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For All Nails #211: Fantascience Friction


>From the _Statist_, 18 June 1976

"Not With Our Queen, You Don't"

A ruling by the Arts Importation Board of the Cape
Kingdom means that Lucas Jorge's controversial new
Mexican fantascience film _Attack of the Koans_ will 
not be seen in the African nation where much of it 
is set.

"Mr. Jorge had every right to produce this travesty,
but we as a sovereign nation have equal right to decide
which foreign cultural imports we admit," said board
chairman Geert Masekela.  "The portrayal of our Queen
as a character borders on libelous, and the romance
involving a minor child is beyond the bounds of decency."

_Koans_ continues the action of Jorge's _The Hidden
Menace_, where two Mexican agents save Queen Alexandra 
and her Kingdom from conquest by Kramer Associates,
improbably aided by a charger-piloting twelve-year-old [1].

In the sequel, Kramer's tactics have changed from naval
assault to stealth, through a legion of "koan warriors".
These black-pajama-clad assassins spout meaningless
riddles in oddly-accented English before engaging in
well-choreographed though unrealistic combat with both
expendable Cape Kingdom guards and our heros [2].  The boy,
now sixteen, has Queen Alexandra's security double as his
primary romantic interest.  But mistaken identity leads
to a brief relationship with the "real" Queen, which the
film strongly implies is consummated.

Spokesmen for the Queen plausibly claim that she was not
directly involved in the decision to bar the film.  Looming 
unspoken, of course, is the unmarried status of the 39-year-old
elected monarch and the ongoing public and nonpublic debate 
over the exact nature of her close working relationship 
with Prime Minister Nkate of neighboring Botswana.

The Bali explosion is never alluded to in the film.  In his
more successful initial trilogy (1964-69), Jorge invented an
elaborate history in which Kramer conquers the world under a
masked, robed President who is actually the grown-up version
of the boy hero of _Koans_.  "I considered writing Bali into
this saga," Jorge says, "but it's a fantasy, dammit.  We'll
always have menaces like Kramer, whatever form they take.  But
in real life we can't rely on superpowered secret agent men to
stop them.  We have to rely on the United States Marine Corps 
and our willingness to do whatever is necessary."

Most critical opinion has judged _Koans_ to be an even bigger
disappointment than _The Hidden Menace_, but the innovative
special effects technology in the new work has raised eyebrows.
The climactic battle among dozens of chargers and autogyros
is remarkably lifelike although it was filmed using miniature
models.  These models and the various cameras were moved precisely 
under the guidance of a single Pomona-Leebild "PL-2" calculator.  
"We're really hoping to break into the film and vita industry in 
a big way," says Bobby Contreras, CEO of California-based Pomona 
Calculators.  "Any time you have many machines working together 
there's the chance of a big win with synchronized control.  The 
PL-2 is designed to link to as many as 32 external devices at one
time."  A big business opportunity, yes, but has Contreras seen
the new film?  "They gave us a special showing of the air battle, 
but I haven't sat down for the whole show yet.  Maybe when it 
gets to vita."  Special effects, it seems, can't always generate 
cinematic excitement without strong writing and acting.

Notes:

[1] See FAN #91c for more on this film.  Thanks to Matt for 
    suggesting the title of the sequel.  See FAN #101 and #144 
    for background on Queen Alexandra and her Cape Kingdom.

[2] I considered the title "The Sound of One Hand Crapping" for
    this vignette but rejected it on the grounds of taste.