• MT VOID, 05/20/22 -- Vol. 40, No. 47, Whole Number 2224

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun May 22 06:37:24 2022
    Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
    05/20/22 -- Vol. 40, No. 47, Whole Number 2224

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    Correction to HERO OF TWO WORLDS Review (comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)
    Mini Reviews, Part 18 (THE BETA TEST; THE CARD COUNTER;
    EVENING SUN; TICK, TICK ... BOOM (film reviews
    by Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn C. Leeper)
    STARS AND BONES by Gareth L. Powell (audio book review
    by Joe Karpierz)
    This Week's Reading (THE DEVIL AND MISS PRYM)
    (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: Correction to HERO OF TWO WORLDS Review (comments by Evelyn
    C. Leeper)

    Cut-and-paste strikes again! The final paragraphs belonged with
    the review of HERO OF TWO WORLDS, *not* the review of ROME'S

    One paragraph definitely struck me as topical:

    Earlier in the trip, [Auguste] Levasseur met some hard-core
    Jacksonian partisans in the Pennsylvania militia who threatened
    to take up arms if their man lost. After Adams won, he ran
    into them again. "Well," Levasseur said, "the great question
    is decided, and in a manner contrary to your hopes, what do you
    intend to do? How soon do you lay siege to the capital?"
    They laughed. "You recollect our threats," one said, "we went
    in truth to great lengths, but our opponents disregarded it and
    acted properly. Now that it is settled all we have to do is
    obey. We will support Adams as zealously as if he were our
    candidate, but at the same time shall keep a close watch on his
    administration and according as it is good or bad we will
    defend or attack it. Four years is soon past, and the
    consequences of a bad election are easily obviated."

    How times have changed! :-(



    TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 18 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
    Evelyn C. Leeper)

    Here is the eighteenth--and last--batch of mini-reviews of 2021
    films sent as screeners.

    THE BETA TEST: In THE BETA TEST, the main character is the sort of
    over-charged Hollywood agent we have seen before, except even more
    so. The main character treats everyone he knows the same
    infuriating way, and that saves him the effort of trying to
    understand any of the people he is dealing with. Then he receives
    a strange letter inviting him to an anonymous sexual encounter, and
    his frantic personality becomes even more so, as he attempts to
    deal with the web ensnaring him. In many ways this is reminiscent
    of EYES WIDE SHUT, and indeed the filmmakers have just done a live
    reading of the Stanley Kubrick classic.

    Released theatrically 11/05/21; available on various streaming
    services. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    THE CARD COUNTER: The beginning of THE CARD COUNTER recalls many
    other gambling films (CROUPIER, HARD EIGHT, 21, THE CINCINNATI
    KID), and you will see some of the poker played the way it is in
    CASINO ROYALE. The main character (William Tell, played by Oscar
    Isaac) tells how he gambles and what his strategy (and philosophy)
    is. It is always interesting to see a professional do his thing,
    as well as to see the tacky neon decoration of the casino town.
    But then things take a darker turn as he is visited by someone
    (Cirk, played by Tye Sheridan) who wants to use Tell's past skills
    to achieve his own goals. There are peculiar chuckling sounds on
    the soundtrack that never get explained. Caveat: There is strong
    violence and full frontal male nudity.

    Released 09/10/21; available on various streaming services.
    Rating: +2 (-4 to +4), or 7/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    typical Wes Anderson film, with lots of visual jokes, and many
    actors in common with THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. Indeed, the cast
    is rather spectacular, with seven Oscar winners, 9 Oscar nominees,
    and three long-time Anderson collaborators. The script is notable,
    consisting of three separate stories supposedly printed in the
    title magazine: "The Cycling Reporter" (who reports on the town of Ennui-sur-Blase), "The Concrete Masterpiece" (about mentally
    disturbed artist), "Revisions to a Manifesto" (dealing with the
    "Chessboard Revolution"), and "The Private Dining Room of the
    Police Commissioner", all of which interconnect. The set design
    has the same sense of symmetry as THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, and is
    filmed in part in color and in part in black and white.

    Released theatrically 10/21/21; available on various streaming
    services and on DVD from Netflix. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    TICK, TICK ... BOOM: TICK, TICK ... BOOM (try putting that title
    into print) is about real life Jonathan Larson, who composed the
    Broadway hit RENT. TICK, TICK ... BOOM is based on an earlier "autobiographical rock monologue". Andrew Garfield, who plays
    Larson, is carving out a nice career for himself, not only as Peter
    Parker (Spider-Man), but also in such roles as Robin Cavendish in
    BREATHE. This is a very high-energy film, which for the actors
    must be a bit like acting in a marathon, even given it is not shot
    all at once. It may be heretical, but I liked this better than

    Released theatrically 11/19/21; available on Netflix streaming.
    Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4), or 7/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:



    TOPIC: STARS AND BONES by Gareth L. Powell (copyright 2022,
    W. F. Howes, Ltd., 8 hours and 28 minutes, ASIN: B09RLLWWZ5,
    narrated by Rebecca Norfolk) (audio book review by Joe Karpierz)

    The history of space opera is littered with stories of alien races
    saving humanity from itself. Our alien watchers keep an eye on the
    citizens of the planet, carefully watching the development of the
    human race, trying to make a decision regarding the worthiness of
    humanity to survive or die. Then there's stories of humanity
    encountering a mysterious deadly enemy that can't be stopped.
    There are tales of living ships, who are the companions and
    protectors of the people of Earth. There are tales of omnipotent
    overlords who ensure that humanity doesn't do anything stupid.
    Most of us have read stories that contain one or two or all of
    these tropes, some of which are successful and some of which are
    less so.

    After reading Gareth L. Powell's collaboration with Peter F.
    Hamilton, LIGHT CHASER, I was sufficiently intrigued to read some
    solo work by Powell. So I picked up the audio book for STARS AND
    BONES, a Continuance novel. What I got was basically all of the
    above, with one minor twist: the alien race wasn't necessarily
    saving humanity, it was saving the Earth *from* humanity. Told in
    a series of flashback chapters, we learn that the inhabitants of
    Earth were doing what they do best--destroying the planet much as
    we are doing today--but were set to destroy themselves in a nuclear
    holocaust. Those watchful aliens, sitting out deep in the solar
    system, decided that the human race was worth saving due to a
    technological advance that is essentially Powell's way of getting
    around the FTL problem. The Angels, as they were called, prevented
    the warheads from going off, and evacuated the planet of every last
    living human they could. The price for that salvation was the
    humanity could never again live on a planet where they could
    destroy an ecosystem like they did Earth's. Hence, the Continuance
    was born, a fleet of huge living ships--most of which were
    arkships that carried human beings through space--which spread
    throughout the galaxy looking for a place
    to settle which wouldn't run afoul of the Angel's edict.

    The story begins gaining steam when a distress signal is detected
    coming from planet Candidate 623. Eryn, on the Vanguard ship
    Furious Ocelot, goes to Candidate 623 and discovers that her sister
    Shay had been there on her ship the Couch Surfer (if nothing else,
    the ship names are awesome), and was now dead. Eryn is determined
    to discover who the alien enemy is and gain revenge for the death
    of her sister.

    And then the fun begins.

    As with many stories like STARS AND BONES, the alien entity is
    extremely powerful, killing and assimilating--no, it's not a
    Borg--everything in its wake in an effort to put an end to humanity
    for, as we might expect, reasons it only knows. But there's more
    to the story than the big bad running around the galaxy killing
    things. Eryn's quest to gain revenge for the death of her sister
    is only part of the story. Shay's se daughter, and the daughter's
    father, play a role in shaping who Eryn is. Her feelings about her
    niece and her father are complex to say the least. My suspicions
    are that if (or maybe when) we see more novels of the Continuance,
    we'll see more of Eryn's family.

    Earlier I mentioned flashback chapters. Two of the characters in
    those flashbacks--Haruki, the richest man on Earth, and Frank, a
    physicist, played a large role not only in the set up for the main
    body of the story, but also in the end when the major discovery of
    what the marauding alien is and maybe, just maybe, how it can be
    dealt with. Eryn goes looking for Frank, and what she encounters
    when she finds him--which isn't easy, as he's trying to keep his
    location secret--sets the novel careening headlong to its

    STARS AND BONES is a well written novel, with straightforward prose
    and a pace that keeps things interesting. It doesn't, however,
    really break any new ground. It tells a story that we are
    generally familiar with. It's a good old fashioned space opera
    that uses space opera tropes effectively. There's nothing really
    surprising here. STARS AND BONES is comfort food for those that
    want something familiar. If I had one complaint with the story, it
    was how the threat was dealt with. It felt almost rushed, almost
    like a cheat when all was said and done. But in reality, maybe
    that wasn't the point of the story. Maybe the point was the
    characters and *their* stories.

    If I had one more complaint about the novel, it wasn't about the
    novel itself but with the narrator. Rebecca Norfolk seemed to be
    rushing through the book, and she didn't change tone or voice when
    she was reading different characters. She didn't throw me out of
    the story, as I was invested in what was happening, but her lack of
    personal style--at least in my opinion--detracted from my
    enjoyment of the book just a bit.

    Overall, a nice novel to while away the time with when you're
    looking for a change of pace. And sometimes that's all you need.


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

    THE DEVIL AND MISS PRYM by Paul Coelho (translated by Amanda
    Hopkinson) (Harper One, ISBN 978-0-060-52800-3) is basically a
    reworking of Fredrich Duerrenmatt's play THE VISIT, which is
    actually mentioned by one of the characters. In THE DEVIL AND MISS
    PRYM, the village will get ten bars of gold if they murder one of
    the villagers within three days.

    It is not clear exactly when the story takes place. But it is
    obviously after 1956, when THE VISIT was written, so it is not too
    unlikely that it was also after 1962, when the "Twilight Zone"
    episode "The Hunt" aired. "The Hunt" was an original story by Earl
    Hamner, Jr., about a man and his dog and their encounters with
    Heaven and Hell, and the plot of it is re-told as a story in THE

    But it isn't the originality of the premise or internal stories (or
    lack thereof) that matters, but the way it which Coelho tells his
    story, and that is what makes this well worth reading. [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    People asking questions, lost in confusion, well I tell
    them there's no problem, only solution.
    -- John Lennon

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