The WSFA Journal, August 1992

The WSFA Journal



August, 1992

ISSN 0894-5411

Covert Beach, Disclave Chairfan For Life ???


Joe Mayhew Recovering; WSFA Approves Book Policy ........ Page 2
Sturdy Woman Dominates Debate ........................... Page 7

Special Feature: Making a Constitution

Proposed New Language, by Steve Smith and Lee Strong ... Page 10


A League of Their Own .................................. Page 14
Cool World, by Ralph Bakshi ............................ Page 14
Fatherland, by Robert Harris ........................... Page 15
Martian Rainbow, by Robert L. Forward .................. Page 15
Universal Soldier ...................................... Page 16
Honey, I Blew Up the Kid ............................... Page 17
Mom and Dad Save the World ............................. Page 17


A Wealth of Fable, by Harry Warner, Jr. ................ Page 18


WSFA Press is Official;

"Now For The Details", Says Secretary


Angioplasty Unplugs Blockages


The First Friday in July meeting convened at roughly 9:27, 6 July 1992. President Steve Smith surveyed the Chez Gilliland Conference Room & opined, "Well, we're as ready as we'll ever be." He then opened the meeting with the now traditional bhottle of bheer.

Secretary Lee Strong made less sense than usual, but apparently had some minutes of the previous meeting. Said meeting was waived and seconded. Parliamentary procedure in WSFA is a strange and wonderful thing.

Lee Uba noted that the presidential chair had been stocked beforehand. Steve noted that he had a gavel, a copy of Robert's Rules of Order (Revised), and a knife. The audience chuckled at these parliamentary basics. {No copy of the Rufus T. Firefly Manual of Parliamentary Procedure?}

Treasurer Robert MacIntosh reported $1802.06 in el banco. Someone called for a party. Someone else noted that we were having one the next day. Someone else suggested we have a bake sale to raise money. Someone else else else else suggested we apply for Federal aid.

Chairfan of the Entertainment Committee Alexis Gilliland introduced Lee Uba, goodies coordinator for the picnic. Lee stated that she has some problems. <No news there.> Please see Lee for unfilled jobs. You should know yourself, Socratically if not Biblically.

Disclave Past Chairfan Mike Walsh reported that he had been out of town a lot. Alexis noted that that wasn't very entertaining, either. Mike then deferred to Vice Chairfan Covert Beach.

Covert reported that NESFA had defied its own financial history and actually forwarded the money from its charge card in less than a full eternity. He then presented Robert with a check for $3610, repaying the bridge loan for printing costs. [See the July issue of The WSFA Journal.] This development was greeted with applause and a call for a bigger party. Covert asked that department heads submit honoraria lists so that the Con Committee can make value judgments on the nominees. Mike said the comments on the con were favorable. People were hoping for free parking. "Picky, picky," declaimed Covert. A New Englander brought 2 packages of Moxie. This produced a suggestion that we move Disclave to New England.

Mike then brought up "el booko" but that was referred to Old Business.

Covert Beach, Chairfan of Disclave Present, and Tom Veal, generally nice guy, looked at the Fairview Marriott. It's tight but doable. We may have to put the con suite in an actual suite, contrary to WSFA tradition. We might put the dance out on the terrace under the stars. Actually, under a tent. Floorplan material is available. The site has a 1200 slot parking garage plus more slots in the open. There was a Disclave meeting after the meeting.

Fine Arts Chairfan Lance Oszko got the slides from David Cherry.

Old Business

Mike Walsh had wandered off so Covert hollered, "Walsh, get down here!" He did. Steve asked, "So, how about the book?"

Mike said the figures (reproduced on page 4) were about two weeks old. We have since sold 21 more books at Disclave.

One hundred plus books were defective and were returned to the publisher. This bill has not been paid. We're trying to weasel our way up to Worldcon when we should break even. Income is incoming. There will be a 1/2 page ad in Fantasy & Science Fiction on Pat Cadigan, which will build sales. About 200 books (1/2 the print run) are gone.

A typo was discovered. If you discover it, you get a no-prize, as they say in Marvel Comics.

Dick Roepke asked if the dealer took the books on consignment? Yes. Mike will loom over the debtors at Worldcon.

The Shepherd book is out of print. There are about 300 copies of the Shiner book left and about 20-50 Resnicks left.

A Science Fiction Eye mailing list generated about an 8% return, which is darn good in this business. By comparison, the article in The Washington Post generated zippo return. {The Eye has a better class of readers, obviously.}

Robyn Rissell asked if anything was owed? Mike answered Thomson-Shore and the printer. We are weaseling our way around this.

Steve said that Mike/WSFA Press should give the Publications Committee a breakdown on costs for future reference. Mike and Robert will work something out.

Publications Committee Chairfan Lee Strong then brought up the proposed publications changes. He noted that the parts could be discussed and adopted/rejected separately. In addition, we could discuss something for while, return it to the table, and retrieve it later at our convenience. Steve noted that this would be a good idea for avoiding one massive session which would exhaust everyone.

The club then approved the general publications policy 14-0-0. Please see the last issue of the Journal for the text. The policy is not a part of the club By-Laws, but is binding on the Publications Committee and WSFA Press.

Lee addressed the substance of the proposed changes to the By-Laws. He stated that several changes suggested by Steve Smith were good ideas. It was suggested that the Publications Committee prepare digested written copies of the proposed language so that people would not have to coordinate too much material at a time. Lee agreed that this would be both logical and desirable. The club then voted 15-0-1 to return the proposed changes to the table pending receipt of the proposed new language.

New Business

New Tradition

Lee Uba said, "The New Tradition," in a whiny, little voice. Steve called for first time visitors to WSFA. Terilee Edwards-Hewitt appeared to calls of "Ringer! Ringer!" Rachel Russell then introduced first timer Eric Buker. "Be nice to him," said Rachel. "Hi!" shouted the club.

* After the meeting, Eric stated that he works in a copying center, where he reproduces as much as 30,000 times a night. I'm impressed.

Appearing for his second time was George Nelson, son of Mike Nelson.

Steve then asked if anyone were so insane as to appear for their third time? None were; we scared them all off. Bob Oliver then appeared to say that this was his first time in a while. {Doesn't count, Bob.}


Secretary Lee Strong announced that his brain was not functioning tonight. <No news there.> He then went on to announce that those who wished their announcement(s) to appear as they wished rather than as the Secretary may record and print them should submit the announcement to the Secretary in writing following the meeting.

{One of the most fascinating things about The WSFA Journal is the stuff that we don't print!}

The Other Lee announced that Alexis was having a signing party at Springfield Waldenbooks, 15 August, 2-5 p.m.

Mike Walsh announced things for sale. Dispatches From The Revolution is up for a Hugo. The WSFA Press book The Edges of Things is up for Readercon Awards for best collection and best cover. Just by an incredible coincidence, Mike is one of the Readercon judges. Recent SF nonfiction included Science Fantasy Publishers by Jack Chalker and Mark Owings.

Bob Oliver, former Treasurer of WSFA for many years, was unable to attend Disclave '92 because he was sent to Survival School. Apparently, he needed to go since he has been going to Escape & Evasion for 25 years and he still couldn't manage to escape from school!

Bob Oliver noted that Tom Schaad and he were recently identified as brothers. Tom appeared and the resemblance was rather striking.

Just in passing, Bob also announced that he got married on 7 May 1992. Erica Van Dommelen asked, "Anyone you know?" Someone who we won't identify muttered, "Biblically?" Bob replied that they went to Germany and drank bheer for two weeks. {Well, that answers the Biblical question.} Lee Strong asked the lady for her name. She replied, "Oliver." Upon further urging, Mrs. Oliver allowed that she was previously Linda Ballard.

Matt Leger stated he would demonstrate the importance of the Secretary's announcement about announcements being in writing. At the Third Friday in June meeting, he mentioned the book Alternate Kennedies; he did not review it as stated in the July WSFA Journal. At that time, he had just read one story in the book and was mentioning it because of its fannish interest. Second, Chiclet Forest is a character, not an actor. Chiclet is played by actor and Helen Hayes nominee Daniel Escobar. Lee Strong, head reporter for this rag journal of record, stood up and stated that he stood corrected.

Tom Schaad announced that Joe Mayhew had left the hospital and was staying at his brother Bill's house. Bill's wife Darrin is a qualified nurse. Joe had an angioplasty operation and is now on anti-cholesterol and blood thinning medication.

An angioplasty operation requires the insertion of a balloon into the artery in order to break up blockages. Joe had 2 blockages, both now gone.

A large part of Joe's behavior over the last year is related to his blood flow, which resembled a sine wave function over time. He has survived and is recuperating.

Terilee Edwards-Hewitt announced that the Hewitt House heater died and flooded the household. Mike asked if any books died? Terilee asked if there were any liquid carpet cleaners available? Erica answered that Hechinger's had plenty. WSFA: the place you go for answers to life's problems!

Terilee is now on GEnie. She is jacked into every net in existence.

Intercon -- formerly Silicon -- will be at the Marriott Hunt Valley Inn, 12-14 March.

Evan Phillips had 2 tickets for the Star Trek exhibition for free. Dick Roepke was asked to give them away inconspicuously, so he hung them on the dart target above the Presidential chair.

Darts: the choice of all the great assassins.

Martin Wooster announced that a book that he edited, Hill Rat, was on The Washington Post best seller list for two weeks. Congratulations to Martin for editing a Washington Post best seller!

Lance Oszko took a Pole to BISFIS. Lance did not say if he brought the Pole back from BISFIS. Lance is also selling Captain Morgan mugs for $6 and raffle tickets for $2. The winning raffle ticket will get a Captain Morgan tray.

Erica tried to say something important to WSFA but was drowned out by WSFAns. Steve hollered, "Yo!" and restored what passes for order around here. Erica then gave a progress report on the progress of the projected Ginter/Van Dommelen house. The deal is entering the final phase. Everyone please think nice thoughts about agreements and coming to closure. Certain negotiating style differences between Carl (Irresistible Force) Ginter and Mr. (Immovable Object) Schaft are threatening our possible Third Friday home.

The current Third Friday will be at Paula's Place, home of Paula Lewis and John Peacock. Naomi Ronis has Magicon memberships for sale. No asking price.

Paula Lewis will be running part of the Friends of the Arlington Country Public Library bulletin board. She will referee the S*F* conference.

Matt Leger specified that you need a computer, modem and telecommunications equipment to link up with an electronic bulletin board. Some people don't know this. Some Darkoverians claim their crystal balls will link up with electronic bulletin boards.

Perhaps the biggest Star Trek con ever, Shore Leave, will be at the Marriott Hunt Valley Inn. Mark Lenard and Majel Barrett will appear. Mark negotiated a role as Sarek but Majel is still Number One with me.

Covert Beach has two friends selling Magicon tickets at $50 each. Call Covert and see what you get.

* [Inserted] Suzie Koon is looking for a roommate "either/or". The price range is $200-$400 in the Maryland, District or Virginia area. She would prefer a WSFA member. Please telephone (216) 794-2426, or write to her at P.O. Box 296, Lakemore, OH 44250. Her current address is P.O. Box 441124, Fort Washington, MD 20744. She will be out of town at least until you read this offer.

There was a move to close the meeting, which Steve noted is not the same as moving to adjourn. Erica moved that the motion to close the meeting be considered a motion to adjourn. This was adopted and the meeting was unanimously closed at 10:21. Parliamentary procedure at WSFA is a strange and wonderful thing. <Strange, anyway.>



Outstanding Debt:
Thomson-Shore:             5,024.42
Michael Walsh:               924.49

TOTAL OWED: 5,948.91


Checks as of 6/19/92: 511.42 Money due to us *Dreamhaven: 1,400.00 *Zeising: 1,400.00 *Dust Jacket: 150.00 *Midwest Lib Serv: 40.00 *Baker & Taylor: 230.00 *Stars My Destination: 175.00 *Olsson's: 180.00 *Arkadian Books: 175.00 Sub Total: 4,261.42

*Disclave Sales: Unknown

Thomson-Shore: 5,024.42 Income: 4,261.42 Deficit: -763.00


Sold/HOME BY THE SEA: 217 books Billed: 10 TOTAL "SOLD": 227

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


President ........... Steve Smith
Vice President ...
    ...Terilee Edwards-Hewitt
Secretary ............ Lee Strong
Treasurer ...... Robert MacIntosh


A Presidential Contest
We'd Like to See:

Democratic Candidates:

Republican Candidates:


What We've Got:

Meadow Party
Bill the Cat
Opus T. Penguin

Mellow Party
Garfield T. Cat
Opie T. Dog



Twenty Minutes on Article 1




The Third Friday business meeting convened at 9:23 p.m., 17 July 1992 in the Lewis & Peacock Convention Center. "Let's have a meeting," declaimed President Steve Smith. "Everybody's waiting for one." So saying, he banged the gavhel and opened the bhottle.

Secretary Lee Strong opened his mouth and darkness fell. <No news there.> Steve declared that this was the Dark Side of WSFA. <More like the Dark Side of the Farce.> However, the Light Switch of WSFA prevailed over the Dark Side, and insanity was restored. In the confusion, the Secretary escaped without reading the minutes of the last meeting.

The President noted a distinct shortage of Treasurer. Apparently; he has gone to Brazil. {The movie or the country? It makes a difference.}

Alexis Gilliland, Chairfan of the Entertainment Committee, said that nothing was entertaining. We had the Democratic Convention and the Ross Perot Withdrawal and they weren't very entertaining. Even the WSFA Fourth of July Picnic lacked a softball game. The President instructed the Secretary to invent a softball game. I humbly accept this challenge for the next issue.

Lance Oszko, Chairfan of the Fine Arts Committee, claimed to have been funraising. Upon questioning, he admitted that he had been dogging it.

Covert Beach, Vice Chairfan of Disclave Past, claimed, "No news is good news." The con got the money from NESFA in record time and repaid the bridge loan to the club. Did the soda money arrive alive? Not yet, no jive.

Covert Beach, Chairfan of Disclave Present, looked at the Fairview Marriott. "Forget it," he said. A wedding party had the right of first refusal and they put up rather than shut up. "Could we break up the wedding?" asked Tom Veal. The WSFA Journal hereby retracts our previous characterization of Tom as a generally nice guy [see page 2].

The McLean Hilton has several disadvantages. The Art Show might have to be multi-room rather than single room. There will be a soccer tournament in there in '94, but we could be in there in '93.

The Washington Hilton would be glad to have us if they're empty. However, they're unlikely to be empty as their function booker is apparently the best booker in the business.

Covert recommended we consider the Fairview Park Marriott, located at the intersection of Route 50 and the Beltway across from the Sheraton Rat-trap. The Dulles Marriott is doable but out of the way.

A voice from the floor nominated Covert for Disclave Chair For Life. Perrianne Lurie suggested the title of "Papa Doc" instead. This nomination was refered to the Membership Committee.

Old Business

Steve stated that Joe Mayhew was doing better, but that he wanted the Sturdy Woman Cabinet out of his house. Lee Strong made some comments that the Publications Committee won't print in a fannish publication. Dan Hoey removed the WSFA Archives from the Sturdy Woman Cabinet in Joe's house so the cabinet and the material previously stored in the cabinet are now separate issues. [Subsequently, Dan and Lee Strong transferred the files to Lee's car, and the archival material is now held by the Secretary, as intended by our By-Laws.] Lee remarked that he didn't need the Sturdy Woman Cabinet since he had bookcases in his apartment. This produced a round of laughter which the Secretary is still trying to figure out. Erica Van Dommelen, Vice Chairfan of the WSFA Matchmakers' Committee, asked if there were no sturdy women in Lee's life. Lee said that he would get back to her later.

Steve will check into moving the cabinet with a pick-up truck. Otherwise, the club might sell the cabinet to Joe for a nominal amount. Disposition of the cabinet was taken under advisement.

The club also debated changes to the By-Laws for twenty minutes but returned the issue to the table.

Will there be a Fifth Friday? At first, it appeared not. But, Peggy Rae Pavlat volunteered her place with Dan Hoey volunteering to supervise the labor. Walter Mills suggested this was the beginning of the Dan Hoey Labor Party. Hoey for President?

Steve asked if we had any further Old Business? Silence descended upon the room. "Ah, that's the sound I like to hear," declared our leader.

New Business

Covert Beach, nominee for Disclave Chairfan for Life, asked the club's permission to open negotiations for the site of Disclave 1994. Former nice guy Tom Veal asked if Covert was running for Chair in '94? "No!" said the long serving chairfan rather sharply. Tom noted the fan's ambiguous answer. A chant arose, "Covert! Covert! Covert! Covert!" The hapless nominee opined that 1994 would be a good year to visit Media West. Note the absence of balloons and sparkly glitter.

Steve attempted to conduct some business by saying that there was a motion authorizing Mr. Disclave to have a few words with the hotel without committing the club. <This club should be committed.> This will probably lock in a better room rate.

Peggy Rae reminded the club that we can elect a Disclave Chair whenever we want to. Tom Schaad moved that we elect Covert right now. He also suggested that Peggy Rae's hat was in the ring.

The club then voted to authorize Covert B. Disclave to have a nice talk with the hotel by acclamation.

John Peacock admitted to having a screw loose... in his telephone anyway.

Lance noted that the First Friday in September coincides with Worldcon. Mr. Gilliland will be in Florida; therefore, the house is in question. Steve polled the audience. Enough people will be in Florida to have a meeting advertising WSFA and enough people will be in the Washington area to be WSFA. We might switch the First and Third Fridays. Steve will coordinate with Alexis, John and Paula.

Covert moved that we table the matter pending coordination. Dick Roepke moved that we adjourn the meeting, but this was not seconded. The motion to table was then approved. parliamentary procedure in WSFA is still a strange and wonderful thing.

The New Tradition

Nobody new showed up. It figures.


Reverend Sister Perrianne announced the Seven Deadly Sins of Fandom (according to the Church of MidWestCon '92) were (in ascending order) Filking, Costuming, Gaming, Huckstering, Smoffing, Telling Harlan Stories, and Turning Pro. Brother Tom Veal pontificated that telling short stories about Harlan is a venal sin but not a deadly sin.

Tom Korn is having a party.

Perrianne is leading an expedition to Cape Canaveral for Magicon. Shuttle Atlantis will be departing on the first. Chuck Divine advised that the shuttle had been rescheduled. Postponing Magicon to match the shuttle schedule was suggested.

Our hostess, Paula Lewis, is looking for the novella Griffin's Egg. Well, I didn't take it.

Winston has had an extra copy of Lan's Lantern. It's gone already. WSFA: the place where things move at hyperspeed!

Boston is running for Worldcon. $8 to pre-support.

Westercon will have a dealer's room with no new books and a Dark Shadows art show in Phoenix, AZ.

Baltimore is running for 1998 Worldcon. Only $5 to pre-support.

Chuck Divine bought a house and moved in. He will have a house warming and pre-Worldcon party on Saturday 15 August 1992. The house is located in Seabrook near Evan Phillips' abode. There will be a cabinet available for sturdy women. No nooses {ties! He means ties!} are allowed in the Maryland Home for the Prematurely Tall.

The Goddard Space Center Drama Club will be presenting The Little Shop of Horrors. Chuck is trying out for the role of The Dentist.

Dick Lynch is selling used books for $1 each, 3/$2.

A new history of S*F* fandom in the 1950s, A Wealth of Fable, is advertised on the back cover of this issue.

Candy Gresham may have an air fare and Worldcon membership for sale.

Sinister figure Tom Veal has Hugo and site selection ballots. <Probably counterfeit.> You can still join Magicon Worldcon!

Matt Leger is looking for Worldcon tickets.

Erica Van Dommelen has resolved the old question about Irresistible Force versus Immovable Object. Karl (The Force) Ginter could not come to an agreement with Landlord (The Object) Schaft. The Object won. So The Force turned around and bought a different house. The household will be moving during the first week in August by Gulliver's Van Lines "Gentle Giants with Lilliputian Prices".

Barry Newton is into paper clips and computer paper. Kinky. If anyone wants to help him out... I don't want to know about it.

Evan Phillips suggested everyone mail Christmas cards to Kathi Overton and John Pomeranz in July. They claimed that no one would remember so let's get them...!

Matt Leger tried to rescue the Secretary but he's beyond help. Also, we insert whatever we please anyway. But, thanks!

The club unanimously adjourned at 10:36.

WSFA By-Laws Amendment Discussion Package

Proposed New Language, 17 July 1992

The publications Committee language is in plain text. Proposed new language is in bold type. As of 16 July 1992, the Committee language is the official language being considered by the club.


But, it's not science fiction! O.K. But the Journal publishes stuff "of interest to members of WSFA" and I'm interested in this film. It's good to be the king!

This heart warming film is a glance at a little known episode in American sports history: the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of 1943-54. During World War II, there were suggestions that professional baseball be banned as unproductive. The AAGPBL was one way of keeping interest in baseball alive without diverting critical manpower from the war effort.

The story follows the lives of several of the people who made the league work. Geena Davis plays the reluctant early superstar and suffering hero. (Not heroine!) Tom Hanks plays the disreputable manager who learns to respect his unusual charges. And Madonna plays the field.

I enjoyed this film a lot. It's heavily fictionalized and the framing story might not be strictly necessary, but this is good literature. The story is good, with an excellent double twist at the end. Somebody did some real research, not only to unearth the long forgotten story of the League, but also to capture the favor of the times, so different from today.

The acting is also superior. The story is about growing, and the cast depicts the process with grit, humor, and charm.

The end of the film is set in the present day, where the aging "girls" win their way into the official Cooperstown Baseball Museum. It doesn't really matter that the league folded. They've already won their way into our hearts. I rate A League of Their Own as Excellent entertainment. LS


by Ralph Bakshi

Comparisons between Cool World and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? are inevitable. They're so similar. And so different.

Basically, the Cool World is an alternate dimension where the doodle inhabitants resemble Earthly cartoons on drugs. But the doodles and their universe are light years removed from the toons of Roger Rabbit's world. Everything is dark and spooky with a lot of pointless violence and random faces floating thru the scenes when the plot bogs down. Sort of cartoon cyberpunk.

The queen of this sinister fantasia is the now well known Holli Would, who longs to become Kim Basinger in the Real World. (The doodles' concept(s) of Earth are inconsistent and never explained.) When a comic book artist who has been drawing a Cool World comic slips into her domain, she has her chance. Let Jessica Rabbit beware! "Pattycake" in the Cool World is a lot more explicit than in Toontown!

I was simply not very impressed by this effort. The plot works okay with only one major deus ex machina. The characters are fairly well drawn in both senses of the term. And there's a lot of energy here. But, it just didn't click for me.

A lot of the movie seemed rather pointless. Bakshi was obviously pushing the limits of animated art, but it didn't particularly contribute a tale worth telling. And the interfaces between humans and doodles in the Cool World were clumsy and distracting. Back to the drawing board, Ralph!

I am leaving Cool World Unrated. -- LS


by Robert Harris

This is a nice piece of alternate history from a first time author. However, I suspect that it will appeal to few fans.

The reason is that this is basically "just" a formula police novel. It merely happens to be set in 1964, in a Third Reich which survived World War II and the ensuing nuclear stalemate. On the eve of President Kennedy's breakthrough visit to the Reich, a criminal police officer discovers a body that leads him to his Fatherland's dirtiest of dirty linen.

This novel is well written, and is basically an adequate read. There are lots of nice touches, such as the hero asking the heroine what is going on in his own homeland, and the hero's son who turns him in to the Gestapo out of love. But the style is markedly different from much of SF. It reads like, well, like a rather standard police novel with an exotic setting.

Another problem that I had was that the characters seemed somewhat two dimensional. We can see the hero-heroine relationship developing a mile away. And, neither the hero's outrage when he discovers the dirty linen or his resolution facing the Gestapo strike very bold notes.

But let me not stress the book's weaknesses too much. Watching the hero thread his way thru the vicious internal Nazi politics and uncover the secrets of the Swiss bank boxes makes this tale of quiet courage worthwhile. And being familiar with Hitler's plan to rebuild Berlin, I especially appreciated the research done.

As science fiction, I rate Fatherland as about Average. LS


by Robert L. Forward

A deus ex machina is usually introduced at the end of a story by an incompetent author who wrote his characters into an impossible situation which needs a miracle to resolve. This book strikes me as being one long deus ex machina in several senses of the term. Fortunately, it's also a fairly good machina.

This tale revolves around the terraformation of Mars, which is forced on the Russo-American Martian colonists when a political-religious cult egomaniac leader takes over Earth and orders all the colonists home. By an incredible coincidence, the colonists also discover an intelligent alien species living under Mars who is capable of terraforming and whose help they can (and do) command. Once commanded, the aliens terraform Mars in double quick time and at no cost to the humans. As I said, not quite a deus ex machina, but real close to one.

The science here reads well, but I get real uncomfortable when the author blows something (Earthly geography) that I'm competent to critique. Further, the science sounds plausible, but my willing suspension of disbelief got strained more than a little by the magnetic meteor doom and the super-peeping tom in the sky.

In addition, the plot assumes a couple of wildly implausible political developments which are intended to set up the terraformation. Considering the difficulty that Pat Robertson had getting votes in 1988, I extremely doubt that an anti-Judeo-Christian cult leader would get many votes for President of the USA. And I further doubt that a Neocommunist government ruthless enough to seize an entire planet would complacently allow the USA to build superweapons which could literally destroy it in ten minutes. Dr. Forward conducts an all-out nuclear World War III in one paragraph!

It becomes painfully obvious that the entire plot is a rationalization for the work of terraforming Mars. The "Church of the Unifier" and the aliens are in the story solely to set up and then to accomplish the author's real interest: making the Red Planet green. Or, at least, greener.

The characters are fairly well done but also rather cliched. The noble scientist-leader contends against his evil twin brother, the militarist, for the leadership of two worlds and the love of the beautiful Russian scientist. If some science fiction is horse opera transposed into an astronomical setting, then Martian Rainbow is The Prisoner of Zenda of the future.

Still, the book does move along fairly well. If you can accept the multiple gigantic coincidences, then it works. But I do wish that Dr. Forward had used different plot drivers to set up his novel.

The book's strongpoints are its interesting concept and the excellence of most of the details. It also has a hard to define overall quality that carries it thru some of its weak moments. Part of this is the pacing, which never lets up.

It's classic "hard" SF. If it's not done brilliantly, it's done well enough. Read it, comrades.

I rate Martian Rainbow as just Above Average. -- LS


by the Usual Suspects

Those SF fans who also read action-adventure yarns will recognize this film as belonging to the latter genre. Still, it is at least borderline SF.

A Top Secret government project revives some US soldiers killed in the Vietnam War for use as a superpowered counter-terrorist strike force. As a result of some predictable coincidences, two of the living machines turn human, one heroic but confused, the other malevolent and purposeful. Somewhat like Terminator 2 without the metal.

The characters are very stiff and cliched: the innocent hero, the militaristic villains, the helpful heroine, the foolish technicians, and the wise old mentor are all here along with various colorful yokels. The plot is also rather familiar: a long chase sequence as the hero and heroine try to unravel the mystery behind the hero's rebirth, and then to discover his roots. There's plenty of violence along the way with everything leading up to a big battle on the Old Homestead amid the mountains of Louisiana.

The story works, but seldom soars. The scene where the bus drove away to reveal an army of police behind it was a comic masterpiece, but it's surrounded by more stereotypical scenes. The Universal Soldiers mobile headquarters expands like the Incredible Hulk pumping up, but the logic of doing so escapes me. Sheer energy can often overcome pedestrian material, but this is one time when it doesn't make it.

I rate Universal Soldier as Average science fiction. -- LS


Ut, oh! The dreaded S-word!

Honey, it's a sequel!

This film unfortunately proves the rule about sequels seldom being as good as their originals. While it is worth seeing, it just doesn't measure up to the first in the series.

Rick Moranis reprises his role as a nutty but brilliant scientist, now working on expanding matter rather than shrinking it. As the title indicates, a lab accident results in a 100 foot baby stalking thru downtown Las Vegas in search of a 10 foot ice cream bar and pursued by an evil scientist.

Basically, this is a good show with good pseudo-science, a fairly coherent plot, and good characters. There are a lot of nice minor characters, brief subplots and worthwhile themes. I enjoyed the way the family pulled together in the face of crisis to rescue their baby/brother, and the older brother's budding romance interrupted by an unexpected sidetrip to Las Vegas. There were also some nice comments on the give and take of good family life that are worth pondering.

But, is this film terrific and colossal? I'm afraid not. It moves right along with energy and consistency, but only the baby reached the heights of entertainment. I smiled my way thru it, rather than laughing out loud. It also lasts only about 90 minutes, raising, again, the question of value for money. But, when all is said and done, it's still jolly good fun. So go see it, but put your brain on Medium first.

I rate Honey, I Blew Up the Kid as Above Average. -- LS


If the essence of comedy is playing things straight, then I should do this review as straight as possible. Because the comedy in this film is as low as possible.

This is basically Flash Gordon done as deliberate farce. A married couple are kidnapped to what is repeatedly described as a "planet of idiots" for their 20th anniversary. The evil emperor Tod Spargo has the hots for Mom and wants to destroy Earth so that his little dustball will be the most powerful planet in the universe. As I said, Flash Gordon lives.

While this mock epic doesn't sound too promising, the audience kept chuckling at the repeated idiot jokes. If the bottom line is entertainment, then M&DSTW succeeds where many other films fail. The basic joke was maintained fairly consistently with sufficient variants to prevent boredom. The alternate technology was nicely done. And the scenery inside the fortress was an appropriate nutty but nice.

One thing that I liked a lot was the real heroism showed by both Mom and Dad, who also genuinely still love each other after 20 years. If they're in a silly setting, it's played straight, and they have to show some real bravery and wit to settle the Great Tod's hash.

However, don't expect too much. This is, after all, slapstick farce and the logic won't stand up to a strong breeze. So, set your brain on Low, and enjoy a 90 minute visit to planet Spargo. I rate Mom and Dad Save the World as (Duhhh.) Above Average. -- LS

It's Here At Last!

the new hardcover edition of...

A Wealth of Fable

an informal history of science fiction fandom in the 1950s

by Harry Warner, Jr.

...revised and enlarged with over 200 photographs

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