Monday, July 28, 2008

No End in Sight (2007)

Documentaries always fill me with conflicting thoughts. I want to believe that the filmmakers have done their job, giving me a balanced view of both sides of whatever subject matter is presented, but I also understand that film, as a visual media, has its limitations and can easily be manipulated, often serving a filmmaker's agenda. I checked out No End in Sight from the library weeks ago, but didn't watch it until it was nearly due to be returned. Since no one else had a hold on it, I renewed it for another three weeks.

I finally watched it last night and was glued to the screen. The film was written, produced and directed by Charles Ferguson, a former Brookings Institution scholar with a doctorate in political science. Ferguson focuses not on the Iraq War of 2003, but its aftermath, what went wrong and why. Lest you think that Ferguson presents only one side of the story, key figures and players in the Bush administration are seen and referred to, often followed by the on-screen text, "_______________ declined (or I think the words were sometimes 'refused') to be interviewed for this film."

Yet Ferguson was successful in interviewing Walter Slocombe, former director of national security and defense in the Coalition Provisional Authority (the U.S. organization responsible for overseeing Iraq's reconstruction and transition to democratic rule). Slocombe's confident demeanor quickly crumbles as the interviewer presents him with facts, figure and quotes from other members of a transition team who were in Iraq far longer than Slocombe. The members of this team, including Barbara Bodine, an experienced Middle East diplomat, Paul Eaton, an Army major general, Seth Moulton, a Marine Corps lieutenant, and Jay Garner, the retired lieutenant general who served as head of ORHA (Organization of Recovery and Humanitarian Assistance). These were people who voluntarily went to work in support of the Bush administration, yet over and over related stories of the administration's lack of planning, poor preparation, blundering decisions, little support or resources and no tangible goals. When confronted with evidence from people who were there, Slocombe stumbles, repeating phrases like "I wasn't aware of that." Sometimes we just see a dumbfounded stare into the camera.

Perhaps Ferguson's charges of the administration's gross incompetence would have been stronger with more Bush supporters on camera, yet what can you say about the fact that so few of them chose to be interviewed?

And what of the images of destruction and looting in Baghdad? What of the footage of dead Americans being dragged through the streets of Fallujah? Yes, images can be manipulated for the purposes of pushing agendas forward, but how can you argue with what you see over and over? It's hard to imagine these images being taken out of context. What other context is there?

No End in Sight is essential viewing, regardless of your political beliefs. If nothing else, it will give you plenty to talk about. What bothers me almost as much as the content of the film is the apparent lack of interest in it. No one I have spoken to has seen the film and most have never even heard of it. (Maybe I'm just talking to the wrong people.) The Anne Arundel County library system owns six copies of it, five of which are currently checked out, so I'm glad I'm not the only one watching. Rent it from NetFlix or Blockbuster. Just see it, even if you never watch documentaries, even if you hate films by Michael Moore (and this is nothing like Michael Moore), even if you never watch movies. See it and talk about it. There's a lot here to talk about.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Rejection and Motivation

Got another rejection letter in the mail yesterday and opened my files to discover that this is Rejection Letter #100.

100 isn't really that many, not when you consider that I've been sending stories out since 2001. I really should have about three or four hundred rejection letters, but I just haven't been sending out much stuff lately. Well, let's be honest here: I haven't been writing as much lately. A lot of things have been happening personally and professionally and I just haven't gotten it done. But I understand that if I'm to get better at writing, I've got to devote more time to it and less time to other things (like maybe blogging?).

Pianist Artur Rubenstein once said something to the effect of: "If I skip a day of practice, I know it. If I skip two days, the orchestra knows it. If I skip three days, the audience knows it." Well, right now I have no audience and no orchestra. I do have two former students from a writing workshop/forum who are keeping me on track with my novel revisions, so I'm very thankful for them. (They're ruthless, I tell ya. Even when they're on vacation, I still get "How's the novel coming?" and "Did you work on your novel today?" messages.)

So I have to keep at it with greater persistence. Thanks, guys, for keeping me on track. Keep up the good work.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Truth is Out There, but I Might Not Have Time for It

The new X-Files movie, The X-Files: I Want to Believe is really calling to me this weekend. I doubt I'll get to see it, what with two library shifts, the Core Reference project and a couple of church activities, but you just never know. Plus I bought Season One on DVD (on-the-cheap, of course) last week and am tempted to watch the entire season again.

Monday, July 21, 2008

What? You Want Me to Turn Off My TV??? And READ???

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (NF 1985, 2005 reprint) - Neil Postman; Penguin, 184 pages.

Just How Stupid Are We?: Facing the Truth about the American Voter (NF 2008) - Rick Shenkman; Basic Books, 210 pages.

It’s important to keep in mind that Postman’s book was first published in the days before plasma TVs, hundreds of channels, DVDs, iPods, iPhones, Xbox and PlayStation gaming systems and the Internet. If what Postman said in 1985 is true, that we really have been dumbed down by television, what does that say for us in 2008 with an even wider array of devices for our amusement?

Postman begins with a brief discussion of two highly influential, possibly even prophetic novels, Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. While Orwell was concerned that people would be deprived of truthful information by those in power, Huxley was concerned that we wouldn’t care about the truth because we’d be too busy being entertained. “Orwell,” Postman says, “feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.”

According to Postman, the Age of Typography began its decline with the invention of Morse code and continued on through radio and television. Yet Postman isn’t saying that changes in media necessarily bring about changes in the structure of the mind or cognitive abilities. “My argument is limited to saying that a major new medium changes the structure of discourse; it does so by encouraging certain uses of the intellect, by favoring certain definitions of intelligence and wisdom, and by demanding a certain kind of content - in a phrase, by creating new forms of truth-telling.”

When the medium changes from word-centered to image-centered, people are given less opportunity to examine and analyze a wide variety of information that runs the risk of being presented out of its original context. It’s also true that information in a print medium can be taken out of context, but with a visually based medium, “facts push other facts into and then out of consciousness at speeds that neither permit nor require evaluation.”

Take the television news, for example. Newscasters present news stories with serious, sometimes urgent attention and concentration, but it isn’t long before someone says, “And now, this...”, signaling that it’s time to focus on the next story, relegating the previous one into the realm of the irrelevant.

Yet television goes to great lengths to assure viewers that by watching, they can learn all they need to know about political figures, especially presidential candidates. This idea is a central focus of Rick Shenkman’s new book Just How Stupid Are We?: Facing the Truth about the American Voter.

According to Shenkman, the average American voter has not absorbed the basic facts about basic political issues. We embrace misinformation and myth, largely because we haven’t gathered the facts and given them careful thought. Has this happened because we watch television more than we read newspapers, or is there more to it than that? What does it say about us when only “1 in 4 Americans can name more than one of the five freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, but more than half of Americans can name at least two members” of The Simpsons?

Is the mythologizing of history to blame? Or is it our reliance on sound bites and thirty-second news clips? And are the newspapers really a more reliable source of information? Can we trust public opinion polls (plus or minus three percent)?

You see it all the time: Democrats pointing fingers at Republicans, Republicans pointing at Democrats, each blaming the other for the current mess we’re in. Yet, as Shenkman states, you never see either side pointing the finger at the American people. The wisdom of the American people (the most informed people in the world, after all) is sacred, not to be questioned.
Shenkman asks,

Why had The People elected to the presidency persons of both political parties wholly lacking in foreign policy experience, and not just once as in the case of George W. Bush, but over and over and over again? Why had The People taken so little interest in international issues that both their media and their leaders felt compelled through the years to limit public debate about foreign policy? Why did The People not pay attention to developments in Afghanistan and the Middle East? And why did they not remember the history of the Middle East - and their country’s role in rearranging the affairs of that region’s countries, putting in power tyrants such as the Shah and conniving to keep in power dictators like Saddam?

Again, we are reluctant to confront our myths. But how can we confront them when we’re surrounded with news of Britney’s custody settlement and Angelina’s twins? Sure, you can find out Obama’s and McCain’s stands on foreign policy, but you might have to dig a little.

Still, Shenkman believes we are not too far gone (or, rather, too far stupid). There is hope and maybe reading Amusing Ourselves to Death and Just How Stupid Are We? is a good first step.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight

There was a time not so long ago when you went to a movie based on a comic book and got your money's worth: action, fighting, explosions, great special effects, cool costumes and gadgets, and an ending promising sequels bound to deliver more of the same "as soon as we can make another one." All that ends with The Dark Knight. You definitely get your money's worth and much, much more.

In Gotham City, Batman (Christian Bale) is both worshiped by imitators and condemned by many as a vigilante. He's so fed up with being the hero that when new District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) comes along, he seems the logical replacement as The Good Guy. While Bruce Wayne's doubts and inner demons stew, along comes the Joker (Heath Ledger), full of twisted games, carnage and anarchy.

At this point, The Dark Knight moves beyond (way beyond) the realm of a summer action movie, venturing into places many moviegoers simply looking for action and special effects may not fully appreciate. Ledger's Joker is about as far from Jack Nicholson's 1989 rendition as you can get. There are what could be construed as "comic moments," but (possibly due to Ledger's tragic death in January) Ledger plays them in such a way that if you do find yourself laughing, all traces of humor quickly vanish into a crevasse of utter despair.

Without giving away too much, the chase and battle scenes (which are excellent) take a backseat to the psychological war waged by the Joker against Batman. A recurring theme in the film is the inevitability of all heroes, given enough time, to become the worst villain imaginable. The Joker knows how to play on Batman's fears and doubts, urging him to give in to chaos and anarchy, the only reasonable choice left to him. This is far more than a clumsy attempt to lure "the noble crime-fighter" over to the Dark Side, it is an examination of ethics and morality in an arena where there are no easy choices, no easy answers. The Joker has made his choice; he has a firm grip on his own twisted philosophical worldview. He's just waiting for Batman to make his. He even taunts Batman at one point with the helplessness of his situation, saying "There's nothing you can do to me."

The Dark Knight is very, very dark indeed, and we're not really talking about cinematography. Filmed mostly in Chicago, director Christopher Nolan's vision of Gotham is frequently grounded in far more realistic tones than Tim Burton's films. When you realize that you're looking at a real city, not some elaborately structured sets that reach up into the clouds, the film just feels darker, grittier. Yet the real darkness occurs inside the minds of the characters, something the writers and director understand very well. The Dark Knight gives you a lot to enjoy visually, but even more to ponder during the drive home and long after you've parked in the garage, turned out the lights and are left with your own reflections on ethics, morality and what it means to be human....or inhuman.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Summertime Blues, More Tomorrow

Things have been pretty busy around here. Cindy and are both taking some time off, trying to tackle several house projects that have been on our "To Do" list for quite some time. Of course, one of those ongoing projects is purging books. Since I shut down the online bookstore a few weeks back, I've moved loads of books.

I'm only throwing one title out there for your consideration. I have three copies of Michael Marshall Smith's More Tomorrow and Other Stories. I'm keeping one of them and will offer the other two copies to the first two friends/acquaintances who respond. They aren't free, but I guarantee you won't have to pay the current price of $44 that they're going for used on Amazon. (At one time used copies were selling for over $200.)

Full Disclosure: These are signed, numbered copies, but they are also ex-library copies with the usual stamps and stickers. They have definitely been around the block; not falling apart, but well-worn. But if all you want is a reading copy, it's not a bad deal. I just don't need three copies.

If you don't know about the book, Tim Lebbon (I believe) wrote an excellent essay about it in Horror: Another 100 Best Books a couple of years back. Again, if you're interested, just let me know.

Update: One copy has been claimed.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Few Quick Weekend Thoughts

Be Kind Rewind (2008) is not a great movie and probably isn't even a good one, but it is charming. Cindy and I saw it last night and enjoyed it despite its many flaws.


On a more sobering note, Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman is an excellent read. You may not agree with Postman's opinions, but he gives you plenty to think about. Also consider that the book was written in 1985 before the Internet, cellphones, DVDs, and most of satellite TV. More on this book later.


Uglies (YA 2005) by Scott Westerfeld is one of the better YA books I've read this year. I enjoyed his Midnighters series, but Uglies is on a higher tier. Westerfeld not only writes a great story, but mixes in some fun sf concepts and examines concepts of image, social structure and much more, all without being preachy. More on this one in the near future also.


Off to wash a car or two and see some old (actually, Matt, you're not that old) college friends in D.C. later. Everybody have a good weekend and stay away from stale firecrackers at those "Buy One, Get Three Free" sales.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Experiencing Thomas M. Disch

Last night a man walked into the library asking for books by Thomas M. Disch, who, as most sf fans know, tragically took his own life last weekend. Our library system owns four Disch titles: Business Man: A Tale of Terror, The Priest: A Gothic Romance, The Sub: A Study in Witchcraft, and the new book, The Word of God: Or, Holy Writ Rewritten.

I was helping another patron while my co-worker helped the man looking for Disch books. By the time I'd finished with my patron, the man had placed requests outside the county for a couple of Disch titles we didn't carry. He also gave my co-worker his name and number, asking if she could find Disch's Casablanca and to see if she could find it for him.

I told her I'd search it for her, and found that "Casablanca" is not a novel, but a short story available on the SCIFICTION classics archive (which I have bookmarked to read later today). We called the patron and told him. He was delighted.

I have to confess that I haven't read Disch, even though I own two of his novels, 334 and Camp Concentration.

I always feel horrible when an important writer has left us and I haven't taken the time to read any of his work. I actually bought both novels years ago, knowing that they are important works in the sf canon, but used the excuse of "Well, I'm just not in the mood to read that right now" as a way of delaying reading something that might make me uncomfortable or challenge my worldview. And that type of thinking is just flat-out wrong.

I'm putting 334 at the top of my reading stack. I'd also challenge you to read something by Disch, especially if (like me) you haven't read him before.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Angels Flight (1999) - Michael Connelly

It's not fair, but I can't help it: Every time I read (or in this case, listen to) one of Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch novels, I visualize Clint Eastwood as Bosch. Maybe that stems from seeing Eastwood in the film Blood Work, which is based on a Michael Connelly novel, albeit a non-Bosch one. I don't care for much of Eastwood's work over the last ten or fifteen years, so maybe I'm trying to recapture the Dirty Harry Eastwood, the "Go ahead, make my day" Eastwood.

Or maybe it's because Bosch, like Eastwood's Dirty Harry, is constantly one thread away from stepping over the line that both he and the reader knows is there, the line separating what you're supposed to do, according to the law, and what you must do to make things right. Walking that thin line is what makes Bosch so interesting as a character. In Angels Flight, Connelly drops Bosch into the middle of a very tricky murder investigation: African American lawyer Howard Elias, famous for suing a long line of LAPD cops for police brutality, has been murdered inside an LA transit train car called Angels Flight. All signs indicate that the murderer was a member of the LAPD and everyone in the city knows it. So why has Bosch, who's not even at the top of the rotation assignment list, been handed the case? And can he solve the case before another riot breaks out?

Early on I feared Angels Flight (1999) might spin out of control, relying too much on a Rodney King-like atmosphere, pushing the reader's emotional buttons too frequently, but Connelly is way too smart to resort to such tactics. Instead, he concentrates on character and procedure, things he knows inside and out, especially where Bosch is concerned. In the three years he was a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Connelly really kept his eyes and ears open. If what he's writing in his novels isn't the real thing, it sure feels like it.

Angels Flight isn't my favorite Harry Bosch novel and it's probably not a good place to start the series (which would be The Black Echo, the first Harry Bosch novel), but it is a good Summer (or any time of the year) read.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Darkside (YA 2007) - Tom Becker: Where Does It Belong?

Darkside (YA 2007) - Tom Becker

In the first book of a proposed series, Becker creates a dark, underground counterpart to the normal, everyday "Lightside" of London, a place full of werewolves, vampires, and garden-variety nasty folk called (you guessed it) Darkside. As the book opens, a young boy named Ricky has been kidnapped and taken to Darkside by bounty hunter Marianne and her henchmen. Marianne delivers him to Grimshaw, the leader of an entertainment exhibition called Beastilia Exotica. But Grimshaw plans a show consisting of jackals eating two boys in front of a live audience. The other boy, Jonathan, discovers that his father has some sort of strange connection to Darkside. Maybe that's why his dad has been living in a mental hospital.... Jonathan makes several discoveries about Darkside and thinks one of his dad's friends, Carnegie, may be able to help. But Jonathan's going to have to travel to Darkside to find him, all the while avoiding capture by Marianne.

Darkside promises an exciting, action-filled read and on those terms, it delivers. But the book (which is in the YA section of our library system) seems better suited to J-Fiction, what I would consider grades 5-7 or maybe even younger. Both the length and vocabulary are on the level of other J-Fiction books I've read, so the only reason I can think of for placing the book in YA is the dark subject matter. Even so, Darkside is not very graphic or bloody, not nearly as much as a book like Joseph Delaney's The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch, which is in our J-Fiction section. Amazon labels Delaney's book as appropriate for ages 9-12. (Apprentice is also about 100 pages longer than Darkside, but page count is probably no longer a deciding factor in where a book should be placed.)

I think Apprentice is in the right place; it belongs in J-Fic. But so does Darkside. Of course YA is a large category and encompasses a broad range of writing and reading levels. It's conceivable that Darkside could be at the lower edge (not in quality, but in reading level) of YA.

And of course, it could be all about selling books. Would the book sell better as YA or as J-Fic?

Which opens up a whole haunted houseful of doors I'm not ready to go into right now. Just something to think about.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

She's Unstoppable!

My Clarion 2004 friend Marjorie M. Liu is unstoppable! Her newest book is called The Iron Hunt, sequel to the novella that appeared in the anthology Wild Thing. You can watch a book trailer (created by another Clarion bud Al Bogdan) here.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

June Books Read

Skin Hunger (YA 2007) Kathleen Duey
Skin Hunger (the first volume in a planned trilogy called A Resurrection of Magic) is narrated by two characters in alternating chapters. Sadina, who communicates with animals, keeps house for an intense, abusive scholar named Somiss, headmaster of a secret school (which is about as different from Hogwarts as you can imagine) where boys learn the forbidden art of magic or die trying. Sadina falls in love with Franklin, an instructor who teaches magic largely through food deprivation. One of Franklin’s students, Hahp (born generations after Sadima) narrates his experiences at the school as he struggles to learn the magic arts before he starves to death.

The connections between the two protagonists remain unclear for a long time, which might frustrate readers. Also many scenes seem to repeat themselves without revealing any new insights into this strange world where magic has been outlawed. Be warned that the book ends abruptly with no apparent resolution. Although two sequels are forthcoming, they will probably need to contain more action than this first volume. Yet even with these potential distractions, the story itself and the strangeness of it kept me reading. Duey has done a fine job of creating an unusual world with unusual rules and plenty of mystery and weirdness.

This is a complex book, but for readers who’ve read the Harry Potter books and are ready for something more challenging, Skin Hunger may be just what they’re looking for.

Brittle Innings (1994) - Michael Bishop
Recommended by my good friend Kelly, this is a wonderful novel about a minor league baseball team in the Deep South during World War II. There is an important (and very well done) speculative element that I won't spoil for you; you'll just have to read the book. But I will say that even without the speculative element, Brittle Innings would be a fine novel. This one may be hard to find, but it's worth the effort.

Kit's Wilderness (YA 1999) - David Almond
13-year-old Christopher Watson (nicknamed Kit) moves with his family to an old English mining town, only to discover that an ancestor with the same name died in the mines. So did the ancestors of several of the young people in the town. Kit discovers that many of these kids gather secretly to play the game of "Death." Kit tries to deal with the death around him, both past and present, and how to escape the drudgery and inevitability of life in a mining town.

The book is far richer (as well as darker) and more interesting than what I've just described. I really can't do justice to describing how good this challenging YA novel is. If you think all YA is formulaic and predictable, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by Kit's Wilderness.

Islam at the Crossroads: Understanding Its Beliefs, History, and Conflicts (NF 2002) - Paul A. Marshall, Roberta Green and Lela Gilbert
I wonder, almost seven years after the awful events of 9/11, how much Americans really know about Islam? On television we sometimes hear the talking heads spout generalizations about the religion and perhaps snippets from the Qur’an. I’m not sure what we read in newspapers and magazines is much more accurate. I can only speak for myself: I’m woefully ignorant of Islam, its history, practices and tenets. But I’m learning.

I picked up Islam at the Crossroads in the hopes that the slim volume would at least get me started in understanding the basics of Islam. At only 113 pages of text (and a few maps), the book certainly isn’t going to be a comprehensive study, but it is a pretty good starting point.

The book begins with a chapter entitled “What Muslims Believe,” which includes the five pillars (practices) of Islam, the six principles (beliefs), the three main types of Islam, and a brief examination between the beliefs of Christianity and Islam. Readers should understand that the examination of beliefs in particular is a general one. Christians (and maybe Muslims as well) will find many points of argument, but again, these are generalizations to give the reader a basis for understanding.

Few things are more important to a Muslim than history. It’s not pleasant to hear, but it’s probably true that the average Muslim knows a lot more about history than does the average Christian. The chapters “Islam’s Earliest Days” and “The Rise and Fall of the Ottomans” trace (again, in a very general way) the history of Islam, focusing on the most important names and places. (Yes, the names can be difficult to keep up with, but the number of them is far from overwhelming.)

“Islam in the Modern World” helps the reader understand the perspectives of moderate and radical Islam, the challenges facing the religion, and how world events in the last hundred years have shaped modern Islam. The authors also focus on how radical Islam is organized, financed and structured.

Islam at the Crossroads is a short, fascinating book that probably just scratches the surface of the Islamic religion. It’s not a perfect work, but as a brief introduction full of confusion and misunderstanding, I recommend it as a starting point.

Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal (YA 2007) - Mal Peet
One of my favorite YA reads of late, discussed here.

Willful Creatures: Stories (2005) - Aimee Bender
Enjoyable collection of stories of modern fantasy, surreal, sometimes a bit twisted, often hilarious, always entertaining. My favorite is "End of the Line" in which a man goes to a pet store, buys a little man in a cage, and does some pretty cruel things to him. Many of the stories reminded me a little of Kelly Link. If you like Link, you might like Bender.

Escape from the Deep: A Legendary Submarine and Her Courageous Crew (NF 2008) - Alex Kershaw
For anyone who thinks that non-fiction is boring, read this and let me know if you still have that opinion. Discussed here.

Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth (NF 2008) - R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

I bought Culture Shift for two reasons: It deals, obviously, with cultural issues and contains a positive blurb by John Piper, one of my favorite Christian writers. My only regret in buying the book is its brevity. At only 160 pages, I felt like I’d been served a salad when I’d walked into a restaurant after a week of fasting.

Mohler begins the book by asking how Christians can remain faithful in a constantly changing culture. Like it or not, culture is inescapable, yet if Christians are to be effective as followers of Christ, we must understand the culture we live in.

Some of the cultural topics Mohler tackles include faith and politics, law, the Supreme Court and religion, terrorism, the War on Terror, education, science, dishonesty, abortion, natural disasters and character. In several instances, Mohler provides the reader with many scriptural references and in others he simply looks at the big picture in light of the general teachings of the Bible. You might not agree with everything that Mohler (president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) writes, but he certainly gives you plenty to think about.

Each of the book’s twenty chapters is fairly short, most ten pages or less. For anyone interested in a brief overview of Christian responses to cultural issues, this is the perfect length, but if you want a more in-depth treatment, you’ll have to look elsewhere. (Mohler does provide several titles of books, magazines and on-line resources.) If you have any interest at all in the Christian’s role in culture, you should pick up this book.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) - Philip K. Dick
Unless you've been living in a maze of subterranean tunnels for the past 30 or so years, you know that the film Blade Runner is based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? But you may not be aware of the differences between the novel and the film. The general story line is the same: Decker, a bounty hunter, is busy tracking down six androids so dangerous they've been banned from Earth. But they're so much like humans, they're hard to detect. From that starting point on, however, a multitude of differences emerge between the book and the film. (Just the film by itself has several different versions, endings, etc., but that's another story for another time.)

You could probably write a dissertation (and maybe someone already has) on the differences between the novel and the film. I won't discuss them here, but if you've only seen the film, you owe it to yourself to experience the richness of the novel. It was hard for me to divorce my reading eye from the visual images from the film (which I've seen many times), but the reward is well worth the attempt. Highly recommended.

(And by the way, anyone who thinks that Philip K. Dick is not worthy to be included in the Library of America series because he wrote sf probably hasn't read Philip K. Dick.)

That's it for June. Get out there and read something.