Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
02/10/06 -- Vol. 24, No. 33, Whole Number 1321

El Presidente: Mark Leeper,
The Power Behind El Pres: Evelyn Leeper,
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	Organism (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
	Hearing Crickets In the Muslim World (comments
		by Mark R. Leeper)
	X-Treme Wheat Bread (letter of comment by Fred Lerner)
	Zines (letter by Guy Lillian)
	DOWN THESE DARK SPACEWAYS edited by Mike Resnick
		(book review by Joe Karpierz)
		ACTS OF MERCY, and PROSE BOWL) (book comments
		by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Correction

Jack Weaver at (which archives the MT VOID) pointed out
that the numbered for some of the 2006 issues was wrong.  The
correct numbering should be:

01/06/06 -- Vol. 24, No. 28, Whole Number 1316
01/13/06 -- Vol. 24, No. 29, Whole Number 1317
01/20/06 -- Vol. 24, No. 30, Whole Number 1318
01/27/06 -- Vol. 24, No. 31, Whole Number 1319
02/03/06 -- Vol. 24, No. 32, Whole Number 1320
02/10/06 -- Vol. 24, No. 33, Whole Number 1321


TOPIC: Organism (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

If a communist believes in communism, does an organist believe in
organism?  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Akira Ifukube (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

Inextricably connected to the Toho science fiction films is the
music that accompanied them.  The composer of that music was
Akira Ifukube.  His music adds immeasurably to the tension of the
1954 film GOJIRA, better known in the United States as GODZILLA,
KING OF THE MONSTERS.  He was born in Hokkaido and strongly
influenced by the music of the local Ainu people.  During World
War II he was a forestry officer in Hokkaido.

In 1954 he composed the score and some of the sound effects for
GOJIRA.  From that point on, he was the primary composer for
Toho's science fiction films and their mainstream films as well.
At times his music sounds strangely inappropriate to American
ears, but it seems to work with a logic all its own.  It can be
big and brash.  He can use local native music, strangely alien to
Western ears, then throw in a military march or a piece of
classical music.

Recordings of his music from the 1950s to 1970s still demand
premium prices and are frequently rediscovered and re-released in
this country.

Akira Ifukube
31 May 1914 - 8 February 2006



TOPIC: Hearing Crickets In the Muslim World (comments by Mark
R. Leeper)

In the film WEDDING CRASHERS, Owen Wilson is at a mammoth outdoor
wedding trying to convince his girlfriend that a joke she is
going to use in a toast is just not funny.  "I think people are
going to love this," she says.  "I think you're going to hear
crickets."  It is an apt way to suggest that nobody is going to
quite know what to make of the joke.  I certainly have told my
share of jokes that have been met with silence.

But that sound that you currently hear is certain anti-western
Muslims groaning, trying to squeeze out the most offensive Jewish
jokes they can manage.  And behind that you can hear crickets.
What is going on?  Well, it is like this.  You are probably aware
that a privately-owned press in Denmark published some cartoons
that reflected badly on Muslims showing Mohammed's turban with a
lit fuse coming out of it.  The suggestion was that Muslims could
be a violent and dangerous people.  The response has been riots,
arson, killings, and a lot of public demonstrations and flag
burnings.  Apparently the rioters want Denmark to guarantee that
no such anti-Muslim cartoons are ever going to be published
again.  But Denmark has freedom of expression and there is only
so much that the government can do.  They cannot tell people not
to express ideas.

An Iranian newspaper has had the inspiration to give the West
what they consider is a taste of its own medicine.  They are
sponsoring a contest for cartoonists to create the most offensive
cartoons about the Holocaust to shock the West about the dangers
of free speech.  Read about it at,10119,18066746,00.html.

Why did they choose the Holocaust?  Well, because more than half
the people killed in the Holocaust were Jews.  What does the
Danish incident have to do with the Jews?  Nothing as far as I
can tell.  But to the Iranian newspaper publishers mind the West
is particularly protective of Jews.  It's not true, but he is all
the way over in Iran.  If he were right it would make Jews appear
the ideal target if the publisher wants to raise a commotion at
first glance.  At first glance, that is.

There are a number of reasons why the choice could have used a
little more glancing.  First of all, for anti-Jewish cartoons to
offend people they have to be extremely unusual.  For anyone who
looks for them, very negative anti-Jewish cartoons are not
exactly uncommon.  They show up many places in the world almost
on a daily basis.  Jewish organizations like the Simon Weisenthal
Center and the anti-Defamation League reprint them frequently for
their members.  Jews see it as a problem, but most are by now too
thick-skinned to allow it actually to offend them.  Many of these
anti-Jewish cartoons come from the Middle East and are far more
rabid than anything anyone has ever seen coming out of Denmark.
If you listen for the uproar that they currently cause in the
West you will end up hearing the crickets.

And it is not just smears in cartoons.  MEMRI, the Middle East
Media Research Institute, frequently monitors Iranian popular TV
shows that dramatize blood libels against Jews claiming they are
true or claiming that Israelis harvest organs from healthy and
unwilling Palestinian children that they have kidnapped.  MEMRI
makes these broadcasts available internationally to anyone who
wants to verify their authenticity at

It is hard to imagine jokes and cartoons coming from Iran are
going to be more offensive.  Another reason those crickets are
going to come through loud and clear is the source of this
"humor."  To be offended by a comment indicates some respect for
the source.  If an alcoholic in a gutter looks at you and says
your jacket is ugly, does it really bother you?  Probably not
much.  If the same comment comes from your mother you will take
it more seriously.  You have to respect someone to be offended by
them.  It reminds me of the exchange in CASABLANCA when Ugarte
asks, "You despise me, don't you?"  And Rick responds, "If I gave
you any thought I probably would."  Ugarte seems a little

In any case, much worse things already coming from Iran do not
currently offend people.  Who really is going to care?  There is
a sound of desperation in saying, "We don't like what the Danish
press is doing so we are going to take it out on the Jews.  And
it's your fault.  So there."  If anything, this will call
attention to the hatred that is already a lot more common in the
Muslim media than most Western people realize.

And what sort of angry jokes can we expect?  A Muslim group in
Britain has already started with the offensive humor, as the New
York Times reported an example at

"A small but vocal Muslim immigrant organization responded with a
drawing on its Web site of Hitler in bed with Anne Frank.  'Write
this one in your diary, Anne,' Hitler was shown as saying."  I
knew people in my high school who could be more offensive than
that.  If this is their best shot, people will be laughing at
them for all the wrong (or rather the right but unintended)

There are a lot of people in the United States who are
sympathetic or at least have some sympathy for Muslim issues.
But most of them also prize very highly freedom of expression.
There are some that will be on the side of free speech and
certainly there will be a few on the side of the Muslims.  But
even the Muslim advocates in this country depend very heavily on
freedom of expression.  If they were to advocate limiting what
people could say they would find it a self-defeating cause.  Even
our local anti-government radio station nicknames itself "Free
Speech Radio."  They will not look very good if they start
advocating limits to freedom of expression because someone might
not like what is being said.

The current conflict may educate a lot of people about just how
different the Muslim world-view is from that in the West and not
too many are going to side with the Muslim world, I suspect.
Those that do side against free expression will not be much of a

One unfortunate loser in all this might be Albert Brooks.  His
new comedy is called LOOKING FOR HUMOR IN THE MUSLIM WORLD.  I am
looking forward to seeing the film, but current events may give
the title the feel of a hopeless quest.

For examples of anti-Jewish cartoons collected by the
Anti-Defamation  League from Arab media see  [-mrl]


TOPIC: X-Treme Wheat Bread (letter of comment by Fred Lerner)

Mark wrote in the 02/03/06 issue of the MT VOID, "In actual fact
the bread is not Extreme Wheat Bread.  It is 'X-treme Wheat
Bread'."  [-mrl]

Fred Lerner suggested, "You can trademark 'X-treme Wheat Bread'.
I suspect that "Extreme Wheat Bread" might not be a defensible
trademark."  [-fl]

Mark responds, "Perhaps.  I would think there is not a lot of
competitors who would want to call their bread 'extreme'."  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Zines (letter by Guy Lillian)

Guy Lillian writes, "My zine, CHALLENGER, is available at, and hardcopies can be had. Just drop me a line
[at].  If any of you publish a zine, I hope
you'll pass it along. Snail mail address is 8700 Millicent Way
#1501, Shreveport LA 71115.  Hope to see you at L.A.Con . . ."


TOPIC: DOWN THESE DARK SPACEWAYS edited by Mike Resnick (published
2005 by the Science Fiction Book Club, 424pp, hardcover, ISBN
1-58288-164-2) (book review by Joe Karpierz)

Mike Resnick loves to edit themed anthologies--he's done a lot of
them.  He also loves mysteries as well as SF, so he pitched the
idea of a book of six SF mystery novella-length stories to the
Science Fiction Book Club and received an enthusiastic response.
As a result, Resnick commissioned six of the bigger names in the
field today to write these mysteries.  The result is DOWN THESE
DARK SPACEWAYS, an intriguing but uneven collection of stories.

The first story is Resnick's own "Guardian Angel", a very
straightforward, standard story, probably designed to whet the
reader's appetite, or maybe just introduce the reader to the kind
of story that was in this book.  It deals with a detective
searching for a lost son at the request of the boy's mother--and,
as it turns out, father as well.  It was okay, nothing that

The next piece is David Gerrold's "In the Quake Zone", which if
I'm not mistaken is set in the same universe as THE MAN WHO
FOLDED HIMSELF.  A pretty good story, really, when you come right
down to it--I love stories that deal with time travel and trying
to unravel things that you run into when time travel is involved.
The story deals with an operative for a "crime preventative"
agency who gets personally involved in his latest job.  The big
problem I have with this story is that the reader is beaten about
the head and shoulders with a message of tolerance for diversity.
It is a good and worthwhile message, to be sure--make no mistake.
But to overdo it, as I think Gerrold does, makes the story less
enjoyable.  Still a good one, however.

Catherine Asaro's "City of Cries" takes place in her "Skolian
Empire" universe.  It's a nice little tale of the search for a
missing prince of a family in which society sequesters its men.
This is also a terrific story, although not quite a mystery in
the terms that I think of it.  I've read at least one other story
set in the Skolian universe, and this one makes me want to read
another one.

Robert Reed's "Camouflage" is set in the vast world-ship from the
novel MARROW--a book that's been on my to-read stack for years
now.  While it's a decent story, I liked it the least, I think.
Our detective, an exiled Captain of the ship, must figure out the
story behind the murder of a man, and her client is a very
powerful person indeed.

The last two stories are the best, I think.  Jack McDevitt's "The
Big Downtown" is a very nice murder mystery where any number of
folks could have done the deed, and it's not clear who is
involved and who did it.  The murder takes place on a boating
trip just hours before a hurricane sweeps through the area, and
while the person being sought is small potatoes, the culprit ends
up being a very big fish.  Nice story.

The last story in the collection is Robert J. Sawyer's "Identity
Theft".  "Identity Theft" is on this year's short list for the
Nebula, so his peers think a lot about this story.  If I'm not
mistaken, Sawyer has written mysteries in the past, long before
he turned to SF.  This is a very nice little tale set on Mars in
what seems like an extension of or modification to his world of
MINDSCAN.  Cassandra Wilkins is missing her husband.  They are
both "transfers", having had their consciousness/minds
transferred from a biological to a new body for the purposes of
having a longer, happier life.  However, the husband turns up
dead, but it doesn't seem as if a mind has been transferred into
the brain of the body.  So, where did it go, and what's going on?
Also a terrific story.

SPACEWAYS is a nice little diversion--especially if you like
mysteries.  [-jak]


TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

THE SEVEN HILLS by John Maddox Roberts (ISBN 0-441-01245-0) is
the middle book of a trilogy in which Carthage has defeated Rome
in the First Punic War, but Rome has withdrawn to north of the
Alps, regrouped, and is now returning to re-take its lands, and
Carthage as well.  Even though it is a middle book, it reads
pretty well by itself, although since I did read the first book
(HANNIBAL'S CHILDREN last year I may not be an impartial judge.
I do think, though, that there are some problems with Roberts's
description of Judea, which he describes as having the two
kingdoms of Israel and Judah.  The problem is that the Kingdom of
Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C.E., the Kingdom
of Judah in 586 B.C.E., and neither was restored in our timeline.
The First Punic War was not until 264-241 B.C.E.  I suppose one
could argue that without a strong Rome, the Maccabee Revolt in
168 B.C.E. might have led to the restorations, but if so, that is
left unexplained.  Still, it is a minor point, and Roberts has
lots of detail on Roman and Carthaginian customs and military
matters to keep the reader interested.  (Note: There are those
who claim that Roberts's descriptions of the Carthaginians are
based on what was written in our timeline by the Romans, their
enemies, and is not really accurate.)

(Shame on Ace Books for not indicating anywhere that this is
indeed a middle book of a series.  Yes, it can probably be read
on its own, but it is not an entirely self-contained work.)

THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova (ISBN 0-316-01177-0) has
gotten a lot of good reviews, but I gave up after a hundred
pages.  It seems to have been written to be of the same genre as
THE DA VINCI CODE, with people tracking a mystery across Europe
through old books and documents, but it reads very flatly.  In
the part I read there are three viewpoint characters (narrators)
--a young girl, her father, and his mentor.  Three different
types, three different generations, yet they all sound alike.  In
addition, it was so slow-moving that it began to feel very

And to top it off, sitting on my shelf tempting me was THE TIME
SHIPS by Stephen Baxter (ISBN 0-061-05648-0).  I had read this
sequel to H. G. Wells's TIME MACHINE when it came out in 1995, but
it came up in a conversation recently and I decided to re-read
it.  I enjoyed it as much as when I first read it ten years ago
(my review is at,
and am pleased to note that it did in fact get the Hugo nomination
it deserved.

Another book that "jumped the queue" was A YEAR AT THE MOVIES by
Kevin Murphy (ISBN 0-06-093786-6).  Murphy set himself a goal of
watching a movie in a public presentation every day.  This
allowed him to count films on airplanes, which was necessary
because he was flying to Cannes, Australia, Canada, and other
exotic places to find the world's smallest cinema, a cinema built
out of ice, etc.  His chapters (one per week) are not so much
about the movies--though he does include some comments on some of
them--but on various aspects of movie-going.  Why are theaters so
poorly designed?  Why do the audiences have the attention span of
goldfish?  Can you survive entirely on movie concession stand
food?  (And conversely, how much food can you sneak into a
theater at any one time?)  Since Kevin Murphy was one of the
hecklers from "Mystery Science Theater 3000", he may be as much
to blame for noisy audiences as anyone, but his points are in
general well-taken.  Murphy makes no startling new discoveries,
but he does summarize what we know about the joys and pitfalls of

ACTS OF MERCY by Bill Pronzini and Barry N. Malzberg (ISBN
0-843-92219-2) was written in 1977, and set in 1984, with its
main character someone who rose from being a senator from
California to having been elected President in 1980.  So given
this was written *before* Reagan became President, it is all the
more interesting that the authors wrote of a rival candidate,
"Kineen was a reactionary, considered by many to be a dangerous
man: a latter-day Ronald Reagan."  Because it's set in the future
of when it was written, I guess it could be called science
fiction, but it's more a mystery and political thriller.

PROSE BOWL by Bill Pronzini and Barry N. Malzberg (ISBN
0-312-65194-5) is a wonderful satire of the world in 2051 in
which instead of football games or even chess matches being the
main sport people watch, writing competitions are.  The narrator,
the Metaphor Kid, reminisces about "the almost legendary
confrontation between The Cranker and Three-Finger Luke Waddell,
in the old Metro Stadium back in '37.  Culp's two-word victory
with an incredible last-ditch sixty-line simile was the most
exciting thing I'd even seen in my life."  "Pulpeteers" compete
in such categories as Quality Lit, Blazing Western Action,
Suspense Fic, Futuristic Fic, and Space Opera.  The Hackensack
Hack has "his own special combination of exposition and
shattering multiple plot twists."  And not surprisingly, there is
a passing reference to Frederik Pohl and Cyril M. Kornbluth's THE
SPACE MERCHANTS as a landmark in 20th century literature.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

            A prudent question is one-half wisdom.
                                           -- Francis Bacon