Monday, December 10, 2007

Well, I Was Going To...

I was going to go to bed. But then I realized, when I turned off the tv, that someone had very kindly ignored the laundry time instructions posted clearly on the wall, and was not only using the laundry facilities, but apparently making use of them to clean and tumble dry their brick collection.

Ten PM and it sounds like bronc riding on hardwood right outside my apartment door.

Problem is, I'm into the cranky phase of nicotine withdrawal, now. So, it's hard for me to distinguish what the proper response would be.

Figuring out who's shit it is and taking it to their door at three in the morning along with a gift of sense from my baseball bat sounds pretty good to me, but it's probably not very politic.

I'm sure neither is throwing all of their laundry out into the freezing rain, although it's tempting.

Oh, listen... someone else isn't happy about it.

Hmm. Interesting approach, just take the noisy shit out of the dryer, apparently. Of course, standing around yelling about it kind of makes that pointless, now doesn't it?

Ok, I'm going to go try to get some sleep now. Assuming another one of my kind neighbors doesn't decide to wash their rock collection at midnight....


Well. I'm on my last partial pack of cigarettes. All smoking items except for one ashtray which is sitting on the kitchen table where I can't see it for the pile of Ed's stuff, including that pack of cigarettes and my lighter, are in the back of the cabinet over the stove.

Today was a step down day. Half a cigarette, max, every hour at the minimum. Longer if I could do it.

I've managed just a couple of puffs every hour or so for the last few hours, and I'm making myself stand when I smoke. I would make myself go outside to smoke, but if i go outside into the cold it would be too easy to rationalize smoking the whole cigarette so that I wouldn't have to go back out into the cold as soon.

The hardest part so far is the psychological stuff. I'll reach for my cigarettes on the end table while I'm watching tv, and when I realize that they aren't there, and I'm not going to let myself smoke yet, the craving ratchets up about five notches, and I start twitching.

Tomorrow, I'm going to try for no cigarettes at all, but I'm not going to hate myself if I don't make it. I'm doing pretty good on cutting back (I was at a pack to a pack and a half a day, before I started cutting back) and that's definite progress. Besides, eventually, even with the strict rationing, that pack is going to run out.

Then I just have to stay in the apartment.

It doesn't all have to happen right now, and demanding that of myself would lead to frustration, anger, and failure.

As much as I would like to just flip a switch and never want a cigarette again, that's not the way it works. As long as I don't smoke more than I am at this point, I'm going to consider it a victory.

Considering the way my hands are shaking, just thinking about smoking now (it's been fifteen minutes since my last puff) I think it is a victory. It's progress, anyway.

Variable Star

Heinlein, ah, Heinlein.

One of my favorite writers of all time, the only author that I feel a need to collect all the works of not because I want to see the next part of the story (I do have a few that I collect because of the burning need to find out what happens next,) but simply because he wrote them.

I've read the majority of everything he ever wrote, with the exception of some of the short stories I haven't been able to find a copy of, and some of his political writings that likewise, I haven't gotten my hands on yet. I don't own them all, but the librarian at my high school had a running list of books to be begged, borrowed, or stolen from other libraries through interlibrary loan for me.

This, though. Wow. This book was supposed to be RAH, speaking from beyond the grave, through the medium of Spider Robinson.

I had some definite misgivings about it, to be honest. A Heinlein plot is simply not done justice by anyone but the Grand Master himself, and Robinson had only an incomplete outline and scribbled notes to attempt to do justice to a tale that stuck with Heinlein enough that he kept the notes, and kept trying to convince his editor to let him write it, even after it had been turned down.

My first reaction was complete indignation, when I first heard of the attempt. It was heresy, any tale not completed in it's entirety by RAH could only be inspired by the Grand Master, not carry his name as author, even co-author. Sacrilege.

Then I looked closer, and realized what the prize was. The plot was pure Heinlein, minus the ending, which was lost to history. Robinson merely had to fill in the blanks with the details.

Of course, nothing is ever that simple.

On to the book itself, now. Variable Star, as a story, is very good. Robinson is an excellent writer and the flavor of the book is one that is quite pleasing to the refined palate of a die-hard SF fan. The tone is part Heinlein, part Spider Robinson. It's written the way I imagine Heinlein would have written if he'd been born into our society today, wherein a few cuss words and vulgar jokes are nothing to get upset about.

Of course, Heinlein wasn't born into today's society, and his dignified way of putting across the dirtiest of jokes without once using a four letter word is signature. Heinlein had a grace with the English language that cannot be matched, only imitated.

Spider Robinson, thankfully, did not try to be RAH. He simply took a course plotted many years before, which Heinlein himself had never been able to sail, and took the journey, bringing us along for the ride.

The plot is very Heinlein, although I believe that Robinson could have made it more inclusive of the other Heinlein novels that tied into the storyline of Variable Star, if he'd wanted to.

The narration, the storytelling, is very Spider Robinson.

It's unique in the world. It is the last new bit of Heinleiniana. In a sense, it is a shame that it was corrupted by the touch of the hand of anyone other than the Grand Master himself, but if they had to resort to such drastic measures, Spider Robinson was the man to do it.

I cried when I finished it, mourning yet again what I had mourned as a young teen, that I would never be able to meet Robert Anson Heinlein and tell him personally how much light and enjoyment he had brought into my life, how much I learned from his works, and how very very much I appreciated those things.

His legacy is in the pages of all of his books, his steadfast belief that there are those among us capable of the fantastic acts, discoveries, and adventures that he wrote and shared with us, along with so many other beliefs and concepts that he communicated through his novels, which strike a chord in the most skeptical of hearts.

That legacy has been added to, perhaps not as he would have done it, but in sincere tribute.

A tribute which has the added bonus of being entertaining, and laugh out loud hilarious, as well as heart wrenching and tearfully touching.

If you're an RAH fan, and haven't read Variable Star yet, I urge you to find a copy. Just don't expect it to be Heinlein's ghost, commandeering Robinson's hands to type his own imaginings. It is, instead, a heartfelt honorarium, maintaining the underlying flavor of Heinlein throughout the overtones of Robinson's own personal talent and skill.