MT VOID 04/28/06 -- Vol. 24, No. 44, Whole Number 1332

MT VOID 04/28/06 -- Vol. 24, No. 44, Whole Number 1332

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
04/28/06 -- Vol. 24, No. 44, Whole Number 1332

Table of Contents

El Presidente: Mark Leeper, The Power Behind El Pres: Evelyn Leeper, Back issues at All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted. To subscribe, send mail to To unsubscribe, send mail to

Library Comic (pointer by Evelyn C. Leeper):

There is a comic strip called "Unshelved", available at, about libraries and books. Each Sunday, the strip is about a particular book, many of SF interest. The following are this year's SF-related ones (so far):

Terry Pratchett's THE COLOR OF MAGIC:
Jonathan Stroud's PTOLEMY'S GATE:
Connie Willis's INSIDE JOB:

Same God? (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

A friend was telling me that everybody believes in the same god. He may be called Jehovah, Allah, or as my friend calls Him Wahkontah. He says that there are different names but one god. This got me thinking. Suppose it was not true. Suppose no two people believed in the same god. How would you know? [-mrl]

My Quote (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

It is somewhat surprising to me that perhaps my greatest claim to fame after I die will probably be an off-hand comment I made as part of a speech I gave at a science fiction convention. When I made the comment it certainly did not seem to me to be anything more than a moment's whimsy. I guess you never can tell.

I was sharing with Evelyn the Fan Guest of Honor position at Covert Contraption. This was a very big compliment. I had gotten the honor mostly for my Internet presence I presume. I made a speech and in that speech I noted, "Live TV died in the late 1950s, electronic bulletin boards came along in the mid- 1980s, meaning there was about a 25-year gap when it was difficult to put your foot in your mouth and have people all across the country know about it." It was okay as a comment. I have coined them better and I have coined them worse. Little did I know that Fate had chosen that moment and that comment. Among all the humorous (or attempted-humorous) comments I make and among all the things that I write, that one comment may well be my greatest claim to fame. I think that easily the majority of people who have come in contact with my name will have done so through reading that one wry observation.

After the convention I was looking for something to fill out these editorial pages and I included the text of my Guest of Honor speech. I am always looking for what to say in my editorials, and it was just to keep the wolf away from the door for one more week. I believe what happened after that is that some reader, probably Bill Higgins, took the quote and used it for a signature file. Bill finds a variety of great comments to put into his email signature and this too was an honor. I have no idea where the quote went after that, but I suspect he is my leak. The Internet leaves little audit trail. But a few years later I started finding a quote from me show up in compilations of famous quotes. Other people seem to pick it up and it traveled like a virus or a meme.

If I just put the quote into Google it finds 2360 appearances on the Internet of just this one quote. After that if I look for this with my name attached, it finds a disappointing but still respectable 190 occurrences. This is partially true because many people seem to use the quote without my name. But a sizable fraction attribute the quote to one Michael Meissner. This disturbed me. Who is this Michael Meissner, and why is he getting credit for my quote? I certainly know that it was me who said it. He is unlikely to have made the same observation, word- for-word. How are people getting the idea that it was he who said it? Actually, looking in Google some 114 sites list the quote and attribute it to Michael Meissner. Well, I found one such site that listed my quotation and attributed it to Meissner. Just on a lark I looked to see if that site had any quotes attributed to me. Yes, it did. It quoted me as saying "I'd wipe the machines off the face of the earth again, and end the industrial epoch absolutely, like a black mistake." It said that that was a quote from me. Curiouser and curiouser. To the best of my knowledge I never said any such thing. This truth is that I would not wipe the machines off of the face of the earth even if I had that power. Or if I did I would make an exception for my pocket computer that I dote upon. It does not sound like anything I ever would say either in style or in sentiment. I like machines. In fact, some of my best friends are machines.

Puzzled I put this new quote in Google to see if that could shed any light. The first few sites that listed the quote attributed it to one of the country's most gifted writers and humorists, namely Mark Leeper. Other sites attribute it as appearing in LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER, a novel I did know to have been written either by D. H. Lawrence or by me, and while my memory is not as good as it once was, I have strong suspicions it was by Lawrence.

I ran to get the book to check. There it was in Chapter 15. This was the ultimate indignity. Not only are they taking my quote away from me and attributing it to Michael Meissner, they also implied I was taking credit for a most disagreeable passage from LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER. Also I know something of the scandal that LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER has caused, and I live in fear that Lawrence has gotten the royalties and I am going to get the blame. I want it clearly understood that I did not write LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER. I still have no comment as to whether I authored MUPPET L-ST, HIGH SCHOOL DRUM MAJORETTE SL-TS, or BENJI IN B-NDAGE, but I definitely deny writing LADY CHATTERLEY'S LOVER. (Please excuse the hyphens in those titles, but I have to get this e-mail publication to get past nanny filters that might be protecting some users' mailboxes. If I had the power I think I'd wipe nanny filters off the face of the earth again, and end the over-protective epoch absolutely, like a black mistake.)

I might note that lists consecutively the D H Lawrence quote, my quote, and a quote "Considering the flames and intolerance, shouldn't USENET be spelled ABUSENET?" from Michael Meissner. Obviously somebody found these quotes and pulled them into a database linked to the authors' names. They had a table of quotes and a table of authors. As is almost inevitable, such tables get out of synch and I suffer from the results. This is at very least a gray mistake.

So it goes. [-mrl]

Moonbat (letter of comment by Gerald W. Ryan):

In response to Mark's comments on illegal prime numbers in the 04/21/06 issue of the NMT VOID, Jerry Ryan writes, "Moonbat? Didn't you mean "mooncalf"? Or maybe just "wingnut"?" [-gwr]

Mark responds, "Oddly enough, without fully appreciating the meaning of the word, I used it correctly except that I think of myself as a liberal and it is a conservative term. I guess it is open to interpretation if such a person would be considered a moonbat. See for more info." [-mrl]

Jerry responds, "I couldn't find moonbat on Merriam-Webster, but I could find mooncalf. Oddly enough, he echoed, I first came across 'mooncalf' in an essay by P. J. O'Rourke. As a liberal myself, is it odd to read him?" [-gwr]

CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE by Frank Herbert (copyright 1985, Putnam, 464pp, $17.95, ISBN 0-399-13027-6) (book review by Joe Karpierz)

I started this series of reviews back in November of 2005 with a review of Frank Herbert's all-time SF classic, Dune. I finish this series of reviews with CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE, and I still feel the way I did twenty-five years ago or so when I first read the book. It's finally getting better again, and there has to be more.

And then Frank Herbert died, leaving us with a nasty cliffhanger on three fronts.

Let me start at the beginning of this book. The original planet Dune, Arrakis, now Rakis, was obliterated by the Honored Matres, who were furious at Miles Teg, the Bene Gesserit, and anyone who got in their way. Miles was killed during the destruction of the planet, but they were able to take away one last sandworm in an effort not only to recreate Dune elsewhere, but to end the apparent domination of Leto II, whose essence lives on in the giant sandworms and who the Bene Gesserit believe is still influencing life in the Empire.

The Honored Matres are burning planets left and right in an effort to find Chapterhouse, the Bene Gesserit headquarters. Miles Teg is revived as a ghola, using the recently revealed true secret of the Tleilaxu axlotl tanks. The Bene Gesserit have also captured an Honored Matre named Murbella, whom they hope to turn into a Bene Gesserit Reverend Mother. Murbella, Duncan Idaho, and Scytale, the last living Tleilaxu Master, are imprisoned in a no-ship on the surface of Chapterhouse (what kind of name is *that* for a planet anyway?--a question that even Darwi Odrade, Mother Superior of the Bene Gesserit order, asks herself during the course of the novel). They are reluctant prisoners, certainly reluctant to perform the biddings of Odrade *because* they are captives. Murbella and Idaho become reluctant lovers, and Scytale carries around in him a secret nullentropy tube which contains genetic material not only for Face Dancers and other Tleilaxu, but also for our original cast of characters back in Dune: Paul, Jessica, Gurney, and others.

The story is that of the survival and transformation of the Bene Gesserit order. The order is being wiped out one planet at a time, and they must fight back. Mother Superior Odrade has a plan that will change the face of the universe as well as the Bene Gesserit forever. In the meantime, Miles Teg must have his memories awakened if he is going to lead his armies against the Honored Matres, and that presents its own problems. Duncan Idaho is assigned the task, but his memories of Teg awakening him are too painful, so another approach must be taken. And just who *are* Marty and Daniel anyway, other than the new type of Face Dancer that the Tleilaxu created and lost control of?

And finally, just who are the Honored Matres running from as they return from the Scattering?

There is a lot going on here. It's a very complex novel, I think easily the most complex novel of the six. Additionally, the writing style over the six novels changed dramatically from the original to CHAPTERHOUSE: DUNE; it is easily the most literary novel of the group. It also sometimes wanders far afield, as we get more and more of Herbert's philosophical, political, and religious viewpoints. At least in this novel, unlike GOD EMPEROR OF DUNE where we get beat over the head with all that stuff but nothing happens, there *is* a story here, and a pretty good one. Just not a complete one.

And so this series of reviews ends. What Anderson and Herbert have in store for us remains to be seen, although the first two chapters are up on for those who are interested in looking ahead. I look forward to it with a bit of anticipation and trepidation. I hope they can do it justice. [-jak]

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

I read Spanish (somewhat), but not French (except minimally). So if the most readily available English translation of Jules Verne's JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (the 1872 one that turns "Lidenbrook" into "Hardwigg") is horrendous and completely unfaithful to the original, would I be better off reading a Spanish translation? In other words, how important is a faithful translation?

But luckily, my library had a decent English translation of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (translated by Robert Baldick, ISBN 0-7838-0319-2), so I read that instead. Every once in a while I would compare the Baldick version, the 1872 version, and the Spanish version (uncredited, published by Editorial Universo, Lima, Peru), which each time re-enforced my feeling that Baldick is fairly accurate, and the 1872 is completely off.

For example, here are several versions of the section describing Lidenbrook's stammer:

Verne's French: "Mon oncle, malheureusement, ne jouissait pas d'une extreme facilite de prononciation, sinon dans l'intimite, au moins quand il parlait en public, et c'est un defaut regrettable chez un orateur. En effet, dans ses demonstrations au Johannaeum, souvent le professeur s'arretait court; il luttait contre un mot recalcitrant qui ne voulait pas glisser entre ses livres, un de ces mots qui resistent, se gonflent et finissent par sortir sous la forme peu scientifique d'un juron. De la, grande colire. / Il y a en mineralogie bien des denominations semi-grecques, semi-latines, difficiles a prononcer, de ces rudes appellations qui ecorcheraient les livres d'un poite. Je ne veux pas dire du mal de cette science. Loin de moi. Mais lorsqu'on se trouve en presence des cristallisations rhomboedriques, des resines retinasphaltes, des ghelenites, des tangasites, des molybdates de plomb, des tungstates de manganise et des titaniates de zircone, il est permis a la langue la plus adroite de fourcher."

Baldick: "Unfortunately for him, my uncle had difficulty in speaking fluently, not so much at home as in public, and this is a regrettable defect in an orator. Indeed, in his lectures at the Johannaeum the professor would often stop short, struggling with a recalcitrant word which refused to slip between his lips, one of those words which resist, swell up, and finally come out n the rather unscientific form of a swear-word. This was what always sent him into a rage. / Now in mineralogy there are a great many barbarous terms, half Greek and half Latin, which are difficult to pronounce and which would take the skin off any poet's lips. I don't want to say a word against that science-- far from it--but when ones finds oneself in the presence of rhomohedral crystals, retinasphaltic resins, gehlenites, fangasites, molybdenites, tungstates of manganese, and titanite of zirconium, the nimblest tongue may be forgiven for slipping."

Ward, Lock, & Co. 1877: "To his misfortune, my uncle was not gifted with a sufficiently rapid utterance; not, to be sure, when he was talking at home, but certainly in his public delivery; this is a want much to be deplored in a speaker. The fact is, that during the course of his lectures at the Johannĉum, the Professor often came to a complete standstill; he fought with wilful words that refused to pass his struggling lips, such words as resist and distend the cheeks, and at last break out into the unasked-for shape of a round and most unscientific oath: then his fury would gradually abate. / Now in mineralogy there are many half-Greek and half-Latin terms, very hard to articulate, and which would be most trying to a poet's measures. I don't wish to say a word against so respectable a science, far be that from me. True, in the august presence of rhombohedral crystals, retinasphaltic resins, gehlenites, Fassaites, molybdenites, tungstates of manganese, and titanite of zirconium, why, the most facile of tongues may make a slip now and then."

1872: "There was a reason, and it may be regarded as a good one, why my uncle objected to display his learning more than was absolutely necessary: he stammered; and when intent upon explaining the phenomena of the heavens, was apt to find himself at fault, and allude in such a vague way to sun, moon, and stars that few were able to comprehend his meaning. To tell the honest truth, when the right word would not come, it was generally replaced by a very powerful adjective. / In connection with the sciences there are many almost unpronounceable names- names very much resembling those of Welsh villages; and my uncle being very fond of using them, his habit of stammering was not thereby improved. In fact, there were periods in his discourse when he would finally give up and swallow his discomfiture--in a glass of water."

Spanish: "Mi tio no gozaba por desgracia, de una gran facilidad de palabra, por los menos cuando se expresaba en publico, lo cual, para un orador, constituye un defecto lamentable. Efectivamente, durante sus clases se detenia en lo mejor, luchando con una recalcitrante palabra que no queria salir de sus labios; con una de esas palabras que se resisten, se hinchan y acaban por ser expedidas bajo la forma de un taco[*], siendo este el origen de su colera. / Hay en minerologia muchas denominaciones semigriegas, semilatinas muy dificiles de pronunciar; nombres rudos que desollarian los labios de un poeta. No quiero hablar mal de este ciencia, esta lejos de mi semejante profanacion. Pero cuando se trata de la cristalizaciones romboedricas, de las resinas retinasfalticas, de los tungstatos de magnesio y los titaniatos de circonio, bien se puede perdonar a la lengua mas expedita que tropiece y se haga un lio."

[*] No, not the food--"taco" here means "oath or swearword".

It is, by the way, not true that in Iceland in June and July the sun does not rise or set (Chapter 13 [Chapter 10 in the 1872 translation]). It sets about 1AM and rises about 4AM. I suspect what is meant is that it never gets dark. And leprosy is not hereditary. (These are both incorrect in the original Verne, so one cannot blame the translators.) [-ecl]

[Apropos of all this, Reuters reports: "Brendan Fraser has boarded "Journey to the Center of the Earth," a contemporary, 3-D update of the Jules Verne classic. The story revolves around a scientist who is stuck with his nephew as they embark on a trip to Iceland to check on a volcanic sensor. During a storm, they get trapped in a cave and the only way out is through the center of Earth." This sounds even less faithful than the 1972 translation. -ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

           If it's a good idea . . . go ahead and do it.  
           It is much easier to apologize than it is to 
           get permission."
                                          -- Grace Murray Hopper

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