Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This Week at the Library (7/7)

I never intended to make this last week "Science Fiction Week", but it emerged that way following a series of coincidences. I finished Carl Sagan's Contact a few days later than anticipated: his book, which portrays humanity's first contact with an alien race via radio signals, changed the way I thought about the search for extraterrestrial life.  I found American Nerd, an entertaining if limited "history of nerds", while looking for a science book. My decision to read Jurassic Park owed to my seeing the movie the night before I made my weekly visit to the library,  and after watching the first six Trek movies in marathon form, I was in a mood to read something in Trek literature -- which I did with Greater than the Sum,  an excellent contribution to the TNG relaunch that sets up the big Destiny series. I just so happened to finish Quotable Star Trek this week, as I've been reading it on-and-off at the computer while waiting for programs to load and save. Also, after reading a July Fourth-themed story for the Fourth this Sunday, I just had to finish the collection in which I found it, The Complete Robot.

See? Complete accident.

Selected Quotations:
1. "You know, at times like this, one feels..... well, perhaps extinct animals should be left extinct." - Dr. Ian Malcolm, awaiting to be mauled by a T-rex.  (Jurassic Park)

2.  "Your willingness to participate in this mission is commendable, Lieutenant Chen. Or do you prefer Lieutenant T'Ryssa?"
"Chen, please," said the lieutenant, a slender woman with tomboyish Asian features under slanted brows. With her hair worn over her hears, those eyebrows and the greenish flush to her golden skin were the only clear evidence of her Vulcan ancestry. "Uh, sir. Or Trys. I've been known to answer to 'Hey you'".
[Picard] glared at her. "As you were, Lieutenant." (Greater than the Sum, p. 68. )

3. Captain Jean-Luc Picard: Your... arrogant pretense at being the moral guardians of the universe strikes me as being hollow, Q. I see no evidence that you're guided by a superior moral code or any code whatsoever. You may be nearly omnipotent, and I don't deny that your... parlor tricks are very impressive. But morality? I don't see it. I don't acknowledge it, Q! I would put human morality against the Q's any day. And perhaps that's the reason that we fascinate you so - because our puny behavior shows you a glimmer of the one thing that evades your omnipotence: a moral center. And if so, I can think of no crueler irony than that you should destroy this young woman, whose only crime is that she's too human.

Q: Jean-Luc... Sometimes I think the only reason I come here is to listen to these wonderful speeches of yours.
(Quotable Star Trek, maybe. I'm sure it's in there somewhere. Original source is TNG's "Hide and Q". I like it mostly because the same statement condemns the morality of revered "ancestors" and their deities....gods who claim to be just when their stock in trade is genocide, theft, and murder.)

Upcoming Reads:

  • The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton.  I enjoyed my first Crichton read, and decided to continue exploring the author's work.  This work, which concerns the outbreak of an alien virus on Earth, reminds me of The Stand.
  • I'm going to be starting Citizens: a Chronicle of the French Revolution in honor of Bastille Day, which falls next week. (The holiday, not the Bastille. It fell back in 1789.) My Western Civilization II history professor recommended the book to me a few years ago.
  • I first read Travels with Charley in Search of America back in 2005, which contains John Steinbeck's account of traveling through the United States in the 1960s to see the new, economically booming America. I've been itching to read a book about taking off on the road and exploring, and so decided to revisit this.
  • Right next to Travels with Charley was A Walk Across America, a 1970s memoir about a young college graduate who decided to explore the United States on foot, accompanied by his big husky, Cooper.  If memory serves, Steinbeck's "Charley" was his dog, so I'll be reading two books about people who set off on journeys across America accompanied by their dogs, one old and one young. That'll be interesting. 


  1. I read A Walk Across America in the 70's. Interesting.

  2. Apparantly he's written an entire series of "Walking..." books. I may get around to most of them. ;)