Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
08/02/19 -- Vol. 38, No. 5, Whole Number 2078

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Correction: Pop Music (letter of comment by Paul Dormer)
        What I Shoulda Said (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        SPINNING SILVER by Naomi Novik (book review by Joe Karpierz)
        INFINITE POWERS by Steven Strogatz (book review
                by Gregory Frederick)
        THE MORTAL STORM and THE IMMORTAL STORM (letters of comment
                by Dorothy J. Heydt and Peter Trei)
        This Week's Reading (DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE) (book comments
                by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Correction: Pop Music (letter of comment by Paul Dormer)

In response to Evelyn's comments on pop music in the 07/26/19 issue
of the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:

[Evelyn attributed a quote on pop music to Geoffrey Pullum.]

Where do you get that name from?  As far as I can tell that
quotation about pop music is by Lynne Murphy herself and the name
"Geoffrey Pullum" does not appear in that blog post at all.  [-pd]

Evelyn responds:

I was under the impression that the entire web site was by Geoffrey
Pullum, based on the Home page, but apparently I mis-read it.  The
site (and quote) are Lynne Murphy's.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: What I Shoulda Said (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

The Incident:  Evelyn and I had visited a zoo while we were on one
of our famous road trips.  We followed the two people ahead of us,
a boy about seven or eight years old and his mother, as they looked
in a cage to one side.  The boy, whose mind was on different issues
from animal life, asked his mom, "When you were a kid did they have
Mummy movies?"  The mother hushed the boy and they moved on.

What I said: {nothing}. But it occurred that I probably knew a
great deal to answer the boy's question.  Mummy movies of the 20th
Century are one of my special interests.  Not unlike the famous
scene from ANNIE HALL, I could have given the two visitors more
than they bargained for.

What I should have said [from memory--it should be a good memory

The first Mummy movie was made in 1932.  That makes it a good deal
older than your mother.  The movie was called THE MUMMY.' It
starred Boris Karloff who at the time was famous for having made
some scary movies.  The plot of the film was inspired by the fact
that several archeologists who had recently uncovered an Egyptian
tomb had died within months after finding the tomb.  The story
suggested that the avenger had been buried in the tomb and had
never fully died but was kept alive to guard the tomb.  Im-Ho-Tep
was returned to life by certain Egyptian spells being said over

The supposed guardian of the tomb found at the beginning had been
Im-Ho-Tep, the same character who is made the villain of some of
the more recent mummy movies.  Im-Ho-Tep--the real one--is thought
to have been a real person, and, not just that one of the great
geniuses of history.  He was a surgeon and an architect. He
invented pyramids and built one for King Zoser.  He was thought to
have had great supernatural powers.  The name they chose for the
Mummy was, as I said, that of a real person of Egyptian ancient
history.  His consort [or close friend] in the film was Anck-Su-
Namun.  She was a real person from Egyptian history but from much
later time.  In fact, even today Im-Ho-Tep would still be more than
twice as old as Anck-Su-Namun was.  We rarely realize how far
Egyptian history goes back.

The film company that made the first mummy movie in 1932,
Universal, decided to make it a series of four more Mummy films.
This mummy was Kharis and in some ways very similar too Im-Ho-Tep.
Instead of Kharis being kept alive by the reading magic scrolls,
Kharis was kept alive by drinking a tea like beverage brewed from
Tana leaves.  Brew three leaves and it will keep Kharis alive for a
month.  Brew him nine leaves and he will be able to walk and follow
orders.  The films in this series are THE MUMMY'S HAND, THE MUMMY'S
TOMB, THE MUMMY'S GHOST, and THE MUMMY'S CURSE.  (I am not counting
ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY since I do not count that as
part of a horror series.)  I would tell you a bunch more, but these
are about all I remember about THE MUMMY.  Isn't that your mother
calling you over to see the polar bear?

Did I leave anything important out?  [-mrl]


TOPIC: SPINNING SILVER by Naomi Novik (copyright 2018, Pan, 480pp,
paperback, ISBN-10: 1509899049, ISBN-13: 978-1509899043) (book
review by Joe Karpierz)

SPINNING SILVER is the follow-up to Novik's very terrific and
successful 2015 novel UPROOTED.  Like that novel, SPINNING SILVER
takes various fairy tale stories and turns them on their collective
ears, most notably Rumplestiltskin.  But that well-known fairy tale
is just the beginning, just a framework, for the story that Novik
is telling here.

Miryem is a moneylender's daughter.  Her father is not a
particularly good moneylender, as he is essentially too nice.  The
people who owe him money take advantage of him, of course, and as a
result the family lives in poverty.  Miryem decides to take things
into her own hands, and becomes quite good at it.  She's also quite
the businessperson - think of her as a shrewd investor and
moneymaker.  In time, she gains a reputation as someone who can
turn silver into gold.  This indeed happens, but in a very boring
and traditional way.  This is about to change, of course.

The village seems to be suffering from and increasingly long,
bitter, and very cold winter.  The woods are overrun by the
Staryks, magical men who come to the village to steal gold from the
locals.  One particular Staryk takes note of the fact that Miryem
can change silver into gold, and well, don't you know, things kind
of take off from there.

Miryem's ability to make money has a side effect that brings
another thread into play.  The local duke wishes to marry his
daughter Irina off to the local tsar Mirnatius.  Miryem, being
tested by the Staryk--who turns out to be the Staryk king--takes
silver from the Staryk, has it made into various pieces of jewelry
to sell to the duke, who pays in gold (thus the whole turning
silver into gold thing).  Miryem passes the Staryk king's test, and
becomes his unwilling and uncooperative bride.   Mirnatius does
indeed marry Irina, but to her horror she finds out that Mirnatius
is possessed by a demon that wants to consume her because of her
Staryk blood.

So we have two women who are very unhappy with their marital
situations.  Miryem does not want a sexual relationship with the
Staryk king, so she manages to fend him off.  Unhappy as she is,
she has attained the ability to magically turn silver into gold
while residing in the Staryk kingdom.  Irina also doesn't want a
sexual relationship with Mirnatius, but he's okay with that for his
own reasons.

There's really a lot more going on here than what the reader sees
on the surface.  As a child, I was not exposed to more than a small
smattering of fairy tales, and certainly not most of Grimm's fairy
tales.  I don't, for example, recall ever reading, or having read
to me, Rumplestiltskin, upon which SPINNING SILVER riffs.  I'm sure
that the novel is borrowing heavily from other fairy tales,
although I can guess that one of them is Beauty and the Beast,
given the relationships between Miryem and the Staryk king as well
as Irina and Mirnatius who is possessed by a demon.  Aside from
riffing on fairy tales, Novik is weaving various social, political,
and racial commentary into the story to make it a fuller, richer

SPINNING SILVER is not only a terrific follow up to UPROOTED, it is
worthy of its status as a Hugo finalist.  SPINNING SILVER has
already won the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel of 2018.  I
suspect there are many more awards in Novik's future.  [-jak]


TOPIC: INFINITE POWERS by Steven Strogatz (book review by Gregory

This recent math history book is mostly about Calculus and its
evolution from Archimedes to NASA's use of it with the two-body
problem and onward to its future use with AI and Chaotic systems.
Archimedes was using an early form of Integral Calculus to
determine areas under a curve and curved volumes, but it took till
the 1600's with the efforts of Newton and Leibniz to more fully
complete calculus by them using derivatives and discovering the
Fundamental Theorem of Calculus.  Though Calculus needs a
continuous function and Quantum Mechanics deals with discrete
entities there is a use for Calculus even in Quantum Mechanics.
Schrodinger's equation in Quantum Mechanics describes a probability
wave that determines the location of an election and Calculus is
needed to solve for this equation.  If you saw the film "Hidden
Figures" it showed Katherine Johnson using the two-body problem
which is solvable in Calculus to determine the correct trajectory
of John Glenn's Mercury capsule for a successful re-entry into the
atmosphere.  She also used it on other missions like the lunar
landing.  Calculus can be used in Chaotic systems as long as you do
not exceed a period of time called the predictability horizon.
Before that limit the system is determinism which makes it
predictable with Calculus but after then it is not.  This author
makes this subject interesting and enjoyable to read and learn more
about.  [-gf]


by Dorothy J. Heydt and Peter Trei)

In response to Mark's comments on THE MORTAL STORM in the 07/26/19
issue of the MT VOID, Dorothy J. Heydt writes:

Very interesting review; I had never heard of this film before.
(Maybe not surprising?)  Posthumous kudos to Mayer for defying the
German Ambassador and releasing the thing.

Now I'm wondering whether Moskowitz was inspired to title his
history of tempest-in-a-teapot early fandom THE IMMORTAL STORM
[which I'm sure everyone on [rec.arts.sf.fandom] has at least heard
of, if not read; I actually own a copy and have read it, it's
awful] by his memory of the film, or at least its title.  [-djh]

Peter Trei responds:

I could well believe Moskowitz referenced the film--his book was
1951, not too long after.  However, I find an earlier use of the
phrase in a short poem by William Blake "A Fairy Leapt Upon My
Knee" (~1793).  The context is so different from the book or film,
that I suspect independent invention.  [-pt]


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

Our book group has two themes we're working on: international
science fiction, and early science fiction.  Since we picked a half
dozen of each, and we meet only bi-monthly, we're covered through
2020.  This month it was DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE by Robert Louis
Stevenson, or more accurately, "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and
Mr Hyde".  First, one hardly ever sees the full title, must as one
rarely sees Edward Gibbon's work called "The History of the Decline
and Fall of the Roman Empire".  Second, the work is a novella, not
a novel, hence the quotation marks.  (I referred to "The History of
the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" as a title, not as the
book itself, hence the quotation marks for that.)  And lastly,
there are no periods after "Dr" and "Mr" because the British usage
is to put periods after abbreviations that are initial segments of
the words they represent.

It's amazing how one can write 150 words about a book without
writing anything about the book.


One thing that someone familiar with the films but not the book
will notice is that the fact that Hyde and Jekyll are the same
person is kept concealed under the end of the story.  In the films,
one invariably sees the transformation when it first happens.  Oh,
there is a big reveal at the end when everyone else discovers that
Hyde and Jekyll are the same person, but the audience knows.  I
suppose that the audience would know even without being shown,
unless the names were changed and no one posted any spoilers on the
Internet.  So "concealing" the secret in a film would just be

Another difference is that while Stevenson wrote in Victorian
Britain and could be only very vague about Hyde's disreputable
activities, films made since then have been much more frank, and
had much more sex.  The 1932 Fredric March version was made before
the Hayes Code, and had some very salacious scenes, particularly of
Miriam Hopkins lying in bed, waving a bare gartered leg.  The
Spencer Tracy version had to tone it down a bit, but certainly
anything recent is much more graphic.  Whether that is better is a
matter of dispute.

People reading the book now probably see the basic idea as very
Freudian, with Hyde representing the id, and Jekyll the ego
attempting to rid himself of the id and be entirely super-ego.  So
it's worth noting that Stevenson pre-dated Freud.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today
           is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent
           are full of doubt.
                                           --Bertrand Russell