MT VOID 04/13/12 -- Vol. 30, No. 42, Whole Number 1697

MT VOID 04/13/12 -- Vol. 30, No. 42, Whole Number 1697

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
04/13/12 -- Vol. 30, No. 42, Whole Number 1697

Table of Contents

      Mork: Mark Leeper, Mindy: Evelyn Leeper, Back issues at All material is copyrighted 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

Quite? (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

We were told that there is no other city quite like Johannesburg. That is one of those statements whose veracity I question not so much as its profundity. Can you name some city that is quite like some other city? I kind of doubt it. [-mrl]

Found in My Inbox (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

From: "reply to confirm reciept" 
Subject: 05/04/2012
Date: Thu, 05 Apr 2012 16:01:25 -0400
I am Mr. James Dimon from the united nation you are Among of the 


Free Audio Science Fiction Sorted by Author (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

For those interested, I ran across this page of audio files of radio dramatizations and readings of science fiction. It is sorted by author. A lot of this can be downloaded to an iPod or it can be played on a computer.


THE ATLANTIC (1929) and TITANIC (1943) (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

Another interesting curio of a film I have found is THE ATLANTIC. This is not a fantasy film like the ones I usually post. It is the first feature-length film about a large "unsinkable" luxury liner hitting a North Atlantic iceberg in the middle of the night and sinking. The boat is called the "Atlantic", but I have a pretty good idea what boat it was really about. The film is introduced by David McCallum (of THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E fame, who also played the wireless operator in the 1958 Titanic film A NIGHT TO REMEMBER). If you want to skip over some creaky acting at the beginning you can skip to the first sighting of the iceberg at twenty-three minutes into the film. The film is about ninety minutes long, but parts seem longer.

(Incidentally, I am informed that nobody thought of The Titanic as "unsinkable" before it sank. That is a piece of mythic hubris. That and several other Titanic myths are debunked at

Another curio on the Titanic theme is TITANIC (1943) a Nazi propaganda film blaming the Titanic disaster on (who else?) the Jews. This is the second feature-length film about the sinking of the Titanic. It is on YouTube in nine parts. Part 1 is at and you can follow links to pick up the entire film. [-mrl]

Culprit Found? (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

Long time MT VOID readers--well, readers from five years ago which does not seem all that long ago--may remember that I was concerned about Colony Collapse Disorder. For those not following this issue, I said in the 04/20/07 issue:

"Over the last few months honeybee keepers have been facing a very strange phenomenon. They have been going out to visit their hives and finding nobody home in a significant fraction of them. Some of the hives are just empty of bees. Whole colonies of bees are just going missing. First this was happening in isolated parts of the United States, then large parts of the United States, then in continental Europe. Now it is being reported in Britain... This is something a little scary. About one third of all crops get their pollination from honeybees. Since the age of dinosaurs there have been intimate links between bees and flowers that sort of evolved together. And we are highly dependent on that symbiosis. If honeybees were to disappear we would likely have much less food grown, much less fed to animals. The whole system would go into famine mode. And honeybees are disappearing. And the problem is they are disappearing without a trace. It would be one thing if we were finding their dead bodies someplace and could see if we could figure out what killed them. Maybe it is some parasite and maybe it is pesticides. Of course people would be rooting for it to be parasites because then there would be little we could do. And we prefer that to stopping use of pesticides for some strange reason. And city dwellers would rather it be pesticides than something they are doing. The further the cause is from our daily lives, the less chance we will be asked to change our lifestyle. But there are no bees to be found to perform an autopsy on so we have no idea what the cause is."

Now there seems to have been substantial progress on this problem and not really surprisingly the culprit is an insecticide. There is fairly good evidence that the problem is being caused by Imidacloprid. It is a neurotoxin, which would explain why a lot of the bees become confused and cannot find their way back to the hive. According to the article in Wikipedia Imidacloprid screws up the transmitting of stimuli in the insect nervous system. The bees' minds and instincts just start failing. It works on a kind of neural communications route that insects have lots of but warm- blooded animals do not have. That is good as an insecticide, since it means it is less likely to harm types of animals we care about. It is a lot worse for insects than for, say cattle. But it also helps cover the tracks of the insecticide. So it took five years to realize that this was causing the problem, assuming that the research is confirmed.

See .

Well, Imidacloprid is so conveniently selective that according to the same Wikipedia article it is the number one most widely used insecticide in the world. It is used not just to protect crops; it is martialed against termites and carpenter ants. It is used to safely hang around a dog's or cat's neck to kill fleas. It controls Japanese Beetles. On farms it is used against aphids, locusts, and stinkbugs.

This is all a quaint way of saying that there are a lot of people who depend on Imidacloprid for their livelihood and a lot who do not so much depend on it but who profit from it and who would be loath to see those profits go away for anything so trifling and disputable as a scientific finding. There are bound to be deniers. This may well be an issue that will split agricultural interests. Many need bees to pollinate many of their crops. Many depend on the insecticides to protect their crops. And there may be some who do both and will have a real dilemma. It will be really interesting to see how this whole issue will enter the political arena. The loss of the bees would probably be a much larger disaster than the loss of the dangerous insecticides. But we currently have powerful political forces defaming (for fun and profit) scientific consensus opinion. And that has the potential to and very likely will get us into serious trouble.

See .


LOSING CONTROL (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: LOSING CONTROL is an amiable, if uneven comedy, mixing real science, scientific method, and the modern dating scene with a little bit of sex (never shown). A Harvard science genius decides to use scientific method to determine if she really wants to marry

her boyfriend of five years. Writer Valerie Weiss's script lets down director Valerie Weiss with plot inconsistencies and an uneven feel. The tone and pacing and even the characters are inconsistent, but still writer/director Valerie Weiss gives the film some wit, some humorous situations, and a refreshing dash of real science. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10

Since she was a little girl Samantha Bazarick (played by Miranda Kent) has wanted to be a scientist. Sam has the smarts and the attitude of a big talent. And she has a whole live plan written on paper as a flow chart. Now she is going for her Ph.D. as a biologist at Harvard. Once her current experiment succeeds she will get her degree and will marry Ben (Reid Scott), her boy friend of five years. But neither plan is working out. She is unable to replicate a major discovery she made years ago. That was a chemical that will destroy only male sperm and hence block male- chromosome linked diseases while sparing female sperm. She had the drug, dubbed Y-Kill, at one time, but is unable to reproduce it. Also, she is unsure that her boyfriend is her ideal mate. She wants to follow a scientific methodology to experiment with having one-night-stands with other men so she can determine with empirical proof whether or not Ben is really her best choice of husband.

For two acts the film is a romantic comedy and meets the aspiration to be agreeable. Somewhat jarringly in the third act it turns into a thriller with a villain and a plan more serious than just romantic tactics. The humor is scattershot with some humorous dialog, some of the humor is raunchy, and some action verges on slapstick. There are character inconsistencies. Samantha's mother early on is opposed to Samantha's interest in Ben. Without any explanation in the script she changes sides and wants the marriage. While Samantha seems likeable even if a little neurotic, the men she dates are all wacky and off the wall and unbelievable caricatures. I will not go into detail about how off the wall they really are. That gets into some of the raunchy aspects of the film. When Samantha goes dating, she wears a silly-looking hat flashing electric lights in the shape of a Jewish star that her mother convinced her to wear, but she seems oblivious as to how stupid the hat looks. Speaking of electricity, for a film that is showing respect for science, when Samantha needs a little bit of electricity toward the end of the film, she gets it from a source that make no sense scientifically. (If I am wrong about that, somebody correct me.) The film is mostly light, so it is somewhat surprising that it takes some unexpected jabs at the Chinese government and at Chinese in educational programs in the United States.

Director and writer Valerie Weiss actually is a biophysicist who herself was a Ph.D. candidate from Harvard. The publicity says that some of the plot was based on Weiss's own experiences. Further this is the first film ever to be shot on Harvard's campus, though with the exception of a few laboratory scenes and maybe one or two exteriors, the film takes little advantage of its shooting location.

Running the entire gamut from charming to (arguably) offensive, the screenplay is a really mixed bag. I found myself coming away from the film generally positive, but on consideration the script really needed a few more drafts. I applaud the use of real science in films but that and Miranda Kent's charm are still not enough to overcome problems in the writing. I rate LOSNG CONTROL overall a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:


THE WALKING DEAD (Season 1) (television review by Nick Sauer):

THE WALKING DEAD is an original AMC series based on the long- running comic book written by Robert Kirkmann and illustrated by Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard that began in 2003. The series takes place in the near future where a viral agent has gotten lose that reanimates recently dead people. The first season covers the early months of the zombie apocalypse as seen through the eyes of a Georgia sheriff. THE WALKING DEAD stars Andrew Lincoln as sheriff Rick Grimes and Jon Bernthal as deputy Shane Walsh.

The setting of THE WALKING DEAD is clearly derived from the horror genre and, as a result, has probably turned a number of genre TV fans away from the series. This is unfortunate as the first season of the series is one of the strongest inaugural seasons of any genre TV show I have ever seen. While I personally have not read the comic, my wife has encouraged me to do so since she first discovered it about a year into its run, and since then, I have noticed a number of my friends are regular readers of the comic as well.

The story begins with a sheriff in a suburb of Atlanta named Rick Grimes who is shot during a far-from-routine arrest. The injury he suffers puts him into a coma in a nearby hospital. It is during this period that the world effectively ends around him. Rick wakes up in what could easily be misinterpreted as a nightmare. The hospital is abandoned, destroyed and, has one room labeled "dead inside" that is loaded with people that clearly are not, at least by society's standard use of the word, dead.

We follow Rick's journey through this new world as he finds other survivors, reunites with his family and a friend, and ultimately heads to the CDC to learn if there is any answers to the nature of the disease and/or whether there is any functional government left at all. The fact that the destruction is caused by a "Night-of- the-Living-Dead" style incident is to some extent almost secondary to the overall story line as the focus of the series is really the people and their attempts to adapt to the new world around them. This, of course, leads to conflicts as some people are more quickly able to accept the changes than others. There are also differences of opinion about what the new social order should be.

The characters in the show are very well developed and are one of the three main strengths of the first season. One character, Merle, does come across as a bit of a stereotype but, I have met enough people like him over the course of my life to say that I can't totally dismiss him as one that easily. All of the characters are very human with all suffering from their fair share of flaws, including the lead character Rick himself. The actors and actresses do an outstanding job of bringing these characters to life.

The writing for the series is its second strength. As well as the characters and acting, the story line of the six episodes is more like one large story than six individual episodes. There is a clear beginning middle and end to the tale with the final episode serving as a metaphor for not only the collapse of society but for what the future direction of humanity should be.

Finally, the production quality of the first season of THE WALKING DEAD is outstanding. I hadn't initially planned to give the season a second viewing before writing this review but, the prospect of Blu-ray on 50-inch plasma proved to be too tempting. Having watched it again, I would use the term cinematic to describe the show. The first season is really almost a theatrical movie broken into six parts as much as it is a conventional television series.

As far as weaknesses go, I can't really point to any obvious ones. As mentioned previously, Merle's character being a bit of a stereotype would be about only thing I noticed, but his character really didn't have enough screen time for me to say for sure. This show was an extremely well put together piece of television.

Given the overall combination of great writing, acting, and exceptional production values the first season of THE WALKING DEAD is must see television for any genre TV fan. [-ns]

WASTE LAND (film review by Evelyn C Leeper):

I just watched a movie that seemed very much like a lot of science fiction these days. It is called WASTE LAND, and is about Brazil's "state-of-the-art" recycling system, which has created thousands of jobs in response to the growing problems of resource shortages and lack of space for landfills. And it is actually very simple. The garbage trucks just dump everything in the Jardim Gramacho landfill, and thousands of pickers rummage through it, pulling out recyclable and re-usable materials.

Okay, it is not state-of-the-art. But it is the state of the art of the post-apocalyptic future--except that it is happening now.

The pickers have their own opinions of all this. They realize what they are doing is necessary: if they did not pick the recyclables out, there would not be enough be enough room for all the garbage.

Many of the pickers are not schooled, but this does not make them uneducated. One was explaining the (practical) differences between PET, PP, PVC, and other plastics (flinging a bottle on a pile, one says, "If it sounds like that, it's PET"). Another describes finding a copy of Machiavelli's THE PRINCE, drying it out behind his refrigerator and then reading it and finding a lot of parallels and examples in the modern world. A third set up himself in a tableau of Marat in the bathtub after seeing a copy of the famous painting. The artist that the documentary was supposedly about, Vik Muniz, then made a large-scale collage of this tableau, using trash as the medium, and sold a photograph of it at auction for US$50,000, with the proceeds going to the pickers' association. And then the pickers recycled all the materials from the collage. In fact, he did several "collage portraits" in this way.

One more observation: the best place from which to see Rio de Janeiro is standing right in front on the Christ the Redeemer statue. Why? Because that is the only point in Rio de Janeiro from which you do not have the Christ the Redeemer statue intruding on the view. It is like what Margarete says Neils in Michael Frayn's COPENHAGEN about twentieth century returning man to the center of the universe: "So this man you've put at the center of the universe--is it you or Heisenberg? ... Yes, but it makes a difference. ... If it's Heisenberg at the center of the universe, then the one bit of the universe that he can't see is Heisenberg. ... So it's no good asking him why he came to Copenhagen in 1941; he doesn't know." [-ecl]

DOWNTOWN EXPRESS (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: Sasha Resnick, a Russian immigrant and a violinist with a great talent, is soon to have a recital and is fast tracked for a career in classical music. A small developing rock band for their musical fascinates him sound and for their lead singer Ramona. Sasha is convinced that he wants to be in the band and to romance Ramona. The film stars two virtuoso musical performers, one in rock and one in classical music. The plot is minor, but the music is a major--perhaps the major--attraction. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

DOWNTOWN EXPRESS has a very simple story. It is almost more just a situation depicted on film. Once the narrative gets going it gets its trajectory in the first act. It continues on that track in the middle act and completes its flight in the last act landing just where it was aimed at the beginning. The point of the film is not to create much in the way of dramatic tension. It is to show us some moderately well drawn characters and to accompany these images with excellent music, some classical, some popular rock, and eventually some that is a melding of both musical forms.

Sasha Resnick (played by Philippe Quint) is a Russian Jewish immigrant with a huge talent for the violin. His father, Vadim Resnick (Michael Cumpsty), is doing everything within his power to channel Sasha into a career as a super-star classical musician. Sasha cooperates albeit resenting his lack of personal freedom. Attending the Juilliard School in Manhattan, he is preparing for a recital that should announce his prodigious talent to the world. Professionally he plays only great (Slavic) classical music. He plays it at home, at school, in the subways where he makes a small living playing music with his father and with his cousin as street musicians, in old age homes, and in restaurants.

But Sasha has broader interest in harmony than his father has. He likes to walk the streets of Manhattan to listen to the many kinds of music that can be heard on the streets of the city. He knows there is more to music than just the concert-hall-quality classical variety. Sasha hears the sound of a small rock band, Downtown Express, and its lead singer Ramona (Nellie McKay). He becomes obsessed with both. Leading a double life, he prepares for his recital but follows the band and Ramona. At first both reject his persistence. But Sasha remains determined.

The story leaves many loose ends that are never tied up about whether Sasha will be able to stay in the United States and what will his future be in general. What matters to director Dave Grubin and scriptwriter Kathleen Cahill, is whether he can make the transition from classical to rock.

Philippe Quint and Nellie McKay, playing performers trying to establish themselves as respectively a great classical violinist and a great popular singer, are in fact already well-established in those fields. As a violinist Quint has been nominated four times for a Grammy Award and has played to admiring audiences. Nellie McKay is a popular performer having released five critically acclaimed albums and done two shows. When DOWNTOWN EXPRESS opens in New York City at The Quad on April 20, 2012, Quint will have just released a new album of his performances and McCay will have just completed a show "Silent Spring--It's Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature." It adds to the believability that they both can perform on camera in fields in which they are already recognized virtuosos.

The story is a familiar one. Will Sasha let his father determine his career or will he decide himself what to do with his talent? The music itself is the best reason to see the film. I rate DOWNTOWN EXPRESS a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. The film opens in New York City on April 20, 2012 at The Quad.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:


CITY OF FORTUNE: HOW VENICE RULED THE SEAS by Roger Crowley (book review by Greg Frederick):

This is a review of the book titled CITY OF FORTUNE: HOW VENICE RULED THE SEAS from the author Roger Crowley. CITY OF FORTUNE is his third history book covering the interaction of Christian Europe with the Ottoman Turks and the world of Islam in the period of time from the late Middle Ages into the Renaissance. I also read and would recommend his two earlier books EMPIRES OF THE SEA: THE SIEGE OF MALTA, THE BATTLE OF LEPANTO, AND THE CONTEST FOR THE CENTER OF THE WORLD and 1453: THE HOLY WAR FOR CONSTANTINOPLE AND THE CLASH OF ISLAM AND THE WEST. All of these books help us to better understand our world of today by understanding the interplay of these cultures over hundreds of years.

But I digress. CITY OF FORTUNE essentially looks into the rise of the Venetian Empire and with it the rise of Venetian wealth from A.D. 1000 until A.D. 1500. After A.D. 1500 the Ottoman Turks dominated the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and most of the trading in that region. Also, by A.D. 1500 trading in spices and other goods from the East where being controlled by the Portuguese. By this time, the Portuguese discovered a new trade route to India by navigating around Africa. Venice is a small grouping of islands in a sheltered lagoon on the Eastern side of Italy near the Adriatic Sea. They had very little land for farming so they instead turned their attention to fishing and trading across the Mediterranean Sea. They became very good business men and women. They and a few other North Italian cities like Genoa and Pisa were the first European trading states to forge ahead in trade in an efficient and increasing modern way. Venetian merchants created handbooks to guide their people thru all facets of Eastern Mediterranean trade. The Venetians used war, bartering, gifts, and diplomacy to accomplish their goals with the Turks, the Mongols and the Sultans of Egypt. All of the countries of Europe had to deal with the Venetians if they needed their troops transported across the Mediterranean to engage in a crusade for example or to purchase Eastern goods.

The Venetians had the largest naval fleet in the late Middle Ages. The Venetians looked at all deals with the eyes of accountants to determine the cost of any venture and to estimate the return of investment for any action on their part. And they expected prompt payment for any service they provided as modern businesses do today. Long before Henry Ford, they even produced ships in an almost assembly line fashion when needed. In the 1400s they had major preassembled parts of ships sitting in warehouses and when required, craftsmen would assemble the subassemblies and then float the partially completed ship hull down a canal and men on the sides of the canal would throw sails, ropes, rigging and other materials into the ship and the men onboard would complete the assembly process.

As their domination of trade in spices and other Eastern goods increased so did their wealth. They became experts in obtaining profit thru trade. But as stated before eventually they lost this dominance to the Turks and the Portuguese.

It's another good history book from Roger Crowley. [-gf]

Last Issue (comment by Mike Glyer, extracted from FILE 770):

In FILE 770, Mike Glyer wrote:

Mark Leeper led off issue #1695 of the MT VOID with this stunning announcement:

"I am very sorry to say that after publishing the MT VOID since 1978, almost all of that time as a weekly notice, this will be our last issue. We have enjoyed writing the VOID over the years. Thank you for all the quality readership.

"As I say, this will be our last issue and will remain so for a week. On April 6 our next issue will become our last issue and the April 13 issue will become next issue. And so forth. That's the way it works.

"Hey, did you notice that April has a Friday the 13th as well as an April Fools Day?"

You bastards, I fell for this! Until the second paragraph, anyway.

I wasn't deceived by Locus Online's April 1 announcement that Margaret Atwood started a new SF magazine, or another site's fake report that all the Clarke Award judges resigned. Yet, for some reason I was perfectly ready to believe another long-lived fanzine had bit the dust. Bleepity bleep! [-mg]

THE END OF ETERNITY (letter of comment by Evelyn C. Leeper):

In response to John Hertz's comments on THE END OF ETERNITY in the 04/06/12 issue of the MT VOID, Evelyn says:

John mentioned his comments on THE END OF ETERNITY (Asimov, 1955) at In that, John says that THE END OF ETERNITY has been translated into Russian (1966), Hebrew (1979), Finnish (1987), and Spanish (2004). Add to that Estonian--we picked up a copy (titled IGAVIKU LOPP) in Tallinn in 1994. [-ecl]

Quicksand and TEEN A GO GO (letter of comment by John Purcell):

John Purcell writes:

It has been a relatively long time since I've commented on MT VOID, and there are a couple items of interest in your latest online posting. [-jp]

In response to Mark's comments on quicksand in the 04/06/12 issue of the MT VOID, John writes:

First off, thank you for setting my mind at ease about quicksand and the different varieties thereof. Quite frankly, I never considered that there was a difference between "wet" and "dry" quicksand. Like most people, my knowledge of this substance came from Hollywood, and we all know how well they distort facts for effect. Oh, well. Still, this was interesting, and I thank you for this educational tidbit. Thankfully, there aren't many areas in this part of Texas where quicksand occurs. Like you noted, wet mud is much more dangerous, and when it rains here, that is definitely a major problem. [-jp]

And in response to Mark's review of TEEN A GO GO in the 04/06/12 issue of the MT VOID, John writes:

The other item of note was your review of TEEN A GO GO. Like you, I also lived through that era, even participated in a neighborhood garage band--not in Fort Worth, Texas, but about a thousand miles north in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. It was a great time to be a teenager: the music was brash, experimental, rough, and simply fun. We weren't into alcohol or drugs - just like the film noted--but definitely got into the high of playing music and sounding like A Band. Yeah, we also had that "four person" format: rhythm, bass, lead guitars and a drummer. Some of the songs we played were "Stepping Stone", "Kicks", lots of Beatles and Stones songs, but my garage band--geez, I forget our name, it's been so long-- specialized in the Kinks. Great stuff. We were learning to not only play our instruments and listening to each other to tighten up our sound, but--more importantly--learning to develop our own voice during a time (the 1960's) when an individual's voice was seen as a right that needed to be heard. [-jp]

Hugo Award Nominations (and comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

Best Novel
    Among Others, Jo Walton
    A Dance With Dragons, George R. R. Martin
    Deadline, Mira Grant
    Embassytown, China Miéville
    Leviathan Wakes, James S. A. Corey

Best Novella
    Countdown, Mira Grant (Orbit)
    "The Ice Owl", Carolyn Ives Gilman (F&SF)
    "Kiss Me Twice", Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov's)
    "The Man Who Bridged the Mist", Kij Johnson (Asimov's)
    "The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary", Ken Liu 
        (Panverse 3)
    Silently and Very Fast, Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)

Best Novelette
    "The Copenhagen Interpretation", Paul Cornell (Asimov's)
    "Fields of Gold", Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
    "Ray of Light", Brad R. Torgersen (Analog)
    "Six Months, Three Days", Charlie Jane Anders (
    "What We Found", Geoff Ryman (F&SF)

Best Short Story
    "The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees", E. Lily Yu
    "The Homecoming", Mike Resnick (Asimov's)
    "Movement", Nancy Fulda (Asimov's)
    "The Paper Menagerie", Ken Liu (F&SF)
    "Shadow War of the Night Dragons: Book One: The Dead City: 
         Prologue", John Scalzi (

Best Related Work
    The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition, edited by 
        John Clute, David Langford, Peter Nicholls, 
        and Graham Sleight
    Jar Jar Binks Must Die...and other Observations about Science 
        Fiction Movies, Daniel M. Kimmel
    The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of 
        Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, 
        and Strange Literature, Jeff VanderMeer and S. J. Chambers
    Wicked Girls (CD), Seanan McGuire
    Writing Excuses, Season 6 (podcast series), Brandon Sanderson, 
         Dan Wells, Howard Tayler, Mary Robinette Kowal, 
         and Jordan Sanderson

Best Graphic Story
    Digger, by Ursula Vernon
    Fables Vol 15: Rose Red, by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham
    Locke & Key Volume 4: Keys To The Kingdom, written by Joe Hill, 
        illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez
    Schlock Mercenary: Force Multiplication, written and 
        illustrated by Howard Tayler, colors by Travis Walton
    The Unwritten (Volume 4): Leviathan, created by Mike Carey 
        and Peter Gross, written by Mike Carey, illustrated 
        by Peter Gross

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
    Captain America: The First Avenger
    Game of Thrones (Season 1)
    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
    Source Code

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
    Doctor Who, "The Doctor's Wife"

    "The Drink Tank's Hugo Acceptance Speech"
    Doctor Who, "The Girl Who Waited"
    Doctor Who, "A Good Man Goes to War"
    Community, "Remedial Chaos Theory"

Best Semiprozine
    Apex Magazine
    New York Review of Science Fiction

Best Fanzine
    Banana Wings, edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer
    The Drink Tank, edited by James Bacon and Christopher J Garcia
    File 770, edited by Mike Glyer
    Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, 
        et al.
    SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo

Best Fancast
    The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan & Gary K. Wolfe
    Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alex Pierce, and 
        Tansy Rayner Roberts (presenters) and Andrew Finch 
    SF Signal Podcast, John DeNardo and JP Frantz (presenters), 
        Patrick Hester (producer)
    SF Squeecast, Lynne M. Thomas, Seanan McGuire, Paul Cornell, 
        Elizabeth Bear, and Catherynne M. Valente
    StarShipSofa, Tony C. Smith

Best Editor, Long Form
    Lou Anders
    Liz Gorinsky
    Anne Lesley Groell
    Patrick Nielsen Hayden
    Betsy Wollheim

Best Editor, Short Form
    John Joseph Adams
    Neil Clarke
    Stanley Schmidt
    Jonathan Strahan
    Sheila Williams

Best Professional Artist
    Dan dos Santos
    Bob Eggleton
    Michael Komarck
    Stephan Martiniere
    John Picacio

Best Fan Artist
    Randall Munroe
    Spring Schoenhuth
    Maurine Starkey
    Steve Stiles
    Taral Wayne

Best Fan Writer
    James Bacon
    Claire Brialey
    Christopher J. Garcia
    Jim C. Hines
    Steven H Silver

The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
    Mur Lafferty
    Stina Leicht
    Karen Lord
    Brad R. Torgersen
    E. Lily Yu

1,101 valid nominating ballots were received.

Congratulations to MT VOID subscribers and contributors Mike Glyer, Dan Kimmel, and Steven Silver!

Note that Mira Grant and Seanan McGuire are the same person. This means (as someone on a mailing list noted), that there seems to be a plethora of multiple nominations:

While Fanzine/Fan Writer and fiction/Campbell are fairly common pairings, some of the others are not. This may also be due in part to adding fancasts, since that provides even more opportunity for overlap in fannish categories than the fanzine/fan writer categories did.

Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant (her pen name) and James Bacon & Chris Garcia both (all) tie Bob Eggleton (1996--related work, pro artist, and two in the one-time category of "Individual Artwork"), Mike Resnick (1995--three fiction plus one editor), and Michael Swanwick (2003--all fiction) for most Hugo nominations in a single year (four).

For those tracking such things, the 21 fiction nominations were 11 female and 10 male. It has been suggested that this is the first time any fiction category has included five women, and no white males. All of this is probably due to the changing demographic, not just of the people writing science fiction, but of the people voting. In 2001 and 2002, just 495 people sent in nominating ballots each year. By 2010, that was up to 864 people. In 2011, it was 1006 people, and in 2012, 1101 people.

There are several reasons for this increase. One, there is now the ability to nominate on-line, making it easier. Two, the nominating pool has been expanded to include members of the previous Worldcon and members of the subsequent Worldcon who have joined it by the same deadline as for the current Worldcon.

Three (and possibly the biggest factor), there is the distribution of "Hugo packets" to all those eligible to vote. (This includes supporting members of the current Worldcon, but not those who are supporting members of only the previous or future Worldcon.) These packets include all (or almost all) the fiction nominated, as well as samples of the non-fiction, art, fan work, etc., all in electronic form. When a supporting membership that costs $50 gets you all five (or more in case of ties) Hugo-nominated novels, it starts to look like a pretty good deal.

So the net result is that a lot of people who previously were not involved in nominating, and who are not necessarily going to go to the Worldcon are nominating (and voting). This demographic is probably younger than the old pool of voters (going to Worldcons costs money and time). It is also more global because of the inclusion of the past and future Worldcons (meaning that far more often non-United States members are included). [-ecl]

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

EXPEDITION TO EARTH by Arthur C. Clarke (ISBN 978-1-857-23918-8) was this month's book discussion choice. It is not easy to pick classic books for our library's discussions. Theoretically, the book should be available to people from the library system, but since they have culled the vast majority of their older science fiction, we have some difficulty. In this case, they had no copies of EXPEDITION TO EARTH, which was published in 1953, but they did have eleven copies of Clarke's COLLECTED STORIES, which contains all the stories in EXPEDITION TO EARTH.

"Second Dawn" (1951) is an interesting idea, though the inclusion of the menace seems egregious.

"'If I Forget Thee, O Earth...'" (1951) is the first of the two stories in this book that refer to Babylon, and Clarke has written at least one more ("I Remember Babylon").

"Breaking Strain" (a.k.a. "Thirty Seconds--Thirty Days") (1949) sets up a classic situation: two people in a spaceship thirty days from their destination when something goes wrong and they are left with only enough oxygen to last both of them twenty days. Even if this is the first science fiction story like this, it has been done many times before (usually with water, sometimes with food). But my problem is not the plot, it is the writing. I do not normally notice point-of-view issues, but in this case they were jarring. Clarke writes about twenty pages from Grant's point-of-view, then suddenly throws in two paragraphs that are either omniscient narrator or McNeil's point-of-view, then jumps back to Grant. At the end, there are a couple more changes of point-of-view that are not as problematic, because they occur during scene changes as well. But the earlier one is just jarring.

"History Lesson" (1949) is a story that today's young readers will probably make no sense of, because the "punch-line" ending relies on a knowledge of sixty-year-old pop culture.

"Superiority" (1951) seems oddly prescient of the war in Vietnam, in the sense that all the advanced technology seemed to cause as many problems as it solved. But there are also some lines that remind one of how much has changed since 1951, such as, "The Analyzer contained just short of a million vacuum tubes..."

In the preface to later editions, Clarke claims "Superiority" was inspired by the V2 program, but the fact that the Chief of the Research Staff was named Norden led at least one group member to suggest that the Norden bomb sight was at least a partial inspiration.

"Exile of the Eons" (1950) is a "deep time" story, with most of it taking place in the far future, part "between the fall of the Ninety-seventh Dynasty and the rise of the Fifth Galactic Empire" and part even further in the future, when there is no life--plant or animal--left on Earth. As such Clarke follows in the footsteps of H. G. Wells's THE TIME MACHINE and presages his own AGAINST THE FALL OF NIGHT (1953), later re-written as THE CITY AND THE STARS (in 1956). (This was apparently retitled as "Nemesis", and then retitled it back in future editions. Also, editions after 1998 seem to have had a preface added to them.)

Not surprisingly, "Hide and Seek" (1949) first appeared in ASTOUNDING (now ANALOG). At one time, I think I liked this sort of "physics-problem-with lots-of-equations" thing, but nowadays I am looking for more in a story.

Whatever possessed Clarke to retitle "Encounter in the Dawn" (1953) as "Expedition to Earth"? With its original title, it is clear that the last line (heck, the last word) was supposed to pack a punch. After the retitling, we *know* the ending even before we get there. (Of course, these days this sort of story is pretty obvious early on, but in 1953 it was probably still fresh.) Adding to the confusion is that "History Lesson", another story in this collection, was also at one point titled "Expedition to Earth", and the two stories are totally unrelated. The older Ballantine editions indicate that "Expedition to Earth" was originally titled as "Encounter in the Dawn". Later editions no longer mention this, but do say that "History Lesson" was also alternatively titled "Expedition to Earth"!

"Loophole" (1946) is yet another "Earthmen are so clever" story, which theme was already old when it was written.

I could not figure out what the point of "Inheritance" (1948) is. One person thought it was reminiscent of THE TWELVE MONKEYS.

As the inspiration for 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, "The Sentinel" (1951) has had enough said about it that I cannot think of anything to add. But as evidence that bad proof-reading is nothing new, the page headings on it spell it "Sentinal". (Some future editions correct this; others have Clarke's name as a page header instead of the story title.)

THE SILENT CASE: THE REAL WORLD OF IMAGINARY SPIES by David Stafford (ISBN 978-0-8203-1343-6) was written in 1991 for a primarily British audience, so it concentrates on British spy fiction (though it does cover some American, and even some Russian, works). In the introduction, Stafford says, "With the real world of espionage--like the Cold War itself--apparently on its deathbed, voices have been inevitably heard suggesting that the spy novel is doomed. For without the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain, and without the daily tensions of outwitting the secret police in Warsaw, or Prague, or some seedy provincial Communist city, what are our fictional secret agents going to do in the future?" This was not Stafford's view--he responds that there were spies before the Cold War, and there will continue to be a need for them. (He could begin the book by talking about what may be the first espionage story in literature: the two spies sent by Joshua into Jericho (as told in the second chapter of Joshua).

Stafford focuses on the changing attitudes toward espionage through the last century, the parallel changes in espionage during that time, and the connections of espionage fiction authors to actual spying. At times it seems not much more than a listing of books by specific authors, but there is enough discussion of the major authors to make this worthwhile for espionage fiction fans. [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

          Never had any mathematical conversations with anybody, 
          because there was nobody else in my field. 
                                          --Alonzo Church 

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