What was the first science fiction or fantasy book did you ever read and how did it change you?


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Scarab Sages

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The Hero and the Crown

It is the earliest fantasy novel I can remember reading on my own motivation. Epic fantasy, strong female protagonist, dragons. It was awesome. And it was long and worth a whole 9 weeks of accelerated reader points.

After that I was hooked on the genre. I read every fantasy novel our middle school library had, then did the same in high school.


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My first instinct was to say I read "The Silmarillion" and then "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" first, when I was about 14, but then I think I read "Die Unendliche Geschichte" ("The Neverending Story") and "The Brothers Lionheart" even earlier, both of which should count as fantasy. The latter was first probably on account of it being a few years older.


Sci Fi - Aasimov probably I, Robot.
Fantasy - Baum - Wizard of Oz.

Most profound effect. Arthur Clark "A Slight Case of Sunstroke." which showed sci-fi stuff was possible.


We've talked a bit about how there's often a pretty smooth transition from kid's books into fantasy. From fairy tales or many picture book and YA fantasy to adult fantasy is a pretty straight line. A lot of YA fantasy is perfectly readable by adults

Is there anything similar for science fiction? Almost nothing I can think of on the young end of the spectrum and even in YA there seems to be a dearth of SF. I know Heinlein wrote some juveniles back in his early days, some of which hold up pretty well. Would the old Tom Swift books qualify as SF?


Yes, Tom Swift is science fiction. I read several of those in elementary school, then got diverted onto the more mundane Hardy Boys before circling back to Asimov and some others years later.


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One day, I went to Mama and asked her to read to me; but she said no, she was busy cooking dinner.

So I went to Daddy, and asked him to read to me; but he said no, he had brought some work home that he really had to finish.

They had been reading The Wizard of Oz to me. So I went to the living room and opened the book and stared at it until I heard voices in my head. I was two chapters further in before I looked up to find them both standing behind the couch and peering down over my shoulder with enormous beaming smiles on their faces. I was in kindergarten at the time.

As for the effect it had on me -- well, my whole life as a reader I've always found female protagonists much more interesting than male protagonists. So I think I must have imprinted on Dorothy.


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I read The Hobbit circa 1985, and it was no doubt responsible for getting me to read more fantasy and subsequently playing RPGs.


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thejeff wrote:

We've talked a bit about how there's often a pretty smooth transition from kid's books into fantasy. From fairy tales or many picture book and YA fantasy to adult fantasy is a pretty straight line. A lot of YA fantasy is perfectly readable by adults

Is there anything similar for science fiction? Almost nothing I can think of on the young end of the spectrum and even in YA there seems to be a dearth of SF.

In my childhood, Star Wars got me into science fiction, and I pursued quite a few science fiction books, but those books didn't generally stand the test of time; many are not in print anymore.

I remember reading The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree and its four sequels by Louis Slobodkin. I think that The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet and its four sequels by Eleanor Cameron might still be in print. I remember Alfred Slote's My Robot Buddy and some of its sequels. I read some of Slote's other SF too, like Clone Catcher. Barney and the UFO by Margaret Goff Clark may also still be in print. I was never a fan of the Danny Dunn books, but some kids in my school liked them.

After a while, I outgrew children's books. But years after that, I outgrew the need to feel that I had outgrown things, so I started looking into some children's SF books again. I read My Teacher is an Alien and its three sequels by Bruce Coville. I think those are still in print. They didn't impress me much, so I never read Coville's I was a Sixth Grade Alien series, but I think those are still in print too.

All that's just off the top of my head; I'm sure there are many more. But I think that fantasy is more popular.


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Aaron Bitman wrote:
thejeff wrote:

We've talked a bit about how there's often a pretty smooth transition from kid's books into fantasy. From fairy tales or many picture book and YA fantasy to adult fantasy is a pretty straight line. A lot of YA fantasy is perfectly readable by adults

Is there anything similar for science fiction? Almost nothing I can think of on the young end of the spectrum and even in YA there seems to be a dearth of SF.

In my childhood, Star Wars got me into science fiction, and I pursued quite a few science fiction books, but those books didn't generally stand the test of time; many are not in print anymore.

I remember reading The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree and its four sequels by Louis Slobodkin. I think that The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet and its four sequels by Eleanor Cameron might still be in print. I remember Alfred Slote's My Robot Buddy and some of its sequels. I read some of Slote's other SF too, like Clone Catcher. Barney and the UFO by Margaret Goff Clark may also still be in print. I was never a fan of the Danny Dunn books, but some kids in my school liked them.

After a while, I outgrew children's books. But years after that, I outgrew the need to feel that I had outgrown things, so I started looking into some children's SF books again. I read My Teacher is an Alien and its three sequels by Bruce Coville. I think those are still in print. They didn't impress me much, so I never read Coville's I was a Sixth Grade Alien series, but I think those are still in print too.

All that's just off the top of my head; I'm sure there are many more. But I think that fantasy is more popular.

I'd forgotten about Danny Dunn, though I know I read some of them. I remember the Mushroom Planet books, but not the others you mention.

The Exchange

The first sci-fi I remember reading was The Tripods, by John Christopher. Another sci-fi juvenile novel that impressed me was The Giver, by Lois Lowry. My first fantasy novel was probably The Hobbit. The first sci-fi novel that changed my worldview was Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. That was the first time I’d read any sci-fi that had narration from an alien’s viewpoint, instead of an Earthling’s.

The Exchange

I also read a lot of Ray Bradbury. My parents had a huge anthology of his short stories I would read from, and that’s probably what got me into science fiction more than anything else.


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Zeugma wrote:
The first sci-fi I remember reading was The Tripods, by John Christopher.

Oh yeah, I read that. Decades after the original trilogy came out, the author wrote a prequel, When the Tripods Came.

The Exchange

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Albatoonoe wrote:
My first was "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" by Jules Verne, and I love it to this day. there is something about this journey into the unknown led by character that is intimately familiar that I will always like. I guess that it allows the in-depth explanations if how so much more digestible and natural.

Also one of my favorites! I read it on a camping trip to the beach in college. I finished it under the glow of a flashlight while the waves were crashing wildly against the shore just after sunset over the Pacific and I felt like I could almost look out and see The Nautilus breaching in the surf.


There were the Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf gamebooks as well, but I can't remember at what stage I started reading those. Probably not first of all, although they were in the (Middle?) school library.


Zeugma wrote:
I also read a lot of Ray Bradbury. My parents had a huge anthology of his short stories I would read from, and that’s probably what got me into science fiction more than anything else.

Was it The Stories of Ray Bradbury? My parents got me that for my 10th birthday. My god, but that book messed my head up (in the good way).

I have to give an honorable mention to Amazing Spider-Man #200, even though I don't think it quite fits the parameters of "sci fi/fantasy" under discussion here. Peter Parker confronts the robber that killed his uncle, and getting to see him rip off his mask and yell at that guy was such a satisfying moment...


Redblade8 wrote:
I have to give an honorable mention to Amazing Spider-Man #200, even though I don't think it quite fits the parameters of "sci fi/fantasy" under discussion here. Peter Parker confronts the robber that killed his uncle, and getting to see him rip off his mask and yell at that guy was such a satisfying moment...

Gee. Your mention of the matter made me curious enough to look it up in the Marvel Wiki here. It says that...

Amazing Spider-Man #200:
...Spider-Man defeated the Burglar, who died of a heart attack brought on by his sheer terror of Spider-Man. I mean... similar things happened to Joe Chill and Lew Moxon, but they didn't die of fright from seeing Batman.

Redblade8 wrote:
Zeugma wrote:
I also read a lot of Ray Bradbury. My parents had a huge anthology of his short stories I would read from, and that’s probably what got me into science fiction more than anything else.

Was it The Stories of Ray Bradbury? My parents got me that for my 10th birthday. My god, but that book messed my head up (in the good way).

I have to give an honorable mention to Amazing Spider-Man #200, even though I don't think it quite fits the parameters of "sci fi/fantasy" under discussion here. Peter Parker confronts the robber that killed his uncle, and getting to see him rip off his mask and yell at that guy was such a satisfying moment...

Comic in general were a big part of my childhood - starting with a bunch of my father's old 1940's & 50s Disney stuff (Talking animals are fantasy, right?) that I inherited and moving on to superhero stuff a bit later when I could buy my own.

Thor was a big early favorite of mine, especially the more fantasy trips to Asgard.


Aaron Bitman wrote:
Gee. Your mention of the matter made me curious enough to look it up in the Marvel Wiki here.

If memory serves, it wasn't even "defeat" so much as "confront"; I think at the time, Peter was minus his spider-powers on account of a huuuuuge tranquilizer dose he'd gotten from Mysterio.


You're saying that Peter just put on an ACT that frightened the burglar to death? Holy crap.


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Again, going from memory, so bear with me...

Suddenly I'm nine again...:
Both the Burglar and Mysterio were after some gangster's stash/hoard/whatever you want to call it, which they had both determined had been hidden in the walls of Aunt May's house. At some point prior to this, I think the Burglar might have confronted Peter, as Peter, and thus knew who he was. Subsequently, when Spidey tracks him down and sounds like he's taking things very personally, he asks Spidey why he cares so damn much. At which, Spidey rips his mask off and screams, "I CARE BECAUSE BEN PARKER WAS MY UNCLE!"

God I loved that scene.

What?

No I'm not crying, you're crying. Shut up.

(turns around, sniffles)


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The Hobbit, think I was 10, so 1990, was the first fantasy I read, but a year later it was The Legend of Huma, that did the trick, the hooks were in, got Gram's to by me a Black Box for Christmas that year and long and behold 26 years later, I co-own a 3pp and player PF weekly. :)

Thanks 6th grade (I think) English teacher for having that book on your shelf, and letting me barrow it!

Oh, and I do own every Pathfinder, TSR, and WotC fantasy and sci-fi novel every written, took 25 years to accomplish actually. Lots of bookshelves in this guys office!

Sovereign Court

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archmagi1 wrote:

The Hero and the Crown

It is the earliest fantasy novel I can remember reading on my own motivation. Epic fantasy, strong female protagonist, dragons. It was awesome. And it was long and worth a whole 9 weeks of accelerated reader points.

After that I was hooked on the genre. I read every fantasy novel our middle school library had, then did the same in high school.

I adored The Blue Sword.

And now you’ve given me something new to read!

Thank you


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I had a false memory of having read the first sequel to A Wrinkle in Time at the same library where I read the original, but a check of the publication date of that sequel shows that that could not have happened. Then again, how would I have known at the time I read all those books which one of them would prove to be a classic? My main memory from that book is an illustration of a string and an insect showing how space/time bending worked.

The Exchange

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Redblade8 wrote:
Zeugma wrote:
I also read a lot of Ray Bradbury. My parents had a huge anthology of his short stories I would read from, and that’s probably what got me into science fiction more than anything else.
Was it The Stories of Ray Bradbury? My parents got me that for my 10th birthday. My god, but that book messed my head up (in the good way).

Yes. That very book. I had to go to the bookshelf and thank goodness I did because now I see it’s an autographed copy! Signed by Ray Bradbury to my mom in 1980!


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Zeugma wrote:
Redblade8 wrote:
Zeugma wrote:
I also read a lot of Ray Bradbury. My parents had a huge anthology of his short stories I would read from, and that’s probably what got me into science fiction more than anything else.
Was it The Stories of Ray Bradbury? My parents got me that for my 10th birthday. My god, but that book messed my head up (in the good way).
Yes. That very book. I had to go to the bookshelf and thank goodness I did because now I see it’s an autographed copy! Signed by Ray Bradbury to my mom in 1980!

That's freaking awesome. About fifteen years ago, I loaned my copy to a buddy, and, seeing that it was in unbelievably bad shape, he did me a surprise solid, and had it rebound for me. The catch is, the rebind got rid of the "Dear Redblade, happy birthday, Love Mom and Dad" that was inside the front cover. :(

When I got that book, I flipped through the ToC, and, being a ten-year-old boy, saw a story titled "Tyrannosaurus Rex", and jumped right to that. "Huh, well that wasn't very strange..." Then I think I read something like, "The Skeleton," and that was a figurative sofa thrown through the plate-glass window of my sanity.

Good times.


Aaron Bitman wrote:
I think that The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet and its four sequels by Eleanor Cameron might still be in print.

Oh, yeah, I remember reading those.


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If it is the story about clay animation, Tyrannosaurus Rex is still a great story, though.


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The time machine was the first I can remember. got me reading so many other sci-fi and fantasy books. I think i ended up reading the dragon rider of pern series next. starting with the harper hall trilogy. after then LOTR.


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Read the first Shannara in the Libary with nine. After that it was getting to the book stores for new fodder.

Moorcock was a favourite but i still remember reading Karl Edward Wagners Kane with twelve and thinking "Where is the good guy in this?"^^


Sissyl wrote:
If it is the story about clay animation, Tyrannosaurus Rex is still a great story, though.

It is, and it is, but it's of a different tone than I'd been led to expect.

The Exchange

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The one I remember reading was The Hobbit. But as I considered it 'science-fiction' at the time (I had never heard of the term 'fantasy) I suspect I must have read other stuff before that. I also read the Narnia stuff around that time as well ('A Horse and his Boy' was my favorite of those). My older brother was into science fiction and that probably shaped my literary tastes.


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Gotta say...nostalgic and a bit emotional reading these and sharing my own tale, all these stories of inspiration are EXACTLY why I love books, Sci-Fi and Fantasy most of all, keep on sharing.

and to quote a certain someone...

"I am not crying, you're crying, shut up!"

Scarab Sages

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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Since comic books was mentioned earlier, my first one was Superboy #215 Starring the Legion of Super Heroes.
It has a March 1976 cover date, so I probably got it in January 1976.
This was most likely my first foray into scifi/fantasy.


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Charles Scholz wrote:

Since comic books was mentioned earlier, my first one was Superboy #215 Starring the Legion of Super Heroes.

It has a March 1976 cover date, so I probably got it in January 1976.
This was most likely my first foray into scifi/fantasy.

LONG LIVE THE LEGION


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Terquem wrote:
Dune - I spent the next thirty years believing I was smarter than everyone else

Heh. I suspect it had that effect on a lot of us.


Freehold DM wrote:
Charles Scholz wrote:

Since comic books was mentioned earlier, my first one was Superboy #215 Starring the Legion of Super Heroes.

It has a March 1976 cover date, so I probably got it in January 1976.
This was most likely my first foray into scifi/fantasy.
LONG LIVE THE LEGION

And Mike Grell's Legion of Superheroes in particular!

Shadow Lodge

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Aaron Bitman wrote:
Zeugma wrote:
The first sci-fi I remember reading was The Tripods, by John Christopher.
Oh yeah, I read that. Decades after the original trilogy came out, the author wrote a prequel, When the Tripods Came.

Oh wow. I remember that. That... that might have been my first, actually, before Xanth and Dragon's Egg. I vaguely remember reading it in fourth or fifth grade, whereas the others were in junior high.

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I guess, to me it all started with Grimms' fairy tales, that my mother used to read to me and my younger brother before we went to sleep. I must have been around five when we got the Narnia books as a gift and they became a major motivation for me to learn to read (probably one of the reasons I could read before I even went to school). But while I read nearly everything that I got in my hands, it would take a while before I really fell for fantasy literature as a genre. The real key moment came when I was around 13 and we went visit an uncle of mine who gave me, when I was bored and asked him about something to read, the first part of the LoTR trilogy. Well, I only had three days to get through the whole trilogy, and while I succeeded, I remember that when I read them the next time, there were whole chapters that I had totally forgotten about. But it was these three days that made me into a huge fan of all things fantasy.

As far as Science Fiction is concerned, I'm not quite sure about it (I know that before I read anything, I already had seen the captain Future anime and some episodes of Star Trek: ToS. It might have been something by Jules Verne, but the first thing I really remember that I read at a very young age was Orwell's 1984, which was printed in our newspaper over the course of the same year. Around the same time, a schoolfriend started to draw very detailed spaceships, and when I asked him about it, he showed me an issue of Perry Rhodan, which is a german sci-fi series that started in 1961 and has told a continuing weekly story since then. From then on, I used to read anything I could find in our local library, which inlcuded Alan Burt Aker's Dray Prescott series, Zimmer Bradley's Darkover cycle, C.J.Cherryh, Robert Silverberg and other classics of the genre.

And I can't even say how all that stuff did change me because I can't remember a time before reading was the single most important thing to me. And that all started with my mom reading to us Grimms' fairy tales.


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I don't know if it's exactly science fiction but I got addicted to Jules Verne's books by the age of 7 and I read all he had written but a couple of books they didn't have in the public library within 3 months.
I got part of my passion for science from there (though I mostly blame a cartoon about the human body for that) and it helped me further my imagination and my will to discover new things. I was also a fan of Captain Nemo for choosing to live under his own rules xD

About fantasy, it had to be The Neverending Story by the age of 8, maybe 9. Fujur was the first dragon that I fell in love with, and after him there came a lot more!


Jules Verne is Science Fiction. Hey, Kile. Doing okay?


I think Jules Verne counts as sci fi so many of his books are about traveling to place people haven't been including the moon! sounds sci-fi to me.


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First fantasy book I remember was a Barbapapa book where Barbapapa and his family overcome a legion of out-of-control wrecking machines that were hell-bent on destroying Barbapapa's home. At the time I lived near a big container terminal, that made resounding *booms* at night, and could see smokestacks belching smoke etc - the archetypal industrial doomscape to a small child.The simple ecological/technological-peril tale of the peacenik Barbapapa-folk fighting for their home stuck with me for the rest of my life.


John Napier 698 wrote:
Jules Verne is Science Fiction. Hey, Kile. Doing okay?

Yeah, really fine. Just getting into so many things at the same time that I end not being able to socialize a lot hahaha

I have seen almost 2000 undread messages in FAWTL and I think I should get up to date! But then I never find the time.

Aside from seeing the old friends I am not finding a lot of topics here that really catch my attention lately, so I am not posting a lot.

Miss the chatter and the forum games though. And Gran Rey's puns!!!


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Oceanshieldwolf wrote:
First fantasy book I remember was a Barbapapa book where Barbapapa and his family overcome a legion of out-of-control wrecking machines that were hell-bent on destroying Barbapapa's home. At the time I lived near a big container terminal, that made resounding *booms* at night, and could see smokestacks belching smoke etc - the archetypal industrial doomscape to a small child.The simple ecological/technological-peril tale of the peacenik Barbapapa-folk fighting for their home stuck with me for the rest of my life.

That was the one I fetched every morning to my grandma so she could read it to three year old me.


I read Tolkien/CS Lewis at an indeterminateearly age because they were lying round the house.

The first actual SF I remember reading was Andre Norton's Solar Queen / Free Trader novels, which were in the kids section of the local library. I then read everything about spaceships I could find, and desperately wanted to be an astronaut.

As for the impact it had ... SF and Fantasy led to roleplaying which led to meeting my life partner. So that's a pretty major impact....


So many titles I see here and I say "Hey! I remember that book!". C. S. Lewis,Asimov,Verne, Clarke, Wells, Bradbury,The Mushroom Planet series. When I was in Elementary School we had the Scholastic Book Club that allowed us to get books super cheap. My parents fostered a love for the written word and would purchase any and all books I wanted. Loved the thrill of having them brought to class and handed to us. One other book that I haven't seen mentioned was about a boy that fell through a door on his planet and landed on earth. But I truly enjoyed being able to find all these books again to read to my children and pass the love of reading to them.


Guys, I've checked the thread and as I see a lot of people used to read Ray Bradbury. I must confess - it was the only writer I really loved.
He totally changed my life. The Veldt, Dandelion Vine, The Pedestrian - all these books are my favorite. I used his fiction books as a topic for my essay works here during my college/school years. He made my life brighter :) I still read it when I have some free time.


Capt Mutt wrote:
One other book that I haven't seen mentioned was about a boy that fell through a door on his planet and landed on earth.

The Forgotten Door by Alexander Key?


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The Dragonlance Chronicles.

They taught me not to get attached to literary characters because they will either die a tragically heroic death or just die suddenly of a heart attack for absolutely no reason at all.


For me, it begins with comic books. Then children's books. I read a lot of the books mentioned in this thread (Wrinkle in Time, At least 2 of the Mushroom Planet books, the Forgotten Door). A couple others stick with me, though I've forgotten the titles. One concerned a boy who lived in a sea floor base, a kind of mole monster that lived beneath the sea bed, and a spy named "Mr Lilibulero" or something like that. The other involved the discovery and resucitation of an intelligent reptile man, in suspended animation since the days of the dinosaurs. The action then moved to other survivors of this reptilian race living far underground in conditions of tremendous heat and pressure.
After that I read all the science fiction in my local library, and the old classics (Verne, Wells), then the later classics (Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke). Fantasy wasn't really a thing for me until age 12 or so. I read the Conan books, Lewis' Space Trilogy, LotR, and more and more...

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