• MT VOID, 06/17/22 -- Vol. 40, No. 51, Whole Number 2228

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jun 19 07:13:34 2022
    Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
    06/17/22 -- Vol. 40, No. 51, Whole Number 2228

    Co-Editor: Mark Leeper, mleeper@optonline.net
    Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, eleeper@optonline.net
    Sending Address: evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com
    All material is the opinion of the author and is copyrighted by the
    author unless otherwise noted.
    All comments sent or posted will be assumed authorized for
    inclusion unless otherwise noted.

    To subscribe or unsubscribe, send mail to eleeper@optonline.net
    The latest issue is at <http://www.leepers.us/mtvoid/latest.htm>.
    An index with links to the issues of the MT VOID since 1986 is at <http://leepers.us/mtvoid/back_issues.htm>.

    Juneteenth and LINCOLN (film comments by Mark R. Leeper
    and Evelyn C. Leeper)
    12 YEARS A SLAVE (film review by Mark R. Leeper)
    (audio book review by Joe Karpierz)
    BLADE RUNNER (letters of comment by John Purcell
    and Keith F. Lynch)
    2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (letter of comment by John Purcell)
    BY FORCE ALONE (letters of comment by John Purcell,
    Keith F. Lynch, and Gary McGath)
    This Week's Reading (MAKING HISTORY) (book comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: LINCOLN (a film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn
    C. Leeper)

    Juneteenth (officially Juneteenth National Independence Day) is our
    newest Federal holiday. It commemorates the emancipation of
    enslaved African-Americans.

    President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January
    1, 1863, but that freed only slaves in states still in rebellion.
    On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston
    to enforce that Proclamation, and this is seen as the end of
    slavery. However, until the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was
    ratified by the required twenty-seven states on December 6, 1865
    (Georgia being the last of these), slavery was still legal in
    Delaware and Kentucky.

    (The last states to ratify the amendment were Delaware (1901),
    Kentucky (1976), and Mississippi (ratified 1995, but not until 2013
    was the US Archivist officially notified).)

    In celebration of Juneteenth, here are some observations about the
    film LINCOLN, which focuses on the passing of the 13th Amendment by

    Capsule: In LINCOLN, with very interesting release timing and with
    considerable historical accuracy, Stephen Spielberg tells the
    history of the two great conflicting goals Abraham Lincoln had
    toward the end of the Civil War. He wanted both to free the slaves
    and to end the fighting. Spielberg does not simplify the issues.
    Much of the film is talk. He respects his audience's intelligence
    enough to tell the complex story and maintain a great deal of
    historical accuracy. The film even looks very authentic to the
    period. The viewer may have to work hard to catch all that is
    happening, but the task is worth the effort. This is a film for an
    intelligent audience.

    It is impressive to see so many art house actors playing even in
    small roles in this film.

    At the beginning, there is an implication is that soldiers--black
    and white--had memorized the Gettysburg Address. This is probably
    not likely.

    Lincoln easily slips into the middle of a joke, making it his joke,
    and then returning to the topic. These jokes and Lincoln's
    humorous analogies are a distraction and a slyly used tool.
    However, not all of Lincoln's humor strikes the modern viewer as
    hilarious. But there is no lack of modern humor as the
    abolitionist's President's agents search out Congressmen who would
    vote against Lincoln and try to change their minds.

    Mary Todd Lincoln's self-promotions of her own interests make her
    seem more of a liability to her husband than an asset. She might
    be interesting enough if she had her own film, but in this film she
    seems merely to interrupt the main story. (On the other hand,
    maybe the idea is that Lincoln has more than just the 13th
    Amendment to deal with.)

    This is Daniel Day-Lewis's second-to-final film and a role for
    which he will probably be remembered well. His voice, however, is
    not as high-pitched as Lincoln's was reported to be.

    The military use of the telegraph and its use in general is the
    highlight of the civil war rarely discussed in film.

    Even though Spielberg and his audience know the political result of
    these issues, Spielberg manages to create real suspense as to the
    outcome. Spielberg's talent covers many types of films, and many
    styles. Here he colors his photography with a darkness of film

    The scenes of the aftermath of the war are drawn out. They may be
    historically correct, but they do little to advance the story of
    the film. (There is, however, a slight trick placed on the viewer
    in them.) Perhaps it would have been better for the film to have
    ended either with Lincoln walking away from the camera and out the
    door of the White House, or with the announcement of the
    Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston (although Lincoln makes it
    quite clear early in the film why the Emancipation Proclamation is
    of questionable legality, and uncertain to stay in effect after the
    end of the war, and hence *why* the 13th Amendment is needed).

    Rating: high +3 (-4 to +4) or 9/10

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:



    TOPIC: 12 YEARS A SLAVE (film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    [In honor of Juneteenth, our newest Federal holiday, we are
    re-running Mark's review of 12 YEARS A SLAVE, which originally
    appeared 12/06/13. Note that an earlier version of Northup's
    story, SOLOMON NORTHUP'S ODYSSEY (1984), will be running on TCM
    on July 14, 2022 at 7:00AM. This starred Avery Brooks [Captain
    Sisko in "Star Trek:Deep Space Nine"] in his first television

    CAPSULE: This is the truly horrifying true story of Solomon
    Northup, a free-born black man who in 1841 was kidnapped and sold
    into slavery. 12 YEARS A SLAVE is based on his eyewitness account
    of his years of slavery, what he saw, and what he experienced. As
    one character puts it, "the story is amazing and in no good way."
    It is a powerful and important film, an unflinching look at some of
    (what we would hope is) the worst cruelty of human slavery in the
    Antebellum South. Rating: +3 (-4 to +4) or 9/10

    [Spoiler warning: I discuss one shocking sequence in the film that
    really needs to be commented on. I do not think that it diminishes
    the viewing experience.]

    Over the years we have seen films about crimes against humanity
    committed in history. There are many very good films about the
    European Holocaust. There simply have not been very many films to
    depict the nightmarish cruelty of slavery in the United States. No
    doubt part of the reason is financial. Selling the idea that the
    country allowed the horrendous crimes that occurred under slavery
    would not sell well to the American public. The narrative film
    that came the closest was probably the television mini-series
    ROOTS, made under the eyes of the network censors. That film
    handled the subject considerably more gently than the subject
    really deserved in order not to offend the television-watching
    public. This may be the first narrative film to show slavery this realistically. Not all slaves were treated so cruelly under
    American slavery as we see in the film, and some no doubt had it
    considerably worse, though how that could be strains the
    imagination. What we see in this film is credible and damning

    Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) was a well-educated,
    free-born black man living in Saratoga, New York in 1841 when he
    was offered a supposed job with a circus. He accompanied two men
    to Washington, DC, where instead they drugged him and sold him as a
    slave. He was forced to hide his education and take a name he was
    given, Platt. Periodic beatings were part of his treatment from
    the beginning. He was treated hellishly and so were the other
    slaves around him.

    In truth, not everybody in the South's slave system is portrayed as
    being sadistic and cruel. Northup's first "master," William Ford
    (Benedict Cumberbatch) seems to be a decent man of conscience who
    appreciates Northup's intelligence and talents. However, the
    racial system is stacked against blacks and abhors even the
    mutually beneficial relationship Northup and Ford enjoy. Ford's
    carpenter (Paul Dano), white and jealous of Northup's position, is
    able to destroy the relationship. Northup has to work for a new
    and less scrupled master, Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). For the
    slaves working for Epps is a constant parade of beatings, rape, and
    torture, physical and mental. All of this is sanctioned by
    Scripture, as Epps tells his slaves.

    In the film we see a spectrum of decency or lack thereof among the
    slave owners. Though as with Ford even a decent master is no
    protection from the system. And perhaps the most shocking sequence
    has Northup nearly lynched and left hanging from a tree limb
    standing tiptoe to breathe. As he stands there slaves around him
    go about their daily business doing there best not to look at him
    and none daring to help him or even visibly react to his peril
    apparently for fear of being made to share his fate. This goes
    beyond injustice and cruelty to the point of dehumanizing the
    innocent. It is a scene reminiscent of some of the worst of the
    European Holocaust.

    The screenplay by John Ridley is based on Northup's own book and
    had to be carefully written to avoid melodrama. Recounting this
    story of slaves in the hands of decadent slaveholders, it would
    have been tempting to go overboard. The horrors of slavery are
    many, but it would be too easy to go to extremes and end with the
    cheap and unreal effect of Richard Fleischer's melodramatic
    MANDINGO. Even Quentin Tarantino's DJANGO UNCHAINED felt a little
    false on the subject of slavery. At no point does one feel this
    film is exaggerating.

    The film has an impressive cast with familiar actors in even some
    relatively small parts. One suspects that as with Stanley Kramer's
    JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG actors were willing to accept minor roles
    just to be associated with an important film. Also, the right
    director had to be chosen, not just for his dramatic talent, but
    perhaps to fit the right profile. When Steven Spielberg made THE
    COLOR PURPLE, in some quarters it was held against him that he was
    a white man and a Jew making the film about the black experience.
    Director Steve McQueen is black but British so he is also an
    outsider to the American black experience.

    Like Steven Spielberg's LINCOLN from last year, and for which this
    is a good companion piece, this film is required viewing to
    understand the United States as it was in the 19th, 20th, and 21st
    century. I rate it a +3 on the -4 to +4 scale or 9/10.

    Film Credits: <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2024544/combined>

    What others are saying:



    (copyright 2021, Harper Audio, 9 hours and 55 minutes, ASIN
    B08BPLNBQZ, narrated by Rachel Dulude) (audio book review by Joe

    THE GALAXY, AND THE GROUND WITHIN, is Becky Chambers' latest (and
    possibly last, although I don't really know that for sure) entry in
    her "Wayfarers: series, which won the Hugo Award for Best Series in
    2019. Chambers does not disappoint those who love her fully
    fleshed out characters, her beautiful writing style, and the
    situations that make her novels so endearing.

    The story takes place on the planet Gora, which, if I remember
    correctly, means "useless". The only thing that Gora has going for
    it is that it is near a confluence of the wormholes that connect
    the various worlds of the Galactic Commons. As a result of this
    fortuitous location, although it is essentially a barren rock, it
    has become a way station of sorts for travelers to stop and rest
    before moving on to their next destinations. There are multiple
    places to stay and visit on Gora, but the novel takes place at the
    Five-Hop One-Stop, a kind of all-in-one location for travelers and,
    well, Wayfarers. The host/proprietor is Ouloo. With the aid of
    her child Tupo, she runs the Five-Hop, trying her best to make all
    her guests feel welcome, happy, and comfortable.

    The story takes place just after an accident takes out satellite
    communications and prevents travel to and from the planet until the
    satellite network is repaired. As luck would have it, the Five-Hop
    has three guests staying there at the time of the accident: Pei, an
    Aeluon; Roveg, a Quelin; and Speaker, an Akarak. The only thing of
    note is that none of the five characters in the novel are human,
    although Pei may miss a rendezvous with her secret human lover,
    Ashby (thus connecting this book to the first book in the series,
    THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL ANGRY PLANET). The fact that none of the
    characters are human is really not the point, and thus descriptions
    of the various races are also not the point. The point is that
    each of the four races is different, with their own problems, their
    own thoughts, their own dreams, and their own concerns. These
    differences are what drive the story, as Chambers plays to her
    strength by describing the interactions of these characters, and
    the growth all of them--even the child Tupo--xperience as a result
    of the days they spend together waiting for the satellite network
    to be repaired.

    Back in 1983 I listened to Isaac Asimov talk about beginning the
    process of writing FOUNDATION'S EDGE after Doubleday, I believe it
    was, threw a semi-truck full of money at him for it. He said he
    started by going back and reading the original "Foundation
    Trilogy", and he realized that absolutely nothing happened in those
    three books. It was just a lot of people doing a lot of talking.
    While no one in their right mind can compare the "Wayfarers" series
    to the "Foundation Trilogy"--Chambers is a significantly better
    writer all the way around than Asimov was, and writes better
    characters while asleep than Asimov ever did--the one comparison
    that can be made between the two is that nothing happens in either

    To be fair, anyone who has stuck around for the entire "Wayfarers"
    series *knows* that there is no plot in these books, and they go
    into it with that knowledge and are perfectly okay with it because
    of all the things I wrote earlier in this review regarding
    character, situations, and style. Thus, this book is not for
    everyone. Heck, her Hugo nominated novella of a few years ago, "To
    Be Fortunate, If Taught", was an outstanding piece of storytelling
    that I thought deserved the Hugo that year--and it had an actual
    plot. I'm really not a fan of the three-day study of character
    interactions, a "day in the life", if you will. I want my novels
    to have a plot. Now there are those of you out there saying "wait
    a minute, you like Kim Stanley Robinson's MINISTRY FOR THE FUTURE,
    and it didn't have a plot". Fair. I think it not only had
    something* of a plot, but it was intensely interesting. Your
    mileage may vary, of course.

    I'm not saying that THE GALAXY, AND THE GROUND WITHIN is a bad
    book. Far from it, it has a lot going for it. Chambers' writing
    is as impeccable as ever, and the characters and their interactions
    are fascinating. It's a good book. It's just not my cup of tea.
    Not all books are for everyone. This one isn't for me, but I can
    see why people like it.

    Another outstanding aspect of the audio book is the narrator,
    Rachel Dulude. She changes voices with the characters. Tupo
    sounds like a typical kid, and Ouloo sounds like a typical mom.
    All the characters are distinguishable from each other by the
    voices that Dulude uses. She makes all the characters and the
    novel fun to listen to, even if it's not something I'd go out of my
    way to read. [-jak]


    TOPIC: BLADE RUNNER (letters of comment by John Purcell and Keith
    F. Lynch)

    In response to Mark's comments on BLADE RUNNER in the 06/10/22
    issue of the MT VOID, John Purcell writes:

    First up, it is hard to believe that BLADE RUNNER is twenty-five
    years old this year. Unreal. I enjoyed this movie and its dark
    film noir atmosphere. Very effective. Of all the versions of this
    movie that have been released, I have only seen the original
    version, so that is all I have to go by. Still, it was very well
    produced and effective. Your comment that you wondered if the
    Earth had stopped rotating kind of made me think of the physics
    that would result, and it would be cataclysmic, to say the least.
    The whole planet would be messed up, not just Los Angeles, and
    likely everybody would be dead. Now *those* visual effects would
    have been fun to create, but that's not exactly what PKD had in
    mind. Still, a good movie. [-jp]

    Keith F. Lynch writes:

    You should have mentioned that the future it's set in--November,
    2019--is two and a half years in our past. Instead of a dystopia,
    2019 feels like a golden age, before anyone had heard of COVID-19.
    (Actually, that's probably the month that that virus came into
    existence.) [-kfl]


    TOPIC: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (letter of comment by John Purcell)

    In response to comments on the accuracy of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY in
    the 06/10/22 issue of the MT VOID, John Purcell writes:

    As for 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, I have always thought that the
    accuracy of the science in that movie was pretty good. However,
    here we are twenty-one years after the movie's setting, and things
    did not exactly turn out as projected in this 1968 movie. Well,
    that's why this kind of movie is called science fiction: it's not
    trying to be an accurate projection of the future, just a
    possibility of how things could be. For that matter, don't get me
    started on the sequel movie and book 2010, starring Roy Scheider.
    Man, did *that* one miss the bus by a wide margin! [-jp]


    TOPIC: BY FORCE ALONE (letters of comment by John Purcell, Keith
    F. Lynch, and Gary McGath)

    In response to Evelyn's review of BY FORCE ALONE in the 06/10/22
    issue of the MT VOID, John Purcell writes:

    Evelyn's review of BY FORCE ALONE has piqued my interest. Since I
    need to renew my public library card, one of these days I will go
    down there and take care of that and see if this book is on the
    shelves. It sounds like a fun premise to base the rewrite of the
    Arthurian legend. [-jp]

    Keith F. Lynch writes:

    [Evelyn writes,] "'Merlin mutters pi. Pi is an irrational
    number--only such numbers hold power in an irrational place--and it
    is transcendental, which seems appropriate. And it is infinite,
    just like the Weald.' (Well, no it's not infinite--its decimal
    expression is infinitely long.)"

    True. But there was no concept of decimal expression in those
    days. Nor did anyone know that pi was irrational until the 18th
    century, or transcendental until the 19th.

    [Evelyn writes,] "He also goes on about the square root of two
    being irrational, which doesn't strike me as something the Merlin
    of this story would be that informed about."

    But at least the Greeks of the time already knew that the square
    root of two was irrational. [-kfl]

    Gary McGath writes:

    [Evelyn writes,] "BY FORCE ALONE is the story of how Arthur started
    as a minor juvenile delinquent and rose Al-Capone-like (or
    Tony-Soprano-like, for today's readers) to rule all of Britain as
    the "capo del capi", while Guinevere began as the leader of a group
    of female bandits."

    Makes sense. In post-Roman, pre-Saxon Britain, the distinction
    between a king (or queen) and a bandit leader was blurry. [-gmg]


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

    Cohen (Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-1-982-19578-6) is not about
    history per se, but about historians, from Herodotus and Thucydides
    to the present. One review talked about how Cohen compares and
    contrasts those two early historians, with the reviewer referring
    to "Team Herodotus" and "Team Thucydides". The former was
    apparently not one to let facts get in the way of a good story, so
    tended to include everything anyone told him, not matter how
    unlikely, while the latter was more rigorous in his recountings.

    I will admit to skipping some chapters--a chapter about a
    particular historian is more interesting (and easier to follow) if
    you have some familiarity with their work. Still, there was plenty
    to read.

    Alas, however, Cohen is one of the vast multitude who do not
    understand life expectancy. He writes, "Life expectancy [in
    Elizabeth I's reign] ranged between twenty-five and thirty-five, so
    [London] was overwhelmingly a youthful place." This ignores the
    very high infant and child mortality rates. The fact that he later
    writes that Edward Gibbon's mother "gave birth to seven children,
    all but Edward dying in infancy," and of Sir Walter Scott that "six
    of his eleven siblings were to die in childhood" does not seem to
    have made him question his earlier statement. Gibbon died at age
    57; if his six siblings each died at age 2, the life expectancy of
    his generation was about 10. Scott died at age 61; if five
    siblings lived to that age, but six died at at 5, the life
    expectancy of his generation was 33--just about the Elizabethan
    figure, without a particularly youthful component.

    [MAKING HISTORY by Richard Cohen should not be confused with MAKING
    HISTORY by Stephen Fry, a 1996 alternate history which won the
    Sidewise Award for Alternate History (Long Form) for that year.]



    Mark Leeper

    We must learn to live together as brothers or perish
    together as fools.
    --Martin Luther King, Jr.

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Gary McGath@21:1/5 to eleeper@optonline.net on Sun Jun 19 11:18:54 2022
    On 6/19/22 10:13 AM, eleeper@optonline.net wrote:
    President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January
    1, 1863, but that freed only slaves in states still in rebellion.
    On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston
    to enforce that Proclamation, and this is seen as the end of
    slavery. However, until the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was
    ratified by the required twenty-seven states on December 6, 1865
    (Georgia being the last of these), slavery was still legal in
    Delaware and Kentucky.

    It's surprising, at least to me, that Delaware was one of the "border
    states" that had slavery until the ratification of the 13th but didn't
    secede. I normally think of it as a northern state.

    The Delaware Constitution of 1776 prohibited the importation of slaves
    but didn't, in spite of what some sources claim, outlaw slavery. It was replaced by the 1792 Constitution, which didn't have that prohibition.

    Gary McGath http://www.mcgath.com

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)