Saturday, 30 June 2012

The first word: remembering the Golden Age legends of science fiction

I've been thinking about what to write for my inaugural blog for the past few days, but realized that what I wanted to say was close to my heart all along. Less than a month has gone by since we all learned about the passing of Ray Bradbury at the very distinguished age of 91. By my own estimation, and the estimations of many who truly appreciate science fiction, he was truly one of the greatest science fiction authors of the Golden Age of the genre.

It seems strange, how easy it is to simply go to a library or visit an online retailer to be privileged to have instant access to read the works of Bradbury, Asimov, Clarke, Heinlein, or Dick. We live in an age that is directly influenced by selected parts of all of their imaginations, yet some of our closest family members and friends do not seem to know their works as well as one might think. Their words and visions of the future continue to astound readers, and it's hard to believe that these great thinkers are all gone from this Earth. But it's not a cliche: as long as they're still in print or in data, their ideas will never die.

As I prepare to self-publish my first science fiction novel, highly uncertain as to whether or not there will ever be another, my mind is occupied by the works of these and other legendary sci-fi authors. The sheer magnitude of inspiration and critical thought that they contributed to help shape the world we live in is staggering. Satellites, personal computers, mobile phones, space travel, the Internet, and that's not even close to everything they inspired. The very list could be it's own literary work.

In my teen years, I used to spend hours upon hours at home or in the public libraries and parks of Whittier, California reading the works of the Golden Age greats and many others. At the time, I could hardly imagine that one day I would possibly have the nerve or the ability to complete my own work, nor did I imagine what an incredible impact that reading their works would have on my life. Other than entertainment value, reading science fiction from an early age vastly improved my vocabulary and critical thinking skills. It nourished my young mind when I felt otherwise uninspired by the curriculum of a quickly diminishing public education system. It was also an escape from a real world that frequently fell short of my expectations of what the future should hold: The 2600. The Challenger disaster and the shuttles put on hiatus. MTV. Dial up BBS computing. NASA maladministration and budget cuts. The end of Pan Am before they pioneered passenger service to the moon. The end of the Cold War and the loss of robust competition in space. Programming in BASIC and C+. Years of marginal upgrades to the capabilities of computer operating systems. Sigh.

Back then, I still had high hopes that maybe one day I might have the opportunity to have met Mr. Bradbury or one of the others and ask them some questions about their works, but it never happened. Now, in reflection, I think that these 'meetings' may have happened after all. In the years before I began to craft and develop the world of my first novel, I was drawn to reread the greats before I decided that maybe I was long overdue to give it a go. I realized that rereading some of their works had answered many of my earlier questions that I had for them, and that I was ready to try to generate some questions and answers of my own.

I am sure that I won't be the last would-be author to be inspired by these legendary figures, and hope that any of you reading this will make it a priority to rediscover some of their works one day soon, especially if you have not yet read many of them recently.

I know that I will again revisit these authors one day, at least after I finish editing my work and take my big shot in today's competitive science fiction marketplace. But I know that I'll always want to go back to my favorite authors and novels to see what my old friends are getting up to.

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