The Official Newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction
Association -- ISSN 0894-5411
Edited by Joe Mayhew
WSFA MINUTES APRIL 19th AT GINTER'S
1996 Hugo Nominees
Super-Geniuses in Science Fiction, Part II
Edited by Joe Mayhew
Attending: Pres. Covert Beach, VP. Terilee Edwards-Hewitt, Sec. & 98 Chair Joe Mayhew, Treas. & 96 Chair Bob MacIntosh, Trust. Jim Edwards-Hewitt. Trust. David Grimm; Trust. John Pomeranz, 97 Chair Mike Nelson, Eric Baker, Bernard Bell, Dan Burgess, Elspeth Burgess, Chuck Divine, Alexis Gilliland. Karl Ginter, Erica Ginter, Dan Hoey, Eric Jablow, Bill Jensen, Judy Kindell, Richard Lynch, Nicki Lynch, Keith Marshall, Walter Miles, Barry Newton, Lance Oszko, Peggy Rae Pavlat, Eva Phillips, Sam Pierce, Rachel Russell, George R. Shaner, Steven Smith, Michael J. Taylor, Ronald C. Taylor, Michael J. Walsh, Michael Watkins, Madeleine Yeh.
President Beach called the meeting to order at 9:20. Treasurer MacIntosh reported that the WSFA hoard had reached $6,102.33.
NOTICE: Erica Ginter said that an alternative back-up site for Third Friday WSFA meetings is needed as the Ginters may, from time to time, need to be away. WSFA traditionally has met in the homes of members generous enough to suffer Fans gladly. The last few 5th Friday meetings have not been held due to a lack of sites volunteered.
It was agreed that the Trustee candidates will be nominated one at a time, there being nothing in the club constitution against doing so. These nominations are made to insure that there will be at least one candidate for each office. Other nominations are welcome from members at the time of the elections.
1996: Program Director Joe Mayhew would discuss the program with any interested members 1/2 hour after the meeting.
1997: Chair Michael Nelson announced that Judy Kindell and Rachel Russell would be doing program next year.
1998: Chair Joe Mayhew announced that Nicholas Jainschigg would be his Art GOH.
The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has a web page reachable at: http://www.bsfs.org/. It's an excellent site in that there are a large number of links to other science fiction sites.
Eric Jablow has a new address: [ suppressed from online issue by WSFA policy ].
Madeleleine Yeh's email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fabulous Bungalow has its own web page: http://www.radix.net/~bungalow
The meeting was adjourned at 10:05
President Covert Beach requested that I keep track of which officers make the meetings, and publish it around election time. While being an officer of WSFA is probably an honor or something, it is also a job which is done, for the most part at meetings. The officers are the elected representatives of the club. To represent, they have to know what is going on and be available regularly to the membership.
The attendance record of current WSFA officers and candidates at the 19 business meetings held (credit is given for showing up when no quorum was present:
All current officers are members in good standing. Neither Elspeth Burgess nor Candy Myers were on the March 15th list of paid up members supplied by Treasurer Bob MacIntosh.
The Trustees take over the meeting and conduct the elections. Each of seven officers is elected by separate nomination and written ballot. The Trustees distribute ballots after the room has been cleared of those ineligible to vote and then take nominations from the floor. When nominations are closed, all valid nominations (of those candidates who: 1] are not behind in their dues, 2] have accepted the nomination. and 3] have been seconded) are displayed and read while the voters fill in their ballots. Each voter should lost the candidates he would accept for the office in order of his preference, starting at the top of the ballot and numbering those he lists. The Trustees will then count the ballots. IF there is no candidate who receives enough votes to be elected, the ballots cast for the candidate receiving the fewest votes will be assigned to the second candidate listed on them. If there still are not enough votes to elect, the ballots cast for the lowest remaining candidate will be reassigned to the next preference and the procedure will be continued until one candidate has a majority. Thus there will be only ballot for each office: a total of seven conducted in this order: President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Trustee, Trustee, and Trustee (The Trustees are elected one at a time).
A Themed Review
by Samuel Lubell
Most recent novels that have included geniuses have found it necessary to do more than just tell the story of someone recognizing their oddities. In ENDER'S GAME Ender and his siblings are all geniuses but the book is about their efforts to save (and take over) the world. The SuperSleepless in BEGGARS IN SPAIN and BEGGARS AND CHOOSERS are geniuses but these books are about the economic and political effects of unlimited energy and some people with extra advantages. Similarly, Dacid Palmer's EMERGENCE is about what happens to a genius after the world ends.
EMERGENCE by David Palmer is more of an action-adventure novel than CHILDREN OF THE ATOM or even THE FOURTH R. While the main character Candy Smith-Foster, hasn't been writing books in secret or surviving on her own at the age of six, she does have some special talents of her own. She masters shorthand in two days, is an expert at karate, and intently interested in books and learning (although spends "null time occupying space in grammar school classroom, trying not to look too obviously bored while maintaining straight-A average (Only amusement consisted of correcting textbooks, teachers-usually involving digging up proof, confrontations in principal's office.)") She has other talents too that emerge in her cross country odyssey across an America ruined by germ warfare.
The book is written in short staccato sentences as if transcribed shorthand:
"One thing certain: Sentence structure throughout will have English teachers spinning in graves (those fortunate to have one).
English 60 percent flab, null symbols, waste. Suspect massive inefficiency stems from subconsciously recognized need to stall, give inferior intellects chance to collect thoughts into semblance of coherence (usually without success), and to show off (my 12 dollar word can lick your ten dollar word). Will not adhere to precedent; makes little sense to write shorthand, then cancel advantage by employment of rambling academese.
Keep getting sidetracked into social criticism. Probably symptom of condition. Stupid; all evidence says no society left..."
The early part of the book, originally a separate short story, is full of little hints like that one. Gradually, the reader learns that Candy (and her bird) has survived a nuclear/germ warfare surprise attack (because she was in her father's shelter reading (her father had intended to save the best books of civilization) when the bombs/germs went off). This part of the book describes her early history and efforts to acquire learning on the sly as well as her attempts at solo survival in a world in which she may be the only living human. Then the author changes everything when Candy finds a note left by her karate Teacher and addressed to her that reveals her to be not human but homo post hominem (man after man.) Not only is she better. faster, stronger, but immune to disease and perpetually cheerful. Best of all, from her point of view, she is not alone. All the other homo post hominems would have survived the war too.
The middle sections of the book is devoted to her search for the other survivors especially those who were raised deliberately to be geniuses (the AAs) and studied by her father and her Teacher. Along the way she meets other survivors and gradually assembles a team. (This is not a "Mad Max" style post-holocaust story however.)
All of the characters are very strong, especially Candy and her pet bird. The other main character, Adam, seems difficult to believe at first a hormone-crazed concert pianist/chef prone to making Bach jokes, but he too is given enough background to be believable. It is clear from the book that Candy and the other characters are still developing their intelligence and their knowledge base. All the characters grow in the course of the novel and they all make mistakes (perhaps too often, since they are supposed to be geniuses.) The book is lacking a bit in depth and I would have liked to have seen more of the character's reactions to learning that they are not human. I highly recommend this book as a fun read that is difficult to put down. And I wish David Palmer was still writing more books (his THRESHOLD which was not a sequel was also good but the first part of a trilogy that was never completed.)
Like Palmer's EMERGENCE, and Shiras' CHILDREN OF THE ATOM Orson Scott Card's ENDER'S GAME grew out of a short story (although unlike those books that simply continue the original story, in ENDER'S GAME the original plot is put near the end of the novel but with a richer backstory and events leading up to it.) There is probably no need to discuss the plot of this Hugo and Nebula-winning novel, but a key difference between the novel and the short story is the introduction of two new characters Ender's brother Peter and his sister Valentine. All three are geniuses, and not just military geniuses. Ender learned arithmetic at three and is the best hope for saving Earth from the buggers. Valentine tells Peter. "Ender and I aren't stupid. We scored as well as you did on everything. Better on somethings. We're all such wonderfully bright children." When Ender first goes to battle school he quickly beats the older kids at their own games, "All he had to do was watch the game and understand how things worked, and then he could use the system and even excel"
Meanwhile, while Ender is learning how to save the world, his brother and sister are taking it over by creating fake identities on the computer system and writing columns designed to influence world leaders. "Valentine could persuade other people to her point of view - she could convince them that they wanted what she wanted them to want. Peter, on the other hand, could only make them fear what he wanted them to fear." The two succeed, gradually influencing world opinion until the treaty that creates peace on the world is named for Peter's alternate identity and he becomes the first ruler of the world. At the very end of the book, Valentine becomes a shaper of worlds' identities as she travels from planet to planet, writing their histories while Ender creates a new religion that spreads from star to star.
The reader knows these characters are geniuses because the characters keep talking about it (Peter tells Valentine "There are maybe two or three thousand people in the world as smart as us, little sister."), and because the characters do things as children that can only be done by extraordinary adults. However, the reader never gets a sense of their thought processes and sees them thinking like geniuses (eccept, perhaps, in Peter's analysis of the dangers posed by the Warsaw Pact by analyzing their train schedules.) So, while Card's characterization is strong as always and these characters are believable as people, they are less convincing as geniuses.