Fayetteville Public Library used bookstore disses Science Fiction/Fantasy readers | Street Jazz

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Fayetteville Public Library used bookstore disses Science Fiction/Fantasy readers

Posted By on Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 1:55 PM

So this won’t create much of a ripple in the space/time continuum, but its passing deserves a few lines, I think.

One of the greatest inventions in the world after Saran Wrap (sorry - an old Mel Brooks/Carl Reiner 2,000 Year Old Man joke there) has been the creation of the used bookstore. And the Fayetteville Public Library, like most libraries in America, has a dandy used bookstore.

But . . .

“The Committee” - those responsible for the excellent little bookstore, have made a recent decision which sort of flies in the face of well, if not reason, than just treating your patrons nicely.

Of all the library used bookstores in Washington County, only Fayetteville and Winslow have had special sections devoted exclusively to science fiction and fantasy, so that readers would know right where to go to get their fix satisfied, to feed the Dalek on their back.

Now only Winslow offers a special SF/fantasy section.

In Fayetteville, those of us devoted to the genre now must look upon the various shelves, hoping against hope that there might be a book or two there, snuggled amongst the mysteries, true crime stories, westerns and romance novels. If anything, the SF/fantasy section in the Fayetteville Public Library used bookstore really needed another shelf devoted to it, rather than have whole kit-and-kaboodle pulled up.

Oh, it’s a small thing, Drake, and god bless, you whine about so damn much. Couldn’t you have found something a little more important to complain about today?

Well, Rampaging Reader, it may seem a small thing to those who only read “serious literature,” but for decades the science fiction section in bookstores has generally been put away from from the front door, away from the bestsellers, away from where they might corrupt the unsuspecting.

You know, closer to the bathroom.

A lot of the time, the SF shelves weren’t very big, and it seemed some stores had more soft-core porn than SF.

It wasn’t - and still isn’t in a lot of places - respected as literature, which is about as snobbish as you can get. Sturgeon’s Law - 90 percent of everything is crap - applies to science fiction as much as anything. But then, it also applies to mysteries, humor, westerns, or what-have-you.

But why even give science fiction its own shelf? Isn’t that kind of snobbish, Drake? Aren’t you applying your usual double-standard here?

Well yes I am, and thank you for noticing.

Science fiction got me through some tough times in my life; it took me away, and showed me another world. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. But always fascinating. When I was a kid, and even when I was an adult. In addition to stretching your imagination, it really can be good what ails you. And I’m not the only one, am I?

How many patrons of the Fayetteville Public Library used bookstore would head straight to the science fiction shelf, to see what might be waiting for them? So often the shelf would be overloaded, because there would be too many science fiction books for the shelf to hold. It’s not the sort of decision that seems to make sense, but I guess The Committee is happy with it. I wonder how many patrons of the bookstore they consulted before they embarked upon this course of action.

It’s sort of odd, when there are those who would Kindle-ize all of humanity, to write about books, but there you have it.

******

What? You've never heard of the 2,000 Year Old Man?

My elementary school teacher at Croughton Air Force Base played one of these albums for us so many years ago. The humor is still wonderful today.

Hey:

Mel Brooks.

Carl Reiner.

Need I say more?

*****

Dive! Dive! Dive!

My father was stationed in England in the mid-1960s, so I was already a big science fiction fan, courtesy of Fireball XL5 and Doctor Who. But when Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea began running, I really fell in love with the whole notion of Monster-of-the-Week shows.

The series was based on the movie of the same name, though I didn’t see the movie for many years afterward. It concerned the adventures of the futuristic research submarine Seaview, and its creator, Admiral Harriman Nelson (Richard Basehart - The Satan Bug). It was captained by Lee Crane (David Hedison - The Fly, The Lost World).

Every week the Seaview and her crew would face foreign spies, monsters from the depths and whatever other evils that producer Irwin Allen could find to throw at them. The first season, for those who keep track of such things, was the best of the four. Shot in black and white, the stories were often fairly gritty tales set in a cold-war background, along with the occasional science fiction elements. Later seasons were shot in color.

And what a submarine! It had transparent steel plating in the observation room, so that the crew - and TV viewers - could see what was happening outside the ship, and it came equipped with a diving bell and mini-sub for exploring.

Of course, later seasons saw the advent of the magnificent Flying Sub, a vehicle which operated in the air and under the sea. Sadly, though, later seasons of the program were marked by inferior writing, and Irwin Allen’s bizarre belief that if we did meet aliens, that they would somehow have skin that looked like it was spray-painted on.

It’s not Run Silent, Run Deep, but it is pretty good Saturday afternoon fare, especially for an Irwin Allen production. Allen seemed to start out strong on shows, and then sort of lose interest in their quality as time went on.

Too many irons in the fire, perhaps?

The show was able to use many of the props and footage from the movie, and from other Irwin Allen films. In fact, one episode, “Turn back the Clock,” is a silly mishmash of a minimal plot using scenes from The Lost World, in which Hedison also starred.

The extras are minimal, though amusing. The pilot episode, “Seven Days to Zero,” is shown in color, and there is a wonderful promo film that Irwin Allen made for ABC execs touting Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, showing scenes supposedly from the upcoming season.

But they aren’t. They are all from previous Irwin Allen films. I guess the executives just weren’t paying attention. Network executives not paying attention?

Gee, go figure.

Those interested in reading novels about the Seaview crew can find three novels. Two are simply called Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. The first, by Theodore Sturgeon, is a novelization of the film. The other, put out by Whitman Publishing Company, in their “Authorized TV Adventure” line, is written by Raymond F. Jones, of This Island Earth. This novel is not only the best that Whitman ever put out, but is superior to most of the episodes of the show.

If you can find this book, you are in for a real treat. It’s a book that both adults and young people can enjoy, even 40 years after it was first published. It’s hard to find, though.

The last book, City Beneath the Sea, is total garbage, written by a man who once wrote a novel called Rape is a No No, for The Man from O.R.G.Y. spy novel series.

In addition, for real junkies, Hermes Press has published a two volume edition of all of the Gold key comics from the 1960s/70s.

It’s just Saturday afternoon stuff, but you know what? It’s better than a lot of what passes for entertainment on the Sy Fy (what a stupid name) Channel these days. Sad to say, that’s kind of like my yardstick when I write about some of these shows.

Trivia note: Until Star Trek: The Next Generation, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was the longest running American science fiction series with continuing characters, with 110 episodes.

****

Quote of the Day

An education is like a crumbling building that needs constant upkeep with repairs and additions. - Louis Dudek

rsdrake@cox.net

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