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The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 185): How Did You Became a Speculative Fiction Fan?

In episode 185 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester assembles a panel to discuss how they came to be fans of speculative fiction.
Topic: Why you became a fan of speculative fiction.
What was the defining moment for you? What sparked that passion for you? Do you still feel it as strongly today? What keeps the passion going?
Listeners: tell us your answers in the comments!

This week’s panel:

© 2013

Featuring original music by John Anealio

About Patrick Hester (527 Articles)
Patrick Hester is a writer, blogger, podcasting dude, Denver transplant and all around Functional Nerd. Don't hate him cuz he has a cool hat.

14 Comments on The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 185): How Did You Became a Speculative Fiction Fan?

  1. Countless viewings of the original Star Trek in 1970’s syndication,
    issues of Starlog from the drugstore, and mass market paperbacks from the
    shopping mall Waldenbooks store.The Marvel, DC, Dell and Gold Key comic books off the metal spinner racked helped a lot too.

  2. I was about 8 years old-in the mid 1950’s. I found a book at the library about a space ship that crashed on an inhabited planet. The parents were killed and the two small children were taken in by the aliens. I can’t remember the name of the book. I thought it was wonderful!

  3. I’m really a sentient skinjob from a potential multiverse future where we reach the omega point. My mission is to foster interconnections between genre people and materials in an effort to make that future come to pass.

  4. It was definitely Star Wars – watched endlessly on laser disc ever time we visited my aunt – that made me a sci-fi fan. My parents watched a lot of Star Trek reruns, but I didn’t come to appreciate them until much later.

    Fittingly enough, it was novelizations of Buck Rodgers and Battlestar Galactica that got me reading sci-fi . . . and decades later I’ve never looked back.

  5. Jerry Gaiser // April 15, 2013 at 9:56 am //

    I’m 66 and I really have no memory of what was the first book, but all I read during my early reading years was science fiction. Bradbury, Heinlein, etc.

    Still read mostly science fiction, with a bit of fantasy and non-fiction/history. Way too many interesting new writers.

  6. My dad made me watch War of the Worlds, the George Pal version, when I was in second grade. I didn’t want to, as I assumed it was a regular old war movie, and those bored me. I fell totally in love with the movie, and my dad brought home the book and the Mercury Theater radio drama on LP from the library where he worked.

    That was it. I was aware of SF/F/H work by then, I knew what the Planet of the Apes movies were and what ghosts and witches were and had seen Wizard of Oz and I loved Lost In Space and Ultra Man when I was very small. I loved The Six Million Dollar Man and Star Trek, then. I had no idea any of these things were connected or that there was so much more…

    That nexus of Wells novel and different adaptations all at once, in the course of a few days introduced me to spec fic as a concept fast. I began checking out the big books of all the genre movies and TV shows ever and making checklists of everything I wanted to see someday and plowing through all the fiction I could get my hands on.

    Being introduced to Orson Welles young didn’t hurt my becoming a big old movie geek, either.

  7. Interesting ‘cast, guys. Too bad you couldn’t rope in anyone who started reading SF earlier. My introductory exposure was reading my older brother’s ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION issues, beginning with July 1950. I devoured the back issues he had and then waited eagerly each month until he was finished with the latest issue and I could read it. That led in a short time to reading Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Poul Anderson, Hal Clement and others.

    All this was long before there was much in the way of SF on radio except for Flash Gordon, let alone TV, unless maybe one considers Rocky and Bullwinkle as SF! I wish todays fans would go back and read the basic, classic SF authors I named above to understand where the genre has come from.

    • Jerry Gaiser // April 15, 2013 at 8:45 pm //

      Enjoyed the podcast, but I too kinda wished for an older perspective. I was born in 1947, so I was only 3 years old in 1950. Probably hadn’t started reading much of anything yet. That said, I too grew up with the writers from the classic era and I’m sure that shaped who and what I read later and probably what and who I read now.

  8. A child of the 80s, I grew up in front of the boob tube watching Star Wars a hundred times and countless reruns of Star Trek. At around age 10, Dad let me watch Alien and Lynch’s Dune. When I was a little older, I discovered Dune was really a book, not a movie. the rest is history.

  9. I started reading SF when I was 10 – the 2nd Tom Swift series. Lost in Space was my eye candy back then – Angela Cartwright was *hot! I didn’t get to see Star Trek the first time around, but by then I was reading Dune and anything Asimov and Heinlein wrote.

  10. On TV, Star Trek was a big influence (the original series), along with Space 1999, Get Smart, and the Man From U.N.C.L.E (I know that’s not sci-fi, as such, but…) Of course, it was the adults in the house that flipped on those shows. Left on my own, I watched those shows along with that show with the Sleestack, Holly and… oh I forget all their names, shamefully. In spite of the fact that I’ve forgotten the show’s name as well, that show left its mark. (yes yes I know, it was low-budget, but it was a cool show back in the day!) There were comic books lying around the house, Superman whom I didn’t really care for but adored Superhorse (I was about 8 or something) and had a crush on Lighting Lad. That cutie-pie. Wonder Woman was around too, and my father liked a comic called Sad Sack. (I detest that book, with all due respect)

    As a high school outcast, the library was my best friend. Primary school had a library LITERALLY the size of a closet, so I read all the animal books (two of them, I think), and was totally impressed by the size of the library in high school. I read a ton of sci-fi books from Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, Alan E Nourse, and others whose names I don’t remember off-hand. Without a doubt, however, the books that clinched it for me were the books from Susan Cooper – The Dark Is Rising series. Those books are NOTHING like the movie – they were mind-bending, timey-whimey, and just really did it for me. I reread those books, every few years or so.

    I stopped reading fiction as an adult, preferring reference books, but got back into it lately, but mostly fluff stuff. I haven’t really found anything that pops my bubble these days, but I keep looking.

  11. The seminal moment in my SF fandom had to be at a garage sale. My grandmother loved going to them, and always took me along with her. I stumbled across a book with two humans and a dwarf standing in front of a glowing sword that stuck out of a block of carved black stone.

    For those of you that are fans of the story, you know the book I’m talking about it.

    Yep: Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks.

    This was 1980, and I was seven years old at the time. I knew swords were used to kill people. I figured a glowing sword could kill LOTS of people, and the image on the cover fascinated me. It drew me in to the point that I knew I had to read it. Even at that young age, I wasn’t daunted by the 726 page tome that weighed down my hands. I begged my grandmother for the quarter (or was it fifty cents?) required to buy it at the garage sale.

    I was not disappointed by the tale that unfolded before me. I know. I know. Brooks took a great number of his ideas from Tolkien, but I didn’t know that at the time. In my pure innocence, I fell in love with the story about the Ohmsford brother and their motley crew of friends and allies fighting against the pure evil of the Warlock Lord. The epic nature of the tale satisfied me to the very end.

    After reading that book (I’ll admit it took me a while, at that young age, to get through it all), I went in search of more fantasy book to consume. I’d try to list off the Big Names I’ve come across in the 3+ decades since that moment, but I’m sure to forget many of them.

    Needless to say, I’ve been a voracious consumer (though not as fast as Paul Weimer!) of fantasy (and some science fiction) since that day.

    To be honest, I’m so much in love with the concepts and ideas of fantasy worlds, I now create in them through my (as yet unpublished) novels.

  12. Listened to this one the last couple of nights while running. Great stuff! Always enjoy listening to stories/reading stories of how people came to love SF.

    I myself came to it via Star Wars (saw the original film at the drive in when I was 8). That lead to reading the novelization and reading Brian Daley’s Han Solo novels and Alan Dean Foster’s Splinter of the Mind’s Eye (with its great pre-brother and sister Luke fantasizing about Leia). From there A World Out of Time introduced me to Larry Niven and then I discovered Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat. These are books I have went back to over the years that may not ‘hold up’ from a quality standpoint in comparison to other classics and contemporary works I’ve read, but they entertain me every bit as much today.

    I liked what Derek, I believe, said about the stuff you connected with at a younger age still making you giddy as an adult when more related work comes out, even when it doesn’t live up to expectations. I was nodding my head in agreement (while running, which isn’t a safe thing to do in the dark). Star Trek and Star Wars gives me an emotional hit that makes me feel like I’m time traveling back to my childhood. Even when they disappoint (Star Wars, I’m actually one of those who has enjoyed the JJ Abrams Trek because of its spirit) it doesn’t stop that giddy anticipation.

    And once bitten with the SF bug, I’m not sure how anyone could get over it. After all every day there is something new in the genre to read or listen to or watch, be it internet content, new films, new books…couple that with all the stuff that exists in the past that you want to get to and there is a veritable treasure trove of material with the potential to ignite that sense of giddy excitement. I can think of nothing I’d rather be more enamored with as far as hobbies/interests than SF.

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