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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society 06/11/21 -- Vol. 39, No. 50, Whole Number 2175
Table of Contents
Mini Reviews, Part 19 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn C. Leeper):
Here is the nineteenth batch of mini-reviews, four films of the fantastic.
PALM SPRINGS: This is not the film you're expecting it to be. This is not the film that anyone expected it to be. An odd film that takes some very interesting turns. This film gives a vigorous shaking to your world view. Released 07/10/20; available on Hulu. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4)
POSSESSOR: This story of mind-control is similar to previous films. There are many strange camera angles that do not help the story, and its combination of visual effects with live-action is original, and at times, it has a cartoon-like feel, but the story does not seem to support it. It is hard to tell; the plot is not clearly explained, though it gets better as it goes along. There are obvious parallels to THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE. This is the sort of film that could have starred a Matt Damon or a Ben Affleck, but it does a fair amount on a small budget. Released 10/02/20; available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, and other services and DVD. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4)
THE INVISIBLE MAN (2020): Bearing almost no relation to the original H. G. Wells story which it credits as inspiration, this takes place in an expensive mansion on a seaside cliff in the United States rather than in an English village. A psychopathic control freak scientist stalks his former girlfriend from the safety of being hidden by invisibility. Elizabeth Moss (of MAD MEN) must hold off her invisible nemesis. The pace is occasionally slow, with some very long stalking sequences. Released 02/24/20; available on Netflix streaming, Amazon Prime, and other services, and on DVD. Rating: high 0 (-4 to +4)
And one review by Evelyn:
SPUTNIK: This Russian science fiction film is set during the Soviet era, but owes more to Britain's Quatermass films than to Soviet filmmaking (although sometimes the pacing seems inspired by Tarkovsky). Released 08/14/20; available on Amazon Prime and on DVD. Rating: 0 (-4 to +4) [-ecl]
The Science Fiction Writers of America has announced the winners of this year's Nebula Awards:
Novel: NETWORK EFFECT, Martha Wells (Tordotcom) Novella: RING SHOUT, P. Djeli Clark (Tordotcom) Novelette: "Two Truths and a Lie", Sarah Pinsker (Tor.com 6/17/20) Short Story: "Open House on Haunted Hill", John Wiswell (Diabolical Plots 6/15/20) The Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction: A WIZARD'S GUIDE TO DEFENSIVE BAKING, T. Kingfisher (Argyll) The Ray Bradbury Nebula Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation: THE GOOD PLACE--"Whenever You're Ready" by Michael Schur Game Writing: Hades by Greg Kasavin, published by Supergiant Damon Knight Grand Master Award: Nalo Hopkinson Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award: Jarvis Sheffield Rachel Caine Ben Bova Kevin O'Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award: Connie Willis
Vatican Astronomer and Science Fiction Fan Brother Guy on NPR's Weekend Edition:
Chinese Elephants on the (Long) March:
"No one knows where they are going or why. Since March 2020, a family of wild elephants in southwest China has trekked more than 300 miles, traveling north through fields, highways, villages and towns.
They have stolen crops, rolled around in villagers' courtyards looking for food, and broken into a car dealership where they drank buckets of water and left muddy footprints. The herd has been labeled 'The Northbound Wild Elephant Eating and Walking Tour.' In one incident, a young elephant reportedly raided a villager's stores of corn liquor and fell behind, according to the Eshan police."
Tom Swift (letter of comment by Dale L. Skran):
In response to various comments on Tom Swift in the 06/04/21 issue of the MT VOID, Dale L. Skran writes:
Comments on the comments:
#1 I agree that Tom's possible sexuality is not visible in virtually all the books. This may have been a diktat of the publisher, but it does leave the question open for most of the series.
#2 I agree that Tom must have been wealthy to afford all those globe spanning trips, but he never seemed very concerned about his clothes, his car, or other trappings of wealth. This new version of Tom revels in the trappings of wealth and style.
#3 With regard to the casting in WITHOUT REMORSE, I regard this as being similar to the inverted casting in NANCY DREW for Tom Swift. There is nothing about the character of John Kelly that requires him to be a white person, so casting the excellent Michael Jordan in this role seems entirely appropriate, especially as the story has been moved forward in time. I also note that there is a time- honored approach to casting where, for example, the entire cast of JULIUS CAESAR is Black. No one is claiming any historical accuracy here, but the result can be excellent and serves to focus on the universal aspects of the story. Finally, although I've not read any John Kelly books, the Wikipedia page makes it clear that he is the "dark side" of Jack Ryan. If anything, the filmed version seems toned down in violence from the books based on reading the summary in Wikipedia. [-dls]
THE STEPFORD WIVES (letter of comment by Jim Susky):
In response to Arthur Tansky's comments on THE STEPFORD WIVES in the 06/04/21 issue of the MT VOID, Jim Susky writes:
Was the film reprised on television in the 70s? From that, or a trailer, I formed the same impression that the wives were robots. I also second the notion that WIVES was a low-key horror film.
WESTWORLD was unambiguous SF film with robotic lovelies--perhaps the juxtaposition with STEPFORD influenced my impression. [-js]
THE STEPFORD WIVES was a 1975 film, so probably did not run on television until the 1980s or later. WESTWORLD pre-dates THE STEPFORD WIVES, being a 1973 film. [-ecl]
This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):
AMERICAN FRIED by Calvin Trillin (Vintage, no ISBN) is the first volume of Trillin's "Tummy Trilogy" (and now available only in that form), but I cannot say it makes me want to read the other two. It is more about eating than about food. For example, there are long passages talking about what Fats Goldberg ate on particular days, but while the various "ways" Cincinnati chili is served, but no description of how it tastes. (Hint: cinnamon and other spices are involved, and it really isn't chili anyway.) Trillin seems more concerned that barbecue is served on plates instead of brown paper, and less about the process of smoking, seasoning, and so on. He obsesses over the closure or new ownership of his favorite stores, but one never gets a sense of why, other than that he is a creature of habit.
Trillin has added one classic term to the language of dining out, though: the pretentious "continental" restaurant La Maison de la Casa House. (One is reminded of the restaurant L'Idiot in the movie L.A. STORY, with Patrick Stewart as its maitre d'. Ironically, there are actually restaurants named "L'Idiot", albeit in China, Taiwan, and St. Petersburg [Russia]--the latter undoubtedly named for the Dostoevsky character.)
The description of the crawfish contest reminded me of a business dinner I had once in Shreveport (if I remember correctly). I ordered a bowl of Crawfish Boil (probably about three pounds) and a glass of white wine, and proceeded to work my way steadily through the crawfish, picking up the wine glass with the stem between my index and middle fingers to avoid getting the seasoning all over it. Somewhere towards the end of the main course, one of my co- workers looked at my bowl and said, "My God, she's going to finish it!" Even better, the next day when I walked into the meeting room, he was telling someone, "... and then she finished the whole bowl!" [-ecl]
Mark Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Quote of the Week: The circumstances of human society are too complicated to be submitted to the rigor of mathematical calculation. --Marquis De CustineTweet
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