MT VOID 07/27/12 -- Vol. 31, No. 4, Whole Number 1712

MT VOID 07/27/12 -- Vol. 31, No. 4, Whole Number 1712

@@@@@ @   @ @@@@@    @     @ @@@@@@@   @       @  @@@@@ @@@@@ @@@
  @   @   @ @        @ @ @ @    @       @     @   @   @   @   @  @
  @   @@@@@ @@@@     @  @  @    @        @   @    @   @   @   @   @
  @   @   @ @        @     @    @         @ @     @   @   @   @  @
  @   @   @ @@@@@    @     @    @          @      @@@@@ @@@@@ @@@

Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
07/27/12 -- Vol. 31, No. 4, Whole Number 1712

Table of Contents

      Hansel: Mark Leeper, Gretel: 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

Comic-Con Versus Worldcon: has David Malki's thoughts on the differences between Comic-Con and Worldcon. [-ecl]

Rushbane (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

I see Rush Limbaugh has of course recognized that there is a liberal conspiracy behind having the villain of THE DARK KNIGHT RISES be Bane and that sounds like Bain and that's short for Bain Capital, the name of Mitt Romney's company that allegedly profited by sending jobs overseas.

The producers of the film point out that the character Bain dates back to 1992. That is obviously a flimsy argument, because if the liberals can go back in time and have announcements placed in Hawaiian newspapers, they can easily go back in time and set the name of the character to something politically convenient for the liberals. But Rush better hold his tongue. The liberals may just go back and arrange it that Rush was never born. (Never mind the character Bane is a liberal. That is subterfuge.) [-mrl]

My Picks for Turner Classic Movies for August (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

Well, we are already into the second half of the summer. This is my monthly guide to what is worth checking out on Turner Classic Movies. (All times below are for the Eastern Time Zone.)

As I look down their programming there is one really good mini-fest. This is a string of samurai films. The samurai film is to Japan what the Western is to the United States. There are many parallels. Both Japan in its feudal times and America in the opening of the West had the violent men who lived above the law. In America it was the gunslinger, and in Japan it was the samurai, particularly the ronin or masterless samurai. They were very much counterparts of each other, which is one reason that samurai films like SEVEN SAMURAI and YOJIMBO were so easily remade as Westerns. The samurai lifestyle, above any law but possibly that of one master, probably looked very appealing to the rule bound Japanese people.

TCM has lined up a mini-fest of samurai films Thursday, August 9. The films they are showing are not particularly rare. TCM, in fact, is showing SEVEN SAMURAI and YOJIMBO. These films are recommended if you have not seen them, but if you are at all a fan of samurai films, you probably have seen them already. But at 8 PM TCM is showing for the first time (I believe) Inagaki's "Samurai Trilogy". And that is a find.

Hiroshi Inagaki made these three films in rapid succession in 1954 to 1956. It really is one story, a biography of Musashi Miyamoto--well, more or less. Musashi is considered to be Japan's greatest swordsman. There is not much record of his early years but he lived from probably 1584 to 1645. He was born just a little too late to take much part in the great unification of Japan though he supposedly he took part in the last great battle at Sekigahara in October, 1600. Musashi, then called Takezo, did not have a lord to serve after the war. He went from being a sort of hooligan to become a superb swordsman with the help of some very tough love from a Buddhist monk. He became a superb swordsman but there were no wars. Along the way he had several famous duels, but his greatest duel was with Sasaki Kojiro. A famous epic novel, MUSASHI by Eiji Yoshikoawa, is a fictionalized story of his life up to this climactic swordfight on April 13, 1612. Hiroshi Inagaki took that novel as the basis for the three films of the "Samurai Trilogy" casting Toshiro Mifune as Musashi. On August 9 TCM will be showing:

8:00 PM Samurai I: Musashi Miyamoto (1955)
9:45 PM Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)
11:45 PM Samurai III: Duel at Ganryu Island (1956)

One warning: when you see the actual duels you have to watch closely if you want to see something. The two swordsmen spend a lot of screen time just posturing in front of each other and looking for the other to show some weakness. Just when you think they are not really serious there will be one fast sword stroke. On home video you can replay it. In Japan when you saw these films in the theater it created a lot of extra tension. You could take a quick glance at your dried squid (in Japan that was) and miss the final swipe.

Incidentally, the historical Musashi went on to write THE BOOK OF FIVE RINGS on the philosophy of the sword and the martial arts, a book still read today.

All day Friday, August 3, will be devoted to Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies from MGM. The best of the series were TARZAN, THE APE MAN (1932) showing at 8:00 PM and TARZAN AND HIS MATE (1934) at 10:00 PM. 6:45 PM will see a 2004 documentary SILVER SCREEN KING OF THE JUNGLE (2004). This is not really a recommendation.

But this is a recommendation. Another TCM premier on Saturday, August 11 is one of the great fantasy adventure films of all time--at least all my time. At 5:30 PM TCM will for the first time show JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (1959). While it is a long way from the novel Jules Verne wrote, it is by far the best film version of the story (and not just because every other film version is a lot farther from the Verne novel). This film was shot as a Pat Boone musical and luckily wiser heads prevailed. Two major songs were cut from the film and when their themes show up in the rest of the Bernard Herrmann score, nobody seems to notice them or wonder what they are doing in the film. This was the last feature film to be shot in Carlsbad Caverns because it was not very good for the natural wonders. But this is an exciting adventure film. JOURNEY has the best and luckily some of the last usage of lizards to create prehistoric monsters. And dog gone if the dimetrodons do not look a lot like real dimetrodons. The film stars Boone, of course, but also James Mason, Arlene Dahl, Diane Baker and DARK SHADOWS fans will enjoy Thayer David as the villainous Count Saknussem. [-mrl]

A Look at Jo Walton's Take on the Dramatic Presentation Hugo Redux (1988 films) (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

Last week, in response to Jo Walton's comments on the Dramatic Presentation Hugo category, I looked at the 1992 films eligible for the Hugo awarded in 1993. This week I will look at the 1988 films (award given in 1989). (The first year was pretty much chosen at random. This year was chosen because we just watched the winner, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT.)

The nominees were:

Mark's ratings (on a 0-to-10 scale) are as follows:

Walton's comment was, "Pretty good winner, but really? WILLOW? BIG?"

Okay, it was an abysmal year, at least from the final ballot. What was missing? (Again, I am working entirely from what we have.)

One major omission was LADY IN WHITE, an atmospheric ghost story which made Mark's "Top Ten of the Year" list. (That's of all films, not just science fiction and fantasy.) Another was THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM, a Ken Russell horror/fantasy film.

Another film that has to be classified as fantasy is THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. Whether or not you think the main story is fantasy, the "alternate history" sequence cannot be called anything but fantasy.

From New Zealand we had THE NAVIGATOR: A MEDIEVAL ODYSSEY, with antipodal time travelers in a wonderfully photographed film. However, its limited release pretty much ruled out its nomination.

THEY LIVE was made by John Carpenter and based on a story by Ray Nelson. It may be a bit padded out, but it is still better than many of the actual nominees.

THE VANISHING is a great Dutch psychological thriller remade into a non-so-great American film. Whether people would have considered psychological horror sufficient qualification for a Hugo is not clear, but the fact that neither PSYCHO nor THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS made the ballot in their years indicates this had no chance either.

And THE DECEIVERS had the same underlying story as STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY (both were based on the novel THE DECEIVERS by John Masters), but while the latter was marketed much more as horror by Hammer Films, I will not try to argue that THE DECEIVERS would have had any reasonable chance of making the ballot either.

So what would my list be?

Again, the year was not as bad as the actual nominees would indicate.
  • So what is your list of nominees for 1992? Should we award a Retro-Alexander to something from that year, since this is twenty years later? (The Alexanders were an award that the science fiction club at Bell Labs gave out to short stories for a couple of years (1991 and 1992 stories), when Hugo-nominated short stories first became widely available electronically.) We don't have to wait until next year to do this, because all the candidates have been out for quite a while now. [-ecl]
  • [STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY is not officially based on THE DECEIVERS. And Hammer did have a line of historical adventures. STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY is really supposed to be just that, but it does have some horror. -mrl]

    THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

    CAPSULE: Batman is pulled out of his self-imposed retirement to face two villains. Bane is a big bull of a man in a really ugly mask. The other is Catwoman, particularly attractive in her skintight suit. The film has more action, more special effects, and more mystical philosophy than THE DARK KNIGHT, but less intelligence. And as successful as Christopher Nolan has been with his "Batman" trilogy, the films do not stack up to his INCEPTION and particularly not his THE PRESTIGE. Still, this is a reasonable farewell to Nolan's "Batman" films. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

    A spoiler section follows the main body of the review.

    The Nolan brothers, Christopher and Jonathan, are erudite filmmakers who, even while working in films in mass-appeal genres, usually do it with intelligence and wit. Certainly THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is a deeper and more intelligent film than is the recent film THE AVENGERS. Unfortunately, while it is ornate, complex, long, and their most costly film to date, it is the low-point of the Nolan's recent films. While THE DARK KNIGHT had engaging moral dilemmas, THE DARK KNIGHT RISES is a much more shallow film even more than it first appears. It is full of pseudo-mystical insights and Zen-like aphorisms masquerading as wisdom. It resorts too often to clichés. It leaves the viewer with too little to chew on after giving him much too much to swallow.

    I would not presume to try here to cover much of the plot of this 164-minute, fast-moving film. On the eighth anniversary of Harvey Dent's death (shown in THE DARK KNIGHT), Bruce Wayne (played again by Christian Bale) has given his life over to brooding about the past and his lost love (also from THE DARK KNIGHT). Wayne could retire as Batman because crime has all but disappeared from Gotham after the Dent Act was passed to imprison all dangerous criminals. There are, however, two new costumed foes on the horizon. One is the terrorist leader Bane (Tom Hardy) and the other is Catwoman (Anne Hathaway). The former is a beefy villain in what looks like a Cthulhu mask, the latter is a well-proportioned woman in a skin-tight cat suit. In chasing Bane, Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is shot and spends much of the film in a hospital bed. Replacing him in working with Batman is patrolman John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), soon promoted to be a full-fledged detective.

    The Nolan brothers' story is not as carefully and tightly written as the previous scripts by the pair. Blake quickly deduces that Bruce Wayne is the super-secret identity of Batman. That's okay. By the end of the film just about everybody who is anybody in this film will know that Batman and Wayne are one and the same. It seems a pity since Wayne sacrificed so much to protect his secret in THE DARK KNIGHT. Possibly Wayne saw SPIDER MAN 2 and just decided that he could be really sloppy with all the secrecy. Once again we have Morgan Freeman playing Fox (as in "clever like a..."), the Batman equivalent of James Bond's Q. The premise is that he gives Batman weapons that Wayne Enterprises has built for the military, yet nobody in government who ever approved their development ever recognizes the Bat-vehicles and draws the connection between Wayne Enterprises and Batman. But that is yet one more potential leak of the super-secret identity. And there is some question as to whether Fox is doing Batman so much good. Bane and Batman learned fighting from the same master. Yet while Batman has his body armor and Bane seems to have mostly just bare skin they seem about evenly matched. It is clear Bane must just be the better fighter. That body armor is very useful against machine guns but only because the attackers never seem to think to aim for that light oval between Batman's nose and his chin. Lucky thing! The Nolan brothers have the usual witticisms in battle. Unlikely and inappropriate as they are, they have become a required part of superhero writing. Man fighting Catwoman: "Do those high heels make it hard to walk?" Catwoman, kicking him with her heel, "Do they?" I suppose his question is a good one; other than a hooker what woman goes into action wearing high heels? But the combination of the darkness of the new superhero films and cute comments does not really work.

    There are more problems with the script. Nobody on the streets of Gotham seems to be dressed for cold weather. It looks like maybe late spring in the city. However, when the plot calls for it, suddenly the river is iced over. But at least there are some Zen-like maxims to think about before the next violence drives them from your mind. Certainly compared to THE AVENGERS earlier this summer, this is a deeper film with a more complex plot. That is not setting the bar very high.

    Not surprisingly the cast is big and familiar. I will not bother to list the notable actors on the payroll. Tom Hardy's voice sounded like it had an extremely variable Brian Cox-like accent. That was when I could understand at all what he was saying. The sound of his voice seemed muddy even though it was obviously added with Additional Dialog Recording. His performance as chief villain is a letdown after Heath Ledger's Joker. For no obvious reason Gary Oldman seems to have been pushed aside so that Joseph Gordon-Levitt could effectively play his role. It was almost like someone decided to have less Oldman and more Gordon-Levitt. It is hard to tell which is more muddled and indistinct, Bane's voice or the political statements the film makes.

    Hans Zimmer's score did not seem to have much noticeable melody. When one considers the contribution Zimmer made to films like CRIMSON TIDE it is a pity he is doing less melody. Here his music seems mostly just to add texture (and to make it harder to understand Bane).

    THE DARK KNIGHT RISES completes Christopher Nolan's "Batman" trilogy with something of a mixed bag of virtues and faults. I have heard that Christian Bale also plans to leave the series. Expect another reboot in three or four years. In spite of many problems, Nolan's interpretation will be a hard act for any other director to follow. I rate THE DARK KNIGHT RISES a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.

    Spoiler... Spoiler... Spoiler...

    -- There is a principle in mystery films. If there is one extraneous character who seems to have no purpose in the plot, then that is your killer. It works just fine here.

    -- Remember that in the first STAR WARS, Han Solo has decided not to take part in the attack on the Deathstar? He goes off to pursue his own ends. Then at just the right moment he returns and saves the day? Tell me if you are not reminded of that in this film.

    -- Speaking of recycling of plot elements from other films, did we need yet another suspense film with a ticking time bomb that somehow has to be eliminated? Come on, Nolans.

    -- It seems either a major sequence was omitted or Batman has the ability to teleport thousands of miles and right into a city whose borders have been sealed.

    -- A nuclear detonation that near Gotham (which is obviously New York City) might not kill anyone right off, but unless there is something I am missing I believe the electromagnetic pulse from the explosion would fry all the electronics in Gotham. That would be a huge disaster nationwide. It would destroy financial records kept in the city. People on hospital life support would die. Computers and cell phones would become worthless. It would be a long time before electrical power would be returned and much longer before the country recovered, if ever. They made the point that the detonation was near enough to see. Also I believe a mushroom cloud is a dry land phenomenon. On water you would get a billowing sphere.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:


    THE INTOUCHABLES (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

    CAPSULE: From France comes a story of the relationship of two men. But like a soufflé THE INTOUCHABLES fills space but has little weight. This film was a huge success in France, but it really traces over territory made familiar by many films that came before it. A nihilistic, quadriplegic patrician gets as a caregiver a Senegalese immigrant who until that point had been drifting into a life on the streets. What at first seems like a terrible mismatch turns into a fast friendship. In the end each turns out to be just what the other needed. The team of Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano write and direct this film based on a true story. This is a film that has everything it should need for a warm, moving experience--everything but enough of the unexpected. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

    What is the plot of this film? Philippe is a rich, spoiled, and demanding quadriplegic who needs a personal caregiver. He gets Driss, a young Senegalese black man whose life seems headed for trouble. Then to their surprise the two men hit it off and become close friends. Each learns from the other. Sorry, I realize that is not much plot, but that is all there was in the film so I will say it again. Philippe is a rich, spoiled, and demanding quadriplegic who needs a personal attendant. He gets Driss, a young Senegalese black man whose life seems headed for trouble. Then to their surprise the two men hit it off and become close friends. Each learns from the other. That is all there is. It is just two people of different social rank being thrown together and enriching and learning from each other, especially the upper class person learning from the one from the lower class. They develop a strong affection for each other. You can find it in CAPTAINS'S COURAGEOUS, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, TITANIC, THE BUCKET LIST, and hundreds of others. Philippe and Driss each learn to like the other's favorite music. While they have very different taste in the fine arts, with Driss bringing common sense opinions to Philippe's interest in modern art and Driss even is able to master creating paintings following the rules of modern art.

    The only excuse for this film being so much by the book is that it is based on a true story. But it may be that life imitates cliché or at least that is how we remember life. In any case it does not hurt to know that some of what we are seeing may have happened this way. At least the cast is affable enough. Francois Cluzet, who somehow resembles Dustin Hoffman, plays Philippe, a man of great artistic intellect now imprisoned in a wheelchair, beaten by his loneliness and giving in to bitterness. Driss, played by Omar Sy, is an out-of-work Senegalese immigrant. He is a failure even at crime and his inability to live even with his own family is destroying his life. Driss interviews for the job to take care of Philippe expecting to fail only to prove he has nominally been looking for work. But Philippe knows he needs someone who is not going to cater to him.

    The two actors together have some undeniable screen chemistry. Driss develops a real tenderness and interest for his employer and frequently goes beyond even what is wanted to improve Philippe's social life. Driss knows that Philippe now denies himself the hang-gliding that he enjoyed before the accident that put him in the wheelchair. He knows he needs to re-ignite Philippe's hunger for living life. In one sequence Driss is taking Philippe for a joy ride by car that brings out several police cars to stop him.

    This film was a huge success in France, and it seems to be doing very well in the United States. There is talk of it being remade in English. That will take a good writer not to make it obvious how little there really is to the plot. Perhaps THE INTOUCHABLES is more enjoyable than American audiences are expecting from a foreign-language film. But there still is not a lot that has not been done before. I rate THE INTOUCHABLES a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:


    Barbra Streisand, Cels, and THE LONG GOODBYE (letter of comment by Kip Williams):

    In response to Mark's comments on Barbra Streisand in the 07/13/12 issue of the MT VOID, Kip Williams writes:

    Sympathy on Barbra Streisand, and in particular, her rendition (extraordinary rendition, which leads to torture) of "Tonight". It was listening to the song that solidified my present opinion of the artist. I can plainly hear that she has a marvelous voice, and incredible control over it. Her performance of this number always sounded to me like someone strangling a goose. "Tonight! Too-hoo-hoo-HOO-NIIIIGHT!!" And this is a woman who can sing Chopin's "Minute" Waltz, with lyrics, clearly, up to speed, with excellent diction. Alas, her mutant powers do not include what I call "taste." (Full disclosure: I have her 'classical' album and enjoy it. I give heavy props to Claus Ogerman for reining her in and calming her down.) [-kw]

    In response to Mark's comments on Wah Ming Chang in the 07/20/12 issue of the MT VOID, Kip writes:

    First, a nitpick: It's "cel," not "cell." Animators do not draw on cells, though they may draw in them, or use them to power their radio. For that matter, animators draw on paper, after which other artists trained in following their lines transfer the work to cels. Or a xerographic process is used to transfer the pencil art directly to a transparency which is then painted and so on. It could have been a typo, but too many people make that mistake. Hsssss. [-kw]

    Mark replies:

    It most definitely was not a typo. It was a mistake. [-mrl]

    In response to Evelyn's comments on THE LONG GOODBYE in the 07/20/12 issue of the MT VOID, Kip writes:

    I enjoyed the look at Chandler's THE LONG GOODBYE. In many ways, it's the second best thing he wrote, with the first best being the long short story "Red Wind", which has a legendary opening and a quiet powerhouse ending I would not spoil for a pony. THE LONG GOODBYE is archetypal Marlowe at its saddest and proudest, and Altman's crappy adaptation of it really deserves to be plowed under and forgotten. Elliot Gould is not Marlowe, and sitting in a puddle feeling sorry for yourself is nothing he did in any book or short story. It's a toss-up whether the betrayal of source material reached the peak of its art in this, or whether Disney's HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME was actually worse (and I don't mean the singing gargoyles--I mean the way Quasimodo and Phoebus, in particular, are painstakingly reversed in every way from how Hugo very carefully wrote them). [-kw]

    Streaming the Restored METROPOLIS and the Colophon (letter of comment by Tim Bateman):

    In response to Mark's title "Streaming the Restored METROPOLIS" in the 07/20/12 issue of the MT VOID, Tim Bateman writes:

    Did anyone else read this article title and immediately think "wound the autumnal city"? [-tb]

    And in response to the colophon in the 07/20/12 issue, Tim writes:

    > Beauty: Mark Leeper,
    > The Beast: Evelyn Leeper,

    "Surely... no, I'd better not." [-tb]

    Mark replies:

    I had nothing to do with lining up that names that way and I did not catch the obvious mistake. I will admit it. Of the two of us I am the beast. Harumph. [-mrl]

    Evelyn adds:

    Mark sent me a list of pairs; I just transcribed them as sent. Harumph. [-ecl]

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

    A WEEK AT THE AIRPORT: A HEATHROW DIARY by Alain de Botton (ISBN 978-0-307-73967-4) was written when Heathrow Airport asked him to become a writer in residence for a week. It is good to see people caring about the arts, but I am not sure that an airport needs a writer in residence.

    However, de Botton does write a very poetic account of the airport, as in this extract:

    "As David lifted a suitcase on the conveyor belt, he came to an unexpected and troubling realization: that he was bringing *himself* with him on his holiday. Whatever the qualities of the Dimitra Residence, they were going to be critically undermined by the fact *he* would be in the villa as well. He had booked the trip in the expectation of being able to enjoy his children, his wife, the Mediterranean, some spanokopita and the Attic skies, but it was evident that he would be forced to apprehend all of these through the distorting filter of his own being, with its debilitating levels of fear, anxiety and wayward desire. There was, of course, no official recourse available to him, whether for assistance or complaint. British Airways did, it was true, maintain a desk manned by some unusually personable employees and adorned with the message: 'We are here to help.' But the staff shied away from existential issues, seeming to restrict their insights to matters relating to the transit time to adjacent satellites and the location of the nearest toilets."

    In THE LA REVIEW OF BOOKS, Dwight Allen wrote an article, "My Stephen King Problem: A Snob's Notes", in which he says:

    "King coddles his readers, all nice, good, ordinary, likeable people (just like the heroes of his books), though this doesn't completely explain why these readers are so tolerant of the bloat in these novels, why they will let King go on for a couple hundred pages about some matter that has no vital connection to the subject of the book."

    Oh, yes, God forbid we should have bloat about some matter that has no vital connection to the subject of the book, such as the sewers of Paris, or the Battle of Waterloo, or the taxonomy of whales.

    The science fiction movie/book group picked three Ray Bradbury stories and the corresponding episodes of the television series "Ray Bradbury Theater".

    "Mars Is Heaven!" was published in 1948 (the copyright is by Love Romances Publishing, which makes it sound like it appeared in some romance magazine, but LRP also published PLANET STORIES). It is considered a classic, but I find it very unconvincing, even with the explanation of telepathy and hypnosis. And why do the Martians have an Earth-style funeral for the astronauts when there is no one else to see it or care?.

    The story also has a major goof, when Hinkston says, "That's why the town seems so old-fashioned. I don't see a thing, myself, that is older than the year 1927, do you?" He clearly means *newer* than 1927.

    The "Ray Bradbury Theater" episode is problematic, because the time period of the "hometown" has to be shifted forward. The story places its hometown in around 1927; assuming a Mars landing date of 1960, the astronauts would be in their forties. But a television show from around 1990 has to assume a landing date of at least 2000, so if the astronauts are the same age, their hometowns would have to date to 1967. But 1967 was not the idyllic period that 1927 was: the Cold War, civil rights, and the Vietnam War, along with technological advances, made the Bradburian town an anachronism.

    "A Sound of Thunder" was published in 1952 in COLLIER'S. For those unfamiliar with it, COLLIER'S was a magazine with the literary stature perhaps not quite of that of THE NEW YORKER or THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY, but more respected than the pulps, and evidence that Bradbury's science fiction had achieved respectability in the same way that Michael Chabon's has today. (Mark compared it to the SATURDAY EVENING POST, but since that magazine is also defunct, as a comparison it is not very useful.) This is undoubtedly one of Bradbury's best-known stories, even among people who can remember neither the title nor the author, so I am not going to spend time recounting the plot However, in a recent discussion on "Writing Excuses" about time travel someone claimed that the change put a Communist into office, but I had always read it as a Fascist, probably because he was named Deutscher. Certainly the description of him as "a militarist, anti-Christ, anti-human, anti-intellectual" allows for either interpretation. (It is telling that it seemed perfectly reasonable to write that Deutscher was "anti-Christ" (meaning anti-Christian, not *the* Anti-Christ), implicitly assuming that there were not many non-Christians in the population. If the sentence were being written today, it would probably be written as "anti-God", although one person in the discussion group pointed out that today being pro-Christ would be considered the more reactionary position.)

    In the "Ray Bradbury Theater" episode, written by Bradbury, "Tyme Sefari"'s employees are all dressed in uniforms with styling and color reminiscent of Nazi Germany, complete with armbands. This indicates to me that Bradbury probably saw Deutscher as Fascist rather than Communist.

    Oh, and the term "butterfly effect" in chaos theory was almost definitely inspired by the Bradbury story. When Edward Lorenz first presented the theory in 1963 he used the flap of a seagull's wings as his example, but colleagues suggested changing it to a butterfly's wings. Surely some of them had read the Bradbury (and of course, it emphasizes just how little variation of initial conditions is needed).

    "The Murderer" was published in 1953 in THE GOLDEN APPLES OF THE SUN. This story seems more in the style of Frederik Pohl, C. M. Kornbluth, or even Philip K. Dick than Bradbury. It also may be the most topical of the three stories. While the music pollution Bradbury predicts has been somewhat ameliorated by the ubiquitous use of earphones, it is still the case that every restaurant, supermarket line, and waiting room has a television and/or a sound system going. (Yes, I have been in restaurants that have both: televisions with the sound turned off and music over the sound system.) And when it comes to cell phones, Bradbury is spot on. Bradbury predicted that they would fill the world with sound pollution; they have. Bradbury predicted that they would create a situation where people would freak out if someone was unreachable for more than five minutes; they have done that too.

    The "Ray Bradbury Theater" captured all this, making dramatic use of the technological advances in the intervening forty years that made Bradbury's story even more inevitable. Special credit must go to Stuart French and his sound team for the sound work for this episode. [-ecl]

                                              Mark Leeper
    Quote of the Week:
              This, however, is a passing nightmare; in time the 
              earth will become again incapable of supporting life, 
              and peace will return.
                                              --Bertrand Russell

    Go to our home page