Gegenschein 78 May 1997

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Comdex Trip November 1996

Thursday 14th November 1996

Arrived in Los Angeles after an uneventful 13 hour flight, during which we had four seats to ourselves due to our Premier frequent flyer status. Jean shoots through immigration on her US passport at the new United customs facility. Takes me 40 minutes to reach the head of the foreigners queue, and twenty seconds to get through the formalities. Couldn't see Bruce Pelz, who had kindly offered to meet us, when we emerged. I searched. Upon returning found him peering in the gate, claiming we were late.

Went shopping with Bruce, mostly for Jean as she had kipped out, and I figured the first thing she would want upon awakening was food. Got sandwich makings. That seemed to work, at least for Jean (I thought it was far too healthy). Mailed quantities of bulk Gegenschein 75 to FAPA, and FLAP. I sure hope they arrive.

LASFS meeting that evening, nomination of directors (I assume the blood comes with the voting). Bruce was selling books, but gentle rain hastens packing. Saw Matthew Tepper, Tom Digby, Robbie Canter, Marty Canter, Laurraine Tutihasi and Mike, Nola Frame Gray and Elver Gray.

I was given a LASFAPA mailing. It was shock to see the membership numbers only about twenty, and only 25 pages in it. I seem to recall a time when it was massive. Maybe everyone has moved to the net?

Afterwards Bruce and I stopped off at Cocos coffee shop, where I had a Santa Fe Melt, which was a turkey ham cheese sandwich with fries, and unlimited Coke. I was impressed. Back at The Towers at about 11 p.m. where we sat around talking. I'm not at all sure I made any sense, but Jean claims that is normal.

Friday 15th November 1996

Up late. Bruce took us to Northridge Fashion Center. No suitable shoes for Jean (the style has been discontinued), no jacket for me. We were tempted by ice cream, but resisted (which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to me). Lunched on turkey, ham, cheese and salad submarine, with great lemonade. I love turkey being so common in the USA. Even though it didn't work as shopping, it was good to take a stroll through the shops after the long flight. I still had kinks in my back from attempting to sleep on the floor of the plane.

Bruce is a bookseller, and I was seeking to update some of my fannish history books, like A Wealth Of Fable. And there are a few books I'd missed, and Bruce knew my tastes pretty well, so a few others got added. Plus presents, and stuff for fannish charities. Lucky I had my cheque book there. My bag didn't fare so well. It got filled.

That occupied the time before Bruce drove us off to meet with Gregory Benford. Bruce had been saying he would wander off to a mall while we talked and collect us afterwards. However Greg mentioned his fancy car could only seat two, so Bruce was quickly persuaded to drive us and stay for dinner.

Although we had a few business items to cover, we spread them through a long dinner. Ted White and Jim Benford as possible writers of an introduction for a progress report. I like the idea of something from Ted, as he was our fan GoH at Aussiecon Two (Ted subsequently provided a neat article, and I'm expecting one from Jim also.)

Greg told us of a book project, the Second Foundation, describing Hari Seldon's life. The novels will be done by Benford, Bear and Brin. That sounds an interesting project. I believe the first is already out, but haven't seen details. I also have an article about that on the Aussiecon web site.

Greg gave us permission to use his Star Trek - SF Lite article from Aparatchik (originally the negative case on ST for the Los Angeles Times). I promptly included it on our web site, with lots of copyright notes.

We looked at the only publicity photos he had, and wondered at the possibility of using lots of different ones each progress report. I think I'll try to find someone whose photos work out to take additional ones.

He thought that Galactic Odyssey had been released on PAL in the UK. We need to check that. He had an article available on that also, and that is now also on the web site.

Greg said he still used Dos, so I'll have to send him a copy of J P Software's 4Dos replacement for

We finished sometime later than Bruce had hoped.

Talked with Elayne after we returned. She advised using a mailing agency to do the progress reports. It cost LACon $30,000 for their five mailings. They also sent the Hugo ballots first class. US letter postage is currently 32 cents, while two ounce printed matter is 53 cents. Mind you, two ounces isn't a lot of paper (I miscalculated the conversion to metric of paper at 70 gsm).

Saturday 16th November 1996

Bruce and Elayne drove us to the airport early, on their way to Disneyland. After some waiting around at the airport, we had a comfortable short flight to Las Vegas, with three seats between us. These Premier seating arrangements often do work. It doesn't help find food at LAX however.

Luggage took some time to clear the system, however the airport visitor pickup area had altered, and it took some searching before we headed in the right direction, across a road. By that time Joyce and Arnie were headed our way.

Despite being busy preparing for Comdex, Joyce and Arnie took us to Celebrity Deli (as usual, the Club sandwich exceeded my appetite), where we solved the problems of both the fannish and mundane worlds.

After a short break, I followed Joyce and Arnie through the local supermarket as they collected party supplies for their monthly party. Amazing they have been doing this for so long. I think Arnie said 63 times. Jean got a bit more rest, and also tried (unsuccessfully) to dial Compuserve via her modem.

The party started around six. I was still writing my entry to the one-shot, and thus missed seeing who arrived first. Woody Bernardi, Tom Springer, Ken Forman, Aileen Forman and lots more.

Also visiting were fans Ron and Linda Bushyager and Bill Cavin, all looking tired from their travel and two hour time zone difference. Linda did things with her computer, not having much more luck than Jean, I gather. I talked with Ron, who looked as harried as ever and Comdex hadn't really started. Jean produced Linda's novels I had located and had Linda autograph them.

No-one went swimming, although I was half expecting someone to fall in the pool. Someone had accidentally dropped some casino chips in the pool, and they were trying to drag them up from the bottom with a pool scoop. If I'd not had film in my camera, I bet someone would have taken a header in the pool. Jean even went in the spa, despite the evening being cool.

We left with Aileen at about 11 p.m. Jean once again had modem problems, possibly related to extension phones.

Sunday 17 November 1996

We arose late, but were all up (with no place to go) by about 9. I had to meet Linda at 2.30 to organise collecting our room, as Linda did all the hotel bookings (which was much easier for us than trying to arrange it from Australia). Comdex hotel rates are prohibitive, and you really need help from someone who understands the system when booking from Australia. It is apparent Australian travel agents have problems during Comdex week.

Jean set off a little after 9 with a friend, taking the luggage in the car. I caught the 217 bus west to Vacation Village, then the 301 north down Las Vegas Blvd. Didn't spot the Imperial Palace initially, but got off only a stop later. The reception area was incredibly crowded, so I beat a retreat.

Ceasar's was nearby, so I finally discovered how to get to the shopping area. Found a Brookstones, with a Noise Buster that Jean will want, even open until 11. However I'm already tired of the noise in the casinos. I did like the idea of the tipplers cane, sold by the Museum Company. Takes apart, has room for a small vial of drink, and a compass in the top to help you find your way home. Jean would disapprove (so I waited until I visited Las Vegas again in March to buy one).

To the Imperial Palace, a quick beer, then found Linda at the reception area. Checked in, with one free night. Jean turned up just then, so we were able to collect the luggage.

We had Press Room party lists by Red Glasses ( and Judith Cushman ( Linda had sent her list also.

Walked to Sands Exhibition Center, then to Las Vegas Convention Center. Both were far too far. No shuttle buses, so after collecting our press kits, we were too late to attend Microsoft's buyout of Cirque du Soleil Mystere at Treasure Island. Linda later told us our invites had made it onto the list, and that it was really good.

We collected VESA mugs in the evening at Ceasar's, but the program was running late. The computer video people can't agree with the TV video people. Maybe we will check next year. They may have a decision by then.

We went to Ballys for the IBM Big Blue toga party - we all looked very silly in our togas. I still don't know what they are advertising. When we were ready to leave in our togas and sandals, we still looked very silly. However the champaign and many varied foods were pretty good. This event was across the way from Ceasars, so we really would have fitted in when we visited there on the way back to our hotel.

Monday 18th November 1996

IBM had demos of sending information through the skin - imagine a handshake updating your PIM!

I tried to cover most of Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), giving a lot of attention to the new Windows CE handhelds. Managed a few minutes in the IBM press room to send off email to home. That was the only day I was able to grab a machine there. It was crowded.

Caught up with Linda and company at Pat Meier's press lunch at Piero's, which made a very convenient meeting spot. The companies exhibiting were usually interesting also.

We again missed the Microsoft Office do at Monte Carlo, but Linda said it was good. Did hit Mitsubishi in Ballys, but were late finding it, and snacked briefly while checking out some neat components (that I didn't understand), and some large LCD and plasma flat displays. 46 inch LCD projection, 46 inch plasma. Flat TVs and video displays are in our future.

The Show Stoppers press party at the MGM Grand was nice. Good range of presentations, decent food, not too crowded. I thought I managed to check of all the displays, but maybe not. Saw Jerry Pournelle there, clutching two gift wrapped bottles of something. Obviously I need to become as well known as he is. He didn't have packages of flyers in a bag, which struck me as a much better system.

Tuesday 19th November 1996

I checked the Sands upper floor in the morning. That was exhausting. Took the collected flyers back to the hotel, and snacked on an icecream while I tried sorting them. Piero's for lunch and catching up with Linda. Then a scan of the Hilton. Never did find some of the companies I wanted to locate. The IrDA material seemed sparse this year. Did manage to locate Psion at LVCC.

After Comdex closed attended the Softbank Comdex party at Flamingo Hilton's second floor Sunset Ballroom. A wide range of great food, but the band was too loud, and there weren't enough seats. Better for eaters than talkers, but very handy if you just wanted some food. No vendors, so no useful information.

Took a taxi to Silicon Northwest, which was enormously crowded, and most of the food was gone or not to my taste. The range of software vendors was great, with interesting products and updates. The crowd made it a little hard to see things.

Afterwards I went to the hotel bar, and talked with other Comdex attendees.

Wednesday 20th November 1996

Checked part of the bottom floor at the Sands, and again dropped the flyers back to the hotel. Then revisited LVCC, and met Linda and company at Peiros. I seem to be covering more territory but seeing less. Found some interesting Linux material at the Sands.

After not finding a free PC at the IBM press room, I noticed Jerry Pournelle headed that way, singing softly to himself. Once again, unlike me, he wasn't loaded down with press kits. And he certainly appeared happier than I was. I like his system.

After Comdex closed we went to the Mirage, watched the white tiger, with its swimming pool, and wandered through their indoor rain forest. Neat place. To the penthouse A floor (one of five) to the Macmillan party. Giant suite, with a three room bathroom alone! Some nice books, but surely hardly sufficient to justify their party. I thought they should have put out more of their books, as they had as many at Peiros as they did here.

Maxtor had a party for media only at the St Thomas Room, with a draw for a 5 gigabyte hard drive as the prize. They were low on food, and set the tablecloth on fire, but otherwise worked ok.

Adaptec lasted until midnight, great party, Beatles imitators called Twist and Shout, very loud, left the crowd jiving. They paid for soda and beer, not cocktails. That was an interesting variation. I revisited a couple of times, just to check how it was going. Got tired of all the blinkies on show attendees, so I wore my 49 LED ten minute cycle blinky. Lots of Japanese wanted to know how to get them.

At Treasure Island, Sandisk lasted until 10, with mixed drinks. They had some nice moves. Saw Eric etc there, but not Linda. Sandisk had digital cameras, and John Wayne and Marilyn Munroe imitators, plus a good bar. Saw the Red Glasses folks there and had a talk with them.

Thursday 21st November 1996

Up late, trying to fit a quart in a pint bag. Checked at the front desk and paid the bill, then we wandered and took photographs. Jean sent me back to the room for more film (buried in an already packed bag), but by the time I caught up with her again it was raining.

Our plane was late, so Jean pushed us onto the first one out with seats. In the rush, I lost my jacket by leaving it on the airport seat. While we made it to our connecting flight at Los Angeles, our luggage did not. Seattle greeted us with snow and 32 degree temperatures, and I was wearing a T shirt, with no coat or pullover. I was not impressed.

Friday 22nd November 1996

Shopping at Northgate with Marilyn (incorrectly listed as Northwest last time) for a replacement coat. I wouldn't have had the patience, so it was really good of Marilyn to help me persist until I got a really nice coat, and a warm pullover as well. Some people are just talented at shopping.

The missing luggage was delivered at about 12:30.

Janice Murray and Alan Rosenthal took me to Microsoft Company Store, the Microsoft Museum, his cubical where he does phone support for about 50 products 4 days a week. Did we talk about Microsoft products? Well, mostly we talked about DUFF (Janice was the successful candidate this time).

There was a snowman at the entrance to Microsoft - it had a pocket protector. The museum had a whiteboard showing "Get Win95 done - conquer the world". Lot of humour there. I don't usually use Microsoft products, so I wasn't there to buy, but it was interesting seeing so many products available at prices like $10 each.

Talk with Cliff, Janice and Alan until Jean and Marilyn return from their own highly successful shopping trip. Jean had lots of clothes to show off. I have no idea how Marilyn gets so good at helping people shop.

We all met Jerry Kaufman and Suzle at Mori, a new Japanese restaurant. Great food, but I was still avoiding seafood as I had an upset stomach (airline food?)

Party continued at Cliff and Marilyn's home until late.

Saturday 23 November 1996

Marilyn drove us off to see Jerry and Suzle's new house, which neither of us had seen. Spectacular views of The Cascades on the way to Cory's house to drop off things. We entertained ourselves at Cory's house by breaking up the ice on the large goldfish pond in the garden. The cats hid inside (smart cats). Cory decided to follow us on the visit.

Suzle showed us a very neat and well organised house, with well formed plans for future enhancements. The fan area was nicely appointed, and a good size. I wish I could say the same of my home. Cory left to do her shopping.

More shopping afterwards, with Suzle joining us. Suzle wanted lunch, so I joined her for slow food at an overwhelmed Burger King. When we joined Jean and Marilyn we discovered they had found a scarf or two. We dropped Suzle back home.

Whitbread Snowball Inn or maybe 74th Street Inn for an early diner. Noisy, crowded, smoky, good reputation, good food.

Party guests started arriving at Cliff and Marilyn's a little after eight. Victor Gonzales, Andy Hooper and Carrie Root, Suzle Tompkins, Amy Thomson and Ed, Eleanor Busby. It sounds as if many mid-list authors are having a hard time now. Seems to be book space only for those who write best sellers, or those who write cheap.

Sunday 24 November 1996

Blue Star pub, at noon. The drink waiter managed to spill a sticky drink on me. I was not amused. The burger with avocado was not all that great, and the fries inferior. However the company was great, and made up for that. Duff nominee Janice Murray had arranged to get Amy Thomson, Jerry and Suzle, Duff nominee Andy Hooper, Carrie Root, Buz and Eleanor Busby, Jon Singer and a never before met friend.

Jon showed off his new porcelain bowl, the first he had made. Marilyn joined the group later. Buz told me authors were having problems selling novels, and blamed much of it on the effects of accountants, bottom lines, and the Thor Power Tool ruling on book inventories.

Rained all the way south to Lacey, where Jean's parents live, so driving was not pleasant.

Monday 25th November 1996

It was fine so we went food shopping for Thanksgiving in the morning. Jean also got a blouse, I got sox (so who was finding laundry short?). I didn't find a decent store to look at PDAs. Neither Future Shop nor Office Depot were great for PDAs, although Office Depot had HP200LX, Zaurus, and a Casio Cassiopia. Like Sears, both had lots of typewriter style personal printing systems.

After lunch, more shopping, I finally got a cheap travel bag at K Mart. Red Lobster for dinner, going there at 4.30 to avoid crowds. More salmon on offer than I can eat. I had clam chowder, a small chicken breast, baked potato with butter and sour cream, garden salad, and Jean selected a nice Covey Run wine. It was great. The decor was interesting old seaside style.

Tuesday 26th November 1996

Made cranberry bread, using honey as a sweetener instead of sugar. It worked pretty well. Of course, we overate.

Wednesday 27th November 1996

Sat around reading.

Despite rain, went to Capital Mall in Olympia in the afternoon. Visited internet cafe and health food and smart food store and collected my email ($3 per half hour), while Jean bought seratonin. The owner said people from Canada and Australia always grab seratonin. Gee, what a surprise!

Thursday 28 November 1996

Jean cooked Thanksgiving turkey. Took much of day. We ate exceedingly well, if unwisely.

Friday 29th November 1996

Off early for the drive to SeaTac airport. Despite leaving at 7:30, there were already people queuing for entry to the sales. I'm told this is the busiest shopping day of the year. Since Thanksgiving is not an Australian holiday, I was surprised at its influence on air travel (don't travel the day before).

We looked through the Red Carpet club at SeaTac. Jean was able to briefly contact Compuserve from their phones. They had comfortable chairs, juice, muffins, a bar (not checked), a credit card operated fax machine, a credit card operated HP laser printer. Looked good for business travel, but I wonder a little about value for money.

The flight to San Francisco was on time! Great views of the city while descending, including the Golden Gate bridge, Oakland bridge, and lots of flat red areas that appeared to be water. The air was really clear, and temperature a balmy 61 when we collected the rental car. Jean managed to contact Alyson by phone, confirming that at least some email had not reached her.

After reaching Alyson's home, we disgorged luggage, and later headed to the Hilton to see how Silicon was going. Not very active at all. We collected a Judy Lazer, a friend of Alyson's and went to Faultline brewing pub for a great (in several senses) dinner.

We returned to Silicon to catch the introduction to the guests. We didn't recognise many of the people.

We talked with Tom Whitmore from Seattle, who was so helpful at the Australia in 1999 party at Orycon in 1995, providing home made cider. I hadn't realised he was also with A Change of Hobbit. Like many US fans, he was upset with the membership rates for Aussiecon Three. I think we need to give some more publicity to the high cost factors in a large Australian convention.

Talked with David Bratman, who was railing about the manner in which his computer system became obsolete because of new versions of programs. I gave what I thought was helpful advice on alleviating this, but I'm not sure he was sufficiently into computers to take advantage of what I was saying.

Jean was falling asleep, and the party we were at didn't offer much conversation, so we returned to Alyson's home. As usual, I chatted with Alyson until 1 a.m.

Saturday 30th November 1996

Alyson wanted to get a CD-Rom for her computer, so I got to pull it apart. Jean drove us to Halted Specialties, where I got a PCMCIA card adaptor for $39.99. They had CD-Roms, but the IDE interface cards left something to be desired (software and manuals, for instance).

We went on to Frys. They did have a package that looked like it would do the job, albeit at a slightly higher price. I guess I get to fit it on Sunday.

Continued to Silicon, where I had a chat with Kevin Standlee, who also introduced his wife.

About four we headed off to Rich and Linda McAllister's place for a party. They had a great dinner group, with lots of conversation. With all the food that did appear, I didn't really appreciate that the problem they had with their oven had stopped them completing cooking the turkey. The bird eventually went off to a more distant oven for final cooking. It was a great dinner despite that.

Doug Faunt and Lyn Paleo, Alyson, Paula Butler and Ctein, Rich Coad and Stacy Scott attended.

Ctein told me about selling his photos via the web, which was interesting. He also enthused about using IBM's voice type on OS/2 Warp. Linda talked with me about network computers. Saw David Bratman again.

Sunday 1st December 1996

Upon arising I did install Alyson's new CD-Rom, although not without some minor complications. Alyson had a few people over for brunch, so I got to agree they should attend Aussiecon, and talk techie after we ate turkey (see Robert Greene's loc). I think that was the last fannish event. We visited Jean's sister and stayed overnight catching up on news. On the Monday, we went shopping (separately), and connected again to visit Donya White and Alan Baum before heading to the airport and the long flight home.

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Editorial Natter

I hope this issue will mostly be mailed with a bunch of other issues. I mailed Geg 75 within Australia before Xmas, and handed out some copies in the USA in November. The rest of them sat in a pile. Geg 76 was handed out to some US fans in February, but never mailed. Geg 77 was mostly copied in late April, but never mailed. Obviously, I also had sufficient material on hand to do Geg 78 fairly soon thereafter. And it looks like sitting in a pile, never mailed. We do seem to have a trend here. I blame it all on John Bangsund, who did that a lot. What I'm hoping is that having only one set of labels to do, and one set of enveloping, will reduce the time taken to the point where I'll (eventually) mail them out.

This is not the only thing I should mail out. I still need to find some reasonably affordable way to send out the Aussiecon Progress report (once I complete it). It is not a problem in Australia, but the US mailing looks like a problem, as present choices are timely or affordable, but not both.

More Travel Diversions

I had over 200 hours leave owing by February 1997, so I took another trip. In fact, I'm updating these notes while sitting at Joe and Gay Haldeman's dining table. Report next issue, I guess.

Aussiecon Three

My time seems to have been devoted to doing things for Aussiecon Three for much of the year. As you can imagine, we are very short of volunteers in some areas, especially those involving day to day bookwork that doesn't have the fannish kudos of a more visible job at the con. So far we don't even have a volunteer to look after the volunteers. I'll do the budget projections and spreadsheets, and scream a lot if anyone suggests spending money. I seem to recall Christine Ashby copping a lot of flack in that position last time. I also do the web site, so if you want the low down on anything in Aussiecon, check my web site first.

Computer Alert

Last year I got new computer gear. I decided I wasn't going to step on the merry go round of upgrading my home computer to run Windows 95, but instead would improve my peripherals. Inconveniently close to Xmas, I got a great deal on a 17 inch DEC (Sony Trinitron) monitor to replace my failing 12 inch TVM display, so I can now see the (to me, giant) display from my easy chair. Of course, I can't use a mouse from there, which is another reason to avoid Windows.

I found a replacement case with room for my SCSI CD-Rom, my el cheapo tape backup, my removable hard drive, my PCMCIA card adaptor and my hand scanner. Now if I could just find enough serial ports to run the X-10 house light controller, the Psion file transfer utility, the Twiddler chorded keyboard, the Basic Stamp embedded controller download facility, a modem, and a mouse (another reason to avoid Windows) ...

Earlier I replaced my decade old dot matrix printer with a new Hewlett Packard 5MP Postscript laser printer (mind you, a newer model is already out). I also started using freeware Postscript routines for doing formatting of my fanzines and letters, rather than using a word processor, so I am off the WP upgrade treadmill. Indeed, I am even independent of any model or type of computer.

For travel and walking around use, I have a tiny Psion 3c pocket computer (it really can fit in a shirt pocket), which can beam printouts by infrared to my printer. I have done a bunch of web pages on various palmtop computers.


My Ozwriter web page project for Aussiecon Three is coming along slowly, with many Australian SF authors contributing biographies to what I hope will eventually be a reasonably complete coverage of all Oz SF writers. Corrections, additions, and suggestions of favourite Australian writers to be added would be most welcome. Addresses and contact details for Australian SF writers would be welcome.

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Clean it out

Cleaning out my mother's home has occupied an enormous heap of what was formerly laughingly called my `free time'. The sheer quantity of material was staggering, especially when the staggering was to somewhere to dispose of it. And, as far as I could tell, the majority of it has relatively little value to anyone else.

I have an auctioneer visiting soon, to tell me whether it is worthwhile to attempt to auction off the things that were not obviously junk or broken. I've taken advantage of this to take considerable quantities of `stuff' from my place over there to add to the potential sale. This hasn't helped me find time to get things done, on those increasingly rare instances when I do get home. In the first ten days I was back from the USA, for example, I was home fewer than three hours.

As I mentioned elsewhere, evidence of this accumulating mania scared me, since the contents of my own home clearly show I share the same trait. My place is full of `generic stuff', things I figured I should keep, just in case. Pretty much all of them are now going out.

Sell it off

I'll be attempting to sell off or give away to fannish causes most of my book, magazine, music and fanzine collections. If you might be interested ask to be put on the mailing list (for when I catalog the stuff), and indicate which area interests you. If a fan fund or non-profit collection is interested in donations, contact me.

Working too long

Once again I find myself working excessively long hours. Martin, our indispensable software guru these past ten years, left to take up a much better paying job. It also sounds as if it may be lots more interesting than coping with inadequate budgets, too many machines, and insufficient time to do ever increasing amounts of work with no more staff.

For some strange reason, I couldn't find a Unix system administrator, Novell administrator, and NT Server authority, with a strong background in mathematics and computer graphics, and experience in designing networks. At least, not to work for considerably less than the industry pay level for any one of those jobs.

I did find Gordon Lingard between jobs. Gordon may be known to many of the longer term Australian fans, as he was active some years ago. He has the mathematics and computer graphics background, and was just finishing his Masters. So Gordon is now learning NT Server, and every now and then I toss him something on networking, to go with the seven or eight thousand pages of NT material he has piled on his desk. What we need is the zero administration kit Microsoft promise as an alternative to the Network Computer. The trouble is, we needed it in January. So we have a kluged equivalent instead. Gordon will be with us for six months, and I hope he will stay longer. Unfortunately, the sensible thing for him to do is find a better paying job instead.

This leaves me to do all the rest. At least until I toss the job in. The way I feel at the moment, that won't be long. My usual work had expanded by a factor of five since I took the job. Adding Unix administration and Novell administration (admittedly I did little bits of them from time to time in any case) just makes things impossible.

And with that cheerful thought, I'll close this fanzine.

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New Books

Anderson, Kevin J, StarWars Darksaber

Bantam (Transworld), November 1996 (Jan 1997), 430pp, A$10.95

Nicely done adventure for StarWars enthusiasts. Luke and his love Callista seek to restore her former Jedi powers by revisiting places where the spirits of dead Jedi have appeared. Darga the Hutt has found the engineer who built the DeathStar, and is attempting to build another. Admiral Daala is reuniting the fragments of the Empire and plans an all out attack, aided by Pelleaon, second in command to the defeated Grand Admiral Thrawn. Lots of plot lines, reasonably well drawn together.

If you enjoy good 1930's style space opera, StarWars novels by known SF authors like Anderson, Allan, Zahn and others provide just that. There is little room to grow, and the characters rarely learn much, but the books are fine for light entertainment, just like the films. Well, come to think of it, I'd rate the films somewhat higher, because characters were permitted to develop more in the films.

Star Wars - Tales of the Bounty Hunters edited by Kevin J Anderson

Bantam (Transworld), Dec 1996 (Feb 1997), 339pp, US$5.99 A$11.95

Stories by Kevin Anderson, Dave Wolverton, Kathy Tyers, M Shayne Bell and Daniel Keys Moran. A lot more fun than the usual SW novels, as you can actually get some new material in stories of minor characters.

Mathemagics by Margaret Ball

Baen, December 1996, 341pp, US$5.99

A "Chicks in Chainmail" novel, and very funny it is too. A fantasy set on "The Planet of the Paper Pushers" (our world), where a bold but underemployed barbarian swordswoman (from elsewhere) is trying to fit in as a normal housewife. However a strong sword arm and combat training just doesn't seem the right way to go at a PTA meeting, even if it works fine when some teenage hoodlums interfer. Some really priceless observations here. I must admit that Jean seemed to enjoy it more than I did - it was embarrassing to listen to her snigger about it on public transport. The chapter numbers are of particular note - when you solve the equation, you find the chapter number.

Patton's Spaceship by John Barnes

Harper Prism, January 1997, 325pp, US$5.99

War across a million worlds, says the blurb. The baddies are just outright bad, with no real motive excep0t to rule. The goodies are a timeline that successfully fought off the energy intensive invasion. The hero lost family to the minions of the baddies, part of a terrorist attack. He trains and becomes a bodyguard, and is almost accidentally recruited into the goodies. Fast paced, with something of the feel of Heinlein's Glory Road in some of the technology. As a stand alone novel this is a real page turner, and great fun. However, compared to the sort of subtle work of characterisation Barnes can do, it simply doesn't rate. Good read, but you wouldn't keep a copy unless you were a completist.

The Transmigration of Souls by William Barton

Aspect, January 1996, 411pp, US$5.50

A weird book. A chase across multiple worlds through matter transmitter gates, when both Arab and Chinese astronauts enter a deserted moon base over a hundred years hence. Their pursuers are some of the Americans who closed the base over a hundred years before, and retreated to Fortress America. What frightened the Americans enough to give up the gateways, when it had provided them with an invulnerable shield, androids and immortality.

Headcrash by Bruce Bethke

Warner, Sept 1995, 344pp, US$5.50

Reads like Bruce Sterling on acid at times. Near future virtual reality scenes, and some really nasty sarcastic comments about corporate ethics. Also debunks a lot of cybercrap, as unlike some cyber authors, this one obviously knows exactly what he is writing about. It will date fairly rapidly, but at the moment is a great read.

Brightness Reef by David Brin

Bantam, November 1996, 659pp, US$6.50

First in a new Uplift trilogy, and not at all complete in itself, although part of the situation is resolved by the end of the book. This gives a very slow introduction to the six races illegally inhabiting the planet Jijo. The planet was supposed to remain uninhabited for millions of years, however it is well hidden from casual observation, so six different groups landed on it over a period of thousands of years, destroyed their spaceships, and then their descendents tried to set up a society such that no trace of their interference would remain if a galactic inspection team arrived.

However with six alien races, nothing is ever really what it seems. A well realised set of aliens, but perhaps too ambitious? And when a ship arrives, just who does the ship serve?

Dreamweaver's Dilemma by Lois McMaster Bujold

NESFA, 1996, 250pp, US$19.95

Volume edited by Suford Lewis, honouring the well liked 1996 Boskone GoH. Includes two never before published novellas, three uncollected short stories, four essays. Several interviews and many notes. Leads off with a fine Sherlock Holmes story, much to my taste. Another fine NESFA publication.

Under a Killing Moon by Aaron Conners

Prima (Macmillan), Nov 1996, 328pp, A$11.95

Based on the Access interactive video computer game. This was a neat detective mystery story, with all the traditional wisecrack dialogue you expect, done in a very consistent manner. It reminded me inescapably of '40's films, and I enjoyed it as such. Unfortunately, it is set in the 2040's, and the science fiction elements are simply unbelievable crap. Why people who are totally ignorant of what they are writing attempt to do science fiction escapes me. This would have worked perfectly well as a mystery, and the SF elements detracted from the story because they were so badly done.

X-Com by Diane Duane

Prima (Transworld), 1996, 253pp, US$5.99

Less than half the story, so there will be sequels . Marines fight alien abductions in secret. This reads like the old UFO TV series, and is not much better. A MicroProse game? The author makes a brave attempt at adding interest to the characters, but is defeated by the inherent silliness of the premise.

Rewind by Terry England

AvoNova, February 1997, 341pp, US$5.99

Seventeen adults somehow have their bodies restored to the condition and size of their nine year old selves. The aliens promptly leave. The story concerns the reaction of various groups of society to these child-like adults, and how repressive we are to children. Religion and politics get several kicks, while science is shown in a reasonably good light. Interestingly written speculation.

Firestar by Michael Flynn

Tor, March 1997, 885pp, US$6.99

The history of a future in which a rich determined woman warps her industrial empire and a whole segment of society to create the infrastructure to open space to industrial use. This one is a great read.

The Beacon by Valerie J Freireich

ROC, October 1996, 349pp, US$5.99

A few apparently human travellers visit Earth from an gigantic spaceship that has entered the Solar System and is staying out beyond Jupiter. The national groups on Earth are united by their use of the Assembly, a communication system for which remote neural connection is possible. Much legal judgement is done by the Open Court, wherein the investigator does a dump of his mind periodically to the Assembly, thus ensuring everyone on Earth can see precisely how judgement was made. A judge of the Open Court investigates the travellers, in competition with an agent of the Adjusters, rulers of the Assembly.

Various diseases are rampant in this age, yet no attempt is made to quarantine the travellers. The Adjuster's agent can not be seen on the Assembly, and yet people still place trust in the system. The origin of the Assembly is unknown to the populace.

This has some excellent characterisation, very good potential for conflict based on those characterisation, and some very interesting ideas. However it seems highly illogical.

People of the Lightning by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W Michael Gear

Pan Macmillan, Nov 1996 (Jan 1997), 584pp US$6.99 A$14.95

Tale of conflict in prehistoric Florida Indian tribe, with shamanism. I think it unlikely this is as historically accurate as the blurbs claim, but it isn't badly written (melodramatic).

Dark Moon by David Gemmell

Bantam Transworld, Dec 1996, 319pp, A$19.95 tpb

Myth and magic, as three heroes face an invincible immortal horde who wish to rid the world of humans, and have the muscle to do it. Well written fantasy, in which some sympathetic characters get killed. At least it isn't part of a trilogy.

The Legend of Deathwalker by David Gemmell

Corgi Transworld, Dec 1996, 413pp, A$12.95

Warrior and mystic seek the secret of the Jewels, etc. Military fantasy.

Wildside by Steven Gould

Tor, Jan 1997, 316pp, US$5.99

Author of Jumper. Charlie Newall recruits a group of eighteen year old friends and attempts to exploit a tunnel leading to a parallel earth. There are dangers from animals in the untamed wilderness. There will be even more dangers on the tame side, when the authorities learn about the wildside.

Gould writes juveniles that are as good as anything Heinlein did. A great adventure.

Convergence by Sharon Green

AvoNova (Transworld), February 1997(Nov 1996), 442pp, US$5.99 A$11.95

Book one of The Blending. Follows five people as they are tested for (perhaps) high position due to their magic powers. Two hundred pages of testing later (a tribute to the cut and paste powers of word processing, as we repeat each event five time from five different viewpoints), we find that they have to take more tests (and that perhaps the government of nobles isn't there to help you). While the writing isn't bad, there seems no reason for this series to exist beyond that of separating you from your beer money.

Hambly, Barbara, Children of the Jedi

Bantam (Transworld), Sept 1996, 409pp, A$10.95 pb

Takes the Star Wars characters on a wild adventure searching for the long lost children, hidden by an earlier generation of Jedi Knights to escape the Emperor. Leia, Han Solo and Chewbacca search an ancient stronghold, and dodge remnants of the Empire with their own plans. Luke is drawn to a long lost automated dreadnought, Eye of Palpatine, as it is about to complete a decade old task of destruction that had already lured and destroyed one Jedi Knight.

Barbara Hambley is an excellent inventive writer in her own right, and seems to me to handle the characters and the action at exactly the correct level for Star Wars enthusiasts.

The Reality Disfunction by Peter F Hamilton

Macmillan, November 1996, 955pp, A$24.95 tpb

I find it hard to believe a novel can contain so much, and still end up being only the first part of a longer story. At least several story ideas complete in this part. A realistic future, some 600 years hence, but with very human problems and an impossible enemy whose nature is not known. I've enjoyed the work of this author, but at close to a thousand pages, I also want a bloody conclusion (before SF turns completely into crap fantasy trilogies).

Requiem of Stars by Tracy Hickman

Bantam Transworld, June 1996, 376pp, A$12.95

Fantasy author attempts SF. Should either stick to fantasy, or write sea stories. This reads like utter crap. Didn't finish it. First in a series.

Paths to Otherwhere by James P Hogan

Baen, February 1997, 405pp, US$5.99

Scientists follow the multi-world, and learn to tune in alternative universes in a Manhattan style project, in a world even more paranoid than our own. The protagonists hope to escape to a better world, having decided they can't sufficiently change this one. As usual, reasonably well done, but the characters are still cardboard (and Hogan tries so hard to avoid that), however since the ideas don't kick sand in your face the way his first few novels did, they appear less interesting. It is a real pity.

House of Tribes by Garry Killworth

Corgi (Transworld), Dec 1996, 430pp, A$12.95

Fantasy with mice.

Shadow Moon by George Lucas and Chris Claremont

Bantam (Transworld), Oct 1996, 452pp, US$5.99 A$12.95

Epic fantasy saga of magic and mayhem, but this time the Princess is a bad tempered brat. Based on the movie Willow. It had some very nice scenes at the beginning, but by the time I was half way through, I had sunk into total apathy, and couldn't care what happened to the characters. First in the Shadow War trilogy.

Shadow Dawn by George Lucas and Chris Claremont

Bantam (Transworld), January 1997 (March), 415pp, US$22.99 A$34.95

Sequel, again with some wonderfully written evocative scenes, but I can't get into it at all. The brat is no longer as brattish in adversity. Second in Shadow War. Who cares?

Fairyland by Paul J McAuley

Avon (Transworld), January 1997, 360pp, A$19.95 tpb

Terminally strange variation on nanotech and bioengineering. I'll have to re-read it before reviewing it. A strange and interesting writer.

Pasquale's Angel by Paul J McAuley

AvoNova, March 1997, 374pp, US$5.99

An alternate history in which Leonardo's devices let Florence become a regional power, complete with dark satanic steam mills. A young artist becomes involved in a murder mystery that strikes at the powers behind the throne. Entertaining reading.

Black Horses for the King by Anne McCaffrey

Doubleday (Transworld), Sept 1996, 29pp, A$19.95

First historical novel from this long time SF writer. Arthurian tale for young adults. I was prepared to dislike this. Instead, I found a tale far distant from the inaccuracies of Hollywood, with what seemed to me considerable attention to accuracy in history, naming conventions (use of terms derived from Latin), and an enormous mass of detail of horse lore (not that I'd know the difference), plus interesting speculations on the importance of horseshoes. I thought this an excellent work, uplifting, and well suited to the intended audience.

Freedom's Choice by Anne McCaffrey

Bantam (Transworld), April 1997, 304pp, A$34.95

Second in the Catteni sequence. The now organised castaway slave group plot to capture a Catteni scout ship. The controllers of the Catteni, the Eosi, take a hand, and so do the Farmers who organised the planet Botany. I enjoyed this more than the first, however I must point out that Tom Godwin's The Survivors (Space Prison) did it first (and in my opinion, did it better. Also the plotting mystery controllers within controllers was old when E E Smith devised Arisia and Endore.

The Fall of Sirius by Wil McCarthy

Roc, Sept 1996, 236pp, US$5.50

Two thousand years after the Waisters destroy the Sirius system and its billions of inhabitants, a handful of survivors in suspended animation are revived. The society that revived them are humans, but humans attempting to be Waisters, splits into groups of six specialised being. If they can understand the Waisters, perhaps they can have a meaningful communication with them. And time is short, for the Waisters are returning. Sequel to Aggressor Six. Lots of interplay between characters.

Red Star Rising by Anne McCaffrey

Bantam (Transworld), April 1997, 335pp, A$21.95 TPB

Two hundred or so years after the landing on Pern, the dragons are established, as are the Weyrs. However the old Earth technology is failing, and a Lord Holder does not believe Thread will fall again. Tells some of the transition to the world of Pern beloved by so many readers of the earliest Pern novels. Teaching in transition, the struggles of an artist, the struggle against a greedy and unscrupulous Lord Holder, trying to find ways to ensure the inhabitants of Pern keep watching the skies. Seems to me to be written with as much style and skill as any of the earliest Pern novels. Pern enthusiasts should enjoy this novel.

Ancient Shores by Jack McDevitt

Harper Prism, 1996, 377pp, US$5.99

McDevitt does slow paced, character driven, well written, realistic novels, and this continues the pattern with another splendid read. A farmer finds a perfectly preserved sailing boat in a Dakota wheat field. Even the sails are intact ... yet it had sailed the inland sea ten thousand years ago. Buy anything this author writes.

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

Corgi (Transworld), January 1997, 381pp, A$11.95

Another Diskworld novel, featuring Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, who are missing the third witch. A likely candidate, innocent young Agnes Nitt, had unaccountably left for Ankh-Morpork, to join the Opera. Granny decides she and Nanny will take the long coach trip to town (itself a saga, especially for the hapless coachman ... and the paying passengers) to collect the unpaid royalties on Nanny's book, The Joye of Snacks (mind you, some of the recipes were a little ... risque).

Had they not become involved in the Phantom ... I mean, the Ghost of the Opera ... all might have been relatively straightforward (given the witches, that suggestion is highly unlikely, but you never know). More fun than A Night at the Opera (the Marx Brothers version). Incidentally, the scene with Death and the swan song is priceless (except to the swan). Nothing to do with the plot, but then, what is?

American Gothic Family by W T Quick

Corgi (Transworld), March 1997, 252pp, A$11.95

Prequel to the US TV show of similar title, showing the path by which Lucas Buck became what he is. Quick has proven an interesting writer in his previous works, and seems to me to do a good job of this, although it is really aimed at the TV viewer. I haven't seen the show.

A Dog Called Demolition, by Robert Rankin

Corgi (Transworld), January 1997, 318pp, A$12.95

Nostradamus Ate My Hamster, by Robert Rankin

Doubleday (Transworld), December 1996, 253pp, A$29.95

Surreal and to my mind apparently pointless meandering, dropping trivial mentions of pop culture and film heros of the past few decades. I believe it is intended to be funny. I could easily live without ever seeing anything ever written by this author. Mind you, the full colour inside cover advertisement, recommending it as "cult fiction for lateral drinkers" is probably totally accurate.

Star Wars - The New Rebellion by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Bantam (Transworld), Dec 1996 (Feb 1997), 383pp, US$22.95 A$34.95

The inhabitants of a planet all die. A bomb in the Senate kills many leaders. Han and Chewbacca looking through old and dangerous stamping grounds for the origin of the plot. And yet another dark Jedi causing death and destruction. Fast paced, rather unlikely. Like most Star Wars novels, this is much more a fantasy than an SF piece.

The Fires of Coventry by Rick Shelley

Ace, Nov 1996, 312pp, US$5.99

Independent sequel to The Buchanan Campaign, it is military tactics and follows a future marine squad through a campaign. Bit low key, and in the end, nothing is resolved, because winning a battle means nothing in economic warfare. There was no reason for this to be presented as SF. It is a straight military action novel, and the SF elements are entirely window dressing.

The Krytos Trap by Michael A Stackpole

Bantam (Transworld), Dec 1996, 355pp, A$10.95 US$5.99

Third in the Star Wars X Wing series. This one concentrates more on a court martial, a pilot missing in action, and Imperial plots. I thought it read somewhat better than the first two novels. This may be because fewer silly space battles were depicted, and thus I wasn't as offended by WW1 flight antics, and the repeal of the laws of physics in the Star Wars universe.

Worldwar: Upsetting the Balance by Harry Turtledove

Delrey, Dec 1996, 530pp, US$6.99

Third in this interesting alternative military history series about an alien invasion fleet which arrives right in the middle of WWII. The aliens have a long technology lead (100,000 years), but are rather slow at making technical advances. Their initial landing led them to expect knights on horseback, so they find the conquest a lot harder than expected, despite their technology. Lots of individual tales are followed, and Turtledove isn't afraid to let characters develop and die.

The White Papers by James White

NESFA, 1996, 395pp, US$25

Editors Mark Olson and Bruce Pelz have put together a fine set of works from LACon III GoH James White. It includes four Sector General stories, some unpublished work, Hugo nominated stories, and nine fannish articles, plus notes. It forms an excellent tribute, one I'm pleased to have on my shelf. Specialist press publications like NESFA have been keeping fine SF stories in print for a long time now. I hope they can continue the tradition of honouring GoHs, whether for Boskone or Worldcons.

The Disinherited by Steve White

Baen, Nov 1993, 266pp, US$4.99

Military space opera by co-author of Insurrection and Crusade, much like the works of co-author David Weber, but perhaps with a little less swash with the buckle. Wasn't bad, but I doubt I'll seek out the two sequels.

Map of Power by Tess Williams

Arrow (Random House), 1996, 506pp, A$14.95

First novel by an author who has just completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of WA. I haven't had time to read it yet, but the author is interesting and argumentative, and I've had good reports of the novel, so I wanted to mention it exists.

Remake by Connie Willis

Bantam, Feb 1996, 140pp, US$5.99

Slim but exceedingly entertaining and humourous tale of moviemaking, when you just hire a hackate to patch together scenes from the past and changes the faces and action to match what you want. Fast talking, substance abusing tale of true love, love unrequited, and true lust. Very funny (even if I didn't catch all the movie references).

Conquerors' Legacy by Timothy Zahn

Bantam (Transworld), October 1996, 486pp, A$12.95

Conclusion to this trilogy, in which the alien Zhirrzh and Earth are on course to a war, over a mistake. A handful of individuals on both sides have the clues to what happened, but will they understand the problem in time? If they do, can war be averted?

Three volumes to come to a conclusion, even with some nicely drawn aliens and a single neat (but unconvincing) idea? I wasn't impressed.

Star Trek: First Contact

A Borg ship invades, and Piccard and the Enterprise F are posted away from the battle for Earth because the Fleet don't trust him against the Borg. After the fleet gets into trouble, Piccard comes to the rescue. The defeated Borg send a small ship section back through time to change history (the invention of the warp drive), and the Enterprise follows.

We get a story of the eccentric inventor of the warp drive, with some nice humourous touches. We get invasion of Enterprise by the Borg. While this had great special effects, and I enjoyed watching it, it really is simply an expanded two track version of the TV show.

Continuity with the series was poor (the original appearance of the warp had the inventor stranded in another solar system on the first flight). As usual with all recent Star Trek, they use technology as if it were magic, and simply invent a new unbelievable explanation in technobabble each time they have a problem. This almost totally removes all dramatic tension, and all believability. It is a pity, when this was once the best produced TV SF, and used some excellent writers. Now they simply bottom feed on their own corpse.

Top of Page


Peter E Presford

3 Tram Lane, Buckley, Flintshire , Nth Wales 16 June 1996

85% of my stuff is now in other directions.

Thank goodness for your book reviews. I look at names in local bookshops, and don't seem to know any!

Carolyn Doyle and Dave Rowe

report on the fan fund to bring Roy and Eleen Tackett to Rivercon, where Joel Zakem and others provided transportation. Lots of Flap people, like Gary Grady, Dave Locke, Bill Bowers, Bob Tucker, Nancy Tucker Shaw were there, while Jackie Causgrove, Dave Locke, Roger Sims, and Bill Bowers visited with the Tacketts in Cincinnati.

Dave and Carolyn say "We're making plans for our trip to Australia in 1999. All we know so far is that we want to see the Barrier Reef (and maybe snorkel) ... and visit New Zealand."

James Allan

I wonder what your dream of Aussiecon Three is? I was interested to read your reply to Edwina Harvey in Geg 75. I don't think Worldcons are primarily run for the people who vote for site selection. I think they are run for the people who buy memberships. Multiverse 2 in Melbourne was run by fan clubs, who told their members, and anyone else who would take notice, of the con. Sure we only got 270 odd people attending, but I was happy with the con.

David L Russell

196 Russell St, Dennington Vic 3280 5 December 1996

I'd do the usual what does the fanzine title mean but Kim Huett has sent me a dozen or so of his duplicate copies of some of the earlier Geg issues so I already know.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass on collecting the zine electronically since I'm without a computer. The lean, mean paper version will just have to suffice.

Your travel writing is the most enjoyable part of the zine. To a fan such as myself who is unlikely to travel overseas your convention trip reports allow me the vicarious thrill of os travel.

Even the relentless search for computer stuff is made interesting by your writing. {{Steady on now, don't get the other fans suspicious. EL}}

You must be very proud that Aussiecon Three is a reality. After all your tireless bid promoting, you should feel justified that your work for Australia in 1999 was partly responsible for the bid being successful. Well done and congratulations.

{{Now that we have won, I truly wonder if it was the right thing to do. Of course, I was high when I started bidding. Given a Worldcon is at least five times the size of our largest Australian con, and that every other Australian Worldcon chair has advised against bidding, and that our past worldcon committees disintegrated into acrimony, maybe it wasn't such a good idea. Jean and I always said bidding was fun ... but we never moved on to considering the effects of victory. EL}}

In Greg Hills' letter where he lists a few of the "100s of reasons to vote for Australia in 99" from Taras Wolansky's Glasgow report in Fosfax 178 there are the words ... Gian Leams ... is this a typo or simply something I haven't come across yet? {{Giant Clams ...? EL}}

I plan on sealing the envelope enclosing this letter with some newly purchased sealing wax. {{OK fans, where can I find a seal for David? While in the USA I noticed many companies selling letter seals and sealing wax, but that didn't seem common in Australia. EL}}

George Flynn

PO Box 1069, Kendall Sq Stn, Cambridge MA 02142 USA 24 March 1997

[re Geg 76] Interesting thoughts on Worldcon GoHs, and I'll pass them along to the Boston in 2001 committee. One quibble: You write that "fan fund winners are considered guests of a Worldcon." Well, there are guests and Guests. The fan fund winners do not get into the official list of Worldcon GoHs. {{True, I should instead have noted funding their room, providing a fan fund panel, and auction. EL}}

You may have found The Magnificent Wilf familiar because much of it is a rewrite of stories that appeared in Galaxy in the late '50's and early '60's. There are at least "Who Dares a Bulbar Eat?", "Rex and Mr. Rejilla", and "Faithful Wilf". I haven't compared texts to see how much rewriting there's been, but certainly the plots seem the same.

Boskone still doesn't have a masquerade (nor, given the available facilities, could it without dropping some other function). For whatever it's worth, recent Boskones have had a featured Filker.


Harry Andruschak complains his blood pressure pills left him drowsy at Corflu, and that he is off the Internet. Seems people are telling him his 486/66 is hopelessly obsolete for Internet access (not true). He brags about how well it is set up for games (633,936 free, which is pretty impressive). He plans a trip to Antarctica in November.

Al Fitzpatrick sends his annual hand written Xmas letter. I'm not up to transcribing it, but I always enjoy hearing of his year. He complains of being down to a book a week, due to working the more active day shift rather than the night shift he prefers. He talks of collecting trading cards, and a visit to Disney World.

Joe and Gay Haldeman report The Forever War has sold to Boss Films. A short story collection None So Blind come out in hardcover last May, paperback in February 1997. 1968 will see paperback in July. The Forever War will be re-released in paperback in an "author's approved edition" in August, and Forever Peace (unrelated, title may change), Joe's latest novel, will be out in September.

Murray Moore

murray.moore at encode com Sun, 23 Jun 1996
377 Manly Street, Midland, Ontario L4R 3E2 Canada

This is catch-up-to-being-close-to-being-caught-up with my locs day. Bill Danner's Stefantasy and Alan Stewart's Thyme preceded this loc on Gegenschein. Stefantasy to Gegenschein stretches across decades of fandom and of technology, as Bill sets the type for Stef by hand and prints it on a 100-year-old printing press.

Reading Gegenschein 73 and 74 is especially relaxing after seeing two bang-bang movies on consecutive evenings, "The Rock" yesterday evening and "Eraser" this evening.

My wife, Mary Ellen, is away five days of the week for 12 weeks taking a college course. This situation, nearing its end, until the fall and another 12 weeks, means, among other consequences, that my movie-going is constricted.

Mary Ellen didn't come home last weekend, staying for a field trip. On our 16th wedding anniversary my wife was 100 miles distant, the computer mouse was not working, the cat was peeing in the basement other than in the sand box--not that bad, the basement floor is bare cement-- and our older son, Russell, had chicken pox.

The connection with Gegenschein is, I enjoy vicariously travelling the world with a fan for whom I infer an unfunctional mouse would be a problem so easily solvable as to be inconsequential.

I know of Harlan Ellison from reading his fiction and non-fiction and seeing him interviewed on television. He reminds me of a local man, a self-appointed watchdog of local politicians. This local man allies himself with a likeminded person, until the inevitable break because none of his allies are perfect.

Ellison's inevitable blowback to any criticism, from no matter how obscure a source, seems to me --take your pick-- a large, or fragile, ego, covered by a very thin skin.

Ellison is indisputably the greatest living personality and entertainer, as well as a very fine writer, in a field replete with very fine writers. The inevitable collected letters will be loads of fun.

Body surfing in the fannish sea,

Michael Kube-McDowell

73740.15 at CompuServe COM Fri Jul 26 1996

This one-size-fits-all letter is going to everyone who's written to me about Star Wars or "The Black Fleet Crisis" in recent months. I apologize in advance for making you eat spam, but I hope you'll be understanding when you hear why I've fallen so far behind on answering my E-mail (some of you have seen months pass with no response).

The reason: the last sixteen months have been the most hectic and most intense sixteen months of my life. Not only did I write all three "Black Fleet" novels in that span, but my wife and I also moved into our first house _and_ we added two babies (a girl, now 16 months old, and a boy, now two months old) to the family. In short, I've had my hands full, and then some. [g]

The good news: I turned in the 110,000-word manuscript for Tyrant's Test, the third Black Fleet book, earlier this week. That means this mad marathon is now over. I can start trying to remember what I did when I wasn't writing twelve hours a day, and begin catching up on the thousand and one things I've had to neglect. Such as your mail--

I want you to know that I appreciated every letter I received--even from those of you who wrote to chide me over some aspect of the tale or correct me on some detail of Star Wars lore. It's great to have a chance to write for such a passionate, enthusiastic readership--and I'm especially grateful for all the kind words which you sent my way. It's been very heartening, and your enthusiasm definitely helped me keep going.

A lot of you had specific questions as well, and I'll follow up on those in the days ahead, as time permits. But the most common question by far was "What are the other books in the trilogy, and when are they coming out?" I was rather startled today to realize that the answer is "Very soon"--at least for the second book, SHIELD OF LIES. According to the promotional info on the back of the cover proof, the on-sale date in the US for SHIELD OF LIES is August 5--not even two weeks away. (Officially, it's a September release.) I expect that, as with the first volume, the UK edition will be a month behind.

Speaking of the cover--it's spectacular, with a metallic electric blue background even more vivid than the red on BEFORE THE STORM. Should be easy to spot in the bookstore. [g]

As I noted above, the third book is titled TYRANT'S TEST. It's presently scheduled as a January book, with an on-sale date of December 2. But I delivered the manuscript a bit late due to the early arrival of my new son, and I'm not sure if that schedule will hold up.

Thanks again for your patience and your support. I hope that you find SHIELD OF LIES a worthy follow-on to BEFORE THE STORM--I'm very proud of it, and I'm very eager for the whole story of the Yevetha, the Fallanassi, and the Teljkon vagabond to be told.

Paul T. Riddell

priddell at whitehorsestudios com Thu Oct 24 1996
I hate to say it, but I wasn't on anything but utter exasperation with fandom when I wrote Squashed Armadillocon. Then again, I understand SF fandom is a lot more civilized outside of Texas, so maybe I was just hatcheting Texas fandom. Aside from that, Mrs. Kennedy, how did you like Dallas?

Leif Bloomquist

labloomq at uwaterloo ca Fri Oct 25 03:38 EST 1996

Greetings! I'm Leif Bloomquist, a student at the University of Waterloo (In Canada). One of my courses this term is the Cinema of Science Fiction, and while surfing for info I ran across your page and the "Gegenschein" fanzine.

I'm doing some groundwork for an essay (tentatively) on the topic of how (in sci-fi esp. film) human conflict, such as development of weapons etc. serves to 'prepare' mankind for a future alien invasion. (i.e, the virus in Independence Day.)

Have you got any thoughts on that? Are there any films known to you where this is a theme?

Robert Greene

robert at platolabs com Sun, 1 Dec 96 2570 Knightsbridge Ln. Santa Clara, Ca 95051

Remember me from Alyson's GROTL (Get Rid of Thanksgiving Leftovers) breakfast? I am at work running a 1/2 hour circuit simulations so I can read your fanzine while they run. Besides its Sunday and noone is here.

You mention Neil Gaiman. A delightfully funny and imaginative author who used to write the "Sandman" comic book. Edith and I went to see a reading of his last Halloween at a benefit for the Comic Book Defense Fund. Delightful. If he wrote it, read it. The Comic Book Defense Fund mainly pays the legal bills for fringe comic book publishers accused of violating our nation's obscenity laws.

While Jelly and Jam are used interchangeably, technically Jelly is made from fruit juice and Jam is made from fruit chunks. Unless its a citrus fruit and you get Marmalade. And there is also Preserves. I don't know what's the difference between Jam and Preserves. You can buy grape either. Does this clarify things for you? I didn't think so.

Only able to go on Saturday to Silicon because of work. Goh Katherine Kurtz is my favorite fantasy author. I think because her magic is consistent and believable. No buttpulls. I followed her around to four panels. She did a reading entitled "The Gargoyles of Dublin" which postulates that the gargoyles guarding Dublin's ancient buildings come to life. The plot of trying to catch a thief that broke into St. Patrick's Cathedral is incidental to the story which is a commentary of modern architecture and society from the point of view of thousands year old immortals. This was the first convention I've been to which didn't have a con suite. If you are just going to serve pretzels and popcorn that's probably just as well. At Duckon, which I used to be on the board, we spent real money on the consuite and found it to be a draw.

Susan Clarke

s.clarke at nepean uws edu au Thu, 5 Dec 1996

Of course, I will continue to plug Australia in '99. Just send me more flyers if you can. I am doing a mailout next week of the final PR for MEDTREK. Also, I'll put flyers in the con packages at MEDTREK. (that would be about 600 all up for those two mailouts)

Whilst you're entitled to your view concerning media fans over here, I will remind you that Graeme and I are both media fans primarily - although there is no solid line demarking media from lit fans - and people float back and forth over that line. And you would have more media fan support, if you wanted to let them know about the bid. I am still finding fans that I didn't manage to "hit" in my mailouts, celebrating the victory for Australia and wanting to spread the word, attend, whatever. For instance, the "Official Star Trek Club" in Australia has about 12,000 members and probably more after the latest movie. At a guess, less than one percent of them would realise what a worldcon is. Let alone what a non-commercial con is. ("con" being the operative word there, but don't get me started on that) Each week I find at least one that talks, reads and writes sf --- as against only Trek --- at places like Phantasia and Infinitas and spread the word about other types of fan activities.

I'm not suggesting that you get an ad in the Official Star Trek magazine here in Australia (which has a print run and sell out of 50,000 copies *told to me by one of the editorial helpers*), because I think that Aussiecon would be flooded with responses that the con probably could not handle.

People are thirsty for sf as we know by studies of book sales, support of sf media shows, films, etc. There's a lot more out there that can only find out about fandom (lit or otherwise) through their "media" interests. That's how I started out...

Anyway, the above is for your locol if you want it... please yourself.

I just remember how much financial support media fans gave the Sydney in 91 Bid --- all at the last minute --- through fund-raising primarily. Enough to make a decent show of the bid at least at Nolacon. And most of them had never been to a lit-based con in their lives. I joined the bid late, as you know...

Anyway, as I said before, anything I can do, let me know.

Nola Frame-Gray

av300 at lafn org Tue, 10 Dec 1996
PO Box 465 Inglewood, CA 90307-0465

Subject: I would *love* an email version of your zine if...

Thanks for the fanzine. Happiness is a zine likes yours that has a good LOC column!

Uh...'Fraid that I must pass on your kind offer of emailing me an electronic version of your zine...even if it would arrive much sooner. What it boils down to is: do I *really* want to read *all* the letters that your readers have sent you? Or to put in a more positive spin, I would love to receive an electronic version of your zine *if* it were the same size, had the same amount of text as your hardcopy *AND* if it were subject to the same editorial restraint that you already exercise on your print copy.

Nope, I couldn't begin to guess the reasoning behind the humongous portions which are served in American restaurants...and I was born here. And you notice that there is some highly occult, mathematical formula at work: The larger the amount served, the higher the fat content. And you notice that *vegetables* --of the non-potato, non-deep-fried variety are about as common as a four-leaf clover...

My husband, Elver, is quite slender. He's 5 feet, 11 inches but weighs only 170 pounds. I attribute his trim figure to:

* He runs after buses...literally. Not bad for 66.

* He's not only a big believer in taking home leftovers, but in freezing them for a rainy day. The problem comes when it's raining, like right now even as I type this. (See it *does* rain in Los Angeles!) and he forgets that the freezer exists.

* For some mysterious reason, when he bring food home from the take-out place, half of what he brings home winds up in the bellies of our 6 cats...Maybe someone could email me and tell me why this happens...:)

Jack Herman

pressco at fl net au Tue Dec 17 1996

We received Geg 75 but haven't responded because of exams and other academic impedimenta - Cath finishing off essays and me sweating on results and generally trying to recover. What with that and a bad case of gafia I haven't had all that much time to involve myself in fannish activities of late. For your and Jean's information you have my work-based email address above. cath is contactable as _hoyden at fl net au_ which links into her computer at home so I guess you can get me there too.

Generally I will get in touch with Geg through the Net and won't need hardcopy. But if you and/or Jean or A99 are sending either of us mail, don't use Box 272 Wentworth any more. All mail should go to

PO Box 874, Kogarah 2217.

If I want to read about the winning of the worldcon I will look up Geg where I trust you will tell the full story. Is so?

Alan John Stewart

s_alanjs at eduserv its unimelb EDU AU Fri Jan 10 11:31 EST 1997

With regard to Maia E Cowan's comments about Pat and Roger Simms, I sent a postcard to all voters who had sent votes to Phil Ware (who was the Australasian administrator for the 1994 DUFF Race to North America) on my DUFF Trip in 1994 to ConAdian.

I seem to remember Dick and Leah had printed labels they were using for postcards when they visited Australia, but I'm not sure how many they sent..

Regarding your comment about Benford - I'm pretty sure the SFish TV program he narrated WAS shown here in Australia a while ago. But I think it was at 2am or a similar hour.

Regarding your review of Furious Gulf (#5), this book actually follows on from Tides of Light (#4), and Great Sky River (#3) is earlier in the sequence.

Benford has written an article about writing the "Galactic series" which has appeared in the `SFFWA Bulletin" and somewhere else I've forgotten for the moment, possibly a recent fanzine. {{Aparatchik, I believe. Copies are on the Aussiecon web site, thanks to the generosity of Greg Benford. EL}}

Ellen Parry

E.Parry at hum gu edu au Mon, 13 Jan 1997

Just a quick note to say that I really enjoy G. And as I have email, I'd like to receive an email copy, or notification of updates, whatever's easier. Saves you money this way.

I'm looking forward to Melbourne in 99.

Richard Faulder

faulder at agric nsw gov au Thu Jan 30 1997 Subject: Commiserations

I was going to send you a birthday message, because I can't make the trip. However, I just found out from the latest _Bullsheet_that your mother has died. Very sorry to hear that.

George Laskowski

george_laskowski at cc cranbrook edu Wed Feb 19 1997

Since I have done most of my e-mail correspondence in the morning before school starts (between 6 and 7 AM), I have fallen behind because the sys-op decided to use that time (and most of the night) to try to do upgrades for the past 4 weeks. Thus, I am left trying to squeeze e-mail time between classes and during free periods when I can afford to let class preparation go. As you can see, I am writing this after you are already here in the States. I wish you luck on your trip, and hope you have a good time. I don't think you want to come to the Detroit, Michigan area -- lots of snow and cold weather.

I do have a question about the time you spend traveling. The way I understand it, every Australian citizen is supposed to have time and money provided by their employers so they can visit Europe and other parts of the world. Does this mean EVERY employer? Including "lower-level" jobs like counter-workers at MacDonalds and Wimpy's? I don't mean to demean such workers, but I would like some clarification. My wife Kathy asked about it, and I was sure that all workers are supposed to do this, every Australian citizen. But she pointed out that people earning small wages probably couldn't afford to travel outside the country. So she got me curious.

Meanwhile, I hope you and Jean are fine. I doubt I will see you this trip, but I am talking to Kathy about making Aussiecon. We shall see.

R-Laurraine Tutihasi

Laurraine at compuserve com Thu, 27 Feb 1997

Thanks for the copy of the _Non-Smoker' Update_. I just received it today. It's very similar to newsletters I get from organizations I belong to. I always try to write to my legislators, company executives, or whomever we are advised to write. I don't suppose they would appreciate Americans writing to Australia about these issues. As far as I know, there are no international efforts to influence legislation in other countries. I hope the air will be breathable for me in 1999 when we go over there.

I've been meaning to write to you about Australia. Since I'm writing now, I will do it now. These are the things I'd like to do while we are there, as time permits. 1. I'd like to go to one of those zoos where I can get my picture taken with native fauna. 2. I'd like to go to a nature preserve. 3. I'd like to go to Phillips Island to see the Penguins and other animals. 4. I'd like to try to climb Ayres Rock, whose aboriginal name I can't remember. 5. I'd like to do a one-day (or part thereof) scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef. 6. I'd like to visit an opal mine. 7. I'd like to go to a rain forest. These items are in roughly an order of importance to me.

I need names and addresses of the places involved and of outfits that run tours, especially at the Great Barrier Reef. I've never scuba dived.

Any information you or Eric can provide will be of great help. By the way, the San Diego Zoo does not sell stuffies of wombats. I guess I'll have to get one in Australia after all.

I'm a little behind in my reading, and the situation is probably not going to improve too soon, as we are in the middle of purchasing a house. In fact, my blood pressure is up; and I'm stressed out to the point where I'm frequently having difficulty sleeping. I have a little biofeedback device that I've decided to take to work with me to use every day until all this is over. I'm so keyed up that I've been having trouble relaxing. I'm usually very good with it. I think I just have to use it every day for a while.

Maia Cowan mentioned Pat and Roger Sims sending postcards to all the DUFF voters. I don't remember receiving a postcard from them. On the other hand, if this was more than a year ago, I would have passed the card to my sister, who collects postcards; so I really can't say for sure whether I received one or not.

Maia and I agree about Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars novels. I tried explaining my feelings to him when he was guest of honour at last year's Con-Dor, but I don't think he understood or didn't want to.

Greg Hills

gregh at sensation net au Wed, 19 Mar 1997

As you can see, I now have a `real' email account. May I please get Geg emailed to me in future? :) My printer has broken down (the feed tray has stopped working -- if I really, really need to I can use manual feed -- but ...) so I'll have to loc electronically.

I got into your web site today and had a nice rootle round. Snaffled the etext back issues of Gegenschein while I was there.

'Also, the quality used to improve as time went by -- I don't think that is happening any more.' That's a bad habit to get into. I can remember the screeds written years ago, when word processing was the exception rather than the rule. All those authors and fans talking about how wondrously easy it was to revise their words! Touch a key and the bad phrasing was whisked away. Touch another and the spelling magically faxed itself ...

All in all, the field today looks well and truly faxed. Freedom from the drudgery of typing and retyping for revision does not seem to have led to any greater investment in the drudgery of taking greater care with our wordsmithing. The ability to dispatch a LoC on the day of the deadline and have it arrive in time for inclusion seems to result in endless delays ('I can do it later ...') followed by a twenty-minute first-draft-equals-final-copy effort at the last possible time.

It's become so easy to correct errors that nobody bothers to correct them any longer.

Hey, go easy on IDE controllers! The one in the machine I'm using to type this was original with the machine in 1990. It has outlasted the keyboard, monitor, power supply, and Com ports of the same vintage. After all, nothing electronic lasts forever, especially if it has moving parts.

At one stage I owned three 170-meg SCSI drives (all defunct). One I gave to friends who thought they could repair it. (They were mistaken.) One I use as a bookend. (And a very good bookend it is, wondrously cyberpunk.) The last I dropped several times from my bathroom window, three stories onto concrete. (The screws wouldn't come out and I wanted the shiny metal disks to use as coasters.)

'Also, having cheap prices always encourages me' -- passing quickly over the wondrous grammar, I agree with this. Recently when I judged that I finally had the financial resources and the need for a second, faster computer (my old 386-25 motherboard still chugs along beautifully, but I sometimes need to run software that wants more than 4 meg of RAM and is too slow for 25Mhz), my haven of first resort was a Trading post newspaper. I was gleeful when the second motherboard I looked at, which was advertised as a 386-33 with matching co-processor for $35, turned out to be a 486. Either it was broken or the guy didn't know what he was selling! The motherboard was a 386 board with overdrive slots. The chip in the overdrive slot had a heat-sink on top, but the chip in the co-processor slot beside it was a 487. The place that should have held the 386 chip was empty. I tossed a coin and decided that for the price I could risk buying a lemon. So for $35 I acquired a very nice little Opti 486 that works perfectly. Now that I've got access to 'the web' I must make a point of finding a site that has the software that will bring the chip up to full speed.

'Bricks and mortar(boards)' -- Your piece on the future university does not take into account the advances in virtual reality. Why have a 'real' lecture theatre when you can simulate one in the computer and have people `attend' electronically? In such a room, the lecturer and the audience can have the same eye contact and feedback that they do now (a real advantage over impersonal media such as TV), without the need of everyone travelling to the same physical location, and if class size must be increased it's much easier to cram extra non-bodies into such a room (or enlarge the room to match the audience size). The gear required will soon be cheap enough so that the student can pay for the equipment they will need in order to hook into the lectures by the savings in not having to buy physical textbooks and suchlike. The technology is not quite there yet -- at present virtual avatars tend to be grotesque little cartoons -- but it's close, very close, requiring only modest improvements in bandwidth and processor power. We don't need a full-body apparition complete with pores and sweat stains in the armpits, after all: just a good representation of the face. The other details can be just sketched in.

In fact, because such classes do need not rely on gathering enough people in one place to make it worth a lecturer's time, a virtual university can offer courses that are currently restricted to a few large campuses -- making up the necessary numbers by merging students from several institutions into a single virtual class. Indeed, lecturers who are very good on one less-popular topic but who must currently spend time lecturing on subjects they are less adept at because there aren't enough local students to make worthwhile lecturing full-time in their speciality, will be able to concentrate on their speciality -- a potentially huge economy in personnel coupled with a potentially huge improvement in the quality of their teaching!

Peter R Booth

syzygy at AR COM AU Sat, 22 Mar 1997 Subject: Paul Collins

Another story Paul published was in my fanzine Syzygy #2 about 1988 or 1989... for the life of me I can't recall the story's name but I think I paid Paul about $20 for it and my co-editor hated it :) This was when Paul owned a store in Brisbane, quite some time ago...the story had something to do with corpses and gymnasiums though!

Chip Hitchcock

cjhi at world std com Sun, 23 Mar 1997 Subject: Gegenschein 76

Your assurance that STAR WARS novels pay a lot better than average doesn't square with what I've been told by the writer of a couple of STAR TREK novels (which were probably done under much the same rules, except more room for character development before the publisher decided that the key to sales was rigid adherence to formula). Tie-ins are usually works-for-hire and the ensuing royalties can be as little as a quarter of those for standard sales. It's true that some of that money goes to buy bookstore space, ads, etc., so the sales are better -- I was told the typical ST book did 300,000 copies -- but the pay doesn't net a lot higher.

Finder's comment about Boskone's decline is a little raw. I could be quite savage about the behavior of costume fans in the 1980's (starting with the fuss over Austin's suggestion, following the 6-hour show at LA, that it might be necessary to limit entries), but will simply observe that I spent an hour with the Gears trying to explain that they were welcome at Boskone, it was just that we'd been kicked out of two hotels in three years and needed to look more sober to avoid having all hotels lose interest in us. (I didn't succeed.) Unfortunately, outright panic came through, thanks to writing that we consented to in haste and (some) regretted at leisure, as bad attitude; being 100 miles from Boston didn't help. Different conventions succeed with different emphases -- Disclave has no Masquerade, nor any significant costume programming, but they run two dances (but have been, as I understand, shrinking due to being in a different place every year for the last six).

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