MT VOID 12/13/96 (Vol. 15, Number 24)

MT VOID 12/13/96 (Vol. 15, Number 24)

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 12/13/96 -- Vol. 15, No. 24

Table of Contents

Upcoming Meetings:

Unless otherwise stated, all meetings are in the Middletown cafeteria Wednesdays at noon.

  DATE                    TOPIC

(no meetings scheduled)

Outside events:
The Science Fiction Association of Bergen County meets on the second
Saturday of every month in Upper Saddle River; call 201-933-2724 for
details.  The New Jersey Science Fiction Society meets on the third
Saturday of every month in Belleville; call 201-432-5965 for details.

MT Chair/Librarian:
              Mark Leeper   MT 3E-433  908-957-5619
HO Chair:     John Jetzt    MT 2E-530  908-957-5087
HO Librarian: Nick Sauer    HO 4F-427  908-949-7076
Distinguished Heinlein Apologist:
              Rob Mitchell  MT 2D-536  908-957-6330
Factotum:     Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433  908-957-2070
Backissues available at
All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.

URL of the week: Eby's CyberScroll: not science fiction, but lots of interesting links. [-ecl]

Ethnic Food:

Dirk Ruiz had the following comment on last week's editorial on ethnic food:

Touche. Nice editorial. The one point you didn't mention is the Evil done when ethnic food is prepared badly. One of my most traumatic experiences was a recent Hispanic diversity event. They had a Mariachi band singing "Cante y No Llores". They had ethnic food prepared by ARA, which included velveeta-cheese enchiladas. When my shrieks of "The horror! The horror!" began drowning out the Mariachis, they had to drag me to my office, slap me around, and force me to sign an ARA Loyalty Oath. Don't you hate it when that happens? [-dr]


Jeez. I don't know if this was a big victory that the American people had or a big defeat. On the radio they just said that the US Government had admitted fault in tests in the 1950s that irradiated innocent people. They are paying something like five million dollars in damages. Now first of all, these days that does not sound like a lot of money so either they are not admitting much fault or there were not a lot of people involved. But it is a warning that the Government that is supposed to be up there protecting us, sometimes has a pretty odd way of doing it. Well that has always been the case. The way the government protects people during wartime is to take the expendable portion of the population, young males, and sends them off to what the Government has every reason to believe is great danger. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever won a legal suit against the United States Government because the government knowingly endangered that person's life by putting the person into uniform and then sending him to Gettysburg or Iwo Jima or Viet Nam. Many of these people do not go with a feeling of full cooperation. OK, so there are precedents for the Government to knowingly put American citizens in harm's way, perhaps in great peril for the greater good of the American People. (OK, American male citizens. I know it is not really fashionable to worry so much about them, but it is something to take into consideration.) But at least when men are forced into danger they know it is happening. But here we are talking about people who didn't know what was happening to them. It is a real shock to know that the US Government thinks that for the greater good it can use its own citizens as guinea pigs in radiation experiments.

But justice has prevailed. We the People who were so abused are going to be paid back. The Government has admitted wrong and is going to pay reparations. Except of course the Government has no money of its own to give these people. Where do they get the money? Well, they take it from the American people. And they either have to take more money one give us less in return. There is no way to monetarily punish a government that levies taxes. They just take more or give back less. No wonder they were so willing to settle!

Now the way I figure it somebody is saying that justice has been done and things are even again. I don't know how that works. The way I see it I lose because I now realize that my government can irradiate me when they feel there is a need to see how brightly I glow as a result. That is one loss. Then I lose again because being a male I had to worry about being used as cannon fodder. (And believe me I did worry. I had a low draft number in the lottery and very nearly had to go. What saved me was that my year of vulnerability was an election year. Richard Nixon was trying to buy some of what otherwise he was trying to steal. Had I been born one year earlier or later on the same day I would have won an all- expense paid trip to Southeast Asia. It is very conceivable to me that the danger of being sent to Viet Nam was considerably greater than what these radiation subjects went through.) And now to make reparations to the radiation victims the Government is paying, which means that as a citizen I am paying. So if everything is even now, how come I feel I have lost three times? [-mrl]

AT THE CITY LIMITS OF FATE by Michael Bishop (Edgewood Press, ISBN 0-9629066-6-2, 1996, 328p, US$14) (a book review by Evelyn C. Leeper):

Michael Bishop holds the somewhat ambiguous honor of having the most Hugo nominations without a win of any author (ten). But although three of his nominated short fiction pieces are in the time span covered by this book, none of them are included here. On the other hand, the book has a central theme of religion that, while not completely absent from any of Bishop's work (no pun intended), is better represented by the lesser-known works featured here.

The book starts out aptly enough with "Beginnings," with two thieves hanging on either side of Yeshua on Golgotha. It ends with the modern-day trial of Judas Iscariot in "I, Iscariot" (a concept echoed strangely in James Morrow's BLAMELESS IN ABADDON, where it is God on trial instead).

In between, Bishop looks at a snake-handling cult in "Among the Handlers," introduces Saint Augustine to a traveler who tells him about the science and technology to come in "For Thus Do I Remember Carthage," and combines God and the mass media in "God's Hour."

In addition to the theme of religion, Bishop also has a Japanese undercurrent to his work, from a discussion of Japanese Zeros in "000-00-0000" to Yukio Mishima in "At the City Limits of Fate" to "Reading the Silks." Yet although certain theme recur, each story is an individual. Unlike many authors, Bishop seems to produce something fresh each time. Well, okay, two of his Hugo-nominated works are sequels to other works--"The White Otters of Childhood" and BRITTLE INNINGS--but they are sequels to two classics in the field, and Bishop definitely gives each of them it a fresh viewpoint. Bishop can write derivative works that are not derivative, while most authors seem to write "new" works that *are* derivative.

Bishop uses a variety of styles here, a variety of voices, and a variety of techniques, and they all work. Again, I am reminded of the two very different styles he maintained throughout BRITTLE INNINGS. In any case, Bishop is living proof that in the battle of form versus substance, they can both be winners. I highly recommend this book (and indeed any of Bishop's work). Unless you live near a science fiction specialty shop, you will probably have to have it special-ordered. It's worth it.

(In case you're wondering, Bishop's nominated stories are "Death and Designation Among the Asadi" [1973], "The White Otters of Childhood" [1973], "Cathadonian Odyssey" [1974], "Rogue Tomato" [1975], "The Samurai and the Willows" [1976], "The Quickening" [1981], "A Gift from the Graylanders" [1985], "Eifelheim" [1986], "Cri de Coeur" [1994], and BRITTLE INNINGS [1994]. Now wouldn't that make a hell of a collection!] [-ecl]

                                   Mark Leeper
                                   MT 3E-433 908-957-5619

Quote of the Week:

     A cynic is merely not one who reads bitter lessons
     from the past, he is one who is prematurely
     disappointed in the future.
                                   -- Sidney Harris