The WSFA Journal, Third Friday, December, 1991

The WSFA Journal



Third First Friday, December, 1991

ISSN 0894-5411

November Election Winners Prove Fannish, Not Klannish


Disclave Says Thank You ..................................... Page 2
Election Yields Yet Another Covert Beach Pun ................ Page 4
Galileo's Close-Up of Asteroid 'Gorgeous' ................... Page 4
WSFAns Make First Contact; WSFA Approves Book ............... Page 5

Features - Club Business

Parliamentary Proposals ..................................... Page 7
The Care and Feeding of the WSFA Mailing List ............... Page 8


The Addams Family, by Chas. Addams ......................... Page 10
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, by Leonard Nimoy ... Page 10
Beauty and the Beast, by Walt Disney ....................... Page 12
The Coming War With Japan, by Friedman and Lebard .......... Page 12
Passion Moon Rising, by Rebecca Brandewyne ................. Page 13
What Might Have Been, Volume 3: Alternate Wars,
    by Gregory Benford and Martin H. Greenberg ............. Page 14

Feature - Drama in Real Life

David Duke and the Fan, by Lee Strong ...................... Page 14



"We Can Change It Whenever We Like"


"He Wasn't THAT Great A Bird!"

The regular First Friday business meeting convened at 9:18 p.m., Eastern Fannish Time, in Chez Gilliland, 1 November 1991. Tom Schaad, Leader of the High Council, presided.

Tom asked Lee Strong to read the minutes of the previous meeting. Always ready for a novelty, Lee began reading The WSFA Journal's article on the tragic death of Gene (the Great Bird) Roddenberry. A motion to waive the reading of the minutes was made and passed quickly.

Tom started waving the gavel around dangerously so Lee confiscated it for safekeeping. A brief struggle ensued in which Tom recovered the Presidential instrument. "Another coup narrowly averted," analyzed Trustee Erica Van Dommelen.

Lee then reported that he had completed the first draft of the WSFA First Contact List (c). He pointed out that several people known to exist have never filled out address cards. He requested that WSFAns check entries for themselves and their immediate friends.

Treasurer Bob MacIntosh reported that the club Treasury had grown to $10,396.73. Motions to have a party and/or an audit failed for lack of seconds. A motion to buy a car was debated before being quashed for lack of a second. Suggestions were made to buy a small car, a US car, a matchbox car, or an East German car.

Alexis Gilliland, Vice Chairfan of the Entertainment committee reported that the Committee was planning the traditional WSFA Tree Trim. He proposed that meeting places be exchanged for the December meetings. Tom stated that he would coordinate this tradition with Dan Burgess, who was not here. The President will be at Philcon on the Third Friday in November. Alexis affirmed that the Entertainment Committee would be at Philcon then, as well, and that they disavowed the President's actions in advance.

The Fine Arts Committee was not present.

Tom then bellowed for the Disclave Past report. He produced four echoes and a report. Chairfan Peggy Rae Pavlat reported that the check from the VISA account arrived and had been cashed.

An unauthorized report was made regarding the ConComm's plans to reward the hard working fans who made Disclave 1991 come together. Peggy Rae gently remarked that she had wanted that to be a surprise. She confirmed that the Disclave 1991 Committee was offering a membership in Disclave 1992 and a thank you note. For those who have already purchased a 1992 membership, an honorarium in the amount of the membership would be offered.

Disclave Future was not present.

Dan Hoey reported for the Trustees that there would be an Election Meeting after the regular business meeting to elect a Chairfan for Disclave Far Far Future. If you are not sure if you are registered to vote, you should importune the Treasurer, and press money upon him if all else fails. Yes, this is sort of like buying a vote. (I just report this.)

Joe Mayhew, Chairfan of the History & Archives Committee, reported that he had placed our Articles of Incorporation and By-laws on a diskette in WordPerfect 5.1. Technically speaking, WSFA does not have a constitution. Joe suggested that the Secretary print our constitutional documents in The WSFA Journal. Alexis moved that they be printed separately. Tom referred this issue to the Publications Committee.

* The Publications Committee, Secretary Lee Strong, presiding, met to discuss the issue. After a debate of 3-4 seconds, I the Committee decided to print the constitution separately.

There was no Old Business.

Under New Business, Susan Cohen proposed to amend the by-laws to allow paid up members to vote by proxy. Joe reminded Susan that this idea can't be adopted through this format. Susan then withdrew her motion for further consideration.

Dan Hoey reminded the club that November has a Fifth Friday. Someone suggested the Mew of the Pink Pigasus. That suggestion was quashed on the grounds that asking Dan Burgess to hold three meetings in a row was pushing it. The club sniffed at Rachel Russell's catbox. How about the Ginter/Van Dommelen household? Erica Van Dommelen countersuggested holding the party in the room of Richard "Jailbait" Segal. The club quailed, and tabled the whole issue. It will become Old Business.

Eric Jablow moved that the next WSFA meeting be declared the Gene Roddenberry Memorial Meeting. Lee Strong quickly seconded the motion. However, the resulting chorus of growls made it apparent that the rest of the club was composed of Klingons. Leader of the High Council Schaad ruled the motion defeated on a voice vote. The humans Eric and Lee escaped with their miserable lives.

Lee Uba reminded Leader Schaad of the New Tradition before he had a chance to forget it. This is not traditional. "Gee whiz," commented our leader.

Michael Bush and Jeff Cole are attending their first WSFA meetings. Yes, Michael has a relative in government. No, not that one.

Dave Wendland is attending WSFA meeting number 1 and 1/2 while Joan Wendland is attending meeting number 3 and 1/2. Leader Schaad ruled that Joan was here for her 2&l/2th time rather than her 3&l/2th time. Joe moved that we implement attendance averaging. This motion failed for lack of a second.


The Secretary invited WSFAns to conjugate freely and often.

Dick Roepke passed on greetings from Cat Slusser. The club meowed back.

Maura Scharadin announced a new job. She has the same boss but more fun and more money.

Laura Majerus was looking for roommates for Philcon.

Martin Wooster had a 5th book review published in the Post. He recently returned from Los Angeles and notes that LASFS meetings are much like WSFA meetings except that the clubhouse is bigger (and we're MUCH classier). LASFS has 3 buildings to play in. (So do we: they're just spread out in 2 & 1/2 states.) In addition, John Pomeranz says "Hi!" The club shouted "Hi!" right back.

Joe announced that Evan Phillips is NOT willing to change his decision not to produce DisCave 1992 TM.

Joe's boss says that he (Joe) has to go to Trinidad, so he will be joining the increasing ranks of those who will be running things but not present.

Following Joe's announcement, a suggestion was made to change the GOH to L. Ron Hubbard.

A Hat in back announced a Hamfest. Take that, you Hat!

Robyn Rissell announced that Susan Cohen, Nancy Loomis and Erica Van Dommelen are having birthdays. The staff of The WSFA Journal would like to congratulate Susan on her 28th birthday, Nancy on her 21th birthday, and Erica on her 16th birthday.

Tuesday is election day. Vote early and vote often.

Beth Zipser announced Howard Waldron

Joe announced that he is selling books, most for $1 each.

* Steve Smith announced that the Smith-Mason nuptials are now scheduled for 8 February 1992. Norman Schriber, chief organist for the National Cathedral, will play for the Smith-Mason ceremony.

Leader Schaad announced that the Election Meeting would convene 10 minutes, fannish time, after the adjournment of the regular business meeting.

The club unanimously adjourned at 10:46 Slightly Schaady Time. Our leader then advised the Secretary that he was still on Daylight Savings Time. The club adjourned at 9:46 Eastern Fannish Time.


Election Meeting


The elections meeting convened at 9:59 Eastern Fannish Time (EFT). Dan Hoey presided for the Trustees, who presented their nomination for Disclave 1992 Chairfan, Covert Beach. Actually, Covert was not there to defend himself, but this, too, is traditional. There were no nominations from the floor. Lee Uba moved that Covert be accepted by acclamation. This motion was adopted and the election was so ordered. The election meeting adjourned unanimously at 10:01 EFT.

* After the meeting, several people spoke to Dan about his conducting long, drawn out meetings.



PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA unveiled the first close-up picture of an asteroid after bypassing the Galileo spacecraft's jammed main antenna and sending the snapshot to Earth earlier than planned.

Asteroid Gaspra "is gorgeous" said JPL program manager William J. O'Neil. "It looks like a shark's head... quite triangular. There are craters all over it."

Galileo is looping toward a 1995 rendezvous with Jupiter, studying Venus, Earth and asteroids on the way. It became the first spacecraft to encounter an asteroid when it flew 995 miles from Gaspra on 29 Oct.

The black-and-white picture was taken 10,000 miles from Gaspra. It later will be processed in color.




"The chairman turned to the secretary. 'Enter the __________ in the record and then mark the record off-the-record.'

"The others nodded gravely." --Golden the Ship Was -- Oh! Oh! Oh! by Cordwainer Smith

The regular Third Friday in November business meeting convened at 9:22 on 15 November 1991 in the Mew of the Pink Pigasus. Vice President Steve Smith presided in the absence of President Tom Schaad. "Let's get this over with; I'm in a hurry," declared Smith.

Secretary Lee Strong asked that reading of the minutes be waived and it was so ordered. Elspeth Kovar asked that the minutes be corrected: in the previous issue of The WSFA Journal, she was cited as "Sen. Burgess". Lee gave a straight answer as to probable source of the error, which befuddled everyone. Let the record show that Elspeth located Richard Segal's eyeglasses rather than Dan Burgess as previously believed.

Lee also introduced copies of the "WSFA Constitution", which are actually the WSFA, Inc. articles of incorporation and the WSFA bylaws. Technically, WSFA has no specific constitution. Several copies were taken.

Lee further introduced copies of the WSFA First Contact List (c) 1991 WSFA. This list is a consolidated list of fans, addresses, telephone numbers and other information as known to the Publications Committee. Walter Miles moved to correct the list on the grounds that F. L. Ash should be spelled F. L. Ahsh. Lee remarked that he previously gave people the opportunity to correct any errors. Walter remarked that "Flash" was not ordinary like the rest of WSFA is. Let the record show that F. L. Ahsh is an extraordinary individual.

Treasurer Bob MacIntosh reported the Treasury stands at $9,460.44. There was a motion to have a party, but the club pronounced the motion to be both weak and feeble.

Let the record show that Disclave Past (1991) was not present.

Steve asked Covert Beach if Disclave Present (1992) had anything interesting to report. Covert said that we thanked Hal Clement, and that there will be a live action role playing game based on "Gilbert & Silicon". Channel 8 News previously did a special on this game. It's on videotape if you want to see what you could be getting into.

Covert also threw together a flyer for Disclave 1992 and sent it to Philcon 1991.

Steve then asked Covert for a report on Disclave Future (1993). The club shouted "Tag! You're it!" at Covert. The twice blessed chairfan reported that his committee had looked at the Reston, VA Renaissance hotel. It has the space but the space is more spaced out than previous hotels. If chosen, we would use the aerobics room for dancing and the parking garage for the dealers.

Let the record show that the Entertainment and Fine Arts Committees were at Philcon.

Steve asked for Old Business. Bob had some. There was an immediate groan of disapproval but it was too late. As the Arabs say, Be careful of what you ask for; you might get it.

Bob referred to previous discussions of the planned 1992 WSFA Press book. He now had a fairly firm cost estimate for the book: about $8,000. Some $800 has already been collected from advance sales. This money has been used to pay expenses to date. Bob moved that the club allocate eight thousand dollars for the publication of the 1992 WSFA Press book.

Steve expressed concern about draining the club treasury. An $8,000 book would only leave $1,460.44 for other club functions, notably bheer & pretzels. What would be the minimum immediate need? Bob said that WSFA Press needed $2,100 right now.

Walter Miles asked if approval could be delayed until the first meeting in December? He preferred that more club members be present for a vote committing such a large fraction of the treasury. Discussion focused on the desire for a 1992 book and the wish to include more members in the decision.

Bob accepted a friendly amendment to his motion. As amended, the club would allocate $2,100 to WSFA Press for immediate use, with the proviso that WSFA Press would request additional sums later. This amended motion was seconded by Covert Beach, Dan Burgess and Chris Callahan. The amended motion was unanimously so decreed.

There was no New Business conducted.

Steve called for Announcements. Lee reminded him of the New Tradition. The Chair observed that he could see that there were no new attendees present. Dan noted that the house spiders have attended at least four meetings. Steve, however, did call for guests, and he was right.


The Secretary was relatively sedate after his faux pas. <He should be sedated.>

Dan Burgess announced that he has 2 aquaria for sale. Neither leaks; the pumps pump; the filters filter; the gravel gravs. Everything works except the fish.

Steve announced that he is running Disclave 1992 programming and would appreciate some ideas.

Lee Uba announced that she was sorry to be late. She invited all WSFAns to a Fifth Friday at her place. Under cross examination, she admitted that this party is a clever way to dispose of Thanksgiving leftovers.

Kate Terrell is now a free woman, having left the University of Maryland library. The club applauded the liberation of Kate.

* Let the record show that there is always exactly enough news to fill The WSFA Journal.

Chris Callahan moved adjournment. The club voted "Aye" to adjourn. Steve then tried to trick the club into voting "Aye" against adjournment. However, insanity prevailed and the usual vote was taken. The meeting unanimously adjourned at 9:41.

Immediately following the adjournment, Maura and Rebecca Scharadin debuted. Maura asked, "Am I in time?"



proposed by Beth Zipser

The WSFA Press book that has been published in connection with Disclave the past three years has been, at least in my opinion, a very valuable public relations effort (and a better use of funds than a clubhouse, for example, although not as worthy as bheer). The realities of small press publication, however, require that monies are expended up front while the payback extends until all copies of the book are sold -- a matter of several years. As the situation now stands, the Shepard book has about broken even, the Resnick is close, and the Shiner book needs to sell about 150 more copies to reach this point. Copies are expected to continue selling, albeit slowly, and we should eventually see some profit from the publications.

All other expenses and income producing activities of Disclave run on a much shorter time frame. The accounts can be closed on a Disclave a few months after the convention for all activities except the book. The practice has been for the accounts to close on a convention with the unsold copies of the book being turned over to WSFA. Later sales are treated as income directly to WSFA, and unsold copies are club assets.

It seems to be neater and more aesthetically satisfying to treat the book as a WSFA publication, not a Disclave publication, in regards to the accounting. This means that the substantial up front money required for the book production -- which is not covered by advance orders -- would be voted on by the club much as it is now. The major change would be to bring the accounting within the purview of the club Treasurer, not the con Treasurer, and to end the artificial closing out of the convention accounts. Also, tracking the status of a book and how its finances are affecting WSFA would be clearer.

The "life cycle" of a book earning back its cost and, one hopes, some profit is one that covers several conventions. It seems to make more sense to associate its accounting with a continuing activity such as WSFA rather than with a more short term event such as a particular Disclave, even the Disclave which was the occasion for its production. Please note that I am NOT disassociating the production of the book itself from Disclave, as its content and release date most certainly should be tied to the convention.


proposed by Susan Cohen

To amend the WSFA By-laws to allow proxy voting by paid charter and life members.


The WSFA Journal is the official newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA), Inc. The WSFA Journal and the WSFA First Contact List, including all issues and publications, are copyright (C) 1991 WSFA, Inc.


The High Council of WSFA

Leader ................ Tom Schaad
Vice Leader .......... Steve Smith
Secretary ............. Lee Strong
Treasurer .......... Bob MacIntosh
Trustees ..... Dan Hoey, Erica Van
        Dommelen, and Mike Zipser
Reality Checker ......... (Vacant)
An Extraordinary Individual ...
        ... F. L. Ahsh


by Lee Strong, Fan

"Customers are not always right, but they do tend to get an unnatural amount of slack."
    --Button by Nancy Lebovitz

But not an unlimited amount!

During the First Friday meeting in December, several questions were raised about the "WSFA Mailing List". This article attempts to answer some of them.

First, there is no such thing as a "WSFA Mailing List".

Surprise! Neither our articles of incorporation nor our by-laws require the Secretary or any other WSFAn to produce an official mailing list. Over the years, several WSFAns, notably Joe Mayhew and myself, have produced such lists as fanac, not as a "requirement". I marked my 1991 list (C) WSFA, Inc. in order to protect it from outsiders, but such legal protection is still not a requirement for a list.

Second, the history of the list shows a wide variation in treatment. Joe maintained his list as the quasi-official club list for about 12 years. When I became Secretary, I thought that republication would be a good idea. For one thing, Joe's list was then printed in little, tiny letters that were really hard to read, much less xerox. Joe's list became the basis for my 1990 list, which I grandly entitled the "WSFA Telephone & Membership List".

However, many people complained that the Telephone & Membership list was badly out of date. Many people had moved or otherwise changed jobs, Significant Others, or situations, but never updated the information to Joe or myself. With over 100 names on Joe's list, the potential for rapid obsolescence is obvious.

So I made a command decision to start the whole thing over from zero. For several months during early 1991, I asked people at every regular WSFA meeting to fill out the now famous yellow cards. I specifically asked people to fill out cards for friends who were unable to attend.

Several problems emerged. Several people who attend WSFA regularly never filled out a card. Others claimed that they attended but had never heard the requests or seen the yellow cards. In some cases, Tom Schaad and I managed to fill in the information thru other sources.

Other people displayed what I would politely call a lack of intelligent consideration for the Secretary's situation. A number of WSFAns ask me to pass cards to them while I am trying to listen to the meeting. Other people return their cards by throwing them at my lap while I am trying to write. This interferes with my writing, to say the least. Like most humans, I have difficulty doing two or more different things at once, and would prefer to concentrate on recording the meeting without having to be a stationery clerk at the same time.

The yellow cards formed the basis for my 11 November 1991 list which I grandly entitled the "WSFA First Contact List" (C) 1991 WSFA, Inc. By coincidence, I first presented both of my lists to the club on Philcon Friday. Despite my quip that this date is now a WSFA tradition, there is nothing special about that date; things just worked out that way.

I also brought a number of First Contact Lists (and WSFA constitutions) to the First Friday in December meeting. However, the First Contact Lists were snarfed up like free food.

If I seemed flippant or out of sorts when we talked about the lists, it was because it seemed as if a number of people were demanding lists right now rather than asking for them as friends. As Mary Poppins said, "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down."

Even if I was willing to produce additional lists right now, that would require stopping the meeting for 1-3 hours for me to drive home, crank up my PC, and drive back. Snarling only builds frustration. Tom's guidance that lists would be produced and mailed within the following week was not only intelligent but gracious as well.

Since I keep fannish hours on Saturday mornings, I missed the post office pickup times. I therefore updated the 11 Nov 91 edition of the list on 8 Dec 91. Information provided by the green cards confirmed that information provided by the earlier yellow cards was transcribed correctly.

Copies of the mailing list, 8 Dec 91 edition, were sent to everyone who wrote "Mailing List" on their green card on the afternoon of 9 Dec 91.

Incidentally, the green and yellow cards are differently colored for a specific reason. People can tell more exactly when they updated their information by recalling the color of their (last) card.

What does the future hold? And how can you help?

Now that we have laid the foundations, I propose to publish the "WSFA First Contact List" each year, probably in October. This month was selected to be after the prime moving season (April thru September) but well before the midwinter card-sending season(s).

I will generally try to have cards available for people to update as needed. What we're looking for is name, (Significant Other's name), address, telephone number(s), bulletin board/fax/etc. numbers, and other useful information. However, I must ask people to fill out the cards and return them to me after the regular business meeting.

Also, if you don't want to appear on the list, please make a positive statement to that effect, rather than assuming that I (or another) will understand your wishes.

On the other hand, if you know of someone who should be on the list, such as an Old Fan who seldom attends WSFA functions, then you should list him/her yourself. If you think that he or she wants to be listed!

Periodic updates to the annual list can be made in The WSFA Journal. This can be done by making announcements -- which appear monthly -- or by filling out cards -- which will be consolidated and published roughly quarterly. The running gag about submitting information to the Secretary as you wish it to appear is not as much of a joke as we make it out to be!

And finally, as Matt Leger said in another context, "He that giveth slack shall also receiveth slack."


(the movie)

by Chas. Addams

This is a somewhat uneven film, but one that works.

Anyone who follows previous incarnations of Charles Addams' dark humor knows the basic idea: family life amongst a clan of ghouls and freaks. As the movie opens, the family shyster conspires with a couple of "normal" goons to defraud the Addamses of their vast fortune. The rest of the film is a wacky contest between Addams innocence and kookiness, and "normal" villainy.

The action moves right along, with reasonable pacing. Essentially all of the characters, including the non-Addamses are grotesques, but their outre natures and diverse charm carry the day wonderfully. Numerous references make clear that the Addamses supposedly inhabit a corner of our own "rational" universe. But the "freaks", especially Angelica Huston as Morticia and Raoul Julia as Gomez, display such energy and self-assurance, that we (and the other normals) constantly wonder Who really owns the universe?

Yes, there are numerous references to kinky sexual practices, mostly S&M. But, again, a basic playfulness prevents offense. As the Joker remarked, "Decent people shouldn't live here. They'd be happier somewhere else."

This film attempts a balance between the comedy of the Sixties TV show and the darker humor of the original cartoons.

This balance is a little rocky, but Addams likability brings the film together nicely.

I rate The Addams Family (the movie) as Above Average. -- LS


by Leonard Nimoy

Several years ago, The Carol Burnett Show had a short comedy spot in which a movie critic attends a film with a house full of average citizens. Throughout the show, his reactions are the exact opposite of the average movie-goer. You can guess what sort of review he's going to write.

That's sort of how I feel about reviewing Star Trek VI (ST6).

This is a good movie, well above Hollywood's average. Go see this movie. Now, skip directly to page 12 for reviews of movies that fans might not see automatically. Bye!

Oh. Are you still here? Well, since you are, let's discuss the weaknesses of ST6.

This is not a perfect movie. It is very good, and a bridge between the two Star Trek generations. But it has many problems.

Frankly, I thought that the overall logic of the film was weak. The script introduces a grand theme: the quasi-collapse of the Klingon Empire and the beginning of the Federation/Klingon Alliance that so nicely distinguishes the two Star Trek generations. But the execution strikes me as very, very weak.

The basic plot driver was not laid out very well. The initial briefing which should set up the entire film was rushed, and there was nothing like a full discussion of the issues. The possibility that the Empire would opt for a full scale invasion of the Federation -- which would be more consistent with established Klingon psychology -- was simply brushed aside without debate. A strange oversight for a film debuting 50 years to the day after Pearl Harbor.

Instead, the bulk of the film is spent on the 99th remake of Captain Kirk in Prison. This is O.K., but we have seen it 98 times before. The now obligatory sexual violence seemed embarrassing rather than provocative. Given the basic plot premise, I would have preferred more emphasis on Kirk overcoming his negative feelings about the Klingons rather than a situation that reinforces those negative feelings.

Another major problem was that ST6 violated the established ST universe on many points. Tolerance of one's fellow being is probably the distinct contribution of Star Trek to general literature. Against that background, the comments about Klingon body odors seem astonishingly out of place. (Also, doesn't the air conditioning work on the Enterprise-A?) The scriptwriter seems to have picked up the trivia from the original series but missed the main themes. And for the Klingons to call the Federation a "Homo sapiens only club" to Mr. Spock's face is not only factually incorrect, but silly.

Like Federation sensitivity and culture, Federation technology also seems to have taken a step backward. Handguns in this film drill holes in humanoids rather than tidily disintegrating them as the original series showed. Spacesuits are bulkier and less flexible than before. And why does the Enterprise bridge crew have to drag the bound, hardback books out of the library to translate English into illiterate Klingon? A cute joke, but illogical given the established Klingon military efficiency and the Enterprise's Artificial Intelligence.

The Great Bird knows that the Enterprise-A could use all of the intelligence that it can get. Real space and ocean ships are NOT run by committees of bridge officers when the captain is away. Nor do bridge officers perform detailed technical work: that's what the other 300-400 crewpeople are there for! But any ship run by James "Orders? What are orders?" Kirk is only one step away from piracy anyway.

The Klingons take their share of abuse as well. Given the super-macho culture shown in various episodes, a female Leader of the High Council seems very illogical. To make matters worse, there are not one but several major continuity lapses with the Leader being called "Chancellor" and "President" in various places in the film. Get it straight, people!

Interestingly, this story would work much better if it were set earlier in the ST history, possibly as early as the late 22nd Century. Kirk and Spock could be young midshipmen working under Captain Pike before his own adventure in The Cage. The racism and primitive technology would then be issues that were overcame by the time of the original series. Alas! The real ages of the actors dictated another, and inferior, story.

This is a good film. But, it's the continuing strength of the basic concept that justifies the price; not a weak execution by self-indulgent hands. I rate Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country as Superior.


by Walt Disney Productions

I think that one of my buttons covers this situation: "Some people have children in order to buy toys and enjoy them. I find it more dignified to cut out the middleman and buy the toys for myself."

This animated fantasy is an excellent re-telling of the classic story about a selfish prince who must learn patience and kindness while trapped in a beast's body, and the beauty who teaches him. The personalities are well drawn, and their growing processes -- the key to the plot -- are thoughtful and logical parts of their characters, rather than spasms of the author's imagination. The scenery is the usual incredible Disney standard, and I am still humming one of the songs 3 days later.

The weakness, if there is one, is the predictability of the plot. Anyone who knows the story knows that Belle and the Beast -- his real name is never mentioned! -- will fall in love before the magic rose fades. The joy is in the incidents along the way to the known goal. Here the Disney artistry shows through with real flair. I found the character of Gaston the huntsman -- usually a stock character in many fairy tales -- to be a novel element. And the minor characters shine brightly in their own little bits. Watch out for the flirtation between the candlestick and the dustmop!

This is a good movie. Go see it. The later evening shows have a lower rug rat content in the audience. The theater managers know who buys the toys!

I rate Beauty and the Beast as Excellent. -- LS


by George Friedman and Meredith Lebard

If, as commonly said, war is too important to be left to generals, it is certainly too serious to be left to academics. This grandiose exercise in geopolitical posturing will embarrass its readers if not its authors.

The thrust of this alleged nonfiction is that Japan and the United States will inevitably engage in a shooting conflict over economic zones of control. The authors "prove" this by outlining "vital historical goals" of both nations which create an unresolvable conflict of interests. Who developed these goals? The authors claim, with straight faces, that all US Presidents, Congresses and a majority of the American people are members of a conspiracy to conquer the world. Such a conspiracy would at least have the virtue of being relatively democratic. The alert reader will also discover that the British navy does not exist and never has!

Having "proved" their theory with evidence that would embarrass a psychotic, the authors indulge in a favorite academic pastime: prescribing the future military forces of the two nations. However, they never suggest any use for these forces, which is like buying a car without any place to drive to. The idea of nations learning to live in peace and to resolve differences through negotiations never seems to occur to these amateur Machiavellians.

I rate this trash the lowest possible: Did A Tree Die For This? -- LS


(Chronicles of Tintagel I)

by Rebecca Brandewyne

Pardon me while I puke.

Oh. Not because this book is a cross genre fantasy/romance. I've read fantasy and I've read romance. But I'm going to puke on this book because the author really doesn't respect her characters. Or her readers.

By its nature, science fiction generally focuses on two basic ideas: intelligent beings dealing with their universe, using logic (and tools) to overcome problems. By its nature, romance focuses on emotion, so I knew from the beginning that the reader would encounter a different mindset. What I did not expect is the way that the author denies both integrity and intelligence.

The novel is set on the planet Tintagel.... Time out! Ms. Brandewyne displays many weaknesses in constructing her fantasy world, but one of the most objectionable is a complete lack of imagination when naming characters and places. All of the proper names are traceable to English, Latin and Celtic roots with only the thinnest of disguises. The continents on the known side of the planet are all slightly distorted copies of Earth's. Gag!

In addition, Ms. Brandewyne commits other blunders in geography. "Oceans" that horses can swim across are called "ponds" on Earth! And cacti do not grow in "jungles"! Gag!

More offensive than these blunders is the New Age mysticism that passes for Tintagel's religion. Altho the priestly "Druswids" preach free will, they deny it by their actions. The Reverend Mother Druswid drugs the heroine, Ileana, to insure her "surrender" to the hero, Cain, who, in turn, is acting on the orders of his superior, the Druswid High Priest. I must not understand "romance" very well because this sounds like rape to me. However, All Is Well because this rape is A Love Match Fated From The Beginning Of Time. A couple of chapters after this rape, Ileana apologizes to her spiritual counselor for doubting her superior's judgment! Gag!

The male hero, Cain, is subjected to authorial abuse as well. During much of the book, he is wrestling spiritually with the Foul Darkness inside him. This is a legitimate plot device, as Return of the Jedi shows, but it is not properly developed here. In fact, Cain is a loyal servant of the Light for all of his youth, but is suddenly dominated by the Darkness when it suits the author's purpose. In addition, Ileana wields the magical power during the climatic battle that Cain was born to use, which contradicts the whole reason for Cain's curse. This is truly bad writing which denies the integrity of either character.

Moreover, the ending rings false since it contradicts the thrust of the story. At the crucial moment, Cain exercises free will to reject evil. But, the 430 pages before this decision have shown that evil is more powerful than good and that Destiny Rules All in Tintagel's universe. The plot does not support the climax, or the patient reader's investment.

I rate Passion Moon Rising as Inferior in both Fantasy and Romance. May the Force Light be with you, always! -- LS



by Gregory Benford and Martin H. Greenberg

Curiously, this is actually book #4 of this excellent series of alternate histories. As the title suggests, the focus is on warfare and its consequences.

I found the quality of these stories to be very uneven. Poul Anderson is, as usual, excellent When Free Men Stand. Not only does he tell a tale of different types of Americans fighting Napoleonic invaders, but he gives a real feel for 19th Century ideas. In Jack McDevitt's hands, The Tomb is a poignant reminder of the power of ideas. And what can I say about the classic If Lee Had Not Won the Battle of Gettysburg, by Winston Churchill? (Answer: It's great. Improbable, but great.)

By contrast, George Zebrowski's The Number of the Sand dwells on the idea of unlimited alternatives to the point of philosophical exhaustion. Alternate worlds become an excuse for inaction. Larry Niven, call your office. F. M. Busby trivializes a great theme -- an alternate grand strategy for World War II -- with a microscopic focus on Tundra Moss. Barry Malzberg's refighting of the social upheavals of the 1960s strikes me more as outright paranoia than science fiction.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. For one thing, it was fun trying to figure out what time the particular story was set in, and when the deviation point occurred, before the author announced it. So complete your collection, and buy this book.

I rate this book Average. -- LS


by Lee Strong

Even Darth Vader had to get his start somewhere and somewhen. In the opinion of many Americans, Lord Vader began his career as a humble Duke wearing the white robes of an Imperial Wizard in the province of Louisiana.

Even though Vader, or David Duke as he was known in 1991, didn't actually win many battles, his sheer persistence made him an enemy to be reckoned with. Defeated for US Senator, he ran for the Louisiana House of Representatives and won. Following that victory, he ran for Governor of the state, beating the moderate and conservative candidates in the primary. Even though Duke lost the Governorship, it required the combined forces of the Democratic and Republican parties to hold him down to 39 percent of the vote! It certainly looked as Duke was unstoppable.

About 1975, however, the story had a different outcome.

In that year, Duke, then the self styled "National Director" of his Ku Klux Klan organization announced that his Klan would recruit students at major Southern universities. Throughout the South, this news was received with scorn, and not a few threatened violence if the Klansmen came marching in.

Nowhere was Duke's announcement received with less joy or enthusiasm than at the symbolic University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). The school had been the site of the last armed insurrection against the US Government in 1962, and visitors could still see bullet holes in the walls of the Administration Building. The cauldron of race bubbled uncomfortably at the best of times, and this news merely added fuel to the fire.

Against this backdrop, a casual group of students had gathered in the offices of the Student Government, engaged in solving the problems of the universe, at least to their own satisfaction. Suddenly, the telephone rang. Jack, the only student present actually a member of the Student Government, answered. At the other end of the line was a reporter for the Memphis, Tennessee Commercial Appeal. "Will there be violence at Ole Miss when the Klan marches in?"

Jack was a gentle soul who would later be elected Chief Justice of the Student Government. But now he was caught in a classic dilemma. The answer was almost certainly YES. But that answer, printed in the most popular paper in a five state area, would equally certainly darken Ole Miss' genuine efforts to overcome its bloody past and bring down the future wrath of the conspicuously absent school administration. On the other hand, a straightforward NO would be a lie, and Jack had been raised in the classic tradition that a Southern gentleman never lies.

Jack shared the reporter's question with the group, and then attempted to answer it without saying either Yes or No.

Another student, Clark, began whispering in Jack's ear. After a minute of attempting to relay Clark's words, Jack handed the phone to the interloper with the genteel command, "Talk to her yourself."

Clark accepted the phone and identified himself to the reporter simply as an Ole Miss student. In truth, he had no official position in the Student Government or any other campus organization. He had, however, learned a few things about communications from reading Heinlein's Revolt in 2100. His words were carefully articulated, and chosen for their shock effect.

"Ma'am, the Klan will be not be met with violence at Ole Miss. The Klan will met by that which is WORSE than violence."

"What?" stuttered the reporter. Her confusion was echoed in the faces of the gathered students, suddenly and uncomfortably thrust into history in the making.

"Ma'am, if they come, they will met by embarrassment." Clark hurried on before the reporter could break the train of thought. "You see, Ole Miss students are proud... proud of our Southern heritage, Southern tradition, and Southern achievement. And we know that the Klan is not a defender of Southern values like they claim to be. Instead, we know that the Klan is an embarrassment to the South and those who truly love our heritage.

"So if the Klan comes to visit Ole Miss, they won't be met by violence. Just embarrassment that these nightriders call themselves Southern when they're really a disgrace to the South and to America."

There were some more questions, but that was the essence of the interview. The other students passed up the opportunity to comment for the record.

As soon as the phone was safely back on the hook, Jack turned to Clark. "Good answer, but why did you say that part about embarrassment?"

Clark tossed a question back, "Do you know anything about Klan psychology? And the Klan view of violence?"

"No," admitted Jack. None of the other students did either. That fact alone spoke volumes about the South's progress on racial issues.

"Didn't think so. You see, Klansmen don't think of themselves as nasty people. They think of themselves as heroic defenders of Southern heritage and the American way. So, when someone threatens to beat them up, that really reinforces the Klansmen's self-image. They see themselves as defying danger to boldly and heroically stand up for America and the South. So, threats of violence will actually tend to attract the Klansmen.

"What I tried to do was to attack their self-image rather than reinforce it. We want to persuade them not to come here by saying that they won't get what they want here. They can't be heroes if there's no danger to defy. And they can't be defenders of the South if Southerners consider them embarrassments."

Jack was unconvinced but gracious. He thanked Clark who paraphrased Heinlein, "Take my word for it. There's heap big magic in those words."

And, indeed there was.

The reporter called other schools, received other comments, and wrote her story. Clark's words were a disproportionate part, almost a quarter of the article. And her story created a clear distinction between Ole Miss and every other school contacted.

As mentioned, The Commercial Appeal was the largest selling newspaper between New Orleans and St. Louis. The students at Ole Miss certainly read the reporter's article with interest. And it seems a fair assumption that others read it as well.

A short time later the Klan marched. Threats of violence didn't stop the Klan anywhere. Their recruiters came to schools north of Ole Miss, south of Ole Miss, and east of Old Miss. But, they did not come to one school: they did not come to Ole Miss.

Why did David Duke's Klan avoid recruiting at the most logical target?

Well, we don't really know for sure. Mr. Duke never called a press conference to announce that he had read the Commercial Appeal, and been scared off by words more powerful than fists, But there remains that unique coincidence. Mr. Duke avoided the one university where someone attacked his heart.

The two opponents went their separate ways. They never met face-to-face.

David Duke continues his political campaigns. Within a week of his defeat for Governor of Louisiana, he established a committee to explore a bid for President. Will he win? In 1975, Jimmy Carter looked pretty unlikely. But he made it. Who knows?

Clark continues to be a fan. He reads the newspaper and watches television. He sees two Presidents and two National Committee Chairmen flailing away at David Duke, trying to squash a mosquito and managing to miss. He chuckles to himself, and whispers, from time to time, "That's not the way. Aim for the heart. Aim for the heart."

Science fiction: there's heap big magic in those words.