There are occasionally harvests in science fiction and I love when they arrive. Unlike a traditional harvest, science fiction harvests can arrive at varying times of the year. One arrived today, in the form of four books that I ordered from Amazon just a few days ago. I haven’t been reading much science fiction these last few months, but with the writing workshop starting up, and three new books on the shelves, I knew it was time. (The fourth book, while not new on the shelves, is new to me.)
In the mail was City at the End of Time by Greg Bear, Marsbound by Joe Haldeman, The Last Theorem by Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl, and Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. And just like with any crop, I’m eager to taste the fruits, and am having trouble deciding which to start with. (I’ve already cast aside Rama II; I’ll come back to it when I’ve finished with these.) I’m leaning toward The Last Theorem, but that’s not yet set in stone. I’m very much looking forward to Scalzi’s book, having heard it was terrific, and fits in nicely with the decades-long dialog initiated by Robert Heinlein’s, Starship Troopers and responded to with Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War.
Harvests like these are feasts. I can devour these four books in no time, if nothing else gets in the way, and I tend to cast aside things I might otherwise care more about in seasons like this. It got me thinking about the biggest harvest I’ve experienced, which came to fruition back in the fall of 1997.
Toward the end of September of that year, I read David G. Hartwell’s book Age of Wonders. My experience with s.f. was still relatively narrow, but I read about all of these amazing-sounding books and stories in Hartwell’s book and I decided to venture out and see what it was all about. In the space of 40 days or so, I devoured The Stars My Destination and The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester, Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys, the incredible Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg, Time Out oF Joint by Philip K. Dick, The Past Through Tomorrow by Robert Heinlein, Beyond Apollo and Galaxies by Barry N. Malzberg, The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury, and The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. Never before or since have I had a rush like that. Three of those books, I rated as all-time favorites (Dying Inside, Beyond Apollo, and The Forever War) and they have held their places firmly over the intervening decades.
I can’t say whether this harvest will be as intense, but I am looking forward to it. It also gives me the opportunity to apply some of what I am learning in my writer’s workshop to the reading of high quality science fiction.
I can’t wait to get started with the reaping and sowing.