Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

 Whatever funk has me in its grip is still doing a number on the ol' little grey cells. There's plenty to talk about but I'm really not in the mood to deal with reality. Days like this makes me miss hallucinogenics.

 The weather's been nice this week, though we got more storms moving in possibly for the weekend. Cool and sunny, but the Sleep got a-hold of me today so I more or less checked out. I read a bit but I didn't turn my computer on to look at the outside world until five this afternoon. I'm not depressed, exactly, or even blue. Just... melancholy, disinterested. Using the light doesn't seem to help, and frankly, I could lay in bed all day and read for the rest of my days with no quarrel or loss.

 Which isn't healthy, of course, but being left alone to read is about all I've ever wanted out of life. When I was a kid, I used to climb a tree over one of the dog pens because at a certain point it branched from the main trunk. The branch was wide enough for me to sit comfortably, especially after I set a piece of plywood at the fork to make a seat. I used to climb up their on summer mornings with a handful of books or comics and stay all day. When the technology became ubiquitous, I'd care the cheap cassette players and a few albums with me to listen to music so long as the batteries held out.

 Sometime before I left New Orleans, I noted to my erstwhile girlfriend that it really seemed like after she and I split, the final regression to my early teens completed itself. I was what you'd call a "late bloomer". The kid that still wanted to build a fort or play ball when all the rest of my peers were getting interested in girls. I think I might've been 15 before whatever that impulse came and sat down on my head like a lazy, fat dog. Because it'd taken so long to get to me, I was a pretty hopeless case romantically until moving away to Florida for college. Then something clicked and, in the words of the great Ronnie Hawkins, I got more nookie than Frank Sinatra.

 But in the last few years, I've been drifting back to those pre-teen days. When I still had a grip on the wonder of being a child but after my cousin died so I was hip to how the world worked. I also got back into video games and pretty much stopped socializing like I did back then. Moving home helped break whatever was blocking me from enjoying books again, particularly fiction, so the devolution is almost complete. Hell, I'm not really interested in women anymore, but I think that has more to do with the changes a man goes through once middle age sets in.

 Ah, well. Like I said, melancholy. Maudlin, even. I've been reading Dr. Bloodmoney the last couple days, one of the few Philip K. Dick books I hadn't previously read. Dick is a tricky one. His ideas are always mind-blowing but his prose is sometimes lacking. He really didn't get rolling as a writer and a thinker until the '70s, with books like Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said... and The Man In The High Castle. This book in particular comes from his '60s period; in fact, it was his first full-length novel. In any event, the '70s makes for the PKD that turns me on, but like all "classic" science fiction, Dr. Bloodmoney is, if nothing else, an interesting time capsule.

 Like the great bulk of the second wave of science fiction writers - Dick, Robert Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, Philip Jose Farmer, etc. - it's fascinating to see not just what he predicted, but what he got completely wrong. The book takes place partly in 1981 and while things like 3-D television and Mars colonization seem perfectly rational, the idea that a female character could be anything but a secretary or a housewife seems beyond comprehension.

 I know I'm not telling anyone anything they don't know, but science fiction has long had a problem with sexism, not only with characterization in the fiction but also in how the authors acted when dealing with female fans and colleagues. Guys like Dick and Heinlein were probably "the best" as far as that goes, but their women characters were flat, uninteresting and generally served little but to be overly concerned with a man and their reactions to him. Even when challenged to write books with a female protagonists, that's how it nevertheless washed out.

 And while there's the occasional flare up of sad bastards who can't handle the idea that their pitiful little boy fantasies of power and competence might be invaded by icky girls, things have gotten better. From Ursula K. Le Guin to Olivia Butler to Connie Willis to N.K. Jemisin, there's a wealth of excellent science fiction coming from female writers. If you miss out, you're probably doing it on purpose and have only yourself to blame.

 I've got some News, because it's a heavy day, but it's over at the WordPress site. Be safe, beloved.

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