I realized the other day that I was completely out of peanut butter. This is probably not any great hardship for most people, but I have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch every day. (I know. I’m five. But it’s cheap and convenient!) Accordingly, I went out and picked up some peanut butter on my way to Sarah and Graham’s place for a movie night. I was a little early, so I explored the roads around there for a bit. Suddenly, as I was driving back to their house, some fool dog ran right in front of my car, barking maniacally and fully convinced he could take on an automobile and win. I slammed on my brakes really hard, and the peanut butter hurtled forward and smashed rather spectacularly against the front of my car. The dog was so close I couldn’t even see him over the hood of my car. I craned my neck apprehensively as the aroma of peanuts filled the air. The dog shuffled sheepishly off to the side. Not dead! Excellent. My car was covered in broken glass and peanut butter. Less excellent. Fortunately, for no reason whatsoever, I had picked up two jars, and one was unbroken! I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches the next day after all, and the dog lived to do idiotic things another day.

I Write Like, found by Ian. I ran thirteen short stories and four blog entries through this thing, and it gave me thirteen different results, including Cory Doctorow, James Joyce, Margaret Atwood, H.P. Lovecraft, David Foster Wallace, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ernest Hemingway, Harry Harrison, Neil Gaiman, Dan Brown, Arthur C. Clarke, H.G. Wells, and J.D. Salinger. Either I’m schizophrenic, or this isn’t quite accurate, but it’s nonetheless interesting!

Fantasy taxidermy: creepy or cool? I’m leaning more towards the creepy, I won’t lie, but the griffins are pretty cool.
Book spine poetry. Brilliant! This makes me want to reorganize my bookshelves into poems.
Flower petal nests for bees. Possibly too pretty to be real.
The beginnings of holodecks? I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Five vastly different short films with the same dialogue. Some are better than others, but the idea is nonetheless fascinating.

I’ve already gone pretty nuts over the space trilogy by C.S. Lewis, but it all bears repeating. I polished off That Hideous Strength, and it was wonderful. I don’t think I could choose one of the three books as a favorite anymore. It reminds me of The Lord of the Rings in that it feels like one story, indivisible. Except, of course, LotR really was one story and not meant to be broken up, and the space trilogy can be read as three standalone stories. But it seems to me that you would miss out on a lot by reading them as standalones. People have mentioned having trouble getting through That Hideous Strength, and I think it’s because it really needs to be read immediately after the other two, or you lose the feel for the world it exists in. I can well imagine it would feel quite jarring if you came back to it after some time had passed. As much as I loved the space trilogy as a whole, I was kind of startled (in a bad way) by a few aspects of That Hideous Strength. They were minor points in the story, but I think C.S. Lewis is such a theological genius 99% of the time that, when he does say something off the wall, it strikes the reader on an even sourer note than one would think.

SPOILER ALERT: The part that hit me so unpleasantly was the treatment of the character of Jane Studdock. It seemed as if Lewis was hinting at the idea that women are saved only (mainly?) through childbirth, and Jane’s ambivalence towards children is portrayed as demonic in origin. (One character goes so far as to say she should be beheaded for her failure to have children, though the other characters recognize this to be a bit much.) The whole thing seemed so jarring in the midst of Lewis’ other, well-reasoned ideas, and it seemed so random and left-field that I didn’t know what to do with it. The character of Jane in general became less and less interesting as the book progressed; to me, her responses to events didn’t make sense, to the point that she became almost completely inactive, and her thoughts didn’t even seem coherent. Confusing…

Anyway, not to end things on a negative note: overall, the trilogy was magnificent, and I definitely consider these among my favorite books now. Right now I’m finishing up The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov, the first in his robot trilogy. I haven’t read any Asimov in quite a while, so reading this book is like getting together with a good friend you haven’t seen in a couple years. All of their quirks and mannerisms come back to you, and you remember why you got along so well in the first place. I may have to dig up the rest of the trilogy once I’ve finished this one.

Advertisements