Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
12/28/18 -- Vol. 37, No. 26, Whole Number 2047

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 January (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        RED MOON by Kim Stanley Robinson (audio book review
                by Joe Karpierz)
        THE ADVOCATES (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        Super Powers (letters of comment by Radovan Garabik
                and Andre Kuzniarek)
        This Week's Reading (INSIDE THE THIRD REICH) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


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

January 10, 2019:
January 24, 2019: THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Cixin Liu
February 14, 2019: EDGE OF TOMORROW (2014) (a.k.a. LIVE. DIE.
        REPEAT) & ALL YOU NEED IS KILL by Hiroshi Sakurazaka
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 January (comments by
Mark R. Leeper)

Most of what I suggest here I suggest in the name of fun.  Every
once in a while I throw in a film I think is really powerful and
important.  At one time I considered A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (1966)
to be the best film that I had ever seen.  It is mostly all talk,
but Paul Scofield--one of the great actors of all time--plays Sir
Thomas More, a brilliant lawyer and a close friend of Henry VIII.
But in the name of his religion he cannot endorse Henry's divorce
of Catherine of Aragon and his (Henry's) subsequent marriage to
Anne Boleyn.  More wants to be inoffensive and simply insists on
remaining silent on Henry's behavior.  And Henry wants More's
endorsement no matter what he must do to get it.  The script is
beautifully written with More having almost superhuman self-
possession and clarity of thought and speech.  Robert Bolt, who
wrote the play, had previously written the screenplay for the
better-known LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.  Sir Thomas More, as created by
Bolt is for me one of the great heroes of cinema.  A MAN FOR ALL
SEASONS was directed by Fred Zinneman who directed great films like
HIGH NOON and THE DAY OF THE JACKAL.  Those are thrillers, but A
MAN FOR ALL SEASONS is a deep personal story and a great film.  And
if you happen to see parallels in the plot to current politics,
well, the film is 53 years old. What could the filmmakers possibly
know about our urgent events. This film [A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS

TCM will run a short festival Thursday nights into Friday mornings
the first four weeks of January. These will be films of the so-
called "Peplum" or "Sword and Sandal" genre.  Like December's FROM
HELL IT CAME, for the most part these were slipshod productions but
done with an absolutely straight face.  The subgenre was created by
imitators of HERCULES (1959).  They never got up into the quality
range of the Spaghetti Westerns, but they had no equivalent to the
Westerns' composer Ennio Morricone, who changed the face of film
music.  TCM will include a two non-Italian Peplum films from the
high end.  They are BEN-HUR (1959) and SPARTACUS (1960), also the
best film of the month.  The latter may be one of the most
politically important films ever made.  But I will not go into that
here.  The following are the very large collection of Peplum films
that TCM will be showing in January.

3   Thursday
8:00  PM  BEN-HUR (1959)
2:00  AM SPARTACUS (1960)
5:30  AM SLAVE, THE (1962)

10   Thursday
8:00  PM  Helen of Troy (1956)
10:15 PM  Damon and Pythias (1962)
12:15 AM  Colossus of Rhodes, The (1961)
2:45  AM  Minotaur, The (1960)
4:30  AM  Atlas (1961)

17   Thursday
8:00  PM  QUO VADIS (1951)
4:30  AM AMAZONS OF ROME (1963)

24   Thursday
8:00  PM  Hercules, Samson & Ulysses (1963)
9:45  PM  Tyrant of Lydia Against the Son of Hercules (1963)
11:30 PM  Terror of Rome Against the Son of Hercules (1964)
1:30  AM  Hercules Against the Mongols (1960)
3:15  AM  Hercules Against the Barbarian (1960)
5:00  AM  Tartars, The (1961)



TOPIC: RED MOON by Kim Stanley Robinson (copyright 2018, Orbit,
464pp, ASIN: B079L5PTZS; copyright 2018, Hachette Audio, 16 hours,
46 minutes, ASIN: B07HR1BGTD, narrated by Maxwell Hamilton, Joy
Osmanski, and Feordor Chin) (audio book review by Joe Karpierz)

Kim Stanley Robinson is something of an oddity in the field of
science fiction these days.  While the awards finalists lists are
dominated by a group of extremely diverse relative newcomers,
Robinson is old guard.  He doesn't fit the demographic of today's
genre writers.  He's a 66-year-old white male, one that is having a
nice late career surge.  While he's probably most well-known for
his Mars Trilogy of books from back in the 1990s (RED MARS, GREEN
MARS, BLUE MARS), his late period novels have garnered him a lot of
attention, making the Hugo finalist list with NEW YORK 2140 and
2312 (as an aside, I think a better book, AURORA, should have made
the list as well).

Robinson's latest book is RED MOON, a novel that is apparently in
the same timeline as that of New York 2140.  The moon has been
colonized mostly by the Chinese; they basically control the south
polar region of the moon, while the north polar region is left for
everyone else.  The year is 2047, a year that I felt was wildly
optimistic to have full colonization of our satellite until I read
that the Chinese are launching an expedition to the far side of the
moon, and I'm now wondering just how far off Robinson really is.

The story, such as it is, kicks off with an American bringing a
revolutionary (now that I think about it, that's a funny way of
putting it) quantum communications device to the moon as part of a
deal made with the Chinese administration there.  He gets caught up
in a successful assassination attempt, and thus begins the wild
ride of Fred Fredericks (the American) and his unlikely involvement
with a Chinese revolutionary named Qi as they traverse the moon
north to south and back again, and while they're at it, travel back
and forth from the Earth to the Moon as well.  But all that running
around the moon and the Earth have almost nothing to do with that
communications device.  That little item was just a way to get the
story started.

Robinson recently stated in an interview in Locus magazine that RED
MOON was about the Chinese colonization of the moon.  Quite
frankly, I don't buy that.  Qi's father is involved in the latest
Chinese dynastic succession on Earth.  Qi is a wild card in that
story.  Her father is involved, but she is extremely outspoken in
her opposition to the Party.  She is also pregnant, which happened
while on the moon and is not allowed.  She is sent to earth, along
with Fred, early on in the story to get her off the moon and hidden
so the embarrassment to her and her father can be hidden from the
authorities.  From that point on, the story deviates from that of
Fred and the communications device to that of the next great
Chinese dynastic succession.  One note about Qi's pregnancy.  I'm
not really sure what it adds to the story, unless I'm missing some
subtle point (always a possibility).  There certainly is a great
deal of symbolism between her pregnancy and the new regime on
Earth.  But beyond that, I'm at a bit of a loss.

And this is why I don't think this book is about the Chinese
colonization of the moon.  Just as Robinson originally wanted to
write a book about financial markets and ended up with NEW YORK
2140, he wanted to write a book about the next great Chinese
dynastic succession, and he was able to do so by setting it in the
future and showing how technological advances would affect that
succession, while at the same time showing that the succession
really still is a succession, no matter what causes and influence

Robinson is well known for being an ardent supporter of infodumps,
and is not shy about including them in all of his novels.  RED MOON
is no different, although this time around the infodumps are not
always about science--although we get more than our share about the
colonization of the moon.  They are about Chinese philosophy,
government, finances, history, and motivation.   They are about
Chinese society, and eventually how all these things led to where
we are in RED MOON.  To this reviewer, it all points to the fact
that Robinson wanted to write about the succession, not about moon
colonization.  The colonization was just a convenient vehicle for
telling his story.

Yes, I know, who I am to say what Robinson's motivation really was
for writing the book?  I can't argue with that point of view.  To
put a bit of a gentler spin on the novel, it sure seems to me that
he wanted to tell the succession story, and that I could be wrong
about that.

Don't get me wrong.  RED MOON is well written.  As was once put to
me about something else entirely, it's written in a way that would
make your high school literature teacher proud that you read it.
But like most of Robinson's other novels recently - the notable
exception being AURORA--it's light on traditional story telling
structure and plot.

As with NEW YORK 2140, multiple narrators are used in the audio
production.  I liked the way the multiple narrators were used in
that book, but not so much here in RED MOON, and I'm not sure why.
I guess they just didn't work for me this time around.   Also, I
feel like Joy Osmanski was under-utilized.  She read very few
chapters in comparison to the two male narrators.  In any event,
the narration was serviceable and worked well enough; it just
wasn't as outstanding as the narration in NEW YORK 2140.

I could say the same for the novel itself.   [-jak]


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

CAPSULE: This documentary is a serious look at the problems of
extreme poverty in the City of Los Angeles. It is a city with many
of the most successful corporations in the country but at the close
of 2018 there are more than 53,000 people living homeless on the
streets.  This is a look at these homeless who have very little
income and almost no political power.  It also looks at the people
who volunteer their time and money to improve the lives of the
destitute.  Directed by: Remi Kessler.  Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4)
or 4/10

Los Angeles is the home of many large and profitable corporations.
But in some ways it has more poverty than any other big city in the
United States.  When adjusted for the cost of living the median
income is $1300 a month.  There are tens of thousands of people
living on the streets in Los Angeles.  There are more than 53,000
homeless living in Los Angeles County disenfranchised. These people
are too easily ignored because their money goes to just surviving
so they have almost no political power of their own.  There are,
however, volunteers who are willing to stand up and advocate for
the well being and rights of the homeless.  This is a documentary
that looks at those disenfranchised and those who make sacrifices
to help them.

THE ADVOCATES looks at people living in poverty in Los Angeles.  It
introduces the viewer to a little of the history of the problem of
homelessness in the city. Also it examines those standing up for
the people living in these neighborhoods.  Examined are the
programs of support for those living on the street and for those
working at what are barely subsistence wages, one of which is an
organization that has in eight years prepared and served over half
a million meals to people on the streets.  It is highly stressful
to day after day deal with really unfortunate people in various
stages of hunger.  It is even more stressful to deal with issues of
substance abuse.  The growth of funds allocated to support low-
income housing has simply not kept pace with the costs of housing
for several decades.

The film goes into political wrangling on ballot issues that have
improved the lives of the homeless, and have funneled political
help in high poverty areas.  These are held toward late in the
film.  Remi Kessler injects a spirit of some optimism toward the
end of the film showing a ballot victory and the case of a homeless
man whose condition was significantly improved by the extensive
help of a volunteer.  The overall condition of the problem does
show improvement.  This however takes the viewer away from covering
a wide piece of the issues and concentrates only on a very narrow
one-person sliver of the problem.

I rate THE ADVOCATES a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: Super Powers (letters of comment by Radovan Garabik and
Andre Kuzniarek)

In response to comments on super powers in the 12/21/18 issue of
the MT VOID, Radovan Garabik writes:

[Daphne Eftychia Arthur  wrote,] "Heh. Me too!
Has to be a very light touch, slow movement parallel to the surface
increases the effect (and can be the difference between detecting
it or not), & it feels like a 60 Hz not-exactly-a-vibration."

I can confirm you are not the only one--I can also feel the
electricity sometimes, by brushing my fingertips gently along the
surface.  I am living in a 50Hz 230V region, it happens with only
some appliances (on my notebook it is rather noticeable since you
usually touch the notebook).  I assume it is an inductive coupling
of the mains frequency to the (perhaps unearthed) chassis, or very
badly filtered low voltage DC...

ObSF: Well, senses that detect electricity is SF enough ... but
there are people who implanted tiny magnets into their fingertips
and developed novel senses that feel magnetic fields, AC currents,
and ferromagnetic metals.  [-rg]

Andre Kuzniarek writes:

Jim Susky's theory is correct.  He says:

'I have noticed this myself on various items of audio equipment--in
my case detectable by lightly rubbing fingers on equipment
chassis's--but have never "tested" it. The "test" would be to
reverse the prongs on a two prong power plug and try again.'
and goes on:

'In the (not so) "old days", with equal width prongs, the plug
could be reversed thus putting the refrigerator enclosure (and
door) (and audio equipment chassis) at voltage significantly above
"neutral voltage"--which itself is normally close to "ground

I run into this all the time with old pinball machines I work on.
And my wife happens to like using an old metal percolator-style
coffee maker/pot, with equal-width prongs.  I felt that buzzy
sensation with it a few days ago, and tested it just now by
reversing the plug.  Indeed, the buzzy sensation went away.  [-ak]


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

[This is part three of three parts.]

In INSIDE THE THIRD REICH by Albert Speer (ISBN 978-0-684-82949-4),
Speer comments on various aspects of the war itself, particularly
the technical issues:

"Even though our programs had top priority, in September 1941 the
amounts of fuel assigned to them had to be reduced by a third, and
by January 1, 1942, to a sixth of our needs.  That is just one
example of how greatly Hitler had overextended his resources by
embarking on the Russian campaign."

"Actually, Professor Heisenberg had not given any final answer to
my question whether a successful nuclear fission could be kept
under control with absolute certainty or might continue as a chain
reaction.  Hitler was plainly not I delighted with the possibility
that the earth under his rule might be I transformed into a glowing

"On the suggestion of the nuclear physicists we scuttled the
project to develop an atom bomb by the autumn of 1942, after I had
again queried them about deadlines and been told that we could not
count on anything for three or four years.  The war would certainly
have been decided long before then."

"Peenemunde was not only our biggest but our most misguided

"The whole notion was absurd.  The fleets of enemy bombers in 1944
were dropping an average of three thousand tons of bombs a day over
a span of several months.  And Hitler wanted to retaliate with
thirty rockets that would have carried twenty-four tons of
explosives to England daily.  That was equivalent to the bomb load
of only twelve Flying Fortresses."

Speer is frank about his own culpability:

"For being in a position to know and nevertheless shunning
knowledge creates direct responsibility for the consequences--from
the very beginning."

"It has repeatedly surprised me, in later years, that scarcely any
anti-Semitic remarks of Hitler's have remained in my memory.  Out
of the scraps that remain, I can reconstruct what crossed my mind
at the time: dismay over the deviation from the image I wanted to
have of Hitler, anxiety over the increasing deterioration of his
health, hope for some letup of the struggle against the churches, a
certain puzzlement at his partiality for utopian-sounding remote
goals, all sorts of odd feelings--but Hitler's hatred for the Jews
seemed to me so much a matter of course that I gave it no serious

"But in the final analysis I myself determined the degree of my
isolation, the extremity of my evasions, and the extent of my

"Whether I knew or did not know, or how much or how little I knew,
is totally unimportant when I consider what horrors I ought to have
known about and what conclusions would have been the natural ones
to draw from the little I did know.  Those who ask me are
fundamentally expecting me to offer justifications.  But I have
none.  No apologies are possible."

"Hanke must have been speaking of Auschwitz.  During those few
seconds, while Hanke was warning me, the whole responsibility had
became a reality again.  Those seconds were uppermost in my mind
when I stated to the international court at the Nuremberg Trial
that as an important member of the leadership of the Reich, I had
to share the total responsibility for all that had happened.  For
from that moment on, I was inescapably contaminated morally; from
fear of discovering something which might have made me turn from my
course, I had closed my eyes."

"But what preys on my mind nowadays has little to do with the
standards of Nuremberg nor the figures on lives I saved or might
have saved.  For in either case I was moving within the system.
What disturbs me more is that I failed to read the physiognomy of
the regime mirrored in the faces of those prisoners--the regime
whose existence I was so obsessively trying to prolong during those
weeks and months.  I did not see any moral ground outside the
system where I should have taken my stand."

"Much as I believed in principle that as one of the leaders of the
regime I must take responsibility for its crimes, it was hard for
me at first to adjust to the reality."

"I have always thought it was a most valuable trait to recognize
reality and not to pursue delusions.  But when I now think over my
life up to and including the years of imprisonment, there was no
period in which I was free of delusory notions.  The departure from
reality, which was visibly spreading like a contagion, was no
peculiarity of the National Socialist regime.  But in normal
circumstances people who turn their backs on reality are soon set
straight by the mockery and criticism of those around them, which
makes them aware they have lost credibility.  In the Third Reich
there were no such correctives, especially for those who belonged
to the upper stratum.  On the contrary, every self-deception was
multiplied as in a hall of distorting mirrors, becoming a
repeatedly confirmed picture of a fantastical dream world which no
longer bore any relationship to the grim outside world.  In those
mirrors I could see nothing but my own face reproduced many times
over.  No external factors disturbed the uniformity of hundreds of
unchanging faces, all mine."

"But since then I had been bribed and intoxicated by the desire to
wield pure power, to assign people to this and that, to say the
final word on important questions, to deal with expenditures in the
billions.  I thought I was prepared to resign, but I would have
sorely missed the heady stimulus that comes with leadership."

Speer is even critical of his work in his own area of specialty,

"Nowadays, when I leaf through the numerous photos of models of our
one-time grand boulevard, I see that it would have turned out not
only crazy, but also boring."

"Whenever, nowadays, I look through the plans and the photos of the
models, even these varied parts of the avenue strike me as lifeless
and regimented.  When on the morning after my release from
imprisonment I passed one of these buildings on the way to the
airport, I saw in a few seconds what I had been blind to for years:
our plan completely lacked a sense of proportion."

"Designs of such scale naturally indicate a kind of chronic
megalomania, which is reason enough to dwell on these grandiose
plans.  Yet that broad boulevard, those new central railroad
stations with their underground communications, are not so
excessive by present-day standards when skyscrapers and public
buildings all over the world have reached similar proportions."

"During my imprisonment, this design, with its red mosaics, its
pillars, its bronze lions and gilded silhouettes, had assumed in my
memory a bright, almost pleasant character.  But when I once again
saw the color photographs of the model, after a lapse of more than
twenty-one years, I was struck by the resemblance to a Cecil B.  De
Mille set.  Along with its fantastic quality I also became aware of
the cruel element in this architecture.  It had been the very
expression of a tyranny."

"The more technical the world imposed on us by the war, the more
dangerous was this indifference of the technician to the direct
consequences of his anonymous activities."

"Witness my ironic reaction to the destruction of the Ministry in
the air raid of November 22, 1943: "Although we have been fortunate
in that large parts of the current files of the Ministry have
burned and so relieved us for a time of useless ballast, we cannot
really expect that such events will continually introduce the
necessary fresh air into our work.'"

At the same time, Speer also tries occasionally to make himself
less culpable than some might think:

"[In] November and December 1943, I addressed a letter to all
Gauleiters in which I recast most of my prewar philosophy: no more
pretentious artistic notions, but economy-mindedness; broad-scale
transportation planning to save the cities from traffic congestion;
mass production of housing, cleaning up the old quarters of the
cities, and establishing businesses in the city centers.  There was
no longer any talk of monumental buildings.  My enthusiasm for them
had faded, and so in all probability had Hitler's, for he let me
describe this new planning concept to him without the least

"At first the factory managers complained that the prisoners
arrived in a weakened condition and after a few months had to be
sent back, exhausted, to the regular camps.  Since their training
time alone required several weeks and instructors were scarce, we
could not afford to train a new group every few months.  In
response to our complaints the SS made considerable improvements in
the sanitary conditions and rations of the camps.  Soon, in the
course of my rounds through the armaments plants, I saw more
contented faces among the prisoners and better fed people."

And the Allies seem to have provided some basis for his feelings,
since he writes of the period while he was awaiting trial after the

"Although this meant that I was facing charges of the gravest sort,
one would never have known it from the behavior of the guards
toward me.  The Americans said cheerily: 'You'll soon be acquitted
and the whole thing forgotten.' Sergeant Williams increased my
rations so that, as he said, I would have my strength for the
trial, and the British commandant invited me for a drive the day we


                                           Mark Leeper

           Politics are not my concern... they impressed me as
           a dog's life without a dog's decencies.
                                           --Rudyard Kipling