Orange County Science Fiction Club Orange County Science Fiction Club

Past Meetings

---- 2013 ----

November 27, 2013

  • Guest/program: No guest that evening so we watched the film "Chrysalis", an obscure release from 2008 that is based on a Ray Bradbury short story.

    Dave's review: This film was so tedious, nonsensical and pretentious that I thought it had been made in the 70’s. It was paced at a rate that made "Silent Running" look like an action movie. There were excuses for bad 70’s movies: we were trying new things, we had an over-inflated sense of our own importance; but how can anybody in this video literate age make something with such clunky dialog?

  • November 2013 READING ORBIT- OCSFC Book Club:

    This month's book was Night Train To Rigel (2005)
    by Timothy Zahn

    Suggested by Jamie Cassidy-Curtis

    The myriad worlds hosting intelligent life are tied together by the Quadrail, an interstellar transport system run by the enigmatic Spiders. Transport of weapons or military equipment isn't allowed, but someone, somewhere, appears to have found a way around the prohibition. The Spiders hire cashiered government investigator Frank Compton to discover how and what threat it constitutes.

    The group liked the book to varying degrees. It's strengths were that it had a good mystery, interesting aliens and exotic locals, and moved at a steady clip. It's demerits were a certain laziness in execution. While the major ideas were interesting, there was a blandness to the details and a surprising degree of anachronism for a 2005 novel.

    Good Space Opera. It's an easy read; the sort of book that's good for filling in the blank spots in an airline flight. Those of you who read Star Wars novels would be familiar with the style of writing. The author has produced a number in the series.

    Availability: Amazon: cheap, Kindle: $7.60

    352 pages
    Pub. 2005

October 30, 2013

  • Guest/program:

    Dante Renta, a collector of monster masks, shared his passion with us. He had a row of them displayed across the front of the room, attracting a great deal of attention from the waitresses, and talked about how his passion evolved from his first fascination with them as a boy, how he went on to collect them and even commission new ones. It seems a lot of his desire came from not being able to afford the good ones he saw as a boy.

  • October 2013 READING ORBIT- OCSFC Book Club:
    This month's book was 'Salem's Lot (1975)
    by Stephen King

    Suggested by Catherine Curley

    Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem's Lot in the hopes that living in an old mansion, long the subject of town lore, will help him cast out his own devils and provide inspiration for his new book. But when two young boys venture into the woods and only one comes out alive, Mears begins to realize that there may be something sinister at work and that his hometown is under siege by forces of darkness far beyond his control.

    The group's affection for this book ranged from mild to intense, but even the person who liked it the most felt will never be the classic that Anne Rice's Interview With a Vampire will be.

    While the rest of us enjoyed the book (Stephen King's great strength is the readability of his prose), we found parts annoying. There are plot holes. Some of the character's actions we had trouble believing, and some scenes felt contrived.

    The structure also did not seem to work well. The book starts off with an omniscient look at the lives of characters in a small Maine town. In Steven King's hands, this is an engaging exercise, but it does not seem to have much to do with the later half of the book, which is the story of the spread of vampirism. Most of these characters finish up as vampires, but aside from getting fanged, they don't contribute much more to the story.

    The book then goes into tighter focus as Ben Mears fights the vampires, so it almost feels as if there are two books grafted onto each other.

    Some of our group also found the ending unsatisfactory.

    Availability: Braille AnaPL OCPL FullPL LAPL Amazon-u $4.00

    672 pages
    Pub. 1975

September 25, 2013

  • Guest/program: We had an open OCSF meeting mainly discussing how we were going to fill Dick’s shoes.

  • September 2013 READING ORBIT- OCSFC Book Club:

    This month's book was The Fixed Period (1882)
    by Anthony Trollope

    Suggested by Catherine Curley

    Published just before his death, this satirical dystopia, set in the 1980's, postulates an independent country off the coast of New Zealand called Britannula. In Britannula a law has been passed decreeing that all citizens who reach the age of 67 must undergo euthanasia for the good of society. What happens when the first and oldest man reaches the end of his "Fixed Period" and must prepare for his "humane" death is a fascinating study in social and moral impossibility.

    Yes, Anthony Trollope wrote a Science Fiction novel; although, the trappings of science fiction should not be taken too seriously. 1980, the year in which the book is 1880 with the addition of steam tricycles, hair phones and bigger guns.

    The book is a social satire along the lines of Johnathan Swift's A Modest Proposal. Trollop was 67 at the time at the book incorporates his thinking on old-age and death. With his sharp observations of social mores, he shows the inherent madness of Social Darwinism taken to its logical conclusion, how greed and self interest distort any proposal, no matter how well meaning.

    Dave found the best discussion of the book online at Strange Horizons.

    So how did the group like it. Is this book more than a historical curiosity? Well, reaction was mixed, and whether you would considered reading would depend on the relative weighing you give it pluses and minuses.

    On the plus side, it has delicious moments of dark, deadpan, satire. This reaches its height in the cricket match chapter with its steam bowlers and 1000 run innings. Unfortunately, to get the most out of it, you have to know cricket. But the foibles of human nature and Victorian society are on full display for your amusement.

    Much of the enjoyment of the story was destroyed by its long-winded nature, long winded even by the Victorian age's leisure pace of storyteller. There was one part near the end where the author promises to give a brief description of a character. One page later I'm glad he didn't give a full description. The basic story is that of a short story or novella expanded with great repetition. Part of this is because it was originally published in installments in Blackwood's Magazine in 1881-82, so a certain amount of recapitulation was necessary to help the reader; however, read as one, this results in tedium.

    The story's great strength though is in showing how a series of logical assumptions can lead to a ridiculous and even evil conclusion, so this still gives it much relevance to today's world.

    Availability: Amazon: $8.00, Kindle: free. Nook: $2.99

    Also free online at:

    Project Gutenberg and

    Forgotten Books

    150 pages
    Pub. 1882

August 28, 2013

  • Guest/program:

    Tim Kirk
    a famous award winning broad-spectrum Media Designer/Artist with extensive experience in a broad media spectrum, from book and magazine illustrations to theme park and museum exhibit designs.

    Tim’s paintings based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings appeared in the 1975 Tolkien Calendar, published by Ballantine Books. His illustrations have appeared in a wide variety of books, magazines and fanzines; he has produced artwork for greeting cards, comics, web sites, jigsaw puzzles, costume design and character concepts for fantasy role playing games.

    Tim is a five-time winner of the prestigious Hugo Award for science fiction illustration.

    For 22 years, Tim was employed as an Imagineer by the Walt Disney Company. He contributed significantly to several major Disney theme park projects, including Epcot Center, Pleasure Island and the Disney-MGM Studio Tour (Florida), Disneyland (Anaheim) and Tokyo DisneySea , the second gated theme park for the Tokyo Disney Resort—which opened in 2001.

    Tim was a concept artist on The Haunted Mansion (2003), a Disney feature film based on the theme park attraction of the same name.

    In partnership with his brother and sister-in-law (also Disney veterans), Tim created Kirk Design Incorporated in 2002. specializing in themed concept and exhibit design for museums, theme parks, restaurants and retail, with a strong emphasis on immersive, innovative storytelling; recently completed projects include the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle (2004), the Parsonage of Aimee Semple McPherson in Los Angeles (April, 2006), and the Center for Water Education in Hemet, California (2007). Other clients include Walt Disney Imagineering (Tim has recently done work for the new Disney theme park in Shanghai and new concepts for Tokyo Disneyland), Thinkwell Design and Production, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach, California), and Ghirardelli Chocolate.

    Tim’s work is included in the new Greisinger Museum in Switzerland dedicated to J.R.R. Tolkien.

    Tim Kirk is a third generation Southern California native. He is a graduate of California State University at Long Beach, with a master’s degree in illustration.

  • August 2013 READING ORBIT- OCSFC Book Club:

    This month's book was How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe (2010)
    by Charles Yu

    Suggested by Dave Moore

    Every day in Minor Universe 31 people get into time machines and try to change the past. That's where Charles Yu, time travel technician, steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he's not taking client calls, Yu visits his mother and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. The key to locating his father may be found in a book. It's called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and somewhere inside it is information that will help him. It may even save his life.

    In his first novel, Charles Yu uses Science Fiction metaphors to talk about life. The result is entertaining, in a twisted sort of way, humorous, and well written, but it doesn't have much of a plot, and the the main character is self-involved and whiny. The group's reaction was mixed depending on the weight they gave to its strengths and weaknesses. Those that liked the satire and the marvelous way the author conflated story theory and characters with Science Fiction tropes, in a way similar to Jasper Fforde tales, liked the book. Those who put more weight on plot and character found the story sterile, the main character weak, and description wordy and pretentious.

    Availability: Braille AnaPL OCPL FullPL LAPL Amazon $1.25

    256 pages
    Pub. 2010

July 31, 2013

  • Guest/program:

    Midge Ordonez

    (Dave reporting) We had an interesting guest at our OCSF club meeting. I didn't take any notes - too fascinated with Midge's account of her work. She was a representative of the Cinema Makeup School, an outfit in Hollywood that trains make-up artists. Artist is a valid name for these people. They not only have the craft-like skills of coloring to transform people for the camera, but they have to create masks for monsters and zombies and their like as well as digital designs for motion-capture creatures.

    Make-up artistry is a small and tightly knit community. Reputations and tales of pranks circulate world wide. (She described make-up artists as a group of people who have failed to grow up.) Her talk wasn’t structured: it covered a mixture of the school’s course curriculum, what the work is like, tricks of the trade, and on-set high-jinks.

    There are two main types of prosthetics: foam latex and silicone. Latex is lighter but soaks up moisture; silicone is heavier but is translucent and water resistant. There are different types of glue. You have to worry about allergies, and there are severe limitations to the use of prosthetics on children and animals. After the talk, I took a look at her kit. She carries a large shoulder bag of gear: a cloth roll with pockets for brushes, smaller ones for painting, large ones for blush and powder, pots of make-up paint (there’s a set for bruise colors), and spray bottles, one with 99% propanol and the others with lotion in them.

  • July 2013 READING ORBIT- OCSFC Book Club:
    This month's book was The Demolished Man (1953)
    by Alfred Bester

    Suggested by Jamie Cassidy-Curtis

    In a world policed by telepaths, Ben Reich plans to commit a crime that hasn't been heard of in 70 years: murder. That's the only option left for Reich, whose company is losing a 10-year death struggle with rival D'Courtney Enterprises. Terrorized in his dreams by The Man With No Face and driven to the edge after D'Courtney refuses a merger offer, Reich murders his rival and bribes a high-ranking telepath to help him cover his tracks. But while police prefect Lincoln Powell knows Reich is guilty, his telepath's knowledge is a far cry from admissible evidence. 1953 Hugo award.

    When this book came out it was regarded as a masterwork. Aside from a solid treatment of telepathy, such themes as all powerful corporations, drug use to relieve psychological strain, AIs are woven together to produce a dystopian future in a world building that was head and shoulders above most its contemporaries. Many of the book's themes and techniques had influenced later works, which built on Bester's ideas.

    The problem is that the reader of today is not coming to these ideas fresh, so the novelty of them has worn off; they've be done better elsewhere.

    Bester also bought to this story a play with typographic layout and a hip, punchy dialog. This would have been dazzling when it came out, but such things seem pretentious now and give it a dated feel. Also from the period is a thoroughly Freudian cast to the characters' motivation, which makes them unbelievable now.

    All of this did not enamor the book to our reader's group. The story has aged to become an acquired taste. If you are a fan of “Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?” then this book will appeal to you. If you are not, then the book should be read as an historical and literary study.

    Availability: Braille AnaPL OCPL LAPL Amazon $3

    256 pages
    Pub. 1953

June 26, 2013

  • Guest/program: Open Meeting, no guest. (Tim Kirk will come at a later date.)

    This month's book is Inherit the Earth (Future History) by Brian Stableford

    Brian Stableford is a prolific and highly regarded British SF writer so we'd thought we'd give him a go.

    Suggested by John Bowen

    All Damon Hart wanted was to be his own man. Being the son of Conrad "Savior of Humanity" Helier didn't leave a lot of room for Hart's own life, so he abandoned his family, his heritage, and his money. But when the past starts catching up with him, and the people he loves start getting hurt, Hart has no alternative but to accept the responsibility of his ancestry.

    Was his father, the inventor of the artificial womb, a savior or an evil madman? And who is the self-appointed judge executing retribution on everyone related to Helier?

    Availability: Braille AnaPL LAPL Amazon cheap

    320 pages
    Pub. 1998.

May 29, 2013

  • Guest/program: Author Tessa Dick

    Tessa B. Dick, has been selling and publishing her stories, poems, articles, photographs and novels since 1969.

    Her book The Owl In Daylight

    is a rare and notable collectable inspired by the last book Philip was working on.

    Her book
    Origins, Part One: Thor's Hammer was nominated for the Philip K. Dick award.

    She has a BA in Communications and an MA in English Lit. from Chapman.

    Tessa taught English for 12 years and was the fifth wife of Philip K. Dick.

    A short story by Tessa featuring Philip as a character appeared in the Orange Pulp #7 (Nov 1987).

    This month's book is The Masque Of Mañana by Robert Sheckley

    Suggested by Jamie Cassidy-Curtis & Will Morton

    This collection of Sheckley's short stories was brought out the year of his death, and although it includes some sober entries (e.g., "A Wind Is Rising"), it is clear that Sheckley is one of sf's all-time masters of the humorous or satirical short story. "The Lifeboat Mutiny" represents Sheckley's classic Triple A Ace Interplanetary Decontamination Agency at its risible best (all the other stories of that agency are here, too). "Pilgrimage to Earth" presents an edgy version of the farm-boy-(from a far colony)-in-the-big-city (a decadent Earth) scenario, and "Skulking Permit," "Gray Flannel Armor," "Fool's Mate" are excellent places to begin an acquaintance with Sheckley.

    Availability: OCPL LAPL Amazon $5

    576 pages
    Pub. 2005.

April 24, 2013

  • Guest/program: Open meeting with the short videos of "Huell Howser Visits Forrey's Ackermansion" and the rocket launch of the NASA Aeres.


    April's book is Holy Fire by Bruce Sterling

    Suggested by Dave Moore

    In an era when life expectancies stretch 100 years or more and adhering to healthy habits is the only way to earn better medical treatments, ancient "post humans" dominate society with their ubiquitous wealth and power. By embracing the safe and secure, 94-year-old Mia Ziemann has lived a long and quiet life. Too quiet, as she comes to realize, for Mia has lost the creative drive and ability to love--the holy fire--of the young.

    Availability: Braille AnaPL OCPL FullPL LAPL Amazon cheap

    368 pages
    Pub. 1997.

March 27, 2013

  • Guest/program: Videos to be announced

    We didn't have a guest speaker for our March meeting. We had a bit more talk and then selected a video, Invaders From Mars, to watch.

    This month's book is Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison

    Suggested by Dave Moore

    The world is crowded. Far too crowded. Its starving billions live on lentils, moya beans, and "if they’re lucky"the odd starving rat. In a New York City groaning under the burden of 35 million inhabitants, detective Andy Rusch is engaged in a desperate and lonely hunt for a killer everyone has forgotten. For even in a world such as this, a policeman can find himself utterly alone..

    Availability: Braille AnaPL LAPL Amazon $4.47

    288 pages
    Pub. 1966

February 27, 2013

  • Guest/program: Author, Publisher, Book Seller James Van Hise

    James from 1989 when he attended a talk by Stephen King.

    James Van Hise has written many books on Star Trek, from Classic to Enterprise for Star Trek fandom. He also writes about Science Fiction in film, television, and comic history.

    He created and edited the Star Trek fan magazine Enterprise Incidents during the 70s and in the 80s and 90s, he published a number of popular reference guides..

    Van Hise also submitted "Deadworld", a script idea for Star Trek: The Next Generation .

    Van Hise:

    "I wrote the story in 1987 at the behest of a mutual friend of Gerd Oswald. Oswald had directed a couple of Star Trek episodes in the sixties and I'd spoken to him while he was directing an episode of the new Twilight Zone for CBS when I visited that studio in 1986. Oswald was looking for a story he could take to Paramount for The Next Generation which he could attach himself to as the director. He read this outline but rejected it as being 'too depressing.' I told my friend that Gerd, who was then in his seventies, was obviously a man who had never come to terms with his own mortality. Gerd Oswald died two years later of cancer."

    James is also a publisher and book seller.

    Click Here to visit his web-site

    This month's book is Barefoot in the Head by Brian W Aldiss

    Suggested by John Bowen

    A tale of a future world recovering from a holocaust of hallucinogenic chemical weapons. For the victims, reality is a fluid mixture of the real the imaginary and the nightmarish, the past, present and future.

    Colin Charteris, the hero and anti-hero on this continually disintegrating stage, has not himself survived the cataclysm unscathed, and his gradual descent into fantastic and paranoid visions will have drastic consequences for civilization.

    Perhaps Aldiss's most experimental work, this first appeared in several parts as the 'Acid Head War' series in New Worlds. Set in a Europe some years after a flare-up in the Middle East led to Europe being attacked with bombs releasing huge quantities of long-lived hallucinogenic drugs. Into an England with a population barely maintaining a grip on reality comes a young Serb, who himself starts coming under the influence of the ambient aerosols, and finds himself leading a messianic crusade.

    The narration and dialogue reflects the shattering of language under the influence of the drugs, in mutating phrases and puns and allusions, in a deliberate echo of Finnegans Wake

    Availability:LAPL Amazon cheap

    236 pages
    Pub. 1969.

January 30, 2013

  • Guest/program: Michael Kogge and Daniel Keys Moran

    Michael Kogge

    Daniel Keys Moran

    Michael put together a short story collection of new stories about Barsoom, Edgar Rice Burroughs' version of Mars.
    Michael and Daniel both have a stories in it.

    Michael Kogge's TV pilot ‘Hunt’, about a San Antonio bondsman and Salvadoran police officer, recently placed in the top ten of the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards out of 5,000 submitted scripts. He has written for Lucasfilm, Blizzard, Studio 407, and Topps, has a comic book series being published in 2013, and has placed in the Nicholls Screenwriting Fellowships. His writing combines history, adventure, and culture to reflect the interests and dynamics of a diverse America.

    Daniel wrote 7 + books about 15 years ago and then dropped out to raise a family. He is really a computer guy. Says he is back to writing now.

    This month's book is SPIN by Robert Charles Wilson

    Suggested by Dave Moore

    One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier.

    He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives. The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk--a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world's artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they'd been in space far longer than their known lifespans.

    As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, a space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside--more than a hundred million years per year on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future.

    Availability: Braille AnaPL LAPL Amazon cheap

    464 pages
    Pub. 2006.

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