EVERYONE at work may be reading "Iacocca" but you've just finished "Deathbird Stories" and you want to talk to somebody, anybody, about Harlan Ellison's prose -- it makes Hunter Thompson's gonzo journalism look positively genteel. Or maybe you just want to learn more about the social side of science fiction.
Happily, you are never more than a few days away from a meeting of one of the clubs listed below. There you can find like-minded readers who will fill you in on virtually every detail of Ellison's life, writing and personality. Maybe you can even pick up a button to wear to the office: "Graduate of the Darth Vader School of Personnel Management." That should keep them quiet.
THE WASHINGTON SCIENCE FICTION ASSOCIATION -- Founded in 1948, WSFA has long been one of the most prominent regional organizations. Currently, the club meets on the first and third Friday of each month; the meetings begin around 9 or 9:30. Prospective members of any age are welcome. Contact Dolly and Alexis Gilliland at 920-6087.
The first-Friday meetings always take place at the Arlington home of the Gillilands. Well known as a fanzine artist (he has won four Hugos for his cartoons), Alexis is a past president of the organization as well as the author of several novels (the latest "Wizenbeak," based on one of his cartoon characters).
Starting at 9:15 or so, the evening's activities open with a business meeting (45 minutes or so). The chief item of discussion tends to be Disclave, the annual convention sponsored by WSFA. After this formal part of the evening. socializing tends to be casual and varied: Food and drink, intense conversations about movies, books, writers and other fans. Anywhere between 20 and 50 members may show up on any given evening. Each month, the four-page WSFA Journal prints minutes, reviews and related sf material. Occasional theater parties.
THE POTOMAC RIVER FICTION SOCIETY -- Founded in 1975, PRSFS (affectionately called Percy Fish) is primarily a book discussion group; its members sponsor Unicon, a local convention generally held in Silver Spring. There is no president, and all new members are immediately elected vice president. Fear not; there are no duties of office. Meetings, which start at 7:30, currently take place on the second Friday of the month at the Silver Spring home of Allie and Paul Parsons. Telephone: 587-0377.
Between 15 and 25 people attend each meeting, and members are asked to bring some food or drink to share. (This is a good place to sample a variety of cookies.) Book discussions consist of each member talking briefly about his month's reading in sf. As tastes differ, the result is an informal survey of current and classic science fiction. An added service of the club is a book-buying cooperative.
THE SILVER SPRING SCIENCE FICTION SOCIETY -- This is the newest area sf organization -- it's less than a year old -- and is primarily a dining club. Founded by Martin Morse Wooster, the Washington editor of Harper's, the group meets at 7:30 on the last Wednesday of the month at a different Maryland restaurant. The goals of the SSSFS are simply to sample different cuisines and, while basking in the contentment brought on by good food, to talk about science fiction. Contact Wooster at 565-7820.
Besides these clubs, many area colleges, adult education programs and writers' organizations periodically offer courses in science fiction. Some are devoted to reading the classics, while others are aimed at the aspiring writer. They are often, but not always, taught by local sf professionals; and some classes may be restricted to full-time students. It's nonetheless worth checking course catalogues at places like American University, the Writer's Center, Open University and Smithsonian Associates.