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Annex

August 5, 2018

IMG_1753I read Annex, by Rich Larson, a science fiction author who Eleanor knows in real life, on the plane on my way back from Colorado. It was a book with an exciting plot; a good way to conclude an exciting few days.

While I was in Colorado visiting my friend Miriam and her family, we saw most of the first three scenes of Macbeth in a tent at Rock Ledge Ranch, next to Garden of the Gods, but the show could not go on after a thunderstorm swept through. The storm provided great atmosphere for the witches’ scenes, and it was the only time I’ve ever seen Macbeth’s line “so foul and fair a day I have not seen” get such a big laugh.

This is the second time Miriam and I have been at an outdoor Shakespeare performance when the show could not go on. The first time was in Maryland when we were watching a group called “Shakespeare on Wheels” that performed on the back of a truck. One of the actors fell off of the back of the truck and was injured, so the performance was canceled.

IMG_1735There were other thunderstorms passing through during the four days I was in Colorado, but none as big as that first one during the Scottish Play. Miriam and I watched a recording of it coming in over Pikes Peak while we were at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center later in the week, and it was impressively turbulent. We stopped by the Visitor Center on the way to her house; she drives by this view of Garden of the Gods at least once a day.

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Other events of the trip: I walked through the “central garden” part of Garden of the Gods, where the paths are paved, and drove up Pikes Peak to Glen Cove, where we got on a shuttle bus that took us the rest of the way to the top. I rode a little narrow gauge steam train around gold mining territory in Cripple Creek. We walked through downtown Colorado Springs and admired the public art. We walked around Manitou Springs and tried the water from the different springs. IMG_1764We also saw this Little Free Library there, painted to look like a Tardis.

IMG_1836Miriam and her two sons and I went to Maggie’s Farm in Manitou Springs and bought some (legal) edible marijuana gummies, and three of the four of us tried them. (Believe me when I say that the effect of edible weed is slow but strong; don’t make the mistake we did and try a second one if you’re still not feeling the effects of the first after an hour or two.)

The beginning of Annex throws readers headfirst into a world that might seem at first like a drug dream. There’s an alien ship hovering over a city on Earth. Adults are all “wasters” who repeat actions that used to be necessary in a world where they’re no longer necessary. Children up to the age of about sixteen are warehoused and given drugged water and a “parasite” inserted through their belly buttons. The action begins when one of the children, Bo, escapes from a warehouse. In a moment of Thief Lord fanfiction, Bo finds Violet and a small community of other runaway children living in an abandoned movie theater. In homage to Peter Pan, they call themselves the Lost Boys.

There’s nothing derivative about the plot of Annex, however. The children learn how to fight the aliens and it seems that they save the day for more than just earth itself. There are some nice bits of characterization along the way and a really inventive alien called Gloom who identifies in an unexpected way with the human character called Violet.

IMG_1773Earth is a very big place, as Eleanor and her friends from Grinnell, who flew different directions around the planet to meet in India, recently discovered. It’s good to be able to travel and expand your idea of what humans are like.

This is me, perched on the edge of a rock ledge at the top of Pikes Peak, taken by Miriam’s husband Al, a human who has, in the past, done some running and bicycle riding at the very top of this mountain that steals the breath from many people and makes them need to sit down.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2018 12:57 pm

    Outdoor theatre is always fraught with danger. I once saw a performance of ‘West Side Story’ where Maria had to try and convince us all that she really did feel pretty in the middle of a tremendous downpour that left her looking like the proverbial drowned rat. They had to cancel as well.

    • August 6, 2018 4:12 pm

      That is a great story!
      What was surprising about this performance of Shakespeare in a tent being canceled is that the tent was so substantial that they had lights hanging and a large wooden set and stage, and since the tent had sides, none of the audience members got wet. It must have been that the actors were wading through some wet parts backstage.

      • August 6, 2018 4:16 pm

        Just goes to show that you can’t plan for the unexpected. The performance of West Side Story was on an island in the middle of a lake, so there was water everywhere!

  2. August 6, 2018 10:01 pm

    It sounds like a very cool trip and I am delighted to hear good things about Rich Larson’s book! Since starting to read short stories, I’ve discovered more than one to love by him — and only in an eight-month span of reading short fiction! It is just my very good fortune that he happens to be releasing a novel right when I start being interested in him. 😀

    • August 7, 2018 8:42 am

      Rich Larson has been to ICFA with us a few times. My favorite of the stories I’ve read by him is All That Robot Shit.

  3. August 7, 2018 3:35 pm

    Lovely pictures and your trip sounds wonderful. I’ve never been the “the West,” just Portland and the Oregon coast. Something to plan for. I can see how someone could get in real trouble with those gummies!

    • August 9, 2018 11:59 am

      This time I was mostly there to see my friends and a little sightseeing was crammed in around the edges (this was possible because I’d been there before with the whole family, when my kids were young). If you do plan a trip to Colorado Springs, you’d want to see Cave of the Winds and Royal Gorge, in addition to Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods (maybe Cripple Creek if you like to drive across mountains and your kid likes steam trains like Thomas the Tank Engine). Boy do I recommend starting early in the morning, though. Things get crowded in the summer.

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