Ed's Place: "I ordered The Martian Chronicles, Groff Conklin's Thinking Machines and an Ace Double that I believe had an Eric Frank Russell short novel on one side."
A great post over at Ed's Place today, and one that a lot of writers will identify with. I certainly do. I'm just going to comment on one part of it here because it ties in with an earlier post of mine, and a comment of James Reasoner's attached to that same post. It's funny how science fiction grabbed all three of us when we were young.
After I discovered Heinlein, I went on to read several novels in the Winston SF series, and in keeping with my visual orientation, I can still look at the endpapers of those books and feel some of the old thrill. Wonderful stuff. I've mentioned the ones I owned in an earlier post, I'm sure.
And then there was Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter series. You'd be surprised how hard it was to get a copy of one of those books back in the middle 1950s. Not a one was in print in paperback. I found out about them by reading the comic books that were based on them, and then a friend of mine whose parents had more money than I did, and whose parents were more indulgent, started ordering the hardbacks from book dealers. He was kind enough to let me read them, but he owed me for having introduced him to SF in the first place.
The book that sealed my fate, however, was one of those fat anthologies by Groff Conklin. I'm not sure which one it was, but it was either The Science Fiction Omnibus or The Big Book of Science Fiction. The one with T. L. Sherred's "E for Effort" in it. What a great story! I read it two or three times in a row.
But I digress. It was by looking at the copyright page of the Conklin anthology that I learned that there were magazines publishing stories like the ones in the book. I went to the bookstore (and how great was it that in Mexia, Texas, in the 1950s, there was a real bookstore?) and found a copy of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Another life-changing experience, because on the two spinning racks of paperbacks near the magazines I found the wonderful Ace Doubles, the Gold Medal novels, and many more. Great days, indeed.