Because of my Vacation in the Golden Age, most of my available free reading time this year has been spent reading issues (14 so far) of Golden Age-era Astounding. I’ve had virtually no time to read anything else. However, as I mentioned the other day, I’ve changed my schedule for my Vacation from weekly to biweekly and that has given me time to read other things. And so in addition to the September 1940 Astounding, I’ve also been reading George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. And I have to say, it has been a very long time since I have so looked forward to reading not one but two different stories.
The September 1940 Astounding looks to be a good one. It has stories by A. E. van Vogt, Robert Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard (writing as Kury von Rachen), Isaac Asimov, Ross Rocklynne, and others. It contains part 1 of van Vogt’s Slan, which is first read in novel form some 15 years ago. I was kind of worried when I returned to it in the magazine that it wouldn’t live up to how I remembered it; and in fact, a few people told me it wouldn’t. But so far, I am completely captured by it, loving every page.
At the same time, I am being drawn ever-deeper into Game of Thrones. It is certainly the best fantasy I’ve read since Lord of the Rings. The characters are vivid and gritty and the setup so far is compelling. I have wondered how much of my interest and fascination is due to the fact that I saw the first three episodes of the HBO series before I started reading the book. That had to have some influence and it is almost certain that I would never have touched the book if not for the HBO series. But I can say with certainty that if I had picked up the book, I would have been hooked.
The problem now becomes one of choosing what to read. It has been a long time since I so looked forward to a break in my work for the sole purpose of sneaking in a little more reading. At each little snippet of time, the question becomes: do I read a few pages of Slan or a few pages of Thrones? Of course, there is not a whole lot of Slan in the September 1940 Astounding, perhaps 25 pages. But the other stories in the magazine are almost as equally compelling (Heinlein’s “Blowups Happen”, for instance). And yet I’m so intrigued by Game of Thrones. I’m dizzy with delight at it’s roughly 900 page (15,000 Kindle “locations) length. So I’ve been reading a dozen or so pages of Astounding and then a chapter of Thrones. It is an embarras de richesses of reading material and it reminds me of just how fortunate I am not only to be able to read, but to have been lucky enough to discover these wonderful genres. Waiting to read the next part of Slan or the next chapter of Thrones is like the anticipation before a vacation. And it couldn’t come at a better time, when things are stressful and busy at work.