Thursday, June 2, 2011

Recently: Mostly Malcolm

Much of my reading recently has been in the late Manning Marable's Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention; I'm coming up on halfway through. The book moved me to look at some videos of Malcolm online. The man impresses. How is it that I've come to discover him so late? My education—what was provided to me and what I've sought out—has clearly been lacking. And not only should we still mourn the loss of the man, we should also mourn the loss of the kind of intelligent public discourse he exemplified when at his finest.

Marable's book is quite good, though I have to triangulate more by reading the Autobiography and some more texts about the era.

Schmitz, two stories.

I read two James Schmitz science fiction stories, "The Witches of Karres" and "Novice," the latter featuring Telzey, a young girl of many gifts who appears in other Schmitz stories. Schmitz's stories are fun, accessible for young people yet written cleverly enough for adults. "Novice" recounts how Telzey's manipulative aunt schemes to take away the girl's sentient, endangered cat for government purposes. Telzey and the cat team up to undermine the plot and change the balance of power on this alien planet. "The Witches of Karres," which was later expanded, jumps through its plot hoops rather quickly, and the descriptions are so thin, you never get a strong sense of most of the settings. A ship's captain ends up taking possession of three young girls, each of whom has special powers, with the aim of returning these former slaves to their home planet. He's a paper-thin creation of utterly unclear motivations, but the mischievous girls bring life to the story, and their home planet introduces some nice twists to the tale.

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