Unfinished business

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Most of you probably know that going into a new year with unfinished business is a risky proposition.  There’s no telling what sort of karmic baggage it will carry into your next year to harry you.  But sometimes it just can’t be avoided.

In my case it’s a couple of obvious items.  One being Orphans in the Sky, copyright 1941, Robert Heinlein.  I found it listed in the Johnson County, Kansas, Library and only managed to get it yesterday.  I put in into the que for reading, but unless I get cracking I won’t finish it before midnight.  I’ve only got a chapter to go.  But Heinlein isn’t the only iron in the fire.

A reader here recommended A Pirate of Exquisite Mind, by Diana and Michael Preston.  I only got it from the library the same day as the Heinlein tome, so I’ve been alternating between the two.  The Preston book is biography of William Dampier, who discovered earlier than anyone else that being a scientist and a pirate weren’t mutually exclusive.

I’ll be a while polishing off the Dampier tome, even if I manage to croak the Heinlein before the world slouches into next year.

And as for the Orphans in the Sky, I’ll confess it rattles me somewhat.   One of my favorite all time science fiction books was Starship, by Brian Aldiss.  I’ve read it at least half-dozen times over the years.  The Heinlein book reminded me of it so when I discovered the library doesn’t have it and it’s not available InterLibrary loan I checked Amazon.  And surprised myself by finding a review I wrote about it in 2004:

See this image

Starship Paperback – December 1, 1969

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful

By Jack Purcell on May 8, 2004

Format: Paperback

This book was written long before most readers of this review were born. Maybe that’s the reason this great work of science fiction lies dormant and almost forgotten. The book is absorbing, fires the imagination, is both believable and original. I don’t believe, of all the thousands of books of science fiction I’ve read over half a century, I’ve ever read one similar to this (and few better).
The basic story involves a starship the size of a small city on a voyage lasting hundreds of years. Many generations prior to the time of this plot a cataclysmic event and internal disruptions caused the crew to break into factions and isolate themselves. Thereafter the population forgot itself, what it was, and struggled to survive and understand, by the time of this plot, in a strange world.
If you’d like to discover a ‘new’ old one you’ll treasure and read many times through your life this is a good shot at finding one, while it can still be obtained. Take good care of it.
5.0 out of 5 stars
As good as Aldiss ever got. And it beats Heinlen’s Orphans of the Sky, December 30, 2014
This review is from: Starship (Paperback)
My review of this in 2004 didn’t mention the plot similarity to the 1941 Robert Heinlein tome, Orphans of the Sky. I’ve just finished re-reading the Heinlein book and it gave me a thirst to re-read the Aldiss. I’m searching my books-in-tow for it, but I’ve already checked the library system and haven’t located it. Might have to fork out $1.48 for a used copy of this classic.
I haven’t ordered Starship because I want to check whatever books of mine Jeanne has in her basement, but I might yet have to fork out $1.48 plus shipping and snag a used copy from Amazon.
Reason for my studied lack of haste:
I got the urge to re-read the late Philip Jose Farmer’s series, Riverworld one more time this lifetime.  Put them on hold [Jeanne’s library account] at the library.  Jeanne saw it and tossed all five books down in front of me.  Mine.  The originals from when Farmer first published them in the 1970s.  From her basement.
I have vivid recollections of waiting with baited breath for next sequels on these.  So there they are, more unfinished business trying to anchor me here in 2014.
Old Jules

8 responses to “Unfinished business

  1. Seeing that you’re stepping into the new year armed with two splendid re-readings, all that’s left for me is to wish you a great new year, with many more re-readings, and a few fresh ones too, to boot. All the best, Jack.

    • Hi Wesley. Got those Heinlein’s whupped and am about halfway through the Riverworld series. I’ll confess Riverworld’s not as satisfying in the reading of as it was last time around. Age, I reckons. I think it appealed to the pedant in me before. Thanks for the good wishes, and likewise to you and yours. J

    • I haven’t moved forward on the William Dampier biography yet, but it’s calling to me. Gracias, J

  2. I’m about half way through a Christmas present from my ex-wife: “Unbroken”, by Lauren Hildebrand. The more or less true story of a kid just out of high school who ran in the 1936 Olympics, shook hands with Hitler, then joined the Army Air Corps as a bombardier in a B-24, crashed in the Pacific, floated around a while in the Big Empty with the sharks, was picked up by the Japanese and thrown in a POW camp. There’s more, but I’m only up to the part where they are bombing Wake Island. So far it is hard to put down. Gives you a feel for how war was managed, say, half way between Waterloo and Robot Drone Assassinations. Plus the kid is an interesting character.

    One tidbit: more planes and crews were lost to accidents and mysterious disappearances over the ocean than were lost to combat. A lot. The country just kept on cranking them out long after the Japs and the Nazis were running on fumes. There was plenty of courage and ferocity in WW 2 on all sides, but what won the war was America’s seemingly endless capacity for mass-producing men and weaponry. You lose a few thousand? Just pop in twice as many ready replacements.

    I’ll go out on a limb and recommend this one after only reading about half of it. There’s also a movie out. This is the same author who wrote “Seabiscuit”.


    • Bob G: I appreciate the recommendation. The Johnson County website is shut down at the moment but I’m going to put it on hold as soon as I visit the site. Sounds to be a good book. I appreciate your recommending the Dampier biography. I’m only a few chapters into it, but it’s a good one. Didn’t have to get it through InterLibrary loan, so I’ll be able to recheck it if I don’t finish it before it’s due. I’m obliged. J

    • I just noticed this posted comment again Bob, and realized I never got that book. Just put it on hold at the Leavenworth Library though. thanks again.

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