MT VOID 08/02/96 (Vol. 15, Number 5)

MT VOID 08/02/96 (Vol. 15, Number 5)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 08/02/96 -- Vol. 15, No. 5

Table of Contents

Upcoming Meetings:

Unless otherwise stated, all meetings are in the Middletown cafeteria Wednesdays at noon.

  DATE                    TOPIC

08/02   WINDOW TO PARIS (Monroe Township Library, 7:30PM)
08/05   WINDOW TO PARIS (Old Bridge Library, 7PM)
08/06   CRONOS (Metuchen Library, 7:30PM)
08/06   WINDOW TO PARIS (New Brunswick Library, 7PM)
08/07   WINDOW TO PARIS (Highland Park Library, 7:30PM)
08/08   WINDOW TO PARIS (North Brunswick Library, 7PM)
08/13   WINDOW TO PARIS (Metuchen Library, 7:30PM)

Outside events:
The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second
Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-933-2724 for
details.  The New Jersey Science Fiction Society meets on the third
Saturday of every month in Belleville; call 201-432-5965 for details.

MT Chair/Librarian:
              Mark Leeper   MT 3E-433  908-957-5619
HO Chair:     John Jetzt    MT 2E-530  908-957-5087
HO Librarian: Nick Sauer    HO 4F-427  908-949-7076
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist:
              Rob Mitchell  MT 2D-536  908-957-6330
Factotum:     Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433  908-957-2070
Backissues available at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

URL of the week:

URL of the week: Announcing the 10th Annual Festival of Fantasy, Horror & Science Fiction from August 9 - September 19 in New York. This will be the *last* such festival, so check it out! Posters, decsriptions, and more. [-ecl]


The subject for today is trust and betrayal. Well, not exactly betrayal, but... Ah, let me just explain it. Suppose your best friend in grade school has gone out to Hollywood and is reasonably successful in the film industry. He is not a big executive, but he is comfortable and may once every couple of years his name shows up in VARIETY. You have kept in touch with him, not really closely, but you know where he is and a bit of what he is doing, he knows the same about you. Well you get a chance to go out to Hollywood to visit him and he is all excited about showing you around. The first thing he tells you is about how things are really weird in Hollywood. You say you have heard that. He says no, he means REALLLLLY weird. He starts telling you about friends of his who are swapping wives and taking drugs. One guy sleeps with seven different women, depending on which night of the week it is. Someone else is having relations with his daughter. You know it is a whole mess. And you listen with wide-eyed amazement. I mean this is like nothing you have ever really imagined before. You friend tells you things are just crazy and strange. And in the middle of this your friend gets a call on his cellular phone. He talks for about ten minutes, obviously to a lawyer, while he drives through traffic. When it is all over he puts down the phone and explains the phone call with a one-sentence phrase. "One of my wives is suing me."

Now don't you feel betrayed? I mean when somebody is telling how weird the people around him are, somehow you give them a piece of your trust. You sort of identify with them and say, "This is really someone like me. He knows how weird things are and like me he is a wide-eyed innocent seeing all this." And then what happens? It all gets turned around somehow. With one phrase he goes from being one of us to being one of them. You start to wonder if any of it was really true or if he was justifying his own weird lifestyle or just what is happening.

Well, that is sort of how I felt. I am reading the book ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES by Robert Cringely and at the same time I am watching the TV show, taped off of PBS called "The Triumph of the Nerds." And I realize that what I am seeing on TV is really just the movie version of the book I am reading. Both of them are written by Robert Cringely. "The Triumph of the Nerds" is even narrated by him and you get a chance to see him on the screen. The story he is telling in each medium is about the strange world of the PC. How a few geeky kids turned themselves into the richest and most powerful people in the world without betraying their basic inner geeks. You find out about how Bill Gates is basically a combination of a sharp, cutthroat businessman and the kind of kid I used to know who would put alcohol in a syringe, shoot it through a Bunsen burner, and use it to burn down plastic toy soldiers. (Hey, no kidding, that was really my friend when I was a kid. I will call him Pete, because that was his name and nobody would believe I would use his real name in an article. But he discovered you could make a really neat heat ray this way and that would shoot this nifty line of flame and whatever it hit would burst into flame. I really wanted to use the effect to make my own version of WAR OF THE WORLDS. Maybe if I had, I would have been the one to make INDEPENDENCE DAY and would be fabulously wealthy. I am sure I could steal scenes from other films as well as any one else out there. But I digress.) No, people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are really rapacious businessmen who have learned not to deny what I call the Inner Nerd.

But okay, so I am putting my trust in Cringely. He is as amazed as I am to here what really goes on in the PC industry. And he is the reporter! I trusted him. There is something that makes me think that he is someone a lot like me because he is amazed at the same things. He, like me, is Mr. Average Middle-American. We are each kind of normal every-day guys who live normal every-day lives and dream of a nice secure retirement and of burning down plastic soldiers with death rays. (Geez, I wonder if that is what motivates Bob Dole.) Anyway, what I hear is that Robert Cringely is being sued for using the name Robert Cringely. Come again? Well, it seems that Cringely is the grand-nephew of the great French mathematician Nicholas Bourbaki and cousin of the science fiction writer Ivar Jorganson. Which is all a totally opaque way of saying that there is no such person as Robert Cringely. That is a house name for a group of people writing about the computer industry. This guy whom I trusted in the book and on my TV screen is one of the Robert Cringelys, but only one. And people are angry that he is passing himself off as being Robert Cringely. I mean the real Robert Cringely. Of which there are none. Hey, you don't have to be Bill Gates to be involved in weird stuff. [-mrl]

                                   Mark Leeper
                                   MT 3E-433 908-957-5619

Quote of the Week:

     Men become civilized, not in proportion
     to their willingness to believe, but in proportion
     to their readiness to doubt.
                                   --H. L. Mencken