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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society 04/19/19 -- Vol. 37, No. 42, Whole Number 2063
Table of Contents
Retro Hugo Availability:
The good news is that Joe Siclari of Fanac.org announces:
Dublin 2019 has announced the Finalists for this year's Retro Hugo Awards to be given for works published in 1943. We've pulled together what we have on Fanac.org, along with a few zines from eFanzines and the University of Iowa, to give you a single place where you can find all the Finalist publications available online. Read before you vote!
The bad news is that MUNCHHAUSEN was reported as no longer available on YouTube, except for a version in German with Russian over-dubbing, but no subtitles that I suspect that would not be helpful.)
But the good news is that as with so many treasures to be found on the Internet, things change. MUNCHAUSEN at the link listed below comes and goes. At this point in time the link below is no longer no longer available. (That is, it was no longer available, but is now.) If you have had trouble connecting try the link again and you very well might be lucky. This may be an odd usage of the word "lucky" as the film is stodgy and slow and offers little humor, in spite of the subject matter. It is 131 minutes of limited interest value. You may be able to find it at:
Riddle (by Mark R. Leeper):
Who is clever and tricky and goes well on chicken?
But Is It Art? (comments by Mark R. Leeper):
This is going to be some stream of consciousness thoughts about art. That is probably appropriate, I figure. You know we see a lot of art that is called "avant-garde." That means it is the advanced guard of a new movement. It is something that is new and different. Supposedly. And people are anxious to see it because it is new and different. Well, I think people assume that the old art was limited and they are sick of it. They want the new art. They want the excitement of changing times.
I, however, am going on strike. I am not going to believe a piece of art is avant-garde without the artist telling me when the rest of the movement is coming and from whom besides her/himself. I mean, you cannot be the avant-garde of a movement if you are all there is. I want there to be a garde en arriere.
It is like these films that came out in the 50s and 60s that proudly proclaimed, "This is the first film shot in the new miracle of the screen, Hypno-Vista." You seen any other Hypno- Vista films recently? Did you ever see even the second film shot in the new miracle of the screen, Hypno-Vista? No. And there were never any plans for one? And look how often the new miracle of the screen was something like William Castle putting a joy buzzer in random seats or flying a plastic skeleton over the audience on a wire. These films all claimed to be the first that had done it and forty years later they remain the only films to ever having used this miracle of the screen. Well, I guess it is true that there are not a lot of Emma Stone comedies that really have an obvious need to have a glowing plastic skeleton flown over the heads of the audience. I suppose that there are some that might be improved with the skeleton, but none that really have as much as something we would call a need.
But that is the problem with avant-garde art. You are really taking the artist's word that in being the avant-garde, the work is not also the ensuite-garde, the pendant-garde, and the suelement-garde. So often a work of art is all these things. So frequently in art the real issue of whether there will be more similar is the issue of whether a work of art makes, well, let's use the word ... money. While it does not get said a great deal, movements in art are heavily governed by the issue of what sells to an audience. You can pretty much track what is selling to audiences in art by what the artists are doing.
Incidentally, this has an interesting corollary. It has been discovered that many of Vincent Van Gogh's contemporaries imitated his style. They would not have done this if it had not been profitable for them to do so. This has led modern art historians to doubt the old legend that Van Gogh never sold a painting in his life. He must have had at least some limited financial success that other artists wanted to cash in on. That means to me that Van Gogh really was selling paintings and just not reporting his success. It may have been that Van Gogh did not want to brag about success in front of someone else--specifically his landlord.
Of course, when we talk about money and the arts in this country, there is the controversy over the National Endowment for the Arts. You have wars between representationalists and abstract artists. You have artists unpopular in some quarters and the question of whether they should be funded or not. Then you have questions of censorship. I believe that everybody has a First Amendment right to create any sort of art they want. I think that the National Endowment for the Arts has no right to act as a censor. I think they should confine themselves to deciding what art gets funded and what does not. And I think that on the National Endowment for the Arts and I are in perfect agreement. The First Amendment guarantees free expression, not free greenbacks. Should the NEA be accountable to public taste? Well, turn on the major networks and watch a comedy. The networks really are accountable to public tastes, not by principle but by something much stronger. That is how they make their money. Pick a comedy show at random (not one top-rated, but pick one totally at random). Or better yet, pick a show like BAYWATCH or MELROSE PLACE. There. That is public taste for you. Now you decide if the National Endowment for the Arts should be accountable to it. [-mrl]
ON THE STEEL BREEZE by Alastair Reynolds (copyright 2014, Ace, copyright 2014, Recorded Books, 492 pp. e-book, 23 hours 10 minutes audiobook, ASIN (e-book): B00H2V6IN8, ASIN (audio book): B00JMPNHCC, narrated by Adjoa Andoh) (audio book review by Joe Karpierz):
ON THE STEEL BREEZE is the follow up novel to BLUE REMEMBERED EARTH, and the second book in the "Poseidon's Children" series. While essentially a sequel because it a) takes place after the first book and b) has a few of the same characters and the main character is a descendant of one of the characters in the first book, it can be read as a standalone book. I think the reader's experience is enriched by having read the first book, so I would recommend reading it first.
ON THE STEEL BREEZE follows the story of not one, not two, but three different versions of Chiku Akinya, the great-granddaughter of Akinya matriarch Eunice Akinya, who was a space explorer herself. Chiku Red went looking for Eunice who left the Solar System at the end of BLUE REMEMBERED EARTH; Chiku Green went on a long-range colonization mission to the planet Crucible with the side task of investigating the strange structure known as the Mandala. As you might guess, the stories and fates of the three Chikus intertwine, in part due to some fancy tech that Reynolds set up in the first book.
While the book mainly deals with deep space exploration and encounters with unknown, powerful AIs, the book really delves into the concept of the interaction of species that are in different stages of power and evolution. While Chiku Green was certainly on the expedition to Crucible for the purposes of exploration, she was also there to expand the influence of the Akinya name. What she was not expecting to experience was a conflict with a powerful AI (who called herself Arachne), created on Earth, who had gotten to Crucible before the expedition did. What was more unsettling, of course, was that there were entities around Crucible there that were even more powerful than Arachne. I suspect we'll be seeing more of these entities in the next book in the series.
The story focuses on something that has been part of the growth of the human race since we first crawled out of the primordial soup: conflict and its resolution, and the ability to get along. But Reynolds has taken it to a grander scale, since he throws AIs, alien civilizations, and (if you were paying attention to the first book) augmented elephants into the mix. Quite honestly, I'm still trying to figure out how those elephants are fitting into the grand scheme of the story; I'd like to think that we'll find out in POSEIDON'S WAKE, the final volume of the trilogy.
The "Poseidon's Children" trilogy is a departure for Reynolds from his "Revelation Space" novels. It is less dense and contains less of a sense of wonder than those books do, but it does contain its moments of those as well. "Poseidon's Children" may be a good place for people interested in jumping into Reynold's work. I think it's less likely to scare some folks away from the harder space opera of his other novels.
In some ways, this book is much better than BLUE REMEMBERED EARTH, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It doesn't suffer from the "second book in the trilogy" syndrome that so many other books do. Maybe that's because it can be effectively read as a standalone. It will be interesting to find out how Reynolds wraps (and *there's* an unintended pun for you) up the story.
Adjoa Andoh is a good narrator for this book. Her reading never took me out of the story, and her ability to change voices between all the various characters that are present in a particular scene made it easier for me to keep track of which characters are saying what. It's so much easier when a listener can keep track of characters during a long and complex novel, and Andoh is adept at it. [-jak]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
Reading about John L. Stephens's explorations of Mayan ruins led me to HEART OF THE WORLD by H. Rider Haggard (ISBN 0-87877-109-3), universally described as Haggard writing about a hidden Mayan city. But I gave up after about a hundred pages. First of all, Haggard seems a bit confused between Aztecs and the Mayans. The book takes place in what is definitely Mayan territory, Chiapas and Guatemala, but keeps referring to "the Empire of the Aztecs", "an Aztec scroll", and so on. And second, it was taking too long to get to the part of the story that was interesting to me.
BROKEN STARS: CONTEMPORARY CHINESE SCIENCE FICTION IN TRANSLATION edited and translated by Ken Liu (ISBN 978-1-250-29766-2) is a sequel of sorts to INVISIBLE PLANETS: CONTEMPORARY CHINESE SCIENCE FICTION IN TRANSLATION, also edited and translated by Liu. Both are strongly recommended. I particularly like "What Has Passed Shall in Kinder Light Appear" by Baoshu (a.k.a. Bao Shu). [-ecl]
Mark Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Quote of the Week: Why can't somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks? --Oliver Wendell HolmesTweet
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