Monday, August 08, 2011

RIP William Sleator

The Sunday New York Times ran an obituary for William Sleator, the young-adult fantasy/sci-fi writer behind Interstellar Pig and other books. We shared a light, rambling reminiscence about his books once already in this space. I'll take the time to amplify my esteem for Interstellar Pig, which beyond its excellent title is a childhood book I remember remarkably well, owing to its magnificently shaped plot and enjoyably creepy atmospherics. There's so much for the young, nerdy reader to enjoy: competition among aliens invaders! Role-playing board games! Mystery solving! Sentient lichen! I want to say I read it first at age 8 (which seems early, if I've gotten that right), and then later around age 14 or so (definitely later than the reading level), and it more than stood up both times. I still love how the hunt-and-chase plot morphs into a pretty high-concept reveal at the end, and how Sleator develops the inscrutable character of the titular Pig itself. I'm simultaneously disappointed and relieved that the story hasn't been relaunched as a 3D movie yet.

Obituaries like this always make you realize how much of a person's life you didn't know anything about, and given the description of Sleator's alcoholism (plus an early death, at 66) there are surely some dark spaces there. The obit's mention of the title of his autobiographical kids' book, Oddballs, reminds me that I read that too, somewhere around the age of 12. His books definitely clicked naturally into place in our mid-childhood reading habits.


Blogger nate said...

RIP indeed. I think I read Interstellar Pig a little bit later than you did the first time, maybe around age 10, though it's hard to remember exactly. At any rate, in retrospect, I feel like it's one of the children's books I liked that I actually read when it was completely age-appropriate, which I'm happy for. I remember really liking Oddballs as well.

8/09/2011 5:11 PM  
Anonymous Dad said...

Well, I first read ISP when I was in my 60's. Found a copy on Mike's bookshelf--though probably not the physical entity you all read; it was the 8th printing of a 1995 edition.

Wildly age inappropriate; still fun.

8/13/2011 8:11 AM  

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