Monday, August 19, 2013

User Friendly by Spider Robinson

 This book is a mixed bag of odds and ends from Robinson, with some short stories, some essays, and some raps that defy description. It's all typically Spider, but probably only of interest to serious fans. Many of the stories seem like they were a good beginning to a potential novel, and when they went nowhere, he blew the dust off them and had them published here.

In one essay about his mentors, Robinson says something with which I strongly identified:

"I was born, physically, in 1948. But I was born as a thinking being in early 1965, at age 6, when a librarian whose name I do not know gave me the first book I ever read all by myself, with no pictures in it. It was called Rocket Ship Galileo, the first of the books written especially for young people by the already legendary Robert Anson Heinlein, the first Grand-Master of Science Fiction."

Born a bit later, and already reading voraciously at age 11, my best friend handed me a copy of Glory Road, by Robert Anson Heinlein, and it started me on a journey which continues to this day.

Robinson has had, for many years now, a central theme in his stories. It's the belief that if we all became addicted to truth rather than lies, to giving each other love rather than hurting one another, and if all communication were as open and honest as telepathy, all the world's ills would go away. It's a lovely vision, and it's nice to visit it in Spider's stories once in a while.

Despite that, he does have a snarky little cynical streak he lets loose every now and then, and it's especially apparent in one of his essays which contains predictions about the future.

"When you can afford a TV linkup that offers you 245 channels in 3-D with digital stereo sound, there won't be a damn thing worth watching on any of them."

Nailed it - in 1990.

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