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                                                                             JOURNAL #207

                                                                              April 16, 2016


            During my years as an English teacher, a writing career was nowhere in sight. It was a life that I'd once aspired to. I started my first novel, The Canals of Mars, when I was about six. You probably haven't heard of it. But I concluded fairly early, when I was still in college, that it would never happen. So during the time I was trading ideas with students about literature and art, I was putting together a reading list, books I would get to eventually, classics to be read in retirement. When that retirement came, I expected to head for Valley Forge. And I did get to some of them. I read several Dickens novels, War and Peace, The Brothers Karamazov, some Henry James and Hemingway, and a few other classics. I had, by the way, an alternate plan, that would (somehow) bring substantial wealth and allow me to retire by forty. None of that ever happened. And ultimately, the discovery that I could write and sell fiction took over my life. Today, at twice forty, I have less time than ever.

            I probably never will get to Crime and Punishment and Remembrance of Things Past, but I'm still able to get some reading in. An occasional classic, like The Sun Also Rises. And, of course, Asimov's, Fantasy and Science Fiction, Analog, and Galaxy's Edge. A new issue of the latter will be showing up at the beginning of May, with a solid lineup and a reprint of "Henry James, This One's for You." (As long as we're talking about great writers.)

            Recently I've been reading the Library of America editions (which I heartily recommend) of H. L. Mencken and James Thurber. I've contributed a story to Derick Belanger's Beyond Watson, which are Holmes adventures narrated by someone other than Watson. Mine is "The Lost Equation," with Mencken as the great detective's fill-in partner. The anthology should be released shortly. And James Thurber, of course, is the guy to go to when you want a few laughs. I got hooked by him after watching, when I was twelve, Danny Kaye in "The Secret Lives of Walter Mitty."

            I've also gotten around, finally, to Paul Davies' The Mind of God, described by the subhead as 'The Scientific Basis for a Rational World.' The book is twenty years old, so the science is a bit behind, but Davies is always a pleasure to read. Also, The Next Fifty Years, in which twenty-five leading scientists predict where the world is headed in the first half of the 21st century.

            Maureen gave me a copy of Sherlock Holmes FAQ, by Dave Thompson. All That's Left To Know About the World's Greatest Private Detective. Started that yesterday. Have also begun Richard Dawkins's The Devil's Chaplain, Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love.

            A year ago, Time published a special, The Search for Life In the Universe, which is must reading for anyone interested in the topic. It contains a few surprises.

            And finally, a book I thought I'd read years ago: Larry Tye's Superman. The High Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero. I grew up in an age when prejudice against people with other religious views, or who were racially different, ruled the game. In the radio program, the narrative during 1946 dealt with a politician and a hate group that spent their time turning people against one another. Superman took a stand, and even showed up often at the end of the program to tell millions of kids across the nation that it was all nonsense. That we were in it together. It was a message that, as best I can recall, never showed up anywhere else.