Sunday, January 09, 2005

Tsunami Relief

The link below will take you to sites that are providing relief to the areas affected by the recent disaster. Our hearts go out to the tsunami victims and their families.

Links Provided by Google...

Friday, January 07, 2005


Some notes of my own on Challenger #20. First and most obviously, my apologies for the dreadful appearance of the photographs – the result of my personal laziness in cleaning the jets of our printer. Thanks again to Patrice Green for making the shots look simply great on the Challenger website. Secondly, and sadly, I must note the passing of Faye Best, author of “It’s Me, Katy, Talking”. Her daughter said that Faye spoke often of me and the other members of my writing class from Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina, and that means a lot. Rest peacefully, fine lady.

The letters below deal not only with Challenger #20, but The Zine Dump and, in one instance, the Noreascon 4 Program Book! Which cues ...

We Also Heard From: Chris Barkley, Astrid Bear, Ms. Ruby Bernstein (my high school journalism teacher), Camille Cazedessus (“As for me, I'd prefer to sit next to Mike Resnick and listen”), Brian Comnes, Harlan Ellison, E.B. Frohvet, Mike Glyer, Patrice Green, Jan Grogan, John Hertz, Ben Indick, Terry Jeeves, Samanda Jeude, Earl Kemp, Robert Lichtman, Joy Moreau, Janeen Schouten, Sheila Strickland (nice of her to mention my Hugo nomination at CrescentCityCon), Frank Wu, Kate Yule (“You inspire me – maybe we should include some SF content in the next Bento!”).

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Brad W Foster, Irving Texas USA

Greetings Guy ~

I was so pleased to find a new Challenger in the mail this week, and then doubly surprised to discover, as I read the locs commenting on things I had no recollection of, that somewhere along the lines I never got a copy of issue #19! No wonder it felt like it had been so long between issues. Is there any chance there is a copy left of #19 you could send this way? Love to read Sue's comments on her Hugo win, and Mike's Torcon report.

As soon as I reprint; in the meantime, check out Patrice Green’s superb website,

It all kind of felt like the pissed-off curmudgeon issue here, what with things like the Resnick movie rant, and Taral’s Thunderbirds comments.

I think Mike does, indeed, need to relax a bit on finding the problems in sci-fi movies. (And I have selected that term carefully here.) I no longer am concerned when they are done badly, I have come to expect that, but just try to appreciate more those efforts that work well. I mean, I can quibble too, like I thought the remake of The Thing actually did a better job of the core of the original story, of the not knowing who the creature was at any time, the paranoia of such a scenario. The first movie was, to me, standard sci-fi "monster-out-there" stuff. The remake had that creepy "who is it" idea much better. And as for the Star Wars movies, forget all the science-versus-psi’ence stuff, the thing that bugged me was what I see in so many movies, where the good guy has the bad guy in his sights, and the bad guy gives some sort of "You can't hurt me, then you'd be as bad as me" crap, and the hero buys it. Of course, then the bad guy does some underhanded thing so the good guy can still kill him, but now in personal, at-that-moment self defense. give me a break!

As far as Thunderbirds and their brethren, just nice to see a mention of Fireball XL5. I remember little of the original TV show, but I do recall having a super-cool toy of the main Fireball ship with all sorts of neat little parts that I spent endless hours playing with. Love to have that back again!

On Albert's actually, really, honestly seeing the spectre of Death itself ... well, I can see I believe that he believes it, and that he does so quite strongly, since he has no problem in telling us that he was sitting comfortably in a place where he could easily fall asleep before it started, and that he also could just have easily still been asleep when his beeper woke him. Yes, he makes a point of saying he wasn't asleep. I find that very hard to believe. I have a distinct memory as a child of a skeleton walking down the hall outside my bedroom. My memory says it was really there, my brain tells me it is more likely a very strong memory of a very strong dream. But hey, a cool story.

The part of Tim Marion's article about visiting with his parents that sticks in my mind is when he notes he spent time laying outside in the sun, after previously having noted how much he hated the heat in New York, and how hot and uncomfortable it was there. I've never understood the urge to lay down in the sun and get hot. Maybe has to do with the fact I am one of the world's major sweating machines, my shirt will get soaked when the temperature just starts to graze 80 degrees. And yet, here I live in Texas ... of course, my definition of "outside" is that area I move through as quickly as possible from the air-conditioned building to the air-conditioned vehicle.

Major nods of agreement with "What About that Ditch?" Had the opportunity to truly set an example for the world of how ultimate power can be used ... but heck, looks like it has corrupted once more. Proud of this country, embarrassed by the people presently in charge of it all.

Joe Major, Louisville Kentucky USA

Interesting cover. You do remember Enemy Ace, don't you?

And how. Remember that his first book-length adventure made my top-15-comics-stories list a few issues back
Fandom won't put Charlie Williams and Marc Schirmeister and Randy Cleary and Jeff Potter and Kurt Erichsen on the Hugo ballot next year. They will be overwhelmed by the folks who say, "yeah, I know Teddy Harvia, I'll put him down ..." Just like the people who say, "Fan Writer? Sure, Langford and ... and ... and ..." Not to mention the people who say "I saw Berkwits ask to be nominated and I saw Flynn, so I'll put them down."

“The Real Future of Space”: Today Bert Rutan's SpaceShipOne flew. Spending $20,000,000+ to win $10,000,000 I hope the foundation has . . .

Fred Pohl wrote "The Midas Plague" as an examination of how a post-money society might work. Then he thought about how it would work and wrote "The Man Who Ate the World". Nothing in a post-money society ever has to be fixed, even the people. Er, make that "repaired". Having goods is only half the problem of economics.

Mike Resnick would profit from examining the Internet Movie Data Base ( where many of his questions can be answered. For example, he asks, "Let's take Blade Runner (and someone please explain the title, since I never saw a blade or a runner in the whole damned movie)."

Ridley Scott read a script that was an adaptation of Alan E. Nourse's The Blade Runner. (Written by William S. Burroughs, for what it's worth.) He liked the title, so he bought the rights to that. Just the title. Then he bought the rights to Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and made that into the movie. Deckard is supposed to get the replicants before they kill Tyrell.

I don't think we can say anything against Blade Runner, considering that Kiln People, which has much the same idea, was nominated for Best Novel Hugo.

As for E.T., he is the advance scout for the aliens of Independence Day. "We've got them psychologically softened up: now we attack!"

"What is a woman with an unexceptional day job doing living in a $900,000 house in one of the posher parts of the Los Angeles area?"

Because everyone the director knew who had an unexceptional day job lived in a $900,000 house in one of the posher parts of the Los Angeles area. Movies always overstate the real income of the characters. In Flashdance Alex (Jennifer Beals plus Marine Jehan [dance double]) is a union welder and an interpretative dancer. She lives in a loft that a yuppie would pay $3k month for.

Mad magazine had an even better question about E.T.; if he can cure injuries by touching them, why doesn't he cure himself?

People who are in horror movies don't watch horror movies. You know: "Well, here we are, the car broke down in the middle of the storm in the middle of the night and we have to take refuge in the scary old mansion where all the people were killed thirty years ago. What are we going to do? Hey, let's go skinny dipping!" The people in The Blair Witch Project were in a part of Maryland where walking in a straight line in any direction for two hours would get them to safety. So they wandered around shooting grotesque close-ups of each other.

Actually, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen left out a number of Victorian figures. Frank Reade, for example. Or Harry Flashman. Captain Nemo is an Indian, according to L'Isle mysterieuse. The karate, now . . . The movie people couldn't get the rights to the "Griffin" character of Wells's original book, so they put in a new Invisible Man.

Blast Taral Wayne. Now I've got the theme song from Fireball XL-5 running through my head. "My heart will be with Fireball ... with Fireball..." and since there were only three channels we could pick up then, in Hopkinsville, I can't even find anything else distracting.

If Dr. Hilton will get in touch with Cathy Gill or Greg Sullivan of the Sherlock Holmes/Arthur Conan Doyle Symposium (I can provide email addresses), to arrange to read or have this read there, I am sure all those involved would be extremely pleased. As for Sutton having the seven thousand pounds, I recall reading a book on the Great Train Robbery which listed what each of the robbers did with his money. The largest category was "stolen by minder." And the Brinks Robbery was broken because O'Keefe had had his share stolen by Joe McGinniss. So it makes perfect sense to me that Sutton/Blessington would keep the seven thousand quid, but tell the bobbies (and the Crown Prosecution Service) that the others had it.

"In a bedroom I found my little cousin Joe, with at least two bigger, older girls piled on top of him". Of all the people in the world, I turn out not to be related to Tim Marion. Sigh.

Milt Stevens says of Vic Mackey from The Shield: "If Mackey was assigned to the case, he would immediately de-rail a train, commit piracy on the high seas, burn down a pre-school, torture a few nuns, and then decide he didn't give a shit about the Unabomber anyway." And then he would open this package he got from Montana.

IMDB says "The police technical consultant to the show told Michael Chiklis (who plays Vic Mackey) that all police officers would love the show, even those above the rank of captain who would denounce it in public." Doesn't this worry you?

To E. B. Frohvet: I suppose George Price and I will get around to editing the article on Citizen of the Galaxy by the end of the year. You will be able to see then the point about infant footprints, which determines slightly more than an insurance payment . . .

Robert Kennedy: Back a decade and a half ago there was quite the kerfuffle over one year's Best Fanzine Hugo. A committee of thirty-one fans signed an advertisement saying that since none of the nominated fanzines was really Hugo quality, fans should vote "No Award" for Best Fanzine. A Noreascon Hugo administrator pointed out that only five of the fans who had signed the ad had bothered to nominate anything, and if they had all nominated a fanzine, it would have got on the ballot. It was later pointed out that the thirty-one fans would probably have nominated a hundred and fifty-five different fanzines (at five each) or something like that; anyway, that there wasn't that much agreement. Nevertheless, the incident confirmed my belief that fandom consists of people who don't do things they think should be done but corrosively criticize those who do.

Martin Morse Wooster: Why do you think I had the CSI team make up a profile that so failed to describe Hut Man? Especially since real profilers did exactly that.

"It's Me, Katy, Talking": Why am I reminded that Whittaker Chambers translated Felix Salten's Bambi?

“Strange Schwartz Stories”: You never know when you have it so good. I think that applies to all of us.

E.B. Frohvet, Ellicott City Maryland USA

Regrettably, I never had occasion to meet Julius Schwartz. I never thought of comics fandom and SF fandom having much overlap.

This is the first piece of Frank Wu’s art I have ever seen. Colorful. Acrylics, right? It would require enormous patience to do that sort of thing in oils.

I thought you were a little hard on poor old Reagan. Given that you vigorously disagreed with his policies – it still seems as if you were most ticked off because he was good at putting up a charming facade. He was an actor and a politician. What did you expect? I don’t even think he hated poor people. I think he was just totally oblivious.

Nancy Reagan’s courageous – and wise – campaign on behalf of stem-cell research has won me over insofar as she is concerned, and I applaud Ron Jr.’s public disgust with W, so at least my resentment with RR doesn’t extend to his family. Nor to his movies: he was very fine in Kings Row and Night Unto Night – and never worse than Not Bad.

“The Real Future of Space”: I assume we’re agreed that sub-orbital, a la Bert Rutan, is a dead end, except for tourism. Making sub-orbital economically feasible does not make orbital economically feasible. And no nation on Earth is going to allow nuclears for Earth-launch. So we’re stuck with chemical rockets. Which means we need a chemical heavy-lifter-to-orbit: either the shuttle, or an unmanned large rocket. And someone is going to have to pay for that. Barring some breakthrough that makes orbital launch cost-effective, the U.S. government looks like the only plausible candidate.

(Or, we need to solve the problems of 2005-2007 before we concern ourselves with the problems of 2059.)

Mike Resnick overlooks the fact that movies (yes, even LotR) are made for an audience of 15-year-old boys; not him.

I had the pleasure of meeting Robert Kennedy at Chicon, back in the day when I was still attending conventions.

Craig Hilton’s impression of the U.S. appears to have come from bad news reports. The media in Australia are most likely to see the U.S. through the lens of politics and international affairs, which almost certainly does not represent a fair picture. Feel free to come visit, Craig, you’ll find us more complex – and probably more likable – than your (dare I say “simplistic”?) impression.

But Craig has visited America. I met him here in the mid-eighties.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Alexis A. Gilliland, Arlington Virginia USA

Thank you for Challenger #20, a very impressive issue. We note the splendid Frank Wu cover, which combines a mythical fire-breathing dragon with the real Baron Manfred von Richtofen and his Fokker triplane. Well, he was real, but the Red Baron had the good luck to die in 1918 before being associated with the Nazis, and flew into legend, so I guess it’s all right.

I never had any professional dealings with Julie Schwartz, but I knew him from going to conventions, and he was aware of my cartooning, and one Lunacon he presented me with a shiny gold Superman pin. And the next year, he asked me why I wasn’t wearing it, and I told him that when my son had seen it, he said All right! and all of a sudden it was his pin. Julie thought that was very funny, but he didn’t have any replacement for me. A fine look at olden times by focusing on one of the major olden timers.

Greg Benford’s article, “The Real Future of Space”, was interesting but does not offer any persuasive scenarios for the human colonization of space. Better rockets are needed less than better destinations. Earlier this month, the first civil spacecraft – a rocket launched from an airplane at 50,000 feet – made it up to 62 miles and then returned safely. They said it cost $20 million, and it’s really neat, but what it is is a glorified amusement park ride. One presumes that with modest (or maybe not so modest) scaling up, a plane-carried rocket could make it up into low Earth orbit, though NASA never chose to go that route.

The old dream, von Braun’s plan for an earth-orbiting station supporting a Moon-orbiting station, supporting a base on the Moon’s surface (from where Gerard K. O’Neil was building his L-5 habitats) still seems as far away as ever. Or receding – these days we can’t even make repairs on the Hubble. Given the rates of change in rocket science (slow, expensive, and pretty much mature) and computer science (going like the Energizer Bunny with no asymptotic limit in sight) it is likely that the move into space will have to robotic.

The only money-making space application is telecommunication satellites, which are controlled from the ground. Light-minutes or hours further out, ground control will be difficult to impossible, so the machines will need to be invested with intelligence. To do what? To do what they can. Compare the PCs of 20 years ago with the PCs of today, and then extrapolate today’s little Mars Rover 20 years into the future. If humans are going into space, then UberRovers of the future will have to go before them to construct a destination, a nice shirtsleeves environment, complete with biosphere, ready to be occupied.

What else? Nice to see a photo of Jerry Jacks again; he was, for a time a WSFA member, and a guest in my house. “Dope Court” is depressing; interesting, but sad. The editorial on Ronnie reminds me that the final verdict on that complex man is still out. Dick Cheney said, “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.” Reagan wouldn’t agree with him. When his deficit was heading for a whopping 6% of the GDP, Reagan took back some of his humongous tax cuts by enacting the biggest peacetime tax hike in history. His deficits didn’t matter because he didn’t let them get out of control. Currently the GOP looks to be shaping itself in the image of George W. Bush: rich, Southern, socially conservative and fiscally irresponsible. And hopefully out of power after this November.

Wouldn’t it have been nice ...

Martin Morse Wooster, Silver Spring Maryland USA

Many thanks for Challenger #20. And congratulations on your well-earned Hugo nomination! I have problems with one or two of the fanzines on the Hugo ballot, and a majority of the fan writers, but you deserve to be there, and I hope to see you walking across the stage to snag that rocket in September!

Mike Resnick’s article about the stupidities in SF movies was, as with all of Resnick’s articles, funny and entertaining. I think my threshold of stupidity in on-screen entertainment is lower than Resnick’s, but there are plenty of times when we must cringe at what Hollywood offers us. Take, for example, The Matrix Revolutions, a 2 ½ hour compendium of every war movie cliche ever conceived. (As Washington Post film critic Stephen Hunter notes, The Matrix Revolutions is a film where a character named “The Kid” runs across a battlefield carrying an ammo can to help a machine gunner operating a giant robot.) I’m sure that Resnick screamed when he saw Phileas Fogg, in Around the World in 80 Days, wearing Rollerblades.

Gregory Benford’s piece about the future of space was, as always, thought-provoking. But where did Benford get the notion that we will run out of oil in 50 years? I’m sure that we’ll run of oil at some point, and I don’t believe the theory that oil is continuously created. But all the evidence of the past suggests that when the price of oil rises, companies get to work and find new areas to drill in. Isn’t it true that if we only had the proven reserves of 1978, we’d have very little oil now? I’m sure other forms of power will be economically viable sometime, but we ought to let the market decide which form of power production is the most efficient.

I was happy that Guy got permission to reprint his 1974 interview with Julius Schwartz. I only saw Schwartz at cons, although I did read and enjoy his autobiography, Man of Two Worlds. But I do know from reading Bill Schelly’s biography of Otto Binder what a good boss Schwartz was. Or comics editors browbeat their freelancers, or tormented them. Schwartz had no need to play power games or have ego trips. By all accounts, Schwartz was a nice guy, who gave some of comics’ greatest creators ample freedom to do their best work. My guess is that Schwartz’s fundamental decency is one of many reasons why he will be missed.

Trinlay Khadro, Brown Deer Wisconsin USA

Thank you for the introduction to Julie Schwartz – wish I could have met him. He’s certainly one of the godfathers of fandom.

I certainly recognize you in the photos of your younger self.

Great batch of cartoons and art this ish, too.

I’ll always recall “Ronnie” as the man who declared ketchup as adequate for a vegetable serving in school lunches. (As a mom I’ve found that if I stock the fridge with fruit and raw veggies I have to hurry to restock them.)

I loved the Thunderbirds, Stingray and Fireball XL-5 – when I was somewhere between 3 and 7 years old. Was it Stingray that had the Sea Princess who couldn’t/wouldn’t speak? The ads for the live action movie seems absolutely goofy. It would have been better to stick to the puppets IMHO.

I was a little old to appreciate those shows, but have never forgotten the blonde mermaid on Diver Dan.

I got a kick out of Albert Hoffman’s encounter with Death. I’ve always thought of Death as a compassionate, patient “guy” with a difficult job.

Thus the success of Sandman’s sister as a character – and Peter Beagle’s terrific short story “Come Lady Death”.

Iraq abuses editorial – I’m also dismayed by the all-too-common response of “Well, it’s war” and “But look at what they’ve done to Our Boys.” Does anyone remember that Americans used to hold ourselves to a higher standard? I’m heartened to see that so many of us do, but dismayed at a government that has decided that it’s all okay – provided they don’t get caught and no one does it to us.

I think your court stories, including “Dope Court”, should get put into a book – maybe directed to young people. Not as “morality tales” but perhaps a cautionary story that often the consequences are so much more intense and heavy than anyone suspected. Unfortunately, in so much of the country drug treatment is vastly underfunded: but readily available to the wealthy and adequately insured.

E.B – A shoe museum would be intense interest to costumers and ladies like Star Jones (The View and Payless commercials) who avidly adore and collect shoes. I imagine they might restrict access to Imelda Marcos.

Alex and Guy – I like Guy’s take on the pon farr handfasting.

Craig Hilton – “Why are so many people unhappy with what we (the U.S.) do?” In part, because American Culture (architecture, McDonald’s, new-fangled norms and mores) is pushing local culture off the edge. Marginalizing people in their own homes. Can we learn to trade and interact with other nations and cultures without mutating them into slightly exotic versions of ourselves? Can we encourage social and legal reforms when the evils we are protesting are practiced just as avidly here?

Bob Sabella, Budd Lake New Jersey USA

Thanks for Challenger 20, another excellent issue. Having been a big fan of DC comics for many years, I was saddened at the death of Julius Schwartz, and I appreciated all the tributes to him. The tributes by Mike Friedrich (a truly underrated comic book writer; I'll never forget the classic scene in one of his JLA in which Hawkman was feeding the remnants of the sacred rock to the undersea people, in imitation of a priest distributing communion) and Alan Moore were wonderful, as was the article from The Amazing World of DC Comics.

Which brings me to Mike Resnick's article "Why Carol Won't Sit Next to Me at Science Fiction Movies." I tend to stay away from sf movies for many of the reasons he describes: an emphasis on special effects and thrills (and stupidity) over logical characterization and plotting (and common sense). The trailers they've been showing for the upcoming I, Robot are ludicrous; I don't recall anything in that book reminiscent of an action-thriller!

Certainly not one about a “revolt of the robots” – which is not only antithetical but insulting to Asimov’s vision. And did you get a load of Hollywood’s idea of Susan Calvin?

I avoided the Superman movies because of Gene Hackman's hamming it up as Lex Luthor. but perhaps the worst movie version of a comic character was Tommy Lee Jones playing Two-Face as a buffoon. Obviously Jones did not read a single Batman comic involving Two-Face or he would have realized he was an utterly-serious, tortured personality, not a Joker wannabe (which is how all Batman villains were portrayed after Jack Nicholson, alas). I dread seeing what they do with Scarecrow and Ras al Ghul in the next movie.

You shouldn’t blame Jones for the Two-Face travesty; when he made Batman Forever – or was it Batman and Robin? – the directorial duties in the series had slipped from Tim Burton’s talented and informed vision to the hack perspective of Joel Schumacher. The fault lies with him. The smirky homoeroticism – rubber nips on the Bat-suit! – and hammy guest stars of his movies were a throwback to the character’s atrocious “camp” era – mocking the characters without any trace of humor. Early indications are that the new movie will avoid such drivel in favorite of seeing Batman, once again, as a Dark Knight, and let us pray that Schumacher will inflict no such insults on The Phantom of the Opera, due this Christmas.

There are exceptions. X-Men 1 (I haven't seen 2 yet). I haven't seen either of the Spiderman movies, but reviews are good [and accurate – it’s written by the producers of Smallville and they know how to approach a super-hero story] so eventually I’ ll watch them. But the percentage of bad sf and comics movies far surpasses Sturgeon's 90%. Maybe 99%? *sigh*

Monday, January 03, 2005

Lloyd Penney, Etobicoke Ontario Canada

I was hoping to see Sue Mason at Torcon, too. Ah, Torcon was a pivotal time for many of us. For Sue Mason and Rob Sawyer, a golden Hugo for each, and I have seen Rob’s golden relic a few times now. For Yvonne and myself, well, enough complaining, but at least, we got to see much of it, and we worked extensively with the L.A.con people to help them win the 2006 Worldcon. Now that Torcon is past, Yvonne and I made a major decision ... no more Worldcons for us. We have our memberships for Noreascon 4, and intend to vote for the Hugos, but we will not go to Boston. We will not paint all Worldcons with the same brush, but Torcon 3 (and the senior Torcon 3 committee) took the love of Worldcons right out of us. Also, Worldcons have become prohibitively expensive for us. I plan to stay with fanzines, and I am considering a couple of new print projects, but Yvonne has moved into the field of space advocacy, and will be heading to Washington, DC for a NASA brainstorming conference. Our con-running commitments run to 2006, and that is when we intend to retire from convention management.

If there’s been any bitterness, it comes from the way Torcon treated us, but that is well past. The future beckons, and given our ages, it is high time to start thinking less about international fandom and more about our retirements. (I say much the same thing in the locol, except that we were still planning on attending a couple of Worldcons more. Plans do change.) We plan to involve ourselves where we feel we’re wanted and needed, and for me, that’s fanzines. We plan to become much more local fans, where we know we’re a part of things.

So many evil aliens ... I will not believe that all aliens are malevolent or bent upon our entire destruction. They are just different, different thought patterns, environment, etc. That’s why we call them aliens, hmm? Too many of us have problems dealing with those unlike ourselves.

Mike Resnick’s Torcon Diary ...Yvonne and I have eaten at Shopsy’s exactly twice, and that’s it. It’s okay, but there are far better places to eat. I think you pay more for the name, when the Shopsowitz brothers ran the best deli in Toronto, bar none. (We were so busy at T3, we rarely found the time to eat. Our best meal of the week was at the Lone Star Restaurant across the street.) We did make it to the CFG suite a couple of times, but both times, there were few people there, and our commitments to the L.A.con IV people made our time fleeting and valuable. We were pleased that our efforts for LA made such a difference, and the committee showed their appreciation. That Worldcon I’ll probably regret not going to.

So ... come! In fact, if you haven’t made such a trip before, drive – you could pass by Mt. Rushmore – not that big statues of American Presidents would mean much to a Canadian – and through Yellowstone and cross the Rockies: a truly epic journey!

Great pictures! Rob Sawyer did know that great things were going to happen to him that week, with the Seiun first ... he knew about this ceremony for some time, his win being announced at the Japanese national convention some months beforehand. (Illegal Alien was the novel in which Rob Tuckerized me ... I didn’t even know I spoke Japanese.) John Hertz’ Big Heart win was a marvelous surprise to see unfold, and I got to meet Dave Langford for the first time. I did send an e-mail to you not long after receipt of this zine that the bearded man on page 41 was not Rusty Hevelin but Mike Glicksohn.

An interesting aside …Yvonne and I were involved in Worldcon masquerades in the 1980s, and we did win a prize or two, but we were not asked to submit anything to the Canadian costuming retrospective. I guess we’ve been out of costuming so long, no one remembers but us. (We won two prizes at the Chicon IV masquerade, way back in 1982, for the Royal Canadian Mounted Star Fleet.)

The parade of the departed continues … PLCM [P.L. Caruthers-Montgomery], who would send me copies of the SFC Bulletin. Johannes Berg from Norway, who we saw and chatted with at Torcon. Shirley Maiewski of Hatfield, MA, who we had hoped to see in Boston. We try to make as many new friends as we can, for we know that our old friends won’’t always be with us. I just with they wouldn’t leave us so quickly. Selfish of me, I suppose, but I won’t apologize for missing people who were part of my fannish past and present for so long. (Even Julius Schwartz has left us. The fandom we grew up with is becoming but a memory…)

Hank Reinhardt, Oxford Georgia USA

In my seventy years I have read many editorials and comments espousing all sorts of positions. Some have been superb, some have been lousy, but I am hard pressed to find one to compare with Guy’s latest editorial. It is beyond compare! It is magnificent! Never have I encountered one piece that is so filled with ignorance, hypocrisy, absurd exaggeration and just pure drivel.

Lest I be accused of exaggerating the content, let us take it bit by bit.

The first paragraph deals with a photo I haven’t seen. I cannot state an opinion about the woman looks like, nor the condition of the body. What I can state is that people have been taking pictures like this since the camera was invented. And there are the same kind of photos from every war on every continent. People take trophies; in the past they have taken scalps, heads, ears, fingers, you name it. It is a common practice, like it or not. As for Americans not doing things like that: Utter nonsense. Americans have always done things like that. The only people who don’t do things like that are the ones who are beaten, and don’t get the opportunity.

You don’t like the idea of a pretty woman doing it: take women out of the Army in combat positions. [Note from Toni: I think you have also misinterpreted the photo. If it’s the one I’m thinking of, she is not looming over a dead man, but merely a naked one.] [Reply to Toni’s note: Alas, that was a corpse, identified by his son as Munadil al-Jumaily; he wasn’t even political.]

I do not know where Guy gets the idea that we are a happy, pretty, superior people. We were never a happy, pretty, superior people. We were hard working, driven, self reliant and independent, and we devised a system that has provided for the greatest good for the greatest number. Now we’re a bunch of fat, lazy slobs who sit around and whine about the brutality of the US, all the while ignoring the brutality, much, much worse, that goes on in the rest of the world.

In his effulgence, Guy seems to equate My Lai with Abu Ghraib. The prisoners at Abu Ghraib were humiliated and abused. They may have been deprived of sleep, yelled at, slapped, made to stand for long periods and other unpleasant things. To equate this with .223 rounds tearing into bodies of women, old men and children is childish beyond belief. To even call this torture is equally absurd! I wonder if he has seen the videos of the guy being beaten by Saddam Hussein’s men with a flexible shaft on the kidney? The torturer uses slow methodical blows, designed to bring a lot of pain and eventual death from kidney failure. How about the guys being tossed off of the roof, so that they bounce when they hit some 50 feet later? Here’s another nice one: propping open the victim’s mouth and drilling out all of his teeth. That is torture. And all done by Saddam Hussein and documented by him. I suggest that Guy think about which one he had rather undergo. Senator Kennedy also calls what went on at Abu Ghraib torture. This is the noble politician who let a young girl smother (or drown, autopsy report was conveniently lost) while he talked with his advisors about saving his political career. So he’d know about torture, I guess.

This repulsive argument is like looking at the average drug killing and saying, “You call that a murder?” while holding up a photo of Ted Bundy. Torture is unacceptable.

Since this is a political rant, I have no problems with talking politics myself. Guy compares what went on at Abu Ghraib with the My Lai massacre: that was a Democratic war, under a Democratic controlled House and Senate. Was that a “corrupt war” that “corrupts its warriors”? If so, whose fault was it? Oh yeah, let’s not forget that it was an American soldier who stopped further atrocity at My Lai, by ordering his men to fire on the GI’s who were doing the killing. So you have both low and noble actions there, both from the same side.

One such guy is worth ten thousand Calleys.

What I find staggering is the sheer hypocrisy revealed here masquerading as a noble sentiment representing all Americans. Where was the call for the “suits” to be charged when a 14-year-old boy was shot in the back by U.S. government agents? When a mother, holding an infant in her arms, had her head blown off! That all happened right here. Oh, the government admitted no wrongdoing, but they awarded three million dollars to the family. The Clinton-appointed judges agreed that the FBI agent who killed the mother, and the BATF agent who killed the boy should not be charged. Or what about Waco, where a small sect of people were annihilated for a photo op! (You don’t think it was a photo op: Consider a bad warrant, on things which were perfectly legal, local news agencies notified before the raid so that they could have helicopters and cameras there.) The few survivors stated the government fired first, and pointed as evidence to the steel door. What, the steel door had vanished, how odd! The government said that there were tons and tons of illegal weapons and ammunition there, but no one saw it. After all, you can trust your government! As for the soldier pointing his weapon at Iraqis, how about the US marshal pointing his weapon at a family in a late night raid to steal a child to give it back to Castro?

The child was forcibly returned to his father after his late mother’s fanatic relatives refused to release him. It was absolutely the right thing to do. What the fuck does it have to do with Abu Ghraib?

How about it, Guy? Did you call for the resignation of Bill Clinton and Janet Reno? Did you scream about the child killers being let off and even promoted?

I’ve found two occasions on which I responded to Waco, both in apazines for the Southern Fandom Press Alliance. In
Spiritus Mundi 139, January ‘94, I told Toni Weisskopf (who would later become your wife): “The more I think about the Waco/Branch Davidians disaster, the more disturbed I am. Clearly, the ATF botched its investigation and its assault, and if it turns out that the fire was started not by Koresh, but by government klutziness, I won’t be surprised. ... Now, do I blame Janet Reno? No. She was new to the Attorney Generalship at the time ... was given atrocious advice, and once the damage became known, owned up to responsibility. But somebody screwed up ... very badly. That head should roll.” A year and a half later, in SM149, I said, “What was inexcusable about Waco was the clumsiness of the authorities.” Indeed; David Koresh could have and should have been thrown into cuffs long before he locked himself in with his cult. No excuse for letting that child molesting lunatic endanger others. I went on to say, “Worse in that regard was the assault on the paranoid winger family at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, by the FBI, an attack which left a federal officer and two members of the family dead. Law enforcement is a legitimate end, but it must be accomplished by rational and disciplined means. The addled cowboys who raided Ruby Ridge had neither legitimate ends nor sensible means on their side; it’s not against the law to be paranoid wingers and it’s not good cop work to shoot women with babes in arms when you’re firing at someone else. Hell should pay.” I still feel that way, about both Waco and Ruby Ridge – the authorities in both incidents demonstrated utter incompetence in the field, and inept supervision and confused guidance from above. Nevertheless, I still think well of Reno for taking responsibility – something Rumsfeld and his stoat of a boss still haven’t done.

As for Abu Ghraib, the trial and investigation is already underway—it got underway one day after the trouble there was reported. Sound like a cover-up to you? And the investigation was underway before the story broke. The photos were from the investigation. In this case, the system worked to correct itself.

Or to protect itself. At last we reach the key question. The cretins who did the torturing at Abu Ghraib are being punished. But how is that obscenity related to the Justice Department memoranda referring to the Geneva accords as “quaint”? Why were government intelligence agents on hand during the abuse?

As for the question about bullies and thugs, hell yes! That is what a very large percentage of this country happens to be, what a large percentage of the human race happens to be.

Not me. Nor my country, either, not that I have anything to say about it.

I would strongly suggest that Guy grow up, take a look at reality, and quit his childish whining because things didn’t go his way.

Call it what you will, but no way. No way should any citizen quit demanding that his country behave in a fashion that reflects well upon it and upon human beings. Abu Ghraib and the whole Iraqi debacle do neither.

Elizabeth Stewart, South Plainfield New Jersey USA

Here's a fun thing that happened: About a month ago, there was a gas leak at my apartment. I was awakened by a fireman in my bedroom (probably the only time that'll ever happen! ;) ) telling me to get dressed and get out of the building now. So I threw on clothes, grabbed my purse (I'm well programmed) and staggered out onto the lawn.

About ten EMTs surrounded me, and I was groggy and incoherent, so they slapped an oxygen mask on me and made me sit down. There were news crews and helicopters, and they told us they were going to MedEvac us to Philadelphia and put us in hyperbaric chambers to counteract the gas. (There were five people sick.) So I got loaded on a helicopter and flown to a hospital, which was quite cool. I called work and let my boss hear the choppers. That was fun, too. :)

Eventually, they figured out that the gas was not carbon monoxide, as they'd thought, but just natural gas from my neighbor's stove. Everyone in that apartment was sick. So they didn't have to take us to a different state after all, just airlifted us to the hospital twenty minutes away. The helicopters were unnecessary, but still, cool.

As for me, it turned out that I had food poisoning. I'd been up all night sick, and was severely dehydrated. The doctor said I needed to be in the hospital anyway, so it was just as well. They stuck me five times before they found a vein that wasn't collapsed from dehydration (I hate needles) and put two liters of fluid in me.

After they discharged me, five hours later, I called my boss and said I was coming to work. She said, you're delirious, go home and sleep, so I did. How's that for an adventure?

So what's going on with you lately?

Oh, not much ... by comparison.

Terry Jeeves, Scarborough U.K.

There was great excitement here in Scarborough the other day as the world`s biggest passenger liner, the Queen Mary 2 sailed through our bay. Apparently Jimmy Saville has persuaded Cunard to make a slight detour to visit us. Not knowing the exact time of passage, I didn`t go to see it. A good job as apparently thousands turned up and the town was totally gridlocked.

Out in the garden my beans are flourishing as are the apples whilst in the greenhouse my tomatoes are thriving. I`m rather pleased with them as I grew them from seeds reclaimed from a salad tea and didn`t spend vast sums on established plants. Our grapes are also looking good and should make some nice grape juice.

With Erg`s last issue after 45 years another landmark comes along with our 44th Wedding Anniversary. Amazing how time flies when you are having fun. The great thing is we have never has a row. We ought to get the Dunmow Flitch.

We see some queer things around here including two wild deer which ran in front of our car a few years back. Then last weekend, at the same place only a mile from home, we had to stop while a duck led her eight tiny ducklings calmly across the road in front of us.

On the even queerer front was a phone call we got last night. It was a lady asking if we were a shop as she had bought a tape recorder in a car boot sale in Leeds and it had my name and phone number on it. The queer bit is the fact that I dumped that recorder in our local dump about a year ago. How had it escaped from there and ended up in Leeds?

It’s a twonky.

Milt Stevens, Simi Valley California USA

As Mike Resnick says in Challenger #20, science fiction movies have many imperfections. However, my negative sentiments are somewhat softened by remembering how bad they used to be. I grew up in the era of fifty foot turkey movies. People may have thought I was strange for liking science fiction, but they thought I was really strange if I liked that sort of thing. I recall commenting shortly before 2001 was released that I liked science fiction, and I liked movies, but the combination of the two was generally the outrage of both.

Movies have always done better with fantasy than with science fiction. Even today, vampires outnumber space ships by a considerable margin. The Germans made some silent fantasy films which are still watchable. Hollywood did many quite good fantasies in the thirties. Forbidden Planet was almost an aberration. Hollywood made an outstanding science fiction film, and then didn’t remember how to do it again for another twenty years. (You might regard it as the first episode of Star Trek.)

Oh no – much better than that.
Sometimes, you may be expecting the wrong thing from a film. Star Wars is a cross between a fairy tale and Planet Stories. Monarchy was the common form of government in both of those venues. You never found anyone establishing a galactic consumer co-op in Planet Stories. Of course, future monarchies show up in quite a bit of other printed science fiction as well. I think future monarchies are a heck of lot more likely than future Trotskyite states. There have been a fair number of successful monarchies in human history.

One of the essential things about movies is that they have to move. When people adapt stage plays to film the lack of movement usually makes it obvious where the adaptation came from. In Road Warrior, we have a biker gang. To make it obvious to the movie viewer that they are a biker gang, you have to show them riding around on motorcycles. Of course, bikers do things other than ride aimlessly around on motorcycles. Aside from stomping people, they also drink beer and shoot pool. I think you can see it wouldn’t be very interesting to show a bunch of hairy louts drinking beer and shooting pool.

In both print and movies, there are sometimes things that look like science fiction but aren’t really science fiction. This was the case with the Matrix series. If you regard Matrix as surrealism, it makes more sense. Or at least, it makes sense that it doesn’t make sense.

There’s one thing that really bothers me about Morrie the critic in Alexis Gilliland’s article. He puts salt in his beer. Even in these tolerant times, I regard putting salt in your beer as a perversion. It’s even worse than putting catsup on a steak. They used to say that using a feather was kinky, but using the whole chicken was perverted. I’d say it’s better to use the whole chicken than put salt in your beer.

As you observe in "Dope Court," the people who get snagged by the narcs aren’t usually mental giants. That doesn’t mean they can’t be dangerous. I’ve seen a couple of narc videos where the narcs got robbed. People who buy dope make perfect robbery victims. What are they going to do, go to the police? Some actually do. West Los Angeles honkies down in The Jungle at 3 AM "visiting friends." A likely story.

Joy V. Smith, Lakeland Florida USA

What a great cover by Frank Wu! I don't think I've ever seen a biplane vs. dragon confrontation before. Btw, did you see the biplane outtakes from Independence Day? I can see why they changed that, but this works.

This was a fantastic tribute issue to Julius Schwartz. I was unaware of him until now, but he sounds like a wonderful, helpful, supportive person who accomplished a lot. (What a lot of good one person can do...)

I enjoyed Joseph L. Green's article about his mistake in rounding off the geosynchronous orbit figure. (I sure hope I get an opportunity to nonchalantly correct someone some day.)

And that was an insightful article by Alexis Gilliland: “Morrie the Critic Discusses Love and Death”. Another interesting article was “The Real Future of Space” by Gregory Benford – space opera and space economics. Btw, at Oasis 17 Michael Conrad (artist, writer, designer) gave a presentation on designing and building model rockets and space ships, and he included practical design aspects. It's covered briefly in my Oasis 17 con report, which can be viewed at: O*W*C : Resources : Conventions : Reports : Oasis 17 '04, and it should be in the upcoming Southern Fandom Confederation Bulletin. (He's working on a more in-depth presentation and a book, I believe.)

I also enjoyed Mike Resnick's article about SF movies. He included a number of silly SF movie ideas that are on my list of most memorable annoying scenes, especially – the hero being outside during the terraforming of Mars at the end of Total Recall and Darth Vader's redemption. (Luke lived by sheer luck!) I avoided The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen after reading the reviews, and I'd thought the premise was so promising!

I enjoyed the other articles too, including “The Resident Patient” (I'd like to mention that in the Sherlock Holmes folder on the AOL Mystery board.), your “Dope Court” article, and the SF background in your “Strange Schwartz Stories” article. And I'm glad you addressed the Abu Ghraib stupidity...

Richard Dengrove, Alexandria Virginia USA

About Greg Benford's "The Real Future of Space," I was wondering if economic systems make things possible, or is it people who make things possible? My years in government have taught me the obvious: it is people. If people don't like a system or can't understand it, they go around it. In other words, if you re-organize idiots, you still have idiots.

I realize my experience is with a single organization, a government agency, rather than an entire nation. By my thinking, however, a nation, free from a conqueror, would reflect even more its people than its blueprint. As a cog in the bureaucracy, we are not free of overlords.

Anarchism, where everyone was cooperative, may be possible some day if people are in the right mindset. On the other hand, anarchism, where everything is in chaos, is an altogether too real prospect in the right mindset. Also, the same is true of all the systems in between, like libertarianism, socialism and state capitalism. They depend on the right, or wrong, mindset.

About Mike Resnick's "Why Carol won't sit next to me at science fiction movies," I think, being a science fiction writer, he is a little bit too harsh on movie illogic in science fiction films.

Regarding Star Wars, I didn't mind the replacement of the Emperor with Princess Leia. In most Americans' thinking, it is true there is little difference between absolute monarchs and absolute monarchs.

However, Star Wars is basically a fairy tale – in a planet a long time ago and far far away. Fairy tales have always been monarchist. And, yes, there is a great difference between the Emperor and Princess Leia. The Emperor is evil while the Princess Leia is good.

Regarding Blade Runner, I didn't mind the illogic there either. It is a premise we are asked to accept, that the androids will die in several weeks time yet the police have still decided to hunt them down anyway. Once we accept it, Mike admits we get a pretty darn good movie. I cannot say a realistic movie, but a pretty darn good one.

Of course, some films I am going to defend because I am wondering why Mike had expectations for them at all.

Regarding E.T., it is a kids' film. I don't know why adults were gushing over it. The central characters, except for E.T., are all kids. I would not hold too much of a candle for logic in a kids' film. That's not what they're interested in. Adults are little enough interested in it.

I am not going to defend Signs. While I thought the character development was great, the plot was heavier handed than a sledgehammer. Mike is right that aliens had come all the way across the stars for a snack. I guess the thinking was that's what happens when you hear about a good restaurant.

I am not going to defend League of Extraordinary Gentlemen either. However, I have to say one thing for it. Nemo could have been an Indian prince. I hear the graphic novel was taking from an earlier draft of 20,000 Leagues when France was anti-England. Later, when Verne put the novel in final form, France was anti-Russian. That is the only thing I am going to say for The League. After what you tell about it, it is no wonder every critic and everyone who saw it panned it. It sounds like it makes the old Buster Crabbe Space Soldiers Conquer the Universe look like Citizen Kane.

About Albert Hoffman's "The Night I Saw Death," no, I can't explain his vision of death and someone dying. Of course, I can't explain most of life.

On the other hand, I know this. The way to tell a hypnopompic experience is that it seems completely real. More real than everyday life. That is very scary because we usually distinguish reality from illusion by how it feels.

About Dr. Craig Hilton's "The Resident Patient – a Medical Opinion", I think maybe he is seeing too much in Conan Doyle's "Resident Patient." Unlike Dr. Hilton's painstaking analysis, I hear Conan Doyle just dashed his Sherlock Holmes tales off. They would fall if our only criterion was deep logic. However, there are other, more pressing reasons why we like them.

About your "Strange Schwartz" stories, so Julie's work as an agent for science fiction writers held him in good stead in editing Superman, Batman and the Flash. There are lots of crossover occupations you would not think are crossover.

Norman Maurer went in the opposition direction. He was writing comic books, and Moe Howard, his brother-in-law, said that was great preparation for producing Three Stooges movies. Apparently Moe was right: Maurer produced the best Three Stooges movies.

Finally, I have some comments about people who commented on my article last Challenger, "Evil Aliens and H.G. Wells."

  1. I would like to thank Robert Kennedy for praising it.
  2. Joseph Major asks who would want to sin with creatures with one eye in front and one in back. Most certainly other creatures with one eye in front and one in back.
  3. Jerry Kaufman says my article had an interesting topic but he struggled with all the sentence fragments. That phase has passed. Now something else has to arise to ruin my writing style.
  4. E.B. Frohvet believes Andre Norton anticipated with her Baldies the large headed, weak bodied alien archetype. I'm sure she did. However, I know of an earlier example. Harry Bates did the same in "Alas, All Thinking", Astounding, June 1935. Still, I am wondering whether there are not still earlier examples.
I know Edgar Rice Burroughs, in Chessmen of Mars (1922), wrote about Martians with only a head and appendages, the Kaldanes. However, they have greater similarities to the Martians in War of the Worlds than the later archetype.

Check out the photo of Rose-Marie with aliens in my Noreascon photo report!

Kathy Chamberlin Westchester Illinois USA

Thanks for the copy of issue #20. I was particularly enamored with “The Resident Patient – a Medical opinion” by Dr. Craig Hilton. For one thing, I am foremost a mystery buff, so I found the subject enticing (can’t have too many dead bodies laying around!). Also, I am a three-time cancer survivor and have spent many days rubbing elbows with medical personnel.

However, what really got my attention was the discussion of the congestive heart failure. My mother was one of the first persons (waaaaay back in 1956 or 1957) to be brought back to life by the use of defibrillation. She went on to live another twenty years (and six grandchildren). However, Dr. Hilton mentions “the results of rheumatic fever, a disease of the poor.” I never heard that before.

My mother (child of white-collar oil company parents) had married my father (child of a blue-collar truck driver). My mother’s mother was one of the pioneers who developed “shopping” into the fine art it is today. So, I was somewhat surprised to see that my mother had developed her heart problem by means of “a disease of the poor.” I’m not really complaining – I’ve just never heard that before, and I wish I had more information on why rheumatic fever is referred to in that way.

Says Dr. Hilton:
“Rheumatic fever is no longer the common disease it was up to a century ago. It is a type of immune reaction to an infection with streptococcus, leading to fever and inflamed joints, and finally life-long disease of the heart valves. Classically, it was most prevalent in the lowest socio-economic groups, where such infections (skin or tonsils) were the most prevalent. My reference to the poor was a classical quote, taught to me when I was in medical school: ‘Rheumatic fever is an acute, reactive, post-infective inflammatory disease affecting the connective tissue of the poor.’ It is unknown in our society, but cases are still seen in Aboriginal communities, such as I encountered in Doomagee.”

Anyway, thanks again — you’re an award winner in my book!

Steve Sneyd, Almondbury Huddersfield West Yorkshire UK

Thanks for Challenger 20 – amazing dragon cover.

A mini-disagreement with Mike Resnick’s very entertaining piece, re his cavil on Blade Runner – surely the point that made it necessary to hunt them down was the damage the replicants could do before they auto-terminated – crude analogy the potential suicide bomber with terminal cancer.

Lovable articles re Julius Schwartz sent me back to my file of corresp from early ‘90s when I was researching life of SF writer/poet Lilith Loraine. Someone mentioned JS had been her agent at one time. DC Comics passed on my enquiry letter to him, and I got a really nice friendly reply – deffo one of the good guys.

Yeah, amazing how Reagan got away for so long with the lovable harmless old buffer/Forrest Gump schtick – after all, his record went way back, to when as Screen Actors Guild official (prexy, wasn’t it?) He acted as fingerman for HUAC. Think reason his best role as actor was vile gang boss in The Killers was for once he could play his real self. Him and Maggie Thatcher lovey-doveying was real villains convention.

The political resonances escape me, but I think Reagan’s best performance was as an epileptic scientist in Night Unto Night.

Probably debilitating European cynicism, but seemed minimal surprise here at the Abu Ghraib carry-on – no doubt in twenty years we’ll find out who at the top gave the orders to treat prisoners like that there (and doubtless at Gitmo and at even more closed-door US prisons in Afghanistan etc.) which got so creatively interpreted by Lynddie England – who doubtless has a profitable future as S&M dominatrix and/or presenter of “reality TV” prog recreating Ab Ghraib with volunteers, if she gets off current legal process.

Mentioning Afghanistan, and thinking of your dope court piece, another thing that has caused no more than shoulder-shrugging here is that the removal of Taliban has meant record opium poppy crop there this year – funds for the warlords busy tooling up with extra arms ready for holding their corner when “democracy” comes. Does raise question, given that no will to tackle them, why not buy the crop off’em direct, rather than just let it hit the streets, depress heroin price, and increase number of addicts – but then I suppose a shortfall of folk locked up for drugs would hit profits of private prison corporations (and keeping underclass in prison stops’em swelling unemployment statistics, so a win-win.) So it goes.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Dr. Craig Hilton, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

I'm sorry to say this, but your country has crossed the line into very scary territory indeed. I followed the Bush-Kerry debate on the news, and the name-calling that came after. Bush, I believe, is now running with the line: "We shouldn't have to depend on the vote from other countries to defend ourselves." If this were the ranting of a loony minority, I would understand. But when it's the election slogan that sets the voting majority cheering, well... imagine what it must look like to countries outside the USA! Translated, it comes out as: "We don't care what anyone else in the world says. We'll invade, conquer and occupy any country we like, to make ourselves feel safe." Is this a line designed to win the hearts and minds of other religions and countries everywhere? Or is Bush finally revealing that he has the mandate from the people of the most powerful democracy in the world to engage itself as the world's great dictator?

There will be no stopping him now.

Meanwhile, three days out from our own elections, John Howard is a little bit ahead of Mark Latham in the polls. This is very depressing. I can't stand any more of the mean-spirited and duplicitous Howard government. People don't trust him, but they don't care that it's an issue. People are more confident that he can run the economy better, although that's a debatable point. It seems to be a case of: "He may be a liar, but he's our liar!"

Jack Speer, Albuquerque New Mexico USA

I was glad to see you and Rosy and Noreascon, and sorry we didn’t spend more time together.

Thanks for your work on the souvenir book. The photo section was more than I expected. My impression is that the biographical information on participants included more nearly everyone than that at Torcon.

Credit Mary Kay Kare for that whole section of the program/souvenir book.

In the printing of “Last & First Fen”, i did not see Youngfan 4's line “You got down couldn’t get up son of a bit your finger off, go to Helena Montana my goods got damaged by fire!” Was the omission accidental, or did you feel the profanity too unrestrained for a family publication?

My personal incompetence in copying the text is to blame.

A footnote to “Colishun Course”: My first letter to a fanzine was published in Julius Schwartz’ Fantasy magazine. The magazine came to the Speer mailbox, and Dad read it before passing it on to me. He was amused at my presumptuously telling these people how to publish their magazine.

Unfortunately it’s after the convention that we read we read most of the souvenir book. Yours for Noreascon is a great job. Of course you had help on it, but coordinating that help must have been a huge task. And you got it printed by the beginning of the convention!

For the efficient manner in which the book got published, as well as the beauty of its design, credit Geri Sullivan, who went to the printers and supervised the actual process.

Greg Benford said there are almost no genzines any more, mentioning Challenger as a notable exception. I hope to get to reading the issue you sent me.

When you do, let me know what you think!