• MT VOID, 03/31/23 -- Vol. 41, No. 40, Whole Number 2269

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Apr 2 07:11:45 2023
    03/31/23 -- Vol. 41, No. 40, Whole Number 2269

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    Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
    Lectures, etc. (NJ)
    Mark's Picks for Turner Classic Movies in April
    (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
    Audio/Video Parodies of Science Fiction (letter of comment
    by Garth Spencer)
    Ivar the Boneless, Florence Pugh (PUSS IN BOOTS--THE LAST
    ORPHANS OF THE SKY and Heinlein's Attitudes about
    Women, THE WOMAN KING, and the Chengdu Worldcon
    (letter of comment by Taras Wolansky)
    This Week's Reading (LINCOLN'S CITADEL) (book comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
    Lectures, etc. (NJ)

    All meetings are currently planned as in-person. The best way to
    get the latest information is to be on the mailing lists for them.

    May 4, 2023 (MTPL), 5:30PM: BEYOND THE INFINITE TWO MINUTES (2021)
    & THE 7TH VOYAGE OF EGON TICHY (2020) & story
    by Stanislaw Lem (1957)
    June 1, 2023 (MTPL), 5:30PM ALTERED STATES (1980) & novel
    by Paddy Chayefsky
    May 25, 2023 (OBPL), 7:00PM: ATTACK SURFACE by Cory Doctorow


    TOPIC: Mark's Picks for Turner Classic Movies in April (comments
    by Mark R. Leeper)

    In January, while I was recommending THE CROWDED SKY, based on a
    Hank Seals novel, I wrote about the another Searls novel, THE
    PILGRIM PROJECT, and the surprisingly credible film COUNTDOWN
    inspired by it. Sadly, I could not say where the latter film could
    be found. Probably, in the back of my mind I expected it would
    show up the following month or so, and sure enough COUNTDOWN is
    scheduled to play on TCM in April. As I noted, "Fans of Michael
    Crichton's techno-thrillers should take a good look at Hank Searls
    stories. Both author wrote novels with a near-future science
    fictional premise. His 1960 THE PILGRIM PROJECT was about a 1960
    government program to put the first man on the moon."

    [COUNTDOWN (1968), Tuesday, April 25, 4:15 AM]

    And another recommendation, this time from Mark's mother: AMERICA,

    [AMERICA, AMERICA (1963), Friday, April 14, 12:15 AM]

    Films of interest (with a heavy emphasis on the fantastic):
    04/04 10:15 AM The Maltese Falcon (1931)
    [not the Bogart version,
    but rather the first version filmed]
    04/05 8:00 AM Svengali (1931)
    04/07 7:15 AM Moby Dick (1930)
    [has to be seen to be believed]
    04/07 12:15 PM When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1971)
    04/09 7:00 AM The Green Pastures (1936)
    04/09 6:00 PM Oh, God! (1977)
    04/10 1:15 PM The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
    04/10 2:45 PM Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1970)
    04/10 6:15 PM Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)
    04/15 2:15 AM House of Wax (1953)
    04/15 5:30 AM Doctor X (1932)
    04/15 7:00 AM Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)
    04/15 9:00 AM Them! (1954)
    04/15 11:00 AM The Bad Seed (1956)
    04/15 3:30 PM What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
    04/16 4:15 AM Camelot (1967)
    04/17 8:45 AM Treasure Island (1973)
    04/17 10:30 AM The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964)
    04/19 3:45 PM Between Two Worlds (1944)
    04/20 4:30 AM The Beast with Five Fingers (1946)
    04/21 6:45 AM Finian's Rainbow (1968)
    04/22 2:45 PM Around the World in 80 Days (1956)
    04/22 6:00 PM Time After Time (1979)
    04/23 6:30 AM A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
    04/24 8:00 AM The Swarm (1978)
    04/24 4:15 PM It's Alive (1974)
    04/24 6:00 PM The Omega Man (1971)
    04/25 4:15 AM Countdown (1968)
    04/29 8:00 AM The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945)



    TOPIC: Audio/Video Parodies of Science Fiction (letter of comment
    by Garth Spencer)

    Garth Spencer writes (from Vancouver, Canada):

    I have a very difficult time finding things to comment on in the MT
    VOID, so instead I’m going to pull a comment out of left field: do
    fans in your area produce any audio or video parodies of science
    fiction? Without thinking too hard I came up with three such
    parodies from SF groups in Canada--"Dawn of the Living Socks",
    "Beavra", and "Cattlefarm Galactica"--but they all date to the
    early 1980s. [-gs]


    TOPIC: Ivar the Boneless, Florence Pugh (PUSS IN BOOTS--THE LAST
    SKY and Heinlein's Attitudes about Women, THE WOMAN KING, and the
    Chengdu Worldcon (letter of comment by Taras Wolansky)

    In response to several comments in several issues of the MT VOID,
    Taras Wolansky writes:

    Thanks for many great issues of the VOID.

    It's remarkable that we know the name, Ivar the Boneless, but we
    don't know why he was called "boneless". Historians have suggested
    he was crippled in some way; but I speculate that it came from
    showing unusual flexibility in dodging a blow in a fight. We are
    also unsure why his father, Ragnar Lodbrok (or Lothbrok), the main
    character in the VIKINGS TV series, was called Lodbrok ("hairy
    breeches"). I like to imagine it comes from an incident in which
    his camp was ambushed at night, and he went into battle without his

    Filmwise, I will follow the great Florence Pugh anywhere. She's in
    both the entertaining new PUSS IN BOOTS, as Goldilocks, leader of
    the Three Bears gang; and she's the "darling" who had better start
    worrying, in DONT WORRY DARLING. In Zach Braff's A GOOD PERSON she
    not only acts up a storm, but sings several songs of her own
    composition, accompanying herself on the piano.

    I see a lot of movies in the theater--about 124 last year--and I
    always write a thumbnail review for myself, in case I forget what
    they're about. Here's part of my thumbnail for AMSTERDAM: "The
    rather melodramatic and clichéd ending is dragged out to an
    excruciating degree, trying the patience of the entire audience
    (me). First time I ever yelled, 'editor' in a movie theater."

    I enjoy Jane Austen spin-offs, and I looked at Jo Baker's
    LONGBOURNE, but decided it was too anachronistic. A job in the
    "big house" might look like terrible drudgery to us, but for a poor
    English farm girl ca. 1800, it was highly prized. Basically, she
    would do much the same work she did at home, but get paid for it,
    which would enable her to save for a dowry. Also, she had the rare
    privilege, in an agricultural society, of working indoors, out of
    the sun and rain and snow. The scene Evelyn describes, in which
    the girl resents getting a cast-off dress as a present, also
    strikes me as very 21st Century: the dress would, of course,
    become her "Sunday best".

    Joe K. is probably wrong to judge Robert Heinlein's real attitudes
    about women in the Forties based on what a backward character says
    in ORPHANS OF THE SKY. Off the top of my head: In "Let There Be
    Light" (1940), Heinlein gives us a male engineer and a brilliant
    woman biophysicist who collaborate to create a solar cell that
    revolutionizes the world. In "Delilah and the Space Rigger"
    (1949), a woman engineer conceals her sex to get a job building a
    space station, and proves herself indispensable to the misogynistic construction chief.

    I gave THE WOMAN KING a go by precisely for the reason others have
    cited, its faulty (dare I say, tendentious) account of the African
    slave trade.

    Interestingly, we can find a truer account in Zora Neale Hurston's
    BARRACOON, first published in 2018 but written in 1931. It is
    based on her interview with the last surviving African-born slave
    in the U.S., illegally smuggled into the country just before the
    Civil War. (A death penalty offense at the time: a slave ship
    captain was hanged a few years later.) The man's village had
    refused to pay tribute to the King of Dahomey, so the King sent his
    soldiers, including the famous women warriors, to punish the
    village and take tribute in human flesh. Then the man had the good
    luck to be transported to the U.S.; instead of Latin America, where
    slaves tended to be "used up" and replaced; or the Islamic world,
    where he probably would have been castrated. And in the U.S., of
    course, Abraham Lincoln would bring slavery to an end in just a few

    Finally, the idea of holding a literary convention in a country
    that recognizes no freedom of speech or press is absurd, but
    unfortunately a lot of people in fandom are more concerned about
    the rights of house elves than the absence of civil rights in
    China. At this point, I guess all we can do is make sure that the
    event is deemed useless as propaganda, by the Chinese Communist
    Party. [-tw]

    Evelyn responds:

    If by "fandom" you mean people who have gone to Worldcons or other
    similar conventions, then from what I've seen and heard
    characterizing "a lot of people in fandom [being] more concerned
    about the rights of house elves than the absence of civil rights
    in China" is inaccurate. [-ecl]


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

    Winkle (Norton, ISBN 978-0-393-34942-9) focuses on a part of the
    Civil War that is not usually covered: how it affected life in
    Washington, DC, and how life in Washington, DC, affected it.

    For example, I don't think that the Compensated Emancipation Act of
    1862 is covered in most books about the Civil War, although
    arguably it had a greater immediate effect than the later, and far
    more famous, Emancipation Proclamation. And while the genesis of
    Liberia is moderately well-known, that of the Ile a Vache colony in
    Haiti never gets any coverage. (Ironically, the desire to have
    freed African-Americans emigrate to Haiti was what finally
    triggered the United States recognizing Haiti, which had revolted
    from France in 1804. Even more ironically, France herself had
    recognized Haiti as independent in 1825. None of this is ever
    covered in schools either. For a good coverage of the Haitian
    Revolution, Mike Duncan has a nineteen-episode section on it in his "Revolutions" podcast series.)

    Anyway, back to Washington, DC (also known as Washington City--I
    cannot find any information on when that name was phased out). One
    example of the details that are often overlooked in books about the
    Civil War is the conflict over nursing. Women began pouring in to
    Washington as a way for them to support the war effort, but many
    were clearly incapable of the task. (Dorothea Dix finally said to
    "send none that were unable to turn a full grown man round in bed,
    and could do the most menial work.")

    And so a three-way struggle began.

    Elizabeth Blackwell (the first first formally trained woman
    physician in the United States) created the Women's Central
    Association of Relief to try to organize the entire country in one
    association which would work with the Army to meet specific needs,
    and to select and train nurses. She also wanted nurses to be paid
    a real salary rather than a token amount as volunteers.

    Dorothea Dix organized the Society for the Relief of Volunteer
    Soldiers. Dix was more concerned with women's moral qualities and
    reputations than their medical training, and preferred "matronly"
    nurses. (Soldiers, on the other hand, preferred the nurses to be
    "full of hopefulness and cheerfulness, ... sensible, and ... young,
    and pretty.") Dix had a romantic notion of a nurturing, home-like
    atmosphere, with mothering women doing the nursing of the heroic
    male patients.

    Because Dix was in Washington, she prevailed over Blackwell, and
    the Unite States Sanitary Commission appointed her as
    superintendent of women nurses. But the USSC also said that "the
    first sanitary law in camp and among soldiers was military
    discipline." Dix felt affronted by this and started distancing
    herself from the USSC. The end result was that the nurses she
    appointed (only about 15% of the total) earned half what the USSC
    appointees did. And the "matronly" nurses tended to ignore orders
    or respect authority, which resulted in USSC nurses required to
    submit letters of reference from two physicians and two clergymen.

    Clara Barton (the best known of the three) came late to the nursing
    conflict and was primarily involved in field hospitals rather than
    those in Washington, though she worked with Army departments such
    as the Quartermaster's Department in Washington.

    But ultimately in the three-way battle, the fourth "contestant",
    the Army itself, won out, concentrating more on male nurses who
    were soldiers in the army, female volunteers rather than paid
    female nurses, and Catholic nuns (who worked without pay, and were
    used to following orders).

    This is one example of an aspect of the Civil War not usually
    covered. The closest I can recall is in GONE WITH THE WIND, both
    when Belle Watling an her co-workers are turned away from the
    hospital when they volunteer, and Scarlett O'Hara's brief stint as
    a volunteer nurse. But it turns out that the history of nursing in
    the Civil War in the South was similar: they started with male
    nurses, then allowed women volunteers, and finally started paying
    women nurses.

    (And while we're at it, did you know that the Statue of Liberty
    includes broken chains and shackles at its feet, because it was
    intended to celebrate the abolition of slavery?) [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    The man who is denied the opportunity of taking
    decisions of importance begins to regard as important
    the decisions he is allowed to take.
    --C. Northcote Parkinson

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