• MT VOID, 01/07/22 -- Vol. 40, No. 28, Whole Number 2205

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jan 9 06:05:48 2022
    Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
    01/07/22 -- Vol. 40, No. 28, Whole Number 2205

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    Mini Reviews, Part 6 (DUNE, MAYDAY, COME TRUE)
    (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper
    and Evelyn C. Leeper)
    PROJECT HAIL MARY by Andy Weir (audio book review
    by Joe Karpierz)
    THE ANGLO-SAXONS by Marc Morris (book review
    by Gregory Frederick)
    CYRANO (letters of comment by Gary McGath and Kevin R)
    THE PAST IS RED (letters of comment by Kevin R
    and Jeff Urs)
    Bibles (letter of comment by Kevin R)
    EYRE, BECOMING JANE) (book comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 6 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
    Evelyn C. Leeper)

    Here is the sixth batch of mini-reviews, with more science
    fiction and fantasy.

    DUNE--PART ONE: This is the third adaptation of Frank Herbert's
    novel, following the movie in 1984 by David Lynch and the
    television mini-series in 2000 by John Harrison. This version, by
    Denis Villeneuve, has a stunning visual design, perhaps the best we
    are likely to see in film in years. The scale of the scenery and
    everything in it is huge. The landscape is reminiscent of Luke's
    planet in STAR WARS, but that is not strange--STAR WARS is reported
    to have gotten its inspiration for this (and for its worm carcass)
    from John Schoenherr's illustrations for the serialization of the
    novel DUNE. We see some fascinating equipment in the desert, but
    the viewer is left in suspense as to what a full sandworm looks
    like. The people on the planet are drawn with a pseudo-mysticism
    that adds to the images. But as impressive as the mise-en-scene
    is, it cannot keep the viewer entertained by itself and it isn't
    too long before DUNE starts testing the viewer's patience and in
    general bewildering them. I am not sure I could put my finger on
    exactly where it happened but somehow a very good film turned into
    a moderately bad one. Perhaps we have spent too much time in the

    One question: If spice is necessary for interstellar travel, and
    spice occurs only on Arrakis, how did the people (presumably from
    Earth, but clearly not from Arrakis) get to Arrakis in the first

    And though the studio concealed it in all its advertising, this is
    "DUNE--PART ONE"--it is only the first half of the story. The
    second half is due out in the fall of 2023.

    Released theatrically and on HBO Max 10/22/21; available streaming
    on HBO Max. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    MAYDAY: In MAYDAY, Ana is a member of the hired help in a banquet
    hall, but she's treated even worse than most of the other help,
    verbally and physically abused by her employer. After a
    particularly trying day, she finds a portal to another world
    through an oven (possibly in an attempt to commit suicide, but also
    reminiscent of the passage to Narnia). She meets several other
    women on an uninhabited stretch of beach. This seems to be a land
    of the lost, but is apparently a parallel universe; several of the
    people she meets are counterparts of people from the world at the
    start of the film. The nature of what is going on is kept from the
    viewer for a while but turns out to be a YA-level action story.
    There is a war, but the women seem to be waging a war of their own,
    acting as sirens that lure men from either side to their death.

    Released theatrically 10/01/21. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4), or 6/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    COME TRUE: COME TRUE is a horror film based on the dreams and
    nightmares a teenage runaway has during a sleep study of
    questionable ethics. It has interminably long dream sequences
    which both lack action and are hard to decipher. (It's possible
    that it is easier to interpret when seen on a big screen.)

    Released theatrically 03/12/21. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4), or

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:



    TOPIC: PROJECT HAIL MARY by Andy Weir (copyright 2021, Audible
    Studios, 16 hours and 10 minutes, ASIN B08GB58KD5, narrated by Ray
    Porter) (audio book review by Joe Karpierz)

    While I wasn't around back in the early 20th century when science
    fiction was starting to pick up steam in the pulp magazines, I'm
    pretty sure I remember learning that one of the more important
    things about science fiction was to teach young people about
    science. Sure, in reality a lot of stories did not have rigorous science--after all, there *still* isn't faster than light travel--
    but a lot of stories did have solid science in them. And to be
    fair, there are writers today that still provide rigorous science
    in their stories, and we have a whole sub-genre called "hard
    science fiction". Greg Egan, for example, writes such science

    And then there's Andy Weir.

    Weir exploded onto the scene with THE MARTIAN, a novel (and
    subsequent movie) that reveled in science, explaining every little
    detail of how things worked and how Mark Watley improvised his way
    into surviving by "sciencing the sh**" out of things.

    And then there's PROJECT HAIL MARY. After a slight detour into a
    heist story on the moon, Weir returns to a highly science based
    story in his latest novel. Ryland Grace is a junior high science
    teacher who gets recruited--he's not actually given a choice--to
    consult on a mission to the Tau Ceti system to try to save the
    human race. The basis of his recruitment is a discredited paper
    stating that water is not necessary for life to evolve and exist.
    An odd thing, perhaps, but it does get him a seat at the table.
    The problem is that a life form called "astrophage" is causing the
    sun to dim, which will of course adversely affect all life on the
    planet, eventually ending with the extinction of that life.

    But that information is a flashback for Grace. He wakes up from an
    induced coma on a ship with two dead crewmates and a missing
    memory. As the novel progresses, Grace's memory returns and he
    remembers more and more about what went down on Earth to get him to
    the precarious position he is in now. While this method of
    storytelling is not exactly new--interweaving past events with
    current ones--the fact that they are returning memories as the
    story goes along that is while maybe not clever and also not new
    makes for a nice way for the reader to discover not only how Grace
    got into the situation but just how screwed up things were back
    home to get the story where it is.

    Tau Ceti is a system where astrophages also exist, but they don't
    seem to be dimming that star. Thus, the mission is to go to Tau
    Ceti, discover the reason for that, and discover a way to save
    humanity. The thing is that it's a one-way mission, as there is
    only enough fuel to get the ship to Tau Ceti, but not enough to get
    it home. The fuel, by the way, is astrophage. Yep, the very thing
    that is destroying the Sun is the same thing that is powering the
    ship that will hopefully save humanity.

    But Grace is alone, and he has no idea how to do what he needs to
    do. He's a science teacher. Well, there we go, right? Just like
    Mark Watley in THE MARTIAN, Grace proceeds to use science--some
    times in extreme detail--to solve the numerous problems that he
    must overcome. You know, like learning the language of an alien
    race who's ship is there at the same time for the exact same
    reason. Together Grace and "Rocky" must work against time and ever
    escalating problems to save their respective species.

    I'll admit that as a reader with a technical degree, even I got
    tired of the detailed descriptions of all the science that was
    being done by Grace and Rocky. While the science is interesting,
    and it's clear that Weir did his research, I found my attention
    drifting at some of the explanations. Not that the science as
    presented was hard to understand. Most of it wasn't. It's just
    that there was so much of it that I started to tune out. For me,
    the only part that really dragged was the section where Grace and
    Rocky were working out each other's languages so they could
    communicate with one another. I found myself thinking "are they
    done yet". But still, the science is an integral part of the
    story, and it makes it work. I think that in that respect, Weir
    "out-Martianed THE MARTIAN".

    All in all, this was a good book, and was named Goodreads readers'
    nod as best SF book of the year. I actually haven't read enough
    2021 books to say that just yet, but I can believe that it is among
    the top books of the year.

    Ray Porter is the narrator for this one--R. C. Bray narrated THE
    MARTIAN--and does an admirable job. At this point most narrators
    worth their salt read in multiple voices and switch pretty easily,
    and Porter is no exception. As I've said elsewhere, I'm no expert
    on narration, but I know what I like, what I don't like, and what
    is serviceable. I liked Porter's narration. [-jak]

    [Note: There are *two* different audiobooks of THE MARTIAN, the
    first one being read by R. C. Bray, and the second by Wil


    400-1066 by Marc Morris (book review by Gregory Frederick)

    This history book is a clarification of English history which adds
    to our knowledge of Western history.

    Around 1600 years ago, the Roman Empire left Britain which promptly
    fell into ruin. And then Britain's civil society collapsed into
    chaos. The old Roman cities had no one to maintain or defend them.
    Into this world the Anglo-Saxon people began to migrate from the
    continent into Britain. The Anglo-Saxon people did not want to
    inhabit the old Roman cities and established their own small
    villages. During the late 700's the Vikings began their attacks on
    Britain. This continued for hundreds of years. The Anglo-Saxon
    medieval military tactics at the time were basically offensive.
    When the Vikings would conduct their raids they were swift,
    hit-and-run affairs and the Vikings were gone by the time the
    English king would arrive with his army. This was especially true
    in the early years of Viking attacks. King Alfred in the late
    800's was credited with creating many fortresses called burhs from
    which we get the word borough. These were sometimes rebuilt old
    iron age hill fortresses or restored old walled Roman cities. The
    Vikings did not have siege warfare methods for attacking these
    fortresses so the burh would provide a safe haven for the country
    folk when the Vikings showed up. And this delayed the Vikings,
    giving the English king time to raise an army and meet the Vikings
    at the burh. As the book continues, it covers the complex
    Anglo-Saxon history of conflict between rulers of various regions
    of England and how some would rise to a kingship that covered most
    of England. Eventually Harold Godwineson took over as the English
    king after the death of King Edward in 1066. Later in that same
    year of 1066, Duke William crossed the English Channel with his
    army and defeated Harold and his army. And so began the conquest
    of England by the Norman Duke William which made major changes to
    England's nobility, government, culture, and architecture. It also
    began a period of Norman castle-building.

    This is a well-written and thought-provoking book which
    explains in detail the complex early history of England. [-gf]


    TOPIC: CYRANO (letters of comment by Gary McGath and Kevin R)

    In response to Mark and Evelyn's review of CYRANO in the 12/31/21
    issue of the MT VOID, Gary McGath writes:

    [Re the 1990 version of CYRANO DE BERGERAC, De Guiche, and the move
    away from the nose:] I'll stick with the wonderful Ferrer version
    until I hear there's a better one. I hated Steve Martin's take on

    De Guiche, in the original play, isn't a total villain. He shows
    courage as a military leader and recognizes Cyrano's worth in the
    last act.

    What's the point of Cyrano without the nose? I've seen a musical
    version of Cyrano, with Christopher Plummer in the title role. It
    played in Boston in the eighties; I don't know if it made it to
    Broadway. It's biggest mistake was rendering the dialogue in
    Alexandrine rhyming verse, as in the original French. It sounded
    ridiculous to my ears. Christian was poorly characterized, lacking
    not only charming words but any desire to be more than a dumb
    soldier. The songs mostly didn't work well.

    I went with a bunch of friends. The ones who hadn't read Rostand's
    Cyrano gave it enthusiastic applause; the ones who had (including
    me; I've read it in French and in multiple translations) were
    unimpressed. [-gmg]

    Kevin R writes:

    My two favorite Cyranos: Miguel Ferrer and Quincy Magoo.

    Magoo was short, but the nose references stayed in his version.





    TOPIC: THE PAST IS RED (letters of comment by Kevin R and Jeff Urs)

    In response to Joe Karpierz's review of THE PAST IS RED in the
    12/31/21 issue of the MT VOID, Kevin R writes:

    [Re Tetley Abednego:] I would hope someone so-named didn't end up
    in hot water.

    Jeff Urs responds:

    I'd have thought that just such circumstances would be what it took
    to bring out their real strength. [-ju]

    And Kevin replies:

    That H2O would have to be just at the boiling point, no? [-kr]


    TOPIC: Bibles (letter of comment by Kevin R)

    In response to Evelyn's comments on Bibles in the 12/31/21 issue of
    the MT VOID, Kevin R writes:

    Not [everyone would have the King James Bible in their house] if
    they were part of the largest Christian denomination, in which case
    a translation from the Vulgate such as Douay-Rheims would have been
    in order, prior to Vatican II.


    I had to get a Jerusalem Bible for my sophomore year high school
    religion class. [-kr]

    Evelyn responds:

    Okay, "everyone" was hyperbole on my part. [-ecl]


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

    There are, confusingly, two books with insanely similar names.
    There is BECOMING JANE AUSTEN by Jon Spence (2003, ISBN 978-1-567-
    31894-4), and BECOMING JANE EYRE by Sheila Kohler (2009, ISBN 978- 1-410-42494-5). This was made even more confusing by BECOMING JANE
    AUSTEN being part of the basis of the film titled just BECOMING
    JANE (2007), and then that film being released as part of a double
    feature on Bluray with JANE EYRE.

    BECOMING JANE AUSTEN is a biography, while BECOMING JANE EYRE is a
    novel, but the confusion is still there.

    I blame Sheila Kohler, of course, because her book came out after
    Spence's book *and* the movie, and clearly having three so similar
    titles about two different 19th century English women
    authors/characters, especially when the film title could easily
    refer to either, is going to be confusing.

    Now I think I will go write BECOMING JANE GOODALL or BECOMING JANE
    ADDAMS or BEING JANE SEYMOUR (the queen, not the actress). [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant
    popularity of dogs.
    --Aldous Huxley

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  • From Gary McGath@21:1/5 to eleeper@optonline.net on Sun Jan 9 09:35:09 2022
    On 1/9/22 9:05 AM, eleeper@optonline.net wrote:
    And though the studio concealed it in all its advertising, this is "DUNE--PART ONE"--it is only the first half of the story. The
    second half is due out in the fall of 2023.

    If it worked for Bakshi...

    Well, actually, it didn't work very well for him.

    Gary McGath http://www.mcgath.com

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