Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
07/06/18 -- Vol. 37, No. 1, Whole Number 2022

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Happy Birthday, Mr. Mosca (Part 1) (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        "We Are All Destined to Die Confused" (comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)
        A.I. TALES (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        This Week's Reading (DAZZLED AND DECEIVED,
                AN UNKNOWN INDIAN) (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Happy Birthday, Mr. Mosca (Part 1) (comments by Mark
R. Leeper)

On July 16, 1958--just about 60 years ago--an event occurred that
affects some science fiction fans, including me, well, maybe just
me, just about every day.  A science fiction film was released that
caught me at just the right time in my life.  It influenced me for
the rest of the summer, the rest of the 1950s, and still affects me
just about every day.  It was a tragedy but it also glamorized the
work of a scientist.  A film can do that even if it is at heard a
slightly silly film.  The film was THE FLY.  I see THE FLY as
Oedipus Rex for a slightly younger set.  Andre Delambre, the
protagonist had exactly the life I would have styled for myself.
He had had it all and he lost it all in a few seconds of

This is a film that surprised even its producers.  The producers
knew the story was a little silly and expected only a modest return
on the film from a mostly teen audience.  Even the film's stars;
Vincent Price and Herbert Marshall, could not take THE FLY
seriously.  The audience, on the other hand, found that there was
much to respond to in the film.  THE FLY cost $350,000 to make and
grossed $3,000,000 on its release, considerably outstripping any
expectation.  Based on results of this film 20th Century Fox went
on to make several other science fiction films, mostly timed for
summer release.  I would contend that the reason this film had the
impact that it did is that it really is very much a mythic story
for the scientific age.  It is the tale of a man who has just about
anything a man could want and loses it all in a moment of hubris.
Helene and Andre Delambre, the major characters, have a warm and
loving relationship and they love life.  Andre himself just follows
his curiosity as his profession, and that provides enough so they
live very well.  And in one moment of pride and carelessness it was
all turned into horror.  The film was directed by Kurt Neumann, who
counted among his films several low-budget Tarzan movies,
ROCKETSHIP X-M and, more recently for Fox, SHE DEVIL and KRONOS.
With the possible exception of KRONOS, there is not much there to
suggest that he could have been responsible for how well THE FLY
resonated with audiences.  More likely it is the mythic elements
from the story.  There is genuine suspense in the film's mystery.
Helene's actions seem to be so out of character for her.  Every
conventional explanation has a good reason why it does not explain
the facts.  Andre had to have, at some level, cooperated with
Helene, even if only to the extent to show Helene how to run the
press.  Yet Andre should have been able to commit suicide by
himself had he wanted to.  Clearly they both must have suddenly
wanted Andre dead.  And that seems to make no sense.  This is all
just setting the viewer up for the explanation.

I will look at the story itself next week.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: "We Are All Destined to Die Confused" (comments by Evelyn
C. Leeper)

It used to be you went to a store to buy a shirt and had to choose
among colors like blue, green, or red.  Now your choices are Bonnie
Blue, Mosaic Blue, Riviera, Blue Curacao, Sky Blue, Baltic,
Limoges, Water Spout, and Tahiti Tea--and that's just blue.  There
is also a color called "Zinfandel"--I like to think it used to be
"Merlot" until the movie SIDEWAYS--in which the main character
detests Merlot--came out and then they changed the name.

I guess this is not terribly new.  Back in the 1990s, our
department was having a picnic and one of the (female) organizers
asked a couple of the men if "Salmon" was okay for the t-shirts.
They said it was, but when the shirts arrived, they looked at them
and said, "You got pink shirts?"  I mention the genders, because
there is certainly a theory/belief that women distinguish between a
lot more colors than men do.  If that was true then, it has
probably changed now that men's shirts come in this range of
colors.  (Actually, boys got boxes of Crayola crayons back when we
were young, so they should know at least those 64 colors.)

Then after you've navigated the rainbow, you check out (either on-
line or in the store) and you are asked to rate the transaction,
review the item, and possibly even fill out a survey.  Even the
Post Office does this.  I go to the Post Office once or twice a
week, and I am *not* going to fill out a survey every time.

(I go to the Post Office that often because I am selling on Amazon
and eBay, which leaves me in a bit of a Catch-22.  I would love for
my customers to leave ratings--well, good ones anyway :-)-- but I
hardly ever leave ratings myself.  The fact that anything less than
4 stars is considered a bad review and even 4 stars is considered

And I don't consider a chance to win $500 as sufficient incentive
to fill in a survey.  The only ones we do are Boston Market (15%
off your next order) and Burger King (free Whopper with purchase).
It's not much, but it is something.

Restaurants are also more confusing.  McDonald's and Panera have
both switched over to electronic screens for menus.  McDonald's is
at least relatively easy to navigate, especially since most people
had a passing acquaintance with their menu.  But we had been to
Panera only once or twice, and the first choice we had was not
anything like "sandwiches", "salads", or "pastries", but things
like "protein-rich meals".  They had a wall menu--hard-to-read with
older eyes.  They had paper menus on request--even harder to read!
We did eventually figure out what we wanted and ordered at the

We had the same problems at a couple of other places--if you are
unfamiliar with the menu, using the screen is very slow--often slow
enough to time you out!

Burger King and McDonald's also have messed up their wall menus--
instead of *a* menu on the wall, they have screens that change
every thirty seconds (or whatever).  So just as you're trying to
decide which burger you want, the screen changes to their chicken
offerings.  Or you look at the wall and don't see any milk shakes
listed--what, they discontinued milkshakes?  No, if you wait long
enough, they'll show up.  This means you have to stand there
reading the new menu a lot longer than you did the old.

And don't even get me started on K-pods.

As Mark says, "We are all destined to die confused."  [-ecl]


TOPIC: A.I. TALES (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

This is a collection of four unrelated science fiction stories with
downbeat views of the world we are creating today in which we
expect to live in the future.  The bleak point of view is strongly
reminiscent of the TV series "Black Mirror".  Each story is set in
the future but expresses fears of modern society and what it is
becoming.  I will give each film a rating from one to four.  A.I.
TALES is intended as a calling card for a film distributor Hewes
Pictures who are specializing in short films. And each film may
itself be a calling card film for its cast and crew.

I will give each film a rating of one to four, and I will give a
link to the IMDB for each film.



In "Seed" we see a world beset by over-population.  Nelson (played
by Nelson Lee who writes and directs) has very mixed emotions
today.  Today is his 40th birthday and also his last birthday.  The
state has taken care of Nathan and his family in what looks like a
very comfortable lifestyle.  Today the price tag for his lifestyle
must be paid.  Nathan has agreed to commit suicide and to let
someone else take his place using resources.  Nelson Lee, who is
the central actor, director, and writer, gives this situation some
deep consideration.  The plotline is dark and slow, and it is very
reminiscent of LOGAN'S RUN.  Rating: 2-1/2.



This is a short story of a young woman who is taking a job at a
place far away from the home she has known.  She seems likable and
her friends will very much miss her.  But she seems unable to
relate to even those people who are closest.  In the end this is a
science fiction story only because of what her plans are.  That
seems to be insufficient to interest and satisfy a ready-made
science fiction audience.  It just seems to say that in the future
we will have more choices than we have today.  Rating: 2


"Phoenix 9"

We see two people watching on video as people somewhere are seem to
be in panic mode.  It becomes clear for the audience that the world
has been totally annihilated in a nuclear war.  Years later bands
of a few survivors are fighting each other for food.  What little
is left is considered a treasure. A band of survivors has heard
there is a colony of people alive somewhere out west.  They are
walking the two thousand miles to get to this community and on the
day the story takes place they have walked a thousand miles and are
half way home.  But today has a surprise in store for these
pilgrims.  But it may not be as big a surprise as our pilgrims are
hoping.  We reach an ironic denouement.  Rating: 2



This is the one film of the four that has an actor I recognize,
Eric Roberts.  The story here is very hard to follow.  It has
something to do with time travel.  There was a killing in 1984 by
what appears to be somebody from the military.  With the use of a
time machine our main character tries to prevent the killing from
happening.  Rating: 2


Incidentally, in the entire film there is no reference to
artificial intelligence.

Hawes Pictures reports, "Hewes Pictures is excited to announce the
theatrical and digital release of A.I Tales on July 13.  The
theatrical season kicks off at the Black Box Theater in Los
Angeles, July 13-19th.  The VOD will be available via Amazon day-



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

978-0-300-17896-8) had a great idea for a book, but poorly
executed.  A book like that cries out for photographic illustration
throughout to demonstrate all the various animals, military
camouflage, etc.  While DAZZLED AND DECEIVED does have 34 color and
black-and-white photographs, they are all on a signature of glossy
pages in the middle, and not referenced at all in the text, e.g.,
the text about the lobster moth does not tell you to look at Plate
14, and the index just lists "Moths" without telling you what page
the text about the lobster moth is on.  Given that some of the
photographs are black-and-white, and also that most of early
military camouflage was being looked at from black-and-white
reconnaissance photographs, a lot more could have been included on
the text pages themselves.

That said, it still has something to offer the reader if one is
willing to accept descriptions of camouflage rather than actual

I have been reading DEFINING MOMENTS IN BOOKS edited by Lucy Daniel
(ISBN 978-1-844-03605-9) which has hundreds of paragraphs on
important books, writers, characters, and moments in 20th century
literary history.  Not surprisingly, this has resulted in books
being added to my reading list.  THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN UNKNOWN
INDIAN by Nirad C. Chaudhuri (ISBN 9778-0-201-15576-1) was one of
these, and when it showed up at the Bryn Mawr book sale less than a
week after I put it on the list, it just seemed serendipitous.
Written in 1951 (shortly after Partition), it covers Chaudhuri's
life through 1921, albeit with a few references to the politics of
Partition.  Chaudhuri has been accused of too much Anglophilia,
although he was also supportive of the right-wing nationalist
movement in India.  Some of this is apparent in THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
OF AN UNKNOWN INDIAN, of course, but mostly it is an utterly
enthralling portrait of India--or rather, one Bengali's experience
of Bengal and Kolkata--in the first two decades of the 20th

One of the most obvious examples of referencing the later history
of the region is Chaudhuri's discussion of the dissension over the
British partition of the Bengal Presidency (subdivision) in 1905
into Eastern and Western Bengal; the two were re-united in 1911.


                                           Mark Leeper

           I think they should have a Barbie with a buzz cut.
                                           --Ellen DeGeneres