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                        Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
                    Club Notice - 03/31/00 -- Vol. 18, No. 40

       Chair/Librarian: Mark Leeper, 732-817-5619, mleeper@lucent.com
       Factotum: Evelyn Leeper, 732-332-6218, eleeper@lucent.com
       Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell, robmitchell@lucent.com
       HO Chair Emeritus: John Jetzt, jetzt@lucent.com
       HO Librarian Emeritus: Nick Sauer, njs@lucent.com
       Back issues at http://www.geocities.com/evelynleeper
       All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

       The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the
       second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call
       201-447-3652 for details.  The Denver Area Science Fiction
       Association meets 7:30 PM on the third Saturday of every month at
       Southwest State Bank, 1380 S. Federal Blvd.


       1. I was at Boskone, a science fiction convention, a few weeks ago.
       Like  many  conventions they have there what is called a convention
       bid party.  It is part  of  the  competition  of  getting  a  World
       Science  Fiction  Convention  in  your  city.   If you would like a
       convention in your town you want to compete with other bid  parties
       being  run  at  the  same  time.   What was odd was that to attract
       people to this party for an English convention they said they  were
       going  to  have  "cheese."  I mean, so what?  You can get cheese at
       any grocery.  What kind of excitement is this  for  a  bid  partly?
       But  we  visited  the  party  and to my amazement they actually had
       cheese.  It was really cheese.

       I mean it was not processed  cheese  food;  it  was  not  cut  into
       individually  wrapped  singles;  it was not foil-wrapped wedges; it
       was not Velveeta; it was not low fat; it  was  not  processed  into
       strings;  it  was not grated; it was not somehow made into a smooth
       hard tasteless brick; it was not a powder on a corn chip; it wasn't
       mixed  with  oils; it wasn't baked into a cracker; it was not in an
       aerosol spray can; it wasn't in a squeeze bottle;  it  didn't  come
       from  a  jar;  it wasn't any kind of spread; it wasn't preserved in
       any way; it wasn't on a Doodle; it wasn't nacho cheese.  It  wasn't
       around, or inside, or mixed with a pretzel.  It didn't have salmon,
       or nuts or peppers, or fruit mixed in.  It wasn't a sweet cake.  It
       was only one kind of cheese rather than a mixture like Jack cheese.
       It didn't go "crunch."  It wasn't grilled or melted on a pizza.  It
       was  not in a nut covered party log or a ball.  Nor was it a fondue
       dip; it was not part of a cheese dog or layered on a  burger  or  a
       dip  for corn chips.  It wasn't melted over pastrami and sauerkraut
       or cauliflower or broccoli or macaroni or even a veal cutlet.   No,
       what  they  had  done was very cleverly taken a block of very rich,
       very sharp white cheddar and cut it into slices and served that  at
       room  temperature  as if that was "cheese." This was in America, no
       less.  It was this very sharp, very tasty stuff, and I  remember  a
       little  bit  comes  off on your hands as you eat it (but it doesn't
       turn them yellow).

       I was reminded that in Robert  Louis  Stevenson's  TREASURE  ISLAND
       that when young Jim Hawkins found Ben Gunn who had been marooned on
       the island for many years, the first thing Ben thought to  ask  for
       was  a  piece  of  cheese.   That probably sounds a lot stranger in
       America than it does in other parts of the world.  I bet this  rich
       cheddar  is the kind of cheese he was thinking of.  And he had been
       thinking of all those years on his island.  But  it  was  a  really
       dumb  thing  for a convention committee to do.  I mean they are not
       going to win over any convention voters by  coming  over  here  and
       making fun of our disabilities.

       I wonder if they are going to have a bid party at Lunacon?

       Okay, let me drop out of character for a moment.  I  know  somebody
       will  point  out  that  high  quality  cheddar  is  available here.
       American rarely get it, but it is here.  It is just  a  very  small
       part  of  the  market for things we call cheese.  Sure, I like good
       Vermont cheddar.  I rarely have it because it really is not a  very
       healthy  food.   My point is that Americans think they love cheese.
       But how often do we accept something of far lower quality,  usually
       no  healthier.   I had been away from real cheese for so long I had
       forgotten what poor substitutes had replaced so much  of  the  real
       stuff  in  the marketplace.  What wretched surrogates for cheese we
       have come to accept this century.  And I am  really  talking  about
       more than just cheese.

       Among other things I am talking about music.  Go up  and  down  the
       radio  dial  and listen to how unmelodic and jarring most music has
       become.  So much beautiful music was written in the  19th  century.
       But  most is played only on an ever-diminishing number of classical
       stations on the radio.  But I am not talking about  just  classical
       music.   And  in  fact even classical music has become formless and
       lacking in melody this century.  One has only to listen to  popular
       music  of  the  19th  century  to realize how much of it really had
       melody.  Play some music popular around the time of the Civil  War,
       notably  "Lorena,"  and  to realize how much more the popular music
       had good melody then.  "Lorena" is so sad and so  moving  that  the
       Confederate  army would not permit it to be played in camp for fear
       it would destroy morale and make the soldiers  homesick.   I  think
       the music we get today is just a bit cheesy.  [-mrl]


       2. A CIVIL CAMPAIGN by Lois  McMaster  Bujold  (Baen  Books,  1999,
       405pp,  HC,  $24.00,  ISBN  0-671-57827-8)  (a  book  review by Joe

       Every year or two a new Miles Vorkosigan novel comes out, and every
       time I review one I complain that Lois McMaster Bujold should write
       something else just so that  she  can  prove  that  she  CAN  write
       something  else.   So,  A  CIVIL  CAMPAIGN  comes out, subtitled "A
       Comedy of Biology and Manners", and I think to myself, "here we  go
       again".  And of course, inevitably, just like *every other time*, I
       end up enjoying it.  I hereby state that from now in, in public,  I
       will  not  complain about Bujold writing only Vorkosigan novels.  I
       will only complain to my wife and a few close friends.  The rest of
       you  will  be  told that the whole thing is really quite wonderful,
       and you should read them all, you should.

       The setting for this one take place during the weeks leading up  to
       Emperor  Gregor's wedding.  Basically, the plot involves a bunch of
       characters that we know and love getting themselves into a romantic
       mess  with  their  various  significant  others,  as  well  as some
       political intrigue interwoven with butter bugs.  Yes, butter  bugs.
       You  see,  Miles  has  fallen in love with Ekaterin, the woman with
       whom he became involved in the  novel  Komarr.   She  has  come  to
       Barrayar  to  live  with  relatives,  and  Miles schemes to win her
       heart, only he screws it up.  Meanwhile, Mark,  Miles'  clone,  has
       come  back  to Barrayar with his love Kareen Koudelka.  Only, well,
       that gets screwed up.  And Ivan Vorpatril, well, he has designs  on
       Lady Donna Vorrutyer, but, well, *she* screws that up.  And, in and
       amongst it all, there's political intrigue,  wedding  preparations,
       and butter bugs.  Yeah, butter bugs.

       This book is funny.  I really enjoyed it.  Yes, it  had  it's  slow
       spots, but it's funny.  Bujold continually shifts from one thing to
       the next, always interweaving the various threads  just  enough  to
       make  you want to find out what's happening in all of them at once.
       Of course, the main thread deals with  Miles  and  Ekaterin,  which
       involves  both  romance AND political intrigue, and when we finally
       arrive at the climactic scenes at the Council of Counts,  I  really
       found  myself rooting for Miles and Ekaterin.  And laughing my tail
       end off.  I think you will too.  [-jak]

                                          Mark Leeper
                                          HO 1K-644 732-817-5619