The Official Newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction
Association -- ISSN 0894-5411
Edited by Samuel Lubell email@example.com
New SF Television
Waiting for GoDisclave
Deep Space Nine Unleashed
The Devniad Reviews Bucconeer Part I
He Still Walks This Earth
Bill Gates versus the Borg
Review of Days of Cain
Borders Presents Pat Cadigan
Treats that Trick: Puns for Hollow Weenies.
Edited by Samuel Lubell firstname.lastname@example.org
Once again, science fiction and fantasy has taken over the airwaves. Here's a list of what I can find out about the new shows.
Batman Beyond. WB, Saturdays. An animated Batman of the future.
Brimstone. Fox Tuesdays. Dead cop makes a literal deal with the devil to track down demons. It is supposed to be very dark.
Charmed. WB, Wednesdays. I think this is a drama/comedy about three good witches fighting bad magical creatures. Think Buffy meets Sabrina.
The Crow: Stairway to Heaven. Syndicated. Like the movie, loud music and violence.
Crusade. TNT. Not starting until 1999, this sequel to Babylon 5 has the crew of the Excalibur searching for a cure for an alien plague.
Cupid. ABC Saturdays. God of love (or is he just crazy) must match 100 couples to regain his god status. This is the 90s Love Boat to match the revamped Fantasy Island.
Disney's Hercules. ABC, Saturdays. Based on the movie. Zero to hero in training.
Fantasy Island. ABC Saturdays. This one is being heavily promoted as different from the old 70s show, with a darker tone. The fantasies will be of the you get what you wish for but... variety. It has the Jewish lawyer from Picket Fences so it has one plus in my book.
Highlander: The Raven. Syndicated. A Highlander show without the highlander. This one features a former Miss America as an immortal thief. Fewer swordfights. This is billed as Highlander meets Moonlighting. The first episode was okay, not great.
Mercy Point. UPN Tuesdays. A hospital in space. I don't really see the point. If the show only features doctors, it doesn't really matter where the operating room is located or how much make-up someone is wearing. Still this is one of only three new real SF shows.
Seven Days. UPN, Wednesdays. This is a time travel show but the time travel only goes back 7 days (we'll see how long that limitation stays). It may have time travel but I suspect it is simply to move the hero back, after which he relies on regular technology. And there better be a good explanation why whatever group funding this doesn't have a support team who understand the situation enough to believe the statements of the guy from a week in the future.
Stargate SG-1. Syndicated. Based on the movie that I thought silly and overrated. Travel round the universe and fight Egyptian gods.
Young Hercules. Saturdays Fox. The adventures of Hercules (from the syndicated show of the same name) when he and pals were all boys.
The September 4th meeting took place at the Gillilands but not with the Gillilands. James Uba played host (and did so very well.) "Why don't we start the meeting. It's 9:17 by my watch," said Judy. "Any old business?" "Joe is not here. And there is a letter from Eric Jablow in the Journal."
The treasurer reported $6,333.53. "Let's do something." "But let's avoid another Worldcon bid."
"Any Disclave chairs at all?" asked Judy. Mike said that he's clear. "Sam Pierce was going to email something. If you have email you might email him."
John said, "We can open new hotels if we bill it as a limited membership party for the 200-300 who show." Judy said, "Let's not call it a party." But John pointed out, "We're not a C3"
James Uba reported that the entertainment committee is having fun at Confluence knowing that their stepson has to do the chores.
Judy said that there is a fifth Friday in October if anyone is willing to have us descend upon your home. John said that the Fabulous Bungalow is holding a haunted house. Last three years have had a Poe theme so he thinks it will continue.
Martin Wooster read from a Philadelphia paper about a con putting James T. Kirk on trial for sexual harassment.
Mike is scanning photos from WorldCon. He'll do a postcon memory book. He's looking for stories, photos etc.
Covert came in late and was asked about the status of his Disclave. "I am waiting to hear from the Disclave before me."
There were several people here for their first meeting. They all heard about it at WorldCon.
Attendance: Prez Judy Kindell, Sec. Samuel Lubell, Treas. Bob MacIntosh, Trust. Steven Smith, 2000 Chair Covert Beach, Bernard Bell, Charles Gilliland, Dan Hoey, Doug Houts, Keith Lynch, Keith Marshall, Michael Nelson, John Pomeranz, Victoria Smith, James Uba, Beth and Mike Zipser, Martin Morse Wooster, Laura Burchard, Geoffrey Drumheller, Luciana Lopez, Gerald and Angela Blackwell, Winnie Lim, Scott Hofmann, Lawrence Brem.
This year will be the last year of Star Trek Deep Space Nine. And the show isn't scheduled to turn into movies as did the previous two generations. This gives the show unlimited freedom to do whatever they want since they won't be around next year anyway. So rather than continue with the status quo, here's what could happen.
1. The syndicated DS9 could turn into an extended commercial for the UPN show Voyager. The captain will ask himself at least once an episode "What would Janeway do?" It will be revealed that Bellona was Worf's secret mistress. And Jake will hang up the Playborg pinup of Seven of Nine.
2. The last episode will reveal the entire alpha quadrant is really a dream by an autistic child playing with a snow globe.
3. The Dominion will win, making the next movie about the Enterprise searching from planet to planet, desperately seeking a solution to defeat the Cardassians and Jem'har'da.
4. The show could become even more mystical as the relationship between the Bejorans and the Prophets is explored, allowing the writers to really create their own religion.
5. They could hire really good book SF writers who could tell innovative stories with real science fiction elements (nah, never happen)
Copyright 1998 by Robert Devney
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Heard in the halls of Bucconeer The 56th World Science Fiction Convention Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. August 5-9, 1998
[NESFAns Laurie and Jim Mann pay for my Dionsysian dinner of Pepsi and cheese fries the night I arrive, because, as Laurie explains] You're a Hugo nominee. Let people buy you drinks this week. Next year, they won't know your name.
[At breakfast, Michael Devney, brother and constant con companion, observes] I always feel safer in cities where there's an SF con going on. If you get in trouble, you can yell something like "Hey Robert A. Heinlein!" and fans will come to your rescue. They may not save you physically, but they'll ARGUE your assailants to death.
[In intros for the panel on Forgotten SF Authors, one writer really feels their pain] I'm George R. R. Martin. Someday I'm going to BE a forgotten science fiction author. ... Some of these authors are forgotten because they've had the very poor judgment to die ... Bantam is bringing out my new fantasy, and now also reissuing my first four novels -- you need a locomotive to pull the caboose.
[Martin gets down to more sad cases] Several years ago, John Brunner, at a con in England, gave the most heartbreaking guest of honor speech I've ever heard ... all his books were at that time out of print. ... And there's the best writer of the British New Wave, Keith Roberts. His well-known novel is PAVANE, but he also wrote excellent short fiction ... He's still alive, but very sick -- both of his legs have been amputated.
[NESFAn Tony Lewis comforts my despair at the Sotheby's catalog that prices "a group of Archie comics" at a distinctly unfunny $3,500] If your mother HADN'T thrown them away, they wouldn't have driven up the price.
[Comic queen Connie Willis knows the pitfalls of getting too stuck on your studies] The attitude is, I did this research, by God, and now I'm going to MAKE you read it. ... But good research cannot save a bad story. ... Like when your character is fleeing from something and you think this is a good time to describe life in a medieval village.
[Writer Susan Schwartz makes another mea culpa] I am a compulsive over-researcher. Not because I'm insecure, that's another panel and much too much sharing for today ... but because I'm so wrapped up in the subject.
[Williams has researched some examples] ... Have you ever read LES MISERABLES by Victor Hugo? There's a 50-page infodump in there on the Battle of Waterloo. Which none of his characters were AT. ... And research shouldn't have too much of an agenda going in ... As Umberto Eco remarked, the way to tell the true nut is that sooner or later he will mention the Knights Templar. Because, you see, he KNOWS the Knights Templar are behind it all ...
[Willis reminds us to spread the net wide] If you're writing about 19th century England, you need to be reading books about Hollywood. You need to be reading books about Mars. Because it all connects. ... I don't surf the net. I surf books!
[In the panel on Campbell Award Nominees for Best New Writer, 1997 winner Michael Burstein indulges in fond reminiscence] When I was up for the Campbell myself, I used to say to other nominees, "Second-best of luck to you."
[Nominee Richard Garfinkle, in response to a shamelessly leading question from Burstein] We are the LEAST qualified people to tell you why our work is so incredible --
[Nominee Susan Matthews keeps her eyes on the prize] -- But we're willing to give it a shot.
[Seems like Matthews is too modest to actually DO so, though] People ask me what my book is about and I say, "three-hundred-fifty pages."
[My personal Campbell pick, Andy Duncan, says it's not easy being newish] People who like the stuff I've published to date keep asking me, are there going to be other stories about these characters? And I don't know. Because so far, none of the people who have asked that are EDITORS ... ... But I did just sell a new novella to ASIMOV'S, called "The Executioners' Guild." About a traveling executioner in Mississippi in 1941.
[Matthews, whose books (AN EXCHANGE OF HOSTAGES and PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE) deal extensively with torture and depravity, says she didn't get that from home] My mother wanted me to put a statement in the book: "Regardless of what you may think after you read this work, Susan was raised in a decent Christian household."
[ABSOLUTE MAGNITUDE editor Warren Lapine takes his shots] "How Editors and Writers Cooperate" -- I didn't like your ending so I took it off, OK? "Local SF Clubs" -- Lots of people get together and don't read. "For Filkers Who Get Up Early" -- SHUT UP!
[At one -- well, actually, all -- of those fabulous (yet doomed) Orlando in 2001 parties, NESFAn Chip Hitchcock stands on a chair to trumpet the imminent demise of the fabled Fisher Flamingo] The ... flamingo ... dies ... in ... five ... minutes!
[A mimosa is by no means an old-fashioned; as Richard Lynch, who later (with co-ed Nicki Lynch) will again win the Best Fanzine Hugo, makes clear by describing a good MIMOSA story] Something with a personal slant on science fiction fandom. It doesn't have to be fan history, though. First person. Entertaining. And about 1,000 to 1,500 words.
[At one of the con's most fun-filled events, artist David Cherry is having enough challenges playing SF Pictionary when my sister Darcy hands him her entry to try to communicate visually: "A Canticle for Liebowitz"] You're a very cruel woman.
[Actually, they got it in 40 seconds, sketching menorahs and heads with haloes; Darcy's verdict] It was a hoot.
[Tyler Stewart of the Pandemonium bookstore in Cambridge, MA , who got into the Liars' Panel when I was turned away by the colossal crowd, liked writer Pat Cadigan's answer to the oft-asked query "How did you get into writing?"] I was going to be a secretary, but I was cleaning my typewriter and it went off.
[Writer Joe Haldeman fields "What is your next book about, Sir or Madam?" with a reference sure to bewilder future fan historians who have long forgotten The Matter of Monica] It's going to be called SIR OR MADAM, about a cross-dresser who can leave his own stain.
[At the panel on The Role of Critical Magazines, editor F. Brett Cox outlines a formula for happiness] Lew Shiner, a very fine writer, did a formula some years ago ... He estimated his life span, he estimated how many books he cold read in a year, and he came up with a finite number of books he could read. So life is too short to plow through books you don't like.
[Back at the convention center snack bar, as a caped fan relentlessly informs a weary waitress that all we SF people are weirdoes, huh? but that's OK because we're also superior beings, she rings up the wrong change, corrects her mistake, and moans to the colleague relieving her] Please, Evelyn, you haven't been listening to this stuff all day long.
[After decades of spaced-out shorter work, Puerto Rico's finest (well, only) SF writer Jim Stevens-Arce is already going Hollywood with his very first novel] So SOUL SAVER is coming out from Harcourt-Brace next year ... But it turns out the way to get a movie company interested in filming your book is to get them to find out some OTHER movie company is interested in your work ... "Oh, so who at Fine Line is looking at it?"
[South African fan Ian Jamieson enthuses about space flight historian Hugh Gregory's primo presentation on Soviet Space Disasters] When it turned out there was no VCR or anything for his visuals, he just acted everything out and described things to us. He was fantastic. One of those know-it-alls that really DOES know it all.
[Frost's unfond of Anne Rice] Vampires aren't erotic. Who gets a hard-on at a bloodbank?
[In the panel on Designing the Ideal City, editor/writer/fan Teresa Nielsen Hayden brings it home to her 'hood] I live in an ongoing experiment in getting lots of people into a small space. It's called Brooklyn ...
[In the panel on whether literary hard SF is an oxymoron, writer Alexander Jablokov explains why hard SF oft seems soft on characterization] Why spend a lot of effort building subtle characters who are all going to be blown up?
The 9/18 Third Friday meeting was held at the Ginters with VP Elspeth presiding. "Is it about that time? Let's get this show on the road. Meeting of the whatever we are at 9:16. Mr. Macintosh, any money?"
"What money?" When informed as to what that green stuff was he said $6,263.53.
"Sam?" "No business was done at last meeting" "Disclave?" "Disclave Past is Past"
"Has anyone heard from Disclave?" asked Elspeth. Bob replied, "He still walks this earth. He is living and breathing." "If you see him, remind him that we exist."
The Entertainment Committee's Alexis Gilliland reported that there was a computer left at our house last meeting. Elspeth replied, "Actually it was two meetings ago. It's mine." "The entertainment committee reports that the Monica Lewinsky fallout continues. The Southern Baptists are trying to get the report off the net. Hyde reports a youthful indiscretion."
Any old business. No
Any new business. Silence
Elspeth said that Mike Walsh said to say that Pat Cadigan will be at the Borders in Baileys Crossroads, VA 7:30 on Oct 7th." "Nothing about books for sale."
Erica reported heavy machinery scraping the shoulder and putting in asphalt. <Who is As and why is it his fault?>
Motion to adjourn or something at 9:31.
Attendance: VP Elspeth Kovar Burgess, Sec. Samuel Lubell, Treas Bob MacIntosh, Trust. Steven Smith, Alexis and Lee Gilliland, Erica Ginter, Eric Jablow, Perrianne Lurie, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Joe Mayhew, Barry and Judy Newton, Meridel Newton, Lance Oszko, Evan Phillips, George Shaner, Michael Taylor, "Boots" Coleman, Sheri Bell, Joe Hall (Returns Again), Richard Pugh, Geoffrey Drumheller, Meredith Wagner, Luciana Lopez.
from the Internet
Picard: "Mr. LaForge, have you had any success with your attempts at finding a weakness in the Borg? And Mr. Data, have you been able to access their command pathways?"
Geordi: "Yes, Captain. In fact, we found the answer by searching through our archives on late Twentieth-century computing technology."
Geordi presses a key, and a logo appears on the computer.
Riker looks puzzled: "What the hell is 'Microsoft'?"
Data turns to answer: "Allow me to explain. We will send this program, for some reason called 'Windows', through the Borg command pathways. Once inside their root command unit, it will begin consuming system resources at an unstoppable rate."
Picard: "But the Borg have the ability to adapt. Won't they alter their processing systems to increase their storage capacity?"
Data: "Yes, Captain. But when 'Windows' detects this, it creates a new version known as an 'upgrade'. The use of resources increases exponentially with each iteration. The Borg will not be able to adapt quickly enough. Eventually all of their processing ability will be taken over and none will be available for their normal operational functions."
Picard: "Excellent work. This is even better than that 'unsolvable geometric shape' idea."
...15 Minutes Later...
Data: "Captain, we have successfully installed the 'Windows' in the Borg's command unit. As expected, it immediately consumed 85% of all available resources. However, we have not received any confirmation of the expected 'upgrade'."
Geordi: "There's an increase in Borg storage and CPU capacity, but we still have no indication of an 'upgrade' to compensate for their increase."
Picard: "Data, scan the history banks again and determine if there is something we have missed."
Data: "Sir, I believe there is a reason for the failure in the 'upgrade'. The Borg have circumvented that part of the plan by not sending in their registration cards."
Riker: "Captain, we have no choice. Requesting permission to begin emergency escape sequence 3F..."
Geordi, excited: "Wait, Captain! Their CPU capacity has suddenly dropped to 0%!"
Picard: "Data, what do your scanners show?"
Data, studying displays: "Apparently the Borg have found the internal 'Windows' module named 'Solitaire', and it has used up all available CPU capacity."
Picard: "Let's wait and see how long this 'Solitaire' can reduce their functionality."
...Two Hours Pass...
Riker: "Geordi, what is the status of the Borg?"
Geordi: "As expected, the Borg are attempting to re-engineer to compensate for increased CPU and storage demands, but each time they successfully increase resources I have setup our closest deep space monitor beacon to transmit more 'Windows' modules from something called the 'Microsoft Fun-pack'."
Picard: "How much time will that buy us?"
Data: "Current Borg solutions allow me to predicate an interest span of 6 more hours."
Geordi: "Captain, another vessel has entered our sector."
Data: "It appears to have markings very similar to the 'Microsoft' logo..."
Over the speakers: "This is Admiral Bill Gates of the Microsoft flagship Monopoly. we have positive confirmation of unregistered software in this sector. Surrender all assets and we can avoid any trouble. You have 10 seconds to comply."
Data: "The alien ship has just opened its forward hatches and released thousands of humanoid-shaped objects."
Picard: "Magnify forward viewer on the alien craft!"
Riker: "My God, captain! Those are human beings floating straight toward the Borg ship - with no life support suits! How can they survive the tortures of deep space?!"
Data: "I don't believe that those are humans, Sir. If you will look closer I believe you will see that they are carrying something recognized by twenty-first century man as doeskin leather briefcases, and wearing Armani suits."
Riker and Picard, together - horrified: "Lawyers!!"
Geordi: "It can't be. All the Lawyers were rounded up and sent hurtling into the sun in 2017 during the Great Awakening."
Data: "True, but apparently some must have survived."
Riker: "They have surrounded the Borg ship and are covering it with all types of papers."
Data: "I believe that is known in ancient vernacular as 'red tape'. It often proves fatal."
Riker: "They're tearing the Borg to pieces!"
Picard: "Turn the monitors off, Data, I can't
bear to watch. Even the Borg doesn't deserve such a gruesome death!"
Days of Cain by J.R. Dunn
Reviewed by Samuel Lubell
I've been meaning to review this book for a while (so I could return it) and the Jewish high holy-days made the perfect time. On one level Days of Cain (Avon Books) is similar to many past time travel books where the good guy tries to stop the bad guy from changing history. The catch here is that the woman who is trying to change history is considered a saint and the history being changed is the Holocaust. This immediately elevates the book beyond typical Timecop action. This movement towards literature is further propelled by the inclusion of Reber, a somewhat sympathetic SS officer. We encounter him in 1973, on the eve of the Yom Kippur war, tormented by guilt for his part in the Holocaust. He is also a viewpoint character in the Auschwitz sections. Although he does not play a major role in the time travel plot, he shows how the Holocaust has a dehumanizing effect even on the Germans.
The main character is Gaspar, the monitor for the 24th century to make sure time followed on the path to the creation of the Moiety, an interplanetary civilization/galactic mind. He helped train Alma Lewin and feels guilty that she has rebelled. At first he's after revenge, thinking Alma betrayed him. Then he feels he is just doing his job of stopping her. But as he is more and more exposed to the evils of the Holocaust he becomes horrified and starts doubting himself and his purposes, especially when he learns that Alma herself is held in Auschwitz. So the reader wonders, is he going to side with Alma? His growing change of heart is another strong literary device.
Alma herself is presented only through the eyes of Rebeka, a Jewish woman determined to survive Auschwitz. She notices that Alma seems different from the rest of them. Alma somehow (and this is never explained) can persuade the guards to be less violent. She has a cache of American money for bribes and strange pills that cure disease. She has retained her spirit and will. And she has a plan for them to escape.
The book itself is an ironic twist on the Book of Job. How can man let bad things happen to good people when it is in their power to prevent them? How can good people stand by and let the strong prey on the weak. In that sense Reber's toleration of Boldt's bullying, and willingness to let himself be ruled by Boldt's cruelty mirrors Gaspar's position of being required to let the Nazis murder the Jews and to stop the efforts of Alma, the one person trying to prevent this hideous evil. As thought-provoking literature this book succeeds enormously. It is less successful (and not convincing) on the time travel aspects which somehow seems described as strictly tied to the temporal flow of the era, to the point where jumping back a few hours causes all sorts of problems with the equipment, while at others it seems to follow consecutively, so that when Gaspar takes a jump up to the 1970s, they are a couple of days ahead of him on a shared timeline.
This book is highly recommended and it's not just for Jews. I strongly recommend giving this book to parents and others who say SF is just junk.
Colleen Bolt, Community Relations Coordinator
or Karen Haines, CRC Assistant
Borders in Baileys Crossroads, Virginia
703-998-0121 direct; 703-998-0404 store
Author Pat Cadigan is best known as one of the originators of "cyberpunk" fiction, that mix of cutting edge technology and gritty street culture. Her short stories and her novels, Mindplayers, Synners and Fools are renowned as amazing works of the imagination.
Her new book, Tea from an Empty Cup, succeeds in combining powerful human emotions with a believable future gone out of control. The ancient Zen riddle "How can you drink tea from an empty cup?" holds the key to this mystery: a young man found locked alone in a virtual reality parlor with his throat slashed and no signs of struggle. Cadigan's jaded cop, Konstantin, and the victim's lover, Yuki, must investigate whether the games have proceeded to a new level.
Pat Cadigan's previous two novels have been winners of the Arthur C. Clarke award for Best Novel. She has recently moved from Kansas City to London, England. Her fans have the rare opportunity of hearing her read and discuss Tea from an Empty Cup and any Cyberpunk-related topics at Borders Books and Music in Baileys Crossroads, Virginia on Wednesday, October 7th at 7:30 p.m.
This event is free and open to the public. Call 703-998-0404 for more information. Borders in Baileys Crossroads is located two miles west of I-395 on King Street/Route 7, at the intersection of Route 7 and Columbia Pike.
"I've just killed Dracula," said Tom Swift painstakingly.
Hans and Stein were playing in their yard in Zurich when one of the boys accidentally swallowed a coin and started choking. Hans ran inside to get help, yelling, "Mom! Dad! Come help! There's a franc in Stein!"
How could the witch hide in plain sight? They didn't know which one she was.
How do Halloween spooks learn to be so scary? They attend ghost graduate school.
The egotistical mummy was all wrapped up in himself.
Vampires are neckophiliacs
What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire? Frostbite
What feature of computers do witches like the most? The spell checker.
What food makes werewolves scream? The howl bean
Where do they cremate seductive women? On vamp pyres.
Why are all the vampire slayers women? Because they are guided by a watch her not a watch him.
Why did the young zombie cry? He wanted his Mummy
Why do you always find ghouls and demons together? Because demons are a ghoul's best friend.
Why does the vampire slayer keep her weapons on the top shelf? Because she plays for high stakes.
Why don't monsters invite the invisible man to their parties? He never shows up and his excuses are all transparent.