Today has been a little strange.
Stresses have been building up. Money worries, over work, trying to get the kids up and to school on time, family illnesses, friends in turmoil.
All the normal stuff, just got to me a bit more today for some reason, and has done all week.
So when I left work and saw a long traffic jam I surprised myself with my reaction. Instead of letting it rile me I shrugged and said to myself – OK let’s use the opportunity. So I turned off down a country lane to try to find a short cut across country.
A short cut it was not – a pleasant drive it was. Over some rolling hills with stunning views and down through winding valleys and dark, magical woods. I even got surprised by a juvenile deer jumping out into the road and running, for quite some time, in front of me.
It wasn’t just the pleasantness of the drive that made it such a nice change though – it was the change itself. The fact it was out of routine. So I am carrying on with it by taking time out from study and housework tonight to read something purely trivial.
Gladiator by Philip Wylie
This is nothing to do with the film. Let me explain. I have developed a passion for vintage – even ancient science fiction. I can’t explain why – there is something about it. Maybe the less cynical outlook – though some are still quite dark. Maybe the fact that they were not so aware of the physical limits of the universe so their imaginations were freer. They always seem to me more human than some more modern attempts. I think also I like to see where things have come from.
This one appeals to me on two levels though. It describes the story of a man – who as a result of experiments done by his father – is imbued with great power. His skin is invulnerable and he can leap over buildings, run faster than a train. At one point he asks “is he a man of iron rather than flesh”. In another scene, as a young boy, he lifts a wagon off a man who has been trapped under the axle. His father guides him to be good and responsible with his power but to keep them hidden. All sounding a bit familiar?
Published originally in 1930 – many see this as a huge influence on Superman. I will let you know my own thoughts when I have finished it.
The other delight with this book was it was free. You can get it from Project Gutenberg. Click here is you are interested.
And that was another nice surprise – Last time I looked on the Gutenberg site they had plenty but it was all in plain text form. Now they offer it in all kinds of e-book formats. And furthermore – you can get it delivered direct to your favoured cloud storage – Google Drive, SkyDrive etc.
I can foresee a lot of time browsing their site.
By the way. If anyone else is interested in old Sci-Fi here are a few I have enjoyed – most are free on Amazon.
The Coming Race – by Edward Bulwer
Trips to the Moon – Lucian of Samosata (very ancient – contemporary with Homer).
A bit more modern and not free – but I cannot recommend enough is
Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon. A very original book – with not a single character in it.
Maybe my taste is just weird.