Bless the writers of this world who give the children of
dysfunctional families a fabulous place to escape that does not involve drugs
I think I was about 6 when I first discovered SF, though I
suppose a story about two purple cats flying a rocket to Mars should really be
classified as fantasy. The Wonderful
Flight to the Mushroom Planet ensured that henceforth I was hooked on space
And shortly after that I discovered the Astounding Science Fiction magazines on my dad's bookshelf. In
those pages were Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov, L. Sprague de Camp and Harry
Harrison. They were my new best friends, and I loved them all -- even John
Campbell, the famously eccentric (obstreperous?) editor of Analog.
Yes, I actually learned tolerance from John Campbell; it was
obvious even to an 8-year-old that he wrote at least half of his editorials to
irritate as many people as possible, and that on certain subjects he was quite
possibly nuts. But -- and this is important -- Campbell annoyed me into thinking
more about what I believed and why, and I appreciated that a great deal.
My family, unfortunately, held the opposite view. They told
me what to think, and if I disagreed, I had better not say anything.
A happy thing for a girl in that situation to have Heinlein
juveniles, which had -- mostly -- convinced me that I really was smart, and that
it was not entirely impossible for me to be attractive someday. Major leap of
imagination for a kid with cat-eye glasses, knobby knees, and the fashion sense
of an amoeba.
I didn't know what genre was, but I loved everything from
Andre Norton and Ray Bradbury to Roger Zelazny. Now I
know enough about genre to know I can't always be sure if a work is SF or
fantasy. As Damon Knight said, "SF is what we point to when we say it."
Just so. And I still love them all.