I have been slacking on the painting, and now I have found another awesome cat portrait to reinterpret artistically The work is backing up.
But I had to read a couple of books — historical research for my blog, you see. The first book, The Mote in God’s Eye, by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, is one I read a long time ago…in 1980. I was taking summer classes at the local university, and decided to take “The Literature of Science Fiction” as an elective. I was also taking an astronomy class, so I thought the sci-fi would be a nice complement.
So, The Mote was one of the assigned readings, and it really stuck with me — especially the “Crazy Eddie” bits. And I quote: “Renner, I must tell you of a creature of legend….We will call him Crazy Eddie, if you like…Always he does the wrong things for excellent reasons. He does the same things over and over, and they always bring disaster, and he never learns” (my emphasis).
There were many other details from the book that I remembered — perhaps better than I have remembered other books over the years. But “Crazy Eddie” was special. My second basenji was Crazy Eddie incarnate. He was the sweetest-tempered, most insane dog I’ve ever known. He was the original Crazybasenji, and the book was the inspiration for that name.
When I went to the library to look for the book, I discovered that there was a sequel — The Gripping Hand that had been published almost 20 years after the first. That’s a long time to wait for a sequel, but the first book didn’t necessarily require one. It was nice, though to see the story carried forward. The time elapsed in the book was about the same as that between two books publication dates.
I’ve read a lot of science fiction in my time, but, prior to that summer, I had restricted myself to a few authors that wrote the kinds of stories I liked. I started off with The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings, like a lot of people do. Then I found the Earthsea trilogy by Ursula K. LeGuin. And there was Anne McAffrey, who wrote the Dragonrider books. These were actually more in the fantasy genre than they were science fiction. After I took the class in science fiction, I was more willing to try other authors. But not that many.
I told a friend at school about The Mote in God’s Eye, and she loaned me a copy of Lucifer’s Hammer, also by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Later I read a couple of their Ringworld books.
Then I discovered C.J. Cherryh. For years I consumed a steady diet of her books — I read Downbelow Station probably three times (and I don’t re-read books much), and the Chanur books at least twice. About the time I caught up with what she was writing currently, and had to wait for the next book in the series to be published, I got frustrated and switched to non-fiction. You don’t have to deal with all that trilogy or series delay between books bullshit with non-fiction. And you can put the damn thing down from time to time, like to eat.
I’m not an ace book reviewer. But I’ve found that if I write something about a book, I’ll remember it better. With the kind of non-fiction I read, remembering not just the general theme of the book, but specific details, helps me understand my field of biology better. So I’m going to publish some of my book reviews on my blog. I may even write one about “Crazy Eddie” and company.