Friday, October 28, 2011

Books I Have Enjoyed
A Walk Down Memory Lane

Finding a few spare moments yesterday I decided to pour through some boxes of books down in the basement. It is always enjoyable to visit old friends. These were some of them.

Art by Gino D'Achille
 ERB's Mars and Venus books are especially enjoyable reads for boys (and girls too, my ex-wife was very fond of them) who would just love to get away from our humdrum world; but grown up kids love them too. I didn't care for the Tarzan books as much but I must admit I didn't read so many of them.  Disney is making a new John Carter movie. I can't wait. A John Carter movie (Princess of Mars starring Antonio Sabato Jr. and Tracy Lords, available on Netflix streaming now) was released a couple of years ago and it was execrable, but I liked it anyway.

Art by Frank Frazetta
 Conan the Barbarian was my favorite fictional character for years. He was the wish fulfillment of the skinny introverted kid that I was. The Conan original movie was OK with a few brilliant moments, but Arnold was the barbarian's perfect embodiment. I haven't seen the new movie yet. Conan The Conqueror is the only novel length Conan story written by Howard. I recommend all of Howard's work but the Conan stories are the best. Amazon has a fine Kindle Collection, The Robert E. Howard Omnibus: 99 Collected Stories for $1.99, and well worth the price.

Was Carlos Castaneda writing ethnology or fiction or an admixture of both? It doesn't matter. They are wonderful books full of truth.

Art by John Schoenherr
Frank Herbert was a spook. Therefore there is much to be learned from his work. Dune is a classic. If you just saw the movie you may think the book is a mess. It is not. The film is a beautiful pastiche of scenes from the book. Read the book and the movie will become comprehensible. The two television miniseries are very good.

 Anderson's book is what a critic might call a fun romp. Arthurian knights take over an alien space ship and wreak havoc in the galaxy. I read this book fifty years ago at least. I should re-read because I hardly remember it except for the fact that it was a gas.

Art by Ed Emshwiller
Dick Dick Dick. You can't get enough. My first was The Man In The High Castle in '62 when I was 12. I collected PKD until he expired and stopped writing. It's all good. Talk about subversion of reality.

This is probably Silverberg's best. Another evocative book worthy of a re-read.

 I loved Ray Bradbury when I was very young. His short stories could be very poetic in an obvious way. I never was much of a fan of Fahrenheit 451. Orwell did dystopia much better. Mr. Bradbury has become conservative in his old age and I wonder why. But the answer is probably the same old story: success and prosperity.

Art by Richard Powers
Judith Merril's annual collections were mandatory reading for me. This is the second annual. She was criticized for stretching the definition of what was science fiction and sometimes I thought better stories could have been selected than some of the out of genre pieces by non science fiction writers that she published. But that is a quibble. 
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