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Although I read sci fi before age 11 (e.g., the New Tom Swift Jr. Adventures, The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree, Arthur D. Stapp's Five Who Disappeared), I fell for the genre after reading the Platt & Munk edition of The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and Selected Short Stories and the Charles Scribner's Sons edition of Robert A. Heinlein's Have Space Suit--Will Travel in 1966. By 1969, the point I entered high school, I had read all of Heinlein's work and had moved on to Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and many others (Captive Universe by Harry Harrison was a thrilling read). A major event in my life was joining the Science Fiction Book Club (US) in early 1969. The first club brochure I had, Things to Come, was for March/April 1969 (Clarke's The Lion of Comarre and Against the Fall of Night, and Poul Anderson's Seven Conquests: An Adventure in Science Fiction). The first genre magazine I read was the November 1968 issue of F&SF; I found every book reviewed by Judith Merril and read it: Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey, Samuel R. Delany's Nova, and R. A. Lafferty's The Reefs of Earth. I fondly recall two stories in that issue: Keith Laumer's Once There Was a Giant and Sterling E. Lanier's The Kings of the Sea. Seeing 2001 confirmed my interest in sci fi. I often say that everything I know I learned by age 14, or by the end of 1969. Much of what I learned was from my reading outside of the classroom. I do give the classroom credit for introducing me to Poe and Stevenson, and my 8th grade teacher lent me her copy of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Two Towers. I have dedicated the remainder of my life to sorting out the material I absorbed or first heard of in my teens.

Many youngsters start out reading sci fi but discontinue it within a few years, but I continued. My interest in sci fi led me to fandom and the presidency of the UT-El Paso Science Fiction Club in 1976-77. We started a convention called Solarcon in El Paso that brought in guests of honor such as Philip José Farmer (1975), George R. R. Martin (1976), and Michael Bishop (1977), the latter two getting their first GoH invites. I ended up doing a doctoral dissertation on Gothic narrative (U.S. Horror: Gothicism in the Work of William Faulkner, Thomas Pynchon, and Stanley Kubrick). After publishing articles on Robert Silverberg and Samuel R. Delany, I have reviewed many books on sci fi, fantasy and horror for Choice Magazine (a publication of the American Library Association).

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