Another Labor Day Weekend is upon us and that means that another Summer Vacation has come to a close upon this middle earth. With that, it's time for 2017's annual Seven Heavens of Summer Reading Awards. As in summers past, I award the the most interesting books of the year's summer reading to the various medieval planets that most correspond to their virtues.
Sun: The Sun is the heaven of scholars. A hundred years ago, J.R.R. Tolkien was penning the first words of what would become Middle Earth. It has taken two lifetimes to bring out all that was in that tweedy little don's head. Christopher Tolkien, at 93, has brought out what he considers the capstone of his father's work Beren and Luthien. Though there is no new material here, the arrangement allows the reader to see how the central tale of Tolkien's mythology evolved over the course of its creator's long life. The Solaric Award, then, goes to both Tolkiens for two life's-works well done.
Mercury: Words are tricky things, not the least because they often say more than we mean them to. For looking behind the words we use to deal with race to the power-dynamics behind them, the Mercurial Award goes to Shelby Steele for his ever-challenging The Content of Our Character.
Venus: Venus is the planet of creativity and its award goes to a work that has challenged me to think harder about the creative aspect of the cinematic enterprise: Save the Cat by Blake Snyder.
Moon: I've enjoyed diving into Valiant Comics' considerable oeuvre this year. Though the school year was taken up with Rai, I turned this summer to look at something a little more niche. The award for the planet of madness and changes goes to Valiant Comics' Britannia: We Who Are About to Die, and its singular centurion, occult detective Antonius Axia.
Mars: The planet of warriors goes to another Valiant comic series for bringing us into a world of Jon Carter of Mars type fun XO Man-o-War Soldier and General. This soaring space opera featuring a time-traveling 5th century Goth and his sentient suit of space armor is ongoing!
Jupiter: The planet of kings goes to the story of a man who thought our highest duty was to rule ourselves: The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. This is American theater at its finest -right up their with Death of a Salesman- and I can't believe that I missed out on it for years. Thanks to the nice drama teacher at Half-Priced Books who tipped me off while I was helping her look for stuff on the Salem Witch Trials.
Saturn: How do you make an end? Agatha Christie spent decades creating an intricate alternate universe peopled with some of the world's most memorable super-sleuths. She also had the courage to follow her creations into their twilight years, and even killed off her great creation, Hercule Poirot. By The Pricking of My Thumbs, a Tommy and Tuppence mystery, isn't one of Christie's greatest works, but it does put on display the unique courage she had in allowing her characters to age and falter.
So there you have it folks! Another successful year of celebrating the oddly mundane here at Platypus of Truth.