Here’s the deal.
I thought I had this all figured out. A nice, tidy list of authors I’m grateful for. One piece a day for a week, and it’s done.
But my brain won’t stop, and the list keeps getting bigger. So today I’m sharing a list of four authors (besides the other six I’m writing about this week, making this whole deal a nice, even ten) that I’m giving thanks for this year. No particular order, but there is a theme.
Here we go.
1. H.G. Wells: When I was a kid, no other author captured my young imagination in the way Wells did. One year for Christmas, my parents got me a collection of books from the Sears Wish Book catalog. They came in a box (with a plastic handle, if I remember correctly), and included a Sherlock Holmes book, some Jules Verne, Louisa May Alcott, and several others. My go-to was Wells’ The Time Machine. By the time I was through with it, pages were falling out, and the cover was missing. In sixth grade, we read From the Earth to the Moon, and it blew my mind. I love that Wells’ work has entered the public domain and is readily available for anyone to read. Every kid should be exposed to his work.
2. Octavia E. Butler: Last year I bought Butler’s amazing story of slavery and time travel, Kindred. I’d heard a lot of great things about Butler’s work, and I was excited to see what she brought to the subgenre of time travel fiction. And what she brought was a relevance that I’ve never experienced before. Being one of the all-time great time travel stories, Butler’s work uses the trope merely as a device to tell a much more important story about the impact of America’s greatest sin on American culture across centuries. One of Butler’s many gifts is writing with a voice and style that is, like the book’s main character, unstuck in time. Reading it with fresh eyes today, one would never guess that the novel debuted in 1979. If I was a history teacher, Kindred would be required reading.
3. Carlo Rovelli: When I was in high school, the class that most intrigued me was physics. Unfortunately, I also struggled with the work, and I squeaked by with a D+. The bad grade did little to dampen my interest, though, and I’m always looking for books on the topic that put things in terms I can understand. Rovelli’s The Order of Time is one of those books. Sort of. Rovelli does a great job breaking down his concepts into understandable terms and concepts, but at times they piled up and overwhelmed me. No fault of his, though. I mean, he illustrates complicated ideas with Smurfs, so I really have no-one to blame but myself. The Order of Time might win the competition for “Book I Marked Up and Made the Most Notes In.” There was something on almost every page that blew my mind. Simply put, Rovelli goes chapter to chapter, tearing time apart and then slowly rebuilding it. So cool.
4. Mark Waid: The 1990s are often cited as a decade when comic books were just plain terrible. And there are plenty of examples to support that claim. However, there were also plenty of bright spots. One of those was Waid’s run on DC Comics’ The Flash series. As a character, The Flash never appealed to me. Guy runs really fast. Ok. Now what? Waid answered that question with stories of legacy, time travel, and romance. In the midst of a grim ’n gritty era of comics storytelling, The Flash re-introduced a Silver Age sense of fun and high adventure. Every fan of mainstream superheroes has their own definitive version of certain characters. And thanks to Waid, “my” Flash will always be Wally West, racing against time to save the day.