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Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Of (Inter)National Science Fiction Day and some birthdays!

Ack! I have just discovered that yesterday was International Science Fiction Day(actually, National, but I don't see why Americans should have all the fun!). And I missed it.

Apparently, it was set up to celebrate the birthday of Isaac Asimov, which was January 2.

Let me tell you about me and Asimov. He was my sister's favourite SF writer(probably still is) when I was a teenager. She bought absolutely every piece of his fiction she could get her hands on, though she was not really interested in the non-fiction he said was his first love. So when I went to babysit my first nephew - who is now a grown man with two teenage daughters - there was a bookcase full of SF, mostly the works of Isaac Asimov.

It's not that I hadn't read any SF before, but the books I had read in my high school years were the classics, Verne and Wells, and an obscure writer called Donald Suddaby, whose two novels Prisoners Of Saturn and Lost Men In The Grass I had read when I was about twelve and just starting secondary school.

The rest of my fantastical reading was mythology - Greek for preference. I had also been reading historical fiction, including Arthur Koestler's The Gladiators and Darkness At Noon and the works of Howard Fast(who also wrote SF). So when I stayed up looking after little David and enjoying my sister's chocolate mousse, I opened her collection of Asimov books and read and read... That led to other SF. So in some ways, Isaac Asimov turned me into a science fiction fan. For that, I must thank him. I love other genres - historical, non-fiction, crime, both true and fiction - but for me, nothing says "sensawunda" like science fiction.

Thank you, Asimov!

And then there was today's birthday boy, J.R.R Tolkien. Happy birthday, Professor! It did take me a while to finish The Lord Of The Rings, but once I had, I found myself reading and rereading, and then finding any of his fiction and non-fiction I could get my hands on and reading that too.

In some ways, he is responsible for making me so very picky about fantasy. I love light and humorous fantasy like the works of Terrry Pratchett,  and I enjoy urban fantasy, like that of Charles De Lint. What I just can't read any more is the Fat Fantasy Trilogy. So many try to be like Tolkien and so far, in my opinion, anyway, none of them has succeeded. I'd mind less if there weren't so many book covers with "the best thing since Lord Of The Rings!" in big letters on them.

So - Asimov turned me into a science fiction fan and Tolkien turned me off most fantasy, even though I write the stuff (but not fat fantasy trilogies!).

Well done, both of you! And happy birthday!


Unknown said...

Hi Sue,

My uncle recommended the Foundation series to me - I must have been about 12 - and there was no looking back. I think I probably read ColSec Rebellion when I was a little younger but Asimov was the first of the Big Three. There are a few names that I'll have to run past you, albeit at another time!

Sue Bursztynski said...

So, you too became a fan via Asimov - nice to know!