MT VOID 09/15/06 -- Vol. 25, No. 11, Whole Number 1352

MT VOID 09/15/06 -- Vol. 25, No. 11, Whole Number 1352

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
09/15/06 -- Vol. 25, No. 11, Whole Number 1352

Table of Contents

      El Presidente: Mark Leeper, The Power Behind El Pres: Evelyn Leeper, Back issues at All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted. All comments sent will be assumed authorized for inclusion unless otherwise noted. To subscribe, send mail to To unsubscribe, send mail to

The Latest on Pluto:

For the latest political fall-out on Plutogate, see You can buy products to show your support at (and elsewhere, no doubt).

(My favorite is "Back in my day, Pluto was a planet". [-ecl])

Cold Is Hot; Hot Isn't Cool (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

A billboard for McDonalds says "Cold is the new hot." I think they are selling ice coffee. It occurs to me we grew up with undesirable places to live, like Minnesota, and desirable places to live, like Florida. In Minnesota you have to shovel snow. Warm or hot places had more cachet. But with the warm weather we have been having people may want to live in the cooler regions. So perhaps cold really is the new hot. [-mrl]

Trailer Park Report: Live-Action Films, Part 1 (film comments by Mark R. Leeper):

I am continuing with my coverage of the trailers for upcoming films shown at the World Science Fiction Convention.

It may be a sign of what is going on in the film industry, but it was quite noticeable that the same popular actors like Nicholas Cage or Scarlett Johansson were showing up in multiple films. While the power of the stars seems to be waning in Hollywood, the studios are still using a few young, attractive faces repeatedly. Hugh Jackman, best known for playing comic-book character Wolverine, is involved in four of the films presented: FLUSHED AWAY, HAPPY FEET, THE PRESTIGE, and THE FOUNTAIN. What we saw in this trailer compilation are not all the films coming out, by any means. It is a small sample and Jackman is in four of the films. Somebody obviously thinks his name will attract people, probably on the basis of his playing Wolverine in X-MEN. Also, some of the ideas seem repetitive. THE ILLUSIONIST (trailer not shown at the convention) and THE PRESTIGE both seem to be sumptuous period pieces about stage magicians. The plots may or may not be quite different but I expect a lot of the dramatic tension of THE PRESTIGE, like that of THE ILLUSIONIST, will work off the tension of the mystical focus a stage magician affects.

Dakota Fanning will be starring in a new live-action version of CHARLOTTE'S WEB. It looks very much like it will be handled like a third BABE film. It is very much in the same style with talking animals and a cute and very similar pig voice. E. B. White's book is a children's classic, albeit a tear-jerker for kids, so this has the potential to be a good film. I have heard of children actually breaking down and crying when they get to the end of the book. Actually I hope that the filmmaker--the director is Gary Winick--has the good sense to leave the sad elements in for the children. I am hoping it does not have a "better, happier" ending. My personal feeling is that the sad or frightening things I read or saw as a kid did me no harm and a lot of good. Perhaps parents want to protect children from things that are pornographic--that is another argument--but scary or sad books or movies are good for children, like broccoli. They help to form well-rounded adult minds. I was sad that (spoiler coming) Bambi's mother died, but it helped to teach me the value of life. These days kids learn the value of life from films like THE MATRIX with its machine gun sequences. Perhaps the value of life has changed accordingly.

It is not uncommon for film trailers to be actually booed by the Worldcon audience if the films do not look good. This year only one film that I noticed, a remake of the classic film THE WICKER MAN starring Nicholas Cage, brought jeers from the audience. One can tell by the trailer that the new version misses much of the point. It looks like it has real supernatural elements. The story does not need them. (It is like Kiyoshi Kurosawa's film SÉANCE, a remake of SÉANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON. But the frequently very good Kurosawa adds a real ghost. That is one thing this film does not need.) Part of the point is that it is not supernatural. I will add my opinion to the folks in the audience. Rent the original. [P.S. This is already in theaters as to this publication and is making a very poor show.]

THE PRESTIGE is the film that at the moment I am most looking forward to. Christopher Priest is a very good author and my wife Evelyn recommended this book before it was a movie. The plot involves two competing stage magicians, one of whom can perform a seemingly impossible trick. Is it really impossible? There was a similar question for a competing film this season, THE ILLUSIONIST. The trailer speaks of a very good-looking film with a good period feel. Christopher Nolan directs as he did for the film MOMENTO and BATMAN BEGINS. The cast includes Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Hugh Jackman, and Scarlett Johansson. [The film is reviewed this issue.]

BORAT (full title: BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN) seems to be a low-budget independent comedy about a reporter from Kazakhstan who comes to the United States to study Americans from his own cultural point of view. He knows nothing about the United States. That is a pretty tired premise. This looks from the trailer like a very standard fish-out-of-water story. Robin Williams did it well with MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON. There was some of this sort of humor in THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING. The sort of joke is to show Borat leaving for America in a taxi and as the camera pulls back we see it is pulled by a horse. Rumor has it that the character is anti-gay, anti-gypsy, and especially anti- Jewish. The trailer is not going to improve international understanding. I doubt the film will either, but it may have more teeth than the trailer made it seem to have. In general, my advice is to avoid comedies about characters taken from television shows. This includes Coneheads, Pat, and Borat from HBO's (and Britain's Channel 4's) the "Da Ali G Show."

[P.P.S. It was more than two weeks ago that I wrote the above about this film causing trouble. It turns out now it is causing an international incident. See and]

I will be looking forward to FLYBOYS. The film appears to be about the Lafayette Escadrille. When France was fighting Germany in World War I and America was still officially neutral, some young men went to France to fly with the French biplane squadrons. They called themselves Escadrille Américaine. When Germany protested that people from the neutral United States was attacking Germans the squadron was officially abolished but unofficially just renamed the Lafayette Escadrille. FLYBOYS is a film about the Lafayette Escadrille which promises of lot of biplane flying and probably some dogfights. The special effects look very digital, but they still get the idea across. Director Tony Bill previously helmed a lot of television and a few OK films like MY BODYGUARD and UNTAMED HEART. I did not recognize any of the actors, but that is not necessarily a bad sign. I will certainly see FLYBOYS.

Most historians now believe that about a millenium ago there were Vikings in the New World. I cannot tell much about the plot of PATHFINDER, but it is set against a backdrop of invading Vikings fighting Indians. The style reminds me somewhat of THE THIRTEENTH WARRIOR, a film that was promising and started very well but which wore out its welcome. Too much (albeit realistic) fighting without character interest makes for a dull movie. The IMDB describes the film as, "A Viking boy is left behind after his clan battles a Native American tribe. Raised within the tribe, he ultimately becomes their savoir in a fight against the Norsemen."

Martin Scorsese usually makes a good crime film. THE DEPARTED is the story of the Justice Department's efforts to bring down Frank Costello. The plot looks reminiscent of DONNIE BRASCO. There is a cop infiltrating Costello's organization trying to counter Costello's spies in the justice department. The cast includes Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello, Mark Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Leonardo DiCaprio. I think DiCaprio can out-act Damon or Wahlberg, but we shall see. My wife Evelyn pointed out the similarity to the Hong Kong film INFERNAL AFFAIRS and the IMDB confirms it is a remake of that film. Since when does Scorsese do remakes? I guess he did do AGE OF INNOCENCE.

Brian DePalma is also doing a crime film, THE BLACK DAHLIA. This is a work of fiction based on the unsolved Black Dahlia murder case. In 1947 Los Angeles aspiring actress Elizabeth Short (nicknamed Black Dahlia) was found in an empty lot, her body cut in half at the waist and most of the rest of her body mutilated. James Ellroy, who wrote L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, also wrote a fiction novel based on the case and this film an adaptation of that novel. The film stars Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart, Scarlett Johansson, and Hillary Swank.

Speaking of fiction films about unsolved mysteries, HOLLYWOODLAND is about another Los Angeles case. In 1959 George Reeves, who at the time was television's Superman, apparently committed suicide. It has been suggested since that it might have been murder, but it was never proven. Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, and Bob Hoskins star in a more fanciful murder mystery. [P.S. Okay, now I have seen it. I have a review this issue. I think they filmmakers missed the point of where the real story was.]

Next week I will talk about some of the major fantasy releases, including an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's STARDUST. [-mrl]

THE ILLUSIONIST (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: A mystical and mysterious stage magician, Eisenheim, becomes the rage of Vienna while working out his own personal love triangle. His childhood sweetheart is now engaged to the Crown Prince. The Prince has the power of his station, and Eisenheim seems to have his own mystical powers. This is a captivating and atmospheric tale that will keep the viewer wondering what is real, what illusion. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or 7/10

As the film opens you are on a stage in the city of Vienna in pre-World-War-I Austria. A magician on that stage sits in a concentration that could burn holes in paper. He stares in a silence that the uneasily audience shares. The entire room is in profound concentration. Then at the magician's side he is seemingly joined by the translucent spirit of a woman. As the diaphanous apparition floats at his arm the Chief Inspector of Police recognizes the woman, arises from the audience, and orders that the performance be halted immediately and that the magician be arrested. The magician (played by Edward Norton) is the mysterious Eisenheim, whose powers have astounded all of Vienna. Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti), the catspaw of the Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), cannot allow anything to happen on this stage that might damage the interests of Prince Leopold. And he has the feeling that the illusionist is dealing in powers that will be dangerous to the Prince and perhaps even to Eisenheim himself. The enigmas of Eisenheim and his tricks have become an obsession with Uhl. This is the spellbinding opening of THE ILLUSIONIST, written and directed by Neil Burger, based on a story by Pulitzer Prize winner Steven Millhauser.

From the theater Uhl goes to see Prince Leopold and tells him, and you, of the arrest and the history of Eisenheim. Eisenheim who was born Abramowitz loved a girl above his station. He impressed her with tricks he had learned from a traveling magician. But their romance was not to be because he was a poor boy of low birth. His girlfriend became the Duchess Sophie Von Teschen (Jessica Biel) and now both he and the Crown Prince want the same woman. But she is engaged to the Prince and Chief Inspector Uhl, though fascinated with Eisenheim, will protect the Prince.

Millhauser's story is at heart a simple one. One woman is torn between two men: one whose powers are all too well known and one whose powers are unknown and uncanny. The recreation of the Vienna of a century ago is beautiful, though nearly sabotaged by Dick Pope's cinematography that over-uses sepia tone photography and, in the early parts of the film, a blurring of the borders of the frame, probably from Vaseline smeared on the lens. Later in the film this unsubtle and manipulative effect is used a lot less. Another problem is that the visual images on the stage go far beyond what would have been possible with very early 20th Century stagecraft. In a film where the main mystery is whether Eisenheim truly has mastered the arts of true magic or if he is just a clever stage magician, the visual imagery seems to imply strongly the magic is real. The illusions are just too convincing.

I do question whether a magician whose real name is known to be Abramowitz could have escaped having his background become a major issue in anti-Jewish Austro-Hungary. The Prince (who is despicable in many ways) and the Chief Inspector make only a passing reference to the name. Of course, Edward Norton does not look Jewish at all. Most critical attention seems to be going to his acting performance. He is magnetic, but I would contend that behaving strangely does not require as much acting ability as to appear to be perfectly normal in a part. It is, I would claim, harder to play Victor Frankenstein believably than it is to play his creation. I am more impressed with Paul Giamatti's Chief Inspector Uhl. This is a very different sort of role for Giamatti than those he has been getting. He is polished, urbane, and a member of the establishment. He is a near opposite to his character in SIDEWAYS and in films like PLANET OF THE APES.

Those who enjoyed this film, and there should be a lot, should also try to find Menahem Golan's THE MAGICIAN OF LUBLIN (1979), based on the Isaac Bashevis Singer novel which may well have been much of the inspiration of this film. The ILLUSIONIST is a hypnotic film that is an act of stage magic in itself. I rate it a +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 7/10. [-mrl]

HOLLYWOODLAND (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: In 1959 a private detective investigates the apparent suicide of George Reeves, television's Superman. This is an interesting film and its weak sequel inter-cut together. They had an original story in Reeves's life and the uncertainties of his death, but it did not need to be turned into film noir. The revelations are intended to be a shocking look at dirty business in Hollywood, but it rarely ever achieves even surprise. As exposes go, this one is pretty tame. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

In 1959 George Reeves, who played Superman on television, was found dead of what appeared to be a suicide. Superman had been a hero of millions of children across the country for whom "The Adventures of Superman" was a favorite television program. Without much competition in the early Fifties, it had been the most exciting children's program on television. To those who associated Reeves with the invincible role he played, the news sounded almost impossible. There were rumors at the time that he might have been murdered, but nothing that added up to much or could ever be proven. HOLLYWOODLAND is a fictional mystery revolving around the death of George Reeves.

Reeves (played by Ben Affleck) had been despondent, ironically, over the success of the Superman program. He had taken the role reluctantly hoping and expecting to do better things with his career. He had had small roles like one of Scarlett O'Hara's suitors in GONE WITH THE WIND. The Superman television promise was that the program would be very low-profile. Reeves could take the money, which he desperately needed, and proceed with his career. Instead, he became typecast. He was a national icon to the five-to-fifteen set and even to some of their parents. After the Superman series, Reeves had been cast for FROM HERE TO ETERNITY and most viewers seem to have recognized him in a small role. In HOLLYWOODLAND we are led to believe that his scenes were cut from the FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. (In actual fact the recognition was apparently treated as an irrelevancy by Columbia and essentially ignored, possibly in the hopes that it would actually help the picture's success as actor recognition frequently does. Reeves appears in the released film with every one of his scenes intact.) The actor was depressed, however, and either did take his life or someone else killed him. This story is told in flashback sequences as seedy detective Louis Simo (Adrien Brody) investigates the peccadilloes and death of Reeves.

The problem with HOLLYWOODLAND is that it is not really a single story. It is a story and its sequel. The story, sort of a biopic of George Reeves, is relatively accurate as far as I can tell. The sequel is a fairly cliched and fictitious detective story based on rumors about George Reeves's death. Because the writers thought the real story was their detective plot, they shortchanged the biopic on time. What Simo turns up is neither as shocking as the writers had hoped, nor is it even particularly interesting. Basically what we discover is that studios try to protect their financial interests and that people enjoy sex enough to do bad things for it. So what else is new?

The real crime of this film is that the filmmakers did not know where the best part of the story was. The ironies of George Reeves's life, ruined by the wrong success, are actually more engaging than the familiar dangers of a private eye's job. Reeves was destroyed by being too successful in a role perhaps beneath his talents and certainly beneath his aspirations. That was where the actual story was. Adrien Brody is probably a better actor than Ben Affleck is, but they gave Affleck the more original role as Reeves. Brody, who was excellent in THE PIANIST, was stuck with the cliched sleazy detective role. There is nothing in the detective plot that was not done many times better in films like CHINATOWN.

The casting of the film is spotty at best. Brody's Louis Simo is a fictional character so the part can be cast any way they want. But the script has someone call Simo a Ralph Meeker type. As good as Brody is, he comes off nothing like Ralph Meeker. They needed to rewrite that line in the script and just did not. Reeves looked very different from Ben Affleck and really was a better actor in the Superman role than Affleck seems to be. Admittedly in glasses, the Affleck Clark Kent does resemble the Reeves version of Kent. The film is shot in under-saturated colors with a limited color palette that is a bit irritating. The title HOLLYWOODLAND was apparently an unhappy choice for the filmmakers, but the titles they would have wanted more are copyrighted by the Superman people. The film reportedly was to be called TRUTH, JUSTICE, AND THE AMERICAN WAY. Hollywoodland is an old building development whose name loomed in large letters over Hollywood. Eventually the last four letters were removed; the rest remains there to remind any doubters what town they are in.

Writer Paul Bernbaum and director Allen Coulter thought that the real story here was the scandal and mystery surrounding the death of a national hero. Had they recognized that George Reeves was the real story--and that the dirty linen was only a small part of that story--they could have made a much better film. I rate this HOLLYWOODLAND a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. [-mrl]

AURORA BOREALIS (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: An aimless Minneapolis man who cannot work out some personal problems has put his life on hold for years as a result. Duncan Shorter is likeable to his friends, but uses excuses and cynicism as an justification not to get himself a life. Some of the characterizations are of quite good with Donald Sutherland giving a very strong performance. But some may find the pacing, like life in this cold town, just a little slow. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

Joshua Jackson of television's "Dawson's Creek" plays Duncan Shorter, a mid-20s Generation-X loser in process of squandering his life. His professional life has been a series of short jobs that he holds for a few weeks and then gets fed up with. His anger or his cynicism usually gets the better of him and he gets himself fired. Duncan's father, whom Duncan idolized, died when Duncan was fifteen, apparently leaving him with only two grandparents as family. Duncan's life has become what little work he can get and hanging out at the local bar with his buddies whom he has known since the fourth grade. While he is at the bar he frequently lends his apartment to his married brother for trysts.

Duncan showers all his pent-up affection on his father's parents Ronald and Ruth (Donald Sutherland and Louise Fletcher), particularly Ronald. Ronald is afflicted with Parkinson's Disease and with Alzheimer's. Ronald and Ruth live in an apartment building that caters to the elderly, and when Duncan loses a grocery store job he comes to work in maintenance at the apartment building to be close to his grandparents. There he meets Kate (Juliette Lewis), a free-spirited home assistant who cares for Ronald. She sees that Duncan seems to be frozen in time like his car gets frozen in the snow. He is, however, stable in his family life. Kate, on the other hand, is a rambler who moves from town to town as the whim takes her. She changes towns like Duncan changes jobs.

The plot, like Duncan's life, has a slow, leisurely pace. The film is 110 minutes and the plot progresses little in the first hour. Instead, Brent Boyd's script lets us get to know Duncan's family and friends in several credible and arresting scenes. Boyd writing and James C. E. Burke's makes the people very believable and well characterized. These are people the viewer will probably care for. There are some family tensions, but those too are believable. Particularly affecting is the warm relationship of Ronald and Ruth, and Duncan's struggle with his own low self-image and low ambition. But perhaps Ronald steals the show. Ronald knows he is caught in a downward spiral that he is dreading and which he tries to fight. Not many films these days make a major character of somebody who is elderly and infirm.

Most of the plot is in the third act when the characters we have come to know have to face issues of fighting or surrendering to their various problems. The situations are, however, believable, even if their conclusion may be somewhat expected. I would rate AURORA BOREALIS a high +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10. [-mrl]

OLD JOY (film review by Mark R. Leeper):

CAPSULE: This is a not-much-happening account of two old friends who head out for the Oregon backwoods to check out some hot springs and to talk about nothing in particular. Even as a short film, OLD JOY drags and feels padded. Rating: 0 (-4 to +4) or 4/10

While the title is OLD JOY, there is little joy in this film. In fact there is not very much of much here. The film is only 78 minutes long and much of that is just footage showing the road scenery of Oregon. They might have called the film THE BRIDGES OF MULTNOMAH COUNTY. One of the two main characters, Kurt tells his friend Mark that the reason he likes going out in the woods is that "you can really think." He means that there is little to interrupt your thought process because nothing of great interest is happening. That is a lot like the experience of watching OLD JOY. The viewer has a lot of time to think because there is not much happening on that screen. The film is not like the films of Andrey Tarkovsky who gave the viewer long stretches of thinking time. This film is just about entirely thinking time.

Daniel London plays Mark and Will Oldham plays Kurt, two men each in his thirties, who have been friends since their teens. The characters have gone in different directions. Mark is struggling to earn money for his fledgling family. He has a pregnant wife and is overworked trying to build a family. He has bought into traditional values. Kurt, on the other hand, has never settled down and enjoys nature and hiking. Kurt likes nature trips and sees nature in mystical terms. He claims to understand super- string theory, but when he tries to explain what it is he fails totally. He looks backward on all that he has lost ("sorrow is nothing but worn-out joy") while Mark is too busy looking at building a future.

Apparently these nature trips have been a longtime tradition. The two go off to try to find a hot spring that Kurt had visited previously. After a little trouble they find it, take a bath, and return home. (Perhaps I should have put a spoiler warning on this paragraph because it goes beyond revealing plot details, that is just about the whole plot.) That is what you get with OLD JOY.

In acting the ideal is not to behave as the character would at that moment but to bring out inner truths about the character without too much spoiling the realism. Most stories that are character studies are contrived since the building blocks of the personalities are all assiduously presented to the viewer. It is not unlike a mystery story that takes pains to show the viewer all the clues. OLD JOY does not do that. A little of the boys' different viewpoints is presented in their conversation, but in general nothing is made more obvious than would be if you were somehow following around Joe Average on an uneventful day. Some viewers may respond to that. I have to admit that it is not appealing to me. If the film is making a statement about urbanization it should show up in the dialog, not just show road footage. Making the statement by showing the long sequences of road scenery makes the film little more interesting than actually driving the road. It is an OK drive--certainly when they get into the Cascade Mountains--but not worthwhile at today's film ticket prices.

Kelly Reichardt directs a screenplay she co-authored with Jonathan Raymond based on a story by Raymond. Your capacity to appreciate this film is really your capacity to see depth in a "fly-on-the-wall" visit with two friends who are drifting apart and do not really have much to say to each other. I rate it a 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 4/10. [-mrl]

Upcoming Animation and Other Films (letter of comment by Dan Kimmel):

In response to Mark's article on upcoming animated films in the 09/08/06 issue of the MT VOID, Dan Kimmel writes, "Good round-up of animation trailers but you miss one point. FLUSHED AWAY is the first computer animation from Nick Park, the man behind the "Wallace and Gromit" films and CHICKEN RUN. He's got a track record at least as impressive as Brad Bird so I'm willing to wait and see on that the way I'm not on, say, OPEN SEASON.

And I've now seen RENAISSANCE and it's quite good. It might even beworthy of Hugo nomination next year. It's not like there's a lot of competition. [-dk]

[Mark responds, "Right you are on FLUSHED AWAY. The trailer just went by too fast. Thank you for the pointer. I have to say that the trailer did not sell me on RENAISSANCE, but your recommendation would (in spite of our history of different cinematic tastes). Thank you for the heads up." -mrl]

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

I listened to GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ IN 90 MINUTES by Paul Strathern, read by Robert Whitfield (ISBN 1-566-63622-1, audiobook ISBN 0-786-17981-3) as an audiobook, and my first observation is that the audiobook makes a liar of the title--it is actually slightly over two hours. This is a minor nit, perhaps, but something people buying the audiobook to fit a particular time slot might object to. Also, the reading is not very good, in that Whitfield mispronounces many words, such as "Chilean", "Cyclopean", and even "junta". The book does provide a good overview of Garcia Marquez, though it jumps around quite a bit, not giving his biographical information until well into it. (I also read GARCIA MARQUEZ FOR BEGINNERS by Mariana Solanet, illustrated by Hector Luis Bergandi (ISBN 0-86316-289-4). These two at the same time were probably overkill, especially since I am not very familiar with Garcia Marquez's work. The Solanet, in particular, seemed to assume that the reader had read all of Garcia Marquez's books. Both had a the same peculiar style of writing that I am assuming is an attempt to emulate Garcia Marquez, but to me it just seemed strange.

TIME IS THE SIMPLEST THING by Clifford Simak (ISBN 0-020-82075-5) is an older book (first published in 1971), but unfortunately its theme of prejudice and persecution seems to be forever current. At the time, I am sure people read Simak's story of the hostility towards "PKs" (paranormal kinetics) as a parable of the then- current attitudes of many towards blacks. (In fact, one sheriff in the novel talks about a "boy who came across the border and got himself tanked up. Figured he was as good as white folks.") Then later it was probably seen as a parallel to society's treatment of gays. ("Persecuted when they should be given all encouragement. They have abilities at this very moment that [we], also at this very moment, needs most desperately." I suspect those words will come back to me the next time I read about the Army discharging translators of Arabic because they are gay.) Now I am sure some people will see parallels to the anti- Muslim sentiment we are seeing. What with all this underlying message, it is easy for the other part of the novel--Simak's attempt to portray an alien intelligence--to get lost in the shuffle.

It is also interesting to see that Simak projected a rise in interest in the supernatural on television, in ouija boards, and so on--though he had these be the result of the discovery of PK powers rather than whatever less obvious cause has brought it about in our times.

Henry Kuttner's novelette "Dr. Cyclops" was made into a film of the same name, which sticks fairly closely to the story. However, Kuttner is a bit sloppy with his arithmetic. First, the people see Thorkel as being thirty feet high, indicating they are about one-fifth size, or a little over a foot tall. The cellar door is described as being as big as a two-story house--assuming an attic, etc., that is probably consistent. Later, though, he says, "Human beings--scarcely more than half a foot tall!"

Correction: In the 09/09/05 issue of the MT VOID, I wrote about the Jorge Luis Borges story, "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius", and said that it had been "published in May 1940 (with a postscript added in 1947)." According to an article by James E. Irby that I just read, the postscript is dated 1947, but existed even in the first publication in 1940! This is just another example of the games Borges plays in his writing, I guess. [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

           You can pretend to be serious; 
           you can't pretend to be witty.
                                          -- Sacha Guitry

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