The WSFA Journal

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

Edited by Samuel Lubell

New Year's Resolutions
Web Tangles Slow Motion
Forthcoming Books
Fan Artist Box Scores
Old Ballroom Dancing Injuries and New Flu Shots
The Next Generation Meets Modern Management
Used Reviews

New Year's Resolutions


Through diligent reporting (i.e. spying, reading private diaries and cornering characters at drunken new year's eve parties) The WSFA Journal has been able to bring you the following New Year's Resolutions:


I will not jump out of any more windows - John Sheridan of Babylon Five

I will end the Wheel of Time Series sometime this century - Robert Jordan

I will admit to being a science fiction writer - Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Ursula LeGuin, etc.

We will replace half of our licensed books with backlist titles and out of print SF classics - Publishers of science fiction

We will not have any more aliens cut off all ties to their homeworld and past - Producers of Deep Space Nine

I won't insist on always being the one who saves the universe. - Ender (in Orson Scot Card's books)

I vow to write lots of articles and draw lots of cartoons for the WSFA Journal - The members of WSFA

I will not let my ancestors determine my actions, oh and I will stop using so much spice - Alia Atreides of the Dune Books.

We will not invade Earth again- aliens from practically all of 1996's SF movies (Independence Day, Mars Attacks and even Star Trek: First Contact)

I will read criminals their rights before destroying them - E. E. Doc Smith's Kimball Kinnison

I will talk to other people before jumping to conclusions - practically any Mercedes Lackey character.

I will confess my secret ambition to be a history professor - Harry Turtledove



Web Tangles Slow Motion


The December 6th WSFA meeting at the Gillilands was called to "some semblance" of order somewhat after 9 PM.  There was no business conducted last meeting.  As previously arranged Sam Lubell brought a present (a Christmas Wreath) for the meeting's host and hostess.  "President, could you please present the present."  Many other jokes were made and the wreath replaced the dartboard at the center of the room. The treasurer reported $2,811.60 to which a club member responded. "Let's have a web page."

            The trustees had a bit of news.  Mike Nelson introduced a new member, George Nelson, who not only shares his name, by a curious coincidence also looks and sounds a bit like him.  Disclave '97 (by no coincidence at all also Mike Nelson) reported that "Things are progressing, sort of."  The mailing did not appear (Editor's note: the mailing was performed during the December Bucconeer meeting) due to the "bleating mailing list." (But that should have helped him find names, since in the SF world the Sheep Look Up.) Dan Burgess is doing the four page flyer.  A hotel visit is scheduled for Wednesday the 18th for those interesting in seeing the hotel in its present state. "Present name!" corrected John.  They had a party at Philcon but only 18 people showed up.  "It was the night they premiered Star Trek." Explained Mike. However 300 flyers disappeared. Judy and Rachel are working on getting a guest list.  We are working on a budget.  Someone is interesting in films for us and someone is doing a web page.  But there isn't any one to do dances.  The big event for Saturday Night will be the premiere of Anthony's book and a book signing.  Mike made an appeal to get people comped.  Department heads are supposed to put the names in.

            Disclave '98 (Joe Mayhew) gave a preliminary statement. He is interested in doing a book for Terry Bisson with his short humorous "things."  He plans to get a pro publisher to do the book and buy a copy for each member and then only do a rudimentary souvenir book.  He is looking for volunteers now because he is competing with a certain WorldCon.  Disclave '99 reported he has a guest of honor - Robert Sawyer.

            The entertainment committee was astonished to see Christmas here.  They decorated their home the day after Thanksgiving.  The WSFA Tabernacle Chorus promptly broke into song (but their song did not break any glass.)  The Ad hoc vision thing had nothing to say.  They circulated pictures last time.  Anyone willing to contribute to the Face of WSFA books should see Joe. Then, Karl and Erica Ginter walked in and were presented with their wreath.  Erica stuck her head through the wreath and was pronounced "wreathed in smiles."

            There was some extensive business conducted at the meeting.  President John introduced a motion that WSFA allocate money for a web site and construct a committee to oversee the production of the web pages with elaborate stipulations as to what to do if someone objects to the content. (Editor's note: if the level of response to each issue of the WSFA Journal is any indication, I can't imagine this being much of a problem.) There was lots of debate over provisions for removing pages.  John explained that "if there are thirty voting members and ten don't want it, then I think it shouldn't go up.  Anyone can submit to the committee.  If anyone objects, they go to the club and that part needs a two-thirds vote for it to stay." 

            Alexis committed that "if the committee thinks it objectionable they should go to the club.  May just need a  majority." A motion was made to amend John's resolution so it just takes a majority vote to remove content.  Beth said this was necessary since it was possible to have a majority who supported the content yet the math doesn't work out to two-thirds.

            Joe pointed out that some of this is unconstitutional because it would create an ongoing committee.  Joe said we don't need much of this resolution since we already have a publications committee that can do this.  All we have to do is approve the money, the rest is unnecessary. He said, speaking as secretary, this is too elaborate and uncertain.  The best thing to do is to vote on the money and then appoint people to the publications committee.

            Alexis said that a committee should determine the rules for what to keep so that all the argument is done outside the main meeting. Joe commented that President has the right to make committees.  John admitted, "It's been a while since I read the constitution (That's what Reagan said) what's the publication's committee?"  Joe answered that the publications committee is a remnant of an ugly bit of WSFA history.  The secretary published offensive things in the Journal.  I have decided as secretary not to publish politics and sports scores.  (Editor's subliminal message: But everything else is fair game! Write for the WSFA Journal. <end subliminal message>

            Covert made a motion to retain the part of the motion allocating $100 to establish a WSFA web site and turn the administration over to the publications committee. John accepted that motion.

            Joe said that we cannot apportion money beyond the term of the current president unless we amendment the constitution.  He added that the most recent rewrite of the constitution made amendments quite easy but everyone in the room visibly shied away from that suggestion.

            John pointed out that if we were speaking constitutionally the chairman of a meeting cannot make a motion to begin with.

            The final motion read:

            Move that WSFA spend $100 for a world-wide web site on the Internet to publicize the club and its activities, for members to post information, and to enable club members to make use of the site for fannish activities.

            It was decided that all w need to do is apportion the money.  The president can then appoint a committee that then works out what do.  John offered to cough up the money if this goes over $100.  The motion was carried unanimously.  Welcome to the 21st century.  Anyone wishing to help in this effort should see John.

            Rebecca said she will be hosting Mensa parties on the first Saturday of each month.  "Ah, brainy brunches," said John to the collective groans of the WSFAns. Eager attempts by Rachel to make announcements were ignored.  Finally she was able to announce that:


Eric Baker has sold his first novel to Laura Anne Gilman at Penguin/Roc through Jennifer Jackson of the Don Mass Agency for a hefty four figure advance. Tentative publication date is January 1998 and the title is under negotiation. Laura Anne wants Checkmate so it will probably be that but it was Kriegspiel when Eric wrote it. 

WSFA applauded its new novelist.


Joe announced that he has sold six short stories and doubled his word rate.


A motion to adjourn was unanimously accepted at 10:10.

In attendance (12/5): Pres. John Pomeranz, Sec & 98 Chair Joe Mayhew, Treas. Bob MacIntosh, Trust. & 97 Chair Mike Nelson, 99 Chair Sam Pierce, Eric Baker, Covert Beach, Alexis and Lee Gilliland, David Grimm, Chris Holte, Samuel Lubell, Nicki and Richard Lynch, George Nelson, Lance Oszko, Rebecca Prather, Rachel Russell, Tom Schaad, Michael Walsh, Michael Watkins, and Beth and Mike Zipser.


Forthcoming Books:

A WSFA Journal Exclusive!

By Samuel Lubell

Here is a list of books we can expect to see in the coming year:


The Grocery Lists of J.R.R. Tolkien, by Christopher Tolkien.  The Master of Fantasy's son's project of publishing every word his father ever wrote continues.  Each list in this book is dated and linked to what Tolkien was working on so the reader can find links.  Christopher notes that the hobbits had a bad time of it shortly after each time liver was on the menu. The next volume, The Grade School Papers of J.R.R. Tolkien, should be out in September.


The Silence of the Jheregs by Steven Brust. In which Vlad accepts a commission to kill one person from each of the ruling houses of the cycle, only to find himself on the list.  This poses the problem, how do you collect your blood money after you assassinate yourself? Tired of imitating Dumas, Brust does this book in the style of Miguel de Cervantes.


The Bugs of Pern, by Anne McCaffrey.  In this sequel to Dolphins of Pern etc. Jaxom's son realizes that since every other animal in Pern talks, he should try to talk to the bugs to gain status and overcome the bullying of his foster brother. However, his attempts to become a bugrider fail when each bug becomes squashed when he tries to sit on it.  In a subplot, Pern's knitting industry goes under due to a shortage of Thread.


Bad Covers by Terry Pratchett.  Death visits the houses of American cover designers and those who supervise their work to do away with them in highly amusing ways.  In a subplot Sergeant Colon meets the adopted midget son of two frost giants.  Note: this book cover is the first ever to be done in crayon by the author himself after the first two cover artists declined to do the honors.


Plan 9 From Outer Space by Alan Dean Foster.  The inevitable novelization of a science fiction movie "classic."  At press time, it was not known if the "author" would play the material straight or try to make fun of it.  Nor was it known which result would be funnier.


Sword of Shanana by Terry Brooks. The singers of Shanana discover a magic sword that leads them to low-rent magical kingdom (for sale cheap) where only their swordfighting prowess (or lack of it) and singing skill (ditto) can save them.


Pong by Dafydd Ab Hugh.  The author of books based on Doom tackles the original videogame. While at first you wouldn't think the videogame of Pong had much of a plot, how much plot did Doom have beyond kill the monsters?  The book reveals just why the paddles are batting around that innocent looking ball and just how this ties in with the survival of the human race.


Dune to Death by Frank Herbert.  In this recently discovered sequel to Dune, someone is murdering descendants of the Atreides and only yet another clone of Duncan Idaho can save them by using the mystical spice to unlock his own powers.  Most of this book appears to be scenes cut from the previous volumes.





by Joe Mayhew

                As a two time Fan Artist Hugo loser, I got curious about its history and dug through the old WorldCon (k) souvenir booklets and the like to find out who had been the nominees since it was first given out in 1967 (1996 being the 30th year for this award).


                Here's the raw data, assembled, perhaps for the first time.


FAN ARTIST HUGO (First given in l967)

1967 [Nycon 3, NYC] JACK GAUGHAN (Jeff Jones, Steve Stiles, Arthur Thomson)

1968 [Baycon, Oakland, CA] GEORGE BARR (Johnny Chambers, Jack Gaughan [withdrew] Steve Stiles, Arthur Thomson (ATom), Bjo Trimble

1969 [St.Louiscon] VAUGHN BODE (George Barr, Doug Lovenstein, Tim Kirk, Bill Rotsler)

1970 [Heicon '70, Heidelberg,Germany] TIM KIRK (Alicia Austin, George Barr, Steve Fabian William Rotsler)

1971 [Noreascon 1, Boston] ALICIA AUSTIN (Steve Fabian, Mike Gilbert, Tim Kirk, William Rotsler)

1972 [L.A. Con 1, Los Angeles, CA] TIM KIRK (Alicia Austin, Grant Canfield, Wendy Fletcher, Bill Rotsler)

1973 [Torcon 2, Toronto, Ont] TIM KIRK (Grant Canfield, Bill Rotsler, James Schull, Arthur Thomson (ATom)

1974 [Discon 2, Washington, DC] TIM KIRK (Alicia Austin, ATom (Arthur Thomson), Grant Canfield, Bill Rotsler).

1975 [Aussiecon One, Melbourne] WILLIAM ROTSLER (George Barr, Grant Canfield, James Shull)

1976 [MidAmeriCon, Kansas City] TIM KIRK (Grant Canfield, Phil Foglio, Bill Rotsler, Jim Shull).

1977 [SunCon, Orlando, FL] PHIL FOGLIO (Grant Canfield, Tim Kirk, Bill Rotsler, Jim Shull).

1978 [IguanaCon II, Phoenix] PHIL FOGLIO (Grant Canfield, Alexis Gilliland, Jeanne Gomol).

1979 [Seacon '79, Brighton, UK] BILL ROTSLER (Jim Barker, Harry Bell, Alexis Gilliland, Stu Shiffman).


1980 [Noreascon II, Boston, MA] ALEXIS GILLILAND (Jeanne Gomoll, Joan Hanke-Woods, Victoria Poyser, Bill Rotsler, Stu Shiffman).

1981 [Denvention II, CO] VICTORIA POYSER (Alexis Gilliland, Joan Hanke-Woods,  Bill Rotsler, Stu Shiffman).

1982 [Chicon IV] VICTORIA POYSER (Alexis Gilliland, Joan Hanke-Woods, William Rotsler, Stu Shiffman)

1983 [ConStellation, Baltimore, MD] ALEXIS GILLILAND (Joan Hanke-Woods, William Rotsler, Stu Shiffman, Dan Steffan).

1984 [L.A.Con II, Anaheim, CA] ALEXIS GILLILAND (Brad Foster, Joan Hanke-Woods, William Rotsler, Stu Shiffman).

1985 [Aussiecon II, Melbourne] ALEXIS GILLILAND (Brad Foster, Steven Fox, Joan Hanke-Woods, William Rotsler, Stu Shiffman)

1986 [ConFederation, Atlanta, GA] JOAN HANKE-WOODS (Brad Foster, Steve Fox, William Rotsler, Stu Shiffman).

1987 [Conspiracy'87, Brighton, UK] BRAD FOSTER (ATom, Steve Fox, Stu Shiffman, Taral).

1988 [Nolacon II, New Orleans] BRAD FOSTER (Steve Fox, Teddy Harvia, Merle Insinga, Taral Wayne (MacDonald) Diana Gallagher Wu).

1989 [Noreascon 3, Boston, MA] BRAD W.FOSTER AND DIANA GALLAGHER WU[tie] (Teddy Harvia, Merle Insinga, Stu Shiffman, Taral Wayne

1990 [ConFiction, s'Gravenhagen, Netherlands] STU SHIFFMAN, Steve Fox, Teddy Harvia, Merle Insinga, Joe Mayhew, Taral

1991 [Chicon IV, Chicago] TEDDY HARVIA, Merle Insinga, Peggy Ranson, Stu Shiffman, Diana Stein

1992 [MagiCon, Orlando, Fla] BRAD W. FOSTER, Diana Harlan Stein, Teddy Harvia, Peggy Ranson, Stu Shiffman

1993 [ConFrancisco, San Francisco, CA] PEGGY RANSON, Teddy Harvia, Merle Insinga, Linda Michaels, Diana Harlan Stein

1994 [ConAdian, Winnipeg, Manitoba] BRAD W. FOSTER, Teddy Harvia, Linda Michaels, Peggy Ranson, Stu Shiffman.

1995 [Intersection, Glasgow, Scotland) TEDDY HARVIA, Brad W. Foster, Linda Michaels, Peggy Ranson, Bill Rotsler.

1996 [LACon III, Los Angeles, CA] WILLIAM ROTSLER, Teddy Harvia, Joe Mayhew, Peggy Ranson, Ian Gunn.


Thus, in 30 years, 35 people have been nominated and 15 have won.  Which I've shown in alphabetical order, with a win indicated by a four digit underlined date.


Alicia Austin 70, 1971, 72, 74

Jim Barker 79

George Barr 1968, 69, 70, 75

Harry Bell 79

Vaughan Bode 1969

Grant Canfield 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78

Johnny Chambers 68

Steve Fabian 70, 71

Wendy Fletcher 72

Phil Foglio 76, 1977, 1978

Brad Foster 84, 85, 86, 1987, 1988, 1989(tie), 1992, 1994, 95

Steve Fox 85, 86, 87, 88, 90

Diana Gallagher Wu 88, 1989(tie)

Jack Gaughan 1967, (nominated but removed self 68)

Alexis Gilliland 78, 79, 1980, 81, 82, 1983, 1984, 1985

Mike Gilbert 71

Jeanne Gomol 78, 80

Ian Gunn 96

Joan Hanke-Woods 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 1986

Teddy Harvia {David Thayer] 88, 89, 90, 1991, 92, 93, 94, 1995, 96

Merle Insinga 88, 89, 90, 91, 93

Jeff Jones 67

Tim Kirk 69, 1970, 71, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 77

Doug Lovenstein 69

Joe Mayhew 90, 96

Victoria Poyser 80, 1981, 1982

Peggy Ranson 91, 92, 1993, 94, 95, 96

Bill Rotsler 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 1975, 76, 77, 1979, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 95, 1996

Stu Shiffman 79, 80, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 89, 1990, 91, 92, 94

Jim Shull 75, 76, 77

Dan Steffan 83

Steve Stiles 67, 68

Arthur Thomson (ATom) 67, 68, 73, 74

Taral (Wayne MacDonald)  87, 88, 89, 90

Bjo Trimble 68                                      


                As you see, Tim Kirk and Brad Foster at five Hugos each lead the pack (though, to be fair, Foster's 1989 Hugo was a tie with Diana Gallagher Wu). Alexis Gilliland is next with four, Bill Rotsler follows with three, Phil Foglio, Teddy Harvia and Victoria Poyser each have won twice. Vaughan Bode and Jack Gaughan each won the first and only time they were eligible [Gaughan asked that his name be removed when it was nominated again in 1968).  Alicia Austin, George Barr, Diana Gallagher Wu, Joan Hanke-Woods, Peggy Ranson, and Stu Shiffman got one rocket each.


                Ah, but as a loser, I'd like to point out some further stats:


Multiple nominees in order of number of losses:


                                    nom      wins      losses

Rotsler                          19         3          16

Shiffman                        14         1          13

Harvia                           9         2          7

Canfield             7         0          7

Hanke-Woods                7         1          6

Fox                               5         0 5

Insinga                          5         0          5

Ranson                         6         1 5

ATom                            4         0           4

Taral                             4         0 4

Gilliland             8         4          4

Foster                           9         5 4

Kirk                              8         5 3

Austin                           4         1          3

Barr                              4         1 3

Shull                             3         0 3

Fabian                          2         0 2

Gomol                           2         0 2

Mayhew                        2         0 2

Stiles                            2         0           2

Foglio                           3         2          1

Poyser                          3         2          1



                Thus Bill Rotsler, at 16 losses (The list of Rotsler's losses is longer than the list of winners), is the all-time champ, while Stu Shiffman at 13, gets the silver.  A special award ought to have been given to Grant Canfield for his 7-0 record, bronze to Fox and Insinga. Gilliland's 4-4 is sadly ambiguous, while Taral's 4-0 is righteously consistent  (I really wouldn't mind losing my own consistency in this statistic). Perhaps someone else can put all of this into perspective or dazzle your readers with the stats for another category. I wonder who has the over-all record for Hugo losses?

Old Ballroom Dancing Injuries and New Flu Shots


            The last WSFA meeting in 1996, at the Ginters on December 20, was snarled to order at 21:15 WSFA standard time by Vice President Elspeth Burgess, bad knee at all.  Disclave present wasn't. Bob said he is supposed to say we have $2,811.60.  "Can we have a Christmas Party?" pleaded Lee. Alexis announced that the entertainment committee has two inches of ice outside his door. "skating rink" and "ludge run" suggested WSFAns.  Joe said that we did a walkthrough of the hotel and are planning on putting the art show upstairs.  (Is that what the PBS show Upstairs, Downstairs was about.)  Trustee Candy said "I have nothing to report but you should impeach me because I haven't been attending meetings."  No one took her up on that offer.  Disclave '98 had nothing to report and far future was far out. 

The resolution that passed last meeting was read. Someone said that John has contacted one of the people who has offered us web space, no response yet.

            Keith announced that "Carl Sagan's loss was felt by billions and billions."  Elspeth reported that her knee brace was from an old ballroom dancing injury acting up. She also said that she is now gainfully employed at the Crown Bookstore in Bethesda.  Envious noises were made by the crowd. Erica recommends that everyone get flu shots; this year's flu is not fun.

            The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 with no business conducted. Present were: VP Elspeth Burgess, Sec & 98 Chair Joe Mayhew, Trust. Candy Meyers. Covert and Natalie Beach, Bernard Bell, Alexis and Lee Gilliland, Joe Hall, Dan Hoey, Eric Jablow, Bill Jensen, Samuel Lubell, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Keith Marshall, Lance Oszko, Bill Parmer, Dick Roepke, George Shaner, Michael Taylor, Michael Walsh, Michael Watkins.



The Next Generation Meets Modern Management


The following was sent to me as part of Scott Adams' Dilbert Newsletter:


Saint Diana of Wales offers this vision of what the 24th century would be like under today's management techniques.


After the crew is told they are now Empowered, Dr. Crusher begins doing medical experiments on unsuspecting enlisted personnel while Worf slaughters everyone he considers "weak".

Data fails an ISO9000 audit because the construction of his positronic brain isn't properly documented. He curses Dr. Suhn's record keeping as he's stripped for parts.

All members of the ship's maintenance crew are required to be involved in Quality Circles. The loss of productive work time causes them to cut back on scheduled repairs, resulting in a warp core breach that kills everyone.

Commander Riker is fired after a round of "right sizing". Star Fleet decided that it didn't really need someone to seduce alien females and smirk a lot.

As part of the new Dignity Enhancement program, Picard is forced to allow Troi to wear uniforms that cover her breasts.

Star Fleet decides to adopt the Borg "Team Building" methods and requires all newborn babies to be implanted with computer interface devices. As a bonus this cuts down on carpal tunnel disability claims.

The Enterprise finds that it can no longer communicate with Star Fleet Command because they're still running an old version of Windows and can't get budget approval for the upgrade.

As part of a cycle time reduction plan, the crew is ordered to cut the time necessary to encounter and escape from new life forms from once a week to 5 days a week. A re-use program is introduced under the nickname RERUNS (Reap Earnings and Royalties Using No-longer-produced Shows).

Picard is ordered to go to diversity sensitivity training after system logs indicate that he has repeatedly disparaged the Ferengis, the Q and the Romulans.

A ship-wide reorganization results in Worf becoming the ship's counselor,  Dr. Crusher taking over the engine room, Deanna managing weapons, Data running sick bay and Geordi at the helm. They were conquered by a Klingon freighter 15 minutes later.

The crew mutinies when they are given their annual performance reviews and find that, despite saving the universe numerous times, they're still only getting 3% raises.


Used Reviews

The purpose of most book reviews is to report on books that are newly out in order that the reader can make a decision as to what to buy.  In that respect, this review will be useless since the books being reviewed here are out of print and can only be obtained at a library or used bookstore.  However, they are well worth tracking down.

Pamela Dean's fiction never seems to stay in print long, but her Secret Country trilogy seemed to flash out of print almost before it was published.  While I have been able to find occasional copies of the first book The Secret Country (Ace) at conventions, years of searching have been unable track down the sequels The Hidden Land and The Whim of the Dragon. (Thanks to Steven desJardins for lending me copies.) The books are essentially a children's story about a group of cousins who spend every summer playing an elaborate game they call "The Secret Country" which is a magical play whose plot they write as they go along.  When one summer the cousins are not together each family finds a magic sword that takes them into a real version of the Secret Country where they find themselves living the very plot they had been playacting.  While this may seem familiar, Dean throws in several twists. First, the characterization is very real and vivid. Second, the children find the plot they had developed, involving the poisoning of the king, quite different when they actually are living it and get to the characters as people, so they strive to prevent it from taking place.  Third, this secret country isn't quite the way they have imagined it, so even while the children squabble about who invented what and whose fault each new problem is, there is a subtle undertone of menace.  There are questions as to whether they invented the Secret or if somehow its magic touched them even while they were living in the real world. 

But what starts as a unique chance for some invaders from reality to visit their fantasies turns more serious when the swords that they use to travel back home are taken away from them by well meaning adults who don't want children meddling with magical objects.  There are constant efforts to maintain the pretense that they are the their Secret Country counterparts despite their having given the fictional versions of themselves different physical characteristics and personalities. Unlike books of similar type, the characters constantly have to think about playacting their roles and constantly debate what to do:

"You think you're unhappy," said Patrick. "Ted and I have a fencing lesson with Randolph first thing tomorrow, and he thinks he's been teaching Ted for three years and me for one, and we don't know anything about it at all."

      "Well," said Ellen, "we don't know anything about the history of the Outer Isles, either."

      "The what?"

      "The Outer Isles. I made them up one day when it rained and you guys were all playing cards."

      "How many more things like that are we going to run into?" demanded Patrick. "If I'd had any idea you were all going around making things up on your own-"

      "Weren't you?" asked Ellen


      "You're weird."

Most important is the quality of her writing.  Dean has shown in her other books a love of Shakespeare and quotes. Here it is clear that the children, despite their young ages, have read Shakespeare and other classic works of fantasy and have incorporated them into their game.  While the writing style is fairly simple, it is classically effective.

The first two books are very similar and essentially one storyline. The third book is darker with some of the characters knowing that the children came from our world and their dead counterparts and other voices speaking with them.  In addition one person is shocked to find hidden aspects to her character's personality and one of the children from our world even dies - sort of.

This series is highly recommended and well worth the effort of finding it. These books are certainly not just for children.

Fool on the Hill (Atlantic Monthly Press) is astonishing, especially considering that the author was only 22 when he wrote this (although he does not appear to have published anything in the 9 years since.) This is one of those everything but the kitchen sink novels: talking dogs and cats (who have a war between the pure `breeds and the mutts), people who can control the wind, the little people -sprites- who fly miniature airplanes, an author who can manipulate reality and his support staff of monkeys at typewriters, a killer mannequin, a fraternity called Tolkien House, and much much more.  This is a book full of wonders, the chief among them that it all holds together.

In the novel several plots converge at Cornell University. A dog goes to Cornell thinking it is heaven, an evil crossbreed between rat and sprite is promised unlimited power, a young bohemian is forced to confront his past, and a struggling author gains the power to rewrite reality and wins the love of a fair maiden.  Much of the book is a series of seemingly unconnected episodes that may take too long to reach a coherent plot.  Fortunately, the journey itself is so much fun and the voice of the writing so pure that it doesn't matter.

Much of the book is indescribable.  Think of a cross between Tam Lin and Winter's Tale but with more characters and action.  There is real danger here but also a strong sense of magic not noticed by most of the characters. This book is highly recommended.


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