As a child of the Eighties, and a blossoming prolific reader, sadly I went through what many a science fiction lover had to face: the dreaded direct leap from children’s to adult books. I was a teen before the dramatic growth of young adult literature in general, and before the arrival of a distinct science fiction genre in the young adult age bracket. Not only was my library’s young adult collection a very short span of shelves that were closely guarded by vigilant adult librarians, but what little there was did not include very much in the way of science fiction. While I found–and obsessed over–Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, I never uncovered those other children’s sci-fi classics like William Sleator’s books or Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key (though I did see the movie, later!).
My first distinct memory of reading a chapter book was exploring Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong, Dragondrums, and Dragonsinger with my mom. Shortly after, I devoured the few Tamora Pierce and Diana Wynne Jones books I could find. My mom actually went out of her way to buy me more of these books when I couldn’t get them at the library. Those books were my gateway into a fantastical new world. I soon discovered, though, that even as I was ready for more, for a longer, more challenging read, the only direction I could go in led me to books like Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, McCaffrey’s Crystal Singer series, and Asimov’s novels.