Not too long ago, I watched an interview with Catherine Asaro over at Big Think. She was primarily talking about how she uses ideas in physics to guide her stories. This was certainly interesting (and it’s not quite what you may be thinking), but I was more struck by her Eureka moment story. (Stories, actually, but I’m only going to talk about one.) She was in the slower reading group in school until one day she devoured one of her older sister’s books. Then her parents and the school realized she’d just been bored—not slow. Asaro then discovered a series of stories about two kids going into space with their cat. That was her Eureka moment. That reading could be about these ideas—like space. She was fascinated with the idea of outer space and started devouring all the other science fiction in the kids’ section of the library. Now she’s not only a science fiction writer but also a theoretical physicist.
That's the impact science fiction can have on kids--and girls, in particular.
As a young kid, I think I got most of my sci-fi from TV. Twilight Zone. Star Trek. Doctor Who. But it was a Ray Bradbury short story, “The Playground,” that got me hooked on reading science fiction. The story’s about this insurance salesman father who fears the playground across the street. Playgrounds in general. I won’t give it away, but it’s a great childhood-as-nightmare story with a Twilight Zone kind of twist to it.
Bradbury dramatized the story for his TV show (circa 1985):
Though Bradbury wrote the screenplay, I don't think it was as good as the short story.
Something about that short story made me want to read more. It made me realize too how science fiction (and fantasy) could be about people AND ideas. I devoured all of Bradbury’s books—Fahrenheit 451, Martian Chronicles, etc.—and then moved onto harder stuff. Asimov. Heinlein. Le Guin. Herbert. So Bradbury was kind of my gateway drug … I mean author into science fiction.
What was your science fiction (or fantasy) Eureka moment? Who was your gateway author into the genre? Did your early reading inspire your career choice?