Friday, October 01, 2010

Space in my head

I'm reposting some of my favorite oldies while I'm partying in Northern California with friends. This is from April 9, 2007:

Going through some old files I ran into the oldest story of mine I still have, a science fiction short called "Zero Hour." Many more of my stories went the way of all things over the years. It seems that some of us--me, in particular--put no value on much of our pasts, and let a lot of it get away from us.

Based on the handwriting I was probably in fourth grade when I wrote it, about 1955 or 1956. It isn't necessary to read past the first page to see where the story is going. Joe McLenen (sic) is checking out some "intsurements" on the rocketship SP-12. The dumb "enginner" wasn't "carefull" and slammed the hatch on poor Joe. Joe compounded his problems by slipping on some "greese" and falling.

I can say something for "Zero Hour," reading it 51 years later: it has a beginning, a middle and an end, which means I was already familiar with plots and story structure. It also showed my early interest in space, rockets, trips to the moon and even beyond.

I was a solitary kid, just as I am a solitary adult. I have lived most of my life in my head. If I'm awake I'm dreaming up stuff and when I'm asleep I'm dreaming of stuff to dream up. I used to read books on the future and talk about space and rockets a lot. So much so that when my third grade teacher saw me in the hall during my fourth grade year she said to me, "I thought you'd be on Mars by now."

I wasn't on Mars, but Mars was in me. I read everything I could on the subject of the solar system and knew as much as anyone about the then-current knowledge of the planets.

One Saturday morning last year my brother and I were having coffee. We both said that in some ways we didn't regret getting older because it meant he had lived through some important parts of the Twentieth Century. The thing that stuck out most in his mind was the moon landing on July 20, 1969. It was one of my Top Ten life-moments, too.

It seems that as a species we made that giant leap, and then have gone back to taking baby steps on our way into space. Of course, as I watch the days dwindle down to a precious few, as the old song says, I get less patient. I want to see people boldly go where no one has gone before!

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