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                        Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
                    Club Notice - 07/17/98 -- Vol. 17, No. 3

       MT Chair/Librarian:
                     Mark Leeper   MT 3E-433  732-957-5619 mleeper@lucent.com
       HO Chair:     John Jetzt    MT 2E-530  732-957-5087 jetzt@lucent.com
       HO Librarian: Nick Sauer    HO 4F-427  732-949-7076 njs@lucent.com
       Distinguished Heinlein Apologist:
                     Rob Mitchell  MT 2E-537  732-957-6330 robmitchell@lucent.com
       Factotum:     Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433  732-957-2070 eleeper@lucent.com
       Back issues at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/4824
       All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

       The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the
       second Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call
       201-447-3652 for details.  The New Jersey Science Fiction Society
       meets irregularly; call 201-652-0534 for details, or check
       http://www.interactive.net/~kat/njsfs.html.  The Denver Area
       Science Fiction Association meets 7:30 PM on the third Saturday of
       every month at Southwest State Bank, 1380 S. Federal Blvd.

       1. URL of the week:
       http://www.cs.monash.edu.au/cgi-bin/postmodern.  You always  wanted
       to  be a literary critic, but never have the time?  Now you can use
       this generator to produce postmoderist essays in half the  time  it
       takes the average critic to write one. :-) [-ecl]


       2. I was asked recently if I  was  going  to  talk  Turkey  in  the
       notice.   My  Turkey  log  is  online  off of my home page, but not
       everybody wants to slog through that.  I might as well  bring  some
       of the high points into the notice.

       Actually I keep hearing good things about the Turks from unexpected
       sources.   The  author  of the Lonely Planet Tour Book assumes that
       most of the negatives we hear about the Turks are pure  propaganda.
       A  classic  case  must be the whole affair of the Midnight Express.
       Some of you may have seen the film about  a  man  caught  smuggling
       drugs out of Turkey and thrown into a Turkish prison.  There things
       were so bad when he woke in the morning he would  find  cockroaches
       in his mouth.  It was not very nice.  Eventually he found out about
       a super-secret escape route dubbed The Midnight  Express  which  he
       used  to  get his freedom.  At least that is what the book and film
       said.  Supposedly the true story is somewhat at variance.

       Even the guy whom the book was about and who really was  imprisoned
       in  a  Turkish  prison  says that the account in the book and film,
       which he did not write,  was  exaggerated  and  is  unfair  to  the
       Turkish  government.   He was not put in a maximum security prison,
       it was a minimum security prison.  But here comes the  kicker.   In
       actual   fact  it  would  appear  to  be  a  toss-up  who  is  more
       enthusiastic  about  having  Americans  in  Turkish  prisons,   the
       imprisoned  American  or the Turkish government.  The difference is
       (or  at  least  was)  the  Turkish  government  would  actually  do
       something about it.

       The title "Midnight Express" sounds  like  a  train.   In  fact  it
       actually  does  refer to a train, exactly what it sounds like.  The
       Turkish government did not want the expense and hassle  of  keeping
       Americans in their prisons.  So they put the Americans in a minimum
       security prison that had  the  Midnight  Express  stopping  in  its
       prison  yard.   Turks  and  Americans alike could hop the train and
       escape the prison.  But a Turk who escaped by the train  would  end
       up  an escaped Turkish criminal in Greece without a passport.  Take
       it from me, this is not a good thing to be.  You are far better off
       staying  in a Turkish minimum security prison.  For Americans it is
       a different story.  They could hop a train  and  would  end  up  in
       Turkey without passports.  They would be arrested and would have to
       apply to the United States Consulate for new passports.   The  next
       thing  they  would see would probably be the Statue of Liberty.  It
       was a clever trick on the part of the Turkish government.   And  if
       the  Americans were too dumb to figure out that there was an escape
       route, I mean after  all  they  were  dumb  enough  to  get  caught
       smuggling  drugs  in  Turkey, it was arranged that the guards would
       explain the escape route to them, sort of on the sly.

       It was an escape route for Americans and was  absolutely  pointless
       for  a  Turk to use.  And for the Turks it had the added benefit of
       making the Americans the responsibility of their good friends,  the

       In this way the Turkish government could look like it was trying to
       punish the Americans, PLEASING THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT, but did not
       have to be strict.  The book and movie MIDNIGHT EXPRESS was  really
       mostly propaganda in America's drug war.  At least that is what the
       author of the Lonely Planet book thinks.  People will believe  just
       about  anything bad about the Turks.  They have their faults, but I
       found them a friendly and accommodating people, miles  better  than
       their reputation.

       By the way I am  not  saying  that  Turkish  prisons  are  actually
       pleasure  domes.   I  have  no  doubt that Turkish prisons are bad.
       Whether they are as bad as Mexican prisons or  Argentinean  prisons
       is  a  question for experts, I don't know.  Any poor country is not
       going to have very good prisons.  The  question  is  who  gets  put
       there.  And who gets out.  [-mrl]


       3. DARWINIA by Robert  Charles  Wilson  (Tor,  ISBN  0-312-86038-2,
       1998, 320pp, US$22.95) (a book review by Evelyn C. Leeper):

       In S. M. Stirling's ISLAND IN  THE  SEA  OF  TIME,  the  island  of
       Nantucket  is  hurled  back  to  the  Bronze  Age  via a mysterious
       "Event."  In Greg Bear's DINOSAUR SUMMER, the lost plateau  of  Sir
       Arthur  Conan  Doyle's  LOST  WORLD  is  real.   In  Robert Charles
       Wilson's previous book, MYSTERIUM, our  history  took  a  different
       course   and   Gnosticism   prevailed.   DARWINIA  seems  to  be  a
       combination of parts of all four, but ends up very  different  from
       all of them.

       In 1912, the "Miracle" happens, and Europe as  we  know  (knew)  it
       vanishes, replaced by a primeval continent with virtually identical
       geography  and  geology,  but  different  plant  and  animal  life.
       Apparently  it  is from a timeline where evolution took a different
       path.  As a result, the history of the world is very different from
       that  point on.  (For starters, it's hard to have a World War based
       in Europe when all the inhabitants of Europe no longer exist.).

       Guilford Law signs up with the  Finch  Expedition  to  explore  the
       neo-Europe,  or  Darwinia,  as  it  is called.  (This leads to some
       confusion, as the term "Darwinian evolution" refers specifically to
       the  evolution  of  the  life-forms  on  Darwinia, not evolution as
       described by Charles Darwin.)  Not only  does  the  expedition  run
       into  various  dangers  (natural and man-made), but several members
       are haunted by strange dreams that we recognize as being related to
       their  possible  lives  in  our timeline, and Law gradually becomes
       aware that the struggle is not merely global, but cosmic.

       However, this is not so much an alternate history as an analysis of
       what  might  cause  an  alternate  history,  because in addition to
       everything else, this is connected  somehow  with  the  Archive,  a
       record  of  all  history  created  by  the far future.  Wilson uses
       interludes to try to explain this, but it is such a departure  from
       the  main  action  (at  least  at the beginning) that it feels very
       jarring--which  is  probably  the  idea.   Even  though  the  basic
       situation  is  mysterious,  the  reader  *thinks*  she  understands
       somewhat what is going on and then Wilson pulls the rug out.

       John Clute seems to feel that DARWINIA (along with  Wilson's  other
       work)  expresses  Wilson's  feeling  of "apartness" that comes from
       Wilson's being Canadian.  While there is a sense of  apartness  and
       isolation,  I think it is more universal than Clute perceives it as
       being.  There is also a thread reminiscent  of  Harry  Turtledove's
       BETWEEN  THE  RIVERS  and its echoes of Jaynes's bicameral mind.  I
       realize at this point that it sounds as though DARWINIA is  a  real
       hodge-podge,  but  it  isn't.  Wilson has taken several themes that
       have appeared elsewhere recently, but woven them  into  a  tapestry
       all his own.  I definitely recommend DARWINIA.  [-ecl]


       4. ANTARCTICA by Kim Stanley Robinson (Bantam, ISBN  0-553-10063-7,
       1998, 508pp, US$24.95) (a book review by Evelyn C. Leeper):

       Robinson is certainly best known for his "Mars"  series  (RE  MARS,
       GREEN  MARS,  BLUE MARS).  ANTARTICA reads like WHITE MARS.  It has
       what seemed  like  even  more  expository  lumps,  nay,  expository
       *mountains*,  about  geology  et  al.   And the only hint that this
       attempt to get us all  to  live  a  more  ecologically  sustainable
       lifestyle  might not be paradisical is a passing reference to three
       attempts at single- child families in China,  a  plan  that  sounds
       good  in  theory  but  has  turned  out  to  be  quite otherwise in
       practice.  (Robinson's character who refers to this seems to  think
       it was a good thing; Robinson's opinion is of course unknown.)

       If Robinson is not the leading "ecological science fiction"  writer
       these days, I must be really out of touch with the field.  But even
       though I agree with his goals (or what I think his goals are), I am
       starting  to find his didacticism wearing.  To be fair, he does not
       draw obvious villains, intent on killing all  the  whales  or  some
       such  and  hang the consequences.  But the parade of scientists and
       just plain folks who get to stand up and  "speechify"  about  their
       philosophies is not what I am looking for in a novel.

       The most interesting part of ANTARTICA, in fact, was the recounting
       of  the  early exploration of the continent and the people involved
       in that.  Here Robinson's long expository  passages  didn't  bother
       me, maybe because the explorers had more personality than mountains
       and glaciers.  At least with them I felt  I  was  reading  a  story
       rather than a textbook.

       If you liked the "Mars" trilogy, you will  almost  definitely  like
       ANTARTICA.  But if you preferred the sparser, earlier Robinson, and
       were  hoping  for  a  return  to  that  style,  this  will   be   a

       [Though the copyright date listed in the book is 1998, the book was
       actually published in Britain in 1997.]  [-ecl]


       5.  COOL RESEARCH -- Bell Labs scientists have a warm spot in their
       hearts  for  one  of  the coldest regions on earth, Antarctica, and
       they've had  it  for  decades.   Bell  Labs  scientists  have  been
       conducting  upper  atmosphere  research  in  Antarctica  with  test
       magnetometers since the early 1970s.

       Louis Lanzerotti is one Bell Labs researcher familiar with  ongoing
       experiments  there, and is particularly interested in rapid changes
       in the Earth's magnetic fields. The research  provides  information
       on  changes  in the space environment around Earth and on how these
       changes can affect radio frequency and satellite communications.

       As a distinguished  member  of  technical  staff  in  the  Physical
       Science  and Engineering Division at Bell Labs, his pioneering work
       has earned him acclaim and a unique honor -- a  mountain  has  been
       named  for  him.  Although Lanzerotti has visited the icy plains of
       Antarctica, he confesses that he has never seen his mountain, which
       rises more than 5,000 feet above a region known as Ellsworth Land.

       The  latest  research  effort  involves  the  use  of   Bell   Labs
       instrumentation  to  measure  changes in Earth's magnetic fields at
       six automatic geophysical  observatories,  a  collaborative  effort
       with  five  U.S.  universities  and the Tohoku University in Japan.
       Other Bell Labs research, led by  Gregory  Wright,  is  focused  on
       understanding  star  formation  using  the  Antarctic Submillimeter
       Telescope and Remote Observatory  to  map  gaseous  carbon  in  our
       galaxy.  He  has  been  involved in designing the telescope, and on
       other projects related to  measuring  cosmic  microwave  background

       Lucent's connections to the South Polar regions go beyond research;
       we're  also doing business there.  Lucent's Argentina Team recently
       sold and  installed  telecommunications  equipment  in  Antarctica,
       including  a DEFINITY system to one customer and cellular telephony
       devices, to CTI Movil, which will be used by the Marambio Air Force
       Base.  While forging new developments in other countries around the
       world, Lucent is continuing its  ongoing  attachment  to  the  cold
       continent. ["Lucent Technologies Today," 10 July 1998, Greg Schwab]

                                          Mark Leeper
                                          MT 3E-433 732-957-5619

            A tremendous number of people in America have to
            work very hard at something that bores them.  Even
            a rich man thinks he has to go down to the office
            every day, not because he likes it but because he
            can't think of anything else to do.