MT VOID, 09/03/21 -- Vol. 40, No. 10, Whole Number 2187

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THE MT VOID
Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
09/03/21 -- Vol. 40, No. 10, Whole Number 2187

Co-Editor: Mark Leeper, mle...@optonline.net
Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, ele...@optonline.net
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Topics:
Our Status After Henri and Ida (comments
by Evelyn C. Leeper)
More Comments on FORBIDDEN PLANET (comments
by Mark R. Leeper)
ALIEN DAY by Rick Wilber (book review by Joe Karpierz)
Robby the Robot (letters of comment by Gary McGath, Kevin R,
Keith F. Lynch, and John Kerr-Mudd)
This Week's Reading (ALARIC THE GOTH, THE FALL OF THE ROMAN
EMPIRE, and DER FALL ROM) (book comments
by Evelyn C. Leeper)

===================================================================

TOPIC: Our Status After Henri and Ida (comments by Evelyn
C. Leeper)

A few people have asked, so we'll just say here that we are fine.
Neither Henri nor Ida gave us more than some heavy rain, and we had
no damage from either that or any wind. We seem to have been to
the south of the main tracks for both of them. [-ecl]

===================================================================

TOPIC: More Comments on FORBIDDEN PLANET (comments by Mark
R. Leeper)

Last week I recommended FORBIDDEN PLANET as by Turner Classic
Movies pick of the month. But even such a great film as FORBIDDEN
PLANET has a few flaws, and I will talk about them this week.

Apparently MGM wanted to get the film out with as little expense as
possible. It already has cost $1.9 million, then the most ever
spent to make a science fiction film, and they did not want to sink
much more in. The executives decided on releasing the rough-cut of
the film that it did not want to pay for a final editing. As a
result we see many editing problems that really should have been
corrected. There are little pieces of conversations that seem
either incomplete or totally incoherent. When the cruiser comes out
of hyperspace, Cmdr. Adams (Leslie Nielsen) is momentarily angry at
Jerry, perhaps for navigating the cruiser so close to a star. But
Adams never finishes his sentence and the matter is totally
dropped, so we have no confirmation what it was all about.

In another scene we can suppose that Dr. Ostrow (Warren Stevens)
has started to say something to Adams and stopped himself. But it
would seem the scene was cut. All we have left is him telling
Adams "nothing important, skipper." In another scene Altaira has
decided she loves Adams, but there is nothing that makes it obvious
when seeing her. Still Adams tells Ostrow, "Something new has been
added." Ostrow looks at Altaira and somehow knows what Adams
means. He comments, "That will complicate things." He can see
love in Altaira somehow, but what he is seeing is invisible to the
viewer. It can also be seen by the tiger apparently and he turns
on her, though why a tiger should behave differently to her because
she was in love is never explained. Adams seems surprised that
Alta does not understand, but I have to admit I don't either. Much
of the dialogue is scientifically absurd, like the implication that
lead isotope 217 is lighter than ordinary lead. Some of the
science jargon is complete nonsense, with phrases like "short-
circuit the continuum on a 5 or 6 parsec level."

I might be overruled on this but that sounds like a load of jargon
duck tires.

There are signs that even director Fred M. Wilcox did not give the
script a close reading. We are told that the energy shaft is
twenty miles square. Morbius tells this to Adams pointing
horizontally saying, "Twenty miles," and then pointing in the
opposite direction repeating, "Twenty miles." That would make the
shaft forty miles across and the characters would already be in the
center. In fact, they probably were in a corner of the shaft and
he was supposed to be pointing along two perpendicular edges. In
another scene, Altaira describes a dress in detail for Robby to
make. When we see the dress the length is about right, but
otherwise it looks very different from what was described. More
possible errors: the credits call Anne Francis "Altaira," but in
the film she is almost always called "Alta." She is introduced
with the shorter name, but characters seem to know about the longer
one. When the monster is tracked on radar it is as big as a house,
when we see it is roughly the size of an elephant.

There are some other visual problems. Even the outdoor sets were
clearly shot on soundstages, giving the film a claustrophobic set-
bound feel. The outdoor paintings are all too obviously paintings,
albeit imaginative, with an inexhaustible supply of nearby moons.
The feel is again one reminiscent of the early days of "Star Trek."
Some of the props are a little strange. The klystron monitor looks
like a distiller; blasters look a little too much like dressed-up
packing tubes. When we first see Altaira with a tiger, the cat
walks in front of a red bush and Altaira follows it. Someone must
have sprayed the bush between when the cat was filmed and when
Francis was. The bush turns redder in pieces as Francis walks by
it. We see the camera move just a little each time a panel is shut
around Morbius's home.

MGM was not able to do themselves all the effects for FORBIDDEN
PLANET and got some technical aid from Disney Studios. The result
is that several of the scenes have the unmistakable feel of Disney
animation. When we see sparks in Robby's dome, or long arcs of
electricity, they look like Disney animation. When walking to the
reactor, we see a scene in the power shaft that looks very much
like Disney animation. I assume they also did the rays coming out
of the blasters, but not very well. The line of the blast remains
steady even though the gun is shaking around.

But even with all the groundbreaking approaches in this film, the
filmmakers were afraid to make a future without paying their
tribute to religion. A special effort is made to show that these
future people still believe in God. As Ostrow says, "The Lord sure
made some beautiful worlds." [-mrl]

===================================================================

TOPIC: ALIEN DAY by Rick Wilber (copyright 2021, Tor, $29.99,
Hardcover, 247pp, ISBN 978-1-250-26024-6) (book review by Joe
Karpierz)

What's better than a good old-fashioned nasty sibling rivalry?
Why, a good old-fashioned sibling rivalry between alien brothers
who are arguing over the control of planet Earth. What's better
than that? Well, not only both human and alien sibling rivalries,
but the humans getting involved in the aliens' rivalry. And that's
just for starters.

ALIEN DAY is the sequel to ALIEN MORNING, Rick Wilber's highly
entertaining and very original take on first contact and alien
invasion all wrapped into one. As a quick summary, the S'hudonni
have come to Earth to attain goods from Earth in exchange for
advanced science and technology. And, of course, it turned out to
be something quite different, as this arrangement ultimately
results in humanity living in the shadow of the S'hudonni. Oh,
humanity does appear to prosper and reap benefits under this
arrangement, but there's a nagging suspicion--at least I have a
nagging suspicion--that not is all as it appears with this
arrangement.

However, there are factions within both humanity and the S'hudonni
that don't like the way things are going. Twoclicks is the current
leader of the S'hudonni on Earth, but his brother Whistle is not
happy with the arrangement in the very least, and a violent
conflict erupts between the two. As a result, there are to be
family negotiations back on the S'hudonni to determine who gets
control of Earth (like I said, a little suspicious, I tell you).
Peter Holman, the protagonist of ALIEN MORNING, gets to go to the
homeworld to witness the negotiations and broadcast them to an
anxious human population on Earth.

Meanwhile, Peter's brother Tom leads a group of people rebelling
against what appears to be Twoclicks' benevolent rule. He and his
gang go about sabotaging various crops that contribute to the
creation of the alcohol that the S'hudonni are so fond of. In
reality, Tom is more tied into the conflict between Twoclicks and
Whistle than he is letting on. The intertwined conflicts make for
some interesting situations as Tom escalates his attacks.

All is not a bed of roses for Peter on the S'hudonni homeworld. He
is there alone without human companionship. He does have Treble,
the offspring of Twoclicks and Whistle to keep him company and
parade him around the homeworld. Through Treble, Peter gets to
meet the great Mother of the sparring siblings, who will make the
final decision as to who is in control of Earth. Throw Peter's
sister Kait into the mix, and you have a full family outing in this
novel.

As a reader who lives in the United States, I feel that there is a
parallel between what is going on with both the S'hudonni and
humanity and what is going on here in the U.S. The world situation
in the novel is pitting brother against brother as a result of
entities who are struggling for the power to control the
population, a scenario we are seeing played out every day here in
the United States. The conflicts are eerily similar. I don't know
if Wilber intended it, but given the time frame in which I'm
guessing the book was written, I suspect that national, if not
global politics played a large part in shaping the story in ALIEN
DAY.

Having said that, the undertones don't override what is a really
terrific story. All of the characters we enjoyed in ALIEN MORNING
are back here in ALIEN DAY, contributing to this novel in the same
way they contributed to the prior novel. The book is well written
and moves along; I was never bored nor did I look ahead to see what
was coming up next. I was engaged in the story and the characters,
just as I was in ALIEN MORNING. This book is well worth reading,
and I expect the third novel in the series to be the same way. I'm
looking forward to it. [-jak]

===================================================================

TOPIC: Robby the Robot (letters of comment by Gary McGath, Kevin R,
Keith F. Lynch, and John Kerr-Mudd)

In response to Mark's comments on FORBIDDEN PLANET in the 08/27/21
issue of the MT VOID, Gary McGath writes:

There's a "Twilight Zone" episode where an inventor is working on a
secret project in the basement. I cracked up when the invention
was shown to be Robby. [-gmg]

Kevin R responds:

3 eps of "Lost In Space" featured Robby.

"When Tin Cans Clash!" {War Of The Robots}:
<https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0636256/>

Also "Ghost in Space" (1966) and "Condemned of Space" (1967).

Robby has "worked" into this century!:
<https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1119475/?ref_=nmbio_bio_nm>

Over fifty years of credits! [-kr]

Keith F. Lynch writes:

I'll have to rewatch "Ghost in Space". I knew Robby was in the
other two "Lost in Space" episodes you mention, but not that one.
[-kfl]

John Kerr-Mudd replies:

Danger! Will Robinson! IIRC, WIMN. [-jkm]

===================================================================

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

ALARIC THE GOTH: AN OUTSIDER'S HISTORY OF THE FALL OF ROME by
Douglas Boin (Norton, ISBN 978-0-393-63569-0) is more about the
history of the Goths and the fall of Rome than about Alaric the
Goth. Boin starts out by saying how little documentation there is
about Alaric, so it isn't surprising, but titling it "Alaric the
Goth" is a bit deceptive. In addition, Boin's focus seems to be on
how civilized the Goths really were, but that the Romans' prejudice
against immigrants led them to mistreat, oppress, and murder them.

The book was written in 2020 and one example of how Boin is trying
to emphasize parallels to the present day is his description of the
Romans' treatment of Gothic children:

"The plan, instituted by Emperor Valens, was to distribute the
Gothic children "into various towns to prevent them, when grown to
manhood," of plotting what many people feared would be an
"insurrection." According to the Roman writers who live to witness
this episode, the government's policy applied to Gothic boys eight
to ten years old--"those persons," it was said, "who were too young
for war." Following the usual Roman military practice, many of the
older boys were likely enrolled as cadets. The young Gothic boys
were identified, processed, and sorted, the impersonal nature of
the border guards' tasks little different from the inhumanity of
the colonial-era Dacian slave trade. ... State resources were soon
allocated to implement the border separation policy in full. ...
The rugged plateaus and cities beyond the Taurus Mountains, in
Roman Asia, were identified as suitable holding pens for the
children. Gothic children were forced to say good-bye not only to
a familiar landscape of childhood memories, but to their actual
parents, grandparents, and siblings. No documentation was ever
kept, as far as historians know, that would have identified the
children or helped reuinite them with their families. An obvious
paper trail, in fact, is quite likely what the Roman government
wante to avoid. Cruelty was the intention. Many Gothic parents
never saw their sons again."

Sound familiar?

What I found strange, though, was that while Boin's last chapter
talks about subsequent sacks of Rome, he completely omits the Sack
of Rome in 1527 by the troops of Charles V, arguably the worst sack
of Rome. It lasted a month, and 45,000 Romans were killed,
wounded, or exiled.

The problem is that the lack of focus on Alaric results in a real
scatter-shot book: it touches on the history of the Goths (and the
Vandals), the attitudes of fifth and sixth century Romans toward
immigrants and diversity, (some of) the later sacks of Rome, the
archaeology of the Goths and their sack of Rome, and a lot of other
stuff. (It still doesn't tell me why they haven't tried to find
Alaric's burial place in the Busento River using metal detectors,
since a great hoard was supposedly buried with him.)

In my opinion, Boin should have picked a focus, e.g., the history
of the Goths and their interaction with Rome, and written that.
(An example of this sort of book would be THE STORM BEFORE THE
STORM by Mike Duncan, focusing on a specific period at the end of
the Roman Republic rather than a specific individual.)

THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE by Michael Grant (Collier, ISBN 978-0-
02-028560-4) is 250 pages long, which is rather short for such a
comprehensive title, especially since the historical description is
only about a tenth of that. (One could claim that this is because
leaving out the decline saved a thousand pages, but that would just
be snarky.) This book could more accurately be titled THIRTEEN
INTERNAL CONFLICTS THAT HELPED CAUSE THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE,
such as "The Generals against the State" and "The Other World
against This World".

But one could just as easily have lists of other lengths, depending
on how much one wants to collect related causes under a single
banner. "The Poor against the State", for example, includes
agrarian slavery, blockage of land by large landholders,
destruction of peasantry, feudalization, large landed properties,
and taxation, all of which are separate items in Alexander
Demandt's 210 items listed in his DER FALLS ROM(*). (His list is
also marvelously self-contradictory, listing abolition of gods,
Christianity, lack of religiousness, mystery religions, religious
struggles and schisms, superstition, and the ever-popular "Jewish
influence".

Obviously, one has to see if these "causes" would also apply to the
Eastern Empire, but the truth is probably that it was the
conjunction of all these causes. If the Eastern Empire only had
157 of Demandt's causes, that might not have been enough to tip the
scales. At any rate, for someone looking for a book a bit less
intimidating than Edward Gibbon's opus, and that doesn't cost $90
and have 719 pages of German like Demandt's, this is a reasonable
overview of some of the causes of the Western Empire's fall.

(*) Abolition of gods, abolition of rights, absence of character,
absolutism, agrarian question, agrarian slavery, anarchy, anti-
Germanism, apathy, aristocracy, asceticism, attacks by Germans,
attacks by Huns, attacks by nomads on horseback. Backwardness in
science, bankruptcy, barbarisation, bastardisation, blockage of
land by large landholders, blood poisoning, bolshevisation, bread
and circuses, bureaucracy, Byzantinism. Capitalism, change of
capitals, caste system, celibacy, centralisation, childlessness,
Christianity, citizenship (granting of), civil war, climatic
deterioration, communism, complacency, concatenation of
misfortunes, conservatism, corruption, cosmopolitanism, crisis of
legitimacy, culinary excess, cultural neurosis. Decentralisation,
decline of Nordic character, decline of the cities, decline of the
Italic population, deforestation, degeneration, degeneration of
intellect, demoralisation, depletion of mineral resources,
despotism, destruction of environment, destruction of peasantry,
destruction of political process, destruction of Roman influence,
devastation, differences in wealth, disarmament, disillusion with
state, division of empire, division of labour, earthquakes, egoism,
egoism of the state, emancipation of slaves, enervation, epidemics,
equal rights (granting of), eradication of the best, escapism,
ethnic dissolution, excessive aging of population, excessive
civilisation, excessive culture, excessive foreign infiltration,
excessive freedom, excessive urbanisation, expansion, exploitation.
Fear of life, female emancipation, feudalisation, fiscalism,
gladiatorial system, gluttony, gout, hedonism, Hellenisation,
heresy, homosexuality, hothouse culture, hubris, hyperthermia.
Immoderate greatness, imperialism, impotence, impoverishment,
imprudent policy toward buffer states, inadequate educational
system, indifference, individualism, indoctrination, inertia,
inflation, intellectualism, integration (weakness of),
irrationality, Jewish influence. Lack of leadership, lack of male
dignity, lack of military recruits, lack of orderly imperial
succession, lack of qualified workers, lack of rainfall, lack of
religiousness, lack of seriousness, large landed properties, lead-
poisoning, lethargy, levelling (cultural), levelling (social), loss
of army discipline, loss of authority, loss of energy, loss of
instincts, loss of population, luxury. Malaria, marriages of
convenience, mercenary system, mercury damage, militarism, monetary
economy, monetary greed, money (shortage of), moral decline, moral
idealism, moral materialism, mystery religions, nationalism of
Rome's subjects, negative selection. Orientalisation, outflow of
gold, over-refinement, pacifism, paralysis of will, paralysation,
parasitism, particularism, pauperism, plagues, pleasure- seeking,
plutocracy, polytheism, population pressure, precociousness,
professional army, proletarisation, prosperity, prostitution,
psychoses, public baths. Racial degeneration, racial
discrimination, racial suicide, rationalism, refusal of military
service, religious struggles and schisms, rentier mentality,
resignation, restriction to profession, restriction to the land,
rhetoric, rise of uneducated masses, romantic attitudes to peace,
ruin of middle class, rule of the world. Semi-education,
sensuality, servility, sexuality, shamelessness, shifting of trade
routes, slavery, Slavic attacks, socialism (of the state), social
tensions, soil erosion, soil exhaustion, spiritual barbarism,
stagnation, stoicism, stress, structural weakness, superstition.
Taxation, pressure of terrorism, tiredness of life,
totalitarianism, treason, tristesse, two-front war,
underdevelopment, useless diet, usurpation of all powers by the
state, vaingloriousness, villa economy, vulgarisation."

[-ecl]

===================================================================

Mark Leeper
mle...@optonline.net


Precedents do no stop where they begin, but,
however narrow the path upon which they enter,
they create for themselves a highway whereon they
may wander with the utmost latitude ... no one thinks
a course is base for himself which has proven
profitable to others.
--Velleius Paterculus

Paul Dormer

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Sep 5, 2021, 10:52:27 AMSep 5
to
In article <176357de-0ffc-4c7e...@googlegroups.com>,
evelynchim...@gmail.com () wrote:

>
> ALARIC THE GOTH: AN OUTSIDER'S HISTORY OF THE FALL OF ROME by
> Douglas Boin (Norton, ISBN 978-0-393-63569-0) is more about the
> history of the Goths and the fall of Rome than about Alaric the
> Goth.

There's actually a R.A. Lafferty historical novel about Alaric - Alaric:
The Day the World Ended, aka The Fall of Rome.

Dorothy J Heydt

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Sep 5, 2021, 9:41:00 PMSep 5
to
In article <176357de-0ffc-4c7e...@googlegroups.com>,
ele...@optonline.net <evelynchim...@gmail.com> wrote:
>THE MT VOID
>
>TOPIC: More Comments on FORBIDDEN PLANET (comments by Mark
>R. Leeper)
>
>
>MGM was not able to do themselves all the effects for FORBIDDEN
>PLANET and got some technical aid from Disney Studios. The result
>is that several of the scenes have the unmistakable feel of Disney
>animation. ...

Once long ago, when Bjo Trimble was living in LA, I visited her
and she decided to take me to meet Forry Ackerman. So we drove
up to his house. He wasn't home, but his door was unlocked and
Bjo took me on in. We saw lots of neat artwork, and lying on his
desk was a concept drawing of the Id Monster. It was a pencil
drawing that neither moved around nor flashed in and out, and I
could see clearly what it looked like.

You'll remember Morbius telling his visitors that the Krell
didn't make pictures, and that the only clue he had as to what
they looked like was the shape of their doorways.

But the visitor (and the aucience) have already seen the plaster
cast of the monster's foot, with its huge pad and long claw.

The Id Monster in the drawing had the body shape of a Krell, with
two heavy clawed feet under it. It had no hands.

No wonder the Krell wanted to get past the need for any physical
instrumentality!

But it had the face of an ape, with the fangs of a full-grown
male chimpanzee.

I forget the name of the Disney artist who designed that thing.*
But he was good.

_______
*If I were at home I could get the DVD out, but I'm at a gaming
convention, helping Hal shill for the gaming convention we're
going to be running next February, Deo volente. (We had to cancel
the one scheduled for this year.)

--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
Www.kithrup.com/~djheydt/

Kevrob

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Sep 6, 2021, 7:25:57 PMSep 6
to
On Sunday, September 5, 2021 at 9:41:00 PM UTC-4, Dorothy J Heydt wrote:

[snip]

> I forget the name of the Disney artist who designed that thing.*
> But he was good.
>
> _______
> *If I were at home I could get the DVD out, but I'm at a gaming
> convention, helping Hal shill for the gaming convention we're
> going to be running next February, Deo volente. (We had to cancel
> the one scheduled for this year.)
>
> --

Happy shilling!

I think Joshua Meador is the animator in question.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_Meador

https://outline.com/ceXw5s which is:

https://cdispatch.com/lifestyles/2011-08-21/rufus-ward-josh-meador-and-the-forbidden-planet/

https://www.oscars.org/events/mysteries-krell-making-forbidden-planet

--
Kevin R

Dorothy J Heydt

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Sep 6, 2021, 9:20:59 PMSep 6
to
In article <9e6b7452-e140-48d7...@googlegroups.com>,
Kevrob <kev...@my-deja.com> wrote:
>On Sunday, September 5, 2021 at 9:41:00 PM UTC-4, Dorothy J Heydt wrote:
>
>[snip]
>
>> I forget the name of the Disney artist who designed that thing.*
>> But he was good.
>>
>> _______
>> *If I were at home I could get the DVD out, but I'm at a gaming
>> convention, helping Hal shill for the gaming convention we're
>> going to be running next February, Deo volente. (We had to cancel
>> the one scheduled for this year.)
>>
>> --
>
>Happy shilling!

Thanks! We're just back (Monday afteroon) and many old friends
and gamers were happy to see us. We keep saying, "We *hope* to
hold DunDraCon next February, here's our website, watch this
space."

https://www.dundracon.com/

(If anyone's in the Northern California area and is interested.)
Yes! That's what I saw [a copy of] on Forry's desk.

Cool, is it not?

>https://www.oscars.org/events/mysteries-krell-making-forbidden-planet

Thanks.

Kevrob

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Sep 6, 2021, 11:00:13 PMSep 6
to
So cool!

> >https://www.oscars.org/events/mysteries-krell-making-forbidden-planet
>
> Thanks.
> --

You are welcome. I saw FP a few times starting in the 1970s.
I used to frequent Milwaukee's Oriental Theater, in its heyday
as an arthouse/repertory cinema and occasional concert venue.
One friend of mine started ushering there in high school, and
eventually worked his way up to manager. He was also involved
in programming films at various XCons. I can't remember if I first
saw it at a con or at the Oriental, or on our family's black & white
TV, but it was always a favorite. One of my fellow fen/roommates
bought the soundtrack LP of "electronic tonalities," which made
interesting party music! [That apt was a bit of a "slan shack."]

--
Kevin R

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