Friday, April 18, 2008

The Door Into Summer

So I'm horrifically behind on Sandra's read-one-book-a-week challenge, but I finally finished Robert A. Heinlein's The Door Into Summer. Remember? That was the one with Marsha Brady stroking an injured cat while some kind of steaming UFO/birth control packet is about to swallow her.

And, for some reason, cryonics is following me around this week. Yesterday, I'm scrolling through the on-screen guide and found a National Geographic's Naked Science episode entitled "Freeze Me." That really says it all, right? This is sixty minutes I'll never get back, but it followed a small, devoted hope-filled army of believers who have put forth $150,000 to have the guinea pig priviledge of undergoing a post-mordem deep freeze in the hope that future science will overcome whatever ended their present life.

It's strange to look back on a classic work of science fiction. Written in 1956, Heinlein predicts a 1970s future and a year-2001 future. A highly intelligent and gifted mathemetician and physicist, an astonishing number of his predictions came true. Aside from the odd charm of reading a future in hindsight, Heinlein captures the humanity involved with the notion of time travel and "the cold sleep." The perpetual longing for things left behind. The suspension of self while watching everything familiar play out, change and disappoint. This book is far from a glass-half-full look at the paradoxes. While it seems antiquated in the face of our present fiction market, it delivers a good-overcomes-evil premise and the resonating image of a "door into summer" that we all spend our lives looking for.

At the time of filming, Alcor had seventy-four patients who'd undergone the cryonic (often mistakenly called "cryogenic") sleep. Pioneers in what some consider an inevitibility. Who knows what nanotechnology holds in the next fifty or one hundred years? Is this hope or a mere suspension of grief? A divide between family members who have fundamental disagreements between not only the logistical possibilities, but religious or spiritual implications?

Heinlein crafted a protagonist with few ties, a completely believable scenario that leads the reader straight into the rightness of his choices. What kind of real-life character would make this choice? Not Walt Disney, that's an urban myth, but Ted Williams did it.

So that I don't topple head-long into some whacked-out imbalance of the creative mind, I'm going light next. I adore all things Elvis, and a wonderfully talented local author, Leanna Ellis's latest release Elvis Takes a Back Seat is next on my list. It's women, on a cross-country journey of discovery with an Elvis bust. Right now, that premise sounds like my "door into summer."

Lastly, in an attempt to realign light and dark here on the blog, I offer a delicious YouTube link to comedian Lewis Black's take on Writing a Book. Love, love, love Lewis Black. Thanks to Juliet for the discovery. Enjoy!

Light or dark...take your pick and let me know your thoughts.


Andrea Geist said...

Finally caught up on sleep, I'm catching up on everything else.
Writing and reading today. I've missed stopping by.
I love your description of the cover. I so enjoy your blog and the tidbits and insights - I've missed this.
I did do some reading last week - reread Jennifer Crusie's Tell Me Lies. Still love it.

Michelle said...

WOW! Are you really trying to read a book a week?!?!? I'd love to do that. I guess I should take on that challenge and put a dent in my stack of books.

Anonymous said...

Ted Williams did not 'do it', speaking of cryonics. His son 'did it' to him, against his wishes in his Will.