The WSFA Journal January 2003

The WSFA Journal

The WSFA Journal January 2003

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

Edited by Samuel Lubell

2003: Year in Review
WSFA Mugged
Philcon Panel: Future of Science Fiction
Fanzine Reviews
Reviews of Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce and Restoration by Carol Berg
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Posleen Invasion of John Ringo
Immaculate CONception
New Year's Resolutions of the SF Stars

2003: Year in Review

by Samuel Lubell


The year opened with claims by the Raelians that their cloned Eve was in fact a clone of the original Eve from Genesis.  This too was reported by all the papers as straight news, without even a slightly ironic tone.  Mysteriously, however, when the time came for scientific tests, the Raelians announced that their alien founder had returned and taken the cloned Eve away in his spaceship.  Scientists mourned the loss to human knowledge.

The new chairman of the Senate confessed himself completely bewildered as to why millions of dyslexic Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans insisted on referring to him as the Frist Evil.

After Mike "Lord of the Hugos" Nelson ruled that the deluxe edition of The Lord of the Rings DVD has enough new footage (plus loads of extras) to be considered as a separate work for Hugo consideration, both the deluxe version of the first film and the theater version of the second were on the Hugo nominee list.  As a result the two cancelled each other out and, since even diehard Star Wars fans refused to vote for a movie called Attack of the Clones, the Hugo winner was the Disney cartoon Lilo and Stitch, which would have been in the short form category had that not been reserved for TV episodes.  The success of the Lord of the Rings films has caused Hollywood to wonder if the key elements of Tolkien's work could be distilled down and replicated, if not outright cloned.  Terry Brooks is already on call.  Meanwhile, the failure of the Buffy fans to agree on a single episode from Buffy's worst season ever let the "Save Farscape" crowd win with the last aired episode of the Sci-Fi cancelled series.

Worldcon this year was in Canada, eh.  This caused the usual international confusion as merchants in the dealer's room had to label every item with prices in both American and Canadian dollars, eh.  However, the authors had it far worse due to Canadian law that requires everything sold in Canada to have French translations on the other side (just look at the cereal boxes for proof of this, eh.)  Authors were hurriedly dredging up 20-year-old memories of high school French to translate the back of their book jackets, eh.  More than one author, forced by this exercise to actually read the back of their book for the first time, expressed shock at the inaccuracy of the description, eh.  Needless to say, the French programming track, also required by law, was poorly attended, eh.

Due to mix-ups with hotel cancellations, Capclave was actually held twice in 2003, once in September to recover from Worldcon, and once in November to recover from World Fantasy Convention.  The attempt to feature Dark Fantasy at WFC was a large success.  However, the dark essences of so many of the writers summoned the Dread Lord Cthulhu to the convention where he noshed on many of the guests.  Unfortunately, since the hotel was in DC, close to Congress and the President.  The government declared this a code blood-red emergency and the full apparatus of "Homeland Security" descended upon the mad godlet, only to find themselves eaten as well.  By contrast, Capclave was much more sedate.  Its 600 members were split among its two different dates and members and guests were constantly confused as to which program items were in September and which in November.  However several frequenters of programming items liked the solution to having to choose between more than one interesting panel given at the same time - just wait two months and go to the other one.


WSFA Mugged


The 12/6/02 First Friday opened in the absence of the secretary (whose car was buried in snow) and treasurer (out of town).  The entertainment committee visited the attic, discovered 25 mugs left over from Disclave '81.  They are on sale for $10 a piece with half of the money to go to the Austerity Committee the rest to WSFA general funds.  In the absence of the Treasurer, money for mugs can be given to Alexis Gilliland.

Capclave Present is in talks with Silver Spring Hilton but they would have to have us move the convention to the week before Thanksgiving.  Elspeth is also talking to another interested hotel, the Ramada New Carrollton.  Four registrants already.  Capclave Future is in talks with Silver Spring Hilton and pinned down date Oct 22-24.  Elizabeth Twitchell is hotel representative who just bought a house.  World Fantasy Artist Guest Alan Kozlowski works in black and white and lives outside Philadelphia.  He won award at this year's World Fantasy Con.  "We lurch forward"  Membership forms and flyers should be out at Philcon.  Peggy Rae Sapienza is bidding for Smofcon 2004.  Bidding is mostly a formality.  WSFA has agreed to help.  Put in proposal with Hyatt Regency, the same hotel used for World Fantasy and focusing on hotels in Dupont Circle.  Typical Smofcon attendance is 100-150.  This will be the 22nd Smofcon, the first was also held by WSFA.

Scott Hofmann is in charge of organizing a LOTR Two Towers viewing party since Lee Gilliland didn't like the first movie.  Publications Committee is still looking for July 93 and March 94 WSFA Journals.  Have all journals up since Jan of 93. 

Old business - Lee Strong has donated $500 to library for fantasy and science fiction videos.  He included a recommendation list.  The gift was given in the name of WSFA.  The library responded saying that they've ordered all recommended movies and still have extra money so asked for another list of recommendations.  Please give your recommendations to Lee Strong after the meeting.  Also after the meeting will be WSFA's traditional tree decoration.  Questions about electing a new Capclave chair were deemed unnecessary.

Announcements: Hostess Lee Gilliland said no paper towels in toilets.  Cats are not to be let outside.  They can, however, be put into toilets, if you want to try, "at your own risk."  Elizabeth Twitchell bought a condo.  She's volunteering to host the Jan 5th Friday.  Bill also bought a condo.  Cathy reported that Fast Forward had an interview with Jonathan Carroll and may go on his website.  They will interview Will Ludwigsen this weekend.  Elspeth gave her saga of the cat.  Two weeks before Capclave her cat stopped eating and was put to sleep the week before Capclave.  WSFA expressed sympathy..  Mike Walsh has books and a review of his reprints of the books of Edward Whitmore.  Scott Hofmann's latest game, Dark Age of Camelot - Shrouded Isles, has been released.  Already nationwide shortage.  Rebecca has an open house Dec 22nd 2-6.  This is also a Mensa function.  Adrienne has her last exam Dec 21st.  Review of Solaris, "solid B".  Bungalow New Year's Party.  Book sale at the Patrick Henry Library in Vienna.  Hal Haag is in hospital as candidate for triple bypass.  Clear your chairs to eat faster.  Adjourned 9:44. 

Attendance: Lee and Alexis Gilliland, Adrienne Ertman, Cat M. Meier, Scott Hofmann, Lee Strong, Michael Walsh, Jim Kling, Elspeth Kovar, Sam and Judy Scheiner, Elizabeth Twitchell, Ivy Yap, Bill Lawhorn, Sheri Bell, Cathy Green, Rebecca Prather, George Sharp, Walter Miles, Keith Lynch, Eric Jablow, Bernard Bell, Kathy Overton, John Pomeranz, Judy Kindell. 


Philcon Panel: Future of Science Fiction

Transcribed by Samuel Lubell


Note: This transcription is based on notes hurried scribbled down as the panel progressed and is therefore almost certainly incomplete and inaccurate.  It is certainly not intended as any kind of official or authorized record.


Participants in the panel were Judith Berman (JB), Gregory Frost (GF), David Hartwell (DH), Tom Purdom (TP) and Andrew Porter (AP). 


DH: Historical background.  JB wrote an essay, "Science Fiction without the Future" in the NY Review of Science Fiction that got an award from the SF Research Association.

JB: The baby boom issue was the take off point.  I'm not quite a boomer, not Gen X.  I found that much of SF was about baby boomer issues with nostalgia for things I haven't experienced.  I opened up an issue of Asimov's.  Three fourths of stories were about getting old.  I studied a year of Asimov's, a quarter of the stories were about the past or time travel.  Lots of others nostalgic or retro-futures or with SF in pastoral environments.  Only a quarter of the stories were about a future of the present, not of the past.  This is not a baby boom issue but a pan-SF issue.  I believe editors do the best with what they're sent [by authors].  It's a real challenge to image the future.  What kind of models are there for the future?  Is it open to be imagined or a closed future with Armageddon or the end of SF? 

DH: Well developed arguments.  I was stimulated by her arguments.  I read almost all the stories published for the two anthologies that I do and I get all the English science fiction magazines.  I say this as bigger than Asimov's and applied to all English SF.  A lot of better writers are dealing with concerns of longer lifespans etc.  These are not the concerns of 21 year old readers.  It's a different kettle of fish from the wonders of exploring the universe.

TP: I'm not just the moderator but also an anthropologist so I can't interrupt.  JB did have a point but not a new problem.  It is hard work to imagine the future.  You need to know a lot, so authors have come up with ways to avoid doing the work - primitive planets and holocausts so that fights with swords become possible.  There are ways to avoid writing SF while writing SF.  It is easier to write this well so it seems like our best writers are writing this SF with fewer technical issues.  Since then, especially in Asimov's things have changed.  Gardner is publishing stuff with real speculations about the future.  But the issue of a longer lifespan is a real SF issue.  Writers taking the challenge. 

JB: Writing good SF is like riding a bike on a high wire while playing the grand piano - well.  Much of SF has been a youth narrative.  I think extended life is a valid SF issue but these stories had a sense of fear and anxiety with no sense of critique, unlike Brave New World.  Fiction coming out now are mere representations of authors' anxieties [of growing old.]  There has been an upsurge of real SF and a disproportionate amount has been British.

AP: SF is published by editors who screen what they get.  Editors are getting old and jaded.  I was burnt out on the field.  Is this selling more and better?  Is pessimistic SF selling better?  Audience has grown hard.

GP: Under Bush, we're all scared sh!tless.  A lot of SF writers aren't reading SF but have turned to mysteries for pleasure as these deal with the life and death issues of concern as you grow older.  15-year-olds who save the universe had nothing to say to us as older adults.  And you write what you read.

AP: People got into field because love it, but if you do it all the time, you don't relax by reading SF but by reading other stuff.  So love of SF causes you to burn out.

TP: It's common. Writers don't read the same type of stuff as they write.

DH: 25 years ago I promulgated a theory that people go through periods of neurotic reading in which read a book of a type every day.  But as taste mature, read more widely, reading less SF and more selectively.  Once a writer becomes accomplished in that field, they don't read in that field.  Established poets don't read widely except to check competition or those radically different.  But interested in how literature connects to audience.  Editors select what gets published.  I publish every wonder-filled story I can find but not a large repository of these stories.  When we find it, we publish it <someone hands him the cover of a book called The Golden Age>.  I don't find ten of these.  If I found 20, I'd publish them.

JB: Maturing of the field.  Character driven stories versus plot driven which I see as spurious, there are good stories and bad stories.  What kinds of world are they imagining and who for.  SF can't just repeat what has happened before.

GF: We were in an interstatic period when people couldn't figure out the future.  They used off-the-shelf futures because not sure what the future would be.  It is hard to write an exploration story that doesn't seem like Star Trek.  But after that essay, Russo wrote Ship of Fools, which was ignored by everyone but the Philip K Dick award.  People wondered what was after cyberpunk?  Now there's Charles Stross.


JB: There's the British SF Renaissance.  If I look at Best of the Year anthologies, it's surprising how many are British.

DH: I just did an anthology of the Hard SF Renaissance.  Big ground shift in SF in these areas (I'm also doing one on Space Opera).  Half the writers are British.  British have eight hardbacks a month, US publishers  do dozens.

AP How many copies?

DH: In England, sometimes 500 copies, here the minimum is 3,000.  Doubleday Hardback in the 50s had 1,500.

JB: Charles Stross, Ken MacLeod, Peter Hamilton, Iain Banks.

DH: Banks is #1 best seller

TP: Brian Stableford.  Don't forget him.

DH: I'm his editor.  I think he's one of the best.

TP: One of the best novellas I've every read.

AP: Other editors not as optimistic

TP: I don't think it's an issue of optimism.  Story where you develop an interesting future, a conflict, and write of a person in that future dealing with that future.  Doesn't have to be optimistic.

DH: Ignore Gregory Bedford.  He's been writing this for decades.  But majority of attention to award ballots, Asimov's and Gardner, because biggest.

TP: Future fiction is harder to write and harder to read.  They ask the reader to step into a strange future with strange details.  This is why many people have trouble reading SF.  The readership has gotten lazy.  They're not used to putting out the effort.

GF: When Burdys wrote Michaelmas he didn't have to worry about the future catching up to him.  Are people afraid of that now?

AP: Recession, president set on war, President says global warming doesn't matter, so people are pessimistic.

TP: You can write pessimistic SF, but about new things.  Give the reader something new to worry about.

DH: That reminds me of a cartoon with woman standing next to a crater.  Caption reads "Poor Henry always knew a meteor would get him."

JB: Fear of a near future SF is that technology will catch up.  Writers feel compelled to include details.  But Cordwainer Smith didn't which is why his stories still work.

DH: Story of talking shoe not explained (Sheckley).

JB: Not necessary to tell more than you have to.

TP: We fill in for ourselves

AP: Not absurd

TP: We know enough about miniaturization to know that this is plausible.

GF: Flatulence of the Future

Audience: SF is revelation of the times.  Seeing growth and change from Campbell SF technical problems with technical problems now, after the fall of the Soviet Union, there is an explosion of alternate history because seemed infinite possibilities of future.  But since we in US chose isolationism.  I grew up and saw last unknown places disappear.  Now we have a desire to protect empty spaces, not conquer it. 

Audience: NASA budget now going to military so less of a view of future.

TP: Catholic Church, Chinese, Japanese.

DH: Living in the golden age of science

TP: Never less effect.  Takes a lot of work to be readable.

JB: Not too many plot or character driven stories or is it that storytelling has deteriorated.

AP: Educated are reading less fiction

DH: Jonathan Yardley wrote an essay on state of fiction saying it's not about anything.

JB: Used to have award winning fiction that was adventure fiction, now this is impossible.

DH: Age of readership is getting older.  Publishing industry trying to cultivate YA readers.

Audience: Trilogies.  How much of this is product?

DH: Trilogies are commercially successful which is why they get done.  The marketing system says do more like this.

Audience: SF is what if stories.  But kids' education is increasingly didactic.  People scream bloody murder rather than deal with a question.

DH: Science has become politicized in way that it wasn't 20 years ago and space science is of the right, making it harder for liberal writers.

Audience: Edge of science further away from average reader.

DH: Rapid discovery is causing problems.

JB: Future is not just about science but people.  Things that makes the future strange will be people and social change.

TP: Don't need science to deal with some future people.  What will be the results of being able to make your own personality?  Human beings forced with identity questions. 


Fanzine Reviews

By Ted White


THEY MADE US DO IT #2, Autumn 2002 (Max, editor & publisher; probably available for "the usual" (letters of comment, contributions, or fanzines in trade) or send $1 for a sample copy; 20 Bakers Lane, Woodston, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire PE2 9QW, England)

Max (who uses that name alone) is one of the brightest new lights in UK fandom, and won this year's FAAN Award as Best New Fan.   They Made Us Do It (subtitled "A genzine by Max") is the successor to Max's "perzine" (personal zine, written entirely by the editor), They Made Me Do  It.   "Some work really is crying out to be committed to paper, no matter how happy it is sitting there on the internet.  This zine grew legs, but it's definitely still the same fanzine.  I think there will be more.  I might even relent on the artwork and LoC [letters of comment] Column stance.  They're not here this time but next time, who knows?"

What is here this time is content, in an austere but attractively simple package:  Ten pages of single-columned type with wide margins, without art or gimmicks.   I'm reminded of the simple, straight-forward, all-typing mimeographed fanzines of several decades ago.  Hardly anyone uses a mimeograph any more and Max is no exception.  The pages are computer-typeset and printed/copied on canary paper.  But there is a warmth which belies the simplicity of presentation.

There are four pieces in addition to the short inside-cover editorial from which I've quoted.  Simon Bradshaw's "Watching Falling Stars" describes watching the Perseid meteor showers with contrasting sections (in italics) which provide an objective description of the history of one dust particle in that shower.  Ang Rosin provides in "Gathering Rain" what was once called a "mood piece" in one page, its perfect length.  Max's own "July 4th, Kenwood Beach" is the longest piece, a detailed narrative about swimming in the Chesapeake Bay at midnight (and, not surprisingly,  getting stung by what we always called "sea nettles" - jellyfish), while visiting Nic and Bobbi Farey.  And the final piece, "Life Without Anne" is by Douglas Spencer, whose wife died one year earlier.  It's heartfelt but free of sentimentality.

          None of these pieces discusses science fiction, or, for that matter, fandom.  Yet each is permeated with fandom in its own way:  each is a personal communication from fans to fandom, a product of the community of fandom.

This is the innermost circle of fannish fanzines:  writing about one's personal experiences and concerns for one's friends.   It can be done well or poorly, depending on who is doing it.  In this case it is done well.  Max listed no price, but I'd suggest sending at least a dollar to help pay the postage.


Reviews of Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce and Restoration  by Carol Berg

Reviewed by Madeleine Yeh


   The last book of a trilogy or quartology should have definite characteristics, not needed in the beginning or middle books.  It should finish the story, make sense of all foreshadowing and leave the reader with a sense of finality and satisfaction.  The books in a continuous series like Bujold's Vorkosigan novels or David Weber's Honor Harrington can leave their fans with a feeling of "A little more please?"; but a classic trilogy  should come if not to the end of the Universe, then at least a pause in the story.  I also believe that a good last book should drive me to reread the earlier volumes, either for their own sake, or to see how the stories change now that the ending is known.  These two are examples of a book that works, and one that doesn't.

   Lady Knight is the good book.  This is the last in a Young Adult quartology about a girl who wants to become a knight.  This is set in the Fantasy universe of Tortall,  think medieval kingdom done small with knights and kings and mages.  The series follows the adventures of Kelandry of Mindelan, a girl who wishes to become a knight.  The normal route to knighthood is to serve as a page for 4 years in the king's court, and then 4 years as  a  squire to some knight.  Kelandry is the first girl to try this route openly.  There is one lady knight living, Allana, heroine of the first series,  but she did this disguised as a boy.  I had been waiting eagerly for this book to come out.  It was suppose to have been published in June, but was delayed till August.  Then I haunted all  the bookstores until I finally found it on September 3 and read it.  Then I read the earlier books again, and again.  I would like to see more stories about Kelandry.  But the story of a girl winning her knighthood, and a child becoming an adult is finished and finished well.

    As a young adult book it's a fairly simple story and a fairly simple universe, but it's very well done.  The character grows but doesn't change into someone new.  In the first chapter of the first book, she defends kittens from bullies, at the end of the last book she is defending people from armies.  This is not a universe where problems magically disappear or can be solved by one great heroic feat.  Kelandry is plagued from the first book to the last with people who do not want a girl to become a knight.  These people do not go away despite any accomplishment on her part.  The earlier books are First Test; Page; and Squire.   The series as a whole is named Protector of the Small. 

Restoration, by Carol Berg, is the last of a trilogy which started with Revelation and TransformationRevelation was really good, a new universe and new characters and a most fascinating hero.  The novel left dangling portents of an exciting future and the completely unexplained mystery of the hero's country.  Seyonne was from a secret country whose people had dedicated themselves completely to fighting demons.  Why?  How?  How long? What are they going to do now?  were left to future books.

  Transformation  revealed more secrets but was a slower and less fulfilling book, but then second books in a trilogy often are. 

  Restoration  was published in August.  I bought it as soon as I saw it.  I read it eagerly racing through the pages to find the ending.  Then I put it down and didn't read it again.  I  didn't look at the earlier books.  There are two wars going on,  one in the mundane world as a would be emperor fights his usurper, and one in a magical universe where Seyonne is fighting a mad god.  The two wars divided my attention so I couldn't follow either one well.  While both wars are  won, the victory isn't satisfying.  Like finishing dinner and still feeling the need to go out for a banana split.


                                       The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers

                                                         New Line/Wingnut, 2002

                                                  Reviewed by Sue and Lee Strong


            "Wonderful, but not as wonderful as Fellowship."  -- Sue Strong


            As usual, Sue is right.  This is a wonderful film, full of color and courage in a magnificently realized exotic setting.

            Except for the initial scene -- a brilliant expanded flashback to the battle on the bridge of Khazad-dum --, the story picks up where The Fellowship of the Ring left off and plunges forward.  The complex tale interweaves three major subplots following the adventures of Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin, and Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas across central Middle-Earth.  The former attract the attention of the tormented creature Gollum/Smeagol, who becomes their treacherous guide to the nightmare land of Mordor and the developing Mordor-Gondor "battle for Middle-Earth."  The latter join up with the horselords of Rohan, and fight the epic medieval battle of Helm's Deep in this film's military climax.  Meanwhile, Merry and Pippin met the legendary Ents and attempt to persuade the reclusive "shepherds of the trees" to join the fight for freedom in Middle-Earth.

             While the movie departs somewhat from the book -- primarily to develop the romance between Arwen the Elf and mortal Aragorn --, this is truly a superb adaptation of the classic fantasy novel.  The multiple plot threads are developed nicely, with lots of action and character development to keep things lively.  We meet a number of interesting major and minor characters, including the noble Rohirrim Theoden, Eomer and Eowyn, patriotic Faramir of Gondor, and the stately Treebeard.  And the character development begun in the first chapter continues here, notably with Frodo falling increasingly under the spell of the Ring and Aragorn emerging as a true leader.  I also found the deeper but contrasting depictions of Gimli and the orcs especially interesting.  The breathtaking cinematography and evocative dialog wonderfully illuminate Professor Tolkien's towering vision.

            That said, the film does not quite achieve the peak enjoyment achieved by its predecessor.  The action sprawls over considerable landscape and it becomes a little hard to keep all the threads straight.  Perhaps the inevitable fate of middle chapters of series.  Still, this beautiful production suffers only by comparison with the standard set by The Fellowship of the Ring, not in comparison with fantasy films generally.

            We rate The Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers as ««««½ on the five star scale.  -- SS and LS


The Posleen Invasion of John Ringo

                                                    A Universe Review by Lee Strong


            John Ringo weighs in with a 3+ volume series detailing the alien Posleen invasion of Earth and the Galactic Federation in a very near future.  Overall, it's O.K. although I will not be singing many hymns in its praise.

            The Posleen are voracious centauroids who seem to be intelligent beings, but who act really stupid.  Although an interstellar species, their main tactic is to land 12 billion beings and swarm over anything in their path, eating all the dead they create.  Fortunately, they're not too good at fighting rivers, mountains, cities and fixed fortifications supported by plenty of artillery, which means that Earth, especially the United States, has a fighting chance.

            Earth is somewhat assisted by a rather unimpressive Galactic Federation including the sinister Darheel, the industrious Indowy and the ultra-sneaky Himmit.  The Darheel have been manipulating the Federation to their own satisfaction and Earth is simply a particularly competent pawn to be thrown into the path of the  centauroid advance.

            Mr. Ringo has a good grasp of military matters, but I find his literary qualities less impressive.  Many of his characters seem no more than two dimensional, and his plotting has weak points if not outright holes.  In particular, he seems to jump all over the map, introducing side stories and brief views of secret plots, rather than focusing on and exploring ideas in depth.  Mr. Ringo has "seen the elephant" when it comes to the realities of the 21st Century.  Unfortunately, he's weak at bringing his imaginary elephant to life in the reader's mind.  -- LS


                                          A Hymn Before Battle (Baen Books, 2000)

                                                            Written by John Ringo


            This novel is a warm up to the Posleen invasion of Earth but stands on its own fairly well.  The alien menaces of centauroids and sinister allies are introduced, and the Earth forces get organized and go into battle on distant planets.  The main part of the book is a stand up, knockdown fight with nasty, nasty weapons as humans and aliens attempt to survive the Posleen attack on planet Barwhon.  Characterization is rather weak and many plot threads are left dangling, but human courage and initiative face alien hordes in a classic science fiction plot.

            I rate A Hymn Before Battle as ««½ on the five star scale.  -- LS


                                                    Gust Front (Baen Books, 2001)

                                                            Written by John Ringo


            Here Mr. Ringo tells the story that Independence Day only suggested:  a full scale alien invasion of Earth and the ground battles in Fredericksburg and Richmond, Virginia and Washington, D.C.  Steel flies and blood flows in a fast paced action ground pounder, and life is sweet and dear.

            This is a fairly basic multi-part military story with desperate fighting across terrain familiar to most WSFAns.  Personal development is clearly subordinate to blood and thunder, but the result is clean and exciting story.  Good stuff, without the distractions that mar Mr. Ringo's epic.

            I rate Gust Front as ««« on the five star scale.  -- LS


When the Devil Dances (Baen Books 2002)

Written by John Ringo


            This novel illustrates several of Mr. Ringo's weaknesses as an author, including scattering action all over the map, uninteresting but extended sidebar conversations, and more secret plotting.

            The Posleen have now overrun much of Earth, but large portions of the United States are holding out behind massive fortifications.  The centauroids suddenly advance a few centuries in military skill and force a breach in the Wall in Georgia.  While this is going on, there are extended sidebars in Rochester, New York and Franklin, North Carolina, mostly illustrating bad political decisions that interfere with the war.  In contrast, once the aliens break thru the Wall, the author wraps things up quickly with a couple of nukes and a brand new character sniping at the alien survivors.  Along the way, the characters show knowledge and abilities that have not been properly introduced and that leave the reader scratching his head.  My suggestion to Mr. Ringo is to nuke the sidebars and concentrate on a single story at a time.

            I rate When the Devil Dances as ««½ on the five star scale.  -- LS


Immaculate CONception


            The 12/20 Third Friday and last of the year began when Bob, sitting next to Judy banged the gavel.  "It's 9:17" said Judy.  "Let's have a meeting."  Why? went the club?  "It's the last one in 2002, that's why."  Eric asked about the next election.  "May"  Colleen asked, "Are you trying to get someone out of office," Eric confessed to being inspired by recent events. 

            Treasury was $128.50, "getting low again."  Entertainment committee was sick. 

            Capclave past said, "I'm depressed about Firefly.  Get the names of people who worked on the con to me.  No one sent me names so I guess no one worked on the con."  Adrienne called it, "Immaculate CONception."  Sam Lubell for Capclave Current explained that the Hilton Silver Spring gave away our date so we're looking at other hotels and other dates. We are considering the last Disclave's hotel.  <Everyone laughed.  There was a discussion about the possible plagues that could afflict us this time.>  "There arose a pharaoh who knew not WSFA."  Eric suggested that we "Google them before they show up."  World Fantasy Con is in London.  Mike said we won.  Memberships are $100 until March.  Discount for Committee.  Bob said that SMOFcon 04 is online.  Don't know if it will be here or in Annapolis.  It will be the second weekend in December as Philcon is moving its date up.  SMOFs may call themselves secret masters but are neither."

            Erica, for the Austerity committee, asked that people chip money in.  We have an embarrassment of riches tonight.  Keith for publications asked that people find the July 93 and March 94 issues.  We need to change registers.  We need more sponsors for the site.  Cathy, Steve, Nicki Lynch, Scott Hofmann, Bob Macintosh volunteered.

            For new business Mike Nelson said Hal Haag is out of hospital recovering from triple bypass.  He is with his sister-in-law to recover.  Elizabeth is now a homeowner.  Committee has signed off on Scott's thesis.  Steve Smith said story here in WSFA Journal is fictional.  Sam pointed out that makes him a fictional character.  Noreascon is doing RetroHugos for 1953.  Mike Nelson declared himself eligible for best dramatic presentation.  Shirl and Chris are back from purgatory Germany.  Meeting unanimously adjourned 9:46. 

            Attendance: Pres Judy Kindell, Sec & 2003 Chair Sam Lubell, Treas Bob MacIntosh, Trust Scott Hofmann, Trust Eric Jablow, Trust Nicki Lynch, 2002 Chair Mike Nelson, Bernard Bell, Adrienne Ertman, Cathy Green, Bill Jensen, Keith Lynch, Richard Lynch, Barry Newton, Judy Newton, Steven Smith, William Squire, Michael Taylor, Ivy Yap, Madeleine Yeh, Shirl and Chris Hayes.


New Year's Resolutions of the SF Stars

By Samuel Lubell


"I won't go crazy and try to destroy the world again, no matter what.  And no going into caves without carrying weapons." - Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer


"The next time I discover an attempt to steal valuable items or a chamber full of secrets, I'm gonna tell a proctor or someone.  A school the size of Hogwarts must have someone in charge.  They can't always depend on the students to solve their problems, can they?" - Harry Potter


"No more side trips to scenic Gondor or whatever.  Next time, I'm taking the direct route.  And I'm using a map!" - Frodo Baggins


"Still not king.  Resolution: Change that." -  Aragorn the Ranger.


"I will regain my place in Connie Willis' affections." - Harrison Ford


"I will write a short story, under 100,000 words" - Robert Jordan


"I will stay in touch with Starfleet and follow their orders precisely to set a good example for the captains who will come after me" - Enterprise's Captain Archer.


"I will stop getting these full body makeovers every decade or so," - James Bond


"I will send copies of my trilogy to all Christian right leaders who have tried to ban the Harry Potter books," Philip Pullman.


"Our next acquisition will have something real - hey, why not real estate?"  -- AOL/Time-Warner

"We declare a moratorium on the number of years a dead writer can continue to write books.  We will find out how long it takes a dead man's hand to completely decay and rule no more posthumous collaborations after that date." - the publishers of science fiction.


"I will quit writing.  This year I mean it.  No more monkey on my back.  I'm gonna get one of those Patches they make special for authors made with pure laserjet toner." - Stephen King.