Books: Friday Roundup

This week was a lot of things -- hot, cold, rainy, dry and very, very busy, which is probably the reason why I couldn't get any reading done. There's just too much going on, man.
Anyway, I did manage to get a few stories under my belt, including the first entry in this week's Friday Roundup, which isn’t even remotely Sci-fi, but was enjoyable.

Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe - Oddly enough it was none other than Tracy Morgan who inspired me to read this book. In a Season One episode of NBC's 30 Rock, Tracy, referred to as "Tracy Jordan" on the show, called "Toofer," one of the show's black writers, an "Uncle Tom" during a heated debate about race. Toofer, in typical Harvard fashion, responds, "You can't say that unless you've read the book!" A remark Tracy naturally brushes off with a scoff and a dismissive wave of his hands. (The two eventually reconcile and write their own skit about race, but the sketch gets cut when Tracy decides to perform a slapstick routine about Star Jones.)
I'd never read Uncle Tom's Cabin, but I was familiar with the Uncle Tom stereotype of the "submissive black," which as it happens developed thanks to some misguided vaudeville interpretations of Stowe's famous work.
Reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, it is readily apparent Uncle Tom is no such submissive black, in fact he's the hero of the work who ultimately ends up being the character responsible for the liberation of dozens of slaves.
I'll leave the "hows" and "whys" behind that up to you. Stowe's work is a long one, but more than 150 years after its initial publication it still holds up and essential reading if you are interested in the literary history of the American Civil War.

"A Song Before Sunset," David Grigg. Wastelands, ed. John Joseph Adams - The first story Grigg ever published, "A Song Before Sunset" chronicles the adventures of a post-apocalyptic pianist struggling with the irony of being a performer without a civilization to listen.

"Episode Seven: Last Stand Against the Pack in the Kingdom of the Purple Flowers," by John Langan. Wastelands, ed. John Joseph Adams - Langan's work concludes the Wastelands anthology and forms an optimistic counterpoint to the downcast tone featured in Dale Bailey's "The End of the World as We Know It," which Langan cited as a huge influence. “Episode Seven” follows the tribulations of a young couple seeking escape from a pack of mutated animals after a deadly virus wiped out their entire city.

That will do it for this week's Friday Roundup. As always, I'm constantly on the lookout for suggestions and new material. If you would like your story to be reviewed and/or featured in the Friday Roundup feel free to contact me.

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