A strange coincidence of paddleboats

Do you have weeks where a single image keeps showing up, by co-incidence? Thursday I was followed around by paddle steamers.

First it was the local revival of the musical Showboat. This is, of course, unfair, because showboats in real life were never paddle steamers: they just added that for the movie because it was more visual than a tug barge. It’s a great musical, and this presentation of it is excellent. I’ll just quickly flag then ignore that much of the cast is playing in blackface, because I know it is a hot button issue for some viewers.

Afterward I went home and one of my sci-fi sites told me that the SyFy Channel in the US have made a movie of Riverworld, an excellent and though provoking science fiction series. In the first novel, To your scattered bodies go, billions of people awake on the banks of a seemingly endless river. They are naked and hairless, in bodies only twenty-five years old, and are drawn from prehistory to the year 2008. The narrator, Sir Richard Burton, goes a voyage of discovery up the river, and a paddle boat plays a significant role in the evolving saga. I’m sure that eventually the telemovie will be seen here, but I’m going to reread the books in advance. (You’ll need to ask for an interlibrary loan for these…)

Then, when tidying my study, I found a pile of books had been pushed out onto the floor by one of the cats, who likes to crawl into the spaces in the bookshelves behind the paperbacks. In part of the stack was Fevre dream, by George R R Martin, which is a vampire novel set along the banks of the Mississippi. It’s a horror novel, not a modern “vampires are cool and sexy” sort of book, but it has some lovely period atmosphere, and is very well written. This is the Song of Fire and Ice guy, in earlier years…

So, paddle steamers seem to have followed me on Thursday, but they reminded me of some great books I want to reread. Maybe I only noticed because I had Mark Twain on my mind, and his pen name is a paddleboat term for a measurement of the depth of the river?