MT VOID 02/11/11 -- Vol. 29, No. 33, Whole Number 1636

MT VOID 02/11/11 -- Vol. 29, No. 33, Whole Number 1636

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
02/11/11 -- Vol. 29, No. 33, Whole Number 1636

Table of Contents

      Frick: Mark Leeper, Frack: Evelyn Leeper, Back issues at All material is copyrighted 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

Word Puzzle (by Tom Russell):

The five common vowels are A, E, I, O and U. One set of matching words using all five vowels is BALL, BELL, BILL, BOLL, BULL. (If you don't raise cotton then boll might not be a familiar word.) Find another list of five four-letter words with the same property. The vowel may be in any of the four positions.

Note: In these puzzles you may make up your own criteria for what words are and are not allowed.

The answer will appear next week. [-tlr]

Science Fiction Art Exhibit:

There is a *small* exhibit of science fiction art, "Close Encounters", by eight local artists running through March 3 at Arts Guild New Jersey, 1670 Irving Street, Rahway, NJ, The Guild is open Saturdays and Sundays 1-4PM. (It is a very small exhibit, taking no more than a half hour to see, so do not make any long drive to see it.) [-ecl]


Just how many days does Bill Murray really spend stuck reliving GROUNDHOG DAY?:

Two Amusing Videos (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

We recently published Dale Skran's comments on several post- Holocaust books and films. You may appreciate this eight-minute public service film on how to survive in a post-apocalyptic world, "Ducked and Covered": .

Cat lovers will likely enjoy this promotion for the Winnipeg Humane Society's Midnight Kitty Madness Sale:


The Untold Story (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

The trailer for ROBIN HOOD promises that the film will be "the untold story" of Robin Hood. This is a story that come exclusively from folklore and is part of the oral tradition. What I want to know is if the story is really untold, how did the filmmakers find out about it? If it is the untold story they must be making it up. There can be no accurate untold story. The story can be untold only if they made it up. [-mrl]

Big Snow Storms During Global Warming??? (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

I don't know how this winter has been for you, but for me it has been a real pain. Actually, depending on where you live I have some idea what your weather has been like. For a large number of our readers from the United States Midwest to Europe this has been a particularly bad winter. As of this writing I just came in from cutting branches off of our front yard tree. They have bent down very obligingly so I can truncate them. They are bending down because they are jacketed in glassy ice that is weighing them down. They are, in fact, blocking the driveway and have to be removed if we are to get out. To help my tree stand up straight I am relieving it of the weight of a lot of ice and of some of its heavier branches. If I don't do that I will be in the house for a long time.

At least a couple of people have challenged me that if I am a believer in global environmental warming (and I am) why are the winters seeming so much colder? Since I have been asked I will explain the phenomenon as I understand it.

First of all, if planet gets warm enough we will no longer get snow. But it is not nearly that warm yet. It has to be below freezing in the atmosphere for moisture to freeze. There are two conditions of the atmosphere for snow to form: you need cold and you need water. Well, years with light snowfall and years of heavy snowfall have provided the low temperatures needed. You don't have to go very far in the air to be below freezing. People who fly a lot frequently see ice on the window of an airplane. The engines are protected from freeing water, but the windows are not. Particularly if the plane took off in the rain passengers can see moisture on the windows freeze up for most of the duration of the flight, only to melt when you are landing. What makes a year of heavy snow a year of heavy snow is not so much the cold but a lot of moisture in the atmosphere. How does it get there? The sun beats down on bodies of water. The harder the sun beats down, the more water turns to vapor and the more water vapor or warm moist air there is in the atmosphere. The hotter it is, the more moisture there will be in the air and the easier it will be for the water to freeze and fall back down. This is apparently a year in which there is a lot of moisture in the air. With a lot of moist air, there will be a lot freezing and that can lead to some heavy snowfalls.

But does the heavy snow we are experiencing necessarily come from Global Warming? Well, I do not believe there is much in the way of an obvious smoking gun. You cannot always tell an unassailable cause and an unassailable effect when it comes to some climate phenomenon. But it is very plausible that the two are connected. I am hoping this years conditions will not repeat year after year, but it is very possible.

This also would explain why the ice caps in places like Greenland are actually getting thicker even while large pieces are breaking off at the edges. Skeptics of global warming have tried to use the thickening ice cap as evidence against Global Warming. But if there is moist air over Greenland it certainly will get cold enough to put down layers of snow. The water may be warmer, leading to breakage at the edges, but the new snow will fall on the tops and turn to ice and hence thicken the ice cap.

Now climate change like Global Warming cannot be proven with one or two years' data. Changes are slow and massive. And random fluctuations could very well hide the actual trend or lack of a trend. The process of Global Warming could at some point bring decades of very harsh winters. That would be the interval of time when it is warm enough to throw a lot of wet air into the atmosphere and before the time when it the atmosphere is so warm that snow does not form at all. For all we know that interval has already started or it may not start for decades. But I do not expect things to get much better when the interval has passed. By that point a lot of worse things might be happening. [-mrl]

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

CAPSULE: Just surviving is difficult enough for a lonely music hall stage performer in the 1950s. When a young teenage girl follows him to a new town he takes her under his wing to be her surrogate daughter. Sylvain Chomet animates a script by the great Jacques Tati. The story has a delicate bittersweet tone much too rarely present in contemporary films. THE ILLUSIONIST is really a film not to be missed. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4) or 8/10

Jacques Tati was a marvelous French comedian who made films in much the style of the great silent comedies. Sylvain Chomet made THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE, a madcap feature-length animated film about a mother rescuing her son who was kidnapped from a cross-country bicycle race. On the basis of this film Chomet was offered a chance to animate an unproduced Jacques Tati script. Tati would have done the film live-action but in the 21st Century it probably is better suited to (its 2D) animation. Several references do homage to Tati, including a short piece of Tati's MON ONCLE.

In the late 1950s European music halls are dying. Tatischeff is a stage magician who plays music halls, but the audiences are more interested in rock and roll than they are in an aging stage museum. From one music hall to the next it was a mistake to have booked him. Finally he goes to a pub in the backlands of Scotland and surprisingly the pub loves his act. At least for one night he is a success and he shows off his stuff to a teenage girl who cleans his room, even buying her a pair of shoes to produce for her in a magic trick. She genuinely believes he does magic and is apparently as lonely as he is. She follows him to Edinburgh, and soon they have a father-daughter relationship.

The film follows the two over the course of a year or so in which the girl, Alice, matures into a young woman while life still has plenty of hard knocks for Tatischeff. The older man has to take short-time jobs to supplement his meager income, but he never quite finds his place.

A second relationship is important in the film. Tatischeff has the world's champion bad-tempered and trouble-making rabbit that the magician never seems to quite succeed in pulling from his hat. And even this relationship provides some poignancy. One question is a little hard to answer. THE ILLUSIONIST is an animated film so creating the legerdemain on camera is no effort at all. Tati would have had to perform these magic feats live-action in front of a camera. Were his skills up to the task? Could this be why the film was never made when Tati was alive?

The film is done in the style of a Jacques Tati comedy, a style reminiscent of Chaplin's early sound films. Though Tati's films usually have less plot than even Chaplin's. This film would have been an exception. There are occasional words spoken here and there, but nothing important is said and the film cannot be said to be in any language. It is not even clear that the old man and the girl have any language in common. THE ILLUSIONIST is essentially a silent film.

While the animation is similar to that of TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE this film is not so frenetic. Occasionally there is even an intricate image like a train on a bridge reflected in a pond below. The plotting is more restrained and realistic. It is reminiscent of films like LA STRADA with its light, sad mood. But THE ILLUSIONIST stands as a tribute to both Sylvain Chomet and to Jacques Tati. I rate it a high +2 on the -4 to +4 scale or 8/10.

Film Credits:

What others are saying:


CHICKS DIG TIME LORDS edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O'Shea (copyright 2010, Mad Norwegian Press, $14.95, 186pp, ISBN 978-193523404-3) (book review by Joe Karpierz):

So, I saw CHICKS DIG TIME LORDS in the dealer's room at some con or another last year in the Chicagoland area and decided, "What the heck, let's take a gander at this." It had the added bonus of being co-edited by Lynne Thomas, a local fan and Head of Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University, which is roughly a half hour west of my house. I'd met her a few times and sat in on panels that she was on, and since Doctor Who is a topic near and dear to my heart, it seemed like a good gamble.

It was.

CDTL (I don't feel like typing it out any more) is a collection of essays by women of varying backgrounds: writers, actresses, academics, fans (well, *all* of them are fans), you name it. The subtitle actually sums it up quite nicely: "A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It". The subjects of the essays cover the spectrum: how they got into Doctor Who and Who fandom, how they got involved with the show itself, how the show and fandom shaped their lives, and indeed some of the academics go to great lengths to analyze the show--or particular aspects of the show, such as certain Doctors, their relationships to their Companions, certain entire seasons--in great detail.

There are some recognizable names that contributed essays to this collection: Elizabeth Bear, Carole E. Barrowman (yep, that Barrowman--his sister), Sophie Aldred, Lynne Thomas (well, yeah), Jody Lynn Nye, Seanan McGuire, Kathryn Sullivan, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Catherynne M. Valente. Now, that's not to say the other names aren't recognizable, it's just that *I* didn't recognize them--they weren't known to me.

I am not exaggerating when I say that every last one of these essays was interesting to me--at no time was I ever tempted to skip to the next one. Many of the stories echoed my own, from entering fandom to fannish experiences. Some of the academic pieces caused me to raise an eyebrow; I guess that's okay, but all I can say is that my reaction to at least one of them was "Is THAT what the show is about? I thought it was about a guy in a blue time machine gallivanting all over the universe. Silly me." A couple of the pieces have changed the way I look at the show, and I'll never be able to watch it the same way again. I don't know if that's good or bad. I'll just have to find out.

I'm not sure that non-Who fans would really get anything out of this book, but for the rest of us, it's great. I highly recommend it. [-jak]

COMING CLIMATE CRISIS? CONSIDER THE PAST, BEWARE THE BIG FIX by Claire L. Parkinson (book review by Dale L. Skran, Jr.):

I have long avoided reading up on the so-called "global warming" issue as it appeared to me hopelessly mired in "he-said, he-said", with a little bit of she-said, debates between two sides that weren't really interested in looking at the facts or having an honest discussion. However, quite a bit of water [literally] has passed under the bridge, and I finally noticed a book that seemed to have the kind of perspective, i.e. a long term one, that I was looking for.

Written by Dr. Claire L. Parkinson, a climatologist with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and a specialist in sea ice, the COMING CLIMATE CRISIS? provides some adult supervision on the issue. A minor contributor to the much hated and often rebuked IPCC, Dr. Parkinson has all of the bona fides of a mainstream climatologist, but with the perspective of a real scientist appalled at the crazy games being played by professional controversialists to gain public attention for climate change as an issue. Sadly, it appears these games have damaged the credibility of the IPCC, and may have made the control of climate change more difficult. This is a relatively long [410 pages] and somewhat heavy book, so I am going to try to net out for you what I gleaned from the book rather than recapitulate an excellent and much appreciated contribution to the discussion of this important issue.

Part I of the book is titled "The Earth System and Its Ever- Changing Nature", and it covers the complete climate history of the Earth over 4.6 billion years. The net net of all this is that [a] the climate has changed a lot, and in many different ways, over this period, and [b] there is a complex interaction between life and climate that over a long period of time has--so far--worked to make the planet more habitable. This section has a cosmic perspective and reads in large part like a work of science fiction, and so I think it would be of particular interest to SF fans. A sort of secondary net net is that our climate in recent millions of years has been anything but stable, and in fact varies between warm periods and ice ages on a complex cycle derived in large part from various astronomical cycles. A further net net of recent vintage is that is does appear that the shift from cold to warm and back can be quite rapid--decades or centuries rather than much longer periods.

The basic idea of the Earth as a highly unstable platform for life is not widely held among ecologists and environmental advocates but it is a key element in my personal world view. Even a brief study of the long-term history of Earth shows massive changes in climate and enormous events like volcanic eruptions and asteroid impacts leading to regular, massive extinction events. The human race, absent something really new under the sun, has the same fate in store for it as do all other species on the Earth--extinction after a fairly modest run of a few million or tens of millions of years. Or much less, if we are unlucky.

The only chance the human species has for really long-term survival is to become independent of the quirky and highly variable biosphere Gaia provides. This is not to suggest that we should have a cavalier attitude about species extinction, or that we should ignore global warming, but instead to provide some perspective--whatever we do, most of the species we think of as "normal" will be extinct 50 million years from now [including homo sapiens!], and even if we stop global warming, the Earth will continue to cycle through major and quite disruptive cycles of freezing and thawing. Humans are to a large extent living in a kind of shared delusion that the Earth is a safe and cozy place since we are in a nice, warm inter-glacial. If we were living at the depth of an ice cycle, it is unlikely that we would view the Earth with such a benign perspective.

Part II of the book, "The Human Factor", covers global warming and the human impact on global climate. There is also some discussion of various views on global warming, and how they differ. This is the weakest part of the book since by the time I got done reading it I did not feel like I had gotten a strong case for human caused global warming. More precisely, it does seem like there is very strong case the humans are causing green house gases to increase, especially carbon dioxide. What is much less clear is how much warming is actually occurring now and how much will occur in the future. The possible effects of this warming and what ought to be done about it are even less clear. My assumption is that since there are many books sounding the alarm about global warming, Dr. Parkinson does not feel a need to beat the drums so loudly in this book.

Part III of the book, "Good Intentions and Geoengineering", is quite excellent. It begins with a survey of various case studies of unintended consequences from large engineering projects, and proceeds to survey a number of proposals for dealing with global warming via geoengineering. This chapter again reads like an SF novel, and SF fans will be familiar with some of the ideas as they also apply to terraforming. Generally Dr. Parkinson thinks that given our relative ignorance of the underlying science and the poor record of our computer models, it is not very likely that any of the proposed schemes would be anything but disastrous. She also has a wonderful survey of weather modification technology, much of which I knew nothing about until I read this book. I really felt a strong feeling of nostalgia for the gung-ho 60's when scientists dared to dream big and were less worried about lawsuits as I read this section! This part of the book is a real gem and should be read by a wide audience. Her cautions seem well founded, and it surely would be mistake to rush into wild schemes like covering the Sahara desert with white plastic!!!

Part IV of the book, "Further Cautionary Considerations", goes into quite a bit of depth concerning the limits of our current climate models and the unfortunate and biased way mainstream scientists have treated so-called "climate skeptics." This is an excellent chapter that should be required reading for all Americans. The net net on the climate models is that they are pretty good, but not so good as to make reliable future predictions, and there is a lot they leave out. In particular, the setting of boundary conditions appears to somewhat arbitrary and after the fact, which makes the whole modeling process something of an exercise in setting things up to get whatever results you want. After reading this chapter I would be very reluctant to rely on the predictions from the IPCC climate models. Further research and better models are surely needed, but based on Parkinson's experience we should be more than a little skeptical about IPCC projections.

Parkinson also reviews the ill-treatment of the climate "skeptics" by the mainstream scientists--a sad tale to tell--that again makes one skeptical of the IPCC projections. Parkinson feels that the idea the skeptics are just paid shills of the oil industry is without factual foundation, and in fact many global warming advocates get corporate money that calls into question their objectivity. The press is also very important in blowing facts out of proportion. She tells two stories that are related to her own research. In one case Parkinson published a paper with fresh information on the rapid melting of the Arctic ice cap. This fact tends to get presented in the media without mentioning that half of the melting Arctic ice is *added* to the Antarctic ice sheet, which is actually growing in large areas. The net is that ice is melting, but things are more complex than the mass media makes it seem. In another case a tourist boat traveled over the North Pole and found no ice. Two scientists were on board who were not ice experts, and they sounded the alarm. The New York Times ran a hysterical article along the lines of "North Pole Melted!" However, it turns out that in fact there is open water over the North Pole *every year* and there has been for a long time due to natural openings in the ice sheet. So a lot of global warming hysteria was raised based on a complete non-issue.

In Part IV, "Further Cautionary Considerations", Parkinson focuses on solutions to global warming. Her ideas are a rehash of typical environmentalist suggestions to turn down the thermostat, drive an electric car, etc. etc. Parkinson is not a policy wonk, and it shows. This is not a sophisticated or well thought out essay on how to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. However, Parkinson spends a good bit of time focused on air travel as a source of greenhouse gases, and the logical contradiction involved in flying around the world to climate change meetings. It turns out that air travel produces such a large amount of greenhouse gases per long trip that it completely swamps everything else you do, including driving, heating your house, etc. Thus, the single most important step that climate activists could take toward halting global warming would be canceling all non-local meetings! Parkinson seems to feel that we are pretty much doomed to slide back to train and blimp travel [and video conferencing!] to maintain a "normal" carbon dioxide level, but she is apparently unaware of Gerard K. O'Neil's proposal for evacuated underground tubes for high-speed travel, which would to a large degree allow jet plane speed with zero green house gas emissions, at least within the continental USA. It would also be interesting to see how much ballistic rocket travel using hydrogen and oxygen as fuels could be tolerated.

Books have been written on the topic of greenhouse gas reduction, but often such books are written by Bill McKibben style eco- fanatics who ideologically believe that technology is bad and we should all live on small farms. A more interesting approach would be to take up the twin challenges of reducing greenhouse gases to a level that will halt global warming while supporting a continuation of a high-technology, high-consumption, high-choice society. This is intuitively possible by using nuclear reactors and orbital solar power satellites to provide baseload power, wind/solar panels for peaking power, moving to all-electric transportation, including cars and O'Neil's underground super-trains, and balancing human/animal emissions with newly planted forests.

Overall, I highly recommend COMING CLIMATE CRISIS? to SF fans and everyone else. I look forward to future books by Dr. Parkinson, to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude for sticking her neck out and writing this courageous book. [-dls]

Book to Film (comment by Sam Long):

In response to Jerry Ryan's comments on books to films in the 02/04/11 issue of the MT VOID, Sam Long writes, "A long and very interesting issue. A propos of adaptations (e.g., to film) of SF novels and stories, I'd like to see Jack Vance's story "The Moon Moth" made into an opera. And I'm surprised that the success of the Ewoks in the Star Wars saga didn't give rise to filmizations of Anderson and Dickson's "Hoka" stories. The technology exists." [-sl]

THE DIVINE COMEDY (letter of comment by John Hertz):

In response to Sam Long's comments on Dorothy Sayers translation of THE DIVINE COMEDY in the 12/17/10 issue of the MT VOID, John Hertz writes, "I second the recommendation of D. L. Sayers's translation of THE DIVINE COMEDY. I can't vouch for its accuracy-- and since she used "terza rima" she must have taken some liberties--but she made a fine English poem; it was through this translation I first saw the greatness of the COMEDY; and her notes and introduction are inspired. E. V. Rieu of the original Penguin Classics persuaded her to do this. As Sam Long writes, she did not live to finish, it was completed by B. Reynolds." [-jh]

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

Our science fiction discussion group chose six stories from THE PHILIP K. DICK READER (ISBN 978-0-806-51856-5) for this month's discussion: "The Hanging Stranger", "Strange Eden", "Foster, You're Dead", "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale", "Paycheck", and "Second Variety".

"The Hanging Stranger" (1953) is not one of Dick's better-known stories, and has only been anthologized twice before this. (By comparison, "Paycheck" has been anthologized nine times and "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" dozens.) "The Hanging Stranger" had a premise very similar to Jack Finney's BODY SNATCHERS (a.k.a. THE INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS): that of people turned into zombie- like beings. Finney's novel came out two years later--was it inspired by the Dick story, or is it just coincidence?

"Strange Eden" (1954), on the other hand, seems more "inspired by" than "inspiring"--in particular, inspired by one of Odysseus's adventures.

"Foster, You're Dead" (1954) is reminiscent of Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth stories such as THE SPACE MERCHANTS and "The Marching Morons" (1951). "Inspired by" would probably be too strong, though, as there were a lot of stories in the 1950s that satirized marketing and advertising. Mark thought it was similar to "The Midas Plague" by Frederik Pohl, where the poorer you were, the more you had to consume to support the economy, while the rich had much lower quotas.

"We Can Remember It For You Wholesale" (1966) is one of Dick's most anthologized stories, and was the basis for the film TOTAL RECALL. This time around I found myself asking if the ending was supposed to imply that he keeps asking for things because he has a subconscious memory of them, or that he creates a subconscious memory to match his wishes, or that he has the power to change reality to match his wishes, and Rekal is merely detecting this?

"Paycheck" (1953) seemed to anticipate the recent Citizens United Supreme Court decision regarding the free speech rights of a corporation when Dick wrote: "When an individual person was defenseless, a business was not. The big economic forces had managed to remain free, although virtually everything else had been absorbed by the Government. Laws that had been eased away from the private person still protected property and industry. The [Secret Police] could pick up any given person, but they could not enter and seize a company, a business. That had been clearly established in the middle of the twentieth century."

But there was a different kind of irony in a character saying, "A lot of people here would be glad to work in Detroit." So would a lot of people in Detroit these days.

And at the end, Jennings just assumes that Kelly will marry him and Dick implies that that is a happy ending. No one seems to care whether Kelly *wants* to marry him, especially given that he is basically blackmailing her at the time. It is reminiscent of the ending of Robert Sheckley's "The Seventh Victim", except that Sheckly has a much better handle on the dynamics of the situation.

"Second Variety" (1953) was the basis of the film SCREAMERS, and it seemed pretty obvious where it was going early on.

One problem with the collection as a whole is that it gives you no idea when each of the stories were written. They are not in chronological order--indeed, it is not clear how the order was determined, since the three "strongest" stories come at the end rather than having one at the beginning (as is usual). The lack of any copyright information (other than "The stories are copyrighted in their year of original publication") means it is hard to say whether a given story was influenced by some external event or other piece of fiction without doing a fair amount of digging.

ZENDEGI by Greg Egan (ISBN 978-1-59780-174-4) is really two novels: one the story of the transition of Iran to a more progressive country through popular uprising, and the other the story of the development of progressively more human entities in a virtual reality world. The former resonates very much with current events in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere, even though it was written at least a year ago. The latter is more typical of Egan, and takes up more than half of the book, but frankly, it is the former than is more interesting. I found myself profoundly uninterested in the adventures of the protagonists in the V.R. world, and wished Egan had spent more time developing the situation in Iran.

By the way, Egan is known for his rock-hard science and accuracy, so when I looked at the dates on his two sections and they looked wrong, I asked what could possibly be the reason.

The first is 2012 (presumably A.D./C.E.), but with the year in Persian digits given as 1390-1391. It appears that Egan merely subtracted 622 from the C.E. date, but if 1390 is a date on the Islamic calendar (A.H.), that is a lunar calendar that makes no adjustments to sync up with the solar one, and 2012 will actually be A.H. 1433-1434. The second section is 2027-2028, given in Persian as 1406, again apparently by subtracting 622. It should be A. H. 1449. (For a rough estimate, multiply the difference between solar years by 1.0313, then add that to 622.)

But could Egan have gotten this wrong? Well, I suppose it's possible, but in this case, the missing detail is that Iran uses not the Islamic calendar, but the Persian calendar, which is a "lunisolar" calendar (like the Jewish calendar) that uses intercalary months and days to "sync up" with the solar calendar. So in fact, the dates are not A.H., but are A.P., and are correct.

Translating Egan's dates was a bit difficult, as the Persian digits for 4, 5, and 6 are different than the digits used in Arabic, while the rest are the same. And just to note: what we call Arabic numerals--0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9--are actually Indian; the Arabs use a different set, and Iranians/Persians yet a third set. Egan did get this last part right as well.

Having said how uninterested I was in the adventures of the protagonists in the virtual reality world in ZENDEGI, I find it ironic (or something) that I enjoyed THE LIFECYCLE OF SOFTWARE OBJECTS by Ted Chiang (ISBN 978-1-59606-317-4), which is almost entirely about adventures of the protagonists in a V.R. world. Maybe it is because Chiang focuses more on the interactions of characters in our world with the constructs, while Egan spends too much time in the detailed construction of virtual reality scenarios.

And a film comment: I recently watched LA VIRGEN DE LA LUJURIA (THE VIRGIN OF LUST) and found myself reminded of a comment Dan Kimmel made in regard to BEING JOHN MALKOVICH: "I have not seen a movie that surreal and twisted since Buñuel died." Well, Dan, this one's for you. It has the social commentary of Louis Buñuel as well as some of his surrealism, but it has even more of the surrealistic style of Guy Maddin, and, oh, it also has a Mexican masked wrestler. The Buñuel influence is not very surprising, as director Arturo Ripstein began his career as an assistant for Buñuel. [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

          You don't understand anything until 
          you learn it more than one way.
                                          --Marvin Minsky

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