Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Sunday Salon: Hot Reads

Well, I'm sitting here trying to get in a Sunday Salon kinda mood. But all I can really think to say is "Why is it so HOT?!" Northern Virginia is not supposed to have triple-digit temperatures in early June, but that seems to be what we've had today. And coming right after a particularly long, cool spring, this heat seems even more unbearable. OK, I know all about the ozone layer – but whoever it was invented air conditioning should be declared a saint.

Today was even too hot for a visit to the pool, so I've been able to spend some time just sitting around with a good book. Actually, with several good books. Part of the day I spent sorting through the books I've got lined up for my summer reading list – a few books I'm reading for various challenges, and a few others I want to read just for pleasure. Not that challenges don't count as pleasure, of course; but I always think of them as a bit like reading assignments in English class. Gives me a little incentive to keep reading – working to achieve that hypothetical A+.

But mostly I've been reading Arthur C. Clarke's 2010: Odyssey Two. That counts as pleasure and assignment, both: I've signed up for Becky's 42 Challenge, so lately I've been reading a little more sci-fi than usual. There was a time when I used to read science fiction almost exclusively. And I'd built up a huge library of sci-fi books and magazines. But then sometime back in the '80s I moved on to other subjects, and sold or gave away most of the collection. To quote the immortal Bugs Bunny, "What a maroon!"

This is an appropriate moment to be reading 2010, the sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey. The original movie and book both appeared forty years ago, around the same time in 1968 – the film premiered in April, and the book was published in July. According to Clarke's "author's note," he and Stanley Kubrick were working on the film and screenplay and novel simultaneously, during the period from 1964 to 1968, so that each affected the other to some extent.

Clarke also says he believes the book stands up well in light of "recent" discoveries. But, of course, he was writing that author's note in 1982 when 2010 first appeared. I haven't gotten very far into the book yet, but it's going to be interesting to see how apt that observation will still be, twenty-six years later. Forty years beyond the original book and film.

But one thing he says definitely remains true:

"2001 was written in an age that now lies beyond one of the Great Divides in human history; we are sundered from it forever by the moment when Neil Armstrong set foot upon the Moon. July 20, 1969, was still half a decade in the future when Stanley Kubrick and I started thinking about the 'proverbial good science-fiction movie' . . . . Now history and fiction have become inextricably intertwined."


  1. It sounds horrible having it that hot. It was very pleasant today, cool verging on cold through the night which made the house a good temperature. Though at one point the sun was trying to bore a whole in my leg while I was sitting at my desk. I would really like to read more science fiction myself, but I have so many book intentions it will probably be a few years before I start getting through much science fiction at a regular pace.

  2. Oh that is hot! We're in rainy season here so we still get some coolish evenings with our high humidity. But yes, once summer hits full force I'm very much indebted to the person who invented airconditioners! Time to stay indoors and read at least. I need to sort out the books I should be reading this summer too.

  3. I read all the 2001 series a few years ago and it's definitely one of those "laws of diminishing returns" when it comes to the books. I found 2010 interesting from the standpoint of watching Clark try to reconcile the differences between the novel and the film into the story.

    I can't say the next two are great. They have some decent ideas, but I didn't like them as much as 2001 or 2010.


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