As near as I can tell, I started reading science fiction in 1954 or so. As I look back at the lists of books from various authors, I realize that not much had happened before that time. Robert Heinlein published his first novel, Rocket Ship Galileo, in 1947. By 1955, he had written 12 books, including the Red Planet and Tunnel in the Sky.
If you thought that Star Gate was innovative, you probably haven't read Tunnel in the Sky. Many of Heinlein's books were social commentaries rather than space operas. I especially liked Methuselah's Children and The Door into Summer. Which I read shortly after they were published. There was no mechanism to publicize a new book written by an author, at least to a teenager living in a small town in Eastern Arizona all summer. I had no national radio stations and certainly no television. The only way I could find these books was if they showed up on the book racks in the drug stores or ended up in some library.
One thing about the future that none of the authors, including Heinlein, could foresee was the Internet and computers. Although there were some who envisioned modern forms of communication, no one could have predicted blogs and social networking. I find current life to be much more complicated and a lot less "modern" than depicted in the early scifi books.
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