Editor: Keith Lynch. Assistant editor: Wade Lynch.
Please direct all correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put either “for publication” or “not for publication” on the subject line.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.
The past thirty years of WSFA Journals are online at http://www.wsfa.org/. The minutes of the latest meeting are also online there if it's been more than a few days since that meeting.
There are several ways to get to our house, some a bit shorter than what I'm about to relate, but this is probably the easiest to follow, with the least number of opportunities for gotchas!
Get on the Beltway and travel around to Route 4 south (in the southeast quadrant of the Beltway).
Head south for just over 7½ miles on Route 4 and take the exit for Rt. 301 south (it's the first of the two 301 exits).
Travel south on 301 for just a bit over 3½ miles and take a left onto Croom Road. (This will be the second set of lights you come to after getting on 301.)
Head down Croom for just over 12 miles and take a right onto Baden Westwood Road. (Note: You will come around a corner and see a cell phone tower over the trees. Once you see this, you will go up a small rise and down into a dell before another hill. At the base of the dell is the turn for Baden Westwood. There is a street sign, but at the speed limit it's easy to overshoot. The turn is fairly sharp ... probably 110-120 degrees.)
The unnamed (and unmarked) farm road we live on lies 0.4 miles down Baden Westwood. It's at the top of a hill with a large number of mailboxes on the left side of the Baden Westwood (including the one for our house, 16440). Turn right onto the farm road. (NOTE: The farm road is the second right after you turn onto Baden Westwood Road and looks like a driveway.)
About 0.1 miles down the road, you'll see a farm house in front of you and the farm road makes a left turn. Follow the road to the left. You'll see a trailer on your left and a field with a few trees on your right and a bend in the road ahead. Our house is just beyond the bend.
Pull over off the road anywhere along this stretch, then walk down the road to our house. We do have a driveway which can take a couple of cars, but if more that few come in, it will be difficult for anyone to get back out without a lot of shifting around. I would suggest that the club officers (and anyone else who has trouble walking) come all the way down the road and park in our driveway, and everyone else just find a nice spot along the farm road. It's only a few feet and shouldn't be a problem.
You'll be able to recognize our house easily. It's the 3-story, A-frame, chateau style house with a Mickey/Minnie Mouse flag flying at the end of the driveway. (Don't blame us, it came with the house and is a marker for all the delivery companies so we're stuck with it.)
And if you go too far, you'll just end up where the road ends (about 0.1 miles further) at our neighbor's house.
We look forward to seeing you all.
Paul & Gayle
Editor's note: This location is not at all transit accessible. Sam Lubell and Tamara Griesel both volunteered to drive people to and from Metro. Sam Lubell can be reached at 301-468-7744. I don't have contact information for Tamara, but will attempt to get it at First Friday. Email me after that to get it.
She was a member, and past treasurer and board member, of BSFS. She was a member of the Costumers' Guild, and won numerous costume awards at various cons, including Costumecons and Worldcons. She was a fanzine Hugo Nominee in 1986. She frequently volunteered at Disclaves. She was married to Marty Gear, Disclave 1990's Fan Guest of Honor. She died on June 25th. As of this writing (still June 25th) funeral details have not yet been worked out.
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 by President Sam Lubell at 9:15 pm on June 3rd, 2005, in the downstairs of the Madigans' in Greenbelt, Maryland.
In attendance were President Samuel Lubell, Secretary Keith Lynch, Trustee Lee Gilliland, Capclave 2007 Chair Colleen Cahill, Sholey Argani, Mike Bartman, Adrienne Ertman, Alexis Gilliland, Shirl Hayes, Scott Hofmann, Eric Jablow, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Candy and John Madigan, Keith Marshall, Walter and Zahra Miles, George Shaner, Steven Smith, William Squire, and Diana Swiger. 22 people, some of whom remained upstairs during the meeting. Jim Kling and Ivy Yap were marked present, but weren't seen by the secretary. Evan Phillips and Madeleine Yeh arrived after the meeting.
The president asked the secretary to summarize the previous meeting, which took place on Friday, May 20th, at the same location. The secretary said:
TREASURY: The president read the treasurer's report, which had been provided by email. We have $10,765.63 in our checking account, $9,346.25 in our World Fantasy account, and $15,015.87 in CDs, totaling $35,127.75. The $5,000 three-month CD had matured, and had been rolled over into a twelve-month CD.
CAPCLAVE PRESENT: Capclave '05 Chairfan Michael J. Walsh was absent. Colleen said that Capclave '05 now has 102 paid memberships, up from 64 before Balticon. She thanked everyone who helped with the Capclave table at Balticon. There was a duckpond, which was a success even though the ducks all sank. There were four dodo puppets. There were Hugo awards and a Howard award. There were books by our guest of honor Howard Waldrop, and books edited by our other guests of honor, but this caused some confusion, as people asked whether the books were for sale, or would be given away, and whether the authors of all those books, including Arthur C. Clarke, would really be at Capclave. The president said Clarke would be arriving by space elevator. The secretary said a photo of the table, taken by Ernest Lilley, was in the current WSFA Journal, along with an article about the table by Colleen.
CAPCLAVE FUTURE: Capclave '06 Chairfan Elspeth Kovar was absent.
CAPCLAVE FAR FUTURE: Capclave '07 Chairfan Colleen Cahill said her first priority is to get a hotel and weekend. Barry Newton is in charge of registration, Sam Scheiner will do programming, Judy Scheiner will do the dealer's room. Cathy Green is a floater between registration and programming, Bob MacIntosh is the treasurer, and Lee Gilliland is in charge of the con suite. She needs a hotel liaison. There will be a WSFA 60th anniversary celebration during Capclave '07. She sought ideas about that celebration. Lee suggested inviting former WSFAns.
ENTERTAINMENT: Alexis said he didn't have anything. The secretary asked him if he had any deep thoughts on Deep Throat. Mike Bartman said G. Gordon Liddy had proclaimed Mark Felt a traitor. This led to a discussion that the president had to put a stop to.
ACTIVITIES: Lee Gilliland will attempt to arrange author readings and talks at Arlington County libraries, similar to the ones she arranged there five years ago.
PUBLICATIONS: The secretary said that May and June WSFA Journals are available. June is the 400th issue, and the first issue to contain any Japanese text. The last 317 issues are available online. [By the end of the evening one May and ten Junes were taken.] Also, a sign-in sheet was circulating.
BOOK: Ernest Lilley wasn't present. The President said that the contracts have gone out, and he's started getting responses from the writers. The book may not be printed in time for Readercon. If it isn't, a chapbook will be provided instead.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
Alexis moved that “we amend the constitution a few times”. His motion was seconded. The president ruled the motion frivolous. Lee moved that the office of President be renamed the office of Kris Kringle. The president objected that that would require a constitutional amendment. Her motion failed for lack of a second. Adrienne moved that Lee's motion be amended that the office of president be renamed the office of Fearless Leader. Lee accepted that as a friendly amendment. The amended motion failed for lack of a second.
NEW TRADITION (as it was once called): Walter said it was Zahra Miles' first meeting. Lee objected that Zahra was not present, but remained upstairs. The president said “let the record reflect that this is Zahra Miles' first meeting. In thirty or so years, when she is WSFA president...” Nobody admitted to it being their second or third meeting. [It would have been Sholey Argani's second meeting, except that she, too, remained upstairs, with her nine-month-old daughter Zahra.]
Instead of making his usual first announcement, the secretary announced that there had been a mysterious and annoying square dark spot in the light fixture in front of the Capclave table at Balticon, and that during tear-down, he borrowed a ladder and fished it out. It's blue, rubber or plastic, and says “BlueCross BlueShield Association National Labor Office”. He tossed it into the middle of the meeting room. Someone suggested it was a mouse pad. The secretary said it was too small for a mouse pad. Colleen, Lee, and several others said it was a jar opener. He retrieved it, and said he'd add it to WSFA's permanent archives. He also reminded everyone that the next two meetings, on June 17th and July 1st, will be at the Gillilands' in Arlington.
Candy, our hostess, made several announcements: Don't feed the dog chocolate. The white bunny bites. If there's toilet paper all over the bathroom floor, it's because she hasn't been in there to clean up since the dog ate the last roll.
Steve Smith is working again, as a contractor in Annapolis. It's a long commute against traffic, and he has to drive at less than 80 mph, or the cops will get interested.
There was a motion to adjourn. The president pointed out to those who complain that meetings are too long, that the meeting had lasted only 17 minutes. The secretary asked if we're allowed to adjourn without Bill Lawhorn. Eric Jablow suggested we postpone the adjournment for a few more seconds, for a reason he gave.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:33 pm. 18½ minutes, in honor of Watergate, at Eric Jablow's instigation.
A few people were still present when the secretary left at 12:30 am.
It was damp outside. It had rained earlier, and continued to intermittently mist all night. On the way to WSFA, the secretary saw a large turtle near the Greenbelt Metro station.
Summary of 6/3/05 meeting:
First and Third Friday Meetings at the Gillilands' and Ginters', with 43 and 37 people present. Treasury $4,311.21. Secretary Joe Mayhew had a WSFA photo album for inspection. It was announced that Disclave won't be returning to the Renaissance TechWorld next year. Disclave '96 Chairfan Bob MacIntosh had hotel packets from four hotels that wanted Disclave. Two WSFA Journals, six and twelve pages, were published in July. (Two issues were published almost every month from early 1995 through mid-1996, ending only when editor Joe Mayhew had a heart attack.)
First Friday at Peggy Rae's home; Third Friday at Unicon. 37 people were at First Friday; attendance wasn't taken at Third Friday. Treasury $5,482.60. There was discussion of bylaw amendments to make it easier to replace club officers. There was also discussion with WSFA's tax lawyer about our tax status. The 4-page July WSFA Journal, which consisted only of meeting minutes and our constitution and bylaws, was Ginny McNitt's first issue. She replaced Beverly Brandt as editor, and would be replaced after a year by Erica Ginter. Coca-Cola (re-)introduced “Coke Classic”.
No WSFA Journal (that I can find a copy of, anyway) was published between December 1974 and August 1978. Nor do I have any other non-Disclave WSFA information from most of that time. Anyone with such information please contact me.
Meetings on First and Third Friday at Elizabeth Cullen's in Washington, DC, with 29 and 23 people present. Treasury $82.32. It was announced that Disclave cost the club $14.99. The motion to open meetings with a prayer was tabled. The club voted its Hugo ballot. Don Miller announced that WSFA Journal #4 was available. (Unfortunately, that is the one 1960s issue that's missing from both our official archives and Alexis Gilliland's stash. Does anyone have a copy?) The bill establishing Medicare was signed by (U.S.) President Johnson.
Meetings on First and Third Sunday at Dot Cole's in Arlington, with nine and thirteen people present, including Ted White, but nobody else who has been to WSFA in recent years. Treasury $39.70. President-elect Ted White asked why we weren't bidding for the “convention” (i.e. Worldcon). He also suggested that either honorary members should not vote, or else they should count toward a quorum. Secretary Philip N. Bridges said that in that case we'd never get a quorum. Trustee-elect Joe Vallin denounced “freeloaders” who attend but don't pay dues. Vice President-elect Bob Pavlat explained the Worldcon rotation system. Philip Bridges moved that we accept a bid if one is made. This motion passed unanimously. Bob Pavlat moved that no WSFAn be authorized to bid for the Worldcon. His motion passed. (WSFA elections were held in May, as they still are, but the new officers didn't take office until September.) A recording of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds radio play was played after the Third Sunday meeting.
Probably every one of us has played the desert island game, where we decide which music, foods, or other items we would take if trapped on a desert island. For me, Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination will always be on the list. This mix of adventure, romance, and all the sides of human nature is one of my favorite stories, one that I am glad is back in print.
Discoveries bring change to human cultures and none were more influential than the breakthrough of the jaunte, the ability of mankind to teleport. It is in these worlds (as humanity has also settled through the solar system) that Gully Foyle lives: a space Merchant Marine whose talents are “stunted by lack of ambition”. This changes after Gully is the only survivor of a disaster on the Nomad, where he lives in the last airtight compartment on the ship. It is not this solitary prison that transforms him as much as his abandonment by another spaceship even after it sees his rescue signals. Now Gully has all the motivation he needs: revenge on the Vorga, the ship that left him to die.
Before you feel too sorry for Gully, be aware he is a crude individual, of no education or manners, and in his thirst for vengeance he is also ruthless and willing to destroy anything or anyone that gets in his way. He is also a very noticeable person after his encounter with an interesting group of “Scientific People” in an asteroid belt who honor him by tattooing his face with stripes and swirls, transforming it into a tiger mask. What Gully is unaware of is while he is stalking the Vorga, he is being sought by Presteign, a power man who wants to know where the Nomad is, and more importantly, the location of the secret weapon PyrE. This personal battle between Gully and Presteign will grow to envelope the entire Earth and all the planets, with the future of mankind at stake and the stars as the prize.
This work could be argued to be fantasy, as the science is weak, but I still feel it is a classic of science fiction with a dystopia feeling, as the freedoms of most are being withheld by a small group of powerful people. Bester gives us a dark world of corporate government and human teleportation and it is not much of a stretch to say he inspired many other writers, from William Gibson to J. Michael Straczynski. What impressed me the most was the timelessness of this work, which I never would have suspected was written in the 1950s. The touches of humor, which can almost be cynical at times, combine with the creative use of typography, and strong characters to give us a complex and compelling tale of human emotion and struggle. And most of all, it's fun! That's why The Stars My Destination is a book I will cherish and re-read regularly.
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. Also, it contains links to more information about the events. This is a regular feature of The WSFA Journal.
[ Editor's note: Lee Strong has resigned from WSFA, and prefers that no WSFA member except Sam Lubell contact him for any reason. However, he has not rescinded his permission to print the material he had previously submitted to the WSFA Journal. ]
This is a nice little story about clashing cultures and the importance of good will in settling disputes.
Refuge is a colonial planet settled by human refugees from bomb-scarred, overpopulated Earth. The Loafers are the psionic, environmentally responsible humanoid natives who fear the submergence of their own ecologically oriented culture. Social clashes are heightened when Loafers develop improvements in their own mental powers and in human matter transmission technology.
In 1965, this story broke some new ground in discussing psionics and ecology. Time has passed it by, and many will find this old hat. Certainly, most of the characters are rather two dimensional and most of the challenges even more stilted. However, I found it worth a read for its reminders of the value of respect for others and cooperation.
I rate The Loafers of Refuge as *** on the 5 star scale. -- LS
Mr. Bergamini is clearly writing a wish fulfillment fantasy here. “Unfortunately, I have the disadvantage of knowing something about this subject,” to paraphrase Robert Heinlein in Farmer in the Sky, and can't accept paranoia disguised as fiction.
Some time in the future, the US Government assembles a team of scientific geniuses and allows them to run freely around an unguarded ultra top secret installation stuffed with one million nuclear tipped rockets despite the fact that they are all left-wing twits opposed to the business-dominated First, Second and Third Governments of the United States. The twits realize that this installation is intended to move, terraform and colonize Venus just in time to save human civilization. So, naturally, with some help from the appointed President of the United States, they take things over, terraform Venus and colonize it. SURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The author is attempting two stories here, one scientific, and the other political. Unfortunately, the latter swamps the former and suspension of disbelief fails. The characters are relentlessly one dimensional and their discussions are merely technical briefings, not true debates. Mr. Bergamini introduces a lot of offhand political comments about how lousy things are politically and environmentally, but never explores or justifies them. Since they are uniformly wildly at odds with reality, I can't take them on faith, and must chalk it up to the author's paranoia. A great pity. The idea of moving and terraforming Venus is a magnificent idea, ruined here by miserable treatment.
I rate Venus Development as ** on the 5 star scale as being clearly inferior to the average science fiction story but not without some appeal to those with specialized interests. -- LS
One hundred years ago, in 1905, at age 26, Albert Einstein made three major discoveries, any one of which would have had more than sufficed as a physicist's life work.
In last month's exciting issue I mentioned the best-known of them, his Special Theory of Relativity.
He is also largely responsible for the other 20th century revolution in physics: quantum mechanics.
It had been known for decades that sometimes if you shine a bright light on one terminal of a vacuum tube, current would flow, but only from the dark terminal to the lit terminal, never vice versa.
More recently it had been discovered that the wavelength of the light was critical. For each material, there was a wavelength below which current would flow, and above which it wouldn't. How much current flowed depended on how bright the light was, but if the wavelength wasn't short enough for the material, no current at all would flow, no matter how bright the light was. Red light worked on hardly any material. Blue light worked on several. Ultraviolet worked on nearly everything.
It had also been learned that current in vacuum tubes is carried by negatively charged particles (electrons), which meant that the particles were actually flowing from the lit electrode to the dark electrode, not the other way around.
Einstein explained this by postulating that light of each wavelength came in packets of energy -- quanta -- whose energy was inversely proportional to the wavelength. If a single quantum of light energy -- a photon -- had enough energy to knock an electron loose from an atom of the material, then current would flow. For each one photon, one electron would be knocked loose.
(So it's appropriate that we have a name, not just for a mole (Avogadro's number, about 6.02 x 1023) of atomic mass units (a gram), electrons (a faraday), of molecules (a mole), and of Boltzmann's constants (the gas constant), but also for a mole of photons: an einstein.)
It's also appropriate that he won the Nobel prize for this discovery. What's puzzling is that he didn't win more for his other discoveries. He never got one for either the Special or the General theory of Relativity
This implied that light consists of particles. This was very strange, since that had been the consensus a couple centuries earlier, but it was replaced, for very good reasons, with the consensus that light consisted of waves.
After Einstein's insight, it gradually became evident, not merely that light was somehow both a particle and a wave, but that every particle is also a wave, and that every wave is also a particle. The two concepts are inseparable. A generation after J.J. Thomson discovered the electron, and showed that it was a particle, his son, G.P. Thomson, showed that it was a wave. Both of them received Nobel prizes for their discoveries.
Nobody has ever measured the wavelength of a person, but there's no doubt that people have wavelengths, as does the earth, and all other particles, no matter how large or complex.
Nobody has ever measured the energy of a quantum of a water wave, but there's no doubt that water waves are particles (distinct from water molecules), just as all other waves are. Quanta of high frequency sound waves in solids -- phonons -- have been measured.
Einstein's three discoveries are a major part of what made the 20th century different from the 19th, both in their respective realities and in their respective fictions.
Next month I will write about his third major discovery of 1905.
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 President Sam Lubell at 9:15 pm on June 17th, 2005, in the downstairs of the Gillilands', at 4030 8th Street in Arlington, Virginia.
In attendance were President Samuel Lubell, Vice President Cathy Green, Secretary Keith Lynch, all three trustees (Lee Gilliland, Ernest Lilley, and Barry Newton), all three Capclave Chairfen ('05 Michael Walsh, '06 Elspeth Kovar, and '07 Colleen Cahill), Mike Bartman, Adrienne Ertman, Carolyn Frank, Alexis Gilliland, Andrew, James, and Tamara Griesel, Paul Haggerty, Eric Jablow, Judy Kindell, Bill Lawhorn, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Judy Newton, Kathi Overton, John Pomeranz, Rebecca Prather, Anna Reed, Emily Richter, Judy and Sam Scheiner, George Shaner, Steven Smith, William Squire, Gayle Surrette, Elizabeth Twitchell, Adele Tyhurst, and Madeleine Yeh. 37 people, of whom only 15 were present at the start of the meeting. Dan Joy, Dennis Landis, Evan Phillips, and Ted White either arrived after the meeting or remained upstairs during the meeting. Jim Kling, Cat Meier, and Ivy Yap were marked present, but weren't seen by the secretary.
The president asked the secretary to summarize the previous meeting. The secretary said our previous meeting was on June 3rd at the Madigan's, and:
TREASURY: The treasurer wasn't present, nor had he provided a report to anyone who was present.
ENTERTAINMENT: Alexis said Bill Frist was asked about the results of the Terri Schiavo autopsy, and explained away his earlier comments by saying he had been speaking as the head of an HMO, and not as a doctor. Lee said a Columbia University Latin professor reported having been attacked, in New York City, by a bunch of “hoodla”. She added that in Las Vegas the accepted plural of ”Elvis impersonator” is “Elvi”.
ACTIVITIES: Lee said there were too few people to ask how many would be interested in volunteering for fundraising at “PBS” in November. [Presumably she means WETA.] The president pointed out there was plenty of time before then. Richard said he was peeved that WETA radio dropped classical music. Cathy said WETA TV doesn't carry enough British SF. Lee said she was getting tired of Antiques Roadshow.
PUBLICATIONS: The secretary said that June WSFA Journals were available for anyone who didn't get one at the previous meeting. [By the end of the evening eight had been taken.] He reminded everyone that the past 30 years of Journals are online. He said that Lee had asked, just before the meeting, to have the address and directions to the Gillilands' placed online, and that he would do so this weekend if nobody objected. [Nobody objected, and the directions are now online.]
Ernest said the book is “noodling along”. He has a stack of contracts back from authors. The contracts were vetted by Cathy, who did the “boiling down of the boilerplate”. All the contracts should be in over the course of this week. The book should go to the printer within two weeks. It definitely won't be printed in time for Readercon next month, but there will be a chapbook there, which will include a story, a table of contents, and a short piece on WSFA by Sam. Cathy suggested also including a Capclave ad. There may be DC-area signings. The president suggested waiting until the book is printed before scheduling any signings. Elspeth suggested a signing at Politics & Prose. Ernest suggested a wine and cheese reception at Olsson's, and said Brenda Clough had volunteered to read her short story at such an event.
Elspeth asked about the cover. Ernest referred the question to Gayle. Gayle said that the artist is looking at the requirements from the publisher. It won't be a wrap-around cover. Elspeth asked whether this was just the art, or also the layout and design. Gayle said just the art. Barry said he knows a free designer. Ernest said we can't afford free, as we're short on time. Elspeth knows a professional.
Ernest distinguished between con events and bookstore events. At con events, the purpose is to have fun, and it doesn't matter if the chapbook isn't the optimal promotional strategy; at bookstores, we should wait until the book is printed. Drew Bittner is in charge of promotions, and should soon return from having just been married.
Keith said that he hadn't yet seen the introductions, and hoped he'd get them in time to proofread them, and Sam's short piece on WSFA, before the book goes to the printer. [Keith has since proofread both.]
Someone asked if the book would be ready in time for Worldcon (which will be in Glasgow on the first weekend of August). Ernest said no, but the poster that was at our table at Balticon can be used again at the Worldcon. There won't be a WSFA/Capclave table at the Worldcon, but Mike Walsh will have a table in the dealers' room. He volunteered to have it on his table. Ernest said he can print more ARCs. Elspeth said she wanted to give one to Ken McLeod.
Cathy has fliers for people to distribute. They have both the current and upcoming rates, so they won't be obsolete at the end of the month. Barry has signup forms, if anyone wants to join and hasn't done so yet. Judy Scheiner, who is in charge of the dealers' room, has four dealers so far, plus queries from more people than the dealers' room can hold.
Judy also said that Farpoint, an SF media con held in Baltimore every February, wants to do a table swap, i.e. they get a free fan table at Capclave, and Capclave gets a free fan table at Farpoint. Rich asks if any of us will be at Farpoint to sit behind such a table. The president suggested we could give them a fan table even if we don't have a fan table at Farpoint. They'd be paying a registration fee, anyway. But, he added, it's up to the chair.
Barry said we now have 131 total members, including 106 paid members. Mike Walsh said this includes former WSFA meeting hosts Kent Bloom and Mary Morman. When Colleen asked Guest of Honor Howard Waldrop if he would come to the Library of Congress, he said “swell”. Mike Walsh said that's his favorite word. The president pointed out that the day before Capclave will be Yom Kippur. Mike said he doesn't think he's Jewish. Cathy said that can be fixed.
Mike said he sends email to the fan guests of honor, the Nielsen Haydens, and doesn't get the replies via email, instead they appear in their blogs. Cathy suggested sending snail mail with delivery confirmation. Mike had talked to Walter Miles, who is in charge of programming, but Walter is busy being a new father. [Three days after the meeting Walter resigned; a new programming head is needed.] Adrienne suggested having the program participants draw topics from a hat. Mike suggested simply putting Howard Waldrop and Gardner Dozois in a room together.
Keith asked about the listing of members on the website. He had blocked access to the list of members that webmasters Gayle and Paul provided, not because he's trying to usurp their authority, but because the club had decided at the February 27th Capclave meeting that members would not be listed on our website. After some discussion, it was clear that the new consensus was that members should be listed, but only if they opt in. Barry had asked all the members he could contact if they opted in, most did, and Paul had an HTML file containing just those names. Keith agreed to put that file online tomorrow. [This has since been done.]
CAPCLAVE FUTURE: Capclave '06 Chairfan Elspeth Kovar apologized for the fact that, due to poor health, she's had to miss recent meetings and said that although they were working on the situation it was likely to continue for a while. She has contacted her two preferred guests of honor, whom she didn't name. The committee has some spots that still need filling. Keith asked her to check the Capclave '06 website, and to inform the Capclave webmasters if it's not up to date. Elspeth asked that the What's New section of the WSFA website's main page point to Capclave '06 as well as Capclave '05, but not quite yet.
CAPCLAVE FAR FUTURE: Capclave '07 Chairfan Colleen Cahill needs a hotel, a hotel liaison, and some other committee members. She said there will be a WSFA 60th anniversary celebration at her con. Ernest said WSFA should retire five years later. Eric suggested waiting until it's 69.
WORLD FANTASY '03: Chairfan Mike Walsh said we still don't have all the money. He's faxing the recalcitrant publishers, when he can find fax numbers, which isn't easy. [Redacted] owes us three to four thousand dollars for advertising. [Redacted] also owes us money for advertising. And there are others. Rich moved that the chairfan provide a complete list of debtors and amounts, for publication. There was no second. Elspeth suggested that we not publish the names, as it's partly our fault for sending the bills late. Keith asked if she meant to include the names that Mike had already said. She said yes. Ernest made it a motion. It passed, so those names are redacted from the record.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
Elspeth asked about the status of the capclave.org domain. It was explained that we own it, that it's maintained by Sam Lubell, and that it's currently just a pointer to the Capclave '05 section of the WSFA website, http://www.wsfa.org/capc05/. It's not hosted by Panix. It never needs editing, except that if Panix goes down, it can be repointed to Capclave '05 section of the backup site, http://keithlynch.net/wsfa/capc05/. (Also, it is of course repointed at the following year's Capclave each year.) Nobody but Sam Lubell has the password, which is needed for the repointing.
Colleen moved that “the Capclave committee investigate and report back the advantages and disadvantages to the club in a reasonable amount of time”. The motion passed. Keith asked who was on the Capclave committee. The president said all current Capclave chairfen (Mike Walsh, Elspeth Kovar, and Colleen Cahill), the president (Sam Lubell), the treasurer (Bob MacIntosh), and the secretary (Keith Lynch). Mike Bartman said the Capclave webmasters (Paul Haggerty and Gayle Surrette) should also be on it. No meeting was scheduled.
The president pointed out that July has a Fifth Friday, and that we have a tradition of having a party on Fifth Fridays. Elizabeth moved that the Pomeranz/Overton 4th of July picnic be deemed Fifth Friday. Madeleine objected, saying it made no mathematical sense. Elizabeth's motion passed.
Keith pointed out that the majority of attendees had arrived after the meeting had begun. He asked people to please try and arrive on time, so that business doesn't have to be skipped or repeated, and meetings can be kept short. He suggested that if this isn't possible that we move the meeting time to a later hour.
NEW TRADITION: Nobody admitted to it being their first, second, or third meeting. John Pomeranz said “keep going”. [It was John's 167th meeting according to our records, which are certainly incomplete.] Adele, whose fifth meeting it was, said she has been unable to join, since the treasurer is never at the meetings she is at.
The secretary made the usual first announcement: Announcements should ideally be submitted in writing, or via the email. He also reiterated that the June WSFA Journal was available, and that a sign-in sheet was circulating.
One of the cats, Smoke, has epilepsy. Alexis said that was entertainment. Our hostess, Lee, made the usual second announcement: Use toilet paper, not paper towels, in the toilet.
Elspeth said that Bobby Gear, the wife of Marty Gear, and Karl Ginter's third grade schoolteacher, had had a stroke and also has cancer, and was in a hospice at Holy Cross. She read the following email from Marty:
We made the decision to put her into hospice at Holy Cross. They found blood clots in both legs, and because her blood does not seem to be behaving properly (they couldn't do the back surgery last night because her blood was missing clotting agents which doesn't make a whole hell of a lot of sense to me) they can't give her anti clotting agents for fear that she would start bleeding out. They will keep her on meds for the pain, but otherwise have taken her off all other medicines. Our feeling is that her time is measured in weeks if not days. Please pray for her to go quietly and not in pain.
She is not yet receiving visitors. Nicki said a quilt is being made for her by someone in Virginia.
Bill Lawhorn said the On The Net column by James Patrick Kelly in the latest Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine had listed Ernest's SFRevu as one of five contenders for a hypothetical best non-fiction site Hugo.
Elizabeth had a blue laundry cart upstairs that was full of free books, including two cookbooks and lots of SF. Anything not taken here will be given to Goodwill.
Rebecca had three announcements: She wrote a letter to the editor about Fairfax County's debt, which has been printed by several newspapers, including the Lorton Valley Star, the Falls Church News-Press, and the McLean Connection. She has been a 35mm slide photographer for years, but now she has a new digital camera (which she used after the meeting). Her third announcement was yet another attempt to talk the club into placing all its money in an interest-bearing account.
Colleen said P.J. Fischer, author of Julia and the Dream Maker would be speaking at the Library of Congress on Friday, August 12th. And that he's also a physicist.
Sam Scheiner is back from the Galapagos, where he heard a story about Charles Darwin: He was sailing around South America looking for a rare rhea, only to find it on his dinnerplate. He was able to get to the galley in time to save the head, neck, and one of the wings, which is now the type specimen for the species.
Kathi plans to see Miyazaki's latest film, Howl's Moving Castle, at the Odeon Cineplex at Shirlington this weekend. She invited other WSFAns to see it with her. Steve said that his wife Kit had seen it earlier this week and had said that it was “absolutely and totally mind-bogglingly incredible” Colleen said it was the all-time top-grossing movie in Japan. Elizabeth said that Slate said that the book is more of a Miyazaki movie than the movie. Colleen said the book was by Diana Wynne Jones. Ernest said there's a review of it in SFRevu.
Mike Walsh had books for sale, including not just the usual, but also used mass-market paperbacks that are three for two dollars.
Barry had Capclave sign-up forms. Sam had Capclave fliers.
Lee made the usual final announcement: Chairs are to be moved to the edges of the room after adjournment.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 pm. 55 minutes.
The last people left at about 12:30 am.
There was perfect spring weather. It was still somewhat light out when the meeting began.
Summary of 6/17/05 meeting:
After not hearing back much of anything except some ominous rumbling, we've just been assured that the Red Wine and Blue Cheese reception will be on the Readercon program, and supported by the con committee.
Joe and Gay Haldeman had just sent me an email saying it sounded like a hoot and they hoped it could be made to happen...so they may have had a hand.
It looks like it will be Saturday, July 9th, from 3-4 pm at Readercon, which is before the GoH interview, I think. I promised we'd loosen him up.
I've gotten permission from both Joe Haldeman and James Alan Gardner to use their stories in a chapbook for free. Well, free-ish. I owe them each ten copies of said chapbook. Which is fine, as I'm allergic to free things. They cost too much in the long run.
I got a quote from Kinkos on the chapbook, which should be about 32 pages with a full color glossy cover and wire (think staple) binding.
A 500-piece run would cost about $1700, but by adding my employee discount, a little arm twisting, and an agreement to come in off shift and do much of the work myself, I've gotten it down to about $415, or about 83 cents a book.
It will contain the WSFA history piece Sam wrote, as well as a Capclave flier, so we're getting several pieces of publicity for the price of one.
Lastly, and of more interest to the SFRevu staff, we've been assured that there will be a table for us in the dealer's room. Naturally we'll be promoting the FW book there as well. I need to talk to Mike Walsh about selling the chapbook at the con and other distribution questions.
The whole book is assembled, sans cover text, and is about ready for submission. Next step, doing the cover, and finalizing the price and release date. I'm thinking a formal date of September 2005, with a physical release in late August. Mike says that the later release will help bookstores ponder it.
A pangram is a sentence containing all 26 letters. The best known is “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”
A perfect pangram is one which contains each letter only once. Examples are “Cwm fjord bank glyphs vext quiz,” “Jumbling vext frowzy hacks PDQ,” and “Mr. Jock, TV quiz Ph.D., bags few lynx.” Nobody has yet found one that really makes sense, and consists of common words, with no abbreviations or proper names.
I've been thinking about how to write a computer program to find one.
The program would simply find a set of words that together contained each letter once and only once. A person would then inspect those words and see if they could be arranged into a grammatical sentence. Finding the set of words is the hard part. (Or a hard part, at least.)
One useful insight is that all regular English words that have a q have a u immediately follow it. Since a perfect pangram must contain exactly one q and exactly one u, they must be together. We might as well treat them as one letter. So the problem reduces to finding a 25-letter pangram.
One approach would be to try all possible arrangements of the 25-letter alphabet, and for each one, try to split it into words.
Unfortunately, this isn't feasible. There are over 15 trillion trillion possible permutations of 25 letters. If you could somehow test each arrangement in a single machine cycle on a 4 GHz machine, it would still take more than 100 million years to test them all.
A better approach is to build up a pangram from words, rather than trying to find words in random alphabet soup.
Start with a list of the N most common words. Discard all words which contain duplicate letters, since they obviously can't be part of any perfect pangram. Also discard anagrams -- there's no sense separately testing OPTS, SPOT, STOP, POTS, and TOPS, since if any of them work, all of them will.
Here's the bare-bones program:
For each word in the list:
Add the letters in it to the “in use” list.
If no letters appear twice:
If all 25 letters are in our “in use” list, we've found a possible
pangram; print it out.
Otherwise, recursively call the program.
Remove the letters in it from the “in use” list.
If a set of words doesn't work in one order, it won't work in any other order, so one obvious improvement is, when recursively calling the program, don't start with the first word, but with the first word after the word we're already on. Thus each possible set of words will be tested only once.
Since we don't care about anagrams, the order of the letters within each word doesn't matter. For the purposes of the program we only care about which letters are present and which absent, not about their order. Only after the program finds a possible pangram containing, say, the “word” OPST, will a person look up which word or words consist of those four letters and no others. This means that instead of dealing with character strings, the program need deal only with 25-bit integers. Each word is turned into an integer by starting with 0, then adding 1 if an A is present, adding 2 if a B is present, 4 if a C is present, 8 if a D is present, ... 33,554,432 if a Z is present, etc. So OPST becomes 835,584 (214 + 215 + 218 + 219). The advantage of this is that we can check for duplicate letters by ANDing two integers together. If the result isn't zero, there's a duplicate. If there's no duplicate, we can update our “in use” list by ORing them together, then later back out an unpromising word from the “in use” list with the AND NOT operation. This is much faster for any computer than character string processing.
The conversion of words into integers need only be done once. It's done before the main program starts running. So it's fast.
We do waste a lot of time repeatedly testing words only to discover, once again, that they have duplicate letters. What if there were a way to store this information, i.e. to keep track of how many words we need to jump over before we find one without any of the letters that are already in use?
There is a way. We can use linked lists. Each word can have an associated pointer telling where the next word that doesn't contain an A is. And another pointer telling where the next word that doesn't contain a B is. And yet another pointer telling where the next word that doesn't contain an A or a B is. But we'll soon run into trouble. With 25 letters, there would be 15 trillion trillion pointers for each word. For instance the “word” OPST would have a pointer showing where the next word which doesn't contain C, E, H, I, K, L, N, QU, or T, or Y. This would take an impossibly long time to compute, and an absurdly large amount of memory to store.
What we can reasonably do is have pointers for all combinations of the six most common letters, E, T, A, O, I, and N. That would mean each word would have 720 pointers. For instance a pointer to the next word which didn't contain E, A, or I. And pointer to the next word that didn't contain E, A, O, or N.
The obvious number of words to be put in the program's dictionary is 65,535. That way each pointer can be a 16-bit (2-byte) integer. (Not 65,536, since one pointer destination must be reserved to mean you've reached the end of the list of words.) Each word has 4 bytes to keep track of what letters are in the word, and 1440 bytes for its pointers. Actually, 1438, since you don't need a pointer for the next word that doesn't contain none or E, T, A, O, I, or N; that word will always be the adjacent word.
On second thought, one more pointer will bring it back to 1440: A pointer on each word used only when recursing, which points to the next word which contains no letters in common with that word.
I wonder if the ETAOIN is a red herring. Sure, those are the six most common letters in normal English text, but I'm trying to generate text in which all letters are equally common. I am thinking that those six letters will “go quickly,“ but if they do it will make finding a pangram all the harder. Or will it? If I do a complete search, the order obviously doesn't mater.
Perhaps instead of starting with the most common words, I should start with the NA most common words that contain the letter A, the NB most common words that contain the letter B, NC most common words that contain the letter C, etc., in order to get a dictionary that contains roughly equal numbers of each letter. Most likely NE would be zero, since so many of the most common words starting with other letters would contain an E. Similarly with other common letters. Very likely it won't be possible to get the number of Zs anywhere close to the number of Es, but it would be interesting to see how close I can get it, and how many obscure and unusual words I would have to accept. And what the best algorithm is for finding NA, NB, etc.
Would there then be any point in the ETAOIN pointers? Or would pointers for any other six letters work just as well?
When I get more free time, I look forward to working more with this. Meanwhile, there's much to be said for carefully thinking about algorithms, rather than just sitting down at a keyboard and hastily banging out some code to see what happens. The advantage of thinking is that I don't have to be at a keyboard to do it. It makes use of time I have to spend away from a keyboard, e.g. taking a shower, eating, or walking.
I eagerly solicit comments and suggestions. I'm also interested in opinions on whether this is the sort of article you want to see in the WSFA Journal. If I do ever come up with a perfect pangram, I will of course credit everyone who helped.
It's even possible that it will be of practical benefit. Typing “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” to test a keyboard doesn't take much more time than typing a hypothetical equally easy to memorize perfect pangram. But it does take a little more time. Perhaps a tenth of a second. But there are a lot of keyboards to test, and those tenths of a second add up. Even if it takes several years of work to find a perfect pangram, perhaps that effort will, in the long run, more than pay for itself. But even if it doesn't, I think it's worth doing just for the sheer playful fun of it. And for the joy of admiring the result, and the egoboo of sharing it with others, and seeing it in print for years, and knowing “I did that”.
This is Michael Khandelwal from Norfolk (Virginia Beach), Virginia. At Kelly's memorial service in L.A., I decided, after talking with Laura, Jacqui, and Paul Cartwright, to write a memorial for Kelly. Growing up, he was a father to me. His loss has hit me hard, but the kind of man he was helped shape me into who I am today.
This is to let you know that the memorial about Kelly Freas, the man, appears in this month's issue of Hampton Roads Magazine. It is a personal piece, as much about Kelly as a man, friend, and father, as about Kelly as an artist. There are reminiscences from Jacqui, Laura, Paul, me and others, and I think it turned out well. Also, a lot of his art accompanies the piece, including some that has never been published (his unpublished National Lampoon cover--it was too controversial--for example).
An excerpt from the piece can be found at:
The magazine can be sent anywhere in the country... The link to order a copy is:
Note: it is the May/June 2005 issue.
The main page from the magazine's website is:
If you wouldn't mind, please forward this email to who you think would be interested. There is a lot we would like people to know about Kelly, and this is the beginning of that journey.
FIRST: We, the undersigned, ROSA OLIVER, whose post office address is 9408 Michael Drive, Clinton, MD 20735, being at least eighteen years of age, do hereby form a corporation under and by virtue of the State of Maryland.
SECOND: The name of the Corporation (Which is hereinafter called the Corporation) is WASHINGTON SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION, INC.
THIRD: Said corporation is organized exclusively to promote social welfare under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code, by promoting knowledge of and interest in the science fiction genre in all its forms, including (but not limited to) literature, art, theater, film and television, sponsoring and promoting events and conventions to increase interest in and awareness of science fiction, and specifically planning, organizing, and conducting an annual science fiction convention in the Washington, DC area.
FOURTH: The corporation shall be non stock, and no part of the net earnings of the corporation shall inure to the benefit of, or be distributable to its members, trustees, officers, or other private persons, except that the corporation shall be authorized and empowered to pay reasonable compensation for services rendered and to make payments and distributions in furtherance of the purposes set forth in Article Third hereof. The corporation shall not engage in lobbying or any form of legislative or electoral activity. Notwithstanding any other provision of these articles, the corporation shall not carry on any other activities not permitted to be carried on by a corporation exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code.
FIFTH: The private property of the members of the Corporation shall not be liable for its corporate debts.
SIXTH: The period of duration of the Corporation shall be perpetual.
SEVENTH: Upon the dissolution of the corporation, assets shall be distributed for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, or the corresponding section of any future federal tax code, or shall be distributed to the federal government, or to a state or local government, for a public purpose. Any such assets not so disposed of shall be disposed of by a Court of Competent Jurisdiction of the county in which the principal office of the corporation is then located, exclusively for such purposes or to such organization or organizations, as said Court shall determine, which are organized and operated exclusively for such purposes.
EIGHTH: The post office address of the principal office of the Corporation in the State of Maryland is Erica Ginter. The name and post office of the resident agent in the State of Maryland is 10404 43rd Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705. Said resident is a citizen of the State of Maryland and actually resides there.
Editor's note: There are also WSFA Bylaws, which are available online, and which I will run in a future issue.
As usual, our queue of material is nearly empty. We still have an ample supply of cartoons by Alexis Gilliland and Steve Stiles, and of reviews by Lee Strong, but not much else. As always, I eagerly solicit material: Fannish autobiographies, reviews of books (old or new), movies (likewise), TV shows, conventions, or talks. Reports on new scientific discoveries. Letters of comment. Cartoons. Nearly anything. The deadline for the August issue is July's Fifth Friday. No, not July 4th, even though we voted to make that Fifth Friday. The other one: July 29th. In other words, you have an extra week to write something.
I will have a third and final article on Einstein's remarkable year. I will also have a response to S.M. Stirling's idea that scientific revolutions are extraordinarily unlikely, which I will also send a copy of to him in hopes of a response.