Operation Retrograde

This week as been hella busy. Passover Monday and Tuesday, cramming 10 hours of work into 8, a hundred stupid problems, and some once and future friends having a baby at long last. I’ve been writing, but when I sat to write this blog I was dead in the water. It’s not so much writer’s block but apathy. And I did a bit on that.

So I bitched to some online friends ‘I’m foundering around, looking for a topic to write about.’ After I said that, I went to Google and typed in ‘random.’ Instead of hitting the search button, I went for the wacky ‘I Feel Lucky’ one and came up with Random House. The website is nice, the layout is decent, and the books are … nothing I know.

This isn’t to say I don’t read, a lot, but the last ‘new’ book I read was ‘Auntie Mame’, which is secretly about my grandmother Taffy. I say ‘new’ because I’d never read it before. Lately I’ve been immersed in re-reads, and Andre Norton. I found a lot of her stuff on the Baen Free Library, and I loved her as a kid.

Andre Norton is actually Alice Mary Norton, 8 years older than Taffy, born in my home town of Cleveland, went to Case Western Reserve University (back before it got the Case in front of it’s name) and worked at the Nottingham Branch Library in Cleveland. That was the branch my Dad went to all the time. From 1932 to 1950, she was the ‘assistant’ librarian of the kiddie section, but I know her as Dad’s Librarian.

When I was about seven, Dad got me a couple of her books: ‘The Stars Are Ours’ which I haven’t read since then, and ‘Time Traders’ which I just re-read last month. ‘The Stars Are Ours’ was written in 1954 and is followed up by ‘Star Born’. The basic plot is that we’d made it to the Moon, Mars and Venus, but space travel was scientific. There are space stations, to help with the flights, but it’s not until a station is taken over and turned into weapons that the Earth is well and truly fucked. One of the survivors started to be anti-science, and while he was killed for being a bit too radical, his followers set up this Company of Pax, which was totally anti-science/science is evil. Yeah. Flash forward a decade and the assassinated anti-scientist’s son, Dard, who ends up taking his niece Dessie to the Scientists and escaping Earth into space because (say it with me) “The stars are ours!” The sequel is about people on the planet Dard lands on, and how after 3 or 4 generations, more Earthers show up.

‘Time Traders’ is about convicted petty criminal, Ross Murdock, and how he’s drafted/volunteers to join a time travel division of the government, and travels in time to Britain in 2000 B.C. to uncover the base from which Russians are gathering weapons. I just found out that the book was rewritten to pull in 40 years of changes in the world (computer games and so on), so I may have to go buy the reprint. Damn. Mind you, most people I’ve checked with said the re-write’s a flop.

Of all things, I read most of my books on my palm pilot. I have a little card that can store up to 64 megs of data, and on it I have about 40 books waiting to be read. I’ve gotten all of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries and most of the Tarzan books. But also, I have perennials like ‘Crime and Punishment’ and ‘Moby Dick’ which I’ll re-read from time to time. The Baen Library I tend to download any new Sci-Fi I want to try. Which is why I was delighted and surprised to see Andre Norton. She’s not new, and her work is totally dated. Anne McCaffery, aka Pern’s Dragon Lady, is also horrible dated, but the difference I’ve found is Norton’s very 1950, black and white, hero and villain, no nasty sex bits. McCaffery tries to be a feminist and fails horribly and offensively. I’d much rather read a book that just is what it is, no pretensions.

I did just find that the Time Traders Series (series!) includes 7 books, one of which was written in 2002, which may explain why I didn’t know about it. I’d originally read book 1 (‘Time Traders’) and book 4 (‘A Key out of Time’) and so when I read book 2 (‘Galactic Derelict’) I was very perplexed.

And now that I’ve written all this, I thought ‘I could write about teenaged girls and their horse obsession!’

Too late for that. Happy Passover.