Pixel Scroll 1/3/21 Short Pixels Have No Reason To Scroll

(1) DAVID WEBER UPDATES. His fans are keeping each other abreast of the progress of David Weber’s COVID treatment.

  • Ralston Stahler quoted Weber’s update about the first day in the hospital:
David Weber

From David Weber

Well, they just admitted me to the hospital Covid floor. O2 level had fallen to about 83%. Got it back up to 88 or so, but still not good and the fever was spiking again. So our lovely daughter Morgan Rice-Weber drove her dads butt to the ER, where they told me there was a 95% chance they’d keep me. I sent her on home, they hooked me up to an IV, and told me they are going to pretty much blast me with everything they’ve got, including steroids, plasma, and all that other stuff. Got here about 3:30, I think, but it was closing in on 7 before they could find me a bed. SUPER nurses, and everyone is taking really good care of me.

Fever has broken, O2 level is up to 95%, but they don’t like the chest X-rays, so I’m pretty sure they’ll be keeping me for a bit.

I am feeling a LOT better, and the girls are keeping an eye on Sharon Rice-Weber to make sure she’s watching HER O2.

Update: copied from Mr Weber’s post: Therapy proceeding. We’re on top of the fever; the high blood pressure looks like it’s under control; hydration levels look good. Still having trouble keeping the O2 up. They’ve got me on a pressure setting of 6, and I’m still dropping into the upper 80s whenever I move around. Takes a minute or two to get back up to the 90s once I’m back off my feet. Problem seems to be getting the lung function up to speed again. I’m confident we’re moving in the right direction, but it’s gonna take however long it takes.

(2) INSTANT WINNER. Nghi Vo on Twitter:

(3) THE RULE OF THREE. Fansided’s Daniel DeVita reports on an opinionated Patrick Rothfuss livestream: “Kingkiller author Patrick Rothfuss decries ‘the George R.R. Martin effect’”.

Kingkiller Chronicle author Patrick Rothfuss can’t get into The Wheel of Time, praises George R.R. Martin but not his imitators, and HATES The Witcher….

…At one point, someone in the stream notes that fantasy authors seem to be in a competition with each other to have as many characters as possible, which is true. Rothfuss thinks he knows how this trend got started:

“I think of that as the George Martin effect. Where Martin is an author who has a ton of craft under his belt — he’s been writing for ages in many different ways — and he started Game of Thrones, and all of those books had multiple point-of-view characters to achieve a specific effect in this huge world-spanning story he was telling, and he had the craft to pull it off. And then everyone’s like, ‘I wanna do a Game of Thrones, too.’ And I’m like, ‘No, you can’t, it’s too many characters, you’re not that good.’ And you certainly don’t get that many point-of-view characters. Here’s the rule: if you’re starting a novel, you can have three point-of-view characters, and that’s it. And you probably shouldn’t have that many.”

Rothfuss also talks about Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series (he enjoyed the first two books but eventually dropped it) and touched on the work of Brandon Sanderson, who finished off The Wheel of Time after Robert Jordan died and has several long multi-volume fantasy stories of his own. “I’d read a lot of Brandon Sanderson’s books, for a while I’d read most of them. But now, he’s got so many, he just writes so much, I’m far behind.”

(4) LOOKING AHEAD. Paul Eisenberg interviews members of the Chicago Worldcon 2022 committee: “Landmarks: With an eye toward the future, new year a good time to consider the literature of ideas — especially those of science fiction” in the Chicago Tribune.

…While other gatherings of fans, such as Chicago’s C2E2, are run by businesses and are profit-driven enterprises (albeit still very fun, Levy said), events such as Chicago’s Worldcon, specifically called Chicon 8, are run by volunteers and financed solely by attendees, known as members.

Chicago’s bid, which overwhelmingly won over a bid from Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, was awarded at the virtual 2020 Worldcon, which had been slated to be in Wellington, New Zealand. The 2021 event had previously been awarded to Washington, D.C. There’s no word as of yet if the 2021 event will be an in-person gathering.

The pandemic permeates all things these days, and even events rooted firmly in the imagination are not immune. But being immersed in a style of literature that offers ideas and different perspectives is a plus when it comes to dealing with the mundane and often depressing details of life in the time of the novel coronavirus….

(5) NOW THAT YOU MENTION IT. Just stuff a person reading the Wikipedia could come across on any random day, don’t ya think? 

(6) VASTER THAN TOMES. Listchallenges confronts readers with a checklist of “100 ‘Big Fat Books Worth the Effort’”. Cliff, who sent the link, scored 19 on this one. I scored 20/100.

(7) RING IN THE NEW YEAR. Yahoo! Entertainment ups your trivia IQ with “JRR Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’: 15 Facts About ‘Fellowship of the Ring’”. Here are two —

…Christopher Lee is the only member of the cast or crew to have met Tolkien. In fact, Lee mentioned in the extended cut commentary for “Fellowship” that Tolkien had given him his blessing to play Gandalf in any potential film adaptation of “LOTR.” But when Lee auditioned for Gandalf, he was asked to play Saruman instead, as it was believed he was too old to play Gandalf. Lee accepted the role, but agreed that Ian McKellen was right for Gandalf.

Viggo Mortensen initially didn’t have much interest in playing Aragorn, but took the role after his Tolkien-loving son, Henry, pleaded for him to accept the role. After learning more about Aragorn, Mortensen viewed the character’s sword as the key element to his character and carried it with him at all times during filming, even when he was not on set….


  • January 3, 1993  — Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered in syndication. The fourth spin-off of the original series (counting the animated run) was the first developed after the death of Roddenberry, created by Rick Berman and Michael Piller. It starred Avery Brooks, René Auberjonois, Terry Farrell, Cirroc Lofton, Colm Meaney, Armin Shimerman, Alexander Siddig, Nana Visitor and Michael Dorn. It would run for seven seasons and one hundred and seventy-six episodes. It would be nominated for two Hugo Awards but wouldn’t win either. 


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born January 3, 1892 J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ll admit that to this day I much prefer The Hobbit to The Lord of The Rings. There’s a joy, a pleasure in that novel that I just don’t get in the trilogy. I’m currently listening to the Andy Serkis narration of The Hobbit which I highly recommend. (Died 1973.) (CE) 
  • Born January 3, 1898 – Doris Buck.  A score of short stories, including “Cacophony in Pink and Ochre” long announced as part of The Last Dangerous Visions so not yet published; as many poems.  Mostly in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.  Founding member of SFWA (now Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and on the first Nebula ballot.  Anthologized by Knight, Silverberg, Biggle.  (Died 1980) [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1930 – Stephen Fabian, age 91.  Radio & radar in the Air Force, then twenty years’ electronics engineering while active as a fanartist, then pro career (self-taught) while continuing fanart.  Here is Progress Report 3 for Noreascon I the 29th Worldcon.  Here is SF Review 29.  Here is SF, a Teacher’s Guide & Resource Book.  Here is the Dec 74 Galaxy.  Here is Refugees from an Imaginary Country, hello Darrell Schweitzer.  Several artbooks e.g. Women & Wonders (using his cover for The Dragon of the Ishtar Gate).  Three hundred forty covers, fourteen hundred twenty interiors.  Dungeons & Dragons artwork 1986-1995.  World Fantasy Award for life achievement.  [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1937 Glen A. Larson. Triple hitter as a producer, writer and director. Involved in Battlestar GalacticaGalactica 1980The Six Million Dollar Man, Manimal (no, really don’t ask), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and Knight Rider. He also was responsible for Magnum, P.I. which I love but I’ll be damned if I can figure anyway to claim that’s even genre adjacent thought I think one of you will figure a way. He also did a lot of Battlestar Galactica novels, some with Ron Goulart. (Died 2014.) (CE) 
  • Born January 3, 1940 Kinuko Y. Craft, 81.  She is a Japanese-born American painter, illustrator and fantasy artist. True enough. So why is she here?  Because she had an amazing run of illustrating the covers of the Patricia McKillip novels until quite recently. I’m linking here to our review at Green Man of The Bards of Bone Plain for a favorite cover of mine she did. There’s a slim volume on Imaginosis called Drawings & Paintings which collects some of her work which Green Man reviews here. (CE)
  • Born January 3, 1945 – Mark Owings.  Bibliographer.  Index to the Science-Fantasy Publishers (with Jack Chalker) 1966, rev. 1991 then thirteen supplements.  Blish, Heinlein, Lovecraft, Pohl, Russell, Schmitz, Simak, Williamson.  Our Gracious Host’s appreciation here.  (Died 2009) [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1947 Patricia Anthony. Flanders is one damn scary novel. A ghost story set in WW I, it spooked me for nights after I read it and I don’t spook easily having died over and over. Highly recommended. James Cameron purchased the movie rights to  her Brother Termite novel and John Sayles wrote a script, but the movie has not been produced. (Died 2013.) (CE)
  • Born January 3, 1951 – Rosa Montero, age 70.  Daughter of a bullfighter, active in protests that eliminated killing of the bull, however traditional, in the centuries-old Toro de la Vega at Tordesillas.  Thirty books, two for us in English.  Spring Novel prize, Cavour Prize, two Qué Leer prizes.  [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1974 – Arwen Dayton, age 47.  Six novels for us.  Resurrection an Amazon Kindle Best-Seller.  Stronger, Faster, More Beautiful won Kirkus Best Young Adult SF, Wall Street Journal Best SF.  Has read The Sirens of Titan, Bleak HouseThe Door Into SummerThe Illustrated ManSense and Sensibility.  [JH]
  • Born January 3, 1975 Danica McKellar, 46. From 2010–2013 and since 2018, she’s voiced Miss Martian in the Young Justice series. It’s just completed its fourth season and it’s most excellent! She’s done far, far more voice work than I can list here, so if you’ve got something you like that she’s done, do mention it. (CE)
  • Born January 3, 1976 Charles Yu, 45. Taiwanese American writer. Author of the most excellent How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe and the short-story collections, Sorry Please Thank You and Third Class Superhero. His novel was ranked the year’s second-best science fiction novel by the Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas — runner up for the Campbell Memorial Award. (CE) 
  • Born January 3, 1978 – Dominic Wood, age 43.  Magician (the theatrical-art kind) and author.  Int’l Brotherhood of Magicians’ Shield for Sleight of Hand.  Co-presenter of Brainiac’s Test-Tube Baby.  Three BAFTA (Brit. Acad. Film & Television Arts) awards.  Dom and the Magic Topper is ours; the protagonist although named Dominic is a child, and although a theatrical-art magician has a top hat that really is magic; see here.  [JH]


  • Today I discovered R.E. Parrish:

(11) CIRQUE DE SOUL. Leonard Maltin reviewed Soul and thought it was a provocative film but one he wished he could like more than he did. “’Soul’ Tackles The Big Questions”.

…I feel like an ingrate as I complain about a mainstream Disney release that doesn’t talk down to its audience, a Trojan horse of philosophizing packaged as shiny entertainment. But as much as I was intrigued by Soul, I didn’t actually enjoy the experience. I watched it with my family and we all had different reactions.

I would be foolish and narrow-minded if I didn’t applaud the effort and artistry that went into this film. How lucky we are that a studio like Pixar exists, unafraid to tackle complex and challenging ideas within the mainstream movie industry. I just wish I liked their new movie better. 

(12) REVERSING HIS POLARITY. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Pedro Pascal about his twin roles as villain Maxwell Lord in Wonder Woman 1984 and as the lead in The Mandalorian. “For Pedro Pascal, this is the way to play a ‘Wonder Woman’ villain when you’re also the coolest hero in the galaxy”.

…[In WW84] To help match his antenna-transmitted ambition, Pascal was asked to shave off his trademark swashbuckling mustache that has followed him through roles in “Game of Thrones,” “Narcos” and the Star Wars universe in the rare moments he can take off his Mandalorian helmet (which he did for the second time in the series in the episode that aired on Dec. 11). Pascal is adamant the facial hair removal was real and not the digital disaster that was Henry Cavill’s lip service in the widely panned “Justice League.”…

(13) WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY. A New York Times Magazine writer offers “A New Theory About the Monolith: We’re the Aliens”.

…The mystery of who created the monolith may never be solved. If we accept that it was a guerrilla art intervention, it was clearly successful, seizing public attention in ways a commissioned work never could. Weeks after the structure vanished, monolith fever has not abated, with copycats springing up across the U.S. and around the globe, from Romania to Morocco to Paraguay. Their spread so captivated social media that many wondered whether the world was falling for a viral marketing campaign.

But the appeal of the monolith touches deeper depths than the usual dopamine hits of the viral internet. In an age of GPS mapping and Google Earth, we may feel that the planet has been demystified, down to the centimeter — that there is no more unsurveilled terrain. The appearance of a monolith in a hinterland is a satisfying reminder that the world remains very large. It is still possible for an artist, or a prankster, or an artist-prankster, to slip undetected into the backcountry and leave something weird and alluring behind. Online detectives studying Google Earth figure the pillar was installed around 2016, which would mean that it’s possible for a weird, alluring thing to remain hidden for years, a secret shared only with passing bighorn sheep.

(14) WILL MINDS BE CHANGED? Essence of Wonder takes up the question “What Would Convince You a Miracle Is Real?” hosted by Alan Lightman with Rebecca Goldstein and Edward Hall. On Saturday, January 9, at 3:00 PM US Eastern Time. Register here.

In this discussion with philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein, philosopher of science Edward Hall (Harvard), and physicist and novelist Alan Lightman (MIT), we will consider the question of the role of experiment in science and how that feature separates science from the humanities. We will also discuss the strong commitment of scientists to a completely lawful universe.

This latter issue could be framed as a question: What would it take to convince a scientist that some phenomenon was a miracle — that is, could not be explained, even in principle, to lie within the laws of nature?

For most scientists, the answer is NOTHING. Yet surveys repeatedly show that 75% of the American public believes in miracles. Why this marked discrepancy between the beliefs of scientists and nonscientists?

(15) A DUNE GRAPHIC NOVEL. BBC Science Focus Magazine has a substantial excerpt of art pages from the “Brian Herbert Dune graphic novel, An extract from the new retelling”.

The original Dune, penned by science fiction writer Frank Herbert, was published in 1965, and it quickly became one of the best-selling sci-fi novels of all time. Countless writers have cited his series as inspiration, including his son, Brian Herbert.

The story has been adapted for several films over the years, as well as games, comic books and spin-off books.

Ahead of its return to the big screen (again) next year, we’re taking a look into the recently published Dune: The Graphic Novel.

Created by Herbert’s son, Brian, and science fiction writer Kevin J Anderson, Dune: The Graphic Novel depicts the epic adventure that unfolds on the desert planet Arrakis in stunning illustrations.

What follows is an extract from the new book, where we take flight across the desert with the Duke, his son, and planetologist Dr Kynes…

[Thanks to Jim Meadows, Cliff, John Hertz, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Soon Lee.]

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69 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 1/3/21 Short Pixels Have No Reason To Scroll

  1. (1) More good news, please.

    (5) Your typical everyday author relationship.

    (9) Happy Birthday to the Professor!

    (10) Teehee (though Lewis did not consider Narnia to be allegory).

  2. (6) 22 or 23/100, and some other are on Mt TBR. (They picked one of Austen’s shorter novels. “Emma” is more of a doorstop.)

    (1) I hope the news continues to be good – this is a very nasty virus.

  3. (1) Best wishes to David Weber. Good that things are trending in the right direction.

    (15) That version of Arrakis ‘thopter reminds me of the Pkunk from Star Control 2. Or is it just me?

    BTW, thank you for Title Credit!

  4. Cat Eldridge: If I’m ever going to score well on one of these book lists, it’s going to have to include all the novels of Louis L’Amour, Bernard Cornwell, Lee Child, Robert Crais, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy Sayers, and Rex Stout, plus E.E. Smith, Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Michael Moorcock… Not sure what we’d call that list.

  5. 6) 32/100. But that includes a couple of omnibus editions where I believe I have read all of their contents elsewhere. And the Arabian Nights translation I read is the relatively short Husain Haddawy one.

  6. 6) 12 out of 100 for me, too, and in what world is The Odyssey a “fat book”?

    14) It seems there must be some sliver of middle ground where people such as myself can reside, where despite never having seen a “miracle” nor having any particular reason to believe one it possible, we nonetheless don’t believe it impossible that such a thing as a miracle might happen.

    I don’t believe that because I think miracles are possible; I believe it because I am absolutely certain that me being wrong is possible. 😉

  7. Mike Glyer says to me: If I’m ever going to score well on one of these book lists, it’s going to have to include all the novels of Louis L’Amour, Bernard Cornwell, Lee Child, Robert Crais, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy Sayers, and Rex Stout, plus E.E. Smith, Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Michael Moorcock… Not sure what we’d call that list.

    Oh now that is a list that I’d do fine at!

    Indeed I was just beefing up my Winter reading stock the other week with many of them as I filling out my iBooks library with a lot of mysteries from those authors.

  8. 6) 24/100 or maybe 24.5 — I haven’t read the complete Poe, but I did read a fair amount back in the day.

  9. (6)

    I am shocked to say that I’ve read 32/100 (and DNFed a few others). But I will say firmly that some of those 32 were rubbish.

  10. (5) It saddens me that if Philip K Dick were alive today that he would likely get consumed by QANON conspiracies but on the other hand he’d probably find a way to make them a lot more interesting.

  11. (6) And, in a race to the bottom … 3 of 100 read, 1 on Mt. TBR; while I’ve heard of several of the remainder, I must plead budget (or rather lack thereof).

  12. 6) 31/100. But it seems like cheating to call a bound-together “complete works” or a series of novels a “fat book” in its own right… and several of them aren’t fat books by my standards at least (Jane Eyre is hardly a wrist-breaker, for one.)

  13. 6) 34 for me – I read a lot of classics in high school since the library had a lot of them.

    13) the monoliths have been a highlight of 2020

  14. 28!

    I want to see a list of “the top 1000 books that have appeared in at least one of these challenges”. I don’t think they could do it.

  15. 6) 37, and another 5 or 6 DNFed, and a few more, unread, buried somewhere deep in the scree of Mount TBR.

  16. 9) There was an episode of The Wonder Years where the protagonist imagined himself, his friends, and Winnie Cooper into “Spock’s Brain”. Does that count as genre-adjacent?

  17. 33/100 on the list. I didn’t count the complete Poe, though I’ve read a fair amount by him; I did count Sherlock Holmes even though I haven’t read absolutely all of them. As usual several on the list that made me scratch my head: none of Jane Eyre, Mansfield Park, or The Shining are really all that long.

    BTW, Mike: item 14 is missing an end blockquote tag, so item 15 has gotten sucked into it. (Surprised nobody has mentioned that yet.)

  18. 6) 19 including some of my favorites like Dune and House of Leaves.
    Putting Avalon on the list is quite tone-deaf though, condidering the author.

    I will never gonna scroll again. Guilty pixels got no rythm.

  19. Well, 40 of the “books”, that’s pretty low, in my opinion. 20 more on the shelves…

    Really hate these lists… and, as you know, it’s not about size…

  20. @Lis – lol, right!? In actual fact, it’s one of my favourites, although definitely not to everyone’s taste.

  21. Dear Mr. Lewis: I’m afraid I had no idea who the lion was supposed to be–and I probably didn’t react the way you wanted when it was explained to me, but let’s not get into that!

    Best wishes.

    Casually Comics just did an entertaining little piece on the fascinatingly tangled history of Maxwell Lord. I’m pretty familiar with the concept of retconning, but some of the changes this guy has been through boggled even me! I mean, it’s not so shocking that he started as a good guy (with no powers!), but did you know he was once a cyborg?

  22. I got 40 – but then many of them were read in an epic 24 hour cram for a history of the English Novel class.
    I’d not read any of the assigned novels, having been more interested in publishing my fanzine, going to cons, writing for the newspaper and trying to launch a literary magazine at the school when, all of a sudden, here comes the end of semester test.
    I commandeered the lounge, put on a pot of coffee, grabbed the books and started speed reading.
    I ACED that exam.
    But of course, other than the titles, I hardly remember anything about the books.

  23. @Steve Wright it seems like cheating to call a bound-together “complete works” or a series of novels a “fat book” in its own right

    I’m tempted to make an argument about Tolkien, “secondary creation”, and a fannish tendency to put the world before the text… but I see they managed to count each volume of Game of Thrones as a separate book.

    (I scored 9, plus another 9 I started but didn’t finish.)

  24. @MixMat: I meant that “Foundation and Empire” and “Second Foundation” are better written than “Foundation” – there’s certainly some good stories in “Foundation” but there are some clunky bits too (particularly in “The Traders”), while “F&E” and “Second Foundation” are really solid (all IMHO).

  25. Sophie Jane says I’m tempted to make an argument about Tolkien, “secondary creation”, and a fannish tendency to put the world before the text… but I see they managed to count each volume of Game of Thrones as a separate book.

    I treat series as just single works, so the Game of Thrones Gets counted just once as would The Lord of The Rings. Conversely I treat Dune seperately as most people have in the general public have only read that novel, not the entire series.

    Now playing: “Shadow of Time” by Nightnoise

  26. @6, 32-2/3 for me. I got about two thirds through Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum and lost interest. Just never bothered to finish it.

    If they’re looking for big fat books, they should look at David Weber, whom I sincerely hope is recovering well… but who really, really needs an editor to take a hacksaw to his most recent novels. <wry grin>

  27. I got as far as discovering that the compiler thought The Da Vinci Code and Atlas Shrugged were both “worth the effort” and decided it wasn’t worth the effort to see how many of their hundred I had read, because if whoever put that together has standards other than length, I’m pretty sure I don’t share them.

  28. Vicki Rosenzweig says I got as far as discovering that the compiler thought The Da Vinci Code and Atlas Shrugged were both “worth the effort” and decided it wasn’t worth the effort to see how many of their hundred I had read, because if whoever put that together has standards other than length, I’m pretty sure I don’t share them.

    I read Atlas Shrugged for University decades back. I found it a long, boring and terribly uninteresting work that I was glad to see the backside of.

  29. @Cat Eldridge I treat series as just single works, so the Game of Thrones Gets counted just once as would The Lord of The Rings.

    I think it depends on the series. Lord of the Rings, or Book of the New Sun are best treated as one book in several volumes. Narnia is a bunch of loosely connected books. Dune is a standalone novel with several sequels. Earthsea is three loosely connected books followed by several commentaries and re-evaluations.

    The argument, which I think I believe in, is that a certain kind of fannish reading – the kind that cares about consistency and wants everything to have an explanation, or at least a reason – treats the text as a mere window on the setting, which in some sense exists behind or beyond it. And I think that originates with Tolkien and the idea that worldbuilding – “secondary creation” – is the ultimate goal of the artist.

  30. 6). Twenty, mostly genre, but supplemented by three John Irving works. Let me concur on criticisms of these lists for their inconsistency and (at best) arguable titles.

  31. 6)-59/100

    Not as good as I typically do on such lists, but I own seven others waiting to be read and there are a few others (like two of King’s more recent doorstops) I want to read but don’t own.

    I’ve the Complete Poe and the Doyle Sherlock Holmes more than once over my life. I reread Holmes every five years or so, with intentions to tackle them again this year.

    I wouldn’t read The Davinci Code with a gun to my head.

  32. As silly as most listicles are, I like Mike’s notion of a Mike’s List. My variation would be a List of Writers One Has Read All Of, with the qualifier for living artists of (So Far, and 90% Is Close Enough). I’d even add another condition: a start date of, say, 1900. (That simplifies things for those of us with graduate degrees in literature. I mean, I’ve read all three variants of Piers Plowman but I don’t think that’s particularly indicative of my leisure-reading preferences.)

  33. (6) 20, although I think a couple of them might have been in abridged editions. A fun twist on this list would be, say, old SFBC omnibuses.

    (10) Hah, the first time I read Narnia was as a Jewish kid who hadn’t been exposed to Christian theology yet. Still a fun read (except The Last Battle, that was just weird) but I definitely missed most of the allegory.

  34. Many years ago, I met Dan Brown when he was doing a signing at my favorite bookstore, which at the time had the added advantage of being walking distance from both my home and my work. I somehow succumbed to buying a signed copy of what I believe is his first book, Angels and Demons.

    I read the first few pages, and already had five or six items that were just, this guy didn’t do even a basic google search on basic facts. I really need to stop reading this. It’s so bad!

    After just a few more pages, because I want to know what he does with this nonsense…

    And so through the entire book. It’s terrible, and yet a really compelling page-turner. By the end I was wondering how many other egregious errors I was missing because they were outside my area of knowledge, and yet, I couldn’t stop until I knew what happened.

    I’ve never picked up another Dan Brown novel, but it has never surprised me that they’re so popular, nor I doubt the people who think they’re “really great.” If you’re looking for an exciting page-turner, and aren’t as aware of or as sensitive to factual errors as many sf fans are, they are, indeed, great. They deliver the page-turning entertainment they promise.

  35. 6) Oscar Wilde said of these sorts of lists that it would be best to divide up books into THREE lists, not just one:

    Books to read
    Books to re-read
    Books not to read at all

    The third class is by far the most important. To tell people what to read is, as a rule, either useless or harmful; for, the appreciation of literature is a question of temperament not of teaching; to Parnassus there is no primer and nothing that one can learn is ever worth learning. But to tell people what not to read is a very different matter, and I venture to recommend it as a mission to the University Extension Scheme.

    Indeed, it is one that is eminently needed in this age of ours, an age that reads so much, that it has no time to admire, and writes so much, that it has no time to think. Whoever will select out of the chaos of our modern curricula ‘The Worst Hundred Books,’ and publish a list of them, will confer on the rising generation a real and lasting benefit.

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