sillyconguru, BradS, and ras351, thanks for the helpful suggestions.

According to the N8008S instruction book, the LCD and in-finder display are supposed to show the aperture set when an AI lens is mounted. There's even an illustration in the book showing an N8008S's LCD behaving as expected with an AIS lens mounted, i.e., displaying the aperture set. I got the manual first, bought an N8008S because it is supposed to work with manual focus lenses.

As for the camera not indicating anything without film being loaded, the thought occurred to me the first time it arrived. So I sacrificed a roll of outdated film. It behaved incorrectly with film loaded too. So much for that.

This seems to be a known problem. Before I concluded that I really did have a dud camera, I did some searching. In a thread on photo.net, there was the news that the problem is due to a broken trace somewhere inside the camera.

sliverpixels5, this is my first misadventure with KEH. Until now they've delivered my purchases in good order, and timely. I don't know why they're punishing me.

I'm galled by KEH's slow turnaround, poor communications, and failure to check that the camera operated as I reported in the letter I packed with it when I sent it back. And at this point I'm feeling trapped. I bought it in plenty of time to test it before taking it, or not taking it, on vacation. I depart 3/25. I hate using untested gear, and for me testing requires shooting a roll of reversal film. And more. As is, the safe thing to do is not take the next one, even if it comes before we go and seems to work, and try to make do with a camera that couldn't do the necessary -- max flash sync speed too low -- the last time I tried to shoot hummingbirds with flash at South Llano River SP.