Editor: Keith Lynch. Assistant editor: Wade Lynch
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Note that there's a brief summary at the end.
The regular First Friday meeting of the Washington Science Fiction Association was called to order at 9:15 pm on August 6th, 2004 at the usual location, the basement of the Gillilands' house in Arlington, Virginia. The president said “... First Friday meeting of August, Nineteen ...” then paused in confusion as everyone laughed at his Y2K error.
Present were President Samuel Lubell, VP Cathy Green, Secretary Keith F. Lynch, Treasurer Bob MacIntosh, Trustees Barry Newton and Steven Smith, 2004 Chair Lee Gilliland, 2005 Chair Michael Walsh, 2006 Chair Elspeth Kovar, F.L. Ahsh, Drew Bittner, Beverly Brandt, Colleen Cahill, Chuck Divine, Alexis Gilliland, Charles Gilliland, Paul Haggerty, Scott Hofmann, Doug Jenkins, Jim Kling, Ernest Lilley, Nicki Lynch, Richard Lynch, Wade Lynch, Michael Nelson, Cate Pederson, Michael Pederson, John Pomeranz, Rebecca Prather, Judy Scheiner, George Shaner, William Squire, Gayle Surrette, Michael Taylor, and Madeleine Yeh. 35 people, including all but one of the ten officers. Ted White arrived after the meeting ended, and Ivy Yap did not arrive at all.
The president asked the secretary if any business was done at the previous (July 16th) meeting. He answered:
TREASURER'S REPORT: Bob said we have $898.48 in our main account, and “about 40k” in our World Fantasy account.
CAPCLAVE '04: Lee said we have a provisional schedule, except for one slot which is being left open until October. We have 57 members, and 15 rooms booked. We have a fan table at Noreascon, in the Hynes Concourse, Exhibit Hall 3, which Lee hopes people will take turns sitting at, since otherwise she won't be able to do anything else at the Worldcon. Everyone should buy a Capclave membership if they haven't already. The price will soon go up. Keith asked if there's a hotel walkthrough tomorrow at 10 am. Lee said no, it's on the 14th, and Elizabeth is in charge of it. Keith said that Marilee Layman is interested in tagging along to check out handicapped access. Lee said Marilee should email her, since Lee has to ok people for the walkthrough. [The secretary emailed Marilee this information later the same night, and the next morning Marilee confirmed getting it.]
Beverly Brandt asked what Capclave was. It was explained that it replaces Disclave.
CAPCLAVE '05: Mike is looking at hotels, including the Days Inn in Reston, Virginia, and the new Marriott going up in Shady Grove, Maryland. He hopes to have a hotel by this year's Capclave.
CAPCLAVE '06: Elspeth is looking at hotels along with Mike, and is hoping we can sign a renewable contract so that '06 can be in the same place as '05. She suggested we need more long range planning.
WORLD FANTASY '03: Mike had nothing to report.
SMOFCON '04: Mike Nelson said “Planning is afoot.” He hopes to produce a Progress Report by Noreascon.
ENTERTAINMENT: Sam looked all over the room for Alexis, and finally found him sitting right next to him. Alexis said the entertainment committee isn't needed, since we're all quite good at entertaining, or panicking, ourselves.
ACTIVITIES: Lee repeated her last months' announcement of her new email list for announcing free movie tickets and other events. People who want to be on that list should contact her. Sam added that there's a free outdoor showing of the original Star Wars movie on Friday the 13th at Strathmore/ASHA near the Grosvenor-Strathmore station on the Red Line. The movie starts at about 8:30 pm, but WSFAns will be gathering starting at about 7 pm. [This event was already on our online calendar of upcoming events.]
IDENTITY: [Identity?] Bob MacIntosh said thirty black WSFA t-shirts have been ordered, using Joe Mayhew's design, in a mixture of M, L, XL, and XXL sizes. We can order more of any size at any time. They should be available at the next meeting.
PUBLICATIONS: Keith said the August WSFA Journal is available, as are a small number of July issues, but he's saving most of the remaining July issues for the Maryland meeting, since no Maryland meeting has seen them yet. [14 August issues were taken by the end of the evening, and he handed one July issue to former Secretary and Journal editor Beverly Brandt.] Also, he would like every member to write a short blurb about themselves for inclusion in the Journal, something like the entries in the Fan Gallery that can be seen online [at http://scifiinc.net/scifiinc/gallery/list/] and at Noreascon, and that Ernest had agreed to take digital photos for that purpose. [Ernest was present and did have his camera.]
BOOK: Ernest said that even though the approval of the $10,000 for the anthology hasn't yet been ratified by a Maryland meeting, that he has spent $30 on an Internet domain name: FutureWashington.com. He has a final letter for the authors, which is being vetted by the committee. He's still interested in suggestions of authors. Elspeth suggested mailing him authors. Cathy, a post office employee, said they would be too large to go through the mail. Rich suggested asking every author in Washington in preference to those elsewhere. Ernest said there are only fifteen slots, and we already have several big name authors lined up. Alexis said Ernest is the editor, so it's his call. Keith pointed out that John's July 2nd motion had said that the approval must take place at two successive meetings, one in Virginia and one in Maryland, and even if it were to be approved at the Maryland meeting in two weeks, that wouldn't qualify. “I lied,” John clarified. He made a new motion that we re-approve the book proposal now, pending the next meeting. The motion passed. Lee suggested that Ernest talk to Alexis about local authors, since Alexis knows local authors and has a SFWA directory.
WORLDCON: John distributed a flier, which said:
The Washington Science Fiction Association presents Campaign Central: SF Authors for First Citizen of Fanistan (aka the WSFA Booth at Noreascon 4's First Night)
The following is description of the plans for WSFA's booth at First Night prepared for discussion at the August 6, 2004 WSFA meeting.
WSFA will create and staff a booth for Noreascon's First Night event on the Thursday of Noreascon (September 2). The booth will be a participatory event at which convention members are encouraged to make speeches and demonstrate in support of famous authors running for “First Citizen of Fanistan” (or some other fictitious office). Prizes will be awarded to those who participate.
The event is designed to be fun and frivolous, in keeping with the intent of the First Night organizers. In planning and conducting this event we are making every possible effort to avoid any chance that people will take our “election” theme too seriously and engage in real-world political debate. (Best to keep that stuff in the hotel bars, where it belongs.)
Candidate will be limited to dead authors, selected by WSFA prior to the convention - people whose strident political views, if any, are so divorced from our current political reality as to seem quaint or cartoonish. We have discussed Verne, Wells, Doc Smith, Heinlein, and Tiptree, and we should probably limit the list to four. The “positions” of the candidates will be two-dimensional caricatures... Wells the Socialist, Doc Smith the Hawk, Heinlein the Libertarian, Shelley the Feminist, Verne the... I don't know... Globalist? Anti-Militarist? Using a pre-defined list and not accepting “nominations” from the floor both helps to prevent a fracas and simplifies production of our signage.
Structure of the Activity
Prepped shills (presumably WSFAns) will present comedic campaign speeches for each author and lead the “spontaneous demonstration” for that candidate. (We're bringing red, white, and blue skimmer hats; pylon-style signs (like the state delegations have); and a few more traditional signs. After a speech, there will be cheering and chanting of slogans (either ones we will have prepared or suggestions of others) and the candidate's name. The speeches and demonstrations will likely be repeated to fill time and attract interest if we get dead time.
After the prepared speeches con-goers will be invited to “compete” by presenting a speech from our soapbox (decorated, wooden box, strong enough to support the most... um... fan-shaped fan, that's labeled something like “Pan-Galactic Soap”). We will provide a poster with printed rules:
- Speech must be less than one minute;
- Speech must be for one of the listed candidates;
- Speech will be judged on humor and appropriateness to author/candidate;
- Anyone referring to a real candidate or election (in the opinion of the impartial moderator is disqualified; Those taking this too seriously will be ridiculed mercilessly by the moderator and given the hook, the gong, or other method of removal (undecided).
Those not given the hook will be given some cheezy prize. (Noreascon is buying gewgaws to give away and issuing prize tickets to each booth operator.)
Throughout this, fans will get to “vote” (pre-printed ballots into ballot box). Every so often throughout the event, we'll update the totals on a tote board as the “returns come in” (i.e. when we get around to counting whatever's in the box at that moment). Ballot box stuffing will be discouraged (maybe we'll get a D.C.-related stamp for people's hands), but won't be rigorously policed (who cares, after all?). We'll likely submit the final results to the N4 newsletter, which can print them or not, as it sees fit.
The main change since the previous meeting is that it's no longer an open election. We have pre-selected candidates. Also, we're avoiding the word “president”.
John asked people to sign up to help. He added that there will be silly hats. When the clipboard reached Elspeth she complained that only nine people had signed up. [The secretary signs things only after the meeting ends, since, despite having two hands, he cannot write two things at once.]
Sam asked how many people will not be going to the Worldcon. Just four people raised their hands. So he said the First Friday meeting on September 3rd will be at Noreascon. It will be open to everyone, not just Noreascon members. [The secretary will put the exact location on our web site as soon as he learns it.]
OLD BUSINESS: Sam reiterated that the Third Friday meeting this month will be at the Madigans'. Keith added the directions are on the WSFA website, and that he has the Madigans' phone number with him for anyone who doesn't already know the way [we've had two regular meetings and one Fifth Friday there before] and who doesn't have access to the Web.
NEW BUSINESS: Rebecca said we should have WSFA member ribbons to wear on our Noreascon badges. Barry said Judy Newton had made the previous batch, which were gold on green and vertical, and that we don't have enough left. Mike Nelson said he's pretty sure Noreascon will be using vertical ribbons. Elspeth will price check them. She pointed out that the more we order the less they cost per ribbon. With some suppliers, the ribbons don't even have to be identical, so perhaps we could piggy-back on some BWSMOF order for various ribbons for various cons. Many ribbons such as “chairman” and “guest” are stock, but “WSFA” of course is not. Bill Squire asked if there's another WSFA. Elspeth said there's an SF club in Wales [wsfa.org.uk], and Sam said there's a TV station in Alabama [wsfa.com]. Sam asked if 100 would be a good number. Elspeth said that's far too few. Barry suggested getting both vertical and horizontal ribbons. Elspeth suggested getting 500, all vertical, with gold lettering. Protracted discussion of the background color was cut off by Lee's motion that “we go ahead and have some ribbons printed up, vertically, gold lettering, on whatever color Elspeth decides, that says 'WSFA,' five hundred of them, so that we can go ahead and put them on whatever name badge we have.” Motion passed. Elspeth asked if she will be reimbursed. She also asked for permission to talk to the other con chairs about ribbons, and was told she doesn't need permission.
Lee asked someone to open a window. Someone did.
Colleen was circulating a clipboard with a list of members' names, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers for people to update. She clarified that these were intended only for one-on-one communication, not for sending an email to every email address in her list, as one person recently did. Contact her to get a copy of the updated list.
NEW TRADITION (as it was called from 1990-1994): Sam asked if there was anyone here for their first time. Doug Jenkins spoke up. He found us via our web site. He's been a fan ever since he learned to read. He went to Dragon*Con last year and is instead going to Noreascon this year. Cate Pederson, Michael Pederson's wife, is here for her second meeting. Paul Haggerty and Gayle Surrette are here for their third meeting. Sam told them how to join. John introduced former secretary Beverly Brandt, who was here for the first time in about 18 years. John said she had just paid her dues for this year.
The secretary made the usual first announcement: Announcements should ideally be submitted in writing or via the email address on the cover of the WSFA Journal, since neither his pen, his memory, nor his tape recorder are perfectly reliable. [Or at least he thinks that's what he said.]
Our hostess, Lee, made the traditional second announcement: Paper towels should not be flushed down the toilet. Also, both cats should be kept indoors.
Mike Nelson announced that we are bidding for the 2011 Worldcon, to be held at the DC convention center and several adjacent not-yet-built hotels. Pre-supports are on sale for $20. Sixty have already been sold. At Noreascon we will be sharing T.R. Smith's Geneva in 2008 party suite on Sunday evening. The bid is contingent on the hotels being built.
He chose 2011 mainly because “we have to claim a year or it's going to be 2040 before we...” at which point Alexis interjected that “2040's a good year.”
Keith said that Eric Jablow had asked him to announce that Eric couldn't make it to the meeting because Eric's father has pneumonia.
Judy Scheiner said her daughter needs roommates at Noreascon. Judy would prefer the roommates be female.
Rebecca woke up in Venice this morning, and took a boat to the airport. It's 4:15 am by her internal clock.
Mike Walsh showed a color photocopy of the cover of his printing of Edgar Pangborn's Davy, which is one of five new books he'll have at Noreascon. He's obtained the US rights to reprint Christopher Priest's Separation. He has books for sale upstairs.
Lee made the traditional last announcement: Once we adjourn, chairs should be moved to the edges of the room.
Meeting unanimously adjourned at 10:15 pm. [There was less than a second of tape left on the secretary's one hour recorder! Amazingly well timed!]
The last people left at about 12:20 am.
The weather was cool and clear.
Summary of 8/6/04 meeting:
September 1954: No meeting on First Sunday due to Labor Day. On Third Sunday, it was voted that now that Frank Kerkhof has left the DC area, meetings would alternate between First Sunday at Dot Cole's in Arlington and Third Sunday at Bob Jones' in DC. 14 members present. For the first time there's some overlap with 2004 members, as Ted White, who had recently joined, was present. (He became president the following year.)
September 1964: First Friday meeting at Elizabeth Cullen's. 20 people present, including current email list member Jack Chalker but no current club members. Joe Mayhew showed off his portrait of St. John. Joe left early, but came back because he had dropped a pencil in his motorcycle's gas tank and needed help getting it out. Treasury $95.65. The minutes include a list of five books borrowed from WSFA's library. Third Friday was in the same location, with 11 people, no quorum. Joe Haldeman borrowed Stapledon's Last and First Men from WSFA's library.
September 1974: WSFA hosted DISCON II, the most recent Worldcon in DC. Club treasury $557.01. WSFA Journal #84 is to be out soon. Son of the WSFA Journal is to disappear, and WSFA Journal is to become “lighter” and have more club involvement. (It was pretty much Don Miller's enormous personal zine, paid for by WSFA, but having little to do with the club. Both TWJ and SOTWJ disappeared within months, when Don Miller left WSFA and founded PRSFS. TWJ was restarted as a four page clubzine three years later, and has run non-stop ever since. Don Miller died in 1982. PRSFS is still an active club (see the article in last month's issue), but has no zine.)
September 1984: First Friday at the Gillilands', Third Friday at the Olivers'. Alexis was congratulated on his new Hugo. A vote was taken as to whether we should continue to have the annual February relaxacons (e.g. Datclave, Datclone, D'Udderclave). The vote was 14 to 12, so the cons will continue. (They lasted one more year.) Treasury: $8,041.39.
September 1994: The First Friday meeting was at the “Baltimore in '98” party suite at the Winnipeg Worldcon, “ConAdian”. Third Friday was at the Ginters'. Erica is expecting a little girl in the spring, therefore, her house will not be available for WSFA meetings in February, March and April. Treasury: $2,568.99
Note that there's a brief summary at the end.
The regular Third Friday meeting of the Washington Science Fiction Association was called to order at 9:15 pm on August 20th, 2004, upstairs at the Madigans' in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Attending were the following 31 people: President Samuel Lubell, Vice President Cathy Green, Secretary Keith Lynch, Treasurer Bob MacIntosh (who arrived late), all three trustees (Adrienne Ertman, Barry Newton, and Steven Smith), 2004 Chair Lee Gilliland, 2005 Chair Michael Walsh, Sheri Bell, Drew Bittner, Colleen Cahill, Alexis Gilliland, Erica Ginter (who left early), Paul Haggerty, Scott Hofmann, Eric Jablow, Jim Kling, Brian Lewis, Ernest Lilley, Nicki Lynch, Wade Lynch, Deidre McLaughlin, Candy Madigan, John Madigan, Bill Mayhew, Judy Newton, Meridel Newton, George Shaner, Gayle Surrette, and Madeleine Yeh. But not Ivy Yap.
The president asked the secretary what had happened at the previous meeting. The secretary replied:
Eric asked what the treasury was, since the treasurer wasn't here to report the current number. The secretary said he didn't have it with him but recalled that there were two numbers, one slightly under a thousand dollars, which was given precisely, and another which Bob simply said was “around 40k”.
The president then called on Erica to make her special announcement. She announced that she is unable to continue to host WSFA. The Third Friday in September will be the last meeting at that location. We applauded her for putting up with us for the twelve years she's hosted us. She then left, to finish packing for her family beach trip.
Candy volunteered to host Third Friday meetings for the foreseeable future.
CAPCLAVE '04: Lee announced that there had been a hotel walkthrough last Saturday. Our space surrounds a second floor indoor swimming pool. The con suite and the gaming room will be adjacent to the pool.
CAPCLAVE '05: Mike Walsh had nothing to report
CAPCLAVE '06: Mike reported that Elspeth had sciatica.
WORLD FANTASY '03: Mike had nothing to report. The books still aren't closed.
SMOFCON '04: Nobody present had anything to report.
ENTERTAINMENT: Alexis reported that Senator Ted Kennedy had been placed on the no-fly list, and had to use all his clout to get off it, which took five tries. The usual way of getting off it involves carrying an official letter, but an Iranian-born ACLU lawyer who got one of these letters says they don't do any good. Brian Lewis said a congressman named John Lewis had also landed on the no-fly list, and by removing himself had also removed a professor in Texas who had the same name. Eric said people are safer when Ted Kennedy flies than when he drives.
ACTIVITIES: Lee said people are needed at Noreascon for the first night mock election activity, and to sit at the Capclave table. She will sit at it from 10 until 2 each day, but other hours are up to the rest of us.
TREASURER'S REPORT: Bob (having arrived when SMOFcon was being queried) reported that we have $898.48 in our main account, and “about 40K” in our World Fantasy account. [These are the exact same numbers as at the previous meeting.] Mike Walsh said we can expect another $10K or so in advertising revenue from that convention.
PUBLICATIONS: Keith reported that the August WSFA Journal was available, as were a small number of July issues. They're both also available online, along with the past 24½ years of issues. Also, the corrected constitution and bylaws are on the website, and he'd like everyone who thinks they know what it should say to look at it and make sure they think it's right. Also, meeting minutes are available on our website within a couple days of the meeting -- you don't have to wait for the Journal to come out. Lee pointed out that Keith also had past versions of the constitution and bylaws online.
AUSTERITY: Eric said that since we have less than $900 and just voted to spend more than ten times that, we should all donate lots of money to the club.
Mike Walsh says the WSFA ribbons should be ready at Noreascon.
We ratified the spending of $10,000 on a WSFA Press anthology about future Washington DC, to be edited by Ernest Lilley. The vote was almost unanimous. (There was one “nay” and one abstention.) Ernest handed the secretary a list of authors: Alan Steele, Brenda Clough, David Brin, Joe Haldeman, L. Neil Smith, Steve Sawicki, Thomas Harlan, Jack McDevitt, and Sean McMullen. All were marked “yes,” except L. Neil Smith, who was marked “sent,” and Sean McMullen, for whom that column was blank. Each is down for a 5000 word short story. Bob Eggleton, also marked “yes,” is down for cover art. The total size will be 60,000 words, leaving room for three more authors. The intention is to break even.
Bob said that the WSFA t-shirts will probably be ready by Noreascon, in which case we can buy them there. The total cost was $420. The price will be between $13 and $15 each.
Eric pointed out that next month's Third Friday conflicts with the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. He suggested that in the future we might want to change the meeting date when there's such a conflict. Lee pointed out that we always meet on First and Third Fridays, even when they conflict with Christmas. [Actually, they never do, since Third Friday can't be later than the 21st, but we have met on other major holidays.] Sam said that members can make a motion to move the meeting date. The secretary said that our bylaws mandate meetings on First and Third Fridays, and that we'd have to amend it to be able to change the meeting date. He asked when the next time such a conflict will occur. Eric volunteered to find out.
Someone objected that if we change the date or location of meetings, people won't be able to find us. The president said people should check our website. The secretary pointed out that there's also a very low volume email list for urgent announcements, including announcements of changed or cancelled meeting dates and locations, which really absolutely every WSFA member should be on, though many are not. [People on the chat list are already implicitly on it.]
Because of this date conflict Eric and the president will miss the September 17th meeting. The vice president confirmed that she will be there.
The president asked how many people were not going to be at Noreascon. A few people raised their hands. He suggested they could hold “a rump session” in the DC area on First Friday. This suggestion got some titters, but no apparent interest. [The secretary will of course announce, and list on the WSFA web site, any event which the stay-at-homes decide to host, if they inform him of it. He will be at Noreascon.]
The president reiterated that the First Friday meeting will be in a hotel room at Noreascon. The exact location will be posted in appropriate places around the con. The secretary said he will place the information on our website as soon as he learns it, if there's an Internet Lounge, which it appears there will be.
NEW TRADITION: The president asked if this was anyone's first, second, or third meeting. Deidre McLaughlin spoke up.
The secretary made the usual first announcement: Since he has an excellent memory, is writing everything down, and is tape recording, announcements have a pretty good chance of being rendered correctly if they are submitted in writing. Also, there is an attendance sheet floating around which people should sign in on.
Our hostess, Candy Madigan, said the main bathroom door doesn't latch, and it's ok to feed the dog anything except chocolate. The white bunny bites, the black bunny doesn't. If you want a bathroom whose door latches, go through the bedroom. That bathroom door will latch, but you have to watch where you put your feet. She also said it's cooler downstairs, but moldy and mildewy due to serious floods in July, so people with allergies might want to remain upstairs after the meeting. There's another bathroom downstairs.
Colleen reported that Dick Roepke had broken his ankle, and will be off his feet for three months. Cards are welcome. His address is on the WSFA list. If your information on the list needs to be updated, please see her. [By “WSFA list” she means a list of names, street addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers which she maintains. It is not on the web, and has no connection with our email chat list.]
Scott reported that Independence Air was advertising flights to Boston for $54 each way. (There were groans from people who had already booked their tickets.)
Brian said he's driving to Noreascon, and has room to carry stuff for people, but not enough room to carry another person, nor can he carry anything perishable.
Judy has tickets to the Lord of the Rings exhibit at the Boston Science Museum for Thursday morning. [Presumably she means the Thursday of Noreascon.]
Nicki had two one-day passes to the Montgomery County fair, worth $7 each. Both were immediately snapped up.
Eric's 70-year-old father was hospitalized for two weeks with what was thought might be a heart attack or lung cancer, but turned out to be pneumonia. He's now resting and recovering at home. While he was still hospitalized, his sister died of lung cancer. The funeral was yesterday. Eric's mother is in “an insane asylum”.
Keith asked if Walter Miles was present. Since he wasn't, Keith reported that Walter had reported on the email list that he is now the father of Zahra Agnes Miles, born August 12th.
Keith reported that he has been out of work for two or three years. After his employer went out of business three years ago, he personally took over maintenance for the remaining clients. This continued until the last client declared bankruptcy two years ago. Now he has gotten a letter demanding the money back that he was paid during the last three months before the bankruptcy was declared, on the grounds that his being paid was a “preferential transfer”. It is of course far too late for him to get in line with the other creditors, so he would get none of it back. He asks for legal advice and for employment prospects -- programming, sysadmin, etc.
Mike Walsh has a full page ad for his Old Earth Books in the current Asimov's, opposite the table of contents. It includes quotes from Lloyd Alexander and Harlan Ellison. He has books for sale, including the non-fiction Guilty of Literature by Terry Pratchett. Other books he will have for sale at Noreascon include A Mirror for Observers and Davy by Edgar Pangborn, and Way Station and City by Clifford Simak. He spent $35,000 to have these printed, so he hopes he can sell them at Noreascon.
The president announced, for anyone who came in late or wasn't paying attention, that First Friday will be at a hotel in Boston, Third Friday at the Ginters' for the very last time, and Third Friday in October will be at Capclave. Subsequent Third Fridays will be at the Madigans'. [First Fridays will remain at the Gillilands', with the possible exception of December's, which may be at SMOFcon.]
Lee announced that Terry Pratchett would be signing books at 7:30 PM on September 10th at the Baileys Crossroads Borders. Lee hopes to arrange a dinner beforehand.
The meeting unanimously and noisily adjourned at 9:56 pm. (41 minutes.)
After the meeting, Candy baked us lots of cookies, one tray at a time, so they were always fresh and hot.
The last people left at about 11:50. The weather was warm, humid, and overcast all evening. It looked like it might rain, but it didn't.
Summary of 8/20/04 meeting:
This is excerpted from our online calendar of upcoming events, at http://www.wsfa.org/calendar.htm. I recommend you check it frequently, in case of last minute additions or corrections. This is a regular feature of The WSFA Journal.
If you plan to take Metro's Red Line to any of these events, please allow extra time due to chronic delays on that line.
The regular First Friday meeting of the Washington Science Fiction Association was called to order at 9:08 pm on September 3rd, 2004 in room 109 of the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts.
Present were President Samuel Lubell, Vice President Cathy Green, Secretary Keith Lynch, Treasurer Bob MacIntosh, Trustee Barry Newton, 2004 Chair Lee Gilliland, 2005 Chair Michael Walsh, Kent Bloom, Joanna Dionne, Wayne Dionne, Alexis Gilliland, Paul Haggerty, Jack Heneghan, Dan Hoey, Scott Hofmann, Brian Lewis, Nicki Lynch, Richard Lynch, Judy Newton, Cate Pederson, Michael Pederson, Rebecca Prather, Tom Schaad, Gayle Surrette, Michael Taylor, Erin Trouth, Mike Zipser. 27 people. Someone wrote in Hugo Gernsback and Ivy Yap, but they weren't seen by the secretary.
President Sam Lubell introduced himself, the vice president, and the secretary, then asked the secretary if any business had been done at the previous meeting. The secretary replied that several things had been done, the most significant of which was bringing back WSFA Press to publish an anthology on future Washington DC, to be edited by Ernest Lilley.
The treasurer reported that we had more than $40,000.
Capclave '04 reported that she had sold three more memberships so far at Noreascon.
Bob reported that we will be hosting SMOFcon in December, and described what that con is.
Keith reported that there was one copy each of the July and August WSFA Journals on the table in the meeting room to be looked at, plus one additional copy of each issue available in the fanzine lounge. Lee suggested Keith bring the issues on the meeting room table to the Capclave table the next day. [He did so.] Keith also announced that the past 24½ years of WSFA Journals were available online at WSFA.ORG. And that all WSFAns should look at the fan gallery two floors up, since he'd like to create a similar gallery just for WSFAns, to be published a few entries at a time in the WSFA Journal. He also mentioned that there was a sign-in sheet on a clipboard on the table, and requested that everyone present sign in.
Sam reported that after this month, Third Friday meetings will be held at the Madigans' rather than at the Ginters'. First Friday meetings will continue to be held at the Gillilands', as they have been since November 1967, nearly 37 years ago. He also reported that he has WSFA t-shirts [black, with white lettering, in a variety of sizes] for sale for $15 each, and free WSFA ribbons [white, vertical, with green lettering] for our badges.
Mike Walsh said he had a ton of books for sale in the Dealer Room. He asked that WSFAns buy them here rather than back in the DC area, to save him the effort of hauling them back. Also, they are cheaper here at Noreascon.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
NEW BUSINESS: None.
Gayle announced that she would host WSFA during any Third Friday when the Madigans are unavailable. Her home is in Brandywine, Maryland. [Brandywine is in PG county, near its southern border, and does not appear to be transit accessible.]
Tom announced that there's another annual National Book Festival on the National Mall on Saturday October 9th, and for the first time there will be an SF and fantasy pavilion.
Lee announced that Terry Pratchett will be signing on September 10th at the Baileys Crossroads Borders Books, and that WSFAns will be going out for a beer afterwards.
Nicki announced that there would be a surprise birthday party for Peggy Rae in the Commonwealth Room.
Mike Walsh said he had one ton of books, and if everyone at the con buys just one pound, there won't be enough to go around.
Michael Pederson said the latest issue of Nth Degree had an interview with Alexis Gilliland.
Brian Lewis has space in his minivan to transport stuff, but not people, back to the DC area.
The meeting was unanimously and noisily adjourned at 9:23 pm.
Noreascon 4 was the 62nd Worldcon, held in Boston, Massachusetts in early September 2004. Many WSFAns were present.
On the evening of Saturday the 4th, the Hugos for 2003 were presented:
On the evening of Friday the 3rd, the Retro-Hugos for 1953 were presented:
The lead time was reduced from three years to two at Saturday morning's WSFS business meeting, 112 to 59. This means that there will be no site selection at next year's Worldcon in Glasgow. Members of that con can vote by mail the following year, when site selection for 2008 is held by 2006's Worldcon near Los Angeles. (No, they don't get two votes if they're members of both cons.)
Yokohama, Japan beat Columbus, Ohio, 935 to 692. The 65th Worldcon is to be called Nippon2007, and will be held August 30th through September 3rd, 2007 in Yokohama. Their website is http://www.nippon2007.org/.
Chicago is bidding for 2008. http://www.chicagoworldcon7.org/
Denver is bidding for 2008.
Geneva has withdrawn their 2008 bid. http://www.thegenevaconvention.org/
2008 will be voted on at the 2006 Worldcon near Los Angeles.
Kansas City is bidding for 2009. http://www.midamericon.org/kc2009/
Montreal is bidding for 2009.
2009 will be voted on at the 2007 Worldcon in Japan.
Australia is bidding for 2010.
Washington DC is bidding for 2011. http://www.dcin2011.org/
Minneapolis is bidding for 1973. http://worldcon.org/bids/bid1973mpls.html
St. Louis is bidding for the 2007 NASFiC, which will be voted on at the 2005 NASFiC, CascadiaCon, which is near Seattle. Their bid page is http://www.stlf.org/archon/nasfic/.
I arrived in Boston mid-afternoon on Thursday. Taking the T from Logan Airport, I discovered that I would not be able to take the T back to the airport on Monday because most of the Blue Line was going to be shut down and the replacement shuttle bus wasn't going to stop at the airport. When I arrived at the Sheraton, there was a long line of increasingly annoyed fen waiting to check in. After speaking to several people on line, I discovered that things had actually improved since the morning when they'd only had one person manning the front desk. Not very bright when you know you have a convention checking in. I guess the hotel realized they were at fault, because while we were waiting, the hotel staff brought out two large barrels of cold bottled water and lots of bags of chips and popcorn. Then one of the Noreascon staffers pointed out that there was an automated check-in kiosk. I decided to give it a try.
It worked just fine except for the fact that it charged my credit card, issued me a receipt with room number but refused to give me a room key. A Noreascon staffer convinced one of the “preferred customer” desk people to fix the problem and I set off for my room. With my usual unerring sense of direction, I got on the elevator for the wrong tower. The bellman I was riding up with told me I was in the wrong tower but not to worry because I could walk across on two or three, so I did. Check-in hassles aside, the room was great. The bed was large and well padded with lots of soft pillows. I only have one other complaint about the hotel, which is that the Starbucks in the lobby didn't accept Starbucks cards. I'd been given a couple as a thank you by a client and figured breakfast and lunch were paid for. Oh well. I consoled myself by discouraging friends from purchasing food and coffee from the Starbucks.
After unpacking I went over to the convention center to check in. This went smoothly once one of the con-goers helpfully directed me towards the convention center. There were not a lot of people checking in around 3:30pm, so registration went quickly. I knew Liz Williams was autographing at 4pm and I wanted her to sign my copy of Banner of Souls. I looked through the convention “pocket” program from cover to cover and could not find the autographing area on any of the maps. So I went to the information desk and got directions. It would have been nice if they'd marked the area on the maps, given how popular autographing is. After getting my book signed, I wandered off to have a look around the concourse and the dealers' room.
Those areas were easy to find on the maps. I did not rely on the pocket program for much except directions.
One thing the Con Committee did right was that the schedule posted on the web site was the schedule in the pocket program and there weren't any radical changes (people got added or dropped, but there was no floating panel problem as far as I could tell). I'd already made a condensed two page list for myself of what panels and events I wanted to see. While wandering in the dealers' room, I stopped by Mike Walsh's table to say hi and ran into Bob MacIntosh who told me I could pick up my WSFA shirt from Sam Lubell in the press office.
I picked up my shirt and griped to Sam a bit about the volunteer situation. I had filled out the online volunteer form more than a year before the convention. After getting an initial query from registration, I didn't hear back from them, so I had no idea whether I was down for the hours I had proposed but assumed that I was not. Sam directed me to the volunteer office. I was listed in the volunteer book, so I guess someone somewhere just dropped the ball. I talked to a number of people that happened to, so I guess maybe the volunteer aspect could have been better organized. I signed up to work as an usher for the Hugos and for Terry Pratchett's GOH speech. Then they sent me up to the art show, which had been asking for volunteers. The art show runners were not happy to see me, however, since I had no experience in working the art show. I realize set up is stressful, but they could have been a little more gracious considering I was giving them 3-4 hours of my time. In the end they put me on the door to be “security” since they didn't have a bag check yet. I was supposed to search people's bags as they came out. This worked fine when people came out of the art show 1 or 2 at a time, not so well when it was a group. Most people were gracious about having their bags searched. Only one or two people had hissy fits. The artists and their helpers were especially nice about it. I wasn't intentionally searching the artists, but a number of them had taken off their badges during setup so I couldn't see the purple artist ribbon. They were the most pleased about the bag search, since it gave them a sense of security for their work.
The art show itself was great. I was practically drooling over a large Michael Whelan painting, “The Crossing.” I knew there was no way it would be in my price range, but I was curious about the initial asking price. Turns out it would have cost me nearly 4 months' salary. The small study for it started at $900 and only went for $1000, which I'm pretty sure is a bargain for a Michael Whelan painting. As usual, I got outbid on the Moifa brush paintings I liked, but I did buy several bookmarks from her. I also ended up buying some artwork in the dealers' room. Colleen Doran had a table. I made us both feel old when I mentioned that I'd been reading A Distant Soil since it was published by Apple Comics back in the late 1980s. I ended up buying several original art pages from her - 2 from A Distant Soil and 1 from Wonder Woman. Plus I bought a copy of Orbiter, the graphic novel she did with Warren Ellis, and in addition to personally inscribing it to me, she drew a picture of the Space Shuttle. Other than the art purchases, I was very restrained in the dealers' room and only bought 5 or 6 books.
I thought the panels I went to over the course of the con were something of a mixed bag, which I guess is typical. Or maybe I'm just becoming older, pickier and crabbier. Still, this is only my 3rd Worldcon, so there's a limit to how much bloom should be off the rose. One complaint I had about the panels was that they went to questions very quickly. I found this annoying, since I went to particular panels to hear the panelists, not to hear audience members pontificate, which they did more often than they asked actual questions. I found this particularly annoying in the “This Book Sucks: How and How Not to Write Reviews” panel. I went to hear the professional panelists talk in the hopes of learning some stuff that would help me write better reviews. I did not go to hear the amateurs like myself in the audience talk about their reviews. The other review panel I went to, “Criticism or Review” was more successful in that regard. Although to be honest I was left with the impression that a review becomes criticism mainly when you're given a much higher word count, e.g. 500-1000 words=review; 3500-5000 words=criticism. Dr. Tatsumi had some interesting things to say about the dialog between the reviewer and the author and F. Brett Cox raised an interesting point about what happens when you write a bad review about someone you like. The example he gave was a review he did of The Martian Child by David Gerrold, a semi-fictional mainly autobiographical account of the troubled child he and his partner adopted and raised. He felt what Gerrold did was admirable, but that the book was horrible - badly written and manipulative. He said it was one of the few times he felt the need to state explicitly that he liked and admired the writer while panning the book. He also made a comparative point about reviewing in the U.S. vs. the U.K., where typically there are two types of reviews: the first where the book is given to a good friend of the writer and results in a worshipful positive review and the second where the book is deliberately given to someone who hates the author and will write a vicious scathing review.
As a fourth generation New Yorker (yes I realize I'm in D.C. I'm just on an extended visit, honest), I had to see the “Enchanted Apple - New York City in SF and Fantasy” panel at 10am on Friday, featuring Michael A. Burstein, Susan Shwartz, George R.R. Martin, Esther Friesner and Madeleine E. Robins. Unfortunately, the panel sort of dissolved into the panelists discussing their personal anecdotal New York experiences rather than using the City in fiction until very close to the end of the hour when one of the panelists talked about how authors always blow up their hometowns, which brought the discussion around to 9/11. Michael A. Burstein brought up Pete Hamill's book Forever in which the protagonist wouldn't die as long as he never left Manhattan. The character was born on Sept. 9th and the novel originally finished on Sept. 10, 2001, but the author felt he had to go back and rewrite it to address 9/11, which had the effect of making 9/11 seem inevitable. I would have liked for the panelists to have discussed this issue in greater depth, but unfortunately time ran out. Other panels I found interesting were the female archetype panel and the “Do Women Write Differently” panel, from which I learned that there are still an unfortunate number of male authors who are still under the impression that women typically spend time standing naked in front of mirrors saying to themselves “gosh I'm so glad my breasts are perky.”
I enjoyed Terry Pratchett's GOH speech, in which he regaled the audience with amusing anecdotes from his days in the nuclear power industry. Neil Gaiman was a good choice for MC of the Hugos. Aside from a few PowerPoint glitches, the awards show ran smoothly. I still think Jeffrey Ford's Empire of Ice Cream was robbed. I also think better coordination was needed between the stage manager and the house manager. As best as I could figure out from what I overheard while ushering, when the press area had been set up, the podium was on the same side of the stage as the press area. At some point afterwards the stage manager decided to move it to the opposite side of the stage, which made the carefully-taped-off camera tripod area somewhat useless. Several of us asked whether the press area could be moved but the house manager said no because it would cost a fortune to move the chairs.
I thought this was a lame excuse, since all we really would have needed to do was move the tape. Or maybe I misjudged the amount of space on the other side of the room.
I thought the con suite was very well run. They had a nice variety of munchies and a steady supply of Diet Coke. They were also well organized in terms of volunteer scheduling. I think the layout of the room was helpful. They were also careful about periodically cleaning the tables and had a neat and well organized food storage and prep area. The live music in the area right outside the con suite was a nice touch as well. The restaurant guide was helpful, although it would have been nice if the blurb for Arirang House had mentioned that it was a buffet. Also, I do not understand why the small, inexpensive Japanese noodle shop a block away from the Sheraton was not listed in the restaurant guide. While the dumplings were unimpressive, the noodle soups were quite good and were very cheap, and the service was quick.
My biggest criticism was the lack of an Internet cafe. I think that was a big screwup and miscalculation on the conrunners' part. As I understand it, the logic behind not having an Internet cafe (and originally not having any public computers) was that everyone had their own laptops nowadays. That was a miscalculation for several reasons. First, plenty of people still have desktop systems. They're often cheaper. Second, not everyone is going to want to lug their laptops to a con, esp. with airline security these days. Third, hotel Internet access is not cheap which would certainly be a factor in the decision whether or not to bring a laptop. And fourth, not everyone has a wifi card. There are serious privacy and security concerns in using wireless Internet. Not to mention the large number of dead spots at the con. The six or seven computers they had were definitely not enough for such a large con.
On the plus side, I thought the autographing sessions were well organized and overflow was nicely handled. For the insanely popular authors such as Gaiman and Pratchett who were doing multiple autograph sessions, placeholder cards were issued to people who didn't make it all the way to the front at a prior session. That way you started out as was and didn't have to lose another hour standing on line. Not that the standing on line part was so bad, since it allowed you to talk to fellow fen you'd never met before. Now both Terry and Neil have signed my copy of Good Omens. Terry Pratchett signed it at ConJose saying “Burn this book” and Neil Gaiman added to it by drawing an arrow to the lower right corner and saying “place holy match here.” I had Mike Resnick sign his “Post Time in Pink” story in Newer York and he talked about how it had been a while since he'd seen a copy of the book and that the story revived the Mallory character.
I had meant to go to more readings, but instead only made it to Stephen Dedman's. He read an amusing story set in the future involving the Pope and a cheap, safe, readily available technique for penis enlargement. Which caused handgun purchases to plummet.
There were a decent number of parties every night. I was especially taken with the fact that the society for evil super geniuses party had a large number of Dr. Who villains up on the wall. The Xerps party was probably the most elaborately decorated, but had the worst alcoholic beverage. If they'd just stuck with the juice and hard liquor it would have been fine, but adding light beer to the mixture just made it nasty. The Hitchhiker's Guide party had pangalactic gargleblasters. I think they were actually paint stripper. I couldn't finish mine because it hurt to swallow it. Fortunately fellow WSFAn Erica Ginter stepped up and made sure it didn't go to waste. I thought the combined Columbus/Japan bid parties were great. I'm very fond of plum wine. Unfortunately, my stamina no longer keeps up with my enthusiasm and I was in bed by 2am every night. (On the plus side, that made it a lot easier to get to work on time and fully functional on Tuesday.)
So overall, I'd have to say my Noreascon 4 experience was an enjoyable one. Enough so that I'm now rethinking my original plan not to go to LA in 2006.
Mad scientists seem to begin as a theme in old science fiction films, but the roots go much deeper. Certainly Frankenstein is one of the first examples of a researcher run amok and other writers have investigated this subject. You may be unaware that Jules Verne wrote one such piece in A Fantasy of Dr Ox, a satirical work that looks at scientific ethics with a mix of warning and humor.
The town of Quiquendone is the most Flemish of towns in Flanders because there “nothing was ever done quickly.” The natives of this burg are sleepy to the point of ridiculousness: plays take days to perform, decisions happen only after years and the average heart rate of the citizens rarely rises above 50 beats per minute. After centuries of a staid, lethargic existence, Quiquendone is facing some changes. A philanthropist, Dr Ox, is installing a new lighting system in the town, which will be the first town in Flanders lit by oxyhydric gas. The town councillor and burgomaster are unsure of this project, as it happened in unseemly haste, but since Dr Ox is paying all the costs, they are loath to stop the work. In the middle of a discussion on this topic, shocking news arrives: two of the citizens were planning to duel each other over ... politics! Violence is rare in the town, but voicing one's opinion on such an subject is even rarer.
Thus begins a wild ride for the previously quiet community. As we quickly learn, the reason behind this transformation is an experiment by Dr Ox and his assistant, Ygène. The supposedly beneficial lighting system is actually to test Dr Ox's theory on the nature of oxyhydric gas on people. When exposed, normally calm and placid persons become energetic, irascible and highly emotional. And what better group to try this out on than the most reticent of souls, the Quiquendonians? With his lighting system in every building, Dr Ox now can control how much gas is received by the entire population. I can just hear the evil laughter!
While gas lighting is a bit dated, the story and characters are familiar. Dr Ox comes across as arrogant and uncaring, but sane. He does not see the townsfolk as people, but on the level with lab rats. His assistant is a bit more humane, questioning the experiment at one point, but never having the strength to stand up to his boss. There is definitely a message against unethical science in this story and while the Quiquendonians are dupes, they are also the most sympathetic characters in the story. The community is a bit of a parody, but a lively and interesting one. The effect of the gas is dramatic, turning the methodical and sober citizens into unpredictable maniacs, ready to attack a neighboring town for a centuries old trespass by a cow!
Verne stories rarely are thought of with humor, but this is an oversight. There are plenty of giggles and laughs in this story, from the comical townsmen, the way they react to the gas and even from Dr Ox and Ygène. Verne shows a bit of Dickens qualities in his names, as the main characters' names make up the word oxygen (Ox-Ygène). For scholars of Verne, this is no surprise, as the author worked on theatrical farces before his rise as a writer and Verne certainly shows he mastered the comic form.
I appreciated the foreword by Gilbert Adair and introduction by Andrew Brown, both of which gave me more background on the story and Verne. A Fantasy of Dr Ox displays another side of this master writer, one with a bit more comedy. If you like your science fiction with a bit of whimsy, this is a story for you.
Librarian by Profession, Reviewer by Avocation, Reader by Addiction
I got a Round Tuit for my birthday so I got around to reading this minor classic science fiction.
The book is actually a collection of short stories with common characters set in a common scenario of interstellar war between a human dominated confederation of races and the implacable Rull enemy. Intrepid scientist Trevor Jamieson struggles to understand aliens and humans in order to defeat the ultra-deadly shapeshifting Rulls. In the first few stories, he works to befriend the hostile telepathic ezwals; later he moves on to the stranger Ploians, and eventually the greatest Rull itself.
This is good solid stuff if now somewhat dated. In the best science fiction tradition, Jamieson uses his brains to solve problems rather than blasting everything with his not-so-trusty atomic pistol. While humans are the dominant species in the galaxy, they have earned this position by friendship and constructive relationships with the other races rather than crude imperialism. And the Rulls are shown as cunning representatives of a thoughtful race, not mere fighting machines. All in all, a nice little book.
I rate The War Against The Rull as *** on the five star scale. -- LS
Thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue. Once again I bumped my own articles about the Cassini/Huygens Saturn probe and about WSFA's several email lists to the next issue to keep this issue from being too long. (I prefer to have contributions from as many people as possible in each issue.) If you're really eager to hear about our several email lists, please see http://www.wsfa.org/list.htm.
I apologize for the lack of graphics. Wade and I are working on ways to improve their appearance, and hope to have more Alexis cartoons, with crisp clean resolution, in October's issue.
October's issue should come out in just two weeks, since this issue was delayed due to Noreascon. As always, I eagerly solicit material. Especially entries for our very own fan gallery. If you missed seeing the fan gallery on the third floor of the Hynes at Noreascon, it's available online at http://scifiinc.net/scifiinc/gallery/list/. I'm looking for material similar to that. Ernest Lilley is willing to take pictures, but I'll accept entries without pictures if you prefer. Or just pictures with no text if you like. I'll never print anything about anyone without their permission.
Deadline for the October issue is September 24th. Earlier if possible.
Also in the October issue I'll have at least one more review by Lee Strong, more cartoons by Alexis (if Wade and I can fix the resolution problem by then), and of course the regular features: meeting minutes, October '4 in history, upcoming events, and what to look forward to in the November issue.