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Recently in Sydney Futurians
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Mule Intelligence by Ian Woolf and Peter Eisler
The meeting opened with Graham Stone showing us the latest completely
unsolicited strange magazine sent to him, "Harsh Mistress", NOT a S & M
bondage magazine but a science fiction story journal, now called
"Absolute Magnitude" to avoid ambiguity.
The night's topic of "machine intelligence" was not seen as straight
forward by some of the attendees, as other science fiction fans might
have expected. The definition of the word "machine" was hotly debated.
One of our members declared that unless a device did useful and
valuable mechanical work, it was not a "machine". This was taken up by
another member who solemnly made the point that therefore a computer
was not a "machine". He further declared that we should therefore be
careful not to include any computer based entities as "machine
When Greg Egan's "Permutation City" was raised as a perfect example of
sentience in computers, he rejected this because the computer was only
simulating "intelligence", although he admitted he'd never read the
book. He then completely demolished any future hope of "machine
intelligence" by defining "intelligence" only to be applicable to
entities that can move. He pointed out that this also ruled out
computer based consciousness. Amazingly the definition was further
narrowed by restricting the definition of "machines" to inorganic
materials. Plastic and wood could only be used for "machines" if they
were dead first.
From there the definition of ""life" itself came into question.
It was asserted that the fundamental test of possession of life,
itself, was the capability to reproduce. Mules were ruled to be dead,
except for the one in a million who was not a mule and able to
Gently moving the topic back to "machine intelligences" in science
fiction, Robert Heinlein's method of arousing sentience in computers in
"Time Enough for Love" arose. Heinlein suggested that with very large,
fast and complex computers, if you spoke to them and were nice to them,
they would one day "wake up". However, it was ruled by someone who had
read Roger Penrose's "Emperor's New Mind" that computers can't contain
"intelligence" because they don't move. It was further ruled that they
would become intelligent if legs were attached and they became robots.
Androids were raised at this point, and were shouted down with cries of
"organics!", until a lone voice protested "but android just means
shaped-like-a-man!". A great silence fell. Vernor Vinge's "A Fire Upon
The Deep"'s `Blight' was mentioned as an example of a "machine
intelligence" in a computer. This was rejected because computers don't
move. It was given special dispensation, however due to its habit of
implanting radio modems in people's heads to control them, despite the
fact that the people were live organics converted to androids.
Members would admit that authors had somehow still managed to write
about "machine intelligence". Books on the topic discussed were:
Great Sky River by Gregory Benford
My Name is Legion by Roger Zelazny
True Names by Vernor Vinge
The Turing Option by Marvin Minsky and Harry Harrison
Queen of Angels by Greg Bear
Cybernetic Samuri by Victor Milan
The Hacker and the Ants by Rudy Rucker
Software by Rudy Rucker Wetware by Rudy Rucker
Isaac Asimov's Robot stories
Code of the Lifemaker by James P. Hogan
Permutation City by Greg Egan
Illuminatus! By Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea
Synners by Pat Cadigan
Time Enough for Love by Robert Heinlein
We can Build You by Phillip K. Dick
Watchbird by Phillip K. Dick
Answer by Frederic Brown
The Warlock in Spite of himself by Christopher Stasheff
Extro by Alfred Bester
Berserker by Fred Saberhagen
Bolo by Keith Laumer
Rim a novel of artificial intelligence by A. Besher
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Epilogue by Poul Anderson
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
Consider Phlebus Iain M. Banks
The Player of Games by Iain M. Banks
Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
Whipping bunnies by Ian Woolf and Peter Eisler
"If not chocolate, life around here is astonishingly like lamington."
-- Damien Broderick 1977
The meeting opened with the news that John Brunner, E. Whitemoore,
Pierre Barbet and Michael Ende ended and that Greg Egan didn't win a
Hugo. Harlan Ellison will be at the Power House Museum in February;
questions about the ransom will be asked.
Graham Stone showed us an article written by Jadwiga Jarvis in the
Australian Bookcollector October 1995 issue, page 24. Graham was very
proud of the description Jarvis gave of his character and values.
Graham also showed us a copy of the Canberra Science Fiction Society
Inc. newsletter he'd read, which he described as being one of those
magazines read only by those who put it together.
"Our second-hand culture may be dull, and anxious to remain dull, but
the implosions and exhalations of radical change are seldom contained
for long by the strictures of rule-book efficiency experts."
-- Damien Broderick 1977
Brian Wall explained that the Dallas Option had been taken by the
makers of the new movie Aliens 4, to loud sounds of derision from all.
Ian revealed that "The Sydney Morning Herald" reported on Elvish
interference with road building in Iceland. Roadworks were stopped when
large stones that were said to be the homes of local Elves were
reached. A medium was brought in to negotiate with the Elves, and
permission was granted to move the stones, as long as no explosives
were used. In a world-first, the Elves condescended to be interviewed
through the agent of the medium on Iceland radio. Ian described an
Icelandic survey which showed that 10% of Icelandic folk believed in
Elves, 10% denied their existence, and 80% refused to say, in case the
Elves were listening. A cultural comparison was drawn to the New
Zealand belief in the mystic powers of the All-Blacks.
"If a son asks for bread, the odds are high indeed that his father will
give him a stone (or a lamington)."
-- Damien Broderick 1977
More on mules was discussed, as it has been one of the enduring threads
of Futurian discussion. Ian reported that only one mule couple has
reproduced successfully in all of recorded history; as reported in
Strange Magazine 1988. This was because, while horses have 24
chromosomes, and donkeys have 22 chromosomes, mules have only 23
chromosomes - of course. This is not sufficient to produce a viable
offspring by current understanding of genetics; an even number is
required. Gary then expounded on his theories of cross-species mating.
He revealed intimate knowledge of attempted experiments between apes
and humans. He explained that closely related species could mate in
such a way that one species' chromosomes were recessive. After such a
hybrid was born, it would look like an ordinary ape. When another
adventurous human tried rishathra, the offspring could be a human.
These genetic combinations may explain certain nightclubs frequented by
some of our members. This may also explain parthenogenesis in certain
lizards, claimed Gary. They may have bred with the other-species lizard
next door, thus attaining sufficient chromosomes to continue to
reproduce without male assistance. Gary tried too illustrate his theory
with drawings and a flashing red light. Further speculation was deemed
"Australian science fiction? Yes indeed. Warm-blooded, clawed and
billed, it hatches and suckles its young, glides daringly from
eucalyptus trees...Alas it carries a Qantas ticket in its pouch."
-- Damien Broderick 1977
Forking kangaroo genitalia once again raised their heads. An episode of
Quantum seen by three of our members had depicted koalas being milked
for semen. A close-up clearly revealed the pronged nature of their
genitals. This led to the confirmation of the bifurcated genitals of
marsupial, and by extrapolation to kangaroos. Graham then fondly
reminisced about the times he had watched kangaroos mating, and had
never seen any evidence of forked penises. However, he had observed
that they had curves like a teapot, which he mused may have functioned
to get around the obstacle of the tail. Thus continued the
Ron Clarke idly pondered aloud the topic for next months meeting, and
was surprised to be met with overwhelming cries of "TREES!".
Ian announced the arrival of living fridge magnets on the market.
Graham then suggested that this idea could be extended to venus
flytraps, and then proceeded to lecture Ian on the topic, until Ian
explained that he had cultivated carnivorous plants for ten years and
had a few hundred at home.
The OzCon memory book was hawked to raise money to recover debts from
the last convention. Looking at the photos from a couple of decades
ago, it became obvious that Eric Lindsay has the secret of eternal
youth and Ron Clarke doesn't.
Brian Wall showed us Exposure magazine and Nexus magazine, both of
which had as cover stories the Fake Moon Landing. Peter added that the
Weekly World News had covered the same story recently. Eric opined that
this was all the result of the movie "Capricorn One". Ian explained
that the hoax was to cover up the real moon landing. This led to
discussion of pyramids on Mars and whether they kept razor blades
sharp. It was suggested that pyramidal razor sharpening was responsible
for the ancient Egyptian fashion of fake beards. All eyes turned to
Gary recommended the "Bloomsbury Good Reading Guide to Science Fiction
and Fantasy" by the strangely named Zool. It was pointed out that the
author had a minor role in Ghostbusters. The entry for L.Ron Hubbard's
work had everybody in stitches. He suggested the Futurians should put
together a similar guide to Australian content. Thus the topic of
Images of Australia in Science Fiction literature was begun.
"Australian science fiction? Sometimes the flow is blocked; sometimes
it runs uphill to greener pastures; sometimes it gurgles into the sand
and leaves little trace."
-- Damien Broderick 1977
First up, George Turner was mentioned, his latest book is "Genetic
Soldier" but nobody had read his books so nobody knows how he depicts
Australia. Cordwainer Smith (alias Paul Linebarger, author of the
military textbook "Psychological Warfare" and advisor to President
Kennedy) depicted Australia invaded by a Chinese Empire after seeding a
colony world with Old North Australian culture and becoming rich from
an immortality drug manufactured from giant sick sheep, and protected
by psychic mad minks.
"Mutant Message Down Under" was murmured by many people but nobody knew
what it was about or who wrote it. Gabriel Lord's "Salt" was mentioned
but nobody had read it.
Richard Lupoff's "Space War Blues" features Aboriginal spacemen
genetically tailored to survive in vacuum. "The Exromantine War" by
Gary's High School History teacher described a future where a plague
had made reproduction by placental animals impossible. Scientists
develop a marsupial male human who is irresistible to women - of
Jonathon Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" included coordinates for Lilliput
that places it in the Nullabor Plain. Robert Heinlein in the Roads Must
Roll features an Australian ambassador who is depicted as a white
racist. John Wyndham's "The Chrysalids" mentions New Zealand as a
mutant haven. The Futurians were becoming desperate for literary
Greg Egan in "Quarantine" depicts a New Hong Kong colony being set up
in the Northern Territory, and an East Coast where everybody is black,
with artificial aid if necessary. In "Permutation City", Sydney is
still pocked with great gaping holes from incomplete construction
projects in the 21st century.
A. Bertram Chandler in his "Rim Worlds" novels features a Melbourne
Port Authority that is the central spaceport on Earth, and a galaxy
full of place names taken from Australian and British suburbs, such as
the Empire of Waverly.
Zeitgeist, a collection of Australian science fiction stories selected
by Damien Broderick; was agreed to be an example of awful Australian
science fiction published in 1977. The collection includes a story by
G. M Glaskin about ferocious man-eating sheep called "The Inheritors".
Fred Astaire played a nuclear physicist at the end of the world in a
movie set in Melbourne, based on the novel "On the Beach" by Nevil
Shute. This led us inevitably to Australia as depicted in science
"We all press our mouths to the grease-nipple; for us, pity and terror
are newly shaped, and can benefit from new means of expression."
-- Damien Broderick 1977
"The Quiet Earth", a New Zealand post-apocalyptic film about immortal
survivors of the explosion of the sun. "Mad Max" and its sequels
feature a post-apocalyptic petrol-hungry Australia. "Salute to the
Jugger" is an post-apocalyptic movie depicting an Australia obsessed
with gladiatorial ball-games. "The Time Guardian" depicted a
time-travelling city that spent some time in Australia.
"Tank Girl" once again featured marsupial males who were irresistible
to women for reasons we'd rather not go into again. "Tank girl" exists
as both a post-apocalyptic British comic series and an American film
"...(the scent of a primer, after all, is the early morning promise of
a bright moon)..."
-- Damien Broderick 1977
(or as the Americans later translated these words "I love the smell of
napalm in the morning.")
"Stark" by Ben Elton exists both as a novel and a television
adaptation. It is set in present-day Australia, with conspiracies by
wealthy West-Australian businessmen. Apparently "The Amtrack Wars"
mention Australia in passing in the books but not the video adaptation.
A Japanese empire looks down on Australians because of our distance
from their holy island.
"One last lamington as envoi."
-- Damien Broderick 1977
It was noted that there is much juvenile Australian science fiction
around, particularly in TV series. Patricia Wrightson's "Nargun and the
stars" has been adapted to a TV series. "Andra" was compulsory viewing
in some high schools in the 1980's.
Length is important by Ian Woolf and Peter Eisler
The meeting started with a discusssion of how to get people back
into reading science fiction rather than just looking at it, and
a demand to know why Ron had muted our mule when editing the
title of our last article. Ron suggested a magazine with short
stories and novellas and having the main story written for
instance in the Star Trek universe. At this point, David read us
chapter and verse on the lineage of Novels, Novellas and
Novellettes (not knowing as we do that they mean Mr, Mrs and Miss
in esperanto). The argument that length was important was
winning, until German and Italian Romantics came into the
Basenji-adoptee Gary was ambushed every time he tried to open his
mouth to contribute to the discussion, so he passed around
photocopies of his Basenji. This quieted everyone as they
tried to understand why they were looking at this carefully
folded bit of paper and passing it along, with the exception
of the few members who had attended the Other Dimensions meeting,
who laughed out loud.
Susan explained that Absolute Magnitude (nee Harsh Mistress)
should be a Jenny Craig weight loss magazine. Mark declared that
CJ Cherryh is huge. Graham again explained he is in
correspondance with a magazine collector who, if its a magazine,
collects it. Brian revealed that the original Director's Cut of
the Stallone movie "Judge Dredd" contained the Sex-shop scenes
cruelly cut from the present release.
Graham declared that he was not aware of any science
fiction stories relating to Trees. Members were amazed that he
had missed out on the Day of the Triffids, The Integral Trees,
The Word For World Is Forest, The Man In The Tree, and all the
other well know stories in the important Tree sub-genre. Ian
proposed that the meeting after next be on the topic of Trees in
Brian reported that the Vatican would no longer accept applicants
for the priesthood who were allergic to Christ. The Catholic
Church has abolished transubstantiation, once the only
present-day miracle still acknowledged by the modern Church. As a
result, people who suffer from allergic digestive ailments or
alcoholism are now barred from the priesthood as they are no
longer magically protected from the gluten in the bread by having
it miraculously turn into the flesh of Yeshua ben Yosef, and the
alcohol transforming into his blood. A story where a priest
genuinely finds human flesh and blood in his Chalice is being
held by Harlan Ellison for the next collection of his "Dangerous
Visions" series. Ransom has not been discussed. Gary explained
that St Petersburg was a nice setting for cannibalism as the
police had other fish to fry.
Locus science fiction magazine asked what books you would take on
a desert island. Peter suggested the complete works of Isaac
Asimov so that you could build a bridge to the mainland, or
barring that, a book on surviving on a desert island. Locus's
next question was which author you would bring with you. Many
suggestions were listed, from Asimov to Shakespeare. It was
pointed out that all of these people were dead. Peter pointed out
that this was a bonus, as dead authors ate less and could be used
for emergency rations. Death has not slowed the output of many
authors, it was noted that Asimov and Hubbard are still releasing
new books. Mark reported that posthumous collaboration of Isaac
Asimov and L Ron Hubbard could be expected. One of the other dead
authors listed was Anthony Trollope, which Mark found to be a
strange choice for Locus. Peter pointed out that trollops were
always welcome on a desert island.
Pictures from the Roswell Incident film were passed around,
and the absence of certain physical features on the "female
alien cadaver" prompted some profound questions. (Not, "why do
little blue midgets hit me with fish?")
Susan immediately asked the deep evolutionary physiological
question; why do men have nipples? A discussion of lactating men
followed. This led to the discovery that the Rosswell alien, like
Adam, may have been of immaculate conception.
Discussing the topic was then discussed. The fact that the topic
of the rise and fall of civilsations - "The Long Night" was
altered by editor Ron in the Futurian #10 to refer erroneously to
Galactic Empires. It was reluctantly agreed that stories about
Earth were allowed. However, it was universally agreed that bad
post-apocolypse stories should be ignored.
Runestaff by Michael Moorcock
Post-apocolyptic Mask wearing Masonic Londoners hurt people.
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller jnr
Civilisation is nutured by monks during a post-nuclear holocaust
who rediscover electricity.
Empire of the Atom by A E Van Vogt
Post-nuclear civilsation run by secret mutants.
World of Tiers series by Phillip Jose Farmer
A man who isn't who he thought he was explores the Worlds of
Tiers left from the fall of the Lord's civilisation.
Future History series by Robert Heinlein
Lazarus Long keeps living through the rise and fall and rise of
Eon and Eternity by Greg Bear
An asteroid city from the far future intervenes in the fall ofcivilsation.
Foundation series by Isaac Asimov
A social scientist predicts the fall of galactic civilsation and
sets up some Foundations to make it only a Short Night.
The Long Night by Poul Anderson
The Polesotechnic League of merchant princes flowers and fades to
be succeeded by the Terran Empire which in turn succombs to
decadence, espionage and butlers until it also falls.
Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
Over-population and advanced drugs contribute to the world going to
hell except for one small nation, so they find out why.
Stone that Never Came Down by John Brunner
Civilisation starts to fall until a method of changing human
behaviour is spread by dissadents.
Rim World series by A Bertram Chandler
An Galactic civilisation arises on the Rim of the Galaxy where
the Laws of men and nature are spread thin, in the ashes of a
previous Galactic Empire.
Norstrilia series by Cordwainer Smith
Civilsation rises and falls and rises changing the nature of man
and beast such that we have more in common with the animals of
the future than with the new humans and their sick sheep.
Marching Morons by Cyril Kornbluth
Honest John solves the Moron problem for future geniuses.
Lord of Light by Roger Zelazney
After the fall of Earth, technology makes the Hindu religion the
Galactic Empires edited by Brian Aldiss
Short stories about Galactic Empires.
Space Opera edited by Brian Aldiss
Short stories of Space Operas.
Nightfall by Isaac Asimov
Night falls and civilisation ends once again.
Blood by Michael Moorcock
Engineers drilling into the Ultimate Nature of Reality make a
mistake, and civilisation and Reality decline.
Stainless Steel Rat series by Harry Harrison
A thief is set to catch less clever criminals for the latest
esperanto Galactic government.
Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
Freelance executioner wanders through the ruins of Earth.
The future of the Star Trek universe, after the fall?
Dying Earth series by Jack Vance
In the Last Days bored Sorcerors and thieves battle and time
Armageddon 2419 by Nolan
Buck Rogers sleeps through the fall and rise of galactic
The Time Machine by HG Wells
Man travels through time observing.
Mad Max with gills.
The Giants series by James P. Hogan
Ancient human civilisation rises and destroys itself, leaving
evidence on the moon.
Monkey Planet by Pierre Boulle
Monkeys take over the planet.
The Practice Effect by David Brin
Civilisation falls and rises as a new physical law is unleashed.
Flux and Anchor series by Jack L. Chalker
Civilisation changes as Physical law becomes subject to those
with the stronger will.
Chronicles of Morgain by CJ Cherryh
A gate-closing swordswoman and friend use a vortex.
Planet of No Return series by Harry Harisson
Duo contact worlds lost in the last Fall of civilisation.
Dune series by Frank Herbert
Galactic Empire of drug-addicts arises after an anti-computer
Cthulhu Mythhos cycle by HP Lovecraft
The Old Ones dream us in their Long Night - our nightmare begins
when they awaken.
Pern series by Anne Macaffrey
Dragon-based economy develops after a world is shunned by the
Ringworld by Larry Niven
Civilsation falls after a superconductor-eating plague on the
The Mote in Gods Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Sex-addicted alien civilisation rises and falls due to
The Warlock series by Christopher Stasheff
Democratic rebels escape despotic galactic government to set up
General series by SM Stirling and David Drake
Computer-assisted General conquers a helpless world left from
fall of a Galactic empire.
Spider World series by Colin Wilson
Giant spiders enlave humanity.
Battlefield Earth by L Ron Hubbard
Psychos stripmine Earth.
Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague De Camp
Time-traveler to ancient Rome modernizes it.
Bolo series by Keith Laumer
Giant tanks fight wars
Also mentioned but not read by us:
Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon
War of the Air by HG Wells
Amtrack Wars by Patrick Tilley
Space Viking by H Beam Piper
The Pelbar cycle by PO Williams
City by Clifford Simak
Against a Dark Background by Iain M. Banks
Not a Culture novel
Hainish series by Ursula K LeGuin
The Stone God Awakens by Phillip Jose Farmer
Hyperion cantos by Dan Simmons
The Inquisitor series by S Suchartil
She by CS Forester
People attending the meeting:
Duncan Smith (no relation)
Treed by Russell by Ian Woolf and Peter "Kar" Eisler
The meeting opened with science fiction related news from everyone
around the table. Ian related a technical report published on the
World Wide Web called "Fun with Grapes". You must cut white seedless
grapes in half, put them flat side down on a microwave-safe plate, and
put into a microwave oven on high temperature for 20 seconds. Ian then
described the results and encouraged the members to further
experiments. Ron claimed that peas reacted in a similar manner.
However independent scientific tests disproved this completely. The
speedy aging of wine in microwave ovens was mentioned by Mark. Ian also
reports that Urigeller has sunk to a new low by appearing in bendy
spoon Yoghurt ads.
New Scientist reports on a proposed experiment to test for parallel
universes. It was generally agreed that the experiment should
definitely be performed, and that Schroedinger's Quantum Veterinary
clinic should then be opened. This led to discussion of the escape of
the calicivirus rabbit killing virus in Australia ; to which the
Commonwealth Government reaction is to a consider deliberate release so
they don't look so dumb. There were also reports of evolutionary
atavism in the laboratory - scientists are inducing throwbacks to
earlier body parts in experimental animals. Star Wars fans and
Creationists are believed to be at large in the population. The Gnomes,
Elves and Little Men's Chowder and Marching society was discussed.
As a follow up to the Icelandic Elf survey, Peter reported that a US
survey shows that 2 out of 3 people in the USA believe in Satan, while
1 in 3 believe they have been personally tempted by Satan. Among the
works that people believe Satan has been personally responsible for
are: the Oklahoma city bombing, the spread of pornography, and the rise
of Gay rights.
Peter stole Mark's thunder by reporting that Galaxy bookshop had a
surprize dawn raid by Alan Dean Foster, who then autographed all his
books. This prompted the riddle: "How do you know when Alan Dean Foster
has broken into your home? All your books have been signed!" Peter
further noted "You've got to worry when you find that your Bible has
Brian Walls Reported that Ozcon was coming up. There will be a dinner
for Harlan Ellison somewhere between 4 -7 January 1996 organized by the
Powerhouse museum and Dymoks during writers week in first week of
January. Brian reported upcoming Infinitas bookshop SF meeting. The
Sydney Morning Herald had a "Horror Ditmar" headline. The movie "Island
of Lost Souls" features a whip from Australia - no bunnies, but banned
for sex scenes. He also mentioned an HG wells movie called "Unknown"
featuring an armless knife thrower with Lon Chaney. British copyright
has been extended to now cover 70 years after an author's death, as
opposed to the old limit of fifty years.
Graham Stone reported of Sirius zine "If I write for it, it must be
good.", the price is now up to $7.95. Peter calculated that Graham's
contribution would cost you 70 cents. A new magazine he'd been sent was
Body Dabbler - Australian Crime fiction. Graham noticed that the
previous meeting featured a "Mysterious Nexus appearance" claimed to be
owned by Nobody.
Ron declared "Come to the Lugarno meeting - its mostly women, Brad is
the only regular male in attendance."
The Melbourne 24 hours SF movie marathon was warned to be planned to be
on Saturday 9th December, by now you have missed it. Rocky Horror has a
Summer bikini theme the week before, you missed that one also, it was
very good. However Xmas Rocky will be held on the 22nd December, but
you'll probably have missed that one too. You missed Macquariecon also,
which was announced at the meeting. (You ARE getting slow!)
Gary reports Roswell Alien autopsy film features Basenji-style injury,
however Gary refused to reveal publically if the Basenji yodel. Private
revelations on the matter have been supressed in the name of good
taste. Entertainment Tonight said that Fox rabbitted on about their
own Roswell tape for sale. Fox had Will Riker doing his Orson Wells
impressions for the voice-overs.
"Roots, trunks and leaves - thats a tree." Tonight's topic was opened
by noting the contribution trees had made to science fiction in the
form of paper. A moment of silence was held.
Brian Walls had a flash that he'd read Alien Earth by Edmund Hamilton.
A Westerner goes to a Vietnam village and takes a wonder drug that
slows his metabolism so that he see trees as revolting monsters.
Ron extended his muting from mules to trees by announcing the end of
the meeting just as Peter was about to read his carefully prepared
speech. Some of these references are from that speech.
The Saliva Tree by Brian Aldiss - at the end of time a giant tree
grows to the moon, all that survives on Earth are plants and a few
people. Nobody was able to explain the saliva reference.
Genocides by Thomas Disch - aliens sow seeds on Earth, trees grow
uncontrollably destroying civilisation as we know it. Aliens clean out
all of humanity except root dwellers. Who then die during the harvest.
An uplifting book.
Destiny Doll by Clifford Simak - conifer grid shoots encoded nuts at things.
Broken worlds by Poul Anderson features worlds in a black hole with
people living on heat-engine trees "screw your way into space".
Alan Dean Foster wrote and probably signed Midworld - A Human
ex-commonwealth forest world where the forest alters humans
genetically. Also Green Thieves - daring exploits of criminal trees.
The Stone God Awakens by Phillip Jose Farmer- man sleeps, man wakes,
man fights big tree.
Copernicus Rebellion by Leo Frankowski features tree hosues and
mosquito larvae that eat iron.
Millenium Tree by Kevin ODonnel Jnr features teleporting sentient cacti
in a religious war. Far galaxy picks up human DNA in radio broadcast
and reassembles them onto super massive trees living on asteroids with
atomic drives providing light and thrust.
Seeds from Space by Lawrence Manning (1935) may have inspired Trffids
playboy parasite nonentity gets hit by seeds that grow into intelligent
mobile trees NOT called Russell.
Planet Entity by Clarke Ashton Smith, - vine like plant on Mars decides
to "Branch out" to Earth.
Seeds of the Dust by Raymond Z Galoon - Earth is cold, human
descenbdants bug out to Venus, until Martian trees stop them.
Legion of Space by Jack Williamson -- band shot down and land on a
giant log, monstor amoeba on other end pursues them in the worlds
slowest chase scene. This scene was described to the meeting for longer
than the actual events in the book.
Beyond this Horizon by Robert Heinlein - General Sherman Tree (sequoia)
is head of subversives.
Branch lines by James Blish has crystal vibes in tree for FTL
Son of Tree by Jack Vance - carnivorous agave tree God
Xenocide by Orson Scott Card - aliens kill child and plant a tree in
her corpse to be friendly.
The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin - Hainish tree novel
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham - slapping good tree yarn
Relic of Empire by Larry Niven - genetically engineered trees save the
West of Eden by Harry Harrison smart dinosaurs live in tree cities
The Bride and the Beast by Ed Wood featured a headline "110 000 Chinese
living in trees."
(movie Terminator Tree ruled out as too silly)
Process by A E Van Vogt intelligent trees cope with human intrusions.
Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide series featured leaves as currency,
trees as military bases (potentially), and a sentient bowl of
Krugg syndrome by A. McAllister - man is convinced he is the spearhead
of alien invasion of trees.
Spider World by Colin Wilson - alien tree topples human civilsation and
replaces it with spiders.
Earthgrip by Harry Turtledove - Sherlockian logic solves dying tree mystery
Garbage Chronicles by Brian Herbert features mobile vegetable
Shade of the Tree by Piers Anthony - naughty tree upsets woman
Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury - Tree celebrates Halloween
Tree houses to superSEED buildings?
The Man Who Awoke (1933)by Lawrence Manning, Forest dwellers in the
Pirates of venus. by Edgar Rice Burroughs features more forest dwellers
in the future.
Integral Trees by Larry Niven - even more tree dweller in the future
Protector by Larry Niven - Tree of Life provides aliens with yams.
World of Null-A by A.E Van Vogt - non-Aristotlian detective dwells in
trees in the future.
Hothouse by Brian Aldiss - tree dwellers in the future, too.
Deathworld by Harry Harrison features killer trees among forest dweller
in the future.
In other worlds by A. Attanasio features intelligent trees who draw
people through black holes to dwell in them in the future
Houses of Iszm by Jack Vance - secret of forest dwelling carefully
suppressed in the future.
Mother by Phillip Jose Farmer - man dwells inside sessile maternal tree
in the future
Lord of the Trees by Phillip Jose Farmer - Tarzan dwells in trees in
Genesis by Yahweh Elohim - Indian Giver gardner demonstrates the
violence inherent in the system when the fruits of the Tree of
Knowledge are consumed. He takes back the Tree of Life to prevent
equality, and maintain his authoritarian regime. Thus condemning the
descendants to dwell in trees in the future.
Next months topic will be "Probabilities and their breakdown".
Scratch the Giant Carrot by Ian Woolf and Peter Eisler
The meeting opened with Ron Clarke explaining to Eric Lindsay why food
couldn't be sex. Graham Stone regaled us with the latest chapter in his
continuing battle with Jadwiga Jarvis in the Australian Bookcollector,
the latest article was titled "Book Arts My Arse". Ian and Eric brought
food for the end-of-year Food meeting, as everyone had been asked to at
the last meeting by Ron. Nobody else remembered. [Except for Peter, who
couldn't be bothered.]
Eric announced that Harlan Ellison will be appearing at the Powerhouse
Museum on the 5th, 6th, and 7th of January 1996. [You've already missed
this]. To quote from the flyer:
"Harlan Ellison. [What sort of sentence is this?] As a writer, he has
won more Hugo Awards (7 1/2) than anyone. [HALF??? Wasn't that
particular story popular enough for a whole Hugo Award?] As a
screenwriter his name is synonymous with the original [Harlan
Ellison's:] STAR TREK,[Harlan Ellison's:] OUTER LIMITS, and new [Harlan
Ellison's:]TWILIGHT ZONE. Currently Creative Consultant on BABYLON 5
[the only SF TV show with pockets], his world now encompasses the
realms of computer games [ours has encompassed them for years]
(Cyberdream's I HAVE NO MOUTH, AND I MUST SCREAM), and comics (HARLAN
ELLISON'S DREAM CORRIDOR). As Tom Snyder said on the NBC TOMORROW show
[ which no doubt all of you watched]: "An amazing talent; meeting him
is an incredible experience."
We would have gone if they had instead used the quote below:
`"The Last Dangerous Visions" may be the most promising of all (it is
promised for 1980, as it has been annually for the past half-dozen
years)... Largely through his own efforts he has become
controversial... In the past decade Ellison has made increasingly
vocal efforts to detach himself both from fandom and from science
-- James Gunn, 1979
Eric promoted DUFF, MAF - a one way trip across the Sargasso Sea, but
not MUFF. The SF World Con will be making a move to "take back
territory for hard sf." Or at least the closest hill. "People go for
size." Because it is important. "Hopefully gamers will have their own
convention. [We're aware of at least six that were held last year.].
Eric then commented that "there are only a few hard science fiction
writers", to which Gary Dalrymple replied "if only we can get them to
Ian next reported on the success of the MacquarieCon Role Playing Game
Convention, which was echoed by the five gamers at the meeting. Marc
Ortlieb's Bullsheet used the Futurian to keep tabs on the whereabouts
of one Kevin Dillon. [Hi Marc!] Kevin was amused.
Digital Equipment Corporation have published technical reports on the
World Wide Web detailing their discovery of Light Emitting Vegetable
Diodes. They found that if they stuck electrodes in a pickle and turned
up the curent, the pickle glowed. Inspired by this, further DEC
engineers tried the experiment on some Kim Chee which Gary explained
was fermented Korean coleslaw. The Kim Chee didn't glow very much,
however an oscilloscope trace revealed it was performing as a
rectifier, turning the AC into DC. Thus paving the way for new McGuyver
episodes. This in turn inspired the Twinkies Project, inwhich the
American cream cake was subjected to rigorous testing, and reporting on
the internet. The Twinkies were subjected to Solubility, Gravitational,
Radiation, Rapid Oxidation, and finally a Turing test. The Turing test
was last so that they wouldn't feel bad about doing the destructive
experiments if the Twinkies proved to be sentient. Gary explained that
Basenji regard the word "twinkles" as an instruction to ur Ian related
that further tests have shown conclusively that despite Ron's claims at
the previous meetings, peas do not behave as spectacularly in
microwaves as grapes do. It has also been found that red grapes do not
display the same behaviour after being microwaved on high.
Gary informed us that Kevin Doughty is very active in the Conception
display at the Powerhouse. He also revealed [on topic] that Basenji eat
chocolate cake. With great dramatical flair, Gary read out the
following Doctor Who political tract:
"I want to bring fandom together. I want fans to be able to visit
anywhere or move anywhere and be sure in the knowledge taht there'll be
a friendly group of Doctor Who fans, who meet often, not far away. I
want fandm to be fun again. Competition is good but co-operation is
better. Clubs will always compete in merchandise but I'm sure we can
work together in other areas. Remember, the fans are always the most
important. Perhaps, one day, the clubs will join together to organise
that 'round Australia tour that John Pertwee has always wanted. The
first step must be taken now.
Nuzing in ze vurld, can ztop me now...
I've just finished reading the NA Pencil-Case and it really doesn't
stand up against the AF NA Lamp-Post. Thanks to the uproar over the new
Universal Doctor Who Theme Park..."
-- Editorials, Data Extract, Doctor Who Club of Australia
Members of the Doctor Who Club of Australia like to be known as Whoons.
Gary opened the meeting with a tasty description of the movie
"Greenslime", in which an alien algae gets killed by kamikaze
astronauts sponsered by Campbells [who, no doubt, will sue us for
mentioning them, when its really Gary Dalrymple's fault]. This reminded
people of a movie called "The Stuff" [not, to our knowledge related to
the guarana-enriched nectar of the same name] in which killer tofutti
takes over your brain, bubbles out of the ground, and wanders around
the fridge at night. Next came "Soylent Green", which several people
simultaneously, and loudly declared was different to the original Harry
Harrison story "Make Room, Make Room!". Gary then reminded us of the
Doctor Who episodes featuring maggot corgis with greenslime yachting up
the Amazon looking for mushrooms.
Ron then brought up H.G. Well's "Food of The Gods", which prompted a
remark about `Scratch the giant carrot' that nobody understood, and a
New Twilight Zone episode plagiarised by Ellison [synonomously, no
doubt] from `Food of the Gods' featuring dead giant animals. This
reminded Gary of the Japanese mushroom people movie. Which Gary then
enacted for our amusement.
Graham Stone then raised John Wyndham's "Puffball Menace", "Survivor"
and "The Day of the Triffids", wherein Triffids were cultivated for
their edible oil and ground up and fed to blind people. This led to the
novel "Year of the Angry Rabbit" by Russell Braddon, and the movie of
it, "Night of the Lepus". Rabbits terrorize the countryside and eat
This led to the Big Bunny Goodies episode, featuring rabbits that
travel to the moon, and Bill Oddie eating the British Prime Minister.
The Space Merchants by Frederick Pohl featured harmless addictive
alkaloids and cultured meat. An article in a recent issue of New
Scientist disussed a new kilojoule-free oil-substitute that the FDA is
considering. The only safety problems are the fact that it leaches
vitamins out of food you';ve already eaten, and also cancer-preventing
chemicals out of fruit. People eating the oil-substitute found that
when it passed through their bodies undigested, they suffered the
problem of leakage.
Several people remembered the concept of "steak-easies", but none of us
could remember which stories featured the idea or who wrote them.
However we all wanted to visit one.
L. Sprague De Camp's "Hyperpilosity" features a wonder-food that has the
small side effect of covering the consumer with long fur. In John
Christopher's "Death of Grass", all grain crops die.
Peter at this point declared that everybody would now hear his words
before they left rather than after, as happened last month - the rude
bastards. "Bordered in Black" by Larry Niven is about a world of oceans
covered in edible algae, and the continents bordered in black.
"Lucifer's Hammer" was about some well-organised cannibals. "Soft
Weapon" had a carnivorous alien telepath being tortured by a human
vividly remembering eating a carrot.
Norman Spinrad's "Men in the jungle" had a cannibal society that was
well-organised. In "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson, Pizza deliveries
are run by organised criminals. In "Only Forward" by Michael Marshall
Smith, had badly organised criminal cannibals, who forced the hero to
wait forever in Pancakes at the Movies. This reminded Gary of the
"cloned foreskin over St Peter's dome basilika", but he wouldn't tell
us why. Peter however was reminded of "Dad's Nuke" by M. Laidlaw, where
Christians had kept Christ's foreskin, cloned it, and were using it as
This reminded Graham of the milk-giving Shmoo in Li'l Abner, although
nobody else could see the connection. Ian then suggested that this was
like Norman Lindsay's "Magic Pudding", who loudly insisted on his
crminal owners eating from him on an organised basis. Frederic Brown's
"Last Vampires" features two vampires who travelled forward in time to
a period inhabited by giant carrots, and starved. Douglas Adam's
Hitchiker's series featured Bistromatics, the Nutromatic machine, the
universe extrapolated from a piece of fairy bread, a space drive based
on a strong cup of tea, and the cow that not only wanted to be eaten,
but was able to say so. In John W. Campbell's "Who Goes There?",
organised people are converted to aliens by eating them.
Michael Coney's "Cat Karina", in which society believed it was
vegetarian, but wasn't. Phillip K. Dick's "Cheery Gum" in which a
happiness drug with no physiological side-effects destroys society when
chewed. "Holy Quarrel" in which aliens invade Earth via Gumball machines. In
"Counter-clock world" backwards-living people consume tubes of hot and
cold sorghum. harry Harrison's "Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers"
features a spacedrive based on cheese. Robert Rankin's "Armageddon"
trilogy features Elvis time travelling due to a Brussel Sprout called
Barry. Peter then shut up, before anyone could leave.
Ian hauled out his list. Frank Herbert's "Dune" series revolved around
spicey worms. Larry Niven in "Their Assimilating Our Culture" has
astronauts who innocently consent to tissue samples horrified to find
their cloned selves in gourmet butcheries. In "Table Manners" humans
must learn to feast with predators inspired by sushimi. "What can you
say about Chocolate Covered Manhole Covers?" features aliens using
pick-up lines as a filter for highly intelligent people to abduct.
Piers Anthony's "Prostho Plus" is about a dentist abducted by aliens.
John Brunner's "The Stone That Never Came Down" is about food that
changes human nature. Orson Scott Card wrote a story about a man who
saves a human colony by persuading aliens to organise to eat them a bit
at a time. In Damon Knight's "To Serve Man" a great punchline is used
that we won't reveal. In "Raturava's Case" by Phillip K. Dick, humans
undergoing near-death are soothed by formless aliens who feed them
religious images. Unfortunately, this involves formless aliens being
given form by being eaten by a structured God, rather than the
Christian ideal of formed humans eating a formless God to take on a
Divine nature. They don't enjoy themselves.
It was decided that June's topic (being mid-winter) shall be Santa
Claus in science fiction.
The Topic That Never Was, or Possessed by J Morrow
by Ian Woolf and Peter Eisler
The meeting opened with Graham Stone reporting that despite the
physical absence of Kevin Dillon, nine adults met at Seven Hills. Also
that the Southern crowd will be meeting on Sunday (you missed it). Jack
Finney and Don Pendleton died. Eric Lindsay pushed the Worldcon in
Australia in 1999 bid yet again. The three main choices open to voters
will be Zagreb, Australia, and Las Vegas (pushed by the Chicago mob
against the will of the Las Vegas members). Eric then dumped several
hundred "Worldcon in Australia in '99" onto the table for the nine
adults present to collect.
Terry Pratchett's heavy schedule was outlined by Kevin and Peter,
alternating locations and times, completely unrehearsed. Apparently he
appeared at Galaxy bookshop, Dymoks bookshop, the NSW State Library,
and Cancon. Eric revealed that there is a Bureau that keeps lists of
writers and organises with venues for displaying them (ASIO?).
"You can't be too cynical about Australian writers", opined Eric,
complaining about the troubles with the local SF writing scene. "If it
hasn't got a dragon or a unicorn on the cover it won't sell." Eric went
on to report that most science fiction titles sell only 2000 copies in
Australia, which deters publishers from spending money. However Qantas
can be persuaded to bump up the class.
Harlan Ellison's visit went well, except that Peter admitted to
insulting Harlan with pedantry. In revenge Harlan harrassed Leigh
Blackmore. A newspaper article was shown reporting the discovery of
several new planets, one of which was calculated to have a surface
temperature of 80 degrees Celcius. The writer pointed out that this makes
liquid water possible, and made much of the idea that this makes
life as we know it possible. However the planet in question is a giant
like Jupiter, so liquid water is unlikely. There was some small
discussion of the fact that it was becoming trendy to feature Leonardo
Da Vinci in SF novels, despite the fact that he's dead.
Eric forged his press pass in an elaborate scam to gain free gifts at
Comdex. Free gifts from various marketers still cross the Pacific in
hopes of wooing Eric's gilded pen. In Las Vegas Eric bought some chips
and was given a free night and meal at the hotel as a result. The next
day someone else cashed them in, and that night they bought the same
amount of chips, and continued the cycle.
Uri Geller, when not making yoghurt ads, now has his own World Wide Web
site, as falsely promoted in the Sydney Morning Herald. The article
reported that Geller had a million dollar psychic challenge open to
denizens of the internet. The basis of the challenge was reported to be
spoon locked in a safe in Geller's house, complete with camera focussed
on it and reporting to the web page. When the spoon bent, the people
connected at that time would be gathered to Geller's house for further
tests. The winner (as determined by Geller) would then get the million
dollars and succeed Uri Geller's lofty position. On investigation, Ian
disovered that Geller is still searching for a sponsor to provide the
million dollars; and the safe, and the camera, and the spoon. Sounds bent to
us. His page contains only a brief explanation of the challenge, and a
series of well laid out advertisements for his consulting business. The
Futurians came up with a better test which will be implemented after
the interactive Basenjis site is activated.
New Scientist had further elf sightings on the cloudtops. The IgNoble
awards were given out by the Annals Of Improbable Research for 1995.
Here is a complete list of the 1995 Ig Nobel Prizewinners:
NUTRITION John Martinez of J. Martinez & Company in
Atlanta, for Luak Coffee, the world's most expensive
coffee, which is made from coffee beans ingested and
excreted by the luak (aka, the palm civet), a bobcat-like
animal native to Indonesia.
PHYSICS D.M.R. Georget, R. Parker, and A.C. Smith, of the
Institute of Food Research, Norwich, England, for their
rigorous analysis of soggy breakfast cereal, published in
the report entitled 'A Study of the Effects of Water
Content on the Compaction Behaviour of Breakfast Cereal
Flakes." [Published in the research journal "Powder
Technology," November, 1994, vol. 81, no. 2, pp. 189-96.]
ECONOMICS Awarded jointly to Nick Leeson and his superiors
at Barings Bank and to Robert Citron of Orange County,
California, for using the calculus of derivatives to
demonstrate that every financial institution has its
MEDICINE Marcia E. Buebel, David S. Shannahoff-Khalsa, and
Michael R. Boyle, for their invigorating study entitled
"The Effects of Unilateral Forced Nostril Breathing on
Cognition." [Published in "International Journal of
Neuroscience," vol. 57, 1991, pp. 239-249.]
LITERATURE David B. Busch and James R. Starling, of
Madison Wisconsin, for their deeply penetrating research
report, "Rectal foreign bodies: Case Reports and a
Comprehensive Review of the World's Literature." The
citations include reports of, among other items: seven
light bulbs; a knife sharpener; two flashlights; a wire
spring; a snuff box; an oil can with potato stopper;
eleven different forms of fruits, vegetables and other
foodstuffs; a jeweler's saw; a frozen pig's tail; a tin
cup; a beer glass; and one patient's remarkable ensemble
collection consisting of spectacles, a suitcase key, a
tobacco pouch and a magazine. [Published in the medical
journal "Surgery," September 1986, pp. 512-519.]
PEACE The Taiwan National Parliament, for demonstrating
that politicians gain more by punching, kicking and
gouging each other than by waging war against other
PSYCHOLOGY Shigeru Watanabe, Junko Sakamoto, and Masumi
Wakita, of Keio University, for their success in training
pigeons to discriminate between the paintings of Picasso
and those of Monet. [Their report, entitled "Pigeons'
Discrimination of Paintings by Monet and Picasso," was
published in "Journal of the Experimental Analysis of
Behavior," vol. 63, 1995, pp. 165-174.]
PUBLIC HEALTH Martha Kold Bakkevig of Sintef Unimed in
Trondheim, Norway, and Ruth Nielson of the Technical
University of Denmark, for their exhaustive study, "Impact
of Wet Underwear on Thermoregulatory Responses and Thermal
Comfort in the Cold." [Published in "Ergonomics," vol 37,
no. 8, Aug. 1994 , pp. 1375- 89.]
DENTISTRY Robert H. Beaumont, of Shore View, Minnesota,
for his incisive study "Patient Preference for Waxed or
Unwaxed Dental Floss." [Published in the research journal
"Journal of Periodontology," vol. 61, no. 2, Feb. 1990,
pp. 123-5. ]
CHEMISTRY Bijan Pakzad of Beverly Hills, for creating DNA
Cologne and DNA Perfume, neither of which contain
deoxyribonucleic acid, and both of which come in a triple
(This data is taken from http://www.improb.com/projects/igs95-winners.html
Up-to-the-minute news about the Ig Nobel Prizes and about the Annals of
Improbable Research can be obtained by sending e-mail to:
Eric elaborated on an AIR article on Rectal Foreign Bodies. The
story one patient gave was that he'd heard a burglar outside, so he had
stood on the sink to look outside, and had slipped, falling backwards
upon the champagne bottle. The doctor asked what had happened to his
trousers. This reminded Graham of a story from (yes!) the 1930's,
called "The thousand deaths of Mr Small", in which Mr Small bashes his
child, falls onto a coal scuttle, the handle of which, becoming a
rectal foreign body, kills him.
The creation of antimatter hydrogen atoms was also reported in the
newspapers. Brian reported on the new German SF series screening on SBS
called "Stella Stellaris" which he hadn't seen. Peter and Ian reported
that it seemed to be about an alien blonde whose secret ability was to
make clothes disappear. The Infinitas bookshop runs SF meetings with no
name on the 1st or 2nd thursday of the month. Brian went on to relate
his almost adventures at the Cinestore, a movie script shop. He began
to regale us with tales of not meeting Sama Hung, and finding an Oliver
Stone script of Bester's "The Demolished Man". However Graham felt the
need to expostulate. "Can I just interrupt the flow of rhetoric?", he
asked rhetorically. He then proceeded to answer his own question by
plowing forward. Brian then continued informing us about the "Island of
Doctor Moreau". Apparently Marlon Brando has chosen to perform his role
in full Kabuki makeup. The director has gone Feral. Val Kilmer also
wanted to dress in kabuki makeup but but had to settle for looking like
a racoon. "Independence day" is a film script about the invasion of
America by aliens. There was loud cheering from the Futurians. A film
titled "Men In Black" is in the works (don't tell anybody). "Strange
Days", and "12 Monkeys" are to be released this year, and he also saw
Michael Crichton's forthcoming film about an amusement park where the
controlling computer system breaks down and the exhibits kill people.
This time its called "Twister".
At this point in the evening, fireworks were observed out the windows
over Darling Harbour. We rushed to the windows to watch. Gary turned
out the lights and the fireworks stopped. He turned them on again and
the fireworks obediently started up again. He was told "do that again".
So he did. the fireworks obeyed again. At this point we got bored and
returned to the discussion. The newspapers had reported that if you
wore red/green glasses the fireworks would appear 3-D. We noted the red
and green fireworks, but everything out the windows appeared 3-D that
night, so it must have been a generalized effect.
Brian also saw the "Aliens VS Species" script. On the merchandising
front, the Johnny Mnemonic pinball game has appeared and was reviewed
by Mark Phillips. There is also an Area 51 video game. Area 51 is a US
Air Base that does not appear on civilian maps. In the game, you get to
shoot US troops.
Mark mentioned "Towing Jehovah" which led Peter to chant "J Morrow, J
Morrow, J Morrow", and to record this in his notepad for later study. He
then repressed the memory in best Freudian fashion, while Ian covered
by suggesting a cartoon of "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathon
Garry reported that a magazine starting with "P" was showing a
gynacological tour of Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). Peter claimed to
have a friend with a copy, and would borrow a copy for the next
meeting. Ron Clarke reported that Trek Australis was breaking up due to
debts, with the mailing list being part of the settlement.
In an unlikely turn of events tonight's topic of "Probabilty and its
breakdown" was not discussed as the meeting ended at this point. After
careful consideration, the topic was determined to be more appropriate
for the next meeting.
Technological Singularity is a buzzword
by Ian Woolf and Peter Eisler
Kyla Ward, Peter and Dr David Bofinger the unbeliever were interviewed
about the highly successful and entertaining Sydcon Role Playing Game
Convention by Maynard, as featured recently on Foxtel in Australia, but
unfortunately nobody we know gets Foxtel, so nobody saw it.
Inventex Inventor's Exhibition will be on 22nd to 25th August 1996 at the
Sydney Showground, Hall No 3 contact (02) 810 6645 for moore details.
(don't miss that). The Australian Skeptics will be holding their annual
convention on September 21 and 22 at Monash University in Melbourne.
Reverend Doctor Garry Dalrymple then scared away a stray woman who nearly
made the mistake of unintentionally joining our meeting, to the regret of
the other members. He then gave a sermon on the subject of British
Israelites. Apparently many subjects of the British Empire felt that there
was no question that the British were God's Chosen. Therefore, with
inexorable logic, they decided that the British were in fact, the Biblical
lost twelfth tribe of Israel. Unfortunately for them, the lost twelfth
tribe has been discovered in Ethiopia, still practicing Judaism as it was
practiced at the time of King Solomon, and have been repatriated to
Israel, where they are known as the "Felasha". David revealed that at
present they are being bled at blood donor stations, but the blood is
being thrown away because they are at a higher risk of HIV. Apparently
this is intended to make them feel more like they are contributing to
Daniel Jacobs opened the topic of Technological Singularities and
Future Shock with his personal interpretation of a technological
singularity based loosely on Frank Tipler's ideas of a point where a
cosmic omnipotent computer incorporating all the matter in the Universe
arises. This idea is explored in Tipler's "The Physics of
Immortality", Morovec's "Mind Children", Ed Regis' "Great Mambo Chicken
and The Transhuman Condition", Fred Pohl's "Gateway" series, and Greg
Bear's "Eon". In Dan Simmons' "Hyperion" a computer which makes
teleportation possible , borrows human brains during the brief moment
of transfer. Isaac Asimov's "Question", the multivac computer grows
through human history, until it becomes God in the process of answering
the question. In Frederic Brown's "Answer", a computer grows to
enormous size, and becomes God in the process of answering a question.
David violently disagreed with this definition of the topic, as did Ian.
However both Ian and David disagreed with each other, and David also
disagreed with himself. David defined a technological singularity as the
point where technological advance increased so rapidly that humans could
no longer cope with the influx of information. More inventions and
discoveries are made more quickly, until it is all happening at once, and
everything has been invented.
Ian mentioned a story called "Slow Tuesday Night" by R. A. Lafferty,
wherein people can have four or more intricate careers within an eight
hour period after having a mental block removed by "metasurgery". In
rebuttal, David quoted Vernor Vinge's prediction of ever increasing
returns, increasing in geometric progression of infinite steps. Graham
Stone declared that it would be a case of diminishing returns. Ignoring
this David emphasized that you couldn't have a story near the singularity
or at the singularity, because it was always an infinite number of steps
away. David emphasized this point in close to an infinite regression. Ian
then mentioned some of Vernor Vinge's stories which feature
post-Singularity humans. "Original Sin" features post-Singularity
humans evading capture by use of a tool that can cause an effect very
much like extremely bad luck.
Ian proposed a definition based on a related concept of geometrically
progressing technology and society, but with the Singularity being the
point at which human society changes so much that present-day humans
cannot imagine what they will be like. This was Ian's understanding of
what Vernor Vinge meant by the term. Cordwainer Smith's "Norstrilia"
series has humans so far changed from modern people, that we have more in
common with the animals of the time. Michael Moorcock's "Dancers at the
End of Time" features people with near omnipotence, whose emotions and
motivations are very alien to our own. In Iain M. Banks "Player of Games",
the machine intelligences are far above human intellects, and basically
have the same affection for them as humans do for their pets. In
"Brainchild" by David jay Brown, nanotechnology makes humans able to
change themselves and their environment to such a degree that the two
begin to merge. In Greg Egan's "Quarantine", humans learn to choose
between possibilities. Vernor Vinge's "A Fire Upon The Deep" has the
Galaxy layered in zones of different physical laws, which permit different
levels of intelligence. At the outermost zone, is the "Transcend" zone
where there are God-like beings. Faster-than-light travel is possible in
the "Beyond" zone, as are sentient computers, but not in the "Slowness"
which is where Earth is located. Further on into the centre of the galaxy
is the "Unthinking Depths" zone, where sentient life is impossible. An
information network very similar to the Internet's usenet is used by the
galactic civilisations to discuss a rogue "Transcend" entity called the
Blight. Roger Zelazny's "Lord of Light" and "Creatures of Light and
Darkness" features humans who have become Gods. Vernor Vinge's "True
Names" and "The Peace War" feature humans using computers as extensions of
their brains - actually thinking with the machines.
In Robert L. Forward's "Dragon's Egg" humans contact the inhabitants of
a neutron star. These practically two dimensional beings live much
faster than humans, and are more intelligent. They swiftly absorb human
knowledge and culture and progress beyond us . In Cyril M. Kornbluth's
"Marching Morons", the majority of people have no idea how the
technology they use works, and it is designed so that the Doctor's
"Little Black Bag" does ALL of the work. The meeting closed, all
members agreeing that they had enjoyed a singular experience.
On "Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty Day" the meeting
started with much table moving to accomodate the hordes that descended on
the Futurian meeting. Fame of the Futurian experience drew a record 17
people, including Kevin Dillon and some interstate visitors.
The meeting turned serious at Eric Lindsay's news that Bob Shaw had
recently died. Eric also distributed more Australia in 1999 WorldCon
fliers. Eric reported that Australian fans had made a deal with Las Vegas
fans because they still don't want the Con that Chicago say they have to
have. An offer they couldn't refuse. Eric then showed us his Australia in
1999 WorldCon Web site.
Brian Walls reported that the science fiction society that meets at
Infinitas Bookshop in Parramatta will be gathering on the first Thursday
of March at 7pm (you missed it). They are open to suggestions for names
but will turn yours down. The Ned Kelly Cr ime Fiction award details are
available at Abbey's bookshop, because Brian wasn't telling. A movie is
being made of Robert E. Howard's lifestory called "Whole Wide World". Yet
another Ed Wood documentary film "The Haunted World of Ed Wood" was shown
with "Crossroads of Loreador" at Academy Cinema on February 25th (but you
missed this one too).
Susan and Brian visited Ozcon. "Space Above and Beyond" was previewed and
comes highly recommended.
Garry reported on a documentary on White Surpremists he saw called "Blood
in the Face", which revealed that you can tell Aryans, but not much. The
documentary featured Poised Koreans.
Eric reported that world-renowned Evolutionary Dentist Richard Dawkins
will be featured at this years Skeptics convention in Melbourne, in
September. He will be accompanied by his wife Lala Ward, once Professional
Companion (nudge-wink) to Dr Who.(Don't m iss that one).
Garry cried Free Basenjis! He then distributed the literature, and
explained he had seen the results of an attack. Garry then reported that
the Sydney Tourist Authority have a Heritage Trip of a bus following
around a firetruck.
Saint Ian reported that the two Manga films Ghost in the Shell and Gunhed
had been shown at the Hoover Complex in Goulburn St (did you miss that?);
and that Reverend Peter had become a Professional RPG Convention goer.
Reverend Peter then performed the ri tual trophy passing and gloating
session. SydCon will be enjoyed over the Easter long weekend, 5,6,7 & 8th
of April. Greg Egan's story collection "Axiomatic" was highly recommended.
Greg Egan's open letter to SF fandom was read out. He requested that nobo
dy ever vote for him in the Ditmar awards. Eric mentioned that the Hugo
awards were to be voted on. The Retro-Hugos are awarded for stories
written in the years before Hugos were awarded, regardless of how
contradictary a notion that is.
St Ian reported the discovery that you can become ordained as a Minister
of Religion in a matter of minutes, in the Universal Life Church, by using
the internet. Revealing that he'd been Canonized that very day with the
words "We only wish there were more of you, a clone of about 10,000
individuals identical to you could rule the world." Pursuant to this plan
11 Futurians were ordained on the spot, and another four in absentia. The
Universal Life Church will ordain anybody that believes in freedom of reli
gion and doing what they believe is right. People with no internet access
may send postcards. The ordination is legal in the USA, where ULC
ministers may marry people. As the Universal Life Church is illegal in
Australia, it was suggested that Australian ministers could marry couples
by internet tele-presence in America, and that this might be legal in
Australia when they returned.
One of our members snorted "the most beautiful sight in the world is your
name in print", whilst passing around a copy of the Canberra SF Club Inc
newsletter and mumbling about phallic umbrellas. Reverend Ron Clarke
explained that "Mentor" readers only get sent copies of the magazine if
they contribute letters.
Reverend Eric recommended "Chicks in Chainmail" which he had recently
Reverend Sarah Murray-White explained that she was unable to get to LACon
as the Airline told her they were "too busy" to sell her a ticket, every
time she called them.
Reverend Peter opened the topic by passing around his centuhedral die, and
a couple of pool balls for no apparent reason. In reply to reverend Ron's
request for an explanation of the topic, he illustrated the Breakdown of
Probability with the example from Red Dwarf, where sick people get lucky.
"All the Myriad Ways" by Larry Niven, in which people with imaginations
"The Number of the Beast" by Robert Heinlein featured monkeys with horns
that broke down probability after losing gyroscopes.
"Patterns of Chaos" by Colin Kapp featured causality reversals about a
"Foundation" by Isaac Asimov featured a future science that predicted mass
human behaviour perfectly, until upset by an intelligent mule.
In "Snowball Effect" probably by William Tenn, sociologists create a
The Church of the SunGenius preaches of the Infinite Luck Plane.
One of our members interrupted the meeting pointing and shouting "Look a
U.F.O.". Reverend Peter corrected him "AN U.F.O." Everyone looked out the
windows at the 16th floor view, and when asked if the UFO was near the
crane light, the member was forced to admit that it WAS the crane light on
a nearby building. It was thus established that the so-called "UFO" was
neither an U., nor an F., but definitely an O.
Reverend Ron returned us to the topic by mentioning "The Hitch-hiker's
Guide to the Galaxy" featured an Infinite Improbability Drive based on the
Brownian motion in a goood cup of tea.
"WellWorld" series has a character who is unconsciously God, and thus the
Universe conspires to help him.
David Brin's "Practice Effect" features a Universe where tools get better
when you practice with them, but humans still wear out.
Phillip K. Dick's "Solar Lottery", "Gameplayers of Titan", "Variable Man",
"Counter-Clock World" and many of his other stories feature a Universe
where probability breaks down.
Mary Gentle's "Rats and Gargoyles" has a University of Crime, where
academics cheat at Tarot to manipulate the Universe.
A E Van Vogt's "Weapon Shops of Isher" has a character who gains a
"Calidetic" talent in a Casino and wins all the games.
In the "Dune" series by Frank Herbert, Seers try to choose between the
futures they see.
Daniel Keyes Moran's "Armageddon Blues" features a character who is
ignored by the law of Entropy in convenient ways.
The "Ringworld" series by Larry Niven has the Human genome distorted by
"The Endochronic Properties of Resublimated Thiotimoline", and
"Thiotimoline to the Stars" by Isaac Asimov describe a substance that
dissolves BEFORE you add water to it.
Greg Egan's "Quarantine" featured humans who bend probability by choosing
Peter Hamilton's "MindStar Rising" featured a precog who narrows down
suspects by viewing alternative futures.
Keith Laumer's "World Shuffler" series features a character who slips the
restraints of those who would stop him manipulating reality by fighting
back with garlic sausage.
Steve Perry's "Hellstar" features fundamental changes to reality
increasing as a starship travels further away from Earth.
Tim Powers "Last Call" combines Tarot card manipulation of probability
nexuses by a Fisher Jack.
Mike Resnick's "Prophet" is about a Precog who selects her desired future
by not spilling a drink.
Luke Rhinehart in "Diceman" features a group who make all decisions on the
roll of dice.
And finally, Leo P. Kelly in "Coins of Murph" has a post-apocalypse society
that decides everything on the tosss of a coin, naturally the leaders have
Topic: Rebels and Revolutionaries in science fiction
One of our members explained that the Crusaders were repelled by sheep.
Apparently an entire castle was manned by sheep, fooling the Crusading
knights into a prolonged siege. Wayne Turner reported his WA trip to
SwanCon. Among the SwanCon special guests were Terry Dowling, Neil
Gainman, Jack Dann and Storm Constantine. Garry Dalrymple reminded
everyone that Star Trek Voyager was starting to be screened.
There.was.great.enthusiasm. Sliders was also coming to our screens that
very night, nobody had remembered to tape it. Bugs was also starting.
Brian Walls reported that TV series based on a toned down Mad Max was in
the works, so look out for Mild Max. Babe of course was the toned down
version of Razorback. Manga animation "Ghost In the Shell" was showing at
the Mandolin theatre and the Valhalla Cinema. Aliens 4, starring Wynona
Ryder and a clone of the late Ripley is also in the works, and will
hopefully stay there. Strange Days had started the night before and was
highly recommended. A feature of the movie is millennial celebrations
being held a year early on December 31st 1999, the writers apparently
missed this point. Brian mentioned that the technical term for Russian
scientists entering Chernobyl for pre-retirement study, is "stalkers"
taken from the Strugatsky novel "Roadside Picnic", released as the movie
"Stalker". However as most scientists read science fiction, this is not
Ian then proceeded to some scientific tidbits culled from New
Scientist magazine. The painkiller ibuprofen, found in such
over-the-counter drugs as Nurofen, and Naprosyn has shown an ability to
help prevent Alzheimers disease and is useful in treating the
illness. Unfortunately it has such drastic effects on the stomach with
long-term use that it is unusable.Rock-eating bacteria with no reliance on
sunlight have been discovered living happily 1000 metres below the Earth's
surface in conditions similar to Mars. This means that either similar
organisms may be discovered on Mars, or failing that, that these bacteria
could be introduced in a terraforming effort. The sub-surface
lithoautotrophic microbial ecosystem is known as SLIME for short. They
subsist on hydrogen generated in a reaction between water and ferrous
silicates. NASA is preparing to protect itself from lawsuits from
green-exploiting anti-technology eco-luddites for its upcoming Martian
missions. They are carefully getting lawyers to scrutinize their two dozen
failsafe quarantine systems for bringing Martian soil back to Earth for
study. Earth First representatives are believed to be carefully holding
several meteorites for questioning. Star Trek tricorder-style scanners
have been developed to detect jaundice in babies so that they can be
properly treated with the conventional blue and green lights. Against
traditional wisdom, it has been discovered that human nerve cells can be
induced to regrow after damage. Statistically, people who drink co ffee
have a lower suicide rate. A new no-risk treatment for short-sightedness
is to mould the eyes into the required shape instead of putting lenses in
front of them or cutting them with blades or lasers. New nappy linings
made from sugary hydrogel can hold more than 1 litre of urine.
The politically-correct self-censoring Internet software service
"Surfwatch" banned the entire Whitehouse domain due to the evil actions
of the Clinton's cat Sox on his Web page. The web page contained the
naughty word "coup les", so it was banned, as is this article. This
same action of banning material based on automatic keyword searching
has led to America Online pulling the plug from the International
Breast Cancer Support group discussions. Clinton's staff called the Sur
fwatch company and the Whitehouse was given a special exemption from
the consequences of Sox's crime. This appears more than hypocritical in
light of Clinton's recent Communication Decency Act. The Easter Long
Weekend saw the SydCon roleplaying game convention. Peter and Ian
co-wrote and co-ran a comedy troll freeform game, and won trophies for
another game. The UNSW Unisearch House second-hand booksale was on the
following weekend [yes you missed it, and its only on every two years].
Ian produced his certificate of Sainthood from the Universal Life
Church. Peter's was in the mail.
Having learned his lesson from previous meetings, Peter opened the topic
of Rebels and Revolutionaries in science fiction with the observation that
Steve Perry's Matador series is the thinking man's Star Wars. Whereas the
rebels in Star Wars relied on mys tical powers and a magic knife to win
when the badly formed plans failed completely; the revolutionaries in the
Matador series rely on skill and detailed plans that work. Peter then
continued his list of appropriate titles. Lloyd Biggle Jnr's "The Still
Small Voice of Trumpets" and "The World-Menders" both have a Galactic
Government agency set up to foment revolutions that end in democracy, but
which have a strict code of secret subtlety, because "DEMOCRACY IMPOSED
FROM WITHOUT IS THE SEVEREST FORM OF TYRANNY". F.N. Busby's Tregare
series has a rebellion against a tyrannical Earth-based government. C.J.
Cherryh's Alliance-Union-Cyteen series involves a civil war between the
tyrannical Earth-based government and the rebels over hundreds of years
and sever al worlds. Robert Frezza's "Small Colonial War" involves rebels
fighting a Japanese-culture Earth-based tyrannical government, where the
government troops choose to side with the rebels. Simon Green's
"Deathstalker" has a miltary hero leading a rebellion against his Empress'
Earth-based tyrannical government. Frank Herbert's "Dune" concerns the
drug-based rebellion against the Galactic Imperial tyrannical Earth-based
government. Elron Hubbard's "Battlefield Earth" features humans rebelling
against an alie n tyrannical Earth government. Michael Moorcock's
Runestaff series is about a hero who fights an evil tyrannical Earth
government despite his headaches. "Fallen Angels" by Jerry Pournelle,
Michael Flynn and Larry Niven features organised science fiction f ans
rebelling against an evil green-exploiting anti-technology eco-luddites
American-based tyrannical government. Voerman's "Weird Colonial Boy"
rebels against a British-based tyrannical government by being silly. Brian
reminded us that Star Wars had rebels, too. And so did Total Recall,
Johnny Mnemonic, and Logan's Run.
Ian brought out his list. Earth, by David Brin features physicists
rebelling against United Nations restrictions to bottled black hole
research. Kurt Vonnegut's "Player Piano" has people rebelling against an
automated tyrannical Earth-based government. "L ord of Light" by Roger
Zelazny has people rebelling against a tyrannical Hindu-based government.
"Software" by Rudy Rucker is about Lunar robots that rebel against a
tyrannical Earth-based government. "A Gift from Earth" by Larry Niven is
about colonists who rebel against a tyrannical organ-transplant based
government. "Footfall" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle is about science
fiction writers rebelling against an alien tyrannical Earth-based
government. "The Space Merchants" by Cyril Kornbluth and Fre derick Pohl
is about a rebellion against a tyrannical advertising agency government
based on Earth. "Bio of a Space Tyrant" by Piers Anthony is about someone
who rebels against a democracy and sets up a Jupiter based tyrannical
government. Garry explained that Piers Anthony has owned a Basenjis.
Garry raised Sterling and Gibson's "The Difference Engine", which featured
the computer revolution arising simultaneously with the steam revolution.
Cyril Kornbluth's "Syndic" features rebels against the Mafia-based
tyrannical American rulers, without any help from the unelected US
government-in-exile. The "Alien Nation" novel, "Day of the Descent" by
Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens is about alien rebels seeking refuge in
an Earth-based government. During the gravitational recession that we had
to have, Barrington Bayley's "Zen Gun" features a colonia l girl rebelling
against an Earth-based tyrannical cosmic pig empire utilizing "the
absolutely ultimate weapon that can never exist". "The Weapon Shops of
Isher" and "The Weapon Makers" by A. E. Van Vogt has magic weapon shops
selling extremely automatic weapons and pushing people to revolt against
the tyrannical Earth-based government with the slogan "THE RIGHT TO BEAR
WEAPONS IS THE RIGHT TO BE FREE"; only in America. Nineteen Eighty-Four by
George Orwell is a light romp through an Earth-based tyrannica l
government by one of its rebels. The TV series "V" featured rebellion
against Lizard Nazi tyrannical Earth-based government.
Wayne Turner told us about Phillip Jose Farmer's Dayworld series, and
its rebellion against a tyrannical Earth government, and his Riverworld
series which involved a rebellion against a tyrannical Riverworld-based
government. Kevin Dillon raised Robert Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh
Mistress". This is about Lunar revolution against a tyrannical
Earth-based government. Heinlein's "Beyond This Horizon" features a
super-rebel against a Eugenic Earth-based tyrannical government. His
"Sixth Column" or "The Day after Tomorrow" features a Reverend-led
rebellion against Han Chinese tyrannical Earth-based government. Kim
Stanley Robinson's Mars series features 21st Century Martians rebelling
against an Earth-based tyrannical governmen t. In Armageddon 2419 by
Phillip Francis Nowlan, Buck Rogers rebels against the Han Chinese
tyrannical Earth-based government. In John Varly's "Ophiuchi Hotline"
human rebels survive alien invasion and a tyrannical Earth-based
government by use of the ultimate galactic 0055 number.
Topic: Criminals and Evil Geniuses
Brian Walls admitted to being one of the selfish bastards who waited 3
hours for the celebrities to show up outside Planet Hollywood and thus
completely blocked access to George St to legitimate pedestrians. By 4pm
Sunday afternoon, people were close to rioting from the crowding, and the
fact that they could enter the crowd in the direction they wished to
travel, but were prevented from moving once they were trapped within the
crowd. People trapped in the centre of the crowd were observed to be
having anxiety attacks from fears of being crushed and trampled. Only a
pedestrian versed in collapsing eigenstates and higher geometries was
capable of traversing the distance against the will of the fans.
[The crowding fans and organisers were the criminals, and I, the
pedestrian, was the Evil Genius - Ian [A likely excuse to be late for a
pool game - Peter]]
Brian reported that Variety magazine had information about the special 3-D
remake of 15 minutes of the movie Terminator-2. A new movie "Escape from
LA" is being planned as the sequel to "Escape from New York", no doubt to
be followed by "Escape from America" in time. A movie to be called "Men In
Black" is in production, but we're not allowed to say anything further.
Yet another Roswell movie may have prompted this move.
Graeme Stone once again lamented that we never show up to his Southern
"group". He also reported that he had been interviewed on radio about his
nonexistent connections to Elron Hubbard.
Eric Lindsay reported that Harlan Ellison had suffered a heart attack and
David Bofinger related the story from a novel related by a friend, of an
Evil Genius who would regularly pick up people in bars, take them home,
scramble their brains with a fine platinum wire, then return them to the
bar; as a lark.
"The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson was
raised by Brian as an example of an Evil Genius in science fiction. Fu
Manchu was never caught in the Fu Manchu series by Sax Rohmer. Professor
Moriarty from the "Sherlock Holmes" series of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has
been used in may science fiction stories as Genius hero and villain. One
view holds that Moriarty was based on a blend of Nietzche and Freud.
Moriarty also found his way into the BBC Goon Show. Brian then propounded
on apparent similarities between the Unabomber in the USA and Professor
Moriarty - they were both Mathematics Professors.
James Bond stories seem to always feature a criminal who believes he is an
The "Skylark" series of books by E.E. 'Doc' Smith featured an Evil Genius
called Blackie DuQuesne.
D. Wingrove's "Chung Kuo" series features an Evil Genius subtley called
Frank Herbert's "The Dosadi Experiment" featured a Governmental "Bureau of
Sabotage", sanctioned to commit crimes.
Rudy Rucker's "Software" series features robots who kidnap people, and
finely dice their brains to extract the structure and then reproduce their
minds in mainframes.
Larry Niven's "World of Ptavvs" features a criminal with the power of
telepathic hynosis. In "Protector", a race of genocidal parents look out
for their young.
H.P. Lovecraft's stories soley concerned Evil Geniuses learning Things Man
Was Not Meant to Capitalise, er Know.
The TV series "X-Files" regularly features criminals and Evil Geniuses.
Richard Condon wrote "The Manchurian Candidate", wherein an innocent
bystander is programmed to perform a political assassination on facing a
Stephen Bury wrote "Interface", about a worldwide conspiracy that uses a
brain prosthetic to control a presdential candidate.
"The Syndic" by Cyril Kornbluth is about an Ameria ruled by Organised
"The Demlished Man" by Alfred Bester, features an attempt at a "perfect
crime" in a world policed by telepaths.
George Alec Effinger's "Marid Audran" series features a detective working
for a criminal organisation, who fights crime by other criminals.
"The Stanless Steel Rat" series by Harry Harrison is about a master
criminal who fights Evil Geniuses.
Neal Stephenson's Zodiac is about a crusading Eco-guerilla who committs
crimes to stop Crimes Against Humanity by evil coporations.
The "Illumnatus!" trilogy by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea features
an embarrasment of riches. More Evil Geniuses and criminals than you can
poke a stick at, if that's your idea of a good time.
Graham Stone opened the meeting by announcing that "homosexual SF has
arrived". He explained that he has searched UTS library for a book he
wanted by using the keywords "Gay Mens Press", to be told that the
volume was "not available at present", which were instantly translated
by his friendly librarian into "some bastard has nicked them".
Peter announced that the Phenomenon Role Playing Convention would be
taking place in Queenbeyan from Friday 12th July, to Sunday 14th July
[yep missed it again]. The boring sod had no further news.
Eric Lindsey reported that the WorldCon in Melbourne Australia for 1999
bid is progressing well. It costs A$40 for an Los Angeles Worldcon
membership, plus a$50 support fee before you can be eligible to vote
for the location of the WorldCon in 1999. However, having voted, you
will get discount tickets to the Con when it happens; if the bid is
successful you'll save heaps on air tickets. Eric estimated that the
Wolrdcon in Melbourne will need space for at least 2000 people for
events such as the Hugo awards and the Masquerade.
Mark Phillips [no relation], reported that "Terminal Experiment" by
Robert J Sawyer won the Nebula award this year.
Glayne Louise reported that the new film Independence Day will be
released in August, and that it had terrific special effects.
Garry Dalrymple warned us that the Pathways Predictions Psychic Pfair
might be on in the future. Or not.
Ian reported that in the Freakazoids cartoon aired that week, a
character called "Fanboy" is offered his own Harlan Ellison, which he
rejected. The cartoon Harlan Ellison then wandered off into the
convention looking confused. The real Harlan Ellison has suffered a
heart attack and was in hospital recovering. Ellison asked that fans do
not send flowers. Many reported this fact with an address not to send
them to. Bryan Dart in Melbourne has put out a call for actors in the
SF community for his new SF series. The Mechanical Engineering degree
at UTS requires students to study some compulsory humanities electives.
One of the subjects offered is Science Fiction. The course actually
teaches students to write a Science Fiction short story. Arnold
Schwartzenegger's new movie Eraser, has had to be digitally re-edited
at the last moment. The producers didn't check whether the fictional
evil corporation's name was in fact in current use by a real computer
corporation. It is. Cyrix weren't very happy. The new version will be
Ron Clarke started discussion of the topic by asking the question "did
Arnie's disguising himself as a woman in "Total Recall" count as
cross-dressing?" Peter quickly pointed out that this scene fitted the
Peter continued with the observation that the Simon Hawke "Time Wars"
series, one of the central characters "Andre La Croix" disguised
herself as a male knight. Female characters disguising themselves as
males is a very common theme in Science Fiction, and of course was a
favourite of Shakespeare. Ian observed that in modern Western society
women can dress as men without being thought to be cross-dressing,
wheeras men in the same situation are transvestites.
Graham Stone admitted to secret cross-dressing and to being part of the
nylon raincoat brigade. Graham explained that he felt compelled to add
fake press studs to his woman's raincoat so that it appeared to
function as male dress. He informed us that Robert Heinlein's "Year of
the Jackpot" featured compulsive undressing in public while waiting for
a bus. The story "The Lost Race" written in 1941 [Graham HAS read
something written after 1939!!], features humans disguised as giant
spiders to fool aliens.
Eric was reminded of "Gold The Man" by Joseph Green, in which a man
hides in a control room in a Giant's skull in order to infiltrate.
Peter commented that in Keith Laumer's "Retief" series, entities hiding
in zombies was a common theme. A. E Van Vogt's "Slan" series featured
a cephalopodic featured telepath disguised as a mere human. [The
horror, the horror...Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft was discussed
sometime during the meeting by Glayne according to our surviving notes,
but nothing has been permitted to be recalled]. Robert Heinlein's "The
Moon is a Harsh Mistress" featured a sentient computer called "Mike"
who disguised himself as a human by putting out video signals and
always communicationg by video phone.
Peter said that "Who Goes There?" by Joseph Campbell featured a
shapeshifter, as did many other science fiction stories. Phillip K.
Dick's "Handful of Darkness" is about an alien world where nearly all
lifeforms are shapeshifters. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is almost
science fiction that featured cross-dressing that was not a disguise.
All Peter's other examples were supressed in the name of good taste.
Mark mentioned Zenna Henderson's "The People" series as an example of
aliens disguised as humans.
Garry mentioned "Ensign Flandry" by Poul Anderson, which features a
lizard-like spy who is so mutilated in an accident that the surgeons
are able to make him pass for human.
Graham Stone ended the discussion by noting that Algis Budrys' "Who?"
fits the topic, as a man with mask.
Grahame Stone started the meeting by dictating what can never be
written about in science fiction. "Perhaps I'm not politically correct,
BUT...there should be a moratorium on this topic for fifty years...".
He then related a story about women warring with men, he didn't like
the book, and can't remember the author or title, and we have no idea
why he chose to share this with us.
Leigh Blackmore reported that Michael Moorcock did not visit Dymoks
bookshop this year. Glayne Louise has seen a sneak preview of
"Independence Day" and spoiled the movie for everyone by telling us
that the alien spaceships are IBM compatible and cable ready, everybody
including the aliens drink Coke (tm) and the butler did it. The special
effects were so good that apparently even the fire looked real.
"Independence Day" grossed US$87 million in its first week of US
release. There will be 11 science fiction movies released in Australia
in the next 12 months promised Glayne.
For some reason Iain Triffit ventured the opinion that "Stargate" was
intended to justify the Gulf War. He announced that Arthur C. Clarke
will be releasing "3010 AD" the fourth book of the novel of the movie
of the short story.
Cat Sparks reported that she was shy. Nobody believed this.
Peter Spicer explained that he works in a radio program on 2SER 107.3
FM called "Future Shock" aired some Thursdays between 12pm and 1pm.
Peter Eisler related that he attended the Phenomenon Role Playing
Convention the previous weekend. Margaret Weiss author of books, was
Guest of Honor at the convention. Peter then reported on the Rocky
Horror Picture Show twenty-first anniversary Bobby Goldsmith Foundation
Charity event. First the traditional audience-participation version of
the movie was screened at Hoyts, then the guests moved across the road
to the new Planet Hollywood for the remainder of the evening.
Mark Phillips plainively begged our attention to inform us that "Babylon
5" had finished its season on Sydney TV. Thanks Mark.
Ian reported that the "UK TV" station on Foxtel cable TV will be
carrying the "Doctor Who" and "The Goodies" series from August 1996. A
live Hong Kong version of the Japanese Anime "Wicked City" would be
airing on SBS that weekend. A web site devoted to Australian author
Greg Egan had been discovered in Switzerland, which for no known reason
has a country designation of CH on the internet. Ian mentioned that he
had been interviewed by Peter Spicer the previous day on 2SER. A
report in New Scientist revealed that once again, billions would be
made from basic research, with none of the money going to the
researchers. In the 1970's a biologist published his study of lobster's
eyes in a scientific journal. The research was done purely out of
curiosity. An astronomer read the paper about the fact that lobster
eyes use mirrors instead of lenses to focus light. They have narrow
mirror-lined tubes as focussing devices. The astronomer thought that he
could use this principle to focus x-rays to make an x-ray telescope.
Again, he did this purely out of a desire for knowledge. After several
years of development, his team created the materials necessary to focus
finely collimated beams of x-rays and built their telescope and made
astronomical discoveries. Now indutrialists have seized on the
technique as a method for focussing x-rays into fine beams that can
etch extremely tinier circuits into microchips than is possible with
present techniques. This will become a billion dollar industry with
smaller and faster devices. There is no plan for any of this money to
go back to either biology or astronomy.
Victor Kay revealed that he had attended as a result of the 2SER
The topic of "Games in Science Fiction" was opened by Ron Clarke's
list, consisting of "The Players of Null-A" by A. E. Van Vogt in which
non-Aristotelian game-players compete for government, and "Squares of
the City" by John Brunner which was not discussed by agreement as the
game-reference gives away the punch-line. But thanks for playing Ron,
you've been a great sport.
Mark Phillips lept in with John Crowley's "The Deep". Mark explained
that he is sure the novel has chess in it, but admitted that he hasn't
actually read the book.
In Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Chessmen of Mars", the real hero is played as
a chess piece.
Leigh extended the chess theme with Henry Kuttner's "Chessboard Planet", in
which people on a planet play chess.
Cat added "Welcome to the Monkey House" by Kurt Vonnegot, in which the
hero plays chess with real people for pieces.
Peter Eisler then unfurled his chess list. Poul Anderson's "Circus of
Hells", in which Flandry plays chess with a big computer. Roger
Zelazy's "Unicorn Variations", in which a man plays chess with a
Unicorn, the stakes being the fate of humanity. Peter then raised his
favourite TV show, "Star Trek: The Next Generation", where, despite a
complete lack of pockets, the crew regularly manage to play
three-dimensional chess games.
Leigh reported that Terry Dowling's books involve something called "Firechess",
but he chose not to elaborate
Iain Triffit reported that some of Harlan Ellison's books involve
telepaths playing chess with suicidally sharp chess pieces.
Graham mentioned "Gentlemen be seated" by Robert Heinlein, which
involves real men on the moon playing imaginary chess.
"Carrion Comfort" by Dan Simmons features chess-playing with real
Glayne reminded us that Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass" has
heavy chess motifs. As a result of her sad TV upbringing Glayne was
able to reminisce that Wonder Woman had to win her magical artifacts
through a series of not-chess games.
Piers Anthony's "Split Infinity" series featured a world of competitive
games integral to the social structure.
"The Manchurian Candidate" features murder by solitare.
There is now a computer game based on Haran Ellison's "I have No Mouth
But I must Scream". The object of the game is successful suicide.
The "Glass bead game" by Hesse, is about a game with glass beads.
John Brunner's "Shockwave Rider" features a Robin
Hood-style competition to smoke out an escaped wily supergenius. He
Stepehen King's "The Running Man", features death by gameshow.
William Harrison's"Rollerball" (a poor rip-off of The Goodies classic
"RollerEgg"), in features death by football game.
Peter's pool references began. Isaac Asimov's "The Billiard Ball",
involving a fatal game of billiards. Red Dwarf (Grant Naylor) had a
planetary pool shot involving a white hole. "The Hitchhiker's Guide to
the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams has a reference to a planet being potted
into a black hole in a game of intergalactic bar billiards. In the
Doctor Who episode "Pyramids of Mars", to get past the robotic mummies,
the Doctor must solve many puzzles and riddles.
"The Gameplayers of Titan" by Phillip K. Dick, features the people of
Earth play swinging card games for sex. "Only You Can Save mankind" by
Terry Pratchett features computer games with real aliens. "Better Than
Life" by Grant Naylor is about a computer game based on your dearest
fantasies designed to be so subtle you forget its a game. "Virtuosity"
features a computer game that escapes.
Fritz Leiber's "Big Time", in which the different sides of the War
extend their dogma to the types of games they are willing to play.
"Roll Them Bones" by Ra A Lafferty has a gambler dicing with the devil.
Disney's "Tron" takes place inside a computer game during the movie and
was ruthlessly exploited as a computer game after the movie was
released. "War Games" also features a computer who's reality check
bounces. Fred Saberhagen's "Octagon" features a play-by-mail computer
who's reality check bounces. Andrew Greely's "God Game" features a
ganme-playing priest who's reality check gets cashed.
"Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card features training war games.
Mark tried to push Julian May's "Saga of the Exiles", Metapsychic
Olympics as a game.
"Deathrace 2000" features a motorist's dream where the object of the
game is to kill as many pedestrians as possible.
Phillip K. Dick's "Return Match" has an alien pinball machine that
Michael Moorcock's "Blood", in which the aristocrats of society are
John Christopher's "City of Golden Lead" and "Tripods" TV series
featured games in which the winner gets stuffed.
Robert Heinlein's "Beyond This Horizon" has football recreated in the
future by a time-travellor from the twentieth century.
"Sandkings" by George RR Martin features chess with real sandkings.
"Hoka!" series by Poul Anderson and Gordon Dickson features Role
"The Prisoner" TV series featured chess with live people.
"Gladiator at Law" by Fred Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth has legal disputes
settled in violent games.
"Ambient" by Jack Womack features corporate takeovers settled by
Garry Dalrymple couldn't remember the title or author but the story was
about giant carnivorous tapeworms in gladiator fights for nice houses.
[If you've read this far you deserve this one]
"The Seventh Seal" has the hero playing chess against Death.
"Bill and Ted's Bogus Adventure" features the heroes playing Battleship,
Twister and Cluedo against Death.
"Cold Cash War" by Robert Aspirin features a corporate cold war with
"Dream park" series by Larry Niven and Stephen Barnes is about a
virtual reality role playing theme park.
"Last Call" by Tim Powers features cosmic poker games.
Robert Sheckley's "Tenth Victim" is about an assassination game.
Sherri S. Tepper's "True Game" features board games with real psychic
Graham told us that the heroes in Heinlein's "Farnham's Freehold" sell
the game of bridge to people in a post-holcaust future. Hey, you wanna
buy bridge, really cheap??
Undercover print journalist X visited the meeting, and
unlike us, took extensive notes. Thus you really should be
reading her article, not this one.
Entertainment Tonight showed scenes from the work in progress of
the new movie "Starship Troopers", based loosely on the novel of
the same name by Robert Heinlein. The Amway corporation is
now rumoured to own more than 50% of the Republican party.
Ian fielded questions while sneaking looks at a nearby copy
of New Scientist. Life on Mars has been promised by NASA
media flacks after meteorites dug up from ice sheets in
Antarctica showed convincing indications of having been
chipped off a nearby rocky planet with a carbon dioxide
atmosphere, and maybe having some arguable signs of
microscopic fossils. This announcement has been very
convenient to the Clinton USA presidential election
campaign, and very useful to NASA's ailing budget. Not
mentioned in any of the media circus surrounding the
announcement, are references to the fact that the Viking
martian lander twenty years ago got a positive result to all
three of its tests for life. However, as there was no
election, and the geological test was negative for
graveyards, so the return trip was delayed until the Clinton
campaign. There was more evidence and reason for a return
trip from the Viking results than are apparent from these
meteorites. Several members also expressed reservations
about the emphasis on finding life, and what would happen to
the space program if life is not found on Mars after all.
With all the hype, it may just kill the space program, until
the next opportunistic politician. Having discovered
micro-organisms on Mars, one has to wonder if they would
then send in the marines to warn them against throwing any
further rocks at our planet. The USA must show everyone that
their police presence cannot be ignored anywhere. Perhaps
Martians are being set up to be the next villains after
Iraqi oil is safely owned by the USA. Oh well, the rocks are
very old, they come from another planet, they just might
have the remains of some sort of micro-organism. So after
the next Mars mission, we might be able to feel that we
share the universe with tiny bugs, and Fred Hoyle gets to
say "I told you so!".
Jupiter's moon Io has been observed by Galileo to have a
massively powerful electron beam death ray flowing from its
surface to Jupiter. A new solar cycle has started, which
will upset your radio reception and give you lousy weather.
A new treatment for organic depression involves the
application of very powerful magnetic fields to the brain.
New Scientist also announced that the repair of spinal cord
injuries will be happening real soon now. Herpes sufferers
will be glad to hear that ordinary tea is an effective cure
if applied to the skin. People from all over the world have
since written praises to New Scientist for revealing this
simple cure. An ethical committee has given the go ahead for
NASA to send monkeys into space for new experiments, as they
promise to bring them back this time. Several comments were made
about the well-known fact that they all came back
super-intelligent in all the previous trips.
John Baxter has written an unauthorised biography of Stephen
Spielberg in which he claims Spielberg reads only comics.
Brian Walls reported on the Locus awards. Best novel was won
by "The Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson. Best novella
was "Remake" by Connie Willis. Best Fantasy novel was "Alvin
Journeyman" by Orson Scott Card. Best dark fantasy/horror was
"Expiration date" by Tim Powers. Best Artist was Michael
"The Forever Knight" is sometimes seen Fridays at 4am on channel Ten.
The illustrious Reverend Ron Clarke Esq. was interviewed on ABC
Regional Radio about the announced discovery of possible
Life On Mars.
The topic for the meeting was corporations in science
The "Foundation" series by Isaac Asimov featured merchant
princes as the centre of spreading civilisation after the
collapse of Galactic society, predictably.
Poul Anderson's "Polesotechnic League" series featured merchant
princes who spread civilisation throughout the galaxy, after
the collapse of the previous Galactic society.
Larry Niven's "Known Space" series features alien Puppeteer
merchant princes who spread civilsation throughout the
"Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson has a future North America
ruled entirely by giant corporations.
"The Space Merchants" By Frederkik Pohl and Cyril KOrnbluth
is about a future North America ruled entirely by evil giant
"High Justice" by Jerry Pournelle is about a future where
giant corporations become more important than governments
and take better care of the environment and the citizens of
The movie "Terminator" is about a future North America
destroyed by evil giant corporations, and really bad time
"Gladiator at Law" by Frederik Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth is
about a future North America ruled by giant corporations who
settle their disputes by bloodsports.
"The Jagged Orbit" by John Brunner is about a future North
America dominated by giant arms dealing corporations.
"Vickers" or "Corpse" by Mick Farren is about a future North
America run by giant corporations who use hitmen to settle
"The Cold Cash War" by Robert Asprin is about a future North
America rulled by giant corporations who settle their
disputes through pretend hitmen.
"The Investors" by Bruce Sterling is about an alien race
of merchant princes. They trade with
humans and other races. Every race they trade with learns
about the ultimate nature of reality and transcends to
godhood. The aliens avoid this horrible fate by cultivating
greed, shallowness and banality.
Star Trek has similar racial stereotypes called "Ferengi".
The "Max Headroom" TV series was about a future North
America ruled by giant TV corporations with no control over
rogue viral reporters.
The movie "Bladerunner" based on "Do Androids dream of
electric sheep?" by Phillip K. Dick is about a future
controlled by giant corporations who manufacture superior
humans as slave stock and are surprized when they object.
"Robocop" is about a future North America controlled by
"Heavy Time" by C. J. Cherryh is about asteroid belt mining
colonies controlled by giant corporations. No paper is
allowed because it might be used for subversive posters.
Toilet paper is manufactured with enzymes to break down
quickly so it cannot be used for notepaper pulp. Education
has all cultural elements stripped out.
The "Alien" movies were about a giant corporation who wanted
to bring back dangerous organisms but failed.
Andre Norton's "Far Traders" series featured giant
spacegoing corporations persecuting the small independent
"Oath of Fealty" by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven is about
a giant building, an "arcology" owned by a corporation that
gives its residents accomadation, shops, parks, and all the
features a community needs. When attacked by terrorists,
they use the motto "think of it as evolution in action".
"Islands in the Net" by Bruce Sterling has a future world
where the worst criminals are pirate corporations which
steal and sell technology and information.
"Distress" by Greg Egan features a peace-loving pirate anarchist
nation harrassed by giant international corporations.
"Analogue Men" by Damon Knight features a future ruled by
giant corporations who control their populations by brain-implanted
"guardian angels" who make sure the citizens do things the
"Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson features a world divided
into clan-style corpoorations instead of nations.
"Search The Sky" by Frederick Pohl features corporations
sending their hero to save the human race from extinction.
"Tiger Tiger" or "The Stars My Destination" by Alfred
Bester, features future aristocrats who have derived from
corporate empires based on present big name products, and
who chose not to teleport because it is a vulgar way to
"Zodiac" by Neal Stephenson features a rogue chemist
fighting evil corporations who pollute for profit.
"Little Fuzzy" by H. Beam Piper is about evil corporations
exploiting cute fuzzy little aliens.
"Stark" by Ben Elton has evil corporations realizing they
have poisoned the Earth and thus devising an escape plan.
"Battlefield Earth" by L. Ron. Hubbard is about an evil alien
corporation strip-mining the Earth.
"Schoolgirls in science fiction" was disapproved of by the
Political Correction Police, so next meeting's topic will be
"Non-gender specific students in science fiction".
Eric Lindsay announced that the bid for the 1999 World Science Fiction
Convention - WorldCon to be held in Australia has been won. George Turner is
a possible guest of honour. The longer you wait to get a ticket, the higher
the price you pay when you realize that you must attend.
David Boffinger admitted that despite his doctorate he knows nothing. Brian
Walls drew people's attention to the new "Australian Review of Books".
"Mystery Science Theatre 3000" is showing at the Valhalla in Glebe and is
highly recommended. Garry Dalrymple informed the meeting that there would be
a Dr Who Convention in Melbourne the next day. Mark Phillips has finally
caught up and seen the movie "Ed Wood". He recommends that anyone who hasn't
seen it should remedy the situation. Kevin Dillon reports that President
Clinton has committed to have a robot on Mars by 2000, when no doubt, "no
child shall live in poverty, aaaaaaaahhhh". It was pointed out that this
promise is meaningless because there is ALREADY a robot on Mars from 20 years
Garry, inspired by the Sydney Observatory brochures, proposed a fold out card
promoting the Sydney Futurians. Funding for this was left as an exercise for
the members. The Sydney Observatory ceased being a real working observatory
when the Sydney Council decided to turn on all the lights on the Sydney
Harbour Bridge, thusmaking it impossible to see much of the sky. The Sydney
Observatory was over 100 years old as a functioning observatory, but now its
a sad museum.
The topic of Non-gender-specific Students in Science Fiction was naturally
opened by Peter speaking about Anime.
Project Ako - two schoolgirls battle it out for the love of another
schoolgirl. The battle involves extraterrestrials and a Gazebo.
Sailor Moon is about 14-year old sailor-suited superheroines destined to save
the world from the evil Negaverse.
3x3 eyes - a schoolboy has his soul captured by a suicidal Three-Eyed
Vampire Princess Miyu - a vampiric schoolgirl destroys Elder Gods.
All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku - an android schoolgirl with the
brain of a cat destroys cities while having fun.
Tenchi Muyo - a schoolboy saves the Earth because he is secretly of a
Galactic Royal family.
F.M.Busby - Star rebel series. A student of the Earth-based Starfleet Academy
rebels against the Evil Earth Empire.
Orson Scott Card - "Ender's Game", a student saves Humanity. [Any further
information would be a spoiler.]
H.P. Lovecraft wrote may stories where students died as a result of learning
Things Too Terrible To Know [in the Biblical sense].
The Matador series by Steve Perry features a bodyguard school that breaks an
"Only You Can Save Mankind" by Terry Pratchett is the flip side of "Ender's
Game", only different.
James Schmitz's "The Witches of Karres" is about the adventures of a group of
schoolgirls and their reluctant boyfriend. The Telzey series is about a
psychic schoolgirl secret agent's adventures in the Galaxy.
Kevin J. Anderson's Star wars - The Jedi Academy series features Jedi
Star Trek - Starfleet academy stories
Harry Harrison's "A Stainless Steel Rat Is Born" starts with Jim DiGriz as a
student of Crime. "Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers" is about a pair of
college lads, their girlfriend and the school janitor go into space for a
Zena Henderson's The People series has many stories about psychic student
aliens on Earth.
Roger Zelazny's "Doorways In The Sand" is about the Galactic adventures a
Robert Heinlein's "The Menace from Earth" is about a jealous schoolgirl on
the Moon. "Tunnel in the sky" is about teenage planetary colonists. "Red
Planet", schoolboys on Mars save the world with help from friendly natives.
Jerome Bixby's "It's a Good Life" - Young boy has absolute God-like powers.
Harry turtlelove's Earthgrip - Science fiction student applies thinking
skills to Galactic problems.
C J Cherryh's "Cuckoo's Egg" - Human child raised by aliens as ambassador.
J. Haldeman's "There is no darkness" - A group of Galactic schoolkids on E
trip to arth have pointless adventures.
Elizabeth Hand's "Waking the moon" - Ancient Gods awaken on campus.
The Tomorrow People TV series was about Psychic students' adventures.
AC Crispin's Star Bridge series is about a co-educational Academy, where
aliens are busseed in to inspire a cultural mix.
WE Johns' Planetoid series about dashing young chaps on a planetoid.
The 18/10/96 meeting opened with Garry Dalrymple informing us that Robyn
Williams of exploding scotsman fame, was seen at the Sydney WhoCon the
previous weekend. There were no panels at the Convention, instead guests
were asked stupid questions about foot shots in particular Doctor Who
episodes. There were surveillance cameras everywhere. Garry also reported
that a second Martian meteorite has been found to contain what may be
traces of fossil life. This prompted the concern that perhaps the Martian
asterods may be breeding. We may be hip-deep in them by the end of the
year. Garry suggested that we start a campaign of subversion in the public
library system by replacing the standard free bookmark list of dead
politically correct science fiction authors with our own list of live
politically correct science fiction authors. This was agreed to by the
meeting. Funding was discussed, and elaborate plans were made. Again.
A new member Vanessa Whatshername under duress admitted that she had been
to a Palliative Care Conference. The other members of the meeting then at
last reluctantly put away their thumbscrews and hot pokers.
Brian Walls revealed Prime Minister Howard's death wish in his closing
down the Asteroid Watch program. This program was to watch for asteroids
that have an orbit likely to result in a collision with Earth, causing
destruction of Life As We Know It. Mr Howard obviously believes that if he
can't see it, then it can't hurt him. This was part of an international
collaborative effort. Mr Howard has yet again shown that he believes that
you shouldn't look back because it might be gaining on you. Brian then
went on to a spoiler for "Escape from L.A." by asking for an explanation
of Electromagnetic Pulse weapons. He went on to inform us that in "The
Island of Dr Moreau", Marlon Brando did not play the island. Hollywood is
looking at making a movie out of David Brin's "The Postman" with Kevin
Costner. A movie based on Robert E Howard's "King Kull" is also in the
works. "The Wole Wide World" a biographical film of Robert E. Howard was
nomina ted for an Oscar. A new Godzilla movie is also being made.
Peter advertised that there is an Anime club at Mind Sports on the second
Saturday of the month from 12pm to 6pm. Mind Sports meet above Atlantis
Gaming, 369 Pitt St Sydney. Peter next advertised the Dymoks bookshop
Halloween night. (You missed that) Dymoks organised for fire-eaters, story
readings and a costume competition. All staff appeared in costume,
customers were requested to show up in costume. (All but three ignored
this request, and two left before the costuming was judged). The
Fun-In-The-Dark-Sydney-audience-participation-cast of the Rocky Horror
Picture Show would be going the mountains to be seen in front of The Edge
cinema's Maxivision giant screen. The shows will be helping to raise money
for the "People Living with HIV in the Blue Mountains Support Group".
Damien Broderick is writing a new book about Vingean Singularities, and
has been sent a copy of the Futurian article about the subject. UFO
sightings this last week over Queensland and Tasmania curiously
coincidentally correspond to an international UFO convention being held
in Australia at present. Perhaps the UFO's came to be seen? New
Scientist reports that the European Space Agency is facing planned
massive budget cuts that are certain to cripple it over the next three
years. NASA will be shutting down the International Ultraviolet
Explorer, an orbiting ultraviolet telescope due to government budget
cuts. This flies in the face of reason as more than two thousand
astronomers have used the observatory and their observations have been
the basis of over three thousand five hundred scientific papers. A new
vaccine against Hepatitus B is being grown in a genetically engineered
strain of bananas. New Scientist reported the scandal of the
contaminated Polio vaccine. Anyone vaccinated by injection before 1961
may be at risk of cancer. New Scientist (21 Spetember 1996 page 7)
reports on a possible new discovery in antigravity. A Finnish physicist
submitted a paper describing where a thirty centimetre torus of
superconductor is set spinning above magnets. A fifty gram mass
weighed over the spinning torus measures only forty-eight grams. Thus
the torus appears to give a gravity-shielding effect. The paper was
independently reviewed and approved for publication. Then at the last
minute, the co-worker listed in the paper denied knowing the physicist,
and the university denied that the research was being perfromed there.
THEN, the scientist himself withdrew the paper before publication,
muttering about patent rights of the funding body. The Australian
Federal Government has decided to fund religious private schools by taking
away money from public schools at a ratio 4:1. The public school system
will collapse, and Australia is set to become a theocracy that won't even
know when the sky is falling.
Ian reported that he had attended the Australian Skeptics Convention in
Melbourne the previous month. When skepticism was expressed about this
event, Ian was unfazed; he simply pulled out the card from his pocket
that had written on it "I predict that you will say that you don't
believe in the Skeptics Convention". Ian admitted that at the
Necronomicon he won 9 Thuderbirds videos for inventing the best
explanation for the "F.A.B" used to end broadcasts between characters
in the show. Some of the winning entries included:
Foxy Aristocrat Babe
For A Buck
Foreign Alien Babble
Fawning Adolescent Bufoons
Flat Ageing Bag
Fantastically Arrogant Bastard
For A Bet
Fatuous Animated Banter
Iain Triffit reported that Omni magazine has gone completely online, and
is now only available over the World Wide Web, and no more papers versions
are planned. The pay TV channel Showtime is showing Alien Nation. Rumours
of a new TV series made for cable will be called "Baywatch Nights"
combinging the bodies of Baywatch with the mysteries of The X-files. David
Hasselhof gets physical with a sea monster in an early episode. At last
intelligently made SF with the best of both worlds. "Homeboys in Outer
Space" is another upcoming title to make you rush out and buy pay TV.
Catriona Sparks announced that she had read the Australian science fiction
magazine Aurealis and it was Good! Lloyds of London have now underwritten
a policy against alien impregnation and immaculate conception in the year
2000. Catholic mothers worried that the AntiChrist was foretold to be born
in the year 2000.
Graham Stone requested not to be mentioned in this article.
Eric Lindsay reported the unbelievable news that the Scientologists have
taken over DAW books.
Susan Smith reported that "The Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon" is mathematical.
"Animals in science fiction", the topic had no sooner left Ian's mouth, than
"A Boy and His Dog" by Harlan Ellison was blurted into the discussion. In post-holocaust USA a boy and his dog look for sex and food, but not necessarily in that order.
Sirius by Olaf Stapleton is about the romance between a girl and a dog.
"The Island of Dr Moreau" by H. G. Wells is about a isolated vivisectionist
matchmaking for a Catwoman and an Englishman.
"Carmen Dog" by Emschwaller is about a future when all animals transform
into women abd a basenjis becomes the deputy leader. The men become animals,
thus providin yet another chance for the feminist press to demonstrate the
romance between a girl and her dog.
"Instrumentality of Mankind" by Cordwainer Smith features animals uplifted to
"underperson" status and human form, including the professional Girlygirl cat woman C'mell.
"Monkey Planet" by Pierre Boulle features a planet where apes are technology weilding and civilised, and humans are wild animals. An Englishman arrives and marries one of the wild animals.
"Howard The Duck" was a Marvel comic and movie about a sapient duck and his human girlfriend.
"Pigs In Space" from Jim Henson's Muppet Show featured pigs in space and
the romance of a frog and a pig.
"The Zen Gun" by Barrington Bayley is about the brief empire of the pigs, a
modified ape and the ultimate weapon.
"Sacred Martian Pig" by Margaret St Clair is about an evil Martian cult and a
conspiracy to kill the pig.
"Therein Lies The Wub" by Phillip K. Dick a Martian furry pig provides truth
and immortality. Not necessarily in that order.
"Night of the Lepus" rabbits attack people.
"City" by Clifford D. Simak has dogs inheriting the Earth.
"Bambi meets Godzilla."
"Into Your Tent I'll Creep" by Eric Frank Russell is about a telepathic alien
learning the true nature of dogs.
"Homo Saps" by Eric Frank Russell, camels are recognized as superior intelligences by Martians.
"Me and Flapjack and the Martian" by Mack Reynolds, mules are recognized as
superior intelligences by Martian invaders.
"Guns with Occasonal Music" by Lethem involves bioengineered kangaroo
"Battle of Forever" by A E Van Vogt is in a future with uplifted
animals and dreaming macroencephalitic humans.
The meeting agreed that there were animals in science fiction.
Brian Walls showed us the January 1997 Locus issue with the photo of the
secret masters who control the world and their editor. There was much
science fiction and fantasy on TV and at the movies this week in January.
"Chain Reaction" actually contained real science in the form of
sonoluminescence, but was so badly made that nobody could tell if they
hadn't been sent a press release. TV had the following shows: Duckman, not
approved by Mark's wife, but recommended by us. Space Precinct made by
Gerry Anderson of Thunderbirds fame, is not worth watching. Babylon 5 is
highly recommended. Aeon Flux is magnificent and fulfills the promise it
showed in Liquid Television, which is alos showing this week. The Tick is
back on TV and always worth watching, Spoon!
Brian reported that Colin Wilson is working a sequel to "Space Vampires".
The movie was known as "Life Force". Volcano movies are soon to be here.
Dante's Peak will be released soon, and a second movie about a volcano
under a different American city. Alien 4 is still being made. "Men In
Black" will be released later this year. The new "Starship Troopers" movie
based on Robert Heinlein's novel of the same name, is reported to look
like a cross between "Space Above and Beyond" and "Aliens".
Peter warned everyone that the Eighth Anniversary of "The Rocky Horror
Picture Show" audience participation show at Sydney Hoyts was coming up on
Friday midnight May 23rd.
Mark reported that the SciFi network cable channel has been wired to the
Whitehouse due to a request by President Clinton's daughter. Consumption
of 10 grams of sorbitol from sugarless gum causes diarrhea. This is equal
to eight sticks of gum. Ozemail has become a third long-distance phone
carrier by routing phone calls through its internet cables. An article in
"The Annals of Improbable Research" proves the existence of God by using
the techniques used in a recent study of alien abduction victims. The
psychologists reported that as so many people had reported being abducted
by aliens, that they therefore HAD been abducted by aliens. Therefore
aliens existed. The author thus reasoned that because many people believe
that they are God, that therefore, they must BE God, and so God exists.
Africans are reported to be using plastic bottles, left in the sun, as
emergency water purification. Americans ahve patented possible future uses
of mistletoe, without specifying what these uses might be. This opens the
way to patenting any naturally ocurring organism, including human DNA.
Digital Video Discs have a secret censorship agenda. The new video players
will only play discs released in a specific georgraphical region, for
example you cannot play US or UK video discs on an Australian player. In
addition, you can only play pre-recorded disks. This means that if a movie
has not been released offically for your geographic region, that you will
be unable to watch it.
Las Vegas will have a Star Trek themed hotel, with big budget special
The topic of Taxation in science fiction was not greeted enthusiastically.
Piers Anthony's "Bio of a Space Tyrant" employs innovative drug taxes.
Robert Anton Wilson's "Schroedinger's Cat" trilogy features the
Libertarian Immortalist party who sweep to government on a platform of
"An end to Death and Taxes". Harry Harrison's "The Stainless Steel Rat
gets Drafted" has a tax system where currency is in community man-hours,
rather than cash. "The Sexuality Theory of Value" by Soo-Lee wherein women
have all been disenfranchised and are controlled by the banks, and are
the tax collectors. All governments are now on the "pussy standard".
Mark closed the meeting by telling us he had nothing to say.
The meeting of 20/6/97 opened with Graham Stone reporting Kevin Dillon has
left yet another flat due to the floor collapsing. If this keeps
happening, people start to notice, and an X-file may be opened. New
Scientist further recorded that apparently the reports about ice on the
Moon were premature. It was further reported that the Earth has a new moon
orbiting between the orbits of Mercury and Mars, this object is apparently
5 kilometres in diameter, and has yet to be named. Astrologers have been
slower to incorporate the new moon into their ephemera than they were with
Pluto's companion Charon, but rest assured, they will incorporate it as
soon as they get a name. We don't know how they will cope if Astronomers
break with tradition and don't name the tiny moon after a mythological
figure. It may be hard for a client to fork over a large sum of cash for
an astrological reading that starts "Stimpy J. Cat is in the house of
Leo at the moment and reaching its closest approach - beware of
It was reported that three times as many people die of heart attacks on
airplanes than die in plane crashes. In response to this Qantus airlines have
installed defibrillating equipment and trained Flight attendants to use them.
It is not reported whether any research into whether people susceptible to
heart attack should be warned not to fly. A Friends of Science Fiction meeting
is scheduled this weekend at the Sydney Centrepoint Tower (missed it). No
gerbils please - we're Finnish. New Scientist June 7 1997 reported that a
lemming mediated disease killed Finnish soldiers.
Professor Ian Plimer's complaint of business fraud against Mr Roberts was
dismissed by the Judge because he decided that Mr Roberts' supernatural beliefs
meant that although he took money in return for goods and services, he was not
operating a business. However his Honor's judgement was that Mr Roberts had
indulged in deliberate deceit and fraud, which were not illegal under the Trade
Practices Act if they didn't involve a business. For those unfamiliar with the
phenomenon, people who practice "Creation science" pretend that their cosmology is
scientifically proven, and not merely an assertion of truth by faith. In truth
their entire belief system is anti-science, both in content and practice. They
hold that every single branch of science is wrong, while at the same time use the
authority of science to support their supernatural beliefs.
In an American case of people with supernatural beliefs having more rights under
the law than other people, a basketball player was fined $50 000 for saying
"Mormonism sucks". Further on the supernatural, Reverend Garry Dalrymple noted
that the Science Show reported on a survey that showed that basenjis scored 79 out
of 80 on a scale of intelligence.
The Japanese apocalyptic mystical secret society Aum Ryoko have been linked
with a strange seismic disturbance that happened a few years ago in Western
Australia near a property owned by the group. Studies show that the seismic
disturbance does not look like an earthquake, a conventional explosion, or a
nuclear explosion. There is international concern, because the religious
society has many scientists among its members, and has a strong interest in
plasma weapons as their chosen agent for bringing about the end of the world.
Speculation runs rife that this seismic disturbance was the testing of such a
weapon. Aum Ryoko have been charged with the sarin nerve gas poisonings on the
Tokyo train system. They have been caught trying to smuggle ingredients for
nerve gas into Australia. The irony was that all of the chemicals were already
legally available here in Australia. New Scientists reports that white mice
have been genetically engineered to reflect UV so that they glow under black
lights. Glow in the dark mice should prove popular on the Gothic scene.
Brian Walls assures us that Queen Elizabeth has a special relationship with the
Faeries, and that all of her staff are Faeries. Meanwhile in the USA, Southern
Baptists have officially shunned Disney. No Disney films or books are to be
viewed by Southern Baptists such as President Bill Clinton because they are
said to be "anti-family", "pro-homosexual" and "anti-christianity". Mr Clinton
has opposed the directive. "I can watch Disney if I want to."
Disney will be remaking "Buck Rogers" in retaliation. "Green Bicentennial" and
"Hard Wired" by Walter Jon Williams are also to be filmed. "Scanner Darkly" by
Phillip K. Dick is to be made in Australia by Universal Pictures. Brian
announced "If I was going to take a drug, then LSD would be the drug; and you
can quote me on that". So naturally, I did. The movie "Contact" based on the
novel by Carl Sagan has been released in the USA and has had good reviews. So
far we don't know whether it has the same unfortunate Pi in the Sky ending that
the novel had. Unfortunately the Hollywood version of "Godzilla" has also been
Eric Lindsay reported the sad news that George Turner died recently.
Insects thought to be extinct have been revived in Germany by military tanks
churning up the mud that long gone Bison used to churn for them. Mean Green
Graham Stone opened the topic of Aliens in science fiction by explaining that
among the earliest writings on the subject were by Lucian of Samos in 2 AD. In
the story, mariners sail west, and are carried by a whirlwind to the Moon.
There they encounter carnivorous trees with trunks in the form of women saying
"Hello sailor", who capture them by the penis and engulf them entire. Freud
would have had a field day with that one! Powerful Jinns in the stories
collected in "One thousand nights and a night" translated by Sir Richard Burton
flew by controlled flatulence.
H.G. Wells' Martians lived on an older, dying world and covet a younger Earth
in "War of the Worlds". Arthur C. Clarke in "Meeting with Medusa" tells of
Jovian life as bloated flying gasbags,; not entirely unlike our politicians.
"Heavy Planet" by Leigh Gregor told of a world where every material thing was
weaker than the inhabitants, who then meet shipwrecked humans. In "Mission of
Gravity" by Hal Clement describes a world has a strong spin. Humans and native
aliens can only survive at the equator. Orson Scott Card explored alienness in
"Speaker for the Dead", in which alien atrocities arise from good intentions
and alien values as to what is "good".
Joe Haldeman defined degrees of alienness as these levels:
0. Us - your tribe
Sydney science fiction fans
1. Uitlanning - people who do not live in your town but are like you
Other science fiction fans
2. Framling - People who are different to you but clearly human
Media SF fans
3. Ramen - People who think differently to you and are not human, but which you
can recognize as intelligent beings.
Readers of mainstream fiction and soap operas.
4. Varelse - Things you do not recognize as intelligent, beings that you cannot
Players of "Magic: The Gathering"
The topic of the next meeting will be Communication in science fiction.
The invention of sound operated fridges was reported in New Scientist.
Apparently, sound waves compress the referigerant gas, instead of mechanical
compressors. Such refrigerators don't need polluting CFC refrigerants, and are
therefore A Good Thing. The question was raised: Why not use Maxwell's demon?
For those unfamiliar with thermodynamics, Maxwell's demon is a thought
experiment that uses a demon to do your refrigeration. A demon sits in your
fridge at the door, and only allows the slow moving cold air molecules to come
in, and only the fast hot molecules to leave. The result is that the inside of
the fridge is cooled down. The answer to why we don't use Maxwell's demons to
cool refrigerators is because some scientists don't wish to sell their souls!
It was pointed out that firemen use a device to impose a spin to the water to
stabilize it, so that it goes further without breaking up into little drops.
They found that cold water travels faster down a firehose than hot water. The
difference was particularly noticeable when you were ten feet away from the
hose, we were informed. The lesson seems to be that you shouldn't stand ten
feet in front of a firehose, unless you happen to be on fire.
The plight of young scientists in Australia was encapsulated in a simple riddle:
What did the Arts graduate say to the Physics graduate?
"Do you want fries with that?" Because *he* had a *job*.
The Australian Skeptics journal had an article about the difference between
anecdotal evidence and scientifically valid evidence, with reference to a
six point criteria for calibrating human instruments for use in scientific
observation. To be a reliable instrument the human in question must be:
Knowledgable as far as is possible in the subject to be observed;
experienced in witnessing or observing;
properly equipped and trained in the use of the equipment;
trustworthy and motivated to be truthful;
This led Eric to point out that most UFO spotters do not fulfill any of these
criteria, whether they be for or against the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis. Eric
then came up with a list that all UFO detecting people should carry in order to
give reliabel and useful information on the UFO phenomena:
magnetic anomaly detector - a compass will do;
weird sound detector;
recording device for make up for inevitablly lost memory (can be disguised as
weird sound detector).
The topic of this meeting is the Sun in science fiction.
Lucian of Samosata (2nd Century C.E.) wrote a trip to the moon that involved a
war against the Sun in "True History of Things Discovered in the Moon" .
Cyrano de Bergerac wrote a story about travelling to the Sun.
Inconstant Moon by Larry Niven is about the Sun going nova.
Sundiver by David Brin is about a trip into the Sun to search for intelligent
Issac Asimov wrote stories about the future Weather Bureau which controls Earths
weather by making adjustments to the sun.
Whipping Star and Dosadai Experiment by Frank Herbert, where stars, including
Sol, are sentient beings that enable humans to teleport. The Crucible of Power
by Williamson features Martians who had a system of collecting power from the
sun by an enormous spaceship near the sun. Golden Apples of The Sun by Ray
Bradbury tells of human spacecraft dipping into the sun to steal some sunstuff
for study. In "The Fourth Profession" by Larry Niven, a doppler-shifted light
source with the same spectrum as our sun turns out to be a light sail operated
by merchants. "The Time Machine" by HG Wells was the first of many stories of a
future Earth where the sun is larger and cooler. In "World Out Of Time" by
Larry Niven, The Sun has cooled so the Earth is moved around to Jupiter's orbit
and its fired up as a mini-sun. The Robert Heinlein story "Let There Be Light"
is about the inventors of cheap efficient photovoltaic cells threatened by
vested interests. In the comics, Superman gained hios superpowers by the yellow
sun of Earth; more recently, Nuclear man in Superman 4 was solar powered. In
the Killion Empire of Time series the destruction of Earth is from focussed
light from the sun in one of the alternate timelines. Doc Smith also spun tales
using focussed sunlight as a weapon. Astroboy cartoons had ice asteroid shaped
like a lens that went into orbit around the Earth burning things. Amazingly bad
Icarus of Greek legend flew too close to the sun, whereupon the wax holding his
wings together melted and he fell to a watery death. Why don't seagulls get
affected the same way asked one Futurian? The answer is that their feathers are
not usually held together by wax; they have better technology. "Why don't they
get too hot?" he persisted. How do you know, was the reply, have you ever
managed to catch one?
Red Dwarf has Ace Rimmer slingshot around the Sun in an experimental craft.
George Zebrowski wrote about an alien group that made the analysis that if any
intelligent alien lifeform came in contact it may come into conflict with them
ultimately. Therefore they destroyed any intelligent life they discovered, and
searched for radio signals to find any lurkers. They reasoned that this was
justified because otherwise they'll do it to you first, having followed the
same reasoning as you. Earth gets hit and the Sun is one of the places that
human civilisation hides.
The next Futurian meeting will be about the planet Mercury in science fiction.
This delicious topic for the meeting was suggested by David Bofinger.
Garry Dalrymple opened the meeting with some bad news, Nick Stefoplis has
had a heart attack. G. Harry Stine has died, and George Hayes has died. We
congratulated Futurian Mark Phillips on becoming a father. We were warned
that a new movie has been released that may have been intended as a
prequel for Frank herbet's "Dune", called "Spiceworld". There is also a
rumour that a six hour TV miniseries of "Dune" is being planned. The new
Kevi n Costner film "The Postman" based on a david Brin novel has gotten
mixed reviews. Reports ae that David Brin is happy with it, but then the
press releases always say that. When reviewed on the SBS "Movie Show",
they praised the content and the issues but damned the execution. To me,
this sounds like the novel would be worth reading, but the movie misses
Brian Walls reported that the "Starburst" science fiction magazine now
comes with a CDROM. Peter Eisler announced that the CanCon roleplaying
game convention would be held over the Australia Day weekend at Lake
Ginanderra College, Belconnen, Canberra. David Bofinger related that the
lunar prospector has reached a 100km orbit of the moon, and is sending
data back at the amazingly slow speed of 3600 bits per ssecond. Most
modern computer modems operate at around 33600 bits per second. The lunar
prospector i s searching for ice on the moon using neutron scattering. The
robot has found that the moon has a magnetic field. This is the first
scientific moon mission since Apollo 17.
Eric Lindsay regaled us with tales of the practical jokes you can play in
the cardiac ward of a hospital. Apparently cardiac patients are connected
to their heart monitor via an antenna. Eric found that if he moved out of
the door, the antenna moved out o f range with the heart monitor and the
nurses thought he had died when his heart signal stopped registering. Eric
has also participated in a double blind test of an experimental new heart
Mark informed us that the Reading Group would be meeting on Thursday 28th
January at around 6pm at Galaxy bookshop, before moving on to their room
in the Imperial Arcade nearby. They would be discussing Gene Wolfe's "Book
of the New Sun". The Powerhouse M useum held a "Space fact and fantasy"
festival over January, including talks on SETI. The Search for
On the TV news and in News Scientist its been reported that longevity
scientists ahve been able to successfully extend the life of cells by
applying an enzyme that extends the telomere "fuse" that determines how
long a cell lives before self-destructing. This has applications to heart
disease, eye diseases and cancer treatments. How long individual cells
can live was once the absolute upper limit on how long it was possible for
humans to live, regardless of treatments for aging and disease. This limit
n o longer applies. Further in New Scientist, the USA is experimenting
with laser powered spacecraft. The laser engine stayss on the ground and
heats air in a bell under the craft in a pulse that pushes the craft into
orbit on a column of heated air. A patent has been taken out on a unisex
aphrodisiac based on chilli, that is supposed to be applied to the
genitals directly. If the wrong dose is used, it may be a long time before
any sort of aphrodisiac can help your love life. I receieved in email an
advert isement from an US company that is planning on taking people into
the upper atmosphere for 3 minutes of weightlessness - "civilian
The topic of humans treated as meat in science fiction was opened for
discussion. In Larry Niven's Known Space novel "A Gift From Earth",
colonists are used for spare organs for an aristocracy's medical needs. In
"The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton", a future i s portrayed in which people are
regularly abducted by organised criminals to be broken down into orrgans
to be sold on the black market to wealthy customers. Once the problems of
rejection and reattachment are solved, a healthy organ transplant can cure
a lmost any disease or injury. In other short stories, Larry Niven relates
how these medical advances lead to executed criminals being forced to
donate organs to public organ banks, and a greedy public voting in the
death penalty for smaller and smaller crimes.
Greg Egan's "The Extra" has people growing clones at home from kits. ""A
planet called Sheol" by Cordwainer Smith and "Aplanet called Treason" by
Orson Scott Card feature people who grow extra organs on their bodies for
harbvest and off-planet export. The movie "Seconds" is about organlegging,
as is the movie "Freejack", where they steal organs from people in the
past using a time machine.George Alec Effinger's "A fire in the Sun"
features organlegging - black market sales of human ogans for transplants.
The movie and TV series "Max Headroom" featured a gray market organ bank
where they weren't too particular whether the bodies they bought were dead
yet. In fact they paid extra for a "live dead body". In the Star Trek
episode "Spock's Brain", aliens steal Mr Spock's brain for their computer
system. Dr McCoy is able to supply a temporary replacement while they
chase after the thieves.
Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" has an entire human illicitly constructed
from the organs of several dead people. Garry insisted we include the
story of Genesis from the Old Testament, as Eve is cloned from Adam's rib.
Movies such as Woody Allen's "Sleeper" have an attempt to reconstruct a
dictator from the only organ left after an assassination - his nose. In
the movie "Alien resurrection", the central character's body is cloned
along with her stored personality after her death - the company literally
own her soul. Other bodies owned by the company are hijacked. "World Out
Of Time" by Larry Niven has a future where the minds of cryogenically
preserved people are extracted and transplanted to condemned criminal's
In "Piecework" by David Brin, women rent their uterus for
nanotechnologically built hardware to be grown in. They give birth to the
hi-tech tools and parts.
"The Great Galactics" by A E Van Vogt features alien vampires who feed on
blood and life energy. The movie "Dark Angel" starring Dolf Lundgren has
alien vampires mugging people for their endorphins. "Liquid Sky" has
aliens stealing endorphins from men hav ing sex.
Larry Niven's "Assimilating our Culture" is about aliens who take tissue
samples during a "routine medical", and then clone them for human organs
to use as delicacies. The Shepherd" by Orson Scott Card is about a man who
saves a colony from human-eating alien invaders by serving them up as
dinner a piece at a time rather than killing them outright.
Vernor Vinge's "A Fire Upon The Deep" features a malevolent aline who fits
whole planets of people with modems and uses them as remotes. Neuromancer
by William Gibson had prostitutes who ran on electronic auto-pilot while
renting out their bodies. "Plague of Demons" had aliens abducting people
to use their brains in military tanks. "Software" by Rudy Rucker has
sentient robots ginding up h umans to extract their mental software, and
the robots surgically implanting electronic "rats" in people's heads in
order to operate them as remotes.
"Dead Man Switch" by Timothy Zahn features a Faster Than Light drive that
can only be operated by someone who is killed as the drive is started.
"Bordered in Black" by Larry Niven is about bleak future world of
cannibals. "Soylent Green" by Harry Harrison is about a bleak future with
Phillip K. Dick's "Prepeople" has a dark future where the legal definition
of humanity is an ability to do algebra. Hence young children and Arts
students are "prepeople" with no legal right to live.
The next meetings topic will be "Earth", the seventh planet in from the
edge of the solar system.
The meeting of the 19th September 1997 opened with David Bofinger's news that he is quoted in , a book about the Vinge-ian Technological Singularity. We were informed that Rice Bubbles are presently sold with Wallace and Grommit toys in the boxes, soon to be a blob of stuff that self-assembles into the figures. At last a commercial use for nanomachines!
In further news, we were informed that Princess Dianna died, this prompted the rhetorical question "Where will the meeting go?", and the observation that Agnes Bojhaxia had also died.
ABC TV's "Quantum" program had a feature on smart pigs. Researchers fitted computer screens to the wall of a pig-pen, along with a snout-operated joystick, and a smartie reward system. The pigs played ever more complex computer games and had no trouble co nceptually mapping the action of the joystick with the cursor on the screen. Scientists now estimate that pigs are at least as intelligent as chimpanzees, and are developing a language to communicate with them. I hope the outcome of this research is not more chimpanzees being eaten.
New Scientist reported that the Martian magnetic field has been decaying rapidly, and there is speculation that perhaps, if there was Martian life in the past, that this life died when the planet's magnetic field no longer provided protection from cosmic rays, solar wind, and getting lost when their compasses failed.
New Scientist also mentioned an interesting tangent off superstring theory, involving gluon clumps called Q-balls. These clumps can be any size from an atomic diameter, to the size of a planet. The inside of a q-ball has different physical laws to the out side universe; effectively making these objects miniature universes. Theorists are proposing the very exciting use of this extremely exotic technology is to generate electricity by immersing a 1 gram q-ball in water. Since almost any other physical laws than the ones we use, result in protons decaying, they propose firing a proton into the q-ball, and letting it decay and therefore release large amounts of energy. No mention is made of what this will do to the q-ball.
The new Digital Video Disk being released in the USA comes complete with subtitles in 150 languages, however the manufacturers are being charged with racial discrimination because Navaho was not one of these languages.
Tax lawyer Richard Lead announced on the Radio National Religion report that he will be trying to get the Universal Life Church recognised as a religion under the Tax Act. The twist here is that he hopes to fail, so that in failing he gets to take away all religions' tax exemptions in Australia. Ian announced an intention to investigate if they can also be recognised under the Marriage Act. The plan is to then hold a mass marriage under the new authority of the Universal Life Church, however this time instead of the traditional hundred couples and one minister, we will have one couple and one hundred ordained ministers performing the service. The ministers could be sponsored, so that the event also generates money for charity.
An upcoming UTS talk on Nanomachines was announced, as was a UNSW talk on Quantum computers.
Brian Walls shared reviews of the movie "Contact", from someone who has also read Carl Sagan's book. Five people travel the star-buggy in the book, whereas only Jodie Foster travels in the movie. As her credibility is in question, this makes a huge differ ence to the tone and emphasis of the story. Brian was amused that the novel has the SETI researchers finding an urgent need to call "Ian in Sydney".
Peter Eisler announced that Scarlett Fish, a role-playing game based on the James Bond movie formula, co-written by Ian and Peter, would be running at Necronomicon over the October long weekend. Garry Dalrymple announced that he had a box of glow-in-the-dark aliens for sale. There was speculation as to their origin, and whether they were a fair swap for the people who have been abducted. Garry also announced that Professor Ian Plimer has mounted an appeal against the court's decision that the Ark folk were accepting money for goods and services but not indulging in business because they were religious. The Hubble Telescope has for the first time displayed images of the volcanoes on Io. Garry finally reported that on "I Dream of Jeanie" (with the original bottle blonde), someone had decided to make Roger King of Basenjisland.
David discussed how the reports of global warming seem recent because we weren't paying attention. The latest compilations of old data appear to show that a quarter of the Arctic sea ice disappeared during the time nobody was watching. David pointed out that this was a little dubious, and may be an artefact. David then presented a counter-intuitive brain teaser.
If you have a Christmas decoration that is a perfectly smooth sphere, and you shine a torch on it, at what angle is the reflected light the
The topic of the planet Mercury was opened with a reference to Isaac
Asimov's robot story "Runaraound". The story involves robots stuck because of conflicts between Robotic Laws One and Three, and people being saved by old mute machine intelligences abandoned on Mercury. This story, like many Mercury stories, describes the planet as having one face always pointing towards the Sun. Modern astronomers have found that Mercury slowly rotates, and the year is thus shorter than the day.
Larry Niven's "The Coldest Place" describes the dark side of Mercury, and an encounter with a Helium II monster.
In Arthur C. Clarke's Islands in the Sky a contest wins a boy a trip to a space station, which finds the need to land a ship on the night side of Mercury, where they encounter an 8-legged crab. A factory slowly follows the twilight zone of the planet.
Alan E. Nourse's "Brightside Crossing" is about several expeditions
endeavouring to cross the day side of Mercury.
Isaac Asimov's The Big Sun of Mercury , is a Space Ranger novel set on
Mercury. Larry Niven's "Madness has Its Place" features military lasers on Mercury organised by licensed manic paranoid psychotics.
Graham Stone described "Lord of Death" by Homer Flynt, where a Mercury expedition finds an Earth-like Mercury depopulated but for a dictator under glass. Graham revealed it was a godawful story with water-powered spacecraft manned by Adam and Eve who headed for Earth. This book is apparently one of a series not recommended by Graham, the second to avoid is "Queen of Venus".
It was decided to move the next Futurians meeting on "Black Holes" to
October 24th, so that members could attend the premiere of "JB Forever" at the Chauvel, starring Cat Sparks as Cat Galore and Iain Triffit as Dr FU Farquar.
Futurian Society of Sydney
Meets on the third Friday
of the month at the University of Technology, Sydney in room 1615 at
7pm. Each meeting has a topic around which discussions are centered.
Contact Gary Dalrymple for meeting information
The Sydney Futurians have recently joined the UTS Students Association. This is great news, because it guarantees a continuing meeting place in the UTS Tower building, and invites new members from the science fiction reading students and staff of the University.
Photograph courtesy of Cat Sparks
Ron Clarke (Editor of "The Sydney Futurian" and "The Mentor"), Ian Woolf, and Peter Eisler.
people who have attended Sydney Futurian meetings and have web space
(if you'd like to be added or removed from this list, or have your URL updated, please mail me)
About the Futurians
The Irish SciFi News reported correspondence with the Sydney Futurians in 2003
Trufen.net give us a mention
The Sydney Futurians were revived in their current form by Ron Clarke in 1994, and have continued to have regular meetings of science fiction fans on the third Friday of the month.
1960's Fan History Outline reports:
"-- but by far the most important fan organization, not only in Sydney but
in all of Australia, came into existence in November 1939: the Sydney
>> originally, the group was to be called the Sydney Science Fiction
League, but when word spread about the group, surprisingly as far as
New York City, Don Wollheim persuaded them, via corespondence, to
take the name of the legendary New York fan group instead
>> initial meeting was at Veney's parents' house
>> the group managed something the previous groups could not: longevity;
it survived, with periods of non-activity, for many decades
--- it was the first fan organization to revive after the end of
World War Two
>> but back in 1930s and 1940s, it was the vehicle that brought some new
people into fandom, most notably Don Tuck and Graham Stone, though
Stone left the organization for a while in the 1950s as the result
of a feud
>> in the 1950s, the Sydney Futurians had grown large enough where it
was meeting three times per week in its own clubroom, with attendances
of as many as 40 fans on occasions when there was a party [additional
source: Foyster 5Nov00 email]
--- it could not stand all the prosperity, though; there were feuds
and schisms with splinter groups forming
>>> one of them, the so-called 'Thursday Night Group' or more
descriptively, the 'Bridge Club Rebels', consisted of people
expelled from the Sydney Futurians for seemingly minor
infractions; Dave Cohen, who spoke for the group, said he would
pay for meeting space in the Sydney Bridge Club clubrooms, and
anyone except Graham Stone would be welcome [source: Nicholson
16Dec91 letter; Foyster 14Nov00 email]
>>> another of them (name?) had enough stability to last until about
1960 and even host a visit by Robert A. Heinlein during his trip
to Australia in 1954
--- it was the independence of some of these splinter groups that
caused some friction with some fans, notably Stone, who believed
that Sydney fandom was better served by a single monolithic
organization [source: Foyster 5Nov00 email]
-- but in 1951, Stone himself had started what could be regarded as a splinter
group, the Australian Science Fiction Society [source: Warner AWoF]
>> the organization was a bit different than most, as it had no rules,
no constitution, and except for Stone (who served as secretary),
>> its purpose seemed to be to keep all fans in the country informed
on what other fans were doing, which it accomplished via its newszine
>> membership soon grew to about 150, but it soon became embroiled
in a series of feuds, mostly between Stone and some factions of the
-- another subset of 1950s Sydney fandom was the Australian Fantasy Foundation,
which was most noted for its publication FORERUNNER, one issue of which was
so slickly produced and with such high-quality fiction that it was comparable
to the prozines
> by the mid 1950s, there was enough division and dissention in Sydney fandom
that it couldn't really be called 'organized' any more
-- at the business meeting of 1955 National Convention, there was much acrimony
involving the Bridge Club Rebels and what remained of the Sydney Futurians
[source: "Sea Green Sunday"]
>> this led to the 48th issue of the Melbourne clubzine ETHERLINE carrying an
'In Memoriam' page that read "Sacred to the memory of organised Sydney
fandom, which passed away after a lingering attack of schizophrenia
April 1st 1955. Resting in the hope of a Glorious Resurrection."
[source: Foyster 2May99 email]
-- if there was one fan who was nearest the center of all the dissension, it was
Graham Stone; he had become involved in an escalating row about who had control
over the Sydney Futurians sf library that was the source of much of the
unpleasantness at the 1955 Natcon business meeting [sources: MSFC web site;
"Sea Green Sunday"]
-- there was also dissension over who would sponsor any future Australian
National Convention, there were enough hard feelings that Graham Stone
never again supported another Australian convention
>> however, by then, it was apparent that none of the Sydney splinter groups
were capable of hosting another convention in the forseeable future [source:
Foyster 7Nov00 email]
-- another Sydney club appeared almost immediately, and it assumed the name
of the Sydney Futurian Society
>> some of the prominent members were Molesworth, Doug Nicholson, Arthur
Haddon, and Dave Cohen
--- Haddon, a tattooed ex-sailor, was one of the mainstays of the club;
according to Nicholson, "he brought perhaps somewhat deficient
literacy but enormous vigour to the pursuit of fannish activities."
[source: Nicholson 16Dec91 letter]
--- Cohen, who had been involved in prior Sydney fandom schisms,
(describe him briefly)
--- Nicholson (brief description)
> but as the 1960s began, the Sydney Futurians seemed in decline
-- the meeting sites were a succession of ever-smaller rooms [source: Foyster
>> in effect, Stone was running the club as a one-man show, handling all
the activities associated witht he club's library with occasional help
from Alan South and Kevin Dillon [source: RClarke 24Nov00 email]
-- some of the Sydney fans, most notably Doug Nicholson, started spending much
of their time in a intellectual/Bohemian group called the 'Sydney Push'
[source: Foyster 5Nov00 email]
>> Mike Baldwin, another of the fans in that group, gained some unwanted
visibility when a story of his titled "God in the Marijuana Patch", which
had been published in a University magazine, got that magazine banned and
himself prosecuted for blasphemy [source: Foyster 5Nov00 email]
-- at the end of 1963, Stone took a job in Canberra, and Vol Molesworth's health
started a rapid decline that ended with his death in the middle of 1964
[source: RClarke 24Nov00 email]
>> it was clear that change was needed if the club were to last much longer
> but the change did come, and Sydney fandom became revitalized by an influx of
-- Ron Smith, who had won a Hugo Award for his fanzine INSIDE, moved to
Australia from the United States in 1963 [source: Foyster 7Nov00 email]
>> he had become unnerved by the Cold War escalations in the United States,
which was one of the reasons for the move to a subjectively safer part
of the world
>> once he relocated to Sydney, he leveraged his small press publication
skills and became employed by the publisher Horwitz [source: Foyster
--- by the late 1960s, found that he could make more money working for
a publisher of soft-core pornography
>> after arriving in Australia, almost immediately he located Sydney fandom
and became a part of it
--- (more details needed)
-- in August 1964, Ron Clarke and some of his friends at Normanhurst Boys High
School in Sydney published the first issue of a new fanzine, THE MENTOR [source:
Foyster 5Nov00 email]
>> Clarke had discovered fandom in 1963, after seeing a notice about an upcoming
meeting of the Sydney Futurians in an issue of the British prozine NEW WORLDS
[source: RClarke 24Nov00 email]
-- on the night of the meeting, as he later remembered, "I ventured into
Sydney to 96 Phillip Street, up the dark and musty stairs to the room on
the 2nd floor where dwelt the Futurian Society of Sydney library. There I
met Graham Stone, Kevin Dillon, and Alan South, as well as coffee whose
taste and odour I can still taste and smell to this day."
>> soon afterwards he became a member of the Sydney Futurians [source: Clarke
--- he quickly obtained the address of an active fanzine publisher in
Melbourne, John Foyster, who sent him a copy of his fanzine SATURA
--- Clarke soon experienced the urge to 'pub his ish', so Foyster got him
in contact with another active fan, John Baxter, who lived in Sydney
--- Baxter provided him copies of his fanzine, SOUFFLE, but more importantly,
helped him select a manual typewriter
--- Clarke, who was in his last year in high school, then founded the sf club
there that would publish the first few issues of THE MENTOR
>> the first issues were not very memorable, published initially for the pupils
at the school, and were dismissed by Clarke himself as little more than
crudzines [source: Clarke 22Nov00 email]
>> after graduating from high school in 1966, Clarke continued THE MENTOR
as his own fanzine
--- by the seventh issue, the editorship had been reduced to Clarke himself,
and the only reason it as published, according to Clarke, was to "show
the flag" at the Melbourne Conference of May 1968 [source: Clarke 22Nov00
--- but things improved after that, with monthly issues over the next four
months in quality and size, that established THE MENTOR as one of
Australia's best fanzines
--- Clarke's philosophy with THE MENTOR was to publish a mix, from fiction
to poetry to articles of fanhistorical interest; he later wrote that
"One of the main reasons I publish TM is to give stf fans the opportunity
to see their stories in print and to hear what other people, stf readers
like themselves, think of them." [source: Clarke 22Nov00 email]
--- Clarke continued to publish the fanzine, with minor interruptions,
until the late 1990s
>> Clarke himself, perhaps because of THE MENTOR, later became of one
Sydney's most prominent fans
--- he attended first convention in 1966
--- one of founders of Sydney Science Fiction Foundation and ANZAPA
--- in the 1970s, besides continuing to publish TM, he was active in helping
to revive the Sydney Futurians from yet another moribund period, and
even chaired one of the Australian National Conventions in that decade
(in 1974) [source: Foyster 2Apr99 email]
> one of the more important events in Sydney fandom in the 1960s was the visit,
in (when?), of famous writers Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton
-- John Bangsund, a Melbourne fan of whom more will be mentioned shortly, wanted
to make sure Brackett and Hamilton would meet some fans while they were in
Australia, and contacted two people he knew in Sydney to organize the event:
Betsy (lastname?) and John Danza [source: Foyster 5Nov00 email]
>> little was heard of the organizers after that hurriedly-arranged event, but
the event itself was so successful that it gave organized fandom in Sydney
a needed boost
>> an organization of fans came together as a result of the event, and became
known as the Sydney Science Fiction Foundation
> Sydney Science Fiction Foundation
-- pretentious-sounding name aside, it was a science fiction club similar in
intent and style to other Sydney sf clubs [source: Foyster 8Nov00 email]
-- (details? purpose? prominent fans? activities?)
-- the prime mover-and-shaker of the organization was Gary Mason
>> Mason considered himself more of a comics fan than a science fiction fan,
but he was the organizational force that kept the SSFF active in its
early years [source: Foyster 5Nov00 email]
-- other members included Ron & Sue Clarke, Shayne McCormack, Kevin Dillon
[source: Foyster 8Nov00 email]
>> there were crossovers from other Sydney fan groups, including even the
local STAR TREK club
-- in the end, the organization proved to be somewhat long-lived, but not with
permanency; it survived well into the 1970s, but passed from existence by
the time the 1980s had arrived [source: Foyster 5Nov00 email]"