I began reading science fiction at an extremely early age. I believe I was somewhere between eight and ten years old when I read my first science fiction book. It was an anthology of stories called ďThe Astounding Science Fiction AnthologyĒ and was just sitting on my parents bookshelf in the living room. I borrowed it, and quickly read it from cover to cover. I was enthralled immediately! This was wonderful stuff. I read the stories again and again, until I had practically memorized them.
For a few months, this was my only science fiction book. Eventually I noticed some of the paperbacks at the local stores had interesting covers, and I finally convinced my parents to purchase some for me. Surprise, surprise, they were the same kind of books! Again, I read them from cover to cover.
While I was reading one of the books, a flyer about the Science Fiction Book Club fell out onto the floor. That looked very interesting, and the books didnít seem very expensive, so I sent away for some. In a few months I received my initial shipment. That was an exciting day!
For the next few years I spent most of my available money on science fiction books (and games, but thatís another story). Before long I had a collection of over 50 books, and it was growing quite rapidly.
In those days I had more time on my hands and I read most of the books from cover to cover. I knew all of the authors, and could tell whose book it was simply by reading the first few pages.
One day my parents brought me along with them to the local Arts Book Store. I looked around, and found some science fiction magazines. Wow! More good stuff to read. Unfortunately, I didnít purchase any magazines yet. I didnít purchase any used science fiction magazines from Artís bookstore until a few more years had passed.
Then I noticed that the local Alpha Beta market had some Analog magazines on their rack. I began reading them, and started purchasing them regularly. Finally, I subscribed, and Iíve been receiving that magazine ever since.
But the first science fiction magazine I purchased was from the San Bernardino swap meet. This occurred every weekend, and my parents and I used to go their fairly regularly. One day, while we were there, I noticed some interesting looking magazines, and purchased one or two. I believe the magazine was called ďFantastic StoriesĒ. It was wonderful, and I read it several times.
By the time we moved to Lake Arrowhead a few years later, I had compiled quite a collection of science fiction books and magazines. Perhaps as many as a hundred books and thirty or so magazines. I was very happy with this collection.
After I got my first real job at the Liquor Cabinet, my collection began to increase in size quite rapidly. I was purchasing all of the science fiction magazines on the market (all four of them), and was purchasing all of the science fiction (and fantasy) books I could afford. I always had a book or two coming in the mail from the science fiction book club.
My collection stalled after I moved out of my parents house due to a general lack of funds. During this time, I purchased a book or so a month from the science fiction book club, and perhaps two or three books a month from the bookstore. I simply couldnít afford anymore.
Until I began to make the big bucks in 1990. Then my collection simply exploded! I began purchasing every single book that was published each month, as well as subscribing to all of the magazines and fanzines (perhaps 20 science fiction or fantasy related publications a month). My collection quickly doubled in size, and then doubled again, and again.
I was getting bored with this medium, however, and even though I continued to purchase vast amounts of material, I read less and less. It all seemed to follow the same pattern - over and over and over again.
I finally canceled my membership in the Science Fiction Book Club after they raised their prices one time too many. Purchasing from the bookstore eventually became almost as cheap and certainly less trouble.
I continued to purchase as many science fiction and fantasy books as I can. I purchased an average of twenty to thirty books each month, and I subscribed to all three of the major science fiction magazines. I purchased science fiction movies as often as I could, and watch all of the old and new greats.
However, the magic simply isnít there anymore. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, I lost the wonderment and excitement that I used to have about this medium. Itís a shame, because I really had many, many hours of enjoyment from reading these stories.
Now, years later, I purchase perhaps half a dozen science fiction books a year and I haven't opened a fantasy or science fiction magazine in years. Too much too do, too little time, and science fiction just isn't on the priority list anymore.
Perhaps, someday, Iíll be able to enjoy them again. We shall see.
Unless otherwise noted, all photos and text is Copyright © Richard G Lowe, Jr.