MT VOID 10/03/14 -- Vol. 33, No. 14, Whole Number 1826

MT VOID 10/03/14 -- Vol. 33, No. 14, Whole Number 1826

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
10/03/14 -- Vol. 33, No. 14, Whole Number 1826

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

The Egyptian Book of the Dead (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

The Egyptian "Book of the Dead" has explanations about what happens after a person dies. I have always wondered how the authors knew what happens. How did they ever get a book like that fact-checked? Did they actually run it by anybody who was dead to verify it was correct? [-mrl]

What Is Art?:

At his forgery trial in 1947 Han van Meegeren pointed to "The Supper at Emmaus", his most famous Vermeer forgery, and said, "Yesterday, this painting was worth millions of guilders and experts and art lovers would come from all over the world and pay money to see it. Today, it is worth nothing and nobody would cross the street to see it for free. But the picture has not changed. What has?"

Disease Is Scarier Than Weapons (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

I guess my fascination with pandemics as a subject for horror dates back to 1964 and the Saturday afternoon matinee when I saw Vincent Price in THE LAST MAN ON EARTH. Now, this low-budget Italian film gave rise to a lot of nightmares. It was really the first film to show hoards of parasitic reanimated dead, or what we now call "zombies." That I just thought was a nifty horror concept. But it was not particularly scary because I knew it would not happen. But there was an idea in the film that did get to me. What is really a scary concept that was possible was the plague that as it happened would later lead to zombies. I knew there were plagues and pandemics in history, but I never actually thought about what it would really be like to be in a society hit by plague. It was seeing a loved one dying and who would die without help, but reporting the sickness was itself a death sentence. That is not a fantasy. That sort of thing really happened in history.

We think of the Plague as being a horror from the Middle Ages. There are much better ways of fighting it these days, so it is not so traumatic. But the fight goes on in modern times. There was an outbreak near New Delhi just ten months after my October 1993 visit. In Surat 300,000 people fled their homes to escape the Plague.

The last really bad pandemic was not Plague but the 1918 Influenza Epidemic that followed World War I. That was when trench warfare honed the virus to a deadly virulence. Why trench warfare? Viruses mutate very rapidly. For any virus outbreak there are more and less benign strains created by mutation of the original strain. Under normal conditions if you get a bad bug you stay home and stay put. The virus never gets much of a chance to be communicated to other people. If you just have fatigue and digestive problems you are more likely to go out and in so doing spread the virus to other people. The lighter virus is what is spread. With trench warfare it is reversed. If you get a light case of flu you stay put and fight. You get a really bad strain of flu and you get taken to the infirmary with other sick soldiers. It is the bad strains get spread around. The war killed 16 million people and the flu epidemic killed 50 million.

So since I was a teen I have had a fascination with science fiction and disease as a threat. Certainly one existential threat to the human race is disease. Alistair MacLean (using the pen name Ian Stuart) wrote the thriller THE SATAN BUG about biological warfare weapons. It was adapted into a film of the same title in 1965. As one developer in the film adaptation explains,

"If I took the flask which contains it and exposed it to the air, everyone here would be dead in three seconds. California would be a tomb in a few hours. In a week all life, and I mean all life, would cease in the United States. In two months, two months at the most, the trapper from Alaska, the peasant from the Yangtze, the Aborigine from Australia is dead. All dead, because I crushed a flask and exposed a green colored liquid to the air. Nothing, nothing can stop the Satan Bug."

That is really potent but not only scary; it is altogether plausible. Biological weapons scare me a lot more than nuclear weapons do. When it comes right down to it when you see a bright flash, hear deafening thunder, and see a mushroom cloud your second or third thought is that somebody did this to you. Shortly thereafter you are thinking of retribution. Whoever did this to you is probably worrying about that retribution. So they would probably be less than likely to hit you with nuclear weapons in the first place. A nuclear bomb is unsubtle.

On the other hand if one day you start feeling influenza symptoms you are thinking about how to get better from this chance event. You have no idea you have been hit by a weapon. That is why a biological weapon is discrete and subtle. You might well be dead without ever thinking that you might have been murdered.

Any deadly disease falls on a spectrum from "hard to weaponize" to "easy to weaponize." As time goes by they migrate toward the easy end of the spectrum. I hope they are also migrating from "hard to defend against" toward "easy to defend against." But the biological domain might very easily offer deadly and subtle weaponized diseases.

The most current strong biological threat is Ebola--now also called EVD or Ebola Virus Disease. I have been fascinated with Ebola ever since I saw a prolog about it in the television movie AND THE BAND PLAYED ON (1993). In 1976, it is documented, the disease had ripped its way through a village in Zaire and everybody including the doctor was dead. This looked like the sort of sort of scary breakout I expected from science fiction. But it had really happened somewhere off in Zaire.

As I read about the disease I can remember telling people that I thought this disease, Ebola, was probably going to be a continent hopper. The common wisdom at the time was that Ebola looked scary with its 90% fatality rate, but was not actually much of a threat. It was really too virulent to successfully take hold. It would burn itself out. It would kill people in a small area but then find itself with nobody else to infect. What made Ebola so scary was what made it less of a dangerous threat.

But there were some factors that were not seriously taken into account in those days. We are only seeing the danger now. The first scary fact is that Ebola can take as much as three weeks to incubate. For three weeks you can travel without knowing you have it. Usually it is less time, but even if just a few people have it incubating that slowly there is no telling where those people may wander in that time. So there is no telling where we could have new outbreaks occurring next. (Note: people are not contagious until they start showing symptoms.)

In the current outbreak I hear on the news that doctors and healthcare workers who take all the "right" precautions are getting infected. It is probably human error, but clearly educated doctors and healthcare workers are not 100% careful 100% of the time and are learning too late there was a chink in their armor. This happens to one worker in ten. So where are we going to get people to replace them? Most doctors are not going to want to bet their lives they are careful enough no matter how grave the need. Volunteers are clearing up a wide variety of bodily excretions all tinged with decaying blood and the smell of the dead. They wear very hot uncomfortable suits, sweating large quantities of perspiration. And they stand this one-in-ten chance of getting the disease themselves. In the third world countries where the disease is breaking out there are just not enough brave and trained workers and not the required equipment. The volunteers are real heroes and heroes are definitely not a sustainable resource.

Meanwhile I just heard that in Liberia, the country hardest hit, the number of infected doubles every two to three weeks. A stretch goal would be to get it to spread merely like wildfire instead of like a continuing explosion.

We can, however, take some cold comfort that Ebola is not airborne. You actually have to be in physical contact with bodily fluids of a victim of Ebola to be infected with the virus. Not that you can always tell when that has happened. Some diseases are spread though with a breath. We are told that there is very little probability that a mutation of Ebola will be able to travel through the air by breath. However, viruses mutate very quickly and any comfort we get that Ebola is not airborne would have to be temporary and full of doubt. If Ebola were carried on the air it is hard to imagine just how that would devastate our world. The disease would spread very quickly. There would be no way to track where it was wafted. Anyone who had been near a possible Ebola infected person could be carrying the disease. It is hard to imagine that it would not be like the Satan Bug. You might just have the trapper from Alaska, the peasant from the Yangtze, the Aborigine from Australia all dead.

We live in frightening times.

This column is dedicated to the Ebola workers and their tremendous and mostly unsung heroism. They are risking and laying down their lives for people they do not know. This fanzine all too often discusses heroes who dress in spandex and whose talent is bringing destruction to villains. What they do is far less heroic than what real people are doing today in backward parts of the world.

Some of this material came from a BBC podcast "The Why Factor: Risking Your Life for Strangers."

This might be a good time to contribute to Doctors Without Borders:


[For the idea of weaponizing diseases, see Frederik Pohl's THE COOL WAR. [-ecl]

Hero of the Day (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: The fictional Allen Bradley wants to make a documentary about Mark Chambers, once a pro-football hero now separated from his family with his life on the skids. Chambers agrees to be filmed for one day and hints that there is something unexpected that will make it a pivotal day to capture on film. Writer Christopher Allen Nelson keeps the viewer guessing where the script is going. Its destination tells the viewer a lot about Mark. Eddie Conna directs a film that questions what really constitutes heroics. Warning: there is some blood and brutality in the latter parts of the film. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

Digital video has promised to make films less expensive to produce and to enable more creative filmmakers to express fresh ideas. Filmed on video in Los Angeles but set in the streets of Pittsburgh, HERO OF THE DAY is an unassuming small independent film that tells a reasonably engaging story on what looks like it could have been done on a minimal budget with handheld cameras.

Allen Bradley (played by Paul Dietz) is an aspiring documentary filmmaker who intended to make a film about one-time football star Mark Chambers (Mo Anouti). Mark was once a football legend, but has fouled up much of his own life off the gridiron. Mark is strongly ambivalent about being filmed. One moment he is cooperative, the next he is obstinate and belligerent. Mark had strived for fame and got it through football. But he has discovered that after his exhilarating high point, his life has had to go on and perhaps has been mismanaged.

Allen wants to film Mark for one typical day. Mark agrees but keeps hinting that the day he has chosen may not be typical at all. Mark has been fighting depression after the court separated him from his wife and son. Once well paid he now needs money desperately. The big day starts prosaically enough until Mark shares that he is going to sell what must be his most prized possession. He is going to sell his championship ring to pay bills. As Allen follows Mark around there seems to be more and more evidence that Mark may be getting very desperate and perhaps a little unhinged. Mark shares that for months he has been trying to track down a man he has seen sitting in a car at a local grade school. Mark guesses that this man is a child molester. His hints about what is going to happen that day get progressively darker and take on a feeling of finality.

Christopher Allen Nelson's script based on ideas suggested by its star, Mo Anouti, keeps the viewer guessing just where the story might be going. There may be logic problems with the conclusion of the film. Director Edward Conna co-directed a zombie film previously. This is his second film entirely on his own. Most of his work has been as a stuntman and not a director. Perhaps that is why he lets one action scene late in the film to go on what seems to be too long. Producer and star Anouti is a champion body- builder-turned-actor. He does have personality on the screen. Perhaps this film will remind the viewer of Darren Aronofsky's THE WRESTLER (2008). His character, Mark, has several parallels to the Mickey Rourke character in THE WRESTLER. I rate HERO OF THE DAY a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. HERO OF THE DAY is on DVD currently and will be on VOD October 23.

Film Credits:


LonCon 3 (2014 Worldcon) (Part 5) (convention report by Dale L. Skran):

Monday, August 18th, 2014

11:00 [11 am] "Fermi Paradox Book Discussion"

A new book titled PARADOX edited by Ian Whates is coming out from Aether. I had been looking for the book as it has a new Robert Reed story, but I could not find it at the con, although it was said to be available in the dealer's room. A rather large panel of authors, including most famously Pat Cadigan, who had stories in the collection, contributed to the commentary (but not Mr. Reed). The discussion, like many that did not include any practicing scientists, was witty and entertaining, but tended to skip over the real issues involved. One panelist based his comments entirely on Kantian philosophy, which was entertaining and educational, but entirely unhelpful in terms of coming to grips with the Fermi Paradox. Still, I intend to order the book, which was reported to be available on Amazon.

12:00 [12 noon] "SF and Space Travel: pragmatism or pessimism"

This "literary" panel started from a famous Stross quote that the idea of space travel in the near term was nonsense. Moderated by Guy Consolmagno of the Vatican Observatory, and including Ben Bova, it is safe to say the panel did not agree with Stross. Guy moved the panel over a wide range of both practical and literary topics, and a generally intelligent discussion ensued, coming down on a sort of in-between position that in the very short term not much happens, and that the settlement of the solar system would certainly take centuries, but space travel was far from nonsense. The panel was reasonably balanced between scientific space advocates and fans of private space activities. Ben Bova put on an impressive performance to my eyes--I was glad to have the chance to see him perform on this panel. He has aged well, and perhaps improved with age. This was perhaps the best literary panel I saw at this con, and one of the few that did not seem to base its analysis on a "diversity-based" deconstruction of traditional SF tropes. I note in passing that there were three men and two women on the panel, but the two women (Mary Turzillo and Tsana Dolichva) were apparently too busy writing SF about Mars and doing space science to do much deconstruction.

13:39 [1:30 pm] "The World at Worldcon: Israeli SF/F"

Among the various strong points of a well populated set of panels the con committee has created a series titled "The World at Worldcon" focusing on various non-English speaking SF communities. For my final LonCon 3 panel I decided to check out what might be happening in Israel. This proved both surprising and interesting. The panel was all female. They reported that fans in Israel were overwhelmingly female, and young. Israelis are famously argumentative, and fans equally so, so I trembled at bit at what a panel of Israeli fans might be like. I was pleasantly surprised to behold a warm and friendly panel that seemed like a bunch of folks it would be fun to get to know better.

As a small country, you would not expect Israel to have a large SF/F community, and it is clearly a small one. Israel is fully connected to the worldwide film market, and English SF novels are translated in large numbers into Hebrew. However, there is no paying Hebrew SF market. Thus, SF in Israel is like the very early days, in which for the most part no one could sell anything and at least short SF only appeared in what amounts to fanzines/prozines.

From a literary point of view, realism is the dominant national trend, and SF/F is completely outside what publishers will buy. Oddly, many mainstream works are SF, including alternate histories and so on, but they are not sold as SF nor recognized as SF. There has been an award granted for the best SF/F Hebrew short story and novel for 18 years, but none of this material is available in English. There are so few writers that each writer can be said to constitute a subgenre of their own. It was reported that the limited number of fanzine/prozine editors in Israel would only buy stories with downbeat endings, which is a bit of a national characteristic of Israeli fiction in general.

It also turns out that there is a parallel Russian speaking/writing/reading SF/F community in Israel, separate to the point that a Russian-language cable SyFy channel was created but only marketed to Russian Jews in Israel. All in all, this was an interesting panel.

LonCon 3 General Comments:

LonCon 3 sported a max of over 7,000 "warm bodies" on Sunday, which would appear to reverse a long slide in Worldcon attendance. It's still nothing compared to Dragoncon or Comicon, but it is definitely an upward tick. A London Worldcon brings out all the British fans/authors/artists, so United Kingdom attendance was similar to United States attendance. Also, many continental fans, even if they are non-English-speaking, tend to come to an English Worldcon.

There is no question that LonCon 3 featured a diverse and rich program. The science track was truly excellent, and featured an entire day organized by the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) and another day on interstellar travel organized by the I4IS (Initiative for Interstellar Studies). Both sets of talks consisted of subjects and speakers not normally seen at United States Worldcons, and the topics--space settlement and interstellar travel--fit perfectly with the interests of major English writers such as Reynolds and Baxter. In addition to these luminaries Alan Bond, Director of Reaction Engines, and a Russian cosmonaut were given significant air time.

As I've reported elsewhere, overall the media panels were good, and the organizers deserve a lot of credit for providing introductions to nine SF/fantasy shows that con-goers might not be familiar with. Of course, they could have easily had panels for an additional nine shows. I never found an "academic" panel that seemed interesting, and the "literary" track suffered from a strong left-wing slant that made most discussions extremely one-sided. The same sort of left-wing cliches appeared on various panels--zombies represent the oppressed lower class, and so on.

The Excel convention center turned out to be an excellent location. I was concerned that it might be so big as to require a train to get from one end to the other, but this was not the case. Also, the hotels were much more convenient than we expected. There were lots of close-by restaurants, and tons of good fast food in the hall itself. Best of all, the Excel had so much seating that even at peak attendance you could easily find a table. There was supposed to be another convention between the Crown Plaza and the LonCon 3 space, but fortunately this convention was canceled and it was always possible to walk directly through the Excel to LonCon 3.

The main complaint with the venue is that the rooms allocated to the panel discussions were often too small. Standing/sitting on the floors in the panel rooms was *strictly* forbidden--I've never been to a con with anything like the enforcement I encountered at LonCon 3(*). I was closed out of *many* panels--more than at any worldcon I can remember. My theory is that they planned for 5,000 people and 7,000 showed up.

With regard to the Crown Plaza, we were operating on a pay more, get more theory, and looking for air conditioning and elevators, things often not found in English accommodations. The Crown Plaza, which we endorse, offered free WiFi, as did the Excel center. The only complaint I had with the room is that for some reason it is not possible to get reasonable-sized beds in England. The best you can do is two singles or one double bed. In the United States two doubles are ubiquitous, two queens are common, and the better hotels have a lot of king beds. One additional complaint--the bathroom doorstops are metal posts embedded in the floor which are *very* easy to stub your toe on or trip over. You never see anything like this in the United States--it would probably be a code violation. Finally, energy conservation is such a priority that both hotel rooms could best be described as "dimly lit" even with every lamp turned on.

One final word of warning--the Crown Plaza has a curious wake-up system where if you don't talk or press a button, the system will keep calling you until you do. It took a while for me to figure this out. Then we switched to another hotel with the *opposite* system--if you press any button they call you back in ten minutes!!! I have never seen a hotel in the United States that operates on any system but "you pick up the phone and that terminates the wakeup call." Asking a groggy guest to push buttons is going too far. [-dls]

(*) The Glasgow Worldcons, particularly the 2005 one, had similar fire safety enforcement problems. [-ecl]

DRIVE HARD (letter of comment by Evelyn C. Leeper):

In response to Mark's review of DRIVE HARD in the 09/26/14 issue of the MT VOID, Evelyn writes:

In conjunction with DRIVE HARD, I have to suggest the obvious double feature: DRIVE HARD and WALK HARD. [-ecl]

Mark responds:

I would have suggested another pairing, DRIVE HARD and HARD DRIVE. Actually the working title of DRIVE HARD was HARD DRIVE. It was probably changed to avoid confusion with the pre-existing film HARD DRIVE. [-mrl]

Hugo Awards for Dramatic Presentations (letters of comment by Paul Dormer and Kevin R.):

In response to Dale Skran's comments on the Hugo Awards for Dramatic Presentations in the 09/19/14 issue of the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:

To be fair, although ORPHAN BLACK was made by the BBC they didn't do much to publicise it in the United Kingdom, not even showing it until about six months after the North American showings. I only caught it by accident and it didn't make much of an impact at first.

You might not get a full picture of what's available on television just by looking at the listing pages in the newspapers. Because of space limitations, many newspapers don't list every channel. I just checked "The Independent" and they list just 12 channels for today, whereas my low guess of channels available would be over 100. Even the "Radio Times", a major listings magazine (originally the BBC listings magazine) only lists about 70 channels. Often, the smaller channels will have only a couple of brought-in United States shows, but many of the shows are available if you know about them. [-pd]

Kevin R. responds:

I rarely use printed TV listings. Online services from Zap2it or TVGuide give you customized listings for your zip code and cable provider, so are much more accurate and can include any and all channels. I've also lived where the cable company provided the program guide on a dedicated channel. Looking in the paper now seems quaint. [-kr]

Paul replies:

Indeed, I have satellite so many of the channels I watch are nationwide. (The BBC variations are available for all the regions on satellite.) There is an EPG available which gives you seven days listings for all the channels. (Freeview and cable do similar things.)

However, the listing magazines and pages in newspapers often mention programmes I might not otherwise have watched as there are now so many channels, keeping track of them all is impossible. [-pd]

Sir Francis Burton (letters of comment by Kevin R., Tim Bateman, and Peter Trei):

In response to Mark's comments on Sir Richard Francis Burton in the 09/26/14 issue of the MT VOID, Kevin R. writes:

I first encountered the real Richard Burton (not the actor) in science fiction. He figures prominently in Farmer's Riverworld, but I think I may have may have read a Ferdinand Feghoot short by Reginald Bretner/Grendel Briarton that had FF meeting up with Sir Richard. [-kr]

Tim Bateman writes:

I think I'd heard of him before reading the Riverworld tetralogy, but Farmer was my primary or real introduction to Burton.

I must confess to being a little surprised that Mark believed that he needed to explain him any further than some expression such as 'Richard Burton, whom you will know from Riverworld' or 'Richard Burton, not the Welsh actor but the English explorer portrayed in RIVERWORLD by Philip Jose Farmer,' possibly with a peculiar row of characters in the midst of the author's name which at some point denoted an accent. And I consider myself to be a mere or humble fringefan. [-tmb]

Peter Trei adds:

Or 'Richard Burton', the Victorian adventurer, publisher of a sexed-up version of the Arabian nights, and who visited Mecca disguised as a Moslem, among other things.

I'd heard of him long before Riverworld. [-pt]

Evelyn responds:

Tim and Peter have a much higher opinion of fans than Mark or I do, it seems. Mine was formed when a science fiction group I was in was discussing Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's INFERNO, and I said I liked the original better. One person asked me, "Oh, was there an earlier magazine publication that was different?" [-ecl]

Mark adds:

Just last Saturday I mentioned "The Towers of Hanoi" to a high school student. She asked what Hanoi was. Taken aback, I told her that it was the capital of Vietnam. She had never heard of Vietnam. That aged my self-image a decade or two. [-mrl]

ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND LIVES! (letters of comment by Tim Bateman and Keith F. Lynch):

In response to Evelyn's comments on ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND LIVES! in the 09/26/14 issue of the MT VOID, Tim Bateman writes:

Specifically on Asimov, I am really quite certain that Asimov states that Campbell came up with the Three Laws of Robotics, in an introduction to one of his books (or one of the interludes between stories, possibly).

And it's just occurred to me that Asimov came up with the idea of a science-fictionalised version of Gibbons's DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE on a tube train to see Campbell. Had his parents not migrated and he become a writer in New York City, would we have Foundation at all?

Generally on the Lebow, while it tempts me somewhat severely, I fear that it is somewhat naive to think that the First World War would not have broken out anyway without the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. It nearly happened in 1912, in which we had what remained a localised Balkan War. The Fischer theory of the origins of the war is based on the premise that Germany was looking for a war as a way of, imprimis, expanding and, secundus, defeating Russia in a war before Russia was able to defeat Germany (Opinionopedia has an article on this for starters:

Or you can Google if you remember to add an appropriate term to 'Fischer theory' to avoid results to do with economics or educational psychology)--ergo, the assassination was an excuse for Germany to declare war rather than an event which 'caused' a war.

Of course, in an 'alternate reality' the course of the war might have been radically different, probably enough to settle the issue(s) for longer than two decades so that Episode Two became unnecessary. [-tmb]

And Keith F. Lynch responds:

[Re deaths from wars versus epidemics:] People saved by antibiotics tend to be older, on average, than victims of wars, the Holocaust, and the gulags. So it's a reduction in the number of years of life lost.

Also, death by natural causes doesn't seem as horrible as death directly caused by another person. (At least to me.) Few people deplore the billions of deaths due to old age, even though those are all preventable with a sufficiently advanced technology.

[Re Asimov and the Three Laws:] Perhaps [Asimov] was in communication with Campbell from Odessa, especially given that Russia never turns Communist in that timeline. Even in our timeline, not all of Campbell's authors lived in New York. Many of them he only communicated with by mail.

[Re Tim's comments:]

Nitpick: New Yorkers don't call their system the tube.

We'll never know for sure [whether WWI would have happened anyway]. It's hard to study the causes of wars that didn't happen. But there are plenty of tense international situations that looked like war was likely, but it didn't happen. [-kfl]

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

THE WEIRD: A COMPENDIUM OF STRANGE AND DARK STORIES edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (ISBN 978-0-765-33362-9) has 110 pieces of fiction, is 1,152 pages long, and is probably "the largest single volume of fantastic fiction ever assembled" (according to Stefan Dziemianowicz in LOCUS). Even limiting the contents to the 20th and 21st centuries, the VanderMeers have an enormous range, covering all the continents (except, as always, Antarctica), and many different styles and sub-genres. This reminds me of the wonderful range that Terri Windling used to achieve in the "Year's Best Fantasy & Horror" series that she co-edited with Ellen Datlow (she did the fantasy, Datlow did the horror). This is an essential anthology for fans of "the weird", and a real bargain at the price.

(Dziemianowicz says there hasn't been as diverse an anthology of the fantastic since Alberto Manguel's BLACK WATER and BLACK WATER 2, so I'll give those a plug here as well.)

THE WHITE MOUTAINS by John Christopher (ISBN 978-1-481-41477-7) is the first of the "Tripods" trilogy, and indeed seems to have been renamed TRIPODS in the latest edition. The name "Tripods" inevitably brings to mind H. G. Wells's THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. Christopher's Tripods are not as malevolent, at least in THE WHITE MOUNTAINS--I have not read the other two volumes, THE CITY OF GOLD AND LEAD and THE POOL OF FIRE. And that is part of the problem-- the first novel has no real conclusion. Even the arrival at the mountains happens "off-screen," making it a complete anti-climax. Nowadays we would say that maybe Christopher wrote a single volume and the publisher insisted that he split it into three books, but that was not common at the time (1967). Maybe someone else can explain it. [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

          And Lucy, dear child, mind your arithmetic...  
          What would life be without arithmetic, 
          but a scene of horrors?
                                          --Syndey Smith, 1835

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