August 15, 2001

I finished Mike Resnick’s “Stalking the Unicorn: A Fable of Tonight” last night. It was a really good book as evidenced by the fact that I completed it in about three days instead of about the one month it usually takes me <g> but after I completed it I still felt somehow unfulfilled since it felt as if there was more to the story – I wanted to know what happened after that. Maybe I’ve gotten too used to having multiple sequels to a book as seems to be the trend these days but then again, multiple sequels don’t necessarily mean that I want to know what happened next. Take Gordy Dickson’s Dragon Knight series for instance – I love Gordy Dickson’s work … especially his early stuff which used to evoke a sense of wonder and make me want to write. The Dragon Knight series is not in the same category and I’ve enjoyed each of the books that I’ve read so far (and I think I’ve bought almost all of the series as well though I haven’t read most of them yet …) but when I finish one, I don’t think “OK, what happens to Jim Eckert after that?”.

You know, in a sense that saddens me. It’s as if the magic that I felt when I read books is gone. Maybe it’s again that sense of nostalgia but I know that I used to enjoy my reading a lot more. But then again, my reading habits have changed as well. I used to read almost anything that was SF and come away feeling invigorated, my head seething with ideas and wanting (no, almost aching …) to write a story like that. These days, I mostly read fantasay rather than SF but I never really want to write a story – except perhaps after reading some of Terry Pratchett’s work … So what happened? Where did that almost indescribable feeling of joy, of wonder, of being totally entertained and thrilled go? Or did I just grow out of it as I grew older? I don’t know …

What I do know however is that I’m about to begin on a book which has sort of rekindled that feeling in me. Last night I held Larry Niven’s “Destiny’s Road” in my hands and I felt that same old thrill, the anticipation of a good read that would stimulate my mind and make me dream of future times and far off places. The cover art by Michael Whelan evokes the same sense of wonder that books by Isacc Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon, A. E. Van Vogt, Jack Williamson, Murray Leinster et al used to evoke in me in those days of long ago (at least they seem like long ago though in reality it is less than fifteen years …). I still haven’t started on the book because in a sense I am afraid of being disappointed – in losing that feeling of wonder, of joy that I haven’t felt in a long time …

But then again, Larry Niven is of that breed and era of writers who never ever disappointed me. I don’t know whether it is my unfamiliarity with contemprorary SF writers or whether contemprary writers have indeed moved on to different areas that don’t interest me as much, but to me SF will always be memorable for the writers of yesteryear (not that I think Larry Niven is by any means a has-been writer but I associate him with a different era, a different generation …). I still remember reading Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s “The Mote in God’s Eye” and being overwhelmed by the sheer brilliance of it, the completeness of the world that they’d created. I can’t really express most of the feelings that those books evoked in me in adequate words. I think Jerry Pournelle is the first writer that I wrote to after reading a book written by him/her – I e-mailed him and told him how much I enjoyed “The Mote in God’s Eye” and he almost immediately wrote back and recommended some other books. Perhaps it’s because of people like Jerry and Terry Pratchett who take the time to respond to their readers, that I try to be as responsive to the users of my apps as I do … it is strange how things work out.

But I drone on :-) I love those old books and I hope “Destiny’s Road” will prove to be just as good as I anticipate it to be but one thing it’s done even before I start reading it is to rekindle the desire to write SF in me again. So I intend to start something that I’ve been thinking of for a long time – to do a story bit by bit online … Blog will let me do it except for one thing – the entries have to be in normal order instead of reverse order. Tyran Ormond already suggested this feature to me and so I will try to get that in sometime soon so that I can get started on this story that I’m bursting to write and who knows, maybe I will provide somebody else with the same feeling of joy, wonder and make them dream of far off places and strange people like all my favorite SF authors did for me …

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Posted by Fahim at 7:39 am   Comments (4)