Wednesday 11 September 2013

The Scotsman Abroad | Summiting Mount Mind Meld

A little while ago, I received an email from the esteemed Paul Weimer, wondering whether I'd be interested in participating in the latest Mind Meld he was putting together. It was an absolute honour to be asked, so of course I agreed immediately.

But what with everything else that's been going on in my neck of the woods in recent weeks, this past weekend was the first opportunity I had to work on my response, and as it happens, I had just caught a cold from the wicked children I tutor when I'm not silly busy reviewing books.

Determined not to disappoint, I managed to put a piece together in any event, and though I hardly remember writing it, seeing it on the Hugo Award-winning SF Signal this morning — alongside responses from Cheryl Morgan, Ian Sales, Anne Lyle, Lou Anders and a goodly number of others — I'm really rather pleased with how my first contribution to the Mind Meld turned out. It's as much a reflection on how I approach Mount To-be-read today as it is an accounting of the books that are in my bedside cabinet at the moment:
I warrant we all have our own ways of describing the groups of books we mean to read. Mount To-be-read works for me, but mostly because it suggests something more; something I can’t help but correlate with all the climbing I did as a kid. 
Maybe climbing isn’t the right way to describe the year-round hobby my dad and I had. Hillwalking was what we were about. Come rain or shine, sun or snow, my Munro Bagger of a father always had some summit in mind. 
Many climbs I quite liked. But there were others. Bog-ridden slogs. Hills that went on and on and on, only to end in anti-climax: a beautiful view obscured by overcast clouds, or a chance meeting with other people — and up there in the middle of nowhere, that tended to cheapen the experience. 
Part of the problem was that my dad was far fitter than I. Matter of fact, he still is — as evidenced by the last hill we walked. That is to say, we climb together to this day, though rather less often now than then. Then, I hardly had a lot of choice in the matter... thus there were times when I hated the hills. I hated how hard they were, how fleeting the feeling of overcoming one when the next was only ever a weekend away. 
Sound familiar?
I may repost my response in full here on The Speculative Scotsman at a later date, but a large part of the pleasure of the Mind Mend, for me at least — and I've been following the feature for years — is seeing how differently every participant responds to the selfsame question; how one response reflects and refracts the others around it.

So please, head on over to SF Signal and read today's most excellent Mind Meld in its entirety.

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