Editor: Keith Lynch. Assistant editor: Wade Lynch
Please direct all correspondence to email@example.com. Please put either “for publication” or “not for publication” on the subject line. (It MUST contain one or the other, or else your email may be deleted unread by spam filters.) I can also be reached by snail mail at 220 Cedar Lane #62, Vienna VA 22180-6623 USA.
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.
WSFA has several email lists:
Please contact me about any of these lists except the last one, which is run by Lee Gilliland, not by me. Contact me if you don't know how to contact her.
I guarantee all messages posted to the lists I run to be free of viruses, worms, web bugs, HTML, attachments, pop-ups, pop-unders, and anything else potentially dangerous. Email containing any such that's directed to the chat list will go to me instead. Email that's over 90k in length directed either to me or to the chat list will be discarded unread. I apologize for the inconvenience, but the trillions of spams, viruses, and other junk messages that have made email nearly unusable have left me no alternative. If your mailer defaults to sending HTML, please see http://www.expita.com/nomime.html for instructions on how to turn it off. I suggest you turn it off for everyone, since more and more people are deleting all such email unread. (The August 2003 Consumer Reports magazine is one of many sources that recommends deleting HTML email unread to cut down on spam.)
Colleen Cahill maintains a list of members' email addresses, street addresses, and phone numbers, intended for one-on-one communication. This list is not available on the web, but Colleen will email it to any WSFA member who wants it. Please use her list only for one-on-one communications. People who aren't subscribed to the chat list presumably don't want messages intended for all WSFAns.
Also, there's a list of members' email addresses that was formerly at http://www.wsfa.org/members.htm. After it got spammed four years ago, I moved it to a semi-secret URL that anyone in fandom should be able to figure out after looking in the original location. That list is seriously out of date, and I may discontinue it.
As I mentioned in the February WSFA Journal, the utterly immense volume of spam (unsolicited bulk email, usually touting fraudulent products, usually with a forged email address), viruses, worms, denial-of-service attacks, bounces of spams that were forged to appear to be from me, and other junk in my mailbox, caused me to give up on filtering, and switch to a combination of whitelisting and disposable email addresses.
Since I wrote that article in January, another ten million emails directed at me have been blocked. So this was clearly necessary, and remains so.
Who is on my whitelist? All past and present WSFA members, all PRSFS members, everyone who has been to three or more WSFA meetings, everyone with whom I have exchanged email or Usenet newsgroup postings in the past several years, everyone in John Lorentz's fannish email directory, everyone in the Fan Gallery that's displayed at Worldcons, and about ten thousand other people. Any email from anyone in my whitelist will be accepted, no matter what address of mine it's sent to, unless it's over 90k in size.
If email from someone on my whitelist is directed to the WSFA chat list email address, it will go directly to that list if it's in plain text format (no HTML or attachments) and is from a past or present WSFA member. Otherwise it will go only to me.
I additionally accept any email less than 90k if it contains any of over 800 key words or phrases on the subject line, including the “for publication” and “not for publication” mentioned at the top of every WSFA Journal.
All WSFA web pages with a contact link, link to http://www.wsfa.org/email.htm, which contains a disposable email address, along with a warning that it should not be added to address books, as it frequently changes, with 24 hours notice (i.e. an address which formerly appeared there but no longer does is guaranteed to continue to work for 24 hours, but no longer). I currently change addresses every ten days. Any email of less than 90k from anyone will be accepted at that address.
All my newsgroup postings, and all my email to open lists, contain mentions of a similar page on my personal website which contains another disposable email address which also changes on a ten day cycle.
What if you need to send me an email longer than 90k? That is enough text to qualify as a full-size novel, so you'd presumably only do this to send me pictures for the WSFA Journal. (I have a text-only account, but I can deal with photos, cartoons, and other graphical material while working with assistant editor Wade Lynch.) If possible, either keep them under 90k, or place them on a web page somewhere and just email me the URL for that web page. If that is not possible, I do have an unfiltered email address, but for obvious reasons I prefer not to give it out very often. Also, I seldom check it.
I do like getting real email from real people. It's only the trillions of automatically generated junk messages that I wish to block. I hope nothing I have written here gives any other impression.
Every WSFA member can get their own personal @wsfa.org email address. These are forwarding addresses -- you have to already have an email account somewhere else. There is no spam filtering on these addresses (except the ones that go to me or to the chat list). Contact me if you're interested.
Additionally, there are role addresses, including firstname.lastname@example.org, president, vp, secretary, treasurer, trustees (which goes to all three trustees), austerity, activities, entertainment, webmaster, capclave, capclave05, capclave06, etc. I can set up more if desired. Maybe ones for SMOFcon, or for our anthology project?
[The minutes of the September 3rd First Friday meeting can be found in September's Journal.]
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 by Vice President Cathy Green at 9:15 pm on September 17th, 2004 at the Ginters' in Beltsville, Maryland.
Present were Vice President Cathy Green, Secretary Keith Lynch, Treasurer Bob MacIntosh, all three trustees (Adrienne Ertman, Barry Newton, and Steven Smith), Capclave 2004 Chair Lee Gilliland, Capclave 2005 Chair Michael Walsh, Capclave 2006 Chair Elspeth Kovar, Colleen Cahill, Chuck Divine, Carolyn Frank, Alexis Gilliland, Erica and Lydia Ginter, Kindra Gresham, Paul Haggerty, Scott Hofmann, Eric Jablow, Bill Lawhorn, Candy and John Madigan, Keith Marshall, Cat Meier, Walter Miles, Judy Newton, Larry Pfeffer, Evan Phillips, John Rogers, George Shaner, William Squire, Gayle Surrette, Diana Swiger, Michael Taylor, Elizabeth Twitchell, and Madeleine Yeh. 36 people.
The meeting started with the Vice President mentioning that this was the last meeting at the Ginters', and reading a proclamation from WSFA to the Ginters saying:
The officers, trustees and members of the Washington Science Fiction Association would like to thank Erica, Karl and Lydia Ginter for hosting WSFA meetings in their home for nearly twelve years. We thank you for putting up with us despite the fact that we did not always pick up after ourselves. We thank you for continuing to host WSFA meetings even though we did not always take the hint and leave at a reasonable hour. We thank you for continuing to host WSFA meetings despite the fact that we may have been the cause of some of the House Rules. We thank you for not killing us as a result of the foregoing. We thank you for the pleasure of your company. We thank you for baking cakes. We thank you for providing us with excellent food and drink all these years. Please accept the heartfelt thanks of a very grateful Washington Science Fiction Association.
She then handed the proclamation to our hostess, Erica Ginter. [The money for this had been approved by the club officers via email.] She also handed Erica a coupon for the Book Nook in College Park. She called for these actions to be passed by acclamation. They were.
Eric asked, if we can afford $10,000 for a book, why can't we afford to have Erica's [wall-to-wall] carpeting cleaned? Erica said the carpeting was fourteen or fifteen years old, and wasn't a high quality carpet to begin with, and needed replacement, not cleaning. Lee said it had had an interesting life. Erica agreed and said “If only this rug could talk”. Madeleine said that if it could talk, she'd pay to have it taken out and burned.
The vice president asked the secretary if there was any old business. The secretary said no.
TREASURY: $18,810.59, now that World Fantasy has transferred some money over to our main account. World Fantasy still has another twenty thousand.
CAPCLAVE '04: Lee asked if anyone had Diana Swiger's email address or phone number. [Diana arrived later during the meeting, and gave Lee the information after the meeting.] Lee asked how many people had reserved rooms. Few people raised their hands. She then said everyone should wait until after this weekend, as Peggy Rae Sapienza told Lee that “to her non-amusement” this week the hotel claimed never to have heard of us. Peggy Rae was able to make a reservation at the AAA rate of $64 a night, which is cheaper than ours. Lee needs to talk to Elizabeth to get this straightened out. [At that very instant, Elizabeth walked in.] Elizabeth has a list of 15 people who have reserved rooms, which may not be complete. People should specify whether they want quiet rooms or not. Preferably not, to provide buffering around the party area, which will be around the indoor pool, but Lee recognizes that some people may prefer quiet, or may be sensitive to the chlorine from the pool.
Lee said we have sold 77 memberships, which puts us ahead of where we were this time last year. [It's not clear whether this is adjusted for the fact that Capclave was a month later last year.] There are 25 rooms around the pool. Elizabeth added that we have three or four of them as offices.
Bill Lawhorn is the beermeister. Lee asked how many people were interested in buying Capclave t-shirts with an Egyptian hieroglyph logo for $25 each. There was no interest. Erica pointed out that one of the hieroglyphic symbols appeared to be a slug. Lee said it's a horned viper.
There will be five artists at the con. The guest of honor, Nick Pollotta, will have a new book. Mike added that Darrell Schweitzer will have copies of the new book for sale. Lee said so will Larry Smith.
CAPCLAVE '05: The Guest of Honor, Howard Waldrop, will have a chapbook, with his story “Ugly Chickens” on one side, and an original story written around art by Carol Emshwiller on the other side, like an Ace Double. Unlike an Ace Double, he will not get royalty statements which claim different numbers of each side were sold. There will be a limit of one chapbook per convention member. Unsigned copies will probably be rarer than signed copies. (There was then a discussion of Neil Gaiman's uncanny ability to detect any unsigned book of his within fifty yards.) Mike also mentioned that Howard doesn't do email.
Mike wants to spend $1000 at this year's World Fantasy Convention, which will be in late October in Tempe, Arizona, to promote Capclave '05. The money will be counted as an advance to Capclave '05. When the secretary later asked for a clarification via email, Mike quoted WFC as saying:
$1000 gets you fliers for 2005 Capclave in all the reg bags and a poster at the Autograph Reception acknowledging the funding organization. This will give your org exposure to hundreds of professionals in a targeted marketing campaign.
He says that one side of the flier can promote Capclave, the other side our upcoming Future Washington anthology. WFC will have six to seven hundred members, including hundreds of pros, and editorial people from New York City. World Fantasy Convention members are a good target audience for us, since many of them are pros, who will attract fans to Capclave if the pros attend. Mike said this is a long term project, intended to gradually cause Capclave to grow.
Judy asked if it would be cheaper to place an ad in the WFC program book. Mike said most people never look in the program book. Judy responded that she never looks at fliers in her goody bag.
Mike moved to go ahead and spend the money. After several minutes of discussion, the vote was unanimously in favor, except for one person who abstained in honor of [former WSFAn] Lee Smoire.
CAPCLAVE '06: Elspeth is doing hotel work. She's doing it for '05 as well. She's “contemplating guests of honor,” and “recovering from N4”.
WORLD FANTASY '03: Mike will do the final billing soon. He expects to get about $10,000 for advertising.
PUBLICATIONS: Keith Lynch reported that we have August and September WSFA Journals available on the coffee table, and that The WSFA Journal online is finally old enough to run for Congress -- 25 full years. Wade has finished scanning in all the Second Series Journals, and Keith expects to finish placing all of them online by the end of next month. Wade is ready to start scanning the First Series WSFA Journals, which were edited by Don Miller, and Keith would like to hear from anyone who has any copies of them. [They were published from 1965 through 1975.] Our online calendar of upcoming events, http://www.wsfa.org/calendar.htm, was printed in September's Journal, but several new events have been added since then, some of which are tomorrow, so everyone should look at that page. Mike said he had issues of Quanta, WSFA's first fanzine back in the 1940s. Keith said it will take him at least a decade to finish off The WSFA Journal and The Son of the WSFA Journal. And that there's at least one other WSFA fanzine published after Quanta but before The WSFA Journal. Alexis responded that there were several such fanzines.
SMOFCON: Bob said there's a SMOFcon programming meeting tomorrow at 11 am at Peggy Rae's.
ENTERTAINMENT: Alexis said there was a Worldcon. And that Jim had had his appendix removed, which had worried his mother, Lee. Mike asked if he had had his table of contents removed.
AUSTERITY: Eric suggested that the “World Fantasy” account be retitled to have “WSFA” in its name. Keith Lynch asked why have two accounts at all, rather than just one? Bob responded all of it is WSFA's, and it's all just accounting. Lee said we should trust Bob. Elspeth suggested we have quarterly financial reports. Bob said he makes reports after accounts are closed. Elspeth said it's not that we don't trust Bob, it's what if something happened to him. Bob replied that everything's on his laptop computer. Someone suggested that the laptop should then be kept separate from Bob, so that one accident doesn't eliminate both of them. Colleen suggested offsite backups. Elspeth suggested hardcopy. Eric asked if it should be on the website, in response to which many people yelled “no”. Mike said that could lead to many people asking us to fund them.
In response to questions from Elspeth, Bob clarified that SMOFcon is being run out of WSFA's main account, that the World Fantasy money really truly is ours, and that Bucconeer's money is not ours.
Lee mentioned Rebecca Prather's email complaining about our investing $10,000 on a book project. Cathy ruled that it's moot, as it had already been voted on, and also pointed out that Rebecca was at two of the three meetings at which we voted on it.
Elspeth also suggested that we should set aside some of our money “for a rainy day,” perhaps $10,000 which we could never spend without a supermajority of two thirds. Lee saw no point in this. Someone asked how much we need for a Capclave. Bob said typically around $8000, of which $600 is liability insurance. Someone asked whether we have ever not had enough money to afford liability insurance or other essential expenses. Bob said no. Alexis suggested treasury bonds, as those cannot be touched before maturity without a penalty.
Madeleine moved that we discuss and vote on this at a Maryland meeting and at a Virginia meeting, not counting this meeting, and not counting the meeting at Capclave. Her motion passed unanimously.
Keith Lynch started to make a motion, beginning with “Since until recently I wrongly thought I had a comped membership in this year's Capclave...” Lee interjected that Keith did have a comped membership, at which point Keith said “I withdraw my motion”. Bob pressed him to finish anyway, so he said that what he had intended to move was that those of us who wrongly thought we had a comped membership be allowed to buy a membership at the lowest rate ever offered, since that's the rate at which most of us would have bought it had we known in time that we weren't comped.
Elspeth said that workers are typically comped for the following year's membership if the current year's con made a profit, which 2003's Capclave did not.
Keith said his brother Wade was under the impression that he was fully comped for this year in return for agreeing to sleep in the Dealers' room. Elizabeth confirmed that he was.
Elspeth made a motion that we draw on our bank account to comp Capclave 2003's workers. Lee proposed that this be extended to all years' committee members. Elspeth said that we won't always have our current surplus, so we should vote on this separately each year. The motion passed unanimously.
Bill Lawhorn noticed at this point that we had skipped the Activities Committee. [Apparently we somehow drifted unnoticed from SMOFcon into New Business, and never did get around to Old Business.]
ACTIVITIES: Lee said she had been planning on arranging a trip to the Courthouse theater at 7:40 tomorrow to see Sky Captain, but changed her mind since it got bad reviews. We're all welcome to see it whenever and wherever we like, and regard it as a WSFA activity. Madeleine said a friend saw it, and waited so long for it to be a total failure that he didn't realize it was a good movie until it was over.
MORE NEW BUSINESS:
Barry proposed that we invite the SF authors who are at the October 9th Library of Congress book festival on the Mall to a social event. Colleen [a Library of Congress employee] said the authors are Catherine Asaro, Neal Stephenson, Patricia Wrede, Connie Willis, Fred Pohl, Ben Bova, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Neil Gaiman, of whom we might be able to get ahold of Bujold, Willis, Wrede, and Asaro. Some of the authors will be interviewed elsewhere in Arlington for the Fast Forward cable TV show that evening, and the social event can be afterwards. Lee proposed that the event be at her house in Arlington. Alexis agreed. Colleen will follow up. [Two days later via email Colleen suggested the Boulevard Woodgrill, at 2901 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington instead, as that's a short walk from both the Clarendon Metro station and from the Fast Forward studio.]
Elspeth suggested this event be announced via the urgent announcements email list, not just the regular email chat list. The secretary agreed. Colleen agreed to inform Keith when things are definite.
The secretary made the usual announcement: Announcements should be submitted in writing, or via the email address on the cover of the WSFA Journal, or to the email chat list.
Our hostess, Erica, announced that she had books for sale, $1 for paperbacks, $2 for hardbacks, and also thanked us for our good wishes, flowers, gifts, etc. She hopes she will be able to host us again someday.
Bob asked the secretary to stand up and slowly turn around, to model the new WSFA t-shirt, which he was wearing. The secretary did so, and pointed out that it was available in a variety of sizes, and in any color you like so long as it's black.
Walter Miles announced that his daughter Zahra [who wasn't present], is five weeks old. He introduced John Rogers, who is deaf. This is John's first meeting.
Lee announced that TSR artist David C. Sutherland is suffering from a terminal illness, and is auctioning his original art and gaming collection on eBay, at http://cgi6.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewSellersOtherItems&userid=stormber&sort=3&page=1&rows=50&since=-1&showpics=1&stab=0
Colleen announced that there were two events coming up at the Library of Congress. The director of the House of Elsewhere, a science fiction museum in Switzerland, will be speaking on Friday the 24th, and Bud Webster will be speaking at noon on the Friday of Capclave [October 15th]. Also, she has two boxes of books for sale. Hardbacks are $3, trade paperbacks $2, mass market paperbacks $1, and all money goes to WSFA.
Elizabeth asked everyone who has reserved a room at Capclave's hotel to tell her, to make sure we're on her list, and that Capclave gets credit for the room nights.
Mike Walsh had books for sale. He also said he sold plenty at Noreascon, and it was his most successful Worldcon ever. He has signed copies of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell for $27. At last night's reading the author said she got one complaint letter, from someone who was unable to stop reading.
Madeleine had a cracked cheesecake.
I (Keith Lynch) announced that Wade's and my father had suddenly and unexpectedly died, and that I learned of this on September 11th of all days. It wasn't heart disease, cancer, or stroke. Perhaps it was power of suggestion, as he was an actuary, and he died at exactly the median life expectancy. Since this is younger than either of his parents died, I find this worrisome. I ask that people forgive Wade and I any delays or mistakes we may make during this difficult time. (Sorry, but I can't bring myself to write this paragraph in the third person.)
Elspeth said David Axler, who left Noreascon in an ambulance, had had a triple bypass, and is recovering. Mike said he saw David on the Saturday night of Noreascon, outside, smoking, and he seemed healthy at that time.
Mike Walsh said that Gardner Dozois was in a car crash shortly before the Worldcon, and had to have his shoulder replaced with metal, and is now bionic.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 pm. 75 minutes. [The secretary recorded over the first 15 minutes of the August 20th tape.]
There was intermittent heavy rain all evening, the remains of Hurricane Ivan.
Several people were still present when the secretary left at 1 am.
Summary of 9/17/04 meeting:
American Empire is the fifth novel set in a Confederate States survival alternate history. Previously, How Few Remain documented the Second Mexican War of 1881 and the Great War trilogy recorded the alternate Great War of 1914-17 equivalent to our World War I (1914-18). Blood and Iron is the first of a new trilogy covering the aftermath of the German-American victory over the Confederacy, Britain, France, Russia and Japan. Turtledove's other Confederate survival novel, The Guns of the South, is a separate universe based on a separate divergence event.
American Empire picks up in the alternate 1917 and follows a cast of dozens of Americans, Confederates and Canadians as they pick up their lives following the war. A key concern is the lack of an overall plot to unify the subplots. The characters are living in the same world but few of them interact with each other. The result is a meandering sprawl with neither drive nor depth. The many little stories don't add up to a big story worth the $27 hardcover price, and the characters show comparatively little personal development. One subplot revolving around a Confederate equivalent to the Nazi movement has some emotional depth and unifying power, but is spoiled by its very obvious copying of real German history. (Hint: Adolf Hitler.) In addition, I did not care for the way that the anti-American characters got to present their views without any rebuttals. If human beings were as one sided as Turtledove presents, real history wouldn't exist... and neither would alternate history.
As a fanatic alternate history buff, I appreciated the novel, but I suspect that other readers will find this effort wearying. I rate American Empire: Blood and Iron as a “C” on the high school A-F scale for its poor execution of an interesting concept. -- LS
Generally, I do not like remakes and this effort is a case in point. Anything worth remaking is generally so good that the remake will detract from the original experience, not enhance it.
This movie has very little to do with the 1968 classic beyond the basic idea of a planet dominated by anthropoids. An American astronaut travels through an “electromagnetic storm” and crashlands on an unknown planet with two moons and talking monkeys... pardon me, apes. They enslave him which gives him the opportunity to make nice with the usual student rebel and to lead an escape to the mysterious land of “Calima.” Once there, he unravels the planetary history and gives ape-human cooperation a push. That done, he leaves, and the finale is not happy.
This Planet has many good features, including gee-whiz action, thrills and spills, costuming and overall production values. The physical movements of the apes are both realistic and impressive -- much more so than the 1968 version. However, I found the internal logic of the movie universe very uneven. The origin of the apes' intelligence and physical power is nicely explained, but their technology and culture are unrealistically higher than that of the humans given the backstory. Someone needs to explain to the scriptwriter that you do not escape a place by running through people's bedrooms or military camps. And how does a planet with two moons become Earth in the finale?
Tim Burton has done some outstanding work in the past, but here he is just monkeying around. I rate Planet of the Apes (2001) as an adequate but unimpressive “C-” on the high school A-F scale. -- LS
Well, I could claim that this movie is alternate history since the country of Genovia doesn't exist in our timeline. The truth of the matter is that I just like this film, and I'm going to see if Sam is asleep at the switch.
This is a happy little comedy about a nerdy girl who discovers one day that she's really the royal heiress to the tiny European country of Genovia. Her grandmother the Queen and the Genovian court need her to maintain their independence, and work to transform her into a “real” princess. Our heroine is initially flummoxed by her new-found fame and the attentions of truly shallow celebrity hounds of various ages and types. However, her basic good sense and the love of family and friends help her to regain her footing and find her real destiny.
This is not a real deep film, but the story is real good. The situations are mostly comical with a lot of physical humor, but the nicely drawn characters show a surprising amount of positive emotional development. Hidden under the fluff are some worthwhile thoughts about how people get along with each other and face responsibilities. There were some real world political notes that I didn't care for but they don't overwhelm a story about how good people grow and mature no matter what their situations are. I think that fans can relate to that.
I rate The Princess Diaries as a satisfying “B” on the high school A-F scale. -- LS
October 1994: First Friday at the Gillilands', Third Friday at the Ginters'. Lee Gilliland was pleased that plans for the proposed DC area Disney theme park had been cancelled. The Ginters' home will be unavailable for meetings for the next few months due to pregnancy. Joe Mayhew had five SMOF t-shirts for sale. Lance Oszko announced that the National Guard had preempted the Baltimore Convention Center on the proposed Baltimore Worldcon weekend, so the bid had been moved to 5-9 August 1998. [The following year that bid won.] Mike Walsh announced that Robert Bloch died. Bob MacIntosh was elected 1996 Disclave Chair. Treasury $2379.44
October 1984: No minutes were taken at either meeting. The September/October 1984 WSFA Journal mentioned that the Pioneer 10 probe was further away from the sun than either Neptune or Pluto, and hence was the first probe to, by some standards, leave the solar system. [It continued to operate until early 2003.]
October 1974: I can find no record of First Friday. Third Friday was at Bill Berg's. Treasury $519.60. A 16mm movie projector would cost $525 new. William Tenn was invited to be Disclave 1975's Guest of Honor. [He was the Guest of Honor at Disclave 1976 and again at Capclave 2003. Gordon Dickson was 1975's GoH.] Email list member Dick Eney was present, but nobody who has attended a meeting in the past year.
October 1964: First and Third Friday meetings were both at Elizabeth Cullen's. 13 and 17 attendees, including Dick Eney and Peggy Rae, but nobody who has attended a meeting in the past year. $105.15 in the treasury. There was discussion of starting meetings at 8 pm. Fifth Friday was to be at the Pavlats' in College Park -- bring your own drinks and chairs.
October 1954: Meetings on the First and Third Sundays were at Dot Cole's. 9 and 10 attendees, including Ted White, who was appointed to the Membership and Publicity committees, and who held an auction at the Third Sunday meeting. Treasury was $3.46. Secretary Philip N. Bridges moved that we spend 39¢ for a rubber stamp, but was told he should save money by handwriting our address.
Having been a fan of Mr. DeCandido's public access cable show The Chronic Rift and having seen him on several Worldcon panels, I was expecting a fun, amusing read when I picked up Dragon Precinct. I was not disappointed. My only complaint is that Pocket Star should have released the book earlier in the summer than August, because it's a great beach or poolside read. It's the novel equivalent of a popcorn movie. Imagine Ed McBain's 87th Precinct except set in Middle Earth. Lt. Torin ban Wyvald and his partner the halfling Lt. Danthres Tresyllione of the Cliff's End Castle Guard are stuck with the unenviable task of solving the mysterious murder of Gan Brightblade, hero of Flingaria and slayer of Chalmraik the Foul. They get no help from Gan Brightblade's traveling companions, a motley crew consisting of a priest, a barbarian, an elf, two halflings and a dwarf. They also have to worry about interference from the Brotherhood of Wizards and the local aristocracy. Fortunately, they've been authorized for unlimited overtime, music to every cop's ears. As the body count rises, and it becomes more and more clear that powerful magic is involved, Torin and Danthres begin to suspect that Chalmraik the Foul may have come back from the dead. In addition to dealing with a case that's a political hot potato and a public relations nightmare, the precinct is also coping with more mundane matters such as catching a rapist, finding a dealer of unauthorized spells and dealing with corruption on the waterfront. Despite the exotic fantasy setting, DeCandido has written a solid police procedural. The identity of the murderer was not obvious. Both the primary and secondary characters are nicely sketched and fleshed out. I look forward to reading the further adventures of Torin and Danthres.
A few months ago the Cassini probe went into orbit around Saturn. This is the first probe ever to do so, though three others have flown by that planet. It's now fifteen years since every planet except Pluto had been visited, if only by a single flyby probe. Needless to say, this would have come as a great surprise to the people who wrote the following, which is still (barely) within living memory:
Man has invaded space - not in airplanes which would fall to pieces with age before Earth's near neighbors were visited, but with thoughts which travel faster and work more miracles even than the light of the sun. Standing on his own tiny planet, an infinitesimal atom in a boundless universe, he can with cunningly contrived pieces of glass bring many thousands of other worlds to him, and make them tell him their story. By measuring the speed of light, he can tell their distance; by splitting up their faint rays of light, he can judge of what they are made. Though they be a million times as big as he, yet standing on his little spot of earth, he can weigh them as he would a pound of sugar. Keeping track of their movements, he can tell where they will be hundreds of years in the future.
88 ½ YEARS
Start now and you would not get there till after 2000 A.D. Yet light gets here from the sun in eight and a third minutes
News of Lincoln's death due there soon
A man would grow old on the way
From the year of the discovery of America to the close of the Civil War
It takes his light over an hour to get to us
Starting long before Rome fell, you would be going still
If we had started six hundred years before Christ, we should be drawing near Neptune
TO THE STARS
Millions and millions of years
Copyright, 1914, 1918, by Geo. L. Shuman & Co.
(I found the above in an old book I own, and I'm able to bring it to you thanks to the miracle of copyright expiration.)
I'm not sure whether our ancestors would be more surprised by the idea of leaving the earth, or by the idea of reliable unmanned machines. Keep in mind that when Arthur C. Clarke predicted (or invented) the geostationary communications satellite in 1945, he was envisioning manned space stations containing numerous electronics technicians who kept everything going. Instead we have unmanned machines, some of which are amazingly durable. Pioneer 6 was launched into a solar orbit 39 years ago, and it's still working fine.
In January Cassini will release the attached Huygens probe, which will then parachute onto Saturn's moon Titan, the one place in the solar system other than Earth where a person can survive without a spacesuit. (Of course you would need an oxygen tank and very warm clothes.) Never before has a probe landed on a world we knew so little about. Nobody even knows whether the surface is solid, liquid, goo, or some of each. Titan's atmosphere is quite opaque, so nobody has ever seen the surface.
Titan has figured in numerous SF novels. Most notably Heinlein's The Puppet Masters, which populated it with brain slugs, and James P. Hogan's Code of the Life Maker and The Immortality Option, which gave it mechanical life. Ironically enough, Titan does not figure in John Varley's Titan, even though that novel is set in Saturn's system.
Cassini is not the wave of the future, however. It is the last of a dying breed -- the multi-billion dollar probes. The consensus is that that's just too much money. Saturn is nearly a billion miles from the sun and the earth. It would take tens of thousands of years to walk that far. But divide the cost by that distance, and you'll find that Cassini cost over $3 per mile. I've often walked to save less money than that! As wonderful as Cassini's results will be, there's little doubt that we can get far more scientific knowledge per dollar by doing other things.
Newer probes, such as the two rovers currently active on Mars, and the recently-launched Messenger probe that in 2009 will be the first probe to orbit Mercury, cost only about a tenth as much, and often return better science. And, while they sometimes fail, so do the billion dollar probes. The Galileo Jupiter orbiter was very nearly a total loss, due to the failure of its main antenna to open. Data had to be dribbled back at less than the speed of an old teletype, which as every Internet user knows, is horribly slow for image data. (It's impressive that anything at all could be received from a twenty watt non-directional transmitter hundreds of millions of miles away.) Mars Observer was a total loss.
Here's a table of solar system exploration that I've put together from a variety of sources:
We've come a long way, but we have much further to go. I advise patience. A history of the exploration of the world shows that many places were visited once, then not again for sometimes a century or two. But everything got thoroughly explored eventually.
Be prepared for surprises. Who would have guessed that the Southwest Passage would first be sailed in the 16th century, but the Northwest Passage not until the 20th? Who knows whether the first permanent moonbase will be in this century, or not for another 400 years? Or whether the moon will be dismantled to build trillions of space stations, instead of people living on or just under its surface as if it were another Earth?
My hope is that more money will be invested in life prolongation, so that we can live to see how it all turns out. It's been estimated that cryonics can be perfected for just ten million dollars, which is less than one half of one percent the cost of Cassini. It has the potential of letting nearly all of us live for as long as civilization lasts.
[This isn't really quite what I was looking for in my WSFA Fan Gallery. For those of you who didn't see the Fan Gallery on the third floor of the Hynes Convention Center at Noreascon 4, it can be seen online at http://scifiinc.net/scifiinc/gallery/list/. Entries like that are more what I'm looking for, from everyone. But I'll print this anyway. Gayle's street address remains in the online version with her permission. -- the editor.]
Q: How did you find out about WSFA? Have you ever been a member of an SF club before? What made you come out to see us?
A: I found WSFA from clicking on a link on the Baltimore SF group's home page. We'd been up there to do a couple of mailings prior to the Baltimore Worldcon. We'd never joined a SF club before but knew that we wanted to get more involved locally. We rather thought driving to Baltimore was a bit far and looked for something closer. Keith sent the directions and was very helpful in checking out the pet situation for me (I'm highly allergic to cats and dogs). Then we had to wait until I thought I could manage 2-3 hours in a home with cats (that took a bit of dealing with my allergist so with max meds and an epi-pen) we finally made it to some meeting. It was nice to see some familiar faces from past Worldcons so it wasn't like being in with all strangers.
Q: Do you go to cons? What was the best con you ever attended? Have you ever volunteered to help out at a con?
A: We usually attend Worldcon each year. Paul and I spent our honeymoon at the Worldcon in Boston (1989) so it's our anniversary each year. We usually volunteer some hours. I've worked films (learned to do the 35mm film projection), registration, information, con ops, tech crew, usher at masquerade and Hugos, and one year worked the green room.
When we lived in Rhode Island we also went to a couple of Readercons. I really enjoyed them since they were smaller and centered on books. Hi, my name is Gayle and I'm a bookaholic. The one I remember most fondly was when Ursula LeGuin was the Guest of Honor. She was very funny with a dry, acerbic humor.
Q: What do you like, SF, Fantasy, some variant of either or both? Who do you read? If you had to pick three favorite authors, who would they be?
A: I enjoy Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, combinations of any and all. I also read a lot of children's and young adult fiction and non-fiction. I'm list administrator for several writing groups in the Internet Writing Workshops (fiction, yawrite, sfchat, and I help out on poetry occasionally).
I have a very difficult time picking three favorite authors not because I don't have 3 faves but because I have trouble limiting it to 3. I think my top three would have to include Charles deLint, C.J. Cherryh (especially her earlier stuff), and Stephen Baxter.
Q: When did you realize you were a fan? What was the first genre book you remember reading for fun?
A: I think I've always been a fan. I remember Podkayne of Mars as the first book I recognized as science fiction. I finished all the children's books in my home town library and I had to get my mother to write me a note so I could get books out of the adult section. Actually, I'd been reading books from the adult section but the librarian wouldn't let me have any of the Tarzan books without permission (it wasn't appropriate for young ladies :)
Q: What do you do when you're not reading or coming to WSFA meetings? What's your day job like? Do you have any skills or knowledge that you'd be willing to share with the club?
A: What pays the bills is my job as a computer analyst (current title). Basically, I've been programming for over 20 years and have had a slew of titles, some impressive, some not so, but it all meant I dealt with computers. Prior to moving into programming I was a counselor. I worked with disadvantaged youth (mostly from the juvenile justice area or truants). I also helped found a Parents Anonymous group hoping to stem some of the abuse that I had to deal with from the children's side. Eventually, I burned out and moved to computers. You hit a key and run a program and it works or it doesn't but it never says, “I would work but...” or make excuses.
I'm also working on writing my own fiction. Mostly, I collect rejection notices which have advanced from form letters to much more personal rejections. Eventually, I'm sure I'll click with the right story in the right place at the right time.
Q: Hobbies and Interests?
A: I'm into crafts. I spin my own yarn from sheep to yarn to sweater -- I handle the entire process. I'm in the process of designing a scarf for a breast cancer project. Since I'm a breast cancer survivor it's not only an opportunity to get my foot in the design door but to help advance cancer research.
I'm also getting back into photography. It's fun but I find it hard to believe how much I'd forgotten. I've got a Canon Digital Rebel with lots of bells and whistles and I'm mostly playing with the various settings trying to get a feel for them so I'm not always having to think about what I'm doing when I take a picture. Since I can't get the camera into my work building and I don't want to leave it to bake in the car -- I don't get to do much until the weekends. There's just never enough time.
Q: Do you have a personal webpage?
A: Not yet. It's on my list of things to do. My ISP has a space for me but I just haven't managed to get the thing together.
Q: Any favorite quotes? (up to 3)
A: My favorite quote is one from The Long Kiss Goodnight which is:
May the best of your past be the worst of your future.My sig is my next favorite and others change with mood and occasion.
[Her sig is
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” -- Theodore Roosevelt-- the editor]
Q: Do you want to be on the club holiday card list? If so, what's your address and phone number?
A: Sure: Gayle Surrette 16440 Baden Westwood Road Brandywine, MD 20613 301-579-6572
Q: Have you ever written any fiction, reviews or criticism?
A: Yes, and yes. I used to put a lot of book reviews up on Amazon but sort of got out of the habit. I've written a few reviews for sfchat in order to stimulate discussion. And mostly, I've never really got a handle on when a book review crosses that line to become a literary criticism. However, I do recognize when a review becomes a synopsis of the book and therefore a spoiler.
Q: Would you like to try doing a book review or article? Both the WSFA Journal and SFRevu are always interested in new writers.
A: Sure, I'd be interested.
Q: If you could be any character you wanted from a favorite book, who would you be?
A: That's a tough one. Actually, I tend to like characters who are competent, individuals who don't put up with crap from anyone. However, every one I can think of has some drawback. Ripley gets implanted with an alien. Cordelia Vorkosigan has to live with all those Barrayarans. Miri Robertson has to deal with all those Liadian issues. So, it's hard to say.
Q: I missed the chance to get your pictures...is there any chance you have something digital you could send?
A: I have several but they're on the desktop and that's currently unavailable. I'll try to send one later this week when I get a chance to look through them. I've got to clean up my disk anyway.
Q: Thanks! Ernest Lilley
A: This was kind of fun.
Excerpted under fair use from an article in the September 4, 2004 Boston Globe (which was illustrated with a picture showing several people including former WSFAn Kent Bloom):
One exhibit, perhaps with a nod to the Republican National Convention as it wrapped up Thursday in New York and to July's Democratic National Convention in Boston, asks passersby to vote for the “First Citizen of Fantopia.” The candidates are Robert Heinlein, Mary Shelley of “Frankenstein” fame, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. “Vote Mary Shelley -- She'll Bring Good Things to Life,” reads one campaign sign. An advocate for Heinlein, spotting two young women, declares: “A vote for Heinlein is a vote for women!” Retorted one woman: “Not really. How many women are there in his books?”
The photos are by Ernest Lilley, and were not part of the Boston Globe article. Thanks to John Pomeranz for organizing the event, and to everyone who participated. We'll have to do it again at Noreascon 5.
The results? Mary Shelley 104, Robert Heinlein 102, H.G. Wells 53, Jules Verne 49, Doc Smith 33.
Speaking of John Pomeranz, he won Noreascon's Zen Scavenger Hunt.
I apologize for the lack of Alexis's cartoons. They need to either be scanned in again at higher resolution, or photocopied directly onto the hardcopy journal as previous Journal editors did it. Sam still has all the cartoons. Hopefully I'll be able to get them in time for November's issue.
The deadline for November's issue is Fifth Friday (October 29th). Earlier if possible. 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.
Also in the November issue I'll have more by Lee Strong, Alexis cartoons (if I can get them from Sam by then), and of course the regular features: meeting minutes, November '4 in history, upcoming events, and what to look forward to in the December issue. I may also have a report on the WSFA web site, or I might save that for the next issue.