keith is hosting the 5th Friday party, as announced at 1st Friday meeting and will post directions on the web site. Treasurer's Report: We have $937.02
Austerity committee: Either contribute food or interesting drinks or put some money in the hat with the eyeballs on the table. Erica said she's still getting enough money to continue to buy good munchies.
Having a book sale was suggested as a way to raise money. Erica said she would be happy to host it but first she needs to do a full scale cleaning of the house. Therefore any book sale is unlikely to take place before June. As explained, the book sale would consist of everyone bringing books they don't want. They'll be spread out and a box with some change will be put out. What we don't sell will be taken to Book Nook on Rhode Island Avenue. It was also suggested to bring non-SF books as well as CDs, buttons, videos, dvds, and t-shirts.
Capclave present:: Someone said we have a contract, but then someone else pointed out that this was said at the last meeting and the issue is did Mike Nelson sign it, which was not an answerable question at the time. Someone else pointed out that in the future it would be best to book hotels 18 months before the convention rather than 6 months before the convention.
New business: This was covered under the Austerity committee report.
Announcements: Sam Pierce replicated Sam Lubell's usual statement. Erica Ginter reminded everyone of the house rules and that they were all created due to precedent. Also, the feline rogues gallery has been updated. Erica also noted that someone had bought and then left three books last time and if the buyer was present could he please retrieve them and that some woman had left a storage container with a blue bottom and a clear top. Someone else then mentioned that Keith's groceries were still in the garage.
On 4/16 Yoji Kondo will be speaking at the Library of Congress on solar satellites. Nicki Lynch announced that Martha Beck has died this past week. She was a long time midwest fan. Rich Lynch announced that he had brought some extra Hugo ballots and that the environmental Film Festival was currently playing in various locations around DC. Cathy Green announced that all of this year's Oscar-nominated short films were playing at visions DC on Florida Ave.
Keith Lynch announced that the email list was now indexed by person but that no one was looking at the index. Erica suggested we give Keith a big round of applause for his work on the website and suggested that it be nominated for a Hugo.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:46pm. Present were Vice President Sam Pierce, Treasurer Bob MacIntosh, Trustee Nicki Lynch, Keith Lynch, Nancy Loomis, Cathy Green, Ivy Yap, Scott Hofmann, Sheri Bell, Bill Lawhorn, Steven Smith, Richard Lynch, Adrienne Ertman, Colleen Cahill, Erica Ginter, Karl Ginter, Helgi Dagsson, Ron Kean, Andrew Williams, Keith Marshall, Carole Breakstone, Madeleine Yeh, Jim Toth, and Bill Mayhew.