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Old 02-14-2010, 12:37 AM   #1
David Marseilles
Leap & a net will appear.
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Lightbulb Diamonds in the Rough

I've always had some trouble sleeping. One of many little things I do to cope is a little reading just before bed to tire my eyes. For these purposes, I always keep some light fiction around. Nothing too good or too serious, and certainly nothing too thought provoking, the last thing I need just before bed is to stir up a thought storm. Formulaic franchises are great for this sort of reading. As a science fiction fan, Star Trek and Star Wars are two common sources of my night reading.

This thread is about accidentally coming across the exceptional in unexpected places. Some stories don't realize they aren't supposed to be good, and they end up getting told in unexpected places. Some authors start writing well before they have their own platform and have made their name.

My contribution is A Stitch in Time by Andrew Robinson. A book from the world of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it deals little with the world seen on the TV series -- which frees it from a lot of restrictions that such books normally have, not only is it not too tightly tied to its franchise, it isn't especially tied to its genre. It's basically an autobiography of one of the more interesting secondary recurring characters, written by the actor who played him. The "what books do you reread" thread brought it to mind, but it seemed crass to put this down alongside Conan Doyle and Tolkien. Yet my copy of this book sits on my top display shelf alongside Atlas Shrugged, The Scarlet Letter and my Complete Edgar Allen Poe (and The Little Engine That Could ). I suspected others here have managed to pluck a few diamonds from the rough.

It's an origin story for a man who grew up surrounded by lies and developed an interesting relationship with the truth. Though raised by a gardener, he was plucked away from the specter of lower service ranks as a boy by his mother's employer and given a spot at a prestigious institute that would be training tomorrow's spies.

It's fully character-driven, and its characters are virtually all multi-dimensional (in case you were wondering why Avatar didn't have any of those -- apparently A Stitch in Time took more than its fair share and there were none left). The story is well thought out and weaves together much like what it purports to be -- reflections of the main character on how he went from being a breath away from becoming one of the most powerful men on his planet to being a tailor in exile who couldn't find his way home until his home was decimated. He looks back and examines love and friendship, fealty and filial piety; and betrayal, lots of betrayal.

Your turn. Ever picked up something the seemed to dwarf its franchise, or genre, or in some other way was a book you really couldn't judge by its cover? Something that lacked that little bit of surface polish and just didn't manage to advertise its quality very widely?
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