The Official Newsletter of the Washington Science Fiction
Association -- ISSN 0894-5411
Edited by Samuel Lubell firstname.lastname@example.org
Library of Congress: What If
Letters to the Journal
Live From Balticon 34
2000 Hugo Awards and John W Campbell Nomination List
Top Signs Your Cat Has Been Replaced By A Robot
Edited by Samuel Lubell email@example.com
James H. Schmitz's Telzey Amberdon (Baen: $6.99)
Reviewed by Samuel Lubell
Older Science Fiction, especially in the 50s and 60s was a male genre, with male authors writing about muscular men shooting aliens and battling starships. Women (Susan Calvin being a rare exception) generally were part of the scenery, there either to be rescued or a reward for the hero. Even the rare female hero had to be an exception to her own society's rules, for example the four female Children of the Lens. But this was not the case in the fiction of James H. Schmitz, who wrote strong female characters in a society full of them. And his best was Telzey Amberdon, a psi whose extraordinary telepathy caused her to have all sorts of adventures in the far-future, galaxy spanning Federation of the Hub.
These stories were collected into three books, The Universe Against Her, The Lion Game which were assembled to appear as novels, and The Telzey Toy which collected four additional stories. The books were reprinted in the 1980s and then have been out of print since (as has the author generally except for a NESFA Press edition of the Best of James H. Schmitz) And, despite the original popularity of this series, some of the later Telzey stories have never appeared in print, until now. Eric Flint somehow talked Baen Books into letting him edit the complete Hub stories of James Schmitz in four volumes. Telzey Amberdon is the first of these, containing the contents of The Universe Against Her, The Lion Game, the never before reprinted story "Poltergeist," plus two non-Telzey stories. The Internet has been abuzz with complaints about the editing on this book, which include chopping out a third of "Poltergeist" and tampering with the ending of "Undercurrents" (which was the bulk of The Universe Against Her). My own opinion is that, while I would have preferred to have the stories presented as the author originally intended (or at least an appendix describing what was left out and why (I'd settle for a web-page with the cuts restored)), I'd rather have the stories available in a trimmed form than not at all. If the editor thought it necessary to make changes so these books would appeal to a modern audience, then the price was worth it.
The book starts with the first Telzey story in which the heroine is described as "Fifteen years old, genius level, brown as a berry and not at all bad looking in her sunbriefs, she was the youngest member of one of Orado's most prominent families and a second-year law student at one of the most exclusive schools in the Federation of the Hub. Her physical, mental, and emotional health, she'd always been informed, were excellent." In this story, she reveals incredible competency as she gradually develops the ability to understand the "crest cats" of a vacation planet and plots to use her law expertise to save them. But her powers develop further than the cats, whose attempts at communication had stimulated her abilities, intended. She is able to use these powers to save her college roommate from killers, stop a telepathic serial killer, and ultimately defeat an invasion by genetically engineered aliens in a very complex plot.
Schmitz wasn't known for his style. His prose does the job and nothing more. But his characters are fun people to be with through their interesting adventures. Telzey's main quality (common to all his heroines) is an ability to triumph over everything that life sends her, grabbing every chance to make a difference and exploiting every mistake made by her opponents. In short, this book is not deep but fun. It makes an excellent starter to hook teenage girls on science fiction and is very enjoyable for adults as well.
A second book of Telzey stories (focusing on her adventures with Trigger Argee) which should include the stories from The Telzey Toy plus the uncollected stories (and possibly a couple of semi-related stories) should be out in a few months. I strongly recommend that anyone interested in classic sf pick up these books. In today's publishing environment, fans need to show publishers that there are readers interested in keeping classic sf in-print.
Minutes of the April 7th (first Friday) WSFA meeting at Gillilands' taken by Joe Mayhew
Chaired by Treasurer Bob MacIntosh. Attending: Nicki & Rich Lynch, Alexis & Trustee Lee Gilliland, Lee Strong, Michael Nelson, Bernard Bell, MM Disclave Chair Covert Beach, Keith
Lynch, Joe Rauscher, Lance Oszko, Coleen Cahill, Keith Marshall, George Shaner, Sheri Bell, Eric Jablow, Madelaine Yeh, Walter Miles.
Bob MacIntosh called to meeting to order at 9:16. Joe Mayhew, an actual RC tonsured cleric took down these few notes. No business was transacted.
LIBRARY COMMITTEE: Lee Gilliland reported that her contact person had vanished in a Arlington Library Pogrom, and that she'd try to do something. Libraries seem less and less about books these days.
TRUSTEE'S SLATE. As the only Trustee present, Lee said she'd try to get a slate together over the phone and arched a lovely eyebrow.
CHICON 2000 HUGO ADMINISTRATOR Michael Nelson, supported by his able team of Covert Beach and Bob MacIntosh, announced that 407 valid nomination forms had been turned in, and they expected to have the full ballot public by Balticon Weekend (a.k.a "Easter"). Mike had a mysterious conference first with Joe Mayhew (because he got there before the Lynchi) and then with Rich and Nicki, caused speculation and unofficial best wishes to be extended to those so outed.
MIMOSA: Copies of #25 were distributed to contributors and were available from Rich and Nick for $4.00 -and well worth it!
The meeting was adjourned at 9:33.
By Colleen Cahill
May 8, 2000 Carole Nelson Douglas, author of the Midnight Louie mystery
12:10pm series and also author of fantasy, science fiction and
Pickford Theater romance novels will speak on "Confessions of a Literary
Madison Building Chameleon"
June 14, 2000 Delia Marshall Turner, author of Nameless Magery and
12:10pm Of Swords and Spells, will speak on "Nameless,
Pickford Theater Unfamiliar, and Nevermind: Writing Science Fantasy"
June 28, 2000 David Brin, author of The Postman and many other novels
12:30pm will speak on a topic to be announced.
The posting of last month's April Fool's "Forthcoming Books" on the Internet spawned a long discussion as several members said that the idea about a photo book on "Galaxy Quest" the series was "such a good idea, it's literally not funny, just frustrating." After several others posted saying they'd like to see the book too, John Ordover, the Executive Editor for Star Trek Fiction at Pocket Books wrote, "Already pitched it in-house. CQ just didn't pull in the numbers to make it work, plus a photo book is very expensive. Sorry, gang. J I want to read it too. J."
Boston Lensmen Bid for a Worldcon
In an apparent attempt to conquer the world (or at least a worldcon), the forces of Boskon and Arisia have joined forces to bid for the 64th World Science Fiction Convention in Boston over Labor day. The bid includes the Sheraton Boston, Copley Marriot, and the Hynes Convention Center. They claim that the hotels pursued them as new hotels and convention centers are changing the market for hotel space. Their website is www.mcfi.org. The info they sent did not state how much the hotels would charge.
By Keith Lynch
At the urging of our secretary, and for the benefit of the two or three WSFA members who weren't at Balticon 34, here's my report on that recent convention:
Balticon was held over Easter weekend, for perhaps the last time. Next year it's moving to Memorial Day weekend, and growing an additional day. Rumors have it that some other local con recently gave up that weekend.
It was in the Baltimore Omni Inner Harbor Hotel, as it had been for the past five years, and sporadically before that. It will be in the same place next year.
The move to Memorial Day means the pool will be open for next year's con. However, the pool will only be open during daylight hours, and only for people with room keys.
I left my apartment at about noon on Friday. I walked to the local Metro station, and took Metro to Union Station in DC. There was much talk on the train about a fire in the tunnel we were passing through that had happened the previous day, hospitalizing several passengers and delaying service for hours. However, that mess had evidently been fixed and cleaned up, as there were no delays and no signs of damage.
From Union Station I took the Marc train to Penn Station in Baltimore. In prior years I walked to the con hotel from there. But since it was raining I took the Baltimore light rail for the first time ever. It was an interesting cross between a Metro system and a bus system. The Lexington Market stop got me within a block of the front door of the hotel, which I further decreased by slipping in through the dealer's room door, which was propped open. And which led me directly to registration, where, as soon as I got my badge via the short pre- registration line, Joe Mayhew promptly put me to work at the at-the- door registration table, where I worked behind a terminal from 3:30 until 6. (The lack of the walk caused me to arrive earlier than I planned.)
Joe gave each of us a hand-lettered WSFA badge. Perhaps I'll wear it to more cons.
I was actually scheduled to work registration later. But that's ok, as the club's other Keith was scheduled to work earlier, but didn't arrive at the con until later, so we traded places.
Fortunately, the task didn't require much training. The person sitting next to me showed me how to do it. Ten minutes later, when a new person sat down on the other side of me, I showed him how to do it.
The only complication was when I entered the name of someone who had an apostrophe in their name, and the computer program blew up. And wouldn't let me restart it without a password. For which I had to call someone else over. Who had to make a call on his cell phone.
At least the con wasn't infested with walkie talkies like last January's Evecon at Tysons, where the constant squelches and unintelligible bursts of distorted speech gave the place the atmosphere of a disaster area. I doubt I'll be going to Fantek's other con, Castlecon, in July. I'll probably go to Evecon again in December, simply because it's the closest any con has ever been to my apartment in over a decade. Closer than parts of the Glasgow Worldcon were to other parts of the same Worldcon. So close I didn't even bother to bike there, but walked instead.
At one point we started getting complaints that the signage was unclear, causing people to wait in the long line for paying money and picking up their badge without having gone by the table with the terminals first, only to learn that they'd have to go through the same line again.
During my stint at the tables, it started really pouring outside, with thunder and lightning. I was glad to be indoors, and I didn't leave the hotel all weekend. The power stayed on, and didn't even flicker.
I was pleased to see plenty of people for whom this was obviously their first con. I don't think there would have been nearly as many had the con been in a distant suburb, nowhere near transit.
I spent most of the con just hanging out in the con suite, room parties, and other places. And engaging in conversations on every imaginable topic: Past and future Worldcons and other cons. The advantages and disadvantages of having the propeller at the front or the back of an airplane. Infrared photography. Whether the earth's rotation is slowing down and why. Shackleton's Antarctic journeys, the recent reprints of his books on that subject, and what he meant by "farinaceous matter" (carbohydrate). How the comet or asteroid killed the dinosaurs, whether one like it could do the same to us, and whether it would be better to blow it up or leave it in one piece. Dichromatic and trichromatic lenses. Whether our calendar is seriously out of whack. Whether liquid oxygen is attracted by magnets. Whether a Dyson sphere could be constructed which would radiate no waste heat. Whether there's enough matter in our solar system to build a rotating cylinder that reaches to another solar system. What is the oldest scientific instrument still in use. The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. Canada vs. the US. Whether there could have been civilizations on our planet eons ago (intelligent dinosaurs?) and if so, what we would expect to find in the fossil record. What would be left of our artifacts after a few geological ages. The remains of a nuclear reactor in Africa that were dated to 1500 million years old, and whether this could have really been a natural reactor as some claim. The way that in movies fruit stands always attract speeding cars. The way that the decreasing number of clotheslines is causing a similar decline in the number of biplanes. (Since as any movie-goer knows, any clothesline will be snagged by a passing biplane.) Canadian bi-metallic coins, why they are said to feature an "obscene queen," and how it's possible to remove or reverse the center piece.
Speaking of coins, I received my first Maryland-backed quarters at Balticon, which is appropriate. I checked the schedule for upcoming quarters, and the schedule for upcoming cons, and a similar coincidence isn't likely at any other con I'll be going to. Certainly not at any upcoming or proposed Worldcon.
There was an Internet kiosk on the main floor of the hotel. 25 cents per minute, bills or credit cards. I didn't use it, but I saw several other people using it. About half of them were using telnet. I'm pleased to see that those kiosks are starting to support telnet. To me, the net without telnet isn't really the net, it's just a bunch of pretty pictures you can look at.
There also appeared to be some kind of Internet access in the hotel rooms. At least I can't think of any other reason why TV sets would be equipped with full keyboards.
There was a computer game room on the Cabana level, in which people were playing multi-player first-person-shooter video games similar to Doom but more advanced, and with eye-popping graphics. Some of the background scenery was not just realistic, but actually beautiful.
At 8 pm on Friday was a WSFA meeting in the Peale room downstairs. Some people may have missed it due to the Peale room not being shown on the Friday grid in the program book. (It wasn't in the Sunday grid either, but was on Saturday's. Similarly with the Douglass room.) John Pomeranz made liquid nitrogen ice cream, and used the left over liquid nitrogen to shatter pennies. President Judy said that satisfies our education requirement for the year.
John promises to do the same thing on the Fourth of July. I suggested he also get some liquid oxygen, and use it to light his barbecue grill. Also liquid oxygen is magnetic and is a colorful pale blue, unlike liquid nitrogen. It's also a lot cheaper than liquid helium, which is another really cool substance. So to speak.
Due to a mis-communication, I was left without crash space. So I sprang for a hotel room on both Friday and Saturday nights.
Is it just me, or does $128 seem like an extraordinary amount of money for six hours sleep and two hot showers? I don't need all that space, or a TV set, or a window. I wish they had cheap coffin-sized beds, with lockers and communal showers, like I've heard they have in Japan. If you're not throwing a room party, and if you don't have thousands of books with you, who needs all that space? At least I helped make the con more attractive to the hotel, I suppose.
Are hotels intended for the rich? They all seem to have the trappings of luxury. Chandeliers, polished brass, teak, rosewood, wall-to-wall carpeting, doormen dressed in livery, valet parking, etc. Where are regular people supposed to stay when travelling? It was a sensory relief to get into the stairwells, service corridors, loading dock, etc, as those look and feel more "real," like they're meant for regular people like me.
On Saturday at 10 I went to the panel "Borderlands of Science," a talk by Charles Sheffield. He was mostly talking about the orbital stability of ringworlds, Dyson spheres, etc.
At noon I went to "SETI - The Search Continues" by Paul Shuch. His talks are different every year. One year he concentrated on how ordinary people can search for extraterrestrial signals using a backyard dish antenna. Another year he talked about how one person attempted to fake having received a signal, and how the fakery was detected. This year he mostly talked about the new SETI@Home program, in which millions of PCs use their idle time to search recorded noise from Arecibo for possible signals. (I know that some WSFA members are running it.) One person mentioned that SETI@Home is not open source, and that growing numbers of users won't download or run anything that isn't open source. Plus, if it were open source, lots of people would improve the software, so that it would run faster, and detect fainter signals. Dr. Shuch objected that that would make it too easy for someone to fake having received a signal.
Later at the con I asked open source guru Eric Raymond about this. He immediately responded that there was an easy way to prevent such fraud. But a moment later he changed his mind, and said it was a tricky problem.
Dr. Shuch seems to believe that extraterrestrial life is a near- certainty, and that if we haven't detected them yet, it's only because we haven't looked hard enough. I think it's quite possible that some process in the creation of life (or multi-cellular life, or intelligent life, or technological life) is so extraordinarily rare that it can be expected to have happened only once. (At least we finally know that planets aren't rare, though it's still possible that earth-like planets are.) This would explain why aliens didn't take over the solar system eons ago, and dismantle it for parts. Which seems like the sort of thing we will do in a few centuries, assuming our population and our technological capabilities continue to grow by even one percent per year. One percent compounded over a few thousand years is a truly astronomical number (no pun intended), no matter how small the starting value. And pre-history stretches back billions of years. So why aren't they here?
But I agree with Dr. Shuch that it's worth listening. Someone might be out there after all. You never know unless you look.
The only other scheduled event I attended on Saturday was the trivia quiz at 8 pm (listed in the grid as 7 pm), run by Brick Barrientos, who has run this before, at both Balticon and Disclave. And perhaps at other cons too. There were six contestants, outnumbering the audience. We were divided into three teams of two people each. My team made third place.
I prefer participatory events such as that. If I'm going to be one of hundreds of people attending a panel or a talk, I might as well be reading the content in a book or on a web page. The only point in being there in person is the two-way interaction. That's why my favorite scheduled events at cons are the kaffeclatches, in which a small number of people can sign up to talk with an author for an hour. These are common at Worldcons now. There weren't any at Balticon. I'm going to suggest that Balticon try them.
Doug Humphrey was briefly at the con on Saturday afternoon. He told me about some of the new toys he's bought, including a 120 foot British WWII gun boat which he's trying to get through customs.
There was a stack of audio tapes on the freebie table, which is unusual. I took one out of curiosity. When I got home, I listened for about 30 seconds before my bogometer went way off the scale. It's by a Nobel prize winner named Flanagan -- someone my World Almanac seems to have neglected to list in its supposedly complete list of Nobel laureates. It's about a nutritional breakthrough that involves negative hydrogen ions, and dividing mineral supplements into very tiny particles to make them more effective. One pill is the equivalent of 10,000 glasses of orange juice. I decided I had heard enough, and couldn't stand any more. At least cassettes can easily be erased and reused, unlike perfectly good paper that has been permanently ruined by the inappropriate application of ink.
Also on the freebie table was a solicitation for con listings, by condex.net. They said they only had two con listings so far. Sounds like they weren't trying very hard. I can find a hundred con listings in less than an hour.
Friday and Saturday nights, Charlotte in 2004 (the year the locusts will return) ran a bid party. Saturday night, so did Boston in 2004. There were several other parties, but no other Worldcon bid parties. I learned that New York has withdrawn their bid for 2004. Toronto looks like a sure win for 2003. The UK is still unopposed for 2005, and Dallas still has 2006 to themselves. I've heard rumors that Australia is aiming for 2007.
There was a Millennium Philcon table, at which I picked up my PR#2, saving them the cost of postage.
On Saturday evening was the masquerade. Presumably not everyone who wanted to see it could fit into the room, as it was simultaneously shown on two TV sets, one inside the con suite, and one immediately outside the con suite at the bottom of the spiral stairs. The rest of the weekend, the TV inside the con suite was showing a variety of movies, including Willow, Betelgeuse, Men in Black, and The Matrix.
There was also gaming, filking, an anime room, and a video room at Balticon, but I didn't participate in those events, so I can't say much about them. Except that the anime room ran 24 hours a day, unlike any other program item.
Late Saturday night, a bum got into the con suite, and started begging for "spare change". Apparently the glass doors near the con suite had been left propped open by people slipping out for a smoke. He left before security arrived.
At about 10 am on Sunday, a fire alarm went off in part of the hotel, and two fire trucks arrived. It was immediately realized that this was because a message board had fallen, or had been put back up too roughly, and that there was no fire, so nobody was evacuated.
On Sunday morning I went to Catherine Asaro's talk on NASA's Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Programs. I found it interesting that NASA is funding FTL research, but other than that I learned nothing new from the talk, and left halfway through.
At noon I went to a reading by the guest of honor, Octavia Butler. Instead of reading verbatim from her work, she discussed it, and just read snippets. I like this better than being left hanging halfway through a reading, and not being able to find out what happens next until the book or magazine is printed in a year or two. She was also open to questions.
I haven't read her work, but it's apparently set in a dystopian near future, and focusses on a religion which seems like a cross between environmentalism and a sort of generic eastern mysticism. She did say she hopes that nobody would try and start that religion in real life, since they'd just go and spoil it. She emphasized that her name is not L. Ron Hubbard.
At 2 pm was "How to Ruin a Con". Basically a recital of horror stories by con chairs. Not just anything that went wrong at a con was fair game, but only things that were caused by, or could have been prevented by, the con staff. A guest of honor being stranded at an airport. Or being given the runaround as to where to pick up their badge. Con staff determined to make the con chair look bad, and vice versa. Fire sprinklers at 5 am. The last Timecon and breaking rule six. Con staff who have no idea what the responsibilities of their position are, and con chairs who don't check up on them until too late.
It wasn't publicized or mentioned in any way, but it was possible to register for next year's Balticon for $30 on Sunday. I did so. Wait until Monday and it jumped to $35.
The last scheduled event was the traditional gripe session. There were few complaints. I suggested that if nine pitchers of water are to be placed on a table (as they were), that at least one of them contain no ice. Surely I'm not the only one who finds ice water too cold to drink? It's like battery acid.
One man in a wheelchair was unhappy that the handicapped rooms were all on upper floors, as that makes it harder to get an elevator. After the con staff said there was nothing they could do about which rooms the hotel chooses to modify for handicap access, I suggested that all the able-bodied fans use the stairs whenever possible. It not only keeps the elevators available for those who really need them, but it's good exercise. I wasn't in an elevator all weekend (except for the freight elevator, during teardown).
(Since I get so little exercise at cons (given that I'm accustomed to bicycling or walking several hours a day) I eat very little food during cons. During Balticon I ate nothing except occasional munchies from the con suite and the evening parties. Nevertheless, I gained weight.)
Another complaint was that the dealer room closed at 6 on Saturday, while the program book said it would be open until 8. Everyone with a one day membership who complained about this at the time was given a free extension through Sunday. This was a good way to handle it.
Someone suggested moving the art show to somewhere smaller, to free up space for something else. It was explained that the art show this year was more sparse than usual since Imaginecon in Virginia Beach was the same weekend. But that this wouldn't happen again next year.
I worked for several hours at teardown. Everything had to be taken apart and put on a truck. Since only two people were loading the truck itself, and they wouldn't let anyone else help lest we mess it up, stuff accumulated on the loading dock, and I was kept busy keeping the stuff from being pushed off. The only casualty was one dot matrix printer, which developed a rattle after falling upside down onto concrete. But it still might work.
The downstairs connected to the loading dock seems to be unconnected to the downstairs that included the con suite, even though they're presumably on the same level. I had a hard time finding a way to get back upstairs from the loading dock without setting off alarms. Finally, an employee showed me a way. To my surprise, there was a water fountain at the top of those stairs. At least I'll know that there is one, and where, next year. Later, Keith Marshall showed me another non-alarmed stairway.
As far as I know, the truck wasn't driven to the BSFS clubhouse until Monday, so I didn't get a chance to once again see that place, and what changes they've made in the past year.
After the dead dog party, Keith Marshall gave me a ride home. I got home at midnight.
It is fortunate that Balticon 34 is never referred to using Roman numerals, lest web sites mentioning it be blocked as were web sites mentioning the like-numbered Superbowl.
I enjoyed Balticon 34, and I look forward to Balticon 35.
By Elspeth Kovar
As Covert has, I believe, announced his intention to hold an event this fall it is time to start the process of electing his successor. There are some things which should be taken into consideration:
S/he should have run at least one convention. It is always more difficult to start a convention from scratch, which is essentially what we are doing, than it is to continue an established convention. While folks have done it, we have enough experienced people that it would be foolish not to use, er, take advantage of, (one more try) elect our resources.
S/he should be aware of what the job will entail and be willing to make the commitment. (This is no slur on our recent chairs; they were all elected when we had an ongoing convention.) I would personally suggest that we elect someone who isn't going to get bogged down in theory or make radical changes from what has worked in the past. The latter requires definition but, from everything that I've heard and seen, could be described as a primarily social gathering for people who love to read. A definition which leaves plenty of leeway.
S/he should have the capability to inspire people to the effort required to accomplish actually hosting a convention or should be, simultaneously, a one-person concom, staff, gofer squad and cheer-leading section.
Since I doubt that we could find, much less recruit, the latter the rest of us have to be willing to actually work and to be enthusiastic about it. Otherwise we would be electing someone for the sole purpose of driving them mad. Which, while possibly entertaining, isn't a particularly polite thing to do to one's friends, nor considerate towards WSFA as a whole.
Best Novel (334 nominations for 183 novels)
Best Novella (191 nominations for 58 novellas)
Best Novelette (168 nominations for 130 novelettes, six nominees due to a tie)
Best Short Story (189 nominations for 158 short stories)
Best Related Book (167 nominations for 74 related books)
Best Dramatic Presentation (304 nominations for 106 dramatic presentations)
Best Professional Editor (203 nominations for 66 editors)
Best Professional Artist (196 nominations for 103 artists)
Best Semiprozine (168 nominations for 38 semiprozines)
Best Fanzine (195 nominations for 94 fanzines)
Best Fan Writer (191 nominations for 147 fan writers)
Best Fan Artist (164 nominations for 101 fan artists)
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (110 nominations for 72 writers)
First Friday cost us $25.00 and the Journal cost us $32.55, for a total of $57.55. Hopefully John and Kathi will be at First Friday to tell us if we owe them for the ice cream.
The Top 15 Signs Your Dog Has Been Replaced By a Robot Dog
By Chris White via Karen Stuart by way of Colleen Cahill
15. No longer has any problem typing. In fact, he's posted naked pictures of your cat on the Web.
14. "Fetch!" "I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave."
13. Refuses to pee on Al Gore out of professional courtesy.
12. Playful "mailman's here" yap replaced by maniacal paw-flapping "Warning, Jim Rosenberg, Warning!"
11. Shorts out every time he licks himself.
10. After he's mangled in a terrible explosion, his one-armed torso still pursues the mailman.
9. Routinely kicks your sorry Mensa ass at chess.
8. When you fake throwing a ball for him to fetch, you hear, "Projectile Analysis Module reports Error Division By Zero -- Aborting!"
7. He not only chases cars, he catches them, drags them back, and buries them in the front yard.
6. Pages you when little Timmy falls down the old well.
5. Frequently eats documents left lying around the house, presses tail into phone jack, and leaves you with expensive long-distance phone bills to China.
4. Three words: "Yo quiero Pennzoil."
3. Tell-tale oil stains when he drags his butt across the carpet.
2. No longer wants to hump your leg, but your vacuum cleaner is pregnant.
...and the Number 1 Sign Your Dog Has Been Replaced By a Robot Dog...
1. Run-in with the invisible fence makes for the greatest Fourth of July spectacle the town's ever seen.
By Colleen Cahill
10. Purring sounds like diesel engine idling.
9. Neighbor's annoying dog struck with heat-seeking missile.
8. Cat loses interest in playing with cat toys, gains interest in rebuilding old supercomputers.
7. Previously non-finicky cat now turns up his nose at any food not containing plutonium.
6. Veterinarian undergoes spontaneous human combustion when he approaches cat.
5. In reviewing your credit card statement, you find that numerous large anchovy pizzas have been delivered to your house while you were at work.
4. Cat appears the same, but weighs 80 pounds.
3. Dead batteries buried in the litterbox
2. *Someone* has fitted your vacuum cleaner with sound baffles and a muffler.
And the number one sign:
1. Birds with laser-holes burned through their skulls pile up by your windows.