A special love, such as that shared by Anna and John Bates in "Downton Abbey."
Or of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in "Victoria."
Or of Neo and Trinity in "The Matrix."
A precious, everlasting love.
* * *
OK, so this is somewhat of an homage to Howard Jones and his song, "Everlasting Love."
But more than that, it resembles an enduring love I have for reading, which began in third grade when I discovered the complete "Brothers Grimm." And through fourth and then into fifth grade, when I picked up a tattered paperback copy of H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine."
To me, the love of reading and reviewing is precious, everlasting. I am as much in love with the books I read, starting with the big collection of "Brother's Grim" fairy tales to the last book I reviewed this issue, UP THE RAINBOW: The complete short fiction of Susan Casper ed. by Gardner Dozois and published by Fantastic Books.
But on the way to recognizing that love, there can be some anger or even uncertainty.
Sometimes the things you seemed so certain of weren't so. And the start of it all may not have been love, but disappointment, perhaps even anger.
* * *
Memory is uncertain.
Before I took a look back into the past, I was convinced that my first review appeared in my self-published fanzine, OGRE 1, in the spring of 1979. (Other issues, OGRE 2-7, followed between 1979 and 1987.)
So I dug out the old issues, which remain in fine shape. Nope. Not there. My memory betrays me. How could that be?
More digging turned up the vermilion-colored copy of OGRE 3, in fine shape, published in January 1981. And right there my first reviews, tallied in the review column "Exacting Vengeance." Eureka!
My first review? The novel WIZARD by John Varley, the second in the TITAN trilogy.
(By the way, OGRE was inspired by the Dick Geis-edited SF REVIEW magazine, which I was in love with and read religiously almost since its inception. I would laugh out loud when I read Geis's acidic, somewhat hilarious criticism about the state of SF and the world in general. So I was "exacting vengeance" against the pablum that was commercial SF at the time: wizard-and-warlock series, crass commercial major movie tie-ins, hastily-made fiction hacked from current events: sadly, all the things that remain with us, like a chronic skin condition, in 2017. I continued "Exacting Vengeance" into True Review, for a time.)
Certainly the love was there: I reviewed LORD VALENTINE'S CASTLE, in which I lambasted Robert Silverberg for giving readers a worn-out plot (pushing the buttons, using his own words in a speech at Philcon one time, about lords and castles) and how much he let the readers down. (Sorry, Bob.)
However, in OGRE 3, I was ebullient about the story anthologies and single-author collections: THE BERKLEY SHOWCASE (Berkely Books), THE RAY BRADBURY COMPANION (Gale Research), THE FANTASIES OF HARLAN ELLISON (Gregg Press/G.K. Hall and Co.), NEBULA WINNERS 14 (Harper and Row), BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES OF THE YEAR, 8th annual (Dell) and BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES OF THE YEAR 9th annual (E.P. Dutton), UNIVERSE 10 (Doubleday), the beautiful CHRYSALIS series of stories, Vols. 2-7, Zebra Books and SAN DIEGO LIGHTFOOT SUE AND OTHER STORIES, Earthlight Publishers.
There were also two art book reviews: WONDERWORKS (Starblaze Books/The Donning Co.) and AGE OF DREAMS (Donald M. Grant).
Sadly, all of these books were lost in the flood we experienced in September 2011. (But since then, I repurchased a very good edition of SAN DIEGO LIGHTFOOT SUE and added it to my present, higher-ground collection.)
There were 21 reviews by yours truly in OGRE 3 and an additional 11 reviews by other contributors.
* * *
Altogether, in review publications -- which range from "SF Review" and "Alternities" to "SF and Fantasy Review," "Fantasy Review," "Thrust Magazine," "Antithesis Magazine" and others, including TRUE REVIEW -- I have read 3,542 books.
I am not certain of the count in terms of how many reviews have been published in True Review alone. Probably close to 1,500.
That's a lot of love. A precious, everlasting love.
Now I have reached TRUE REVIEW 100. I am reminded that every time Anna sees Mr. Bates, or Victoria sees Albert, how they light up, how their expressions are like the shiny ornaments on a Christmas tree. You can see something special, something enduring, when they are with each other.
Thinking of the sweat and desire I put into those early fan magazines, and with many of my True Review editorials and reviews, I can only smile. Reading remains precious, everlasting.