Journal Entry 32

January 1, 2009

The books have been piling up on my side table: fiction for Nebula consideration, science and political books, and stuff I just flat out feel like reading for one reason or another: Count among these Steve Berry's latest thriller, The Charlemagne Pursuit. For anyone not familiar with Berry's work, his protagonist, Cotton Malone, is a retired federal agent who owns a bookstore in Denmark and solves historical and archeological mysteries. (And, yes, I guess it does sound familiar, but Cotton operates in our present time.) I should mention, to get everything on the table, that Steve's a friend. He's a prime example of a writer who watched novel after novel get rejected before he broke through a few years ago. Now he routinely makes best seller lists.

I still have books my parents got for me in the 50's that I haven't yet finished. Henrik Ibsen, J. M. Barrie, Joseph Conrad's Tales of the East and West, Voltaire, collections of plays. I've been walking around for years with the impression that I read The Decline and Fall when I was in the Navy. Recently, looking at it more closely, I discovered I hadn't read it at all. Probably just wandered through it. Anyhow, there are more titles than I can hope to get to in a lifetime. The earliest volumes I can remember, which I unfortunately no longer have, was a series of Red Ryder books, and Joyce of the Secret Squadron. (I loved Captain Midnight. And there's another false memory: I have the impression I flew a series of missions with him in 1943.)

With that in mind, I asked Maureen to avoid getting me any new books this year. So this became, probably, the first Christmas since the early years of WWII that no books showed up for me under our tree. Maureen did reach back a bit though, and produced two guilty pleasures from that earlier age: A 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, which we started Sunday night, depicting a 19th century railroad station; and a collection of Shadow broadcasts. I have a daily workout routine, and the radio shows are ideal for providing a distraction.


I had told everyone involved that I would absolutely, positively, not write a novel in 2009. There was no way I was going to do it. Now, in the final days of 2008, I came to realize there's something to be said for not closing doors too tightly. The fact is that I've caught my breath, and the thought of sitting on the front deck for a year watching the grass grow has become something less than inviting. So I've committed to do another novel. Not sure yet precisely which way it'll go. One idea would involve Hutch at the very beginning of her career. I even have a prospective title: Maiden Voyage.


Ray Kurzweil, Peter Diamandis and Pete Worden will be at NASA's Ames Research Facility in mid-January to discuss their vision for a Singularity University. I've been invited. Will take my notebook along.


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