Rereading an early sf favorite

The late, great S.J. Perelman wrote a series of marvelous essays under the rubric “Cloudland Revisited,” in which he reread books or rescreened movies he’d loved as a child or young man. His reactions to revisiting these cherished icons often surprised him. You can do no better than to look up a few of these pieces–I’m especially fond of “It Takes Two to Tango, But Only One to Squirm,” which recounts the experience of watching The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse after many years.

Just last week, courtesy of Interlibrary Loan, I revisited a puffy little cloud of my own.

After discovering sf in the 5th grade I tore through every science-fiction book in my school library. One was The Star Seekers, by Milton Lesser (the sf pen name of Stephen Marlowe, who wrote mysteries). I may have read it twice, because a few scenes remained vivid. It was my first exposure to the gen-ship premise: the story of a young man who sets out to explore his world, only to learn that his world is not what he thinks it is.


So I picked up the book at my branch library, poured myself a foaming flagon of Diet Mountain Dew, and set out to tread once more the path followed by young Mikal, the hero. Turns out I had remembered the Hero’s Journey pretty accurately but forgotten a lot of tedious stuff, such as the author’s frequent scorn-heaping on candy, soda, and TV. (He didn’t say anything about Diet Dew.) Nor had I realized as a kid that the “science” part of this particular science fiction novel is pretty shaky.

The Star Seekers didn’t hold up as well as other early favorites that I still love, including Jack Vance’s Vandals of the Void and Dan Wickenden’s The Amazing Vacation. Still, it was fun to read it again, and thanks to Interlibrary Loan I didn’t have to pony up $75 to buy it online.

2 thoughts on “Rereading an early sf favorite

  1. admin

    I’ve got several copies of Big Planet. An ancient Ace paperback from the 50s, the Gollancz trade paper edition of 1978, and the “as the author intended it” version included in the six-volume CVIE. I might be willing to lend you the Gollancz in my own version of Interlibrary Loan. 🙂

  2. John Brennan

    An early favorite of mine was “Big Planet” (no italics on comment block) by Jack Vance. I’d like to read it again, but can’t find a copy at the library.

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