At least once a week, I think to myself, “How the hell did people live before the Internet?” It’s a baffling question, because clearly human civilization as we know it would be completely impossible without the existence of the Internet, yet there’s documentary evidence to suggest that recorded history might pre-date 1994. So it’s interesting to read Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s Making Book , which probably wasn’t intended as a primary source on pre-Internet history, but ended up working that way for me.

Making Book is a scattered collection of essays and fragments touching on various and divers topics, ranging from copy-editing to mythological-historical scholarship, narcolepsy, and science fiction fandom. In short, it’s an awful lot like her blog. It’s not news to me that fanzines and BBSes were doing the blog thing before blogs (or even Usenet) existed, but seeing it concretely in print is fascinating.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Nielsen Hayden is a fascinating essayist. It would be easy to make twenty-year-old in-jokes of science fiction fandom dull, but in Making Book, they are instead tantalizing fragments of unfamiliar people and events — the sort of thing that makes you believe that the world was really more interesting back then, and the things that happened far cooler, even though you know that it wasn’t and they weren’t.

Good stuff; if you like Making Light, you should give Making Book a read.


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