I'm not a huge science fiction fan. Oh, I like me some sci-fi, but I'm not like some of the sci-fi fans I've seen.
Star Trek and Star Wars (the 1977-83 movies), of course. I also enjoyed most of the shows or movies I saw that involved space travel or time travel. But, I was never a big reader of science fiction short stories or novels, except for the writings of Isaac Asimov. So, I'd call myself a casual fan of the genre, but I'm probably a little more serious about it than many.
Most of my sci-fi, as I said, was TV or movies. Some of the ones I watched as a child and remember were The Angry Red Planet (not really a good movie, but entertaining to a kid), The Time Tunnel (Irwin Allen junk, but kid-fun), The Thing from Another World (James Arness as a killer vegetable), The War of the Worlds (I still enjoy watching that) ... Oh, I could go on and on.
Reading sci-fi, though, wasn't something I did a lot. Ender's Game (read it a long time ago), Enemy Mine (long before it became a movie), The Andromeda Strain (read the book before I saw the old movie), Who Goes There? (the story that became "The Thing" movies) ... and tons of Isaac Asimov books.
My science fiction reading began in elementary school. Remember Scholastic Books? Those little cheap paperbacks you could order at school? Well, I saw one that I thought I wanted. It was titled Beyond Belief and it was a collection of eight science fiction short stories. So, I shelled out the 45¢ and ordered the book.
While it wasn't the first science fiction I read -- I think I read Asimov's The Fun They Had in class -- it was the first science fiction book I owned.
I loved it. The stories were all pretty good, and, best of all, it was mine! I could read it any time I wanted. And I wanted to a lot. I took it to school every day. I took it everywhere but to church ... because I left it in the car when I went in to Sunday School.
Then, one day, it was gone. I don't know what happened. Maybe I dropped it. Maybe somebody took it. Maybe it fell into another dimension. Whatever happened, it was gone.
I cried. Really. I cried myself to sleep. I was heartbroken.
Eventually, I got over it. Mostly. I bought some other science fiction books along and along. Some novels, but mostly anthologies. Best of the Hugos and such. But I always missed my first science fiction book.
I found Beyond Belief on a Website of close-out books. In fact, the Website said its online store was closed, but it still had a link to an email address. I emailed, and inquired, saying that the Website showed it was still available. The operator of the Website answered my query and said if I'd send him the money, he'd send me the book. So, I did.
The book arrived today.
It's the same little book I remember. I've already re-read a couple of the stories, and I'll read the rest soon.
I'm a kid again.