Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
05/26/17 -- Vol. 35, No. 48, Whole Number 1964

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
                Lectures, etc. (NJ)
        Nebula Awards
        GHOSTS (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        My Picks for Turner Classic Movies for June (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        THE ASYLUM OF DR. CALIGARI by James Morrow (book review
                by Joe Karpierz)
                IMAGINED by Ron Miller (book review
                by Gregory Frederick)
        THE WOMEN'S BALCONY (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        Spot the Space Station (letters of comment by
                David Goldfarb, Jerry Ryan, John Purcell, and Pete T)
        Issue Numbers, Hugo Finalists, Turner Classic Movies,
                and Rain and Dogs (letter of comment by John Purcell)
        This Week's Reading (SIMULACRON-3) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


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

Note that this has been revised since the last schedule!

June 8: WALL-E (2008) & "The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster,,
        Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
July 13: LIMITLESS (2011) & "Limitless" ("The Dark Fields")
        by Alan Glynn, ,
        Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
July 27: THE MAN WHO FOLDED HIMSELF by David Gerrold, Old Bridge
        (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
August 10: THE MARTIAN (2015) & THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir,
        Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
September 14: QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1967) & "Aficionado"
        by David Brin,,
        Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
September 28: THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY by Genevieve Cogman, Old Bridge
        (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
October 12: SOLARIS (1972) & SOLARIS by Stanislaw Lem,
        Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
November 9: CAT PEOPLE (1942) & "The Bagheeta" by Val Lewton
        (available in Marvin Kaye's WEIRD TALES and Peter Haining's
        VAMPIRE OMNIBUS), Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
November 16: THE FOREVER WAR by Joe Haldeman, Old Bridge (NJ)
        Public Library, 7PM
January 25, 2018: OLD MAN'S WAR by John Scalzi, Old Bridge (NJ)
        Public Library, 7PM

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:


TOPIC: Nebula Awards

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America have announced
the winners of the 2016 Nebula Awards:

     ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
     EVERY HEART A DOORWAY, Seanan McGuire ( Publishing)
     "The Long Fall Up", William Ledbetter (F&SF 5-6/16)
Short Story
     "Seasons of Glass and Iron", Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
Bradbury Award for Screenplay
Norton Award for YA Fiction
     ARABELLA OF MARS, David D. Levine (Tor)

The Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award was given to two recipients: Toni
Weisskopf and Peggy Rae Sapienza.


TOPIC: GHOSTS (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

With all this making of plays into musicals, I am waiting for
"Ghosts--The Musical, based on the Henrik Ibsen drama and using pop
songs as the music.  The finale will be "Here Comes the Sun".


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

Once again I am picking the films I find most worth seeing for
those people who have never heard of the films or who have just
never gotten around to seeing them.  The readers can take these as
recommendations.  I have been doing this for about five years now.
It is hard to believe that I have been doing it for more years than
I was in high school.  That seems a lot longer.

At the risk of becoming repetitive I have no connection to the
Turner organization.  I just pick TCM because it is the richest
source of classic movies available to me.  Turner basically runs a
never-ending film festival on cable.  All times reported are for
the East Coast time zone.  The reader can adjust them to the local
time zone.

When my wife and I first went to see HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971) we saw
the first minute or so and Evelyn suggested we walk out on the
film.  We reluctantly she stayed through the film and by the time
the film was over Evelyn was ready to recommend the film to other
people (and she certainly did).  HAROLD AND MAUDE was a major
counter culture protest film of the 1970s but seems to have dropped
from sight since.  It has been eight years since TCM has shown the
film, but it will be shown in June.  Harold (played by Bud Cort)
lives in a palatial house with his mother.  Perhaps "under the
thumb of his mother" would be a more accurate description. She
completely dominates him and his only form of protest is to fake
garish and funny suicides and to invite himself to the funerals of
strangers.  There he meets Maude (Ruth Gordon) who also goes to
strangers' funerals.  Maude is in every way Harold's opposite, a
woman who knows how to size and glorify in life.  Harold bottles up
his feelings; Maud lets them all out.  Though she is old enough to
be Harold's grandmother Harold falls in love with her.  Maude
teaches Harold what life is really all about.  [Wednesday June 21,
8:00 PM]

On the basic framework of Alfred Hitchcock's 1935 classic THE 39
STEPS Hitchcock built another comedy thriller, NORTH BY NORTHWEST
(1959).  But this time he gives free reign to his sense of humor on
top of the suspense.  Cary Grant is an advertising exec who, in one
instant's confusion, is mistaken for an American intelligence
operative.  He finds himself framed for murder and becomes the
target of spies.  He also contends with a beautiful agent played by
Eva Marie Saint.  And Saint was never sexier.  Hitchcock throws in
slapstick comedy and lots of subtle sexual humor.  Hek also gives
reign to his signature touch of using giant landmarks to stage his
tension.  The villain is a sinister James Mason with his enforcer
played by Martin Landau in only Landau's second film role.  There
is humor throughout to the very last frame of the film.  And it
never gets in the way of the thrills.  [Thursday, June 15, 5:30 PM]

Donald Hamilton is best known for authoring the Matt Helm spy
novels (which are actually fairly good and not at all like the
films made from them). Hamilton also wrote the western novel THE
BIG COUNTRY, which was adapted to the screen in 1958. William Wyler
directed THE BIG COUNTRY, and it was one of the great westerns.  I
love a big sprawling Technicolor Western and the biggest and
sprawling-est is THE BIG COUNTRY.  Gregory Peck is a sea captain
engaged to the daughter of a cattle baron.  He comes west to meet
his prospective father-in-law and to get married.  As a man who
tries to avoid fighting he is immediately marked as a coward by the
local cow hands in a place where ones status is measured by how
well he can fight.  At the same time he becomes the keystone in a
range war between two patriarchs: one played well by Charles
Bickford and the other terrifically by Burl Ives who won a much-
deserved Oscar for his performance.  Also featured are Charleton
Heston and Jean Simmons.  Heston nearly turned down the role as
Bickford's foreman.  He said he would not play such a secondary
role.  His agent told him he was crazy to turn down a chance to
work with William Wyler.  Heston swallowed his pride and
reluctantly took the foreman role.  But he came out again.  Wyler's
next film was BEN-HUR and he had Heston starring in the title role.
[Wednesday June 28, 8:00 PM]

There is no obvious choice for best film of the month, but you
cannot go wrong with Billy Wilder's WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION
(1957), adapted from a story by Agatha Cristie.  [Wednesday June
14, 2:00 AM]  [-mrl]


TOPIC: THE ASYLUM OF DR. CALIGARI by James Morrow (copyright 2017,
Tachyon, $14.95, paperback, 192pp, ISBN 1616962658, ISBN13:
9781616962654) (excerpt from the Duel Fish Codices: a book review
by Joe Karpierz)

With as much as I enjoyed James Morrow's THE MADONNA AND THE
STARSHIP, I looked forward to his latest story, THE ASYLUM OF
DR. CALIGARI.  The novel is a side-quel/sequel to the 1920 German
silent film THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI.  Actually it may not be
either a side-quel or a sequel; however we wish to categorize it,
Morrow takes the concept of the existence of a Dr. Caligari and an
asylum and puts a fantastical twist into the story.

The year is 1915.  Francis Wyndham, an American painter, finds
himself traveling to Europe to take a position as an "art
therapist" at the famous Traumenchen Asylum, run by Dr. Alessandro
Caligari.  The asylum is located in the principality of
Weizenstaat--which apparently is situated between "the German
Empire and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg".  It was also annexed by
Luxembourg after World War I in case you're interested (either I
missed the connection, or that bit of information doesn't have
anything to do with the story other than being a bit of trivia that
Morrow throws into the mix just in case some readers decide to go
looking for the place and can't find it).  The asylum's fame and
success was such that "the people of Weizenstaat took to joking
that their country's principal import was irrationality and its
principal export rehabilitated lunatics"--a line I consider one of
the best in the book.

Dr. Caligari is rumored to be a sorcerer, and that there is more to
him and his asylum than meets the eye.  The fact that he is indeed
a sorcerer of sorts is the root fantastical element that Morrow
injects into the Caligari mythos.  And while Caligari does manage
to heal mentally ill patients, his main project--and dark secret--
is the enchanted painting that he himself is working on in the
bowels of the asylum.  The painting fills men who view it with
something called "Kriegslust", a sort of fanatical desire to go to
war for his country without regard to personal safety--or anything
else for that matter.  The painting is discovered by Wyndham who,
with the aid of one of his art therapy students, Spider Queen Ilona
Wessels (who quickly becomes his lover with a bit of unnecessary
encouragement by Caligari himself), attempt to counter the affect
of the piece of art with a work of their own.  The point of
Caligari's painting, of course, is to allow him to make huge sums
of money selling its effects to countries that are about to enter
the war.

Morrow fills the book with a good number of scenes that must have
been as fun to write as they were to read: Wyndham and his cohorts
watching soldiers of various countries being marched in front of
the painting and coming out ready to march to their death for their
countries; a similar scene with Wyndham's and Wessel's painting,
except with the opposite results; and in a bit of storytelling
reminiscent of the scene of Dick Van Dyke's character in Mary
Poppins jumping into a painting to do a song and dance, Wyndham and
Wessels jump into their painting--with characters there recognizing
who Ilona is--to try to stop Caligari's effort.

The key word in that paragraph is storytelling.  Morrow spins a
great yarn in this novella.  The writing is excellent, the
characters come to life on the page and make us care about them,
and there is enough magic, psychology, art and romance to keep most
readers engaged and interested.  Indeed, Morrow injects a good
variety of things to think about, and yet the novella doesn't feel
forced when it finally comes to an end--and make no mistake, there
is a definite ending here.  The ending itself is a bit melancholy;
it's almost as if Morrow is showing us that as with any fictional
character, those who live in magical paintings can come to an end
too.  The ending didn't leave me wanting for more, but it was a
satisfying conclusion to the story and the characters therein.

We're not looking at a great piece of literature here that will be
remembered for decades to come, I think.  But what we are talking
about is a fun and whimsical story that will keep the reader
eagerly turning the pages and being very happy with what they've
read.  A lot of times, that's all readers really need anyway.


IMAGINED by Ron Miller (book review by Gregory Frederick)

This book is a large-format illustrated coffee table book covering
the history of fictional spacecraft from Jules Verne and H. G.
Wells to actual spacecraft, including the huge SLS rocket which
NASA is building today.  Since this book is a big hardcover with
great pictures and drawings you will see the design of the Russian,
Vostok spacecraft which the put the first man, Yuri Gagarin, into
space.  Also the designs of the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo capsules
and the space shuttle are shown in large-format color images.
Though Robert Goddard was an American rocket scientist invented the
first liquid fueled rocket in the early 1900's, he was not
instrumental in getting the USA rocket program moving forward.
Goddard was too secretive and withheld his knowledge from others.
The USA space program got to the Moon due to a team lead by Werner
von Braun, a German rocket scientist, who with other German rocket
scientists came to the USA after WWII.  The Russian Moon rocket
called the N-1 never even got into orbit; it blew up just after
launch on every unmanned attempt and was stopped after the Apollo
program put the first man on the Moon.  In this book, you can see
interesting pictures comparing the various rocket designs through
the years.  This book is a fun read with valuable illustrations and
is very informative.  [-gf]


TOPIC: THE WOMEN'S BALCONY (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: A new comedy-drama from Israel is set in the ultra-
Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem, and it pits the
patriarchal, male-dominated traditions against rising female
empowerment.  The Rabbi very much represents the old traditional
flavor of Judaism but a new Rabbi in town represents change to the
community for better or for worse.  Perhaps.  Emil Ben-Shimon
directs a screenplay by Shlomit Nehanna.  Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or

Among Orthodox Jews the synagogue is properly segregated.  Men pray
on the main floor, but they are separated from women who have their
own women-only seating area.  In THE WOMEN'S BALCONY the women
have, well, a women's balcony.  This arrangement is how it has been
done for many, many years.  The women's balcony is more than just a
place to sit for the women of the congregation.  It is a place
where women can be with women and where they can feel comfortable
and socialize.  The balcony is a symbol of their identity.

In a small Jerusalem community during a rambunctious bar mitzvah
the balcony partially collapses, putting the rabbi's wife in a coma
and ruining the synagogue's only Torah.  Repairing the damage will
be an expensive task requiring re-building and permits.  The men
arranging the reconstruction are short on money and to save money
they decide to rebuild the synagogue without the expensive balcony,
leaving no place for the women to sit during religious services.
The women are told they can pray in the outer lobby.  The
controversy threatens to take from them something more than just a
place to sit during religious services.

The males of the congregation have gotten lazy.  What the rabbi
says they automatically accept with an "Amen."  They will continue
with a tradition without having to think about whether it makes
sense or not.  The women of the congregation, who have always been
treated as second class, want to renegotiate the contract.  They do
not delegate their conscience to a man or a book.

The old rabbi feels loyalty only to a long tradition and to boot he
has been little unstrung by missing his still-hospitalized wife. He
sees nothing wrong a synagogue without a place for women.  If it is
a choice of not replacing the Torah or not having a section for
women to sit, the synagogue must have the Torah.  The male members
of the congregation will not stand up to the rabbi.  But the women
have their own ideas of how the dilemma should be resolved.

The film is in Hebrew with subtitles of varying quality.  Some
viewers not familiar with Orthodox beliefs and who do not know
Hebrew may have some problems with subtitles that are obscured by
background.  In one sequence at a political demonstration there are
protest banners in Hebrew and there are no subtitles to tell the
reader what is being said.  Non-Orthodox viewers may find it
puzzling that the controversy is not settled by allowing integrated
seating.  It may or may not be clear to the humanist viewer that
this is a very strict Orthodox community so integrated seating is
not an option.

THE WOMEN'S BALCONY is a film that sets up a controversy and then
would benefit from presenting both sides of the argument
evenhandedly.  I think that the right side wins, but not all
viewers might agree.  I rate THE WOMAN'S BALCONY at +1 on the -4 to
+4 scale or 6/10.  Its release date is May 26.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: Spot the Space Station (letters of comment by David
Goldfarb, Jerry Ryan, John Purcell, and Pete T)

In response to the pointer to the ISS spotter in the 05/19/17 issue
of the MT VOID, David Goldfarb writes:

Hadn't heard of that.  Thanks.

The "spot the station" website also allows you to sign up for email
notifications of when the station will be visible.  I went out and
looked at it just today: viewing conditions in Houston were ideal.
The station was in the sky for about six minutes, which is about
the longest it ever is.  It passed quite close to Jupiter, and at
its brightest was noticeably the brighter.

As I was looking south, when it had just come into view, I noticed
a brief, bright glint in the sky.  It lasted less than a second.
I'm not sure whether it was another satellite, or a meteor.  [-dg]

Jerry Ryan writes:

For this sort of thing, I'm quite fond of

This site covers the ISS and more!  [-gwr]

John Purcell writes:

On my iPhone I have the ISS Spotter app.  It's free, which is a
price I can afford: go to the App Store and search for it.  Only
takes a minute to download.  Every month or so I get to actually
see the ISS zip overhead.  Pretty cool thing to watch when you stop
and think about it. Sometimes I wave as it zings by, a brilliant
white light moving against the night sky.  Yes, that's pretty
darned cool.  [-jp]

Pete T writes:

If you have a smartphone, I highly recommend the (free) app
'Heavens-above', which not only calls out ISS passes, but also
gives you other satellites, including 'Iridium glints' (which can
be quite spectacular, when the sun reflects of solar panels on
Iridium phone satellites).  [-pt]


TOPIC: FANTASTIC VOYAGE (letters of comment by John Purcell, Paul
Dormer, Kevin R, Pete T, and Philip Chee)

In response to Mark's comments on FANTASTIC VOYAGE in the 05/19/17
issue of the MT VOID, John Purcell writes:

FANTASTIC VOYAGE is such a product of its time, and mostly worth
watching for the special effects and Raquel Welch in a skin-tight
suit. It is one of my favorite eye-candy SF movies for obvious
reasons. Interesting story idea, but like you said, it does have
its faults. Even taking those scientific and plot line
inconsistencies into consideration, the movie is still quite
enjoyable and actually holds up quite well.  [-jp]

Paul Dormer writes:

Incidentally, Pleasance did sometimes play against type.

I have fond memories of him playing the Rev. Septimus Harding in a
television dramatisation of Trollope's Barchester Chronicles,
alongside Nigel Hawthorne as Archdeacon Grantly.  The villain in
that was Obadiah Slope, played by newcomer Alan Rickman.  [-pd]

Mark adds:

I just recently saw LAND OF THE MINOTAUR (after I had visited the
land of the minotaur).  Peter Cushing was a cult leader and Donald
Pleasance was a Van Helsing type.  I bet they had traded roles for
the sport of it.  [-mrl]

Kevin R writes:

Pleasance was excellent in "The Great Escape"
as RAF Flight Lt Colin Blythe.  [-kr]

Paul responds:

Ah yes, my brother is always going on about that.  And it's a film
that seems to get shown on TV every Christmas, which is when I'm
likely to be with my brother.  [-pd]

Pete T writes:

Check your cut-and-paste, you included this paragraph twice.

Asimov retconned this in the novel, having the macrophage that ate
the bad guy chase them out the tear duct, dragging the subs'
wreckage along as well.  It expands outside the body. He also
minimized the amount of carrier fluid.

For at least a portion of the audience, the scientific inaccuracies
had to be balanced against the sight of 26-year-old Raquel Welch in
a skin-tight white wetsuit.  [-pt]

Philip Chee responds:

The latter is a scientific accuracy of a different sort.  [-pc]


TOPIC: Issue Numbers, Hugo Finalists, Turner Classic Movies, and
Rain and Dogs (letter of comment by John Purcell)

In response to the issue number of the 05/19/17 issue of the MT
VOID, John Purcell writes:

Whole Issue 1963.  That year I turned nine years old; civil rights
were a huge issue, Martin Luther King, Jr., gave one of the
greatest speeches in American history, Beatlemania was beginning
its world-wide infection, the USSR launched the first woman into
space (Valentina V. Tereshkova), the last Mercury Mission flew
(May: Gordon Cooper orbited Earth 22 times), the US Postal Service
began using zip codes, and an American President was assassinated.
Heck of a year.

In response to the comments on the change to the Hugo ballot in
same issue of the MT VOID, John writes:

Yes, the Puppy Slate keeps getting amended as its nominees drop out
and are replaced.  I wonder if there will be any additional changes
before Hugo voting ends on July 15th?  Stay tuned, kids, for the
next episode of--"Spaced Invaders!"

Evelyn notes:

The correct term now is "finalists", not "nominees".  This is in
the hopes of not having people announce they were a nominee, when
all that happened was they got a couple of nominations.  [-ecl]

In response to Mark's comments on Turner Classic Movies in 04/28/17
issue of the MT VOID, John writes:

This month Valerie and I have been enjoying TCM's Thursday Night
Creature Feature movies. This coming Thursday, May 25th, the lineup
(1958), THE WASP WOMAN (1960), SWAMP THING (1982), and THE KILLER
SHREWS (1959). Interesting how they worked in the DC Comics
character movie in, maybe because of the recent passing of Bernie
Wrightson, who drew SWAMP THING for many years. That does seem like
a nice nod to this legendary comic book artist. We will be watching
and setting the DVR accordingly.

Well that does it for now, as I watch the backyard slowly filling
up with rain. We are in a monsoon season pattern here in our part
of Texas, and that always results in standing water in the low
spots of our yard.  Oh, well.  It never threatens the house, which
is raised (smart planning by the builders, that) since the
foundation is set into a man-made mound, and later this week we are
due for a week's worth of dry, hot weather, which will dry things
up nicely.  Until then, the dogs get wet and muddy when they have
to do their "thing" once in a while.  Oh, the joys of owning

Many thanks, and have a great week, folks!  [-jp]


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

SIMULACRON-3 by Daniel F. Galouye (ISBN 978-1-612-42020-2) was the
basis of the 1972 German mini-series WORLD ON A WIRE and the 1999
film THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR, yet it is not very well known.

There are some hints that we are looking at a world not our own,
though frankly it is hard to tell.  The book was written in 1964, so
any advances in computers can be written off as what people of 1964
thought the future would look like, though the combination of a
fully functional virtual reality simulation and "a whisper of
whirring memory drums, a clatter of synaptic relays, [and] the
rhythms of its servo mechanisms" seems inconsistent (at least to
us).  There could be a Thirty-Third Amendment banning tobacco,
though this presupposes a much accelerated rate of adding
amendments--by 1964, we were up to only the Twenty-Fourth, and in
the last fifty-plus years we have added only three (one of them
left over from 1792!), while the action in the book takes place in

And having a character say, "Can you think of a bigger financial
empire than the one I've created?  Is there anyone more logically
qualified to sit in the White House?" is just too prescient for

The main point of discussion in the novel is the question of
whether something (or anything) is material and substantial and, as
a consequent of that, whether it is moral to treat entities known
to be "merely" electrical impulses differently than entities which
might be "merely" electrical impulses.  Clearly, some of the
characters are violating Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative,
the principle that it is immoral to use another person merely as a
means to an end; persons must be treated as an end in themselves.
Of course, here the underlying question is what constitutes a
person.  For Kant it seems to have been a "rational conscious
being," but that does not really provide a total answer.  Is a
gorilla a "rational conscious being"?  Is an elephant?  It is
questions such as these that have changed our views of acceptable
behavior towards animals (or "non-human animals," as some prefer to
say), but we are reaching the point where the question of whether
an AI is a "rational conscious being" is non-trivial.

THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR is one of the films sometimes listed as being
a non-Philip K. Dick film that *seems* like a Philip K. Dick film,
which seems a bit unfair to Galouye, who came up with the ideas in
his own book, and one should read that rather than extrapolating
some Dickian overlay.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           Life is not an exact science, it is an art.
                                          --Samuel Butler