Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Winter 2007


"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."

Lincoln was right, as Lincoln almost always was. In November 2006, his maxim finally caught up to George W. Bush and his cadre -- and to me. The American elections of 2006 marked the beginning of the end of a weird and despicable era in this country's history -- an era where dictatorship and the tactics of totalitarianism held control over the American government. They also meant the end of a disturbing era in my own life -- a time when I felt less and less connection with my own people.

I'd like to believe that the elections were a triumph for liberalism, but... that they were not. They were a specific rejection of the Iraq War, of Abu Ghraib, of Guantanamo, of rendition, of governmental incompetence, of torture, of hypocrisy, of corruption. The elections represented a revulsion against the one-man rule that created these nightmarish distortions of the national spirit, and the hypocritical political party that brought it to be. That's not an embrasure of liberal principle, per se -- but it is a return to basic American values, and that's close enough. I rejoice.

American elections are the very voice of freedom, and these elections have freed everyone. Democrats are definitely freed from the impotence of minority status -- but gifted with responsibility. 2007 must see strong change emit from the legislative branch. Foreign policy needs to be guided, domestic policy needs to be sparked, since, God knows, Bush's executive branch has made a supreme botch of both. We Democrats need to point the way out of Iraq. We need to start the forestalled rebuilding of the Gulf Coast. We must reverse Bush's psychotic assault on civil liberties. Rendition. Domestic surveillance. Torture, under whatever euphenism. If Democrats can tear down these fascist bastions of the W administration, they will have fulfilled their duty to the American people as far as I'm concerned.

Because all victories in politics are temporary, and even the Republicans have been freed by the '06 results. With W. Bush's folly in Iraq recognized and rejected as a catastrophe, W's extreme base can no longer be regarded as omnipotent. Without that albatross, ambitious Republicans are freed from defending the administration's many outrageous failures, and address the future. John McCain and Rudolph Giuliani can run away from the rightwing to the center. If they can keep the wingers tamed, either would be a titanic candidate. Whether the iceberg that is Hillary Clinton can sink their hopes is highly questionable.

Her party's leader, Hillary -- whose re-election victory was among the nation's strongest -- must show imagination and spirit, as well as the industriousness that has, surprisingly, made her an effective Senator. If she can win over the electorate as she has won over the Senate club, she might have a chance in '08. Presidential elections, unless they are corrupted as was 2000's, are decided on imagination. To win the presidency, Hillary must capture the country's imagination as Carter and Reagan and her husband did. She can do that through showing imagination and spirit of her own. But that will take some doing. Hillary is smarter than smart, but she's also colder than cold. McCain and Giuliani have stories behind them to spark the American imagination. Does Hillary?

Damn! What I wouldn't give for five minutes argument-time with Al Gore... though I heard something very interesting over the Christmas holidays...

But we are all sick of politics, so let's just opine on what the election means to us as the American people and let it go. Again, the word is freed. We have, by our votes, freed ourselves from the onus of Bush's irrationality and incompetence, and gifted with a chance to block further irrationality and incompetence. We are free, once again, to grow into what Lincoln believed we might be -- the hope of our people, the example for all people. We're free to be ourselves again.


Our 25th issue boasts some marvelous stuff, if I do say so. A unique and gorgeous cover from Taral Wayne ... a delightful worldcon diary from Mike Resnick ... thoughtful and provocative editorials from Greg Benford and Mary Ann van Hartesveldt ... fun articles from Joe Major and Rich Dengrove ... and for the first time, a most welcome piece from our great friend, John Hertz.

About my own contributions, herein find an article on public defender work, a photo essay on the Watts Towers, and a reprinted piece from long ago. This is my interview with Alfred Bester from 1974, originally printed in Stven Carlberg's Fladnag. I am frankly horrified by the florid overwriting in my introduction, but I've edited it very little; somehow I feel I owe it to that younger GHLIII to feature him as was. But who cares about me? The star of the piece is, of course, Alfred Bester, author of The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man, "The Pi Man" and "Hell is Forever", holding forth on Ulysses, comics writing, the character of Robert A. Heinlein ... That afternoon in 1974 was one I have never forgotten and never will forget, and here is why.


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