Clifford D. Simak and The Visitors

Chapter Five

Gordon R. Dickson: A Natural-Born Lecturer


The first real books that I remember reading when I was a kid—books without big type and pictures—were the space adventures of Robert Heinlein, Alan E. Nourse, and Isaac Asimov, as well as the Tom Swift series. Here I was, an ordinary youngster of the 1960s, zooming off to the planets and stars to have all manner of amazing adventures. How great was that? The summer vacation was a particularly pleasurable time to hike (or bike) off to the public library and pick out science fiction (SF) extravaganzas with which to while away the indolent, delicious days of no school. (This was decades before the age of over-programmed children.) I’m sure I read just about every juvenile SF title in our little neighborhood library, so I moved on to the grown-up works of Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Simak, Pohl, Bradbury, and the other big stars. SF was so compelling, so wondrous, that it comprised the vast majority of the literature I read until I was almost 40.

In fact, I managed to make a sideline of science fiction (and fantasy) after I became a professional journalist. I reviewed SF and fantasy books for both my college newspaper and the weekly I later ended up editing. Beginning in 1980, I served as the science fiction/fantasy book reviewer for the Minneapolis Star/Tribune newspaper. Over fourteen years I wrote up nearly 800 books. (For each volume reviewed I received the princely sum of $25, or about $2.50 an hour. Well, who ever said that wealth came with glamour?)

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