MT VOID 06/25/21 -- Vol. 39, No. 52, Whole Number 2177

MT VOID 06/25/21 -- Vol. 39, No. 52, Whole Number 2177

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society 06/25/21 -- Vol. 39, No. 52, Whole Number 2177

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

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

At this point, everything about future meetings of [the Middletown SF group] is tentative: date, day of the week, start & end times, location (outdoors/indoors, CommunityRoom/CompLab/smallroom), movie viewing, and even book/film choice. However, the schedule below is the best guess for now.

July 1 (MTPL), 5:00PM: SECONDS (1966) & novel by David Ely (1962)
July 22 (OBPL), 7:00PM: PROJECT HAIL MARY by Andy Weir
August 5 (MTPL), 5:00PM: A SCANNER DARKLY (2006) & novel 
	by Philip K. Dick (1977)
   movie: DVD MTPL; rent on PrimeVideo, Vudu, YouTube

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

On July 23, Turner Classic Movies is turning itself over to "Arabian Nights" fantasies:

06:00 AM    Kismet (1955)
08:00 AM    The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
09:15 AM    The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
11:15 AM    Bowery to Bagdad (1955)
12:30 PM    Arabian Tights (1933)
01:00 PM    The Golden Arrow (1964)
02:45 PM    Sinbad the Sailor (1947)
04:45 PM    Son of Sinbad (1955)
06:30 PM    Captain Sindbad (1963)
These fantasies are not seen in the West as frequently as vampire stories but are all based on a single albeit huge book of fantasy stories, THE ARABIAN NIGHTS (a.k.a. THE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS), with characters such as Sinbad, Aladdin, and Scheherazade.

There have been many versions and translations of this book, with the first English translation being made from Antoine Galland's French translation, and the most famous English translation being by Sir Richard Francis Burton. Galland had made major changes to the work when he translated it, and arguably Burton did as well, although until recently his was the most complete, and also considered one of the finest.

Probably the most famous character is Sinbad, due to being the subject of many films, including THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (not being shown in this festival, but probably better-known than all the other films combined). High up on the same list of famous characters is THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, represented here by the 1940 version with Sabu rather than the 1924 version with Douglas Fairbanks, or any of the other, lesser versions.

It is interesting that in the 1924 version the main (and most memorable) character is the thief, played by Douglas Fairbanks, while in the 1940 version the thief is Sabu, but the memorable characters are the villain, played gloriously by Conrad Veidt, and the Djinn, played by Rex Ingram. Look for fabulous color photography. [-mrl]

Evelyn adds:

These films are of varying cinematic quality, but one thing that is easy to guess from the years in which they were made is that they are full of stereotypes of the sort that one would not put into films today.

THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED is notable as being the oldest surviving animated feature film, and is done in silhouette animation (similar to shadow puppets, but animated rather than manipulated in real time). [-ecl]

[THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1940), July 23, 9:15 AM]

SONG OF FREEDOM (1936) (film review by Evelyn C. Leeper):

SONG OF FREEDOM (1936) is a very early Hammer Studios film--so early that many do not consider it to be a "real" Hammer film.

John Zinga (played by Paul Robeson) is a British dock worker who is descended from a king of Casanga. He is discovered by an opera impresario, and one of the songs he sings leads an anthropologist to tell him where his ancestors came from and their royal lineage. This lets Zinga return to what he considers his real home.

While the first part of the film is quite well done, the part in Africa is embarrassing. Zinga shows up in white suit and pith helmet, looking like a typical colonialist. In fact, his one local friend, Mandingo, tells him he is not truly one of them: "Although you are of our color, you are not of us." And the natives and even Zinga's servant are somewhat stereotypical.

Zinga wants to improve the lives of his people, but he wants to make change by fiat--in other words, be a dictator (even though it is softened to "king"). So he tells people what they should do without any consideration for their opinions.

What makes this all even more noteworthy is that Robeson had final cut approval, meaning he apparently had no issues with the various portrayals.

The film is basically known for two things: the portrayal of Anglo-Africans, and Paul Robeson's singing. The former may be somewhat idealized, but clearly the latter is the real deal. [-ecl]

The Giant Spider Invasion and More on the Mice:

[The invasion is giant, not the spiders.]

"An Australian region has been caught in webs of thousands of spiders after severe floods that have forced people--and arachnids- -to find drier land.

"The region of Gippsland in Victoria has been whipped by 77-mph winds and torrential rain storms since last week, killing two residents and forcing some to evacuate, Yahoo News Australia reported.

"The spiders are part of what looks like a biblical plague of critters to hit Australia this year after droughts and floods that have unleashed hordes of mice chewing their way across agricultural areas, leaving devastated crops in their wake. The massive mouse infestation has some Aussies worried that snakes looking for prey could follow the rodents in coming months, but for now some residents in eastern Victoria can enjoy the silky trails of their spider friends."

And more on the mice:

"Hundreds of prisoners at Wellington Correctional Center in Australia's New South Wales state are being forced to move out of the facility as officials scramble to repair the damage caused by mice chomping through cables, scurrying across ceiling panels and embedding in the building's walls.

"Corrective Services New South Wales Commissioner Peter Severin confirmed that 'vital remediation work' needed to be carried out at the jail, which is located about four hours from Sydney, along with a thorough cleaning and review of the prison's infrastructure.

"'The health, safety and well-being of staff and inmates is our number one priority so it's important for us to act now,' he said, as an estimated 420 male and female prisoners geared up to be relocated over the next 10 days, along with at least 200 staff members."


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

Well, the Old Bridge library finally opened for "drop-in browsing". (A few months ago, they had been letting people make appointments to browse, but then they shut that down, probably due to someone on staff testing positive.) Since my hip was recovered enough for me to get around, I decided it was time to start making a dent in my "want-to-read" list.

And I made a pretty big dent: eight books, including two inter- library loan books I figured I would pick up at the same time. (I'm glad I brought my big tote bag!) These included a couple of Hugo nominees, as I begin to work my way through the Hugo novella finalists (and perhaps the Lodestar Young Adult finalists as well). Also on my stack now are THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES by Alix E. Harrow, SUPERNOVA ERA by Cixin Liu, THE ANTHROPOCENE RAG by Alex Irvine, ESCAPING EXODUS by Nicky Drayden, WINTER TIDE by Ruthanna Emrys, THE DAZZLE OF DAY by Molly Gloss, UPRIGHT WOMEN WANTED by Seanan McGuire, COME TUMBLING DOWN by Sarah Gailey, and WHAT IS IT LIKE TO GO TO WAR by Karl Marlantes (the only non-fiction book in the batch).

So this week's column is shorter than usual, because I have a lot of reading to do! [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

          Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry 
          of logical ideas.
                                          --Albert Einstein

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