Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society

04/24/20 -- Vol. 38, No. 43, Whole Number 2116

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper, * *

Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, * *

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*Important* COVID-19 Correction

Diminished Expectations (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,

Lectures, etc. (NJ)

My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in May (comments

by Mark R. Leeper)

DRIFTWOOD by Marie Brennan (book review by Joe Karpierz)

Non-Fantasy "Twilight Zone" Episodes (letters of comment

by Daniel Kimmel and Steve Milton)

THE WIND ON THE MOON and the "Prix Hugo" Speech

(letters of comment by Paul Dormer, Kevin R,

and John Hertz)

Social Distancing, the Zombie Apocalypse, and OUTBREAK

(letter of comment by John Purcell)

MOBY-DICK and Great American Novels (letter of comment

by John Hertz)

This Week's Reading (THE DECAMERON [Introduction and Day 1])

(book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: *Important* COVID-19 Correction

In the 04/17/20 issue of the MT VOID, A YouTube video was

referenced which indicated that if you have no fever it's very

likely you also are not infected.  One of the members sister, who

is a doctor, pointed out that, no, lots are asymptomatic.  So a

lack of fever is not a good indicator.  [Please note that the MT

VOID does not give medical advice.  We get ourselves into enough

fiascos without telling people how to avoid the plague.  -mrl]


TOPIC: Diminished Expectations (comments by Mark R. Leeper)

Life is just not as fun as it was a couple of months ago.  It has

really started wearing on me.  Just yesterday I told Evelyn that I

really needed to unwind a little.  I wanted to go someplace fancy

for dinner ... like maybe the living room.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,

Lectures, etc. (NJ)

Needless to say, everything here is tentative.

All Middletown meetings cancelled/postponed until further notice.

May 28, 2020: [almost definitely canceled/postponed: THE DARK FOREST

by Cixin Liu, Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM]

July 23, 2020: CLIPPER OF THE CLOUDS by Jules Verne (a.k.a.


published by Ace in 1961 in an omnibus titled MASTER OF THE

WORLD, which is the title of the sequel), Old Bridge Public

Library, 7PM


September 24, 2020: TBD from Europe/Latin America,

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 May (comments by Mark

R. Leeper)

Actually I am composing and writing this in late March.  My world

has changed a lot since the beginning of March and the odds suggest

that you might be in a very different world from the world I am

living in.  How about a film that is about a dramatic world change.

In this case it is the third film in Andejrz Wajda's war trilogy,


The setting is Poland, May 1945.  Germans had very recently given

up the country to the control to the control of the Communists.

Andrezj and Maciek, two soldiers from the Homeguard, botch an

attempt to assassinate a certain Communist functionary.  Their

superior orders them to complete their mission.

Wajda is an artist at creating claustrophobic settings.  This is

his third film.  His directly previous film was KANAL whose

compatriots are hiding the Nazis hiding in sewers.

[ASHES AND DIAMONDS, Monday, May 11, 3:45 AM]

There are also a couple of "festivals":

Friday, May 1:

8:00 PM  Cocoon (1985)

10:15 PM  It Came From Outer Space (1953)

11:45 PM  Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

2:15 AM  Maniac (1963)

3:45 AM  Stop Me Before I Kill (1961)

Monday, May 18:

6:00 AM  Devil Bat, The (1940)

7:15 AM  Doctor X (1932)

8:45 AM  Murder Of Dr. Harrigan, The (1936)

10:00 AM  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)

12:00 PM  Brain That Wouldn't Die, The (1962)

2:00 PM  Hands of a Stranger (1962)

4:15 PM  Omega Man, The (1971)

6:00 PM  Terminal Man, The (1974)

Friday, May 22:

8:00 PM  Mad Monster Party (1967)

10:00 PM  Daydreamer, The (1966)

12:00 AM  Wacky World of Mother Goose, The (1967)

1:30 AM  Nursery Rhyme Mysteries (1943)

4:00 AM  Eraserhead (1977)



TOPIC: DRIFTWOOD by Marie Brennan (copyright 2020, Tachyon

Publications, $15.95 trade paperback (ISBN: 978-1-61696-346-0),

$9.99 digital formats (ISBN: 978-1-61696-347-7), 224pp) (book

review by Joe Karpierz)

Marie Brennan is an award-winning author whose work first garnered

award attention back in 2003.  To me, however, she was unknown

until I read DRIFTWOOD.  Driftwood is a setting, a set of short

fiction, and a novel.  Driftwood a place is where worlds go to die,

described as a "post-apocalyptic realm where the apocalypse has not

ended".  Worlds, towns, villages enter Driftwood at the mist, and

slowly but surely migrate inwards, fragment, shrinking, and dying

until they fall into the Crush, never to be seen or heard from

again (If science fiction is your thing, think of the Crush as the

center of a black hole and the shreds, mist, and everything else

around it the event horizon of the black hole.  It might be a quite

accurate analogy, but it worked for me while I was reading it).

Brennan over the years has written several short works set in

Driftwood, and in the novel DRIFTWOOD brings them together with a

linking story to tell the tale not only of Driftwood itself, but of

one man, Last, who seems to be immortal.  Yes, DRIFTWOOD is what we

would call a fix-up novel, and it's only fitting that a series of

stories about a fragmented world that is brought together by a

mythical man should be tied together by a storyline that

investigates whether that man is a hero or something else entirely.

The center of the story--that man named Last--has been around since

anyone can remember.  His world fell into the Crush many years ago,

and by all rights he should be dead.  But he isn't, and he has

spent his extended lifetime being guide, taking people to many and

various parts of the Shreds (the name for worlds that are

splintered and fragmented and heading toward the Crush) to help

with them hopes and dreams.  But one question he cannot answer is

how to save a particular world from dying. He doesn't know why he's

still around, but since he is, he's doing the best he can to make

life better for people heading toward the Crush.  Or is he?

The linking story, the bit that ties all the short pieces together,

is that there is a rumor that he has died.  People come from all

over to pay respects, honor, and commemorate him, but the question

arises of what kind of man was he really?

The stories approach the topic from multiple angles.  The title

story introduces the reader to the character of Last and the

concept of Driftwood.  Last is a guide, a helper of people, but

there are some things he will not do, and some questions he does

not want to answer.  Last is a "one-blood", not of mixed Drifter

ancestry.  He is tracked down by Alsanit, also a one-blood who is

looking for a way to save her world.  Last has fielded this

question before; his supplicants, if you will, believe that he must

know the answer because he's lived forever.  He answers them, but

is always melancholy when all is said and done.

"A Heretic by Degrees" see a priest trying to save his dying king

anyway he can.  He enlists the aid of Last, and they travel the

shreds far and wide looking for an answer.  They don't save the

king, but that's not the point of the story; the solution that Last

provides is one that saves the priest's people, but makes those

listening to the story wonder what ramifications his solution

really had and what it meant about the kind of man Last was.

"Into the Wind" is a story of a Drifter trying to get something

that she left behind in her home.  If she could only get it, there

may be a chance of saving the world, or so she thinks.  The story

is not about saving the world, the story is about making a keeping

a promise.  Last helps with that endeavor, although his ultimate

solution may be a bit different than what was expected.

"The Ascent of Unreason" is one of my favorite stories of the book.

The concept is simple.  Tolyat wants to make a map of Driftwood,

and he wants Last to help him.  Once again, the point of the story

isn't whether the map is actually made or not. For me the joy was

reading how Last, normally a very stoic and serious man, really got

caught up in the process, and the joy he experienced while helping


"Remembering the Light" is probably the most poignant and touching

tale, as while Last is helping Noirin with her quest of

remembering, we finally see him considering forgetting what he

remembers about his own world.  As he is the last of his people, if

he forgets, his world will be forgotten as well.  His decision,

while the right one for him, is also a tough one.

"The God of Driftwood" is a new story for the novel.  A mysterious

man saves a young man, Ctarl, from committing suicide by jumping

into the Crush.  Ctarl is regularly beaten by his father, and he

wants out, he wants it to end.  But he survives and ends up a long

way away from home, having been saved by the mysterious man, who he

believes is a god, but who in reality is last.  Ctarl builds up a

cult around his belief of this god, and like most cults, things

don't go well and end up somewhere else entirely.  It is another of

my favorites in the book.

"Smiling at the End of the World" is a piece of flash fiction that

really doesn't fit with the story of Last but certainly is a piece

of Driftwood myth and folklore.

I came into the novel not knowing what to expect other than what I

read in the summary for the book.  I was pleasantly surprised at

what I got and am glad that I decided to give this one a go.

Driftwood is an interesting and fractured place, and the stories in

the novel DRIFTWOOD may be just the stories we need to get us

through these fractured and difficult times.  [-jak]


TOPIC: Non-Fantasy "Twilight Zone" Episodes (letters of comment by

Daniel Kimmel and Steve Milton)

In response to Mark's comments on non-fantasy "Twilight Zone"

episodes in the 04/17/20 issue of the MT VOID, Daniel Kimmel


"The Old Man in the Cave" comes to mind, as does "Time Enough at

Last." Of course, both are set in a post-apocalyptic world.

Steve Milton suggests:

"Time Enough at Last"

Mark replies:

I would say that post-apocalypse stories are in the world of

fantasy.  Given another month or so that question may have to be

re-thought.  [-mrl]


TOPIC: THE WIND ON THE MOON and the "Prix Hugo" Speech (letters of

comment by Paul Dormer, Kevin R, and John Hertz)

In response to Evelyn's comments on the Hugo and Retro Hugo

finalists in the 04/17/20 issue of the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:

[Evelyn writes,] "One of the novels, Eric Linklater's THE WIND ON

THE MOON), is difficult/expensive to find."

Seems to have been republished--in the UK at least--in 2013 and is

available from Amazon UK as a paperback.  Also available for Kindle

and from Kobo.

I remember reading that at primary school (ages 7-11).  I found it

fun.  My first thought on reading that title was, that's the one

where the two kids turn themselves into kangaroos.  And I was

right.  I wonder how it'll hold up after nearly sixty years.  [-pd]

John Hertz writes:

Someone told me E had trouble finding THE WIND ON THE MOON (E.

Linklater, 1944), a fine book which reached this year's Retro-Hugo


There is a 2017 reprint which Penguin Random House offers at its

Website **-


saying it can also be found at Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, ,, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell's, Target,

Wal-Mart, Amazon.

There are various E-Book, Kindle, and Nook versions.

The 1951 reprint is variously available.  I found it at the L.A.

Public Library, see **; that

library has an E-book in its catalog; I don't know what public

libraries are convenient for E.  [-jh]

Evelyn responds:

Yes, it turns out that one can get it in the US for about $6 total

from Amazon.  However, since I'm not actually voting, I may pass on

ordering it.  At this point, I'm trying to buy fewer books.  And it

is not available either hard-copy or electronically from my library

consortium.  (I remember checking earlier, but right now, the

catalog is down and hard copies are unavailable anyway.)  [-ecl]

Kevin R writes:

If one hasn't read it, the "Prix Hugo" speech is on Kim Newman's






That has brightened my day!  [-kr]

Paul notes:

I was backstage for that and I couldn't hear a word.  Had to read

it afterwards.  [-pd]


TOPIC: Social Distancing, the Zombie Apocalypse, and OUTBREAK

(letter of comment by John Purcell)

Good morning, Evelyn and Mark. I trust you are both well and safely

ensconced in your hidey-hole in New Jersey.

We are taking things a day at a time. Some times we try taking it

two days at a time.  We accomplish while we can and keeping an eye

out for revenants.

Your survival experiences

All this reminds me of another movie besides CONTAGION (2011), one

that could have been a lot better, OUTBREAK.

Not a good film.  It started by showing you how threatening the

situation was, but then made the villain Donald Sutherland.  It was

like TITANIC was dramatic enough that it did not need a gunfight.

For some reason this reminds me of all sorts of "menace from outer

space" movies that use a viral infection or some malevolent alien

spore that lands on planet Earth that begins wreaking havoc before

the good guys win out over this "How can we do this? We're all

gonna die!" situation.  Some year in the future, a Ron Howard clone

will direct a made-for-streaming digital movie of this year's viral

apocalypse.  Then again, Howard's my age, so in ten years he'd only

be 76 and quite likely still be making movies, which means he could

very well do this one.  Let's see how accurate my prognostication

works out, provided we are still around at that time.

Well, before I sign off I will just say that I have been doing a

lot of reading in addition to my online classes, which means I'm

keeping relatively current on the science fiction magazine scene.

There are some good stories being published, and I might write

about these in the next issue of my personalzine ASKEW.  We shall

see.  [-jp]


TOPIC: MOBY-DICK and Great American Novels (letter of comment by

John Hertz)

In response to Kevin R.'s comments on MOBY-DICK in the 01/17/20

issue of the MT VOID and John Purcell's in the 01/24/20 issue, John

Hertz writes:

Gosh, Kevin R. quotes me to prove he hasn't read what he quoted (MT

VOID 2102, vol. 38 no. 29, 17 Jan 20).  I thank John Purcell (MT

VOID 2103, vol. 38 no. 30, 24 Jan) for applauding the language of

MOBY-DICK, and the details, which are vital; and for acknowledging

it as an astonishing literary achievement.  The same issue quotes

James I of England and VI of Scotland, "Dr Donne's verses are like

the peace of God, they pass all understanding" (John Donne 1572-

1631).  If this weren't so obviously meant as a witticism it might

recall the joke whose punch line is "Sir, Mozart is not on trial

here; you are."

Speaking of MOBY-DICK, people talk--and quarrel--about what might

be great American novels.  Now and then some SF is included.  What


YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT (Twain, 1889--a much misread book;

have you electronic people seen my note, which you can find at  THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ (Baum, 1900)?  ALAS,

BABYLON (Frank, 1959)?  THE END OF ETERNITY (Asimov, 1955--see my

note on it too)?  SPACE CADET (Heinlein, 1948)?  [-jh]


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

THE DECAMERON by Giovanni Boccaccio (translated by John Payne [*])

(Project Gutenberg) was written in 1353 and set during the Black

Death, the premise being that ten people take refuge in a villa

outside Florence, Italy, and entertain themselves by each telling

one story a day for ten days.

[*] Note: all the spellings and translations are from Payne's

translation, which is from 1886.  I hope that those reading other

translations will be able to at least recognize the characters'

names.  For example, "Jehannot" is "Giannotto" and "Melchizedek" is

"Melchisedech: in the translation "Classical Stuff You Should Know"

is using.

The "Classical Stuff You Should Know" (a.k.a. "Quarantine Stuff You

Should Know", a.k.a. QSYSK) is (was) an hour-long weekly podcast by

three teachers at a Classical Christian academy in Texas.  However,

social distancing being what it is, they have switched to a new

format: one single podcaster, doing a twenty-minute (or so) daily

podcast on THE DECAMERON, one story per day.  I had originally

thought that this column would not show up until mid-July, when the

book was done.  But it would be ludicrously long by then, so I will

probably run it in sections (e.g., ten stories, or ten days' story-

telling, at a time).  Actually, even this results in really long

columns--at least this first one!  I realize this may also conflict

with the columns about the Retro Hugo nominees, which should finish

before the Hugo voting deadline, which is currently unknown, but

I'm guessing late June or early July.  I may end up with two

columns in some issues.

The Introduction: Boccaccio writes, "On the following morning,

Wednesday to wit, ... departing Florence, [they] set out upon their

way; nor had they gone more than two short miles from the city,

when they came to the place fore-appointed of them..."  Think about

that--they were fleeing the city because of the plague, and their

idea of how far they should travel was ... two miles!  It turns out

that medieval villages tended to be only two or three miles apart

(cities were more distant from each other), so I guess two miles

was considered a safe distance.

"Master Ciappelletto (I-1)": Boccaccio works at making sure

Ciappelletto has broken all ten of the commandments and displayed

all seven of the deadly sins, and then some.  He particularly

notes, "Of women he was as fond as dogs of the stick, but in the

contrary he delighted more than any filthy fellow alive."  The

contrary to women being men, this is Boccaccio's roundabout way of

saying that Ciappelletto was a homosexual.  But I find this most

interesting as having the seeds of some of what I see as part of

Protestantism and the Reformation, namely, the idea that a human

being (the priest) has the power to forgive all one's sins, and

indeed, promote the sainthood of someone who conceals their sins.

It is true that the Catholic Church says that intentionally

concealing (mortal) sins makes the absolution null and void, but

then one has to ask, why confess to a fallible human being at all?

"Abraham the Jew" (I-2): If the persistence of Christianity, even

with its leaders and clerics apparently trying their hardest to

destroy it, is enough reason for Abraham to believe in it and to

convert, why isn't the persistence of Judaism, even with everyone

trying their hardest to destroy it, enough reason for Jehannot to

believe in it and to convert?  As we are reminded every year at

Passover in the Haggadah, "In each and every generation they rise

up against us to destroy us.  And the Holy One, blessed be He,

rescues us from their hands."  And indeed, though in 1353 Boccaccio

might write that Jehannot "fell to beseeching [Abraham] on friendly

wise leave the errors of the Jewish faith and turn to the Christian

verity, which he might see still wax and prosper, as being holy and

good, whereas his own faith, on the contrary, was manifestly on the

wane and dwindling to nought," yet now, 650 years later, Abraham's

faith has not dwindled to nought.  But I have to say that it is

delightful to read a story of this period in which the Jew is not a

villain, and in fact is an honorable and good man--this is

certainly better than Chaucer's "Prioress's Tale" of Little Saint

Hugh of Lincoln.

"Melchizedek and the Three Rings" (I-3): Not only a story in which

the Jew is the hero, but a story of religious tolerance as well.

It is worth noting that the Pope at the time of the Black Death and

the writing of THE DECAMERON issued a papal bull condemning

violence against the Jews over the Plague, said it was the Devil

who convinced people that the Jews had caused the Plague, and

directed the clergy to protect the Jews.  This may have affected

Boccaccio's favorable portrayal.  Conversely, not Chaucer nor

anyone else in Chaucer's England had seen a Jew in a hundred years,

as they had been expelled by Edward I in 1290 and had been

massacred in York a hundred years before that, in 1190.

The idea of giving the ring (and his inheritance) to all three sons

seems to indicate that while the sons may have been worthy, the

father clearly was not the sharpest tool in the shed (as you

noted).  It brings to mind Alexander saying he left his kingdom "to

the strongest"--yeah, no risk of problems there.

"The Monk and the Abbot" (I-4): There is not much to comment on

here--it's one of the standard tropes of the time, with a lustful

monk who manages to get what he wants without punishment because

the abbot is just as sinful.  What seems to be noteworthy are the

variations in translation.

In the original Italian, for example, the abbot is concerned about

his weight and so has the girl on top and himself on the bottom.

(Thanks, Google Translate!)  John Payne (1886) and J. M. Rigg

(1903) both refer to this, as does the translation used by QSYSK,

but John Florio's 1620 translation (the first one into English)

does not.  However, Payne drops the pay-off, which is in the other

versions (even Florio's): the monk says that he had not realized

how monks were supposed to use women (i.e., which position to use),

but having seen the abbot, he now knows and will always follow that

example.  Rigg is the only one to have both the set-up *and* the

pay-off, and hence the only one to really translate the whole joke

as a joke.

[At this point, I will comment that I would switch to Rigg, but

it's readable only on my desktop (individual HTML pages at

**, while

Payne is downloadable from Project Gutenberg.  Florio is much

harder to read; it's Jacobean English without the modernized

spelling one finds in most works from then.]

"The Marchioness and the King of France" (I-5): The podcaster

seemed a bit confused by what the marchioness was trying to say

when she said, "... women, albeit in apparel and dignities they may

differ somewhat from others, are natheless all of the same fashion

here as elsewhere."

I think the meaning of the marchioness's statement is expressed by

the proverb "in the dark all cats are gray".  Or as Benjamin

Franklin elaborated in his "Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of

a Mistress", (1745 June 25): "And as in the dark all Cats are grey,

the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least

equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice

capable of Improvement."

In other words, the marchioness is saying that just as no matter

how you "dress up" a hen (or as we would call it, a chicken), it

will still seem like chicken, and a lot like any other chicken, so

when it actually comes to physical love, the appearance of the

person will not make any difference.

("Chicken" refers to the species, composed of hens and roosters.

But my grandmother used to talk about how one made chicken soup

from a hen, which in the butcher shop parlance of her time meant an

older chicken.  These are now called stewing chickens.  The bottom

line of all this is when I read "hen", I think of someone/something

older, which actually ties in well with Franklin's statement.)

"An Honest Man and Hypocrisy" (I-6): When the inquisitor accuses

the good man by saying, "Then hast thou made Christ a wine-bibber

and curious in wines of choice, as if he were Cinciglione or what

not other of your drunken sots and tavern-haunters; and now thou

speakest lowly and wouldst feign this to be a very light matter!" I

was reminded of one of the many truly excellent speeches in the

play A CASE OF LIBEL by Henry Denker:

"You do not want to be called onto the witness stand to defend your

character.  A good lawyer could destroy the character of Jesus

Christ Himself.  'Mr. Christ, isn't it true that you are frequently

seen in the company of known prostitutes and criminals?  And

haven't you often been seen drinking?  Oh, only wine?  And only at

weddings?  And didn't you cause a riot in the Temple, destroying

the property of law-abiding merchants?'  If He fares that way, how

do you think you'll do?"

"Primasso and the Abbot of Cluny" (I-7): I don't have much to say

about the story, except the idea that the abbot would suddenly get

stingy towards this one person seems very contrived.  I will

however note that more recent translations probably eschew the word

"niggardliness"; see also the next story.  (Florio and Payne use

it; Rigg uses "avarice".  Rigg apparently says "Courtesy" instead

of "Liberality" in #8 which strikes me as not the right thing at


"The Niggardliness of Ermino" (I-8): Lauretta voices the eternal

complaint of older people (even though she is not that old), saying

that something is "a sore and shameful reproach to the present age

and a manifest proof that the virtues have departed this lower

world and left us wretched mortals to wallow in the slough of the

vices."  In other words, we were all virtuous and noble in the

past, but now are degraded and fallen.  (And she is not referring

to Edenic times, but just a few generations earlier.  Ah, for the

good old days!)

When Guglielmo offers to tell Ermino of something which he had

never yet beheld, and it turns out to be Liberality, it is like the

old Henny Youngman joke where he asks his wife where she wants to

go for their anniversary.  "Somewhere I have never been," she

replies.  "How about the kitchen?" he suggests.

"The King of Cyprus and a Gascon Lady" (I-9): The stories are

getting shorter, and a bit repetitive.  In this one at least, the

fault that is corrected by a snappy line is not miserliness, but

more like sloth: the King refuses to respond to attacks on his

character, so a Gascon lady asks him to teach her how to ignore

insults as well, which makes him realize his fault.  (It is not

entirely clear from either the original or any of the translation I

have access to whether the lady was actually raped or merely

accosted.  Florio says "shee was villanously abused by certaine

base wretches"; Payne says "she was shamefully abused of certain

lewd fellows"; Rigg says "[she] met with brutal outrage at the

hands of certain ruffians."  The Italian is "da alcuni scellerati

uomini villanamente fu oltraggiata", which Google translates as

"she was outraged by some villainous men".  One can presume she was

raped, but the Italian does not use the specific word


The lady was returning from a visit to the Church of the Holy

Sepulchre, which is particularly topical, since the closure this

March of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was the first such

closure since 1349 and the Black Plague.

"Master Alberto and the Lady" (I-10): Boccaccio has Pampinea give

us a long speech about how the women of that time have given up

clever or intelligent conversation and replaced it with fancy

clothes and ornaments.  It's quite sexist, and having it delivered

by a female character does not make it magically un-sexist--it's

clearly Boccaccio speaking.  It is not unlike what Robert

A. Heinlein does in STARSHIP TROOPERS, in which he has a character

defend their political system of flogging for various offenses,

allowing only veterans to vote, etc., by pointing out how well it

works.  Heinlein is hoping you don't notice it works that well

because he wrote it that way.  Similarly, Boccaccio is hoping you

believe this speech about women because it is given by a woman,

without remembering that he (a man) wrote it that way.

Someone (I wish I could remember who) said that fiction is really

what George Orwell called "doublethink" in 1984: "holding two

contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting

both of them."  We know that Elizabeth Bennett is imaginary, but as

we are reading PRIDE AND PREJUDICE we accept (at least at some

level) her reality.

After the tenth tale, the Queen for the next day is chosen and she

sets a theme for the stories to be told: reversals of fortune (from

bad to good).

To be continued (in two weeks or so).  [-ecl]


                     Mark Leeper

* *

          When any organizational entity expands beyond 21 members,

          the real power will be in some smaller body.

                                          --C. Northcote Parkinson