• MT VOID, 03/03/23 -- Vol. 41, No. 36, Whole Number 2265

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Mar 5 07:52:40 2023
    03/03/23 -- Vol. 41, No. 36, Whole Number 2265

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    Mini Reviews, Part 14 (A MAN CALLED OTTO; MY POLICEMAN;
    GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE) (film reviews
    by Mark R. Leeper and Evelyn C. Leeper)
    QUEENS OF AN ALIEN SUN by Peter F. Hamilton (audio book
    review by Joe Karpierz)
    "Flooded with AI-Created Content, A Sci-Fi Magazine
    Suspends Submissions"
    GALAXY QUEST (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
    FLESH GORDON (letters of comment by Scott Dorsey,
    Kip Williams, and Peter Trei)
    TCM Picks and Oscars (letter of comment by Jim Susky)
    This Week's Reading (IMAGINARY LIVES) (book comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 14 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
    Evelyn C. Leeper)

    This is the fourteenth batch of mini-reviews, all character studies:

    A MAN CALLED OTTO: A MAN CALLED OTTO is a remake of the 2016
    Swedish film A MAN CALLED OVE, itself based on the book of the same
    name by Fredrick Backman. This seems a change of pace for Tom
    Hanks; somehow this is just not the way the public pictures usually
    him. (Then again, neither THE ROAD TO PERDITION nor NEWS OF THE
    WORLD were "stereotypical" Tom Hanks roles. Nor, for that matter,
    was his other 2022 role of Colonel Tom Parker in ELVIS.) In A MAN
    CALLED OTTO, Hanks plays a flaming misanthrope. (He denies this,
    leading another character to say sarcastically, "No, every word you
    say is like a warm cuddle.")

    This is a gentle story though entirely predictable in the spirit of

    Some random thoughts: Interestingly, while CASTAWAY seemed to
    champion FedEx, in this film UPS gets the nod. Otto as a younger
    man is played by Tom Hanks's son, Truman Hanks. (Colin Hanks, the
    better-known son of Tom, is twenty years older, and would have been
    too old for the role. So if they wanted family resemblance, Truman
    was a good choice.) And there did seem to be a bit of adding
    current topicality a bit clumsily.

    Released theatrically 30 December 2022. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4) or

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    MY POLICEMAN: MY POLICEMAN is primarily set in a 1950s Britain
    where "the love that dare not speak its name" is still "the love
    that dare not speak its name." It begins in the present, when
    three people who were friends then are re-united in spite of, and
    because of, their hidden secrets.

    Films used to have a film score, music that went with what was in
    the film. It is a pity that that custom has gone away. Too many
    films are assemblies of popular songs, which is a great loss for
    film fans.

    Released theatrically 21 October 2022. Rating: high +1 (-4 to +4)
    or 6/10

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    two-hander featuring Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack, but it is
    clearly Emma Thompson's film. McCormack is there mostly to react
    and respond to Thompson (both as a character and as an actor).
    This is certainly a necessary role, but not a flashy one.

    The basic plot has widowed schoolteacher Thompson hiring sex worker
    McCormack so as to explore what she has missed in her very mundane
    marriage. The film is quite explicit in its language, but much
    less than might be expected in terms of what is shown (which is not
    to say that this is appropriate for everyone).

    This is yet another film that focuses on women, and in this case
    older women, as characters in their own right, not just adjuncts to

    Released on Hulu streaming 17 June 2022. Rating: +3 (-4 to +4) or

    Film Credits:

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



    TOPIC: QUEENS OF AN ALIEN SUN by Peter F. Hamilton (copyright 2022,
    Tantor Audio, 9 hours and 54 minutes, ASIN: B0BH6Q73L6, narrated by
    Elizabeth Klett) (audio book review by Joe Karpierz)

    It's fairly evident by the lack of reaction to the final book in
    the "Arkship Trilogy" by Peter F. Hamilton, QUEENS OF AN ALIEN SUN,
    that if it's not a "widescreen Space Opera" with all the trappings
    of that subgenre of science fiction (Well, to be fair, "widescreen
    Space Opera" is a subgenre of Space Opera, which itself is a
    subgenre of science fiction, so maybe it's a sub-subgenre?), not
    many people care enough to read it. The "Arkship Trilogy" is
    Hamilton's first (and maybe only) foray into the YA market, and
    the rest of his oeuvre is adult in nature, so it seems that his
    fans aren't into this thing he did. That's okay, of course,
    because not everything is for everyone. I'm still not sure that YA
    is something I'd normally pick up to read as a conscious choice
    (after all, I still haven't read Alastair Reynolds' YA trilogy, and
    he is a favorite author of mine), but the "Arkship Trilogy" as a
    whole, and QUEENS OF AN ALIEN SUN in particular, is a fine piece of
    writing, the result of which is that I'll be more open to reading
    YA in the future.

    Hazel and the gang have temporarily beaten back the Yi, the alien
    creatures that have taken over the arkship Daedalus. There are two
    tasks ahead of her and her companions: get the ship turned around
    and headed back toward the planet they were heading toward so they
    can finish the journey and begin a new life, and rid the ship of
    the remaining Yi. And definitely not in that order.

    The good news for Hazel is that it's not a one-woman show (I want
    to say one-*girl* show, because she is a teenager, but at the same
    time she is the captain of the ship, so my brain is going for woman
    in this case). As she gathers up people throughout the arkship to
    lead them to safety away from the Yi, she picks up leaders of the
    small communities that believe in her and her quest. A task like
    what she is attempting is really too large for one person, be she a
    teenager or an adult. The bad news is that the Yi are persistent
    and relentless. Again, she has the help, and she needs all of it.

    The novel shows our young protagonists growing up, learning to make
    very tough decisions as well as learning to deal with the losses
    that come with making those decisions. Oh, she's still a teenager
    at heart, learning (there's that word again) to deal with personal relationships with both the adults that are helping her and the
    people who are her age who will be an important part of her life
    going forward, especially once they reach the new planet.

    There's really nothing extraordinary about this novel. It tells a straightforward story that results in a typical ending which, in
    reality, the listener can hear coming from a mile away. And
    really, there's nothing wrong with that. I'm not familiar with
    what YA readers' (and by that I mean readers who are the target
    audience of the book, not adults who read YA) expectations are in
    terms of complexity and themes, but it *seems* right. If a
    listener wants complexity in their Hamilton, there are plenty of
    other novels of his to choose from.

    The title of the book comes from the Yi brain queen proposing that
    the Yi and the humans co-exist on the planet together. Of course,
    Hazel was having none of that. I'm reminded of Ripley battling the
    alien queen in Aliens - not just in the climactic scene at the end,
    but all throughout the movie. Hazel and the brain queen were in
    conflict throughout the novel, down to the bitter end. I also
    wonder whether Hamilton was influenced by Heinlein's ORPHANS OF THE
    SKY, arguably the first generational starship story, in which the
    inhabitants of the Vanguard have regressed to the point of becoming
    farmers after a mutiny on the ship.

    With regard to Elizabeth Klett, she once again did a fine job
    narrating the story. I think the choice of using a female narrator
    for a female led story was the right one; I find it difficult to
    imagine what the listening experience would have been like had John
    Lee, Hamilton's usual narrator, had been reading this book.

    All in all, QUEENS OF AN ALIEN SUN is a fine ending to a good
    trilogy. If you like YA and you like Peter F. Hamilton, I think
    you'll find the "Arkship Trilogy" satisfying. [-jak]


    TOPIC: "Flooded with AI-Created Content, A Sci-Fi Magazine Suspends Submissions"

    "A slice of dystopian fiction became reality for one of sci-fi
    publishing's bigger names this week, when submissions generated by
    artificial intelligence flooded the literary magazine Clarkesworld,
    leading it to temporarily stop accepting new work.

    'Submissions are currently closed. It shouldn't be hard to guess
    why,' editor Neil Clarke wrote in a tweet thread, joining the
    sometimes-heated discourse about the promises, perils and literary
    potential of AI."

    Full article at
    <https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2023/02/22/ scifi-magazine-clarkesworld-artificial-intelligence/>.


    TOPIC: GALAXY QUEST (comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)

    I just re-watched GALAXY QUEST for the fifteenth time, and every
    time I watch it now, I get double enjoyment. The movie is a lot of
    fun, but I am also reminded of the fact that of all the
    Hugo-winning dramatic presentation, the director and the writer of
    this were among the few creators who actually showed up for the
    ceremony, and what's more, participated in other events at the
    convention and seemed genuinely to be enjoying themselves. [-ecl]


    TOPIC: FLESH GORDON (letters of comment by Scott Dorsey, Kip
    Williams, and Peter Trei)

    In response to various comments on FLESH GORDON in the 02/24/23
    issue of the MT VOID, Scott Dorsey writes:

    The print we ran at Arisia a few years ago was definitely the
    R-rated cut. We tried to find the hardcore version on 35mm and
    never was able to.

    Likewise we never could get a 35mm print of "Wham, Bam, Thank you
    Spaceman" even though it also was widely distributed for a short
    time period. [-sd]

    Kip Williams writes:

    Another bit of FLESH GORDON trivia is that David Mattingly got his
    start at Disney because of the matte work he had done for the
    never-completed sequel to FLESH GORDON. After THE BLACK HOLE, he
    said fans would ask excitedly what he was working on now, and he'd
    say "HERBIE THE LOVE BUG GOES TO MONTE CARLO." (This was *before*
    a lot of things.) [-kw]

    Peter Trei notes:

    There's similarly an X-rated ALICE IN WONDERLAND, but FLESH GORDON
    is a much better film. [-pt]


    TOPIC: TCM Picks and Oscars (letter of comment by Jim Susky)

    In response to Mark and Evelyn's comments on TCM picks for March in
    the 02/24/23 issue of the MT VOID, Jim Susky writes:

    Thank you yet again for your monthly TCM picks.

    This one got my attention because any short list that has two by
    Kubrick is a notable list.

    "Oscar" lost me some time in the nineties. I don't recall the
    trigger, but a more formative "event" was when my wife moved in
    with her film collection. I must have been receptive, because it
    only took a handful of films to cause me to greatly narrow (and
    refocus) my taste for cinema.

    Another "event" was a friend deriding FORREST GUMP due to its
    protagonist. It wasn't until much later that I discovered that the
    Academy deemed it Best Picture (and *why* is that not on your
    list?) [-js]

    Evelyn responds:

    I am the one who comes up with the list of films and times, and I
    tend to limit it to films of the fantastic (science fiction,
    fantasy, and horror). I probably should say something to this
    effect. The Oscars, just like the more recent Hugos, don't always
    age well. The idea that SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE won the Oscar over
    SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, for example, seems ludicrous in retrospect,
    and similarly DANCES WITH WOLVES over GOODFELLAS. For a long time,
    the greatest mis-step was considered to be THE GREATEST SHOW ON
    EARTH over HIGH NOON. [-ecl]


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

    IMAGINARY LIVES by Marcel Schwob (translated by Chris Clarke)
    (Wakefield Press, ISBN 978-1-607-10635-7) was apparently one of the
    influences for Jorge Luis Borges's A UNIVERSAL HISTORY OF INFAMY,
    which in turn was the inspiration for Rhys Hughes's A NEW UNIVERSAL
    HISTORY OF INFAMY. The latter two are reviewed at <http://leepers.us/evelyn/reviews/infamy.htm>, but I was not aware
    of Schwob until recently.

    As with the later books, this consists of brief chapters telling
    fictional biographies of (mostly) real people. Most are either
    ancient or French, and so will not be as familiar to Anglophone
    readers as they would have been to Schwob's original audience. But
    Schwob includes Pocahontas, Captain Kidd (and two other pirates),
    and Burke and Hare. As far as I can tell, the story of Pocahontas
    follows the facts (as we know them) and the legends (as we've heard

    The inclusion of such fictional characters as the sorceror from the
    story of Aladdin and a woman from a novel by Francois Villon could
    be considered clues that much of the rest is fictional as well,
    although the fact that most of the chapters had appeared
    individually in the newspaper LE JOURNAL. Even so, I suspect
    readers recognized the fictional nature of the stories.

    As I said, most of the characters will be unfamiliar to readers of
    this English translation, but given they are fictional, one can
    still appreciate them as stories. [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    The Compleat Angler is acknowledged to be one of the
    world's books. Only the trouble is that the world
    doesn't read its books, it borrows a detective story
    --Stephen Leacock

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