MT VOID 09/24/04 (Vol. 23, Number 13)

MT VOID 09/24/04 (Vol. 23, Number 13)


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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
09/24/04 -- Vol. 23, No. 13

Table of Contents

El Presidente: Mark Leeper, mleeper@optonline.net The Power Behind El Pres: Evelyn Leeper, eleeper@optonline.net Back issues at http://www.geocities.com/evelynleeper All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted. All comments sent will be assumed authorized for inclusion unless otherwise noted. To subscribe, send mail to mtvoid-subscribe@yahoogroups.com To unsubscribe, send mail to mtvoid-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

The Return of "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

BBC Radio 4 has produced two new series of their hugely super-popular semi-sci-fi but mostly comedy series "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". They began broadcasting on September 21, which may seem like just any other date to you, but it is the day in which the light and darkness are in equal proportions and this is the country of paganism and Stonehenge.

But, I hear you say that BBC 4 is a whole ocean away. (Well, some of you are now saying no it isn't, but those voices are saying it in a British accent. (How cultured it sounds. Can this really be the people that spends its evenings drinking in pubs and which produces those tawdry tabloids and whose Ministers of Parliament are so frequently found in their cups and in ladies' foundation garments? (But I digress.))) The inescapable fact is that very few of us on this side of the pond have radios strong enough to pick up the Beeb (that is the super-secret nickname for the BBC that only us aficionados who are real insiders know) so we will have to wait for local broadcasts of the series just like last time. But, hark, many things have changed over the last 26 years since the show's first broadcast. (America still had the respect of the world then, for one thing. (But I guess that was true four years ago too. (But I digress.))) Fear not, fair varlet, if thou hast one of those useful PC thingees with the screen and the keyboard and the spam and the pop-ups. For one can yet get BBC 4 over the Internet. Yet wait, says you, have I (you) not already missed the first episode? In sooth thou hast, but thou canst download an episode up to a seven days after its Thursday re-broadcast. There is still time, but thou bestest rush for the deadline draweth nigher and nigher.

Details at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hitchhikers/index.shtml and the BBC's own information at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/3666506.stm. [-mrl]


Hugo Awards (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

The Hugo and Retro Hugo awards this year were as follows:

Novel: PALADIN OF SOULS by Lois McMaster Bujold
Novella: "The Cookie Monster" by Vernor Vinge
Novelette: "Legions in Time" by Michael Swanwick
Short Story: "A Study in Emerald" by Neil Gaiman
Related Book: THE CHESLEY AWARDS FOR SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY 
    ART: A RETROSPECTIVE by John Grant, Elizabeth L. Humphrey, 
    and Pamela D. Scoville
Professional Editor: Gardner Dozois
Professional Artist: Bob Eggleton
Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE 
    RETURN OF THE KING
Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Gollumís Acceptance Speech at 
    the 2003 MTV Movie Awards
Semi-Prozine: LOCUS
Fanzine: EMERALD CITY
Fan Writer: Dave Langford
Fan Artist: Frank Wu

Retro Hugos

Novel: FARENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury
Novella: "A Case of Conscience" by James Blish
Novelette: "Earthman, Come Home" by James Blish
Short Story: "The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke
Related Book: CONQUEST OF THE MOON by Wernher von Braun, 
    Fred L. Whipple & Willy Ley
Professional Editor: John W. Campbell, Jr.
Professional Artist: Chesley Bonestell
Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Fanzine: SLANT
Fan Writer: Bob Tucker

Lois McMaster Bujold is now tied with Robert A. Heinlein for number of Hugos won for novels, at four each. Heinlein won for DOUBLE STAR, STARSHIP TROOPERS, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, and THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS; Bujold won for THE VOR GAME, BARRAYAR, MIRROR DANCE, and PALADIN OF SOULS. Each also has four non-winning nominations. Heinlein was nominated but didn't win for HAVE SPACESPUIT--WILL TRAVEL, GLORY ROAD, TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE, and JOB: A COMEDY OF JUSTICE. Bujold was nominated but didn't win for FALLING FREE, MEMORY, A CIVIL CAMPAIGN, and THE CURSE OF CHALION.

However, Heinlein is still ahead--he also won a Retro Hugo for FARMER IN THE SKY. [-ecl]


Square People (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

They had an interesting statistic on the news this morning apparently 12% of the American public is currently on low- carbohydrate diets like the Atkins diet right now. That is an amazing statistic when you think about it. It is hard to get one- eighth of the American population to do anything for any reason, but particularly for health reasons.

But that is not evidence that they are really successful at losing weight on the Atkins Diet right now. It would interesting to know. What we might really need to know is a statistic the United States Government does not give us. The government year after year consistently stonewalls us on making this data public. What we need to know is just what is the weight of the American Public. Is it the weight down because of the low carbohydrate diets? Is it up because of immigration? Just how much does the American People weigh? If you could put the public on a scale without clothing--no, don't try to visualize it--what would it weigh? Someone must have a reasonable estimate. How much of this pulsating flesh is there? This is the really gross national product and we deserve to know it. Just as a back of the envelope calculation I am guessing there is about a 20-megaton mass of American citizen out there. That is assuming about 300 million people averaging about 133 pounds.

I think as a whole Americans are getting healthier as the average weight drops. The average weight is dropping as we get more immigration from Asia where people tend to be lighter on the average than Europeans. Those Asians who are heavy--Sumo wrestlers come to mind--are already profitably employed in Asia and are not a big part of American immigration.

But of course the average weight of people on a diet is not really the whole story. Even if people on a given diet do lose weight, it does little good if there are not many people on that diet. If we want to get a figure of merit of the Atkins diet, it is unfair to take the total weight of American citizens on the Atkins. We don't know if a large number is good or bad. Having reached 12% of the American public is pretty amazing. That would tend to push the figure up. It is no longer a fringe diet so much as a social movement. It should be evaluated as such. We are talking about thirty-six million people. Even if each person loses only a pound there are eighteen kilotons of weight lost.

The real measure of the effectiveness of the diet, of course, would be the number of people on the diet divided and not multiplied by their average weight. If the number of people on the diet doubles the average effect is twice as effective. If the average weight should be cut in half (an extreme case) then you would want the effectiveness figure to double then also. That is why you divide and not multiply by the average weight. We really want to track the number of people on the diet divided by the average weight to find the true effectiveness of a diet.

The units on the numerator is persons (or people). On the denominator the unit is pounds-per-person. Invert and multiply and it is easy to see the unit of effectiveness is the square-person-per-pound of people on the diet.

(36,000,000 persons)/(150 pounds/person) = 240,000 sq-people/pound

As I figure it with Atkins we are dividing 36,000,000 people by something like 150 pounds-per-person. That comes to something like 240,000 square-people-per-pound. How many diets in the history of dieting can be claimed to have achieved that many square-people to a single pound? Most people would consider a successful diet to have an impact of something like 0.006 square- people-per-pound. I guess that is 12 square-people per ton. With Atkins we are talking 240,000 for each pound! That is an impact of 15,000 square-people-per-ounce. I don't know about most you, but I personally find it very difficult to picture that many square-people for every ounce of someone on the Atkins diet. It boggles my mind.

In any case it certainly gives you something to think about. [-mrl]


GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: Complex and a little hard to follow but imaginative and spectacular anime film. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE is a new adventure set in the world of the original GHOST IN THE SHELL. This is a future world where everybody is part machine. The main characters are two police officers, one almost all human, one almost all machine.

The new story, set just twenty-eight years in the future, involves a revolt of female pleasure robots called gynids who one day start acting in non-robotic ways by killing people and by committing suicide. Both actions go against their moral ethic--essentially what are Asimov's laws of robotics.

I saw the film in a subtitled version in one pass with subtitles that frequently are hard to finish before they are whisked away. The plot is as complex as most science fiction novels. It was rather difficult for me to keep on top of just what was happening in the film. Nevertheless I was impressed with the apparent profundity of the story. Visually the film is frequently near live action and a live-action film with this much spectacle would these days cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars. It may no longer be necessary to prove the power of animation, but at least GHOST IN THE SHELL 2: INNOCENCE demonstrates it.

The animation is never flat, but demonstrates varying degrees of dimensionality, frequently within the same frame. The film is told against a backdrop of future Japan, but punctuated with some traditional settings like a traditional Japanese festival. It is interesting that for years American films have shown the world American culture. These days the international film community is seeing many different cultures. And that is true of mass marketed films as well as art films. While there is the usual gratuitous violence of anime films, there are still some really breathtaking images that make this a film worth the effort to watch. [-mrl]


SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: The Art Deco future as it was seen from the late 1930s is the background for this super-paced sci-fi adventure. The plot is just a chain of action sequences, one leading to the next, and the characters are one-dimensional. Even the artwork is a little too dark, but the images are genuinely exciting and they are what make the film worth seeing. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

Back in the 1930s people grew tired of the daily grind of the Great Depression and looked to the future for some reason for optimism. People embraced recent large-scale engineering marvels like the Hoover Dam and the Empire State Building with its (never used) dirigible mooring at the top. The art style of the future was Art Deco and buildings like the geometrically decorated Chrysler building captured this spirit, as well as the Hoover Dam and the Empire State Building. Capturing this mood is a new film that seamlessly combines realistic-looking animation and live action. SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW gloriously captures the same art deco sepulchral futurism of the original Max Fleischer Superman cartoons. But these images are presented in a style that makes them almost look as if they have come to life. The film is a terrific exercise in art and a visually fascinating film.

The story begins with the kidnapping of a great scientist, one of many who have disappeared. Then suddenly New York City is attacked by a fleet of flying machines that turn out to be sixty- foot-high robots who unstoppably march through the streets of the city with some mysterious goal. Nearly killed in the onslaught is pretty Polly Perkins (played by Gwyneth Paltrow), a daring newspaper reporter who is known to take chances. Parker was once the lover of Joe Sullivan (Jude Law) who under the name Sky Captain leads a staunch team of great pilots and scientists who offer their services to those who need them. Sky Captain destroys the rampaging robots, but this is only the beginning of his battle to destroy the evil schemes of the nefarious Dr. Totenkopf (German for "Death Head").

The plot is on a comic-book level, but that is part of the idea. The pace of this high-octane adventure is so fast there is no time for a real story. But never do we get a chance to sit back and bemoan the lack of consistent plot. This is a film paced for the video-game generation with just one action sequence shortly after another. There is no character to particularly like. Jude Law's Sky Captain does not have a lot of personality. He is just a man getting an important job done the best he can. That puts him a point up on Gwyneth Paltrow's Polly whose small deceptions and indignant poses quickly outstay their welcome to become irritating. Characters are not the chief attraction of this film.

This is one of those films that a lot of the fun is finding the allusions to other films. A background setting will be recreated from one film, a sound effect from another. In the course of two hours we visit several of our favorite fantasy films. The images on the screen are nearly all huge. Doorways on Sky Captain's island are twenty feet tall and must be really hard to move. Why does it tweak our imagination to see machines that tower over us and make us feel small? Maybe because we imagine using the power in those huge machines. Maybe when they are destroyed we feel like powerful Davids bringing down Goliaths of steel. In any case, much of the spectacle is the scale of the robots and the flying machines. The one complaint about the majestic visual imagery is that so much of the film is shown in twilight of semi- darkness. This may make the animation easier and cover over errors, but it makes the images harder to see. What we see is visually terrific, but it might be even better if we could more easily see the detail in those majestic images we are looking at.

This film with the action and pacing of a super science fiction serial on steroids is a unique film and even with some of the story shortcomings is a real entertainment. It is interesting to compare it to another super-science alternate history, the soon- to-be-released anime feature STEAMBOY. And it is even more interesting that these two films were made so close to each other in time. Perhaps the time is right to look at our past and think about what might have been. I rate SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10. [-mrl]


DUNE: THE MACHINE CRUSADE by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson (copyright 2003, TOR, $27.95, 619pp, ISBN 0-765-30158-X) (book review by Joe Karpierz):

We're back for the second installment in the "Butlerian Jihad" trilogy, THE MACHINE CRUSADE. We have yet another doorstop in an increasing number of doorstops written by Anderson and Herbert, although in a panel at the recent WorldCon on Doorstop Books Anderson admitted that he likes to write them. He says that he likes complex books with lots of characters and different plot threads, and as a result you end up with a doorstop.

Here's what I wrote about the "Butlerian Jihad" trilogy in my review of the previous book, THE BUTLERIAN JIHAD: "I guess they then thought it would be a good idea to go all the way back to the event that gave this book its name, the Butlerian Jihad, and tell the tale of the war against the Thinking Machines that freed humanity, oh, about 10,000 years prior to the events of the original 'Dune' novel."

There's a reason for everything, of course--sometimes you just have to look hard to find it. In this case, when I wrote the last review, I didn't know that Frank had asked Brian to write the Butlerian Jihad story with him. I found this out by listening to Kevin Anderson talk at WorldCon. So anyway, they did it in part because Frank wanted to write it anyway.

The book starts out about twenty years after the last book, and things aren't going well for the good guys. The war has dragged on and on and on and on, and there have been heavy casualties. Iblis Ginjo, who has a political agenda of his own, runs the Jihad, occasionally pulling Serena Butler out to make inspirational speeches that show her support for him. I disliked him from the start, and he turned out to be one nasty dude. Xavier Harkonnen and Vorian Atreides have become good friends-- although I'm sure that will change in The Battle of Corrin, just released--and Vorian has acquired a love interest. Meanwhile, the remaining Titans, led by Agamemnon, are plotting against Omnius, the overmind that controls all the machines. Erasmus, our robot with just a bit too much free will, also begins to rebel against Omnius. The Cogitors, deep thinkers who long ago left human society behind by having their brains removed from their bodies, inserted into a life support canister of sorts, and left the vicinity, have returned to muck things up. Hecate, the Titan who left long ago comes back to cause some problems--but I'm not sure of her purpose here. In order not to give away anything, I'll let the reader decide why I make that comment. The Tlulaxu are involved in an insidious scheme to provide the Jihad with replacement body parts. Norma Cenva, daughter of a high priestess of Rossak, ends up making several discoveries that will alter space travel as they know it. We also follow the story of Selim Wormrider and his tribe, the predecessors to the Fremen.

Have I left anything out? Probably, but you get the point.

This book is full of stuff, and there isn't much padding. It's a good adventure tale, and it's interesting to see how the authors are pulling all the pieces together that will eventually lead to the Dune universe as we know it.

I'm still not convinced it was necessary to write these books. But the authors seem to be having a good time, so they might as well go ahead. [-jak]


SILVER CITY (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: John Sayles gives us a murder mystery highlighted by several cynical observations of current American politics. The film has an all-star cast. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10.

As is frequently the case with John Sayles films, it is the background that is the real point of the film and the foreground story is really just a good excuse to explore the background. In SILVER CITY we have a murder mystery set in Colorado. As the murder mystery the film does function but only with tepid interest. Looking for the murderer we also get more than an eyeful of state politics during a political campaign for a state gubernatorial election. And the governor's race is really a thinly veiled commentary on the very real upcoming national election.

Running for the top position in Colorado is Dickie Pilager (Chris Cooper), the less than competent--and not even coherent--son of a former Senator (Michael Murphy). While a political advertisement is being shot falsely portraying Dickie as a great outdoorsman and fisherman, Dickie's fishing line fouls on something in a lake. The something turns out to be a corpse. Is it something that has been planted there to sabotage the campaign? Private investigator Danny O'Brien (Danny Huston) is hired to find out just how the corpse got in the lake. Is it connected with an attempt to smear Dickie? From the outset this seems unlikely since the snagging of the corpse was such an unlikely event. But the Pilager family and their advisor Chuck Raven (Richard Dreyfuss) want to be sure and more importantly want to control any information found. O'Brien will have to be getting involved with the local mining and agricultural interests where not all of the policy smells a lot better than the corpse did. As a dubious guide along the way is Dickie's sister Madeleine Pilager (Daryl Hannah). She has little love for the politicians in her family, but is as likely to be a dangerous friend to O'Brien.

John Sayles makes films very much like Robert Altman does. He uses a big company of familiar actors with whom the viewer can feel comfortable. His cast includes here Billy Zane, Richard Dreyfuss, Daryl Hannah, Kris Kristofferson, and Tim Roth. Most Sayles plots are in no hurry to go anywhere in particular. He shows us how corruption does damage in the fields of agriculture and mining and he looks at how the corruption runs deep and actually works.

The plot as expected of Sayles is intelligent and he makes his political points just barely avoiding being strident. [-mrl]


THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: The true story of a motorcycle trip that revolutionist Che Guevara took with a friend and that was the source of many of Guavera's later political opinions. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

When Ernesto "Che" Guevara was in his early twenties in 1952 with a rudimentary medical education, he and his friend Alberto Granado took an old motorcycle, left Buenos Aires, and went on a road trip to see first their native Argentina and then the rest of South America. They actually visited only Argentina, Chile, and Peru. What they saw molded their lives.

The journey was initially a carefree one for pleasure until they started seeing the poverty and pain of the native population at the mercy of the wealthy. In the course of the film they meet a doctor who is committed to revolution, reform, and helping the poor. The youths toy with revolutionary ideas and work for a time in a leper colony. Eventually, as their diaries told, Ernesto and Alberto went their separate ways. Ernesto, of course became a seminal revolutionary of the Cuban Revolution. Alberto devoted his life to medicine, helping the poor in very different ways. The story of this journey is dramatized in the new film THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, based on the diaries that the two kept on their trip.

Walter Salles directs the film in two halves really. The first half of the film is a fairly lighthearted road picture. The boys may not always get along with each other, but the problems they face are more or less what they expected and the style is carefree. In the second hour of the film things get more serious for the two young men. They encounter some farmers who have been forced off of their land by land speculators. For the first time they meet people not just insolvent at the moment but who are profoundly poor. They start thinking of political reform. A scene which was just a paragraph in the original diaries becomes a central metaphor in the film: a swim across a river becomes a decision of commitment versus shirking commitment.

The politics in the film is present but generally is kept mild even relative to a film like THE GRAPES OF WRATH. Perhaps the political impact is stronger if the viewer bears in mind that this is the famous revolutionary. Even then it is true mostly in the second half.

THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES is less a revolutionary tract and more a relic of the life of a will-be revolutionary. [-mrl]


BANG RAJAN: THE LEGEND OF THE VILLAGE WARRIORS (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

[This review originally ran in the 10/26/01 issue of the MT VOID, but since the film is just now being released in the United States, we are re-running it.]

CAPSULE: This is a Thai film commemorating a heroic village who resisted the Burmese armies invading Siam in 1765. The style of the film is crude but promising. As international historical films go, this seems like a low-budget epic that somehow does not grab the imagination quite like a Kurosawa might, but still has well-executed moments. Rating: 6 (0 to 10), +1 (-4 to +4)

In the mid-18th century certain provinces of Burma resisted the central government. These provinces needed outside support and got much of their support from the neighboring country of Siam (now Thailand). When a new ruler of Burma came to power his first priority was to subdue rebellious provinces and his second was to punish Siam for supporting the revolt. In 1765 he sent two armies into Siam to capture the capital, Ayudhaya. The two armies were intended to converge on the capital, but only one arrived. One army was held up by the resistance of a single tenacious Siamese village, Bang Rajan. This village has become legendary in Thailand as sort of a Siamese Alamo. This film is the story of the Bang Rajan resistance.

In the film the village knows the Burmese are approaching and chooses Taen as their leader against the Burmese. The village also asks Chan, a non-villager, to help. Chan is a cagey veteran fighter who lives in the local woods. Chan's strength of spirit and his resolve seems to be symbolized by an unusual huge mustache that looks like the horns of a water buffalo. Chan brings with him to the fight a group of fighters and trains the village how to fight. The village asks Ayudhaya for assistance to fight off the enemy in the form of cannons, but Ayudhaya offers no help so the villagers have to forge their own weapons. Meanwhile the village grows as neighbors join Bang Rajan for protection and to fight. But will they be able to overcome the formidable Burmese forces?

This is a historical war film but it is very differently in style from a RAN or KAGEMUSHA. Akira Kurosawa, in his films, makes the most of military regalia, armor, weapons, and local architecture. Thanit Jitnukul, who directed BANG RAJAN, cannot make his films as picturesque and hence cannot create the same sort of feel. His heroes are simple villagers. Chan fights in open shirt and loincloth. Typical weapons are arrows, axes, and machetes. The battle strategy is something like "each man must run at the enemy and kill as many as possible." Somehow it is harder to make these crude forest battles look as impressive as Japanese or Korean Clan Wars or horseback battles of kingdoms in India. Also the film style is much cruder. At least twice in the fighting mud is splashed on the camera lens. Most filmmakers would have edited that part out. The music by Chatchai Pongprapaphan is, however, powerful and exciting. The production cost $1.3M, which I am told is the cost of four typical Thai films, but in Thailand it has grossed the most of any domestic film ever. That is partially fueled by current tensions on the Burma-Thailand border. In fact this film is considered to be part of the provocation for those tensions.

The story of Bang Rajan Village is known to every school child in Thailand. Tanit Jitnukul directs and co-authors this new film, bringing the story to an international audience. I rate it a 6 on the 0 to 10 scale and a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale. [-mrl]


WHEN WILL I BE LOVED (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: About half an hour's worth of story seasoned with a lot of sex and other padding. Rating: -1 (-4 to +4) or 3/10

Somewhere deep within the misleadingly titled WHEN WILL I BE LOVED there is a good tight half-hour episode of the old "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" television series. It seems to be a variation and comment on the film INDECENT PROPOSAL. But James Toback, who wrote, directed, and plays a role in the film does not have a place to sell for so short a story. Instead the story is tediously padded out to 81 minutes with full (back) nudity shower scenes, (possibly) anal sex, lesbian sex, long tedious portraits of a street hustler hustling and of his wealthy girlfriend trying to work their way in the world. Toback has previously given us the film FINGERS and the fascinating documentary THE BIG BANG. Both of these are far more engaging films. Here he demonstrates just how not to add padding to a story. Shot in "11 or 12 days" with improvisational dialog and no rehearsal allowed to his actors to slow production, WHEN WILL I BE LOVED seems like more a failed experiment in speed film production than a serious attempt at making a feature film. [-mrl]


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

This week's column will be somewhat shorter, because I spent the last three weeks at a science fiction convention and a film festival, where reading time was sparse, to put it mildly. The previous three weeks' columns were written ahead of time, but I'm out of backlog.

The book chosen for our science fiction discussion group this month was Poul Anderson's TIME PATROL. There seem to have been a variety of collections of Anderson's "Time Patrol" stories, called variously THE TIME PATROL, THE GUARDIANS OF TIME (released once with four stories and once with five, I think), TIME PATROLMEN, and ANNALS OF THE TIME PATROL. (There's also the novel THE SHIELD OF TIME.) However, we said that whatever people found, the stories to read were "Time Patrol", "Brave to Be a King", "Gibraltar Falls", "The Only Game in Town", and "Delenda Est". The premise seems classic, but may well have been invented by Anderson: a corps of "time patrolmen" makes sure that people don't tamper with history. Most of the stories involve agent Manse Everard traveling to fix history, sometimes with a brief section in the parallel timeline that would evolve if the change was allowed to remain. As an alternate history fan, I love these, though the earlier ones are somewhat dated in their attitudes. And while Anderson is not generally known for his imagery, his description from "Gibraltar Falls" is one that has stuck with me long after many other stories have passed from memory. Alas, I think these are currently out of print, though easily available used.

I found Theodore Roosevelt's FEAR GOD AND TAKE YOUR OWN PART (ISBN 0-898-75414-3) at a book sale and while much of what he writes is colored by the attitudes of the times, some seems remarkably pertinent today. For example, writing of President Wilson's policies in the title essay, Roosevelt says, "Mr. Wilson has more than once interfered--to use his own scholarly and elegant phraseology, 'butted in'--by making war in Mexico. He never did it, however, to secure justice for Americans or other foreigners. He never did it to secure the triumph of justice and peace for among the Mexicans themselves. He merely did it in the interest of some bandit chief, whom at the moment he liked, in order to harm some other bandit chief whom at the moment he disliked." That sounds like our foreign policy for many years after Wilson as well. [-ecl]



                                          Mark Leeper
                                          mleeper@optonline.net


Quote of the Week:

           Nay, fly to altars; there they'll talk you dead; 
           For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
                           -- Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism

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