Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Winter 2004/5



To think we were looking forward to the waning months of 2004.


We had hoped for, and expected, a season of quiet and peace. Normally, living in the sub-tropics, Rosy and I don't get to enjoy the turning of the leaves or the softening of the heat - Louisiana doesn't get a normal autumn, having but two seasons, Carnival and hurricane. For us as science fiction fans, I might add Worldcon, for surely Noreascon 4 was a season in itself. After a summer of unending toil on our two responsibilities for Worldcon, DUFF and the program book, attending said event, and either worrying about Rosy's relatives or our own lives in the face of a parade of hurricanes, autumn was to represents an interlude of quiet and peace. Instead....

Instead, our lives were thrown into turmoil. Just before Thanksgiving, my public defender job in St. John Parish evaporated in a haze of penury. Translation: our office ran out of money and I was laid off.


Being the most primitive and corrupt of states, Louisiana finances its indigent defender offices in a unique way. Most of our paychecks come from court fees and traffic tickets, funds which district attorney's offices can often raid and/or ravage by various means. Though the gendarmes of St. John claim they have been writing as many tickets as ever, the D.A. managed to screw us out of our share of the fees - through the simple expedient of refusing to prosecute most tickets. We had a six-figure shortfall. I paid the price.


It isn't as if I was a detriment to the office. I handled six of the seven trials public defenders, uhhh, defended in 2004, and won four of them outright. I am assured of a return to the fold when and if finances improve, but in the meantime ... AMF.


My St. John boss posted notices and made announcements at seminars and I mailed and faxed resumes to every judicial district's public defenders' office in the state, every private firm which does criminal defense, and even a couple of district attorneys' offices. I got several compliments on my boss' warm recommendation and my experience ... and one hit. Doing the same thing I'm doing now ... for much less money. In Shreveport, Louisiana - across the state. Rosy has only part-time work here, and we can't afford to wait and hope that St. John will somehow find more money. We need our insurance. We have to take the job, and the move.

There are no advantages besides a seemingly friendly boss, health insurance for us both and a retirement plan. I have no intention of retiring from this job - the search for better work will go on. I want to move to Tennessee.


Into this madness I insert
Challenger #21. Worldcon, being the highlight of the year, plays an enormous role in its pages; Mike Resnick provides another of his famous diaries, I provide a pictorial account of the Lillians' adventures at the convention, and Jeff Potter ... well, that's his phenomenal cover, a piece printed, in much smaller size, in the Noreascon program book. Along with another installment of my Aussie DUFF report, illustrated by Randy Cleary (who's the fubbo fella with the quokka?), and a tale from my last year with the St. John IDB, there is excellent text by Challenger faithfuls Greg Benford and Rich Dengrove, plus a superb portfolio by Tim Kirk (courtesy of Sheryl Birkhead) and fine interior artwork by Korrati (here), Kurt Erichsen, Trinlay Khadro, and lots of others. I know I'm prejudiced about this issue, but I think it's swell. Just the thing to bring relief to a torturous year.


One important note, though: you are almost undoubtedly reading this editorial on the Challenger website, I have printed very, very few copies of this issue. Such will be the way of the world until our personal finances improve to the point where, an unregenerate paper slut, I can xerox these pages in the quantity to which I long ago became accustomed. I'm desperately sorry, but if you want a print copy of this issue, you'll have to download it from the net. If you want to see my layout, I'll have to ask for your help. 4 cents per side, plus $1.42 postage.


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