My Reading History

by cunningstuff

The famous Cat’s Eye Nebula, as visioned by the Spitzer satellite telescope. No imagination needed for this one.

I think, if you are a reader or a writer, what you read is one of the greatest influences you will ever have. I do not remember when I really began to read, but I can tell you what the most important first thing I read was. It was the encyclopedia, that seemingly endless fountain of knowledge. I love knowing a lot about my world, I love thinking about what people are like in other lands. I have never stopped being so curious. I may have mentioned this before, but did you know if you took a box, a very sturdy special box, and emptied it of everything, making a perfect vacuum, that it would still have materials floating in and out of it? I mean really empty it, using all your knowledge, create a perfect vacuum, scrub the walls of hidden and clingy atoms, due to the uncertainty of the quantum world, particles would still be all up in there. Sorry, I resorted to bad english there, but it is true and it is the freakiest thing I have ever heard. Now that kind of knowledge, that is a thing of beauty to me.

Not far behind that my entry into fantasy and science fiction start to ramp up. I find I have a declining interest in television, instead finding the theater that is used inside my head far outweighs the crap television puts out. Don’t get me wrong, I love Monty Python, but I never could tolerate Saturday Night Live. I think one reason was I was in love with the Retief science fiction series by Keith Laumer. He died in 93, and I did actually mourn his passing, though many people did not understand. Retief was the ultimate british officer, set in the future, a dashing daring, hilarious idiot that I loved. I was reading Analog back then as well, and I remember having the issues with a series called “Ender’s Game” by Orsan Scott Card, who funny enough, is a Mormon. Tolkien, who needs no link or introduction, was a perfect read, but so was CS Lewis’s Narnia chronicles. All of this was influential, but nothing like I encountered after I got through the basics.

Glen Cook and Gene Wolfe came onto my reading schedule like a freight train powered by a nuclear missile engine. Glen Cook’s powerful sense of soldier and duty overcame my inhibitions about the self. The jokes are callous, the energy is manly, and he makes me laugh and laugh.  The only women in the books are either super hot, super deadly, or old battle axes, but that’s about what you could expect when you might be in a merc group in the fantasy world, hey what? Gene however, Gene is a font for the mind, and a builder of great imagination. If you have not read Shadow of the Torturer and its imposing fellow titles under The Book of the New Sun series you have literally left you yourself bereft of some of the best writing and language ever used in a book. Cook falls off after about the fourth book in The Black Company, but I think those first four books are beyond extraordinary, they really reveal the fantasy world in way I could grasp as a human, they are almost factual in the settings and characters. You are wandering in this amazing and shifting northland, and it really fires my imagination into overdrive, his style just puts you there. On the other hand, Wolfe is just damnable in his abilities. Severian and Thecla are the most unimaginably real people I have ever met, that are imaginary. The complexity of their twin nature in one person defies and boggles most people’s minds, it really is just this beautiful exercise in human understanding.

Then, and the reason I am writing this, then there is Richard Bach. Right now Richard is fighting for his survival, but we all know he is also doing his best to make the most of it. I do not know whether he will live or die, but I must attest to his influence in my life and thinking. Richard once saved my life. I am to smart for my own good, and I come from an abusive background. I thought I was done, I was probably searching for my excuse to die when I found his book Illusions. I am not going to quote it, I am not going to paraphrase it, I am not going to go off and try to write like he did, but I will state, no other book has ever had the influence that book has had on me. Gene Wolfe is a better writer, Tom Robbins is a better moralist, Kurt Vonnegut is a better introspective journalist, William S Burroughs is of a higher plane of imagination, but none, no matter how much influence, have ever given me the calm, soul healing advice I got from reading Richard. He doth giveth me clean waters to swim in, and healeth my mind with expansion and love.

Richard is in dire straights, *light a candle for him.

So in a nutshell, that is my history of reading. My history of writing is here, everything I have, you have. I intend to be as transparent as they come, with only one exception. I fully intend to be a writer for a living, so any books I publish I will sell, and I will sell my services for those who wish to pay. I am not a capitalist, but at 43, I am trying to put some meat on the table as well as be a the human I want to be. I am not proud of it, but the world is what it is. Also, I left a lot of writers hanging in the dust, Rachel Pollock, CJ Cherryh, grok, many things and influences, but this was personal. I wanted to give you the best I have ever encountered, for personal, not professional reasons. I will be doing some book reviews in the future, none of which were mentioned here, because these few writers are the ones that, eventually, made me want to write. That and the support of my beautiful Everstar, to whom I owe my light and my energy to. Feel free to ask me about any of these, I will tell you what I know.