Gegenschein 65 October 1992


Saving Paper and Money

Jean Weber (Weber Woman's Wrevenge) and I share the fanzines that arrive. Therefore, you need only send us one copy of your fanzine. If you mark it for both of us, you will probably find that both of us will trade. If you send it to Jean alone, you still have a good chance of trades, because the mailing list is kept on Jean's computer.

I'm culling my part of the mailing list, due to postage costs. Anyone I haven't heard from (letter, fanzine, email, etc) in 1992, won't be on the list in 1993. This seems a reasonable liberal standard of response.


Roger Weddall sent details of the deadlines for the next Down Under Fan Fund, to bring a North American fan to Australia, and threatened me if I didn't say something about it.

Nominations closed on 15 September. Ballots become available on 1st October, and the voting deadline is 1st February 1993. The convention the winner is condemned to attend is Swancon XVIII which is on 8th to 12th April 1993.

The administrators are Art Widner, PO Box 677, Gualala, Ca. 95445, and Roger Weddall, PO Box 273, Fitzroy, Vic 3065.

I'd actually discussed this matter with a number of US fans, and the way it went was Bill Bowers, and Dick and Nicki Lynch were thinking about 1993, while Leah Zeldes and Dick Smith were thinking of 1995.

I'd vote for Bill Bowers, wonderful fanzine editor, and specialist in dissipation and alcohol abuse (he uses it to blow soap bubbles). The number of times I've had to help him back to his room at cons is legion (and he always remembers it as being the other way round ... just shows you can't trust some people). He wimped out and refuses nomination (trying to get job security or pay the rent is such a crimp on the fannish life).

I'd happily vote also for Dick and Nicki Lynch, also fine fanzine editors, and convention attendees. It would be great to see both of them again also. However they also seem not to have been able to follow up on their plans.

Now I'm voting for Leah Zeldes and Dick Smith (remember them, they were thinking about 1995 ...) Leah has been active in fandom for round a decade and a half, both in conventions and fanzines (the current fanzine is Stet), while Dick has been more on the convention side (although he claims he is a crank for the Stet mimeo.)

I'm sure donations of money or fannish material for auctions would be welcome.


Jeanne Bowman (PO Box 982 Glen Ellen Ca 95442-0982 USA) notes that nominations are open (closes October 1) and lists various items for postal auction to help raise funds.

Worldcon Bids

James Allen kindly sent copy from the "World Con Bid Committee, c/o P.O. Box 118, Springvale, Vic 3171" in which Shane Morrissey, Alison Wallace and Julie Hughes announce their intention of "mounting a World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in Melbourne either in 1997 or 1998. In order to do this it is first necessary to form a World Con Bid Committee to mount an overseas bid either in 1995 or 1996."

I guess someone will eventually tell them they need to bid in 1994 or 1995, since bids are three years in advance. I'll report with interest on how they plan to raise perhaps $50,000 for advertising costs for an intensive bidding campaign, if I hear more on this plan.

Meanwhile, our Advertising Committee for the 1999 Worldcon Bid goes from strength to strength, having gathered every fan in Faulconbridge into its clutches ... sorry, that should read ... committee. The most recent member is Michael McGuiness, who was the contact person for Sydney fandom in the 1950s and early 1960s (although I suppose Graham Stone and Kevin Dillon are the only people still round who may recognise the name).

Overseas reports indicate that our advertising flyers are being sighted at a wide variety of cons.

However, we would still like to have more US agents distribute bundles of our flyers on the "free table", particularly at West Coast and East Coast conventions. If you are a fanzine fan who attends lots of cons, remember that volunteers for this not very onerous task are most welcome.

I'd like to thank those who are already helping distribute our flyers. jan howard finder, Mike Glicksohn, Gay Haldeman, Janice Murray, Bruce Schneier, R Laurraine Tutihasi, Leah Zeldes and Dick Smith. And by the time this reaches you, probably many more.


Gegenschein is a personalzine, so I don't accept reader's contributions ... however, when an Elder Ghod of fandom unexpectedly sends me an article, I can easily be persuaded to make an exception. That happened this issue. Hence, I am holding over the continuation of my US trip report until the next issue. As a further consequence, this means I have lots of material, and expect to get two issues out essentially together. As it happens, this makes for the most economical postage rates overseas. In Australia, it is just as cheap to post out the issues as they are done.

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Photographic Memory, by John Berry

Over thirty years ago I worked in a photographic laboratory for three months. The photographers could not maintain a supply of shots essential for the efficient working of my department ... they were short-staffed, over-worked and under-sexed, although it could have been the other way round. The Head of the Unit tried to frighten the photographers by announcing that all non-photography staff under his command would undergo a protracted photography course, so that if an emergency occured, as it often did, and photographers could not do the job, or were unable to do so, the work would nevertheless be completed. I soon learned that you couldn't frighten these men ... whether this is typical of the breed I do not know. Much of their work was concerned with attending murders and post mortems, and producing albums of these and other terrible crime scenes ... the photographers had become hardened characters, dealing non-stop with horror; they were oblivious to cajolery and strict discipline.

I was senior in rank to them, and although I had known most of them for years, they were initially somewhat cautious of my presence. A couple of minor contretemps occured in the laboratory to which I was a witness, but I did not reveal inner knowledge, therefore they knew they could trust my discretion.

To counter their permanent infusion of proof of man's inhumanity to man, they dabbled in practical jokes, and I wish to recount a few examples.

The Royal Bowler

Mr. Lewis, who worked in my department, was quite old, close to retirement ... he was somewhat eccentric. He wore out-of-date garments, including a bowler hat ... he was very thrifty, and it was considered that he wore his deceased father's clothing in order to save money. Mr. Lewis also hated photographers, and frequently returned their work which he considered unsuitable, with snappy comments attached. He was detailed to be one of those presented to a member of royalty during a visit to H.Q. He purchased a new bowler hat to commemorate the occasion, which showed how utterly delighted he was. He returned to the office one afternoon with a square brown paper-wrapped parcel, which he announced was his new hat.

The photographers filched the parcel, took it to the darkroom, closed the doors, switched on the lights and carefully unwrapped it. They cut a length of thick white card, doubled it to make a long thin stripabout an inch wide, and inserted it under the black band under the rim of the bowler hat. The parcel was re-wrapped and replaced.

Next morning, Mr. Lewis went for a haircut ... "the bowler fits much tighter than I thought," he explained. When he returned, he tried on the bowler; it was a perfect fit.

One afternoon a few days later, when he was having coffee in the canteen, the photographers removed the bowler hat from its peg and inserted another strip of card. Prior to leaving the office that evening, he put on his bowler hat, and frowned.

"My hair is growing very quickly," he observed. "I'll be late in the morning, I'd better get another trim."

On the day before the royal visit, the photographers inserted yet another strip.

"Oh My God," he said that night, "the visit is tomorrow, I'll have to get another slight trim."

The Big Day ... he wore his father's best suit, which, being of good quality, had dry-cleaned remarkably well. The bowler hat fit superbly.

He went for a quick coffee, and during his absence, the photographers removed all the card.

At 11 am he received the call ... he preened himself, got us all to dab spots of dust off his suit, gave a proud smirk and rammed on his bowler. His ears just about stopped the bowler from dropping over his eyes.

We looked out of the window at the scene below, one photographer with camera rampant. Protocol dictated in those days that headgear must be worn in sovereign circumstances. Mr. Lewis stood in the presentation line, a worried man. His left hand surrepticiously held his bowler hat in its correct position. As his turn came, he forgot his precautionary grip, stood smartly to attention, and proferred his right hand for the obligatory shake.

We noted a rare regal double-take, duly recorded by a triumphant photographer.


Firewood featured in two of their capers, and I was one of the victims.

Items for examination arrived daily at the office, frequently packed in wooden crates. In the sixties, times were hard; I was in debt and at the same time struggling to pay for superior education for my children. I prudently chopped up some of the wooden crates into manageable bundles which I tied to the rear of the saddle of my pedal cycle. My wife used the wood to kindle a fire in the lounge early in the morning, so that it was nice and warm for me to arise and start the day in comfort.

The photographers undid a bundle of firewood strung to my saddle, and replaced the wood with specially treated wood, used in housing construction, which would not ignite.

My wife duly remonstrated with me for supplying her with wood which wouldn't burn.

I didn't mention this to the photographers, although they hung about in my presence, obviously expecting a comment.

One day I recounted complete fiction to them, whereby I said that a neighbour who was always borrowing items from me, took firewood from my shed without permission, and he accused me of purposely leaving non-flammable wood for him.

"I can take a hint," the neighbour shouted at me, I told them.

The photographers looked darkly at each other.

Firewood Two

Mr. Lewis was also an ardent firewood collector. He had a car, so almost every day he sought out wood which he packed in a box, wrapped in brown paper, tied with string, with an artistic bow of string at the top. He left the box on a desk near the exit from the office, and picked it up in a swift practiced movement when going home at night.

In the photography department, a length of railway line, about a food long, was normally left on a heavy table. It was used to weigh down awkward items, to keep them static for photography.

Whilst Mr. Lewis was having his coffee, the photographers undid the parcel, and substituted the railway line section for the firewood.

Prior to leaving the office at night, a bevy of photographers came in to ask questions, coinciding their enquiries a moment before they knew Mr. Lewis would lift the parcel.

It was really quiet as Mr. Lewis put on his coat and bowler hat, bade us all a pleasant `goodnight, chaps', sauntered down the office, put out his right hand and lifted the parcel. At least, he tried to. His brain had calculated the required strength to raise a fairly light parcel from the desk top, but had not envisaged an extremely heavy weight. His body swung round and he fell to his knees, his bowler hat askew over a heavily furrowed brow. His observations on the parenthoods of the photographers were not the prerogative of a Sunday School teacher.

The Inspection

Inspector Dawson was a sworn enemy of the photographers, and the enmity was reciprocated.

The Inspector was officer-in-charge of a murder case, and twenty albums of of photographs were produced at the trial. The judge noted that one particular photograph of bloodstains was enlarged in ten of the albums, therefore more bloodstains were shown on the other ten shots. The judge did indeed make reference to the error, but did not indicate that any further action would be taken. Inspector Dawson, however, even though the case had a successful conclusion, prepared a lengthy report on the error, which he submitted to a Higher Authority. The photographers were severely castigated.

A year passed by, and the bold Inspector Dawson was involved in another murder and telephoned that he was arranging to visit the photographic department ... "to personally supervise the preparation of the albums so as to ensure there would be no further rebukes from the judiciary."

This occured during the period I worked in the department, and I was surprised at the delight the Inspector's pending visit caused amongst the photographers ... excitement, laughter, and above all, eager anticipation.

My impression was that it was planned for conversations to take place in my presence. Empty yellow Kodak cardboard boxes, of various sizes, which originally contained sheets of photographic paper, were thrown on a flat surface above the sheltered entrance to the dark room.

"There are too many boxes there," observed the senior photographer, " and they might fall on someone."

"Shall we move them now?"

"Er ... no ... we'll do it in our own time, because of our extreme work backlog. Let's all come back at 1.45 pm, after lunch, and throw them out."

As the ensueing investigation pointed out, Strictly No Admittance to Unauthorised Personnel was painted on the photographic department door, and a sign No Admittance To The Dark Room If The Red Light Is On was in large print on the dark room door.

The senior photographer asked me to assist one of his staff to dry prints on the heated roller ... this was stratigically sited near to the entrance to the department.

Inspector Dawson, in full uniform, walked in ... he had a stern visage, eyes like half-rippened blackberrys.

"Be careful as you go in the dark room door, sir," said the photographer I was assisting.

The Inspector snarled and walked briskly into the dark room, although the red light was on.

I've got to give him credit that he only screamed once. I'm sure that if I'd had 167 yellow cardboard boxes drop on my head in darkness I would have had the gibbering hab-jabs.

He limped out, minus his hat, making dire threats about the photographer's future employment.

Unfortunately, he had been completely out-manoevered, or, as the photographers continually stressed, it was a complete accident.

John Berry.

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A Day with a SF Author

Joe and Gay Haldeman visited Australia for a week in June, as I foreshadowed back in Gegenschein 62 (but you mob never noticed, did you, no, bloody typical fannish apathy ... opps, I got a little carried away there).

Arranging the visit

Joe and Gay were the Guest of Honor at the New Zealand National SF Convention, two weeks prior to the Powerhouse workshop. So the first requirement, namely proximity, was covered. Bringing an author from overseas is an expensive affair, as the original Suncon people discovered. Knowing Air New Zealand fares, I suggested that a ticket to Sydney, with a NZ stopover, probably wouldn't be significantly more than a straight New Zealand fare. The lesson here is, make sure you have access to a good, helpful, and preferably fannish travel agent. Joe and Gay did, so strange tickets weren't a problem.

It wasn't at all hard, when visiting the Haldemans, to persuade them to extend their trip. The only real problem was not really having much spare time available after the NZ portion, due to the accumulation of undone tasks and so on at their home. This restricted the visit to merely a week. We also wanted to fit into this visits with fans, and tourism in places they hadn't seen before.

This raises another issue; knowing your visitors well enough to know whether they will be interested and able to co-operate. Asking someone out of the blue, just because you like their writing, isn't nearly as likely to work well (although your chances are still reasonable - sf writers are mostly pleasant and helpful people).

Last time Joe and Gay visited, they stayed at a fancy hotel in The Rocks. A week at fancy hotels tends to make problems even for large conventions. Luckily, I knew they were also happy enough to stay at homes, given the right circumstances (as they had on a previous occasion), especially if that helped make the trip possible. Also, we only needed to raise costs for their trip, and not costs plus extra speaking fees (as can happen with some well known authors). It is exceedingly important that everyone be very clear about what is being offered, and also about what can realistically be delivered. I don't believe that was the case with the Suncon committee.


I figured I could cover everything with a one-day convention, with about 50 or 60 fans, provided I could get a cheap enough site. I could get semi-suitable rooms at the University of Technology, but I really wanted to find a better site. I did the usual phone round of every place advertising convention sites, without finding much better ... at least, at a cost that wasn't a problem.

Jean kindly designed me some advertising flyers, and I dumped them in city bookshops (thanks to Blair Ramage for helping) and in Galaxy. I had an end of April deadline on these flyers, to get a feel for likely membership numbers. The big push for memberships came at Syncon, at Easter. However the National Convention itself only had round 150 members, which was a real bad sign. By the end of the month I had only two paid up memberships, although a number of other people had expressed interest. I figured I couldn't get sufficient members through traditional fandom - my best guess was round 30 people. I could sure see why the Syncon committee were complaining about their advertising not bringing in the numbers.

Meanwhile, I'd been talking with Lewis Morley and Marilyn Pride. They told me about some workshops at the Powerhouse Museum (I hadn't seen the adverts) that Lewis and Terry Dowling had done. We phoned Kerrie Dougherty, who was enthusiastic about the idea. Kerrie subsequently did the proposal to the Museum board. This gave access to the Museum's Target theatre, which made a truely excellent site. It also gave a fixed fee structure as payment for the authors. However, we still needed publicity to bring in enough of an audience to cover the costs the Museum would run up.

Luckily it also meant we had Museum PR person Laurie Figg to provide her professional skills in getting that publicity. I didn't (and don't) know enough about advertising to take advantage of all the avenues Laurie opened. For one thing, we only had limited times at which Joe could give interviews (the Tuesday and Friday prior to the event). For another, it was a while before the Museum gave the go-ahead for the event, so we didn't have enough time for sufficient other publicity. That really was a bad error on my part - we would have done a lot better with more time.

Jean did up two new flyers incorporating pictures of Joe and Gay. I did the usual round of bookshops distributing these. More than half the bookshops I approached said we could leave them, and Galaxy was (as always) particularly helpful in putting flyers on their bulletin board. The bookshop distribution was essentially too late; it really needs to be done once a month for three months. I also mailed packages of flyers to all the municipal libraries round Sydney, and to every writer's group I could locate. Again, these really needed to go out months before, to allow for them to be distributed at say a monthly meeting.

Fannish publicity I handled by putting the flyers on the back of my fanzine, and enclosing the Powerhouse flyer with all my Australian issues. A better mailing list would be a great help here. Also, with more time, we could have had them go out with bookshop lists from several mail order people. In all, I ran up about 2500 flyers, and it wasn't enough.

I should have had a complete mailing list done for PR work - preparing such things before they are needed is much better than doing it on the run.

Jack put my PR release on the AAP wire (and modified it so it would work).

Laurie Figg got us into the Sydney Morning Herald's Friday Metro section, and a couple of people mentioned seeing this or other newspaper publicity. One obvious area I missed was I didn't send PR material to the various suburban and local newspapers.

Laurie got interviews with Joe on 2BL (Frank Crook's afternoon show) and on 2UE (Brian Bury's afternoon show). Another interview by Bob Hughes was for Australian Airlines on their in-flight entertainment in July. The radio interviews were aired on drive time programs. Not owning a car, I've never heard any of these programs, however several people mentioned hearing about the event this way. I turned down a possible appearance on the Steve Vizard show, due to lack of time to fly Joe to Melbourne, but with more time that sort of thing could work (if anyone in their audience actually reads).

Since I wasn't familiar with any of the above, I sort of figured (possibly totally incorrectly) that I'd have had better luck trying for a more literary audience. I'd have loved to have had Joe on Clive Robertson's show, or mentioned by Bill Collins, or on the ABC's Sunday Afternoon with Peter Ross. But I don't know how to manage that sort of thing.

On the unconventional side, I ran a PR through the aus.sf section of the Internet, and a couple of people mentioned they heard about the event this way. Now that was a surprise, but again, I should have put it in multiple news groups, and repeated it far more often over a period of several weeks.

I didn't even think about contacting Joe's U.K. publishers until Gay mentioned who they were. Jill Gillmore at Hodder and Stoughton was very helpful in sending out copies of Joe's books to those doing interviews, but would obviously have been able to do much more had she had more warning. There was even a suggestion of help with flights, given sufficient notice. In short, I really blew that one.

Guest Liason

It is really easy to look after Joe. You make sure that he has access to a room in which he can type on his portable computer, without interruption from about 2 a.m. until say 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. For better results, it should be a room in which he can brew up some tea. And a few beers in a fridge for after work really covers everything. This was pretty easy to arrange at Jean's place, and at mine.

Jean booked a motel at Canberra that provided two bedrooms, and a living room with kitchen. This also worked fine for Joe's work, and ran about the same cost as just a room at a more central, fancier hotel.

It isn't nearly as easy to look after Gay. What you really need is some way to let her take care of the mail and phone calls piling up back home. All I could really do was provide a complete schedule of everything that was organised, with times, names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone involved. And try to help make sure Joe got away from parties at a reasonable time.

Guest liason really only works well when you have a very good idea of what your guests need, and have the means to satisfy those needs. This usually involves being pretty careful about who you choose as a guest.

Fannish visits

Kerrie Dougherty, Dallas Jones and Nic Caswell were already at the airport on Monday 8th June. Just as well, as the plane arrived a half hour early, and Joe and Gay were the first through Customs. I got there just as they emerged. We hung round the airport (in the bar) talking for a while, just in case any other fans arrived, and then headed to Jean's place for the party.

Nic was about 19 when Joe and Gay were last in Australia. He was invited to come along when we were doing tourist things. He kept up a correspondence since then. Unfortunately, he also had to head off home soon after we arrived at Jean's place on this visit.

Gerald Smith and Womble arrived, Cath McDonnell and Jack Herman, and even the infrequently seen Shayne McCormack. I thought the party went well, although Jean was struck down by some flu, and retired early. Of course, that did have the lucky effect of moving people off at a reasonable hour.

Tuesday was the day for interviews, something that took all morning, with a pleasant interlude when Kerrie took us through the Powerhouse Museum.

We were a little late in picking up the hire car, but were given a Commodore, somewhat larger than expected, and this helped fit in all the luggage. We diverted through Berrima, as a more interesting route, but didn't make the best of choices for a place to stop. Mind you, the Devenshire Tea was acceptable, but we got rather too much exercise seeking the location of the loo. The next stop was at the pub at Collector, a much slighter diversion. This was magnificent, for our purposes. An empty bar, nice range of beers, and wonderful cartoons pinned all over the walls. With a population of 150, and no longer on the main road, it must be hard for those in business there. Except for arriving rather late at the hotel in Canberra, all went well.

Ron Serduik dropped over to tell us of all he had arranged, and was voluble through dinner, and much more animated than I recalled from the days when he was at Galaxy. It was fun to see. We also got some handy hints on tourist things, to go with the collection of pamphlets.

We picked up one of the tourist buses round Canberra on Wednesday, visited Civic briefly, and then headed off on the bus. We visited the Science Centre, which was great fun. However it also took far more time than we ever expected, and that was without seeing everything. Well past lunch time, we grabbed the bus to the new Parliament House, the entrance of which was indeed impressive, and had lunch there. I wasn't impressed by the quality of the food, some of which was inferior to your average fast food joint. We took the guided tour through the gigantic buried building, and that part seemed worthwhile, however I still dislike how much money was squandered on that monolith. We got a taxi back to the hotel, but had by then decided that it was probably better to drive round ourselves, with Gay acting as navigator. I'd been expecting Jean to act as navigator, but she hadn't been well enough to come on the Canberra trip. Probably indicates you should think of more alternatives, in case of illness, when doing such stuff.

We drove to Fyshwick, arriving somewhat earlier than expected, and took the opportunity to sneak out to Academic Remainders. Joe said it was the sort of bookshop in which the amount you spent was approximately proportional to the amount of time you stayed there. True! Luckily we needed to get back to Gail Lovett's Gaslight Books, just around the corner, for a booksigning at five. There was a good roll up of fans there, despite the short notice Gail had had to organise it, and it went on for an hour and half, before we had to leave for dinner.

We found the restaurant that Ron had organised, taking only a few wrong turns. Even found the wine shop, and parking. Well, actually, the wine came first. Again, there was a good turnout, with some 25 people attending at a wonderful Turkish restaurant. With so many people, conversation was really fragmented, so I can only hope everyone who wanted to got a chance to talk with Joe and Gay. Ron even arranged a cake to celebrate Joe's birthday (which was actually on the 9th, but we claimed the International Date Line made it correct).

On Thursday we sensibly trusted to Gay's navigation, and were soon at Dickson visiting pubs that had everything Joe wanted. Beer (the "largest collection in the world"), bicycles (a wonderful museum of bicycles as a tourist attraction in the club), and at another club, at least three astronomical telescopes complete with domes. Probably the only pub with an astronomical observatory in the world, I suspect. We also managed a visit to the War Memorial, far too large to see it all, followed by the Munga Road Zoo, where we got a chance to feed various animals. Surprisingly, the real hit were the camels. They had been hand raised, and were really happy to see human visitors.

We travelled across town that evening, to Geoff Jagoe and Barbara de la Hunty's home, and hardly got lost at all, despite also seeking and finding a gas station (not an easy task in Canberra). Carol and Jim Nomarhas soon turned up, and Ron Serduik. There also seemed a large number of rug rats, thankfully very well behaved. Jim and Ron went off for vast quantities of asian food, and the conversation continued so long that we never managed our planned return visit to the Donner club to check out the telescopes at night. We only got slightly lost returning to the hotel (there are some places in Canberra organised such that you can not get back the way you came).

We headed off early on Friday, again stopping at Berrima for morning tea (a better choice of tea-room this time), and then stopping at the wonderful bookshop outside town. We got the car back to Avis before one, thus avoiding paying for another day. Walked into Ryde and collected vast quantities of food, from which Joe cooked up a pot roast and a vegetable stew. Terry Dowling, Lewis Morley and Marilyn Pride all turned up during the evening, and we planned (sort of) the Saturday sessions.

Saturday was totally occupied by the planned writer's workshop at the Powerhouse Museum. Joe and Terry got off to a good start by drawing a large flow chart of what happens when a book moves from concept to the end product. This let them cover not only writing, but also all the editorial and publishing side, an aspect we don't see as much of in Australia. Meanwhile, I returned to Ryde to collect the video we had forgotten (luckily not needed until the afternoon).

We lunched in a nearby pub, and invited any of the audience to come as well, so about 30 people ended up there (we had scouted and discarded a few other lunch spots on our visit on the previous Tuesday). I didn't allow sufficient time for that, and had to go back and tell the rest of the audience that things were running a little late.

A lot of the afternoon was occupied by details of writing for films, and the showing of Robot Jox, a film for which Joe wrote the screenplay. He thought he was redoing the revenge of Achilles. The producer thought he was doing "transformers" for the Japanese market (Joe hadn't even heard of the toys, and was arguing with the producer that it didn't make any engineering sense.

Lewis Morley did a wonderful short summary of how the animation and special effects of the movie were done; told me more on this topic in fifteen minutes than I had ever known before (and I did think I had a reasonable knowledge of how this was done, before I heard Lewis).

Talking with people afterwards, I thought the event was well received, although I was disappointed that we didn't get the 70 or 80 people I had hoped for (we had between 50 and 60 - some people who booked didn't show up). The real value however doesn't appear until several years hence, when maybe someone who attended will start selling their own writing. We had a few complaints (cost of meals at the pub we picked ... which wasn't cheap) about peripheral stuff, but generally attendees seemed to enjoy it.

Again we invited attendees to the pub for dinner and drinks, and some stayed talking with Joe, Gay and Terry until 11 p.m.

On Sunday we headed for Faulconbridge for more touring, and Justin Ackroyd (all the way from Melbourne) and Nick Stathopoulos turned up for a visit.

Monday we returned to Ryde, and had Terry Dowling over in the evening for a final talk with Joe and Gay.

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Book Reviews

Anderson, Poul, The Shield of Time

Tor, July 1991, 436 pages, US$4.99

Anderson in fine form, with a series of linked tales of Manse Everard, Unattached Agent of the Time Patrol. Nice historical backgrounds as the structure of time is rent by various groups seeking change, and history is restored by the Time Patrol. Sort of like Doc Smith's Lensman series, but far better prose ... and a little more logic. I enjoyed it as an adventure.

Barton, William and Michael Capobianco, Iris

Bantam Spectra, Jan 1991, 402 pages, US$4.95

The first novel this pair produced was Fellow Traveller, a near future hard science fiction novel in which the protagonists are mainly Soviet astronauts. I enjoyed that, and also enjoyed Capobianco's own novel Burster.

This one is a curious mixture of hard scientific attitudes, and near godlike abilities. Near Neptune, the crew of the escaping colony ship Deepstar decide to investigate a rogue planet, Iris, now approaching the solar system. Despite the external wonders, the novel is much more about the exploration of the human (and suprahuman) mind, and the nature of art.

I doubt I'd like it if every novel travelled this path, but this was an excellent and intense read.

Cook, Hugh, The Worshippers and the Way

Corgi, July 1992, 380 pages, A$10.95

Volume 9 in Chronicles of an Age of Darkness, fantasy fighters.

Easton, Thomas A, Greenhouse

Ace, October 1991, 246 pages, US$3.99

This is set in the same "organic future" as Sparrowhawk, but is even more pointless and silly. The plot is unbelievable, the characters don't react realistically (but you can hardly attack an sf novel for that, given the general range of characterisation in sf), and, worst of all, the "science" was total garbage. This one is right up there with Jack and the Beanstalk.

Easton is using the term gene engineering as a magic wand to allow altered animals to replace mechanical devices such as cars and trucks. I say bullshit.

Feeley, Gregory, The Oxygen Barons

Ace SF Special, July 1990, 264 pages, US$3.95

I don't usually mention books more than a year old, however this is a real ripper of a tale. Not real linear in parts, but a very neatly evoked future of politics, resource conflict and nano-technology. Grab it if you can.

Gibson, Edward, In The Wrong Hands

Bantam, May 1992, 362 pages, US$5.99

Near future hard sf, with a loose cannon (but exceedingly competent - and lucky) astronaut accidently coming upon evidence of outlawed genetic engineering techniques being applied by a space contractor both on the moon and at a space station. Joe Rebello survives several assasination attempts in space, but not all his friends are so lucky. Although this was pretty much a straight adventure, in which the villains talk with an East German accent, some of the space scenes were so gripping that I nearly missed my bus stop. Gibson was a Skylab astronaut, and it does show in the space scenes.

Gilliland, Alexis, Lord of the Troll Bats

Del Rey, May 1992, 233 pages, US$3.99 A$8.95

Follows the adventures of Wizenbeak and The Shadow Shaia as the wizard and King-Patriarch must out intrigue his old enemies, avert a civil war, and stop the dragons and troll bats from invading. Great fun, and lots of wonderful droll humour in some of the scenes.

Haber, Karen, Mutant Star

Bantam, February 1992, 239 pages, US$4.50

Second in a soap opera series, with a massive cast of misunderstood mutants. Fair bit of action, but "mutant" in this series means "magic". It was one thing when Van Vogt wrote Slan, but by now a re-write is merely monotonous.

Haldeman, Joe, Worlds Enough and Time

Morrow, May 1992, 332 pages, US$21

The conclusion of the Worlds trilogy, and a long time it has been arriving, for those who wanted to find out what was to happen with Marianne O'Hara and the Newhome generation ship that was to take the volunteers away from the other worlds and to a nearby star.

The great strength of the whole series is not so much the adventures (although obviously the heroine does have adventures), but the depiction of a well rounded and complex character through from childhood to old age. The same could be said of many a mainstream novel. However O'Hara lives in a totally different society, one hundred years in the future. Parts of her diary are printed, although Newhome never had paper to waste for someone to write a diary on (Marianne was the template for a computer simulation that also keeps a record of events for the flesh Marianne).

OK, events. Sabotage, and the loss of knowledge. Contact with survivors on Earth. The politics of running a small colony ship. Relationships. The new world, and trying to settle on it. Read it.

Hogan, James P, The Infinity Gambit

Bantam, April 1991, 452 pages, US$4.95

Another very nicely plotted thriller from Hogan. Fallon, retired master spy with a conscience, makes a living as a freelance. He takes a job helping the Zugendan government eliminate their rebels, and a job with the rebels to remove the government, and with Infinity Unlimited to do what is right. However I don't want yet another thriller writer; I want another Giants novel!

Hubbard, L Ron, Death Quest

New Era, 385 pages, A$10.95

Paperback reprint of the sixth volume of the 1987 hardcover in the Mission Earth drekology. Adventure plot is fine, but the writing style is terrible. Just proves that, if you advertise enough, you can make anything a best seller. Pity it wasn't one of Hubbard's older, better novels.

Kube-McDowell, Michael P, The Quiet Pools

Ace, March 1991, 371 pages, US$4.50

The outward urge, into space, comes into violent conflict with those who want everyone to stay on Earth, in this near future tale of an attempt to make the first starship, and leave Earth to form a colony elsewhere. The action is essentially all on Earth, and draws a wide range of characters. Probably the best novel Kube-McDowell has done (and they have all been good solid reads).

McCollum, Michael, The Clouds of Saturn

Del Rey, July 1991, 311 pages, US$4.95

Earth is uninhabitable, due to an increase in the solar output, so the human race has moved, with most inhabiting the drifting cities among the clouds of Saturn. However, conflict continues among the groupings of the cities, and a mercenary flyer can get caught in that, especially when one group wants to unite all the cities ... whether they want to join or not.

The technology involved in the cities sounds plausible, rather than fantastic. But I must admit I wasn't as happy with this as with some of McCollum's earlier books which had less emphasis on fighting.

McCrumb, Sharyn, Bimbos of the Death Sun

TSR Books, Sept 1988, 228 pages, US$3.95

A murder mystery set at Rubicon (I deliberately bought my copy at Jane and Scott Dennis' Rubicon relaxacon), a large sf and gaming convention. Not the first such novel (Buck Coulson and Gene DeWesse did an early one, Now You See Him/It/Them and a sequel set at Aussiecon, called Charles Fort Never Mentioned Wombats). However, whoever McCrumb is, she has a keen eye for the foibbles of fandom, and expresses her observations with biting satire.

I thought it was a very funny book. I hear that a sequel is out?

Pratchett, Terry, Reaper Man

Corgi, July 1992, 287 pages, A$10.95

Death takes a holiday. Well, not exactly a holiday. He gets sacked. So all the dead start cluttering up the Diskworld and causing trouble. And ex-Wizard Windle Poons finds himself far more active and far more trouble now that he was dead, despite his fellow wizards helpfully buring him at the crossroads (but why did they pick the busiest street in Ankh-Morpork?)

Rankine, Robert, They Came and Ate Us

Corgi, July 1992, 336 pages, A$9.95

Armageddon II, The B-Movie. About as strange as the first book, but this time even less is (sort of) explained. I couldn't read it all, but it looked very off the wall, with the death of Elvis, time sprouts (the vegetable) and things that may have been left out of Red Dwarf.

Pages 26 and 27 were transposed. Didn't make a lot of difference.

Rosenberg, Joel, Hero

Roc, Nov 1991, 259, US$4.50

A planet provides mercenary soldiers (much like Dickson's Dorsai). The youngest brother in a family goes on his first combat mission, and must come to grips with his fear and his cowardice. The Jewish background was interesting, and reminded me somewhat of W R Yates Diasporia. The material seemed very well written, and the characters described in full.

However, I found the interminable military jargon and tables of organisation offputting and irritating. Although the young warrior's fear was realistic, the description of his final battle was not. It is entirely sensible to be reluctant, or even totally unwilling, to risk your life for small sums of money. I certainly wouldn't do it, and think that anyone who wants to is being a total idiot. I also think that social and family pressure towards heroism should be resisted. In short, I don't swallow this propaganda.

Steele, Allen, Lunar Descent

Ace, Oct 1991, 325 pages, US$4.99

The moondogs mine and manufacture the raw materials to be flung into space for construction projects in space. Production is up, but conditions are getting worse, the union has sold out to management, and the replacement manager is a washed up ex-drunk. Not a good situation for anyone.

A realistic, hard technology story of a potential near future, of people doing space construction. Fits in well with his Orbital Decay. I'll try any novel Steele writes ... for the moment. A bit more content in the future might be nice however.

Sykes, S C, Red Genesis

Bantam, August 1991, 360 pages, US$4.99

First book in The New Wave series, a positioning device by Bantam, with an Isaac Asimov introduction, and a fact article relating to the possible colonisation of Mars by Eugene Mallove. Each book in the series follows a similar pattern, (and the first three, each by a different author, have been excellent hard SF novels, of a sort I thought had almost disappeared), and I'd be more than happy to buy more if the quality remaims as high.

This one has a top industrialist exiled to Mars after being convicted of polluting an ocean and killing millions (he is innocent). He gets the Mars tour, and tries to find a place on that world, and prove his innocence. Since the story covers much of a lifetime, there is ample time for character development (at least of some characters).

Turner, George, Brain Child

Morrow, 1991, 407 pages, US$20

The only thing about which I'd complain is the horrible typeface used on the chapter headings and page headings.

Written as a mystery, set in a nasty future Australia, given full play by Turner's natural cynicism, this looks at what would really happen if you play god with genetics and happen to produce superior intelligence. Turner neatly sidesteps the impossibility of showing such individuals by having them kill themselves offstage before the novel starts. His protagonist is set up (by several different interests) to search for a hidden legacy they may have left, showing how to reliably select for genetic traits.

Two interest groups are a pair of surviving triplets of genetically altered humans, one of exceeding skill in the arts, and the other in biological sciences. We see hints of what the others may have been like in the glimpses of these two groups.

Does a great job of rewriting the superman novel.

Weber, David and Steve White, Crusade

Baen, March 1992, 426 pages, US$4.95

Sometime after the inconclusive Earth-Orien war, an unknown race of aliens attack an Orien crewed ship without warning and without apparent motive. But the attackers use ancient Terran codes. Orien declares that it cannot continue in alliance with Earth until the invaders are stopped by Earth. But the aliens are intent on freeing Holy Mother Terra!

Lots of space battles, manouvering, and that sort of stuff. I've rather liked other books by David Webber, such as Mutineers' Moon.

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jan howard finder

The Place, 522 Weldon Drive, D-2, Watertown, NY, 13601 USA 19 January 1992

Geg seemed to have its share of feistyness. I was aware of some of Suncon's problems from Dennis Stocks. I believe he was to be on the programme. However, other than an initial letter he never heard much from them at all.

Laurraine Tutihasi

lt at ms_aspen hac com Mon, 27 Apr 92

Glad to hear you got home safely. This is my last week at Hughes, so this will probably be my last e-mail to you.

You're quite welcome for any assistance I gave you on your trip. I feel whatever I did was quite minimal. I look forward to your trip report. Alas, my personalzine is suspended until I find new employment.

No, you never mentioned anything about Australia bidding for 1999. I thought Moonbase Alpha was bidding for that one. I'd be glad to help out with the bid. Unfortunately, due to my unemployed status, I have absolutely no idea what cons I might be going to. I will let you know when this state of affairs changes and hope it won't be too long. I don't even know what part of the country I might end up in. I talked to one company that specializes in placing people in jobs in Australia. I can always fall back on that if all else fails. But I don't feel ready for that step yet.

As far as the Dan Quayle quotes go, I have no reason to think anyone made them up. I have heard first hand accounts of many of his bloopers.

I wouldn't be surprised if non-smoking rooms become more popular in Australia. There is now a guide to smoke-free vacations in either England or Europe, I can't remember which. It was recently determined that the LASFS club house must be non-smoking, as it is by definition a public meeting place.

Well, if you have a hot tub, then I must visit you.

I recently read the position paper of Paul Tsongas, who had been running for the Democratic candidacy for president. His paper is a lot like my constitution, though less radical.

My latest hobby, for exercise purposes, is figure skating. I have been at it for three weeks and have been improving measurably. I had a very nice session this morning. I met a skater there who actually had heard of the little town where I was born. Her grandfather had been born there! Small world.

The only other piece of news is my new contacts. They are the analogs of blended bifocals, except they are really multifocals. Depending on the angle of the light striking the lens, the light is bent at a different angle. The upshot of this is that everything from close to distant range is in focus. The brain does the work of deciding where to "focus" the eyes. They are really great. I think I can comfortably do my needlepoint again.

Clive Newall

clive at asis unimelb EDU AU Thu, 21 May 92

Re Australia in 1999 You really think there are still people in Oz who might fall for this?

Still, a good excuse for parties and sending zines etc O/S for the next few years at least... {{You bet it is! EL}}

So when did your addiction to 'speed' start ... I make it about January? :-)

Craig Macbride

lhscmc at luxor latrobe edu au Thu May 21 1992

Thanks for the latest copy. One thing I wondered about your US trip: Have you looked at the exchange rates used by Visa/Mastercard vs. cash/travellers cheques? I found when I went over to Malaysia that the rates used by Visa/ Mastercard were _significantly_ better than the paper formats of money, and I would be very interested to know whether than holds for the USA and other countries too.

As far as the cheap watch is concerned: I have a Casio watch with only slightly fewer features than the one you mentioned which has worked almost faultlessly since I got it almost two years ago. (It was a gift bought duty-free overseas, so I don't know how much they cost.) The Casios have a 16-key flat pad on the front, so entering people's names, etc, is fairly easy.

I understand your emnity towards the Southern Cross. Aussiecon 2 was, I think, my first SF con, and I do remember how they treated people. The first thing that worried me about that bid was how many people would remember the Southern Cross as complete bastards ... not to mention over-priced ones at that. :-) Personally, I think a joint Media/Lit con should be given a chance. It would be great if it works. (After all, I am a mainly media fan, while my girlfriend is lit. oriented ... she gets bored at media cons and I do at lit cons.)

I also agree with you that anonymous flyers that promote no alternative are purely negative and provide nothing useful ... except perhaps to let the author blow off steam.

I like the Australia in 1999 flyer, but I have to say that I saw enough of Aussiecon 2's organisation to say that you are stark raving bonkers to try it. Taking that for granted, I wish you all the best. Another WorldCon would be great. Who else is competing for 1999? {{The other bids are Moon Base Alpha, and some of Seattle. EL}}

Teddy Harvia

PO Box 905, Euless, Tx 76039 USA 30 March 1992

To update my year-old comments on computer art, I am now drawing my cartoons exclusively on the keyboard. The process is no faster than the old pen and ink method, but it gives me the unrestricted ability to change captions, characters, shading on the finals.

According to Andy Porter's definitions, I am a Fake Fan of the Chosen People. I read fanzines because I know the fans who produce them. In the 70's and 80's, I read hundreds of SF stories but find that now, in a corollary to Sturgeon's Law, 90% of the new SF seems neither new nor original to me.

For years, SF fans cried that they wanted their genre to be socially acceptable. Now that it has entered the mainstream and they have lost control of its identity, they want to return to the ghetto. They cannot have the best of both worlds. Escapism should be a diversion, not a lifestyle.

Judith Hanna

5A Frinton Road, London, N15 6NH, UK

Ah, the old Eric is back, reforming the world -- though much less explosively than of yore. Entirely agree with your denunciation of the global freetrade orthodoxy. But where you're wrong is accepting that the GATT vision amounts to "a level playing field"; it doesn't.

{{Well, I didn't accept it, and didn't say that I did. I said "our econonuts proclaim ... etc." A few paragraphs later I specifically said "GATT ... is essentially meaningless." EL}}

One of the hidden subsidies it ignores is the extent to which transport costs are unrealistically underpriced. Carbon taxes to put "polluter pays" principles into practice -- and preferably based on an international climate convention CO2 emission quota -- are one vital missing factor. (The IPC scientific consensus is that a 60% cut from 1990 levels is needed just to keep current atmospheric levels of CO2 from increasing -- the political targets to stabilise EC emissions by 2000, or even the Australia 30% cut by 2005 fall short of what the Earth is actually reacting to.) The effect of more expensive transport is that local goods, production and services should become more competitive than imported stuff -- and the health of an economy is based on local economic activity.

{{I agree on transport costs, and a carbon tax. However, the scientific consensus is just another partly informed guess -- I recall 20 years ago the great concern was whether we would have another ice age soon. Personally, I think bumping up the greenhouse gas ratio, and boosting global temperatures, is a good idea. If it weren't for the uncertainty about runaway effects I'd go so far as to say it was a great idea. Pity about the numerous plant and possibly animal species (and Bangladesh) that won't survive such a rapid change, but they were all probably doomed anyway. Indeed, it is abundently obvious that, assuming we actually survive the next few hundred years, any culture that doesn't adopt a generally secular, Western scientific and technological culture (and, much more unfortunately, economic and business system) will die out. There might be some cute traditional dances and basket weaving equivalents to entertain tourists, but cultural diversity is essentially dead ... it just hasn't been buried yet. Bit of a pity really; monocultures in agriculture are highly successful ... until the external pesticides and fertilisers are withdrawn ... or until some change of conditions wipes them out. I expect the same thing to happen to a monocultural human race. And I don't believe for a moment the idiotic Politically Correct multiculturalism being pushed on an unwilling public here makes this country any different. EL}}

The second basic point which you don't tackle is that the economists have come to focus on GNP/GDP, which measure total money transactions -- but have no direct relation to economic health. Keynes devised GNP as a measure of "accumulated demand", for the purpose of an economics based on stimulating demand in order to revive flagging post Depression national economies. But, as the New Economics Foundation / The Other Economic Summit network point out, GNP/GDP ignore unpaid (mostly women's) work, count as "growth" money spent on cleaning up pollution, etc., that should never have been allowed to happen, and makes no deduction for depletion of resource capital -- much of Indonesia's high (7%) economic growth comes from turning rainforest into wasteland. Nor does it look at whether the people of the nation are getting real benefits from the megabucks swilling about the macro-economy.

{{I partly tackled the problem of how to really define wealth many issues ago, when in a more radical mood, and generally agree with your comments. I suspect Keynes was too bright not to have raised the same point himself -- pity he died when he did, and got canonised by so many unthinking economists. EL}}

Economics was in origin about measuring "well-being"; in first year Economics, we were taught that there is the "real economy" of goods and services, and the "money economy", which by implication is unreal. That was my first fundamental insight into economic theory. The second was that every time economic theory encountered one of the interesting anomolies that form the basis of courses in politics, anthropology, sociology or psychology, it cast the mantra "ceteris paribus" (all things being equal) when things clearly were entirely unequal.

{{Some economists tried to extend it - Galbraith tried to include power in his treatment, for instance. EL}}

The New Economics argues that national economic achievement should be measured by a) national accounts that deduct resource depletion and environmental damage, and b) a set of welfare indicators such as infant mortality, literacy rate, life expectancy and distribution of wealth. These would give an idea of whether GNP was producing national well-being or simply subsidising Rio Tinto or other Trans National Corporations.

What global economics amounts to at the moment is that the international money system has evolved to a stage where it lives in a stratosphere of computer transactions with actual human beings now almost irrelevant to its multiplication and therefore obsolete. Unfortunately, from the human point of view, we have not been able similarly to free ourselves from its demands. Au contraire.

Ken Lake

115 Markhouse Avenue, London, E17 8AY UK 11 April 1992

Best thing about Geg 62 is the front cover - I'd like to shlep that around the world with me, but I fear too few foreigners have that sort of sense of humour. I am saving for my possible arrival at Tullamarine Airport the following delightful bit of repartee (which may well be old hat to you, but was new to me):

Oz Immigration Officer: "Got a criminal record, mate?" Perplexed, reserved English visitor: "Er, no, sorry - I didn't realise it was still a requirement for entry." Dare I? Will you visit me in jail?

{{Actually, any criminal record, outstanding incidents and the like, would probably be already showing on the immigration computers - they do type your name in, you know. EL}}

Brian Forte was quite right to point out the lacuna in my comments about computers: I merely believe they are all completely wrongly built and programmed, thanks to both the illiteracy of designers/ programmers/ manual writers and to the mindless determination of each manufacturer to make his stuff incompatible with any others.

{{90% of the world's computers are Intel based, are almost totally compatible, and mostly run the same (compatible) MS-DOS operating system. The plain facts that Intel's chip still run a brain damaged variation of some of their earliest designs, and that MS-DOS is an equally brain damaged derivative of Tim Paterson's Quick and Dirty OS may help explain why the other 10% of manufacturers are trying to provide something different. EL}}

{{Ken's revised trip itinerary: Mid Sept to Delhi, Thailand, Djakarta, Bali, Hong Kong, South pacific, Nadi, Los Angeles, 45 day on Amtrak, a month in NYC, six month European rail pass, Tunisia, Isreal, Armenia, Georgia ... if he lasts that long. }}

Sue Thomason

190 Coach Road, Sleights, Whitby, North Yorks, YO22 5EN UK 24th April 1992

Thanks for Gegenschein 62. I loved the cover cartoon, which definitely joins my collection of Favourite Fanart.

The other (incidental detail) in Geg 62 which really Ruth Berman's comment about Barbara Hambly's Star Trek/Here Come the Brides crossover novel, Ishmael. I read this novel some time ago, and enjoyed it immensely, without any idea that the human characters and setting came from another TV show, from another genre entirely. I had previously only encountered this device in fanfiction. Do you know of any more examples?

Pamela Boal

4 Westfield Way, Charlton Heights, Wantage, Oxon, OX12 7EW UK 4 May 1992

I hope you met up with Dave and Carolyn Rowe and that they passed on my greetings. It's one of the fun things about fandom, being able to send word of mouth greetings to an Australian via Americans (I guess Dave qualifies as such now) without stirring from my arm chair.

I now know the difference between the PC user who appreciates the value of the machine and a computer enthusiast. I thought that I had kept abreast of the jargon against the unlikely day when I could afford to buy all those lovely toys, even though the cost would not be justified by the amount of use I made of them. I thought wrong, I could only make half educated guesses as to the meaning of three quarters of the terms you used in `Garage Computers'.

{{Opps, which terms? Peripheral? Analog to digital converters? Eproms? Pre-emptive multitasking? Command line editing? Full screen editor? Programmable macro keys? Terminal emulation? Command history? Aliases? Shell globbing using regular expressions? Gee, I though they were all common terms ... they certainly should all be available in any half decent system. Which does tend to leave out MS-DOS and (to a lesser extent) Macs. EL}}

Thanks for the reviews. I haven't read A Reasonable World yet, but your review made me think about one of the values of SF as a genre. We all dream of a world without conflict, a world where every individual has sufficient goods for his or her needs produced without harm to the environment. unfortunately such a world lacks the basic ingredients for an interesting story, with SF we can assume it has come about here on earth and take our protagonists to work out their conflicts on other planets, far removed times or parallel worlds.

{{Self actualised individuals (in Maslow's terms) coping with higher needs seems to me a better source of conflict in SF than does "hard up colony on a harsh world" type SF, albeit a far more difficult one to write. I'd like to see SF writers raise their game ... as indeed many do try to do. EL}}

Julie Vaux

14 Zara Street, Willoughby, NSW 2068 20 May 1992

I liked your review of Syncon 92 and share your concern about the lack of new faces. As you may remember my idea for a solution is not a popular idea, that of reaching to those media fans who also read s.f. novels and encouraging them to be active in a variety of areas of fandom.

Mark Loney

PO Box 428, Richmond, Vic 3121 20 May 1992

The impetus for writing came from your comment in Geg 64 that fireworks are banned in Australia (Thursday, 6th February). Given that major firework displays brighten up the evening sky over Melbourne at least once a month, any excuse will do to float the barges out into the Yarra River and fire off a few tons of colourful ordnance, I think you're obviously living in the wrong Australian city.

{{Fireworks are no longer on sale to the general public in Australian cities (although I agree there are many fireworks displays by licensed bodies). My objection is that I can no longer just go out and legally buy some fireworks to muck round with. EL}}

Joe Maraglino

Niagara Falls Science Fiction Association PO Box 500, Bridge Station, Niagara Falls, NY 14305 USA 20 May 1992

{{About my being Australian agent for the NFSFA 1998 Worldcon bid. EL}}

P.S. A local fan(ette), Jou Moreau, is a collector of Star Wars cards, stickers, you name it. She seems to be searching for a set of Australian made stickers which incorporate a black background circle into the design (sorry I can't be more precise: she's a nice girl, but very blonde, if you get my meaning). I don't suppose you ever happen across such things? She'd be glad to repay the finder (now, get your mind out of the gutter, she's not that blonde) quite generously, I believe. Just a thought ... {{Any Star Wars enthusiasts out there who can identify this item? EL}}

Marc Ortlieb

PO Box 215, Forest Hill, Vic 3131

25 May 1992 I'm all in favour of `non fan fund winners' publishing their trip reports in order to shame the fan fund winners into doing likewise. Unfortunately several fund-winners seem to have hides as thick as hefalumps when it comes to pubbing their reports. There are some people who should abandon their quest for the ideal trip report and just publish, rather than waiting for the muse to strike their work with perfection.

While I agree that fandom is ill, I'm not willing to post its death notices yet. Melbourne still has an active group - The MSFC - and that seems to be dragging new faces in while, at the same time, becoming part of mainstream fandom. There was a strong representation at Bruce Gillespie's recent LandOwner party. I stood for a while with David Grigg, pointing out people he had encountered through ANZAPA, but whom he hadn't actually met. Admittedly a few of MSFC folk are starting to show signs of lengthening teeth, but they've got some young ones too. Sydney, on the other hand, doesn't show many signs of fresh blood.

And speaking of blood, there are also signs of bloody idiots in Melbourne. A group of Melbourne media folk are talking seriously about a Melbourne WorldCon bid. I'd better make it perfectly clear that your bid for 1999 has my full and undivided support, provided that it in no way clashes with the Minneapolis in '73 bid. (It strikes me as rather foolish to start a WorldCon bid without even knowing that the bidding is currently conducted three years in advance.)

{{I can safely say that we will never clash with Minneapolis in '73, and are even investigating the possibility of combined bidding parties! EL}}

John Zube

7 Oxley Street, Berrima, NSW 2577 1 June 1992

What I like about SF is its ideas contents - if it goes beyond the usual errors on overpopulation, welfare, statism, anti-capitalism, protectionism, panics, territorialism, federalism, multinational corporations, unemployment via machines and automation, revolutions and war, etc., i.e. if it embodies some awareness of free market alternatives and solutions. Far from being a literature of ideas, at least regarding social sciences, most SF writers are as ignorant and prejudiced as other novellists and short story writers are. Not an elite but more of the same.

Friedrich Schiller once claimed that there are only a basic 36 dramatic situations and all literature would merely provide different mixtures of them. SF has probably added a few - but hardly an unlimited number.

Being a commercially successful type of literature, it has attracted all too many mediocre talents. The job of sifting out the wheat from the straw has become much harder. Even reading reviews becomes a boring chore.

Due to low expectations regarding their ideas contents and turned off because so many SF fans just read about micrographic options, without ever trying to use them themselves, and no longer interested in mere social contacts, I will not bother attending Sydney or Canberra cons. Too many others from other time and interest lines among the attendees, at least for me and too many with the wrong fixed ideas in their heads.

You asked why there are so few new fans. And why is the attendance down? The SF medium has perhaps become too common for that. When fashion and flower gardening were rare, there were possibly fan clubs to keep these activities alive. But now there are an abundance of fashion and gardening activities everywhere and anyone can get sufficiently involved with them locally. So why bother organising meetings of like minded people? Most bookshops serve as exhibition areas, permanent ones.

The old groups seem to keep going mainly by momentum and as friendship groups. Liking SF is no longer an exciting pioneering activity of a few.

John Newman

PO Box 1135, Ballarat Mail Centre, Vic 3354 8 June 1992

A comment by Chester Cuthbert caught my eye, as it has been some time since I have heard the old furphy about machines doing all the work and people living a life of ease.

This line started up in the fifties, when automation was new and amazing. For some time now it should have been obvious that it doesn't happen. It doesn't even come close to happening. Not because of evil capitalists exploiting the workers (although that does go on), but simply because the things that people value in their lives turn out to be done or produced by other people. Every crucial link in the social network which provides our everyday and exceptional needs and wants is formed by a human being.

{{You mean, like how we have so many telephonists or people who run numeric controlled lathes? EL}}

This factor, coupled with the fact that the baseline for measuring standard of living moves ever upward, ensures we can only expect, in the foreseeable future, to have at best a job we like, rather than endless leisure.

As for most work being done by human beings being an 'effort to make a profit', I would like to point out that profit is only what is achieved after the real reason for any piece of work is satisfied. This underlying reason preceeds, and transcends, any profit which may, or not, arise.

Finally, of course, although profit is often creamed off by creative entrepreneurs, for the many thousands of small business people and shareholders in the world "Profit" reads "Income".

The reason economists analyse the economy from a study of scarcity is that if you do nothing scarcity is what you have! Although the word `abundance' conjures images of manna and breadfruit, in the real world if you have an abundance of anything it is because you have made too much of it, at a concomitant excess cost in resources, labour or capital. That is, abundance is waste.

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

Gegenschein is published when I have enough material and time to do an issue.

Comments should be sent to: Eric Lindsay, 7 Nicoll Avenue, Ryde, NSW 2112 Australia. [Obsolete]

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

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

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

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