Saturday, 15 November 1997:

More Classifications

Hey! It looks like my journal just cracked 500 hits since I started it. Not bad in three-and-a-half months.

I feel better today. I went to bed at midnight last night and slept 'til after 9:00. This seems to be the schedule my body is naturally tending towards these days, which I can live with, I guess. But my throat is less sore today, and I don't feel so exhausted.

I went downtown to shop this morning - yes, I was actually out of the house by 11:00! It's pretty damned cold around here now; time to ditch the leather coat and move to the winter one.

I mainly wanted to stop at the local collectible card game shop to buy some individual cards for a couple of Magic decks I'm still tuning. I don't play in tournaments, just with friends, but I like to refine my decks over a long period of time.

I bought some Fungal Bloom cards for my Breeder deck. This is my oldest deck, and I'm determined to make it work in my lifetime, dammit! It's green & black and relies on Thallid, Elven Farmer and Breeding Pit cards to do its breeding, with Fallen Angels, Ravenous Vampires and a Lord of the Pit to deal its real damage. Once it gets going it can be pretty devastating, but I'm still trying to figure out how to get it going quickly. It's a real mana-intensive deck; I might end up putting my Quirion Elves in it to help.

I also bought a couple of Howling Mines for me green & blue Black Vise deck. It's got the Mines, the Vises, some Library of Lengs and some Malignant Growths to do its dirty work, and the creatures are mainly Fungosaurs and Tims (a.k.a. Prodigal Sorcerers or their ilk). It actually works pretty well already, but I think it has the potential to be really killer.

I don't spend much money on Magic cards anymore, but every so often I like to play around with some new cards.

I also made the rounds of the used bookstores, and found a copy of Suzette Haden Elgin's Native Tongue, which I've been seeking for a while. Elgin is a linguist and I'm curious about some of her linguistic-based SF. Native Tongue has been a book I classified as "unavailable" for a while, which means it just can't be found, except by luck. At least, not by me.

Most books are "commonly available"; anything in print is common (e.g., Isaac Asimov), as are many used books easily found in used bookstores, such as John Varley's Titan-Wizard-Demon trilogy, or Walter Miller's A Canticle For Leibowitz. These are books I never worry about being able to find.

Many other books are "hard to find", which means you need to do a little searching for them, but you can probably find them in some form within a few months, if you put in a little work. Most valuable books fall into this category; they're expensive, but you can find them if you're willing to pay the price. A lot of lesser-known SF through 1970 falls into this category, such as certain books by H. Beam Piper, as well as smaller-press reprints of early material, like the Cordwainer Smith, Henry Kuttner and Zenna Henderson reprints being published by NESFA Press these days. If you have convenient access to a good SF specialty store which is diligent about keeping a good selection in stock (which I don't), then these books might be easy to find, for you.

"Unavailable" books are ones which just can't be found for sale at all, unless you get lucky. For the last decade, my prototypical Unavailable book has been George R. R. Martin's The Armageddon Rag, which I have just never seen anywhere. I finally found it at Worldcon a couple of months ago. Native Tongue has also been Unavailable, until today. Now my current Unavailable book is Vernor Vinge's Threats And Other Promises, which is all the more frustrating for having been published only in 1990. I just cannot find a copy anywhere, although I borrowed a friend's copy to read a couple of years ago.

Unavailable books tend not to be expensive; in part, they're unavailable because there's no demand for them. Valuable books, such as the hardcover edition of C. J. Cherryh's Cyteen, can be found because there's a market for them; that's what makes them valuable. Because they're valuable, there are usually a few people around wanting to sell them, to make big bucks. Unavailable books have no demand, so when you find them, they're cheap. (I paid about two bucks apiece for The Armageddon Rag and Native Tongue.) It's finding them that's so damned hard.

There's also a genuine New York-style pizza parlor downtown now, where I stopped for both lunch and dinner today. It's not the greatest pizza in the world, but it has that certain something that no other pizza place I've been to in the Midwest has. Maybe it's the sauce, or the quality of the grease, or the dough, but it's yummy. And I can buy it by the slice. Mmmmm!

In the afternoon I wrote an APAzine, which took about four hours to write, copy and drop off. It's about four pages.

Then this evening I headed down to read for a while. I'm about a third of the way through Steven Gould's Jumper, and I'm enjoying it. He does a good job of portraying his 18-year-old protagonist, and I can remember feeling at that age many of the things he feels (although, obviously, not the thrill of teleporting across the country). In some ways I feel like I haven't come very far since I was 18: I got two degrees, a well-paying job, and lost my virginity. Whoop-de-doo.

So, now it's a bit after 11:00, and I hope to get to bed by midnight again, so I'll bid you adieu...

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