Bob Wallace wants a blaster and a sword. His reflections on sense of wonder, imagination and Edgar Rice Burroughs is a pretty good read. I think it resembles the early reading experiences of many science fiction and fantasy fans.
Alas, there is no one standout book in my own past that opened the floodgates of sf. It was more of a gradual thing. In sixth grade we read Tolkien’s The Hobbit. I liked it enough to start Lord of the Rings outside of class but, if memory serves, I didn’t finish it then. (I did about ten years later.) The first science fiction books I remember reading are Larry Niven’s Ringworld and Asimov’s Caves of Steel and Foundation. I’m sure there were others but my memory fails me. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I remembered my love for science fiction and the way in which it left me awestruck. I’m making up for lots of lost reading time now, though. I will occasionally read a classic and find myself like that proverbial 11 year old, mouth agape, furiously turning pages. Oddly, classic award winners are hit & miss with me; some of them I just don’t care much for. But I still love the flavor of older science fiction.
So, which science fiction books made you a fan?