Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society

03/13/20 -- Vol. 38, No. 37, Whole Number 2110

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper, * *

Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, * *

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Submissions to the MT VOID


(film reviews by Mark R. Leeper)

FOUNDATION'S EDGE (letter of comment by Fred Lerner)

WHILE NERO FIDDLED (letter of comment by Paul Dormer)


AUGGIE, RIVERDALE, and PERI APISTON (letter of comment

by Heath Row)

Retro Hugo Awards, Sonnets, Gmail Glitch?, Steve Stiles

(letter of comment by Kip Williams)



by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Submissions to the MT VOID

Just a few comments on submissions to the MT VOID:

The MT VOID is finalized early on Wednesday morning, so anything

that arrives later than that will not appear until at least the

next week.

The best way to send anything is to send it to both Mark and me, as

I do most of the assembling and he does most of the commenting.

You can address it to * *.
That address appears

in the colophon each week.

Articles, letters, etc, should be sent as text (txt or doc) files.

They should not have italics, smart quotes, diacritical marks,

images, or anything other than plain ASCII characters.  Yeah, I

know, that's so 20th Century, but that's how we do it: we start

with a plain ASCII text file, and convert that to other formats as

needed.  It's also easier if you haven't put carriage-returns or

line feeds in (other than paragraphing).  We reserve the right

to "accidently" misplace any submission that does not

follow these standards and would require a lot of time to

re-format.  (We no longer spit on such submissions because

our La-Z-Boy was acquiring unsightly stains.) [-ecl and



TOPIC: Mini-Reviews, Part 5 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper)

Yet more mini-reviews:

THE SPY BEHIND HOME PLATE: For years I have been curious to learn

more about Moe Berg.  There have been books about Berg, who was a

sort of Renaissance man on his own.  He picked up foreign

languages incredibly fast.  He became a catcher for several Major

League Baseball teams.  Oddly, this led him to being a spy for the

OSS.  Later he studied the effects of nuclear weapons on civilians.

THE SPY BEHIND HOME PLATE tells the story of Moe Berg.  There are

two kinds of goal for a documentary.  A documentary can deliver a

payload of information the audience did not know.  In this case it

need not have a great poetic beauty.  It is a message container.

On the other hand it can have a lyric beauty, in which case it may

not tell any great information.  This film uses a very traditional

format of film footage and talking heads.  But the story of Moe

Berg is incredible   It is amazing what Berg did, and it makes for

an amazing story.  Rating: low +3 (-4 to +4).

LITTLE JOE: This is a good science fiction in an ugly container.

It is sort of an earthbound INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.  A

laboratory is developing a new decorative plant which is also an

herb.  The lab is growing a crop of the little plant to be sure it

is safe from causing allergic reactions.  It also affects the human

nervous system to make human happy.  That adds up to a plant that

controls humans.  It essentially makes humans do its bidding.  The

background is irritating and slow, but is clever enough to make the

film worth seeing.  Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4).



TOPIC: FOUNDATION'S EDGE (letter of comment by Fred Lerner)

In response to Evelyn's comments on FOUNDATION'S EDGE in the

03/06/20 issue of the MT VOID, Fred Lerner writes:

[Evelyn wrote,] "Someone refers to himself as a groundhog; did

colonists really take groundhogs throughout the galaxy?"  [-ecl]

Of course they did. How else could they forecast the weather?



TOPIC: WHILE NERO FIDDLED (letter of comment by Paul Dormer)

In response to Evelyn's comments on WHILE NERO FIDDLED in the

03/06/20 issue of the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:

I think I've only seen clips from [WHILE NERO FIDDLED], back in the

sixties on a compilation programme on TV of the Golden Age of

British Comedy.  But it's the sort of film that the BBC would have

shown in the Fifties and Sixties.

It starred Tommy Trinder, who was an immensely popular comedian of

the period.  The same year he made a film called CHAMPAGNE CHARLIE

about two rival music hall entertainers in Victorian London.  I

have seen this quite recently.  Not much plot, but some great

songs.  (One of the songs is by the eccentric British composer Lord

Berners and I have it on a CD of some of his music.)  [-pd]



AUGGIE, RIVERDALE, and PERI APISTON (letter of comment by Heath


In response to various comments in recent issues of the MT VOID,

Heath Row writes:

Hello from southern California!  I received The MT Void Vol. 38

#11-12 and 14 through the N3F franking service and read a printout

of them while waiting for my son during his flute lesson.  I

enjoyed them thoroughly and particularly appreciate the ASCII art

banner, which reminded me of e-zines and Usenet circa 1991.

This past weekend, my wife, son and I went to a stage production of

FRANKENSTEIN at UCLA intended for radio broadcast as an audio

drama.  It pretty closely followed the novel rather than the

Universal movies, so Frankie did not have a flat head.  In fact,

the creature was voiced by Stacy Keach!  It was put on by LA

Theatre Works, which records live theater and staged readings to

air on the radio, as well as online.  You can check it out at

**, but Frankenstein isn't available yet.

Evelyn's review of THE LADY FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, which just came

out in paperback, offers good advice.  Seems like the author had

several books they could have written--and that the resulting book

doesn't really accomplish any of the goals well.

The movie AUGGIE reminds me a little of the movie HER, only without

the virtual embodiment aspect.  Might make for an interesting


Dale Skran's review of RIVERDALE might very well be the best piece

written about the show I've read--not that I've read a ton about

the show.  I had no idea there was a Red Circle connection, and I

would really enjoy a series of MLJ Comics or Archie Comics

superhero programs.  Just imagine a show based on the Ditko issues

of "The Fly"!  I watched the show when it first aired but dropped

off after a few episodes.  I might have to return to it based on

Skran's perspective! I know I'm writing this loc four months later,

so he might have already shared his thoughts, but I'm curious what

he thinks about the new "Nancy Drew" show.

And finally, Evelyn's comments on Palaephatus are fascinating.  I

don't read Greek or French, but it sounds like PERI APISTON should

be more widely available and read.

You might get a kick out of this.  I've always thought of your zine

as Mount Void and just today for the first time ever, tonight,

realized that it's also "the empty void."  Oh, geez.  [-hr]

Evelyn responds:

It's probably time to include this again:

The MT VOID started out in 1978 as the newsletter of the newly-

founded Science Fiction Club at Bell Labs.  The club was eventually

referred to as the "Mt. Holz Science Fiction Club", from the inter-

company mail designations for the three locations of AT&T, Lucent,

Avaya, etc., where we once had meetings:

MT Middletown

HO Holmdel

LZ Lincroft

We worked in Middletown and so named the zine the MT VOID,

pronounced "em-tee void".

When we, and thousands of others, retired in 2001, the club

basically ceased to exist.  However, the zine kept rolling along,

now at its (checks heading) 2110th issue.  Hoping not to jinx it, I

will note we haven't missed a Friday publication in decades, having

sent it from an Internet cafe in South Africa, a hotel in Venice, a

cruise ship in Greece, someplace with power during Hurricane Sandy,

and a hospital bed (when I had a broken hip).  We did once send it

a day early, before we headed into a WiFi-free zone around Crater

Lake.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Retro Hugo Awards, Sonnets, Gmail Glitch?, Steve Stiles

(letter of comment by Kip Williams)

In response to Evelyn's comments on films eligible for the Retro

Hugo Awards this year in the 03/06/20 issue of the MT VOID, Kip

Williams writes:

I've enjoyed THE CANTERVILLE GHOST on TV more than once.  Laughton

is pretty much okay, O'Brien is a standout, and Young is okay.  My

favorite scene is the jitterbug number, where GIs dance with GIs,

and with O'Brien.  The thee-ing and thou-ing always grates because

nobody ever seems to understand that there are rules, and you don't

just throw those things in there like the -eth ending in a Three

Stooges comedy.

If THE PHANTOM is the 1943 serial, here's most of it.  Looks like

the later parts might skip from Chapter 11 to Chapter 15, but by

that time, you probably would do the same:


(Not to brag, but I Farbered it in 3.81 seconds.)

Also, congratulate me for taking third place in a local sonnet

contest sponsored by the Shakespeare Society, out of a field of

seven.  I believe this officially makes me a Third-Rate Poet!

On a technical note, the end of your zine sometimes gets cut off in

my GMail, even if there are only one or two lines after the cutoff

point.  I don't know if this has anything to do with the length, or

if it just does it for clicks or something.  It didn't happen the

last couple of times, if I recall.

Personal note: I dreamt I saw Steve Stiles last night.  He and

Elaine had exploited some loophole that made it possible for them

to throw a big wake with dozens of fans at their house, just like a

small convention.  Dream, schmeam; I was glad to give him a send-

off, as long as he had to go.  (I also watched his memorial

service, which was streamed.)  [-kw]


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

One more comment on THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood (Anchor,

ISBN 978-0-385-49081-8) (reviewed in the 02/21/20 issue of the MT


One of the people in my discussion group seemed to think that the

fact the cassettes were found in the safe house in Maine indicates

that Offred did not make it to Canada, or she would have taken the

cassettes with her.  My feeling is that the fact that the cassettes

were found in Maine really tells us nothing, except that Offred

probably wasn't caught in the safe house in Maine, since I assume

her captors would have searched the house (and probably burned it).

When she left it to flee to Canada, it would make a lot more sense

to *leave* the cassettes than to take them:

- If she made it to Canada, she could always recreate them, under

better conditions.

- If she was caught on the way to Canada, her captors would not

also have the cassettes--they would still be in the safe house

where they might still be of use.

One could argue that the fact that the researchers in the epilogue

know Offred only from the cassettes in Maine might indicate that

she did not make it to Canada, since there is no other record of

her.  Then again, there are plenty of diaries, etc., that get lost

over a period of hundreds of years.

On the whole, then, the mere existence of the tapes in Maine tells

us nothing.

I wrote about LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott (Dover, ISBN 978-0-

486-82806-0) in the 01/24/20 issue, but I just watched the BBC

mini-series and it occurs to me that Alcott uses many tropes from

Jane Austen's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY.  For example, in both books a

daughter is deathly ill and the mother is sent for (in person in

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, by telegram in LITTLE WOMEN), rushes to be

by her daughter's side and arrives to be told that the daughter has

just turned the corner and will recover.

And there is also the idea that one can easily transfer one's

affections from someone to their sibling (Lucy Steele transfers her

affections from Edward Steele to his brother Robert, and Laurie

loves Jo but then decides he love Amy).  One can argue that Lucy is

basically a gold-digger and never loved either, but still...



                     Mark Leeper

* *

          You may have a dog that won't sit up, roll over or even

          cook breakfast, not because she's too stupid to learn how

          but because she's too smart to bother.

                                          --Rick Horowitz