Last year, I came across information that writer Mike Resnick was sick, but people get sick all the time, and then they get better… except for when it’s the sickness which gets the better of them as it was in his case.
To be honest, I didn’t know Mike Resnick as a person. I didn’t even know him as a writer. But I did know his books, so when the news of his recent death reached me, I immediately thought of his works. I don’t have those fancy memories of meeting him in person, but I have all the memories of reading his books and how formative some of them became. So today, to honor his memory and let him live on within his words and worlds, I’m sharing the ones I liked the most with you. Who knows, maybe you’ll feel tempted to pick one up?
First meeting – Penelope Bailey series
I must have been around 14 or 15 year old when I first came across Mike Resnick’s books. I was already taking my first steps within fantasy realms, but tended to eye science fiction suspiciously. I tried to read books in that genre, but the recommended ones—works of an acclaimed Polish writer—discouraged me from looking for more.
But then, there I was… My good friend who was embarking on the speculative fiction journey at the same time, pressed a copy of Soothsayer in my hand. I didn’t expect to like it, but the far out space with a wild west feel grew on me… especially that it wasn’t an adventure of a scientist or a pilot I couldn’t relate to. This was a story of a little girl and the woman who was determined to protect her.
Of course, I wasn’t prepared for the emotional impact the series had, much deeper and insightful than a teenager like me expected. Back then, I read 5 books a read on average, devouring one after another, and many of them faded away from my memory. Penelope Bailey’s story stayed with me, even if details got blurry, for over 25 years.
The eternal love – A Miracle of Rare Design
The cover of the book’s Polish edition was not appealing, but it was discounted and it had a name on the cover I recognized. Also, the translated title, “Misty Horizon” sounded every bit appealing. I bought it, and once more, I was in for a surprise.
This book was about meeting other cultures and our—not always successful—attempts to understand them, but also about finding one’s place in a world. This was a powerful theme for someone in her teenage years who was struggling with a thought she didn’t belong.
It was in this book that I came across an illuminating quote.
“I supposed some people are destined to not belong, wherever they are.”
To think that I was such a person, one simply destined to not belong, lifted a huge burden of my heart back then. Of course, over the years, I found many places and groups I belonged to one way or another, but the quote stayed with me as a reminder that… I didn’t have to. That I didn’t have to belong.
Never before that and never after that I’ve written in a novel, but that once I took a silver pen and carefully underlined the whole paragraph. (I did feel like a savage, though!) It also traveled with me as I moved, from Poland to Ireland, and from Ireland to the United States.
Five years ago, I decided to re-read the book. I couldn’t help being concerned whether it would live up to my youth’s memory, but even though the writing might have felt out of date in comparison to more contemporary books, the story struck me as strongly as it did in my teens.
The thoughtful read – Kirinyaga
Many of my friends recommended this book as the best of Mike Resnick’s works. And perhaps it is, but by the time I read it, I was already in love with another one. I did like Kirinyaga for its melancholic and thoughtful tone, but in the end, I can’t recall it well. Perhaps, it is time for a re-read, and the serious tone of the book would probably fit the solemn occasion. Perhaps the shadow of his passing will overwhelm his words, but to read them again means letting them live on, ensuring the memories remain strong.
Have you read any of his books? Which one is your favorite?