My Older Legacy Literary Blog

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Discovering SF in the Library

Before I discovered the joy of being stunned by some plot twist while reading a PKD novel and subsequently ransacking all the used bookstores for PKD books(and H.E. back then), I grew up going to the Mid-City Library and discovered treasures like “Journey to the Mushroom Planet,” “Secret of the Marauder Satellite,” all the RAH Juveniles like "Have Spacesuit Will Travel," DAW's “Secret of the Ninth Planet.” I kept graduating to other things back them, like Groff Conklin SF anthologies and Orbit anthos.  I found those Derleth anthologies like “A Porthole to Eternity” and onward to Bradbury, Asimov and Silverberg.  I can almost remember being there between the stacks, a skinny kid stumbling upon Arthur Clarke and various horror anthologies and anxiously checking them out. 

The reason I am writing this is because a friend of mine’s mom just passed on and he was a good friend that introduced me to EE Doc Smith’s “Skylark of Space” and numerous other authors.  Another childhood friend introduced me to Analog after I had discovered some old pulps of Edmond Hamilton, etc. My friend and I tried to write a short story to send to Analog at the ripe age of 11 or so, but we never finished it. I discovered the “X Minus One” radio dramas and “Dimension X” as well, and they enhanced my sense of wonder.  I was literally wandering around in a daze of wonder about what could be and what would be. I found a lot of Andre Norton novels at the library, as well as later, Kate Wilhelm and Le Guin.  I went through all of my big brother's SF anthologies. I found out about Van Vogt who to me was the ancient precursor to PKD and way ahead of his time.

I later met several authors at Cons.  I remember meeting Ray Bradbury and it was rather spoiled by some psycho in the line in front of me pulling a bejeweled massive sword from a duffel bag and wielding it around.  I was working night shifts as a computer operator so when I met Mr. Bradbury I was in a disheveled appearance with no sleep.  I told him I wrote a couple of novels and had read every word he had written many times.     

I remember the Tom Swift books which I discovered, were under the house name of Victor Appleton (I didn’t know what a house name was).  I started collecting the original Swift books which are now antiques. In the 7th grade (at age ten) the English teacher asked us down each row what we wanted to do when we were grown.  I said, "I want to invent the first Star Drive."  Whimsy, indeed.  I guess I am writing this as a paean to my youth and to some childhood friends that introduced me to comic books and SF and Horror.

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