Bits of old stories were flitting through my head last night, like birds seen about their business out the window behind one’s desk. A phrase here and there, in my peripheral literary vision.
This morning I set out to re-read a couple of the stories, couldn’t find them, and read, or re-read others instead. I’m reminded once again of an essential quality of truly classic science fiction– it predicts the future in a timeless fashion.
In a yellowing paperback copy of “Nebula Award Stories Number Five”, edited by James Blish, I read Theodore Sturgeon’s first SF story, “The Man Who Learned to Love”. I was utterly shocked by its relevance to today’s world, and heartened by it as well. The path I’m choosing is similar, although I lack the protagonist’s invention. It’s nice to be reminded.
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Looking for some good reading over the holiday break? Try starting with John Bracken’s blog posting on The Most Influential Media Writing of 2007, and continue on to the source material he’s so helpfully linked into the post.
I’d not heard of John’s blog before this post was mentioned on Farber’s IP list, and many of the authors and blogs he cites are unfamiliar to me. This is, in my world, a good thing, as I’m always seeking to expand my repertoire of context. Every social circle is going to have its own “Most Influential” list– what’s yours?
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There has been a list going around lately of the most-unread books in folks’ del.icio.us libraries. I have very few of these books, but have read a number of them. Most of these books are ones I have Not Read because I have zero desire to read them. I'm going to simply omit the ones that I don't care about. Sure, they may be great works of literature. No rules out there saying I gotta read 'em if they're not my cuppa tea.
So instead, I have 'read', 'want to read someday', 'tried and went bleah'. The numbers in parens are preserved from the original listing, and represent the number of libraries in which these were not-read.
- Ulysses (84)
- The Odyssey (83)
- Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance : an inquiry into values (45)
- Watership Down (44)
- The Hobbit (44)
- Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies (79)
- Memoirs of a Geisha (66)
- Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West [I loved this! I need to remember to check the sequels out of the library.]
- Brave new world (61) [How can they NOT have read this?! Oh, man. A *must read* for today.]
- Frankenstein (59) [I know I read this for Fantasy Fiction class in college, but I don't remember it! I just remember finding a paper I wrote on it while cleaning out some old papers!]
- 1984 (57)
- The inferno (56) [Dante's, I presume? Not Stig's? 😉 ]
- Gulliver's travels (53)
- The scarlet letter (48) [In high school; blech; hated it.]
- The catcher in the rye (46) [High school; didn't really 'get it'.]
- Treasure Island
Haven't read these, but may read them 'someday':
- One hundred years of solitude
- Don Quixote (skimmed in high school)
- Canterbury Tales (want to read a translation)
- Dracula (59) [Some folks published this as a BLOG a year or three ago, and it was GREAT, I got very hooked on it but then forgot to keep up with it. It turns out to be a very natural style because of the first-person style of the book and the extensive use of letters to other people. Oh, and it's *actually creepy*, which was cool! Just in time for Halloween, Dracula, by Bram Stoker, as blog]
- Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (48)
- Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything (45)
- The Three Musketeers [There was a really well-done DC Comics adaptation of this back in the 1970's, with really good art. I know, I know. Some stories are just BETTER as manga.]
Books I started, but which convinced me on their own that I didn't want to bother reading them:
- Anna Karenina (132)
- The Silmarillion (104)
- The name of the rose (91) [loved the movie!]
- Moby Dick (86)
- American gods (68) [I had such high hopes for this based on the little Foglio 2-pager, but no, it's just too full of itself and its own smugness. Cut a lot of the excess floweriness out, or have the Foglios do a graphic novel, and I'd surely read it.]
- Atlas shrugged (67)
- Foucault's pendulum (61)
- One flew over the cuckoo's nest (54)
- Oliver Twist (54)
- Cryptonomicon (50)
- The mists of Avalon (47)
- Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed (47) [This one had me for a chapter or two, but as a serious student of world agronomy, indigenous crops, and alternative methods of agriculture, I soon hit too many fallacies to consider the remainder of the book worth reading. GIGO.]
- Gravity's rainbow (44)
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Some sci-fi novel series I'm fond of started with one really popular book, and then were expanded. The author ended up writing novels which were technically prequels to the series, but since they were written as a more mature, seasoned writer, they were actually better books (imho) than the ones that introduced everyone to that universe. I don't think I would have understood or enjoyed the published-first novels as much if I'd read them first.
Instead I stumbled upon a later novel, then looked up the in-universe chronological order of the stories and read the books in that order. The two examples that come immediately to mind are Catherine Asaro's Skolian series and Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series. I think that Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar series worked the same way for me.
Anybody got other series that fit this profile? I love finding new works where there are several books!
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If you haven’t seen me in person in a while, it doesn’t mean I am avoiding you– time is slipping by me in odd ways, and suddenly another week.. or month.. has passed. I’ve also been skulking a bit, and trying not to make plans that I’d end up breaking due to moodiness or family stuff. We had some stuff going on with both of Mike’s parents for a while, where his mom was in and out of the hospital (she is out now for over 2 weeks) and his dad picked up a hospital bug while visiting her, so then he was in and out of outpatient urgent care. All seems to be well now.
I’m enjoying various reading bits:
Norman Crowe, Nature and the Idea of a Man-made World (architecture and evolutions of building designs)
ATTRA publications on organic gardening
Designing California Native Gardens, Keating & Middlebrook
Hands-On PMP (book review for LOPSA)
The Machines’ Child, Kage Baker’s new Company novel– squee! I liked it, but (OF COURSE!) it ends on something of a cliff-hanger and now I’m in suspense again, grr.
re-reading Sharon Shinn’s ‘angel’ novels of Samaria
S.M. Stirling’s Oregon trilogy, ‘Dies the Fire’, ‘The Protector’s War’, ‘A Meeting at Corvallis’; making me want to actually suck it up and learn SCAdian or Marklander fighting; I really like the practical, non-fluffy paganism in the books too
new C.M. Kornbluth ‘Eater of Souls’, really enjoyed it (she did ‘Black Sun Rises’ Coldfire trilogy)
re-reading Catherine Asaro’s Skolian Empire books, need to troll used bookstores for them, they’re on the acquisition list nowAphids are getting my corn, but I may be holding them back enough to form ears, we’ll see. The first of the red kuri squash are ripening, stems going tan and getting woody, which is when they’re almost ready to pick. Beans, beans, more beans— have put up several quarts in the freezer, yellow, green, and purple. The latter will turn green when cooked, but are still fun.
Mike fixed a clogged fuel line on the Bluebird today, and installed a new fuel filter. Last week he got all the batteries charging, after topping them off, and ran the generator. The previous week he took the generator battery out, cleaned it, and charged it here at home. Today he had the engine running long enough to bring it up to the normal 150F operating temp and rolled the bus back and forth a few times in the spot. Birdie is getting ready to ride the roads again– maybe to Burning Man, maybe to Oregon, certainly up to the Montebello Open Space Preserve for 10-meter contesting in the fall. Think biiig hamshack, with its own kitchen, bathroom, heat, air conditioning, roof-mount antennas, and genset. Plus a battery bank that can operate easily for those nice off the grid, off the gennie multipliers.
See you in the future, whenever that actually gets here. Hugs to all n sundry.
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