Reading Matters

Walter Dean Myers

In his autobiographical novel for young people, Bad Boy, Walter Dean Myers wrote of a world--1940s Harlem--that was markedly different from that of today. Most families were tightly-knit as was the community itself. Even so, it wasn’t a perfect place.  As he grew up his family struggled to get by, and, as he became a teenager, he became more aware of racism and how it could affect his future.

But during his early years, he didn’t think too much about race. He had friends who were white and black, and the woman he thought of as his mother was of German and Native American ancestry. The man who raised him, though not his biological father, was African American.  Herbert and Florence Dean took Walter and his half-sisters in to be fostered when they needed a loving and caring home.

Philip K. Dick and History Unrealized

The late Philip K. Dick's works were one of the strongest influences on science fiction writers in the first decade of the 21st century, including the fields of alternate history and paranoid thrillers.

Get Away with a Graphic Novel

Whether you call them graphic novels or comic books, adventure stories told with a lot of pictures are a fun way to laze away a hot summer afternoon. You can journey on the high seas with Greek heroes, go on the hunt for Bigfoot, outwit forty thieves, or find your own way in a Twisted Journey with these colorful tales. The CRRL has many from which to choose, but this sampling is a good place to begin:

Walter Farley's Black Stallion Still a Winner

“Alec heard a whistle—shrill, loud, clear, unlike anything he had ever heard before. He saw a mighty black horse rear on its hind legs, its forelegs striking out into the air. A white scarf was tied across its eyes. The crowd broke and ran.”

Walter Farley first imagined the Black Stallion, a wild creature of blazing speed and mysterious origins, when he was a teenager and high school track star in 1930s. He kept working on the story, sometimes turning parts of it into class assignments at college. After graduation, he began writing for a New York advertising agency, but he still kept working on his horse stories.

A History of Classic Science Fiction: Isaac Asimov

No discussion of twentieth-century science fiction writing can be complete without mention of Isaac Asimov, the biochemistry professor and visionary writer who was responsible for creating the popular characterization of robots and incorporating themes of social science into “hard” science fiction. His most popular works, the Foundation trilogy and the Robot series, are considered landmarks of science fiction to this day. 

A History of Classic Science Fiction: A.E. Van Vogt and E.E. "Doc" Smith

The period of time from the late 1930s to the end of the 1950s is commonly known as the "Golden Age" of science fiction.  The Golden Age was noted for the volume of science fiction produced due to the large number of science fiction-oriented pulp magazines and the depth of the creative talent involved.  Many of the writers working in this period established concepts that would have a tremendous cultural impact on their readers.

A History of Science Fiction: Ray Bradbury & Arthur C. Clarke

Over the course of the twentieth century, many authors have emerged to define the popular perception of science fiction. These authors have created some of the most-read science fiction works and continue to have an enormous influence on the science fiction world to this day. It is the work of these authors that has made the genre into a more diverse and critically respected field.

A History of Classic Science Fiction: John Carter’s Mars and Flash Gordon’s Universe

The most famed and prolific area of science fiction is the planetary adventure, featuring strange environments, exotic alien races, and massive battle scenes. Many of the most popular science fiction universes, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, and Avatar, take place in these environments. Most of these universes owe their existence to the adventure fiction of one author.

Mysterious Admirers and Singing Spies

In the Kingdom of Dalemark, three kings have died without an heir. The kingdom has been in chaos for generations as earl after earl vies for the throne. Bloody battles have only produced a stalemate, and now the free North and the repressive South tensely await their next war.

Dragon Flame and Viking Steel

Sword Song by Rosemary Sutcliff

"Just go! A man with a sword need never lack the means of life--or death. If after five years you still live and you shall be free to return and take your place in the settlement again, it may be that I shall be able to stand the sight of you."
With these harsh words from his chief, Bjarni Sigurdson, a young Viking swordsman, is banished from his home.