The WSFA Journal, May 1992

The WSFA Journal



May, 1992

ISSN 0894-5411

Night Falls for the Good Doctor


Doctor Isaac Asimov Comes to "The End of Eternity" ....... Page 2
Steve Smith Becomes Another Tom Schaad ................... Page 3
Publications Committee Recommends A Separate Book Fund ... Page 6

Science and Fiction

Edge of Universe Found? .................................. Page 9
From Here to Infinity on Sci-Fi TV ...................... Page 10


The Good Doctor is Dead at 72

Isaac Asimov, Doctor of Biochemistry, and the worlds' most prolific author of science fiction and popular science, died 6 April 1992.

Born approximately 1920 in the then Soviet Union, the young Asimov emigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 3. The habit of hard work nurtured in the Depression stayed with him throughout his life. Until accumulating illnesses forced him to give up his work, the author regularly wrote for 10 hours a day 6-7 days a week. When asked what he would do if he only had six months to live, he replied, "Type faster."

Most fans consider the Foundation series to be Asimov's greatest work. Beginning as a simple story idea whipped up while riding a New York City subway to meet a deadline for John W. Campbell, the Foundation novels become an epic tale focusing on the ability of rational humans to shape their own future. Asimov extrapolated the imaginary science of psychohistory from contemporary insurance actuarial tables. The first three novels, known as the Foundation Trilogy, were completed in the 1950s.

After a twenty year pause, Dr. Asimov took the occasion of his Disclave Guest of Honor speech to announce that he was resuming writing in the Foundation universe. Subsequently, he tied other fiction, including the Robot Novels, A Pebble in the Sky, and The End of Eternity, into a super-universe with over one million words in print.

Asimov's short story, Nightfall, is considered by many to be his finest single work, and was voted to be the Best Science Fiction Short Story of All Time. This story is unrelated to any other work, and depicts life on a planet on which the light of six suns masks sight of the stars except for once every 3600 years. Nightfall was recently reissued as a hardback book.

Asimov's most distinctive contribution to science fiction was the re-creation of the robot as a scientific tool rather than as a Frankenstein monster. Prior to Asimov, most robot stories repeated a standard plot in which the robot revolted against human control and murdered a human, usually its insane creator. By contrast, Asimov depicted robots as logical engineering creations with intelligent safeguards against misuse. Conflicts arose from the interaction of robot programming, known as the Three Laws of Robotics, and unexpected situations, or human lack of understanding of their humanoid tools. Asimov began his robot stories before computers or computer programming were widely known, but he correctly anticipated many of the problems encountered by real software writers and users. His later stories incorporated a deep concern for ecology and demonstrated how intelligent machines could assist humanity with ecological management.

While Dr. Asimov preferred solitude for his work, he was a jovial individual who shared a great love of life with people who knew him, fans or not. As the science fiction author best known to mundanes, he regularly described SF as a joyful experience whose readers happened to be of superior intelligence.

He will be missed.


"Boy! Won't Marianne Be Surprised!"


Welllll, Most of the Time

The regular First Friday in April meeting convened at 9:22 in Chez Gilliland. Vice President Steve Smith presided in the absence of President Tom Schaad. Handmaiden Lee Uba presented the gavel to Steve, but he chose to open the meeting by opening a can of Milwaukee's Best bheer. "It's messier pounding a bheer can than a gavel, but definitely tastier," proclaimed Steve. (Also, it's now traditional!)

Treasurer Bob MacIntosh reported that the club has $4077.95 on hand. "The 4077th Treasury unit?" questioned Steve. "It just worked out that way," replied Bob. A suggestion to have a party failed for lack of a second.

Secretary Lee Strong presented the April issue of The WSFA Journal. Eva Whitley corrected the issue: a demonstration of flyer folding on the First Friday in March set Steve (September) Chalker crying. David Chalker was a young gentleman. (Okay! Okay! Now let go of my arm!)

Chairfan Lance Oszko of the Fine Arts Committee reported that he has a program book from the Delaware Art Museum, which recently displayed science fiction art. He also has slides from Tom Kidd and Kelly Freas. Lance further stated that the committee neither has a bank account nor a post office.

Chairfan Alexis Gilliland announced that the Entertainment Committee was proud to present H. Ro$$ Perot! The club cheered this presentation. However, the cheer started Steve Chalker crying again. David Chalker remained a young gentleman.

Eva Whitley asked whatever happened to the Committee to Discuss Science Fiction? It moved west several months ago. Someone suggested forming an affiliate Denver Science Fiction Association. Steve Smith suggested that anyone wishing to discuss science fiction should just congregate with Eva after the business meeting.

Steve Smith then asked if there was any news from Disclave Past. Covert Beach, brain dead from too much disclaving, spoke a few words before a chorus of "Past??" went up. Nice try.

Steve then asked for Disclave Present. Vice Chairfan Covert Beach reported that Michael Walsh, absentee Chairfan, would not be here tonight. The book is at the printer. It will ship on 1 May 92. It is a truly beautiful looking book.

Disclave 1992 has 365 preregistered, about the same as 1990.

Pat Cadigan has quit smoking.

Disclave Future Chairfan Covert Beach reported that life has been slow for Disclave 1993. He shipped a copy of Peggy Rae's book to the GOH so she can gather material. However, Marilyn Quayle has not answered yet.

Covert displayed the Disclave Future advance flyer. The club went, "Oh! Ahhhhhhhhhh! Ah! Ah!" There was a coyote howl of delight. The club asked for cigarettes.

However, one sharp eyed fan noted that the flyer stated Disclave 1993 would not be on Memorial Day. Oops! Joe Mayhew liked the sword in the cookie logo, tho.

Trustees Dan Hoey and Mike Zipser invited people to submit to them. They are looking for candidates for office, including trustees. Joe noted that trustees had to have the approval of their Parole Board.

Under Old Business, Dan Burgess noted that the next Third Friday meeting would be at Balticon. Is Dan catering? No, Captain Morgan will be. Just follow the trail of drunken pirates.

The Third Friday in May will be the last WSFA meeting at the Mew of the Pink Pigasus. Jack Chalker volunteered to host WSFA meetings at the Chalker-Whitley estate. David Chalker will be a young gentleman.

Jack also suggested some New Business. He notes that book collectors go ga-ga over minor changes in print runs and pay handsomely for complete sets. Therefore, Jack suggested that we deliberately print a special WSFA Edition of all WSFA Press books so that book collectors would pay twice for essentially the same work.

Joe moved to amend Jack's idea by requiring that the WSFA Edition be proofread. He noted that all Persian carpets allegedly have 2 flaws in them. The carpetmaker leaves one in deliberately since only Allah is perfect, and he makes the other one anyway. Erica Van Dommelen is a pro proofreader.

When it came time for the New Tradition, Steve forgot. People cheered. Voices rose proclaiming Steve to be a New Tom Schaad. Erica noted, "Boy, won't Marianne be surprised!" The WSFA Journal notes that forgetting the First New Tradition is itself traditional, so Steve at least upheld one tradition.

When the club got finished playing with Steve's mind, the Vice President called for anyone attending their first, second, or third WSFA meetings. None were. Is there a connection?


The Vice President called upon the Secretary who answered, "Yes, Mr. Quayle?" The club went, "Ouuuuuuuuh!" Hey! All Vice Presidents look alike to me!

Anyway, the Secretary cleared his throat and mumbled the usual stuff that no one pays any attention to anyway. He also announced a meeting of the expanded Publications Committee following the regular meeting.

* After a short debate, the Publications Committee approved the draft changes to WSFA policy and By-Laws intended to create a WSFA Press Book Fund. Minor changes were made to improve style before approval.

* The Publications Committee will officially present the proposed changes to the club at the First Friday meeting in May. In accordance with our By-Laws, the changes will automatically be placed on the table for possible approval at a following meeting. The proposed changes may be discussed by the club at any meeting prior to voting on them.

Erica announced that a certain cat has been sitting outside her sliding glass door all winter looking at the warm cats inside. After some debate by the minority humans, he was allowed to join the household and camp in the bathroom. However, he was then the target of the Ultimate April Fool's joke. He went on a little ride to the vet.... Joe asked How it was?

"Oh, pretty good," answered Ericat. It also got a shave and now resembles a mythic creature. "What creature," she asked, "has the head of a lion and the body of a rat?" "Bill Clinton," answered Dan Burgess. The club broke into laughter at this political insight. Anyway, the official name (of the rat cat) will be announced later.

* The lion-rat description also sounds a lot like Bil the Cat. Come to think of it, Bil lost his job at Bloom County fairly recently. Well, now we know what happens to old cartoon characters!

Matt Leger announced that fans of comics and Kelly Freas can pick up DC Comics Star Trek which has a Freas cover.

Elspeth Kovar said, "Well done, Steve."

She also gave an Athelstan Update: he is awake now. When a singing group rehearsed in his room, he remembered the harmony. It takes a long time for him to form new thoughts, and he can't remember whether he is right or left handed. This upsets him. He is in rehabilitation 5-6 hours each day. It is debatable whether he recognizes people.

Terilee Edwards-Hewitt injured her other foot. Unfortunately, the two limps do not cancel out.

She successfully defended her thesis. The club went Yay! at this masterful performance. She has a graduation announcement from the American University. Another Yay! Yes, we can call her Master. A huge party will follow. {For a huge party, I'll call her Mona Lisa!}

Crystal Hagel stated that Gilbert & Silicon will be at "the" con.

David Chalker, a young gentleman about WSFA, announced that his school is having a read-a-thon to buy books for a homeless shelter in Carroll Country. If the 'thon is successful, his principal will dress like Elvis & sing during the lunch period. Help support this worthy cause!

Mike Zipser announced that he does NOT have the schedule for Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Tom Veal announced that Hugo nominating ballots could still be squeezed in. 14 April 15 was the drop dead date. Crank your time machines up now!

Robyn Rissell announced that he has been talking to people named John Pomeranz and Kathi Overton. The latter will attend Balticon. Who are these people?

Michael Nelson works for the Bureau of Printing & Engraving, and he has a solution to the Elvis stamp dilemma. The young Elvis will be used for first class while the old Elvis will be used for bulk.

* Michael Nelson may now be reached at [censored], Fairfax, VA 22031-1136; home telephone (703) 591-2540; work telephone (202) 874-3093.

Alexis moved that we adjourn. Steve stated, "All in favor, say 'Something or other'." People did so. Steve then stated, "All opposed, say 'Something else'." Since no one said "Something else", the club unanimously adjourned at 9:49. David Chalker was a young gentleman.


The WSFA Journal is the official newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA), Inc. Copyright us, 1992.


President ................ Tom Schaad I
Vice President ........... Tom Schaad II
Treasurer ................ Bob MacIntosh
Secretary ................ Lee Strong
A Young Gentleman ...
        ...David Chalker
Person Standing Behind the
Secretary with a Loaded Gun ...
        ...Eva Whitley

Report of the WSFA Publications Committee

Approved for presentation to the membership of WSFA by the Publications Committee, First Friday in April, 3 April 1992.

The Publications Committee recommends:

That WSFA have a formal policy of publishing a book each year in conjunction with Disclave; but that this policy will be adjusted as required by changing circumstances.

That all WSFA publications be produced by standing subcommittees of the Publications Committee; and that one of these subcommittees be WSFA Press.

That WSFA Press be funded separately from the general expenses of the club; and that WSFA Press meet a goal of being financially self-supporting in the near future.

The Publications Committee proposes the following changes to the By-Laws:

Add new paragraph III.C.3. "Exercise general supervision over the publications and literary activities of WSFA."

Amend III.D.1. to read "Receive all WSFA funds and maintain them in one or more accounts separate from his personal finances."

Amend III.D.3. to read "Pay out funds only as approved by the Board or membership by vote."


Amend IV.C. to read

"1. It is appropriate for WSFA to sponsor publications serving its needs and interests. All WSFA publications shall be under the jurisdiction of the Publications Committee, which may establish rules and guidelines to govern their publication. WSFA, Inc. will retain all copyrights and other legal benefits of its publication, but such benefits may be assigned to authors and other persons when assignment is in the interest of WSFA.

2. The Publications Committee shall consist of the Secretary, the Chairman of Disclave Past, the Chairman of Disclave Present, the Chairman of Disclave Future, and up to three additional members appointed by the President. All members shall be voting members except that the Chairman of a Disclave shall not vote on approval of a budget or publication plan for a book to be published in conjunction with his Disclave. The Publications Committee shall establish publication polices, approve publication budgets, and approve material proposed for publication as required.

3. Each separate publication shall be produced by a standing subcommittee of the Publications Committee. Except as noted below, each subcommittee shall be chaired by a club officer appointed by the Secretary and approved by the Publications Committee. Each subcommittee shall submit a budget, and, if requested, a publication plan for its publication for approval by the Publications Committee prior to expenditure of funds or publication. All subcommittee members may be removed from office by the Secretary, the Publications Committee, the Board, or the membership by vote.

4. The WSFA Journal shall be the monthly journal of record for WSFA. It will publish minutes of business and committee meetings, club records and information, and other information of interest to the club. The Editor of The WSFA Journal shall submit material specifically critical of individual club members and associates to the Publications Committee for review prior to publication.

5. WSFA Press shall publish books and similar publications for WSFA. The WSFA Press Production Manager shall be appointed by the Chairman of Disclave Present, subject to the approval of the Publications Committee. His term of office shall continue until a new Production Manager is approved. WSFA Press shall submit a budget, and, if requested, a publication plan, for all books and materials proposed for publication. Monies will not be expended until the Publications Committee has approved the budget and plan.

6. WSFA may publish an official club history from time to time. The WSFA Historian shall supervise production of the club history, including supplements.

7. WSFA shall maintain an official WSFA Archive of materials of interest to the club. The WSFA Archivist shall supervise the collection, maintenance and disposition of all official archival materials."


Add new article on club finances


A. All monies collected by WSFA shall be dedicated to club purposes and projects, and shall be maintained separately from the personal finances of any club member. Payments and expenditures will be made by the Treasurer in accordance with the instructions of the Board or the membership by vote. Financial records of WSFA shall be maintained in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, and shall be open to all paid Charter members.



by David Alan Cola

A NASA satellite had detected edge of the universe as it was near the beginning of time, scientists announced.

The discovery of fluctuations in the background radiation from the early universe helps explains the formation of galaxies and lends support to the Big Bang theory, which says the universe was formed in the aftermath of a gigantic explosion.

"It's one of the major discoveries of the century," said physicist Joel Primack of the University of California at Santa Cruz. "In fact, it's one of the major discoveries of science."

Michael Turner, a University of Chicago physicist, called the discovery "unbelievably important" and said: "The significance of this cannot be overstated. They have found the Holy Grail of cosmology."

In the Big Bang theory, all matter was condensed into a single, compact state known as "singularity". Once the explosion occurred, the matter expanded uniformly. After a short period of time, universally speaking, the temperature of the matter at the edge of the explosion began to clump as it cooled, creating galaxies and clusters of galaxies.

Astrophysicists say temperature fluctuations of only 30 millionths of a degree and dating from only 300,000 after the birth of the universe some 15 billion years ago led to clumping of matter. The fluctuations were discovered using NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer satellite -- COBE for short -- launched in November 1989 from Vandenberg AFB, California and managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD.

What scientists are seeing on the 14,700,000 year old matter was imprinted one-billionth of a second after the explosion, John Mather, chief scientist of NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer spacecraft, said.

"We've been looking for these bumps in the sky for 25 years," said Princeton physicist David Wilkinson, one of the six original team members who proposed the COBE experiment.

The smallest temperature ripples stretch across 500 million light-years of space, said George F. Smoot, a research physicist at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and the Space Sciences Laboratory of the University of California at Berkeley. Until now, the largest known structure in the universe was the "Great Wall", an arc of galaxies about 200 million light-years long.

The discovery of the faint temperature rippling confirms the Big Bang theory and the whole story of inflation. The Big Bang theory was initially proposed because it explains why galaxies are receding from us at enormous speeds. Cosmologists hypothesize that there was an event in the early universe called "inflation" during which the universe expanded by a large amount. Current cosmological theories also predict the existence of dark matter, Mr. Mather said.

"The early universe really is smooth -- it only has incredibly faint fluctuations in it," he said. "It's only as time passes that it's broken up into things. The amount of gravity provided by these fluctuations was inadequate to draw together galaxies and clusters of galaxies," NASA officials said. "Instead, astronomers conclude that the galaxies formed only because most of the material in the universe is invisible and totally unlike ordinary matter."

The COBE data suggest that "90 percent of stuff in the universe is invisible," Mr. Mather said. "We don't know its properties are. It's unlike anything that we now know about. It may never by visible. It doesn't emit light."

If the discovery of the early universe ripples was the finding of the Holy Grail, then the next quest may be to discover the dark matter and its nature, Mr. Mather said. "People are looking for it as we speak."

But Mr. Wilkinson took a more cautious stance amid yesterday's euphoria. "I'm not sure we're seeing the edge of the universe. The data fit the standard model, but there's a lot of interpretation to do yet." He wouldn't be surprised if 2 or 3 theories pop up as a result of the new discoveries. It takes a while to verify data and draw conclusions, he said.

Beyond the edge of the known universe probably lies "more universe," Mr. Wilkinson said, "but the speed of light hasn't let us see out there yet. With every tick of the clock we see farther out. The concept of 'the edge of the universe' is misleading. The term we use is 'horizon'.

"Perhaps there is no edge."


by Scott Williams

Dr. Who, Luke Skywalker and Capt. James T. Kirk will roam the stars on the Sci-Fi Channel, a 24-hour cable TV service starting this fall and devoted to science fiction, horror and fantasy.

The Sci-Fi Channel will offer a mix of movies, "classic" TV series and animation aimed at 12- to 34-year-olds as well as hardcore fans of other ages, says Kay Koplovitz, president of cable's USA Network. "I hope we will be able to meet the expectations of these fans...."

USA Network, a basic cable service in 58 million households nationwide, expects the new channel will have 10 million households in more than 100 affiliate systems for its fall start. The Sci-Fi Channel will make its debut with a prime time presentation of "Star Wars". It also will feature the "Star Trek" movies, all 1225 episodes of "Dark Shadows" and "Dr. Who".

The channel began in 1989 in Boca Raton, FL under lawyer Mitchell Ruben and partner Laurie S. Silver, who are vice chairs under their new corporate parent. The team had signed 60 percent of the top 100 cable system companies and announced an expected 1990 launch date, but the independent venture never took off. "It's just that they didn't have the resources available..., meaning capital," a USA Network spokesbeing said.

Ms. Koplovitz says USA Network has been looking for a compatible specialty network.

"Science fiction fans are young, 12 to 34 years old, and well educated," she said. "Consider that 11 of the 12 top grossing films of all time are in the science fiction, fantasy and horror categories and you get a sense of the potential."

Max Headroom could not be reached for comments.