#10 – Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott
#9 – The Island of Doctor Moreau, H. G. Wells
#8 – Spider-Man, Stan Lee & Steve Ditko
#7 – Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
#6 – The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
#5 – The Writer’s Art, James Kilpatrick
#4 – Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop I, Barry Longyear
#3 – The God’s Themselves, Isaac Asimov
#3 – The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
I read The Gods Themselves over the period of one day while on summer break and while sitting out in my back yard. I was maybe 11 or 12 years old, or in other words at the very beginning of my own personal golden age of SF. To be honest, as I type this I barely remember the actual story told in this book. I need to read it again. What I remember about it was that it had lots of scientific-y stuff in it (which, as a pre-geek, I was definitely interested in), and that it made me think about gender and family in ways that I hadn’t considered them before. In that light, I’m pretty sure it was the first time I had really considered gender for what it is (or isn’t). I wish I could say that it totally changed how I behaved around gender, but that would be, well, incorrect. That too a lot longer, and is still basically and most probably forever a work in progress.
All I can really say for sure was that I walked around for a few days after reading it thinking about what a massively far-out thing that book was (hey, it was the early 70s, man), and that it was really pretty cool that someone could think outside the box like Asimov had. What a concept, eh? A real “grown-up book” that contained what many folks would consider ridiculous ideas but treated them as if they were serious things. Not like a comic book. Not like the twilight zone. Just a thing.
So, how did this work influence my writing? Well, perhaps this is obvious by now, but this was the first piece of literature I stumbled upon that made me realize what Science Fiction was able to do. It allowed for the idea of thinking about the “what if?” side of things. Because of that, it is almost certainly the work that was initially responsible for me turning my attention to science fiction to begin with. No The Gods Themselves, perhaps no “Stealing the Sun.” You never know.