• Category Archives Books and Literature
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  • Blasting off with Sci-Fi!


    I’ve loved science fiction my entire life. The idea of blasting off into space and landing on a distant planet, or maybe slipping into an alternative dimension where all the apes are purple and all the barnacles are made of gold? Yes please! I was two years old when Star Wars came into theaters, I grew up watching Star Trek re-runs, and even went to see the Black Hole in theaters (quite possibly the first time at a theater where I didn’t fall asleep during the movie).I love Sci-Fi so much that I almost feel like I can claim a deep love for the genre is in my genetics……and while I’m on the subject, I’ve got to say – I’ve never understood the stereotype of only nerds liking Sci-Fi. But then again, I am a nerd, so there’s that. Hell, I’m even wearing a t-shirt referencing Stargate (there’s no place like ). But I digress – there’s a war in science fiction – there’s those who care more about the fiction and less about the science, and there’s those who care more about the science and less about the fiction. Whose right? In my opinion, it depends on the piece of Science Fiction. There’s some simple rules one must follow when writing science fiction.

    1) One must know their audience:
    This is such a 101ism that it hurts to include this in this list. I know my readers enough to know that they know this already – but yet for the sake of completionism I feel I must say this. Knowing one’s audience is a basic part of writing, but this is especially important in this discussion, as science fiction fans are a diverse group of individuals. There’s physicists who study things that, quite frankly, I’ll never be able to understand. There’s people who can barely grasp the concept of warp speed. There’s the ten year old kid who saw Anakin Skywalker in the Phantom Menace as character they can relate to, there’s the disgruntled gen Xers who scoff at the prequels and swear by the original three. One has to know what kind of science fiction fan one is writing for, or else you’ll get something that no one likes. To add to this, knowing which audience you’re writing for means knowing which opinions can (and should) be ignored, and which opinions should be taken seriously. Are you writing the next 2001? Then don’t listen to the ten year old kids when they say it’s boring. Don’t listen to those who prefer Micheal Bay explosion type movies. Listen to someone you might find as a character on the Big Bang theory, because they’re the ones who are more likely to understand your creation. Likewise, don’t listen to the hard science crowd if you’re trying to write the next Skyline – though I will say that if you’re trying to do this, maybe you should just chop off your hands because Skyline was the worst movie ever.

    Skyline's brain removal was a perfect metaphor for what the movie did to the audience.
    Skyline’s brain removal was a perfect metaphor for what the movie did to the audience.
    2) One must have likable characters: I just said that Skyline was the worse movie ever written. That was not just a cheap jab – Skyline is seriously the worse movie I’ve ever seen. I hold it as the bottom measure of how bad a movie can be. There’s two things that made it bad: a) it felt like it was written by a board of directors and b) I just didn’t give a damn about the characters. Seriously – the main guy didn’t give a damn about his girlfriend until her life was threatened. He was going to leave because he knocked her up, but then he decided he needed her I guess. It was such a badly written character that I expected him to die pretty quickly, but he didn’t. He was harder to wipe out than a piece of crap stuck to a strand of butt hair and twice as disgusting. Now, maybe there was a small percentage of people who really liked him, but considering that movie was hated by so many people, I highly doubt it. I could go on, and on, and on….about how bad of a movie Skyline is – because seriously, I’ve found things more pleasant in my kitty’s litter box, but my point is if the audience doesn’t like your characters, you’ve failed! Look at Walking Dead. Look at Lost. Look at Star Trek (TOS and TNG). Heck, look at pretty much all of the Marvel Movies! Why are they so loved? Because you don’t want the main characters to get swallowed by black alien goo or zombified or just die. When they do, be it Tasha Yar or Lori Grimes or John Locke or (spoilers) Quicksilver, it’s a tragic thing. You’ve invested yourself into those characters, and even though they’re fictional people, you feel a sense of loss. This is how it always should be. You should be wanting your audience to care about your people enough that if you do choose to go all George RR Martin on them, your audience is going to be a bit pissed off.

    3) One must define what Science fiction is to them: In the last section, I mentioned The Walking Dead, Lost, Star Trek (TOS and TNG), and the marvel universe as examples of Science fiction. I chose these examples, because in a broad sense, they’re all science fiction. In truth however, I see The Walking Dead as horror, Lost as mystical fantasy, and the Marvel Movie Universe is mostly superheros. Again, they all have something involving science fiction, but if I’m writing Sci-Fi, I’m thinking about traveling to other worlds, or the implications of technology in the future or maybe life in an alternative universe. It should deal with issues, though it doesn’t have to be dystopic. It should be a world which we don’t live in now, though this world could be part of it’s history. This is by far no ironclad definition of science fiction, as I am only one voice amongst many – but if you write science fiction you better have at least some definition and focus. Again, The Walking Dead clearly has some science fiction involved – the virus is man made. However, the focus on the series isn’t really how to cure the virus – the focus is surviving a zombie apocalypse, which therefore puts it into a more horror category. The island on Lost has many mysteries, however they’re not scientific in nature. They’re mystical. The Marvel Universe? Well, science has been a huge part of creating most of those guys, but really the focus is a super hero focus. Star Trek however – that’s about exploring the galaxy. That’s about “boldy going where no one has gone before!” That to me is the heart of Science Fiction.

    4) Be it science or fiction, a sense of wonder and imagination is key: This almost needs no explanation but it still needs to be said. I tend to lean towards the fiction part of science, and therefore a sense of wonder and imagination really is key as I don’t really have the science to back up my writings. Sure, I’ll BS my way through some rudimentary physics or what have you, but the science part of the equation really is nothing more to me than a plot device. Honestly, my audience is not the physicist – but that means that I have to work extra hard to present the reader of anything I write with a sense of “wow! I wish that would really happen!” But while it’s not as important for a “hard science” piece to rely on a sense of wonder and imagination, it is important to provide a little. Hard science is, to be frank, boring as hell. It’s fascinating what it can do, but it’s still science fiction – not science. It’s taking a concept and theorizing (and I use the literary definition, not the scientific definition) what it’s implications might be in, say, 100 years. It’s about exploration of things beyond this world, and how it will effect humanity. Most hard science buffs I know really like Stargate, and I do too. I like it because they really do put me in a different place. I like it because it explores the morality scientific endeavors. It’s got action and adventure and big explosions, it’s got relationships and people being people (be it good or bad), it asks the basic “we can, but should we” questions when it comes to some technology (Asgardians singularity anyone?). It really is the balance between the two universes – and that’s why it was such a great series(s) and movie.

    In an alternative Universe, Han Solo is related to Mickey Mouse.
    In an alternative Universe, Han Solo is related to Mickey Mouse.
    5) Don’t be afraid to use an alternative universe: Look, not everything in sci-fi can be explained with modern science. The sooner you learn to accept this, the happier you will be. This concept is not just limited to science fiction by the way – pick a discipline, fictionalized it, and I guarantee they’ll get things wrong. Be it construction, be it medicine, be it the police, be it computer programming. I work in television – this is something TV shows should get right because they know how things work – but Television shows about television get things sooo wrong on so many levels. The reason being is that most things are boring without a little fictionalization added. They don’t make sense, or maybe they just look stale. This is why hard science fans gripe about movies such as independence day or Pacific Rim. But guess what? Science fiction, be it soft or hard or any firmness in between, likes to use Alternative dimensions. This is a great tool to explain why maybe your physics don’t work in this world, because maybe they’re not supposed to work in this world – they work in a different universe that has a different set of rules. I know hard science fans are going to hate this – but like I said, I’m not a hard science person.

    6) Your universe should be consistent
    : Don’t take that last point as an excuse to make your universe a place where any random thing might happen (unless there’s maybe an infinite improbability drive or something). Set your rules and use them. Do not stray too far. If they don’t work for you, then change them – but make the changes consistent or at least find a way to explain why all of a sudden you can travel three times the speed of light, when in chapter 4 you couldn’t even travel half that speed. It is fiction – but it’s science fiction. And even if it’s a different genre of fiction, any fiction worth their salt cares about consistency and continuity.

    May the Force be with you. May the Klingons and the Borg not attack on this day. May the Cylons leave you be. And may there be no Volgan Poetry in your future. Have fun, and write like the wind. Oh wait – that’s not Sci-Fi!

    May Everything you right be as awesome as this,
    May Everything you write be as awesome as this,

  • Characters in Ancient Vandal Literature

    bookofthehoursRecently, I’ve gained a fascination with Eastern European history. Of course, being of a literary mind, I’ve naturally read about literature of Eastern Europe, as literature always shows an interesting perception of the culture. While I’ve found many interesting styles, genres, and what have you, perhaps the most interesting of all I’ve found was a concept in Vandal literature.
    If you’re historically inclined, you’ll know the Vandals were the group that sacked Rome in 455 AD. They were the very epitome of barbarian, as they were unkempt, uncivilized, and generally unruly. If one googles Vandal literature, it’s hard to find anything about them….however….in my digging I did find one tasty tidbit. In Vandal literature, the characters fictional age had to match the year of their creation. For example, if a vandal had written an epic of King Gerogis the III in the year 432, King Gerogis had to be in his late 60s (for as we all know that King Gerogis was in fact born in the 360s or so). Likewise, if a fictional character were to be thought up today, but the stories of said character were to take place when said character was 28, the writer would have to wait 28 years after inventing the character to write about said character.
    This custom of age was not just a matter of social taboo, but a matter of law. Violating this law could actually carry a death sentence. For, it was not just an arbitrary law, this was about keeping the Hoi Polloi grounded in reality. I used the example of King Gerogis the III earlier, and this was no accident – for it was highly encouraged by the monarchs of the Vandals to write about their lives. King Wisimar (the first known Vandal King of the tribe of Hasdingi) put this law into place. Remnants of this law might have inspired early tales of Vlad the Impaler, which then of course inspired Bram Stroker’s Dracula…but I digress. The law was about celebrating the monarchs of the Vandals, as it is much simpler to write about a character who was about the same age as the hero in one’s story, than to invent the character 28 years earlier, and then wait to write about said character. Oh – but writers are complex people – and simplicity is often their enemy.
    In the beginning of the law, writers did in fact write about their “beloved” monarchs, however it wasn’t all that long until a few loopholes in the laws were found. As there was no log of invented characters, the writers would suddenly “remember” characters they invented as a child. Furthermore, as there was not a stipulation of who invented the character, writers would simply ask friends, family, etcetera for older characters as 33-year-old writer could not have invented say, a 55-year-old character. In some cases, older Vandals would sell characters of any age. This actually became a decent source of income to those whose physical bodies could not earn them a living any longer.
    And then the Monarchs closed the loophole. Sometime in the early 390s, a new law, stating that all characters shall be documented at the date of creation and registered by the magistrate was enacted, closing the loophole for ten or so years. However, art always finds a way. Savvy quasi-entrepreneurs saw a way to make money. The return wasn’t immediate, but to register a character for a nominal fee and sell the character at a later day could only bring about profit. It wasn’t long until everyone who could afford to do so, would register as many characters as they could. Characters would be sold at auction, used for personal investments, given away as a form of charity, and even written in as part of a will. Older characters were, of course, worth more than younger characters. Stories themselves became a group effort.
    The Monarchy admitted defeat. There were no shortage of characters to write about, and therefore the monarchy gave up on making writers write about monarchs. A great experiment of egotism was deemed a failure. However, greed was not so easily quelled. These were, of course, the same Vandals who sacked Rome. They were cunning, and never passed up an opportunity for gain. The monarchs saw how much income the character registrations were bringing in and they were pleased. But pleased or not, they also saw how much income the character market was bringing to the common people and it was far more than the character registration fees. The Monarchy decided that profit should, instead, be theirs and theirs alone. Once again, laws were scribed. Gone was the original law; a character’s fictional age vs its age of creation was no longer an issue. romeburningAlso gone were the registration of characters; writers no longer had to register characters at their inception. In place of the registration fees, a general character tax was issued. All characters in any piece of literature would be taxed, depending on its age. Just as it had once been easier to write about younger characters in the past, it was now economical to do so. The Monarchs had once again found a way to influence literature. Egotism of the original law bowed to the greed of the new law.
    Of course, there were always bribes to the local magistrates if one wanted an older character and could not afford one. This led to yet another chapter of Vandal characters. There was revolt amongst writers to bribe officials. Yes, it began as a matter of economics, but also became a matter of principle – a way to make sure the monarchs didn’t see the profits they so desired. Eventually – the monarchs gave up on the whole pursuit, and life went on. Stories were once again free to be written with characters of any age. And then the Vandals sacked Rome, and really that was the end of Vandal literature.
    In the end, did art win? Did greed? Were any of the Vandal writings really art? Very few of the Vandal writings have survived, so is it even possible to judge? Granted, it is theorized that Borges thought about characters in Vandal literature when he wrote The Lottery in Babylon. Of course, this is just a theory, and perhaps there is no evidence to support any of these claims.

  • Saving Narnia

    notaslanFor the last few weeks, I’ve had a strange obsession with anything Narnia related. Be it the books, the movies, or even the dated (yet decent) concept album “Roar Of Love” – I just can’t get enough of Narnia right now. This is the first time I’ve read the books as an adult, and I’ve got to say they hold up quite well. This really shouldn’t surprise me, as CS Lewis really was an intelligent man and an amazing author. Lewis has even written three books that I would consider my own, personal canon (Till we Have Faces, The Screwtape Letters, and The Great Divorce). As many of you know, the first book – The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, serves as an allegory for the coming of Christ, his death, and his resurrection. In fact, the deeper one digs into the allegory, the more one sees said allegory. For instance, Christmas comes as Aslan comes – Christmas is the Birth of Christ. Spring comes as Aslan faces his death (and spoilers, resurrection), Easter is in Spring. The two female children whom witness the resurrection of Aslan represent the women at the tomb of Jesus. Peter represents – well, Peter. Edmund represents Judas – I could probably write a 20 page paper on of the symbolism, and this is what makes it a good allegory – it isn’t just the stories lining up, it’s the symbolism. Wait a minute – did I say the stories line up? Because they don’t! True, the Stories of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe serves as an allegory for the Life, death, and Resurrection of Christ – but there are a few sections of the former which divert from the latter. The diversion of the two stories indicate that maybe, just maybe, there’s more to the story…

    Firstly, let’s look at the traitor, Edmund. If the stories were to align, Edmund, who represents Judas, would be killed in a gruesome manner and be hated for thousands of years and counting. Woe would be upon him, and he would have been better unborn. So what happens to Edmund then? Well, he’s forgiven by Aslan and, along with his siblings, becomes a beloved monarch of Narnia. If the stories of Christ and of Narnia (at least the Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe) were to align, then Edmund’s fate would indeed be different – more gruesome, and a lot less pleasant.

    But perhaps Edmund is a poor example on how the two stories align. After all – while Edmund represents Judas, a strong argument could also be made to say that Edmund also represents Humanity in general. After all, it was Aslan sacrificing himself for Edmund, just as Christ sacrificed himself for the sake of humanity. If the Judas / Edmund connection were the only case of the two stories not aligning, I seriously doubt I would pursue this subject at all. However, there is another section in particular is a more of a misalignment.

    TheLionWitchWardrobe(1stEd)Aslan has been taken by Jadis to be sacrificed instead of Edmund. Those followers loyal to Aslan prepared to fight the forces of Jadis. If the two stories lined up perfectly, the followers of Aslan would hide in fear of their lives, just as the Disciples of Christ hid after the crucifixion. Those disciples who did not fear repercussions (or perhaps just didn’t care), went back to their old lives – back to their fishing boats. Regardless of the reaction of the disciples, it was not the reaction of the people of Narnia. The disciples of Christ had lost hope. They knew nothing could bring Jesus back. Those loyal to Aslan didn’t seem to care that there was no hope left even though Aslan was dead and they also would die if they fought. Perhaps they could have fled to another land, perhaps they could have made a deal with Jadis – maybe spend a year as a stone statue in punishment – and then back to their normal lives again. Mind you, I digress a little, but the point is that the people of Narnia, much like the disciples of Christ, did not have any hope – yet unlike the disciples of Christ, the people of Narnia did not let the lack of hope change their decision to fight Jadis and her forces. If The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe were a perfect allegory, the people of Narnia would not have fought this battle.

    So – the stories of The lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and that of the Life, death, and resurrection of Christ do not line up. What’s the big deal? I entitled this article “Saving Narnia” for a reason. The fact that the two stories do not intertwine perfectly means that there’s room for other interpretations of the stories of Narnia, other than that of allegory. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with seeing “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and the other stories as an allegory for the life, death, and resurrection of Christ – but it’s far from the only interpretation that can be found in this story. If there is textual evidence for an interpretation can be found, then that interpretation is true regardless of what the author says. Granted, the fact that there might be several interpretations to a story is English Lit 101. Still, there are those that believe if you do not interpret the Narnia stories in their own, narrow, viewpoint, then you are wrong. This is hardly the case, and far be it from me to commit the intellectual fallacy, but I believe that CS Lewis would fully agree that one could find alternative meanings to any story.

    If you have an alternative interpretation to the Narnia books, don’t be afraid to share and discuss them. This shouldn’t be something that needs to be said, but even in our increasingly secular culture, the Jesus interpretation of the Narnia books seems to be the only one that is accepted. Even Robot Chicken describes Aslan as “The Jesus allegory lion.” But one should never push their interpretation of literature (or music, or movies, or video games, or…) on any other person. One should present their case, yes, but one should also be open to other interpretations, as interpretations will differ in a subjective mediums. If you find an “unorthodox” interpretation of the Narnia books – or any books for that matter – fight for it like the followers of Aslan fought the forces of Jadis. Your personal interpretation is your own personal Narnia – and Narnia needs to be saved.

  • To burn, or not to burn…

    Fahrenheit 451 warned us of the dangers involved in book burning and censorship. I grew up hearing stories of libraries in the 1950s burning books they thought were inappropriate. One of the funniest scenes in the Indiana Jones franchise involves Indiana Jones meeting Hitler at a book burning. Book burning has become synonymous with evil and censorship. So when a church in Florida announced that they will be burning copies of the Koran on September 11th, there was, of course an outrage. After all, burning a book some deem as holy says the burners want a religion censored and even banned, never mind the first amendment! Or are they? While I’m sure this group of “Christians” would love for every copy of the Koran to be ripped off of library and bookstore shelves all across the country, thus burning in a fire fit to destroy the one ring of power, there’s also another side of book burning. That side is one of peaceful demonstration and protest.

    Let me clarify my stance on the matter before anyone thinks that I’m siding with the church in Florida. I do not support their efforts to burn the Koran. Having said that, I do support their right to protest, however blindly, anything they wish to protest. Sure, they’re wrong, and downright stupid – not to mention hypocritical – but as Evelyn Beatrice Hall once said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” These people have the right to peacefully protest Islam, just as the Muslims have the right to practice religion. And like I said, I do NOT side with their beliefs on this matter. I believe they’re being hypocritical and unloving. They are proclaiming their hatred for another religion – one they probably feel should not be covered under the first amendment. However, they are not actually harming anyone, and they are not forcing any censorship – that’s what makes this specific book burning different then the Nazi book burnings.

    Twice in this article, I’ve called these soon to be book burners “hypocritical.” This is true on two levels. There’s the obvious level. They are, essentially saying the first amendment is only for Christians. They are saying that you only have the right to practice religion if you are practicing their religion. The second level of hypocrisy is somewhat ironic. These “Christians” are not following the commands of Christ, and hence they are being hypocritical to their own religion. Christ himself commanded his followers to “Love your neighbor as you love yourself,” (Luke 10:26) and to “Do to others as you want them to do to you” (Luke 6:31). How is taking another religion’s sacred texts and burning them following either of these commandments? Would these “Christians” like it if the Muslims were burning the Bible? Would these Christians stand up in outrage if another religion wanted Christianity exempt from the first amendment? I guarantee you that these “Christians” would be outraged if either of these things happened. And yet, these “Christians” do the very thing to the Muslims. Oh, and this is not just about banning a religion. They chose to do this on September 11th – this is about vengeance. Never mind Mathew 5: 38-42 (turn the other cheek), never mind Romans 12:19 (Vengeance is mine sayeth the lord) – these “Christians” want revenge.

    Again, I say that while I support the rights of those who plan on burning the Koran, I also wish they wouldn’t. It seems like something that will do more harm than good. It’s not going to attract any more followers to Christianity. It’s not going to change the first amendment – which is a good thing. It’s not going to change the hearts of any Muslim. Rather, it’s going to scare away would be followers of Christianity. It’s going to make more and more people wonder if perhaps the first amendment should exempt Christians, and it will give more ammo to the extremist factions found in Islam. So while I certainly respect the rights of these “Christians” to protest, perhaps it would be better for all parties involved if they worked on other efforts.

  • Are we burning our books yet?

    Before I get into this article I want to express that I do not want to trade my book collection for a Kindle. There are several reasons why: personal preference, simple practicality, and even contribution to social injustice. Having said that, I would not actually mind owning a Kindle (or another brand of e-book reader). With every technology, e-book readers have their flaws and their benefits. Will the benefits outweigh the flaws? Maybe. Like I said earlier: there are several reasons why I hate the idea of e-book readers, and a few reasons why I love the idea.

    Let’s start with the reasons I don’t like the idea of e-books. My number one reason is that of ascetics. There is nothing like wandering into Powell’s late on a Saturday night. It brings me great joy to sift through a mound of books in the coffee room and figure out what book(s) I want to buy. It is almost ritualistic; I’ve been doing this for most of my adult life. But asides from this ritual, there’s the pleasure of finding bookmarks, receipts, and who knows what else in the binds of an old book. There’s the fact that I like to underline and write in and highlight and even look at what others have written and underlined and highlighted in books. There is also the feeling of holding a book in your hands, just flipping through it, page after page. There’s the smell of a book. I could go on and on with the different aesthetic qualities paper books have. These things are things we would loose if we all read e-books exclusively. I find the idea almost heartbreaking.

    Asides from aesthetics, one reason I do not like e-books is they are, in many cases, simply impractical and limited. If one drops their e-book reader and breaks said e-book reader, one cannot read their books. If the batteries go out on one’s e-book reader, one cannot read their books. If one is in a dusty and/or damp place one cannot read their books. The E in e-book stands for electronics – which tend to be very fragile. And let’s not forget: e-book readers usually cost a couple hundred dollars. If you leave your e-book reader on the bus, you are out that much…whereas if you leave your paperback book on the bus, it might cost 20 bucks at the most to replace (and usually one can find a used copy for significantly lower costs). The very thing innovation in e-book readers, their “electronic” nature, is also their fatal flaw.

    I mentioned briefly the cost involved with e-book readers, and how this contributes to their impracticality. The cost also contributes to another reason why I do not like e-book readers: the idea of e-book readers contributes to a social injustice in our society. In a truly paperless book society, the poorest people will not have access to books because they cannot afford e-book readers. This is setting up a scary precedent – a divide between those that can afford to read, and those that cannot. There is already the digital divide between those who are and are not online. A paperless book society will in fact strengthen this divide. Information in any form will not be available to those who cannot afford an e-book reader. There is also the college student to think about. It is a probability that some of the first publishers to go fully paperless will be the textbook publishers. Textbook publishers HATE the used book industry, and make great strives to put out new editions as often as they possibly can, so as to increase their profits. If these publishers can sell e-books instead of paper books (coupled with DRM), the average student will HAVE to buy a new book, thus upping the cost of books by hundreds of dollars. And again, if said student is studying on the bus or in the park or wherever and they forget their e-book reader, they are out a couple hundred dollars. Most college students live on student loans and part time jobs, and really don’t have that much cash to spend every-time they forget their book. I know when I was in college, I freaked out about loosing a 45-dollar book! I can’t even imagine what it might be like to loose a two hundred dollar book!

    Don’t get me wrong – e-books have their place; there are pros to e-books and e-book readers. Most of the pros, from my viewpoint, have to do with reducing bulk. If you’re like me, you have dozens of magazines which you do not want to get rid of, yet do not quite know what to do with! If one could obtain digitized copies of said magazines, as well as future issues, one could eliminate the piles of said magazines. Another bulk reducing pro: I really do not care to own all the books I read. A great deal of my books end up proudly displayed on my bookshelf awaiting for the next time I want to read said book (or at the very least, loan it out). However, a lot of the books I have are destined to be sold back to Powell’s or given to a thrift store (quite possibly in the middle of the night – dumped on their front door so they can’t say “sorry, we don’t want these”). E-book readers could very well eliminate the bulk of these books. E-book readers could especially be useful for those who buy airport novels (though why anyone would read such trash is beyond me!). And of course, bulk reduction means less trees killed to produce books; e-books are made of pixels, so e-books are better for the environment.

    Many advocates of e-books believe it is inevitable for books to go fully electronic in the near future. These people point to the digitizing of music and movies over the last decade – thus books are logically the next thing to digitize. These advocates forget something: The dominant medium for music and movies changes every ten years or so. In music alone, the dominant format has changed from records to 8-tracks to cassettes to CDs, and now to digital formats such as mp3s and mp4s. Books, on the other hand, have not had such an evolution. Books have been around thousands of years, and about the biggest format change is that of handwritten scrolls to printed books. Books are probably the most stable information medium the world has ever known. So are we going to just burn our libraries and go to an all digital format? Only time will tell, but given the history, it is not very likely – and I’m just fine with that. All things considered, e-books have their place, but e-books have their boundaries as well.