I’ve mentioned before that I’m usually reading multiple books at any given time. (Not simultaneously of course. Let’s not be ridiculous.) I have a workout book, a lunch book, a book on the toilet tank, a book in my library, and one book on CD in each vehicle. Here is a rundown of the current books in progress.
You may have known it, but it came as a surprise to me: Don Pendleton wrote science fiction. Mind blown, right?
Wait, maybe I should back up a step. I’m proceeding under the assumption that you are all familiar with Don Pendleton. That could be a mistake, what with the assuming and all. Don Pendleton is known for writing the long-running men’s adventure series The Executioner. You may remember seeing these paperbacks in the checkout aisles at grocery stores back in the eighties, the covers featuring a dark haired man with a gun (that would Mack Bolan himself, the eponymous executioner), a hot chick in the mid-ground, and maybe some armed baddies in the background. The books were probably shelved next to others with such titles as Stony Man, or Phoenix Force.
I think I’ve read a couple of the Mack Bolan books. I vaguely remember reading one in a library in Hawaii. And I think I read at least one of the related titles. I seem to recall reading one back in high school, about the same time my friend up the street was running me through solo Top Secret adventures (though that may be trick of the memory creating false cross-references.)
So anyway. That Don Pendleton. He also wrote science fiction. I just finished The Guns of Terra 10, a 1970 paperback that almost reached 190 pages in length. How was it? Really, not as bad as you might think. Pendleton was actually playing with some interesting themes. Or perhaps he’d just finished reading A Brave New World while sitting through re-runs of Star Trek. But to give him credit, he did seem involved in the idea of human genetic engineering and its potential long term consequences. He also worked out his own baloney FTL concept instead of relying entirely upon handwavium engines. I particularly enjoyed his idea of twin guns, one firing matter, the other anti-matter, with the two meeting at the aiming point. Pretty cool.
I won’t go so far as to recommend it. But if you have the hankering for the sort of fiction in which fist-fights lead to friendship and understanding, or are in the mood for loving, extended descriptions of breasts, or want to enjoy a crew of uneducated, agricultural yokels essentially dropping into the bridge of the USS Enterprise and working the controls with no appreciable concern for the learning curve — then, hey, this might be the book you’re looking for.
“What are you reading, Ken?” I assume you are asking for purposes of today’s post.
I’m glad you asked. As usual, I have several books going at any one time. This week I finished “The Hunted” by Elmore Leonard. Typically outstanding work. It is also an example of how cell phones have changed everything. The same story could not be written as a contemporary piece. Still, excellent 70’s-vintage Leonard.
Perihelion Science-Fiction magazine published a bit of flash fiction I was commissioned to write for an article on The End of the World. (Read that last phrase in a pretentious film trailer voice, with a dramatic pause between the second and third word.) It’s a brief read, a literary hors d’oeuvres. Here it is, if you want a snack.
I know I’ve already mentioned that I have a short story in Mama Tried. It is a straight up crime piece, no rocket ships or wizards. I’m rather proud of it, though I suppose I’d prefer the title had been spelled correctly. It’s Copperhead Road, not Cooperhead Road. Well, no use crying over spilled beer. A single, anguished tear ought to do. The reason I bring it up is that I received my author copy. So I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the stories. And seeing if their titles are spelled properly.
I’m over two-thirds of the way through Bernard Cornwell’s latest, The Flame Bearer. I’ll probably finish it today. Even strapped for time to read, I still power through Cornwell’s stuff like a chainsaw through pudding. He writes utterly compelling drama. It is familiar territory. I have the Cornwell beats down by heart, and I know how it is going to end. But it doesn’t matter, I’m still swept along by this relentless tide of action.
So, enough of this web log post. I’ve got a book to finish.
And that wraps up another Orycon. Technically, as I write these words, the con is still ongoing in the sleepy manner of a con winding down on a Sunday. But it is over for me. I finished my last panel and drove home to help host the joint birthday party for My Beautiful Wife and the Heir Apparent. (Happy birthday, girls!) Before the guests arrive I’m going to write down some impressions of the convention.
At what point during parenthood do you begin getting a full night’s sleep again. I’m nearly at the three-year mark and I’m still not there. I’m tired. I mention this because I was considering today’s post with my head on my wife’s shoulder. She asked if was sleeping, or thinking, or dreaming. I asked if I could do all three. Because, as I just alluded to, I’m tired. But that exchange brought to mind a paper I’d written during college, back in the antediluvian days of the late 1980s-early 1990s for a class on “The Lord of the Rings.” Yes, I received university credit for re-reading the trilogy. I’m not ashamed. The point is, I wrote about dreams, and the perilous realm, and seeing beyond the veil within the context of LOTR. So, I figure it is appropriate for a post on this here web log of mine.
Move to the new house complete, I now enjoy a thirty-five plus minute drive to work, usually more on the way home. This leaves me with some time to pass while in traffic. I’m sure there are many options. But I did not hesitate. Once the move was scheduled, I hit the library for books on compact disc.
This commute gives me at least an hour a day of reading time. Or, at least, being read to time. Others in traffic around me are frustrated, impatient, even angry. Me, I don’t even mind failing to make the yellow light. It’s an extra minute of story.
Let me tell you tales of labor of high adventure. Or, maybe not. I mean, you’ve got your Labors of Hercules. But let’s face it, those weren’t so much lunch pail jobs as they were quests. And Hercules was hardly a blue collar fellow.
There is Sam. Samwise Gamgee, that is. He provides, probably, the quintessential exemplar of the working class hero. A gardener on a heroic quest. A participant at least. The only of the Fellowship with a job. The rest of the Fellowship consisted of aristocrats or demigods. Good work, if you can get it.
Garrett, P.I. is self-employed. In fact, he’s employed as little as possible, preferring to loaf rather than labor. And now that he’s got people on his payroll, he is management, not labor. The boss.
Neither Conan, Fafhrd, or the Gray Mouser ever worked a steady job if they could help it. Why would we want them to? Those of us bringing home a paycheck who also read heroic fiction do so to forget about the job for awhile. We don’t want to read about Conan’s day at the office, or the Gray Mouser’s panel van breaking down along his route. We want to read about them breaking heads in a tavern brawl.
Look, there is nobility in work, in doing your job well and taking care of your family financially. But it isn’t the stuff of legend. I understand there is a market for business novels in Japan. Good for them, but I can’t say it sparks my interest. No, when I get home from work I’d rather open a book to swashbuckling adventure, not to salary negotiation and the copier malfunctioning again.
So happy Labor Day, all. Have a cold one, toss a dog on the grill, and read a tale of high adventure.
In the grand scheme of the things, the sweeping panorama of mankind’s struggles, it isn’t much of a problem. “Minuscule” gives it too much credit. But this is my web log and I’ll complain if I want to.
Seems to happen to me every time. I reserve a couple of books at the library, even putting the hold on different days or even weeks. But inevitably both books arrive for pick up AT THE SAME TIME. Grrr. Usually new releases as well, meaning I’m allowed less time to read them. C’mon library. I’m not single anymore. I’ve got a wife and kid. I can’t just come home from work, plop down on the couch and read until 2AM. (If I did, I imagine I’d find myself single again pretty damn quick.)