Verne & Heinlein and Beyond

and really not even Verne, but Verne filtered through Disney… the first film i remember seeing, and being terrified by, and obsessing over (i still do to this very day) was Disney’s 1954 “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”… Victorian science fiction, pure and simple… which today makes it, what… proto-steampunk? just plain ol’ steampunk? it created a love of that aesthetic – iron, rivets, real wood, brass, copper, gears, levers, great wheels, domed windows, elegant furniture, pipe-organ playing anti-heroes… and submarines – always submarines. airships came much later.
and then in my fourth grade reader there was “The Green Hills of Earth”. Rhysling, the blind singer of the spaceways – of whom i always thought we were owed a lot more stories – was the first science fiction i ever read – aside from the Big Golden Book of Disney’s “20,000 Leagues”…
after that, there was Victor Appleton II and the “Tom Swift Jr.” series… god, i’d kill to get my hands on an ebook collection of the entire series… (and why the fuck, in this era of the YA novel, has no one thought of a Terry Swift, Teenage Genius series? she’s the scientist/inventor who creates the future, and fights evil in the present! i think it could make a compelling series, as well as helping to focus young women on careers in the sciences…)
from there, boys and girls, it was off to the races… Bradbury – a LOT of Bradbury… my mother and i would take turns reading to each other from his short story collections. Asimov, Clarke, Pohl, Moore, Anderson, Smith, Howard, Kuttner, Niven, Pournelle, Zelazny (one of the few authors i’ve ever got to insult in person – asked him, admiringly, what drugs he was on when he wrote “Creatures of Light and Darkness”… bad move)…
being as we’re approaching another Plain Vanilla Old Fart Festival – better known as LoneStarCon 3, the 71st Worldcon, i’ve been thinking about the past, and how my reading habits got to where they are.
mom was smart enough to let me try and read anything i wanted to… and i repaid that trust by trying things, finding out what i liked, what i didn’t, and what i wasn’t ready for until i was.
it’s odd as much as i enjoy altered states of consciousness, i cannot tolerate Lewis Carroll’s work. makes me crazy in a bad way.
tried to read Ira Levin’s “Rosemary’s Baby” at one point, hit the Satanic rape scene, put the book down. wasn’t ready for that yet. several years later cruised through it with no issues.
i’m not sure what the first horror i read was… remember a Scholastic copy of Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror”. the first fantasy was undoubtedly some Bradbury short story, the first fantasy novel… god alone knows. discovered, and learned to despise, Donaldson’s “Thomas Covenant” novels in high school, Howard’s “Conan” at about the same time (thank you god for Frank Frazetta covers!). didn’t discover Moorcock’s “Eternal Champion” until college. that’s also when i made my first abortive attempt to read Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy… way too many words for way too little content a lot of the time. (we’re running, we’re running, we’re running…)
didn’t know Stephen King from Adam, until, during high school, i went back to visit a favorite eighth grade teacher, who handed me “‘Salem’s Lot” and suggested i’d enjoy it. finished it, thought it was great (still pretty much my favorite vampire novel), and then two weeks later recognized how much the book had gotten to me. i’d been almost unconsciously noting which neighbors i’d seen out during the day. very chagrined when i realized that, along with a thought of “he got me! the son-of-a-bitch really got to me!” and an odd sort of delight.
somewhere in high school discovered Ellison… oh dear gods and wee fishies… there’s a life-long relationship. not an obsession so much… yeah, i’ve read him, continue to read him, but he affected my thinking in ways i’d be hard-pressed to list. i just know he did, and does… even though there are a lot of reasons to smack him upside his head. (and STILL waiting for “The Last Dangerous Visions”…)
anyway, enough musing… time to consider actually writing something.

listening to: the whir of my desk fan (i tell ya, peoples, it’s muthafuckin’ hot out there!)
mood: relaxed and happy 

Leave a Reply