Locus Online


August 1998

Dear Locus,
     Thank you for your true understanding of the Y2K problem. [Aether Vibrations] As a programmer/analyst for the past 17 years, I'm all too familiar with all sides of the issue.
     I began coding for Y2K back in 1985, but it was a struggle to get the "okay" for the extra two bytes for all my date fields. Everyone assumed that every system would be rewritten in a 4GL (Fourth Generation Language) by then.
     Little did anyone foresee the true enemy just over the horizon.
     The true enemy and the true culprit of the problem (IMHO) is Downsizing. The Big D is why nothing was rewritten.
     Today we are still running programs and systems written in 1975 and barely enough staff to keep up with regular maintenance.
     As always, the problem doesn't lie with the Worker; it lies with Management. And Management can't see it (or the Future) because, to paraphrase "Apocalypse Now" - Charlie don't read Science Fiction (or Dilbert, for that matter). But Programmers sure do!
     Thanks for the understanding and the great magazine (and webpage). You make my other job (editorial assistant) a lot easier with your articles and your attention to detail.
     Happy New Millennium!

--Richard Kunz
Tue 18 Aug 1998
The Endicott Studio
Year's Best Fantasy and Horror
Richard and Mardelle Kunz
Editorial Assistants to Terri Windling

Dear Locus,
     I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your editorial on how WRONG the SF movies produced today (and over the last 20 years) are. While I enjoy the Star Wars movies and the original Star Trek series, I still read my science fiction rather than watch it on a screen. When I saw the advertisements for Armaggedon and Deep Impact, I had no desire to see them because of the "howlers" you mentioned in your editorial. I'm not claiming clairvoyance, just that it seems inveitable for the films to have such errors. (I still cringe when watching Star Wars: A New Hope with my children when Han Solo says "...the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs...")
     I did enjoy Men In Black, again, like you, because it was meant to poke fun at itself. I just wish that they hadn't sold out to the syndication of a cartoon version that will be on TV this fall...
     My favorite SF movie to date is Cocoon. It was the relationships between the characters and the "miracles" they experienced that drove the film, not the SFX. Unfortunately, until we get someone with brains and enough money and love for "real" science fiction to make a film with accuracy and care, we will be inflicted with more Armaggedons and Deep Impacts.
     I think I'll continue to stick to reading...

--Bernadette Crumb
Tue 18 Aug 1998

(Fri 21 Aug 98)

Dear Locus:
     I have a couple of books that I picked up at a thrift store from an author that I grew up reading and love dearly, E.E. "Doc" Smith. I understand they have just issued a commemorative book.....?
    I have two books, both 1st editions and 1 of them is signed. They are from the "Fantasy Press" publishers from 1949. They are very old and by one of the pioneers of "space opera" and I thought you might be, or might know of someone who might be, interested in them. If you do, please write back or call me at my work at 1-800-BET-FRET . Thanks in advance for any help.

--Douglas Featherstone
Mon 17 Aug 1998

Dear Locus:
     Hello! I'm trying to track down back issues of a defunct, obscure horror magazine called Midnight Zoo. Zoo, along with another publication called Aberrations, was published by a fellow name Jon Herron.
     I had a story called ''Metal Fatigue'' published in volume 3, number 9 of Midnight Zoo, but never received notification of this, nor any contributors copies (or any money, for that matter). I didn't even know it had been published until yesterday. Now, I would like to get some copies of the magazine. Do you know where I might find back issues of Midnight Zoo? I would like to get in touch with either the elusive Mr. Herron, or his editor at the time, Elizabeth Martin-Burk.
     Do you have any information about any of this? Even if you can just refer me to someone else who might help, I would be very grateful. Thanks!

--Ron Sering
Sat 15 Aug 1998

(Mon 17 Aug 98)

Dear Locus:
     I returned home to find my August Locus waiting for me, so I hadn't seen the poll results and Gary [Wolfe]'s reviews of Moonseed and Traces. I suppose I could have gone crazy and bought a copy at the con.
     I was very pleased with the poll placings; thanks for doing this. (It does seem to me the various novelette polls have been widely scattered this year.)
     And please say thanks to Gary for the reviews; I bumped into him at the con but I'm ashamed to say I lost his email address. The reviews are very generous in space and comment and also very perceptive. Gary was exactly right that the Moonseed's sole purpose is to chew rock slow enough for the characters to react; in fact in my original outline I have the humans beat the Moonseed and save the Earth, much as Tommy Lee Jones beat that volcano and Bruce beats the asteroid, but what kind of wimpish threat would that have been?

--Stephen Baxter
Tue 11 Aug 1998

Dear Locus:
     The all-time best lists in the August Locus contain very few embarrassments, which suggests that your readers have sound taste and one could put together a really solid SF or Fantasy introductory course on this basis. But there is a bias built in, which cannot be corrected for in a popular poll. It is simply this: very few out-of-print books make the list. Where are (in the fantasy list): Avram Davidson's The Phoenix and the Mirror, James Branch Cabell's Jurgen, or Lord Dunsany's The King of Elfland's Daughter, or Charles Finney's The Circus of Dr. Lao and why did Silverlock by John Myers Myers fall off the list? Why did Pangborn's Davy fall off the SF list?
     The reason is that they've been out of print for a while. Most readers read NEW books only and don't seek out used ones unless they somehow know what to look for. As we all know, the backlist of our field is in shocking condition. Only Tor seems to have a consistent reprint program in their Orb series. There is a great need for Rediscovery series and something like the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series. Maybe a series of lost and out-of-print Hugo and Nebula winners. We are losing our heritage. Readers may have to be satisfied with inferior reinventions of it.

--Darrell Schweitzer
Wed 5 Aug 1998

(Fri 14 Aug 98)

Previous letters

© 1998 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.