Archive for October, 2016

A Halloween classic to read aloud

October 31, 2016

A Halloween classic to read aloud

This is one of the classic horror stories.  It was first published in 1843 and written by Edgar Allan Poe, who died in 1849.   The story should be in the public domain everywhere.  As a Halloween treat, you may want to read it to each other out loud.  You can take turns, or one person can read it all.  You could let your Kindle take a turn…but that won’t be the same.  This shows the advantage of free distribution of the classics that e-books facilitates.  Be prepared, though…it’s scary!   It should take about fifteen minutes…hokey Halloween voices optional.  Parents, be advised…this could cause nightmares.

Enjoy?  Or at least…experience.  I now present…

THE TELL-TALE HEART (by Edgar Allan Poe)

TRUE!–nervous–very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses–not destroyed–not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily–how calmly I can tell you the whole story.

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain; but once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! yes, it was this! He had the eye of a vulture–a pale blue eye, with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees–very gradually–I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.

Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded–with what caution–with what foresight–with what dissimulation I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his door and opened it–oh so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern, all closed, closed, that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly–very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man’s sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this, And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously–cautiously (for the hinges creaked)–I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights–every night just at midnight–but I found the eye always closed; and so it was impossible to do the work; for it was not the old man who vexed me, but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he has passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch’s minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers–of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was, opening the door, little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea; and perhaps he heard me; for he moved on the bed suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back–but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness, (for the shutters were close fastened, through fear of robbers,) and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and the old man sprang up in bed, crying out–“Who’s there?”

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed listening;–just as I have done, night after night, hearkening to the death watches in the wall.

Presently I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief–oh, no!–it was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him, although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise, when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself–“It is nothing but the wind in the chimney–it is only a mouse crossing the floor,” or “It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp.” Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions: but he had found all in vain. All in vain; because Death, in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel–although he neither saw nor heard–to feel the presence of my head within the room.

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little–a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it–you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily–until, at length a simple dim ray, like the thread of the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell full upon the vulture eye.

It was open–wide, wide open–and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness–all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones; but I could see nothing else of the old man’s face or person: for I had directed the ray as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot.

And have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the sense?–now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well, too. It was the beating of the old man’s heart. It increased my fury, as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eve. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every instant. The old man’s terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment!–do you mark me well I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me–the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man’s hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once–once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.

If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dismembered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms and the legs.

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that no human eye–not even his–could have detected any thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out–no stain of any kind–no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all–ha! ha!

When I had made an end of these labors, it was four o’clock–still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart,–for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.

I smiled,–for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search–search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.

The officers were satisfied. My manner had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct:–It continued and became more distinct: I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definiteness–until, at length, I found that the noise was not within my ears.

No doubt I now grew _very_ pale;–but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased–and what could I do? It was a low, dull, quick sound–much such a sound as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I gasped for breath–and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly–more vehemently; but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men–but the noise steadily increased. Oh God! what could I do? I foamed–I raved–I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder–louder–louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly, and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God!–no, no! They heard!–they suspected!–they knew!–they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now–again!–hark! louder! louder! louder! louder!

“Villains!” I shrieked, “dissemble no more! I admit the deed!–tear up the planks! here, here!–It is the beating of his hideous heart!”

Bonus: Quoth My Kindle

I originally published Quoth My Kindle (with apologies to Edgar Allan Poe) in this thread in the Amazon Kindle forum.   It is based on Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem, The Raven.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-
As I reached to slide to sleep mode, suddenly I found my hand slowed
As if driving up a steep road, driving with a heavy load
“I can’t seem to move it forward, as if some Kowboy had ‘whoa’d,
It’s a fluke and nothing more.”

Suddenly, a wheel was spinning, a face appeared, and it was grinning
I gasped and nearly dropped my m-edge, dropped it on the hardwood floor
I shook my head, I couldn’t take it; wasn’t sure if I would make it
Then that voice: speakers of portent – portent I would know the score
Then the robot quirkily intoned words that shook me to the core
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

“I need sleep!” I firmly stated, yet I found I hesitated
Reading – reading how it drew me like it never had before
So I sat there, pushing buttons, appetite of sev’ral gluttons
Bestsellers, public domain, ’til I think I filled up my brain
“Tis some magazine I’ve never even purchased at the store”
“I need to get up early!” I heard myself again implore
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

My eyes opened and I woke up; knew I dreamt my Kindle spoke up
So I dragged myself off to what had become my bedtime chore,
Although fact is what it did seem, I knew it was just a weird dream
So as I brushed my teeth, I felt safe behind my bathroom door
I kept my head beneath my covers, as I sailed to Morpheus’ shore…
Quoth my Kindle: “READ SOME MORE.”

For more Edgar Allan Poe, try this search (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) for Poe freebies in the Kindle store. If you want to keep it simple, you can get this collection (at AmazonSmile*), which has an interactive table of contents.

Some of you may have recognized this post from previous years…yeah, ILMK has been around long enough to have annual traditions.  😉

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Today’s KDD: “Today only, up to 80% off top-rated mysteries & thrillers”

October 30, 2016

Today’s KDD: “Today only, up to 80% off top-rated mysteries & thrillers”

Today’s

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is “…up to 80% off top-rated mysteries & thrillers”.

This is a good selection, with some well-known titles. These prices are today only, and may not apply in your country, so check the price before you click or tap that Buy button. Remember also that you can buy these books on sale and either delay the delivery until the appropriate gift-giving occasion, or print a gift out so you can wrap it and give it when you want.

Titles include:

  • The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition by William Peter Blatty
  • Ghost Story by Peter Straub
  • Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
  • The Beginning of the End (Apocalypse Z Book 1) by Manel Loureiro
  • Dark Days (Apocalypse Z Book 2) by Manel Loureiro
  • The Wrath of the Just (Apocalypse Z Book 3) by Manel Loureiro
  • Sworn to Silence (Kate Burkholder Book 1) by Linda Castillo
  • X (Kinsey Millhone Book 24) by Sue Grafton (this is a book in the “alphabet mysteries”, but I guess they didn’t want to do “X is for X-ray”) 😉
  • Welcome to Night Vale: A Joseph Fink
  • The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak
  • The Widow by Fiona Barton
  • After Anna by Alex Lake
  • Liar’s Key (Sharpe & Donovan) by Carla Neggers
  • The Girl in the Glass by James Hayman
  • Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
  • A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George
  • NOS4A2: A Novel by Joe Hill
  • The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  • Raven Black: Book One of the Shetland Island Quartet by Ann Cleeves
  • Waking the Dead (Cafferty & Quinn Novels Book 2) by Heather Graham
  • MEG: Primal Waters by Steve Alten (the first of these books will be a Jason Statham movie in 2018)
  • The Ghosts of Belfast (The Belfast Novels Book 1) by Stuart Neville (and others in this series)
  • Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry
  • Bitten: A Novel (Otherworld Book 1) by Kelley Armstrong
  • The Tomb (Adversary Cycle/Repairman Jack Book 1) by F. Paul Wilson
  • Necroscope by Brian Lumley
  • A Mad Zombie Party (The White Rabbit Chronicles) by Gena Showalter
  • Blade Vol. 1: Undead Again: Undead Again v. 1… by Marc Guggenheim (Marvel graphic novel)
  • Stephen King’s The Stand Vol. 1: Captain Trips… by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa  (graphic novel…and others in this series)
  • George Romero’s Empire of the Dead: Act One by George Romero (George Romero follows my TMCGTT Twitter feed…which for me, is one of the coolest things ever!)

Those aren’t quite all of them…if you see another one you’d recommend to me or my readers, feel free to comment on this post.

Enjoy!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

Shakeup at the Copyright Office: publishers express concern

October 30, 2016

Shakeup at the Copyright Office: publishers express concern

I’ve written quite a bit about copyright, and it’s definitely an interest of mine.

All readers are affected by it. We’ve had some lively discussions about copyright in this blog.

Well, there was recently a major shakeup at the Copyright Office.

Now, to be clear, I think it’s an institution that could use some changes…I doubt very many people are satisfied with it the way it is. It definitely needs modernization (we should be able to easily go online and see if any book is in the public domain ((not under copyright protection)); that just seems obvious nowadays).

It would be nice if they would make definitive statements about policies…many of them seem deliberately fuzzy, leaving it up to the courts.

That said, though, what happened recently was a shock, and the “content industry” (books, music, and so on) seems generally dismayed and concerned.

Maria Pallante had been the Register of Copyrights since 2011, and had made some changes seen as favorable to content producers.

The new Librarian of Congress (been there less than two months), Carla Hayden, reassigned Pallante to a senior advisor position at the LoC…and Pallante declined and left.

Among the groups issuing a

statement of concern

is the Authors Guild.

It’s hard to tell exactly what this means.

There is talk about separating the Copyright Office from the Library of Congress (it’s currently under that organization), and perhaps this was a move in that direction.

There are rumors that this was done at the, um, suggestion of Google or other tech groups.

You see, there have been…differing points of view between content producers and tech companies. Tech companies benefit by making as much content available to their customers as easily as possible. They’d love to make it free and fully searchable and perhaps modifiable. They typically don’t make the money by selling the actual content…they sell advertising, and they may sell devices and network access. They don’t sell by the piece, most of the time.

Content producers want to be compensated, and their payment plans are most often based on piece sales. That may be changing, with subscription services like

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

It’s important to note that Hayden’s term is for ten years…and is quite powerful.

This move certainly suggests that we are going to see a distinctive term with significant changes. My guess is that there will be reader-friendly policies…but ones that might not be as favorable for the content producers and distributors.

In the long term, that might be bad for readers…although that’s hard to say. If, and that’s a big if, the brand name authors of today can’t make a living the way they do now, it’s safe to say that they won’t all adapt successfully to a new paradigm (that’s happened with every big intellectual property change…silent movies, for example). Fragmentation of the industry, where many books are published by the authors, would also change things.

Solving the “orphan books” problem would matter…those are books which are under copyright, but not in print, and where no one can be found to authorize a new edition.

Saying definitively that we can digitize a print book which we have purchased and which is under copyright for our own use (without explicit authorization) would create an entirely new industry.

Whatever it is, it will likely affect what you will be reading ten years from now.

The Associate Register, Karyn Temple Claggettm is temporarily in charge, and they are searching for another Register.

Here are a few links:

What do you think? Is this change a good thing? How would you like to see copyright reformed? Do you worry that an independent Copyright Office might be less reader-friendly than the current situation (under the Library or Congress)? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

Amazon’s Q3 financials: overwhelmingly up…and the stock went down

October 28, 2016

Amazon’s Q3 financials: overwhelmingly up…and the stock went down

You gotta love investors: for them, every silver lining has a cloud. 😉

I’m just kidding…I would never pretend to be qualified to judge investors. I’m definitely a layperson there. I would much rather have a reliable 3% than take a shot at 10% or nothing. I love playing games, and I can be a risktaker there. When my family goes to the racetrack for holidays (which we do), I actually follow a risky strategy. We all just bet essentially a minimum ($5 a race) and we split winnings. I bet some long shots…and might win one long shot out of eight races (but win maybe $30).  I’m typically close to break even at the end of the day (but we definitely come out ahead socially, with all the time to talk to family we may not see that often). Our now adult kid had a system growing up that would win virtually every race…but small amounts. We usually come out pretty close between the two of us. Family finances, though? I want predictability and reliability, not great for at stock player.

It feels to me, though, like some investors are like some managers (and I’ve trained managers). They suspect that everyone is hiding negative things, and if they get the slightest hint that something is bad, they assume they’ve uncovered previously hidden mass failure/corruption.

Amazon announced their third quarter financials yesterday:

Generally, things were very good. Sales year over year (comparing this quarter in 2016 to the same quarter in 2015…y/y) were up 29%. Net income more than tripled.

Yes, in the international segment, net income was down, while sales were up…I believe that’s largely due to investment in India.

Amazon invests…a lot. During an investment phase, you spend more money, with the intent to make more money as a result (that’s basically what investment means). Amazon is always in an investment phase somewhere. After more than a decade, that is now paying off in North America. They’ve made very few investments which didn’t pay off eventually (the Fire Phone being a notable exception, as well as an early auction site…but those are more than matched by successful investments).

According to this

CNN Money graph

the stock lost value yesterday…although it is up more than 20% for the year.

The stock loss may be more of a reaction to Amazon not doing as well as people expected…that’s what the blogosphere says.

As what should probably be the Amazon Investors webpage motto would say: “Give it time.” 😉

Now, the press release did something the conference call didn’t do this time (which was interesting)…it bragged about Amazon’s developments.

This short excerpt had one of the most intriguing parts for me:

“Alexa may be Amazon’s most loved invention yet — literally — with over 250,000 marriage proposals from customers and counting,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. “And she’s just getting better. Because Alexa’s brain is in the cloud, we can easily and continuously add to her capabilities and make her more useful — wait until you see some of the surprises the team is working on now.”

A quarter of a million people have proposed marriage…to an artificial intelligence construct. 🙂 People have loved their cars…but I don’t think “marriage” best describes that relationship. 😉 Marriage implies a component of intellectual and emotional exchange, and demonstrates that people think of Alexa as a “social actor”.

Those surprises? There are two directions: more capabilities and more access to capabilities. I think we’ll see both…Alexa in more places, and more things it can do. They’ve just directly connected the

Logitech Harmony Home Control – 8 Devices (White) (at AmazonSmile*))

I need to test that out yet, to see if it has more capabilities than what I do now going through IFTTT (If This Then That).

Alexa still needs to control my

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

directly through the Echo…although they gave it a lot more voice control through its own voice control.

One thing that won’t be a surprise is a social chatbot…that’s the goal of the current

Alexa Prize competition

although we won’t see the results of that for more than a year.

In the press release, Amazon did talk about e-books and reading devices…that’s a good thing. 🙂

Of course, the retail segment is just a part of what Amazon does…there may have been more concern about competitors to AWS (Amazon Web Services); that came up in one of the questions.

I’m sure many of you are wiser about the stock market than I am: what do you think? Feel free to tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

 

What’s scarier: supernatural horror or science fiction horror?

October 26, 2016

What’s scarier: supernatural horror or science fiction horror?

Literature can take us to impossible places…and they aren’t all feel-good fairy lands.

In fact, some of them are scary…very, very scary. I have no doubt that the vast majority of “impossible” fiction contains an element of fear-generation. Fear suggests risk, and risk is the very (rapidly beating) heart of drama.

I’m leaving purely psychological horror out of this discussion. If you read a book about a person whose cruelty is within known human behavior, who doesn’t use extra-reality techniques, it isn’t an impossible fiction…horrifying, yes, and by definition horror, but not what I consider small “f” fantasy or what I consider geeky**.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of impossible horror fiction.

In one, the thing that creates fear is presented as being based on science. We the readers are to believe that it could at some point happen within the “laws” of physics (and other science). It could be an alien invader, like the Martians in H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. It might be from experiments in biochemistry, like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau. It may be a social dystopia in the future (anything set in the future is by definition impossible for the reader), or artificial intelligence, or a new disease.

In the other, the thing that creates the fear is “supernatural”. It’s not based on science. It’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula or Jacob Marley in Charles’ Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It’s not something that is just waiting to be invented.

They both can be scary. While it might seem like science fiction horror would be scarier, because it could happen in the real world, there are two things arguing against that.

One is that something that is created by science can hypothetically be fought by science. The tools that create it are here…the weapons to stop it must be as well. What can be made can be unmade…at least, the possibility exists.

The other thing is that many people believe in the supernatural. They may call it different things, and their beliefs may vary wildly and they may be accepting of one type of the supernatural and condemning of another.

Roughly one third to one half of Americans believe in ghosts, according to polls. Does that change ghost stories into science fiction? There are science fiction ghost stories, where the ghosts are explained by science. However, belief in non-science based ghosts is clearly sizeable. It’s possible, again based on polls, that more people believe in ghosts than in the Big Bang theory.

Interestingly, supernatural doesn’t usually mean without rules. The rules can be very clearly defined…we certainly see that in vampire literature, even though the rules may not be the same from one vampire “world” to another. Can a vampire enter a home without being asked? Can they walk around in the daytime? Do they have to sleep in a coffin with some of their native soil? No…and yes. 🙂 Depends on the book.

I think it could be argued that supernatural systems can have more precision in their rules. The real world is messy…it’s much harder to define a rule in reality than it is in fiction.

Perhaps supernatural horror is scarier if you don’t believe in the supernatural…and science fiction horror is scarier if you do believe in science. 🙂

There’s another whole subset that uses science to create the beings we know from the supernatural. One that I enjoyed was

World Enough, and Time by James Kahn (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

but there are many.

For me, bad science fiction is still in the science fiction category. By that, I mean science fiction based on bad science…if someone said, “I combined aspirin and lemonade and it created an invisibility formula because it blocked out visible wavelengths,” that’s not going to happen based on commonly accepted science, but it’s suggested that it happens based on known science, not on magic. That makes it “bad science” fiction, as far as I’m concerned.

It’s not a big deal to me: I don’t clearly separate science fiction from the supernatural, although I know it’s a passionate argument for many. I’m a “lumper” not a “splitter”. I look for elements that justify that something is fantasy, not that it isn’t.

It’s much harder to find a “classical” author who hasn’t written any “impossible” fiction than many of the literati might want you to believe. Dickens, Shakespeare, Jack London, on and on.

Well, what do you think? Do you find that horror based on science is scarier or that horror based on the supernatural is…or that it just depends on the book? If it does matter, why? What novel has scared you the most? What would recommend? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** At TMCGTT (The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip ) I consider any “impossible fiction” as geeky. The Lord of the Rings, non-science based, is geeky in my book.

November 2016 Kindle book releases

October 25, 2016

November 2016 Kindle book releases

While I don’t generally pre-order Kindle store books myself, I know many of you do.

I understand the fun of just having the book show up, but I figure I’ll order when I want it…since I could have it within a minute, usually.…

However, it’s worth noting that pre-ordering at a low price will tend to preserve that price. Back when the Agency Model was solidly in place, Amazon couldn’t guarantee that books sold by the publishers using that structure wouldn’t go up in price after you pre-ordered them. It wasn’t likely, it was just that Amazon couldn’t control it. We have largely returned to the Agency Model, but Amazon is allowed to discount in some circumstances.

These aren’t necessarily the most popular of the pre-orders…I’m just going to list ones that catch my eye. Since we might not agree on that, here’s a link to the 6,987 titles listed as being released in the USA Kindle Store in November 2016:

October USA Kindle Store releases (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Of those, by the way, 1,139 (120 fewer than last month are) in

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

As usual, I won’t be deliberately linking to books which block text-to-speech access blocked**.

We’ve gone back and forth recently on whether the top four were the

Kindle First (at AmazonSmile)

picks for this month.

Amazon no longer does the “New and Popular” search as a default, but does “Featured”. Presumably, a human being picks those titles in some way…and the list is clearly not the same.  Continuing last month’s trend, they aren’t dominant.

The other thing is that some of those Kindle Unlimited titles are way up on the list. I’m concerned (and I’ve alerted Amazon about it) that people are confused: they think they are pre-ordering a KU borrow, when they are actually pre-ordering a purchase. In other words, they may be thinking they’ll get the book at no additional cost, and actually be charged for it. Amazon has confirmed for me: you can not pre-order a borrow from KU.

Okay, books!

  • Chaos: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta Book 24) by Patricia Cornwell
  • The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan by Dahr Jamail and Chris Hedges
  • Sherlock: A Study in Pink #6 by Steven Moffat (Author), Jay (Illustrator), Claudia Iannicello (Illustrator)
  • Are You an Echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko by Misuzu Kaneko and Toshikado Hajiri
  • That Voodoo That You Do by Ann Yost
  • When Memory Comes by Saul Friedländer and Claire Messud
  • Return to the Secret Garden by Holly Webb
  • Crashing the Party: An American Reporter in China by Scott Savitt
  • I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb
  • Good Behavior by Blake Crouch
  • Showstoppers!: The Surprising Backstage Stories of Broadway’s Most Remarkable Songs by Gerald Nachman
  • Maigret’s First Case (Inspector Maigret) by Georges Simenon and Ros Schwartz
  • The Collectible LEGO Minifigure: Values, Investments, Profits, Fun Facts, Collector Tips by Ed Maciorowski and Jeff Maciorowski
  • Pieces of Soap: Essays by Stanley Elkin and Sam Lipsyye
  • This Is That: Travel Guide To Canada by This is That and Pat Kelly
  • To Pixar and Beyond: My Unlikely Journey with Steve Jobs to Make Entertainment History by Lawrence Levy
  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  • Shadow of Victory (Honor Harrington Book 19) by David Weber
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

Feel free to suggest other books being released in September in the USA Kindle store. If you are the author, or are otherwise connected with the production or publishing of the book, I’d appreciate you saying so. That won’t stop me from publishing the comment, but it should be in your own words and not an ad.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :)

** A Kindle/Fire with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Today’s KDD: “80% off select Biographies & Memoirs”

October 23, 2016

Today’s KDD: “80% off select Biographies & Memoirs”

Books are the purest form of telempathy we know, and biographies and memoirs are especially that. Although, in the case of a biography, you are feeling what the author feels about the subject, so that’s a step removed. As to memoirs…one could argue that every work of fiction is to some extent a memoir. 😉

Today’s

Kindle Daily Deal (at AmazonSmile…benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

says it is “80% off select Biographies & Memoirs”. The 80% language is interesting…when a book is $4.99 in the sale, that suggests it is normally about $25. These books are not normally $25 in Kindle editions, although they could have been that in hardback.

Regardless, there are some good/popular titles here, and they are each under $5. Check that price before you click or tap the Buy button…it could change, and may not apply in your country.

These can make great gifts. Remember that you can buy them during the sale, and delay delivery of the e-book until the appropriate gift-giving occasion, or print out the gift and give it (even wrapped) whenever you want.

Books in the sale include:

  • Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
  • A Little Thing Called Life: On Loving Elvis…by Linda Thompson
  • Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (a major bestseller and later a movie, one of the best reviewed books I’ve seen with a 4.8 out of 5 star average with 27,130 customer reviews)…$3.99
  • Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan
  • The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper & Gloria Vanderbilt
  • Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage by Kay Bratt
  • Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola
  • 10% Happier by Dan Harris
  • Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson
  • Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee
  • Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
  • Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
  • The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
  • First Women by Kate Anderson Brower
  • Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  • Boys in the Trees by Carly Simon
  • Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts
  • The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris
  • Thomas Jefferson: The ARt of Power by Jon Meacham
  • Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius
  • Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
  • Walk to Beautiful by Mr. Jimmy Wayne
  • The Vegas Diaries by Holly Madison
  • Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein
  • Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson, MD
  • American Wife by Tara Kyle
  • My Life with Earth,Wind & Fire by Maurice White
  • Delta Lady: A Memoir by Rita Coolridge
  • Orr: My Story by Bobby Orr
  • Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg

Enjoy!

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

Round up #149: I’m on TKC tomorrow, Brits write about USA libraries

October 21, 2016

Round up #149: I’m on TKC tomorrow, Brits write about USA libraries

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

I’ll be on Len Edgerly’s The Kindle Chronicles this Friday 10/21

I’ve recorded an interview with Len Edgerly of

The Kindle Chronicles

for podcast this Friday!

I’m always honored to be on that show, and it’s a great experience. Len has interviewed many important people, including Jeff Bezos, and the shows are always enhanced by the host’s understanding, wisdom, and compassion.

I had some audio issues (totally not Len’s fault), but I’m hopeful that some technical magic may help cut down on the impact. As usual, I probably talked more than Len expected, so I’m counting on editing. I’ll probably do a post annotating the discussion after the show.

If you have an

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

device (and that includes Echo Dot (at AmazonSmile*), Amazon Tap (at AmazonSmile*), Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote (at AmazonSmile*) ((you don’t need the voice remote…you can use the free Fire TV app), and Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)), you can listen to it by asking the device to “Play The Kindle Chronicles on Tune-in”. It officially goes up on Friday, but I’m not sure when…should be available on Saturday for sure.

Took a Trip without an Echo

Another personal story (more newsy stuff to follow). Our two dogs took my Significant Other and me down to Pacific Grove near Carmel for a couple of days this weekend. 🙂 They love going down there…and so do we! The Carmel beach is leash-free, and there’s a sort of hidden (there’s no sign visible from the street driving by) little old growth forest area in Pacific Grove, called the Rip Van Winkle Open Space, which is also leash-free.

elf-tree

We were looking for a quiet couple of days (we only spent two nights there), with a lot of walking and healthy food (we brought our own…literally the only thing we bought down there was that my SO had a latte).

Quiet meant…no Alexa! I could have brought our Tap, but my SO really isn’t fond of Alexa. I think it’s correct to say that it’s harder to ask for a light to be turned on than to flip a switch, and understanding is imperfect. I have a lot of fun with Alexa, and find the imperfections charming, but I get it. We also didn’t watch any TV…I had considered bringing the Fire TV Stick, and we probably would have used it…but just as well.

That doesn’t mean I was Amazon techless! I didn’t bring a Kindle EBR (E-Book Reader), but did have my trusty (now discontinued) Kindle Fire HDX, and got quite a bit of reading done. I finished

Keep Watching the Skies by Bill Warren (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I really enjoyed that comprehensive encyclopedia of science fiction movies released in the USA in the 1950s! I’ve seen almost all of them (a few were real obscurities; some were…um, not appropriate for me at the time). In print, it’s over 1,000 pages, and I didn’t use text-to-speech, because I wanted to see the photos from the movies and the poster reproductions. 🙂 I’m glad I could buy it for $3.99 during that sale I told you about back then…it’s $14.74 in Kindle format at the time of writing.

On the drive home, which was more than two hours, we streamed a Prime station on my Galaxy S7 Edge (not the exploding Note…I still like Samsung).

When I got home, I was eager to talk to Alexa again, but it was a great trip!

British readers write about their favorite American public libraries

I love this

Guardian article by Tom Stevens and Guardian readers

There are photographs and very personal short anecdotes.

Public libraries are one of the most important institutions that exist, in my opinion. They can change the world, by bringing it (and more than it) to the smallest towns and the biggest minds.

Is there a difference in the concept of British and American libraries? Interesting to me that they are so interested in the architecture…on the other hand, our libraries are relatively modern…not centuries old. 😉

A picture is worth a thousand words…but is a book worth two thousand dollars? 😉

The

Franklin Book Fair

is happening now, and

David Hockney

introduced a book (not yet available through Amazon) with a list price of two thousand Euros (about $2,200, I believe).It’s an art book, and comes with its own stand.

There will be 10,000 copies…gee, I wonder what the Kindle edition will cost? 😉 Just kidding, this one probably won’t be released in e-book form.

Who owns a book’s characters’ unstated lives?

There is a fascinating issue raised in this

L.A. Times article by Michael Schaub

A reader brought up the idea to author S.E. Hinton that two of the male characters in

The Outsiders (at AmazonSmile*)

might have romantic feelings for each other.

The author said definitively that they didn’t and that they weren’t gay.

There was Twitter pushback on that…that Hinton was taking something away from readers.

When I write fictional characters, I don’t feel like I know everything about them. It’s sort of like they only show me so much. I can’t control everything they do, and they often surprise me.

That said, if someone gave a character of mine a secret life that conflicted with what I thought…hm, would I be offended? I think I’d probably be amused.

Look at how Shakespeare has been interpreted in so many ways. That shows, in part, the universality of the writing…and of the character’s feelings.

This is kind of a tough one for me. I feel like Hinton has the perfect right to say that the characters weren’t written as gay, and that the author doesn’t feel like they are gay…in the author’s mind. Letting readers think what they want about the characters seems fine to me.

Brand name authors writing e-book singles

This

USA Today article by Jocelyn McClurg

points out an interesting trend of brand name authors writing short pieces…either short prequels to novels, or short stand-alone stories.

This is something I thought authors like that might independently, but that’s not what is discussed. I also thought publishers might put those sorts of books into

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Take a look at the

Kindle Singles bestsellers in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

There are some brand name authors here and in KU!

  • #7 and #10 are by Stephanie Bond
  • #9 is on Robert Dugoni
  • #15 is an Outlander work by Diana Gabaldon
  • #18 and #20 are by Melinda Leigh

Enjoy!

What do you think? Is it okay for readers and authors to have different ideas about the characters? Do you travel with an Echo? Do you have fond memories of specific libraries? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

Amazon’s three plan strategy for customers

October 19, 2016

Amazon’s three plan strategy for customers

Amazon is clearly moving into a new era, and they’ve come up with an interesting new plan for customers (or purchasers, for those who prefer alliteration) 😉 …or rather, perhaps it is three plans.

They are extending this through the different types of content…and let’s take a look at them.

The three plans are this:

  1. Pay by the item (Piece): these people have Amazon accounts (I’m not counting “no account” as a plan), but make decisions one item at a time. When they want to watch a movie, read a book, or listen to a song, they are willing to pay for it that point
  2. Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) members (Prime): they pay (typically) $99 a year, and want to get the most out of it. They certainly may pay for individual items, too, but are generally pretty satisfied with the selection
  3. Premium payers: they may have Prime (Premium), but they will pay more for even more stuff. 🙂 They’ll lay out more money for other subscriptions

Let’s take a look at how this works for e-books first:

“Pay by the item” folks just buy e-books when they want them. They aren’t Prime members at all…if they pay $0.99 for a book or $9.99, that’s what they pay.

The Amazon Prime members, which Amazon just started really serving with Prime Reading

Frequently Asked Kindle Questions: Prime Reading edition

have access to a rotating set of about 1,000 titles.

For people who will pay more for the most options, they subscribe to

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

perhaps on top of Prime (which is what we do). That gives them close to one and a half million titles.

Amazon also just introduced

Amazon Music Unlimited (at AmazonSmile)

which sets up a similar system for music.

Some people will buy music as they want it.

Others will be Prime members, and will be satisfied with Prime music, which has about 2 million titles (although rumor has it that some songs have moved from Prime Music to the Premium Amazon Music…causing some previously created playlists to have gaps).

Amazon Music Unlimited has “tens of millions” of songs…and you can download music. There are more than 41 million digital songs at Amazon, so this may not be all of them (that will depend in part on the deals they strike with rightsholders), but it will be most of them.

Prime members can pay an additional $7.99 a month (or $79 for the year), non-Prime members by $9.99 (and they don’t show a discounted annual option), and Echo owners can get it at $3.99 a month (for a single Echo device…$14.99 or $149 a month, in the upcoming Family plan).

What about games?

Yet another recent addition for Prime members (see the pattern?) 😉 is Twitch Prime. People can buy games one at a time, take what comes with Prime, or subscribe ($4.99 a month, with other options).

With video, you get pay by the piece, Prime, or pay for additional content through Streaming Partners subscriptions:

Amazon unplugs cable…and recent e-book price drops

It’s an interesting strategy, and I can see it being successful.

For us, we were Piece buyers for a long time. I was, I would say, relatively slow to subscribe to Prime. At the time, the one big advantage was free shipping in two days on many items, and I would do the calculations and think it wasn’t worth it. I was underestimating the convenience factor, and then Prime added all of these other perks!

When Kindle Unlimited was released, we went for it…and have been happy with that. What was available for Prime members then, the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library) was just so limited (one book a calendar month), that after a while, I didn’t even pay attention to it. We went from Piece to Premium…but there wasn’t much of a Prime choice. Now that there is, we are staying with Premium (keeping our KU subscription), because, well, I read weird books. 😉 Those tend to be in KU, but not in Prime Reading.

I like music, but feel adequately served by Prime Music. At this point, I don’t see becoming a Premium music family…and we don’t play videogames much (my Significant Other plays Candy/Soda Crush and Scrabble, but I think that’s about it). We’ve been Prime music consumers, and now, even though we’ll probably never use, we are Prime videogame consumers

Let me just ask this for e-books…which one of the types of purchasers are you/the people on your account?

What do you think? What makes your decision (if anything) to pay for a premium subscription? Do you like the recent additions to Prime? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Note: this post was updated when the short names for the three plans occurred to me, and to add more content and the poll to it.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

ILMK Reader Hero #5: Amjad, the Syrian underground librarian

October 17, 2016

ILMK Reader Hero #5: Amjad, the Syrian underground librarian

Readers make the world a better place. The I Love My Kindle blog recognizes those extraordinary few who make heroic efforts to expand their minds, their hearts, and their perspectives by engaging with the world’s culture through the experience of literature.

They are our Reader Heroes.

Our readers so far have come from places not always associated with heroism…like most ILMK readers, their lives have presumably been relatively safe.

ILMK Reader Hero #5, known only as Amjad, is a fourteen-year old living in one of the least safe places in the world…war-torn Syria.

Imagine that bombs were falling around you every day. In your neighborhood, homes are often in ruins.

What would be most important to you in that situation?

For some, there was one particular goal. It was a goal that drove them to risk sniper fire, as they risked everything to enter those ruined homes, in quest of a particular kind of treasure. That treasure would be taken to a secret location, literally underground.

What were they after?

Books.

Eventually, according to reports, there were 15,000 books in this subterranean haven.

Amjad became effectively the librarian, spending several hours a day there, reading and caring for the books.

This young teen describes in news stories how reading expanded a frightened mind, how important it was. In a CNN story, the translation of Amjad’s comments includes this:

“I liked the place and I learned by reading. Reading made me happy.”

In that CNN piece by Frederik Pleitgen and Claudia Otto, we learn that, while Amjad had so far survived the war, the library has not. Civilians have been removed from the area. The carefully maintained shelves are now mostly bare, with volumes fallen and in disarray…at least, those not removed by Syrian troops.

Amjad smiles to see the library again on the reporter’s phone.

It was an island of sanity, history, and community in a sea of chaos and destruction.

For months, Amjad, fourteen years old, would make an arduous swim to that island…and once there, would guide other swimmers, dripping with despair, to 15,000 worlds of escape.

Only to swim back, risking life…and would repeat it again and again

There were many heroes in the story of this library, many who dared all to read and to help others read…and not all have survived.

ILMK recognizes Amjad, the Syrian underground librarian, as our fifth Reader Hero.

Readers of ILMK are welcome to express their congratulations to Amjad and to offer support and encouragement by commenting on this post and/or clicking on the poll below.

Related news stories (some include video):

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.


%d bloggers like this: