On discovering SFF and becoming a fan

Challenge accepted, Mr. Torgersen!

My very first crush was on Astro Boy, shortly followed by Speed Racer, shortly followed by Mr. Spock and Cmdr. Sulu. I should note that I was four when Astro Boy and Speed Racer stole my heart, and five when I discovered Star Trek.

By age six, my love of Star Trek got me into my first fannish fight. See, there were these boys in my first grade class who kept calling it โ€œStar TRACK.โ€ ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Yes, I was *that* girl.)

The Wizard of Oz was another favorite, and my friends and I played elaborate WoO make-believe on the playground. We were all faeries, you see, like Glinda, in the service of Mother Nature. There were also Bad Faeries who served Bad Mother Nature, and the idea for both Mother Natures came from a margarine commercial.

We traveled in bubbles, of course, and the first rule of the game was that you had to describe your bubble, then your dress.ย  (This was before the Princessification of Everything, so Glinda was as close as we got.) After that, the Good Faeries set about foiling the schemes of the Bad Faeries, and someone usually pretended to be a kitten before the game was over, which totally worked because rescuing kittens was *totally* a Good Faerie thing to do.

I still loved Star Trek, but I hadn’t yet discovered readable SFF. Maybe we didn’t have any in my small school library? Or I guess I had, since I’d read the Narnia and Wizard of Oz books, but I hadn’t mentally separated SFF from the folk tales and fairy tales that formed the bulk of my reading.

That all changed when we moved in the 4th grade. New school, new library. I was ahead of my new classmates in a couple of subjects, so the teacher excused me to the library. I knew I liked big fat books, so I made most of my selections by the width of the spine. Witch of the Glens was awesome. So was The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Then I found this odd book called The Hobbit. What the heck was a Hobbit?

After that, my SFF reading exploded. My mother was a jr. high English teacher, and she added Podkayne of Mars and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong to the likes of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and When the Legends Die. I stole her teacher copies and read them under my covers at night with a flashlight. Then I read everything else by those authors I could get my hands on.

At 16, I went to Brazil for a year, and my luggage limits only permitted me a few books. I took Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster of Hed series and about four Xanth books. I was deep in the interior, so books in English were rare as hen’s teeth, but I found Out of the Silent Planet in the private library of some American Benedectine nuns. About six months in, I could read well enough to buy Portuguese books, so I read Clifford Simak’s Irmandade do Talisman (Fellowship of the Talisman) and Heinlein’s Friday in Portuguese.

I’d started writing by then, too. Star Wars fan fiction, though it wasn’t called fanfic back then. See, I’d just seen Empire, and there was no way I was going to wait a WHOLE YEAR for the next movie, so I wrote an entire sequel, longhand, in pencil, in a spiral notebook. (I still have it, btw.) I also wrote lots of prologues. The best books had them, so clearly if I wanted to be a writer, I had to master the art of the prologue, right? Right?!?

The first writer I ever tried to imitate was Roger Zelazny, because Amber.

tl:dr?ย  I was hooked on Star Trek by the age of 5, then discovered Big, Fat Fantasy (TM) thanks to Tolkien in 4th grade.

 

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