*A Collection of Antiquarian Curios & Relics*
"A good science fiction story should be able to predict not the automobile
but the traffic jam . . ."
1) FUTUREWORLD . . . Much like Hercules lamented slaying his six sons, I was saddened to learn that Frederick Pohl passed away on September 2. Most of my teen geeky science fiction writers have died, and I believe the 93-year-old Mr. Pohl may have been the final holdout. Like Isaac Asimov, I didn't read Frederick Pohl for his scintillating prose or well-developed characters, but instead, I read him for his 'Big Ideas.' His book Gateway (9780345475831) 14.95, which won the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel, had me hooked. Mankind has found a giant hollowed-out asteroid, which was home to hundreds of small spaceships that had been left behind by a long forgotten race called the Heechee. The Gateway Corporation runs an operation that leases the ships out and then rewards the survivors who return with alien artifacts. The only catch is that sometimes the ships leave on one way trips and the pilot has no control over the ship's final destination. It's a bit like playing the lottery. The protagonist relates his story to a Sigmund Freud AI in therapy, and an Einstein AI would appear in later books of his Heechee Saga. Dan Simmons would later use this technique effectively with a John Keats AI in his own Hyperion Cycle. Mr. Pohl was also the only winner of the ill-fated National Book Award for Sci-Fi with his novel, Jem (9781857987898) 14.95. He also acquired and edited Samuel Delaney's brilliant book, Dhalgren (9780375706684) 18.00, which should be worth some kind of award in of itself. Whether as an author, editor, agent, or just as a plain ol' fan, Frederick Pohl personified science fiction and he will never be replaced. Finally, I find Pohl's First Law to be as apropos today as it was then: "No one is ever ready for anything."
2) WESTWORLD . . . Speaking of sci-fi, I just watched Tom Cruise's Oblivion and it was good. As my wife stated, "It's not destined to be a classic, but it was worth a $2.80 rental." So this leads us into another starring role vehicle for Mr. Cruise with the latest Jack Reacher novel, Never Go Back (9780385344340) 28.00, which released yesterday. Everybody loved Tom Cruise in the first Jack Reacher movie (Ha!) that I'm sure there will be many more to come. This leads us to Pohl's Second Law: "Nothing is so good that somebody, somewhere will not hate it."
3) BEYOND WESTWORLD . . . John U. Bacon's last bestselling book was Three and Out (9781250016973) 17.00, which chronicled The Champions of the West's football program during the Rich Rodriguez regime. John's back and this time he's tackling the larger subject of the college football world in Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football (9781476706436) 26.99. And don't even get me started on Johnny Manziel . . .
Odds & Sods
Oprah's taken a break from purchasing $38,000 purses in Switzerland to star in her latest blockbuster, The Butler. We have the book the movie is kinda of based on The Butler (9781476752990) 18.00 by Wil Haygood back in stock. I don't know if it's just me, but I find the whole idea that a handbag could even cost that much repugnant . . .
In further Oprah news, Ms. Winfrey gifted a copy of Michael Singer's Untethered Soul (9781572245372) 16.95 to Lindsay Lohan during her interview a few weeks back. Hopefully, this will prevent Ms. Lohan from becoming a tethered soul in the future . . .