Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2211th Distribution,
LASFS Meeting No. 3659, September 27,2007.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
Telephone: hospital(818) 763-8247; personal (818) 506-3159 * eMail:firstname.lastname@example.org
|Denvention 3 in 2008!||Anticipation in 2009!||Salamander Press #2693|
Last Thursday's LASFS meeting was a super-sweet one. Len & June Moffatt were the Patron Saints, and Joe Zeff and Karen Anderson both were celebrating birthdays, and there was a huge chocolate cake and lots of chocolate cupcakes. The cupcakes had thick, vivid red, white or blue frosting, leaving those who ate the red or blue ones looking like they were either wearing brilliant red lipstick or were freezing to death. Every chair was covered with a "Who's Best for the Forry Award?" flyer, for the nominations tonight. The flyers worked; there were no nominations this year for popular club members. However, there were a number of nominations of "metabolically challenged" authors like Philip K. Dick & Wilson Tucker, which resulted in considerable debate (Larry Niven nominated Dante Aligheri) and a motion which was defeated to remove the dead authors from the nominees. The question of whether the award should be given to pros who are no longer alive to appreciate it has been raised every year, but the debate has not become this heated before. The prevailing attitude was to leave it to the voters the following week whether to give the award to a deceased pro or not, which has been the traditional status quo. The award nominations were followed by preparations for a super-auction that looked like it would take the rest of the night. Since neither I nor my sister Sherrill were interested in buying anything, we left to return to the hospital early.
On Sunday, Sherry brought me to her apartment for an afternoon & evening of watching old movies and anime on her 42" TV. We saw two Radio Pictures Edna May Oliver comedy-murder mysteries, Ladies of the Jury (1932) and Murder on a Honeymoon (1935), and the second DVD of The Third: The Girl With the Blue Eye with episodes #5, "The Blue Astral Eye": #6, "The Wind That Sweeps the Land"; #7, "Until Dawn"; and #8, "An Afternoon in Emporium". This post-apocalypse s-f drama with a teen heroine, Honoka, and her sentient battle-tank, Bogie, on a desert planet reminiscent of Arrakis (with gigantic "sanddragons") has the feel of the Heinlein and Norton s-f juveniles of the 1950s, and is some of the best "classic anime"-style TV animation yet from the XEBEC studio (shown on the WOWOW satellite TV channel weekly from April 14 to October 27, 2006; based on over a dozen serialized novels by Ryou Hoshino in Dragon Magazine since 1999). Also, the more that I hear of its lovely, haunting Celtic-type fully-orchestrated opening credits and background music heavy on strings (violins & guitars) and flutes by Megumi Ohashi, the more I want to get a CD of the soundtrack music. You can see a trailer of the animation and listen to clips of the music at http://the-third.rightstuf.com/. Unfortunately, reviews from fans that have seen all 24 episodes on Japanese TV without waiting for the American DVD releases say that the first 20 episodes are great but it turns into incoherent garbage in the last four episodes. An educated guess is that the producers originally planned it for a full year, 48 or 52 episodes, but were unable to make a sale for more than 24 episodes; so they had to cram about 24 episodes' worth of plot resolution into only four episodes. I will watch the third through fifth DVDs if The Right Stuf continues to send me free review copies of The Third, but I will probably skip the final DVD with the climax.
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Yarst! "According to WikiFur, the oldest recorded living furry is Fred Patten who was born in 1940." Say, don't go and stuff and mount me yet!
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Here are the reviews by Gene DeWeese of John DeChancie's first two Skyway novels, courtesy of the Eaton Collection at the UCRiverside Library.
Starrigger, by John DeChancie. Ace, Paperback, $2.75.
The Roadway is a maze of highways and portals stretching across countless planets in this and other galaxies. Built by an unknown alien race, it is now used by humans and whatever other races have discovered it, but no one knows where most of the portals go. Jake McGraw is a "space trucker," driving a computerized behemoth that can withstand the wildly varying atmospheres, temperatures and gravities of the worlds the Roadway passes through. Sam is Jake's "truck," its computer imprinted with the personality and memories - and possibly the soul - of Jake's dead father. And Jake is being chased from world to world, flushed out of one hiding place after another, all because someone - or several someones - think he has found a map of the Roadway, something that could open up the entire universe to whoever gets his hands on it.
All of which, jammed into a few sentences, may sound wild and unbelievable, but Starrigger pulls you into its oddball world skillfully, starting with exciting but seemingly familiar elements and then twisting them and building on them, adding one wonder at a time, so that by the time Jake and Sam end up driving through the digestive tract of a mile-wide, living ferry boat on an unknown alien world, your mind may be a bit boggled, but it all makes sense and seems plausible.
Above all, however, it's fun. Though there are echoes of Roger Zelazny's Roadmarks and Robert W. Franson's The Shadow of the Ship, Starrigger stands on its own as one of the best and fastest moving sense-of-wonder adventures of the year. With any luck, it could be the first of a series, since the conclusion leaves plenty of unanswered questions about the Roadway and its ancient, mysterious Builders.
Science Fiction Review vol. 13 #1, whole #50, Spring 1984, page 28.
Red Limit Freeway, by John DeChancie. Ace, Paperback, $2.75.
In this sequel to Starrigger, Jake McGraw and his evergrowing band of fugitive adventurers are still on the "Roadway," a maze of highways and dimensional portals that could well lead all the way back to the birth of our universe. He's still driving the mammoth "truck" controlled by a smart aleck supercomputer with his father's personality imprinted on it and he's still running from practically everyone he met in the first book. He's also still narrating their adventures in the same irreverent, exciting and occasionally hilarious style that every now and then reminds me of the late H. Allen Smith, one of the very few humorists who could make you laugh out loud. For instance, after a particularly mind-boggling period during which they've been helplessly shuttled from one alien world to another, he comments, "There is only so much wonderment the human mind can absorb before it just takes a cab."
The only difficulty with Red Limit Freeway is that it is not so much a sequel to the earlier book as it is a continuation, and ideally the two should be read together, not several months apart. But they very definitely should be read, and I'm eagerly looking forward to however many more volumes it takes for Jake to find out who really built the Roadway, maybe even who created the universe. If the answers are anything like what has been hinted at so far, they'll be fresh and surprising and probably funny. (The ending to this volume doesn't really answer very many questions, but it's certainly funny in a shaggy sort of way.)
Science Fiction Review vol. 14 #1, whole #54, Spring 1985, page 18.
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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:
Vanamonde #746 - (Hertz) I trust that you will write a longer Nippon 2007 con report than this for File 770 or some other fanzine. ## Yes, I saw Jarritos soft drinks at Galco's Soda Pop Stop. I did not get any there because it turns out that Jarritos is carried at the Vallarta Latino supermarket across the street from the Golden State Convalescent Hospital, and Sherry has been bringing some to me frequently since July. I particularly like the strawberry, pineapple, and Jamaican (hibiscus) flavors. Sherry said that the same bottles at Galco's were much more expensive than those in Vallarta's, so I assume that the ginger beer is similarly more expensive than it would be if we could find it at a regular market. I still recommend a variety of Jarritos flavors for the Loscon consuite, if they can be obtained at a reasonable price. ## I mentioned the 4-minute excerpt of the Hugo Awards opening ceremonies on YouTube last week. About how long did the complete stage presentation last?
Oh, All Right!!! - (Lembke) How can I qualify for a FOOD GEEK ribbon? ## Sometime during the 1960s or 1970s - the exact dates must be in Apa L - the LASFS organized exhibits of s-f books and magazines for the Los Angeles Public Library. We could do this again; offer such an exhibit to not only the LAPL but to other public libraries around L.A. (Speaking of which, the Central Library downtown has an exhibit of James Gurney's Dinotopia art currently through next January 6th. Has this been announced at the club?) Rather than making up an exhibit in advance and offering it to various libraries, it might be better to find out what facilities each branch has to show exhibits and tailor what we offer them accordingly; or make up & offer a s-f lecture series or supervised reading group. Tom Safer offers screenings of cartoons at a library; we could do the same for s-f through readings. We have s-f readings at the club; would they draw larger audiences at a library? There are 72 LAPL branches around the City of Los Angeles and even more branches of the Los Angeles County Public Library throughout the County; plus independent city libraries in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Downey, Long Beach, Pasadena, Santa Monica, and other cities. What do we do for s-f fandom: is it time to organize a new Westercon bid for L.A.? There has not been a Westercon here since 2002; the last before that was in 1994. The LASFS is supposed to take over the running of a Westercon if its committee ever falls apart, but some have publicly questioned if the LASFS today has become too disinterested to be able to do so if it should become necessary. The LASFS is locked into a same-old, same-old situation with the Loscon every year; a one-shot Westercon could give the LASFS an opportunity to try something different. (I suppose that I should specify that I mean the LASFS/L.A. fandom/SCIFI/the ISL interchangeably; whichever body officially organizes the events can be worked out later.) I have been mentioning the new Science Fiction Awards Watch website a lot, which is barely a month old and is already winning plaudits from fandom throughout the world on the Internet; it has just gotten an accolade at the 2007 Eurocon in Copenhagen. In contrast, the most common comments about the LASFS website (including the Loscon website) are that it is out-of-date and full of errors or inconsistencies, which are not being corrected. So one of the first and most obvious things the LASFS should do is to update and correct its website. If we cannot even manage to do that, it is hard to take seriously any proposal to undertake a more complex project.
De Jueves #1549 - (Moffatts) I was on a few convention committees between - the 1970s to the 1990s, I guess - where the department heads were all issued walkie-talkies so the committee could be in constant communication throughout the con. I was never able to get mine to work, and was usually unable to find out if they were defective or I was not using them properly. I assume that this is no longer a problem with cell phones so ubiquitous today.
Godzilla Verses #157 -- (DeChancie) There is a fast-food burger place called Twin Castle that superficially resembles a White Castle restaurant only a half-block from Sherry's apartment, but its staff never heard of any burgers close to White Castle's sliders. ## In addition to the authors you cite who were very influential (I loved almost everything that H. Beam Piper ever wrote, and was disappointed that the only two times I met him, at Worldcons, he was too drunk to discuss his stories), there are several who probably would have become influential if they had lived longer. Around the late 1970s there were some who I thought of as "the tragic trilogists" because they died just as they were starting promising careers, and just after completing their first trilogies. Richard C. Meredith just finished his Timeliner trilogy (At the Narrow Passage; No Brother, No Friend; and Vestiges of Time) the year before his death in 1979 of a brain hemorrhage in his early 40s. He had written a few other novels during the previous decade. Robert Stallman had barely started his first novel (The Orphan; a Nebula nominee) in his The Book of the Beast trilogy before he was diagnosed with cancer. He rushed to finish the second and third books, The Captive and The Beast, in the hospital just before he died in 1980; they were not published until 1981 and 1982. I think there was another but I cannot remember his name or his books' titles. Since these were authors just beginning, they had few books and were quickly forgotten. Another whom I liked was David Mason, who had only a few novels published by Lancer Books between 1968 and 1973 when he disappeared, and I think I remember reading that he had died. C. C. MacApp (Carroll M. Capps) died in 1971 after just starting to write novels, but he completed seven novels in four years and had been pretty prolific as a short fiction author throughout the 1960s. Also, he did not start writing until his late 40s, so it is hard to say that his career was cut short early. They were all very enjoyable novelists who might have achieved greatness if they had had time to develop further, but they are forgotten today.
Fish Out of Water #241 - (Helgesen) Snap, Crackle, and Pop are both ® and TM by Kellogg's, so I would be surprised if the producers of that gift card radio commercial do not get a cease-and-desist letter from Kellogg's lawyers soon.
Niagara Falls Water Volume/Second - (Cantor) Oh, you just don't like ferrets. I had been thinking of publishing Archaeologist Ferrets at the Dig in the Loscon 34 Program Book. A 200+ page Program Book with a complete novel would certainly have been memorable. ## Your history of the collapse of the South Vietnamese government is mostly correct, but you do not mention that after President Thieu resigned on April 21, Vice President Tran Van Huong became president for a week. He resigned on the 28th in favor of General Duong Van Minh, who surrendered to the Communists when they occupied Saigon two days later. You are correct that the South Vietnamese government effectively ceased to exist before April 30 (and before April 21, for that matter), but your statement implies that the South Vietnamese government ceased to exist de jure on April 21 instead of April 30, leaving a vacuum for nine days. Thomas Sowell is presumably quibbling that the South Vietnamese Army made a fighting withdrawal south instead of surrendering en masse the moment the U.S. Congress stopped propping up the South Vietnamese government, although this "continued defense" was more of a matter of the ARVN soldiers individually shooting while trying to escape from the advancing Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army rather than trying to defend the South Vietnamese nation in any organized manner.
You must die so my Timeline can return one - (Coleman) I would rather read a novel by Kenneth "I hate humans" Eng.
Toony Loons #59 - (Zeff) How many of your just over twenty queries have resulted in favorable responses, or still pending non-responses? Some publishers take two years or longer to consider submissions that are not immediately rejected; how long does it take agents to decide whether or not to accept a client? ## Richard Shaver seems to have achieved more respectability for his art than for his writings. The Wikipedia entry on him says, "Shaver never succeeded in generating much attention for his later findings during his lifetime, but there have been exhibits of Shaver's art and photographs in the years since his death. Artist Brian Tucker created an exhibition about Shaver's life and work in 1989 at California Institute of the Arts, and presented Shaver's work again in later years at the Santa Monica Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Gallery of Chapman University in Orange County, California. Shaver's art has also been exhibited in art galleries in New York City, and in a traveling exhibition of "Outsider photography" called "Create and Be Recognized" that originated at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in 2004. In that exhibition, which toured the US, Shaver's "rock book" photography was grouped with works by famous "outsider artists," including Henry Darger and Adolf Wolfli." ## In 1982 Col. Harry G. Summers Jr. wrote a book, On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War which popularized a reputed comment at some diplomatic event after the war: "In an exchange after the U.S. withdrawal that has become apocryphal, a U.S. officer said to a North Vietnamese colonel, "Remember, you never defeated us on the battlefield." The NVA officer considered for a moment. "That may be so," he said, "but it is also irrelevant."" ## Some writers apparently feel that if they can get their self-published books onto Amazon.com, this elevates them above vanity press publishing. For example, Joined in Mind and Body by Kenneth Fox, the s-f novel that I described in ˇRR! #2206 as about an amiable 25th century human who is invited onto a spaceship and within a week becomes telepathic, immortal, superhumanly handsome, able to teleport across the galaxy, able to heal all illnesses including reattaching decapitated heads onto their bodies, an irresistible lover to thousands of sexy felinoid alien babes, etc. It is available on Amazon.com. But so what? Do any more people know that it is there than would know about it if it were not there?
Save your money and don't buy it, January 5, 2007
By J. Routledge (UK) - See all my reviews
To quote from the first chapter (hardly spoiler material):
"Kathari had been found around 86 years ago, in 2362. Humans were shocked to find a race that didn't shoot first and ask questions later. But humans were also too conceited to question how the heck these huge cat-like creatures were speaking fluent Terran only a few minutes after contact. [...] A small invasion by a band of pirates on the home planet made it very clear that no energy weapons or projectiles were a bother to the Kathari, and that the psibeam the Kats could create was devastating."
The Kathari (a name somewhat reminiscent of the Wing Commander series) are cat like centaurs with hermaphrodite mammalian biology (a form somewhat reminiscent of the Chakat series) who have psychic abilities so powerful they can defeat not only today's weapons and armour, but everything we can develop in the next three centuries. Since Kats generate shields for space battles, they can presumably defeat nuclear weapons as well. Useful critters, aren't they?
The star of this story is a human computer engineer (who fantasies about the Kats) who is dragged onto a Kat ship to fix a rather strange computer problem. In short order he discovers that he's special, that the Kats 'like' him too, that he's also psychic, that he's more powerful than the average Kat, and learns that if the human government found this out they would be terrified and try to kill him. (Because of course governments routinely do everything possible to avoid benefiting from strategically useful asset, don't they?) Oh yes, and he copulates with several Kats after finding out he's also pretty much the only human who can satisfy them in bed.
The literary term 'mary sue' could be defined by this story.
I have very carefully here not mentioned any plot or the 'surprise ending'. The problem here is with realism. The internal logic is practically non existent and a dozen interesting ideas are discarded to focus on how the lead character gets more and more powerful and (from a Kathari's point of view) more and more perfect. It's a very black and white world the author paints, with no grey or colour, and no hint that any of the characters might possibly be wrong about anything. There is plenty of fiction here, but precious little science.
It serves as one of the really good examples of why Amazon needs a 'no star' rating option.
If you had kinky tastes, this would be a mildly interesting porn story (where realism has no place) but as any kind of scifi it falls short by a wide margin. Once again, save your money and avoid this book. There's plenty better available online.
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