The WSFA Journal

Edited by Samuel Lubell

January 1999

Cover January 1999 Journal


Can Disclave Get Credit (or at least credit cards)?

The First Friday for December was held at the Gillilands on 12/4. Covert surrendered the chair to Judy. "Judy start," ordered the club. "I guess we can start, it's 9:15," responded Judy. "Let's start the meeting. Any money?" "It's getting smaller ever week, said the treasurer, revealing the law of diminishing returns. "$5,360.12" "Let's have a bake sale!" suggested a WSFAn. Judy said, "This is a good time to remind people that dues are due the first of next year."

Sam Pierce was recognized as Disclave '99. "Not having any good news to report, I have to ask you to pick someone to chair the next Disclave. My work has been overwhelming even with the voluntary help. I'm sorry I couldn't get more done in the time I had available. I have to step down."

Joe pointed out that. "The circumstances in which Sam accepted the chairmanship weren't those that he had to run it in. Plus he worked very hard on Bucconeer. I recommend that the best thing we could do is not have a Disclave [in 1999]. We could do a small relaxacon but I would recommend that we don't call it a Disclave or have a Dis or Clave.

Lee Gilliland said, "I had a conversation with Alexis about doing a relaxacon." Judy perked up, "Does this mean you volunteer?" But Alexis down-peddled, "It was just a conversation, I don't volunteer." Everyone laughed.

Someone pointed out that December 31, 1999 is a Fifth Friday, but what's special about that date? Eric suggested calling the con Lethe, because it was the other river in Hell and means Dis. Ask Auntie Ester at Philcon suggested that we abandon the name Disclave and reorganize."

Judy then called on "Disclave 2000 which just found itself Disclave next." "I'll have to get back to you," said Covert. Judy then said, "We reorganized so not just a social club, this means that whatever we do it should have an educational purpose."

Rebecca said, "We should do an economic analysis to see how long we could last without funds." Bob Macintosh said, "One year, six months."

Alexis, the entertainment committee said, "Six months ago a -person walked across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to great dismay. This year a goose walked across and they closed lanes to let him. Why they didn't just shoot him I don't know. Now they're building a bigger bridge for bigger geese and mass suicides."

A proposal to double deck the whole bridge failed.

"Moving right along..." said Prez Judy. Sam Lubell suggested that we fulfill our education requirement by doing a book club at a bookstore or library.

There was no other new business. Steve Smith has pneumonia. Joe recently got out of hospital with diagnoses ranging from poison blood to pneumonia. Winston said something has happened at the Library of Congress. 500 of us have credit cards. Each year a contract is renewed. Now we have a new contractor, American Express, and they sent all the cards to one person. They were returned and got lost in the mail. Judy said that the credit card company sent everyone at the IRS PIN numbers which we aren't supposed to use. Bob said that the IRS works opposite all other agencies. The computer literacy bookstore is closing.

Judy said that some of you should receive Bucky reimbursement checks. If you put in more than 30 hours and haven't received a check please let her know. Eric's brother is in the Middle East, again. He's a navigator on a B-1. Can't send him Xmas or Hanukkah cards, magazines with a nude torso (including on ads). IF send SF books be careful. Some more modern ones will be confiscated. Rebecca promised 1000s of lights at her party. Lance ran parties at Windycon. He got someone who is half Polish and half Japanese to agree to go to EuroCon to visit the other side of her family.

Covert said his agency had a discussion over whether religious objects and pictures could be displayed on the door. The director said that this wasn't appropriate vehicle. The meeting was adjourned at 9:26

Pres. Judy Kindell, VP Elspeth Kovar Burgess, Sec. Samuel Lubell, Treas. Bob MacIntosh, '99 Chair Sam Pierce, 2000 Chair Covert Beach, Alexis and Lee Gilliland, Eric Jablow, Keith Lynch, Winton Matthews, Joe Mayhew, Michael Nelson, Lance Oszko, Rebecca Prather, George Shaner, Madeleine Yeh, Gail Dood, Donna Rogall, Rebecca Shafer, Geoffrey Drumheller, David Hines, Angela and Gerald Blackwell, Winnie Lim, Richard Pugh.

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Madeleine Reviews

Krondar the Betrayal by Raymond Feist

by Madeleine Yeh

This is a very disappointing book. Don't buy it. Raymond Feist is a good story teller, a bad novelist, but a good story teller. I always wanted to find out what happened next, how did his characters deal with the next problem and the next problem and the next. The books might be overblown, melodramatic and filled with every cliché in Fantasy world, but they were still readable. The first book had wizards, barons, squires, elves, mysterious rangers, enchanted weapons from great lost races, great magicians, interplanetary gates, unending forests, elves, great nobles and kings. It was fascinating despite itself, I read it trying to find the fate of poor Pug, who went from an unwanted orphan, to an apprentice wizard, to a hero, to end as a great magician and brother to kings.

This book is set in the middle of his series, so there are no surprises. The main characters in the book: Locklear and James were met in an earlier as young and inexperienced squires, and in a later book as important officers of the Prince's court. I was expecting an engrossing adventure with these people and subsequent characters getting in and out of one impossible trouble after another as they fend off war and save the land and their own skins. I didn't get that.

The characters were completely lifeless. The setting was merely scenery: generic mountains, oceans, forests and deserts. None of these places were described to be interesting to themselves, the characters or the readers. The city boy wasn't dismayed at the empty mountains, the dark elf filled with dismay at the crowds and smell of the city. The dense forests didn't lead to claustrophobia, nor the cold mountains to frostbite. The plot might have been an action plot with great deeds and heroics, but it was merely sketched in. The author never really tells about the societies mentioned in the story: the dark elves and their human allies, the mountain barons guarding the marches; the cities and merchants, or the princes and his court.

I wasn't at all interested in finding out what would occur in the next chapter or around the next mountain. Feist has never written a believable world but before this the people were interesting. In this book we have really impossible stupidities and thoughtlessness. The horses of our heroes, complete with saddle, bridle, and gear; are startled and run away in a dense forest. The heroes abandon the poor horses to become tangled in the trees and starve miserably to death, or to die later of infected wounds as the saddles rub their back raw. They make no attempt to find the horses, instead they continue onward on foot without extra clothes and food and tools. The people aren't even two dimensional. Squire Locklear is replaced in the adventure by Squire James, and it takes me two or three chapters to notice it. The two other characters Owyn and Gorath are never developed. They are just little figures moving around.

Prisoner of Conscience by Susan R. Matthews

The most original book of last year was Exchange of Hostages. Now the sequel has finally arrived, and its very, very good.

Prisoner of Conscience is definitely a middle book. The characters and the universe are established in the earlier book. If you have read Exchange of Hostages, you can appreciate Prisoner of Conscience, if you haven't read Exchange of Hostages, you should immediately go out and get it.

This is a wonderfully crafted book. The sentences range from short, and straightforward, to carefully formal and elaborate. The vocabulary, especially the newly created words, is inspiring. The point of view changes from character to character. This last technique is done quite brilliantly, especially compared to other books which have been ruined by this method. This book is easy to read and reread.

Exchange of Hostages was horribly innovative. It had a new and repellent government, with thoroughly harsh and ruthless institutions. The shock has worn off by Prisoner of Conscience. This novel is now concerned with how people live within this government. Everyone in this story from the Fleet officers, to the rebels, the prison guards, the prisoners, the torturer and his flunkies, the prison commander and his, are all trapped within the system. Some of the people choose to become monsters, others choose not to, some defy the strictures that bind them, others obey them, and still others enforce them.

The people are thoroughly enjoyable, well enjoyable isn't the right word. Some of them are thoroughly rotten. The main villain, Geltoi, is a greedy, ruthless, self centered bigot who needs to be surrounded by sycophants. Even our hero has his putrid side. Andrej Koscuisko, describes that aspect of himself as " monstrous and unholy". All of them are very well drawn, distinct and individual. There are so many of them too. Belen, chief sycophant to the villain; Kaydence and Code and Joslire, part of Andrej's guard; Chief Warrant officer Caleigh Samons; Fleet Captain Irshah Parmin; Bench Captain Vopalar and her officers; Robis Darmon, rebel and victim, as well as the main hero and villain.

In conclusion, this is a very good read. I highly recommend it and its predecessor. It has a believable but nasty society, and very believable villains. Some of the villainy is squashed, and some of the good guys are rescued; but enough remains to provide another book, or two or three.

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Philcon Panel: Spirit of Youth

Notes from Samuel Lubell.

Participating on this panel were Nancy Kress, Andrew Wheeler, Charles Sheffield, and Matt Ruff.

AW - Are kids still reading SF?

NK - I have two kids and two step-kids. All sort of read SF. One reads real SF, one fantasy, which is a great disappointment to me, one reads YA if it has romance. My 11-year-old will read SF if it has bears in it. I don't think the golden age of SF is 12. As it grew up, it took on complexities and moral shadings. It is not a bad thing that so much of it is out of their reach.

AW- Reading SF in the 1970s, people complained too juvenile, no room to do anything for adults. The audience was presumed to be children. Now we've blown the top off.

NK-I see Matt Ruff's book is from Atlantic Monthly Press [not an SF publisher.]

MR-Yes, I'm coming from the mainstream. Disappointing because SF didn't really address adult themes. Forever War should have been a tragedy but has a tacked on happy ending giving the hero back everything he's lost. It should have ended before. When I was 12 I was upset at 1984. What do you mean the good guys lost?!? Now, I see a happy ending would have ruined the book.

<Quick discussion of Forever War omitted>

AW-Have you been following Jonathan Lathem's piece in the New York Review of Books where he says SF is dying and he wants to make it die faster so he can write what he wants to.

CS-SF has changed since Frank Paul's day. It was more into science, more male. That audience still exists as a subgroup in SF, the rocket and rayguns group. They are generally 12-14 years old and read the [media] tie-ins. We've changed the definition of SF to be more inclusive. Some of us look down on that.

NK-I actually agree with you for once. SF expanded so rockets and rayguns are still there. People who like Campbell and Asimov still exist. People who like New Age SF like Latham wants still exist. When British published Brave New Worlds there was no sense of new genre. Now SF is moving into mainstream. SF is changing the mainstream. My mother will read Michael Crichton because she can see cloning in the newspaper and accept it in her fiction. Mainstream and SF are merging.

AW-Not for aging baby boomers. That's just the Locus poll. SFBC research shows the average member is in the late 30s.

CS-We ignore the biggest audience for SF, the under 20's reading for escapism.

NK-No, the largest audience are those buying Michael Crichton and Stephen King in HB. Kids don't buy HB. They can't afford it. The biggest audience are those buying books not labeled as SF.

AW-But Robert Jordan opened at #1.

CS-Booksellers see bestsellers as a separate category

NK-The lines are blurring

CS-Too many authors

NK-Handmaiden's Tale by any standards a work of SF, she drops in and out. The lines are blurring.

MR-As you were saying the lines are blurring because we are living in a SF world. Ordinary people are interacting with technology.

NK-My book, Stinger, is set in the present. The difference is that malaria has been genetically altered. The genetic engineering is not out of our reach today.

CS-It's more a Tom Clancy type thriller.

NK-But Tom Clancy is Michael Crichton .

Audience person - The reading market has collapsed except for SF. Essential SF leaked out and absorbed other pulp genres.

AW-Pulps died. Short fiction died because of the paperback revolution. The average reader would rather read an continuous narrative than ten stories for the same price. SF survived because wanted adventures.

NK-Short stories are struggling. You have to have a stranglehold on a publisher for a single author collection.

CS-In the early 1900s, PG Woodhouse could be paid $1,000 for a story. F. School Fitzgerald $3,000. The going rate for stories has gone down.

Audience member-The audience is going to television for their fiction fix. Casual readers migrated off. Don't have the skills for it.

MR-People have been worrying about this for decades. I read The Glass Teat, Ellison was upset that only 8% read more than one book a year.

NK-I noticed that the young people are saying they don't have time to read. But once in the adult world, they go back to reading. The young mothers I know read. They don't have the constant socializing [of teens.] My mother and her circle read.

CS-We tend to dismiss media tie-ins. Frequently someone who sees the Star Wars books and realizes can see the movies only a certain number of times will then turn to the Star Wars novels because s/he loves the universe.

NK-Quality has always been a minority taste. For everyone reading Trollope, ten were reading penny dreadfuls. We shouldn't react like this stage is different

AW-Star Trek and Star Wars books are quite better than the routine adventure stories from the 40s and 50s that don't get anthologized.

NK-Brian Aldiss said adventure fiction was where all women and no clauses were subordinate.

AW-Publishers Weekly does annual statistics. Each year the biggest books sell more copies. The growth of superstores and number of titles increasing.

CS-But talk off death of midlist. IT is harder for an established writer in the midlist to get books published. New writers still get published since ask for little.

NK-Yet we all are midlist and we're still here.

AW-Hardest thing to publish is fourth novel because they see the figures from the first two. Bookstores are ordering to the net. You publish a book and the bookstore orders 10 and sells 6, next time they buy 6 and sell 4.

NK-Publishers used to stick with writers. John Irving's first three books flopped before he wrote World According to Garp.

AW-See people who had a bad track record switch publishers.

CS-Or change names or genres. John Jakes started off as a SF writer. R.L. Stein didn't sell for a while but when his books started selling like hotcakes, he was asked what he was doing different. He replied, nothing. I don't know.

CS-It's depressing that with Star Wars books the authors don't matter. Zann's Star Wars books made the best seller list but not his other books.

AW-Some of these are better than others. Some of the established writers just churn them out when doing licensed works.

Audience member-Craig Shaw Gardner said 2% of his tie-in audience seek out his other works. But 2% of his Batman audience was a lot.

CS-It is hard to blame the publishers for wanting a book that sells a million rather than 1,000 copies.

NK-But can you have the next John Irving that way?

MR-Problem with superstores is that since books can be returned, publishers think they sold thousands but they get returned.

NK-Some resistance to using even good SF in schools. Teachers still think of SF as rayguns and for 14 year olds. When I taught SF as literature most of the people weren't SF readers, but said afterwards that they read good stuff and were surprised. I never saw a 9th grader who liked Silas Mariner. Take it out and put in LeGuin.

MR-Can make an end-run of the teachers by making them available in book fairs.

CS-But many SF books use words that school boards would say is inappropriate, or scenes. So SF writers are not helping themselves by putting this in.

AW-Still a reaction to books you are forced to read. Finally discover it on their own. Fact of being forced to read something makes it less interesting, even if would have liked it on their own. Was a panel on bridging the gap because were afraid of Goths. I'm wondering if we were sending them away.

NK-Conventions are bad places to judge SF. They cost money and attract those who like to talk, not just read

AW-Younger fans think convention fans don't want them.

NK-Does SF book club deliberately aim at a younger audience?

AW-Fantasy sells to our audience. We try to have half and half. But people think the things they don't like, like the Star Wars books, don't count [as part of the SF half.] Fantasy tends to attract females and females tend to be the big audience.

CS-Grateful that many readers in SF don't care about how well the story is told because when I started, I didn't know how to write. No other genre would have published me.

NK-That is so bogus. Look at Danielle Steele. She can't write but her audience gets something out of her.


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New Year's Resolutions.

Reported by Samuel Lubell

Science fiction authors and characters have made their New Year's resolutions. The WSFA Journal was able to sneak a look at their lists and report back.

"We will be good little starfleet officers and obey orders, unless we really don't like them." - Crew of the Enterprise.

"I will deliver the pizza on time, unless I need to save the world first."- Hiro Protagonist (Snow Crash)

"I won't try to buy the world, at least not until it goes on sale after the Y2K Crash." - Bill Gates.

"I'll wear something more substantial, like a body." - Fury. (Julian May's Galactic Milieu Trilogy.)

"No more smoochies with Angel. He bites." - Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.

"I'll have a businessperson as the main character in my next book, just to provide a change of pace from all those eccentric artists." - Charles De Lint.

"I resolve to program all dates with five digits, to prevent a Year 10K crash." - Computer Programmers of the World.

"I won't meddle in any more fairy tales, even if I do know the Disney versions." - Beauty (Sheri Tepper's Beauty)

"We'll stop pretending to be `Lost in Space', end our fiddling with the affairs of the Gamma Quadrant and just go straight home, maximum warp." - Crew of Voyager

"I will finish The Wheel of Time sometime before the next millennium, the one in 3001 I mean, not the one in two years." - Robert Jordan.

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A Second Chance at New Year's

If you missed celebrating New Year's or if no one asked you out, you now have a second shot. Yes, it's that time of year again. Chuck Divine is throwing another demented Procrastinator's New Year's Eve Party. As usual, we will be watching the ball drop at least once (aren't VCRs wonderful). Chuck will be supplying champagne, other beverages (beer, wine, soda, apple cider) and a variety of snacks. Other contributions are always welcome.


When: Saturday, January 16th, 8:00 PM

Where: Chuck Divine's, 7059 Palamar Turn, Seabrook, Maryland 20706

Phone: (301)794-6436


Directions: Take the Beltway to exit 22 or exit 23 (Greenbelt Road). Go east on Greenbelt Road. The second traffic light past Goddard Space Flight Center is Good Luck Road. Make a right here. Go to the next traffic light. This is Palamar Drive. Make a left here. The fifth left off Palamar Drive is Palamar Turn. Chuck's place is about 3/4 of the way to the end. It's on the right. Chuck will mark both the Palamar Turn corner and his house with balloons.

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Dues, Disclaves, and Dinosaurs

The WSFA Third Friday (last one in 1998) was held at the Ginters on 12/18. "Should we go ahead and get started?" asked Judy plaintively. "So we can finish and go on with the fun. We're starting at 9:17. If no one wants to listen to me that's okay." WSFAns shhhed the crowd. "Any old business?" Secretary Sam said that we didn't have a vote on ending the 1999 Disclave. Covert pointed out that the 1999 Chair did resign, so automatically no Disclave unless the club appoints someone to take his place. The treasurer reported $5270.12. "Since we no longer have a Disclave present...." Judy started. "On the advice of counsel, I'm keeping silent." Covert cut in.

The entertainment committee chair (Alexis) announced himself bothered. The best thing on TV was Livingston coming out of the closet since Larry Flint had him down for Hustler. A book, the Pleistocene Redemption came in the mail. It starts with questions for discussion leaders and a quote from the Virgin Mary dated 1987, this book is up to date. The publisher is Ancient Prophecies dot com. Joe Mayhew said that he was on a panel with the author at Philcon. And if I were one to dismiss books, this would be one I'd insult. It's weird in all the wrong ways. He had 75 copies to give out at Philcon and was having trouble. The author said the paperback is revised and better than the hardback.

"Disclave?" "What happened?" asked Erica. "We've been unable to find a hotel and Sam's job is taking more time so he had to resign," said Judy. "He did have a hotel that Covert found for him," said Joe. "But it was busy that weekend." Judy said, "In talking with Elspeth and Sam we had no hotel."

Joe replied, "The only person who can make a Disclave is the chairperson. Since he resigned, the only way we can have a Disclave is to appoint a new chair and anyone who would volunteer under these circumstances is someone that you wouldn't want to have the job."

New business was declared. "Given our financial problem and our fiscal sovereignty I move that we double our dues to the astounding number of $10." "Would that take an amendment to the constitution?" asked Joe. "No." said Judy.

Richard Lynch asked, "Would this make a difference or is it only symbolic?" Bob said, "the club hasn't raised its dues since 1960."

"Actually we lowered them when we stopped doing a fanzine," said Alexis. "We could charge people per meeting." Someone replied, "then we'd always be dunning people for the meeting."

Richard said, "We have a nice number of members but if the dues are too high we might discourage people from coming." Alexis responded, "The difference between ten and five isn't significant." Richard said, "But if this is just symbolic, I don't want to discourage people." "$12, though would be substantial," Alexis continued. "I'd rather have it divisible by $5 to make change" said Elspeth. "Is it significant?" asked Richard. "It will run us another month." Pointed out Bob.

"How much does it cost us per meeting?" asked Joe. $90 said Erica, about $120 said Alexis. "We went to great lengths at WorldCon to get people to come," said Richard. "So this may be a move in the wrong direction." Finally someone suggested asking a new person, which the club did. David Hines, attending his first WSFA meeting, said, "I don't have a great deal of money but $5 is just a movie." That settled, the motion to raise the dues passed unanimously.

"Half the club will now go bankrupt," said Mike Walsh, most of whose wares cost significantly more than $5. "I know," said Mike Nelson. "Let's form a startup computer company and have Microsoft buy us out."

Erica apologized for not baking more cookies but she's been sick for two months. Never make cookies with a four year old. Mike Walsh has 31,000 copies of Lensmen in print, most sold. Joe reported that Former WSFAns Avery Davis and Debbie Golden will get married on the 22 of May in Atlanta. Richard Lynch came back from a long business trip in Eastern Europe with Slovak beer. Went to Norcon, a SF convention in North Poland. He's still trying to figure out Bucharest Romania where he came across a guy in the street with a bathroom scale. "He's working to scale" said Alexis. The meeting was adjourned at 9:40.

Attendance: Pres. Judy Kindell, VP Elspeth Kovar Burgess, Sec. Samuel Lubell, Treas. Bob MacIntosh, Trust. Steven Smith, Trust. Michael Walsh, 2000 Chair Covert Beach, Alexis and Lee Gilliland, Erica and Karl Ginter, Bill Jensen, Kris Kringle, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Judah Macabee, Joe Mayhew, Barry Newton, Judy and Meridel Newton, George Shaner, Michael Taylor, Michael Watkins, Rebecca Kindell, Angela and Gerald Blackwell, Richard Pugh, Geoffrey Drumheller, Winnie Lim, Walter Miles, David Hines.

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Movie Reviews

by Samuel Lubell

I just saw two movies, a rare event for me. The first Shakespeare In Love is a wonderful must-see. (And yes the author of The Tempest, A Midsummer's Night Dream (with fairies), Macbeth (witches and ghosts), and Hamlet (ghost) certainly counts as a fantasy author.) This movie was written by Tom Stoppard whose breakout play Rosencranz and Guilderstern Are Dead also reworked the Bard. Here the conceit is that Shakespeare is blocked, goes to a psychologist, and is told he needs to have a love affair. He falls in love with a noblewoman who secretly disguises herself as a boy (since women were not allowed in the theater in order to get a role in a play that Shakespeare is currently writing. The play is a comedy called Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter. But in the course of the love affair the play changes into a tragedy called Romeo and Juliet. Much of the fun is seeing how the love affair mirrors events and lines of the play. You can tell who in the audience knows their Shakespeare by seeing who is laughing the most. The movie is very funny, very romantic, and very well acted. This is highly recommended and would make a great date film.

The second, Practical Magic was sort of disappointing. The movie takes a major departure from the Alice Hoffman book where it was left up to the reader to determine if much of the magic is real or not. Here the magic is very real, the characters are witches. The film-makers also seem to be shooting from two very different scripts, making jarring transitions between scenes where the aunts are present and ones where they are absent (there's a scene where they leave with a note to "clean up your own mess" but then they appear at the end to help out with the finale. There also seem to be two endings. At one point the antagonist has apparently been defeated but then without any explanation appears again. The two sisters are played by Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman but aside from higher quality actresses, the movie essentially feels like a longer than average episode of the TV show Charmed. Not recommended.


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1999: A Look Back

by Samuel Lubell

1999 was a great year in science fiction and for WSFA, at least after everyone stopped making Space 1999 jokes. It was the year Peggy Rae Pavlat and John Sapienza suddenly got married. They agreed on a small ceremony but Peggy Rae defined small as anyone she had ever met at a SF con. The wedding was dubbed Bucconeer II by attendees. In the Spring, a special benefit concert was held to benefit Disclave. Called DisclAID, the concert featured Stephan King's group the Rock Bottom Remainders, the Analog Mafia, the Don't Quit Your Day Job Players, and local filkers. The concert and benefit CD did so well that WSFA was able to buy its own hotel and end the annual hunt. WSFA also put on a real relaxacon. Here, members lounged Roman-style on couches while various panels and presentations were made in the single room. The massages and pealed grapes made everyone very relaxed.

Those fans who were lucky (or rich) enough to attend Aussiecon reported having a grand time once they got used to being upside down all day. The business meeting was accused of being a kangaroo court, a seance was held to contact the author GOH George Turner, and the opening ceremonies featured a Crocodile Dundee type outwrestling a Baltimore pirate. The English-Australian dictionaries passed out at the start (sponsored by Fosters, which the glossary defined as Australian for beer) were very useful. So was the guide to Australian wildlife which included some well-known fans in its poisonous reptiles section.

Important books of 1999 included Sheri Tepper's No I Don't Hate All Men, Why Do You Ask?, a one volume edition of Pamela Dean's The Secret Country Trilogy, Foundation Finis: We Really Mean It This Time by the B Writers, Streaker Exposed by David Brin, They're Used To Kill People Of Course, What Else Would Be the Use of Weapons by Ian Banks, and Water on the Deep Extinguishes Fire by Vernor Vinge.

The big movie of course was Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace in which Darth Vader as boy fought off a ghost who walks in a purple suit. Other big movies included Titanic In Space, Brother Termite which showed that having an insect as president would be even worse than having a pig, and continuing a line of Heinlein travesties Double Star which somehow included space battles and an effect where a star is blown up, making it look like the earth has a doubled sun.

Of course the year ended with a huge bang as absolutely everyone got the date for the millennium wrong and declared the year 1999 the end of the 20th century. Tons of retrospectives of the last 1000 years were put out, most having 95% of the content deal with the last century or two. Oh, and when the moon flew off at light speed in December, causing massive tidal waves and destruction, the British did admit to having a base on the moon after all.

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