The Spaced-Out Library

     Is “spaced-out” an ignorant or a perceptive term? To me, it’s like saying “Who, you?” in answer to a question someone asks you. I’d rule out “perceptive” in considering the matter. If it were perceptive, so would be something in a Presidential candidate’s speech.
     I’ve been reviewing books for quite a while, and in all that time I haven’t heard back from anybody about my reviews; no one, it occurs to me, has paid any attention to my reviews, and none have gone out looking for and found anything I’ve reviewed, or if they have, I don’t know about it. Of course, a reviewer wants to hear back from people; it’s the only reason he reviews books. Just as a librarian wants to discuss books with people who come to the library, a reviewer wants to hear what other people think of the books he reviews and what he thinks about the statements made in his reviews. It’s been that way since the beginning of time, or the beginning of organizing written words into books, anyway. But nowadays librarians just talk about who’s outside their libraries, and the only thing a reader of their books discusses is how many books he can take out at one time and whether his library card needs renewing. You don’t get to know a librarian, and you don’t even try to know a reviewer.
     A reviewer isn’t someone who’s employed, you know, he’s someone who’s doing something. He must like what he’s doing, because he doesn’t earn living wages by doing it. He likes books, or at any rate is interested in them.
     I have chosen to review books that are far out, and of course these are easy to find among science fiction and fantasy books. But I’ve gone after the farthest out of the science fiction and fantasy books that are currently being published, and the reason is, just as science fiction parallels the 20th century, and just as science itself has really gotten going during that century, more than it ever has before, far out literature runs more parallel to modern events than anything else. And why is everything moving so fast these days? It just is, that’s all. Also, why is everything so far out? Well, one must assume that it’s been far IN for so long that it’s come to pass that everyone’s trying to get out of being far in, and they get compensatorially far out rather than just a little ways out. Besides, anything looks far away from what’s been the same for centuries, which is a culture that engulfs anything that’s new and shortly makes it old. There is a strain in the far out to keep being new that often makes it meaningless, so that there will be nothing for old-time thinkers to hold onto.
     But that gets the far-out person into a situation of being, like, alienated and estranged and disaffiliated with the culture in which he exists as a whole. When he goes for something new, he leaves his basis behind and is left holding meaningless materials of his own working and devising. Can he even relate to another far-out person? They try, but they seem to bounce off one another. They would have to evolve new meanings on which they could agree, and a meaning has a material basis which they might find unlocatable after their “trip”. 
     Zen might have this beat, as they regard nothingness as ideal, but it is not perhaps socially ideal so there remains that problem, if they choose to regard such a problem as existing.
     This has been a discussion of the meaning of “spaced out” and I have no books to review this time. I’m more in the mood for considering books themselves rather than for reviewing any specific book or books. Personally, I think spaced out has reached the limits of its capabilities and there won’t be any more books that will be other than repetitious in the area of the spaced out. This was almost true when I began reviewing them, but I was ferreting out books containing the new concepts that have had significance for people, and if I moved with any literature further it would be evaluative literature. My own partiality for what’s to come next would be a creative literature of more readability than these books have been having—the predicted renaissance which comes with cyclical things.
     Entertaining writing would do just fine. Those who say they have been entertained by the recent sf literature are being cynical, or, if not that, then perhaps diabolical. I would hold for writing that makes people feel happier, and not artificially. Can any write such stories?

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