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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
04/17/15 -- Vol. 33, No. 42, Whole Number 1854
Table of Contents
Hugo Nominations Changes/Corrections:
Sasquan has issued the following five changes/corrections to the Hugo ballot this year [notes in brackets by ecl]:
In the "Best Novel" category, Marko Kloos has withdrawn his novel LINES OF DEPARTURE. It has been replaced by THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu).
In the "Best Novelette" category, "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus" by John C. Wright (THE BOOK OF FEASTS & SEASONS, Castalia House) was originally published online in 2013 prior to its appearance in that collection. It has been replaced by "The Day the World Turned Upside Down" by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014).
In the "Best Short Story" category, Annie Bellet has withdrawn her short story "Goodnight Stars". It has been replaced by "A Single Samurai" by Steven Diamond (The Baen Big Book of Monsters, Baen Books).
In the "Best Professional Artist" category, Jon Eno was replaced by Kirk DouPonce. [Eno had no eligible work in 2014.]
[Sasquan] also misnamed "Adventures in SciFi Publishing" [in "Best Fancast"].
New Hugo Categories:
There is now a Twitter hashtag "#newHugocategories":
A couple of my favorites:
Best New Hugo Category
Acceleration (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
When I was a kid and someone would say "the day will come when ..." and they followed it with an accomplishment like having a man walk on the moon, they would have the prediction fulfilled in the thirty or forty years. What happened? Now when someone says the day will come when ..." what they mean is sometime maybe late August. [-mrl]
Baird Searles Discovers Home Video (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
I used to be an avid reader of the film review column of the late Baird Searles in THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION (a.k.a. F&SF). His taste in films seemed fairly well aligned with mine. More than once I would see a film I liked and for years never find someone else who had seen the film, and then years later see Baird Searles recommending it in his column. One such film was CARNIVAL OF SOULS.
But that is a digression. I am reading his column in the September 1979 issue of F&SF. He is reviewing the film SUPERMAN THE MOVIE. This is a column like I have never seen him write at any other time. Other than an implication that the film has good special effects, he has nothing good to say about the film (which he mis- titles simply SUPERMAN). He says the plot is primitive stuff. But he writes only one paragraph about the film itself. He is clearly distracted by what he really wants to talk about.
What he wants to talk about is a new (in 1979) technical advance. It is a device that he sees will profoundly impact the future, for everyone but perhaps especially for science fiction fans. The device is the VCR. It is the videocassette recorder.
In the 21st century the world is in the process of phasing out VCRs, but I thought it was of some interest to see the old VCRs from the point of view of a science fiction fan from the long-ago time of thirty-five years ago. I was fascinated by his exaltation at the use of this wonderful device and at the same time marveling at how much has changed in the intervening years. Science fiction fans who until now could collect little other than books will soon be COLLECTING FILMS! What a concept! He sees this in a scenario like this: a fan will be watching TV and there is nothing good on. Then the fan thinks of his VCR. Instead of watching bad new television he could be watching a good old movie that he has on tape. Somehow that does not seem like a common scenario these days.
The 1979 Searles says that you can buy pre-recorded movies on cassette or you can buy a videotape and record off television. A tape will cost you less than $20. [The going price today is under $3 if you are still using VHS tapes.] Films pre-recorded on tape will cost you between $45 and $75 with a pornographic tape costing about $100.
If you watch a program on a pre-recorded VHS tape the picture quality is always "superb." [These days watching a VHS tape gives people headaches. Searles had never seen high-definition TV.] The problem is that there is still too little selection at stores selling pre-recorded movies on VHS. There are only about five good science fiction films available on tape and Searles has bought only one. He now can watch THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD any time he wants.
If you want to record something off television, you are at the mercy of your television reception. It is better if you have cable, but Searles does not have cable. He mentions that one of these $20 tapes will store four hours--not really long enough to get two good late night movies unless you sit there and edit out commercials as they are broadcast. That is not the social event that Searles craves. And the good movies all seem to run at 2 AM. So Searles usually records at 2 AM and does not watch while he is recording. He later watches the film commercials and all.
And with all the effort it requires to record a movie, will you REALLY ever want to see the film again a year or more in the future? Some films it may be better to watch just once or twice and then wait for them to be rescheduled by the TV stations, random though that process is.
I think that Searles did not quite understand the user interface to his VCR. He says that one problem with putting the VCR on timer recording is that if you want to record a 2 AM movie, the TV has to be on and might wake you up in the middle of the night. To the best of my knowledge VCRs never needed the TV to be on. Searles lost sleep unnecessarily.
Searles then turns philosophical and asks what will the VCR do to the entertainment industry? If everybody has access to old movies, does this mean they will not be broadcast any more? [Bless you, TCM.] He says to tune in in five or ten years to find out what the VCR is going to do to the entertainment industry. I have a pretty good idea what it will do, but I have thirty-five years to look back on. [-mrl]
Little Round Top, Bastogne, and the Kobayashi Maru (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
There has been much discussion of the "Kobayashi Maru" test in STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN and in STAR TREK (THE REBOOT). When STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN came out, people complained about the test. One complaint, addressed (or at least explicitly stated) in STAR TREK (THE REBOOT), was that the test purported to give the student the feeling of being unable to save her crew. However, since it was only a test, it is not going to have that effect, and what's more, the fact that all the students know that it is rigged to be unwinnable, it is meaningless.
But another complaint, perhaps more serious, is not mentioned. The purpose of the test is to prove to the students that they may find themselves in a "no-win" scenario. Now, I'm not a military genius, but it seems to me that the last thing you want to convince officers of is that there is a "no-win" scenario, because once they believe there is such a thing, they may well decide they are in one, and give up.
What brought this to mind was watching STAR TREK (THE REBOOT) one night and the "Bastogne" episode of BAND OF BROTHERS the next. The situation in Bastogne certainly looked hopeless, but luckily for all of us, the officers and the troops refused to give up. (One can argue that they did have the option of surrendering, so it was not as "no-win" as the Kobayashi Maru, but that is not much improvement.)
Similarly, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain on Little Round Top could have decided there was nothing he could do when they ran out of ammunition. Again, luckily he did not.
But if they had all taken the Kobayashi Maru test, then they might well have decided that they must be in one of those "no-win" situations--and it would have become a self-fulfilling prophecy. [-ecl]
REAPER MAN by Terry Pratchett (copyright 1991, Harper Fiction, $9.99, 353pp, ISBN 978-0-06-102062-9) (excerpt from the Duel Fish Codices: a book review by Gwendolyn Karpierz):
I've always wanted to read more Pratchett.
As it turns out, REAPER MAN was a really relevant choice in the wake of the author's death.
In the first few pages of REAPER MAN, Death gets fired--for having a personality. Some conglomeration of Neutral Beings decides that Death is not neutral enough, and they give him ... a deadline. He gets his own little hourglass; when the sand runs out, Death will be replaced.
Far from being upset about this, he is thrilled. Instead of hanging around to do his job until his replacement shows up, he departs posthaste to experience some of that life dying people are always so keen on clinging to.
SEE! I HAVE TIME. AT LAST, I HAVE /TIME/!
Albert backed away nervously.
"And now that you have it, what are you going to do with it?" he said.
Death mounted his horse.
I AM GOING TO /SPEND IT/.
*** You might think that a temporary absence of Death would benefit the rest of the world, which is always bemoaning its losses. As it turns out, there are consequences when things don't die. In REAPER MAN, the consequences come in the form of too much life energy floating about, which wreaks havoc in the city of Ankh-Morpork. The novel primarily follows a handful of wizards in the city trying to deal with this havoc, including one Windle Poons, recently deceased and returned because nobody showed up to guide him down the road of being dead properly.
Now, we all know that Terry Pratchett is hilarious, and here we hit the roadblock that has previously kept me from reading too much of the endless Discworld novels. I dipped my toes into them a couple years ago with THE COLOUR OF MAGIC, THE LIGHT FANTASTIC, and MORT, but I will quietly admit that I wasn't terribly impressed. (A few people did assure me that these were not his best works.) Honestly, I just don't love writing that is primarily funny. I need well- rounded tragedy to balance out the humor.
REAPER MAN surprised me.
It started out feeling just about as my previous Pratchett experiences: comedic, but with little other substance. In addition to series of random events that appeared to exist solely for the purpose of making the reader laugh, the storyline just jumped around /too much/. Three or four main plot threads were introduced, as well as a handful more minor characters and events; with the points-of-view hopping between Windle Poons, the Bursar, the Archchancellor, Mrs. Cake, the sergeant, Modo, the other wizards, and--/very occasionally Death-on-holiday--REAPER MAN gave me nothing to hold onto: no characters I could come to care about, only silly names and unexplained events that would eventually become plot.
All I wanted to read about was Death.
Death meant to go have grand experiences, I expect. Instead he found himself integrating into a tiny farming community, where he promised to stay until he could help the old Miss Flitworth reap the harvest.
And gradually, the novel filled itself out. Sections became longer and longer, giving the reader something to really sink their teeth into. While some of them were still unabashedly silly, the characters--much like Death--developed into people. To my great surprise, one-hundred-and-thirty-year-old Windle Poons became deep and sympathetic as he learned some things about being alive. Or ... un-alive.
And Death did some truly remarkable things for a little farming community.
When the drama struck, it became the blend of funny and majestic that I truly love, the sort of thing that makes me laugh while I'm trying not to cry. The second half of the novel was one downhill tumble into adoration; I started off barely wanting to continue, and ended up loving every second of it. I do think that the beginning of the novel could have used a bit more structure and a bit less randomness; everything happened so quickly as to make everything /really slow/, because I didn't care about any of it. But once Death really got to work, the harvest he reaped was completely worth the wait.
Wherever Sir Pratchett is now, he's in good hands.
I do want to note that one of the off-putting things about diving into the Discworld novels is that there are /so many/ of them that it's a bit of a challenge to know where to start. In that respect: If you wanted to start with REAPER MAN, you theoretically could. I read my previous Discworld novels, as I said, a couple years ago, and I barely remember them at all; this did not affect my reading of REAPER MAN in the slightest. However, I would recommend you read MORT first, as it sets up Death as a personality, and there are a few events from it to which REAPER MAN occasionally alludes. If you've never touched a Discworld novel, REAPER MAN is still enjoyable, but I suspect it will be /more/ enjoyable if you have a little more background.
I did recently find an extraordinarily helpful reading guide for Discworld, which denotes all the "entry novels" to the series, as well as which books relate to which other books, making it much easier to follow a single plotline or start somewhere besides the very first book--THE COLOUR OF MAGIC--which, I have been told, is not actually the best place to start.
You can find it here [on lspace.org]: http://tinyurl.com/void-discworld-reading-order
24 DAYS (24 JOURS: LA VERITE SUR L'AFFAIRE ILAN HALIMI) (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
Warning: For those not already familiar with the Halimi Affair, there will be spoilers and graphic descriptions in this review.
CAPSULE: This is a docudrama about the kidnapping of Parisian Jew Ilan Halimi, who in January, 2006 was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered largely because he was Jewish. The film follows the Halimi family, the police, and the criminals, all the time sticking fairly accurately to what is known about the case. The Halimi family and the police race to find and save the hostage. The film looks at many connected issues including immigration policies, anti-Semitism, class, and police competency and prejudice. Not all the issues are fully discussed, nor would we expect them to be in a single film, but the viewer is aware of them. 24 DAYS is directed and co-written by Alexandre Arcady, perhaps in the United States best known for the horror thriller HIGH TENSION. Also writing the script were Emilie Freche and Antoine Lacomblez. Rating: low +3 (-4 to +4) or 8/10
The French Government has tried over the previous century to support a policy of ethnic tolerance and inclusiveness. Unfortunately, that system has the drawback that there are intercultural hatreds that they are only exacerbating by inviting in immigrants trained in hatred. France has had a large influx of Anti-Jewish Muslims into their population and at the same time a great increase in domestic anti-Semitism. Ilan Halimi was a young Jew who worked in a Paris cell phone store. He was 23 years old when he was targeted, kidnapped, and taken to Bagneux, a commune in the suburbs of Paris. There his treatment was shockingly barbaric. 24 DAYS is a docudrama of the incident as seen from many sides.
On January 20, 2006, Ilan Halimi had Sabbath dinner with his family and then went out for a late-night date with an attractive woman he had met while he worked in a cell phone store. She was the bait. He was set upon by a gang of thugs and taken to an apartment in the Bagneux section of Paris. There he was trussed in duct tape and viciously tortured. For three weeks he was tortured and starved, held in barbaric conditions. Meanwhile the kidnappers demanded a ransom that Ilan's parents could not pay. A staccato of phone calls from the kidnappers to the Halimi family made unrealistic and inconsistent demands.
The extent of Ilan's condition is described as "horrific." Still, it must have been considerably but understandably toned down for the camera. The real Ilan Halimi was burned over 80 per cent of his body. And after the first week his captors never even fed him. His condition probably could not be accurately depicted for the camera.
Central to the story is Ilan's mother Ruth Halimi (played by Zabou Breitman) who wrote the book on which the film script was based. We see the story through her eyes. She is speaking directly to the viewer in the first and last scenes of the film. Other people are filmed with a more literal camera. But the camera frequently focuses in on her and the action slows to dwell on her emotion. That way the story's treatment becomes very personal to her. Otherwise the story moves fast because there is a lot of detail of the story to cover. It documents tensions in the family, between the family and the police, and within the police. Supporting her character is Pascal Elbe who plays Ilan's estranged father. Jacques Gamblin plays Police Commander Delcour who is handling the case. Tony Harrisson plays the formidable Youssouf Fofana who leads the kidnappers and who cannot settle on a single ransom amount.
We see the police investigation including some smart moves and some obvious errors. There is, for example, controversy over whether the crime can be classified as being anti-Semitic or not. Arcady manages to put into this 108-minute film a lot of action but the issues he manages to make very personal. I rate 24 DAYS a low +3 on the -4 to +4 scale or 08/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3600588/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/24_days/?search=24%20days
BECAUSE I WAS A PAINTER (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: During the Holocaust prisoners who were artists secretly made and hid drawings that recorded the experience of being held in the camps and murdered. Christophe Cognet writes and directs (the first time for either) this documentary talking to the artists and showing the art that was created under these horrendous circumstances. The purpose of the documentary is important, but the film fails in execution due to technical problems that were not sufficiently considered in the making. Rating: high 0 (-4 to +4) or 5/10
During the Holocaust, when millions of people were being murdered, a few artists wanted to bear witness and preserve the experience for those who came after. It was impossible for those in the camps to get a camera and photograph the unthinkable going on all around. But it was just barely possible for some artists to scrounge paper and writing implements and draw what people who were not there could not imagine.
Writer and director Christophe Cognet interviews several of the artists who recorded their lives at a time when art was a capital crime. Artists participating include Yehuda Bacon, José Fosty, Walter Spitzer, Samuel Willenberg, and Krystyna Zaorska. The artists occasionally disagree on what their experience was. One finds that there can be no beauty in all of this bloodshed, but another says that in the way that the bodies so thoroughly show the suffering of the dying person that that is a beauty in the same way that Picasso's "Guernica" is beautiful. We do see a variety of different styles and subjects in the samples of their artwork. Different expressions of life in the camps and the artists tell us why they chose the different approaches.
We never get a good idea how these artists managed to maintain large portfolios of their art work and not have them fall into the hands of their captors. We would like little more understanding of the mechanics of successfully documenting life in the camps and preserving that art so that others would see it.
The film suffers (badly) from technical problems; most of which are reparable, but at this point have not been fixed. This is definitely a film that needs to be narrated and dubbed rather than subtitled. Why? Much of the film is looking at drawings in black on a white background. The current subtitles are white letters with black edge trimming. The lack of contrast makes the subtitles a real struggle to read. On top of which the subtitles are printed for just a moment and then quickly whisked away. Even given full concentration, reading the subtitles is fully consuming. But the subtitles are not where the viewer should be looking when there is art on the screen. One can read the subtitles or see the art, but not both.
The drawings frequently have great detail and need to be studied to realize what is being portrayed. But there just would not be time for the viewer to appreciate what is being expressed in the art even if the subtitles were ignored. We see some art at a distance and then moved up to the camera lens, but it would be better to see the art visible from the very first we see it. Of understanding the drawings and reading the subtitles, there is not enough time to do either well, much less do both. Narrating the film in the intended viewer's language, pointing out important details of the drawing, would go a long way toward making the artwork more comprehensible and appreciated.
This could have been an important documentary and it very nearly is already, but much of the viewing experience needs to be rethought and alterations need to be made. As it stands the film has serious flaws. Because of the subject of the documentary we need to have more time looking at the art and less panning the camera over the countryside. As it stands I rate BECAUSE I WAS A PAINTER a high 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3342998/combined
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/because_i_was_a_painter/
As a side note: I have a particular interest in the artist Yahuda Bacon who credits my uncle, Stanley Leeper, with saving his life after Bacon was liberated from Auschwitz. Details are available at http://tinyurl.com/mrl-bacon.
Rights (letters of comment by Gwendolyn Karpierz, Kevin R, Keith F. Lynch, and Jim Susky):
[This section was accidentally omitted from last week's MT VOID even though it was listed in the contents.]
In response to Mark's comments on rights in the 04/03/15 issue of the MT VOID, Gwendolyn Karpierz writes:
Sorry, Mark, I'm going to have to take some serious issue with some of your assumptions on the swimming pool incident, namely "If her swimsuit is attractive, she is anxious to attract the attention of the opposite sex."
Unless you have some hitherto unshared powers, you weren't inside the woman's head, so you can't possibly know that's why she's wearing an "attractive" swimsuit; there are countless other reasons for it. Bikinis are pretty much the standard now (you said skimpy, so I'm guessing bikini); it's entirely possible that she just couldn't find a one-piece in a color, style, or size that she liked. Maybe she hates the feel of swimsuit fabric (I know I do), but recognizes that she certainly can't go to the public pool naked, so wears as little suit as possible. (There--that would make swimming more convenient for her.) Heck, maybe she's trying to attract the attention of the /same/ gender, and not the opposite one at all!
Or maybe she just likes the way it looks to /her/.
To speak from personal experience: I'm the kind of person who wears corsets. All the time. To conventions with accompanying costumes, sure, but also in my everyday life. Sometimes just when I'm hanging around at my house without expecting to see /anyone/ that day. And /whenever/ I put on my corset, it's for myself. Now, plenty of people might--and I imagine they do--look at the shape of a corset (and often the clothes that go with it, which range from low-cut to eye-catchingly colorful to /noticeably/ old-fashioned) and think, "She's wearing that to attract attention."
I will fight anyone who says this to me.
I wear my corsets because /I/ like the way they look, /I/ like the colors and shapes--and, yes, I like the way they feel. There's a pervasive myth that corsets are instruments of torture--and for some people they are--but to me it's a combination of the comfort of being hugged /all the time/ and the safety of wearing body armor. I don't put on corsets to attract anybody's attention--and in fact, being stared at makes me extremely uncomfortable. Furthermore, I hate having my photo taken, but I love making and wearing costumes (including corsets) to cons (and sometimes just around town), where people often want to take my photo (and occasionally do so without asking). Does that mean I should stop wearing the things that make me happy, just because someone didn't adequately learn that it's rude to stare? No! And neither should that woman at the swimming pool. Saying that she "should accept that her dressing that way has consequences" is uncomfortably close to saying that rape victims "were asking for it" because of the clothes they were wearing. I won't go so far as to agree that the incident at the pool was "stare rape" (which is kind of a ridiculous term), but it's not a big leap.
Now, does someone have the "right" not to be stared at? No, I don't think that's a thing you can claim. But I /do/ think that woman has the right to wear what she wants, and society sort of has a responsibility to not punish her for it. [-gmk]
Okay. I will go with you on that I cannot put myself into the woman's mind and know exactly why she would be wearing skimpy swim wear. I was just playing the odds. If I see someone with a fishing pole and line in the water I will jump to the conclusion that he is fishing. If I would see into his mind it may well be that he just is there drowning worms.
But let me go to your conclusion. We agree that the woman does not have any sort of right not to be stared at. And one does not have a right to look inside private property as a Peeping Tom does. But in a public place one can look at anything that is in plain sight. Then you say you think "that woman has the right to wear what she wants, and society sort of has a responsibility to not punish her for it."
No, there are limits to what one can wear as free expression. If she wants to wear only nail polish and nothing else, society still arguably can say that behavior is not allowed. And you would have to make a case that society sort of has a responsibility to not punish her for it. [-mrl]
Distinguish between "rights" and "privileges." For example, people frequently speak of "rights" they have due to an agreement (contract) they made. That's a different meaning of "right" than my right to be free of someone else initiating force. The latter is contingent upon the private agreement. The former is mine by the fact of my existence.
Regarding "creepy pool guy": is the pool privately owned? Is he a member of the organization that owns it? Was he charged admission? Did he agree to abide by a code of conduct by entering the pool area or paying admission? If the pool is owned by the state or municipality, is his staring legal as he doesn't cross some harassment line: trying to interact with someone who doesn't want the attention, to the extent that we'd consider it stalking. If one is going to strip to what are effectively one's skivvies, and bathe or sun bathe in public view, how can one claim an expectation of privacy? I think that would depend on "house rules."
I'd say, if he were on public property, and there was no rule against giving unwanted, silent, non-physical visual attention to someone, it is, however creepy, allowable conduct. I was raised to NOT act like that. "Be a gentleman" probably doesn't mesh with this kind of rights-talk. I also came of age as the old mores against folks wearing what were then called "skimpy" bathing costumes (bikinis for women, Speedo-style banana hammocks for men) were crumbling. Fixating on one person like that doesn't feel right. Your common variety harmless pool or beach lech would probably make some attempt to be surreptitious, and check out more than one flesh morsel. Still low behavior, but conceivably legal.
I'd be interested to know if "creepy guy" had any other problems: is he on meds that cause him to "zone out?" Is that stare actually seeing anything? Is he really viewing what the "target" thinks he is looking at? Maybe his vision is such that he isn't actually focused on her the way she seems. [-kr]
To which Keith Lynch replies:
No meds needed. When I'm thinking hard about something, I'm not paying any attention to what I'm facing. Should I close my eyes? Or wear dark glasses like a Secret Service agent so that people can't tell where my eyes are pointed? If someone thinks someone is staring at her, before she makes an accusation she should try moving around and seeing if his eyes follow her. And if they do, she should politely and privately ask him to stop, and only mention it to others if he doesn't stop. [-kfl]
I was also thinking about people who, especially if their glasses are off, or they are wearing the wrong pair, have poor distance vision. [-kr]
And Jim Susky writes:
I think you thoroughly (and compactly) wrung out the issues in Ad Hoc Rights [in the 04/10/15 issue of the MT VOID].
By now I know it's not all about me, but I'll take this as an extended response to my polemic regarding property rights in general and their violation as specifically embodied in laws that ban smoking in private (privately-owned) spaces. First, I'll reply to your introductory statement to my letter on smoking bans in private spaces:
"I do not believe that a property right protects the practice of putting a harmful substance like cigarette smoke into the air of a non-smoker." This surprises me, coming from a thoughtful observer who often addresses secondary effects.
Environmental regulations do not, a priori, violate property rights. Generally, no one owns the air--no consideration of an individual's property pertains. The walls of a bar or restaurant unambiguously separate the collective air from that within the owner's private space. That air is not the air of anyone (whether or not they smoke) who freely associates by walking in.
Is it not plain that a patron may walk out for any reason at all?
A corollary to natural property rights is that an owner may regulate behavior within his establishment (this of course bears on the scenario in Ad Hoc Rights last week). Waiters, cooks, bartenders, and other bar employees also freely associate with the owner. Their interests are served by the same prerogatives that patrons exert (and don't let the door hit you one the way out).
(moving on to the swimming pool)
You stated: "(the ogled woman in skimpy swimsuit) goes a little too far when she claims that she has a right not to be stared at."
The non-verbal conflict leading up to her appeal for arbitration reminds me of a classic child's conflict. Joanie and Johnny are riding in the back seat with Mom. The elder Joanie discovers that she can irritate younger brother with certain persistent looks. Johnny's countermeasures do not dissuade his elder, wily, and more experienced sister. Finally Johnny wails:
"Maaahhhhm! Joannie's LOOKING AT ME!"
At first blush I'd say that the principles that inform such interaction do not "rise" to the "level" of rights. I'm not so sure that it's a matter of degree so much as a difference in kind.
When considering the justice of a law or moral action, I like to first consider the "non-aggression principle" which state in brief:
'Thou shalt not initiate force or fraud against others'
(By the way, a juror's decision is a moral action with lasting consequence. I believe that a fellow citizen's duty is to consider the justice of a law before ruling "on the facts". For instance mere possession of a weapon does not justify a state's aggression. Enforcing a gun possession law is the State's initiation of force. The juror's right action is to acquit in such cases.)
The problem, of course, is to define or apply aggression to actions.
I agree that (as you wrote) "one should not be able to just invent a right when it is convenient" ... (should not invent "stare rape") " on an Ad Hoc basis. Many believe "there oughta be a law" for every contingency--but then some never completely cut momma's apron strings.
I'll close by saying that if this were a hotel, the pool manager's prerogative would to be to throw the bum out or at minimum demand that he stop ogling (request such). A further prerogative would be to call security, or lacking that, the police. The police should remove the ogler (or convince him to stop) on grounds that he is trespassing--or whatever other reason. I do not assert that the manager must throw the creep out.
At a public facility the manager having public regulations in reserve is entirely appropriate--to be exerted according to her judgement--which recalls another favorite aphorism (with updated pronouns):
"Rules are for the guidance of wise (wo)men and the obedience of fools" [-js]
Politics and Smoking (letter of comment by Kip Williams):
In response to comments on smoking in the 04/10/15 issue of the MT VOID, Kip Williams writes:
Here's my tired old anecdote about an accommodating restaurant with a smoking area. The Cinema Cafe in Phoebus, back before smoking was routinely disallowed in places that served food, was a movie house (formerly the New American Theater) with tables as well as theater seats. It was set up so that the front seats (about 3/4 of them) were 'smoking,' and the rear seats and the tables behind the seats were 'non-smoking.' Because smoke stays where it's told, obviously.
Cathy and I seated ourselves at a table. Like all the tables, it was in the smaller, non-smoking, area. So a guy came in, sat at another table, and started smoking. The waitress took our order, then went to his table, where she said something quietly that we couldn't hear. "I THOUGHT THIS WAS -AMERICA-!" boomed the voice of the smoker, whose lungs seemed pretty healthy from where we were. Then he looked over at us and deduced (wrongly) that we had complained about him. "I GUESS I'LL JUST SIT IN BACK OF THE SMOKING AREA AND BLOW MY SMOKE ON BACK!", he added, apparently for our benefit.
There the story ends. I don't recall what happened next, except that it was nothing much. Maybe the waitress talked to him some more, or maybe he put his cigarette out, or maybe he did what he said he was going to do, though I don't think that was it. I've been telling this story for enough years that I remember it now as a story more than as an event. I can still remember the shape of the room, and the existence of stairs to an upper level, so it's not entirely barren, but the incident ends on his proud display of personality.
(The fact that the memory does actually lead to more memories makes it what I call a mnemory. Some day, everyone will call it that.)
Oh, and VOTE FOR STEVE STILES FOR FAN ARTIST HUGO, DAMN IT! [-kw]
Retro Hugos (letters of comment by Paul Dormer, Bill Higgins, Ben Yalow, Kevin R, Keith F. Lynch, and Sandra Bond):
In response to Evelyn's pointer in the 04/10/15 issue of the MT VOID to "The Hugo nominations and Retro Hugo nominations", Paul Dormer writes:
The Retro Hugo nominations are so last year. [-pd]
Ooops--that's what happens when you cut and paste... [-ecl]
Bill Higgins asks:
Why is there no Retro Hugo this year, 75 years after 1940? [-wh]
Ben Yalow responds:
The 75 years later Worldcon has the right to run Retro Hugos, but is not required to. Sasquan chose not to run them. [-by]
Simple enough. Thanks.
I have mixed emotions about Retro Hugos; the idea is still kind of cool, but the award is inevitably messy and flawed. Were I in charge of deciding whether or not to award them, I'm not sure which way I'd go.
There were some pretty good works of SF published in calendar 1939, though. [-wh]
Kevin R adds:
Anybody know why [no Retro Hugos this year]?*
Obviously, 1940 had a lack of potential nominees friendly to the LGBTQWERTYUIP community, and too many stories inflicted with the patriarchal straightjacket of "plot."
Should have been some commie-friendly stuff available, though. :-) [-kr]
Kevin later adds:
Okay, so I was JK, then I got curious, and found this:
So, there was an effort made to get womyn nomynated, or to at least alert people to which eligible.
[quote] Retro Hugo Women is a discussion group for Retro Hugo-eligible works by women creators. Because how will we know what is worthy of nomination if we never read it in the first place? [/quote]
Absolutely nothing wrong in letting people know what was out there back then. There was no ideological blocking on their lists, else, explain Ayn Rand's ANTHEM, which along with C L Moore's "Werewoman" was nominated.
As for LGBTetcetc, Arthur Clarke won for "How We Went to Mars," though he won a Hugo long before most fen knew anything about his (alleged?) atypical sexuality. [-kr]
Keith Lynch suggests:
I think it should be extended, opened not just to works published 50, 75, or 100 years ago, but also 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, and 6400 years ago.
"There were some pretty good works of SF published in calendar 1939, though."
Indeed, including two short stories by a promising new author named Robert Heinlein. But Ayn Rand's "Anthem" is not eligible, as it was published in 1938. [-kfl]
Re "Anthem", Ben notes:
And was nominated last year, when there were Retro Hugos. [-by]
Of course, the requirement that there was a Worldcon in the target year might throw a monkey wrench (or spanner) into your plan. [- ecl]
Never daunted, Keith writes:
They could also hold RetroWorldcons. Remember, that city must have existed at the time. Here's my slate:
1915: New York 1815: DC 1615: London 1215: Constantinople 415: Alexandria 1186 BC: Jerusalem 4386 BC: Jericho 10786 BC: Atlantis
Kevin makes the following observations:
1915: You might regret that, due to Metro-like subway problems.
1815: Hard to find a non-smoking hotel. Hard to find a hotel, as some British visitors were a bit hard on the town the previous year. Left it smoking.
10786 BC (Atlantis): Poseidonis, Tritonis or a joint bid?
Raising money for the T2FF and the UTSFF will be tough.*
* Trans-Temporal Fan Fund and Under The Sea Fan Fund. A souvenir book, "Thera and Back Again", might be a nice premium.
But Sandra Bond warns:
I don't want to see the sad puppies whining that that left-wing social justice warrior Lucian of Samosata has had the retro-Hugos wrapped up for years... [-sb]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
The movie-and-book discussion group watched THE EUROPA REPORT and read RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA by Arthur C. Clarke (ISBN 978-0-553- 28789-9). No, the movie was not based on the book, but they have similar themes.
I realize that if you read enough books, weird coincidences will arise, but I still found it interesting that the "disaster asteroid" hit on 9/11 (2077, though, not 2001). Eunomia is actually the 8th- to 12th-largest asteroid, not the 5th. According to Wikipedia, the largest asteroids (in decreasing size by mass) are 1 Ceres, 4 Vesta, 2 Pallas, 10 Hygiea, 21 Euphrosyne, 704 Interamnia, 511 Davida, 532 Herculina, 15 Eunomia. (The numbers indicate the order in which they were found.) The last four are all reasonably close to each other in size. I presume in 1973 the masses were not as accurately known, since it seems like a mistake Clarke would never make. Persephone had been proposed as a name for a trans-Neptunian (formerly trans-Plutonian) planet, but given that there already was an asteroid 399 Persephone, this seems like it would have been a lost cause. So far, the major trans-Neptunian bodies have been named Pluto, Eris, Sedna, Makemake, Quaoar, Varuna, and Haumea.
Apparently in this book's 2130 there is still considerable argument over the "Big Bang" theory. Since the most important evidence for it was discovered after Clarke wrote RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA in 1973, this is not too surprising.
Norton is concerned about the total annihilation of ten thousand tons when Endeavour lands if Rama is anti-matter. But you would get the total annihilation of only the mass of the spaceship. (If you got the mass of Rama, the same would have been true of the test of a few milligrams of vapor, which would sort of defeat the purpose of even doing the test.)
"After a century of determined effort, Earth had still failed to get its population below the target of one billion..." In 1973, the world population was about four billion; it is currently about seven billion. Any attempt to get it below one billion would have to have been fairly drastic even if it started in 1973, let alone in 2030 (when earth is projected to have a population of well over eight billion). China's "one-child" policy, for example, seems to have been much stronger than whatever Earth was implementing in RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA, yet even that did not do more that slow the growth of China's population, not decrease it.
Of the superchimps (which seems like an unnecessary addition to an already full enough plot), Clarke writes, "Being cloned, they were also sexless..." Earlier he describes them as having "family trees whose branches included the most intelligent of the Old and New World monkeys, plus synthetic genes that had never existed in nature." This is not cloning, although one can argue that all the rest were cloned from the first "genetically-engineered" one. But it would have been the genetic engineering that made them sexless, not the cloning. (Indeed, animals that have been cloned in the last few decades are fertile and have had offspring.) In any case, the superchimps strike a negative note in the book--it seems as though humanity had decided to create a race of intelligent slaves: they are "docile, obedient, and uninquisitive," had an IQ of sixty, and "were quite happy to work fifteen hours a day." Would we decide that humans with an IQ of sixty should be used as menial labor for fifteen hours a day, especially if there was a good chance that there would be some situation in their workplace where they would have to be euthanized?
Clarke seems to have felt he needed something with drama and tension near the end of the novel, but frankly, that too seems slapped on. The concept of Rama itself is drama enough.
[I know he was Sir Arthur C. Clarke, but not when he wrote this. Somehow listing the author as Sir Arthur C. Clarke seems wrong, even though listing the author of the "Sherlock Holmes" stories as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle seems right.] [-ecl]
Mark Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Quote of the Week: Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. --Bertrand RussellTweet
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