The WSFA Journal September 1996

The WSFA Journal

The WSFA Journal September 1996

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

Edited by Joe Mayhew

Guest Editor: Samuel Lubell                                                              

Suicide Bugs & Nest-Fouling Birds
Disclave the Talk of the Town
Bio of a Pirate SF Fan
SF on TV
Contract Still Pending
1996 Hugo Winners
WSFA T-Shirts
Lost In Space




Suicide Bugs and Nest-Fouling Birds at WSFA


The 8/2 WSFA meeting at the Ginters (not the Gillilands) opened with a bug committing suicide.  It is not known if the bug's handlers meant this as a comment on the level of discourse at a WSFA meeting.  Joe called it a real firefly.  Disorder was called at 16 after.  Our leader said that everyone should get a postcard about the August 11th meeting and about switched meeting.  The treasurer said we had a few pesos left, when pressed he admitted they amounted to $3,926.63 (Does that mean the next Journal could come out on gold-leaf?)  No calls for a party were heard.  The trustee present reported "I trust all of you - to varying degrees.". 

Disclave past is past.  There is enough funds to keep Michael's convention solvent, barely.  Everybody should bring umbrellas.  Disclave '97 reported that Mr. Beech is hard at work searching Maryland and DC and visiting hotels.  He drew the line at Baltimore.  He is currently to be found begging in airports and wearing an orange robe.  Disclave '97 reported that we stuck with Memorial Day weekend.  There was one offer from the Ramada Carrolton.  (Everyone laughed).  The President said, "I don't think we've ever been there before."  The treasurer said, "The Pitt"  Covert said that he didn't get to the hotel today with a contract but anticipated $69 for a room by the pool, $79 for a tower room, and half a dozen mini-suites will go for $89.

            Joe asked if anyone has his old hotel contract.  Mike said there were new air conditioners units at the hotel.  Convert said they turned it on and it cooled the room quickly.  Mike said they have been working on the hotel, new AC, new carpeting, working on seam.  He added that there is no one we know still there.  The pool has been renovated, there is a new fence, and the pool will be open.  Elspeth asked about security in the courtyard.  "Mike and I and others discussed problem.  We are working on a solution.  Baring security issues, we can fit in.  We'll have the pit and the infamous Disclave."  John said, "There are some positives.  It is a move to a cheaper hotel, free parking, and the location of fond memories of past Disclaves."  Elspeth added, "On the Internet the trend is to say we moved from shabby New Carrolton to overly upscale surroundings.  We made them behave appropriately and they though we were cracking down too hard."  Erica added, "People missed that hotel."

            Joe said, "We need to get people into that hotel so stop bad-mouthing it.  It's a dumb bird that fouls its own nest.  We need articles on the Internet and in the [WSFA] Journal. We need to stress it is not the hotel we left but we can look at it and see how to use it.  Evan turned the Bunker into a magic fairyland.  Not that problem but new and different ones.  It is like a new hotel.  Don't take past solutions."  Someone else commented that now that this is our hotel, bad-mouthing it would be like badmouthing Disclave.  Mike said, it is now a Ramada.  It is owned by a local family.  Put some money into it, but not enough.  It is the Official hotel of the U.S. Air Arena.  Joe, speaking as Disclave Far Future, said that he is looking forward to what this hotel can do.  "I will not sign a hotel until after Mike's convention.  Every time we did a repeat contract, we didn't go back.  Therefore, the thing to do is to not sign a two-year contract."

            The meeting closed with a reminder to attend the Sunday special meeting.


Disclave the Talk of the Town at Special Bonus Meeting

Note.  This is transcribed from a half-day meeting.  Some of these notes are sketchy and I couldn't always detect who was saying what.  But these notes capture the flavor and most of the ideas of our discussions.



On Sunday, August 11, at John Pomeranz's Fabulous Bungalow, various and sundry members of WSFA and other Disclave members met to discuss the future of Disclave.  After munchies, it started with everyone sharing their best and worst Disclave experiences.  John then passed a hat with different propositions that people had to argue in favor of, even if they didn't really believe it (Fortunately most WSFAns are good at BS.) 

 "Reasons why Disclave should have more TV actors" - good performers, attract people, better looking [than authors] , have agents for publicity, would allow different areas of programming, attract younger audience, media cons always attract large numbers, we could lure people in by showing TV than attract them to written SF.  It would help us gather local media coverage.  TV stars could talk about what books they read.  Someone commented that radio personality Derek McGinty might be interested but has family obligations that weekend.  There is a need to contact media more for good press.  Most of us watch SF TV and would like to meet the actors ourselves.  In addition to actors there are the show's writers and producers and people who do tie-ins. 

"Disclave should eliminate the con suite" - This would save money. Help keep the area clean, fans need to lose weight, it would simply things, make life easier in hotel negotiations, we could meet in the bar, it would solve security problems, need less staff, redistribute people to other functions, relationship with hotel would be more congenial.  Someone pointed out that NorEastCon had exhibits and let hotel serve food.  It would encourage more parties, help keep smokers at bay and cut down on number of Goths.  We could encourage room parties to take the place and more people would attend them.  Would reduce the need for door guards.  It would eliminate the competition with dance and programming among people who now hang out in consuite.  It would reduce the emptiness that having parties far away from suite makes it less people.  It would eliminate a potential liability - drunk drivers who got their alcohol from our con suite.  We could have others run parties in area normally set aside for our suite.  There are other things to do with resources that are more supportive of participation, more active activities.  We could get people to volunteer.  The con suite is 15% of the entire budget ($3,000) spent, (10% of final costs) also it has a high volunteer cost.  Is this where we want to put the time and space.  Eliminating the con suite would allow more programming. 

"Disclave should run more programming" - In the gripe session people asked for more choice.  More programming would allow something different at all times.  More programming encourages creativity.  Need to maintain quality.  More programming means more diversity which would attract more people and a more diverse pool.  More programming would allow smaller more intimate items.  Programming in the con suite, activity programming, activities  with kids and their parents, Filling in holes with activities. Programming would force us to get more authors and participants. Improve outreach, define our contribution to SF community.  Make better use of the people we do get.  More programming would be practice for Bucconeer.  Morning/early afternoon programming.  Would generate more money for the hotel, could appeal to more people at same time, demographic change.  We charge for three days but people feel wasted time when no programming (evening and Friday/Monday)  Inform people of different aspects of fandom.  Find out what young people want and give them programming to do it.  Would allow us to broaden programming to include discussions.  More emphasis on programming make us a C$ [sic]  Would have a social welfare and informing/educational role.  We could repeat programming items so that no one misses them and everyone would have a chance to get them when they come in.  You can party anywhere, buy books and comics anywhere but programming and art show is unique.  If can't sell programming in SF than what are we doing?

Disclave Should Limit Membership to 300 people - We wouldn't feel bad about the small attendance if it were mandated.  Everyone would have a task.  A limited number of people means we could consider a wider variety of faculties and conference rooms.  We would have our pick of where we want to be.  The beer would last longer.  We would know who our audience is and give them what they want.  The whole convention could go to one restaurant.  Would be smaller, more intimate.  300 is the breakpoint for small culture.  Everyone would know everyone so meet strangers.  We could forget about programming, attracting people etc., it would be a real relaxacon.  Could cut expenses.  Simplify.  Security would be much smaller.   A chance to talk to people.  Exciting and intimate.  Everyone knows everyone.  It would be like a college bull session with greater participation.  A different experience.  We wouldn't have to turn it into a media con.  We could make it like Readercon in which the authors would participate as audience, heckling.  We could talk to authors with a higher pro to fan ration.  Improves discussion.  Lower signal to noise ration, more friendly.  The pros would not be surrounded by worshippers.  We had a Datclave with just local fen and authors.  Can do fun things with less responsibility and worry.  Less structure, fewer flies.  Only active people who know what they want.

John then asked all the various people to describe UtopiaCon, the best possible con.  Sam went first and took full advantage of the loophole John had left open by not requiring plausibility or even present day technology.  After Sam spun a yarn about bringing in living and dead authors, restaurants providing the food in the con suite, and recording all panels so you never miss anything, John said he meant for the descriptions to be possible.  Eric shared his utopian experience of a close friendly con.  Beth Zipster shared hers of Bethesda restaurants and an early riser program.  Chris shared her utopia- one item she wants to see at all times.  Elspeth shared hers with varied programming and people who try to see what they could do to help others have a good time.  Mark shared his experience at UtopiaRelaxaCon where he hung out, socialized, and attended tracks on group enjoyment.  Judy said talked with new people, scientists explained SF science.  Mike found excellence directions and a program book and plentiful parking.  He said the committee members enjoyed themselves.  Winton said there was a room where panels could overflow into so no panel was limited to an hour.  Bernard said there was a web site with schedule and a room with computer games.

The assemblage then discussed ways to meet with other people and make friends.  Dick wrote, powdermilk bisquetes for the committee.  Others cited the need for a dictionary/newbie guide, display with photos and names, T shirts for authors with their names on the back.  A readercon type meet the pro's party with an event of making a poem from first lines of their work.  Dick suggested having the pros talk about art.

John then pulled a set of imaginary(?) case studies and divided the participants into groups.  One case study was email saying the Goths were taking over the convention.  That team handled it by saying we should tolerate everyone and cater to all.  Another case study was a boorish fan debating with panel while the moderator does nothing.  The consensus was that the committee should do nothing because it is better for one panel to suffer than to create a scene.  However, they would not use that moderator in the future.  Sam suggested talking to the fan using flattery, as in "You're making a very good point, could we step outside so you could explain it to me in greater detail?"  Another case study involved two fans dressed as klingons head banging in public view only to be yelled at by another committee member who says they aren't behaving right and giving fandom a bad name.  The group suggested that the way to handle an angry klingon without risking blood feud is to apologize and try to calm it(?) down.  Once calmer, collect the basic information.  Elsepth suggested looking into the situation and get the other side if you have a member of the concommittee behaving like a problem.  Let them know a complaint.  Joe said that one member shouldn't tell on another to the chair.  Instead let them vent, no commitment.  Suggest politely that the klingon's behavior was aggrevious.  Speak to committee person not the con chair.  Talk to the klingons, get them involved, bring them in.  Someone committed that everyone is responsible for security but should use your judgment.

Another case was that of a man in a spiderman costume that turned out to be just bodypaint.  The team suggested trying to assess his state of mind, get him into a private area, bring in security only if people complain.  And if the hotel has a problem (say smudged sofa) the con chair should deal with the hotel.  Bob said, if a person is not doing anything actively, don't intervene, that only causes problems unnecessarily.  If not violating law or hurting others, turn your head and walk away.  One person saying bad things is worse than one doing good.  Instead get people happy.  Others say you should keep the conchair informed of problems, that person must know what is going on.  Another person commented that the con committee is not paid but faces lots of pressure, only human.  Try to catch the problem while can fix it.  In the case of Klingon, we should try to make the Klingon feel understood and sorry that it feels that way.  We don't want it feeling hostile to the con (or to the planet).  Asked how he would have dealt with a con committee member berating a Klingon Bob said, it depends on the staff.  We would talk.  Elspeth said we should acknowledge the stress and understand that people under pressure.  However, we need to live with it.  Joe said one should avoid taletelling when not sure of truth.  Staff has a right to screw up.   Go to staff member to see if problem, make him feel better.  Placate the members and protect brothers in arms.  Loyalty to own.  People with talent may have problems but they are willing to work and we need them.  Owe them courtesy and brotherhood.

John then pulled out the inevitable tablet of paper and the group turned its attention to making charts.  (It is unknown if they were sent to Ross Perot for a Nightline appearance.)




Is Not

Social Gathering



A major regional con

Well Planned

Costume Con/Filking Con



Small and declining

Dry (alcohol)


Media or commercial



Accommodating/Tolerant of games and filkers

Tolerant of fringe fandom

Too long (especially to dealers)

Entirely consistent

Accommodating/Tolerant of Goths and asb

Accommodating/Tolerant of Goths and asb

Caused by SF books

Child Friendly


Isn't using its institutional memory

A tradition

A lifestyle

A great place for conversations




Bio of a Pirate Science Fiction Fan


Bucconeer Pirate (Sir Frederick Baltimore)--Young Frederick was mistakenly apprenticed at a young age to a WorldCon bid committee instead of  Earl Don's kid committee by his nurse.  Shortly before turning 21, he discovered that, due to "a most amusing paradox" involving his birthday on February 29th, he would not reach his 21st birthday (the end of his indentures) until the age of 88.  Adjusting to this new life, he took quickly to more piratical aspects of fandom, raiding failed bid committees for their supporters, rigging fanzine mastheads (and elections), firing salvos during Internet flamewars, issuing cutting remarks in committee meetings, and supporting the "Baltimore in '98 bid".  His "take no prisoners" attitude (not to mention his cutlass and pistol) has solved many a hotel negotiation.  Unfortunately, he was forbidden from ever running con security again after his notorious 1978 "boarding and storming" raid of the dealer's room. 


In the world outside fandom he has been a merchantman, a privateer, operetta star, and consultant to the I.R.S. He has been called "a modern Robin Hood who sinks the rich to feed the fish."  In the 1960's he ran a pirate radio station and had a classified role in Vietnam, in the 1970's he labeled ordinary rocks as pet rocks and forged fake smile art and peace symbols, and in the 1980s he was a corporate raider and software pirate.  Currently, he is making a living advising political candidates on stealing their opponent's issues and posing for an occasional romance cover. A skilled computer hacker, he began using Windows '95 in 1994 and runs his own unbreakable brand of UNIX called PIRIX. While his attempts to become a famous science fiction author by copying Hugo winning stories word for word have failed, stories about his own life have sold well to devotees of pirate lore.


His goal for WorldCon 1996 was to free his brother pirates of the Caribbean from their cruel imprisonment at Disneyland and to tell all his fellow fans about the wondrous treasures awaiting them at Bucconeer, WorldCon 1998. 



Internal Factors








Fresh Blood

Lack of Fresh Blood


Practice at Moving/Adjust to New Hotels




Don't Use Membership to Full Advantage


CEO Management Style

One Man Show


Lots of SMOFS



Very Good Dealer's Room

Inefficient Use of Personnel


Spin-offs from Bucconeer

Conflicting commitments to Bucconeer


Not Lunarians

Select Chair By Popularity Not Skill



Hotel Image/Damage Control




External Factors





Hotel Perceptions

Good Dealer's Room


Con Image

Con Image (perhaps older)


Non-contributing hanging-ons

Non-contributors could be turned into participants


Flaking Economy

Professional Friends



Mainstream Media Coverage


Increasing Popularity of SF in Public (No Longer Have to Go to Cons for SF)

Increasing Popularity of SF in Public (Potential New Members)


Last in series of conventions on East Coast






Right Wing and Promise Keepers



Popularity of Memorial Weekend with Other Groups




Asked to cite the biggest issue people said: Inability to stay in place, can't agree on mission, declining membership, not sure what it is to be and its appeal, lack of publicity, no market segment, lack of focus, many noncontributors, lack of institutional memory, lack of attractiveness, lack of consistency, Ramada Inn in New Carrolton, Image, Conflicting Goals, lack of a vision, aging audience, aging membership, big/little tent, uncertain as to whether should grow or not.  Declining membership, lack of vision, age of membership.

These could be summed up as concerns over vision/focus and that of aging/declining membership.

We are not replenishing our own membership.


Strategies for Vision

Define Who We are: But as you narrow the vision you lose people

Don't worry--Don't narrow.

Vision Thing meeting

Develop a committee to investigate vision.

Develop a history of Disclave with what was done, how it worked.  This will show how we worked with these elements.  Opportunity for conversations about SF.  Define and accept the things we are and those we are not.  Own what we are.  There may be outside research, other models, market research.



Strategies on Membership



Lower cost

Stable Location

Mainstream coverage

Publicity outside Northeast

Survey past attendees

Be more accepting of youngsters, bring them in


Avoid competition

Give it a character, be more unique

Become more child-friendly

Outreach to colleges and High Schools (especially to SF clubs)

More accommodating of filkers, gamers, and moviegoers.


John ended by saying vision should come first.  He wants to see a history of Disclave. He suggested a volunteer


committee to come up with vision, consider history, define by exclusion what we are and aren't, look at how we are perceived outside the club, and see what other conventions have as vision.  This would come up with recommendations which may then be ignored.  He asked everyone to write one page summaries of their vision of what Disclave is and should be.  These would be collected to be consolidated into a draft vision statement and turn in copies of everyone's statements.  Mike said the it may be feasible to do drafts, share them, and then do a second round.  We may do a questionnaire at the Disclave Mailing.  


The committee volunteers included bob MacIntosh, Joe Mayhew, Dan Burgess, and Terilee Edwards-Hewitt.  Joe volunteered to collect the statements.  Everyone concerned with Disclave should produce documents. 


Attendance at Special Meeting: Host John Pomeranz, Elspeth and Dan Burgess, 98 Chair Joe Mayhew, Bob MacIntosh, 97 Chair Mike Nelson, Jim and TerileeEdwards-Hewitt, Covert Beach, Bernard Bell, Chris Callahan, Chris Holte, Eric Jablow, Kitty Jesen, Judy Kindell, Paula Lewis, Samuel Lubell, Winton Matthews, John Peacock, Evan Phillips, Sam Pierce, Rebecca Prather, Dick Roepke, George Shaner, William Squire, Colleen Stumbaugh, Mike and Beth Zipser, Mark Gordon.



SF on TV

The Science Fiction television explosion continues this season.  In addition to Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, X-Files etc. we can now watch:



This series promises to be an off-beat fantasy about a person who gets the newspaper each day, -- tomorrow's newspaper.  If this can avoid the problem of where the paper comes from and avoid the obvious (lottery tickets, sports betting, preventing assassinations) this could be interesting. 



A show about Cape Canaveral/Kennedy.  I don't know when it is set or anything about it. 



Scientists versus diseases.  Again, I know nothing.  I don't see how they will avoid making this either a medical show or the super-magical cure all in each episode.


THE PRETENDER (NBC, Saturday 8pm)

A super-genius escapes from his government lab and pretends to be different people using his super-intelligence while running from agents from the lab.  Sort of Fugitive meets Children of the Atom. Hopefully the writers will remember that the main character is superintelligent and not have him stumped by plots the audience can figure out (but this runs into the problem that a character can only be as intelligent as the writer.)



Dan Ackroyd investigates paranormal incidents.  This is another one of those TV dramatizations of "real life." I believe this is played straight. Sort of America's Most Wanted meets the X-Files.


The Archie comic character goes live action.  A GenX Bewitched.


DARK SKIES (NBC, Saturday 7pm but this seems early for a show this dark)

There are aliens here on Earth secretly manipulating us and causing political events.   A young couple finds out the truth and must try to escape.  This is Fugitive meets War of the Worlds.  


MILLENNIUM (FOX, Fridays)  This is described as a scary paranormal drama from X-Files Creator Chris Carter and will take the X-Files time slot while X-Files moves to Sunday.


PROFILER (NBC, Saturday 9pm)

The main character can look at a crime scene and see what happened.  I don't know if the character is supposed be psychic or not.


Contract Still Pending at WSFA Meeting


            At the 8/16 meeting at the Gillilands there was no agenda and no old business.  Covert said the Disclave contract was still pending.  The committee on Disclave's future was announced: Bob MacIntosh, Joe Mayhew, Dan Burgess, and Terilee Edwards-Hewitt.  Joe asked for people's reminiscences of Disclaves past. Dan asked people to say what they don't want to see at a Disclave.  What is a Disclave?  We need to decide.  Joe said that he is certain what a Disclave is to him but not sure if anyone agrees with his definition.  Bill said that it is more important to know what Disclave should be.  Elspeth added that they are interested in what is, was, and should be. John said that people's comments will be the gist for the mill.  The meeting unanimously adjurnred at 9:45.


1996 Hugo Winners Awarded at LAcon



Best Novel

THE DIAMOND AGE by Neal Stephenson


Best Novella

"The Death of Captain Future" by Allen Steele


Best Novelette

"Think Like a Dinosaur" by James Patrick Kelly


 Best Short Story

"The Lincoln Train" by Maureen F. McHugh



Best Non-Fiction Book



Best Dramatic Presentation

"The Coming of Shadows" (Babylon 5)


Best Professional Editor

Gardner Dozois (Surprise!)


Best Professional Artist

Bob Eggleton



Best Original Artwork



Best Semi-Prozine

LOCUS edited by Charles N. Brown


Best Fanzine

ANSIBLE edited by Dave Langford


Best Fan Writer

Dave Langford


Best Fan Artist

William Rotsler


 John W. Campbell Award

 David Feintuch



Attendance 8/16: VP Elspeth Burgess, Sec and 98 Chair Joe Mayhew, Trustee and 97 Chair Mike Nelson, Trustee. Jim Edwards-Hewitt, Bernard Bell, Dan Burgess, Chuck Divine, Terilee Edwards-Hewitt, Alexis and Lee Gilliland, David Grim, Dan Hoey, Kitty Jensen, Judy Kindell, Samuel Lubell, Richard and Nicki Lynch, Winton Matthews, Kathi Overton, Dick Roepke, John Sapienza, George Shaner, Lee Strong, Michael Taylor, Michael Walsh, Madeline Yeh, Joe Hall, Quinn Jones.


Friends to WSFA: In July Robyn and Sylvia Rissell announced they have a new home at: [ censored from the online edition ] Ypsilanti, MI 48198.   (313) 480-2376.  


Also: Good News: Rebecca Prather said she found a camera repairperson who could repair things others can't.  Bad News: He's in Ohio Worse News: He's about to retire. 

Precision Camera Repair. 35 Tulip Rd., Medway Ohio 45341  (513) 849-1756




Like the New WSFA Logo?  Wear it proudly!  Show everyone you know what to do on Friday nights!  Dan Burgess, the creator of the logo on this issue's cover and the WSFA web site is making up T-shirts.  The cost will vary depending on the number created but will not exceed $15.



r     Black

r     Grey

r     Green

r     Sky Blue

r     White

r     Ivory

r     Small

r     Medium

r     Large

r     X-Large


Name: __________________________________

Phone __________________________________

Email  __________________________________

Address: _________________________________






In our continuing serial, the pirate WSFAns have captured the aliens, taken over the ship, but found themselves, inevitably...

Lost In Space

by Samuel Lubell

            "We're in trouble now!" said WSFA's Vice President. "The MEN are trying to drive the spaceship."


            "They'll never ask for directions.  We'll wind up trapped on an episode of Voyager or Lost in Space or something," she replied.

            "So which do you think is the worse show..."

            "Give up?" gloated the villainous editor of the Weekly What News whose control over the aliens was still a mystery to the WSFAns.  "You will never find your way home!" The effect of his melodramatic cackle was ruined by the five fans who had begun humming the theme to Voyager.

            "Oh, I don't think we'll have any trouble" smiled a club officer as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out the Defense Mapping Agency's top-secret Milky Way Galaxy Map.

            The aliens shuddered.  "Where in Uthivrop's name did you get that?" one shouted.

            "He could tell you," one club member began to say.  "But then he'd have to kill you." The other members of WSFA joined in.

            "Now all we have to do is figure out how to run the ship," said WSFA's president.  "I wonder what would happen if I press that red button..."

            The filker in the corner of the ship who began to sing the chorus of "Don't push that button" was too late.  By the time he opened his guitar case, took out his guitar, tuned the strings, sang some scales, and replaced the string that broke, the Prez had already pushed the red button.

            The stars suddenly turned into streaks on the viewscreen like car lights driving the wrong way on the Beltway as seen through a car window that hadn't been cleaned in two years. 

            "Well we've either hit warp speed or hyperdrive", one fan said unnecessarily.  Each human in the room had absorbed enough sf television and movies to understand what had happened to them.

            Gradually the stars faded away and the viewscreen was filled by a huge orange globe.  Off to the side, the WSFAns could see other ships that looked similar to the one they had commandeered.


            "You pushed the emergency return button," the smaller alien said.  "You took us right where we wanted to go."

            "Well if that was the wrong button, then we'll just keep looking until we find one that takes us back!" one fan yelled and then randomly pushed a button.

            "No!" the taller LGM said.  "That's the..."

            A light suddenly appeared on the spaceship, growing larger and larger until it suddenly shot into space toward the planet below.  Within moments the light returned, this time carrying a humanoid figure whose face and rhinestone jacket was instantly familiar to the Earthlings.

            "You!" asked the filker, dropping his guitar in shock. "That's impossible!"

            The newly arrived human took a look around the spaceship, "Oh no!  Not again."  He walked to the right, moved some equipment, and said.  "I thought this ship looked familiar."

            Clearly visible were the graffiti words.  "Elvis was here."

Obviously, To Be Continued