The WSFA Journal, November 1986

The WSFA Journal



VOL.10, NO.5


Meeting of October 3, 1986 at the Gillilands; President Michael Walsh presiding, Secretary Erica Van Dommelen taking minutes. The meeting was called to order at 9:00. Treasurer Steve Smith reported a balance of 14,868.99 in the treasury.


Entertainment: The entertainment committee provided us with a partial eclipse of the sun during the afternoon, because "if it was during the meeting it would be too dark to see it." Two weeks from tomorrow Georgetown University will present a program of two SF films and Harlan Ellison for $5 ("That's only a dollar a foot!")

Discon 3 Bid: A meeting was held 2 weeks ago at Jack Heneghan's; minutes are available from Joe Mayhew. The consensus is yes, it can be done. A budget of $1,000 over the next nine months will cover publicity, office supplies, and incorporation costs. It was moved and seconded that the club allocate a $1,000 line of credit to the Discon 3 Committee for administration and publicity purposes in order to initiate a 1992 Worldcon bid. The motion passed unanimously.

Disclave 1986: Tell Jack Heneghan if your membership should be reimbursed.

Disclave 1987: The only entire committee meeting will be held this Sunday at 1:00 at Chris Callahan and Dick Roepke's.

Trustees: We, the Trustees of the Washington Science Fiction Association, Walter Miles, Chris Callahan, and Eva Whitley, nominate Tom Schaad for the position of Disclave 1988 Chair. Nominations of other candidates for this position may be made during the Disclave 1988 Chair election, which will take place after the regular meeting of WSFA on Friday, October 17, 1986.

Old Business: None.

New Business: None.

Announcements: The Fifth Friday party on October 31 will be at Bob MacIntosh's. Costumes are optional; clothing is required.

Lee "Lee on the Right" Strong received a letter of commendation from Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger for saving the taxpayers about 2½¢ each last year. Anyone with philosophical objections to this savings can return his or her 2½¢ to Lee.

Attending: Joe Mayhew, Alexis Gilliland, Mark Owings, George Shaner, Lee Uba, Gerry Uba, Jack Heneghan, Tom Schaad, Lance Oszko, F. L. Ahsh, Dave Hastie, Mary Ellen Scharadin, Kent Bloom, Bob MacIntosh, Vickie Smith, David Kuc, Art Coleman, Mary Estes, Tara Scholtz, Phil Cox, Jul Owings, Ray Gallacci, Mike Walsh, Paul Berglund, George Koelson, Randall Smith, Erica Van Dommelen, Walter Miles, Lee Smoire, Steven Fetheroff, Naomi Ronis, Lee Strong, Steve Smith, David Kirby, Dan Hoey, Sam Schwarz, Chris Callahan, John Pomeranz, Ginny McNitt, Cat Slusser, Doll Gilliland.


Meeting of October 17, 1986 at Mary Morman and Kent Bloom's, President Michael Walsh presiding, Secretary Erica Van Dommelen taking minutes. The minutes of the previous meeting were accepted as read. Treasurer Steve Smith reported a balance of $14,887.44. Pay your dues or you can't vote for Disclave chair.


Discon 3: Joe Mayhew has designed a logo. Other ideas welcome and will be used in future publications.

Disclave 1987: Pay your dues now: you must pay for associate membership before you can pay voting membership dues.

Poker Table Committee: Kent and Mary keep forgetting to order the table.

Old Business: None

New Business: None

Announcements: Mike Walsh is 36 today, and has now spent half his life in WSFA.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:24.

Attending: Joe Mayhew, Tom Schaad, Steven Fetheroff, Charles Gilliland, Bob MacIntosh, Alexis Gilliland, Joe Hall, Erica Van Dommelen, Mike Walsh, Mary Morman, Kent Bloom, Lance Oszko, Dan Hoey, Naomi Ronis, Lee Strong, Lee Smoire, Mark Owings, Jul Owings, Vickie Smith, Bill Mayhew, Derek Jordan, Cat Slusser, Steve Smith, Phil Cox, Art Coleman, Walter Miles, Chris Callahan, Dick Roepke, Letitia Wells, Jim Edwards-Hewitt, Teri Lee Edwards-Hewitt, Barry Newton, Judy Newton, Alan Huff, George Shaner, Kate Terrell, Jack Heneghan.


Disclave 1988 Chair: Trustees' candidate Tom Schaad won over Kent Bloom, who was nominated from the floor.

The trapdoors to failure outnumber the shortcuts to success.
  --L.B. Johnson

If your boss calls tomorrow, do you want me to find out his name.
  --L. Briski

Subtlety is the art of saying what you think and getting out of the way before it is understood.


Nancy Sitton
Arlington, VA 22205
703 534-3309

Joe Hall and Anne Ockershausen
Silver Spring, MD 20910
301 MI9-PEPY


Hotel Tour & Meeting, Saturday, October 25, 1986

The tour started at the Washington Hilton with a meeting with Annmarie Pittman, representative of The Connecticut Avenue Collection, which promises joint use of the Hilton, Omni Shoreham, and Sheraton Washington hotels. We also met with representatives of each hotel individually.

The Hilton's International Ballroom is a vast oval, two-tiered hall which seems ideal for a Worldcon masquerade. It was set up for a fashion show when we toured it and the runway had level entrance and exit. Because the Hilton is not within convenient distance of a Metro stop, it might be necessary to set up a shuttle service between it and the Shoreham/Sheraton site in order to use it.

Those of us who remembered the Sheraton Park's big, old-fashioned rooms were pleased with the guest rooms at the Omni Shoreham. They have recently been refitted with the latest hotel geegaws and are rather larger than many newer hotels offer.

Those of us who remembered the Sheraton Park's function space still got a little lost in the new Sheraton Washington. It is even more immense than when it hosted the 1974 Worldcon, Discon II. The exhibition hall is one-third larger now and is the second largest in North America.

DC's building code keeps its hotels from becoming much more than 10 storeys, and its fire code requires that the stairways must be open to access and exit from any floor. Thus elevator jamming is not the problem in DC that it is in other cities where skyscraper hotels have security locks to keep you from using the stairs.

After the tour, the Committee met for about half an hour. It was decided to contact Ray Ridenour and ask him to do a silk screen version of the con logo to be put onto committee members' own t-shirts, with the cost divided among those wanting it. Stationery will be available, and we will print business cards as well as a flyer.

The next meeting was set for 2:00, December 13 at Jack Heneghan's.

participating: Kent Bloom (Chair), Joe Mayhew (Secy.), Alan Huff, Kate Terrell, Lee Smoire, Jack Heneghan, Michael Walsh, Mark Owings, Jul Owings, Naomi Ronis, Dan Hoey, Vicki Smith, Dick Roepke, Bill Squire.


L. Ron Hubbard
Bridge Publications, Inc.

For my sins, it came in the mail. What it is, in case you haven't heard, is the fifth volume of Hubbard's dekalogy, Scientology's repayment of the debt it owes science fiction. What you are reading is a very brief review from one who has enjoyed the hospitality offered by the Hubbard people at more than one convention.

FOF is an old man's book, displaying Hubbard's faults as "Number of the Beast" displayed Heinlein's. What we have is a meandering stream of 'adventures', non-stop action, to be sure, but unfocused, undisciplined, and, when you get right down to it, uninteresting. Hubbard was, in the beginning, a pulp writer, and at the end he returned to his origins, grinding out reams of pulp, killing time as he was waiting to die.

The notion that Hubbard put his mind out to pasture in the pulp meadows of his youth is supported by the 1930's feel of the book. It is also supported by a severely dated view of the world, expressed in the crudest, the most heavy handed fashion imaginable. To give an example: In volume IV, Gris is chained to a bed and tortured by two lesbians, Miss Pinch, and Miss Candy Licorice, who eventually release him. Pinchy and Candy have been set up. In volume V, Gris captures them. "Turn about," he thinks (p. 278), "is fair play and the worm had turned." He strips them, chains them, and tortures them. By raping them both, to the point when they swoon with ecstasy, and renounce lesbianism and the Rockecenter's "Psychiatric Birth Control" program forever. The passion of Gris is expressed by the furniture moving around and foaming beer cans gushing over. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, Know wot I mean? Know wot I mean?

Old-fashioned and hyper-simplistic is not enough. Jokes, or would-be jokes are repeated interminably. Scenes continue endlessly. We have, after all, ten volumes to fill.

Alexis A. Gilliland

THE PASSION OF AYN RAND by Barbara Branden (Doubleday, 1986)
442 pp, $19.95

Ayn Rand's writing has a singular intellectual and emotional intensity. One of the principal tenets of the philosophy which she dramatized in her fiction - she called the philosophy "objectivism" because of its orientation toward metaphysics - was that reason and emotion should reinforce one another. If they don't, if there are contradictions between mind and body, then something is wrong. Anyone disagreeing with Rand's philosophy was always first advised to "check his premises." Some readers discounted or ignored the philosophy, which often was explicated in the form of garrulous declamations by the protagonists of her novels, choosing instead simply to enjoy the intricate, adventuresome plots and the colorful (albeit sometimes tediously loquacious) characters. Although science fictional in neither content nor intent, at least one of Rand's works, the novella ANTHEM, would be classified in the genre by most readers. And her monumental novel ATLAS SHRUGGED featured exotic technological gadgetry and had scientists or engineers as main characters, including the hero, electrical engineer John GaIt and nuclear physicist Dr. Robert Stadler, an important villain.

Ayn Rand was a popular writer but not a popular person. How and why she developed a personality that celebrated reason and a "benevolent sense of life" (Rand's term) in her writing but appeared to reject those values in her personal life is the theme of Barbara Branden's biography THE PASSION OF AYN RAND. I must emphasize that phrase - APPEARED to reject - because the context of some events is rather sketchily developed by Branden. She and her husband Nathaniel Branden shared a long and close acquaintance with Rand and her husband Frank O'Connor. In Nathaniel's case, the relationship eventually led to a sexual affair, of which their respective spouses were made fully aware with the expectation that they would acquiesce. And they did. When Ayn attempted to resume the affair after a lapse of years, Nathaniel refused. Congreve was right, and Ayn's fury was hotter than hell and as unquenchable. After expelling the Brandens from her circle, she continued to alienate and lose her ever fewer remaining friends. To persist in even trivial disagreement was construed as betrayal. After ATLAS SHRUGGED, Rand wrote brilliant critical essays about modern culture but published no more fiction and little serious philosophical work. She died on March 6, 1982.

Well, yes, Rand could be callous and vindictive. And insensitive. An ingrate! I mean, I'll tell you - and Branden does repeatedly - about things like Ayn's letting the water run all night in the bathroom at her relatives' apartment in Chicago. And she would let her cats claw up Frank's carefully selected furniture. It was enough to drive a guy to drink, and Frank did. In the end, the moral of the story seems to be that domineering middle-aged women shouldn't have affairs with precociously intelligent but demonstrably immature boys.

While Branden's book is well written throughout, its usefulness as a biography is uneven. The first half of the book deals with the period from Ayn's childhood in Russia through her early experiences in America up to her meeting Nathaniel and Barbara Branden after the publication of THE FOUNTAINHEAD, her first highly successful novel. Branden relates the story of Rand's life with a sense of romance and adventure that evokes Rand's novels themselves, which indeed are shown to contain scenes and characters adapted from personal experiences and acquaintanceships. But as the period of Rand's life approached which should be of greatest interest to students of her philosophy, Branden loses focus. As she was writing ATLAS SHRUGGED, Rand was developing objectivism into a coherent system. But Branden continues to concentrate on relatively insignificant incidents in both her own and Ayn's personal life. I suppose that it is unfair to criticize the omission of material about which I can only speculate. However, I cannot help but think that Branden had a uniquely intimate perspective that would have afforded occasion for pertinent and significant observations that are not forthcoming in this biography. In this book, Barbara Branden had a valuable opportunity that was to some extent wasted.

Objectivism is a philosophy too potent to be ingested undiluted except by extremely well-adjusted and mature individuals who know how to apply its principles to specific situations. But for those whose temperament and intellect can manage it, objectivism is a sunrise that illuminates the landscape and dissipates the fog. Ayn Rand has given us a radiant vision of the potential for distinctively human achievement. Hers was a literature of heroic ideas and intellectual heroes, and in that sense her writings share an important theme with much of the best SF.

                  --Gerry Uba

MARTIAN SPRING, by Michael Lindsay Williams. Avon, 277 pages, $3.50

This is an awful book. I had thought to just list page numbers of horrible examples and let you see for yourself, but then you'd have to buy the book.

Martian Spring has, unfortunately, a good SF plot underneath the bad writing. An Earth ship crash lands on Mars, triggering a terraforming process. Hibernating Martians are discovered and a genetically engineered human tries to communicate with them. Two megalomaniacs vie for control of the highly advanced aliens.

It's the writing that's horrendous. Williams uses what I call thesaurus writing: he substitutes words he found in the thesaurus for more ordinary ones, even if they don't mean quite the same thing. I tried it with my Roget's and found the same words. I looked up the real oddities in my three-room, split-level dictionary (with two-car garage) and couldn't find many of them. My favorite was "paranoically."

One of the best examples of Williams' attempts to be literary is on page 243: "She brushed her fingers along his symbol of manhood and bent to kiss it delicately. But her heavy woman's scent made him take her hair and face from his wounded shoulder." Does this mean his shoulder is his "symbol of manhood"? I don't know about Michael Williams but that's not where mine is.

There are many partial descriptions that take some effort to follow. In others he uses fancy words that don't agree with the rest of the description. And I won't go into detail about his attitude toward women (even though some are in high-ranking positions) or his use of violence.

There are two types of women in this novel: stereotyped women with large breasts and dead ones. I have read books with more violence and more graphic violence and not complained. In this book, however, although some of the violence is necessary to the story, frequently the descriptions take away from the dramatic impact of the scene. They can turn a horrible but necessary scene into something from a Gor novel.

I didn't object to the story as much as to the way it was written, or rather, overwritten. There are some imaginative and creative ideas. The comparison between human and Martian biology was great. Williams created viable aliens (at least the smaller creatures). I would have loved the novel if it had been written by nearly anybody else.

                --Steven Fetheroff


Contact people: Kathi Overton or John Pomeranz
                1958 N. Woodrow Street
                Arlington, VA 22207
                (703) 525-6186

The 1987 Worldcon is in England, as everyone already knows. We think that this is as good an excuse as any to have a British film program at Disclave. It is our goal to put together a schedule of six or seven features and a few short subjects which trace the development and trends of sf/fantasy films in Britain. We hope to include films which: 1) are of historical significance in the evolution of the genre; 2) have not already been shown to death at conventions; 3)are tolerable to watch. Joe Mayhew has expressed concern that the film program be science fiction, not detective or action-adventure oriented. We agree, and will make every effort to avoid falling into the "fringe" film trap.

We have started doing research on the British SF cinema, and have compiled a list of rental possibilities. Whenever possible, we view videotapes of the movies we are considering. Otherwise, we cross-reference reviews from as many sources as available. We are currently talking to five major film rental houses, and hope to contact more in the near future. All of the companies have been very helpful and encouraging.

Fandom encompasses a wide variety of tastes. We would, therefore, like to create a program with diversity, so that almost everyone will be able to enjoy at least one of the movies on the schedule. This is one of the reasons that we are working on the program as a team - our preferences in film are sufficiently different that we can counterbalance each other, avoiding a program which degenerates into the "all of my personal favorites" syndrome. Some of the areas we are trying to consider are: high-tech (hard science), fantasy, horror, comedy, future speculation, utopia/dystopia (social commentary), and animation. We want to cover as many of the topic areas as possible, using films from the thirties through the eighties. A tentative list is below: we welcome any comments on the selections, or additional title suggestions.

Quatermass Xperiment     The Man Who Fell to Earth
Village of the Damned    Stairway to Heaven
Transatlantic Tunnel     These Are the Damned
Zardoz                   The Man in the White Suit
2001: A Space Odyssey    The War Game

Space U.

Creation of an International Space University with its own orbital facilities will be the subject of a multinational conference in April, 1987, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Representatives from Canada, China, the European Space Agency, India, Japan and the Soviet Union are scheduled to begin laying the groundwork. The tentative plan is for the school to begin as a summer session at a host university, then move in stages to a full-year format and a dedicated campus, with university orbital facilities to be built early in the 21st century. Initial funding for curricula development will be sought from corporate, government and foundation sources. Aerospace executives will be invited to the conference, which coincides with M.I.T.'s biennial Spacefair, begun in 1983.

                AVIATION WEEK & SPACE TECHNOLOGY/September 1, 1986


Novacon, October 31-November 1, 1986, York, PA

Thpppt! About 50 people showed up. Even the comic book people were boring. If I could have, I would have left Saturday. Next year Novacon will pay homage to the alleged new "Star Trek" TV series.

                  --Joe Mayhew

Well, that's more like it! My heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue. Continue to send book and movie reviews, convention reports, art work, and publishable weird stuff to:

Erica Van Dommelen
Editor, WSFA Journal
2413 N. 11th St.
Arlington, VA 22201
703 522-2540