Back when I was in Middle School (6th-8th grade) I was one of those science fiction geeks. I still like sci-fi, I just don't have a lot of time to read it these days. But back then my friends and I were all into it- Arthur C. Clarke was our favorite, along with Asimov, Heinlein, you know, all the greats. We also watched Space 1999 and the old, original Star Trek shows on the uhf channels. And then there was the immortal "Science Fiction Book Club"...
In Concord, our middle school offered something called "mini-courses", a period when teachers could teach about something they enjoyed- gardening, chess, yoga, the Civil War, whatever. The "mini-courses" lasted a marking quarter, and a period was set aside for them at the same time each day, four days a week. Most courses were held either once or twice a week, so you signed up for several different mini-courses each quarter.
One quarter my friend Marc and I persuaded Mrs. Lewis, our 7th grade English teacher, to sponsor us to hold our own mini-course, called the "Science-Fiction Book Club". We arranged to use our Social Studies teacher's room to meet. The only problem was that we did all this after the printer's deadline for the booklet which described the upcoming mini-courses, so "Science Fiction Book Club" was not listed in it. Our course was announced, with several other late-comers, during morning announcememts for several days before sign-up.
When sign-up time came around, Mrs. Lewis's whole room filled up, and the she got up and said-
"We have two courses to sign up for here today. Everyone who is here to sign up for my "Word Games" course, please stay where you are. Everyone signing up for the "Science Fiction Book Club", please go over and sit at the table with Marc and Forrest."
And everybody looked over at us...
and nobody moved.
Actually, it all worked out fine. We had an entire room to ourselves for two periods a week for the whole quarter, and we both signed each other off as having "passed" the course the first day, so we just sat there and read Asimov and Clarke the whole time.
But I'll never forget that entire classroom of our schoolmates, mostly girls, looking over at us as we sat, alone at our table that afternoon. Bugs under microscopes have my profound sympathy...
I remembered that incident when I was unpacking a box of books yesterday and ran across a 1950s Sci-Fi magazine cover which expresses every Middle School Sci-Fi geeks real dream-