THE MT VOID
Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
06/10/22 -- Vol. 40, No. 50, Whole Number 2227
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Reminder about Failed Mail
BLADE RUNNER (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)
Scientific Accuracy in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY
(letter of comment by Jim Susky)
This Week's Reading (BY FORCE ALONE) (book comments
by Evelyn C. Leeper)
TOPIC: Reminder about Failed Mail
If the email to you with the MT VOID comes back with an error
message about spam or something like that for that specific email,
I will attempt to contact you to see if you would prefer a PDF
(probably less likely to be labeled as spam), or if you have a
different email address to use.
If the email to you with the MT VOID comes back with an error
message about your mailbox being full, or disabled, or other error
about email in general, there is not much I can do, so if the MT
VOID stops arriving, or you change your email address, you need to
contact me at my address above with instructions. [-ecl]
TOPIC: BLADE RUNNER (film retrospective by Mark R. Leeper)
June 25 is the fortieth anniversary of the initial release of
Ridley Scott's BLADE RUNNER. Given that it is forty years old
there will likely be SPOILERS! BLADE RUNNER is notorious for the
number of versions of it. I will be discussing the first one I saw
(the U.S. theatrical version). There is also an international
theatrical version, a U.S. television version, the "Director's
Cut", and the "Final Cut".
The film has been connected with Warner Brothers, which is
interesting because Warner Brothers does not have a real history of
major science fiction movies (THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, THEM!
and SOYLENT GREEN are probably the best known).
Due to an actors' strike during pre-production, Ridley Scott and
his art department had a long time to develop the look of this film
and they worked wonders--the art direction is exquisite. Scott and
his cinematographer Jordan Cronenworth go overboard in trying to
capture the film noir texture of this world. (Everything except
the final scenes take place at night, which allows for very
dramatic lighting effects, but makes one wonder exactly how much
time has passed and whether the earth has stopped rotating.)
Scott also gives us a truly multi-ethnic, polyglot future with many
different cultures blending into each other. But he also seems to
revel in unpleasant images--viewer be warned.
Rutger Hauer's make-up resembles a well-known illustration from
Olaf Stapledon's ODD JOHN. (The film THIS ISLAND EARTH borrowed
the same makeup look for its aliens.)
Deckard seems to find that every clue leads him to the next
location, which just coincidentally leads to the clue after that,
much as in MOONRAKER.
One thing which always bothered me was the twisting of Deckard's
neck, which as shown would break his neck. Perhaps this is the
basis of the belief that Deckard is a replicant.
Rating: low +2 (-4 to +4)
TOPIC: Scientific Accuracy in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (letter of
comment by Jim Susky)
In response to Peter Trei's comments on scientific accuracy in
2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY in the 06/03/22 issue of the MT VOID, Jim
Peter Trei picked a "valid" nit in Kubrick's 2001:
"It always bugged me that (he) didn't attempt to simulate lunar
gravity.... They missed a great chance too; when they pour coffee
in the shuttle to the dig, the shot cuts just before the liquid
appears. A slow motion shot of it pouring would have been great."
Given that Kubrick made extensive use of "overcranking"--it would
have been a simple matter to show a slo-mo coffee ad--complete with
"that shuttle is shown flying over the lunar landscape about a
hundred meters up. While low orbits are possible, that's
ridiculously low, given mountains, etc."
How long were the transit sequences en route to the big black slab?
30 seconds in all? Kubrick and team went to great lengths to
assure realism. I suspect he chose a relatively "close"
perspective to show off the detail in the shuttle--and to give a
"goundlings" perspective. To suppose that the viewer would be "up
in the air" (so to speak) would be jarring--and would take the
viewer out of the magic. [-js]
TOPIC: This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper)
BY FORCE ALONE by Lavie Tidhar (Tor, ISBN 978-1-250-75346-5) is a
revisionist Arthurian history. It is the complete opposite of
perhaps the best-known revisionist Arthurian history: THE MISTS OF
AVALON by Marion Zimmer Bradley. But where THE MISTS OF AVALON
focuses on the female and pagan elements, grounded in the land of
Britain, BY FORCE ALONE is the story of how Arthur started as a
minor juvenile delinquent and rose Al-Capone-like (or
Tony-Soprano-like, for today's readers) to rule all of Britain as
the "capo del capi", while Guinevere began as the leader of a group
of female bandits.
Tidhar does some strange stuff (even considering the premise).
"Merlin mutters pi. Pi is an irrational number--only such numbers
hold power in an irrational place--and it is transcendental, which
seems appropriate. And it is infinite, just like the Weald."
(Well, no it's not infinite--its decimal expression is infinitely
long.) He also goes on about the square root of two being
irrational, which doesn't strike me as something the Merlin of
this story would be that informed about.
"A butterfly as large as a fist flitters past Galahad's face an he
bats it away savagely. ... 'Don't touch anything,' the crawler
tells him. 'I warned you before.'" Is this a reference to the
butterfly that flaps its wings and causes a hurricane, or more
likely, the butterfly in Ray Bradbury's "A Sound of Thunder"?
Clearly, the description above will either make you want to read
the book, or to run screaming in the opposite direction. (I'm
clearly in the first camp, or I wouldn't be reviewing it, would I?)
Tidhar may have written some normal books, but most of the ones I
know of have unusual plots: one has Osama bin Laden as a vigilante
in a popular series of novels in a world without terrorism, another
has Hitler as a detective in a 1939 London with a different sort of
Holocaust. And CENTRAL STATION seems to have every far-future
trope there is. [-ecl]
Theory is a park, practice is a swamp.
--S. C. Johnson