Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
10/30/15 -- Vol. 34, No. 18, Whole Number 1882

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
                Lectures, etc. (NJ)
        Limitation (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in November (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        Comments on the Film WAR OF THE WORLDS (comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        ROTOR DR1 (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        STEVE JOBS (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
                BLINDSPOT) (television reviews by Dale L. Skran)
        Corrections to and Comments on the Report on the State of
                Horror (by David Goldfarb and Philip Chee)
        William Goldman, MARATHON MAN and Alfred, Lord Tennyson
                (letters of comment by Mike Glyer and Peter Trei)
        THE MARTIAN (letter of comment by Philip Chee)
                LITERATURE) (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
Lectures, etc. (NJ)

November 12: SOYLENT GREEN (film) and MAKE ROOM! MAKE ROOM! by
        Harry Harrison (book), Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
November 19: WORLD OF PTAVVS by Larry Niven, Old Bridge (NJ) Public
        Library, 7PM
December 17: THE MAN WHO COUNTED by Malba Tahan, Old Bridge (NJ)
        Public Library, 7PM
January 28: "The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster and "The Martian
        Way" by Isaac Asimov (both in SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME
        2B), Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
February 25: OUR MAN IN HAVANA by Graham Greene, Old Bridge (NJ)
        Public Library, 7PM
March 24: HARD LANDING by Algis Budrys, Old Bridge (NJ) Public
        Library, 7PM
April 28: LOST HORIZON by James Hilton, Old Bridge (NJ) Public
        Library, 7PM
May 26: E for Effort" by T. L. Sherred and "Earthman, Come Home"
        by James Blish (both in SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME 2B),
        Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM

Speculative Fiction Lectures (subject to change):

November 7: Jennifer Walkup, Finding Your Voice in YA Speculative
        Fiction, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:


TOPIC: Limitation (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

You can go only so far with digital paleontology since prehistoric
animals were nearly all analog.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in November (comments by
Mark R. Leeper)

I think younger film fans tend to underrate silent films as being
too much trouble to watch.  They seem to be of another age made for
our great grandparents--people easy to impress with the rudiments
of story telling technique.  Not so.  Last month I wrote about what
an impressive film Buster Keaton's THE GENERAL really is and
remains.  I hope that anyone who had not seen it picked it up on
Turner.  It is a film that is still very entertaining today.  The
visual images are really impressive.  Many silent films have
withstood the passage of time.  In November, TCM is running a five-
film program of Douglas Fairbanks films.  Fairbanks was sort of the
Tom Cruise of silent films.  He was handsome, charismatic, and very
athletic.  He also cheated a bit to seem more impressive on the big
screen.  If he could jump 37 inches high he would have a fence 35
inches high in the film so he could jump it in front of the camera.
Maybe Cruise uses the same trick.

I admit, the first two films in the program I have not seen.  They
are both Westerns made in 1916.  But some of his best action films
are included.  At 10 PM on Thursday, November 19 TCM will show THE
MARK OF ZORRO (1920).  This was the first of dozens of movies
featuring the character El Zorro--the fox.  Zorro was created just
the previous year in the story "The Curse of Capistrano" which
appeared in the pulp "All-Story Weekly".  The outlaw Zorro defends
the poor and powerless from the tyranny of local government rulers,
sort of latter-day Robin Hood who thwarts the authorities at every

At midnight TCM will show THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1924).  This is a
strong follow-up to MARK OF ZORRO.  The two are Fairbanks' two best
action films.  Ahmed, the thief of Bagdad, sees and falls in love
with a beautiful princess who is soon to be married to one of three
villainous suitors.  Each of the suitors and the thief set out to
find magical items.  The art direction and lush production design
are by William Cameron Menzies.  There are many special effects
scenes that ensue which still have the ability to charm the viewer.
(For the sake of comparison to THIEF OF BAGDAD they will also run
Alexander Korda's 1940 remake of THIEF OF BAGDAD [Saturday, October
28, 2:15 AM]).

Only a little less respected (by me, anyway) is Fairbanks' THE
BLACK PIRATE (1926).  Fairbanks plays a man with a vendetta against
the pirates who killed his father.  Instead of fulfilling his
revenge plan he proves himself to be the best pirate of all and
becomes the leader of the buccaneers.  This film has the famous
stunt of Fairbanks sliding down and cutting with his knife a ship
sail.  [Friday, November 20, 2:45 AM].

Well..., the plots are not really sophisticated.  It takes longer
to tell a story in silent films.  But these are fun films intended
for a family audience.

The films scheduled are:

  8:00 PM THE GOOD BAD MAN (1916)
  9:00 PM THE HALF-BREED (1916)
10:00 PM THE MARK OF ZORRO (1920)
  2:45 AM THE BLACK PIRATE (1926)

And while we are on the subject of marathons honoring a single
actor, on Monday, November 23--Boris Karloff's 128th birthday--TCM
will run ten Boris Karloff films in a row:

  6:00 AM THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (1932)
  7:15 AM THE WALKING DEAD (1936)
  8:30 AM WEST OF SHANGHAI (1937)
10:45 AM DEVIL'S ISLAND (1940)
  1:30 PM BEDLAM (1946)
  3:00 PM LURED (1947)
  4:45 PM FRANKENSTEIN 1970 (1958)

Happy birthday, Boris.

Now tradition says that I pick the best film of the month.  My
father-in-law would want me to pick his favorite film of all time,
LOST HORIZON (1937).  Turner has the most complete version I know
of.  [Friday, November 27, 11:45 PM--just before the 1940 THIEF OF
BAGDAD and two films after Tom Hanks' favorite film of all time (I
am told): JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963).]  I have to go with my
father-in-law.  LOST HORIZON (1937).  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Comments on the Film WAR OF THE WORLDS (comments by Evelyn
C. Leeper)

1. The opening credits being done in stencil emphasize the "war"
part of the title.  In 1953, everyone would still be very much
associating that font with the Army.

2. The opening voice-over seems to claim that Jupiter is nearer to
Mars than Earth is ("their nearest world was giant Jupiter").
While this is technically the case when Jupiter and Mars are on one
side of the sun, and Earth on the other, in general when one says
that one planet is closer to another than a third is, the
measurements are between the orbits, not the planets themselves at
a specific point in time.

3. The "Grand Tour" of the planets skipped Venus.  This is probably
because at the time we knew next to nothing about it and even an
image of the planet itself showed nothing but a uniformly clouded-
covered ball.  It at least mentioned Pluto, Neptune, and Uranus,
but only to say they were all too cold, which meant they knew more
about them than about Venus.

4. The first scene at the "meteor" reminds me of the film ACE IN
THE HOLE, with everyone (or almost everyone) trying to figure out
how to make money from it.

5. Isn't it convenient that Clayton Forrester brought square dance
clothes with him on this camping/fishing trip?

6. Was it unusual at the time for the one Hispanic guy to be the
smartest of the three who end up approaching the spaceship?  (But
also the most clueless, since he attempts to re-assure himself by
saying, "Everyone knows that when you wave the white flag, it means
you want to be friends.")

7. The Martians knock out the electricity, the phones, and even the
wind-up watches, but somehow the cars still work.

8. When we see the bunker it is still only less than a day later
the Martians landed--they got those sandbags up very fast!

9. When her uncle is talking to her about how no one has really
tried to talk to the Martians, and then suddenly he mentions how he
likes Forrester, etc., Sylvia seems completely clueless that he
might be planning to try to talk to the Martians.

10. Sylvia and Forrester take shelter in a farmhouse; isn't it
awfully coincidental that it is precisely that farmhouse that the
Martian ship plows into?

11. After the atomic bomb fails, Forrester says, "We'll take all
our instruments and establish a base laboratory in the Rocky
Mountains."  They must really mean the Sierra Nevada; the Rockies
are 800 miles away from Los Angeles at their closest.

12.  There is a visual reference to the "Odessa Steps" sequence of
BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN during the Los Angeles evacuation sequence (at

13. We see ads for a variety of things, including one for Russell
Stover candies.

14. A lot of other countries are mentioned as being places where
ships have landed.  The Soviet Union is not one of them.  [-ecl]

Mark responds:

Hey, this is a film that meant a lot to me.  I feel impelled to
defend it.

5. Forrester could have easily borrowed some square dance clothing.

8. For the military to build a bunker that fast they would have
needed an Army... Oh.

9.  She may not have been thinking too clearly.

10. Not a big coincidence.  The Martians had sent an invasion
fleet.  Many people probably had similar experiences.

11.  Perhaps the location acceptance criteria involved more than
what this one group would have found convenient.

13.  Perhaps that is a product placement.  Or it could have been an
effort at realism.  I will say that they had a film marquee for
Paramount's SAMSON AND DELIAH and a billboard for Bob Hope whose
comedies were made for Paramount.

14.  That is hardly surprising.  This was the 1950s and most US
people were afraid to be less than hostile to the Soviets.



TOPIC: ROTOR DR1 (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: After a deadly virus kills 90% of the human race the world
returns to small camps of survivors frequently fighting each other.
Kitch, the sixteen-year-old main character, together with a girl
his age and an artificially intelligent drone, strike out across
country to try to find Kitch's missing father.  Making the trip
more difficult is the fact that most of the world thinks Kitch's
father is to blame for the devastating viral plague.  This film is
based on, and probably edited from, a web series and crowd-funded
by the drone hobby community.  ROTOR DR1 is directed by Chad Kapper
and written by Steve Moses, Megan Ryberg, Scott Windhauser, and
Seth Yergin. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

There is a great deal of controversy these days about the use of
drones--unmanned aircraft--the technical descendents of remote
controlled aircraft.  Films like Andrew Niccol's GOOD KILL look at
the downside of remote control warfare with drones.  They are
something powerful and new, and people are fearful that their
capabilities will be used against innocents in warfare and to spy
on our own population for government invasion of privacy.  In
situations where we would not want to risk the lives of our own
soldiers we can send in machines while the humans remain safe.
There is no battle armor stronger than a few thousand miles of
distance.  Drones are certainly a useful weapon.  In stark contrast
to the negative view, ROTOR DR1 is a film made by private drone

ROTOR DR1 is based on and probably re-edited from a science fiction
web series of the same name.  Sometime in the near future a deadly
plague has killed all people but one in ten.  Civilization has
fallen apart and scavengers and thieves run wild.  The key to power
may be the drones.  They still fly around the sky like insects
under no obvious control.

Kitch (played by Christian Kapper) is sixteen years old and lives
by his wits since his father disappeared during the pandemic.  When
Kitch's father's heirloom watch is stolen from him, Kitch discovers
the thief is a girl, Maya (played by Natalie Welch), who is his own
age and whom he befriends.  He also gets another friend, a drone
controlled by artificial intelligence that seems to like Kitch.
DR1 becomes for him a sort of an iLassie.  The charters come to
refer to DR1 as "he" and "him," though thankfully there are no
attempts to make DR1 look nearly human like the robots in THE BLACK

The film's funding was crowd-sourced from the drone hobbyist
community.  So it is in a sense an amateur production and the
production values are only sufficient.  The writing is variable.
We hit moments when the writers overestimate the viewer's affection
for the drone DR1.  Within the workman-like prose there are a few
unexpectedly well-written lines.  The people we would identify as
the "bad guys" have scruples themselves.  Their leader finds out
that one of his minions slapped a child he was interrogating and
angrily responds, "We don't hit kids."  You will not find a line
like that in a James Bond film.  I found the story a little padded
at times and other times a little hard to follow.  Also a quick
check with a few experts could have avoided embarrassing technical
mistakes like using the phrase "sciatica around the lips."  (I have
a hard time imagining that from even the most agile of

Tyler Clark's cinematography does not have a lot of flourishes, but
it gets the job done.  It is surprising how much this film does
with so little resource.  I rate ROTOR DR1 a high +1 on the -4 to
+4 scale or 6/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:


TOPIC: STEVE JOBS (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: The major technical and personal milestones in Steve Jobs'
life are woven into what is really a three-act play.  The
performance experience is intense and unrelenting, though word of
mouth says that it is not particularly accurate.  One cannot
understand Steve Jobs without understanding some of his conflicts.
In this film, however, there is little to him but conflict, and
that can be somewhat tiresome to watch.  Danny Boyle directs a
script by Aaron Sorkin based on the book of the same name by Walter
Isaacson.  Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

There is no arguing the fact that Steve Jobs was a creative genius.
Slightly less well-known is that he was totally unpleasant at
times, and frequently totally reprehensible.  This film presents
jigsaw pieces to be put together to tell a somewhat incomplete
portrait of the man.  We see his tactics dealing with competitors,
his tactics dealing with the people who worked on his projects, and
his tactics dealing with his ex-girlfriend and her daughter by Jobs
himself.  Just having so much tactics in life does not speak well
of his character.  You feel that if you knew him he would have his
own tactics in dealing with you.

The format of the film is a play in three acts, each act the drama
that happens in the half hour or so just before Jobs is to go on
stage before a large audience and announce for the first time the
release of some new technical marvel that is going to re-shape the
market.  The idea that all this drama will take place in the three
short intervals is a dramatic conceit.  You might expect it with a
stage play, but in a film it announces that there may be a bit of
tampering with reality.  Each of this film's three acts take place
is what appears to be real-time except for a little bit of
flashbacking.  The idea that this drama is all taking place in just
these few minutes is almost comical to imagine.  Since these short
intervals of time have to cover so much about the title character,
they are performed in a rapid-fire staccato of arguments and ideas.
The dialog is colorful, but a little too well-expressed to be
believed.  Characters are portrayed as so very eloquent for having
ready-formed responses for arguments with the fast-thinking Jobs.
Dealing with Jobs comes off as having been painful and demanding.
One can only feel relief when the 122 minutes with Jobs comes to
its end.  The 2013 film JOBS, covering the same territory, may not
objectively be as good a film, but it is far more pleasant to

The film makes the assumption that the viewer will be interested in
some of the technical issues discussed.  This may be a mistake
since many of the viewers will get lost on issues like the speed of
a Pentium chip or why a stylus on a device is a total design
failure.  Actually, with most electronic tech what the public wants
to know is if it works and what it can do.  Behind-the-scenes
technical struggles are not unique to the electronics industry.
And disagreement over technical details does not make good film
drama.  In general the public attitude is that if the soup tastes
good, they do not care what a labor the chef had making it.

Jobs is played as demanding and uncompromising.  He is worth
billions, but he lets his ex-girlfriend live with their daughter on
$385 a month because he can take that privilege.  Michael
Fassbender gives a pounding performance as the reprehensible Jobs,
though he has looks very different from those of Jobs, so that I
never lost myself in the character.  On the other hand, Kate
Winslet is playing the less familiar Joanna Hoffman but she is hard
to recognize as being Winslet.

Is the two hours of argument worth sitting through?  That depends
on the viewer.  If you are looking for a more pleasant expose, see
Joshua Michael Stern's JOBS.  The latter is not a great film, but
it makes the history and gossip about Jobs more pleasant and is
perhaps more accurate.  I rate Danny Boyle's STEVE JOBS a high +1
on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



LIMITLESS, BLINDSPOT) (television reviews by Dale L. Skran)

One of my favorite SF series, CONTINUUM, just ended its run with a
short season.  The show did a decent job of wrapping things up for
the main characters, and in sticking to a consistent theory of time
travel.  At the level of lesser characters, or new characters, it
is clear that there could have been a full season or even more of
development, but the conclusion was not a stinker on the order of
LOST.  CONTINUUM has not been the perfect series.  Sometimes the
writing was uneven.  Sometimes the acting was not the best.
Sometimes the direction was choppy.  However, CONTINUUMM introduced
a large number of solid SF ideas in the context of an elaborate
time war plot replete with timely political speculation.  The
series included some quite engaging actors and actresses, mainly
among the bad guys, who over time mostly realized the limits of
terrorism.  I'll miss it.

However, from the ashes of CONTINUUM arose three compelling new SF
shows.  One, MINORITY REPORT, is SF with capital letters, showing a
complex vision of 2065.  LIMITLESS is SF in a more contemporary
key--just over the horizon near-future speculation, but very much
SF.  BLINDSPOT dances along the edge of SF, with, so far, a few
authentic SF ideas stuck in a plot that is part techno-thriller,
part missing persons mystery, part conspiracy theory, and full-
throttle engaging.  All are part of the current explosion of SF on
TV.  All three are worth checking out.

MINORITY REPORT may have the greatest appeal to fans of written SF.
In many ways, MINORITY REPORT resembles a TV version of Asimov's SF
crime stories.  There is a good bit of background detail showing
how things are different in 2065.  I won't spoil the fun, but each
episode shows a bit more detail of what 2065 is like
technologically and socially, and these extrapolations are both
plausible and generally interesting.  MINORITY REPORT is a true
sequel to the movie, following the same pre-cogs as they adapt to
life after their cloistered existence as part of the Pre-Crime
organization in the movie.

The main character, "Dash" Parker (played by Stark Sands), can see
only confusing glimpses of the crime scene, with the result that
real detective work is required to establish basics like who the
potential victim might be.  One of the background ideas is that
each of the three pre-cogs in the movie saw something different
about each future murder, and it was only working together as a
single mind that they were able to get the full picture.  Dash is
charmingly played by Sands as an innocent who has spent most of his
life hooked up in a milk-filled tank experiencing murders.  Dash
wants to prevent the murders he continues to see from happening,
and thus begins our story.  Fairly soon he encounters Detective
Lara Vega, and after a certain amount of cloak-and-dagger, they
team up to secretly use Dash's pre-cog abilities to continue to
solve crimes.

Looming in the background are Dash's brother, Arthur, who has used
his abilities to see numbers and names associated with murders to
make a large amount of money and operate in the criminal
underworld, and his older sister Agatha, who proves to be a
ruthless manipulator of human lives via her pre-cog abilities.
Agatha has seen a future where the three pre-cogs are again hooked
up in the milk tank, and somehow Detective Vega is involved.

This is all at least mildly entertaining, but the acting sometimes
doesn't gel, and having pre-cogs on your side, even with the
limitations presented, makes things a bit too easy.  Deus ex pre-
cog seems to get our heroes out of too many situations.  All in
all, MINORITY REPORT turns out to the least interesting of these
three new SF outings.

LIMITLESS follows the pattern of being a sequel to the movie of the
same name, which is in turn based on the book THE DARK FIELDS.  The
first episode introduces a new character, Brian Finch (played by
Jake McDorman), who like Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) in the movie,
is a talented but shiftless looser.  Once on NZT he becomes not
just the smartest man in the room, but the smartest man in the
world.  The first episode feels like a remake of the movie, but
after a while it starts to move in different directions.  Bradley
Cooper appears, reprising his role from the movie as Senator Eddie
Morra.  The movie ends with NZT-enhanced Morra running for Senate,
so the TV show appears to take place at most a few years later,
with Morra now a Senator.

Morra has some mysterious purpose in providing Finch with NZT, and
this purpose requires Finch to work for the FBI.  It turns out that
the FBI was already aware of the existence of NZT, and had
attempted to use it to create a group of super-agents.  Alas, this
program ran aground on the horrific side effects of NZT use.  Morra
has secretly invented (or paid for the invention of) a treatment
that prevents those side effects.  Once applied to Finch, the
treatment makes him of great interest to the FBI as a unique
subject that does not suffer the side effects of NZT.

The show has now evolved into a near-future FBI procedural, with
Finch each week assisting the FBI in catching a major criminal
while sometimes helping solve another crime on the side or running
secret missions for Morra and his minions.  An interesting touch is
that to keep Finch under control, the FBI gives him an NZT pill in
the morning which lasts for twelve hours, meaning that Finch starts
an evening date as the most interesting man in the world and ends
it as plain old loser Finch.  The NZT time is filmed in bright
light and the non-NZT time in muted blues.  This structure allows
for a lot of interesting character development that didn't fit into
the movie.

Of special interest is the show's attempt to put on-screen the
thought processes of a super-genius.  This is done using a variety
of techniques.  Sometimes a montage of images Finch is considering,
including equations or drawings are presented, gradually merging
into a pattern.  Another device is to show multiple versions of
Finch working different tasks.  Often two versions of Finch will
argue over how to solve a problem.  Sometimes the "smart" Finch
will leave video messages for the "normal" Finch.  Overall, I find
this presentation of high-level problem solving to be excellent.

Another aspect of LIMITLESS is the portrayal of super-intelligence
and its limitations.  Finch is the smartest man in the world, but
if he doesn't know the facts--and sometimes he doesn't, he can come
off like a con man.  He functions best when the FBI lays out a vast
amount of data for him to analyze.  He becomes bored easily, and
surfs the web looking for challenges to solve.  There are some
inconsistencies with the movie.  In the movie, Morra is able to
defeat a gang of men by recalling fighting techniques from boxing
matches and TV shows.  In the TV show, Finch's attempt results in
him getting knocked out by the first punch his opponent throws.
Hopefully this will get rationalized in some fashion.

Finch's partner, FBI agent Rebecca Harris (well-played by Jennifer
Carpenter), does an excellent job and seems more like a real person
than the models often chosen for such roles.  Jake McDorman rises
to the dual challenge of playing both normal/loser Finch and
superhuman Finch.  He is fun to watch and quite believable as a man
who finds himself caught up in a situation of staggering danger and
potential.  The shows makes good use of "just over the edge"
technology.  One episode revolves around the theft of a long-lived
genetically modified mouse, for example.  Ron Rifkin adds weight to
the cast as Dennis Finch, Brian's father.  Overall, LIMITLESS is an
engaging follow-up to the movie.  I find it more entertaining and
more plausible than MINORITY REPORT, which by focusing on pre-cog
abilities, veers into sheer fantasy.

At last we come to BLINDSPOT, the least SFie of the three.
Starring Jamie Alexander (Sif in THOR), BLINDSPOT opens with a
bizarre situation--a large bag is found in Times Square.  It turns
out to contain not a bomb, but a nude woman.  Oddly, this woman is
completely tattooed over her entire body.  Stranger still, she has
total amnesia, and appears to have been given a massive dose of a
chemical that can erase memories.  But one thing is clear in the
tattoos--the name of FBI agent Kurt Weller (Sullivan Stapleton).
Weller is called in from the field where he heads the FBI Critical
Incident Response Group.

Figuring out this mystery becomes Weller's job #1.  It gradually
evolves that the tattoos are clues to future crimes, or plots in
the making.  Further, it is established that "Jane" (from Jane Doe)
may not remember who she is, but she does retain a vast array of
skills useful in a criminal investigation.  She can read and speak
obscure dialects of Chinese.  She is a top-level hand-to-hand
fighter.  She is a really great shot under pressure.  And she is
brave and self-sacrificing.  It turns out she has one erased
tattoo--that of a Navy SEAL.  But there has never been a female

This is only one of a never-ending stream of mysteries as the team
faces off against increasingly deadly menaces, including a secret
US Air Force drone group that is carrying out kill missions inside
the US, terrorists building a dirty bomb, and high-level CDC
officials who have decided to use the CDC's disease stockpile to
kill as many people as possible to protect Mother Earth.

Overall, this is handled well.  BLINDSPOT is so fast-paced and
dense with plot ideas that thirty minutes into the show you feel
like it must be almost over, but usually it is just getting
started.  Alexander does a great job as "Jane"--part steely cold
and part incredibly vulnerable.  The tensions on Weller's FBI team
are plausible and well acted.  The menaces are realistic just-over-
the-edge techno-thriller ideas.  There is only one "SF" idea--the
amnesia-inducing drug--but the entire plot is so speculative and
engaging that, rather like THE MENTALIST, BLINDSPOT should appeal
to many SF fans.  It is also apparent that the person behind the
tattoos is not just very much in the center of secret and criminal
activities, but a brilliant planner who likes to play elaborate
games.  Such a character, rather like Red John in THE MENTALIST,
becomes an SF idea by themselves.

Hail CONTINUUM.  It was a great SF show that has not received the
attention it deserves.  I highly recommend it for binge watching.
But all good things end.  Fortunately, there can be new good
things.  I suggest SF fans should check out MINORITY REPORT,

Time for a little commentary here.  It has been often said that
STAR TREK was never about the future--it was about the present.
The Klingons were the Russians, and so on.  This is, of course,
true of all SF to some degree.  In the 1960s we had shows like THE
SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN that prepared audiences to accept cyborg
implants.  Today cochlear implants provide hearing to thousands who
would otherwise be deaf, and the first cyborg eyes have been
approved by the FDA.  These implants don't make anyone superhuman
right now, but in time they will.  However, I predict no one will
much care when they do.

Recently there have been a spate of TV shows, including THE
now LIMITLESS, that exult in the virtues of superior intelligence
and "neurodifference."  Many of them have been extremely popular,
suggesting that the general public is increasingly ready to accept
people of high intelligence in a way that would be hard to predict
in the 60s.  The future is creeping up on us, and the future of
LIMITLESS in particular might already be happening.  If you see
someone looking at you with eyes that glisten just a bit too much,
it will be too late.  [-dls]


TOPIC: Corrections to and Comments on the Report on the State of
Horror (by David Goldfarb and Philip Chee)

In response to Evelyn's comments on Ellen Datlow's lecture on the
state of horror in the 10/23/15 issue of the MT VOID, David
Goldfarb sends these corrections:

The magazine title is "Lightspeed" (one word), not "Light Speed".

"Abyss & Apex" is one zine title, not two.  [-dg]

And something I (Evelyn) should have mentioned:

Ellen Datlow is a contributing editor for, so not
surprising that she would recommend the magazine highly.  [-dg]

And Philip Chee writes:

[Evelyn writes,] "... 'The Dark', 'F&SF', and  She noted
that the latter pays very well: 25 cents a word for under 5,000
words, 15 cents a word for 5,000 to 10,000 words, and ten cents a
word for anything longer."

In other words this encourages writers to write long serials broken
up into installments of 4,999 words or less.  Que Dickens.  [-pc]


TOPIC: William Goldman, MARATHON MAN and Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(letters of comment by Mike Glyer and Peter Trei)

In response to Mark's comments on MARATHON MAN in the 10/23/15
issue of the MT VOID, Mike Glyer writes:

This does not strike me as anything that could be an unintentional
error.  Both times it is William Goldman giving us purported quotes
from the Locksley Hall poems and both times he gets it wrong.  The
lines are just not there. I wonder if Goldman had even read the

What are the chances the misquotes are both intentional, and meant
as an additional revelation about the character of the overbearing
prof?  [-mg]

Mark responds:

Without contacting Goldman--he is still alive--we can only
speculate on whether it was intentional or not that the quote is
wrong in both places.  I suppose it did make the quote marginally
more interesting.  It certainly raised my curiosity to go back and
read the poem again.  Somehow a discussion of progress was not what
I would have expected from English poetry and there is only a whiff
of the social issue in the original poem.

A fear of progress seems strangely timely for our own present.

And Peter Trei writes:

I think Goldman is mixing several things up--including Jethro Tull.

The correct quote from LH-60YA is a riposte to this quote from LH:

'Not in vain the distance beckons, forward forward let us range.
  Let the Great World spin forever down the ringing grooves of

(which, btw pretty well sums up what I like about SF, though I like
to substitute 'future' for 'distance'.)

'Ringing' occurs in that memorable couplet, and could have easily
have been linked in Goldman's mind to both Jethro Tull and the
'Locksley Hall--Sixty Years After' quote.

BTW, I think 'Locksley Hall' envisages not just flight, but air
freight, and aerial warfare:

     For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
     Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;

     Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
     Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales;

     Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a
         ghastly dew
     From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;

Tennyson's vision predates Kipling's ABC ["Aerial Board of
Control"] stories by seventy years.  [-pt]


TOPIC: THE MARTIAN (letter of comment by Philip Chee)

In response to Dale Skran's comments on THE MARTIAN in the 10/23/15
issue of the MT VOID, Philip Chee writes:

[Dale Skran wrote,] "At least one reviewer has complained that the
movie is not international enough, and that commercial space is
ignored.  THE MARTIAN takes place in some future where Russia and
Europe are not involved in going to Mars, but China has an active
space program.  One can criticize this, but it is a perfectly
reasonable extrapolation by Weir, and the movie handles it well."

And India, which currently has an orbiter above Mars.

[Dale Skran wrote,] "Finally, although the F-word is used twice by
Watney, his often salty language in the novel has been cleaned up
for the most part."

As you know Bob, to qualify for a PG-13 certification you can't
exceed two F-words.  [-pc]

Evelyn notes:

India's current space program doesn't really enter into the plot of
THE MARTIAN.  I think Dale's point was that extrapolating that the
only relevant space program for the plot was the Chinese was

Also, one sees Watney *mouth* several more F-words, but since they
are not on the soundtrack, I guess they don't count towards the
rating.  [-ecl]


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

Borges (edited by Martin Arias and Martin Hadis; translated by
Katherine Silver) (ISBN 978-0-8112-2274-7) is the transcription of
the lectures that Borges gave that formed this course at the
University of Buenos Aires in 1966.

To start with, it is worth reading the introduction ("About This
Book"), because it talks about some of the difficulties in
transcribing the lectures from tape.  In addition to Borges quoting
in multiple languages, and with a slight speech impediment, the
transcriber's lack of knowledge in the field led to bizarre
transcriptions.  (I am reminded of the person taking notes at a
diversity meeting I attended who wrote about "the 80L"; we
eventually figured out that is how she heard "ADL"!)

The biggest problem that remains, though, is that although the text
mentions a bibliography and an appendix, neither is present in this
edition.  Whether they were in the hardback and left out of the
paperback, or were never included to start with, I have no idea.
(I have written the publisher in the hopes of obtaining them if
they were issued as an errata sheet, but I don't hold out much
hope.)  The only other error of note is the persistent use of the
title "The Portrait of Dorian Gray" when the correct title is "The
Picture of Dorian Gray".

Borges also says that "all those who have made a film based on []
have made a mistake; they used the same actor to play Jekyll and
Hyde."  This was almost but not quite true at the time of his
lecture [1966]; in 1953, stuntman Eddie Parker did most of the
Edward Hyde scenes in an Edward Hyde mask because at 66, Boris
Karloff was too old to do the athletic work involved in Hyde's
character.  However, Parker was uncredited in the role.  After
Borges's lecture, in 1971, DOCTOR JEKYLL Y EL HOMBRE LOBO starred
Jack Taylor and Paul Naschy in the two roles.  And in 1972, DOCTOR
JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE, not surprisingly, used two different actors
(Ralph Bates and Martine Beswick).

You can tell what parts of English literature Borges is most
interested in--he spends seven of the twenty-five lectures on
Anglo-Saxon literature, while most English literature overview
courses I have seen spend only one or two lectures out of
considerably more than twenty-five on that period.  He spends
little time on Shakespeare (maybe the iambic pentameter of the
language does not translate well into Spanish, and hence much of
Shakespeare's skill is lost on someone reading him in translation.
And by "English literature" he means the literature of Great
Britain (he includes Scotland as well as England), not the broader
range of all literature written in the English language (though he
does frequently mention Walt Whitman).

Borges translates the last word of BEOWULF ("lofgeornost") as "most
eager for praise."  Previously (as the title of Fred Lerner's
excellent fanzine) I have seen this translated as "worthy of
praise"--one wonders if we can ever really know for sure which is
more accurate.

Borges said in Class 4, "It was said of one of the Norwegian kings,
Olaf, that he was so agile he could jump from oar to oar as he
sailed the ship."  So could Kirk Douglas.

I have written several times about the linguistic status of colors,
so I naturally found it fascinating when Borges claimed that Norse
historians did not have (or at any rate, did not use) any words for
color other than "Blaland" ("Blueland") and "solr" ("yellowed",
referring to fallowed fears and seas).  But even "Bla"/"Blue" seems
problematic, since it is their name for Africa, so "Bla" may also
mean "black".  Though the Norse mention snow, blood, and dields,
they do not call these white, red, or green.  Borges compares this
with the Homeric Greeks, whom he also found lacking in a color
sense, and contrasts this with the Celts, whose poetry from the
same period as the Norse abounds in descriptions of color and color

In Class 14, Borges describes how Samuel Taylor Coleridge would
drop in on his friends and "at first it was assumed that the visits
would last a week, then they lasted a month, and in some cases
years.  And Coleridge accepted this hospitality, not with
ingratitude, but with a kind of absentmindedness, because he was
the most absentminded of men."  This sounds a lot like the
lifestyle of the mathematician Paul Erdos.

He also relates (in a slight digression) how his friend Macedonio
Fernandez would leave manuscripts behind whenever he moved (as did
Coleridge) and when asked whether he minded losing what he wrote,
replied, "What, do you think we are so rich, that we have something
to lose?  What I thought up once, I'll think up again, so I lose
nothing."  Borges does not comment on the irony of this, that
Coleridge is best known for losing the thought for his poem "Kublai
Khan" and not being able to regain it.

Though the editors did their best to footnote references that the
average reader (and particularly the Anglophone reader) might not
understand, a few slipped through.  Borges says, "Coleridge was
born in 1772, two years after Wordsworth, who was, as you know,
born in 1770, which is easy to remember."  This is not footnoted,
and it took a bit of searching to discover what Borges *may* have
been referring to: the Falklands Crisis of 1770.  One presumes that
this date is one that the Argentines taking the course would
recognize even though we do not.

[I really dislike the cover design for this book, with its
fluorescent horizontal yellow bars across the front and back in an
imitation of the highlighting one often finds in books.  I realize
that there is a philosophical divide between those who believe
highlighting, underlining, and so on are fine, and those who are
appalled by it.  I am in the latter camp, with the proviso that
minimal lightly penciled underlining and notations are sometimes
permissible.  But I have seen books in which more than 50% of each
page was highlighted and I cannot understand how that can serve any
purpose.]  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           The circumstances of human society are too
           complicated to be submitted to the rigor of
           mathematical calculation.
                                           --Marquis De Custine