A couple of weeks ago I visited at Star Cat Books (as remarked upon below). This is a used/new book store concentrating on science fiction and children’s literature (though they have a lot of other things).

I was there for two days, and during some down time I started re-reading Friday by R. A. Heinlein. I’d started it back in 1982 when it came out, but bogged down in Chapter VI, during the interminable discussion of a group-marriage’s finances.

One of my character flaws is that I’m unable to not-finish a novel once I’ve started. So, despite the 30+ year gap, there I went. This time around I soldiered on and finished it. So: a few observations.

First, the protagonist, Friday, despite the light-skinned blonde seen in some of the cover paintings, is a person of color: she speaks about “this built-in suntan of mine.” She explicitly compares her skin tone to a Maori or a Tongan.

Second, when asked to define a “sick culture” she says, “Dominance of males over females seems to be one of the symptoms.”

Later the “Old Man” character (seen in so many Heinlein novels under a number of names), says, “a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.”

Beyond that, while in 1982 I wouldn’t have known this, now I can say that Mr. Heinlein had never been to Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape school, and didn’t run this book by anyone who had. The number of bone-headed SERE blunders that the protagonist (and all of her friends) make is purely mind-boggling.

The overall message of this book seems to be that civil disruption can be a lot of fun provided you’re fabulously wealthy, gorgeously beautiful, brilliantly intelligent, young, healthy, athletic, and swimming in a sea of casual sex. Alas, the interesting novel set in this world would be the one in which the protagonist was none of those things.

Very late, very minor Heinlein.

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An Early-June Miscellany

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What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Or, yesterday, anyway, while helping with Customer Appreciation Day in Bradford, VT, for the Bradford Merchants’ Association:

This appearance was sponsored by Star Cat Books. Check ’em out!

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It’s Magic!

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

starcat030513For all you folks out there who are interested in Jim Macdonald’s other artistic vocation (the one that isn’t writing novels), tomorrow and Saturday he’s going to be doing close-up street magic in Bradford, Vermont, as part of the local downtown merchants’ Customer Appreciation Days. Look for him out in front of Star Cat Books – he’ll be the one in the hat.

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Where I’ve Been When I Haven’t Been Here

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

Working, mostly, clearing my way out from under a couple of editing gigs.Our trip to Albacon went well – it was a pleasant local convention with congenial people – and we were able to make a side trip to Ausable Chasm on the way out.

Chasm Sign02

Jim Macdonald (husband and co-author) has had a hankering to visit Ausable Chasm ever since he was a kid and first saw the classic Charles Addams cartoon showing the man and wife at a ticket window, with the caption “A round trip and a one-way to Ausable Chasm.”

Well, this year we finally made it.It’s impressive, even from up on the bank of the chasm:

Ausable Chasm01

All we had time for – we didn’t want to miss the Albacon Ice Cream Social later that evening – was the basic two-hour self-guided trail walk (well, Jim did the trail walk; I, as befits a person…

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Sampler Platter

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

Some time back, I posted a tasting flight of shorter works by important authors, in the interest of giving readers a way to decide whether or not they liked a particular author enough to go on and tackle one of that author’s signature doorstop volumes.  Now, as a follow-up to that round, here’s another quartet of shorter pieces by authors of important longer works.

Henry FieldingJoseph Andrews.  Tom Jones is the doorstop (and well worth reading for its own sake); Joseph Andrews is the short one, written in response to that other blockbuster of the eighteenth century, Samuel Richardson’s Pamela.  Richardson’s novel featured a virtuous maidservant who attracts the lustful attention of her employer, Squire B, possibly the world’s most incompetent rake.  He tries everything, including abduction and a fake marriage, but never works himself up to doing the actual deed; meanwhile, Pamela steadfastly holds…

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The Secret Pulse: National Poetry Month

Originally posted on Fran Wilde:

Antoni Austen, Low Tide After a Storm, 1892, Salon des Champs-Elysées 1892 Antoni Austen, Low Tide After a Storm, 1892, Salon des Champs-Elysées 1892

“We want what the woman wanted in the prison queue in Leningrad, standing there with cold and whispering for fear, enduring the terror of Stalin’s regime and asking the poet Anna Akhmatova if she could describe it all, if her art was equal to it.”
Seamus Heaney, Crediting Poetry: The Nobel Lecture

They give us one month, a singular set of days, to remember we are poets at heart.

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Three Nifty Links and a Brief Reminder

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

Commas are important tools in the ongoing struggle for (and sometimes between) clarity and euphony – so important that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that, even more than most punctuation marks, commas are pretty much a local-option kind of deal.  The conventions for comma usage vary from one language to another, as I learned to my sorrow back in the days when I was learning Old English and working with a lot of OE texts that had been edited by German scholars and therefore punctuated with German punctuation.  (It’s a mark of where I learned a particular language and how I mostly used it that my rudiments of German are mostly stuff like “The following forms appear only in the dative plural,” while my fragmentary Spanish runs mostly along the lines of “Do you have Tylenol in drops for infants?”)  Comma use also varies from one century…

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Springtime Seasonal Special

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

From now through the 11th of April, in honor of the arrival of new growth and brighter days, my usual rate for a full line-edit and critique drops back to $1000.  Furthermore, you can purchase a gift certificate for a friend or colleague at the seasonal price, to be redeemed by the recipient at whatever future date they find convenient.

Sample Spring Gift Certificate SmallPic

The gift certificate comes in the form of a .pdf file suitable for printing out and enclosing in an envelope, or putting into a gift-wrapped box.

(And if the person the gift is meant for happens to be you—that’s perfectly fine with me.)

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Shaking the Tambourine

Originally posted on Dr. Doyle's Editorial and Critique Services:

It’s that season again . . . time for one of my semi-regular posts where I clear my throat nervously, point at the “About” link in the header, and let people know that I offer editorial and critique services for a reasonable fee.

(It’s been a long hard winter, with all the household expenses that a long hard winter always brings.  Because I’m a hardworking Dr. Doyle, I’m doing my bit to keep the electricity and the internet flowing.  Wherefore I also point, discreetly, at the tip jar link at the bottom of the right-hand margin.)

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