Reviews by Evelyn C. Leeper

Reviews by Evelyn C. Leeper

All reviews copyright 1984-2018 Evelyn C. Leeper.


THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN by Alan Moore:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 07/18/2003]

I read Alan Moore's graphic novel THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN in preparation for seeing the movie. Of course, because of a combination of Readercon, reviews, and a frozen shoulder, I haven't actually seen it yet, but I do recommend the book. I have frequently found graphic novels confusing, with the art incomprehensible enough at times (to me, anyway) to obscure information needed to understand it, but that was not the case here.

To order The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen from amazon.com, click here.


V FOR VENDETTA by Alan Moore and Judy Groves:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 04/21/2006]

I wanted to read V FOR VENDETTA by Alan Moore and Judy Groves (ISBN 0-930289-52-8) to compare it with the movie. But I found it very difficult. Why? Well, although the font size is about the same as most books, the vertical spacing is much tighter, with almost twice as many lines per inch, and the font is an irregular sans serif type, rather than a standard serif type. I suspect it becomes harder to read as one's eyesight gets worse, which may be one reason that graphic novels are more popular among the young. (Similarly, magazines or web pages that use odd color combinations, such as purple letters on a black background, seem to be aimed at those with perfect eyesight.) I managed to read about two-thirds of it, but it was too much eyestrain for me to finish.

To order V for Vendetta from amazon.com, click here.


CATHOLICS by Brian Moore:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 10/20/2006]

CATHOLICS by Brian Moore (ISBN 0-829-42333-8) was made into a 1973 made-for-television movie. Back then, it was science fiction; now it is alternate history. The premise is that Vatican II was followed by Vatican III and Vatican IV (which changed the nature of the Mass and banned private confessions in favor of collective confession by the congregation). In particular, the rulings of Vatican II (the Mass in the vernacular, with priests facing the congregation, are being enforced. A monastery on an island off the coast of Ireland has persisted in saying the Mass in Latin and Rome has sent a representative (Martin Sheen in the movie) to deal with the problem. This is definitely a more philosophical (and theological) script than one usually finds in a made-for-television movie, and is recommended. (I found it on an EastWest double feature DVD for a dollar! I will note, however, that the music can at times be very obtrusive.) The movie does concentrate on the "Latin [Tridentine] mass" and only mentions the other aspects (confessions, ecumenicalism, etc.) in passing, while these figure more importantly in the book. Ironically, just a few days ago it was reported that the Pope is about to sign a document that would make it easier for priests to celebrate the Mass in Latin than it currently is.

To order Catholics from amazon.com, click here.


"No Woman Born" by C. L. Moore:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 09/01/2006]

"No Woman Born" by C. L. Moore is a novella about a woman who was turned into a cyborg. As an updating of the Frankenstein story, it has its merits, but it did not strike me as a classic in the same way that the novels that were chosen did. It is available in several anthologies; you can look up an up-to-date list at (a highly recommended site in general).


"There Shall Be Darkness" by C. L. Moore:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 05/18/2018]

"There Shall Be Darkness", by C. L. Moore (Astounding Science Fiction, February 1942): This combination of science fiction, primitive race, and barbarians was quite popular 75 years ago. It doesn't read so well now, but the main female character is interesting in being strong while still not alienating the male readers of the time.


"The Twonky" by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 05/25/2018]

"The Twonky", by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1942): This is another story that does not show its age. Oh, the setting is clearly the 1940s, but it is not full of outdated science, or sentences or phrasing that make it seem antiquated, or grotesquely sexist attitudes. And it is proof that the current concerns about A.I. controlling us are not new at all.


VINTAGE SEASON by C. L. Moore:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 04/15/2011]

I recently re-read VINTAGE SEASON by C. L. Moore, or Henry Kuttner, or Lawrence O'Donnell, or whatever combination of those is credited as the author. (The story is credited to different authors in different places and they are all names for Moore and/or Kuttner, who formed a wife and husband writing team.) And then I watched the film based on it, which has even more names than the author of the novella (hard as that is to believe). It is known variously as THE GRAND TOUR, DISASTER IN TIME, GRAND TOUR; DISASTER IN TIME, and TIMESCAPE. (Given that I think of it as "Vintage Season", I always have great difficulty looking it up!)

To explain why I re-read and watched this, and to comment on it, involves SPOILERS. If you don't want SPOILERS, stop now (this is the last review this week).

The story involves a group of tourists who seem very out of place in the B&B they have somewhat commandeered. They keep saying very odd things that make it very easy for the reader to figure out what's going on; one wonders why the B&B owners are so slow on the uptake. (Hint: they keep making references to London in 1666 and Europe in 1348.)

The movie goes this one better, piling Ossa upon Pelion, as it were, in a way that very much reminded me of recent events. As the saying goes, it's one damn thing after another. However, the movie also has a subplot of the B&B owner having lost his wife in a car accident, having a father-in-law who is trying to take his daughter away, etc., in addition to the owner becoming more directly involved in the technology. All this helps fill out the time and add some action scenes, but really is not essential to the story. (And this is similar to the current film SOURCE CODE, in that it worries that the basic premise is not enough for a movie, and so adds a lot of additional and unnecessary plot.)

The novella is available in a Tor Double paired with Robert Silverberg's IN ANOTHER COUNTRY, the same story told from a different point of view (ISBN 0-812-50193-4). So in effect, you can experience three versions of the same story.

To order Vintage Season/In Another Country from amazon.com, click here.


"Werewoman" by C. L. Moore:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 06/20/2014]

"Werewoman", C. L. Moore (Leaves #2, Winter 1938; Robert Hoskins, THE EDGE OF NEVER): The initial publication of this story was in a small-press magazine--so small, in fact, that only sixty copies were printed! True, that would have been more than enough for everyone at the 1939 Worldcon to get a copy, but I am sure that did not happen, and this is another example of a story that would not have been nominated if regular Hugos had been given out in its eligibility year. Does that mean one should not vote for it because one is voting as if it were that year? I don't think so, and the existence of the electronic Hugo packet is evidence that availability should not be considered a factor.

Be that as it may, "Werewoman" is one of C. L. Moore's "Northwest Smith" stories. I have a quibble with the title: the prefix "were-" comes from the Old English "wer", or "man", so a "werewoman" would be a man who turns into a woman. This is not what is happening in the story. But apparently this is a term widely used to signify a woman who shape-shifts rather than a man. "Werewoman" is strong on atmosphere, but a bit weak on plot.


BRING THE JUBILEE by Ward Moore:

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 12/02/2005]

BRING THE JUBILEE by Ward Moore (ISBN 0-345-40502-1, but more readily available in THE BEST ALTERNATE HISTORY STORIES OF THE 20TH CENTURY, edited by Harry Turtledove, ISBN 0-345-43990-2) is a classic alternate history story, and one of the first. Yes, there were quite a few before it, but considering that the field took off only in the last fifteen years, something from fifty years ago qualifies as a seminal story. Unfortunately, the alternate history aspect does not seem to be the main focus of the story; Moore seemed to be more interested in the utopian society that was set up, and in Barbara's personality (which none of us in the discussion group could quite understand).

[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 09/05/2014]

A newly formed discussion group was reading BRING THE JUBILEE by Ward Moore (ISBN 978-1-434-47853-5), so we decided to give it a try. I found a lot of interesting bits; for example, in Moore's alternate United States there were government-run lotteries in the 1940s. And the main character talks about the humane treatment of Negroes in the Confederacy--well, who knows, maybe in the alternate world it is true. The Whigs apparently promote "trickle-down" economics, just like in our world. And Moore consistently uses "Southron" (which is indeed a real word) instead of "Southern".

But the most interesting change seemed to be the use of apostrophes in contractions. It appeared as though the "punctuation" in the United States changed a lot:

I spent quite a while trying to figure out how a Confederate victory would make this happen. I shouldn't have bothered--it turns out that Moore felt about apostrophes the way e.e.cummings felt about capital letters, and who won the Civil War had nothing to do with it!

To order Bring the Jubilee from amazon.com, click here.

To order The Best Alternate History Stories of the 20th Century from amazon.com, click here.


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