Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
02/22/19 -- Vol. 37, No. 34, Whole Number 2055

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 for March (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        BULLITT COUNTY (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        Science Fiction and Possible Futures (letter of comment
                by John Hertz)
        Wisdom and the Future Research Center (letter of comment
                by Lee Beaumont)
                GOLDEN STATE, and CITY OF TRUTH) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


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

March 14, 2019: DR. CYCLOPS (film) and "Dr. Cyclops" by Henry
        Kuttner, Middletown Public Library, 5:30PM
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 21, 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 for March (comments by
Mark R. Leeper)

Both actor Kirk Douglas and director/writer Billy Wilder were known
in 1951 for films in which they showed a cynical view of human
nature.  Here we have the double whammy of both.  This is a neatly
written story about politics and how the news media can be
manipulated to control a reaction from the public.  Douglas plays
Chuck Tatum, a very talented newsman who nonetheless has been
thrown off all the major newspapers for drinking and/or sex.   Now
his huge talent has landed him alone and penniless with a broken-
down car driving through Albuquerque where he wheedles his way onto
the local newspaper.  He is waiting for an even a medium interest
story he can build up to national news.  But it seems like it will
never come.

Flash to a year later and the biggest story for him to cover, with
a cub reporter, is a rattlesnake hunt. It is not exactly a "stop
the presses story. But on the way he stops for gasoline.  He sends
the cub reporter in and the boy come back out saying there is a
woman inside praying with all her might.  Tatum realizes there is a
big exploitable story here someplace.  The woman's son was in the
cave looking for Indian relics and was caught in a cave-in he
cannot pull himself out.  Tatum realizes this is a story with real
exploitation value and decides that this situation has the
potential to be made into a story that will be front-page news all
across the country.  With Tatum's help people from miles around
flock to the site where a rescue will take place.

The film is known as ACE IN THE HOLE or THE BIG CARNIVAL.  The film
can be read as a cynical comedy.  [ACE IN THE HOLE, THURSDAY, MARCH
14 @ 08:00 PM]

Two American tourists in Scotland come upon the mysterious village
of Brigadoon.  It has quaint people, but no map shows the town.
There is a secret to the town.  It seems that Brigadoon is a
village that has a spell over it.  Only one day in a century does
Brigadoon exist.  Not entirely unexpectedly one of the tourists
falls in love with a local girl.  But what kind of life can the
lovers hope to have if they can be together only one day in a

This was a popular an amiable play of writer Alan Jay Lerner and
composer Frederick Loewe.  But as far as I am concerned they wasted
the potential of their concept.  They had a story of two lovers
torn apart by magical fate.  There was reasonable as it was, but
there are a lot of stories of lovers torn apart in the real world.
On the other hand what would have been interesting is what would it
be like to live in Brigadoon?  Living each day, 100 years of
invention and knowledge would pass by.  It is an interesting
premise for a Broadway musical.  [BRIGADOON, FRIDAY, MARCH 8, 2019
@ 04:00 PM]

What is the best film of the month?  Probably the film most critics
would pick would be CITIZEN KANE.  [CITIZEN KANE, MONDAY, MARCH 25
@ 11:15 PM]



TOPIC: BULLITT COUNTY (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

CAPSULE: In the autumn of 1977 five people who were close a decade
earlier get together for a reunion and to look for a cache of
missing proceeds from Prohibition days.  Not surprisingly, bad
memories and a fortune of illegal money changes the relationship of
the people. Twists become foreseeable and the conflicts are mostly
what was predictable.  Directed by David McCracken; written by
David McCracken.  Rating: low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.

With all the bad press that bachelor parties get in movies, it is
amazing that these celebrations can still get anybody at all to
attend.  In this case the soon-to-be-married Gordie has a party
that is still relatively tame.  At least it starts that way.

The party gets rolling with GOH Gordie's celebration just ramping
up.  So far all that has happened is that Gordie has been kidnapped
and thrown into the trunk of a car.  Gordie is freed and ends up
standing in the middle of a street wearing only his skivvies.  Is
this the fun part?  Well, at least this is some of the more
peaceful time.  Things will soon start happening and the fun of the
pranks will be over.  The theme of the party will become a hunt for
a stash of prohibition cash.  That makes things seem more serious.
Old friends might be pals, but money will always be money.  Illegal
money is the universal solvent to even close bonds of friendship.

The year is 1977 and the location is Bullitt County, Kentucky.  Our
central character is Gordie but there are four guys and one girl
working out their problems with each other some using a gun.  The
style begins comic, but drifts into a crime thriller territory.
The repartee at times is vaguely cute, but does not do anything
really substantial for the story.

The plot has several twists, but they do not improve the plot.
They just have some twist with little story payoff.

Director David McCracken tries some artistic effects that seem out
of place for a simple low-budget crime thriller.  He will flood the
frame with a sepia or blue wash.  He will divide up a frame into
multiple frames.  Flashbacks are represented as a staccato of very
short visual cuts.

There some spots where the story twists, they do not payoff with an
overall clever story.  I rate the film a low +1 on the -4 to +4
scale or 5/10.

Minor spoiler: It must be hard to tell a story where people are old
friends and are still not really who they are assumed to be.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: Science Fiction and Possible Futures (letter of comment by
John Hertz)

In response to Mark's comments on harbingers of the future in the
10/12/18 issue of the MT VOID, John Hertz writes:

In VOID 2036 [12 Oct 18, vol. 37 no. 15) Mark says "a major benefit
of science fiction is to vent concerns about possible futures.
Science fiction gives us tools to think about possible futures, to
evaluate how likely they are, and if some are more possible, to
think about how to be prepared for the more likely ones."

May I respectfully suggest this needs re-thinking?

To begin with, "venting".  It's a common expression among some
folks these days, and picturesque.  We may sometimes feel like
steel tanks from which pressure must be released.

But that leaves out environmental consciousness--people around us.
What might they feel like?

Once at an open-air market I heard a salesman cry after some folks
who were walking away "But I am in a *selling* mood!"

A teacher of mine once said "If you feel like 'venting', go find a
nice thick wall, outdoors, with no one else nearby, and shout at
it--as loud as you can."

A wall is not alive (so far as we know).  People are not objects.

Also, are we fair to ourselves thinking we are as rigid as steel
tanks?  Thinking of emotion as a force that must either be let out
or, at great cost and possible danger, held in?

A steel tank can't get a different perspective.  A steel tank can't
transcend anything.

Then about science fiction.  Thinking a major benefit of science
fiction (or any artform) is to be a channel for venting is, I
respectfully suggest, degrading--to the artform, to the audience,
and even to the artist.

Changing the metaphor, how does an artwork look when it shows the
artist had an axe to grind?

Then about tool.  I respectfully suggest "giving us tools to think
about possible futures" is something science fiction in fact
*can't* do.  It isn't by nature a thought -experiment.
There's all the difference in the world between imagining people
sent to the Moon in a shell from a giant gun, and the acceleration
and metallurgy--to take just two factors--of actually sending them.

Nor does that mean the story was bad for not predicting what, in
the event, the science would be.

Art is a poem.  Science is a plan.

Art is neither a map nor a territory.

Artists *make things up*.

And if I may, that's the glory, that's the love, of story.  [-jh]

Mark responds:

I am not quite sure what that was all about.  However I would say
that there are pieces of art that are not poems.  And there are
pieces of science that are not plans.  [-mrl]

[Apologies to John for taking so long to include this, but it took
a while to get it typed in.  -ecl]


TOPIC: Wisdom and the Future Research Center (letter of comment by

[Lee Beaumont is an old friend, but I cannot say I have looked in
detail his researches into philosophy.  Let me put the same kind of
a warning on this study that you see on a commentary on a DVD.  I
will give him a forum, but the opinions expressed are Lee's alone.

Working with a colleague, we recently created the Wisdom and the
Future Research Center where researchers are exploring the
question, "How can we wisely create our future?"


Perhaps you or other MTVoid readers will enjoy participating as
spectators, enthusiasts, learners, researchers, or advocates.


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

AGENTS OF DREAMLAND by Caitlin R. Kiernan (ISBN 978-0-7653-9432-3)
is yet another Lovecraftian story.  I suppose that is unfair; the
fact that I have been reading several years' worth of Tor novellas
in a short period of time, not to mention other works that were
inspired by Lovecraft, should not mean that any particular work is
not worthy of serious attention.  So I will say that my impatience
with this is probably my own fault.  But it also has an "X-Files"
tinge that may appeal to some, but does not recommend itself to me.
For people who see my criticisms as praise, well, this review has
served its purpose.

BUFFALO SOLDIER by Maurice Broaddus (ISBN 978-0-765-39429-3) is set
in an alternate present-day America, with what is now the United
States divided into (at least) Albion, Tejas, and the Five
Civilized Tribes' area.  Into this comes an African-Jamaican
servant with his employer's offspring.  There is no explanation of
where the title comes from, nor why such people as James Baldwin
and Toni Morrison exist in this timeline as well.  It has certain
similarities with THE BLACK GOD'S DRUMS by P. Djeli Clark, but I
believe that the latter is far more rewarding.

There is a new novel, GOLDEN STATE by Ben H. Winters, which Winters
describes as: "GOLDEN STATE is a mystery novel about the
dissolution of objective reality, set in a place that is like
California but not exactly California; a place where lying is
against the law; a place where the maintenance of mutually
understood and accepted reality is the paramount objective of
political and civil life."

Winters is a "mainstream" writer, so he may not be familiar with
similar science fiction works, e.g. CITY OF TRUTH by James Morrow,
or even the film THE INVENTION OF LYING.  But I certainly thought
of these when I heard of GOLDEN STATE.

For what it's worth, in ancient Persia lying was considered among
the most serious crimes.  Herodotus writes, "They hold it unlawful
to talk of anything which it is unlawful to do.  The most
disgraceful thing in the world, they think, is to tell a lie; the
next worst, to owe a debt: because, among other reasons, the debtor
is obliged to tell lies."  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           When I eventually met Mr. Right I had no idea that his
           first name was Always.
                                           --Rita Rudner