MT VOID 05/31/13 -- Vol. 31, No. 48, Whole Number 1756

MT VOID 05/31/13 -- Vol. 31, No. 48, Whole Number 1756

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
05/31/13 -- Vol. 31, No. 48, Whole Number 1756

Table of Contents

      Hamlet: Mark Leeper, Ophelia: 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

Changing Your Email Address (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

In the past, if you wanted to change the email address that the MT VOID was sent to you merely had to email Mark or me. Alas, Yahoogroups has changed their processes and discontinued the ability of us to add unilaterally any new addresses. As a result, you will now get an email at the new address inviting you to join the group, and you need to follow its instructions.

Or you can just send an email to from the new address.

To remove the old address, you can still mail us, or send an email to from the old address. [-ecl]

Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups (NJ):

[Note that several dates have changed.]

June 6: THE BANK JOB, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 6:30PM
June 13: JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (1959), Middletown (NJ) 
	Public Library, 5:30PM; discussion of film and the book by 
	Jules Verne after the film
June 27: THE FLOATING OPERA by John Barth, Old Bridge (NJ) Public 
	Library, 7PM
July 11: ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS, Middletown (NJ) Public 
	Library, 5:30PM; discussion of film and ROBINSON CRUSOE by 
	Daniel Defoe after the film
July 25: TRSF by the MIT Technology Review, Old Bridge (NJ) Public 
	Library, 7PM
August 22: [canceled]
September 26: THE TIME SHIPS by Stephen Baxter, Old Bridge (NJ) 
	Public Library, 7PM
October 24: THE LANGUAGE INSTINCT by Steven Pinker, Old Bridge 
	(NJ) Public Library, 7PM
	K. Dick, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
December 19: THE MOON AND SIXPENCE by W. Somerset Maugham, 
	Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM

Speculative Fiction Lectures:

July 6: Keith DeCandido, Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 12N

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:

Science Fiction Novels for Economists (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

Noah Smith lists thirteen science fiction novels dealing with economics at

  1. A DEEPNESS IN THE SKY, by Vernor Vinge
  3. THE DISPOSSESSED, by Ursula K. LeGuin
  5. RAINBOWS END, by Vernor Vinge
  6. ACCELERANDO, by Charles Stross
  7. LUCIFER'S HAMMER, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
  8. THE WINDUP GIRL, by Paolo Bacigalupi
  9. THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS, by Robert Heinlein
  10. SCHISMATRIX, by Bruce Sterling
  11. PERMUTATION CITY, by Greg Egan
  12. REAMDE, by Neal Stephenson
  13. "The Game of Thrones" series, by George R.R. Martin

Descriptions (and lots of comments can be found on the page Itself (URL above). Paul Krugman has responded at with additions: The "Foundation" Trilogy, Stross's "Merchant Princes" novels (rather than ACCELERANDO), Stephenson's THE DIAMOND AGE or ANATHEM (rather than REAMDE), Ian Banks's "Culture" novels, and Ken MacLeod's THE RESTORATION GAME. [-ecl]

So This Is the Science Fiction Future (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

I am not sure this was the future world I pictured when I was young, but I would have been impressed knowing that in the future I would have a machine on my desk that would answer random questions like "how do you hard boil an egg?" and "how do you clean vinyl siding?" But would have really excited me was to know that I would be able to tell people truthfully that I had real live dinosaurs in my back yard. [-mrl]

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

Once again I am doing monthly guide to lesser-known movies on TCM but which are still recommended. I have no connection to TCM except as an admirer of what is basically a never-ending film festival on cable. Other countries I have visited and/or heard people from are envious that we have such a cable station. Even if you are interested in only one or two percent of the films they show, that still means you will find a lot to like. As I write they are running a package of Spanish-language Laurel and Hardy films. Who knew such a thing even existed? Apparently Stan and Ollie had just a bit of Spanish language and their films do not have them speaking much. But these films constitute a genuine curio. Curiously all the films I am highlighting this month are on one day. (The times I give below are in Eastern Daylight Time.)

Willis O'Brien thought that a film that crossed genres would attract fans of either genre. He decided he wanted to make a Western with dinosaurs. It was to be called GWANGI. He did not live to see GWANGI made, but he did live to work on the script for a dinosaur western and that film hit screen while he was still alive. The film was THE BEAST OF HOLLOW MOUNTAIN (1956). Curiously he did not work on the effects or at least did not take credit for effects work. The model work is not up to O'Brien's best anyway. I will not say this is a very good film. The plot is fairly standard children's matinee stuff. The film stars Guy Madison (TV's Wild Bill Hickock) trying to put together a ranch in Mexico with a villainous local standing in his way. There are also mysterious disappearances happening in the subplot you came to see. It turns out there is a local theropod dinosaur that livestock have been running into to their detriment. We do not see the title creature until the last ten minutes of the film. This is a TCM premiere of a film that is not easy to find. [Thursday, June 27, 12:45 PM]

Later that same day THE BLACK KNIGHT (1954) tells a tale of King Arthur's Court. A blacksmith (Alan Ladd) wants to prove he can be a knight. There is a great ensemble cast of British actors: Andr‚ Morell, Harry Andrews, Anthony Bushell, Laurence Naismith, and Patrick Troughton. The villain of the piece, and he is nasty, was an unknown, who just that year was becoming a name actor. The evil Palamides is played by Peter Cushing. I think this is his first serious villain, tough he had been a prankster in A CHUMP AT OXFORD (1940). Peter Cushing completists should take note. [Thursday, June 27, 5:00 PM]

That was a King Arthur story. The other great hero of English fable is Robin Hood and still later that same day TCM will be showing what is in my opinion the best Robin Hood film, ROBIN AND MARIAN (1976). Sean Connery is Robin and Audrey Hepburn is Marian. The theme is what happens to Robin Hood when aging overtakes him. It is an adventure film, but it is also a whole lot more. It is about Robin letting go of the hero he can no longer be. There is adventure, but the accent is on drama, and director Richard Lester gives us a less action-filled and more realistic view of life in service of King Richard. [Thursday, June 27, 11:00 PM]

What film would I most recommend? Well unless you are really into completism of one form or another, the best film is ROBIN AND MARIAN. Definitely it is a must if you have not seen it.

Also you should see THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL (1952) [Wednesday, June 13, 2:30 AM]. This is an insider's look at the state of Hollywood filmmaking. Look for a tribute to Val Lewton and his horror films. Overall the best film of the month is 12 ANGRY MEN (1957), Sidney Lumet's premiere feature film, and a classic. [Monday, June 17, 4:00 AM]


SAVE THE FARM (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: The story of the South Central Farm is brought to the screen in a short documentary by Michael Kuehnert. This fourteen- acre plot of land in dilapidated South Central Los Angeles was given to the community by the city following the Rodney King riots. 350 families, mostly Latino, grew their food in the plot and supported themselves. Then the value of the land grew to outweigh the largess of the city and a struggle for possession began. Kuehnert takes us to see the farm, the people planting it, and the food it produced. And we see the people who used the land for more than 14 years finding they have to fight to hold it and resist armored police. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

SAVE THE FARM is the story of an American tragedy. Yeah, I will take sides on a political issue from a film and say what happened in South Central Los Angeles reflects very poorly on local government in Los Angeles and the country in general. On the other hand, it reflects well on the predecessors of the current government. In 1986 the City of Los Angeles bought fourteen acres of land for the purpose of building an incinerator. The seller was one Ralph Horowitz who was paid $4.8M for the property, but was given the right to buy it back. When the locals objected to having an incinerator in their neighborhood the city abandoned the plan. The land went to the L.A. Harbor Department in 1994. They had no immediate use and following the Rodney King riots they granted the Food Bank a permit for the land to be used as a community garden. 350 families used the garden to produce food and medicinal plants. With hard work the land became very productive. People could feed their families and sell their surplus at their own farmers' market.

In 2001 Ralph Horowitz decided the land was valuable after all. At first the city resisted selling the land back, but following closed-door negotiations with the city Horowitz was sold the land for $5.1M. As part of the settlement Horowitz agreed to donate 2.6 acres for a public soccer field. But there would be no gardening. The farmers brought a lawsuit to prevent the sale of the land to Horowitz, but they lost. Horowitz offered the land for sale at his current price of $16.3M. The farmers were able to raise a little over $6M, but Horowitz would not sell. The Annenberg Foundation, impressed by the good being done for the farm agreed to donate the funds necessary to buy the land, but Horowitz refused to sell saying that their offer came too late and citing anti-Jewish remarks made against him, though they appear to have come from supporters of the farm and not the farmers themselves.

On June 13, 2006, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department ordered the land to be evacuated and cleared. Forty protesters were arrested and the actions set off protests to that attracted celebrities including Alicia Silverstone, Daryl Hannah, Amy Smart, Joan Baez, Danny Glover, Martin Sheen, Laura Dern, and others. But it was to no avail. On July 5 the land was bulldozed and the crops destroyed. Wikipedia reports that as of June, 2011, the land that had been a the United States's largest urban farm remains a bulldozed vacant lot.

Director Michael Kuehnert shows us the farm that had provided food, a park, money though a farmers' market, and what was really a community center. Now it is a vacant lot. We see the struggle to hold on against the forces of profit-takers. SAVE THE FARM is a tragedy of land that was used for 14 years to feed and help people but now having been returned to being one more eyesore in a dingy part of Los Angeles. I give the film a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10. SAVE THE FARM is a succinct 31 minutes currently available as VOD and DVD from Cinema Libre. It is available for streaming from NetFlix.

Wikipedia on the South Central Farm:

Film Credits:

What others are saying:


STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN (letter of comment by Bill Higgins):

In response to Mark's review of STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS in the 05/24/13 issue of the MT VOID, Bill Higgins writes:

I recall your dissection of STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN, a film you felt had an undeservedly high reputation.

In the wake of a new "Star Trek" movie comes this review, whose conceit is "a review of the second "Star Trek" film, written as if Internet culture had existed in 1982":

All very well, but the proto-Internet did exist in 1982, so one does not have to conjecture about its reaction. Instead one can examine the reaction of ARPANET correspondents in the archive of SF-LOVERS Digest, volumes 5 and 6. Keith Lynch has placed the volumes as downloadable files on the Web:


Mark replies:

I have mellowed considerably on STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN. I think screenwriters of other films could have used ideas from STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN.

In THE ADVENTURES OF ROBN HOOD Robin and Gisbourne are having a great sword fight. Gisbourne knocks the sword from Robin's hand and disarms him. It looks like it is curtains for the good guys. But in the repartee between them just before the end Robin says he knew Gisbourne's sword-maker and knows a secret about his sword. One tap on a spring release at the end of the blade and Gisbourne's sword falls to pieces. Now Robin can kick him off the stairway. Who knew Robin Hood was so powerful? The fans would have loved it. SO COOL!

Or in (the good) CASINO ROYALE it is the big poker game with Le Chiffre. If the screenwriter had remembered the excitement of the Kobayashi Maru. Bond wins because he had arranged to have Le Chiffre given--get this--a marked deck. EXCELLENT!!!

I just never appreciated how well-written STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN really was. I could have thought most of the afternoon and not come up with a better story.

Thanks for the links. The proto-Internet did exist in 1982, but the current Internet culture did not. That keeps evolving/devolving as time goes on. [-mrl]

NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS (letter of comment by Kip Williams):

In response to Mark's review of NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS in the 05/24/13 issue of the MT VOID, Kip Williams writes:

Thanks for the review of the stage play, NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS. I will heed your warning. Shortness of life, and all that. Invest that time in watching the five-hour LES MISERABLES from the 1930s instead, maybe. Anyway, this is an insignificant nitpick: Esmeralda is not (ethnically) a gypsy. Her skin might be darker from the sun, but that's about all.

P. S. (for another day): Spoilers. I believe in them by default, and try not to ruin anything for the ones like me out there who would as soon control whether they know all the plot twists ahead of time or not. Sometimes, even pointing out that something is a spoiler can be a spoiler, so I didn't go into detail in my comment up there. I love the dizzying panoply of plot twists in HUGO. [-kw]

Mark responds:

You are talking about the 1934 LES MISERABLES produced and directed by Raymond Bernard. Up until this year I would have picked it as the best version.

You are right. I am not sure it shows up in any film version but Esmeralda is not of Gypsy birth. In this musical they make quite a point that her skin tones are different, but the camera shows no difference.

And you are right about spoilers. If you say in a review, "I will not reveal the twist ending," you are already revealing that there is a twist ending. I would say that the rules of writing film reviews are:

1) Do not diminish the reader's pleasure when seeing the film.

2) Tell the reader only the truth about the film unless in conflict with the first rule.

3) Tell the reader what you think about the film unless in conflict with the first two rules. [-mrl]

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

MY BOOKSTORE: WRITERS CELEBRATE THEIR FAVORITE PLACES TO BROWSE. READ, AND SHOP edited by Ronald Rice and Booksellers Across America (ISBN 978-1-57912-910-1) is the sort of book I expected to love. But every author loves their particular bookstore so much that they cannot manage to give a coherent description of it. I read the description of the Odyssey Bookshop (South Hadley, Massachusetts), a bookstore with which I am familiar, and could barely recognize it. I read the description of the Strand (New York) and were I not familiar with it, I could not have pictured it. (Actually, now that they remodeled, I probably am not picturing it anyway.) Most of the descriptions seem to be how wonderful their readings were, or the great signing they had there, not about the actual bookstore aspect of the bookstore. (In fact, other than the Strand, every bookstore description I read talked about readings and signings.) For example, the Odyssey is a wonderful store for what it is, but it is not that much larger than Amherst Books. It doesn't have the serendipitous atmosphere than the Old Book Store (in Northampton) has. What it has is a schedule of book readings and a lot of visibility. I am not criticizing the Odyssey, but I think the criteria used by the authors to choose their favorite bookstore are not the criteria a reader would use to choose their favorite bookstore. [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

          The reason my early books are so bad is because 
          I never had the time or the money to afford 
          constant revisions.
                                         -- Gore Vidal

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