Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
02/15/19 -- Vol. 37, No. 33, Whole Number 2054

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Free E-Book of New Astronomical Science Fiction
        Parkinson's and Me (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        TERRAN TOMORROW by Nancy Kress (audio book review
                by Joe Karpierz)
        PATRICK (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        Golf (letter of comment by Peter Rubinstein)
        California (letter of comment by Dorothy J. Heydt)
        Theodore Roosevelt (letter of comment by Jim Susky)
        This Week's Reading (PASSING STRANGE and THE JEWEL AND HER
                LAPIDARY) (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Free E-Book of New Astronomical Science Fiction

DIAMONDS IN THE SKY, edited by Mike Brotherton, is available in
various formats at:

DIAMONDS IN THE SKY includes fourteen original stories, by such
authors as Mary Robinette Kowal, David Levine, and Geoffrey
A. Landis.


TOPIC: Parkinson's and Me (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

This is the most serious column I have ever written for the MT
VOID.  Readers may have noticed that my writing of columns for
VOID has become less eloquent and frequently more awkward.  About
thirteen months ago I started hitting writer's block. Also I was
taking longer to write plain text.  I did not know what was going
wrong, but I was finding it harder to get my writing done.
Frequently it just seemed to me to be loss of eloquence and
attacks of writer's block.

Seemingly unrelated was that when I would go out walking my left
hand on its own would start twitching as if it were winding a
mechanical wristwatch.  (Does anybody remember wristwatches with
springs?)  In any case since I had seen people who twitched as
they got older, I assumed I was just ageing and picking up
twitches along the way.  I had also picked up another ageing habit
of drooling.  I could not imagine that they had the same cause,
but I watched it happen to me with certain amazement.

I had told my doctor about the twitch and he did not seem too
concerned about it.  I was not too concerned about it either.
Several of my friends had reached their mid-sixties and had become
ill from one thing or another.  I was a lucky one and I did not
seem to have any serious medical problems.  I had been okay and I
thought of the twitch to have some mild cause.

I told my doctor about the twitch a second time and told him that
my balance also seemed less steady.  That seemed to concern him a
little more and his response was to refer me to a neurologist.

I went to a neurologist and if I remember correctly his first words
to me were that I had Parkinson's disease. (a.k.a. PD, a.k.a.
Parkinson's, a.k.a. Parkinson, a.k.a. Michael J. Fox Disease).  I
had heard of this condition before, but I just barely knew it
existed.  It turned out that every symptom I reported was actually
also a known symptom of Parkinson.  One, I am unconsciously
drooling.  Most people unconsciously swallow frequently when their
mouth is moist.  PD victims get the swallow signal only about half
as frequently.  With less spit swallowed, more comes out the front,
hence the embarrassing drool.

PD is a progressive brain disease.  That means that it will not get
better with time and it will almost certainly get worse.  There are
drugs that allow some control of PD problems but they usually
become less and less effective with time.

I can still do some writing, but the words have a much harder time
coming.  When I type I get a lot of single letters that become
double letters or letters that I thought I had typed somehow never
made it to the paper.

I will try to keep up with my writing for the VOID but the typing
is a lot harder than it used to be and the muse may too frequently
be out to lunch.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: TERRAN TOMORROW by Nancy Kress (copyright 2018, Tor, 329pp
(Kindle edition), ISBN: 0765390353, copyright 2018, Blackstone
Audio, Inc. 10 hours 58 minutes, ASIN: B07HHGJKMH, narrated by
Marguerite Gavin) (audio book review by Joe Karpierz)

It's not often these days that a major writer--any writer, for that
matter--publishes two full-length novels in one year.  2018 saw
Martha Wells publish *three* novellas in her "Murderbot" series
(two of which I have read), but I suspect that like Kress and the
last two books in the "Yesterday's Kin" series, she already had
them in the pipeline.  TERRAN TOMORROW, the third and final (or is
it?) book in the "Yesterday's Kin" series brings the story she
wanted to tell to a conclusion, but she has certainly left the door
open for further exploration of the future of humanity.

At the end of IF TOMORROW COMES, the diplomatic mission that went
to World (or Kindred) departed that planet to head back to  Earth
without the great amount of help they thought they would have, as
the people of Kindred were not as advanced as was  originally
thought.  The remaining humans and 5 Kindred traveled to Earth to
find the planet completely changed.  It is 28 years later, as each
one way trip had a 14-year time jump added into due to the
technology of a ship that is an enigma to everyone.

What they find is devastation.  More than 95% of the population of
the planet has been destroyed by a radical group trying to purge
the Earth of humanity in order to allow the planet to recover and
start anew.  There is no longer a United States government; order
is kept by what's left of the military, which continually fends off
attack from "New America".  The Gaiists--the aforementioned radical
group, unleashed a virus that killed most of the population.  Some
were immune--they can live in the outdoors, while the rest must
live in domes and wear protective suits while travelling outside
the domes.  It is an uneasy way of life, to say the least.

There is surprise and disappointment at the travellers' return.
Surprise that they even came home at all, and disappointment that
there is no technological help coming with the Kindred.  And of
course, there is resentment of the Kindred because they are
strangers and more mouths to feed in a time of low supplies; life
is hard enough as it is, and now there are new folks getting in the
way and using up what is already needed by every one else.  And to
top it all off, people are falling into comas, and no one knows
why.  Of course the returning folks and the Kindred are blamed.

I suspect that when you come right down to it, we've seen this
story before, and multiple times.  The idea of returning travellers
being distrusted by those they came back to is nothing new in
science fiction, literature in general, and just about any other
form of entertainment.

Kress is playing a very long game here, I think.  I had my "ah-hah"
moment when the first coma victim awakened.  There is so much we
don't know about who built the spaceships--indeed, who is behind
all the technology that is above the characters' understanding.  We
may have *some* idea at the end, but even that's not clear.  There
are also unanswered questions about the military government and New
America.  There are many reasons to believe that this is not the
end of the story.  It's the end of *this* story, but not the end of
the *STORY*.  I suspect there will be more to come.  And for once,
I'm actually curious as to what happens next.

As I said in my review of IF TOMORROW COMES, Marguerite Gavin is a
delightful narrator, and I'm glad she was back for the third and
final book in this trilogy.

TERRAN TOMORROW is another solid and satisfying outing from Nancy
Kress.  It's well worth your time.  [-jak]


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

CAPSULE: Just when it seems that no more can go wrong in Sarah's
life she inherits Patrick, an extremely neurotic pug.  Patrick has
an almost supernatural ability to get in Sarah's way.  Sarah wanted
to bring someone new into her life, not this small wave of
destruction.  The plot is familiar and reminiscent of Disney films
of the 1960s (updated perhaps), but the story is at least a little
heartwarming.  Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10

PATRICK is one of those pro-relationship films (can I call that a
subgenre?) that says that any relationship you have is better than
being alone or with a flawed relationship.  That is the message of
films as memorable as THE ODD COUPLE.  But it is also the message
of PATRICK.  English Sarah (played by Beattie Edmondson) is losing
control of her life.  She has wanted to graduate law school, but
that is not working out for her.  She has decided to become a high
school teacher (I think they call that "sixth form.")

Now there is a new problem for her.  Her grandmother died and left
her a hyperactive dog, a pug named Patrick.  She has to be in
school all day, but somebody has to take care of the dog all day or
in the evening there will not be much of a home to come back to.
Everything will be chewed, torn, or otherwise destroyed.  But just
having a pug has attracted the romantic attention of two men (Ed
Skrein and Tom Bennett).  Odd touch: Sarah has a hard time taking
care of a dog, but seems to have no trouble caring for a boat.

All dogs are cute.  A pug with its crushed in face is no exception.
But pugs are well down on the list, so they rarely show up in
films.  "Pug ugly" is a commonly used expression.  The film is
being distributed in part by Disney Studios, and the film has a bit
of the feel that Disney films had in the 1960s.  It is in spirit
more adult than films like THAT DARN CAT, but it has that sort of

I had one problem that the reader may not.  Some of the characters
have thick British accents that just do not come across.  The story
is cute and pleasant enough, but the plot is stale material.  I
rate PATRICK a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.

Release date: PATRICK is in theaters on February 15th

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: Golf (letter of comment by Peter Rubinstein)

In response to Evelyn's review of THE BULLY PULPIT in the 02/08/19
issue of the MT VOID, Peter Rubinstein writes:

[Evelyn writes,] "in those days, golfers *walked* the course rather
than rode around in a gold cart."

You may have a somewhat distorted view of the wealth of the typical
golfer. I generally try to use the silver carts in order to save on

Evelyn responds:

Arggh!  The problem with auto-correct is that it's perfectly happy
with the *wrong* word as long as it *is* a word.  Clearly, that
should have read "rather than rode around in a golf cart."  [-ecl]


TOPIC: California (letter of comment by Dorothy J. Heydt)

In response to Mark's comments on California in the 02/08/19 issue
of the MT VOID, Dorothy J. Heydt writes:

This year, actually, we're getting lots of rain on the lowlands
and lots of snow on the Sierra ... and there's even been snow on
some of the lower mountains.  We drove to Concord this afternoon
to look for a replacement toner cartridge (didn't find it), and
Mount Diablo had patches of snow all over its upper third.

It's all going to fill the reservoirs and replenish the water
table.  What we need to do, and are beginning to do, is to find
additional ways of storing water against years of minimal
precipitation, and we're beginning to do that.  E.g., when rain
falls on farmland or orchards to the point of making puddles,
rather than drain it off, leave it standing till it sinks in.
More reservoirs, stronger dams on the reservoirs we've got (you
probably read about the damage to the Oroville dam, which had to
be repaired as quickly as possible while letting a lot of water
drain past it).  All this takes inventiveness, determination, and
a lot of money, all of which we've got.

So don't worry about us too much.  [-djh]


TOPIC: Theodore Roosevelt (letter of comment by Jim Susky)

In response to Evelyn's comments on Theodore Roosevelt in the
02/08/19 issue of the MT VOID, Jim Susky writes:

Thanks to Evelyn for another in her series of reviews on American

I am forever grateful to David Brooks for his notice of Morris'
1979 book THE RISE OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT--which made me realize
*why* his visage appears on Mount Rushmore.  In that bio (the
first of three volumes) Morris may have cherry-picked TR's life--
and thereby wrote a "hagiography"--but in doing so made me newly
aware of an American Hero.

Actual heroes have warts, however, which make them all the more
real and interesting, so Dr. Kearns' bio will soon grace my

When TR ran the navy as Assistant Secretary (while the titular
Secretary stayed home tending flowers) he had indeed "never seen
combat".  Within 15 months of his appointment he and the First US
Volunteer Cavalry Regiment (a.k.a. "Rough Riders") dodged bullets
in Cuba in the Spanish-American War.

TR thus became the first in his immediate family to fire "shots in
anger", as did his sons and theirs.  Despite (or because of) that,
he undoubtedly romanticized war.  His brief work beefing up the
Navy helped to later assure that Panama became a stable American
client (over Columbia's objections).  As a result Panama and the
Canal became a Client of the World.  Such was a salutary effect of
military power.  [-js]


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

PASSING STRANGE by Ellen Klages (ISBN 978-0-7653-8952-7) was filed
in the fiction section of my library, rather than in the science
fiction and fantasy section, and honestly, that's probably right.
There are two small bits of fantasy in the main body of the
novella, and a fantasy element in the framing story, but none of
these is necessary for the plot.  (In fact, the fantasy in the
framing story seems more to provide a way to give a satisfying
ending to the story than anything else.)  There is also a meta-
connection, with one of the characters being an artist for the pulp

This is a pity, because the main plot is strong enough to stand on
its own.  The evocation of 1940s San Francisco is good, and the
characters are well-drawn.  I recommend this for these elements,
not for the fantastical component.

And just for completeness' sake, let me say that THE JEWEL AND HER
LAPIDARY by Fran Wilde (ISBN 978-0-7653-8983-1) is another Tor
novella (actually, it's really a novelette) that is not my cup of
tea.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           I love being married. It's so great to find that one
           special person you want to annoy for the rest of your
                                           --Rita Rudner