Why am I reviewing a book review column here? Because 1. It's as long as a book, over 200 pages several years ago when I stopped comb binding it and started keeping it on disk, and 2. it develops a series of themes, using books to illustrate them, rather than being a series of discrete, stand-alone reviews.
Jacqueline Lichtenberg began doing these reviews for The Monthly Aspectarian, a small New Age magazine, in 1993, and is still at it. I have been reading -- and rereading -- her science fiction Sime~Gen, First Lifewave, and Dushau seria since 1985, and would gladly read the phone book, if she wrote it. There is something so meaningful about the characters she draws and stories she tells that I had to know what made the woman tick, so when I stumbled across www.simegen.com, the site she and her writing partner, Jean Lorrah, maintain, in 1998, and discovered these articles at http://www.simegen.com/reviews/rereadablebooks/, I was in ecstasy.
Okay, what is there to get so het up over?
For an ex-fundamentalist Christian struggling out of bondage to fear and guilt, I was fearful of this whole New-Age approach to everything, and it was from a New Age magazine. Yet I had been steeped in science fiction since my early teens, so Ms. Lichtenberg and I spoke the same language. And we were both Trekkers, so we followed the same mythos about Kirk, Spock and McCoy and the will-heart-head conflict the three of them maintained.
Two, she started the series out with a bang by proposing a new genre name that summed up what I'd been looking for all my life across genres: Intimate Adventure. In it, you solve your problems by communicating. Not shooting. Not falling into bed. Communicating.
Three, she was talking about Honor, and Integrity, things I was already struggling to define in my life, and she was telling me I could help define them, and find role models of them for myself, by reading the very books I already loved to read.
Four, she was recommending a lot of individual books I had already read and loved, for the very elements I loved them. It gave me confidence that her tastes and mine meshed well.
She brings to the column an encyclopedic knowledge of tarot, astrology, and Kaballah -- and I'm not talking "popular Kaballah" here; I'm talking years of study before it became trendy -- as well as a deep understanding of why they dovetail with how to use them to create stories and characters and analyze those that other people have created. It was quite a lot for me to swallow -- tarot and astrology, especially! I didn't know a Heirophant from an elephant, and it took me months to get up the nerve to walk into the metaphysical bookstore and look through a tarot deck. Many more months to look for an astrological web site and get a chart cast.
Next thing my Significant Other knew, I carried an inch-thick comb-binder everywhere with me, and every other sentence started, "Jacqueline says..."
The thing is, whatever tradition you come from, be it Christianity or Judaism, or Buddhism, or Anything, the tenets may be great. They may help millions of people live. But when you get bludgeoned with them for enough years, they become so toxic you can't hear them any more, and you need out. You need the same ideas, but you need them in fresh words. You need them from someone without the trappings that were associated with the "shoulds" you had all your life.
I'm putting this review here because in order to free up your mind to think at a higher level, you really need to get into integrity. Ms. Lichtenberg talks a lot about honor -- what it takes to gain it, and what it takes to lose it, and what it takes to gain it back. Can you have honor without integrity? More on that in a later essay.
One of the most memorable days of my life came when Ms. Lichtenberg and Ms. Lorrah sat with me in a hotel room at NasFic Convention in Anaheim and answered my questions personally for four hours.
As you can see, I'm biased. I admit it. And I don't intend to change. Ever.
As I've integrated most of the ideas in the articles, Eric only hears "Jacqueline says..." on rare occasions now. I'm not sure whether he's relieved or regretful. Probably both.
Anyway, if you'd like recommendations on hours and hours of great reading, or just a lot of great ideas on life itself, check out "Rereadable Books." Learn about Intimate Adventure, the challenges facing a true Hero, the concept of Honor from many different points of view, Initiation, Identity, and many more topics that will help you think about what I write.
Blessings on you and on your House.