Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
12/15/17 -- Vol. 36, No. 24, Whole Number 1993

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Free Science Fiction Anthology About the Future of Space
                Exploration (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        Philcon 2014 Convention Report
        Mad Men (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        King Kong vs. Godzilla and Why Do We Love Our Childhood
                Monsters (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        19th Animation Show of Shows (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        THE STONE SKY by N. K. Jemisin (book review by Joe Karpierz)
        ME-163 and Hannah Reitsch (letter of comment by Peter Trei)
        Sine Wave Length (letter of comment by Andre Kuzniarek)
                Zombies" (letter of comment by Sam Long)
        THE WHEEL OF TIME (letter of comment by Gwendolyn Karpierz)
        This Week's Reading (TESTAMENT OF YOUTH) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Free Science Fiction Anthology About the Future of Space
Exploration (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

COLLECTION OF SPACE FUTURES is being published by Arizona State
University's Center for Science and the Imagination.  The ebook
version is available free; there is also a hard-copy edition (which
costs $20 from ASU).

It contains stories by Steven Barnes, Eileen Gunn, Carter Scholz,
and others, as well as an interview with Kim Stanley Robinson.

Details are at:

(It says, "There's even a version aimed at kids and educators,
which takes out the profanity," which makes one wonder how
necessary they were in the first place.)  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Philcon 2014 Convention Report

My Philcon 2014 con report is available at FANAC:



TOPIC: Mad Men (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

I am sometimes amused to see the advertising slogans on food
products after having seen the processes of creating advertising
and the hug salaries that go to the people who come up with these
slogans.  I recently took a look at a package of Pennysticks
pretzels.  Their slogan is "Enjoy the Taste."  No!  Why did they
think I bought them?  Had I intended to use the pretzels as back
scratchers?  I wonder how much some executive got for thinking up
that slogan.

But the classic is Barq's Root Beer.  Its slogan right on a can or
bottle is "It's good."  I wonder how long they thought about that
one.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: King Kong vs. Godzilla and Why Do We Love Our Childhood
Monsters (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

I recently was at a science fiction convention and one of the
panels was about the future of Godzilla movies.  It got me thinking
that when the original GOJIRA was released the filmmakers could
hardly have known that people would still be making Gojira movies
63 years later.  Let us look at some of the features of Godzilla
and some other cinema monsters.

I guess I find I to have some interest the lasting popularity of
Godzilla.  The character Godzilla made his debut in 1954.
According to Google, at the beginning of 2017 there had been 29
Godzilla films in 63 years.  That beat out James Bond.  Clearly
there is some sort of charge that audiences still get from seeing a
man in a theropod lizard suit appear hundreds of feet tall.

The monster Godzilla himself was inspired by Ray Harryhausen's
rhedosaurus in THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS.  The rhedosaurus
appeared in just that one film and never appeared in another film.
Gojira/Godzilla clearly has some sort of effect on audiences.  It
may be a man in a shabby monster suit, but we have a curious
affection for Godzilla.  I can think of only one other giant
creature that has had his own series.  That would be Gamera, and
Gamera was certainly inspired by Godzilla.  (I guess I should
count Mothra and Majin, but somehow series so short do not seem to
count.)  What is it about Godzilla that makes him sopopular?  Well,
there are some aspects that work for the big guy's popularity, and
some work against.

Let us start with the easy stuff.  The rhedosaurus is just "the"
rhedosaurus.  Godzilla has a name to refer to him.  The viewer is
on a first-name basis with Godzilla.  It does not mean that we like
him or want him to go stomp Tokyo, but names are powerful.  There
are not a lot of monsters that have names.  Kong has a name, of
course.  There is the aforementioned Gamera, and there is Gorgo.
Actually, almost all the monsters from Toho Studios--Toho is the
home of Godzilla films--have names.  It is not a requirement
necessarily.  We have the Frankenstein Monster and the Creature
from the Black Lagoon who get along without names, but having a
name helps.  It gives the monster a direct identity rather than an
indirect relation to something else.

Then there is facial look and expression.  Godzilla's face may
change from film to film but not very much within a single film.
It is a little-known fact that Toho builds the Godzilla suit anew
for each film he is in.  So there is some room for variation when
the Godzilla suit is made.  But it never had a very expressive face
on it.  His face is never has expressive as Kong's face.  But
Godzilla's face never expresses much emotion.  Kong's face
expresses some limited emotion but only in the stop-motion scenes.
The gorilla in SON OF KONG easily beats both.  He actually shows
more emotion than Kong or Godzilla because more of the film is
animated.  This is one of the few cases where SON OF KONG is a real
improvement over KING KONG.

At least Godzilla had going for him that he was a dinosaur.  What
kid doesn't love dinosaurs?  Toho put together what might be the
most convincing trailer ever made and ran it in children's
television hours.  It was really hard sell for 55 seconds of cool
years before "cool" ever meant exciting.  But for fans of a certain
age, this trailer is what got many of them into science fiction.

Godzilla was originally supposed to be a dinosaur, actually a
cross-breed.  But at the same time he also was expected to be a
metaphor for the nuclear bomb in solid form.  Today Godzilla is no
longer so much a dinosaur as a force of nature incarnate.  He
sometimes is hero and sometimes villain.  Godzilla 2000 shows him
as hero and then suddenly he fries a circle around him.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: 19th Animation Show of Shows (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

There are two or three annual films that are collections of
animated films that go on tours.  One is composed of the animated
films that are nominated for Academy Awards that year.  The
Animation Show of Shows is different.  It is just a good collection
of films.  Some are fairly recent, one or two may be a good deal
older.  This year the best film was 53 years old.  It has a good
straightforward style of telling a story.  Your mileage may vary,
but I really prefer straightforward language to films that are
ethereal and abstract.  I will rate each film A, B, C, or if it is
particularly good, AA or AAA.  Incidentally the compilation film
will have a limited release to theaters starting December 29, 2017.

Can You Do It - Quentin Baillieux, France
This is an animated film set on the streets of Los Angeles.  It is
seemingly a celebration of multiculture where people are singing
and dancing.  There also seems to be a horserace down the center of
the street.  Every one of the many different cultures is singing a
song called "Can You Do It."  The same song plays under the closing
Rating: B+

Tiny Big - Lia Bertels, Belgium
This film was hard to interpret.  It seemed to be line drawings
showing a family spending a day at the beach and there is a man
shooting a gun.  Things escalate until someone shoots a gun and it
goes further until a missile pierces the planet.  Any
interpretation I would attempt would be pure speculation.
Rating C

Next Door - Pete Docter, US
A very cubist man lives in his world made up of geometrical shapes
that give his world a sort of order.  His next-door neighbor has
noisy fantasies and fairy tales.  They come together over a certain
Rating: B

The Alan Dimension - Jac Clinch, UK
Alan is a latter day Walter Mitty who seems to himself as having
visions from across time and space.  This gets on his wife's
nerves.  Eventually he decides to behave and ignore the visions.
But this may not be the best choice.
Rating: A

Beautiful Like Elsewhere - Elise Simard, Canada
This film looks at some beautiful (or not) abstract space shapes.
Some of the images are rather dingy.  There is not much connective
tissue connecting the star scapes.  They seem to be pictures of
celestial events.
Rating: C

Hangman - Paul Julian and Les Goldman, US
This is a 1964 adaptation and visualization of a poem by Maurice
Ogden.  But it is certainly a film that deserves to be plucked from
obscurity.  The story is actually very similar to a quote
attributed to German Protestant Pastor Martin Niemoller: "They came
for the Communists, and I didn't object - For I wasn't a Communist;
They came for the Socialists, and I didn't object - For I wasn't a
Socialist; They came for the labor leaders, and I didn't object -
For I wasn't a labor leader; They came for the Jews, and I didn't
object - For I wasn't a Jew; Then they came for me - And there was
no one left to object."
Rating: AAA

The Battle of San Romano - Georges Schwizgebel, Switzerland
This film uses animation to show the chaos of war.  It is based on
Paolo Ucello's painting of that name, though it seems to be in
theme much like Picasso's Guernica.  But every figure in the
painting is transforming into something else in a rolling boil of
images.  Eventually the painting returns to its original form.
Rating: B

Gokurosama - Clementine Frere, Aurore Gal, Yukiko Meignien, Anna
Mertz, Robin Migliorelli, Romain Salvini, France
The title means "thank you for all the hard work."  If you think
the daytime is busy at the shopping mall, you should be there in
the early morning when the cleaning crew dance, sing, and have
Rating: A

Dear Basketball - Glen Keane, US
When Kobe Bryant of the LA Lakers was retiring he wrote a love poem
to the game of basketball and all it had done for him.  Literally,
as the title implies this is a love letter to a game that has been
his whole life.  And being the best he could be has been his goal
all his life.  Disney veteran Glen Keane has taken the poem and
rendered it as visual images and music.
Rating: B

Island - Max Mortl and Robert Lobel, Germany
This is a whimsical look at the flora and fauna of an absurd
volcanic island.  There is no story, but there are geometric
animals moving to a rhythm.  The art and animation is reminiscent
of the classic film FANTASTIC PLANET (1973).
Rating: A

Unsatisfying - Parallel Studio, France
Again there is no story here.  We just see a number of objects that
do not meet customer expectations.  In some sense the film can be
consider it an homage to Road Runner cartoons in which no
technology ever worked.Rating: A

My Burden - Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Sweden
I have no idea what this was all about.  Apparently because it has
to do with human bodied fish, mice, and apes or animal headed
people.  You have fishes that wear shirts and ties.  All are at the
Hotel Long Stay dancing and singing (poorly) in Norwegian.  All
seem somewhat alienated.  They are animated in old-fashioned stop-
Rating: B

Les Abeilles Domestiques (Domestic Bees) Alexanne Desrosiers,
This one just seems to show us a modular house with pieces all the
same rectangular shape and size.  People seem to have monotonous
and repetitious lives in the modules.  The odd paths through the
house remind one of Robert Heinlein's story "And He Built a Crooked
Rating: B

Our Wonderful Nature: The Common Chameleon - Tomer Eshed, Germany
This film one is a little comic in 3-D animation we seen an old
fashioned cartoon.  This is a parody of the David Attenborough
style of nature films.  We are introduced to the common chameleon
that has a tongue twice as long as its body.  This proves to be a
mixed blessing.
Rating: A

Casino - Steven Woloshen, Canada
This is a piece of jazz music accompanied by crude drawings of
casino objects painted on bright colored backgrounds. It is
impressionist but not a masterpiece.
Rating: C

Everything - David OReilly, US
Alan Watts lectures on how every sentient animal thinks it is a
human being.  Behind him is a wholly synthetic forest scene with
bears doing somersaults.  I was never a fan of his philosophy.
This did not appeal to me in its profundity.
Rating: C



TOPIC: THE STONE SKY by N. K. Jemisin (copyright 2017, Orbit,
$16.99, 445pp, ISBN 978-0-316-22924-1) (book review by Joe

THE STONE SKY, the final book in N. K. Jemisin's masterpiece series
"The Broken Earth", is something that seems to be becoming
increasingly rare in this day and age: the final book in a trilogy
that really is the final book in a trilogy.  Whether it is science
fiction or fantasy, it always seems that the last book of any
sequence leaves the door open a crack for a continuation of the
story.  I truly believe that by the end of this book, it is game,
set, and match on "The Broken Earth", and if there is any justice
in this world THE STONE SKY will be a finalist for the Best Novel
Hugo next year in San Jose.  If it does indeed win the Hugo, "The
Broken Earth" trilogy will be three for three with regard to Best
Novel Hugos and may be remembered as one of the best genre series
of all time.

There's that hedge again, the one I've been talking about for the
last two years when discussing the other two books in the series,
THE FIFTH SEASON and THE OBELISK GATE.  It looks and feels like
fantasy, given some of the trappings and the subject matter, but
there is more than a hint of science fiction here, just enough to
make the reader think that Jemisin was intentionally blurring the
lines between the two genres.  That blurring, whether intentional
or not, is glorious and wonderful.  Both fantasy and science
fiction play a huge part in THE STONE SKY and ultimately bringing
the trilogy to what can only be called a stunning and outstanding

The novel follows three different stories.  The two main stories--
or so we think they're the main stories--are those of Essun and
Nassun, mother and daughter orogenes.  Essun wakes up from a coma
after using the titular Obelisk Gate of the previous book to
destroy the enemies of Castrima.  A nasty side effect of the usage
of the Obelisk Gate is that she is partially transformed into a
Stone Eater.  Essun has learned that the Moon is quickly
approaching the planet from the distant part of its long elliptical
orbit.  She needs to use Obelisk Gate to capture the Moon and put
it back in its orbit, thus ending the destructive cycle of Fifth
Seasons.  Nassun, who is angry and despondent over having killed
her father using the power of an obelisk, wants to cause the Moon
to collide with the Earth and destroy both.  Nassun is accompanied
by the guardian Schaffa, who agrees to help her in her quest.  Both
Essun and Nassun travel to the city of Corepoint in order to
control the Obelisk Gate.  It is there that they meet in a final
confrontation for the future of the Earth, Moon, and humanity.

The third story is one that makes this a most satisfying novel for
me.  It begins thousands of years in the past and in a place called
Syl Anagist.  The story told in this portion of the novel,
interspersed among the other two, takes place over a long period of
time, and through its telling the reader comes to understand just
how the world got into the predicament it is.  This is the piece of
the story that gives the novel its science fictional flavor with a
dash of magic, as we learn how the Stone Eaters were created and
how the Moon was thrown off its course.  Through a bit of hand
wavium that we really don't seem to mind, characters are
transported to the Moon itself to finish their task.  The goal is
to start the Plutonic Engine, involves something called
Geoarcanity, as well as human conductors in a grand plot that, if
the novel didn't have enough, presents the reader with a sense of
wonder that, barring things like Cixin Liu's "The Rememberance of
Earth's Past" trilogy hasn't been seen around these parts in
awhile.  But the novel does have other scenes that make the readers
shake their heads in awe; Nassun travelling *through* the planet to
get the to City of Corepoint to where she can destroy the world.
The journey involves a breathtaking "fly by" of the Earth's core.
Their transportation to Corepoint originates in a glorious, awe-
inspiring city in the arctic where Nassun learns some secrets of
the past.

This novel is about a lot of things: family, growth, and loss play
a big part in the story, as does a sense of the other and the
outsider.  All of these and more are woven throughout the entire
story.  Essun and Nassun, mother and daughter, who have lost a
husband and a father; Nassun, who has lost the only person,
Schaffa, who she believes has ever cared for her; Essun, who has
lost more than one loved one, the most recent being Lerna, the
father of her unborn child; the growth of Nassun as she learns what
is more important; the outsider and admittedly vicious treatment of
the orogenes by the stills; the list goes on and on.  Jemisin
weaves it all and more into one of the most satisfying conclusion
to a series in a long time.

A story like "The Broken Earth" comes along, I think, once in a
lifetime.  I've written more than once that the true test of how
good a story might be is how long from now it will still be talked
about.  Ann Leckie's "The Imperial Radch" series, the
aforementioned Cixin Liu series, and now "The Broken Earth", have
all entered our collective consciousness within the last decade or
so.  Whether any of them stand the test of time is yet to be
determined.  I think we'd be wise to put our money on "The Broken
Earth".  Those of us who will still be around in twenty years need
to check back and see if it was money well spent.  I have a feeling
it will be.  [-jak]


TOPIC: ME-163 and Hannah Reitsch (letter of comment by Peter Trei)

In response to Mark's comments on the ME-163 in the 12/08/17 issue
of the MT VOID, Peter Trei writes:

There's a great interview on Youtube with Hannah Reitsch, who was
an ME-163 test pilot. She describes it as 'like riding a

Hannah was interesting.  She "was the first woman to fly a
helicopter, a rocket plane, and a jet fighter.  She set over forty
aviation altitude and endurance records during her career, both
before and after World War II, and several of her international
gliding records are still standing to this day."

... and also a huge fan of Hitler before and during WW2 (she got
better).  [-pt]

Evelyn notes:

That link goes to part 3 of an interview.  More can be found by
searching for "Hanna Reitsch" on YouTube.  [-ecl

Mark notes:

For those who have seen the film OPERATION CROSSBOW, Hanna Reitsch
is the woman who flew the V-1 refitted to carry a human passenger
in order to work out the design bugs in the V-1.  She certainly
appears to have been a remarkable woman.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Sine Wave Length (letter of comment by Andre Kuzniarek)

In response to Gregory Benford's comments on the sine wave length
in the 12/08/17 issue of the MT VOID, Andre Kuzniarek writes:

When you first brought up the question of sine wave length I just
when straight to Wolfram/Alpha for the answer:

It seems to match Gregory's response except for one detail, making
me worry about a bug, but I'm told by one of our experts the site's
displayed result is correct.

[Gregory's formula was:

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

The minus sign before the cosine rather than plus was probably a
transcription error somewhere along the line.  -ecl]


Zombies" (letter of comment by Sam Long)

In response to Mark's review of THE SHAPE OF WATER in the 12/08/17
issue of the MT VOID, Sam Long writes:

The latest (11 Dec 2017) issue of THE NEW YORKER has a review of
THE SHAPE OF WATER in it.  [-sl]

And in response to Charles Harris's comments on THUS SPOKE
ZARATHUSTRA and "All You Zombies" in the same issue, Sam writes:

I remember reading somewhere that, when women's auxiliary units
were set up in the military services in WWI and WWII, the
establishment of the Women's Home Organized Reserves for Emergency
Service was eagerly awaited but never came to pass.  But Women
Marines were, so I'm told, sometimes called Leathertits, by analogy
with Leatherneck, a word for (male) Marine, from the leather
collars on late-18th-early-19th century uniforms.  [-sl]


TOPIC: THE WHEEL OF TIME (letter of comment by Gwendolyn Karpierz)

In response to Fred Lerner's comments on abridging THE WHEEL OF
TIME in the 12/01/17 issue of the MT VOID, Gwendolyn Karpierz

Re: THE WHEEL OF TIME--Abridging THE WHEEL OF TIME is easy if you
already have the patience for long series: only read the last
hundred pages of books 6-10, and read everything else.  [-gk]


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

In THE DAUGHTER OF TIME, Josephine Tey's narrator is reading an
historical novel(*) and relates its account of the scene of Cecily
Nevill (the mother of Richard III) watching her husband, her
brother, and her eldest son going off to war: "And Cicely, who in
her time had seen so many men, and so many of her family, go off to
war, went back to the house with an unaccustomed weight at her
bosom.  Which of them, said the voice in her unwilling mind, which
of them was it who was not coming back?  Her imagination did not
compass anything so horrible as the fact that none of them was
coming back again.  That she would never see any one of them

Brittain saw her fiance Roland Leighton off to war, then her
brother Edward Brittain, and their two close friends Victor
Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow.  None of them was coming back
again; she would never see any one of them again.  Leighton was
shot December 23, 1915, and died the next day--the day that was
supposed to be the first day of his leave and for which Brittain
was cheerfully making preparations in England.  Word arrived
Christmas night.  Her brother was the last of the four to die, in
June 1918.

Brittain served as a nurse in London, Malta, and France, and her
descriptions of her work are enlightening.  For example, the
volunteer nurses received very little training or instruction from
the registered professional nurses, because the latter feared the
volunteers would be job competition after the war.  (Brittain
thought the concept that the volunteers would actually want to
continue this work in any substantial numbers was ridiculous.)  In
London, the nurses were billeted quite a distance from the hospital
and no transport was provided, so they often arrived at work
drenched by rain.  And in general, Brittain criticized the total
lack of planning or thought that went into much of what she saw--
and by extension, much of the execution of the war in general.

One passage often quoted (at least by Americans) is her description
of the arrival of American troops in France:

     Only a day or two afterwards I was leaving quarters to go
     back to my ward, when I had to wait to let a large
     contingent of troops march past me along the main road
     that ran through our camp.  They were swinging rapidly
     towards Camiers, and though the sight of soldiers marching
     was too familiar to arouse curiosity, an unusual quality
     of bold vigour in their swift stride caused me to stare at
     them with puzzled interest.

     They looked larger than ordinary men; their tall, straight
     figures were in vivid contrast to the under-sized armies
     of pale recruits to which we had grown accustomed.  At
     first I thought their spruce, clean uniforms were those of
     officers, yet obviously they could not be officers, for
     there were too many of them; they seemed, as it were,
     Tommies in heaven.  Had yet another regiment been conjured
     from our depleted Dominions?  I wondered, watching them
     move with such rhythm, such dignity, such serene
     consciousness of self-respect.  But I knew the colonial
     troops so well, and these were different; they were
     assured where the Australians were aggressive, self-
     possessed where the New Zealanders were turbulent.
     Then I heard an excited exclamation from a group of
     Sisters behind me.

     Look! Look! Here are the Americans!

     I pressed forward with the others to watch the United
     States physically entering the war, so God-like, so
     magnificent, so splendidly unimpaired in comparison with
     the tired, nerve-racked men of the British Army.  So these
     were our deliverers at last, marching up the road to
     Camiers in the spring sunshine!  There seemed to be
     hundreds of them, and in the fearless swagger of their
     proud strength they looked a formidable bulwark against
     the peril looming from Amiens.

     An uncontrollable emotion seized me as such emotions often
     seized us in those days of insufficient sleep; my eyeballs
     pricked, my throat ached, and a mist swam over the
     confident Americans going to the front.  The coming of
     relief made me realise all at once how long and how
     intolerable had been the tension, and with the knowledge
     that we were not, after all, defeated, I found myself
     beginning to cry.

Brittain always argued against the rules placed on her as a female
that would not apply to males.  One example she wrote about
happened during the war was when she was serving in a hospital in
France and her father wrote to her, "As your mother and I can no
longer manage without you, it is now your duty to leave France
immediately and return to Kensington."  Brittain wrote, "I read
those words with real dismay, for my father's interpretation of my
duty was not, I knew only too well, in the least likely to agree
with that of the Army, which had always been singularly unmoved by
the worries of relatives.  ...  I only knew that no one in France
would believe a domestic difficulty to be so insoluble; if I were
dead, or a male, it would have to be settled without me."  She
further wrote, "I find myself still hoping that if ... war breaks
out on a scale comparable to that of 1914, the organisers of the
machine will not hesitate to conscript all women under fifty for
service at home or abroad.  In the long run, an irrevocable
allegiance in a time of emergency makes decision easier for the
older as well as for the younger generation."

(She wrote this well before World War II.  Her hopes were not borne
out, though I suspect whatever women were serving or volunteering
in that war were not so cavalierly called home to tend to

Though her experiences during the war and with the League of
Nations afterwards eliminated much of her provincialism, she was
still able to write in 1933 of having acquaintances of "every shade
of religious conviction from Roman Catholicism to Christian
Science."  From the diversity of today's world, this seems very
narrow indeed, and reminds one of the famous comment by Dorothy
Parker that Katherine Hepburn "ran the gamut of emotions from A to

Some things seem bizarrely topical today.  Brittain writes of the
passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, which raised the age of
consent from 13 to 16, and removed "from the defense permitted to
the assaulter the plea of 'reasonable cause to believe' that the
child was over sixteen.  This passed over strong opposition, and
she rejoices, "I was conscious of quite a ferocious satisfaction
because the plea made by a few gallant Englishmen that our
liberties would be curtailed if the opportunities for attacking
female children were made more difficult had not succeeded."

[Note: Both the novel Tey mentions, THE ROSE OF RABY, and the
author, "Evelyn Payne-Ellis" are figments of Tey's imagination.
This makes me wonder how many of the sources cited in DAUGHTER OF
TIME were also fictional.  Most of the history books seem to be
described rather than defined by title and author, though the
descriptions and citations are fairly generic for the sort of book
Tey is describing.  Robert Piepenbrink says that the quotes
attributed to Sir Cuthbert Oliphant are "word for word from Sir
Charles William Chadwick Oman, a very distinguished historian of
the period."]



                                           Mark Leeper

           Books, like friends, should be few and well chosen.
                                           --Samuel Paterson