Oh, Mr. Riddle! Please pick up the white courtesy phone. Mr. Riddle!

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I just finished my 9th book of 2004--The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. I loved it, but was confused by the ending. I was OK through the burning man jaunte through elsewhen--I could not figure out how they were going to explain that burning man that kept appearing, so the explanation was great. And I loved his coming to understand how pointless his revenge had been and what he deserved because of it. But the final trip back to Nomad? That part I couldn't figure. Will he become a prophet? A teacher? A holy man? Or will he stay locked in his contemplation? I know there's probably not an ANSWER for these questions, but what did you think?

Anyway, the rest of the book was a trip! So cool how the rich became less "technologically" adept because it became status to actually have the old means of transportation around. Great thoughts on how the ability to jaunte would change EVERYTHING. We forget how tied together things are.

I don't even really know why I HAD this book--I had gotten it at 1/2 Price
Books for Zteen, probably. My allergies have been wreaking havoc on my sleeping ability, so I was wandering the house and happened upon the book--just after the character Gully Foyle was an answer to last week's Friday Five. I read it in 2 days. It is interesting. I've never considered myself a Sci-Fi fan--about the only SF I have read is the Ender series by Orson Scott Card, and I think that series is genius. Maybe I'll have to try a little more SF?


I have a sort of love/hate thing going with s/f. On the one hand, I love the flights of fancy, the weird and new settings, the interplay of new ideas and questions. On the other hand, I get tired of the usual anti-religion schtick and a certain callous liberalism that peeks through in many authors.

Most of what I really like is science fantasy or straight up fantasy. Although, again, you have to weed out the preposterous and irritating . . . but when you find something good, it's really fun reading.

If you want to read some Catholic science fiction, I suggest reading A Canticle for Leibowitz. Also the book "The Game of Fox and Lion". I have been reading SF at a high volume since 1962 and could suggest some more stuff if you are interested. It is definitely the literature of ideas, but beware that they most cockamanie ideas can be presented so compellingly that one is persuaded to think and do really stupid stuff.

Alicia: I've read A Canticle for Liebowitz as part of my attraction to apocalyptic literature. I liked it very much and recommended it to my book club, but it was a no go. Go ahead with any recommendations--I keep a book list going at all times!

Try C.S. Lewis's sci-fi trillogy (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength). They are interesting early-sci-fi, and Christian.

After Walter Miller, try Gene Wolfe. Besides being one of the best writers active today, Wolfe is also a convert to Catholicism, and it shows in his fiction. _The Island of Dr. Death and Other Stories and Other Stories_ is a good collection to start with. Look also for collections of R.A. Lafferty's stories for some very eccentric, wildly imaginative sf by a Catholic.

By the way, Bester wrote quite a bit more than _The Stars My Destination_. Nearly everything he wrote in the '50's and early '60's is worth tracking down. This includes his first novel, _The Demolished Man_ and such stories as "Fondly Fahrenheit" and "They Don't Make Life Like They Used To." (Later Bester is not as good, and I don't recommend anything from the '70's on.)

Dear Terry,

What Don said. Although The Stars, My Destination is a sentimental favorite, because, in case it didn't come across loud and clear, it is simply a much shorter science fiction retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo--very probably why you might find it engaging.

There are others--Gene Wolfe, R.A. Lafferty, I have a personal liking for Jack Vance and his highly florid prose and interesting societies. But Science Fiction is a very mixed bag with some really great things and some really dreadful. IMO The Stars, My Destination is truly one of the greats--and The Demolished Man is nearly as good although a bit harder to follow.

Anthony Boucher is another you might look up--both Sci-Fi and Mystery fiction. And James Blish, particularly the magnificent A Case of Conscience (more Jesuits in Space), Doctor Mirabilis, Black Easter and The Day After Judgment (Talk about your apocalyptic works!).

But you picked a good 'un to start on.



Also try my dear friend Ann Tonsor Zeddies, whose latest book, Steel Helix, is up for an award this year. She has two others out under the name of Toni Anzetti, Typhon's Children and Riders of Leviathan. In addition providing to inventive, thoughtful plots, she writes beautifully, unlike many SF writers.



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