The Objectivist by Ayn Rand
The Objectivist is not a book; rather, it is the title of a series of monthly sixteen-page pamphlets produced first by Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden and then, following their disassociation, solely by Ayn Rand. Originally titled The Objectivist, it ran from 1962 through 1971.
The pamphlets typically contained three articles and possibly a calendar of upcoming events promoted by Rand’s institute. The articles were often speeches that Rand had written, or excerpts from upcoming books. Book reviews were common, as were commentaries on leftist politics (both U.S. and international) and perceived risks and failings of then-modern culture.
The pamphlets are small and, when found, not particularly expensive. While I don’t always agree with the positions taken in the articles, I find them fascinating as historical documents and energizing as philosophy: in reading the articles, I find myself challenged to rebut the points with which I disagree.
With a small set of pages available per month, I believe these pamphlets are nearly ideal light reading… light in terms of quantity, not of quality.
Scars and other distinguishing marks by Richard Christian Matheson (1987, Scream Press)
Keeping with the theme of short works this weekend is Scars by Richard Christian Matheson. The son of famed screenwriter Richard Matheson, RCM made his reputation with short fiction – often pieces that clocked in at six pages or less. They are horror stories, but they are tightly written, succinct horror stories.
The stories range from contemporary to near-future sf to futuristic sf. They are presented in experimental form (“Vampire”, for example, consists only of single-word sentences, and “Conversation Piece” is framed mostly as a series of questions and answers) and in standard story formats. “Red” is one of the most haunting pieces I’ve read, a three-page story with a punch that returns regularly in the daily headlines. There are humor stories, dark stories, philosophical ones. All are short, and all fall into one subcategory or another within the horror field.
One true failing of the book is the introduction. Written by Stephen King, it put the book on the radar of King collectors. The end result is that a paperback copy will typically cost more than a standard used book, but the stories are worth a little extra money if you enjoy moody, unsettling short works.