The WSFA Journal


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

Editor: Keith Lynch. Assistant editor: Wade Lynch.

Please direct all correspondence to Please put either “for publication” or “not for publication” on the subject line.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 The minutes of the latest meeting are also online there if it's been more than a few days since that meeting.

A Plea for Civility

An Editorial by the Editor

If any WSFA member believes another WSFA member has lied, cheated, stolen, sabotaged, embezzled, or otherwise acted in bad faith, please discuss it with them privately before making a public accusation.

If this isn't practical, or if the discussion doesn't lead to a mutually satisfactory resolution, please privately discuss the issue with the club's president.

If the president isn't available, or is one of the parties to the dispute, then please discuss it with the club's vice president.

Such allegations should only be made public when all other possible explanations for the facts have been ruled out, and only when all attempts to deal with the problem privately have failed.

This is because such allegations cause great pain to those falsely accused and to their supporters, makes meetings and the email list hostile and unpleasant, repels potential new members, and may drive away long-time members, or potentially even split or destroy the club. This isn't just conjecture -- it has happened to many other SF clubs over the years.

An SF club is supposed to be fun, pleasant, and friendly. That's the only reason anyone shows up. We're not being paid. We're not saving the world. Today, in the 21st century, more than ever before, there are numerous other enjoyable things we could be doing with our leisure time. If WSFA ceases being enjoyable, people will stop showing up, and the club will die.

WSFA is 58 years old. It has already outlived all of its founders. It's my hope that WSFA has more years ahead of it than behind it. It's also my hope that our sole remaining link with the WSFA of the 1950s not be severed.

Serenity -- Movie Review

By Lee Gilliland

With so many awful disappointments at the box office lately, it's really nice to be able to give people a good review for a change. And this one's going to be GLOWING, folks -- for once they got it right.

Not everyone may be familiar with Firefly, an (unfortunately) short-lived series on Fox set 500 years in the future in a distant solar system. It followed the lives of Captain Mal Reynolds of the Firefly-class ship Serenity and its crew, Zoe (1st mate), Jayne (muscle), Wash (pilot), Kaylee (engineer), Dr. Simon Tam (ship's doctor), his psychotic sister River (deadheading), and a “Companion” (read courtesan) who sets up business on the ship, Inara. (The ship is called a Firefly-class because the engines, located in the rear of the ship, flicker brightly in use, giving a firefly-like effect). One of the most interesting aspects of the series is that it included no aliens -- apparently, humans can be alien enough to the show's producer, Joss Weldon (also known for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel TV series). The basic theme dealt with an Alliance of worlds, and the people not perfectly in tune with it, living on the edge of that civilization. Beyond the Wild West edge that the ship and Its Noble Crew occupies are the Reavers, mutant cannibalistic nasties who prefer their kids alive, screaming, and with ketchup.

Serenity includes some of this backstory and deals with River Tam, how she became psychotic, and the creation of the Reavers. It begins with Dr. Simon Tam's rescue of River from the lab where she is being “held” (“tortured” also works well in this sentence) and fast-forwards to “the present”, when we find an assassin (Chiwetel Ejiofor), sworn to kill River for the good of the Alliance, has targeted Serenity and those aboard her. Mal decides, rather than allow the Tams to leave and be killed, to help them, at a great cost to all involved (as well as a fair amount of derring-do and adventure). The action is well-paced and the story for once holds no “Now wait a second, that made no sense” moments -- unfortunately, a rarity in movies these days.

Even without being familiar with the TV series, Serenity is a satisfying movie in and of itself. The characters are well enough explained that there is no problem catching what is going on, and you become well enough acquainted with them that yes, when a major character dies, you mourn. I saw this preview with a mixed group of people, four who had never watched the TV series and six who had, and we all agreed it was excellent. I give you a strong thumbs-up and five stars. Go see this movie, it will be time well spent.

First Friday Minutes

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 Samuel Lubell at 9:10 pm on September 2nd, 2005, in the downstairs of the Gillilands', at 4030 8th Street South in Arlington, Virginia, the usual First Friday location.

In attendance were all officers for the first time since the spring of last year: President Samuel Lubell, Vice President Cathy Green, Secretary Keith Lynch, Treasurer Bob MacIntosh, all three trustees (Lee Gilliland, Ernest Lilley, and Barry Newton), Capclave 2005 Chair Michael Walsh, Capclave 2006 Chair Elspeth Kovar, and Capclave 2007 Chair Colleen Cahill, and Mike Bartman, Drew and Katherine Bittner, Elaine Brennan, Adrienne Ertman, Alexis Gilliland, Phil Gœtz, Marc Gordon, Paul Haggerty, Scott Hofmann, Eric Jablow, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Judy Newton, Abby O'Donnell, Lance Oszko, Kathi Overton, Sam Pierce, John Pomeranz, Rebecca Prather, Judy and Sam Scheiner, George Shaner, Steven Smith, Gayle Surrette, Kira and Seth Woodmansee, and Madeleine Yeh. 38 people. William Squire and Ted White arrived after the meeting ended. Jim Kling and Ivy Yap were marked present, but weren't seen by the secretary.

[In addition to this being the first meeting with all officers present since April or May of last year, it was Sam Pierce's first meeting since July of two years ago, and the first three-Sam meeting since May of two years ago. (We've had one four-Sam meeting, in August of '02.)]

The president thanked everyone for coming, even though “some of you had to ransom your houses to pay for the gas.” He then asked the secretary to summarize the previous meeting. The secretary replied that the previous meeting was on Friday, August 19th, at the Madigans' in Greenbelt Maryland, the usual Third Friday location, and:

TREASURY: The treasurer said we have $10,520.92 in our main account, $15,113.01 in CDs, and $5.25 in our World Fantasy account, for a total of $25,639.18, now that a large amount of money has been given to Ernest for the anthology project.


Barry said we now have a total of 216 members, including 30 since Worldcon and 2 so far at this meeting. 182 are paid memberships. We need about 160 more to break even.

John said we need people to volunteer to be party buffers, i.e. to take rooms adjacent to party rooms.

Colleen said we have at least 45 program participants: editors, authors, and mad scientists. Ernest said that that would be Jon Singer. The president asked Colleen if she had contacted former program participants. She said yes, she's been doing so for eight months. Several authors want to do panels on young adult fiction, including short fiction.

Ernest said there will be two tracks, one serious, and one “lifestyles.” People with ideas should write to Ideas should be sent no later than next Friday.

Paul said Allen Steele will not be at Capclave.

Keith said that for months he has been asking Paul and Gayle for a list of the Capclave '05 web pages as they update them, so that he can keep the mirror Capclave '05 website,, in sync with it. He has gotten nothing. He asked the club whether they'd prefer he shut down the mirror site, turning it into pointers to the main website. Paul said he would discuss it with Keith after the meeting. [He didn't.] [He later explained that there had been a medical emergency.]

Chairfan Mike Walsh said high gasoline prices may keep people away, and that only 1200 people have showed up for the NASFiC so far.

Elspeth said our room block is almost up to attrition, i.e. its minimum size, below which we would have to pay for rooms. The higher it gets above that, the better our bargaining position next year. The room block closes September 23rd. Mike hopes he can talk the hotel into lowering it due to recent events.

Pre-registration closes on the 30th.

The Capclave income from membership is about $5,600, which would just about cover the hotel bill, but not other expenses such as transportation for the guests, or the guest of honor's chapbook.

Elspeth said the hotel's convention services manager is new.

Elspeth said postcards should be sent to our mailing list, reminding them of Capclave. Not only are postcards cheaper, but people don't always open envelopes but they do always glance at postcards. We will also advertise in the Washington Post Book World and other venues.

Mike Bartman suggested free advertising online in Craigslist and OkCupid.

There will be a Capclave committee meeting upstairs 15 or 20 minutes after the regular meeting ends, and after the Future Washington meeting ends.


Sam Scheiner said we have dates: October 20th through 22nd, 2006.

Elspeth said that now she can invite her chosen guests of honor, whom she didn't name.

Keith said these dates are already in the September WSFA Journal, and in our online calendar of upcoming events, and in our online list of all Disclaves and Capclaves, but are not yet on the Capclave 2006 web page, which still lists the previous weekend. The Capclave 2006 web page has not been updated by anyone since Paul and Gayle took it over five months ago. Paul said he had a provisional Capclave 2006 website, which he has shown to several people for approval.

CAPCLAVE FAR FUTURE: Colleen has a hotel liaison: Jan Price. They'll start working after this year's Capclave.


Chairfan Mike Walsh said we are still owed five or six thousand dollars for advertising by [names of debtors redacted by WSFA policy]. He has new contact information for them. He will send out bills again this week. The fan advertisers, who owe far less, claim to have already paid. Mike asked our treasurer to check into this.

Barry said he has software that can print professional-looking invoices.


The secretary said that July, August, and September WSFA Journals are available, and the last 30 years of issues are available online at He always welcomes corrections of meeting minutes after they have been printed in The WSFA Journal, and the corrections will be printed in the next Journal. But he welcomes corrections even more if they're given to him before the minutes are printed in the Journal in the first place. The minutes of each meeting are available online usually within a day or two of that meeting. There's a sign-in sheet circulating. New people should be especially sure to sign in, so we get the spelling of their names right. [By the end of the evening 1 July, 6 Augusts and 8 Septembers had been taken.]


Ernest said the Future Washington anthology had been renamed Perils of the Potomac. [The secretary assumes this was a joke, since the cover had already been done.] Proofs came in last week. He wanted to make several formatting changes, but they would have pushed the printing past Thanksgiving. The book will be printed on Tuesday, September 6th, and will ship on Thursday, September 15th, the day before Third Friday. It's already listed on Amazon. He will have some copies shipped to us so that members can buy it directly from the club, bypassing Amazon's cut, as Amazon insists on a 40% discount. He said he'd speak to Mike about maybe giving club members a 20% discount.

Colleen asked if a copy had been submitted to the Library of Congress. Ernest said he'd speak to her about that.

Keith asked if he could be given several copies to sell at PRSFS meetings. Ernest said yes, and that PRSFS members should also get the discount.

There will be a Future Washington meeting upstairs after the regular meeting.

ENTERTAINMENT: Alexis said that in Long Beach, Mississippi, the FEMA task force looking to rescue trapped survivors found a 13-year-old sea lion named Pocahontas that had been washed out of the Marine Life Oceanarium four miles away in Gulfport. The sea lion was rescued by a couple during the height of the storm as it washed by their home in a huge tidal wave. Two days later, they were keeping it hydrated in a child's wading pool and feeding it fish scavenged from the freezers of the empty homes around them. “Next to any trapped bodies, the sea lion is our number one priority,” said Long Beach Deputy Chief Brown, “We're working on clearing the road so the Oceanarium people can come and get it.”

Ernest said that was so sad he almost blubbered. Sam Lubell said he thinks Ernest is lyin'. Sam Schneider said he'd put his seal of approval on that.


Lee said we may be able to get free advance tickets to Serenity from the publicist Ivory Zorich. If not, we'll hold a Fifth Friday theater party somewhere in Maryland, so as to alternate between Virginia, DC, and Maryland.

Eric jokingly suggested seeing Sound of Thunder instead. This suggestion was greeted with dismay.

Colleen said the National Book Festival would be on the National Mall on Saturday, September 24th, but there would only be two SF authors present, Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin. She was surprised they didn't abolish the poetry tent, as there were only about three people who wanted autographs from the poets last year. Ursula LeGuin refuses to show up because the event is associated with Laura Bush. [Colleen is a Library of Congress employee, and the event is sponsored by the Library of Congress and Laura Bush.]

John asked if there was a place for Capclave fliers. Colleen said no; organizations that want publicity have to pay to become corporate members. The Mystery Writers have done so, and SFWA has been considering doing so. Ernest said nothing prevented individuals from handing out fliers, and suggested that each of us do so.

Sam Scheiner asked if there's any chance of our going to dinner with either author. Colleen said no, that they're both on very tight schedules, and aren't even staying for dinner with President Bush on Friday.



Lee moved that we donate to New Orleans relief from the recent Katrina hurricane. The motion was seconded. Adrienne said it had nothing to do with our mandate, but was a great idea anyway. Ernest said individual WSFA members were free to donate, as his family has done, but that the club should only donate to things with some connection to SF, and that through SF we've already done our bit to talk about what disaster and climate change look like. Colleen asked if there was an SF club in New Orleans that could use our support. Cathy said mail isn't currently being delivered there. Elspeth said there's been discussion on the SMOFS email list, but no mention of any affected clubs. Barry said at least one writer was expanding his house to accommodate refugees. Rebecca moved that we table Lee's motion, since early donations are often wasted. Rebecca's motion carried unanimously. Lee's motion is tabled, and will be brought up as old business at the next meeting.

Eric moved that for the duration of the current gas price emergency, all WSFA meetings be conducted by instant messaging. His motion failed for lack of a second. [He later said he wasn't serious.]

NEW TRADITION (as it was once called):

It was Kira and Seth Woodmansee's first meeting. They're from Rhode Island but spent the last five years in Minnesota. They found us via a friend doing a Google search. They've been to Gencon, but not Minicon.

It was Abby O'Donnell's first meeting. She, and her boyfriend Phil Gœtz, were told of the meeting by Keith the previous night at the Transhumanist meeting. She's a case manager at a homeless shelter in Alexandria. She lives in Virginia, and was previously in Maryland, and in Utica, New York before that.

It was Phil Gœtz's second meeting. His first was five and a half years ago. He's from Cedar Rapids, Detroit, Baltimore, Buffalo, and Boston. John said don't go to Biloxi. Mike Bartman said we should all introduce ourselves. Lee said no, or we'd be here for 14 hours.

It was Katherine Bittner's third meeting. She joined.


The secretary made the usual first announcement: To ensure that they're reported correctly, announcements should be submitted in writing, or via the email address on the WSFA Journal, or via the email address on our website. The meeting minutes will be available on our website by the end of the three-day weekend. Keith said there was a fireworks show earlier this evening downtown, and asked if anyone knew what that was about. Ernest and Colleen said they were celebrating the end of WWII. Eric said “they're remembering a low dishonest decade.”

Our hostess, Lee, made the usual second announcement: Use toilet paper, not paper towels, in the toilet, and don't let the cats outside.

Colleen said the Library of Congress would have events with Howard Waldrop and Maria Snyder in October. Maria is an author of both fantasy and romance. Ernest asked if this involved ripped spacesuits. Elspeth said Laura Ann Gilman, a former editor at Roc, has written for Harlequin's new line of fantasy romance novels, called Luna. Colleen said so have Catherine Asaro, Mercedes Lackey, and Sarah Zettel. Colleen said Maria's novel involves someone taking a job as the king's food taster as an alternative to being executed.

John had a box upstairs full of progress reports, souvenir books, and program books, from various past conventions, free for the taking. [The Disclave ones were set aside for the secretary's archives.]

Drew Bittner said his mother, in Gulfport, survived Hurricane Katrina, but had serious property damage. He and his brother will probably go down at the end of next week to try to fix it, and to try to talk her into leaving. He will bring lots of extra gasoline, plywood, etcetera. That area won't have any power, drinkable water, or gasoline for weeks, and has intermittent phone service. There is one highway open.

Elspeth said the SMOFS email list has a check-in area for people known to be okay. Her cats are doing well. She had a desktop computer for anyone who helped her put up some shelves. She has to move by the end of May since her apartment complex is being converted to condos. This conversion has caused plaster dust on everything, and occasionally shut off her water.

Eric said there's a production of Shakespeare's Othello with Avery Brooks at the Shakespeare Theater downtown. The last three people to play that role there were Avery Brooks, Patrick Stewart, and Avery Brooks again. This is a halfway normal production, unlike most of them. He thinks the next one will be in the original Klingon.

Mike Walsh has used paperbacks for sale in a box upstairs, three for $2. One of Capclave's program participants, Andrew Fox, was at Bubonicon in Albuquerque with his family last weekend. As far as they know, their home in New Orleans is gone. There's a link from the Capclave website to his Nightshade site, on which there's a message board about the situation. Ernest said they could just go from con to con.

Kathi said we'd meet upstairs after the meeting to discuss the stories in the latest issue of Asimov's. One of her cats died. Fred Pohl is on the Fast Forward cable TV show this month, and Andrew Fox will be on soon.

Lance said something about Arisia's videos, one of which he said was only 11 seconds long. [This was after the secretary's one-hour tape had run out, and the announcement was not submitted in writing or by email.]

Gayle said there's a box of books upstairs free for anyone who commits to reviewing them for SFRevu.

Ernest called for three huzzahs for new member Katherine Bittner, and got them.

Lee is collecting clothing for the Katrina relief effort.

Phil mentioned the Renaissance Festival.

Our hostess, Lee, made the usual final announcement: Move chairs to the edges of the room after adjournment.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:17 pm. 67 minutes. This was the longest meeting since last November.

No reports have been given to the secretary about the Capclave meeting or other meetings held after the regular meeting, none of which he attended.

A few people were still present when the secretary left at 12:30 am.

It was clear and pleasant all day.

Summary of 9/2/05 meeting:


By Kindra Gresham

Were I writing a great dramatic thriller, I would start this story with, “It was a dark and stormy night when her child died, a death that would start the entire war. She clutched the small body to her chest, looking out the window at the sky glowing from the fires of the burning houses. She knew what she must do. She might be mad for thinking of it, but only madness could have done it.”

But, gentle readers, I am not writing a thrilling tale, though there might indeed be some parts that thrill you. I am writing a simple collection of the facts, to be hidden away in this very library where I sit, hiding from the war outside and the people inside who wish me to fight it. Let those who look in horror at the words I have penned know this: I am a scribe, a child, and ill. I cannot fight this war, but I will record it.

The name of the woman who sparked the rebellion will be lost to history, I am sure, but her words and actions live on as legend, and fresh in my mind as though they happened moments ago.

The year was 1035 by the Tremayn calendar. It was the third year of a terrible drought and a famine. The people were starving. Not that the nobles went without; their men took all they found.

When the lord of the town of Gaena went to tell them that their taxes were being raised again, one woman forced her way to the front of the crowd. I must record her name here, but I do not know it for sure. I have been told that it is Bellona, but I have also been told that it is Nika. Nika seems to have a sort of symbolism to it, meaning “victory” as it does, so I will use Nika. I hope she will not be offended if this is incorrect.

Legend will surely say that she was quite beautiful -- legends always do -- possibly even divine, but this was not true. She was plain, and mousy-looking, and even if she had been beautiful, no one would have been able to see, for her face was twisted with rage and grief. I will never forget that face.

“Monster!” she yelled at the lord, “How dare you?”

She held up what she had been carrying, “This is your fault!”

It was a dead child. Clearly starvation had taken him; his skin was stretched tight across his small frame. If one had a mind to, you could have counted every bone in his body. I did not have a mind to. Indeed, gentle reader, I was forced to be ill in the gutter.

The lord recoiled in horror from the wide staring eyes of the dead boy.

“You killed him!” Nika shouted, “You with your damned taxes killed him! While you were comfortable in your manor, he starved to death because your men took everything! You killed my son!”

She thrust the dead boy into the arms of the lord, who pulled away, dropping the body on the cobblestone street. I remember it with surprising clarity, there is no sound more hideous or ominous.

“Take responsibility! You killed him!” shouted Nika, pointing at her son's body, “And you're killing them, too!” she gestured out at the crowd.

This last line probably will not be credited to the brave Nika, since she did not yell and only a few people heard it. I was close, still kneeling in the gutter.

“You're killing us,” she said, “You're killing us.”

The crowd around her took up the chant, yelling at the lord. I must admit, gentle readers, that this is the part that brings me shame to remember. Like the coward I am, I ran from what I knew would be a fight. But I am only a child, after all.

“You're killing us! You're killing us!” they shouted, closing in on the lord.

“No more!” screamed the woman, “No more!”

You could hear them all the way up at the church. When I reached the top of the hill, I turned back to watch as the crowd fell upon the lord and his guards.

They displayed his head upon a pike, and soon they had added several more to their list of nobles they'd killed. Each one caused me to become ill again.

It is three years that this rebellion has gone on, but I feel it will end soon. It must. It must end before they reach this building. They cannot find me, or this account I write of their antics.

Also I should mention that, rather ironically, Nika was killed in the very first fight by a lucky shot from one of the lord's guards. I watched her fall. I wonder what her name was, since she didn't seem as though she could fairly be called victory while lying dead in the gutter, trampled under the feet of the masses.

In a strange way, I believe it was lucky that I was there to see the rebellion's beginning. I am quite sure that no other scribe could have recorded it, and if they did, they certainly wouldn't have had the sense to hide it in this library. My apologies for my conceit. I shall do penance later.

I pray this record survives. I will hide this ledger among the shelves, and myself in the hollow under the steps.

Gentle reader, I would be much obliged if when you find this, you will check under the steps. If my body or bones are still there, please remove them to Gaena. I would appreciate if you would bury them under the hill where the church stands, since that is where I stood the watch the fighting begin. I would ask to be buried under the spot where the brave Nika -- God rest her soul -- fell, but only I will ever know exactly where that is.

Goodbye, gentle reader. I am off to hide myself from death, for however long it may be.

Einstein's Remarkable Year

By Keith Lynch

One hundred years ago, in 1905, at age 26, Albert Einstein made three major discoveries, any one of which would have more than sufficed as a physicist's life work.

I described two of them in the last two WSFA Journals: Special Relativity, and the Photoelectric Effect.

His third major discovery was an ingenious method of determining the size of molecules.

In 1905, some physicists and chemists thought that atoms and molecules were mere abstractions, useful in making the numbers come out right, but with no physical reality. Some thought that they were of literally zero size. Others realized they were of small but non-zero size, but had no clear idea just what size they were, except that they were obviously far smaller than the wavelength of light.

Einstein thought about Brownian motion, an endless random chaotic jiggling of every sufficiently small object, which had been discovered nearly a century earlier. He concluded that it was caused by thermal motion of molecules. A tiny grain of sand suspended in water wouldn't be hit with exactly the same number of water molecules each second. Sometimes, just by chance, it would be hit by a few more on one side, sometimes the other, causing it to jiggle in response.

He wasn't the first to conclude this, or even to realize that this was a route to determining the size of molecules. Attempts had been made to measure the speed of grains of sand of known size and weight. These attempts weren't successful, since the motion is so chaotic and irregular, and keeps reversing itself. If you try to measure the speed by comparing its position before and after some short interval of time, you'll find that, due to this frequent doubling back on its path, the shorter the interval, the higher the apparent speed.

Einstein realized that that was a dead end. He instead came up with equations for determining the size of molecules from the total distance the grains of sand had moved, fully taking into account the frenetically random nature of the motion. The equations are not linear; in twice the time the grains don't move twice the distance. If I recall correctly, the average distance increases with the square root of the time.

So now we know that “Avogadro's” number (the ratio of the mass of an atomic mass unit to a gram) is about 6 x 10²³. Perhaps it should have been called Einstein's constant. But his name is memorialized in the word for Avogadro's number of photons (particles of light): an einstein. This cleverly memorializes both his measurement of Avogadro's number and his explanation of the photoelectric effect.


Upcoming Events

This is excerpted from our online calendar of upcoming events, at 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.

Friday, October 7th: WSFA First Friday Meeting
Regular WSFA meeting. At the Gillilands', as usual. Newcomers welcome.

Friday, October 14th: Howard Waldrop reads at LoC
Howard Waldrop, award-winning author, film buff, and fisherman, reads from Dream Factories and Radio Pictures at the Library of Congress, Madison Building, 3rd floor, Pickford Theater, at 12:10 pm. A book signing will follow. Copies will be available for purchase. No reservations are needed; open to staff and the public.

October 14 - 16: Capclave 2005
WSFA is putting on a convention! In Silver Spring, MD.

Wednesday, October 19th: Robert Jordan at Olsson's
At 7 pm Robert Jordan will be signing at Olsson's Books and Records at 2111 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, adjacent to the Courthouse Metro station on the Orange line (use the “Colonial Village” exit).

Thursday, October 20th: Robert Jordan at Bailey's Crossroads Borders Books
Robert Jordan signs his new book Knife of Dreams at the Borders Bookstore at Bailey's Crossroads Virginia at 7:30 pm.

October 21 - 23: Book Sale at Arlington Library
Used book sale at Arlington Central Public Library.

Friday, October 21st: WSFA Third Friday Meeting
Regular WSFA meeting. At the Madigans', as usual. Newcomers welcome.

Thursday, October 27th: Maria V. Snyder speaks at LoC
Maria V. Snyder, author of Poison Study, speaks on “Ideas, Influences, and the Creative Process,” at the Library of Congress, Madison Building, 3rd floor, Pickford Theater, at 12:10 pm. A book signing will follow. Copies will be available for purchase. No reservations are needed; open to staff and the public.

Thursday, October 27th: Octavia Butler at Busboys & Poets
At 6:30 pm Octavia Butler will be reading from and signing her new book, The Fledgling, at Busboys & Poets, 14th and V NW, 2 blocks from the U Street/Cardozo Metro station on the Green Line.

Saturday, October 29th: TerpCon
A gaming convention in College Park, Maryland.

Sunday, October 30th: Washington DC Comic-Con
At the Marriott Metro Center.

Sunday, October 30th: Life Extension Society Meeting
The local cryonics and life extension group will hold an open meeting at 1:11 PM at Keith Lynch's apartment. This will be the annual election meeting.

Friday, November 4th: WSFA First Friday Meeting
Regular WSFA meeting. At the Gillilands', as usual. Newcomers welcome.

Thursday, November 17th: John Grant speaks at LoC
John Grant (Paul Barnett), author of Take No Prisoners, speaks at the Library of Congress, Madison Building, 3rd floor, Pickford Theater, at 12:10 pm. A book signing will follow. Copies will be available for purchase. No reservations are needed; open to staff and the public.

November 18 - 20: Anime USA 2005 Convention
At the Sheraton Premiere at Tysons Corner VA (the hotel where Disclave '94 was held).

Friday, November 18th: WSFA Third Friday Meeting
Regular WSFA meeting. At the Madigans', as usual. Newcomers welcome.

December 9 - 11: Philcon 2005
The Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (PSFS) brings you another Philcon, in Philadelphia.

May 26 - 29: Balticon 40
The Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) brings you another Balticon. At the Hunt Valley Marriott.

August 23 - 27: 64th World SF Convention: L.A.con IV
Anaheim California, same place as the 1996 Worldcon and the 1999 NASFiC.

SpaceShipOne to be Donated

(Thanks to both John Dittmann and Ernest Lilley for passing this along.)

From: Peter Golkin
Sent: Tuesday, September 27, 2005 3:44 PM
Subject: SpaceShipOne to be Donated to Smithsonian Oct. 5

Media Advisory

SpaceShipOne, the first privately built and piloted vehicle to reach space, is donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Oct. 5; Noon

National Air and Space Museum
Milestones of Flight gallery
Independence Avenue at Sixth Street S.W.
Washington, D.C.

Microsoft co-founder and SpaceShipOne sole funder Paul G. Allen
SpaceShipOne designer Burt Rutan
Museum director Gen. J.R. "Jack" Dailey
SpaceShipOne will be on permanent display hanging in the museum's Milestones gallery between Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and Chuck Yeager's Bell X-1.

Media only:
Peter Golkin          (202) 633-2374
Michael Marcus      (202) 633-2376
Michael Nank, Vulcan Inc. (206) 342-2000

Media Web site:
Public only:          (202) 633-1000

Peter Golkin

Office of Communications
National Air and Space Museum, MRC 321
Smithsonian Institution
P.O. Box 37012
Washington D.C. 20013-7012

This Month in History

From the Secretary's Archives

October 1995:

First and Third Friday Meetings at the Gillilands' and Ginters', with 43 and 31 people present. Treasury $7,361.05. Two WSFA Journals, eight and sixteen pages, were published in October. (Two issues were published almost every month from early 1995 through mid-1996, ending only when editor Joe Mayhew had a heart attack.) Joe Mayhew was elected chair of Disclave '98, beating Dan Hoey. [The con never happened; '97 was the last Disclave.] Alexis Gilliland had a story in the latest Analog; Joe Mayhew had two cartoons in the latest Asimov's. After a lengthy murder trial, O.J. Simpson was found Not Guilty.

October 1985:

First Friday at the Gillilands'; Third Friday at the Olivers'. Treasury $9,248.11. Joe Mayhew was elected Disclave '87 chair. Rosa Oliver said she would stop hosting Third Fridays at the end of the year. [For the next six years Third Fridays were at the Bloom/Morman home and occasionally the Heneghan/Normandy home.] The October WSFA Journal, published by Ginny McNitt, was just three pages.

October 1975:

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.

October 1965:

Meetings on First and Third Friday at Elizabeth Cullen's in Washington, DC, with 21 and 19 attending, at 8:35 and 9:00 pm. Don Miller was giving away kittens. Someone said Judith Merrill was moving to the area. There was a party at Bob Pavlat's on Fifth Friday. Don Miller published two WSFA Journals in October: issues 10 and 11, totaling 18 pages. They included reports on Janie-Con I and Deepsouthcon III, reviews of Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold and Cordwainer Smith's Space Lords by Alexis Gilliland, a reprint of Richard S. Barber's Barber Mysteries (a spoof of Ray Palmer's Shaver Mysteries) reprinted from the March 1949 issue of WSFA's earlier fanzine, Quanta, and a roster of all 41 WSFA members, of whom only one, Peggy Rae, is still involved with the club. Science Fiction Writers of America was founded by Damon Knight and James Blish. [The organization has since changed its name to Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, but continues to use the acronym SFWA.]

October 1955:

Meetings on First and Third Sundays at Dot Cole's in Arlington, starting at 8:35 pm and 8:30, with 11 and 10 people present, including Ted White both nights. Treasury $72.50. No Fifth Sunday party was held; instead a party on Saturday the 8th was held, at the same location starting at 8 pm, when the Bulmers, Lee Hoffman, and Larry Shaw were expected to be in town. The club voted to spend $10 on the party, and that the money be spent entirely for a fifth of Cointreau and a fifth of gin. The Clark-Von Bernewitz committee looked into placing a WSFA poster at the main DC library. Nelson Griggs said Louis Garner had refused his invitation to return to WSFA. Dot Cole said the club would need to find a new meeting place. Future meetings will be at Nelson Griggs' in Silver Spring.

Hard Rock Hotel Chicago English Words

Date: Sat, 01 Oct 2005 03:42:55 -0400
From: [redacted]
Subject: Link exchange request

I have found your website by searching Google for "hard rock hotel chicago english words". I think our websites has a similar theme, so I have already added your link to my website.

You can find your link here:

 Your link:
 Your link title: The WSFA Journal August 4, 1995

I would like you to add our link to your website too.
 Our link: http://www.[redacted]/news/hard-rock-hotel-chicago-english-words.html
 Our link title: Hotels - Hard Rock Hotel Chicago English Words
 Description: [redacted] website provides the latest information about hotels in all the whole world

You can approve and modify your listing anytime by clicking link below:
If you will not approve your listing in 10 days, link will be automatically removed.

Why it is important to exchange links?
 - more links will increase your website popularity
 - more links will increase your PageRank
 - The more links you have - the more your website is important to search engines
 - The more your website is important to search engines - the more visitors you get
 - More visitors increase your sales and your website will become more popular

Why it is important to exchange links with us?
 - Our website has similar theme like yours
 - Our website gets more than 1000 visitors every day (your website
  may receive some free visitors from our website too)
 - Our website has quality content
 - Our website is hosted on dedicated IP
 - Our website has a lot incoming links from other similar themed domains

I wish you the best with your project and believe this link exchange can be useful for our websites by seeking better search engine ranking. If you have any questions, do not hesitate, contact me.

Jeff P.

Third Friday Minutes

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 Treasurer Bob MacIntosh at 9:18 pm on September 16th, 2005, in the downstairs of the Madigans', at 102 Julian Court, Greenbelt, Maryland, the usual third Friday location.

In attendance were Secretary Keith Lynch, Treasurer Bob MacIntosh, all three trustees (Lee Gilliland, Ernest Lilley, and Barry Newton), Mike Bartman, Tom Boynton, Michael Bush, Adrienne Ertman, Carolyn Frank, Alexis Gilliland, Erica and Lydia Ginter, Andrew, James, and Tamara Griesel, Paul Haggerty, Shirl Hayes, Larry Hodges, Scott Hofmann, Eric Jablow, Bill Lawhorn, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Candy and John Madigan, Deidre McLaughlin, Judy Newton, George Shaner, Gayle Surrette, Michael Taylor, and Elizabeth Twitchell. 32 people. Ivy Yap was marked present, but wasn't seen by the secretary.

The Treasurer asked the secretary for a summary of the previous meeting. The secretary replied that the previous meeting had been on September 2nd at the Gillilands' in Arlington, and:

TREASURY: The treasurer said we have $10,536.17 in our various and sundry checking accounts and $15,113.01 in CDs, for a total of $25,649.18.


Chairfan Michael J. Walsh wasn't present.

Barry reported that Elspeth had reported we had probably made our room block. The room block closes on the 23rd. We had 246 members.

WSFA webmaster Keith Lynch reported that he had taken down the Capclave mirror website,, and made it into a pointer to the main Capclave website,, since the Capclave webmasters, Paul Haggerty and Gayle Surrette, weren't providing him with updates, causing the mirror website to be increasingly out of date. [Paul had informed him by email on the 12th that they would not be providing updates, and that he should take down the mirror site.]

Keith had announced at the beginning of the meeting that party buffers are needed.

CAPCLAVE FUTURE: Chairfan Elspeth Kovar wasn't present. WSFA webmaster Keith Lynch reported that the Capclave webmasters, Paul Haggerty and Gayle Surrette, had produced a Capclave '06 section of the Capclave website, so he's replaced and with pointers to it.

CAPCLAVE FAR FUTURE: Chairfan Colleen Cahill wasn't present.

ENTERTAINMENT: Alexis said a zoo in Anchorage Alaska has an 23-year-old female Indian elephant that has to be indoors during the Alaskan winter. She got bored, and ate, and weighed 8000 pounds. They put her on a diet, and she lost 1000 pounds. They are now building a treadmill for her. He added that this was the sort of useless information WSFA should know. Erica asked if this was the same elephant who produced paintings. Barry said he wanted to know what happens when the elephant gets on the treadmill. Lee wanted to know how they'd get her onto the treadmill. Alexis said they'd probably have a video of another elephant walking, and this one would follow it. Someone suggested this would be a useful source of energy.

ACTIVITIES: Lee said no free tickets are available. We will attend a Fifth Friday (opening night) showing of Serenity at a time and place she will provide later via email. It won't necessarily be in Maryland. It might be at Union Station. [On Sunday the 18th she said, by email, that free tickets were available for a showing on Wednesday the 21st. There were enough tickets for every interested WSFAn. Eleven WSFAns attended.]

PUBLICATIONS: Keith said July, August, and September WSFA Journals were available, and that the past 30 years of WSFA Journals were available online at There's a sign-in sheet circulating. New people especially should be sure to sign in so we spell their names right.


Ernest had 250 hardbacks and 1000 trade paperbacks of the Future Washington anthology; he had received them this afternoon. He will sell the hardbacks to WSFA members for $20, or the trade paperbacks for $10. Several were immediately sold. Several more were given to Keith to try to sell at the PRSFS picnic on October 8th, or to other local fans, at the same discount. They will be for sale at Capclave, but not at a discount. The cover price is $24.95 for the hardback, $16.95 for the paperback. Amazon has both books listed, with images of the cover. He will send copies to reviewers, including Locus and SF&F. He said it really looks like a book, unlike a lot of what are sent to his SFRevu for reviewing. He thanked Gayle Surrette and Mike Walsh for their help.

Judy asked how many of the anthology's authors will be at Capclave. Ernest said undoubtedly six, possibly more, including Barbara Chepaitis, Brenda Clough, and Steven Sawicki. He's waiting to hear back from Joe Haldeman. [Four of the sixteen authors are currently in our online members list: Barbara Chepaitis, Brenda Clough, Edward M. Lerner, and Nancy Jane Moore.] There will definitely be a panel, and possibly readings. [Ernest is also one of two people in charge of Capclave programming.]

Lee suggested a signing. Judy suggested the meet-the-pros event would be a good place for a signing. Lee said it will be in the con suite, and we may not want to mix food and drinks with books. Adrienne asked whether it will be during the hours when the dealers room is open. Several people said no. Adrienne suggested heavy advertising in the dealers room about the later meet-the-pros event. Lee said that the event is on Friday, so few people will have been in the dealers room before it.

Mike Walsh, and possibly others, will be selling the book at Capclave. Some may be sent to Albacon [October 7-9 in Albany] for Joe Berlant to sell.

Ernest responded to applause by saying he'd rather people simply buy the book. He's willing to autograph them.

OLD BUSINESS: Lee withdrew her motion to donate club money to Katrina relief, saying she agreed with Ernest's objections. She is still collecting clothing for the effort. Ernest said he encouraged individual donations, but that it wasn't appropriate for an SF club.

NEW BUSINESS: Keith moved that we send a card to the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (PSFS) next month, congratulating them on their 70th anniversary, as we did last year for LASFS. The motion passed unanimously. Alexis volunteered to produce a card.

NEW TRADITION (as it was once called): It was Tom Boynton's first meeting, and Michael Bush's and Larry Hodges' second. [According to our records, it was Andrew Griesel's and Deidre McLaughlin's third meeting. Andrew is five years old.]


Candy, our hostess, made several announcements: The white bunny bites. You can feed the dog anything except chocolate. There's a lost & found basket under the food table upstairs. She received the following email, which she read, then provided to the secretary:

From: [redacted]
Subject: Skirt Story

Hey Candy!

I thought you might appreciate a story about a ruckus caused by one of your skirts. :)

Last Saturday, as I was getting ready to go to work, I realized that I *really* needed to do laundry. Having few clean things left, I just decided to wear your skirt in to work (I keep my work clothes in a locker at work.)

I get to work, park my car, and shuffle towards the door to the building.

Now, it's a little after 6 AM, I'm tired from getting in around midnight, and I'm not much of a morning person anyway. There's little spring in my step, so no fancy walking or anything. No makeup. Hair piled on my head in a clip, so no mop of free flowing curls.

I get the crap scared out of me by a loud crunch.

I turn around and see the end results of one car rear-ending another one in the parking lot at work

After everyone sorts themselves out, the guy driving the car that caused the collision admitted that he got distracted by the way my hips swayed in the skirt and by the way the skirt swayed with the hips.

Whoa! Even looking ragged and half asleep, I caused a traffic accident wearing one of your skirts.

I thought that was kinda cool, and thought that you might get a kick out of it.

Hope all is going well!


It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

Shirl is quitting her part-time job as a reader to a blind NASA patent attorney at Goddard, to be able to make her other part-time job, as a technical writer, full-time. She asked if anyone would be interested in doing that job. It pays $18 per hour, 20 hours a week, weekday afternoons. There are no benefits, other than working in a place with rockets on the front lawn. There's plenty of free time, since he doesn't need things read to him all the time.

Erica needs a new kitten, no more than four months old, since Thiotimoline needs someone to play with. Lydia added that he keeps beating up Spike. Erica said Spike is 16 and just had oral surgery.

Tamara is going to have a girl. She is due in mid-January. [Perhaps hers will be the first-ever birth at a WSFA meeting.] Tamara wants to know whether we prefer Rosalie Jean or Katherine Rose as a name. Judy preferred the latter. Mike Bartman said the former is a better stage name.

Carolyn picked up a Washington Post guide to getting news information into that newspaper, at the Takoma Park book festival last Sunday. The treasurer said that unfortunately our president, who is in charge of publicity, is away at a wedding. She also got a guide to DC area vegetarian restaurants. She gave it to whoever is working on the Capclave restaurant guide.

The secretary made his usual announcement: To ensure that they're reported correctly, announcements should be submitted in writing, or via the email address on the WSFA Journal, or via the email address on our website. He also announced that Walter Miles was having an open house tomorrow afternoon and evening and Sunday afternoon and evening at his house in Takoma Park, a 20 minute walk from the Takoma Metro station, and all WSFAns were invited. Walter had posted directions on the email list, and a paper copy was available at the meeting.

John Madigan had been working for the DC Office of Planning for the past five years as a GIS analyst, making maps. He's just been promoted. He will be working for the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs as a GIS manager. There are about 600 people in the agency, but it doesn't yet have a GIS department.

Eric reported that movie director Robert Wise had died; he directed Curse of the Cat People, The Body Snatcher, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Andromeda Strain, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Alexis said he had also directed The Sound of Music. Someone added West Side Story. Eric said this was an SF club. Judy said, slowly and ominously, “The hills are alive.”

The meeting was adjourned at 9:56 pm. 38 minutes. Scott Hofmann, Bill Lawhorn, and Elizabeth Twitchell arrived just as the meeting was ending.

The last people left at about 12:10 am.

It was warm, damp, and overcast. Rain fell nearby, but not at the meeting site.

Summary of 9/16/05 meeting:


Letter from LASFS

(WSFA sent a 70th birthday card to the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society last year. Matthew B. Tepper was then its president.)

Newsgroups: rec.arts.sf.fandom
Subject: By the way, Keith, something lighter
From: "Matthew B. Tepper" <oyþ>
Organization: The Chinese Ducked Press
Date: Wed, 21 Sep 2005 02:52:50 GMT

Keith, I thought you might like to know that the 70th birthday card you annotated for the LASFS' anniversary last year is on prominent display near the front table of the meeting room, Freehafer Hall.

Matthew B. Tepper:  WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!
My personal home page --
My main music page ---
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
Take THAT, Daniel Lin, Mark Sadek, James Lin & Christopher Chung!

Newer Orleans

By Keith Lynch

Because sometimes the best way to deal with horror is with humor and absurdity, here are five whimsical stfnal approaches to preventing recurrences of the recent catastrophe on the Gulf coast.

New Orleans, the site of my first Worldcon, was recently devastated by two major hurricanes, Katrina and Rita. There were thousands of deaths, hundreds of thousands of homes destroyed, and billions of dollars of property damage. Dead bodies were stacked in the corners of the convention center where fandom once trod.

How can such a disaster be prevented from recurring?


Since there's no way to guarantee that a levee will never break, pumps should be sized to be able to keep up. I propose a greatly expanded and improved city-wide storm drain system, containing hundreds of extremely large and powerful pumps. Each pump would be immediately adjacent to a multi-gigawatt nuclear reactor, all of whose power output would be dedicated to its pump.

Of course those reactors will need a lot of cooling. No problem. Simply remove all the levees. The city would then be surrounded by waterfalls -- from the Mississippi, the Gulf, and Lake Pontchartrain. The waterfalls would promptly disappear into the storm sewers. The water would be removed by the pumps, and would cool the reactors.

What do the pumps do with the water? The obvious thing to do is to send it back to the surrounding bodies of water via large-bore underground pipes. But we can do better than that. The rebuilt New Orleans will be a City of the Future. As every SF fan knows, a City of the Future should have a dome over it. Glass domes are obviously impractical, especially for warm, damp cities; they'd trap heat, humidity, and air pollution. And of course they're prone to shattering and dropping lethal shards of glass on the city. But consider a dome made of water, a city-wide fountain. It would clean and cool the air, like a rainstorm. If the water temperature could be kept below the dew point, it would also dry the air. It also blocks UV, preventing skin cancer.

It doubles as a defense against terrorism. Any hijacked plane that tries to fly through the dome would be swatted down by the rapidly-moving wall of water, like an insect sprayed with a garden hose. The fountain would be programmed to produce holes in the dome timed just right for regularly scheduled flights. Or the airport could be relocated outside the dome, if it isn't already there.

During high winds that might cause part of the dome to drop its water on the city, the upwind side of the dome can be temporarily turned off.

Would it be dangerous? Would it chew up aquatic wildlife and any people who inadvertently got sucked in? The pumps have to be powerful, but there's no reason they can't be gentle. The designers can take lessons from the designers of artificial hearts and heart-lung machines. The first attempts at building such things were miserable failures, since they smashed the delicate red blood cells, unlike a living heart. Eventually, people figured out how to avoid doing that. Scale up the technology, and there's no reason why fish, dolphins, scuba divers, and whales shouldn't survive their journey through the pumps none the worse for wear.

Soon, every city near water will want similar waterfalls and domes. In colder climates the dome will double as a heater. The reactors can easily warm the water, so that it acts to warm and humidify the city. New cities will be built on the bottom of the Great Lakes, and eventually even at the bottom of the oceans.


Another approach to rebuilding New Orleans is to rebuild it higher, by using landfill. How much higher? There's no hard and fast limit to how high a rogue wave or storm surge might be. To be safe, I propose an altitude of 10,000 feet. (Any higher and some people might start to have trouble breathing.) At that altitude, the city will not only be at extremely low risk of flooding (unless Ceres splashes into the Gulf, which isn't very likely (for one thing it wouldn't fit)), the air at that altitude will by drier, cooler, and cleaner, and the city will be above most of the weather.

That leaves the problem of where to find that amount of landfill, and how to keep it from subsiding. Few people want a city-wide, 10,000 foot deep, hole in their backyard. The solution is to use a single block of solid bedrock, quarried from the bottom of the ocean. This would have the beneficial side effect of increasing the volume of the ocean, thus slightly lowering the sea level, compensating for one undesired effect of global warming.

I haven't quite yet worked out all the details on how to extract, transport, and install the block. Possibly a very large airship could be employed. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader just how large the airship would have to be.


My third approach is for people to adapt. Houses were ruined when they were partly or entirely underwater for a few weeks. What if everything in the house were waterproof? If furniture, carpeting, and books were all made of plastic, and if electronics and food containers were all hermetically sealed, nothing should be harmed by immersion. People who ran up into their attics to avoid floodwaters should have found a full set of scuba gear there for each member of the household. And there should have been a submarine-style escape hatch in the roof of the attic. Once floodwaters recede, everything can just be hosed down to remove any mud, dead fish, etc.

Alternatively, buildings could be designed to float. Then when floodwaters start to recede, the only “repair” necessary is a tow back to the building's proper place. Or, if the owner prefers the new location, they can just stay there. Indeed, the city might periodically be deliberately flooded to rearrange the buildings to more convenient locations. The next time New Orleans bids for a Worldcon, the bid can include promises that the hotels and convention center will be moved next to each other.


My fourth approach is to prevent hurricanes. The butterfly effect is now widely accepted. Hurricanes are caused by the flapping of a butterfly's wings a few months or years earlier, in the sense that if that insect hadn't flapped its wings just then, that hurricane would not have happened, at least not where and when it did. With a sufficient number of weather monitoring stations, and sufficient amount of computer power, it ought to be possible to figure out which butterfly is responsible, and to send in a highly trained commando team to capture or kill it.


My fifth and final approach is conceptually the simplest, and, I think, the most realistic. What with hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados, typhoons, blizzards, droughts, monsoons, lightning strikes, sandstorms, mudslides, wildfires, avalanches, volcanoes, ice storms, plagues of locusts, quicksand, stampedes, malarial mosquitos, and hailstorms, it should be obvious to everyone that the surface of a planet is no place for people. Some of these disasters can only happen near water, but others can happen anywhere on our planet. Some can happen on other planets. Civilization must relocate to its proper place: outer space, where the hazards are simpler, more straightforward, and easily protected against.

I welcome comments and additional suggestions.

The Gods of Bal-Sagoth

Written by Robert E. Howard

New York: Ace Books, 1979

Reviewed by Lee Strong

[ 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. ]

While author Robert E. Howard is often surnamed “Creator of Conan,” he actually produced a respectable body of red blooded literature other than the stalwart Cimmerian. This small collection offers the reader a number of his lesser but still stirring adventure tales. None are any great shakes as literature -- there's almost no emotional or intellectual development here! -- but they're good snappy reads when you're frustrated with rush hour traffic.

Most of these tales concern odd remnants of the legendary past surviving into more modern times, often with horrific results. “The Gods of Bal-Sagoth” must be overthrown before two Vikings can plunder a lost island. “Casonetto's Last Song” proves that not all angelic voices are heavenly. “The King of the Forgotten People” is a relatively modern scientist ruling a lost Mongolian tribe with superscience while absorbing the personality of Genghis Khan. “Usurp the Night” is a Lovecraftian tale of forbidden experiments and Things Mankind Was Not Meant To Know. And “Nekht Semerkhet” teaches several people to be careful what you wish for. A little on the grim side, but gripping entertainment nonetheless.

I rate The Gods of Bal-Sagoth as **½ on the five star scale. -- LS

Xena's Companion

The team of astronomers who recently discovered the tenth planet, which they named Xena, have just discovered that it has a moon, which they've named Gabrielle. Unfortunately, these names aren't official. I don't see why the tenth planet can't be named after a TV character, when the ninth planet is named after a Disney cartoon character.

Xena's status as planet is equally dubious. It's far smaller than Pluto, which is far smaller than Mercury. There's no sharp dividing line between planet, asteroid, comet, and Kuiper belt object. Lots of stuff orbits the sun, from gas giant planets such as Jupiter, down to specks of dust too small to see.


In the minutes of the August 5th meeting, printed in the September WSFA Journal, I said that Zahi Hawass and Kent Weeks would be guides on a tour of Egypt that Lee Gilliland will be taking in January. Actually, only Kent Weeks will be. Dr. Zahi Hawass will only be at a reception she will attend at the Council of the Antiquities.

Please note that I do sometimes make mistakes, and I always welcome constructive criticism, as well as suggestions for how I can do things better. I place minutes of each meeting online, usually within a couple days of the meeting. If I'm promptly informed of any errors, I can correct them before they're printed in the next WSFA Journal. If I'm informed of an error in a WSFA Journal, I will print a correction in the next issue.

Once again, I thank everyone who contributed to the current issue. The deadline for the November issue is Fourth Friday, the 28th. As always, I eagerly solicit material: 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, sports scores, or attacks on WSFA members.