Books Acquired:
Shogun, James Clavell
Americana, Don DeLillo

Progress Made:
White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day, Richie Unterberger

Books Finished:
Star Trek: Log One, Alan Dean Foster
Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor

Reading sci-fi is funny sometimes. Alan Dean Foster’s Star Trek: Log One begins like this:

Veil of stars.

Veil of crystal.

On the small viewscreen the image of the Milky Way glittered like powdered sugar fused to black velvet.

Here in the privacy of the captain’s cabin on board the Enterprise, James T. Kirk had at fingertip’s call all the computerized resources of an expanding, organized galactic Federation in taped and microfilmed form.

That’s right, “microfilmed.” I guess it’s easy to look back now and say it should have been obvious even then that everything would be digital long before the 23rd century. (I probably didn’t know that in 1974, but I was 7.)

Doesn’t it seem ridiculous on the face of it that a starship would be carrying microfilm? But you come across these kinds of anachronisms everywhere in science fiction — which I guess just points up one of the truisms about the genre, that it’s really about the time it’s written in, not the time it depicts.

I wonder what we’re missing now that will seem obvious to people in 50 or 100 years. But then again I kind of shudder to think. It may be bad news.

Speaking of bad news — it was only after starting Log One that I realized it was based on episodes of the 1970s animated series instead of the original classic show. (Those books were written by James Blish, I remember now. I read some of them many moons ago.) But it still served its purpose, providing some stimulating but not overly taxing reading for lazy afternoons.

On a different note, after Ethan Hawke appeared on the Late Show to promote his new movie about Flannery O’Connor, I remembered that Wise Blood was in my unread books pile because I bought a new copy when the old one fell apart. This was, I think, my fourth or fifth time through it and it did not feel rote it all. In fact I realized recently that probably the only book I’ve read so much that large chunks of it are permanently etched in my brain, making further rereading redundant, is Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Maybe someday one of those worms that ate part of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s brain will get into mine, and I’ll be able to enjoy Fear and Loathing anew.

This may not be strictly relevant, but… rarely do we get a news story so perfect in all its dimensions. It was easy to enjoy because there is no chance he will be president. The obvious brain defects of the serial felon currently leading in the polls are another matter — funny, sure, but also a bit worrisome.

Anyway: The rest of May’s reading time was occupied with Richie Unterberger’s VU book, in which I finally slogged my way through to 1965, and the backlog of Harpers magazines. There are still quite a few of the latter in the pile, but summer is upon us, and I have momentum. Which as you know is everything.

In June I intend to tackle Shogun, which I picked up because I was finding the TV series difficult to follow. It was weirdly hard to find, given that there are millions of copies in print; I guess there are a lot of people in the same boat. In fact the sun is shining and the reading chair beckons… ta-ta for now.