On Loss, and Sherlock, and Mars

Today I finished a rough draft of the first chapter of the third Dabir and Asim book, currently titled The Maiden’s Eye. That felt pretty good. It also felt pretty good hearing that one of my short stories actually featuring someone other than Dabir and Asim had been accepted for a secret sword-and-sorcery anthology project (shh) just this morning.

Not so cool was spilling the orange juice down the side of my desk, although it was pretty swell that I missed a couple of books that I had lying around and merely soaked the carpet.

I’ve been watching the BBC Sherlock stories with the family, which inspired me to dig at last into the actual stories. As influential as Sherlock and Watson have obviously been upon Dabir and Asim, it’s only been recently that I peered deeply into the Sherlockian canon. Safer than peering into actual cannons. I quite liked what I found. It got me thinking about what put me off about the series the first time I tried, and how I wish I’d been given better advice about where to start when I began reading. More on that in a bit.

The other thing I’ve been reading are some Leigh Brackett short stories in the most excellent Shannach – the Last, from Haffner Press. I find it apropos that I was reading about Brackett’s Mars yesterday when I got the word that her old friend — best man at her wedding — Ray Bradbury had passed away. I’ve thrown my web weight around about Harold Lamb and Leigh Brackett and Robert E. Howard, and I’ve talked about my love for the works of Zelazny and Leiber and Moore and Forrester and scads others, but I probably haven’t mentioned Bradbury much. I suppose that’s because he was the first author I actively sought out, and that I’d read and re-read his stories before I’d ever found my way to the others that really influenced me. But wow, oh wow, did his work have an impact upon me, particularly his space operas. Particularly his stories of Mars. Seeing as how I’m making my name writing fantasy set in the ancient Middle-East, that probably sounds odd, but space opera was my first genre love, and I still loves me some of that. The original Star Trek and Ray Bradbury anthologies like Golden Apples of the Sun and R is for Rocket were dear companions and shaped a lot of what I like in storytelling and were a light toward what I like best in humanity.

Thanks, Mr. Bradbury, for inspiring me along with so many others. My kids are reading and loving your work as well.

4 Comments on “On Loss, and Sherlock, and Mars

  1. I’m lucky to be working at a school where they give me a long leash on what I can have the kids read in class. Of course I have to jockey with the teachers from the other grades as to what is included in the canon and I typically come up short because I’m the “rookie” (until they have a new hire I will always be the rookie). I put up a fight for Farenheit 451 and WON!

    At least I won round one because round two was to get Freshmen to read it and invest their XBox dulled mind that it was worth their time. After a week of horsewhipping them and some fun activities the students caved in and began taking an interest. They had to list three games that they would save for future generations. It was a melee and I kicked back and watched the frenzied politicking. My only regret was not bringing popcorn. When they finally had their list I went and showed them where the games got their inspiration and BINGO! They got it. The next week we read a chapter, debated the ideas presented. I also included a list of banned books and asked the kids to circle any on the list that they read. “Mr. Nutting, The Bible is banned? Huckleberry Finn is banned? etc. etc.” I could see the light bulb (or in their case the green power light for their XBox) turned on. I then had them work up a list of books that they personally preserve. THANK YOU RAY BRADBURY. Who knows how many kids he influenced positively? If I had a guess I would say millions.

    His genius is not confined to one book or one idea. He had hundreds. 451 was just the tip of the iceberg. I will miss him but in my Freshman English class he will remain part of the cannon I teach.

    • Don, that’s a great story. Speaking as someone who has taught, I know how hard it can be to reach students. Bravo for your approach. It was very clever, and well calculated to get them thinking. Nicely done!

      • Thank you for the kind words and not pointing out the numerous grammatical errors I made. This is my second career and it is the best job I’ve ever had. I can’t believe they pay me to have this much fun.

        • Comment boards are unforgiving with errors, and God knows I’ve had my share of them when I join a conversation online. Seems like I always notice one or two in the second between when I hit the send button and when they disappear from the screen. Anyway, as you were feeling awkward about any typos, I quickly read through your post again and cleaned it up. Hopefully I didn’t add any new ones! Different standards (CMS, APL, etc.) have different approaches for how to treat, say, book titles versus short stories. At some point I was taught italic for books and quotes around short stories, and I was too lazy today to verify whether that remains the default.

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