Wednesday, August 26, 2009
At the Locus Roundtable, Adrienne Martini asks what title pulled you into the science fiction and fantasy genre and what made you stay?
I’ll take the opportunity to get nostalgic:
My earliest memories include reading (or being read to) Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tanglewood Tales (1852), a rewriting of Greek myths, and Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories (1902). These remain some of the greatest fables for young readers I have encountered. There was a volume of tales about Robin Hood for young readers, which edition I don’t know.
I have very clear memories of my father reading C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950), to me and my older brother at bedtime, when I was age five or six, and how desperate we were for each new chapter. A couple years later, my grandmother brought us Turkish Delight and we finally tasted the exotic treat with which Edmund had been tempted.
At age 11, I borrowed Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man (1951), which my brother had been reading. I enjoyed it, even though parts of it were a bit too scary.
When I was 13, a friend at school recommended a book he had found in the school library, Robert Silverberg’s The Gate of Worlds (1967), which is perhaps Silverberg’s best young adult book, and remains overlooked by many, I believe.
That same year, over dinner, my mother (who had been a science fiction fan since long before I was born) and brother discussed a book they were both reading. It was about a desert planet, giant sandworms, and a mysterious drug called “spice” that was in all the food and turned the whites of people’s eyes blue. I borrowed it next, even though Frank Herbert's Dune (1965) was larger in scope and scale than anything I had read before. After that I was off to the races, reading voraciously.
Please add your own early reading memories in the comments here, or at the Locus Roundtable.