Thursday, June 4, 2015
Summer Reading: The Best of L. Sprague de Camp
A little over half-way through, and I have to say that The Best of L. Sprague de Camp is a thoroughly enjoyable collection of short stories. Many years ago I'd read The Gnarly Man and not so long ago I'd found a radio play of A Gun for Dinosaur – first on WTIX-AM when it was in its final throes and then shortly after on the internet. Here, you can dig the latter out of archive.org, just search down a little. Give it a listen, it's just under 30 minutes long and it's a fair sample of this collection.
Most of these stories deal with fairly serious themes – a worldwide viral plague with a mostly harmless side-effect, an air-dispersed zombie drug, trade relations with other humanoids, a sort of proto-Jurassic Park story – but the author always keeps a light and amusing touch. Sometimes the genie gets stuffed back in the bottle by the end, sometimes mankind just hitches its britches up and continues onward. de Camp's handling of history always rings of truth, in much the same way as Tolkien's writing, but with a definite 20th Century American twist. It's fun reading that doesn't leave you feeling as if you'd eaten an entire bag of tortilla chips afterwards.
Here, have a couple of Wikipedia links, first to the collection's page, then to a short biography on de Camp. If you want much more, you can find it starting there. Also, a reminder that if you can't find a paperback copy nearby, these sorts of collections are tailor-made for downloading your e-reader for next to nothing.
Finally, I wish to point out that it doesn't take a time machine to go dinosaur hunting anymore these days. What's more, they are pretty darned tasty, at least the right varieties if prepared properly. Remember? Yes, this is a good world.