Gegenschein 85 June 1999

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Thylacon Report

Thylacon, the 1998 Australian Science Fiction convention, was held in Hobart, Tasmania, a large island state south of the Australian mainland. As previously, it had about a hundred attendees, and was again held in June, in the wonderful Hadley Hotel, safe from the cold weather of mid-winter Tasmania. I can certainly understand tourism subsidies for conventions in mid-winter in that climate.

Jean Weber, who moved to Airlie Beach in May, somewhat in advance of the date I could manage, returned to my home in Faulconbridge on the Monday evening prior to Thylacon, and we both filled the next few days with a totally silly number of tasks. I got a fanzine done, tried (unsuccessfully) to buy a portable computer, and we checked out small panel vans as a substitute for large RVs. This was between normal working days starting before 6 a.m. for me, and I'd only gotten out of hospital after having a coronary artery stent shortly before. Jean also seemed to have heaps and heaps of work related trips.

Thursday, trains, automobiles & planes, starting at 4:30 a.m. with the alarm. And we were fed only muffins on the flight!

Saw Neil Murray at the airport, so we shared a taxi to Hadley's hotel on Murray Street, and I picked Neil's brain about his work for one of the larger Australian ISPs. Jean and I took a walk around the waterfront while the weather was fine. Helped unpack Justin Ackroyd's car for the hucksters room (just in case he revealed some book I hadn't already ordered from Slow Glass Books). In Nick Stathopoulos's room, vagabond international traveller Cheryl Morgan and I talked about the sale of electricity supply operators and their financial position, and Nick rolled his eyes a lot. Nick told his story of operations and work stress, with his case of work stress being much worse than mine. I had somehow managed to fondly imagine artists managed to avoid work stress, even though I should have known better. We retreated to the bar, with GoH Leanne Frahm from Queensland, Nick, and Cheryl.

One of my favourite Australian authors, Sean McMullen, made the most spectacular arrival, his hire car expiring in the gutter outside the front door of the hotel. We braved the cold to go outside, and admire the exceedingly large and impressive ding in the front of the rent a car from hitting a kangaroo. His 10 year old ornately overdressed daughter Catherine was along, stealing attention, and making the fans look shabby. She will obviously be a very interesting person, if she survives her teen years. I understand she is now the youngest Australian fan to sell a story to Interzone.

We again visited the splendid book and art crowded home of original Thylacon organiser Robin Johnson and Alicia briefly before we all headed to Shipwright's Arms pub for a meal with the GoHs. I recall there was Leanne Frahm, Neil Murray, Cheryl Morgan, previous Australian GoH George R R Martin and Parris all the way from the USA, Robin and Alicia, Mandy Herriott, GoH Neil Gaiman, Nick Stathopolos, Jean Weber and myself. Jean told the story of her parents hire car being hit by a horse, which in fact jumped over and partly onto their moving car. I cast aspersions on the choice of lemon lime & bitters by calling it a Homeopathic drink, but I think that was my only good line of the evening.

On Friday we breakfasted with Leanne, saw Cheryl appropriately power dressed for an interview with a power company. George and Parris, Mandy Herriott and perhaps others made the obligatory Cadbury chocolate factory tour. Jean and I avoided the chocoholic tour, and walked to Battery Point, then when Jean tired I walked around town alone.

Lobby watching, briefly followed by lunch at the food court in Murray Street with Jean and Leanne. Lobby watching again as fans started arriving. Strange messages arrived from organiser Cary Lenehan for Robin, to help keep us puzzled. Those spotted arriving included Lloyd Flack, bookseller Justin Ackroyd, academics Russell and Jenny Blackford, encyclopedia compiler Peter Nicholls, local Tasmanian author Niall Doran, Craig Macbride, and Aussiecon programmer David McDonnell.

The hotel was serving wine to people sitting in the lobby until 3, but then the bar closed for a few hours. That was when Leanne decided that she had been unfairly excluded from getting a glass of wine, and mentioned this to us. I ducked out into the cold of the street, and into the bottle shop in the other food area run by the hotel. They were happy enough to supply a bottle to a guest. The hard bit was locating some wine glasses. Luckily the function room bar didn't have counter alarms, so I was able to liberate a few wine glasses from there. Leanne seemed impressed by this bit of fannish ingenuity, but I figure we have to treat the Guest of Honour the right way.

Dined at hotel with Jean and Leanne, and watched a little of popular GoH Neil Gaimen's talk before spending the evening in the bar with Carey, Robin, Neil, Tony Power (appearing after decades of GAFIA), Sean McMullen, Terry Frost (DUFF winner this year), Justin Ackroyd, etc.

Thylacon distributed movie flyers from Village, who had a lot of "3 films for $12" offers including the Aliens films, and a bunch of other scifi. I thought that was synergistic.

The 82 page folded A3 Thylacon book contained six stories, many by guests, plus biographies and the usual convention material. Apart from an unidentifiable photo of George RR Martin, it was all very readable. Niall Doran contributed a long article on bioethics. Sights and places around Hobart were covered. It includes the Ditmar nominations, a list of SF published in Australia in 1997 from Bullsheet publisher Marc Ortlieb, a summary of the Hugo and Nebula awards and a list of all the past winners. A list of SF small press in Australia. A list of the past Ditmar winners. Lots of information here.

Book launches included Sara Douglass' fantasy Pilgrim, and the Melbourne University Press Encyclopaedia of Australian SF and Fantasy. Naturally I bought the latter, but was somewhat disappointed that commercial constraints had restricted the coverage to more recent authors and publications. Various of the contributors, particularly Graham Stone and Sean McMullen, had available material to turn the book into a true encyclopaedia, rather than an interesting but short recent history.

There were a few bioethics panels, coming at an appropriate time, since newspapers were full of topic (by coincidence) a few days after the con.

SF is from Mars, Fantasy from Venus didn't reach a conclusion, I believe.

The banquet was very reasonable, although not I believe as fine as three years ago. Certainly a far cry from rubber chicken however.

Sunday programs included the business meeting, writing for TV, getting published, and the auction, while Monday had virtual sites, more bioethics, best sf movies (Terry Frost held out for LA Confidential, while I went for Earth Girls are Easy). Future Directions didn't foresee much, and then there was the closing ceremonies.

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Thylacon, thanks to the location, social events and seeing old friends. That the program generally worked also was a decided bonus.

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A copy of the programme book for Unicon Four, The 17th National Australian Convention of Science Fiction held in 1978 is to be auctioned at Aussiecon 3. All proceeds to go to the Fan Funds, and is donated by David L Russell. It has been autographed by the following pros and fans.

A. Bertram Chandler, lan Gunn, George Turner, Roger Weddall.

Justin Ackroyd, Brian Aldiss, Kenny Baker, Russell Blackford, Bill Congreve, Keith Curtis, Jack Dann, Niall E. Doran, Karen Joy Fowler, Leanne Frahm, Neil Gaiman, William Gibson (autograph slightly smudged), Lee Harding, Danny John Jules, Jay Kay Klein, Robert Llewellyn, Lyn McConchie, Sean McMullen, Lewis Morley, Kate Orman, Robin Pen, Jose Perez, Terry Pratchett, Marilyn Pride, Dave Prowse, Kim Stanley Robinson, Nick Stathopoulos, Wynne Whiteford, Sean Williams and Roger Zelazny.

James Allen, Jeanette Tipping Allen, Sue Ann Barber, Bruce Barnes, Merv Binns, Bernard Booth, Lyn C, Dennis Callegari, Lisa Cowan, Roy Ferguson, Terry Frost, Bruce Gillespie, Karen Pender Gunn, Carey Handfeld, Danny Heap, Donna Heenan, Mandy Herriot, Craig Hilton, George Ivanoff, Robin Johnson, Dallas Jones, Eric Lindsay, Jan MacNally, Race Matthews, Evan McCarthy, Perry Middlemiss, Shane Morrissey, Janice Murray, Clive Newall, Michael O'Brien, Cath Ortlieb, Marc Ortlieb, Margaret Louise Ruwoldt, Allan Stewart, Pat Sims, Roger Sims, Dick Smith, Leah Zeldes Smith, Sean Paul Smith, Grant Stone, Geoff Tilley, Jane Tisell, Beky Tully, Kerri Valkova, Phil Ware (initials only), Jean Weber, Phil Wlodarczyk and Apollo Zammit.

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Seattle Trip November 1998

Special thanks to Leanne and Kerry Frahm, who again put up with us as overnight guests, following a fine dinner together at the Coffee Club. Leanne went beyond all praise by driving us to the Mackay airport before 6 a.m.

Not that everyone was awake at that time. The Ansett clerk helpfully redirected the bags via Los Angeles rather than San Francisco where we arrived (and passed through Customs). Hardly his fault if he had been up since five, and they fixed that up when I noticed the wrong airport tag being done.

An actual soft boiled egg with ham and sausage for breakfast on the 6:45 a.m. Ansett flight from Mackay. I was amazed. After our Thylacon trip I thought they had given up supplying food on internal flights.

We spent some quality time at Brisbane airport, he said sarcastically, then hit the Red Carpet Lounge at Sydney (Jean wouldn't let me drink), then a half dozen bottles of Drambuie in the first six hours of the flight. We had used frequent flyer points to upgrade to business for the flight over. It took half the flight to discover how to work the 18 controls on the new style seat United are using, and that was after we found the operating manual. Jean's upgrade lasted until Seattle, but I was on economy from San Francisco.

We finally reached Jean's parents home at Lacey using the Centralia van around mid afternoon, after being semi-awake for about 30 hours.

Tuesday 24th November 1998

It rained for fourteen days and fourteen nights. Or maybe it only seemed that way. Just fill in the rest of the week as being wet. We relaxed and did very little apart from eat. Every now and then when the rain stopped I took a walk, with a weather eye out on the clouds. It got depressing after a while.

Friday 4th December 1998

We took the Centralia bus back to Seattle where Marilyn Holt and Cliff Wind once again welcomed us. Cliff kindly found me some hard drives that were lots smaller than current standards, but very much the sizes I needed for backups and expansion. We went with Suzle Tompkins and Jerry Kaufman to dinner at the wonderful The Third Place eatery and bookshop (I managed to mostly resist the books, luckily), then talked until nearly midnight. Unfortunately, email to the eddress I had for Jerry Kaufman bounced, so I haven't been able to send him this issue.

Saturday 5th December 1998

Went shopping with Cliff, but I totally forget the major target. We did visit some computer stores, at which I totally failed to find any really nice gadgets. The evening meal was at Mori (Greenwood), a fine Japanese restaurant with Cliff and Marilyn. I'm not a fan of Japanese food (through ignorance, not that I dislike it) but Jean seemed very enthusiastic about her meal.

Dinner was followed by a Vanguard meeting at Vonda McIntyre's place, at which we managed to see the majority of the fans we know in Seattle. I have no notes of that, because I was having far too much fun chattering

Sunday 6th December 1998

Janice Murray and Alan Rosenthal took us to The Yankee Diner for brunch, shopping at Bulldog newsagency and then more shopping at the University bookstore, where I didn't resist. Marci Malinowitz came over to dinner at Cliff and Marilyn's home.

I found the whole weekend thoroughly enjoyable, and an excellent chance to catch up with fans a few at a time. My only problem is that, like most US fans, Cliff and Marilyn haven't made it to Australia of late.

Monday 7th December 1998

To Las Vegas on Southwest, an airline that almost makes a bus look a civilised means of travel. But they were cheap and on time, and that was sufficient. We took some sandwiches from a deli Cliff stopped at on the way to the airport, as Southwest don't provide meals. That earned us envious looks for less prepared flyers.

The Sahara, where we had reasonable rates via yet another travel lurk on the international tickets, provided a convenient room after a slight delay. We arrived prior to the 3 p.m. check in time, so we went for a stroll towards downtown for an hour. After settling in we contacted various friends and made social arrangements.

Long after an inexpensive, "all you can eat" buffet at the Sahara I wandered off to get some missing supplies. The delay was because for about two hours we were too full to move. I thought for a while I wouldn't even be able to waddle back to the room.

Tuesday 8th December 1998

Jean was collected by Susan, after some confusion as to the collection location, for her visit with her friend Ellie. I walked as far as New York New York, and decided that was far enough for the day if I wanted to return at a reasonable time. Checked out the Sharper Image techo toys for overpaid executives at Fashion Show Mall, visited the Ethel MandM show and resisted buying chocolates (although I did inhale), and viewed the Destruction of Atlantis fountain and show, and Brookstone's executive toys at Caesars Palace.

I couldn't decide where to eat lunch, and ended up at CaFae in Westward Ho. An 8 ounce prime rib steak with the works cost $4.95. I should have ordered medium, as it was a little too bloody. Good value apart from that however.

Visited Arnie and Joyce Katz, left FAPA material with Ken Forman, helped envelope Crifanac with Ben Wilson, and learned more than I ever realised I might want to know about playing sports games on computer. That was good fun. Tom Springer and Tammy very kindly gave me a lift back to the Sahara.

Wednesday 9th December 1998

Walked to see Star Trek, The Experience at the Hilton, which was a fun "ride" and show, but could have done with somewhat better projectors for the shuttle ride. The timeline on the sides of the queueing area was interesting, since we have never paid a lot of attention to Star Trek as a series, except to view it when it happens to be on. I think the ride would be even better with a bunch of fans who would get into having fun with it. The script did follow closely what we were told when we had a press preview in 1997 during Comdex. The competition to sell silly souvenirs was intense in the Quark's Bar and shopping area.

We looked at the public parts of Bellagio, one of the new Italian style hotels. It gives a whole new meaning to the term baroque opulence, but we decided we didn't want to pay to see their fine art gallery. The water ballet that they play with the fountains in the artificial lake that occupies the entire front of the block was spectacular, and not to be missed. I would swear the jet went up 20 floors! Bonjour still wasn't completed, but you could see their Eifel Tower and parts of the Paris skyline being constructed, and wonder what they will do to compete.

We walked on up to the Mirage, and then to Treasure Island, collecting a free watered down drink on the way. Jean knew the best spot to stand on the bridge for the Buccaneer Bay Show, and the battle between the pirate ship and the British ship. That is great fun, certainly the best outdoor show on the Strip, even if you have to get there very early to get a good location. Then to Stardust for a fun book. Fashion Show Mall. Pizza at Riviera, and yet another fun book. We gave all the collected fun books to casino fan Leanne Frahm, to tease her.

Collapsed at our room at the Sahara by 8:30 that evening. Drank rum and orange juice ... mostly rum actually.

Thursday 10th December 1998

Finally got a Stratosphere fun book, once I found the right spot. Went shopping in the morning, walking past a radio station van, made up to look like a giant ghetto blaster. I'd once again overfilled my carry on wheeled bag, so a replacement was in order. I'd not had room for the past few trips. Took a fair while to walk to the right area, and then back, this time dragging a bag.

Tried the nearby Circus Circus buffet at $11.75 for two. Too full to move, yet again. Plastic food is good for you, in deserts. Good salad bar, fruit, turkey. But we once again appear to have misplaced the hard to miss circus acts on the way to their Adventuredome. Finally caught the circus acts upstairs above the main casino after lunch.

Jean returned to the hotel and I wandered as far as the Forum shops at Caesars Palace. The shoe shop didn't have any of the sandal I'd been looking at, but did have one similar to the ones I currently use. On special, reduced by heaps. And they also announced another 20% off until 6 p.m. so I bought two pairs. My pedometer showed 14.26 kilometres by the time I got back to the Sahara.

Friday 11th December 1998

Caught the 204 bus west along Sahara to the Sahara Pavilions shopping center at Decateur. I had fun checking the Radio Shack. Lots of X10 stuff I'd love to be able to get at home (voltage differences preclude using it). A comupter store where I stocked up on $1 gender benders. Checked out Circuit City, which was better on home appliances than computers. Office Depot had a few WinCE pocket computers but seems to have given up on more capable pocket models. Did get to see the HP Jupiter style CE machine. Decided to walk back to the strip, via various stores. There was an Office Max, but it didn't have much, nor did any of the other small computer outfits.

Stopped at a CompUSA, where I found DIY heat seal luggage tags, something I'd long wanted. Unfortunately, the price wasn't marked, only a really misleading stock number, the only package had been raided and some tags were missing, the queue for paying seemed interminable, and the staff didn't appear able to answer simple questions from other customers. I rapidly downrated it to the worst computer store I'd been in.

Saturday 12th December 1998

After a breakfast buffet we took the 301 bus to the Luxor at the far end of The Strip. Jean fell upon a BLT, having not joined me for the buffet. Walked back to the Sahara, via pretty much every place on The Strip.

Sunday 13th December 1998

We again caught up with Jean's friend Pat. They had visitors. Barkley, the dog from Alaska, and owners Suzy and John, whom we had met on a previous visit. Got a lift in their large truck, which seemed to have space for four people to sit across one bench seat! And so ended our US visit.

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Bits and Pieces

Futurian Society of Sydney

Taking its name (and with several members) from the 1939 organisation, this meets at 7:30 p.m. on the third Friday of each month in Room 1615 (16th Floor), Tower Building, University of Technology, Sydney, at 13-73 Broadway (the room is in the corner overlooking the ABC and Darling Harbour). Devoted to discussion of written science fiction. There is little formal structure, and no entry fees. Newsletter can be obtained by sending a SASE to Ron Clarke, PO Box K940, Haymarket, NSW 1240. Rev. Dalrymple, PO Box 2, Bexley North NSW 2207 produced a small pamphlet regarding Futurian activities, and those of other SF groups in Sydney. Discounts are available to members at some bookshops and groups. Web pages were formerly available at

George Turner Prize

For the second year, Bantam announced a $10,000 prize for fantasy and science fiction. Transworld Publishers, Ground Floor, 40 Yeo Street, Neutral Bay NSW 2089 is the address, and you need to get a copy of the conditions of entry. The prize is an advance against royalties, and you contract for first publication. They also ask for a $30 handling change. Entries usually end in January each year.

Nine writers reached the final stages of selection in 1999, including fans Dave Luckett and Narelle Harris.

The 1999 winner was Canberra writer Maxine McArthur with her procedural thriller Time Future set in the 22nd Century. The novel will be launched at Aussiecon Three.

Year 2000 Bug warning

"A prediction: A major glitch will occur on the first business day after the turn of the century (00:01 Jan 1, 2000). Many data bases and programs omit the "19" prefix from the year in their dates, and current entries will suddenly be 100 years older than previous inputs. Checks, being older than 90 days, will bounce. New mortgages, with no payments for nearly a century, will be foreclosed and cars repossessed, and new savings accounts will either receive an extra century's interest or be turned over to the state as dormant." - Homer B Clay, Phoenix Az, in New Scientist Nov 1, 1986, Vol 130, p286

But Is It Food?

Have you noticed the Food Standards Code seems to be changing, now that there is a joint Australia and New Zealand food authority, ANZFA. The change appears to be towards the lowest common denominator, rather than towards whatever standard best promotes food purity and safety. Margarine fats and oils no longer need be exclusively of vegetable origin, leaving it open for manufacturers to make them from saturated fats. Chocolate need no longer contain cocoa, which makes the entire idea of chocolate pretty pointless then in my opinion. It is proposed that chemical and antibiotic residues need no longer be removed from milk. Check with some of the consumer affairs bodies in your state.

Fast Food Fatties

Richard Couper of the University of Adelaide presented a paper in Perth at the May annual meeting of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Fast food and confectionary companies regularly breeched National Health and Medical Research Guidelines for childhood diets and broadcasting guidelines by advertising toys as inducements rather than the actual product in the 27,000 TV commercials children watch each year. A US study concluded 50% of all obesity factors could be attributed to TV viewing.

Kill DVD regions

I hope that DVD (Digital Versatile Disks) gets totally ignored. Australia is stuck as a third world country by the inclusion of a country region system in the contents of these disks. If you buy a player in Australia (region 4), it can't play US (region 1) disks. This is not a technical problem, it is a deliberate move by the content owners.

Therefore, I suggest that you never buy a DVD anything! If you really must buy a DVD player, find out which Asian countries have suppliers who disable the "region" system before selling the players, and buy only a player that has regions disabled. Tell retailers here why you refuse to buy. Or find a retailer who will sell you a code free DVD player.


There are over 84,000 ships over 100 tons, and 20,000 of these are registered under "flags of convenience". Over 18% of all world shipping is done under the flag of Panama, and over 13% under the flag of Liberia. Such ships are disproportionately involved in accidents, groundings, oil spills, appalling safety records, and fraud against crew members who often wait months for low pages.

Why do we let such ships enter our ports unless they can meet our own safety standards, and, if shipping between Australian ports, our own crew conditions?


When the US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson visited Hobart in April, residents found their remote control garage door openers didn't work. The vessel used similar frequencies to the remotes, and drowned out signals so receivers couldn't hear them.

Digital TV

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration has warned hospitals that new digital television could interfere with cardiac monitoring devices, putting patients at risk. Although older cardiac monitors could give false alarms, The Australian Broadcasting Authority claim lives will not be at risk, but then they would say that, wouldn't they?

Telecoms and Internet

I can't believe the way the Australian stock market has reacted to communication stocks. It is normally a lot more sensible about technology companies than is the US market.

A third of Telstra was sold by the government back in November 1997, with buyers paying an initial installment of $1.95, and a second installment of $1.35 due in November 1998. Telstra installments opened on the market on its first day at $2.67. Last time I checked in January 1999 shares were at $8.15. Optus went to market in November 1998 at $1.85, and was 15 times oversubscribed.

In January 1999, Yahoo bought Geocities in a share swap for US$3.9 billion, which valued Geocities stock at US$124.45 a share. Yahoo had a price to earnings ratio of 488 and a share price of US$367.75. Geocities had no earnings.

Amazon Books were valued in excess of US$20 billion, despite 1998 sales of only US$600 million, and no profits. In 1998, its share value rose 966 percent. By February Amazon were valued at US$53 billion. I bet founder Jeff Bezos was happy about that.

On-line sales in the USA in 1997 were around US$2.4 billion, in 1998 they tripled to US$7.8 billion. There are predictions of US$100 billion by 2003. However there are already shopping bots that will find you the cheapest price available from any on-line store. Given these are easy to find and use, most customers will shop on price for the sorts of things they are willing to buy over the internet. This leaves on-line stores working on tiny margins, even if they have a large turnover. However, will the turnover be all that large? The US retail market was approaching two trillion dollars a year. I think the Internet market will stay a marginal operation, with most people wanting to see and touch the goods before they buy.

Star Trek Wars

Paramount woke up that they had a money mine in Star Trek. In Australia, their local representatives, Southern Star, kept a careful eye on items infringing the Star Trek marketing rights. Local ST fans naturally wanted to see episodes of new shows before they were released here, and have long imported copies. The copyright holders objected in the early 1990's. Paramount apparently sold a licence to run an official ST club to some Sydney Trekkers, who had to organise on company lines to handle it.

I sure don't pay any attention to ST (except to watch the shows sometimes on TV), but I've not heard of any real change to the merchandising attitude on the official side. As long as that is the case, I really hope that literary science fiction fans stay out of the whole fuss, by never having any ST related material at their conventions. Or, if someone wants to put on ST stuff, make very sure such people provide written permission from Paramount for their activities.

Mobiles Risk to Newborn

News item in the Brisbane Sunday Mail 25 April 1999 p46 says "scientists in Washington are calling for pregnant women to avoid mobile phones, as a result of research which suggests even brief exposure to mild radiation from mobile phones causes defects in chicken embryos. Theodore Litovitz, a physicist at the catholic University of America, said the number of chick abnormalities doubled."

Canon Cat

I found an article by Jef Raskin in Midnight Engineering back in March 1990. In it Raskin (who was very heavily involved in designing what became the Apple Macintosh) tells about his experience with venture capitalists when he was designing another really neat computer. I read descriptions of an earlier version of it, running as a card in an Apple II. I read descriptions of it when the venture capitalists forced a partnership with a large company (Canon) to produce a revised version. Canon didn't have a clue what they had. I tried to buy one, and could never even find which division of Canon was producing it. But the descriptions of how it worked made it obvious that it really was doing heaps of things the right way.


When Jean and I visited Seattle in November 1998, I faunched after the little Dremel motor tools in the local Fred Meyer store. Dremel do a little heavy duty hobby motor, for which you can get heaps of grinding wheels, and other neat hobby stuff. I decided I couldn't fit it in my luggage, and the power supply was also a problem.

When we visited Sydney in February, I searched all the hobby shops and hardware stores for the Dremal stuff, but after long and arduous searches found it only at Hobbyco and at Pauls. Both were at such a price (A$215 for the MultiPro) that, with tears in my eyes, I abandoned my quest for yet another little gadget that went tapocketa or whirr.

Flash forward to us after we returned to Airlie Beach, visiting the local hardware store. There on the shelf is a bunch of Dremel gear. "Yeah," said the attendant, "a new line, just got them in a few weeks ago." He continued, "They should be available on special soon." And a few weeks later, there in the flyer was the Dremel at A$149. I really do like this town.

Just Say No

I see a news item that more than 2000 buyers of PCs are demanding a refund for unwanted copies of Microsoft Windows included with new computers. Australian Geoffrey Bennett got a refund of $110 from Toshiba for the copy of Windows that came with his new notebook computer. The software had instructions as to what to do if you disagreed with the licencing conditions. He did, and after four months of email and voice mail, finally got his refund. Check

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Australian Owned Companies Association

Promotes buying from Australian owned companies via lists of ownership, supporting informative labelling laws, spreading information about the problem, and general lobbying. If every family in Australia moved just $50 of their weekly purchasing from overseas owned companies to Australian owned companies, we wouldn't have a balance of payments problem. Buy your children a job by sending locally. Membership $50 a year, or $25 for their magazine. PO Box 440, Rydalmere NSW 1701 phone +61 (2) 9898 0309 fax +61 (02) 9638 5670

Sky & Space

Southern Astronomy

These two magazines cover space development, and astronomy in the southern hemisphere. 12 issues of either cost A$70 posted within Australia, overseas Sky and Space is A$136 while SA is A$140. Contact Sky & Space, PO Box 1233, (80 Ebley Street), Bondi Junction, NSW 1355 Australia, or visit the Sky & Space Shop. Phone +61 (2) 9369 3344 or fax +61 (2) 9369 3366

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The Death of Books

Books in Australia have traditionally been free of sales taxes. This ends if the Goods and Services Tax hits readers. Expect your books, magazines and newspapers to incurr a 10% tax. If your income doesn't increase, and you don't cut expenses elsewhere, this means you buy that many fewer, so authors get less money, publishers get less money, bookshops get less money. Some of them will go to the wall, and we will again get less choice in our reading. Authors will probably go on writing, even though many are doing the traditional "starving in a garret" stunt.

Publishers were recently hit by the loss of the book bounty, and now face lower sales, and additional costs. All their service providers, editors, designers, printers, bookbinders, will be charging publishers the 10% tax. So publishers are laying out more initially on books, some of which may sit in warehouses and bookshops for months or years before they can recover the extra tax paid. Many books are pulped, so I assume the publishers have to wear the tax they have already paid for the services that went into producing these lost books. It is only ten percent you say. There are a hell of a lot of people and organisations in publishing who would just love to be making a ten percent margin on their product. I think this will mean the end for many marginal publishers.

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Book Reviews

Want to buy some of the books reviewed? For your Internet shopping ease (and to help cover my internet costs with a 5% commission) I have included a direct link to at the end of my book reviews.

X Wing Iron Fist, by Aaron Allston

Bantam (Transworld), Oct 1998, 310pp, US$5.99 A$14.95

Sixth in this series about X Wing fighter squadrons, based on the sort of stuff you would expect from World War One biplanes. Wraith Squadron has to infiltrate and destroy the plans of a warlord who might join with the Empire. Fine for Star Wars and military enthusiasts, a bit boring for the rest of us.

X Wing Solo Command, by Aaron Allston

Bantam (Transworld), Feb 1999, 341pp, US$5.99 A$14.95, ISBN 0-553-57900-2

Seventh in this series about X Wing fighter squadrons, based on the sort of stuff you would expect from World War One biplanes. Once again reacting to plots by warlord Zsinj and trying to attack the Super Star Destroyer Iron Fist. Allston at least develops his characters, and gives them humanising little quirks.

Alpha Centauri by William Barton and Michael Capobianco

Avon, Sept 1998, 438pp, US$6.99

200 billion people crowd the Earth in 2239 A.D. and few are likely to survive the population crash predicted for the end of the century. Mother Night is an exploratory ship, seeking a planet for the colonising fleet that will follow decades later. However a genetic timebomb has already been unleashed against the crew by a brainwashed fanatic. Relics of a doomed race found in advanced ruins may hold the key to successful colonisation, or may be a pointer to the end of the human race. Lots of ideas here, together with an unrelenting emphasis on sex.

Moonseed by Stephen Baxter

Voyager (Harper Collins), Nov 1998, 534pp, TPB A$22.95

Set in the near future, geologist Henry Meacher starts studying a sample of moondust, from the samples Apollo brought back. A few grains are lost, and starts turning lava in Scotland into dust. And there is no stopping it, as more and more land is devoured. Then suddenly evidence that the same thing happened elsewhere in the solar system. With little clue to the origins of the destructive nanotechnology, a dangerous return to the moon is the only chance to discover why the moon wasn't entirely consumed, and what may be stopping the moonseed.

Titan by Stephen Baxter

Voyager (Harper Collins), 1998, 580pp, UK#6.99

NASA funding is to be cut when the the new administration takes office, but in the meanwhile, perhaps there is a chance of one final great exploration, if rivals in the Air Force don't stop it. However this expedition will require the old Apollo technology be revived, from museum piece equipment. Baxter shows both the technology and the politics.

An astonishing work, which once again shows how much technology and how much exploration and adventure we have ignored and let disappear for the sake of economics. As Kelly Freas once said: "Suppose Isadora had said no?" (to Columbus).

Infinity's Shore by David Brin

Bantam, Dec 1997, 644pp, US$6.99

Book Two of the second Uplift trilogy. I really enjoyed the first few uplift books, but when going to review this, I find I no longer recall nor care what happened to the settlers on Jijo. I'm not sure I finished the book.

Star Wars Episode 1, The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks

Random House, May 1999, 324pp, HC A$35

Based on the screenplay and story by George Lucas. This was designed as a film, and I certainly hope it will work better as a film. So go see the film just for fun (that is what I plan to do). That said, the book reads well enough, so completists may want a copy. Unfortunately, the story is trite, the events telegraphed, the surprises are not, and the course of the next few films already no surprise. I'm sure the merchandising side of this business will run along fine, selling plastic crap and fake souvenirs to the credulous, and that has become what it is all about, hasn't it?

Beholder's Eye by Julie E Czerneda

DAW, Oct 1998, 413pp, US$5.99 0886778182

A few shape changers try to keep their existence secret, but a young changer slips in front of a human. Then a hidden enemy strikes. Not very innovative adventure, although well enough done for its type. I wouldn't bother seeking it out.

Krondor: The Betrayal by Raymond E Feist

Voyager (Harper Collins), Oct 1998, 352pp A$35 HC 0002246945

Based on a game, and you can almost see the paper characters roll dice for their skills and characteristics. This hodge podge of events seemed utter trash, even for a fantasy novel.

Contraband by George Foy

Bantam (Transworld), August 1998, 518pp, A$15.95

Compulsive smuggler tries to evade the closing down of all of his breed, seeks the legendary author of The Smuggler's Bible. Hitech near future, with lots of dark characters. If you liked William Gibson's Necromancer you may like this.

Betrayals by Sharon Green

Avon (Random House), April 1999 (Feb 1999), 388pp, A$15.95

Book four of The Blending fantasy series. At least one more to appear.

The Neutronium Alchemist by Peter F Hamilton

MacMillan (Pan), May 1998, 999pp, TPB A$24.95 Pan, 1999, 1273pp, PB A$16.95, ISBN 0330351435

Sequel to The Reality Dysfunction, second volume in the Night's Dawn trilogy. High action space opera, with lots of technologies, lots of sub-plots, and an impossible enemy. Fun stuff. You want a plot summary of a 4,000 page novel? Good value desert island reading.

A Second Chance at Eden by Peter F Hamilton

Pan, April 1999, 496pp, A$16.95 Warner, Jan 1999, 420pp, US$6.50, ISBN 0446606715

Seven short stories, set earlier than, but in the same universe as The Reality Disfunction novels. Adds something to an already massive story.

The Alchemist's Key, Traci Harding

Harper Collins Voyager, June 1999, 368pp, A$14.95, ISBN 0732266726

Australian author. It can't decide if it is a young adult romance, a ghost story, a time travel story, etc. No interest to sf readers.

Year's Best SF 3 edited by David G Hartwell

Harper Prism, June 1998, 448pp, US$6.50

The book contains 22 science fiction stories from 1997, not fantasy or horror, and is light on longer works. In my opinion David Hartwell is doing the best job of any of the book editors working in the SF field. If his name appears on a book, get it.

Standing Wave by Howard V Hendrix

Ace, Sept 1998, 386pp, US$6.50 0-441-00553-5

Difficult to comprehend, and I can't decide if the problem is me, or the author. I think it is the author.

Slave Ship by K W Jetter

Bantam (Random House), Oct 1998 (June 1999), 324pp, US$5.99 A$14.95, ISBN 055357888X

A Star Wars francise novel, second in the Bounty Hunter Wars series. Boba Fett used by Prince Xizor to break up the Bounty Hunter's Guild and provide the Empire with a source of ruthless mercenaries. Set just after Return of the Jedi, and with lots of flashbacks. Inconclusive as a novel. For Star Wars fans.

Dark Genesis by J Gregory Keyes

BXTree (Warner), 1998, 267pp, PB E#5.99

This Babylon 5 novel describes the formation of the Psi Corp. Senator Lee Crawford creates an organisation to monitor all telepaths, against the opposition of some of the best telepaths. Some nice hints of McCarthyism and the like, and some nice nods to science fiction past, with the naming of Alfred Bester. Viewers would probably find more to enjoy than I did, but it wasn't badly done.

Maximum Light, by Nancy Kress

Tor, Jan 1999, 255pp, US$5.99

One fairly clear indicator of quality in a science fiction book is given when the editor is acknowledged as David G Hartwell, as was the case here.

We have a realistic society a few decades hence, and we have a massive decline in fertility (which really is happening) leading to changes in society and in reproductive technology (which is also happening). Add several interwoven plots, a fine mystery story, and you have one of the better novels of the year (not that I expect any less these days from Nancy Kress).

Dark Water's Embrace by Stephen Leigh

Avon, March 1998, 329pp, US$3.99, ISBN 0380794780

Bodies preserved in a peat marsh, dead after some ceremonial killing. Anthropological science fiction, as human settlers marooned on a distant planet try to understand why they are increasingly infertile, and whether the long extinct natives died out the same way - and whether that is a clue to finding a solution.

The Knight by the Pool by Sophie Masson

Bantam (Transworld), Nov 1998, 419pp, A$14.95

An interesting fantasy romance, set in France in the time of Richard the Lionheart, by an Australian writer with masters degrees in French and English literature. Not to my taste, but not just junk fantasy.

Murder in the Solid State by Wil McCarthy

Tor, Nov 1998, 277pp, US$5.99 ISBN 0-812-55392-6

Very nicely done murder mystery, set at a nanotech convention, with the protagonist as suspect. Takes a good swipe at the quest to eliminate risk and crime. Some really good nanotech material at the start helps make it feel much more real. Recommended.

Moonfall by Jack McDevitt

Harper Collins, Jan 1999, 440pp, US$6.50

It it weren't so long, this would be a wonderful treatment for a blockbuster Hollywood disaster movie. A sun grazing comet is discovered, very large and very late. In five days it will hit the moon, and probably shatter it. Much of the tale is an "end of the USA" disaster story. The hero is the US vice-President, on a tour of the just opened Moonbase. This one has non-stop action, and is a good example of how to do such a novel right. McDevitt almost makes even the Presidential heroics sound reasonable. It was great fun.

My suspicion is that McDevitt's publisher suggested to him that he needed to write some sort of blockbuster to justify big advances, and this was his answer. It isn't a bad answer at all.

Dust by Charles Pellegrino

Bantam (Random House), May 1999, A$15.95

Disaster novel with a large cast. This time insects die out, and that brings down human society as part of the effect rippling through the entire ecosystem. The protagonists realise that this could have been what happened during past ages when 90% of all species died out, and that perhaps asteroid impacts were just one last item in what had already started.

One additional interesting point about this one is that Pellegrino has the background to use lots of real events and real discoveries to further enhance the realistic feel of his fictional material. Sometimes this disaster novel seems a little too real.

The Chosen by Richard Pinto

Bantam (Random House), April 1999, 496pp, A$37.95, ISBN 0593041712

Fantasy, first in a trilogy.

The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

Corgi (Random House), May 1999, 412pp, A$15.95 ISBN 0552146145

The wizards at Unseen University were having a little problem with morphic instability, manifested in the Librarian (not his True Name) morphing from an ape (which was not his original form) into other objects. Rincewind had been assistant Librarian at the time the Librarian originally changed, and therefore may know the Librarian's True Name, of great aid in changing the Librarian to some more stable form. Even the author doesn't mention whether Rincewind might have, however inadvertently, been responsible for the original change. However Rincewind appeared to have ended up in EcksEcksEcksEcks, and no-one knew where that was. As a wizzard, Rincewind was totally inept (he also couldn't spell "wizard"), but he did seem to have a certain talent for survival under the blazing sun of 4ecks, even if it was by falling into waterholes whenever he needed a drink.

I have no idea what Pratchett's UK and US readers will make of this particular Discworld novel, however for Australian readers, it manages to include many icons of Australian existence. Watch Rincewind learn to make thongs. Watch him invent Vegemite. Watch him deal with drop bears (even though they don't exist). Watch him meet Mad Max. Watch him outdo Ned Kelly, and watch him be the swaggy in Waltzing Matilda. Look for the particularly sensible approach taken to politicians in 4ecks. Australians, get this one (but try not to read it anyplace where those around you will be bothered by your rolling on the floor laughing).

Jingo by Terry Pratchett

Corgi (Transworld), Dec 1998, 414pp, A$15.95

Soccer hooliganism comes to Discworld, and that is just the people on Vimes side, as the commander of the City Watch tries to understand why the world is going to war ... and what any individual can do about such disorderly insanity.

Vimes knew the places as Mundane Meals. Nobby Nobbs had said that Goriff had wanted a word that meant ordinary, everyday, straight-forward, and had asked around until he found one he liked the sound of.

Despite the trying times, Vimes can not escape the social obligations of his position, even when there are important affairs afoot. Don't read this is you want to enjoy tales of 19th Century imperialism.

Lady Sybil has vouchsafed to me that if you are not there she will utilise your intestines for fashion accessories, sir.

Broken Symmetries by Paul Preuss

Pocket, Aug 1984, 370pp, US#3.95 0671460463

Peter Slater seeks a GUT, in a novel that almost forshadows some of Greg Egan's work such as Distress.

Secret Passages by Paul Preuss

Tor, Aug 1998, 341pp, US$6.99 0812571487

Sequel to the above, in a way, in that is recycles some of the same characters, but less science, and better writing. I was impressed.

Fire Angels by Jane Routley

Avon (Transworld), August 1998, 436pp, US$13 A$22.95 TPB

Romantic fantasy, sequel to Mage Heart, with Dion the mage against demons, and in the midst of civil war. Not to my taste, but well written. The Wanderers seemed to share many of the characteristics ascribed to Australian aboriginals.

The Dragon King by R A Salvatore

Voyager (Harper Collins), May 1999, 344pp, A$13.95

Book 3 of The Crimson Shadow fantasy adventure.

Frameshift by Robert J Sawyer

Tor, Nov 1998, 343pp, US$6.99

A scientist with a deadly disease, trying to learn enough to combat it, is plunged into another battle with a crooked insurance company, and a plot to make him and his wife victims of a genetic experiment. Pretty fast paced, and the science seems real. I won't mention what the frameshift is, but the genetic explanation is well done. Another novel with David Hartwell as editor, and that is usually a very good sign.

Putting Up Roots by Charles Sheffield

Tor, Nov 1998, 247pp, US$5.99

A novel aimed at a juvenile audience, and sharing many of the characteristics that made Heinlein's juveniles so enjoyable decades ago. Teenager Josh Kerrigan is abandoned, and sent to the planet Solferino, where he is involved with exploration and adventure. A certain amount of teenage angst at adults. If all the books in the Jupiter series are at this level, they could act as a fine introduction to SF for many a young reader.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Charles Sheffield

Bantam, Jan 1998, 422pp, US$5.99

Drake Merlin will not let his wife slip away into death by disease, so he has her body frozen until it can be revived. And then follows her into the unknown future. His plan to leave reasons for his own revival works, however no-one has much interest in the research needed to cure his wife. Through Drake, we visit age after age, each stranger and more advanced than before. A fine thoughtful version of an old SF idea.

Island In The Sea of Time by S M Sterling

ROC, March 1998, 608pp, US$6.99

The island of Nantucket jumps back in time to 1250 B.C. A fine alternate history novel, which a lot of attention to character. Be interesting to see where the author goes next.

In Enemy Hands by David Weber

Baen, Oct 1988, 530pp, US$6.99

Despite political turmoil in the People's Republic of Haven, a few of their Admirals are very good indeed, as long as they can avoid coming to the notice of political figures. A well organised trap leads to the accidental capture of Honor Harrington. She and her crew are bound for the prison planet Hell, and scheduled execution for propaganda purposes.

One of the better military space opera series (pity the folks who make scifi films don't read someone who can make space battles more realistic than lasers at 50 paces).

Promised Land by Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice

Ace, August 1998, 362pp, US$6.50

Frontier farm romance, set in space, as daughter returns to her home planet from fancy schools on Earth, where she has lived in luxury since she was five, to settle her mother's estate. The part of the villainous banker is taken by the veterinarian, who wants to kill her alien pet to prevent it possibly harming the ecosystem. The bashful farm boy is half owner of the estate. Then there is the wagon train trip (sorry, solar car trip) across hostile territory, while romance blooms. I'm sure the only reason this is set on another planet is that humourous romance set in the US West doesn't sell. Having an alien pet and solar cars does not a science fiction novel make. Give it a miss (even though it is better written than much SF).

To top of page


Letters of comment. I was getting reasonable results from replacement OCR (optical character recognition) softwear I have been trying on my old scanner, so I present a whole heap of letters that have arrived over the past few years. Guess I'll leave the electronic locs until next issue, given how long this issue is already.

Adrienne Losin

PO Box 692, Mornington Vic 3931
Jan 1998 One bit of travel which has helped my health is going to tropical Oz during Melbourne's wretched winters. I hope you like the Hervey Bay sketches on my card. Your flat in Airlie Beach sounds a sensible move. Are you at the Begley Street (Cannonvale) end or Club Habitat (Shute Harbour) end? {{Club Habitat end EL}}

My times in Airlie Beach have been spent partying at Magnum's, yachting, scuba diving, admiring the local art co-op shop, gossiping with the locals (Scandal! Scandal!), chatting up the dive masters (more scandal and dirt on the opposition operations). In fact, I was too busy having a good time to do any sketches, but I do have the photos. For my money, though, the Hinchinbrook area is far superior to the Whitsundays, but less accessible. P.S. Go for a cruise on the Nari. {{ Magnum's burnt down around January, with some help. New Village food area there, with reconstruction of the bar just started. Airlie Beach Hotel was also demolished in June. EL}}

Ron Saloman

1014 Concord St, Framingham MA 01701-4502 USA
29 July 1998 My father was written up ... as a pioneer in medical research. He had heart failure and the docs tried (successfully) to clear things up clogwise with balloons and internal scraping. Back in the early 1970's, this was all considered experimental.

How much is it for basic telephone service, and do you have a choice of companies. Basic service here is about US$13 a month. We've got right now maybe four companies offering residential service. And the long distance service is really cheap. You can call England for 10c a minute. Australia 29c a minute. {{Residential service is about A$40 for 3 months, local calls are 25c each, cheapest long distance deal seems to be a maximum of A$3 for any call within Australia between 7 p.m. and midnight Monday to Friday. I basically make about one long distance call a month, about one mobile call a month, plus maybe 10-15 connections to the local ISP a month, so I don't really know the rates. I really do mean it when I say Jean has the phones. EL}}

Terry Jeeves

56 Red Scar Drive, Scarborough Y012 5RQ England All this electronic mail and PC jargon is way over my head I'm afraid. I run a 16k Beeb and a PC which I'd love to upgrade the hard disk - and get on the net, but the complexities baffle me.

I fully agree with you on not reviewing - or reading - Fantasy. Most such yarns are just over-wordy adventure yarns transposed off Earth and with a lot of magic thrown in. As for those seemingly endless saga from Hickman and somebody - the gorge rises. Likewise McCaffrey's Weyr Pern abominations. They have increasingly mutated from SF to Fantasy and into typical `women's romances' where the oppressed female comes out on top - after imprinting a young dragon (or an older male).

David L Russell

196 Russell St Dennington 3280
25 Aug 1998 I've enclosed an article about Geoducks (mentioned in Geg 79, which pretty much excuses your spelling mistake.

If you were unemployed you would be less stressed but you wouldn't have the money to travel to cons outside New South Wales let alone Australia. As for publishing your ish ... shudder, no it's too horrible to contemplate; no more Geg!

Of course there is the other option of a new job with less work and more pay. Hmm colour lithography covers for Gegenschein. Sounds good to me, probably less so to the money in your pocket.

Ned Brooks

Much thanks for the Gegenschein 75-79. Sorry to hear about your mother and the other disasters. There is a copy of It Goes On The Shelf 18 on the way to you.

When I bought the house next door (as an alternative to moving to a larger place) I got down out of the attic the suitcase full of stuff (sf collectibles and a pair of sunglasses) that Keith Curtis left here 20 years ago, and put it into two brass chests that serve as endtables by the couch. So it isn't in the way, or as likely to be damaged by heat or bugs, but sooner or later something will have to be done with it. Do you have any idea what ever happened to Curtis? Should I take it to the next Worldcon or Corflu or whatever and donate it to some benefit auction? {{Keith Curtis moved to Tasmania, turns up for a few minutes at Thylacons. Still has vast numbers of books. EL}}

For years I wore a hightop Hushpuppy shoe, and then they quit making it. My sister was working at an SAS shoe store, so I tried a pair of those - they are very comfortable, if not as scuff-resistant as the HushPuppy. The only problem I have with them is that because of the padding they are hotter than the HushPuppy.

People do keep llamas as pets - if you actually saw a lama kept as a pet, I suppose it's ok as long as he is willing...

When I ordered the new computer I was told that this is the last year there would be a Windows exit to DOS - I would hate to lose the capability of running TurboBasic. The new machine will have a laser printer and my old FancyFont bitmapped typesetter will no longer work - what would you recommend that runs in Windows to do fanzines with? {{I do all my writing in ASCII with The Semware Editor, a small shareware text editor with an exceptionally powerful macro language, for people who may happen to want to change how their editor works or looks. I do all my text formatting using tags for QuikScript, a free Postscript utility from Graham Freeman at the Australian Defence Forces Academy. Since the source code is the program (it is in Postscript), those who want to extend or change it can do so. I can fit both of those on a floppy disk, and that method, and the files produced, will work on any computer system whatever. I will not use proprietary and custom word processor files. EL}}

I saw an ad for the Charade when I was in Dublin in 1979, and I saw another on the road in Atlanta a couple of years ago - the model name has lasted pretty well to be so silly to a literate person. I suppose most people have no idea what a `charade' is.

The reference to 'drop bears [killer koalas]' was disconcerting - I had no idea there was a koala capable of or interested in killing anything. Is this just another gag like the bunyip? {{Would we kid you about something like that? Check Terry Pratchett's The Last Continent for suitable methods of dealing with drop bears ... and keep watching the skies. EL}}

I tend to agree with you about the X-Files. I have watched it occasionally - neither of the principal characters has any personality to speak of, the plots are rip-offs of 50s magazine sf, and the endings generally make little sense. Still, as TV fare goes, it is better than most of it.

Gruesome story of the hail damage. I came home from two weeks in Atlanta to find the water heater had burst - fortunately most of the 2000 cu.ft. of excess water found its way into the crawl space through a hole under the thing and I had no books damaged.

Do send me a [book] catalog if you do one, I actually have empty shelves at the moment... You are probably right about Newt Gingrich being the only major politician to write sf. The closest competitor I can think of - in the US anyway - is Roger Sherman Hoar, a physicist and Wisconsin state senator who wrote sf as Ralph Milne Farley.

{{From: John S Baker jsb at concentric net

I am one of Roger Sherman Hoar's grandsons and offer the following *minor* correction.

He was a State Senator in Massachusetts (probably Concord area or Middlesex County) before moving to Wisconsin after WWI.

Also, I believe his undergraduate degree was as an engineer, rather than as a Physicist. His "other" job was as Patent Attorney for Bucyrus-Erie, then a maker of large steam-shovels (now defunct).

Happy to help with any other details anyone wants.

John S (Sherman) Baker }}

John Berry

4, Chilterns, S,Hatfield, Herts AL1O SJU, Great Britain
20th October 1997 I very much appreciated the large batch of Gegen's which arrived a few days ago. I have been a retiree for seven years now, my point being that I am now able to read and appreciate fanzines at leisure ... actually lying in bed, if the truth must be told, spectacles hanging on my nostrils, nothing to distract me, just the excellence of the fannish written word, although my wife sometimes sneaks in and leaves coffee on the bedside table, then sneaks out again. The reason for this surreptitious behavior, it must be told, is because she says fanzines excite me...

I really am very much impressed, as I always have been, with your reviews of science fiction novels ... they have impact without undue wordage, you succinctly perceive the essentials of plotting and present your final opinions shrewdly and pointedly, I have taken to contacting my local library to purchase the novels you recommend ... I'm afraid that, due to ever-increasing financial constraints, my local library usually cannot oblige, but every couple of months or so, a cards is ticked off in the ... TEESSS, category, and I stagger down to Hatfield Library to collect, and make for the bed to read (sometimes in one fell swoop) your recommendations, and I have never been disappointed, {{I am delighted to hear that you get some use from my reviews as a reading guide. EL}}

I must confess to being absolutely computer blind ... and the weird coding you present for contact with you is mind-boggling. I have no idea what Web Pages are, what the hell is E-mail ? I have been told that I am on the Internet in several instances (For example, try Astro Space Stamp Society) but I didn't initiate these entries, No, I still rely on a typewriter which was literally thrown out of the fingerprint office I worked in until 1991, It was retrieved by myself from the van taking it to be flattened, and I'm pounding on it now, oblivious to the fact that when the ribbon reaches its end on the right spool it stops, and I pretend I do not have to manually roll the left spool to get the ribbon re-wound. Friends come to my den, and they stare aghast at the typer, `A writer of your repute needs a word processor' they say, prompted by my wife, but I always say I am a true amateur, and could not cope with present technology, {{If I still had a typewriter, especially one of the nice IBM Selectrics, I'd probably still do LoCs on it. Nothing faster than a typewriter for getting material written and gone on its way. EL}}

To sum up, I'm really an ooolldd wrinkly.

Ned Brooks

September 29,1997 Fancy airletter, meant for Xmas I suppose. I should e-mail you now that I have this thing working. I hope. I just installed NetScape in place of the useless MSExchange. I finally discovered that the only way I could get that to send an e-mail was to use the `compose' screen that was part of the mail reader. If I used the other compose screen, it would only pretend to send it. I like NetScape much better, and I'm used to it from the office - though not for e-mail, we were all instructed to use the site-licensed Eudora for that. {{Eudora Lite is available free, and seems to do a fine, albeit restricted, job. EL}}

Thanks for the address for Curtis, I'll send him an IGOTS anyway. Glad to hear the killer koalas are a gag... I could understand the Japanese putting Charade on a car in 1979 - I saw a movie ad for it in Dublin that year - but 18 years later quite a few people must have told them how silly it is as a model name on a car.

Glad to hear the exit to DOS is preserved in spite of what the Gateway salesman told me. I like DOS, never had nearly as much trouble with it as I have had with Windows. I am so used to running this ancient FancyFont typesetter with markup codes that I do letters and zines in it and have gotten a laser-printer version onto the new machine. Unfortunately, the font selection in the laser-printer version is very limited - trsc, copc, hvsc (but I hate Helvetica) and a bad script font and Olde English, but in 20-pt. In theory of course I could make any font I like with the cfont (to create) and efont (to edit, pixel by pixel) executables, but I have neither the patience nor the talent.

You're the guru - is there any way the back issues of IGOTS preserved in memory as ascii files with the markup codes imbedded could be put on the WWW? {{That would almost certainly be very easy to do. Just search and replace your old markup codes with HTML markup codes, plus a little stuff at the start and end of each file. Could be a little tedious getting it just right. EL}}

Joseph Nicholas

15 Jansons Road, South Tottenham, London N15 4JU
12 October 1997 Many thanks for the latest package of Gegenscheins (issues 75 to 79 inclusive). How you can afford all that overseas travel beats me. Of course, we used to do a lot of it ourselves -- but then didn't have much money left over for anything else. You, on the other hand, manage overseas travel and other things, such as the computer gear you seem to be purchasing almost every other day. But then you doubtless earn more than us....

Anyway. In issue 77, concerning the death of your mother, you say that your maternal grandfather William George Harper was born "in what appears to be H???ford, Sprowston, Norfolk, England". From scrutiny of our Ordnance Survey atlas of Britain, I suggest that this may be either Hainford or Horsford, two of the many villages around the city of Norwich, which is the largest in the county. (In fact, it's the only city in the county -- "city" still meaning, as it did in medieval times, a town with a cathedral.) Sprowston itself now seems to be a suburb of Norwich; but in the late nineteenth century it may have been (and may still be) the name of the parish in which the two villages were located, and thus the geographical location of the parish registers.

Horstead, where William George Harper's aunt Eliza Wright lived, is another village outside Norwich. Hainford is closer to it than Horsford, so there may be a greater likelihood of WGH being born in the former rather than the latter if you accept the arguments about the general immobility of people prior to the twentieth century, and thus that rural people (in particular) tended to live, work and die close to if not in the village in which they were born. But by the late nineteenth century this immobility had largely evaporated, as an agricultural recession drove people off the land and into the cities and towns, where if their living conditions weren't any better (and were often worse) they at least had the prospect of a more regular income. And hadn't the railways been the catalyst for large movements of population prior to this recession in any case -- not just out of the country and into the towns but from one part of the country to the other in search of work? (Three volumes surplus historical justification omitted in the interests of saving postage.) {{Wow, nothing like local knowledge for clearing up points obscure to me. Thanks. EL}}

As a matter of tedious interest, there are quite a number of villages which begin with the letter "H" clustered around Norwich. Hevingham, Horsham St Faith, Hoveton, Horning, Hemblington, Hellington, Howe, Hempnall, Hapton, Honginham, Hockering, Heydon, The Heath, Little Hautbois (but no Greater Hautbois). Maybe it's a Norwich thing....

A call from downstairs tells me that dinner is almost ready and that it's time to lay the table and open the wine. Ah, the joys of Sunday evening chez Hanna-Nicholas!

Our Motto: "Death to the Spice Girls!"

Bob Smith

37 St Johns Road, Bradbury NSW 2560
October 1997 Gegenschein 80 arrived today, and considering I was a trifle abrupt last time I commented perhaps I don't deserve it, but welcome anyway...

Hmm. You appear to be "catching up" with correspondence etc., this time round, judging by the date of my letter, but from the ego point of view not a bad idea. I do appreciate the problems you and Jean have these days, and ... I hate moving too!

I was a little amused to see you admitting that "web fanzines and email notifications" were trickier than you thought, because I was getting the impression that Eric Lindsay was thoroughly on top of anything related to computers... (No offense: definitely tongue-in-cheek humour) I note in the SMH "Icon" section that much is being made of the "Data Smog" effect on people up to their eyeballs in computers and related parafanalia (maybe I shoulda put a big "F" in there, eh?), and indeed one reviewer was actually longing for more bookshelf space and the luverly feel of a book. (Your problem with books is, I guess, just the opposite now, eh?)

Your Basicon report was straight forward and thoroughly readable, and its been some thirty-two years since I was in that area leading up to the Vic/NSW border. Looks like the Snowy and Tumut might have changed somewhat since my day... Lyn and I were reading your impressions and thoughts regarding the War Museum with mixed feelings, probably because our diverse backgrounds touched the armed services in some ways. Many individuals who served in the armed forces in whatever capacity often have their own "war museum" tucked away in the memory, which most civilians have trouble comprehending. (Interesting reading is Norman E. Dixon's On The Psychology of Military Incompetence, 1981) However, both Lyn and I agree wholeheartedly with you when it comes to trusting politicians! The rest of your conrep was enjoyed.

Found the potted book reviews entertaining, but nothing I would rush out to purchase. (Part of my brain still keeps murmuring: "There's just too much of everything...")

Of course! "Zen" should have rung a bell with me, because we enjoyed "Blake's Seven" back then. What is more intriguing is all the other names your work computers have: care to name them?{Orac, Slave, Ziggy, Artoo, Hal, Lore, Data, etc. EL}

Well, of course, my letter in Geg 80 is almost a year old, and in mid-1997 we updated all our computer equipment. (I have just switched computers to check the last time I wrote you, and I didn't mention updating there, so...) Now we have a Pentium 133 tower with all the bits and pieces that go with an "initial entry." Also an Epson Stylus Color 400. Ironically, Lyn now uses the new system and I plod along on the notebook and WordPerfect and my old DMP 440... (The Web/Net still holds no fascination for us)

About the only obsolete book I gave away many years ago (Terman's Radio Engineering) I would really like to have back, for purely nostalgic reasons!

Karen Herkes: Believe it or not, I have never read any of the Schmitz "Telzey" stories, but often dip into dear old The Witches of Karres.

When I flipped over to the back page of Geg 80 for a moment I thought I'd fallen into an ancient copy of Popular Electronics, or summat similar. I knew all about R. S. Popov way back around 1946 when I was discovering ham radio. In fact, when I was a NCO instructor with the Royal Corps of Signals, around 1949/50, I would include Popov as part of the early history of wireless. However, I think you should have tossed the name of Nicola Tesla in amongst all those pioneers of the wireless/radio field. On June 21, 1943 the Supreme court of the United States (Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America v. United States) accorded Tesla clear priority because of his lectures and disclosure in 1893 of wireless communication, complete with diagrams. Over the years the experts have argued more about the definition of the principles of transmission and reception of radio signals, rather than who got there first.

When I was a teenager it was quite a toss-up between radio and science fiction as to which gave me the biggest sense-of-wonder jolt... {{Lot of overlap in the audience I'd imagine, with stuff like George O Smith's Venus Equilateral stories. EL}}

I must admit there is the temptation to enquire about certain items you might be offering, does seem an awful shame to break it up, Eric.

John Tipper

PO Box 487, Strathfield NSW 2135, Australia formerly at

October 20, 1997

Thanks for Geg 80. Couldn't agree more regarding your final remark on the front page. Despite having access (of sorts) to email, I'll stick to the tried and true smail for the time being. I share a web page (more like 100 A4 pages) with a friend at Penrith library but email is accessed on a public terminal using a series of passwords, necessary as when said friend is away, I have to access her records. The way the public system was first set up, once you answered email, it and your reply disappeared forever. So it was necessary to run off a hard copy of both before moving onto the next message. I forgot, of course. In-between visits, someone complained about this, so the system was changed. No one told me, so my next visit resulted in a lot of wasted time trying to figure out what was going on. The staff, ever helpful, eventually sorted me out but I have to ask: is it worth the trouble? The new system, when printed out, gives you not only the bare message but all the codes, etc. So it's necessary to go through and highlight the meat, so to speak.

As for email addresses, we've had ours changed several times in 6 months, due in part to PCL becoming its own provider, so I assume this happens to many email addresses. As for bouncing, I was told that messages which don't reach their destination always bounce. Not true, say I! Anyway, I don't keep records of email addresses at all past 6 weeks, figuring they will have changed after that period. Pessimistic, aren't I?

Off that subject, I was interested to read your BASICON 2 report as I never made it, despite having joined and paid for a huckster's table. The inability of getting good accommodation because of the VFL GF (football grand final) put me off going. Good to hear Ian is doing okay.

Was amused to read Richard [Faulder] class Edwina [Harvey] as a 'neofan of her generation'. This is the lady who has run conventions in the past, at sometimes great cost to her sanity! No doubt Edwina is poised over her keyboard as I type this loc, ready to drop on Richard from a great height. Bombs away! (Richard, I still don't have a clue what Faandom is.)

As Karen remarked, we (media fans) cheerfully attended Aussiecon2 in 1985 for reasons other than meeting guests. I can't remember who the guests were this late in life, but I could probably list many fans I met for the first time, people with whom I'd only corresponded up until that convention. Ah, those room parties. One glaring memory. I recall Forbidden Planet being screened in 'squashed' format. Someone forgot to bring the anamorphic lens. What a disappointment that was!

Robert Coulson

{{Unfortunately Buck died on 19 February 1999}}
1 July 1998

We had a leak in our roof, but a small one, compared to yours. Worst part was that some of it was over the stove. Some of the masonite I salvaged from Overhead Door did some good; Juanita has a long section of it over the stove, one end resting on a kitchen cabinet , and the other propped up by her microphone stand; it diverts water into a wastepaper basket next to the stove. We've had repairmen out several times and the leak has been reduced, but there is still a slight trickle coming from somewhere during a hard rain.

Fortunately, Dad didn't have that much stuff in his house, though it took us awhile to empty the place, complicated by the fact that it was about 60 miles from here. But he'd dumped a lot of stuff before he died, which helped (though a few items he'd discarded were things I'd have liked to have, including a Buck Rogers Rocket Pistol that was probably worth some money.)

One thing I don't want is another batch of books......or fanzines, for that matter.

Heart attacks are the pits. I've had 2, though the second was pretty. minor, and an astounded doctor told me that my heart was in better condition after the second one than it had been after the first. (I do enjoy confusing doctors; after the heart attacks, 30 years of diabetes, and the fact that I'm now 70, they always expect me to be in worse shape than I am. ) Good luck with the new drug, and with the moving.

Geg 80 - We might use that book on weaving dog hair, except that Juanita hasn't time do it and I'm not inclined to. With a 75-pound housedog, there is a lot of hair being deposited on rugs, furniture, etc.

Well, I changed jobs 7 times during my working career, but they weren't all from being upwardly mobile. Cemetery caretaker, house and barn painter, wool bagger, bookbinder, draftsman, technical writer and illustrator, draftsman again, track designer for overhead garage doors. Plus author, book reviewer, and (very) junior editor on the side. And I guess you could call selling books and tapes at conventions a job. And no university education. But one doesn't need courses on how to be a responsible citizen; one only needs common sense (which, I admit, is rare, even in fandom.)

Unlike Yvonne, I don't even consider responsibilities to "those who will have to sort through our stuff when we're gone." We invested a lot of time and money in raising Bruce; he can damnwell pay back by clearing out the mess here. Besides, he wants to have first crack at most of the stuff.

GEG 81 - Commiserations on the heart attack. Can't compare with mine; I blacked out shortly after Juanita got me to the hospital, and was over it by the time I woke up. The later tests at Indianapolis took more time; our little hospital couldn't do them.

I recently was asked to do material on Jackie Causgrove because she died and Poul Anderson (because he hasn't?). Jackie's was hard because when we knew her she was Jackie Franke and we hadn't heard or seen much of her for the last 20 years. Poul's was hard because weren't exactly intimate with him and have only seen him a few times at cons. But I got something done on both of them; if they aren't too good, blame the editors for asking me.

Geg 82 - Sounds like you're on the way to becoming a hermit. It's not a bad life except Juanita insists on dragging me out of it....

Health is a gift I never had, so I don't miss it. Early problems were only allergies, but being unable to breathe is a nasty enough problem, even if non-fatal. I always knew that all I needed to do was relax and breath would come, but just try to relax when you can't breathe.....

We never quit going to conventions; needed the money from huckstering for bill-paying. Last one was DeepSouthCon in Birmingham, AL, where we were Fan Guests. Tucker was toast-master. It was about a 600-mile drive each way. Michael Bishop was pro guest and so pleasant that I'll have to try one of his books again.... Nice convention, though smaller than we expected - and a southern fan said it was larger than usual. Nice little con, though pleasant people . Only a few that I knew; some former fanzine editors I'd sent material to, Toni Weiskopf of Baen Books, Tucker, of course, and one or two others. Hotel had gone downhill from the last time we were there, years ago for a Birmingham con. I was speculating with another fan on whether the stack of used paper towels in the men's room would get high enough to blocK the paper towel dispenser, but then the urinals overflowed and the room was cleaned up. Juanita drove all the way down, over my protests, and most of the way back.

Just received a review copy of Turtledove's World War: American Front. Huge thick book -- and the first of 4 book series. Good, though, as far as I've read. When I see a Turtledove book I always wish that he wasn't so wordy, but so far I've always enjoyed them while I was reading. (And reading ... and reading.... ) I should finish it sometime this month.

Aside from shedding a few bushels of hair, Elli the dog is doing well and getting some spirit back. One year of abuse before we got her; two years now of rehabilitation. I still shudder at what she must have gone through before we got her. (Well, before the animal shelter got her; they're kind enough to animals.) Actually barking and chasing things; Outdoors; that is. She never barks in the house. Even when she wants out, she conveys the idea silently. Very intelligent dog; she gets her ideas across by a sort of canine pantomime which is quite effective.

Bob Smith

37 St Johns Road, Bradbury NSW 2560
9 January 1998 Geg 81 received on the 7th, and I hope you are having a comfortable and speedy recovery. Whether you look at it that way or not, its a new lease on life, and I hope you heed that warning...

Only in Fandom could you create a front page like that, and I guess its a reminder that fandom is a "family" and a rather unique gathering. Of course, with e-mail most of the fannish world knew with the speed of light, as you say; with me it took a slightly longer. I had just got used to reading about you in a newszine when Geg 81 arrived! You would be well advised to listen to your fannish friends...

I had to grin and chuckle at the description of your heart attack; ghoddammit, Eric, it reads like a typical Lindsay convention report! The only differences were drug name-dropping instead of fannish name-dropping, replacing food fancies were things being stuck into you, and all the high- tech had little to do with computers! I'm on 18mg of Cartia, and if you think its "just aspirin" try dropping a load uncoated aspirin into yer stomach! I would be curious to know what books you read while incarcerated...?

If I were you I'd hit the trail to Airlie Beach RSN, and learn to relax...

Your trip report was interesting, readable ... and exhausting. Some names I remember, others I'm not sure if they are the parents of or the children. Serves me right for gafiating, doesn't it?) Your simple paragraph has persuaded me to go see the film version of Contact. I know the book had faults, but that hasn't stopped me enjoying it. Your frequent mention of computer matters and problems usually has a curious effect on me: I tend to pull down from the shelves personal references to solving computational problems pre-electronic. Richard Feynman's time at Los Alamos; the fascinating equipment for code-breaking at Bletchley Park; Alan Turing's adventures in the US in 1944, and so on...

You have certainly had your own Ano Horribilus in the year we have just left, and I sincerely wish you well in 1999.

Sean McMullen

28/ 1 /98

We are finally coming out of the trough with our Christmas mailing, and if you think we took a long time getting around to you, the truth is that you were actually pretty high on the list.

The writeup on your heart attack was pretty impressive, in fact it's quite a good guide to the subject for beginners. I suppose all that I would add is that the blood pressure factor can sneak up on you. All through my 20s and 30s I had no problems at all, but a few years ago I decided to participate in a lifestyles-and-cancer risks survey. The nurse pointed out that I was on the high side of normal. I was surprised, but had just come out of a rather stressful technical meeting so I thought it just an aberration. I bought a blood pressure monitor but did not use it much. A few months later I was just back from Perth's natcon, was in the middle of Phase 2 of renovations to the front of the house, and was sweeping the drive on a Saturday morning after a high-powered radio interview. I started to have dizzy spells and found my blood pressure to be about 160/100.

That was the end of all doubts. I did some reading and discovered that blood pressure in the 140/90 or higher range in one's 40s can lead (if left untested) to strokes and heart attacks in one's 60s and 70s. I began giving my GP a hard time until he ran a really exhaustive series of tests and put me on quinapril hydrochloride -- which is apparently derived from the English adder (not an asp) and softens the artery walls after prolonged treatment.

It turns out that I, like you, had stress as a factor, and that karate was not doing me much good. I was so senior in the club that I was spending more time examining and instructing than actually training myself. Now I am jogging, karate and gym, as well as getting more sleep and giving a few unnecessary commitments the boot. That has got me down to about 130/80, but I also have a genetic predisposition to high blood pressure so I have to be careful. I also straightened out my diet, which was pretty healthy to begin with, and found that after you have been off a lot of the more harmful foods for a while they actually lose their appeal. Coffee was the hardest, and I still have a cup or two per week as a special reward.

One pretty common problem was people saying "If you don't have a problem, why are you doing all this?" I generally reply that I am a certified hypochondriac and that this is my way of keeping happy. Explaining about investing in the future is generally a bit intellectual for most people.

Over the past year I have produced about 250,000 words, with the tail end of the Encyclopedia, most of the History, and two novels, but I now make sure that I do not let myself get sucked into unrealistic deadlines -- and if I end up missing one I do not get too worked up about it. Deadlines and commitments are a bit like sex: if you want to stay out of trouble, just say no.

The rest of the family is following the trend too -- except for the cat, who is a bit overweight. Catherine won four medals at the swimming championships in December, thanks to actually training last year. Trish has been going to the local women's gym for about five months, and has become quite addicted to having all that exercise in her routine.

Anyway, I had better get back to all the other letters that I have to send out. Good fortune to you with your recovery and new lifestyle, and to Jean with her eye surgery recovery.

John Alderson

Havelock, VIC 3465

Well, join the club...the one of blameless young fellows with no wicked vices like smoking or eating MacDonalds yet with a heart condition. I know several. Some months ago I visited Merv Binns in Melbourne, arranging to meet Noel Kerr there. Merv has just married [Helena] Roberts ... why can't I remember that lass's name. She attends cons dressed very conservatively and was married to a photographer. Well Merv and Noel sent a lovely half hour or more discussion their operations before they spent an hour on fishing and at the end of the hour hadn't got to the cooking stage.

Anyrate mine was disconcerting enough. I thought I was suffering from indigestion and this day had even got to buying some Quickeze and I am walking up to my friends place and the Quickeze didn't help the pain and when I got there I took some bi-carbonate of soda and when that didn't help I got him to run me to hospital (my bad typing I attribute to the wretched medication I am on). There they seemed more concerned than I was and my little friend (he was 4 at the time and thinks the world of me...he's even written a poem about me) was terribly distressed but I assured him I was not going to die. I had had an angina attack. I spent a week in hospital and a little later another week with another angina attack, and later again I had an actual heart attack which however did not damage the heart. I had an angiogram and my arteries are all right and there was some partial blockage in my heart. So I've been put on ghastly medicine which is burning my guts out, affecting my eyesight, making my hair brittle, making me put on weight, and making me hellish tired. Now I have been ordered another angiogram in the hope that my condition has not got worse or even better. If I am not worse they aren't going to do anything.

Actually, whilst I am taking their vile stuff I am also taking herbal cures.

So today I did some concrete work, using a whole bag of cement and tonight I haven't felt better for eight months. The doctor by the way, regards me as his most difficult patient! {{Why John, I can't imagine why a doctor would think you a difficult patient! EL}}

However, like yourself I have started to put my house in order. I am putting in the keeping of the Carisbrook historical Society my entire book collection, my art collection, my collection of antiques, my archives (historical papers), my fanzine collection, my coins, my antique tools and so forth and hopefully in 20-25 years I should have it organised for them. They on their part expect to build a building part archive in which to store them. Actually I am not as un-organised as this may sound. Within this last week or so I was offered a man's collection of Council material, himself a Councillor for about 15 years but before that he used to attend their meetings and tape the proceedings. The Commission (or the staff) wiped all the Council proceedings when they took over. I gather his stuff is a small ute-load.

My biggest worry was to find an heir to my property but that finally has been decided upon. Also my family, or at least some of them know what I am doing so it will not be any shock to them to find themselves with only a necklace or so.

As a result of my illness my 70th birthday was a bit of a fiasco. It actually fell on the night of the Historical Society meeting and the President happened to mention that there was to be a casserole tea, but my friends had promised me a birthday supper before I went to the meeting, which, as they were broke they put off until the following Friday. So I missed that supper, got to the Society's meeting when the dinner was over to find it was a surprise party for me! So I missed that one, took an angina attack there that night and next morning had the heart attack so I was in hospital and missed the birthday party promised. But I am hoping my 75th is better organised. Incidentally I hate surprise parties.

Oh well ... oh, I have worked out why I have a heart problem I have a back injury between the shoulder blades which has given me liver trouble and diaphragm troubles and now I believe heart problems. But it's not the end of the world,

The saddest thing I think was that during my last stay in hospital my brother-in-law died of a stroke. He was a friend as well as a relation, and also my best and oldest friend died of a stroke and was buried the same day and I could get to neither funeral.

John Tipper

PO Box 487, Strathfield NSW 2135, Australia
February 4, 1998

Thanks for the copy of Gegenschein 81 - and belated 5lst birthday greetings! My 50th is coming up on March 7 and I wouldn't be surprised if it passes by without comment. I'd intended coming up to your January 24 event early on but never made it. Barbara travelled down from Woodford and picked me up some excellent books though, so many thanks for the invitation. She tells me you have a lot of shelving which I could probably use if it still remains; maybe I could call in if it suits you, to have a look.

I've just this week put my house up for sale. Well, considering the hassle it looks like being, maybe I should write that I've started things rolling, hoping to get out of Bankstown before the end of the year. I've been in the house all of my life, said house having been built by my grandfather back in the late 1920s. I guess leaving it will be pretty traumatic. Argh! Similarly, I have a lot of books, maybe 5000 plus 10,000 magazines. A lot are going with me as I'm now operating as a mail order bookseller (averaging one sale a month if I'm lucky). Still, I will try to sell off what I can.

My likely course of action will be to put the books into self-storage for a time. I want to rent at first, almost certainly up your way, for a number of reasons. Most of my friends live west of Penrith, our web site is on the Penrith library server and of course I love the mountains - except when it's cold. Nice thought, to live in the mountains in Summer and on the coast in Winter.

I could go on at length but thought I'd put this in the mail now before putting it aside for another week and more.

Bob Smith

37 St Johns Road, Bradbury NSW 2580
June 26, 1998

Geg 82 received a few days ago, and congratulations on taking that Big Step away from the rat race! From your health point of view, its probably the best idea you ever had, and you might conceivably make it to the binary millennium. If you behave yourself. "Going North" has a lovely ring to it, I feel.

All these things you are getting away from will certainly leave time for luxurious loafing and deep philosophical thinks, although some of your friends who have become almost organic extensions of their computer world may feel you have gone too far. In a few years time you'll be able to write your own version of "Seachange."

In the past few days I have had my own (minor) experience with loved ones and hospital techniques. Lyn fell over on the Wednesday (24th), thought she just strained her ankle but x rays showed a fracture, and at this precise moment in time she is flat on her back in Campbelltown hospital recovering from having a plate put in her foot and sporting an enormous cast. She will be on crutches for six weeks, and as she is the main bread-winner it brings up some nervous financial problems.

Carrying anything is a no-no, old son.

I enjoyed reading all your book reviews. The local library had just received Gore Vidal's The Smithsonian Institution (Little, Brown,1998), and I was first to take it out. I certainly wouldn't have paid the RRP of $35 for this slimmish volume of 260 odd pages, but it does have public figures zipping back and forth through time, space and alternate universes (FDR looses the election and William Jennings Bryan is President; Lt. Col. Douglas MacArthur is a traitor broadcasting from the Japanese Islands; and WWII does and doesn't happen, etc.!), and therefore is questionable science fiction. Haven't seen any mention of it in fannish circles, tho. It reads like some of that crazy Heinlein, where everybody is related to everybody, and indeed the dialogue reminds me of Heinlein. Its all bound up with Vidal's politics and his view of the American Scene, and there is some great characterisation and sly humour. But ... it ain't the Gore Vidal I am comfortable with via the likes of Messiah and Visit to a Small Planet and his non-fictional writing. Ghod! Vidal even throws in a reference to the "sleeve job" which I haven't seen since last climbing out of G. Legman's Rationale of The Dirty Joke (Jonathan Cape,1968)! A volume of curiosity to the likes of Smith, Harding, Foyster and Bangsund back in those dear days of yore...

There is no doubt you have many warm friends Out There, so I imagine Fandom will always be with you at Airlie Beach...

Harry Cameron Andruschak

PO Box 5309, Torrance, CA USA 90510-5309
5 July 1998

This letter is an acknowledgment of a pile of Gegenscheins 80-82, Eric's announcement of his heart attack, and your COA. All news to me, which shows you how much out of fannish loops I am. It arrived some time ago but I have been short of time myself. This has nothing to do with fanac. Heck, I might as well call myself a gafiate and be done with it. I just seem to have had a second wind in Alcoholics Anonymous and a lot of my spare time is at the local AA office to answer the telephones.

(Well, I did get to 14 years sobriety on 24 February 1998. I do feel an ethical [not moral] obligation to AA for this, and phone work is something I can handle. That AA anniversary, by the way, was spent on the 9 masted barquentine MANDALAY sailing in the Caribbean Islands and two days later we saw the solar eclipse, 3 minutes 18 seconds of totality. Gosh wow boy-o-boy.)

Though I do wish so many male fans would not get heart attacks. I am due for one myself. At age 54 I am the ONLY male on my father's side of the family NOT to have had a heart attack or stroke. My brother, two years younger, had his two years ago. For most fans, the risk factors are probably overweight and lack of exercise. In my case, I may have gone this far without a heart attack due to an aggressive prescription for medications against high blood pressure, including beta blockers with unfortunate side effects.

I note from Gegenschein #82 that Eric is dropping a lot of stuff. I have done without TV since 1985 and without movies since 1989, I am not on the internet at all. I do read the LA Times newspaper every day, and read magazines at the local libraries. But most of my reading now is non-fiction, mostly history. I read what little SF and fantasy arrives at the libraries but it isn't much. But I play a lot of the game Diplomacy by mail.

Moving on to Gegenschein 81 I read for the first time about the 1997 Ditto and realize that it did take place. I had paid for a supporting membership at the 1996 Ditto but received no progress reports or program book. Still haven't. Good to read that a 1998 Ditto will take place, even if I cannot attend that either.

I mentioned my two week sailing vacation last February? Have a 3 week trip to Turkey scheduled for this November, and a three week trip to China in April 1999, both with Go-Ahead vacations, an outfit with a good reputation.

I don't know what else to write about at the moment, especially as it is bedtime. My doctor (female, black) insists I get 8 hours sleep a night.

Anyhow, thanks for the material, and I will not be expecting a WWW or GEG to arrive quickly. I assume some time will be needed to all the incidentals of moving in, settling down, getting adjusted to new routines, and whatever. Don't hope for a zine from me. I do occasional articles and LOCs for FOSFAX and a few other zines but that seems to be my energy limit. Another side effect of my beta blockers.

John Tipper

PO Box 487, Strathfield NSW 2135
July 8, 1998

Greetings. Thanks for Geg 82. I hope by the time this reaches you everything is on track for the big move north. At least I was finally able to meet you both at the garage sale. Hope the angioplast solved your problem. There couldn't be anything worse than NOT finding something definite where the heart is concerned. Barbara's mother has been getting the runaround, suffering from chest pains and dizzy spells. She's done all the tests but the best the specialists can come up with is: "Well, you are getting on, yes, your arteries aren't as they should be, but what do you expect?" And so on. She's early 70s but fit otherwise. She thinks they simply don't believe her and this dims her usually bright optimism.

Best of luck with your desire to get away from newspapers, phones, media sf, photocopying, email and the Internet. I rarely buy a paper but admit to skimming someone else's old copies for any information which could prove useful for our Net site. And I read 'Fred Basset'. Doubt if I could do without a phone, though. Media sf, via the TV, likewise. It's my one escape. I don't go to movies. Photocopiers are a loss-making exercise these days. It would be cheaper for me to do all my copying at Officeworks for 5c a copy. It costs me close to 1Oc a copy buying toner, paper and maintaining the service contract on my machine. If I could sell it, I would. Email I use when up at Barbara's, likewise the Internet. As I now run online book catalogues, I couldn't do without either. But I don't need them at home. Not just yet, anyway. I used to dream of moving to somewhere like your destination, somewhere I could sit down without interruptions and finish my novel (the one I started a decade ago and have only half a dozen pages written) but doubt it will ever happen.

Alexis A. Gilliland

4030 8th Street South, Arlington, VA 22204
July 9, 1998

Your packet of stuff (moving notice, substitute Christmas letter and Gegenscheins #80, 81, and 82) duly arrived via slow boat from Melbourne or wherever. I guess if you don't have e-mail, the way you transport your hard copy doesn't matter. I may have seen your heart attack mentioned in Ansible, but I'm glad to get a first hand report that you are on the road to recovery. Probably it was stress what done it, mate. Just reading about your activities prior to the event made me want to lie down. Getting away from trains, planes, automobiles, e-mail, beepers, telephones, fanzines, newspapers and the internet may the right thing to do in each individual case, but taken en masse and all together would seem a little extreme.

On the cover page of #81 I see all these 50-somethings fretting about their mortality, as if it shouldn't be happening to them. Ah well, at age 67 I have been going in to see the doctor yearly, and taking my blood pressure at home for some time now. I couldn't use the regular cuff and stethoscope, because my hearing loss gave a false reading on the diastolic pressure, 140/ 125--which is alarming--instead 140/90 which is merely at the high edge of normal. So I went out and got one of those computerized pressure cuffs which gives you the numbers on an LCD. The little sucker works just fine. It even tells you when its batteries need to be replaced, and throws in the pulse rate for good measure. Using it enabled me to go off the vasotec the doctor prescribed while keeping a close eye on the condition of my hypertension. So far, so good.

People do accumulate junk (I still have the manual cuff and stethoscope in a drawer) and to accommodate their need to put it somewhere, there are companies which rent storage space. Which is fine if you're moving to another city, but a perpetual drain on your resources if you're moving from a house to an apartment. An old army joke is that three moves equals one fire, reflecting on the mortality of our materiel. Except for the sentimental value, ending really might be better than mending. In WW II there was this slogan: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, Or do without." Not really appropriate to the current needs of our hyper-affluent society.

What else? Disclave got cancelled this year, which is a long story, possibly available at There is a Worldcon coming up in Baltimore next month, which I expect to attend. My son, Charles, got hit by a car at Balticon 31, last year. Nothing serious, fortunately; he was on crutches for about a month, and used a cane for a bit longer, but is now pretty much back to normal. His grandfather, Kohlman Cohle, died this spring at age 94. We went up to Harrisburg for the funeral. That should do for now.

Bob Smith

37 St Johns Road, Bradbury NSW 2560 July 14,1998

What? Another Geg already? The Airlie Beach Post Office will wonder what has hit `em. Does this now officially make you a Queensland fan, or do you prefer to be known as the "wandering Lindsay"?

Not a great deal to comment on this ish, but I guess a letter-column has now become a vague, futuristic and too much work for a hedonistic lotus-eater lulled by the Queensland sun. Just as well, perhaps, not much to spend too much space on. (Probably Bowen or Proserpine is the closest I might come to your current abode, almost exactly thirty years ago)

Didn't get much joy out of your trip report, and I imagine pages 5 thru 8 were aimed at your overseas fannish cousins who presumably are fascinated by what those weird Aussies get up to? Most Australians are familiar with the "news" items you bring up, and I dare say fed up with it all. I don't particularly agree with your description of One Nation, but in your own fanzine you are entitled to your opinion. I don't care for politics in fanzines, incidentally. Make that pages 5 thru 9...

Always enjoy your book reviews, but I am wondering why for the third time in commenting on a fanzine I have to get defensive about Sphere. I have read and enjoyed my Guild edition regularly over the past ten years, and as I pointed out someplace else are we expecting too much from a readable sf yam these days? I find it entertaining and thought-provoking (yeah!!), quite aware of its faults and Mr. Crichton's bread-and-butter possible film script motives, does something for me. My attitude is, when you have shelves of science fiction, probably covering the significant periods, then you dips into what you fancy, and to hell with critics!

I note that you ask the question: doesn't anyone write science fiction anymore? That begs all kinds of answers (which I'm sure you will receive!), but its probably the reason I tend to slip into the sf past for satisfaction. It may appear sentimental, but there is a warm, comfortable "atmosphere" connected with science fiction of yesteryear: we relate to remembered pb covers and prozines, and perhaps good times and stimulating communication with fellow enthusiasts. It now takes too long to sort out the ordinary from the extraordinary or the borderline fantasy that swamps the reader. As a reasonably ancient individual, I'm afraid my cry is: there's too much of everything!

The electronic mail information on the back page made little sense to me, I'm afraid; and just as you may have little time for the telephone, then Lyn and I having no desire to "link" our computer(s) with e-mail and the Internet might just be understood...

E B Frohvet

How many lawyers does it take to change a light bulb? (Answer in the customary place.)

Wow. It looks as if you are determined that I should have a complete run of Gegenschein, or at least as many issues as you have back copies of. This generosity is much appreciated. The back numbers will be read -- are being read -- as I find time. What strikes me most is your trip/convention reports, which give me a sense of the universality of fandom. (And of the pitiful smallness of my place in it, but that's another subject...) Some of the techno-talk, admittedly, is over my head; I tend to use the simplest technology that will get the job done.

I have also enjoyed your book reviews; at some later date I must go back over the entire run with a yellow highliter, taking notes on good books I may have overlooked. I have been criticized because my reviews, typically two paragraphs, are "too short", and cited you as a reference. The point is to give the reader some brief idea of what the book is like, not to analyze it in detail. (That is what articles are for.)

Your comments about the expense of postage puzzled me until I deduced from other comments that your mailing list must be in excess of 200, much of that in the U.S. My mailing cost is typically (printed matter rate/air mail) US$2.16 to Europe and US$2.65 to Australia/New Zealand. But my mailing list to Europe is fewer than 20, and my last mailing to Australia/New Zealand was, I believe, 5 copies. This is not an unbearable strain on the exchequer. On one occasion, the clerk at the Post Office got into such a rhythm ringing up $2.16 that my Aust/N.Z. copies were sent at that rate -- and delivered! I noticed it at the time but figured it was their responsibility to ring up the correct rates, not mine. {{Yes, about 200 copies to the USA. I went to my 14 page size to keep postage down to $1 seamail and $2.50 air, knowing that many "seamail" zines were sent by air. Now I don't have a salary, keeping costs even lower seems my only reasonable action. EL}}

The Corflu, I believe it was, where Rotsler was drawing on the plates: Were those real (ceramic) plates or paper plates? If the former, I would have thought the hotel would take a dim view of that, unless Bill was careful to use a water-soluble ink that would wash off easily, like those water-soluble "tattoos" that children use. {{The ceramic plates weren't much of a problem - the fans stole the plates as fast as Bill drew on them! At cons after that, fans were more responsible, and brought in their own supplies of paper plates (in bulk) for Bill to draw on. EL}}

A: Six. One to change the bulb, four to look up the precedents, and one to file the appeal on behalf of the old bulb.

Cuyler W. `Ned' Brooks Jr

4817 Dean Lane, Lilburn GA 30047-4720
July 28,1998

The Gegenschein 80-82 and the COA sheet came in the mail today, to my mother's house. I am now at the new address

4817 Dean Lane, Lilburn GA 30047-4720

Good to hear from you. I have been here most of July, trying to unpack and sort out the 50,000 lbs I brought from Virginia. I have a website up

Sorry to hear about all your disasters. I lost 20 lbs from the stress of retiring and packing all my stuff, but otherwise my health seems unaffected. I really didn't want to hear about the skylights - this place has three of them. It had a roof-leak problem when I bought it, but that seems to have been fixed.

I love that about the sky-diving will - I wonder what those signatures looked like! Enjoyed the book reviews. The Rankin book you mention sounds much like one I tried to read a few years ago.

I can remember good hamburgers - when I was in college I used to go to a place called 7 Steers that had wonderful hamburgers. The accursed MacDonalds lowered the standards of the entire industry. I don't eat hamburgers now, though there is a place in Newport News that has a great Greek hamburger steak. I haven't found any decent eating places here yet, but then I generally take one meal a day with my mother and sister. My mother is 89 and doesn't cook a lot, but my sister is a good cook.

I may have some duplicate Dunsany if Yvonne Rousseau still wants it when I get it all unpacked. Odd to think of a fan getting rid of all his Stuff as you seem to be doing. I never had but the one job, and the main benefit of it was to enable me to get the stuff, I'm certainly not going to get rid of it now that I am retired... I want to finish indexing the fanzines, and I like having the books to refer to. I seem to have about 10,000, currently packed in 400 boxes - I am setting up the bookcases so I can unpack them.

Last I heard here, the butter substitutes may be worse for you than butter - I never bothered which I used, but I use very little of either. {{I found it easier just to avoid using any spreads on bread, so I no longer buy butter or margarine. I do sometimes use houmos as a base for other items in a sandwich or on crackers. I only have cheese as a very special treat, so I tend to have crackers with houmos and gherkins as a substitute snack with a glass of wine. Sigh! I miss the days when I'd have a nice Mersey Valley vintage cheese on crackers, and a slab of pate, with tomato and lettuce on toast with my wine, and maybe end it with a glass of port. EL}}

You and Jean can crash here any time. Lilburn is a distant bedroom suburb of Atlanta. Actually Lilburn is just the mailing address, I am in the southern corner of Gwinnett County, just beyond Stone Mountain. I could reach downtown Atlanta (if there were any reason to go there) in less than an hour - as long as it wasn't during the gruesome rush-hour traffic period. Speed limits here are 10 mph higher than the same sort of street would be in Virginia, and the natives drive another 10 mph faster than that.

I agree with you about TV. About all I have watched since I got here are weird foreign movies that my sister and I rented. And I wanted to see Wise Blood again - it was just as bizarre as I remembered.

If your e-mail has become doubtful, perhaps I should send this by airmail as well... I will get your new address into the IGOTS mailing list.

Chester D. Cuthbert

1104 Mulvey Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. R3M 1J5
August 9, 1998

Your Moving Daze, I Owed You A Letter, and Gegenscheins 80, 81 and 82 arrived by Sea Mail some time ago and I owe you an apology for failing to thank you before now.

How you manage your jobs, your travelling, and your publishing and do so much reading that you can provide concise book reviews is a continuing marvel for a sluggard like me.

I do have some excuses: family meetings, re-reading books wanted by dealers and collectors, who seem to want only great books with which I would not part if age did not prompt me to dispose of them for useful cash.

Incidentally, your distributing your books so generously is shocking to me because my collection has supplemented my income ever since I retired over thirty years ago. Surely you may need someday the money your collection would provide. {{To bring much money, a collection would have to be disposed of in a leisurely fashion, and most likely outside Australia. Once I knew I was moving, that simply wasn't an option. We had the contents of two homes, and mine was two floors, 24 squares, and what we took had to fit in three rooms, and it had to be done within a few months (and at a time when I was still recovering from the heart attack). Better to give away fanzine, and often accept trivial prices for books, than to throw it out. EL}}

Having quit collecting five years ago, your reviews give me an idea of current publishing and the kind of material that is absorbing the attention of modern readers.

Years ago I used to buy reviewers' copies of books from a second-hand book dealer whose shop was directly across the street from the Winnipeg Free Press; the reviewers used to trade or sell the books they received. These were usually first editions in excellent condition. Unfortunately, the editor who usually re- viewed the science fiction books collected them, so I got none of those.

I hope that you are now well settled in your new home and that your future will be happy and prosperous.

Bob Smith

37 St Johns Road, Bradbury NSW 2560
20 August, 1998

Just a short note to thank you for the postcard. It certainly looks like pleasant part of the world to dwell in, and I'm sure most of Fandom envy you and Jean.

Actually, I think the film was called "Travelling North" but no matter; dear old Leo McKern and Graham Kennedy, I think, and a very relaxed North Queensland lush atmosphere.

Did I ever tell you that Margaret Riep (nee Oliver) sent us a card after seeing my LoC in an earlier Geg? Hadn't seen Margaret since Syncon II (1972), so we rang her. Great to hear her voice. {{Bob and Margaret sometimes turn up for an hour or two at Thylacon. We have managed to visit with them most times we visit Tasmania. EL}}

Well, I hadn't read any Vidal fiction for years, but The Smithsonian Institution seemed different. Talking of books from the Library, ours is about to put the MUP Encyclopedia of Australian Science Fiction on its reference shelf, and Bruce Gillespie wants me to check his article on Aussie Fandom. A bit vague on the period 1958 - 1966, apparently. Ah...them were the days!

I am in contact with The Futurians, but quite frankly they seem a trifle too sercon for me. I know what I like to read and enjoy, and that's all that matters. (I've recently had a dig at John Hertz of Varamonde for being too literature-conscious about science fiction, but I suspect he ignores criticism)

I can appreciate your printing problems, but I doubt Lyn and I will rush on to the Internet just to read Geg. What will you do about ANZAPA? {{I run off 30 copies of a double sided page of mailing comments on the printer - which costs less than photocopying. It isn't an ideal solution - the printer is unhappy about double sided pages. EL}}

I must be making some kind of impression in fanzine fandom, because out of the blue came Bruce Gillespie's latest The Metaphysical Review, a nice letter, brg 21, and some photos! {{We all remember you from the old days, I suspect. EL}}

Lastly, what happened to those photo sheets I sent Jean? {{Sent to Aussiecon, in the hope they have an historic display like most Worldcons. EL}}

John J. Alderson

P.O. Box 72, Maryborough, Vic 3465

Many thanks for the various Gegenscheins you have sent me, your trip report was interesting enough. I haven't been to the States, and it might seem strange, I have no wish to go.

Well like yourself I've had my heart problems, suddenly out of the blue. Always a non-smoker, no (successful) interest in women, moderate eater of the best home-grown foods and I haven't driven a car on the highway for at least six years.

But I did have a back injury and a neck injury and I think some very severe work I did prior to my first angina attacks somehow caused the trouble, particularly in getting the liver to produce too much cholesterol. I had a stent put in and felt on top of the world for some weeks until the doctor insisted I take some of his drugs. It took three days to undo all the work of the operation and though I stopped the drugs I have not been able to repair the damage. Only for taking anti-stroke medication I would probably either have died or ended up a vegetable. My G.P. is not happy that now I insist on being my own doctor. {{The advances in treatment for heart conditions are now such that you would be better advised to seek a second opinion and different treatment, rather than drop all drugs. They really do have some good handles on the side effects of the drugs these days - although I grant not all doctors seem to be equally up to date. EL}}

Actually the doctors have a wonderful set-up. One must have a G.P. to enter or remain in the Health System. They must prescribe the drugs (at $25-30 per time), and I attend the bastard every month to get my blood pressure checked (for which he gets paid about thirty dollars). He sees at least a dozen patients per hour at that rate.

So, details of the G.S.T. are available. The poor pay an extra 10% that the rich may receive an extra 7%. Mind you, I have a lot of time for the filthy rich. I once had ambitions of joining their ranks.

Harry Cameron Andruschak

PO Box 5309, Torrance, CA, USA 90510-5309
1 February 1999

I was on vacation 17-30 January, again sailing on the S/V MANDALAY in the Caribbean. As usual, I had a huge pile of mail awaiting me, including Gegenschein 83, your 1998 notes, and a short personal note to me.

Note first...I am still sober, and should have no problems making 15 years of sobriety on 24 February. Less then 10% of AA make it that far, alas. However, I am one of the very very few in AA who choose to take antabuse, this with my doctor's blessing.

1998 NOTES: In all honesty, I was SHOCKED when you mentioned the cost of printing at 20 cents a side. OK, even if in Australian funny money, that IS a lot. So yes, I can understand and fully accept that Gegenschein 83 is the last of the printed version.

And yes, it is all my fault that I am so unwilling to get on-line, although sooner or later it will happen. I do have a computer, but it is a clunky 486 without Windows, without internet access, and without a web browser. I can certainly read floppy disks in some sort of simple ASCII format. This letter to you, for example, is being typed on the old DOS EDIT program. About as simple as it comes and quite adequate for my limited use. So sending a simple DOS .TXT file would be adequate for my use. {{Did you realise that my web pages, and my printed fanzines could both be done using DOS Edit? EL}}

By this time I am sure you and Jean and every other civilized fan are wondering when I will get on-line, with a proper power-house of a system complete with 256 MB RAM, Pentium II, 56K Modem. Not sure. Inertia. I work 6 days a week and have an outside life and am not sure if I would have the time for all that.

I suppose what I really need is some sort of fannish computer consultant who would take my money, wait for me to go on another vacation, and when I came back there was the system, set up and ready to go. But I have been GAFIA from local fandom for 6+ years.

I suppose I will just await until this antique system breaks down beyond recall and I am FORCED to get a new computer system.

Chester D. Cuthbert

1104 Mulvey Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3M 1J5
February 3, 1999

The envelope enclosing Gegenschein 83 and The Last Gegenschein? was postmarked 25 Jan 1999 and although it bore a SEA MAIL sticker was received by me yesterday with Mimosa 23 from Nicki and Richard Lynch postmarked Jan 30 1999 and a letter from Fred H. Schutz in Germany 26-1-99., I answered Fred's letter yesterday, but did not finish reading the two fanzines until this afternoon. There was no mail today, so I am able to express my regret that there will be no future paper version of your fanzine unless subscriptions are made.

The industry, ability and generosity of fanzine publishers are a revelation to me as a reader and collector of fantasy and science fiction literature who has never attended a convention and whose INTEREST IN ALMOST ANYTHING BUT THE PRINTED WORD IS MINIMAL. Yet I have learned from fanzine articles much about the books which books about the subject: have not taught me. I do not possess a VCR or a computer, have never owned or driven a car, and use a typewriter only because economic pressures forced me to do so. Machines scare me, and at age 86 I avoid them as much as possible.

My involvement in fandom has been marked by longevity rather than activity because family and business responsibilities had to receive priority. Since my retirement over thirty years ago I have been enjoying the library I accumulated while working and fanzines which continued to arrive. I have not sought more fanzines because I do not have time adequately to study and comment on those I get.

Recently I spent nearly a week scanning fanzines on behalf of two correspondents, one in England, the other in New York State. I purchased a few collections of fanzines and have' ancient material not easily accessible to these correspondents. For instance, I have an autograph booklet containing the signatures of 23 people who at- tended the fourth annual MICHICON held at SLAN SHACK June 17-18, 1944, and a number of hektographed fanzines.

But I have at least 100 books awaiting immediate attention and must cut down on fanzine reading. How you manage to travel, work and publish book reviews perceptive and concise amazes me; likely I am a slow reader. I quit collecting books six years ago, so am un- likely to read any of those books you reviewed, but at least you have given me information about what is currently published.

I hope your health will enable you to continue to enjoy fandom and the internet. Many thanks for the benefits you have granted me.

E B Frohvet

Thank you for G#82. On receiving your COA I did look up Airlie Beach in the atlas, and it does seem to be a million (okay, several hundred) miles from anywhere. If it's what you like, then enjoy! I am accustomed to suburban life but I could live in a smallish town if it had the necessities of life -- e.g. a nice large book store, preferably with a coffee bar. (So, I like my cappuccino: there are worse vices...)

I could live without a telephone, were it not for the case of my ageing mother, who tends to panic on what seems to me little provocation. And like yourself, I have at times gone to multiplex cinemas, found nothing I could imagine wanting to see, and gone away again. The last film I paid to see was _As Good _As _It Gets: worth seeing once just for Helen Hunt's performance.

In the U.S., almost all income is taxable including specifically inheritance and gambling winnings. If you win over a certain amount at the race track or the casino -- don't know the exact figure, a few thousand they take out gross taxes on the spot before you get your winnings. (On lotteries, if the announced prize is, say, $1 million, they don't give the winner $I million; not even $1 million less taxes. What they do is buy an annuity from an insurance company that pays, typically, $50,000 a year for 20 years in steadily devaluing $. Less taxes.)

In any honest casino, there's a breakage to the house; but proverbially the break to the house is highest (25-30%) on slot machines. Even assuming the machines are honestly, slots are a sucker's bet. Your chances are better on roulette or blackjack, assuming you know the odds. If Jean wins regularly on slots, even small change, then she must just be lucky.

It's not unusual to see elderly people in a public place with an oxygen tank. Usually they have emphysema.

Bob Smith

Thank you for Gegenschein 84, and nice to know you are still in there fanpubbing. You are probably aware of the rotten weather Sydney has been experiencing - bad storms and freezing southerlies - so our envious eyes are cast your way, of course. Luverly little opening to your zine, and the oft-quoted Dorothy Parker quote was most appropriate. Yes, I suspect the image of a one hundred percent relaxed, retired Eric Lindsay up thar in the tropical north is too much to expect; but I was the same when I finished work - always something had to be done!

"Due North" made for interesting and exhausting reading, and the Bundaberg Rum song was delightful (Lyn was born in Nambour, and a rum drinker when we first met)

You set off around dawn for your walk? Even when I was in Townsville I was never that crazy. Do I take it Jean doesn't play music, for example, via her computer(s)? Your descriptions of life there are tantalising, for I think it will be a cold winter down here.

Your article and update on "Green Power" was stimulating and thought-provoking, but isn't it a mere drop in the bucket in comparison with what really could be done?

Interesting concept you raise in paragraph two of your "Year 2000 Bug." And a rather chilling thought that there may be no-one left alive involved in those early years. (I can see why you call this a science fiction fanzine!) Part of the material Lyn receives in her capacity of Records Management Systems is from the Technology and Industry Standards Committee Reports, and some of the reports - apart from the mind-boggling cost! - relating to Y2K are eye-openers. The general public, via their normal and slightly insane media, don't even receive the tip of the iceberg. Its quite extraordinary that Homo Sap has gotten itself into this situation.

As an ex-radio ham the importance of earthing could never be over-estimated. It was, in those days, a fascinating subject all of its own. I found your article equally fascinating, and a reminder of how things electrical have changed.

I am tempted by the Bear and Benford books, but the prices turn me off. I agree with your opening comments on current sf books. (You wanna know what I am reading at present? After hearing of possible enormous planets around a sun only 44 light years away, I pulled down the original Astoundings! containing "Mission of Gravity" for a speculative reminder of what that meant ...)

Lloyd Penney in a typical chatty mood, always pleasant to read. Well, it seems we know more about William M. Breiding than he knows about us Aussies, and I have his fanzine to prove it, I guess. I still consider him the Thoreau of Fandom, from his sensitive and pastoral writing. For in-depth Australian Fan history I suggest he contact John Foyster.

Xmas Cards 1998 season


Bruce Pelz sends his Tripe Reportcard 32 from Madagascar, a postcard entitled "La grimpette du jeune lemur catta", and showing (naturally) a photo of said lemur. Bruce says "Lemur Le Merrier ... (Would you have preferred I comment on how Madagascar is compared to an electric one?)" Tripe Reportcard 33, of Victoria Falls, says "The Falls are Victoria's REAL Secret! (I used to think that it was Butchart Gardens, but that was too tame a quarry.)"

Bill Breiding says in July 1998 "I need to buy a world atlas and see just where the heck you are now living."

Maureen Speller says in July 1998 "I'm not going to be able to do much locing until I return from my TAFF trip in late October ..."

Joan Hanke Wood sends her annual illustrated poem.

Sheryl Birkhead sends a postcard saying she does not have email (nor heat nor water now, either). Says Office Depot there charges 7c for double sided.

Sean McMullen sends their 1997 newsletter, with various artistic additions by Catherine.

Murray Moore sent his 1997 newsletter, about the information technology course he is taking (the first part of which sounded very like an introduction to Microsoft applications).

Andy Porter's Science Fiction Chronicle is a monthly Hugo nominated newsmagazine, essential reading for those interested in the SF field.

A science fiction fanzine from Eric Lindsay, at PO Box 640, Airlie Beach, Qld 4802 Australia. Jean's phone number is (07) 4948 0450. I don't have a home phone. Jean stole it, because I wasn't there. Then she stole the phone line (07) 4948 0435 for her fax, because I wasn't using the line, but I got my modem, desktop computer and laptop back. I think my Psion is still safe. Commenced late January 1999, unlikely to be finished until June. You think you get more time when you don't have a job? Hah, have I got news for you!