The WSFA Journal May 2002

The WSFA Journal

The WSFA Journal May 2002

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

Edited by Samuel Lubell

Nebula Winners
Lee Strong Saves the Universe
Bill Mayhew Posted
Buffy's Infomercial
Science Versus Magic in Twain's Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (Part II)
Captain Nemo
Rollerball (2002)
Passages by Connie Willis
The Pickup Artist
Do Not Lick Cats
Doctor Who Meetings
If Dr. Seuss wrote for Star Trek: the Next Generation...



ConJose announced the nominees for the 2002 Hugo Awards. A total of 626 people cast Hugo Nominating ballots this year.  Three categories have six nominees due to ties for the final ballot position.


BEST NOVEL (486 ballots cast)

The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold (

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

Cosmonaut Keep by Ken MacLeod

Passage by Connie Willis

The Chronoliths by Robert Charles Wilson


BEST NOVELLA (300 ballots cast)

"May Be Some Time" by Brenda W. Clough (Analog 4/01)

"The Diamond Pit" by Jack Dann (Jubilee, F&SF 6/01)

"The Chief Designer" by Andy Duncan (Asimov's 6/01)

"Stealing Alabama" by Allen Steele (Asimov's 1/01)

"Fast Times at Fairmont High" by Vernor Vinge (The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge)


BEST NOVELETTE (292 ballots cast)

"Hell Is the Absence of God" by Ted Chiang (Starlight 3)

"Undone" by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov's 6/01)

"The Days Between" by Allen Steele (Asimov's 3/01)

"Lobsters" by Charles Stross (Asimov's 6/01)

"The Return of Spring" by Shane Tourtellotte (Analog 11/01)


BEST SHORT STORY (331 ballots cast)

"The Ghost Pit" by Stephen Baxter (Asimov's 7/01)

"Spaceships" by Michael A. Burstein (Analog 6/01)

"The Bones of the Earth" by Ursula K. Le Guin (Tales from Earthsea)

"Old MacDonald Had a Farm" by Mike Resnick (Asimov's 9/01)

"The Dog Said Bow-Wow" by Michael Swanwick (Asimov's 10-11/01)


BEST RELATED BOOK (252 ballots cast)

The Art of Richard Powers by Jane Frank

Meditations on Middle-Earth by Karen Haber, ed.

The Art of Chesley Bonestell by Ron Miller & Frederick C. Durant III

I Have This Nifty Idea...Now What Do I Do With It? by Mike Resnick

J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey

Being Gardner Dozois by Michael Swanwick




Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1492 Pictures/Heyday Films/Warner Bros.) 

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (New Line Cinema/The Saul Zaentz Company/WingNut Films)

Monsters, Inc. (Pixar Animation Studios/Walt Disney Pictures)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer "Once More, With Feeling" (Fox Television Studios/Mutant Enemy, Inc.)  Shrek (DreamWorks SKG/Pacific Data Images). 


 BEST PROFESSIONAL EDITOR (382 ballots cast)

Ellen Datlow (SCI FICTION and anthologies)

Gardner Dozois (Asimov's)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor Books; Starlight anthology series)

Stanley Schmidt (Analog)

Gordon Van Gelder (F&SF)


 BEST PRO ARTIST (323 ballots cast)

Jim Burns

Bob Eggleton

Frank Kelly Freas

Donato Giancola

Michael Whelan


 BEST SEMIPROZINE (283 ballots cast)

Absolute Magnitude, edited by Warren Lapine

Interzone, edited by David Pringle

Locus, edited by Charles N. Brown

The New York Review of Science Fiction, edited by Kathryn Cramer, David Hartwell & Kevin J. Maroney

Speculations, edited by Susan Fry, published by Kent Brewster


 BEST FANZINE (237 ballots cast)

File 770, edited by Mike Glyer

Ansible, edited by Dave Langford

Challenger, edited by Guy Lillian III

Mimosa, edited by Richard & Nicki Lynch

Plokta, edited by Alison Scott, Steve Davies & Mike Scott


 BEST FAN WRITER (248 ballots cast)

Jeff Berkwits

Bob Devney

John L. Flynn

Mike Glyer

Dave Langford

Steven H Silver


 BEST FAN ARTIST (177 ballots cast)

Sheryl Birkhead

Brad Foster

Teddy Harvia

Sue Mason

Frank Wu


 BEST WEB SITE (365 ballots cast) Each Worldcon has the right to add one special category, good only for that year and not binding upon any future Worldcon committees. ConJose exercised this right and will award a Hugo Award for Best Web Site.


Locus Online, Mark R. Kelly editor/webmaster (, Craig Engler, executive producer (

SF Site, Rodger Turner, publisher/managing editor (

Strange Horizons, Mary Anne Mohanraj, editor-in-chief (

Tangent, Dave Truesdale, senior editor; Tobias Buckell, webmaster (


 JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD for BEST NEW WRITER OF 2000/2001 (272 ballots cast) The John W. Campbell Award, sponsored by Dell Magazines, is not a Hugo Award, but appears on the same ballot as the Hugo Awards and is administered in the same way as the Hugo Awards.


Tobias S. Buckell (second year of eligibility)

Alexander C.  Irvine (second year of eligibility)

Wen Spencer (first year of eligibility)

Jo Walton (second year of eligibility)

Ken Wharton (second year of eligibility)


            The 2001 WSFS Business Meeting, as authorized by the WSFS Constitution, extended the eligibility of works initially published in 2000 outside the USA and not published in the USA as of the end of January 2001. Several works nominated this year qualify under this extension.

Of the 626 total valid nominating ballots, 371 were cast electronically through the ConJose web site. Members of ConJose and of The Millennium Philcon (the 2002 and 2001 Worldcons) were eligible to make nominations for the 2002 Hugo Awards. 389 members of ConJose (236 voting electronically, 153 by mail) and 237 members of the Millennium Philcon (135 voting electronically, 102 by mail) cast nominating ballots.

Only attending and supporting members of ConJose may vote on the 2002 Hugo Awards. ConJose will mail Hugo Award ballots to all of its members in Progress Report 4, scheduled to mail by the end of May 2002. A copy of the ballot can be downloaded from the ConJose web site at shortly. ConJose plans to offer online voting as it did for the nominating ballots. The voting deadline is July 31, 2002.

Nebula Winners


Catherine Asaro's "The Quantum Rose" for Best Novel.

Jack Williamson's "The Ultimate Earth" for Novella

Kelly Link's "Louise's Ghost" for Novelette.

Saverna Park's "The Cure for Everything" for best Short Story.

The Nebula Award for script went to James Schamus, Kuo Jung Tsai, and Hui-Ling Wang for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

A special President's Award was presented to publisher Betty Ballantine for her service in the field of science fiction.


Lee Strong Saves the Universe


The 4/5 First Friday meeting began with Judy banging the gavel.  "Okay, it's 9:17.  Our hostess has an important announcement."  Lee said, "Do not go into the black room.  It is not stable.  The carpet was supposed to be in last Monday.  But not here yet.  All the nails are up, be careful."  Danger Will Robinson, Danger, went the club. 

            No old business.  The treasurer said the amount had three digits.  When pressed he elaborated, $875.37 but he had not yet gotten insurance bill.  "The monstrosity I hold is our insurance policy, $650."  Sam P said to Mike, "You better run a good con."  Mike asked, "Do we have any flood insurance?"  Bob said, "It is covered under natural disasters." 

            The Gillilands let Lee Strong report for the Entertainment Committee.  Steve Smith sent a message from a wannabe time traveler asking for help from the government.  "I figured that included me.  I told him he could not extinguish the world line for five billion people on Earth alone.  I recommended mental travel without disrupting the lives of billions.  Military Temporal Command."  Erica suggested selling him a license.  Lee said that the guy sent him a three page response.  "I wrote back, get a life.  So your government did take care of it.  It solved the problem and prevented the universe from being destroyed.

            Capclave Present (Mike Nelson) had news <applause>  Thanks to the hard work of Elspeth, we have a hotel, the Hilton Silver Spring which is in Silver Spring near the Metro.  Lots of function space we can grow into.  He also announced a guest of honor, "Elspeth and I signed a contract, Kevin Costner is our media GOH.  Seriously, GOH is Stan Schmidt, Editor of Analog.  In September of this year he will celebrate 25 years as an Editor.  I would request that Erica make a cake."  <An evil chuckle was heard.>  "Someone check her meds," said Sam P.  "The dates are Oct 18-20, the Weekend after Columbus," continued Mike.  "Sam Lubell is doing program, Bob is Registration and Treasury, Lee is doing consuite."  "I am," said a confused Lee Strong.  "No, I am with Erica," corrected the Other Lee.  Mike said, "Anyone else who volunteered without telling me...  Mike, are you doing dealers?"  Mike W. "Sure."  Other Mike, "Tomorrow we will do a walkthrough then on Third Friday we will do a mailing.  Capclave 01 will be buying memberships for 01 Volunteers.  For paid WSFA members, $25 through the end of May, $30 through Worldcon.  $35 afterwards and $40 at the door."

            Capclave Future (Sam Lubell) announced that he had registered at his own expense and pointed it to our site.  Far Future (Lee G) said she had not paid attention to her duties.  Mike W said, "So you've had the rug pulled out from under you."  Erica said, "It is time to get down to brass tacks."  Lee Strong said, "You've been called out on the carpet."

            For publications Keith said, "On Tuesday, domain stopped pointing to anything.   I noticed it in an hour since it was 1:30 am.  The mirror site is still up.  I spent hours on the phone. had originally given us free hosting.  They were bought out by someone who was bought out by who was bought out by" Someone explained, "Which is part of the expanding Klingon empire."  Keith continued.  "They didn't notice that no one had paid anything.  But the Domain name service was still provided by which hadn't existed for most of this time.  That machine is now off. will be dropping us at the end of the month."  Lee Gilliland said, "I called, they want $35 a month to keep existing account, $19.95 if we don't keep account and start over."  Keith recommended keeping the current account, "We could go elsewhere for free but it would have ads or not be trustworthy."  Someone suggested taking up a collection.  John said we can revisit the issue later but right now should concentrate on making sure we get the site up.  Rebecca said we need to check the features.  Keith said would give us 50 megs of space which would be enough.  Rick asked if we should shop around.  Cathy said, "I suggest people consider a patron saint who sponsors the site for a month."  Erica said, "In my formal position as a representative of Karl Ginter and Associates, I will sponsor the site for the first month.  We've made lots of money off the Internet."  Elizabeth suggested that WSFA sponsor the site for Lee because of all the money he gave.  Someone asked about the tax policy on corporate sponsorship.  Judy, who wrote the IRS rules, said, "I'll make it work."  Judy said, "We have a motion on the floor to pay the web company $20 a month."  John said, "Anyone worried about the treasury could pay $20.  We could do 36 months a year and make money."  Lee Gilliland volunteered for the second month. 

            Lee Gilliland for the trustees said there is an election coming up and if people are interested in running, let the trustees know.  "Because the club cannot run without officers."  "It doesn't run now," Mike W pointed out.  "Please run," Lee S said.  Elizabeth said that Lee S had just nominated himself.  Lee Gilliland said, "I'd like to see you as president.  It would be strange."  Lee S said, "I haven't been Strange for years."  Lee Gilliland started an email list for those who can't turn off html formatting.  To subscribe  Keith asked "If there is someone who can send html and change it to text..." Someone interrupted, "Some of us can't change settings.  It is not under our control."  Elizabeth said, "You as recipient can choose to receive html or not.  Don't forget to change the privacy settings."  <There was an extensive tech discussion>  Sam Lubell said the publications committee will work on straightening things out. 

            Announcements.  Judy said that the Bucconeer is running the student contest again.  Lots of judges are needed, see Judy offline.  Lee Gilliland has Dinotopia posters from Lunacon.  Rebecca thanked Keith for hosting Fifth Friday.  Chuck Divine is unemployed.  Company is in big trouble.  "When the president of the company tells you `I'm not drawing a salary either, you can't complain.'"  Lee S lost 46 pounds last year after being diagnosed with diabetes.  "Not a diet I would recommend to people."  Sam suggested he write a diet book.  Lee summed it up, "Don't eat food"  Erica protested, "But it's my favorite thing to eat."  Lee G said that Lee Strong won a Toastmasters award.  "I concluded that the best memorial to 9/11 was a world of peace, justice and opportunity."  Kathi  said that Arlington County's Fast Forward has Mike Walsh talking about Old Earth Books.  Eric said, "I am now employed.  I heard that WB is pitching a series cartoon based on Duck Dodgers in the 25th Century."  Sally Hand is moving to NC but will be traveling frequently to visit here.  Bob MacIntosh will be celebrating 50th birthday.  Meeting adjourned at 10:08. 

            Attendance:  Pres Judy Kindell, Sec and 2003 Chair Samuel Lubell, Treas. Bob MacIntosh, Trust & 2004 Chair Lee Gilliland, Trust. Eric Jablow, Trust. Nicki Lynch, 2002 Chair Mike Nelson, Chuck Divine, Adrienne Ertman, Alexis Gilliland, Erica Ginter, Cathy Green, Sally Hand, Scott Hofmann, Jim Kling, Bill Lawhorn, Keith Lynch, Richard Lynch, Candy Madigan, Cat Meier, Walter Miles, Barry and Judy Newton, Kathi Overton, John Pomeranz, Rebecca Prather, Sam Scheiner, George Shaner, Steven Smith, Lee Strong, Michael Taylor, Michael Walsh, Ivy Yap, Doc Ryl, Steve Weese, Meridel Newton, Ramona Winkellbauer, Mike Bartman, Elizabeth Twitchell


Bill Mayhew Posted

By Mike Nelson


WSFA member Bill Mayhew was mentioned in an article on storytellers in the DC area, which appeared in the Weekend supplement of the March 22nd edition of the Washington Post.

The article said, "The range of a storyteller's repertoire, more than anything, helps to separate the professionals from the amateurs; Bill Mayhew, whose burly and garrulous persona (not to mention his bushy white mustache) seems to fit the layman's mental picture of a classic teller, has collected more than 58,000 folk tales from nearly every imaginable tradition and, according to his fellow professionals, has enough of them in his memory to do an entire afternoon's worth of telling without skipping a beat." URL:


Buffy's Infomercial

By Steve Smith


The following is a paid announcement, and may not represent the views of this station.


Hi. I'm Buffy Summers, and I want to talk to you about a very serious problem. All over the world, demons are dying out. Whether this is from the loss of their natural habitats of swamps, impenetrable forests, or British boarding schools, through the greed of egg or antennae collectors, or through their inability to adapt to human cities, this cannot be allowed to continue. Some irreplaceable species have already been lost forever. No government or United Nations program addresses this problem. The Save the Demons Foundation does.

Why am I asking you this? As a Slayer, you might think that I don't like demons. Nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, some of my best friends are demons. I only want to keep them from killing my other friends. I care even less than you do about the extras that die every week to support our local demon population.

After all, without these beautiful and increasingly rare demons, I'm just another college dropout with a crummy, dead end job and an obnoxious little sister. And you don't even want to know about my love life.

So please give generously:

For your pledge, you will receive progress reports on your demon, with photographs, letters, and police reports. There are few things as exciting as receiving the report of your demon's hatching, first molt, or first human kill. The feeling when you see a photo of your very own adult Samoan Rim Slider emerging, shiny and new, from its pupa in a shriveled corpse, simply cannot be described.

If you don't want to sponsor a demon right now, the Save the Demons Foundation can use your contributions in other ways. For example, your donation can provide chastity counseling at a local church, as many of the more delicate demons, like the Moldavian Rainbow Crawler shown here, must subsist on virgins, which are becoming as rare as the demons that require them.

So call in your pledge to the number at the bottom of your screen; operators are standing by. And remember, all contributions to the Save the Demons Foundation are fully tax deductible.

Call now, and you can go to bed tonight with the warm feeling that you're doing something that really matters to this world, and several others.

The preceding was a paid announcement, and may not represent the views of this station.


Science Versus Magic in Twain's

Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court  (Part II (cont from March))

By Samuel Lubell


While both the Yankee and Merlin claim to have magical abilities, Merlin's "powers" are not based on science or anything concrete, but only on the belief of his audience. The wizard cannot produce a single result when challenged by the Yankee's science. Although before the arrival of the Boss, Merlin gained his high position by successfully manipulating the public's superstition, he is fatally handicapped by a belief in his own magic. "He did everything by incantations," observes the Yankee. "He never worked his intellect... If he had stepped in there [the fountain].., he could have cured the well by natural means, and then turned it into a miracle in the customary way."[274] Merlin is the embodiment of superstition; however, he is not a charlatan. When the Yankee simply invents a name for a demon which Merlin claimed was blocking the fountain, the wizard spends three months "working enchantments to try to find out the deep trick of how to pronounce that name and outlive it. "[294]

Hank Morgan links Merlin's false claims to power, and society's belief in them, with the nineteenth century "pseudo-scientists":


He was a true magician of the time: which is to say, the big miracles, the ones that gave him his reputation, always had the luck to be performed when nobody but Merlin was present... a crowd was as bad for a magician's miracle in that day as it was for a spiritualist's miracle in mine.[272]


In both cases, the believers do not need any proof in order to believe. However, unlike Hawthorne, Twain does not use this comparison to imply that magic and science are equally perilous. By 1889, the sciences which most frightened Hawthorne were discredited and called "pseudo-sciences". Tying this pretended science to pretended magic, Twain demonstrates the impotence of both. Thus, Twain makes Merlin harmless, a powerless comic figure. The wizard's story bores the entire court to sleep; and the famed enchanter is only kept in the Yankee's weather bureau to undermine his reputation. In the duel between the Yankee "a measuring of his magic powers against mine,"[497] all the wizard is able to do is a slight of hand trick, against Hank's lasso and pistol. Only at the very end of the novel does Merlin show any signs of true power when he successfully puts the Yankee into a thousand year sleep. Even that accomplishment is ironically marred: Merlin dies by electrocution, while the Yankee survives to arrive back in the nineteenth century.

Much of A Connecticut Yankee is devoted to this contest between science and magic. To the residents of King Arthur's Court, both the Yankee and Merlin are enchanters disputing for supremacy. But to Hank Morgan, his battles with Merlin are examples of science and reason defeating magic and superstition. "I was a champion, it was true," he says, "but not the champion of the frivolous black arts, I was the champion of hard unsentimental common-sense and reason."[498] In the scenes where the Yankee blows up Merlin's tower, fixes the monks' fountain, and defeats the knights in the duel, the Yankee always gives Merlin the opportunity to try his ineffective magic powers first, before winning through the superior power of science. Twain himself interpreted this contest as central to the novel. In his introduction to the excerpts of the book published in Century Magazine, he calls the conflict "a bitter struggle for supremacy... Merlin using the absurd necromancy of the time and the Yankee beating it easily and brilliantly with the more splendid necromancy of the nineteenth century- that is, the marvels of modern science."[1] Twain never intends the conflict between the Yankee and Merlin to be seen as just two rival magicians squabbling for rank, but instead as the Yankee overpowering magic with his science.

Although Twain allows the Yankee's technology to be defeated in the end of the novel, this is not a rejection of science. Instead, Twain intends to show the strong forces arrayed against science and progress. The Yankee is not defeated by Merlin and magic, but by social forces allied with the superstition of the church. Twain deliberately makes the Yankee into a sympathetic victim, forced to hole himself up in a cave with only 36 boys to support him against the whole 10,000 armed knights of English chivalry. The Yankee is only defending his civilization against the enemies of progress, the same forces that Twain criticized throughout the novel and elsewhere in his writings: the aristocracy, slavery, superstition, and most especially the Church.

The aristocracy, a frequent target of Twain's, fight the Yankee to maintain their power. Twain criticizes the nobility throughout the novel, both for their violence and coarseness, and for their exploitation of the serfs. While these knights serve as tools of the Church, they also fight in their own interests to prevent the Yankee from freeing the serfs. The serfs' acquiescence in obeying the feudal lords rather than joining the Yankee to fight for freedom further harms his cause. The masses of England cheer his republic for a day, but are soon cowed into fighting against it:


The Church, the nobles, and the gentry then turned one grand, all-disapproving frown upon them and shriveled them into sheep! .. .Why even the very men who had lately been slaves were in the righteous cause,' and glorifying it, praying for it, sentimentally slobbering over it, just like all the other commoners.[551]

However, while the knights, supported by the serfs, do the actual fighting, the Yankee's most dangerous enemy is really the Church. Unlike Merlin, who also makes use of superstition, the Church is dangerous because it combines superstitions with powerful social forces and authority. For Twain, the Church fills the same role as Hawthorne's scientists, ruling the minds of others. Based on superstition, the Church always acts to prevent progress: in the novel it successfully tricks the Yankee out of the country, and destroys his railway, telegraph, telephone, and even his electric light. [540] The Church claims authority over who can go to Heaven, and uses its monopoly on literacy to train the people to its superstitions. At the end of A Connecticut Yankee, all of Hank Morgan's followers surrender to the Church's Interdict, except for the boys who grew up in his new society. Clarence sadly confesses that the Yankee's education ultimately fails against superstition:


Because all the others were born in an atmosphere of superstition and reared in it. It is in their blood and bones. We imagined we had educated it out of them; they thought so, too; the Interdict woke them up like a thunderclap. [540]


Mark Twain treats the Church as a regressive force in much of his darker writings, most especially his dialogues and philosophy. [2]  He had planned to show the Church as the enemy of progress in A Connecticut Yankee a year before he even started to write the novel; his 1885 notebook contains the idea, "Country placed under an interdict."'[3]

                Though superstition, in the form of the Church,  defeats science, the Church does not win through any inherent truth in its doctrines, but instead through its power over the beliefs of men.

The final battle of the Sand-belt, in which the Yankee kills 30,000 knights with an electric fence, may appear an abuse of science's power more deadly than that of Hawthorne's scientists. While to modern eyes, after the invention and use of horrific weapons in two world wars, the final battle of the Sand Belt seems uncomfortably apocalyptic, the scenes of destruction would not have had the same resonance for nineteenth century readers. Frontier humor often exaggerated death and destruction to provoke laughter. [4] Also, although Twain knew that science could be misused, he carefully works to avoid the impression that the Yankee is abusing his power. Twain removes all of the sympathetic knights- King Arthur, Sir Lancelot and the baseball players have all died in battle- before the Yankee return. Those electrocuted are nameless, faceless suits of armor who threaten to destroy not only the Yankee and science, but also his- infant "Republic". Moreover, even without the Yankee's new weapons, the sixth century was violent in its own right. The knights did not just quest for grails and castles, they fought and killed with their swords. The novel's brutal ending merely strips away the last illusion, the glories of battle, from the chivalry debunked throughout the book. Since Twain's audience knew the ending of the authentic Arthurian myths, which also end in a bloody battle, they would not have blamed the Yankee for the destruction of Camelot which would have occurred without him.

While Hank Morgan can be criticized for being inconsistent, he does try sincerely to abolish slavery and use his science to improve the lot of the common man. His failure is not the failure of science, but the result of the aristocracy, slavery, and the Church. The fall of Camelot was inevitable due to the human failings of its leaders, Arthur, Lancelot and Guenever; and therefore is not an example of Twain losing his original faith in science. While he wrote to William Dean Howells that he left too much unsaid because "they would require a library- and a pen warmed up in Hell,"[5]those unsaid things are most probably even harsher attacks on the Church, aristocracy, and monarchy, rather than against democracy and technology that so much of the book praises.

.  .  .

Twain and Hawthorne use a different vocabulary to describe science. Through his language, Hawthorne restricts his science to the mysterious and unexplained, constantly bringing in references to the supernatural, the devil, and legends. He sets his stories in an indefinite past, with abstract and ambiguous descriptions aligning more with magic than science. In contrast, while Twain also sets his novel in the past, the sixth century of King Arthur, his language is more simple and direct. Twain's narrator, the time-traveling Yankee, narrates in the common nineteenth-century speech of his day. While Hawthorne speaks of "Airy figures" and "bodiless ideas,"[6] Twain describes an entire nineteenth century civilization  complete with telephones, telegraphs, railroads, matches, and stove-polish. Hank ends all secrecy: in his own words,  he "exposed the nineteenth century to the inspection of the sixth."[511]

Like Chillingworth, Aylmer, and Rappaccini, who alter nature for evil, Hank Morgan uses his science to change the world around him. However in A Connecticut Yankee, Twain approves of his character's power: He believes that science and technology will benevolently transform the world. Hawthorne's scientists behave as wizards in all but name; there is little difference between science and magic. But, by the time of Twain's A Connecticut Yankee, the view of science in America had changed. Twain's scientist is more human, less supernatural than Hawthorne's. The Yankee is never a wizard, although he adopts that guise to conform to the world in which he finds himself; he is always against the goals and practices of magic. No longer an ally of magic, concealed in underground laboratory sanctums and walled in gardens, Twain's scientist has become a visible force altering entire countries. His technology and science give him great power, but he attempts to direct that power to the improvement of mankind by transforming the country, introducing nineteenth century institutions and machines. It is in this enthusiastic portrayal of science that Twain differs from Hawthorne. The Yankee is more ordinary, more concrete, than Hawthorne's mysterious scientists precisely because there is less to hide. While Hawthorne's scientists plot to take over souls, the Yankee works to free men from tyranny.



By Ted White


            TRAP DOOR #21, March 2002 (Robert Lichtman, P.O. Box 30, Glen Ellen, CA 95442; available for "the usual" - "letters, contributions both written and artistic, and accepted trades" - or $5.00 per copy; e-mail to

            Trap Door has been coming out on a quasi-annual schedule since the '80s and has over the years become the premier "fannish" fanzine.  Editor Lichtman says his fanzine is "like a class reunion," because fans who had apparently been long vanished from fandom ("gafiated" - as in Getting Away From It All) turn up in its pages.   Lichtman has, like me, spent his entire adult life as a fan, having published his first fanzine back in 1959.  And by now he has honed his approach to fanzine-editing and can consistently produce one of the best fanzines coming out - if infrequently.

            Lichtman had been using a simple word-processor and doing manual paste-ups for years, but with #21 Trap Door has fully entered the DTP/computer-publishing age.  And this issue presents some impressive material.

            The lead article is by Chris Priest.  "The Lost Years" describes what happened to his writing career when he entered into a partnership with Dave Langford to run a small software company which more or less grew like Topsy.  The title says it all but the 9-page piece fills in the details entertainingly and insightfully.   

            That piece would stand out in most fanzines, but here it is eclipsed by Joel Nydahl's "Revisiting Nydahl's Disease."   Nydahl is famous in fandom for having put out the best fanzine of 1953 (Vega) and then totally gafiating - at the age of 15!   His abrupt disappearance from fandom after publishing the superb 100-page Vega #13 - its first "annish" or anniversary issue - led to the term "Nydahl's Disease" to describe fans who burn themselves out in a blaze of glory.   Last year both Lichtman and I contacted Nydahl (over the internet), leading to his decision to drop in at the Philadelphia Worldcon, where I finally met him for the first time (we'd been correspondents in 1953 and I'd drawn the cover for Vega #5).   In his piece for Trap Door Joel describes what happened to him in 1953 (his family had moved from a farm to an in-town home and his social life had picked up) and what happened at Philadelphia last Labor Day weekend. 

            But that's not all!  Gordon Eklund contributes "The Katz Kontroversy: A Document," a work of fanfiction (fiction about fans); Ron Bennett writes about "The Real Mrs. Brown," under whom he taught at the Warwick School in Singapore for three years; Lucy Huntzinger tells "Twice-Told Tales;" Calvin Demmon writes about "An Old Boy and His Dog;" Steve Stiles describes his (brief) job illustrating the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in "Drawing Board Blues;" I tell about "My Brief Career As An Artist;" and rich brown (who does not capitalize his name) talks about his childhood as a miscreant in "Smokes."  And there are 20 pages of letters.

            Trap Door is published half-size (5½ by 8½ inches), photo-copied, and uses the best artists in fandom (principally Dan Steffan and Steve Stiles, but also ATom, Harry Bell, Grant Canfield, Craig Smith, Bill Rotsler and D. West) to present a fanzine which looks as good as it reads - which is very good indeed.   Highly recommended.


Captain Nemo by Kevin J. Anderson

Reviewed by Lee Strong


            Avast there, me hearties!  It's another Jules Verne pastiche.  This one reveals the life story of the true Captain Nemo, friend of and inspiration to the famous author.

            (Conflict of interest warning:  I'm working on a Victorian submarine novel in which Verne's Nemo plays an indirect role.)

            Anderson's novel takes the form of a dual biography of Verne and his childhood friend Nemo.  The latter adventures around the world while the former stays home and writes novels based on Nemo's adventures.  The latter's adventures include a voyage with Captain Hatteras, being castaway on a mysterious island, making a journey to the center of the Earth, traveling across Africa for five weeks in a balloon, and building a fabulous submarine while working on a giant cannon capable of sending men from the Earth to the Moon.  You get the idea.  This is intertwined with a three way love story among Verne, Nemo and Carolyn Arronax, their childhood sweetheart.

            This biography is well written and shows a real love for Verne's works.  However, the basic joke wears very thin very quickly as the entire novel is merely a device for putting Nemo into various "Vernesque" situations that Anderson's Verne then rips off for his novels.  The result is that Anderson's characters are pale imitations of their originals.  Anderson's Nemo lacks the fire and brooding intensity of the great submariner while Anderson's Verne lacks the real skills at research and writing that the great author actually had.  This work could have been good.  I find it merely adequate.

            I rate Captain Nemo as ««« on the Five Star scale, equivalent to a "C" on the high school A-F scale.  -- LS


                                                                Rollerball (2002)

                                              Reviewed by Lee Strong


            I found this movie interesting for a very unusual reason:  it's not science fiction.  In remaking the 1975 sf classic of the same name, the filmmakers altered the scenario to the point where the science fictional elements disappeared.  Not a unique fate for a sf original, but certainly unusual.

            Our hero is an American player of the flashy rollerball sport in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan which is largely run by a former KGB warlord-cum-businessman.  Our hero discovers that sports injuries and fatalities are being manipulated to boost television ratings and leads the other players in a revolt against the warlord team owners.  Between games, he disports himself with a teammate and drives sports cars as part of the film's overall cyberpunk flavor.  If there was any true science fiction in this movie, I missed it.

            This film tried hard, but merely succeeded in being trying.  Lots of flash and stereotyped "mean street" shots could not disguise a lack of intelligent characters or much in the way of a plot.  Most of the plot devices are telegraphed well in advance and the characters might as well be wearing signs on their chests to identify them as "Clean Cut All American Hero", "Politically Savvy Romantic Interest Who Pretends Disinterest" and "Politically Correct Sidekick-cum-Advisor."  Game over, man.  Time to go home.

            I rate Rollerball (2002) as «« on the Five Star Scale, equivalent to a "D" on the high school A-F scale.  -- LS


Passages by Connie Willis (New York, Bantam Books, 2001)

A review by Colleen R. Cahill


Author Connie Willis has dealt with death in her books before: her award-winning novel Doomsday Book describes the demise of a village in 14th century England. Her new work, Passage, deals with near death experience or NDE. Several popular nonfiction books on this phenomena describe it as seeing a light at the end of a tunnel, floating above one's body in an hospital, meeting angels, all while being clinically dead. The Willis novel looks at this subject with a broad eye, showing several sides of the nature and purpose of NDE.

Dr. Joanna Lander is a psychologist who is researching NDE. She gathers most of her information through hospital interviews of people who recently had an NDE, talking to them as soon as possible after the event.  The bane of her existence is Maurice Mandrake, an author of popular works on NDE. His books are the type that describe the light at the end of the tunnel and he sees NDE as proof that God exists, there is an afterlife, and that the dead can communicate with the living. Joanna has a more neutral view and finds Mandrake's poor interviewing techniques, typified by leading questions and encouraging certain remembrances, very destructive to her work. Seeking answers, she begins a research project with Dr. Richard Wright.  He has discovered a way to chemically induce NDE and he wants to use volunteers to test his theory that it is strictly a reaction of the brain to imminent death.  While Joanna leans more to Dr. Wright's view of NDE, she is still not sure if he is completely correct, especially after she becomes one of the volunteers to under the chemical NDE.

Joanna's sessions keep taking her back to a dark passage with a light at one end. Because she can repeatedly undergo NDE, she learns that she is constantly going back to the same place. She is shocked to discover she is aboard the Titanic as it has begun to sink. This revelation opens a whole series of questions and investigations for her.  She wonders if all NDE's are actually taking place on the Titanic, especially after she meets a hospital patient who recently died during one of her sessions. Some unlikely characters assist her in the investigation, including a little girl with a weak heart and Joanna's high school English teacher who is now suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

While a book about death would seem very dark and depressing, Willis handles this topic with a human touch.  The sadness and pain of dying is portrayed with realism and countered with the love and caring for both the person dying and those around them. Passage is a book about death, but it is full of life and worth the trip.


The Pickup Artist by Terry Bisson (New York, TOR, 2002)

A review by Colleen R. Cahill


All of us have clutter in our lives, things that get in the way. Rarely do we purge the excess, probably because we don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. But in Terry Bisson's work, The Pickup Artist, a clean up of the world of art throws out the baby, the bath water AND the wash tub.

In the mid-21st century, a movement arises denouncing the overwhelming art and literature created throughout human history. The cry is that current artists are stifled by the mountainous crush of previous work: the museums and libraries have no more room. A reactionary group known as the Alexandrians (named after the fire, not the library) begin to destroy various works of art.  When eventually people are caught in the blasts, a chain of events lead the government to step in. They set up the Bureau of Arts and Entertainment.  If an artist, author, or performer is selected by a lottery, their works are scanned and archived, then all copies are removed from public access.

All this leads to the main character, Hank Shapiro, who is a Pickup Artist: he is a government employee who retrieves copies of books, videos, records and other media from the public, reimbursing the owners with money. Shapiro lives a quiet life until he picks up a Hank Williams album.  This triggers memories of his father who abandoned Shapiro and his mother years ago. He begins a clandestine attempt to find a record player while also dealing with the grief of discovering his beloved dog has cancer.  Between meetings in smoky bars where renegade art lovers listen to old songs and watch Gilligan's Island and trying to rescue his dog from the animal hospital that is going to put the pet to sleep, Shapiro treads a path that becomes more and more surreal.

Other reviews of this book compare it to Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and there are certainly elements in common. But Bisson's work is not as grim and at times I feel he is tweaking our noses. The first item Shapiro picks up is Walter Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz and all the materials that are pulled are of similar fame. It is hard to take this work too seriously when a leading force behind one group of Alexandrians is a fabulously wealthy techno-nerd know as "Mr. Bill." But even with his tongue-in-cheek attitude, Bisson does send a real message on the nature of art and what limits should be placed on its availability.  The term censorship is not used in the book, but that is what the book is about.  The fact that there are groups that really advocate an approach like Bisson describes makes this book that much more poignant.

Bisson has packed a lot of story in this 240 page book and I recommend you pickup a copy of The Pickup Artist as soon as possible.


Do Not Lick Cats


The WSFA minutes for Third Friday were taken by Lee Gilliland.  Thanks Lee. 

Start: 9:14 p.m.  Treasury has $905.77.  Insurance is due, $651.00 any time now.

Erica reported the austerity committee had a brainstorm and is selling books she found but no longer wants.  Lee Gilliland was at the first sucker.   Activity committee reports Star Wars will be out May 15th.  There will be a  theater  party. 

Capclave past is past.  Capclave current is not here.  Capclave futures are future and had nothing to say.  The  World fantasy convention had a walk through.  SMOFcon is too early.  ( what I meant by this, I haven't the slightest).  Capclave has a signed contract.

            The fifth Friday in May will be a daytime party at Erica's the Saturday after, there is an anniversary involved. 

Announcements.  Read Erica's rules.  Do not lick cats.  Leave the bathroom door open.  Elizabeth is donating to W S F A everything in her trunk  Steve Smith will be selling books see for the austerity committee. Mike thanked those who voted to nominate his book for the Hugos.  He has copies signed by both Gardner and Mike.   Elspeth has been gone for five days at ConJose meetings and they are coming  along well.  The Fairmont will have the party floors.  Alexis her cat, is better after surgery.  Bob and Mike are volunteering for TorCon-Mike for Hugo's, Bob for site selection. 

We gave up at 9:47 p.m.  There is no record of attendance.


Doctor Who Meetings


The Northern Virginia Dr. Who Viewing Society meets the first Monday of every month at the Fairfax Government Center.  They are currently running through all the regeneration stories. The story scheduled for May is Tom Baker's last episode, Logopolis.  The story scheduled for June is Peter Davison's last story, Planet of Fire.  For direction by car or public transportation or for schedule updates, please check the society's web site at



If Dr. Seuss wrote for Star Trek: the Next Generation...

Source Unknown but via Erica Ginter


Picard:    Sigma Indri, that's the star,

            So, Data, please, how far? How far?


Data:      Our ship can get there very fast

            But still the trip will last and last

            We'll have two days til we arrive

            But can the Indrans there survive?


Picard:    LaForge, please give us factor nine.


LaForge:       But, sir, the engines are offline!


Picard:    Offline! But why? I want to go!

            Please make it so, please make it so!


Riker:    But sir, if Geordi says we can't,

            We can't, we mustn't, and we shan't,

            The danger here is far too great!


Picard:     But surely we must not be late!


Troi:       I'm sensing anger and great ire.


Computer: Alert! Alert! The ship's on fire!


Picard:    The ship's on fire? How could this be?

            Who lit the fire?


Riker:           Not me.


Worf:      Not me.


Picard:    Computer, how long til we die?


Computer: Eight minutes left to say goodbye.


Data:      May I suggest a course to take?

            We could, I think, quite safely make

            Extinguishers from tractor beams

            And stop the fire, or so it seems...


Geordi:   Hurray! Hurray! You've saved the day!

            Again I say, Hurray! Hurray!


Picard:   Mr. Data, thank you much.

            You've saved our lives, our ship, and such.


Troi:             We still must save the Indran planet --


Data:      Which (by the way) is made of granite...


Picard:    Enough, you android. Please desist.

            We understand -- we get your gist.

            But can we get our ship to go?

            Please, make it so, PLEASE make it so.


Geordi:   There's sabotage among the wires

            And that's what started all the fires.


Riker:     We have a saboteur? Oh, no!

            We need to go! We need to go!


Troi:       We must seek out the traitor spy

            And lock him up and ask him why?


Worf:      Ask him why? How sentimental.

            I say give him problems dental.


Troi:       Are any Romulan ships around?

            Have scanners said that they've been found?

            Or is it Borg or some new threat

            We haven't even heard of yet?

            I sense no malice in this crew.

            Now what are we supposed to do?


Crusher: Captain, please, the Indrans need us.

            They cry out, "Help us, clothe us, feed us!"

            I can't just sit and let them die!

            A doctor MUST attempt -- MUST try!


Picard:    Doctor, please, we'll get there soon.


Crusher:       They may be dead by Tuesday noon.







Worf:      The saboteur is in the brig.

            He's very strong and very big.

            I had my phaser set on stun --

            A zzzip! A zzzap! Another one!

            He would not budge, he would not fall,

            He would not stun, no, not at all!

            He changed into a stranger form

            All soft and purple, round and warm.


Picard:    Did you see this, Mr. Worf?

            Did you see this creature morph?


Worf:      I did and then I beat him fairly.

            Hit him on the jaw -- quite squarely.


Riker:     My commendations, Klingon friend!

            Our troubles now are at an end!


Crusher:       Now let's get our ship to fly

            And orbit yonder Indran sky!


Picard:    LaForge, please tell me we can go...?


Geordi:  Yes, sir, we can.


Picard:    Then make it so!


Lee Strong announced that he made a donation of $1,000 as an unrestricted gift to Hampton University.  "This gift is given to the glory of God and in honor of Mr. Ted White, author and editor, and the Washington Science Fiction Association.

The End












President - Judy Kindell

VP--Sam Pierce

Secretary--Samuel Lubell

Treasurer--Bob MacIntosh

Trustees--Scott Hofmann, Eric Jablow, Nicki Lynch

[1] Everett Carter. "The Meaning of A Connecticut Yankee" in A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court: Norton Critical Edition. Ensor, ed. p. 442

[2]         "Don't come near me again until you can interest yourself in some subject of a lower grade and less awful than theology.'

Bess.Le,(disappearing): `Mr. Hollister says there ain't any.'" Mark Twain "Little Bessie" (1908) in The Devil's Race-Track John Tuckey ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980) p. 13

[3] Smith, p.43

[4] Carter p. 438

[5] Carter p. 441

[6] Nathaniel Hawthorne. "Rappaccini' s Daughter" in The Complete Novels and Selected Tales of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Norman Pearson ed. (NY: Modern Library 1937) p. 1026