Forgotten Books

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    unknown red bookAmazing Stories blogger Adam Gaffen has a wonderful ongoing series called Lost in Space! Reviews of Unknown or Underappreciated Books about those obscure reads many of us might have overlooked. Not only has he inspired me to search for some of the gems he’s mentioned, he also got me thinking about some of the books I’ve personally forgotten about. Oddly, this includes some stuff I’ve forgotten…and can’t remember!

    Like that song you hear on the radio but can’t remember the name, or you recognize an actress but can’t remember that “other” movie she was in. It could be a face, a character, a line or a quote. Maybe partly due to that element of my mortality known as “getting older,” but it seems to happen more often lately. Perhaps my mind is at its maximum content and every time I add something to memory I have to lose something to make room for the new.

    I once had a discussion with an English professor about the book Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt. Our exchange about life in the post-apocalypse came to a sudden halt when he mentioned a scene in the book about a group of travelers who discover a hidden Nazi submarine bunker in the bowels of an abandoned Cliffside structure…Uh, what? It hadn’t been too long since I had read it and I was pretty sure there was no mention of Nazis or a submarine pen. It turns out, after further discussion, he was confusing the Haven of Eternity Road and the sinking library with a WWII story he had read. Library – submarine – I can see where the confusion happened. If you’re reading this Dr. G…you might remember!

    It’s my understanding that search engines have recently been found to be a cause memory loss. Why try to remember something if you can just look it up when you need it? Unfortunately, the efficiency of search engines is often limited by the input information. I might recall something about a book, but it’s not always what’s needed to recall the title or the author. Perhaps Amazing Stories and its growing fan membership will be the future instrument for recalling forgotten literature.

    Sometimes, it just takes a little jarring of the memory to recall a book. About fifteen to twenty years ago there was a series of space traveler books about a Han Solo type smuggler. They were a little hokey, but short and entertaining reads none the less. The only detail I can remember is the main character’s name was “Pik” and how I could never figure out if it was pronounced “Pike” or Pick.” Does that jar anything? No?

    When I was really young (lets place it in the mid 70’s for fun), I thought I would try my hand at reading Fantasy for the first time. I picked out a newly released paperback about a young loner who was on a quest. No, I can’t remember what the quest was. Along the way the hero met some odd characters, each with a specific skill set (ie: bladesman, bow, magic, etc.). All of their personalities clashed throughout the quest. But in the end, each played a key role in their success in the big battle. This might sound like trite or archetypical elements of Fantasy, but in my youth I thought it was pure brilliance. Sound familiar?

    That one book pushed me into reading many more fantasy books soon after. Unfortunately, that one book was also the example by which all other Fantasy books that followed were measured up to. Looking back, I’d love to have that book. Not just for nostalgia reasons, but for the emotion and inspiration it gave me to read more in the genre. If only I could remember what the title was or who wrote it. It’s been so long now even the image of the cover escapes me. Was the word “hero” or “quest” even n the title? I hope not because I’m sure there is one or two of those books out there. Maybe “falcon” was in the title. No, I’m probably getting that mixed up with a Nazi U-boat!

    The quest for that forgotten title or author’s name begins here, where the only clue is a quote, a character, or plot…or less. Is there a book you’re looking for but don’t have much information to go on? Perhaps an AS reader can help if you post it in the comments here. Then again, maybe it’s just me who has forgotten books.

     

    2 COMMENTS

    1. David, you make a terrific point. I’d like to have a little influence in what our kids read if I can. My biggest frustration in not being able to remember some of those great stories is my inability to share with my kids what had influenced me when I was their age. Short stories are probably the hardest to find. Looking for books might be a little easier. I never thought about it much, but this is probably one of the reasons I spend so much time scanning the shelves of used book stores. Stumbling over a gem from my past is exhilarating and I just can’t give up the search – it’s a quest!

    2. Ricky, I'm afraid can't help identify your forgotten stories. Some of the stuff I read in the 70s has the same fuzziness. It was a voracious and indiscriminate period of SF/F discovery (my golden age). But since those days my memory for stories has been fairly solid (so far). Even so, I sometimes have trouble identifying shorter pieces. There was one in which the main character was in a bar or somewhere telling his tale about how he went to the forest and sat still for days until a wood nymph revealed itself, fooled into thinking he was not there. Then an instinctive hunger made him grab the nymph and eat it. I thought I remembered the title and recommended it to my daughter. Turns out I had the wrong title. She said the story was ok, but had nothing to do the subject. I still can’t figure out the name of that story.

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