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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society 04/10/20 -- Vol. 38, No. 41, Whole Number 2114
Table of Contents
Hugo, Retro Hugo, Lodestar, and Astounding Awards Finalists:
The lists of Hugo, Retro Hugo, Lodestar, and Astounding Award Finalists are at the end of this issue.
Interpreting Science (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
A friend sent to me a quote from pundit Ben Shapiro:
"One thing is certain: Things cannot continue as they have been. Americans are not going to stay home for months on end, and they certainly will not do so on the basis of ever-evolving models, especially as statistics roll in that look like the lower-end model estimates in terms of death and the upper-end estimates in terms of economic damage. We need transparency and honesty from our scientific experts--we need to know what they know, what they don't, and when they hope to know what they don't. We're grown-ups, and we're willing to follow their advice. But they need to start answering serious questions, or they will fall prey to the same lack of institutional faith to which all other American institutions seem deeply prone."
I think he is saying that there is a solution to our problem out there and it is a failing of the medical community to not find it. I keep asking myself, what if a cure takes years to find or if we never find one?
I think that the US public is coming into this crisis with too many people thinking you can interpret the science however it is convenient to interpret it. Too many people did that with climate change. Now they are saying that with the virus. They think we can demand the problem to go away. I am frustrated with the slow progress on the problem, but it may come down to a genuine existential threat. Blaming the people who are working on the problem could well be totally useless and only making things worse. It is like being in a traffic jam and trying to fix the problem by honking your horn. [-mrl]
AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS by H. P. Lovecraft (copyright 1936, 2013 Blackstone Audio, narrated by Edward Herrmann) (audiobook review by Joe Karpierz):
Since I was young, I've been interested in Gothic horror. Like many people my age, I would run home from school every day to catch the latest episode of Gothic horror soap opera Dark Shadows. That show is what hooked me on that particular sub-genre. However, once Dark Shadows was cancelled, for some reason I lost interest. I had the vague notion in the back of my mind that I like ghost stories, vampires, monsters, and psychological terror. I was never interested in the graphic, bloody, splatterpunk type of story. Atmospheric stories were the ones I liked; I immensely enjoyed the movie THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, with all of the scary stuff happening just off-screen.
Somewhere between Dark Shadows and Blair Witch I finally heard of H. P. Lovecraft. I expect that it was in college, when I first started playing Dungeons and Dragons; our dungeon master was referring to some entity called Cthulhu. I was curious, but never enough to pick up anything by Lovecraft. At either the Toronto or Denver Worldcon I finally gave in to my curiosity and bought a copy of the massive Lovecraft story collection Necronomicon (a reference, of course, to a famous book within his mythology). Seeing that I had a copy in my hands at the dealer and waiting to pay for it, writer Charles Stross pointed at it and said something like "now THAT is going to warp your mind".
I never got around to reading it.
Sometime within the last year I was able to get an inexpensive copy of an audiobook of AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS. Looking for something short to listen to before this year's Hugo finalists were announced (which will be happening 3 days after I write this), I decided to give it a listen (Side note--good thing I did. I was most of the way through it when the shelter in place order came from the governor of Illinois because of COVID-19 and I stopped commuting to work, which is when I listened to audiobooks).
I have mixed feelings about it.
Most folks steeped in genre tradition know the story. It is of an expedition to the Antarctic, where the narrator and his companion discover a lost city of an ancient civilization that came to Earth long ago--not long after the time the Moon was formed--and the horrors that surround that civilization. They discover the civilization after an advance scouting party went mysteriously silent. When the narrator and his companion came to investigate, they discovered the remains of most of the advance party as well as the remains of some strange creatures. Via aeroplane, they traverse a mountain range higher than any other known to man, and discover the civilization of the Elder Things, and the horrors that they encountered.
The narrator and his companion uncover the story by reading carvings and hieroglyphs, which tells of the coming of the Old Ones and their created slaves, the shoggoths. This all happened tens of millions of years in the past. The eventually flee in terror, and see what they believe as a shoggoth. The narrator is documenting all of this in the hopes of persuading a much more well-documented expedition from even attempting to go to the Antarctic.
I know this story is considered by many to be quintessential Lovecraft. I was ... unimpressed. I found some of the things deduced by the narrator somewhat unbelievable--I had no idea how he came to certain conclusions. And it was not frightening to say the least. Maybe I'm old and jaded, but then again I find the audio narration of Bram Stoker's Dracula more terrifying than this, and it was written in a much earlier time frame. Will I consume more Lovecraft? Oh, probably. I'll just be coming at it from a different perspective than I did this time.
Edward Herrmann, the narrator, did well enough. Given that this was a first person account, he didn't have to perform multiple voices. He did his best to give great weight and atmosphere to the story, and I think he did fine, and in my opinion he did the best he could with the material he had to work with.
I've been gravitating to shorter fiction these days, as I've gotten tired of the long format novels. Maybe it's time to pick up Necronomicon and getter a better taste of Lovecraft's fiction. [-jak]
Day of the Animals (letters of comment by Ash Marie and Peter Trei):
In response to Mark's comments on hippos in the 04/03/20 issue of the MT VOID, Ash Marie writes:
This list of plagues made my morning. Notably:
Two months after the terrifying sentence "hippos have become an invasive species," we get this second, unparalleled headline [ https://www.cnet.com/news/pablo-escobars-cocaine-hippos-may-benefit-colombias-ecosystem/]:
"Pablo Escobar's 'cocaine hippos' may benefit Colombia's environment"
It includes such jewels as describing hippos as "difficult to catch and dangerous to confront" (well, yes, notoriously); this really indescribable quote:
"Shurin says the hippos in Colombia should still be removed or contained and their effects on the native biodiversity are still unknown. 'Like other plagues recently in the news, they can be controlled more cheaply, effectively and humanely early on when they're rare, rather than later when they're everywhere,' he says."
...and asking, perhaps rhetorically, what effect thousands of hippos in the next twenty years would have on the landscape of Colombia.
My roommate has suggested relocating them to Florida and pitting them against the unstoppable python menace. Truly a joyful Friday morning in this house. [-am]
In response to Mark's comments on animals in general in that issue, Peter Trei writes:
There's also the 2015 TV series 'Zoo', which has exactly this trope--animals all over the world start attacking humans. Somehow, this was spun out to three seasons.
[And regarding hippos specifically:]
This was the topic of a recent Science Friday segment on NPR.
There's debate over getting rid of them, with some scientists pointing out that they are filling an ecological niche left vacant when hunters from Asia at the end of the last Ice Age exterminated the native megafauna. [-pt]
Dogs and Cats (letter of comment by Dorothy J. Heydt):
In response to John Purcell's comments on dogs and cats in the 04/03/20 issue of the MT VOID, Dorothy J. Heydt writes:
There are many, many examples of dogs and cats being best buddies (and napmates) on
and its parent site,
It reminds me of a passage in, I think, C. S. Lewis's THE FOUR LOVES where somebody says, "You'd be surprised how often dogs and cats get along together," and the other guy says, "Yeah, but I bet the dog never admits it to the other dogs."
"Done deal now. Take care of yourselves during the current apocalypse--collect the whole series!--and remember the words of that great Canadian philosopher, Red Green, "We're all in this together. I'm pulling for ya." [-jp]
I'll go along with that. [-djh]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
[Comments on the Hugo Award, Retro Hugo Award, and other award finalists will appear next week.]
I find myself without a complete review this week. This doesn't mean I am not reading; it means I'm in the middle of a lot of books. I'm reading Boccaccio's DECAMERON along with the "Classical Stuff You Should Know" podcast, but at a story a day, it will be over three months before I am finished.
I have already said something about John Brockman's WHAT TO THINK ABOUT MACHINES THAT THINK, but I'm still reading that at only a couple of articles a day.
The same process is true of Michael Dirda's BOUND TO PLEASE, a collection of dozens of essays and book reviews of classics, biographies, and historical non-fiction. One cannot just plow through a book like this.
Other books I have finished but have little to comment on.
Thomas Nagel's WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? covers many of the basic questions of philosophy (e.g., how do you know anything?), but at a fairly elementary level.
I read David Brin's FOUNDATION'S TRIUMPH, but find I have nothing to say about it.
Dave Hutchinson's EUROPE IN AUTUMN is the first book of a tetralogy, and what I think is the central premise of the series is not even revealed until the last quarter of the book.
Lucian of Samosata's TRUE HISTORY was recommended in the Dirda book above, but I found it not very engaging. It's sort of Homer's "Odyssey" crossed with Swift's GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, but not up to either. [-ecl]
Hugo, Retro Hugo, Lodestar, and Astounding Awards Finalists:
Finalists for the Hugo, Retro Hugo, Lodestar, and Astounding Awards. Hugo Awards Best Novel The City in the Middle of the Night, Charlie Jane Anders The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow The Light Brigade, Kameron Hurley A Memory Called Empire, Arkady Martine Middlegame, Seanan McGuire Gideon the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir Best Novella To Be Taught, If Fortunate, Becky Chambers "Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom", Ted Chiang (Exhalation) The Haunting of Tram Car 015, P. Djeli Clark This Is How You Lose the Time War, Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone (Saga) In an Absent Dream, Seanan McGuire The Deep, Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson & Jonathan Snipes Best Novelette "For He Can Creep", Siobhan Carroll (Tor.com 7/10/19) "Omphalos", Ted Chiang (Exhalation) "Away with the Wolves", Sarah Gailey (Uncanny 9-10/19) "Emergency Skin", N.K. Jemisin (Forward) "The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye", Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny 7-8/19) "The Archronology of Love", Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed 4/19) Best Short Story "Do Not Look Back, My Lion", Alix E. Harrow (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 1/31/19) "As the Last I May Know", S.L. Huang (Tor.com 10/23/19) "And Now His Lordship Is Laughing", Shiv Ramdas (Strange Horizons 9/9/19) "Ten Excerpts from an Annotated Bibliography on the Cannibal Women of Ratnabar Island", Nibedita Sen (Nightmare 5/19) "Blood Is Another Word for Hunger", Rivers Solomon (Tor.com 7/24/19) "A Catalog of Storms", Fran Wilde (Uncanny 1-2/19) Best Series Winternight, Katherine Arden The Expanse, James S.A. Corey Luna, Ian McDonald InCryptid, Seanan McGuire Planetfall, Emma Newman Wormwood, Tade Thompson Best Related Work Joanna Russ, Gwyneth Jones The Pleasant Profession of Robert A Heinlein, Farah Mendlesohn "2019 John W. Campbell Award Acceptance Speech", Jeannette Ng The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent Patrick, Mallory O'Meara Becoming Superman: My Journey From Poverty to Hollywood, J. Michael Straczynski Worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin Best Graphic Story or Comic Die, Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker, Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Stephanie Hans (Image) The Wicked + The Divine, Volume 9: Okay, Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Jamie McKelvie & Matt Wilson (Image Comics) Monstress, Volume 4: The Chosen, Marjorie Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda (Image) LaGuardia, Nnedi Okorafor, illustrated by Tana Ford, colours by James Devlin (Berger Books/Dark Horse) Paper Girls, Volume 6, Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang & Matt Wilson (Image) Mooncakes, Wendy Xu & Suzanne Walker (Oni Press; Lion Forge) Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form Avengers: Endgame Captain Marvel Good Omens Russian Doll, Season One Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Us Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form Doctor Who: "Resolution" The Expanse: "Cibola Burn" The Good Place: "The Answer" The Mandalorian: "Redemption" Watchmen: "A God Walks into Abar" Watchmen: "This Extraordinary Being" Best Editor, Short Form Neil Clarke Ellen Datlow C.C. Finlay Jonathan Strahan Lynne M. Thomas & Michael Damian Thomas Sheila Williams Best Editor, Long Form Sheila Gilbert Brit Hvide Diana M. Pho Devi Pillai Miriam Weinberg Navah Wolfe Best Professional Artist Tommy Arnold Rovina Cai Galen Dara John Picacio Yuko Shimizu Alyssa Winans Best Semiprozine Beneath Ceaseless Skies Escape Pod Fireside FIYAH Strange Horizons Uncanny Best Fanzine The Book Smugglers Galactic Journey Journey Planet nerds of a feather, flock together Quick Sip Reviews The Rec Center Best Fancast Be the Serpent The Coode Street Podcast Galactic Suburbia Our Opinions Are Correct Claire Rousseau's YouTube channel The Skiffy and Fanty Show Best Fan Writer Cora Buhlert James Davis Nicoll Alasdair Stuart Bogi Takacs Paul Weimer Adam Whitehead Best Fan Artist Iain Clark Sara Felix Grace P. Fong Meg Frank Ariela Housman Elise Matthesen Lodestar for Best Young Adult Book (Not a Hugo) The Wicked King, Holly Black Deeplight, Frances Hardinge Minor Mage, T. Kingfisher Catfishing on CatNet, Naomi Kritzer Dragon Pearl, Yoon Ha Lee Riverland, Fran Wilde Astounding Award for Best New Writer (Not a Hugo) Sam Hawke* R.F. Kuang* Jenn Lyons Nibedita Sen* Tasha Suri* Emily Tesh *Second year of eligibility 1945 Retro Hugo Awards Best Novel "Shadow Over Mars", Leigh Brackett (Startling Stories Fall '44) Land of Terror, Edgar Rice Burroughs The Golden Fleece, Robert Graves "The Winged Man", E. Mayne Hull & A.E. Van Vogt (Astounding Science Fiction 5-6/44) The Wind on the Moon, Eric Linklater Sirius, Olaf Stapledon Best Novella "The Jewel of Bas", Leigh Brackett (Planet Stories Spring '44) "A God Named Kroo", Henry Kuttner (Thrilling Wonder Stories Winter '44) "Trog", Murray Leinster (Astounding Science Fiction 6/44) "Intruders from the Stars", Ross Rocklynne (Amazing Stories 1/44) "Killdozer!", Theodore Sturgeon (Astounding Science Fiction 11/44) "The Changeling", A.E. van Vogt (Astounding Science Fiction 4/44) Best Novelette "The Big and the Little", Isaac Asimov (Astounding 8/44) "Arena", Fredric Brown (Astounding 6/44) "No Woman Born", C.L. Moore (Astounding 12/44) "The Children's Hour", Lawrence O'Donnell (C.L. Moore & Henry Kuttner) (Astounding 3/44) "When the Bough Breaks", Lewis Padgett (C.L. Moore & Henry Kuttner) (Astounding 11/44) "City", Clifford D. Simak (Astounding 5/44) Best Short Story "The Wedge", Isaac Asimov (Astounding 10/44) "I, Rocket", Ray Bradbury (Amazing Stories 5/44) "And the Gods Laughed", Fredric Brown (Planet Stories Spring '44) "Desertion", Clifford D. Simak (Astounding 11/44) "Huddling Place", Clifford D. Simak (Astounding 7/44) "Far Centaurus", A.E. van Vogt (Astounding 1/44) Best Series Pellucidar, Edgar Rice Burroughs Jules de Grandin, Seabury Quinn The Shadow, Maxwell Gibson (Walter B. Grant) Captain Future, Brett Sterling Doc Savage, Kenneth Robeson/Lester Dent Cthulhu Mythos, H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, and others Best Related Work "The Science-Fiction Field", Leigh Brackett (Writer's Digest 7/44) Mr. Tompkins Explores the Atom, George Gamow "The Works of H.P. Lovecraft: Suggestions for a Critical Appraisal", Fritz Leiber (The Acolyte Fall '44) Rockets: The Future of Travel Beyond the Stratosphere, Willy Ley Fancyclopedia, Jack Speer (Forrest J Ackerman) '42 To '44: A Contemporary Memoir Upon Human Behavior During the Crisis of the World Revolution, H.G. Wells Best Graphic Story or Comic Donald Duck: "The Mad Chemist", Carl Barks (Dell Comics) Buck Rogers: "Hollow Planetoid", Dick Calkins (National Newspaper Service) Flash Gordon: "Battle for Tropica", Alex Raymond (King Features Syndicate) Flash Gordon: "Triumph in Tropica", Alex Raymond (Kings Features Syndicate) Superman: "The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk", Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster (DC) The Spirit: "For the Love of Clara Defoe", Manly Wade Wellman, Lou Fine, and Don Komisarow Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form The Canterville Ghost The Curse of the Cat People Donovan's Brain House of Frankenstein The Invisible Man's Revenge It Happened Tomorrow Best Professional Editor, Short Form John W. Campbell, Jr. Oscar J. Friend Mary Gnaedinger Dorothy McIlwraith Raymond A. Palmer W. Scott Peacock Best Professional Artist Earle Bergey Margaret Brundage Boris Dolgov Matt Fox Paul Orban William Timmins Best Fanzine The Acolyte Diablerie Futurian War Digest Shangri L'Affaires Voice of the Imagi-Nation Le Zombie Best Fan Writer Fritz Leiber, Jr. Morojo (Myrtle R. Douglas) J. Michael Rosenblum Jack Speer Bob Tucker Harry Warner, Jr.
Mark Leeper email@example.com Quote of the Week: In the future, you're going to get computers as prizes in breakfast cereals. You'll throw them out because your house will be littered with them. -- Robert LuckyTweet
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