Summer 6s - with Franklin Jones and Post-Echo

Summer 6

It’s summer in the city and sometimes during this time of year we find ourselves with the weird sensation of (gasp!) free time on our hands.  Rather than letting this phenomenon catch you unawares on some stray Saturday afternoon, Jasper has you covered with our summertime series alliteratively called the Summer Sixes in which we ask members of the Columbia arts community to share their favorite top 6 films, reads, albums, or TV series binges.  We’ll be bringing you this throughout the summer so pay attention to What Jasper Said to learn more about what your friends and neighbors like to do with their spare time, and maybe get some ideas of what to do with yours.

If you know the folks over at Post-Echo at all, it won't surprise you that they took a strange and unexpected tact when we requested a Summer 7 list from them. Franklin Jones compiled his six favorite abandoned places in the Midlands, many of which are featured in the collective's films Passage and their latest, Tyler Digital visual album Exit 8.


‘Tis the season for exploration. So resolve your deepest abandonment issues and hit the road this summer in search of these six nearby abandoned places. In the spirit of proximity, I have not included any sites further than sixty miles away; the endless array of ruinous coastal eye candy will have to wait for a separate list. Also, please remember to be careful. Just because somewhere is abandoned, does not mean you are alone.

  1. Lone Star, SC


Once a bustling community during the heyday of the now-defunct Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, the ghost town of Lone Star has been dormant for quite awhile. The remnants of its downtown area, however, feature four gorgeously dilapidated buildings: a general store, a post office, a freight depot, and what appears to have been an old hotel. Coincidentally, the railroad line (owned by CSX Transporation since 1986) still passes through Lone Star on occasion. Side note: be careful trying to access any of the structures as the wasp nests are plentiful.

  1. Olar, SC


While not quite a ghost town, Olar’s population is 212 and plummeting at the rate of 10% per decade- so, just be patient. A haven of forgotten banks, service stations, and general stores, Olar was once a popular whistle-stop on the Seaboard Air Line Railway (aka Route of Courteous Service, also the rival to Lone Star’s Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, got all that?). Unlike Lone Star, an uneasy sense of failure and despair hangs over the dregs of Olar. This hasn’t been a quick death.

  1. Chem Trails - Columbia, SC


The Intertape Polymer Group officially pulled up stakes several years ago, moving their packaging plant from the South Beltline location (where it had resided for over 50 years) to a state-of-the-art facility in Blythewood. What was left in the wake of this mass exodus amounts to nothing short of an apocalyptic nightmare. A decrepit maze of soul-sucking office corridors, hastily evacuated laboratories and cavernous testing facilities, all somewhere in the process of being reclaimed by outside vegetation. Even after years of corrosive decay, most of the workstations and cubicles are still intact - in addition to post-it reminders and lab notes, you can also find styrofoam to-go food boxes inside the break room fridge. There’s a little something for everyone here.

  1. The Wreck Center - Kershaw, SC


Formerly Flat Creek Park, you can find this sprawling behemoth just off Kershaw Highway en route to Forty Acre Rock. Details are scarce (or at least hard for me to find) on what exactly happened to this former parks & rec facility, but the sheer scope of abandonment on display is staggering. Comprised of a gymnasium, an arts/crafts building, two baseball fields, and what appears to be a dungeon of some kind, all scattered across a quarter mile of high grass and cacti (yes, cacti), there’s a lot to experience here so be sure to pack a lunch.

  1. The Locker Room - Hopkins (maybe?), SC


Also affectionately known as the Circuit Cell in tribute to its rusty exposed wiring, The Locker Room lurks just off Highway 378 next to a formerly abandoned gas station and a now-abandoned Hot Sub Shop (which itself was formerly a Subway). A short-lived bar and grill that met a fiery end, nearby locals have provided me with conflicting information over the years on just what happened to the Locker Room. With stories ranging from arson to the aforementioned faulty wiring, the origins of the inferno remain a mystery. As it stands now, the Locker Room is an immense husk of grimey, moss-laden concrete, its interior scattered with remnants that survived the blaze. You can actually still access this structure through the front door - but, to fully experience the Locker Room in all its opulent decay, I recommend entering via the gaping cinder block hole located at the back of the building.

  1. The Ruins - Columbia, SC


The full breadth of The Ruins is difficult to quantify. Tucked away deep off Bluff Road and surrounded by swamps and farmland, this monolithic structure operated as an Eisenhower-era seed repository before heightened industrialization rendered it obsolete. In the years since, the roofless concrete framework has developed a dense canopy of foliage, currently teeming with wildlife. Additionally, the architectural design of the structure has allowed each of its five compartments to accommodate individualized ecosystems, each different than the last. This is a very special place.

Honorable Mention: The Dead Pool - Columbia, SC


This one really flies under the radar. Located behind Columbia’s historic 701 Whaley building are the crumbling remnants of an indoor pool and gymnasium, approximately sixty years old. The gym was briefly re-purposed as a machine shop before being abandoned several years ago when renovations were announced. However, the real gem to discover is the adjacent pool structure. Truly something to behold, the Dead Pool is anything but lifeless- as a collapsed roof has yielded the necessary conditions for an assortment of plant life to thrive unabated, slowly consuming the interior of the tile structure.

Greg Slatery's Summer 6 TV Binges w/ a note from Cindi

Jasper is not impressed by folks who say, "I don't watch TV," or "I don't even own a television," because usually we're distracted by the nose hairs they're waving at us as they regard us from above, and because anyone who gives a flip flop about art knows that we are living in the age of great television. Some of the most transgressive, provocative, insightful writing and some of the most poignant, multidimensional acting the airwaves (forgive our archaic idiom) have ever seen is happening now. And with alt sources like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, Crackle, Twitch, and Sling, cordcutters don't even have to own a dreaded television in order to partake of rich, mind-expanding culture.

I won't indulge in an essay about my 6 favorite TV retrospective binges (Six Feet Under, West Wing/Sports Night/Studio 60 (love me some Sorkin), Northern Exposure, Breaking Bad, The Riches, Hamish McBeth), but Stereofly's Greg Slattery put together a thoughtful list of surprises that makes me want to take another look at my choices the next time I hunker down with a pile of cats and some Ben & Jerry's Coffee, Coffee, Buzz, Buzz, Buzz for a little me-expanding-my-mind time.

Here are Greg's top 6 TV Series indulgences for those hellacious summer afternoons in the Soda City when you've got nothing but AC and a remote control in your sites. - Cindi


spawn pete

Adventures of Pete & Pete

While pegged as a children's show, Nickelodeon's Adventures of Pete & Pete holds up over time, offering the same joy to show veterans while still maintaining a level of quirky genius to appeal to those who missed out on the show when it first broadcast. Big Pete's voice of reason collides with his younger brother Pete's resistance to both authority and the mainstream, offering hilarious and relatable tales of growing up. You can pick up the first two seasons on DVD and online, but the third season has yet to be officially released...but the mighty power of YouTube has all three seasons available if you can put up with some video quality issues (it's worth it).

spawn showme

Show Me A Hero

This HBO mini-series is based on the non-fiction book by Lisa Belkin, following former police officer Nick Wasicsko as he runs for mayor of Yonkers, NY, in 1987 and the effect of a federal mandate to scatter public housing among the white middle-class neighborhoods in the city. If you are a fan of the work David Simon and William F. Zorzi have done together on The Wire and Treme, their six part mini-series holds the same investigative flame they're known for to both race and wealth.

spawn other

Other Space

Paul Feig, most loved (by me) for his role in Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, produced a science-fiction original series for Yahoo! last year called Other Space that never got much attention and was canceled when Yahoo! axed its on-demand streaming service division. The series follows a highly inexperienced crew who accidentally get launched into space with no clear vision on how to return. Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans may notice creator Joel Hodgson starring as the ship's mechanic and his robot sidekick A.R.T. sharing the voice of Crow T. Robot. The only stars in the series are the ones outside the ship, but Feig's direction provides a goofy science-fiction series for those looking for a less technical trip through space. A Yahoo! search for Other Space will pull up the only season, but according to Feig a second season will come even if he has to shoot it on his iPhone.

spawn dare

Marvel's Daredevil

If you've missed this Netflix exclusive, you have two incredible seasons for binge watching. Following the story of a blind lawyer with superhuman powers, Matt Murdock (a.k.a. Daredevil) takes to the streets to clean up the mess the justice system leaves to leave unscathed. This is one of the greatest comic book screen adaptations, using appropriately grimy scenery to set the dark tone for this action-packed superhero drama. If you felt the Daredevil film with Ben Affleck was a travesty, this series will bring you sweet relief. If you need more after two seasons of Daredevil, give Marvel's Jessica Jones a watch.

spawn wilfred


Following a failed suicide attempt, Elijah Wood's character Ryan can now hear his neighbor's dog Wilfred talk. This dark, twisted comedy explores the difficulties we all face in life with a canine serving as the voice of good and evil, though the line between the two is almost always blurred. Life lessons are common themes shrouded in pot smoking and debauchery. Though the series was ultimately canceled by FX, the crew was given enough warning to tie up loose ends for a satisfying, four season show that might be one of the stranger TV programs to date.

spawn stargate

Stargate: Universe

I highly recommend watching the 1994 film Stargate prior to the series, only because it's a great film and offers some foundation for the story. If you've seen Stargate SG-1 and weren't a fan, I understand. This is different. This is better. As a crew flees an attack on their base on a remote planet, the team's scientist dials the Stargate to the ninth chevron to avoid taking the battle to Earth. As they cross through the Stargate they find themselves aboard an abandoned spacecraft known as Destiny. If you like the 2004 reboot of Battlestar Galactica, you'll appreciate Stargate Universe's dark exploration of what makes us human.



Greg Slattery is a tireless concert promoter and editor of the zine Stereofly and one of the founders of the independent record label 10 Foot Woody Records. Slattery is also a guitarist and singer/songwriter in the rock band Shallow Palace and plays guitar and bass for a variety of other acts around town, including Brian Robert & The Hollerin' River Talkers, among others. 


Summer 6 I often joke about how I didn’t grow up with poetry in my house so I had to steal it.

If only it were a joke.

But I always had music, for better or worse, to define the world I was trying to live in or run from. Looking back, I can see how there were six bands who served as a catalyst and a touch stone for discovery that ultimately shaped me as a person and a writer, for better or worse, still living, still running. This list is no way a “best of” list or an argument for the greatest. There were many other bands, then and now, and millions of songs in between. Just six bands and my attempt to break everything I touched to see how it works on the inside. I have forgotten more than I remember.



Let me start off by saying I have no real affinity for AC/DC with Brian Johnson. Yes, Back in Black was an album I cut some teeth on, probably French-kissed a girl while it played in the background. But it was sixth grade. We were on a fishing trip in North Georgia. I went with my best friend Kevin. His brother Brian and his brother’s friend Bryan were older and much cooler than we were and Bryan played Highway to Hell on this giant boom box at the back of the camper. I was in love with the first riff. It didn’t take long to fall in love with the rest: High Voltage, Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Let There Be Rock, and Powerage. The shrill in Bon Scott’s growl oozing sex. The hard driving guitar of Angus Young running around like a madman in a school boy outfit. Malcolm Young holding steady on a kind of cool I didn’t think could be possible. The rest is periphery.

I can’t hear “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)” without thinking of the back of a camper, or the backseat of a Chevy Nova, or a pool table in a basement. There was the time I sat in the principal’s office while he questioned how I could wear an AC/DC t-shirt and a cross on a necklace around my neck. The lyrics were fresh in my mind then, as they are today:


It's animal

Livin' in the human zoo


The shit that they toss to you

Feelin' like a christian

Locked in a cage

Thrown to the lions

On the second page

-- from If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It) by AC/DC


Give me “Riff Raff,” “Love Hungery Man,” or “What’s Next to the Moon” any day. AC/DC is for transforming the awkward preteen. For getting high, for punching concrete, for the courage to fuck everything. See also: Led Zeppelin, CCR, and Black Sabbath.


-->Video: If You Want Blood (You've Got It) by AC/DC


the clash

The Clash

Stuck in rural Lexington county with nowhere to go, no prospects for a future, just single-file lines to football practice for nothing, to baseball practice for nothing, to plow or be plowed under for nothing. But then “Janie Jones” is cranking, and suddenly I’m not afraid to put my mouth where my muscle is, and push back against the man.

I’m 16, driving down dirt roads or through Main St blasting that first album as loud as an 85 Toyota standard speaker system could handle. I wore that cassette out. It broke somewhere on “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais.” Of course Give ‘Em Enough Rope and London Calling got its fair share of wear too. But not like that first album. Not like “I’m so Bored with the USA,” “Hate and War,” and “White Riot.”  I’m not sure what turned me on more, Mick Jones’ riffs or Joe Strummer’s ethos, but what I heard in that band shaped the spectrum of pretty much who I am today -- the punk aesthetic, the smooth dub, the charge of the DIY politic. I’m quite sure I misappropriated all of these things (perhaps still do), but as Joe said, “sometimes you have to be a little bit stupid.”

What The Clash taught me was simple: a) the old men in the factories want to steal away the best years of our lives, and b) “he who fucks nuns, will later join the church.”


All the power's in the hands

Of people rich enough to buy it

While we walk the street

Too chicken to even try it …


…Are you taking over

or are you taking orders?

Are you going backwards

Or are you going forwards?

-- from White Riot by The Clash


It’s hard enough to be a teenager, much less to be a teenager in a wasteland of fields and old buildings where old men get their kicks by using what little authority they had to bully down change. I wanted nothing more than a riot. A riot of my own. See also: The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, The Buzzcocks, and Wire.


-->Video: White Riot by The Clash



Hüsker Dü (and the Pixies… and Sonic Youth)

Maybe it was because I worked around chainsaws and wood chippers so much. I got to where I loved hearing noise and trying to make music out of it. I didn’t know then that I was embarking on the very practice that would make me a poet. I was just bored. Chainsaws and chippers have three distinct pitches: idle, rev, and bite. I could play some mean throttle, work the revs in succession. But bite was tricky. I was probably hard to work with.

New Day Rising by Hüsker Dü came out in in 1985, but I discovered it (and them) in 89, shortly after the Pixies Surfer Rosa and Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation came out. I would hang out at this place called the shed. Bryan and two other guys, Doug and Scot, would jam there. They were good. It was fun. And now we’re deaf. But some nights I’d come by and only Doug would be there. We’d talk about music, the punk scene of the 70’s. Doug was going to USC. At the time I didn’t know anyone who went to college. I certainly didn’t know anyone cool going to college. He had cool music and he hooked me up. This was a wonderful year of noise and occasional screaming, but I’ll be honest, I don’t remember much of it. Smoked out in the whir behind a wall of sound. I remember blasting “Terms of Psychic Warfare” in Glen’s truck on our way back to the store, towards the end of our lunch break. A memory that I just can’t let go.

And whereas Sonic Youth and the Pixies played a bit more lyrically, Hüsker Dü was straight forward with their sound. Straight up guitar, bass, and drums; sometimes I couldn’t even hear Mould singing. The sound was primal, swift, and hardcore, wrapped in a welcoming fuzz. Like two guys railing against the county on a Friday night in a burned out shack on a dirt road. Sometimes my ears still ring and I can’t remember why.

But I remember this: if you stand up in the breakroom and yell “THESE ARE THE TERMS,” no one will know what you are talking about.

I guess they couldn’t hear Mould singing either.


It's not about my politics

Something happened way too quick

Bunch of men who played it sick

They divide and conquer


It's all here before your eyes

Safety is a big disguise

That hides among the other lies

They divide and conquer

-- from Divide and Conquer by Hüsker Dü


-->Video: Divide and Conquer by Hüsker Dü




Somewhere before the late 80’s – early 90’s, I thought there was singular definition to being Southern – a truck, a pair of boots, a Billy Ray Cyrus, a Brooks and Dunn. And I raged against it. Too much. I needed something to balance it all out. I need something to expand my definition of the world. I needed less “us vs. them” and more “us.” R.E.M. did for me and more. I came late to the party. Document had just been released, and the single “The One I Love” was getting some airplay. And while everyone in my circle was railing against it, and the band for that matter, because they thought it sucked, I was listening to Murmur, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction, and Life’s Rich Pageant. I didn’t care what my friends at the time were saying. This band had poetry. It redefined (for me) what it meant to be Southern – what it meant to be us. Even well into the 90’s and into the 21st century, whether floating in a pool or singing on the porch at Tim’s house, I felt like I belonged, as if I could begin the begin again, like I was included for a reason and not by accident.

But it wasn’t just the music of R.E.M. that moved me, or the poetry of Stipe, or the inclusion and celebration and understanding of the necessity to queer the world, it was the further exploration of so many other bands musicians I had never heard of at the time: Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Velvet Underground, Gram Parsons, T. Rex, Flying Burritos, etc. Just as my musical taste blossomed, so did my understanding of the fucked up world I was living in. Through Stipe, I found a voice that walked unafraid. Through the band, I found a harmony that I didn’t think could exist. And suddenly I found myself in college no longer ashamed of where I came from, though still angry at politicians and baby boomers (that seems to never change), and perhaps most important of all, to stop trying to always make sense. To “believe in coyotes and time as an abstract” and to “explain the change, the difference between what you want and what you need” (I Believe).  Dark and light, sense and no sense, pop and folk and at times heavy, political and apolitical, queer and straight, mainstream and underground, quirky and sublime, R.E.M. is convergence. They carried that from Murmur to Collapse Into Now with a few songs here and there that should have never been cut for an album. But that is part of the brilliance. The staying power. The “holy shit I can’t believe this band is still playing and still has it” power. I am grateful to Doug for plugging me into it.


Disturbance at the Heron House

A stampede at the monument

To liberty and honor under the honor roll


Just a gathering of the grunts and greens

The cogs and grunts and hirelings

A meeting of a mean idea to hold


When feeding time has come and gone

They'll lose their heart and head for home

Try to tell us something we don't know

-- from Disturbance at the Heron House by R.E.M.


-->Video: Driver 8 by R.E.M.


 The Pogues

I wasn’t born punk. That, I grew in to as mater of necessity to minimize confusion. However, I was born Irish, and I grew up in typical Irish American, working class house with lots of God in it.  But growing up Irish in the South presents its own sense of confusion. Hell, most don’t even know they are Irish beyond their last name, and if they do, they automatically think they are Scots-Irish. Or worse, when everyone saw Braveheart and suddenly wanted to be Scottish. I remember pointing to my Irish flag license plate on my truck (I forget the context), and a guy asked me if that was the “gay flag or did I pull for the University of Miami.” Just absolute cluelessness.

Doug told me I’d like the Pogues. It came out of a conversation when we were talking about this videotape I had of England in the 70’s and the birth of the Punk Rock movement. In the video, jumping up and down in a skating rink at a Clash concert, was a young Shane MacGowan, ears and all, but most of his teeth still intact. From the moment I first heard Red Roses for Me and Rum Sodomy & the Lash and If I should Fall from the Grace of God and Hell’s Ditch (yes, I left out Peace and Love on purpose), I was in love all over again. This is Irish music (that didn’t sound anything like the Planxty and Phil Coulter my dad listened to) and punk merging together. Where the fuck-it-all and die-hard could co-exist. Where pain and misery could co-exist in celebration. Also whiskey and pints. Lots of whiskey and pints. Where the roughshod could stand up and say drink with me for the love of it, for the love of all of it. For the empty pocket. For the blisters. For the friends I had to bury (first Kevin, then Glen). For the birth of my son. For the birth of my daughters. For the divorce. For the marriage. For still having empty pockets. For everyday I’ve lived despite it all.  Fuck all. All of it. Fuck it.


I have cursed, bled and sworn

Jumped bail and landed up in jail

Life has often tried to stretch me

But the rope always was slack

And now that I've a pile

I'll go down to the Chelsea

I'll walk in on my feet

But I'll leave there on my back


I am going, I am going

Any which way the wind may be blowing

I am going, I am going

Where streams of whiskey are flowing

-- from Streams of Whiskey by The Pogues


-->Video: Waxie's Dargle by The Pogues (lo-fi quality)


See Shane MacGowan and the Popes. See Flogging Molly. See Dropkick Murphys.


 uncle tupelo

Uncle Tupelo (+ Son Volt + Wilco + Whiskeytown + Trampled by Turtles?)

The 90’s started to die somewhere around 94-95. The rest of the world has been slowly dying since. It was easier in my youth to fight against everything older and established simply because all those things seemed hell bent on ignoring who we were and where we wanted to be. Bush (#2) came to the Whitehouse, and hell followed with him. That hell we still live in today. Somewhere in the middle I had this cd called No Alternative, a mix of alternative bands that were breaking through. On that cd was Uncle Tupelo. Doug said he thought I would like them, that I can’t be angry all the time. So I unplugged, bought Anodyne. And in doing so, I found connected to the country that I was brought up to believe didn’t exist. From fields in Minnesota to the dusty heartland to the triangle of North Carolina (which might as well have been just as far), there was a connection.  Uncle Tupelo and, by extension, Son Volt and, by extension, Wilco and, by extension, Whiskeytown and, by extension, Ryan Adams and, by extension, newer bands like The Avett Brothers and (one of my new favorites) Trampled by Turtles started to shape a better narrative for me. It was narrative still fueled by the restless punk (think Uncle Tupelo’s remake of the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”) and the desperate need to speak (think “Whiskey Bottle,” “Graveyard Shift,” and “Chickamauga.” But there was a new current of inclusion for the backroad, the small town, the desolate and the matter of fact. And where R.E.M. helped me to secure and balance, these bands did too.

Influenced by the Americana of our parents, Uncle Tupelo (and the like) helped carve a space for my generation to connect and shape. Whereas I wanted to rebel against the established themes from country music (and by some extension The Grateful Dead) that didn’t seem to represent me or who I wanted to be, Uncle Tupelo (and the like) helped me to see more of the similarities than I was at first willing to admit and what I had conveniently forgotten. And it was simple. A banjo. A fiddle. A mandolin. A guitar (both acoustic and electric). Melody. Harmony. A retold story with young characters facing modern challenges. The celebration of the success and failures of those challenges and all the shakedowns in between. This became the folk movement of my generation. A movement uncorrupted by coffee houses and big orange couches in New York City. A movement free from corporate sponsorship. You could find these bands in small venues packed with college students under a cloud of smoke where everyone was, simply put, getting down. This was, and still is, a welcome escape from so much of the cookie-cutter bullshit we hear today. Thank you Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy. Thank you Ryan Adams and Caitlin Cary. Thank you boys from Minnesota.  You’ve helped make so much of my world relevant.

So much of my life I spent running from ghosts or trying to tackle them. So much of my life I spent charged and angry with what I was born with and into. And because of Uncle Tupelo (and the like) I’m not so angry as I am charged. Rather than running from those ghosts, I’m singing with them.


Appalachian, so patient

The lessons we've traveled

As soon as we're out, we're kicking our way back in


Fighting fire with unlit matches

From our respective trenches

No authority can clean up this mess we're in


A miracle might point the way

To solutions we're after

And avert our chronic impending disaster


Chickamauga's where I've been

Solitude is where I'm bound

I don't ever wanna taste these tears again

from Chickamauga by Uncle Tupelo


See also: Old Crow Medicine Crow, Langhorne Slim, The Jayhawks, anything but Mumford and Sons


-->Video (sort of): Whiskey Bottle by Uncle Tupelo




Ray a

Ray McManus is the author of three books of poetry, Punch, Red Dirt Jesus, and Driving through the country before you are born, and co-editor (with R. Mac Jones) of Found Anew. His poetry and prose have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Ray is an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter.

Summer 6s with The SC State Library's CURTIS ROGERS

Summer 6

"I vividly remember being on an airplane while reading the part about the ebola victim who was on an airplane while the hemorrhagic fever began to cause him to bleed from multiple orifices. I put down the book and slowly began to look at the other passengers around me for signs of hemorrhagic fever."

- Curtis Rogers

Jasper asked some of our community arts leaders their advice on the SIX best literary, visual, and musical indulgences for the sweltery summer months in Columbia. Here's Curtis Rogers' recommended summer reads ...


James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

One of my favorite recollections from childhood and probably the first time I remember being completely engrossed in a book. This was probably the first time I read a chapter book and I remember initially being disappointed it didn’t have that many images. I used to be the kid who would judge a book by how many pages had images on them so that it wouldn’t be that many pages to have to read.


Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

My first sci-fi book! This was also the first time I vividly remember reading the book then watching the movie and having the thrill of knowing what was going to happen next. I think this was the book that hooked me on science fiction and also gave me a big interest in virology.


The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

This was a summer read and I can’t remember where I was vacationing but I vividly remember being on an airplane while reading the part about the ebola victim who was on an airplane while the hemorrhagic fever began to cause him to bleed from multiple orifices. I put down the book and slowly began to look at the other passengers around me for signs of hemorrhagic fever. Thankfully, no one sneezed or was coughing.


Robopocalypse by Daniel Wilson

Cars with computerized components begin killing humans as the robots begin their rise against humanity. What more could you want in a book? This book will really make you think critically about owning a car without a computer in it. Even computerized toys become part of a collective consciousness in their rise to power over humans.


The Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot

Sometimes I don’t read science fiction. I really like poetry, too, and if you like poetry, and I mean really long poetry, this one is for you. It’s the national epic poem of Finland that explains creation through Scandinavian mythology. You’ll enjoy it if you can get around the long Finnish names like Väinämöinen and Lemminkäinen. The Kalevala's metre is a form of trochaic tetrameter that is known as the Kalevala metre. It’s quite rhythmic and I remember that it was a quick read. It’s not for everyone but will certainly make you more interesting (or maybe more boring) at dinner parties.


House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

On my second trip to Germany, while waiting for my colleague to get off work (she is the librarian for the Hamburg Parliament), I wandered into the Taschen bookstore and found the English language section. After browsing through some titles, I came across this one and was immediately engaged! It’s a story that takes place over 6 million years. It’s a forbidden love story between two “shatterlings” who were cloned from Abigail Gentian millennia ago. Something is trying to eliminate all of the shatterlings and the big question is who?


On another note, I just finished reading John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and highly recommend it if you’re into science fiction and looking for a great summer read. When you turn 75, you can enter the Colonial Defense Forces and serve for up to ten years but that’s all you know before you sign up. It’s interesting to find out what really happens to those who enlist and go offworld. Let’s just say genetic manipulation plays a big part and you also get introduced to some pretty intense alien races from whom the CDF fights to protect human colonies across the galaxy. You’re also introduced to skip drive technology and how spaceships travel at faster than light speed.

Curtis Rogers2

Dr. Curtis R. Rogers is the Director of Communications for the South Carolina State Library and Coordinates the South Carolina Center for the Book and has been working in the library and information science field for 27 years. He has worked at the Union Carnegie Library, the Charleston County Public Library and has taught courses at the USC School of Library and Information Science.  He received a Bachelor of Arts in Geography, Master of Library and Information Science, and Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of South Carolina.  In 2001, he completed the University of the Azores Summer Study Course in Azorean Portuguese Culture and Language and in 2002 completed the Certified Public Manager credential. In 2008, he was President of the SC Library Association.  Rogers developed a national library survey on library use of social media for public relations and has presented this survey’s results at the 2009 German Library Association Conference and at the State and University Library of Hamburg. He currently serves as secretary of the SC Academy of Authors, and chairs the USC School of Library and Information Annual Literacy Leaders (ALL) Awards committee.