What I’m Reading and Why, v3

Writers have to read.  It’s not a chore.   Chef’s taste food; athletes watch footage of other athletes; cars get waxed.

The Story of Ireland: A History of the Irish People

by Neil Hegarty

A project I’m working on requires that I become a connoisseur of Irish history and society.  As someone who has always loved the lore and mystical nature of the average stories of Ireland that are tossed around somewhat casually, I am beginning to be in true awe of how for granted the world (and especially the United States) seems to have taken this island of people.

I had always had this idea that Celtic culture and religion had begun there.  In reality the island served as the perfect geographical location to collect all of the good aspects of historic European culture and (mostly) repel all of the negative aspects.  Who can resist the story of how cattle barons got rich and thus became Irish nobility off the backs of traders supplying the Roman army with their tons of leather?  Suffice to say that Vikings and Normans, while certainly ancient invaders, also became settlers and, along with the trend, melding with Irish-ness and further shaping the culture.  Talk about a melting pot!

I’m further enjoying the overlap this book has to the BBC produced, 5 segment special on Irish history hosted by the author.  I can read more of the book and then watch the segment covering those bits on YouTube and viola! it stays in there.

I’m careful about relying on one source for my information.  While this book and the corresponding documentary collection are very comprehensive and informative, I will also seek other sources for my information.  Bottom line here is – if you are Irish American, or even if you are not, there is much to be loved about an island nation that formed from our best qualities as humans and actually SAVED civilization as we know it through it’s academia and careful recording of history while the rest of Europe was burning heretics and killing knowledge.

 

Foundation

by Isaac Asimov

I’m a science fiction fan.  Bradbury and Asimov are not foreign to me.  So how did I miss this?  I came across an estate sale recently where the deceased was obviously more of a sci-fi fan than I.  There were complete series of Orson Scott Card, and alas, all the series of Asimov.  The Robots were all there.  I bought them all.  Even the set of Fantastic Voyage books made an appearance.  I bought them too.  Now, I was aware of the Foundation trilogy, but for whatever reason, had never cracked it open.  What I didn’t realize was that he was enticed to write three additional books in the series later in his life.  So I got to work trying to figure out what order the books were in to make sure I didn’t miss getting one of the pieces.  This is where the trouble started.

foundation bookThere were actually one book to each story present but for the price of 50 cents per paperback, I could get the one book that housed the initial trilogy all-in-one for just that.  Duh.  Except … the cover of this one (unlike the cover graphic I have snagged for this article) listed the trilogy contrary to the order I understood from the other books.  It listed them as:  Foundation, Second Foundation, and Foundation and Empire.  As you can see from the graphic to the right, the actual order is different.  Without internet to research my treasure trove, I scratched my head and made my purchase.

I couldn’t wait and started reading Foundation as soon as I got in the truck.  Thanks my lovely driver!  It wasn’t until I got home and researched that I discovered that he wrote the three follow up books out of order and was floored, once again, by his skill and capacity.  I gave the idea of reading them in actual chronological order a very brief consideration, but decided to stick to the order they were written.

Aside from the sheer enjoyment, I’m reading Foundation because I want to study one of the great masters of world building, to learn how he imagined and threaded together contrived history married with cutting edge science truthes into the magic of science fiction where, indeed, the reader becomes so enmeshed that they could easily live there themselves.

 

 

Advertisements

The AntiWorld

inturruptingcow2013

We got it wrong.  Years we said its possible that an entire other world exists, an antimatter world, maybe even on a parallel course in the universe in the time/space continuum.  We spouted that and more like we’d been there.  But we hadn’t been there.  Like so many spiritual believers we waved our scientific journals, thumped our Einsteins and Hawkings and preached the Schrodinger’s cat box.  Then in the quite of our cubicles, we entertained doubt, wondered what if it would ever be revealed to our senses and not just our hearts and minds.

It does exist, or rather they do.  How could we have been so far off the mark?  A new-age “Brigadoon,” they appeared visible, one day through the “mist.”  I touched.  I watched and listened.  And when it came time to make my decision, stay and be lost to all I’ve known forever, or return and remember until the experience becomes a lost story of myth so many generations from now … I came back through.  And, of course, I chose wrong.  But that fits the facts.  We are doomed to a choice, and damned to choose wrongly based on our banal nature and misplaced hubris.

 

Other Worldly

At 40 years, Adelaide Raines allowed herself to take a personal inventory.  She knew she wasn’t well educated or even that well rounded by any means.  She knew her limitations.  She read what interested her and had little patience for all else, regardless of the subject matter’s import to current events, or its impact on the survival of humanity.

Every evening she would drown any possibility of self-analysis during her 30 drive from work with the tap of her iPod.  She’d make progress in the most recent audiobook she borrowed from the library and add it to her “read” list along with those she read the old fashioned way (on her Kindle) on the weekends.  She dedicated her time away from work (the lifelong mission that stole nine or ten hours of her life away, five or six days a week) to either escaping those elements of her life that she subconsciously abhorred through Netflix therapy, or some monotonous computer game that appealed to her mild touch of OCD.  In this way she could avoid thinking about the parts known as the end, the beginning, or anything in between in her life.

This left her roughly an hour to read something daily that would lend itself to one of the two facets of her personal image of herself.  If prolonging the inevitable through escapism, she would indulge in some fictional tome of mystery, science fiction, or other imaginative literary work.  If developing her knowledge of the world that existed when she chose to breath outside her house, she dove into a history, science, or other non-fiction work.  The key was that it had to be interesting.  Ultimately, reading was always an escape.  So fiction or not, it had to take her somewhere else.

Thus, she knew just enough to impress the average and sometimes even those more knowledgeable than her in those occasional conversations encountered when personalities meet, crash, or slide around each other in the bubble of to-and-fro called “day-to-day.”  This was all she needed to survive amongst others more emotionally stable and confident that herself.  It was what she referred to privately as “fool fuel.”  She could fake it to make it among the humans.  And she did.