Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
12/08/17 -- Vol. 36, No. 23, Whole Number 1992

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
All material is the opinion of the author and is copyrighted by the
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

        Illustration (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        Kirk-Spock (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        ME-163 (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        THE SHAPE OF WATER (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        THE POST (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA and "All You Zombies"
                (letter of comment by Charles S. Harris)
        Sine Wave Length (letters of comment by Dan Ritter,
                Neil Ostrove, and Gregory Benford)
        THE WHEEL OF TIME and "Reader's Digest Condensed Books"
                (letters of comment by Philip Chee and Paul Dormer)
        This Week's Reading (BURNING PARADISE and FROM HOLMES TO
                SHERLOCK) (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Illustration (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

As noted in the 10/26/12 issue of the MT VOID, I have been told
that to be a true fanzine, one must have illustrations and layout.
Since we would not want to accidentally disqualify ourselves as a
fanzine, here's an illustration of Cthulhu, circulating as an



TOPIC: Kirk-Spock (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

A friend of ours was a big fan of the robust James Kirk and Spock.
She seemed impressed by their trim figures.  I could truthfully
point out that I myself am thinner than Kirk and Spock put
together.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: ME-163 (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s I was always interested in
science fiction and in non-fiction topics related to science
fiction.  I was interested in rockets and that got me interested in
German World War II rockets, specifically the A4--better known by
its propaganda name, the V2.  The V2 got me interested in the V1, a
glider with an external engine.  Somehow that external engine I
thought made the whole craft look so much sexier.  The V1 and V2
were without crew but still they had a look of the future.  When I
read about these weapons I was occasionally hearing about something
that looked like a little stubby jet with a propeller nose.  It was
called an ME-163, or a Messerschmitt-163, or more simply the Komet.
It was the world's first and so far only combat rocket plane, and
besides being a weapon of war it had a lot in common with the
later-built rocket plane Bell X-1 that Chuck Yeager flew through
the sound barrier.  Cool.

That was it.  That was the first rocket to which you could strap a
human with any possibility (small as it was) of the human surviving
the flight.  There was an exhibit on the ME-163 that I saw on my
recent visit to the Cosmosphere Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Suddenly I found the ME-163 to be really fascinating.  Enemy pilots
would see this thing fly past them too fast for them to even see
what it was.  That should have given it combat superiority, but it
turned out to be the wrong weapon for the wrong war.

One of the things I found interesting was the Germans' near-total
disregard for the people who made the craft successful.  The V2 was
built with slave labor and I believe that more people were killed
in producing V2s than by being targets for the weapon.  But as
reprehensible as that was, at least you can see enough of the
Germans' mind-set that if these people were slaves they were
disposable.  But the ME-163 was built with very little regard for
pilot safety.  The plane carried only one person and that person--
an ally, I assume--was treated as expendable as Kamikaze pilots.
The plane had a range of only 25 miles and had a maximum of only
450 seconds worth of fuel.  But it flew at 624 miles per hour, in
its time the world's air speed record.  It had no wheels for
landing.  It was fired off from a trolley to save weight but not to
protect the pilot.  It could be launched, in the air, and in combat
in just seconds.  But for the pilot it was a deathtrap.

The rocket fuel was ultra-highly corrosive as well as ultra-highly
flammable.  The fuel could literally melt human flesh.  Whether the
fuel splashes on the pilot or the pilot touches the fuel, it is
going to be very bad for the pilot.

The plane turned out to be bad for fighting because it was just too
fast.  The pilot/gunner had about 2.5 seconds to aim his guns and
fire.  That just was not enough time before the target was behind

Like a lot of decisions made in wartime, building the Komet was a
mistake.  The project never got the commitment from the German
government to develop correctly.  The final score: Fourteen ME-163s
were lost in battle and a total of only nine Allied aircraft were
reported lost to the rocket plane.

The Komet was a good idea that was just not ready for primetime.
Or in some ways perhaps it was too ready for primetime.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: THE SHAPE OF WATER (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

Spoiler Warning: This review gives away a big piece of the plot of
the film.

CAPSULE: A military project is examining a captive amphibian-man.
A cleaning woman befriends the amphibian-man and decides to try to
set him free.  Michael Shannon's performance is a major high spot.
The plot is very, very similar to that of a once well-known play,
Paul Zindel's "Let Me Hear You Whisper."  Rating: high +1 (-4 to
+4) or 6/10

By now Mexican director/writer/producer Guillermo del Toro has been
around making horror movies such as PAN'S LABYRINTH (2006) and also
making comic book adaptations.  His comic book films are not my cup
of tea, but at least they were physically beautiful films.  I
consider his horror films are generally excellent.  His premier
film was CRONOS, one of the rare horror films that played the art
house circuit.  His most recent film, THE SHAPE OF WATER, does not
fall into either of the previous categories.  It is more a hard-
edged fairy tale. I would say the film has one major problem...

In 1969 and again in 1990 PBS adapted to television Paul Zindel's
play "Let me Hear You Whisper."  In this story a downtrodden
cleaning woman in a secret government laboratory finds a dolphin in
a tank and befriends it.  It has been trained to sing the words to
"Let Me Call You Sweetheart."  From that song Zindel takes the
title of the play.  The cleaning woman discovers to her horror the
dolphin is really being trained to fight wars undersea and be blown
up with the munitions he carries.  She determines to steal the
dolphin in a laundry cart and set it free.  That is much like del
Toro's story but Zindel's name does not appear in the credits of
the new film.

I will not describe here the plot of THE SHAPE OF WATER, but I will
let people who have seen the film draw their own conclusions.  Del
Toro says his inspiration for this film was CREATURE FROM THE BLACK
LAGOON.  Certainly the amphibian man in this film could be based on
the Creature.  But I know of no statement from the filmmakers that
mentions this film and Zindel's play in the same breath.  I did not
see Zindel's name anywhere in the credits.  I will be interested to
see how this problem plays out.

Unfortunately, what is original about this film is a mixed bag.
There are some remarkable visions as we might expect from the
director of PAN'S LABYRINTH.  But even the images outstay their
123-minute welcome in what seems like a longer production than was
needed.  The score by Alexandre Desplat has not much melody, but
manages a dreamlike quality.

One of the (several) features of the script is an incident of
sexual abuse and harassment.  I believe there is no way del Toro
could have known how timely this theme would be when the film was
released, but it works well for the film.  The film is set in 1962
and the government doing the best it can fight--clean or dirty--
mostly dirty--to oppose the Soviets who are happy to fight just as

Sally Hawkins plays Elisa Esposito, the cleaning woman who is
separated from most other people by being a mute.  Michael Shannon
plays well in a part much like his previous work in "Boardwalk
Empire."  He makes an all-purpose villain and exudes an air of
menace.  Elisa's best friend is Octavia Spencer, who shone in
HIDDEN FIGURES and this season is in both this film and in GIFTED.

If I had to choose the two most creative horror directors I would
choose Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Guillermo del Toro.  I am sorry to see
del Toro resorting to uncredited near-remakes of other people's
stories.  Still the film is engrossing and visual enough that I
rate THE SHAPE OF WATER a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: THE POST (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: In 1971 the owner of the Washington Post is faced with a
Constitutional issue of whether to publish the contents of the
Pentagon papers or to allow the government to gag her newspaper.
Steven Spielberg directs a good cast led by Meryl Streep and Tom
Hanks.  Hanks, Streep's editor-in-chief, is pushing for the
newspaper to exercise the First Amendment right of the newspaper.
Rating: +3 (-4 to +4) or 8/10

In 1971 Daniel Ellsberg was fed up.  He had been on the team of
military analysts who had reported on United States relations with
Vietnam from the years 1945 to 1967.  The report had concluded that
the whole time the United States knew it could not defeat the North
Vietnamese.  The report looked at various strategies that could be
tried including rigging elections.  Representatives of the military
and the government lied to the American people about the United
States's strategic position.  Men kept being sent to Vietnam to
fight a war we could not win.  In frustration Ellsberg leaked the
report to the New York Times and the Times published some of the
conclusions.  Ellsberg then leaked more of the report to the
foundering Washington Post.  The government threatened to treat the
releasing of information from the Ellsberg leak as an act of
treason.  The legal battle that ensued went all the way to the
United States Supreme Court.  How the Post got into this position
and what they did about it is the basis of THE POST, a film
directed by Steven Spielberg.

The decision to print or not print fell to the reluctant Kay Graham
(played by Meryl Streep).  Graham inherited the Post when her
husband died, but her opinions on how it should be run are ignored
if she does not put her foot down, and she rarely if ever does.
This was 1971 and Graham only nominally was a publisher in what is
considered a man's business.  Part of this film is her struggle to
be taken seriously.

Now Graham had to make a decision that could land her in prison and
shut down the newspaper.  Her corporate advisors tell her to
cooperate with the government demands.  On the other side of the
argument was her editor-in-chief Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), who
insisted on publishing and exercising the paper's First Amendment
free-speech rights.  For him it was extremely important since the
news that was being censored involved the reason that thousands of
soldiers were being killed.

Steven Spielberg has chosen to make this docudrama when it would
have a particular resonance.  Today there are political information
leaks and people are being threatened by their government.  The
government is again (still? trying to suppress information.
Spielberg has a talent for taking complex social issues a clear
explanation.  Here the major issue is whether the government has
the right to censor leaked information by claiming that revealing
the information will help our enemies.  Here he directs an original
screenplay by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer.  Two or three times
someone will make a two- or three-sentence speech very succinctly
worded.  He did that in LINCOLN also.

One minor unexpected touch of the script: the name I would
associate most closely with the Pentagon Papers leak would be one
Daniel Ellsberg.  In this film everything that happens does so
because Ellsberg stood up and spoke the truth rather than endorse
lies.  When told that releasing information could get him
imprisoned he simply asks, "Wouldn't you go to jail to stop a war?"
The Ellsberg character gets only a small part in this film.  He
deserves more.

 From time to time we need a film like THE POST to remind us what
democracy is for.  I rate THE POST a +3 on the -4 to +4 scale or
9/10.  It will have a limited release in December and a wider
release in January.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA and "All You Zombies" (letter of
comment by Charles S. Harris)

In response to Evelyn's comments on THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA in the
11/24/17 issue of the MT VOID, Charles Harris writes:

Evelyn quoted from THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA by Friedrich Nietzsche:
"Man shall be trained for war and women for the recreation of
the warrior; all else is folly."

Heinlein might have agreed.  In his "All You Zombies," the
Unmarried Mother realized she could never become an astronaut
(women can't be astronauts, of course).  So she "decided to
join the W.E.N.C.H.E.S.... Women's Emergency National Corps,
Hospitality & Entertainment Section, what they now call 'Space
Angels'--Auxiliary Nursing Group, Extraterrestrial Legions."

The barkeep to whom she's telling her story knows both terms:
"We use still a third name, it's that elite military service corps:
Women's Hospitality Order Refortifying & Encouraging Spacemen."


TOPIC: Sine Wave Length (letters of comment by Dan Ritter, Neil
Ostrove, and Gregory Benford)

In response to Mark's comments on unanswered questions in the
12/01/17 issue of the MT VOID, Dan Ritter writes:

[Mark wrote,] "My experience with Quora was that it suffered badly
from a problem that seems to be endemic on the Internet.
Intelligent websites become less intelligent as they get more
people accessing them.  They start with questions like "what is the
arc length of sin(x) from 0 to two pi?"

That's a simple question.  Note that it will be twice the length
of the arc from 0 to pi, and Google for that:

answers that it cannot be done with the Fundamental Theorem, but
numeric approximations can be made.  The answer for 0 to pi is
"approximately 3.8202." So twice that is approximately 7.64.

Mark replies:

I am afraid that I was trained in pure mathematics.  That means the
words "approximately," "virtually," "almost," and "not" are all
synonyms. [-mrl]

And Neil Ostrove writes:

I'm not, and the answer can't be expressed in terms of elementary
functions.  See .  [-no]

Gregory Benford sent in the actual formula:

integral_0^(2 pi) sqrt(1 - cos^2(x)) dx = 4 sqrt(2) E(1/2)

Mark adds:

It is rendered in ASCII math notation which is not highly readable,
but probably gives the precise answer.   [-mrl]


TOPIC: THE WHEEL OF TIME and "Reader's Digest Condensed Books"
(letters of comment by Philip Chee and Paul Dormer)

In response to Fred Lerner's comments on THE WHEEL OF TIME and
providing an abridgement thereof in the 12/01/17 issue of the MT
VOID, Philip Chee writes:

Didn't Readers Digest once put out a line of condensed novels?

(Also, does RD still exist?)  [-pc]

Paul Dormer responds:

Seems to.  There's even still a UK edition:


Evelyn adds:

In 1997 the name of the line of "Reader's Digest Condensed Books"
was changed to "Reader's Digest Select Editions", and is still
being published.  The latest volume contains "My Not So Perfect
Life" by Sophie Kinsella, "The Twelve Dogs of Christmas" by David
Rosenfelt, "Don't You Cry" by Mary Kubica, and "Home Sweet Home" by
April Smith.  [-ecl]

More can be found in the Usenet thread at


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

BURNING PARADISE by Robert Charles Wilson (ISBN 978-0-7653-3261-5)
is an alternate history which presumes that World War I was cut
short by the interference of an alien intelligence, but an alien
intelligence unlike those one is used to seeing in science fiction.
However, in the grand tradition of so many novels, this is not
known to the vast majority of humanity, and those who are aware of
it are not entirely accepting of the situation, to say the least.

Wilson uses this as a way of examining intelligence, and what an
alien intelligence might be like (and for that matter, what an
alien intelligence *is* like).  I am not sure he is entirely
convincing in his conclusions, but there is food for thought here.
The plot, however, is not quite up to the level of the idea, being
mostly a standard thriller plot.

FROM HOLMES TO SHERLOCK by Matthias Bostrum (ISBN 978-0-8021-2660-
3) is a history of Sherlock Holmes from the original conception of
the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the present portrayals in
film, television, and other popular media, along with the creation
and growth of organized Sherlock Holmes scholarship and fandom.
But it is more a series of anecdotes than a continuous history, and
Bostrom has a distinctive writing "trick": he will introduce a
famous character giving just his first name or nickname), write two
or three pages about him, and then reveal his full name.  (E.g.,
"George loved working outside.  He was always chopping wood, ..."
and then two pages later, "Even though he told a lie, George
Washington was praised by his father.")  It is clever the first one
or two times we see it, but does become tedious after a while.

Bostrom has included a lot of information about the publication and
portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on the Continent, which most histories
ignore.  On the other hand, he mentions Clive Merrison's
achievement only in passing.  Merrison is the only actor to have
portrayed Holmes in a dramatization of every one of the canonical
stories, as well as several newly written ones, yet it is mentioned
only as a contrast to Jeremy Brett's (failed) attempt to do so.
(And a word for Michael Williams, who played Watson in all of

Because this traces so much of the previously undocumented history
of the scholarship and fandom, as well as of the copyright status,
disputes, and machinations which have impacted everything
Sherlockian, it is a must for the serious Holmes fan.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           Books are the curse of the human race.
                                           --Benjamin Disraeli