Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
07/21/17 -- Vol. 36, No. 3, Whole Number 1972

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        National Parks Senior (public service announcement
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        The Newark Steam Man (comments by Tom Russell)
        Notes From My Recent Trip to San Juan (Mostly the Food)
                (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (film review
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        Tights (letters of comment by Paul Dormer and Kevin R)
        TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING / SEVEN SURRENDERS (letters of comment
                by David Goldfarb, Gary McGath, and Paul Dormer)
        Scholastic Aptitude Test (letters of comment by Philip Chee,
                Kevin R, and Scott Dorsey)
        This Week's Reading (EVOLUTION and WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE
                APES) (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Corrections

In the 07/14/17 issue of the MT VOID, I mistakenly typed TOO LIKE

In the same issue of the MT VOID, I mistakenly spelled Alan
Glynn's name as "Allen Glynn".

My only defense is that we had just returned from vacation and
things were a bit rushed.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: National Parks Senior Pass (public service announcement by
Evelyn C. Leeper)

On our way to El Morro and the San Juan National Historic Site,
Mark and I had a discussion of what would happen if he died first,
and the conclusion we came to was that at El Morro I should pay the
$10 and get my own Senior lifetime National Parks pass, since there
was talk of them raising the price from $10 to $80 very soon.
(Mark already has one, and it allows him to bring in a guest, but
it is not transferable.)

Which is another way of suggesting to everyone here over 62 get
your pass at the old price, even if your spouse/partner already has
one. because when we got back, we discovered they had already
announced that the price increase would take effect August 28.  The
cheapest way is at a National Park, Monument, Historic Site, etc.,
but you can buy it on-line or via mail by paying an additional $10
handling fee.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: The Newark Steam Man (comments by Tom Russell)

Tom Russell pointed out the following story in the Asbury Park
Press (July 9, page 5A):

which begins:

"These days there's a popular fashion or 'cosplay' fad known as

Steampunk is based on the idea of futuristic technology existing in
the past, usually the 19th century, and often set in Victorian era
England--but with prominent elements of either science fiction or
fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those
found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real
technological developments like the computer occurring at an
earlier date.

But 30 years before H.G. Wells published his sci-fi masterpieces,
there was a real life Steampunk walking the streets of Newark."


TOPIC: Notes From My Recent Trip to San Juan (Mostly the Food)
(comments by Mark R. Leeper)

07/10/17 10:44:12

I am still in San Juan and in Trip Advisor's second highest rated
restaurant of better than 1000 restaurants in town.  It is the Casa
Cortes ChocoBar.  In other words, it is a restaurant dedicated to
chocolate.  They have about twenty-five chocolate dishes and about
ten kinds of hot chocolate.  We tried only one small dish and each
tried a type of hot chocolate.  The hot chocolate is of a
consistency half way between the familiar US hot chocolate (Shop
Rite) and cooked chocolate pudding.  It is very rich.  Evelyn's
chocolate has a higher chocolate content.  It is about 70%. It
takes a little getting used to since it is bitter and has only a
touch of sweet.  It has very little sweet taste.  The small spoon
stands up in it.  I got mine a little sweeter.  The spoon falls
slowly, but it is not as rich as Evelyn's.

Evelyn and I got a small piece of chocolate pizza. That is melted
chocolate and melted marshmallow on bread.  Not chocolate bread,
but just bread.  Each order seems to come with a piece of good
(sweet) chocolate on slices of cheddar cheese.  I could probably
make at home any dish I saw at the restaurant, but it was all a
great sensory experience.

07/10/17 11:41:33

Speaking of restaurants, I found that that the restaurants were a
long walk from the Marriot hotel except for two or three in the
same building as the hotel.  There are more restaurants on Ponce de
Leon about a twenty-minute walk away in the hot sun and humid air.
The restaurants treat customers as if they were a pair of twins.
By that I mean dishes cost about twice what you would expect to
pay, and you are served about twice as much food as you would want
to eat.  And the hosts are quite willing to bring an extra plate.
Our first meal at the Metropole (in the hotel) we noted the prices
were high.  One got a Cuban sampler and one got Chicken with
Mofongo (mostly unripe plantains fried and mashed with garlic,
fried pork oil and broth; it tastes like polenta).  We had to
abandon some good food or we would have died right there of busted
bellies.  We did not make that mistake again.

A later day we went to Los Pinos on Ponce de Lion.  We tried to
order a sampler plate of Puerto Rican foods.  When I ordered the
sampler the owner insisted that we were ordering too much.  He was
not satisfied until he realized we would be splitting the dish and
that was all we were having.  It was sort of a Puerto Rican Pu Pu
Platter.  It had chicken, pork, squid, plantains, and a bunch more.
We left behind one piece of fried plantain neither of us had room

07/11/17 8:18:50

Well, this is our last morning in Puerto Rico.  I am sitting at my
last Puerto Rican breakfast.  It is the same place we ate our first
day and we ate here once in between.  It is at Cafe Macchiatto,
another of the restaurants around here that are a bit overpriced,
but not if we split a dish.  About half the time we have breakfast
in the room since we just want a few handfuls of cereal.  But three
times we have eaten here.

Our first morning we stopped at what is little more than a mom and
pop restaurant.  The host wanted to tell us what they had to offer.
The first dish was Huevos Rancheros.

I stopped him right there.  He had me at Huevos Rancheros.  This is
usually a Mexican dish.  It is fried egg on tortilla with salsa and
melted cheese. The portion is generous enough that we shared an
order even here.  We have been doing a lot of that as I described
above.  Restaurant prices are high even at our breakfast place but
portions are big.  If we can agree on what to order we can get two
good meals at half the price.  Luckily Evelyn and I have almost
identical taste.  That way neither of us is disappointed.  Anyway
we have been at Cafe Macchiatto for three of our seven mornings.


R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: Four years after the war started in the last "Planet of
the Apes" film, Caesar, an intelligent ape, wants to end the
fighting.  But first he wants vengeance on the leader of a
paramilitary organization who killed Caesar's wife and son.
Director Matt Reeves looks not so much for a realistic war but for
an allegory that examines human slavery and concentration camps,
placing them on the planet of the apes. There are some big holes in
the logic, and the story drags too long, but the film still seems
to be an audience pleaser.  Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES is the third installment in the
rebooted "Planet of the Apes" series.  As the film begins we jump
to four years after the last film, DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
(2014), ended.  As a "Planet of the Apes" tradition, this film is
not actually about what the title says, a war for the planet.  It
is about a single engagement.  In fact, that is one problem with
the script.  Everything happens within what might be a hundred
miles or less from everything else that happens.  We have no idea
what is happening in China.  For that matter we have no idea what
is happening in Los Angeles, not more than a few weeks' walk away.

Peace advocate Caesar is reluctantly fighting in the skirmishes
against humans and at the same time is trying to broker a peace
agreement.  Just when he was pulling out of the war he gets pulled
back in like Michael Corleone.  Caesar finds out that his wife and
son have been killed by a paramilitary group called Alpha-Omega
that is led by someone calling himself the Colonel.  Caesar decides
to put any peace plans on hold while he goes off to kill the
Colonel (played by Woody Harrelson) and, if possible, to de-fang
the whole Alpha-Omega.  For a creative film series, this plot is
REALLY, REALLY too much of a cliche.  The I-want-peace-but-first-I-
want-vengeance plot has long been a yawner.

Do not go to this film expecting a rousing good adventure.  The
story would be grim on a sunny day, and there are no sunny days in
this film.  Every scene seems gray and most are dismal.  By now
Andy Serkis probably sleeps in his motion-capture doodads because
he wears them through so much of his life.  Do not expect the level
of animal realism he had in KING KONG.  His face is believable as
an ape's face, but his posture and gait are of human-in-ape-suit
quality and not chimpanzee.  In keeping with the grimness of the
film he has what looks like a perpetual scowl on his face.  He is
not a happy camper even in the Muir Woods scenes at the beginning.
There is some attempt here to tell how came about the world of the
original 1968 PLANET OF THE APES.  Perhaps this film closes the

There are multiple languages that apes use to communicate: English,
sign-language, ape-language.  And the film does not seem to be
consistent with who speaks what and who understands what.  Of
course, not thinking out the logic of who speaks or understands
what is a long tradition of PLANET OF THE APES writing.  This goes
all the way back to when Taylor heard the first ape speaking
English and did not question how the knowledge of English language
came to the planet.  With WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES the
language problem could have been corrected but not without
substantial reliance on multi-language subtitles, and subtitles
could have damaged the box office take.  The battles are
realistically and mind-numbingly staged and fierce enough to leave
the viewer ragged.

At 140 minutes this film drags on at least twenty minutes too long.
Some scenes just seem to go on and on without adding to the plot.
There is an old adage for filmmakers that says, "Show your
audience, don't tell them."  If director Matt Reeves wanted a 140-
minute film he could have done it better than avoiding the long
scenes in which Caesar talks with the Colonel or another ape and is
told what happened to his family.  Reeves TELLS events in the plot
but SHOWS battle scenes that only advance the plot slowly.  There
is just too much time with nothing happening in the story line.
Reeves does manage to get some more interest-value into his ape
characters than previous films in the series have had.  There are
also some little references to other films, both in the "Planet of
the Apes" series and not.  Reeves would have done well to trim this
effort down to under two hours, but it still develops the apes more
than previous films.  I rate WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES a +2 on
the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: Tights (letters of comment by Paul Dormer and Kevin R)

In response to Mark's comments on tights in the 07/07/17 issue of
the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:

Interesting (well, to me) transatlantic confusion here.

In the UK, tights are the female garment that I believe are called
pantyhose in the US.  Shear coverings for the legs, including the
feet and lower torso.

In the UK, leggings don't have to cover the feet, judging by the
images I got from googling leggings:

Evelyn adds:

When I was growing up, tights were opaque leg and foot coverings
that were the same as pantyhose (which hadn't been invented yet).
Pantyhose are described in Wikipedia as "sheer tights".  [-ecl]

Kevin R elaborates:

Leggings used to be worn UNDER something: a long tunic or a jumper
(US meaning, a dress, not the equivalent of US sweater, though I
suppose one could wear a very long UK jumper over them.) They were
popular to wear under short skirts, as  they gave a little more
coverage to to thighs and parts north of them.

Women have taken to wearing them instead of slacks, or jeans There
are even "jeggings"--"jean-like leggings"--meant to look like blue
jeans or black denim, but much tighter than even the late
1970s/1980s "designer jeans" such as Jordache, Gloria Vanderbilt,
or Brooke Shield sin her Calvin Kleins. These babies are, as Billy
Ocean once sang, "painted on."

Evelyn adds:

Actually, I think what we call a jumper is called a pinafore in the
UK.  It is designed to be worn over a blouse.  There is much more
discussion at .  [-ecl]


comment by David Goldfarb, Gary McGath, and Paul Dormer)

In response to Joe Karpierz's comments on TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING in
the 07/14/17 issue of the MT VOID, David Goldfarb writes:

Given Joe Karpierz' favorable review of TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING,
someone should tell him that he doesn't have to wait for the
sequel: SEVEN SURRENDERS came out back in March.  It's the third
volume, THE WILL TO BATTLE, that will be out later this year.  I
note also that LIGHTNING and SURRENDERS form one complete work, to
which WILL is a sequel.  (I don't know whether it, like LIGHTNING,
will be a first half.)  [-dg]

Gary McGath adds:

The paperback of SEVEN SURRENDERS is coming out in November.  I
found that out after the local bookstore tried to order it for me
and then figured out their mistake.  For the moment, I'm being
cheap.  [-gmg]

Paul Dormer writes:

[Joe Karpierz writes,] "The (apparently) inconsistent use of gender
pronouns is difficult to follow, at least at first."  [-jk]

It didn't seem that inconsistent to me.  In fact, Canner explains
it in his narrative.

In all reported speech, the epicene pronouns are used.  (I think it
was Ben Yagoda in his Not One-Off Britishisms blog
() suggests that the use of
they, them and their as epicene pronouns is more common in English
English.  I use them all the time, and was even taught it at
school, so this didn't seem odd to me.

But in Canner's narrative itself, he uses gendered pronouns, and
specifically says in his introduction that this is to give an
archaic feel to the narrative.  But there is a further confusion
that he uses the pronouns for the gender he feels that person ought
to have, not their biological gender.

Incidentally, was anyone else reminded of Alfred Bester by the
style.  I was just thinking "Bester" when there is introduced a
character with the surname of Bester.  [-pd]


TOPIC: Scholastic Aptitude Test (letters of comment by Philip Chee,
Kevin R, and Scott Dorsey)

In response to Jerry Ryan's comments on the SAT in the 07/14/17
issue of the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:

According to Ars Technica, taking cognitive tests repeatedly makes
you better at taking cognitive tests.

I took A (and S) level exams while at boarding school.  During the
final term before the exams, we did a complete mock exam every week
for the whole term.  By the time the real A levels rolled around I
could have taken it in my sleep :P . (Note I don't really recommend
this for most people).  [-pc]

Kevin R responds:

I took the New York State Regents algebra test as a freshman in
high school.  My math grade had been less than what I was used to
in grammar school: less than 90%, sometimes coming scarily close to
80%.  My teacher gave me old Regents tests to take home and
complete, and we'd correct them next day.  After all that practice
I was able to make a perfect score on the state test.

Besides ACT and SAT test prep guides, when I was in the bookstore
trade we sold sample test books.  Repeatedly taking the tests would
improve your score.  Just being familiar with the format might
limit the "freakout factor" that some report, allow one to calm
down, and get close to completing the test.

Taking the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) was encouraged at my school.
Besides getting to experience the SATish test environment, it was
used to pick National Merit semifinalists and finalists.

There was no essay section on the SAT when I took it.  It has been
added, and now, made optional.  If a school you are applying to
requires it, I expect you should take it.  Faking good writing is
undoubtedly harder than filling in bubbles on a Scantron form,*
which doesn't care how you get the answer.

Kevin R writes:

*Yes, I took the SAT test back in 1973.  No computer terminals,
tablets, etc.  Just pen and paper.  [-kr]

Scott Dorsey writes:

I fell asleep about half an hour into the Georgia Test of English
Competency, which I was required to take as an undergraduate since
I had attended high school in a different state.  I had completed
the first third of the multiple choice section but I slept
completely through the essay section.

The remarkable thing was that I actually passed the multiple choice
part.  [-sd]

Kevin asks:

Did you manage to pass the section on the proper use of "y'all?" :)


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

EVOLUTION by Stephen Baxter (ISBN 978-0-345-45783-7) has a
structure very similar to THE SOURCE and HAWAII by James Michener.
THE SOURCE has a framing story of an archaeological dig in Israel
and is a chronological series of novelettes, each centering on an
object found in the dig.  HAWAII is not as clearly divided, but has
an even longer time span than THE SOURCE, and deals more with the
interactions of the various emigrant groups than THE SOURCE.  (The
flip side of these would be Olaf Stapledon's LAST AND FIRST MEN.)

EVOLUTION takes a somewhat different approach.  Rather than looking
at the stories behind what is found, or at the merging of lineages,
Baxter mostly follows a single lineage from the appearance of
mammals before the mass extinction of the dinosaurs to the far
future.  Baxter does occasionally diverge into other lines of
descent that do not lead to Homo sapiens.  In at least one case,
one might quibble that the population bottleneck Baxter creates
makes the subsequent population growth and success unlikely.  But
the complaint one reviewer had--that it was unlikely/impossible to
have a single primate be the ancestor of all humanity is just
wrong: Purga is not the *only* ancestor, as this person seemed to
read Baxter's assumption, but merely a *common* ancestor.

Some of Baxter's more interesting "digressions" are stories of
completely unknown species.  Given that there were undoubtedly
millions of Tyrannosaurus Rex during their existence, and so far
only fifty specimens have been found (most incomplete), there must
have been *many* species that lived and flourished that we have not
a clue about.  Baxter describes "what might have been"--not in the
sense, of "what might have been, but wasn't" but in the sense of
"what might, or might not, have been--we can never know."  It's
classic "sense of wonder" stuff.

Almost every chapter is about a key development in our evolution.
We are there with primates who use "proto-tools" and when they use
real tools.  We are there when the first primate decides to leave
the forest and live on the grasslands.  We are there when they have
the first glimmers of empathy (the idea that other primates have
their own internal minds)--and how this leads to the invention of
lying and deception.  We are there when they start to use language
as more than just a half-dozen cries meaning "food", "danger", and
"submit"  We are there when they invent art and religion.

The book's focus is, of course, on evolution, but Baxter takes this
is an unexpected direction in the chapter in which agriculture is
introduced.  Yes, we adopted/invented agriculture as part of the
evolutionary process, but Baxter seems to take a position that has
been becoming more prominent lately: that agriculture was
humanity's biggest mistake.  From an evolutionary point of view,
agriculture makes sense.  It supports more people, who can have
more children, who will replace through conquest those who do not
embrace agriculture.  But what is lost, according this position, is
the *quality* of life.  The agricultural human has more pains and
more diseases, has to spend more time working to survive, has a
high probability of having a less enjoyable life, than the hunter-
gatherer human.  Evolution does not care about happiness or even
health per se--it cares about who produces more offspring.  (This
does not mean I think "evolution" has volition, just that this is a
convenient way to express this.)

Definitely recommended.

In the midst of reading EVOLUTION, we went to see WAR FOR THE
PLANET OF THE APES, and I found myself using some of the science
cited in Baxter's book to critique the movie.  For example,
majority of the apes in most of the scenes walk with a human gait,
not a simian one.  Baxter details the evolutionary skeletal changes
necessary to make this change, and clearly the apes could not have
made these changes pretty much instantly, even with the virus.
(For that matter, there is a lot in the film that is inconsistent.
Nova is mute, but shows no other symptoms of the virus.  Caesar
supposedly is the only ape who speaks regularly, but when useful
for the plot, a couple of the other apes seem to have the power of
speech as well.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           The mad are happy, the sane ignorant; those of us stuck
           on the sane side of madness or the mad fringe of sanity
           are in a purgatorial cage.
                                          --Terri Guillemets

Evelyn C. Leeper
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over
public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.  -Richard Feynman