Friday, January 09, 2009

Keep on trucking

(Or, Kolchak gets into shape by jumping to conclusions.)

I’m not a truck driver—and I’m sure that comes as a big surprise to everyone—but I drive the interstates often enough to have noticed a few changes in truck stops.

One change I’ve noticed is that there aren’t as many truck stops as there used to be. Now, you’re more likely to find a travel center or a travel stop than a truck stop. I’m not sure what the new nomenclature accomplishes, if anything. Maybe the owners are just trying to make their places more attractive to non-truckers.

Another change seems to be taking place on the paperback rack. You can find a lot of westerns and war stories at truck stops—sorry, travel centers—but I don’t think that’s new. What may be new is the number of science fiction and fantasy novels you can find. There seems to be a focus on series books, rather than individual novels : Star Trek novels in sf and series like Forbidden Realms and Warhammer in fantasy.

Over at the audiobook rack, things are changing too. On my most recent trips, I’ve been looking at a series of CDs that are described as full-cast dramatizations and “Movies for your mind.” This series features adaptations of prose stories featuring DC super heroes and post-holocaust action stories.

I’ve seen four different series in the latter category: Death Lands; Outlanders; The Survivalist and Doomsday Warrior. I know the first two are active series, but I’m pretty sure The Survivalist is out-of-print and I think Doomsday Warrior is too.

In an ultimate sense, you could call the emphasis on pulp-style characters depressing, but, personally, I have a very simple rule-of-thumb here: reading for pleasure is better than not reading for pleasure. And the same thing holds with listening for pleasure.

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