• MT VOID, 04/28/23 -- Vol. 41, No. 44, Whole Number 2273

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Apr 30 07:22:37 2023
    04/28/23 -- Vol. 41, No. 44, Whole Number 2273

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    Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
    Lectures, etc. (NJ)
    Mark's Picks for Turner Classic Movies in May
    (comments by Mark R. Leeper)
    Kornher-Stace (book review by Joe Karpierz)
    Toward Compassion (article by Leland R. Beaumont)
    This Week's Reading (UNTHINKING THINKING) (book comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)


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

    Meetings in Middletown are in-person; meetings in Old Bridge are
    Zoomed, at least through the winter season. 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)
    May 25, 2023 (OBPL), 7:00PM: ATTACK SURFACE by Cory Doctorow
    June 1, 2023 (MTPL), 5:30PM ALTERED STATES (1980) & novel
    by Paddy Chayefsky


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

    As part of their Memorial Day weekend marathon of war films, TCM is
    dramatized (as were most of the war films of the 1960s), but based
    on fact and is a lot better than certain other films I could point
    to. And although all this time has passed, this watchable history
    still sheds a light on the development and the use of the V-1

    There was a lot of deception going on with this film. The
    pseudonymous screenplay ("Richard Imrie" was credited) was actually
    written by Emeric Pressburger, whose reputation had shrunk and
    wanted a fresh start (much as authors whose sales have been
    dropping will choose to write their next novel under a fresh name). Second-billed Sophia Loren actually has little more than a cameo.
    The title was at one point changed to THE GREAT SPY MISSION in the
    United States because the distributors thought it would be
    mistaken for a medical film.

    Trivia: TCM notes, "Sandys, portrayed as one of the prime movers
    behind the heroic operation, had by the time of this film been
    vilified as the man who destroyed the British aircraft industry for
    his insistence (as Minister of Defense in the late 50s) that
    missiles had made airplanes obsolete as military weapons."

    [OPERATION CROSSBOW (1965), Monday, May 29, 6:45 AM]

    I cannot leave without praising the multi-national FIVE MILLION
    YEARS TO EARTH/QUATERMASS AND THE PIT. This film gives a single
    science fiction explanation for paranormal phenomena, race
    prejudice, different myths popping up all over the world (e.g.
    flood myths), ... And the list really does go on. It has very
    strange ideas yet it remains intelligent and credible. I have been
    told it is also a very big with fans in France.

    [FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (1968), Friday, May 11, 3:15 PM]

    Here are some more films of interest. Again, these are mostly of
    the fantastic--there are way too many excellent films on TCM this
    month, and every month, to list them all. Memorial Day weekend is
    their usual marathon of war films.

    05/01 9:30 PM Mark of the Vampire (1935)
    05/03 12:15 PM Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1960)
    05/05 4:00 AM The Last Wave (1977)
    05/05 6:00 AM Stalker (1979)
    05/08 8:00 AM Angels in the Outfield (1951)
    05/11 9:45 AM The Snow Devils (1965)
    05/11 11:30 AM It! (1967)
    05/11 1:30 PM Monster Zero (1965)
    05/11 3:15 PM Five Million Years to Earth (1968)
    05/11 5:00 PM Village of the Damned (1960)
    05/11 6:30 PM Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
    05/12 3:45 AM Network (1976)
    05/13 12:30 AM A Face in the Crowd (1957)
    05/13 1:30 PM Matinee (1993)
    05/13 3:15 PM The Thing from Another World (1951)
    05/13 8:00 PM Stand and Deliver (1988)
    05/15 3:15 PM White Zombie (1932)
    05/15 4:30 PM Cat People (1942)
    05/19 2:30 PM The Body Disappears (1941)
    05/21 2:00 AM Coma (1978)
    05/22 6:00 PM Clash of the Titans (1981)
    05/23 12:15 PM The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
    05/23 2:45 PM 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (1964)
    05/23 4:30 PM Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze (1975)
    05/23 6:15 PM Atlantis, the Lost Continent (1960)
    05/24 6:00 AM The Ghost Ship (1943)
    05/24 7:15 AM The Corpse Vanishes (1942)
    05/24 8:30 AM Doctor X (1932)
    05/24 10:00 AM Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
    05/24 12:00 PM Bedlam (1946)
    05/24 1:30 PM Kongo (1932)
    05/24 3:00 PM The Devil-Doll (1936)
    05/24 4:30 PM House of Wax (1953)
    05/24 6:15 PM Chamber of Horrors (1966)
    05/26 7:15 AM A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
    05/30 2:30 PM The Thing from Another World (1951)



    (copyright June 2023, Tachyon Publications, 192pp, paperback,
    $16.95, ISBN 9781616963927) (book review by Joe Karpierz)

    You're the director of the Stellaxis super soldier program. Your
    job is to take young children and turn them into warriors to help
    you win a civil war in a (to the reader) nameless city.
    Two of your prized specimens, numbered 06 and 22, have escaped into
    the city in the dead of winter. They are dangerous, as all
    supersoldiers are: fast, strong, keen eyesight, and all the
    rest of it. 06 has been the rebellious one, but the two of them
    are close. They protect each other, to the point of giving their
    lives to save the other one. Your job is to capture them
    and bring them back to Stellaxis to continue their training until
    they're ready to go to war.

    This should be an easy job. You know where they're at and
    generally what they're doing. You don't necessarily know why they
    decided to escape, but that doesn't matter at this point in time.
    You need to get them back. The whole thing is a bit of a mess,
    though. Within the program at Stellaxis, you need to fabricate
    excuses why the pair are not in their various classes. You need
    to hide the whole affair from your superiors, because it certainly
    wouldn't look good on your record to have two very expensive
    projects get away. And it's not easy in a world where everything
    is under surveillance. Sending out a few of the other super kids
    to retrieve them, or worse, some adult squad, would possibly result
    in bad press and would most likely result in a lot of blood
    being shed. So you try to think of strategies to undermine their
    partnership. Maybe turn them against each other. Send some old,
    discarded tech after them. Things like that. But no matter
    what you do, 06 and 22 are not giving up. They don't like it at
    Stellaxis, and they don't want to go back.

    Just what are the two of them doing? Trying to survive in a world
    they've been sheltered from and know absolutely nothing about.
    They're sleeping in an abandoned storage container and
    basically scrounging to survive. They don't know what they want to
    do, how they're going to do it, and where they're going. The only
    thing they do know is that they don't want to go back to
    Stellaxis. It's a marvelous game of chess, really. The Director
    thinks she's going to win, but every decision she makes turns out
    to not give the result she needs. 06 and 22 know the director
    is watching them, so they're doing the best they can to make the
    Director's life miserable. And they do get a bit of help from an
    unexpected source.

    I was a bit concerned coming in to the story, as I hadn't
    previously read FIREBREAK. It turns out there was nothing to be
    concerned about. While the story takes place in the Firebreak
    universe, it can be read as a standalone. Kornher-Stace does a
    good job of giving the reader just enough background of the world
    we're in without bogging the book down. And she makes FLIGHT
    AND ANCHOR a fun read. While it's not lighthearted by any means,
    it's light enough that it's a good, fast paced read. The novel is
    well written, the characters are interesting, and the plot
    is engaging. It's almost fun to watch 06 and 22 foil the
    Director's plans, sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. FLIGHT
    AND ANCHOR is a book I recommend, and as a result of reading it I
    want to go back and read FIREBREAK. [-jak]


    TOPIC: Toward Compassion (article by Leland R. Beaumont)

    I recently wrote a "future fiction" essay called "Toward
    Compassion". See
    Envisioning_Our_Future/Toward_Compassion>. [-lrb]


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

    PHYSICS by Floyd Merrell (Purdue, ISBN 0-911198-72-5) has a back
    story to it. I had first heard about this book at least ten years
    ago, but probably closer to twenty years or more. (It was
    published in 1991.) When I started looking at listings, all copies
    were more than $100 each, and for years $142 was about the lowest
    price I could find.

    But it was in my list of books I checked every week or so, and a
    couple of weeks ago, to my astonishment, a copy appeared for ...
    $5. And it wasn't even a charity shop, but a major used book
    dealer. I immediately bought it, and when it arrived, I had an
    inkling of what happened. There was a Post-It stuck on the front
    page sticking up like a bookmark that had "95.99" and under it
    "4.82"--but the '9's had big loops and small tails. And $4.82
    looks like the tax amount on $95.99.

    So what probably happened is that someone priced it at $95.99, but
    the data entry person took a quick look at the note, read the '9's
    as '0's, didn't wonder why anyone would write $5 as "05.00" and
    entered it as $5. (Or they were using a scanner to enter the data.)

    Anyway, someone there knew the value, but someone entered it
    wrongly, and while I feel a twinge of guilt, the seller doesn't
    allow refunds from or returns to its outlets or warehouses. (Of
    course, normally this policy benefits them. :-) )

    But what about the book itself? I was at first intimidated by the
    very academic writing. Here's an example:

    "Consider the possibility that in 'The Circular Ruins' a projection
    of spatio-temporal synchronicity into linear existence entails a
    symbolic abolition of the life/death dichotomy. This assumes an
    implicit attempt to overcome temporal existence wherein spatial
    hierarchy and temporal linearity predominate."

    However, as I read on, I started to see errors, or at least slips.
    For example, on page 4 Merrell says, "'The sun rotates around the
    earth' and 'the earth rotates around the sun' represent two
    conflicting perspectives." Actually that's not true; the Earth and
    the moon revolve about a point that is three-quarters of the
    Earth's radius from the Earth's center. And the pairs Pluto-Charon
    and Sun-Jupiter each revolved around points that are not within
    either of the bodies involved. And so it is possible to consider
    both true, or both false, rather than one absolutely true and one
    absolutely false.

    But even more of a flub is that Merrell speaks of bodies "rotating"
    around each other, when he means "revolving" around each other.
    Rotation is the motion of a single body about a point or an axis.

    Later, he writes about Leibniz's "binary system based on the root
    2"; he means Leibniz's binary system based on the base 2 (which is
    actually a bit redundant).

    Another, deeper dispute I have with Merrell is that he defends the
    argument that mathematics is invented. not discovered, by saying,
    "In sum, from this perspective mathematics is invention rather than
    discovery, a human institution rather than an eternal playground
    for the gods. Right and wrong mathematical behavior lies in the
    game, for mathematics is normative. Consequently, number systems
    need not be decimal, as is our Western system. To cite only two
    examples rom among many, the ancient Mayas used a system to the
    base five, for reasons unknown. And within a fictive context, the
    inhabitants of the planet Tlon used a duodecimal system...."
    Merrell seems to confuse the way we express mathematics with the
    mathematics itself. He could as easily claim that the different
    shapes of the ten digits used in Egypt makes their mathematics
    different from ours.

    "We are to suppose not only that each page of the book after page
    one is followed by an immediately preceding page, but also (and
    this is not unimportant) that each page is separated from others by
    a finite number of pages." This makes no sense, given the rest of
    the description, even in a chapter about paradoxes, unless what he
    meant to say was "an immediately succeeding page."

    I may comment more on this book again when I finish it, but it is
    very slow going. [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    All the best stories in the world are but one story in
    reality--the story of escape. It is the only thing which
    interests us all and at all times, how to escape.
    -- A. C. Benson

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