Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society

04/23/21 -- Vol. 39, No. 43, Whole Number 2168

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper, * *

Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, * *

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SF Author Talk at Old Bridge (NJ) Library



by Mark R. Leeper)

Space News (comments by Gregory Frederick)

People of Color (letters of comment by Fred Lerner, Kevin R,

Scott Dorsey, Dorothy J. Heydt, and Gary McGath)

LOST HORIZON and Rapid Aging (letters of comment

by Gary McGath, Scott Dorsey, Dorothyt J. Heydt,

Kevin R, and Tim Merrigan)

This Week's Reading (Hugo Award finalists) (book comments

by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: SF Author Talk at Old Bridge (NJ) Library

There will be a two-hour Zoom talk May 1 at 2:00PM with SF author

Neil Sharpson (WHEN THE SPARROW FALLS).  Details and sign-up are at

**.  (This is a

library event, not the discussion group's.)  [-ecl]


TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 14 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper)

Here is the fourteenth batch of mini-reviews, this time of films

based on books.

HILLBILLY ELEGY: Directed by Ron Howard, this is based on the best-

selling novel of the same name.  It keeps the viewer guessing about

where the story is going, in part because it is not told in

chronological order.  Glenn Close plays the matriarch of the family

and completely disappears in the role.  The theme is summed up by

one of her epigrams: "Family's the only thing that means a good

goddam."  Released 11/24/20 on Netflix streaming.  Rating: high +2

(-4 to +4)  [-mrl]

THE PAINTED BIRD:  Based on the Jerzy Kosinski novel, this film

shows a boy traveling across Eastern Europe in shortly before World

War II and seeing the cruelty of the peasants for one another.

Filmed in black and white in a naturalistic style, it has long,

slow, contemplative stretches.  The title comes from a form of

entertainment of the peasants: they paint a bird with bright colors

and release it back into its flock, where the other birds peck it

to death.  Available on Amazon Prime.  Rating: low +3 (-4 to +4)


the Charles Dickens classic, the style is more modern than the

style of monochrome classic Dickens films from the Golden Age.

Also, it is harder to pierce the various accents.  Usually one

expects with a Dickens tale to have a merciless look at his

society, and while here that is present, the atmosphere here

reaches more often for comedy.  Fans of classic British

dramatizations will be delighted by some of the familiar faces in

this film.  Released 08/28/20; available on various video-on-demand

streams, but not Netflix streaming or Amazon Prime.  Rating: +1 (-4

to +4)



TOPIC: Space News (comments by Gregory Frederick)

- NASA just selected the Space X design for their next lunar lander

for the upcoming Moon missions.  Many thought that Dynetics had the

best design but NASA did not like that it was not flexible enough

for expansion and too expensive.  The Lockheed and Blue Origin

(Jeff Bezo's company) design was also too expensive.  Only Space X

was willing to go down enough to a lower bid and therefore they got

the contract.  Space X's design also was flexible enough for future

changes to the craft.  NASA's budget would not allow for more then

$2.9 billion in the initial phase of the contract and the other

companies would not go for that amount.

- NASA has announced that our next destination in the solar system

is the unique, richly organic world Titan.  Advancing our search

for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly mission will fly

multiple sorties to sample and examine sites around Saturn's icy

moon.  Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and arrive in 2034.  The

rotorcraft will fly to dozens of promising locations on Titan

looking for prebiotic chemical processes common on both Titan and

Earth.  Dragonfly marks the first time NASA will fly a multi-rotor

vehicle for science on another planet; it has eight rotors and

flies like a large drone.  It will take advantage of Titan's dense

atmosphere--four times denser than Earth's--to become the first

vehicle ever to fly its entire science payload to new places for

repeatable and targeted access to surface materials.





TOPIC: People of Color (letters of comment by Fred Lerner, Kevin R,

Scott Dorsey, Dorothy J. Heydt, and Gary McGath)

In response to Evelyn's comments on LOST HORIZON in the 04/16/21

issue of the MT VOID, Fred Lerner writes:

You called Jesus "another person of color".  Why?  [-fl]

Kevin R also asks:

A first century, Common Era Jew in Roman Palestine is a "person of

color?"  Does "olive-skinned" translate into "POC?"  Greeks,

Italians, Spaniards are POC, " then?

Mind you, I don't think Y-b-Y was divine, if he even existed.  But

imposing 21st century identity politics on that era seems odd.

Anyone from that part of the world would be a lot less pink than my

Irish-descended tuches, and nobody really knows how "white" or

"brown" he would have been.  A member of an ethnicity that had

little or no power?  Sure, but so were my freckled ancestors.


Scott Dorsey asks:

Why not?  My grandfather complained he wasn't allowed to move into

Shadyside in Pittsburgh because they didn't allow Italians.  [-sd]

And Dorothy J. Heydt notes:

There are some Northern Europeans (or their descendants) who seem

to think so.  When Southern Europeans (Italians, etc.) started

coming to the US, there were many complaints.

Of course, your Irish ancestors got the same treatment with knobs

on.  [-djh]

Kevin responds:

Some of the race-theory-mongers would have it that you could

sunburn on a rainy day, you still weren't "white" until you

were assimilated by the power structure.  See:



"Race is only a cultural construct..." and all that.

By the "Italians aren't white.." because they were poor immigrants

who tanned, what did that make the Romans who were supposed to have

executed "non-white Jesus?"  [-kr]

Gary McGath suggests:

The retcon that all ethnic conflict and discrimination is and has

always been based on skin color lacks historical support.  The

notion of "race" as genetically distinct subcategories of the human

species didn't gain currency until the eighteenth or nineteenth


The great dividers throughout history have been the interrelated

factors of culture, religion, country, and language.  It comes from

the earliest times, when you could trust people from your village

but found it best to assume strangers were enemies.

The arrival of southern Europeans got a hostile reception largely

because they were heavily Catholic.  Likewise for the Irish.  It

wasn't because of their red hair or whatever.

Luther hated the Jews, but it was a matter of religion for him, not

an imagined difference in skin shade. If they converted, all was

forgiven (literally).  [-gmg]

Evelyn responds:

In response to the initial question:

Because in the circles I travel in (including during my work

years), "people of color" includes those of Middle Eastern

heritage (extending from Egypt and Arabia to Iran), and when movies

have white actors playing (e.g.) Moses, that gets called out as

white-washing.  I realize that the census definitions disagree, but

I call 'em like I sees 'em (to quote an old phrase).  YMMV.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: LOST HORIZON and Rapid Aging (letters of comment by Gary

McGath, Scott Dorsey, Dorothyt J. Heydt, Kevin R, and Tim


In response to Evelyn's comments on LOST HORIZON and rapid aging in

the 04/16/21 issue of the MT VOID, Gary McGath writes:

It's a pretty common plot device, though.  There's a "Twilight

Zone" episode where a man gives up his immortality and is a pile of

dust within a couple of minutes.  In the Karloff version of THE

MUMMY, the same happens to Imhotep when the scroll that revived him

is destroyed.  [-gmg]

Scott Dorsey adds:

I think the absolute best example is in the Mexican horror film


Dorothy J. Heydt asks:

Care to spoiler it a bit?  Googling did not reveal any site that

had anything to say about the plot, let about how it use the

common plot device.  [-djh]

Kevin R responds:

The fate of "Black Adam" in MARVEL FAMILY #1 (1945).



And Tim Merrigan explains:

It's a plot device that predates film.  In THE PICTURE OF DORIAN

GRAY, when the painting is destroyed/Dorian Gray dies, all the

deformities, some representing character flaws that wouldn't have

normally manifested physically, leave the painting and appear on

Mr. Gray's body.  [-tm]

Evelyn adds:

My point was that while most of the novel/movie was something that

one *might* accept as possible--after all, there seemed to be

claims of Abkhazians having exception longevity--the rapid aging on

leaving the valley tipped the whole thing into the

supernatural/fantastical in an unexpected turn.  (These longevity

claims have since been pretty much discounted since then.)  [-ecl]


TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book and film comments by Evelyn

C. Leeper)

Last week we published the list of Hugo Award finalists.  This week

I will make some general comments on them.

Last year was atypical, not just for Dramatic Presentation (Long

Form), but for most everything.  The Hugo finalists reflect this,

and general strangeness in addition.  And it is not just that I no

longer recognize most of the names on the ballot.

For example, the "Video Game" category apparently requires at least

two different types of equipment to play all of them, which

presumably is what is desired, given that voting a preferential

ballot is extremely problematic unless the voter is familiar with

all the candidates.

It took only ten nominations to make the ballot for Fan Artist.

Even given the low nominator base (1249 ballots), that makes one

ask if this category is still a viable one, especially since it is

always the category with the fewest nominations.

The semiprozine STRANGE HORIZONS listed 87 editors or contributors

or *something*, which resulted in the de-alphabetization of that

category, since listing the finalists in alphabetical order would

put UNCANNY MAGAZINE (itself listing six people) after a 25-line

entry for STRANGE HORIZONS, and undoubtedly result in many people

overlooking it entirely.

Normally I would have seen all the Dramatic Presentation (Long

Form) finalists, or at least been familiar with them.  However,

2020 was not a normal year, and I have seen only three (THE OLD

GUARD, PALM SPRINGS and TENET), had a fourth on my Netflix queue

(SOUL), and am totally unfamiliar with the other two (BIRDS OF PREY



two are now on my Netflix queue and streaming list respectively.

As for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form), as usual I have not

followed most of the series represented.

The "Best Novella" category was swept by (a.k.a. Tor).  Tor

has been the one major publisher to go in for novella-length books

(basically under 200 pages).  Others, such as PS Publishing and

Subterranean Press, are also players in this niche, but with much

smaller press runs--and higher prices.

In the weeks (months) to come, I will be reviewing the short story

and novelette finalists (all of which are available on-line; see


for-free-online/), the novella and Lodestar YA finalists if I can

get them from the library, and the Dramatic Presentation (Long

Form) finalists.  (The voting deadline is not until November 19, so

I hope my library system will resume inter-library loans so that I

can get the two novellas my local library doesn't have in time to

finish my reviews before voting ends.)

So I will be starting with the short stories and novelettes, then

the dramatic presentation (long form) (the one I have to wait for

here is SOUL) and novellas, and then the Lodestar.

The good news (sort of) is that there are no Retro Hugos this year.



                     Mark Leeper

* *

          He has all the virtues I dislike and none of

          the vices I admire.

                                          --Sir Winston Churchill