Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Pebble in the Sky -- the start of a journey unfinished

In 1950 Isaac Asimov published his first novel, A Pebble in the Sky. I am not certain how I came about to have a copy of this book, but I first read the book in about 1954 or 1955. This was my introduction to the world of science fiction. From that time to the present, I have been a science fiction fan. During that time of my life, I would spend the entire summers reading books. Two or three times a week, I would get on my bike and ride to the Phoenix Public Library, then on the corner of McDowell Road and Central Avenue, and check out the maximum number of books allowed. After pedaling home, I would read all the books and then make the return trip.

Since my favorite books were in the science fiction section, eventually, I read almost every science fiction book in the library. This ended the first phase of my science fiction reading. Since I didn't have any more books to read, I read everything else in the library. (Not all the books, but about every subject).

The second phase of my science fiction reading came in my later teens, when I had access to other libraries and other books. However, by that time, a significant portion of the so-called "science fiction" had become objectionable in many ways, usually bad language or inappropriate themes and story lines. This continued into my later years. Every so often I would find a book worth reading, but science fiction, as a genre had fragmented into what is now referred to as fantasy/science fiction. I basically stopped reading any significant amount of fiction, to speak of, about twenty years or more ago.

In going back, every so often, and re-reading some of the early science fiction books, I now fail to see their attraction. Although some are well written, most of the stories no longer hold my interest. I guess that they cannot compete with real life. In some ways the technology has gone so much further than almost all of the books that they seem quaint, like Jules Verne and his hollow earth. On the other hand, the space books have, so far, vastly under estimated both the time table and the cost of space travel to society as a whole. None of the faster than light travel ideas have turned out to be viable, especially the star gates.

I am still in the market for a good science fiction story, but I don't see anything coming down the pike and I am not really interested in the endless Chronicle type fantasy books that seem to dominate the shelf space in the libraries.

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