Friday, August 27, 2010

The Power Of Story—In Any Medium

STATUS: I have a lot on my plate today. If I don’t blog now, it won’t happen.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LITTLE GREEN APPLES by O.C. Smith

Since my father passed away in January, I’ve long wanted to write this blog entry but didn’t feel up to it. I’m going to give it try today.

My love of reading definitely came from my parents—both avid readers. But my father was passionate about books. He was the one who took me and my older brother and sister to the library every Sunday (almost without fail).

In fact, it was my Dad who created my love of science fiction and fantasy. His SFF books littered our house and pretty much covered every shelf.

Our first conversation about “appropriate reading for ten year olds” happened over an SF book actually (Slave Girl of Gor anyone?) It was the only time he ever censored reading and gave up after 6 months when my brother and I ferreted them all out anyway and read them. Just thinking about that memory after all these years makes me laugh.

The hardest thing was getting Dad to read contemporary SF&F. Man, pulling teeth to get him to try a new author. The trick was not to suggest but to just give him the books. Years ago, I did that for Dan Simmon’s Hyperion series, I never got my books back. I was in grad school at the time (when every dollar counts) and I had to go out and re-buy the books for my own shelves. I didn’t let him live that down for years. Last year, I gave him Scalzi’s OLD MAN’S WAR and he was hooked. Another personal triumphant!

And yes, I’m going somewhere with all this. Well, my father had cancer that had migrated to the brain. He was blind for the last six months of his life. I knew he wouldn’t survive without story so I talked him into listening to audio books—a medium he had never tried before. I even got him to try a new author.

When my father was rushed to the hospital right after Christmas (literally, the day after), he had only one request for me, bring him his green iPod shuffle with his latest story.

The man was dying but darn if he was going to go without getting to the end of his audio book—which, by the way, was Brent Weeks’ THE WAY OF SHADOWS.

His last days were at home surrounded by his family and all his books (literally we had the hospice bed set up in the living room). Sadly, he didn’t get a chance to finish the story but not from lack of trying.

And that, folks, is the power of story in any medium.