Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Rocky Road to Westercon 66: Sci Fi is Not for Sissies, Part 2

“People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.”  Isaac Asimov

It strikes me as serendipity that 1963, the same year my blog partner’s current music series references, is also the year I discovered science fiction/fantasy magazines.  Close to my house was the Stop ‘n’ Shop market, attached to The Chatterbox Café (where my mother and her friends often held court), next door to a “five and dime” that had a baseball card dispensing machine out front (a machine that also introduced me to Mars Attacks! cards).  The store had a magazine selection, and for some reason I took notice of an issue of Fantastic Stories of the Imagination.  I was a comic book fan already (just a year or so before this I discovered Marvel when this same market, which didn’t carry comics, for some reason had a shopping cart FULL of recent issues, like Fantastic Four #5, various Spidermans, Avengers, etc.) and DC’s sci-fi anthology comic Strange Adventures was one of my favorites, so I knew I liked the genre, but I hadn’t up to that point read any short stories or novels.

At any rate, whatever issue I bought, I loved.  This immediately kick-started a search for other magazines and books.  I discovered Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Fritz Leiber, Amazing Stories, HP Lovecraft, and Ray Bradbury.  (Little did I know that I would spend much joyful time talking to Bradbury at a science-fiction con or two.)   I already was a reader and fan of some “horror”; my father had begun reading me Edgar Allan Poe when I was six or seven; I still vividly remember his renditions of “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Cask of Amontillado”.  Whether or not this was appropriate material for my age is irrelevant; I loved it!  So several years later, when I heard about conventions, it was only natural that I would want to attend. 

Dr. Akrabu’s “command” that I read all 2013 Hugo nominees seems like an impossible task, but yesterday I bought four of them: Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 and Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon for very reasonable rates at a local used book store, and John Scalzi’s Redshirts at Barnes and Noble, where I am a “member”, and so got a little discount.  I also found Mira Grant’s zombie series, but I have to confess something: realizing that Blackout (which also happens to be the name of another recent sci-fi novel by Connie Willis that I have actually read and enjoyed) is the third in a series, I opted instead to buy the first one, Feed, which was also nominated for a Hugo in 2011.  I am hoping that the Doctor will understand my reasoning, but in any case, this is what I will be reading.  So the only one I have yet to secure is Lois Bujold’s Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. 

I have no idea how I am going to do this.  I think I will have to actually read many if not all of them simultaneously.  Is it even possible to read five novels at the same time and retain anything about them?  I started Throne of the Crescent Moon last night.  A blurb on the cover said fans of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser would enjoy this book.  Well, back in 1963 I became a huge Gray Mouser fan.  But would Fuller V.2013 still like this kind of thing?  Can the Fuller who adores Wallace’s Infinite Jest find satisfaction in this year’s Hugo nominee crop?

To Be Continued   

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