Gegenschein 75 October 1996

Editorial - Getting It

If you are reading this on the internet, you have figured out one way to get issues. I've been doing Gegenschein since about 1972, mostly to keep in contact with SF fans and friends around the world. Some trade their own fanzines. Some send letters. Some I see at conventions.

For years I published my ish on a hand cranked Rex Rotary stencil duplicator, a technique known generically in fandom as mimeograph, regardless of the brand. I still have a few Rex Rotary stencils, but ink seems impossible to obtain, as does mimeo paper. I did a few experimental versions of different issues on microfiche. Some issues by (expensive) commercial offset printing. For a brief while I owned a desktop offset press, and printed an issue or two on that before deciding the amount of cleaning it required was incompatible with my essentially sloppy nature. Access to cheap photocopying proved the best method I've ever had for doing a printed copy, being neater, quicker and easier - I never did like collatio. Suggestions that I did my early issues with a quill pen will be ignored.

Paper is not, alas, the cheapest way. It isn't the printing. It is the postage costs. A few issues ago I started converting issues to HTML (hyper text markup language) and putting issues on the WWW (World Wide Web, not to be confused with Jean Weber's fanzine WWW). That essentially moves the "publishing" costs from me as publisher, to you as reader. Instead of me paying a dollar or so an issue to the post office, you as reader probably pay a few cents to your Internet Service Provider.

To encourage readers to collect their copies electronically, I'll mention the electronic version is now typically twice as long as the printed version. I include all the letters received by email, and all of the letters that I can successfully scan into a computer. In the printed version this section is edited down considerably. Some of the articles and book reviews are also shortened to restrict the paper version to fewer than a postage cost effective 16 pages.

The electronic version appears first, often by a long margin. The rough draft appears as a text file while each issue is being written. In theory it is updated weekly. In practice the time constant for updates is considerably longer. Also, the quality used to improve as time went by - I don't think that is happening any more.

If you would like a copy emailed, or to have email notification of updates appearing on the web site, please email me with your email address.

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Trip to Corflu Las Vegas 1995


Thursday 23rd March 1995

After I left work that evening, I had a phone call from a lecturer about a dead computer at home. From the description probably either the IDE disk controller card (I hate those crap kludgy things ... but they are cheap) or else the motherboard. At least with the motherboard I can salvage and swap memory and CPU to hold costs down. It seems the only way to escape work is to be someplace far away. Which was my plan for this trip, after all.

Drove up to Faulconbridge to close up house for the trip and collect the mail, all of which was political trash for the forthcoming election (my policy is Support Australia, don't vote for any of them). I wasn't all that impressed by the prospect of driving 200 kilometers before a long aeroplane journey.

Friday 24th March 1995

Jean and I awoke late, this being our last chance for sleep before the trip, and had everything ready in plenty of time. I started to type the first trip note into my badly battered Sharp PC3100 palmtop computer when it crashed, for the first time in nine months. After trying all the usual remedies, I had to do a soft reset to get it to even display text on screen.

I was still struggling with my Sharp PC3100 palmtop when I had a phone call at 8 a.m. from the Head of School, his computer hard drive is dead, probably CMOS, and do I happen to know his hard drive parameters off the top of my head. I was able to tell him where to find the details. My own palmtop crashed again, and I had to do a hard reset to get it working again. This meant that all my carefully collected programs and data files were lost. The floppy disk drive and other equipment needed to restore them were at Faulconbridge, so I couldn't get the computer back into proper working order for the trip. This problem wouldn't exist, if the PCMCIA cards would work. Weep, wail, gnashing of teeth.

The same sort of thing (destroyed floppy drive) happened on the previous trip with Jean, but with my notebook computer. Maybe trips and my computers don't get along well. I decided I needed to seek another computer as a replacement. Perhaps something would leap out and attack my credit card during the trip.

Taxi takes us to the airport at 9 a.m., without traffic delays, and although we sit on the tarmac a half hour, there is no further drama. Boring flight, read lots of books. We arrive in San Francisco a little late, but otherwise fine, at 7:50 a.m. It is 8:30 before we get our luggage, and despite United helping, and very speedy customs clearance, we just miss our 9 a.m. flight to Seattle. We get another flight 25 minutes later, so this is not a problem.


Marilyn Holt and Clifford Wind kindly meet us at the Seattle airport. They hadn't been there when the first flight arrived so all worked out reasonably well. Went exploring various stores with Marilyn and Cliff, while Jean snoozed in the car. While I didn't find what I was after, Marilyn did find a printer, so that was very successful. Marilyn later that afternoon demonstrated why she can be considered effective (I'm not) by showing me examples of the work she had done on her new printer - it would probably have taken me days before I even unpacked it.

Jean awoke long enough to eat lunch at a salad bar whose name started with Z .... and then slept through the afternoon, while the rest of us went out again to Northwest Plaza, where I picked up a pair of shoes. Yes, I confess, my main reason for visiting the US isn't to visit fans, it is to buy comfortable shoes, Kinney's Easywalkers.

Jerry Kaufman, Suzle Tompkins and Stu Shiffman dropped over that evening, and Clifford and Stu went out to collect a very fine set of pizza and hamburgers. I was impressed by the fast food at their local store. I took photos of various Seattle fans, so with a little luck, these should (eventually) appear on the web site to add a little colour.

Saturday 25th March 1995

Got up about 11 (finally), snacked on Cliff's wonderful blueberry bread (Jean had already eaten the last slice of pizza).

We wandered all around the University of Washington, a most interesting and beautiful campus, with Marilyn and Cliff explaining the buildings. I was most taken by the sun dial on the side of one building, which had corrections such that it indicated accurate time. I'd never thought of having a vertical sundial. I guess, having grown up with cheapish accurate watches, the need never arose. However that sundial made a great abstract wall sculpture.

Saw some people walking their dog and their lama. Well, if it wasn't a lama, I'd hate to meet a dog that size in a dark alley. Maybe it was a dwarf white camel, but I still think it was a lama. Either that or I was more jet lagged than I thought.

Dinner at Kau Kau, a fine Chinese restaurant, celebrating Bob Doyle's 43rd birthday with Cliff and Marilyn, Jean, and Bob's friend Barbara Norwood. We sampled chicken with bitter melon, hot and sour soup, wonton soup, Chinese broccoli, and ginger beef rice. I contrived to take photographs of Bob and Barbara against the night view of the space needle. Naturally they are overexposed (and the remainder of the universe was underexposed). Just goes to show that even automatic flash cameras can get fooled, especially when someone who isn't thinking uses them. Also, I finally realised that if I wanted to illuminate the entire universe, I'd probably also need a larger battery.

Sunday 26th March 1995

Went walking in the morning, seeing many strange sights, like a house full of camels. Did get some photos of Seattle, but the distance and haze was too great for good viewing.

The ever energetic Janice Murray organised a do at Jillian's, a strange but pleasant pool hall and bar. Frank and AnneJo Denton, Buz and Eleanor Busby, Jon Singer, George Wells, Alan Rosenbaum, John D Berry, Ami Thomson, and others I apparently failed to note. See the photos on the web site (eventually). That was very pleasant for us, as we would never have managed to see so many fans so easily otherwise. Janice has always been wonderfully helpful.

We visited a really neat co-op housing venture where Tom and Marci live. It seemed an attempt to bring back the community nature of traditional village life, while retaining separate dwellings. There was a community kitchen, and laundry, for example. Not that the inhabitants were into mucking in the mud as part of an anarcho syndicalist commune. Many work in programming and other high tech industries. In theory I am all in favour of that approach. In practice, I'm too lazy to be a good participant. I'd have more photos of that, but my film jammed ... come to think of it, with my luck with machinery, maybe I'd be better off mucking in the mud - at least that hardly ever breaks. I can see it now - "There's trouble in the fields, Eric's mud has turned into sea water!"

Visited the Luna Park Cafe afterwards with Tom, Marci, Alan and Janice. I'm not sure of the rationale, but the decor was 1950's, and they had great (and enormous) milk shakes! We eventually returned to the co-op housing estate, but by then I was far too full for more food.

To Lacey

Monday 27th March 1995

Janice Murray drove us to the airport, and probably would have driven us to Lacey, had Jean not already organised for the bus trip. The ever helpful Janice even stopped so we could go shopping at a nearby mall. I really like US malls. They probably aren't all that superior to ones at home, but the only time I get to ones at home are when I'm in a tearing rush to get something done!

We were met by Jean's parents, with ham sandwiches for lunch. Afterwards Jean and I walked 6 kilometers, which is not a comment on the food. We still had vague ideas of trying to keep in some sort of shape (other than round).

Tuesday 28th March 1995

Jean and I walked morning and afternoon, about 10 kilometers. There isn't a real lot to do in Lacey, except relax, catch up on reading, and chat. It is very pleasant to actually get away like that.

Jeans' parents took us to a mai mai fish dinner at Genoas on the Bay. That was absolutely fantastic, as has been every visit there. I'm not a fish enthusiast, as I often find seafood doesn't agree with me, but there are some places where it is definitely worth taking a chance.

Wednesday 29th March 1995

Walked 11.38 kilometers morning and afternoon, including checking out Future Shop, Office Depot, and all the other computer stores in town. For a small town, Lacey sure has enough gadget shops. Depending on whether you visit at the start or end of a trip, this may not be an advantage. It doesn't help your credit card either way.

Had a great home made Mexican dinner, followed (when we recovered from overeating) by Key lime pie! What is it about sitting down after dinner that leads to notes about food?

To San Francisco

Friday 31st March 1995

We caught the airport shuttle back to Seattle, flew to San Francisco, where we hired a car, and set out along the familiar road (to Jean, I'm usually permanently lost anyplace I haven't walked) to Alyson Abramowitz's home. It is amazing how often a relatively short trip takes pretty much a whole day. Alyson was doing lots of cooking for her future entertaining. Given my culinary standards end at about where hamburgers have side salads, I can't describe it all, but it sure looked good.

Saturday 1st April 1995

One again we were lucky enough to be here on the right day for a Pensa afternoon party at the home of Donya White and Alan Baum. Many fans were present, so naturally I failed to take any notes.

Sunday 2nd April 1995

My suspicion is we went to a Dim Sum in the morning, but perhaps that also was Saturday. Certainly saw a number of fans.

Visited Jean's school friends Doug and Verna at Palo Alto, in the evening.

Computer Stores

Monday 3rd April 1995

Jean headed off for the day with an old friend, while I tried to work out how to get to every computer store in Santa Clara. While I didn't make any navigation errors, I couldn't locate my first store from the car, so I had to park and explore on foot. When I finally found the Laptop Computer place (tucked behind other stores in an unmarked shopping area), they didn't seem very awake, and knew nothing about the Psion palmtop computer they had on display at $400. They also knew nothing about the 2 megabyte model they had on their price list. Maybe they had a reason for being behind a shop, round the corner, not visible from the road. Maybe they were a CIA front. They sure didn't seem interested in selling. I decided to seek elsewhere.

At CompUSA I soon discovered they didn't have my alternative palmtop, the HP200LX, but they kindly looked it up and told me $700 to get it for me. As a tourist, I passed. Did get a really nice little Fujitsu phone cable on a compact self winder container, for the next time I want to do telecommuting. A wonderful gadget, but now I want a second one, I can't locate them, and CompUSA swear they don't exist ...

I headed North on Lawrence next, since it was full of computer stores.

Unfortunately, I soon discovered that you couldn't actually stop and park at many of stores without knowing the magic exits from the expressway. At NCA I found many interesting gadgets, an enormous crowd, and no-one answering questions on locations of parts, so I put the CDs I'd found back in the rack and left.

Disk Drive Depot had wonderful prices, and were a great preview of the future of large, cheap hard drives, however that was not what I was seeking.

Fry's were also busy, but much larger and well signposted. I had a good time snooping round this electronic supermarket before checking out the palmtop computers. No sign of two megabyte Psions, but they had a $700 HP200LX. Once again I tried to type on it, and again, the combination of price and horrid keyboard drove me away.

Weird Stuff Warehouse were even more interesting, for someone who likes older gadgets. I feel like I understand more about older gadgets. Also, having cheap prices always encourages me.

Shopping at Valley Fair

Tuesday 4th April 1995

Jean's shopping day at Valley Fair, so she did all the navigating (and as a result, we got there with few problems). I always have a good time there, with a Sharper Image, an Imagineerium, a Museum Shop, a Brookstone. Gadget heaven, and best of all, I rarely want to actually buy anything from them. Jean left me in various of these while she went off and found her stores. The Sharper Image was great fun, with Casio TV Remote Control watches and many other gadgets. They also had the Psion 3a computer that interested me, and in the two megabyte version, at US$699. They told me they had exclusive agency for the two megabyte version, and that no-one else in the USA had that model. I mentally added California tax, and converted to Australian currency at .72cUS to the A$. The price I'd been quoted in Australia was lower, so I checked out other stores instead of buying.

I seem to recall a womens dinner that evening. As previously, some of the excluded males like Alan Baum took me on an extended pub crawl, dinner hunt, and book shopping expedition. As usual, the books cost more than the rest. Great fun however.

Palmtop Computer

Wednesday 5th April 1995

We rushed to get away so that Jean could get to her work appointment at IBM or ISSC in Palo Alto. I decided I'd rather walk than drive to the places I wanted to visit, and as a result, failed to reach many of them. I did however have a pleasant walk through the Stanford University area, looking at their bookshop, and many other nearby bookshops.

I'd heard on the net of Abstract RandD, then on California Avenue, Palo Alto, so I wandered up to what proved to be their small RandD section. They did have a sales guy handy, willing to talk about their new Lexicomp LC8620 palmtop computer. They had just started advertising it at a special price in some of the mobile computing magazines I hadn't seen. It was a little larger than my Sharp PC3100, and I'd have to rate the keyboard and display as just a tiny bit less crisp than in the excellent Sharp. However the things it did add were great. An entirely standard 9 pin serial RS232 port. A standard 25 pin parallel printer port. Only one PCMCIA card slot, against the two in the Sharp. However they had managed to add a 40 megabyte Hewlett Packard KittyHawk hard drive, and still get a useable life from the three NiMH AA batteries. It ran standard MS-Dos, so I was later able to install my usual software. Best of all, the price was US$600, which was within my price range. They even let me have details of the system calls for accessing their power up timer and other bios features. The Chips and Technology 8680 CPU proved exceedingly fast, more like a 14 MHz 386SX than a nominal 8086 chip.

Las Vegas and Corflu

After meeting Jean at work, we took a flight to Las Vegas, where Peggy Burke collected us at the gate and drove us to the Jackie Gaughan Plaza hotel. Peggy has always been enormously helpful, as have all the Las Vegas fans.

At the hotel after unpacking, we discovered Don Fitch, and in the process of helping him search for Geri Sullivan's room number located Geri wandering around the casino. As we dined VJ Bowan and Jerry Kaufman came wandering along.

Thursday 6th April 1995

Found some stores on my early morning wanders. When Jean arose we both wandered on an entirely inadequate walk. I did get a nice carry bag for the convention, and a named mug of uncertain quality, and tacky imagery, now gracing a desk drawer at work (there wasn't space on the desk itself).

The apparently perpetually cheerful Hope Liebowitz appeared from somewhere. It seems many fans arrived early, and a wonderful thing this is too.

Wonderful party at the Katz home that evening. I'm told it is traditional. Certainly helped introduce Jean to the fans there. If anyone is attending a Las Vegas convention, I'd sure suggest making sure they arrive early enough to attend the party, as it makes an excellent ice-breaker.

Woody Bernardi and friend gave Hope and I a lift back to the hotel round midnight. Jean had obviously turned into a pumpkin somewhat before that.

Friday 7th April 1995

Strange false alarms as we sat in the convention area on the 3rd floor.

Really nice starting ceremony, in which Arnie was cream pied by Peggy Burke, after introducing all the Las Vagrants.

Being Las Vegas, we had the obligatory Gambling 101 panel with Eileen Foreman (who works at a casino), Linda Bushyager (who wins at a casino), and Marci McDowell (who runs security at a casino). More than I ever wanted to know about how to play card games for money. Indeed, more than I ever wanted to know about card games for any purpose. It was fascinating, in the same way looking at a reptile can be fascinating, without any desire to handle the thing.

People seen in the 23rd floor con suite included Mike McInerney, F M "Buzz" Busby, Eleanor Busby, Bill Donaho, Boyd Raeburn, Don Fitch, rich brown, Ted White, Len Bailles, Moshe Feder, D Potter, Robert Lichtman, Andy Hooper, Carrie Root, Art Widner, Grant Canfield and Greg Benford. and of course the Vegas fans. There was a pretty active fan poker game elsewhere, but I've never been any good at games so I can't say who attended. I gather they had fun.

Saturday 8th April 1995

Jean woke up early and left for a pre-breakfast break. I finally staggered up to the Foreman's Koffee Klatch and partook of the ham and eggs there over conversation with Vicki Rosenweig and Vijay Bowen.

Corflu Down Under (send I Have This Great Idea ... you take care of the details notes to Marc, Perry, Justin, Clive and LynC). Yes, well, it would be nice to have sufficient fanzine fans in Australia to make a convention worthwhile, as distinct from a room party.

There were a couple of pretty good auctions of some fine fannish items, for equally fine fannish causes. Were I not trying to downsize the accumulation at home I'd have probably burst my luggage, so tempting were they.

Sunday 9th April 1995

A fine Sunday brunch. Jean managed a seat next to Greg Benford, who as well as being a long time fan and attendee at conventions, is also one of my favourite hard science fiction authors. Jean had an ulterior motive; she had been trying to figure some way to get him to Australia for a convention at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, and they had exchanged email on possibilities. Now that he writes the science column in F&SF, even some fans who hardly ever see his novels may become more aware of the name. Mind you, the TV science program he narrated for a Japanese producer never reached Australia, despite its many SF trappings. You can read about that in F&SF also.

Weird food late in the evening. I mean, really weird. I have a photo somewhere, just to help prove how weird it was. I was very impressed at the stuff the Vegas fans located in the city. I was even more impressed that some of it was apparently intended for human consumption.

Las Vegas Walk

Monday 10th April 1995

With the convention over, and most fans already gone, Jean went off at noon taking the luggage by car with an old friend. I was already feeling post convention blues, so after looking over the downtown casinos for less than an hour, I decided to spend the afternoon walking to the airport. That seemed a reasonable way to get more of an idea of the location of things in Las Vegas. After a while I found the desert sun a little much so I bought a cheap straw hat. I tended to stop and window shop when I came across a mall. Walked past the Holy Cow, a fine pub with four varieties of micro brewed beer, but decided stopping in there wasn't compatible with a healthy walk.

When I reached Treasure Island I noticed Moshe Feder taking photographs, so we chatted for a while. He was also touring, so we wandered along together for the rest of the afternoon. It was good to actually have a little time for talking, since I hadn't seen Moshe to talk to at length since sometime in the 1970's.

Moshe suggested wandering through Ceasar's Palace mall. This site was designed so that sweeping moving walkways took you through a majestic entrance, with no way out but forward through the shops and casino. I was impressed, both by the attitude, and by the interior. It had a full sized fountain, painted ceilings appearing to be the sky, and much opulent grandure. The shops were upmarket in keeping. The casino was likewise hard to escape. We sought to follow the light, only to emerge in an open interior with swimming pools. Apart from the noise of the gambling machines, I was delighted with the overstatement of the place.

Moshe was let down a little by shoes not as suited to walking as were mine, so when we reached his hotel I continued. I got to MGM Grand before deciding the remaining time was a little tight to walk the rest of the way, so I took a taxi. As I'd reached the crossroads to the airport, and seen all along the main street, I was fairly pleased with the walk.

Jean turned up at the airport, and we started back to Australia after a great visit. As always, the overnight return trip was not the greatest.

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Mass Education

Universal Literacy has been in place sufficiently long that it is easy to forget how ephemeral an achievement it might be. With the move from the land to the factories of the industrial revolution, the need for written records and written instructions ensured strong support for literacy. I can't help but wonder whether the move to iconic computer interfaces, voice control, and pervasive video media may not indicate it will shortly be possible to ignore literacy. Despite this possibility, literacy has been one of the great triumphs of mass education.

Mass university education now seems an accepted commonplace, more so in the US than in Australia, but increasingly common here. Since I work for a university, I take some interest in the figures. When I was a lad, less than one youth in ten enrolled in university. Now at least one in four attend university prior to attaining their 20th birthday. Four in ten will enroll at some time in their life.

However will they be taught by lecturers? Schools seem to have about one teacher for 30 students, universities about one teacher for 15 students. Universities also have close to one person doing support tasks for each one teaching. Back in 1976, it cost about $13,000 per year to cover the costs of teaching each student. This has fluctuated a lot, and is now about $12,300 or 7% less. Speculation is that our new government is seeking cost cuts exceeding 10%. Given that most teaching costs at a university are salaries, it is hard to see great savings possible without fundamental changes to the lecture and tutorial mode now used.

Can students or their families pay for their own education, at these prices. When higher education was a minority taste, better off families managed. For most families, outright payment is unlikely, given average earnings after taxes are hardly twice the cost of education. Loan schemes help, but my own feeling is there will be increased pressure on universities to pass more people through cheaper. The current HECS (Higher education Contribution Scheme), whereby a student pays a fee each year of about $3000 is indicative of supportable levels of payment. Most students defer HECS, and it is gradually repaid from their taxes once they start earning above a certain level. The level of HECS, the level at which repayment starts, and the matter of interest rates are all able to be changed by a government. None would make much of an immediate difference to University funding.

The likely lowering of standards necessary to pass all comers to a university generally implies a "government pass", with the more difficult topics coming in honours, or higher degrees. A greater spread in quality between institutions seems likely, with some becoming degree mills, and quickly becoming known as such.

Costs will be cut as access is increased. Obvious targets are research funding, the proportion of senior staff, electives and subjects in low demand, any course that fails to meet minimum enrollment figures.

Open Learning courses, on TV, radio and by tape, with minimum actual contact, and correspondence (and increasingly email) corrections, are currently funded directly at HECS levels, and heavily cross subsidised by the universities involved. It seems likely these would be financially viable at twice HECS levels. This must be tempting to the funding bodies.

I saw an article pointing out that custom cars cost $200,000, while a mass produced car is $20,000. Bespoke suits show the same ratio to off the peg. Perhaps someone soon will show how to provide a university education at $1,200 a student. However it almost certainly won't involve the spacious grounds, the bricks and mortar(boards), nor be very recognisable as what we see as a university.

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New Books

Anderson, Kevin J and Doug Beason, Virtual Destruction

Ace, March 1996, 327pp, US$5.99

Like The Trinity Paradox, this is set at an atomic research establishment, this time the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, thus taking advantage of the real life experience there of one of the authors.

Like most defence establishments, Livermore is seeking active co-operation and co-funding from industry, and exploring commercial possibilities of work outside bomb design. The novel follows a team making a virtual reality room (the Star Trek (tm) holodeck), the conflicts, the opportunities for political maneuvering, and finally a murder. The question is, how was it done, and who did it?

Not really science fiction, however it should appeal to those who like either hard science novels or mysteries (not that you can't figure out motive, means and opportunity).

Anderson, Poul, The Stars Are Also Fire

Tor, October 1995, 562pp, US$5.99

Sequel to the fine A Harvest of Stars, a story of the future of the human race in our solar system. Dagney Beynac, descendent of Anson Guthrie, becomes involved in the struggle of the Lunarian civilisation to break free of the influences of Earth. There is a massive cast of characters, and a gritty realistic feeling spacegoing civilisation, and continuous invention taking place. There are a lot of flashbacks, sometimes confusingly so. Despite this, an interesting hard science fiction read.

Benford, Gregory, Furious Gulf

Bantam, August 1995, 341pp, US$5.99

Fifth novel of the Galactic Center sequence, the massive hard science fiction action follows Great Sky River. Humans have risen to great heights, and then casually had their galaxy spanning civilisations and technologies torn down by mechs, replicating machines with god-like powers. Humans can fight against low level mechs. Their own technology based augmentations assisting their survival, without becoming as mechanical as some of their companion species. However against the high level mechs they can only flee.

The last humans from Snowflake flee their planet on the Starship Argo. However too much knowledge has been lost. Their Aspects, plug in personalities and recordings of dead humans, can not teach them enough to really repair all the systems on Argo. Captain Killeen is obsessed with their destiny and salvation being in a voyage to the center of the galaxy.

There, in the strange reality surrounding the great central black hole, even the mechs may not be able to pursue them. However is there really a refuge? Was it human created, or another mech trap?

Epic far future hard sf at its best.

Brin, David, Otherness

Orbit, 1995, 387pp, A$12.95

A wonderful collection of thought provoking science fiction stories from one of the best hard sf authors. It also includes a number of notes and articles on the stories, and the science described.

The stories are wide ranging, and generally include a moral dimension that questions what it is to be human in an ever changing technological society.

If what you want is "blow them out of space" opera, this is not it. If you want your reading to be challenging, while still entertaining, try this varied collection.

Doherty, Robert, The Rock

Dell, January 1996, 366pp, US$5.99

The Rock is in Australia. However what connection can a mysterious powerful broadcast from deep inside Uluru have with Tunguska, or with an atomic explosion deep inside a South African mine. A military action mystery, with SF underpinnings. SF fans will probably work it out before the characters, but it is fast enough paced.

Dunn, J R, This Side of Judgment

RoC, November 1995, 367pp, US$5.99

A small Montana town, almost unchanged fifty years in the future. The nude body of a dead woman is found in plain sight in the snow. An ordinary murder mystery? A sloppy computer attack on a local bank, intended to be noticed. And an agent from Washington seeking a connection to a chiphead, a cybernetically enhanced human. Except, all the chipheads were killed off.

A nicely atmospheric, fast paced mystery with some character and a lot of storytelling verve. It will be interesting to see what the next novel brings from this new writer.

Forward, Robert L, Indistinguishable from Magic

Baen, September 1995, 372pp, US$5.99

A series of essays on the possible limits of science, when it is indeed indistinguishable from magic. As you would expect from a futurist and sf author, the emphasis is on the flashy artifacts that probably attracted most of us to sf in the first place. I enjoyed reading it. Luckily, other sf authors will (somehow) come up with something even more imaginative than the present limits of science.

Hogan, James P, Realtime Interrupt

Bantam, January 1996, 320pp, US$5.99

Joe Corrigan has lost his wife, friends, colleagues and his past. Once he was a top scientist in a project to make a virtual reality indistinguishable from reality. Now he is recovering from an accident that wiped most of his memory. Or is he? Just how do you tell which is the reality, and which the illusion, if the illusion keeps getting more and more real.

Greg Egan covers much the same territory more economically, but this has more of a thriller heritage.

Kress, Nancy, Beggars and Choosers

Tor, February 1996, 377pp, US$5.99

Sequel to the award winning Beggars in Spain, and in some ways superior to that fine story. The genetically manipulated immortal super sleepless have retreated from the intolerant human world. Even to retreat from a world where everything is already claimed as property requires an imaginative approach. The handful of super sleepless used advanced nanotechnology to generate an island of their own, right down to the continental shelf, and made an agreement to provide some advanced technology to their nearest neighbour in exchange for legal recognition, and privacy.

Naturally there are echoes of Ayn Rand, and a good treatment of the moral dimensions of dissent, and of property.

McDevitt, Jack, The Engines of God

Ace, December 1995, 419pp, US$5.99

Interstellar archeology and well written characters combine to make a novel well above average. An unknown race has left stunningly beautiful alien statues in many solar systems, each with an unreadable inscription. Why did they create them, where are they now, and why has no other civilisation followed them?

McDevitt is on my "must read" list, as each book is carefully crafted and thoughtful.

Pellegrino, Charles and George Zebrowski, The Killing Star

AvoNova, February 1996, 340pp, US$5.99

Apocalypse as policy, and as explanation for the failure of SETI. The authors postulate that any advanced culture will realise that another such culture could wipe them out with relativistic weapons. They assume that the first such culture in any section of the galaxy wipes of any other culture of which they become aware. We have been broadcasting for over a hundred years.

In 2076, a relativistic craft approaches our solar system, and targets every inhabited or radio emitting body with planet smashing light velocity weapons. Only a handful of humans survive. A few are deep beneath the sea. A few inside an asteroid. A few in space ships. Then the unknown aliens begin the task of finding anyone their first strike missed.

An all too believable explanation for the Fermi Paradox. Fascinating and horrible hard science fiction.

Platt, Charles, Protektor

AvoNova, February 1996, 294pp, US$599

A smart virus is destroying the infrastructure of a pleasure world, threatening anarchy, and killing many as technology fails. Protektor Tom McCray has the responsibility of finding and defeating both the computer virus and those who created it.

Lots of computer fears from the present day extended relatively slightly (Platt has long written about computers, collaborated with Dave Langford on MicroMania, and I recall in the very early days of personal computers, he wrote a word processor manual for Dow Kwong Fok Lok Sow ... don't ask!) This novel is more a mystery adventure, set in a somewhat futuristic holiday planet.

Pratchett, Terry, Interesting Times

Corgi (Transworld), January 1996, 352pp, A$11.95

Another Discworld novel, touching upon The Butterfly Effect. Cohen the Barbarian hitches up his surgical truss, and is seeking new empires to conquer, so that he can settle down in his old age (he is over 90 after all). Rincewind manages to misspell wizard, which is a bad move. Worst of all, they are in the most ancient and inscrutable empire in the Discworld, now unfortunately in the midst of revolutionary fervour, brought on by the untimely distribution of Two Flowers' astonishing work "What I did on My Holidays". And The Luggage finds true love.

My memory of the curses is that there are three. "May you live in interesting times", "May you come to the attention of the authorities", and finally "May all your wishes come true". Another wonderful tale for Discworld readers. Plot synopsis? Don't be silly.

Sheffield, Charles, Proteus In The Underworld

Baen, May 1995, 304pp, US$5.99

Strange lifeforms are found in the biofeedback tanks, hostile, killing beasts, however the one infallible test shows that they started out human. Bright protagonists seek the solution to this, and other mysteries. A fine fast paced adventure. Alas, I dislike novels with shape changers.

Steakley, John, Armour

Daw, Dec 1984, 426pp, A$10.95 US$5.50

Starship Troopers redone, and far more cynical than Heinlein. Felix always gets back from fighting the gigantic ants. Without briefings, without support, after losing every other armoured human, way past any reasonable reading of the odds on doing that. And no-one believes he has been doing that for so long. I thought the author failed at a few points, but this remains a striking novel.

Stephenson, Neal, The Diamond Age

Bantam, March 1996, 499pp, US$5.99

After the pizza delivering cyberpunk of Snow Crash, I awaited this new novel of a nanotech age with considerable interest. I was not disappointed. Nations are sundered, and humans owe their allegiance to more voluntary economic groupings. Set mostly in a thriving China Sea locale, the mannered nature of the Atlantean group harks back to 19th century ideals of refined society, and this feeling permeates the entire novel.

A talented nanotech designer is set the task of devising a very special primer, gift from an immensely rich Lord to his grand daughter. The primer is both an educational tool, and means of inculating ethical attitudes. The designer recognises the advantages of such an upbringing, and secretly creates a duplicate for his own daughter.

A series of mishaps place it in the hands of a maltreated waif, where the primer starts raising her as a proper young lady. For here, the adventures of a massive cast begin, spilling through a miriad places in a very strange series of societies. This was a fine, thoughtful, and often funny novel. Hugo nominated, and deserved the nomination.

Stirling, S M, Drakon

Baen, February 1996, 399pp, US$5.99 A$10.95

In an alternate universe the descendants of the losing side in the US Civil War settle in South Africa, continue to own slaves, and eventually rule the earth. They become the Draka, a genetically engineered super-race. Some survivors of the US take the first starship and escape to another sun. Four centuries later, interstellar war is not economically feasible, however minor incursions happen.

Gwendolyn Ingolfsson was one of the earliest Draka. Now four centuries old, she accidentally gets caught in an experiment that throws her into our time and universe. Her goal rapidly becomes to take over the world, and enslave it, just like old times. A detective follows the trail of bodies she leaves in her first few weeks of acclimatising to our world. Meanwhile, the humans from her time manage to drop an a human opponent into our world. Unlike the Draka, the humans violently oppose genetic engineering (or indeed, anything else the Draka see as part of their society).

I thought the first three in this alternate history series covered the main points. The Draken are hardworking, fit, honest, reliable, artistic, and admirable in almost every way except for being utterly evil. The initial three books were a splendid exploration of the nature of evil. The Draka are now just another alien invasion, and have little to do with what it means to be human (since they are no longer human anyway).

Williams, Walter Jon, Metropolitan

Voyager (HarperCollins), 1995, 376pp, A$11.95

Plasm is raw, unadulterated magic, generated by the geometries of the natural world. In this future, generating plasm is a science, and distributing and using it a technology, one that runs the world. A bored clark at the Plasm Authority uncovers an unmapped plasm source, enough to make her rich, if she can find a person able to use it without being caught or destroyed by the raw power.

Mage and revolutionary Constantine is such a man, rich, and meaning to change the world. And this time, he intends to stay in control.

A wonderful story of power and temptation, in a fantasy world that differs from our physics only in the existence of plasm. Highly recommended.

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jan howard finder

164 Williamsburg Court, Albany, NY 12203 USA
6 Jan 96

I have managed to survive the semester and very much enjoying the break between semesters. Sigh! Only 10 more days and then back to the grind. However, I'll only be heading over twice a week instead of every day.

Receiving your zines was a pleasant find in my mailbox. I could actually sit down and read them thru.

Eric: No doubt you would find fascinating some of the Army Manuals I ran across in my years with the military. I still base a few of the more interesting ones in my basement. Wanna start a revolution? Have I got a couple of books for you. I must admit, as much as I like mysteries, techno thrillers, even James Bond novels, tho the movies are a hoot, that is about as close to an adventure as I care to get. Violence is against my religion: I'm a devout and practicing coward!

I enjoyed your con report and the photos. I've been corresponding with Mike O'Brien (Laura his sister? {{not related}} now I can put a face to the name. I may have met him in 75, but that was a little bit ago. Your experience with vandals was a real bummer. It happens everywhere. When I was turning in my car in Glasgow, the couple ahead of us were standing around the remains of their rental. Someone had done a smash and grab, thru their rear window, of everything they had with them for their holidays. They weren't very happy campers.

I enjoyed reading about your travels before the con. You hit some of the places I hope to visit, however, I do hope to have a little bit more time to enjoy the scenery and during the summer.

I had to smile at your mention of cold weather. More on that later.

The con did sound fun. The main reason, besides showing off, is sitting down with folk for a natter. I truly enjoy the folk I met at cons.

It is nice to hear that Roger and Pat Sim went over well as DUFF reps. They are really nice folk. I'm glad that my tickets were so useful to you and them. As I'm still supporting wombats at Taronga, you'll get a few more from time to time - I'll also have to look for a couple of the books you mentioned.

Oh yes, I did do well in my first two auto tech courses. I got two As'. However, I wouldn't let me near my car, not yet. Looking to the next two. The courses were fun.

Buck Coulson

You get one letter for 2 fanzines because I'm a cheapskate. I'll comment separately and you can divide up the letter however you want to.

Gegenschein first. I get the US Cavalry catalog now and then. Never bought anything from it. If you lived in New York City instead of Ryde, you might find a use for an urban assault vest. As it is you don't need it and I don't need it, but there are people who are sorry they didn't have one at the right time, and others who are dead and therefore beyond being sorry. Obviously, you got a catalog because they're expanding their market to the wilds of Australia. Who knows when there will be an abo uprising?

I wasn't sure Robin Johnson was still alive. I met him once when he was pushing Aussiecon I, and he seemed like a very nice person. May have met Mike O'Brien; that face looks vaguely familiar, but I'm not sure.

With open-pit mining, it depends a bit on what you're mining. Copper mines, open pit or underground, seem to devastate the entire landscape for miles around. Some other minerals aren't so damaging outside of the pit itself.

Over to what we're doing. Shoveling snow, mostly. It's been snowing off and on ever since 1996 started. We shoveled the driveway -- all 180 feet of it -- Jan. 3 and 4. Biggest drifts were about 2.5 feet high. Went to Musicon in Nashville Tennessee Jan. 5-7 and had to stay overnight on the 7th because of snow and ice closing the interstate highway. First time we've had to stay over at a con, and in Nashville! It's not exactly considered blizzard country. Got stuck in the drive when we got home on the 8th, so we shoveled the drive again on the 9th. All of it. Again. On the 10th I shoveled out the mailbox and dug out the trash burner. By then the snow had enough crust so I could walk on top of it, so I just dug dow inside the burner and then hauled out the paper trash, tossed it into the hole, and flang a match on top of it. (Yes, we recycle. You can't recycle everything.) And it's been snow all day today and we slithered a lot when we got back from town, so we'll probably shovel the drive again tomorrow. It's great exercise, I suppose, but I still ache a bit from the last time. It's supposed to quit snowing and warm up over the weekend, but I've seen no sign of it yet. The DeWeeses were coming for a visit and Christmas exchange this weekend, but we talked them out of it. No place to park; the drifts from the snow and our shoveling are up to 6 feet deep on both sides of the driveway.

We have a new dog now. Elli is an Irish Setter/Golden Retriever cross. Maybe a year old. Got her at the animal shelter, after the manager admitted that she'd started to "put her down" (standard US pet substitute for kill) twice and refrained, hoping to find someone to take her. After 3 months, she's begun to nag us; sits on the patio and barks at the back door if she thinks she's not getting enough attention. A 70-pound puppy. I'm getting her walk on leash, but she refuses to walk past children. At all. (A clue to who abused her.) She loves riding in the car with the windows open -- not a good idea in January.

I figure she'll be a good exercise machine by the time the weather is fit for outdoor exercise. Got to get her used to the fact that we'll protect her from other people, so she can walk past them without wanting to head the other way. Meanwhile I can keep fit by shoveling snow. Official word is 6" or so this time. 10" the time before and 6" the first time. With high winds every time, which produced the drifts. Weatherman on TV said this time the storm came farther north than expected. (They weren't wrong, you understand; just a slight miscalculation on the precise area covered.)

Not reading a lot of stf since my reviewing job ended. Mostly Lois Bujold, Gene Wolfe, and David Drake. A few others now and then. I read George Turner whenever I can find one of his books, which isn't a frequent occurrence around here. Much easier when I was getting them free from the publisher. Currently I'm reading Icebound, an account of the 1879 US polar expedition. A present, which goes well with the rest of my small library of polar expedition books and fits into the surrounding scenery. Once that's finished, I have a couple of military histories and a biography of John Dillinger, the bank robber. I've already read the two books of Indiana history that I got for Christmas. For less serious material, I get mysteries and romances and westerns from the Hartford City library, or re-read my supply of all three.

P.S. I'm starting to accumulate fannish return-address stickers. Note this one. {{The Xmas tree was upside down. EL}}

Richard Faulder

P.O. Box 136 Yanco, NSW 2703
faulder at agric nsw gov au
27th January 1996

Afraid there's not much I find myself able to comment on in this Geg. I'm amazed at your recall of minutiae, especially if you are, as you imply, semiconscious at the time. You must make copious ex post-facto notes. To compile the following I used the itinerary I made up before I left Australia, and the postcards I sent to the research lab at work, as memory prompts. Even so, it's not as complete as it could be, since it's intended for a number of different people. For instance, how many people would be interested in the meals I had while out with the Dentons? (Enormous salmon steaks at the pow-wow, a large helping of excellent pasta on our return to Seattle and another large meal (allegedly traditional USAmerican) on our way back from the wildlife refuge. Nor can I talk about shopping trips - I tried to spend as little as I could, haunted by a vision of running out of money in the backb1ocks of southern Italy, out of reach of autobanks or people willing to accept credit cards or travellers cheques. With that in mind, on with the show.

Nineteen ninety five was the year for my first (and possibly last) overseas trip. After arriving at Los Angeles on Friday August 18 I flew on to Portland, Oregon, where I checked into the local bed'n breakfast I had booked in Australia. That night at a local seafood restaurant I had my first encounter with the phenomenon of tipping. When I apologised to the waiter for my awkwardness, saying that I came from Australia, where people were paid enough not to need tipping, she responded "I wish I lived in a place like that".

Portland, though, was only an overnight stop on the way to Seattle. (Why Seattle? A number of years ago I read in a fanzine a description of the area around the city. At the time Australia was in the middle of one of its many droughts, and the Seattle area sounded so green, compared with the brown outside my window, that I resolved to visit Seattle if I was ever in the U.S.A..) To view the landscape on the way to Seattle I had paid for a train seat in Australia, so that Saturday August 19 found me in a queue across the tracks (no platform) at Portland station to an enormous Amtrack carriage. After a four-hour trip through forest, farmland (all green) and occasional towns and ocean views, I arrived in Seattle. A more or less successful negotiation of the Seattle bus system took me to the bed'n breakfast I had booked in Australia.

Over the next two days two local science fiction fans, Frank and Anna Jo Denton, showed me the green, and more, of the Seattle area. Sunday was a trip via ferry to the other side of Puget Sound, then along a tree-lined road to a Native American pow-wow, which which made a strong impression on me, contrasted with the dispirited conditions in which many of, our aborigines find themselves. Monday afternoon was a hike through a local National Wildlife Refuge. Green and moist, with not a gum-tree in sight.

Tuesday was a day to do the laundry, then relax. The host of the bed'n breakfast was an avowed Republican, but encouraged political discussion over the delicious home-cooked food she served at breakfast. One morning she asked, me about the Australian political system, and of course was confused when I labelled myself as a "small-l liberal", so that I had to explain that in Australia Liberals are conservatives.

Wednesday 23 August saw me flying to Washington DC on a ticket I had bought in Australia. A more or less successful negotiation of the, Washington Metro and Maryland bus systems took me to the bed'n breakfast I had booked in Australia. The accommodation was actually in Silver Spring, an area of the the state of Maryland next to Washington DC. It proved to be a treelined area, and the house was actually provided with a cat, to my great pleasure. The breakfasts were less traditional than those at Seattle, but just as delicious.

Thursday 24 August saw me fulfil the object of my visit to Washington DC: a visit to the National Museum of Natural History, specifically the arachnology section. Unfortunately I had not been able to contact the section before I left Australia, and the head of the section was not there. Fortunately one of his assistants, who was responsible for the day-to-day running of the collection, was there. He was most valuable in letting me know the extent of their holdings of the relatives of the mouse spiders (which were the subject of my Master's thesis) and providing me with a contact point.

This left me with time to inspect the public galleries of the NMNH. These included a very informative insect "zoo", including some Australian insects, at least partly funded by a local Pest Control Operator company. There was the inevitable section on the evolution of life, but it was not arranged in the way that most museums do it - all the organisms from a given time period grouped together. Rather, the evolution of each group of organisms through time was followed separately. I was delighted to at a diorama showing life-size reconstructions of the Burgess Shale fauna from the dawn of multicellular animal life, including some of my favorites, such as Hallucigenia and Opabinia.

With Friday unexpectedly free, I spent it in the National Air and Space Museum. Displays here were not actually eclectic, but neither were they arranged so as to enable visitors to easily build up a coherent picture of the whole. There was a partial restoration of the "Enola Gay" (the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima) as part of the V-J day commemorations, but there was nothing in the display that questioned the morality of the action.

Saturday was a day to do the laundry, then relax. I did spend a little time in political discussion with one member of the couple who ran the accommodation. She identified herself as a Democrat, but in industrial relations and social policy she would have been to the right of our Labor Party.

A Sunday train ride paid for in Australia brought me into the Big Apple and a small hotel. When I booked it in Australia I knew that it was close to the American Museum of Natural History. In the event, though, it was just on the opposite side of the street. I was told later that it was popular accommodation for scientists visiting the Museum.

Monday 28 August was mostly spent in the AMNH arachnology section, examining the American relatives of the mouse spiders. I even found one, individual which may belong to a new genus.

On Tuesday morning I went in to the museum again, this time to view the public galleries, and ended up staying the whole day. The dinosaurs and other fossil vertebrates bad well-lit new displays. However, other displays, notably those dealing with invertebrates and anthropology, were looking a bit dark and weary. There was also a general tendency to be a bit too academic. I saw no sign of the legendary Big Apple hostility. Then again, by the time I left the hotel the morning rush seemed to be over. Nor did things seem to be tense in the early evening (about. 8:30PM). This might only be true of a limited locality, since I didn't bother going outside the area bounded by 23rd St., Columbus Ave and the top of Broadway.

One thing I did notice in the U.S.A. generally was the widespread advertising and availability of tobacco and alcohol.

Wednesday 30 Aug afternoon featured my only trip on the New York subway, to Kennedy airport.

Thursday 31 August, early in the morning, found me on the other side of the Big Pond. An easy trip by the Underground and shanks pony brought me to the small hotel, paid for in Australia and within walking distance of The Natural History Museum. Rather than waste time I walked down to the Museum and made contact with the curator of arachnology. Unfortunately he wasn't very approachable (which is how other arachnologists find him, also), so I decided it was best not to examine the specimens themselves, but I did copy the labels on the jars, so that I know which specimens I can ask for at a later date.

In terms of its architecture the Museum is built mote like a cathedral than what is usually thought of as a museum. Its displays about arthropods, dinosaurs, evolution and ecology seemed as though they would be more easily understood by the public than those of any other museum I've seen.

That evening's meal was fish and chips. It was actually quite hard to find a shop selling this allegedly traditional English meal - there would have been no trouble getting USAmerican style fast food, though.

Friday was now free, so I started walking northeast in search of a detailed map of Italy. Having found one I headed south as far as Trafalgar Square and discovered to my surprise that the plaza on which Nelson's Column stands is actually cut into the side of a hill. It never looks like that in the tourist pictures. From there I headed towards Buck House, but eventually found my way blocked by queues of people lining up to go inside. After wandering in a north-westerly direction I finally came upon Hyde Park, and from there back to Cromwell Road and the hotel. London appeared more set up to cater to tourists (especially USAmerican ones) than anywhere else I'd been. Perhaps that's why it seemed to me merely old, rather than steeped in history. Pity.

Midday on Saturday 2 September saw me lining up at Waterloo Station, ready to board a Eurostar, the high-speed train for the trip under the English Channel that Id paid for in Australia. I say high-speed advisedly, since the night before it had started raining (surprise, surprise) which flooded many of the electrical connections between London and the Chunnel, so that the train alternated between just sitting, creeping and (very) occasional high-speed spurts. Once the train entered the Chunnel it very soon began high-speed running all the way to Paris, but this wasn't enough to make up the two hours lost in England.

As soon as I arrived in Paris I validated the Eurail pass which would give me five days of rail travel in Europe. Then I took the short walk to the Rue des Petits-Hels (which I thought rather quaint) where the Hotel Royal Magenta, the small hotel I'd paid for in Australia, was located. On the way I picked up a piece of The City of Light - a dog dropping - on my boot. I was not impressed. There were a few cafes between the station and the hotel sporting multilingual menus, so I chose one. If that was french cuisine, it certainly didn't tickle my taste buds.

Sunday 3 September morning brought another unpleasant surprise: the Paris Metro. This seemed the best way to get to the station from which the train to my next destination would leave. However, as I soon found out, Metro "trains" do not run on rails. Rather they have enormous rubber wheels which run in concrete channels, producing horrendous noise and a spine-jarring acceleration.

After that I was glad to relax during the four hour high-speed TGV train trip to Geneva. After a bit of confusion in catching a bus I made it to the Museum d'Histoire Natural to register for the International Arachnological Congress. From there transport was organized to the Cite Universitaire where I was one of a number of Congress attendees being accommodated.

For the next five days attendees were given a feast of matters arachnological, mostly useful and interesting, including papers on arachnid relationships, biology and usefulness. These last included papers on the role of spiders in cropping. For instance, Jan Green, operating out of the Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Pest Management at the University of Queensland presented a paper on "Spiders in biological Control: An Australian Perspective". On the other band, people giving papers on regional spider fauna apparently thought this meant giving long lists of names and numbers - very soporific.

The Museum d'Histoire Natural, in which the Congress was held, had been in full operation at its present site since 1988. Some of the displays seemed a bit eclectic. There was also a general lack of explanatory signage, other than just the name of the animal or object.

A minor incident sticks in my mind. One night I went out to get myself an evening meal, and went into a small restaurant. Now, I know no french, and the waiter obviously knew no english (Geneva is in the french part of Switzerland) but she and I managed to make ourselves understood well enough to provide me with a quite acceptable meal.

On Sunday 10 September, a week after leaving Paris, I left Geneva on my way south. Just under ten hours later I reached Roma after passing through Milano and Bologna. As soon as I arrived I went to the english-language timetables information office and asked for details of the trains which would take me to Cinquefrondi. (Cinquefrondi, the village from which Sam Amato, the farmer on whose farm I live came, is in Calabria, the front part of the "foot"of the "boot" which is Italy.) My map showed a rail connection between Gioia Tauro, on the main coastal rail line, and Cinquefrondi, but the enquiry officer could only find a connection to Polistena, the town just before it. That didn't seem too bad, so I went off to find the small hotel nearby that I had booked in Australia. It wasn't exactly obvious - a brass plate set beside a large wooden double door - but once in there was no problem.

Next morning I set off on the most uncharted part of my trip. The train passed through Napoli and down the coast without arousing any nervousness on my part, then came to a station not marked on my map. There the carriages were separated with mine left standing, engineless. The longer it stood there the more nervous I became, and eventually I hauled my luggage to the traffic control room, seeking enlightenment. One of the controllers wrote down the time and platform of the next train that would pass through Gioia Tauro.

What arrived was an ancient single-car railmotor which took the direct, inland route to Gioia Tauro on a rail line not marked on the map. After arriving at Gioia Tauro I checked the timetable board for the next train to Polistena. Nuttin', so I tried to ask the ticket seller, who pointed through the station entrance and said something about "cinquanta mille" (50,000). "A bus?", I thought, but no sign of a bus stop. Instead there were a couple of taxi drivers waiting for passengers and when I asked "quante?" (how much?), asked for cinquanta mille lira. Given the relative values of the Ozdollar and the lira, and the distance (about 40 km.) this seemed reasonable to me, besides apparently being the only game in town, I accepted.

Fortunately Sam Amato had given me a contact: his cousin Giuseppe, who ran a restaurant on the via Dante Alighieri. The taxi driver found the restaurant (which was somewhat sparse) and while I waited for Giuseppe to arrive the cook served a free meal of a large plate of spaghetti and tomato sauce, followed by half a chook. Meanwhile Giuseppe had arrived, followed by other members of the Amato clan, including Michele, one of Sam's brothers, and an uncle who greeted me with "Hello, mate" - he had lived in Australia for a while. After some discussion amongst the clan members Michele apparently volunteered to have me stay in his house, there being no hotel in Cinquefrondi (which Sam hadn't known).

Tuesday 12 September, and Michele and his wife Maria not only provided me with breakfast, but he then took me out into the surrounding countryside and showed me his farms. Running those farms must have been hard work - they consisted of olive trees on narrow terraces down the sides of steep dry hillsides, and everything would have had to been done by hand. Next stop was at cousin Giuseppe's, where some of the members of the clan were busy feeding grapes into a crusher, the juice flowing into large concrete tanks to be made into wine. After lunch some other members of the clan dropped into Michele and Maria's to ask me about Yanco and the sort of things I did there. Armed with only a small dictionary and my very poor ability with italian, I hope my replies weren't too limited.

Wednesday 13 September, and Michele drove me to Gi6ia Tduro railway station, provided me with food and soft drink and saw me off on the train to Roma with the traditional kiss on each cheek. I was very touched by the way the family had taken in this strange inarticulate creature, whom they must have thought slightly mad. The trip back to Roma was uneventful, although I had to stand most of the way because I did not have a booked seat. At least I could make my way straight back to the hotel.

Thursday 14 September, and I used up my last day's rail journey on the surprisingly long trip to Roma's Fiumicino airport. One amusing incident at Fiumicino: while standing in line to check in my baggage for a flight to London the young woman in front of me turned around and asked me if I spoke english. 'No",said I, having noticed the Australian labels on her luggage, "I speak Australian." To my surprise she flung her arms around me and said "Oh, thank God". Apparently she had been on a group tour in which she was the only Australian and english speakers were in the minority.

The flights from then on were uneventful, although I hadn't expected the brief stopover at Bangkok. I arrived back in Sydney at five in the morning, made my way back to Mum's and collapsed into bed for the rest of the day.

About a month later events were to occur which meant that at the beginning of 1996 my position has never seemed so uncertain since my last months in teaching. I don't know how much you've heard, but in October 1995 the NSW Department of Agriculture announced the closure of its central laboratories at Rydalmere in Sydney, regional veterinary laboratories at Wagga Wagga and Armidale and some smaller research stations throughout the state, the staff to be dispersed to the remaining centres. The whole operation is to be completed by February 1997. Of course, most of those people slated to be moved are established in their local communities, and will find it extremely difficult to move. However, if they don't move they will be sacked, thus achieving the Director-General's aim of reduction in staff numbers by "natural attrition", the loss of expertise accumulated over many years being of no importance. Any angst this causes amongst the farming and rural communities is of no concern to the state government, since they only have one seat in the rural part of the state. Savings can be directed to the urban areas, including such vital public infrastructure as the Olympic Games site. (When this suggestion is put to them the Minister and senior bureaucrats avoid answering.) While the Minister has no hidden agenda - he didn't want the portfolio in the first place, and has no background in the rural areas - the same cannot be said for the Director General. He believes that drastically cutting a government department will make him more salable to private enterprise as a management consultant or a director, after he retires early.

Maia. E. Cowan

1306 Cherokee, Royal Oak, MI 48067-3386 USA
January 27,1996 I see by the Gegenschein mailing label that the news has not yet reached you; please don't be too startled or dismayed by the next sentence. Earlier this winter, Lan asked me for a divorce. The proceedings are going forward fully as civilly as such things can ever go. I am keeping the house (ergo the address and telephone number). His new mailing address is P.O. Box 8O1, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303 (the Cranbrook School P O Box) he is currently renting a friend's basement apartment, but has said he hopes to get a Cranbrook campus apartment). Our e-mail addresses, by the by, are respectively maiacowan at aol com and george_laskowski at cc cranbrook edu.

But on to more cheerful matters. I enjoyed reading your mentions of Pat and Roger Sims' DUFF trip. They're two of my favorite people, and probably the only DUFF winners to send postcards to all the voters during their trip!

I've read a pitifully few of the books you review this issue. I admit I wasn't all that impressed by John Barnes' Mother of Storms. It reminded me too much of a disaster-movie-of- the-week, and seemed to go on a bit long for the actual substance of the storyline. As I've said of each of Kim Stanley Robinson's "Mars" novels: "There's a terrific novella buried in that novel."

I appreciate your comment about Leonore Fleischer's Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I'm totally bemused by the trend of basing movies on novels, then basing entirely new novels on those movies. [And I've decided the novelization of Demi Moore's The Scarlet Letter should be written by Danielle Steel, as it certainly is not faithful to the original and descends into sleazy romance by the end.

At the beginning of this month I spent a week at Disney World in Florida, and took with me old and new stories by favorite authors. Read them all, too, mostly on the plane. The old stories were in a collection by James H. Schmitz; I discovered his "Telzey Amberdon" stories when I was just about Telzey's age, and I like to think they have a permanent effect on me. The new story was Lois McMaster Bujold's Cetaganda, lighter fare by far than her recent Hugo winners and an enjoyable visit with her hero Miles.

Most of my reading lately has been not reading, literally, but Books on Tape (so I can do housework, driving, etc., at the same time). My local library has a wide selection, free for three weeks. I've ranged from a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt through a walking tour of Historic London [England] to several Jane Austen novels. I particularly recommend English writers and nearly all mystery novels for this format; they seem better suited for reading aloud than any other writing. The greatest risk, of course, is that I neglect things that can't be done while listening to a story, because I've become far too engrossed in the book.

In spite of the obvious emotional aspects of my current situation, and the attendant details which are merely tiresome and time-consuming, all is well here. I look forward to the next Gegenschein and (please mention to Jean) the next Weber Woman's Wrevenge [did I spell that right?].

Chester D. Cuthbert

1104 Mulvey Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3M JJ5
January 28, 1996

Although your envelope had a sea mail sticker it reached me much sooner than usual, having the postmark January 17. It must have come by air, yet the enclosure was Gegenschein #72 for last August. I see that it is in sequence with the earlier issue I acknowledged in my letter of January 24, 1995, so it is over a year that has passed between my receiving issues.

I must confess that my situation has not changed from what I said in my last letter. Although I did read the book reviews I am unlikely to read the books themselves as I have more on hand for reading than time in which to read them.

I continue to be interested in your personal activities and reports, and if you wish to continue sending me Gegenschein I am grateful for your thoughtfulness. My own interests are narrowing because of my age, and I'm afraid that my economic views will not be accepted in the present political climate, so my enthusiasm is lessened.

May you continue to enjoy fandom!

All good wishes,

{{My attention to mailing and scheduling my fanzine has been fairly erratic during the Aussiecon Three bid. EL}}

John J. Alderson

Havelock Vic 3465

In quick succession I have received copies of Gegenschein 72 and 73, for which I thank you. Have you gone mad again and restarted publishing fanzines or had you forgotten me? It is a shock, in some respects to look through these pages and see my old friends now grey-bearded. I hope they have attained unto the wisdom, which is supposed to come with old age, rather than clumsy fingers, vague memory and a disinclination to do anything terribly strenuous that is the reality.

Don't suppose its your fault, but I hate this term "chair" for chairman, it makes one feel like a piece of furniture, which indeed it implies. One cannot bastardise the language like that, and it is obviously Sexist, it's getting rid of "man" if only from the language.

Have been, and still am going through the archival part of my establishment, murdering silverfish (could cockroaches be encouraged to eat silverfish?) and putting what they have left into archival envelopes, hopefully with the view of sorting them etc next time around, next time around meaning when I tackle my archives again. Today I found an issue of Osiris by Dennis Stocks, which I had forgotten, and which I had two articles published in, possibly commissioned (asked for, not paid for which I have forgotten and which I read with some enlightenment. Oh well. didn't know I was so learned! Its a shock to one.

R-Laurraine Tutihasi

71613.1227 at compuserve com
25 Jan 96 01:41:45

As for the flyers you sent about the memory book, I made an announcement at the LASFS and left a few flyers there. I will also take the remaining flyers to two cons I expect to be attending soon.

You described your airline food as "a little ice crunchy." I guess their microwave wasn't working very well.

Is grapefruit chocolate like orange chocolate? The latter is basically chocolate with orange flavouring.

Just how many books do you have, anyway? Mike and I together probably have about 3500 books.

{{About 3000 SF, and nearly the same in non-fiction (all getting more and more obsolete). EL}}

A banquet with venison has got to be the best I've ever heard of. Most convention banquets I've been to were just terrible. The two good ones I can remember happened at Equicon '76 and Seacon '79. But neither seem as good as the one you describe.

My cons this year will be Gallifrey, Con-Dor, Westercon, and LACon.

Thanks again.


Gordon Lingard

PO Box 413, Kensington NSW 2033. (02)344-5510
glingard at neumann une edu au

Great to see a Gegenschein and read your trip report. I looking forward to seeing a Weber Woman's Wrevenge to compare her impressions of the trip to yours. Anyway, this is a quick note to just keep in touch and I look forward to seeing both you and Jean soon.

R-Laurraine Tutihasi

71613.1227 at compuserve com
Date: 01 Feb 96 00:42:44 EST

I'm impressed by the number of books you have.

I wouldn't worry about Australia's bid. There is no other serious bid. It's a shoe-in. I've already asked my employer about vacation time to go to Australia in 1999; he said it should be do-able.

Michael Paul McDowell

73740.15 at compuserve com
Subject: Gegenschein

It seems like more than a year since I've seen a copy of Gegenschein -- are you still pubbing your 'zine? If so, I'd like to get back on the mailing list. Or if you've gone digital, please send me the ftp or WWW address.

A lot has been happening here. Gwen and I welcomed a baby girl, Amanda Kathryn McDowell, on March 19. In April we moved out of our townhouse and into a 1450-sq ft ranch in Okemos, Michigan (just a few miles east of where we were living). I'm writing a STAR WARS trilogy for Bantam, titled "The Black Fleet Crisis," and turned in the first book, Before The Storm, in August. It'll be published as an original paperback next April, with the others to follow by the end of 1996. And I've just signed on to write a big SF novel with Arthur C. Clarke, titled Trigger. We'll start work on it next spring, as soon as I'm finished with the STAR WARS books.

There's been a bit of a lull since Exile appeared (1992 in hardcover, 1993 in paper), but--as you can see--that'll be over soon.

Best wishes,


 | Michael Paul McDowell      -| Writing as Michael P. Kube-McDowell,      -|
 |   73740.15 at compuserve com  -|   author of EMPRISE, ENIGMA, EMPERY,      -|
 |   MIKE.K-MAC at genie geis com |   THIEVES OF LIGHT, ROBOT CITY: ODYSSEY,  -|
 | POB 22066, Lansing MI 48909 |   ALTERNITIES, THE QUIET POOLS, and EXILE. |
 | New in April, 1996: STAR WARS: The Black Fleet Crisis - Before the Storm |
 | Visit my World Wide Web Home Page: |

{{Review copies expected from the publisher. Check the next few issues for details of Australian availability. EL}}

Geoff Jaego

mastery at iinet net au

G'day Eric

Just received Geg 73, thank you. Read the June 94 trip report and laughed many times as I remembered the experiences Barb and I had when we visited last June. It was my first trip overseas, so it was very interesting to note the differences and similarities between the US and here. The comment about restaurant meals says a lot about the differences. Why do they make their servings so big! Barb and I could live quite happily on one person's serving, and we saw lots of natives who were the same size as us. Maybe they're the one's that don't eat in restaurants ...

Your zine arrived in good time, because it reminded us that we've had a Christmas newsletter for you sitting on the office desk waiting for a stamp. We should post it before it's too old.

I'll visit your web page on the weekend. We only have one line for the office, so I try to stay off the modem during business hours. In case you haven't heard, we are now in business for ourselves. We sell hardware and software for multimedia developers and graphic artists. We also do video digitising and CD-ROM burning as a bureau service. Yes, I agree, fandom seems to attract computer people, or vice versa. Doctoral dissertation, anyone?

{{More likely computing is a good field for butterfly minds. You could get jobs with few formal qualifications, you can learn it without teachers. Obviously designed for fans. They used to get into tech writing, editing, and similar. EL}}

Anyway, gotta go. All our best to you and Jean - Geoff and Barb

                      Geoff Jagoe and Barb de la Hunty
                        Mastery Multimedia Pty Ltd
                              ACN 066 766 809

"Interactive Multimedia product sales with particular interest in video,
Quicktime, QTVR, Radius, Panasonic and breaking away from the keyboard and
mouse paradigm.
 Ask about the WaveRider biological interface to MIDI!"

22 Fraser Rd, Applecross Perth WA 6153 Australia   --------------  .-_|\ ---
Voice: +61 9 364 2134 * Fax: +61 9 364 1480                       /     \
mail mastery at iinet net au                               Perth   *_.-._/
                                                   ------------------- v ---

Leigh Edmonds

ledmonds at echidna cowan edu au
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 1996 22:40:34 +0800 (WST)

Finally, and with the magical assistance of Don Griffith, I'm able to use the wonders of e-mail to send little messages to people around the globe. In a short couple of weeks I've already been able to do quick little things which previously would have taken a month or so. What will they think of next. I have yet to have the kind of software to have a play in the WWW, but all this is amazing enough to keep me going for a while.

I liked Geg 73. As usual all those book reviews make me realise that I need more hours in the day and some up to date books. Last Sunday I felt the urge to read some stf so the best I could come up with a John Varley collection published in 1984. Gosh, I used to think that he could write good. Maybe my tasted have changed in 12 years.

Your trip report reminded me of my trip to the US the year before last. Valma and I have discovered the delights of Society for the History of Technology meetings which occur once a year, sort of like WorldCons for historians of technology. I went to the annual meeting in Washington in 1993 - the trip started by having to come home again from the airport because a kamikazi bird had bent one of the compressor blades on the 747 when it was landing and they couldn't straighten it out locally so they had to fly in a new blade from Sydney. So the flight left the next morning bright and early and arrived at Sydney airport just in time to send us scurrying up one aerobridge, through customs and security and down the other aerobridge and off to Los Angeles. The disaster there was that I left the big thick collection of stf I'd bought to keep me sane on the trans-Pacific flight on the x-ray machine and didn't notice it until we were at cruising altitude. Arrived in Los Angeles before I arrived and then flew up to Seattle and stayed with John Berry for a few days before going on to Washington (DC that is). Perhaps the thing that I remember most about the SHOT meeting was the breakfast that was provided each morning, Pepsi and doughnuts!

I note that your trip was less than a month this time. I guess that had a lot to do with the amount of time you can get away from work. Maybe also you aren't as endlessly energetic as you used to be and can't keep up the endless expenditure the way you used to. I know I can't. I've come to the conclusion that I'd rather go away for three or so weeks and not come back totally worn out. We more or less did that on our trip to the eastern states in December.

Yes, work gets in the way of long trips. But maybe lacking the energy to tackle a really long trip is equally true. EL}}

I suppose you might not have heard of our little excitement in Melbourne. I was diagnosed with a detaching retina and had emergency surgery at the Eye and Ear Hospital to glue it back on again. It worked well and everything was fine but it has done havoc to the work I'm supposed to be doing. It all happened very quickly. Diagnosed at about noon, registered at the hospital around 1, lay around waiting for something to happen for endless hours (and with no food), operation from 11pm to 12.30 (with local anaesthetic), inspected by doctor at 6 and allowed to go at 10. I was told I'd be in hospital for two or three days but I guess that Jeff Kennet's health care cuts stuffed that up. Even with the quick hospital stay it was more or less a month before the eye (my good eye as a matter of fact) was back to working order again.

Interesting comments on Thylacon. Of course Grant Stone doesn't zoom around all the time, it just seems like it. We sometimes go and visit he and Sheryl and the kids and he has been known to sit still for up to ten or fifteen minutes under those circumstances.

Have you and Jean figured out whether you're likely to get to the Perth convention? Valma rang the hotel tonight to book us in and we had to settle for the overflow hotel. Oh well, that's what happens to old gafiates.

From R McGrath at dca gov au

Wed Feb 21 08:27 EST 1996

I really have a good reason for ignoring Gegenschein and WWW - I've been too involved in wedding preparations. Gary Luckman is the fortunate fellow, and we're getting married on 9 March in Canberra. The whole thing has somehow become bigger than Ben Hur and I'm almost regretting not having a quiet garden wedding at home in Tasmania.

Furthermore, I haven't read many books which I'm proud to admit to reading. I've read some of the Star Trek: The Next Generation books and a few of the original Star Trek series books. Must admit that Kirk is a bit too much in large doses.

Irwin Hirsh

26 Jessamine Ave, East Prahran VIC 3181, Australia (in 1999)
5 February, 1996

Thanks for Gegenschein 73. Like you with your fanzine I'm doing an electronic version of this LoC prior to the paper version, and the former will contain material that will not appear in the latter.

I was taken by your note atop the Ain99 flyer. Will I be voting, you ask? As a member of the Melbourne in 85 bidding committee I can understand you asking me to vote. But I'm not sure if I will be. I'm not a supporting member of LACon 3, so the whole process will cost me about $87, and I can't afford that. I could afford to join LACon 3, or I can afford to vote, but not both. It's a pity really as for about 15 years I always had a worldcon membership, taking out each membership by voting in site-selection. I stopped voting after being unemployed in mid-1992 and because I was getting frustrated in how Worldcons treat their supporting members. Every year since about 1989 I've had to write chasing up copies of programme books, etc. I still haven't received programme books from Conadian or Intersection. With the former I twice written them. I don't consider that my supporting membership fee should include the cost of me writing letters chasing up items I am entitled to. LACon 3 is the first Worldcon since 1979 to which I don't have a membership. I'm trying my best in other ways: putting the Ain99 slogan on every fannish letter I write. I still owe money to Ain99 and the fanfunds from the fanzines I bought from you. (I recently sent Alan my DUFF vote and I added in an extra $10 from your sale.)

{{The Intersection folks came through with their Program Book recently. I'm hoping similar plans to get the Conadian Program Book out here also work. I guess it is a problem inherent in any volunteer organisation. No-one wants to work when the con is over. EL}}

As I imagined would happen the book review which most took my attention is the longest one you wrote. Your Harlan Ellison story is, I'd venture, hardly unique. By this I don't mean that others would be able to say the same about Harlan Ellison, but that advising and assisting others is a trait which is not the sole provence of Ellison. And being helpful to others does not excuse Ellison's performance with The Last Dangerous Visions. Chris Priest wasn't criticising Ellison, the man, just the way in which Last has not got onto our bookshelves.

Speaking of these sorts of things: one the current DUFF candidates has a story in the September 1995 issue of Science Fiction Age and in the contributor's bio. he says that "he has also sold fiction to Pulphouse, Down Deep and The Last Dangerous Visions." I'm still trying to work out if this means that Dedman believes the first named won't be published or if he is trying to build a career out of selling stories which can only be read by visitors to Ellison Wonderland.

I was amused by your line "(a month of soccer games were to begin the next day)". Ahh, there we have it: a non-sports fan in a non-soccer nation. My guess is that USAns didn't consider the World Cup to decide the world champions, as it wasn't their domestic soccer competition.

Re Bruce Pelz's letter: Apart from two Worldcons, the largest convention I've attended had about 1000 attendees, two programme streams, a round-the-clock film. programme, and, get this, it was described by its organisers as a 'relaxacon'. But that's Boston fandom for you. And if remember correctly Minneapolis fandom used to host Maxicons, held about six months away from the Minicons.

Edwina Harvey

12 Flinders St, Matraville, 2036

Thanks for the issue of Gegenschein #74.

I was prompted to write to you having read your comments on the Australia in '99 Worldcon Bid in the editorial.

IF, as you say, you are one of "The half dozen or so Australian fans most heavily involved with the Australia in 1999 Worldcon bid" then why are you trying so hard to shoot the bid in the foot?

I feel that anyone who considered themselves a Dr. Who, Blake's 7, Star Trek or Star Wars fan, or anyone with an interest in filking or costuming who chanced across your editorial would be quite put off attending a Worldcon by your very description.

Your statement implies that such fans would not be welcome at a Worldcon, that specialist fans should stick to specialist cons. Surely this isn't the message you intended to send?

Despite my offers to help being politely declined when I rallied to a call to support the A in '99 bid, I had hoped the convention organizers would have the foresight their counterparts showed in the 1985 Worldcon bid held in Melbourne.

Back then Star Trek, Star Wars etc (aka "media fans") were invited to attend the Worldcon, rather than discouraged from it. While we didn't get the intense programming of our interest/s that you would at a specialized convention, our interests were acknowledged and programming of some items was arranged. The rest of our time was spent socialising, making new friends or attending other programmed items that sounded interesting.

Though not an artist at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed viewing a Worldcon artshow where the pick of the crop was on display. I'm not a costumer, but I loved the glitz and glamour of the masquerade, and know at least one person in my party was encouraged to have a go at costuming herself through this event.

I probably don't fit the criteria of a "lit-fan" either, but some of my favourite authors were at the Worldcon in '85, and I was glad of the opportunity to meet them.

While a Worldcon most likely wouldn't have actors associated with any SF movie or TV program, that doesn't stop it from having SF authors who are connected with TV shows. George RR Martin, Harlan Ellison and David Gerrold are three examples that spring to mind.

To me, the Worldcon in '85 offered a smorgasbord of events I could try. From my point of view, it had very positive and long lasting effects in Australian fandom. (Many of the more recent zines generated in Melbourne got a kick start from the Worldcon there in '85. Some of the current A in '99 bid committee most likely got a taste for Worldcons, by attending Aussiecon'85)

Australian fandom could do with another breath of fresh air that A in '85 brought about. It will have been 14 years since we held a Worldcon in Australia if we win the 1999 bid. That's given a whole new generation time to grow up. Sure their interests mightn't be the same as yours, but why shut the door on their faces? They are, after all, potential con-attendees.

Rather than your derogatory statement that one cannot be the sort of fan a Worldcon is intended for if all you've ever done is ... , why not try seeing it from the other side of the coin?

Worldcons, should be for EVERYONE with some interest in SF.

{{Seems to me that a Worldcon these days is primarily for people who vote at Worldcons, so they were the fans we targetted with our publicity. Relatively few Australian media fans seemed willing to join LACon so they could vote for us. I'm sure we will get lots of people telling us how we should run the event. I'll pay a lot more attention to people who have a history of attending Worldcons than to those who didn't even vote. I don't believe we can handle a very large convention in Australia. It seems to me best to pull a Worldcon here back towards its essentials, in an attempt to reduce the size to what we should be able to handle. Should I lie and say that it will be the greatest Star Trek con ever? It would not be true. I see large numbers of new potential con-attendees as a problem, as well as an opportunity. I figure we can only handle a few hundred extra new attendees, who have no idea what to expect. Maybe if we had a lot of volunteers willing to help ease new fans into our traditions, we could handle larger numbers. However that seems unlikely, given the voting figures (only 7% of the voters were Australian). If lots of people disagree, maybe they should do their own bid some year. EL}}

Patricia McKinlay

15 Baker St, Ipswich Queensland, 4305
18 Feb 1996 give or take a week

Well the first version of this said Merry Christmas! Maybe I should try Happy Easter. Are you feeling OK? I've had 3 Gegenscheins in about 3 months! It's certainly good to get them - they remind me there are sane people in fandom (unlike half of Thyme).

I'm not sure I'm in fandom these days. I've been swallowed up by the local environment group of which I am now secretary and newsletter editor. This environment group is also full of sane people who are a joy to work with. They are calm, positive and into getting things done. They have happy, well adjusted families, and nobody, but nobody cares any more than necessary for meeting's procedure, politics, power and all that shit.

After the interpersonal traumas some of my friends don't seem to know how to do without in their lives, it's heaven and I'm enjoying it while it lasts. It's just peachy when, one after another, most of your friends decide they can't cope with each other anymore!!!

Somja van den Ende has just got herself connected to the internet (as opposed to work which was connected ages ago and is a great place to sort out what you are doing). This means we'll be looking up lots of things soonest. Sonja was chatting to one of the Highlander net people the other day and discovered they had been a supporting member of Australia in 99 for several years. (Debbie someone in the USA or Canada). My next lot long service is getting planned around Melbourne in 99 and there are several other takers as well. God knows about the room sharing arrangements! We were all on speaking terms in 85! but I'll sort that out when it happens. Hope it happens.

Love your Worldcon is for SF fans paragraphs. Basically I agree - this notion of something for everyone ends up with everyone dissatisfied, but I was amazed to discover in a room full of people I would have called sf fans, after watching the relevant Babylon 5 episode (Inquisition?), that only Eiien and 1 knew Robert Bloch had this fascination with Jack the Ripper. Of course they all knew he wrote Psycho! Maybe this proliferation of interest groups just gets the people who aren't interested in how or why the universe is put together out of the way, so the people who are can get on with it?

Speaking of Boskone etc - sometime last (?) year I was watching Highlander at ungodly hours of the morning and while rewinding the tape found myself watching a cartoon version of The Lensmen. The plot was moving at a hell of a clip for children's a.m. tv and it went on for over half an hour. I haven't seen it since. Does anyone know anything about it?

{{I believe it was a Japanese rip off, subject to legal challenge by the estate of E.E.Smith. EL}}

I've enclosed a copy of an article out of one of our public service feel good magazines. It's not very uplifting - but it's dead accurate. I put it in the last Envirocare n/l and I've given it to every public servant I know. The public servant reaction is usually pretty dramatic. Stuart Rees has written a book on managerialism which I must get my hands on. I need am. mutation for the Local Consultative Committee at work and the local council (which isn't bad but it never hurts to be prepared)

One of the biggest hurdles to writing letters to you pair is I really don't know either of you, but having read so much of what you write, this is easy to forget. I'm one of those quiet who actually go to conventions to see the programme (I tried meeting people at the first few and it really put me off the idea - there are some incredibly strange people in fandom!) and since there are so few people here who read anything like the same books I do I have terrible trouble not discussing sf - although I think I've got over this obsession with Orson Scott Card, the Mormons and maybe even the Christian Fundamentalist next door. Religion on the other hand - never - where's the next Matthew Fox book?

Murray Moore

murray.moore at encode com
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 1996 18:03:00 -0500

Your comments about receiving a US Cavalry catalogue caused me to wonder how much of its offering an Australian can own. You don't mention any weapons, i.e. tactical shotgun accessories but not a tactical shotgun. I wonder, is this a merchandising arm of the United States Armed Forces? I don't recall in any John Ford movie which I have seen that the pony soldiers carried tactical shotguns. The modern, Viet Nam, Air Cavalry, okay.

I am a devoted viewer on one of our speciality cable television channels of the Phoenix, Phoenix II, and currently, Criminal Justice, series. Firearms are present rarely in the plots. The episode I viewed yesterday evening included Mal Hennessy shooting to death an associate with an unremarkable-looking handgun.

My only complaint is that I don't always hear Australian. Happily, as a fanzine fan, I read Australian fluently.

I did doubt my eyes, for a moment, when I read that you rented an Avis Charade. All the good names for cars have been used, apparently. Or charade in Australia means other than a party game in which one person makes the rest of the group guess a book or movie title with minimal verbal, and miming, clues.

I second your appreciation of the usefulness of drawers for paperbacks, as you saw in the Bailey household. When we had our attic converted into a bedroom, I made full use of some awkward space by ordering drawers on wheels. To get at the paperbacks, I slide the drawers out from the space under fixed shelving onto the bedroom floor.

See you in FAPA.

Physically at 377 Manly Street, Midland, Ontario, L4R 3E2, Canada

Rich McAllister

From: Richard dot McAllister at Eng Sun COM (Rich McAllister)

Thanks for sending G. 72. Feel free to take me off the paper mailing list, though, since I'm just has happy to read it off the Web. Have you considered a e-mail list to announce new issues so we know when to look? I just checked and noticed #74 has appeared.

Allen Baum just mentioned Jean may be up here in May. Are you coming as well? The Foothill College electronics flea market, which I think you'd like seeing, is on the second Saturday of the month (e.g. May 11th.)

I noticed in G.74 you were talking about what the Worldcon should be. In particular, it sounds like some of the people working on Australia in 1999 want it to be a real 3-ring circus. I agree with you that Worldcon shouldn't try to be all things to all people. Note that one of the smallest, simplest Worldcons in recent memory -- Calgary -- was also considered one of the best by everyone I know who attended (I didn't go.) Another reason to keep it simple is to avoid burnout (consider the Scottish Convention!)

Greg Hills

Greg.Hills at f392 n634 z3 fidonet org
Date: 28 Feb 96 23:42:44 +1100
Subject: Re-establishing contact ...

Thanks for Geg 74, received today, which paper thingie seems to have arrived here in synchronicity with an electronic feed to the aus.sf conference gated from Usenet into Fidonet. (I still haven't acquired an Internet account; I'm a Fidonet sysop running a BBS -- 03-9429-8510). This message comes courtesy of a gateway established by 3rd parties and is by way of being a short LoC on Geg as well as a message to test the link. And I bet you and Jean had given me up for lost ...

The Ain99 bid is getting echoes in various places. Even my badly decayed fannish contacts carry some news, the most recent example being Taras Wolansky's Glasgow report in Fosfax 178, which mentions

One thing I rather enjoyed at one party was a whiteboard with "100s of Reasons to Vote for Australia in '99": "the birds laugh Least likely nuclear target ... Barbies (not the dolls) ... Drop bears [killer koalas] (not in Melbourne) ... Alleged birthplace of Einstein [my suggestion] ... Disease-free camels (we export to Arabia) ... Vegemite (if you dare) ... Gian lcams ... We've got bigger states than Texas ... Friendly sheep (and kangaroos if you buy them a drink)"'

Overall the message seems to be getting through to them that Ain99 is a real bid and deserves to win. :)

Apart from that, Geg 74 seems a trifle bitty: disconnected fragments of text, the parts not quite adding up to the whole. No doubt a consequence of too many things to do, too little time to do them in.

-- Gregh (Greg Hills)

(The address should be good for *brief* email; NOT for files or large email.)

Lawrie Brown

6 Sage Close, Chisholm ACT 2905
24 Feb 1996

Thanks very much for Gegenschein 74 and to Jean for MMSIftDUPM (aka WWW!) Its always good to hear what you've been up to.

I've been keeping pretty busy as usual. Had a very enjoyable 5 days at the Numeralla Folk Festival over the Australia Day weekend. The weather was near perfect - hot and sunny, just a bit windy. I got lots of swimming and sunbaking in, plus some time to relax, and some music and dance. In all a great time.

Following that I had a busy couple of weeks helping organise the AUUG Canberra Summer Conference. I did all the rego lists and nametags, as well as giving 3 half day workshops. I was stuffed by the end, but very pleased at how it all came together.

Since then I've been busy prep'ing for start of semester; as well as reviewing an authentication protocol for a short contract, and reviewing a pile of conference papers. Life's busy.

On the SF front I've finally decided to go to "Parliament of Dreams" in Brisbane in May, so I've ordered my airline tickets and sent of the cheque to upgrade to attending.


Rod and Barb Kearins announce a party.

Roy Lavender sent a very funny birthday card.

Teddy Harvia says "The pseudo-military catalogs are indeed scary. The U.S. is full of potential urban terrorists. The juvenile rebel in them wants to inflict damage but not receive it. I talked Matilda, age 10, out of wanting to participate in paintball wars by mentioning the pain of getting hit herself. The photographs add a wonderful personal dimension that words and files alone cannot to your fanzine. Even the ones of fans caught by the camera flash like deer in car headlights."

Joyce Scrivner sent her annual letter substitute, and mentioned people she met at Corflu (George Flynn of Boston, Doug Faunt of San Francisco, Bernie Phillips, David Goldberg, Debbie Notkin, Mark and Vanessa Loney, Dick and Leah Smith), and running the Australia in 99 party at Orycon.

Sue Thomason postcarded that she sold another story, and maybe one to an American anthology. It snowed at Xmas (what a horrible thought). And a runaway lorry destroyed her car.

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