What I did During My Pandemic Vacation

My wife and I are an adventurous couple. Unfortunately, there’s been this covid-19 thingy that has curtailed our wild lifestyle. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Anyway, for the last year and a bit, there’s been no Bingo, no Casinos and their slot machines, and not much eating out. What’s left to occupy our savage, undomesticated hearts?

There’s an answer, fortunately, at least for my selfish self – lotsa books.  And time to fill my hands, eyes and imagination with once read but now barely familiar tomes, novels, collections, classics and essays, ranging from brilliant to crappy. I love ’em all.

I’d like to talk about these excursions into the past – not your past or even our common past, but my own partnership with books and authors. These are not (or at least I don’t intend them to be) book reviews. I’ll start with the following (which may well be shorter than this introduction):

 

Eric Frank Russell – WASP

 

When I was still in elementary school there was this thing called The Scholastic Book Fair. I think they’re still around. It was or still is an international business that provided pamphlet sized catalogues of juvenile books for young readers to look over and possibly select one or more to nag their parents to buy. I’ve always been addicted to reading and I would’ve ordered everything if our poor family had had the means.

I think the first one I ever ordered was a book of short stories by Eric Frank Russell called Men, Martians and Machines. The stories were terrific and my ten year old self was enthralled. And so it was that Mr. Russell entered my personal hall of fame as a good writer.

I read it again during my twenties and was pleased to see that it held up very well. I’ve got boxes and boxes full of books – will I find it again? I hope so. I promise to let every one know if I do, but admit that I sometimes break my promises.

Around that time (my late twenties, now, or early thirties) I came across a book called WASP which I bought only because it was written by Eric Frank Russell. I was glad I did. I’ve read it three times now, the last time was about a week ago (mid April 2021 for those who care about such things).

WASP was written in the late 1950’s and reads like a terrorist’s handbook. Real terrorism involving violence and murder, yes, but also including a broader look at mankind’s eternal war on itself, a war involving mischief and propaganda and deceit as both legal and illegal tools to influence the progress of civilization or possibly encourage the end of it.

I reluctantly recommend it. Reluctantly because I have a strong tendency to not read something if someone recommends it. So, up to you; it’s an easy to read novel, fun to read, written with a clear hand. Not a big commitment. Heh, wouldn’t be surprised if many of you have already read it, come to think.

 

I hope to be oddly provoked by another book and so write something less than obsessive about it. Thanks for reading.

Author: Gary Fletcher

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