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What Book Turned You Into a Science Fiction Fan?

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?

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

22 Comments on What Book Turned You Into a Science Fiction Fan?

  1. I seem to always have been into scifi/fantasy. While I had read some Heinlein when I was younger (Citizen of the Galaxy) it was the Norby series by Asimov that started it all. There came a lull period and in highschool Ender’s Game became the most influential to jump me right back into the genre. The Hobbit and books by McKiernan (Iron Tower) were my first dip into fantasy genre.

  2. Allan Rosewarne // March 29, 2005 at 12:28 pm //

    The first SF book I remember reading was Podkayne of Mars by Heinlein, and when I read it I thought it was the coolest story I ever heard.

  3. I can’t remember exactly. I do remember my parents giving me a box set of pulp SF books for one of my birthdays, probably around 10 or 11, that had a bunch of stories about Mars, and aliens etc. The first SF/F book I remember reading is The Hobbit, in 6th grade. From there I remember trying to read Lord Foul’s Bane then switching to the usual SF suspects: Heinlein, Asimov, and Niven.

  4. The Warlord of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs; it was book 3 of the John Carter series, and I hadn’t read books 1 and 2, but I didn’t yet know any better. Very thrilling experience.

  5. Hm. I think it was school that got me hooked.

    We read Pierre Berton’s Secret World Of Og in Grade 1, then the Mushroom planet books the following year, and then in the enrichment program in Grade 3 we read A Wrinkle In Time. I was good and truly hooked by then. I think the first “adult” genre work I read was Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, but I was already converted long before that.

  6. When I graduated from the children’s library to the library for adults, I was drawn to books with bright, colorful covers. I can still vividly imagine the gorgeous cover illustration of (the Dutch translation of) “Planet of Adventure” by Jack Vance, my first SF novel. For some reason, the title was translated to “Tshai – The Insane Planet” in Dutch. I went on to read everything else by Vance they had on the shelves. Writing this makes me want to re-read that first Vance novel… I still haven’t read it in its original language!

  7. What Book turned me into an SF Fan

    SFSignal: What Book Turned You Into a Science Fiction Fan? Over on SFSignal, there is a question posed, “What book(S) turned you into a SF fan.” John’s answers are the usual suspects….

  8. SF Beginnings

    John at SFSignal asks what book turned you into a science fiction fan. I’m pretty sure the first science fiction I read and loved as an early elementary student was Space Cat (and its sequels)by Ruthven Todd. The first “real”…

  9. SF Initiation

    John at SFSignal asks which book got you into science fiction. I answer the question for me over at GNXP Science Fiction….

  10. ERB and Tolkien–both discovered around the sixth grade–tie for most influential to me as a science-fiction/fantasy fan, but the very first book to set me on that glorious path was Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, which I got at a school book fair in THIRD grade. It was a crappy copy that fell apart as I was reading it the first time, and it took me the whole school year to get through it (probably not comprehending half of it), but it was a pure magic key that opened an enchanted door that I have never closed, and never will.


  11. What Book Turned You Into an SF Fan

    SF Signal asks what book turned you into an SF Fan, with reference to Bob Wallace’s enjoying the swords and blasters stylings of Burroughs. I had never seen anything like it. The cover had two huge moons floating in…

  12. Some other fine initiation stories in response to this:

  13. RE: The sic on my internet name.

    Jvstin is a deliberate and distinctive misspelling of my middle name, Justin. I enjoy things related to Latin and the Roman Empire, and so my nom de plume on the Internet is Justin…spelled without the “u”. Thus, Jvstin.

    Thanks for the highlight.

  14. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to admit to reading “A Wrinkle in Time” in the fifth grade but luckily someone else already has. “Wrinkle” kept a young reader interested and added some interesting bits about space/time. I then moved to “classic” sci-fi and read “Time Machine” and “War of the Worlds.” H.G. Wells sealed my fate with great writing and interesting science. From there, I moved to short stories, with Asimov as a favorite. Good stories but very realistic science.

  15. HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL by Robert A. Heinlein was the first SF book I ever read. A paperback, it was loaned to me by a friend of my father’s who knew I was bookish. The first fantasy book I read was DREAM QUEST OF UNKNOWN KADATH by HP Lovercraft, which (if I recall so many decades ago) I bought because I saw the exotic name ‘Kadath’ listed on the back page of another paperback, back when Lin Carter’s Balentine Adult Fantasy series were advertising their other titles. The second fantasy book I read was THE LAST UNICORN by Peter S. Beagle, which I bought because it had a unicorn on the cover. This was back in the days, you young whippersnappers, when it was the only book with a unicorn on the cover.


  16. HP Lovercraft was the inventor of a ground-effects vehicle in the late 1930’s, who was last seen in a crypt in southern Louisiana, being carried off by a squamous rugose cone. He is not to be confused with HP Lovecraft, whose name everyone by now should know how to spell.


  17. Heh. šŸ˜€

  18. Have Space Suit, Will Travel. Peewee and Mother Thing opened my 2nd grade mind to the wonders of the universe.

    Starship Troopers and Glory Road were responsible for the two tours I did in ‘Nam – and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress defines politics…

  19. JSAllison // April 1, 2005 at 12:56 pm //

    likely something by HGWells or Verne. The first identifiably SciFi would’ve been an issue of Analog from ’72, had an SR-71 on the cover, lent to me by a classmate in jr high.

  20. What Mad Universe by Fredric Brown warp drive from a sewing machine.

  21. What Book Made You a Science Fiction Fan?

    Here’s a worthwhile question: What book made you a science fiction fan? (via Li) I don’t think it was a…

  22. Andre Norton – The Time Traders

    followed by Robert Heinlein – Star Beast

    followed by Harlan Ellison – “A Boy and His Dog”.

    And at that point, there was no hope for me.

    Jae Walker

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