The WSFA Journal November 3, 1995

The WSFA Journal

The WSFA Journal November 3, 1995

The Official Newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction Association -- ISSN 0894-5411

Edited by Joe Mayhew

Men Who Use Computers Are The New Sex Symbols Of The '90s
WSFA Minutes October 20th at Ginter's
A Sorcerer and a Gentleman
Football playoff grids
1995 World Fantasy Award Winners
Space Tom

Date: 27-Sep-1995

Men Who Use Computers Are The New Sex Symbols Of The '90s

by Scott Adams (

I get about 100 e-mail messages a day from readers of my comic strip "Dilbert." Most are from disgruntled office workers, psychopaths, stalkers, comic-strip fans -- that sort of person. But a growing number are from women who write to say they think Dilbert is sexy. Some say they've already married a Dilbert and couldn't be happier.

If you're not familiar with Dilbert, he's an electrical engineer who spends most of his time with his computer. He's a nice guy but not exactly Kevin Costner.

Okay, Dilbert is polite, honest, employed and educated. And he stays home. These are good traits, but they don't exactly explain the incredible sex appeal. So what's the attraction?

I think it's a Darwinian thing. We're attracted to the people who have the best ability to survive and thrive. In the old days it was important to be able to run down an antelope and kill it with a single blow to the forehead.

But that skill is becoming less important every year.

Now all that matters is if you can install your own Ethernet card without having to call tech support and confess your inadequacies to a stranger whose best career option is to work in tech support.

It's obvious that the world has three distinct classes of people, each with its own evolutionary destiny:

Knowledgeable computer users who will evolve into godlike non-corporeal beings who rule the universe (except for those who work in tech support).

Computer owners who try to pass as knowledgeable but secretly use hand calculators to add totals to their Excel spreadsheets. This group will gravitate toward jobs as high school principals and operators of pet crematoriums. Eventually they will become extinct.

Non-computer users who will grow tails, sit in zoos and fling dung at tourists.

Obviously, if you're a woman and you're trying to decide which evolutionary track you want your offspring to take, you don't want to put them on the luge ride to the dung-flinging Olympics. You want a real man. You want a knowledgeable computer user with evolution potential.

And women prefer men who listen. Computer users are excellent listeners because they can look at you for long periods of time without saying anything. Granted, early in a relationship it's better if the guy actually talks. But men use up all the stories they'll ever have after six months. If a woman marries a guy who's in, let's say, retail sales, she'll get repeat stories starting in the seventh month and lasting forever. Marry an engineer and she gets a great listener for the next 70 years.

Plus, with the ozone layer evaporating, it's a good strategy to mate with somebody who has an indoor hobby. Outdoorsy men are applying suntan lotion with SPF 10,000 and yet by the age of 30 they still look like dried chili peppers in pants. Compare that with the healthy glow of a man who spends 12 hours a day in front of a video screen.

It's also well established that computer users are better lovers. I know because I heard an actual anecdote from someone who knew a woman who married a computer user and they reportedly had sex many times. I realize this isn't statistically valid, but you have to admit it's the most persuasive thing I've written so far.

If you still doubt the sexiness of male PC users, consider their hair. They tend to have either: (1) male pattern baldness -- a sign of elevated testosterone -- or (2) unkempt jungle hair -- the kind you see only on people who just finished a frenzied bout of lovemaking. If this were a trial I think we could reach a verdict on the strong circumstantial evidence alone.

I realize there are a lot of skeptics out there. They'll delight in pointing out the number of computer users who wear wrist braces and suggest it isn't the repetitive use of the keyboard that causes the problem. That's okay. Someday those skeptics will be flinging dung at tourists. Then who'll be laughing? (Answer to rhetorical question: everybody but the tourists.)

Henry Kissinger said power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. And Bill Clinton said that knowledge is power. Therefore, logically, according to the U.S. government, knowledge of computers is the ultimate aphrodisiac. You could argue with me -- I'm just a cartoonist -- but it's hard to argue with the government. Remember, they run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, so they must know a thing or two about satisfying women.

You might think this was enough to convince anyone that men who use computers are sexy. But look at it from my point of view: I'm getting paid by the word for this article. I'm not done yet.

In less enlightened times, the best way to impress women was to own a hot car. But women wised up and realized it was better to buy their own hot cars so they wouldn't have to ride around with jerks.

Technology has replaced hot cars as the new symbol of robust manhood. Men know that unless they get a digital line to the Internet no woman is going to look at them twice.

It's getting worse. Soon anyone who's not on the World Wide Web will qualify for a government subsidy for the home-pageless. And nobody likes a man who takes money from the government, except maybe Marilyn Monroe, which is why the CIA killed her. And if you think that's stupid, I've got 100 words to go.

Finally, there's the issue of mood lighting. Nothing looks sexier than a man in boxer shorts illuminated only by a 15-inch SVGA monitor. If we agree that this is every woman's dream scenario, then I think we can also agree that it's best if the guy knows how to use the computer. Otherwise, he'll just look like a loser sitting in front of a PC in his underwear.

In summary, it's not that I think non-PC users are less attractive. It's just that I'm sure they won't read this article.


Attending: Pres. Covert Beach, VP. Terilee Edwards-Hewitt, Sec. Joe Mayhew, Treas. & 96 Chair, Bob MacIntosh, Trust. Jim Edwards-Hewitt, Trust. John Pomeranz, Elspeth Burgess, Chris Callahan, Donald Eastlake III, Alexis Gilliland, Erica Ginter, Eric Jablow, Judy Kindell, Brian C. Lewis, Samuel Lubell, Richard Lynch, Nicki Lynch, Keith Marshall, Walter Miles, Lance Oszko, Evan Phillips, Dick Roepke, Maura Scharadin, Steven Smith, William Squire, Lee Strong, Michael J. Taylor, Ronald C. Taylor, Michael J. Walsh, Madeleine Yeh, Ben Zuhl.

President Covert Beach called the meeting to order at 9:15.

Agenda: the Trustees would have an election report.

Treasurer Bob MacIntosh reported a balance of $7,361.05.

TRUSTEES: Joe Mayhew was elected to Chair the 1998 Disclave.

DISCLAVE 96: Bob reported on the Hotel walkthrough He, Covert Beach, Michael Nelson, Judy Kindell and Joe Mayhew took on Columbus Day. The space is very large and generous. It is a handsome hotel, Parking is expensive ($16.00 per day) but we'll work out alternatives.

DISCLAVE 98: Joe Mayhew said he hoped to be able to use the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill as well. It would be our third year at the same hotel and maybe we'd have learned its dance by then.



The Bucconeer Committee will elect officers at a November 11th meeting scheduled for 2:00 PM at the BSFS clubhouse


Michael J. Walsh will Chair the WORLD FANTASY CONVENTION over October 26-29 in Baltimore at the Inner Harbor Marriott. The Guests of Honor are: writers Terry Bisson, Lucius Shepard, Howard Waldrop; Artist Rick Berry, Publisher Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, and Toastmaster Ed Bryant. A lot of WSFAns will be working on it.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:40

Review by Steven desJardins


Not available in any store! Not that I've been able to find, anyway, and I've looked. Which is a shame, because the writing in this novel is considerably better than in her first, THE WELL-FAVORED MAN which itself was an exceptionally good book. (A SORCEROR AND A GENTLEMAN is a prequel to that novel, taking place a generation earlier. As the characters in this mileau are very long-lived, quite a bit has changed.)

Both novels are elegantly written with precisely considered dialogue that is a joy to read. If you enjoy the interplay of intelligent allies and antagonists, each with his own set of ethics and motivations, rendered in a subtle and thoughtful fashion, in a fascinating world of high fantasy, then you will most likely enjoy these books.

Several elements of A SORCERER AND A GENTLEMAN are taken from Shakespeare's "The Tempest": one character is named Prospero, has servants named Ariel and Caliban, and is an exiled Duke plotting to overthrow the usurper who banished him. But the resemblance is only superficial. Rather than bringing those who wronged him to his place of exile, Prospero taps a hitherto unknown source of magical power, creates an army, and brings the war into his enemy's country.

This is a novel of sweeping events, and it is a pleasure to see that not too much emphasis is placed on the role of individuals. In THE WELL-FAVORED MAN magic was extraordinarily powerful and a few favored individuals battled a massive and equally powerful dragon, with most ordinary citizens unconcerned and unaffected. Magic is equally powerful in A SORCERER AND A GENTLEMAN, and if it were not for the presence of powerful sorcerers on both sides of the conflict it would be decisive, but the mundane armies play a role as well, and in the end it is the valor of the ordinary soldiers that decides the fate of nations.

The mistrust between sorcerers is another area in which this novel surpasses its predecessor. Gwydion, the hero of THE WELL-FAVORED MAN says that the openness and trust with which his uncle Dewar taught him sorcery was unusual, but we never were shown anything different. In this book, practically every exchange between sorcerers is accompanied by suspicion and hostility, and the preceding novel is retroactively made stronger by having this background made real. Dewar--here a young man-- was taught sorcery by his mother, and the loathing he feels for her is apparently amply justified. Sorcerers give nothing for free; even the simplest favor is remembered and used to extort a service in return some time in the future.

And this mistrust has far-reaching consequences. Dewar and Prospero, who at first seem to have good reason to come into conflict, will each come to regret the misunderstandings and miscommunications engendered by touchy pride.

While the later novel is better, it is worthwhile to read the earlier novel first, in order to have the pleasure of seeing the seeds of later events. The dislike Argylle has in the earlier novel for its neighboring country of Pheyarcet is herein given ample justification. An old scandal in one novel comes alive with incestuous tension in the other, even though there is no actual incest nor even the barest hint of it, save in the reader's foreknowledge. An old betrayal in one novel is foreshadowed with blunt opportunism in the other. There is as much complexity in the casual hints Willey drops regarding her universe's background as there is in the entire plots of many mediocre six-volume trilogies.

A SORCERER AND A GENTLEMAN is a Tor hardcover, $23.95. It is also available from the Science Fiction Book Club for $11.98. Ask for it by name.




The 1995 World Fantasy Con From Joe Mayhew's Point of View

Fifteen years ago, I ran the Art Show for the 6th World Fantasy Convention at the Hunt Valley Inn, back in 1980 and Mike Walsh ran the Dealers' Room. This time, the 21st WFC at the Inner Harbor Marriott, Michael J. Walsh Was Chair and I was doing the advance work on the Art Show for Tom Schaad.

Circumstances prevented the con planning from really getting underway before the Hotel walk through on August 6th. Thus everyone involved in putting the con together had to hustle in order to make it happen.

A lot of them were WSFAns. F'rinstance: Michael J. Walsh, Who Will Be Selling Books After The Meeting, as previously noted, was Chair, While Mike & Beth Zipser were Program Directors. The Huxter Room was run by former WSFAn Scott Dennis and his wife Jane. It looked wonder full of books.

Lance Oszko ran the Con Suite, with help from Dan & Elspeth Burgess, Jim & Terrilee Edwards-Hewitt, Judy Kindell, Bob MacIntosh, David Grimm, Christina Fatula, and Keith Marshall, who, as Lance put it, "...instructed me in the mysteries of the soda machine." The Con Suite Crew also made the amazing discovery that, "Raspberry sauce makes good simulated blood for Jello brains." People actually ate three or more brain shaped Jellos. They also had an orgy of real food including Ice Cream, Large shrimp, crab soup, and other such things which carried on the spirit of Evan Phillips' DisCaves. Lance kept it open late: Thursday til 2:00 AM, Friday til 2:30 AM, Saturday til 3:00 AM and Sunday (when only the dedicated were still around, it finally closed at 11:00 PM. It opened early each day and was usually doing a solid business.

The Art Show was run by WSFAns: Tom Schaad as Director and myself (Joe Mayhew) as Manager. Judy Kindell was Assistant Manager, Walter Miles did the Layout and Security, Former WSFAns Martin Deutsch built it and put it away, his wife, former WSFAn Shirley Avery was in charge of sales, while Sam Lubell, Keith Marshall, Winton Matthews, Michael Nelson, and Ron Taylor "carried the hose" as staff.

So did BSFAns Thomas Horman and Jeff Olhoeft, NESFAns Claire & Dave Anderson, Mark & Priscilla Olson, Chip Hitchcock & Davey Snyder, Ken Knabbe, and PSFan Jonie Brill-Dashoff. Mike Zipser and Tom Schaad were Auctioneers.

All the above got to wear the specially made ART SHOW badges which Evan Phillips made for me. They were in color, while the Con badge was merely black & white.

Shortly after I got to the Hotel on Thursday, I saw Terry Bisson in the Registration line and asked him to be GOH for my 1998 Disclave. You may think this was a rash or sudden act. However I've wanted to make him a GOH for years and the opportunity finally came my way.

I got to hang out with Gene and Rosemary Wolfe, that's the best part of any con for me; It will surprise no one when I announce that they'll also be guests of the 1998 Disclave.

Michael Andre-Driussi, Editor of ABERRATIONS magazine and Ron Taylor, shared my room. Michael has bought a couple of stories from me and published the LEXICON URTHUS (a scholarly reference for Gene Wolfe's BOOK OF THE NEW SUN). It was a very pleasant company for me. Ron as a WSFAn is probably well known to most of you perhaps as they guy who ran 10 miles to from his NIH parking lot to Disclave 1995 in DC's Chinatown. He runs. Fans aren't supposed to do healthy things. Perhaps, in time, we will convert him to the slob side of the force.

Michael Andre-Driussi is a wry Californian, looking much younger than he sounds on E-Mail. He has the kind of mind which turns corners with a deft banter that belies his self description as a "drudge". The LEXICON URTHUS probably took a lot of drudgery, but as he has a story forthcoming in Algys Budrys' TOMORROW, I suspect he's probably a fine writer as well.

The Art Show had 55 artists exhibiting on 130 panels and 4 tables. Art GOH Rick Berry's painting "Mabelline", with her smoldering glove and eyes which look right inside you and then right on through you was the show stopper. His painting technique has a reality which has nothing to do with photography. His subjects are THERE right in front of you. They can be right intimidating. Berry is probably the finest artist working in SF/Fantasy illustration. If he isn't, maybe it's Paul Lehr, Richard Powers, Steve Hickman or Tom Kidd, or Karl Kofoed, or one of the others in my show. While I say "my show", actually it was Tom's. I planned it and he carried it off.

When it came to 3-D work, Lisa Snellings' Merry-go-round and other sculpture caught the imagination of most people who saw the show.

I think the biggest money in the rather brief auction (8 items?) was for the model of Barkley Shaw's Harlan Ellison Chess table. I rather suspect that bigger sales were made right off the wall. But the WFC art show isn't about auction sales or even the sale of the specific works in the show. It is primarily an exhibition in which the professional editors and publishers can get a fresh look at the best artists working in the field.

To that end, Tom and Martin took particular care in balancing the lighting in the two rooms so that there were no dark corners or bad panels. The aisles were 8' wide as were the bays divided by 4' wings. Thus there was a 16 foot distance between much of the art. We allowed non-tripod, no-flash photography. None of the pros objected, most heartily concurred that such photography is good advertizement.

We planned from the first to keep the show open until at least 11:00 PM Friday and Saturday nights. As it turned out we closed the show after 1:00 AM on Fri\Sat and kept open until 3:00 AM EDT (or 2:00 AM EST - it was time change night). The artists all expressed gratitude for this. The show provided a great place to hang out and to talk with clients. It was also a nice place for the con attendees to stroll through late at night. A lot of them did.

The only artist who didn't show was Eric Ladd, who had taken two panels but was kept away by the pressure of work.

Don Maitz and Janny Wurtz' participation was seriously marred by the loss of their packing box by FedEx.

The first story that went out was that the truck had been broken into on the way to the hotel and that their box had been taken. The "theft" was noticed in the early afternoon, but not reported until around 10 PM. Why not, if it were a theft?

I suspect that the managers didn't think it was stolen, but rather lost. The Baltimore police thought that the theft story did not wash. Nevertheless, Janny had posters made up of the box to be put up in Baltimore, and people were raising money for them at the con to pay for insurance. Perhaps I have the story on the fund-rasing confused, the atmosphere was rather rushed and somewhat muddled.

When I spoke to the FedEx driver he said that the Maitz/Wurtz box was NOT the only thing on the truck. Actually, his truck was full of small, valuable packages (some labeled as computers, etc.) -- none of which were taken -- in fact he did not report to me that the truck was broken into, but rather that the package was missing. The box is very large and heavy enough so that two strong men would have trouble lifting it. Why would a thief take a heavy, unwieldly box of illustrations off when he could quickly take lighter, more easily fenced items?

If it were an "inside" job, it would have again to have been done by a lunatic who could have ripped off a fortune in negotiable items instead of a box of works cheifly valuable to SF fans and the artists themselves. SF/Fantasy art is not bought by mysterious criminal collectors. The inside job theory is romatic twaddle.

FedEx has a marvelous computerized logging system with bar-code pens and similar bells and whistles. Na'theless, it is operated by people. I suspect that the box was mis-routed, put on the wrong truck or, even returned to Florida. In any case, I sincerely hope I am correct, as I don't want Don and Janny to suffer that horrible loss. I don't think the art work will turn up in Baltimore, unless it is at some FedEx office.

I only saw two of Mike and Beth's panels. On Thurday and Friday I was too wound up and busy with Art Show stuff. Saturday I saw two panels in a row and then had to get back to the Art Show and the ongoing drama. The first of the two panels I saw was "WHY WE WRITE SHORT FICTION" moderated by Toastmaster Ed Bryant, and featuring the three GOHs: Terry Bisson, Lucius Shepard and Howard Waldrop. It was mellow but rich.

The next panel was called "RESPONDING TO SHORT FICTION" Moderated by Gene Wolfe, with panelists Susan Allison, Michael Andre-Driussi, Kathe Koja, and Beth Meacham. Because both panels dealt with Short Stories, I think I have conflated the ideas expressed on them in my memory. There was some discussion about what differences there might be -- other than length -- between Short Stories and Novels. Someone said that a short story was about the most important event in someone's life; that a novel was about the most important period in someone's life. Gene Wolfe said that a short story should be a shorter piece of an entire world -- which his stories are. There was a lot of talk about Algys Budry's writing mechanics method. Some attacked him for making unnecessary rules. I pointed out that they were training wheels. Good architects take away the scaffold when they are finished. As a reader I don't use a checklist for the seven or nine points which "make a good story" but often as not, when a story fails, it is because the writer couldn't do it without them. Some can, some can't, some need training wheels.



Best Novel: James Morrow - TOWING JEHOVAH (HarBrace), Michael Bishop - BRITTLE INNINGS (Bantam), Johnathan Carroll - FROM THE TEETH OF ANGELS (Harper), John Crowley - LOVE & SLEEP (Bantam), Elizabeth Hand - WAKING THE MOON (Harper), Brooke Stevens - THE CIRCUS OF THE EARTH AND THE AIR (HarBrace)


Best Short Fiction: Stephen King - THE MAN IN THE BLACK SUIT (NEW YORKER). Other Nominees: Steven Millhauser - THE SISTERHOOD OF NIGHT (HARPER'S), Nicholas Royle - THE HOMECOMING (SHADOWS OVER INNSMOUTH), Michael Marshall Smith - TO RECEIVE IS BETTER (MAMMOTH WEREWOLVES), Michael Swanwick - THE CHANGELING'S TALE (ASIMOV'S 1-94).

Best Anthology: Ellen Datlow - LITTLE DEATHS (Millenium). Other Nominees: LOVE IN VEIN (Harper) Poppy Z. Brite & Martin H. Greenberg - Ellen Datlow & Terry Windling - BLACK THORN, WHITE ROSE (Morrow), Stephen P. Jones - SHADOWS OVER INNSMOUTH (Fedogan & Bremer).

Best Collection: Bradley Denton - THE CALVIN COOLIDGE HOME FOR DEAD COMEDIANS and A CONFLAGRATION ARTIST (Wildside). Other Nominees: Robert Bloch - THE EARLY FEARS (Fedogan & Brener), Lisa Goldstein: TRAVELLERS IN MAGIC (Tor), Joel Lane - THE EARTH WIRE & OTHER STORIES (Egerton), and Joyce Carol Oates - TALES OF THE GROTESQUE (Dutton).

Best Artist: Jacek Yerka. Other nominees: Bob Eggleton, Brian Froud, Rick Lieder, Dave McKean, Gahan Wilson.

Special Award, Professional: Ellen Datlow for editing. Other Nominees: John Clute for reviewing, Fedogan & Bemer for book publishing, and Mark Ziesing for Ziesing Books.

Special Award, Non-professional: Bryan Cholfin for Broken Mirror Press. Other Nominees: Michael Andre Driussi for LEXICON URTHUS, Jon & Kim Betancourt for Wildside Press, Richard Chizmar for CD Publications, and David Sutton for VOICES FROM SHADOW.

Life Achievement Award: Ursula K. Le Guin