Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
05/10/19 -- Vol. 37, No. 45, Whole Number 2066

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Harrison Bergeron Is Alive and Well (BBC, Peter Trei,
                and Kevin R)
        Wah Chang, the Forgotten Hero of Science Fiction (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        RECORD OF A SPACEBORN FEW by Becky Chambers (copyright 2018,
                Harper Voyager, 368pp, ASIN: B072BFJCB9) (book review
                by Joe Karpierz)
        Classics Illustrated Comics (letter of comment
                by Kip Williams)
        This Week's Reading (EARTH'S LAST CITADEL and PERELANDRA)
                (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Harrison Bergeron Is Alive and Well (BBC, Peter Trei, and
Kevin R)

Caster Semenya: Olympic 800m champion loses appeal against IAAF
testosterone rules - BBC Sport

Caster Semenya has lost a landmark case against athletics'
governing body meaning it will be allowed to restrict testosterone
levels in female runners.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) rejected the South
African's challenge against the IAAF's new rules.


Now she--and other athletes with differences of sexual development
(DSD)--must either take medication in order to compete in track
events from 400m to the mile, or change to another distance.

Cas found that the rules for athletes with DSD were discriminatory
- but that the discrimination was "necessary, reasonable and
proportionate" to protect "the integrity of female athletics".

Peter Trei notes:

Agreed--it's ridiculous.  If she's better, naturally, she's better.

My reaction when I heard about this was 'When will they install a
height capfor basketball players?'.  [-pt]

Kevin R adds:

By extension, if they find female basketball players who are
extremely tall *and* trip one of the tests for a "male" level of
hormones, they might do the same thing to them.

Human growth hormone is already banned, outside of prescriptions to
deal with medical problems, by the sports anti-doping regime.

Now, what if evolution is at work, and more women are just going to
have naturally higher testosterone levels than in the past?  Or,
could this particular case be a response to an environmental
stimulus that the competitor had no knowledge of?  Some of the East
German athletes
who were doped claim they didn't know what was going on, and given
how young some of the Olympians were, that could be plausible.

There was this proposed solution:


TOPIC: Wah Chang, the Forgotten Hero of Science Fiction (comments
by Mark R. Leeper)

I was ashamed of myself.  Evelyn and I were watching an episode of
the old science fiction TV series, THE LAND OF THE LOST.  There in
the credits I noticed something I had never noticed before.  The
show's credits include one for Wah Chang.  "Who was Wah Chang?",
she asked.

I started to answer her that he did special effects work for THE
OUTER LIMITS.  No.  I must have been thinking of someone else.
There was someone of a similar name who worked on the design idea
for the Martian war machine for the 1953 THE WAR OF THE WORLDS.
Now that I am thinking of it, there was Chang who did design work
for first season STAR TREK.  I had a bunch of Changs running around
in my head.  I was confused.  Could these all be one man?  With a
little research it turned out there was a simple explanation.  All
these Wah Changs and a bunch more whom I have forgotten?  All were
the same guy.  But how is that even possible?  Chang seems to be
involved with visual design for lots and lots of science fiction
films and TV shows for a big piece of my life.  Why is he not
celebrated by science fiction fans all over?  He seems nearly

So what else had he done?

For STAR TREK he designed alien creatures such as the salt vampire.
He designed the tricorder and the communicator.  And they were the
inspiration of the flip phone.  He would be the inventor of the
flip phone.  David Gerrold described Tribbles, but Wah Chang built

The website, (where I am getting most of my
information) says that he built the maquette (a reference sculpture
for artists) of the character Pinocchio for the Disney film.  Later
he built the headdress Elizabeth Taylor wore in Cleopatra.

George Pal used Wah Chang's creations for the Martian war machines
created for 1953's THE WAR OF THE WORLDS.  The idea behind the
design was to combine two shapes that humans find scary, the manta
ray and the cobra.  Chang also designed the aliens themselves for
THE WAR OF THE WORLDS.   So what else do you think Chang would have
designed?  Of course, it was Pal's time machine.  That thing that
looks like a Victorian sleigh with a spinning disk?  That was Wah
Chang who invented that design.  He also designed the Albatross for

Ever notice that THE OUTER LIMITS says that the effects are from
Project Unlimited?  Project Unlimited was Chang's company.  He
provided the "bears."

It seems that when I was growing up and loving my first contacts
with science fiction, Wah Chang was always in the background
somewhere orchestrating the images I was seeing.

See his filmography at  It
looks like someone could do a really good documentary film about
Wah Chang's career.

See also  [-mrl]


TOPIC: RECORD OF A SPACEBORN FEW by Becky Chambers (copyright
2018, Harper Voyager, 368pp, ASIN: B072BFJCB9) (book review by Joe

I really don't know what to make of the third novel in Becky
Chambers' Wayfarers series, RECORD OF A SPACEBORN FEW.  I never
read the first book in the series, A LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY
PLANET, and having skipped that, I had no intention of reading the
second book, A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBIT.  When that novel popped up
on the final Hugo ballot a couple of years ago I figured I'd give
it a try.  Missing the first book did not affect my reading of the
second, which was a good thing, but I didn't think the book was
award-worthy.  It was a very readable and enjoyable story, and I
don't regret spending time reading it--after all, in my review I
did say that I liked it--but it wasn't something that was going to
make me go back and read the first book.

Once again, I had no intention of reading RECORD OF A SPACEBORN
FEW when it came out last year.  I wasn't invested in the world,
the characters, or the series.  And of course, once again, it
popped up on the final Hugo ballot.  So, in I dove.

RECORD OF SPACEBORN FEW is just what the title says it is.  It is
a record of a few characters that are part of the Exodus Fleet
that left Earth after humanity basically left it uninhabitable.
The fleet made contact with the Galactic Commons long--and I do
mean very long--after it left Earth.  The Exodans are accepted
into the GC (as it is called in the book) and are given given a
system and a planet to populate, as well as a whole lot of
technology to help them out.

The characters the story is concerned with live on the fleet ship
Asteria.  All but one are natives to the Asteria, and one comes to
the Asteria to live there and experience life in a different
manner from which he is accustomed.  The tale, then, is how our
characters react to changes that are coming as they reach the
world they were given.  They don't know what's ahead; all they
know is how they've lived life before.  This is, then, a character
study, if nothing else, of people who are explorers who are
experiencing new things and are reacting to them.

In a somewhat famous story (if you were around back in, oh, 1983
or so), Isaac Asimov relates how he came to write FOUNDATION'S
EDGE, decades after the classic Foundation Trilogy was completed.
He was approached by Doubleday (I believe) which was willing to
throw buckets of money at him for writing a new Foundation novel.
Not being one to turn down said buckets of money, he accepted and
decided that the first thing to do would be to re-read the
original trilogy.  He came to the conclusion that nothing really
ever happened in those three books.  It was just a lot of people
sitting around and talking.

Nothing really happens in RECORD OF A SPACEBORN FEW either.  There
are a couple of tragic accidents, but really neither one is a
kickoff point for a plot.  They are simply events that the
characters have to react to.  Granted, not much happened in Kim
Stanley Robinson's 2312, and I'm not sure there's that much of a
plot to his RED MOON, so there is precedent in recent novels (I'm
sure there are more, but I'm only going with what I've read), but
I really do like the novels I read to have a plot, some conflict,
and a resolution.  RECORD OF A SPACEBORN FEW does not have those

And yet, once again, I liked the novel.  It's well written, the
characters are well developed and the reader can get invested in
them. The pace is good, the prose is clear.  It's a nice light
summer read (had I read it in the summer, it would have been
perfect).  But once again, it's not making me want to read the
first book of the series.  And I don't think it's Hugo material.
Clearly, other people think so.  Your mileage may vary.  [-jak]


TOPIC: Classics Illustrated Comics (letter of comment by Kip

In response to Mark's comments on Classics Illustrated comics in
the 05/03/19 issue of the MT VOID, Kip Williams writes:

Indeed, I recently went there and helped myself liberally.  I got a
better download of my favorite title, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME,
which is also the only really faithful adaptation of the story that
has been made in any medium.  It made me want to read the book.
Superb art by Reed Crandall and George Evans, and a script by
Alfred Sundel (uncredited) that captures the tone and flavor and
conveys the central plot precisely.  Most importantly to me, it
doesn't whitewash any of the characters.

Tip: The CBR and CBZ files are of higher quality than the PDFs.  I
normally favor PDFs, but the differences are strikingly clear. The
larger file size is a tipoff.

For a while, Archive was hosting National Lampoon back issues as
well.  I'm presuming somebody's lawyer cleared their throat and
they all went away.  These included a dead-on, deadpan, faux-CI
version of SIDDHARTHA illustrated by Joe Orlando and penned by Doug
Kenney, which is why I mentioned it.

Comic Book Plus continues to be a source of delight.  It recently
occurred to me to look up Jack Cole's "Plastic Man," which is still
zany after all these years and worthy of re-reading.  [-kw]

Mark responds:

I have thought that the best novel I ever read was LES MISERABLES.
(And the longest.)  Odd we have chosen novels by the same author.
And I also have been frustrated how movie versions become
apologists for Phoebes and for Frollo.  I also think Hugo's ending
is very powerful and only the 50s Italian film (Anthony Quinn) has
that powerful ending (of the two skeletons).  [-mrl]

Evelyn notes:

For what it's worth, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (or more
accurately, NOTRE DAME DE PARIS) was back at the top of the best-
seller lists in France a few weeks ago.  [-ecl]

Mark responds:

NOTRE DAME DE PARIS is really a much better title for the story.
It takes a long time for the reader to realize that Quasimodo is
the central character.  The traditional title is really a plot
spoiler.  [-mrl]


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

Last week I covered several of the Retro Hugo finalists in the
novel category; this week I will finish with the rest.

Is EARTH'S LAST CITADEL by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner (ISBN 978-
0-441-18112-4) really a novel?  With only 128 pages in my edition,
it seems more like a novella.  It seems a typical pulp story of a
motley group of people transported into the far future.  Moore and
Kuttner have a couple of Nazi spies for topicality, but when
everyone ends up thousands of years in the future, that distinction
seems to become meaningless.  (Perhaps if one of the other
characters had been Jewish, that would have added some additional
conflict.)  There is a slight Lovecraftian tinge to the aliens but
I cannot see anything special about this.

PERELANDRA by C. S. Lewis (ISBN 978-0-743-23491-7) is clearly a
different style of writing than the "traditional" science fiction
finalists (the Leibers, the Moore, and the van Vogt).  (I cannot
judge the style of DAS GLASPERLENSPIEL, only the style of the
translation, which is even further from the traditional works.)  It
is also a more "serious" with the main story being the battle
between the protagonist and the Devil for the soul of a still-
innocent Green Lady on Perelandra (Venus).  However, Lewis has the
Devil trying to get the Lady to sin by filling her head with ideas
such as, "[M]en ... in his own world--men of that intensely male
and backward-looking type who always shrank away from the new good-
-had continuously laboured to keep women down to mere child-bearing
and to ignore the high destiny for which Maleldil [God] had
actually created her."  My problem is that this seems to be a
perfectly reasonable statement to be made, while Lewis thinks it a
terrible suggestion by the Devil.  (There's apparently no pleasing
Lewis where women are concerned.  In THE LAST BATTLE (one of
Lewis's "Narnia" series), Susan is "no longer a friend of Narnia"
because "she's interested in nothing now-a-days except nylons and
lipstick and invitations.  She was always a jolly sight too keen on
being grown-up."

However, I won't downgrade PERELANDA just because I don't agree
with its premise.  It is, after all, standard Christian doctrine,
or at least *a* standard Christian doctrine.  Why do I give
PERELANDRA a pass but not some of the Dramatic Presentations (e.g.,
BATMAN)?  I suppose for the same reason one generally gives Dante a
pass for putting "sodomites" in the Seventh Circle of Hell.

However, much of it is difficult (or impossible) if you have not
already read OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET (the first of the "Space
Trilogy"), and the long, drawn-out temptations and arguments are
just not very interesting in terms of science fiction or fantasy.


Next week, I will cover the novellas.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           I hate to be near the sea, and to hear it raging and
           roaring like a wild beast in its den.  It puts me in
           mind of the everlasting efforts of the human mind,
           struggling to be free and ending just where it began.
                                           --William Hazlitt