MT VOID 11/11/05 -- Vol. 24, No. 20, Whole Number 1308

MT VOID 11/11/05 -- Vol. 24, No. 20, Whole Number 1308


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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
11/11/05 -- Vol. 24, No. 20, Whole Number 1308

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

El Presidente (site pointer):

El Presidente of the MT VOID is featured in an article at http://tinyurl.com/dhq6b. [-ecl]


Blame Lucas (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

In Glasgow they have a rock group called Mos Funk. Is that a pain or what? It is bad enough that you hear so much rap slang in the United States. Now we are infecting other cultures. How long before they have performances of "Richard III" with the title role played by someone named Mos Dum or some such? And like most negative trends in society I think we can blame this one on George Lucas. He started it. How hard is it to pronounce "Most Easily Spaceport" or better yet "Convenient Spaceport?" [-mrl]


Between "The West Wing" and Reality (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

Tuesday, November 08, 2005: The NBC television program "The West Wing" tried something a little different this last week. In their timeline a national Presidential election is coming up that will pit Democratic Congressman Matt Santos (played by Jimmy Smits) against Republican Senator Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda). The writers have timed the events so that their Presidential debates would occur about the same time that there were would real election debates. At least in some states there would be, albeit not for the possession of the real West Wing. New Jersey is one of the states that is having an important election today.

The New Jersey gubernatorial election is pitting Democrat Jon S. Corzine (played by Jon S. Corzine) against Republican Doug Forrester (Doug Forrester). This means I was in a position to hear a debate between Corzine and Forrester just the day before I heard a debate between Santos and Vinick. Somehow I had the uncomfortable feeling that the fictional debate was much more satisfying than the real debate. Now why was the fictional debate so much more stimulating? First of all, it was drama rather than the real thing. The writers could go over and over it to make sure the candidates said intelligent things extemporaneously. One problem with the realism of "The West Wing" is that everybody seems to be able to think up good lines to say without even an instant of thought. Nobody is that clever. But the debate had to be made compelling in spite of being a fiction so that people would stay around for the credit card ads. But there was more than that different between the real and the fictional debates.

Just as the debate is starting Vinick stops for a moment, collects his thoughts, and says he wants to throw out the rule book. There would be no two minutes for rebuttal and one minute for statements. They would just have a simple debate without rules. The result seemed to be a better debate. It would be easy to say that this would make any debate better. It makes everything more spontaneous than debates with every statement ruled by the clock. That sounds like a nice explanation for what is going wrong with our current debates, that they are too clock-bound. Perhaps more informal debating would be better. But I don't think that it would help a whole lot. The rules of order in a debate are there to protect against one over-bearing debater over-powering the other. The two NBC debaters are nice, pleasant people who would not think of taking advantage of the lack of rules. That may well be true of the candidate we generally see debating. Or it may not be so true. But the rules are there so that we do not have to find out. The price we pay for order in debates is the loss of spontaneity, but it still probably has saved the value of some debates.

But there was another reason why this was a more interesting debate than the real thing would have been. Because these were fictional characters not really risking a lot on the outcome of the debate, this could be a debate of ideas. That is what a debate should be. The two candidates were taking stands on issues. They had genuinely different approaches to problems and they were not afraid to say what those approaches were. This was where the NBC debate became fiction. The sad fact is that really talking about ideas and issues is not a very smart thing for a candidate to do. Corzine and Forrester did not do it in their debate. As soon as a voter has a grip on who a candidate is and what his plans are, the voter may decide it is not such a good idea. There are too many voters with litmus tests on too many weird issues. Also there are too many voters who vote on style rather than substance and on the texture of a candidate rather than on his ideas. The safest route to winning is to look like the kind of handsome person with whom the voters can identify and feel comfortable. And at the same time the candidates eachtry to shake voters' confidence in the other candidate. That is where dirty politics comes in.

You could turn on any five minutes of the Santos-Vinick debate and get a firm grip on who the candidates were and how they differed. Meanwhile Corzine and Forrester were arguing over who had voted to raise taxes and how many times they had voted to raise taxes. And because one candidate had voted to lower taxes--but not as much has others were trying to--that one single vote was counted by one of the candidates as a vote to raise taxes and by the other as a vote to lower them. The same vote was supposedly a vote to raise and to lower taxes.

My feeling after the fictional debate is that it was television and that it was na´ve. In the real world candidates are not so forthcoming with plans and policies that the listeners can get a grip on. Candidates are too afraid that allowing the viewer to get a grip on them will allow people to pull them down. When a voter understands a candidate he or she may lose respect for him. Instead the speakers go for a fuzzy and warm style and try to avoid substance. They will make vague statements like, "It's time for a change."

So who is at fault for this? The candidates are partly to blame. But what they are taking is the safe route. If they don't have to talk issues they won't.

The West Wing Debate is too much a television fantasy. Really what we need is perhaps not fewer rules but more. Each candidate should have to present a checklist of ten items. They should list five policies they will follow and five plans they will implement their first year in office. None of the of the ten items should be more five sentences in length. And each item should have a check box. Each should be specific enough that an average person can verify that that list item has been fulfilled and the box can be checked.

That won't give us just better debates, it will give us better government. [-mrl]


Museum of Jurassic Technology (museum and book review by Evelyn C. Leeper):

Any science fiction fan attending the Worldcon in Los Angeles (well, Anaheim) next year who wants to experience a museum with a real sense of wonder should go to David Wilson's Museum of Jurassic Technology, 9341 Venice Boulevard, Culver City, 310-836-6131 (with a web site at http://www.mjt.org/--check for their hours, as they are somewhat limited). Mark called this a "tawdry and specious museum," but there is more to it than that. When one enters, one sees a motley assortment: a mole skeleton; a fruit stone carving; an exhibit on Geoffrey Sonnabend and his "Obliscence Theory of Forgetting and the Problem of Matter"; another exhibit on Eugene Dubois and picanthropus erectus; and a presentation on Bernard Maston, Donald R. Griffith, and the "deprong mori of the Tripsicum Plateau"; and the micromosaics of Henry Dalton. One discovers that (according to Athanaseus Kircher) the reason the Tower of Babel was destroyed was because it would have been so big that it would have made the earth tip over and move from the center of the universe. Actor and magician Ricky Jay contributed the materials for "Rotten Luck: Failing Dice from the Collection of Ricky Jay," a study of how dice decay.

So what is this place? I described it originally as part art museum, part science museum, part participatory dramatics. Lawrence Weschler wrote an entire book, MR. WILSON'S CABINET OF WONDER (ISBN 0-679-43998-6), trying to explain it. Weschler sees it more as an extension or continuation of the "Wunderkammern" of "Cabinets of Wonder" that became popular in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Weschler actually tried to track down the various sources cited in the Museum, and to research the types of things there. So he discovered, for example, that while he cannot see the details on the fruit stone carving on display at the Museum (because there is no magnification), there really was such an art form, and there are numerous examples in the Ashmolean and other "real" museums. And so it goes. Each exhibit first seems completely real. Then, as one examines it, it starts to dawn on the viewer that it can't possibly be real. And then you read in Weschler's book that it is real, or that at least a large part of it is real.

Unlike CLARA'S GRAND TOUR (reviewed in the 11/04/05 issue of the MT VOID), this book has a lot of illustrations scattered throughout. Weschler even refers to the endpapers at one point. (I'm not sure if these are included in the paperback edition.) Unfortunately, it has no index.

Marcia Tucker (of New York's New Museum) says of David Wilson, "He never ever breaks irony. . . . When you're in there with him, everything initially just seems self-evidently what it is. There's this fine line, though, between knowing you're experiencing something and sensing that something is wrong. There's this slight slippage, which is the essence of the place."

Weschler connects this whole phenomenon to a variety of literary and artistic imaginings, including Donald Evans's stamps and Jorge Luis Borges's "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", and cites the same Borges line that I quoted in my comments on that story: "The metaphysicians of Tlon are not looking for truth, not even an approximation of it; they are after a kind of amazement." They would have loved David Wilson and his Museum of Jurassic Technology. [-ecl]

[My comments on "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" may be found in the 09/09/05 issue of the MT VOID. -ecl]

[For more information on the museum go to NPR's web site http://tinyurl.com/8e7a2. There is also a good description of the museum at http://www.roadtripamerica.com/places/mjt.htm. -mrl]


Intelligent Design and Power (letters of comment by Jerry Williams):

Jerry Williams responds to Paul Chisholm's letter in the 11/04/05 issue of the MT VOID responding to Jerry's letter in the 10/28/05 issue responding to Mark's article in the 10/21/05 issue on intelligent design:

"I hope you noticed the tongue firmly planted in my cheek when I wrote that. I think most of us are under no illusion about who (or should I say Who) would be interpreted as the intelligent designer. Such would be the case even with such a light-hearted treatment. Of course I don't expect anyone to go through with the FSM reference, but it would be ironic if that was what enabled ID to exist in the classroom, since FSM was meant to prevent it. (Nor do I think anybody would suffer from the humor.)

Granted, I did leave the slightest kernel of an actual thought in that comment. I hope it didn't germinate into something completely unintended. I was thinking (or at least nearly thinking) more along the lines of allowing people to make their own choices and not being threatened by other opinions."

To Paul's comment regarding re-writing Genesis, Jerry says, "This has nothing to do with any Judeo-Christian bible. If it did, it clearly wouldn't be taught in public schools given the current stance by the courts on separation of church and state."

And on Paul's "third alternative" (teachers saying that students don't have to believe evolution, but they have to understand it), Jerry writes:

"I think that's really a separate topic. The issue at hand was whether or not it's okay to mention the possibility of Intelligent Design in schools.

Since intelligent people such as you intuitively relate the discussion with religious texts, there are clearly reasons to question whether it violates the separation of church and state. As long as everybody draws his own conclusions and relates it to his own respective holy text (be it religious, sci-fi, or humor), in my opinion the law has been satisfied. However, I respect that others may not share this opinion, possibly including the courts. But hopefully in the end this will be the basis for the decision on ID, not some "bad science" argument.

P.S. I got the same talk from my biology teacher a few years later. Have they stopped giving it, then?"

Jerry also responds to Mark's comments on people in Florida without power in the 10/28/05 issue by writing, "I just re-read CHARLIE AND THE GREAT GLASS ELEVATOR, the sequel to CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (it's short--it took me about an hour). When I was reading the bits about the buffoon-like President and the Nana-turned-VP that brought him up for that job since he had no otherwise-useful skills, I don't know why, but it reminded me of somebody we all know." [-gsw]


KISS KISS BANG BANG (letter of comment by Joseph T. Major):

Regarding the film title KISS KISS BANG BANG, Joseph T. Major writes, "'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'": This nickname became so popular early on in the movies that the theme song to THUNDERBALL (1965) was going to be 'Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang', sung by Dionne Warwick, but for various reasons the production people thought that a more appropriate theme song for THUNDERBALL would be a song titled 'Thunderball' . . . ." [-jtm]

Marks replies, "That's true. If you watch the extras for the THUNDERBALL DVD you can hear a piece of 'Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' and see it under the credits. Somehow it does not work as well as the song they ended with. Of course we might feel differently if the other song was the one we were used to." [-mrl]

And Evelyn adds, "There is also a book, KISS KISS BANG! BANG!: THE UNOFFICIAL JAMES BOND 007 FILM COMPANION, by Alan Barnes and Marcus Hearn., as well as a collection of Pauline Kael's film reviews from the late 1960s titled KISS KISS BANG BANG." [-ecl]


OLYMPOS by Dan Simmons (copyright 2005, EOS, ISBN 0-380-97894-6, $25.95, 690pp) (book review by Joe Karpierz):

I really don't know where to begin with regards to reviewing OLYMPOS. Let's start with "it's the conclusion of the story that started in ILIUM, published in 2003". Okay, that's fine.

But that's kind of where the whole thing falls apart, because while it continues (but I contend, does not finish) the story begun in ILIUM, Simmons takes this thing in an entirely different direction from that book. And, as with ILIUM, this book has its flaws--but this time, I'm not sure how I feel about OLYMPOS and the overall story.

ILIUM was complex, a story on three fronts. We had the Trojan War, chronicled by Thomas Hockenberry; we had the sometimes intriguing, sometimes infuriating moravecs spouting off about Shakespeare and Proust; and we had the old-style humans (which we find out aren't so old-style after all) on Earth. We still have all that, but everything else changes--as you might expect.

(You know, I've been weasel-wording this review so far because I still don't know how to proceed. Please bear with me.)

The voynix, previously the servants of the old-style humans on earth, are poised to attack the remaining humans and destroy civilization. The action there centers on Ardis, a stronghold of humanity and the center of human action during ILIUM. The old- style humans no longer live to 100 and then go live forever with the post humans up in the rings--that capability was destroyed back in ILIUM. As it turns out, those post humans are actually the gods from the Trojan War, and are the ones mucking about with quantum level physics and energy and all that. We have Setebos, the many handed horror who feeds on horror and with Sycorax sires Caliban. Prospero seems to be coming to the aid of our heroes, most notably Harman, husband of Ada. The idea is to stop Setebos from aiding in the destruction of humanity. Meanwhile, the gods are continuing their war, and we make a visit to the hell of Tartarus, where Zeus banished Kronos and other gods before him. Tartarus is obviously a hellhole planet somewhere, but you get idea. Most of this stuff comes to a head in the final and definitely most interesting section of the novel.

The entire ILIUM/OLYMPOS story is a tightly woven tapestry, chronicling a far future where mankind has forgotten how to be human, and how a few entities are struggling to return that memory to the human race. In the end, it is a violent, sometimes gruesome story. Simmons is all over the map--we've already talked about Shakespeare and Proust, but Simmons brings Keats in as well. Setebos and Caliban are something out of a Lovecraft novel, with all the frightening imagery that brings. It is a violent novel, with a staggeringly high body count and graphic descriptions of the deaths of many players. Simmons even takes a shot at religious fundamentalists, what with the submarine "The Sword of Allah" ready to deliver the death blow to the planet and all of mankind. But it is also a novel of hope and of the future.

But then again, there are too many questions left unanswered: why are the voynix afraid of Setebos and his "babies"?; who is "the Quiet", the all powerful God who is coming to earth?; just really who are Setebos, Caliban, and Prospero, and how do they all fit in?

The conclusion of the story was completely unsatisfying, unfortunately. It is clear that Simmons has left himself a gaping hole where he can come back and continue the story, much like he did when he picked up the HYPERION story in the ENDYMION novels. The problem here is that the bar is raised very high by the original HYPERION novels, and Simmons misses the mark, in my opinion. However, the ILIUM/OLYMPOS duology is a tremendously well-written and well-crafted piece of work, and it is clear that Simmons is one of the finest pure writers of our time. Too bad he fell a little short.

Next up, as promised last time, I begin reviewing the six original Frank Herbert "Dune" novels in preparation for Brian Herbert's and Kevin J. Anderson's completion of the "Dune" saga. DUNE is up first. Stay tuned. [-jak]


BEE SEASON (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: In spite of being about a family's dysfunction and its members' inability to connect with each other on an emotional level, this is still a film studded with ideas. It is a film about psychological problems, about religious mysticism, and about intellect in various forms. Scott McGehee's and David Siegel's adaptation of the novel by Myla Goldberg has a sort of austere beauty of ideas that will limit its appeal. Rating: +3 (-4 to +4) or 9/10

The Naumanns are a cultivated family of very high intellect. Saul (Richard Gere) is a professor of religion with a specialty in Jewish Mysticism. Miriam Naumann (Juliette Binoche) is a research chemist. Aaron (Max Minghella) is an accomplished musician plays duets with his father on the violin and the cello. As yet eleven-year-old young Eliza (Flora Cross) has not distinguished herself. But suddenly she seems to demonstrate a phenomenal ability to spell words. Even words that she has never seen seem to create images in her mind that tell her how to spell them. Saul is loving in an intellectual way but not warm. Until now he very much neglected his daughter, but suddenly she becomes a fascination with him. When he sees his daughter's almost supernatural ability to spell he sees it as a fulfillment of prophecy in the mystic Jewish Kabbalah. Rather than cheering his daughter on like a sports parent, he decides to coach her in the mysteries of Jewish kabbalism so that she can see what he sees as the mystical importance of words and letters and the meaning of her talent. He feels it plays an integral role in the mystical task of repairing the universe. Without asking anyone's permission he starts putting her through a strenuous intellectual regimen. In the meantime, Eliza goes from one spelling competition victory to the next.

Gere gives us a portrait of a man so enthusiastic about knowledge that he is unable to restrain his intellectual side. He lives is a world of ideas. Slowly we see that each of the family members lives in a different world from him. They see him but he does not see them. While Eliza lives in a world of words, Aaron has a fascination with the nature of religion and of seeing different religions. Binoche plays the Miriam as a woman under increasing and mysterious pressure. Minghella and Cross turn in impressive performances playing intelligent people of their respective ages. People of high intellect are not generally that easy to play. The one place where the film seems to be out of tune is in showing how Eliza thinks about words. A similar problem had to be overcome in showing how John Nash looked at mathematical relationships in A BEAUTIFUL MIND. Little is so hard to portray on screen as thought. How Eliza's visualization of words seems to push the story into the realm of the fantastic. I would be curious to know if the images we see are based on any actual case histories, as is autistic mathematical talent, or if it is purely fictional.

Directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel previously shared the director's seat on the thriller THE DEEP END. This is an intelligent film even if it may not be one that will have wide appeal. I rate it a +3 on the -4 to +4 scale or 9/10. [-mrl]


SARAH SILVERMAN: JESUS IS MAGIC (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: This is essentially a live show of the title stand-up comedian known for her off-color humor. Silverman is bright, appealing, funny, and can tell dirty jokes with style. But she does not have enough style to make it without the dirty jokes. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

How does one review a film that is a performance by a stand-up comic? If I don't want to spoil the film, I don't want to give away jokes. If I don't give away jokes, I cannot convey the feel of the film. Sarah Silverman is spontaneous and funny, but has a tendency to push the humor just far enough to get her into trouble.

Silverman has been a writer for Saturday Night Live where reportedly she ran afoul of censors who thought she went too far. She also wrote for a cult comedy series "Mr. Show." Since then she has had many appearances in film and television. Her topics are sex, religion, the Holocaust, sex, her family, the elderly, 9/11, and sex. Not all of the jokes really work. I may be too old to appreciate her visiting a home for the elderly and singing "You're Gonna Die Soon." That probably did not really happen, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. At least half of her appeal is that she has a good face and body. And she appeals to people who enjoy having someone with a nice face and body talk dirty to them.

Silverman is bright, funny, and can tell dirty jokes with style. She certainly has more style and less shock than Margaret Cho does. On the other hand Rita Rudner is considerably funnier and does it all without ever dirtying herself. This film passes seventy-two minutes with a few good laughs, a few failed jokes, and then it is used up. I rate it a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. [-mrl]


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

Guillermo Martinez is a mathematician, but his book THE OXFORD MURDERS is not a math book but a mystery, albeit one dealing with mathematicians and mathematical clues. Unfortunately, he gets a couple of details wrong. At one point, for example, one character is planning a conference and says, "Andrew Wiles thinks he can prove Fermat's last conjecture." (page 109) This occurs several weeks before the conference where Wiles did in fact prove it. But at that point Wiles had told only one or two other people that he was working on Fermat's conjecture--even the conference planners had no idea what his topic was. It was in only the last couple of weeks before the conference when word began to leak out. Another character talks about "propositions that can be neither proved or refuted starting from axioms. . . ." (page 49), and asks, "Why do mathematicians not encounter . . . any of these indeterminable propositions?" But they do-- the classic case is whether an order of infinity exists between that of the rational numbers and that of the reals. The mystery is a variation on something that has been done before, though with a twist. (The twist is somewhat obvious, I think.) The Pythagorean implications of all this are laid on in large explanatory lumps, and while they are integral to the story (no pun intended) I'm not sure they will appear to the general mystery-reading audience.

(And as another example of synchronicity, we were watching a movie about the historic Burke and Hare murders in Edinburgh. We had an interruption, and I picked up this book, only to discover when I read the next two pages that the main characters suddenly started talking about Burke and Hare!)

On another topic, Father Ronald Arbuthnott Knox wrote some mysteries, but his enduring fame is due to his "Ten Commandments" for mysteries, which are, summarized:

1. The criminal must be mentioned, but his thoughts not given
2. No supernatural
3. Not more than one secret room or passage
4. No previously undiscovered poisons
5. No "Chinaman" (a common ploy when Knox wrote)
6. No accidental solution
7. Not the detective himself
8. No clues unrevealed to the reader
9. The "Watson" should not conceal his thoughts
10. No twins or doubles

[The full list may be found at many places, including http://www.thrillingdetective.com/trivia/triv186.html.]

Now, many authors have written very good and very successful stories which violated some of these rules. Agatha Christie broke at least two of them, and Doyle violated at least three in his Sherlock Holmes stories. But only Josef Skvorecky took it upon himself to break all ten, in SINS FOR FATHER KNOX (translated from Czech by Kaca Polackova Henley, ISBN 0-393-02512-8). Alas, in part what he proves is that while a great author can "get away" with breaking these rules, the mere breaking of them by a lesser author doesn't guarantee a good story. Some of Skvorecky's stories are good, but many are weak *because* they violate one of the rules. Having a hitherto-unmentioned person be the culprit in a "puzzle"-type mystery just doesn't work. (If the story is more a slice-of-life of the detective, and it turns out that someone not even mentioned turn out to be the criminal, then that would probably work.) The stories are an interesting exercise to Knox's implicit challenge, but work more to support Knox's thesis than to refute it.

ZENO AND THE TORTOISE: HOW TO THINK LIKE A PHILOSOPHER by Nicholas Fearn (ISBN 0-8021-3917-5) consists of brief chapters, each covering a philosopher and his theories (though for some reason Wittengenstein gets two.) The scope is from Thales to Derrida, and covers philosophers often skipped over in introductory books, such as Thales, Francis Bacon, Thomas Reid, Fearn gives a brief biography of the philosopher and a brief summary of the philosophy, with occasional side comments. (Of Nietzsche's "anti-Semitism", he explained that Nietzsche was not anti-Semitic and that Wagner's anti-Semitism was why Nietzsche broke with him. After Nietzsche's death his sister re-edited some of his notes and forged others to support her husband's anti-Semitic views. Fearn says that Nietzsche would have despised the Nazis and their policies.) The one drawback to the book is that it covers only two dozen philosophers, so it misses a lot of the continuity of philosophy. I suppose for someone with no background in philosophy, this might be a good start, but they would still need a more thorough overview to understand how each philosopher builds on what came before.

As part of my long-term project to catch up on Barry N. Malzberg's writing, I bought several of his novels from the 1970s at the Worldcon last year, and just read IN THE ENCLOSURE by Barry N. Malzberg (so old that it does not have an ISBN). Quir, the first-person narrator, is an alien who has come to Earth as part of a team of 248, all of whom have instructions to tell the Earthmen everything they wanted to know. And more than that he can't remember. But (not too surprisingly) the Earthmen are suspicious, put them all in the "enclosure", and grill them twice a day about all their scientific and technological knowledge. Even though Quir tells them everything, they tell him they know he is withholding information, pressure him, and even torture him. A lot of the structure of the enclosure reminds me of Guantanamo (though the aliens being held there did not come in starships with a vast store of technical knowledge). For example, Quir is told that when they have told the Earthmen everything they know, he and his friends will be released. Yet the reader (and the narrator) suspect that this is not true.

There is also a touch of Lake Woebegon here. The aliens have a strict hierarchy, and Quir says, "I was . . . one hundred and fifty-eighth. This does not mean that there were one hundred and fifty-seven aboard more worthy or intelligent than I, but on the other hand there were ninety who were definitely less so." (page 14) Later he explains, "I was barely below the midpoint of the hierarchy; the midpoint was one hundred and twenty-four and I fell only thirty-four places below that, barely a statistical variation." (page 35) Actually, of course, he is within only a few slots of being in the bottom third. But he labors under the common delusion--held by probably 80% of people--that he is in the top half. It's not just status--it's income, it's intelligence, it's morality, it's anything positive.

FINAL WAR AND OTHER FANTASIES by K. M. O'Donnell (again, no ISBN) is another Malzberg collection. (O'Donnell was one of Malzberg's pseudonyms.) About half the stories were included in MALZBERG AT LARGE, and the rest seem to have been collected nowhere else. (Even the Malzberg bibliography on the Locus site doesn't list them, since it goes back only to 1969. The Contento index does include them.) Of course, as half of Ace Double 23775, it is not that easy to find these days. [-ecl]



                                          Mark Leeper
                                          mleeper@optonline.net


Quote of the Week:

           There is nothing more demoralizing than 
           a small but adequate income.
                                          -- Edmund Wilson

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