Growing up Alien – A Blast From The Past from September 2007

Growing up Alien- A Blast From The Past from September 2007

Apropos the last entry — multi-culti tutti fruti — my husband said the child should do a presentation on the culture of writers.  Laura then expanded on this with several perfectly apropos observations on what the children of self-employed intellectuals learn.  This got me to thinking about — specificaly — what growing up with parents who both write science fiction, fantasy and mystery has done to our kids.  I don’t know if it qualifies as a culture, mind you.  our family is arguably a group — just not a large group.  We could, arguably, be considered a sub culture.  Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock talked about just such a splintering of subcultures, some with very little to do with the other, none really having much to do with people’s antecedents.  He didn’t of course factor in the internet, which makes such cultures geographically spread out.  My kids and Dave Freer’s kids understand each other completely — over Skype.  They’ve never met in person.  Most of Robert’s classmates think his points of reference are bizarre.

So, if Robert wanted to write about the subculture of kids growing up in a house with two writing parents who are both sf/f geeks, he would write this:

When I was very, very young, I thought “editor” was a swear word — it was just the tone mom said it in.  It took me till I used it in Kindergarten to realize that it wasn’t.

Names that my parents hold in utter reverence — Heinlein, Bradbury, Pratchett — are utterly unknown to my classmates.  On the other hand, when I found out my history teacher (10th grade) read Baen, it was like meeting a long-lost uncle.

When I was five and wrote a Winnie the Pooh story — twenty pages long and with a complex plot — mom and dad did not congratulate me on my achievement.  Instead they sat me down and explained I should never use someone else’s copyrighted characters.  Never, ever, ever.

Mom and dad would forgive dirt behind the ears.  They would never forgive bad grammar, though.

Apparently when you demand chocolate in the grocery store, other parents don’t answer TANSTAAFL.  Other parents don’t quote the sayings of Lazarus Long at their kids.  Other parents don’t tell their children their lego spaceships would never fly, nor exhort them to “do the math.”

On the other hand, most other parents don’t subscribe to science news and don’t leave books on forensic crime investigation in the bathroom.

Some of the worst arguments I’ve had with my mother are over vocabulary.  She has a this thing about words she calls “ugly” and “clunky.”  Then there’s my dad.  We argue about physics and math.  And have shouting matches over what exactly the fourth dimension is.

When I was twelve and still not published, I got a long discourse on how I was just being lazy and refusing to learn to plot.  Then mom gave me ten books to read on the subject.  Mind you, I wanted to write, but they wanted me to do it right.

There are books in every room in the house, even the bathrooms.  There are books in laundry baskets under the guest bed.  There are books in steamer trunks in the attic and in plastic boxes in the basement.

The worst social gaffe a friend of the family ever committed at our house was when she told me — aloud, during Thanksgiving dinner — my stories were not very logical and my universe should be more like Star Trek.  You could see dad biting his tongue.  And I think mom went into the kitchen and laughed.

My brother and I never played catch.  Or hide and seek.  We have however, since Eric  Marshall was very young, played a make-believe game in which our house is an interstellar spaceship and all four of us are explorers.  The cars are our away pods.  The office is the control center.

People discussing plots at the dinner table is just normal.  We learned to chime in with ideas by the time we were two.

On the other hand, it’s not a good idea to describe these plots to your kindergarten teacher.  She calls your mom and interrupts her.  And she gets “concerned.”  (Woman thought Robert was claiming to have seen an alien.  Sigh.)

It’s not a good idea to interrupt mom when she’s really writing fast.  She throws books at you.  And while I know she aims to miss you — she aims very badly.  And dictionaries HURT.

If mom is in one of her writing frenzies, you need to remember to feed pets.  You also need to remind her to eat.  Sleep.  Bathe.  And there’s really nothing alarming if she suddenly looks up and says “What’s my middle name?”  These things happen.

It’s not polite to call dad an “editor” even if he’s edited two anthologies.

Mom and dad both expect you to learn a bunch of things on your own.  If you fail to do it, you get pointed at the appropriate bookshelf.  Sometimes at the inappropriate one.

NEVER tell either parent “I’m bored.”  You’ll find yourself buried under a mountain of books.

Sometimes the plumber who just came over to fix the back up in the basement will ask for mom’s autograph.  He’ll do it while you’re sitting right there at the breakfast table eating your cheerios.  Mom says she didn’t pay him to do that, and mom is an honest woman.

Sometimes people in appliances stores will give your parents discounts because they’ve read their stuff.

But the weirdest thing is that mom and dad inhabit a world all their own.  For instance, while visiting the aquarium in Denver, we came across an aquarium where ALL the piranha were facing in one direction.  In neat rows.  Dad immediately got up on a little stand nearby and started speaking to them — in the “you’ll never go hungry again” style.  Yes, we were alone there at the moment — but then a woman came in.

The look on her face reminds me, that as the son of SF/F writers, I grew up alien.

159 responses to “Growing up Alien – A Blast From The Past from September 2007

  1. I would pay money to see the piranha rally speech – and the look on the woman’s face. 😀

  2. … and mom is an honest woman.

    But who made you one, eh?

  3. I’m laughing so hard, my coworkers are asking if I’m okay!

    Oh, and Larry just posted that Sarah’s writing a story for Monster Hunter Tales. I can’t wait!

  4. RealityObserver

    Thank you for unearthing this! Starting the day with a belly laugh is always good.

  5. Lovely!

    Did you know that it’s possible to walk into somebody’s house and see no books anywhere? I know, it sounds bizarre. (Currently we have no books in the front room due to incipient toddler. Well, none below four feet off the ground.)

    • Slight tangent—you know you’re an alien when they do a big reveal (that K.J. Parker is a pseudonym for author Tom Holt), and you’re astonished that they kept it a secret for seventeen years… because you were in on the secret because of a mutual friend. And it’s not weird at all to be in on a secret of that apparent magnitude because of COURSE you know people…

      (P.S. Thank goodness that’s finally out. I had to develop the phrase “Not my secret to tell,” because people would pressure me when they found out I knew.)

      • Tom Holt had more books out, and I was not told?? Argh argh argh.

        Oh… it’s those engineer fantasy books that looked kinda fun, but then I thought, “Oh, that cover looks totally grim, doesn’t look like there’s any sense of humor….” Argh argh argh argh.

        • Oh, dear. I rather like Holt’s people, but unlike Pratchett his plots tend to blow up two thirds of the way through, though there are exceptions. FLYING DUTCH is as funny a book as I’ve ever read.

          There seems to be a genera in British fiction of these farcical novels. They don’t have to be fantasy (Tom Sharpe did political amd social commentary, see PORTERHOUSE BLUE), though the ones we see tend to be. And the plots tend to blow up, which I suppose is a characteristic of farce. In film the last fifteen minutes of a farce are often an extended chase scene that is riotously funny, and makes no damn sense. Pratchett was a genuis in that he could hold the plot together.

          Anyway, I would love to read something with Holt characters and a plot that was more grounded, but I have to say these look depressing.

          Anyone here read them? Are they good? WIKI seems to think that the themes tend to be about self-destruction, and I don’t need that.

          As the BETOND THE FRINGE sketch puts it “When I go to the theatre, I want to be taken out of myself. I don’t want to see lust and rape and incest and sodomy! I can get all that at home!”

          • They’re well-written, and especially dense on the siege warfare stuff. They are NOT for light-hearted reading, and the people are Not Nice, in the way of Greek heroes. You’ll be interested in the characters and possibly even invested in them without ever liking them.

            Honestly, with the popularity of Game of Thrones, they’re not so out there in terms of dark fantasy, and they deal with fewer people.

            So… they’re good. And they hold together well. And they’re interesting enough to keep you reading through. But light-hearted, they are *not*. The Fencer trilogy basically ends with the protagonist being taken off to his version of living Hell, and he pretty much deserves it.

        • They really aren’t funny books, though the humor does occasionally shine through. It’s actually more effective, because far too much Grim Fantasy eliminates all humor EVER, which eliminates the value of contrast.

    • My favorite is looking at what the interior designer thought constituted ample built-in bookshelves. Not even ample enough for my “2B Read” stacks, much less mine & Beloved Spouse’s reference works, not to get into our accumulated libraries.

      Wide halls are an excellent location for bookcases, although “read and waiting to be shelved” books tend to obstruct traffic flow.

      • I’m more or less resigned to that. What gets ME is the way houses are still being built with one of at most two double outlets per wall. I thought architects used computers, these days. Clearly very little thought is going on.

      • Worse… the interior designer thought that “bookshelves” have to be 1 foot deep and more than a foot between shelves. And all your books (and DVDs and…) end up being shelved two deep in two rows on end and then two deep lying on their sides on top of the others.

        And somehow you keep on getting more, even when you *think* you only buy ebooks… they just… spawn…

        • build little platforms, so you have a little staircase in each shelf. (Has done this.)

        • or the ‘bookshelves’ that are only tall enough for paperbacks…

        • There are actually historical reasons for that, apparently—it is only in the last century or so that books have had spines capable of being stood on their edge, so bookshelves were designed for larger books to lay flat. The fact that builders and architects haven’t caught up to the concept of bookshelves that actually fit modern books testifies to the concept of inertia and to the fact that a distressing number of people think the “book” part of “bookshelf” is superfluous.

    • I’m not sure that a…structure containing no books anywhere qualifies as a home. At least not one that’s being lived in by people. No books below 4 feet of the floor? That I can see, especially with a toddler in the vicinity.

      • sabrinachase

        I concur. I’ve been in houses and with a creeping sense of dread realize there ARE NO BOOKS. Then I have to start a diversionary fire to escape before Rod Serling shows up. It’s like the nightmares where people have no faces. *shudder*

        • Yeah, but now it’s all ebooks. How can you tell how many books somebody’s got? You can’t, unless you’ve got cybervision.

          • sabrinachase

            It’s not the number. It’s presence/nonpresence. Even a single book counts. Ebooks have only really been in action since 2010, for general consumers, and there will NEVER be ebook versions of some of the stuff I have in my library. Yes, I have a library in my house. Do not judge me.

            • While I have books tucked away in most every space available I no longer buy paper copies of fiction books. It is mostly due to space considerations but it is also super nice to be able to carry a library around in my pocket especially since my job often has me in remote locations for extended periods of time at very short notice. One of my coworkers was once stuck in Savoonga for six weeks with no books.

              • This. And mid-moving this is important. Last time we moved (to house we’re now selling) we had 250 boxes of books. That’s known as “foundation killing weight.” So now we cut back and most of it is e books.

                • Our weekend plans for next weekend include “moving four more bookcases in from the storage unit, and installing anti-tip straps for the bookcases, because the floor under the carpet isn’t level.”

                  Sure we have ebooks. We took over 40 boxes of books to the used book store, because we now have ebook versions. But sometimes there’s no ebook, or the ebook is $14.99 and the used book is a penny plus shipping… Books accumulate, you know.

                  • Yeah on the penny plus shipping. Been known to do that. PLUS I don’t like e-research-books. G-d alone knows why.

                    • I know why I don’t really like them. It’s hard to flip back and forth through them quickly, looking for something.

                    • yeah. You can search per word on the kindle, but I have a first gen paperwhite and it’s … awkward.

                    • “It’s hard to flip back and forth through them quickly, looking for something.”

                      Once upon a time, this was hard for dead tree books too. That was because they were in scroll form. About the beginning of Christianity, someone invented a new form: the codex. Christians loved it. Pagans hated it. As in, archeological digs from that era normally find more than 90% of pagan works in scrolls, and more than 90% of Christian, in codices.

                      You notice that the codices won. 0:)

                    • My OCD always acts up when I see the next book in a series on the HB Remainder table for $3 less than the PB I have picked out. No matter how sternly I lecture it about getting more books for the bucks it always groans and whines “but … the shelving, the Shelving!”

                      We won’t discuss the arguments it and I have about buying books in a series where the !#$@% publisher introduced a new cover motif partway through the run.

                      Nor its response to the PB re-release of all the Burroughs Tarzan with new covers by Neal Adams … and we were nearly banned from three book dealers over the arguments OCD & I had over the re-issued Nero Wolfe books, with brief introductory essays by various and renowned mystery authors. “But look! This has an introduction by Lawrence Block! This one has Sharyn McCrumb and this one over here is by Max Allan Collins! Is that a Ross Kaminsky essay?????”

                    • I’m an annotator, and you still can’t do that well on a Kindle. Plus trying to copy excerpts (fair academic use) is easier from paper pages. And the page number problem . . . Even _Chicago_ has yet to decide how to cite e-book locations and pages, as of the last time I checked. Research books are on paper.

                    • I keep hearing that e book non fiction is often missing some or all of the photos and illustrations.

                    • ONLY the scanned from Gutenberg stuff, and usually there’s two versions, one with and one without.

                    • often missing some or all of the photos and illustrations.

                      Seems that way, and even when the pictures are there I don’t think they’re all that useful. As much as I love my Kindle, I still prefer hardcopies for things like reference books or books where the pictures are important.

                    • This is why we also have Fires.

                    • Even with the Fire, I prefer a hard copy if the images are really important to the book.

            • You have a library in your house? Interesting choice.

              We found it more efficient to have our house in a library. Still, different books for different nooks*, right?

              *Or different kindles if that’s what floats your e-boat. I make no judgement here.

            • Gee, I think it’s more like I have a bed in my library.

              • Back when I was a working librarian, I would look enviously at my rolling, compacting shelving. Give them nice solid wook shelf ends, and attach some decent framed art and they’d make a very nice addition to any private library.

                They were also why the library got moved to the ground floor so we had poured foundation and they didn’t have to spend $??? completely rebuilding the place like they had for the new pharmacy robot.

                Having to shift the contents of 750+ feet of shelving every year or two as I moved the previous years volume(s) from current periodical shelving to archival (volume 20 of any given journal always takes up at least twice as much space as volume 10 did) probably also contributed to the shoulder damage that is being repaired next month.

            • Let me turn you on to Blue Leaf Scanning. They will turn an out of print book into an ebook for you. I’ve done it with THE RABBOE ROUSERS and THE BUTTERFLY KID. The process isn’t perfect, but the results are readable.

          • I almost never purchase anything other than ebooks for myself or my husband nowadays. I don’t have the shelf space as it is, in twenty-odd years I hope to retire to a motor home (what can I say? I like the thought of getting out of NYC and traveling all over while staying at home, even if that means I’m living in a trailer), my husband likes being able to resize the text (he got his eyes fixed, which gives him distance vision at a cost of his near vision), I like being able to read in the dark without a flashlight, etc. And I’m acquiring replacements for my paper books when I find the same things available inexpensively. (The exceptions, btb, are free books, cookbooks, and shit-hits-the-fan books.)

            I do buy books for our sons, though.

            My 1.5 year old is allowed to play with board books freely. He’s only allowed electronics sometimes, and only when they’re in a protective case, and honestly mostly because he’s so good at whining.

            My 5 year old, on the other hand, would be allowed use of Mommy or Daddy’s Kindles any time he actually wanted to read, but there are enough children’s books that he never asks for that purpose. He wants tablets for television and video games, instead. (Books, however, are easier to smuggle into bed when he doesn’t want to sleep as early as he’s ordered into it.)

          • Birthday girl

            Yes. We have been gradually getting rid of books since our high point of 25+ years ago, when the moving men told us we needed to get out more … we’re very grateful for e-readers … so in our house, unless you go into my bedroom, you usually won’t see books. Oh, wait, I keep one on the dining table for lonely lunch reading …

          • Browsable magazines, at least– and it just doesn’t work the same to have an e-copy of, oh, the Bible or Hank, The Cow Dog.

        • Mind you, I’m tranferring 2/3 of my library to ebook. That only leaves five very large bookcases, three smaller ones, and of course the boys have their own.

          • Wow I have more bookshelves the Sarah. 8 Large bookcases.

            • Oh, we had more. We just reduced to move, so we got rid of all the pressboard ones. The idea is if we don’t find a house with built ins (I have a lot of books in boxes, right now) we’ll buy unfinished pine. Pressboard is ugly and a b*tch to move.

              • Well you’ve seen mine solid cherry. Of course the next time I move will be to a nursing home or worse. But that hopefully will be in the far future my Dad lived to 98.

        • Heh, heh, heh…

          We covered every available wall with bookshelves decades ago. After that, they started piling up on the floor.

          Visitors almost always ask the same question; “Have you read all those books?” No, we just bought them for their insulation value…

          Visitors will then start looking around nervously, and then the second question: “Where is your television.” We don’t have one…

      • Not just toddlers. I have one shelf just off the floor that I can’t fill completely, because the cats remove enough books to allow them to hide behind the rest.

        • There’s your mistake. It’s not your house and it’s not your book shelf. It belongs to the cats, they just let you live there as long as you keep feeding them.

        • Robert teethed on my Agatha Christie collection. It was on the bottom two shelves. For some reason, when I told Mrs. Heinlein this, she laughed and laughed…

        • My toddler takes the books off the shelf so she can nap there. This is why we bolt bookshelves to walls.

      • Yes. I’d hate to tell you how many books Cedar managed to destroy once she started crawling! (She’d probably hate to know, too!)

    • Some years ago, in one of the Readers Digest Life in These United States anecdotes, a woman noted that, when he was at a loss for a birthday present for a friend, she suggested that her 16-year-old son buy him a book. His response? “I don’t think so, mom … he already has a book.”

      • I remember my mom telling me, in horror, of seeing a small child in a store wanting his mom to buy him a book and the mom saying “no you can’t have it, you’ll just read it up”.

        If that’s the alternative, I’ll be an alien.

      • So weird. “Mom, buy this book for so-n-so for his birthday.” That’s how that’s supposed to work.
        Of course, at least one Christmas present each year for each kid is a book.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          In our family, after we started earning our own money, it was get Paul/Ruth a book-store gift card.

          After all, if we saw it and wanted it, we won’t wait for Christmas and/or birthdays. [Very Big Grin]

        • We strive to find one non-book present each year for each family member. Sure, it’s socks, but what are you gonna do?

          • Socks and underwear for the boys. 🙂

            • I resented getting socks and underwear as presents when I was a kid. Now that I’m an adult, yearly re-order sounds about right, and it saves hassle to schedule it on a date I’ll remember… My mother laughed when I told her I now buy myself socks and underwear for Christmas.

            • RealityObserver

              I blush to say that nobody in my family knew you could get things that are *not* books from Amazon until about a year ago…

              It’s amazing how excited all of us get at a piece of paper from the laser printer with a gift code on it.

          • That’s the problem with picky readers. Kids are fine, it’s the pair of pre-teens who want big stories without romance . . . fortunately, I found the Huns before last Christmas and now they’re all set. I might have to beg a few of you for sequels next fall . . . (spellcheck thought the way I misspelled sequels should have been squeals which I suppose is close enough to reality when they get one, after all.)

        • I give all the nieces and nephews books for their birthdays. it’s working out well.

    • My host family when I was an exchange student. There were three books in the house. Scared heck out of me.
      Right now most of our books are packed away, so my office is the only place you’ll see them piled. Well, that and everywhere else someone carried something they were reading at the time.

    • I had one babysitting gig when I was in my teens (I did more babysitting later in college). I was shocked when I entered these people’s home to discover NO books, not even comic books! I had never encountered that before! Even my paternal grandparents, who weren’t big readers, had a bookcase with books in it (mostly for us kids). This family had four children and NO BOOKS!!! Is it any wonder that so many children do poorly in school?!?

      • Yeah. A lot of demographic factors vanish if you control for whether a person had books in the home and a library card growing up.

      • Some households, the only books they know are the ones they make. That such folks are known as bookies seems the cruelest depths of irony.

    • I love in the fringes of rural PA, and drve by a lot of leeeetle tiny houses. Amd I wonder, “How can anybody love in something that small? Where do they put the books? The DVDs? They CAN’T have any hobbies, there isn’t any room!

    • What’s even worse, is that some people have books just as decoration. (We have a regular customer at our church’s annual book sale, who is a builder or decorator, who picks up any encyclopedias we might have as decorations for his customers.)

      • Apparently there’s a very brisk market for the Readers Digest condensed books series for that very use. (I suspect 3/4 of the books behind the lawyers on TV commercials are R.D. but I don’t feel like looking that closely.)

        • I am confident mine is not the only household that routinely freeze frames on book cases (we prefer to record broadcast programs for convenient re-watching) to read the titles. It can be informative, if only of the set decorator’s attention to craft. On a show like The Simpsons* it can provide extra chuckles.

          *Especially the episode in which Neil Gaiman guested and helped write a tween-lit best seller.

          Per CBR:
          Here’s how Fox describes the episode, called “The Book Job”: “Lisa becomes disheartened when she learns the shocking truth behind the ‘tween lit’ industry and her beloved fantasy novel characters. But Homer decides to cash in on the craze and forms a team to group-write the next ‘tween lit’ hit, with the king of fantasy, Neil Gaiman (guest-voicing as himself), lending his expertise to the effort. After catching the eye of a slick industry publisher (guest-voice Andy Garcia) at the Springfield Book Fair, the team gets an advanced copy of their work and discovers that the corporate lit business is a bigger operation than they imagined.”

        • I want to take RD and make lamp bases… for the next house. Encase them in resin, you know…

        • A lot of the older Condensed have gorgeous book illustrations.

      • Keep your eye on those encyclopedias. I’ve seen the occasional 13th Britannica for not too much. The 11th is better known, as the one scholars want, and that drives up the price, but the 13th is basically the 11th with some additional articles. Oddly for an encyclopedia, the writing is good. The science is a little outdated, but it reflects the best thinking of its era (good for steampunk, maybe?), and the history articles are first rate.

  6. People discussing plots at the dinner table is just normal.

    So, your plans to take over the world go at least back to your children’s preschool years, eh?

    • yeah. Biology foiled me though. I intended to have eleven children. As I told #1 son: We’d have been an UNSTOPPABLE army.

      • Maybe… or maybe not…

        I’m the oldest of 9. I once heard my mom say something that went kind of like this –

        “When I first got married, I wanted seven kids. Then after the first I wanted five. After the second I wanted four…”


        I assume that at least some of my younger siblings were birth control failures, though I’ve never asked.

        • After two — and what two — we still wanted 9 more. Just never happened.

          • And that’s a shame. Anyone who wants more kids, and is capable of raising them in a more or less stable home, deserves the opportunity to have them.

          • My Dad was from a family of 9 kids(+1 dining as a baby). He and Mom had 3. I’ve had 0, my brother 1 and my sister none. I now have one great niece with maybe more to come.

          • If it’s none of my goddamned business, say so, but did you not consider adoption?

            • Two things: no money. Most of our married life has been lived in “strapped” mode. And foreign adoption costs money.
              What about US adoption, say you? What? And open my house to impromptu visits from social workers for however many years, plus the risk that crazy baby daddy got religion and they’ll rip kid from my arms to give to what is a total stranger?
              Because we thought we’d never conceive again or at least I’d never carry to term again after Robert, (turns out the second WAS a miracle — my uterus was maimed in the caeseran such that if you didn’t implant in just THAT spot you’d miscarry) we were looking into adoption when a little girl of two was ripped from only parents she’d ever known because mom had lied about who baby daddy was and THIS baby daddy (proved by test) with multiple convictions had just gone to Jeeeesus and so they gave him the little girl. It scared me spitless.
              MIL was working/volunteer with social services at the time and the presumption there’s something special to “biological” link was there all along, so I knew how likely this was.
              Heck, I have trouble giving back kittens I’ve fostered. Losing a baby or toddler and being unable to see him/her again? If it was a 1 in 100 chance, I couldn’t take it.
              And about 5 years ago we admitted we were too old and should stop trying. If it happened, fine, but we weren’t going to try. I think the same applies even if I win the lottery tomorrow and can afford to adopt abroad. I’m making no promises, though.

        • When my dad remarried several years after our mother’s death, one of my sisters told us about when mom gave her “the Talk.” Basically, it was, “This was the birth-control method that failed and I got Steve, this is the method that failed and I got Jim, this is the method that failed and I got you, this …”

          • That’s my version, too. I hope it’s scary enough to work.

            • It won’t.

              I know folks who shudder in horror at a family where they have a similar background… and then go out and have “safe sex” because, hey, there’s no chance of failure.

              Don’t know why they don’t make the connection.

              (I should be clear, they’re horrified about the kids because they’re rather wild. Not sure how much is nurture vs nature.)

  7. NEVER tell either parent “I’m bored.” You’ll find yourself buried under a mountain of books.

    Oh, yes. My father’s standard response was, “Have you read every book in the house?”

  8. I can only imagine the heartbreak of having your child call you an “e d i t o r” (hope the spaces bypass the profanity filter). You have to wonder where you went wrong. 😉

  9. So today: “Mom, I finished the story.”
    “That’s only one sentence. Twenty-six words is not enough for handwriting practice.”
    “But the story’s done.”
    “So start the next one.”

    (This is very definitely a shoe-box story. He’s stealing elements from every mythology he knows, several fictional worlds (Pam’s Barton Street books and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books and whoever it is that wrote the Peter Pan books, not the original author, the new series) and the main characters are himself and best friend. Still, it’s creative, it’s cursive, it’s grammatically correct, most of the spelling is decent, and he’s blown up at least one world. Surely that covers everything necessary for handwriting practice?)

    • Was it Heinlein who wrote the six word story? Or was it another American author? I can’t remember off the top of my head.

    • I was minding, er supervising a study hall not long ago and a voice complained “Hey! He threw a fox at me!”
      I looked over my glasses at them and said, “You have no idea how many stories I could write using that as a first sentence.” It caught them totally off guard and the incipient tiff stopped. (And yes, one of the boys tossed a fox puppet at one of the girls. And missed.)

      • Professor Badness


      • RealityObserver

        So… When do we see them?

        Aside – my one and only English teacher that was worth anything (enough so that I feel blessedly wealthy!) would hand us a sentence.

        *But* it was not to appear as the *first* sentence. She’d throw us something like “second sentence in the third paragraph.”

        • I’ve got another Fleder Murphy story to write and that will be the next set to come out (I was sketching the story when the proto-commotion began, and since then . . . life.) And then the “From the Mountain” set (I thought it was done but I have a feeling a few more will get kicked off this June by the Roman Austria jaunt).

      • You can often stop a kid-meltdown by introducing a new thought, at least if you are a stranger. My favorite gambit is “Do you need to be oiled? You squeak.”

        Even if the kid isn’t distracted from his tantrum, the mother will often hasten the little heathen away…..

    • The humor guy, son tells me, is the author I couldn’t remember: Dave Barry.
      I don’t know, mind you, if it’s the same Dave Barry, but it probably is. Son thinks it is.

  10. Books everywhere describes my house. I think I started reviewing books because I was reading them faster than I could afford buying them, even with the public library.

    I have had a few books I have written published, All three of my sons swear that when other people their age see their last name they ask “Seawriter? Do you know the Seawriter who write books? He’s your dad? really?”

    I had my first book published in 2002. In the years since then I have never had a stranger learn my name and recognize me as an author. Yet each of my sons, at least once a year, claim to have one of their contemporaries state they recognize my name because they have read my books. They are honest kids (and now all adults), but I cannot shake the feeling they are pulling an elaborate joke on dad.

    • Professor Badness

      I had something similar happen when I was working on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland, (yes, I am Skipper Dan.) My family had lived in Long Beach almost twenty years beforehand. Several times, I had guests ask my last name, then would say they knew my parents from back when and wanted me to convey their greetings.
      That means they recognized me from when I was 1-2 years old. (Or they saw my parents reflected in me, I don’t know.)
      But it’s strange how a person can be recognized second or even third hand.

      • I describe myself as follows: “Take my mom, subtract two inches and give her blond hair.”
        Whatever works.

      • I look very like my father. So much so that the joke on base was “Well, we know who the father was, but does anyone know who’s the mother?”

        A couple decades later and way far away in Alaska, I smarted off one day in class. Somebody’d been hit with the Bright Idea Fairy, you see, and asked “Why don’t we just?” in an aviation class. I, half-awake, responded with one of the phrases used in my household growing up.

        “Death and destruction through blast and fragmentation, that’s why. But other than that, it’s a fine idea.”

        The instructor stopped in front of my table with arms crossed upon his barrel chest, and looked down an impressive nose at me with a very thoughtful stare. “Grant. Graaaaaaaaant. (Ok, it was actually my maiden name, but you get the idea.) Was your father a lieutenant? Ah! Tell him Mr. (Impressive No-BS Professor) says hello!”

        Yep, they’d served together, an entire width of the US and many many years ago, before I was even born. *facepalm*

    • I had an internet comic for a while. My parents went to Worldcon with shirts on that I’d had made for my comic, and they encountered someone who apparently *loved* it…

      … and since I had roughly 3000 readers, given unique daily views, the math behind that happening is fairly staggering.

    • Freakiest thing in my family history was when my Mom pulled out an ancient browned photo portrait of my great-grandfather on his wedding day.

      It was me. Not, “I can see the resemblance,” not, “Oh, you’ve got his chin.” Me. From around 1895.


      • Apparently some of the problems my mom has with me are due to the resemblance I bear to her mother (who passed away when I was a baby). Since I’m not much like my mom or her mother in aptitudes, this is kind of a problem.

        • Meanwhile older son is my paternal grandmother come again. Doesn’t look like her, just sits like her, talks like her (more masculine!) has same opinions, and when we go over prefers the dishes and cups that were hers. It’s rather freaky. If she’d died before he was born, I’d consider it a point for reincarnation, but she got to meet him. And yet, there it is. It upsets mom, who never got along with her MIL.

      • My great grandmother. Dad’s paternal grandmother. I’m shorter, but other than that. According to relatives alive when I was young, I had her voice and gestures, too. She didn’t write novels, but she was known for knitting an entire sweater in an evening. For fun.

      • Hmm… Sarah, you were told to put away the time machine. Trying to one-up Heinlein’s All You Zombies is going to cause some REAL trouble some day.

  11. Buying books for the kids for Christmas never worked because they were deluged in books already. I started making gift card calendars, with one cd/dvd per month. Of course, after a while, t was easy. Just get another case of ammo.

  12. It could be worse. Your father could have been an [trigger warning] editor and your mother a manager/accountant/community-activist [in the then yet to be recognized tea-party genre]. Then you’d have to dodge both volume’s of the OED and read responses attacking you Mom in the local LTTE of the Park Ridge Local and Bergen Record starting in Grade School

  13. Eamon J. Cole

    Growing up I was under the impression book stacks were a malleable and ever-changing architectural feature that defined a home. Book shelves were, of course, nice, but eventually you run outta walls…

    As an adult — I see no reason to revise this opinion.

  14. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Can anyone give me a pointer to Speaker’s blog? Or tell me if he has said anything anywhere about:

    • Sidebar, upper right. Look for “Teddy’s Rat Lab Doctor Tedd Robert’s Blog”

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Thank you very much. I’m probably some time from getting good problem solving back, RL stress having taken it away for now.

        *Embarrassed Grin*

  15. Pingback: Growing up Alien – A Blast From The Past from September 2007 | According To Hoyt | Head Noises