I know a guy who spent a month living with an indigenous tribe in South America. Over the course of four weeks, he ate what they ate, drank what they drank, did as they did and, generally, lived as they lived. When I asked him the obvious question – Why? – he informed me that it was only through cultural assimilation achieved by the complete surrender of long-held social mores, that one could fully comprehend the experience of “the other”. It struck me as a courageous though altogether foreboding exploit, a course of action I could never imagine taking myself.
Until today, when I took such a step, moving out of my comfort zone in an effort to understand a set of beliefs and practices so daunting, so bizarrely alien to me, that I questioned whether I would survive the experience with my sanity intact. In seeking empathy with our new office assistant, I abandoned the very foundation upon which I, as a human being, have long stood, eschewing ingrained notions of right and wrong to embrace her strange – some may say freakish – outlook. Today, I followed Ashleigh’s lead and ordered a vegetarian sandwich for lunch.
Camembert, avocado, cucumbers, and tomato on baguette. It wasn’t bad. A little weird at first. I kept waiting for that bite of chicken or crispy bacon that never came but, after a while, I got used to it. It was tasty, if not a tad messy, but all in all an exhilarating and positive experience not unlike riding a rollercoaster for the first time or learning your wife or girlfriend went ahead and watched that Susan Sarandon movie without you.
No, I haven’t been converted. Two weeks from now, you won’t catch me wearing tie-dye and open-toed sandals listening to Melissa Etheridge, trumpeting the virtues of tofurkey and getting the shit beaten out of me by rodeo cowboys. Still, it was a fascinating, eye-opening journey.
Next week, I join the Patea Maori Club!
Hey, the 2009 Hugo Award Nominations are out and there are a number of familiar names among the nominees.
Blog favorite and Stargate: Universe Consultant John Scalzi earned three nods: Best Novel for Zoe’s Tale, Best Related Book for Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008, and Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form for METAtropolis.
Nancy Kress, who joined us recently to discuss her book, Dogs, received a nomination in the Best Novella category for “The Erdmann Nexus”.
Ellen Datlow, who will be joining us next month to discuss Poe: 19 New Tales Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, received a nomination in the category of Best Editor, Short Form.
Our very first book of the month club guest, our buddy Lou Anders received a nomination in the category of Best Editor, Long Form.
John Picacio, who was a guest of this blog last year, received a nod in the Best Professional Artist category.
And author David Anthony Durham who dropped by in 2008 to discuss his novel, Acacia, received a nomination for The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
Congratulations to all.