Sorry for being a bit late getting this up, but I'm a bit late getting started. For the first time in ages, I slept in. The explanation is simple: the last few days have been spent in a reader's playground, a very HOT reader's playground, and they've taken their toll. Not that I'm complaining because, hot as it has been, it has been very worthwhile.
You see, this is the annual book sale hosted by the Friends of our local library. This is our major fundraiser each year. This year, it's taken on an even more important role because, come February, we'll be moving into a new building -- one we desperately need. As a result of the upcoming move, our wonderful librarians have been culling through the stacks and gave us a huge number of books to sell. Between that and the donations we've received throughout the year, our best guess is that we have somewhere between 10,000 and 12,000 books, videos and cds for sale -- much, too much to set up in the meeting rooms at the library as we've done in the past. Fortunately, a local church has let us set up in their gym. The only downside -- the gym doesn't have air conditioning.
As I helped set up, and as I helped some of those who came in looking for a bargain buy on their favorite books, I came across several books from years ago that sparked special memories or that helped spark my love of reading. There was Cat in the Hat and Are You My Mother?, two of my sons favorite books when he was little. There were a number of books by Taylor Caldwell, one of my father's favorite authors. In fact, I checked several books just to make sure they hadn't somehow managed to teleport from my library at home to the gym. There were a number of the old Ace science fiction paperbacks -- and I'm still kicking myself for not hiding them away for myself.
Last year, the science fiction books didn't sell. This year, that section has been one of the most popular. So the four or five "classics" I had my eye on, went quickly. To give you an idea of how many books we started with in this section and how many had sold by yesterday, the science fiction/fantasy section was located on two of the long cafeteria tables as well as a large round table. The books were three across and standing spine up. Under the table, it was the same setup, except they were also stacked three high. By the time I left last night, almost everything under the tables had been sold or moved to the top of the tables. My best guess is that we've sold somewhere close to 500 or more individual sf/f books so far. And the sale continues this afternoon. That is very promising for someone like me who writes in these genres.
What was surprising was that these older books, the ones that are supposedly no longer in fashion, were the ones that showed the most wear and they are the ones that have been read more often than the new "best sellers". Most surprising of all was who was buying these books -- teens and college students, not people my age who grew up reading the "Masters". When I asked one of them why he was grabbing up all the Simaks and Heinleins he could find, the answer surprised me and shouldn't have. He said the stories are more well-crafted and more entertaining and, in many ways, more believable than what's on the market today. His girlfriend, who had just grabbed up all the Horatio Hornblower books she could find and was moving on to the five David Weber books still available nodded in agreement before adding that she liked Weber because he writes a great stories with characters she could believe in. Then she grinned and added that there also wasn't a sparkly vampire to be found in his books.
So, what do you think? Are the sf/f stories of the past better than what we have today? Why? Also, what current writers in the genre would you say are reflective of what the "Masters" did as storytellers and craftsmen?