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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 03/28/97 -- Vol. 15, No. 39
Table of Contents
MT Chair/Librarian: Mark Leeper MT 3E-433 908-957-5619 firstname.lastname@example.org HO Chair: John Jetzt MT 2E-530 908-957-5087 email@example.com HO Librarian: Nick Sauer HO 4F-427 908-949-7076 firstname.lastname@example.org Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell MT 2D-536 908-957-6330 email@example.com Factotum: Evelyn Leeper MT 3E-433 908-957-2070 firstname.lastname@example.org Backissues available at http://www.mt.lucent.com/~ecl/MTVOID/backissues.html or http://sf.www.lysator.liu.se/sf_archive/sf-texts/MT_Void/. All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.
URL of the week:
URL of the week: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/4824/boskon34.htm. Evelyn Leeper's Boskone 34 report. [-ecl]
Well, the news is just breaking this morning about the suicide of 39 people of the Heaven's Gate cult and it is not very good, I'm afraid. No doubt there will be more news to come, but from what was released this morning is that the cult was following two leaders, formerly known as "Bo" and "Peep." More recently they have taken on the names "Do" and "Ti," musical notes, no doubt because it is now well established that little men from outer space have an affinity for music. I think it was Steven Spielberg who put that little bee in their bonnet. What do aliens have to do with it? The cult is an outgrowth of a UFO cult of twenty years ago, led by the then Bo and Peep. At least that was the names they were using then. A bunch of people gave up all their worldly goods to follow as innocent as sheep Bo and Peep who was going to take them to flying saucers. Heaven's Gate is a new cult from the people who brought you the UFO cult, and Bo and Peep are now, or were up till recently Do and Ti. Apparently the Earth is about to be "recycled" And these people are moving on to a higher plane by giving up their earthly husks and being transported to a space ship that is following in the shadow of the Hale-Bopp comet. These people who design web pages for a living-working with HTML will do that to you, I suppose-ran this cult in their spare time.
Well, I suppose that it is a little much to hope that people will not join whacko cults. We live in a time of diminished expectation for logical behavior of people. We have slogans that say "Share your love, don't share the needle," meaning if you take heroin, take it responsibly. Similarly I would like to ask people, if you want to join a whacko cult, please choose your whacko cult wisely. America is becoming a laughing stock in the world because we have people who want to follow people with names like Bo and Peep to spaceships in the sky. How do you think that looks to Europe? Cults have been with us for a long time, and I think people in other parts of the world understand that, but join a cult for something like an afterlife or sex or superpowers. People understand that. That plays a lot better in the international market. Don't join a cult that is centered around something like UFOs or dental hygiene. [-mrl]
THE SUN, THE MOON, & THE STARS by Steven Brust
(Orb, ISBN 0-312-86039-0, 1996 (1987c), 210pp, US$11.95) (a book review by Evelyn C. Leeper):
I've liked everything Steven Brust has written except for what people like the most. This probably says more about me than about his writing, but his Dragaeran novels leave me cold. On the other hand I loved TO REIGN IN HELL and AGYAR, and I loved this.
Well, for starters, it's only about two hundred pages long. Brust understands that it is possible to write a good--a very good--book without making it a doorstop requiring construction equipment to lift. For another, he uses words carefully. ("We were in one of the newer dorms, all shiny and tiny and boring and beige.") Come to think of it, the two are related. Many authors seem to use words like a blunt instrument, the more the better. Brust uses them like a rapier.
The book itself is similar to the other books in the "Fairy Tales" series (of which it originally was a part): a retelling of an old fairy tale in a modern setting. Brust interleaves the original fairy tale with the modern one (following a pattern used by some of the other authors in the series, as well as by Cecil B. DeMille in his original silent version of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS). (Or perhaps setting the pattern; I'm not sure where his book falls chronologically in the series.)
The one thing that would have helped would have been a note on Hungarian/Romany pronunciation. The fact that Csucsk ri was hyphenated two different ways (pages 23 and 143) didn't help. This is, of course, a very minor quibble.
So bravo to Brust for writing this, and bravo to Tor for re- publishing it after its rather brief initial appearance in 1987. [-ecl]
TOMORROW & TOMORROW by Charles Sheffield:
(Bantam Spectra, ISBN 0-553-37808-2, 1996, 368pp, US$13.95) (a book review by Evelyn C. Leeper):
This is an expansion of Sheffield's novella "At the Eschaton," and deals with the life of a man and of the universe. It does this by setting up a situation in which our protagonist Drake Merlin (catchy name, that) is cryogenically preserved along with his wife, who has just died of a rare disease. The plan is that they will be revived when science has progressed enough to resurrect and cure her. However, Drake finds himself revived ahead of time to solve first one problem, then another that only he can solve, while science still has not found a cure. It's almost as if we are reading something like Olaf Stapledon's LAST AND FIRST MEN, but with a single observer throughout. There is a real sense of wonder, and of the sweep of history, and Sheffield on the whole does a good job of making this all convincing, although some events are just downright unbelievable. (For example, at one point Drake is rebuilt by creatures with no previous knowledge of human physiology.)
On the downside, Sheffield's writing tends toward the straightforward rather than the poetic, and occasionally make odd missteps. At one point he offers the following: "'Hubris,' he said, in English." I suppose "hubris" is an honorary English word, but still.... On page 183, Tom says to Drake, "Our Galaxy is being invaded by something from outside." On page 187, Drake says to Tom, "This galaxy is being--" and then stops. According to Sheffield, "Now Drake had to pause. He wanted to say 'invaded,' but that word had apparently vanished from the language." In four pages?
These are, I suppose, minor quibbles. For those who love Stapledon and such other works as John Brunner's CRUCIBLE OF TIME, or for anyone wanting a look at a far future vision, I recommend this book. [-ecl]
Mark Leeper MT 3E-433 908-957-5619 email@example.com
Quote of the Week:
One has to be lowbrow, a bit of a murderer, to be a politician, ready and willing to see people sacrificed, slaughtered, for the sake of an idea, whether a good one or a bad one. -- Henry Miller