I’ve Been Reflecting
As a kid, I loved science fiction. We were a Star Trek household. My father was a science teacher, and he loved any kind of gadget or gizmo: wire recorders, antique Victrolas, Corvettes and, his personal favorite, telescopes.
If you had asked me as a kindergartner what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer would have been, “astronaut.” My father would take us stargazing every year. Gazing at the Milky Way through a ten foot long telescope on a chilly black night, finding the Big Dipper and following the arc to Arcturus, examining the moon with such definition it was as if I could just reach up and pluck it out of the sky; these are the things I grew up with. I knew every constellation in the Northern Sky.
Orion was my favorite, his belt and sword certainly inspiration for any ten year old’s imagination. The Pleiades, otherwise known as the seven sisters, were my father’s. He knew the magnitude (brightness) of each star, but I’m certain he also pictured them as beautiful women, dancing in the sky.
Reading with my eyes closed.
My father would read Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine every night before bed, with his glasses low on his nose. If I caught him sleeping this way, he’d say, “Just reading with my eyes closed.” And he did read these stories, working his way through the stacks on the floor beside his bed.
Recently, I took a stack of these magazines home with me, and started reading them. I purchased my own subscription to Asimov’s. I have always enjoyed reading science fiction, and have been working on writing a middle grade that fits the bill.
While my father was looking up at the sky, my mother would be creating; clay, paintings, exploding barrette bombs, costumes. We would make up games together, like Imagination Match. The rules were simple, flip the card and try to get a matching pair. The only catch was that the cards were imaginary. Somehow we managed to remember where all of the invisible cards were. My mother taught me that anything is possible, that my imagination is limitless. It’s no wonder when I started writing, I started with fantasy.
My parents paved the way for my imagination, and I am endlessly grateful for that. As a teacher, I hope to instill that wonder of the world, excitement over imaginary things, and endless possibilities in my students. As a writer, I want to expand the universe just a little bit, reach into that great beyond, and find a really good adventure.
Did you have anyone who inspired your writing style and/or philosophy of the universe? Feel free to add to the Writers’ Rumpus!
Great post. I grew up with Doctor Who and Star Wars, and I’ve loved sci-fi ever since. I think it’s frequently an under-valued genre, which is a shame. Stories set in space can be a powerful stimulation to young imaginations – the possibilities in the story-telling are literally endless. There’s also great educational value. I think and hope that, with the growing excitement about Mars and the upcoming 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon – not to mention the reboot of a certain movie franchise – sci-fi might be the next big thing once more.
I loved this post! I grew up on Star Trek and starry skies, too. It works its way into much of my writing, even though I’m not writing science fiction.
Hi Alison. I did not grow up surrounded by science fiction, but I find your post intriguing anyway. Your parents provided a good creative environment for you, obviously! We’ve just returned from Acadia National Park, one of the ten best places in the continental US to see stars because there’s very little light pollution. At Sand Beach one night we gazed at the Milky Way while a Park Ranger and an astronomer pointed out the stars and constellations. You were lucky to grow up with that!
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My sister and I were very lucky to grow up gazing at the stars. Your trip to Acadia NP sounds amazing. There’s nothing like looking at the stars with no light pollution. Thanks for sharing!
I was also raised on sci-fi and I LOVE it!
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Hi Alison, I was raised on sci-fi too! It’s had a big influence on me–not the only one, but major. Thanks for another great post.
Thanks Marianne! New job, new school year, new stories to write, I needed to take a step back for a moment and remember my roots.
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