Switching gears… changing lanes… transitioning.

I never like when a good book ends. Often my reading will slow down as I knowingly approach the last few chapters of a good tale. This particularly held true when I was a frequent library patron and you never knew if that next book you just grabbed off the shelf was going to be crap in disguise. The only time I didn’t regret the end of a book was reading a good series and looking forward to the next novel in sequence.

Enter the Kindle. (There’s a movie title for ya!) Now not only don’t I have to really worry about the next book sucking and finding myself without something to read (I also don’t have to drive to the library to return things or worry about overdue books, etc.) I’m actually wondering if I’ll ever actually get around to reading everything I’ve downloaded so far.

Enter Project Gutenberg. (Not as snappy a movie title that.) And I discover or to be more exact (we must be exact mustn’t we? And we must praise the parentheses!(hail parentheses!)) rediscover H. Irving Hancock an insanely prolific author from the early 1900’s. While cleaning out my great uncle’s house when I was a kid I found a couple of Hancock’s ‘Grammar School Boys of Gridley’ books and enjoyed reading them. Later, at a local community center, I found two more novels later on in the lives of the Grammar School Boys who have gone off to West Point and Annapolis. These were some of the pulp fiction of the times. Books for good ‘Girls and Boys’ printed on the absolute cheapest paper that cracked and shattered if not handled with extreme care. Impossible to find at yard sales or used book stores I gave up on knowing ‘The Rest of the Story’.

Enter Project Gutenberg… for real this time. I have this Kindle and new, modern books are slightly (and often more than slightly(hail parentheses!)) expensive so I was looking around for alternative sources of reading material. I’d know about the Gutenberg online project for years but never liked reading books on the computer or spending hours (and money!) printing them out. Randomly searching gutenberg.org for authors names I knew. I remembered those books from my youth, plugged Hancock’s name into the search box and was rewarded with over THIRTY novels of his to download. Almost all of his stories I was happy to discover in one way or another tie into each other. Sadly a few books from some series are missing and may probably be never brought to the digital age. But there’s always hope, right?

So, finally back to Switching gears… changing lanes… transitioning.
I decided I was going to read everything by Hancock back to back to saturate myself with early 1900’s prose. I never had thirty plus novels by one author to read and even if I had I’d have spent time waiting on the library to get them and hope they came in the order I wanted… I digress (boy howdy, don’t I?). I devoured these books. I occasionally got a little bored but the story almost always picked up and the reading was easy. All too soon (frighteningly soon!) I was done with everything that was available. Then comes the hard part. Switching gears. Transitioning to another author. Another style of writing. Another genre entirely. It can throw you for a loop. (Hey, look, he’s finally getting to the damn point!)

I moved on to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ ‘John Carter of Mars’ series. It was a shock. Even though they were published around the same time the differences were stunning. Hancock was something of a prude and tried to pass along a moral message to his readers in each book. Yes, in some of the later stories there were battles and deaths but nothing like Burroughs’ Warlord wading hip deep through the corpses of his foes. I swear they killed enough people on Mars in each short novel to depopulate Rhode Island. I’d read most of these stories as a teen and remembered them fondly as some of the earliest Sci-Fi/Fantasy I was exposed to. Only five novels in the series are available from Gutenberg, the rest aren’t out of copyright yet. I actually had to make myself finish the last book ‘The Chessmen of Mars’. It was fairly horrible. Time does change things.

I changed lanes again (look at him cleverly working the title into things). I bought the omnibus edition of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, the original three stories. I read all three novels in four days. Like Hancock’s novels I just devoured these things. Not wanting to spend a lot of money and not wanting to go to the library (yuck) I stopped there and moved on to my next novel ‘Neverwhere’ by Neil Gaiman. This is one I’ve read before. Read and loved enough to go out and buy the cheesy BBC series on DVD that was based (very well) on the book and I keep putting the Kindle down after a page or two, sometimes less. I like this story, it’s one of my favorites of all time but I just left Pern and her dragons and arriving in London is an even bigger shock than going to Mars after hunting submarines with Hancock’s Dave Darrin.

Have I changed lanes too many times? I know I’m not getting burnt out on reading, which would be an impossibility. Is it guilt over the Amazon Vine program’s novel I put down when I got my Kindle that I need to finish and review? Have I just hopped around in space and time too much that I need a brain sorbet to clear my head? I just don’t know.

It’s a weird feeling to put down a book you like. I’m used to it with books I don’t like, some of which got flung across the floor with some rather vile language trailing behind its flight but not getting into a book I like, a book I want to read? I’m confused…

Wow that was long. {edit} And yes, the Cliff Notes version would be “I read a lot of books and I feel ooky…”

Hawk (needs a nap and an advil for his hand pain)

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