MT VOID 07/06/07 -- Vol. 26, No. 1, Whole Number 1448

MT VOID 07/06/07 -- Vol. 26, No. 1, Whole Number 1448

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
07/06/07 -- Vol. 26, No. 1, Whole Number 1448

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 Grey Man (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

Do you think you know H. G. Wells's THE TIME MACHINE? Apparently there was a piece that Wells took out because it was too depressing. It takes place where the Time Traveler escapes from the Morlocks into the more distant future. Apparently what he saw there was not so nice and Wells decided to spare the reader that part of the story. It can be found at


Chapter 3 (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

This comment is a Chapter Three. The third chapter of what you may ask. Well it is not the third chapter of anything, it is just a third chapter. That is its form. It was written listening to the "1812 Overture" and some Chopin preludes. Nobody asked Tchaikovsky what his music was an overture to. Nobody asked Chopin what his preludes were preludes to. Okay, this editorial this week is a third chapter. That is its form. But it is all there is. That's Chapter 3. [-mrl]

Hot Topic: The Joy of Self-Immolation--Chili Peppers (Part 1) (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

There was an interesting posting on the Usenet recently. A science fiction fan was in a restaurant in Denver and he ordered fish and chips. Now his first mistake, at least in my opinion, was by not insisting on using only malt vinegar to season the fried food. I insist on it and really douse my fish as well as the chips. He apparently was willing to settle for tartar sauce. He got tartar sauce and in the light of the pub he did not happen to notice that the tartar sauce he got was pink. Apparently this particular tartar sauce was seasoned with chili pepper. In his posting he talks like this is how most restaurants serve tartar sauce. My first reaction was that I would like to try it and second that it seemed odd that he thought it is so common to have piquant tartar sauce. I looked up recipes for tartar sauce, and none that I found mentioned chilis. If I looked up "chili tartar sauce," on the other hand I was indeed able to find recipes, though the concept was new to me. Apparently out west it is much more common. He referred to the spread of spicy food as the "Capsaicin Conspiracy." Capsaicin is the irritant in chili peppers that makes them spicy.

Capsaicin shows up in my editorials a lot. The truth is that capsaicin happens to be my drug of choice. I cannot stand tobacco; I hate the taste of alcohol; I am too much of a chicken to try illegal drugs. Under very rare circumstances I will use caffeine, but I am not fond of coffee or tea, which burn my mouth (from their high temperatures). No, my drug of choice is capsaicin. Readers of this column may remember my recent mention that it figures heavily in an apparent cure for diabetes. I also have written about how it is used in products that promise to make birdseed unpalatable for squirrels without bothering birds. I have talked in the notice about how my tolerance for the really spicy is my only really valid claim to extreme machismo. I have even talked about my foolhardy assault on Gimpy's Wings of Fire, defeating this dish at the expense of my weekend.

What can I say? I am a capsaicin fan.

I don't know if I ever explained about Scoville units. The potency of chili peppers is measured in Scoville units, named for chemist Wilbur Scoville who invented the test. The hotter a pepper is the more units of sugar water are needed to dilute it so that one can just barely taste the hotness. If one unit of pepper in solution with 50 units of sugar water then the pepper has 50 Scoville units of hotness. I suspect that plain water could have been used also, but Scoville used the sugar water to reward his guinea pigs who were risking life and taste buds to test the hotness of peppers. These days the measurement of Scoville units is done more accurately by machines that are incapable of screaming. (Now that is a scary thought. I wonder if they want to scream and just cannot? I wonder if I am going to be sued by Harlan Ellison.)

The following is a table of the Scoville units of various peppers.

Units: Variety of Pepper 
0-100: Bell/Sweet pepper varieties
500-1000: New Mexican peppers
1,000-1,500: Espanola peppers
1,000-2,000: Ancho & Pasilla peppers
1,000-2,500: Cascabel & Cherry peppers
2,500-5,000: Jalapeno & Mirasol peppers
5,000-15,000: Serrano peppers
15,000-30,000: Arbol peppers
30,000-50,000: Cayenne & Tabasco peppers
50,000-100,000: Chiltepin peppers
100,000-350,000: Scotch Bonnet & Thai peppers
200,000 to 300,000: Habanero peppers
Around 16,000,000: Pure Capsaicin

The record for the hottest chili pepper is the Bhut Jolokia, at 1,001,304 Scoville units. That is getting really near pure capsaicin. May I never run into this pepper. I might be just dumb enough to try it. In my younger stupider days I would spend an afternoon at work taking tiny bites from a habanero pepper the way other people would sip coffee, thinking that it will keep them awake after a heavy lunch. Let me tell you these people don't know what awake is until they have spent an afternoon at work taking tiny bites from a habanero chili pepper. Whooo-eee!

Next week I will talk about the effects of eating hot chilis and the changing beliefs about just how good an idea it is to burn out your mouth with fiery chilis. [-mrl]

The Nine Billion Names of God (comment by James Nicholl):

Posted to Usenet:

"The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke: Cunning Buddhists turn to modern technology to save some time in their religious ceremonies. British entrepreneurs are only too happy to sell the monks what they need. The monks succeed beyond the dreams of their British allies.

This kind of thing is why environmental impact statements are so important.

[-James Nicholl]

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

[This continues the description of the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle.]

The next section was the Hall of Fame, begun at the Gunn Center at the University of Kansas in 1996, but since transferred to the Science Fiction Museum (whose full name is actually the "Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame"). Current members include Brian W. Aldiss; Poul Anderson; Isaac Asimov; Alfred Bester; James Blish; Chesley Bonestell; Ray Bradbury; Edgar Rice Burroughs; John W. Campbell, Jr.; Arthur C. Clarke; Hal Clement; Samuel R. Delany; Philip K. Dick; Gordon R. Dickson; Frank Kelly Freas; Hugo Gernsback; Harry Harrison; Ray Harryhausen; Robert A. Heinlein; Frank Herbert; Damon Knight; Ursula K. LeGuin; Fritz Leiber; Grorge Lucas; Anne McCaffrey; A. E. Merritt; Michael Moorcock; C. L. Moore; Andre Norton; Frederik Pohl; Eric Frank Russell; Mary Shelley; Robert Silverberg; E. E. Smith; Steven Spielberg; Theodore Sturgeon; Wilson Tucker; Jack Vance; Jules Verne; A. E. Van Vogt; H. H. Wells; Kate Wilhelm; Jack Williamson; and Donald A. Wollheim.

There were short films about the 2006 inductees (Freas, Herbert, Lucas, and McCaffrey). We watched the one about Freas. In it, David Gerrold said, "Just as Heinlein was the defining voice for writers, Freas was the defining voice for artists." Though the aspect ration on the artworks was fine, when they showed people talking, they all looked tall and thin, which meant the aspect ratio was off. There was also information on the Hall of Fame members, all taken from John Clute and Peter Nicholls's "Encyclopedia of Science Fiction", but it is not kept up to date. For example, both Jack Williamson and Wilson Tucker still listed as living.

One of the artifacts they had was the clapboard from David Lynch's version of Frank Herbert's "Dune".

The rest of the displays in the "HOMEWORLD" room were divided into the categories "Science Fiction Community", "Science Fiction and Society", "Not So Weird Science", and "What If?"

"Science Fiction Community" included costumes, a section on fandom today (including screen shots of "The Internet Review of Science Fiction" and "Entertainment Geekly"), and representative awards (a Hugo rocket, a Nebula, and so on). There were pictures and letters from Forrest J. Ackerman, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury in a section labeled "From Fan to Pro". There was a 1920 mimeo machine, and quite a few fanzines, convention publications and materials, and letters.

There were then several thematic sections, with first editions of representative books, and movie posters (or pictures of posters).

A section on the Cold War had "The Puppet Masters" by Robert A. Heinlein, "Dr. Strangelove", "Deadline" by Cleve Cartmill, and a pod from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".

A section on Vietnam featured "The Healer's War" by Elizabeth Moon, "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman and "The Word for World Is Forest" by Ursula K. LeGuin.

Gender was represented by James Tiptree, Jr.; Samuel R. Delany; Ursula K. LeGuin, and Theodore Sturgeon.

The environment included "The Sheep Look Up" by John Brunner, "Forty Signs of Rain" by Kim Stanley Robinson, "The Death of Grass" by John Christopher, and "Make Room! Make Room!" by Harry Harrison and the film made from it, "Soylent Green".

"BEMs and Babes" had covers of several pulp magazines.

Mutation included "Godzilla", "The Swamp Thing", "Mutant" by Henry Kuttner, "The Chrysalids" by John Wyndham, "Food of the Gods" by H. G. Wells, and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles".

Cyborgs had "Man Plus" by Frederik Pohl, "The Human Touch" by Theodore Sturgeon, "Nova" by Samuel R. Delany, "Cybernetic Samurai" by Victor Mila;n, "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" by Philip K. Dick, and many others.

Nanotech included "Slant" by Greg Bear, "The Diamond Age" by Neal Stephenson, "Inherit the Earth" by Brina Stableford, "Fantastic Voyage" by Isaac Asimov, and others. (I thought calling "Fantastic Voyage" nanotech is a bit of a reach, but Mark said that it was really a separate category called "Changes of Scale".)

Genetics and cloning had "The Island of Dr. Moreau" by H. G. Wells, "Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang" by Kate Wilhelm, and "Bladerunner"; artificial reproduction had "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley and "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley. There was also a biotech section.

"What If Scenarios" (some of which I mentioned before) included "The City of Truth" by James Morrow, "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "Years of Rice and Salt" by Kim Stanley Robinson, "The Language of Pao" by Jack Vance, "Kiln People" by David Brin, the "Helliconia" series by Brian W. Aldiss, and "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov. Also on display were Neal Stephenson's hand- written manuscript for his "Baroque Cycle", as well as the ink cartridges and bottles he used to write it.

Uncategorized displays included the Jupiter 2 (from "Lost in Space"), props for "Star Trek", and the T-rex motion direct input device from "Jurassic Park". The "Lost in Space" display also seemed to be running an entire episode (with headsets)--the meteor storm was really fake-looking.

There was a spherical-surface screen with anamorphic images of movie scenes (and a few book covers) projected on it in the categories of "Fantastic Voyages", "Amazing Places", "Brave New Worlds", and "Them! Them! Them! ..." ("Swastika Night" showed up on this at well--is it really that important?) There was about a fifteen-minute cycle.

One of the paintings hanging in this room was the famous Emshwiller painting of Theodore Sturgeon used as the cover for the special "Theodore Sturgeon" issue of "The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction".

The exitway from this room was "The Changing Face of Mars", covering early scientists, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H. G. Wells, the pulps, Ray Bradbury, Kim Stanley Robinson, and so on. Shifts in perception came about because of the Mars Mariners (1965), Vikings (1976-1982), and Rovers (2003). This topic was covered in great detail by the panel "Mars in Fiction" at L.A.con IV, see for details.

The stairway leading down to the other displays had posters from "Pitch Black", "City of Lost Children", "Ghost in the Shell", "Johnny Mnemonic", "Inner Space", "Transformers", "The Empire Strikes Back", "2001: A Space Odyssey", "Titan A.E.", "Independence Day", "Dune", "Escape from New York", and "Metropolis".

"HOMEWORLD" took about an hour and a half.

[to be continued] [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

           If you can spend a perfectly useless afternoon 
           in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned 
           how to live.
                                          -- Lin Yutang

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