The Literary 10 – Number 9

warrior_trilogy

9. The Warrior Trilogy

The idea of books being written based on Battletech, a game I loved as a kid (yeah, this kid played games with dice, miniatures, and paper), was weird at first. Maybe they wouldn’t have much story or maybe they were just another way to sell game books and modules.

Boy was I wrong.

The Warrior Trilogy was engaging storytelling from cover to cover. It certainly helped that Michael A. Stackpole, who would go on to write books in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, wrote these books about a young man finding his way in the universe…oh, and the beginning of a great interstellar war that consumes the Inner Sphere (set off by the ballsiest wedding gift any man could give his bride). Very space operatic, and I loved the descriptions Stackpole provided.

I could have easily put the Blood of Kerensky Trilogy here as well. This series of books is set roughly 30 years after the Warrior Trilogy, features some of the same characters, and tells the tale of the great houses of the Inner Sphere uniting against an invader from beyond the stars. But, in the end, I had to give it to the Warrior Trilogy.

N.B. There was a 2nd edition released in 1998, currently available on Amazon. The covers above are from the first edition.

How to Win the Nobel Prize by The Paris Review

Drafting these citations must be painstaking, fairly joyless work. This one, at least, reads like an act of circumlocution by committee; the choice to append “the most” to “ungraspable” may have occasioned hours of debate. And for what? The final result could apply to anyone; in the broadest terms, not just every writer but every person in history has practiced the art of memory, evoking destinies and uncovering life-worlds.

— Dan Piepenbring, How to Win the Nobel Prize, The Paris Review

The Literary 10 – Number 10

I’ve been challenged by a good friend to list the top 10 books that have had an influence on my life. I thought, what better way to add some content to the ol’ blog. So I present to you the first in a 10-part series on my favorite and most influential books (n.b. The thumbnails link to Amazon, but they are not referral links, so you don’t have to feel weird about clicking on them).

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10. The Art of Fiction

James Gardner said it best:

“Nothing can be more limiting, to the imagination, nothing is quicker to turn on the psyche’s censoring devices and distortion systems, than trying to write truthfully…”

Considering all the wonderful fantasy shows on cable television these days, it’s hard for me to buy into the notion that writing what I know is a good way to put food on the table. Indeed, I’ve written about many things I do not know well (I’ve never set foot in the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum, but there was the description in the pages of the Greater Madison, WI yellow pages, written by yours truly).

But perhaps Gardner’s most important lesson was that the writer must always create for the reader a vivid dream and that every bit of writing should go towards upholding the creation of that dream. And that anything that breaks that dream should be avoided at all costs. And a writer who breaks that dream should be drug out into the street and beaten so that he may serve as an example to others.

Okay, Gardner didn’t say that, but see? I was creating a vivid dream for you.

If you fancy yourself a writer, you owe it to yourself to at least check this out from your local library. It will help you.

The bushes outside my office window

Waiting Out the Storm

On Thursday night, the rain and sleet began. By Friday morning, the area was covered with nearly two inches of sleet and ice. Schools closed, people stayed home, and the Dallas/Ft. Worth area was brought to a standstill as temperatures remained below freezing for 73 straight hours.

Ice storms certainly have their charm. The cold weather brings out shutterbugs (including yours truly) documenting every icicle and bent tree, while the daring ride laundry baskets down the tallest hill in the nearby park or lace up their hockey skates for a turn on their street.

But the magic wears off quickly. It’s amazing how something as ordinary as a grocery store run or a walk around the neighborhood is taken for granted until it can’t easily be done. After 3 days of this, folks are ready to get back to work or to school, and restore some semblance of normalcy. But the cold weather persists and so they have to wait for the ice to melt and the streets to clear.

This ice storm reminds me so much of the first week of Advent. As Christians, we’re waiting on the coming of the Lord, not just this season, but also His Second Coming. We wait on Immanuel – God among us – who will bring respite to our souls, end our suffering, and usher us into a new kingdom. The waiting is hard, even agonizing, but it’s worth it.

Eventually, the sun will shine and the ice will melt. Eventually, the Son will return and, at the wedding feast, hearts will melt.

Grace. Wisdom.