Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
08/16/19 -- Vol. 38, No. 7, Whole Number 2080

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper,
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper,
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        Retro Hugo Winners for 1943
        Possible MT VOID Changes (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
        PERIHELION SUMMER by Greg Egan (book review by Joe Karpierz)
        PERMAFROST by Alastair Reynolds (book review by Joe Karpierz)
        DRIVEN (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
        Ode to Joy (letters of comment by Scott Dorsey,
                Dorothy J. Heydt, Paul Dormer, Joy Beeson, Kevin R)
                (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Retro Hugo Winners for 1943

Here are the 1944 Retrospective Hugo Award winners, announced
yesterday at the Dublin Worldcon.  I will be commenting on them
next week, along with the "regular" Hugos, which will be announced

Best Novel: CONJURE WIFE by Fritz Leiber, Jr.
Best Novella: THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Best Novelette: "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" by Lewis Padgett
Best Short Story: "King of the Gray Spaces" ("R is for Rocket")
        by Ray Bradbury
Best Graphic Story: Wonder Woman #5: Battle for Womanhood,
        written by William Moulton Marsden, art by Harry G. Peter
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: HEAVEN CAN WAIT
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE
Best Editor, Short Form: John W. Campbell
Best Professional Artist: Virgil Finlay
Best Fanzine: Le Zombie, editor Wilson "Bob" Tucker
Best Fan Writer: Forrest J. Ackerman



TOPIC: Possible MT VOID Changes (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

I made an unhappy discovery a while back.  The writer's block I was
experiencing turned out to be (most likely) one of the effects of
Parkinson's Disease.  I was diagnosed with this about eighteen
months ago, and wrote about it in the 02/15/19 issue of the MT

This had several effects on my writing.  Spelling and format
corrections were taking much more time to fix.  It seemed like when
I tried to type a word it would come out miss-spelled.  An attempt
to fix the spelling would often make things worse.  Single letters
would come out doubled and double letters would come out singly.
There was more than one way it would happen.  It seemed like it has
more than one cause.  At one time I could sit down at a keyboard
and start typing and the words just rolled out very easily.  I seem
to have lost that talent.  I was not able to write a film review
without frequently hours of correcting.  And when I did try to
write the ideas and wording just stopped coming as if I had a
monumental case of writer's' block.

People have suggested speech-to-text programs, in particular Dragon
Speak, but it turns out that Dragon Speak is no longer produced for
the Mac.  I have tried other programs and I don't interface well
with them.

Evelyn and I have been writing most of the VOID for what is no
longer just  "several years."  I think it is fair to say it is now
"many" years.  I am afraid that my contribution will be greatly
diminished.  Now I am not saying the VOID is going away.  I am not
even saying it will change in form.  But what I am saying is that
it may contain less of my writing.  My columns may be shorter; I
may not even have a new column in every issue.  There will probably
also be fewer and shorter film reviews.

In any case I want to thank our readers for their loyalty.  And I
will continue to work on the VOID, with just what will probably a
lower output.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: PERIHELION SUMMER by Greg Egan (copyright 2019,,
$14.99, trade paperback, ISBN 978-1-250-31378-2) (book review by
Joe Karpierz)

Climate change is here.  But what if that climate change was not
brought about by the residents of planet Earth, but by an external
force?  And what if the result of the application of that external
force makes anything we're seeing and projecting look like small
potatoes?  And how will humanity handle it?  Greg Egan's latest
novella, "Perihelion Summer", attempts to deal with those

A small black hole, the size of about one tenth the mass of the
sun, has entered the solar system.  The black hole is given the
name Taraxippus.  (A little research shows that a taraxippus was a
ghost of sorts blamed for frightening horses at hippodromes
throughout ancient Greece.)  Matt and his friends refuse to take
any chances.  They build a self-sustaining aquaculture rig which
they dub Mandjet.  They feel that no matter the effects of the
passage of Taraxippus, they will be safe at sea during its passage.
I'm going to guess that Egan chose the name Taraxippus very
carefully and deliberately, as all the careful calculations about
the effects of the passage of the black hole near the Earth are
thrown out the window when it is discovered that Taraxippus is
actually a *pair* of orbiting black holes.

As usual with something like this, there is good news and bad news.
The good news is that the black holes do not cause any direct
damage to the planet.  The bad news is that they pass close enough
to permanently alter the orbit of the Earth around the sun.  The
result is that the seasons are now more severe; winters are colder,
summers are hotter, portions of the planet are rendered basically
uninhabitable, and the melting of the polar ice caps is

The point of "Perihelion Summer", I think, is not that climate
change is coming or is already here, but that the various peoples
of the world have to find ways to deal with it--together.  The
climate change that Egan describes is more severe than anything
we'll experience in our lifetimes, I think.  Maybe unintentionally,
but it seems that Egan maybe is telling us that as a species, we
must learn to work together to solve the problems that are directly
in front of us, whether they are self induced or brought about by
nature.  [-jak]


TOPIC: PERMAFROST by Alastair Reynolds (copyright 2019,,
$14.99, trade paperback, ISBN 978-1-1250-30356-1) (book review by
Joe Karpierz)

I have been a fan of the writing of Alastair Reynolds for a long
time.  I've read a good number of his novels (and one of his
novellas, "Slow Bullets") and have never been disappointed (I do
aim to read the entirety of his catalogue, but that will take some
time and I don't believe I'll be disappointed in any of it).  And
I'm not this time around either.

How do you feel about a time travel, climate change, near-future
disaster story?  I'm not sure I've encountered one of those before,
but in Reynolds' latest novella "Permafrost", I have now, and I'm
thoroughly impressed.

In the year 2080, a group of scientists have gathered at the edge
of the Arctic Circle in Russia to perform what really is a last-
ditch experiment.  They are attempting to make a very small
alteration to the past which will a) leave recorded history intact,
and b) avert the upcoming catastrophe that will wipe out humanity
if the experiment is not successful.

The story is not told in a linear fashion, and that is somehow
appropriate for a time travel story.  The narrative begins in the
middle, and works its way back to the beginning of the 2080 time
period as well as that of the year 2028.  Let me get back to you on

The final recruit is Valentina Lidova, an elderly schoolteacher who
is brought on board in large part because she is the daughter of
mathematician Luda Lidova, whose research into the mathematics of
paradox is basically the foundation of the time travel experiment.
Valentina is one of several pilots who are injected into the past.
The pilots don't know when they'll eventually be inserted into the
body of a host, or who that host will be.  It turns out that
Valentina is the first--well, sort of.

I mentioned 2028.  In that year, a young woman has brain surgery,
and after she comes out she begins hearing another voice in her
head.  Well, yes, guess who.  Valentina and her host, Tatiana, get
to know each other.  And in the process, we get to know about both
of them--Valentina's relationship with her mother the famous
mathematician, and Tatiana's rather reckless lifestyle--as well as
what the great catastrophe is that project Permafrost is trying to
stop as well as how it started.

Reynolds' treatment of time travel and paradoxes is interesting,
and how it works leads to my comment earlier of "well, sort of"
when stating that Valentina was the first to make contact.  It
really is all relative, and the uniqueness of how time travel works
in "Permafrost" allows the reader not to roll their eyes and go
"really?".   The workings of time travel paradox in "Permafrost"
are quite clever and something I've never seen before.

"Permafrost" is a good one.  I highly recommend it.  [-jak]


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

CAPSULE: Bill Huffman, a minor paid informant for the FBI, is used
to skating the thin ice near the edge of the law.  He might have
stayed inconsequential until he meets his new neighbor, John
DeLorean, temporarily the most successful automobile executive and
designer ever. After an enviable career as a leading-edge designer
for the major auto companies he is now taking what he learned and
is using it and designing what is to be the most superior car on
the road.  Or is he?  DeLorean has announced that he has designed
and is building the car that will bear his name.  However, DeLorean
has a cash-flow problem and he decides to have Bill do a drug run
to pick up cocaine for the auto executive.  DRIVEN is a fast-paced
joyride of a film based on the DeLorean legal case that took the
attention of the country.  Directed by: Nick Hamm; written by:
Colin Bateman.  Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

DRIVEN opens to a montage of short flashbacks signaling the viewer
that this will be a complex story.  It is told at the frenetic pace
and the energy of Tom Cruise's AMERICAN MADE or the Coen Brothers'
BURN AFTER READING or maybe the chaotic rapid fire of LORD OF WAR.

We know from the start that something has gone wrong since the
story unfolds in flashbacks during a high-profile trial.  We see
the story through the eyes of Bill, a car enthusiast and private
pilot (played by Jason Sudeikis) who finds his new next-door
neighbor is the famous John DeLorean (played by Lee Pace).  He is
totally excited to meet the Big Man, but has a bit of a distraction
at the moment.  The FBI is blackmailing Bill to get to a small-time
drug smuggler.  But DeLorean would be a much higher profile arrest
so they use Bill to try to entrap DeLorean.

DRIVEN is something of a romp, but it also is something of a
lament.  Mostly the writer reminds us multiple times of that there
are many virtues of DeLorean's planned car.  Even so your Federal
Bureau of Investigation protected you from his plan of unleashing
his car on the American road.  As such the film follows many of the
same issues as Francis Ford Copula's TUCKER: THE MAN AND HIS DREAM

The best performance of the film is provided by Lee Pace who is
charismatic in bright silver hairstyle and his opaque sunglasses.
He is razor-sharp but still maybe not sharp as he would need to be
to win at this game.  This film is based only on the folklore of
John DeLorean, but it still is a wild ride.  I am driven to rate
DRIVEN a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.

DRIVEN is in theaters and on digital/demand August 16, 2019.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:



TOPIC: Ode to Joy (letters of comment by Scott Dorsey, Dorothy
J. Heydt, Paul Dormer, Joy Beeson, Kevin R)

In response to Mark's review of ODE TO JOY in the 08/09/19 issue of
the MT VOID, Scott Dorsey writes:

[Mark writes,] "I have to admit that I have always found the
titling of Beethoven's 'Ninth Symphony' just a bit puzzling.  Why
would we need an 'Ode to Joy'?  I would have thought that joy was
the one commodity that just about everyone would be in favor of.
We all love joy." [-mrl]

That's the point.  When [Friedrich] Schiller wrote the lyrics, they
were originally an Ode to Freedom.  Turns out the censors didn't
like that.  They were a bit suspicious of freedom.  But everybody
is in favor of joy, so that one passed through for publication.

Dorothy J. Heydt responds:


How appropriate, then, that when the Berlin Wall fell, Leonard
Bernstein conducted a performance of the 9th with "Freude" changed
to "Freiheit!"  [-djh]

Scott Dorsey observes:

Indeed, and I believe he talked about it at the time.  [-sd]

Paul Dormer adds:

I was thinking that.

When Michael Tippett came to write his Third Symphony in the early
Seventies, he ended it with four songs to poems he wrote himself.
(People are very divided over Tippett's attempts to write his own
words.)  The last one is introduced by the fanfare from Beethoven's
9th and starts with the words, "They said that when she waved her
wings, the goddess joy would make us one." and then goes on to
catalogue the horrors of the Twentieth Century.  Even so, it ends
on a note of hope.

I was a teenager at university when that was premiered and I
remember listening to it on a small radio in my room.  As the first
three songs are blues settings, including a solo flugel horn, the
critics soon christened the work Beethoven meets the Blues.  [-pd]

Joy Beeson also responds:

We sang "Joyful We Adore Thee" in church this morning, but the
music leader didn't mention that tidbit when he gave the history of
the song.

Or maybe I wasn't paying attention.  [-jb]

Scott Dorsey replies:

Now, *that* is a third set of lyrics.  Another example of the
church co-opting secular music and turning it into their own thing.

And Kevin R asks:

Ever think they were singing about you, when you were younger?  :-)

[A continuation of this discussion can be found on Google Groups at]


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

There is a genre of story that is orthogonal to the usual genres of
science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and so on: the Jewish story.  In
mysteries, there are the Harry Kemelman "Rabbi" books.  Even
Westerns have their examples: the film THE FRISCO KID, for one.
For a long time science fiction's examples seemed to be limited to
those stories collected by Jack Dann in WANDERING STARS (1974).
Dann published a sequel MORE WANDERING STARS in 1999, and we have
seen a few more anthologies, as well as works from such authors as
Lisa Goldstein, Joel Rosenberg, and Lavie Tidhar with a strong
Jewish element to them.  This week I have three books from this
sub-genre.  And just coincidentally, all three are told by first-
person narrators: the father of the bride, the dybbuk, and Benoit
Mandelbrot, respectively.

1-5154-2379-9) (2019) is a recent work of Jewish science fiction.
This is described by the author as a mash-up of the films FATHER OF
THE BRIDE and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.  I would have sworn that it
was inspired by Kimmel having recently been the father of a bride
and experienced the current wedding insanity firsthand, but his
afterword seems to contradict this.  The premise is that someone in
a lab re-animates a corpse.  It is unauthorized, of course, but the
result is "Frank"--and a series of lawsuits over his sentience,
humanity, age, and relationship to someone claiming to be his
sister.  These are settled much more quickly in court than is
entirely believable, but I suppose this is literary license.  All
of this ties in with the upcoming wedding of Frank and the first-
person narrator's daughter.  The book does have the same problem a
lot of mash-ups do: the two parts don't thoroughly mix.
Discussions of what kind of wedding cake to get have little
connection to the science fictional or philosophical aspects of
Frank's existence.  The good news is that both halves are
reasonably engaging (no pun intended!).  I found the philosophical,
religious, and legal discussions to be the more interesting, but
the wedding planning is mildly amusing.  For some reason, this
reminded me of THE DYKE & THE DYBBUK (see below), but while THE
DYKE & THE DYBBUK seemed to be written specifically for a Jewish
audience, FATHER OF THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is accessible to non-
Jewish readers as well.

[Do wedding vendors require checks?  The narrator at one point is
glad he packed his checkbook; I would have thought in 2019 everyone
involved would be taking credit cards.]

THE DYKE & THE DYBBUK by Ellen Galford (ISBN 978-1-8780-6751-7)
(1994) is an older modern Jewish fantasy.  In fact, I read and
reviewed it twenty years ago, in the 01/06/95 issue.  (So long ago
was it that I listed several brick-and-mortar bookstores from which
one could mail-order it.)  At the time I was lukewarm towards it,
and to some extent I still am.  It is still unlikely to appeal to a
non-Jewish reader.  But I found myself enjoying it a lot more than
many novels I read (or start) because they are highly praised.
This tale of a dybbuk "haunting" a lesbian London taxi driver
because of a 200-year-old curse may have a cast full of
stereotypes, particularly in the aunts, but as has been observed,
these stereotypes are often based on a reality, e.g., the aunt who
doesn't trust anyone else's kitchen as being kosher enough.

So I have to give it a more positive review for Jewish readers, but
still have the caveat that Gentile readers may not find it as

MANDELBROT THE MAGNIFICENT by Liz Ziemska (ISBN 978-0-7653-9805-5)
is told with an elderly Benoit Mandelbrot as first-person narrator,
but it is set when Mandelbrot is in his teens, fleeing Poland and
later Paris as the Nazis spread across Europe.  Mandelbrot is
fascinated by mathematics, particularly such concepts as the
Sierpinski triangle, Peano curves, and the Hausdorff dimension, and
the Kabbalist concept of the Sefirot.  Mandelbrot even comes up
with a plan to use all this to help save his family.

The story reminded me of some of Ellen Klages's work, particularly
PASSING STRANGE and "Caligo Lane".  It is certainly recommended to
people interested in mathematics, though I suppose it goes without
saying that the story is fiction.  [-ecl]


                                           Mark Leeper

           Here is that marriage of style and content we look for
           in all great writing. A shatteringly vulgar and worthless
           life captured in shatteringly vulgar and worthless prose.
                                          --Stephen Fry, PAPERWEIGHT