Saturday, July 19, 2008


This weekend we had our first garage sale to raise money for Collette's 60 K walk to support breast cancer research at the Princess Margaret Hospital. Everything went pretty well, the weather co operated, a couple of Collette's co workers came by and were of tremendous help. We ended up making over 300 hundred dollars and were happy with that; we are doing it again in a couple of weeks and hope to improve on that number. At any rate Collette is now over the half way mark for the amount of money she is obligated to raise in order to do the walk.

One of the things that happened that we did not expect was the number of people who donated items to the cause. Our neighbour Jesse brought over an air hockey table and a wrought iron bed frame for us to sell, Collette's principal, Susan, brought an antique style phone and some other items. Very generous indeed but it left us with items at the end of the sale that we did not have at the beginning; isn't this contrary to the whole exercise? Well, that is why we are having a second sale.

Sorting through the house for things to sell was really a process of deciding what we were going to let go of, finding the things we were going to leave behind; as in, I no longer need/want/care for this, so I will put it behind me. We put out or VHS movies (long since moved on to DVDs) I put out a lot of books (read it, never read it in ten years, have three other copies) we don't need these portable CD players, we have an MP3 player now. It was not painful parting with these items, we had, I suppose, grown out of them.

That happens with certain aspects of our lives, too. As we go along, we put things behind us, we "outgrow" them, often without really being aware that we have.

When I was a kid I was an avid comic book reader. Supherheroes. My brother Ed used to read me the text while we looked at the pictures. It was how I learned to read. The first one I remember was Daredevil, when he still had the yellow and black suit. I can remember once a month being given a dollar and walking for miles, from store to store, collecting all the latest editions of my favorite titles, till the dollar was gone. In those days a comic was 8 cents so I would trudge back home with my dozen or so comics, locking myself in my room, and just going on an orgy of superheroes and super villains.

My love for comics continued right on through high school and into my early twenties. We were entering into "graphic novel" territory by then but I still gravitated towards the guys in the costumes with super powers. Though, the one "comic book" I still have is a one off graphic novel, story by Samuel Delaney, art by Howard Chaykin; not a superhero but a science fiction tale.

I haven't bought or even looked at a comic book since the early 80s. I watch some of the movies but most of them are shite, really. But my reading tastes have moved on and I have no regrets about that. I still pick up a graphic novel from time to time but I am no longer interested in the flying guys in the colorful tights.

Another thing I used to be passionate about was science fiction. I am talking literature here rather than movies, but I loved the films too. Science fiction spun out of the comic books. I was obsessed with the stuff, for a long time it was all that I read. I went to a few conventions, and went to readings whenever I could. While sorting through books to sell at the garage sale, I found a hardcover Harlan Ellison, signed by the author. I had forgotten all about it; needless to say I didn't sell it for two bucks.

Science fiction is what inspired me to write. Most of my early short stories were ripped off from Lovecraft or Bradbury, complete with the flowery prose. In high school I used to co author Heinlein style space epics with my friend, Tanya Huff. She, of course, has gone on to be a fulltime science fiction/fantasy author.

My love for science fiction continued well on into my forties. I began to get fussier, though. I tended to stick to a small group of authors like Robert Reed and William Gibson and CJ Cherryh and Tanith Lee, who could A: actually write B: had some clue of character development and C: had some originality. I re-read those books occasionally but when I peruse the science ficiton section of a bookstore now, there is very little to inspire me. My reading taste has become more eclectic, my time for reading more limited, and there just seems to be too many other literary options to pursue.

Having said that, I could not depart with any of my Phillip K Dick novels. If he was still alive, perhaps I'd still be reading "science fiction"

What happens to these great passions that, during the moment of experiencing them, seem so overwhelming and all consuming. If we outgrow them, how is that so, what does that mean? Did I become too mature for superheroes? Well, maybe. There was a time when the superhero comic books maintained, over a year of monthly issues, long and complex storylines that would include character development; the Avengers introduced a character called the Vision who may or not be human and their development of that concept was at least as complex as any Star Trek version. In the seventies, Denny Lane took two of DC's more lack lustre characters, Green Lantern and Green Arrow and sent them on a long road journey to "discover Amercia" It seems that in recent years (decades) the regular monthly superhero comics are long on graphic displays and short on story line.

But what about science fiction? I'm sure there are still as many relevant novels in that field today as there were back when I read two or three of them a week. But I look at the glossy covers now and it is always number two in a series of four that, in itself, is a subset of a series of twenty that was spun out of a series of ten .. and my interest wanes as I stand there. But really, it has nothing to do with content. I think it has more to do with me. Opening my eyes, discovering new authors, looking for works of art that have more relevance to my everyday life, looking for stories and characters with whom I connect.

Perhaps that is maturity, as much as I am loathe to admit it.

Comic books and space stories are not the only things I have left behind, and they are not the most important. As I've gotten older I left behind jealously, and anger and a lot of self doubt ... not that any of that does not still exist, they are just in manageable portions. Those are the important things we leave behind.

Gosh, that really does sound like growing up.


Elizabeth McClung said...

Read Connie Willis? What you describe and what I find is the same - where have all the heroes of sci fi gone? Well sex crazy (Heinlien (sic)), or just out there (Bradbury), or Dead (Clarke, well, the rest). Or turned from Cyberpunk to historical fiction (Neil Stephenson) or just in haitus (Punk author Sterling; Connie Willis). How about I make up a list of my favorite obscure Sci Fi writers (how about a cyberpunk lesbian character in the Gibson style?) and you do and we swap?

Victor Kellar said...

awesome .. sounds like fun .. since I am elbow deep in my collection for our next yard sale

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