Normally, each month I write an entry describing at least one interesting book (or short story) I read. Back at the start of 2009, I said this year would be all sci-fi and fantasy (and I said not to make any recommendations, since I didn’t want to be swamped or guilt-tripped into reading 600 things, but one man could not be deterred). I’ve ended up expanding the sci-fi mandate somewhat to cover things like utopian thinking (coming up in October) and Muppets (back in April), but to compensate, this month I’m turning the reins over to someone who’s stayed more focused on the stated task: Arkansas state representative — and now state senate candidate — Dan Greenberg.
Having known Dan for two decades, I can honestly say we’d be vastly better off if he were president, never mind Arkansas state senator, but let’s set aside speculation about his political future for a moment and see what you think of twenty-five of his choices for great (mostly short) works of speculative fiction (in no particular order):
1. Charles Stross’s “A Colder War”
2. Cordwainer Smith’s “The Game of Rat and Dragon”
3. Dan Simmons’ “The River Styx Runs Upstream”
4. Damon Knight’s “What Rough Beast”
5. Lewis Padgett’s (Kuttner and Moore) “Mimsy Were the Borogoves”
6-7. Cyril Kornbluth’s “The Little Black Bag” and “The Rocket of 1955″
8. William Powers’ “Allegory”
9-12. William Tenn “Child’s Play,” “The Brooklyn Project,” “Winthrop Was Stubborn,” and “The Liberation of Earth”
13. Philip Jose Farmer’s “Sketches Among the Ruins of My Mind”
14. Brian Aldiss’s “The Failed Men”
15-21. Robert Sheckley’s “Ticket to Tranai,” “Pilgrimage to Earth,” “The Academy,” “Sneak Previews,” “The Laxian Key,” “The Language of Love,” and “Zirn Left Unguarded, the Jenghik Palace in Flames, Jon Westerly Dead”
22. Thomas Disch’s “Casablanca”
23. Ray Bradbury’s “Sound of Thunder”
24. James Tiptree Jr.’s “Houston, Houston, Do You Read?”
25. Ted Chiang’s “Understand”
And as a bonus, let me note that Dawn Eden points out the existence of sci-fi-writing Catholic John C. Wright and even points me to a video interview with him about his conversion from atheism.
Someone should write a sci-fi story about the cosmic balance governing the lives of my ex-girlfriends and girlfriend, since I see that whereas girlfriend Helen, as noted yesterday, has resumed blogging, Dawn has recently gone on a possibly-permanent blogging hiatus (as she notes at the link above), but you can inquire via the e-address noted in the left margin of her site if you want to know what her new personal and professional projects are.
Am I going to read all the above, you ask? Well, I’m sure it’s all wonderful, but time being limited, I will instead make only this promise: I will include a novel by the prolific Mr. Sheckley (see items 15-21 — not to be confused with the pro-life-ic John C. Wright) called The Status Civilization among my October utopia-themed Book Selections. Up next month, though, it’s The Gate of Time by Philip Jose Farmer.
And what do those two books have in common? The generous Michel Evanchik gave me copies of both as gifts. And to see how he handles a debate about extraterrestrials, remember to join us tomorrow at Lolita Bar.