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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
07/06/12 -- Vol. 31, No. 1, Whole Number 1709
Table of Contents
Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups (NJ)
July 12: RAY BRADBURY THEATER (selected episodes) (1985-1992), Middletown (NJ) Public Library, discussion after July 26: SCHILD'S LADDER by Greg Egan, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM August 9: WYRD SISTERS (1999), novel by Terry Pratchett, Middletown (NJ) Public Library, discussion after August 16: THE ASTONISHING HYPOTHESIS by Francis Crick, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM September 27: CYBERIAD by Stanislaw Lem, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM October 18: THE KALAHARI TYPING SCHOOL FOR MEN by Alexander McCall Smith, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM November 15: TRIGGERS by Robert J. Sawyer (tentative), Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM (note this is the *third* Thursday) December 20: DEATH OF A SALESMAN by Arthur Miller, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
Northern New Jersey events are listed at:
Higgs Quandary (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
Personally I think I am a little confused by all this talk about perhaps having identified the Higgs particle and perhaps not. This is supposed to a majorly important particle. This is what gives matter mass, and mass is one of the most important and obvious concepts in physics. Isn't this like saying, "We have a room full of chipmunks and we think we may have found the one elephant"? [-mrl]
Proof That Science Fiction is Now Mainstream(comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
I am listening to a seventy-episode "History of Rome" podcast series. The latest one I heard was the episode about Pyrrhus of Epirus and his battles with the Romans in the Third Century BCE. In the middle of his lecture, the professor says of one of the battles, "The Romans were led by Publius Decius ... who brought with him new devices to deal with the war elephants, including chariots that would circle the legs of the huge beasts with rope and bring them crashing down. It was the same tactic that had served the Rebel Alliance so well against the Imperial walkers during the battle for Hoth." And then he just kept going--no explanation, not even a change of tone.
(Later he also said of Pyrrhus, "Never had a general won so many battles for so little to show for it." He must mean "up to this point," because there is a famous exchange between Vietnamese General Giap and an American many years after the end of Vietnam War. The American said, "You know, General, we never lost a battle," and Giap replied, "That may be true but it was also totally irrelevant.")
Prophecy (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
In KING KONG Jack Driscoll most ungallantly tells Anne Darrow that women on ship cannot help being a bother. Of course today we know that to be just his prejudices coming out. The fact that twelve of the crew "met horrible death" trying to rescue her wasn't her fault. She couldn't help it. [-mrl]
Comments on THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (Part 1) (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
This is a short word of explanation about what follows. June 29 was the 92nd birthday of stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen. For most of the time I was growing up he was the premier special effects wizard of Hollywood--from the early 1950s until the coming of STAR WARS. His greatest film was probably JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, followed closely by THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD. Other greats that he animated include THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS, MYSTERIOUS ISLAND, THE VALLEY OF GWANGI, and CLASH OF THE TITANS. And he came from within fantasy fandom. From early youth he remained close friends with Forrest J. Ackerman and Ray Bradbury.
The B-Movie Podcast discusses a broad range of films that could by some stretch of the imagination be called B-Movies. Affiliated with the podcast there is a Yahoo group to discuss topics relevant to the podcast (set up by MT VOID reader Nick Sauer--thank you very much, Nick). I suggested to the Yahoo group that for Harryhausen's birthday group members would re-watch THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD and then we could have an on-line discussion of the film. Each participant should look for some details in the film that he or she never noticed before. I watched the film and took notes. This article was written from my notes on THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD.
On to what came to my mind when watching the film:
The first film I ever remember being asked my opinion of was THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD. I had seen it with two friends and my brother at a Saturday afternoon matinee. After the movie my friends' mother asked an eight-year-old me what I thought of it. I thought it over and said, yes, it was pretty good. (It was certainly a *lot* better than the usual matinee fare, which was things like Mr. Magoo films.) I guess that was my first film review. Little did I know that 54 years later it would be considered a classic.
Well, I can't say that on this viewing I noticed anything earth- shakingly new. I did notice that the translucent barrier the genie creates makes the same noise that the flying saucers of EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS did. That may well be the sewer noise. When EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS was shot the underground hallways were actually shot at a waste treatment facility. The sound coming from the sewer pipes was particularly strange and somebody decided to record it and to use it in the film. This was probably that same sound.
There is a lot in this film reminiscent of other Harryhausen films. The translucent barrier the genie creates with his cartwheels was an effect Harryhausen had used as a force field around the landed saucer in EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS. When the Cyclops wades into the sea the water around him is churned to white crests. It is a lot like the similar effect of the spaceship in the water in 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH. Of course the sword fight with the skeleton would be done again and more elaborately in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS. I suppose we could even say that there is some of the rhedosaurus in the dragon. There definitely is something of the Ymir from 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH in the second Cyclops. Specifically the armature inside the model of the Ymir was cannibalized to make the second Cyclops. I suspect that when the scripts were written for Harryhausen films they started with a list of the effects Harryhausen wanted to do and then they wrote a story to connect the effects. JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS just ends abruptly after the last special effect leaving a lot more story to tell. (Of course if they had finished the story of Jason and Medea, it would have been a very different film for a very different audience.)
Oh, and guess it finally registered with me after all these years: the title says "7TH" not "SEVENTH." I have not seen formally announced, but I see there has been another Sinbad film made, though not by Ray Harryhausen. There have been several non-Harryhausen Sinbad films made, but this one claims to be made in Harryhausen's process of Dynamation-- Harryhausen's process of stop-motion animation. Apparently this is a prequel to 7TH VOYAGE with Sinbad again rescuing Princess Parisa. (That makes this the first time that two Sinbad films are actually supposed to be in the same series. Usually we have a different actor playing what could be a different Sinbad.) The film is SINBAD: THE FIFTH VOYAGE. Shahin Sean Solimon both directs and stars; it is usually not a good sign when one person does both tasks. An early trailer actually made it look good with special effects very much in the Harryhausen style.
I do not what to give the impression that THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD is a perfect film. Next week I will continue and discuss some of the negative aspects of the film.
Trailer for SINBAD: THE FIFTH VOYAGE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwS-gYb1yQQ
Computers Are Only as Smart as Their Programmers(comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
Computers are supposed to make things easier. Sometimes things go wrong.
Dreyfus, the investment house, just revamped their site and now offers the option to receive certain communications electronically rather than by paper. They give you a list of four types of mailings and ask you to check off what you want electronically. One of the four is "Transaction Advices". Well, this generates a lot of paper, so I checked it off. But three weeks later, I am still getting paper copies. So I called Dreyfus, and after talking to someone there (and being put on hold four times during the process) it was established that I had done everything correctly, but that Dreyfus was required (by law?) to send paper copies of transaction advices.
To which my obvious question was: "If you can't send transaction advices electronically, why do you even offer me that option for me to choose?"
The person I talked to had no idea.
This is the second time this week this sort of problem has come up. The other was on Paperback Swap. Books are listed by ISBN, but if you have a book with no ISBN, the system will assign a five-digit "pseudo-ISBN". While a regular ISBN applies to all copies of that book, a pseudo-ISBN refers only to the specific copy it is listed for. So while it is meaningful to "wish for" (get in line for the next available copy) a book with a normal ISBN, it does not make sense for a book with a pseudo-ISBN. The site managers are constantly saying they people should not wish for a book with a pseudo-ISBN. To which we keep asking, "Why don't you just disallow people from doing so?" You cannot wish for a book for which you are already wishing, or one that you have offered to others, so they are clearly running some checks on wishing. Why can't they add one more? [-ecl]
Biff! Bang! Pow! A Responding Review of SOURCE CODE and CAPTAIN AMERICA (film reviews by Dale L. Skran, Jr.):
I just noticed Mark's review of the Hugo nominees for Dramatic Presentation Long Form this year, and find myself in substantial agreement with his views on the latest HARRY POTTER and GAME OF THRONES (which I also recently reviewed). However, I found myself in equally substantial disagreement with his views on SOURCE CODE and CAPTAIN AMERICA. I agree with Mark that it would take something amazing (like a comet striking the Earth!) to prevent GAME OF THRONES from winning the long form, but I think he has undervalued the other two movies, both of which are Hugo-worthy.
As it turns out, I have just recently seen SOURCE CODE on DVD for the first time, and it blew me away. It is one of the best new SF films that I have seen in years. Aside from the misleading title, on which I agree with Mark, I disagree with pretty much everything else he says about the film. VIDEO GAME is not an apt title since the main character is not in a simulation (although he thinks that he in a simulation for part of the movie), but in a series of alternate timelines. The movie asks you to believe that brain similarities on the quantum level allow Army helicopter pilot Colter Stevens to connect for an eight-minute period to one Sean Fentress, a school teacher traveling on a train to Chicago in a different timeline. Colter is not connecting to a memory or a simulation, but a complete real world, which is why he can get out of the train during some of the eight-minute periods. However, when he dies as Fentress in the alternate timeline, he reverts back to the main line as Colter because the connection is broken. This happens each time he fails to stop the bomber. I can't resist playing the game of suggesting an alternate title--I suggest CONNECTION instead of VIDEO GAME.
Now you may or may not find this believable, but I would argue that it is at least not obviously impossible, and so we have our story as Colter struggles to complete his mission, which is to find and stop the bomber who killed Fentress (and many others) before his eight minutes are up). I don't want to spoil any of the wonderful plot twists that Colter encounters as he tries over and over again to beat the bomber, and finally as he seeks to escape fate itself.
The imaginative conclusion reminds me of a good Greg Egan story-- full of quantum weirdness. I rate the movie a high +3. This is a PG-13 movie with some violence and scary scenes, but is suitable for a wide audience. However, be warned that SOURCE CODE has a very complex, fast moving plot, possibly too complex for many audience members, which also involves the audience in difficult ethical issues which some may find depressing or frightening. SOURCE CODE is the rare SF movie that actually employs of cutting-edge scientific ideas and lots of them while keeping you on the edge of your seat.
CAPTAIN AMERICA is in many ways the opposite of what Mark says it is. He states that the plot is predicable in that the hero is obviously going to always survive, and thus of little interest. Although there are surely superhero comics and movies that fit this description, CAPTAIN AMERICA is not one of them. I reject the idea that merely knowing the hero will survive prevents an interesting tale from being told. If this were so, no book about the exciting and action packed life of, say, George Washington, can be interesting since you know in advance that he dies of illness as an old man.
Setting aside that you know Steve Rogers is going to survive somehow because (a) he does so in the comic and (b) you know he will appear in the upcoming AVENGERS movie, this is one of the more realistic and tragic of the current series of Marvel superhero movies. Rogers loses his best friend (to death in combat) and his lady-love (to the sands of time). In fact, he loses his entire world. Roger's treatment by the US government is also humorously realistic--he works lifting motorcycles with girls on them as part of a stage show pumping war bonds!
The period design is, as Mark reports, excellent, but this is also just as good a superhero origin story as the IRON MAN movie. Steve Rogers was the bravest and most determined man of his time before being remade as a superhuman and the movie tells this tale well. The weakness of the movie is that two villains from the comic, notably the head of Hydra (Johnann Schmidt in the movie, Baron Strucker in the comics) and the Red Skull are conflated into a single person who is drawn in rather broad strokes, although well played by Hugo Weaving. Part of the problem with comic book Nazis is that their villainy pales beside that of the real-life Nazis, and that is certainly the case with Red Skull in CAPTAIN AMERICA. Via the lens of Magneto/Eric Lensherr X-MEN FIRST CLASS does a better job of portraying a Nazi villain in a comic book setting.
I'm rating CAPTAIN AMERICA as a high +1 movie. However, this is a combination of a +2 origin story merged with a +0 Red Skull arc. It is generally suited for a wide range of audiences, but filled with pulp style action and Nazi villainy.
Getting around to rating the Long Form nominees, I list them as:
 SOURCE CODE
 GAME OF THRONES
 HARRY POTTER
 CAPTAIN AMERICA
 No award
[not voted] HUGO (since I have not seen it)
Having said all that, I still think GAME OF THRONES is most likely to win, and it certainly a very worthy entrant. George R. R. Martin has never gotten all the accolades he deserves, and GAME OF THRONES is his masterpiece. However, SOURCE CODE is something you should check out. I've already voted it #1 in several timelines. [-dls]
Let me respond to Dale.
The premise of this film is, as Wikipedia says, "The Code allows its user to experience the last eight minutes of another compatible person's life within an alternate timeline." That was my impression also. That is what we are told is the premise. However, the writers break that rule. The main character is not experiencing the other person's life those eight minutes but is becoming that person and controlling him to have different experiences. The premise was essentially that he could go along for the ride, but instead he is able to slip into the driver's seat. It may be a better story that way, but it was not the stated premise.
Dale is wrong that I said the film as a whole was predictable. I did say the fights and chases were. Dale says, "I reject the idea that merely knowing the hero will survive prevents an interesting tale from being told." I reject it too, but that was not what I said. I didn't comment on that at all in my posting. I had said, "like all of Marvel's superhero films [CAPTAIN AMERICA] involves fights and chases whose outcomes are never either interesting or in doubt." That is all I said on the subject. Think about FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. The fights and chases have outcomes that are totally predictable. But the story has enough interest and character value to keep me involved. So what makes one chase or fight interesting and another dull?
There is a chase by boats in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Bond is outnumbered, surrounded, and losing, and it is a challenge to figure out what he can do. Then he uses his environment and a flare gun to get out of his situation in an unexpected way. The resolution of that chase is actually clever. Think how dull that chase would have been if the resolution were just that Bond's boat was the fastest. Instead the chase sets up a puzzle and then solves it.
Watch a Jackie Chan chase. He does a lot of clever problem solving along the way. He uses props in unexpected ways. This is a tradition going back to Buster Keaton whose chases were brilliant at finding unexpected features of the environment to aid him in his chases. You know the coming outcome, but it is not because the hero wins by brute force. You don't necessarily need a puzzle like this, but you need to do more than just contrive that your hero wins.
Much more screen time is spent on a much longer chase through urban streets in CAPTAIN AMERICA. Is the hero fast enough to catch his quarry? The answer is just "yes". The writer could think of nothing more clever than brute force to allow him to win. The filmmakers just ran the background of the picture fast enough to make it look like Captain America was running at that speed. He does not even seem to be pumping his legs fast enough. And I remember no puzzles for the hero or the viewer to figure out. Watching the film I was just supposed to sit there and see the images and the background moving past him quickly. As I said in my posting, "With all the chases and fights, we know who will win and just have to sit patiently while it happens." What makes a chase or fight interesting is not who is going to win, or how spectacular the visual effects are. It is how the action makes you think and/or surprises you. I still think Marvel films are weak on that aspect. You just have to just park your mind during most chases and fights. So, Dale, what made that chase in CAPTAIN AMERICA interesting or challenging for you? [-mrl]
THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS and Bach's Chaconne (letter of comment by Kip Williams):
In response to Mark's comments on THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS in the 06/29/12 issue of the MT VOID, Kip Williams writes:
Wrong Bach Chaconne! It's based on the same Bach piece for unaccompanied violin, but the version in the movie is the Brahms transcription for left hand alone. Not to be confused with Zichy's left-hand transcription, mind you. The Busoni version you linked to is a much grander version (described as sounding like a piano transcription of a full orchestra version), and it also wanders off the track from time to time as Busoni adds measures here and there. It's also popular in other arrangements. Schumann wrote a piano accompaniment for it. Segovia played it on guitar. I sometimes play it on my Concertmate 380--it's one of the biggest pieces that (with some cramping) can be made to fit in its 32 keys. [-kw]
I take it you can see how I would think this was the music that was in the film.
I listen to the link and it sounds like the melody that was in the film. You are deeper into music theory than I am. I just wanted enough of the melody so that readers will be reminded of the film if they have seen it before. It certainly does that. Am I right that it is, in fact, the same piece of music but like a different arrangement. Can you point me to an .mp3 file or video that has the correct transcription so I can pass it on to the readers? [-mrl]
And Kip responds:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP6L6gNYhfM is a performance by Sokolov of the Brahms version, which is more restrained and closer to the Bach than Busoni's famous version (which is enjoyable in a different way).
You are right; it absolutely is the melody in the film, and if you were to somehow have the pieces playing side by side, they'd mostly stay with each other, except where Busoni added some measures ("the director's cut"?). Same if you had someone else playing Bach's original alongside. (Hell, that would be interesting.) Here's Gidon Kremer playing the original version, which is one of the greatest solo violin pieces written:
Anyway, back to work. I'm watching my daughter's soccer practice while preparing updates for next month's Friends of the Library web page. Let me know if this explanation is inadequate! [-kw]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
When I read OF MEN AND MONSTERS by William Tenn (ISBN 978-0-575- 09944-9), my first thought was that this was inspired by, or a response to, the speech by the artilleryman in H. G. Wells's WAR OF THE WORLDS:
"Well, it's like this," he said. "What have we to do? We have to invent a sort of life where men can live and breed, and be sufficiently secure to bring the children up. Yes--wait a bit, and I'll make it clearer what I think ought to be done. The tame ones will go like all tame beasts; in a few generations they'll be big, beautiful, rich-blooded, stupid--rubbish! The risk is that we who keep wild will go savage--degenerate into a sort of big, savage rat.... You see, how I mean to live is underground. I've been thinking about the drains. Of course those who don't know drains think horrible things; but under this London are miles and miles-- hundreds of miles--and a few days' rain and London empty will leave them sweet and clean. The main drains are big enough and airy enough for anyone. Then there's cellars, vaults, stores, from which bolting passages may be made to the drains. And the railway tunnels and subways. Eh? You begin to see? And we form a band-- able-bodied, clean-minded men. We're not going to pick up any rubbish that drifts in. Weaklings go out again. ..."
"Those who stop obey orders. Able-bodied, clean-minded women we want also--mothers and teachers. No lackadaisical ladies--no blasted rolling eyes. We can't have any weak or silly. Life is real again, and the useless and cumbersome and mischievous have to die. They ought to die. They ought to be willing to die. It's a sort of disloyalty, after all, to live and taint the race. And they can't be happy. Moreover, dying's none so dreadful; it's the funking makes it bad. And in all those places we shall gather. Our district will be London. And we may even be able to keep a watch, and run about in the open when the Martians keep away. Play cricket, perhaps. That's how we shall save the race. Eh? It's a possible thing? But saving the race is nothing in itself. As I say, that's only being rats. It's saving our knowledge and adding to it is the thing. There men like you come in. There's books, there's models. We must make great safe places down deep, and get all the books we can; not novels and poetry swipes, but ideas, science books. That's where men like you come in. We must go to the British Museum and pick all those books through. Especially we must keep up our science--learn more. We must watch these Martians. Some of us must go as spies. When it's all working, perhaps I will. Get caught, I mean. And the great thing is, we must leave the Martians alone. We mustn't even steal. If we get in their way, we clear out. We must show them we mean no harm. Yes, I know. But they're intelligent things, and they won't hunt us down if they have all they want, and think we're just harmless vermin. ..."
"After all, it may not be so much we may have to learn before-- Just imagine this: four or five of their fighting machines suddenly starting off--Heat-Rays right and left, and not a Martian in 'em. Not a Martian in 'em, but men--men who have learned the way how. It may be in my time, even--those men. Fancy having one of them lovely things, with its Heat-Ray wide and free! Fancy having it in control! What would it matter if you smashed to smithereens at the end of the run, after a bust like that? I reckon the Martians'll open their beautiful eyes! Can't you see them, man? Can't you see them hurrying, hurrying--puffing and blowing and hooting to their other mechanical affairs? Something out of gear in every case. And swish, bang, rattle, swish! Just as they are fumbling over it, swish comes the Heat-Ray, and, behold! man has come back to his own."
It's all in the Tenn: the gigantic size of the invaders, mankind living in burrows, the use of the drains, the winnowing of the weak, the attempts to harness ancient science to help mankind and possibly defeat the invaders. It is not unusual to see a science fiction novel written in response to another (consider Robert Heinlein's STARSHIP TROOPERS, Joe Haldeman's THE FOREVER WAR, and John Scalzi's OLD MAN'S WAR), so to assume OF MEN AND MONSTERS was is not all that far-fetched.
(Other examples of responses include Donald Kingsbury's PSYCHOHISTORICAL CRISIS in response to Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" series, and several short stories in response to Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations".)
One also sees elements of the classic "generation ship" trope, particularly the idea that after a few generations the inhabitants will have imperfect knowledge of what their actual situation is. Robert A. Heinlein originated this, in the second "generation ship" story, "Universe" (written for the May 1941 ASTOUNDING, less than a year after Don Wilcox wrote the first, "The Voyage That Lasted 600 Years", AMAZING, October 1940). In OF MEN AND MONSTERS, humanity (or at least many of the tribes thereof) think that their burrows and the monsters' house (or even more specifically, the monsters' storeroom) is all there is to the universe. They have rote learning of some astronomy, but no idea what it means. (Shades of John W. Campbell's "Nightfall" as well?)
I recently watched the 1942 version of THE JUNGLE BOOK (with Sabu) and noticed a couple of details. In the book by Rudyard Kipling (ISBN 978-0-140-43282-4), Buldeo the village hunter is negative on Mowgli, calling him "the Jungle brat" and in general being dismissive of him. But in the film, he is a fanatic about Mowgli, proclaiming of him: "This is a thing of the jungle. This boy has been reared in the jungle. He has the evil eye. I warn you all-- he had the evil eye. He is a wolf; let one in and all will follow. He will bring down the jungle upon us." This is far more than Buldeo says in the book--and very similar to what the Nazis were saying about the Jews, the Roma, and others in 1942. It is possible I am reading too much into the film, but it is also true that war-time films often had a war-related message even when they were about something else entirely.
The film also relies a lot on nature and travel footage, which is often clearly of a different film stock than the footage filmed specifically for the movie. Alas, the Technicolor (on the DVD version I saw) has not aged well. At the beginning the storyteller is identified as the one wearing "the yellow turban," but when you see him, the turban looks white. Also, some reels are darker than others, meaning that people change skin tone when the reels change. (Mark came in while I was watching it and said he had seen some of it on TCM recently and it had excellent color there, so someone must have restored it recently. The DVD version I saw was on one of those "15 Films for $5" DVDs.)
The film is a bit inconsistent. Sometimes when Mowgli talks to the animals, it is in animal language that we (and the humans other than Mowgli) do not understand (wolf howls, monkey chattering, etc.), but when he talks to the cobra, they both speak English and Mahala also understands them.
For that matter, the girl and the whole sub-plot of the treasure trove at lost city were added for the film. I guess the animal stories alone--including a tiger attack on the village--were not considered exciting enough.
AFTER THE FALL BEFORE THE FALL DURING THE FALL by Nancy Kress (ISBN 978-1-616-96065-0) looked very promising: Kress is an excellent writer and this was a stand-alone novel of under 200 pages--a rare breed these days. Unfortunately, the novel was highly unsatisfactory. *SPOILERS* There are three threads interwoven, one taking place during 2013, one during 2014, and one during 2035. The characters in the post-apocalyptic 2035 have their own view of what has happened. They are frequently confused by what is going on, so the reader knows to distrust some of what they say or think, but even so the objective facts presented indicate a certain past history. However, as the earlier threads leading up to the apocalypse are revealed, they make pretty much everything the 2035 characters think and say wrong, and even call into question the objective facts, as well as leaving a *lot* of unresolved questions. For example, are there any Tesslies? If not, what are those things they are seeing, and who built all the technology they are using? And isn't it convenient that the young characters from 2035 were able to collect exactly the items they were going to need later without having any understanding of what those items were when they grabbed them because they had never seen them before (e.g., tents or bags of seeds)? The "intelligent being" that Kress seems to propose might conceivably be able to orchestrate the events of 2013 and 2014, but the technology et al of the 2035 thread has to be considered as beyond the realm of possibility without some additional explanation.
HOW TO DISAPPEAR by Frank M. Ahearn with Eileen C. Horan (ISBN 978-
1-59921-977-6) was recommended in Bruce Schneier's blog about
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