Joy (cithra) wrote,

all my yesterdays

Had a pleasantly mellow morning with sharkins where we chatted and I put books on bookshelves. Last week, taking a grocery sack of books to donate to the CFC book/bake sale entailed the contents of two more boxes of books exploding their way into my already book-cluttered living space (Ridpath's and the Lands & Peoples books still at that point not having yet made their way onto shelves) - plus I was about half way through the requisite shifting-of-piles for my mom's proposed Friday evening tenure on my couch. [Half-way, because she ended up staying at faintheart's place instead of mine.]

So that was very nice of her, really - I find it much easier to do work like that with someone around. I think it's because it is a type of task that doesn't really engage my brain, but isn't completely mindless - it's just right for gossiping over, around and through. Kind of like a sewing bee, or a knitting circle, maybe. If I'm by myself, I end up getting bored and wandering off, or rereading one of the books I'm supposed to be shelving.

We walked up to Mad Pizza and got some lunch at some point - blissfully ignoring the clock, I had no idea what time it was until after we got back to my place. Then she left to drive back to her mountain fastness, and I sat down to read Slan by A.E. Van Vogt, because I hadn't. I picked it up used a while back because it was one of the classics I'd missed somehow, it had turned up while I was sorting/shelving, and Sharkins had raved about reading it growing up, so I figured it was time.

I knew Slan was seminally influential in some fannish communities. I enjoyed it, but I found myself wishing I'd read it earlier after all. I run into this with a fair bit of Golden Age SF; I find myself thinking I probably would have enjoyed it more had I read it when my notions and ideals were a little more golden-age-y. Plus it's got that whole "loner triumphing against the universe" business in spades - which really resonated with me as an adolescent (as it does with most adolescents at one point or another, I'm sure). Less so now, I think, because while in Slan the hero triumphs, and finds what he's looking for and more, I'm jaded enough to be skeptical that a similar, resolve-it-all-in-one-page success story lurks in my future. I'm aware more now that success tends to come piecemeal and in smaller doses, and half the time is wearing a different hat than what you were expecting.

Plus, after living in today's political climate, I find it impossible to believe that the supreme dictator appears to be and remains entirely benevolent throughout the story... but that's a personal problem. I often wonder if a similar story were submitted today, would today's editors return it as hopelessly naive in characterization? It's interesting to me that while much literature has characters of reduced dimension (and deliberately so), the nature of those dimensions has undergone some changes. It would be interesting to look at changes in stock characters over the years, and how those characters reflect shifts and changes in society, perception, and values...

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