What I Did On My Summer Vacation

2 Jun

No post this week about healthcare; one more of those to go, though, before I stand up and have a political soapbox moment about it. I bet you’re looking forward to that.

In the meanwhile, I’m existing for a week in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin while my husband and his family fish, and I do not, because I do not fish. This means considerably less internet access–I can only log on here in the resort’s lodge, which gets old after a bit. Naturally, this has its up side and its down side; the down side being that I am unable to do large swaths of what I normally consider my recreational activities as well as considerable chunks of the studying I desperately need to do for my A+ certifications.

The up side is that, without the internet addiction to feed 24/7, I’m free to delve back into the addiction of my younger days: reading. It is with great joy each year that I wander into the library in search of the delicious fruit that I shall savor on my week of seclusion. Last year, I devoured the entire unabridged Count of Monte Cristo with a day to spare. It was wonderful.

So what am I reading this year, apart from my giant textbook? Well, I’ve traveled from 1800s France to the future, mostly. In the car up, I finally finished Sourcery by Terry Pratchett, a book that I started a year and a half ago and lost under the bed when I was halfway through. I felt it was important to finally bloody well finish it before I started on my new projects, and it gave a nice, pleasant sort of fantasy start to what is not at all a pleasant fantasy menu.

The trip’s reading begins properly with Feed by Mira Grant. This is a book about which falconesse has drooled and moaned a good bit, and I thought it prudent to follow her wise zombie literature advice. Now that I’ve finished it, I can safely confirm that her enthusiasm was well merited. This book, like the shambling zombie who appears in the first few pages, did not grab me properly until it had spent three quarters of its girth lulling me into a false sense of security regarding its predictability. Once it had me by the sweater, though, it did not let go, and I was unable to get free, until, sobbing and mindless, I finished the last page. That includes the teaser first chapter of the second book, which the bookstore in town blessedly had in stock since it came out THIS WEEK, and I am currently about four chapters in. EEEE.

After that, I moved on to The Stars My Destination by Alfred Besker. This one is a book (say it with me) that I heard about on NPR. It was originally published in 1956, but remains relevant to this day as an inspiration to active sci-fi writers. In a nice throwback to last year, it steals much of the frame of the plot of Count of Monte Cristo, but with vast gulfs of difference. It took me a long time to get into this book, perhaps partly because I did read the Count last year. I adored Edmond Dantes for his sharp wit, his bright mind, his subtlety and guile. Gully Foyle, the protagonist of Stars, has none of these. What Dantes gets through charm and trickery, Foyle gets through brute force. I hated him and wondered at the praise for the book until the second to the last chapter. Those last pages made the whole thing worthwhile, and I understand now why Neil Gaiman wrote so adoringly of it in the introduction. Read it, for the love of all things scifi, read it.

Finally, I’ve got a book of short stories, primarily by H.P. Lovecraft. I was inspired to this length when, after years of encountering reference after reference to the old god mythos, I finally consumed a story that actually made it disturbing and frightening: Ruby Quest. (If you’ve never enjoyed that story, I recommend it: you can find a flash version of it that someone put together here if you play with the allowed ratings–it’s gory at parts.) Anyway, I decided it was darn well time that I figured out what the heck was up with Lovecraft proper, so I’m going to flip through those stories and see if I can sleep at night afterward.

And if I still have time after that? Well, I never did actually read the chapter on printers, so it’s probably time I did so.


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