Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Observations on old books

I like to browse my library from time to time. It’s extensive if you count sheer volume of volumes. It’s a bit light on the classics, though as a former English major and teacher I do have a reasonably healthy collection. But some of the books I treasure most are ones I haven’t read in ages and wouldn’t likely count as classics on any “official” list. But they are to me, because they represent a key time in my youth and an introduction to reading that sparked a flame in me that has never dimmed since.

The first novel that I remember reading – that I can place at a specific time – was the novelization of the movie Clash of the Titans. It was my “sustained silent reading” book for nearly all of fifth grade, which means I read it about eight times when I was ten. I may have read novels before that, but I can’t be sure.

Once I discovered the magic of reading, I bought and devoured novels, first from the Stop and Swap bookstore in Westvale, and later from B. Dalton and Waldonbooks at Camillus Mall. When there was a Camillus Mall. Looking through my collection, I’m amazed at the number of books that were written by Alan Dean Foster. Talk about a professional writer who could crank out the word count, this guy was all over it.

Many of my favorite movies from the late 70s and early 80s were made into novelizations by Mr. Foster. In addition to Clash of the Titans, he wrote the novels for Disney’s The Black Hole, Alien, Aliens, The Thing, Krull, The Last Starfighter, and Alien Nation, most of which I have. He also wrote an early novel in the Star Wars universe, Splinter of the Mind's Eye, which I never really liked, but I have it, too. All told, he’s written some eighty plus novels in the last 35 years. And he’s still going strong. I put Foster alongside Roger Zelazny and Brian Daley for having written some “really good shit” that I enjoyed immensely when I was young. Kudos to these champions of Sci-fi for helping to welcome me into their many stange and wonderful worlds.

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