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Evolution isn't working fast enough. More dumbasses need to be shot.

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Diane Duane

Gateway drugs

The Star Trek novels were my gateway drug. A lot of the SF/F authors I read early on I was introduced to by way of Star Trek, in particular the Pocket books that came out beginning with  Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Not that I got around to reading the novelization of the movie for a couple of years. When the movie came out I was only in 2nd grade. And even though one of my earliest reading experiences was reading the Star Wars novelization out loud to my parents/grandparents (I started with the dogfight around the Death Star because that was the most exciting part of the movie for me) most of my reading at that time was much more limited. I couldn’t really be running over to an adult to tell me what a word was every 5 minutes. I’d get frustrated and they’d get annoyed.

But, by the time Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan came out in 1982 I was almost ready for that level of difficulty. I was still hitting The Hardy Boys pretty hard back then, a paperback copy of Night of the Werewolf being one of my prized souvenirs from a family vacation to Winnipeg. But, after the movie I started reading the Star Trek Log books by Alan Dean Foster. I think I read the first four volumes before I realized there was a cartoon series they were based on. That fall, for my birthday, my parents got me a copy of The Abode of Life. By then I was hooked. I sought out a bunch of the other books in the series, and from previous series. Spock Must Die! by James Blish captivated me. But, it wasn’t until I got to My Enemy, My Ally by Diane Duane and Ishmael by Barbara Hambly that I started thinking ‘you know, these people can really write’. While the Foster books were entertaining for a kid, they didn’t strike me as great stories that really spoke to me like Blish had.

I searched our library, which really had a pretty decent fiction section, for other stories by some of these authors, but other than Alan Dean Foster they didn’t really have much. By the time I was in junior high and could ride my bike all the way out to the mall (shush, don’ t tell my parents), about 4 miles each way with the river valley between, and get to the book store. That was when I was able to get my hands on more of these authors (and a lot more Star Trek novels as well). They had all three novels in Barbara Hambly’s The Darwath Trilogy (wizard sitting there with a beer in his hand blew my mind). And I kept my eyes out for other stuff of hers. The Witches of Wenshar was good, but she blew me away with Those Who Hunt the Night. I count the James Asher series as my favorite vampire novels. Bride of the Rat God is excellent as well. Really, I’ve yet to read one of Hambly’s novels that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. Continue reading “Gateway drugs”

A FAN in my own way

File 770 says you aren’t a real fan unless you color in the appropriate boxes on the test. As I’ve said before, more people need to be told to FUCK OFF.

I grew up on Science Fiction and Fantasy. I was just a wee tyke when Luke and Han rescued Leia. One of my earliest memories of learning to read was reading the novel of Star Wars out loud to my parents and grandparents, demonstrating I COULD read and being darn proud of it.

I read Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I read Terry Brooks and created my own maps and even made clay relief maps out of flour, salt and water.

I watched re-runs of Star Trek on Saturday afternoons with my parents, then read the Star Trek Log novels before I realized there was an animated show of it. I read the Pocket Books tie-in novels and was introduced to Diane Duane, John M. Ford, A.C. Crispin, Vonda McIntyre, Barbara Hambly and many others who I then sought out their non-Star Trek novels.

As I got older I discovered Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke on my parents shelves and devoured those as well. Then came Michael Crichton and Greg Bear and Ben Bova. I found Heinlein in High School along with Bruce Sterling and William Gibson.

I played D&D on the computer. That dang island in Pool of Radiance took me forever to figure out.

Then I got to college and was introduced to Orson Scott Card and Tad Williams. Could those two be any farther apart in politics? Yet, they both craft immensely interesting and engaging stories.

And all the while growing up I never once considered the political leanings of my favorite authors. Their private lives are completely irrelevant to their ability to entertain me. It’s only in the last few years since I’ve been on Facebook that I’ve discovered their political and social leanings, their sexual orientations, their diet and views on animals, etc.

In all, I still really don’t care about that stuff as long as they can tell a good story. But, that does seem to be lacking, at least in my view, over the last several years. It used to be that seeing the Hugo or Nebula badge on the cover was an indication of a good story. Now, those stories that are winning aren’t really my cup of tea. In fact, outside of Baen Publishing authors, I’ve only purchased one SF novel written in the 21st century. And that was Andy Weir’s The Martian, which was originally indie published. I’ve picked up some free offerings of various indie SF/F authors, but haven’t gotten around to actually reading them yet. Most of what I read is 1999 or before. And looking at the Amazon rankings for SF/F books, it looks like quite a few other people are in the same boat.

So yes, I am a fan. And I do want to see the two most prestigious awards in SF/F become relevant again.

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