The Official Newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction
Association -- ISSN 0894-5411
Edited by Joe Mayhew
WSFA Minutes June 2, 1995 at Gilliland's
Disclave '97 News
Disclave '97 Committee Positions
My brother the Car(r)d
The Disclave '95 Con Suite
Edited by Joe Mayhew
Caliban's parents, the Lumps, could not quite see eye to eye when it came to their only child. George Lump gave the boy an exotic name, pretending it would deflect the potato homeliness which he knew would ripen in any child of his. He watched helplessly as the boy filled into a wretched being with a surly, slouching soul. George had always hated being a troll and grew to despise his son nearly as much as he loathed his own reflection.
It was Deborah Lump's fantasy that her offspring would be something remarkable. She was proud of the achievements of her family. Everyone looked up to the Gargoyles. Nothing would disabuse her of the notion that Caliban would very soon blossom, any day now, enormously; and she was content sit and dream of it.
Caliban glared at the world from under a twisted brow and he smelled himself in the air he breathed. To him, mint and excrement were the same, and yet he loved. His beast-ugly yearnings ached out toward Io, Iris or Psyche without ever doubting she would flee in horror. But when passion filled him, he felt handsome and clever.
One day the Good Fairy took pity on Caliban and decided to grant him a wish, but when she touched him, he seized and raped her. The Good Fairy thinks she might call the child in her womb "Hope", if it is allowed to be born. The Lumps, however, have offered to pay for the abortion.
Attending: Pres. Covert Beach, VP. Terilee Edwards-Hewitt, Sec. Joe Mayhew, Treas. & 96 Chair Bob MacIntosh, Trust. Jim Edwards-Hewitt, 97 Chair Mike Nelson, Elspeth Burgess, Steven desJardins, Alexis Gilliland, Lee Gilliland, Dan Hoey, Judy Kindell, Brian C. Lewis, Dick Lynch, Nicki Lynch, Keith Marshall, Walter Miles, Lance Oszko, Peggy Rae Pavlat, Sam Pierce, Rebecca Prather, Steven Smith, T R Smith, Michael J. Taylor, James Uba, Michael J. Walsh, Mike Zipser, Beth Zipser.
Covert called the meeting to order at 9:15. An amendment to change the sponsoring for new members was on the agenda and was passed unanimously. No other business was conducted. The President asked the Secretary to fill in a form designed to keep track of which officers attend the meetings. That form would be made available at the time to nominate the next year's officers. The Secretary agreed to produce such a record, and will publish it at the appropriate time.
Bob MacIntosh announced that the Treasury balance was $5,489.21.
DISCLAVE 95: Dan Hoey asked that his managers get the names of significant volunteers to him as soon as possible. There would be a convention follow-up discussion upstairs after the meeting.
DISCLAVE 96: Bob MacIntosh announced that there were many wonderful jobs still vacant for next year's con.
DISCLAVE 97: Mike Nelson brought up a possible change of date for the 1997 Disclave. The idea was to exchange the Memorial Day weekend for the President's day weekend. He supplied an explanatory article for the WSFA Journal (published in this issue).
No business was conducted.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:35.
So there we were sitting around and scoffing down pizza. It was after nine o'clock on the Thursday evening before this year's Disclave. We were just about finished setting up the Art Show and Chairman Dan had ordered pizza for the crew.
I believe it was Beth Zipser who said something to the effect, "Wouldn't it be interesting if Boskone and Disclave switched dates? Boskone would benefit from the nicer Memorial Day weekend weather and we might have a wider choice of hotels on President's Day weekend."
We discussed the idea and agreed that it was interesting and feasible. Nearly everyone was in agreement that this notion was just crazy enough to work. The switch would also move Boskone away from Arisia in January. And (depending on when Easter occurs) we would be a little further away from Balticon.
So we decided to consult with NESFA. Mark Olson was down to attend Disclave and some people broached the idea to him. Mark also found the idea intriguing. He did feel that NESFA might also have difficulty in locating a hotel for the Memorial Day weekend. But he will introduce the idea at a future NESFA meeting to get their reaction.
I have no idea if the WSFA bylaws contain parliamentary procedures in regards to moving Disclave. I just wish to introduce the possibility of switching dates with Boskone as a topic for discussion. Since Bob MacIntosh has signed a hotel contract for 1996, the earliest time for the switch would be 1997 (if Boskone is not committed to a hotel for 1997 yet). The Renaissance Tech World will not be available on the Memorial Day weekend in 1997 due to an infestation of soccer players.
Disclave '95 is over. In my opinion, Chairman Dan and his committee did an excellent job and deserve our appreciation.
Disclave '96 and '97 still have many committee and staff positions to be filled. To be honest, I have not appointed anyone to my committee yet (what's the rush?).
This will be the first time that I have chaired a three-day convention. Since WSFA is willing to risk giving Disclave to me, I wish to continue in the same spirit and find brave people willing to try new areas of con operations as well. I encourage you to speak with me about any position that you are interested in filling.
I have asked Lissanne Lake to be my Artist GoH and I have several women in mind for my Author GoH. So I tentatively plan to have Disclave '97 focus on women and science fiction (please don't say feminism, I can't define that any better then I can define science fiction).
Presently, I am involved with the Baltimore in 1998 Worldcon bid. I do not wish to make any firm decisions concerning Disclave '97 until after we do the 1998 site selection voting at Intersection in August. If we are going to be running a Worldcon in 1998, it will affect the size and nature of Disclave '97 (even though I'm just planning to be a door guard if we win the bid).
I don't know if Orson Scott Card has any brothers. If so, I suspect they did not have a friendly relationship. For in Orson Scott Card's books, brothers are the enemy.
Perhaps the best known of Card's brother relationships is that of Andrew (Ender) Wiggin and his brother Peter from ENDER'S GAME. Their relationship comes across most clearly in ENDER'S GAME where the young Ender, deprived of his monitoring device is forced to don a mask and play "Buggers and Humans" with his squirrel-torturing brother Peter. Despite Ender's seeming rejection by the Battle School, Peter is still jealous that Ender kept his monitor longer than he himself did, "He almost made it," Peter said. The book shows Peter to be deceitful, manipulative, and power- hungry, hiding his identity as he schemes to take political control of the whole planet, tricking their sister Valentine into cooperating, playing "Demosthenes" to his "Locke".
In the process of his warped childhood, Peter traumatizes his younger brother, who only wants Peter to love him. Even the military men behind Ender's "games" recognize the unique relationship, forcing Valentine to write a letter to Ender saying he is nothing like Peter in order to get Ender past a hurdle in the fantasy game, created by the Battle School Computer to monitor his psyche.
Ender begins to take control of his own destiny when, in the fantasy game, he kisses the image of Peter in the mirror, only to watch it turn into his beloved sister. By the end of the book, he has become the Speaker for the Dead, capable not only of understanding his brother, but of making the world understand him too. In a final irony, as a result of Ender's own work as Speaker, Peter becomes the beloved leader While Ender's name is seen as a curse, the Xenocide.
However, Card seems to forget about this catharsis. In the third book of the series XENOCIDE Ender is still so traumatized by his brother than he literally recreates him (along with a younger version of Valentine.) Even thousands of years after coming to terms with his brother, there is still part of Ender that hates and fears Peter as the destroyer. This version of Peter picks up where the last one left off, knowing exactly how to needle Ender, how to manipulate young genius girls into helping his political ambitions, and scheming to take power. This relationship between Peter and Ender doubtless will be a large part of the fourth book in the series, CHILDREN OF THE MIND.
Nafai, the hero of Card's Mormon inspired HARMONY/EARTH series, has three brothers. One, Mebbekew, is presented as not evil, for evil at least is competent, but a coward and a weakling. Issib, the only one of the brothers on Nafai's side is a cripple, who depends on a floating chair to maneuver. Although intelligent, Card portrays him more as a sidekick than as Nafai's equal. However, Nafai's oldest brother, Elemak is courageous, charismatic, and competent; easily Nafai's equal in every way but one--he refuses to follow the will of the Oversoul. As a result, he and Nafai are in constant conflict, with Elemak seeing Nafai as his chief rival for his father's fortune and leadership of the family.
In the first scene of the first book, THE MEMORY OF EARTH, the two brothers fight for basically no reason other than Elemak's pride and ending with a threat to try to kill him, a threat that he almost carries out several times in the series, only to be thwarted by the power of the Oversoul. Elemak's jealousy is intensified with each of Nafai's successes in the book and the discovery that Nafai really does hear the voice of the Oversoul only makes Elemak hate his younger brother even more: "'Don't you understand yet, that because your younger brother Nafai was willing to hear my voice, I have chosen him to lead you?' That silenced them both. But Nafai knew that in their hearts, their hatred of him had passed from hot anger to cold hard resentment that would never die."
The rivalry comes to a head in the third book, THE SHIPS OF EARTH, when Elemak tries to lead the family back to the cities and shoot Nafai as a mutiny-leader for trying to obey the Oversoul. And then in the fourth book EARTHFALL, Nafai is tortured by his brother for trying to follow the wishes of the Oversoul. By the last book PEOPLE OF EARTH, the two brothers have formed their own separate tribes, no longer family but bitter rivals.
The sad thing is, unlike Peter who starts out evil and becomes redeemed, Elemak starts out as a noble leader and only becomes evil through jealousy and hatred. At one point Nafai even says that the Oversoul would have chosen Elemak to lead, if he would only listen to the Oversoul.
In the third of Card's major series, the fantasy, ALVIN MAKER, we finally see a good brother. Alvin's brother Measure tries to protect him from the Indians in RED PROPHET, at one point standing up to both Ta-Kumsaw and the Prophet demanding that Alvin be allowed to come with him. Measure voluntarily takes on the curse of his town for killing innocent Indians despite not having committed the murders since, "I'd've been in their place, I don't figure I'd've done a thing different than what they did."
However, Alvin has another brother, Calvin, who even in SEVENTH SON is resentful of the attention Alvin gets as a seventh son, since he considers himself the real seventh son (their oldest brother having died when Alvin was born, Calvin has six older brothers.) When Calvin writes "A Seventh Son" in Taleswapper's book of important things, Alvin comments that his brother is not writing about him. In PRENTICE ALVIN, Galvin shows signs of having some of the same knack as Alvin, but weaker. Like Elemak, he is jealous of his brother's gifts. "Seeing how their knacks were so much alike, he'd come close to taking Alvin's place... Now Alvin was back, not only taken back his old place, but also besting Cal at things that only Cal had ever done. Now who was there for Cal to be?"
Cal refuses to be taught how to use his gifts by Alvin, believing the stories and descriptions Alvin uses were lies designed to trick him. Although only one letter separates their names, it is enough to turn Calvin from a Mormon surrogate to a cold, hard Calvinist. In ALVIN JOURNEYMAN Calvin becomes a principal character not interacting with Alvin but having his own adventures that further develop him as a reflection of Alvin twisted through his own jealousy.
A brother of sorts is also one of the enemies in Orson Scott Card's (A PLANET CALLED) TREASON. Lanik's brother Dinte is shown not as evil but as annoying with his smirks and attempts to become heir in Lanik's place. Soon after succeeding, when Lanik is revealed as a radical regenerative, he sends men to kill his brother. Later, Dinte tries forcing their father to execute Lanik as a traitor and finally attempts to kill Lanik with a sword when the other man was unarmed. Only much later in the book does Lanik understand the true depths of Dinte's deception and that he is no true brother at all.
Family struggles appear in other works of Card as well. In HART'S HOPE a king makes war on a son who he believes had tried to take his place. In EYE FOR AN EYE a family that causes those who are near them to develop cancer must give their children to others to raise or else be killed by their own children. But the theme of brother against brother is, by far the most common.
Part of this may be the power of the story. The story of Cain and Abel is the second oldest human story in the Bible (next to the temptation of man by woman) and has deep roots in the psyche. What brother has not fought with his brother or looked on with jealousy at a brother's accomplishments? What brother has not thought that a brother had received more attention from their parents, better presents, lighter punishments? By giving his young geniuses and supermen, brothers for adversaries, Card takes the easy way of making them more human, more similarly to his own readers.
Finally, by making the antagonists the brothers of the heroes, Card prevents them from turning into Dark Lord type evil villains, who are evil for evil's own sake. They are not faceless all powerful evil gods (the closest he gets is the Unmaker in the Alvin series who still has to work through human intermediaries.) They shrink the scale of the conflict, even when the fate of the planet is at stake, allowing Card to focus on the characters, not just the action. They oppose the hero, out of jealousy and brotherly spite, but have some redeeming features. They are the hero's flesh and blood who must be carefully worked around. They are Peter, Elemak, Cal, and Dinte first, people whom the hero has known from childhood on, and who cannot simply be killed and forgotten.
OK, I have a confession to make. The only reason why Bob MacIntosh and I ran this year's Disclave Con Suite was because we knew the Great Wall would be back. Those of you who have attended Disclaves at the New Carrollton Pit know that the Great Wall was the pegboard structure dividing the DisCave from the Dealer's Room. When we had seen the space allotted for this year's Con Suite, all we could think about was pegboard and power tools.
Of course, it's Bob who's really obsessed with power tools. He has gone as far as naming our two DeWalt electric screwdrivers "George" and "Gracie". I think he also named the extension cords but that's, just too sick to contemplate.
I will admit that on the evening before Disclave after I had gotten into my Star Wars jammies with the integrated fuzzy Wokie slippers and had crawled into my bed with the talking Lion King sheets (batteries sold separately), I did dream about the sound of screaming screws and the smell of tormented lumber.
Have you read Dave Barry's new book about guys? He was writing about Bob and me. We started working with absolutely no written plans or drawings. And I'll tell you, no amount of hand waving or statements like, "We'll put a wall somewhere over there." could convey our grand but extremely nebulous scheme to any of our poor assistants. We sincerely thank Chris, George, Keith, Dave, Ron, and everyone else who helped us build the Con Suite even though we wouldn't share the power tools or our plans. In spite of ourselves, the Con Suite looked good (the large string of balloons "borrowed" from the prom next door was a nice touch).
Fortunately, Erica understands guys since she happens to be married to one. So she promptly ignored Bob's vague instructions and made up her own shopping list. Without Erica, the food at the Con Suite would have been guy food like beef jerky or pork rinds.
Feeding the masses went smoothly after our food prep people carefully explained to us that fruits and vegetables really did need to be washed and cut up before being served. I'm still not convinced that those brown ovally objects with the spiky leaves were pineapples. Pineapples come in cans and are yellow ring thingies like big squishy Lifesavers candy.
For some reason, all our major problems were with beverages. The faithful Disclave soda dispenser moistily stopped functioning late Friday night. Keith Marshall and Evan Phillips managed to revive it on Saturday afternoon but even they can't explain how.
All the Pete's Wicked beers came in half kegs with outmoded screw taps and couldn't be served until our Brewmeister, Dick Roepke, tracked down a hand tap. Even with the correct taps and lots of experimenting, we served more foam than beer.
The hotel was asked to get five half kegs of Dominion root beer. They got one, which ran out early on Saturday. But wait! They did gave us one case each of Hard Times Cafe root beer and Diet Coke to make it all better.
We were told that the hotel would provide their own beer servers. That got screwed up and we ended up trying to find enough responsible adults to serve the beer. Even I was allowed to serve beer (until I started singing the theme from The Brady Bunch).
Having the smokers and gamers share the same space did not work well. We had more smokers than we had expected and in the evenings their air pollution invaded the whole Con Suite (plus no one was willing to enter their space to clean up and the area got really gross).
Beside our problems with liquids (did I mention the water leak in the ceiling and the soggy ceiling tile that fell down on Monday?), I think things ran well. We had some fans who are not house-broken yet but most of our patrons were gentlefen. With much help from our friends, we upheld Disclave's tradition of real hospitality.