Wednesday, May 6, 2015

My First Sci-Fi Novel

As an avid reader (who hasn't been able to read as much as I'd like lately) I have been asked by a lot of people what book was my first book, favourite book, favourite series. So today I decided discuss the first Sci-Fi movel I ever read.  (Warning: There are spoilers) (source for Pic)
My first book that I read in the Sci-Fi/ Fantasy genre isn't a typical book. My father is an avid Sci Fi reader, and has only a few series that he reads. He mainly likes stand alone books or those that end in a Trilogy. This doesn't mean that he doesn't read longer series, it just means he's very selective on which series he reads.

So when I started reading larger books, and I was getting past the more simple books like Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown, I asked my dad to recommend a book to me. The first big Sci-Fi book will always stay with me. I may not recommend it as a first book for my daughter (which I'll get into why) but I would totally recommend it as a second or third book. The book in question was Podkayne of Mars by Robert A Heinlein.

Pic from HERE
Podkayne of Mars is a fun book about a girl (Podkayne Fries) from Mars who would like to become the first female Starship captain. In the book her and her brother end up going on a trip with her Uncle, a diplomat, through space. While on this journey the two kids become targets by those who are against her Uncle. When Clarke (Podkayne's brother) gets captured by an opposing political faction trying to blackmail their Uncle, Podkayne decides that she should rescue him, which results in her capture as well.

Now the ending is where I went wrong. Upon researching it, now it appears that there is a "newer" version of Podkayne of Mars where (due to complaints by the publishing company) Robert A Heinlein had changed the ending. The ending I read was the original... Podkayne and Clarke try to escape but forget about a bomb. Podkayne remembers the bomb and goes back to save a fairy baby, when the bomb goes off she shields the baby, dying in the process.

As a 12 year old kid reading something heavy for the first time I remember reading the ending of the book before bed. I remember being so upset that I went down to my dad crying. Now it seems kind of funny but at the time I was not happy at all that this girl, who I care about because the book it written in a style as if you are reading her diary, dyes at the end. The ending is written from her brother's perspective. He tells the diary that she died and that he will be raising the fairy baby for her.

In the alternate ending I guess she doesn't die. (So if you read this book you may not know the original ending) She is seriously injured by the blast but she will recover in time. Her brother still writes the final ending of the book regretting his actions and still stating he will raise the Fairy for her.

This book is a book of it's time. Original publication date is 1963 when there was no concept that the future would have such leaps and bounds in rights and equality. I will warn you, you may find that they book is a little chauvinistic. Podkayne would like to be the FIRST female Starship Captain. Her brother is a bit of a terror, who seems to lack any remorse. In the change of ending their Uncle blames the children's parents, but mainly their mother, for the maladjusted Clarke. Stating that she shouldn't have given priority to her career, believing Clarke would have been less of an issue if she had stayed home with him. I always find this fascinating in books: how often a sentiment of the time becomes a relevant part of a novel. I think, if you read the novel, Clarke's issues are often typical, and a result of the son getting more free reign then he deserves.

Aside from the very stereotypical 60's attitudes at times I will always love this book. It will always be the first Sci-Fi book I read. It will always be the first time I truly cried over the death of a character. I strongly recommend it as an interesting read.

Until next time.
Keep on, Geekin' on.