BSFS Receives Permit to Build ADA Ramp at its Headquarters

By Dale Arnold: The Baltimore Science Fiction Society has received a permit to construct an ADA compliant ramp outside its headquarters after a two year process which was delayed by both lost government records (improper hand recopying of data still held on physical index cards) at the Baltimore Zoning and Planning Department Office and not one but two ransomware attacks at that department which brought their computer systems down to the point where they had to rebuild the entire system… After explaining that even though the zoning code did not have a category for science fiction society or literary society, that the Baltimore Science Fiction Society was not like a union hall or a dance club or other things that the zoning folks believed might be similar…  

BSFS is happy to announce we finally received the permit. This ramp will finally allow people using wheelchairs to enter the front of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society Building and not use the steep scary freight ramp at the back of the building.  

The final ramp design is more complex than we had originally hoped adding to some of the approval delays and boosting up the price due to the slope of the property, placement of doors on the building, and location of gas and plumbing lines.  Engineering drawings and fund raising for this project began in 2013 and it has been a long haul, but we now have the funds, permit, and contractors lined up to perform construction in March 2020. (when the weather breaks as concrete sets poorly in the cold)  

All of the surplus funds raised at Balticon 50 where George R. R. Martin was guest of honor, as well as many thousands of dollars raised from fandom at other events will go to cover the total cost of over $30,000.00 for the project.  BSFS thanks everyone in fandom that contributed for their faith and generosity toward this project.   

Thanksgiving at BSFS

Miriam Winder-Kelly

By Dale S. Arnold: Thanksgiving of 2019 the Baltimore Science Fiction Society opened our building to all SF fans that fate has otherwise made the only practical family their fannish family. For some relatives live far away and for others relatives have passed, but all SF fans who needed a place were invited to our potluck Thanksgiving celebration.  (Note that the holiday Dalek decorations were deployed early this year so our Dalek could be featured as part of the Highlandtown Arts District First Friday in December tour.)

[Dale S. Arnold is President of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society.]

NESFA 2019-2020 Short Story Competition Taking Entries

The 2019-2020 NESFA Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Contest is accepting entries through September 30. The contest “encourages amateur and semi-professional writers to reach the next level of proficiency.” The complete guidelines are here.

Ineligible are writers who have been paid more than $1000 for their writing from any source, and/or have published a novel or multiple shorter works adding up to more than 40,000 words in any paying publication.

A qualifying story must have strong science fiction or fantasy elements and must be shorter than 7,500 words. Stories must be original works of fiction, submitted by their authors. No reprints, or fan fiction. …There is no entry fee. Please submit only one entry per author.

The winner will be announced at Boskone 57 in February 14–16, 2020 and receive a certificate of achievement, three NESFA Press books, and a free membership in one of the next two Boskones (their choice). Runners-up will receive a certificate, and two NESFA Press books. Honorable mentions will receive a certificate and one NESFA Press book.

BSFS and Balticon Volunteers
at Work

Fans form a human chain inside the Baltimore Science Fiction Society Building to move out of storage equipment needed to run Balticon, the Maryland Regional Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention.

The 53rd annual Balticon will be held May 24-27 at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore.

The Comet Science Fiction Channel provided t-shirts as a reward for the volunteer’s efforts.

[Thanks to Dale Arnold for the story.]

SCA Restricts “Symbols of Hate” and Updates Policies and Mission Statement To Be More Inclusive


The Society for Creative Anachronism has revised its mission statement to be more inclusive, and published updated restrictions on the use of symbols associated with hate speech.

MISSION STATEMENT: The revised statement now reads:

The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is an international non-profit volunteer educational organization.

The SCA is devoted to the research and re-creation of pre-seventeenth century skills, arts, combat, culture, and employing knowledge of history to enrich the lives of participants through events, demonstrations, and other educational presentations and activities.

The primary difference from the previous version is the elimination of the phrase “focused on Western Europe and its cultural contacts.” The revision addresses concerns that have been raised about the lack of representation of other cultures in the Middle Ages

BANNED SYMBOLS. The Society for Creative Anachronism’s College of Arms has published additional guidance on “Symbols of Hate”.

From Wreath: Symbols of Hate

The resurgence of white supremacist organizations and other hate groups has been in the news recently, and the SCA has not been immune to its effects. The use of Norse and Saxon symbols by such groups directly affects both submitters and the College of Arms.

Apart from the designs which are instantly recognizable as offensive (e.g., a swastika or a burning cross) it is nearly impossible to make a ruling on the offensiveness of an armorial motif that is objective, useful for consulting heralds, adaptive to the changing tactics of hate groups, and fair to submitters who have no malicious intent and merely seek to register armory. For this reason, the Laurel office has long been averse to making sweeping rulings on offense, preferring adjudication on a case-by-base basis.

Recently, Laurel and Wreath, with the assistance of Drachenwald’s heralds, reviewed several European laws and policies to try to determine a path forward in evaluating armory for offense. Going forward, if a symbol is banned as hate speech in all of its forms in a jurisdiction in which the SCA has a substantial presence, that symbol will be unregisterable in the SCA (the swastika, long banned by Laurel precedent, falls into this category). If a symbol is banned as hate speech in some forms, but is exempted for others (especially heraldry), it will not be disallowed immediately in the SCA; however, it will be scrutinized for context….

Examples and analysis follow.

STATEMENT OF CORE VALUES. In connection with the new Mission Statement, the following Statement of Core Values was also passed by the Board:

SCA Statement of Core Values

In pursuing its mission, the SCA is committed to excellence in its programs, communications and activities and to

  • act in accordance with the chivalric virtues of honor and service;
  • value and respect the worth and dignity of all individuals;
  • practice inclusiveness and respect pluralism and diversity;
  • promote a safe and respectful environment for all SCA events;
  • act with transparency, fairness, integrity and honesty;
  • be a responsible steward of SCA resources; and,
  • be committed to maintaining the trust of its members and participants.

It is the expectation of the SCA that its members and participants, in all events and activities of the SCA, will conduct themselves in accordance with these tenets.

LOCAL INITIATIVE. In a comparable spirit, the Society for Creative Anachronism’s Kingdom of Ealdormere, which takes in most of the Canadian province of Ontario, is circulating a “Declaration of Virtues of the Kingdom of Ealdormere” which members are invited to sign.

(Declaratio Virtutum Regni Ealdormeriensis)
These are the virtues of the Kingdom of Ealdormere to which we aspire and strive in thought, word, and deed: Honour: In all our acts, we strive to be true to the ideals that are the foundation of our Society and to keep our word.

Inclusiveness: We welcome those of all backgrounds, regardless of ethnicity, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious beliefs, or abilities, and will endeavour to make all spaces open and safe for all.

Kindness: We strive to be generous and considerate, breaking down barriers, drawing strength from our community, rejecting bigotry, combating hate. Above all, Equity and Justice, respecting the rights of others, giving each person their due in keeping with the laws and customs of Society and Kingdom.

There shall be no place within our halls for those who by their words or actions reject these laws and customs, regardless of rank or status. We who here witness this document hold ourselves to this pledge This document shall not be sealed and is not complete. This strength of unity shall ever increase in perpetuity.

2019 Loscon Guests of Honor Announced

Loscon 46 chair Matthew B. Tepper has announced the 2019 convention’s guests of honor:

Pro: Howard Waldrop
Fan: Edie Stern
Artist: Julie Dillon

The theme of Loscon 46 is “Where Science Fiction Meets Fantasy.”

Loscon 46 will be held November 29 – December 1, 2019, at the LAX Marriott. Further details to be announced later.

An Earlier Clarke Birthday Celebration

By Bill Higgins: As the world celebrates the 100th anniversary of Arthur C. Clarke’s birth, allow me to share a photocopy I recently rediscovered.

In 1977 my college SF club, the Michigan State University Science Fiction Society, noted that Clarke’s 60th birthday was approaching. Jim Ransom volunteered to write a letter of greeting and mail it to Colombo, Sri Lanka.

To our delight, Clarke sent a postcard in reply, dated on his birthday, December 16, 1977. He wrote:

==================

Thanks for nice greeting!

Herewith earth end of my next (&last) novel THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE.

All good wishes

Arthur C Clarke

==================

The postcard pictured Sigiriya Rock, a historic fortress where King Kasyapa built his palace in the 5th Century AD.

I kept a photocopy; I wonder if Jim Ransom kept the postcard, which turns 40 this year.

As for the plug for his upcoming book, Clarke did in 1979 publish The Fountains of Paradise and it does indeed feature a fictionalized version of King Kasyapa and Sigiriya Rock, as well as a space elevator.

Science fiction writers are notoriously inaccurate at prophecy, however; Clarke may have foreseen the Space Age and the Information Age, but he was wrong about The Fountains of Paradise being his final novel. He went on to publish eighteen more novels before passing away in 2008.

Heinlein Society Elections Affected by Unexpected Death of Jerry Pournelle

Results of The Heinlein Society’s board of directors elections were announced at its Annual Meeting, a phone-in teleconference held September 10. On the line were the 2017-2020 class of three seats on its nine-seat Board of Directors. An impressive 66.5% of eligible voters participated in an online election via the SimplyVoting.com website.  The three incumbent Directors standing for re-election, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, John Seltzer, and John Tilden, all won re-election, which was certified by Simply Voting on 28 August 2017.

The passing of Dr. Jerry Pournelle on September 8, after the election and certification of results, has led to the Society’s remaining Board to invoke Article II, Section 5D of its Bylaws to fill this vacancy.  At the Society’s September 11 Board Meeting, Walter Boyes, an Illinois SF writer, technologist, futurist, and fan, was selected to fill the open seat.  As a Board appointment, Walt is required to stand for a ratification vote in the 2018 Society elections.

At the same September 11 Board Meeting, Society officers Dr. Keith Kato of California, Geo Rule of Minnesota, and John Tilden of Maryland, were retained as President, Vice President-Secretary, and Treasurer respectively.  Keith Kato stated this would be his last year in office.  The remainder of the new Board, by seniority, is Joe Haldeman, John Seltzer, Elizabeth Wilcox, Dr. C. Herbert Gilliland, Dr. Beatrice Kondo, and Walter Boyes.

[Thanks to Keith Kato for the story.]

NESFA 2017 Short Story Competition Taking Entries

The New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA) is now accepting stories for its 2017 Annual Short Story Competition for new and emerging writers.

We are seeking science fiction and fantasy short stories that represent a diverse range of topics and authors within the genre.

The purpose of this contest is to encourage amateur and semi-professional writers to reach the next level of proficiency. We will look for engaging openings, good character development, well structured plotting, powerful imagery, witty or humorous language, unique word or phrasing choices, and convincing endings. A qualifying entrant is a writer who has not previously published in a paid, professional forum, book, magazine, etc. at the time of submission, and who has received no more than $1000 for any previously published short stories (total) or other work of fiction in electronic form. Having published a novel, either in e-format or on paper automatically disqualifies you as an entrant in the contest.

All contest entrants receive a short critique of their work and finalists receive an assortment of free books.

Past judges have included award-winning authors such as Daniel Kimmel, Steven Brust and Garth Nix, among others.

The grand prize winner will receive a free membership to Boskone 56, New England’s longest running science fiction convention.

The deadline for submissions is September 1, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. All submissions must be made via email to storycontest@boskone.org in flat text, rich text, or any format readable by MS Word or Open Office. For more information, including submission guidelines and deadlines, visit http://www.nesfa.org/awards/storycon.html.

NESFA welcomes all writers and topics. We look forward to reading your submission and wish all of our writers good luck in NESFA’s 2018 Annual Short Story Competition.

Middle Tennessee Science Fiction Society Ending After 45 Years  

Nashville’s science fiction club, the Middle Tennessee Science Fiction Society, will hold its last meeting on March 8. The club has been around for 45 years, been involved in 30 Kubla Khans (1973-2002) and several Xanadus. Their final gathering will be at the Green Hills Public Library, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

Reece Morehead mourned in the latest newsletter

The club seems to have fallen apart due to age, sickness, death,  divorces, people moving out of town, working hours which conflict with the meeting, personality clashes, unemployment, the loss of new (and especially younger) fans, the dreaded GAFIA, etc. At the February meeting it was agreed among the six of us attending that the March meeting will be the last…

However, locals fans will still be in touch. Morehead listed a series of social events, cookouts and parties that will survive the demise of the club, saying “Think of it as what had been the after-the-meeting meeting dinner [as] now ‘the’ meeting.”

[Thanks to Andrew Porter for the story.]