More of a Nerd’s Litany

OK, let’s see if I can get it to make a link this time:

http://www.npr.org/2011/08/11/139085843/your-picks-top-100-science-fiction-fantasy-books

That’s better!

Ray Bradbury at an SF convention would be like Leonard Cohen at Lollapalooza.  In a genre devoted to gadgets, whose authors often risk being kidnapped by testosterone and wield language with the finess of a ball-peen hammer, Bradbury is gentle, lyrical, nostalgic and sentimental, on occasion cloyingly so.  F451 has several very cute elements, such as the doublespeak redefinition of firemen as the people who torch books and the prediction of the iPod (or Walkman or whatever)–I wonder if it won’t strike younger readers as rather too romanticizing in its fascination with a particular technology (the book), now that that technology is fading from our culture.  But who among us doesn’t have a soft spot for Ray?  My own favorite is the scary Bradbury of October Country, where he has quite an edge.
 

I loved Isaac when I was a kid, but I doubt I could now stomach people who swear “Great Space!” and spout aphorisms like “An atom-blaster is a fine weapon, but it points both ways.”  These books are classics in the way that most Star Trek episodes are, full of cheesy goodness but far from top-notch workpersonship.  Asimov left a bad taste in my mouth by writing various much-later sequels…I forget the titles, but they may have included Foundation and Rouge , Cracked Foundation, and Kaiser Family Foundation

Just to clarify how big a fan I once was, I read Isaac’s entire autobiography in two encyclopedia-sized tomes, which included an accounting of his annual income (until he got rich), the time he bought his first condom, the night he said something rude at a Mensa meeting, and the time a cartoonist made a racist joke at t party.

 

 

9 Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley

Is this worth reading?  Huxley pops up in the weirdest places.  My cousin David was his personal secretary when Huxley was writing his book about his experiments with psychedelic drugs (The Doors of Perception— I don’t know if “My favorite LSD trips” is still considered a good topic for a volume of highbrow non-fiction).  He wrote (or at least is credited with) for the wretched travesty of Pride & Prejudice with Olivier as Darcy.  And in another surreal wartime-Hollywood moment, when Igor Stravinsky was looking for a librettist for The Rake’s Progress, he asked his neighbor Aldous, who said he knew this guy Auden who might be able to whip something up.

Hmmm,  there seems to be a lot to say about this list…

 
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