Here's a list of ten random bits from literature, as responded to by me (feel free to comment with your own entries or steal it for your own nefarious purposes):
- Best short stories I’ve ever read
"Sandkings" by George R. R. Martin and "Call Me Joe" by Poul Anderson. The former more so than the latter. Both stories are brilliant though and the Martin one is particularly clever. I'd recommend both. "Sandkings" was actually turned into an episode of Outer Limits starring Beau Bridges, which is pretty darn cool in my book.
- Book I finished reading and wanted to re-read straight away
I've never been in a position where I have finished the book and immediately wanted to reread it. To be honest, I'm usually itching to try something else...fast. I have reread 1984, however, and will probably do so again, but there are just too many books out there for me to continuously reread things.
- Favourite books from my childhood
I don't actually remember much of my childhood, let alone any books I read during that time. The only stories I remember from that time are vague in details, mostly involving frogs and all emitted from my grandmother in the brief moments before bedtime. Books that are perhaps the first that I remember and still favor would be 1984 by George Orwell, Watership Down by Richard Adams, and Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare.
- Best film of the book I have seen
Lord of the Rings, all three of them. Absolutely gorgeous and I don't think you could possibly have brought the books to life any better than the makers of those films did. Simply stunning and memorable (and will be for a long time, I'm sure).
- Most overlooked/underrated novels
Duncton Wood and the books that follow it by William Horwood. I rarely, if ever, hear about this series and it surprises me. Either people don't know about Mr. Horwood or there's a conspiracy keeping him in the dark. His series puts Brian Jacques's books to shame. Brilliantly complex animal fantasy, but without all the ridiculous nonsense of sword-carrying hamsters and what not. If you liked Watership Down, then you will undoubtedly love Duncton Wood.
- Books that should be on the national curriculum
I would like to see some of the classic SF/F authors in the national curriculum, particularly Isaac Asimov, Margaret Atwood, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Poul Anderson, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, and others. The thing that needs to be done with the national curriculum is an increase of variety. It's wonderful that we have staple texts, but those texts don't have to always be taught. Charles Dickens wrote more than A Tale of Two Cities; Mark Twain wrote more than Huckleberry Finn; and Shakespeare wasn't the only playwright of consequence in his time. It's okay to shift things around, try different books, modern books, older books, middle-age books. The more variety, the better chance you have of getting kids interested in literature. Wouldn't you have found reading more enjoyable if you got to read books in genres you were interested in?
- Most famous author I have met who acted like a prat
Honestly, I can't think of a single author I have met who acted like a prat. I've met William Gibson, Kim Stanley Robinson, Karen Joy Fowler, and many others (even film directors) and not a single one of them has ever been anything but courteous to me. Maybe I'm not meeting the kinds of people this particular item is directed towards and I suspect that I will never meet those kinds of people.
- My favourite bookshop
Oh boy. I have a problem. I can't pick a favorite. Santa Cruz has three bookstores in the same area (downtown) and all of them are good to a certain degree. I'm going to toss out Borders for being a chainstore and focus on actual independent stores. But then I have another problem. There are two independent stores downtown: Logo's and Bookshop Santa Cruz. Both have strengths that I like. Logo's is fantastic for finding old, obscure, long-forgotten used SF/F titles (and for finding relatively new or popular used titles too). Bookshop Santa Cruz has the luxury of being staffed with people who actually know what the hell they are talking about and a good catalogue of books.
On a non-local scale, however, I would have to say that Powell's City of Books is by far the greatest place for book lovers. It's enormous (and in Portland)!
- Authors whose work should immediately be translated into English
Well, to be honest, since I only read in English, I can't rightly say. I don't know any non-English authors who haven't already been translated. So, I guess what I will say is that anyone who is writing science fiction or fantasy and isn't translated, well, they should be.
- Deceased author I’d most like to meet
Poul Anderson. That is all!