To take a break from writing Part II of my analysis of Robert Rodriguez’s The Faculty, I thought I’d toss out another recommendation for those looking for a quick read. Today’s reading rec is ” ‘— All You Zombies —’ “ by Robert A. Heinlein.
Published in 1959, ” ‘— All You Zombies —’ ” is the classic science-fiction time travel paradox. Initially, the story seems mundane enough at first: it is set primarily in a bar as one character tells another his life story. But, as time travel stories tend to do, things are not quite what they seem and what begins as a simple, straightforward tale ends up bending through time and space (and the reader’s brain as they try to follow along).
Reading is an important part of a child’s development. A good deal of essential brain development occurs in the first three years of an infant’s life, well before even learning to read. In recognition of this fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents begin reading to infants from birth: “reading, as well as talking and singing, is viewed as important in increasing the number of words that children hear in the earliest years of their lives.”
So what books should parents read to babies? For newborns, it does not seem to matter what you read to them, so long as you are reading something. They “understand the emotion in the words that are being read to them very, very early” but not the content: at this point “it starts with the parent’s enjoyment and then becomes a shared enjoyment” of reading. So, for the science-fiction and fantasy lover, start your newborn on whatever captures your imagination, whether it is A Game of Thrones or a Star Wars expanded universe novel (I understand the Thrawn trilogy is essential for the true Star Wars fan).
But after a few months, when you notice your baby’s starting to respond to the meaning of the words, you will have to make a switch from Red Wedding twists to something a bit more age appropriate. But what could possibly be age appropriate for a baby and also keep you entertained?
Here are some of the books I grew up on that helped to foster a love of fantastical things, and that I would return to again as an adult.
During undergrad, my film professor said that were she trapped on a desert island, the two films she would want to have with her were Sunset Boulevard (1950) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). The woman had impeccable tastes and inspired in me a deep love for horror and the macabre. While I am not sure about films, I have often thought about the books I would want with me on a desert island. The following, in no particular order, are some of my essential desert island books.
I discovered Hyperion late in high school when I had just started to really read book with depth, and what depth this book has! Simmons weaves the structure of The Canterbury Tales and the poetry of John Keats into a masterful scifi epic. A book one can read over and over, each new visit to Hyperion reveals nuances and references previously missed. It is a scifi epic that has something for everyone: a father worried deeply for his daughter’s health, a military man battleworn and weary, a forlorn poet in search of his muse, a detective searching for the answer to a complicated mystery.
Even though each traveler’s tale is different than the last—sometimes moving into what seems to be an entirely different genre—the shifts never feel awkward or disjointed. Simmons’ skill in storytelling shines here as each character spins a separate tale which gradually interweave and coalesce into a complete, interconnected whole.