Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society

06/25/21 -- Vol. 39, No. 52, Whole Number 2177

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Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, * *

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Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,

Lectures, etc. (NJ)

My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in July (comments

by Mark R. Leeper)

SONG OF FREEDOM (1936) (film review by Evelyn C. Leeper)

The Giant Spider Invasion and More on the Mice

This Week's Reading (library browsing) (book comments

by Evelyn C. Leeper)


TOPIC: Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,

Lectures, etc. (NJ)

At this point, everything about future meetings of [the Middletown

SF group] is tentative: date, day of the week, start & end times,

location (outdoors/indoors, CommunityRoom/CompLab/smallroom), movie

viewing, and even book/film choice.  However, the schedule below is

the best guess for now.

July 1 (MTPL), 7:30PM: SECONDS (1966) & novel by David Ely (1962)

    movie: **

    book: **

    book: **

July 22 (OBPL), 7:00PM: PROJECT HAIL MARY by Andy Weir

August 5 (MTPL), 7:30PM: A SCANNER DARKLY (2006) & novel

by Philip K. Dick (1977)

   movie: DVD MTPL; rent on PrimeVideo, Vudu, YouTube


   book: **


TOPIC: My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in July (comments by Mark

R. Leeper)

On July 23, Turner Classic Movies is turning itself over to

"Arabian Nights" fantasies:

06:00 AM    Kismet (1955)

08:00 AM    The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)

09:15 AM    The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

11:15 AM    Bowery to Bagdad (1955)

12:30 PM    Arabian Tights (1933)

01:00 PM    The Golden Arrow (1964)

02:45 PM    Sinbad the Sailor (1947)

04:45 PM    Son of Sinbad (1955)

06:30 PM    Captain Sindbad (1963)

These fantasies are not seen in the West as frequently as vampire

stories but are all based on a single albeit huge book of fantasy


with characters such as Sinbad, Aladdin, and Scheherazade.

There have been many versions and translations of this book, with

the first English translation being made from Antoine Galland's

French translation, and the most famous English translation being

by Sir Richard Francis Burton.  Galland had made major changes to

the work when he translated it, and arguably Burton did as well,

although until recently his was the most complete, and also

considered one of the finest.

Probably the most famous character is Sinbad, due to being the

subject of many films, including THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (not

being shown in this festival, but probably better-known than all

the other films combined).  High up on the same list of famous

characters is THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, represented here by the 1940

version with Sabu rather than the 1924 version with Douglas

Fairbanks, or any of the other, lesser versions.

It is interesting that in the 1924 version the main (and most

memorable) character is the thief, played by Douglas Fairbanks,

while in the 1940 version the thief is Sabu, but the memorable

characters are the villain, played gloriously by Conrad Veidt, and

the Djinn, played by Rex Ingram.  Look for fabulous color

photography.  [-mrl]

Evelyn adds:

These films are of varying cinematic quality, but one thing that is

easy to guess from the years in which they were made is that they

are full of stereotypes of the sort that one would not put into

films today.

THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED is notable as being the oldest

surviving animated feature film, and is done in silhouette

animation (similar to shadow puppets, but animated rather than

manipulated in real time).  [-ecl]

[THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1940), July 23, 9:15 AM]


TOPIC: SONG OF FREEDOM (1936) (film review by Evelyn C. Leeper)

SONG OF FREEDOM (1936) is a very early Hammer Studios film--so

early that many do not consider it to be a "real" Hammer film.

John Zinga (played by Paul Robeson) is a British dock worker who is

descended from a king of Casanga.  He is discovered by an opera

impresario, and one of the songs he sings leads an anthropologist

to tell him where his ancestors came from and their royal lineage.

This lets Zinga return to what he considers his real home.

While the first part of the film is quite well done, the part in

Africa is embarrassing.  Zinga shows up in white suit and pith

helmet, looking like a typical colonialist.  In fact, his one local

friend, Mandingo, tells him he is not truly one of them: "Although

you are of our color, you are not of us."  And the natives and even

Zinga's servant are somewhat stereotypical.

Zinga wants to improve the lives of his people, but he wants to

make change by fiat--in other words, be a dictator (even though it

is softened to "king").  So he tells people what they should do

without any consideration for their opinions.

What makes this all even more noteworthy is that Robeson had final

cut approval, meaning he apparently had no issues with the various


The film is basically known for two things: the portrayal of Anglo-

Africans, and Paul Robeson's singing.  The former may be somewhat

idealized, but clearly the latter is the real deal.  [-ecl]


TOPIC: The Giant Spider Invasion and More on the Mice

[The invasion is giant, not the spiders.]

"An Australian region has been caught in webs of thousands of

spiders after severe floods that have forced people--and arachnids-

-to find drier land.

"The region of Gippsland in Victoria has been whipped by 77-mph

winds and torrential rain storms since last week, killing two

residents and forcing some to evacuate, Yahoo News Australia


"The spiders are part of what looks like a biblical plague of

critters to hit Australia this year after droughts and floods that

have unleashed hordes of mice chewing their way across agricultural

areas, leaving devastated crops in their wake.  The massive mouse

infestation has some Aussies worried that snakes looking for prey

could follow the rodents in coming months, but for now some

residents in eastern Victoria can enjoy the silky trails of their

spider friends."



And more on the mice:

"Hundreds of prisoners at Wellington Correctional Center in

Australia's New South Wales state are being forced to move out of

the facility as officials scramble to repair the damage caused by

mice chomping through cables, scurrying across ceiling panels and

embedding in the building's walls.

"Corrective Services New South Wales Commissioner Peter Severin

confirmed that 'vital remediation work' needed to be carried out at

the jail, which is located about four hours from Sydney, along with

a thorough cleaning and review of the prison's infrastructure.

"'The health, safety and well-being of staff and inmates is our

number one priority so it's important for us to act now,' he said,

as an estimated 420 male and female prisoners geared up to be

relocated over the next 10 days, along with at least 200 staff






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

Well, the Old Bridge library finally opened for "drop-in browsing".

(A few months ago, they had been letting people make appointments

to browse, but then they shut that down, probably due to someone on

staff testing positive.)  Since my hip was recovered enough for me

to get around, I decided it was time to start making a dent in my

"want-to-read" list.

And I made a pretty big dent: eight books, including two inter-

library loan books I figured I would pick up at the same time.

(I'm glad I brought my big tote bag!)  These included a couple of

Hugo nominees, as I begin to work my way through the Hugo novella

finalists (and perhaps the Lodestar Young Adult finalists as well).

Also on my stack now are THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES by Alix


Irvine, ESCAPING EXODUS by Nicky Drayden, WINTER TIDE by Ruthanna


Seanan McGuire, COME TUMBLING DOWN by Sarah Gailey, and WHAT IS IT

LIKE TO GO TO WAR by Karl Marlantes (the only non-fiction book in

the batch).

So this week's column is shorter than usual, because I have a lot

of reading to do!  [-ecl]


                     Mark Leeper

* *

          Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry

          of logical ideas.

                                          --Albert Einstein