MT VOID 09/18/98 (Vol. 17, Number 12)

MT VOID 09/18/98 (Vol. 17, Number 12)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 09/18/98 -- Vol. 17, No. 12

Table of Contents

Outside events: The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-447-3652 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  732-957-5619
HO Chair:     John Jetzt    MT 2E-530  732-957-5087
HO Librarian: Nick Sauer    HO 4F-427  732-949-7076
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist:
       Rob Mitchell  MT 2E-537  732-957-6330
Factotum:     Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433  732-957-2070
Back issues at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

URL of the week: Event Horizon Magazine: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror. [-ecl]

Cash: I must be different from other people. When all I have is a hammer, everything looks to me like my thumb. [-mrl]

Conventions: I have recently returned from the World Science Fiction Convention, this year called Bucconeer and held in Baltimore, Maryland. I would tell you about the convention, but that is really more Evelyn's province. She certainly is better than I am in writing about panels she has attended. There are some things that I take some pride in having written. My panel descriptions are not one of them. They always comes out like:

     Pohl said, "The Internet  will  certainly  change  a

     Silverberg said, "Yes, and in a  surprisingly  short
     space of time."
Somehow I can take a discussion from some of the leading experts in a field, transfer it to paper, and it comes out sounding like an expository lump from a 1930s Tom Swift novel. There historically were artists who could paint some of the liveliest people in their society and when they got them on canvas they looked dead and mounted like a butterfly. Somehow my panel writing is like that. I should study Evelyn's style and imitate it, but why compete? Better to let Evelyn do what she does so well.

It was nice to see this convention that the media took some notice that there was a science fiction convention in town and the publicity was not all bad. Years ago when science fiction was looked down upon, the publicity was never good. The words that come to mind are patronizing and condescending. These, of course, were the days when you were not allowed to read science fiction in school as it was the wrong sort of literature. You were allowed 1984, BRAVE NEW WORLD, and I got away with FRANKENSTEIN, but Wells and Verne were considered simply junk reading. These days science fiction is more acceptable. I think the attitude is "Please, please, please. Read anything. Read anything that is words on paper." What was goofing off for us in school has become model behavior for today's children. So I am not sure the modern acceptance of science fiction is entirely a good thing. It may be an act of desperation. These days you don't insult science fiction because it is accepted. And you certainly don't insult comic books. Comic book readers may well be the most militant group that is not a government-approved minority. If you don't show proper respect for comic books, they will hand you your head.

But I digress. Back when science fiction was less respectable to the mainstream we got the same sort of coverage in the newspapers. The coverage of the science fiction conventions would have headlines like "The Martians Have Landed." And they would show a fan in some outrageous Star- Trekky hall costume. And we used to complain that they did not show what the science fiction convention was really about. We have serious panels. We discuss important social issues. But the newspaper reporter would always find the guy with the ray gun and the tights and plaster his picture all over the entertainment section. Generally any sort of newspaper coverage was an embarrassment.

These days the coverage is better, but also I blame the newspaper a lot less for being patronizing. I was wrong to blame the newspaper. After all, the reporter was just giving his impressions of what he was seeing. And let's face it, not everybody makes the same amount of impression. The half- dressed fat woman wrapped up in a large live snake--and yes we used to get them--certainly knew that not everybody makes the same amount of impression and was taking advantage of the fact. That's why she wore the costume. She wanted attention and she did get it. And we believe democratically that everyone in fandom should be able to dress like they want and grab as much attention as they can. Is it really fair to blame the reporter because she succeeded? He was describing what he saw and you just can't miss a woman dressed in a snake. I can't blame the reporter for what he saw. Sometimes in a democratic society you leave a lousy impression on other people. From over in Turkey our country seems like one ravaged with AIDS and with ten- and twelve-year-old murderers. It is the country where Bill Gates makes obscene amounts of money off of others. Somehow that is not what I see in my day-to-day life. If you want to blame someone that conventions made a bad impression, blame the Snake Lady for using a good system for a bad purpose. I suspect unless there is a pressing reason to restrict her freedom (well, they do have a no- weapons policy), we will say she has a right to dress as she wants, even if it gives people a poor impression of the convention she is attending. [-mrl]

                                   Mark Leeper
                                   MT 3E-433 732-957-5619

Quote of the Week:

     The mathematician's patterns, like the painter's or
     the poet's, must be beautiful; the ideas, like the
     colors or the words, must fit together in a
     harmonious way. ... There is no permanent place in
     the world for ugly mathematics.
                                   -- G. H. Hardy