MT VOID 07/04/14 -- Vol. 33, No. 1, Whole Number 1813

MT VOID 07/04/14 -- Vol. 33, No. 1, Whole Number 1813

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
07/04/14 -- Vol. 33, No. 1, Whole Number 1813

Table of Contents

      Co-Editor: Mark Leeper, Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, Back issues at All material is copyrighted by author unless otherwise noted. All comments sent or posted will be assumed authorized for inclusion unless otherwise noted. To subscribe, send mail to To unsubscribe, send mail to

31 Essential Science Fiction Terms And Where They Came From:


GAME OF THRONES (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

Milton Bradley has packaged GAME OF THRONES. One Destiny card says, "Advance Tyrion to Westros. If there are no Targaryans, present roll one die and collect one dragon for each spot that comes up." [-mrl]

My Paris Experience (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

I was telling this story recently, and I decided to share it here. There was a subtle incident that happened to us on one of our trips that I have wondered about often.

Back in November of 1999 Evelyn and I had no special plans for the Thanksgiving weekend, so we decided to go visit Paris, having never been to France. I will not go into detail about the trip. But every traveler seems to come pack from France with a rude waiter story. At this point we had had only one rude waiter who was impatient with us looking over the menu. He also was giving some Belgian a few quick lessons in anatomy, to wit that he had only two hands. But he was the exception. For the most part the waiters were not a whole lot different from our own.

One evening we were going around looking for a good restaurant for dinner. I had noted the previous night that Le Suffren seemed to attract a lot of people, so it was probably good and probably worth the wait. The head waiter put us at a table in a row of tables. He was somewhat curt. He brought out six glasses and set three tables including ours. He put two on our table and four on an adjoining table. He picked up two and put them on a newly set table. When he went for the last two he knocked them on the floor. He picked them up off the floor, held them over the shelf with clean glasses and then took them back and set a table with them as if they were clean. I looked at the floor and it had dust and old fallen food. The waiter noticed that I had seen what he had done. And he did not like that I had seen it and seemed a little haughty as he seated us.

Our waiter was somewhat curt with us when we ordered. There was a platter in which you could order one thing from the first group, one from the second, and a dessert, all for 110 francs. Everything was in French, but I recognized the word for shrimp in the appetizers. I ordered that and lamb chops. The shrimp I got were raw, gray, and tiny. They were three quarters inch to an inch long. I was not sure how to eat them but I found I could break off the torso and the fins and split them open, eating sort of the equivalent of a tiny lobster tail. I got a pile about the size of my fist. Evelyn got the casolet. The waiter put another small table next to us and sat two African-American women next to us. In three minutes the two women and we were talking together and laughing like we were old friends.

I guess I don't know what changed the waiter's attitude toward us. Suddenly he seemed a lot friendlier and more attentive. It might have been that I was game to eat the gray shrimp. Restaurateurs hate to see people turn their nose up at food and too many Americans might have done that when they discovered the shrimp were raw. It was soon clear that there were something like 50 or 60 shrimp there, and not one would escape being eaten.

The other possibility was that he might have expected that we would ignore the two women next to us because they were black. The French tend to see Americans as bigoted against blacks. He may have thought we would be unhappy with the seating arrangements. Instead the two women and us were immediate friends. That may have been what changed the waiter's attitude.

My suspicion was that he assumed that white Americans did not like being seated with black Americans. And there probably are such Americans, but the French overestimate the amount of prejudice Americans have. One explanation might have been that he was showing off for the Afro-Americans to show the French have no such bigotry. Or he may have been pleased that we got along so well. Or he may have been pleased that we did not waste the gray shrimp. Or it may have been all in my imagination. All I can say is that his attitude was obviously different and I will probably never know why. When I think of Paris, I think of this incident. [-mrl]

"The Wheel of Time" by Robert Jordan and WARBOUND by Larry Correia (and other Hugo nominees) (book reviews by Dale L. Skran, Jr.)

The Hugo nominations for 2014 have been unusually controversial. One controversy revolves around the nomination of the entire multi-volume WHEEL OF TIME by Robert Jordan as a novel. Since all fourteen novels in this series are part of the Hugo package distributed free to Worldcon members, this almost seems like a bribe on the part of the publisher. In any case, I philosophically reject the idea that a series of novels ought to be allowed to receive a Hugo when taken as a whole. If we want to have a Hugo for "Best SF book series that concluded this year" by all means let's add a new Hugo for this purpose, but I have no plan to read WHEEL OF TIME or to vote for it.

Another controversy focuses on WARBOUND by Larry Correia. As far as I can tell, there seem to be at least two bones being picked here. One is that some friends of Corriea and Corriea himself *gasp* ran a web campaign urging his fans to join the 2014 Worldcon so that they could vote for WARBOUND. The other is that *gasp* Corriea runs a GUNSHOP and may hold CONSERVATIVE views, thus making him unworthy of a Hugo nomination. I'm not sure which of these two concerns is the silliest. Lots of fans run campaigns for their favorite books, movies, TV shows, and so on. Unless someone can show that Corriea is paying off Worldcon members to vote for his book this ought to be a non-issue. If Corriea is disqualified by having conservative views, we need to run out there and purge the shelves of Heinlein, Niven, Card, Pournelle, Schmitz, Piper, Tolkien, and so on before anyone reads them. And runs a gun shop??? Gasp, let's burn those A. E. van Vogt Isher stories fast. There also seems to be an implication that Correia is a racist, sexist pig who writes scheist.

The best way to deal with these kinds of "literary" disputes (which are really ideological in nature) is to read the book. WARBOUND is the third volume in a trilogy, the first two books being HARD MAGIC and SPELLBOUND. WARBOUND is a large book (575 pages) and covers a bit of ground. Unlike some third novels, I had no trouble picking it up and enjoying it without reading the first two books. It operates mainly as a pulp-style adventure set in an alternative past where magic works. This rich pastiche has elements of horror, fantasy, war stories, steampunk, super-hero comics, noir detective, and Lovecraftian terror. It is set in the 30s, and characters display sexual and racial attitudes typical of "enlightened" folks of that time. While such views might seem old-fashioned today, they are wholly in keeping with the background of the novel itself.

Corriea is readable, and the general scope of the story reminds me lot of Julian May's THE MANY COLORED LAND series, which I don't recall being especially controversial. This is not deathless prose, and Alastair Reynolds, Stephen Baxter, and so on can rest easy. On the other hand, WARBOUND is as well written as any ERB pulp tale, and is far from the worst novel ever nominated for the Hugo.

I expected WARBOUND to focus a lot on tactical situations with guns, rather like some of David Drake's lesser works, but was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. It is easy to see why Corriea has a fan following. The action is fast, the plot at least reasonably interesting, and the characters well rounded for the pulp style. WARBOUND is open to the criticism that it is derivative, and it is, but there comes a point where a pastiche is re-worked enough that it is a new work, and WARBOUND jumps through that hoop.

The main character is one Jake Sullivan, WWI vet, private detective, ex-con, and Massive, a magic-user with control over gravity. Although Sullivan is ostensibly the main character, the show is stolen by Faye Vierra, the Spellbound. Faye has been cursed in an earlier novel with a spell that allows her to absorb the magic of anyone she kills, or who dies in her immediate vicinity. Faye is some combination of Jean Gray, Wolverine, and Modesty Blaise. What makes Faye special is not just her mentant brain, her vampire-like ability to absorb powers, but her sheer talent for killing. She's not crazy yet, but she's getting there, and a lot of the story focuses on her efforts to avoid falling over the edge. Still, if you want some hot and heavy throw-downs, check out Faye vs Rasputin and Faye vs a top of the line Imperial Japanese battle Zepplin.

My mind is still open on what I'm voting for in the novel category. I've read NEPTUNE'S CHILDREN by Stross and it is a worthy candidate. As I stated above, I'm leaving WHEEL OF TIME blank or voting it below no award. PARASITE isn't about anything I find that interesting so I don't plan to read it. ANCILLARY JUSTICE is on my reading list and has been favorably reviewed recently in the MTVOID. However, I wouldn't turn up my nose at WARBOUND just because it is pulpy, the last book of a trilogy, or because Correia owns a gun store. [-dls]

[My understanding of the controversy regarding Correia is not that he is not worthy of a Hugo nomination because he is a conservative--heck, Poul Anderson, Jerry Pournelle, and Robert Heinlein got a fair share of those--but that *he perceives* that is the reason he is not being nominated. On the other hand, many long-time fans who are familiar with a broad range of work say the reason is that his work is not Hugo-worthy. My suggestion is for everyone who is voting to read the works and judge for themselves. As for the "racist, sexist pig" appellation, I think that's actually being applied to Vox Day, not Correia. -ecl]

THE EDGE OF TOMORROW (film review by Dale L. Skran, Jr.):

Although THE EDGE OF TOMMORROW has done decently on the world market, taking in about $318 million so far, and has earned a 90% tomato-meter rating, it has not emerged as a hit in the United States. This may be due to audience fatigue with Tom Cruise, or to a lack of interest in Emily Blunt's first major big screen outing (she stars in REVENGE on the little screen). [See postscript -mrl] Another possibility is that THE EDGE OF TOMMORROW is simply a grim film. For example, during the film the heroine is shown killing the hero dozens of times. This is a war story where everyone dies not just once, but over and over.

If any of these factors lead you to avoid THE EDGE OF TOMMORROW, that would be a major mistake. THE EDGE OF TOMMORROW is as entertaining and interesting a SF film as I've seen in a long time. On some level it is just STARSHIP TROOPERS meets GROUNDHOG DAY, but there is a lot here to enjoy. This is STARSHIP TROOPERS done right, and Heinlein would be proud. Heroism is not mocked, nor is the military parodied as a band of moronic fascists. The battle suits are plausible. In fact, this movie feels like Heinlein might have written the script on one of his better days. Cruise does a fine job as a "chickenhawk" publicity liaison who through an unusual event becomes the only person who can stem the tide of an unstoppable alien invasion. Through hundreds of deaths, Cruise becomes first a fighter, and finally a hero, although never a legend. To understand this, you need to watch the movie.

Emily Blunt does a fine job as an extremely jaded battle-suit fighter who is the one person who understands what is happening to Cruise since it has also happened to her. She seems remote and cold, but I think this is a realistic portrayal of someone who may have more combat experience than any human who has ever lived, and who has died hundreds of times. She is carrying humanities fate on her shoulders, and the load is a heavy one.

The aliens are refreshing. The motives are unknown, and perhaps unknowable. Their nature--biological or mechanical, or both--is unclear. What is clear is that the aliens bring to Earth a well-oiled conquest machine based on a technology that pretty much makes them invincible. But it does have flaws, and therein lies the tale.

Bill Paxton provides some light touches as the drill sergeant for the unit Cruise is assigned to. The special effects are wonderful to behold, and this movie is probably good to see in 3D if you can. The plot is complex, but plausible, and the aliens don't go down easy. You can question exactly how things work out in the end, but that doesn't detract from the overall movie.

I'm rating THE EDGE OF TOMMORROW a +2 on the -4 to + 4 scale. This is a must-see movie for any serious SF fan. There are no vampires, werewolves, or super-heroes. I promise. Although rated PG-13, sensitive viewers are warned that this is a violent war movie, with lots of death and crude battlefield behavior. There is zero sex. The unrelenting and repeated violence lends a grim cast to the movie that may put off some. [-dls]

[Mark notes: It should be noted that Emily Blunt is actually a familiar screen personality having been in such films as THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (2006), CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR (2007), THE GREAT BUCK HOWARD (2008), SUNSHINE CLEANING (2008), THE YOUNG VICTORIA (2009), THE WOLFMAN (2010), THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (2011), and LOOPER (2012). She was the female lead in most of these films. -mrl]

Dale replies: [1] I knew I should have wikied Blunt, [2] it is a tribute to Blunt's acting skills that I've seen both LOOPER and CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR but did not immediately recognize her, and [3] I believe that this is Emily Blunt's introduction to the "Summer Movie" big action picture environment. Her other genre films were released in the fall/winter. [-dls]

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS: CITY OF BONES (film mini-review by Dale L. Skran, Jr.):

THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS is another entrant in the "I want a new action SF franchise focused on a hot chick" sweepstakes. Every movie studio is beating the grass to find the next franchise to compete with TWILIGHT and THE HUNGER GAMES. THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS is a slick effort in this realm, but although professional in most ways, it leaves you feeling like you have watched something assembled to imitate the success of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and TWILIGHT. The action is fast, the special effects great, the acting professional, but the ideas are featherweight. In fact, most of the ideas seemed to have been ginned up by doing a riff on BUFFY. Buffy is merged with a daemon, so let's have our heroine be part angel!!! Buffy remembers being previous slayers, so let's take a page from the BOURNE IDENTITY and have our heroine not remember who she is!! And so on.

I'm rating THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS 0 on the -4 to + 4 scale. It is entertaining, but in the end just an average film. Rated PG-13, there is a lot of scary horror type scenes and fight action, but fine for teens and up. [-dls]

REDWOOD HIGHWAY (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: Gary Lundgren directs from a screenplay he co-wrote with James Twyman. Shirley Knight plays Marie, an elderly woman who objects to her granddaughter's wedding. Refusing the help of her son she sets out to walk to the wedding eighty miles away from home in only eight days. She finds the plan more difficult and dangerous than she expected and learns a little about life from her experience. Knight is a veteran actress and she makes a good showing here. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

Marie Vaughn (played by Shirley Knight) finds herself unhappy and even a bit belligerent as she approaches her 80s. All her life she has not been a whole person. She feels too much is being taken from her as she ages. Having dreams of her dead husband, Marie is haunted by visions of his image. Her home is in a half-sleeping retirement community that was chosen for her by her family and she wants all to know giving up her freedom was not her idea.

Right now she is particularly upset. Her granddaughter Naomi (Zena Gray) is marrying a drummer ten years Naomi's senior. Marie, who has been known to be a little unruly herself, is sure that this marriage is a bad idea. But nobody seems to care a lot that Marie has objections. Naomi's father, Marie's son Michael (James Le Gros) wants to drive Marie to the wedding some eighty miles away but Marie decides not to cooperate. Marie refuses to go to the wedding with her son. Then without telling anyone she decides to pack a backpack and walk the eighty miles in the three days before the wedding. This will prove to herself as much as others that she still has the strength and commitment.

The views of the title road in Oregon are majestic, not to the viewer's surprise. Her plan could have been better thought out as the road and the trail through the woods have dangers to a woman of her age. She faces foot blisters, bad weather, wild animals (some of which are human), and her own physical limitations. She thinks about her past and dreams of her deceased husband. And, of course, with any road film she meets people along the way. Some want to help her and some are less friendly. Her act of defiance teaches her as much about her family as she hoped it would teach them.

Perhaps it is unintentional and perhaps it is a major irony of the film, but by the time her travels are over other people have been imposed upon far more than if Marie had not decided to be so self-reliant. But still the trip rewarded Marie in ways she never expected.

The acting is well above par, to be expected from Knight whose film acting goes back to PICNIC (1955). Her career encompasses stage, screen, and even her first medium, opera. Tom Skerritt plays Pete, one of Marie's more rewarding discoveries. Pete makes art or perhaps furniture from burl, knotted wood growth from trees. The burl is perhaps a metaphorical reach and a comment on Marie. Otherwise the story is more or less straightforward, perhaps to a fault. In any case Marie learns to lean on Skerritt's rather placid character, a complete complement to Knight's cantankerous style.

There is not a lot to REDWOOD HIGHWAY at a scant ninety minutes of road movie, but it is worth the trip to appreciate the acting. I rate it a low +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:


DRIVE: FROM WHEELCHAIR TO RACE CAR (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: This is the story of Mike Bauer, a man addicted to high-speed vehicles. A motorcycle accident took from him the use of his legs and left him paraplegic cared for by his family. But with the help of his doctor--also a race car enthusiast--Bauer finds a way to recover his thrill of speed. By breaking this barrier Bauer seems to be a hero, but his true story is open to some interpretation. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10

Mike Bauer loves being in the driver's seat--any driver's seat--and going fast. That is what he was doing one evening when he was riding a motorcycle he rebuilt. He misjudged a corner, lost control, and crashed, severing his spine in the process. For another man this could have ended his dreams of speed forever. But Mike's injuries are all in the lower half of his body. His dreams still work fine and his dreams are of speed.

The film is a short 55 minutes. Even there, extended sequences just show the view of the track from the front of the car. For a film about a man who likes things fast, his story is slowed down getting to the point.

Bauer's doctor is Scott Falci. Falci is also the Executive Producer of this film and he also is the owner of Falci Adaptive Motorsports, for which the film could really almost be a commercial. Falci suggests he can build a handicap-equipped car that Bauer can drive. And he uses not just any car, but a 2001 Corvette C5 Stingray, a sport and racecar that most racers would envy. DRIVEN: FROM WHEELCHAIR TO RACE CAR is the story of Mike Bauer and the car his doctor built for him. And it is the story of Mike Bauer's will to speed.

If the viewer wants to be impressed by Bauer's dogged determination, that is certainly one interpretation of the film. If you want to respect him for that go right ahead. Frankly, I see this story a very different way. Bauer is a man who has such a love of motor thrills that he gambled his family's future chasing a thrill. He lost that gamble big time.

Late in the evening of his accident he was riding a motorcycle he had built, taking risks, and he hurt himself badly. Immediately his family had to dedicate their lives to just maintaining him and keeping him alive. His son had to let go of a dream to be a champion golfer. Much of what the family had to do, caring for a self-selected paraplegic are tasks neither savory nor pleasant. In addition Bauer put his wife and probably his whole family through emotional hell. He was eventually ready to kill himself and was preparing for that. He stopped his suicidal plans when his doctor gives him a chance to get back into the drivers seat for more high-speed thrills. He got a racecar that even he in his paraplegic state can drive.

And what is he contributing to the effort of creating the car? Not much that was covered in the film. Well, he is just going to drive it around a track a few times. He does not seem to have the money to fund the project himself. He does not seem to be designing or building the car. His doctor is building a car tailored to Bauer. It is being built more or less for publicity for the doctor's corporation, Falci Adaptive Motorsports. It is to show as proof of concept that race cars really can be fitted to be driven by paraplegics. How much demand is there really for race cars for the handicapped? If one really wants to help paraplegics and quadriplegics, how many more of them in the Third World could have been helped with the money that went into modifying this car? Mike Bauer was one man who wanted speed and who had a Corvette Stingray modified for his use. How many more people out there could there be who have so specific a need and the money to fund it? This film falls short of winning the viewer's sympathy for Bauer or for the entire project. I will look elsewhere for inspiration and I give this dissatisfying film a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10. DRIVEN: FROM WHEELCHAIR TO RACE CAR is available on DVD and will be on VOD platforms July 24.

Film Credits:


ANCILLARY JUSTICE (letter of comment by Jay Carter):

In response to Joe and Gwendolyn Karpierz's reviews of ANCILLARY JUSTICE in the 06/27/14 issue of the MT VOID, Jay Carter writes:

I just wanted to note that the music was one of the more interesting aspects of ANCILLARY JUSTICE. I was shocked to discover that some of the songs are historical and were not made up for the book. In an interview with the Orbit newsletter (, Ann Leckie said:

As for music that I found inspiring, there would be two different sorts. Music that I listened to while writing or plotting, and music that I included in the story itself. Of the latter, there are three real-life songs in ANCILLARY JUSTICE. Two of them are (shockingly enough) shape note songs--"Clamanda" (Sacred Harp 42) and "Bunker Hill" (Missouri Harmony 19). They're songs that, for one reason or another, I connect with these characters and events.

The third is older than these two by a couple of centuries, but it shares their military theme. It's "L'homme Arme," and it seems like every late fifteenth-century composer and their pet monkey wrote a mass based on it. I exaggerate--I don't think we have that many surviving Missas L'homme Arme by pet monkeys. But it was a popular song in its day.

You can find versions of these songs on the Interwebs and iTunes and Amazon. All this just added wonderful texture to the book. I can't wait for the second book coming out later this year. [-jc]

Vampires (and a new puzzle) (letters of comment by Peter Rubinstein and Tim Bateman):

In response to Tim Russell's puzzle on vampires in the 06/27/14 issue of the MT VOID, Peter Rubinstein writes:

Dr. No Pulse [-pr]

And in response to Mark's comments on non-Christian vampires in the same issue, Peter writes:

Or, as shown in "The Fearless Vampire Killers", it's the attitude of the vampire. A young woman tries to fend off Shagail, a Jewish Vampire, with a cross. He responds, "Oy vey, have you got the wrong vampire." [-pr]

In response to Tim's puzzle, Tim Bateman writes:

I was going to go for "Qvr naq Yrg Yvir" (in Rot-13). If one of 007's early foes was a vampire, then that foe and the name of the movie would be ???? (puzzle for MT VOID readers), but this is not the name of the foe ... or the only vampire-related version of that title possible, I think.

On that topic, and drifting away, I must say that I do like Ian Fleming's titles, particularly those which are twists on well-known phrases or sayings (On Her Majesty's Secret Service, for example). [-tmb]

In response to Mark's comments, Tim writes:

ObSF: 'The Curse of Fenric' with The Doctor played by Sylvester McCoy, IIRR. The Doctor trolls up on a small island (off the coast of Scotland, IIRR), as do some Soviet soldiers. Already occupying the island are, inter alia, a clergyman and some vampires.

The Vicar (ISTR that he's C of E, but may be mistaken) repels vampires with a cross, of course ... until he loses his faith, at which point the tactic ceases to work.

The Soviet officer has a conversation with the Doctor, which I paraphrase ... 'Are you a committed Communist?'


'No doubts?'

'No. Never.'

The officer removes the red star emblem from his uniform, waves it at the vampires, and back they cower. [-tmb]

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

My Retro Hugo columns have taken up the last few weeks, so this is a bit of a catch-up.

DAUGHTER OF TIME by Sarah Woodbury (ISBN 978-1-461-06933-1, Kindle ASIN B004SQSMV6) is the first in a series of "time travel romance" novels by Woodbury in which a modern woman goes back to the Wales of her forebears. I read it mostly because the newer ones keep showing up on lists of novels eligible for the Sidewise Award, and it was about what I expected. For example, the heroine always manages to know just enough about life in the past that she does not suffer the fate of the main character in Poul Anderson's "The Man Who Came Early". In a book like Connie Willis's DOOMSDAY BOOK, this makes sense--the heroine is a medieval scholar. Here, it's by authorial fiat. In a sense, this is the same sort of book that all those historical mystery series are, but I cannot say it will drive me to read more in the series. (I list the Kindle edition because it is available free.)

JOHN O'HARA'S HOLLYWOOD by John O'Hara (ISBN 978-0-786-71872-6) is a collection of O'Hara's stories (and essays?) set in Hollywood. Many of them seem to be vignettes with no point. Others may actually be non-fiction, but I cannot tell. The only one I would really recommend is "In a Grove".

AT THE MOLEHILLS OF MADNESS by Rhys Hughes (ISBN 978-0-953-85988-7) is a collection of Hughes's horror fiction, which is pretty gut-churning at times. The fact that it is almost unobtainable makes me wonder why I am even mentioning it but, hey, I have to fill the column somehow.

LIFE AND LISZT: RECOLLECTIONS OF A CONCERT PIANIST by Arthur Friedham (ISBN 978-0-685-20505-1) covers a lot more about Friedham than about Franz Liszt and should probably be read selectively for the Liszt sections unless you are really into the history of Arthur Friedham.

I also bought some books at the Old Bridge Friends of the Library book sale--well, more than just "some": on bag day we bought two bags totaling forty pounds. (That's about eighteen kilograms for all other countries except Myanmar and Liberia.) These cost $8, so it was 5.20 pounds sterling, or 0.13 pounds per pound. These included about a dozen books of contemporary short stories and poems from China's Foreign Languages Press, as well as a miscellany of other books. Some of these will undoubtedly be mentioned here in the future. [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

          I was born in very sorry circumstances.  
          Both of my parents were very sorry. 
                                          --Norman Wisdom 

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