Curt is reading a lot of science fiction, because he grew up on it. His mother was in the science-fiction-book-of-the-month-club, so he grew up on the classics--Burroughs, Verne, Asimov, Bradbury, etc.. After he had read a book, his mother would make a pot of tea, and they'd sit down and talk about it.
"What was it about?" his mother would ask. At first, he would start in on the plot, but she'd say, "No, what was it really about?" and they'd talk about ideas, and character motivations, and the real stuff of life, as handled in science fiction, which can go anywhere. Go anywhere they did, in these conversations! So he understood science fiction and fantasy not as escape-from-life reading, not as diversion or entertainment, but as deep immersion in the true stuff of life.
"She got me through my master's degree," said Curt. "I never took a formal course in literary analysis in college. Because of these conversations, I just knew how to read literature."
Yay! (This reminds me of the Great Books Chicago event I told you about in here, with regular people from all walks of life gathering to talk about readings in common, and, indeed, the Great Books Foundation's Great Conversations series of anthologies.)
So now Curt enjoys the "alternative histories" and "future histories" of writers like Bruce Sterling and Connie Willis. (And I know Rebecca will agree about Connie Willis, whose books keep "following [Rebecca] home" from the library!)
Curt recently enjoyed To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, its title taking a phrase from Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome (a book that Julie keeps telling me about). So much to read, so much to read! According to Curt, Willis writes regularly about "serious time travel as an academic pursuit" and this book involves rebuilding Coventry Cathedral, and therefore time-travel visits to Victorian England, medieval times, and World War II, to say nothing of the future.