Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
04/07/17 -- Vol. 35, No. 41, Whole Number 1957

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Hugo Finalists
        Three Times More Confusing (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        Mini-Reviews of 2016 Films (Part 5) (ZERO DAYS, ANTHROPOID,
                (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        WORLDS APART (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        DAY FOR NIGHT (letters of comment by Paul Dormer
                and Tim Bateman)
                (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Hugo Finalists

The list of Hugo finalists can be found at the end of this issue.


TOPIC: Three Times More Confusing (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

I see the headline "North Dakota oil spill 3 times larger than
first estimated."  I have never known what "times larger" meant.
People seem to interpret it as "North Dakota oil spill 3 TIMES AS
LARGE AS first estimated."  But "larger" does not mean the same
thing as "as large as."  "As large as" means of the same size.
Larger means, well, ..., larger.  Do they mean "4 times as large"?
If that is what they mean, why don't they say it that way?  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Mini-Reviews of 2016 Films (Part 5) (comments by Mark
R. Leeper)

Several issues back I published four lists of major films of 2016
to let people know what is available somewhere in the cinema ether,
if such a thing exists.  I actually never completed that set
because another bunch of topics came along to write about.  Now
things have slowed just a little and I can finish up the set of
reviews of films I have been given an opportunity to see.  All
films are rated on my habitual -4 to +4 rating system.

There are some special considerations when reviewing a documentary.
You are in part reviewing the interest value and style as you would
any film.  But you are also evaluating its importance and
relevance.  The threat of cyber warfare is almost certainly real
and almost certainly a dangerous threat.  It will not kill anyone
but it can less directly kill millions and those left alive will
find civilization has died and humans have to return to a primitive
state.  That is no exaggeration.  Computer malware can bring down
everything electronic.  The precedent for allowing the STUXnet
virus to distribute itself to computers around the world has
created a very strong threat. The film is an introduction to what
malware is and what it can do.  And what it can do is not
encouraging. The possibilities are to say the least disturbing.
Rating: High +2

The title makes this film sound like science fiction.  It is mostly
a World War II espionage film that builds up to a huge gun battle.
The film is about the efforts of the allies to have a small team
assassinate SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the third man in the
hierarchy of the Third Reich and a major architect of the
Holocaust.  Heydrich runs defeated Czechoslovakia with unlimited
power.  The people's resistance to the Germans is nearly dead in
Czechoslovakia.  London has them bring in a team of five fighters
to try to kill Heydrich.  The film is in large part about paranoia
of trying to put the coup together.  But it builds to a seemingly
endless gun battle that is explicit and gory.  The film contains
disturbing scenes of torture.  Rating: High +1

This is claimed to be a thriller, though it moves a little slowly
to call it really thrilling.  The drama is directed by Persian
filmmaker Asghar Farhadi who in 2011 directed A SEPARATION.  This
film is good, but it is a step or two down from A SEPARATION.  The
film revolves around a husband and wife.  The husband is a high
school teacher.  Both husband and wife are preparing a performance
of Arthur Miller's "The Death of a Salesman."  When their house
collapses they move to a new home, one previously owned by a
prostitute.  The past catches up to the house as the wife is raped
and the husband wants to find the culprit on his own without
involving the police who might restrain him.  The real meat of the
story takes place after the culprit is caught.  Unfortunately three
quarters of the film is already gone by that time.  Then the film
deals with themes of justice, vengeance, and mercy.  It is only in
these parts that the film starts catching up to the quality of A
SEPARATION.  I was never clear on why the main characters were
doing "The Death of a Salesman" specifically.  Rating: Low +2
(Note, this film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language
Film.  I still give it only a low +2, but with a little more
respect.  So, what do I know?)

(Minor spoilers follow.) TOUCHED WITH FIRE, written and directed by
Paul Dalio, is the love story of two people, poets and general
artists, who are both bi-polar.  They meet in a psychiatric
hospital and their manic mental state acts like a drug to magnify
their relationship making them love each other.  Both come from
families that want to control them.  Sometimes their condition
causes problems in their marriage.  Overall their story is not very
different from one of two alcoholics.  For the story to work one
would have to indentify with the main characters, but that empathy
takes a long time to kick in and then it is not really effective.
We have seen their condition at that point and are not sure we
really want them to try to raise a child together whom they are
hoping will be doubly bipolar.  They seem to feel that being bi-
polar is both an illness and an artistic gift.  Occasionally one
feels that Dalio is using sick people's rants for entertainment.
The film stars Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby as the sometimes lovers
and it has veteran actors Christine Lahti and Griffin Dunne.  Spike
Lee is executive producer.  Rating: +1

The Mexican border has been the setting of several sharply written
crime films going back to John Sayles's LONE STAR (1996).  More
recently we have seen THE Coen Brothers' NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
(2007) and FRONTERA (2014).  TRANSPECOS is not so tightly written.
It has a small cast, no familiar actors, and limited plot.
TRANSPECOS is a short film at 88 minutes.  Though it manages to
create some suspense for the viewer some of that tension is lost
because the plot proceeds so slowly.  Most of it takes place in the
desert, keeping the budget down.  Three Border Patrol agents patrol
the line between Mexico and Texas panhandle west of the Pecos
River.  Hobbs (played by Clifton Collins Jr.) is a colorful
character who is an old hand at reading a crime scene and getting
the most information from it.  Flores (Gabriel Luna) looks up to
him.  Davis (Johnny Simmons) is a tenderfoot who makes the mistakes
of any newcomer.  One of the three is secretly working for the drug
cartel.  Things are going to get ugly this day and the following
night.  Rating: low +1



TOPIC: WORLDS APART (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: This film contains three stories of love and callousness,
in each a Greek having a romantic relationship with somebody from
another country.  The three stories are bound together by the story
of a fourth Greek less positive.  Christopher Papakaliatis wrote,
produced, directed and acts.  For US audiences it might be a primer
on the anti-immigrant movements in Greece as well as the financial
crises.  Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

This is three love stories set in Greece in a time of turmoil and
financial crisis.  The stories are bound together to take place at
the same time and toward the end they join together to be one
single story.  The film takes place in Athens and in each story a
Greek meets and has a relationship with a non-Greek.

The first story has a young Greek woman, Daphne (played by Niki
Vakali) saved from a street mugging by Syrian refugee Farris
(Tawfeek Barhom), once an artist, now a street vendor.  The Syrian
decides he likes this woman and pursues her in his own way.  This
turns into a Romeo and Juliet story, since Daphne's father Antonis
(Minas Chatzisavvas) leans to the fascistic, who wants to see all
these foreigners thrown out of his country.  With a little help
from some friends he intends to take matters into his own hands.
He sees himself as having lost everything he valued to immigrants,
especially street thieves.

In the second story, Giorgios works as a salesman for a big
corporation.  Its home office in Sweden is downsizing it.  Giorgios
is played by Christopher Papakaliatis, who co-produced, wrote and
directed WORLDS APART.  The company sends a corporate "axe man" to
Athens to lay off workers and perform the downsizing.  In this case
the axe man is really an axe woman and though the two disagree
strongly on company policy, outside of work they find something to
like in each other.

The third story has a Greek housewife Maria (Maria Kavoyianni)
having her world turned around when she meets a German historian
intent on introducing her to poetry, philosophy, and a wider more
romantic world.  The professor is improbably played by
J. K. Simmons who brings his usual amiable style, though he is not
entirely convincing as a German.  The two meet secretly in the
grocery at the same time each week for a platonic rendezvous in a
world apart from Maria's unpleasant home life.

There is a thread that ties the stories together; it snakes through
the other stories, touching all the major characters.

The film is a Greek production.  Most of the cast will be
unfamiliar to American audiences, the one exception being Simmons.
Scuttlebutt is that most of the others are well known in Greece.
Christopher Papakaliatis who wrote, produced, directed, and is one
of the main characters looks a bit like a Greek Mandy Patinkin.
The film is in English and Greek with English subtitles.

The film was made in 2015, but with nativist attitudes making
themselves felt in the United States and with the financial crisis
in Greece it can only be more relevant today than when it was made.
I would rate WORLDS APART a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.  It
will be coming to DVD and On Demand on April 11, 2017.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: DAY FOR NIGHT (letters of comment by Paul Dormer and Tim

In response to Mark's comments on DAY FOR NIGHT in the 03/31/17
issue of the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:


Heard a fascinating radio talk back in the seventies about how the
novelist Graham Greene ended up playing an English insurance
assessor in this film.

Truffaut wanted an actual Englishman to play the role and asked his
casting director to ask around the English ex pat community in the
south of France.  The casting director knew Greene and suggested
that he audition for the role, without telling Truffaut who it was.
He got the role at which point Truffaut said he looked familiar. It
was only then he found out who it was.  (I see it's his only acting
credit in the IMDB.)  [-pd]

Tim Bateman responds:

Well, well, well.  TV Tropes has a slightly different account of
this incident:

In 1973 he had an uncredited cameo as a British insurance company
representative in the movie DAY FOR NIGHT.  He had told a friend
how he had always wanted to meet Truffaut, as he was a huge fan of
his films, so it was arranged for him to have a small part in the
film.  Truffaut was disappointed when he found out after Greene had
left, because he had been a huge fan of Greene's writing!

It is like unto a thing of Captain America's Awesome origin.  [-tb]

Paul replies:

It was a long time ago, so I could be misremembering.  [-pd]


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

In 2010, our book discussion group read STORIES OF YOUR LIFE AND
OTHER STORIES by Ted Chiang (ISBN 978-01-101-97212-0).  This year
we re-visited it, with specific emphasis on "Story of Your Life",
which was the basis of the movie ARRIVAL.  [Note: there will be

One person suggested that the radial symmetry of the heptapods--
with no beginning and no end--was reflected in their view of all
time simultaneously, rather than moving from a beginning to an end.

The question of free will and determinism came up, of course, since
the notion that the heptapods know or can see the future would seem
to bring up the question of what happens if one sees himself do
something in the future, and then purposely does something
different.  It is yet another version of the philosophical question
of whether all time exists "simultaneously" and we just move
through it, or whether the future is created moment by moment.
(English really lacks the words to express a "simultaneity of

One person in our group thought the idea of someone being able to
see the future made no sense; his suggestion was that Chiang had
the narrator use this as a device to tell the story, much as one
could write a story in the second person, or in the present tense,
but that in fact it was told entirely from a point in time *after*
the latest event related.

I also talked about how the rotation and modification of the
heptapod glyphs that united to form a sentence reminded me of the
way Maya glyphs also could be rotated and modified to fit together
in a more pleasing figure.  Of course, the haptapod modifications
were very specific and added meanings (e.g., putting the word in
the objective case), while the Maya modifications were more
aesthetic (similar to how English cursive script changes to make
the connectivity to the adjacent letters work).  (I just got a copy
of BREAKING THE MAYA CODE by Michael D. Coe, and will probably
review it after I read it.  I certainly enjoyed the NOVA episode
"Cracking the Maya Code", and I need to try to find the feature-
length version, BREAKING THE MAYA CODE.  [I assume one is a subset
of the other, since Michael Lebrun directed both.)

The vast majority of Amazon reviews are positive, but it was
instructive to read the negative reviews.  Discounting the
reviewers who complained that they did not realize they were
ordering an e-book, or the book never arrived, the negative reviews
indicated some basic misunderstandings.

For example, one person complained that the book was "just
unrelated stories."  This person was apparently unfamiliar with the
notion of a single-author collection (or perhaps even of an
anthology).  Related to this was, "Had nothing to do with the
movie."  (The story "Story of Your Life" is actually the
penultimate story in the book: apparently the reviewer got to it.)

Also, there were such comments as, "You have to be a physicist or a
mathematician to follow along."  Lord help these people if they
ever have to read a Greg Egan story.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Hugo Finalists

Best Novel

2078 ballots cast for 652 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 156 to 480.

     ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY, by Charlie Jane Anders
     A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBIT, by Becky Chambers
     DEATH'S END, by Cixin Liu, translated by Ken Liu
     NINEFOX GAMBIT, by Yoon Ha Lee
     THE OBELISK GATE, by N. K. Jemisin
     TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING, by Ada Palmer

Best Novella

1410 ballots cast for 187 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 167 to 511.

     THE BALLAD OF BLACK TOM, by Victor LaValle
     EVERY HEART A DOORWAY, by Seanan McGuire
     PENRIC AND THE SHAMAN, by Lois McMaster Bujold
     A TASTE OF HONEY, by Kai Ashante Wilson
     THIS CENSUS-TAKER, by China Mieville

Best Novelette

1097 ballots cast for 295 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 74 to 268.

     "Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By The T-Rex",
         by Stix Hiscock (self-published)
     "The Art of Space Travel", by Nina Allan
         (, July 2016)
     "The Jewel and Her Lapidary", by Fran Wilde
         ( publishing, May 2016)
     "The Tomato Thief", by Ursula Vernon
         (Apex Magazine, January 2016)
     "Touring with the Alien", by Carolyn Ives Gilman
         (Clarkesworld Magazine, April 2016)
     "You'll Surely Drown Here If You Stay", by Alyssa Wong
         (Uncanny Magazine, May 2016)

Best Short Story

1275 ballots cast for 830 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 87 to 182.

     "The City Born Great", by N. K. Jemisin
         (, September 2016)
     "A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers",
         by Alyssa Wong (, March 2016)
     "Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies", by Brooke Bolander
         (Uncanny Magazine, November 2016)
     "Seasons of Glass and Iron", by Amal El-Mohtar
         (The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, Saga Press)
     "That Game We Played During the War", by Carrie Vaughn
         (, March 2016)
     "An Unimaginable Light", by John C. Wright
         (God, Robot, Castalia House)

Best Related Work

1122 ballots cast for 344 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 88 to 424.

     THE PRINCESS DIARIST, by Carrie Fisher
         by Robert Silverberg and Alvaro Zinos-Amaro
         by Ursula K. Le Guin

Best Graphic Story

842 ballots cast for 441 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 71 to 221.

     Black Panther, Volume 1: A Nation Under Our Feet, written
         by Ta-Nehisi Coates, illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze
     Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, written by Marjorie Liu,
         illustrated by Sana Takeda
     Ms. Marvel, Volume 5: Super Famous, written
         by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Takeshi Miyazawa
     Paper Girls, Volume 1, written by Brian K. Vaughan,
         illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson,
         lettered by Jared Fletcher
     Saga, Volume 6, illustrated by Fiona Staples,
         written by Brian K. Vaughan, lettered by Fonografiks
     The Vision, Volume 1: Little Worse Than A Man, written
         by Tom King, illustrated by Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

1733 ballots cast for 206 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 240 to 1030.

     STRANGER THINGS, Season One

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

1159 ballots cast for 569 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 91 to 193.

     Black Mirror: "San Junipero"
     Doctor Who: "The Return of Doctor Mysterio"
     The Expanse: "Leviathan Wakes"
     Game of Thrones: "Battle of the Bastards"
     Game of Thrones: "The Door"
     Splendor & Misery [album], by Clipping

Best Editor, Short Form

951 ballots cast for 191 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 149 to 229.

     John Joseph Adams
     Neil Clarke
     Ellen Datlow
     Jonathan Strahan
     Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas
     Sheila Williams

Best Editor, Long Form

752 ballots cast for 148 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 83 to 201.

     Vox Day
     Sheila E. Gilbert
     Liz Gorinsky
     Devi Pillai
     Miriam Weinberg
     Navah Wolfe

Best Professional Artist

817 ballots cast for 387 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 53 to 143.

     Galen Dara
     Julie Dillon
     Chris McGrath
     Victo Ngai
     John Picacio
     Sana Takeda

Best Semiprozine

857 ballots cast for 103 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 80 to 434.

     Beneath Ceaseless Skies
     Cirsova Heroic Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine
     Strange Horizons
     Uncanny Magazine
     The Book Smugglers

Best Fanzine

610 ballots cast for 152 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 53 to 159.

     Castalia House Blog
     Journey Planet
     Lady Business
     nerds of a feather, flock together
     Rocket Stack Rank
     SF Bluestocking

Best Fancast

690 ballots cast for 253 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 76 to 109.

     The Coode Street Podcast
     Ditch Diggers
     Fangirl Happy Hour
     Galactic Suburbia
     The Rageaholic
     Tea and Jeopardy

Best Fan Writer

802 ballots cast for 275 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 80 to 152.

     Mike Glyer
     Jeffro Johnson
     Natalie Luhrs
     Foz Meadows
     Abigail Nussbaum
     Chuck Tingle

Best Fan Artist

528 ballots cast for 242 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 39 to 121.

     Ninni Aalto
     Alex Garner
     Vesa Lehtimaki
     Likhain (M. Sereno)
     Spring Schoenhuth
     Mansik Yang

Worldcon 75 has elected to exercise its authority under the WSFS
Constitution to add an additional category for 2017 only:

Best Series

1393 votes for 290 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 129 to 325.

     The Craft Sequence, by Max Gladstone
     The Expanse, by James S.A. Corey
     The October Daye Books, by Seanan McGuire
     The Peter Grant / Rivers of London series, by Ben Aaronovitch
     The Temeraire series, by Naomi Novik
     The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold

[Note that this category may become a permanent one if so voted at
Worldcon this year.]

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy
writer of 2014 or 2015, sponsored by Dell Magazines. (Not a Hugo
Award, but administered along with the Hugo Awards.)

933 votes for 260 nominees.
Votes for finalists ranged from 88 to 255.

     Sarah Gailey (1st year of eligibility)
     J. Mulrooney (1st year of eligibility)
     Malka Older (2nd year of eligibility)
     Ada Palmer (1st year of eligibility)
     Laurie Penny (2nd year of eligibility)
     Kelly Robson (2nd year of eligibility)


The following nominees received enough votes to qualify for the
final ballot, but either declined nomination or were found to be

     Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Game of Thrones:
         "The Winds of Winter" (No more than two episodes of any
         one show may be finalists in this category)
     Best Professional Artist: Tomek Radziewicz (No qualifying
         publications in 2016)
     Best Professional Artist: JiHun Lee (No qualifying
         publications in 2016)
     Best Semiprozine: Lightspeed Magazine (Not eligible)
     Best Fanzine: File 770 (Declined nomination)


TOPIC: Hugo Finalists (Correction)

Okay, so the list of Hugo finalists can be found *almost* at the
end of this issue.


                                           Mark Leeper

           Much of what I make is geometric, and has a kind of
           almost mathematical logic to the form.
                                           --Anish Kapoor