punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

The Stranger is a Harsh Mistress... I grok dat, yo.

Many bloggers have a side bar that shows "what I am reading." I never do because often what I am reading is on the web or it's like "O'Reilly's PERL in a Nutshell," which makes for dull reading; it's not like I curl up in front of the fire and read, "Then mamma array's scalar was equal to the hash value of pappa's variable, and then, one day, in the magic Castle Function Call, princess subroutine was having lunch with a reference pointer n a module..."

But my last meeting with Nybor changed that. We had a discussion on Heinlein where I brought up my usual stories. One, how I tried to read him as a kid, and only read "Stranger in a Strange Land" (weird), "Starship Troopers" (depressing), and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" (also depressing), then as an teen, I tried to read, "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls," and "Number of the Beast," which never got past the first few chapters because they were so dull. I totally gave up on him. Then, as the second story goes, some FanTek con I was at, a friend of mine, and I think it was Eric Silverhands (anyone remember him?), was hosting a panel after mine where he asked me to stay. The panel was about Heinlein, and waved my hand in "no thanks." "Please," he said. I think he was really nervous or something. "I am so sorry, but I often wonder if my fandom card will be revoked if I admit I don't care for his works very much." Well, this got some discussion going. I then hosted a successful panel on an author I did not care for, and barely remembered anything I had read from him (Eric was a good moderator, BTW, between me and the audience, so that worked out for him as well). I always use that example for my, "You can do a panel on anything anywhere in fandom in an emergency," mantra to myself. This mantra I will probably be repeating at Balticon this year because... um... I haven';t gotten a list of panels/times yet (this is a known issue, and should not be construed as nagging in any way).

So... I went to Borders near my house, which is a fairly large book store, to get "Stranger in a Strange Land," and "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress," only to find out they didn't have either one. "You have to special order those," said the salesgirl, who had never heard of either book. Later, I found the "Moon" book at the Borders near my work, but I was forced to buy a fancy collector's trade paperback edition for $18. Yesterday, I picked up "Stranger" at C&W used books, my least favorite book store in the world with high prices (I just paid $6.05 for a very used $7.95 paperback), low selection (almost every book I looked for they didn't have), stoned staff (they look seriously bored, mentally unbalanced, and slightly irritated), and no clear organized structure (too many vague subcategories like "action" and "adventure").

I started to read "Moon" a few weeks ago and almost fell asleep after the first few pages (and I wasn't even sleepy when I started). "Stranger" kept my interest since yesterday because I forgot I not only read this book, but it must have shaped some deep childhood lesson because I started going, "Oh yeah... I remember this. Guy from Mars. Thinks like a Martian, uses the word 'grok,' which reminds me of the old shirts/buttons/stickers that said, 'I grok Spock. That and 'Beam me up Scotty, there's no intelligent life down here...' Ha ha ha... aaah... old fandom."

Anyway, I'm back to the classics. I'll probably be reading this along with some other titles when I go to Sweden. So here's my current reading list:

1. Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade - Patrick Dennis (halfway done)
2. Around the World With Auntie Mame - Patrick Dennis (not started)
3. Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein (first few chapters)
4. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert Heinlein (first chapter)
5. Lammas Night - Katherine Kurtz (first chapter)
6. Time Management for System Administrators - Thomas Limoncelli (halfway through, but a good joke here would have been "haven't gotten around to it")
7. Centrify 3.0 - Users Manual - Centrify Team (mostly done)
8. A bunch of contracts dealing with security compliance (mostly done, what I can understand)
9. Transcending Quantum Physics in Tachyonic Fields, Vol 2: Particle and Wave Form Anomalies for the Warp Core Engineer - Dr. Karakuta O'Malley (halfway through, but the book vanished into thin air when I started to alter history)
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