About the books I've been reading.
The first of these was Deathkiller by Spider Robinson. This book made me repeatedly wince in embarrassment with its over-the-top romanticizing, especially the ``becoming one'' three-way sex scenes. I think maybe Spider decided that he wanted to do with sex what Heinlein did in Stranger in a Strange Land, but couldn't be bothered to put in enough background material to make it not seem absurd.
The other two were a pair of pulp fantasies with a thin veneer of science fiction: The Dragon and the George and The Dragon and the Djinn by Gordon Dickson. The idea of this series is basically that of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, except that the past where our protagonist Jim Eckert and his fiancée Angie visit and eventually decide to stay is not Mark Twain's England but the England of high fantasy, with dragons, talking wolves, and so on. The science fiction sugar coating comes from the first few chapters of the former book, where Jim and Angie are transmitted to this funny past by a teleportation machine devised by a scientist at Jim and Angie's university. I think I would have enjoyed these books more if I hadn't been expecting them to be science fiction.
Yesterday, having run out of these books and desperately seeking some more worthwhile literature, I made a run out to Kepler's Books on El Camino. I picked up Mark Twain's Autobiography, Neal Stephenson's The Big U and Interface (under the pseudonym Stephen Bury), and Joseph Heller's Catch-22. I've started reading the last of those. So far, everyone in the book is crazy.