Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
09/16/16 -- Vol. 35, No. 12, Whole Number 1928

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Early Flying Saucer/UFO Book Covers
        JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (1959) (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        Ellen Datlow (summary of presentation by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        QUANTUM NIGHT by Robert J. Sawyer (book review
                by Joe Karpierz)
        SULLY (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        THE PEOPLE GARDEN (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        Prius (letters of comment by John Jezl and
                Charles S. Harris)
        This Week's Reading (THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Early Flying Saucer/UFO Book Covers

The "Paris Review" has an article (with illustrations) of early
book covers for flying saucer and UFO books:


R. Leeper)

Prior to 1950, science fiction was a rarity in film.  There was
pulpish science fiction such as in the serials and DR. CYCLOPS.
And there was THINGS TO COME (1936), which in spite of some very
imaginative visuals was a little talky and didactic.  Then in the
ten years from 1950 to 1959 science fiction had a modest
blossoming.  Once the silver screen discovered there could be fun
science fiction the film genre went in several different
directions.  The decade was capped with 20th Century Fox's JOURNEY
TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH.  In some ways this was an answer to
Walt Disney's 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954).  Both films were
based on novels by Jules Verne and both starred James Mason.  The
earlier film had Mason be a rather insular and brooding character
without a whole lot of personal appeal.  In the later film Mason
would not be somber and brooding but cantankerous and vocal.  His
Lindenbrook is irascible and outspoken.  And in spite of his
childish ways, he holds viewer interest more by his actions rather
than his mystery as Mason's Nemo did. 20,000 LEAGUES was
claustrophobic while JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH tells its
story on a much wider backdrop.

It is 1880 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the local university's
geology professor, Oliver Lindenbrook (played by James Mason), has
just been knighted.  Part of his class's congratulatory prize is a
piece of volcanic rock, purchased by Alec McKuen (Pat Boone).
Lindenbrook finds the rock mysteriously heavy for what should be a
light piece of lava.  Lindenbrook guesses that there is actually
inside the rock something much heavier than what the outside shell
is made of.  He determines to slowly melt off the surrounding lava
but a furnace explosion saves him the time and effort.  Inside he
finds a plum bob with a message on it.  The message was written by
geologist Arne Saknussemm and tells how to reach the center of the
Earth.  And thus the adventure begins.

The screenplay by Walther Reisch and Charles Bracket and directed
by Henry Levin is never less than entertaining.  Though certain
changes were made from the story, but then there are precedents in
editions of the book.  Verne's characters' names vary greatly from
one edition and translation to another.  The professor was called
Lidenbrock or Hardwigg in different editions.  In this film he is
Lindenbrook.  The nephew (in the book the young character is the
professor's nephew) was called Alec for the film (in the book he is
Harry, Henry, or Axel).  For some love interest the film introduced
two female characters.  Carla Goetabaug is played by Arlene Dahl
and goes on the expedition, much to Oliver Lindenbrook's annoyance.
Also, Jenny, Lindenbrook's niece, loves Alec and stays topide and
worries.  She seems almost extraneous to the plot but is played by
Diane Baker at the height of Baker's attractiveness.

The production values are top-notch here, making this a beautiful
film to watch.  This was, I believe, the last feature film actually
filmed in Carlsbad Caverns.  That is not entirely coincidence.  The
film crew apparently did some damage shooting there and the people
who maintain the caverns have never again given permission to film
there.  The only actively bad visual effect is the obvious model
work of the sacrificial dish rising in the volcanic chimney.  Leo
Tover filmed the movie spectacularly, considering some of the tight
spaces he had to film in.  Most of the special effects were quite
nicely composed.  For the dimetrodons, live lizards were used with
fins glued on.  That is a cruel technique that is now outlawed.
But it was never used so effectively as it was in JOURNEY TO THE
CENTER OF THE EARTH.  One clever shot is a point of view shot from
inside a lizard's mouth.

The score written for the film is one of Bernard Herrmann's finest.
Pat Boone was a popular singer and four songs were written for him,
though luckily the producers thought better of the idea and Boone
was limited to two songs--the two based on poems by Robert Burns so
they had some claim to authenticity.  Two songs ended on the
cutting room floor though confusingly they do show up in the
credits.  The songs "The Faithful Heart" and "Twice as Tall" were
written by popular lyricist Sammy Cahn, known for "Three Coins in
the Fountain" and "Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow."  Until
relatively recently Pat Boone's two missing songs were not
available to the public (as far as I am aware).  But the CD of the
soundtrack includes them.  Bits of their melodies show up in
Herrmann's score.

1959 was a year of lackluster films from Fox.  But Fox found
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH was a notable exception.  They
made some effort in the following years to have a science fiction
adventure for the summer.  In 1960 it was a remake of THE LOST
WORLD for Irwin Allen.  But Fox's best summer science fiction
adventure film was JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH until it was
displaced by STAR WARS.

There.  I have gotten most of the praise of this film done.  Next
week I will go into some of the problems of the film.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Ellen Datlow (summary of presentation by Evelyn C. Leeper)

On September 10, Ellen Datlow spoke at the Old Bridge (NJ) Public
Library as a guest of the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers.
This was the twelfth year in a row that Datlow has spoken for them,
and right after she won the Hugo for Best Editor (Short-Form) at
Worldcon last month in Kansas City.

Datlow said that she would make a few remarks, but that the session
would be mostly questions and answers.  She started by saying that
OMNI would be returning in December, both in print and on-line.  (A
couple of small trial issues have already been published.)  She
mentioned some recent anthologies she edited, including CHILDREN OF
LOVECRAFT, and said that because she has been editing mostly
horror, it was hard to get authors to send her science fiction for
something like OMNI.

Speaking of CHILDREN OF LOVECRAFT, I asked why there seemed to be a
sudden resurgence in H. P. Lovecraft-inspired fiction.  Datlow said
that Lovecraft had always been somewhat popular, but got a big
boost from the Chaosium role-playing game "Call of Cthulhu" in the
1960s, and again from S. T. Joshi's academic work on Lovecraft in
the 1990s and later.  However, she agreed there seemed to be a
boom, with at least ten original Lovecraft-inspired anthologies
last year alone, as well as Matt Ruff's novel LOVECRAFT COUNTRY,
Jonathan L. Howard's CARTER & LOVECRAFT, Victor LaValle's THE
BALLAD OF BLACK TOM, and probably a lot more.  Her explanation was,
"[Lovecraft] is the Cosmic Horror guy--the go-to guy [for cosmic
horror]."  Someone thought it was because of the possibility of
film adaptations, but Datlow said that no one who knows anything
about the film industry would write anything just because it might
be picked up for a film.  As someone noted, if Guillermo del Toro
has been trying to get IN THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS going for years,
new Lovecraft fiction hasn't much of a chance.

Asked about the best markets for horror stories, Datlow said BLACK
STATIC was the best, but most of the others are inconsistent.  She
reminded authors not to ignore non-horror specific markets such as
ANALOG, ASIMOV'S, and F&SF.  There are also intermittent markets;
Liz Hand will be editing an issue of CONJUNCTIONS about aliens, for

For getting your work reviewed, your publisher should have a list,
but a few places to remember are LOCUS, FANGORIA, RUE MORGUE,

Asked about over-used tropes (as I believe she is every year),
Datlow said a typically British one is the dysfunctional couple
that goes to a bad spot and bad things happen to them.  She said
that she has to empathize with at least one character to continue
reading a story or (especially) a novel; "I hate reading about
total losers."  Interesting psychopaths are okay, but not boring

Datlow talked a bit about the new Tor line of novellas.  It has
been more successful than they expected--they had originally
intended to make it print-on-demand, but the initial sales made
regular publishing more profitable.  One of their big successes was
BINTI, by Nnedi Okorafor, which won the Hugo for Best Novella this
year.  However, its success comes with a price (for readers:
because the initial outlay for on-line novellas is higher than for
print (even if print eventually generates more payout for the
author), the print novella program means there will be far fewer
(if any) novellas on

Why are most anthologies themed anthologies?  Because non-themed
anthologies don't sell.  Datlow has done one or two using
Kickstarter, but she feels that Kickstarter should be a one-time
thing, not something one uses for every project.  Another, more on-
going, platform is Patreon, with its automatically recurring
payments.  N. K. Jemisin is using this for short stories, but
Datlow's concern is that sending your new stories to 3000 people
who signed up on Patreon kills your market (except as reprints).
On the other hand, if you are getting (say) $3000 for each story,
that may be better than what you could do in more traditional
markets.  On the gripping hand, your Patreon distribution is not
putting your name in front of a wider audience.

Speaking of anthologies, Datlow said, "Anyone can be an
anthologist."  This led someone to mishear (and misinterpret) this
as "anyone can be an editor," and asked how one would go about
doing that.  Datlow clarified that she had said anyone can be an
"anthologist" (not an editor), but not that everyone should be.


TOPIC: QUANTUM NIGHT by Robert J. Sawyer (copyright 2016, Ace,
$27.00, 351pp, ISBN 978-0-425-25683-1) (excerpt from the Duel Fish
Codices: a book review by Joe Karpierz)

QUANTUM NIGHT is Robert J. Sawyer's 23rd science fiction novel.
Throughout all those novels and all those years, Sawyer has
explored any number of far ranging ideas, sometimes a good number
of them in one book (some of his novels have so many different
ideas in play it's sometimes tough to keep up with them all, let
alone figure out how they all play into the particular story he is
telling).  One of his favorite topics to explore is the nature of
consciousness, and Sawyer returns to that subject in a novel that
reminds the reader of some of those earlier idea filled novels.
 From the idea a person can't be convicted of a crime because that
may just be his (or her) nature, to the saying that a person's
"lights are on, but no one is home" being a central theme to the
book, Sawyer has the reader's head spinning from the opening pages.
And it takes the thought that "you can't change human nature" and
turns it completely on its ear.

Jim Marchuk has developed a technique for identifying the
psychopaths in our midst.  There are other techniques, but his
appears to not only support the others but is 100% objective and
accurate.  Marchuk is called to appear as an expert witness in a
murder trial; the defense claims that because the accused was "made
that way"--that is, a psychopath--he cannot be found guilty of the
crime (this is an idea that is not new, and appears here as a
result of the mammoth amount of research that Sawyer has done for
this novel.  His method has determined that the defendant is indeed
a psychopath; that is not in question.  What started out as a
cross-examination of the method turns into a cross-examination of
Marchuk, the end result being that he has not only lost six months
out of his life, but during that six months (he finds out later) he
has done some pretty gruesome acts.

Not long after his day in court, Marchuk is contacted by an old
girlfriend he had during that dark six-month interval.  Kayla is a
quantum physicist.  She and a colleague have discovered that the
consciousness is quantum in nature, and that there are three states
of consciousness:  the philosopher's zombie or p-zed (the state
where the lights are on and no one is home), the psychopath, and
what the novel ends up calling the cwcs (quicks)--conscious with
conscience.  Each of the three is a actually a quantum state that
is an indicator of a quantum entanglement in the brain (it's at
this point that I think I'd better stop trying to explain the
science here and let you read the novel for yourself, and after you
do that take a good hard look at all the non-fiction reading that
Sawyer has laid out at the end of the book, and although it might
not be a bad idea to explain what a p-zed is, I don't want to take
up half the review doing an info dump) and it turns out that an
outside force can induce the brain to change quantum  states.

However, there are several questions that are central to the story:
why did Marchuk lose those six months, why is Kayla's brother in a
coma, and why is there an increasing amount of violence occurring
all over the world that appears to be somewhat unstoppable?  The
answers to the first two questions are handled relatively easily
and in a straightforward fashion.  The third one is a tad more
difficult to come to grips with, and the solution is one that will
change the makeup of the entirety of humanity.

QUANTUM NIGHT is certainly a story of ideas, but it is more than
that.  It's a story of how those ideas influence the people in the
story, and how it makes them think of their own as well as all of

humanity's morality.  These are real people, and although they are
facing very earth shattering concepts and ideas that will change
the way they think of each other and the rest of the human race,
they react in what I feel are very realistic ways to a crisis that
threatens to take down a good portion of civilization.

It's probably reasonable to talk about how the science is presented
in QUANTUM NIGHT.  This is the third book I've read in the last
several months which contains a great deal of complex science to
make the story work.  The first was Kim Stanley Robinson's AURORA,
and the second was Neal Stephenson's SEVENEVES.  The first two
novels have long stretches of infodumps--pages upon pages upon
pages of infodumps.  Robinson goes into gory detail telling the
reader exactly why a generational starship will not work.
Stephenson loves teaching his readers about orbital mechanics.
Sawyer, on the other hand, weaves the science into the story so
that while you're vaguely aware that you're getting a lecture in
quantum mechanics (for example), it's not boring and tedious.  It's
part of the natural conversation of the story, and the characters
react to it in realistic ways.  As much as I love a good infodump,
I really got tired of the orbital mechanics in SEVENEVES; my eyes
were rolling so much I felt they would spin out of my head.  And
while it could be argued that Sawyer treads dangerously close to
the "As you know, Bob" method of the infodump, I don't think he
ever crosses that line.  The conversations between the characters
in which the science is explained to the reader is believable and

Oh, one more thing.  If you start walking down the street or
sitting in your car at a stop-light looking at people and wondering
if they're psychopaths, p-zeds, or quicks, Sawyer has done his job.
He's making you think about the world around you in different ways.
And that's what good science fiction--like QUANTUM NIGHT--does.


TOPIC: SULLY (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: With one six-minute flight Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger,
went from being a respected but obscure airline pilot to being a
national hero who saved 155 lives after a plane crash.  So why is
he still having nightmares, and why would the NTSB be having
hearings to determine if the cause of the crash was "pilot error"?
Why does Sully hate to be labeled a hero?  While at one time this
story would have been about a pilot using his flight skills to save
the passengers and crew aboard the plane, the modern story is as
much about what is human vs. the computer.  Rating: +2 (-4 to +4)
or 7/10

On January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 left LaGuardia Airport.
Flying the craft was Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, pilot, and
Jeffery Skiles, co-pilot.  Less than three minutes into the flight
the plane flew into a flock of Canada geese.  Both the engines on
the Airbus A320 were disabled.  Sully had to make some very fast
decisions.  He decided it was much too dangerous to land in
LaGuardia or nearby Teterboro Airport with no thrust from either
engine.  His rather unorthodox idea is to attempt a water landing
in the Hudson River.  Weeks later Sully is torn with self-doubt as
to whether his decision was the right one or whether the passengers
and crew, some 155 people, would have faced less risk had he tried
a more conventional emergency landing.

In director Clint Eastwood's and screenwriter Todd Komarnicki's
narrative, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has run
computer simulations of the flight and has found either airport
landing would have posed less danger to the lives on board the
plane.  While the media has portrayed Sully as a hero who saved the
life of everybody on flight 1549, Sully is suffering from Post-
Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Meanwhile, his family is pestered by
reporters and just about everybody else.  It is in this frame of
mind that Sully has to defend his actions to the NTSB and its
damning computer simulations.

Tom Hanks plays Sully as a man with serious self-doubt.  But the
viewer has few misgivings.  Like Jimmy Stewart and Morgan Freeman
Tom Hanks is an actor we immediately associated with the good guys.
Having Hanks in the role immediately assuages any doubt that we
might have that Sully might have endangered his passengers.  Hanks
is Mr. Integrity.  Supporting Hanks is Aaron Eckhart as Jeff
Skiles, the co-pilot and loyal friend of Sully.  Laura Linney plays
Lorraine Sullenberger, Sully's wife, who has little to do here but
worry about her husband and provide him some moral support.

A story about a six-minute flight is hard to adapt into a film
script.  Should the film have all its action about the middle of
the film and then the rest filled with talk?  Todd Komarnicki's
screenplay, directed by Clint Eastwood, solves the pacing problem
by starting the film just as the plane hits the geese, but at that
time it gives a short and incomplete telling of the events of that
day.  From there the point of view jumps around in time, mostly
taking place during the later investigation by the NTSB.  Eastwood
gives us only two quick scenes from Sully's past.  It is not enough
to tell us much about him so it fails to broaden our understanding
of the character.  Instead and to add more visual excitement there
are at least two fantasy sequences in which Sully imagines what a
disaster his decision might all two easily have been.  Each ends
with a spectacular explosion.

The film SULLY is a tribute to a hero who does not wear a spandex
costume or have a license to kill.  He is a flesh and blood human
with nonetheless tremendous skill. a man who knew what he had to do
to save lives.  If there is any lingering doubt that he is a real
person, we see and hear him during the closing credits of the film.
I rate Clint Eastwood's screen adaptation of his autobiography a +2
on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: In the kindest conspiracy of rich people we have seen in
films for a long time, the members of the exclusive Verdi Club
music appreciation society do not tell their leader, the eponymous
Florence Foster Jenkins, that her singing is deplorably bad.
Florence goes through life with her husband and her music
accompanist protecting here from the painful truth.  The script by
Nicholas Martin, directed by Stephen Frears, is uneven.  At times
it is quite funny, but more of the time it seems aimless.  While
the lead couple are less interesting than we would want, the film
is perked up by the presence of Simon Helberg as a piano
accompanist with an extremely expressive face.  Rating: low +2 (-4
to +4) or 7/10

Love means never having to say, "You have a terrible singing
voice."  At least that is true in upper class New York of 1944.
The leaders of the upper crust belong to the very patrician Verdi
Club, a sort of music appreciation society.  The center of the club
are Florence Foster Jenkins (played by Meryl Streep) and her
husband St Clair Bayfield (Hugh Grant).  These are about the nicest
wealthy people we have seen in films for a while.  At the same time
they are all conspirators.  They all appreciate fine music, and
Florence often sings for them.  The conspiracy, led by Bayfield, is
that they all share the secret that Florence is an absolutely
terrible singer.  And they all conspire to keep the secret from
Florence.  Nobody can let on to Florence that her singing is
painful to hear.  And everybody wants to make sure that nobody
reveals to Florence just how bad her singing really is.  Guests who
laugh at Florence's singing are immediately ostracized and

Bayfield suspects that eventually it will get back to his wife just
how awkward her singing voice really is, but the script by Nicholas
Martin gives Bayfield reason to hold off that time as far as
possible.  Bayfield's marriage to Florence has more secrets than
just his wife's problem.  Florence has medical problems and
Bayfield has a girlfriend he does not want his wife to find out
about.  But the big secret in the film is Florence's level of
talent and at times the secrets build on themselves and the story
has a touch of Oscar Wilde humor.  Some of the set-ups end in
disappointment.  There is a bit of a mystery surrounding a
briefcase.  We wait to find out the solution of the mystery, but
when we get it, it just rates an, "Oh. Okay."

Streep is very good in the title role, but the script fails to make
her someone I would want to know more about.  Florence is just a
vain woman who has had something of a hard time and now has to be
protected from her friends' true opinion of her.  Streep also does
her own singing, bad and good.  Hugh Grant is really just playing
an older version of a character he has played too many times, a
role not very demanding of him.  The surprise for me was Simon
Helberg, playing Cosme McMoon.  I see that he is a regular on "The
Big Bang Theory" and has used that experience to hone his comic
skills.  His face is a sort of Greek chorus all by itself,
commenting on the action of the story.

The truth is that we come out of the film respecting how much the
two main characters love each other, but their characters have not
been enough filled out for us to be very touched by their love.
They are nice people and you wish them well, but there is no
chemistry between them, little sense of humor, and not very much
empathy value.  I rate FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS a low +2 on the -4
to +4 scale or 7/10.

[Note: I looked up Christian McKay, who played the hostile
reviewer, and thought he looked a lot like Orson Welles.  If I were
making a film with Welles as a character I would cast him in the
role.  Looking his filmography I see that his first feature film
role was in the film ME AND ORSON WELLES (2008) playing ... who
else? ... Orson Welles.]

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: THE PEOPLE GARDEN (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: Somewhere in this 83-minute mystery story there is a
mediocre 20-minute film struggling to get out.  A 20-something
woman goes to Japan to find her missing rock star boyfriend and
then to break up with him.  The search leads her to a possibly
supernatural Japanese forest where her boy friend was making a
music video, but has disappeared from the shooting location without
word.  The film raises many questions, answers few, and none to the
viewer's satisfaction.  Nadia Litz writes and directs.  Rating:
-1 (-4 to +4) or 3/10

Sweetpea (played by Dree Hemingway) is a rock fan who has had a
relationship with rock star Jamie (Francois Arnaud).  We see them
dance together once.  Once.  Supposedly they had some sort of
relationship, but now Sweetpea is tired of the rock star.  She has
flown to Japan where Jamie is making a music video.  Sweetpea has
come thousands of miles to break off her liaison with Jamie.  But
Jamie has disappeared from the set without telling anyone.
Incidentally the video-makers are shooting in the famous and
mysterious Aokigahara Forest, known as the Suicide Forest, where
many Japanese have committed suicide.

Writer/director Nadia Litz was expecting that the suspense would
pull the viewer into the story.  But we are given little reason to
have concern for the fate of Jamie or even of Sweetpea.  The
characters seem flat.  We see Sweetpea dancing with Jamie and are
told just that she had a relationship with him but that she is
chasing to Japan to break up with him.  Sweetpea searches the
forest and finds where the music video was being filmed.  Jamie had
been there that morning but had disappeared.  One would think that
the production people would welcome Sweetpea coming and looking for
Jamie, but Sweetpea is just met with (never-explained) hostility.

The film is 83 minutes long and there would have been plenty of
time for Litz to develop Sweetpea, but instead she lazily fills out
a feature length with long takes that have limited motion and in
which nothing happens.  A good editor would have cut this film down
to less than half its current length.

At times Litz seems to try experimenting with the style.  She
throws in an overhead shot.  I believe toward the beginning of
there is a piece where it looks like she is experimenting with the
number of frames per second.  None of this is explained or seems to
amount to much.

Litz seems to be taking advantage of the current interest in the
Aokigahara Suicide Forest.  While Sweetpea tries to be serious in
her concern for Jamie, it is hard to take seriously any character
named "Sweetpea."  Sweetpea is played by the very serious Dree
Hemingway, the daughter of Mariel Hemingway and the granddaughter
of Ernest Hemingway.

This is a film with an atmosphere somewhere between dream-like and
lethargic atmosphere, but it needed a much stronger plot.  I would
rate it a -1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 3/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: Prius (letters of comment by John Jezl and Charles
S. Harris)

In response to Evelyn's comments on the Toyota Prius in the
09/09/16 issue of the MT VOID, John Jezl writes:

In response to: Ten Things I Like about the Prius/Ten Things I
Don't Like about the Prius

I have never replied to anything posted in MT VOID but, given that
I picked up a new 2016 Prius last week after owning a 2006 Prius
for ten years, I was compelled to on this one. I found your con
list to be interesting and, for the most part, in line with my

One caveat, my differences in experience may be due to
model/package differences. Toyota now has three major variants of
the Prius (Prius, Prius c and Prius v) and within the main Prius
variant, six different "sub"-models ... and then option packages. I
have the Prius Three w/ tech package.

[We have the Prius Two.  -ecl]

1. The gas mileage means it is easy to forget to ever look at the
gas gauge.

- YES! I very nearly did this with my first tank in my 2016.

3. There is no setting that has the headlights come on
automatically when you start the car, but turn off when you turn
off the car.

- That must differ based on package.  Mine includes auto-headlights
and auto-highbeams.

4. The glove compartment is smaller than the one in our old

- Not only that, but my 2006 had an upper glove box (in addition to
the lower one), a drawer below the center console, a small
compartment below the radio perfect for registration and insurance
cards, overhead sunglass compartment, and a good amount of storage
under the rear floor.  All gone.  GONE!  *sob*

5. It is a hatchback.

- But AMAZING cargo capacity because of it.

9. It has a 700-page manual, most of which covers features our
model does not have.

- Which takes up way too much of the already greatly reduced

10. You have to have the key very close to the driver's door (i.e.,
not the hatchback) to open the car.

Not being certain of your definition of very close, I've never had
an issue with this.  I keep it in my pocket.  Works for the
hatchback and passenger door.  May be model/package dependent.
Also having a mobile phone in the same pocket can block the signal.
Perhaps you're encountering some of that.

I love my Prius, despite agreeing with most of your "con" list.
However, I would replace 5 and 10 with:

5. At not quite 6' tall, the rear view mirror sits precisely in my
line of sight of where a car would be sitting at a stop sign from
the right.  This creates a rather dicey blind spot.

10. Again, due to my apparently unreasonable height, I can't see
the cool color HUD.  At all.


And Charles Harris writes:

Why is no ashtray a problem?  [-csh]

Evelyn replies:

Because sometimes we want to throw out a gum wrapper or ticket
stub.  [-ecl]


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

THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT by J. R. R. Tolkien, with annotations by
Douglas A. Anderson (ISBN 978-0-618-13470-0) got very good reviews,
and I generally like annotated editions of classics.  However, the
majority of the annotations for this are noting the differences
between the 1937 and 1951 editions, which are usually minor changes
in phrasing.  A lot of the remainder are philological in nature,
indicating the sources (Scandinavian, Old English, and so on) for
many of the words and names.  Very few seem to be about the actual
content--the origins of the Ring, or the number of White Wizards in
Middle Earth.

It does include an assortment of illustrations from various
editions of THE HOBBIT, although many that were in color in them
are rendered in black-and-white here.  (There are a few color

And the layout of the annotations is less than ideal.  As I have
noted in comments on other annotated books, there are two ways of
solving the "runaway annotation problem" (the annotation is so long
it continues onto the next page) when doing annotations as a
separate column in the margins (rather than as footnotes).

The first is to let the columns run independently of each other,
which can result in (for example) the annotation for text on page
20 not appearing until page 23.  The only rule here is that
annotations do not start *before* the text they annotate.
The second is to halt the text until the long annotation finishes,
if necessary having two annotation columns and no text column on a
page.  This happens of necessity at the end of the chapter anyway,
and is much easier to follow when one is reading, so I prefer this.
However, THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT uses the first method.

If you're interested in textual minutiae, you might like this, but
most readers will find the annotations of little use.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           From the moment I picked your book up until the
           moment I put it down I could not stop laughing.
           Someday I hope to read it.
                                           --Groucho Marx
                                           (to Leo Rosten)