The WSFA Journal



April 1993

ISSN 0894-5411

Cute Cats Capture Club


"Have You Been Having Fun on the Floor Again?" ............ Page 2
The Last Two Weeks From Hell .............................. Page 4


The Further Adventures of Batman, Volume 3: Featuring Catwoman
           ... Page 6
Gojiro .................................................... Page 6
Prince of Sparta .......................................... Page 7
Witches Abroad ............................................ Page 7


"For Imaginative Writers" ................................. Page 8


Cuteness Before Business

The regular First Friday mewting in Muurch convened at 9:21, Eastern Sometime or Other, 5 Murrch 1993. President Steve Smith presided.

Before the meeting started, pictures of a cute kitten provoked a massive Ahhhh! of delight. Steve wisely declared a kitten break before continuing. Lee Uba wanted this mewting.

Secretary Lee Strong didn't have the minutes again. Reading was waived by unanimous consent.

Treasurer Robert MacIntosh reported $2809.78 in the bag. Several voices whispered suggestions that we have a party, an audit, a small party, and a bake sale. This provoked a wave of laughter. (Looks like Lee found the font size control on the word processor. (Groan.))

Alexis Gilliland, Chairfan of the Entertainment Committee, reported that he had been waiting with baited breath, trying to catch more mews of the World Trade Center bombing. "SPACE ALIENS BOMB WTC!" suggested one. Tom Schaad declared that the act was planned by terrorists but executed by the Three Stooges.

Covert Beach, Vice Chairfan of Disclave Past, reported that he has the long awaited honoraria list. Elspeth Kovar asked, "Have you read the list? There are two nameless people." Joe Mayhew identified them as "the two short green ones...." A motion was made to put up a monument to the nameless workers. An amendment was suggested to name the monument "the Tomb of the Unknown Gopher". Both of these motions failed for lack of seconds.

Covert, Chairfan of Disclave Present, is working on the flyer. Terilee Edwards-Hewitt asked for a Disclave mewting. Covert said O.K.

Steve looked around to see if John Peacock or Paula Lewis had wandered in. "Has anyone heard from the Future?" Lee Strong muttered, "Everyone in this club." Tom reported a rumor that our two-for-the-price-of-one co-con chairs found a reasonable hotel in the Tysons Corner area.

The Trustees reported that all the Trustees were here tonight. {Do we pay these people for this?} (No, it's free.) <And worth every penny.> In fact, all officers were here except for John and Paula. Steve pronounced this to be "weird".

There was no Old Business so Steve stated we would stagger along to New Business. There was none, so Steve stated, "Let's try The New Tradition." Lee Uba gushed, "He remembered!"

The New Tradition

Charles Weber was here for his first time. He is manager of the Fantasy Forum, which is within spitting distance of the Clarendon Metro stop. "That explains the appearance," pontificated Steve.

John Herman was also here for his first time. The club went, "Hi!"

Vickie James also joins us for her first time. She works for the CIA and announced, "We have infiltrated!" <Only 12 years after the Department of Defense.>

Steve called for people attending their second WSFA mewting. This produced a giggle. Sarah _______ of Wheaton, Maryland is here. She is not taking better suggestions this week.

No one was here for their third WSFA mewting.


Secretary Lee Strong announced that anyone who wished your announcement to appear as you like obviously hasn't read a word I've written in the last 3 years.

Terilee announced she was unemployed. This produced a loud "Yay!" (Tough audience.) "Someone hire me!" Also, unemployment gives Terilee time to plug a cyberpunk interactive roleplaying game (RPG) con.

Charles Gilliland announced the existence of a super squirt pistol known as the "Finger of Death". Chris Callahan advised not to bring that to a Fantek con.

Joe announced that Tomorrow will publish his story "Lost Virginia". The title refers to West Virginia which has been removed from the United States [in the story]. <And a darn good idea it is!!>

Robyn Rissell announced it's Disclave time. There will be a film program committee mewting. Lucasarts has published a MS-DOS X-Wing simulator. A 386 computer or R2 droid with holographic capacity is required to play.

Perrianne Lurie is looking for a ride to Lunacon.

Sarah is mostly unemployed but does random work.

** Elspeth Kovar announced that Dan Burgess had asked her to marry him, and she had accepted. The club applauded mightily. The wedding is set for April 1994. Her brother gave them a Scottish fold kitten for an engagement gift. **

Dan also did his other job too well and proved that they don't need to employ Dan. We welcome suggestions. The cats don't work. (And why should they when humans provide most material needs without charge?)

Tom announced that Fast Forward will interview Lois McMaster Bujold on her latest Miles Vhatshisname novel. The show will also do an episode on Japanese mecha. During this show, the interviewer's lips will keep moving after the speech stops.

Tad Williams' third novel in the Dragonbone Chair series, Green Angel Tower, is out. It is a truly gigantic book. Charles Gilliland added that it is 1066 pages long without the appendices and lives up to its predecessors. Lee Strong tried to confuse the issue but Charles put him in his place.

Lee Uba said, "Don't bother to write this down...." Robert said, "Write! Write!" Lee apologized for the floor being sticky.... Dan asked, "Have you been having fun on the floor again?" The club Ohhhed in wonder. Lee continued valiantly, "The water table rose before we could evacuate the rug. The musty odor is the result."

Matt Leger apologized. "When I lost my job, I didn't know it was contagious!" The second Quantum Leap novel, Close for Comfort, is out. It has one major discrepancy.

Robert moved we adjourn and we unanimously adjourned at 9:44 Sometime or Other.


Cuteness Reigns


Peggy Rae is Ill in Alaska


The regular Third Friday in Murrch business meeyuting convened at 9:25 p.m., 19 Murrch 1993. We had a really long kitten break this time.

* Ericat Van Dommelen demonstrated the little known fact that kittens come with an off switch. Someone brought in mechanized bread -- made at home with a bread machine. Someone else asked what an infarction was? Bill Mayhew told the story about the hen that laid kittens. Cats magazine reported on a Persian cat nursing an armadillo. Steve Smith, President and resident philosopher, stated, "A door is what a cat is on the other side of."

Steve called the meeyuting of the Washington Science Faction Association to order at 9:25.

Secretary Lee Strong had a new issue of The WSFA Journal. He was waving them around when Susan Cohen hollered, "Swat the cat!", pointing at The Skepna, who was inspecting the food table. Lee refused, noting that The Skepna was bigger than he was. The club waived reading of the minutes by unanimous consent.

Treasurer Robert MacIntosh reported Pt2809.78 in pesoes on hand. There was a call for a party and a call for the Treasury to be translated into quatloos.

Alexis Gilliland, Chairfan of the Entertainment Committee, is Guest Of Honor (GOH) at Lunacon in New York City.

Covert Beach, Chairfan de facto of Disclave 1992, reported that John Sapienza is out of town. Peggy Rae Pavlat fell ill while in Alaska. The honoraria list is incomplete. The account has not been closed.

Covert Beach, Chairfan de jure of Disclave 1993, reported on the Last Two Weeks From Hell. He didn't finish the flyer. Given the sparse attendance on tonight's meeting, this may be good. "If I had showed up with 2000 flyers...." "Oh, the stamping might have been brutal," declared Ericat.

John Peacock, Chairfan de novo of Disclave 1994, sent our contract to the Sheraton Premiere hotel in Tysons Corner. Artwork by the potential Art GOH (AGOH) is available. "I'm sick," declared John. "So what?" asked the club. Another tough audience.

Neither the Fine Arts Committee nor the Trustees were here. "That's normal," opined Mr. President. There was no Old Business or New Business "I like to hear that," stated Steve.

The New Tradition

No humans were here for their first, second or third times. However, Ericat introduced Stately Ginter Manor's newest cute cat, a kitten named Freyja for the Norse goddess. In Norse mythology, half of all the lawyers slain in battle go to Freyja.


Judy Newton has a Hillary Clinton fan club mewletter. She went to Texas and got herself a pair of boots.

Paula Lewis announced the newest Tiptree cookbook, Her Smoke Rose Up From Supper. Paula and John haven't eaten any of the recipes yet but it reads well. The Secretary notes that it is a salmon colored book. This fits in well with both our cat and dinner themes.

The Trustees invited all megalomaniacs to run for public office in the upcoming elections.

Eric Jablow announced his Top Secret clearance is coming ... (Not much of a Secret, is it?) ... so he will have a job this summer. This is a mixed blessing.

Matt Leger had good mews and bad mews on the job front. First, he has a new temp job. However, he does not have a permanent job yet. Any leads would be appreciated.

Issue #12 of Quantum Leap the comic book is available in Another World, Georgetown.

Steve announced that Peggy Rae took ill in Alaska. (She was probably there on business, installing OSHA sites.) Exploratory surgery revealed an ovarian cyst. This was presumably taken care of. John Sapienza went to visit her.

Someone asked why Lee Strong didn't get to do his announcement? "Because I have good taste I forgot," murmured Steve.

* The Secretary wishes to announce that anyone wishing his or her announcement to appear as they wish rather than as the Secretary might remember it should submit their announcement in writing to the Secretary after the meeting.

Matt Leger moved that we adjourn and we unanimously adjourned at 9:38.

* Following the meeting, a committee was formed to nominate and elect Rachel Russell as President of WSFA. Eric Jablow was elected Chairfan; Covert Beach and Robert MacIntosh were elected Vice Chairfans; and Judy Kinard was elected Reality Checker and Candidate for Vice President. The WSFA Journal notes that Rachel is already Empress of WSFA, and she is unlikely to accept a demotion to the office of President.

* Meanwhile, Bill Mayhew was in the kitchen telling stories about his efforts to arrange marriages for first graders.


The WSFA Journal is the official mewsletter of the Washington Science Faction Association (WSFA), Inc. All material is © WSFA, Inc., 1993, except as noted.


President, Washington Sentient
Felines' Association (WSFA)
           ... Spike
Vice President .......... Puppy
Secretary of State .... Griffin
Ambassador to Earth .... C'mell
Attorney General ....... Freyja
Director, Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Felines ...
          ... The Skepna
Director of Affirmative Action
          ... Token Raccoon
Speaker to Humans ...
         ... Ericat Van Dommelen
Chaplains ...... Aslan, Bubastus
Empress ........ Rachel Russell
Suddenly Demoted ...
          ... Steve Smith
Should Be Demoted ...
          ... Lee Strong
Stilllllllll Going ...
         ... The Energizer Rabbit

The Further Adventure of Batman, Volume 3: Featuring Catwoman

Martin H. Greenberg, ed.

Well, I'm tempted to say that this book is the cat's pajamas... but you won't catch me doing a dumb pun like that. Still, it's a good book.

Catwoman is one of the most ambiguous characters in the Batman universe. She is constantly torn between her criminal career and her attraction to the Batman (and vice versa!). She is obviously a villain, but a sympathetic one. The various authors here nicely capture her various facets with skill, understanding and not a little humor.

The stories seem to be of a uniformly high quality -- a pleasant change from many uneven anthologies. My personal favorite was Brian Thomsen's "An Unauthorized Biography", in which our feline felon is attacked by a poison pen journalist! More traditional is "Deadly Prey", in which a hunting club learns one too many ways to skin a cat. A number of stories explore both Catwoman's mind and new areas of Gotham City as well.

On the other paw, the lead story, "Gotham City Spring: a suite", strives for Zen poetry but merely achieves incompleteness. And the sympathy shown for a serial killer in Ed Gorman's "A Harlot's Tears" strikes me as wildly misplaced, even if he does have a politically correct disease.

Overall, however, the cat has dragged home some pretty good stuff. I rate Batman 3/Catwoman as Superior super-heroic literature. --LS


by Mark Jacobson

This is a really stinky bad book! Don't buy it!

No matter what Tom Schaad says about it!

I'd like to blame Tom for this inane tale of a giant radioactive Japanese neo-dinosaur, but he didn't really recommend it. Cleverly, he just noted that it had an interesting theme, and let my interest in modern Japanese literature [read "monsters"] do the rest. A cunning devil, and I'll get him back if it's the last thing I do.

The title character here is a stunningly obvious Godzilla clone, who wanders around Japan, "Radioactive Island" and the USA encountering various villains. There's lots of politically correct paranoia about the bombing of Hiroshima and the evil fascists running Hollywood and various "secret" US Government facilities. Most of the characters, places and other devices have really silly names. The giant dragon's human sidekick, for example, is called "Komodo". Har. Har. Har. I may have to revise my opinion that the Illuminatus Trilogy is the worst written books in all of imaginative literature.

I generally try to point out some strong points as well as some bad points in even the worst literature. However, I confess my failure here. This homage to a monster is simply a monster itself. Run for your lives!

I rate Gojiro the lowest possible, Did A Tree Die For This? --LS

Prince of Sparta

by Jerry Pournelle

This tale is subtitled "A Novel of Falkenberg's Legion", and indeed, it is. This is a rousing tale of brave men and women defending their homes and loved ones against barbarians already inside the gates. A timely tale, well told.

One problem has to be mentioned right up front. The story here picks up in the middle of a civil war on the planet Sparta. While the new reader can pick things up quickly, reading Go Tell the Spartans by the same author first is a requirement for maximum enjoyment.

That aside, this is a superior story with important implications for modern Americans. The Spartans are trying to create a society in which citizenship is a valued privilege earned by hard work rather than handed out free. The rebel Helots are criminals dumped on Sparta by a revived Soviet Union and a Sovietized USA. Civil war results when the Helots demand the rewards of citizenship without the work. Read what the real US Congress is doing today... and worry.

The emphasis here is not on longwinded theory but on military action. The rebels are cunning and determined. The citizens must show both courage and conviction in return. Thomas Jefferson remarked that the Tree of Liberty must be regularly refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants. He would enjoy this book. I rate Prince of Sparta as Superior.

Witches Abroad

by Terry Pratchett

Ah! Monty Python writes again! Unfortunately, he's not at his best form here.

This is the latest in a lengthy series of humorous fantasy novels set on a magically operated flat planet known as the Discworld. It's a good thing that magic works, because ordinary human intelligence seldom seems to.

The plot is that a fairy godmother dies unexpectedly and leaves her power, portfolio and pumpkin creating wand to a witch. This is almost unheard-of since the various guilds of magic-abusers on Discworld simply don't mix. To make matters worse, the witches hear that another fairy godmother is forcing the hapless citizens of one kingdom to suffer happy endings!!!! Obviously, this can't go on, so the witches undertake a droll-to-slapstick quest to Set Things Right.

As I've said before, this is rather low budget comedy. It generally raises chuckles rather than peals of laughter. Previous books did so rather consistently. This effort seems rather strained and rather not worth the candle. On the positive side, the logic is good, and most of the characters are well drawn. However, silly gags and a basic lack of energy drag this contribution down. A bad case of Piers Anthony's Disease, I'm afraid. But, nothing a little gafiation won't cure. Let's hope Mr. P recovers before his next novel.

I rate Witches Abroad as Inferior fantasy. --LS

For Imaginative Writers

Ever wonder how all those magical systems you see in fantasy books and role playing games got started? Mostly, they appear as mature sciences with established masters, guilds, and laws, not as a mystery waiting to be discovered.

White Rose Publishing, a small gaming press, wants ideas on how magic started. Send us a short essay, based on the following situation, describing the first appearance of magic, the first practitioners, and the effects on medieval European society.

The year is 834, 1066, 1106, or 1301, the setting is Europe. A comet has just appeared in the sky; the stars are right; certain members of the population suddenly develop the capacity to tap into forces unknown to modern science. Who are these gifted people and what sets them apart (if anything)? What is this power (demonic, fey, natural, psionic, etc.) and how is it tapped (ritual, prayer, act of will, give up soul, cede willpower/fatigue)? What do they learn to do with their powers and how does society around them react. What do they pass on to others and how?

Send your essays to White Rose Publishing, Attention: Essay Contest, P.O. Box 933, Amherst, MA 01004-0933. The authors of Tapestry (WRP's medieval fantasy RPG) will select the winning entry and reprint it in Illumination, our newsletter for Tapestry. We'll be looking for plausibility, completeness, and a sign that you understand something about the setting. Winner receives a copy of Tapestry, Tuchman's A Distant Mirror, or the A Concise Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages, your choice. Entrants agree that all contest entries may be used and printed by White Rose. Deadline: May 1, 1993.

Here's one sample to get you started:

On the spring equinox, 1066, the comet is blazing bright in the sky. Christianity's spread into European society does not prevent many folk from dancing around bonfires in celebration of the coming year. In England and Scotland, Brittany and Poitou, wherever the menhirs have not been pulled down by evangelizing bishops the Comet's power is channeled. Those who led the dances suddenly falter, many faint. They have been chosen.

These dancers, mostly (80%) women find over the next months that they are different. When they enter the menhirs, they feel tingling, like static electricity. In extreme emotional states, miracles occur around them. A husband is healed in England; a Norman knight struck by lightning from a clear sky in Brittany; a Poitou woman finds a hoard of silver hidden in the ruins of a Roman villa. At first, these are treated as miracles. Priests send messengers to their bishops; bishops send letters to Rome. While the messengers travel and the clergy debates, the dancers explore their powers. Magic requires strong emotions - love, fear, desire, anger, to raise the appropriate power. Their first arts are healing of the badly wounded, the sick, and the dying. The dancers are sought by ruler to tend their families and particularly to ease childbirth. Some are killed when they find no strong love or desire that lets them heal. Fear or hate sometimes even accelerates the patient's death.

The dancers hear rumors of each other. Most stay remain in their villages. A few leave their villages for the first time in their lives and travel in search of the others. They begin to meet. Methods of healing and blessing crops spread. Curses and death causing magic mainly remain guilty secrets.

Finally the Church response comes. These women do not act as holy women or saints. Their power comes from the Devil. Some swear never to call on their gift. Many are slain. Those that remain hide their gift, others are driven from their villages into the towns. A few of the more wealthy can afford to enter convents. They become weavers, dyers, brewers, and prostitutes, At the first mense, they find their daughters have inherited the power and must be taught never to combine will and anger, to be circumspect in blessings and healings. Slowly they find each other and the weaver's guilds become their secret halls. In the south, the weavers will turn to the Cathar and Waldensian faiths, which in this history will have magical defenders.