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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society 01/31/20 -- Vol. 38, No. 31, Whole Number 2104
Table of Contents
COLOR OUT OF SPACE Correction:
Yet another correction: Mark's review of COLOR OUT OF SPACE was accidentally left out of last week's issue. It is in this week's issue.
I cannot blame this one on the mailing options transition. This was totally my mistake. :-( [-ecl]
Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films, Lectures, etc. (NJ):
Lectures, etc. (NJ) February 13, 2020: THE HANDMAID'S TALE (1990) & novel by Margaret Atwood (1985), Middletown Public Library, 5:30PM https://www.biikan.com/wenxue/read-13516_1.shtml March 12, 2020: THE QUIET EARTH (1985) & novel by Craig Harrison (1981), Middletown Public Library, 5:30PM https://www.rulit.me/books/the-quiet-earth-read-351976-1.html March 26, 2020: THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/551 May 28, 2020: THE DARK FOREST by Cixin Liu, Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM July 23, 2020: CLIPPER OF THE CLOUDS by Jules Verne (a.k.a. ROBUR THE CONQUEROR, [Fr. title ROBUR LE CONQUERANT], published by Ace in 1961 in an omnibus titled MASTER OF THE WORLD, which is the title of the sequel), Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3808 September 24, 2020: TBD from Europe/Latin America, Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM November 19, 2020: Rudyard Kipling: "A Matter of Fact" (1892) https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/16578 "The Ship That Found Herself" (1895) https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2569 ".007" (1897) https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2569 "Wireless" (1902) https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/9790 "With the Night Mail [Aerial Board of Control 1]" (1905) https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/29135 "As Easy as A.B.C. [Aerial Board of Control 2]" (1912) https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/13085 "In the Same Boat" (1911) https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/13085 Old Bridge Public Library, 7PM Northern New Jersey events are listed at: http://www.sfsnnj.com/news.html
My Picks for Turner Classic Movies for November (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
Back in the 1930s and 1940s one popular sub-genre of film was the drama of true science discovery. Yes, science fiction was fun but I admired scientists who were actually changing the world and who were likely to be making the world a better place. My heroes were not sports figures but people uncovering the secrets of nature. I loved films about the discovery of radium and of penicillin. And, of course there was the Manhattan Project studying the nature of the atom and all the things that could be done once the atom was split. And there were the Curies unknowingly irradiating themselves.
Sadly the science film has largely disappeared. In the last year or so we have not seen many science discovery films. The most I have see in the last year or two have been have been THE IMITATION GAME, possibly THE THEORY OF EVERY, and THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY. This year we have the highly fictionalized THE AERONAUTS about a flight by balloon to record breaking altitudes. It is based very loosely on a real flight to 36,000 feet. TCM offers two such films.
THE STORY OF LOUIS PASTEUR (1936) tells of the 19th century microbiologist who faced the scorn of the medical community trying to show that there are tiny animals in dirty water that could be very dangerous to humans and animals. Pasteur (played by the great Paul Muni) argued for physicians to boil heir instruments between usages. Milk sold to the public has to be boiled now to kill off tiny organisms.
[THE STORY OF LOUIS PASTEUR, Wednesday, February 5, 10:15 AM (ET)]
And for more about 19th century medical scientists who were persecuted there is DR. EHRLICH'S MAGIC BULLET (1940). About the scientist who used poison to combat syphilis at a time when is was not socially acceptable to speak the name of the disease.
[DR. EHRLICH'S MAGIC BULLET, Wednesday, February 19, 09:15 AM (ET)]
COLOR OUT OF SPACE (film review by Mark R. Leeper):
CAPSULE: This is the latest film adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft's horror story tells of a meteor strike in the Massachusetts back woods. Toward the beginning director Stanley sets his story in a pleasant natural setting. As the story progresses and nature corrupts or gets corrupted. The herbage becomes harder to understand and to visually parse. The meteor goes missing and the woods and everything in it becomes corrupted and sinister. Nicholas Cage stars. Animals deform and the food form the livestock becomes poisonous. Directed by: Richard Stanley; written by: Scarlett Amaris; story by: H. P. Lovecraft. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10.
This film is the latest adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft's horror story of a meteor strike in the Massachusetts back woods. In one of Lovecraft's more popular stories a meteorite brings to Earth the color of a frequency of light never previously seen on Earth. The meteor goes missing and the woods and everything around it becomes corrupted and evil. We see eggs on the farm grow double yokes, one yellow and one black. Animals deform and the food from them becomes toxic. Everything seen on this planet becomes corrupted.
It is in the nature of the story that it has a slow start. The meteorite crashes during one of the most spectacular electrical storms on film, albeit created with special effects. It turns the sky to many colors, some of which are likely unnamed even outside of the film. The poison of the meteorite takes a while to spread. And then the trouble starts.
I rate COLOR OUT OF SPACE a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.
Release date: January 24, 2020
Film Credits: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5073642/reference
What others are saying: https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/color_out_of_space
SEVEN SURRENDERS by Ada Palmer (copyright 2017, Tor, $17.99, 384pp, Trade Paperback, ISBN 978-0-7653-7803-3) (book review by Joe Karpierz):
Back in 2017, Ada Palmer won the Astounding Award (previously the John W. Campbell Award) for best new writer on the strength of her first novel, TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING, the first novel in the four- book "Terra Ignota" series. LIGHTNING was a powerful story with outstanding and highly interesting world building, presenting a setting and situation that I've never seen before. Influenced by both science fiction and history, in retrospect I believe the novel could have won a Hugo for Best Novel in just about any other recent year within memory. It was a finalist in 2017, but the competition it was up against was stiff. Any one of the six deserved to win the award, and finishing behind Jemisin's OBELISK GATE is nothing to be ashamed of.
SEVEN SURRENDERS continues the story started in TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING. It is told by Mycroft Canner, and covers the two days that follow the first book. After reading the novel, it's hard to believe that all the events that happen took place over just two days. It could be argued that there is *too* much going on in this book; there probably is. But one of the things that keeps me reading the "Terra Ignota" books is the fact that I have not seen any world building like this before, nor have I seen the kind of story that Palmer is telling. Yes, it's difficult reading at times, but it's well worth the effort.
Our cast of characters is the same, but there's much more going on with them than we knew from the first book. We know what Mycroft Canner's crimes were, but now we find out *why* he committed them, and just how brutal they were. We know that the seven Hives essentially govern the planet, but in SEVEN SURRENDERS we find out more about just how far they are willing to go to preserve the peace that has lasted for 250 years. We learn about a god from another universe, and how he is here to save the planet.
As was with TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING, the story is complex and involved, and we see that there is much more going on than meets the eye. Yes, there's a 250 year period of peace, but is war inevitable? And if so, is it better to have war sooner rather than later because the longer we wait, the less knowledge there will be about war and how to wage it, thus it will be more brutal with more casualties? There are conspiracies within conspiracies, and characters with powers that we can't imagine.
And I, for one, have no idea where it's headed and no way of being able to figure it out.
No book is perfect, and this one is no exception. It is not an easy read, and while that is not a flaw in and of itself, it may turn away a lot of readers. While the characters are rich and have fascinating backgrounds, they really aren't characters that we can identify with. None of them are really likeable at all, and it's not likely that a typical reader will be able to identify with any one of them, especially if that's what turns particular readers on to a book.
And yet, it's fascinating, in part because I don't know where it's going and I've never seen a world like it before now. Palmer has piqued my interest, and as arduous a reading process as these books are, I suspect I will be reading book three, THE WILL TO BATTLE, sooner rather than later. [-jak]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
MEN AND DINOSAURS by Edwin H. Colbert (Dutton, 1968, no ISBN) is of course about the men (and they were almost entirely men) who studied dinosaurs from the early beginnings of paleontology to the (then-)present. But rather than give a summary of the book--this is a classic work by a renown author--I am going to focus on two minor bits.
The first is the phrase "two types of dinosaurian pelves." Only a few days before reading this phrase, I listened to an episode of John McWhorter's "Lexicon Valley" podcast titled "Does 'Processes' Rhyme with 'Knees'?" in which he talked about how in Latin, words ending in 'is' were made plural by changing the 'is' to 'es'. This persists in English in a few words, but McWhorter claimed that most words had lost this pluralization, and just added 'es' instead. However, when McWhorter listed examples of 'is' words that just added 'es', he included a lot that I would pluralize by changing the 'is' to 'es', including 'axis', 'oasis', and 'diagnosis', I noted in an email that I would also include 'prognosis', 'analysis', 'emphasis', and 'exegesis'.
But not in my wildest dreams would I have included 'pelvis' as one that is still pluralized the Latin way, into 'pelves'.
[Note: I wrote to McWhorter re this, and he gave me a shout-out on the next episode of "Lexicon Valley": "Verbs on the Move". Go to about 34 minutes in for the section talking about plurals.]
And no, this does not mean that the plural of 'Elvis' is 'Elves'.
The other thing I want to focus on is Franz Aron Nopcsa von Felso- Szilvas. Early on in his account Nopcsa's life, Colbert writes how Nopcsa was "living the life of a baronial lord, going from one Hungarian estate to another, with peasants owing low before him as he drove by. His was on such occasions the life of a semiroyal person in a sort of dreamland out of an operetta. And this life seemed in part to be sufficient for Nopcsa never married." In 1968, this *might* be a reasonable conclusion. Nowadays, one comes up with a different conclusion, and indeed a few pages later, Colbert writes about Nopcsa's male secretary, "Bajazid, the secretary who lived with Nopcsa for many years, was more than a secretary; he was a lover.. Indeed, Nopcsa maintained two Albanian homosexual boyfriends, who participated in his strange and unreal life."
In writing about Nopcsa, Colbert also displays a definite condescension towards Albania. For example, he writes, "... this colorful, backward land and its primitive people cast a lifelong spell over Nopcsa." Later Colbert describes Albania as "that picturesque and backward corner of the Balkan world." [-ecl]
Mark Leeper email@example.com Quote of the Week: Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful. --Ann LandersTweet
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