Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
05/06/16 -- Vol. 34, No. 44, Whole Number 1909

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Fiction (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        Hugo Award News (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        Do Mathematicians Live in a Fantasy World? (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        Retro Hugo Finalists Availability (comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        AURORA by Kim Stanley Robinson (audiobook review
                by Joe Karpierz)
        Space X to Mars (comments by Gregory Frederick)
        THE INVISIBLE MAN (letter of comment by Gary McGath)
        This Week's Reading (THIRD-CLASS TICKET and TWELFTH NIGHT)
                (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Fiction (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

I am watching THE RAZOR'S EDGE based on the novel by Somerset
Maugham.  The hero has earned great wisdom and it serves him well.
It is so frustrating.  It works so well for him.  That is how I
know it is fiction.  I have tried to be the "great wise man" thing
three or four times and it has *never* worked for me.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Hugo Award News (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

In what appears to be a new annual tradition, two finalists have
announced their withdrawal from the Hugo ballot.  Thomas A. Mays
(nominated for the short story "The Commuter") and John O'Neill
(for the fanzine "Black Gate) have declined their nominations.  The
Hugo Administrator has not yet responded; given that they had
originally accepted the nominations.  Mays said that he had known
he was on the "Rapid Puppies" slate when he accepted, but withdrew
when he realized the slate had swept the category.  O'Neill must
also have initially accepted; it is not clear what made him change
his mind.  While it is the case that the Fanzine category was also
swept by the RP slate, at least two of the finalists are nominees
that could (and had) been nominated on their own.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Do Mathematicians Live in a Fantasy World? (comments by Mark
R. Leeper)

I frequently find that people have strange ideas about mathematics
and mathematicians.  They feel that there is something otherworldly
about mathematics and the people who do it.  It is thought that
people who get involved in mathematics problems are off in some
Cloud-Cuckoo Land.  I have been told by a woman who worked in a
bank (a mother of a co-worker) that mathematicians had lost touch
with humanity. I have to say the mathematicians I have met
generally love what they are doing and are open to the humanities.
At Stanford's mathematics department the professors would get
together and play recorder music in the quad.  (That is the musical
instrument "recorder" not the electronic device.) Someone who works
in a bank is much more likely to be divorced from humanity.  But
what I have always assumed that people of a mathematical frame of
mind have a better idea of reality than most people.

I remember back during Desert Storm I was discussing then-current
events with a friend.  I told my friend that it was still possible
that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, the so-called
WMDs.  My friend told me, no it had been proved that Hussein had no
WMDs.  This struck me as odd since it is very difficult (though in
some cases not impossible) to prove a negative.  How was it proved
I asked.  Well, the strongest believers that Hussein had WMDs had
presented their case and it had been proven to be unconvincing.
But that is not a proof, I objected.  "Yes it is," my friend
insisted.  He said he had been trained as a lawyer and in a court
of law that constitutes proof.  Ouch.  Suddenly it became clear to
me how someone can be proven guilty of a crime and twenty years
later the same person can be exonerated of that crime.

This was a different definition of proof than I was used to in my
training in math.  It is a very rare circumstance that something is
accepted as proven true and later found to be false.  In
mathematics if a proposition is proven to be true, it will just not
later be proven false.  With very few exceptions, when a conjecture
is proven true it stays true.  (I seem to remember that there was
at one time an intended proof of the Four-Color Theorem that later
was shown to be faulty.)

Back in March 2001 the Afghan Taliban had been threatening to
dynamite two huge Buddha statues.  The world press was covering the
event very closely

I commented on this in the VOID and said that much of their motive
probably was to shock people so they would get attention.  I said
that they were using the press to get free publicity.  The best
thing the press could do would be to just not cover the incident.
One of my readers--an ex-newspaper-man--indignantly said that it is
ALWAYS better to have press coverage of what was going on.  As what
he called "proof" he described three incidents in which (he
claimed) it was better to have press coverage.  My response was
that I could not verify his facts, but even so, three examples was
nowhere near proving a proposition.

Examples do not prove a proposition, I told him.  As an instance
from mathematics I can give plenty of examples of odd integers that
are primes.  That still does not prove that all odd integers are
prime.  His response was that we were not talking about mathematics
here.  We were talking about the "real world."  Somehow that was
supposed to make his reasoning sound more accurate. It seems to me
that if you want to be right in what you say about the real world,
you need to do the mathematical sort of reasoning.

As an aside I was reminded of this disagreement when recently there
was a discussion of ISIS militants who are suspected of trying to
obtain materials to build a dirty nuclear bomb.  They had contact
with someone who worked in a nuclear power plant, raising fears
that the nuclear worker might be helping them obtain material to
build the bomb.  The expert on the radio, a specialist in nuclear
security, did not consider this a danger.  He said after all that
there were easier places to get the nuclear materials.  And he
revealed two such sources as examples.  That struck me as being
indiscreet.  Frankly, I did not doubt his point and I would have
felt a good deal better if his easy sources of dangerous materials
were not announced so openly on the radio.

Incidentally, one disadvantage (or perhaps advantage) of being a
mathematician is that it seems to sometimes be an exemption from
jury duty, because a mathematician is expected to think logically
and probably differently from the way a lawyer thinks.  A lawyer
does not want to have to think like a mathematician if there is a
mathematician on the jury.

But I think what all this says is that there is some way that
mathematicians think that is not like other people think.  Not
trying to prove by example and not trying to prove by someone's
failure to disprove are just requisites of thinking with a logical
rigor that should apply to all fields.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: In a really different and creative horror film three
worlds come together in an old mansion that seems to bring together
our world with a world of demons and a third where the story of
Sleeping Beauty is working itself out.  A modern man inherits the
mansion and the curse that goes along with it.  The curse draws him
into a Grimm's fairy tale and a world of horror.  Pearry Reginald
Teo directs a script he co-wrote with Josh Nadler.  This is a
fantasy/horror film that is at least as original and audacious as
any horror film I have seen this year.  Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or

You may remember the story of the Grimms' fairy tale "Sleeping
Beauty" if not from the Brothers Grimm than from the Disney
animated cartoon adaption of the story.  (There are actually
several other versions.)  Princess Briar Rose pricks her finger on
a spinning wheel spindle and falls into an apparently endless coma-
like sleep.  There she remains until rescued by a handsome prince
who kisses her and awakens her back to life.  THE CURSE OF SLEEPING
BEAUTY has (among other things) yet another pass at the story.  But
it is just a part of the horror existing here.  Thomas Kaiser
(played by Ethan Peck) inherits an old mansion that has been in his
family for decades.  But it is the home of a curse on the family
that goes back something like nine centuries.

Under the title curse, Thomas must keep at bay the demons who haunt
the castle first in his dreams and later in more corporeal form.
And he must search for Briar Rose the beauty he sees appearing
asleep in his own dreams.  Somehow he seems to be at the nexus of
at least three worlds, one in the modern 21st century, another in
the world of Grimms' fairy tales, and another in the dark
threatening world more grim than the grimmest of Brothers Grimms'
fairy tales.  Well, fairy tales and horror have always had a close
connection.  The story starts a little slow, but soon shakes that
off.  One problem with the film is that there are characters
talking in strange voices that are a little hard to understand.
This complicates deciphering the end of the story.

One of the real heroes of the film is production designer
Alessandro Marvelli who gives us an extremely spooky yet artistic
house with statues and mannequins: things that are human or maybe
just not quite.  It just adds to a palpable chill.  The fairy tale
lands are presented almost poetically like scenes from picture

One thing that stands out to anyone educated in STEM fields: we
have a computer whiz doing work on data found.  He says his current
software re-uses logarithms that were used for a previous project.
Apparently nobody present knew a logarithm from an algorithm.

Mixing a fairy tale with what is mostly a horror film is an
audacious approach, but the script does not give the story time to
flesh out the two fantasy worlds.  Still, the film is a fresh idea
in a genre where too many ideas are overused and stale.  I rate THE
CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.
THE CURSE OF SLEEPING BEAUTY will be in theaters on May 13th and on
VOD and iTunes on May 17th.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: AURORA by Kim Stanley Robinson (copyright 2015 Orbit, 2015
Hachette Audio, $12.99, 16 hrs. 55 min., narrated by Ali Ahn)
(excerpt from the Duel Fish Codices: an audiobook review by Joe

Mankind has a fascination with travelling to the stars and settling
other planets.  The desire to do this is a natural extension of
historical explorers and settlers:  the "discovery" and exploration
of America, the settling of the old west, the manned expeditions to
the moon and the unmanned exploration of Mars and the outer solar
system.  But we seem to have reached out limit.  The laws of
physics tell us we can't travel faster than light, so exploration
of other solar systems is out of reach.

Of course, science fiction writers have found ways of travelling to
other stars and distant galaxies for decades now.  Most of those
methods are either impossible  (faster than light travel) or beyond
our knowledge (wormholes, for example).  One way that writers have
gotten humanity to the stars is via the generational starship; put
a bunch of travellers on a starship designed to last a very long
time, let them have families and live their lives as normally as
they can until they get to their destination, then settle the
planet and voila, humanity has expanded into the galaxy.  There are
any number of novels that have variations on this story, but in the
end, humanity gets there and survives.

Kim Stanley Robinson's latest novel AURORA is a generational
starship novel, but it's different from any other I've read.
AURORA starts out with the ship just a few years away from its
destination, Tau Ceti.  The ship is showing signs of wear, and it
will have some trouble making it there according to the ship's
chief engineer Devi.  As planetfall gets near, we follow the life
of Devi's daughter Freya as she grows up and discovers what it
means to live on a generational starship.  We learn, through Devi's
eyes, as well as the eyes of Ship, the story's narrator, that
failures are occurring all over the ship, happening faster than
they can be repaired.  And they are not just mechanical problems;
there are biological, sociological, and environmental issues.
Eventually the ship reaches the Tau Ceti system, and a moon is
selected for settlement.  Not long after, things go wrong--very
wrong. How the travelers deal with the problems that arose as a
result of landing on that particular moon is really the meat of the

AURORA certainly is a generational starship story, but it's like
none I've read before.  Robinson is sending a message with this
book, and it's not a pleasant one, especially for a race of people
that want to leave the womb and go to the stars.  The message is
that it's very hard to do, probably impossible.  The traditional
generational starship story usual is one that has a positive
ending--humanity travels great distances, gets where it wants to
go, lands on a planet, and settles the planet.  Then of course you
have the endless sequels that tell what happens to those settlers.
But hold that thought for a moment.

Robinson has made it very clear in interviews, articles, and other
books he's written that infodumps are essential to a science
fiction story, even at the expense of characterization which has
become so important, especially in modern day science fiction.  The
first half or so of the book develops Freya's character so that we
understand her actions later on.  The second half of the book is
almost devoid of the same kinds of characterization.  Character
interactions, when there are any, are used to allow Robinson to go
into high infodump mode.  And the message of all that infodumping
is that travel to the stars is extremely difficult, if not
impossible. Robinson is not afraid to tell us, in something
excruciating detail, how the universe works and how it really is
working against you.

Robinson is telling us that no matter how much planning is done for
a long range interstellar mission, it's not all going to go the way
the plan says it's going to go.  There will be mechanical failures:
Things will break, unexpectedly wear out, or just not work the way
they are expected to.  Some bacteria will creep in somehow,
somewhere, and kill the crops and animals that the settlers are
depending on for food.  People will become unhappy with their
situation.  Those volunteers that left the solar system six
generations prior to the start of the story were okay with being
thrown into the unknown.  Those that were born into it on the trip
didn't ask for their situation--it was thrust upon them.  They
don't like mandated population control, or the biome in which they
live.  When pressed for a decision after the incident on the moon
they landed on arose, there was dissension and disagreement as to
how to handle it, and violence resulted--just like back on Earth.
It's not clear that makeshift solutions to unforeseen problems will
work as there is no precedent.

There is more, much more, but I could be venturing into spoiler
territory if I go too much further.  It seems that what Robinson is
telling us is that maybe, just maybe, we ought to take care of the
planet we have, because it's going to be difficult to leave and go
elsewhere.  The unknown may be exhilarating and exciting, but it
can also be terrifying (there, I've managed to say something about
the latter part of the book without actually spoiling anything).
We don't know it all, we can't know it all, and we can't plan for
it all.

With regard to sequels, I think Robinson has been somewhat sneaky
with AURORA.  Unless you blink and therefore miss it, AURORA takes
place in the same universe as 2312 (which may be in the same
universe as his award winning Mars trilogy).  There are a few
references to things that we know about from 2312 that put this
story in that setting.  If you squint a bit I suppose, then, that
you could call this a sequel to 2312.  However, it also seems clear
that if he wants to, Robinson can write a sequel to AURORA based on
the events surrounding the events that occurred at Tau Ceti.  It
would be interesting to read that book if it ever comes about.

AURORA is a fine novel, one of the best, along with NEMESIS GAMES,
that I read from 2015, and in my opinion is superior to 2312.  You
may not like what it is telling you, but it certainly is a
fascinating and different look at the generational starship story.

Ali Ahn is an adequate narrator for the book, and she fits because
AURORA is narrated by Ship, who has a female persona.  An awful
generalization, but one that I'm going to make because it suits the
situation, is that there is one type of bad narrator, one type of
good narrator, and then there's the adequate type of narrator.  The
bad one is the one that jars you out of the story for any number of
reasons.  A narrator should allow you to immerse yourself into the
story without kicking you out of it.  It's hard to describe the
best kind of narrator (but I'll try anyway), which would be one
that gets the characters right, the voices right, and brings
emotion to the work.  Ali Ahn is the adequate kind of narrator--the
one you don't notice one way or another, who does not kick you out
of the story but doesn't knock it out of the park, either.
Whether that is actually good or not is up to the listener, but
that works for me, and that's what Ali Ahn brought to AURORA.


TOPIC: Space X to Mars (comments by Gregory Frederick)

Space X plans to launch an unmanned Dragon capsule to Mars by 2018.
They will use the new Falcon Heavy rocket which is basically, three
Falcon 9 rockets attached together.  The Mars bound Dragon capsule
can land on Mars using its Drago retro-rockets and landing struts.
This Dragon capsule could carry humans to Mars someday also though
it does not have much living space.  I would guess they could
attach an inflatable living module to the Dragon to add space.

Mark replies:

I guess NdT sort of shamed them into it:



TOPIC: THE INVISIBLE MAN (letter of comment by Gary McGath)

In response to Mark's comments on INVISIBLE MAN APPEARS in the
04/29/16 issue of the MT VOID, Gary McGath writes:

That reminds me that there was once an announcement on TV: "Because
of the following special program, THE INVISIBLE MAN will not be
seen tonight."  [-gmg]


TOPIC: Retro Hugo Finalists Availability (comments by Evelyn
C. Leeper)

Last week we included the list of finalists for the Hugo and Retro
Hugo Awards.  If you are a member of MidAmeriCon II, you will
probably get "The Packet": a file with electronic versions of
many/most of the fiction nominees.  If you are not a member, or if
you prefer your Retro reading more ... well ... retro, here are
places to find hard-copies (given that the original publications
are all pretty much unavailable).  You may be able to get some at
your library or through inter-library loan.  Otherwise Amazon,, or are good places to start.

As I noted last week, Heinlein's collection THE PAST THROUGH
TOMORROW covers five of his stories.  THE GREAT SCIENCE FICTION
STORIES, VOLUME 2 (1940) (DAW Books, edited by Asimov & Greenberg)
has another three: "It" by Theodore Sturgeon, "Strange Playfellow"
(a.k.a. "Robbie") by Isaac Asimov, and "Farewell to the Master" by
Harry Bates.  But this volume is a bit more expensive than the
other sources for these stories listed below.

"Available" for out-of-print books means there are reasonably
priced used copies available.

- Gray Lensman by E. E. "Doc" Smith (out of print, but available)
- The Ill-Made Knight by T. H. White (the third part of THE ONCE
     AND FUTURE KING) (in print in mass market)
- Kallocain by Karin Boye (online free at; also available in
     hard copy)
- The Reign of Wizardry by Jack Williamson (out of print, but
- Slan by A. E. Van Vogt (in print in trade paperback and ebook;
     also available)

- "Coventry" by Robert A. Heinlein (in Heinlein's collection
     THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW) (out of print, but available)
- "If This Goes On..." by Robert A. Heinlein (in Heinlein's
     collection THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW) (out of print, but
- "Magic, Inc." by Robert A. Heinlein (in Heinlein's WALDO &
     MAGIC) (in trade paperback and ebook; also available used)
- "The Mathematics of Magic" by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher
     Pratt (part of THE INCOMPLETE ENCHANTER) (out of print, but
- "The Roaring Trumpet" by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt
     (part of THE INCOMPLETE ENCHANTER) (out of print, but

- "Blowups Happen" by Robert A. Heinlein (in Heinlein's
     collection THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW) (out of print, but
- "Darker Than You Think" by Jack Williamson (online free as
     a PDF, MOBI, etc., of the original magazine at
- "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates (in Healy & McComas's
     ADVENTURES IN TIME AND SPACE)  (out of print, but available)
- "It!" by Theodore Sturgeon (in NOT WITHOUT SORCERY and also in
     WITHOUT SORCERY) (out of print, but available)
- "The Roads Must Roll" by Robert A. Heinlein (in Heinlein's
     collection THE PAST THROUGH TOMORROW) (out of print, but

Short Story:
- "Martian Quest" by Leigh Brackett (online free at
- "Requiem" by Robert A. Heinlein (in Heinlein's collection THE
     PAST THROUGH TOMORROW) (out of print, but available)
- "Robbie" by Isaac Asimov (in I, ROBOT) (in print in mass market)
- "The Stellar Legion" by Leigh Brackett (online free at
- "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" by Jorge Luis Borges (and in
     translation in FICCIONES [tr. Alastair Reid], in LABYRINTHS
     [tr. James E. Irby], and in COLLECTED FICTIONS [tr. Andrew
     Hurley]) (some are in print; all are available reasonably
     priced)  There is no consensus on which translation is
     the best; some would name a fourth, Norman Thomas di
     Giovanni's, available at
     A comparison of the first paragraph in the original and in
     each translation is available at

Dramatic Presentation (Long):
- DR. CYCLOPS (DVD, Netflix)
- FANTASIA (DVD, Netflix)
The hard one to find is ONE MILLION B.C., which has never been
released on DVD and is not available from Netflix.  (Do *not*
confuse this with ONE MILLION YEARS B.C., a 1967 Hammer film with
Raquel Welch.)

Dramatic Presentation (Short):
- The Adventures of Superman: "The Baby from Krypton" (a radio show
     available at
- Looney Tunes: "You Ought to Be in Pictures" (available on YouTube
- Merrie Melodies: "A Wild Hare" (available on YouTube at
- PINOCCHIO (DVD, netflix)

(Some of the films available elsewhere are also on YouTube.  I
cannot speak to the copyright status of the films on YouTube.)



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

THIRD-CLASS TICKET by Heather Wood (ISBN 978-0-14-009527-6) is an
example of why online booksellers will never replace bookstores and
book sales.  I found this book in the Cranbury Bookworm, and
"found" is the right word.  I was not looking for it, did not in
fact even know of its existence, but there it was, sitting on the
"New Arrivals" shelf.  (This is my favorite place to look, because
it is such a grab-bag of topics.)  There is no equivalent
serendipity in shopping online.  Whatever browsing capabilities
Amazon and others have is incredibly primitive.  "You May Also Be
Interested In" suggestions often seem completely random.  Even if
they are not, you cannot sample the book the way you can in a
bookstore.  Oh, there may be a "Look Inside" on Amazon, but it
shows you the pages *it* wants to show you.  You cannot flip
through it, pick several pages at random to read, perhaps check the
index.  And buying used books online is a total crapshoot vis-a-vis
condition, because so many booksellers have no idea of what "Very
Good" or "Like New" means.  (Hint: An ex-library book with markings
and labels is not "Like New".)

So I continue to browse physical book sales, and find books like
this.  It is the true story of a village which in 1969 was given a
strange legacy by its wealthy landowner: a seven-month trip around
India to all the famous holy and scenic spots so they would know
more about their country.  The first group were forty-four village
elders, but there was to be a new group every year until everyone
in the village had made the trip (or as long as the money lasted).
This is the story of that first group.  (We really only get to know
about a dozen of them.)

The book is wonderful, but the major problem I have is that the
author "was fortunate enough to share part of their trip"
(according to the blurb).  But how did she manage to cover the
entire trip in such detail, down to conversations two people had at
night when everyone else was sleeping?  (And why does she herself
never appear, unless she is the foreign girl that the travelers
seem to keep meeting, as some readers suggest?)  The author's note
suggests that this was written in large part from accounts told her
by the villagers, and that in fact some details have been changed
to protect people's privacy.  Still, I often get the feeling I
would get when reading one of those biographies for children or
young adults which have all sorts of supposed verbatim conversation
between famous people of history ("Then Washington turned to Madison
and said, "I will do everything in my power to help this man.").
Quite often in these biographies the language is suspiciously
modern; at least in THIRD-CLASS TICKET I do not get that feeling.
But when we start getting the inner thoughts of one of the
characters who has begun to have mental problems and for whom there
is no opportunity to have related these thoughts to anyone else,
then I have to conclude that there is some embellishment going on.

(The fact that only fourteen of the villagers seem to have
"speaking parts" or be mentioned by name is another indication that
this is not a strict account.  Think of it more as a docu-drama.)

I recently watched the Kenneth Branagh version of TWELFTH NIGHT (as
shown on Thames Television), and it served to remind me of the
problems in this (and indeed in other plays of Shakespeare).

One problem is the romantic inconstancy of the hero.  At the
beginning, Orsino is madly in love with Olivia; at the end he
fairly quickly transfers his affections to Viola.  Olivia is madly
in love with Viola, but apparently cannot tell the difference
between her and Sebastian.  Even granting they look fairly similar,
they are two different people.  The whole thing reminds me of Lucy
Steele's transference of affections from Edward Ferrars to Edward's
brother Robert in Jane Austen's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, but in that
book Lucy is supposed to be a gold-digger and this change of heart
is an example of her low, scheming character.  Shakespeare
seemingly has Orsino retain his good character.  And Olivia seems
content to be married to Sebastian, even though she was completely
deceived as to who he was when she married him.  (At least Jacob
was upset when he discovered he had married Leah instead of
Rachel.)  For that matter, Romeo starts ROMEO AND JULIET madly in
love with Rosaline, but rapidly turns to Juliet (without ever
speaking to her!) and drops the first one.

And while we are talking about ROMEO AND JULIET, what is with the
friar?  Romeo, whom he knows was madly in love with Rosaline, now
swears he is in love with Juliet, whom he just met the previous
evening.  After a brief lecture about inconstancy, the friar agrees
to marry The two of them, in spite of 1) the briefness of their
courtship, 2) the fact that Juliet is only thirteen, and 3) the
fact that her father has not given his approval, indeed, has not
even been consulted, and would almost certainly disapprove.  And
why?  Because it might end the feud between the families.  And he
even says that he is performing the wedding only for this reason,
and (presumably) not because Romeo and Juliet are in love.

And then he comes up with this bizarre plan, involving a sleeping
potion that makes Juliet appear dead for forty-two hours.  Okay,
they did not embalm people (quickly or otherwise), but the friar is
definitely assuming that the family won't bury her or seal her in a
casket in that time.  Why doesn't he just sneak her out of Verona
to be with Romeo in Mantua?

This shows up in other plays as well, although often there is some
attempt at justification.  In A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, at least
there is a love potion one can blame for the characters' changes of
heart.  In HAMLET, Gertrude transfers her affections seemingly
quickly to Claudius, although there is some indication here that
this may have been part of the cause of Hamlet's father's death.
It has been commented that the most "constant" couple in
Shakespeare may be Lord and Lady Macbeth.

It is true that Shakespeare often has his characters talk about
constancy.  In TWELFTH NIGHT, Viola (as Cesario) berates Orsino for
claiming that men love more deeply and constantly than women
(although both he and Olivia are inconstant in this); Juliet tells
Romeo to "swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon," with the
implication that Romeo might conceivably be inconstant (which of
course he is).

Another problem is that with changing times, much of the difficulty
in the mistaken relationships is blunted.  When Olivia was taken
with Viola when Viola was dressed a man, audiences now may find
themselves thinking that while the fact that Viola does not love
Olivia is an obstacle, the fact that Viola is a woman does not seem
as much a problem as it was to Shakespeare's audience.  Similarly,
if Orsino loves Viola when he finds out she is a woman, today's
audiences may wonder why there was no indication of this before.

Of course, all this would make Olivia's transference of affection
less explicable/forgivable--in the play, she cannot marry Cesario
(Viola), so Sebastian is a "reasonable" second choice.  Today, her
reaction to Viola's revelation could as easily be the same as
Osgood Fielding III's to Jerry/Geraldine's in SOME LIKE IT HOT:
"Well, nobody's perfect."

The flip side of this is that the idea that a woman can
successfully disguise herself as a man, and vice versa, is perhaps
less problematic now than then.  Even without surgery or drugs, we
now accept that there are people with fairly androgynous features.
I would love to see a (film) version of TWELFTH NIGHT with someone
such as Eddie Redmayne in the roles of Viola and Sebastian.  (I
specify "film version," because clearly for the scenes where both
are on stage some special effects would be necessary, either
traditional split-screen or CGI manipulation.)

(I am reminded of someone's Usenet post about SOUTH PACIFIC.  When
she first saw it, she could not figure out what Nellie Forbush was
so upset about with Emil de Becque's children.  Eventually she
twigged to the fact that Nellie cared that the children were
"mixed-race" (which now is more likely to be expressed as "bi-
racial").  I won't say that this has entirely disappeared, but
these days it is much less an issue, and would have to be made more
explicit in a play for people to "get it.".  (In Puccini's MADAME
BUTTERFLY, the marriage between Pinkerton and Butterfly is
considered not quite a "real" marriage, but the idea that their son
would not be accepted by his fiancee does not seem to arise.)

I got TWELFTH NIGHT as part of a two-disc set, the other half being
cannot help but wonder if these two were paired because they are
the two plays most referenced in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, albeit
incredibly anachronistically.  ROMEO AND JULIET is usually dated to
1595, and TWELFTH NIGHT to 1601.  Yet at the end of ROMEO AND
JULIET the Queen asks for a play for Twelfth Night within the year,
and Wessex seems to have tobacco plantations in Virginia at least
ten years before Jamestown was even founded.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           Never drink water because of the disgusting things that
           fish do in it.
                                           --W. C. Fields