MT VOID 06/01/07 -- Vol. 25, No. 48, Whole Number 1443

MT VOID 06/01/07 -- Vol. 25, No. 48, Whole Number 1443

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
06/01/07 -- Vol. 25, No. 48, Whole Number 1443

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. All comments sent will be assumed authorized for inclusion unless otherwise noted. To subscribe, send mail to To unsubscribe, send mail to

Literature of the Aged (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

It seems that the Doubleday Science Fiction Book Club, long a powerful force in science fiction and more recently fantasy, may be going away. Certainly there seems to be a shakeup in how it is doing business.

It may be that Doubleday just is not finding it a profitable as it once was. I think much of the reason for this is that younger people are not the market for science fiction that they once were. If you go to science fiction conventions you really see that the average age of attendees has risen and there are fewer teenagers. In the 1960s it seemed the Book Club was aimed mostly at younger readers. Now fewer teens are reading science fiction and the average age is increasing. A friend showed me a premium she got for signing up for the Book Club. It was a fancy pill case. For that to be a Science Fiction Book Club premium indicates to me they recognize that much of their market has aged. The average age has increased to the people who take a lot of prescribed medications. In another few years the Science Fiction Book Club premium would have been the Imperial Walker. [-mrl]

Blogs (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

Soren Kierkegaard said, "Life must be lived forward, but can only be understood backward," but he was wrong. How do I know? Well, I've been reading some blogs lately. The standard seems to be that the first entry is the latest, so reading them in order should help one understand it better. It doesn't. All these blogs keep referring to events that happened earlier, assuming one has already read that entry. And there is no convenient way to say, "Reverse the order." Bleh. [-ecl]

Logical Paradoxes From Illogical Minds (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

Logic is the only field of reason that may be more basic and more concrete than mathematics. The fact that the statement that says "A implies not B" is the same as "B implies not A" seems far removed from the psychological workings of the mind. Yet there is an interesting class of logical paradoxes that seem to involve psychology and the degree of thinking person uses and the number of levels of logic he chooses to employ and even a person's mental capacity.

A prime example to show what I mean is the "Unexpected Hanging". It goes like this. A man is sentenced to death by hanging on a weekday in a given week, but as a merciful part of his sentence he *must not* know which day he will die until he is actually taken to be hanged.

The prisoner, a logician, thinks about his situation and reasons that he has actually been spared the hanging altogether. How? He knows that the day of the hanging cannot be Friday. If he were to be hanged on that day, he would know on Friday that it is the last possible day so it had to be that day. But he is supposed to not know. That rules out Friday as a possible day of the execution and makes Thursday the truly last possible day of the dreaded event. Knowing that the Friday hanging is impossible, if he is still alive on Thursday, that must be the day. But he is not supposed to know the day of his hanging. So Thursday cannot be chosen for the day of the execution.

Wednesday is the last possible day. The prisoner and the executioner both know that Wednesday is really the last chance. So the same logic says that is not possible either. If we continue applying the logic in this way we will rule out every day as being a possible day. Hence there is no day that he can be hanged.

Yet suppose Tuesday is chosen. One of the prisoner's proofs was that Tuesday could not possibly be the dreaded day, but the day chosen was Tuesday nonetheless. How unexpected! In spite of a logical proof that Tuesday was not the day, it still was. How do we resolve this contradiction? It was not known how deeply the executioner would think about the problem. It was conceivable he could have chosen Tuesday and assumed that the prisoner had not ruled out that day.

The real uncertainty comes from not knowing at what depth the executioner is thinking of the problem and how deeply the executioner thought the prisoner was thinking about the problem. How many steps would each carry the logic? We do not know if the executioner knows the reason the prisoner has ruled out Thursday and accepts the logic, for example. But the degree of logic used is hard to quantify. Both have a long chain of assumptions of what the other person will realize. Only some may be true.

I discovered a similar paradox that proves by induction that everybody already knows the solution to the famous "Towers of Hanoi" puzzle. Let me first describe the puzzle.

Take the spades from a deck of cards. Place the picture cards picture down in a row. The backs of the cards will just be placeholders for stacks of face-up cards. Order the number cards (count the ace as a one) in order in a stack face-up, going ace on top to ten on the bottom. Put this stack on the leftmost of the picture down cards. Now the object of the game is to move all the cards to the back of a different picture card. There are two restrictions. You can move only one card at a time from stack to stack. You can put a card only directly on the back of a picture card or on top of a number card of greater value. Your mission is to move all the cards from the position they are now on the back of one picture card to the back of a different picture card obeying these two rules. If you had only two cards to move it would be easy. Move the ace to the back of one picture card, move the two to the back of the remaining uncovered picture card. Move the ace onto the two (allowed since 2 is greater than 1). You have just shifted the ace and the two to another position.

Now start over and following the rules move all the cards to the back of one of the other picture cards following the rules above. Go ahead. I will wait.

[Pauses while reader tries out a ten-card puzzle. Listens for song of a sparrow. Does not hear one. Thinks an X-rated thought. Smiles slightly. Reader returns.]

So you knew immediately how to do it, right? No? LIAR! Here we were having this nice conversation and you lied to me. You certainly know the fastest method to move those ten cards. I can prove it.

I will prove the assertion by induction. You know how to move one card to a different stack. Moving the ace to a different stack is allowed in the rules. You know how to move two cards. I told you how above.

Now suppose you know the (perhaps complicated) process how to move N cards to a different stack following the rules of the game. Do it. You now have the N smallest cards in one stack, the rest are still in the original stack. One stack is empty. Move the N+1st card to that empty stack. Now, again following the rules, move the first N cards on top of it. Voila, you have moved N+1 cards to a different stack. So you must know how to move N+1 cards to a different stack. If you know how to move N cards you know how to move N+1. Because you know how to move two cards, you know how to move three. Because you know how to move three cards you know how to move four. Because you know how to move four cards you know how to move five. And so forth. So apparently you know how to move any number of cards. That seems like a good induction proof.

Yet my knowledge of the real world tells me that people usually cannot move the cards in this way. For these people the logic breaks down. They probably know how to transfer one or two cards. But transferring ten cards or thirty cards or one hundred cards may be a little daunting for them.

One reason someone might not know how to move all ten cards is the limit of memory. In the middle of the effort to transfer ten cards you will be in the middle of the effort to move nine cards. Doing that you will be in the middle of the effort to move eight cards. And so forth. To use computer jargon you are essentially running a stack of subroutines and a human mind can only manage a stack to a certain small depth.

Evelyn has a different explanation. She says you know the method for moving one card really well. The method for moving two cards you know pretty well. For three cards you know it sort of well. Each step you know it a little less well. That may amount to the same thing. The larger the number of cards to be moved the harder it is to maintain. [-mrl]

Food Stamp Challenge (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

[This has nothing to do with science fiction, but is an interesting exercise to see how *you* would do this.]

Four Congressmen, including Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Jim McGovern (D- MA), tried to eat for a week on $21/person, which is what food stamps allow a person.

Ryan and McGovern kept blogs of their experience ( and, respectively. Their blogs indicated what they bought. Many people posted comments about how poorly they shopped, but I will add mine as well.

Ryan ($20.66):

My comments: It seems to me that one can find pasta slightly cheaper than that, even while not on sale, but perhaps not in Washington DC. Two jars of strawberry preserves seems like an extravagance--it is his second most expensive purchase, and has no nutritional value to speak of. I'm not sure what size peanut butter he got, but it can be found for about $1.50 for an 18- ounce jar.

McGovern ($41.70 for two):

My comments: What is a fajita kit? If it is tortillas, one can get them cheaper as just tortillas. I suppose it may include salsa or something. $3.50 for two cans of tuna?! Even solid albacore is available for $1 a can, and chunk light cheaper than that. I'm assuming the lentils were dried, because that is must cheaper than canned. It was suggested that if one was going to buy a chicken, one should buy an onion, some celery, and a couple of carrots, and make a large pot of soup instead of just roasting it for basically one meal as the McGoverns did.

Someone commented that both of them seemed to shop in a more expensive supermarket. However, they shopped at the supermarket closest to them. Anything else would have required taking mass transit (and a fair walk)--the former costs money, and the latter is difficult with a lot of groceries.

In general, the claim was that one could not buy milk on that budget, but non-fat dry milk is $6.49 for enough to make ten quarts.

Someone else who did this noted that that Ryan and McGovern have is that they are 1) starting from scratch, and 2) buying just enough for a week. I realize the last sounds counter-intuitive, but if one expects to be on the "$21/week diet" for a long period of time, one can have a wider variety by buying different foods each week, then carrying some over. (For example, a box of oatmeal can be consumed over several weeks, as can a dozen eggs. So one week you buy one, and the next the other.) Also, tea bags are only about a penny each at a dollar store, but one needs to buy a hundred.

The first problem (starting from scratch) can be bypassed in a short test period by assuming one has basic seasonings already and can use them. For example, I would consider it allowable to use existing salt, pepper, cooking oil, olives (for seasoning, not eating), soy sauce, citric acid, cumin, chile, Sazon, and sofrito.

In general, I would also try to buy day-old bread, and supplement with canned fruits and vegetables from the discounted dented can bin (assuming one can find one).

My shopping list (starred items will last longer than one week) ($20.11):

With this I can make five pints of Puerto Rican beans and five pints of Arroz con Gandules (from only 8 ounces of the white rice). Adding bulghur to the beans will stretch it further. The starches will all last more than a week.

As noted, this does not have much variation in meals, but I could live with that. In week two I could add elbow macaroni (0.59) and cheese (4.99/lb) to the menu. A bag of roasted peanuts might also be a good investment later on--high in protein and filling. I would spring for some real olive oil (for flavoring) when I could (8.5 ounces for 2.99).

I am not saying this is a good way to live--there are no fruits other than raisins, no vegetables other than onions, etc. But note that in subsequent weeks, there would be more money to spend on those. Some people have claimed that canned or frozen produce was cheaper, others that fresh produce was cheaper. One person claimed that bananas could always be found for 30 cents a pound. Not around here! Another suggested a 5-pound bag of potatoes, which is probably affordable most places.

There is also no provision for non-food items such as soap or toilet paper.

(There was someone recently who did an experiment of eating for a month on $1 a day, so it can be done even cheaper.)

Note that this is one of several current "agenda diets"; others include such old-timers as the kosher, vegetarian, or vegan diets; the "eat organic diet"; and the "eat locally" diet (for example, [-ecl]

RAINBOWS END by Vernor Vinge (copyright 2006, Tor, $7.99, 381pp, ISBN 0-812-53636-3) (book review by Joe Karpierz):

We begin our review of this year's Hugo-nominated novels with Vernor Vinge's RAINBOWS END. The novel is subtitled "A Novel with One Foot in the Future". I have to say I agree with that statement--as far as the rest of the novel goes, I really don't know what to make of it.

Our central character--I don't think you can call him a protagonist, although if you squint a bit maybe you can--is one Robert Gu. Gu was a world famous poet until Alzheimer's set in. He comes to in 2025, with his mind and health restored by the miracle of modern health technology. But along with that modern health technology comes other technological advances which are completely foreign to Gu. Your clothes connect you to the Internet with the help of smart contact lenses. Nothing is as it seems--reality is whatever someone else wants it to be. What one person sees as one thing may be seen by another person as something else entirely. Books are on their way out. Things have changed too much, too fast.

Gu was an abusive person. He believes that his wife is dead, when in fact she left him years before his Alzheimer's set in. She lives in the Rainbows End retirement home. His son and daughter-in-law are high-level government agents, he in a military capacity, she in a sort of intelligence agency. He has a granddaughter named Miri, who believes that he has changed--that he's not the man he once was. Her parents and his wife think she's wrong.

Meanwhile, there's a little matter of some international espionage and hornswaggling going on. Alfred Vaz is running experiments in San Diego in YGBM technology--You've Gotta Believe Me. Call it a sort of mind control thing, if you will. The international community has caught on, and Alfred joins forces with two other international expert analysts to figure out what's going on. Yep, that's right--he's an international expert in these things too, and he's in charge of ratting out his own experiments. The three of them enlist the aid of the Rabbit--an international expert in something or other, but he's not telling. He just convinces the other three that he can get to the bottom of what's going on in San Diego, and that has Vaz worried.

But wait, there's more.

There's the Librareome Project, where books in libraries all over the world are being scanned, shredded, and digitized. And oh, yes, Gu and many other old timers recovering after their health is restored are back at school, trying to become accustomed to a new way of life.

And then it gets complicated.

Actually, it's complicated from the beginning, and while at the beginning I thought this book was going in a terrific direction, for me it stalled out. There was too much going on in too many different places all at the same time for me to keep track of. I will say that it's inventive and in many places intensely interesting. It's an interesting extrapolation of where the Internet could be heading, and that may be *my* problem. I realize there's a lot more going on with the net than I take advantage of or even care to know about, and this takes it a great deal further. If this is our future, I'm not sure I want it.

So, not a great start. Let's hope the next entry, BLINDSIGHT by Peter Watts, is a lot better. [-jak]

The Golden Man and NEXT (letter of comment by Frank R. Leisti):

In response to Mark's comments on time travel in the 05/25/07 issue of the MT VOID, Frank Leisti writes:

With Mark's viewpoint of time travel as a video reset (with retaining the information gathered in prior attempts), one could look at the 'golden man' ability to see various pathways into the future given the current state of time.

[Mark notes, "I am not sure that is so much my viewpoint. That is the plot of films I have reviewed, notably GROUNDHOG DAY." -mrl]

Since that first step limits all of the other possibilities (like if he went to the horseshoe pit earlier and couldn't throw the ringer), the bigger action would be the affected person's own influence on the future pathway. At what point does the future become set for a person like that?

If I think that I will extend my arm to catch something falling, that has yet to get tipped over, have I limited my actions during the time of thinking to extend my arm? What about indecision-- where I see only so far into the future based on the current state of time and I start on a path that soon enough brings me close to personal peril? As I get closer to getting killed, I see the results and start trying to climb out of that pathway, would it be similar to getting caught in a black hole of time?

It will be interesting how the screen writer of Next has interpreted this ability and the director's method of displaying it to the viewer.

I have always found this idea stimulating and so when the movie, Next came out last Friday, I was ready to pluck down extra money to see it with my girlfriend, rather than at the rush show where it is a few dollars cheaper, but my girlfriend was still working at that time.

The movie does show instances where Nicholas Cage does see & interact with his future--first with a car chase (him in the stolen car, racing to beat a train--the first time shows him crashing with the train when driving at 80-90 mph, but just zipping past when driving at 120 mph (the physics is off for the distance & speed to be that close to the train as shown in the movie.)

The next time is that he sees the FBI agent, Julianne Moore coming to talk with him and he has the conversation, sees the FBI SWAT team arrive and leaves before she really does arrive--now knowing what she wants of him, even though they had yet to talk in "real time".

Later, when searching on a booby-trapped boat, he 'splits' to search multiple levels of the ship in order to find the girl that he had visions about that were not limited to just over 2 minutes of time viewing. With all of his splits, some come across places that explode, so other versions of himself start to avoid those locations. The issue here is that even if you could split off into multiple people, with a two-minute limit, you are hard pressed to make the necessary full length search of a ship. You normally couldn't do that in the time limit, but the visualization of him splitting into multiple individuals does move the plot line along and leads up to the confrontation with the bad guy. That part had physics problems as well--multiple shots in the general direction of a person walking to you will likely hit somewhere on that individual (even given the fact that police at point blank range often has only a 25% success rate at hitting someone--given the "excitement" at the time of the shooting.)

I liked Dick's story better in the way that the "Golden Man" waited when the horseshoe playing was going on, then took a particular moment to advance and throw the horseshoe for a ringer. It was that time when the ringer would be made, so that was the time that he went to throw it. Sort of like the universe's random actions aligned at that moment of time for him to throw the perfect shot. Now, it could have been that he visualized his multiple attempts at throwing until his muscles learned to throw that perfect shot. But if that was the case, then he would have to visualize lots of things before doing things just right.

From the NEXT movie, the case scene (walking) in the casino was a splendid example of doing all of the things at just the right time, even to the part where he walks around the security men even as they are being told where to look for him. For the rest of us, we would see him as extremely lucky in getting away with the situation.

As to "déjà vu" incidents, I have experienced them a lot over my lifetime. One of the most recent being when I went to my son's mother's house to see him and there was a Direct TV tech installing a system for them. He had parked his truck in the driveway on the left side, and I parked on the right side, almost into the grass. I knew that if I didn't leave before that person, he would hit my car, even though there was plenty of space and absolutely no reason for him not to see my car. Yet, when I spent time with my son (he was showing me his room there), the technician came back to the house saying that he had run into my car.

For my own personal belief, I feel that we can sense strong emotions through time and these can produce the "déjà vu" image that we see before it happens. Perhaps the writers of the Matrix aren't so far off the mark when it comes to living in our world. Perhaps we actually are multi-dimensional beings existing in this universe and we are only tied down in these three dimensions but those other dimensions can touch us in ways that we don't understand. I can imagine our world where our "super-consciousness" mingles with others around us and can draw people we want or don't want to us in this world.

A wonderful conversation. Hope that you enjoy the movie, NEXT. [-frl]

MINORITY REPORT (letter of comment by Mike Glyer):

In his comments on MINORITY REPORT in the 05/25/07 issue of the MT VOID, Mark wrote, "The *real* story 'Minority Report' by Dick, inaccurately presented in the film, has three different psychics seeing three different futures because knowing a future supposedly allows one to avert it and bring about a different future. That was really the point of the original written story." [-mrl]

Mike Glyer writes, "A number of SF writers like Clarke and Bradbury have explicitly said that science fiction foretells futures in order to avert them. Do you think Dick's 'Minority Report' is on any level a commentary on the genre itself? [-mg

Mark answers, "I cannot judge what did and did not go on in Dick's strange mind. But the idea for layered is complex enough it could easily have been all that was on his mind." [-mrl]

Eponyms (letter of comment by Peter Rubinstein):

In response to Mark's comments on Quisling in the 05/25/07 issue of the MT VOID, Peter Rubinstein writes, "Ranks right up there with the aptness of Don Quixote's name in light of his quixotic behavior!" [-pir]

EIFELHEIM (letter of comment by Gerard Ryan):

In response to his own letter of comment on EIFELHEIM in the 04/20/07 issue of the MT VOID (and Taras's in the 05/25/07 issue), Jerry Ryan writes:

Well, I had to buy EIFELHEIM and read it just as soon as I realized that it was based on that old short story that I remembered.

I enjoyed it very much. Very richly drawn characters, and a very compelling story. Flynn basically wrote the story of the village that had the encounter with the extraterrestrials and intercut it with the short story that he wrote twenty years ago.

My only criticism is that he didn't spend as much time fleshing out the "modern" characters that deduced the story of the village of Eifelheim. The chapters marked "Now", the piece parts from the original short story, don't read as well as the chapters from the past. Maybe he didn't really need to do more with the "Now" pieces--maybe doing more would have interfered with the main line of the story.

Good stuff, though. I agree with Taras, you should pick it up and read it. I have the sense that it's the sort of thing that would appeal to you. [-gwr]

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

Larry McMurtry is best known for LONESOME DOVE--indeed, for most people, that is his only work they could name (but see the review of FILM FLAM below for a list of others). However, he has also written a fair amount of non-fiction, mostly in the form of essays. These have been collected into several, one of which is SACAGAWEA'S NICKNAME (ISBN-10 1-590-17099-7, ISBN-13 978-1-590-17099-1). This includes twelve essays from "The New York Review of Books", covering such diverse aspects of the West as Buffalo Bill, the Zuni tribe, John Wesley Powell, and Angie Debo, as well as (obviously) Sacagawea. McMurtry places his own view of the West between the triumphalists and the revisionists. (I would summarize these as "manifest destiny" and "noble savage", but that is my shorthand, not McMurtry's, and even I will admit that both are more complex than that.) McMurtry has been involved in the popularization of "the West", yet he still retains the ability to look at how that popularization has done a disservice to both the West and those who are perceiving it.

I was reading the foreword to FILM FLAM: ESSAYS ON HOLLYWOOD by Larry McMurtry (ISBN-10 0-743-21624-5, ISBN-13 978-0-743-21624-1), but was taken aback when I read, "As the ante for each picture goes up the old fever of excitement gives way to the constant low-grade fever of dread. What if we spend $30 million and it flops?" Just how old was this book?! It turns out it is from 1987, those halcyon days when $30 million was a lot of money in Hollywood. (SPIDER-MAN 3 just cost $250 million.) These essays reflect McMurty's experience both as an author whose novels have been filmed, and as a screen-writer. His filmed novels include HORSEMAN, PASS BY (filmed as HUD); THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, TERMS OF ENDEARMENT, and perhaps his best known novel, LONESOME DOVE. McMurtry takes a refreshingly practical approach to the business of screen-writing--and, yes, to him it is a business. In the essay "The Fun of It All" he says that far too many screen-writers have an inflated sense of their own importance, and need to gain some perspective. (Among other points, he notes that "if writers play limited roles in Hollywood, they also bear limited responsibilities. They don't have to foot the bill when a picture gets made; and nobody's going to blame them if a picture flops.") This attitude puts him at the far end of the spectrum from, say, Harlan Ellison. McMurtry is in favor of treating screen-writing as a craft, working with deadlines, being open to input from others and changes to the script, and not insisting on being on set through the entire shoot.

Of having one's novels turned into movies, he writes, "When Hollywood entered my life I was sitting in a tiny room in Fort Worth eating meatloaf. The phone rang, and I was informed that some people I had never heard of had just bought the movie rights to my first novel. Three nights later I was sitting in the best restaurant in Fort Worth, eating my first chateaubriand--a steak so thick that in most parts of Texas it would have been called a roast--and discussing title changes with a gentleman from Paramount. At the time it never crossed my mind to wonder whether the movie would turn out to be better than the book; what I knew for a certainty was that the steak was better than the meatloaf." (page 36) (Stephen King tells a similar story about hearing about the sale of the movie rights to CARRIE.)

But what about the notion that a bad movie hurts the author of the source book? Regarding RAGTIME, McMurtry says, "In my view it is preeminently silly for Doctorow to give a damn about what happens to RAGTIME as a film. His work is done, and his tale now belongs, most properly, to its readers, not to him. The film De Laurentiis may eventually make of it is another problem, but it is clearly De Laurentiis's problem, no Doctorow's." (page 71) McMurtry's implication throughout all this, never stated, and perhaps just my conclusion, is that if the author is going to care that much about what a film made from the book will be like, he should not sell the rights. (Returning to Steven King, however, it is generally agreed that the best films made from his works are those he had the least involvement with, and conversely.)

(The title of this book, FILM FLAM, is a (perhaps unintentional) example of how books and movies are different. No one would use this phrase in a movie, because it is virtually unpronounceable.)

"Bambi Steaks" by Richard A. Lovett (ANALOG, May 2007) is the sort of story that makes me yearn for the days of Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth. It is set in the future (sometime after 2017) and apparently the Red states and the Blue states split apart (actually there seemed to be six different splinter countries at one point) which eventually re-formed into a confederacy. And someone has developed mind transference, so there is a draft where Reds swap minds/bodies with Blues for a week or a month or whatever. (This is the best use they have for mind transference?!) Our narrator is a Blue and has to live as a Red for a month. Oh, and people are supposed to try to conceal their identity during the swap. The word "predictable" is far too understated for this story. The narrator has his brain full of stereotypes of Reds, but as written, is just a mass of stereotypes about Blues. And just in case even this is too subtle, the tagline reads: "The trouble with the real world is that it too often refuses to fit our nest pictures of it. . . ." And the fact that the exchange is symmetrical provides no balance--when he returns, his Blue buddies talk about what a great guy his Red "mind guest" was. The Golden Age of social satire science fiction is indeed passed.

On the other hand, if the traditional sources of short fiction are disappointing, one can occasionally find a gem in the most unlikely places. For example, "The New York Review of Science Fiction" does not usually publish fiction, but the February 2007 issue has a wonderful piece by Michael. A few weeks back (in the 04/27/07 issue of the MT VOID) I reviewed Rhys Hughes's A NEW UNIVERSAL HISTORY OF INFAMY. Well, "The Orchid Forest: A Metafactual Narrative Introduction to THE CRYSTAL COSMOS by Rhys Hughes, by Miguel Obispo" is described as "Rhys Hughes's 612th piece of fiction in his projected life's work of one thousand discrete, albeit subtly linked, items of fiction." Except, of course, it is written by Michael Bishop. Only about 5500 words long (placing in firmly in the Short Story category for Hugo, hint, hint!), it is chock-a-block with literary references, allusions, and in-jokes. Some are overt (Hughes the character says that all the ships in his latest work, THE CRYSTAL COSMOS, are named for Ian Watson novels), some are more subtle (Moby K. Dick, the Paranoia Whale), and others are downright obscure (I am sure that "an unpronounceable town in Finland" must be a reference to *something*). This is one of those stories that as soon as I finished it I wanted to read it again, and will definitely be on my Hugo ballot next year. [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper
Quote of the Week:

           Janie's a pretty typical teenager--angry, 
           insecure, confused.  I wish I could tell 
           her that's all going to pass, but I don't 
           want to lie to her.
                               -- Alan Ball, AMERICAN BEAUTY, 1999

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