Friday, June 18, 2004

Chapter 1 - June 18, 2004

"When I die, I'm donating my body to Science Fiction." Steven Wright

Preparing for a trip to Orlando next week for the annual meeting of the American Library Association. These meetings are a good opportunity to keep up with the field, and with old colleagues. We always manage to sample the local food and drink wherever we go, and this should be particularly interesting because we are the last New Yorkers in existence who have never been to Florida. I was surprised to see that the Kennedy Space Center is so close to Orlando, so we added a day of vacation to visit that area. In the last year or so I've been bringing a Palm Pilot with a fold-up keyboard that allows me to write my reports as things are happening and upload the thing to the web as soon as I get back. Usually these contain a mixture of hard library information, travelogue and plain silliness, but people read them so I keep writing them.

Last week, I was fortunate enough to see the transit of Venus just as the sun was rising over Connecticut. I remember reading about this as a teenager in the 1960's, thinking that the year 2004 was strictly science fiction. Actually, if you think about the lives we are living now, it really is science fiction. Having the ability to sit at the reference desk in slow times and write these messages, which can then be read anywhere in the world in 5 minutes. That's something, if you think about it. That just brings up the basic problem with Science Fiction. The technology of today is wonderful, but people are still the same. I read science fiction until I was 30. At that time I realized that I had started a dozen sci fi books but never made it to chapter 3 in any of them. It occurred to me that I really didn't like this stuff anymore, so I started a lifetime reading plan that I've mostly kept up since - reading the best possible authors and trying to keep a balance of the subjects covered. This helped me later in life when I started writing myself.

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