The WSFA Journal, June 1991

The WSFA Journal



June 1991



Disclave Memories ............................... Page 2
Lees Proliferate as Establishment Re-elected .... Page 3
Disclave to be "Rational" Says Pavlat ........... Page 6
Star Bores: Heir to the Empire .................. Page 9
Black Milk ..................................... Page 10
Go Tell the Spartans ........................... Page 10
Vortex ......................................... Page 11
Thunder of Erebus .............................. Page 11
Venus Needs Women! ............................. Page 12

* Our International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) is secret. If you violate our copyright, you will discover what it is when we sue.


by Lee Strong

I remember Disclave 1991. It was "rational"; it was fun; it was the best Disclave ever.

I remember so many things:

... discovering that it was Ray Ridenour's 25th con. He was introduced to fandom one Balticon when the con chair almost ran over him with a wheelchair. Hey! It worked!

... being appointed badge checker and keeping Gardner Dozois out of the Saturday night dance until he produced his badge.... "arresting" four dealers and Leo Sands' 70 year old mother for "sneaking" into the Dealers' Room without badges.

... Evan Phillips' fantastic -- as usual -- DisCave (tm) with three major areas and a handful of minor areas, each with its own themed decorations. There was a spacious Public Area for Registration, freebies, bid tables, and the first ever James Tiptree, Jr. Bake Sale. The Kitchen was separate and carefully controlled. And the General Area...!! What can you say about a con suite with room for lounging about comfortable sofas, a conversation area, a gaming area, and a miscellaneous area? AND, the piece de resistance, not one, but two in-door spaceships!

... newcomers being blown away by the DisCave (tm). One woman couldn't stop talking about the quantity and quality of the furniture we had!!

... exploring the shopping mall size Dealers' Room. ... buying books, buttons, paintings, pictures, posters ... and even escaping with money left!

... volunteering for Information (beforehand) and Registration (on the spot) ... feeling like a "true fan" as a result (as well as exhausted).

... wandering through a truly excellent Art Show, grabbing a few bargains (in the auction!), but mostly just appreciating beauty in pictures and sculptures and cloth and carvings and gwash. I remember finding C'mell the girlygirl, and falling in love all over again.

... being enchanted by Overton Theater's selection of classic films about nonhuman intelligences, and snickering over the Star Wars parodies.

... being moved by the energy of the dance in the Pomeranz Lounge. I never did spot the Cherry Blossoms, tho.

... catching a few of many panels where wit and wisdom came together.

... gaming for four hours without a bathroom break.

... sitting down with our gracious GOH, Lew Shiner, to talk about his work, and my dreams. After ten Disclaves or more, I must still be a neo. Otherwise, why would I feel so good when a Big Name pro author encourages me to create my own worlds. The brightest light is the own that's shared, and Shiner shines brightly indeed.

... not eating Saturday lunch until 9:30 p.m. 'cause I was so high on adrenaline! (All that caffeine probably helped, too.)

... hearing, over and over, nonWSFAns raving about how good Disclave was ... and never being bored hearing them say so!

... buying my '92 membership a year in advance so I won't miss a thing!

I remember Disclave 1991: memories to last a lifetime. --LS


Two "On the Right"


Parliamentarians Contest Uncontested Election

The First Friday in May meeting convened at 9:15, 3 May 1991.

Prior to the meeting, Trustee _____ _____ revealed that he is really the Secretary's long lost brother and also known as Lee Strong. The Secretary appeared unconcerned about this disclosure. He revealed that he was actually named after his grandfather and father, and, therefore, is accustomed to being one among a multitude of Lee Strongs. John Pomeranz reviewed the Secretary's family tree to be sure. The Secretary did clarify that he is Lee Strong III while the Trustee is Lee Strong IV. Accept no substitutes!

President Tom Schaad noted that we now had two "Lees on the Right". The Secretary appeared on the Moderate Right, altho only by contrast.

Tom asked for the minutes of the last meeting. Lee III obligingly played the tape of the previous meeting. Tom then put the Publications Committee on fast forward and waived reading of the minutes.

Treasurer Bob MacIntosh reported $6493.16 on hand. Suggestions to have a party or a disclave failed for lack of seconds. This amount is an increase over the last report due to the closing out of the Disclave 1990 account.

Disclave Past was closed out.

Disclave Present Chairfan Peggy Rae Pavlat reported that the Sheraton Greenbelt was full. However, Lee IV can do magic. Only Bob MacIntosh has received a written room confirmation.

Dick Roepke reported on the DisCave (tm) for Evan Phillips. Come Thursday before the con: there will be plenty of work to do. Evan has made the cow except for her head. Perrianne Lurie asked who was having a cow? Joe Mayhew refused to explain, which drew a round of applause.

John Pomeranz introduced safe earplugs for visually oriented fans. Joe explained that these were originally used by Baptists to practice safe sects. Pray for this man.

John Sapienza stated that Registration would be open for staff members on Thursday. He will, ah, request volunteers. The Zipsers are programmed to aid volunteers. John will also conduct a WSFA voter Registration drive: pick their pockets in tandem!

Mike Stein will have a staff party at 4 o'clock Monday afternoon for the still living.

Disclave Future reported that Pat Cadigan is excited. Lee Strong IV is Vice Chairfan; Steve Smith is Programming Czar; Beth Zipser is Programming Vice Czarina; Mike Zipser is Mr. Green Room. Other people will do other jobs.

Entertainment Committee Vice Chairfan Alexis Gilliland reported there will be an election tonight. Doll is not present because she is a woman of good taste.

Fine Arts Chairfan Lance Oszko has heard from the Dutch. They want their pictures back.

Tom called on John Pomeranz several times before he responded. Apparently the earplugs work well. The Committee to Spend a Great Deal of Money on Something Controversial and Expensive has noted what an extinguished job of candidate selection the WSFA Trustees can do. Therefore, the Committee has hired the Trustees to find a slate of candidates for the 1992 Democratic convention.

Dan Hoey reported for the Trustees that there would be an election tonight. He urged everyone to vote early and vote often for the Same Old Folks. There will also be a stray by-election for 1992 Disclave Chairfan. Mike Walsh is the nominee even tho he will be at the American Booksellers' Association convention in Anaheim, CA on Memorial Day weekend. Can you say "bicoastal"?

Relaxacon Committee Chairfan Eva Whitley sent letters to hotels in Ocean City trying to describe what we're planning.

Old Business was

Under New Business, Beth Zipser noted that both the Disclave Chair and Vice Chair have recently bought new cars, that the WSFA Secretary recently bought a new personal computer, and that the Disclave Treasurer has skipped town. She therefore called for an independent audit of the books. Would you prefer your books rare or well done?

There will be a Fifth Friday meeting at Peggy Rae Pavlat's house rather than at Jack Heneghan's.


John Pomeranz said, "Hi." The club said, "Hi." John announced that he was disappointed that the earplugs were not condoms. (That depends where you put them, John.) The University of Southern California Law School allowed him in so he's going to Los Angeles to join them.

Eva is looking for a Vienna-Reston area fan to escort neo-pro Lawrence Person to Disclave.

Joe Mayhew got an offer to be GOH at Volgacon, USSR. Is this Volgacon or Vulgarcon? The con has no $ for travel but will pay expenses at the con. Room and board will be a board and room for it. The ConskyCom expects to have 300 non-Russians attending.

Mike Zipser has 3-4 more job opportunities available. He needs IBM Cobol programmers and 1 manager. And, you won't have to work with Mike!

Winton announced that the Smithsonian is showing SF classics. So, drop by the Smithsonian for a little class.

Beth Zipser announced that Paula Volsky will appear at Disclave. Beth suffered an reading related injury -- tendonitis. It affects her page turning hand. The club applauded. Vicious; vicious.

Jack Chalker announced that Run From Chaos Keep will come out this week. It's $18.95 cheap.

Susan Cohen announced that John Travolta is involved with the Church of Scientology. There are rumors of homosexual activities which cause John to be afraid to leave for fear of Revelations.

Maura Scharadin announced that Erols has the Wizard of Speed and Time in cassette.

Bill Mayhew appeared in concert, backed up by 4 bands, on 10 May 1991.

Terilee Edwards-Hewitt needs access to subjects to use for psychological experiments. The club shuddered at the possibilities. In addition, Jim and Terilee wish to buy a house.

Rachel Russell announced important and shocking news: Steven Fetheroff left her with a kitten. Where are those earplugs when you need them?

Perrianne Lurrie announced the upcoming Walk Acrross the Bay Brridge.

Mike Walsh announced the sale of books for $1 each. "These are pretty decent dregs," he said. The Senator Theater in Baltimore will show 2001: ASO in 70mm. See it the way it shown be scene. Refrain from flashbacks, please. If you can remember the Sixties, you weren't really there.

Mike Stein announced that PRC is moving from McLean to Crystal City.

Fred Wilkie has a new job.

Tom bungled the New Tradition again, placing it after the Announcements. Brad Somebody and Matt Kern were here for their first WSFA meeting. No one had the lack of taste to appear a second or third time.

The Trustees then discussed election procedures. If necessary, we will have a secret election.

The regular business session then adjourned unanimously.


Election Meeting

Trustees Dan Hoey and Lee Strong IV presided at the 1991 Election Meeting. They were assisted by Dick Roepke and Bill Blank who were substituting for Erica Van Dommelen. (It often takes two men to substitute for one woman.) Dick, however, refused to squeak.

The Trustees fielded minor questions about two wannabees who were not on the ballot before the actual voting.

The Trustee slate for the executive officers was: Tom Schaad for President, Steve Smith for Vice President, Bob MacIntosh for Treasurer, and Lee Strong III for Secretary. The first three elections proceeded smoothly: no nominations were made from the floor and each nominee was elected unanimously.

Lee Strong III's name was misspelled on the official ballot as _____ _______ III. A wave of snickering swept the club. (That's why I'm the Secretary, folks: I'm the Lee who can spell. Sort of.) Trustee Lee Strong IV stated that this made no difference as far as he was concerned. Susan Cohen nominated Joe Mayhew from the floor. However, Joe declined to run. Lee Strong III was then elected unanimously. This was greeted by applause.

Trustee nominees Dan Hoey, Erica Van Dommelen and Mike Zipser were elected in a more than usually ridiculous parliamentary shambles. No one had any nominations from the floor but our bylaws require separate elections for each position. John Pomeranz and Lee Strong III tried to solve this conundrum by going through the process in fast forward. However, this was too subtle for most. Mr. Chair finally stumbled through each election in turn, pitting Hoey versus Van Dommelen and Zipser; then Van Dommelen versus Zipser; and finally Zipser versus the house. When all was said and done, more was said than done. But it's all legal, folks.

In the ultimate election, Mike Walsh was elected Chairfan of Disclave 1992 despite his planned nonattendance at his own Disclave. And people are worried about President Quayle.

The 1991 election meeting unanimously adjourned at 10:24.


Fans Question Innovation

The Third Friday in May meeting convened on 17 May 1991 all over the Bloom/Morman house. Vice President Steve Smith declared, "Okay, let's have a meeting!" in the absence of President Tom Schaad. Steve popped his top at 9:22 to open the festivities.

Steve asked for a Publications Committee report. The Secretary, Lee Strong, reported that the minutes were in Virginia. Steve wanted them read anyway. Lee was embarrassed to discover that his clairvoyance didn't reach that far. Steve graciously waived reading of the minutes.

As an alternative, Lee passed out yellow file cards. He asked that WSFAns write their name, address, telephone number and other information suitable for publication on the cards and to return them to him after the meeting. This information will be compiled for a new WSFA Contact List. One female WSFAn included some vital statistics. Hint, hint, wink, wink.

Steve then called for a Treasury report. Winton reported that his Treasury had no money in it. Bob MacIntosh reassured the club that WSFA had about $6420.00 in its Treasury.

At this point, yellow cards began descending on the Secretary who complained that they were interfering with his writing. Susan Cohen suggested that this was a good idea.

Disclave Past? "It's dead, Jim," concluded Bob.

Disclave Present Chairfan Peggy Rae Pavlat delivered a lengthy report. First of all, Disclave 1992 will be "rational" -- a novelty among SF cons. Second, the ConCom made numerous minor changes in most function locations to gain more room. Not enough to get anyone lost; just enough to disorient. The Art Show moves to the largest room, flanked by the Films and Programming. Doing the films will not kill Kathi and John this year. "Just Kathi," muttered John. The Dealers' Room will be in the same space as before but entered through a different route.

Dick Roepke will not fill Steven Fetheroff's shoes. (Thank Ghod!) He did introduce a really nice Disclave mug decorated by Alicia Austin. The con requests volunteers bring serving bowls and baskets for temporary con use. We will try to return them.

Bring cookies.

Peggy displayed the book cover to the Ooohs and Aaahs of the audience. It also has 4 black & white illustrations.

Peggy also announced that Joe Mayhew and Dick had collaborated on an important project. The sound of minds boggling was heard throughout the land. Peggy pinned a button on Joe. Susan remarked that lots of things could be pinned on Joe. The button of honor stated, "I mowed Peggy Rae's lawn." Subsequently other awardees were seen proudly wearing their buttons in public.

There will be a Fifth Friday party at Peggy Rae's house. The excuse is a debriefing session for Disclave 1992.

Winton asked when set up work started on Disclave Thursday. Peggy replied, "Not before 10 o'clock."

Disclave Future Chairfan Mike Walsh is not moving yet. The GOH and Art GOH will remain the same. Lee Strong IV has a list of committee chairs from Eva's con, which Mike will use to develop his list for Michaelcon. Evan Phillips was asked if there would be a small room for more intimate encounters? Mike suggested that personal cons should be handled personally.

Mike posed the question, Are we attracting riffraff? If so, we could move the con to another hotel and time. Susan suggested 1864. This started some more flashbacks to the Sixties which I am not going to repeat.

Entertainment Committee Vice Chairfan Alexis Gilliland reported that he was unable to get tickets for Kevin Costner's Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. Sorry about that. <Hey! Don't apologize. Just steal some tickets from the rich!!>

Joe Mayhew reported that the Disclave hotel has changed its marquee to the Sheraton Greenbelt. The van will not be available for more intimate encounters.

Fine Arts Committee Chairfan Lance Oszko reported nothing new from ASFA.

Relaxacon Committee Chairfan Eva Whitley reported nothing since she was off relaxing somewhere else.

Chairfan John Pomeranz reported that his Committee to Spend a Great Deal of Money on Something Available for More Intimate Encounters continues to be on the cutting edge. The Committee has identified a temporary employment agency for Disclave Chairs. Applause. John will be passing the number along later.

Under New Business (I), Bob MacIntosh requested authorization to increase our Disclave storage space at a cost of $35 per month. The extra money would upgrade our 9'x5' space to a 9'x9' space. Joe moved something or other to spend the required $1155.00. John asked if we would have access to the space at odd hours, such as during Disclave. Bob replied No. The motion passed unanimously.

Steve called for Old Business after New Business. Sigh! And he was doing so well up until then. Anyway, there was no Old Business.

Under New Business (II), Paula Lewis reported that there will be a James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Bake Sale at Disclave. Please volunteer. Matt (Guerrilla Badger) Leger asked if the International Cookie Conspiracy (ICC) knew about the competition. ICC agent Alexis Gilliland hollered, "They do now!" The ICC never sleeps.

Steve remembered the New Tradition, thereby violating it. There were none present who admitted to attending WSFA for their first or second time. Attending for their third time were J. L. Bate, Paula Lewis, John Peacock, and Madeleine Yeh. The Secretary asked Yeh to spell her name. She did. In Chinese characters. She wins.


Alexis G. recalled that he had been Maced in the face recently. Now he has been summoned to appear as a court witness. One suspect turned state's evidence when confronted by Alexis' testimony. ("And what did you see, Mr. Gilliland?" "Not much after the white mist hit my eyes.")

Susan Cohen, Lady in Waiting, announced that at 7:35 p.m. on the Wednesday just past, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain gave an audience at Baltimore Memorial Stadium for Susan and 19,939 of her closest friends. Attending Her Majesty were Prince Philip, Mr. George Bush of the American colonies and others. Joseph Mayhew, WSFA's Clown Prince, announced that Queenie came by his place, too. Susan was not amused.

Mike Walsh announced the Nebula winners: Best Novel: Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin. Best Novella: "The Hemingway Hoax", by Joe Haldeman in Asimov's. Best Novelette: "Tower of Babylon" by Ted Chiang in Omni (a first sale!). Best Short Story: "Bears Discover Fire", by Terry Bisson also in Asimov's. Congratulations!

Lance Oszko announced a Baltimore Worldcon bid party.

Matt requested volunteer badge checkers for Disclave. There was a loud SNORT of derision.

Terilee Edwards-Hewitt has passed her comprehensive exams. Trust her: she's almost a Master of Science.

Verne Clark announced that Mimosa is on the Hugo ballot.

Karl Ginter announced that Erica Van Dommelen was in G. W. Hospital for "funny and strange diseases". (She subsequently escaped to Disclave, the home of funny and strange people.) Don't call, but cards are okay.

Barry Newton announced that Ralph 124C41+ is on radio, a modern device for listening to voices electrically transmitted from a central broadcasting station through the air direct to your home.

Evan Phillips stated that he had plenty of work for everyone on Disclave Thursday and a guide sheet for the hotel. Steve Smith will be Treasurer of Disclave 1991.

John Hopkin graduated from Alan's Computerlane.

John Pomeranz has plenty of cool stuff for sale in July. It includes his coffin. He doesn't need it since the resurrection.

Alan John Hopkin graduated from Lane's Institute of Computer Science Repair & Sales.

Dan Hoey announced that people who have attended three meetings are eligible to join WSFA for a mere $5 over a Disclave membership.

Following up on Dan's theme, Mike Walsh also announced that Jeff Olhoeft won the Balticon Chairfanship. Jeff has been in fandom for only 1 and 1/2 years.

Alan Lane graduated from Johns Hopkins with a degree in Computer Science. And some people thought I'd get it wrong. Hah!

* After the meeting, Joe Mayhew suggested that reviews in the The WSFA Journal be signed or, at least, initialed.

The business meeting unanimously adjourned at 9:57.


The WSFA Journal is the obsequious newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA), Inc. Our Board of Directors:

Tom Schaad.......................Figurehead
Steve Smith................Spare Figurehead
Bob MacIntosh........Man With All the Money
Lee Strong.......Man With A Serious Problem
Dan Hoey...................Token Fan (Male)
Erica Van Dommelen.......Token Fan (Female)
Mike Zipser.........Power Behind the Throne
Michael J. Walsh...................Hindmost



by Timothy Zahn

Well, I suppose that I should begin by confessing a conflict of interest. Mr. Zahn's work bears some interesting parallels to my own 1986 parody, "The Real Ending to 'Return of the Jedi'". It seems that someone else has asked the question What might happen if the Galactic Empire had competent military leadership. Answer: the Rebels would be in a real jam.

Yes, they're back. All of our friends from Return of the Jedi have returned along with some new characters to vex the victorious Rebels. This story picks up about five years after the Battle of Endor. The Rebels have discovered that it's easier to overthrow an Empire than to govern a Galaxy. And Leia Organa Solo has discovered that mixing marriage, babies, and anti-Imperial politics takes up a lot of superwoman's day.

Meanwhile, the senior surviving Grand Admiral is conducting an intelligent effort to re-conquer Galaxy Lucas, with the aid of a Dark Jedi. Since he seldom explains anything, he comes across as mysterious to the reader as he does to his troops. But, at least, he went to a different school of personnel management than Lord Vader did!

I have several problems with this effort. First of all, it is a shameless cliffhanger. The cover warns that it is part of a three book cycle. What every potential purchaser should know is that the story doesn't end but is To Be Continued. Wait for the paperback instead.

The second problem is literary. The book lacks both energy and color. Lucas' films, for better or worse, always charge forward at breakneck speed. Zahn's massive missive plods along in a stupor.

There is also a distinct lack of visual appeal to "Galaxy Zahn". The films were jampacked with marvelous images such as the cantina, the Death Star, Cloud City, and the battle sequences. By contrast, Zahn seldom gives any visual description. Several scenes have definite potential for the vivid image, but the author is content with dialog and the briefest possible stagecraft.

On a more subtle note, I found the scene strangely cramped. In theory, our stage is an entire galaxy, implicitly the size of the Milky Way. From Zahn's description, Galaxy Lucas seems to only have a few dozen planets in it. A far cry from E.E. Smith's starspanning heros who are constantly discovering new things.

If I haven't mentioned any virtues, it's because this book doesn't have many. It's there. It fills up space. It takes a few hours to read. But it doesn't sing.

The cast is all there: Luke, Obi-Wan, Lando, Admiral Akbar, along with some miscellaneous pirates, aliens, and "slicers" (read 'hackers'). And they fight off the Imperial counterattack valiantly. Unfortunately, they can't resist a bad author as easily. Zahn just can't seem to make things come alive. Maybe he does better in his own universe; here he can't seem to do justice to Lucas' vision.

I rate Star Wars: Heir to the Empire as Disappointing. --Lee Strong (LS)


by Robert Reed

Every child fantasizes about being Superman or Wonder Woman. But what would such a childhood really be like? And how do Mr. and Mrs. Kent actually parent a superchild? Mr. Reed attempts to answer those questions with a character study of the children of genetic engineering.

Plot is distinctly secondary here. The focus is carefully on the children, their diverse parents, and the lonely genius Dr. Florida who made genetic engineering as common as the bambis in the park. It emerges as a thoughtful study of gifted children and the adults who chose to gift them with great abilities. The kids are just that: kids. They build a truly fabulous treehouse and are mostly just interested in hanging out together. They're just beginning to learn how to use their wonderful abilities. Right now, they're vulnerable to adult manipulation and more conscious of their own alienation from their peers than their future potential. More than a few fans have experienced the same feelings.

And the adults have feelings, too. Did we ever wonder why our grownups acted as they did? Reed provides more than a few clues.

There's a plot here as well: man-made aliens from the moon's moon -- a term which I found rather silly -- threaten the peaceful future world. But it's handled tidily enough on television. What counts is not the war, but how the crisis affects people, their hopes and dreams.

I rate Black Milk as Superior. -- LS


A Novel of Falkenberg's Legion

by Jerry Pournelle

No matter how intellectual fans may proclaim ourselves to be, there's still a lot of satisfaction is taking the bad guys out and kicking their keisters. The Grandmaster of military science fiction is at it again with a crackling tale of the fight for freedom on the planet Sparta.

Not only is there a lot of good action here but a lot of thought as well. If Pournelle's people fight like demons, it's because they're thought about what's worth fighting for. Being a citizen is a lot harder than many assume.

The basic plot is both simple and subtle. What sort of nation will the Republic of Sparta be? The heros articulate a vision of earned citizenship among peers. The villains proclaim themselves friends of the common man but spill the blood of any who disagree. There are more than a few echoes of the challenges of the 20th Century.

Spartans resonates on many levels. It's a decisive moment in Pournelle's future history. You can see the future growing in the decisions made here. But it also wonderfully evokes the past. At a key moment, I had to put the book down for a while. The ghosts of past heros were too close.

Pournelle does not spare his heros. If they win, it is not without suffering. What is the fate of the Four Hundred, hostages to the rebels? Is freedom worth the blood of your brother?

I rate Go Tell The Spartans as Excellent. --LS


by Larry Bond

Thankfully, South Africa seems to be inching its way towards democracy for all its varied people. But what if the process were thrown into reverse? The author of Red Phoenix looks at that strange country in his latest technothriller.

This giant 660 page novel takes a kaleidoscopic look at the warfare and human drama that erupts when a racist reactionary captures the South African Presidency. Events outrace plans, drawing a dozen nations into the title vortex and threatening worldwide disaster. Coming so close on the heels of Desert Storm, this timely book cautions us that the real world is full of dangers yet.

This is a good, competent work, finely plotted and well drawn. The major and minor characters breathe like real people. I did notice that heroism and villainy seemed to be ethnically distributed, tho. In addition, the Black, Asian and Colored sides of South Africa seem rather shortchanged in favor of the Boer v. English dimension. But, overall, Mr. Bond knows his stuff, both in the military and human areas.

If there was a shortcoming, the plotting seemed somewhat predictable. You can guess who wins from the first few chapters. To compensate, Bond tosses plot twists at the reader in rapid succession. It works, but the action and scope prevent close examination of any one issue. The effect is somewhat exhausting.

I rate Vortex as Superior. -- LS


by Payne Harrison

This uneven techno-thriller postulates a Soviet-American limited war in Antarctica. Seems we've discovered a rare element that allows construction of a super-laser but said element only occurs at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. The Soviet Confederation wants the stuff and risks World War III to get it.

The strengths of this effort are good characterizations. However the military aspects are distinctly second rate. In a book of this type, that's fatal.

The author relies a lot on near contemporary wonder weapons rather than serious military skills. Tricks have their place in war but Arthur C. Clarke's short "Superiority" illustrates the danger of relying on tricks alone. First the Soviets trick the Americans; then the Yankees trick the Russkies; then the Soviets...etc., etc., etc. Each time that one side gets ahead, they neglect to fortify their position according to modern military thought, which sets up the next trick. Stirring, but neither intelligent tactics nor good writing.

In the end, the author has to drag in a volcanic eruption -- the thunder of the title -- as a deus ex machina. I sensed that the author was getting tired and was looking for a way out. He found one, and I recommend that you find your way out ... of the bookstore where this effort is offered.

This tale is not without its redeeming features but its unevenness leaves me flat.

I rate Thunder of Erebus as merely Average. -- LS


(Edited from Final Frontier magazine) With the Magellan spacecraft discovering dozens of previously unmapped features on Venus every day, someone has to hang names on all those new places. So NASA wants your help. Scientists in the Magellan Project, in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey, are asking the public to suggest names for the new impact craters and volcanic vents that are popping up in Magellan's radar images of the planet.

Submitted names will be handed over to the International Astronomical Union, which is the final authority for naming objects in the Solar System. The Union's committee on naming meets every three years, and suggestions for Venus will be considered at the 1994 meeting.

Each planet has its own particular theme for nomenclature. The mountains, craters and valleys of Venus have been named in honor of famous women or goddesses. Mountain ranges bear the monikers of Freyja, Norse mother of the god Odin, and Akna, a Mayan goddess of birth. Lowland regions include Helen (of Troy) and Sedna, an Eskimo woman whose frozen fingers became the seals.

Sacajawea, and French writer Colette already have craters named after them. So do Nefertiti, Christa McAuliffe and Judith Resnik. In the past year, Magellan scientists have proposed a few names of their own, including Gertrude Stein, Pearl Buck, Simone de Beauvoir, Clare Booth Luce, Rachel Carson, Lillian Hellman, Margaret Mead, and Mary, Queen of Scots. But the Geological Survey expects that 4000 or more newly discovered features will need to be named in the coming decade. At least 900 are expected to be craters.

Before you suggest "Mom" or "Podkayne Fries", here are the ground rules. She has to be an actual woman; she must have been dead for at least three years; and she must have been in some way notable or worthy of the honor. Names of military or political figures of the 19th and 20th centuries are out, as women prominent in any of the major world religions and names of particular national significance.

In submitting a name, give the birth and death years and a one- or two-sentence rationale for why your candidate deserves the honor, plus a reference book citation, if available. Send suggestions to: Venus Names, Magellan Project Office, Mail Stop 230-201, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, California 91109. -- Tony Reichhardt

But will NASA and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) consider names such as Alice Sheldon or Judy del Rey? Yes. Jules Verne is honored by a major crater on Earth's Moon while Mars has craters named for Burroughs (ERB), Weinbaum and Campbell. So there is ample precedent for planetary geography honoring SF people. What is needed is a well written letter of justification to convince the IAU to name crater 124C41 "Del Rey" instead. I suspect that the powers-that-be just need a good push. After all, an idle question at one NASA workshop revealed that all of the serious scientists present had been first inspired by ERB! -- Lee Strong