MT VOID 03/13/20 -- Vol. 38, No. 37, Whole Number 2110

MT VOID 03/13/20 -- Vol. 38, No. 37, Whole Number 2110

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society 03/13/20 -- Vol. 38, No. 37, Whole Number 2110

Table of Contents

      Co-Editor: Mark Leeper, Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, Sending Address: 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 or unsubscribe, send mail to The latest issue is at An index with links to the issues of the MT VOID since 1986 is at

Submissions to the MT VOID:

Just a few comments on submissions to the MT VOID:

The MT VOID is finalized early on Wednesday morning, so anything that arrives later than that will not appear until at least the next week.

The best way to send anything is to send it to both Mark and me, as I do most of the assembling and he does most of the commenting. You can address it to That address appears in the colophon each week.

Articles, letters, etc, should be sent as text (txt or doc) files. They should not have italics, smart quotes, diacritical marks, images, or anything other than plain ASCII characters. Yeah, I know, that's so 20th Century, but that's how we do it: we start with a plain ASCII text file, and convert that to other formats as needed. It's also easier if you haven't put carriage-returns or line feeds in (other than paragraphing). We reserve the right to "accidently" misplace any submission that does not follow these standards and would require a lot of time to re-format. (We no longer spit on such submissions because our La-Z-Boy was acquiring unsightly stains.) [-ecl and -mrl]

Mini-Reviews, Part 4 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper):

Yet more mini-reviews:

THE SPY BEHIND HOME PLATE: For years I have been curious to learn more about Moe Berg. There have been books about Berg, who was a sort of Renaissance man on his own. He picked up foreign languages incredibly fast. He became a catcher for several Major League Baseball teams. Oddly, this led him to being a spy for the OSS. Later he studied the effects of nuclear weapons on civilians. THE SPY BEHIND HOME PLATE tells the story of Moe Berg. There are two kinds of goal for a documentary. A documentary can deliver a payload of information the audience did not know. In this case it need not have a great poetic beauty. It is a message container. On the other hand it can have a lyric beauty, in which case it may not tell any great information. This film uses a very traditional format of film footage and talking heads. But the story of Moe Berg is incredible It is amazing what Berg did, and it makes for an amazing story. Rating: low +3 (-4 to +4).

LITTLE JOE: This is a good science fiction in an ugly container. It is sort of an earthbound INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. A laboratory is developing a new decorative plant which is also an herb. The lab is growing a crop of the little plant to be sure it is safe from causing allergic reactions. It also affects the human nervous system to make human happy. That adds up to a plant that controls humans. It essentially makes humans do its bidding. The background is irritating and slow, but is clever enough to make the film worth seeing. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4).


FOUNDATION'S EDGE (letter of comment by Fred Lerner):

In response to Evelyn's comments on FOUNDATION'S EDGE in the 03/06/20 issue of the MT VOID, Fred Lerner writes:

[Evelyn wrote,] "Someone refers to himself as a groundhog; did colonists really take groundhogs throughout the galaxy?" [-ecl]

Of course they did. How else could they forecast the weather? [-fl]

WHILE NERO FIDDLED (letter of comment by Paul Dormer):

In response to Evelyn's comments on WHILE NERO FIDDLED in the 03/06/20 issue of the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:

I think I've only seen clips from [WHILE NERO FIDDLED], back in the sixties on a compilation programme on TV of the Golden Age of British Comedy. But it's the sort of film that the BBC would have shown in the Fifties and Sixties.

It starred Tommy Trinder, who was an immensely popular comedian of the period. The same year he made a film called CHAMPAGNE CHARLIE about two rival music hall entertainers in Victorian London. I have seen this quite recently. Not much plot, but some great songs. (One of the songs is by the eccentric British composer Lord Berners and I have it on a CD of some of his music.) [-pd]


In response to various comments in recent issues of the MT VOID, Heath Row writes:

Hello from southern California! I received The MT Void Vol. 38 #11-12 and 14 through the N3F franking service and read a printout of them while waiting for my son during his flute lesson. I enjoyed them thoroughly and particularly appreciate the ASCII art banner, which reminded me of e-zines and Usenet circa 1991.

This past weekend, my wife, son and I went to a stage production of FRANKENSTEIN at UCLA intended for radio broadcast as an audio drama. It pretty closely followed the novel rather than the Universal movies, so Frankie did not have a flat head. In fact, the creature was voiced by Stacy Keach! It was put on by LA Theatre Works, which records live theater and staged readings to air on the radio, as well as online. You can check it out at, but Frankenstein isn't available yet.

Evelyn's review of THE LADY FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, which just came out in paperback, offers good advice. Seems like the author had several books they could have written--and that the resulting book doesn't really accomplish any of the goals well.

The movie AUGGIE reminds me a little of the movie HER, only without the virtual embodiment aspect. Might make for an interesting pairing.

Dale Skran's review of RIVERDALE might very well be the best piece written about the show I've read--not that I've read a ton about the show. I had no idea there was a Red Circle connection, and I would really enjoy a series of MLJ Comics or Archie Comics superhero programs. Just imagine a show based on the Ditko issues of "The Fly"! I watched the show when it first aired but dropped off after a few episodes. I might have to return to it based on Skran's perspective! I know I'm writing this loc four months later, so he might have already shared his thoughts, but I'm curious what he thinks about the new "Nancy Drew" show.

And finally, Evelyn's comments on Palaephatus are fascinating. I don't read Greek or French, but it sounds like PERI APISTON should be more widely available and read.

You might get a kick out of this. I've always thought of your zine as Mount Void and just today for the first time ever, tonight, realized that it's also "the empty void." Oh, geez. [-hr]

Evelyn responds:

It's probably time to include this again:

The MT VOID started out in 1978 as the newsletter of the newly- founded Science Fiction Club at Bell Labs. The club was eventually referred to as the "Mt. Holz Science Fiction Club", from the inter- company mail designations for the three locations of AT&T, Lucent, Avaya, etc., where we once had meetings:

	MT	Middletown
	HO	Holmdel
	LZ	Lincroft

We worked in Middletown and so named the zine the MT VOID, pronounced "em-tee void".

When we, and thousands of others, retired in 2001, the club basically ceased to exist. However, the zine kept rolling along, now at its (checks heading) 2110th issue. Hoping not to jinx it, I will note we haven't missed a Friday publication in decades, having sent it from an Internet cafe in South Africa, a hotel in Venice, a cruise ship in Greece, someplace with power during Hurricane Sandy, and a hospital bed (when I had a broken hip). We did once send it a day early, before we headed into a WiFi-free zone around Crater Lake. [-ecl]

Retro Hugo Awards, Sonnets, Gmail Glitch?, Steve Stiles (letter of comment by Kip Williams):

In response to Evelyn's comments on films eligible for the Retro Hugo Awards this year in the 03/06/20 issue of the MT VOID, Kip Williams writes:

I've enjoyed THE CANTERVILLE GHOST on TV more than once. Laughton is pretty much okay, O'Brien is a standout, and Young is okay. My favorite scene is the jitterbug number, where GIs dance with GIs, and with O'Brien. The thee-ing and thou-ing always grates because nobody ever seems to understand that there are rules, and you don't just throw those things in there like the -eth ending in a Three Stooges comedy.

If THE PHANTOM is the 1943 serial, here's most of it. Looks like the later parts might skip from Chapter 11 to Chapter 15, but by that time, you probably would do the same: . (Not to brag, but I Farbered it in 3.81 seconds.)

Also, congratulate me for taking third place in a local sonnet contest sponsored by the Shakespeare Society, out of a field of seven. I believe this officially makes me a Third-Rate Poet!

On a technical note, the end of your zine sometimes gets cut off in my GMail, even if there are only one or two lines after the cutoff point. I don't know if this has anything to do with the length, or if it just does it for clicks or something. It didn't happen the last couple of times, if I recall.

Personal note: I dreamt I saw Steve Stiles last night. He and Elaine had exploited some loophole that made it possible for them to throw a big wake with dozens of fans at their house, just like a small convention. Dream, schmeam; I was glad to give him a send- off, as long as he had to go. (I also watched his memorial service, which was streamed.) [-kw]

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

One more comment on THE HANDMAID'S TALE by Margaret Atwood (Anchor, ISBN 978-0-385-49081-8) (reviewed in the 02/21/20 issue of the MT VOID) [SPOILERS]:

One of the people in my discussion group seemed to think that the fact the cassettes were found in the safe house in Maine indicates that Offred did not make it to Canada, or she would have taken the cassettes with her. My feeling is that the fact that the cassettes were found in Maine really tells us nothing, except that Offred probably wasn't caught in the safe house in Maine, since I assume her captors would have searched the house (and probably burned it).

When she left it to flee to Canada, it would make a lot more sense to *leave* the cassettes than to take them:

- If she made it to Canada, she could always recreate them, under better conditions.

- If she was caught on the way to Canada, her captors would not also have the cassettes--they would still be in the safe house where they might still be of use.

One could argue that the fact that the researchers in the epilogue know Offred only from the cassettes in Maine might indicate that she did not make it to Canada, since there is no other record of her. Then again, there are plenty of diaries, etc., that get lost over a period of hundreds of years.

On the whole, then, the mere existence of the tapes in Maine tells us nothing.

I wrote about LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott (Dover, ISBN 978-0- 486-82806-0) in the 01/24/20 issue, but I just watched the BBC mini-series and it occurs to me that Alcott uses many tropes from Jane Austen's SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. For example, in both books a daughter is deathly ill and the mother is sent for (in person in SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, by telegram in LITTLE WOMEN), rushes to be by her daughter's side and arrives to be told that the daughter has just turned the corner and will recover.

And there is also the idea that one can easily transfer one's affections from someone to their sibling (Lucy Steele transfers her affections from Edward Steele to his brother Robert, and Laurie loves Jo but then decides he love Amy). One can argue that Lucy is basically a gold-digger and never loved either, but still... [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

          You may have a dog that won't sit up, roll over or even 
          cook breakfast, not because she's too stupid to learn how 
          but because she's too smart to bother. 
                                          --Rick Horowitz

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