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  1. Alexander, Lloyd — The Black Cauldron
  2. Anthony, Piers — Letters to Jenny
  3. Cooper, Susan — Over Sea, Under Stone
  4. Proulx, Annie — Close Range: Wyoming Stories
  5. Kincaid, Jamaica — Lucy
  6. Christie, Agatha — The Unexpected Guest
  7. Dick, Philip K. — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  8. Cooper, Susan — The Dark Is Rising
  9. Cooper, Susan — Greenwitch
  10. Shaffer, Peter — Amadeus
  11. Anonymous — Go Ask Alice
  12. Cooper, Susan — The Grey King
  13. Martin, Steve — Shopgirl
  14. Cooper, Susan — Silver on the Tree
  15. Gaiman, Neil — Stardust
  16. Gaiman, Neil — Coraline
  17. Le Guin, Ursula — A Wizard of Earthsea
  18. Le Guin, Ursula — The Tombs of Atuan
  19. Le Guin, Ursula — The Farthest Shore
  20. Le Guin, Ursula — Tehanu
  21. Merton, Thomas — The Seven Storey Mountain: An Autobiography of Faith
  22. Alexander, Lloyd — The Castle of Llyr
  23. Zelazny, Roger — Lord of Light
  24. Card, Orson Scott — Ender's Game
  25. Clarke, Arthur C. — Childhood's End
  26. Grahame, Kenneth — The Wind in the Willows
  27. Dahl, Roald — James and the Giant Peach
  28. Lewis, C.S. — Out of the Silent Planet
  29. Lewis, C.S. — Perelandra
  30. Milne, A.A. — Winnie-the-Pooh
  31. Card, Orson Scott — Speaker for the Dead
  32. Bester, Alfred — The Stars My Destination
  33. Greene, Graham — The Power and the Glory
  34. Gaiman, Neil — Neverwhere
  35. Ballard, J.G. — The Drowned World
  36. Ballard, J.G. — Crash
  37. Joyce, James — The Dubliners
  38. Le Guin, Ursula — Tales from Earthsea
  39. Le Guin, Ursula — The Other Wind
  40. Asimov, Isaac — The Robots of Dawn
  41. Dick, Philip K. — A Scanner Darkly
  42. Stewart, George R. — Earth Abides
  43. du Bois, William Pène — The Twenty-One Balloons

My new books still have not arrived. I did not want to start a new book because I am expecting these books any moment now, and I have a reading plan I want to keep to. However, I noticed I had The Twenty-One Balloons on my shelf, and I figured it would make a quick interim read. I picked this up on JC's recommendation. He said he would pay for it if I did not enjoy it, and it was inexpensive enough to take the risk. So, The Twenty-One Balloons was supposed to last me the weekend so that I could begin A Case for Conscience today. But it didn't last me the weekend. I spent too much time on trains and buses both Saturday and Sunday, and I finished the book twenty-one minutes* before I got home last night. Back to the crosswords today!

This was an amusing book. For me, though, it was more interesting for how it might have influenced people than for anything in the book itself. I didn't find Professor Sherman's descriptions of his interactions, the innovations he witnessed, or the Krakatoan explosion all that fascinating. However, four things impressed themselves upon me. First, du Bois' admission, in the Author's Note at the beginning, that F. Scott Fitzgerald penned practically the same story years before caught my attention. Whether du Bois conceived the same story independently and unknowingly or consciously adapted Fitzgerald's story for children, kudos to him for being upfront about the other story. Second, early in the story Professor Sherman states his ambition in adventuring was "to go where no one had gone before." I can't help wonder if Gene Roddenberry (or whoever came up with Star Trek's tagline) was influenced by The Twenty-One Balloons. Third, later in the story, Professor Sherman and Mr. F. perform what might amount to a precursor to Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" routine; might they have been influenced by this book? Fourth, some random woman came up to me on the train platform at Gloucester Road raving about how she loved The Twenty-One Balloons and the adventures described therein. So, though I might not have found the book anything more than amusing, it seems to have made its impact on others.

*This might not be exact.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
am0
Oct. 3rd, 2006 01:08 am (UTC)
Inexact values
Why include a numeric value if you're not sure it's correct? Remember, 97%* of the time people invent the numbers they give us.

*This might not be exact.
spwebdesign
Oct. 3rd, 2006 07:12 am (UTC)
Re: Inexact values
Compare the title of the book with the number of minutes and you'll have your answer.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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