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Reasons why I am loving The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl:

On page 10 the protagonist, Marzi, picked up a copy of Louis L'Amour's Hondo. Readers of this site will understand why I am oddly freaked by how this particular title should suddenly show up right now in a book I'm reading. (It's not like it's the most famous of L'Amour's titles either.)

On page 14 Marzi considers why college might be great for her friend Lindsey, but not for her: "Marzi tended to think that the only reason to get an art degree was to get a job teaching art - welcome to the closed loop of the humanities." I just picked up and put down another collection by an MFA grad who was published by a university press. Sometimes I think half of these college presses exist only to publish the people they graduate. Boring, mucho mucho boring.

On page 18 Charlie Hatfield is name-dropped. Charlie Hatfield name dropped in a modern sci fi story! How cool is that?!

On page 130 readers discover that the Santa Cruz boardwalk (Santa Cruz is the setting for the story) was used in The Lost Boys, one of the best vampire movies ever made. I was thinking as I read about the boardwalk that it reminded of the movie and then low and behold - it was the movie.

Really, it's just all so good I could go on and on.

Suffice to say, I'm loving Rangergirl. It looks right now like it will fit in my October column - with the Bradbury rules and "Something Wicked This Way Comes" theme rather than September, which is all adventure books. I'm moving it largely because things are just too far this side of sinister in Rangergirl to call it all adventure. Better to put it with the slightly creepy titles that rule October. Even California has to have its Halloween moments you know. And in a story with a woman made out of mud, well, that's just screaming Halloween to me.

In other reading news, Paul Collins points to his latest review in the San Francisco Chronicle of Deborah Blum's Ghost Hunters. This book sounds really interesting to me - not only because of the ghostly subject matter but also the great history and famous people Blum addresses. She includes a look at the Fox sisters, of course, and I can only again point to the wonderful biography of Margaret Fox I reviewed earlier this year. What a fascinating life she led, and how utterly tragic as well. (Very frustratingly I know that I read about Blum's book somewhere else in the blogosphere over the past few days but can not recall where. Most annoying.)

Gavin Grant's new blog points readers to his gem of a comic - The Monkeynauts. As someone who was farely consumed with space as a kid (I had no choice- you live on the Space Coast in the 1970s and it is all about rockets and beaches and Star Trek reruns people) I am absurdly excited by this little book. I remember how depressing it was when I found out that Laika, the brave Russian space dog, died on re-entry. Ugh! Can't wait to read about the luckier monkeys.


I am a longtime russophile, and one of my more exciting moments (I am not in general an adventurous traveler, usually I am at home reading a book instead) was visiting the space museum in Moscow--they've actually got Laika and successors, you know, taxidermied, with those little Jetsons-type goldfish bowl space bubbles at the top of their little outfits! Tragic but sweet.... and everyone you meet in Russia still gets starry-eyed and nostalgic at the name Yuri Gagarin, he is almost the only untarnished symbol of Soviet times; and everyone knows the names of all the dogs who went into space....

When I linked to that picture of Laika it seemed so sad to see her sitting there - and read that she was strapped in and died all alone in space, no one to tell her that it was okay, no one to give her comfort.

I'm a sap for animals.

I know the reality is that she would have died from starvation or cold anyway (she was a stray) and it was critical to send animals first. But I still hate that we always have to pay this price for technological/scientific advancements. I would love to go to the Moscow space museum though - it sounds amazing and how cool Gagarin is remembered so well. I doubt most Americans could tell you about Alan Shepherd or the other Apollo astronauts.

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