Monday, November 29, 2010

Authors I Am Thankful For

Thanksgiving and Black Friday are over. Everyone, welcome back.

This is probably something that should have been posted on Thursday, but everyone was probably busy this weekend.

In my life, few authors have affected me in any way, shape or form. Most of it affected me in a professional manner. From Joseph Garber's Verticle Run, I learned how to start a thriller that didn't stop from start to finish, and while he was recently trumped by Matthew Reilly and James Rollins, Garber is where to start.

Few authors have ever actually had an impact on my life in general. And by few, I mean three. And, technically, I wasn't even the one who really felt the impact for two of the authors … it's a long story.

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Once upon a time, I had considered getting a friend of mine a gift for his birthday. The novel was Good Omens, which was essentially Murphy's law as applied to the apocalypse— losing the antichrist, for example. It was fun. Strange as all hell, but fun. Neil Gaiman still insists that he wrote some of the funny parts. I thought my friend would like it.

Meanwhile, in another part of the internet, a woman was trying to remember the title of a novel she had read once upon a time. She signed into her dating website of choice, and came across the novel in my friend's profile. The book was Good Omens.

That relationship culminated in the marriage from two months ago.....

J. Michael Straczynski.

Way back in the 1990s, there was a television show called Babylon 5. It was a science fiction program that was less about special effects, latex masks and tight body suits, and more an epic about character. It was essentially a filmed novel. Like War and Peace, with one-tenth the cast. It was interesting enough that I would spend time with my family pondering what would happen next.

Along the way, when I was sixteen, I started writing what is unfortunately known as fan fiction. I had written stories based off of throwaway one-liners in the series. And while I touched nothing of the actual series storyline, I had a few concepts that the show didn't expand on, and spun that off into little corners of the universe, and aside from the first two books, it basically became its own series. I started rewriting what was a fan fiction quartet of over two thousand pages, and I'm now on book 6 of a possible 13 that I've outlined...

One of the artifacts I had picked up because of Babylon 5 is a leather bomber jacket. It had a great big gold embroidered 5 on the back, in the style of the show, and the show logo on the front. I have worn it every winter when the temperature dropped below forty, and there was no precipitation. This includes my days in college, when it was just too cold to wear a suit jacket.

One day, in 2001, I walked out of a class called the History of Terrorism, and one classmate had noticed the jacket. We walked and talked across the university's great lawn, past the library, an administrative building, and to the other side of the campus, until my ride literally started the car, pulled up behind me, and flashed his brights at us.

A month ago, I was a groomsman at his wedding.

A few years afterward, during my abortive attempt at a PhD in history, I drove down to a social in Manhattan, wearing the same jacket. Someone behind me said, “Cool jacket, I know that show.” He hasn't stopped talking to me since. Two months ago, I was the best man at his wedding... the one made possible by Terry Pratchett

I've heard people tell me that reading is an anti-social activity. Obviously, they've been reading the wrong books.

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