I Boldly Went


Where everyone was going today: Back to the stores. I have never in my life ventured out on the day after Christmas, but I felt a burning urge to get out of the house today. The weather, while not idyllic, was not bad. It was a bit blustery and chilly, but sunny and dry. Good enough, I’ll take it. So where did I have to go so badly that I dared risk life and limb among the post-holiday shoppers? The bookstore. More specifically, my home away from home, Powells. I was on a quasi-mission, hoping to locate a copy of a Tarot deck that has recently become scarce, due to some sort of copyright war. Anyway, there were none to be had at Powells, but there were certainly more than enough books.

I treated myself to a book that Harlan Ellison has stated is “One of my favorite nightmare novels.” It says so, right on the front cover of The Book of Skulls, by Robert Silverberg. The edition I picked up is the 2006 edition (it was originally published in 1972 and won a Nebula Award), and the cover says “Soon to be a major motion picture” although I can’t find anything about it online. There is no information at the mother of all movie sites, IMDB.com. Probably just as well, Hollywood would doubtless turn it into a splatter-flick, gore-fest. It tells the stories of four friends who discover a book, the titular Book of Skulls that leads them to a secret sect in the Arizona desert who, for a horrific price, will grant immortality to two of them. There’s been some criticism of the book’s classification as sci-fi (it was nominated for a Nebula in 1972, and both the Hugo and Locus awards in 1973), but sci-fi and fantasy/horror have long been lumped into one category. People still debate about the genre Frankenstein belongs to. Is it horror? The first sci-fi?

I also picked up Alastair Reynolds Revelation Space . This one is a hard sci-fi novel, originally published in 2000. Reynolds has a PhD in astronomy, and worked at the European Space Agency which informs his work. The story concerns a scientist who is on the verge of uncovering the reason for the annihilation of an advanced civilization 900,000 years ago. Sounds like someone doesn’t want him to find out what happened to them.

I finally picked up John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War after reading about it now for ages online and how Scalzi used the internet to create a fanbase, which aided him in getting published. The premise is a decades long war in space for the few habitable planets out there. In this universe retirees, senior citizens, are recruited to serve two years in the military, allowing the green troops to benefit from their wisdom and experience. In exchange for two years service in combat, provided you survive, you get your own little homestead on one of these planets.

And last but not least, I also took home Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair, which, while it’s not classified as sci-fi (it was in the Mystery section), I think it could easily fall under sci-fi, as an alternate universe story. From the back cover:

Welcome to Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.

I picked this one because I’ve never read any Jasper Fforde, but he contributed a Pep Talk to NaNoWriMo this year that I really enjoyed and thought I’d like his writing. It sounds almost Pratchett-esque, although I don’t really like comparing authors to each other all the time. Fforde even has introductory notes and material at his Web site.

Now I just have to decide which one to read first…

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38 thoughts on “I Boldly Went

  1. I was tempted to go out on December 26th to shop but wound up staying home. But glad to see you found some great books!

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  2. I’ll tell ya, I was more than a little nervous about going shopping on a day that is notorious for long return lines, and crazed shoppers in search of after-Christmas bargains! It wasn’t too bad, though. There were a lot of people on the roads, but Powells wasn’t too crowded. That was all I had the patience for, went straight home after that 😉

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  3. Considering the 26th is considered a holiday here and thus everything was closed, plus stores are always closed on Sundays…I can just imagine the mad rush to the supermarkets today.

    Enjoy your books! Last week I saw one that made me think of you. I forget the exact title but it was something like, “The Most Complete Vampire Story Anthology Ever”.

    Oh, and DD running out to buy a new tarot deck? Impossible to believe! 😉

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  4. Egads, that’ll be ugly! I have to go out and do un-fun shopping today for household stuff but it shouldn’t be too bad (I hope). I didn’t realize Boxing Day was an official holiday outside Britain (I just Googled it, apparently it’s pretty much everywhere, except the U.S.).

    Haha! I was trying to locate copies of Crowley’s deck for someone on the TarotL list. For myself, I’m waiting on a couple decks that aren’t even finished yet, and keeping daily track of their progress. I will be pouncing on those the instant they are released 🙂

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  5. Hee hee. That is just too funny that you’re on a waiting for to-be made Tarots. What are their themes?

    The store was actually pretty quiet all things considering. I went in the morning, though.

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  6. Do you like the varied tarot decks for their art, their content, or do you actually get a different “vibe” from each of them? I’ve been to Barnes & Noble 2x since Christmas, and it wasn’t half bad – I got my calendars for half price, as well as some cards and wrapping paper for next year.

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  7. Actually, all of the above 🙂 These days I am looking at them as miniature works of art, there are some incredibly beautiful decks out there (and some really poorly done, ugly ones). The styles can be so individual that I will use a deck based on the mood I’m in (as neurotic as that may sound). The artwork and content of the deck is often determined by the esoteric system of the artist or group that developed it, so the content can vary widely. Some have a very coherent, well-thought out system behind them, others are more random and arbitrary.

    I still need a calendar so I may be off to B&N today as well. Last year they weren’t marked down until after the New Year though so I’ll have to see. I forgot to look for one at Powells the other day. I get so distracted by all the books I forget everything else!

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  8. Although Boxing Day is not a legal holiday in the U.S., I’ve noticed that more & more businesses (other than stores – they’re packed on the 26th. I don’t understand why people returning/exchanging things feel compelled to do so RIGHT AWAY like that – if you have the day off from work, can’t you just make do with the junk you already own?) are closed between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s my understanding that in this economy, it’s more cost-effective to give people the time off, than to give them Xmas bonuses or parties. I myself prefer the free time, as long as they don’t actually CUT my pay.

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  9. Depends if the time off is paid or unpaid. I worked for a company that used to shut down a for a couple weeks in December. If you had time on the books to take, great. Otherwise, you could file for unemployment for that time. I can only assume it was some kind of tax write-off for them.

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  10. That’s really taking advantage of the folks who had the time left – basically they were forcing them to take it in December, like it or not, and of course if you filed for unemployment instead, you’d get paid less. My paid time off is at the mercy of the university schedule, but I get a lot of it so I don’t complain.

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  11. Yes, it wasn’t the most noble of companies. The salaried folks didn’t fare so badly, but the hourly workers, especially on the production floor, really got hurt by this. When you know they’re going to pull these stunts, you quit taking vacation the rest of the year just in case you’re going to need it for a shut down.

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  12. I worked for a little old-fashioned company in the garment center that closed shop the week of July 4 and the week of Christmas and that’s when everybody took their paid vacation days at the same time. You got a bank of PTO (Paid Time Off) days in addition, but maybe only 7 and they had to cover sick time, too. I guess in the old days before HR (this was a private co.) it was just easier to do it this way, but if you really wanted to take your vacation after Labor Day or when your kids had spring break, you were stuck.

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  13. Gainful employment? Dang, I was just planning to hit the lottery this year so I could keep reading, writing and riding bikes. Well singular bike actually, since I find it challenging to ride more than one at a time.

    Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2010.

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    1. Thanks, bikinginla, all the best to you too!

      And I intend to keep on working on that lottery. If you’re gonna dream, dream BIG, I always say 🙂 I’ve got this little island in the Aegean all picked out…

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  14. I love the avatar, too – did you know there are plans underway for a Broadway musical based on the Addams Family, starring Nathan Lane as Gomez & BeBe Neuwirth as Morticia?

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    1. Thanks! I have no idea now what prompted me to do it, or why I suddenly thought of Morticia. I did hear about the Nathan/Bebe production, sometime back. They’re both so good, but I do have some reservations about them almost being too old for the roles now. Carolyn Jones and John Astin were both in their mid-30s during the show, whereas Nathan and Bebe are in their 50s now. I just checked IMDB.com, it’s running in Chicago until 01/10, opening on Broadway in April. God, I miss the campy fun of those old shows! 🙂

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  15. Surprisingly, I don’t recall ever watching the Addams Family. I’m sure I must have, but I don’t have any recollection of it. I absolutely loved the Munsters, though.

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  16. They’re creepy and they’re kooky
    Mysterious and spooky
    They’re altogether ooky: the Addams family

    dadadadum “neat”
    dadadadum “sweet”
    dadadadum dadadadumdadadadum “petite”

    So get your witch’s shawl on,
    A broomstick you can crawl on;
    We’re gonna pay a call on THE ADDAMS FAMILY!

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  17. Ah, Didge, you caught my forgotten verse 😀 As I see it, the biggest differences between “Addams Family” and “The Munsters” were that although Lily and Morticia were equally cool, Gomez and Uncle Fester were much cooler that Herman & Grandpa M.
    (Although the late Fred Gwynne was VERY cool in “My Cousin Vinny”)

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    1. Yes he was! “What’s a ‘ute’?” 🙂 And Herman had the car, Dragula, now immortalized in song by Rob Zombie.

      But the Addams Family had Thing, which was the best. And Lurch. Who wouldn’t want a zombie butler?

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  18. My brothers are all partial to the episode in which Eddie M. makes friends with a British Invasion band called the Standells, and they tell him he’s “a real gone gasser.” Talk about memorable language.

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  19. LOL Priceless 😉 I get the ‘real gone’ but I don’t recall the term ‘gasser’, although I suppose I can extrapolate. I don’t remember the episode, but I don’t think I was a regular viewer of The Munsters, either.

    According to Wikipedia, The Standells are from L.A.! And still performing.

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  20. Go figure – I always thought that they had been fabricated, just for the show!

    When something was superlative, or the basis for a really great time, it was referred to as “a gas, ” remember? So I assume that a gasser was somebody who could really make things happen, get the party started.

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    1. Yes, I still say that from time to time 😉

      I was surprised at the Standells, too. I figured like you, that they had been made up for the show. I just Googled the name for the fun of it, didn’t actually think I’d find anything.

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  21. It’s always a pleasure to learn something new: I will admit that the first version of “Dirty Water” I remember hearing was by George Thorogood and the Destroyers, and had always assumed that it was the original.

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