Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
04/21/17 -- Vol. 35, No. 43, Whole Number 1959

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Shades of Gray (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        Geography and Martians (comments by Mark R. Leeper)        
        New NASA Discovery at Enceladus (comments 
                by Gregory Frederick)
        THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE by Lois McMaster Bujold (audiobook 
                review by Joe Karpierz)
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        THE DAWN OF INNOVATION by Charles R. Morris (book review 
                by Gregory Frederick)
        ANDROMEDA NEBULA (Correction) and HIDDEN FIGURES (letter 
                of comment by John Hertz)
        Tripod Ambulation and Other Topics in THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 
                (letter of comment by George Phillies)
        Grammar (letter of comment by Keith F. Lynch)
        Confusing Mathematics
        This Week's Reading (THE TRUE BELIEVER, EL LIBRO DE LOS 
                SALMOS and "Overrated! Top 10 Books You Don't Need to 
                Read") (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Shades of Gray (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

"There's right and there's wrong.  You got to do one or the other. 
You do the one and you're livin'.  You do the other and you may be 
walkin' around, but you're dead as a beaver hat."  That is Davy 
Crockett as played by John Wayne in THE ALAMO.  That is where he 
gave his life for the Republic of Texas so the Republic would be 
free to allow slavery.  He also was saving fellow Texans' lives.  
Now, was Crockett doing right or wrong?  Did he pass theBeaver Hat 
test?  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Geography and Martians (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

Last week I wrote about Stephen Baxter's new sequel to THE WAR OF 
considering some issues related to adaptations of THE WAR OF THE 
WORLDS.  I think you never find out in the novel (or in the Welles 
radio play for that matter) what is the scope of the invasion.  
Wells used nice comfy and (for him) familiar South England towns in 
the novel.  But I am fairly sure he never mentioned any place 
outside of England (well, any place nearer than Mars).

But I think in this alternate universe, as far as Wells tells us, 
the Martians attacked only southern England.  Wells never told the 
reader what was happening outside of that small area where Wells' 
home was located.  At least the George Pal and Steven Spielberg 
versions give us some news from abroad that suggests that the same 
thing is happening elsewhere.  But the novel THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 
leaves to the readers' imagination the question of just where the 
fighting is going on a little further from home.

Now, on one hand it is quite possible that Wells intended that the 
Martians were trying to conquer only England.  He was actually 
modeling the invasion on incidents in which European countries 
pulled their gunboats up to some ill-fated island and conquered it 
with the power of guns against a culture at the bow and arrow level 
of technological warfare.  A European power might conquer just one 
island or multiple islands only one island at a time.  It is 
possible that the Martians wanted to capture the world, one country 
at a time.

It is, however, hard to imagine an alien race coming to Earth and 
then attacking only a postage stamp area of England while countries 
like France and Germany look on but are not attacked, and then they 
would remain isolationist and wait and see if England or the 
Martians win.  That might make an interesting story but it seems 

Actually it might be of interest to see what would be the reaction 
of the other European powers, particularly those that have had 
conflicts with England in the past.  Would they band together, 
figuring if the Martians were attacking England they would attack 
other countries soon after?  The decision would be that they stood 
their best shot against the Martians having all Europe and perhaps 
the US uniting as a single power against the invading force.

But maybe a country like Germany would try to initiate a non-
aggression pact with the Martians, a separate peace (no offense 
intended, Germany). And in all this there is the big unknown of 
what really are the global strategies of the Martians.  They looked 
at Earth "with envious eyes." Wells tells us that much.  They 
probably wanted the whole enchilada.  It seems unlikely that the 
Martians would be happy to defeat just England after coming 
millions of miles.  World invasion could never be very far from 
their plans.  On the other hand it would be difficult to attack a 
whole planet and have every square (tentacle)-foot of its surface 
be behind enemy lines.  That is probably why in science fiction 
invasions there is so frequently a mother ship that can act as a 
sort of refuge.

But it just strikes me that that his a very big loose end that 
Wells leaves the reader.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: New NASA Discovery at Enceladus (comments by Gregory 

Gregory Frederick writes:

"There Are Hydrothermal Vents on Saturn's Moon Enceladus That Could 
Support Life"

The Cassini spacecraft has detected hydrogen gas in the plumes of 
water shooting out of cracks on the ice covered surface of 
Enceladus (moon of Saturn).  NASA believes this hydrogen is coming 
from deep ocean smoking vents at the bottom of Enceladus' world 
ocean.  These vents could be like the Earth's deep ocean vents that 
are covered with lifeforms which use the chemicals from the vents 
as food. So, this raises the chances for life on Enceladus.




TOPIC: THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE by Lois McMaster Bujold (copyright 
1986 Baen, 2006 Blackstone Audio, 11 hours 16 minutes, ISBN-10: 
0-671-65587-6, ASIN: B000ES16RO, narrated by Grover Gardner)  
(excerpt from the Duel Fish Codices: an audiobook review by Joe 

THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE, published in the same year as and right 
after SHARDS OF HONOR, introduces an unsuspecting science fiction 
reading community to Miles Vorkosigan, the son of Betan Cordelia 
Naismith and her husband Barryaran Aral Vorkosigan.  Miles is 
arguably one of the most beloved characters in the history of 
science fiction, and we find out right away why this is the case.  
For the half a dozen or so of you who don't know, Miles mother was 
the target of a gas attack while she was pregnant with him.  He was 
born small of stature with brittle bones.  What he lacked in 
physical presence he more than made up for with charisma, charm, 
and outrageousness.

We meet Miles as he is attempting to pass the physical tests 
necessary to be accepted into officer's training.  Aside from his 
physical limitations, he has a lot of self-imposed stress by 
feeling he has to live up to his father's standards.  As a result, 
Miles relies on wit and bravado more than most normal people would.  
Miles fails his test, of course, setting up an adventure that 
introduces the reader to the Miles we've come to love. He heads off 
to Beta Colony to visit his grandmother.  Tagging along on the trip 
are his personal bodyguard Bothari and Bothari's daughter Elena.  
Miles, of course, is smitten with Elena.  Bothari is an old 
fashioned man, wanting nothing but the best for his daughter (who 
is his daughter as a result of somewhat distasteful and shady 
circumstances, so he feels extra protective of her) and feeling 
that after all is said and done, there probably really is no one 
good enough for her.

Like Miles himself, THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE is something of a 
maniacal, twisting, turning, complicated, and hilarious story that 
while not particularly difficult to follow but is somewhat hard to 
explain and summarize. Miles ends up the owner of a broken down and 
obsolete freighter.  Along the way he acquires a pilot for said 
freighter, a crew, and cargo destined for a war zone.  In order to 
make all this work, Miles makes up (on the fly, mind you) the 
Dendarii Mercenary Fleet.  There really is no such thing of course, 
but the fleet grows until there really is one.  All along the way, 
Miles employs what he calls "forward momentum", but what is 
actually a young man solving problems on the fly that are coming up 
in front of him in a sort of controlled chaos.  One thing leads to 
another, and another, and another, and yet another, and the reader 
may or may not how we got to the point we were--and I'm not sure 
Miles does either--and the mission is successful, but not without 
heavy costs.

This is pretty much the way it is with all the Miles stories.  
Miles starts at position A, and at the end of the story he does get 
to position B, but the route he takes to get there is circuitous as 
best, convoluted at worst, and everyone around him is either 
dumbfounded at how it all worked out or they simply marvel at his 
style, guts, and panache.  To top it all off, the situations that 
Miles gets himself into and out of are both humorous and  hair-
raising.  I'm not sure, once all is said and done, whether the 
reader is laughing with him or at him.  But there is laughter, oh 
yes there is.  Lots of it.

In the annals of Miles, the story told in THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE 
is one of the most well-known, as the subject of the Dendarii 
Mercenary Fleet comes up time and again in later books, and it's 
this story that molds his character for the fun we have with his 
later adventures.

And therein, I think, is the difference between the early Miles 
books and the later books in the Vorkosigan Saga, most notably 
the fun has gone out of the series.  We all read genre fiction for 
different reasons, but even within our own reading we have 
different tastes for different times.  We read fun books, somber 
books, literary tales, cautionary tales and a whole lot more. We 
expect certain types of stories from different authors, and when we 
want a particular type of story we as readers head to certain 
authors.  I suppose it's unfair to pigeonhole authors into a 
particular category; some writers thrive on writing different types 
of stories depending on what they're trying to accomplish.  However 
(and this is my justification for the point whether it's valid or 
not), if a series or universe has a particular tone and feel, the 
reader expects every book in a particular series or universe to 
have that tone and feel.  If that expectation is not met, the 
reader is generally disappointed with the book.  I believe that is 
what happened with the later Vorkosigan books; they just aren't 


Grover Gardner is like an old friend.  His narration of this novel 
is comfortable and familiar.  He hits all the right notes, and 
makes us laugh, cry, and suffer other emotions right along with the 
characters in the novel.  As I've said previously, he never 
intrudes into nor takes the listener out of the story, and that's 
the way it should be.

Enough Vorkosigan for awhile, I think.  Time to move on to other 
stories.  The Hugos are calling.  [-jak] 


Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: This is the story of the lives of a Hollywood couple, 
Lillian and Harold Michelson, who were the barely-sung heroes of 
the Hollywood film industry for six decades.  Harold had an 
instinct for how films should look and created pitch-perfect 
storyboards, often transforming the director's whole vision of the 
film being shot.  Lillian had a huge and well-collected research 
library to find authentic visions from around the world, from all 
of history, and into the future.  The story of their private lives 
is a love story of a perfect marriage.  Their visual style and 
knowledge shaped the look and feel of surprisingly many classic 
films.  This film was written, produced, and directed by Daniel 
Raim.  Rating: low +3 (-4 to +4) or 8/10

Though they only rarely got any screen credit, Harold and Lillian 
Michelson upgraded the quality of American filmmaking.  Their 
instincts for how to speak visually created many of the most iconic 
images in film.  Harold designed image compositions such as Dustin 
Hoffman framed by Anne Bancroft's leg in THE GRADUATE or the visual 
compositing of the birds on the jungle gym behind Tippi Hedren in 
THE BIRDS, both of which were originally suggested by Harold.  
People believe that Alfred Hitchcock did his own storyboarding, but 
apparently Hitchcock would describe a scene and Harold would think 
out the action and the camera angles and would turn his mental 
images into sequences of storyboards.  Hitchcock contributed the 
idea, but Harold would very quickly turn it into a sequence of 
images as full-sized storyboards.  Harold went from being a 
storyboard artist to being a production designer and art director, 
creating the look and atmosphere of a film.  Harold's natural 
instinct for how to show a scene transformed innumerable films.

Lillian's specialty was research and collecting reference books.  
She built this into a very large library of reference books that 
remains to this day a major Hollywood filmmaking asset.  If a 
filmmaker needed to know what Egyptian battle chariots looked like 
for THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, she could put her hands on a book that 
would describe it.  For FIDDLER ON THE ROOF director Norman Jewison 
needed to stage the song "Matchmaker".  For it Jewison needed to 
know what young Jewish women wore for underwear in a Russian 
shtetl.  Lillian actually found someone who had lived in the 
shtetl.  She once interviewed a Bolivian drug lord.  He was so 
anxious to talk to her he wanted to send his private jet from 
Bolivia to pick her up and travel to Bolivia to interview him.  
Lillian always seemed to have the needed information at her 
fingertips.  Or if she did not, she knew where to find it. She gave 
films nuance and texture and an authentic period feel.

The story of the Michelsons' long career together is told in 
interviews with the two, as well as with Danny DeVito, Francis Ford 
Coppola, and Mel Brooks.  The story is profusely illustrated in 
storyboard art in Harold's style.  They tell the story of the 
Michelson's marriage and their career.  Harold's attitude is 100% 
of the time that his wife is beautiful, brilliant, and just 
wonderful.  With the exception of Harold's one-time drinking 
problem Lillian's attitude is just about the same towards him.

some amazing, some amusing.  It will appeal to film historians and 
film buffs.  It is also a romance in its way.  And Harold and 
Lillian have the talent for being instantly likeable, and so does 
the film about them.  I rate it a low +3 on the -4 to +4 scale or 
York April 28 and in Los Angeles May 12.

These are some of the dozens of films that benefited from the 
Michelson Touch provided by one or both of the Michelsons and were 
mentioned in the film.  This is really only scratching the surface:


Film Credits:

What others are saying:




TOPIC: THE DAWN OF INNOVATION by Charles R. Morris (book review by 
Gregory Frederick)

This history book covers the changing era of America during the 
1800s when this country went from a rural economy with little 
internal transportation to become a growing industrial powerhouse.  
This story encompasses many people who contributed inventions, 
ideas and financial backing to make this change happen.  Oliver 
Evans and his better steam engine design is one such person.  Evans 
high-pressure steam engines were cheaper and easier to build then a 
Watts and Boulton low-pressure steam engine from England.  Evans 
high-pressure engine weighed 1000 pounds and had a nine-inch 
diameter, 40-inch-long piston.  A Watts and Bouton engine weighed 4 
times as much and had a 20-inch diameter, 5-foot-long piston.  Only 
a few machine shops in America could make a huge Watt and Boulton 
piston by 1820.  The Evans steam engines were more powerful, 
weighed less and were simpler to build then the Watt and Bouton 
steam engine.  Evans engines would be used in many situations from 
providing power at small sawmills in a forest setting to powering 
river steam boats which needed a quick burst of power to overcome 
swift currents.  Samuel Colt's gun making business eventual made 
guns with essentially interchangeable parts.  That is, most of the 
parts could be interchangeable with minimal filing and cleanup.  
This concept of interchangeability of parts would become the 
foundation for all mass production manufacturing in the USA 
including automobiles and appliances.  Matthias Baldwin was a 
jeweler who was a talented mechanic.  He built a stationary steam 
engine to power his shop in 1824.  It was very efficient and soon 
other shop owners wanted to buy his engines.  Later the 
Philadelphia Germantown Railroad contracted him to build a steam 
engine for a railroad.  Baldwin incorporated better designs into 
his railroad locomotive engines immediately.  He used a 4-wheel 
swiveling truck at the front of the train engine to better follow 
the curve of the tracks.  He used a more robust and bigger 3-axle 
engine design and added a power train to the 4-wheel truck.  
Locomotives became bigger and faster in a few decades and the miles 
of track laid in the USA quickly outpaced that effort in the United 
Kingdom.  By 1860 America had 3 times the miles of track laid 
compared to the UK.  This fun to read book helps one to better 
understand how America became an economic superpower.  [-gf]


comment by John Hertz)

John Hertz writes:

Thanks for printing my 24 Feb letter in [the MT VOID issue] 1954 
(vol. 35, no. 38; 17 Mar 17).

You omitted part of a citation, which may confuse readers.  I wrote

About s-f written in the U.S.S.R., you may have seen (e.g. 
 29 Oct 16) that one of the Classics of S-F book 
discussions I led at Loscon XLIII was on Yefremov's ANDROMEDA 
NEBULA (1957; Hanna tr. 1959 as ANDROMEDA).  My "trailer" was:

    Poetic, lyrical.  Sold 20 million copies.  Changed Soviet 
    science fiction.  A thousand years in the future when Earth 
    is a Communist paradise, starships at 5/6 the speed of 
    light meet alien challenges and we struggle against Time.

but you gave the first parenthesis only as "(e.g. 29 Oct 16)".

Aiee.  [-jh]

Evelyn responds:

Mea culpa.  However, the error was only in the web and printed 
versions; the plain text sent to the mailing was fine, but I made a 
mistake in converting it to HTML.  [-ecl]

John continues:

Speaking if , you may've seen my note there (3 Mar 17; 
reprinted from VANAMONDE 1237) on the HIDDEN FIGURES book.  I'd 
love to feel no cause for suspecting the book didn't reach the Hugo 
ballot, while the film did, because hardly anyone took the trouble 
to read the book.  I still haven't seen the film, but Bridget 
Landry, who should know (at cons she sometimes wears a badge "In 
fact, I *am* a rocket scientist"), says it's spectacular.  [-jh]

Well, I did review the book back in the 12/30/16 issue of the MT 
VOID.  I will admit that I read the book after the film, but while 
I found it more accurate, I also found it less engaging.  There was 
a lot of history of both the social structures of Virginia's Prince 
Edward County and the aeronautics and space programs, and while 
interesting and undoubtedly pertinent, it is not directly connected 
to the women, and often their story comes to an abrupt stop while 
Shetterly gives us an info-dump about (e.g.) housing around the 
facility.  The result is a rather disjointed narrative.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Tripod Ambulation and Other Topics in THE WAR OF THE WORLDS 
(letter of comment by George Phillies)

In response to Mark's comments on tripod ambulation and other 
topics in the 04/14/17 issue of the MT VOID, George Phillies 

How do tripods walk?

Less so than once upon a time, but many people have seen dogs, 
cats, or foxes that have lost the use of one of their front legs, 
to amputation or breakage and bending.  These animals are able to 
walk and run; I have seen it myself several times.

The Serviss novel was a full-length novel published in hardback by 
a Pittsburgh SF group; I have read a copy.  An abridgement appeared 
in the English Perry Rhodan novel translations.

In addition, note the Boston Post edition of Wells' WAR OF THE 
WORLDS, as condemned by Wells.  There have been some minor 
editorial changes, notably all the pointless philosophy was cut 
out, and more healthy American mega-violence was inserted.  Also, 
the Martians land in Massachusetts and march on Boston, including 
two engagements with American warships.  The Maine gets sunk.

For a current series, note Washburn, in which the Martians make a 
second set of landings all around the world.  (The ones who landed 
in Antarctica do especially poorly.)  They are up against Teddy 

There is a critical edition, including several segments that Wells 
took out, notably the English Republic sending men armed with 
satchel charges against the war machines.  [-gp]

Mark responds:

I guess 186 short pages still might make a novel, though much of 
those pages is illustratons.  The story, complete with 
illustrations can be found at


TOPIC: Grammar (letter of comment by Keith F. Lynch)

In response to Mark's comments on grammar in the 04/14/17 issue of 
the MT VOID, Keith Lynch writes:

[Mark writes, "] I have to disagree with Keith Lynch (rarely a 
smart thing to do),"  -mrl

Thank you.  [-kfl]

Mark writes:

    ... when he says, "Not an ad, but the parody of the East German 
    national anthem has stuck in my head.  "Do not think that I'm a 
    Nazi, actually we're Communists..." because of the mid-sentence 
    change of voice from singular to plural."

    Suppose you have four Communists in a room and one gets called 
    a Nazi.  Would it be a grammatical error to point out that the 
    four people in the room are all Communists?  He would not be 
    going from talking for one person to talking as four people.  
    Certainly one person can report that all the people in his room 
    are Communists.  [-mrl]

Keith responds:

It's a (parody) anthem.  As such, the singer is speaking for the 
whole nation (or pretending to).

It can be heard here:

There are 38 other parody national anthems by the same group.  It's
well worth listening to them all.  [-kfl]


TOPIC: Confusing Mathematics

In response to various comments on confusing mathematics in the 
04/14/17 issue of the MT VOID, more can be found following the MT 
VOID on Usenet at:


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

THE TRUE BELIEVER by Eric Hoffer (ISBN 978-0-060-50591-2) looks at 
mass political movements.  (Hoffer professionally was a 
longshoreman, but he also was a political philosopher.)  The book 
is valuable reading now, although one suspects that could be said 
at any time.  Hoffer disagrees somewhat that it could be said at 
any time, and he explains why some periods are more conducive to 
mass movements than others, e.g., why the Protestant Reformation 
succeeded, but there was no successful mass uprising against the 
more corrupt Catholic Church of the tenth century or so.

Hoffer covers the topic in a very structured manner.  His four main 
sections are "The Appeal of Mass Movements", "The Potential 
Converts", "United Action and Self-Sacrifice", and "Beginning and 
End".  These in turn have subsections so, for example, "Unifying 
Agents" in the third section includes hatred, imitation, persuasion 
and coercion, leadership, action, suspicion, and the effects of 

Much of what Hoffer says seems self-evident or obvious, but Hoffer 
may have been the first to cover it in an organized fashion for a 
wide audience.  (THE TRUE BELIEVER was first published in 1951.)  
Clearly, he had a lot of then-recent movements to use as examples: 
various Chinese revolutionary movements, Japanese militarism, Nazism, 
Communism, not to mention older examples such as Christianity, 
Islam, and the Protestant Reformation.

This has become a classic and makes a good companion book to IT 
CAN'T HAPPEN HERE, on which I commented last week.

Benzaquen (ISBN 980-265-781-6) is Benzaquen annotations on the 
Psalms, along with excerpts from other rabbis through the ages.  
I'm a sucker for annotated books, so in spite of the fact that this 
is mostly in Spanish, although with many (transliterated) Hebrew 
phrases thrown in, I decided to give it a try.

One thing to keep in mind while reading it is that Benzaquen seems 
to have a very traditional approach.  (I'm not sure if "orthodox" 
or "fundamentalist" are quite the words I am looking for, but they 
are close.)  So, for example, he describes Psalm VI as a prayer for 
recovery from illness, and then says, "If one wants to pray for 
recovery from an illness, that is an opportunity to recite this 
psalm, preferably in it original version.  One can use a phonetic 
transcription [transliteration] if one does not know the Hebrew 
idiom [language/alphabet]."  (He does not actually provide such a 
transliteration.]  Saying that "reciting" this psalm in the 
original language, even if one cannot understand it, is more 
efficacious than reading it in translation into one's own language, 
seems to make it into a mere magic spell of specific syllables 
rather than a heartfelt wish for health.

Jacke Wilson (of "The History of Literature" podcast) recently did 
a podcast with Mike Palindrome titled "Overrated! Top 10 Books You 
Don't Need to Read" (#83).  In the interest of saving people time 
(which was one of his stated goals), here's the list:
- DON QUIJOTE by Miguel de Cervantes
- Shakespeare's comedies (watch them, or if you must read one, 
- FINNEGANS WAKE by James Joyce
- "great male narcissists" (John Updike, Norman Mailer, 
  Philip Roth, Jonathan Frantzen, David Foster Wallace) (read 
  Saul Bellow instead)
- THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach
- "a rolling wall" (i.e., anything published in the last 
  three years, or for poetry, five years)
- THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA by Ernest Hemingway (read A MOVABLE 
  FEAST instead)
- any experimental or metafiction more than ten years old
- ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac (read INTO THE WILD instead)
- NAKED LUNCH by William Burroughs
- any books beyond the saturation limit for prolific authors, 
  which was defined for various authors: Charles Dickens (5), 
  Saul Bellow (3), Toni Morrison (3), William Faulkner (1.5)

Yes, there are more than ten books.  Kerouac and Burroughs were 
listed as one entry, and several entries are really categories.  
This merely supports C. P. Snow's notion of "two cultures"--the 
sciences and the humanities.  As long as people discussing 
literature, or film, or other "artistic" categories persist in 
putting fifteen items on a "Ten Best" list, people with backgrounds 
in mathematics will believe that the artists are not worth 
listening to.  (The one allowable exception is when the "Ten Best" 
list is voted on and there is a tie for tenth place.  You are *not* 
allowed to take a tie for, say, eighth place, label them both #8, 
and then list a #9 and a #10.)  [-ecl]


                                          Mark Leeper

          God cannot alter the past, though historians can.
                                          --Samuel Butler