• MT VOID, 12/17/21 -- Vol. 40, No. 25, Whole Number 2202

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Dec 19 08:16:38 2021
    Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
    12/17/21 -- Vol. 40, No. 25, Whole Number 2202

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    Mini Reviews, Part 4 (WEREWOLVES WITHIN, THE FEAST,
    CRYPTOZOO) (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
    Evelyn C. Leeper)
    Tetley Tea (letters of comment by Paul Dormer, Jeff Urs,
    Kevin R, and Tim Merrigan)
    This Week's Reading (DESIGNER GENES) (book comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 4 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
    Evelyn C. Leeper)

    Here is the fourth batch of mini-reviews, more science fiction and
    fantasy films.

    WEREWOLVES WITHIN: This is apparently based on a video game in
    which werewolves attack a small town. The town, Beaverfield, is
    full of quirky people, and the film is basically a satire of a
    werewolf film. It has some deft comedy but eventually runs out of
    steam in its major strengths, and while the main female character
    does have some comedic scenes, her talent is used up by the end.
    At times, the songs are the best feature.

    Released on various streaming services 07/02/21. Rating: high +1
    (-4 to +4), or 6/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    THE FEAST (GWLEDD): This could be described as "a game of knives
    and poisons." We take an instant dislike to the hostess of the
    dinner party when she infantalizes Cadi (who is helping to prepare
    a feast for the family) by adjusting Cadi's clothing for her. And
    the more we see the other family members and (most of) the guests,
    the more we dislike them. The house is decorated with modern art
    paintings, and its whole focus is on the modern; the hostess says
    that she saved a lot of old family items, but they just don't fit
    into this house they built. Cadi herself is disturbing. Her hair
    is straggly, and at one point, the tablecloth is dirty, but Cadi's
    hands are shown to be clean. Then later when she runs them along a
    wall, dirt appears on the wall. The pacing is very slow and scenes
    seem to drag on interminably, but we get hints throughout of unease
    and danger--various people injure themselves, and there is talk of
    a local legend that may be dangerous. One by one the guests (and
    family) succumb to what is killing them.

    Warning: There are graphic butchering scenes in this film.

    Released theatrically and on AppleTV 11/19/21. Rating: +1 (-4 to
    +4) or 6/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    CRYPTOZOO: CRYPTOZOO is animated, but it is definitely not a
    children's film. The animation is of a style reminiscent of that
    used in FANTASTIC PLANET, although the visuals are sometimes
    incoherent. The film's premise is that the world is full of
    magical creatures which stay hidden, some inspired by Russian
    folklore, some by Greek, some by Japanese, and so on. [The
    "pliny", by the way, is from the Blemmyae in Pliny the Elder's
    "Natural History".] The main character is an Army brat in Okinawa
    visited by a dream-eating baku. The United States military wants
    to use the baku to remove the dreams of the counter-culture, and
    has set up a whole prison for them and other creatures is hidden
    behind a fence. Opposing them is someone who wants to set up a
    sanctuary for the creatures, but it needs to be "tourist-friendly"
    to pay for itself. The setting ends up looking like a Disneyworld
    for cryptids and non-cryptids. The viewer is given instructions.
    For example, we should remember that it is not only the attractive
    creatures that are intelligent, "the Bambis can't defend themselves
    but wolves ... wolves know the deal", and "utopias never work out."

    Released theatrically 08/20/21; available on various streaming
    services. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:



    TOPIC: Tetley Tea (letters of comment by Paul Dormer, Jeff Urs, and
    Kevin R)

    In response to Evelyn's review of THE PAST IS RED in the 12/10/21
    issue of the MT VOID, Paul Dormer writes:

    Are Tetley teabags known in the US? (Or Tetley beer, although that
    brewery no longer exists?) [-pd]

    Jeff Urs replies:

    Tetley teabags, certainly. They sell them in our small-town
    Kentucky Walmart. [-ju]

    Kevin R writes:

    My folks bought Tetley Tea most of the time. I'll buy it if the
    shop I get tea from is out of Barry's.




    And Tim Merrigan also writes:

    The teabags are, I've never heard of the beer. [-tm]

    Mark adds:

    Tetley used to be a brand of tea which was sold here in the 1950s.
    I think Lipton has surpassed it in sales. [-mrl]


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

    I am generally not a fan of ebooks, but they have their advantages.
    I can annotate them without feeling like I am *writing in a book*.
    I can boost the font size for my ageing eyes. They are a lot
    easier to carry with me, especially on a long trip. And they are
    more easily available from libraries than traditional inter-library
    loans. The latter is why I was finally able to read DESIGNER
    GENES: TALES OF THE BIOTECH REVOLUTION by Brian Stableford (Borgo Press/Wildside Press, ISBN 978-1-4794-0001-0), which has been on my
    want list since it was first published in 2004. Initially in a
    small press (and relatively expensive) edition, it came out about
    ten years later in a cheaper edition that I missed, and by that
    point I was trying to avoid buying more books anyway.

    Anyway, I was pleased to finally get a chance to read these stories
    from one of the leading authors of biology- an biotech-based
    science fiction, including the "Emortality" and "Genesys" series.
    And I wasn't disappointed.

    The stories cover a wide range within biotech. "What Can Chloe
    Want?" is about organ transplants. "The Invisible Worm" looks at
    what happens when we reply on technology that has not been
    adequately vetted. "The Age of Innocence" covers some of the same
    territory as the "Emortality" series and a lot of other stories
    about extended lifetimes or even immortality. "Snowball in Hell"
    gets at the very question of what it means to be human. "The Last
    Supper" is about a restaurant that goes even further than GM
    (genetically modified) foods. (I get the impression that GM foods
    are a bigger issue in Britain than in the United States.) "The
    Facts of Life" has a child playing with the biological equivalent
    of Legos, but the notion of such a thing does not seem well thought
    out. "Hot Blood", about a pig farmer, is a bit more humorous than
    most of the stories. For some reason, I just couldn't connect to
    "The House of Mourning", and didn't finish it. "Another Branch of
    the Family Tree" has some valuable perceptions about twins, but the
    underlying premise was similar to that of a bad film (THE
    MUTATIONS) that happened to be running on cable, which somewhat
    made the story seem less likely. "The Milk of Human Kindness"
    reminded me of Greg Egan's "Reasons to Be Cheerful" with its idea
    of using chemicals to direct one's emotional states, although
    Egan's characters act on their own and can change their decisions,
    while Stableford's have their decisions made for them by their
    parents, and the results are permanent. "The Pipes of Pan" is a
    sort of flip side to "The Age of Innocence", looking at life-
    extending techniques applied to the young rather than to the old.
    All in all, highly recommended. [-ecl]

    Mark Leeper

    The secret to staying young is to live honestly,
    eat slowly, and lie about your age.
    --Lucille Ball

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