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Name: Chris Cokley

Age: 26

Occupation: Employee at Panera bread

Neighborhood: Point Loma

Where Interviewed: Borders in the gaslamp

What are you reading now?

"Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 by L. Ron Hubbard. I picked it up because I saw the film when it came out a couple of years ago. It starred John Travolta; he had long hair and a thing in his nose. I had nothing to do today, so I rode my bike here and picked up this book. I'm on page 507 now."

Tell me about the book.

"Aliens attack the earth, and for about 1000 years, the aliens rule the planet. There are a few people left. They're primitives -- rubbing sticks together and hunting animals. They can't even speak. Then, one of the aliens teaches one of the men how to talk so that the man can work for him. The man ends up learning the history of his planet and teaches it to all of his people. The humans then revolt against the aliens. I like the setting -- 1000 years in the future, and they're discovering how we're living now, finding old books and learning about people. It's like the way we look back at people who lived during the Roman Empire and wonder about them. The humans in Battlefield Earth look back at our present political situation and our religious stuff as trivial, because they're focused on living, providing food."

Any favorite characters?

"There's an alien named Kerr. The aliens look like people, except they're 10 or 11 feet tall, 3 feet wide, are extremely strong, weigh about 1000 pounds, and have bones for eyebrows and lips. Kerr gets captured and ends up working with the humans. He can't go back to the aliens because he's done some bad things, and the aliens want to kill him."

Tell me about the style and language.

"It's really descriptive of places and people. Right now, where I am in the book is set in South America. It's very humid -- the author writes that it's so hot, even the paper is wet. And when he writes about different groups -- from Scotland or London -- he writes the dialogue with the accents and dialect of the area."

Compare this with other books you've read.

"I read everything; I have to mix it up. I can't read just one kind of thing, or I get burnt out. The last book I read was by Bill Bryson: I'm a Stranger Here Myself : Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away. It's a travel memoir, Bryson going through small towns in America and writing of his experiences in a very humorous way. He'll write about how he got drunk in a bar, thought the people there were idiots, and then forgot how to walk. He's very opinionated and very descriptive." Tell me about your favorite authors. "I like Arthur C. Clarke; he wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey. I was a kid, and I got the book for free. It made me want to grow up and be able to go to space."

What magazines or newspapers do you read?

"I read Mountain Bike or Dirt Rag mountain-bike magazine. I read them every month, pretty much cover to cover."

Do you talk to your friends about reading?

"Some of my friends are mountain bikers, so we'll talk about the magazines. Or, if we've read the same book, we'll have a discussion. A friend and I just read What the Bleep Do We Know!? It's about science, metaphysics, religion, and all kinds of stuff. It gathers all these different opinions of reality, and it made us discuss our own opinions about reality. One thing that came up was science and religion -- how people try to separate them. In Buddhist meditation, you can go to a certain Nirvana. The Bible says, 'An open eye sees light.' And then you have some people who say, 'Think of evolution. Everything can be explained. It's all hard facts; there's no such thing as the power of the mind, or spirit.' Science will say that we're not a soul -- just a bunch of chemicals sitting here, doing what we do. Why make them separate? If you put science and religion together, they would probably answer a lot of each other's questions."

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