No, I’m not narcissistic. That’s a line from a Bette Midler movie that has stuck with me like a popcorn husk between molars, for some reason. (Quiz: Which movie?)
This blog is precisely two weeks old today. I’m coming up on 300 site hits, and I’ve got a couple of readers who return and spend some time. I’ve got a little bit of linkage already. I’ve put up some pretty serious stuff, and some pretty silly stuff, and some funny stuff. Hopefully it’s been enough to give you an idea of the personality sitting on the other side of the glowing phosphors or oscillating liquid crystals banging this stuff out. I thought I’d spend a few minutes fleshing out some details about moi, your gentle host.
I’m 41. I spent most of my life being 35, so it was kind of a relief actually hitting that age chronologically. Then I hit 40. 40 hit back. I’m married, have been coming up on eight years. I have a daughter (step), 24, and two grandkids, 4 (girl) and 3 (boy). They all live here with us. (Those three years of just me and my wife are but a distant, glimmering memory now…)
I am who I am, I think, primarily because of reading. I feel pity for people who don’t or won’t or can’t read for pleasure. Short of a bodice-ripper, I don’t think there’s a book out there that can’t teach you something. (Oh, wait. Battlefield Earth…No, that taught me never to read L. Ron Hubbard again.) My primary influence was Science Fiction. At about 12, I discovered The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. I, and I was never the same kid again. I went for SF, and I found Robert Anson Heinlein.
Exposing a pre-pubescent to R.A. Heinlein is a dangerous thing. Especially when you set him up with things like Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, and The Menace From Earth, and then you hit him between the eyes with Starship Troopers and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. And then follow those with Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love. Anything that man wrote, I read. Even his crap was better than most people’s best work.
But I also read Asimov, Clarke, Poul Anderson, Theodore Sturgeon, Robert Silverberg, James Blish, Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, Ben Bova, Alan Dean Foster, Piers Anthony… Many more. It’s called “speculative fiction” for a reason. It awoke, or at least encouraged, an interest in how things work – from cars to guns to computers to governments. But Heinlein’s responsible for my politics. I found Henry Louis Mencken and P.J. O’Rourke much later. By then the foundation had set.
I’m not a Libertarian, though. Nor am I a Republican or a Democrat (though that’s what my voter registration says – I like screwing with their primaries.) I’m sure as hell not a Green. I don’t “affiliate.” I figure that anyone willing to run for elective office should be immediately disqualified. At least, anyone willing to run for national office. I’ve forgotten who said it, but someone did: “Anyone who rises to the level of national politics is either a cutthroat or a useful idiot.” Or both. The ones that are both are the really dangerous ones.
My politics and my personal philosophy are also based in the works of two other writers: John D. MacDonald, and Robert B. Parker. Their characters of Travis McGee and Spenser, which I read through my adolescence, resonated with my personal sense of rightness and honor, socially responsible independance: in short – morality.
Since this is becoming a bibliography, I thought I’d throw in a list of my favorite books. The order is not absolute, but generally accurate:
1. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
, Robert A. Heinlein
2. Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. I, Edited by Robert Silverburg
3. Dune, Frank Herbert – possibly the most finely constructed novel I have ever had the pleasure to read.
4. Understanding Physics, Isaac Azimov (non-fiction) – A trilogy, excellent for a high-school student. Clear explanations of basic physics for the layman.
5. The Past Through Tomorrow – A Future History, Heinlien, a collection of his short stories tied together.
6. Barrayar, Lois McMaster Bujold. Hell, ANYTHING she writes with Miles Vorkosigan in it, but Barrayar has one of my favorite scenes.
7. Asimov’s Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology:, Isaac Asimov – a chronological compilation of short biographies of history’s greatest scientific thinkers.
8. 1632, Eric Flint – If you consider yourself a patriotic American, this book is a helluva romp. And an interesting history lesson.
9. The Deed of Paksennarion, Elizabeth Moon. This is a fantasy, which I don’t read a great deal of, and the story drags a bit in the middle, but the ending redeems it. Wholly.
10. The General, David Drake. A five-part series that I’ve re-read probably ten times.And that’s the SHORT list. At present, I’ve got something like 1,000 books in the house, and that’s only because I had to get rid of 400 or so because I had no more space to store them (kids, you know.)
I’m a shooter. I don’t hunt, though I might eventually do some varminting. I like to go to the range with two or three guns and spend the day shooting. I like hitting small things far away, and many things fast up close. I reload, so I can afford to shoot. I still don’t get to shoot as much as I’d like, and now blogging has cut seriously into my reloading time, but it’s worth it. Blogging’s cheaper, I’ll give it that.
Oh well, enough for now. I might expand on this later, or I might not. That’s what blogging is about.