Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
05/31/19 -- Vol. 37, No. 48, Whole Number 2069

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 June (comments
                by Mark R. Leeper)
        REVENANT GUN by Yoon Ha Lee (book review by Joe Karpierz)
        Tobacco, Alcohol, and Water (letter of comment by Jim Susky)
        "The Silly Season" (letter of comment by Gary Labowitz)
        Crabs and Inversion Theory (letter of comment
                by Dorothy J. Heydt)
        Old Movies, Crabwalks, and Burt Reynolds (letter of comment
                by John Purcell)
        Crab and Inversion Theory, "Citadel of Lost Ships",
                "The Proud Robot", "Symbiotica", Caster Semenya,
                MUNCHAUSEN, Vaccination, and UNCLE TOM'S CABIN
                (letter of comment by Taras Wolansky)
        This Week's Reading (Hugo categories, Retro Hugo short
                stories: "Death Sentence", "Doorway into Time",
                "Exile", "King of the Gray Spaces" (a.k.a. "R is for
                Rocket"), "Q.U.R.", "Yours Truly - Jack the Ripper")
                (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


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

June 13, 2019: THE MATRIX (1999) & NEUROMANCER (1984)
        by William Gibson, Middletown Public Library, 5:30PM
        by Robert A. Heinlein, Middletown Public Library, 5:30PM
        by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886), Old Bridge Public Library,
August 8, 2019: FIRST MEN IN THE MOON (1964) & THE FIRST MEN IN
        THE MOON by H. G. Wells, Middletown Public Library, 5:30PM
September 26, 2019: TBD from Europe/Latin America/Africa/Canada,
        Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM
November 21, 2019: THE SLEEPER WAKES by H. G. Wells (1910),
        Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM
January 23, 2020: TBD from Europe/Latin America/Africa/Canada,
        Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM
March 26, 2020: TBD by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Old Bridge Public
        Library, 7PM
May 28, 2020: TBD from Europe/Latin America/Africa/Canada,
        Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM
July 23, 2020: TBD by Jules Verne
September 24, 2020: TBD from Europe/Latin America/Africa/Canada,
        Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM
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)
        Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:


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

Each month I look over what films would I pick from the upcoming
month to recommend for my readers.  Not all months have a
recommendation-worthy selection that I recognize, but I will do my

One film in June I can recommend even though the last third of the
film is a mess.  At least I can recommend the first 2/3 of the
film.  Sadly I think that BRAINSTORM (1983) will forever be
remembered as that film that had to be re-written and repaired when
actress Natalie Wood died under mysterious circumstances.  And the
last third of the film was less than rewarding.  What will not be
remembered is that the first two-thirds actually may be a top
science fiction story.  A device is invented as a new entertainment
devise gizmo.  It can record human sensory experience and play it
back into someone else's brain.  It works like electronic
telepathy.  The viewer comes to realize that this device could
forever change all human relationships.  This is a story idea that
could make a dozen good science fiction films and never deplete the
concept.  The last third of the film is a genuine disappointment
that appears to have been shockingly assembled with parts from
other films and would have made more sense is Ms Wood were present.
Still there was enough of an idea here that the film is worth

[BRAINSTORM, Saturday, June 22 @ 06:00 PM (EDT)]

Back in 1969 director Guy Hamilton and producer Harry Saltzman were
flush from the recent boxoffice smash of a film with the unlikely
title of GOLDFINGER. They turned to another traditional type of
film, a spectacular battle on land and in the sky.  Britain was
really up against a wall when the Luftwaffe was beginning its plan
to prepare the way for and support the German invasion of Britain.
But the British had a weapon more powerful than even they
themselves realized.  It was the quick to build and amazingly agile
Spitfire.  The RAF actually had more Hawker Hurricanes than
Spitfires, but more wins were credited to the high performance
Spitfire.  For the film the filmmaking technical advisor for the
German side Adolf Galland, the Nazi air ace who led the battle from
the enemy side."  When the film was made and they needed someone to
do the other side he played his opposite number.

It may not be made to the very highest standard of war film, but it
is entertaining and accurate, particularly for aviation fans.

[BATTLE OF BRITAIN, Thursday, June 6 @ 05:45 PM (EDT)]

Back in 1957 there were certain conventions of the horror film.
They were almost invariably shot in monochrome.  Black and white
creates a mood that works well with horror.  On the other hand
color film somewhat distracts the eye and makes the proper  mood
harder to achieve.  PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925) had one scene in
which the phantom appeared in bright red.  SON OF FRANKENSTEIN was
short entirely in color, but they shade of green chosen for the
monster just did not look very good.  The film was released in
monochrome.  DOCTOR X and MYSTERY IN THE WAX MUSEUM were short in
two-color Technicolor.  The only horror film shot and sent to the
screen in color was PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943).  It was shot in
vivid color.  It worked great in three-color Technicolor, but the
color robbed the film of its horror effect.  It was just a color
spectacular as a background for a very mild telling of the story.
The first horror film to effectively use color for horrific effect
was a retelling of FRANKENSTEIN.

[THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957), Tuesday, June 4, @ 11:00 AM

Now I need to pick the best film of the month.  I guess I would go

[LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, Saturday, June 8 @ 04:00 PM (EDT)]



TOPIC: REVENANT GUN by Yoon Ha Lee (copyright 2018, Solaris, $9.99
trade paperback, 427pp, ISBN 978-1-78108-607-0) (book review by Joe

REVENANT GUN brings to a close Yoon Ha Lee's terrific "Machineries
of Empire" trilogy.  It is a complex novel told from multiple
viewpoints with multiple plot threads.  There's a lot of ground to
cover here which calls for all the different threads and
characters.  In the end, it is a satisfying conclusion to the
trilogy, but it's clear that there are more stories to tell in the
Hexarchate universe (as evidenced by the short story collection
coming out this summer from Yoon Ha Lee entitled "Hexarchate

The thing that binds all the plotlines and characters together is,
again, the hexarchate calendar.  As the calendar is something of a
complex idea, I think it bears repeating (from my previous reviews
of NINEFOX GAMBIT and RAVEN STRATEGEM) that the calendar is "...a
way of life, a belief system, a way to hold moral fabric together.
And it can be a weapon."  To quote Liz Bourke, a reviewer for Locus
Magazine: "...the calendar is part of a system of belief and action
that creates exotic effects in terms of physics in the space where
a particular calendar is applied."  Hence, the ability to be used
as a weapon.  (As an aside, Bourke hits the nail on the head with
this description of the calendar.  I've been struggling for three
books to figure out how to describe the calendar and its effects,
and Bourke provides it.)

So, at the end of my review of RAVEN STRATEGEM, I stated that the
reveal at the end of the novel was something I did not see coming.
That reveal, of course, was the disruption of the high calendar of
the Hexarchate.  That disruption is really the jumping off point

The Hexarchate is in shambles.  Hexarch Kujen wants to restore the
high calendar and thus the Hexarchate so that he may return  to
power.  Kujen is at once both smooth and silky, and a nasty tyrant.
He holds a secret that no one knows, both about himself and the
high calendar.  He is willing to go to any lengths to restore the
calendar and Hexarchate to what they were before the events of
RAVEN STRATAGEM.  He thus enlists the help of one of the greatest
military minds in history, Shuos Jedeo.  But this Jedeo isn't who
he appears to be or who we believe he really is.  In addition, the
revelation of *what* Jedeo really is turns out to be a nice treat,
and opens up a whole realm of possibilities that is impossible to
explore within the context of the novel.

The cast of characters in REVENANT GUN includes the former Kel
Cheris, who wants to put a stop to Kujen's reign.  Servitor Hemiola
owes allegiance to Kujen, and this is on the other side.  I could
go on, as the cast is huge.  But suffice to say that the size of
the cast contributes to the political intrigue and complex
machinations; there is enough going on here to keep a reader
engaged well into a night of reading.  It is a well-written and
fast paced novel.  Unlike NINEFOX GAMBIT and, to a lesser extent
RAVEN STRATEGEM, even with everything going on it feels to me like
a much easier novel to follow.  I suspect that's because we as
readers are now familiar with all the trappings of the "Machineries
of Empire" universe, and thus don't have to try to figure out what
is going on.

I mentioned in earlier reviews of this series that keeping things
new and fresh is essential and, above all, interesting.  It does
have its drawbacks in that for something that is new and
innovative, it takes time for the readers to immerse themselves in
the universe, the storyline, and the characters.  "Machineries of
Empire" is no different, but now here at the end of it the payoff
is delivered.  We have been immersed in it all, and in some sense
we are sorry to see it go.

All of the novels in "Machineries of Empire" have been Hugo
finalists.  REVENANT GUN serves as a perfect capstone to the series
and deserves to be considered for the Hugo.  It's that good.


TOPIC: Tobacco, Alcohol, and Water (letter of comment by Jim Susky)

In response to Mark's comments on alcohol in the 05/24/19 issue of
the MT VOID, Jim Susky writes:

Thanks, Mark, for your usual subtle and detailed treatment of
"policy" and cultural matters--this time concerning the world's two
most popularpleasure drugs (and for touching on the water in NJ.)

As for the latter, it wasn't until I travelled, then lived, outside
that I realized that not everyone has pure water.

In Anchorage, we get the chlorin- and floride-ation that is the
usual American custom--the source is snow and glacier-melt, along
with rain.  Not only that, the water is "tempered" by waste heat
from ML&P's Generator Plant 2A--thus reducing the household's cost
for domestic hot water.

My habit, therefore, is to get bottled water when I travel.

While still a young engineer in 1984 I caught wind of San
Francisco's then new (and possibly unprecedented) violation of
property rights when they banned smoking in private workplaces.
That was not then broadly fashionable but certainly is now--to the
extent that Anchorage has for over ten years threatened to shake
down ($500/day) bar and restaurant owners  for "allowing" smoking
in their private spaces.

(One may still see grownups doing grownup things in such spaces in
other Alaskan cities.)

I don't recall smokers at that first job 1982-87--we had something
like 60 employees.  Perhaps smokers voluntarily took pains to limit
their personal smoky proliferation.

Later, in a larger office, there were designated smoking areas--
with tight doors.  This sort of self-regulation has always struck
me as preferable to the gov't fist pummeling private prerogatives.

It was at that same office in 1984 when a mentor described DWI/DUI
as "assault"--not so subtle an assertion, but an acceptable one by
my lights.

Now, we hear of various municipalities that deign to restrict even
outside smoking (and we have a "50-foot rule" in Anchorage).  Your
citation of "curtain(s) of tobacco" outside building suggests that
parts of NJ do not regulate such transitory nuisances.

It is good news that (as you say) the proportion of auto-fatalities
has halved since the early 80s--the news is better when one
realizes that the incidence of such deaths has gone down even as
the population and miles driven has increased.  Partly this is due
to the rise of the designated driver, who despite your skepticism,
are often quite sober when helping their friends safely travel and
escape police approbation.  The latest example of this was last
weekend when I offered my [22-year-old] son half a beer (having
poured the other half for myself).  He declined.  I later
discovered this was motivated by upcoming DD duty--thus showing
himself to be far more diligent in this matter than I. [-js]


TOPIC: "The Silly Season" (letter of comment by Gary Labowitz)

In response to Evelyn's comments on "The Silly Season" in the
05/24/19 issue of the MT VOID, Gary Labowitz writes:

Thank you for the correction of Dann to Kornbluth.  I offer as my
first defense that I was only 11 when I read it ... and I liked
both authors.  All the authors' names being thrown at me from the
distant past are making me very annoyed that I can't remember them
as clearly as I would want.  But they are my "magic" names that
were spilling out that wonder stuff I saved my pennies to buy and
build my collection of zines.  I'm sorry now that I sold them (and
lost the entire paperback collection in the war).  I'm not sure
what I would do with them now anyway, since I don't have the time
and eyesight to reread them all anyway.

I worked on, and published, the N3F attempt at a pseudonym list of
the authors then active in science fiction.  Does anyone have or
remember that publication?

My memories are really getting flawed.  [-gl]


TOPIC: Crabs and Inversion Theory (letter of comment by Dorothy
J. Heydt)

In response to Mark's comments on crabwalks and inversion theory in
the 05/24/19 issue of the MT VOID, Dorothy J. Heydt writes:

That's an interesting take on it.  I know just a tiny bit about
the differences between the two lines, which doesn't particularly
depend on how they walk and does depend on how they develop as
very early embryos.

There are two lines of animals above the level of sponges and
jellyfish: protostomes, and deuterostomes.  If your Greek is up
to it, you'll realize these mean "first mouth" and "second

You begin with a zygote, aka a fertilized ovum.  It begins to
divide, and for a bit it's an undifferentiated lump of cells,
called a morula (Latin for "mulberry").  Then the morula hollows
out, forming a ball one cell layer thick, called a blastula
("little ball").  Then the cells start to divide on one side
faster than on the other, and the extra cells grow into the
original ball, forming a shape two cell layers thick, with an
opening at one end.  Think of a volleyball or something that's
been deflated and poked into a cup-shape.  This is called a
gastrula (little stomach) or blastocyst.  For sponges and
jellyfish, the process stops there; they grow from two cell
layers.  For everything else, a third cell layer develops
between the first two -- and there's still that opening on one

For the embryos of protostomes, the mouth develops from that
opening, and the anus (if any) from a new opening that forms at
the other end.  For the embryos of deuterostomes, the original
opening because the anus and the new opening becomes the mouth.
Deuterostomes include echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins, etc.)
and vertebrates; protostomes include all other animal lines,
including assorted worms, arthropods (including your crab), and

About all that protostomes and deuterostomes have in common (once
you get past the three cell layers) is that they usually have
bilateral symmetry, at some point in their lives (as larvae,

I looked up all this stuff a few years ago because I was ticked
off at an otherwise very good episode of Doctor Who, "The Lazarus
Experiment."  An elderly scientist invents a machine that makes
him young again, with which he intends (a) to make a whole lot of
money and (b) never to die.  But there's a bug in it somewhere,
and he keeps morphing into a gigantic scorpion-like thing with a
human face.  And the Doctor says he's reverting to a common

The common ancestor of humans (deuterostomes) and scorpions
(protostomes) is so far back that no one has ever found a fossil
example of one; and if anyone has reconstructed anything
resembling its DNA, I haven't heard about it.  They've given it a
name, though, the Urbilaterian, which was probably some kind of
wormlike think with bilateral symmetry.  Dr. Lazarus would have
had to go back *that* far to turn into a scorpion, and since his
machine had air in its chamber, his Urbilaterian form would
probably have dried out and died in the machine before it could
turn intoanything.  [-djh]


TOPIC: Old Movies, Crabwalks, and Burt Reynolds (letter of comment
by John Purcell)

In response to various items, John Purcell writes:

Happy Memorial Day! In honor of our fallen heroes, and family
members who have served in the military, it seems right to me to
write a letter of comment to a fanzine with a strong bent for old

Of course, in such spirit TBS is showing nothing but Star Wars
movies all day. I guess they're agreeing that the USA needs a Space
Force to defend our home planet from invading aliens. I'm surprised
that channel isn't showing "Independence Day" and its ridiculous
sequel today. Oh, they're planning that for July 4th weekend. That
makes sense. The only channel that is showing a real sequence of
war movies today is TCM, and two of my favorites are being
broadcast during the day: THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE (1951) and MEN
IN WAR (1957), and another movie that sounds interesting, which I
have never seen, is THE STEEL HELMET (1951). I may have to watch
that one tonight.

I have seen all but MEN IN WAR.  I may try it.  STEEL HELMET is
directed by the respected SAM FULLER.  Not the best Fuller film but
worth watching.

Your comments about "Crackpots and Crabwalks" sparked an
interesting parallel thought in my awakening brain this morning: a
progressive dinner crab walk. It would be much like a pub crawl,
where a group of people spend a day, afternoon, and evening
progressing from one bar/pub to another in an increasingly insane
display of lack of self-control with alcohol. The same sort of
progression could be done with seafood restaurants: go from one to
another while creating a seven-course seafood dinner in the
process, beginning with appetizers (crab cakes or some other kind
of seafood finger food), and move right on up through a cup of
seafood gumbo, crab salad, crab legs entree, or lobster, sides of
scallops and shallots, then top it off with some kind of desert
that likewise includes some kind of seafood. Such a plan may wreak
havoc on one's cholesterol level, but what a way to go. I'd do it.

Shellfish cholesterol is supposed to be healthy.  [Google "is
shrimp healthy for you to eat".]

Burt Reynolds may not have been a great movie star, but
occasionally he carried off a role very well. The reviews of "The
Last Movie Star" stated that he did a credible and compassionate
performance, and I might just watch this sometime. For a while--
during the 1970s--the man had a string of hit "Smokey and the
Bandit" movies. They may not have been great cinematic fare, but
they were fun summer entertainment. Come to think of it, BOOGIE
NIGHTS (1997) was pretty good, too.

Anyway, many thanks for another interesting issue.  [-jp]


TOPIC: Crabs and Inversion Theory, "Citadel of Lost Ships", "The
Proud Robot", "Symbiotica", Caster Semenya, MUNCHAUSEN,
Vaccination, and UNCLE TOM'S CABIN (letter of comment by Taras

Taras Wolansky writes:

Here are some comments on issues of MT VOID, recent and not so


Mark's story about body plan "inversion theory" reminded me of the
Burgess Shale fossil, Hallucigenia, which was called that because
it seemed to be walking on spiked legs.  Eventually they figured
out they had it upside down: it was actually a worm with spikes on
its back, protecting it from early predators like Anomalicaris
(whose body parts were originally classified as three different

That continental drift was rejected by the scientific community for
decades, even generations, is a sobering warning about accepting
current doctrine as "settled science", no longer to be questioned.
In John McPhee's BASIN AND RANGE, we meet North American geologists
in the late 1960s who are still reluctant to accept continental
drift (plate tectonics) because at the time it did a poor job of
accounting for North American geology.

Evelyn: "'Citadel of Lost Ships' by Leigh Brackett ... What is more
problematic is the lack of subtlety in its essentially libertarian
message dressed up in science fiction trappings."  The message
would have seemed much more surprising and original in 1943, when
there was no libertarian movement in the modern sense of the word.
In fact, back then "libertarian" was a euphemism for anarcho-

Evelyn's reviews of "The Proud Robot" and "Symbiotica" seem to
impose 21st-century attitudes on stories written almost 80 years
ago.  For example, it's pretty hard on Eric Frank Russell to hold
him to task for being only 30 years ahead of his time on race!


I got interested in Caster Semenya while watching the Summer
Olympics. The announcers said she had been permitted to compete in
spite of having ten times the normal level of testosterone for a
woman.  If any woman can compete with the men, I figured, it would
be she.  (Turns out, her gold medal time would have put her dead
last in the first heats of the men's 800 meters.)

Only later did I learn what the media were holding back.  The
reason for that high testosterone level is that Semenya's
chromosomes are XY.  In fact, those "controversial" regulations on
testosterone levels apply only to XY athletes competing in women's
events.  The regulations hope to give XX women at least a fighting

"The Washington Post" is a case in point.  Even as it carefully
avoided mentioning that pesky Y chromosome, it presented a
hypothetical--and probably nonexistent--example of an XX athlete
competing with the men.  On the other hand, "The Economist" was
more forthcoming.


Like Paul Dormer, I found I liked MUNCHAUSEN more than I expected,
when I saw it at Balticon a few days ago, in glorious Agfacolor.
(I had previously seen a miserable black-and-white print on PBS.)

I was also pleased to discover that it was anything but Nazi
propaganda.  Munchausen is fighting for Russia (Nazi Germany's
enemy by this time) against a tyrannical Turkey (which was in a
nonaggression pact with Nazi Germany); while Italy (Nazi Germany's
ally) is a place of murder and repression.  Nor is the Baron
anything like the ideal National Socialist man: he is basically a
louche hedonist, pursuing wine, women, and song.

When the film was made, the war was still going very well for
Germany, so the Nazi censors didn't come down too heavily.  No
doubt, the nude women in the harem scenes were justified as letting
the boys know what they're fighting for!

3/29/19 (This got lost in my inbox until now):

The anti-vaxxer movement, personified by Bobby Kennedy, Jr., and
actress Jenny McCarthy, is mixed up with environmentalism and
natural foods and distrust of big business, especially "Big

Some years ago, in "The New York Review of Books", there was a
major article that argued that the great American novel about
heartily concur.  It got less respect than it deserved, partly
because it was written by a woman and, I suspect, partly because
college English departments after the Civil War filled up with
educated Southern gentlemen who had lost their, er, property.

There were quite a few Southern novels "answering" Stowe.  I wonder
if any of them are any good.  [-tw]

Evelyn responds:

I recognize that applying 2019 standards to a 1943 story is unfair,
but I still have to admit that reading some of these stories is
cringe-inducing.  I didn't necessarily down-rate them for "being of
their time", but they often have the additional problem that I
noted of their being original then and trite now.  This is part of
the reason that the Retro Hugo Awards are problematic.  Are we
supposed to vote as we feel in 2019, or as we think we would have
felt in 1944?

I'm not sure the claim is that HUCKLEBERRY FINN is the great
American novel *about slavery*; it is called the great American
novel, period.  (Competing, I should add, with MOBY DICK.)  There
is much in HUCKLEBERRY FINN that makes it readable and enjoyable
today--the story of the journey down the river, the humorous
interludes, and so on--while UNCLE TOM'S CABIN is more focused on
its single topic.  Going back to MOBY DICK as a parallel, if
Melville had written a novel just about the dangers of whaling,
MOBY DICK would have ended up with Richard Henry Dana's TWO YEARS
BEFORE THE MAST as a side note in literary history.  [-ecl]


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

Okay, we have finally gotten to the Short Story category on the
Retro Hugo ballot.

Before I start, though, I have some general comments. There are too
many categories and/or too many finalists in each category.  And
having a Retro Hugo ballot in a given year makes this totally

The Hugo voting method works best (or perhaps works only at all)
when the voter ranks every finalist in a given category.  Currently
this means that a voter needs to read six novels, six novellas, six
novelettes, and six short stories to vote on just the fiction
categories.  Oh, wait, there are also six series.  Actually, that
category alone is impossible for most voters--certainly impossible
in the time between when the finalists are announced and when the
ballots are due.

And that is just fiction.  There are eighteen categories
altogether.  And unlike awards like the Oscars, there is no
overlap.  For the Oscars, if a voter watches GREEN BOOK she has
seen four finalists, but there is no such help with the Hugos.

I had hoped to read all the Retro Hugo fiction finalists and the
current short fiction finalists.  This is not going to happen.
Life is short, and I have a lot of books I want to read that are
not Hugo finalists.

So while I will comment on the Retro Hugo Dramatic Presentation
finalists, and I *may* read the current Short Story finalists,
that's it, except for my strong suggestion that they either cut
down the number of categories or finalists in each category, or
devise a voting system that works better if people are not familiar
with all the finalists.

And having read (almost) all the Retro Hugo fiction finalists, I
have to say that 1943 was the year that everyone seemed to have
embraced the twist ending.

"Death Sentence" by Isaac Asimov is a positronic robot story from
Asimov, but with a difference.  For starters, there is no mention
of the Three Laws, and indeed, they cannot exist in the world of
this story.  As with many Asimov short stories, there is a twist in
the ending, though I am not sure this one bears close examination.

"Doorway into Time" by C. L. Moore is one of the many finalists in
certain irony to his introduction, which says in part, "[Moore's]
stories seemed 'masculine' because htey didn't deal with the petty
fripperies that readers expected of women authors," followed by the
story, of which the first three paragraphs are spent described the
main character's robe, followed by more paragraphs about jewels and
other "fripperies."  This is yet another story in which the humans
are secondary characters (or in some cases, what the reader was
supposed to assume were the aliens).

"Exile" by Edmond Hamilton is another story whose ending, possibly
surprising at the time, is oh so predictable now.  And I know the
meaning of "queer" has changed a lot in 75 years, but it sure was
popular back then: in "Death Sentence" Theor Realo is called
"queer" (twice), and here Carrick is called "a queer chap."

"King of the Gray Spaces" (a.k.a. "R is for Rocket") is, I suppose,
poetic.  The problem is that it seems written almost exclusively
for teenage boys in rural Illimois in the early Twentieth Century.
The closest I come is that I lived in rural Illinois in my pre-teen

"Q.U.R." by H. H. Holmes (Anthony Boucher) is of interest mainly in
how off-base its assumptions are.  In particular, Holmes/Boucher
seems to assume that robots will start out as humanoid in form, and
only later become more specialized.  In reality, robots started out
entirely "usuform" (e.g., robots on automobile assembly lines),
with any humanoid robots merely gimmicks that barely worked.  One
need only watch the M.I.T. robot competition for robots that need
to climb stairs and do other specific tasks to see why insisting on
a humanoid robot is a foolish requirement.  Of course, there is
also the same emphasis on drinking that one found in "The Proud
Robot".  (Other stories on the Retro Hugo ballot have everyone
smoking as well.)  There is also a not-so-subtle parallel to the
racism of the time.  It is ironic that some stories have this sort
of parallel as a negative comment on the attitudes of the time,
while others seem to unconsciously reflect them.  Should I add then
women rarely appear in these stories at all?

"Yours Truly - Jack the Ripper" by Robert Bloch was well-written
but, like so many of the Retro Hugo finalists, has not aged well.
More than that I do not want to say.

Rankings: "Death Sentence", no award, "Yours Truly - Jack the
Ripper", "Q.U.R.", "Doorway into Time", "Exile", "King of the Gray
Spaces" ("R is for Rocket")



                                           Mark Leeper

           A fool always finds a greater fool to admire him.
                                           --Nicholas Boileau