• MT VOID, 01/14/22 -- Vol. 40, No. 29, Whole Number 2206

    From evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com@21:1/5 to All on Sun Jan 16 06:20:52 2022
    Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
    01/14/22 -- Vol. 40, No. 29, Whole Number 2206

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    Mini Reviews, Part 7 (DON'T LOOK UP, SETTLERS, OLD,
    THE DJINN) (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper
    and Evelyn C. Leeper)
    LEVIATHAN FALLS by James S.A. Corey (audiobook review
    by Joe Karpierz)
    DUNE (letter of comment by Gary McGath)
    Bibles (letter of comment by Jim Susky)
    This Week's Reading (THE AFFIRMATION) (book comments
    by Evelyn C. Leeper)


    TOPIC: Mini Reviews, Part 7 (film reviews by Mark R. Leeper and
    Evelyn C. Leeper)

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

    DON'T LOOK UP: DON'T LOOK UP seems to be a "humorous" version of
    DEEP IMPACT, if Earth being struck by a "planet-killer" comet
    can be presented as humorous. For example, the credits are
    presented in a way that seems too fun-loving for the seriousness
    of the topic. Then again, DR. STRANGELOVE was a success. It is
    definitely a satire, though whether of climate change deniers,
    or anti-vaxxers, or anti-maskers, or of some other group is
    not clear.

    Released 12/24/21; available on Netflix. Rating: high +2 or 8/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:
    <https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/ dont_look_up_2021>

    SETTLERS: SETTLERS starts with a family of three in a surprisingly
    Earth-like environment on Mars. This is eventually explained, but
    is at first quite off-putting to the viewer. Eventually the film
    also adds an anti-colonial aspect. This is basically a John Ford
    Western on Mars (down to using some of Ford's trademark shots),
    with a minimal cast. It also has minimal dialogue and is so slow-
    moving as to be soporific.

    Released theatrically 07/23/21; available on various streaming
    services. Rating: 0 (-4 to +4), or 4/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    OLD: OLD is the latest M. Night Shyamalan film. **SPOILERS** It is
    almost impossible to talk about an M. Night Shyamalan film without
    having at least some slight spoilers. In this case, it's the
    premise of the film--that a group of people from a tropical resort
    find themselves trapped on a beach where they are aging rapidly
    (about a year every thirty minutes). Shyamalan tries to cover all
    the obvious questions, but there are still some inconsistencies
    (for example, the children seem to mature mentally as well as
    physically), and the ending is not entirely satisfying. But if
    you've liked other M. Night Shyamalan films, you'll probably like
    this one.

    Released theatrically 07/23/21; available on various streaming
    services and on DVD. Rating: +2 (-4 to +4), or 7/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:

    THE DJINN: This is a classic story of a child, Dylan, being stalked
    by a supernatural creature, with the added twist of the child being
    both mute and asthmatic. This is caused by the child being home
    alone at midnight and getting up to mischief with a grimoire.
    Dylan fights battles his father (seen only at the beginning and the
    very end) doesn't suspect. Much of it is filmed through a red
    lens, and the director creates tension by having very limited
    dialogue. The film produces some genuine shudders.

    Released in limited theatrical release 05/14/2021; available on
    various streaming services: Rating: low +1, or 5/10.

    Film Credits:

    What others are saying:



    TOPIC: LEVIATHAN FALLS by James S.A. Corey (copyright 2021;
    Recorded Books, Inc.; 19 hours and 40 minutes; narrated by
    Jefferson Mays; ASIN B0971RBRV8) (audiobook review by Joe Karpierz)

    The hardest thing to do when writing this review is not to wax
    poetic about the entire Expanse series. Little did James S.A.
    Corey (pen name of co-authors Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham) know
    that LEVIATHAN WAKES, the first book in The Expanse, would have
    such a massive effect on the science fiction genre and their
    careers. Now, nine novels, several shorter stories, and a six
    season television series later, "The Expanse" stands as one of the
    greatest (in my opinion) works of science fiction that has ever
    been conceived. And did I mention the novels and shorter stories
    won the Hugo Award for Best Series in 2020?

    But all good things must come to an end, and The Expanse is no
    exception. Well, sort of. There is one more novella, "The Sins of
    Our Fathers", coming out as part of a collection of all The Expanse
    short works which will be published in March, which takes place
    after the conclusion of the ninth and final book, LEVIATHAN FALLS.

    Winston Duarte, the head of the Laconian Empire, has apparently met
    his end. Duarte was, in fact, trying to unite all of humanity
    under the umbrella of the empire. But Duarte had other plans up
    his sleeve, and as we learned in TIAMAT'S WRATH, other powers had a
    different idea of how things should go. As a refresher course, way
    back in LEVIATHAN WAKES we learn about the protomolecule, something
    that was thought to be an alien weapon. As the novels progressed,
    we learned that the protomolecule was created by a race of beings
    for their own purposes. The problem is that there was another more
    vast and powerful entity out there, which destroyed the
    protomolecule builders. What we're finding out is that now that
    ancient enemy is now awake because of what Duarte was doing, and is
    coming after the human race.

    I think it would be obvious at this point to say that LEVIATHAN
    FALLS is the story of how that threat is defeated by our band of
    intrepid heroes. While the novel focuses on the crew of the
    Rocinante, it is more than just James Holden, Naomi Nagata, Amos
    Burton, and Alex Kamal that take part in saving humanity.
    However, it is the crew of the Roci that take center stage in
    the end. It is fitting that Corey brings the series back to its
    roots, back to basics, in focusing on the crew. And while there
    are a bunch of other characters that we know from previous books
    along the way, like Teresa Duarte and Elvi Okoye (and a surprise
    return of a character I wasn't expecting to see ever again), or
    new ones like Aliana Tanaka, the focus is really on those that
    have been with us all along. And that crew, which has been
    through so much over the years, is still a family. Sure,
    sometimes a dysfunctional one, but still a family. And the
    characters have grown over the years. Alex and Amos surprise
    the reader up until the end, Naomi shows us a side of herself
    that I think was there all along but never really came out,
    and Holden...is Holden. Sure, he's grown up too, but in true
    Holden fashion he does something that is reckless and necessary,
    because he's always been motivated to do what he thinks is right
    to save humanity. You know--because he's James Holden. It's
    what he does. But of course, like just about every other crazy
    chance he takes, his action comes at a price.

    Corey does a magnificent job wrapping up the story that began in
    2011 with LEVIATHAN WAKES. He takes all the time he needs to let
    the readers know where each character ended up and why, including
    in a nice epilogue which I didn't see coming. And yet, it's not
    boring, it's not slow. It really is necessary. All of the crew
    may not be in a better place, but they're in a place they belong,
    and they are performing roles and actions that are meant for them
    and that make sense.

    And one more time, what can I say about narrator Jefferson Mays?
    He really is the only person that could have narrated this series
    to perfection. Or maybe as the series progressed I came to feel
    that he's the only one that could have done "The Expanse" any
    justice whatsoever.

    LEVIATHAN FALLS is an absolutely terrific conclusion to the story
    that began over ten years ago in LEVIATHAN WAKES. It's not often
    that a series ends in such a satisfying manner. While I will miss
    the characters and the story, I know they will always be there on
    the pages if I want to visit them again. Still, it's a melancholy
    feeling to say goodbye to them this time around. It's been a heck
    of a ride. [-jak]


    TOPIC: DUNE (letter of comment by Gary McGath)

    In response to Mark and Evelyn's review of DUNE in the 01/07/22
    issue of the MT VOID, Gary McGath writes:

    [Mark and Evelyn 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." [-mrl/ecl]

    If it worked for Bakshi...

    Well, actually, it didn't work very well for him. [-gmg]

    Evelyn notes:

    However, DUNE--PART TWO is officially "greenlit". While nothing
    is final until it is actually released, it does seem like it will
    happen. [-ecl]


    TOPIC: Bibles (letter of comment by Jim Susky)

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

    I don't recall which Bible was in use at the Lutheran church Mom
    liked. We had at least one KJV at the house.

    The night manager at the McDonalds where I worked one summer was
    active Air Force--a Baptist, who stated he liked to debate
    scripture with LDS folks (the KJV is standard fare for both sects).

    Anyway, the NIV New Testament was then newly published. Mr. Combs
    recommended it, and I got a copy. The difference between 1603 KJV
    and 1976 NIV was striking. Plain English--a blessed relief. [-js]

    Evelyn notes:

    For those unfamiliar with the abbreviation, "LDS" stands for
    "Latter Day Saints", a.k.a the Mormons. [-ecl]


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

    I just re-read THE AFFIRMATION by Christopher Priest (Faber &
    Faber, ISBN 0-571-11684-1). This is an earlier work by Priest, who
    is now best known for THE PRESTIGE. But many of the underlying
    ideas in THE PRESTIGE appeared here fourteen years earlier. For
    example, the unreliable narrator who constantly points out his
    unreliability: "This much I know for sure: My name is Peter
    Sinclair, I am English and I am, or I was, twenty-nine years old.
    Already there is an uncertainty, and my sureness recedes. Age is a
    variable; I am no longer twenty-nine."

    And even more in "I was becoming aware of the deceptiveness of
    prose. Every sentence contained a lie."

    How to refer to that line is another example of another aspect that
    shows up n a slightly different form in THE PRESTIGE. Do I say
    Priest said thus and so, or do I say Priest's character Peter
    Sinclair said thus and so? (I had this problem when annotating
    MOBY-DICK: when was Melville speaking as himself and when was he
    speaking as Ishmael?)

    Compare the lines quoted above to the start of Alfred Borden's
    section of THE PRESTIGE: "I write in the year 1901. My name, my
    real name, is Alfred Borden," followed later by, "Already, without
    once writing a falsehood, I have started the deception that is my
    life. The lie is contained in these words, even in the very first
    of them. It is the fabric of everything that follows, yet nowhere
    will it be apparent."

    Priest's observations on this are in the statements, "To discuss
    matters like this is my writing I had to be at a stage removed from
    myself. There was a duplication of myself involved, perhaps even a triplication. There was I who was writing. There was I whom I
    could remember. And there was I of whom I wrote, the protagonist
    of the story," and "But to do that I should first have to
    acknowledge that I really had become two people: myself, and the
    protagonist of the story."

    Another question of the book is the question of what reality is.
    Is it a consensus of its participants? Is it different for each
    person? Or is there an objective reality independent of observers?
    This arises early on when Peter's sister comes to visit and
    perceives his house quite differently than he does, as Peter says:
    "I was shocked. My white room was the focus of my life in the
    house. Because it had become what I imagined, it was central to
    everything I was doing. The sun dazzled against the newly painted
    walls, the rush matting was pleasantly abrasive against my naked
    feet, and every morning when I came down from sleeping I could
    smell the freshness of the paint. I always felt renewed and
    recharged by my white room, because it was a haven of sanity in a
    life become muddled. Felicity threw this in doubt. If I looked at
    the room in the way she obviously did ... yes, I had not yet
    actually got around to painting it. The boards were bare, the
    plaster was cracked and bulging with fungus, and mildew clung
    around the window frame. But this was Felicity's failure, not
    mine. She was perceiving it wrongly. ... Felicity saw only
    narrow or actual truth. She was unreceptive to higher truth, to
    imaginative coherence, and she would certainly fail to understand
    the kinds of truth I told in my manuscript.

    The two come together in the rumor that the athanasia treatment,
    which allows the winners of the Lotterie to live forever, involves
    inducing total amnesia on the subject and then reconstructing their
    memories based on an autobiography that they have written.

    There are also touches of something made more explicit in China
    Mieville's CITY & THE CITY: the morphing of one city into another,
    both real but with a reality controlled by the person experiencing
    the city.

    (Priest also mentions "archaic non-decimal currency", a nod to the
    tenth anniversary of the decimalization of British currency in 1971
    (the book was published in 1971).)

    I thoroughly recommend THE AFFIRMATION, and indeed any of Priest's
    work set in the Dream Archipelago. [-ecl]


    Mark Leeper

    More than one newspaper has been ruined by the
    brilliant writer in the editor's chair.
    --Lord Camrose

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)
  • From Paul Dormer@21:1/5 to evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com on Sun Jan 16 15:34:00 2022
    In article <a3d86efd-4dbd-4904-9ba1-853dd056799bn@googlegroups.com>, evelynchimelisleeper@gmail.com () wrote:

    Anyway, the NIV New Testament was then newly published. Mr. Combs recommended it, and I got a copy. The difference between 1603 KJV
    and 1976 NIV was striking. Plain English--a blessed relief.

    I wonder how that compares with the New English Bible, which came out in
    the sixties.

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)