Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
10/26/18 -- Vol. 37, No. 17, Whole Number 2038

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
                Lectures, etc. (NJ)
        My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in November (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        SOLIS (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        MURDERS IN THE ZOO (1933) (film retrospective
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        Profanity (letters of comment by Gary Labowitz,
                Lee Beaumont, and Rincewind)
        Gender Pronouns (letter of comment by Gary Labowitz)
        This Week's Reading (PRIDE AND PROMETHEUS) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


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

        FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley (novel), Middletown Public
        Library, 5:30 PM
November 15: HOW TO CHANGE YOUR MIND by Michael Pollan;
     also "Oceanic" and "Reasons to Be Cheerful" by Greg Egan,
     Old Bridge Public Library, 7:00 PM
December 13: THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (film) and "Who Goes
        There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr. (short story), Middletown
        Public Library, 5:30 PM
December 20: TBD, Old Bridge Public Library, 7:00 PM
January 24, 2019: THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Cixin Liu
March 28, 2019: WE by Yevgeny Zamyatin (1920)
May 23, 2019: DIASPORA by Greg Egan
     by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
September 26, 2019: TBD from Europe/Latin America/Africa/Canada
November 28, 2019: THE SLEEPER WAKES by H. G. Wells (1910)
January 23, 2020: TBD from Europe/Latin America/Africa/Canada
March 26, 2020: TBD by Edgar Rice Burroughs
May 28, 2020: TBD from Europe/Latin America/Africa/Canada
July 23, 2020: TBD by Jules Verne
September 24, 2020: TBD from Europe/Latin America/Africa/Canada
November 19, 2020: Rudyard Kipling:
     "A Matter of Fact" (1892)
     "The Ship That Found Herself" (1895)
     ".007" (1897)
     "Wireless" (1902)
     "With the Night Mail [Aerial Board of Control 1]" (1905)
     "As Easy as A.B.C. [Aerial Board of Control 2]" (1912)
     "In the Same Boat" (1911)

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:


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

(All times are listed in the Eastern Time Zone)

Well, when you read this Halloween and October will be nearly over.
And Turner is headed back to more serious films, but perhaps no
less fun.  One favorite is the film ROBIN AND MARIAN (1976).

They say that all good things must come to an end sooner or later.
In this film we return to the man who had been the callow young
defender of the poor, Robin Hood.  This is the story of Robin
Hood's last adventure.  Robin spent his early life defending King
Richard's throne from the ravages of evil King John.  Now late in
his life Robin is realizing that Richard was no better a king than
King John would have been.  Returning to Sherwood Forest he sees
what time has done to his men and to Marian.  And once again he has
to fight the Sheriff of Nottingham.  Time has not done a lot to
tame the Sheriff of Nottingham, played by Robert Shaw.  Sean
Connery plays Robin Hood, Audrey Hepburn is Maid Marian, and
Richard Harris is Richard the (not so) Lionheart.

As the film opens King Richard has heard a ridiculous urban legend
(if one can apply that term to something in the Middle Ages) that a
worthless old castle actually hides a giant nugget of gold.
Richard tells the still faithful Robin to kill the old man who
lives in the castle and to fetch the gold.  Robin cannot fetch what
does not exist.  Soon the old man and the king are both dead and
Robin and Little John are headed back to Sherwood to see if they
can find Robin's old heartthrob Maid Marian. What follows is a
blustery adventure combined with a serious look at the implications
of aging.  Not an easy pairing.
[Friday, November 23, 6:00 PM]

In AMERICA AMERICA (1963) Elia Kazan tells the story of how his
uncle Stavros travelled mostly on foot across Turkey in order to
fulfill his greatest wish, to migrate to America.  Much of the trip
involved presented very hard problems and more than a few dangers.
He seems to have lived most of his life in that one seemingly
endless journey.  His family had scraped together what small
valuables they had to pay for his dream.  Some of his adventures
are comic some are tragic.  The film is full of Old World Turkish
charm, which is precisely what Stavros wants to leave behind.
AMERICA AMERICA is a big, big film.  It is big in time at 168
minutes long.  It is a big story.  It is about how the dedication
of a young man to his ambition changes the history of his family.
It is about the cost of that dream.  It is an especially important
film at a time when the country he was so desperately seeking is
questioning its own attitude toward immigrants.
[Sunday, November 18, 10:00 PM]

What is the best film of the month?  I have to go with AMERICA
AMERICA.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: SOLIS (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: Talk about your bad mornings after.  Asteroid miner Troy
Holloway wakes up one day and finds his living quarters are almost
too hot to be used.  And it is getting hotter.  It seems he has
survived an accident of some kind, but worse is to come.  Much
worse.  He is actually in an escape capsule, but one he cannot
control and he is drifting directly into the sun.  He will burn or
broil unless he can find a way to turn the path of his flight.  His
only connection to his people is Control, a voice he talks to on a
bad radio connection.  The film is really in need of better sound
editing.  Directed by: Carl Strathie; Written by: Carl Strathie.
Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

The viewer (who might better be called "the listener") can follow
along with the story only by listening to the voices of Troy
Holloway (played by Steven Ogg) and Commander Roberts (never seen
but who represents Control) and seeing what Troy does with (or
against) Control's orders.  Their conversation tells you about the
two people and about what is happening in the pod.  Take away their
communications and all that is left is a large pile of special
effects.  But taking away the conversation is exactly what the
sound mixer does.  You hear Troy say something indistinct and
Roberts says something muddled and then you see some sort of fiery
images as a special effect.  I suspect that much of the audience
will be left with a lot of special effects and with not much of a
coherent story.  I cannot speak for the whole audience, but I was
one of those left with special effects for much of the film.  The
special effects are generally simple and inexpensive, but they get
the job done sufficiently.  This film is a throwback to the days
when not much effects work was needed.  To get the full effect of
the visuals, this film shows a lot of scenes washed in red.  Red is
the primary color through most of the film.  There appeared to me
to be one problem.  There should have been more solar flares and

The film has little pieces of homage to films not very old yet.
Thu film shows only one person ever on screen, much like the
claustrophobic film LOCKE.  The film might be even better compared
with GRAVITY with its one person trying to save his life.  The
treating of the problem as a scientific question is not unlike what
we saw in THE MARTIAN.

Mr. Ogg does seem to have one thing in common with the old steel-
jawed heroes of science fiction film heroes of the past.  Neither
seems to break a sweat.  The film would probably be much better if
the sound mixer made the dialog easier to understand.  I rate SOLIS
a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

Release date: will be reaching theaters and VOD on October 26,

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: MURDERS IN THE ZOO (1933) (film retrospective by Mark R.

CAPSULE: A world-famous wild animal trapper travels all over the
planet to find animals for his zoo.  What the world does not know
about him is that he is insanely jealous of his wife and plans
horrific deaths for those who might want her.  When he is afraid
that his wife has cheated on him he murders the people he suspects
and lets the zoo animals take care of the remains.  The Paramount
film stars will-be horror actor Lionel Atwill.  Directed by ex-
silent director and actor A. Edward Sutherland; Written by: Seton
I. Miller, Philip Wylie.  Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10
Paramount is known for its 1932 horror production ISLAND OF LOST
SOULS, one of the greatest early sound horror films.  It took place
against a jungle-like background.  What is not so well remembered
is that the following year they made another grisly horror film
with another tropical setting.  Lionel Atwill plays the great wild
animal collector and zoologist Dr, Eric Gorman, who collects more
wild and dangerous animals than his zoo can safely handle.  He is
world-famous for his successful safaris.  What is less known about
him is that he is a psychotic who is jealous of any man who could
possibly steal his wife's attentions.

In the early 1930s Universal was making effective horror films like
FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA, and THE MUMMY, but the audience would know
they were looking at a normal human and a thick covering of makeup.
Paramount was showing real dangerous animals in the hopes that
would make them seem more effective that they were real and
threatening animals that did not require hours in the makeup chair.
Gorman's favorite murder weapon is the deadly black mamba snake.

As the film opens Gorman is having vengeance on another man whom he
caught kissing his wife.  Gorman sews together the lips of the man
in the style of a shrunken head.  Then Gorman is preparing to
return to the United States carrying on his shoulder a huge chip.

MURDERS AT THE ZOO is a fairly typical murder story, but for the
fact that the devices used to kill are animals that really exist.
It is a short B-movie only 63 minutes.  What is more far too much
of this short film is spent with the zoo's new publicity agent,
played by comedian Charlie Ruggles.  Ruggles could be a funny
comedian at the right time and place.  He was most definitely not
in the right time and place.  While people are being brutally
killed in shocking scenes Ruggles is holding up the plot while he
clowns around.  He manages to take shocking plot twists and make
them simply irritating.  And though Ruggles does nothing to move
the plot along, he receives top-most billing.

Director A. Edward Sutherland was a director and actor in the
silent days.  That may account for the long, silent stretches in
the film.  Still, the horror and the comedy do not work well
together.  I give MURDERES IN THE ZOO a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: Profanity (letters of comment by Gary Labowitz, Lee
Beaumont, and Rincewind)

In response to Mark's comments on profanity in the 10/19/18 issue
of the MT VOID, Gary Labowitz writes:

On the use of profanity: I was at a science fiction meeting a
number of years back (maybe 35 - 40) where we had a speaker who was
discussing profanity in use in a new book she had written.  I don't
remember the author's name, but it was a woman who came down to
Philly from Boston or New York.  My memory fails me on the details.

However, her comments included her thesis that sometimes one simply
must use "bad wordies" when it is necessary to make clear and
forceful what was being described.  Her example was a line from her
new book where she was describing a building at an old, respected
university.  She didn't want the common "ivy covered, old but well
kept" kind of description but she wanted to give the feeling that
it was old, had a continuity about it, but was alive with all the
foibles of life.  Her sentence included the phrase "...with
generations of birds, f**king under the eaves." Very evocative.
Her point, at that time was that she didn't want to use other terms
she had tried, like "reproducing under the eaves," or "procreating
under the eaves," and some others as being too clinical or dull.
She insisted that the term "f**king" hit the mark and she decided
it just HAD to be used.  It seemed that all agreed, especially her

Being a cantankerous citizen, I thought about this quickly and
suggested another answer.  I offered up that I thought a good
substitute would have been "...with generations of birds, getting
laid under the eaves." This wasn't taken with much disapproval from
the crowd.  Oh well, I thought it was nicer.  And look where her
approach (and lots of others) has gotten us.  [-gl]

Lee Beaumont writes:

I believe we are most expressive when we use swear words simply as
vocabulary words.  As with any vocabulary word, it becomes boring
and unexpressive to overuse any particular word.  Also, we restrict
our range of expression when we artificially omit words from our
vocabulary.  Too often people use swear words in an attempt to
shock, gain attention, or demonstrate their autonomy.  When a swear
word is chosen for its shock value, nuances of expression are lost.
Describing him as my F***ing boss rather than as my tyrannical
ignorant boss overlooks an opportunity to be precise.  Choosing
prissy euphemisms when a well-know swear word would be authentic is
also annoying.  [-lrb]

Mark responds:

But a curse word is not a vocabulary word.  Vocabulary words are of
limited range.  I don't think there are many words whose definition
is more than a page in the Oxford English Dictionary.  On the other
hand a swear word can be used to apply to an unbounded set of
meanings.  Anybody can use it to apply to just about any definition
including contradictory definitions.  And because it usage is so
loose it means really nothing.  A word that can mean anything means
nothing.  [-mrl]

Rincewind writes:

The general attitude on cursing reminds me of a line in the film
BUTTERFLIES ARE FREE; the heroine has brought her director to the
apartment of the blind folk singer she has started a relationship
with.  The singer's mother, an award winning author of books with a
blind protagonist based on her son is listening as the director
describes the play the girl is going to be in:

"The curtain comes up and Stephane is naked, writhing on her back,
dying of a drug overdose!"

MOTHER: "And you expect people to pay to watch this?"

DIRECTOR: "Mrs. Douglas, this is life!"

MOTHER: "So is diarrhea, but I don't consider it entertainment!"



TOPIC: Gender Pronouns (letter of comment by Gary Labowitz)

In response to Evelyn's comments on gender pronouns in the
"Murderbot" series in the 10/19/18 issue of the MT VOID, Gary
Labowitz writes:

The question of sex-reference has bothered me for a long time.
While in college I wrote essays on the use of male pronouns when
the sex of an entity is unknown.  I was taught, by the male
dominated, historical educational system, that you use "him" or
"her" when known and "him" when unknown or mixed.  Hmmmm.  Along
comes "women's lib" objecting to it always being male.  (I refer to
sex here, because the determination is based on ones DNA and not the
social desires one wants to be treated as.  That would be
gender.) Of course, if you use gender, it becomes ambiguous at
times who exactly is being spoken about.  I still find it rasping
in my mind to refer to a male (sex) as "her" (gender).  I always
argued that the use of the grammatical term "him" was not referring
to a male in the sense of "a person with a penis." But it becomes
confusing to me to say "Alice got on his motorcycle and left,"
because, well, was it a man or a woman according to the DNA?

I have dealt with a number of transgendered, transgendering,
crossdressers, sex impersonators, etc.  for quite a while,
counseling them at meetings and in the theater.  I even edited a
journal for a mixed gender social group for about two years when I
was actively counseling.  (Mostly nice persons, with the usual mix
of pains in the groin types.  See, I'm not sexist; it doesn't
always have to be "...  in the ass," by which most people mean
"arse,." or "bum."

Anyway, I have seen many attempts to get out of this mess, which
currently stands with dictionaries (which are descriptive rather
than proscriptive) now using the plural "their" to replace "his or
her." Example: "Will any student knowing the answer please raise
their hand." I always picture a classroom with a big sponge hand in
the back that belongs to the class as a whole and one of the
students raises it.  That would be their hand.

Another suggestion I read seemed okay to me.  It was to drop the
"th" or "h" from personal pronouns without referring to the gender.
Thus, instead of "his, her, and their" you use "is, er, and eir."
It's almost the way we speak.  "Give 'em the business.  Give 'er a
poke.  Give im a punch." When you say it, it's about right.  "A
student should raise eir hand." That keeps it singular and gender
non-specific.(It make one sound Irish!)  It could be written "A
student should raise 'eir hand."

Simple? Certainly easier to switch to than metric (which we will do
Any Day Now.)

Nice issue.  Now I must go out and find me a Murderbot book.
Sounds intriguing!  [-gf]


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

PRIDE AND PROMETHEUS by John Kessel (ISBN 978-1-4814-8147-2) is a
(non-humorous) mash-up of Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and
Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN.  He does this by having Mary Bennet
(the most "scholarly" and least written about of the Bennet
sisters) meet Victor Frankenstein and become involved in his
conflict with the Creature.  I put "scholarly" in quotes because
Austen portrays her as someone who thinks she is more intelligent
and profound than she is.  In PRIDE AND PROMETHEUS, which takes
place several years later, Mary recognizes this failing in herself,
and also that even recognizing it, she cannot completely overcome

Kessel has an understanding of both PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and
FRANKENSTEIN.  In fact, he has a more perceptive view of Austen's
characters than Austen did.  Austen crafted each character to be a
certain type, but the interactions, and the reactions of others,
were not as well thought through.  As described from Mary's point
of view:

"Elizabeth's place in the family relative to Mary's--and her other
sisters'--was evident to all.  She was the stable center of their
emotional whirlwinds.  Their father's favorite, she had his quick
wit and sardonic view of society, but she also possessed a heart
that could be moved.  Unlike Kitty and Lydia, Lizzy had never been
unkind to Mary, but at some point Mary had realized that Lizzy
spent their time together stifling her annoyance at Mary's hopeless
pomposity, her inability to get beyond her copybook morality, and
her vanity at thinking herself wise.

"Mary envied Lizzy's adroitness.  Lizzy could say unexpected things
and, though she might offend some people, always came out all
right, whereas Mary, saying things in no way offensive, drew
sidelong glances.  Lizzy had despised Darcy and then she had
married him, and yet no one in the family thought her a poor judge
of character.  Mary had admired Mr. Collins and then come to
despise him, yet she got no credit for an increase of sense."

Kessel also has some thoughts on aspects of Shelley's "philosophy"
as expressed, or rather, not expressed or even considered.  For
example, regarding creating a wife for the Creature without regard
to *her* feelings is something Kessel also addresses.  He (in the
character of Mary Bennet) observes that the female Creature was
created for the male (Adam) without asking her what she thought
about it, and Adam names her "Eve" rather than her choosing her own
name.  However, Mary "rationalizes" this by observing that in
English society of the early 19th century, women were often given
to men in marriage without much regard for their feelings in the

Kessel has captured both PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and FRANKENSTEIN,
while adding a modern sensibility to the characters and plot.  I
strongly recommend PRIDE AND PROMETHEUS.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           Never fight an inanimate object.
                                           --P. J. O'Rourke