The Official Newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction
Association -- ISSN 0894-5411
Edited by Samuel Lubell firstname.lastname@example.org
Boston Moves to Florida
While the SMOFs Away, the WSFAns Will Play
The Evil Overlord's New Year's Resolutions
That's the Check, Mate
1998 Year in Review
The Two Party System
Edited by Samuel Lubell email@example.com
The following is a Boston in 2001 Press Release:
Massachusetts Convention Fandom, Inc. Box 1010 Framingham, MA 01701
For immediate release December 26, 1997
MCFI, continuing our efforts to provide fandom with the very best Worldcons, wishes to announce that we will change our bid venue to Orlando, Florida in 2001, to offer Worldcon voters the best currently available prices and location on the East Coast.
Over the past months, we have negotiated with Boston area hotel and convention groups to bring you a fourth outstanding Noreascon. All of the hotels and convention centers in our area have expressed great interest in having us - and all of them have offered us the same rates they are getting from other convention groups. We don't believe fandom can afford them.
The Boston Sheraton Hotel & Towers, site of the three previous Noreascons (1971, 1980 and 1989), offered us a first option with average room rates, in 2001 figures, of over $200. In order to use this fine facility, we would also be required to hold the equivalent of a 700-person banquet every night of the convention to reach the minimum planned food and beverage requirement.
We explored three other possible sites in Boston: one was booked for our weekend; the other two offered us first options which were at or higher than the prices we were given by the traditional Noreascon site.
We believe that fandom deserves the best choice for its annual "family reunion" - the Worldcon.
We believe that, with current rate structures in the northern part of the East Coast, Orlando, Florida provides the highest quality at the most affordable price.
Orlando has two exciting choices for us: the site which was used by MagiCon in 1992, and a second facility at Disney World.
The MagiCon site includes the Orange County Convention Center (now considerably expanded) and several area hotels. They have offered us attractive room rates averaging $109 in 1998, proven Worldcon facilities, a renovated convention center space, and more restaurant and shopping choices (There is a new shopping mall.).
As we talked to that site, a facility at Disney World contacted us with an unsolicited offer which would use the Swan and the Dolphin, two hotels within walking distance to Epcot. These properties (one a Westin, the other a Sheraton), include considerable exhibit and meeting space, room rates of about $119 in 1998, free transportation within Disney.
MCFI has asked its presupporters and friends for their advice on which of these two excellent sites we should select. We are also interested in hearing from others, by snail mail to our postal address or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find additional information on our World Wide Web page at: http://world.std.com/~sbarsky/location.html.
Please join us as we look forward to the new millennium. We believe that every Worldcon needs a bit of magic.
The 12/5 First Friday at the Gillilands went bang bang at 9:18. John said it was underattended because the SMOFs are out smoffing at smofcon. "See if anyone upstairs wants to fill these chairs." There was no treasurer. "Did Disclave Past get any money?" asked John. "No" said Mike Nelson. "Bad boy" said John.
There was no old business. Disclave past (Mike) said plaintively, "It's past, what do you want from me?" "Money!" roared a voice from the crowd. Joe reported that Disclave '98 has 245 members, many of whom we thank Mike Nelson for. The Rest are people who bought memberships. His mailing had 125-45 bad addresses. Some members came in from the flyers. There are still lots of openings. Colin Stumbaugh will coordinate the con suite. She's a good manager. Covert is doing parties and hopes to turn the fourth floor into a party floor. There is a plan to put beer in one room. By law, we will have to supervise so the beer may not leave the room. There is no smoking generally but if there are some smoking rooms on that floor we might be able to use them for that purpose. He has bios from all guests but no art.
The entertainment committee opened the MCI center and Steven Spielberg's new film Amistad. It also picked up squid and mutant coconut which will be served later, since he thought a SF club would be interested in eating mutants. "Sometimes you feel like a nut" yelled a voice. Eric announced the trustees are in a pre-emptive strike (since John doesn't call on him anyway.)
There was no new business. Chuck Divine announced his procrastinator's New Year's Eve party at 8 o'clock on January 31st (see map). The meeting was adjourned at 9:32.
Present: Pres. John Pomeranz, Sec. Samuel Lubell, Trust. Michael Nelson, '98 Chair Joe Mayhew, 2000 Chair Covert Beach, Bernard Bell, Chuck Divine, Alexis and Lee Gilliland, Eric Jablow, Keith Lynch, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Keith Marshall, Walter Miles, Lance Oszko, Kathi Overton, George Shaner, Steven Smith, Michael Taylor, and James Uba
Humor from the Internet (continued)
76.I will design fortress hallways with no alcoves or protruding structural supports which intruders could use for cover in a firefight.
77.Bulk trash will be disposed of in incinerators, not compactors. And they will be kept hot, with none of that nonsense about flames going through accessible tunnels at predictable intervals.
78.I will see a competent psychiatrist and get cured of all extremely unusual phobias and bizarre compulsive habits which could prove to be a disadvantage.
79.If I must have computer systems with publicly available terminals, the maps they display of my complex will have a room clearly marked as the Main Control Room. That room will be the Execution Chamber. The actual main control room will be marked as Sewage Overflow Containment.
80.My security keypad will actually be a fingerprint scanner. Anyone who watches someone press a sequence of buttons or dusts the pad for fingerprints then subsequently tries to enter by repeating that sequence will trigger the alarm system.
81.No matter how many shorts we have in the system, my guards will be instructed to treat every surveillance camera malfunction as a full-scale emergency.
82.I will spare someone who saved my life sometime in the past. This is only reasonable as it encourages others to do so. However, the offer is good one time only. If they want me to spare them again, they'd better save my life again.
83.All midwives will be banned from the realm. All babies will be delivered at state-approved hospitals. Orphans will be placed in foster-homes, not abandoned in the woods to be raised by creatures of the wild.
84.When my guards split up to search for intruders, they will always travel in groups of at least two. They will be trained so that if one of them disappears mysteriously while on patrol, the other will immediately initiate an alert and call for backup, instead of quizzically peering around a corner.
85.If I decide to test a lieutenant's loyalty and see if he/she should be made a trusted lieutenant, I will have a crack squad of marksmen standing by in case the answer is no.
86.If all the heroes are standing together around a strange device and begin to taunt me, I will pull out a conventional weapon instead of using my unstoppable superweapon on them.
87.I will not agree to let the heroes go free if they win a rigged contest, even though my advisors assure me it is impossible for them to win.
88.When I create a multimedia presentation of my plan designed so that my five-year-old advisor can easily understand the details, I will not label the disk "Project Overlord" and leave it lying on top of my desk.
89.I will instruct my Legions of Terror to attack the hero en masse, instead of standing around waiting while members break off and attack one or two at a time.
90.If the hero runs up to my roof, I will not run up after him and struggle with him in an attempt to push him over the edge. I will also not engage him at the edge of a cliff. (In the middle of a rope-bridge over a river of molten lava is not even worth considering.)
91.If I have a fit of temporary insanity and decide to give the hero the chance to reject a job as my trusted lieutenant, I will retain enough sanity to wait until my current trusted lieutenant is out of earshot before making the offer.
92.I will not tell my Legions of Terror "And he must be taken alive!" The command will be "And try to take him alive if it is reasonably practical."
93.If my doomsday device happens to come with a reverse switch, as soon as it has been employed it will be melted down and made into limited-edition commemorative coins.
94.If my weakest troops fail to eliminate a hero, I will send out my best troops instead of wasting time with progressively stronger ones as he gets closer and closer to my fortress.
95.If I am fighting with the hero atop a moving platform, have disarmed him, and am about to finish him off and he glances behind me and drops flat, I too will drop flat instead of quizzically turning around to find out what he saw.
96.I will not shoot at any of my enemies if they are standing in front of the crucial support beam to a heavy, dangerous, unbalanced structure.
97.If I'm eating dinner with the hero, put poison in his goblet, then have to leave the table for any reason, I will order new drinks for both of us instead of trying to decide whether or not to switch with him.
98.I will not have captives of one sex guarded by members of the opposite sex.
99.I will not use any plan in which the final step is horribly complicated, e.g. "Align the 12 Stones of Power on the sacred altar then activate the medallion at the moment of total eclipse." Instead it will be more along the lines of "Push the button."
100.I will make sure that my doomsday device is up to code and properly grounded.
by Joe Mayhew
Patrick Stewart, before Star Trek, was a repertory player on Masterpiece Theater, showing up on I, Claudius; Smiley's People, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. His Live Theater credits are extensive, and particularly Shakespearian. Thus it is not, of itself, surprising that he would take on Othello. After all, Lawrence Olivier and many other white actors have blackened up to play the Moor.
However, the conceit of this production is a sort of photographic negative in which Othello is white and the rest of the cast is black. A clever idea, but not one which flows logically from the play. It is a good way to give black actors good roles, but unfortunately does not seem to attract black audiences (there were about 4 blacks at the SRO December 21st Matinee performance).
The lines referring to Othello's thick lips, black skin, etc., were left unchanged, so that the blacks were playing whites somewhat in parody. The costumes were more-or-less contemporary (Othello wore a wrist watch), but more Afro-American than Venetian of any era. The military wore purple outfits which looked like highschool band uniforms. Stewart, at times, looked like the drummer in an unsuccessful garage band, complete with ear-clips, a scalp tattoo, and a boar's tooth on a string. Roderigo [Jimon Cole] wore a series of Steppin Fetchit homeboy suits: bowling trophy pink in one scene, dimestore green in another, and was played for Comedy.
Montano [George Causil - a non-black!], in Shakespeare, "Othello's predecessor in the Government of Cyprus," was re-cast as the local chief of police, is wounded, not for intervening in the fight between Cassio and Roderigo, but in a rather out-of- character resulting knife brawl. The local Cypriots wore orange baggy uniforms worthy of the three stooges, there were two or three other whites among the Cypriot police, and Bianca, Cassio's whore was also white. Perhaps it was racism in a good cause (theater), but it didn't give any useful dimension to the play.
In the first scene, TV's Ron Canada bellowed out his lines in great wooden blocks, which lacked nuance, or much of the sense of what his character was getting at. The minor players had the usual small theater players' hollow puffiness and blockish delivery. It was a real pleasure to hear Patrick Stewart's finely sculptured voice, delivering not only the words but their sense as well. His voice was often more from the strings than the from the brass, while large and projected without strain.
His costumes were disconcerting, in particular the green whatever grease painted above his ear on his bald scalp. But the local company seems committed to reinterpreting rather than merely representing Shakespeare, and this of course leads to "bold concepts" and "statements."
Desdemona's father is dressed as a sort of 19th century Anglican bishop. In Catholic Venice one would expect clergymen to be more discrete concerning their children. It was a bad move away from Shakespeare. Doubtless it made a "statement."
The set was rather impressive: a simple, canted floor (paved with real flagstone) with a large door at the center, and portions of the side walls which, for Venice, had windows. The window sections were removed for the scenes in Cyprus, exposing sky and flags. The stage furniture was ninja-ed on and off, at one point canvas folding-cots were being tossed around like indian pins. None was dropped. The only thing to dampen one's enthusiasm for the set was that in the first scene, and final, a mist of rain was sprayed down onto the stage. It could be felt in the third row (no umbrellas were provided).
One very effective touch was Desdemona's entrance for the last scene. She crosses stage front pulling a huge white drape, it drags into sculpted folds and suggests both bed and death.
Desdemona [Patrice Johnson] was somewhat uneven. At times she seemed to be struggling with the words, but, when she slowed down for the real drama, she was quite good.
Othello was produced in two acts. After the intermission, it was announced that Ron Canada could not continue, due to problems with his throat (which may have accounted for his blockish delivery in the first scene). His replacement, Chad L. Coleman, carried the part well, but not particularly so.
Francelle Stewart Dorn's Emilia was finely edged and heartfelt. It is a difficult role, but a rewarding one, when in the right hands. Dorn managed to make the audience understand why she gave Othello's Napkin (Desdemona's handkerchief) to her husband, Iago. She conveyed the feeling that she was always just about to tell, but yearning for her husband's love, kept her from it. She played it with more complexity than the usual battered wife or simpleton versions.
There was, from time to time, something about the cadences of Stewart's deliver, a coloring from Verdi's Otello, particularly noticeable in the "Farewell to Arms." It wasn't obvious or mawkish, just rather effective.
"Y'all hush up now," said the WSFA president imported from Virginia. "Hey y'all women in the kitchen hush up." "No cookies for you!" said hostess Erica. "I'm feeling my roots," John replied. [I didn't know he was a tree.] He then called the 12/19 Third Friday meeting at the Ginters to order at 9:15.
There was no old business. There was no treasurer. John suspected a secret dinner party and instructed the club to say "scoff, scoff" when he appears. The trustees had nothing to say, but then Mike Nelson thought of something, "Think of running for President" said Mike Nelson.
Disclave past said it is all set now that his treasurer has shown up. "Think of Disclave as a pleasant, but damp, memory," he said. Then in an official tone. "Disclave wishes to transfer its remaining funds to WSFA, $6,069.94." That's when the treasurer walked in. "Too, late, it's mine now." said John. The club scoffed at the late treasurer. It scoffed at Steve Smith but apologized.
Joe said that Disclave has 254 members and 154 flyers were returned. He is talking to our guests. He doesn't know if Terry Bisson will bring his own cast for the play. He is recruiting people to work on the con so come by and talk. He will seduce you to the dark side of the workforce. Covert is doing parties. Joe said he looks forward to all of us coming and then started pleading with everyone to do something. Disclave future had nothing to report. Far Future said, "No news is good news." The entertainment committee said it brought us the Winter Solstice. Elspeth asked if the lion in Florida was his. Alexis responded saying "It's not my fault."
John said that he's vamping Mac. The treasurer reported that he went to Hoonan with the check. The treasurer stands at $9,126.78. There was (once again) no new business.
Sam Lubell announced that a book he helped write, How to Use Problem-Based Learning in the Classroom by Bob Delisle has been published by ASCD. Eric Baker announced his book Checkmate has been published by Penguin/ROC. Face it out at bookstores. Richard Lynch had cake to celebrate the new issue of the Hugo-winning Mimosa and announced that his "Postcard Diary of Eastern Europe" can be found at http://smithway.org/eurodiary
A motion to adjourn was unanimously passed at 9:37.
Present: Pres. John Pomeranz, VP Elspeth Burgess, Sec. Samuel Lubell, Treas Bob MacIntosh, Trust. Michael Nelson, Trust. Michael Walsh, '98 Chair Joe Mayhew, '99 Chair Sam Pierce, Eric Baker, Bernard Bell, Santa Claus, Chuck Divine, Alexis and Lee Gilliland, Erica and Karl Ginter, Eric Jablow, Judy Kindell, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Keith Marshall, Judah Macabee, George Nelson, Barry Newton, Meridel Newton, Lance Oszko, Juan Sanmiguel, George Shaner, Michael Taylor, Ginny Tracy, Michael Watkins, Rachel Russell
1998 was quite a year for D.C. science fiction fandom. In any other year Disclave would have been THE big event of the science fiction world, seeing that it was the site of the reemergence of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein who apparently faked their deaths to be able to devote their full energies on a collaboration. Not to be outdone Harlan Ellison passed out free copies of his completed Last Dangerous Visions, revealing that the reason for its delay was his intention to include every science fiction story ever published (it ships on 10 cd-rom discs). Unfortunately, there were a few problems with the hotel. Falling back on his academic training (and recent reading of Jack Faust) Disclave Chair Joe Mayhew cut a deal with the devil to prevent a wet reoccurrence of last year's flood. As a result, there was no water at all anywhere in the hotel. Fans and pros rose to the challenge of drinking beer for breakfast (what else is new?), not showering (ditto), and using the woods behind the hotel for their necessary functions. Under the circumstances, no one was surprised to learn that the hotel did not invite us back. This proved not to be a problem as Disclave made such a huge profit that we were able to buy our own hotel and modify it to suit Disclave's needs perfectly.
The other big event was Bucconeer. Opening ceremonies took place in the Inner Harbor aboard a giant sailing pirate ship. The pirates attempted to hijack the Aquarium but were beaten back by a bunch of fans dressed as the Chanur and Babylon 5 Space Rangers. The Mayor of Baltimore declared the week official Bucconeer week and was observed asking the pirates for suggestions on how to raid the state treasury. Fans filled up all the hotels and most of the surrounding neighborhoods. There was carousing in the streets, authors held mass readings of entire books at local bars, and the whole event was so much fun that fandom unanimously declared that Baltimore should do this every single year. (The sound you hear is Peggy Rae screaming as she reads this.)
The Hugo winners came as a complete surprise to all. No one expected Curious George Goes to Mars to win best novel. Breaking with past tradition, JMS allowed all nominated episodes of Babylon 5 to stay in contention, and was shocked when that strategy backfired, enabling an episode of Xena to win best dramatic production even though no one would admit to voting for it. Fans were also shocked when the same author won both the Hugo for best short story and the Bucconeer student writer contest.
It was a good year for science fiction media. Observing the success of Babylon 5, every network decided to counter with well written, imaginative, coherent science fiction series. Disney's ABC produced Roger Rabbit's World which dealt with the philosophical problems and cultural clashes of a world where cartoons and ordinary humans coexist. FOX followed the X-Files with the Y-Cases and the Z-Folders. They had Simpsons in Space about a blue collar family in an orbital habitat. "Bart! Don't open that airlock! Aieee!" They also revived Sliders but hired real science fiction authors to do the script writing. NBC made series out of Pat Anthony's Brother Termite about aliens running the President and her Happy Policeman about a Twin-Peaks style town cut off from the rest of the world by mysterious (and very alien) aliens. CBS had a maxi-series based on the Lensmen books and developed a series about space explorers that use real science. Major films included Foundation, Ender's Game, The Gods Themselves, Lazarus Long, The Snow Queen, Only Begotten Daughter, A Plague of Angles, A Fire Upon the Deep, and The Riddle Master of Hed.
It was also quite a year for science fiction books. People with stock in paper mills did very well as Robert Jordan announced that each of the next six books in his World of Time series will be longer than the phone book, then, once he gets rid of that subplot, "the remaining 20 volumes will be real long." Orson Scott Card had another Ender novel (set between Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead) and finished off the Alvin Maker series. Joan D. Vinge published The Autumn Princess set in her Snow Queen universe. David Brin finally told us what happened to the spaceship in Startide Rising . And, publishers decided to make out of print books available on the Internet for a small fee that goes directly to the authors. First up, the complete Lafferty story collection. Bridge Publications announced that it would expand its line of new novels by dead authors by publishing new books by Heinlein and Asimov. The two authors promptly protested (after the reappearance at Disclave, of course)
Other science fiction conventions did very well, although nowhere near as well as Disclave, of course. Lunacon had a big hit with its hologram map of the hotel. "At last, it all makes sense!" fans were observed saying. Philcon made good use of Ben Franklin's Time Machine to bring historical figures to debate science fiction authors. Boston's attempt to move the Worldcon for 2001 to Florida was trumped by Philadelphia's offer to move the Worldcon to the moon, and provide free transportation. The domes are being set up now.
Millennial fever began to rise as we approached 1999, despite efforts of mathematicians to remind everyone that the millennium starts in 2001, not 2000. Political wisdom was shocked in the 1998 congressional elections as voters rejected both Republicans and Democrats to elect independent candidates in record numbers. Here in Washington, the Control Board, after proving it couldn't run the schools or the police, tried to take over the FBI, CIA, Congress, the White House, and WSFA. Political figures were shocked by Newtigate, an effort by political lobbyists to influence Congress by buying copies of Newt's awful science fiction novel.
In the world outside science fiction a strange vehicle was observed exploring Mrs. Jones rock garden, conducting chemical tests and taking photographs. In addition, NASA scientists were shocked when a spaceship landed and threw out the Mars Pathfinder with a note asking us to keep our radio controlled toys to ourselves and to clean up our messes when we are done. (Another note thanked us for the science fiction stories on the cd we sent up with the Pathfinder.) Also this year, the Internet was expanded when people realized it could be modified with compression algorithms to send information ten times as quickly. The phone, cable, and publishing industries promptly collapsed.
Yep, 1998 was quite a year. I can't wait to see what 1999 will bring.
Chuck Divine is a firm believer in the two party system.
So Chuck is announcing his next two parties NOW!
The first is his annual Christmas party. This party will be held on Saturday, December 20th.
The second is the Second Annual Procrastinators' New Year's Eve party. This party will be held on Saturday, January 31st. As last year, we will be showing the ball drop on Times Square, courtesy of VCR taping. There will also be champagne for toasting.
Both parties will begin at 8 PM. Both will have the usual assortment of things to eat and drink.
Come and celebrate with us!
Where: Chuck Divine's
Address: [censored], Seabrook, Maryland 20706.
I will have balloons out front. Park in any unnumbered spot. Numbered spots are reserved for residents. If we fill up the parking lot, there is more space out on [censored] Drive.