MT VOID 09/22/00 (Vol. 19, Number 12)

MT VOID 09/22/00 (Vol. 19, Number 12)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 09/22/00 -- Vol. 19, 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.

Chair/Librarian: Mark Leeper, 732-817-5619,
Factotum: Evelyn Leeper, 732-332-6218,
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell,
HO Chair Emeritus: John Jetzt,
HO Librarian Emeritus: Nick Sauer,
Back issues at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

Hugo Awards:

Here are the complete 2000 Hugo Awards and John W. Campbell Award:

     Best Novel: A DEEPNESS IN THE SKY by Vernor Vinge (Tor)
     Best Novella: "The Winds of Marble Arch" by Connie Willis
     Best Novelette: "10 16 to 1" by James Patrick Kelly
     Best Short Story: "Scherzo with Tyrannosaur" by Michael Swanwick
     Best Related Book: Science Fiction of the 20th Century
          by Frank M. Robinson
     Best Dramatic Presentation: GALAXY QUEST
     Best Professional Editor: Gardner Dozois
     Best Professional Artist: Michael Whelan
     Best Semiprozine: LOCUS
     Best Fanzine: FILE 770
     Best Fan Writer: Dave Langford
     Best Fan Artist: Joe Mayhew
     John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer: Cory Doctorow


I have to admit to being impressed with the delicate grace of our Olympic athletes. It takes a terrific sense of balance for many of these games. Go a little too much in one direction and all of you competition will have an advantage over you. A little too much in the other direction and the drugs start showing up in the chemical tests. And most do not know exactly where the line is. A dedicated athlete can train for years only to have it all thrown away when the officials adopt a more sensitive drug test than he or she was expecting.

Steroids and painkillers and a host of new drugs are redefining the concept of cheating in the Olympics and making that concept of cheating much harder to pin down. There is the drama of can an athlete make use of a drug in that short window of time before it becomes illegal.

Currently the world is caught in the throes of the Olympics, that most sanctimonious of sports events. For months we have heard that all of Australia is gearing up for the Olympics. It is indeed a proud moment when some country can brag that "though everything else going wrong in our country, our economy is failing, crime is out of hand, but our culture has been able to develop the muscleman with the biggest and most powerful muscles." Or "our best iron ball chucker can chuck an iron ball further than any muscleman from any other culture. Rah! Rah!" Another country can boast "We have someone the best in the world at jumping over a stick." It may sound like sour grapes, but it would be one thing for the country to say, "our system created the people who finally proved the four-color map conjecture" or "our culture developed someone who eradicated smallpox." But these things are not meaningful to any but a few people. What is meaningful is "we can better than anyone else develop in one person the muscle groups needed to chuck iron balls." And on top of it they say "what you see at the Olympics is the human race at its best."

Let me tell you a little story about the human race at its best. By the time you read this, I will be back from the Toronto International Film Festival. In Toronto we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast. One of the permanent residents of the Bed and Breakfast was Tikka, who was part Collie and part German Shepherd. Tikka did not have a lot to do most of the day, but when we were there for breakfast, Tikka liked to play. Tikka had a knotted sock. She liked to impress people with how powerfully she defended and controlled that knotted sock. She would challenge people to the game Tug-of-War. Now if I was absolutely honest, I could beat her every time at this game. If you just keep twisting the sock Tikka got to the point where she had to loosen her grip and she would open her mouth. I would get the sock away then. I used this strategy precisely once. Why only once? Well, frankly, I do not think Tikka had that great a life. Like most dogs she spent most of her time sleeping her days and nights away. Her big thing in life, besides eating, was her sport of Tug-of-War. I was having a much better time of it going to films. But for Tikka it was sleeping eating, and Tug-of-War. Tikka wanted to feel like she could win this game. If I was playing my best I would win every time and she would not have even that. I let her win every time and feel she was a big powerful dog. I could have "brought home the glory," but even for me the world was a better place if I did not win.

What is "mankind at its best?" Is it having the United States go in there and clobber every little country in the world the way I could have won in my games with Tikka? Maybe, but I think there would be more virtue to not quite playing our best at the Olympics. Maybe we should not use the special high-tech, friction-free swimsuits that other countries cannot afford. Maybe we should not have the best-funded men's basketball team on top of our other advantages. Maybe like in my games with Tikka we should just let someone else win and feel good about themselves. There are so many other arenas in which we have it better than the competition; maybe the most sporting thing would be to let someone else win. This country wins no friends by using drugs and high-tech swimwear and high funding and using it to beat athletes from other less advantaged countries. I always hope that the US loses the major medals and some smaller and less powerful country beats us. If we want to show off to the world, let us find a cure for AIDS. Let us put a man on Mars and then bring him home. Let us solve the Goldbach Conjecture. Let the Olympic glory go where it would be really, really appreciated and might make a difference. [-mrl]

Quote of the Week:

    The basis of optimism is sheer terror.
                                   -- Oscar Wilde