The WSFA Journal December 1999

The WSFA Journal

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

Edited by Samuel Lubell

I'm Glad Somebody Went
Top Ten Hanukkah Movies
Science and Science Fiction:
The End, Is It In Sight?

Full Moon Madness
An X-Files Christmas
A Black Hole Sucking in Fans
Progress Report on Setting Up Readings
Treasurer's Report

I'm Glad Somebody Went


The November Fifth, First Friday began with a "Let's start the meeting, I got 9:15 by my watch." Said Chair Judy.  There was no old business.  "What's our treasury dwindled down to?"  "It's dwindled down to $2,662.64"  "Let's knock off a 7-11" suggested Joe.

The Entertainment committee celebrated the Republican victory.  "I don't know what Gillmore was drinking but he left the part saying free at last, free at last."  John added, "I'm glad he didn't say, "Let there be Right."  <Plenty of room in Maryland for all you Virginia liberals>. 

John reported that the Smithsonian event went well.  "I'm reading about it.  I'm glad someone went.  I heard it went well.  It started with a low WSFA presence.  We had 120-140 participants.  Judy was held hostage by a stereotypical DC cabbie.  The book selling staff said they never had a book selling like ours.  Our Smithsonian rep said it went well and our participants seemed more energetic than usual, perhaps because they were not using walkers.  Will have a tape of the event and some photos."

Lee asked, "Can we post them?"  John replied. "A number of people mentioned web pages.  My task tomorrow before going to the bizarre brethren's soup and pie is to update the web page and send pictures to Locus and SF chronicle."

Eric, "Are they willing to do future programs."  John didn't know but said they were pleased.

Lee reported about the Arlington Library event.  "I'm running into the problem of people having holiday stuff so I can't find authors except for the one I hold captive.  I have him absolutely committed.  The event will be sometime between Christmas and New Years.  Will be finalized on the tenth.  Library will be doing programs because all the kids are out of school."  Sam suggested inviting Jews since their holiday would be over.

Covert for <name this convention> 2000 said.  "I'm dusting off books of floor plans and will be making calls before interviewing for a new job.  I want to get this out of the way."  Mike said that the representative from the Smithsonian said they would recommend us to hotels."

Covert recommended that the trustees appoint a 2001 convention chair with the other offices in May.

Joe said that Balticon will be on Easter in 2001 so we can't use that date.  Someone else said, we can but it would be stupid.  Joe commented, "Our pirate days are over." <Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum?>  Judy added, "We won't have to do pirate cons ever again."  <Insert your own IRS joke here> 

Eric for the austerity committee said, "I'd like to thank everyone who brought food, raise your hand.  Those who didn't should meet afterward to plan for the Ginters."  Joe suggested that we put out a jar <Jar Jar Binks?> for contributions.  Judy said, "We don't have a volunteer chair to coordinate."  Alexis said, "If those who want to bring something should call the host and ask what would be appropriate."  John asked if he could bring his fungi fish.  Lee said, "You can eat it."

Jeff Drumhiller described the SETI@home program.  Your computer can search for aliens in its spare time thanks to this screen saver.  If your computer finds the aliens you will be notified.  <And will be first to be eaten if the aliens are hungry when they get here.>  Eric added that screen savers exist to search for prime numbers.  <1, 3, 5,7,11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29 etc.>

Lee made a new rule.  "No reading in the bathroom.  People are crossing their legs."  "Science Fiction is going to pot," complained Joe.

Lee brought in an interview from Bush.  Princess Montgommera is visiting DC.  Meeting unanimously adjourned at 9:35. 

Attendance: Pres. Judy Kindell, Sec. Samuel Lubell, Treas. Bob MacIntosh, Trust. Lee Gilliland, 2000 Chair Covert Beach, Gail Dood, Alexis Gilliland, Eric Jablow, Keith Lynch, Nicki and Richard Lynch, Joe Mayhew, Michael Nelson, John Pomeranz, George Shaner, Lee Strong Michael Taylor, Ayce, Mathew Appleton, Charles Gilliland, Geoffrey Drumheller.


Top Ten Hanukkah Movies

The figures are finally in. The top 10 movie rentals over the Hanukkah holiday were:

10)   Three Men And A Bubbie
 9)   A Few Good Mentches
 8)   The Cohenheads 
 7)   The Rocky Hora Picture Show
 6)   Shalom Alone
 5)   Goyz `N The Hood
 4)   A Gefilte Fish Called Wanda
 3)   The Wizard Of Oys
 2)   Who Framed Roger Rabbi?    
 1)   Prelude To A Briss



Science and Science Fiction;

The End, Is It In Sight?


Alexis Gilliland


This essay started off as a review of John Horgan's The End of Science and sort of wandered.  Horgan makes an argument that science is in the process of ending; that the Universe is finite, or if infinite, that we humans may have discovered as much as we can comprehend.  To some extent this reflects on the limitations of the human mind, and to some extent this reflects on the limitations of the human budget process.  In the first instance, even the brightest of human minds is finite.  Imagine the limit to be expressed in units of BWAFU, books wholly absorbed and fully understood.  The lumpen intellectual might have a BWAFU of 10, the certified genius a BWAFU of 100.  As knowledge increases without limit, science divides itself into dozens and scores of mutually incomprehensible disciplines of 20 or 30 books apiece.  There is some overlap, of course, one would expect them all to use the same algebra if not the same statistics, but the basic truth is that one man can no longer encompass the sum of scientific knowledge.  In the second instance we may note that string theory, for example, postulates a set of ideas requiring the energies of an accelerator 1,000 light years in diameter for experimental verification.  The string theorists argue that their theory is so beautiful that it must also be true.  I don't know whether they cited Keats's Ode on a Grecian Urn, but they should have.  Keats said:  "`Beauty is truth, truth beauty.'  That is all Ye know on earth and all Ye need to know."  It seems certain that the creators of string theory are scientists, but they have ventured into an area where the rules of science cannot follow.  The muse that guides them is Euterpe rather than Thalia--poetry rather than astronomy (the only science the nine muses bothered with)--and the rigor of their math becomes simply a poetic constraint, not unlike that imposed by the sonnet or villanelle.  If you are pursuing scientific theory beyond the limits of scientific testability, are you still doing science?  Especially if your standard of proof is aesthetic rather than practical?  I am inclined to think not, although poetry written with scientific rigor might not be devoid of a certain color, strangeness and charm.  Should you want to extend your theory to praxis, however, you likely will require a practical standard of proof to engage the practical universe.


Ray guns and rocket ships, the meat and potatoes of that bad skiffy stuff, is also polluting the precious bodily fluids of science.  When Carl Sagan wrote Contact he asked a theoretical physicist friend for a way to go barging about the Cosmos at ftl speeds, and his good buddy came up with "wormholes".  By using wormholes in the service of science fiction, Sagan put in play a concept from the far reaches of science.  A beautiful concept, a fascinating concept, one which has the advantage of not being theoretically forbidden and the flaw of not being practically testable.  And yet, and yet . . . because it is beautiful, in the special effects universe of movies and TV, it has thriven mightily.  And because the idea is popular, feedback generates a certain amount of theoretical interest.  Why would I imagine that a wormhole might NOT connect points of interest, or that a spaceship going into a wormhole might emerge from the other end as a pouf of plasma or maybe a flare of gamma rays?  Perhaps because I am ignorant of the arcana of theoretical physics, but more likely because I am not depending on wormholes to make the plot of my story work.  Wormholes are a conjecture, made in response to Sagan's plot needs; science fiction subverting to sheer frivolity the best and brightest minds science has to offer.  Well, even scientists are allowed to play now and then, and it is only human to be infatuated with the beauty of one's cockamamie ideas.  As science, however, wormholes are missing a few necessary pieces, such as proof of existence.      


The end of science is also like brennschluss.  The thrust ceases as the rocket stops burning, but the motion does not; the rocket has been launched on its trajectory, or even into orbit.  The engineering based on the science goes on grinding out practical solutions to mundane problems long after the scientific insight has ossified into dogma.  Dogma?  In science?  We are shocked, shocked to imagine that anything of the sort might happen.  Yet when we contemplate science as a whole, we note that some areas are known so well that they are no longer under active investigation.  The Patent Office, for instance, will no longer accept applications for perpetual motion machines.  Forget perpetual motion, and the starship "Enterprise," look at the backwaters rather than their associated will-o-the-wisps.  When I was at the National Bureau of Standards, I worked in the Thermochemistry Section under Donald Wagman.  About five years after I left, he retired upon the publication of the definitive work on Chemical Thermodynamic Properties.  If you come up with a new compound, you can get a better value of its heat of formation by adding the individual bond energies listed in the book than by direct measurement.  There are other backwaters, and not trivial ones like thermodynamics.  Confounding the Explorer's Club, satellites have mapped the Earth's surface with great precision, and the periodic table is pretty much what it was half a century ago.  True, from the "original" 92 elements we are now up to 109, Seaborgium, but it is a laboratory curiosity with a half-life of a few seconds, detectable only in the act of coming unglued after being laboriously assembled.  In general, the things that are useful are well known, and routinely applied in engineering.  The physics of Newton for everyday life and the physics of Einstein for where everyday life leaves off are well understood.  Advances beyond Einstein may inform the cognoscenti of what happened in the Big Bang's first billionth of a second; interesting, but unlikely to have any practical application.  As scientists walk along Newton's beach, away from the old region of a Human centered universe, the pretty pebbles they find have-- for some reason--less and less to do with Humanity.


Which brings us back to science fiction and its time honored aspiration to go to the stars, to conquer space and time, to boldly go where no man has gone before, to colonize the Universe, or at least scribble graffiti on its pristine surfaces.  To be sure, some sci-fi depends on doubletalk the misunderstanding of the science it seeks to apply.  For example, about 1950 Planet Stories published a short story in which a spaceship is falling into the sun, and the pilot saves himself by flushing the toilet, as the waste water (Inferentially he was connected to the New York water main, but not to the sewer line) turns to steam and provides the needed thrust to escape.  Another example involved cooling something down faster and faster until it crashed through the "Absolute Zero" barrier into a new dimension.  There is also an L. Ron Hubbard story somewhere, in which an inattentive crewman lets the ship go from .99999c to 1.00000c, as if this "oops" were possible.  Science fiction verging on science fantasy asks the question:  "What did the author know, and when did he know it?"  Roger Zelazny wrote "A Rose For Ecclesiastes" shortly before NASA probes showed the Mars he imagined didn't exist.  But when he wrote, nobody knew for sure and ARFE qualified as science fiction, Martian Princesses and all.  Kim Stanley Robinson wrote his Mars books, imagining the terraforming of NASA's Red Mars into Green and Blue Mars.  What did Robinson imagine that will turn out to be contra-factual?  Most likely his time scale for terraforming Mars is way too short, a necessary flaw in the story he wanted to write.  Are there other flaws?  Perhaps.  What sort of story would it have been if there had been no humans, only a posse of robots doing all the work?  We can do without the comely Martian Princesses of Zelazny and Burroughs, but we can't have action adventure stories without people.

Returning to The End Of Science, do I think Horgan is onto something?  Well, maybe.  My own field of science, thermochemistry, has "ended" in that it is well understood and essentially complete.  This does not make it a less useful tool, only a limited one.  Other fields of science may end soon, or run into to law of diminishing returns.  There is no assurance of unending progress, but things still haven't ground to a universal halt.   Look over the progress of science, and see where it is running and where it is slogging along.  Despite new materials and computer assisted design, Lockheed is laboring to build the X-33, the so-called Venture Star, which will cut the cost of going into orbit by an order of magnitude compared with the Space Shuttle--which was designed with slide rules during the Nixon Administration.  Slog, slog.  Computers, on the other hand are getting faster and more powerful and cheaper at an alarming rate.  In the wings lurks the top-secret quantum computer, a potential war-winner orders of magnitude more powerful than conventional computers.  Run, run!   The problems of the future are formidable, in part because the easy problems have been solved in the past.  And yet, if a rocket burning hydrogen and oxygen is THE way to get out of Earth's gravity well, Lockheed's Venture Star looks to be the best that can be done, pretty much the end of the line.  If the promise of anti-gravity, or of ships that sail to the stars [powered by matter/anti-matter or other special effects] remains unrealized, then Venture Star will be the way we escape from Earth, albeit at a thousand dollars a pound to low Earth orbit.  As Jerry Pournelle once said:  "We'll get to the stars if we have to walk."  Sigh.  From the beginning, space enthusiasts have underestimated the costs of getting into orbit; if they could have imagined, if they could have known, maybe they wouldn't have made the attempt. 


In the long term, I think Hogan may be right.  Science has been puttering along for close to four centuries, following an S-shaped growth curve, or more properly, a whole series of S-shaped growth curves, as one subject after another was studied to full understanding.  A leveling off seems inevitable as the tops of these several curves are approached.  At a guess, by 2050 this leveling off will have taken place, and by 2400 the problem will be to retrieve useful knowledge from the vast body of work that will then be available.  The librarians will take over from the laboratory workers, who will, perhaps, BE librarians getting hands-on experience with what their texts are talking about.  Perhaps under the careful instruction of the texts themselves, robots dedicated to the preservation of a scientific dogma that is so close to the truth as to be immune to overthrow or maybe even revision.  In the near term, the end may not be obvious because the final scientific advances will dazzle the world. 


 How these final advances will affect Humanity's leap into space remains to be seen.  A lot depends on where the limits of science are; if they are presently in view, if the Venture Star really is the best that can be done, then the scenario is a lot different than one in which some skiffy special effect has gone from dream to reality.  Kim Stanley Robinson's vision of the future, terraforming Mars with, for, and by people, is attractive but overly optimistic.  More likely, I think, is the creation of robots who will go into space and build habitats for humans to occupy.  It seems inevitable that these habitats will be computer operated, designed to maintain themselves at some optimum set of conditions, a state called homeostasis.  By analogy, if the habitat is the body and its net of interconnected computers and sensors are the brain and nervous system, the feedback necessary to sustain homeostasis could plausibly create self-awareness.  The reader will recall Fred Saberhagen's "Berserker" series, and perhaps Jack Williamson's "With Folded Hands" as stfnal warnings of the dangers posed by our out-of-control robots.  What is being considered here is a kind of anti-Berserker, whose mission is not to destroy life, but to create habitats for it, and whose attitude towards humanity (unlike Williamson's overly solicitous robots) could be a relatively benign neglect, ignoring those insignificant primates until provoked by their bad behavior.  From a stfnal point of view, such sentient habitats pose serious story telling problems.  On the one hand, those anti-Berserkers would reduce humanity to total insignificance, sort of like the fish in a universe of self-replicating aquariums.  On the other, imagine that you are living inside one of them; your habitat is a module, one of hundreds or thousands assembled on a rack, each module enclosing a biosphere (or biocylinder) 2,500 square miles in area, AND they are sentient.  Big, as in huge; powerful as in life-giving and world-sustaining; and sentient, as in it knows your name, and can tell you where to go; how can you not be in worshipful awe of this entity in which you live?  Collateral damage from the end of science would appear to be resorbtion of science fiction into the realm of fantasy.



Full Moon Madness

By Bill Fant via Elspeth Kovar


Interesting Celestial Tidbit --

This year will be the first full moon to occur on the winter solstice, Dec. 22, commonly called the first day of winter.  Since a full moon on the winter solstice occurred in conjunction with a lunar perigee (point in the moon's orbit that is closest to Earth).  The moon will appear about 14% larger than it does at apogee (the point in it's elliptical orbit that is farthest from the Earth) since the Earth is also several million miles closer to the sun at this time of the year than in the summer, sunlight striking the moon is about 7% stronger making it brighter.  Also, this will be the closest perigee of the Moon of the year since the moon's orbit is constantly deforming.  If the weather is clear and there is a snow cover where you live, it is believed that even car headlights will be superfluous.


On December 21st. 1866 the Lakota Sioux took advantage of this combination of occurrences and staged a devastating retaliatory ambush on soldiers in the Wyoming Territory.


In laymen's terms it will be a super bright full moon, much more than the usual AND it hasn't happened this way for 133 years! Our ancestors 133 years ago saw this.  Our descendants 100 or so years from now will see this again.



An X-Files Christmas





We're too late! It's already been here.

Mulder, I hope you know what you're doing.

Look, Scully, just like the other homes: Douglas fir, truncated, mounted, transformed into a shrine; halls decked with boughs of holly; stockings hung by the chimney, with care.

You really think someone's been here?

Someone ... or something.

Mulder, over here-it's a fruitcake.

Don't touch it!  Those things can be lethal.

It's O.K.  There's a note attached: "Gonna find out who's naughty and nice."

It's judging them, Scully.  It's making a list.

Who?  What are you talking about?

Ancient mythology tells of an obese humanoid entity who could travel at great speed in a craft powered by antlered servants.  Once each year, near the winter solstice, this creature is said to descend from the heavens to reward its followers and punish disbelievers with jagged chunks of anthracite.

But that's legend, Mulder-a story told by parents to frighten children. Surely you don't believe it?

Something was here tonight, Scully.  Check out the bite marks on this gingerbread man.  Whatever tore through this plate of cookies was massive-and in a hurry.

It left crumbs everywhere.  And look, Mulder, this milk glass has been completely drained.

It gorged itself, Scully.  It fed without remorse.

But why would they leave it milk and cookies?

Appeasement.  Tonight is the Eve, and nothing can stop its wilding.

But if this thing does exist, how did it get in? The doors and windows were locked.  There's no sign of forced entry.

Unless I miss my guess, it came through the fireplace.

Wait a minute, Mulder.  If you're saying some huge creature landed on the roof and came down this chimney, you're crazy. The flue is barely six inches wide. Nothing could get down there.

But what if it could alter its shape, move in all directions at once?

You mean, like a bowl full of jelly?

Exactly.  Scully, I've never told anyone this, but when I was a child my home was visited.  I saw the creature.  It had long white shanks of fur surrounding its ruddy, misshapen head.  Its bloated torso was red and white.  I'll never forget the horror.  I turned away, and when I looked back it had somehow taken on the facial features of my father.


I know what I saw.  And that night it read my mind.  It brought me a Mr. Potato Head, Scully.  It knew that I wanted a Mr. Potato Head!

I'm sorry, Mulder, but you're asking me to disregard the laws of physics.  You want me to believe in some supernatural being who soars across the skies and brings gifts to good little girls and boys. Listen to what you're saying.  Do you understand the repercussions? If this gets out, they'll close the X-files.

Scully, listen to me: It knows when you're sleeping.  It knows when you're awake.

But we have no proof.

Last year, on this exact date, SETI radio telescopes detected bogeys in the airspace over twenty-seven states.  The White House ordered a Condition Red.

But that was a meteor shower.

Officially.  Two days ago, 8 prized Scandinavian reindeer vanished from the National Zoo, in Washington, D.C.  Nobody-not even the zookeeper-was told about it.  The government doesn't want people to know about Project Kringle.  They fear that if this thing is proved to exist the public will stop spending half its annual income in a holiday shopping frenzy.  Retail markets will collapse. Scully, they cannot let the world believe this creature lives.  There's too much at stake. They'll do whatever it takes to insure another silent night.

Mulder, I-

    Sh-h-h.  Do you hear what I hear?

On the roof.  It sounds like ... a clatter.

The truth is up there.  Let's see what's the matter. 


A Black Hole Sucking in Fans

The 11/19 Third Friday was called to order with the ritual, "Oh well.  It's 9:18 so I'm gonna start the meeting.  Hello, Joe?  You said something about having a meeting?"  After quieting down the riotous crowd Judy continued, "We seem to have lost our treasurer?"  "He's in Springfield"  "Virginia or Illinois?"

            The Entertainment committee reported finding entertainment in the oddest places and claimed to have spotted a volcano that looks like Elvis.

            Eric, for the austerity committee reported, "People are bringing food.  That's good.  People who didn't bring food should get together and coordinate."

            Mike Walsh reported that "At World Fantasy Convention, we sold a Shiner book for $45.   Which is where our treasurer is, spending that money."

            Covert <name that con> 2000 chair said he is visiting hotels.  "They're having problems getting to me and I'm trying to get the Ramada in Shillington and a former Ramada in Alexandria where Scottish games are held.  The closer in we are the greater the sticker shock is."

Eric suggested Fredericksburg.  Covert replied, "There's a barn, I mean a hotel there."  Joe said, "the Old Yorick <I knew it, Horatio> dating back to 1820s, price is desperation.  Old York, Pennsylvania.  More central for the New England people."  Covert continued.  "I'm considering the Columbia Sheraton for that reason.  We'll use negligible space from what we're used to."  Erica commented that "They had a couple of costume cons there so used to weird people."

            Keith said, "Have you looked at the Hilton in Arlington.  It is close to the metro and used for Galaxicon."  Joe said it would be hard for parking.  Keith said, "All this talk of Columbia and York Penn for God's sake why not go back to Melbourne, that's a good place."

Lee said, "One of the problems is that close in the riff raff comes in."  Eric pointed out, "You can always kill them."  Joe said, "Too much trouble.  You have to get rid of the bodies."

            Keith said, "But it is not good if the con is so far that locals can't commute."  Joe said, "That's good because helps us meet the room block."  Lee said, "And if don't get day trippers and meet the room block the function rooms are more money."  Keith said, "I think we need to encourage new people.  If we are far out, can't get them."  Lee said, "Not true, look at Philcon."

            Sam Pierce said, "Lot's of young people, fewer Goths.  They've gone mainstream and not strange enough for us anymore."  Covert said, "Being close in, room rates are too high.  That place is right on top of a metro."   

            Sam Lubell said, "When we were in DC or close in the room rates were high, we didn't make the block, and we weren't invited back."  Sam P asked, "When are you looking."  Covert said, "Columbus Day is pretty open."  Joe said, "We need to ask when are you most free."  Covert said, "When is your deadest weekend."  Joe said, "Confluence is in February.  If more north, you get more people.  The Southerners don't cross the mountains."  <We'll head them off in the pass.>

            Covert explained this, "In Richmond there's a black hole sucking in fans.  Sam P asked, "Do you think North Carolina fans will draw us in." 

            Various personal insults about fans were said here.  Mike Walsh said to put in the official minutes, "At this point there was a mysterious 11 ½ minute gap in the tape."  <So the insults and WSFA's own enemies list have been nixed.>

            Lee's committee on author readings read a paper with timeline on what she's done.  See article in this issue.  "Elephants are trumpeting but I don't want to push my nose in.  They're probably take pity on me and give me a weekend just to get rid of me."  Joe said, "I'm going to talk to the library in Prince Georges and do something for adults.  Kids don't want to go to kids' programs.  They want good programs.  We might be as Byzantine."  Joe said, "It may be good sh!t but is it art?"

            Someone yelled.  "You made a mistake but not specifying which autumn."  Sam Lubell suggested trying bookstores.  Joe said, "Bookstores will be controlling.  They won't..."  Colleen interjected, "They won't let you talk of anything out of print."  But Eric pointed out "But they've got web sites where you can search for out of print."  Joe said, "The fact that I'm doing something should not excuse the rest of you."

            There was no old business.  There was no new business. 

            Erica said, "I'm not interested in coordinating things to be brought but don't bring brownies because brownies get stuck in the carpet."  <Are other types of fairies okay then?  Suppose they don't make shoes and are just Apple Cobblers?> 

            Alexis said, "I'll dig them in plastic next."  He suggested that instead of buying big stuff, that we buy smaller bags of better quality stuff.

            "Any new house rules," Eric tempted fate.  Evan said, "Today is the last day where all digits are odd.  This won't happen again until January 1st, 3111.  All digits are squares.  This won't happen until January 1st, 4000."

            Covert reported a new job.  "I can give up the old one.  I'm IT director for imagery lab at Navy Yard."  Colleen said the Library of Congress will have three meetings.  On the 21st of January, they will show Ramda ½.  In March, Kurt Veen on Colliding Galaxies.

            Alexis said, "My oddest panel ever was a poetry slam with Darrell reading his poetry and taking turns with others.  When I ran out of poems a little old lady gave me her poems and I read a few.  Anything to break up Darrel."  There was a general discussion about Philcon panels.

            The meeting unanimously adjourned at 9:56.

            Attendance: Pres. Judy Kindell, VP Sam Pierce, Sec. Samuel Lubell, Trust. Lee Gilliland, 2000 Chair Covert Beach, Bernard bell, Colleen Cahill, Alexis Gilliland, Erica Ginter, Eric Jablow, Elspeth Kovar, Keith Lynch, Keith Marshall, Joe Mayhew, Walter Miles, Barry and Judy Newton, Meridel Newton, Evan Phillips, George Shaner, Michael Taylor, Michael Lummis, Kathleen Plat, and the Pilgrim Fathers.


Announcement:  Alexis and Lee Gilliland have gotten an apartment.  If any of you know of extra furniture etc., please let them know.


The Fox network was interviewing authors and artists about what to expect in the next 10, 100, and 1000 years.  Lee and Alexis Gilliland were interviewed and the special will be shown New Year's Eve.


Progress Report

On Setting Up Readings At

The Arlington Central Library


            At the end of May, 1999, Lee Gilliland was assigned to head up a committee that would arrange for readings by local authors at the Arlington Central Library (ACL).  This effort was inspired by WSFA's charter, which justifies its tax status by performing this sort of educational activity.  It was not the only effort; we should like to thank John Pomeranz, whose joint WSFA=Smithsonian symposium on how to write science fiction will justify WSFA's tax status into the next millennium.


            The time line for the ACL effort is roughly as follows:  In June, Lee was given the name of Donna Gates, who was not immediately available.  In July, Donna agrees to present the WSFA proposal to the ACL Steering Committee after returning from the ABA meeting in Las Vegas.  In September, Donna was transferred to the Columbia Pike Branch of the ACL, and the WSFA proposal was referred to Paul Lewis, who was in charge of setting up ACL's autumn programming as head of the newly formed Program Committee.  By the end of September, the Program Committee had reorganized itself so that Ms. Longstreet had been named to head the committee.  In October, the WSFA proposal was presented to Ms. Longstreet, who appeared interested in a series of readings in November-December.  Her intention was to present the WSFA proposal to the ACL Program Committee, and she said to call back November 10, when a decision would have been taken.  Or maybe not.  On November 17, it was learned that ACL programming was now headed by Ms. Stringfellow.  It is presently unclear whether or not the fratricidal ACL Program Committee remains operational.


            Given that the holidays are upon us, it seems likely that the WSFA proposal--for whatever reasons--will miss the autumn programming window envisioned by Ms. Longstreet.  Local authors who have so far expressed an interest in giving readings include Catharine Asaro, Brenda Clough, and Alexis Gilliland.

Treasurer's Report 
By Bob MacIntosh

November expenditures were:


First Friday                $38.11

WSFA Journal          $31.23


Revenue: WSFA Book (Thank you Mike W.) $45.00