Monday, October 5, 2009

Library Fantasies

No, not that kind.

I used to be a devoted user of libraries, from childhood up until about 15 years ago. My mainstay was the science fiction section. My grand fantasy was to read every book in the section. I tried this in several places, even keeping track with a database at one point. I usually began at the head of the alphabet, and made it through somewhere in the D's before giving it up for other pursuits. Fortunately there are many great authors at the head of the alphabet in SF (Asimov, Clarke, Dick, Benford, Brin, just to name a few...). And I discovered many treasures among the ordinary stuff.

Free SF Online revived this particular quest. It had thousands of stories when I began following it about three years ago, so I knew I couldn't really read them all. But I could stay ahead of the new additions at the front of the alphabet and make some progress, and got most of the way through David Drake, the attendant variation in quality.

Recently the creator of the site (Richard Cisee) made the site even better by making it a more comprehensive top site for free SF. He no longer attempts to be selective, covering a large set of publications completely. So now I can't even keep up with the A's, much less make headway. A good thing--I am off to explore the best of this and other collections, and there's a lot of good material. Here's to the good stuff!

The People of Sand and Slag, by Paulo Bacigalupi

And here is a prime example, another recent story by a great current author. This one is perhaps even sadder than his stories of life falling apart--the people in it are happy, but they aren't really human anymore. They live on the poison they have created from constant war, having adapted to it. Then they find a dog that is somehow still alive in the mess. And it's a pain to keep it alive.

In the introduction Bacigalupi says the story was inspired by a real dog living by the Berkeley Pit in Butte, MT. I used to live up that way and have been by once or twice. It is one of the eeriest places on earth, a blasted landscape with a large livid green-blue lake in it. The thing was allowed to fill when the Anaconda company couldn't make a profit anymore. A flock of geese once touched down on it during a migration--not one took off again.

3 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment