Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rain Men, Gibsonian Constructs, and Books on a Rainy December Night

Warning: This post may contain content considered obscene by some viewers.

Sorry for ditching the blog for the last three weeks. The holidays really keep a person busy as I'm sure most of you know. Hopefully that won't be the case anymore until Christmas, but even then I'll try to post each weekend through the end of the year.

A beautiful rainy Saturday, and I don't say it with sarcasm because I love the rain at this time of the year. For those of you used to white Christmases, I can't say I love the snow at this time of year since we don't get any here in Sacramento (except for Grass Valley maybe or somewhere around there, but I'm not even sure if they get that much snow).  So what do we Sacramentans do during this time of year when people elsewhere are making snow men? Simple. We make rain men. Don't ask me how, we just do it. Okay, so we don't make rain men (or rain women); at least nobody I know does.  Nevertheless, it's more the holiday season to me when it rains like it is now, with the wind howling and hissing and the chimes making mystifying music. Or when there's fog, but that can be pretty damn dangerous because it obscures one's view, so I don't prefer it. 

Speaking of rain men, I'm working my way to the end of China Mieville's super thick novel, Perdido Street Station, which in several scenes there are frog-like beings who make something like tiny rain men/women, in that they make them out of water and, if I remember correctly, I think they can bring them to life like Faust does with his homunculus in a bottle. You're probably wondering how can I forget when I'm reading the book. As I said, the book is damn, thick. It's 500-plus pages. Perhaps it shouldn't be too surprising because it's a steampunk novel in which the subgenre of steampunk has been heavily influenced by Victorian literature such as Charles Dickens' novels. And so, believe it or not, people, I've been on that book for at least the past year if not longer. Not to mention that I'm a relatively slow reader and that's not the only book I'm reading. Some people have been somewhat shocked that I read more than one book at a time. I say to those people, "Come on, now! I'm a writer. We writers have to read more than just one book at a time unless, like some people, we can read at a rapid pace and so read several whole books a week.  I often don't have the patience to read just one long book before beginning another. I need variety.  No matter how good the book is, I will get bored and lose focus if I'm reading a single book for too long.

What else am I reading?  Here's a list:

  • Witchcraft by Charles Alva Hoyt. It's a historical account of the witch craze from Medieval Europe through early American settlement, namely the Salem witch trials.
  • Ecotopia, by Ernest Callenbach. That's a good one, but many people may find it boring as a science fiction novel because, for one reason, most of the science fiction in it is now science fact. For another reason, because it is a news reporter's account of a, what was future, ecological based utopia of the 1990s it reads like a National Geographic article.
  • Witches, an anthology of fiction about witches edited by Isaac Asimov and from his Worlds of Fantasy series of books.
  • The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart, an Arthurian novel about the life of Merlin narrated by the legendary magician himself.
  • The Queen of Darkness, by Miguel Conner, which is set in a postapocalyptic Earth where vampires are at the top of the food chain and human mortals are their livestock.
  • Man and His Symbols, an anthology of long but intriguing articles on the psychology of myth, edited by no other than Carl Jung. It includes his own article that opens the book.
How about yourself? What are you reading at the time? Please feel free to share your comments in the box below. It's nice and snug for both dead and living authors' titles!

Speaking about reading, I just saw the 1975 film adaptation of Harlan Ellison's novella, A Boy and His Dog. I had to view it for a review I was writing which you can read at The review is actually part of an article announcing a screening of the film that occurred here in Sac last Thursday. So even though the announcement portion is outdated, you may find the review portion helpful. The movie isn't bad and has several great scenes in it. Being a die-hard Harlan Ellison fan, I have to confess that I haven't read the book yet but will be sure to.

And while we're on the subject of science fiction in particular, do any of you believe we have reached the fullfillment of William Gibson's "prophecy", if you will, of a cyberpunk society?  Did you hear about the "Human Barbie Doll" that was so hot of an issue last month? There had been a debate about whether she really existed or if she was a digital construct. I discuss this in relation to cyberpunk in my most recent article  at as well. So please feel free to take a look at it.

If you don't have enough books to read at this time, hopefully the two above articles will give you enough to read for now and . . .

Until next time . . .

A neo surreal painting by George Grie.
Credit: George Grie/Wikimedia Commons

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