Posts Tagged ‘ books ’

Re-Re-RE-Reads

2009.05.27
By

SOME BOOKS ARE FINISHED IN a day; others, only when we are.

If books are portable doorways, then stepping into a beloved-since-childhood instant Now every few years can sometimes tell us where we’ve been in the meanwhile. As one of my perennial obsessions is the slippery intersection of awareness and time — e.g., free will[1] as side effect of fore-ignorance[2] — many of my own favored rereads tend to be “quest” stories: people who go in search of something and discover something unimaginably else. Here are five or six:

» Lord of the Rings (trilogy), J. R. R. Tolkien
If you’ve seen the movie, you think you know the story. But if you haven’t read the books, you really really don’t. Tolkien’s words have a different flavor in the mouth than on the page; I recommend reading these aloud, one night at a time, to someone you enjoy. (Takes about a year.) If you can do voice impressions, so much the better.

» The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
Space-stranded Gully Foyle was waiting to die until a passing ship ignored his pleas for rescue. His vengeance takes him from the interplanetary gutter to the height of decadent society, but his education elevates him to the next phase of human potential.

» Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-glass, Lewis Carroll
A chief delight of my 40 years’ acquaintance with Carroll’s endless puzzle has been watching it slowly transform from fairy tale to divine satire. How does he do that?

» Schrodinger’s Cat (trilogy), Robert Anton Wilson
Extrauniversal intrigue among at least three universes next door to this one, all wrapped in a literary Moebius strip. Wilson once offered a quick intelligence test: If the universe is getting bigger and funnier, you’re getting smarter. RAW’s books are for anyone who wants to become smarter — and really, shouldn’t that be everyone?

[1] For the record, I am not smart enough to reckon the “difference” between “free will” and “predestination.” However, I’m fairly sure that it’s my hand — and not God‘s — who’s picking out my socks and entertainment, at least most of the time.

[2] Similar to, but more certain than, “foreknowledge.”

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

Bookshelf: Larry Niven

2009.05.07
By

ONE NICE THING ABOUT BEING laid up is the chance to reacquaint myself with some old childhood friends; e.g., Larry Niven and his Known Space series.

For those who don’t know, Known Space is a 60-light-year-diameter bubble and a thousand to a billion-plus years of human history. It’s also a pile of novels and short stories written in a breezy 1970s-Southern-California style depicting a leisure-filled vision of cheap space travel, engaging aliens and lifespans in the centuries.

I started reading Larry Niven when I was eight years old. Then, I didn’t understand much beyond the cool spaceships and moving sidewalks. Now, I can appreciate his familiar descriptives (“The beach was a perfect beer-party beach.” “Ever notice how all spaceships are starting to look the same?”), ledes (“It was noon of a hot blue day.” “Then, the planet had no name”) and occasional asides to the reader (“Harry Kane used a word your publisher will probably cut”). I also like how fannish his stories are, filled with references to everything from filk to fanspeak.

But these days I find I’m enjoying his immortals. Cheap longevity, in Niven’s universe, makes philosophers of us all (except for those it makes bored and master-criminally ambitious), and the dialog between those of double- and triple-digit age captures the instant impetuousness of the former and thoughtful wisdom of the latter. At 47, I’m beginning to understand why it takes so long to acquire wisdom (or something that looks like it) — it can take years of repeated exposure to varied but thematic circumstance before a human being begins not to take the Universe personally. Even then, it’s a crapshoot whether or not he’ll learn what else it can teach; until then, it’s difficult to learn anything at all.

But Niven shows us that learning is easy — as well as fun, and occasionally profitable. Here’s to Known Space and the brave souls which it inspires!

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

An Apology to Douglas Rushkoff

2009.03.31
By

In my previous, I made a cutting remark about Douglas Ruskoff’s “Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism.” While my opinion remains that the book is deeply flawed, as noted by, among others, Zeek.net), I didn’t intend to be dismissive. For one thing, Rushkoff obviously cares enough about Judaism to want to help keep it relevant; for another thing, his book is aimed at people who don’t know that the tradition wants to be questioned. If “Nothing Sacred” encourages even one Jew to say, “Maybe there’s something to this after all” and start studying on his or her own, how is that a Bad Thing?

  • email
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Tumblr
  • PDF

Recent Tales

Prosatio Silban and the Starving Survivor

A BUOPOTH IS A STRANGE beast: some say it is half-composed of men’s dreams, others prefer not to speculate. But of the little that...

Read more »

Prosatio Silban and the Visitor From The Sands

PROSATIO SILBAN WAS NOT KNOWN for nothing as “The Cook For Any Price.” He had long ago foresworn the Sacreanthood and serving people’s souls...

Read more »

The Poet

HE COULDN’T TELL WHETHER HE loved beauty or women more until the day he called his mom and said “Guess what? I’m marrying a...

Read more »

Storyteller’s Knot

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF any story is the point at which it’s attached to the reader.

Read more »

Thumbs Up

THE PACK ON YOUR BACK is both reassuring and cumbersome for what seems the third hour of shadeless noon as you think, “This one...

Read more »

Recently

July 2017
S M T W T F S
« Jun    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  

Rewind

Wine Country Weather


Click for Forecast

Ritual Hat Pass

G'bless'ye, sir or madam.

You Can't Stop The Signal:
Celebrating the remaining days:hours:etc until Apophis II. Live it up, Earthlings.

Favicon Plugin created by Jake Ruston's Wordpress Plugins - Powered by Briefcases and r4 ds card.