Washington Science Fiction Association

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WSFA Small Press Committee Now Accepting Nominations

The Washington Science Fiction Association [] has established a
literary award to honor the work done by small presses in promoting and preserving
science fiction. The award, WSFA Small Press Award, now in its sixth year, is given
annually for short fiction works (17,500 words or fewer) of imaginative literature
(e.g., science fiction, fantasy, horror, speculative fiction or like literature) published by a small press in the previous calendar year. Nominations close April 1st.

Stories may be nominated by SF authors and small press publishers. Details of the
nomination process and contact information can be found at [].

If you have any question email: admin (at) wsfasmallpressaward (dot) org.

Bryan Puterbaugh
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I am sorry to announce the death of a new WSFA member.  He had only managed to make it to the Virginia meetings so far, but John and I really liked him.

Here is an excerpt from the letter I received telling about his death with more details.

I am sorry to tell you that Bryan was killed last night while riding his motor scooter in Fairfax County. Police are still determining the cause of the accident; so far the best guess is that he simply slid and fell off, fatally. They do not think it was a hit-and-run, but again, so far it is speculative.

Most likely the funeral will be on October 2nd, but details will be forthcoming. If you would like to keep informed of details, please send me a reply by Facebook, and that way I will remember to send them your way. Right now my heart is grieving and my memory is scanty. Bryan was like a part of our family.

Culture Shock
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So when I was growing up I read Science Fiction.  My very favorite book of all time was Earth Abides.  One of my favorite authors was Robert Heinlein.  For various reasons, I didn't read Earth Abides for somewhere around 20 years until just a month or so ago and I picked up a Heinlein book, which I hadn't read before, just last week. 

What I noticed last week and a month ago is that these incredibly good books were both racist and sexist.  Heinlein was not only a racist sexist, but also an anarchist and actively advocated violence.  George R Stewart who wrote Earth Abides only had faint overtones of racism and sexism and the strongest character in his book was a black woman, so his racism was clearly just unconscious cultural assimilation.

The thing that startled me was that in the 1960's/70's when I was initially reading books like these both the racism and sexism went right by me.  It was such a part of the culture that it was invisible.  You know, in the "you can't see the forest through the trees" way.  In 2010 when I have been made more aware of racism and sexism they stood out like sore thumbs, especially in the Heinlein book. 

I find it interesting that a person who is swimming in a sea of something won't notice it, but when they only encounter it once in a while it is really obvious.

I just had to ban a user
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This is not a site for posting porn. We've got zero tolerance for that here.

Easter Sunday
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Easter is one of those holidays which always sneak up on me.  I just don't pay attention to it.  I can't count the number of times I have gone out on a Sunday to run some normal errand and discovered that the entire blasted world was closed for the holiday.  Last year I spent the day refreshing LJ, hoping for a post, any post.  So of course, I'm one of the people who got spammed with that horrible dead and tortured rabbits spam. 

This year I realized that today was Easter while I was out shopping yesterday.  And this year, Easter's timing is actually convenient, because we have decided it is time to get Sweetheart a new companion.  In a week, all the bunny rescue societies will be overflowing with unwanted buns.  And they normally get them spayed and neutered before adopting them out, so I won't have to take care of that part myself.  For once, Easter isn't just a pain in the ass for me.

Earth Abides
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So I just reread(1) George R Stewart's Earth Abides.  I've probably read it at least 20 times, but it has been around 20 years since the last time I read it.  I'm one of those lucky people (or maybe unlucky, it depends on how you look at it) who doesn't remember a book really clearly after it has been read, and so each time I read it, it is a fresh experience.

The opening of the book gave me goose bumps.  It was just before bed, and I realized that if I wanted to sleep that night I had better listen to something else, so I picked up an old mystery that I have heard many times before and saved Earth Abides for the morning.  As I listened to the story, I realized that my view of the world has changed in the past 30 or so years. 

The main character, Isherwood Williams, is a typical intellectual snob.  He's a watcher, and not a doer.  Instead of just starting the projects he wants done, he tries to get other people to do those projects.  Back in the day, I didn't recognize that as a flaw, now as I approach my 50th birthday, it sticks out like a sore thumb.  Ish is a good man, but he values intellectualism over any other quality.  He wants to bring back civilization, but he doesn't clue in until late in the book that making children sit down and be quiet in a school setting is not the way to inspire a love of learning.  It never once occurs to him to read aloud to his children, which is the only sure way of instilling a love of reading.  The only real skill that he figures out how to pass on is making bows and arrows.  I sat there thinking, "You've got goats!  Catch and domesticate some goats!  You can drink their milk, eat their meat, and spin their wool.  Goats are all around useful."  They way he taught the kids about bows and arrows was exactly the way to teach them how to make their own clothing and any other item that would be useful. 

The story is about a man who survives a disease which devastates the human race.  In the San Francisco area he manages to find about 10 people still alive.  Early in the book he takes a trip across the US and manages to find a handful of others still alive.  In the middle of the book he sends his son and another boy in the community across country in a Jeep which they have refurbished and they come back with tales of 3 or four other communities but only get as far as the Missouri or Mississippi (he can only guess based on what the boys tell him) before they have to turn back.  So humanity isn't wiped out.  It's not a "last man on earth" story.  Instead of a story about endings, it is really a story about beginnings.

All-in-all, despite the flaws in both Ish and George R Stewart's world views (and some seriously dated language, like the word 'negro' for a black person) I still found it a moving and meaningful story.  And I think in the end that Ish figures out that intellectualism isn't nearly as valuable as he had thought it was.

(1)  Actually listened to the Audio  file on my iPod.  iPods are a blessing to anyone who wants to get things done *and* read books.

The Washington Science Fiction Association
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The Washington Science Fiction Association is the oldest science fiction club in the greater Washington area. Its members are interested in all types of science fiction and fantasy literature as well as related areas such as fantasy and science fiction films, television, costuming, gaming, filking, convention-running, etc.

WSFA meets the first and third Fridays of every month at approximately 9:00 pm. Non-members are encouraged to attend. Club meetings include a brief business meeting, after which the group gathers informally over light refreshments to talk about just about anything including (on occasion) science fiction literature and media. Meetings are held in members' homes in Virginia and Maryland. For more information and directions, e-mail WSFA, or write to us at:
WSFA c/o Sam Lubell
11801 Rockville Pike #1508
Rockville, MD 20852

WSFA hosts Capclave (the Capital Conclave), its annual science fiction convention. Capclave attracts sf fans, authors, editors, publishers, and artists from around the region. Activities include panels on topics related to SF, a Dealers' Room selling new and used books and other curious oddities, an Art Show displaying science fiction artwork that may be purchased, filking, gaming, and parties.

From 1950 through 1997 WSFA hosted Disclave (the District of Columbia Conclave). Disclave has been replaced with Capclave.

WSFA sometimes sponsors other events such as "Fifth Friday Parties," film screenings, and barbecues. For more information, check our calendar of upcoming events.

We'd be happy to tell you more about joining WSFA.


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