The WSFA Journal

The WSFA Journal May 2004

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

Edited by Samuel Lubell

Morrie The Critic Discusses "The Passion Of The Christ"
Make Them Come Here And Beg
Capclave 2003 Final Account
Review of Burden Of Proof by John G. Hemry
Angel Seeker by Sharon Shinn
The First Category
Barbarian Briefs: Lee Strong Reviews Heroic Fantasy
    The Outlaw of Torn
    Conan the Raider
    Conan the Liberator
    The Dragon Masters
Lee Gets Her Ship Together
The Library of Congress Professional Association's What IF... Science Fiction and Fantasy Forum

                        Morrie The Critic Discusses "The Passion Of The Christ"

                                                By Alexis Gilliland

                                          from the fanzine "Alexiad"


            "Well, yes," I conceded.  "I've heard from several people that Mel Gibson's "The Passion" is anti-Semitic, but you just told me you hadn't seen it."

            "Wa-ay too bloody for my taste," replied Morrie, taking a sip of beer.  "On the other hand, there is enough commentary available to do a perfectly respectable meta-review."

            My eyebrows went up.  "Isn't "respectable meta-review" an oxymoron?"

            "Only for pedants.  Art is also information, and the Inform­ation Age means there is way, way too much art to evaluate--it's like drinking from a firehose.  So you can use Google to find dozens of reviews--some excellent--that provide both a range of opinion and all the salient facts.  After you've read through enough reviews--in the comfort of your own home, and in less time than it would take to sit through that three hour bloodbath--you don't need to experience the stinking movie to know what you think about it."

            I finished my wine and put the glass down.  "Then your meta-conclusion is it's anti-Semitic?  Gibson says he followed the Bible.  Is the Bible anti-Semitic?"

             "The devil quotes scripture to serve his purpose," was the cool reply.  "So can anti-Semites.  Besides, Gibson's claim to be following the Bible is bogus.  He's making a movie, right?  So when the tale he is telling needs some dramatic emphasis which scripture doesn't offer, he invents stuff to punch up his script."  His mouth smiled but his eyes were sad.  "And like Wagner, his art is highly congenial to anti-Semites.  You want examples?"

            A sigh.  "You mean like Hitler?"

            Morrie laughed.  "To be sure, the art of Wagner resonated with the anti-Semitism of Hitler, but Hitler wasn't the only one.  Great art resonates with the masses.  I meant examples from the movie."

            "Which you haven't seen, Morrie."

            "That movie is false to history whether I've seen it or not."  He sprinkled salt in his beer and watched the foam slowly rise.  "Consider the relationship between Pontius Pilate, the Roman Procurator of Judea, and his creature, the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas, a wretched collaborator with the Roman legions occupying his country.  In "The Passion" Pilate is depicted as a sensitive, troubled soul, fearful of the Jews--a Woody Allen sort of guy--whom the sinister Caiaphas manipulates to condemn an innocent man.  Historically, Pilate was more like Marlon Brando's Don Corleone, with poor old Caiaphas doing Pilate's dirty work because he had no choice."  He took a sip of beer.  "In real life it was the Romans who killed Christ, but for going on two thousand years the Roman Catholic Church has held it was the Jews, and Gibson, a devout Roman Catholic repeats that blood libel and underlines it with crayon.  Go on, ask me why."

            "That is a lo-ong way from the movie, but okay.  Why?"

            "Hey, you don't suppose the Pope of Rome is going to admit that the Romans killed Christ, do you?"

            "Bada-boom!" I said, giving him a rim shot.

            "No, it was those bad Jews," Morrie continued.  "Vatican II was held in the shadow of the Holocaust, the great evil of his time which Pope Pius XII had piously ignored.  It never addressed the issue of Roman guilt, but cautiously allowed as how mistakes had been made, and that the faithful should interpret the crucifixion with great care before condemning the Jewish people as Christ killers.  Well, Vatican II was an aberration, a liberal tic in a highly conservative institution.  The Church has been backing off of it for years, recently putting old Pius XII on the track for canonization, for example.  Mel Gibson, devout and enthusiastic Catholic that he is, is making art to propagate the faith.  In that context, propagate is the root word for propaganda."  He took another sip of beer.  "Propaganda?  In Gibson's movie, Caiaphas goes to Golgotha to taunt Christ on the cross.  The gospels do not say Caiaphas did any such thing.  If he had, it would have been a notable--and noted--event.  So Gibson makes up shit to punch up his story, and what kind of shit does he make up?  Evil Jews, is what.  Ask him, and he says, no, no, anti-Semitism was farthest from my intentions, we're just doing that good evangelizing thing.  Well yes, except for the word "just."  You can't do just one thing, and Gibson, besides evangelizing, wants to make great art.  More particularly, he wants to make great Catholic art, to which end he studied the great Catholic art of the Counter-Reformation for hints on lighting, color and composition.  Most particularly, he wants to make art that resonates with the masses, and what well-tested and pervasive ingredient of Catholic art resonates with his target masses?  Anti-Semitism, is what.  Flowing from the heart of Wagner it permeated his music, to resonate with the German people, most notably including Adolf Hitler."

            "Possibly it was the stories Wagner was telling," I suggested.

            "No, no.  If the Jew, Offenbach, had composed Wagner's Ring Cycle it wouldn't have resonated with the masses," Morrie replied.  "Or at least not with the same masses.  Maybe Gibson's anti-Semitism wasn't central to the movie, but it picks up and amplifies the anti-Semitism--well, the fierce Jewish factionalism that can be taken as such--in the gospels."

            I shrugged.  "Maybe, maybe not.  Do you think Gibson's anti-Semitism flowed from the heart, like Wagner's, or was it merely an afterthought, an ingredient added for artistic effect?"

            Morrie added salt to his beer to renew the head.  "A good question, that," he said at last.  "On the evidence of "The Passion" I'd be inclined to say it was an added ingredient."

            "Oh?  What sort of evidence?"

            "Once again departing from the Bible, Gibson cast the devil in his movie.  Not as a player--giving Satan any role in the story would totally rewrite the crucifixion--but as an icon, lurking amongst the Jewish mob as a shadowy agent provocateur."  He took a slow sip of beer.  "Why?  To underline with crayon the fact that Jews are evil.  But Gibson's use of the devil is frivolous to the point of being silly, persuasive only to the unthinking--which does appear to be the vast majority of his audience.  No serious anti-Semite would knowingly make a silly argument, but Gibson is primarily an artist, and he isn't making an argument, he's making art.  Now his art is his argument, yes, but as a critic I tell you that art can only be praised or denounced; refutation is impossible.  At least some iconoclasts are surely frustrated critics."

            The waiter brought me another glass of wine.  "That's a definite maybe, yes." 

            "That's a definite yes, and no maybe about it.  Ask Gibson what the devil was doing at the crucifixion, and he can't give you an answer because there is no answer."

            "Okay," I took a sip of wine.  "Then why were the crowds of Jews so hostile if the devil wasn't working them up?"

            Morrie sat back in his chair and sighed.  "Because of their history, the current events just prior to the crucifixion, events that were also just prior to the start of the movie.  Judea was under Roman occupation, and Jesus had promised the Jews that if they rose up in rebellion, God would come to their aid and throw the Romans out.  They did, God didn't, and the Roman legions stomped the rebellion flat, which one may suppose must have been both disappointing and painful.  Shortly thereafter, the instigator of that fiasco is led off to his richly deserved execution, and the Jewish street looks upon him as the latest in their long tradition of false prophets.  Tradition."  He took a sip of beer.  "Tradition.  But.  Gibson doesn't include any of that stuff.  In my opinion the best movie on the subject was "The Last Temptation Of Christ" which was based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis.  "It wasn't popular, making about $8,000,000, but "The Last Temptation" laid out the history in detail, and was controversial to the max, because it deviated from the gospel to offer a coherent and logical counter-gospel."

            "Such as?"

            "Judas identifying Christ to the Romans because Christ told him to, for example.  Rank heresy, but devilishly plausible.  And there was other stuff, such as an historically accurate but non-traditional cross.  So the preachers were in their bloody pulpits, exhorting their congregations to boycott a movie the preachers had never seen."

            "Basing their sermons on somebody's meta-review, were they?"

            Morrie laughed.  "No, no, they were up in arms against heresy--a meta-review from the Holy Inquisition.  However, for "The Passion," churches are booking theaters for their congregations, because of Gibson's brilliant pandering to the Christian establishment.  The suits of Hollywood will note his gross--currently above $500,000,000--and imitate his shtick, bloody Biblical epics with English subtitles.  Art, including the artful use of anti-Semitism, is beyond them."

            "There are artists in Hollywood," I protested.

            "True, and many of them are Jewish.  They may not be good Jews, but they are not devout Catholics either, so one may hope that Gibson's anti-Semitism for art's sake is inimitable."


Make Them Come Here And Beg


The 4/2/04 (we're still fools a day later) meeting began with Judy banging her gavel at 9:15.  Bob said "Look alive, she's back."  Lee asked every to "Shush Up"  Sam explained that the website moved.  Bob said we had $1,496.56.  Eric suggested we use this to buy some votes <Would that count as lobbying? We're not supposed to do that.>  Bob said that the Insurance will cost us but the good news is no change from last year.  While the bill hasn't come, it will be $500."  Lee made a motion that we let him pay it and the motion passed. 

 Capclave past (03) pronounced himself closed (see final spreadsheet this issue).  Capclave current said she's "Not worried about anything." While Capclave Future said Nada.  Judy called Peggy, said SMOFcon had 80 members.  This led into a debate on whether that was a good number or not, Bob settled it by saying that 80-150 is normal. Hal Haag is doing programming.  There are plans to update the SMOFcon workbook and maybe put it on CD.  Mike Walsh said the current series of SMOFcon started with WSFA.

Alexis for the entertainment committee said he enjoyed watching Richard Clarke shine a light where the Bush administration doesn't want a light shined.  Keith said the WSFA Journal on-line is old enough to drink, but "I hope it doesn't because alcohol and electricity don't mix."  Two lost issues have been found.  One is still missing.  Now that the site is on PANIX, he can look at the logs.  If you connect to the site and it says 20 years are online than that's the old site, the new one has 21.  The only places still getting the old site are Eastern Europe and Verizon <hmmm, does that mean my connection is going through Slovakia somewhere?>  If you want your own WSFA email address see Keith.  The Austerity committee pronounced itself inactive and Lee for Activities said that anyone who is interested in film institute project see her.  They want a list of films.

Trustees have a slate.  For President Sam Lubell, for VP Cathy Green, for secretary Keith Lynch (helped by his brother, "If Richard and Nicki can do a fanzine, so can the Lynches"), for treasurer Bob MacIntosh, for trustees Adrienne, Steve Smith, Barry Newton; and for Capclave Far Future Elspeth Kovar.  Keith said he didn't need this written down since "I have a mind like a steel ... what's that thing?"  Election is in five weeks.  People can nominate from the floor and even win.

 New business: Sam Lubell asked for reimbursement of the $19.90 paid for renewing the Capclave domain name.  This passed without objection.  Barry Newton made a motion to post the WSFA bylaws and constitution. This passed. Eric asked about posting the form to join but the club decided not to put it up.  "Make them come here and beg," said Alexis.  The locations of our meetings are not up.

Old business: Third Friday in May will be at the Madigans, not the Ginters as usual.  There were no takers for Fifth Friday in April. 

Announcements: White powder means the Gillilands have joined a cult against the aunts.  Don't snort it.  The Bucconneer student contest has the first phase of judging this weekend.  Kathi called it "slush pile weekend" and then at 2 Baltimore 98 will have a meeting.  Balticon sent a representative to WSFA.  Rebecca said there is mass insanity in house prices.  Madeleine will be in Kung Fu exhibition.  Used book sale at Stone Ridge.  Lee announced that Peter Jackson's next film after the big ape movie will be based on M. A. R. Barker's novel, Man of Gold. <This was later established as rumor, not fact>.  He won a Toastmaster competition for his vision of life 2,000 years in the future.  Three years ago he weighed 297 pounds.  Now he's down to 234.5 pounds.  Ernest introduced, "Lee Strong, what's left of him."  Lee said that his boss is making jokes that he's only half the man he hired.  But that's not true, the exact percentage is 78%.  I have a note, "Is it better to be a first-class sidekick or a second-class hero?" but no context. The meeting unanimously adjourned at 9:47. 

            Attendance: Prez Judy Kindell, VP Cathy Green, Sec. Sam Lubell, Treas. Bob MacIntosh, Trust Keith Lynch, Trust Steve Smith, 2004 Chair Lee Gilliland, 2005 Chair Mike Walsh, Stan Field, Alexis Gilliland, Scott Hofmann,  Eric Jablow, Elspeth Kovar, Bill Lawhorn, Ernest Lilley, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Cat Meier, Barry Newton, Larry Pfeffer, Rebecca Prather, Judy and Sam Scheiner, George Shaner, Lee Strong, Michael Taylor, Ivy Yap, Drew Bittner, Dan Joy, Sheri Bell, Hugo Gernsback, Elizabeth Twitchell, Bleir Field, Dale Arnold, Kathi Overton, Bill Squire.


Capclave 2003 Final Account
















 $       6,425.00





 $          425.00



Dealers Fees


 $          685.00



Ad Revenue


 $            30.00



WFC Rescue Fund


 $          213.65

(Represents the net loss of the convention)


Banking Fees

 $            83.50



Credit Cards Fees

 $            53.85




Publicity Expenses - Flyers

 $            45.47




Publicity Expenses - Mailing

 $            97.33




Publicity Expenses - Postage

 $          148.00




Hotel - Facility Rental

 $       5,112.53




Hotel - Catering

 $          750.00




GOH Expenses - Diner & Gifts

 $          146.49




Con Badges

 $            50.16




Con Suite

 $          879.73




Program Book

 $          188.10





 $          223.49










 $       7,778.65

 $       7,778.65



Review of Burden Of Proof by John G. Hemry

By Cathy Green


 Burden Of Proof is John G. Hemry's second novel about the adventures of Lt. Paul Sinclair, space warfare officer and sometime legal officer aboard the USS Michaelson, a ship in the spacefaring U.S. Navy of the future.   The first book, A Just Determination, was based on the incident when USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian passenger jet.  This one appears to be based on the incident aboard the Iowa.

The new book starts off with a typical day in the life of newly promoted Lt. j.g. Paul Sinclair.  His ship is on maneuvers to test a new weapon when the test is disrupted by members of Greenspace.  Paul quickly has to change hats from tactical officer on the bridge to ship's legal officer and figure out what the Michaelson legally can do with the Greenspacers.   The weapon test is put off and they return to the nearest space station to hand over the Greenspacers to civilian authorities.  The novel proceeds at a leisurely pace, giving the reader time to get to know the crew of the ship.  We are introduced to Paul, his fellow junior officers, the senior officers of several key departments and Paul's girlfriend Jennifer Shen, also a Lieutenant in the Navy and a former shipmate now serving on a different ship.  While in port at Franklin Station, the Michaelson changes captains and acquires new bridge officer, Lt. Scott Silver, who is the son of a Vice Admiral.   While on the station Paul hooks up with his girlfriend and has an unfortunate first meeting with her father, a respected naval captain. 

When the ship gets underway again to complete the weapons test, Paul discovers he doesn't think much of Lt. Silver or his abilities.  While many of his fellow junior officers agree with him, unfortunately most of the senior officers seem to hold a different opinion.   It is at this point in the novel, about 100 pages in, that the action really starts.  There is a fatal explosion onboard, and unsatisfied with the results of the official investigation Paul, in his role as ship's legal officer, undertakes his own investigation with the permission of the Michaelson's new captain.  Paul comes to a different conclusion than the official investigation, which had been conducted by his girlfriend's father.  As a result, one of the Michaelson's officers is court-martialed.  The last third of the book deals with the court martial and the fallout from Paul having contradicted the findings of Captain Shen.

 While this book is a sequel of sorts to A Just Determination, it works fine as a stand alone novel, so readers should not put off reading Burden Of Proof because they have not read A Just Determination.  I had not read the first book when I elected to read and review Burden Of Proof and it did not diminish my enjoyment of the book or my ability to understand what was going on.  Hemry's background as a Naval officer clearly shows.  The reader gets a real sense of Navy culture and daily life as a junior officer on a ship.  As a trial lawyer, I very much enjoyed the courtroom scenes.  Hemry has a good grasp of trial strategy and evidentiary issues.

            SFRevu's Ernest Lilly, in his review of A Just Determination, noted that while it was set in a spacefaring navy of the future, there was very little in the book to remind the reader that it was taking place in outer space.   Hemry attempts to correct for this in Burden of Proof with discussions of what it means to work in zero or low gravity.  For instance, a female junior officer points out to Paul that the reason many of the women wear their hair short is so that it won't float in front of their eyes and notes that she has become hyper-neat because leaving items lying around unsecured would be a major hazard whenever the ship changed direction or accelerated or decelerated.  My favorite example of such behavior was the fact that anyone serving on a spaceship developed a tendency to anchor himself to large objects in the room, even when planetside. However, it is still a legitimate criticism of the series that it could just as easily be set in the current Navy as a straightforward legal thriller.  That said, I enjoyed the book and I look forward to following the future adventures of Paul Sinclair. 

            Review with thanks to


Angel Seeker by Sharon Shinn
Review by Samuel Lubell

 One of the debates constantly held on Usenet and at SF cons is how vital must the SF/fantasy elements be to a novel for it to be SF/fantasy? If the book has western hero Bat Batston using a ray gun instead of a six shooter or if Romeo and Juliet occasionally look up and comment about the two moons in their planet's sky, is it SF?

I found myself pondering that question as I read Sharon Shinn's Angel-Seeker. This is the fifth book in the Samaria series about a colony planet that's forgotten its origins, the spaceship with an AI computer that everyone now thinks is a god, and the winged angels who songs can cause the computer to rain medicine or send down a thunderbolt. But in Angel-Seeker this backstory from previous books is not explained or summarized, and is barely relevant. For this is a Romance that just happens to take place on an alien planet and would require little more than "search and replace" on some names to be set in the present day.

Actually, it is two romances, that barely intersect plotwise but complement each other thematically. One story is that of Elizabeth who, tired of her life as little more than a servant in her cousin's household, goes to the city where the angels live, and become an Angel-seeker. Angels have difficulty conceiving children and need to mate with humans in order to do so. And a woman who conceives an Angel-child is highly regarded by society despite her usually pathetic past as an angel-seeker who tries to manipulate angels into falling in love with her.

The second story is that of the angel Obadiah, who is assigned a mission to visit the Jansai (trader/nomads) who had sided with the previous archangel and became furious when the new archangel freed their Edori slaves. On his way back from his first meeting, he is shot down in the desert and only survives because a Jansai girl, breaking all customs of her people, provided him with food and shelter while he heals. The two fall in love but Rebekah does not want to leave her family, even though they are making an arranged marriage for her and like all Jansai females, she is kept locked away from the male world. But with the help of her cousin she is able to sneak away for brief romantic visits with her angel, until she is horrified to discover herself pregnant before marriage and therefore subject to the penalty of being sent to the desert to die should her condition be discovered.

This is where the two stories skillfully play off each other thematically. Elizabeth wants an angel baby but falls in love with an Edori worker. Rebekah is not looking for an angel, let alone a baby, but has one fall for her (literally) anyway. Each gets the other's dream yet ultimately each one ends up happy.

What makes this work are the strong characterizations. Elizabeth starts out somewhat bitter because of her life and has to learn how to experience joy. Rebekah still a girl who sees her own rebelliousness as fun, must grow and mature to be a full partner to her Angel. And Obadiah has his own personality quirks and mission. Only Rufus, the Edori, remains less than fully developed although his quest to go to his people's gathering and connect with the other tribes does help fill him out somewhat.

 But is it science fiction? Change Obadiah the angel to Obadiah the American helicopter pilot in Iraq, and exchange the fictional Jansai for Arabs (right down to their custom of keeping the women veiled and hidden from men) and the book becomes a modern day Romance just as easily. (The practice of seeking to have Angel babies could be replaced by the desire to marry the angels/Americans and get a green card.) The science fictional elements in the book are minimal, mostly remnants from the previous volumes that are never explained here. Essentially, save for the desire to make this book fit into the series, there is no need for this plot and for these characters to be a science fiction book at all.

If you are looking for a Romance with a few traces of science fiction, this would be the perfect book and you do not to have to have read the others to understand this one (although there are occasional references to events in Archangel). If you've read the others in the series (which are more science fictional than this) and liked them, than you'll like this one despite the lack of Science Fiction elements (I know I did.) And it would be a great way to introduce a Romance/Mainstream reader to science fiction. But if you are looking for Science Fictional "sense of wonder" or exciting action, look elsewhere, this is not the book for you.

Review with thanks to


The First Category

by Lee Strong


            Following the Gulf War of 1990-91, the European defense community conducted a review of its military capacities.  The review concluded that European defense was adequate for most challenges.  Militarily and technologically, the world was divided into three categories.  In the second category were all the advanced nations:  Europe, Russia, China, India, Japan and Israel.  In the third category were all the "Third World" nations.  Any second category military could defeat any third category nation.  The first category....


            One thing hadn't changed since the Twentieth Century...  government by briefing.  This bragging session disguised as information sharing at least had the virtue of accuracy, if not courtesy.  The Europeans were very polite and their "finger food" delicious.  But, they were so determined to impress their visitor with the wonders of European science....

            After years of investment, that science was paying off on all fronts (in unstated contrast with nations where national investment was determined by individuals).  The American Undersecretary of State for Technological Assessment was duly impressed and made encouraging noises while he listened.

             In agriculture, Europe's state supported farms outproduced any other Earthly nation.  Genetic modification had been banned since the early 21st Century, but classic breeding techniques had created food plants taller and healthier than the farmers.  In chemistry, electronics, and medicine, European laboratories were ahead of any other research effort on the planet.  EuroNet placed computing power equivalent to 100 Albert Einsteins at the disposal of its 500 million citizens, fully supported by 256-color graphics, transsonic audio, dynamic ultralinks, and brilliant personal assistants.  And did so in every language recognized by the United Nations.  The briefer could not avoid working in the joke that a person speaking three languages was trilingual, a person speaking two languages was bilingual, and a person speaking one languages was an American.  His visitor might have been offended but smiled graciously instead.

            The physics briefing was particularly elaborate.  Dramatic advances in optics, sonics, and dynamics were unveiled.  The giant particle accelerator buried under Ukraine had been completed and experiments with electron tunneling showed promise of replacing optical methods in astronomy and public surveillance altogether.

            The climax of the day was the briefing on space exploration and development.  Space stations in Saturn's orbit were mapping the galaxy to an unprecedented level of detail.  The terraformations of Mars and Venus were 63 and 9 percent complete respectively.  European spaceships were systematically visiting all the planets in Earth's solar system, and the Christopher Columbus was outfitting for the big jump to Alpha Centauri.

After a long day of this, the American visitor was tired.  He politely took his leave, telepathed his report to Washington, and teleported home to New Los Angeles, Tau Ceti II for a long weekend.


Barbarian Briefs: Lee Strong Reviews Heroic Fantasy



Pounded out by action author Robert E. Howard

Original Publication 1939; Berkeley Medallion Edition 1977


            Ah!  A red blooded story for red blooded readers!  More genteel fans may also enjoy it.

            Almuric is a conanesque story set on a distant planet.  Our hero is teleported there after running afoul of Earthly politics and law.  Once there, he leads an adventurous life fighting beasts, beastlike men, and manlike devils.  At first, he seems to be simply a brute who's found a planet of brutes, but ultimately he also finds love and realizes the benefits of civilization.  A subtle and satisfying ending for a "simple" blood and thunder stand alone.

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


The Outlaw of Torn

Written by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Original Publication 1914


            Every year around 1 September, I try to do something "Burroughsian" in honor of the Master of Adventure.  This year, I got around to reading his historical romance of Richard Plantagenet, the Outlaw of Torn.  This, frankly, is not the Master's best work despite an odd claim to fame in the Burroughs universe.

            This is a story of revenge and class prejudice set in the reign of Henry III.  His (fictional) son Richard is kidnapped by the royal fencing instructor because of a royal insult and trained to become the dreaded outlaw, Norman of Torn.  He terrorizes the countryside until true love intervenes in the person of the daughter of the King's counselor-enemy.

            This story contains a number of elements that Burroughs would later use in his Tarzan novels, including the first mention of the Greystoke family and the concept that Blood Will Tell.  However, the entire work is rather superficial.  Few of the characters or incidents show much color or development.  Many actions are unrealistic, and depend far too heavily on the idea that a King's son is inherently noble in behavior as well as heredity.  While the main situation is resolved with a dismissive wave of the wizard's cape, many plot threads are left hanging.  All in all, this novel is for the Burroughs completist rather than the casual reader.

            I rate The Outlaw of Torn as «« on the five star scale.  -- LS




Written by Robert E. Howard, L. Sprague de Camp & Lin Carter

Prestige Books Edition, 1967

             Ah!  Red blooded adventure with the Hyborian Age's greatest adventurer, Conan!

            As a subgenre of fantasy, sword and sorcery is almost entirely derived from the pen -- O.K., the typewriter -- of author Robert E. Howard, and this snappy collection shows why.  Conan doesn't worry about holding a job, income taxes, or other people's feelings.  He solves his problems with a stick and life am good!

            This collection opens the barbaric yet vital saga of the rough thewed Cimmerian with Howard's own recap of his mythical but carefully constructed Hyborian Age and traces Conan's early career.  In his first adventure, young Conan faces "The Thing in the Crypt" while trying to escape some hungry wolves.  "The Tower of the Elephant" demonstrates that the uncultured barbarian has a human side as well as thieving skills.  He faces subtle but colorful dangers in "The Hall of the Dead" and "Rogues in the House" with wit and speed as well as muscle.  And later, he goes up against the gods themselves in "The God in the Bowl" and "The City of Skulls."

            If you're looking for personal development, look elsewhere.  If you're looking for excitement, look in on the Hyborian Age.  I rate Conan as ««« on the five star scale! -- LS


Conan the Raider

Penned by Leonard Carpenter

New York:  Tom Doherty Associates, 1986

Conan the Governor


            Ah!  Heroic fantasy continuing the adventures of the greatest fantasy hero of all time, Conan the Barbarian!

            Robert E. Howard's epic hero continues his search for fame and fortune in the legendary Hyborian Age, this time tackling the demanding career of professional tomb raider.  We meet the stalwart Cimmerian tracking down another thief, a task that detours into desert survival and robbing the dead.  Chased out of one catacomb, Conan the Slow Learner makes plans to rob an even bigger and better tomb where he meets living and undead menaces both horrible and delightful.  As always, Conan the swordsman wields his mighty weapon in the dungeons, streets and bedrooms of the ancient city of Abaddrah!

            This blood splattered tome is delightful stuff for the serious escapist.  Mr. Carpenter provides plenty of colorful description, palace intrigue, sinister sorcerers, and mysterious monsters to compensate for the mighty thewed barbarian's utter lack of personal growth and retarded views of women.  No income tax, no air pollution, no moral qualms, solve problems with a stick!  Life is good!

            I rate Conan the Raider as a ««« heroic fantasy on the five star scale.  - LS


Conan the Liberator

by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter

New York:  Tor, 1979


             In this adequate epic, Conan of Cimmeria, the legendary red blooded barbarian, promotes himself to King of mythical Aquilonia.  The first thing the new king needs to do is get himself some better royal historians.  Messrs de Camp and Carter provide plenty of incident but relatively little interest chronicling the rise of the mighty thewed Cimmerian from mercenary swordsman to legendary bureaucrat!

            Our story follows the Cimmerian as he gathers an army to bid for the throne occupied by mad king Numedides but controlled by sinister sorcerer Thulandra Thuu.  Plots and counterplots roil the waters of a straight forward bid to overthrow a tyrant and establish a new dynasty.  Originally the prototype "blood and thunder" man, Conan here shows his military expertise in hammering an army together, his political skills in liberating a suffering land, and even his diplomatic and human side in freeing alien creatures.  A worthy and necessary evolution in the charismatic Hyborian's career.  But, one that ultimately lacks much of the zing and zest that the immortal Howard invested his creation with.  The result is a useful but merely adequate addition to the Hyborian epic.

            I rate Conan the Liberator as ««½ on the five star scale.  If it were written by Noname and Blank, I'd been tempted to rate it lower. -- LS


The Dragon Masters

Written by Jack Vance

Published New York:  Ace Books, 1962


            Classic stories never go out of style, and this simple tale of human courage and low tech genetic engineering certainly hasn't.

            Sometime in the distant future, humans are cowering on the stony planet Aerlith following their defeat in the War of the Ten Stars.  Periodically, the star-faring dragon-like Basics descend on Aerlith to enslave and genetically manipulate the fugitive humans who, in turn, have bred their own dragons for feudal warfare.  Jack Vance's elegant prose makes a moderately complex gee whiz tale of courage and discovery into one of science fiction's enduring gems.  Can Joaz Banbeck defend his fief from the imperial dreams of neighbor Ervis Carcolo as well as the depredations of the Basics?  And what is the agenda of the mysterious sacerdotes?

            I rate The Dragon Masters as ««« on the five star scale. -- LS


Lee Gets Her Ship Together


The 4/16 Third Friday meeting began with Bob yelling "Let's have a meeting" and Cathy in charge.  Sam summed up the last meeting, putting the constitution up and having May's Third Friday at Candy's place.  Keith is looking for the Feb 89 issue.  He talked to Bill and Evan.  We have email addresses.  Richard made a motion to restrict emails to paid-up members.  This passed with no objections.  Judy walked in just in time to hear Bob announce that we have $1,397.90.  Lee Gilliland said, "Let's have a small party."  There was silence.  "Aw, c'mon guys."  LET'S HAVE A PARTY people yelled. "How much chocolate can you buy for that," someone speculated. 

 Alexis for the entertainment committee turned the report over to his wife.  "Everyone here knows I am a Titanic freak," she said.  "I had the idea of doing a blow-by-blow on-line description of the sinking of the ship in real time.  There were 60 people on that conference.  Several sites asked me to repeat it for them.  I spent two weeks researching the tragedy and I'm a little loopy.  I found I get weird when I've drunk a six-pack of Jolt Cola."  Several people interrupted to ask "And that's different from you normal, how?"  Sam said, "And remember, we're your friends."  The Activities committee (Lee again) reported that the Titanic has sunk but she needs someone to tape it.  Capclave present (still Lee) said she had nothing to report except that the Titanic has sunk again.  She mentioned having a sinkable model and promised to sink it at the next meeting.  Erica asked, "How many cans of Jolt Cola have you had tonight?"  Lee said, "None, why, do you have some?"  Capclave future had nothing to report, which was judged anti-climactic. 

The trustees repeated their slate.  Steve clarified, "We do the slate to make sure one person is running for each office.  This is not an endorsement.  People can nominate from the floor but want to make sure someone is willing to do it.  If others are nominated the trustees have to count ballots." Adrienne said that since she was going by the constitution which says the trustees come up with their slate one meeting before the election, she didn't get to give her input in making up the trustees' slate last meeting.  Keith apologized for the misunderstanding.

 Austerity committee wants money in the hat since we're continuing to be austere.  Larry Pfeffer volunteered for Fifth Friday and told his address [censored] in Gaithersburg.

Announcements: Judy said the sf story contest got 600 entries.  The artwork will be judged at Balticon.  Lydia went to Florida and got baked.  Lee G. is on the good ship lollypop.  Steve asked the meeting to pause, "While Lee gets her ship together." Lee announced she is co-chairing a Horatio Hornblower convention.  Eric asked, "Won't it be taken over by the O'Brian folks?"  Madeleine has cookies to represent John Ashcroft to wish him ill.  Ernest congratulated Rich and Nicki for their Hugo nomination in their final year of eligibility and announced the April issue of SFRevu was up.  The Journal is the place for trash - because it is better to keep it in the family.  Drew Bittner was here for his third meeting.  Meeting unanimously adjourned at 9:42 by Cathy's watch. 

Attendance: Pres. Judy Kindell, VP Cathy Green, Sec & 2003 Chair Samuel Lubell, Treas Bob MacIntosh, Trust Adrienne Ertman, Trust Keith Lynch, Trust Steve Smith, 2004 Chair Lee Gilliland, 2005 Chair Mike Walsh.  All officers present.  Carolyn Frank, Alexis Gilliland, Erica and Karl Ginter, Lydia Ginter, Scott Hofmann, Eric Jablow, Elspeth Kovar, Bill Lawhorn, Ernest Lilley, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Candy and John Madigan, Cat Meier, Walter Miles, Barry and Judy Newton, Larry Pfeffer, George Shaner, Lee Strong, Michael Taylor, Elizabeth Twitchell, Ivy Yap, Madeleine Yeh, Drew Bittner, Shirley Aryani, Duck Dogers.


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



20th Century French Science Fiction

by Jean-Louis Trudel


Tuesday, May 11, 2004, 12:10pm, Library of Congress Madison Building, LM-139


Contact Colleen Cahill, for more information. No reservations are needed: open to staff and the public.


The Library of Congress Professional Association's What IF... Science Fiction and Fantasy Forum and The Library of Congress Recreation Association's LC Film Society





From a live, color presentation on January 29, 1961, this is an unusual entry on the anthology series, SHIRLEY TEMPLE THEATER: an adaptation of MAITRE ZACHARIUS, OR THE WATCH MAKER WHO LOST HIS HEART, an 1854 Jules Verne novelette.


Thursday, May 13, 12:00-1:00, Madison Building, LM-139

Future events:


May 13-15, 2004: North American Jules Verne Society Conference: presentations are free and open to the public. Contact BrianTaves, for more information.


June 1, 2004: "A Talk with Lois McMaster Bujold", Madison Building, Dining Room A, 12:10pm


June 8, 2004: Nicholas Meyer, "Science Fiction as Art", Madison Building, Dining Room A, 12:10pm