Gegenschein 66 November 1992


Since I couldn't get away for another overseas trip this year (time and money - mostly time - constraints) I went looking for gadgets to make my home more science fictional.

Last year Tandy (Radio Shack) started selling X-10 Powerhouse light and appliance controllers, and I bought a few with which to play. I was rather distressed at the limited variety (only four types), and even more annoyed at the $60-$70 prices. The exceedingly limited controller was even worse, at $150. In the USA, appliance controllers typically sell for $10-$15, which would tend to encourage a more blith attitude towards purchase. Unfortunately, I can't use any of the USA ones here, as our mains power voltages would rapidly kill them.The 1993 Tandy catalog lists the four available modules at $30 each (much more reasonable), and the controller at $80 (not good, but acceptable). There still isn't enough flexibility (no computer interface available, no infra-red interface, no feedback system), but I think it might be interesting to do some more playing. Maybe I'll need some of these fancy gadgets sometime, when I'm old and frail like Harry Warner Jr. says he is. I can see a gadget issue of Gegenschein in the future.

Design for What?

On Wednesday I discovered a new and revised edition of Victor Papanek's book Design for the Real World, an attack on industrial design as a sales tool, in favour of morally and environmentally responsible design. One of many examples was their toys for training muscle development in children with cerebral palsy (a disability that affects speech and muscle co-ordination). They were exceedingly critical of the facilities and treatment of cerebral palsy sufferers.

On Wednesday I failed to notice that the entertainment in the student bar was the notorious Steady Eddy, young comedian Christopher Widdows, who makes a living by lurching and staggering onto the stage and stuttering out cutting jokes lampooning cripples. Typical monologue.

"I won the rap dancing competition here today ... and I was only walking to the bar to get a drink. Luckily I can sit on a single beer all night and still look like I've had a good time. I'm up to 40 cigarettes a day -- mind you, I dropped 30 of them. Did you see that beautiful girl walk to the bar? Sigh. If only she had a limp. Still, in any normie, there is a spastic trying to get out."

"I was a real prick at school. I used to hide my mate's artificial limb, and disconnect my other mate's electric wheelchair -- while on a hill."

"The teachers said you've got to be inconspicuous to fit into the mainstream society. Every morning a bus came to pick me up with Spastic Centre written on the side -- pretty bloody inconspicuous."

Steady Eddy, cerebral palsy sufferer, is also critical of the institutions set up for people like him.

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US Trip Report - Part 3

Leaving Boston

Wednesday 19th February 1992

A lazy morning, packing my very overstuffed bag with books, punctuated by a short walk to nearby shops for a coke. Then I sat down to bring these notes slightly more up to date prior to searching out the route to the airport.

I basically decided that wandering round Boston with all my luggage, in the fine misting rain, wouldn't be the most pleasant option, despite wanting to see more of the city.

Sarah drove me to one of the underground railway stations, carefully pointing out that I didn't really need to know much about the system, since the ones from that station went only one way. This merely proves Sarah has never seen me in my bold, intrepid navigator mode, in which I can get lost walking round the car.

After failing to sight any escalator, I lugged my trolley of baggage (the perils of buying yet more books) down the numerous flights of stairs and onto the train. Not a bad service really, with announcements before each station, and upon arrival. (Unlike at home, where announcements are at random ... both in time and in accuracy.)

To my delight, my little excursion onto the streets of Boston put me right next to the street on which Barnes and Noble, Booksellers, had one of their two Boston shops. This can variously be ascribed to wonderful planning or sheer dumb luck, but was more a mixture. I picked up the carry bag I wanted (one they don't sell by mail, but which I'd long wanted to check out) and then headed for the Blue Line train which would take me the rest of the way to the station nearest the airport.

Didn't find it, despite locating a street information map. Had to ask a local for help ... and then lug my heavier than ever bags up numerous flights of steps, and then down numerous other ones into the bowels of the earth ... well, the subway. This line didn't have as fancy a train, but did have a map showing where wheelchair access was available ... by this time I was finding my luggage as much of an obstacle as running a wheelchair might be ... especially when trying to maneouver it through the turnstyles. At least the airport station had an escalator, and a luggage slide past the turnstyle.

The free airport bus was fine ... even anti-climatic. I should have known it was too early to cheer up about geting to the airport early.

My flight had been cancelled. Luckily I was able to reschedule onto a flight to Detroit (again!), with a reasonable connection to Chicago, scheduled arrival only about a half hour after my original flight. I even managed a phone call to Dick Smith and caught him at home, despite rather tight timing to get the flight (it left an hour prior to the one on which I'd been originally scheduled).

About the only advantage of this thing is that at least I managed five minutes of notes into the computer at Detroit airport. You can tell, can't you? Lots of details of travel here - wait till I dismiss a convention in three lines.

Dick Smith, hopeful future DUFFer, was slightly late arriving at the airport, and I'd already cleared baggage, but we met up slightly thereafter, and took the Chicago tour.

First stop was at the book filled home of Alex and Phyllis Eisenstein, with whom I was to spend some time. Alex and I shared considerable taste in books, and upon my return home I was able to ship him a quantity of books by H.G. Wells.

Leah Zeldes Smith arrived at their home later, and we headed for a Japanese restaurant. I didn't do justice to the food, but I've yet to find a Japanese restaurant I disliked. As is often the case during visits, we stayed up late talking, before Dick and Leah carried me away to their home.

Thursday 20th February 1992

Lots of alarms in the morning (quiet ones, noisy ones, lots of them). It was impressive! I got the impression Dick and Leah didn't believe in responding to alarms.

Leah took me to the Eisensteins round eleven, where I talked with Alex. Topics included production of books (average PB sales now under 10,000). Water damage to paintings, how to repair it, and what museums do. Alex had a very personal interest, since a painting had accidently been subjected to some water. Australian collector Ron Graham and the loss of his art collection (Alex wants to find out what it contained and what happened to it). Use F1 rocket engines instead of shuttle. Lots more.

Alex took me book shopping, and mall haunting including Walden Books, but they had a poor selection of remainders, while Crown Books had cheaper hardcovers, one sf. Alex told me of the wonders of the Fantasia book. I found that I was missing three of Phyllis' books - I thought there were only three. And I still managed to miss buying one of them subsequently at the convention, despite Phyllis providing dinner. Max Levchin (ex Kiev) came with us to Capricon, with some very different art for the show, from his father.

My pre-booked membership and hotel room were OK, except I changed the room from Thursday (nothing much scheduled to happen then) to Friday. The hucksters were setting up so I left books with Scott and Jane Dennis in the Hucksters Room. Talked with Jane and Scott, Dick Spellman, Leah and Dick Smith at many various points in the evening. My note reads "Want Potscrads, fannish quote cards."

Could 16th Century technology produce a fanzine? Instead of Guttenberg's moveable type, we could have had silk screening leading to mimeo. Ditto ink transfer would have been beyond the technology of the time, as it needs analine dyes. This discussion may indicate that, apart from the above named fans, there wasn't a lot for fanzine fans on Thursday evening at the con.

Back to Leah and Dick's place. Even sent email to Martin at work round 2.30 a.m. from the computer in the basement ... and didn't get a real lot of sleep before the alarm went off ... and went off ... and went off ...

Mind you, by then I was used to it!

Friday 21st February 1992

Leah dropped me off at the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort on her way to work. The Hucksters Room featured lots of books by GoH Terry Bisson, however he had taken ill, and was not able to attend. Probably just as well (not his being ill, his not being there), as I'd have probably wanted him to autograph his automotive book, not his sf ones.

The art show standards were not nearly as high as Boskone, although I did take a note of an art tip panel : You and the Pyramids: Using durable art materials. I checked this because Delphyne Joan Woods (often listed in my WAHF due to her amusing postcards) was listed as a panelist. Not there. The panel was interesting anyway, and I even picked up some hints on how to use various art materials. All my artistic friends think I should pay more attention to the tips on ephemeral art. The bit I remember was use acrylic, because it is easier.

Strangely enough, there was a glassblowing demonstration by artist GoH Steve Scherer in the huckster's room. I have no idea whether this was because he wanted to sell the pieces afterwards, or the con ran out of space, or technical difficulties in using gas flames in hotel rooms. The latter, one would hope and believe.

I recall hearing discussions of folk vs filk singing (a takeover, one thinks), and smoking vs non-smoking (not something likely to be cleaned up soon). Lots of art demonstrations, which I enjoyed, ... but mostly not as good an art show as I saw at Boskone (which may well be exceptional in any case).

We dined at Edwardo's Natural Pizza at Wheeling, as Scott and Jane and Leah and Dick wanted to impress me with a proper Chicago pizza (it was good). The flat tire afterwards impressed me also, as we all learned how to do obscure mechanical things to vans. We must have done most of it right (except for the wheel nuts ... not the nuts behind the wheel) because we eventually got back to the hotel.

We did pick up the party (supplies only), too late to run it. Luckily Bruce Schneier had a party in 3064, and I got introduced to a bunch of techies. Todd Johnson has used Motorola smart Uarts (I'll explain that some fanzine when I'm describing home control systems). The techie talk turned to getting even. I mentioned the midnight cricket (a gadget that chirps ... but only when it is dark). The best I heard was to freeze a pressure pack of shaving cream with liquid nitrogen, and cut off the nozzle. Three will fill a Volvo! (Hearsay only, at least on my part.)

Ex Minneapolis fan Linda Moss-Levin turned up, having moved to Chicago. It is interesting how hard it is to keep in contact with non-fanzine fans by mail, but how easy to find them at conventions. Someone produced some Dove brand chocolate, a wonderful treat (and disproved my suspicion that I wouldn't be able to find decent chocolate in the USA). Of course, the quiet pot party may have increased my suggestibility ...

The party produced comments to other Australian travellers like Jack Herman. The A train runs in Manhatten, in town to Harlem and beyond, and has nothing to do with Chicago. Scott Dennis says Jack's trip report should be changed to reflect this. And so to bed at 4 a.m.

Saturday 22nd February 1992

Someone swiped my "Do Not Disturb" sign, but I was up late anyway. Even exercised a little, but not enough to partake in the convention blood drive (they didn't allow withdrawals). Mike Jitlov's "Wizard of Time and Space" was being screened, so I watched some, and still want a copy (it is fun). I attended The Secret Life of Candy by Sam Scheiner, a very funny slide show about genetic combinations of Tootsie Rolls and MandMs. I also sought out Frederik Pohl's Our Angry Earth ecology panel, and later bought a copy of Fred's excellent book by the same title.

Fermi Lab physicist Bill Higgins (an interesting party attendee) displayed numerous slides, many new to me, in his presentation of To Jupiter the Hard Way. There was a scientific creationism (a contradiction in terms) panel, something for which I can't understand the need. The Gourmet Jelly Bean identification contest running in one of the fan lounges was a great idea (although I feel constrained by the difficulty of locating easy sources of gourmet jelly beans out here - they exist, but do not appear common).

I was chatting that evening with Betty Hull, who invited me along to dinner with her and Fred Pohl at the hotel, where the discussion was on politics and the economics and running of sf magazines. You certainly get a lot of background on the sf scene by talking with thoughtful authors at conventions. I hasten to add that I was probably thus favoured because they recognised me from dinner at Hardwired Confusion (see Gegenschein 63).

Sunday 23rd February 1992

I watched Community Planning in the Global Village round 11 a.m., however the remaining Sunday panels were not to my taste, so I wandered and caught up with people who were leaving early ... of whom there were many. Indeed, much of my time was spent in the huckster's room, getting the last of the books I was to send off.

Mailed 38 pounds of books from Chicago airport mail facility, thanks to Dick Smith, who not only drove me there, but also supplied the cardboard boxes, the tape, and even the mail bag. To my delight, the cost at this facility was only 72 cents a pound sent, which was much cheaper than the $1.65 a pound for the previous bag mailed in High Springs, Florida.

I went to the dead dog with Dick Smith. And dead indeed it was. By midnight, things had degenerated to less than a half dozen people, and there were still heaps of supplies left. Rather than let the hotel get all of them, we loaded twenty dozen cans into Dick's car for future fannish events (like Australia in '99 parties), and I took a dozen with me to Minneapolis the next day.

Monday 24th February

I was up late, and occupied the time prior to the midday airport shuttle in trying (not very successfully) to remain no more than a convention or two behind in writing up these notes.

Once again sneaky ticket fandom had struck, and instead of using my Visit USA airpass, I had a complimentary Northwest FastTrak ticket Chicago to Minneapolis for the 2 p.m. flight, with a return on the evening flight for Friday. I didn't intend to use the return; it was merely a placeholder in case some fan in Minneapolis could use a trip to Chicago ... one way.

Once Northwest figured out what the ticket actually was ("only the second time I've seen one of these") they got me on my way very speedily, changing me to the 1 p.m. flight, so I barely had time to collect my free drink coupon, and complimentary Wall Street Journal (yippee, the Australian dollar is back to 75 cents! Maybe my credit cards won't bleed red ink after all). I didn't have any time in which to check out the free buffet in the Northwest lounge, which is a pity, because I did want to report back on all aspects of the new on-the-hour service. Indeed, I had to rush to even phone Terry Garey in Minneapolis with my flight number and arrival time. Luckily, I had for once stocked up with coins in advance of the phone call. As an aside, I notice that a larger percentage of the phones take only phone credit cards, a trend that will totally stop overseas visitors from making use of them (we don't have any ATandT cards).

Terry collected me from the baggage area in the Minneapolis terminal, once again proving that fans can recognise each other after a lapse of a decade, and drove me off in a seemingly enormous car through a winter wonderland.

This time I really was in the middle of all that frozen white stuff I'd been trying to avoid all trip. It actually looked exceedingly strange (to me) and pretty, with branches festroned with little clumps of snow, and the sidewalks brilliant in pure white in the sunlight. I actually felt that I needed tinted lenses to cut down the glare (yet another oversight in my trip planning was no tinted lenses).

At Terry and Denny's home, we talked of the usual inconsequential fannish things, and I got the labyrinth tour until Denny Lein returned from work. I was particularly impressed (being a gadget person) by the new furnace ... I hadn't really looked at US central heating equipment before, and we don't have furnaces and hot water radiator heating in Australia. Terry made an authentic (well, maybe not) Mexican pie, which strongly reminded me of the Aztec Pie a Mexican restaurant near Faulconbridge makes. Turkey made an excellent substitute for beef, and I think it tasted better.

Denny had contacted a bunch of Mnstf people and kindly arranged a party for Tuesday, and I was able to return phone calls (mostly it seemed to answering machines) awaiting me from several Minneapolis fans.

Joyce Scrivner lives only a block or two away, and Denny and I set out round eight after phoning, only to find that the door bell didn't work, and Joyce couldn't hear us knocking. We headed back, leaving the beer cooling in the snow by the doorstep, and phoned again. Denny thought I could find my way back this time, so I once again braved the elements, trudging through the snow and ice and sleet ... well, actually, although what I could feel on my face was a lot colder than I am used to anywhere in Australia, it was a fine, clear, windless night and I didn't have any problems ... although I am now convinced that my warmest coat is totally inadequate for any place that is really cold.

Joyce and I talked (unavoidedly) about computers we worked with, caught up on as many of our fannish acquaintances as we could mutually recall, and then I got the grand tour of her portion of the enormous converted house in which she has her apartment. It was a real maze, with incomplete rooms, hidden closets, a walk out surface that could potentially become a sun porch, and enormous potential for storage. Like Terry and Denny's place, it was properly fannish in terms of books and magazines. Joyce gave me a pile of recent industry only computer and electronic magazines, from which I hope to extract free subscriptions myself, and I staggered back with them round midnight, through an evening that seemed warmer than earlier.

Tuesday 25th February 1992

Spent morning and most of day squired (and Touristed again) by Linda Lounsbury, a long time (but infrequent) correspondent, and one of the fans who visited Australia before. The morning was occupied by the Science Museum, where Linda, being a museum person, was putting in some voluntary work. Once again I was impressed at how well devised some of the exhibits were in terms of simple effective demonstrations of physical principles, mostly based on 19th Century classic experiments. Kids should love it, but Linda later pointed out that many children resented being taken to the museum, and effectively refused to let their imagination roam. I find that very sad.

We lunched at the traditional place Mpls fans take overseas visitors, Bandana, a mall converted from a railway workshop, and still retaining a massively railway oriented theme. I was particularly impressed by the miniatures shop, and snooped through it hoping to locate tools sufficiently small to use for my electronics. Alas, they had nothing I didn't already know of in the way of tools.

My main memory of lunch is a discussion of the etymology of chocolate fudge, and how it might be referred to in Australia. This was illustrated by us each eating an enormous example of the species ... just for reference purposes, you understand.

We visited another mall, where a watch place convinced me my watch wouldn't work even with replacement batteries. Linda located a $2 watch as replacement, which shows the proper fannish attitude to such things. Also visited Kinkos, the copy place, for another 25 copies of Geg 62. At least some of the Minneapolis fans got copies ... and don't ask me how I ran through the 200 copies I had printed in Detroit.

Linda collected Jonathan, an active 4 year old, from the day care centre, and I did my best to convince him I really was a kangaroo (don't think he believed me).

Jean's birthday today ... and all I managed to send her was a card signed by numerous convention attendees, some of whom may plausibly know Jean. It is always a problem to find suitable presents for Jean, mostly due to my inadequate imagination.

Terry and Denny had arranged a party, so I could meet the maximum number of people that evening.

Party attendees included Linda Lounsbury, Jonathan, Mog Decarnin, Geri Sullivan, Jeff Schalles, Dave Wixon, Jeanne Mealy, John Stanley, Julie Johnson, Dean Gahlon, Laura Krentz, Denny Lien, Terry Garey, David Cummer, Joyce Scrivner, Karen Schaeffer, Jerry Corwin.

(Lots of discussion and review of the Zenith Computer and playing around.) I failed to take notes.

Joyce Scrivner, reporter, adds:

"Not to mention telling bad light bulb jokes after admiring Terry's chili pepper light bulbs decking the kitchen sink. This was brought on by Eric's discussion of people decorating their room parties at Boskone with Xmas lights which spelled out words (and music, request I?) and then pursuring to Dean Gahlon's remembrance of the Generic Con Party at Chicon which decorated the Xmas lights (all things were decorated with yellow and black signs proclaiming thier representaion) with a sign proclaiming: light bulb. Do not change without the requisite number of people of correct sex and/or ethnic. All of this discussion leading to Terry's joke (which she remembers: How many art directors does it take to change a light bulb? Does it have to be a light bulb? (This being said very vapidly with the swing of an imaginary scarf and the eyes pointing to the ceiling.) And then Dean Gahlon's joke: How many aspiring authors does it take to change a light bulb? Let me TELL you about my light bulb, ... (Dean leaning towards Terry and pointing his finger as if to indicate a specific point.) Where upon Denny wandered by towards the refrigerator and said: `It was a dark and stormy light bulb.' (And from me, merely, I imagine the light bulb goes Nova. The End.)"

Party ends round midnight.

Wednesday 26th February 1992

Once again I plunged into adding to the trip report, in my usual inefficient fashion. Luckily, round ten, Denny returned and I was able to abandon the keyboard with a clear conscience to assist him by sticking mailing labels on the March issue of "Einblatt", the Minnesota Science Fiction Society monthly newsletter. They are exceedingly organised folks there.

Denny drove me to Gordon R Dickson's home round 12:30, and thence both of us to the Decathalon Club for an exceedingly lengthy lunch. It hardly seemed possible that it could have been a decade since I last saw Gordy, but as we talked and mutually caught up with events, I realised that it had indeed been that long. Somehow it seemed only a few years ago that Gordy had visited Sydney and Melbourne and I'd guided him round.

I had been exceedingly remiss in keeping up with recent GRD books, having figured I had them all except the few most recent. Dave Wixon kindly supplied a long list, and Gordy gave me autographed copies of "Wolf and Iron" and "Young Bleys". Later, Denny took me to DreamHaven books, where I picked up almost a dozen GRD books (mostly the short story collections) that were not on my list. Denny also said he thought he could find any that I was still missing.

Unfortunately, comparison of the books I now have with those on the list that Dave Wixon gave me indicates that I still lack considerable numbers of Gordy's books, including The Alien Way, Combat SF, Delusion World, Devils and Demons, Dickson!, The Dorsai Companion, Hoka!, Jamie the Red, The Last Dream, Mindspan, Planet Run, Secrets of the Deep, Space Winners, The Stranger, Time to Teleport, Witches Warlocks and Werewolves. Most are, admitedly, collections, but there are a lot there I haven't even heard of prior to seeing the list (maybe some are retitles).

We picked up Terry, and spent a quiet evening at their home, interrupted only by Denny and I going out to get a pizza. I may have finally caught up on my sleep debt. And not before time!

Thursday 27th February 1992

Denny drove me to the airport nice and early. Alas for such schemes, my 9:23 flight was late, not expected till past ten, so I cooled my heels for some time, and caught up with yet more of my trip report by hiding out in remote and comfortable areas of the airport.

The trip to Los Angeles was basically long and boring, punctuated by a bad movie ("Deception") that I didn't watch, and a poor breakfast that I did eat, it being 11 a.m. by the time it was available. L.A. airport seems a maze, however the manoeuvres for getting to the Cockatoo Inn were limited and relatively easy. Their courtesy van, which had already collected George Flynn, arrived a minute or so after I emerged from the terminal.

I soon spotted Don Fitch at the hotel reception area, and helped him move several trolley loads of liquid sounding supplies to his distant room, Room 202, which he said would be the smoking con room. The non-smoking room, Room 206, wouldn't be available until midday Friday. What is worse, a mundane was insisting on staying in Room 200. Since my room, 625, was in another building entirely, this made me worry a lot about block bookings, despite knowing full well that Elayne knows all about such things. On the other hand, Art Widner turned up as Don and George and I were completing the unpacking, and he and (the unexpected) Nigel Rowe were sharing Room 628, right next to mine overlooking the pool. We shall have to see where the bookings fall, but I'm still worried (this piece was written in Real Time).

Don Fitch asked me about replacing his word processor, and I went into my usual rave about how the world was getting too complicated, and how the simpler the system, the better (and cheaper!)

In fact, lack of food has put me in a fairly paranoid mood. I located a supermarket (despite having already been rewarded with a San Miguel from Don for helping unload the car) and bought a six pack of Coke (just a precaution, you understand) and a bottle of Myers Rum (wow, folks, $12 for stuff I can't get at all, and that would cost me twice that were I to find it ... indeed, the market even had Quervo 1800 at round $16, so I know what I'll be taking home!)

Upon returning to the hotel, I couldn't locate more than one ice machine in this building, and that doesn't actually produce ice. I keep hoping I'm merely working it wrong (silly foreigner, etc.) however since it has only one button, I'm still worried ... and paranoid!

I also just discovered that, as with many hotels, I couldn't manage to get a simple phone call go through. As far as I can tell, the US phone system, once one of the wonders of the world, now appears totally destroyed. I'm off looking for a coin phone! But first, I checked the phone book, and discovered the call zones had been split on December 1st. Auuughhht! Try again. First the phone system tells me I need a zero before the number (if it knows that, why doesn't it complete the call?), then it tells me I need another digit for an operator! I hate it. Sorry Lorraine, no phone call.

Then, the phone rings. Bill Bowers in Don Fitch's room, telling of a continuing party there, so I go over and sample some fine varieties of single malt whiskey, to consolidate my pissant reputation. We talk of who is running for what fan fund, and who is pissed with whom, whether as a consequence of the usual domestic disputes, or whether a result of winning or losing fan funds.

Some things never change; indeed, even the Martha Beck Topic A gets into conversation. Bill doesn't actually have a room for Thursday. so we move him into my room, as I thought would happen. Next time I may have need of the same help, and so the wheel turns round ... or some other fan will benefit. Indeed, this trip of mine would't be possible were it not for the fans who put me up at their homes; Suzi Stefl, Pat and Roger Sims, Carolyn Doyle and Dave Rowe, Joe and Gay Haldeman, Bob Webber, Dick Smith and Leah Zeldes, Terry Garey and Denny Lien ... and if it weren't for such people, I also wouldn't need to make such trips.

I listened to talk of fandom for a while, with Bill Bowers, Don Fitch, Art Widner, Nigel Rowe (now resident in the UK), George Flynn and Velma Bowen. After an unsatisfactory Wendy's hamburger (they moved downmarket a lot over the past decade or so), we headed for the LASFS meeting in Don's car.

Alas, the combination of LA traffic jams, loss of the trail, and cigarette smoke were too much for me, and I spent much of the hour long trip there and back coughing and sputtering, and generally feeling miserable.

In fact, if in future the only option to go somewhere involves travel in a vehicle with smoking, I'm not going. The aftereffects are just too severe for me now.

According to the flyer sub-headed "Thousands of Thursdays", the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society is the oldest continuously meeting science fantasy society in this world. It was founded 27th October 1934.

I didn't enjoy the meeting particularly, being basically an anarchist, rather than an organised committee person, although it was nice to talk briefly with Robbie Cantor (I picked on her, told he she had to attend Corflu ... she is one of the organisers), and with Alan Frisbie, and Len and June Moffatt. Hardly saw Andy Andruschak.

Most memorable moment: Bruce Pelz telling the smokers that their request for a smoking area in the clubhouse could't be put through due to Board expansion plans for the library (needs to retain non-profit status).

Funniest moment: Description of a group of Italians making progressively sillier and sillier fake postage stamps (Mafia Bicentennial, most stolen cars of Italy series, beware of fake stamps stamp, the zero lira stamp) without the Italian postal service (the only free postal service in the world ... one of the stamps) ever actually appearing to notice this fact.

Upon return to the con, I had too much of a headache to consider spending much more time in the smoking con suite, and retired soon after midnight in an attempt to reduce my headache.

Friday 28th February 1992

Roy Lavender told of a hoax pulled on August Derleth back in the 1940's. They located some genuine linen paper, made iron and gall ink, and wrote up in middle English all the portions of the Necrimonicon quoted by H P Lovecraft. That was Cinvention Worldcon in Cincinnati in 1949.

Len and June Moffatt were doing a card to Charles Burbee, who had broken his hip when he was pulled off his porch by his pooch.

Found Gil Gaier at the con. Hadn't seen a fanzine from him for most of the last decade, nor heard from him.

Met Laurie Yates attending her first fanzine convention, a new FAPA member, one of what seems an unending stream of new fans introduced by Joyce and Arnie Katz. I wish Sydney could start finding new fans the same way. Maybe they can, if the will was there.

Milt Stevens talked re crime statistics and drugs. Well, he would know.

Don Franson was there, another old timer I hadn't expected, despite sending him the odd fanzine for almost as long as I've been in fandom.

Talked with Roy about his Cromenco C10, and so on. He told me that Tim Zell was still round, with Otter and Morning Glory Zell, and the Church of All Worlds, was now at P O Box 982, Ukidh, Ca. 95482, (707) 485 7787.

Dean Grennell was there briefly, but had hearing aid problems, so I didn't really get to speak with him.

Stu Shiffman came over and talked about Seattle fandom, the fannish bits and the convention runners.

Jean and I met Neil Kaden in Australia while he was travelling. He introduced his wife Cris, whom we hadn't met.

Bill Rotsler talks entertainingly about movies, and making them.

I note the range of beers: Labatt's Blue Molson's Golden from Canada, Lowenbrau Dark Special from Germany, Michelob Classic Dark, Oranjeboom Holland Beer, Beck's Dark Beer (Germany), Mexican Bohemia brand beer, Pripps Imported beer from Sweden, and Anchor Steam. I noted them by sampling one of each. I think Don Fitch did a wonderful job of arranging the consumables.

Once again I admired Moshe Feder's exceedingly small 35mm camera. This time I carefully note that it is an Olympus Infinity Stylus, and that Moshe thinks it runs about US$120 or so on discount. Naturally I can't find one in Australia - although possibly I should try a camera store?

R Laurraine Tutihasi arrives, talks about looking for jobs in other areas. I tell her Australian recession statistics (official and unofficial) - she decides not to immigrate after all.

Ron and Linda Bushyager arrive, and have a strange conversation with Milt Stevens about crime and punishment, and warped twisted people ... not fans. At least, I don't think they were talking about fans. Neil Kaden talked about Northern Telcom jobs. I hear lots about that at Applix meetings, as some of the most productive Applix programmers work for Northern Telcom here at their research department.

Ted White led a party elsewhere. One could speculate. Leah and Dick Smith arrived (Leah had a cold).

Voting at the MidCon ceremony at 7 p.m. is led by Ted White, and Robert Lichtman is the winner. Linda Bushyager is selected as GoH by Bruce Pelz's computer program. Good choice, since we get to watch Linda squirm.

Greg Benford is reported to be the only known fan to crash the convention (well, actually he kept pretty much in public areas such as the bar). Later reports indicate an argument during dinner between him and Ted White over a review Ted did some years ago. I bought Ted a special con badge reading

"I'll Sue You. It will be just like old times."

(Not strictly accurate; as far as I know, Ted has never sued any fan, although I believe he has been threatened himself.) Luckily Ted forgave me, and even talked to me at the banquet. He didn't take the badge with him however.

Sunday 1st March 1992

The midday banquet, traditional time. I am at a table with Joyce and Arnie Katz, and young(er) newcomers from LasVegas fandom, Anthony Bernardi and Laurie Yates, both about to become FAPA members.

Bill Rotsler takes out a pen and starts drawing on the plates, saucers, and cups. The queue for the banquet sees a ripple of disruption as a Rotsler plate is exposed to each fan who reached the start of the tables. Meanwhile, fans who ate earlier come clustering round our table, bringing more plates for Rotsler. The serving staff at the hotel are trying to pretend that this isn't really happening. Moshe Feder and others set up the array of cups and plates and start taking flash photos of them. The serving staff try even harder to pretend it isn't happening, but some of them have big grins.

Ted White, also at our table, had to leave to catch his flight after only twenty minutes, and probably missed most of the Rotsler plates. Nigel Rowe turned up and grabbed the chair a little later.

Bruce Pelz is wearing a bright yellow embroidered shirt. Upon closer inspection, we can see the scenes are all the work of two decades of fan artists, who drew the original patterns on the shirt.

Monday 2nd March

The only day of my trip in which the heavens opened and heavy rain descended. I can tolerate that. Indeed, there wasn't even a lot of post con letdown, as the fifty of so people at Corflu had been leaving gradually throughout the Sunday afternoon. Bill Bowers left round midday, as did Art Widner. Richard Brandt and Nigel Rowe went exploring LA in a rental car a little latter, while Ron and Linda Bushyager also set out. Geri Sullivan and I sat in the restaurant to ensure that Don Fitch actually ate a meal, and I saw Geri off round two. I must mention again that Don did an absolutely magnificent job of supplying and running the con hospitality suites, and well deserved the standing ovation given during the speeches.

My own flight didn't leave until 10.30 p.m. so I'd retained my hotel room an additional half day, just to have a place to relax, pack, and do some reading and typing.

One item I read was the Corflu 9 one shot, "7th Inning", which boasted a Stu Shiffman cover, and was edited by Marty Cantor. Dean Grennell, well known to me from FLAP, had a rare fannish contribuion on his early days of fanac, as did Linda Bushyager on her first sf club meeting, first con, and first fanzine.

Robbie Cantor explained how important fanac was to Marty, and how she was now an Addam's Family (aparently the movie) fan. Marty Cantor grumped about smoking being banned at LASFS, and how he isn't going to attend as a consequence. I know how he feels, but from the point of view of someone who ain't attending any more events that have smoking.

David Rike (who sent me some magnificent bright Hawaiian shirts) explained how cats are really dumped alien parasites. Don Franson, who I'd not expected to see, contributed fanzine reviews. Len and June Moffatt, now more into mysteries, talked about publishing jiants of the early days, and their own publications over the years. Andy Hooper, very much up to date, reported on Corflu 9, but admitted to neglecting to ask for memberships for Corflu 10, with which he is himself associated (he did ask for memberships during the dead dog party). Gee, having missed Ditto (next weekend), I wonder if I can get to Corflu 10?

Also present in the one shot were Andy Andruschak, Tom Digby and S Gary Hunnewell.*

Geri Sullivan's Corflu Photos**

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SF Books

Allen, Roger McBride, The Modular Man

Bantam, June 1992, 306 pages, US$4.99

Paperback of the Analog serial. A lawyer's inventor husband downloads his personality into a heavily modified household appliance computer. Is the person still alive, what will the courts decide. The lawyer is crippled in an accident, and uses a remote teleoperated body. Unlike all of Allen's other novels, this time I didn't care what happened.

You could blame this on my antipathy for the idea of lawyers and courts, which have managed to remain almost totally irrelevant (when not a direct menace) to the vast majority of the human race.

The Untold Legend of the Batman, Wein Byrne Aparo

Tor, August 1992 (September 1992 local), US$3.50 A$7.95 (Pan)

Pan MacMillan sent this paperback size comic, doubtless released to take advantage of the Batman Returns film out at the same date. Yet another different version of the death of Batman's parents, and his revenge, plus the death of Robin's parents. Where they get their Batmobiles from. I get confused at all the different versions, but have to admit I haven't seen the comics since I was a child.

Bisson, Terry, Voyage to the Red Planet

Pan, September 1992 (local), 236 pages, A$10.95

I reviewed this at length several issues ago when the US version appeared. It is a wonderfully cynical and amusing tale of how Hollywood takes over a bankrupt and surplus spaceship, and makes of film of the Conquest of Mars, by doing it themselves. Anarchy is the way to the planets!

Brooke, Keith, Expatria

Corgi, August 1992, 318 pages, A$10.95 (Transworld), ISBN 0-552-13725-1

A colony has rejected technology, but young Mathias wants to play with the working gadgets he finds. As heir to the throne, he gets away with a lot, until framed for his fathers murder. Meanwhile, an Earth ship is approaching, bringing change. And the original colony ship is still in orbit, and still manned.

First part of what should have been published as a single volume.

Downing, Paula E, Flare Star

Ballantine, April 1992, 249 pages, US$3.99

The scientific colony on Wolf II is irradiated by a stellar flare. The trouble making pilot on the approaching supply ship Ceti Flag sees the flare, and with difficulty persuades the crew to start preparing to evacuate the otherwise doomed scientific party (if any survived).

Well done hard sf adventure, with characters.

Forward, Robert L, Martian Rainbow

Ballantine, July 1992, 290 pages, US$4.99

I'd have prefered Forward stuck to strange environments and alien life. This political and military adventure just doesn't do anything.

Gilden, Mel, Surfing Samurai Robots

Roc Fantasy, August 1991, 252 pages, US$4.50

Humorous science fiction, in which Zoot Marlowe (invading alien private eye (he has been listening to old Earth radio serials back home)) inconspicuously (he is four foot high and has a two foot nose) investigates who is sabotaging the surfing robots before the big Malibu competition. Wacky insanity (especially the talking gorillas).

Ing, Dean, The Nemesis Mission

Tor, September 1992, 468 pages, US$5.99

High tech thriller. A small private skunk works team makes an unlimited endurance spy plane for the coast guard. A joint NSA and other agencies team use the aircraft for an attack on drug producers who are moving in on Mexico. The pilots from the skunk works are caught up in the whole thing. As a thriller, it reads rather well. Maybe not Tom Clancy level, but certainly close enough for an uncritical reader such as myself. Lots of characters, good and bad, and a decent range of sub-plots. Ing is good at structuring his novels, and doesn't make silly mistakes. He also populates his novels with some real eccentrics, and I love that.

Is his polymorphic winged, flexible solar cell powered sailplane viable? Ing says a large scale polymer and carbon filament model worked (and I love the rationale for the canard design and the polymorphic wings). But I have a lot of trouble with the performance, even with a ducted prop. After all, the first solar plane to cross the USA (1991, I think) had 8 square metres of flexible silicon cells, but could only run a 1/3rd horsepower motor, and the NiCd batteries could only sustain 20 minutes of full power use. Ing is giving his plane a 90 foot wingspan, a take off weight of 2300 pounds, and claiming 40 kilowatt from the solar cells. And accumulators for night flight. What sort of accumulators give the power to weight you would need? Ing doesn't say, so I think he fudged it there. He also gives a glide distance of 400 miles from operational height, which is implied to be 12 miles.

Leigh, Stephen, Dinosaur World

Avon, June 1992, 274 pages, US$4.99 ISBN 0-380-76277-3

Some teenagers from our time become accidently involved in time slips when a Time Safari (from the future) changes the past. Stephen puts in some nice plot complications, and the Wayne Barlowe illustrations are neat. I'm a little concerned that this novel ends with a number of plot strings unresolved (first in a series). At least it is well written, unlike many novels for teenagers.

Lindholm, Megan, Alien Earth

Bantam, July 1992, 385 pages, US$5.99

Enigmatic aliens rescue the human race from a dying earth, and make them an ecologically unobtrusive addition to a twin world system. Many generations later, a human captain take an alien beastship on the long voyage to Earth. The aliens remain aloof throughout, but an alien aboard each beastship controls the functions of the ship. The human governing body is against any change in the stability of their ecologically sustainable and unchanging life, but the ship has been chartered by opponents who are not sure Earth is dead. And one of the original humans is still in suspended animation aboard the beastship, unknown to the other humans or even the alien controller. Does the mindless beastship have its own plans?

A great piece of work.

Modesitt Jr., L E, Timediver's Dawn

Tor, July 1992 (September 1992 local), 348 pages, US$3.99 A$7.95 (Pan)

Another nicely done adventure, set on a metal deficient world with modern technology, but very unevenly distributed. Most of the teleporting witches of history died out long before, but a few families still have the talent in their genes. The novel follows a youth with this talent to his adult tasks. Modesitt does a good job of following a growing character.

Pohl, Frederik, Stopping At Slowyear

Bantam, June 1992, 151 pages, US$3.50

Fred Pohl rarely writes a novel that isn't readable, and even the slightest tend to be thought provoking. This one is short, treats only one new idea, and may have worked even better at even shorter length (one could suspect commercial constraints here).

Parts of the galaxy are settled, sparsely, and ancient Bussard ships trade between the struggling colonies. The Norvick has visited eight systems in the past twenty seven subjective years, and hopes for better trade on this one. Some of the crew wonder if this might be the time they leave the ship forever. On the planet, expectations rise, for it has been lifetimes since the last ship.

Most of the novel gives a clear and detailed picture of two different societies, in which clearly depicted people live out their normal (by their standards) lives. Pohl does this as well as anyone writing in sf (which means far better than most).

The end of the novel brings a total shift. Read it.

Resnick, Mike, The Dark Lady

Tor, Nov 1987, 279 pages, US$3.50

An alien art historian must turn against his own innocent nature when his human employers contrive to set him on the trail of a series of pictures, spanning thousands of years, of a single mysterious woman. Resnick paints a wonderful picture of an alien personality, of what drives a person to rendering something as art, and of what damage obsession can cause. A wonderful work, and not at all the traditional sf.

Resnick, Mike (editor), Alternate Presidents

Tor, February 1992, 466 pages, US$4.99

What would it be like if someone else had been President, through 200 years of US history. A strange and different anthology, which may mean more to US fans with a better knowledge of US presidential characteristics.

Jack Chalker, Mike Resnick, George Alec Effinger, The Red Tape War

Tor, December 1991, 244 pages, US$3.99

Total farce, which no-one (especially the authors) can take seriously. Did have some funny scenes, since the basic theme is sending up bureaucracy.

Robeson, Kenneth, White Eyes (Doc Savage)

Bantam, March 1992 (August 1992 local), 304 pages, US$4.99 A$9.95 (Transworld)

A new Doc Savage adventure, based on an unfinished manuscript. A new criminal kills his enemies mysteriously, and tried to find Doc's Mayan treasure. Seems much the same as I remember the old series, which means it will be better suited to eight year olds or uncritical movie enthusiasts (just like the old series).

Sawyer, Robert J, Far-Seer

Ace, June 1992, 257 pages, US$499

The age of dinosaurs, on a distant planet. Afsan, apprentice to the Capital City astrologer Saleed, makes the long pilgrimage voyage to gaze upon the Face of God, an immense glowing object in the sky. This is Copernicus, Galileo, and Columbus all in one, and I loved it. Read it as an adventure, or as an analogy, but read it.

Williams, Walter Jon, House of Shards

Tor, November 1988, 309 pages, US$3.95

The second Drake Maijstral adventure, sequel to The Crown Jewels. Will high society Allowed Burglar Drake be able to steal the most coveted object on an isolated space station before his arch rival, and will either of them get away with it? Humorous, witty, and great fun.

Zahn, Timothy, Dark Force Rising (Star Wars Vol 2)

Bantam hard cover, June 1992 (August 1992 local), 376 pages, A$24.95

A pity about the proofreading (page 72, 3rd paragraph, 2nd line).

Zahn seems to be doing a good job of this continuation of the Star Wars story, as the triumphant rebels find themselves facing the old Empire's most gifted Grand Admiral. Thrawn is aided by an insane dark side Jedi, and has discovered how to negate the Force on his ships. Personal ambition threatens to rip the new Republic apart, before it can be fully formed. And a planet of assasins who have never failed are on the track of Luke.

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Sue Thomason

190 Coach Road, Sleights, Whitby, North Yorks, YO22 5EN UK 13 June 1992

Fascinated by your how-to-run Australia scenario. To an outsider, this is how your comments look:

No trade deficit: the import/export dollar seems like an incredibly sensible idea, as does getting rid of the trade deficit. Somebody must be making pots of money from your deficit, or why didn't this get done years ago?

No inflation: good idea, and I like the idea of no usury.

No budget deficit: Um, this one hurts most the people who can afford it least. UK local councils are currently being forced to balance their budgets to central government determined limits. Councils who over-run (mostly Labour left wing who spend on public services) are being "charge capped" to make up the deficit. Result: a constituency near us, a large rural area, changed hands from Labour to Conservative at the last election. To avoid charge capping, the Conservative council promptly cancelled all free public transport passes for pensioners and disabled people. If government bodies start saying "we can't afford to do this that and the other", comparatively rich people will do it for themselves - run a car, buy books instead of using libraries, pay for private medical treatment. Poorer people will do without, and will thus be forced into leading even more impoverised lives.

No crime: I'd agree with getting rid of victimless crimes, and I'd agree with curtailing advertising, but I think in practice it's sometimes very hard to draw the line between simply providing information about a particular product or service, and actively promoting it. (The knotty censorship issue.) Likewise, I'm an advocate of making sexually explicit material easily available, but "under plain cover" with some kind of widely understood code description covering both sex and violence.

No unemployment: My own personal solution to this would be to pay every adult a Basic Minimum Wage sufficient to cover absolute necessities - a very basic minimum of food, water, clothing, shelter. On top of this, to pay a sliding scale benefit to anyone who could prove they were taking part in activities which genuinely benefitted their community. This would be far simpler to administrate than our present system, at huge savings to the taxpayer.

No outside interference: fair enough, but it seems to me that what would benefit Australia most is not a partner but a network of trade and cultural alliances; don't put all your eggs in one basket.

I'm bothered by Andrew Porter's article, not least because he sees fandom as potentially " a footnote in American literary history". As far as I can tell, fandom is alive and well and living in eastern Europe, if nowhere else - it's not doing so badly in the UK either, nor (judging by Gegenschein and Weberwoman's Wrevenge) in Australia. And anyway, would it be so bad to parallel the Shakers? The movement by that name has disappeared, transformed into 1,000 other things, but Shaker style is still instantly recognisable, well-known, copied, envied.

Mae Strelkov

4501 Palma Sola, Jujuy, Argentina

There's been this discussion of computer fandom replacing what we know. Someone on the fringe of fandom sent me a bunch of computer fanzines, together with their discussion of virtual reality, and so on. I smile a bit and go out and look at my chickens and ducks, kittens and horses ... I look out and think: "Virtual Reality? Computer fandom?" ...

So I read what loccers say about conventions problems and joys, and feel no envy; no wish to be there. Once was enough for me (Washington D.C.'s 1974 Discon). I liked meeting fans there, so to me it was worth the trip. But the actual Convention? Too many people at once are unreachable. I like meeting people just several people at a time. Getting to know them in depth.

Ned Brooks

713 Paul Street, Newport News, Va. 23605 USA 21 July 1992

The price for printing #62 sounds much like I was paying at the Office Warehouse outlet here - they had one of those Xeroxes that would copy both sides, collatre, and staple.

Was your Enicar watch made in Racine, Wisconsin? {{Too subtle for me - my watch is marked Swiss Made. EL}} I never saw an alarm watch as fancy as the one you describe. The Casio AX-1 I have had for 10-15 years will alarm with three tunes and has one alternate clock and two chronometers. And a calendar, of course. It only needs four buttons to control this stuff. I think I paid $50 for it, but you could probably get a similar Casio today for $20-30. It needs a lithium battery occassionally, and I have cleaned it myself, lint built up in the sound outlet. In theory a solid state, liquid crystal watch like this should last forever, as there are no moving parts. I suppose the little dial light might burn out some day. The three tunes are Greensleeves, Dixie and Clemantine.

I don't really see much use in Buck Coulson's idea that unskilled labor could be used to repair the the nation's highways and bridges with no regard for efficiency - how would the traffic get through these projects? Modern highway repair - in theory at least - is done fast with expensive equipment run by competent technicians in order to avoid massive traffic jams. And even low paid unskilled labor is expensive if you have to have a lot of it for a long time to get something done.

Sheryl Birkhead

23629 Woodfield Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20882 USA 20 July 1992

I'm not sure when the overseas Mimosas will be going out (went down to help Dick and Nicki Lynch collate on Saturday) -- but Peggy Ranson did the illos for three articles -- and when I did not have a chance to read the signature -- wondered who had done the nice job on them -- then got a chance to actually look -- very versatile and talented lady ... so get her name right! So, there.

Buck Coulson

2677W-500N, Hartford City, IN 47348 USA 6 August 1992

Chester Cuthbert goes back to the old science fictional idea that machines will mean a future of increasing plenty for everyone. It used to be believed by most people in the industrial nations -- and it worked, for a good many years. Nowadays it doesn't work, and the push for realism in science fiction has resulted in a plethora of dystopias featuring worldwide slums and wars.


Alex Eisenstein (about where you mine mercury?)

Ken Lake has changed plans again, now expects to be in the USA mid 1993. He says he will pick up mail c/o John Bull Stamps Ltd, Box 10.009, GPO Hong Kong round February 1993. He sounded depressed.

Mark Loney writes that my advice did get his computer working - remote diagnostics!

Rachel McGrath-Kerr writes about her visit to London, says she enjoyed the Museum of the Moving Image (but some of the monsters of the '70's were in decline). Asks if I'll buy Death Guard by Philip George Chadwick. {{I've never heard of him or it. EL}}

Bunmi O (in Nigeria) (wants more letters).

Delphyne Joan Woods has moved to 1557 W Fargo Ave #1, Chicago, IL 60626 USA.

PACT Cooperative Ltd, Youth and Experimental Theatre send details of shows, including Quest (sci-fi type, now over), and a new show on virtual reality and computer games (they are also looking for people interested in playwriting, actors, and technical staff). They are at Cnr Sydney Street and Railway Parade, Erskineville, 2043 and on (02) 550 2744.

John Zube sent me an update on how his microfiche re-publishing was going. He continues this worthwhile effort, but has doubts about how much use scanning and CD-ROM might be.

Linda Gerstein and Eli Cohen announce the birth of a son on Feb 18th, Peter Lawrence Cohen. Address 440 West End Avenue, 14E, New York, NY 10024.

jan howard finder is looking for Arthur Upfield books (we have a little list).

Sheryl Birkhead "As you can see (from the illo in Geg 63) I am continuing to play with computer graphics. Such fun and power - but it most certainly (at least not yet) is NOT a time saving device. I do not believe in WYSIWYG - since what I continually see on the monitor is NOT what eventually gets printed."

Cathy Doyle sent email, to see if it arrived.

Cathy Howard complains about too much time at work, and asks how far out of town I live {{about 50 miles}}. "Considering how many of our Congressmen apparently can't balance a check book, I think the hopes of ever getting them to balance the Federal budget are nil."

Andrew Johnson (11 Milray St, Lindfield 2070 416 5571 says he will have a video weekend on 25th and 26th July, and adds "I think it's really funny, the idea of making a city quake in its boots by pointing a WorldCon in its direction."

Lyn McConchie asks how my trip and the Haldeman visit went, and tells how well she did with traveller's cheques on her trip ("Maybe I look more pathetic" she says).

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The centrefold Corflu photos by Geri Sullivan (paper version)

Leah Zeldes and Dick Smith for DUFF

I am Australian agent for Niagara Fall in 1998

A personal journal and science fiction fanzine * Written and published by Eric Lindsay

Gegenschein is published when I have enough material and time to do an issue. Comments should be sent to: Eric Lindsay, 7 Nicoll Avenue, Ryde, NSW 2112 Australia. [Obsolete]

Telephone: BH, Mon-Thu (02) 330 2254 (Uni Technology, Sydney), AH, Mon-Wed (02) 809 4610 AH, Thu and all day Fri, Sat, Sun, (Insulting messages on answering machine at) (047) 51 2258

Electronic Mail: eric at zen maths uts edu au ISSN #0310-9968 Ask Jean about trades, since she keeps the mailing lists.

Copyright * 1992. All rights returned to the contributors upon publication.

Andy Porter's Hugo winning Science Fiction Chronicle is a monthly newsmagazine, essential reading for those interested in the USA and UK SF and fantasy fields.