Gegenschein 80 - October 1997

Trip to Basicon

Sunday 20th September 1997

Jean and I were up before six to pick up DUFF winners Janice Murray and Alan Rosenthal from Sydney Kingsford Smith airport around seven. Relaxed day, to help them cope with the time zone shift, and over 14 hours in the air. Perhaps we overate.

Monday 21st September 1997

I had to go to work and attempt to get my email addresses sufficiently up to date to allow me to email fans about getting my fanzine on the web. Trouble is, not only hadn't I put the summary web page up, but I also got perhaps 70 bounced messages, out of perhaps 200. Two weeks later a second shot at this added another 100 addresses, and who knows how many will bounce. These web fanzines and email notifications are trickier than I thought.

Janice and Alan went with Jean to arrange travel stuff and locate a geological museum. The museum was gone, but they were able to wander around The Rocks. I met them all at Hertz. Jean took the hire car home while Janice and Alan and I took in the Australian Museum. They were displaying the giant animated garden insects, and a most wonderful private mineral collection. When that closed we headed for the Queen Victoria Building. We tried walking as far as we manage underground before having saving amounts of caffeine. Back to Ryde on the bus, and chips and hamburger from Con's corner pizza bar for dinner.

Tuesday 22nd September 1997

Breakfast at Top Ryde on overlarge eggs and bacon, so we started driving to Canberra later than we expected. Stopped at Berima for lunch having generally tried to stick to the less major roads and the old highway. We spent a fair time in Berkelows book barn, in splendid isolation on the country road on the way to Berima. Eventually we had to rejoin the highway, but I did stop at the giant (and tacky) ram at Goulburn.

We had some problems getting accommodation in Canberra, but the information centre came through. I guess Floriade attracted more people than I expected.

Ken Ward organised a dinner at The New Chopsticks 15 Moore St, Civic at 7 pm and we had ten fans present. It was a pretty entertaining dinner, and it was great that Ken organised it.

Wednesday 24th September

We met Kim Huett at Civic for breakfast at the Pancake Parlor. Tourist travel was ably guided by Kim, and included the Black Mountain Tower, for a wonderful (albeit windy) view of the countryside and a walk through the nearby Botanic Gardens. I don't know if he was faking it, but he did a good job of describing every bush, bird, and blade of grass.

The War Museum was as impressive and depressing as always. Impossible to cover in any reasonable amount of time. I find it simultaneously fascinating and horrifying. Immense sacrifice, pain and suffering, arguably thereby at least once preventing invasion of this country. Yet at the same time, all the fighting was in other lands, and especially in the earlier conflicts, was unabashedly imperialist and colonialist adventuring, with little if any social merit, and often led by incompetents for illogical reasons, and little if any gain. On the basis of this museum, I would not trust the word of any British or Australian politician regarding any conflict that did not involve a direct invasion of this country.

We lunched late at a food court in Civic. Kim showed me a video store containing episodes of The Prisoner, which I'd mentioned not locating.

The old and new Parliament Houses took much of what remained of the afternoon. We were very amused by the exhibition of political cartoons on display at the Old Parliament, but closing time came too soon. House of Representatives was in session at the new Parliament House, debating electronic entry of taxes. Janice enjoyed it, as did I. Kim yawned a lot, which amused me.

Woden, and a long involved path through the shopping complex to Gayle and Rob Lovett's Gaslight Books. We would never have found them on our own without Kim. Gayle stayed open late chatting with us, and about her recent convention trips as a bookseller. She said she could get me The Prisoner videos. I bought a copy of their fiction magazine, Sirius, now moved to floppy disk as printing costs were killing them.

Dined in excellent fashion at the Charcoal grill in Civic, before driving Kim the long drive home. He must be in fine shape from bicycling these distances normally, and looked both happy and healthy. I hadn't realised it had been a year since he had left the public service. Time flies.

Thursday 25th September 1997

Off from Canberra with only a stop for gas. Guided by Alan, map reader extraordinary, we soon found the rural road towards Cooma, through pretty countryside rising towards the mountains. The Snowy Mountain Scheme information office told us how to reach the Tumut 2 underground power station, and there were tours at one and two. We lunched in Comma, although I thought the food fairly ordinary and the service slow. Alan drove, once he had disposed of his tandori burger.

It was a long and winding road along the Snowy Mountains Highway to the Tumut T2 power station, one of two far underground. I'm not sure Alan and Janice believed it was a highway. Impressive tunneling, and a strange feeling to be so far underground in such a large man made space. I thought it was a neat place. So have some authors - Wynne Whiteford set a novel there.

We continued along the Murray Valley Highway, watching all the dead, drowned trees, then across the Bridge Over to the Hotel Y, to Albury for the night. Pub meal, with real genuine Australian overcooked lamb chops. Wandered the streets watching hoons cruise by in noisy cars - some things never change. Overindulged on dessert at a local ice cream parlour. Prosperous looking town. The one thing that was really wrong was the rock band at high decibels from midnight to three. Janice and I heard it, and Alan slept through it (how could he?)

Friday 26th September 1997

We drove the boring stretch straight down the Hume from Albury, with both Janice and Alan getting considerable practice driving on the left. I'm not sure what they thought of this custom, but they both seemed adept enough at it.

I took over for the last bit of driving into Melbourne. Getting through the traffic and even into the parking garage was a real pain. I've never before seen such traffic congestion. It was taking three and four changes of lights to move a block. I could also only just squeeze the 4 litre engined Ford Falcon hire car around the tight turns of the parking garage. There was ample evidence that many others had failed to take the turns. There was also only a few spaces left, on the open 9th floor roof. I gathered that Jean later volunteered to remove the car, and found the way out even trickier than the ramp in.

I was staying at the Melbourne Ibis, 15 Therry Street, while Janice and Alan were at the con location, the Hotel Y, 489 Elizabeth Street, right on the Hume Highway to Sydney. Couldn't have been easier to find.

Visited Justin Ackroyd's Slow Glass Book, where I caught up with Jean Weber (who flew down that morning) and ANZAPA member and author Lyn McConchie from New Zealand. I resisted buying books.

Charles Dickens' pub at 4:30, with Jean, Janice and Alan the only ones present. Perry Middlemiss arrives late, looking harried, wearing a suit. We decided he looked the very model of a modern Worldcon chairman. Suit, beard, balding, worried. He looked just like Aussiecon Chairman Robin Johnson back in 1975, or John Foyster and David Grigg in 1985. We decided Marc Ortlieb would have the right look around 2009 (neither Marc nor Cath liked that idea). Other visitors included Marc Ortlieb, Bruce Gillespie, Justin Ackroyd, Alan Stewart and Sally Yeoland. We stole chairs and talked at a less noisy and smoke filled end of the bar, until we were told the chairs should go in the crowded centre of the floor. Alan, Marc and Justin had to head off home.

At Ciao's for dinner, Julian Warner, Lucy Sussex and Elaine Cochrane were already there. Perry Middlemiss and I were in isolated splendour at our own table while the other eight partied. This spared them our Aussiecon politics. Denis Calagari and another arrived much later, and I gave them fanzines. Indeed, I gave away all the fanzines I could.

There didn't seem to be anything on at Basicon on the Friday evening. Sigh. In contrast, I'm told some early birds start partying at Ditto/Octocon on Thursday night, and that the con suite will be open then. Sometime I think there is a serious frivolity problem in Australian fandom.

Basicon - 36th Australian National Science Fiction Convention

It was also the 15th Australian National Media Science Fiction Convention.

Sat with Jean, Lyn McConchie and Robin Johnson as they breakfasted at the Cafe Y. Lyn was nonplused to find she was on a panel at 11, as she hadn't been advised of this. Just shows you need to read the program early.

Robin reported on his latest trip, and what he had lost in the way of luggage. Takes note: Send Robin Johnson my HP OmniGo 100 to replace his lost one.

Registration started around 10 on the Saturday, with lots of old time Melbourne fans hanging around. Didn't seem much in the way of interstate visitors at this NatCon. Jean and I, Lewis Morley and Marilyn Pride from NSW, Robin Johnson from Tasmania, heading home from an overseas trip, and a few fans from Perth, I believe. Didn't see anyone from South Australia. Not at all like the old days when whole groups of us drove interstate for a NatCon. I gather attendance ran a little over 150, which suited the venue fine.

Ian Gunn and Karen Pender-Gunn welcomed convention Guests of Honour (which was the entire membership). Ian looked pretty good, which was a relief, as I hadn't seen him since he started chemotherapy.

The Cato conference center up the stairs on the first floor was a fine spot. A small film room, and a small meeting room for perhaps 40 people. A larger room, with space for a little over 100, so two program streams could run. Another room for the dealers, but only Merv Binns was there with books, accompanied by Helena Roberts. The entry to the conference area was also a large room, and good for seeing and chatting to people. The Y staff were also apparently very helpful.

Several beers were consumed that night, after a pub crawl with Julian Warner, Lucy Sussex, Alan Rosenthal, Janice Murray, Perry Middlemiss. The range of beers was inadequate; the quantity perhaps a little excessive.

There was a Star Trek TNG 10th anniversary (has it been that long?) party later on the Saturday night, with a neat compilation of scenes cut from the show as a set of three or four ten minute videos. Unfortunately, the overly loud music played during the rest of the time made it almost impossible to hear anyone speaking. I thought they put on a good spread, but disliked the volume of the music. Partied that night with Justin Semmel, Bev Hope, and other local fans, despite the intense noise of what I assume was music, with us all hiding as far away down a hallway as we could manage. This ... sound ... was thankfully interrupted often by the extracts cut from multiple Star Trek TNG videos, which didn't make much sense, but did provide a partial reason for the party. I thought they were well done. Of course, it almost certainly ignored copyright, so a more visible convention like a Worldcon can't use that sort of stuff without permission.

Good features of the site included being next to the Victoria markets, full of strange items (there was a competition for who could find the strangest item - Lyn McConchie won with a book on weaving dog hair). There was also a lot of fine food at the Markets, and fans were encouraged to take a market crawl each morning prior to the con opening at 10.

Bad points included holding the event the same weekend as a football final (I freely admit I would not have know that sort of thing either). Also, it seemed a school and university holiday, with some university sports event taking place all week, so there wasn't any accommodation to be had in Melbourne, and the Friday traffic was a nightmare.

Given Ian Gunn's illness, no-one would have blamed them for handing the event over to someone else (had anyone volunteered). As it happened, Ian was looking very good (for a bald man) and apparently feeling pretty good despite the chemotherapy. Karen also seemed to have coped well, given the double load of work she was handling while tending to Ian.

The con ran very much like a relaxacon, with little apparent drama. There was a dead video player for the media room (takes note that you should have two on hand, by encouraging fans to bring one for their hotel room). The lunch break was scheduled for 1 to 2, and a special lunchtime price negotiated with the Cafe Y ... which unfortunately closed for the day at 1 p.m. This closing of the sidewalks seems an weekend occupational hazard in Melbourne, but luckily in this area there were plenty of other food places, including the markets (even a McDonalds next door).

The media program included material on video, home movie, the internet, TV, music video, and so on, which was a good way to show the range of different items. At least they had some unusual stuff. The video programs on Sunday were aimed at showing that the written word did get converted. I thought that was a bit of a reach, since most items were typical TV shows, but written by known writers such as D C Fontana, Tannith Lee, Terry Pratchett, William Gibson, Richard Matheson. They had a bunch of neat items listed, like Demon With a Glass Hand, but I'm not sure how many lit fans would have attended. I'd have thought When Worlds Collide by Philip Wylie would have qualified also.

The business meeting on Sunday drew less than 20 fans, not untypical for the 150 odd attendance at recent NatCons. The only scheduled amendment was to combine the Lit and Media conventions, and this was voted in. It was pointed out that the two had been held at the same con three times in the last four cons, and that there weren't sufficient fans to hold two separate cons. I'd have been more convinced had there not been three different groups wanting to bid. One not incredibly convincing bid for both cons, one for the media con withdrew rather than run both, and the 1998 Thylacon bid wanted to run only the lit Natcon, but was willing to run both if that was what was required. However I suppose if things really are a problem we can change it again.

At this point, I'd like to put in a plug for the 1998 NatCon, Thylacon 2, in Hobart in June, with Leanne Frahm as GoH. The same fabulous hotel as in 1995, where those of us who attended had an an absolutely fabulous time. Great seafood abounds, and the hotel has a wonderfully enjoyable bar area for conversation. Plan to attend!

Having combined the cons, discussion turned to increasing the number of awards, and I was constrained to point out that that actually taking a vote on that would be unconstitutional (there being no written motion prior to the con). As I expected, Robin Johnson proposed accepting whatever awards received the most nominations as the way to determine which items fans wanted to reward. I just hope this doesn't lead to Terry Frost organising the nominating of Best Fannish Door or something.

Bruce Gillespie told me he needed a new copy of The Secret Guide to Computers. Seems he updated computers, and the old book is obsolete.

The convention closed at five on Sunday, and managed (after a few tech problems - accompanied by a loud bang) to show the both the opening video (not shown at the opening due to the dead video player) and the closing video. We had a choice of closing video, with a whimper or with a BANG. I don't for a moment believe there was any tape except the BANG tape ... and that was great fun, with every starship in the galaxy being exploded on screen for our entertainment.

Given most hitches at this con were tech problems with relatively low tech video tapes and PA systems, I'm increasingly disinclined to rely upon any sort of high tech features at a convention. SF fans may be fantasising living in a high tech future, but I really don't believe most of us cope with it all that well in real life.

Airlie Beach

In August, Jean and I bought a Whitsunday Terraces apartment unit at Airlie Beach in North Queensland, after a visit in late June. Jean has wanted to move back to Queensland (or out of Sydney - I'm not sure which motive is stronger) for years. We have no idea when we can get sufficiently organised to move there. We would like to do so in early 1998, but I wouldn't be surprised if it takes somewhat longer. For one thing, work is even scarcer outside the capital cities. More on this next issue, however photos designed to make you all envious are already on my web site.

Since I've been resisting moving for years (I hate moving), this purchase probably wouldn't have happened had I not been pissed off about conditions at work since Martin left, and the idiocy of a half decade of restructuring that hasn't done anything. If anyone has suggestions about interesting work that can be done via the internet, I'd be interested in hearing them.


My quest to rid my home of surplus books, magazines, apa material, electronic gadgets and all the rest continues, as Jean and I try to reduce our belongings into a quarter the space. After considerable efforts, and handing out lists of the SF novels to anyone willing to accept them, I managed to move two whole boxes of novels by the start of October. I calculate that this represents about a half of one percent of the books! This little task may take longer than I planned.

If anyone would like booklists, or general lists of things to go, please let me know (lots of stuff not on lists yet). Or if a fan fund or fan charity would like donations, let me know. Why can't houses be built like that wonderful gadget in Glory Road? (a media fan would have written Tardis here, but we know who got the idea first). I have 2500 SF novels and collections, Analog, Asimovs, FandSF, Amazing, Aboriginal SF, apas, collected letters, material about SF, 2500 non-fiction books include philosophy, psychology, sociology, lots of science, space, technology, biographies, archeology, ancient Greek and Roman history, lots of Boswell, Johnson and such. Plus lots of computer and electronics books, and gadgets, and household effects, and bookcases, furniture and household effects.

Did a Russian invent radio?

Lots of people contributed, and most of their names are applied to electrical units. Michael Faraday, Heinrich Hertz, Joseph Henry, Samual Morse, Sir Charles Wheatstone, James Clerk Maxwell, Sir Oliver Lodge, Guiglielmo Marconi. I bet you don't know of Professor Aleksandr Stephanovitch Popov.

Born in 1859, Popov built on the work of others, as did all the pioneers of radio. The greatest of all was probably the mathematician and Professor of physics at Oxford, James Clerk Maxwell. His Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism built on Faraday's observations to predict the existence of electromagnetic waves, and correctly predict many of their properties.

In 1888 Heinrich Hertz verified Maxwell's theory and demonstrated electromagnetic waves using a spark coil and a spark gap. The receiver was a circle of metal with a small gap, in which a spark was induced. Hertz subsequently invented the coherer, using the clumping of fine metal particles (95% nickel and 5% silver was favoured) in the presence of high frequency energy.

Sir Oliver Lodge demonstrated radio transmission over 50 metres in 1894, before the British Association, using a coherer of his own design.

Popov heard of Lodge's demonstration, and in 1895 had an improved coherer with an automatic tapping device to decoher the metal. He added a relay to operate an ink recording pen, and used an aerial, to make a receiver for studying storms. He described these in a paper in January 1896, and demonstrated one of his receivers on 24 March 1896. A note on a paper in 1895 clearly indicated he was seeking a suitable method of making a transmitter. Popov wrote a letter indicating his belief that Marconi's demonstration of wireless in 1896 must have used a coherer and elevated aerial very similar to his own. Interestingly he didn't claim a patent, nor dispute Marconi's elevated aerial patent of 1896 (despite having obtained a patent for his coherer).

The claim he was first came from a Wireless World article in 1925 by a Soviet official V S Gabel. Popov himself acknowledged Marconi as the father of wireless when he journeyed to meet Marconi in 1902.

Interestingly the USA has an exceedingly good claim, as Professor David Hughes invented his own version of a transmitter, receiver and a coherer as early as 1879. He was later able to receive signals over a range exceeding 400 metres. Hughes demonstrated this to three members of the Royal Society in February 1880 (the President Mr Spottiswoode, Professor Huxley, and Sir George Stokes). Stokes declared it was all "ordinary induction effects". Hughes subsequently refused to write a paper on his research for the Royal society, and did not publish his results. At the time, Marconi was aged 15.

Historic Costs

I found our old photocopy records from 1987, when we owned a share in a second hand copier. Allowing for depreciation, it ran 8.06 cents per copy for the first 18,000 copies, with a projected cost of 6.87 cents by the time it hit 30,000 copies. Those days, mimeo was cheaper.

News Items

Graham Hill signed the highest, quickest will in September 1996, leaping from a plane at 14,000 feet with Brisbane barrister Andrew Preston (robes and all) and a witness. All three had to sign, using the same pen, before opening their parachutes and landing safely. Claimants to any possible estate are expected to dispute that he was "of sound mind" at the time of signing. Plans for a flying band playing "Nearer My God To Thee" upon landing fell through.

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New Book Reviews

Back in 1960, Norm Metcalf suggested issuing an Ace Double, Master of Cr eation and Master of Resurrection. Sid Coleman suggested War God of Israel plus The Thing With Three Souls, or maybe The Thing From The Dead Sea. Well, the bible isn't copyright, so I suppose it could work, especially for fantasy readers.

Washington's Dirigible by John Barnes

Harper Prism, May 1997, 327pp, US$5.99

Second in the fast paced Timeline Wars series, with Mark Strang in an alternate 1776, and his own worst enemy. Good, fun adventures, but not I fear all that different to many similar novels. I doubt I'll buy the third novel in the series.

Winter by Simon Brown

Harper Collins, 1997, 292pp, A$12.95

A nicely dark and cynical view as a former security operative is called back to action to hunt a former friend and colleague in a future Sydney after a long nuclear winter. Plenty of betrayal and politics, and questioning of what makes actions right or wrong.

While not as much fun as Privateer, it is in most ways a better novel, and shows that he can write a novel to the same standard as his short stories. Another Australian author worth checking out.

Star Wars - The Paradise Snare by A C Crispin

Bantam (Transworld), August 1997, 306pp, US$5.99 A$12.95

Follows the young Han Solo through childhood, crime, toward his goal to become a pilot cadet. Familiar character, adventure. No other great merit.

Ferman's Devils by Joe Clifford Faust

Bantam, December 1996, 289pp, US$4.99

Boddecker has enough trouble with backstabbing in his copywriting job, without somehow involving a deadly teenage gang as stars in his latest advertising campaign. However, he needs a killer campaign, to afford the house of his dreams, and to woo the heavenly Honniker in Accounting.

The advertising treatments featured throughout the novel are classics of cynicism. One wonders what caused copywriter Faust to leave that career.

Dark Moon by David Gemmell

Corgi (Transworld), July 1997, 413pp, A$14.95

Fantasy warriors novel.

Winter Warriors by David Gemmell

Bantam (Transworld), July 1997, 316pp, A$22.95 TPB

Fantasy warriors Drenai novel.

Star Wars - Planet of Twilight, by Barbara Hambley

Bantam (Transworld), May 1997 (July 1997)), 312pp, A$35.00

A generally well written SW novel, showing again the wisdom of having these "shared world" novels written by established professional sf authors. Enough plot twists for me to become slightly confused at times. I even wonder if perhaps some editor has excised some crucial portions of the book to cut it down to the designed size. Although it makes a fine adventure, it suffers the continuing problem of SW novels using the Lucas characters. There is little chance of real character development, and none of permanent harm, so much of the potential dramatic tension is lost. Nor can any fundamental changes be made in the social or technological structure of the SW society. As SF goes, all these SW novels lack the Sense of Wonder essential to carrying forward the genre in any but a commercial sense.

Minor quibbles. Page 137 "a voice from the tannoy repeated over and over". Tannoy is a UK manufacturer of public address systems, so you can expect their lawyers to complain, but mostly this use of a known brandname simply breaks the mood of the story. Page 157 "He lowered his soft voice and his twenty five meter height to speak ..." C'mon, we are here talking a creature weighing at least 150,000 kg just on cube law considerations, and this is set in human scale buildings and equipment. I think not.

Heartease by Lee Harding

Bluegum (Angus and Robertson), 1997, 242pp,

Very solid novel of adolescent growth for older children, with well drawn children characters in what seems to me realistic situations. It sometimes seems to me that many novels for children are a lot better done than most genre fiction. This could be an excellent gift for most older children.

The Dark Edge by Richard Harland

Pan Macmillan Australia, 30 July 1997, 563pp, $14.95

Murder most foul on a distant planet and a plea for help brings Central Inspector Eddon Brac and new Parapsych Vail ev Vessintor to investigate. The murder was real, and are increasing, but the cry for help was a different plot. First in a series, and combines elements of horror and investigation, with very little sf.

Time Marches Off, by J W Heming

Graham Stone Books, GPO Box 4440, Sydney 2001, 1997, 80pp, A$20

An amusing light social satire of a pair of unwilling time travellers in Australia, following their adventures as they travel to the year 4000. Reprint of the 1942 edition published under the name Paul de Wreder. Totally politically incorrect, of course, but probably just the thing for readers deprived of most new fiction by the war.

Hardcover, nicely hand bound in the traditional fashion by Graham. An excellent collector's item.

Whisper Who Dares by Anne Hilton-Bruce

Pan, July 1997, 386pp, A$14.95

Australian author doing realistic horror thriller. Well written.

When the Gods are Silent by Jane Lindskold

AvoNova (Transworld), June 1997 (Sept 1997), 265pp, US$5.99 A$12.95

Fantasy epic quest.

Black Horses for the King by Anne McCaffrey

Corgi (Transworld), Sept 1997, 219pp, A$9.95

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

Deception Well by Linda Negata

Bantam, February 1997, 358pp, US$5.99

A far future adventure, with a backdrop of an ancient and still flowing war waged with stealth viruses, nanotechnology (called Makers), and space itself seeded with infection. Silk, the city, sits on a space elevator, hundreds of miles above a planet that converts everyone who voyages there into something else. The original builders were apparently converted, but only some decades after building the city. The current inhabitants were stranded there hundreds of years ago as the ship on which they were travelling sought to escape the infected Hallowed Vasties. Or was it already infected. Is the planet part of the Chenzeme weapon, or is it an equally ancient counter weapon?

The young mutant son of a charismatic leader (or is he a biological weapon) grows up in Silk after being caught during a partially failed invasion. But will he bring salvation, or is he part of the enemy, and if so, which enemy. A wonderfully deceptive tale.

Johnny and the Bomb, by Terry Pratchett

Corgi (Transworld), July 1997, 238pp, A$10.95

It is 1941, and daffy Mrs Tachyon is dragging her shopping trolley full of black plastic bags over the debris from an unexploded bomb. It is the present, and Johnny Maxwell and his young friends find the familiar Mrs Tachyon, but this time she is semi-conscious in an alley, so they help her.

Of course, when you help someone, you end up with responsibilities. Something like winning the lottery, except that somehow you lose. Also, why is the richest man in the world heading for his hamburger bar in Johnny's town?

A great childrens' story, with many a twist in time.

Nostradamus Ate My Hamster, by Robert Rankin

Corgi (Transworld), September 1997, 317pp, A$14.95

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

Deathkiller by Spider Robinson

Baen, May 1996, 468pp, US$5.99 A$11.95

Reprint and partial updating of Mindkiller and Time Pressure, as one volume. Good fast paced 1980's sf adventures, which like the following novel, all relate to the one mind control conspiracy, not to control the world, but to prevent anyone from realising that has already happened. Burglar Joe saves Karen from death by ecstasy as a wirehead, and as they track the controllers of the wirehead equipment, realise they are up against an unbeatable conspiracy that can steal even their memory of what they were attempting.

Lifehouse by Spider Robinson

Baen, April 1997, 273pp, US$5.99 A$11.95

It sometimes seems everyone is rewriting old stories, just as films cannibalize their history. We have Alan Dean Foster rewriting Eric Frank Russell, and Robert Silverberg rewriting Isaac Asimov. This novel is partly a rewrite of Cyril M Kornbluth's early con man short story Time Bum, but is a whole lot more fun. Another approach to the wirehead conspiracy. The interesting point in pretty much all Robinson's stories is there are no true villains in the main characters, only different motives.

Mage Heart by Jane Routley

AvoNova (Transworld), May 1997 (September 1997), 470pp, US$5.99 (A$13.95)

Romantic fantasy.

Software by Rudy Rucker

AvoNova (Transworld), 1982 May 1997 (August 1997), 167pp, US$5.99 A$12.95

Totally irreverent short cyberpunk novel, taking ancient Cobb Anderson (who freed the bopper robots on the moon) from declining sherry soaked old age to (machine mediated) immortality. If the Mr Frostee van doesn't overheat.

Wetware by Rudy Rucker

AvoNova (Transworld), 1988 May 1997 (August 1997), 183pp, US$5.99 A$12.95

"One must imagine Sisyphus happy", says the dedication to Philip K Dick.

Funnelweb by Richard Ryan

Macmillan, July 1997, 339pp, A$19.95

Horror story, as giant mutant poison spitting funnelweb spiders take over Australia. The Yanks get blamed. '50's horror, and no better than the movies from that era.

Tranquillity Alternative by Allan Steele

Ace, April 1997, 309pp, US$5.99 A$11.95

Atomic missiles on the moon, in an abandoned base, about to be turned over to civilian control. One last mission, to destroy the weapons, but other groups would pay to capture some of them. Interesting near future alternate world adventure novel.

Mission to Mir

Jean and I visited the IMAX at Darling Harbour, and took in this magnificent 40 minute tribute to the Russian space station. Aside from a little historical perspectives, much of it was filmed in space by astronauts, much of it at the time of the Atlantis visit to Mir. Scenes of the docking and return are absolutely wonderful for space enthusiasts. A lot of the story follows US astronaut Dr Shannon Lucid during her time on Mir. Filmmakers were Graeme Ferguson and Toni Myers, who also worked on The Dream Is Alive, Blue Planet, Destiny in Space and the fictional 3D IMAX movie L5: First City in Space. Highly recommended to space enthusiasts, or anyone with a sense of wonder (and shouldn't that be all of us?)

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Sheryl Birkhead

23629 Woodfield Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20882
12 May 1995

I invested in a modem - solely for the ability to tap into the Federal OPM job listings. Whoever kept telling me how easy it all was LIED. But every time I use it, I get better at it.

Richard J. Faulder

PO Box 136 Yanco NSW 2703 mail faulder at agric nsw gov au
3rd November 1996

Dear Eric,

While I don't doubt that the electronic version of Geg is all you say it is I'm not convinced that it would look as good as the paper version. While electronic publishing is alright for text-only, single-column zines like Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet or Mimezine Flashback, Geg is more professional than that.

{{Actually, it would be trivial for me to also put Gegenschein on the web in a form that is identical to the printed version, in all aspects except the drawings (and with some effort, I could add them). However it would require that readers have available a Postscript viewer, and I'm guessing that most readers would not be interested in adding this to their computer. The standard, absolutely free, viewer would be Ghostscript, which typically occupies the equivalent of four floppy disks. Versions of Ghostscript are available for most modern computers. I could make available via my web site the MS-DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows 95 and NT, Unix and Macintosh versions. There is also the minor complication that I use International A4 paper sizes, so US and Canadian fans may have printing problems. el}}

Strangely enough, I don't really remember being jet-lagged after the trip from Sydney to the West coast, perhaps because I arrived at about the same time of day as I left. (Coming back was another matter. I left Roma late afternoon, arrived in London late at night and arrived back in Sydney about 0500hrs, then made the mistake of going almost straight to bed.) While I would have liked to meet Cliff Wind, I wasn't sure enough about arrangements with Frank and Anna Jo Denton to try to make arrangements with Cliff also.

Your reference to "a very fine set of... hamburgers" implies that not all American hamburgers are as dry and tasteless as those from McDonalds. {{Absolutely true - they share only the name. el}}

Given some of the statistics being bandied about regarding the declining literacy of the present crop of students, Universal Literacy would appear to already be on the wane, even for those whose families can't afford a computer.

That aside, the availability of education bears on the rapidly dominating ideology which sees every employee changing jobs at least five times in their working life, or being dismissed as underachievers. (This makes the decision of the Australian Tax Office to only allow deductions for self-education for an employee's present job a bit strange.) What sort of education will be needed to cater for such a system? Probably not the old "liberal education". There won't be time to learn how to be a responsible citizen, which will encourage the development of a society increasingly based on the short-term self-interest that economic rationalism assumes.

{{Sometimes I think you might be even more cynical than I am. el}}

Your description of a minimalist diploma-granting institution actually harks back to the colleges of advanced education that were set up about 15-20 years ago to form an intermediate level between the local technical colleges and the universities. Your own university was one such, if my memory serves me correctly. For whatever reasons, those colleges were not content to remain non-degree-granting non-universities, and by now I can't think of any that have not become universities. Is there something about Australia that can't sustain such intermediate educational institutions?

{{Governments changing their minds is a sufficient explanation. First Labor decided to have more Universities ... the cheap way ... so everyone became a (combined) University. Then the Liberals decided to stop funding the "new" Universities at the previous rate, but didn't want to outright say they only wanted a dozen Universities to remain. el}}

Buck Coulson, only the deliberately paranoid could ever contemplate "an abo uprising". (The correct abusive term is "boong". Native Australians, at least in the eastern states, refer to themselves as "kooris".) The unreliability of the Australian environment (which the invaders are only now coming to really appreciate) meant that they were never a terribly numerous people, and were quite easily eliminated from large areas of the continent.

Maia E. Cowan's remark about the Kim Stanley Robinson Mars novels that "There's a terrific novella buffed in that novel" strikes me as very apt.

Your remark to Irwin Hirsh that '... a problem inherent in any volunteer organisation [is that] No-one wants to work when the con is over." doesn't just apply to sffans. Small, specialised groups like Near-Infra Red Spectrometrists (we have a couple at work) and the international arachnological community have the same problems after their congresses.

I was intrigued by Edwina Harvey's remark that "... the Worldcon in '85 ... had very positive and long lasting effects in Australian fandom". My memory is that Ozfandom initially splintered, at least partly as a reaction to the Melbourne SMOFS and the way they ran the con. (When I saw that Ain99 was to be held in Melbourne again I was put off). Edwina, and neofen of her generation (this is not a criticism - everyone starts out as a neo), being new to sffandom, and not a member of faandom, would not have noticed this. Obviously fandom has healed itself since - one only has to look at an issue of Australian Science Fiction Bullsheet. Post-Aussiecon'85 fans shouldn't take umbrage at what they consider BOFS. Believe me, Edwina, turn up, offer to help and you won't be knocked back.

{{I don't think it reasonable to characterise Edwina as a neofan ... fandom has broken into so many viable segments that a person can stay in one (traditional fanzines, con running, filk, ST, SW, Dr Who, or whatever) all their fannish time, be a BNF in that area, and yet a neo in a different area. It is a lot different to the time when the only SF folks were the crazy 100,000 who read Astounding. el}}

Faanishly yours, Richard

Bob Smith

37 St Johns Road Bradbury NSW 2560
26 November 1996

Thank you for sending Gegenschein 75, and Heck! its been a loong time, hasn't it, since you honoured me thus? I have been catching up on some of your writing, via the ANZAPA mailings which Kim Huett sent me (the evil swine!). I sent him some old Aussie fanzines and foolishly mentioned some curiosity about that ancient apa; next thing I knew Mailings 171 back to the 25th Annish were dumped on my doorstep. Lyn and I plowed through some, "Oooohing and Ahhhing" when we struck an ancient name or photo or some lines of deathless prose, then, overcome with nostalgia and indigestion, we had to lie down in a darkened room, clutching copies of TV Times to retain our sense of...umm, realism. (Actually, I wanted to cuddle my copy of the November 1954 Peon, but Lyn felt that was going too far.

In your electronic mailing what is the significance of "Zen"? {{It is the name of the computer that receives my email. Named after a computer in the TV show "Blake's Seven" - all our computers at work are named after computers or robots from SF films and TV. el}} All the rest I think I decyphered. I have to admit that all this discussion of electronic mailing makes me wonder if I am living on a desert island or just more ancient than I actually am. My correspondence and/or writing is done on an old Tandy, upgraded years ago, and I please myself whether I use WordPerfect 5.1 or Multimate 4.0. Lyn has a fast little notebook for her various work and projects, and both computers are hooked to a large Tandy DMP printer. And that's it!

I will not go into the PC Syndrome that stalked me for quite a few years, as my early training was with mainframes (which absolutely fascinated me) and as I got older I got more stubborn, I eventually Saw The Light... in some ways.

[Divertinq slightly: did you happen to see Arthur. C. Clarke waffling about Mandelbrot sets on SBB a few weeks ago? {{Alas, no. el}}

Apart from the opening paragraphs regarding your computer problems I found your trip most readable. Since I am not am the web I guess I'll never see those photos of fans you took. Curses!! (It would be nice to see what Buz and Eleanor Busby look like these days... ) The trip musings made me feel quite hungry, and I wish I'd been at the 23rd floor con suite with all those. . . umm, old BNFs. {{I'm willing to send fans photos of fans from my collection - it will help reduce the size of stuff here. el}}

Found most at your book reviews interesting, and a few I might try and track down via my friendly book shop and his luverly discounts. (They got the Clute Encyclopedia considerably cheaper for me)

I found the letters interesting, and your comments likewise, but nothing I really honestly want to comment on. I don't think we have anywhere near the number of books that you have, although looking around the walls makes me wonder. (Lyn says we haven't; she's got every book listed on Agenda)

I am a trifle curious about your use of the word "obsolete" in connection with your non-fiction books. I have tried the experiment of pulling books, at random, off the shelves to see if they fit that category, and I'm afraid that personal affection for most volumes just blinds me to any dark thoughts. Lyn has a few technical works that are old editions, but even she would not label them obsolete. And as for throwing something out! We'd probably have to resort to that darkened room again! {{Alas, many of my technical books are really obsolete, or insufficiently detailed for my current needs. el}}

If computing is good for butterfly minds perhaps that let's me off the hook, because I have absolutely no intention of allowing my computer to take over any further than it has! (All over the Web or Net or whatever you call it there are now howls of laughter; right?) {{Right, today the office, tomorrow the world. el}}

Garth Spencer

Box 15335 VMPO Vancouver BC V6B5B1
6 April 1997

I was some hacked at myself for missing Potlatch; the irony is that my long spell of unemployment had just ended, but I still couldn't afford a convention.

In fact I was still waiting for money enough to finish printing and mailing SPLF7, (August 1996), as late as this March. With the result that I may not yet have sent Lloyd Penney his copy.

Preserving information online - in fact, our whole `culture base' - depends on maintaining standard electrical current. Given current resource consumption trends, and the apparent disinterest of our global economy in expanding our resource base with orbital industry, I think we are better served not to rely on electronic records. {{I figure my computers can run off solar power - I have to convert them all to 12 volt operation for when we start travelling in any case. Anyone who believes pulp based paper has a long life hasn't tried to store it. el}}

I am appalled by the news of your domestic damage. It makes Faulconbridge sound like Calgary, which can get hailstorms in July.

Dave Rowe

The Prisoner episodes; ALL are still available on video tape including the lost episode, which is really the second episode "The Chimes of Big Ben". It was sent around as a promotional to broadcast before the series was released. It has slightly different closing titles, small differences in editing, and the original theme music which was replaced by Ron Grainer's.

{{I wish I could find them. The dealers here state categorically that except for one tape, they were never released commercially. On the Basicon trip, Kim Huett disproved this, by showing me a shop with additional episodes. Gayle Lovett of Gaslight Books says she can get me all of them, and I'll ask her to do so. el}}

Karen Herkes

PO Box 767 Goulburn NSW 2580

Dear Eric,

Thank you for Gegenschein 74 and 75 - would have replied sooner but I'm just catching up. I've taken a year's leave of absence from University so I can recover from last year's disasters. C'est Le Vie. I don't have access to Internet or an E-mail address (only a 386 - almost dead). I enjoy reading Gegenschein very much however, so thank you sending the printed versions.

Re: Issue 75. Maia E. Cowan mentions James H. Schmitz "Telzey Amberdon" stories. I read a novel about this character years ago - a pretty vague recollection, I think the plot involved her communicating with the local fauna of this particular world without realising at first this made her a high level telepath (and therefore of some value on the black market /to the Government /etc). The novel appealed a great deal when I was 15 years old, I have no idea whether it would still do so. Would you know the name of this novel land whether there are others on the same character, as I wouldn't mind re-reading? {{I sent Karen copies of most of the Schmitz Telzey stories. el}}

I've often wondered whether the literary/media distinction should be seen as a continuum rather than two distinct camps? I remember a lot of Canberra SF Society members watching videos and talking about SF programs, just as I remember members from the media groups discussing novels. Edwina Harvey makes a good point - most seasoned fans aren't expecting guests or items in their specialist atom, after all they went to the 1985 Worldcon for other reasons. Also I imagine a new solo-interest fan probably wouldn't be interested in attending a Worldcon, when a specialist convention would appear far more attractive.

My attendance at Worldcons is usually vicarious via program books/reviews. Like some others I voted and promoted Australia in '99 as I saw it as an opportunity to actually attend a worldcon. (FIAWOL is affected by economics - like the old saying: I work to support my hobbies. As an Intern Psych. I can't afford to travel ... yet). Given that a lot of new fen will want to attend the Worldcon in 1999, just as they attended the 1985 Con, how does the Committee handle the situation? Do we define "new fan" in this context as someone that does not regularly attend Worldcons? If not, I (and I'm sure others from the 7%) would be happy to act as volunteer companions/guides/whatever. (Please don't say anything about the blind leading the blind). {{I think that is a great offer - the more volunteers - for anything - the better. el}}

Thanks again for the issues - love reading your travel/con descriptions and the LOCS are always interesting.

Best wishes,

Yvonne Rousseau

PO Box 3086, Rundle Mall, Adelaide SA 5000
18 August 1997

Many sympathies, once more, upon your mother's death; but also sincere felicitations that her last years were so fortunate - living in her own home, with regular visits from her son, and among caring friends and neighbours.

As for the disposal of your mother's goods: I expect it's too late now to suggest that the Springwood Historical Society might have been interested in some of the memorability (if the Society has a museum, as many out-of-town historical societies do). {{Alas, they don't. el}}

Among your own fanzines and books for sale, if you have titles by Lord Dunsany. John says that you're unlikely to get want to get rid of them; but I nevertheless mention my interest in any such titles ... And if you still have copies of contemporary fantasy books, and if Jean doesn't want them either, I'm interested in anything by Caroline Stevermer. I'm also interested in some titles by Diana Wynne Jones. {{I'm not a fantasy reader, but Jean had a fair bit of fantasy available - anyone interested should ask for lists. My stuff is pretty much all science fiction. el}}

At our house, we still shrink from our responsibilities to those who will have to sort through our stuff when we are gone: if we die today, they will have an exceptionally daunting task ...

I enjoyed reading both of your accounts of trips overseas - all the more because in our overseas trip last year we actually visited some of the places you you mention, and at LACon III I met for the first time some of the fans you visited. Meanwhile I have gathered the impression that you are likely to be coming to Adelaide with Janice Murray after Basicon, and I look forward to this very much. {{Alas, I didn't get there. el}}

Chester D Cuthbert

1104 Mulvey Ave, Winnipeg MB R3M 1J5 Canada 23 August 1997

I agree with your thought that the cost of mailing issues of Gegenschein is becoming prohibitive, and your sending me numbers 75 to 79 inclusive is all the more appreciated. I am a slow reader and it took me the better part of a day to read everything. {{I can afford this hobby while working, although I'd rather cut costs - afterwards things will change. el}}

As previously advised, your book reviews are unlikely to result in my purchasing any of the books, but you supplied good clues as to what is being published. Your offer to sell or donate books to non-profit fan organisations is too generous. Surely there is some shop specializing in science fiction and fantasy which would pay you a reasonable price for your collection, thus reimbursing you for your costs of publishing and circulating the reviews in Gegenschein? Book review copies are usually the earliest printing of first editions and should be highly prized by collectors. {{A few shops have expressed some interest in the complete collection, but I don't know if this will translate into action. I donate the proceeds of review copies to fan charities, as I don't see it as reasonable to sell them in bookshops. el}}

On the other hand, the University of Winnipeg, so far as the latest news of the Stimpson collection mentioned in my letter in Gegenschein 76, page 14 is concerned, is that the governors of the University are still dithering about what to do with it because the cost of processing is too high, and the collection is in storage. So your generosity might be unappreciated. Bob Stimpson would be dismayed if he knew that his collection is considered little more than a problem.

It is eleven years since my mother and my oldest sister died and so many others of my friends and acquaintances have passed on that Muriel and I have come to accept almost unemotionally the fact of our mortality. Your outline of the problems in disposing of accumulations struck terror in my mind; my home is jammed full of books, magazines and records.

Your travels appear to have delighted you; I dislike travel and am so much a homebody that I never attend conventions. To each his own!

The industry, kindness and generosity of fanzine publishers is phenomenal.

Sheryl Birkhead

23629 Woodfield Road, Gaithersburg, MD 20882

Geg coming in a manila envelope took me by surprise. You surely had a busy time these past months, not always pleasant, but surely busy.

Your travel doings are always of interest. Sigh, hard to believe it's been 5 or 6 years since I've actually been places for "fun". Someday ... Oh yes, Australia and New Zealand are on that list, but it looks more and more to be a "pipe dream". But one can dream.

The storm damage sounds distressing but nowhere near as bad as it could have been.

In Geg 78 pg 9 there is a "nifty" straight line across the lower R corner um ... er {{I must be slow. el}}

Wow - I have to read it in Geg that Dave (Rowe) and Carolyn (Doyle) plan on going Down Under in 1999 ... guess it's never come up in our conversations.

For FAPA - can't you mail a master and have "someone" make copies at the other end? {{Lot of trouble for the person doing it, so I prefer not to ask ... as yet. el}}

What is/are Darwin fish? (or should I ask). {{A fish shaped badge - like the Christian fish symbol - made up of the word Darwin, but the fins have been replaced by feet, symbolising evolution. I like to express my opinion of the Truth ... and it isn't a religious view. el}}

Hmm - do "you" still put "butter" and syrup on gingerbread waffles or are they already very sweet. {{I put sweets on my sweets. If really curious, ask for my recipe for a Chocolate Easter Bilby. el}}

I agree on the "local" calls (Intrastate was the term I was told. I have a separate long distance carrier, but when I didn't realize the local call really isn't - I dial regularly and get charged a higher rate since my long distance carrier doesn't kick in. A new computer gadget - Phone Miser is due out RSN - will know what carrier is cheapest and use it ... {{Not if the vendors change rates on an arbitrary basis, like ours do. el}}

Sounds as if you thoroughly enjoyed Corflu - hope to see at least one photo of those cakes you mention. {{On the web site, or I can send you a photo or three. el}}

Do you plan to REALLY pare down your zines, etc. collections? Donating to TAFF/DUFF? Just wondering. {{Yes, pretty much everything is going. I'm happy to donate to fan funds. el}}

Good to hear from you. It's been a while.

George Laskowski

george_laskowski at cc cranbrook edu
Thu Apr 17 1997

Thanks for the information about the Australian wage laws. I was always fascinated by the number of fans who were able to afford to visit the States. If someone is frugal and prudent in money spending and savings, like you, I guess they can make as many trips as you do.

I was never that good in saving money, but my new wife Kathy is extremely ghood with money, and so traveling to Australia for the Worldcon is a possibility. We shall see.

I hope you enjoyed your latest sojourn to the States. I am looking forward to reading your trip reports. You can send them to me via e-mail to save postage cost if you want. OTOH, Kathy collects stamps, so wouldn't mind more from Australia. :)

Take care, Lan

{{There is a minimum wage law in Australia, set to (in theory) cover the cost of maintaining a family on a single wage. Youth wages tend to be lower, but there are still minimums. Now one could theorise that any single person earning adult wages could therefore afford an overseas trip every now and then, provided they don't have a family, and don't buy luxury goods (a car can be considered a luxury good - it is taxed as a luxury good). in haste, Eric}}

Shelby Vick

shelvy at beaches net Wed Jun 11 1997

Just a note, Eric --

A word of thanx for your zine. I've hardly had a chance to look at it, I will have to admit. Have two granddaughters spending a few weeks with us, and my time is thusly severely limited. Like its looks, however, and would like to see more, when and if.

Did read the start of Pigeon Towed, and would like to mention that, back in the fifties, a Brit fan whose name I can't remember (Bill something) accused me of having a sledge-hammer sense of humor. He covered it up nicely, by saying what he meant was that it hit him like a sledge after he thought on it a bit. I really think he meant it was something like John was talking about . . .

I'll write more when I have time to read and digest your offering.




Henry L. Welch

welch at warp msoe edu Date: Tue, 24 Jun 1997


I assume that your issues were a prelude to trading for The Knarley Knews. I sent a few issues over the past year of so to a number of Australian fans (Middlemiss, Stewart, and Gunn), but I'm curious where and how you decided to send to me. Since I do intend to come for Aussiecon I would like to develop a base of fans that I'll know when I get there. (As an aside I'm publishing a series of reports on an around Australia bike tour from a non-fan.) {{I guess TKK was reviewed favourably somewhere. el}}

I added your web site to the links in mine at: I also recall accessing for something or other in the past year, but who knows what that could have been for.

Thanks for issues 73 and 74 of Gegenschein which arrived via surface mail about two weeks ago. Based on your publishing comments I expected that I was way behind, but looking at your web site today I see that these issues appear to be the most up to date ones.

As a fellow fan and computing professional I find your interest in computers while on vacation be a bit obsessive. I don't miss my computer all that much on vacation (other than the e-mail), but I've never felt the need to have the best of the latest. (I still don't own a laptop or PDA and certainly have little interest in a pager, cell phone, or modern calculator). Perhaps I'm the anachronism. {{My palmtop is a working tool for doing work and fanac. Now computers are commercial I'm rapidly losing interest in them. el}}

On a more agreeable note, I too feel that the worldcons have gotten a bit out of control. The initial cost of Aussiecon (even with voting bonuses etc.) seemed high to me and I notice that the SF Bid is looking to escalate that even more. It might be nice to see that Worldcon downsize to around 2000 who are truly interested in what fandom has to offer (which is considerably more than access to media personae). {{Had we been sure Aussiecon would be (much) (unrealistically) smaller, we might have been able to bid a much cheaper site. The potential size of it kills any use of any except the most expensive site. el}}

I checked my atlas the other night I wondered how you managed to get into Illinois on your recent trip to Cincinnati. I think Indiana is more likely. {{Yes. el}}

Henry L. Welch Editor, The Knarley Knews

Damien Broderick

damien at ariel ucs unimelb edu au
Subject: dead trees

Hi Eric

Thanx for the Gegs, just here in the mail. You certainly travel a hell of a lot more than I do. Sigh.

Sorry to hear about yr loss. My own mother died, I suddenly realise, almost 10 years ago, at 66 - shocking early for a bright, on-the-go-woman. Double sigh.

I believe I'm to appear in the pages of ICON, the geek section of the SMH, on about the 30th, attended by a hideous Old Phart photo. I don't like this wearing-out portion of life. The piece is about my new book THE SPIKE, which sez we'll bypass the ageing thang reasonably soon, but I'm not sure that I believe it ... {{You sure that picture wasn't the one you usually keep in the attic? el}}

Cheers, Damien

F M Busby

Fmbusby001 at aol com Mon Aug 25 1997
Subject: Five--Count'em, Five! Gegs.

Hu--Just a note to see if we can get there from here, and to thank you for G75-79. Much enjoyed, especially your trip reports and most particularly the two Corflus.

I could wish to be more conversant with some of your computer acronyms. I've been messing with these devices for nigh onto fourteen year now (he said, shaking his beard to get the dust out), starting with a 64K CP/M machine and now being obsolete (as usual) with a 486DX/66, but more as lazy user than true aficionado, and when it comes to online I'm basically your classic neo. Er--make that "newbie", computer folk seem to reinvent the wheel at every turn (oops)..

You'll note by the fmbusby001 in my address that in America Online somebody beat me to the use of my own name. I sent this preemptor a note but he/she didn't respond, so the only answer is, I must of been abducted by aliens. And cloned.

Re The Triad Worlds, I suppose I do like "complicating up" my plots. But aren't you glad I didn't stretch those complications into another bloody Trilogy? (I'm reminded of the Locus review of my Slow Freight; the reviewer complained that the book contains "too many ideas". At the time I ascribed his reaction to an MTV attention span, but maybe I was laying on too much of a good thing, at that. {{But at least it wasn't a Trilogy - besides, I like ideas in SF. el}}

Anyway, thanks again, all best wishes, and see you whenever. --Buz.

Damien Broderick

damien at ariel ucs unimelb edu au
Subject: Re: dead trees

At 09:53 AM 8/25/97 +1000, you wrote: ... mind you, Telmah is a bit of a giveaway on a cover!

Yes, it's not really meant to be a *subtle surprise*... On the other hand, I've been told by quite a few readers that they didn't glom on to it until they were halfway thru - and luckily nobody has been pissed off by this. On the other hand, Gwyneth Jones has now given the book not one but two somewhat slighting reviews - in the NYRevSF and Interzone. Ho hum. J. Russ, G. Jones... somehow I always seem to get up the noses of the wonderful feminist writers/critics I most admire. (sigh)

Best, Damien

Jonathan Scott

jbs at ee usyd edu au Date: Fri, 29 Aug 1997

Dear Eric (and Jean),

received bundle of Gegenscheins, thank you.

I continue to be amazed at the rate you get through books. I read one book of fiction per month, on average. The average has been up lately, for reasons below.

I went through the ritual of parental death first with my mother three or four years ago, and then my grandmother two years ago, so I found the account of your mother very interesting.

You are evident proof of the fact that hoarding is an inherited trait. I could also reflect that you might be needlessly concerned with detail, the precision of the recording of your history, but I now feel that this is part of the process of dealing with grief and change.

I was very like you in this - kept every letter ever received or sent, though drew the line at Xmas cards.

Then about 7 years ago I went through an abnormally malicious breakup with a woman, and I came to be able to let go; I have stopped collecting myriad photographs, I file virtually everything that is not on a hard disk in the bottomless conical filing cabinet, and I have lost the need for "junk" (kindly use of the word) to make me feel secure or complete. I like it better this way.

What news? Well, I thought I had reached a serene plateau, after 40 years of this living game, from where I could look forward to a comfy, secure bachelorhood. Then I got together with Kay, and we got married last May. That buggered it up! {{Congratulations. el}}

Also I have resigned from Sydney University. Bloody hell. Some say I am daft to pass up tenure, but it was clear when I returned from the last Christmas holiday that I was no longer happy there, so poof. I am presently on long service, and I have applied for jobs in California and Hong Kong (as well as a couple in Sydney).

The times they really are a-changing. {{For us also. el}}

Anyway, I have a few more months of mucking about before I have to go back to work. Perhaps we will touch.


jan howard finder

the.wombat at juno com Wed Sep 3 1997
Subject: Help get me into the dictionary.

Dear Eric,

I hope all goes well with you and yours.

Maybe you can help me gain a little [very little] bit of immortality.

When I came up with BYTELOCK, I assumed it was in common usage. When I asked about, no one had heard it before, but very much liked the word. I have started a few other things and never gotten much credit for them, so this time I'm going to really try. I would greatly appreciate any help you could give me in spreading the word! Maybe you could include something like

When the Information Superhighway slows to a crawl or stops, you are experiencing "BYTELOCK!" jan howard finder, aka The Wombat, coined the word on 17 JUL 97. Please use BYTELOCK, but DO cite the source. jan would like to get into the dictionary.

A friend thought BYTELOCK could also describe "computer indigestion." I like that.

Off to a con next weekend. I skipped Worldcon, having started school already.

Don't know diddly about this toy. Sigh!


Ciao and teggeddizzi! May the Ghreat Wombat smile on you!


Margaret Riep

margaret.riep at rhh-con dchs tas gov au
Fri Sep 5 1997

Subject: Hi from Bob and Margaret.

Eric, Thanks very much for the recent mailing of GEGs. We're very sorry to hear of the death of your Mother. We were in Sydney recently but were not in a position to get in touch with you, as we were dealing with family matters mainly. Bob's Mother is not all that well at the moment, so we had to arrange various things for her, and also spent a fair bit of time with my Father, who had his 75th birthday while we were there.

Bob and I are well however, and hope you and Jean are too. I had a brief look at the ain99 website, and have passed the address on to other people here. Bob has some slides of fans and conventions from the middle seventies - would these be of use for the site? I'd better get back to work, but will try to keep in more regular contact.

Jerry Kaufman

JAKaufman at aol com Mon Sep 8 1997 Subject: Lots of Gegenscheins

We received Gegs 75-78 a couple of weeks ago, and I've just found the time this morning to leaf through them. I suppose it's about time you started sending them via e-mail or, if you prefer, sending us announcements when you put new ones up on your website.

I don't have a lot of comments, but here's a few stray ones: Jon Singer is still doing pottery, and having his usual grand, obsessive time with it. The results are quite handsome, too. I've noticed that every time he brings a new one to a gathering, he finds someone who deserves it as a gift. Next time you're in town, this will probably happen to you.

The movie you saw was "Jerry Maguire," not "Barry Maguire." {{Thanks. el}}

You will probably continue to receive vast quantities of fantasy books for review, despite your announcement. Will DUFF benefit? Or will you support your computer technology jones? {{Currently the review books go to support the Thylacon - 1995 NatCon - rescue fund, since the organisers were about $1500 out of pocket. el}} I've noticed that the passages in your diaries in which you really wax descriptive and lyrical are those in which you inspect new gizmos at stores and Comdex. {{I find it hard to deny I like gadgets - that is where SF comes alive for me. el}}

Jerry Kaufman

Cary Lenehan

cary_jl at postoffice utas edu au Mon Sep 22 1997


I am delighted to receive anything from you. I will check your web-page, but if is too modern I will not be able to read it on this machine (I cannot get the electronic BullSheet for instance). {{My stuff is pretty standard, being all hand coded HTML. Even the pages with tables are coded so they read fine in a text only browser. Tell me what you are using and I'll tell you how to set it up. el}}

Have fun overseas


Karen Vaughan

karen at xinfo anu edu au Mon Sep 22 09:33

Eric, hello! Nice to hear from you again after so long. I'll take a quick look at your web-site. I have been so busy between Uni and work. I did very well in a library unit on how to create websites but anyone with Microsoft Office 97 can do it automatically. I heard from Rebecca Baker that Melbourne is once again holding the Worldcon in 2000. Aussiecon Three is actually in 1999 el}} How is everyone in Sydney?? Occasionally I see Carol and Jim, Dee and Robbie (mainly in Belconnen Mall!). If you and Jean are down in Canberra sometime drop by to say hello. Karen ::-)

Ken Forman

kforman at wizard com Mon Sep 22 1997

So nice to hear from you. I just finished collating Gegenschein into the FAPA mailing, and I was just thinking about you.

I'm sorry to hear about your mother's death. Much sympathy! My own mother died just a few months ago. It was quite sudden, but expected. I'll write something about it in Penstock...someday.

On to more pleasant topics...looking forward to your visit in November!

Also, do you still have that 'Oneshot' on your palmtop you were working on at Corflu Wave? Are you planning on pubbing it? If not, could you email the part I wrote (about our road trip with Alyson) to me? But only if you have no plans to pub it yourself. {{It was in Geg 79. el}}

Looking toward November... Stay fannish, Ken

Edmund Meskys

edmund.meskys at gsel org Mon Sep 22 1997

Subject: fmz by email

Dear Eric, I do not have access to the web but do have access to e-mail. Could I please receive Gegenschein that way? I am slowly building up a mailinglist for a small personal/apazine I am shipping by e-mail and have added you. You should find two or three ish waiting for you when you return. A friend has pub all back ish on the web for me and the mythopoeic society society has added a connection from their page. I have also been shipping to Siclari and I assume he is doing something on the TIMEBINDERS page. {{I found three web browsers that have speech synthesis facilities, in case they were of use to Womble. If any seem to work out I'll gladly forward details. el}}

I just received 5 ish in print while I was away at worldcon or right after returning. I am shipping them to a volunteer who agreed to put them on tape for me.

Three years late, Niekas is almost ready for mailing. #45 will go out before the end of the year barring further disasters. Best, Ed Meskys

Carolyn Doyle

cdoyle at starnews com Date: Mon, 22 Sep 1997

Looking forward to seeing you at Octocon. Unfortunately, my workplace has CLOSED vacation time for the month of October, due to computer training ... so, I wouldn't be able to book a day after the con if you wanted to come here. (You are still welcome, of course, but there will be work ... unless I suddenly develop some fannish malady that keeps me from going to work, but not from doing fun fannish things!)

Dave and I are fine. We now have a Mac ... a Umax Supermac clone. But Dave doesn't want to put it on the net, so we'll have to wait until I get my PC (within the next year I hope) before we're on the web.

I have been having fun planing Solitaire, Virtual Pinball, 3-D Brickout and (my fave) MonkeyShines (like the old Donkey Kong arcade game!)

I probably need to buy a game pad before I wear out the arrow keys on the Mac keyboard!

Hope you and Jean are well. See you at Octocon! (Wish you could come to our 10/4 CFG meeting!)

-- Carolyn

Cheryl Morgan

CherylMorgan at compuserve com Tue Sep 23 1997

Geg web page duly bookmarked.

It looks like we'll be crossing in flight. I'm leaving for Melbourne on the 30th and will be there for at least 3 weeks, possibly longer. I will try to get back to San Francisco in time to catch up with you and Jean, but in case I don't, here are the contact details for BASFA (well, Kevin).

email: standlee.kevin at menlolog com phone: 650 961 9540

Meetings are on Mondays, which looks very convenient for your schedule, but if it isn't perhaps we can arrange something for the weekend. Boucher has been to one of our meetings and we didn't eat him, so I think you'll be safe. :-)

Love 'n' hugs,


Chris Nelson

C.Nelson at corp amc edu au Mon Sep 22 1997

G'day Eric,

Thanks for the message and for the zines you sent a while back. I've been meaning to email you -- I was sorry to hear about your mum and it occurred to me that this must have been happening about the time I was in Sydney, pestering you about a meeting with Bill Veney. So, tardy apologies.

Have a good trip.

Laurie D. T. Mann

lmann at city-net com Date: Sun, 21 Sep 1997

An online version is fine. Given my extremely erratic loccing, I was always shocked that you sent it to me from the far side of the world!

See you at Ditto/Octocon.

Neil Murray

neil at metva com au Mon Sep 22 11:57 1997

Re: your mail and email address change.

I would like to have the ascii version emailled to me and can you change the email address you have listed for me from neil at to neil.murray at metva com au. It is the same machine ( is an mx alias) but I want to shut down the domain eventually as I get 99.99% of spam I receive via the old wcc address.