Friday, May 20, 2016

Boat of a Million Years

I had an unusual experience today while reading. 

But first some contextual history. I was not a big science fiction reader in my teenage years, the usual time for boys to have their sci-fi immersion. Oh sure, I read 1984 and Animal Farm but those are more dystopian political commentary. In college, I read Lord of the Rings but that was fantasy and in the 60s a right of passage. I think Brave New World was assigned in an English Lit. class but reading it did not set the sci-fi hook.

It was not until 1972, when I fell in with the McGovern crowed at the University of Michigan that I discovered science fiction. In truth, it found me or rather a good friend did. In the course of conversation a work of sci-fi came up and it was discovered that I had not only not read it but I had missed the mandatory sci-fi bibliography altogether.

I went home from his house that evening with a small stack of 'required reading.' I still remember the list:

Dune Frank Herbert
Stranger in a Strange Land Robert Heinlein
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress Robert Heinlein
The Foundation Trilogy Isaac Asimov
Childhood's End Arthur C Clarke

Hooked I was. I read the compendium of science fiction over the next several years. However, since the late-70s I have kept up only when 'must read' works of science fiction have appeared; with the exception of finding Kim Stanley Robinson in the early 1990s and reading everything he has written.

Here begins Part Two of my tediously long preface -- I am not much of a re-reader. Few works of fiction get a second pass from me. However, a few days before departing the Berkeley condo in March, someone left an old copy of The Foundation Trilogy on the recycling bench. On impulse I picked it up and got around to reading it while lingering up here in Lake Shastina. Seeing it on my night stand my host mentioned again that he had been trying to find The Boat of a Million Years on audio. 

Weeks later I was hunting for something or another and stumbled on the book cabinet in the garage. Sitting there on top of a row of old sci-fi novels was The Boat of a Million Years by Poul Anderson. The front cover was detached but it was the old oversized version I had read back in 1990.

The years 1989 & 1990 were a bit stressful for me, part of my coping strategy was fiction. Several sci-fi novels were included in my literary escapism, including Poul Anderson's novel about immortals.

I reattached the front cover and put The Boat of a Million Years on the nightstand . . . which leads us back to I had an unusual experience today while reading today.

I'm about 2/3 of the way through the novel and out of the blue I have a complete memory of a conversation with a young woman I was dating in 1989. It was our first date, I had picked her up at her apartment and we had gone to dinner. Afterwards she wanted to see my house in Hermosa Beach. As the home tour passed through the bedroom, she noticed The Boat of Million Years on a pillow. As a sci-fi fan she knew the author but not this, his latest novel.

We talked about science fiction for a few minutes before she abruptly changed the subject.

For over eight years I have kept this blog at least R rated usually PG, unless you are a sensitive conservative, however, the remainder of the story is absolutely X-rated. I apologize to readers who feel deprived by this abridged NSFW ending. Trust me, the memory came back most vividly.

 I wonder where she is today?

[Yes, you know who you are, I will send you the unabridged ending of the story, all you have to do is ask]

1 comment:

Jacob said...

Not looking for the unabridged ending to the story.

But if you are looking for your copies of Dune, The Foundation Trilogy, Stranger in a Strange Land, or Childhood's End: you gifted them to your favorite nephew when he was 13. I still have them, and re-read them from time-to-time (Childhood's End is still the favorite).

Text me for some of the new favorites I have added to the rotation.

Your Favorite Nephew