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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
07/07/06 -- Vol. 25, No. 1, Whole Number 1342
Table of Contents
692 Film Trailers (pointer):
The Digital History web site has 692 film trailers of generally well-known films that are easily viewable. They play with the software already on most PCs. Actually, some are cheats. Some are from Turner re-releases and some are just film clips or ads for video releases, but they form a sort of history of cinema (particularly if you follow the link to where they are sorted by date). See http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/trailers/trailers_title.cfm. [-mrl]
I Know There Will Never Be Another You (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
The other day I got myself a bottle of orange juice to have with a sandwich. The label proclaimed it to be "100% juice, nothing added." While I munched on this lunch I happened to look at the ingredients. They were water and orange juice concentrate. The producers lied to me. They said nothing was added and here it had water added.
"Just the water they took out," my wife said.
"I don't believe it. I think they added different water!"
"Water is water."
"Perhaps, but they took out some water and added different water. Then they said it was all juice, nothing added."
"Well, after they added the water back it was all juice."
"No, it was a combination of parts of the juice and water. The concentrate was 100% pure juice. At least I hope so. But if you start with orange juice, take out the water, and put in different water you don't have 100% pure orange juice. You have diluted orange juice concentrate. Doesn't it bother you that in what they call 100% pure orange juice most of the molecules have never seen the inside of an orange?"
What can I say? This all ties in with the old Star Trek question. If Captain Kirk steps into the transporter, has his atoms disassembled, they are sent someplace else, and they are reassembled, is this still Captain Kirk? Has Engineering not killed Captain Kirk, took the building blocks, moved them someplace else, and with them built a perfect copy of the original Captain Kirk, one with all his memories, but a different Captain Kirk nonetheless. Functionally, he is still the Captain Kirk we all knew and tolerated. The Starship Enterprise can go on as before because there is something that thinks and functions just like Kirk. But is it Kirk? Is it not true that Kirk was disassembled for parts and a new Kirk was built from the pieces. What if they used *different* atoms? Would that still be Kirk? What if they made one Kirk with his original atoms and one Kirk that is functionally the same but they used different atoms? Does choice of atoms matter? Aren't atoms of a given isotope of an element all alike? I think every time they transport Kirk he dies and an exact replica takes his place.
Similarly when you take the water out of orange juice and put in different water, what comes out may be indistinguishable from real juice, but it no longer is.
Of course, I realize I am flying in the face of common belief. When they took London Bridge, disassembled it and moved it to Lake Havasu Arizona and rebuilt it there, was it still London Bridge? Most people think it is. I suspect I might accept that it is still London Bridge, but it did not have a mind. Captain Kirk had a mind. Well, in a manner of speaking he did. Somehow it is hard to believe that making an exact copy of him is really the same thing as having *the* Captain Kirk. An indistinguishable copy is not the original. That holds true for the orange juice. It is only virtual orange juice.
Speaking of "100% pure," is anyone else bothered by the sign they have (or once had) at McDonalds that says "Made with 100% pure beef"? Does this bother anybody but me? "Shouldn't they say it is made *of* 100% pure beef? I make my spaghetti sauce with mushrooms. I could say it is made with mushrooms. That doesn't mean that there is nothing but mushrooms in it. They could be making those burgers with pig snouts and worm meal. Then they could throw in a tablespoon of UMass peanut butter meat loaf. When you get past the cook's carrots and the peanut butter somewhere in there is a fiber that came from a bovine. That fiber is 100% pure beef. Throw it into the witch's brew and you could say this concoction is made with 100% pure beef. Unless, of course, the beef is made from water and beef concentrate. [-mrl]
Hugo Nominations (comments by Joe Karpierz):
I don't only read novels. Well, I guess most of the time I do, but I do vote in other categories in the Hugo awards, so at least once a year I read fifteen or so short pieces, I watch a few movies and tv shows, etc. What follows below is how I voted in selected categories other than Best Novel.
1) "Identity Theft", Robert J. Sawyer
2) "Inside Job", Connie Willis
3) "Burn", James Patrick Kelly
4) "Magic for Beginners", Kelly Link
5) "The Little Goddess", Ian McDonald
6) No Award
The novellas were all pretty good. I thought the Sawyer and Willis stood above the rest, with the Kelly close behind. The Link was different and decent, I guess, but I don't understand all the hype behind it. It's not *that* good. The McDonald didn't do much for me, but wasn't bad. A pretty strong field, and I would be happy with either of my first two choices winning.
1) "I Robot", Cory Doctorow
2) "TelePresence", Michael A. Burstein
3) "The Calorie Man", Paolo Bacigalupi
4) No Award
5) "The King of Where-I-Go", Howard Waldrop
6) "Two Hearts", Peter S. Beagle
The Doctorow and the Burstein were terrific, and once again I'd be happy if either won. "The Calorie Man" was interesting, but didn't do much for me. I've already forgotten the Waldrop, and the Beagle turned me off inside of two pages.
1) "Down Memory Lane", Mike Resnick
2) "Tk_tk_tk", David D. Levine
3) "Clockwork Atom Bomb", Dominic Green
4) "Seventy Five Years", Michael A. Burstein
5) No Award
6) "Singing My Sister", Margo Lanagan
I'd be happy if any one of the first four won the award--this was a fairly strong field. On the other hand, I just don't see why the Lanagan is here at all.
Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
2) BATMAN BEGINS
3) THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE
4) HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE
5) No Award
6) WALLACE AND GROMIT IN THE CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT
SERENITY and BATMAN are head and shoulders above the rest of the field, and SERENITY is the slam-dunk best of the lot--which is saying a lot because BATMAN BEGINS would be a Hugo winner in most other years. I fell asleep on WALLACE AND GROMIT.
Okay, now we'll see how far I am from the rest of the voting population. I probably won't even be close. :-) [-jak]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
TRUTH, KNOWLEDGE, OR JUST PLAIN BULL: HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE (ISBN 1-59102-246-0) deals with logical fallacies, groupthink, and other obstacles to clear thinking. The problem is that there have been a lot of books covering this ground already, and this does not add anything new (except adding more recent examples, I suppose). And although I am probably somewhat to the left of center politically, I found the extreme left-wing bias in Patten's writing and examples to be very annoying. If he is trying to convince a wide audience, he probably should have avoided such obvious political bias.
WHAT ROUGH BEAST by H. R. Knight (ISBN 0-8439-5456-6) is a mystery-cum-horror novel featuring Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle as characters. There have been other such novels already, including THE ARCANUM by Thomas Wheeler (reviewed in the 10/07/05 issue) and NEVERMORE by William Hjortsberg. This is not too surprising, since Conan Doyle and Houdini were at one time friends--before they fell out over spiritualism. The character of Houdini seems drawn a little too broadly, and for that matter that of Conan Doyle may be as well. If you don't mind some supernatural elements mixed in with your mystery, you might enjoy this, but I suspect that there are better Victorian supernatural horror novels that do not have to work Houdini and Conan Doyle into them.
THE 60 GREATEST CONSPIRACIES OF ALL TIME by Jonathan Vankin & John Whalen (ISBN 0-7607-0882-7) sounded very interesting, until I realized that their notion of "all time" was considerably shorter than even the "young Earthers". In fact, as far as I can tell, Vankin & Whalen seem to think "all time" began around 1940, with only two exceptions I could find: "The Lincoln Conspiracies" and "Those Christ Kids" (a.k.a. The Priory of Zion et al). And that brings up another complaint: all the chapters have cutesy titles that often as not given you no clue as to the subject matter (e.g., "Wake Up and Smell the Gas", "The Secret Team", "The Lost Boys"). At least it does have an index. But when it comes to "History's Biggest Mysteries, Cover-Ups, and Cabals" (the subtitle of this book), I am sure they are many better ones if one looks at the other 98% of history.
I bought A NARRATIVE OF A 1823 TOUR THROUGH HAWAI`I by William Ellis (ISBN 1-56647-605-4) while on vacation in Hawai`i (along with Mark Twain's LETTERS FROM HAWAI`I (reviewed in the 06/02/06 issue of the MT VOID). The Twain is from the late 19th century, while this is from a much earlier time, and a very different perspective. Twain was a cynic; Ellis was a missionary. As such, Ellis spends a lot of time talking about the religious situation: preaching to the natives, convincing them to abandon their heathen religion, and so on. (The old religion had been officially abandoned several years before the missionaries arrived, so in some sense they were a little late for that. But it is clear from Ellis's narrative that there was still a strong belief in Pele, even if the other gods were discarded, and in fact, this seems to continue into the present.) A few things caught my eye. At one point, the author is trying to convince a man not to weed his garden on the Sabbath, and it occurs to me that while there seemed to be very strict rules about working on the Sabbath, these rules defined work as something men did. When the author finished telling the man not to work on the Sabbath, he probably went back to his home and ate a special Sunday dinner prepared by his wife.
Ellis also talks about the legend of a giant named Mankareoreo, who supposedly could pick coconuts as he walked by the trees and could wade into water six fathoms deep without getting wet above his waist. Then Ellis says, "The Hawaiians are fond of the marvellous, as well as many people who are better informed; and probably this passion, together with the distance of time since Mankareoreo existed, has led them to magnify one of Umi's followers, of perhaps a little larger stature than his fellows, into a giant sixty feet high." [page 101] Of course, if you asked this missionary about whether Goliath was a giant (or whether Jonah was swallowed by a big fish, or whether Joshua made the sun stand still), he would probably have insisted that of course all those were facts.
Later when he is talking to people on the Big Island, I get the feeling that all the positive things they say about Captain Cook is more that they are being polite and telling the missionaries what they want to hear, than actually giving their account of what happened. [-ecl]
Mark Leeper email@example.com Quote of the Week: The amount of violations of human rights in a country is always an INVERSE function of the amount of complaints about human rights violations heard from there. The greater the number of complaints being aired, the better protected are human rights in that country. --Daniel Patrick Moynihan
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