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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
11/06/09 -- Vol. 28, No. 19, Whole Number 1570
Table of Contents
Linda Buckley-Archer's Top 10 Time-Traveling Stories:
Children's author Linda Buckley-Archer picks her top ten time- traveling stories (with comments) at http://tinyurl.com/kjm8cs:
Science Fiction and Philosophy:
There is a review of SCIENCE FICTION AND PHILOSOPHY: FROM TIME TRAVEL TO SUPERINTELLIGENCE by Susan Schneider at http://tinyurl.com/yjuxzwg. It says, in part, "Each chapter tackles a different philosophical question via essays by Schneider and academic colleagues with titles like "Could I be in a Matrix or a Computer Simulation?" and "Free Will and Determinism in the World of MINORITY REPORT." These discussions draw parallels between such sci-fi stalwarts as STAR TREK, BLADE RUNNER, and BRAVE NEW WORLD, and philosophical classics like Plato's THE REPUBLIC and Descartes' MEDITATIONS ON FIRST PHILOSOPHY."
Culture (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
In this country you can get away calling a food chain In 'n Out Burger. You couldn't call a place In 'n Out Hot Dog. [-mrl]
Belated Happy 50th, TZ (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
I have to admit that this article should have come out early in October, but it did not occur to me. We recently passed a very important anniversary for science fiction, horror, and fantasy fans. On Friday night, October 2, 1959, fifty years ago last month, CBS television premiered a new weekly anthology series, "The Twilight Zone". It is a hard to speculate how film and literature of the fantastic would have advanced without the strong influence of this television series. CBS was taking a chance on a young but promising writer, Rod Serling. But he had already proved himself on some early plays for television. At that time the networks would produce live plays each week on various programs like "Playhouse 90", "Kraft Television Theater", and "Climax". Serling had written for TV non-fantasy plays like "Patterns" and "Requiem for a Heavyweight"--plays that were powerful human dramas. But Serling had decided he wanted to try his own show. He could put in the drama plus political opinions, ethnic types, whatever he wanted. Serling was well aware that if it were a fantasy show he would be given much more latitude to express himself.
Serling put together a team of people to create a quality program. Most of the stories and scripts he would write himself. Where he had to share responsibilities he got some of the best people in the business. He would cast established actors in the stories and gave opportunities to newcomers like Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, and William Shatner. Rather than using library music he had a score written for each program by such names as Jerry Goldsmith and Bernard Herrmann. Serling wrote 92 of the 156 episodes. Where he could not do the writing himself, Serling got some of the best people imaginable, people like Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont.
At the time there had been some science fiction and fantasy on television. Two reasonable programs were "Science Fiction Theatre" and "One Step Beyond". One told relatively simple science fiction stories; the other dramatized supposedly true paranormal events. They were mediocre, but after them the best science fiction was from programs like "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger". With "Twilight Zone" came stories that were well-written and well-acted. So much so that people who did not care for fantasy would still watch the program for its writing and the quality of the production.
The program ran for five seasons, four and a half seasons in a half-hour format and a half season in an hour format. Some of the most memorable stories were Jerome Bixby's "It's a Good Life", Richard Matheson's "Little Girl Lost", and Serling's own stories like "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street", "The Lonely", and "Walking Distance".
When I was nine or ten, this program was the most important event of the week. If we had to miss "The Twilight Zone" it was a tragedy. We would talk about the programs endlessly with our friends. And there is still much to discover in the old episodes. I did not appreciate it at the time, but today when I look at the show I can see dramatic acting as good as I can remember from any film. Nobody does human despair as well as Jack Klugman did it in "A Passage for Trumpet" and "In Praise of Pip".
With time the strain of producing the series showed on both Serling and the program he was producing. Much of the series is mediocre and some episodes are even of low quality. But the contribution that the series made to both fantasy drama and writing in general is undeniable.
So Happy Anniversary to "The Twilight Zone" after half a century that the program made better. [-mrl]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
In the last couple of weeks, I haven't had as much opportunity to read as before. In terms of well-known fantasy authors, all I can point to is WONDERFUL ALEXANDER AND THE CATWINGS by Ursula K. LeGuin (ISBN-13 978-0-439-55191-5, ISBN-10 0-439-55191-9), apparently part of a series about the Catwings. This is a children's book which my seven-year-old niece read to me last time I visited Massachusetts. She was reading it for school, and I have to say that it is a good sign that the school has books by authors such as LeGuin.
MONSTER, 1959 by David Maine (ISBN-13 978-0-312-37302-3, ISBN-10 0-312-37302-3) is a re-telling of "King Kong", but set in the late 1950s on a radioactive island which has produced a monster with some characteristics of King Kong, some of Godzilla, and some original. It is an interesting combination of the two themes, but parts are a bit predictable, and the ending is just, well, bizarre (and also probably makes it unsuitable for young adult readers). [-ecl]
Mark Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Quote of the Week: One of life's greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn't good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world. -- Yiddish proverb
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