The Official Newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction
Association -- ISSN 0894-5411
Edited by Joe Mayhew
Death by Convenience
Scheduled WSFA Meeting at Chuck Devine's. March 17, 1995.
5th Friday Party March 31, 1995
Benefit Auction at Disclave to Raise Money for Aboriginal SF Magazine
Science Fiction by Women Symposium
Edited by Joe Mayhew
There were these three pigs, Jebowhezius, Porklyle and Unwillingham, who graduated from State Sty and went out to find their fortunes. Jebowhezius had gotten in on a football scholarship but somehow never actually onto the gridiron during his four years at State. Porklyle was a blue-ribbon self-improvement major. His record weigh-in at the county fair has yet to be equalled. Unwillingham, by contrast, was called "Scrawny" by his trough-buddies.
Jebowhezius had whangled his way onto the public-housing waiting list when he was a sophomore. So when he graduated he'd be able to walk right into a federally subsidized straw hut.
He invited Porklyle and Unwillingham over for a hut warming, but erred in that he used the public phone at a nearby convenience store. For, working behind the counter and definitely within ear-shot, was one Seamus O'Wolfie, an amateur meat-packer from Chicago. As Carl Sandburg would testify, Seamus had a genuine and traditional interest in pigfolk of the sort which usually left pigfolk cold.
Just as Jebowhezius's party got wallowing, Seamus showed up with a writ of habeas porkus.
"Someone with a truck full of knives wants to inspect the premises." said Unwillingham.
Jebowhezius snorted and went to the door. "Go away, this is a private party." he said.
A voice beyond the door growled. A gust of hot breath seeped and then surged through the door's braided straw. Jebowhezius thought that it was an inconvenient time to have to go to the bathroom, as he made a puddle right there on the government issue floor, just inside the door of his new home.
The back of Jebowhezius's straw hut exploded outward, just as the front collapsed inward. Porklyle and Unwillingham were already going wee-wee-wee all the way to Porklyle's place. Jebowhezius, himself, was soon dressed and in Seamus's truck.
Porklyle had rented a place at "The Twiggery" from his uncle. They reached it just ahead of Seamus's truck. As they piled every stick of furniture in the place up against the door, Porklyle said, "My uncle is always telling the family how this place is solid wattle-bonded mesquite. Built to withstand..."
Unwillingham, able to fit through the window, did not pause to enjoy the pleasant, smokey aroma of Porklyle's house as it roasted its tenant to near-perfection.
The very next day, Unwillingham took out a lease on a brick cottage which was certified wolf-proof. It was, however, rather too expensive for a recent graduate, so he posted an ad for a room-mate on the bulletin board at a local convenience store.
Availing himself of the Equal Opportunity Housing law, Seamus O'Wolfie thus became Unwillingham's house-mate, and soon thereafter, in a manner of speaking, his residence.
[ Actually at the Ginters' -- KFL ]
Attending: Pres. Covert Beach, Treas. & 96 Chair Bob MacIntosh, Chris Callahan, Karl Ginter, Erica Ginter, Eric Jablow, Brian C. Lewis, Peggy Rae Pavlat, Evan Phillips, Dick Roepke, George R. Shaner, Steven Smith, T R Smith, and William Squire.
Doubting there would be a quorum present, WSFA President Covert Beach decided not to hold a business meeting. Karl and Erica Ginter announced that they would host a 5th Friday party. Brian Lewis volunteered to send out postcard notification to the membership.
Attending: Pres.Covert Beach, Sec. Joe Mayhew, Treas. & 96 Chair Bob MacIntosh, 95 Chair Dan Hoey, 97 Chair Mike Nelson, Gilliland, Lee Gilliland, Erica Ginter, David Grimm, Dave Hunt, Eric Jablow, Judy Kindell, Brian C. Lewis, Keith Marshall, Bill Mayhew, Walter Miles, Barry Newton, Judy Newton, Lance Oszko, Evan Phillips, Sam Pierce, George R. Shaner, Steven Smith, Michael J. Taylor, Ronald C. Taylor, Michael J. Walsh, and others.
Will be at AFTERTIME BOOKS, 1304 King Street, Arlington, VA Phone: 703-546-5030 on Sunday, April 9, 1995 at 10:00 AM.
ABORIGINAL SCIENCE FICTION MAGAZINE has served the community of SF readers by introducing new writers and ideas beyond what is generally thought of as "commercial". Those familiar with "ABO" are aware of the magazine's value and contribution to the field.
The sponsoring oversight board, The Second Renaissance Foundation, is presently trying to raise money to pay outstanding debts to writers, and others. Abo's editor, Charlie Ryan has consistently put out a better magazine than he could afford to.
Dan Hoey, Disclave 95 Chair; Mike Zipser, Program Director; and Judy Kindell, Art Show Director have agreed to a display of items to be auctioned in the Art Show and to an Auction late Saturday night. Lots will be displayed with bid-sheets. Those receiving 2 or more written bids will be put up for voice auction.
Contributions can be given or mailed to Joe Mayhew before Disclave or delivered to him on site.
Joe's address is:
[ censored ]
Greenbelt, MD 20770-1776
His phone number:
THURSDAY, APRIL 13, 1995 1:30-8:30 pm
University of Maryland, College Park
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
PROGRAM AT MARYLAND ROOM, MARIE MOUNT HALL (on Regents Drive facing US Route 1)
[PANEL 1) 30-3:00 pm: UTOPIAS BY UNITED STATES WOMEN: Origins of Science Fiction by Women.
"Strategies for Encouraging New Visions: Utopian Fiction by American Women Writers at the Turn of the Century," by Carol Kolmerten, Hood College, Frederick, MD.
"The Venusian Dream, a Newly Recovered 1949 Utopia, and U.S. Utopian Fiction by Women before 1950," Carol Farley Kessler, Penn State University, Delaware County.
Discussion with Audience led by Melissa Sites, UMCP.
[Tea and informal discussion with panel members] 3:00-3:30 pm.
[PANEL 2] 3:30-5:00 pm: CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE FICTION BY WOMEN: Theory and Practice.
"Gender and Science Fiction," by Robin Roberts, Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge.
"Cross-dressing As a Male Narrator," by Jane Donawerth, UMCP.
Discussion with audience led by Carole Breakstone, UMCP.
[Dinner Break]: 5:00-7:00 pm.
PROGRAM AT UNIVERSITY BOOK CENTER, STAMP STUDENT UNION (on Campus Drive next to gymnasium.)
[PANEL 3] 7:00-8:30 pm: READING BY SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS.
Severna Park: author of SPEAKING DREAMS
CAROL EMSHWILLER: author of CARMEN DOG, JOY IN OUR CAUSE, VERGING ON THE PERTINENT, THE START OF THE END OF IT ALL, VENUS RISING, and numerous short stories.
Discussion led by Katherine King, University of Maryland.
[Refreshments and book signing]: 8:30 pm.
by Joe Mayhew of:
TEMPORARY WALLS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MORAL FANTASY INSPIRED BY JOHN GARDNER'S ON MORAL FICTION (Minneapolis: DreamHaven Books, 1993. 75 pp. ISBN 0-9630944-4-0. No price information, distributed at The 1993 World Fantasy Con.)
The following John Gardner quote is the source of the title TEMPORARY WALLS, edited and published by Greg Ketter and Robert Garcia for their 1993 World Fantasy Convention: "Art builds temporary walls against life's leveling force, the ruin of what is splendidly unnatural in us, consciousness, the state in which not all atoms are equal."
Ketter and Garcia say that Gardner "...believed that through the arts, humanity preserved and pursued the Good, the True and the Beautiful." and state that the six stories they selected "honestly attempt to deal with moral concerns"
However, they describe, The High Ground by Kathe Koja and Barry Malzburg, as "a tale John Gardner probably would have loathed." Indeed, in the first line of the story we learn, "This took place in ... the forest of inconsequence past death..." where one might well suppose "all atoms are equal."
But all the atoms in this story are artsy bleak. The High Ground seemed to be the sort of Byronic posturing one might expect of two creative writing students engaging in one-down's-manship, rather than the thought provoking and witty downers one has come to expect from Barry Malzberg. So I re-read the story as parody. It sort of works as parody. Both protagonists share a attitude moral helplessness before the forces surrounding them. In one case, a wizard given the classical choice of sacrificing some of his people to save the rest. The Wizard's own philosophical rationale is sophomoric and worthy of an adventure gamer. The dilemma is written on cardboard. If this story is intended as parody, it does not clearly provide the reader with the implied alternative which usually makes for good parody.
The second story, Dream Harder, Dream True by Charles de Lint, is about a man named Jean who lives for a while with an angel with a broken wing, who tells him, "...we only borrow these lives we live, we don't own them."
"If we don't own our lives," Jean asked, "then who does?"
"The people we might become if we stop believing in our dreams.
In this story, the woman/angel who fulfills Jean's dreams, knows that she will either lose her true self to the happy dream or awaken. Either way Jean will lose her. As in the best fairy tales, the moral is not tagged on at the end; it breathes throughout the story.
Dateline:Colonus by John M. Ford, is a solid re-telling of Oedipus at Colonus. The telling leaves sharp images which add a layer to the myth. Ford's mythical figures are fresh and real, without being "updated." While the story is set in a sort of near-now American Southwest version of classic Greece with cars, pistols, helicopters and "The Kindly Grove Cafe," the characters are sill Oedipus, Antigone and the figures of Classic Greece in the mythic depth of their humanity. In that, and other aspects, the story could remind one of Gene Wolfe.
In Kristine Kathryn Rusch's Woman with Child, bitter Miriam is a sorceress who rejects a spirit child imposed upon her. She resents the desire others express to love the child which to which she even denies reality. Her struggle against becoming an instrument for redemption leaves her crippled in many ways, both physical and spiritual. Miriam, the un-Mary, has no purpose higher than herself, and it seems the story is trying to make her seem heroic in that. Perhaps it speaks for our times.
Choices by Mary Frances Zambreno tells of a peace-bride's efforts to untangle the feud between her father and husband by murdering her unborn child. It is a rather heavy-handed woman-as-victim story, with justified suicide as a moral value. Again, the heroic is equated with rejection. In the case of Choices, hope is not presented as a viable option. Zambreno does not allow her protagonist a complete set of choices.
Sixth and last, The Stranger by Patricia McKillip, is about mystic weaver who confronts a rogue pied-piper. The characters are out of Regency romance conventions: brooding demonic powerful misguided man and the insightful, spiritual woman who destroys him. McKillip's moral theme seems a little confused. particularly as the heroine keeps her knowledge of what is actually going on from those she supposedly loves.