The WSFA Journal February 2003

The WSFA Journal

The WSFA Journal February 2003

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

Edited by Samuel Lubell

After Columbia
Email List's Birthday
WSFA is Leaking
Fanzine Review
Note from Rebecca Prather
Stars and Stripes Triumphant by Harry Harrison
Wrinkles in Time
The Speed of Dark
Worlds Apart
What If
Gummi Eggs and Mustard Pretzels
Learning Curve
Still Looking for Back Issues

After Columbia

By Samuel Lubell


            The debris of America's space dream lies scattered throughout the Southwest.  The space shuttle Columbia and her seven-person international crew are lost.  And, amidst the stories of the crew's heroism, the attempts to find out what went wrong, and the beginning stages of the blame game, are voices calling for the abandonment of manned space travel.  There's no need to risk American lives in space, they say.  There's no gain to the space shuttle other than to support the space station and no reason for the space station other than a destination for the shuttle.  But the seven heroes of  Columbia knew the risks and obviously thought their work in space was worth the chance they took.  It is up to us to ensure they did not sacrifice their lives in vain.

            Right now, there are people living in space.  This dream of mankind for centuries is in our time a reality.  And how do we react?  For the most part, the continuing conquest of space is ignored.  The only time the media focus on space exploration is when something goes wrong - the collapse of the Mir space station, Challenger, and now the Columbia explosion.  No wonder the public thinks so little of the space program - all they see are the disasters.

            Why go into space?  Why go anywhere?  The question could have been asked of Columbus, of Lewis and Clark, of Admiral Perry.  We go because it is there and because we humans have a curiosity that drives us to explore. 

            But there are stronger reasons to go.  The Earth, rich as it is, has limited resources.  Eventually, mankind will exhaust them.  The Earth, spinning in space, is a single target; as long as humans are limited to our single globe, we are subject to extinction should something happen--manmade or natural disaster--to our planet.  Overpopulation is another driving force.

            Of course, here in the WSFA Journal, I'm hardly addressing the anti-space faction.  But there has to be more that fans can do to make our stories of landing on Mars and exploring beyond our solar system come true.  We need to show our support of NASA and of space exploration generally.  We need to answer those who say that space travel is too dangerous and has too little payoff.  We need to press for more coverage of space successes, so that the public sees more than just the failures.  And we need to encourage politicians who might be inclined to pull back after this disaster to instead move forward, to challenge mankind with the inspiring goal of landing a man on Mars.


Email List's Birthday

By Keith Lynch


On February 11th, the WSFA email list will be one year old. Any past or present WSFA member can:

* Subscribe to the list from the email address of their choice, in which case they'll instantly get a copy in their electronic mailbox of each message anyone posts to the list.  Contact me (Keith Lynch, to subscribe.

* Post to the list, even if they're not subscribed. They can do so from any email address, without any pre-arrangement.

* Read messages in the complete online archives, at [please contact Keith Lynch or see the hardcopy Journal for this URL]. (Please don't post this URL anywhere, or place it on any public web page, to ensure that nobody but WSFAns sees the archives. Thanks.) These archives are indexed by date and by sender, and should never be more than a week behind.


The average list volume over the past year has been eleven messages per day.  Over the past six months, the average has been just five messages per day.  Most messages are short.

37 people have posted to the list.  There are currently 27 subscribers, including our vice president, our secretary, all three trustees, this year's Capclave and WFC chairs, and myself.

Messages are never censored, edited, or held for approval.  Anything and everything is on topic, especially anything that might be said or asked during or after a WSFA meeting.  Announcements, discussions, queries, ads, complaints, praise, or anything else.

However, to protect list members against spam, viruses, web bugs, and overflowing mailboxes, messages in HTML and messages with attachments are blocked.  If your mailer defaults to sending in HTML, please see for details on how to turn it off. Messages from sites in the RBL or in Argentina, China, Korea, Nigeria, or Taiwan are also blocked, for the same reasons, but this shouldn't affect any WSFAns.

By "spam" I mean the flood of unsolicited bulk email sent by a few hundred criminals worldwide, using automated programs that send messages to many millions of email addresses per day.  I do NOT mean any messages sent by WSFA members, whether or not those messages are commercial in nature.  Any and all plain text messages from WSFA members are welcome.

The address for posting to the list is [please contact Keith Lynch or see the hardcopy Journal for this email address]. Anything emailed to that address by a WSFA member will immediately go to the list.  Anything emailed to any other address will not go to the list.

This is a very low budget operation ($0.00).  Obviously, a WSFA.ORG email address would have been nicer than a KEITHLYNCH.NET address, but WSFA.ORG only serves static web pages, and has no email addresses associated with it.  (I suppose a CAPCLAVE.ORG address could be set up for the list if there's any interest.)

KEITHLYNCH.NET is hosted by PLETHORA.NET in Minnesota.  This domain has the advantage that I "own" every possible email address on it, so I can simply decide that one of them will go to the list.  But the list itself is actually running on PANIX.COM in New York City.

This is not a Listserv, YahooGroups, or Topica list, so you will never see ads on the list or on the archives of the list, other than ads that the posters themselves choose to send.  (Some senders have ISPs which attach short ads to the end of their post.  I do my best to snip those out of each post, but I never snip out anything that any WSFAn intended to send.)  This also means that nobody but the sender gets to claim copyright on the postings, that your email address will never be sold, harvested, or given away, and that cookies, JavaScript, ActiveX, Flash, Acrobat, and plug-ins are never required to view the archives, which are equally accessible to every browser.

Neither is this a Usenet newsgroup like rec.arts.sf.fandom, which can be posted to and read by everyone in the world who is online.  This list is only for past and present WSFA members.

Subscribes, unsubscribes, and archive updates I handle manually. Usually within a day.  Except archive updates, which are usually once or twice a week.

It's my hope that all WSFA members will subscribe, and will regularly post interesting and informative messages to the list.  And that all online discussions among WSFA members be conducted on the list (other than one-on-one discussions or discussions that should be kept secret from some WSFA members for whatever reason).  Please see [please contact Keith Lynch or see the hardcopy Journal for this URL] to see who the current subscribers are.

Please email me ( if you want to subscribe, or if you're reading this online and want to know the URL for the archives and the email address for posting to the list, which are in the hardcopy WSFA Journal but not the online copy of the WSFA Journal, since the latter is often read by non-WSFAns.


WSFA is Leaking


The 1/3/03 meeting began at 9:18.  Cat Meier (I think) took notes in the secretary's absence.  <Thanks bunches!> Treasurer's Report $268.50.  Dues are due and payable.  WSFA mugs left over from 1980s are $10.  Money goes to WSFA.

Special Hostess announcement.  We have a leak downstairs.  The meeting was moved upstairs.  Bad puns fly.  "We did not hit an iceberg."

Capclave present wasn't.  Sam needs to talk to Peggy Rae about contract with Silver Spring Hilton.  Elspeth needs assistance with basic hotel research.  Elizabeth Twitchell will help.  Elspeth is meeting with our old New Carrollton Hotel.  Smofcon 04 is basically ours as no one is running against us.  Capclave Future artist GOH is Butch Honeck.  Hotel Liaison is Elizabeth Twitchell.  World Fantasy Con has two new committee people.  Peggy Rae is doing Hospitality.  Marty Gear is doing banquet.  The Progress Report is going out sometime in January  "Lurching along like a newborn Cthulhu."  "He's got his mother's tentacles."

Activities committee was hacked again.  Will get her computer back together and provide info to the website.  The Austerity committee says to bring food and an industrial vacuum.  Publications committee reported that we are online from Dec 92.  Fifth Friday hostess Elizabeth Twitchell will show off her new Condo.  Directions will be on website. 

There was no new business.  Hostess said new recycling bin and no paper towels as toilet paper please.  Judy said that tomorrow at Peggy Rae Sapienza's will be a mailing for the student contest.  John Pomeranz thanks all those who came to the New Year's party and to all those who didn't "We were very crowded."  He just came back from the Kennedy space center and pronounced it "very cool".  Someone left a coat at the New Year's party.  If you are missing one, ask them. 

Fan funds are holding elections in future, for both TAFF and DUFF.  Nicki Lynch is selling the new Mimosa issue for $3.  Rebecca is looking for a ride to Torcon, happy to pay for gas.  NPR's Talk of the Nation interviewed Bruce Sterling.  This should be on the web.  UK hardcovers and paperbacks on sale.  Today is JRR Tolkien's eleventy-first (111th) birthday.  Next Saturday is BSFS's 40th anniversary at their clubhouse, a party may start at the Gillilands.  Meeting unanimously adjourned at 9:39.

Attendance: Pres Judy Kindell, Treas Bob MacIntosh, Trust Scott Hofmann, Trust Eric Jablow, Trust Nicki Lynch, 2004 Chair Lee Gilliland, Bernard Bell, Adrienne Ertman, Alexis Gilliland, Cathy Green, Jim Kling, Elspeth Kovar, Keith Lynch, Richard Lynch, Cat Meier, Walter Miles, Kathi Overton, John Pomeranz, Rebecca Prather, Judy and Sam Scheiner, George Shaner, Steven Smith, Victoria Smith, Elizabeth Twitchell, Mike Walsh, Madeleine Yeh


Fanzine Review

By Ted White


BANANA WINGS #18 (Clair Brialey, 26 Northampton Road, Croydon, Surrey CR0 7HA, UK, and Mark Plummer, 14 Northway Road, Croydon, Surrey CR0 6JE, UK, editors; e-mail to; apparently available by editorial whim since no requirements or price is listed - but send at least a couple of dollars to cover the postage)

It's been a while - more than a year - since the last issue of Banana Wings appeared, but this issue is well worth the wait.  Indeed, BW #18 is one of the best fanzines to appear this year.

Physically, BW is handsomely produced, using double-columned computer typesetting - as most fanzines do now - printed by photo-offset or a similar means of copying, on sheets of paper measuring  a bit over 11 inches by 16 inches, folded and stapled, resulting in 48 pages of material.  The covers are on green paper, the interior pages on white. 

There is relatively little art and most of that is decorative Egyptian-styled work apparently copped from a Dover book, but it is attractively placed in stylish but functional layouts.  The sole exception is Steve Stiles' two-page comic strip, "Steve Stiles, Martyr," which engagingly tells an embarrassing story from his elementary school days.  Stiles is unquestionably the best artist contributing to fanzines these days and his strip is a coup for BW.

But the star of the issue is Michael Abbott's "Fifty-Seven Fanzines and Nothing On," a "review of fanzines given out at Plokta Con v2.0, with digressions."  Using the conceit of a "Fandom Channel," Abbott spends the better part of seven pages discussing eleven fanzines in knowledgeable detail.   This is the kind of in-depth fanzine-reviewing which I love to read and have occasionally written, but which is far beyond my purview here.  

           Banana Wings is doing with this piece and several others this issue what is called "fanzines talking to/about other fanzines" - the kind of cross-commentary which links fanzines into an overall community.   Another word for this is "feedback" - intelligent, thoughtful commentary which rewards both the casual reader and those whose works are being discussed.   As Max points out in "Greying Fandom," "SF isn't special any more.  It's everywhere.  Not everyone gets it.  Some people want a nice romance movie or a charming nature documentary.  But those who do?  They're not fandom.  To be part of fandom you have to choose to be in it."  And in "The Enchanted Duplicator and Other Fables of Fandom" Andy Sawyer remarks on the "distinction between being a fan of science fiction and a science fiction fan."

          There are seven main pieces in this issue of BW; besides those mentioned are pieces by Cardinal Cox, Ron Bennett and Tanya Brown, as well as a thoughtful exchange between Gregory Pickersgill and John-Henri Holmberg which first appeared on a private e-list.  In addition there are editorials and editorial bits (short bits scattered through the issue) by Claire and Mark and six pages of letters.

          I recommend Banana Wings highly and hope to see it regaining a more frequent schedule.


Note from Rebecca Prather


I just registered for the Toronto Worldcon. Now I'm hunting for some reasonable way to get there.

Please get the word out in any and all ways that you can ASAP that I'd like a ride and would be happy to share costs, pay gas, or whatever.

Also, I'm looking for a ride to and a female roommate for the Boston Worldcon.  I'd  be happy to share costs, pay gas, or whatever.  What I hear in this regard will influence whether I register before the price goes up at the end of Feb.

For either con I'd be happy to meet a driver anywhere in the DC area.

Rebecca Prather - phone 703-534-2274

Stars and Stripes Triumphant by Harry Harrison

(New York: Ballantine Books, 2003)

Reviewed by Lee Strong

I say, Samuel, this is a delightful little book about the American liberation of Great Britain in 1865!

What? You say that you don't know that this is the third book in Mr. Harrison's epic of the Anglo-American Wars of 1861-65? Deuced shame, that. They're ripping good reading... as long as you're not a Englishman.

It seems that, in Mr. Harrison's world, the British rather foolishly intervened in the American Civil War of 1861-62 as a result of the Trent Affair going the wrong way (Stars and Stripes Forever). An American captain seized Confederate commissioners off a British ship in violation of international neutrality laws. Well, the foolish part occurred when the Britons attempted to land an army in the Confederate States and, mistaking the Confederate Stars and Bars for the Federal Stars and Stripes, attacked their nominal allies, the Confederates. This provoked a reunion of the two American nations and their joint counterinvasions of Canada and the British West Indies... now called the American East Indies, those islands being east of the American continent, don't you know.

In this book, Anglo-American tensions escalate as a result of British revanchism and mistreatment of its Irish population (Stars and Stripes in Peril). The reunited Americans build a powerful fleet armed by that ingenious Swedish-American inventor, John Ericsson, and give Johnny Bull what for! When the British attack American commercial shipping to Europe, the Irish and Americans land forces in Liverpool and Cornwall to distract British attention, but then deliver a devastating right hook to London. Generals Sherman and Lee's brilliant campaigns succeed magnificently and Queen Vicky... er, private citizen Victoria Saxe-Coburg-Gotha is sent packing off to the Island of Wight.

As I said, it's a nice little book, but rather clichéd. The Americans are brilliant militarily and scientifically while the British are dull, bullying imperialists. I found the collapse of British morale after two or three battles rather unlikely, especially since Mr. H has consistently emphasized British determination. The book's triumphalist neo-Victorian style lends a certain chauvinistic charm if not plausibility. But, still, it's a lot of fun amid so many more depressing alternatives.

I rate Stars and Stripes Triumphant as *** on the five star scale.


Wrinkles in Time by George Smoot and Keay Davidson

(New York:  Avon/Bard, 1993)

Reviewed by Lee Strong


            "Behold the handwriting of God."  -- Publisher's blurb.

            Well, perhaps it's not as dramatic as finding God's signature on the universe, but it's real close to that!  This is an excellent little book about author George Smoot's research into the texture of the universe itself, and the finding that Stephen Hawking characterized as "the scientific discovery of the century, if not all time."  Big stuff, but worth it.

            During the 1980's, the Big Bang theory of the universe's creation came under serious challenge from alternative explanations.  One problem with Bang theory was the assumed smoothness of the Bang in comparison to the present day "lumpiness" of the observed universe.  Smoot and his team set out to see if the universe actually preserved "wrinkles" in the structure of space-time that would be the precursors to the stars, galaxies, clusters and superclusters that we can see today.  This story details their twenty years trek pushing the boundaries of science outward.

            This is real science, not special effects and convenient scriptwriting.  It's mostly the story of designing theories to explain the universe, then designing experiments to test the theories, designing instruments to conduct the experiments, and, finally, patiently analyzing the data to find "the handwriting of God."  In other reviews, I japed about astronomers rewriting the universe:  this is the real story of how they do it, including the trials they must overcome, and the passions that lead them to overcome.  Special effects and light shows are entertaining, but the magnificence of reality is awe inspiring.

            I rate Wrinkles in Time as ллл½ on the five star scale.  -- LS


The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon (New York : Ballantine Books, 2003)

Reviewed by Colleen R. Cahill


 Many of the novels of Elizabeth Moon are military genre works, both in fantasy and science fiction. But she more than swords and tactics, as her Hugo-nominated book Remnant Population shows, with its story on an alien society at risk. In her most recent work, The Speed of Dark, from Ballantine Books, she explores the world of autism. Writing mainly thorough the eyes of an autistic person, Moon gives this work an insider's view of a complex condition.

[The Speed of Dark] In the near future, genetic defects can be removed at birth or during infancy.  No longer are there any autistic children, but there is still a generation that are too old for these treatments.  Lou Arrendale is one of these: a high-functioning autistic adult.  Because of various treatments, he can hold a steady job, live on his own, drive a car and enjoy many friendships. But he is always aware that he is different.  He has learned to interact with others and he tries very hard to make people feel comfortable around him. Unlike many with autism, Lou regularly socializes with what he calls "normals", those without autism, through a fencing club.  Because he is unsure how his counselor or co-workers would react to his hobby, he keeps this a secret, just as he keeps his romantic interest in Marjory, a member of the fencing club, to himself.  Doing and saying the right thing is hard work for Lou, but he manages and has established several solid friendships both among other autistics and those who are not.

Life becomes more complex for Lou after a new manager arrives who feels that the various supports for autistic staff are too expensive.  While he can't just fire Lou or his coworkers, he does discover a new, experimental surgery that could reverse autism in adults. He begins to pressure them to take the treatment or lose their jobs. This is not a simple choice of Lou: if he was no longer autistic, who would he be?  Would he still see the patterns and colors of the world or would he lose the wonder for whirling pinwheels and the complex arrangements of classical music. And would he still love Marjory?  If so, would she find him attractive, now that he could meet her on even ground?

The Speed of Dark has been compared to Flowers for Algernon and it touches on some of the same themes of how disabilities shape our view of ourselves and others.  Because Lou is the main voice of the book, The Speed of Dark gives us a deep look at the inside of one autistic man, his view of society and reality.   I found Lou the most human character in the book: he struggled to be the best person he could and often succeeded beyond his own estimation.  Moon has crafted her experiences as a mother of an autistic son into a sensitive and insightful novel.  I recommend you pick up a copy of this work and read it today.


Worlds Apart by J.C. Miller (Fairfax, Va.: Xulon Press, 2002)

Reviewed by Colleen R. Cahill


The Roswell legend portrays aliens as small, grey beings who look vaguely human. But some science fiction has aliens with a common connection to humans through intelligence, compassion and love, if not physical shape. In J.C. Miller's Worlds Apart, the connections between aliens and humans shows that our shape is not important, but our spirit is. As part of the subgenre of Christian science fiction, Worlds Apart deals not only with the relationship of intelligent beings to each other, but also to their creator.

 In his society, Ellingsworth is not a normal plyth.  Rather than accept things as they are, he questions everything and explores areas ignored by his people.  When he and companion Caraff are forced to leave the tribe, they stumble into an alien.  Appropriately named Soloman, he is the last survivor of an Amera colony that wanted a simpler life than their technological society provided.  Treachery is involved in the mysterious deaths of the other colonists and Soloman fears that a renegade scientist has been tampering with the native plyths, as Ellingsworth's unusual curiosity seems to prove. Eventually Soloman realizes he will have to tell the authorities of this crime, as it is forbidden to interfere with the native intelligent life.  But he finds that a direct approach is not the best solution, as divine forces are involved. A side trip to Earth, a proscribed planet due to its darkness and danger, leads the three aliens to try to rescue a Ameran who is being held prisoner by a somewhat-mad human scientist. This is a nice turn on alien abduction stories with the human kidnapping and experimenting on the alien.

Worlds Apart has action and adventure, combined with a gentle message of the love and guidance of the creator.  Miller does not setup the Amera society as a utopia: otherwise, why would Soloman want to leave such a place?  Nor are humans presented as having no redeeming values. The message in the book is that intelligence is not enough and higher guidance is needed for aliens or humans to strive towards perfection.

Miller shows some great world building skills and gives her characters intelligence, strength and the ability to make mistakes.  The conclusion is satisfying but still leaves room for a sequel, as not all the ends are tied up.  For those who enjoy a bit of science fiction and philosophy, Worlds Apart is a good choice.


What If


          The Library of Congress Professional Association's What IF... Discussion Forum for Science Fiction and Fantasy  presents:

          "Extrasolar Planets"  by  Dr. Helen M. Hart, Computer Sciences Corporation, contracted to Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer Science Operations, Department of Physics and Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins University.    Wednesday, Feb. 12th, 2003 12:10 pm LM-G45, Ground Floor , Library of Congress, Madison Building.


In the future:


 March 12, 2003, 12:10 Tony Ruggiero, author of Team of Darkness Title: "Vampires: New Roles in the Changing World" Pickford Theater, 3rd Floor  Madison Building, Library of Congress


April 11, 2003, 12:10 PM Jasper Fforde, author of Lost in a Good Book Title: "A Reading by Jasper Fforde" Dining Room A, 6th Floor Madison Building, Library of Congress


Gummi Eggs and Mustard Pretzels


            Before the January 17th Third Friday meeting fans joked about wifeswapping, Hexacon II, dog stories, how to get cats to swallow pills and whether Spike has lost weight.  Sam Pierce attempted to bring this nonsense to a close by banging the gavel and saying "Let's have a meeting.  Let's get it over with."  There was immediately a motion to adjourn which the chair did not recognize.  The meeting began at 9:17.  No business was done at the last meeting.  The  treasurer reported $392.97 and announced that dues were due and payable.  Lee asked how many people were paid up.  Bob said, "A good number".  Erica asked how much and was told $10.

            The Austerity committee (Erica) wishes to thank her parents for inedible food like the gummi eggs and mustard pretzels.  Steve said they needed to be washed down with Zima.  Erica said that money and food was coming in which is good.

            The entertainment committee had a story about a person hitting his head with bricks but was pre-empted.  Steve said "We also have penguins doing synchronized swimming thinking they are migrating."  Lee said that the entertainment committee's computer had a nervous breakdown so no activities.

            Capclave Chair Sam Lubell reported that hotel negotiations are following two tracks with Peggy Rae talking to last year's hotel and Elspeth talking to the old Disclave hotel.  I promise you we will have a hotel.  Capclave Future (Lee) was unable to do anything because her computer ibid.  Ditto.  World Fantasy (Mike) said his computer works.  He got last year's mailing list.  But life intervenes.  We'll get forms.  We all will be working on the convention."  Pause.  Someone said, "Well it is a fantasy con."

            Keith said he is still looking for missing issues.  Half of you were members then and must have them.  Scott said that Elizabeth will host the Fifth Friday at her new condo and gave the address.

            New business:  Sam raised the possibility of a book sale.  Erica said that she's not up to it now and Lee said "I'm not crazy.  Well, not crazy in that way."  Mike moved we table this. 

            WSFA had a visitor.  Duff representative Patrick Molloy, guest of the Lynches. The Supreme Court ruled on extremely extended copyrights, supporting Mickey Mouse.  Don't feed Spike candy, he might be diabetic.  Sam P has to report to California in mid-June.  The meeting adjourned at 9:38 as close to unanimous as we get. 

            Attendance: VP Sam Pierce, Sec & 2003 Chair Samuel Lubell, Treas. Bob MacIntosh, 2004 Chair Lee Gilliland, Trust Eric Jablow, Trust Nicki Lynch, Sheri Bell, Alexis Gilliland, Erica Ginter, Jim Kling, Bill Lawhorn, Keith Lynch, Richard Lynch, Candy and John Madigan, Keith Marshall, Barry Newton, Evan Phillips, George Shaner, Steven Smith, William Squire, Michael Taylor, Michael Walsh, Ivy Yap, Duck Dodgers!, Pat Molloy, Marilyn Mix.

 Learning Curve

by Lee Strong


            The translation program had worked as expected.  Now that they were beyond the "Apples are red"/"Vaja is sweet, not sour" stage, both humans and Jilish looked forward to their first serious exchange of ideas.

            Diplomatic Officer Nelson Ngoro stood quietly as Ajawan delicately licked the human's face.  Ngoro then licked his own palm and stroked the Jilish's draconian face, thereby returning the greeting and suggesting the human handshake.

            Proprieties attended to, the three humans sat in camp chairs shuttled down from the Edward Witten.  The two (?) Jilish settled into comfortable positions facing their mammalian visitors.  Almost all of their heads faced the humans and there was a spicy smell in the air.  Science Officer Cassidy sub vocalized, "Anticipation or keen interest.  They want something."  An implanted microphone carried her words to speakers hidden in human ears.

            "Good morning and fragrant breezes, gentle Jilish," began Ngoro.  "We humans have come to your world to learn about your ways and knowledges so that we may add them to our own...."

            With that, the inhuman heads bolted upward, still focused on the visitors, but from a higher altitude.  The spicy smell increased sharply.

            "Just what we wished...," began Ajawan.  The younger (?) draconian interrupted.

            "Yes," breathed Wosije, all heads tightly focused on the humans.  "When will your space dreadnoughts arrive to conquer us?"

            There was a moment of stunned silence shattered by Dr. Cassidy's shriek.  "What?!"

            The Jilish heads jerked backwards, spraying outward, but then returned to their focused position(s).  Almost no heads were surveying the multicolored landscape.

            "Your space dreadnoughts," repeated Wosije.  "Bristling with awe inspiring weapons to insure our submission to your imperial will.  And bloodthirsty space marines to patrol our warrens to prevent rebellions."

            Ajawan's eyes closed in unison.  Cassidy recovered enough to sub vocalize, "Agreement."

             Ngoro's ears were still pained by the Science Officer's screech, but he rallied.  "Gentle Jilish, there seems to be a mistake here.  The Earthly Coalition of Nations has no intention of conquering anyone.  Our own history has taught us that imperialism is a very bad idea, and interstellar logistics seem to rule it out completely.  We are visiting your world for peaceful purposes only."

            Wosije's heads drooped.  Ngoro didn't need Cassidy's comment to recognize the thought(s) behind the action.  "So you're not going to grind us under your two feet... not going to reduce our males to coolies and our females to jadeenas... not going to use us as tools to further your dreams of empire?"

            Ajawan picked up the theme, "Are you planning to incorporate us into your Coalition, replace our culture with a pale copy of your own, harness our industries to yours, or preempt our limited science with your own superior accomplishments?"  His (?) heads sprayed outward, searching wildly. 

            Cassidy breathed, "Bewilderment."

            Ngoro agreed.  "Gentle Jilish, the answers to all your questions is `No.'  We will do none of those things."

            The draconians flattened out, all heads sinking to the ground.  The spicy smell was overlaid with an acrid odor.  Again, the diplomat interpreted their mood himself.

            "Gentle Jilish, if I give offense, please excuse me, but, you seem disappointed that the Coalition plans no conquest.  Is this correct?"

            The draconian eyes closed in unison.  Ajawan spoke softly, "Yes, we are disappointed.  We had so hoped that you would conquer us and add us to your growing interstellar empire."

            "The Coalition of Nations is no empire," contradicted Ngoro.  "Why would you wish to be conquered?"

            Ajawan's body tilted.  His heads swayed back and forth, studying Ngoro's lean frame from several angles.  Finally, he (?) said, "Because we have gained so much from our previous conquerors."

            Wosije's eyes closed in unison.  "This is true.  The Efatapé conquest of 938 overthrew the oppressive reign of the Tasteful Theocracy and instituted freedom of religion.  The Fnushin taught us the use of electricity in 3,208.  The Il-liq-liq introduced computers in 5,944 and both Wenwe Conquests improved our medical techniques."  He (?) went on for several minutes before running down.

            The older (?) Jilish closed his (?) eyes.  "Even our calendar and language are relics of the Chidivan Godkings."  He (?) opened his (?) eyes to stare at the silent bipeds.  "We had hoped that your Coalition of Nations would teach us interstellar travel." 

            His (?) voice changed, becoming louder, less diffident, "Using our own starships to experience the stars for ourselves.  "Not," he (?) paused for effect, "as the servants, coolies and soldiers of others."

            Ngoro smiled broadly - a gesture both races shared.  "Gentle Jilish, we can help you.  You are speaking of learning from others.  Conquest is not necessary.  This is another lesson that we humans learned from our own history.  All we need to do...."

            The Jilish looked up and the spicy smell returned, but the third human interrupted.

            "Excuse me, Ambassador Ngoro."

            "Yes, Commander Tsang?"  The small, neat human leaned forward.

            "Mr. Ajawan, Mr. Wosije, what happened to the various alien conquerors that you mentioned?  We observed your planet from orbit for some time before landing.  We noted the wide variances in your ecosystem and architectures, but saw no actual members of any races except your own.  What happened to these aliens?"

            Ajawan answered, "They were delicious." 

            Wosije closed his (?) eyes in unison.                     


Still Looking for Back Issues


WSFA is still looking for the March 1994, July 1993, and June 1992 issues.  If you have one please contact Keith.