• MT VOID, 04/08/22 -- Vol. 40, No. 41, Whole Number 2218

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Apr 10 18:04:23 2022
    Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
    04/08/22 -- Vol. 40, No. 41, Whole Number 2218

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    Mini Reviews, Part 13 (HOUSE OF GUCCI, PIG,
    THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK) (film reviews
    by Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn C. Leeper)
    CRACOW MONSTERS (television review by Dale Skran)
    Brandon Sanderson's Kickstarter (comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)
    Hugo Award Finalists
    Mark Twain (letter of comment by Kip Williams)
    (letter of comment by John Purcell)
    This Week's Reading (PARADOXES)
    (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 13 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
    Evelyn C. Leeper)

    Here is the thirteenth batch of mini-reviews, with movies
    featuring crime.

    HOUSE OF GUCCI: Fashion seems to be a new interest to filmmakers:
    there was Daniel Day Lewis in PHANTOM THREAD, LAST NIGHT IN SOHO is
    about fashion designing, and now we have Adam Driver as Maurizio
    Gucci in HOUSE OF GUCCI. But this is more than a film about
    fashion; this film is an Italian family epic in much the same style
    as THE GODFATHER, but based on a true story. There is conspicuous
    wealth, scheming, betrayal and yes, even murder. The cast includes
    Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani (Maurizio's wife), Jeremy Irons as
    Maurizio's father, Al Pacino as Maurizio's uncle, and Jared Leto as
    Maurizio's inept cousin (think Fredo from THE GODFATHER).

    Released theatrically 11/24/21; available on DVD from Netflix and
    on various streaming services. Rating: +3 (-4 to +4), or 9/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    PIG: This sounds like a story about the touching relationship
    between a man and his pig. Truffle-hunting pigs can rarely be
    found, but the truffle makes it worth it. In fact, it involves a truffle-hunting pig and at the market price of truffles his talent
    makes extremely valuable. This would not be a very original
    situation for a thriller, but you will probably not find a thriller
    with the same MacGuffin. If the prize were a diamond necklace, it
    would be a dull cliched story. But you just do not see many pig
    stories. If the film were CHARLOTTE'S WEB or BABE it would be a
    different story.

    Released theatrically 07/16/21; available on DVD from Netflix and
    on various streaming services. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4), or 7/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK: This is a prequel to the HBO series "The
    Sopranos" which tells the story of the childhood and youth of Tony
    Soprano, and of the family and other characters around him with
    whom we are familiar from that series. It is narrated (rather
    minimally) by the character of Tony's nephew, Christopher
    Moltisanti, who gives away some key plot points from the series.
    And that makes it obvious that this film is for those who have seem
    the series. Apparently, we're supposed to like this because it's
    about characters we know. If it were about people we didn't know,
    it would not get much attention, and be just another crime film.

    Released on HBO Max 10/01/21; available on DVD from Netflix and on
    various streaming services. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying: <https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_many_saints_of_newark>



    TOPIC: CRACOW MONSTERS (television review by Dale Skran)

    There is a new Polish supernatural horror series on Netflix titled
    CRACOW MONSTERS. Cracow, the second largest and one of the oldest
    cities in Poland, lies on the Vistula River, and provides a
    haunting backdrop for this complex series. CRACOW MONSTERS most
    reminds me of Mike Mignola's "Hell Boy" series, which derives from
    Eastern European legends, and evinces a much darker tone than much
    of Western horror. It is not so much the sheer violence or
    horrific nature of the film, as the sense of desperation and
    hopelessness that pervades the atmosphere of this fictional Cracow.

    The strength of CRACOW MONSTERS lies in the unfamiliar nature of
    the Slavic mythology it rests on. I found pretty much everything
    fresh and interesting. Unless you are a student of the arcane,
    nothing about the background will seem familiar. In Cracow, you
    will find yourself far from home indeed. There are eight episodes,
    so some investment of time is required, but there are significant

    Although the mythology is new, some may complain that the general
    plot, which revolves around a professor and a special group of
    students who all have supernatural powers, starts to sound like the
    X-men, but the tale of a band of heroes fighting the gods dates
    back to the Odyssey. The dramatic strength of CRACOW MONSTERS grows
    in large part from the fact that the characters are not all that
    powerful, although as a team they can accomplish quite a bit. The
    professor appears to have no powers at all, and the exact
    capabilities of the main character [Alex] are never fully
    explained, possibly since she is a relatively complex invention.
    The other eight students possess the following powers:

    1. The ability to see and converse with the spirits of the dead
    2. The ability to catch glimpses of the future
    3. Telepathy/lie detection [there are twin girls, Hania and Basia,
    who either have the same power, or who only exercise their power
    working together]
    4. Telekinesis, or perhaps just the ability to unlock locks
    5. The ability to see the origin of something by touching it [Birdy]
    6. It is never clear what the power of one of the students might be
    7. There is supposed to be an eighth student, but I can't recall
    who they were or what their power was

    Nine people are required for major rituals, so that idea is that
    eight students plus Alex equals nine, but I wonder if there were
    really only seven students plus Alex plus the Professor to total
    nine. I note that in the final episode the Professor does
    participate in a major ritual.

    In any case, the Professor and his students are going up against
    Slavic gods, so they are overmatched, even with their powers.
    However, the students have mastered a considerable amount of
    ancient Slavic magic, and as it turns out Alex has an "ace" up her metaphorical sleeve. This is not a story with big "superhero" type
    battles. Action is scary but small scale, and it appears the
    "gods" are more like powerful demons who are geographically bound
    to Cracow. Still - the "gods" hold the power of life and death,
    and are perhaps most dangerous in regard to what they can offer to
    convince followers to join them.

    There is a lot of sex, drugs, violence, suicide, and general
    nastiness in CRACOW MONSTERS. The students are all damaged to one
    degree or another, and the Professor may be more dangerous than the Hollowshees. Given how generally wacked things in Cracow appear,
    it is not surprising the students feel the need to self-medicate.
    The series gives a good sense of the hermetic live of the students,
    who converse with the dead, see the future, and battle demons and
    gods. They are totally cut off from everyday reality, and it wears
    on them. Having said all that, CRACOW MONSTERS is not as grim to me
    although it does spotlight a lot more sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

    I am rating CRACOW MONSTERS a +1 at least, but a strong
    recommendation for fantasy horror fans or fans of Mike Mignola
    comics like "Hell Boy" or "BPRD", or other comics like Justice
    League Dark. Not for kids under 14 at all, and older teens only if
    they up for some strong brew. If you don't like creepy supernatural horror/fantasy stay far away, and keep the lights on. Also, this
    is a complex story with new fantasy concepts that you need to have
    some patience to follow. Don't expect to understand things right
    away, and don't let the slow start of the first episode throw you
    off the trail. I'll probably watch it again at some point to catch
    the details I missed on the first pass. [-dls]


    TOPIC: Brandon Sanderson's Kickstarter (comments by Evelyn
    C. Leeper)

    So two weeks ago I wrote about Brandon Sanderson's Kickstarter
    campaign, which had even by that point become the most funded
    Kickstarter campaign ever. Well, it ended a few days ago, topping
    off at $41,754,153 (more than double the previous top campaign),
    with 185,341 backers.

    As I noted, Sanderson's expectations seemed to be much lower, and
    he ended up with about forty times as many backers as he expected.
    Assuming my arithmetic is correct, the result of this is that he
    has to send out 79,000 audiobooks, 81,000 ebooks, and 93,000
    physical books every quarter. Actually he theoretically has to
    ship those in a single, since the plan was to ship books in four
    months and swag in the other eight. (The swag totals are 34,000
    per month, and cannot really span multiple months, because the next
    month's shipments are coming up.)

    The audiobooks and ebooks are not really a problem--Sanderson just
    needs to send a link in email and backers will download the items
    themselves. This works out to about two per minute, even if all
    the backers download in the month, and it is all spaced evenly.
    Presumably each backer will get a unique login or password, and
    these may be spread out over the month.

    It's the 93,000 books that are the problem. That works out to
    about 3000 a day, or about two per minute round the clock. Given
    that in the non-book months they still have 34,000 boxes of swag to
    send, it might be difficult to do the packaging, etc., before the
    given month.

    As they say, "Be careful what you wish for." Sanderson does have a
    publishing and distribution company, but I'm guessing if anyone is
    looking for a job, he may be hiring extra help in 2023.

    As an aside, Kickstarter has made about $2,000,000 in fees from
    this campaign. And since Sanderson did a marathon when he backed
    every publishing campaign, and even totally funded a few, many more
    projects got funded. In particular, Sanderson featured several of
    these other campaigns on a video on his YouTube channel, and all of
    these seem to have been fully funded (well, except for the campaign
    that was a parody of Sanderson's, #1757184383).

    But as happy as Sanderson may be about the success of the campaign,
    he is probably happiest that he offered the hardcover books as
    "unsigned". Had he specified "signed", he would have had to sign
    almost 400,000 books. [-ecl]


    TOPIC: Hugo Award Finalists

    There were 1368 valid nominating ballots (1366 electronic and 2
    paper) received and counted from the members of the 2021 and 2022
    World Science Fiction Conventions for the 2022 Hugo Awards.

    [There are too many categories and long lists of editors and
    contributors for me to format everything, so I will list the major
    ones (IMHO), and you can access the full list at <https://chicon.org/home/whats-happening/hugo-awards/>.]

    Best Novel

    1151 ballots for 443 nominees; finalist range 111-242

    A DESOLATION CALLED PEACE, by Arkady Martine (Tor)
    (Harper Voyager / Hodder & Stoughton)
    (Tor / St Martin's Press)
    A MASTER OF DJINN, by P. Djeli Clark (Tordotcom / Orbit UK)
    PROJECT HAIL MARY, by Andy Weir (Ballantine / Del Rey)
    SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN, by Shelley Parker-Chan (Tor / Mantle)

    Best Novella

    807 ballots for 138 nominees; finalist range 90-235

    "Across the Green Grass Fields", by Seanan McGuire (Tordotcom)
    "Elder Race", by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Tordotcom)
    "Fireheart Tiger", by Aliette de Bodard (Tordotcom)
    "The Past Is Red", by Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom)
    "A Psalm for the Wild-Built", by Becky Chambers (Tordotcom)
    "A Spindle Splintered, by Alix E. Harrow (Tordotcom)

    Best Novelette

    463 ballots for 171 nominees; finalist range 44-74

    "Bots of the Lost Ark", by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld,
    Jun 2021)
    "Colors of the Immortal Palette", by Caroline M. Yoachim
    (Uncanny Magazine, Mar/Apr 2021)
    "L'Esprit de L'Escalier", by Catherynne M. Valente (Tordotcom)
    "O2 Arena", by Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki (Galaxy's Edge,
    Nov 2021)
    "That Story Isn't the Story", by John Wiswell
    (Uncanny Magazine, Nov/Dec 2021)
    "Unseelie Brothers, Ltd.", by Fran Wilde (Uncanny Magazine,
    May/Jun 2021)

    Best Short Story

    632 ballots for 589 nominees; finalist range 44-96

    "Mr. Death", by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, Feb 2021)
    "Proof by Induction", by José Pablo Iriarte (Uncanny Magazine,
    May/Jun 2021)
    "The Sin of America", by Catherynne M. Valente
    (Uncanny Magazine, Mar/Apr 2021)
    "Tangles", by Seanan McGuire (Magicthegathering.com:
    Magic Story, Sep 2021)
    "Unknown Number", by Blue Neustifter (Twitter, Jul 2021)
    "Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather", by Sarah Pinsker
    (Uncanny Magazine, Mar/Apr 2021)

    Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

    597 ballots for 192 nominees; finalist range 67-261

    DUNE (Warner Bros / Legendary Entertainment)
    ENCANTO (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
    Studios Motion Pictures)
    SPACE SWEEPERS (Bidangil Pictures)
    WANDAVISION (Disney+)

    Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

    386 ballots for 337 nominees; finalist range 25-44

    The Wheel of Time: "The Flame of Tar Valon" (Amazon Studios)
    For All Mankind: "The Grey" (Tall Ship Productions /
    Sony Pictures Television)
    Arcane: "The Monster You Created" (Netflix)
    The Expanse: "Nemesis Games" (Amazon Studios)
    Loki: "The Nexus Event" (Disney+)
    Star Trek: Lower Decks: "wej Duj" (CBS Eye Animation

    Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book (not a Hugo)

    450 ballots for 208 nominees; finalist range 59-117

    CHAOS ON CATNET, by Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen)
    IRON WIDOW, by Xiran Jay Zhao (Penguin Teen / Rock the Boat)
    THE LAST GRADUATE, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey Books)
    REDEMPTOR, by Jordan Ifueko (Amulet Books / Hot Key Books)
    A SNAKE FALLS TO EARTH, by Darcie Little Badger
    (Levine Querido)
    VICTORIES GREATER THAN DEATH, by Charlie Jane Anders
    (Tor Teen / Titan)

    Astounding Award for Best New Writer, sponsored by Dell Magazines
    (not a Hugo)

    416 ballots for 187 nominees; finalist range 44-119

    Tracy Deonn (2nd year of eligibility)
    Micaiah Johnson (2nd year of eligibility)
    A.K. Larkwood (2nd year of eligibility)
    Everina Maxwell (1st year of eligibility)
    Shelley Parker-Chan (1st year of eligibility)
    Xiran Jay Zhao (1st year of eligibility)


    TOPIC: Mark Twain (letter of comment by Kip Williams)

    In response to Evelyn's comments on collecting Mark Twain in the
    04/01/22 issue of the MT VOID, Kip Williams writes:

    Just to pass along a recommendation on complete things of Twain,
    the two volumes of Library of America that collect his short pieces
    are outstanding, going all the way back to newspaper days (I've no
    doubt more of that awaits finding).

    This is the most concentrated, heady draught of Twain that I know
    of--ideal vacation reading, too. It's my opinion that any dozen
    pages of his short work is more interesting than a dozen pages of
    his book-length material, and that's no slight on the long stuff.


    TOPIC: MANDIBLES, DANGEROUS VISIONS, and Jorge Luis Borges (letter
    of comment by John Purcell)

    In response to Mark and Evelyn's review of MANDIBLES in the
    04/01/22 issue of the MT VOID, John Purcell writes:

    I am not fond of movies with subtitles, but MANDIBLES sounds
    suitably strange enough to warrant a viewing. After living in
    Texas for over two decades, seeing larger than normal insects and
    other creepy crawlies doesn't surprise me much any more, but "a
    giant fly the size of a cocker spaniel" would definitely freak me
    out. No, thank you! So it's in French? Interesting. I am glad
    you said that the subtitles are readable, and this brief plot
    synopsis sounds like this could be a fun thing to watch. Many

    In response to Joe Karpierz's review of DANGEROUS VISIONS in the
    same issue, John writes:

    Well, there are science fiction readers who have yet to read
    DANGEROUS VISIONS, so Joe Karpierz's review of this landmark tome
    doesn't surprise me. In fact, it is good to see a relatively
    unbiased modern reader's take on this collection of stories. It
    definitely broke new ground, and I agree with Joe that some of the
    stories left me cold and indifferent. However, there were so many
    excellent stories included that the head-scratchers receded into
    the background. It has been years since I have read the two
    DANGEROUS VISIONS collections, so maybe, just maybe, I will give
    those aforementioned "qua?" stories another chance one of these
    years. We shall see.

    And in response to Evelyn's comments on collecting Jorge Luis
    Borges's short stories in the same issue, John writes:

    Jorge Luis Borges is an author I have read very little of, which is
    a sad admission to make for a college English professor. What I
    have read, though, has been entertaining and enlightening. Borges
    is a fine writer, and I really should read more of his work.

    That will work for now. Take care, and thank you once again for
    this weekly zine. [-jp]

    Evelyn notes:

    Well, of course, Borges is not an author who wrote in English (or
    rather, he only wrote a limited amount of non-fiction in English).
    It has always been strange to me that we have classes labeled as
    "English classes" which teach a whole bunch of stuff in
    translation. Even when they are called "World Literature" they
    seem to be taught out of the English department. Or is this
    something that is no longer true? [-ecl]


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

    PARADOXES by R. M. Sainsbury (Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-48347-6) covers such paradoxes as Zeno's paradoxes, the
    barber paradox, and the paradox of the heap. The last deals with
    the question, "If a pile of 10,000 grains of sand is a heap, and
    you take one grain away, is it still a heap? If so, and you keep
    doing this, when does it stop being a heap?" Sainsbury addresses
    the paradox and says there are similar paradoxes about hairs and
    baldness. In trying to resolve the paradox, he discusses the
    concepts of vagueness and definiteness (e.g., there is a range that
    is definitely a heap, a range that is definitely *not* a heap, and
    a range in between that may or may not be a heap). So far,
    Sainsbury is in his area of expertise. But he then steps out of
    that area, and as often happens when someone steps out of their
    area of expertise, he stumbles badly: he says, "However it is
    absurd to suggest that "Yul Brynner is bald" is anything other than *definitely* true." [Emphasis his.] Alas, "Yul Brynner is bald"
    is just the sort of statement that is *not* definitely true, *nor*
    definitely *not* true, because Yul Brynner appeared bald because he
    shaved his head. He began doing this for THE KING AND I in 1956,
    and liked the way it made him look. So if by "bald" you mean "has
    no hairs growing on his head" he was not bald. If my "bald" you
    mean "doesn't seem to have any hairs on his head", he was bald
    right after shaving, but not bald a few hours later (and also
    depending on how close the observer was). The whole situation is a
    lot more vague than Sainsbury thinks. (Telly Savalas was also
    "artificially" bald; he first shaved his head for THE GREATEST
    STORY EVER TOLD in 1965. Patrick Stewart, on the other hand, is
    naturally bald.)

    Sainsbury makes a more critical error later, though. Or rather,
    neither he nor his copy editor caught a slip of the typewriter.

    He starts with the hypotheses R1, "All ravens are black" (or,
    "There are no ravens that are not-black"), and also R2, "Everything
    non-black is a non-raven". He then writes, "Any two of these three
    hypotheses are equivalent, and this can be shown simply by
    reflection, with appeal to experience; so the equivalence can be
    known a priori. For example, suppose R1 is true: all ravens are
    black. Then clearly, any non-black thing is not a raven, or, as R2
    puts it, is a non-raven. So if R1 is true, so is R2. Now suppose
    that R1 is false; then some ravens are not black. However, this
    means that some things that are not black are not ravens, so R2 is
    false, too. Thus R1 and R2 are equivalent, and this can be known a

    But "some ravens are not black" does *not* mean that "some things
    that are not black are not ravens." "Some A are not B" is not the
    same as "Some not B are not A, specifically in the case that some B
    and all not B are A. [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    There's nothing wrong with being shallow as long as
    you're insightful about it.
    --Dennis Miller

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  • From Gary McGath@21:1/5 to eleeper@optonline.net on Mon Apr 11 06:07:06 2022
    On 4/10/22 9:04 PM, eleeper@optonline.net wrote:
    So two weeks ago I wrote about Brandon Sanderson's Kickstarter
    campaign, which had even by that point become the most funded
    Kickstarter campaign ever. Well, it ended a few days ago, topping
    off at $41,754,153 (more than double the previous top campaign),
    with 185,341 backers.

    Fundraisers are strange things. Recently I encountered one where the
    author let people pay for the privilege of doing beta reading. It seemed
    to be doing fairly well, though I don't know how many people paid for
    that "perk."

    Gary McGath http://www.mcgath.com

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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  • From Paul Dormer@21:1/5 to evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com on Mon Apr 11 11:58:00 2022
    In article <80430efc-4f9e-4dc5-b245-c303924931ffn@googlegroups.com>, evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com () wrote:

    Patrick Stewart, on the other hand, is
    naturally bald.

    As an aside, there was a landmark TV series made by the BBC in the late
    sixties called Civilisation, written and fronted by Kenneth Clark the art historian. In the episode on the Elizabethan age, he got members of the
    Royal Shakespeare Company of the time to perform scenes from Shakespeare.
    One of the scenes was the gravedigger scene from Hamlet. Ian Richardson
    was Hamlet and Patrick Stewart was Horatio. He had hair. But when I
    mentioned this to a friend who often goes to RSC productions, she pointed
    out he was actually already bald by then.

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
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