MT VOID 02/26/16 -- Vol. 34, No. 35, Whole Number 1899

MT VOID 02/26/16 -- Vol. 34, No. 35, Whole Number 1899

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society 02/26/16 -- Vol. 34, No. 35, Whole Number 1899

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


Correction to Evelyn's comments on SEVEN DAYS IN MAY in last week's MT VOID: SEVEN DAYS IN MAY was co-authored by Charles Bailey III, not John Bailey.

Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films, Lectures, etc. (NJ):

March 10: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978) (film), 
	"The Father-Thing" by Philip K. Dick (story) 
	Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
March 24: HARD LANDING by Algis Budrys, Old Bridge (NJ) Public 
	Library, 7PM
April 14: TBA, Middletown (NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
April 28: LOST HORIZON by James Hilton 
	Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM
May 12: LOST HORIZON (1937) and novel by James Hilton, Middletown 
	(NJ) Public Library, 5:30PM
May 26: "E for Effort" by T. L. Sherred and "Earthman, Come Home" 
	by James Blish (both in SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME 2B), 
	Old Bridge (NJ) Public Library, 7PM

Northern New Jersey events are listed at:

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

We are back to my monthly commentary on what older movies might be of interest on TCM. I remind people I have no connection to TCM, but I am a fan of old movies (and new movies). All times given are in the Eastern time zone, as is the whole Turner organization, I guess. This month Turner offers prison camp escapes, international intrigue, and giant dinosaurs rampaging in cities.

Okay, you 1960s spy film fans, TCM is running something like a James Bond film crossed with an Avengers story. (I am talking about the old Avengers--John Steed and Emma Peel, not Marvel Comics.) 1939's CLOUDS OVER EUROPE, a.k.a. Q PLANES, looks like it bears the same relation to James Bond films that FORBIDDEN PLANET bears to "Star Trek".

A character much like John Steed goes through a James Bond plot. Ralph Richardson plays the fastidious Major Hammond, a dapper British agent in bowler hat and carrying an umbrella into battle against his country's enemies. Assisting him is his sister Kay played by the near-stunning Valerie Hobson. Hobson, you may remember, played the title role in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and Lisa in THE WEREWOLF OF LONDON. (In real life Hobson was also the wife of John Profumo in 1963 when the famous Profumo sex scandal broke. But that is another story.) Hammond is called in to investigate a case of test airplanes going missing. Secret experimental planes are taking off and disappearing literally into thin air. Laurence Olivier plays a test pilot who is targeted. The action climax of the film is an attack on the enemy's base. This film is a *lot* like a James Bond film you probably never saw, but it was made 24 years before DR NO. One of the three writers, Jack Whittingham, also co-wrote THUNDERBALL.
Q PLANES:[Thursday, March 10, 4:30 PM

Fans of the film THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) and there are many may enjoy THE PASSWORD IS COURAGE (1962). The two films were, as you can see, made about a year apart. PASSWORD is done in a low budget British style in black and white. GREAT ESCAPE is done in Technicolor with an all-star international cast and with fictitious motorcycle chases. TCM is also showing THE GREAT ESCAPE this month so you can compare the two:
THE GREAT ESCAPE: Saturday, March 19, 8:00 PM
THE PASSWORD IS COURAGE: Monday, March 28, 12:45 PM

In one nice pairing we will get back-to-back THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (1959) and THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS (1953). People talk about how Willis O'Brien got some bad breaks at the end of his life when Irwin Allen's THE LOST WORLD put O'Brien name in the credits, but used decorated lizards instead of stop-motion photography. And a project that O'Brien started devolved and became KING KONG VS. GODZILLA with men is suits instead of stop-motion photography. I have wondered if the reasons for his sorrows included O'Brien's THE GIANT BEHEMOTH. He was effectively making a remake of THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS but it did not come out nearly as well. Supposedly one of the producers broke the mechanical prop that should have been used as the behemoth's head in the ferry scenes. Instead, the head does not move at all. I do not know if it was O'Brien's work, but the dinosaur seems to be built on an A-frame, which splays the legs down at an angle, like the legs of a letter "A". That looks entirely wrong. A true dinosaur has the legs going straight down like an elephant's legs.

THE GIANT BEHEMOTH seems rushed and under-budgeted. It never reaches the quality that O'Brien's protege Ray Harryhausen had achieved six years earlier with THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS. THE GIANT BEHEMOTH is not a bad film, but it missed a lot of its potential. You might notice that both films, as well as GORGO (1961), were all directed by Eugene Lourie. He seem to have specialized.
THE GIANT BEHEMOTH: Saturday, March 19, 6:15 AM
THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS: Saturday, March 19, 7:45 AM

My choice for best film of the month? I would have to pick David Lean's LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) [Wednesday, March 23, 2:15 AM]. You can also see two other David Lean classics: THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957) [Saturday, March 5, 10:00 PM] and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965) [Friday, March 11, 1:45 PM].


COLLIDING DREAMS (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: The title is misleading. COLLIDING DREAMS is a short history of Zionism in Israel, its causes, and its impact on the Middle East. The title suggests it should be positive on at least two sides of this many-sided topic. In fact, there is little emphasis on the "Arab dream" and considerably more on the dream of a Jewish homeland. But if the film does not fully represent the anti-Zionist point of view, it does admit to some injustice to Arabs in the past. Commenting on the history here are interviewees presenting the Jewish and the Palestinian perspectives. But they never contend with each other directly. That makes the discussion less heated but conclusions are questionable. The team of Joseph Dorman and Oren Rudavsky produced, wrote, and directed. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

Joseph Dorman (SHOLEM ALEICHEM: LAUGHING IN THE DARKNESS and ARGUING THE WORLD) and Oren Rudavsky (A LIFE APART: HASIDISM IN AMERICA) were the writers, producers, and directors giving us a crash course (135 minutes) in the history and ideologies behind Zionism in the Middle East. The history presented spans the time from early Zionism in the late 19th century to the assassination of Yitzak Rabin in 1995.

The history starts us with Theodor Herzl who saw the possibility of a Jewish state that would be a refuge from the anti-Semitism and the frequent pogroms in Europe. Because Jewish assimilation had not worked Herzl did not believe that the international hatred could be overcome and instead he wanted a place of refuge and relative safety from conflict.

The original title of the film was THE ZIONIST IDEA, which more suggests most of the film is from the Jewish point of view. This does not mean those parts are all pro-Israel. They seem to look at Zionism "warts and all." But more time is spent on the Jewish experience.

One story of that experience is particularly memorable. A woman released from captivity in the Holocaust was boarding a ship to Palestine and was very moved on seeing a sign in Hebrew saying "Entrance". She had never seen Hebrew written in letters so large. Hebrew had in her experience been something that had to be hidden away. This was Hebrew proclaiming itself nearly out loud.

The case for the Jews is one defended on the basis of need. They need a homeland, and that was certainly obvious when Israel was founded. The case that it was owed to them because of a promise in the Bible is for me less convincing. Contemporary law is not there to enforce Biblical promises. And as some Jews admit in the interviews the land is beautiful like a woman, but it is a woman who is already engaged to someone else.

Israelis and Arabs are interviewed throughout and Israelis express some irony that Herzl expected a place of peace in the world and it has turned out anything but. The documentary is well polished and thought provoking, but it itself raises controversy.

COLLIDING DREAMS is a background to understanding issues that affect us not just every day, but many times every day. It has aspects of the issues that most of us have not seen and hence will be provocative. I rate it a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10. COLLIDING DREAMS will open in New York and Los Angeles on March 4, 2016.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:


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

MANDEN FLORES A LA LUNA ("Send Flowers to the Moon") by J. Carnicero (no ISBN; Toray, 1970) appears to be the Spanish equivalent of half of an Ace Double. At about 24,000 words, it is a novella, and a short one at that. Toray "Bolsilibros" ("pocket books") were published in a number of genres, just like Ace Doubles. (Yes, there were Western Ace Doubles, and probably other genres as well.) Toray had *six* different Western lines, much as a romance novel publishers today will have several lines (time travel, contemporary, frontier, etc.). Toray had two SF ("Anticipation") lines: Science Fiction and Space. (The icon for Science Fiction was a robot, so it was not strictly a hard/soft SF split.) Each came out fifteen times a year and cost ten pesetas (about 15 US cents at the time).

It is difficult to find information on many of these works (and authors). Apparently, being an Anglo author had a certain cachet, so, for example, Luis Garcia Leche wrote as "Louis G. Milk" and Jose Leon Dominquez wrote as "Kelltom McIntire". ("Kelltom McIntire" sounds as nicely inconspicuous for a pseudonym as "Ford Prefect", but that's neither here nor there.) "J. Carnicero" does not sound like a pseudonym, but it is; his real name is Jose Carlos Canalda. (In Spanish, "carnicero" means "butcher" so I will forever think of author Jim Butcher when I hear the name, even though he is totally unconnected both linguistically and personally.)

MANDEN FLORES A LA LUNA starts with a prologue--a dialogue between (one presumes) the author and the "man in the street" ("hombre de la calle"). The author is moved and inspired by the achievement in 1959 of landing a craft on the moon; the man in the street wants to know why we are wasting money on this sort of thing. Carnicero's response is a bit too much like "There will always be hunger," though he does note that the solution to world hunger involves changing the nature of human beings, not just throwing money at the problem. The man in the street wants to "make habitable" the Sahara or the Amazon jungle. Nowadays most scientists have a completely different attitude toward making the Amazon jungle (more) habitable--it's a really bad idea, both in terms of loss of possibly valuable plants and animals, and in terms of further destruction of the parts of Earth's biosphere that produces oxygen. One can only be pleased that we did not take the money from the space program and spend it on cutting down the rain forests!

The story itself is about a moon mission. In the world of the novella, there have already been several moon missions so this one is just another mission, with little press coverage or attention paid. Now this immediately brings to mind the Apollo 13 mission of early 1970, since obviously *something* will happen to this mission to make it exciting. (And it does.) Obvious plot twist, coincidence, or just a short publishing cycle? Well, the fact that Carnicero also writes about using "free return" (slingshotting around the moon) just as Apollo 13 did, and of one of the astronauts pulling off his bio-sensors because he is tired of everyone knowing everything about his bodily functions (just as happened with Apollo 13), makes me think this was written after that mission.

At any rate, Carnicero writes, "What yesterday was big news and had a big impact on the public consciousness, today nobody even remembers it. These are the consequences of modern life," and that pretty much sums up the later space missions.

One can say that Carnicero recognizes verisimilitude in having the mission be an American one. While we in the United States are accustomed to having space novels take place with American ships and crews (though this is changing), near-future novels from other countries did not have the luxury of having their characters be familiar countrymen. And the near-future setting and the long introspective passages, as well as the lack of a lot of techno- babble, makes MANDEN FLORES A LA LUNA more in the style of Michael Crichton and Martin Caidin than an "Analog"-style story.

However, for a short novella, it does have a lot of padding in the middle. Almost a third of it consists of agonized waiting on earth when contact is lost with the ship. And the very "Twilight Zone" ending is totally at odds with the rest of the story.

[I realize that readers will not be able to go out to their local used bookstore and pick up a copy of this. However, as a glimpse into science fiction in the rest of the world in the 1970s, it seemed worth covering.]

THE CROQUET PLAYER by H. G. Wells (ISBN 978-0-803-29842-2) is atypical Wells, more in the style of M. R. James, or even Henry James, if one thinks of THE TURN OF THE SCREW. It is Wells's attempt to write an atmospheric ghost story, but whether one thinks it a successful attempt is a matter of taste. It is difficult, after all, to abandon a writing style that has been honed on the rational in order to convey the irrational. The comparison to Henry James seems apt, since Wells and James were in a dispute over whether it was better to write about events in the physical world, or psychological states in the mental world. Henry James was the brother of philosopher William James, who wrote THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE, so perhaps his bent towards internal states ran in the family. [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper
Quote of the Week:
          The Ancient Mariner would not have taken so well 
          if it had been called The Old Sailor.
                                 --Samuel Butler

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