The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes
When most people talk about science fiction, they can point to a certain movie or television series as their introduction to the genre. Not me. We didn’t always have a working television growing up, and since my college class was the first to use VDT (video display terminals–the precursor to modern desktop computers), let’s just say Star Trek wasn’t my first love in junior high.
I found science fiction through books: lovely pages of black and white type, rich in description, lavish in character, and dripping with adventure and excitement. Better than chocolate for a girl stuck in rural America, whose main reading fare up until then was Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series.
I wish I could remember the first sci fi book I opened. Perhaps it was Ray Bradbury’s R is for Rocket or maybe Julia Sauer’s Fog Magic. It could have been some other book from some other universe that whisked me away into the limitless world of imagination. Science fiction became my escape from reality and I never looked back.
The earlier writers of sci fi’s Golden Age–Andre Norton’s Beast Master, H. Beam Piper’s Four Day Planet and Lone Star Planet, Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit Will Travel primarily–set the tone for my own writing style. I read every Tom Corbett adventure I could get my hands on–still re-read them. For me, these are the marks of a quality story; not the technology, not the fantastical worlds, but stories about people, ordinary people who are living in extraordinary places.
So don’t look for exhaustive details on how technology works, or why a planet is in the mess it’s in, or all the background for a character’s life story in one of my novels. It won’t be there. Like the masters I adore, I drop my characters in the middle of their worlds where things work without explanation (do you know how your computer works or do you just use it?) Do look for a world and characters that will suck you in like a black hole and never let you go. For that is the charm of sci fi’s golden age books. Yes, we know more about the universe and how life and technology works. But if the characters and story are memorable, I’ll return to that world again and again, even though rationally I know Venus doesn’t support life and that man cannot (yet) break the speed of light.
Books are the ultimate time travel and I plan on traveling for a long, long time.