Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Time capsule from the Dorkazoic

I just found a trove of files on my computer from 1993-1995. For reference, I graduated high school in May of 1993 and started my undergraduate work (term used loosely) at the University of Oklahoma that fall.

Something that I apparently kept up with from Christmas 1992 to February 1994 was a list of all the books that I read. I can tell you that in 1993 I read 69 books. In those 69 were two books I had to read for history class, one mystery, and two technothrillers. The other 64 were all science fiction and fantasy. I devoured that crap at that rate basically from the time I was 12 until I was 21. What changed in 1996 is that Rich Cifelli assigned me to an independent study to identify some dinosaur bones, and ever since paleontology has been taking a bigger slice of the pie and lurid escapism getting less and less. I don't regret that at all. As Rilstone says, if you think LOTR is the greatest work of the human imagination ever when you're 12, that's fine. If you still think that when you're 30, something has gone wrong with your life.

Actually, now that I think of it, Rilstone may be full of shit on that point.

But anyway, in the spirit of examining my 18-year-old self with 13-year-hindsight goggles, here is my newly exhumed reading list from Christmas 1992 to February 1994.

------------------------------------------------

'92 Christmas Break (5) Favorite: The River of Time
Galapagos, Kurt Vonnegut
Swords Against Darkness, edited by Andrew Offut
The River of Time, David Brin
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, by Douglas Adams
Han Solo at Star's End, by Brian Daley


1993


January (5) Favorite: Eon
The Memory of Earth, Orson Scott Card
Prisoner of the Horned Helmet, James Silke
Wing Commander: Freedom Flight, Mercedes Lackey and Ellen Guon
Warriors of Mars, Michael Moorcock
Eon, Greg Bear

February (5) Favorite: The Mote in God's Eye
The Venom Trees of Sunga, L. Sprague de Camp
Blades of Mars, Michael Moorcock
The Mote in God's Eye, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Treason, Orson Scott Card
The Starwolves, Thorarinn Gunnarsson

March (9) Favorite: A Fire Upon the Deep
Falkenberg's Legion, Jerry Pournelle
Rising Sun, Michael Crichton
Starwolves: Battle of the Ring, Thorarinn Gunnarsson
Eternity, Greg Bear
Voyage of the Star Wolf, Peter Gerrold
A Fire Upon the Deep, Vernor Vinge
N-Space, Larry Niven
The Forge of God, Greg Bear
The Children's Hour, Jerry Pournelle and S.M. Stirling

April (2) Favorite: The Asteroid Queen
The Asteroid Queen, Jerry Pournelle and S.M. Stirling
In the Hall of the Mountain King, Jerry Pournelle and S.M. Stirling

May (5) Favorite: Anvil of Stars
Foucault's Pendulum, Umberto Eco
Anvil of Stars, Greg Bear
Dorsai, Gordon R. Dickson
Santiago, Mike Resnick
Han Solo and the Lost Legacy, Brian Daley

June (10) Favorite: The Quiet Pools
Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
The Complete T-Rex, Jack Horner
Inferno, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Desperate Measures, Joe Clifford Faust
Precious Cargo, Joe Clifford Faust
The Essence of Evil, Joe Clifford Faust
The Quiet Pools, Michael P. Kube-McDowell
The California Voodoo Game, Larry Niven and Stephen Barnes
The Sum of All Fears, Tom Clancy
The Peace War, Vernor Vinge

July (11) Favorite: The Last Command
Flight of the Old Dog, Dale Brown
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Indiana Jones and the Peril at Delphi, Rob MacGregor
The Restuarant at the End of the Universe, Douglas Adams
Life, the Universe, and Everything, Douglas Adams
Indiana Jones and the Dance of the Giants, Rob MacGregor
This Present Darkness, Frank Peretti
Miss Pollifax on the China Station, Dorothy Gilman
Dark Force Rising, Timothy Zahn
The Last Command, Timothy Zahn
Indiana Jones and the Seven Veils, Rob MacGregor

August (5) Favorite: The Player of Games
Indiana Jones and the Genesis Deluge, Rob MacGregor
The Player of Games, Ian M. Banks
Naked Came the Sasquatch, John Boston
The Lost King, Margaret Weis
The Boys From Brazil, Ira Levin

September (4) Favorite: Bread Givers
Black Elk Speaks, Neihardt
Bread Givers, Anna Yezierska
Robotech I: Genesis, Jack McKinney
Robotech II: Battle Cry, Jack McKinney

October (5) Favorite: Oath of Fealty
Robotech III: Homecoming, Jack McKinney
Robotech IV: Battlehymn, Jack McKinney
Sentinels I: The Devil's Hand, Jack McKinney
Oath of Fealty, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
World of Ptaavs, Larry Niven

November (5) Favorite: The Forever War
The Practice Effect, David Brin
A World Out of Time, Larry Niven
Lords of Destruction, James Silke
The Forever War, Joe Haldemann
The Wind From a Burning Woman, Greg Bear

December (3) Favorite: Truce at Bakura
Bio of a Space Tyrant I: Refugee, Piers Anthony
Bio of a Space Tyrant II: Mercenary, Piers Anthony
Star Wars: Truce at Bakura, Kathy Tyers


1994


January (6) Favorite: The Ringworld Engineers
Swords of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs
No Frills Science Fiction, Anonymous
Playgrounds of the Mind, Larry Niven
Afrikorps: White Rhino, Bill Dolan
The Stainless Steel Rat Wants You, Harry Harrison
The Ringworld Engineers, Larry Niven

February ( ) Favorite: Jedi Search
The Integral Trees, Larry Niven
Tunnel in the Sky, Robert Heinlein
The Number of the Beast, Robert Heinlein
The Mucker, Edgar Rice Burroughs
Jedi Search, Kevin J. Anderson

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did I say that? Er...It sounds like the sort of thing I might have said.

I'm not sure it's right. It depends on what you mean by "greatest" and "imagination". If you define "work of imagination" as "the kind of thing which Tolkien does in Lord of the Rings" then no-one has ever done it better. (I simply don't read fantasy any more: I can't work up any enthusiasm for looking at some guys new fantasy world when I could spend the time reading something by Tolkien.) On the other hand, if you are a Serious Grown Up, and you haven't expanded your interests to include -- I don't know -- other great books apart from LOTR, then there probably is something wrong with you. I don't think that most Tolkien fans do think that he's the only writer in the world: they tend to be nerds -- er, scholarly types -- who know their WIlliam Morris from Viking Sagas. I think you might be more likely to find (say) Star Trek fans who study Star Trek and nothing but Star Trek. If you read all the books that are coming out, you wouldn't have time for much else. But that may also be a prejudice.

4:30 AM  
Blogger Dr. Vector said...

Hi Andrew,

You at least said something to that effect. Unfortunately I am hampered in responding intelligently by the fact that I can't find it on your old site. It seems not to be in the Tolkien section, which makes me think that maybe it was in one of the Star Wars essays. Does anyone else remember where it is?

In any case, it's still a brilliant line, and it's been lodged in my head for at least a couple of years. As I get older, my perception of stuff that I liked as a child seems to be warping exponentially. I am now much less turned on by Star Wars than I used to be, but that may be because I can't successfully separate my feelings for the old movies, which rock, and for George Lucas, who now seems to be a tin-eared money-grubbing moron. (I may be slightly overstating things here. Or understating them.) But LOTR is inescapably good. I will write one of these days about a thesis that Mike Taylor and I have been hashing out in e-mail, which is that LOTR stands in the same relationship to fantasy that Darwin does to evolutionary biology. But my time is up now so I'll have to pick up the thread later.

Finally, thanks for stopping by and for not throwing things at me for that quip.

Cheers,

Matt

5:03 PM  

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