• MT VOID, 01/20/23 -- Vol. 41, No. 30, Whole Number 2259

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Mon Jan 23 16:10:20 2023
    01/20/23 -- Vol. 41, No. 30, Whole Number 2259

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    An Unofficial List of the Most Influential Science Fiction
    Works Ever
    Mini Reviews, Part 11 (TROLL, BONES AND ALL, ULTRASOUND)
    (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper
    and Evelyn C. Leeper)
    Louis L'Amour (letter of comment by Peter Rubinstein)
    This Week's Reading (GODS AND GENERALS) (book and film
    comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: An Unofficial List of the Most Influential Science Fiction
    Works Ever

    Well, at least having to do with space travel:

    <https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/01/11/ science-fiction-space-travel/>

    The list includes Robert Heinlein's works, Isaac Asimov's
    "Foundation" series, Andy Weir's THE MARTIAN, and of course,
    "Star Trek".

    (The comments often seem to miss the implied "space travel" part.)



    TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 11 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
    Evelyn C. Leeper)

    This is the eleventh batch of mini-reviews, all horror films:

    TROLL: TROLL is the latest movie featuring this creature from
    Nordic folklore. In true monster movie style, after a strange
    monster is found the military is called in to manage the situation
    and you can tell you are not going to like them, or their solution.

    TROLL borrows a couple of ideas and images from JURASSIC PARK. The protagonist is a paleontologist on a dig when she is summarily
    pulled off it to help in a totally different context. And TROLL
    uses disturbances in a coffee cup to show the approach of
    something very large.

    The troll itself is attracted by Christian blood, but there are a
    lot fewer Christians in Norway these days. While the film pays a
    nod to this, one is reminded of a similar trope in THE WICKER MAN
    that was shown more clearly.

    And there is beautiful Nordic scenery, starting with the limitless
    beauty of the troll peak. (Of course, it may be just CGI, but it's
    still beautiful.)

    Released on Netflix streaming 1 December 2022. Rating: +2 (-4 to
    +4) or 7/10

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    BONES AND ALL: In BONES AND ALL, Maren is an Eater (their term for
    "cannibal") (not a spoiler; we find find this out in the first ten
    minutes). She meets Sully, another Eater who has a code not unlike
    that of Francis in BLOOD RELATIVES as the vampire. In fact, this
    whole movie seems like another version of BLOOD RELATIVES, with a
    young person on a road trip trying to terms with their
    cannibalism/vampirism. For what it's worth, this has more graphic
    gore than BLOOD RELATIVES.

    Released theatrically 18 November 2022. Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4)
    or 7/10

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    ULTRASOUND: ULTRASOUND has a disorienting first scene, and
    continues to be disorienting. It becomes clear that we really
    don't understand what we're seeing, but we hope it will all make
    sense once we know what's going on. Every line of the dialogue
    seems like it is a message for the viewer. We see a lot of
    gadgets but we don't know what they do. And filmmakers have made
    horror films about mad psychiatrists since THE CABINET OF DR.
    CALIGARI (1919). As a result, some of the ideas are cliches in
    other films and will not be unexpected.

    Released 11 March 2022. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:



    TOPIC: Louis L'Amour (letter of comment by Peter Rubinstein)

    In response to Evelyn's comments on THE HILLS OF HOMICIDE in the
    01/13/23 issue of the MT VOID, Peter Rubinstein writes:

    Apropos of the SF theme, L'Amour also wrote an SF western, "The
    Haunted Mesa". I’m not sure I’d recommend it as a great read, but
    it is genre. [-pr]


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

    I just watched GODS AND GENERALS for the tenth time. (I've seen
    GETTYSBURG at least sixteen times--my logs go back to only 2000.)
    And I have mixed feeling about it. As a war film focusing only on
    the war, it gets high marks from me. But when it turns to the
    motives of the various people and governments involved, it is a

    Most of the reviews say that there are only two Black speaking
    characters. This isn't true--there are at least three, but perhaps
    even this error tells us something about their portrayal. (See my
    comments on the book at the end.) One is Jim Lewis, who the
    dialogue tries to imply is free, but all the existing records
    indicate he was enslaved. And Stonewall Jackson is given lines
    that make him out to be in favor of ending slavery, yet he hasn't
    freed any of his slaves. (He did teach some to read and write in
    violation of Virginia law.) Jim Lewis even says that he is
    fighting for his home and family just like Jackson, which sounds
    like total insanity, on a level with Jewish slave labor in World
    War II saying that they are fighting for their homes and families
    against the invading Allied troops.

    The other Black character reviewers remember is Martha, who is
    enslaved by Jane Beale (whom I suspect is a fictional character).
    Martha seems to love her enslavers, and even insists on staying in
    their Fredericksburg house and pretending it is hers to protect it
    from Union troops. She says it is to make sure she and her
    children have some food left, but it's clear she has affection for
    the Beales. The writers did give her a speech where she says that
    she was born a slave but wants to die free and wants her children
    to be free. That's as close to a condemnation of slavery we get
    from her.

    The third character is a younger man--he seems more like a
    teenager--who is working as a cook with Jim Lewis. He is free,
    because his master gave him his freedom papers when the war
    started. He is now being paid for his work, and one can argue that
    his respect for his former master has at least some basis.

    But what we don't see or hear are any Black characters railing
    against slavery, plotting to escape, or ever saying anything
    negative about their enslavers. All three Black characters seem to
    have had remarkable benign masters--they are well-dressed,
    well-fed, apparently not whipped or beaten, and in general treated
    perhaps even better than Victorian-era servants in England.

    And all the while, the white Southerners talk about how they are
    fighting for freedom, and now wanting Northerners to interfere with
    their way of life. That they are doing far more than interfering
    with the lives of those they keep enslaved does not apparently
    occur to them.

    So after all this, I found myself wondering how much of this was in
    the book, and if the fact that Jeff Shaara (hereafter referred to
    as "Jeff" to avoid confusion) wrote GODS AND GENERALS while his
    father Michael Shaara had written THE KILLER ANGELS, the book upon
    which the film GETTYSBURG was based. The chronology is that the
    book THE KILLER ANGELS came first, then the film GETTYSBURG, then
    the book GODS AND GENERALS, and finally the film GODS AND GENERALS.

    On reading the book (Ballantine, ISBN 978-0-345-42247-7, I
    discovered that Jeff has stuck pretty much entirely to the generals
    (and the ranking officers, and their families) and has not
    concerned itself with civilians, slaves, or free Negroes. The one conversation with a black man is when Nate, one of Lee's former
    slaves whom Lee had freed, asks to buy his brother's freedom. Lee
    says that he has told all his slaves that they can have their
    freedom and leave any time they want, so Nate doesn't have to buy
    his brother's freedom, and Lee writes out the freedom papers right
    then. This is totally wrong--Lee inherited most of his slaves from
    his father-in-law, who required that Lee free them within five
    years. Lee fought to extend this time, and whipped those who
    attempted to escape, so Jeff's portrayal of his emancipationist
    ideals is completely made up.

    (Actually, quite a few reviewers have criticized the
    mis-characterizations and generally poor historical accuracy of the

    Jeff also described an old black woman in the Lee household as a
    "servant", but given that in real life the reason Lee gave for not
    freeing his slaves was that he couldn't afford to pay them wages,
    this seems like Jeff is trying to soften the truth.

    What Jeff did write about were the scenes only referenced in
    GETTYSBURG, for example, the going-away dinner with Armistead and
    Hancock in California before they left to join opposing armies.
    But the movie starts well after that point (since it was already
    covered) and so omits the "Nate and Lee" episode. The movie also
    focuses more on Stonewall Jackson than the book did (probably why
    the Jim Lewis sequences were added).

    So where does this leave us? The book dodges the slavery issue
    almost entirely, and what little it does say is a cover-up. And
    many people also say the characterizations in general of the
    generals is not accurate. The movie adds some Black characters,
    but only to re-inforce the bias of the book, and it also focuses on
    Stonewall Jackson to the extent of making him into some sort of
    saint. On the whole, the movie is best watched as taking place in
    some alternate universe. [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.
    --Oscar Wilde

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