MT VOID 11/13/20 -- Vol. 39, No. 20, Whole Number 2145

MT VOID 11/13/20 -- Vol. 39, No. 20, Whole Number 2145

@@@@@ @   @ @@@@@    @     @ @@@@@@@   @       @  @@@@@ @@@@@ @@@
  @   @   @ @        @ @ @ @    @       @     @   @   @   @   @  @
  @   @@@@@ @@@@     @  @  @    @        @   @    @   @   @   @   @
  @   @   @ @        @     @    @         @ @     @   @   @   @  @
  @   @   @ @@@@@    @     @    @          @      @@@@@ @@@@@ @@@
Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society 11/13/20 -- Vol. 39, No. 20, Whole Number 2145

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

ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN (1958) (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper):

This is one of those films that has become a low-grade camp classic. While it is not as incompetent as some of the films of this period, the campy title certainly drew attention to the film and the abysmal special effects which ironically have an attraction all their own. If this film had a reasonable filmmaker behind it, it would probably be nearly forgotten by now.

ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN opens with reports of a strange flying object seen several places over the globe. It comes to rest at the edge of the California desert. Nancy Archer (played by Allison Hayes) is driving through the desert and sees the object, looking like a thirty-foot jawbreaker. As she stares at it, we see a huge (and somewhat rubbery) hand reach down to her car. She returns to the local town in hysterics. Her philandering husband Harry (William Hudson) hears that she is in town in a hysterical state. She claims that a thirty-foot giant was trying to get her diamond necklace. It has the "world's most famous diamond," the 563-carat Star of India. How she got the huge diamond is never explained.

The local police humor her since she is the wealthiest person in the community, but no evidence is found. The film devolves quickly into a fairly mundane melodrama of a no-good philandering husband who cheats on his rich wife with the local good-time girl Honey Parker (Yvette Vickers). Harry wants to have her institutionalized as insane so that he can inherit her fifty million dollars. At first Harry really believes Nancy is insane until he goes with her into the desert and actually sees the alien "satellite." Harry abandons her to the alien and drives to town, but later she is found still alive, though comatose. Honey talks Harry into killing his wife, but when he goes to do it he finds she has grown to fifty feet in size as an effect of contact with the alien. The sheriff and Nancy's butler find giant footprints and track them to the spacecraft, which is full of steam. Inside it seems to have a collection of diamonds in glass globes. The alien chases them out of the spacecraft and destroys their car, then they look somewhat bewildered by the experience. He returns to his craft and flies off. Nancy returns to consciousness and goes to town to find Harry. She tears apart the town, killing Honey and dragging away Harry. As she walks close to a power pole with an electrical transformer, the sheriff shoots it and it explodes killing Nancy. As the sheriff points out, she finally has Harry to herself. The script is by Mark Hanna who the previous year wrote The Amazing Colossal Man and managed to outdo the lameness of that script writing a sort of companion film. It even has a major actor in common, William Hudson who played the scientist Dr. Linstrom in that film.

ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN was directed by Nathan Hertz, a pseudonym for Nathan Juran who the previous year directed THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD. He clearly did not want to use his full name, and who can blame him. In spite of the bad material, Juran manages to get at least acceptable performance from all concerned, with the possible exception of the alien. If there is one place to look for quality in ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN, it is in the acting. In the title role is Allison Hayes, who had made four fantasy film the previous year, THE DISEMBODIED, THE UNDEAD, THE UNEARTHLY, and ZOMBIES OF MORA TAU. This is the role for which she is best known, though it probably was not much of a stretch for her. William Hudson had made previously films like DESTINATION TOKYO, STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND, MISTER ROBERTS, and MY MAN GODFREY.

The first bad visual in the film is a route sign looks like it came from an art department, not a highway department. Things will get much, much worse. The script calls the spherical object a "satellite" again and again. Of course it is not a satellite, it is more similar to the bubble that Glinda the Good Witch of the North uses to zip around Oz. What little we see of the alien is on a film stock that is either better lit than most of the other footage or is on a different film stock since it looks like it is bleached white. The alien we see is rather impoverished-looking-- simply a bald man in funny clothing. When Nancy grows to fifty feet in her own bedroom, we see no signs that she is crowded by the walls of her normal-sized bedroom. When we see the inside of the space craft, it is decorated beaverboard and seems too small to allow the alien to move around. When we see the alien he is outside the ship and when you see him full size, he appears to be translucent (except when you see just his hand). We get a better look at his uniform and see it to be a strange jacket with a picture of a bull on the back. Just why an alien would have a picture of a bull on his jacket is not explained. Nancy's hand is properly large but it looks like a large plush cushion. Showing Nancy walking to town, they use the same bad image-mixing effects. This is a great example of place where they only had to film her from a low angle to create the effect they needed. Instead they superimpose her image and get the same translucent effect that destroys all the bad effects in the film. Nancy's attack on the town is a classic of bad effects. The same translucent effect is prominent. When Nancy picks up Harry, it clearly looks like just a silly-looking doll. But there was something that attracted audiences and keeps attracting them to this film. Something about the giant Nancy tearing the town apart and calling "Harry!" keeps audiences coming back, but not for the most charitable of motives.

BEST TOUCH: Nathan Juran does a professional job, not common in films of this quality. There is not one mis-delivered line in the film.

WORST TOUCH: Ah, so much to choose from. Probably what bothered me most is the translucent alien with the bull on his jacket. What were they thinking of?

There is not much film here to warrant a second viewing here. Certainly it seems an unworthy choice for HBO to remake as they did in 1993. This film rates a low -2 on the -4 to +4 scale.

Turner Classic Movies is running this on December 3, 1:00 PM. [-mrl]

Fictional Starship Size Comparisons (letter of comment by Guy Ferraiolo):

Very cool. Includes real ships with sizes and common objects such as people and autos for comparison. Some of the very large ones seem gratuitous. Covers a wide range of books, movies, and games, worth investigating.

Clearly an immense amount of work went into this.


THE ORDER OF TIME by Carlo Rovelli (book review by Gregory Frederick):

A very intriguing and complex subject is covered in this science book titled THE ORDER OF TIME. The author is an Italian theoretical physicist whose specialty is quantum gravity. The book does a deep dive into what time really is. Newton thought that two forms of time existed. Newton assumed there is a form of time called true time which is a constant quantity anywhere in the universe that is independent of things and their changes. This is the time Newton uses in his equations for example. It is like there is a universal clock which follows this equal and uniform flowing of true time. And this would seem normal to most people because it is what we have learned in school. But soon the author informs us that according to Einstein's theories of relativity time is not independent and can slow down for you if you are nearer to a large mass like the Earth or if you are traveling at a higher speed. If you are on top a large mountain your time will be move faster than a person on the ground.

Things get even more complex when you understand that we do not live in a smooth continuous universe as Einstein states in his theories. We live in a discontinuous quantum universe. In this view time is not a real entity only processes that transform physical quantities from one to another exist. But later in the book the author leads us to a better understanding of time. He indicates that our interaction with the world is blurred and also has quantum indeterminacy involved too. This ignorance leads to a variable he calls thermal time which is related to entropy.

This book really challenges you and makes you think more deeply about time but is written in an approachable manner for the lay person. [-gf]

THE ARABIAN NIGHTS (letters of comment by Peter Trei, Scott Dorsey, Dorothy J. Heydt, Keith F. Lynch, and Radovan Garabik):

In response to Evelyn's comments on the Richard Francis Burton translation of THE ARABIAN NIGHTS in the 11/06/20 issue of the MT VOID, Peter Trei writes:

You might want to look into the different translations available. I've heard that Burton was short on cash, and made his translation as salacious as possible in pursuit of sales. [-pt]

Scott Dorsey responds:

Yes, but, by modern standards, it isn't really that salacious. The commentary is actually much more amusing in that regard than the text.

The Madrus and Mather's translation is in a much more modern style and may be considered more readable, but the Burton translation is what most of the West thinks of when they think of the NIGHTS. [-sd]

Dorothy J. Heydt writes:

ISTR that his wife burned the MS. because it was so salacious. [-djh]

Keith F. Lynch asks:

Then how was his translation published? [-kfl]

Scott answers:

That was his revised translation of THE PERFUMED GARDEN OF THE SHEIKH NEFZAWI which was made from an original Arabic text. He had before published a version which had been made by retranslating a French translation due to his earlier inability to get access to an original text.

The earlier published translation was plenty salacious but it omits a chapter on homosexuality which the French translator had decided not to include. Reportedly the major difference between the lost version and the earlier published version was that chapter. [-sd]

Keith replies:

I thought Muslims never did that, or at least never admitted doing it since it carried the death penalty.

Radovan Garabik responds:

Muslim attitude towards LGBT were perhaps somewhat more lenient than traditional Christian ones, though quite comparable (after all, the first sacred books are shared among the religions). But while Christianity slowly lost its grip on the western society, Islam is still strong in some countries and homosexuality became a signaling issue.

OTOH, unlike Christianity, Islam explicitly recognize[sd] and tolerate[ds] transsexual (and even transvestite) persons. See [Arabic word for "hermaphrodite"].

ObSF: Islam in Accelerando by Charles Stross [-rg]

Scott replies:

That sort of thing does not happen in the Royal Navy! And when I mean it does not happen, I mean it hardly ever happens. And when I say it hardly ever happens I mean it happens a whole lot. [-sd]

Evelyn notes:

I haven't gotten very far yet, but my understanding is that 1) not everyone in the store in THE ARABIAN NIGHTS is Muslim, and 2) not everyone is good. For example, the very first section explaining the back story has all sorts of adultery in it. [-ecl]

Peter adds:

Also, remember that for THE ARABIAN NIGHTS, there is no canonical Arab text; It's a large collection of sometimes linked, sometimes independent stories, and there are several manuscripts, each with somewhat different tales. [-pt]

Scott responds:

Yes, and Burton comments on how different manuscripts have different versions of the same story. In the "Supplementary Nights" he translates a few of the alternate versions as well. I think he made an attempt to get as many different manuscripts as possible to compile as many stories as he could, in spite of the Bodleian not wanting to loan to him. [-sd]

Escaped Cloned Female Mutant Crayfish (letters of comment by Kevin R and Dorothy J. Heydt):

In response to Evelyn's comments on escaped cloned female mutant crayfish in the 11/06/20 issue of the MT VOID, Kevin R writes: The Telegraph story quoted refers to...


....popularity as a cheap source of protein.


Obviously, as an act of international amity, we here in the USA should send a contingent of the Cajun Navy and however-many cooks whose crawdad-boiling operations have been shut down by social distancing to give those mudbugs the fate they deserve--guest of honor for dinner! [-kr]

Dorothy J. Heydt responds:

Sounds great! Except I don't know what the COVID situation is like in Belgium at present; they may be social-distancing too.

But once the pandemic is over, yes, send mail to President Biden's staff and suggest it. [-djh]

Snuff Mull (letter of comment by John Kerr-Mudd):

In response to Mark's comments on entropy in the 11/06/20 issue of the MT VOID, John Kerr-Mudd writes:

[Mark wrote,] "If you put red marbles and green marbles in a large Tupperware snuff mull and shake them up and look inside, it is unlikely that all the green marbles are together and all the red marbles are together. The highest probability is that they will be mixed together and no amount of shaking the mull will separate them." [-mrl]

A Mull? Is that the nightmare full version of a Mullet hairdo?

Even doesn't know about it; unless it's a specialised bit of plastic for the chicken dish

Your search for "mull" did not yield any results. shows a Scottish horn used as a snuff container; rather a specialist item IMHO. Esp at #200 a go. [-jkm]

Evelyn writes:

But indeed, the Scottish horn was that to which Mark was referring. We had seen one in a Scottish castle not long before he wrote the original entropy article. Undoubtedly Mark chose it to represent the wide range of Tupperware available. [-ecl]

Una O'Connor (letter of comment by Daniel M. Kimmel):

In response to Mark's comments on Una O'Connor in the 11/06/20 issue of the MT VOID, Daniel M. Kimmel writes:

No, Mark, Una O'Connor was NOT the "Jar Jar Binks of her age." She was a character actress who often played frantic/frightened roles, but she was never one of the main characters who was so annoying that it almost destroyed a franchise. [-dmk]

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

I recently watched the Robert Altman adaptation of THE LONG GOODBYE by Raymond Chandler (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard ISBN 978-0-394- 75768-1). This is one of my favorite Chandler novels, because I find the character of Terry Lennox fascinating. However, the film leaves a lot to be desired.

First of all, though the book is set in the late 1940s, the film appears to be set in a later period (based on clothing, hair styles, etc.) However, the cars and the rates Marlowe quotes are still of the 1940s.

In the books, Marlowe did not have a cat. In the film, he has a cat. This seems a very un-Marlowe touch, especially since his work often requires him to be away from home for long stretches. The Marlowe of the film also has a cheese planer? Why on earth would Marlowe own a cheese planer? And by this point in the novels, Marlowe is living in a house, not an apartment.

The movie drops the whole first part of the book, where Marlowe meets Terry Lennox, which leaves one wondering just how long they've known each other, etc. Instead, it starts with Lennox going to Mexico.

It also changes names, with Lenny Potts instead of Paul Marsden, and Marty Augustine instead of Manny Menendez. The whole relationship between Wade and the clinic is different. Oh, and there was no naked scene in the book.

**SPOILER** But the biggest change is that the film changes the ending, in particular, it changes who is guilty of what. Unconscionable! [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

          Not one man in a beer commercial has a beer belly.
                                          --Rita Rudner

Go to our home page THE MT VOID