Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
05/12/17 -- Vol. 35, No. 46, Whole Number 1962

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
All material is copyrighted by author unless otherwise noted.
All comments sent or posted will be assumed authorized for
inclusion unless otherwise noted.

To subscribe, send mail to
To unsubscribe, send mail to
The latest issue is at
An index with links to the issues of the MT VOID since 1986 is at

        One-Hour History of Hammer Films (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        Brothers Win XPrize for "Star Trek"-Inspired Tricorder
        Retrospective: FANTASTIC VOYAGE (Part 1) (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY (letter of comment by Philip Chee)
        LATIN@ RISING, Paper, and Fonts (letter of comment
                by Philip Chee)
        This Week's Reading (REEL TERROR) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: One-Hour History of Hammer Films (comments by Mark
R. Leeper)

On July 8, 1997 BBC Radio 2 did an hour-long history of Hammer
Films and their Gothic horror.  While not nearly long enough to
cover the subject, it still has a lot of interesting information I
have not found elsewhere.  It is on YouTube at:


TOPIC: Brothers Win XPrize for "Star Trek"-Inspired Tricorder

"The winner of the long-awaited Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE is
Pennsylvania-based Final Frontier Medical Devices.  Final Frontier
developed a mobile device able to diagnose 13 health conditions
while continuously monitoring five vital signs."

 From IEEE's "Spectrum":


TOPIC: Retrospective: FANTASTIC VOYAGE (Part 1) (comments by Mark
R. Leeper)

Last year marked the nearly unnoticed fiftieth anniversary of one
of the iconic science fiction films, FANTASTIC VOYAGE.  This is the
film in which a team five of people are miniaturized and injected
into the bloodstream of a human body.  This was expected to present
script opportunities for some science and some action.  The science
is rather shaky at its best, but audiences hardly noticed.  The
film has become a classic, though rarely seen these days.

FANTASTIC VOYAGE was made by 20th Century Fox.  It is really a
legacy of 1958's THE FLY, a film released with low studio box-
office expectations but which demonstrated a youth market for
science fiction.  In the interim Fox had made JOURNEY TO THE CENTER
OF THE EARTH and THE LOST WORLD.  Each intended for a summer
audience vacation.  Their big late summer science fiction release

The year the film was released, 1966, was a big time for the spy
story craze, since James Bond thrillers were very popular with the
viewing audiences.  THUNDERBALL had been released the previous
year.  FANTASTIC VOYAGE was told against a mostly gratuitous spy
story background.   Most of the film has aged very nicely.  We see
a slide rule used in one scene.  In another, instrument readout is
typed with a Teletype print cylinder, one letter at a time.  But
for those, most of the rest of the film looks comfortably set
yesterday or ten years from now and works well in past or future.

The story is this.  During the height of the Cold War, Benes, a
scientist behind the Iron Curtain, has developed a means to shrink
anything as small as he wants without killing living matter (e.g.
people) that has been miniaturized.  The shrinking lasts for just
one hour.  Then shrunken things return to their original size.
Actually shrinking has one limitation.  It works for exactly one
hour only.  It is odd that it works for such a round length of
time.  Something like 1.37893 hours might have been less convenient
but more credible, particularly since the length of miniaturization
feels like more than an hour.   This could be a very useful weapon
and the Soviet version even more so since Benes's version does not
require return to original size after so short a time.  The United
States government wants to exploit the new invention and has
organized the Combined Miniature Defense Force (CMDF), a military
unit to wield the new weapon.

As the film begins an intelligence troubleshooter, Grant (played by
Stephen Boyd) had been sent to retrieve Benes from captivity by the
bad guys.  As the film opens Grant and Benes are arriving by plane
back in the United States.  Benes gives Grant a grateful thanks.
Within minutes snipers attack Benes.  As a result Benes has a
stroke and is rendered unconscious by a blood clot in his brain.

The CMDF, who luckily have a base very nearby, quickly puts
together a mission (within an hour or so it appears--really?) of
five people to take a research submarine and all will be
miniaturized and injected into Benes.  Also in the same short time
they have an entire support staff.  They will then cruise up to the
brain where they will use a laser to break up the blood clot.  The
team consists of Grant, the submarine pilot (William Redfield), two
bickering physicians Michaels (Donald Pleasance) and Duval (Arthur
Kennedy), and technician Cora Peterson (Raquel Welch).  For extra
tension is discovered that there is a saboteur on-board the

The film is in part a mystery as Grant tries to figure out who the
saboteur is.  At least it should be a mystery.  The script has
people saying all kinds of nice things about Dr. Michaels, which
would be suspicious enough.  But the actor who plays Michaels is
Donald Pleasance, an actor with all kinds of sinister associations
left over from some of his previous films.  The audience expects
him to be a villain even before they know there is any villainy.
Then again that would make him a good red herring.  Just the same
Donald Pleasance does not look like someone whose name would be

The science seems totally screwball, but I will not list errors.
Isaac Asimov cleaned up most of the problems in his novelization of
the film.  I will not try to compete with the Master by listing
science errors in the film.

Director Richard Fleischer, who twelve years earlier directed
another sci-fi submarine film, Disney's 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE
SEA, uses silent film technique to grab and hold the viewers'
attention.  Fleischer slowly adds elements to the soundtrack.  The
first sequence has plenty of action but no dialog and no music.
Then the title music comes and it is entirely inorganic electronic
tonalities or computer machinery sounds.  Then the story begins but
without organic music.  There will be organic music by Leonard
Rosenman, but it is not on the soundtrack until the Proteus is
injected.  Even then the music is texture music rather than melody.
The shrinking process is also presented no words but jargon like
"elevate the zero module."

So far I have not given away any spoilers.  Now we would be getting
into the meat of the story, but in order to not give too much away
I will include spoilers and some problems in the second part of
this column next week.  [-mrl]


Evelyn C. Leeper)

I recently watched the Hammer films CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and
HORROR OF DRACULA, and had some observations to make/relay:


Mark points out that the framing sequence makes no sense.  Victor
Frankenstein claims he will tell the priest the true story, which
will show him not guilty of the crimes of which he is accused, but
then he admits to multiple murders--hardly a story that will save
him from the guillotine.  (And, yes, the guillotine was used in

If Victor first says his father died ten years ago, and then that
he has been the Baron since he was five, why does Paul Krempe ask
if the fifteen-year-old Victor wants a tutor for his son?!  [Mark
suggests he was just playing with Victor at this point, because
that is how Victor had phrased the letter.]

As is common in films, relative ages of actors bear no connection
to relative ages of characters.  Still, given that Paul ages not at
all, it is disconcerting that Victor goes from fifteen years old to
apparently someone in his thirties or forties, while Paul ages not
at all.  (The actor playing Paul was 36, the actor playing the
young Victor was 22, and the actor playing Victor was 44.)

Why would Justine think a knock on the door would be Victor?
Wouldn't he just walk in?

When the creature reaches up to rip the bandage off his head, it
should not come off the way it does, since it is wrapped around the
head (like a mummy's).

Where does the Creature get his clothes when he escapes?  And why?

Cushing objected to having Frankenstein rape a servant in a later
movie, saying it was out of character for Frankenstein, yet in this
movie Frankenstein shows no compunction for seducing a servant by
(falsely) promising to marry her, and then laughing at her and
insulting her when she tells him she is going to have his child.
[Mark says that Cushing seemed to be making a distinction between
seduction and forcible rape.]


Why does Jonathan Harker go to Dracula's castle?  Is he some sort
of vampire hunter?  [Mark says, yes--he was working with Van
Helsing.  If so, he seems particularly inept/clueless.]

Why does the first vampire woman pretend to be a prisoner instead
of just attacking Harker?  [Mark thinks she needed to get closer.]

Why doesn't Harker stake Dracula first?  And why does Dracula leave
and then immediately return?



R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: This film tells the story of writer/journalist/playwright
Stefan Zweig who was a German writer second only to Hermann Hesse
in the 1920s and 1930s.  The film is a very personal and
introspective look at the man that may require a second or third
viewing to completely understand.  The viewer's task is made more
complicated by subtitles camouflaged by the background.  What is
most lamentably missing is a feel for the great writer's writing
style.  Maria Schrader directs as well as co-writing the
screenplay.  Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

At the end of GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL the writer/director Wes Anderson
placed a credit that the story was "Inspired by the Writings of
Stefan Zweig."  Who is Stefan Zweig?

Zweig was a novelist, a playwright, a political writer, a
journalist, and a biographer.  He was one of the world's best
selling and most known writers in the 1920s and 1930s.  Zweig was a
Jew born in Vienna in 1881.  His personal philosophy included that
Europe could be united into a single country with no borders.  His
love for Europe proved not to be returned during the days of
Fascism coming to power in Germany, Austria, and Italy.  With his
beloved Europe becoming more and more dangerous for intellectuals
and Jews, Zweig left Austria for England, then crossed the Atlantic
spent time in New York literary circles, and eventually resettled
in Brazil.  With the coming of World War II he despaired of his
bright future for Europe ever working out.  In 1942, with his
beloved Europe warring on itself and descending into barbarism, he
ended his life in suicide.

This new biography and exploration of Zweig opens in Rio de Janeiro
in 1936 with Zweig getting a grand royal reception.  An admiring
literary community is giving the reception for Zweig (Josef Hader).
Most of the first half hour of the film we simply hear discussion
by local intellectuals of Zweig's ideas and Zweig presents his own

The film is in six chapters with not much connective tissue to
explain how each set of circumstances came about.  Zweig travels
with his wife, but in the New York chapter he is with another woman
and it is several minutes before the script makes clear what is
going on.  Some time shifts are also difficult to follow.

This is a quality production and well acted, but it is dry and
suffers from impediments that the screenplay put in the viewers'
way.  Zweig was a great man, and his fears for Europe were well-
founded.  But the film does not give a coherent picture of who the
man was and what was he trying to do.

Hader plays Stefan Zweig, but not in any way to engender empathy.
His reactions seem to be wooden with only his eyes shifting.
Viewing the film one is often let watching a piece of scenery for
several minutes and the viewer not shown or told why.

Zweig's primary question is how can people of so many different
colors, religions, and cultures all get along with each other.
Today that question seems even a flat cliche, but in truth we are
no closer to a solution.  The film rates a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale
or 6/10.  The film was released in New York City on May 12.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY (letter of comment by Philip Chee)

In response to Joe Karpierz's review of ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY in
the 05/05/17 issue of the MT VOID, Philip Chee writes:
[Joe wrote,] "Laurence discovers that he has a knack for gadgets;
he invents a device that looks like a wrist watch but is actually a
time machine that moves the wearer two seconds into the future at
the push of a button.  He travels to MIT on his own to witness the
launch of a rocket and meets a bunch of college-age students who
have all invented that same time machine.  His life is never the
same after that.

A nitpick here: neither Laurence nor the MIT students *invented*
the 2-second time machine.  It's clearly stated that the plans for
it are readily available online.  [-pc]


TOPIC: LATIN@ RISING, Paper, and Fonts (letter of comment by Philip

In response to Evelyn's review of LATIN@ RISING in the 05/05/17
issue of the MT VOID, Philip Chee writes:

[Evelyn complained of both the paper and the font: The publisher is
apparently very proud of both of these aspects, announcing on the
last page that the book was printed on "60 pound Anthem Plus Matte
paper, and that the tiles are set in "Aquiline Two, Bickham Script,
and Adobe Caselon type.")]

"Anthem Plus(r) has the flexibility to perform in virtually every
sheetfed printing application, including direct mail, brochures,
catalogs, posters, newsletters, calendars, bill stuffers, flyers
and manuals. It is available with post-consumer recycled fiber,
complies with Lacey Act requirements and is chain-of-custody tri-
certified to the Forest Stewardship Council(r) (FSC(r)), BV-COC-
953662; Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification(tm)
(PEFC(tm)), BV-PEFCCOC-US09000012; and Sustainable Forestry
Initiative(r) (SFI(r)), BV-SFICOC-US09000011."

So yeah this type of shiny coated paper is really meant for product
brochures and catalogues.  Definitely not for novels.

"License for 'Aquiline Two': Manfred Klein License

Manfred's fonts are free for private and charity use. They are even
free for commercial use--but if there's any profit, pls make a
donation to organizations like Doctors Without Borders.

Richard Lipton's Bickham Script is a flowing, formal script
typeface based on the lettering of 18th century writing masters, as
rendered in the unparalleled engravings of George Bickham.  This
ornate script lends a signature flourish to invitations, menus,
annual reports, restaurant logos, and packaging. With dozens of
alternate letterforms in addition to its range of weights, Bickham
Script's personality can range from poised to extravagant."

Anybody know if they really did donate to Medecins Sans Frontieres?

Bickham Script is intended primarily for display settings.

Obviously not for book titles.

[Evelyn wrote,] "Adobe Caselon"

Typo?  Google says Adobe Caslon.  [-pc]

Evelyn responds:

Probably a typo--the book has gone back to the library already.


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

REEL TERROR by David Konow (ISBN 978-0-312-66883-9) is a history of
horror films, but an episodic one.  Konow covers the many trends in
horror films (German Expressionism, Universal horror, Hammer films,
religious horror, the mad slasher film, and so on) by concentrating
primarily on the first film of each cycle, with a lot of detail as
to its origin, productions, and reception, and then will have a few
paragraphs about what followed the trail-blazer.  This makes it
easy to skip the films you are less interested in since each is a
self-contained section.  (For me, these were films such as THE

In many ways, this approach is more satisfying than a quick skim
over the hundreds of horror films that could be covered, as a lot
of books do, or picking only a dozen or so films, and covering only
those.  Konow seems to have found a lot of background on the films,
*BUT* according to multiple reviews this is because he copied a lot
of material from other sources without ever checking it, so errors
that other authors made get repeated here.

And the proofreading is bad (e.g., "wfie" instead of "wife" at one
point, and "Edgar Allen Poe" at least once, though the name is
usually spelled correctly as "Allan").  There are also repetitions,
awkward phrasings, and grammatical errors throughout.  Konow gives

More annoying, Konow makes substantive errors that appear to
reflect his misunderstanding (or lack of knowledge).  He insists
several times that CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON is focused on
pollution and atomic radiation.  It's not.  And he credits the
special effects person for John Carpenter's THE THING with coming
up with the idea of having the creature be completely protean.  No,
that was in John W. Campbell's "Who Goes There?", on which both the
Hawks and Carpenter versions were based.  He says that stop-motion
photography goes back to the 1933 KING KONG.  Well, yes, but it
goes back even further, to THE LOST WORLD (1925) and even before
*that* to "The Dinosaur and the Missing Link" (1915).

REEL TERROR is from St. Martin's, an established, respected
publisher.  But the copy-editing and proofreading are more on the
level one would expect from a self-published work, and a sad
commentary on the state of publishing today.

The irony is that Konow talks about how such zines as CASTLE OF
FRANKENSTEIN and FANGORIA raised the level of writing in the field
to something that was higher than a ten-year-old's (as he described
FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND), yet the sloppiness here keeps it at a
fanboy level.  There's nothing wrong with fanboy writing, and I
enjoyed the book, but I was disappointed to discover that I needed
to take everything in it with a grain of salt.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his
                                          --Oscar Wilde