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 Please put either “for publication” or “not for publication” on the subject line.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.
This year's Worldcon, the 63rd, was held in Glasgow, Scotland, from August 4th through 8th. Many past and present WSFA members were present, including (to the best of the editor's knowledge) Covert Beach, Sheri Bell, Angela and Gerald Blackwell, Kent Bloom, Elaine Brennan, Chris Callahan, Steven Chalker, Art “Boots” Coleman, Scott Dennis, Jim and Terilee Edwards-Hewitt, Marc Gordon, Jack Heneghen, Tracy Henry, Bill Jensen, Judy Kindell, Elspeth Kovar, Perrianne Lurie, Brad Lyau, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Bob MacIntosh, Winton Matthews, Mary Morman, Michael Nelson, Barry, Judy, and Meridel Newton, Kathi Overton, Aly and Paul Parsons, Sam Pierce, John Pomeranz, Dick Roepke, Kathy and Leo Sands, John and Peggy Rae Sapienza, Tom Schaad, Judy and Sam Scheiner, T.R. Smith, Victoria Smith, Erwin “Filthy Pierre” Strauss, Michael Walsh, Eva Whitley, Martin Morse Wooster, and Beth and Mike Zipser.
The Seiun Awards for SF in Japanese translation were not awarded at the Worldcon; they will be awarded at the NASFiC.
The proposal to split the “Best Editor” Hugo Award category into separate categories for magazine editors and book editors passed. If ratified by next year's Worldcon in California, the awards in 2007 will have two best editor categories.
For the first time ever, there was no Worldcon site selection at the Worldcon. This is because voting has moved from three years in advance to two years in advance. The location of the 2008 Worldcon will be voted on at the 2006 Worldcon in California. Members of Interaction can vote in this site selection next year by mail. (People who are members of both the 2005 and 2006 Worldcons still only get one vote in the site selection, however.)
Australia is bidding for 2010. http://www.australia2010.org/
Washington DC is bidding for 2011. http://www.dcin2011.org/
Minneapolis is bidding for 1973. http://worldcon.org/bids/bid1973mpls.html
St. Louis is bidding for the 2007 NASFiC, which will be voted on at the 2005 NASFiC, CascadiaCon, which is near Seattle. Their bid page is http://www.stlf.org/archon/nasfic/.
The location of the 2007 NASFiC will voted on at the 2005 NASFiC, which will be held September 1st through 5th near Seattle. Only St. Louis is on the ballot. There was an Ocean City bid, but it seems to be defunct.
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 Vice President Cathy Green at 9:17 pm on August 5th, 2005, in the downstairs of the Gillilands', at 4030 8th Street South in Arlington, Virginia, the usual First Friday location.
In attendance were Vice President Cathy Green, Secretary Keith Lynch, Trustees Lee Gilliland and Ernest Lilley, Mike Bartman, Drew and Katherine Bittner, Chuck Divine, Adrienne Ertman, Alexis Gilliland, Paul Haggerty, Scott Hofmann, Eric Jablow, Bill Lawhorn, Don Lundry, Rebecca Prather, George Shaner, Steven Smith, Gayle Surrette, Michael Taylor, Elizabeth Twitchell, and Madeleine Yeh. 22 people. Ted White arrived after the meeting ended. Jim Kling and Ivy Yap were marked present, but weren't seen by the secretary.
The vice president asked the secretary to summarize the previous quasi-meeting, which took place on Friday, July 15th, at Gayle and Paul's in Brandywine, Maryland. He said:
TREASURY: No report, as the treasurer wasn't present.
CAPCLAVES PRESENT, FUTURE, AND FAR FUTURE: No report, as the chairfen weren't present.
Alexis read, “Kopi Luwak is a fine Sumatran coffee, much valued in Japan, made from beans gathered from the dung of Paradoxurus hermaphroditus, the common palm civet, which comes out at night to select the finest, ripest coffee cherries. It eats them, it digests the pulp, it digests the mucilage, it digests all the protective layers, but not the hard beans.” Someone mentioned that this was the most expensive coffee in the world. Chuck asked if a chromosome test had been done to see if the Japanese are really fully human.
Alexis then read from a letter he got. “It is a thousand thousand years into the future. Our world has changed. It is a world of super-science, high technology, and magical wonders. There are super-immortal and immortal humans who have power beyond mortal men. This world evil immortal beings, quiet with good immortal (emortal) humans because the latter wants to keep the former from enslaving mankind with by controlling man with evil immortal powers. This is the world of the muffins, little blue-headed humans whom many evil immortals hate and want to destroy. This is their story, once in a coming time in new America.” [The transcript is approximate, as the secretary never saw the letter, and Alexis was frequently drowned out by laughter and comments.] Cathy asked if the blue-headed beings were smurfs. Paul moved that “we accept the evil overlords if they will kill this author.” Adrienne moved that we “take the author to College Park for a week.” Both motions failed for lack of a second.
The secretary said that July and August WSFA Journals are available, and the last 30 years of issues are available online at wsfa.org. The August issue contains two reviews of MacLeod novels. [By the end of the evening 5 Augusts and 2 Julys had been taken.]
The Capclave '05 website has migrated to globat.com, and is working smoothly. The Capclave '06 and '07 websites have yet to move. The president asked if those had any contents yet. The secretary replied yes, for instance staff positions for '07 were announced several meetings ago, and can only be found by hunting through old meeting minutes; the Capclave '07 website is the obvious place to store that information.
Ernest said publication of the Future Washington anthology has slipped to October. The cover and dust-jacket have been completed. He posted one at the front of the room, and gave another to Keith for proofreading. He said the color wasn't quite right -- there was too much purple in the sky due to the RGB to CMYK conversion, and the artist would attempt to fix this. The book will go to the printer on Monday. Copies of the fully executed contracts have gone to all the authors in the continental US via certified mail. Adrienne had us applaud Ernest for his work on the book.
ACTIVITIES: Lee said a remake of King Kong was coming up in December, one which is very faithful to the original movie. She said some people had complained about the xenophobia. Ernest asked if that was fear of warrior women. [The pun doesn't work very well in writing, since I have to choose one spelling or the other. Sorry.] Eric said the movie shouldn't have been remade.
OLD AND NEW BUSINESS: None.
NEW TRADITION (as it was once called): Nobody remembered to ask if it was anyone's first, second, or third meeting, but according to our records it was Katherine Bittner's second meeting, and also Don Lundry's second meeting.
The secretary announced that a sign-in sheet was circulating. The sign-in sheet has a new feature: Anyone who has been to fewer than 10 meetings has their number of meetings listed next to their name, for ease in determining who is eligible to join. He also said announcements should ideally be submitted in writing, or via email. He read the following letter which Steve Smith had forwarded to the chat list a few hours earlier:
From: Dale Arnold
Several BWSMOF folks asked me about the memorial service over the weekend at Shore Leave, hence I am sending this paragraph I sent to the info@balticon list out to you all to make sure everyone who wants it is informed. Details in the text are from an email by Marty.
Bobby Gear Memorial Service:
Bobby Gear, a tireless worker at the Balticon Masquerade green room and manager of the BSFS Young Writers contest, passed away June 25th, 2005, from complications of pancreatic cancer. We will all miss Bobby's contribution to local SF fandom. A memorial service has now been scheduled as a celebration of Bobby's life, to be held on Saturday, August 6th, 2005, from 7:00 to 11:00 PM in The Great Room at Historic Savage Mill, 8600 Foundry Street, Savage, Maryland 20763.
For people attending from out of town there will be a special rate from Courtyard by Marriott, Columbia, 8910 Stanford Boulevard, Columbia, Maryland 21045. Ask for Patricia Jarava 410-290-0002 extension 625 and tell her you are there for Bobby Gear's celebration to get the rate.
He added that the email would be available for people to look at after the meeting. Keith also said that President Sam Lubell had emailed that he wouldn't be at this meeting since his mother is gravely ill, and he wants to spend as much time as possible with her.
Our hostess, Lee, made the usual second announcement: Use toilet paper, not paper towels, in the toilet, and don't let the cats outside.
She then said she was leaving Alexis in January.
After a pause, she continued, for 21 days, when she'll be going on a special tour of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, with Zahi Hawass and Kent Weeks as guides, sponsored by the Theban Mapping Project. She got one of just 23 slots. Alexis will host January's First Friday alone, so we should be sure not to make a mess, since he won't vacuum. Alexis said you don't know that he won't vacuum. Mike Bartman said that he (Mike) had vacuumed twice so far this year.
Ernest will be a bachelor from Labor Day through New Years', as his wife will be away in naval command training.
Chuck Divine is now the vice chair of the Baltimore section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is now friends with an intelligent, beautiful, tall, blonde, Volvo-station-wagon-driving American Indian from Alaska.
Elizabeth is getting a new car tomorrow, since her old car died in Arlington Cemetery. Her new vehicle is a gold-colored 2000 Mazda Millennium from Landmark Honda.
George moved last week, but is still in Arlington.
Rebecca had thumbnail photos on the wall, and asked for email addresses from anyone whose photos appeared there whom she hadn't emailed their photo to. She touted the Hexagoners, a group that does musical spoofs about Washington, which will be doing free performances at Lubber Run Park on August 12th and at Mason District Park on August 21st. Their usual performances cost $20, and are at a place downtown with worse acoustics. Lee warned people to bring insecticide.
Madeleine showed an eye-of-Sauron pendant she had made.
Ernest asked how many of us had not yet read Half-Blood Prince. Most of us raised our hands. Some didn't even know that it was the latest Harry Potter novel.
Our hostess, Lee, made the usual final announcement: Move chairs to the edges of the room after adjournment.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:44 pm. 27 minutes.
The last people left at 11:30 pm.
It was warm, damp, and threatening to rain all evening, with thunder and lightning, but no actual rain.
Summary of 8/5/05 meeting:
In the United States, Jules Verne is well known for his stories of adventure and science, but fewer are aware that he was also successful in the theater. In fact, Verne's original dream was to be a playwright and he wrote many plays before he gained fame as a novelist. His wealth came not only from being an author but from very profitable productions of his plays. Now English readers can enjoy one of Verne's most successful plays with the publication of Journey Through the Impossible.
First performed in 1882, Journey Through the Impossible is a combination of ideas and characters from Verne's previously published novels and short stories, focusing mostly on Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and From the Earth to the Moon. This is not a re-telling of those stories, but more a blending that is tempered with many other Verne works. The play centers around George Hatteras, son of the explorer Captain Hatteras (from Verne's polar expedition novel, Voyages and Adventures of Captain Hatteras). George is tormented by desires to go “Still farther!” and see what no man has seen. His fiancee Eva and her mother bring in Doctor Ox to try and cure these obsessions, but the doctor has other plans, mostly involving getting rid of George and winning Eva for himself. In an attempt to break George's fragile mind, he produces a magic potion that allows the young man to travel to the center of the earth, the depths of the oceans and to the planet Altor. But George is not without protectors: Eva and Mr. Tartelet, a friend and frustrated dancing instructor, join him in these journeys to exotic locations. Before the explorers leave, they meet Master Volsius, an extraordinary organist who appears later in the guise of Professor Lidenbrock, Captain Nemo, and Michel Ardan, all of whom attempt to counter the evil influences of Doctor Ox and show George the costs of his insane desires.
At the time this play was produced, it was a huge success, not just because of Verne's reputation as a writer, but because it was an extravaganza, full of theatrical magic, music and dance. It can be compared to a movie blockbuster of today, one with lots of neat special effects. Keeping this in mind, the reader will realize that is not intended to be a stage production of one of Verne's novels. In his fiction, Verne concentrated on what was possible, and his books were Extraordinary Voyages; this play moves into the unbelievable, using more magic than science. It also has more humor than many of Verne's books, with Mr. Tartelet and Axel Valdemar, a Danish fortune-seeker, providing many moments of comic relief throughout the play. While readers of Verne's novels will see the differences between those works and this drama, they will also recognize the ingenuity and complex story that are hallmarks of Verne's creations.
Even though it was a successful production in both Paris and New York, the text for this play soon became lost and was only rediscovered in 1978 in the archives of the Censorship Office of the French Third Republic. Published in French in 1981, it gave Verne scholars the first look at this work which previously could only be studied through its reviews. The Prometheus Books edition is not only the first English translation, but also the first complete publication of Journey Through the Impossible, as the French edition mistakenly omitted a short section in Act II, Scene 2. The inclusion of a very well written introduction by Jean-Michel Margot helped me more fully appreciate the importance and complexity of this work, as did the text of two reviews from 1882.
This is a work for Verne aficionados, theater buffs or just those who enjoy a good story. Take a Journey Through the Impossible and you might see another side of the “Father of Science Fiction.”
First and Third Friday Meetings at the Gillilands' and Ginters', with 44 and 43 people present. Treasury $7,822.11. Two WSFA Journals, eight and twelve pages, were published in September. (Two issues were published almost every month from early 1995 through mid-1996, ending only when editor Joe Mayhew had a heart attack.) Evan Phillips announced that he planned to put back issues of The WSFA Journal on CD. (Our website was still two years in the future.) It was announced that Baltimore had won the 1998 Worldcon bid.
First Friday at the Gillilands', with 47 people; Third Friday at the Olivers', with 34. Treasury $3,643.73, plus $7,600 still in the Disclave '85 account. We would have to pay taxes for our past three years' income, but we had a tax lawyer looking into how we can become tax exempt. It was announced that next year's Disclave guest of honor, William Gibson, had just won the best novel Hugo for Neuromancer. The Gillilands celebrated their 26th anniversary. The September WSFA Journal, published by Ginny McNitt, was just four pages and consisted entirely of the minutes of the previous four meetings. The TV series Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories premiered.
The TV series Space 1999 premiered. No WSFA Journal (that I can find a copy of, anyway) was published between December 1974 and September 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 18 and 25 people present -- no quorum first Friday. Treasury $91.25. Attendees included no current members except Alexis Gilliland. Don Miller published three WSFA Journals in September: issues 7, 8, and 9, totaling 28 pages. They included book reviews, reports of cons including the recent London Worldcon, upcoming events, an obituary of E.E. “Doc” Smith, our constitution, and the fact that Ted White was engaged. The print run was 77. (As of 2005, the print run is 42.) The TV series Lost in Space premiered; Danger Will Robinson!
Meeting on the Third Sunday at Dot Cole's in Arlington, with 13 people present. Treasury $64.60. Ted White took office as president, having been elected in May. He suggested dues be reduced to a dollar per quarter year once the treasury reaches $100; no action was taken. Vice President Bob Pavlat was appointed Sergeant at Arms. Trustee Joe Vallin suggested the club should have a phone book listing; he was appointed to look into it. There's no record of a First Sunday meeting, perhaps because that year's Worldcon, in Cleveland, was going on then -- the only Worldcon ever held in the US in a year ending with 5.
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, including directions to our meeting places.
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 Samuel Lubell at 9:16 pm on August 19th, 2005, in the downstairs of the Madigans', at 102 Julian Court, Greenbelt, Maryland, the usual third Friday location.
In attendance were President Samuel Lubell, Vice President Cathy Green, Secretary Keith Lynch, Trustees Lee Gilliland and Barry Newton, Mike Bartman, Adrienne Ertman, Carolyn Frank, Alexis Gilliland, Paul Haggerty, Scott Hofmann, Eric Jablow, Bill Lawhorn, Brian Lewis, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Candy and John Madigan, Walter Miles, Judy Newton, George Shaner, Steven Smith, William Squire, Gayle Surrette, Michael Taylor, Elizabeth Twitchell, and Madeleine Yeh. 27 people. Jim Kling and Ivy Yap were marked present, but weren't seen by the secretary.
The president asked the secretary to summarize the previous meeting. He said the last meeting was at the Gillilands' on August 5th, and:
TREASURY: No report, as the treasurer wasn't present and hadn't emailed anyone. Barry said the treasurer was on a whiskey tour.
The chairfan, Michael J. Walsh, wasn't present. Cathy said that Elspeth had said that we're close to meeting our hotel room block.
Sam had fliers, and said we should plaster libraries and bookstores with them. Carolyn said she had done so with the libraries in Silver Spring, Wheaton, and White Oak, but wasn't allowed to do so at Borders Books, at least not the one in Silver Spring, the closest bookstore to our con hotel. Madeleine suggested we avoid using that bookstore. Madeleine suggested we all go to that bookstore and say we are “just looking.”
Barry said we had 192 members, not counting several who signed up at the Worldcon. Paul said we'd get more at the door. Sam said that's dependent on people knowing about the con, so pick up fliers.
Nicki asked about the National Book Festival next month. Sam said they didn't have a place for fliers last year. Cathy asked if Sam had talked to Jim Kling about CascadiaCon, which is this year's NASFiC, near Seattle over Labor Day weekend. He hadn't, but will. Keith asked about Otakon, a large anime convention this weekend in Baltimore. Judy said that Meridel was there, but didn't bring fliers. She said there is probably little overlap between their membership and our target audience.
CAPCLAVE FUTURE: No report. The chairfan, Elspeth Kovar, wasn't present. [Two days after the meeting she emailed that we have a weekend: October 20-22, 2006.]
CAPCLAVE FAR FUTURE: No report. The chairfan, Colleen Cahill, wasn't present.
Alexis said he had entertained us several times with stupid criminal stories, so now he would entertain us with a stupid policeman story:
Police Officer Wendell Cunningham does off-duty work with a radar gun on Branch Avenue, writing tickets for two years until he ticketed Assistant Chief Willie Dandridge, who flashed his lights and refused to turn over his ID after being stopped.
Internal Affairs recommended Dandridge be cited for conduct unbecoming of a police officer, and Cunningham got a letter of prejudice in the case, essentially ordering him to cease and desist.
A little background: Cunningham had ticketed Dandridge a year earlier, when Dandridge had stopped & turned over ID. His failure to cut his fellow cop some slack -- a don't do it again warning -- led to the current fiasco.
ACTIVITIES: There was strong interest in a Serenity movie party. The movie, which is based on the short-lived Firefly TV series on Fox, opens on September 30th. No free tickets were available. Adrienne said this was because there's been enough buzz that they don't need publicity from us.
PUBLICATIONS: The secretary said that July and August WSFA Journals were available. [By the end of the evening 6 Augusts, 3 Julys, and 1 June had been taken.] Also, there's a sign-in sheet circulating.
BOOK: Future Washington Editor Ernest Lilley wasn't present. Gayle said the anthology was at the printers, and would be available the first week of October, but only if they get paid, which they haven't been yet. Someone suggested a release party at Capclave.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
Keith said there's a Fifth Friday next month. Adrienne suggested that since that's the opening night for Serenity, we make that our Fifth Friday event. Lee said she'd probably announce which theater at the next meeting. Some or all theaters may already be sold out, and we may have to switch to Saturday. Mike suggested the Regal theater in Rockville, and said it's only a block and half from Metro. Adrienne suggested the Uptown. Brian said there's no parking at the Uptown.
Sam asked if we want to do something in conjunction with the National Book Festival. Cathy said there are only two SF authors, Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin, and that neither of them were likely to go out to dinner with us. Keith said the “Science Fiction & Fantasy” pavilion has been replaced with a “Fiction & Fantasy” pavilion. Nicki said we don't need them, we can go out by ourselves. Sam said that doesn't need as much advanced planning. Lee and several others disagreed with Sam.
NEW TRADITION (as it was once called): Nobody asked if it was anyone's first, second, or third meeting, since it was obvious that there were no new faces in the room.
The secretary made the usual first announcement: Announcements should ideally be submitted in writing, or via email. He thanked Brian for already submitting his announcements in writing. Submissions are needed for the WSFA Journal: Reports of Worldcon and other cons, reviews of books and movies, fannish autobiographies, and pretty much anything else. Lee asked what if you're not submissive. Sam answered “Then you get to dominate the issue.”
Candy, our hostess, made several announcements: You can feed the dog anything except chocolate. The white bunny bites. There's a new lost & found basket under the food table upstairs. She did good business selling clothes to naked people at the Pagan events Free Spirit and Starwood. After 36 years of sewing, she finally sewed through her finger. Lee asked “how many stitches?”
Brian had several announcements: He has joined Weight Watchers, and has lost six pounds. The Pentagon City Mall has an Apple store and a Sony store. The next nearest Sony store is in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Next weekend is the Digital Expo from Channel 4. The Maryland Renaissance Festival begins next Saturday, the 27th, and runs Saturdays and Sundays until mid-October, and also runs on Labor Day Monday.
Richard has leftover newsletters from the Worldcon, but doesn't have a complete print run. Paul said they're also on the web.
Sam's mother died.
Cathy is an aunt. Brian said the great thing about being an aunt is that aunts get to go home.
Barry had received the following email from former WSFAn Lee Smoire. He read from it and handed it to the secretary.
Travel agency books space holidays * NEWS.com.au
BREAKING NEWS 24/7
From correspondents in Tokyo
From: Agence France-Presse
WITH Japanese tourists already travelling all over planet Earth, the nation's leading travel agency has said it will blast off into a new market - space.
JTB Corp. said it has set up an exclusive sales agreement for the Japanese market with US firm Space Adventures to send the country's most adventurous tourists into orbit.
A JTB spokeswoman said details would be announced later but the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said the one-week space junket would cost each traveller 2.2 billion yen, or about $US20 million ($26.6m).
The package includes a trip on a Russian Soyuz rocket to visit the International Space Station after more than six months of training at Russia's Gagarin center for cosmonauts, the newspaper said.
For those with a little less cash on hand, an alternate trip lasting between four and six days would take the tourist 100km into space for a taste of zero gravity.
The discount package would cost 11.2 million yen, or $US102,000 ($135,575), and could start as soon as 2007, the report said.
Space Adventures made history in 2001 by sending the first non-professional astronaut, US businessman Dennis Tito, into space on a Russian rocket.
The following year, South African Mark Shuttleworth blasted off, also after forking over $US20 million.
The firm last week announced an offer to send tourists around the moon, perhaps as soon as 2008, for a cool $US100 million ($133m).
Space Adventures opened an office in Tokyo in May, saying it had received thousands of inquiries from aspiring space tourists in the world's second largest economy.
Copyright 2005 News Limited. [ Non-commercial reprinting allowed under Terms & Conditions. ]
Nicki said four cities in Scotland were vying to be Scotty's home town. Aberdeen won, as Scotty once made a reference to being an Aberdeen pub crawler. Eric said the wrong engineer from Redmond died.
Adrienne is going to visit New York City. Also, she has a temporary job as a lawyer's assistant.
Madeleine had “ugly chicken” chili. She couldn't find any dodo in her supermarket, so she had to use turkey.
Brian Lewis's [something] group is going to take all of the recipes from all of the Gathers they've had for the past 25 years, and put them all into a cookbook. They meet in a state park outside Pittsburgh.
Eric had a math journal with a cover picture of a Poincaré disk made of chocolate, produced using an ink jet printer that prints dark chocolate onto light chocolate. Brian said he should talk to John Pomeranz, as John is in charge of chocolate.
Elizabeth has a new car. She's selling her old one, a 1992 Lexus GS 300, for $800. It needs work. Mike Bartman suggested donating it to NPR, and deducting $6000 to $8000 from taxes. Elizabeth said that's no longer possible, as tax laws have been changed.
Scott said the inner loop of the Beltway was closed due to a multiple truck accident just south of Kenilworth Avenue. Paul added that there was glass on the outer loop, as well, from the same accident. Elizabeth added that there was a game tonight at FedEx Field.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:47 pm. 31 minutes.
The last people left at about midnight.
It was warm and very damp. It had been drizzling most of the day, but stopped about an hour before the meeting.
Summary of 8/19/05 meeting:
Because it's been a while since these have been printed in a WSFA Journal. Besides, we needed something to fill this space.
All procedural questions not covered by the Articles and Bylaws shall be decided by reference to Robert's Rules of Order, Revised, 75th Anniversary Edition (1951).
S.M. Stirling, the author of numerous SF novels including the Draka series and the Island in the Sea of Time series, believes that a scientific revolution is extraordinarily unlikely. If you could rewind and replay history (which he often does in his novels), in the overwhelming majority of cases no such revolution will ever take place.
You just go 'round and 'round in circles, looking for the Philosopher's Stone and grinding up mummy-dust and spinning epicycles and crystal spheres in the heavens.
It happened in our world only due to an extremely unlikely confluence of circumstances.
This is certainly one way to explain the Fermi paradox: Yes, the galaxy is teeming with civilizations, but they're all medieval, and will remain so forever.
Look at explanations of the way the natural world works before the Scientific Revolution. With some very minor exceptions, they didn't improve at all from Sumeria to the Renaissance.
Paracelsus was as pig-ignorant as the Babylonians, ...
Others have argued that he's mistaken, and that pre-modern progress was real. This invariably degenerates into arguments about who knows more about history.
Some have argued that science is so obvious that any civilization is certain to come up with it. This has two obvious counterarguments, both of which he has used: It's obvious to us only because we were born and raised in it, and if it's so obvious why did no previous civilization come up with it?
Here I'll take a different approach, one which I haven't seen anyone else try.
Given that a scientific revolution did happen a few centuries ago, what should we expect to have found when we looked back on our species' past if Stirling was right?
Our species is amazingly robust and diverse. Even before the scientific revolution, we lived on every continent except Antarctica. We lived in caves, on remote islands, on mountains far from any ocean, on coasts, in the tropics, and in the arctic. We ate every sort of plant and animal matter, including exclusively vegetarian and exclusively meat diets. Only in the most unusual and marginal circumstances has a population ever died out except due to invasion by another group of people.
What could wipe out such a species? Certainly various technological disasters might do so. But those aren't an issue before a scientific revolution. Pre-history is replete with natural disasters which have wiped out vast numbers of species. The best known are the K-T boundary in which the dinosaurs died out, and the far greater Permian extinction. Without a doubt if a K-T-sized asteroid or comet were to strike earth, or if the level of oxygen in the atmosphere were to double or halve, billions of people would die. But not everyone. People living in caves wouldn't be killed when the sky turns incandescent, setting everything on fire that can burn. People adapted to living in the Andes or the Himalayas could survive a drop in oxygen levels by moving to lower altitudes. People living far from any ocean are immune to tsunamis. People living in tents aren't bothered by earthquakes. People living in tropics aren't bothered by ice ages. Hurricanes and tornadoes are always localized phenomena.
Certainly larger disasters can be imagined. There can always be a larger asteroid. Or a nearby gamma ray burster. But there doesn't seem to have been anything in at least the past half-billion years which would have wiped us out. And there's nothing special, or unusually dangerous, about the time we live in. Indeed, the solar system has never been safer, as the number of rogue asteroids and comets has gradually decreased through the ages.
Resource depletion isn't an issue, any more than it is for any other animal species. Everything essential to human life is endlessly naturally recycled on our planet, for so long as the sun shall shine.
In about 500 million years, the sun will start to gradually become hotter. Either the CO2 in the atmosphere will decrease to compensate, in which case photosynthesis will become impossible, and plants will go extinct, immediately followed by animals and people, or else there will be a runaway greenhouse effect in which all the oceans will boil away, and Earth will become just like Venus. In the absence of advanced technology, it will be the end of our species.
If a scientific revolution is extraordinarily unlikely, and one occurs, there's no reason to expect it to happen very near the beginning of our species' life. What we'd almost certainly find once it happened and once the sciences of archæology and palæontology were developed, was a record of pre-scientific civilizations, similar to Rome, Byzantium, Greece, Egypt, China, Persia, Babylon, and the Aztecs, stretching back, not for a few tens of centuries, as we've found, but for millions and millions of centuries.
It's quite a vision: empires, kingdoms, khanates, shogunates, etc., stretching back for æons. Each patch of land may have consecutively been part of many tens of thousands of civilizations, each lasting at least as long as the whole of our western civilization. While fragments of writing on stone or on baked clay tablets might survive for millions of centuries, it's doubtful that we could read any but the most recent few dozen centuries of it, as there would be no continuity. Our Rosetta stone only bridges at most 40 or 50 centuries. It would be too much to ask for an unbroken bridge of successively older Rosetta stones linking earlier and earlier languages, going back millions of centuries. Known history, at any one time, would necessarily encompass only the most recent few thousand years. And there'd be no way to tell whether a myth was based on historical events of ten thousand years ago, or of ten million, or was totally fictional, or how distorted it had become in the retelling. (H. Beam Piper's “Omnilingual” scenario only works between two scientific civilizations.)
That is certainly not anything like what archæologists and palæontologists discovered in our own timeline. Writing only goes back a few thousand years, and our species is not enormously older. Go back even a single million years, and you find a world without mind, inhabited only by a wide variety of unreasoning beasts.
I therefore conclude that a scientific revolution happened almost as soon as it could, given the natural conservatism of most pre-scientific societies, and their grinding poverty, low literacy rates, superstition, lack of communication, and restrictions on free thought.
I can think of several possible counterarguments:
I plan to inform Mr. Stirling of this article, and invite him to respond. I will print any response in an upcoming WSFA Journal. Responses from others are also encouraged, of course.
[ The first was a postcard; all others were emails. ]
Artwork by Alejandro Moreno, age 14, Washington, DC, Winner of the 2002 RIF National Poster Contest
Dear Washington Science Fiction Association:
Thank you so much for your recent gift to Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF). Your thoughtful contribution, in memory of Bobby Gear, will help RIF continue its mission to inspire a lifelong love of reading in America's most vulnerable children.
With much appreciation,
Rose B. Dean
Director, Donor Relations
This card acknowledges a voluntary contribution to Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. RIF is a tax-exempt organization, a status accorded under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. RIF did not provide any goods or services for this gift.
Please be sure to visit our website at www.rif.org for fun games and the latest news about RIF.
Date: Fri, 19 Aug 2005 02:02:03 EDT
Subject: "Damned Nation" Nick Pollotta
Well, my new Fantasy/Humor novel has just been released, and I wondered if you would like to receive a PDF review copy?
Synopsis: "Damned Nation" Set during the early days of the Civil War, a dark thing is stalking the fiery chaos of the battlefields and killing soldiers from both the North and the South.
Desperate to stop the hellish murders before they become public knowledge, President Lincoln and President Davis each send a special agent to track down the grotesque fiend. The Union sends US Marshall J.P. Withers, and the Confederacy sends Lt. Major Logan Randall.
However, the battlefield deaths are only the beginning of the mounting slaughter, and this quickly proves to be more than any one man can handle. Reluctantly, the two special agents must join forces to stand against an unstoppable foe who is invulnerable to Holy Water, wooden stakes, swords, guns, cannons....
The novel has already been sold to ATS Press in Moscow to be translated into Russian.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Best wishes to all,
www. NickPollotta. com
HUNTER/KILLER - Jan. 2004, BLOODFIRE - Jan. 2004
THAT DARN SQUID GOD! - March 2004,
BUREAU 13: JUDGMENT NIGHT - April 2004
STOLEN ARROWS - April 2004, BUREAU 13: DOOMSDAY EXAM - April 2004
TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD May 2004, BUREAU 13: FULL MOONSTER - July 2004
THE CHAMELEON FACTOR - Dec. 2004, DAMNED NATION - Aug 2005
SHATTERZONE - Oct. 2005, BUREAU 13 RPG SOURCEBOOK - Nov. 2005
SKYHAMMER - Dec. 2005, PERDITION VALLEY - Feb. 2006
NEUTRON DAWN - April 2006, UPLINK - Oct. 2007
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2005 22:50:36 +0300
Subject: Aria Kalsan Science Fiction Internet Event Invitation
I would like to invite your group to the “Beyond the World” Internet Event taking place September 18, 2005. This event is being held by Foursided MFNA Publishing Company for its Aria Kalsan Anthology science fiction novels.
We would very much like for your group to attend this wonderful event. In addition, we would like to offer your group some type of discount or special offer on Aria Kalsan merchandise during this event.
Please contact us to work out the offer, and if you have any questions or concerns.
Additional information on Aria Kalsan can be found at www.ariakalsan.com
I look forward to hearing back from you soon.
About Foursided MFNA -- Aria Kalsan Anthology: Foursided MFNA
Publishes the Aria Kalsan Anthology - an intriguing allegorical tale that examines the social and political issues affecting our modern world.
From: "James R Brown"
Subject: PRESS RELEASE: NEW E-BOOK: INTELLIGENCE REPORTS FROM EARTH
Date: Mon, 8 Aug 2005 23:41:55 -0500
August 8, 2005
THE SOCIOLOGY CENTER PUBLISHING DIVISION
ANNOUNCES A NEW GENRE OF SCIENCE FICTION
INTELLIGENCE REPORTS FROM EARTH
James Roger Brown
WHY ARE THEY HERE?
THE MOST DANGEROUS SCIENCE FICTION EVER WRITTEN!
EVERYTHING YOU KNOW MAKES SENSE
A COLD CHILL RUNS DOWN YOUR SPINE
YOUR HEAR SOMEONE SCREAMING
THE VOICE SOUNDS FAMILIAR
THEN YOU REMEMBER
"We are the generation who will end the destruction and suffering inflicted upon Civilized Facets across the expanse of space our citizens occupy.
It is easy to forget the reason we are here in the routine of daily operations.
We should remember now."
(Excerpt from the war speech of Element One, Set of Element Ones
announcing commencement of ENEMIES OF LIFE CONTAINMENT.)
ORDER YOUR COPY OF INTELLIGENCE REPORTS FROM EARTH TODAY!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Roger Brown is one of only two sociologist with a specialization in the sociology of intelligence operations. He is also author of The Holographic Paradigm Theory of Social Processes which uses neural structures as the unit of analysis for social processes; the Congressional Evidence Book Organized Crime Methods and Procedures Integrated into the Child Protection Mental Health and Social Work Systems; and adapted declassified CIA analysis methodology for analyzing child abuse allegations evidence in the manual THE CHILD ABUSE ALLEGATION INVESTIGATION INSTRUMENT: PAIRED CONTRADICTORY HYPOTHESES TESTING MATRIX. He was born in Ashland, Kentucky in 1948.
Content list of INTELLIGENCE REPORTS FROM EARTH:
SEIZED DOCUMENT 1
SURFACE AGENT ORIENTATION MANUAL
DUTY STATION 3902-1029-03
CIVILIZED FACETS PLANETARY INTELLIGENCE COLLECTION AND ADVANCE ENEMIES OF LIFE CONTAINMENT OPERATIONS
SEIZED DOCUMENT 2
TRANSCRIPT: Element One, Set of Element Ones (EOSEO) interview of sole known Interlink with the First Facet
SEIZED DOCUMENT 3
EXCERPT FROM DAILY ELEMENT ONE LOG
Element One, Set of Element Ones
SUMMARY OF INTERVIEW OF INTERLINK WITH THE FIRST FACET
SEIZED DOCUMENT 4
REPLY TO INQUIRY FROM ELEMENT ONE, SET OF ELEMENT ONES
SEIZED DOCUMENT 5
AFTER ACTION REPORT
QUARANTINE VIOLATION INCIDENT 1142097
SEIZED DOCUMENT 6
PRIORITY ALERT TO ELEMENT ONE, SET OF ELEMENT ONES
CONTENT: FINAL REJECTION OF OFFER FOR MEMBERSHIP IN THE CIVILIZED FACETS
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF THE RIGHTS OF ALL FACETS
SEIZED DOCUMENT 7
PRIORITY DIRECTIVE TO ELEMENT ONE, ALL SETS
James Roger Brown
THE SOCIOLOGY CENTER
Date: Sun, 28 Aug 2005 07:17:10 -0400
Subject: Aboriginal Sci Fi
From: Cynthia Shelton <email@example.com>
FYI to Sci Fi lovers everywhere, the motherlode of Aboriginal Sci Fi back issues is on ebay right now. Item number: 6974540938
Live long and prosper,
[ 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 chapter in the mighty epic of Thongor, Lord of Lost Lemuria, is heroic fantasy from the pen of Lin Carter. As heroic fantasy goes, it's not bad, but certainly not that heroic.
In successive novels, Thongor has hacked his way to the throne of Patanga and two other cities mostly by disposing of various evil Druids from their sinister temples. Here, his enemies congregate in blood-soaked Tsargol and hatch a plot to kidnap his wife and infant son. The scheme goes awry and the kidnapper flees across the face of the mythical continent hotly pursued by the barbarian king.
As a long time Burroughsian, I found Mr. Carter's combination of Conan the Barbarian and John Carter, Sword of Theosophy, an adequate if not tremendous hero. This is the fourth book in this series and Mr. C's creativity is wearing a bit thin, not to mention things like character development. When you solve problems by hitting them with a stick, you don't have to have much of a personality. Still, Mr. C's vivid powers of description and arcane knowledge of oriental literature yield a satisfying tale of blood and thunder.
I rate Thongor Against the Gods as **½ on the five star scale. -- LS
In the hardcopy (but not the online) copies of the August Journal, the bottom of the Steve Stiles cartoon on page 10, and of the photo of Scotty on page 19, were somehow cut off. The table of contents gives the wrong page number for the Alexis Gilliland story; it starts on page 19, not 20. Also, in the hardcopy edition that story's title isn't centered properly.
To make the number of pages come out even, I once again bumped my Einstein article to next month.
The deadline for the October issue is Fifth Friday, the 30th. Earlier if possible. 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 except current American politics.