So “Star Trek” is crazy real.
I checked out one of those e-readers today, more a tablet PC than anything, and while holding it, I do feel like I’m standing on the bridge of Deep Space Nine, hanging out at Quark’s Bar while Dr Bashir and Chief O’Brien knock back a few cold ones next to me.
Frankly, folks, I’m underwhelmed.
I admit, there is versatility to such a device, portability and whatnot, being able to take it pretty much anywhere, hold an entire library of books and more inside it and so on…
I get no thrill from it whatsoever. Reading on the device is obtuse, the words never flowing appropriately and appealingly to the eyes, instead appearing as a large chunk of text on a blindingly white background. Elegant prose and circuitous poetry, beautiful works of literature are reduced to a jumbled mish-mosh of letters on a screen.
In honor of HP Lovecraft’s birthday yesterday, I gave one of his most famous (or infamous, depending on whom you talk with) works a try: the seminal classic The Call of Cthulhu. Aside from the late Weird Tales author’s birthday, it was also free, which is an added bonus (having worked retail for the last four years, I can definitively say that people love free shit).
I love Lovecraft’s work. I love the fact that a tale is told from the point of view of a hunted, terrified out of his mind man, who finds time to write down not only his immediate thoughts of the situation, but meandering ideas and odd asides… All while some people (or things, what have you) are beating down his door, itching to tear him apart. His stuff is the most bizarre of bizarre, and the tales are gripping and spectacular, the imagery inspired by the prose filled with some of the most terrifying creatures in existence.
(Need proof of the terror? Head to your local aquarium and check out the squid and octopus tanks at NIGHT. Staaaaaare at those fuckers for a few hours. You’ll see.)
But on the e-reader/tablet/PADD, the rollercoaster writing that I love so dear looks like the writings of the Mad Arab, Abdul Al-Hazred himself: jumbled, scrawled, chicken-scratches. The words are there, but there isn’t a lick of sense and continuity, everything crammed together into a block of nonsensical text.
…then again, since this is Lovecraft we are talking about, this may be apropos.
What does this all boil down to?
I can’t stand e-readers or tablets.
I’m a bibliophile. I love books, always have, always will. Everywhere I go, I carry a book, be it a paperback or hardback. (I’m currently reading “The Damned Highway” by Brian Keene, a curious mix of Lovecraft and Hunter S. Thompson; and it works!) Books have a brilliant tactile sensation: the texture of the pages, the scent, the crackle of the spine in your ears, the weight of the tome in your hands, the words coming alive as your eyes absorb each letter and syllable…
God, I love it.
With the tablet… There’s no magic. It’s always the same weight, never a difference in the text, the same font, words on a screen. There’s a barrier. An impenetrable force keeping you from enjoying your text.
Now, this isn’t the same for everyone. Some folk really dig the Nook, Kindle, iPad, GalaxyTab, what have you. And I appreciate that, because people are advancing and tech is getting cooler.
And who knows? Someday, I might be at Quark’s, bullshitting with O’Brien and Bashir, everyone in the bar cheering out “WORF!!!” as the Klingon walks in the room…
But I’ll be the only man in the joint with an actual book.