Do we think about history, social mores and pressures, themes, or the moral of the story when we read a book? Possibly not, but these are some of the driving forces behind the writing of a story and what makes a story interesting enough to read or listen to. What is the difference between a story that the average populace puts down, never to be read again, after the first few pages to a chapter and a story that the average populace reads from cover to cover without much thought to eating, sleeping, or taking necessary breaks? A story that was extremely popular a hundred years ago might not be more than an interesting blast from the past if read today.

Stories that continue to be relevant regardless of the timeframe discuss themes that affect people regardless of the era. Popular topics that continue as interesting beyond their era of origin include family and family ties, survival (farming, ranching, wilderness, etc.),  and striving against stacked odds.  These topics are interesting, because people relate to them regardless of when they occurred or will occur (Fantasy & Sci-Fi).

One of my favorite stories highlights a number of these topics (family and family ties, survival, and striving against stacked odds) and was written by Alan Dean Foster. Flinx had no memory, no family, and no records of his history. The Adventures of Pip and Flinx takes this child from boyhood to man on a quest to find his place and his identity. The story is rife with surprises and displays characters of depth and passion. Some of these characters are good people with integrity and others are hate-filled and bigoted.

These stories include scenes with violence and death. If you are a young person still living with your parents, you should ask them to review these stories, before reading them. Why do I recommend these stories, even for young impressionable people? Because life is filled with good and bad people. We should be thankful for the good people and prepared to defend ourselves from those who are not. If children are not exposed to thoughts of terrible situations and the notion that considering possible methods of dealing with them, when they are young, they will not have the versatility of mind or the fortitude required to deal with them. These stories are also very well written, with characters who have personality and who show care for more than self interest.

I used to hate writing book reports, primarily because I did not see a point to writing something that no one but a single teacher would ever see. Yet I have come to believe strongly in the power of words and the value of presenting a differing viewpoint. So many voices out there advocate an ideology that I find to be anti-survival, that I have to wonder about their priorities and purpose. It also distresses me that children taught to not defend themselves, eventually and logically snap. No, this result is not acceptable, just inevitable. You cannot teach a child to submit to eternal torment, without expecting them to eventually lose it. Bullies pick on VICTIMS. More on this topic in Bullies and Other Abusers.

So, aside from that side-jaunt, I plan to recommend reading material (stories) that I truly enjoy and provide book reports that cover, not only the basic theme of the story, but also the moral or ethical value of the story (which often ends up being multiple morals per story).

The Adventures of Pip & Flinx stories by Alan Dean Foster, in order are:

  • For Love of Mother Not

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  • The Tar-Aiym Krang
  • The Orphan Star
  • The End of the Matter
  • Flinx in Flux
  • Mid Flinx
  • Reunion
  • Flinx’s Folly
  • Sliding Scales
  • Running from the Deity
  • Bloodhype
  • Trouble Magnet
  • Patrimony
  • Flinx Transcendent