by Kristen Saunders
I read Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in the sixth grade and horribly failed the accelerated reading test. That particular AR test was set up to fail; it revolved around what bodies of water the Nautilus was in and when. Heinlein and Herbert were introduced to me last year, and I’ve only read one of each of their books. Neither being their most popular pieces. I guess I developed a tendency for fantasy without realizing it.
I haven’t been completely separated from the genre of sci-fi. I’ve watched science fiction movies and television shows for years. Sitting on the couch nestled under warm blankets watching Star Trek with my mom was a regular weekend ritual. I absorbed the story lines with relish and as a child would regularly take my hair band and put it over my eyes to mimic Geordi La Forge. I’ve always been a bit of a nerd and enjoyed reading, but I never really pursued science fiction in the written form.
The realization that I had not read these masters of the page came to me when we started putting together the Ray Bradbury issue of Penumbra. The first time I encountered Bradbury’s work I wasn’t even aware of it. I was at home sitting on the basement couch watching the movie version of Fahrenheit 451. As a high school student I finally understood why everyone had been so obsessed with the book. It was a terrifying prospect to me to go without books or reading, to become a drone that does nothing but watch television, and to watch those thoughts and words burn! I watched the film all the way through. Yet, I still chose not to pick up the book. I didn’t know who the author was, and I didn’t look for other works by the author of the story. At that time I didn’t see the point in reading a book I’d already watched. My mentality since then has changed, but by the time college came around Fahrenheit 451 was something that was in the recesses of my memory.
I wanted to understand Bradbury before I started work on his homage, so I sat on my very comfortable and thoroughly used couch to read his short biography and an excerpt from The Martian Chronicles. The enlightenment I obtained from this molder of sci-fi made me realize what I had been missing. For now, I have a lot of catch up reading to do to repent for my past reading sins.
Kristen Saunders is an intern Penumbra EMag. She loves to write science fiction in her free time and recently started her blog The Musings of a Growing Writer.