Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
08/26/16 -- Vol. 35, No. 9, Whole Number 1925

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Boris Karloff Day on TCM--TODAY!! (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        Is Nothing Sacred? (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films, 
                Lectures, etc. (NJ)
        My Picks for Turner Classic Movies for September (comments 
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        Hugo Award Winners
        1941 Retro Hugo Award Winners (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        Infinite Universes (comments by Gordon Diss)
        KILLER PARTY (formerly SHOWER) (film review 
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        BAD MOMS (film review by Art Stadlin)
        5x5 Part Deux: A Review of Five Jack Reacher Novels 
                by Lee Child (WITHOUT FAIL, PERSUADER, THE ENEMY, 
                ONE SHOT, THE HARD WAY) (book reviews by Dale L. Skran)
        Various Changes to Hugo Categories, Voting, Etc.
        Boris Karloff Day TCM Listings
        STAR TREK BEYOND (letter of comment by Kip Williams)
        The Joy of Self-Immolation (letter of comment by Jim Susky)
        This Week's Reading (TALES AND SKETCHES and THE BLACK LIZARD 
                BOOK OF LOCKED ROOM MYSTERIES) (book comments 
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Boris Karloff Day on TCM--TODAY!! (comments by Mark R. 

Turner Classic Movies is running a full day of Boris Karloff films 
on Friday, August 26.  (All times are Eastern Daylight Saving 
time.)  See the full list further down in this issue.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Is Nothing Sacred? (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

I just read this article in SCIENCE NEWS:

It seem that if you have two carbon nanotubes and in each you put 
an electron at each end of them.  What you get is each electrons 
repelling each other.  They act as a sort of a polarizer.  I don't 
quite follow how it is working, but you put the ends of each tube 
near each other, the electrons on the ends repel each other, but 
the other two electrons attract each other.  Electrons are supposed 
to repel each other but they can be forced to attract.  Really.  
Read the article.

I don't quite follow the article but I can get the important 
scuttlebutt out of it.  Electrons are supposed to repel each other.  
They attract protons.  Electron shall not be attracted to electron.  
That is Nature's way.   That is God's way.  And it has worked 
pretty good until now.  Now with their perverted science ways they 
are getting electrons to do things that are so perverted it makes 
me want to upchuck.  And not the least irony is that the guys who 
did this brazenly publish the unnatural results in "Nature".   And 
what was the result?  The whole Louisiana flood plane got flooded.  
Never saw the Hand of God so clearly in a piece of physics.  What's 
gonna come next?  Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... 
mass hysteria!  [-mrl]


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

September 8: THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962) & novel by Richard 
        Condon, Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
September 22: "In Hiding [Children of the Atom]" by Wilmar 
        H. Shiras and "The Big Front Yard" by Clifford D. Simak 
        (both in SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME 2B), Old Bridge (NJ) 
        Public Library, 7PM
        MOREAU by H.G. Wells, Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
October 27: CLOSE TO SHORE by Michael Capuzzo, Old Bridge (NJ) 
        Public Library, 7PM
November 17: "Rogue Moon" by Algis Budrys and "The Moon Moth" by 
        Jack Vance (both in SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME 2B), 
        Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
December 15: TBD, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM 
January 26: "The Spectre General" by Theodore R. Cogswell and "The 
        Witches of Karres" by James H. Schmitz (both in SCIENCE 
        FICTION HALL OF FAME 2B), Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 

Garden State Spec. Fiction Writers Lectures (subject to change):

September 10: Ellen Datlow, The State of Horror, Old Bridge (NJ) 
        Public Library, 12N
October 1: Ken Altabef, Adventures in Publishing, Old Bridge (NJ) 
        Public Library, 12N
November 5: David Sklar, Character Dreaming, Old Bridge (NJ) 
        Public Library, 12N

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:


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

This is a tough month to pick films to recommend.  I have three 
films below that are good choices.  The first two have a lot in 
common.  They are in their own ways each a political thriller about 
the capabilities of the (then) new electronic environment.  Two men 
use it in different ways.  I guess both films are on the peach-fuzz 
fringe of being science fiction.  But each shows us a world that is 
all too real.  THE 47 RONIN on the other hand is a very famous and 
traditional samurai story.

All time are listed in East Coast time.

THE CONVERSATION (1974), written, produced, and directed by Francis 
Ford Coppola, is a surprisingly timely film considering that it is 
42 years old.  The subject is electronic spying and the loss of 
personal privacy.  The film is a study of Harry Caul (played by 
Gene Hackman).  Caul is a walking legend in the industrial spy 
game.  His proudest achievement was that it was he who told 
Chrysler that Cadillac was getting rid of their fins.  Caul knows 
about all there is to know in the world of electronic gadgetry and 
inter-corporate spying.  But Caul has a secret terror.  He knows 
just a little too much about what is possible and is terrified that 
someone is watching him.  In the intervening 42 years we know that 
technology has made spying much easier.  We treat it like people of 
Caul's year treated the atomic bomb.  It worries us but we go on 
living.  If we knew what Harry knows, maybe we would be as 
frightened.  [Friday, September 9, 8:00 PM]

A FACE IN THE CROWD (1957) is good any old time, but I cannot help 
but think it is particularly appropriate this election year.  Andy 
Griffith plays a bum in jail for drunkenness who agrees to speak on 
a women's radio show in return for his freedom.  He has a nice 
down-homey voice that makes people trust him.  We see how he is 
able to get what he wants from people, as he becomes a sort of 
voice of the people who uses and abuses anyone that he pleases.  
Soon he is a nationally known figure with very strong political 
intentions.  He becomes a demagogue that has an unthinking public 
following him without recognizing just how vile and dangerous he 
is.  Andy Griffith plays Rhodes, but he is no Sheriff Andy.  
[Saturday, September 24, 4:00 PM]

THE 47 RONIN (1941) is the quintessential Japanese story of duty 
and loyalty. If you want to understand Japan's code of the samurai, 
one of the fundamental stories it derives from is that of the 47 
Ronin.  And a classic telling of the story is the 1941 film THE 47 
RONIN also known as GENROKU CHISHINGURA directed by Kenji 

SPOILER WARNING: What follows is a much-simplified plot of the 
film.  Don't read it if spoilers are unwelcome.  The 47 were 
samurai in service to their lord, Asano Naganori.  Asano was new at 
court and did not know about the strict code of etiquette.  Asano 
asked a court official named Kira Yoshinaka to train him on the 
etiquette of the court.  Kira did not want to see Asano succeed and 
in intentionally misled Asano.  This led Asano to make a fool of 
himself in court.  Asano realized that Kira had organized his 
downfall and in his anger the assaulted Kira.  This was an 
unforgiveable act and Asano was compelled to commit Seppuku (Hari-
kari)  Asano's suicide made his 47 samurai masterless.  They knew 
their master's death was a great injustice committed by Kira and 
they wanted to avenge the death.  But Kira was on his guard and 
they could not hope to succeed.  The 47 were now Ronin (masterless 
samurai).  They scattered and built new lives.  And they waited.  A 
year later seemed to be about the right time so the 47 re-gathered 
and appeared in the snow outside Kira's castle.  The leader broke 
down the door of Kira's with a huge mallet.  (The Ronin at the gate 
with a huge mallet is a popular art motif in Japan.)  Kira met his 
more than timely death just minutes later.  Their mission of 
avenging their master accomplished the remaining Ronin committed 
suicide.  It is no coincidence that Mizoguchi told this story in 
1941 with the Pacific war in its early stages.  The message was 
that Japanese soldiers must be loyal to their country and their 

Much as the 47 Ronin had to have patience, so does the viewer of 
this film.  It was split into two films and is a minute over four 
hours long.  But it is a classic in Japan showing the nobility of 
loyalty to ones duty.  [Monday, September 19, 2:15 AM]

What is the best film of the month?  I would pick THE CONVERSATION.  


TOPIC: Hugo Award Winners

BEST NOVELLA: "Binti" by Nnedi Okorafor (
BEST NOVELETTE: "Folding Beijing" by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu
        (Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015)
BEST SHORT STORY: "Cat Pictures Please" by Naomi Kritzer 
        (Clarkesworld, January 2015)
BEST GRAPHIC STORY: The Sandman: Overture written by Neil Gaiman, 
        art by J.H. Williams III (Vertigo)
BEST EDITOR (LONG FORM): Sheila E. Gilbert


TOPIC: 1941 Retro Hugo Award Winners (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

BEST NOVEL: Slan by A.E. Van Vogt (Astounding Science-Fiction, 
     Dec 1940)
BEST NOVELLA: "If This Goes On..." by Robert A. Heinlein 
     (Astounding Science-Fiction, Feb 1940)
BEST NOVELETTE: "The Roads Must Roll" by Robert A. Heinlein 
     (Astounding Science-Fiction, June 1940)
BEST SHORT STORY: "Robbie" by Isaac Asimov (Super Science Stories, 
     Sept 1940)
BEST GRAPHIC STORY: Batman #1 (Detective Comics, Spring 1940)
BEST FANZINE: Futuria Fantasia by Ray Bradbury

I had a clean sweep: in the categories I ranked, nothing I voted 
first actually won, and several of my last-place choices won 
instead.  I will say that Virgil Finlay was an excellent choice, 

It took almost a week after the ceremony for the nomination and 
voting statistics to be available.  Apparently the Retro Hugos 
are the poor step-children; the statistics for the current were 
available minutes after the ceremony for those was over.

In the Novel category, GRAY LENSMAN was a close second to SLAN.  
KALLOCAIN came in last--I don't know if voters had access to it in 
the packet, but I suspect many did not bother to read it in any 

In Novella, Heinlein had the hat trick, with the three top slots, 
with "Magic, Inc." second, and "Coventry" third.

In Novelette, he took the top two with "Blowups Happen" coming in 
second, and Van Vogt's "It!" coming in third.  

In Short Story, though, Asimov's "Robbie" edged out Heinlein's 
"Requiem", which placed second.  So it wasn't quite a clean sweep 
for Heinlein.  My favorite in this category, Borges's "Tlon, Uqbar, 
Orbis Tertius", placed fifth.

FANTASIA won on the first pass, with THE THIEF OF BAGDAD coming in 
second.  PINOCCHIO had a longer battle, eventually edging out 
"Merrie Melodies".

No surprise, John W. Campbell won for Editor in a landslide (437 
first place votes on the 679 ballots).  Frederik Pohl was second.  
Hannes Bok came in second for Artist.

In Dramatic Presentation, Long Form, PINOCCHIO (88m) got enough 
nominations to make the ballot (79), but was deemed too short.  
However, it got enough in the Short Form category (32) to qualify 
there on the basis of those alone.  THE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS (81m) 
missed the cut-off in Long Form, but made it in Short Form.  
DR. CYCLOPS (75m) got enough nominations in Long Form and the 
administrators relocated it there because 75% of its nominations 
were there and only 25% in Short Form.  ONE MILLION B.C. (80m) also 
made the cut-off in Long Form and the administrators relocated it 
there because it did not make the cut-off in Short Form.

Individually, all these decisions made sense. However, as I noted, 
the result was that the two longest Short Form were longer than the 
two shortest Long Form. (I am reminded of Old Nehamkin and Young 
Nehamkin in Woody Allen's LOVE AND DEATH.) I am not convinced that 
swapping those four (which I believe would all have been legal) 
wouldn't have resulted in a better split. 
However, the top ten nominees ended up on the ballot, which is a 
good thing.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Infinite Universes (comments by Gordon Diss)

I've been reading an article in National Geographic ("Special: Are
We Alone?").  The author claims that if there are an infinite 
number of universes, then there are an infinite number of earths 
and an infinite number of Mark Leepers!  From a logical statement, 
I don't think it follows that if there are an infinite number of 
universes then their are an infinite number of earths.  Why 
couldn't it be unique?  Have you heard this claim?  Would 
appreciate your thoughts.  [-gd]

Mark responds:

There are a number of different theories of what is the real 
structure of the multi-verse (that is the term that is used).  If 
they were all created at once and each universe takes its own path, 
there might well be only one Earth, given that we know there is at 
least one.  The fact that there are an infinite set of universes 
does not mean there has to be one with another Earth out there 
someplace.  (It is a little like you can have uncountably many sets 
of real numbers without 7 showing up in any of them.)

But I think what they are talking about is the idea that every 
instant of time is a branch point depending on how things come out.  
In one universe Napoleon loses at Waterloo and in another Napoleon 
wins.  These two universes start out very much alike in time and in 
time they drift apart.  If universes split like amoebas then they 
would start out very similar and there would be many, many with 
Earths.  They would not be totally independent.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: KILLER PARTY (formerly SHOWER) (film review by Mark 
R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: A group of Los Angeles young professionals is having a 
baby shower for one of their number.  And wouldn't you know it, 
just when the party is getting going a zombie outbreak spreads to 
the party neighborhood and nobody knows who will be the next to 
zombify and turn on the others.  Freshman writer and director Alex 
Drummond manages some unusual touches, but overall the film does 
not have enough fresh ideas to justify itself.  Rating: low +1 
(-4 to +4) or 5/10

Comedy usually does not mix well with horror.  Almost always one 
detracts from the other.  Usually it is both.  Some of the very 
earliest horror films used comedy to be sure nobody in the audience 
could take the horror elements in the film too seriously.  
(Credited as the first horror film is Georges Melies's LE MANOIR DU 
DIABLE, which was full of humorous editing effects.)  Comedies such 
as WORLD'S END start humorous and end going grim.  The filmmakers 
overcome the pleasant feeling the audience had from the jokes.  And 
zombie horror is an inexpensive addition to a film.  The expense of 
putting zombies in a film need not be very much.  Put a prospective 
actor in old clothes and have him/her limp a little and you can 
probably get it right on the first take.  So it is not surprising 
that there are a lot of films around that are not much different 
from KILLER PARTY.  Where DAWN OF THE DEAD satirized commercialism 
before slipping into horror mode, KILLER PARTY pokes fun of the 
young professionals living in Los Angeles under the shadow of the 
"Hollywood" sign.

We are at a party for young professionals or people who want to be.  
About everyone we meet is connected to the entertainment industry 
in one capacity or another.  Most characters are introduced with 
wording on the screen to tell what they are professionally.  The 
names come thick and fast.  But not to worry as here is no quiz 
later and you get to know who is who by their looks.  This group of 
under-30s are getting together for a baby shower for one of their 
numbers.  In fact, until just recently the film was titled SHOWER.  
KILLER PARTY is not a very unique title--in fact it was used by at 
least two other films--but it has more marquee interest value than 
does the title "SHOWER."  The party is fairly fancy and even has a 
clown for the children of the attendees.  And the conversation is 
not amazing, but it is reasonably whimsical and shares some of the 
unpleasant aspects of being in the entertainment business.

Then reports of mayhem come in from all parts of the city and we 
start seeing people drenched in blood.  Is there a lot of blood in 
the film?  Yes, there certainly is.  Is there violence in the film?  
Well, yes, quite a bit.  But the blood and the violence seem to 
never be shown in the same scene.  That makes it a good deal less 

The one image that will probably stick with you is the hired clown 
as one of the first victims of the zombies.  A lot of children and 
perhaps a few adults in the real world find clowns a little scary 
for some reason.  The image of a zombie clown plays off of that 
fear.  The clown sort of reminded me of Heath Ledger's Joker from 
THE DARK KNIGHT (2008).  If you want an effectively scary clown see 
Alex de la Iglesia's small masterpiece THE LAST CIRCUS (2010).

We have repeated images of zombies coming to the yard where the 
party was taking place.  They just stand there with their backs to 
the house.  It never was explained what that was all about.  I 
suppose leaving some mystery unexplained is a good touch.  Drummond 
does not give a good idea of how much time is passing.  It seems 
like it is all taking place in an afternoon--there are no night 
shots--but before long the people in the house are running out of 
food and water.  The premise of the baby shower gives a reason for 
all the people to be present and for the presence of the clown, but 
is never used beyond that.

In spite of a few humorous moments, this film does not really stand 
out in any way, watching it is an amiable pastime.  IMDB lists 
three films called KILLER PARTY.  There is no strong reason to 
search for this one.  I rate it a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 
5/10.  Killer Party was released August 16.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: BAD MOMS (film review by Art Stadlin)

This was not on my must-see list but I did not want to disappoint 
my wife, so I went with low expectations.  BAD MOMS is actually not 
bad.  In just a few words:  HANGOVER meets MR. MOM.  Like MR. MOM, 
we delve into the intricacies of the busy life of parenting.  Like 
HANGOVER, there is a lot of drinking going on.

The story line is simple:  The busy soccer moms in a middle/upper 
class suburb have fallen into a pattern of competing, with each 
striving to be more perfect than the next.  Being the perfect mom 
is not so easy when there's a divorce-in-progress and a job with a 
nutcase for a boss.  So our lead mom, Amy (Mila Kunis) finally 
snaps.  She heads to a bar to drown in self-pity, only to meet 
another imperfect mom.  Quickly a third confused mom joins in and 
now they have a movement!  Bad moms rule!

Before bad moms can take control there is the seemingly ultra-
perfectionist president of the PTA to deal with (Christina 
Applegate).  Let the dirty tricks begin!  And it's time for the PTA 
elections!  And all the moms in suburbia love cheap wine!

I won't spoil the ending but you will probably guess it fairly 
early in the movie.  You won't be disappointed with any surprise 
twist endings.  Actually they did a great job, I thought, in tying 
up all the loose ends in the last ten minutes or so.  You will 
leave the theater with a smile on your face, for two reasons:  the 
feel good ending and also some of the slap-stick comedy was, 
indeed, funny.

A couple of footnotes:  There are references in the movie to 
current events and characters that millennials will connect with.  
For example, my wife said one of the references was to a character 
in the HBO series GAME OF THRONES.  Since I've never seen it, I 
felt like the only one not laughing.  Another note is that *after* 
the ending credits there are several minutes of candid footage of 
the movie moms with their real-life moms, reflecting on their own 
imperfections as moms.  [-as]


TOPIC: 5x5 Part Deux: A Review of Five Jack Reacher Novels by Lee 
Child (book reviews by Dale L. Skran)

THE ENEMY (2004)
ONE SHOT (2005)


I'm continuing my review of all the Jack Reacher novels with a 
second set--"Part Deux."  As before, I don't plan on recapitulating 
the plots, but instead will focus on general observations and 
themes.  Also, I'm assuming you've read the previous review, so I 
don't need to go through the basics on "Who is this guy Jack 
Reacher anyway?"  WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.

In WITHOUT FAIL a new female head of the Vice President's 
protective detail reaches out to Jack to act as a "red team" and 
find ways to penetrate the Secret Service barriers. You know she is 
good at what she does, since the first task she accomplishes is to 
find Jack Reacher, and Jack is hard to find.  It turns out that she 
heard about Jack from her ex-boy friend, Joe Reacher. She enrolls 
Jack in the project, and Jack brings in his old Master Sergeant 
from the 110th MP Special Unit, Frances Neagley, now working as a 
private investigator in Chicago.  In short order, they demonstrate 
that it would not be that difficult for pros to do in the VP.  This 
may be the first, but is not the last, book in which Neagley 
appears.  Then, as usual, things start to get interesting, and 
Jack/Frances embark on a kill or be killed mission to bring down 
the would-be assassins before they get to the VP.  As it turns out, 
you can't stop skilled professionals from trying to kill the VP.  
However, stopping Jack Reacher from killing the professionals is 
even harder. As is Child's style, WITHOUT FAIL runs the reader 
across the American landscape, and ends with a complex battle 
between Reacher/Neagley and the would-be assassins in the 
countryside of Wyoming.  WITHOUT FAIL is different in tone in that 
Reacher often is wearing his brother's suits to fit in with the 
Secret Service, and Jack is operating as part of a large, well-
funded government operation.

PERSUADER is similar to WITHOUT FAIL in that a female agent enlists 
Reacher in a mission.  DEA agent Susan Duffy figures out that 
Reacher may be looking for someone who is part of a drug ring that 
she has inserted an agent into as part of a rogue operation.  
Hence, she needs a rogue operator to figure out what has happened.  
She uses her team to set Reacher up as having killed a policeman 
and needing refuge with the drug runners. Thus, Jack enters into a 
dangerous deep cover operation as he attempts to penetrate a 
complex criminal organization while looking for someone who may be 
his oldest and worst enemy, a loose end from a bad day back in the 
Army.  PERSUADER takes place mainly in New York and New Jersey, and 
the surrounding area.  The body count is high and the twists are 
many as Jack remorselessly pursues someone who may be his most vile 
and dangerous foe.

Lee Child strikes out in a new direction with THE ENEMY, taking 
Jack back to 1990 when he was just an MP, not a Major heading the 
110th Special Unit.  Reacher is transferred to a new assignment, 
and bodies start dropping like flies.  Fairly soon it becomes clear 
that Jack has been set up as the patsy for the murders.  This 
proves to be a mistake as Jack does not respond well to personal 
attacks.  THE ENEMY is the case that puts Jack on a course to 
becoming a lone vigilante.  He discovers a terrifying conspiracy in 
which one branch of the Army is targeting the leaders of another 

branch for assassination in order to win the budget wars in the 
aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  The leaders of this 
conspiracy are so high up that even Reacher can't touch them, and 
he is limited to sending them a message by killing one of their key 
minions.  The book ends with a tense fight between Jack and a 
soldier from an Armored Division who is attempting suicide by 
calling in an artillery attack on his (and Jack's) position.

THE ENEMY gives Child an opportunity to flesh out Jack's 
background.  He visits his dying mother in Paris, and we learn 
quite a bit about her past.  Joe Reacher appears often, allowing 
the relationship between Jack and Joe to be developed.  If you 
thought Reacher was dangerous, you might want to avoid his mother, 
a French Resistance courier who strangled a traitor with a cheese 
cutter wire at the age of 13.

At this point, ONE SHOT may be the best-known Reacher novel, since 
it has been made into a major motion picture starring Tom Cruise.  
I'm just going to focus on how the movie is different from the 
book.  The general plot and setup are essentially the same in all 
their major elements.  The significant differences are:

1. Tom Cruise is much shorter and smaller than Jack Reacher in the 
books, who is described as being 6' 5" and weighing 250 lbs, most 
of it solid muscle.  Reach's size lends an air of realism to the 
fights in the books, since a trained fighter of this size and 
strength can drop most opponents with a single blow.

2. There is a scene in the movie in which Reacher goes to 
investigate a house "guarded" by a drugged out old woman.  In the 
movie this leads to a comedic fight as two thugs fall all over 
themselves hitting each other with clubs after first knocking 
Reacher down so that he falls into a bathtub.  This is a terrible 
scene that is totally at odds with the tone of the Child books, 
which always treat the fights very seriously.  Also, if Reacher 
allowed people to sneak up and hit him in the head with a baseball 
bat, as happens in the movie, he would not have made it out of the 
first book alive.

3. The movie adds an extended car chase that is not in the book.  
This is very much at odds with Jack Reacher in the books, who can 
and does drive long distances, but is described as not being a 
skilled driver.

4. Several female characters in the book are merged into a single 
female character in the movie. This may be necessary to condense 
the book, but it does mean that a lot of plot is left out of the 

5. The concluding battle in the movie is very different than in the 
book. The fight in the book is more realistic, although much more 
graphic as Reacher slips silently room by room through a house, 
killing his opponents with a knife.

6. There is a scene in the movie that is part of the final battle 
where Reacher puts down a gun to fight hand to hand with his most 
skilled opponent. This is pure Hollywood nonsense.  Reacher is a 
very practical fighter in the books, and he never gives up any 
advantage.  He would simply have shot the person in the head and 
moved on.

I've reviewed THE HARD WAY separately in the MT VOID, and so will 
not discuss it again here, except to mention that much of it takes 
place in England, and Child is from England.

Reacher is portrayed by Child has having two unusual abilities.  
Firstly, he always knows what time it is without a watch, and can 
accurately keep track of elapsed time, which is often critical in 
the plots.  This ability matters little in the first few books, but 
the time we get to THE HARD WAY, it is critical to the plot.  
Secondly, Reacher has a flair for number theory, which as we learn 
much later in NEVER GO BACK started when as a child he read a large 
Jack's abilities in this regard are not those of a Von Neumann, but 
probably exceed the ability of many professional mathematicians.  
Sometimes this ability figures in the plot as Jack deciphers 
cryptic messages or numbers.  In particular, in BAD LUCK AND 
TROUBLE the plot revolves around understanding what a series of 
numbers might mean.  Jack is portrayed as doing mathematics in his 
head to pass the time as he waits for events to occur, something 
that has no doubt honed his computational abilities to a high 
degree as he spends a lot of time waiting for the bad guys to show 

A running theme in the Jack Reacher novels is fights between 
Reacher and challenging opponents.  A similar trope appears in the 
MODESTY BLAISE novels.  In WITHOUT FAIL, the villains are two well-
trained and well-armed rogue cops. PERSUADER pits Reacher against 
"Pauli," a heavy steroid user with virtually super-human strength 
and endurance to pain in what may be the closest contest in the 
entire series.  ONE SHOT features an expert sniper drawing down on 
Reacher and the elderly but deadly "Zek."  THE ENEMY lacks 
physically impressive bad guys, but THE HARD WAY showcases one of 
the most bizarre, a giant who lives in a special house built so 
that its proportions fit the giant, and not normal folks, and whose 
hands are so big he can't pull the trigger on a gun.

In many ways the Jack Reacher series is a love poem to the American 
landscape.  Rather like Sam and Dean in SUPERNATUARAL, Jack roams 
the byways and highways of rural America, working odd jobs and 
living in seedy motels.  The Army, the FBI, and the local police 
may all be corrupt in the best noir tradition, but the average 
working stiff comes out pretty well. In any case, Child's ability 
to bring to life new locations and develop plots that are 
fundamentally different from each other is remarkable.  [-dls]


TOPIC: Various Changes to Hugo Categories, Voting, Etc.

The following were ratified by the Business Meeting and take effect 
at the close of MidAmericon II:

Best Fancast: Needed to avoid invoking sunset clause on this 

The 5% Solution: Works no longer need to appear on at least 5% of 
the ballots to make the final ballot

Multiple Nominations: No work can appear in more than one Hugo 

Electronic Signatures: If all bids agree, Site Selection may accept 
electronic votes.

The following received first passage and will be voted on at 
Worldcon 75 in Finland next year.  If they pass there, they will 
take effect at the close of Worldcon 75:

Best Series: Add this category.

December Is Good Enough: Restrict nominating to members as of 
December 31 (rather than January 31).

Defining North America: The definition is needed for the NASFIC, 
but "fell out" of the WSFS Constitution when site rotation by zones 
went away.

Two years Are Good Enough: Only members of the current and the 
previous Worldcon can nominate.  (Drops members of the subsequent 
Worldcon, unless of course they are members of the current or 

Young Adult Award: Would add a non-Hugo ("Campbell-like") award.

Retrospective Improvements: TBD

Universal Suffrage: Prohibits Worldcons from selling full 
attendance memberships without voting rights.

EPH: Too complicated to explain here.

EPH+: If you thought EPH was complicated, ...

5 and 6: Nominators can nominate 5 works in each category; the 
final ballot will contain the top 6 (or more, in case of ties).

3SV: Three-stage voting.  There is an additional vote where a list 

of 15 finalists in each category is sent to voters, and they can 
vote accept/reject/abstain for each, with 60% or more "rejections" 
in the combined accept/reject total, or 20% or more of the eligible 
voters, removing that item.  The top five remaining items are the 
final ballot.



TOPIC: Boris Karloff Day TCM Listings (08/26/16)

6:00 AM: LURED (1947)
A woman helps the police catch the serial killer who murdered her 
best friend.  Dir: Douglas Sirk  Cast: George Sanders, Lucille 
Ball, Charles Coburn.  BW-103 mins

7:45 AM: LOST PATROL, THE (1934)
A British army troop fights off Arab snipers while holed up in an 
oasis.  Dir: John Ford  Cast: Victor McLaglen, Boris Karloff, 
Wallace Ford.  BW-72 mins, CC

Dick Tracy tracks down a bank robber using nerve gas.  Dir: John 
Rawlins  Cast: Boris Karloff, Ralph Byrd, Anne Gwynne.  BW-65 mins

10:15 AM: MASK OF FU MANCHU, THE (1932)
A Chinese warlord threatens explorers in search of the key to 
global power.  Dir: Charles Brabin  Cast: Boris Karloff, Lewis 
Stone, Karen Morley.  BW-68 mins, CC

11:45 AM: FATAL HOUR, THE (1940)
Asian sleuth Mr. Wong gets caught up in the mystery surrounding a 
policeman's death.  Dir: William Nigh  Cast: Boris Karloff, 
Marjorie Reynolds, Grant Withers.  BW-66 mins

A lady spy uses a British nobleman's home in her undercover work 
for the Germans.  Dir: Terry Morse  Cast: Boris Karloff, Margaret 
Lindsay, Bruce Lester.  BW-61 mins, CC

2:15 PM: WALKING DEAD, THE (1936)
A framed man comes back from the dead to seek revenge.  Dir: 
Michael Curtiz  Cast: Boris Karloff, Ricardo Cortez, Edmund Gwenn.  
BW-65 mins, CC

A mad scientist uses an artificial heart pump he invented to seek 
revenge after he is executed.  Dir: Nick Grinde  Cast: Boris 
Karloff, Lorna Gray, Robert Wilcox.  BW-64 mins, CC

4:45 PM: TERROR, THE (1963)
A lost soldier discovers a mysterious beauty haunting a half-
deserted castle.  Dir: Roger Corman  Cast: Boris Karloff, Jack 
Nicholson, Sandra Knight.  C-79 mins, CC

6:15 PM: BLACK SABBATH (1964)
A trio of atmospheric horror tales presented by Boris Karloff.  
Dir: Mario Bava  Cast: Jacqueline Pierreux, Milly Monti, Michele 
Mercier.  C-96 mins, CC, Letterbox Format

8:00 PM: FRANKENSTEIN (1931)
A crazed scientist creates a living being from body parts, not 
realizing it has a madman's brain.  Dir: James Whale  Cast: Colin 
Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles.  BW-70 mins, CC

To save his wife, Baron Frankenstein must build a mate for his 
monster.  Dir: James Whale  Cast: Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie 
Hobson.  BW-75 mins, CC

11:00 PM: MUMMY, THE (1932)
An Egyptian mummy returns to life to stalk the reincarnation of his 
lost love.  Dir: Karl Freund  Cast: Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, 
David Manners.  BW-73 mins, CC

12:30 AM: BLACK CAT, THE (1934)
A Satanist faces off with the vengeful man whose wife and daughter 
he has stolen.  Dir: Edgar G. Ulmer  Cast: Karloff, Bela Lugosi, 
David Manners.  BW-65 mins, CC

1:45 AM: BODY SNATCHER, THE (1945)
To continue his medical experiments, a doctor must buy corpses from 
a grave robber.  Dir: Robert Wise  Cast: Boris Karloff, Bela 
Lugosi, Henry Daniell.  BW-78 mins, CC

3:15 AM: ISLE OF THE DEAD (1945)
The inhabitants of a Balkans island under quarantine fear that one 
of their number is a vampire.  Dir: Mark Robson  Cast: Boris 
Karloff, Ellen Drew, Marc Cramer.  BW-72 mins, CC

4:30 AM: BEDLAM (1946)
When an actress tries to reform an asylum, its corrupt keeper has 
her committed.  Dir: Mark Robson  Cast: Boris Karloff, Anna Lee, 
Billy House.  BW-79 mins, CC


TOPIC: STAR TREK BEYOND (letter of comment by Kip Williams)

In response to Mark's comments on STAR TREK BEYOND in the 08/19/16 
issue of the MT VOID, Kip Williams writes:

Two things about the Trek movie: When I saw the bit with the flux 
lines streaming around the ship, my first thought was that I was 
seeing something akin to a wind-tunnel simulation, where they were 
making sure that all the lumpy bits were just so for cutting 
through the aetherial phlogiston.  But nothing confirmed that or 
denied it.  The other thing is that there were bugs on the planet 
they went to, and they weren't Earth bugs.  I rather liked that.  

Mark replies:

Wind tunnel simulation: At one stage of writing my article I was 
going to say the Enterprise lines looked like something from a 
wind-tunnel test.  I cut that down, probably for brevity.

Bugs: I noticed the presence bugs was unusual.  You have better 
eyes than I do if you noticed they were not Earth bugs.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: The Joy of Self-Immolation (letter of comment by Jim Susky)

In response to Mark's comments on hot sauces in the 07/06/07 and 
07/13/07 (!) issues of the MT VOID, Jim Susky writes:

I am cheered by the notion that there are decades of MT VOID back 

At lunch today I stumbled upon your 2-part "Joy of Self-
Immolation", which contains for me various inspirations:

1) get some malt vinegar to try on deep-fried halibut.

2) get some Habanero peppers as a post-lunch coffee substitute 
(since I am no longer young but vestiges of stupidity remain)

(and why is that stupid for a man for whose drug of choice is 

3) be sure to replenish the kitchen with sriracha.

I have a pet theory about Tabasco sauce.  At one time it seemed to 
have the hot sauce world in thrall without much competition  (at 

least up here in Alaska).  Thank to various acquaintances fro the 
South, I have discovered that a close, but much tastier rival is 
Franks.  But still, in 2016 Tabasco seems to ubiquitous in American 
Restaurants--despite that it has many better rivals.  Why is that?

My conjecture is that McInhenny almost gives the stuff away to 
restaurants in nice, small, prominent bottles. I'll bet that they 
sell the stuff at a loss--the notion being that that is the most 
effective advertising they could undertake.

And now back to work.  [-js]

Mark responds:

I cannot tell you how many decades of the MT VOID are on line, but 
we founded the publication something like 1979.

Frankly I do not remember this particular column, but there are a 
lot to remember.

To appreciate malt vinegar on deep-fried halibut it is really best 
at an English chip shop.

I think McIlhenny Tabasco goes back the longest of any hot sauce.  
It was founded in 1868 and at one time it was the only game in 
town.  These days I do see a lot of Frank's in restaurants.

I think it likely that restaurants get a special deal for large 
purposes of Tabasco.  It happens in restaurants, but it is much 
more common in medical businesses.  Doctors get free drugs that 
would cost the customer a lot.  Once the doctors have found that an 
expensive drug works, that is what the patient gets paying the 
high-price.  I try to tell my doctor/dentist/whatever that I want 
to try generic drugs FIRST to find how well they work.

Evelyn adds:

The back issues on our web site ( go back to 1984; we 
have paper copies for earlier than that but are unlikely to spend 
the time to scan them in.  The fannish archive site (in 
particular, has 
issues going back to 1997.

The index for all the back issues, including those not on-line) is 
at  [-ecl]


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

I've been reading the "Library of America" volume of TALES AND 
SKETCHES by Nathaniel Hawthorne, containing TWICE-TOLD TALES, 
WONDER BOOK (ISBN 978-0-9404-5003-5).  It is 1500 pages long and 
has well over a hundred tales, so you will be pleased to hear I am 
not commenting on each one.

Hawthorne's writing has been called "New England Gothic" and "Alice 
Doane's Appeal" is a good example why--think Tennessee Williams in 
Puritan Massachusetts.

"The Canal Boat" (in "Sketches from Memory") proves Ecclesiastes 
1:9: "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that 
which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new 
thing under the sun."  "Anon, a Virginia schoolmaster, too intent 
on a pocket Virgil to heed the helmsman's warning--'Bridge! 
bridge!'--was saluted by said bridge on his knowledge-box.  I had 
prostrated myself like a pagan before his idol, but heard the dull 
leaden sound of the contact, and fully expected to see the 
treasures of the poor man's cranium scattered about the deck.  
However, as there was no harm done, except a large bump on the 
head, and probably a corresponding dent in the bridge, the rest of 
us exchanged glances and laughed quietly.  Oh, how pitiless are 
idle people."

[A recent news report says, "Navigating the sidewalks of modern 
cities can be very challenging and hazardous dodging all the 
unguided missiles of people texting while walking.  These people 
are a danger to themselves, and to anyone in their path.  ...  This 
hazard has forced many municipal authorities to consider installing 
protective soft bumpers on lamp posts because people kept running 
into them and getting injured."]

"Monsieur le Miroir" (1937) has definite Borgesian overtones, as 
the narrator describes the title character: his own reflection in 
the mirror, though that is never stated explicitly and indeed, one 
is given the impression the narrator does not realize that.  There 
are similarities to Edgar Allan Poe's "William Wilson" (1839) and 
Alfred de Musset's "The December Night" (1937), and later to the 
1913 and 1926 films "The Student of Prague", which are based on 

"Old News" is a recounting of the contents of newspapers from three 
times in the past: first, around 1740, then 1760 (during "The Old 
French War" (the 1755-1760 period of the "French and Indian War", 
which in turn was the North American theater of the "Seven Years' 
War")), and finally 1780 (during the American Revolution).  Each is 
a snapshot of the times, of the people who lived through them, and 
of what the newspapers reported and how they reported it.

"Mrs. Bullfrog" is a humorous story of the sort that Mark Twain 
would write towards the end of the nineteenth century.  The 
narrator and his new bride get in a coach after the wedding to 
travel to their new home.  The narrator goes on at length about the 
perfection of his bride.  He starts to play with her hair and she 
pushes him away, gently at first, saying he would disarrange her 
curls, then more insistently.  Other seemingly minor events occur, 
until the coach hits a pile of gravel and overturns, and things 
suddenly go very strange indeed.

Penzler (ISBN 978-0-307-74396-1) does not have quite as many pages 
as the Hawthorne, but they are bigger pages.  In any case, this is 
one of the new breed of anthologies, which aims to rival in size 
the fantasy trilogy that has come to be so prevalent.  
(Interestingly, at the other end of the scale, the novella, and 
particularly the stand-alone novella, seems to be on the rise.  
"Stand-alone" in this context does not mean "not part of a series" 
but rather "published on its own rather than in a magazine or an 
anthology with other works.")

At any rate, this volume has 68 stories, divided into specialized 
categories ("Footprints in the Sands of Time", "Shoot If You Must", 
etc.).  This makes it even more important to read this a bit at a 
time, and possibly to read the stories out of order to give one a 
better variety.  But it is recommended for mystery fans.  [-ecl]


                                          Mark Leeper

          I never read the life of any important person without 
          discovering that he knew more and could do more than 
          I could ever hope to know or to do in half a dozen 
                                          --J. B. Priestley