Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Sci-fi, the early years

Borrowing a posting from an email list I'm on. I'm nothing, if not redundant (or is that legitimate recycling?). Someone asked what science fiction we read, as kids.

I never really had much of a sci-fi phase, as a young kid. Accent on the 'fi' part. Nature and history writings, explorers; that was me. Mummies, Kon-Tiki, Aztecs, J. Fenimore Cooper type things.

My parents still keep an egyptian mummy book I bought on a field-trip to the NY Mus of Nat History. I must have really made a huge stink about wanting that book - maybe I should tell them it's ok to throw it away now.

When I was around 9 or 10, I religiously bought each paperback volume of the Alfred Hitchcock mystery short story series. I'm positive I got them from our scholastic book club. And of course, the big bopper - Edgar A. Poe - I could never get enough of him. Alexander Dumas too,
of all people. Not sci-fi, but proto-fantasy, maybe.

Comics. We weren't actively forbidden to buy them, but it was frowned upon. But if I did scrap up the coin, I'd usually buy a Sgt Rock, over a Superman. "Combat" was a very popular TV show.

A childhood pal, Ted (here is the story of a boy named Ted), was the serious comic-book fan. Mostly Marvel comics. One day, he gave me a huge pile of his old comics and we brought them down to the clubhouse (which we actually called 'the solarium.' That's how the parents
referred to it. Ah, unclear-on-the-concept visions of naked
naturists...). For a day, the usual suspects got together and we had a marathon catch-up read.

By the 6th grade, I was voraciously reading about the early astronomers and how-to-build-telescopes books. Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo - I guess their lives scratched whatever vestigal sci-fi itch I had at the time.

In my teens, I did finally read a bunch of Phillip K. Dick. But at the time, he was also something of a counter-culture hero, at least in my world. I think that influenced 'how' I read his stories. The exploration of drug awareness manifested itself in so many ways! Tolkien was similar - the counter-culture part, that is. His novels
impressed me as much for their morality life-lessons, as the adventures. In the time of LBJ and Nixon, you got your morality where you could find it.


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