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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
07/11/08 -- Vol. 27, No. 2, Whole Number 1501
Table of Contents
Thomas M. Disch, R.I.P. (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
Thomas Disch, who wrote science fiction and horror, has committed suicide. He was a writer with some unconventional ideas of what science fiction is and what it can be. Among his best-known books are CAMP CONCENTRATION and 334. Disch was a familiar fixture at science fiction conventions and he railed against what he called "the tyranny of ideas in science fiction." The New York Times obituary can be found at http://tinyurl.com/5rm2ll. [-mrl]
"Forgotten" British Fantasy Movies (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
"Den of Geek!" has a list of the top 10 forgotten British fantasy movies at http://tinyurl.com/69ro3t. Well, I suppose some people may have forgotten VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED or QUATERMASS & THE PIT (a.k.a. FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH), but not anybody who follows British science fiction films. [-ecl]
32 Sci-Fi Novels You Should [Maybe] Read (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
Steve Spaulding has made a list of thirty-two science fiction novels you should read, at http://tinyurl.com/5j5b8z. While it certainly has some flaws (best summarized by commenter "karl s": "[Ayn] Rand? Two Crichton books? Only Andromeda Strain belongs. Two Dick books and three Gibsons? Those should've been grouped as one with room for other books. For example, Alfred Bester's brilliant [THE] STARS MY DESTINATION."), it is certainly a starting point. [-ecl]
FiveBook Worldcon (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
The FiveBook Worldcon(*) has chosen the following for its book discussions:
(Okay, with the double Blish is really SixBook Worldcon.)
(*) I'm not sure if this is more widespread a term, but here we have "OneBook New Jersey", where each year one book is chosen to be featured in discussions, presentations, and so on at public libraries throughout the state. Or rather, three books--one for children, one for teens, and one for adults. The Worldcon in question here is Denvention 3, to be held August 6-10, 2008, in Denver. [-ecl]
The Top Ten Westerns: AFI's and Mine (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
I got the following piece of mail from old friend Rob Mitchell:
Back in MT Void Vol 21, No. 11 (09/13/02, for those keeping score at home), you wrote an interesting column about your top five Westerns As a friendly reminder, those were:
I was watching the AFI special last week about their "10 Top 10" lists, where they took ten genres and listed their top 10 movies in each genre. I note the Westerns they offered did not overlap yours at all, except for one film:
HIGH NOON is of course the only overlap. I realize you only had five films in your list, but out of idle curiosity, I was wondering if any of the AFI films would have been in your next five best.
If you are interested in the other 9 lists (including SF, and Fantasy), as I'm sure you know you can check out: http://www.afi.com/10top10/.
Okay, this is not going to be an essay. I am just going to meander a little.
And the first thing that struck me about Rob's mail is that it was a *great* excuse to put some Western film music on my iPod and write about Westerns again. It is fun to write about Westerns. I don't feel that way about films based on comic books and perhaps not even the current crop of science fiction films. But I find that as I get older I have a real affection for the Western genre. (Maybe part of it is that I have been out west and seen the spectacular scenery that is such an important part of Western films. But it is more than that.)
First, let me directly answer his question. If I had listed my top ten I would have included UNFORGIVEN and SHANE. If I were going through the exercise right now I would also probably include RED RIVER. I might be hard-pressed to come up with the other two. Perhaps I might add ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (though as I said previously I am convinced the latter film is misinterpreted by just about everybody). I guess that makes my ten.
Well, let me address first the unasked question of why there is so little overlap. I tend to find I almost always will disagree with Top Ten lists made up by large numbers of people voting. For such a votership of hundreds to pick a top film it will have had to be seen by a large number of those voters. Films that have not been seen by a lot of people for reasons of distribution or unusual approaches in the storytelling might not be seen by many people but that might be just what makes me like it. I knew that in the AFI's recent list of Top Ten science fiction films, enough people would not have seen films I really admire. For me and for a critic-heavy group of friends GATTACA was the best science fiction film of the 1990s. Yet I knew full well that GATTACA was not going to make the AFI's Top Ten list. Too few people had seen it and only a small number of them will see what we admire in it.
Sidenote: As of this writing I have been unable to get the same group of friends to see what I consider the best (or perhaps second best) science fiction film of this decade, Jerome Bixby's THE MAN FROM EARTH. But this film is not going to make the AFI lists either. Not enough people know about it. The fact is that I just have too many Westerns I like for my own reasons to have a lot of overlap with the AFI's Top Ten Western list. It is less than half even if I add the three overlapping films I have mentioned above. Well, let me comment on some of The AFI top five.
THE SEARCHERS is the only one we have a real disagreement over. I have to admit, I am not sure why I so much disagree with the AFI list on this one. Perhaps it is just too dour for me. In the film over a course of years Ethan Edwards, John Wayne's character, searches for his niece who was kidnapped in an Indian attack. And the search goes on for several years. Ethan was burned out in the Civil War and now the only thing that seems to be keeping him alive is his hatred of Indians. The final scene is very telling because it shows he does not have a lot of feeling for his family and he is not even a welcome member of the family. Who wants to spend two hours with this character? Wayne is nasty enough in RED RIVER, but his character is softened a bit. And there are people around to tell him "You was wrong." In THE SEARCHERS Ethan never realizes what a cold angry man he really has become. There really is no character to like very much.
HIGH NOON I agree is a good film and it is on my list. This is the film in which Marshall Will Kane is left almost alone to stand up to a gang led by a man Kane put in prison and who now seeming has the power to take revenge. Kane has a whole town full of people who like him, but when the chips are down will not join him to defend their own town. (I won't go into the allegory of the government during the Red scare.) HIGH NOON is another misanthropic film, but not as much so as THE SEARCHERS. There are positive people in film for the viewer to latch onto and like. Most of the town is acting in self-interest, but there are people willing to stand up to the Frank Miller gang. And there is Amy, Kane's new wife (Grace Kelly), who has to choose between love and principle. But the most interesting character in the film is Katy Jurado's Helen Ramirez who has strong ideals and is the only person in town who can appreciate what Kane really is.
SHANE is on my top ten list, but a little lower. This is the quintessential film of the gunfighter on the prairie. A very good gunman (Alan Ladd) ambles his way into a battle between sod-busting farmers and a big-money rancher who is chasing them off their own land. In large part the gunfighter is seen through the eyes of a boy much to the regret of the boy's father. The father (Van Heflin) is torn between his need for the gunfighter Shane and wanting to make sure the boy does not make the same choices Shane did. Clint Eastwood paid the film tribute by making an uncredited near-remake, PALE RIDER. But SHANE is better.
Speaking of Clint Eastwood, UNFORGIVEN is an act of contrition on Eastwood's part. For years he made films glorifying violence. Then he made this film to show how bad violence is. Then he resolves the plot in one massive violent event negating the message of the film to that point. It reminds me of the line in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN when Inspector Kemp says "A mob is an ugly thing ... and it's just about time we had one!" But I do like the characters and the style.
RED RIVER is the story of one great cattle drive and the unpleasant so-and-so who organizes it only to find a mutiny on his hands. Nothing is really great, but it sustains a pretty good level for just about the whole length. When it is over you feel you have been on the cattle drive with them. For another really good cattle drive film, see LONESOME DOVE. But it is really not fair to count as a single movie since it really is a TV mini-series well over six hours long.
So I agree fairly much with the top five films on the AFI's list. I just have some particularly good Westerns I rate higher than most of their Top Five. [-mrl]
MONGOL (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: MONGOL is grand historical spectacle made on a budget. It is the legend of the young warrior Temudgin in the days before he became Genghis Khan. This makes for a saga of blood feuds, betrayals, vendettas, and a lot of fighting. In the style of the sagas of the era, the characters are not well developed, and the story not really complex. The film is entertaining but more macho than intelligent. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10
Director Sergei Bodrov intends to tell the story of the Great Khan in three films. This at first glance might seem like it should be a huge and expensive project. But with digital technology to help create spectacular battle scenes and with relatively inexpensive sets--how expensive is it to set up a yurt for the camera?--the film probably looks more opulent than it actually is. The budget is rumored to be $20M, small by Hollywood standards. This is a Russian/Kazakh/German co-production filmed in the Mongolian language. Years ago it would have been risky to subtitle a film like this rather than dub it, but audiences, possibly conditioned by anime, are more tolerant of subtitles. For the current release the subtitles are noticeably briefer than the speech they translate leaving the viewer frustrated at not getting the full story and leaving one to suspect that a dubbed version might have had a fuller or more nuanced story. This story is mostly just a chronicle of feuds and fighting.
Not much is known about the life of the historic Genghis Khan. Most of what we know or think we know comes from A SECRET HISTORY OF THE MONGOLS, an anonymous work written well after the fact and which is recognizably laced with folklore and self-serving interpretations. Further, since Genghis Khan conquered a fifth of the world, in many countries he is still considered a great villain of history. There are complaints that the film is as sympathetic to Temudgin as it is, but he is not far humanized. He is more just a perfect warrior, cunning, intelligent, brave, and thoroughly deadly. He is a man with a personality as thin, sharp, and dangerous as a sword. In at least two scenes he also seems to have magical powers.
The movie begins by quoting a proverb: "Do not scorn a weak cub; he may become a brutal tiger." It fits the film well. In the twelfth century different Mongolian clans, led by khans (or rulers), struggled for power among the Mongols. The story tells how the son of a murdered Khan, a boy who had mortal enemies from age ten, killed those enemies and rose to power as the greatest of the Khans. The sensibility of the telling and even much of the plot is reminiscent of CONAN THE BARBARIAN. That is no coincidence in the films, of course. Temudgin inspired much of the script of CONAN. Each tells the story of a young boy who loses parents and is yoked into slavery only to be strengthened by captivity to rise to become the meanest warrior of all. [Conan says that what is best in life is "to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women." That is John Milius and Oliver Stone borrowing a quote from Temudgin.]
The story begins when Temudgin is a boy of ten being taken by his father, the Khan of his clan, to choose a wife from another clan. After choosing Borte, a year older than the boy, they promise to come for her in five years. The father and son head for home, but the father never makes it. He is murdered, leaving the son a young and weak Khan. Other clans move in to steal from Temudgin's clan. The boy is taken into slavery and put into a cangue. (A cangue is a heavy yoke much like wooden stocks were in colonial New England, but smaller and more portable.) But we know he will not stay there long. Temudgin makes friends and enemies with equal ease. He also knows how to turn friends into enemies, but cannot well turn enemies into friends. He goes from one conflict to the next so that even his wife, once he eventually wins her, complains that he is never home. He is always off fighting someplace.
This is a film of blood and thunder. The blood is frequently digitally created and floats around in globules like something from STAR TREK VI. Thunder is also near and dear to Temudgin's heart as he is the one Mongol who has learned not to fear it. Writers Arif Aliyev and Bodrov could have given us a little less action and let us know a little more of who they think Temudgin was. But unfortunately it would have been inventing. All we really know about the historic Temudgin is a little of who he fought. And even of that we are not sure. MONGOL may be close to the myth of young Genghis Khan, but all we know is a little of who he fought. I rate MONGOL a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.
Film Credits: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0416044/
A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khalid Hosseini (ISBN-13 978-1-594-48950-1, 1-594-489501-5) (book review by Mark R. Leeper):
Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, but writes English well with a simple, pure writing style. His first novel was THE KITE RUNNER, a favorite with reading clubs across the United States. That book tells a power story of two boys who are close friends growing up in Kabul. The main character in a moment of cowardice betrays his friend to save himself. It is a sin that he carries with him all his life, eating at him until he reluctantly submits to doing a dangerous and selfless mission to atone in part and to expiate his sin. The boy, like Hosseini himself, left Afghanistan to live in the United States and to write. The character's mission of self-redemption takes him back to an entirely different Kabul under the barbaric rule of the Taliban. The main character is much like Hosseini himself and the book is about the relationships of male friends and of fathers and sons. In particular it shows the destructiveness of the Taliban to males. As bad as that is, Hosseini recognizes that the plight of women under the Taliban is far worse. That situation is explored his second novel, A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS.
First, the bad news about A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS. Because this story is not autobiographical he could tell any story he wanted. He chose an apparently borrowed framework. His story is at base a retelling and amplification of Alice Walker's THE COLOR PURPLE. It is much broadened and the setting is very different, but the situation and even the plot is much the same. Each is the story of a young woman who is forced into a loveless marriage with a much older man who uses her as a slave and as a target for abuse. The situation goes on for years and just when it seems it can get no worse the husband brings another more attractive woman into the household. The two rivals conflict and fight for the number two position in the household until they realize they have more in common than they have differences. The hatred turns to a solid friendship and genuine affection as well as a shared hatred for the offensive husband. They team up against the abusive husband. That plot fits both stories. Its lack of originality is the one demerit of Hosseini's otherwise fine book. Since THE KITE RUNNER was for me a new plot, I would rate that book a little higher. But SUNS is still an engrossing and excellent read. [A small admission here. My knowledge of THE COLOR PURPLE is based on the film. I have not read the book.]
In this novel Mariam was always mistreated as a child because as an illegitimate daughter she was a family embarrassment. At fifteen she is married off to an abusive husband of forty-five, Rasheed. She lives in virtual slavery to the brutish and physically repulsive Rasheed. I do not remember one scene in which Rasheed rises above being a hissable villain. But a new indignity is coming to Mariam.
Rasheed takes a second young wife, Laila, the daughter of a wealthy family who is pregnant by another man, Tariq, who was her true love. Laila receives word that Tariq has been killed in battle and resigned herself to marriage with Rasheed. After many long months of a rocky start Mariam and Laila find a genuine affection for each other. Each helps the other through her difficult situation in the household.
But there are worse things in the woman's lives than Rasheed. We are given a background of the wars in Afghanistan and the two women seem to suffer with each regime change. But when the Taliban take control the situation becomes truly harrowing and nearly unbearable. Women are treated lower than animals. Most medical facilities are male-only. The conditions at the rare and distant women's hospitals are completely barbarous. The descriptions of the "hospital" are nightmarishly the most haunting images of the book.
Both of Hosseini's books will be an education for Americans on the concentrated evil that the Taliban brought to Afghanistan. The first book had a scene of the stadiums in which women are stoned to death in front of large audiences. The newer book has the stadium stonings become an important part of the plot. In that sense the two books dovetail.
Both books are about courage. THE KITE RUNNER also focuses on cowardice, guilt, and responsibility. A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS is more about victimization, which perhaps is not so uncommon a theme. Both books are an education in the barbarity of the Taliban and what they have done to Afghan society. Two such books are an impressive start to Hosseini's career. [-mrl]
Issue 1500 (letters of comment by Dan Kimmel, Charles S. Harris, and John Purcell):
We had several responses to issue #1500 of the MT VOID.
Dan Kimmel writes, "Now you're both entitled to have "MD" after your names. :-)" [-dk]
Mark responds, "I guess I am now Mark MD but only for a week. I cannot speak for Evelyn, but I have been through a lot. I don't remember being Mark I, but I was probably regal. For a while I became militant when I was Mark X. It felt almost normal being Mark L and then again as Mark ML. I got a bit queasy being Mark MIX and it hit me in the Mark MID. I felt accomplished being Mark DID. But I had the most fun being Mark XXX." [-mrl]
Charles Harris writes, "Now you know how Pres. Bush must feel." [-csh]
Evelyn responds, "Proof that one should *always* have an exit strategy! I suppose we could just announce 'Mission accomplished!' and leave it at that." [-ecl]
John Purcell writes, "Congratulations on reaching a fannish /m/i/l/l/s/t/o/n/e/ milestone: 1500 issues! Quite frankly, I have no idea how many zines of any kind--APA or otherwise--can claim this stratospheric number. This says one of three things: 1) you are dedicated to the zine; 2) you have way too much time on your hands; or 3) you are simply nukking futz! Then again, you could be #4) all of the above." [-jp]
WALL-E (letters of comment by John Purcell and Taras Wolansky):
In response to Mark's review of WALL-E in the 07/04/08 issue of the MT VOID, John Purcell writes, "One other thing to mention herein: I want to see WALL-E as much as my kids. It looks like a lot of fun, and perfect summer movie fare. I deliberately ignored your review to avoid the spoilers, so you're safe for now." [-jp]
And Taras Wolansky writes:
My view of WALL-E is not as positive as Mark's. I don't think it's as good as the other Pixar flicks.
The first half, which is a little bit original, is better than the second. My God, how many times have we seen evil forces covering something up while the good guys, out-numbered and out-gunned but with pure hearts, reveal the whatever-it-is. Not that this makes the film any less effective with its target audience, which is too young to have seen all those other movies!
Another thing that jarred me when I saw the second half is how humans are drawn. Up to that point, the visual depictions had been, more or less, realistic. The buildings look like buildings, the cockroach looks like a cockroach, the plant looks like a plant, the dirt looks like dirt, the junk looks like junk, even WALL-E could be built to look like that (and he's realistically grimy). But then we get into space, and the humans are drawn in a very stylized way, inconsistent with what has gone before.
Though they made me smile, as they lolled in their mobile easy chairs: the filmmakers were probably unaware they were doing an homage to Dr. David Keller's famous short story, "The Revolt of the Pedestrians" (AMAZING STORIES, 1928).
Another thing I noticed was the influence of anime, in which environmental themes are ubiquitous. Human beings living in an artificial environment, in space or underground, coming down (or up) to repopulate the Earth has been done dozens, more probably hundreds of times. And done in a much more serious and adult way than here: WALL-E is "anime light".
I certainly don't think the film is "aimed at adults". Adults won't be able to keep themselves from thinking about the absurdity of humans who have never taken care of themselves, and can barely even stand up, trying to become dirt farmers on a blasted Earth where almost nothing grows.
Kids will take it for granted; but adults might also wonder in what sense there can be heterosexual love between two robots ... [-tw]
1) We have seen the "evil forces covering up" theme quite frequently in films, but not nearly so often as in newspapers. It is very much a fact of life.
2) You say that the humans are drawn in a stylized way but the cockroach looks like a cockroach. If you could see through the eyes of a cockroach you might find it the other way around. I notice when a BBC drama gets an American accent wrong but they can more easily than I can pick out a fake British accent. Pixar does some marvelous animation, but it is still an approximation of living things. They cannot get it quite perfect. And humans will look a little off to you because you will most notice the differences there. Also, they may intentionally want to get humans less precisely. To get humans near right but just a little wrong is actually off-putting. Something that is nearly human-looking but not exactly tends to bother us. See http://www.damninteresting.com/?p=853.
3) I know of science fiction fans who work at Pixar. I get the impression that their unintentional allusions to science fiction may be more intentional than you realize.
4) My guess is that WALL-E is not "anime light". Anime has certain conventions like a certain character design. This is just animation with a serious theme.
5) Yes, it is hard to believe that people as far gone as the humans in this film will take to dirt farming. But I don't think that makes this mostly a children's film. I don't think that THE TIME MACHINE was mostly a children's film because Pal suggests that the Eloi are going to become dirt farmers (though I don't think that came from the Wells). Both films may take a romanticized view of the virtues of good hard work in the earth.
6) The love between Wall-E and EVA is not heterosexual, it is asexual. It would be very frustrating for them if it was not asexual. [-mrl]
Hugo Nominees (letter of comment by Susan de Guardiola):
In response to various reviews of Hugo nominees, Susan de Guardiola writes, "I've enjoyed reading [Evelyn's] and Joe's takes on the various Hugo nominees in Best Novel, though we do have some major disagreements! I've done a series of posts on the novels on my own blog, Rixosous [http://www.rixosous.com], if you're interested in another perspective. I did finish all of them, though it was a real slog with at least one." [-sdg]
Evelyn reples, "Hint--her real slog was my favorite! De gustibus non disputandum and all that." [-ecl]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
Returning to the short fiction Hugo nominees, I'll start by noting that Charles Harris wrote that I had not actually said anything substantive about "Who's Afraid of Wolf 359?" This was in part because when I wrote those comments, I had not completely decided on reviewing all the short fiction. When I did, I did not go back to add anything to that one.
And now, here are my comments on the novelettes.
"The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairytale of Economics" by Daniel Abraham (in the anthology LOGORRHEA) was apparently written as part of a project to write one story for each National Spelling Bee winning word. A cambist is an expert in foreign exchange, and the cambist in this story is asked to set a monetary value on some peculiar "currency" indeed, starting with ornate bills from the Independent Protectorate of Analdi-Wat and getting progressively stranger. It seems to be a tale pulled from a classic fairy tale, but it is of course entirely new.
"The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" by Ted Chiang (F&SF Sep) is another story with its roots firmly in the fairy tale/Arabian Nights genre even as it is also a very tightly plotted multiple time-travel story. The less said about before you read it, the better you will enjoy it. Chiang has so far appeared incapable of writing a less than stellar story, and this is no exception.
"Dark Integers" by Greg Egan (ASIMOV'S Oct/Nov) is a sequel to his short story "Luminous". The idea is that there are areas of space (or parallel universes) where the laws of mathematics are different than here, and attacks can be made by pushing our mathematics into them (and vice versa). I think that reading "Luminous" is a prequisite for "Dark Integers", even though Egan attempts to fill in the background in the latter. There is actually at least some basis for the notion of conflicting mathematical systems, since the has been proven that there are propositions such that both a statement and its negation would be consistent with our system of mathematics. Mathematical science fiction is rare, so it is always good to see another work added to it, especially by someone as skilled as Egan.
"Glory" by Greg Egan (in the anthology THE NEW SPACE OPERA) is about two explorers who travel through some physics mumbo-jumbo to a distant planet populated by two antagonistic peoples so that they can try to find the ultimate mathematical secret hidden on some ancient tablets before the area is completed flooded. This sounds pretty straightforward, but Egan adds some twists that make it into something else entirely, with more emphasis on psychology than on mathematics. (Egan is competing with himself here, but the automatic run-off system used for Hugo voting ought to ward off any problems.)
"Finisterra" by David Moles (F&SF Dec) was another story that I just could not get into. I understand that for all the stories I say that about--or at least all the Hugo nominees--there are many people who disagree with me, but I have to call 'em as I see 'em.
Overall, though, a very good year for novelettes, in my opinion, which somewhat compensates for the weak batch of short stories. It's neck-and-neck for the top slot, but my ballot order: "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate", "The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairytale of Economics", "Glory", "Dark Integers", no award, and "Finisterra".
And finally, the novellas.
While it has a definite science fictional idea, "The Fountain of Age" by Nancy Kress (ASIMOV'S Jul) seems more like a story about the Rom (a.k.a."gypsies") and their philosophy and customs, than a science fiction story. The premise (having to do with stopping the ageing process--and more than that would be telling) is an intriguing one, but seems to get pushed into the background for a lot of the story.
"Recovering Apollo 8" by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (ASIMOV'S Feb) is a finalist for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History as well as for the Hugo. The premise is that, through a slight miscalculation in the trip around the far side of the moon, Apollo 8 missed its window and was unable to return to Earth. Richard was a child at the time, and spends the rest of his life working for space exploration--and to recover the capsule and the bodies of Lovell, Borman, and Anders. (There has been much debate about whether using still-living figures in an alternate history this way is fair to them, but I notice that no one makes the same objections when it is a politician rather than an astronaut.) This is a combination of alternate history and classic space exploration science fiction--sort of the best of both worlds.
I suppose "Stars Seen Through Stone" by Lucius Shepard (F&SF Jul) is well-written, but I seem to have a blind spot (deaf spot?) when it comes to fiction based on music, especially on rock music.
"All Seated on the Ground" by Connie Willis (ASIMOV'S Dec) is yet another sentimental Christmas story from Willis. This one appeals to me even less than the earlier ones--the notion that a single line from a Christmas carol is the key to inter-species communication leaves me cold. (Surely one can find similar lines in popular songs--why not those?)
"Memorare" by Gene Wolfe (F&SF Apr) has a future Thuggee-like cult in space that uses space-based memorials as a trap for its victims. In spite of how this description sounds and its space- based setting, this is more low-key and character-focused than one might expect. Then again, it is by Gene Wolfe, so maybe you would expect that.
My ballot order: "Recovering Apollo 8", "Memorare", no award, "The Fountain of Age", "All Seated on the Ground", and "Stars Seen Through Stone". [-ecl]
Mark Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Quote of the Week: Many of us go through life feeling as an actor might feel who does not like his part, and does not believe in the play. -- Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960
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