I have mixed feelings about Amazon.com. I hate the way they have dominated book sales and how it has affected local bookstores. I have never been fond of any large corporation that wipes out most of the competition.

But then I am a Prime member. Amazon sells my book.

I'm trying to cut back on my Amazon purchases. Not that I believe my minuscule purchases will make or break them, but I am positive they will benefit smaller companies, and especially local businesses.

It's hard not to admire Jeff Bezos and what he has accomplished. He got in on the internet marketplace at the right time, and frankly he did everything right. The selection, the service, the ease of purchasing. Their efficiency is unquestionable. Amazon makes the trains run on time, as it were.

I will continue to give as much as I can to independent retailers. I believe in helping out the little guy as much as possible. I'll also purchase from Amazon from time to time. They are almost impossible to avoid in this day and age.

Bezos reminds me of a Heinlein character. A larger-than-life figure who shapes destiny by sheer will power. Like Delos D. Harriman, Heinlein's protagonist from "The Man Who Sold the Moon" and "Requiem", Jeff Bezos has used his wealth and power to further space exploration. If he has done so in a way that serves his ego, well, that's like D.D. Harriman too.

I can't help but smile when I consider how Bezos invited William Shatner to fly into space. How perfectly appropriate is that? Shatner, who made history as space traveler James Tiberius Kirk many decades ago, now has become part of humankind's journey to the stars. What a life he has had. I wasn't much of a Star Trek fan growing up, but I have come to enjoy Shatner's other pursuits. His latest music release, the autobiographical Bill, is really good. Before you roll your eyes, consider giving it half a chance. You may wind up being pleasantly surprised.

There are also reports of Jeff Bezos doing serious research into life extension. You can't get much more Heinlein than that. An online bookseller evolving into a Lazarus Long avatar seems like it's too fantastic to be true.

It's all pretty astounding.

The whole thing feels like an epic SF yarn in progress. The world faces various crises right now, but there is, as always, hope and optimism for the future.

Written by Mark Sieber

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