MIND MELD MAKE-UP: Gregory Benford’s Introduction to Science Fiction and Fantasy

We have a late entry in a previous Mind Meld, What Was Your Introduction to Fantasy and Science Fiction?…and we here at SF Signal couldn’t resist sharing it with you!

Q: Where, when and how were you introduced to Fantasy and Science Fiction?

Gregory Benford
Gregory Benford is author of more than 20 novels, including Jupiter Project, Artifact, Against Infinity, Eater, and Timescape, is a two-time winner of the Nebula Award. Benford has also won the John W. Campbell Award, the Australian Ditmar Award, the 1995 Lord Foundation Award for achievement in the sciences, and the 1990 United Nations Medal in Literature. He is a professor of physics at the University of California, Irvine, where he conducts research in plasma turbulence theory and experiment, and in astrophysics.

*There it is.*

*Gosh, $2.50. But*…*I can’t wait! *

I recall thinking that, when I sighted Farmer in the Sky for sale in the big Post Exchange in Tokyo.

It was 1953, and less than 300 miles away, the Korean War was raging. Our father was a senior staff officer for General McArthur and often worked weekends and came home late at night. We had less time with him, and though our mother compensated, that’s not the same kind of fun.

So we read a lot. My brother Jim and I had already read Rocket Ship Galileo (published in 1947), Space Cadet (1948) and Red Planet (1949) from our school library. These early Heinlein books were the first science fiction we’d ever seen, since we grew up in deeply rural southern Alabama. SF opened horizons beyond those we already had discovered, living in occupied Japan.

We were fans, even if we didn’t even know it yet, so of course we couldn’t wait for the school to acquire Farmer. We pooled our money and bought the book, our first hardcover acquisition. It cost $2.50, a full five weeks’ worth of both our allowances, ran 216 pages and carried the great illustrations by Clifford Geary that made the Heinlein “juveniles” so visually memorable. A bargain, never regretted.