Saturday, January 31, 2009

Challenger #29 - Sports Issue

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lisa Major, Louisville KY

At worldcon an Australian fan passed out samples of a candy called Tim Tam. It brought to mind a horse of that name, who won the 1958 Derby and Preakness. At the top of the Belmont stretch he looked like a Triple Crown winner. Halfway down the stretch a fragile leg snapped. He finished the race on three legs and a heart, which wasn't enough to hold off the fast Cavan. Fortunately, the vets saved him, and he lived several years after his disastrous last race.

Lisa handed me the above comment at Denvention's Fan-Eds' panel – composed on the spot. That was a first, so it is our first.

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Joseph Major, Louisville, Kentucky

[Comments on] The Altitudinous Route: I see you felt about Kansas about what we did. Kansas rest stops in particular are minimal. In Kentucky, in Indiana, we are used to finding a substantial building, with brochures describing local and not so local sights, computerized maps of the weather, even a friendly attendant. In Kansas, except for the first stop after the border, there was nothing. The building had only restrooms. And the soft drink machines were behind bars!

I think it was during WWII that somebody distributed replicas of the Liberty Bell, to inspire patriotism and national spirit. Kentucky's is at the Old Capitol building, a place I know well from my days in Frankfort. (I knew the New Capitol building even better, having played in it many times.) We saw one other replica at the Truman Museum.

The Richthofen Castle is at 7020 East Twelfth Avenue.

[Comments on]
Challenger 28

Editorial addition: And for Yowler the cat, who shouted and mewled beneath our windows, annoying us, until we got our wish, and wished we had never wished it. Worse yet, two days before the big storm, someone came along and helped himself to Tim Lane's and Elizabeth Garrott's cat Shadow, who was on a leash in front of their house. Their other cat, Neville, is noting the vacancy. Shadow used to jump up in my lap.

Want a few more cats? Our gift!

Critters Sheryl Birkhead Has Known and Loved: For some reason, one of my grandmother's chickens used to chase me away from the barn. Lisa's sister had a similar conflict with one of her great-grandmother's hens. Ma Hat took a hatchet and dealt out the supreme measure of punishment, then had chicken soup for little Esther's soul.

Lisa has her stories of Digger and Shaggy. I had issues with Mother's poodles, which never seemed quite to get used to the idea that I lived there too.

Resnick: At this writing, it looks as if Curlin will skip the Breeders' Cup. In the unlikely event that Lisa doesn't mention it, she was dubious about Big Brown all along, because of those quarter cracks in his hooves. In fact, she was worried that he would through a fluke do well, and then those bad feet would be bred into the next generation.

Right now, she is seeking out pictures of Bernadini foals, noting their resemblance to the sire, and thinking with joy of 2010 and 2011 and ...We may try to go see him again at Darley, in Lexington, on Martin Luther King Day. Last time it was 20 degrees before wind chill.

SF Entering the Great Divide: In further defense of Green's thesis, I note that a greater proportion of SF/F works these days are marketed as romances. Perhaps because interstellar stories work down to Wars of Incomprehensibly Powerful Beings, and planetary stories are The Cyberpunk Kid ... neither of which holds at least this reader's interest. Then you have alternate histories, which are all over. One (a particularly unlikely and politically and ethnically biased one) won all the awards this year.

Between the Candle and the Star: I would point out that fanzine panels are always scheduled during the opening ceremonies, just before the closing ceremonies, against the GOH reading, during the Masquerade ... small wonder that fanzine fans feel shut out.

New Dog ... Old Tricks: I don't think I could ever live with a dog again (see above about my mother's poodle) but Pepper looks so darned cute!

The Future Is Almost Here: All one has to do to see the misguided optimism of Kurtzweil's thesis (and hence of Singularity predictions) is to watch 2001. We do not have regular spaceflights to the Moon. Bob Tucker was disappointed, as we all well know. Benford pointing out how people won't all fall in line, but will think differently, is a needed corrective that few seem to consider. Indeed, citing Blade Runner is apropos. It's used as an example of the two-tier society, the grand glorious futurians hovering above a crowded underclass. I thought of this when reading about Hong Kong.

Edison's Conquest of Mars: Which was one of the first examples of fan fiction. Serviss was also one of Edison's assistants, so this might also be one of the first Mary Sues. (Also, I get the impression that it was based on a pirated edition of War of the Worlds which set the invasion in New Jersey, forty years before Orson Welles.)

From Fan to Filthy Pro, in Ten Easy Steps: It hasn't worked for me.

Lord of the (Show) Rings: There is a Dog Show Channel! There is! I'd come into the bedroom and Lisa would have the television on, showing a dog show. I said "You've got it on the Dog Show Channel again." She'd say, "There's nothing else on," and then, "There's no Dog Show Channel!" If there isn't a Dog Show Channel, how come you can find a dog show on 24/7?

The Pride of Lions: And my cousin Bob married for the fifth time at the age of 65, to a woman younger than his own daughter. Eight years later, they had a son.

What took him so long? Never mind. I know.

"Gangway! Hot Organ!": The story of an effort so superlatively overwhelming that it overcomes the ability to compensate. What were the responses in SFPA 101 like? The thought boggles the mind!

A Hideous Confession: They're still doing those sorts of books. Now, they're sold in mainstream bookstores, with fabulous publicity campaigns, richly textured covers, and no shame. They're called Romances.

The Chorus Lines: Brad W. Foster: I get the impression that Comic-Con is a giant bazaar for popular-culture items of which comics are a small and declining part. One consumes, not participates.

Bob Kennedy: And now the "crazy complainant" has a college degree. To many people the Duke Lacrosse Team case was more about class than about race, since the stripper was also attending the local community college, which put her at odds with the students at an elite university.

Me: Truman Capote was born Truman Streckfus Persons. Ohhhh I am sooo sorrrry ..

Lloyd Penney: Yes, you are specifically invited to the Fan-eds' Feast. We want to celebrate you!

Not only fan editors but contributors and members of the Chorus are invited. Look for an announcement of the site and date of the next Fan-eds' Feast in a Zine Dump RSN.

Milt Stevens: When Clarke introduced Asimov at the Mensa meeting in London, taking regard to Asimov's aversion to flying which led him to take a liner from New York to London, he said that he had scheduled a special showing of "A Night to Remember" for Asimov, and afterwards they would discuss fun things to do in lifeboats. Do they show Titanic on those Caribbean cruises (like the one my nephew took to his wedding, and his wife left him two months later), and if they do, do they post security guards forward to keep dim-bulb couples from standing on the bow shouting "I'm flying, Jack!"?

Liz Copeland interview: RiverCon '75 was maybe my second or third con. Maybe we ran into each other. Or maybe not, that was when I drank a pint of wine and couldn't get Tim Lane, Grant McCormick, and Bruce Gardner to believe I had seen Poul Anderson. Even though he was there.

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Martin Morse Wooster, Silver Spring MD

Laura Haywood-Cory makes many valid arguments. In the age of the Internet, people; come to fandom in all sorts of ways, and we ought to allow lots of fandoms at our cons, as long as groups are quiet and don't try to drown out or intimidate people. But I prefer to spend time with people who read a lot. I don't have very much in common with the avid filker or costumer. And it doesn't seem unreasonable to me that reading and writing ids the center of what our fandom does, and we ought to give precedence as fan guests of honor to fen who do a lot of reading and writing.

Joseph Green makes some interesting points, but I don't think he can extrapolate from a list of who won the Hugo for best novel to reach the conclusion that "SF writers are pulling back from the vastness and openness of interstellar space to return to Earth." Individual Hugo races have their own quirks. Lots of fans have read Harry Potter, for example, but I think the reaction to J.K. Rowling's indifference to winning the Hugo (for what IMHO is her weakest book) ensured that none of her other novels would even be nominated. Similarly, Michael Chabon's Hugo win does not seem a forerunner of a string of victories for alternate universe Jewish dystopias. Green would have made a stronger case if he addressed Geoff Ryman's movement for Mundane SF, which calls for realistic near-future stories that don't involve space travel or time travel.

I enjoyed the many animal stories, with the best pieces being those by Sheryl Birkhead and Mike Resnick. The smartest dog I ever knew was Jefe (or, as his owner called him, "Jeffy").

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Lloyd Penney, Etobicoke , ON, Canada

Thank you kindly for The Zine Dump 21. I could do the motley crew joke, but I won't ... now that I've reminded you of it...

Remind me again.

Great cover on the front ... wonder what Chris Garcia does when he sees a video camera? He can't point like that all the time. And now [Warp editor] Cathy Palmer-Lister has met Chris ... I never got a chance to ask her what this dinner was like when we were at Con*cept in October. I hope to join the fan-eds' dinner for the first time in Montreal next year.

As Joe Major says earlier, you're more than welcome.

I am stumbling along with my own fanzine reviews in John Purcell's Askance ... I've never felt that KTF reviews inform or instruct. Most fanzines I enjoy as they are, and those I do critique, I try to provide constructive criticism. Still working on my technique, but there's time yet.

Your Alexiad review ... did John Scalzi ask Worldcon Hugo voters to honour a different fan writer every year? Great idea. I hope I might have a chance in Montreal. I figured that if the Seattle Corflu is going to issue their progress report fanzine-style, I can respond to it the same way. I wrote a loc, and fired it off to them. I later sent some dead presidents. We can't attend, but we can at least have supporting memberships.

Guy, you will have a great time in Montreal ... come up sooner if you can, and enjoy a multicultural city with lots of French and English mixed in. Montreal is one of the oldest cities on the continent, and most Anglophones don't know about it.

Current plan is to drive to Montreal from the Niagara Falls area, and a visit with my nevvies!

We purchased the DVD of Wall-E the other day...we rarely do that. The animation was great, as were the characters and story line. We're suckers for a love story, and this is a unique one. There's lots of pertinent commentary about how we are treating our planet, and optimism about how we can fix it, plus commentary about how our consumer society is turning us into flesh balloons, and how our dependence on capitalism may be our undoing. Worth the purchase; hope people get the message.

I hope Wall*E gets the Hugo! Only other flicks on my ballot: Cloverfield, Iron Man, and the brilliant Swedish vampire film, Let the Right One In..

Exactly right, congratulations to Mike Glyer for his latest Hugo ... the only thing that would have made things sweeter would have been for Diana Glyer to win a Hugo for her book on Tolkien, Lewis and the Inklings.

The Zine Dump serves as a shopping list. Ooooh, I'd like that one, and that one, and that one, too. I get a lot of zines, but there's always more I'd like to receive, if people would be good enough to send them to me, paper, electronic or otherwise. I'd send a loc, just like this one. I promise letters of comment because I can't promise cookies. Many thanks, Guy, and we will party in Montreal.

Like it was ten years ago … "1999," that is.

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John Parcell, College Station, TX

Good gravy, Guy; I thought our mailbox was going to rupture when trying to extract the envelope containing Challenger 28. Fortunately, both zine and mailbox are fine. A full recovery is expected for both.

I may not fully recover from reading this huge zine for awhile, though. That is one monster of a zine, reminding me of those Days of Yore when mammoth twill-tone fanzines used to fill the mailbox. Those were the days, weren't they? Good to see you're trying to fill that void, and doing it quite admirably too, I might add.

So sorry to hear of your latest Best Fanzine Hugo setback. Too bad; I like both Challenger and File 770, so if you were to lose out to someone, Mike Glyer's a good fellow. I suspect that this year's 30th Anniversary issue of File 770 may have had something to do with the results, but who knows? Both are wonderful zines, and from what I have read in LJ's and all, the final results took a while to compute. It must have a very close vote.

I can't tell all that I know, but I can say that I'm again encouraged. But as I said in my trip report, at the time all I felt was ridiculous – itself a ridiculous way to feel.

But, I really need to address the most important issue that you raise in this latest, err, issue of your zine. Of course, I refer to that question you raised on page 86: "Which should I want most: a long life or a good pizza?" This is exactly like that age-old conundrum, which came first: the chicken or the egg? A harder question to answer has rarely been raised, and in this day and age when health is a major concern of everyone, you would think that a long life is tantamount to personal fulfillment. On the other hand, I know of precious few worldly goods as personally fulfilling as a good pizza. So maybe we should look at this question existentially: since we're all going to die eventually, you might as well go for that good pizza. Extra mushrooms and black olives, of course, but hold the anchovies.


Since I am back in the letter column, allow me to echo Jerry Kaufman's sentiments about Taral Wayne being selected as Fan Artist GoH at Anticipation. Taral is indeed an excellent choice for any convention anywhere. He has had a long career providing art and articles to fan-eds, his style is distinctive, and I think Taral is a fine choice. Congratulations to Taral!

The artist whom you have honored in this particular issue, Sheryl Birkhead, likewise has a long fannish pedigree. (You likee the pun?) For years Sheryl has supplied the fannish press with her distinctive style, and I am glad you have given here a place of honor in
Challenger . Good show, Guy. Her opening article was a delight to read, and gives us a much better appreciation of her background and longevity in fandom. A fun cover illo, too, I might add.

As for comments on any particular contents of this Brobdingnagian tome, I feel rather overwhelmed. Suffice to say that I finally finished reading this sucker a couple nights ago (10 Aug 08), and my favorite pieces were Mike Resnick's insights into being a dog show handler (my personal favorite breed is the border collie), "Birth of a Notion", Rich Dengrove's article about Edison's Conquest of Mars, and your story behind SFPA 100. I can't even begin to imagine plowing through a 1,748 page apa disty [1,750! Remember, I miscounted.]; sometimes I find SNAPS a bit much lately, and that's usually between 60 and 90 pages long. What a story you told! Even better: you all survived. Now that says something.

Ah, me. Take care, and thank you again for a wonderful issue. I can't wait to see the sports issue. Maybe I can write up something for it about coaching my son's soccer team. That might fit. In the meantime, relax and enjoy the coffee.

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Warren Buff, Raleigh, NC

Greetings, Guy!

Let's start with the Sheryl Birkhead cover. I've been enjoying her little critter drawings in a number of zines for a while now, and this full-sized piece is the same quality she's been producing, just bigger. And in glorious full color. There are several pieces in here I first read in SFPA, which I appreciate – I love that some of the members are getting out into genzines, and hope that a little bit of that effort flows back. Anyone interested, just ask Guy for the contact info for Dave Schlosser, the current OE.

Speaking of SFPA, I see that there's a glorious tribute to the 100th disty, from 1981, way back before I was even born (two years later). Your reminiscences about the condition of the South back in the early 60s, when SFPA was born, remind me of Randy Newman's wonderful "Rednecks", which is one of the few truly epigrammatic songs I know (the other prominent one being "He Stopped Loving Her Today"). And with your references to early Southern fandom, let's not forget that Charlotte had a burgeoning scene in the mid-50s, centered around the recently arrived (and soon to depart) Bob Madle, who wrote up a lot of those days in Mimosa, a fact I only discovered a few months after I called him to ask about the Charlotte days. They'd connected with Atlanta to run a couple of cons, SECON I & II, which were sort of precursors to DSC. Overall, I'm delighted to hear about the glory days of SFPA, and hope we can attain such heights (or even approach them) for SFPA 300 in a few years. I'm still trying to win over young fans.

I'm also glad to see Toni's DSC GoH speech in print, as I'd been ordered by the conchair to take a nap, and had to miss it. She mocked me for not showing up when she name-checked me, and rightly so – I'd been scheduled to be there for the speeches, and when I didn't show up to introduce folks, no one rightly knew what to do. Such are the perils of three hours of sleep.

Of the longer pieces, I was rather thoroughly enlightened to the world of dog shows by Mike Resnick's piece, but what really caught my eye was your retrospective on your time in NC – "Birth of a Notion." The Klan-Nazi trial has been a source of shame for North Carolinians since the verdict came down, but thankfully, it's not the sort of shame that sits in the dark and broods.

I suppose the best way to illustrate this is a story about my roommate's Uncle. See, Uncle B. was a klansman. He was also half-Cherokee, and married a black woman, which interferes with the popular image of the Klan as a purely racist organization. That wasn't quite it. In its second incarnation (the one following the War Between the States), the Klan started out with the intention of preventing poor people from voting, which led to the eventual retaking of the South by the Democratic party. The crazy bastards conducted their meetings in Greek, and it was generally a case of the local elites fighting the national elites to see who could better control the local plebes. The local elites won. As time went on, the Klan definitely picked up a racist tone, but not quite the one it uses today. After all, they took Uncle B. He was even given a leadership position, and when the local sheriff thought that somebody had escaped justice, Uncle B. would get the word, ambush the guy, drag him to death behind his truck, and feed the body to a brood of lynxes which he had captured and raised himself. Not exactly a gentle, loveable fellow, but something a little different from the Klan's modern image.

In those days, the Klan was a social order beyond the law, reminiscent of the Mafia's role in the Son of Sam case (they essentially asked the local law to get out of a section of town, and at the end of the night, told them they wouldn't have to worry about the serial killer any more – it's likely that the guy who went to trial was a copycat). In that regard, the Klan-Nazi trial broke their power. Sure, they still had enough to get out of any convictions, but they no longer had the clout they'd needed to operate as the order beyond the law. It turns out that killing unarmed doctors in the street, on camera, tends to turn public opinion rather decidedly against you. It was no longer an organization with which elites could be associated.

They may have won the trial for their freedom, but lost in the court of public opinion. I can report that when the Klan and Nazis last assembled at the NC State Capital Building, not a single North Carolinian was among them. One person I knew to be a Nazi was skulking down Fayetteville Street, watching the proceedings from a safe distance, but the composition of the day was approximately a dozen fuggheads on the Capital lawn with a little amplifier and microphones, one hundred police forming a barricade, complete with mounted officers, snipers on the roof, and riot gear, and six hundred counter-protesters, who at various times could have been riled up into a lynch mob against the Klan (and the bitter irony remains that North Carolina has not yet stricken its lynch laws from the books).

An old hippie lady recognized my powerful set of lungs, and handed me a sheet of chants to lead. I didn't mind that one bit, as it allowed me to control the message of about a hundred of us as we drowned out the amplifiers with the sheer power of our lungs. My build (heavy), attire (heavy sport coat, tie, and fedora), and enthusiasm made me a favorite place for the rooftop snipers to aim. There were a few small squabbles as protesters tried to leave the designated area set aside for us (we weren't allowed to surround them, after all), and some high school anarchist set off a smoke bomb, but overall, it was an orderly, firm denunciation of the Klan and their message. I hope that's enough anecdotes to redeem my state's honor.

No need – North Carolina's charming and decent people long ago redeemed it of the reek of the Klan, and its vote for Obama in the election helped redeem the whole nation. It's a new state in a new country in a new world.

When I let Glug read the ish, his first comment was on the juxtaposition of the piece on the Klan with the piece on the Matt Harding novel – "This issue is all about Guy's formative experiences – how he became a public defender, and how he became a dirty old man."

Well, I wasn't old at the time.

On a final note, I'd like to reply here to a comment you made in SFPA – you'd said that when a supporter consoled you on your Hugo loss with, "Don't worry Guy, we'll get you one sooner or later," you'd felt that this wasn't quite the right sentiment – that you wanted to earn one. How about this, then? I feel the same way about your desert of a Hugo, but when I say it, I'll mean this: I will continue to submit the sort of articles that I feel are worthy of a Hugo-nominated fanzine, and encourage my friends to read Challenger.

Sounds good to me!

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Curt Phillips, Abingdon , VA

I know people who don't like dogs. Just honestly and sincerely don't like them. I don't *understand* such people, and certainly I don't really trust their judgment or their character, but I do know some. (I offer no apologies to anyone reading this who also doesn't like dogs; there's something wrong with people like that.) I always feel very sorry for them in the same way that I feel sorry for the 98% of the population who say they don't read books for pleasure. Anyone who shuts themselves off from the best of what life here on planet Earth has to offer just isn't fulfilling the promise of their own humanity, and books and dogs are certainly two of those best things. There are others, but your editorial in Challenger 28 reminded me of the several dogs I've known since I was a young child and whose ghosts still walk companionably beside me each day. Liz and I have been incredibly lucky to have had some truly great dogs in our lives, and they always seem to choose us instead of the other way around.

Our current dog is a large mixed-breed named Smudge. We found her at the local animal shelter here in Abingdon a few years ago – or rather Liz found her there. I was still in denial about needing a dog in my life after the death the previous year of our small terrier named Muffy, who at the age of 12 suffered a stroke and lingered about a week. On her final day I had stayed home from work and took care of her while I tried to convince myself that she might yet recover. But she had stopped eating and drinking, and was having great difficulty in responding to anything. After a few hours of struggle with myself, I accepted with great difficulty that I was going to have to let her go, and I called the vet to make an appointment that day to have her put to sleep. I hung up the phone, went back to my bedroom where Muffy was waiting on the bed I'd made for her, and I picked up my dog and just held her and silently cried. About half an hour later Muffy managed to lick my face once, and then she had another stroke and died there in my arms. Liz found us there later when she got home from work. Late that evening, I took Muffy out to my parents' farm and buried her under a tree. I thought then that I'd never have another dog.

More than two years later, Liz brought Smudge home from the pound. It was a complete surprise to me. She said that some impulse just made her go and look at the dogs in the shelter that day, and in the midst of about 40 loud, yapping, snarling dogs, one small, skinny bedraggled mess of black fur just sat there in the middle of its cage and looked at her. It was love at first sight and she brought the dog home. The dog was hard to look at. It had
evidently been neglected as it was about 10 months old and emaciated. It had patches of fur missing, motor oil on its back from sleeping under cars somewhere, and she smelled terrible. We cleaned up most of the mess that night and tried to start her on some soft food, but soon realized that Smudge was sick and a trip to the veterinarian the next afternoon confirmed my suspicion. Smudge had Parvo virus; a debilitating condition and in her already weakened condition, almost certainly a fatal condition. The veterinarian told us "no promises" but that with IV antibiotics she might be able to save the dog. The cost? $600. We'd only had this pound puppy for a bit more than 24 hours and the *reasonable* thing to do would have been to have her put to sleep right then, and if I'd been there alone that day I'm afraid that I might have done the reasonable thing. We were – at that time – still recovering financially from the loss of my 19 year job from a plant closure a few years earlier followed by going back to school to become an RN while working in a lumber yard to put food on the table, and at that moment I didn't have $600 in the bank. I would have *wanted* to save the dog if I could, but as I said, if I'd had to make that decision alone I'm afraid I couldn't have justified spending the money that my family needed on saving that sad, sick dog.

Fortunately – thank God – Liz was with me. She didn't say a word and if I'd told the veterinarian to put Smudge to sleep, she probably would never have said anything to me about it, ever. But she looked at me, and I could see that she needed – not a miracle, exactly, but she needed me to make a leap of faith for that dog. And then I looked at Smudge and saw that Smudge was looking to me for something... heroic. Laugh in you want to reader; but I know what I saw in my dog's eyes that afternoon. So I took Smudge's head in my hands, looked deep into her eyes, and said, "OK Smudge; I won't give up on you, so don't you ever give up on us."

We started the antibiotics, I found the money to pay the bill somehow, and Smudge slowly recovered. Today she's a healthy full grown dog with a beautiful black coat tinged with a few gray hairs, and is the calmest companion, the best watchdog, and the most loyal friend I've ever had. Sometimes when I'm sitting in the living room reading a book, she'll come in, jump on the couch with me, and lean against my shoulder, and the look I see in her eyes then reminds me once again that spending that $600 was the best investment I've ever made.

A great dawg story! Pepper sends Smudge a friendly sniff.

Sheryl Birkhead's article on the farm critters of her youth certainly brought back my own memories of my grandparent's farm with its dairy cows, hogs, and 100+ chickens. I well understand her battle with laying hens that will enthusiastically attack with beak and talon any small child who ventures too near their nest, and I learned the hard way that the only way to deal with chickens is to show them who's boss. If you show any fear around chickens that *will* gang up on you and attack. Been there, done that. My Grandfather Poe never had any trouble with the chickens because if one tried to peck at him he'd swat it with his old straw hat. The chicken – outraged – would run squawking off to tell all the other chickens about her ill-treatment, and Grandfather would quickly collect the eggs and leave before the hens could organize a counter-attack. Grandfather lived to be 89 and no chickens were involved with his death, so I guess he was right about them all along.

I had no idea until I read it in
Challenger 28 that Sheryl is a veterinarian. That was my first career ambition when I was 14 and doing the Veterinary Science project in the 4-H club. There are times when I still wish I'd gone ahead and tried to follow that dream, but I let myself become distracted. And I'm tickled to learn that Sheryl went to school at Virginia Tech, just about 80 miles up the road from where I live. I spent a lot of summers there with various 4-H camps and Congresses. It's a great school and a great community.

Warren Buff's article on Animal Companions and Empathy is well written but since I've not read any of Philip Pullman's books I had trouble following the explanation of his themes. I found myself wondering if Warren has read Clifford Simak's classic novel City with its evolved and very empathic dogs? If not I'd very much like to read an expanded article from Warren someday that incorporates his commentary about that work too. Simak was clearly a dog man anyway. His Hugo-winning Way Station included (if I'm remembering correctly) a dog character that
figured prominently in the story. I must read Simak again very soon.

I greatly enjoyed reading Joseph Green's article "Science Fiction: Entering the Great Divide" and was particularly intrigued with his comment "With a little vision on the part of coming American administrations, new and perhaps highly beneficial discoveries await us (in space)." This must have been written early in 2008, long before most of us let ourselves believe that the next American administration would be one led by Barack Obama, a man who seems to be "one of us" in his belief that science is a good and powerful tool that can be used to enhance the lives of everyone on the planet. The previous administration seems to have had rather less faith and considerably less understanding of the wisdom of scientific inquiry in solving the challenges of the 21st century. Even standing here in the ashes of late-2008 America I'm more hopeful about the future now than I've been in several years – but I digress...

Joe's observation of Earth-based vs. space-based SF hadn't particularly occurred to me before but I see his points. I've been more concerned with the trend towards outright fantasy works being nominated for and winning the Hugo awards for the past few years, a point that Joe also touches on. But I'd not considered his observation that the trends in Hugo and Nebula award choices might reflect the way that the SF reading public innately sees the future unfolding within our own lifetimes. Could be, but I would have thought that it was more a case of there being fewer writers willing to tackle vast space epics anymore. After "Doc" Smith started his career in the late 20's by throwing whole galaxies around like beanbags, what does a new SF writer do to top that? Some are certainly
holding up the tradition today – and I'm thinking of Alistair Reynolds, Charles Stross, Ken Macleod, and others of that school – both by looking outward as well as looking inward in the ongoing SF exploration of human destiny (*there's* a phrase for you...) and even though the ever shrinking pool of SF *readers* seems to generally prefer fairly basic Sci-Fi mind-candy to actual ground-breaking SF, there are still writers and readers who thrive on the good stuff.

Just not that many of us, really. I worry greatly for the future of the remaining SF magazines as each year their circulation numbers creep lower and lower. I hope they all rebound and thrive for decades yet to come, but it's harder and harder to see how they can continue to publish for many more years. And with the economy on life-support (thanks for that, Pres. Bush...) here in late 2008, bookstores across the country – as well as many other marginal businesses – are starting to close their doors. The B. Dalton's store in Bristol – a bookshop I've shopped at since 1973 – is closing at the end of January. I stopped in there today after work to find them in the middle of a "half-price Going-Out-Of-Business" sale. Very depressing. I'm not sure where I'll go to shop for new SF now. I suppose the computer generation will happily adapt to shopping for books and most other things on-line, but being old-fashioned, I like to hold a book in my hands and let it speak to me before I buy. But then, I'm just odd like that.

I can't agree with Laura Haywood-Cory that there is a "profound generational gap" that divides fandom. Generation gaps have little or nothing to do with the issue, in my opinion. Fandom *does* certainly have many subgroups, as Laura points out, and it is *that* fact which accounts for the division that afflicts fandom. "Trufandom" (not "true
fandom") is the group that traces it's roots back to the very beginning of organized Fandom in 1929 and which still practices the same traditional fan activities that the first fans did; fanzines, correspondence with other fans, and actually *reading* SF. I'm a member of that group and like my fellow Trufen I secretly consider *my* fandom to be *the* fandom. The real thing, the big kahuna, and so forth. The problem is, *every* fannish group can likewise trace their lineage back to 1929 – and some (pulp fandom, for instance) to decades before that – and all of them (as far as I know) also secretly consider *their* fandom to the *the* fandom.

And actually, that in itself is really no problem at all. Just because I like to read old pulp magazines, write for fanzines, and hang out with other fans who enjoy talking about Bob Tucker and Walt Willis and exploring fannish history doesn't mean that people who like to do other things and call it "fannish" are any less a part of Fandom than I am. I have to admit that some of the activities that pass for fannish today confuse me greatly; gaming fandom, for example. I just don't see the point or the attraction. Comics, filking, and a few other activities all leave me likewise unimpressed. But that's just me, and I know there are some people active in fandom who think my fascination with collecting old pulp magazines is a silly waste of time. But *I* like it, and I have a few friends who also enjoy the same hobby so I have someone to talk with about it. What more can I ask from a hobby?

The real problem – or so it seems to me – is a matter of definitions. Fandom long ago began fracturing into splinter interest groups. That's a very natural thing for human beings to do with their interests, but we somehow all allowed ourselves to fall into the trap of looking at the other fan activities and snobbishly thinking – or even saying – "my fandom's better than yours". Heck, I did it myself in the paragraph above with my off-handed snub of the gamers. Am I going to take it back? Heck no, because I really *do* think that my fandom is better than *their* fandom. That's why I'm *in* my fandom rather than theirs. We all select the interests that we want to pursue in life and we all tend to gather in herds with others who more or less share our particular collection of interests. And if the gamers want to call me up and say, "Curt, we think *your* fannish interests are just as silly as you think ours is," I'll have to admit that they have a perfectly valid point. Now, I'm not ready to put on a Star Wars storm trooper costume and march in the Rose Bowl parade, but none of this should really matter to any of us so long as we can admit to ourselves that we're all equally silly and equally majestic in our very human explorations of the intellect. We could all stand to show a little more tolerance and respect for the other areas of fandom that whirl madly about the fannish cosmos. All are fueled by our passions and all have the potential to illuminate our lives.

Except, of course, for the furries. They're just honking weird...

I enjoyed Greg Benford's review of Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near. Of all the science fictional concepts to emerge in the past 30 years, the Singularity is one of the most compelling to consider. Largely because although it
arose from SF, it's a concept that looms staggeringly above us all like a Sword of Damocles ready to lop off our heads at the first false move. Or maybe it's really the Lamp of Diogenes, offering illumination to the destination we should all be striving for. I dunno which one yet. Stick around a bit and we'll all see for ourselves soon enough. I think Benford is all too correct in his implication that we all need to successfully achieve and survive a social Singularity before we start rending our garments over the pending technological Singularity. Having new tools is one thing; having the wisdom to use them without exterminating ourselves is quite another.

Your "Birth of a Notion" was compelling reading. I have a deep loathing of the Ku Klux Klan both for the usual reasons (that they foster racism and incubate murderers, etc.) as well as for the lesser reason that as a white southerner and the descendent of Confederate soldiers (as well as a couple of Union soldiers) the Klan drags a part of my heritage through the same muck that they proudly march in. They continue to illegitimately appropriate our common southern heritage to serve their monstrous goals and in so doing they shame us all. They are the principal reason that southerners still have to apologetically explain their own culture here in the 21st century. They are the final festering wound of the American Civil War and the very embodiment of the true evil of American racism.

I enjoyed Rich Dengrove's review of Edison's Conquest of Mars, but then as a devotee of antique STF I'm predisposed to like that sort of thing. Thanks for printing T.K.F.Weisskopf Reinhardt (heck, I'm just gonna call her
"Toni"...) DSC GOH speech. I deeply wish I could have been there to hear it presented live but reading it in Challenger is a nice consolation for not having attended the convention myself. Chall 28 had the first bit of fan fiction I've ever read by Mike Glyer and though I'm not a Flashman fan, Mike's piece is pretty good and the jokes still work even though I probably missed a few references. I enjoyed Kurt Erichsen and John Widmer's trip report since a well written trip report is a joy all by itself even if I don't know the places they mention. For the same reason I greatly enjoyed reading James Bacon's "Truman in Trouble", (great photos, James) though I'm forced to add, "Too close to the Cheetahs James." "Too close to the LIONS, James." "TOO CLOSE TO THE BULL ELEPHANT, JAMES!" Somehow, I think I'd not enjoy a trip to a South African game preserve quite as much as just reading about such a trip in Challenger...

I knew that Mike and Carol Resnick had been involved in breeding Collies but I didn't know how deeply they'd been involved in the dog show world. This was a fascinating look at how that business works, but it convinces me that I could never be involved in anything like that. I'd make pets of them all and would have 20 dogs living in the house with us. Not with Collies, perhaps, but I could see having that many West Highlands White Terriers around the house. Lots of work, but fun if you like that sort of thing.

I'd heard the story of the SFPA 100 collation before from others who were there, but you seem to have a lot more
meat on the bones of that story. I actually have a copy of that mailing even though I wasn't a member of SFPA at the time (My sojourn in SFPA came much later.) It came to me through Lynn Hickman when his family gave me his fanzine collection after his death in 1996. I never have completely reassembled the mailing but I do have more than half of it all together and I assume the rest of it is there, scattered among the 15 or 16 assorted boxes of fanzines still occupying my library. I'm sort of hoping that you and Rosy will visit us here in Abingdon someday since I *know* that if I show you that heap of fanzines and the partially assembled SFPA 100 mailing, you'll creep back down there after I've retired for the night and you'll spend the rest of the night reassembling it. I know you, Guy; you won't be able to fall asleep until you've finished it. I'll waken the next morning all bright and well-rested and will find you sitting bleary-eyed and haggard at the kitchen table waiting for me. "Here!" you'll growl as you push that great stack of paper towards me. "Make sure you keep it together from now on. I'll be back someday to make sure you've taken care of it!" And only then will you stumble off to sleep the sleep of the Just and Untroubled.

Challenger 28 had an excellent lettercol and I could easily write a LOC as long again as this one *just* in responding to your letter writers. Many good comment hooks there, and I'm tempted to recount my own trip to Atlanta in 1986 for Confederation, but maybe I can get an article out of that Worldcon trip someday... Very good article by John Purcell – one of my favorite fanzine publishers. (All you folks out there ought to be reading John's Askance. It's good solid zine, "full of whole-wheat words and other uplift", as Albert Alligator once said of some other fanzine...) That photo of the swimming kitty un-nerves me somewhat. I know that cats are hiding Many Things from us, but the thought that they may be secretly planning to take over the Olympics is more than I can grok.

That bacover illo by Liz Copeland is a *quilt*? Wow! My old grandmother would be so jealous...

Get back to work Guy, and pub us another stunning fanzine. Fandom needs what you got, buddy. Now more than ever before!

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Brad W. Foster, Irving TX


Greetings Guy~

Woo, always amazed at the sheet bulk of each new issue of
Challenger, a rare thing to arrive in the mailbox these days.

I could particularly agree this week with your editorial comment of "Critters give so much, and ask so little." I started feeling kind of "off" about two weeks ago, got progressively worse, thought it was some kind of cold/flu thing. Ended up going to the doctor a few days ago and finding out I had bronchitis, verging on pneumonia. Got the right meds in me now, and working back out of it. But that entire time both of our little furries Duffy and Sable have been almost constant companions, just being nearby while I was awake and working at my desk, or sleeping pressed up tight to me while I was in bed. Feeding me their healing purrs is how I came to feel about it.

Glad to hear of the addition of Pepper to the household!

As usual, the highlight of the issue was your own writing on your legal career. Interesting to be able to trace your path like that, and actually be aware of turning point moments.

Your comments at the end about the attorneys having blown the case in the "voir dire" also struck home for me. Had my latest jury call come up a couple of months back, and was actually part of a group to be interviewed for a case. While we were seated in the hallway waiting to go into the courtroom for the first time, a bailiff from another court walked by and joked that I should hide the book I was reading, as if any of the lawyers saw me reading, I'd be struck right off the list. We all laughed, though I had to wonder, was that old chestnut true, that if you showed any sign of "being smart" it was already one strike against you?

Once inside, attorneys for both sides made comments on the case and asked us questions. I was a bit confused on one point and asked for more info. Other people also had questions. Then we were sent out for a bit, and back in to have the eight folks selected, which didn't include me. It wasn't until I was standing waiting for the elevator to leave the building that I realized all the other people standing around me, also not selected, had made some sort of comment or asked a question during the interviews. Another scary cliché' come true: if you ask any questions, you will be struck because you "think for yourself". Tell me I'm being too paranoid Guy!

Personally, I like smart jurors – less likely to blindly follow the lead of the DA's perceived authority. I can't speak for all defense lawyers, but seems to me that the more independent and intelligent the juror, the better.

Finally, Cindy and I were lucky enough to get to attend the huge Houston International Quilt that Liz mentions in her interview. We were only there for one day, and spent almost that entire time walking up and down row after row of the most amazing pieces of artwork you'll ever see. Be prepared to toss out every idea of what you think a quilt "should" be, this was simply mind-blowing in range and skills. We're lucky that such a large show is actually in our neck of the woods, rather than out on either coast, and hoping to get back to see it again one day.

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