THE MT VOID
Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
06/25/21 -- Vol. 39, No. 52, Whole Number 2177
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Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, ele...@optonline.net
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Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
Lectures, etc. (NJ)
My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in July (comments
by Mark R. Leeper)
SONG OF FREEDOM (1936) (film review by Evelyn C. Leeper)
The Giant Spider Invasion and More on the Mice
This Week's Reading (library browsing) (book comments
by Evelyn C. Leeper)
TOPIC: Science Fiction (and Other) Discussion Groups, Films,
Lectures, etc. (NJ)
At this point, everything about future meetings of [the Middletown
SF group] is tentative: date, day of the week, start & end times,
location (outdoors/indoors, CommunityRoom/CompLab/smallroom), movie
viewing, and even book/film choice. However, the schedule below is
the best guess for now.
July 1 (MTPL), 7:30PM: SECONDS (1966) & novel by David Ely (1962)
July 22 (OBPL), 7:00PM: PROJECT HAIL MARY by Andy Weir
August 5 (MTPL), 7:30PM: A SCANNER DARKLY (2006) & novel
by Philip K. Dick (1977)
movie: DVD MTPL; rent on PrimeVideo, Vudu, YouTube
TOPIC: My Picks for Turner Classic Movies in July (comments by Mark
On July 23, Turner Classic Movies is turning itself over to
"Arabian Nights" fantasies:
06:00 AM Kismet (1955)
08:00 AM The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926)
09:15 AM The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
11:15 AM Bowery to Bagdad (1955)
12:30 PM Arabian Tights (1933)
01:00 PM The Golden Arrow (1964)
02:45 PM Sinbad the Sailor (1947)
04:45 PM Son of Sinbad (1955)
06:30 PM Captain Sindbad (1963)
These fantasies are not seen in the West as frequently as vampire
stories but are all based on a single albeit huge book of fantasy
stories, THE ARABIAN NIGHTS (a.k.a. THE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS),
with characters such as Sinbad, Aladdin, and Scheherazade.
There have been many versions and translations of this book, with
the first English translation being made from Antoine Galland's
French translation, and the most famous English translation being
by Sir Richard Francis Burton. Galland had made major changes to
the work when he translated it, and arguably Burton did as well,
although until recently his was the most complete, and also
considered one of the finest.
Probably the most famous character is Sinbad, due to being the
subject of many films, including THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (not
being shown in this festival, but probably better-known than all
the other films combined). High up on the same list of famous
characters is THE THIEF OF BAGDAD, represented here by the 1940
version with Sabu rather than the 1924 version with Douglas
Fairbanks, or any of the other, lesser versions.
It is interesting that in the 1924 version the main (and most
memorable) character is the thief, played by Douglas Fairbanks,
while in the 1940 version the thief is Sabu, but the memorable
characters are the villain, played gloriously by Conrad Veidt, and
the Djinn, played by Rex Ingram. Look for fabulous color
These films are of varying cinematic quality, but one thing that is
easy to guess from the years in which they were made is that they
are full of stereotypes of the sort that one would not put into
THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED is notable as being the oldest
surviving animated feature film, and is done in silhouette
animation (similar to shadow puppets, but animated rather than
manipulated in real time). [-ecl]
[THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1940), July 23, 9:15 AM]
TOPIC: SONG OF FREEDOM (1936) (film review by Evelyn C. Leeper)
SONG OF FREEDOM (1936) is a very early Hammer Studios film--so
early that many do not consider it to be a "real" Hammer film.
John Zinga (played by Paul Robeson) is a British dock worker who is
descended from a king of Casanga. He is discovered by an opera
impresario, and one of the songs he sings leads an anthropologist
to tell him where his ancestors came from and their royal lineage.
This lets Zinga return to what he considers his real home.
While the first part of the film is quite well done, the part in
Africa is embarrassing. Zinga shows up in white suit and pith
helmet, looking like a typical colonialist. In fact, his one local
friend, Mandingo, tells him he is not truly one of them: "Although
you are of our color, you are not of us." And the natives and even
Zinga's servant are somewhat stereotypical.
Zinga wants to improve the lives of his people, but he wants to
make change by fiat--in other words, be a dictator (even though it
is softened to "king"). So he tells people what they should do
without any consideration for their opinions.
What makes this all even more noteworthy is that Robeson had final
cut approval, meaning he apparently had no issues with the various
The film is basically known for two things: the portrayal of Anglo-
Africans, and Paul Robeson's singing. The former may be somewhat
idealized, but clearly the latter is the real deal. [-ecl]
TOPIC: The Giant Spider Invasion and More on the Mice
[The invasion is giant, not the spiders.]
"An Australian region has been caught in webs of thousands of
spiders after severe floods that have forced people--and arachnids-
-to find drier land.
"The region of Gippsland in Victoria has been whipped by 77-mph
winds and torrential rain storms since last week, killing two
residents and forcing some to evacuate, Yahoo News Australia
"The spiders are part of what looks like a biblical plague of
critters to hit Australia this year after droughts and floods that
have unleashed hordes of mice chewing their way across agricultural
areas, leaving devastated crops in their wake. The massive mouse
infestation has some Aussies worried that snakes looking for prey
could follow the rodents in coming months, but for now some
residents in eastern Victoria can enjoy the silky trails of their
And more on the mice:
"Hundreds of prisoners at Wellington Correctional Center in
Australia's New South Wales state are being forced to move out of
the facility as officials scramble to repair the damage caused by
mice chomping through cables, scurrying across ceiling panels and
embedding in the building's walls.
"Corrective Services New South Wales Commissioner Peter Severin
confirmed that 'vital remediation work' needed to be carried out at
the jail, which is located about four hours from Sydney, along with
a thorough cleaning and review of the prison's infrastructure.
"'The health, safety and well-being of staff and inmates is our
number one priority so it's important for us to act now,' he said,
as an estimated 420 male and female prisoners geared up to be
relocated over the next 10 days, along with at least 200 staff
TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
Well, the Old Bridge library finally opened for "drop-in browsing".
(A few months ago, they had been letting people make appointments
to browse, but then they shut that down, probably due to someone on
staff testing positive.) Since my hip was recovered enough for me
to get around, I decided it was time to start making a dent in my
And I made a pretty big dent: eight books, including two inter-
library loan books I figured I would pick up at the same time.
(I'm glad I brought my big tote bag!) These included a couple of
Hugo nominees, as I begin to work my way through the Hugo novella
finalists (and perhaps the Lodestar Young Adult finalists as well).
Also on my stack now are THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES by Alix
E. Harrow, SUPERNOVA ERA by Cixin Liu, THE ANTHROPOCENE RAG by Alex
Irvine, ESCAPING EXODUS by Nicky Drayden, WINTER TIDE by Ruthanna
Emrys, THE DAZZLE OF DAY by Molly Gloss, UPRIGHT WOMEN WANTED by
Seanan McGuire, COME TUMBLING DOWN by Sarah Gailey, and WHAT IS IT
LIKE TO GO TO WAR by Karl Marlantes (the only non-fiction book in
So this week's column is shorter than usual, because I have a lot
of reading to do! [-ecl]
Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry
of logical ideas.