From the diary: “May 25, 1982
“Merit Book Center is closing forever. I probably made my last purchase at Merit, The Many Colored Land, a science fiction book. 20% off. I’m really sort of sad about it. There goes the best selection of magazines and paperbacks in Sebastopol. The economy and their absentee landlord raising the rent … combined to close the shop which has been open for nine years. We’ve been going to Merit almost every week ever since we moved to Sebastopol. I wish they could stay open.”
I bought a sympathy card and gave it to the woman behind the counter. I’d always been a bit afraid of her, especially since a few years earlier I’d special-ordered an Oz book from Merit and before it arrived found the same book in the other local bookstore (and for 45 cents less, the newest printing having seen a price increase – when the book cost $1.50, an additional 45 cents was a hefty increase). Naturally the woman at Merit was miffed. I remember crying while my mother talked to her.
When the woman behind the counter opened the sympathy card she laughed. She called over the man who worked there, too. And he got a good chuckle. I was, of course, all embarassed and everything.
The Many Colored Land is a science fiction novel by Julian May. It’s the first of a trilogy. I later bought the second book, The Nonborn King, but I don’t think I ever got the third. The book columnist for Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine was ga-ga over Julian May. That guy read a lot of books. He oughta know what’s good. I wasn’t so thrilled with Land. What sticks with me most vividly was a herd animal that migrated great distances across the planet’s single continent, plagued the entire way by a vexing parasitic fly.
These days I won’t start a trilogy until all three books have been published, just in case I like the first one and want to finish the darn story.
Update: In comments D says, "Funny, that bit about the parasitic fly - I thought that was in the Helliconia Trilogy." If this is true (and I do remember working my way through the Helliconia books) then I remember nothing about The Many Colored Land. This would be why I later started the booklog. A few notes really do help one's recall. A mere title isn't enough mnemonic.