Parsec - June 1995
Sandals' Rant - Sandals
(page 2/13)

Sandals' Rant

He himself

"A world in which everyone is literate but no-one reads". This sentence (or at least something very much like it) was writen by a young Jules Verne over a century ago, when he was writing a prediction of his future - our present.

And I must say I agree.

Running icsf this year has been on the whole enjoyable. My largest two gripes (at least within the society!) have been the low atendence of the best film we showed - Kafka - and the appalingly low use of our library. Apart from the dedicated few - around 40 to be kind - most of the members seem to be quite happy basicaly not to use it. Why? Although I know of a few people around college who get hold of books by other means (mainly better off postgrads who simply buy what they want), most people it must be presumed do simply not read.

I consider this a great shame.

cartoon by crisp So what is it that I think people are loosing out on if they do not read? After all, there is television and radio and video, which can also fulfill the role of story telling. However, in my opinion they in no way compare to the abilities of the writen word, and the effect of reading them. I would bet that not a single one of my faviorate books could be transfered to another medium and keep that which makes it special; the grandeur and scope of Hyperion, the soporific lifelike pace of Little,Big, the philosophicall arguements of The Dispossesed and Speaker for the Dead, the grit edge of Neuromancer or Heavy Time. The comercial narrowness of films also means that even if someone decided to make a film of any of these books they would almost definitely concentrate on what the public wants, or is at least deemed to want, namely nowadays the sex and gratuitios violence. That is almost definitely the reason Kafka failed - filmed in black and white, no sex, and no hype at all from the media since they had already decided it would be a box office failiure for those very reasons.

Does all of the above all sound elitist or stuck up? Well - maybe thats what it is now called when you do not agree with the dictum that what common culture says is cool necesarily is. It may well be a fact of human nature that the majority will always be of a herd instinct, but in a country where everyone is literate it is a pitiful thing that most people are unwilling even to try opening a book to see what they can see.

Sandals, Chairthing of ICSF, the Imperial College Science Fiction Society