Redshirts by John Scalzi
So Star Trek Into Darkness broke my heart and not in the fun way. (The fun way involves my usual Sunday night weepings, which I believe the rest of the world calls Once Upon a Time.) With my hold on Star Trek: The Motion Picture (yes, I know it’s painfully slow, but completionism compels me!) remaining in a, well, holding pattern, I knew I had to do something to drum up my waning enthusiasm for the franchise if Project “Watch All Of Star Trek” was ever going to get completed. Luckily, Redshirts was available right off the shelf at my local library when I finally stepped in.
Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
When Anne McCaffrey passed away in 2011, I was saddened, as many people in the sf community were. I was also seized by a sudden urge to go back and read The Dragonriders of Pern. Well, go back… I distinctly remember reading a Pern novel featuring a tall, dark villainess in middle school, but, looking back, I definitely could have just imagined that. In any case, 2011 was when I determined to read Dragonflight and get a toehold back in the series, to see if I wanted to continue or not. Naturally, it took me two years to finally sit down with it. Yeesh.
The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
For some insane reason, I thought that my final finals season at Agnes meant that I would have tons of time for reading. This was not only a lie, but a damned lie. I checked out every book I could only get at my college library and a handful of books from the local library. Fines piled up on the school books and the local books went home, unread, save for one: The Man in the High Castle. I’d only known Philip K. Dick by reputation, and I had confused The Man in the High Castle, the “Nazis won World War II” story, with another “Nazis won World War II” alternate history short story that was much more dour and depressing. Well, not that this isn’t…
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
For a very long time, I hated Kurt Vonnegut. More specifically, I hated Slaughterhouse-Five. It was assigned to me during my first or second year of high school, so I was still doing debate and still in the throes of what I like to call “The Wombat Years”—a bad period spanning most of my adolescence that featured bangs, rabid femmephobia, and constant, quiet anger. That last one had a hair trigger, and Vonnegut tripped it by, in my memory, calling Billy’s daughter “a bitch”. (This may or may not actually happen in the book.) I finished the book, since it was for school, but I scowled more than usual all the way. I am no longer a wombat, but that loathing remained. I did know I’d have to revisit this eventually for Reading by Ear—I just didn’t read that much as a kid, y’all!—but I was expecting the worst. And all I’ve got to say is praise and hallejulah, the Wombat Years are behind us.
Iron Man 3
based on characters by Stan Lee, Don Heck, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby
As much as I enjoyed Iron Man and Iron Man 2, I don’t really think of myself as an Iron Man fan. In the Marvel universe, I usually gravitate to Thor and X-Men. (How excited am I about the new all-lady team? SO EXCITED.) So I didn’t make plans to go see Iron Man 3 at midnight, as I usually do for big franchise films—I like not being the only one in the audience gasping, clapping, and cackling. Plus, it was during my last round of undergraduate finals. And yet, when the reviews started piling up, I tuned them out, in an subconscious attempt to remain unspoiled. Deep down, I wanted to see it. When an opportunity to see it on opening day came up, I took it.
Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is one of those texts most American kids encounter in high school, but, as a literary critic in training at a women’s college, it’s popped up as the ideal candidate to practice feminist theory on in the class that teaches you about the major schools of literary theory. It’s also popped up in one of my history classes. So Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a very familiar name to me, but only because of that one short story. But her bibliography is much deeper than that, and includes a utopian trilogy of which Herland is the middle installment, flanked by Moving the Mountain and With Her In Ourland. I’ve tried reading Herland once before, as a kid discovering Project Gutenberg in high school, but I thought it was time to give it another shot.
Daredevil: Volume 1 by Mark Waid, Paolo Manuel Rivera, and Marcos Martin
I was about twelve when I was exposed to the film version of Daredevil. It came out in 2003, so I must have been about thirteen. We watched it because my dad has the kind of open mind when it comes to films that a director wishes ey could buy. It didn’t make too much of an impression, beyond cementing my brother’s resemblance to Ben Affleck for the family, and that’s been my major impression of Daredevil ever since. Given my previous antipathy towards Marvel, I saw no need to correct it, but something moved me to pick up this while picking over the graphic novels at the library. I’m quite glad I did.
based on the novel by Ian Fleming
While I’d never seen Thunderball, I was very, very familiar with the film’s theme song. You see, just as I was a repetitive reader as a child, my parents are repetitive listeners of albums in the car. My grandiose affection for the 1993 The Three Musketeers is undoubtedly a product of the fact they played that soundtrack in the car from, I presume, 1993 to 1997. In any case, my mother became very fond of a Tom Jones’ greatest hits collection, and “Thunderball” was included. “What’s New, Pussycat?” made perfect sense to me, but “Thunderball” never did. My memories of the song, in fact, made me think I’d wearily seen the film as a child, but I hadn’t—I would have remembered loving it.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
For some reason, the film version of Never Let Me Go and Let Me In, the American remake of the film adaptation of Let the Right One In, are linked in my mind. Something about speculative fiction horror and the fact they were released in the same year squashed them together in my brain, to the point that I’ve often, in the past three years, had to remind myself they’re not when reading through, say, Keira Knightley’s filmography. I have been meaning to read the original novel of the former for quite some time, but reading Margaret Atwood’s thoughts on the novel in In Other Worlds made it rise up the list.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley