Saturday, August 20, 2005

Summertime and the reading is easy

After reading the The Da Vinci Code (which I enjoyed very much), I started The Travelers by John Twelve Hawks and just finished it last night. Instead of excerpting it or reviewing it, I'll just refer you to a review someone else has done inThe Washington Post:

The Da Vinci Mode: ""The Traveler" is without doubt a most readable mix of science fiction and political jeremiad, one that imagines an international conspiracy to destroy individual privacy and freedom in the name of social order. It recalls earlier tales, such as the "Star Wars" movies and George Orwell's "1984," that portray a few brave individuals challenging an evil empire -- or a Big Brother with powers far beyond anything Orwell could imagine. Modern technology, the novel's arch-villain chortles, will enable him and his allies to watch and supervise every person in the industrial world. The story unfolds in the not-too-distant future, but it is based on an elaborate mythology that extends far back in history. In every age, we are told, there have been Travelers, visionaries who can explore other dimensions, interact with creatures there and bring back ideas to our world. They have included Jesus, Joan of Arc, Saint Francis of Assisi and Isaac Newton. These visionaries have always been persecuted by kings, churches and governments, who see them as agents of disorder and chaos. The armies of oppression are directed by the Brethren and their soldiers, the Tabula. But there has also evolved a race of warriors, called Harlequins, whose sacred mission is to protect the Travelers. By one account, Peter, when he sought to save Jesus from the Roman soldiers at Gethsemane, was the first Harlequin.

Although this struggle has gone on for centuries, in our own time the Brethren, helped by powerful computers, millions of cameras in public places, face scans and other technology, have tracked down and killed all but a handful of Travelers and Harlequins. The novel turns on the Brethren's efforts to kill the last of these freedom-fighters and rule the world unopposed. Most of us remain oblivious to this epic struggle, because we are drones, sedated by Britney Spears, the Super Bowl, video games, drugs, Fox News and other senseless diversions."

Fact or fiction? You decide.

Today I visited Bookshop Santa Cruz, our biggest and best independent book store, to get a new book to read. Funny story about that. As a community, we tend to support independent book stores over chains and Bookshop Santa Cruz has survived the competition from online stores like Amazon and local chain stores. After our downtown area was devastated by the earthquake of 1989 and Bookshop Santa Cruz lost their building, they sold books in a tent for a while. After the rebuilding of the downtown area, they put out a call for help moving into their new digs and hordes of volunteers showed up and moved boxes of books. A few years ago a Barnes and Noble opened a store across the street from Bookshop Santa Cruz and threatened to put them out of business. I can't recall how long Barnes and Noble lasted (maybe a year or two) but they're gone now and Bookshop Santa Cruz continues to thrive. Sure we don't get all the big discounts that chain stores offer, but we're supporting our friends and neighbors. (We don't have a WalMart in this county - they'd probably go the way of Barnes and Noble.)

When Rush Limbaugh's book went on sale, the owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz decided to sell it at a loss, not because he wanted people to read it - he thought it should be priced by it's value, so he used the price of boloney to determine it's worth.

Anyhow, I bought a copy of The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill: A Love Story with Wings and I was so enchanted by the pages I read while in the store that I read some more pages on the way home. The DVD is on our Netflix list too. If you haven't heard about the Birdman of Telegraph Hill (in San Francisco) visit his web site. You'll be glad you did.

Oh, and next time you're thinking about ordering a book from Amazon - stop by Bookshop Santa Cruz's web site and consider ordering it from them. They sell books that the big chains don't offer and you'll help keep Santa Cruz weird.

If you're ever in the area, be sure to stop at the book store's cafe. It's called Chocolate and they have some yummy food. You'll find the walls covered with anti-Bush slogans, pictures, etc.