Friday, December 23, 2011

Nostalgia Trip.

After putting up that clip of the coming John Carter of Mars film, and then searching for the cover of the first of those Edgar Rice Burroughs books I got hold of, I’ve been pondering on the first SFF books I read. When I do interviews, I often chunter on about first having my mind distorted by E. C. Tubb’s Earl Dumarest saga, but maybe I chose that simply because of its connection to the first bit of creative writing I did in school (wholly derivative stuff about people having their brains removed). But I wonder which book was the first.

There are a few contenders. I know that the first E. C. Tubb book I read was The Winds of Gath. However, did I read that before one of the books my mother – a school teacher – was reading to her kids and kept at home: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. As an aside here I should mention that the second bit of SF I attempted to write, as a teenager, was something called The Crab, the Serpent and the Carpenter … shortly after something called The Planet of the Light Creatures, with drawings.

I also remember my first visit to a library and, when asked by mother what I would like to read, I mentioned that I had enjoyed a story a school teacher had been reading to my class. Knowing the author she directed me to the relevant shelf. The story mention was The Hobbit, and the book I picked up was The Two Towers by Mr Tolkein. But was I already reading the previously mentioned books before that.

Then we get back to John Carter. I picked up A Princess of Mars out of my brother Martin’s collection of books (mostly Louis L’Amour cowboy books), but was I already reading the skiffy stuff then? I don’t know … had I by then started picking up those Robert E. Howard Conan books? And how long was it before I started in on Larry Niven and my first taste of Ringworld Engineers?


Neal Asher said...

Ahah, it's occurred to me that I must put my book collection up on the website. I've already done it here, but of course it's buried deep.

bascule said...

My first proper genre book was "Mad Gods Amulet" by the legendary Mike Moorcock. I was 11 and spotted it in the local library. When I went to check it out, the librarian looked at my mum as if to say it was a bit old for me. My mum just said it would be fine. Good old mum.

From there I think it was Perry Rhodan #5, but may have been Princess of Mars.

Conan the Librarian™ said...

Either "Have spacesuit-will travel" or "Welcome to Mars" for SF. Fantasy it was Moorcock too, "Elric of Melnibone".
I remember being told off for reading Perry Rhodan by my English teacher...

Thud said...

I seem to have pretty much followed the same path to science fiction nirvana as yourself except for the fact I unlike you can barely write my name!

Neal Asher said...

Bascule, you've reminded me. I read one or two Perry Rhodan books early or pre-teens. And I have just about all the Moorcock fantasies.

Conan, luckily my English teacher was not such a snob. It was arguably a compliment from her, on that piece of creative writing I mentioned, that set me on my present course. And my 'project' in English was alphabetically listing SFF writers and waffling on about them.

Thud, I left school with an O Level in English language, and no idea what a sentence was.

Alex Cull said...

For me, the Narnia books, The Hobbit and LOTR were powerful early influences. But slightly before any of these was seriously weird novel The Owl Service by Alan Garner, which made a strong impression on the 6 or 7-year old me.

Then I started reading SF - The Crysalids by John Wyndham may have been the first SF novel I encountered. Happy Days!

By the way, wishing Neal and everyone else a Merry Xmas and a very happy 2012!

Neal Asher said...

Alex, Windham and Lymington were also early reads. Enjoyed C. S. Lewis as a kid, but not much liking the films. I guess now I'm older the message is as leaden as a bick hammer on the head.