Sunday, 11 April 2010

Sweet Charity

Yesterday was a good hunting day in those sometimes rich fields of the Great British Charity Shop. They are, admittedly, full of literary chaff: the Dan Browns and the Geoffrey Archers speak loudly of the triumph of marketing over substance; the airport thrillers nestle shoulder to shoulder with the holiday romances. Read once and then discarded like the throwaway characters they contain.

Sometimes a Saturday morning visit can reward with a nugget in the detritus; perhaps a missing Jasper Fforde for my collection, or a serendipitous National Geographic.

But yesterday was a good day.

Not one, not two, but three major award winners: Dan Simmons’ Hyperion (Hugo 1990), Joe Haldeman’s Forever Peace (Hugo and Nebula 1998), and Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin (Hugo 2006). Not only these, but also but a signed first edition of Iain M Banks’ Look To Windward, plus his Excession, and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash (a Bloomsbury Must Read Science Fiction novel). Finally, and laterally, Rocks of Ages by that most excellent science essayist Stephen Jay Gould. And all of them for about £2 each.

Are any of them any good? Well, time and reading will tell; but I do know that the greatest of these is charity.

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