Thursday, January 10, 2008

Move Over, Carl Sagan

The man in the office next to me, Bob, is a pretty smart guy. He’s the assistant director of our lab and if you have data you want analyzed – well, let’s just say Bob can make numbers dance like Margarita-soaked writers at a gay karaoke bar. (A comparison which, if you were at a certain nightspot during the Romance Writer’s of America convention in Atlanta a couple years back, would impress heck out of you.)

The other day, Bob voiced his opinion that writers are Interpreters of the Cosmos. After immediately deciding that he’d never read anything of mine since I have enough trouble interpreting the washing instruction tags on my clothes let alone the cosmos, I gave his idea some thought.

If one defines “cosmos” as the world around us, then what Bob says makes absolute sense. Each story is a lens through which the writer explores human interaction and shares their world view with us.

Mary Janice Davidson makes us laugh as we ride along with Betsy, a woman/vampire dealing with a world and a position of power she doesn’t want. Nora Roberts enthralls us as we grow with Eve Dallas, a tough, honest cop learning to love and overcome extreme childhood abuse. Suzanne Brockman takes us into the hearts and minds of the men and women warriors who fight for us. These authors interpret our world in fresh and inventive ways. They give us insight into human nature and light corners that might otherwise have remained dark.

Carl Sagan helped us navigate the mysteries of the ever-expanding universe, but writers can show us new paths through the world we walk every day. They truly could be considered Interpreters of the Cosmos.

Like I said, Bob is a pretty smart guy.

Okay, so of course I started to think about books that have impacted my view of life. The first thing that came to mind was the Fellowship of the Ring. I devoured the series, caught up in the adventure. But I was also engaged by Tolkein’s view of the cosmos - his belief in good triumphing over evil, the power of community and trusted friends, the necessity to persevere even when you don’t believe you can reach your goal.

How about you? What books or authors have Interpreted the Cosmos for you and changed or affirmed the way you think about the world?


Colleen Gleason said...

Great blog, Holli.

As for books that helped me to interpret the universe...I'd have to throw in C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.

Since I haven't *gasp* read LOTR, I must admit Lewis is the one who did it for me.

angel24990 said...

What a wonderful blog....My author would be Anne Rice and I am not ashamed to say that....:-) and not just the vampire novels...I loved the Witching Hour and all her books in the Mayfair Witch series and her Mummy book also.

Holli Bertram said...

Angel - I LOVED the Mayfair Witch series. Anne Rice had a Mummy book? I missed that one.

Colleen - I've never read the Chronicles of Narnia. Saw the movie, though :).

Helen Scott Taylor said...

Interesting post, Holli. I think by its very nature, all fiction gives a peak at the author's view of life (and in some cases their view of life the universe and everything). Books that resonate with me are ones where the underdog makes good. I love Cinderella-type stories. Some of my favorites of recent years are the Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canavan.

Savanna Kougar said...

Holli, so true about interpreting or shining another light on the cosmos. Reading has done that for me whether fiction or non-fiction. I think the very first one was The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. It was a whole wonderful magical realm I wanted to inhabit.

Holli Bertram said...

Helen, I'm going to check out the Black Magician trilogy. Even the title draws me in. I really like the Cinderella theme also.

Savanna, I can remember reading every Walter Farley I could find in the library as a kid. I wanted to race horses for the longest time - and since I grew up in Detroit, there weren't a whole lot of horses around to feed the fantasy.

Savanna Kougar said...

Holli, you and I could have been blood sisters! I devoured every Walter Farley I could get my little grubby paws on! And wanted to race horses too. Fortunately I did get my half-Arab filly, Pride, and she was fast! clocked her at 40 mph once, riding bareback.

Anitra Lynn McLeod said...

I fell in love with both the character and the premise in Roger Zelazny's "The Chronicles of Amber". His series shaped my view as a writer and a reader.

Also, someone mentioned the "Mummy" by Anne Rice--another fav of mine.

And everything by Marion Zimmer Bradley--especially the "Mists of Avalon"

Er, I realize I'm late in commenting but forgive--I've got a lot going on! :)