The Top 50
I’ve read 37 of the 50. Glad to see that To Your Scattered Bodies Go made the list. It’s the type of book that convinces you to pick up anything the author has ever put his name to, and that’s a crap load of books when it comes to Philip Jose Farmer. And it’s a cool title, right up there in my mind with Pohl’s Beyond the Blue Event Horizon. I’d seen the list yesterday but was reminded about it when I ran across it again at the VikingPundit’s place.
If you count the books I own, rather than the ones I’ve just read, I’d probably be up to around 45 out of 50. I’ve got several of the Bester and Delany books in paperback, or will for a little while longer. For the last 16 years, I’ve schlepped my books around with me from apartment to apartment to house with me. There were thousands of them, scattered across 7 or 8 bookcases and piled up in corners at the high point of the collection. It’s declined over the past couple of years as library space inevitably loses when it battles the needs of family space.
As far as my book collection is concerned, when the baby finally arrives we ought to name him Waterloo. My room–I won’t call it an office, as that is not only a pretentious but inaccurate description of a room where very little actual work gets done, was originally meant to be a bonus room or quest bedroom, the latter of which it is in the process of becoming. It was where I kept my stuff, where I was inevitably to be found when when the rest of the family was abed.
The computers have made the cut, but the gigantic and extremely heavy Barnes & Noble bookcases are being banished to the attic, along with their contents. The 12 foot makeshift stack of 1×12 and 4x4s that I stored my paperbacks did not, nor did the rickety bookshelf my father made out of scrap wood when he got his first teaching job.
And then there’s the books that were on those shelves. Books that made it through three previous major cuts, when having the names of Poul Anderson or Keith Laumer on the spine meant an automatic pass, when being genre fiction meant that you were loved and valued rather than sneered at and overlooked and out of print. Poul and Keith are in the cull pile now, as are Pournelle and Bova and Benford and Clarke and Asimov and and Ellison and Bear and Norton and Moorcock and Zelazny.
When I started putting those guys in the pile, I could feel my Robert Aspirin books start to cry. They knew they had no chance, that they and Craig Shaw Gardener and John DeChancie were so much rotting pulp, because a thousand just like them already clutter the shelves at the used book store.
Tonight I told friends of 25 years goodbye. Tonight I killed Fafrhd and the Grey Mouser, and Conan, and Logan and Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. They lie among piles of kin, hundreds of characters from the last 5 decades of fantasy and science fiction.
Thank you, my friends. Thank you for all the years.