The WSFA Journal, April 1992

The WSFA Journal



April, 1992

ISSN 0894-5411



Russell Saves Beach's Life; Athelstan in Accident .......... Page 2
Mew of the Pink Pigasus to Close ........................... Page 5
Godzilla Disappears! ....................................... Page 8


Daybreak 2250 AD, by Andre Norton .......................... Page 8
The Great Pacific War, by Hector Bywater ................... Page 9
UFO Crash at Roswell, by Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt ... Page 9
The Sixth Battle, by Barrett Tillman and
    Trial By Fire, by Harold Coyle ........................ Page 10

Ultraman: Towards the Future .............................. Page 11
Wild Cards X: Double Solitaire, by Melissa Snodgrass ...... Page 12


Former Movie Star Becomes Programming Head


Unconscious but Still Fannish


The First Friday in March meeting convened at 9:10, 6 March 1992. President Tom Schaad called the meeting to order, noting that it was Michaelangelo Day for computers throughout the world. He urged everyone to practice safe discs.

Tom then paused to phrase his request carefully and asked Lee Strong, Secretary, to reprise the minutes of the last minute. Lee read The WSFA Journal headline. Apparently stunned to find that Lee can read, no one said anything. Emboldened, Lee began reading the article on the last meeting. Suddenly coming to its senses, the club quickly waived the reprising of the minutes.

Treasurer Bob MacIntosh reprised $5675.73 on hand. This includes $1400 income from the Pat Cadigan book. Tom suggested that Bob step on Covert Beach's parade.

Alexis Gilliland, Chairfan of the Entertainment Committee, reprised mea culpa, mea culpa. While shopping in a Chinese grocery store for shrimp chips, he was inspired to get dried cuttlefish strips. This is sort of like fish jerky. If WSFAns are willing to read about intelligent cuttlefish, they ought to be willing to eat some.

Lance Oszko, Chairfan of the Fine Arts Committee, reprised receiving slides from Tom Kidd. On a commercial-cultural note, the Delaware Arts Museum repries that science fiction-fantasy shows are the best attended shows that they have. Both Delawareans attend them.

Covert Beach, Vice Chairfan of Disclave 1992, said that he had some good news, some bad news, some mitigating news, some really bad news and some really good news. The good news is that Disclave '92 has a flyer and we will have a folding party. The bad news is that Karl Ginter's folding machine proved incapable of handling a Disclave flyer. The mitigating news is that the printer will collate our material.

Covert continued. The really bad news is that Steve Smith is resigning as Programming Head. Something about a new bride taking up his time. However, the really good news is that Rachel Russell saved his life. The club went "Yay!" at this news. Tom said something that I won't repeat. Specifically, Rachel has volunteered to become the new Head of Programming! (See item on page 4 for Rachel's qualifications.)

Covert declared that the Acting Con Chair would have the last use of the con couch. Rowdie Yates asked if it would be used as a traditional studio casting couch. "No;" stated the veteran of many cons, "to collapse on."

Covert then gave a demonstration of flyer folding. He had cleverly included folding ticks to guide the fans. However, this demonstration started David Chalker crying.

Covert Beach, Chairfan of Disclave 1993, said that he still hasn't heard from the proposed GOH yet. Alexis noted that Robert A. Heinlein has been dead for years. (But he's still publishing!)

Mike Walsh, alleged Chairfan of Disclave 1992, arrived for a full briefing. He claimed that the con was surfing on a rock slide but doing so successfully! Rachel Russell was a good choice for Programming. Still awed by Rachel's selection, the club went "Ooooooooh!"

Dan Hoey, Trustee, reprised that the Trustees were about to start thinking about official nominations for 1992-93. He invited all to buttonhole your Trustee and confess your lust for power.

Tom asked Lee Strong, ex officio head of the Publications Committee, to reprise on the idea of a separate book publication fund. Lee reprised that the Committee had finished deliberations but that he was tardy in writing up the recommended changes to the By-Laws for approval. The draft report would add a new article VIII on club finances; substantially alter the publications section in article IV; and make minor changes in the duties of the Secretary and Treasurer. The club made strangling sounds at the thought of constitutional changes. Alexis suggested getting a chess clock to time the debates.

There was no Old or New Business conducted.

Tom noted that the headline of the previous WSFA Journal had blown his cover, forcing him to remember the New Tradition all by himself. Tom nobly forebode to note that the Secretary misspelling words in the headline should be a Nuw Tradition of its own.

Chris Weakley was attending his first WSFA meeting. See related item on page 4. Wanda Without a Last Name and Sue the Redhead Stuck in the Back Room were also attending their first meeting. No one was attending his or her second or third WSFA meeting or tradition.


Dan Burgess and Elspeth Kovar announced that noted fan Athelstan (mundane name Ray Palmer) was in a car accident Monday night. He suffered multiple skull fractures and is in critical condition in the Washington Hospital Center. He is mostly unconscious but responds to touches and some spoken words. His blood pressure went down when a Clam Chowder tape was played. The nurses are getting used to strangely dressed people visiting.

Terilee Edwards-Hewitt added that information on Athelstan was available on the Internet access BBS and/or the Pyramid BBS. See her off-line.

Lance Oszko announced three announcements. First, he has a Polish art folio to reprise. Second, there will be a Siggraph meeting at Capital Video. Third, he has Captain Morgan keychains and mugs for sale. See Lance.

Rebecca Prather announced that she has Managing Your Money software.

Crystal Hagel has a Lunacon flyer.

Joe Mayhew announced that someone named Michael Angelo has been sending his computer documents from all around the world. Rebecca's tax returns were really interesting. Most works of fiction are.

Dan is still collecting clothing at the Mew of the Pink Pigasus. Please don't donate accidentally.

Terilee is walking with a cane. She banged her foot and broke two toes on a bookcase. It's another reading related accident. Reading can be hazardous to your health. The WSFA Journal urges all its readers to practice safe reading. <Sort of a contradiction in terms, isn't it?>

Terilee also turned in her Master's thesis "Eating Disorders in Minority Women". Her oral defense was on 26 March. She expects to graduate in May. The club applauded Terilee's masterful work.

Mike Zipser is the schedule for Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Robyn Rissell announced something about classic rock but my notes make no sense <No news there.> and I don't feel like making something up.

Perrianne Lurie mentioned Icon XI, Lawn Guyland, New York. However, since it is the same time as WSFA's First Friday meeting, you better drive real fast to make both events.

Perrianne is still looking for Green Room volunteers and a suitable roommate for Balticon. If you promised to write an article for the Disclave Program Book and didn't, you're toast.

Lee Uba has been continued from November. (We're glad.} She announced that there is a God. She lost her wallet but someone found it and mailed it back to her, including her unabused credit cards. The club was awed by this epiphany.

Michael Walsh has cheap books. He also mentioned Cyberprez, a one page New Yorker humor piece. Nebula nominees include Synners by Pat Cadigan.

Tom Schaad announced "I'm an idiot". No one disagreed. The Secretary claims success.

Lee Strong announced that anyone who wished to make Tom happy could submit to The WSFA Journal. It's not strictly necessary but it will make our idiot President happy.

Lee also gave a review of Wild Cards X: Double Solitaire. Dr. Tachyon, who has slept with half the women on the East Coast of North America, is "jumped" into a woman's body and discovers how the other lives. Rowdie commented that Dr. T must have split the USA with Magic Johnson. Dr. Tachyon also meets an alien named Nesfa, who has worms inside. The club was shocked, shocked on behalf of our fellow fans in Boston.

I have to presume the club adjourned unanimously since our court jester President forgot to announce the adjournment time.


New attendee Chris Weakley is especially interested in science fiction since he works at Hole In The Wall Books, 905 West Broad Street, Falls Church, (703) 536-2511, an excellent book store specialized in science fiction and comics.

Rachel Russell is well known to fans since she played the female leads (under stage names) in the Wonder Woman and Moonlighting TV series and the 1989 Batman movie. She was Secretary of WSFA for a year, and directed Hook for Steven Spielberg and Beauty and the Beast for Walt Disney. Programming for Disclave 1992 will be her first live production and her second production under her own name.


The WSFA Journal is the official newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA), Inc. Our finances are in better shape than those of the U. S. Congress. Nyah! Nyah! Nuh-nyah-nyah!


Publisher ........... Tom Schaad
Editor-in-Chief ..... Lee Strong
Reality Checker ..... STILL VACANT



Beach Says the D-Word

Secretary Declares Amnesty



First Citizen of Japan Disappears;

Later Found in Secret Lair


"He's Selling; I'm Not Buying"


The regular Third Friday in March business meeting convened at 9:21, 20 March 1992 in the Mew of the Pink Pigasus. Tom Schaad, President for Life, presided. Tom noted from the sparse attendance that, "It's obvious a number of members are in jail, bankrupt, in California or at Lunacon."

Before the meeting started, some rowdies in the back noted that Joe Mayhew was not present and elected Dick Roepke to be the Designated Joe Mayhew. He got the voice right.

Treasurer Bob MacIntosh reported $5812.23 in the kitty. About $4000 is nonbook fund money. There was a weak motion to have a party but this failed for lack of energy.

Tom called on Secretary Lee Strong, who replied, "Yes, Mr. Clinton?" Tom shuddered, stating, "I certify and verify that I am not slick." Rowdie Yates suggested some Crisco would help that problem. Others suggested olive oil since Tom is married to an Italian-Amerifan. Quart bottle or gallon bottle? Tom judiciously agreed that a 30 gallon drum might suffice.

Tom then insisted that the Secretary read the minutes of the last meeting. Lee then read the headlines on page 2 of this WSFA Journal, including the one when Tom announced that he was an idiot. The club then had mercy on Tom and waived further reading.

Tom sighed with relief and breathed, "Only two more of these." Covert Beach began chanting "Draft. Draft. Draft." Tom then moved that the Disclave Vice Con Chair be assassinated but this motion failed for lack of a second. Someone who shall remain nameless then stated that the club really preferred Rachel Russell for President anyway. Rachel began squeaking in dismay. (Apparently, squeaking is contagious.)

Tom then tried to conduct some club business and called on Covert, Vice Chairfan of Disclave '92, for a report. Covert stated that "No news is good news," and that we shouldn't expect a report from Stealthcon. Pat Cadigan has submitted the manuscript for the book, which will not be a Stealth Book. It is being printed at Thompson-Shorer now.

Covert, Chairfan of Disclave '93, reported that Katherine Kurtz will be GOH in '93. He is still looking for an Art GOH.

Tom asked if Katherine has anything which has not been published 5 times before. We might not have a 1993 Disclave book.

As an alternative to a book, it was suggested that WSFA publish a chess set. Perhaps, the set could feature Joe Mayhew versus Susan Cohen. Hmmmm. This could be the world's only chess set with two Princesses. There would be an ad in the Program Book by the Franklin Mint.

By this time, things were getting rather silly <as opposed to what?>, Erica was squeaking, and Tom asked everyone to calm down before Erica hurt herself. Rowdie offered some olive oil to help things go through more smoothly.

As an alternative to the chess set, it was suggested that we select an Art GOH by having a contest. "Draw Skippy the Deer" and win a GOHship to the Famous WSFA Authors and Artists' School.

About this time, Tom asked, "When did they shut off the oxygen to this room?"

The Entertainment Committee deferred to the Fine Arts Committee.

The Fine Arts Committee deferred to the Entertainment Committee.

Lee Strong, Chairfan of the Publications Committee, had no report. He noted that Tom had previously complained that the Committee was moving too fast, so we slowed down. Tom was nonplussed by someone actually deferring to his wishes.

Tom reported that he would not be at the First Friday in April meeting since he was going on temporary duty to Boise, Idaho. Rowdie opined that this was a junket since there were no Coast Guard activities in Idaho. Tom demurred, noting that the Guard had lifesaving duties on the Snake River. Steve suggested that this was a cover for stopping drugrunning from Montana. Montana buffalo chips are fetching high prices on Capitol Hill these days.

Old Business deferred to New Business.

Under New Business, Bob MacIntosh moved that the proceeds from last year's WSFA Press book be applied to the publication of this year's book. Many members chimed, "Okay by me."

Perrianne Lurie asked if WSFA Press wanted all the money from previous book sales? Yes. How much money has been spent? About $5500 of which $4600 was authorized by the club. The balance was generated by advance sales of this year's book. [WSFA Press's original, 1991 request was for $8000 total.]

Barry Newton seconded the motion, but asked if there were any other obligations against this money, such as a Disclave? No, Disclave & other activities are funded separately.

Karl Ginter asked if the last block of money allocated to the book wasn't supposed to be the very last block? Tom Veal expressed concern that the book was being bloated up and was consuming all of the available money in the club.

Tom noted that this money was from previous book sales. The books pay for each other. John Sapienza noted that Mike Walsh was not here to defend the book in detail but that this book was thicker, of higher quality, and had more quality interior art than previous works.

A vote was called. There were 23 Ayes, 1 Nay, and 3 Abstentions on the motion to allocate the proceeds of the Shiner book to the publication of the Cadigan book.

The New Tradition deferred to Lunacon. Tom remembered the New Tradition all by himself. He noted that remembering the New Tradition without help was now the tradition. This is the Fourth New Tradition, but violates the Second and Third New Traditions.


Tom Schaad announced that Tohei Studios had lost their Godzilla suit. See expanded story on page 8.

Lee Strong rounded up the usual suspects.

Dan Burgess had 4 announcements. First, his landlord is selling the Mew of the Pink Pigasus. We can have two more WSFA meetings at said Mew and then we will move.

Dan's divorce became final last month. Is he a free man? "No," stated Elspeth Kovar.

Dan is now a payroll consultant. The Federal Aviation Administration is looking for someone to write a roleplaying game to teach airport security trainees. This game would actually be played at airports. Club members scrambled out of the way in time to avoid injury as Terilee Edwards-Hewitt volunteered at warp 9.5.

Perrianne Lurie only had three announcements. She is looking for a suitable roommate for Balticon, and still has some Icon XI flyers. Icon will be held 3-5 April. Hugo nominations are due by the end of the month.

Tom Veal brought Hugo nominations and site selection ballots. They are freely xeroxable.

Dale Farmer is free of the Navy. He is now working for an obscure Maryland firm, K. L. Ginter and Associates. No one has ever heard of K. L. Ginter and Associates before.

Susan Cohen stated that some people are seeking reimbursement for working on the Disclave 1991 prom party. Covert reminded all that people are not paid or reimbursed for working on a nonprofit event although some do receive an honorarium equal to a membership in Disclave 1992. In any event, any dissatisfied worker bees should speak to Peggy Rae Pavlat about their claims.

Someone whose name the Secretary did not catch is back from a place he did not name. A science fiction club that shall remain nameless went, "Yay!" at this alleged news. He said that Athelstan is recovering; he's now conscious and talking. He also announced that the Gresham family is moving (has moved) to a new house in Takoma Park. Judy Newton asked if they would like to have WSFA meetings?

Dick Lynch is selling 3 books for $2.

Terilee announced that her oral defense of her Master's thesis will take place at 8:45 a.m. 26 March. A little late to think good thoughts but you can ask Master Edwards-Hewitt if you have to bow when first meeting her.

Neil Ottenstein finished his Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics, got a house, got a new job, and had a baby daughter Rachel. The proud mother is named Laura. Tom asked what Neil was doing in his spare time.

* Clam Chowder is reuniting for a concert to benefit a needy fan. The fan was not identified at the time The WSFA Journal went to press. Susan Cohen has details.

* The Secretary declares amnesty for President Tom Schaad. When he announces in public that he's an idiot, and refuses to deny clarify it when asked, it's no fun anymore.

* What if we really are... alone?

The club unanimously adjourned at 9:51 EFT.


Special Announcements

(20 March 1992) Tom Schaad cited a report in USA Today that Tohei Studios had lost their Godzilla suit. The studio can't make their planned 19th film, Operation Desert Stomp: Godzilla versus Saddam Hu-san, without the suit.

Police officials discounted rumors that the giant of stage and screen was kidnapped by American veterans outraged by the recent disclosure that Godzilla committed atrocities against American soldiers during World War II. Studio spokesman Tofu Togo denied suggestions that Godzilla is anti-American. "In fact," he stated, "Operation Desert Stomp will show Godzilla rescuing American soldiers from a gigantic sandstorm created by monster Saddam Hu." Unofficial reports state that police are investigating the activities of Godzilla's long-time rival, King Ghidra, at the time of the disappearance.

Subsequently, 26 March The Washington Times reported:
TOKYO -- Japanese police tracked down Godzilla to his lair in a bamboo thicket outside Tokyo yesterday -- 10 days after the fire-breathing monster was reported missing from a movie studio. Police suspect fans abducted the 132 pound rubber model from the Toho Movie Company's special effects studio. They said Godzilla, known to trample whole cities when irritated, did not appear to have suffered from his ordeal.

Police officials refused to comment on rumors that an American movie star, known only as "Bambi", was found unclothed in Godzilla's lair with the Japanese legend.


by Andre Norton

Steve Smith has a useful trick of adjusting his brain to the year when a novel was written so that he can enjoy works now overcome by time. This classic is one novel that requires this treatment for full enjoyment.

By modern standards, this is a simple adventure yarn with Fors, the outcast mutant hero, venturing far from his home to explore strange new lands and prove himself worthy of his tribe's ultimate accolade. He is accompanied by a giant mutant cat, Lura, and makes several new friends while fighting the hideous Beast Things. There are several poignant moments as he encounters the ruins of civilization from before the Great Blow Up.

Pretty routine stuff, huh? Especially since there's essentially no sexual interest. Lura is half of all females with names, and the only one with any emotional depth!

However, if we remember that this tale was told in 1952, the true strength of the story emerges. In the 1950s, sex was not an important consideration for male heroes, and atomic warfare was considered not only possible but likely. "Mr. Norton" draws convincing portraits of a young man who is discovering himself as an individual for the first time, and a society haunted by atomic destruction. Bold features for the era, and worthy of rediscovery now.

By modern standards, I rate Daybreak 2250 AD as Average. Back dated to 1952, I rate it as Above Average. -- LS


by Hector Bywater

This is a book of astonishing prophetic power. However, it's not that good as SF.

This work is the Fiftieth Anniversary of Pearl Harbor reprinting of Bywater's 1925 classic. As previously shown in this space, it powerfully affected history. Measured by its impact on history, this book is Fantastic. However, as a novel, it is good, but distinctly less than Fantastic.

Bywater's imaginary war of 1931-33 has a good plot and an excellent grasp of detail. However, his thorough knowledge of the military capabilities of Japan and the United States destroys suspense. He lays things out so well that the reader quickly realizes where the imaginary history is going. The alternate historian will enjoy getting there, but not, I think, the general reader.

In addition, the characters are rather flat. We don't get inside anyone's head but watch them strike heroic poses. And, do all of the characters have to be gallant and dedicated? One starts to long for at least one Han Solo after a while, just to liven things up.

In addition, Bywater did not truly grasp the revolution in naval warfare that was going on as he wrote. Airplanes play minor roles and radar is conspicuously absent. The climax comes in a glorious battleship engagement at (comparatively) close range. Quite unlike the real World War II that he tried to prevent.

As science fiction generally, I rate The Great Pacific War as "only" Above Average. -- LS


by Kevin Randle and Daniel Schmitt

This nonfiction work proves that aliens have landed on Earth. In fact, they wrote this book.

This book alleges that an alien spacecraft, a flying disc, crashed near Roswell, NM on or about 2 July 1947; that the US Air Force confiscated all the evidence, including the bodies of 3-4 aliens; and that the Air Force is keeping the incident highly secret. The evidence that Star Wars is real is considerably better.

A comparison of this book with practically any revelation of a secret but real event such as Watergate or several aspects of World War II reveals the pathetic shortcomings of the authors. "Eyewitness accounts" and critical details are vague; no photographs show anything but the official weather balloon explanation of the time; and logical questions are left unanswered. The authors claim a massive Government cover-up but provide no explanation for why or how it was done and is (supposedly) still being done. Instead, the authors literally repeat their story three times, apparently believing that repetition will succeed where logic fails. If it's so secret, how did the authors find out about it? If the authors did, why not The Washington Post?

I firmly believe that there is "life out there". But we haven't met it yet. And we will never meet it listening to unscientific imbeciles.

I rate this UFO Crash at Roswell the lowest possible: Did a Tree Die for This? -- LS



by Barrett Tillman


by Harold Coyle

Let's slip a couple of more techno-thrillers in on the unsuspecting science fiction fans. After all we can claim that techno-fiction -- generically set slightly into the mainstream world's future -- is at least borderline SF.

Both of these novels concern warfare using basically modern weapons. Mr. Tillman invents a gadget or two, but nothing really out of line with stuff I'm not supposed to talk about. Instead, the emphasis is on the people who use the gadgets, the human/machine interaction, and the action that results. Come to think of it, that's pretty much what SF is about, as well.

Mr. Coyle is noted as the author of the previously well received Team Yankee. Here, however, he attempts too much and an inferior book results. Trial By Fire depicts a US partial occupation of Mexico intended to stop terrorist raids along the border. While the small scale action is well done, as it was in Team Yankee, the large scale stuff is rather cardboard. I find it a little hard to believe that the modern United States would invade Mexico without a lot more justification than that shown. The comparison with Pershing's Expedition of 1916-17 is instructive.

One interesting feature of Mr. Coyle's work is his depiction of a woman officer in combat. He does not address many of the real concerns about women warriors, but handles those which he does address rather well. Still, from a literary standpoint, "Lieutenant Lips" is a distraction rather than an attraction. Perhaps the next novel will address her and her sisters more fully.

By contrast, Mr. Tillman's naval air epic is much better done. He sketches out both his post-Soviet Russian invasion of South Africa and his reasons for sending the imaginary USS Langley "in harm's way" skillfully. Once there, the action never lets up. I found myself cheering when the bad guys got beaten up and sad when they returned the favor. Yet the heroes are less the individuals than the man/machine team that they form.

If Mr. Tillman has a fault, it's that he presents too much. It seems like every single officer in "Battle Group Chuck" was presented as an individual, even if his contribution was minor. The same is true of the multitude of weapons systems. Both are masked by nicknames and numbers galore. Information overload awaits the unwary!

Still, it works, and works well. The author has a way of slipping new information into the story that forces the reader to reassess previous ideas. Again, rather science fictional in style if not theme. Anyone who thought that Ron Reagan was a cowboy should see President Callaway's idea of diplomacy!

Both Coyle and Tillman use some of the same techniques, the latter more skillfully. Where Coyle gets lost in the overall scenario, Tillman handles events large and small equally well.

Measuring these techno-thrillers as science fiction, I rate The Sixth Battle as Above Average, and Trial By Fire as Below Average. -- LS


Towards the Future

Anyone afraid that the Japanese are about to take over the world should watch this show, and relax. All we have to do is dress up in Godzilla suits to scare the pants off them.

Actually, this obscure Saturday morning television show is an Australian remake of a Japanese superhero series. In this version, the hero is a Asian-Australian working for a small paramilitary organization which investigates alien contacts. Fortunately for them, alien contacts occur about once a week, at least according to the South Australia Film Commission. And you wondered why NASA built a huge spacetrack facility in South Australia!

When aliens land, they are almost always gigantic in size and proceed to knock over a few buildings before the paramilitary force arrives. The hostile aliens are even worse. The heroes fire a few volleys of baloneyic rays and the gigantic alien(s) knock over a few more buildings. Insurance rates in South Australia must be literally astronomical.

Fortunately, the Asian-Aussie hero, Jack, slips away, activates his magic medallion, and transforms into (you guessed it!) Ultraman. Exactly what Ultraman is somewhat unclear. He/It appears to be a robot but might be a guardian spirit of some sort. He usually dukes it out with the alien using American style fisticuffs. However, this is a Japanese hero so he karate chops those aliens with heads or convenient tentacles.

When really pressed, Ultraman fires off a volley of super-baloneyic rays which occasionally impress the monster if not the audience.

Since most of the aliens are larger than houses --what is this fascination that Japanese have for gargantuan monsters?--, our hero fortunately possesses the ability to become a giant himself. (In the original movie, Ultra was a robot who "re-programmed himself" to deal with a particular giant. Dr. Frankenstein, call your office, now! ) However, "because of Earth's polluted atmosphere, Ultraman can only retain his giant form for three minutes. Time is running out". Not only is this a serious limitation in dealing with gigantic aliens, but these exact words are repeated in EVERY episode, which gives you some idea of the quality of the writing.

On the positive side, this is a strongly pro-ecological show but rather clumsily so. Subtlety may not be required but crude propagandizing detracts from the entertainment. Better done is the treatment of the other characters including two strong females. The half hour length and focus on oversized martial arts does not allow for much character development but some does shine through. The Designated Nerd's bland reaction to the news that his girlfriend is an alien was priceless.

Despite its occasional strong points, this is an inferior show. The plots are hackneyed and repetitious, and the positive messages are submerged in preachy and stereotypical treatments. Set your brain on Low before watching this dim light from the rising sun. I rate Ultraman: Towards the Future as Inferior science fiction. -- LS


by Melissa Snodgrass

I want everyone in the club to go up to Matt Leger and, say, "Matt, I would really enjoy reading your review of the Wild Cards universe." That way, we can find out a whole lot more about a fascinating alternate history series from WSFA's expert on the subject.

In brief, the Wild Cards world resulted from a partially successful alien attack on Earth in 1946. A designer virus, commonly known as the Wild Card killed many, twisted some into jokers, and bestowed superpowers on a fortunate few aces. In this novel, several aces and the alien inventor of the Wild Card returns to his/her homeworld, Takis, in an effort to undue some of the consequences.

The "consequence" is that genetic engineer Dr. Tachyon's fairy/macho masculine mind has been involuntarily "jumped" into a female body. "He" is not only a "she" but pregnant as a result of rape, and really disempowered by "his" culture. See how the other half lives, and then some! And to make matters worse, Dr. Tachyon's communist-anarchist grandson Blaise is also on Takis, trying to foment a Napoleonic revolution using his super mind blast power and Bartlett's Quotations. And -- just for good measure --, throw in a pack of rapacious alien super-capitalists called the Network and the intramural feuding on Takis itself! A complex stew but a tasty one.

I found this to be a very enjoyable book. Ms. Snodgrass has sketched out a detailed and believable but alien human culture. (The Takisians are essentially identical to Earth humans, and there are hints that both planets were colonized from some unrevealed superhomeworld.) At first glance, this appears to be a simple harem fantasy, but the truth is much more subtle. Takisian "harems" are quite different from Earth's, and the interplay of cultural forces is little short of splendid.

I particularly enjoyed the author's depiction of Tachyon as "he" discovers the ramifications and joys of femininity. This growing experience is well handled, moving, and augers much for the future development of both the character and his/her planet.

Unfortunately, this book has a few flaws. Like many series books, this one "starts in the middle", leaving the reader scrambling to catch up. The mind jump and rape that set up this story are portrayed in a previous novel, and not well recapitulated. Regular readers of the series will have little trouble, but newcomers might wonder at the significance of important characters who are dropped after the first few chapters. This might sell books but seems unfair to the reader.

I also doubt the power attributed to Blaise's rabble rousing. A review of Earthly revolutions should demonstrate that even an oppressed underclass is seldom of one mind on the desirability of change.

And, yes, one of Network aliens is named Nesfa. I looked for a brother/sister/clone named Wisfa, but this in-joke seems to have eluded the author. Perhaps it's just as well, as the sex scene quickly reveals.

I rate Double Solitaire as Superior. -- LS